Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 21, 2010

Rites of Passage

Tears of sadness; tears of joy
As I watch my little boy
Turn the page and start anew
Rites of passage all too soon

His future’s tangled in the past
A song connecting first and last
Brothers who will never meet
Connected by a song so sweet

I think of then and think of now; I wipe the tears that fall
For all that’s lost and all that’s found – I think about it all
I watch the little boy grow up – no prouder could I be
And through these rites of passage, he sets the other free

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 15, 2010

The Red Lines of Infertility

During the long, painful years when we were having so much trouble trying to bring a healthy child into the world, many well-meaning friends would often say – in a soft, gentle voice, “have you considered (pause for dramatic effect) adoption?” And I think I did a pretty good job of being patient with these people, especially as I understood that they were only trying to help. The obvious truth is, though, that of course we’d thought about it. When you find yourself on the far side of four problematic pregnancies and several egg donation treatments with no surviving children, it’s a pretty safe assumption that you have, indeed, considered a multitude of options, exploring and researching all possible avenues as you discover what you are and are not prepared to do in your quest to be a parent.

And without a doubt, adoption can be the right choice – for some. Despite everything we went through – the disappointment, the agony, the physical (mine) and emotional pain, the loss of a child… The path that I simply couldn’t bring myself to choose, let alone embrace, was adoption. I’m not one of those people who is immediately drawn to all babies, and I just don’t have that natural, instinctive, wonderful ability to bond with other people’s children (and I’m pretty sure children can sense that). While I was reasonably certain that I would love any child I managed to bring into the world, I was terribly, terribly scared of going the adoption route, frightened that I would not be able to connect to the child who would enter our lives in this way. I didn’t feel that it was fair to subject a child to such an experiment, especially when I couldn’t get past my doubts regarding the outcome. How could I even consider adopting a child when I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love that child as it deserved to be loved?

So adoption was my red line. Initially, I even had trouble with the idea of egg donation. It took me quite some time to get used to the idea, and the only reason I was able to go through with it (the first time, anyway), was because my best friend had offered to be our donor. There was no way I would have been able to bring myself into that space otherwise, at the time. I had such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I had to turn to technology to make this work, and I absolutely, unequivocally needed the reassurance that, despite the cold, clinical procedures being used, there was still an act of love involved in there somewhere, even if it couldn’t be the one normally associated with conceiving a child.

With each failed egg donation cycle (three in all), my boundaries expanded and my “requirements” became more flexible, but it was of course, a process that didn’t happen overnight. I had to be able to talk myself into a place of acceptance with each new stage. I had to redefine my red lines, and what was acceptable to me by the third cycle (using a completely anonymous donor from Romania) wasn’t something I could even contemplate for the first cycle. We began to consider a fourth egg donation cycle (going the same route that we’d used in the third cycle), while at the same time, accepting the fact that we might, indeed, remain childless, for I was still unwilling to consider adoption. In the end, though, before we could start on that fourth cycle, I discovered that I was pregnant (after having done practically everything that pregnant women shouldn’t do – drinking alcohol and lots of caffeine, eating sushi, taking medications, lifting heavy objects and having a flu shot) – a high-risk pregnancy that resulted in the birth (a birth that almost cost me my life) of the six year-old who seems to have taken over our home.

What made me think about all this now? A single, 47 year-old friend of a friend recently gave birth, having used both a donor egg and donor sperm to get pregnant. My friend couldn’t understand why her friend hadn’t just adopted, and while I’m sure the friend had her reasons, those reasons really shouldn’t be of anyone else’s concern. It is a misnomer to believe that anyone who wants to have children will be willing to do anything to get them, or that these people do not have red lines that they simply aren’t prepared to cross. And, for those of us who have been down the infertility path, it is nothing short of insulting and hurtful to try to make us feel guilty by opting for assisted reproduction techniques instead of going straight to adoption. It’s hardly fair to assume that people with infertility issues should be grateful to solve the global problem of unwanted children just because they’re unable to have any of their own naturally, nor should they be guilted into doing so. The tragedy of so many unwanted children in the world should be a global issue to tackle, and not a burden to be shouldered by the infertile couples of the world. It’s just not that simple. And do you know what else? You don’t have to understand it. You merely have to accept it.

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 14, 2010

How do you celebrate a blog’s fifth birthday?

Whenever I’ve gone on job interviews over the years, there has always been one question that I’ve always dreaded – where do you see yourself in five/ten years’ time. I’ve never known how to respond, since I was always fairly certain that any answer I gave was not going to be the right one for them. I was never looking to climb the corporate ladder; I’ve never been interested in managing a team. There were several factors that came into play, but when it came down to it, I suppose I simply wasn’t prepared to offer any kind of verbal commitment for the long-term because I didn’t really know what direction I wanted my life to take. I’ve rarely been in a position of being able to admit to being so passionate about my work that I could see myself continuing with it far into the future.

