So I’m a little behind with my Open Zion posts!

I try to post all my Open Zion/Daily Beast material here within 24 hours of it appearing over there, but honest to Pete, this past week, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve been writing for them and all, but my mind and heart were so thoroughly right here on these American shores that I was completely uninterested in introducing Israel/Palestine to the mix. It happens.

So today I’ll be playing catch-up, and MIGHT also post something else, after those three go up. We’ll see. One also has actual, factual paying contract work on one’s desk today. (No, I know!)

(It’s funny – I realized last night that if all you looked at was my front page, you would have no idea that I write about Israel/Palestine. Oh, #lulz).

Programming: Idk

I realized yesterday that it’s been nearly two years since I started blogging, and I’m truly proud that I’ve managed to post nearly every day since (and occasionally more!). I’ve tried to treat my readers with respect by treating this as my job, and as someone who doesn’t always have the best follow-through skills, I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create and maintain this space.

A big piece of treating this blog as my job has involved not treating it too much as a private diary — in spite of the immediacy and intimacy that are inherent to blogging, there’s a line I haven’t wanted to cross. The goal has been to be part of the process of inventing whatever it is that we’re replacing print media with, and I’ve tried to stay on the professional side of that equation.

Having said that, I’ve been open about my career struggles — the need for work, any work, and the desire to work as a writer. I do a very particular thing, one that’s hard to define and even harder to market: I’m an essayist and a generalist, in a time when essays are rare, and niche is king.

(Of course, I do have a niche — Israel/Palestine — but if there is a single niche in American nonfiction that suffers a surfeit of material, it’s Israel/Palestine. I could argue that a lot of that material isn’t very good, or is too partisan, or repeats what’s been said a thousand times before, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who has something to say about the conflict. So, sure I have a niche. But it’s very crowded).

Since undertaking this venture, I’ve had good days and bad. It can be very hard to be a professional — a proven professional, working in her chosen field and, not incidentally, doing very good work; to have previously spent somewhere north of 15 years building a career, only to watch that tiny career melt into nothing — and then work for free, and more importantly, with absolutely miniscule impact on the world with which one is trying to communicate.

Because I don’t write to write. I write to communicate.

And so, I’ve had a few days when I thought I might just shut the whole blog down.

Inevitably, though, within about 24 hours, I’ve come back. I like writing — I love writing — and feel I have something to add to the world’s conversation, whether it be in my narrowly defined, overcrowded niche, or on parenting, fashion, or loud music. I’ve tried not to write about the one or two topics being bandied about the web on any given day, or, if I am writing about those things, to approach them from a place that others haven’t arrived at yet. On the other hand, I’m entirely comfortable with the fact that “This is AWESOME!” is sometimes a necessary and worthy comment. I’ve considered walking away, but I’ve never really meant it.

Until this past Friday, when I had a bad day, and somehow it was different. I all but heard something inside me snap.

I write to communicate, and moreover, I don’t “write to communicate” while also going about my business — writing is my business. This is my day job. And simply put, it’s exhausting to be begging for attention all the time. Exhausting and disheartening.

I spent years and years sending letters to editors trying to get them to notice me. I was pretty successful, but in the end, and in spite of my best efforts, none of it translated to anything with staying power. When the bottom fell out on print media, I just plain gave up for awhile. And then I started to blog. And then I realized that I’d begun to do the same thing all over again — only instead of sending two or five or ten letters a week, I now promote myself and my work all day long, everyday.

I’ve worked very hard to make this self-promotion an organic, honest thing — I don’t leave comments at blogs I don’t frequent, I’m a genuine member of the communities in which I network — but it’s a potentially endless endeavor. I spend hours and hours of every day not just working for pay, not just working pro bono for causes I believe in, but also writing my blog, writing (once a week) for the Americans for Peace Now blog, posting to and following up on posts at Angry Black Lady Chronicles, tweeting (and yes, this is actually an enormous part of my day, because I take the dialogue and the activism on Twitter very seriously), and also taking part in two online communities where there is networking but also friendship.

