Archive | College RSS feed for this section

Doing Good

12 Feb

image2

When the world seems to be falling apart, it is comforting to see the people you love trying to put it back together. One of those people is my son.

He’s a quiet kid. He’s shy and unassuming and once you are lucky enough to get to know him, he’s hilarious and kind and genuine. He still needs to work on the regular teenage stuff like being nicer to his brothers or answering me in a more patient tone. But all in all, he’s a truly fine human being and I am honored to have the privilege of being his mom.

In the fall, my son participated in a Midnight Run. Together with his friends and our synagogue he collected necessary every day items we might take for granted: soap, pillows, a warm jacket. On a cold November night, my son and husband drove into New York City and handed out jackets to the homeless. They helped people find the right size coat, the color they preferred, and ultimately the jacket that would keep them the warmest. They handed out jackets until there were no more jackets to hand out. But there were still people who were cold.

A few weeks later, I saw a segment on the news about a company in Michigan called The Empowerment Plan that was making jackets that converted to sleeping bags. The labor hired to sew these jackets is sourced exclusively from homeless shelters. These women are trained and given skills that will hopefully allow them to find full time employment. It was an incredible story to behold. I told my son about the jackets and he began an online fundraiser via Crowdrise to raise $5240 (the cost of 50 jackets plus shipping to NY), so he could continue to help keep our city’s homeless a little warmer.

With the help of many friends and family, more than $6000 was raised allowing for the purchase of nearly 60 coats. And on a cold January night, our family and my parents loaded the jackets into two trucks and drove to Hebrew Union College in The Village to distribute the coats to those patronizing their soup kitchen.

As we unloaded the coats onto a table and started demonstrating them for the people there, a small crowd began to gather. A very tall man was the first person to take a coat, explaining how happy he was because he has not been able to find a warm jacket that fits him in years.

We met a man named Matteo who sleeps in his van and was grateful to now have some semblance of a bed. He marveled at the utility of the jacket and how it was an item fashioned for those in need with respect for those in need in mind. He thanked my son and began to cry.

When a woman named Fatima saw the jacket, she broke into a wide smile and laughter, confiding that this was something she could really use. Her joy was palpable. She took a jacket and returned 15 minutes later just to talk to my son.

“You did this? How did you do this?”

My son explained his fundraiser. Fatima began to cry.

“I can’t believe you did this. You’re only 16. Do you know what you’ve done?”

And then she asked him for a hug. And they embraced.

When the shift was over only 5 jackets remained which we donated to the soup kitchen. Several hours later, after eating dinner at a local restaurant, we started walking back to our car. On the way, we passed Hebrew Union College. Outside was a man in a lawnchair, laughing with his friends, and wearing one of the jackets we gave him earlier that night.

Things have certainly come full circle. To have begun the Midnight Run program in our synagogue and to have ended this coat drive in the basement of a seminary was a beautiful living brush stroke of tikkun olam: repairing the world.

And the world is indeed in need of repair.While the country’s delicate seams have been mercilessly ripped apart, small acts of kindness, like this one, are the thread we all need to sew us back together. Because regardless of where we live or what we own, people are people are people. And yes, you do things for other people. You do it because it is the right thing to do. You do it because you can. You do it because you can make someone’s life better, even if it is just in the smallest way, like a giving a stranger a fresh bar of soap. But you also do it because it makes you feel better too. And it feels good to do good. It does.

My son may not always be the type who sits on my lap to hug me, or who holds my hand while I’m driving and rests his head on it, or who comes into my room to hug and kiss me as a study break. But I hope he is. I will never be too old to accept any of those expressions of love.

Soon my son will be going off to college. When he leaves the home in which he has grown up, I wonder if he is ready for what the world will throw at him. But mostly I want to know that he is a good person. That I am sending my best work, a really good human being, into the world. That he will love and be loved. That he will be kind. That he will help those who need it. And that he will be good. And he is.

My son is already repairing this world, doing great things, and giving back. He’s going to make his mark on this world. In fact, he already has.

Keep Calm and Write On!

28 Sep

IMG_2916

I went back to college.

Not really.  I wish. But I visited Ann Arbor, where I spent four years studying the likes of Chaucer, Pope, Shakespeare. Immersing myself in literature so beautiful I cried. Reading book after book I never wanted to end. What a privilege those four years were. Rather than constructing dry essays on economics, statistics, or arcane psychology theories, I dissected Arthurian literature, found endless examples of Christ symbolism, and even flirted with the idea of becoming an English professor.

Instead, I went to law school. And then I litigated for years where I constructed dry memoranda of law and motions involving arcane issues of product liability law, lead paint poisoning litigation, medical malpractice defense and other exciting topics.

I still continued to study and write screenplays, sketches, articles, and, of course, countless tweets and status updates.

Missing the good stuff, however, the writing that weaves a story out of a tiny detail or sentence, the kind of prose that makes a reader feel something, the type of material that prompts your heart to literally beat, I started this here blog. And I love it.

I need to feel more of this. For my husband, my kids, and most of all, me. It makes me feel whole and multi-dimensional and, perhaps, younger.

I can’t return to college. Indeed, Michigan does seem like a dream to me now. So I am engineering a way for college to return to me.

As of now, I am privately tutoring those needing help with writing. Particularly, college entrance essays (!) Please contact me directly for further inquiries and/or appointments.

I will still be writing independent of this little gig, but I am really looking forward to this as a diversion that I have already started to enjoy.

I am genuinely excited to help others tell their stories. After all, each of us has one. We should revel in it.

Ann Arbor’s Smartest

20 Apr

um

I was always attracted to intelligent, semitic-looking guys. They didn’t have to be particularly handsome; just super smart. (And if any old boyfriends happen to be reading this–you’re gorgeous; I am definitely not talking about you.) Nothing turned me on more than a cerebral, dark-featured guy with a pair of eyeglasses. Thankfully, the University of Michigan admitted tons of them.

One day, in a class that focused solely on Chaucer, a boy who I never noticed, raised his hand and interpreted an Old English phrase with alarming ease. He was no looker but my goodness, he was bright. At some point, I won his attention and we went on a date.

After dinner, he walked me back to my sorority house. It was a chilly, clear night, even for hormonal 19 year olds.

“Lisa, I truly believe that I am the smartest person in the whole school.”

He leaned in for a kiss. I was intrigued. Not by him. But by his admission.

“Wait. Undergrad or the whole school?

“The whole school.”

He leaned in again. I backed away. I was not personally offended that he thought himself brighter than me. Frankly, I was happy merely to gain entrance to the University of Michigan, my #2 choice (#1 choice Northwestern can suck it). Rather, I was floored by his swagger.

“There’s 30,000 people here. You think you’re smarter than all 30,000 people? The Med School students? The Law School is in the top 5 in the country.”

“Yes, I have no doubt that I am the smartest person here. I am taking Russian just to read Dostoevsky in its natural print. Are you free tomorrow night?”

I wasn’t free. I was turned off. The fact that I later learned he had to routinely have a fraternity brother shave his neck didn’t help either.

We didn’t go out again although he did stalk me for three years, even once professing that he was in love with me. He couldn’t have been that smart because I told him many times that I was not interested. Senior year he refused to talk to me altogether and that was okay too.

After all, it was only one date and there were approximately 15,000 other less intelligent women to court.

After college I learned he only graduated cum laude. And hey, so did I.