High Holy Days (Helvetica)

Font: Helvetica

Year created: 1957

Personal experience: Used from the time I began typing my stories on the old ’84 Mac, probably around 1987 or 1988, until September 1993. I never particularly liked it, but I was too young to realize that I wasn’t bound to the default font. That, and I heard that publishers preferred something that looked like it came from a typewriter. (Yeah, that book had some outdated advice!)

Chapter: “High Holy Days”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 7 April-14 September 2010

Handwritten

I actually have two chapters with this title, one in The Very First and the other in my magnum opus. This post is about Part LV (55) of Cinnimin. It’s set from 20 September-18 October 1998, in Israel, Hawaii, New York City, and of course Atlantic City. It’s also one of the longer Parts, possibly able to stand alone.

So much happens here. Cinni’s daughter-in-law Ophelia finally snaps regarding her spoilt twins (her youngest children and only boys out of ten kids), a family vacation to Hawaii for a bar mitzvah turns into chaos, Ophelia’s marriage heads for the rocks, typical catfighting between longtime rivals Gavrilla (Sparky’s rabbi daughter) and her cousin by marriage Leah, and Cinni’s granddaughter Mancika starts her junior year of studying abroad in Israel with her beatnik best friend Ammiel.

Some of the many highlights:

Ammiel cringed at the applause. “Why do people always applaud when an El Al plane lands? It sounds so silly. People don’t clap when their boat docks.”

“I didn’t know your mom’s family spoke Polish,” Ammiel said. “I thought they used that hideous ghetto language Yiddish.”

[Ophelia’s Yom Kippur outfit; she’s almost a size 20 at this point, a sharp contrast to how slim and sexy she was in youth] Several buttons had popped on her blouse, so she’d wrapped a white silk shawl around her midsection. Her skirt was just several yards of fabric from the crafts store, a black background with ringed planets, sewn together into a semblance of a real skirt and held together with safety pins. For footwear she had frog slippers, not even having realized she’d left the house still wearing them.

Balázs let out a very loud scream and flung himself down on the asphalt before running back towards the building. “You suck, Mommy! You know I can do whatever I want because I have a penis!” [This earns him a public spanking in front of the synagogue.]

Serop gunned the car, desperate to get away from Zeevie, only to find the cop trailing after him again. He was furious when he was handed a second ticket and told he’d lose his license if he committed another traffic violation.

“What kind of a face is that on the eve of your only child’s special day?” Gavrilla asked, full well knowing Leah hadn’t been expecting her.

“Oh, Leah, are you so cynical you can’t grasp your own child’s father doing something nice for her and even putting in a personal appearance out of his own motivation?” Gavrilla asked. “Tisk, tisk, tisk.”

“We took the liberty of looking for disposables, and instead found some stuff you hadn’t even taken out of the box,” Gavrilla said. “Who buys nice tableware and then never uses it or even unpacks it? Maybe that’s why your pre-existing dishes look so worn-out, because you keep using them over and over again.”

Ammiel ambled down wearing black gaucho pants and a Roswell 50th anniversary T-shirt. Mancika was embarrassed by his casual wear but knew he wouldn’t change it.

Ammiel held up a few shirts. “Which one, Mants? The ‘Re-elect Clinton’ one, the ‘Legalize Cannabis’ one, or the ‘Celebrating 25 Years of Roe vs. Wade’ one?”

“I bet you have a stomach ache from eating too many of those candies you stash in your room,” Shafar said. “Your bat mitzvah project should be Weight Watchers.”

Alice stared. With every step Yasmin took, a drop of blood fell on the floor. Pointing, she loudly alerted everyone, “Look, Yasmin’s having her period!”

“Oh, look!” Skye laughed. “Yasmin stuck the tampon up her butt! No wonder you can’t find it!” [And she cut off the string!]

[Praying with Nashot HaKotel, the Women of the Wall] Mancika and Raina just rolled their eyes at the ultras who started yelling, unfazed. Raina had seen the Prime Minister assassinated; a few angry, self-righteous, self-proclaimed mullahs were nothing to her. Toni tried to concentrate on her prayers and block out the noise. These people’s opinions meant nothing to her; after all, they probably wouldn’t consider her de facto Orthodox conversion in Paris ten years ago to be valid anyway. They were with people peacefully praying for peace and unity, not divisive, hate-filled bigots who didn’t live in the real world.