Bottom line, I could spend all my waking hours creating a little bit of content, and then asking that people pay attention to it. Indeed, I essentially did this a few weeks back, with my post about the word “nude” in fashion, as a loose experiment to see what I could achieve in a day of relentless self-promotion. That post got about 700 views. On a typical day, this blog hits the 250-550 range.

I’m tired.

If you’re one of my readers, and/or have ever promoted this blog in any way, and/or have ever left a comment, I’m beyond grateful. If I’ve learned nothing else over the past two years, I’ve learned just how hard it is to get word out to the great wide world, and why publications have entire marketing departments. If I caught your attention and you’ve stayed? I really, truly cannot thank you enough.

But I’m tired, and all of the hours that I’ve spent creating a little and selling it a lot are hours in which I haven’t gotten other important things done (like reading novels, or finishing my photo albums, or visiting with friends, or making banana bread), and after nearly 20 years of begging for attention, I’m not sure I have the heart to do it anymore. I’m good at this, I have something to contribute, and I love doing it — but I’m just not sure that I have any starch left to keep insisting on those facts to a world that (beyond you, to whom I am very, very grateful) doesn’t much care.

I’m not going to say that I’m shuttering the blog, because I don’t know that I am. Indeed, at least for a little while I’m going to run what I think of as oldies-but-goodies — posts that really mean something to me and which I wish had gotten a bigger readership.

I’m certainly going to keep up my book recommendations at Americans for Peace Now, and I’ll keep the rolling archive of those recommendations up to date. I’ll be on Twitter and at Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog, and occasionally on Balloon Juice and certainly in the comments at ABLC. This is all stuff I enjoy that is meaningful to me well beyond my professional aspirations. I would particularly miss my interactions with TNC’s Horde, which has become the virtual version of the coffee house where I’ve always wanted to hang out.

But I have to look for a job. I have to look for a job with regular pay and regular hours and possibly having nothing to do with writing. Working solely as a contract writer on a catch-as-catch-can basis is a little too much like not getting to marry the man of your dreams, but occasionally having a surprise date with his demanding younger brother. They look a lot alike, but it’s not really what I wanted.

In the meantime, tomorrow’s the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, so I wouldn’t be writing; summer vacation started today; and we’re going to Israel next Friday. There’s a lot going on that would have made regular posting difficult anyway. I’ll think this through, and I’ll get back to you all. I promise I won’t just disappear. But for right now, all I can say is: I don’t know.

Sit! Stay!

I’m sorry I haven’t been here! I took it upon myself to post to this blog-thinga-ma-hoozie on the daily, and I’ve mostly done it, but I sure didn’t yesterday, and I’m not sure that I (really) will today.

In the meantime, may I recommend this predictably awesome video by Jay Smooth? In it, he talks about how, in this crazy-mixed-up-not-quite-but-on-our-way-there-post-racial-world, we need to become not lazier with each other and each other’s sensibilities, but more respectful and more caring. And that anyway, isn’t that how we should be acting in all of our relationships?

Only, you know, he’s funny and eloquent.

Watch! (Then visit his vlog!)

I’ll be back!


Another guest post!+ Yes, another holiday.

I am very proud to say that I am today’s featured guest poster at NonProphet Status.

Chris Stedman (perma-linked in the Smart People blogroll) is the Managing Director of State of Formation, an initiative of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions — and he’s an atheist. His blog is dedicated to the entirely reasonable proposition that atheists and people of faith can find a place of mutual respect, and work together toward shared goals. We found each other through Twitter (all hail the Tweet!), and he asked if I might like to rework an old piece for posting over at his place — to which I could only say: Yes, please!

Here’s the top of that post — for the rest, please click through!

Lately Americans have been talking a lot about faith – the Muslim faith. As we grapple with the understanding of just how diverse we are as a people, Americans of good will – Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims – have been striving to help their countrymen learn that we have nothing to fear from Islam. As a believing Jew, I’ve been right there in the thick of it.

