Monday, April 11, 2011

Welcome to the Machine

Saturday night I got the strangest call - out of the blue - from a woman who lives in my neighborhood.  How she even came to my cell number remains a mystery to me (mostly because I forgot to ask her).  She askes if it would be at all possible for me to come to her house Sunday at noon for a few minutes. 

Now to understand - I have a paper to write on the United States post depression economy that, for some odd reason, refuses to write itself.  And I have another paper - a story to write for English class which not only won't write itself  - it refuses to even let me come up with an idea for it.  I have set aside the entire day Sunday to do these things.  Or at least make a nice dent.  So having to stop right smack dab at noon would suck royally.  So I of course, hem and haw and try to avoid this mysterious meeting with this woman who I barely even know. 

But she's very persistant, and you can almost hear the desperation in her voice.  What the hell right?  I accept.

So yesterday at noon(ish) I pull up in front of the address she gives me and I ring the bell.  This woman, let's call her Mrs. B, answers the door.  She leads me into the house.  It's big and quiet as a tomb.  "I made sure everyone was out so we can talk", she says.  I'm already getting that sinking feeling in my stomach that I've made a huge mistake.  But what the hell.  Though I make a mental note that the second she tries to come on to me I'm out the door.

She takes me to the kitchen and sits me at the table.  It's bright and airy and my seat has a great view of a nice backyard and some evergreen trees.  She offers me coffee (which I accept) and some food (which I decline).  Everythniog with a smile.  At first glance, this is one of the nicer people I've met in a while.

God bless her, she gets right down to it.  In fact the story is coming out in such a rush I can hardly process it.  Long story short - her daughter is showing all the signs of "at risk" and rebellion".  Once a good student, her grades are tanking.  She's hanging out with a terrible group (mom's words, not mine) and her sense of religion, once quite strong, is suddenly absent.

And I feel it growing inside me.  A twisted gut full of anger and annoyance.  Here it comes, my brain is saying.  She's going to ask you where you went wrong.  Tell me all the mistakes you made so my daughter won't repeat them.  Though more artfully asked - how can i make sure my daughter doesn't make all the dumb decisions you did?

Except none of this comes.

Instead she askes me to talk to her daughter.  To let her know there's someone who she can turn to who maybe went through some of the same things she is going through.  Someone other than a friend (who doesn't know anything), a parent (who she is rebelling against) or a rabbi (who she seems to have lost interest in).

I'm taken somewhat aback by this on two levels.  Look, the truth is I try to be little miss plays along when I am local - but the truth is I don't take great pains to hide what I am.  I'm sure the rumor mill has ALWAYS been abuzz about how Cymbaline is "off the derech" and a "rebel".  But still, this is a bit much for my brain.  Also, even if I did want to help, how could I really help anyone?

Why me? I ask.  There are organizations who deal with this kind of thing.  There are professionals.  I'm nothing but a mixed up, muddled up kid who is trying to work out her own head.  I'm not able to help anyone, I can't even help myself.

She gives me the sweetest smile ANYONE has ever given me in my life.  It lit the room up mch more than the giant windown with the light streaming in ever could.

I see you around Cymbaline, she tells me.  I see you shopping for your mother or running your errands.  I see how you interact with people.  I see you smile at everyone and have nice words for everyone.  I've asked about you too.  Not from the yentas who would say bad things about you, but from people who would know you better (though despite much prodding, she refused to tell me who these mystery supporters are - pretty damn frustrating).  No one has a bad word to say about you.  And that says alot to me.

Still, I protest.  So what, so I say hello to the checkout lady at the supermarket.  It doesn't mean I'm equipped to deal with a confused teenager.  In fact I'm not able to help anyone!! 

Just talk to her, she replies.  I'm not asking for you to help her.  I just want her to know she can talk to someone who she won't feel threatened by.

I really don't know what to say.  I'm sitting in this nice woman's kitchen, drinking my third cup (how did THAT happen) of her really good coffee, and I'm so far out of my league, I feel like I'm being asked to balance the Federal budget.

So I did the only thing a sane, sensible woman who has her own issues would do.

I accepted.


  1. Its really nice of you to have accepted. Kudos to that mom. Not many parents would do what she did.

  2. It's ONLY because of the mom i decided to do it. I spent alot of time yesterday afternoon thinking about how different my life would be now if my mom gave a shit enough to try to proactively help me instead of sweeping me under a rug.

    I'm thinking abt asking "Mrs B" to adopt me btw.

  3. Wow. Good for her on asking, good for you on accepting.

  4. Appropos of nothing - u have really cute kids Ezzie:)

  5. I give a lot of credit to that mom.

    @C, I dont know exactly what went on with u and ur mom, and its not my business, but have u ever thought that maybe that it wasnt that she didnt give a sh*t, but that she didnt know what to do? The situation may have overwhelmed her, and she therefore chose to 'bury her head in the sand'?

  6. Mo - My mom is satan's illegitimate spawn. She's just plain evil. She didn't bury her head in the sand - she simply didn't want to inconvenience herself with her messed up kid when there were other ones she could bully into submission. I take blame for everything in my life but she don;t get no free pass

  7. Thats real sad. It always pisses me off when u see parents mistreating kids, or not having the patience to deal with them. There are so many couples who wish they could have kids, would do anything for them, and then u have others who have, and just throw that wonderful gift away.

    One thing is, after reading this post specifically, and in general reading about ur childhood, I am sure u will be a wonderful mom.

  8. I certainly hope so - i want kids - but i know i can't bring kids into this workld until i am more settled in my head -

    oh and i need a man too.

  9. Oh, the time will come sooner than u think. U"ll meet the guy, and everything just falls into place.

  10. she's right you are the person to talk to her kid. and you accepted cause you know it too:)

  11. A kid needs someone to talk to. You don't have to be a therapist, just experienced. There are things you did which you probably regret, actions you took in anger which hurt only yourself, etc. Those are the kinds of things you can point out to a kid ---- what are you accomplishing by your actions? Is it getting you where you want to be or is getting you anywhere at all.

    You're a bright kid. You'll work through your life and come out better and stronger for your struggles and pain. Pass the ear around and stick your hand out to someone who reaches out for you. You'll feel better for it.

    I'm almost old enough to be your grandfather, and I just want to say, whatever you do religion wise, don't ruin your life as a "mentsch" too many people who are OTD go down hill as human beings. I don't think you're going there but don't let anyone push you OTD as a person. Live your life to the best and fullest of your understanding. The chips will fall where they will (hopefully in a good way). I've been near the road you are travelling, and have had many friends, friends kids, etc. who've travelled there. I am angered by that part of frum society which ties loss of religious belief with loss of human dignity.
    It sounds like your dad is doing the right thing, so you've got a plus there.

    My other caution is that you should not expect some knight in shining armor to take you away and make your life perfect. It will never be perfect. You hope for someone who will be kind caring and share your view of the world. Together you will work your life out hopefully happily. But, remember, it's you who will be half of that equation. It is, also, only you who will control whether you are happy or not.

    Go get em.

  12. Anon - I have no such expectations - I know the hard work i need to put in. I am not looking for a savior. Just my best friend. Oh and it would be awesome if he was really cute.

  13. I'm curious as to why this post is called the machine. (Or did someone already ask that in these comments I haven't read?

  14. Altie: With few exceptions, every post is the title of a Pink Floyd song or album (just another of my many wonderous quirks). Sometimes they do not fit exactly.