Advertisements

Sweet Saturday Samples—Agnieszka and Ezra, Continued

My A-Z post for the F day is here.

This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples picks up where last week’s left off. It’s Rosh Hashanah 1994, and 18-year-old Agnieszka has been volunteering on a Haifa kibbutz with her best friend Lillian (a Western Hindu really into the hippie groove) since they graduated high school in June. Since before she arrived, Agnieszka has had a huge crush on the young director Ezra, four years her senior.

She was initially thrilled when Ezra made great friends with her, but now she’s started to believe this is too good to be true, and is planning to transfer to another kibbutz with Lillian as soon as possible. Ezra, however, has other ideas, and won’t dream of letting his mutual secret crush get away.

I’ve sprinkled in some of the pictures I’ve taken in Haifa and Rosh Hanikra for some local flavor.

***

She was glad when she didn’t catch sight of him in the crowds that night. She sat with an old woman who’d immigrated from Hungary in 1956, Ibolya, who’d come from Ophelia’s birthplace, Gyor. During the refreshments after services, he also didn’t make an appearance within her line of vision. Satisfied she’d eluded him, she left Ibolya and went outside. She would grab Lillian and as soon as the holiday ended on the seventh, they would apply for transfer to another kibbutz.

“You’re not walking home alone at night, especially wearing something like that. It was bad enough you walked here alone. Why did you walk away earlier?”

“Go back to your family. They don’t want a stranger horning in on their time together.”

“You’re not a stranger to me.”

“You haven’t even known me three months, Ezra. You don’t have a special connection to anyone so quickly. Real friendships take longer than that to be established. I am going to take Lillian and transfer to another kibbutz where the director doesn’t pay unwarranted amounts of attention to me.”

“I won’t let you leave. God sent you to Beit Alizah for a reason.”

“I’m no different from thousands of other volunteers.”

“Volunteer or not, I’ve never felt such an instant and intense connection to anyone on so many levels—spiritual, emotional, intellectual, psychic, you name it. Like I’ve known you for years, or in another lifetime. And if you do transfer elsewhere to avoid me, I’ll follow you. Something like this doesn’t happen every day.”

“What about your family?”

“They’re staying in a hotel.”

“You spoke to them in Hebrew in front of me. I barely understood a word you said.”

“I’ll teach you. You have a dictionary and four instructional books. It can’t be harder than Armenian, Russian, or Hungarian. But for now I’m taking you on a sightseeing tour. And then we’re going back home.”

Agnieszka took his hand and walked with him to the Mediterranean Sea, next to Mount Carmel, with the ancient city of Acre to the northeast. Further east was the snowcapped peak of Mount Hermon.

“And directly north is the white cliff of Rosh Hanikra, the checkpoint of our border with Lebanon. We built this land up from nothing, but these mountains and the sea have always been here. And when you see something that beautiful, you can’t imagine anyone else having it. They can look, but you know they’ll never love or appreciate it as much as you do, or feel such emotional connection. Something so beautiful can’t be given to someone who can’t appreciate it. And they mean something beyond just beauty.”

“You must be extremely proud of the land.”

“I’m not talking about the land anymore, I’m talking about you.” Ezra slipped his arms around her waist and kissed her, and Agnieszka melted into the curves of his body and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

He was very gentle and at the same time passionate. Agnieszka felt extremely safe in his arms, beyond just the fact that he’d just finished his army stint two years ago. He was full of love, compassion, and deep familiarity that hearkened back from another lifetime.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you lying asleep in your bed, but I restrained myself for fear you wouldn’t feel the same way. I guess this means you have feelings for me too.”

“Since I saw your picture in the brochure.”

“And you never told me?”

“I was afraid. But not anymore. You can take me back to your room and do whatever you want with me.”

“I respect you too much to sleep with you the first night. A quality relationship is built on more than that. If we’re still together at least a year from now and know this is leading to something permanent, and we both feel it’s time, then it can happen. And I may be mistaken, but aren’t you a betulah?”

“Is that your concern?”

