SOLSC 2012

So Interesting: Conversations with Eileen & Slice of Life Tuesdays on Wednesday

Morning Friend and Friends,

So sorry I’m a bit late, but I needed to wait and digest a bit.

I have been supervising student teachers since I stopped teaching full-time and I’ve had amazing student teachers and then of course, the challenges ūüôā Right now I’m in one of those challenging experiences and I am still loving it because I keep growing too.

One side bonus is the adventure of meeting and working with cooperating teachers in schools I have never visited.

My current ¬†student teacher is in his second placement at a private school on top of a mountain overlooking the Hudson River. WOW, what a gorgeous spot and how crazy, I didn’t bring my camera. ¬†Next time, I promise.

My student teacher is an undergrad from Korea, so English is his second language like at least  50% of the students who attend this school.  So here, all teachers have to be ESL teachers no matter what their subject.  My guy suffered through his first placement  at a traditional high school, working with an excellent teacher teaching 11th grade juniors.  Now in a school with smaller classes, working with students who are very much like him, he is still challenged.

Conclusion: teaching is tough no matter what and who you get to teach.

For me, even though one semester is too short for a student teaching experience, I love moving along with the new teachers who fall into my lap ūüôā



Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 2 Comments

9/11: Conversations with Eileen SOLT

Morning Friend,

I have Morning Joe on in Tuvia’s dark living room and we are remembering our 9/11 mornings. ¬†¬†Where were you?

I had just finished my first class of the day and as my new 8th graders left the class probably Ray, who sat in the row by the windows, given that I had them in alphabetical order, was off and on to the rest of his day in his new school.

As the last kid disappeared into the hall racing for ¬†period 2 ¬†I made my way down the side stairway near my room and into the ¬†main office to empty my mailbox and ¬†take a morning stroll through the office. ¬†For some reason a large school TV had been set up and turned on in at conference area and a few teachers were stopping by, watching a scene at the Twin Towers. ¬†I strolled over as the second plane hit, ¬†chuckling¬†at the absurdity of the scene until it wasn’t absurd as the towers began to crumble.

I didn’t think about Ray then. ¬†I didn’t know that as his dad dropped him off ¬†by the entrance to my classroom, that ¬†he was on his way to work in a tower high above the plaza and we had just watched his tower crumble.

I’m thinking about Ray this morning and every 9/11 since that first one. ¬† I think about his mom and his sister who also made her way into my 8th grade English class years later. And their mom… All sweet people who wake up on this day and remember…

Ray never talked about his loss.  He was out of class for a few days, but not many.  His classmates were gentle but he seemed to continue without any show of emotion and I followed his lead, never asking him directly but checking in with Rick, his guidance counselor and some of his other teachers.  He was a quiet kid who did his work, maintained high grades and had a nice set of friends.  I let him be but I think about him.

Every year after to commemorate the experience I read Billy Collins poem, The Names with my students.


Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in a green field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.


As I read the poem aloud I whispered Ray’s last name ¬†near its end.

What is he doing today?

Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Back Home: Conversations with Eileen Day 106 & SOLT

Morning Eileen and fellow Slicers,

I am up and the home is humming.  Windows are open and my sad planters, filled with dead remnants of this crazy July heat wave are gone way too soon.   I do have some survivors and they are now soaked with life and trimmed down.

And ¬†so begins the next chapter of my life without the early morning calls to my mom, actually the calls home continue but now when my dad answers the phone it’s quiet in his house and he isn’t passing to phone away to my mom. ¬†He won’t be doing that ever again.

It’s been strange. ¬† It was a whirlwind of two weeks from the time my mom took her last fall, was raced to the hospital, went through an operation on her hip and spent the next week fading away from us. ¬†One week of visits to the new hospital near Middletown, sitting and watching her decline, my dad helpless.

And the whirlwind continued through the funeral, the Shiva period, the race to arrange the trip to Israel for Maya’s wedding,, pack and get on a plane just two weeks after the decline had officially begun. It was fast and I was strangely unemotional, just trying to keep it all straight, just the little things, like worrying about packing time, even though when it came time to fill the suitcases, I had no problem.

