Friday, January 20, 2006

mistakes in vivo

Flubbed the Kaddish in about 3 different ways tonight, paradoxically managing to recite the Kaddish De Rabbanan properly as well as the final Mourner's Kaddish. I was tired, undercaffeineated, there was a large group of people, it was a big hall for Kabbbalat Shabbat... My Dad would not have minded, I was sweating it anyhow, wanting to do it properly. I have a Stockholm Syndrome attitude toward the prayer itself, warily regarding it as my captor in some anthropomorphic way.

Most interesting synchronicity: I Will Follow (the ringtone) during the prayers before the Shema at NYU Hillel this week. Usually someone's phone goes off during the Shemoneh Esrei, esp. at Orthodox services. Usually it's some pathetic ringtone that makes me think "This person is a grown up and they want to announce their phonecalls to the world AND with this MIDI noise?" Set it on vibrate, motherfucker! But somehow, to my no music starved ears, pumped up to try to daven Shacharit through the fog of my grief, aggravation, fatigue, struggle with hebrew and belief and practice -- this, a weirdass MIDI tinkertoy approximation of U2's "I Will Follow" (song number 181 on the Pizzeria Regina jukebox when I worked there in 1981--"Out of Control" was the b side, 281) hit me like rocket fuel. Wearing tefillin and tallis, I felt the adrenelin rush, wanted to start pogoing, kept struggling with the prayers.

------------------------------------------------------------------ A year of no music mourning a man who was deeply bitten by the music bug. For him, Frank Sinatra, for me, Husker Du, but nevermind, the same blood pourin through our veins (right, Bruce, right). Rabbi Miller at Etz Chaim in Sharon gave me a good rationale to keep the prohibition on music while mourning (paraphrase) "Perhaps music touches us in a way we are not meant to be touched while mourning". OK. My Dad left the building, the music is silent for a year.

It emphasizes the emptiness, the clogged up, rusted over, fucked upness of all of it. I say Kaddish in honor of, in defiance of, in tandem with, because of, in spite of... finally ... NO, there is no "finally", there's only the repetition and many chances every day if you fuck up reading the transliteration, the hebrew letters of the aramaic words, or someone is praying too damn LOUD (trying to get to Hashem, they are BLASTING ME instead) or too FAST, anyway I don't need to BLAME others, there's 3 times a day and lots of chances at Shacharit, another reason to run with the Hillel kids even though it's not egalitarian.

Prayer is like making drawings of sculpture someone else made... it's still my drawing, it's just not MY subject. I mean "restore Davidic rule"? I prefer "grant us today and every day grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us..."

Like making drawings you can sometimes do some good even if you make alot of mistakes, maybe it's better that way.

The only thing is I have more faith in making drawings than I do in prayer.

<<"I'd get down on my knees girl, but it's too late for me to learn how to pray" Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul>>

Books. Some Books. Well, it's not too late for me to struggle with all of this. But unlike Wieselter, I don't have a Yeshiva education. Unlike Ari Goldman, I don't have a bedrock of faith and practice either. (I HIGHLY recommend his book, a Year of Saying Kaddish however.) Another writer who helped me along in this was Matteu Roth "Yom Kippur A Go Go" -- he is coming to it from a different place than I, but trying to reconcile similar contradictions.

That's it for tonight.

--------------------------------------------------------------------- Online portfolio of paintings is at