Archive for the 'new york' Category

religion and burgers

It was the first Rosh Hashanah in twelve years that I wasn’t on the bima, singing.

“Just so you know,” I’d told the midwife, many months earlier, “I’ll be leading high holiday services about a month after the baby is born.”

“I don’t think so,” she said, in her gentle but straightforward way.

The baby might be two weeks late, she explained. So then I’d only have two weeks to recover. But even if the baby was on time, a month would not feel like very much.

“Oh,” I said.

It was the first Rosh Hashanah since I was eight or so that I wasn’t even in synagogue. Getting to New Jersey, where my congregation is, felt impossible.


Instead, I was walking down the block with pink sunglasses on, disheveled, my baggy shirt falling off one shoulder. Bear was pushing the stroller.

“We have to do something special,” I’d been saying for the whole morning.

“Burgers?” he suggested, mostly joking. But maybe a little hopeful. 

“L’shanah tovah, Eden!” I kept saying into her little face. “Happy new year! It’s the new year and you’re seven weeks old and you’re a little Jewish baby!

She didn’t care about any of that.


(“Stop prattling and push my wheeled throne, cow.”)

And then there was a flood of Jews in nice clothes, coming from the local shul, the men still wearing kipot, some of them, and I fought the urge to smile at each one of them as they passed, to signal somehow, I am one of you!

And I was ashamed.

Which is stupid.

But also, I was reminded.

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Kate on September 9th 2013 in life, marriage, new york

i am one lucky cow

I am writing with my laptop balanced on one knee, tilted against a stool, as Eden sprawls on my lap, mostly asleep for a few hard-earned minutes.

This is her third diaper in about an hour. She pooped on my leg somehow. Damn cloth diapers. I put a disposable on her, casually contributing to the destruction of the environment to avoid poop on my legs.

I am thinking about Maine. I have never been there, but it is paradise in my mind. Maine is the land of milk and honey.

Not breastmilk, though. It shouldn’t squirt like that, but it does. I walk around, milk spurting freely from my nipples, cascading down my ribcage, unstoppable. I think of myself as a cow. Eden’s cow.

She cries— “Come here, cow,” I say in my commanding Eden voice, “Ready your udder. I require sustenance.”

“Right away,” I say obediently, in my cow voice. “Your cow is here, at your service.”

“I am displeased, cow. You are slow.”

“I’m sorry. I am just a humble cow. I’m not very fast-moving, like a horse.”

“Hmm. Indeed. Still, you annoy me.”

“Yes, m’lady.”

“Enough, cow. Feed me the milk.”

Bear and I imagine Eden as a bit of a future galactic conqueror and possible Empress of All Things. She will command great fleets of battleships, bigger than the Death Star.

wide eyes

I am writing this on a Monday morning, and I feel that I should be working. It occurs to me that this is the first time in a very long time that I have not worked for longer than a two day stretch. It’s been over a month now and there is still no time. But strangely, I’m not as stressed out about that as I expected I’d be. I feel just as ambitious, in the sense that when I contemplate my mortality, as I do with neurotic frequency, I think, “I have to write books! Then I can die.” But I don’t feel quite as sharply that I’m failing right now, or not succeeding enough. Or maybe it’s just that I’m thinking more about other things and so my potential failure doesn’t seem as pressing.

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Kate on September 4th 2013 in life, motherhood, new york, uplifting, work, writing

things that people apparently do

I keep not publishing this piece because it’s really just a big list and I’m a little embarrassed that I wrote it. But I wrote it anyway, and now I’m sharing it, because it’s the new year, which is about change, and I want to know how wherever you live changed you and didn’t change you. 

Things that people apparently do a lot in NYC, and I still don’t: 

See celebrities on the street (This is supposed to happen to people all the time. It happens to people even when they don’t live here and are just visiting for the day. I have lived here for over four years and I only JUST FINALLY saw Anne Hathaway in my grocery store. And that’s only because I go there a lot and so it was probably only a matter of time.)