And the week in Israel with our whole family and the events leading up the wedding, time with Israeli friends and family from Tuvia’s side and of course the wedding event and it all felt… strange, for lack of a better word. ¬†I watched my dad feeling torn between joy and deep sadness. He was treated with great respect but it was hard for him to take it all in, digest it because someone was missing.

And now I’m home without work this week. ¬†Just time to be back with Tuvia and settle into life without my mom.

It’s the little, life things that hit you the hardest.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 16 Comments

Last Slice for this March SOLCS 2012 But It’s Day 5 for CWE

Morning my Friend and Slicers,

I am up later than usual but then last night, after a showing of The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed, as did Tuvia(surprise for both of us) we came home and I collapsed into bed and remained there until a hour ago with chills. And after hours of sweating and sleeping they could be gone.  So far, so good.

I did what I needed to do yesterday.  I picked up the phone and punched in your numbers and spent the next 20 minutes in a wonderful conversation with Andy, catching up with him and sharing our first week without you.

I loved hearing about the way he got up early on the day after the funeral, took along your brother and with a few folding chairs thrown into his truck made his way to your grave site and sat down, campfire style and chatted and sat quietly.  I love that and I will join him one day soon.  Of course I will have my camera with me to capture moments I want to remember and share here.

Over this past year I have been visiting you and Andy and anyone else who has been at the house.  But Andy has been your right hand and I have gotten to know him better and better and while I wondered how I might continue to stay connected to you, I know now that our bonds are firm.

And I am so happy that you know that a new baby will arrive sometime in November.  What a gift!

Anyway, this morning it feels hard to write this slice, maybe because it’s the last one for the March 2012 marathon and tomorrow when I click publish I won’t be linking my Slice to the Two Writing Teachers blog but I will keep writing until your stone will appear at your grave in the tradition that I have revised with this commitment to writing daily.

I am running low now on energy so I will say bye for now…


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 7 Comments

A Wild March, Documented: SOLSC #30 CWE Day 5



Morning Friend,

As we come to the end of March our Slicing Marathon and I’m using this Slice to consider the experience. ¬†How about coming along with me?

I was just packing for Aruba as the first Slice reminder came to us from Stacey and as I writing my very first entry late on the last day of February on my Digital Bonnie blog I got a notice that I had been hit by something evil.  Good thing I could save that first Slice and move right to my blkdrama blog and as of today I have my Digital Bonnie back up and clean.

Still with me, Eileen? ¬†I promise, that’s all the techie sharing for one post.

We were back in Aruba for the start to the March challenge.  Seems like we have been away for some part of the March challenge since we first began 5 years ago and that has made it easy and productive for me as a Slicer-writer.  Of course it does make it harder to read other posts and leave comments when the internet is not always at your finger tips.  But I did try.

In early March you were still holding your own with the usual ups and downs you faced from day to day but nothing life threatening so we left feeling that you would be okay and you were.  A few short emails back and forth and even though I knew things would be crazy for me when I got home you were status quo. It was a heavenly week but both of us were ready to leave two days before we did.

Back home, with a bit of jet lag, the Slicing continued as the pressure kicked in to get working on my Highland Falls video. I took the first weekend to get myself anchored and see you and my parents. ¬†Tuvia was able to take a look at you with his doctor’s eyes and I could feel good that I had him to share with you. He was very diplomatic when he rejected Andy’s all-natural liquid supplement and recommended Ensure with a doctor’s insistence.

I always wondered why you could not get the answers you needed from Sloan Kettering but Tuvia defends the state of medicine today. ¬† When he was practicing he saw 7 patients a day. ¬†Today doctors are required to see 20-25. ¬†That doesn’t leave much time to really get to know patients.

By Monday of that first full week home I was officially living with my 17inch computer and I was happy.  Just time for a guitar lesson and  a Slice and I moved away from the phone and the internet and I was in the ZONE, creating a new digital documentary using FInal Cut Pro X for the first time and with a session scheduled with Tom at Apple the next morning, I was making progress.

I did stop for a conversation with Andrea to get some political updates that did not sit well with either of us, but that’s reality. ¬†Many great teachers are afraid to open their door and go public.