“You are, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

“You don’t have to be ashamed of it.”

“I want you to be the first.”

“If things work out like I believe they’re destined to, I will not only be your first lover, but your only.”

Agnieszka could barely sleep at all that night, thinking about Ezra and how strong his arms were, how soft his skin, his electric touch. She couldn’t wait to make love to him. She knew she could never go back to America.

 

Daphne and Rózsika (Didot)

Warning: Contains some mature language.

(Quick note: I’ve bolded this post because Didot is a little light on the eyes.)

Font: Didot

Developed: 1784-1811

Chapter: “Daphne and Rózsika”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 10 June-18 August 2009

Handwritten

This is Part LII (52) of my magnum opus, at least per the current table of contents. (I now strongly suspect I’ll need to add a lot more to Saga I, the Forties, when I finally transcribe and begin editing and rewriting. Now that I’ve permanently shelved the WTCOAC series and will be significantly restructuring some of the earlier Max’s House books, I have much more free reign to show Cinni’s life in the late Forties, and the full development of her romance with Levon in 1942-43. Those things are just WAY too rushed in the original.)

I wrote this in a 100-page college-ruled notebook, and it’s one of the longer Parts of Cinnimin. Some Parts are more like short stories, long episodes, or novelettes, but this is one of the ones I feel could stand on its own as an actual book. It’s from Saga VI, the Nineties, one of my favorite Sagas to write. Though the older characters continue to prominently feature, I’m primarily writing about peers who grew up at the same time I did. I’m not doing historical research, I’m writing about events I actually lived through and remember.

It’s set from 8 March-6 August 1998, and so much happens over those months. It presents two cautionary tales about two teen couples who think they know so much better than everyone else about their respective situations. One story has a happy ending, the other a not so happy ending that only gets worse later on.

Cinni’s 16-year-old granddaughter Rózsika recently began having sex with her longtime boyfriend Walter. They’ve been caught by a number of their cousins and friends, and keep insisting that going unprotected won’t hurt.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Daphne is blazing ahead with her unpopular plans to marry her longtime boyfriend Berus. Even people who used to be on her side turn against her as her behavior gets worse and worse. 

Some of the many highlights (avoiding any spoilers):

Ernestine walked into her brothers’ room to retrieve a book she had lent John. What she didn’t expect to find was Rózsika bouncing up and down on top of Walter, both of them completely naked. Her shriek made both of them abruptly stop and dash under the covers, grabbing for their clothes.

“Are you really into the whole marriage thing, or are you just gung-ho for the fairy princess wedding and the chance to have sex without feeling guilty?” Phoebe asked.

“This isn’t funny,” Walter insisted. “And you two made me lose my erection.”

Daphne could hear their conversation from the airvent upstairs and was boiling. “Who the hell do they think they are? In two months, I’m going to be Mrs. Berus Amichai Roblensky, and they won’t be able to do anything about it then.”

[Spoken by Kit, of course] “The rig ain’t a homing pigeon. You have to guide it in.”

“Ew, Daphne must think all teen girls have the same lousy taste in music as she does.” Phoebe held up a Backstreet Boys CD. “I hope you kept the receipt so I can exchange it for something more to my liking.”

“This is Samuel Roblensky. I’m sorry to disturb your evening, but your granddaughter Daphne and my nephew Berus thought it would be neat to let themselves into my house while Filipa and I were away, help themselves to my food, and throw their dirty towels on my couch after they came back from the beach.”

“I can’t be expected to love him the same way you love Grandpa. I love him the way any girl my age loves her boyfriend, even when he humiliated me in public with that tiny cheap-ass cubic zirconia.”

“I’d recommend the Hitachi,” Juliet smiled. “It’s like ten thousand men at once.”

“Why are we being serenaded by CDs of MTV pop acts?” Kit asked. “If they wanted mixed CDs instead of a band or deejay, at least they could’ve chosen upscale adult wedding music!”

“There are five positions?” Karyn asked. “I thought there were only like two or three.”

[Spoken by Violet about her lifelong rival Kit] “I called her an old slut, not old in general. Anyone who’s this age and still bragging about her sexual exploits, giving X-rated advice, and sharing her entire sexual history is a slut. Damn, I hope I never share blood with that woman.”

