As the daughter of a man who died by suicide and the mother of a son who wanted to, my heart goes out to you. I read about your son's death last month and I have thought about you often. Tommy sounds a lot like my son, who turned 23 in December: kind, big hearted, focused, organized, dedicated, thoughtful, sensitive, and determined to do and be good. During the three months my son spent in a psychiatric hospital shortly after his 20th birthday, he also learned that he had to be kinder to himself, more forgiving, that it was okay…
Rep. Jamie Raskin
In Which I Learn, the Hard Way, the First Rule of Running a Book Club
By Debby Waldman
When the programming director at the Jewish Drop-In Centre in my hometown asked last fall if I’d consider running a book club, I didn’t hesitate, which I think surprised her as much as it did me. It’s hard to get someone to donate their time, and I suspect she hears no more often than yes.
Even though I’ve always avoided book clubs (I barely have time to read what I want — why would I agree to read something imposed on me…
Well, the 2020 list has proven to be something of a hit (by my standards, anyway), so I figured I’d share my 2019 list with you as well. In case you didn’t read the 2020 list, the story behind it is that for nearly 23 years, I’ve been keeping a list of every book I read. I try to read at least one a week.
I started keeping the list mostly because I forget titles and I wanted to keep track. When my mother (z”l) was still alive, I’d type up the list every December and give it to her…
When my mother was alive and still able to enjoy reading, I used to compile a list for her every year of my favorite books, which she shared with her friends and often used with her book group. Because I used to regularly review books for Publishers Weekly, People, and my local newspaper, the Edmonton Journal, I read many, many books every year.
By 2015, Mom’s Parkinson’s and (unbeknownst to us at the time) Lewy Body dementia and Alzheimer’s had robbed her of her ability to concentrate. I stopped making the list. But then a friend who belongs to a…
About four years ago, I visited an elementary school where the main corridors boasted six-foot hydroponic towers spilling over with lettuce and other vegetables. My host informed me that at lunch every day, the students ate salads from produce they grew in the building.
I had not been so excited since Ben and Jerry supplied the snacks at a concert I attended in 1989 and pretty much everyone in the audience was lactose intolerant except for me.
As a failed gardener who had once been advised to plant plastic flowers in my raised beds, I had long ago abandoned hope…
Why My First One Was Also My Last
In 1992, I held my first and only yard sale. I wrote this essay about the experience, but never tried very hard to have it published. I’m so glad I found Medium, because it’s giving me a chance to share this and some of the other pieces that have been sitting on my hard drive for decades. What can I say? I’m not much of a salesperson—which you’ll discover if you keep reading.
“I’m telling you,” my friend Betsy warned me when I told her I was having a yard sale, “all…
(or How I Learned to Love My Washboard Abs, Even Though They are Covered with Laundry)
By Debby Waldman
When my friends Kathy and Verna asked me to be their workout partner ten years ago, I wasn’t sure whether to be insulted, frightened, or flattered.
Part of my reaction had to do with the way Verna phrased the invitation. “You should sign up for Boot Camp with us!” she announced at a New Year’s Eve party. “We’ll whip you into shape!”
I was a classic endomorph even before menopause put the brakes on my metabolism, erasing whatever waistline I once…
Family Secrets: The Momzer
by Debby Waldman
Not long after my grandmother died in 1992, my aunt Freda and I went through her photo albums. The people in the frilly-edged, black-and-white snapshots looked vaguely familiar, although I’d never met them: they’d died or rolled away from our branch of the family tree before I was born.
When I pointed to a snapshot of an enormous woman with her arm around a slender girl, Aunt Freda said, “That’s the momzer.”
Momzer is Yiddish for bastard. I’d only ever heard it as an expletive, but Aunt Freda’s voice was matter-of-fact. This wasn’t…
I started making ice cream about eight years ago after friends brought me to a brewpub in Brooklyn where the menu consisted of cheese, meat, and ice cream sandwiches. The beer was OK and the meat and cheese were forgettable, but the ice cream sandwiches were a revelation.
Unlike the sandwiches of my youth — vanilla ice cream between a cakey chocolate substance that stuck to the wrapper and my fingers — the brewpub sandwiches were constructed from actual cookies.
The beer was OK and the meat and cheese were forgettable, but the ice cream sandwiches were a revelation.