Author Archives: Ester Bloom

Aunt Acid

December 10, 2013 by

In Which We Dump Our Friends And Friend Our Exes

7222608894_798aea43ef_z

 

[Introducing Aunt Acid, Lilith's go-to advisor for the heartsick, the stomach-sick, the yearning to be free.] 

Dear Aunt Acid,

I have a friend that I’ve known all my life who has recently moved to my neighborhood. She thinks we’re very close but–over the years–I’ve been feeling more and more distant from her. Actually, tobe totally honest, she drives me up the wall with her endless complaining, ridiculous drama, and energy vampire ways. I’ve never done anything until now because it seemed too hurtful to “break up” her, and besides, she’s lived far away since high school and our interactions were somewhat infrequent. 

Now that we’re in the same zip code, though, things are coming to a head as she’s been initiating a lot of plans together. I don’t want to be mean, but I can’t keep pretending that we’re close. But I also don’t want to passive-aggressively fade away… in some ways, that seems even more cruel than a break-up. What should I do? Am I a terrible person? We’ve known each other since we were babies but I don’t know how long that fact should keep me hostage in a friendship. Help!

  • 3 Comments
  •  

Live from the Lilith Blog

August 27, 2013 by

Finding Jesus in England

photo (8)

photo by author

If Jesus really had come back, wouldn’t he stay a while? Set up a carpentry shop somewhere in Bethlehem and live quietly there, making pita and salad in his flat, showing the wounds in his hands to the little ones who crowd his door, and turning water to wine to serve the drop-in guests who have one quick question about Paradise?

My husband, my 11-month-old, and I are standing before a Christian children’s souvenir store called “Shalom: The Rainbow Shop,” in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. The baby is making noises like a raptor and eating her hat. We recently arrived in the British countryside from Vilnius, Lithuania, and are still adjusting to the transition from East to West. Kipling, that most English of poets, wrote, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” What would he make of this mash-up of religions, a display with the same blue-and-white china seder plate that my family has used for 30 years next to brightly colored crosses for kids?

  • No Comments
  •  

Live from the Lilith Blog

July 26, 2013 by

Here On Purpose

Ester Bloom

Ester with her distinguished ancestor, the Vilna Gaon.

My Fiction teacher and my Non-Fiction teacher are smart, funny, dark-haired Jews from Brooklyn, and here we are together halfway around the world in Vilnius, Lithuania, studying writing via SLS (Summer Literary Seminars). The bosomy, intellectual Litvak is our common ancestor, and she decamped for good reason—pogroms, pine forests, maybe the weather; after all, where else do you need to buy a fuchsia raincoat in late July? If this is mid-summer, I’d hate to meet March, but I smile because the buildings, especially in Old Town, are the color of morning light and fringed with flowers, because the stone streets roam like teenagers, no plan, twisting here on impulse and turning there, until they arrive somewhere, or don’t.

 A particular sign on a particular building on a particular street I find sometimes reads INTEGRITY. Fifty years ago, even twenty-five, this city spoke Russian. Now, when I walk into a restaurant, a woman who would be a model anywhere else but who is average here greets me “Hello” and hands me a menu that knows words like “sandwich” and “vegetarian.”

Everyone from the older generation is furious, the way we would be if our kids all took up Mandarin without teaching it to us, the way the French were when “lingua franca” stopped meaning “French.” A stout older lady yells at me for a long time when I don’t understand her. It seems to make her happy so I let her, and she lets me buy my Coca-Cola Light, which seems like a fair trade, and I say, “Spasibo” quietly so that she doesn’t need to be appeased and stop yelling if she doesn’t want to.

My husband Ben speaks Russian—he’s here, taking care of the baby while I’m in class—so he soothes bus drivers and kiosk operators and street vendors. Neither of us speaks Lithuanian. We both say “Achoo” a lot, which means “Thanks.” When one of us sneezes, the other says, “You’re welcome.”

A Turkish restaurant advertises falafel. Four glistening greenish patties appear on a plate with Special Sauce. “Achoo?” I say. Skepticism evolves into resignation—they aren’t bad, they’re simply wrong. The waitress asks me what falafel is supposed to be. “Chickpea,” I say. She shakes her head. “Hummus?” I ask. No. Two El-Al pilots cross their legs and look out at the street, amused. I shrug. “Chickpea,” I say again, out of ideas. “Okay,” she says. “I will tell the cook.”

As I leave, the pilots ask me, “Why are you here?”

“To write,” I say.

“So you are here on purpose?”

They are bemused, on a layover; they had never heard of Lithuania before landing. The local parents Ben and I meet in the playground—once the ghetto—are just as bemused: we are visiting Vilnius for two weeks? Why? I refrain from pointing out that they live here. They have a daughter the age of our daughter; they want to take her with them across Route 66. Her name means Sun, a daily plea to the censorious Soviet clouds.

Our daughter’s name means Cheerful. She will eat anything except baby food. When we order herring, she fights us until we give her access to the plate and she throws herself at it like a shark, smiling through brine. She will not remember Lithuania except perhaps her growing body will, that carnivore that only moves forward.

 


Ester Bloom’s writing has appeared in Slate, Salon, Bite: An Anthology of Flash FictionCreative Non-Fiction, the Hairpin, the Awl, the Morning News, Nerve, PANK, Bluestem, Phoebe, Zone 3, and numerous other venues. She blogs on culture for the Huffington Post and is a columnist for Trachodon Magazine and the Billfold

 

  • 1 Comment
  •