But as I struggle with the fact that so many of my fellow citizens fear a belief system dear to the hearts of 1.5 billion people, I struggle also with another, far less acknowledged, fact: Even more of them fear my husband.

Because he doesn’t believe in God at all.

I urge you to also check out the important work that Chris just did for The New Humanist (published the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University), an “attempt to offer an introductory but comprehensive consideration of the issues surrounding nonreligious involvement in the interfaith movement.”

The idea that interfaith cooperation is necessary to advance social progress was not a conclusion I came to overnight. In fact, after I stopped believing in God, I spent some time walking about decrying the “evils of religion” to anyone who would listen. I wanted nothing to do with the religious, and was sure they wanted nothing to do with me.

…Now I see interfaith cooperation as the key to resolving the world’s great religious problems. All the more, I want my secular community to join me, to share their stories and learn from those of the religious. And, more importantly, I want us to join with the religious in working to resolve the problems that afflict our world. Together, we will accomplish so much more.

And speaking of religion!

Tonight (in, like, half an hour) yet another Jewish holiday begins! I would explain, but honestly, it’s kind of complicated — it’s two holidays smooshed into one, unless you live in the Diaspora, where it’s still two, unless you come from Israel, which we do, so it’s still one for you, unless you’ve officially moved to the Diaspora, which we have, so then it’s supposed to be two, unless you’re like us and holding on to your Israeli-Jewishness by your very teeth and thus only ever celebrate them smooshed together as one…. Who has time to explain all that!

I will say this though: Among our celebrations over the next day/two days will be Simhat Torah, a celebration of our Torah, the very thing that makes us a people. We finish the annual cycle of reading the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) — and then we start all over again. There will be dancing, and parading about with our Scriptures in our arms, and children running around like wild things, and it will once again remind me of how much I love the homey reverence with which we hold our faith and our holy books, awed and yet also literally carrying it all in our all-too-human hands. It’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing — and, as per usual, it means I won’t be here again until there are three stars in the sky on Thursday night. (Or possibly later, as these Diaspora Jews, they think the whole dancing with the Torah thing is tomorrow night, so I’ll be in services! I told you it was complicated).

So, the usual reminder: All first comments require my approval — if you get stuck in moderation, I’ll fish you out as soon as I can.

In the meantime, chag sameach, happy holiday! (And go read NonProphet Status!).

Welcome! I have to go now!

I’m so glad that so many new folks are swinging by, and really hope you’ll poke around a little, to see what you might find! In my earlier post, I linked to a few old pieces that show the breadth of subject matter that you’ll find here at In My Head (from Winnie the Pooh to wars in the Middle East), and here are a couple of earlier round-ups: The past is prologue, and The past is prologue II.

I need to point out two important facets of the functioning of this blog, however:

  1. I don’t roll on Shabbos, meaning that I will very soon not be around for nearly 25 hours (until Saturday evening) to do any moderating — which leads to:
  2. All first comments require my approval. Which means you may get stuck in moderation for a little while. But if that happens, I promise to fish you out as soon as I can!

In the meantime, please enjoy the work of my internet pal ajw93! She blogs here (though she needs to post more often… Hey! ajw93! What’s up with that?), and her photography can be purchased here. Enjoy! (And don’t forget to stroll down and gaze at the beauty that is bactrian’s work, as well! Or, just click here).

On a lonely road in the Catskills, I found a mysterious bog of dead trees. Hudson, NY. 2010.

Blogger stymied.

Well, this day has taken a turn for the surrealistic!

First, Ta-Nehisi posts an endorsement of this blog that just knocks me off my feet, makes me cry, turns my frown upside down, the whole nine yards. Then all the folks over there are so sweet I can hardly stand it. And Ta-Nehisi said I maka him cry. And all this time my Twitter feed is hailing me right left and center. Then I get a ping-back from my old internet pal The Grand Panjandrum — a delight unto itself — and thus learn that Balloon Juice has front-paged me again (it was, after all, John Cole at Balloon Juice who was the first blogger at the big kids table to ever link to me)! Then I scoot back over to TNC’s site to peek at the original post again — and lo and behold, not only do more kindnesses await, but my own sister has left a comment! And then I learn, via commenter DougEMI, that because Ta-Nehisi gets linked to on memorandum — so did I!