Monday, Tuesday…great work days. ¬†Just a bit of time for Slices but nothing left for reading and comments. ¬†I felt so guilty when I got a comment and couldn’t respond.

On Wednesday I hit the wall, but I was getting closer to something finished. ¬†I did need to share it with Andrea before the Board of Ed presentation and I had a frustrating session at Apple in the afternoon. ¬†But at Tuvia’s, who provided dinner and respect for my need to keep working… was right there to view my first draft and HE LOVED IT...all 18 minutes…in fact he made me promised not to cut anything. ¬†So I thought I still needed to spend time at Apple the next morning…but at 3 am I was up and finding my own way to finish the piece and revise the day’s schedule.

Still with me??? Not too much tech here.

By 5am I had a piece that I can live with and with a few hours of sleep I was texting Andrea for a time to drive up to HF and share it with her.  I still needed  time to render this version but I was confident that this change in the schedule would work and that Andrea would go with the full 18 minutes.

At ¬†8 am, I am up and walking the apartment with a fresh cup of coffee, feeling almost good and the phone rings and it’s you…

“Bon, ¬†I have good good news and bad news. ¬† (Long Pause) ¬†We came back from the city last night and the cancer has spread everywhere: liver… all the soft organs. ¬†I am silent… She is silent. ¬†But you can tell Tuvia that the Ensure worked.¬†

Eileen knows what I’m thinking and breaks the silence.

Bon, you needed to hear this from me. I will keep you posted.”

“Eileen, I love you.”

We hung up.  I called Tuvia and he let me know that you would be gone in a few weeks, maybe less. Andy had some questions for him and called Tuvia directly and then Andy called me for recommendations for a Funeral Home for the service and a list of people to call when it would be necessary.  Good thing that over the past year they  had been planning for the future.

I continued on: another cup of coffee, shower, dressed and a check on my video’s progress. ¬†By 9, I was in my car on the way to HF to share my video with Andrea. ¬†I put on some music, clicked for something that fit my mood, found nothing, shut it off for the silence and beauty of the ride.

I arrived. ¬†Shared my news with Andrea. She understood. ¬†Then the video. A hit. ¬†I had a few tweaks to make and in an hour I was on my way to Tuvia’s for comfort and a nap.

The evening was a big success but I was in a fog, a sleep walker, always on the verge of tears.

That early morning conversation was the last one we had, even though I was hopeful that there would be another visit on Saturday.

I was up on Saturday and stopped on my way to celebrate my dad’s 91st B day but you were in the middle of a shower and Jen and Jim came down to greet me with a hug. ¬†I didn’t stay.

One more week of life for you.  A fresh week of Slicing where I could write mine and then read others.  Now I was speaking to Andy and the family was arriving and it would be impossible to see you with everyone there.  Tuvia was relieved that Andy would have help in this last phase of your life.

On Friday morning as I sat with my book club in the North Vale diner, Andy called to let me know that as the two of you shared the dawn rising, you shut your eyes and left. Andy’s voice was beautiful and I had my list now and returned to my girls for some coffee and dry toast.

Then the initial loss and my new plan to write these conversations as the Slicing for March ends…and this first week without you has been hard, ¬†really hard. I have had very little energy and ever-present headache. ¬†I was able to cancel half of my events and reschedule some to make this week easier. ¬†Yes, I have been to funerals but and watched others mourn but you are the closest I’ve come to losing an arm.

Good thing I had my Slicing Community to share this journey with.

My Slices will continue…

Eileen, you continue to be in my thoughts…you too, SLICERS!


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Conversations with Eileen Day 4: SOLSC #29

Morning Friend,

It wasn’t looking good just 15 minutes ago for a clear sunrise, but naysayers, take another look:

Ah, now that’s a much better way to begin Day 4.

I don’t know that I ever called you at 7:15. ¬†Way too early for an in-depth conversation about anything. ¬†No, I was ¬†usually up writing into the day and listening to Morning Joe instead of ¬†morning music. ¬†Right now Senator Tom Coburn is expressing his opposition to Health Care Reform and it’s probably better that you didn’t hear anything about the hearings at the Supreme Court for the last three days. ¬†You’d be shaking your head.