Go to clubs where there are celebrities (I went to a club when I was 21 and I danced with a guy who was there with his parole officer. I told him my name was Ari Gold, because I thought that was the sexiest name a hot Jewish girl could have. Or, you know, a fifty-year-old Jewish guy. I think the hot clubs in NYC might be in the meatpacking district, but that’s only because one person told me she went to a club there. That’s how much I know)

Know the names of chefs  (I will get there. And then I will be cultured, at last. As far as I can tell most of them start with “Daniel” or “David.”)

(one of them founded Shake Shack and changed my culinary life forever in doing so. I should know. source)

(I basically just take every opportunity to post this picture. source)

Work out a lot and maybe even have a personal trainer (Yeah, that just doesn’t seem to happen for me. Here’s a post about it.)

Go to lots of parties, sometimes in some really rich person’s penthouse, sometimes where there are models (Maybe I just don’t get invited….Although I was once at a book party looking really out of place I’m sure and like halfway through this group of models came in and then they stood in the corner together looking uncomfortable and tall and shiny. I think that someone maybe paid them to come? Or something? But that was the only time. I actually ended up talking with one of them, and she had this thick accent– Swedish? Danish?– and she had to bend down to talk to me. She was nice.)

Get hit on on the subway (Once a guy on the subway said to me, “You Jewish?” and I said “Yes,” and then he said that he was Puerto Rican but his sister married a Jew, and he was OK with it, and we nodded to each other in kinship. But I don’t think he was hitting on me)

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Kate on January 2nd 2013 in life, new york

the only ones not laughing at a comedy show

I was really excited to see this famous comedian* perform. I bought the tickets a long time in advance and it was the first time I ever did something that I first saw advertised on a subway poster. I don’t do a lot of “going out” type things. When I first came to the city for grad school, my mom would call and beg me to please just get a life.

“Go out!” she’d say. “You’re in New York City!” And then, always, she’d have some suggestions that began with “Go to a museum! Go to the opera!” And she’d already done the research. “You can get a student discount if you show up early!”

She never said “Go to a bar!”

I sort of wanted to see an all-male stripping act, but I was too shy and I didn’t know where to find one.

(although the opera can also be quite scandalous! source)

Out of guilt, in the middle of the winter, I took a cab to the Guggenheim. It was the first time I’d ever taken a cab, even though I’d been in the city for months. Students don’t take cabs—they walk or take the subway. But I was being adventurous and a little lavish, so I took a cab. It cost about $6 and I paid him mostly in change and didn’t know to tip, but he didn’t say anything. I’m still viscerally embarrassed, remembering. Who doesn’t know to tip? What did he think of me?

It turned out that most of the Guggenheim was closed that day, for renovations or rearranging art, or maybe for vacuuming. I got in for free with my student ID and I walked very slowly around the base level of the rotunda, the only open area, trying hard to carefully ponder each of the fifteen or so pieces of art. I was going to make the most of this damn museum. For a while, a cute guy stood next to me in front of a painting with one black line on it. My heart beat a little faster, but then he walked away.

I walked across the street to the iced-over reservoir and looked at the world as my face froze. It was peaceful. I was glad I’d come.

The point is, when I bought tickets to see the famous comedian at the Barclays Center that just opened in Brooklyn, it was kind of a big deal.

And then I didn’t think he was funny. And then I got a little offended. 

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Kate on November 12th 2012 in being different, feminism, new york

I decided to have a baby

“What made you decide?” said my friend Brenda, on the phone.

“Um,” I said. I thought for a while. “I should figure it out,” I said. “I should try to think of the moment.”

It eluded me.

I could explain the reasons not to very easily. “Having a baby is like giving up.” I’ve never been into babies, really. Over the past couple years, I sometimes wanted to have one with sudden ferocity, but then afterwards I felt a little ill. Terrible idea! What about my life? 

She laughed. “There were a bunch of people in my high school who were pregnant—there was a class for them.”

“Yeah, girls get pregnant in high school and that means they’re not going anywhere. It’s a bad thing.”

“You’re not in high school.”

“But I’m too young for New York.”

What I mean is- I’m too young for my world. My friends. “Thirty-five is a good age,” they have been known to say. They are good at their jobs. They are going to get better, and make more money, and be more famous.

“Technically,” I said, “I’ve already waited over a decade. I’ve been fertile for a long time. I’m, like, biologically old now.”

