Jahrzeit is a German and Yiddish word which roughly translates as “time of year” or “year’s time.” I use the German spelling because I’m half German and strongly prefer German to Yiddish, to say the least.
I guest-blogged with an interview at Unicorn Bell on Friday, for anyone who wants to check it out.
I look a lot younger than I really am, but believe it or not, I’m old enough that my lifetime briefly overlapped with John Lennon’s. He was taken away from the material world ten days before my first birthday. Sometimes my Hebrew birthday, the fifth night of Chanukah, coincides with John’s Jahrzeit, and that’s never a good feeling. It’s hard to believe all four former Beatles were still alive when I was born. That was such a long-ago world.
The first time I heard this song, in March 2000, it made me start sobbing uncontrollably. It’s just such a powerful kick to the gut, this raw spilling out of emotions. John’s first proper solo album, Plastic Ono Band, is hands-down my favoritest of his solo albums. (But of course, the average radio station will just keep playing “Imagine” into the ground instead of considering any of his other solo songs.)
It’s a long story how John went from my least-favorite Beatle to my favorite Beatle. For a time, I tried to pretend I had two favorites, John and Paul, but to quote one of Jerry Springer’s frequent Final Thoughts, “When you claim to love both, you truly love neither.” When I was seventeen, I was finally ready to admit John was my only fave rave. It just seemed so natural and right. I’m kind of embarrassed Paul was my original fave rave, based solely on his looks, but you can’t change how you genuinely felt in the past. It’s just part of who you were.
This song never fails to send a chill down my spine, as the “I don’t believe in…” declarations get stronger and more emotional. There was a time in my life, in my early teens, when I totally believed in his thesis statement of “God is a concept by which we measure our pain.” At the time, I considered myself agnostic/borderline atheist, but now I realize I was just really angry at Hashem and blaming him/her for how I was being bullied so badly and had caught chickenpox. You can’t doubt the existence of someone you feel those kinds of emotions towards, even if they’re not positive emotions! Shortly before my 15th birthday, I began the journey back towards positive faith.
John also eventually found his way back to a belief in God, though not in the organized religion way. As he said, “I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
It just seems right that John is still my fave rave, even though there are times when it seems like I’ve switched again and George has become my favorite. As much of a spiritual bond as I feel towards George, he’ll have to stay my favorite solo Beatle, not my favorite Beatle altogether. I still feel a connection to John in so many ways, and admire how he was so imperfect and made no bones about the fact that he wasn’t always such a nice guy. He struggled so hard to find peace with himself, positively impact the world, and turn over a new leaf. I’ve always preferred Grimms’ fairytales to Disney fairytales, since they represent reality.
Tara Tyler tagged me for the 777 challenge, which dictates, “In your current WIP, go to the 7th page, 7 lines down, and share 7 lines or so.” I’ve tagged Caitlin Stern from my Sunday Weekend Writing Warriors hop to participate next.
I’ve got two WIPs going now, the massive Journey Through a Dark Forest (which, Baruch Hashem, is finally only a few months away from a completed first draft and won’t go over 800K), and the old/new WIP I started during NaNo, And Aleksey Lived: An Alternative History. I’m going with the latter, and skipping just a bit past the seventh line since it’s right in the middle of a dialogue.
Alekséy rubbed the sleep from his eyes, careful not to pull on his delicate skin too much. “What are you talking about? Last night I had a horrible nightmare we were taken into the cellar and shot, but White soldiers burst in after my parents had been murdered. Can I see my parents now so I’ll know they’re safe?”
The soldier shook his head and crossed himself. “I’m truly sorry, Your Majesty, but that nightmare was real. Your parents are in the other world now. We were just too late to save them.”
“I’m very sorry, Your Majesty, but you’re an orphan. If only we’d reached this city and been directed to this damned house a little sooner, everyone would’ve been saved, but we can’t change the recent past.”