Of course, there have always been fantasies about writing, but for many years, it wasn’t something I took seriously. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable enough to call myself a writer without feeling like a fraud, and admittedly, when I am in the company (either real or virtual) of other writers, there’s still a part of me that’s always surprised when they see me as an equal. After all, it’s one thing when you’re father tells you that you can write (which always reminds me of those poor, untalented souls on American Idol who lament that “their mothers always told them they could sing”), and quite another when people with little to no vested interest in your professional well-being and no obvious reason to stroke your ego are telling you that you’re a pretty good writer.

So when you realize just how frustrated you are with your current profession and feel a burning need to test the waters to see if there’s actually any truth to what your father said, what do you do? Easy. You start a blog, which is what I did (with the fabulous Anglosaxy) – five years ago today. There have been 372 posts (this one makes it 373) about everything from politics and current events to parenting and loss, from Israeli life to literature. And hey! Do you remember 80s Music Video Sundays? Posts from this blog have been reprinted on other websites and in foreign journals (translated into Italian, no less), I’ve been interviewed for different publications, written articles for different websites and print publications and been “discovered” by the BBC World Service (and didn’t actually believe the email was real at first). I’ve even managed get writing gigs that pay – proof that you CAN use a blog to jumpstart a writing career.

I’ve been vilified (I think the best insult I ever received was when someone wrote in a comment that I was spreading ideological AIDS and that the Israeli government needed to decide whether or not I should be locked up for treason) and called everything from stupid to naïve (for having the audacity to think that I live a normal life, when I actually live in a war zone and should be teaching my son how to use an Uzi, and perhaps carrying a weapon of my own and wearing a bullet-proof vest when I go out for cappuccino). I’ve been praised and received some pretty impressive compliments (including one from last week a website called Tripbase that absolutely blew me away – “Liza Rosenberg’s writing is breezy, innovative and pithy – applied to the subject of Israeli living, we are treated to one of the most unique journals to come out of the country.”)  I’ve dialogued with and earned respect from those who disagree with my beliefs, and alongside that, I’ve also made quite a few people pretty angry. I’ve learned that I can write myself into an emotional crash and burn, and I’ve learned that I can also write myself out of it.

So, how can I possibly sum up five years of blogging? This blog has changed my life in so many ways – it’s brought me new friends and it’s helped me to forge a new professional path. It’s also allowed me to find the voice I never knew I had, a voice that only really comes out through my writing. It’s helped me to guide me along the journey of trying to figure out who I am (still trying to solve that constantly evolving riddle). Blogging has brought me joy, anger and sorrow, not to mention more than a little excitement. I don’t know what the next five years will bring, but if you’ve been enjoying the ride so far, I hope you’ll continue to do so. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your interest and your feedback, how overwhelmed I am by the fact that people actually care to read the things I write. Thank you.

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 9, 2010

A world gone mad…

Tattered and torn – we’re ripped at the seams
With horrible nightmares replacing the dreams
Except here’s the thing – you’re really awake
And it seems like the world is just ready to break

But all you can do is watch as it falls
Because no one’s prepared to heed any calls
We’re sinking in deeper – we’re all going down
Because no one’s prepared to make any sound

As the world starts to crash – we shatter to bits
We’re breaking apart taking hit after hit
The prognosis is bleak – there isn’t much hope
The world is hanging itself with a rope

Do you see all the hatred that people are spewing?
That we can’t seem to stop all the harm that we’re doing?
That so much of the good’s overshadowed by bad?
And it’s ever so clear that the world has gone mad

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 6, 2010

Flotilla Guerilla for Sale…

For those of us who grew up in the 70s, spending Saturday mornings in front of the television was practically de rigueur. This was back in the days when flying anvils (created by Acme, of course) was the “height” of violence, and Hanna-Barbera was the the undisputed king of the Saturday morning cartoon.

One of my all-time favorites was “Magilla Gorilla“, and keeping this in mind, it didn’t take long for my slightly depraved imagination to change a few words here and there and come up with this little ditty, which is, I think, more in line with the times in which we live. Oh, and I find it’s much more amusing if you imagine it’s being sung my Turkey’s charming Prime Minister Erdogan, who really (but really) needs to get over himself…

Flotilla Guerillas for Sale

We’ve got some guerillas for sale
Flotilla Guerillas for sale.
Won’t you claim them,
Take them home and shame them,
Guerilla for sale.