I’d pick up the phone after 8…8:30 to be comfortable and let the conversations begin.

One conversation that was very hard for you was the one that I might begin that focused on tech: some new gadget I was dreaming about, some issue I might be having on a project… You could listen for just so long and then I would know just by a short silence that you were ready to move on.

Well here’s the latest, ready?

I have the new iPad and my buddy Christine is the proud owner of my hand-me down original. ¬†Now I didn’t know this when the plans were made between us, but lots of family members and some friends would have loved to take the iPad 1 off my hands, not without cost of course. ¬†But somehow, I love it when I can pass tech on to Christine. ¬†She loves tech as much as I do but she is young and just beginning her teaching career and life in general, ¬†with her husband and it warms my heart to share with her.

So last night she took me out as part of her iPad cost to dine at my favorite restaurant : Restaurant X.   She loved it  and because it was restaurant week, got off a bit cheaper, which is all good.

Now can we talk tech without eyes glazing over?  So I know you would not be able to tolerate much of this upcoming conversation but I need to share just a bit about what I like about  the new iPad .

If you remember (probably not). ¬†I did not adjust well to my first iPhone. ¬†I lined up on the first day and with widespread Apple glitches, sat on that line for hours and hours…and ultimately, after the first two years, I turned off the phone and opted for a small old style that was ONLY a phone. it was okay and in the process, I started ¬†salivating for the coming iPAD…salivating!

And I had to wait for the best Apple could offer: iPad 3G, 64GS.  (Glazing over yet?)   I ran to my Apple store when the call came that it had arrived for me and in minutes I was a happy new iPad owner.  I loved it and took it everywhere for the email and internet I could have wherever there was a phone connection.

I loved it through the coming of the iPad 2, but by then I did reconsider my old iPhone.  I missed experimenting with texting so I took it out of moth balls and then I had duplicating service. So when the iPad 3 was unveiled and it was clear it would offer more than the 1 had, I opted for the version that was just Wi-Fi 64GS.

And I am not looking back. ¬†Christine loves my ipAd 1. ¬†Her husband can use my ¬†old white Macbook to his heart’s content as she checks Facebook, emails etc. on my retired iPad.

Its all good.

Just a bit more… hang on…

iPad 3 offers better cameras and opportunities to make content and the screen is gorgeous and even without 4g it’s really fast.

I like… I like… I just wish that I had bought some Apple stock when I wanted to 4 years ago just because I was happy to be the Apple community. ¬†But I listened to my brothers, both more experienced at the market. ¬†Even they agree THEY WERE WRONG!

Oh well.

ANd I just shared this with someone who lived for years with a iMac keyboard without a T. ūüôā

Enough tech for one conversation, right?

Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Conversations with Eileen Day 3: SOLSC #28


Afternoon Friend,

It’s been another long one and even though I froze for most of my visit in Eville, the sun is back out here with lots of heat to make up the last 24 hours of a more normal end-of-March.

On my way to visit with your family and friends yesterday my stomach was doing some usual jumping and as I sat just across the road, I caught the house complete with burbling brook.

Just outside, capturing the moment, breathing deeply and finally out and  pushing open your  door, everything inside was about you.

Andy, Jenny, Meryl, Madlyn, Mark…. more…friends everywhere… thinking, talking, tearing up to you.

Soon I could relax and enjoy the opportunity to catch up with Madlyn in your living room.

I’m just trying to adjust to this world without you just a phone call away.

This is all new for me, this territory of loss.  This first week I just feel vulnerable and often exhausted.  I just want to sleep.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Conversations with Eileen: Day 2, SOLSC #27

As one challenge comes to an end a new one arrives!

Day #27 for March Slices, Day 2 for Conversations with Eileen and the world.

Dear Eileen,

Yesterday I had that important conversation with my friend Sharon who like you, knows me, worts and all. ¬†Recently, Sharon lost one of her very close friends and in a few days she will be traveling to Mexico, to be with some of ¬†Diane’s other close friends as they find some closure. ¬†A well known photographer, Sharon’s poems and photos will be included in a tribute book to her.