My head is spinning, inside and out. I’m sure that real bloggers, the grown-up kind, the kind that get linked to all the live-long-day, are not given head-spinnies by such events. I’m sure they are unmoved and unfazed. Well. I am still a very wee fish is an unfathomable sea, and as such, I am both moved, and fazed!

I had planned to write something light today — tired, as I am, of all the heaviness I’ve brought to these pages lately — and then I got paralyzed by the attention, thinking: Not light! Not light! Important! You must write something important!

And then I learned that there are serious troubles afoot for one of the two American-Jewish organizations that I really believe in, J Street (the other one being Americans for Peace Now), and then I learned of running battles in the streets of Jerusalem, and I was brought crashing to earth.

Because whatever has happened at J Street, it frankly doesn’t matter — because neither J Street, nor the people involved with J Street, are the point. The occupation is the point. The lack of peace is the point. The horrors that could be stopped, if only we were to do the one thing that could stop them, are the point. But none of that will matter, because now, for the next several weeks, all the talk around the conflict in American Jewish circles will center not on the conflict, but on J Street.

So. I’m wrecked with the whipsaw of emotion, and I’m not going to even try post a real post today. But I will do so on Sunday, a thing I don’t usually do, in order to kind of catch up. Pinky swear!

And in the meantime, I made a promise to another internet pal, and that is a promise I intend to keep. Watch this space, for soon, a lovely photograph will appear above it!


Update: Also, don’t forget to check out the “Lovely Folks @ Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Place” blogroll on the right!

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have great respect and deep fondness for Ta-Nehisi Coates, a man to whom I link almost compulsively, whose writing slays me on a nearly daily basis, and whose generosity of spirit and openness to the new are not only moving, but they’ve led him to almost accidentally create an online community of real depth and warmth. It’s a group of people who are geeky in the best possible sense of the word, emotionally and intellectually honest, and a joy to hang out with, at our virtual watercooler.

And today, Ta-Nehisi not only “front-paged” me (in the parlance of those-who-comment-on-blogs), he full-on endorsed me:

I’ve been meaning to say the following–All of you should be reading Emily Hauser’s blog. Emily, who comments here, got a shout-out from Nicholas Kristof during Peretz-gate (and someone else who I can’t remember.) But that aside, she impresses me because she displays a quality which all bloggers struggle with–commitment.

This doesn’t happen to me often, but I am, in fact, speechless. Thank you, TNC, and thank you all you commenters and lurkers who are now swinging by at TNC’s recommendation. I’ll be sure to get a real post up later today (I mean, if all these guests are going to stop by, I really should serve them a little something, I think!), but in the meantime, I just wanted to say: Wow.


And to get the ball rolling, I’ll use the little introduction I cooked up the other day, when (as TNC so kindly noted) Nicholas Kristof linked to me:

The About page is a good place to start — I’m a freelance writer who used to write commentary all over the place, until the world of print and the world’s finances collapsed, and well, upsy-daisy! Now I blog.

I write a lot about Israel/Palestine, and from there often spin out into other Middle Eastern issues, broadly speaking — hence, all the writing I’ve done lately on Islam, including my general fulminating on the Cordoba House/ “Ground Zero Mosque” issue.

But I also stray pretty far from those core areas, the areas in which I got my education and professional background. Occasionally, for instance, I blog about stuff like Martin Luther King’s Strength to Love, or my two gorgeous children, or magazines I hate (and other stuff that I don’t hate), or music. I’ve written about Winnie the Pooh and a really annoying Heineken ad, body issues and the crying need to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (For a while there I was writing a lot about health care reform, but phew! That one’s under our belt now!).

