About Deborah

I’m a poet, mother, writer and administrator for a non-profit living in Los Angeles with my teenage daughters, Izzy and Amalia. I love the work I do. Working for a small non-profit, Whole Child Foundation, I get to see dedicated professionals making a difference in children’s lives first hand. My writing allows me to veer off all over the place, learning about a wide range of topics from documentary filmmaking to politics, poetry, art and much more. I’m now publishing work regularly on the Huffington Post and with MomsLA.com. With betweenpages.org, I write about a wide range of topics, but try to explore the creative process, up close and personal.

Ode to Crabby Teenage Girls

Ode to Crabby Teenage Girls

My girls are 18 and 15 now. So I’ve been wrangling teenage girls for a while. I can’t say much about the specifics of our life because that would be invading the girls’ privacy. I don’t want to do that and anyway, it would make them crabby. But here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. Homemade chicken soup is not as good as almost anything that can be microwaved or comes pre-packaged.

2. Asking questions like “How was school/your day/hanging out with so-and-so?” can make them crabby because you’re being nosy. I ask anyway. I’m a journalist. I tell them it’s in my nature to ask questions.

3. Similarly, asking about homework can be treacherous because it means you think they’re incompetent.

4. It’s always her sister’s fault when the floor or counter is sticky or a glass gets broken or the good black eyeliner has gone missing.

5. Their friends have problems. They are worried about their friends. They are also under stress with school and an assortment of life challenges. They don’t always want to talk about what’s going on. I noticed a big shift towards confiding more in friends around age 14. Sometimes though they just don’t want to worry you. They don’t know that their locked away silence makes you worry more. Try not to worry too much or take this personally. Taking it too much to heart will only make you sad and crabby. Call your mom instead. Vent and apologize for having been a teenager.

6. They are not crabby because of hormones. Just ask them. Go ahead. I dare you.

7. My secret: Sometimes I go on at home like I’m really fine and handling things. Then I get in the car and cry until 5 minutes before I arrive at my destination. Teenagers + divorce is a tough equation.

8. Before you head into one of those dreaded big conversations, spend a minute picturing your lovely as a baby or toddler. All pink-cheeked, curly-headed and perfect. I’m not sure if this helps during the conversation, but I feel calmer and connected to some bigger aspect of parenting than just another discussion about curfew, grades or the mess under her bed. That has to help, right?

9. They want you around. Even if they hole up in their room for long periods of time, they still want you puttering around. If nothing else to supply food. They really are reassured by your presence.

10. It’s okay to ignore the crabbiness. Just carry on as though they are just as chipper as you want to be. Wear your armor loosely. It’s good to know it’s there if you need it. It is hard being a teenage girl. There’s a lot to sort out. Helping them through means being calm as often as possible. Sometimes I really want the concrete markers that let me know I’m doing a good job. Those come, but not always right when we need them. Tell your friends and family about good things your kids do and make them promise to remind you when times get tough.

I Am A Ukrainian

I Am A Ukrainian

Maidan in Ukraine

My friend Ben Moses put this video together. It’s a direct address and appeal for support for the protests in Ukraine. The woman speaking took a big risk in filming this and speaking so openly. We read about Ukraine and other countries fighting for democracy in the news, but this video is one citizen’s story and sharing.

Please share this post and video. The story of Ukraine is, of course complex. The world has its attention turned to Russia with the Olympics, but there are real fears that once the Olympics end, Putin will turn harsh attention on Ukraine. The video below tells part of the story of Ukraine. Ben posted it just hours ago and it’s already getting thousands of viewers. Please watch and share.

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Selfies

Selfies

Amalia has informed me that I don’t do selfies properly. I’m not sure what she means by that and she’s cagey and squirrelly enough to just smirk, dance away and flat out not tell me. Please understand – I don’t do a lot of selfies. I hate photos. They never seem to look like I think I look. I don’t get the disconnect. Somehow it seems important to understand this. And for once, it’s not vanity.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately. Identity comes with assumptions. Assumptions about yourself and others. I recently had the privilege of being invited up to Esalen to take part in a five day workshop with the group Beyond Words. Beyond Words was started by Nitsan Gordon and brings together Arab and Jewish men and women living in Israel to work on conflict. Rounding out the group were a few Israeli-Americans, white Americans and a few Mexican women. It was a stunningly beautiful, open and trusting group. The trust was kind of breathtaking given the intensity of the experiences we all shared.

I can’t speak for the others, but I came away with deep questions about who I am, how I view the world and its people and what I need to do to be a peaceful, productive person on this planet. What is my role?

I became close to a woman named Marcela at the workshop. She gave me a grey stone that fits nicely in the palm of my hand. When I ask, What is my role? I feel like that stone dropped clean into a bucket of water. I don’t swim. I don’t exactly sink either. I settle to the bottom wondering what’s next. That’s how many answers I have.

At Esalen, I was the American. An American. I watched the State of the Union address tonight and was an American. But I wasn’t moved by Obama’s speech. What I hope for is a Congress that actually gets something done (aside from stripping away women’s reproductive freedom). Obama seemed to be calling for that. The speech fell flat for me and I wonder what it would feel like to be proud of the country I live in. Right now, I feel rather distrustful. The US feels too large and unwieldy for anyone to really manage and I’m not sure how we bridge our suspicious natures.

I have stories of motherhood that have me feeling good and also leave me scratching my head. I’m not sharing those tonight, but let’s all celebrate Izzy getting her first college acceptance.  Go Izzy!

American, mother. What else?

Poet. I applied to Yaddo for an artist’s residence for a couple weeks in the summer. I’ll hear in March. That would take my poetry to a new level. I’m like the kid on the playground, hopping up on one foot- Pick me, pick me! 

I can pull out thousands of words to describe myself. Some will be lies. Some will be true now, false by morning, irrelevant by next month. Which brings me back to the selfie. If I get just the right lighting, angle, shade of lipstick – maybe I’ll get the truth on my iPhone and understand something. If that happens, I’ll probably share it here. In the meantime, feel free to share your best selfie.