Daphne reached for a bottle of alcoholic lemonade in the fridge. “The marriage formula of yore worked perfectly. Do you even care the doctor they gave me was my great-uncle Sammy? I’ll never be able to look him in the face again.”

“It was so humiliating, Grandma! He said I had no hymen or cysts or anything, but he couldn’t even examine me with the smallest instrument! He told me I just needed to drink wine and relax.”

[Describing Daphne’s efficiency apartment] Kit had been right. It was twice the size of that tiny stateroom in A Night at the Opera.

Crossing the Point of No Return (Calisto MT)

My IWSG post is here.

Font: Calisto MT

Year created: 1986

Chapter: “Crossing the Point of No Return”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 15 September 2010 onward (put on hiatus several times)

Handwritten

This is Part LVI (56) in my current table of contents for my magnum opus, and begins on 23 October 1998. I was writing up a storm on it, but I put it aside to write Little Ragdoll, and then had a whole host of other things I was writing and editing. I didn’t regularly get back to it for a long time. It’s hard to regain momentum after you’ve been away for so long, even if you still remember how the story was supposed to unfold. (I also have another chapter entitled “Crossing the Point of No Return,” in Justine Grown Up, but chose this one to spotlight.)

In Part LVI, a number of the teen couples leading the current generation get much more serious. Not all of them go all the way, but they all cross their own point of no return in regards to the path of their respective relationships. Leading couples include Oskar and Etke, Phoebe and Onan, Iósifa and Samson, Xena and Ollie, Randi and Perseus, Adah and Alyoshka, and Ivy and Chester.

And meanwhile back in Hawaii, Ophelia and Serop’s marriage is falling apart faster and faster. Though there’s been trouble in their household for a long time now, and their youngest children, their only boys, are brats with sky-high egos and attitudes, I never dreamt they might actually divorce or even separate someday. Ophelia chased Serop, four years her junior, for years, until finally, at age 16, he was won over. They were truly in love at one point. But having 10 kids, the first eight girls in a row, has its way of taking a toll on a relationship and one’s finances.

Some highlights so far:

“Don’t ask me why the rules changed.” Iósifa pulled down the front of her red halter dress to show more cleavage. “And I’m wearing strawberry-flavored lip gloss. I hear Samson loves strawberries.”

Phoebe didn’t own many sexy or even stylish, cute underwear. Vanilla had always bought all six of her daughters boring, utilitarian underwear, assuming they’d graduate to more adult styles when they were married and had someone to actually wear lingerie sets, lacy thongs, G-strings, or even cute patterned underwear for. Now Phoebe wanted to throw all those dull, old lady-style things in the rag pile or garbage and buy fashionable new ones.

Yehudah Barak came up to the door. “You can tell us, Onan. It’s just us guys here now. Are you masturbating?”

Isaac looked down at him in surprise. “Where’d a little sprout like you learn a pornographic word like that?”

“Yes, that was the logic thirty years ago, when everyone was married by twenty-one and the official stance was that only married people had sex.”

[Cinni’s 11-year-old granddaughter, who already knows she’s bi and polyamorous] “I hope you’re not jealous that I like Aviva more than you,” Dafna smiled. “You do know that when we’re old enough to date, both of you will have to share me.”

“What about classics?” Dora asked. “It’d be nice to watch an old film without the twins wrinkling their noses and saying, ‘Ew, a gray movie!'”

[Phoebe] “Don’t you think this stuff is disgusting, Liv? Old ladies and nerds wear this stuff, not high school or junior high girls. These should be cleaning rags.”

“Trust me, what we wear sucks. If Onan ever saw that stuff, he’d think I were a loser. I bet Liam would laugh at you too.”

“More than bland! Why make an effort to wear nice outfits and do your hair and makeup if you’re just going to wear bras and underwear suit for our great-grandmas? It’s like matching a baseball cap with a wedding dress.”

Rózsika laughed. “I”m sorry, but is this the same Onan who still plays with Legos? And he thinks kissing is babyish?”

“I didn’t even look for them,” Dora said. “And I might get in trouble if I let minors watch porn or erotica. Raspberry Ann says a lot of porn nowadays is unrealistic and boring anyway.”