In short, this place covers quite a range. I hope you take some time to look around, and if you like what you see, you come back, and maybe even comment! (And why not tell your friends – it couldn’t hurt!).

In which technology fails me utterly.

I had a couple of thoughts for posts, and certainly wanted to get something up before the holiday of Sukkot starts (in, like, an hour and fifteen minutes!), forcing me to disappear from all professional pursuits for another 25 hours (sunset today until three-stars-in-the-sky tomorrow), but Comcast had other plans — plans like leaving me with no phone or internet for nearly eight hours!

And honestly? That’s just the tip of today’s iceberg. It also involves soup that boiled over, and a kid that forgot my Bible (my Bible!) on the school bus, and my cell phone launching what appears to be its death march. And hiccups. Etc. It’s been the anti-yesterday, and boy am I glad I had yesterday to reflect on as I sopped up today’s various messes!

So, yeah. This is the post. If you want to learn about Sukkot — honestly one of my favorite times of year, as it involves (among other things) my whole delightful wee little family trooping out to eat our meals in a hut set up temporarily in our backyard for a solid week — this and this and this will help (our sukkah [hut] looks like a much smaller version of the bottom picture in that last link). And if you don’t want to learn about Sukkot? I got nothin’. (But I am sorry!)

Off to save the soup! (And hag sameach, happy holiday, if you’re celebrating!)

Oh and – PS: Thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday! You are very sweet, you are!

Um… & then Foreign Policy linked to me too?

Ok. So, on Saturday night I expressed a rather undignified level of giddiness over the fact that Nicholas Kristof linked to me from his blog. And now, I just discovered that Stephen Walt linked to me at Foreign Policy…!! And in the company of such names as Matt Yglesias and James Fallows, of all people!

Yikes! And wow. And yay! (One is endeavoring to be a squosh more dignified this time…).

But if you’re just discovering this blog because of that link, you might be interested in the introductory post that I put up on Saturday. And I hope you’ll take a look around! You may find other posts you like. (And maybe even want to comment on!)

Holy crow! Nick Kristof! (+ introductions, all around).

So there I am, driving home from a lovely day with friends, when the husband calls.

“Are you sitting down?”

Uh… I’m driving. So, yeah? Definitely sitting.

“Nicolas D. Kristof’s blog, On the Ground, says: ‘I’d encourage you to look at a couple of good blogs on the topic. One is by M.J. Rosenberg…. Another is by Emily Hauser and is also well worth reading.’ And,” he adds, just to make it even better, “it’s above the fold!”


I will admit that I suspect that “squee!” is not quite the dignified response that this moment requires, but honestly, that’s what I got! Mr. Kristof’s column is easily one of my permanent favorites, he’s a real leader in the kind of journalist-activism that I think is what journalism was meant to be about in the first place, and his writing is just so.damn.good…! I link to him frequently, I dedicated an entire post to him not long ago, and he’s always right there on the right, in my Smart People blogroll.


So, yeah…. I’m a little giggly with the giddy!

And, as a result of said linkage, you may very well be here for the first time! So I should introduce myself a little: First of all, the About page is a good place to start — I’m a freelance writer who used to write commentary all over the place, until the world of print and the world’s finances collapsed, and well, upsy-daisy! Now I blog.

I write a lot about Israel/Palestine, and from there often spin out into other Middle Eastern issues, broadly speaking — hence, all the writing I’ve done lately on Islam, including my general fulminating on the Cordoba House/ “Ground Zero Mosque” issue.

But I also stray pretty far from those core areas, the areas in which I got my education and professional background. Occasionally, for instance, I blog about stuff like Martin Luther King’s Strength to Love, or my two gorgeous children, or magazines I hate (and other stuff that I don’t hate), or music. I’ve written about Winnie the Pooh and a really annoying Heineken ad, body issues and the crying need to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (For a while there I was writing a lot about health care reform, but phew! That one’s under our belt now!).

In short, this place covers quite a range. I hope you take some time to look around, and if you like what you see, you come back, and maybe even comment! (And why not tell your friends – it couldn’t hurt!).

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