As I think about it, you and Sharon have a lot in common.  Friends before I had Tuvia, gave me years to establish friendships without the time restrictions sometimes placed on friendships outside that central relationship.  We talked for hours on the phone, sat across from each other drinking coffee, even played hours of tennis in the heat of July and we were passionate about the same things.

With you Eileen, we talked family, politics, books, tech (when you let me), what we hoped for. ¬†With Sharon, our bond centered around our teaching at Pearl River High School and how we could merge art and writing and theater. ¬†On the same wave length, kids often called us by the other’s name. Now that we are both retired, our lives move in very different directions,but there is always time for a walk in a Rockland park with or without cameras in hand. ¬†Our passions intersect differently but Sharon both of you ¬†offered me a different mirror for reflection.

And now my question is how do I hold on to you?  

I’m sitting in the darkness of Tuesday, up 4 hours too soon, but then I expired yesterday at 9:00, leaving Tuvia to read in the kitchen. But tonight was a surprise night to be together. Usually we are on our own on Monday nights but when our weekly schedule changes we are very flexible. Today we will be on our own. ¬†Tuvia will dine with his family before they leave on Spring Vacation and I’m off to visit your family as they invite friends to stop by and support them through the first days without you.

I’ll be sitting in your living room, at your dining room table, in your living room and everyone will be there, except you, of course. I wonder how often I will be back at that table, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. ¬†How do I keep up with the family I know from your eyes, that holds you still?

Good thing that I’ve made plans to take the ride up to my town, see my parents, spend time with your family and then spend the night with my brother and sister-in-law. A good opportunity to hear more about their upcoming trip to New Orleans for the Final 4 and share more details about their daughter’s wedding plans. ¬†A good life balance: rejoicing in the past and ¬†planning for the future.

It’s almost the end of this month of Slices and I’m going to miss the daily comments and the rich Slices to read. ¬†I couldn’t read Slices every day but some days I could read with wild abandon. And I have my writing mojo back.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Saying Good-Bye Today: SOLSC #25

Since Friday morning life for me has been altered. I have been trying not to cancel events on the calendar.

We had dinner on Friday night as usual, with family, I played guitar with Mihael before we left.I met with our writing project tech team yesterday morning. Tuvia and I saw the Israeli film, Footnotes with friends in the evening and it was pleasant.

Everyone knew about my loss and approached me gently.

But I don’t feel the same. ¬†I guess I wonder, what’s next? ¬†When will I feel Eileen’s absence. ¬†I hear her voice in my head, letting me know just last Thursday, that the cancer had spread everywhere and one week later…just one week she was gone.

Is it crazy, but somehow I’d like a photo of something from today. ¬†Is that crazy? ¬†At the cemetery. ¬†I’m not taking my big camera, but I do have my iPhone.

Anyway, I wanted to put something down tho morning but I think the richer slice will be coming tonight when I can digest the reality.

Thanks everyone for sharing poems and  feelings with me.

Categories: SOLSC 2012 | Tags: | 14 Comments

Saying Kaddish: SOLSC #24

Yesterday as I living with my morning conversation with Andy, ¬†an idea started to take form in my mind. I’m not a religious person. ¬†I don’t go to a synagogue, I”m not even sure how I feel about G-d but as a kid, I did have a very meaningful experience learning to pray in our Jewish community.

For years I went to Shabbat services and sat with my rabbi- Hebrew teacher until I got kicked upstairs to sit with the women when I turned 13.  But the joy of prayer was with me.

During the service the mourner’s saying Kaddish would stand during the service to recite a the prayer with the leader and even though I was not mourning I stood too, following the lead of Rabbi Cohen. ¬†He maintained that those mourning needed our support. ¬†Even though my trips to the synagogue are rare these days, I always stand, supporting the mourners.

The prayer for mourning is a central prayer in Judaism and interesting that includes nothing about death or dying. ¬†It’s focus is on G-d. ¬†I still know it by heart.

So I’m thinking that I will say Kaddish for Eileen. ¬†Every morning, for 11 months, ¬†as I greet the day I will recite the prayer and spend some precious moments remembering Eileen.

English Translation:

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

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Categories: SOLSC 2012 | 10 Comments

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