“Nice turn signal, Grandma!” Dora shouted at an old lady going at least twenty miles below the speed limit. “You’re such a good driver!”

Dora glared back at someone belligerently honking. “Just for that I’m staying put till the light changes. We don’t have right of way.” She rolled her eyes as the car cut around them and made a turn dangerously close to oncoming traffic.

Sweet Saturday Samples—Agnieszka and Ezra

This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples is from Saga VI, Children’s Children, of my magnum opus Cinnimin (which will end up as one book in 12 volumes, all of it bar the opening and finale handwritten). It’s now September 1994, and Cinni’s granddaughter Agnieszka is volunteering on a Haifa kibbutz after high school.

Agnieszka has had a huge crush on the young kibbutz director, Ezra, since she saw his picture in the brochure, but now she’s starting to feel like she were dreaming if she ever thought she stood a chance with someone so handsome, who’s not a virgin, from a different culture, and four years older. Her cousin Toni and her friends Lillian, Raina, and Nate are trying to tell her they think Ezra likes her back and not to be so quick to rule out romance, but Agnieszka has made up her mind to leave with Lillian as soon as Rosh Hashanah is over. Her plans, however, are soon derailed when Ezra finds out about them.

***

Lillian had just changed her hair color to peach and was looking through the yellow pages for tattoo parlors. Then Ezra came into the room looking for Agnieszka.

“Isn’t it just a little bit odd for a kibbutz director to pay so much attention to a volunteer?”

“With any luck, she won’t be a volunteer forever. Third time’s the charm. I want her to meet my parents. They came here for Rosh Hashanah, and my brother Alon.”

“Did you know Agnieszka goes to services at your synagogue? She told me and Toni she’s seen you there.”

“She goes there with some of my residents?”

“There and back, alone. You’re the only resident who gives us the time of day.”

“I can’t let that continue. She could be raped or killed walking alone at night. Nobody would dare harm her if they saw who her escort was.”

“Yes, she’s always talking about how well-built you are, like a Greek god. I’m sure everyone notices it, but it’s sure made an impression with her.”

“Does she say anything else about me?”

“She’s my second-best friend after my cousin Crystal. I can’t betray her confidences.”

Agnieszka came into the room wearing a low-cut blue silk dress. Ezra turned into one huge smile.

“You’re even more beautiful than usual. I’m going to insist you walk with me tonight. I don’t want some lowlife to rape or murder you. My parents and brother are here till the holiday ends on Wednesday night, but they’re staying in a hotel. I can walk you back to Beit Alizah tonight without them. I’d also love to show you some of the scenery at night.”

“How many directors are that nice to volunteers? Out of all the current volunteers, you’ve picked me.”

“I felt an instant connection to you. Like déjà vu. And you’re also beautiful.”

“I’ve never had a problem walking alone at night. And you’ve only known me for two and a half months.”

“I hope I get to know you for the rest of my life.” Ezra took her by the hand and led her into the main house, where his king-size room was located. “I want you to meet my family. That’s my fifteen-year-old brother Alon, and my parents Talia and Dov.”

“Is this your girlfriend?” Alon asked in Hebrew.

Confident that Agnieszka only spoke English, Russian, Armenian, German, and Hungarian, Ezra spoke back to them in his native tongue. “She’s a volunteer from America, in Atlantic City. She’s here with her friend Lillian for two years, and I fell in love with her the moment I saw her sleeping her first morning here. Tonight I’m going to tell her how I feel.”

“A volunteer?” his mother pestered. “There are no women in the city, or other residents?”

“That’s why it’s so strange. I can think of no other reason why I’d feel such a connection to a volunteer besides she was divinely sent here. I think she’s a keeper!”

“You’ll probably be rejected again. I’d be highly surprised if she cares for you enough to remain here and not go back to her life in America.”

Agnieszka walked out of the room into the evening. She didn’t care that Ezra walked after her trying to get her to come back. Nobody had ever heard of a director lavishing so much attention on a volunteer. It was too good to be true. She had nothing over a local girl. Perhaps he even had an ulterior motive, like Pete had for being nice to Octavia. The thought repulsed her.