Fertile is a funny word. It just pops into my head these days, now that I’ve decided to have a baby. Fertile. And I think of farm-y fields. And trees. I think of fruit, like on the cover of a book by Michael Pollan, not the fruit that actually grows on my parents’ trees in their backyard, which is delicious but spotty.

(boobs! source)

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Kate on November 7th 2012 in body, family, life, new york

I would appreciate it if people would tell me that my husband is hot

The owner of the tiny Vietnamese restaurant was very friendly. She spoke halting, heavily accented English that seemed not to slow her down at all.

“You spouse?” she asked us. It took me a second to catch what she’d said.

“Yes,” we said, together, “We’re married.”

She nodded emphatically, then gestured up and down Bear’s torso and squeezed his shoulder. “He very good looking. You lucky woman.”

“I agree!” I said.

Bear seemed uncertain how to react. “Well, she’s a beautiful woman,” he said, gesturing at me.

The restaurant owner looked at me. “Uh huh,” she said, willingly enough, but not as enthusiastic.


Later, she worried over him not eating his noodles and wanted to know why such a good looking man was trying to diet. I mentioned that he has diabetes, and she was suddenly sorrowful. Her father had gotten it at seventy-five, she told us. It was very hard for him.

“I’m sorry,” she told Bear. “Very sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” he said. “I promise.”

She laughed.

The food was good. I found myself automatically hoping that this little, outgoing woman with the round glasses and quick smile was having an awesome life. The truth is, not a huge amount of women have told me that my husband is good looking.

And it sort of bothers me.

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Kate on November 5th 2012 in beauty, marriage, new york, relationships

everyone is supposed to be exercising all the time

I grew up really healthy. It was weird, at the time. My mom grew her own vegetables and I was forever picking basil for pesto. We got meat from a friend’s family, who raised and butchered cows, and everything else (blocks of mozzarella, knobby carob treats, the occasional bagel chip, palak paneer) came by truck from an organic co-op. We didn’t eat sugar, we didn’t eat processed foods. Store- bought milk seemed pretty special at the time. Once, when I spilled it, I cried over spilled milk.

I mean, we were just a weird family. My mom is a La Leche League leader and there was always a circle of nursing women sitting around, with cloth slings, in my living room, or at the park, or wherever we were, eating chunks of watermelon in the summer, eating carrot sticks always, but not from the bag.

(like, this was going on EVERYWHERE. source)

We were super weird—homeschooling/unschooling, liberal Jews who didn’t watch TV. Not at all. No TV.

“Do you even have a microwave?” the kids at Hebrew School asked me.

I burst out laughing. Of COURSE. Who doesn’t have a microwave? Are you kidding me? What am I, Amish?

In retrospect, it was a fair question.

Now that I’m all grown up and living in Brooklyn, it turns out that everyone wants to be like my mom. Well, not totally. I mean, they’re not gonna go so far as to give birth in an inflatable tub in the living room and not send their kids to school, of course. But they want to eat like her. It is totally, epically uncool to not care about what you are putting in your body. They want to exercise all the time.

I rebelled by eating a lot of junk food in college and never, ever exercising (I’m a badass). My whole family exercises. My dad and brothers lift weights for hours every day, my mom used to, and now she does tons of yoga and pilates. I am the only one who doesn’t do anything. I have been known to flaunt doughnuts.

(i mean, look at it, it’s gorgeous! source)

But I find myself drifting backward into the future, trying to remember to always make vegetables, joining a CSA to force myself to make vegetables, spending extra money on grassfed meat even though it’s so much more expensive that it pisses me off. The one thing I’m not doing is exercising. I’m not. I’m not exercising at all. And I should be. Because that is what conscientious people who respect their bodies do. That is what healthy people do. They do yoga. They go running. They go running and then do yoga. They get off their goddamn asses and do SOMETHING about their heart rate. Sex doesn’t count. Does it count? Should I do it more aerobically? How? I pace when I’m on the phone. That should count for something. Once every three or four days, I do a deep bend, all the way over, to almost touch my toes. It’s like yoga, except it only takes about five seconds and I’m not actually touching my toes, because I actually can’t touch my toes.

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Kate on November 2nd 2012 in beauty, body, exercise, food, life, new york