Don’t you want a little guerilla you can call your own,
A guerilla who’ll be with ya when ya break some bones?

Spoken: How much is that guerilla in the porthole?

Take our advice,
At any price,
A guerilla-like flotilla is mighty nice.
Guerilla, Flotilla Guerilla for sale.

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 5, 2010

On turning 42 and other ghastly things…

Every year in the days leading up to my birthday, I enter a period of self-reflection. I look back on the events of the past year and think about how they may have reshaped my life. In the years before we had our son (who arrived just over a week before my birthday back in 2004), I would often see my birthday as a milestone that marked another year of failing to achieve our goal of having a child, and of course, everything else just seemed to pale in comparison. These last six years with my son have been a gift that knows no bounds, and every birthday celebration of mine is now intertwined with the joy that his birth has brought me.

But I digress. The past year has been interesting, to say the least. I went from having two part-time positions in technical writing to becoming a full-time freelancer, having successfully managed to lose both jobs within weeks of one another. I’m certainly enjoying the variety that being a freelancer brings, not to mention the freedom to make my own schedule and do more of the writing that I actually enjoy (such as the pleasure I derive from writing poetry – a relatively new hobby, or the essays I submit to various anthologies); it also means that I have to work harder to ensure that I include social interaction with others. Of course, whatever my gripes might be with this new situation, it’s still infinitely better than my life before, when I was coming home every evening at 7:30, miserable and unable to find a satisfactory home-work balance. Now, my office consists of the corner of our blue, L-shaped couch (which is now at least several centimeters lower than every other part of the couch), and I’m trying to figure out which cappuccino maker to purchase (suggestions are welcome!), given that good coffee is missing from my life these days almost as much as good opportunities for social interaction. And, while I currently have a rather healthy load of writing projects, I’m always on the lookout for more, so feel free to give a shout if you think you’ve got something I might be interested in (end of professional plug).

One way in which I’ve grown richer this year is through the people I’ve “met”, and I use quotes because I have yet to meet many of them in person. However, these individuals (as well as those friends who’ve been part of this fascinating – if sometimes bumpy – journey for the long haul) have given me so much – they have helped me to grow and they have expanded my horizons. They’ve taught me to think about things differently, and through these connections, I’d like to think that I’m now in the process of becoming the me that I’d prefer to be. Sometimes they’ve made me laugh, and other times they’ve made me cry. I’d like to think, though, that no matter where we are in the relationship, these people have entered my life for a reason, and somehow made my life fuller as a result. For that, I’m grateful.

And the future? I’m really not sure at this point. Professionally, I’m hoping to continue to move in a direction that makes me happy, one that helps me to achieve that ever-elusive balance in my life. I’ve got some ideas for growing my freelancing business that involve poetry, so be sure to watch this space. Self-confidence is also a big issue for me, and while I’ve grown more confident in my writing skills during these past few years (due in no small part to wonderful friends who’d beat it into me on a fairly regular basis that I could indeed write), I know it’s something I’ll need to work on – both professionally and personally. And speaking of personal, we’re in for an interesting year ahead, as The Kid (who, at six, is no longer so little) gets ready to start first grade in the fall. He’ll be going to our local Waldorf school, and the list of people he’s promised to knit something for is growing longer and longer. I look forward to spending time with friends, and hopefully meeting at least a few of those who have yet to cross my physical path. My life would be so much poorer if you all weren’t such an important, amazing part of it. So, while I can’t tell you what the next year is going to hold (I’m not a fortune teller, you know!), I’m at least hoping that it will be something something.

Oh, and if it’s true that the  meaning of life answer to the ultimate question is 42, all I can say is, bring it on, baby! Bring it on!

Be sure to check out my birthday posts from years gone by:

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 1, 2010

Israel: A fairytale

Once upon a time, there was a region called the Middle East. It was a very complicated little corner of the world, as the people who lived there were often at odds with one another. Most of the people couldn’t agree on anything – they had different ideas about the past, and they could not manage to find common ground regarding the present or future. Why, they couldn’t even agree about hummus! In fact, one of the only issues that bound so many of the peoples together was their blinding hatred for one little country in their midst. This country was called Israel. While the more pragmatic among them had accepted the fact that Israel was indeed here to stay, there were still many who believed that in time, the little country could be destroyed.

The little country called Israel tried to proclaim to all who would listen that it was interested in peace, but actions usually speak louder than words, and most of the peoples of the region and other parts of the world had trouble believing the message that Israel kept trying to broadcast. It didn’t help, of course, that so many other nations and international bodies were always trying to focus on Israel, virtually ignoring the human rights abuses being committed in so many other places, like China, Iran and Turkey, to name a few. Our little country was far from innocent, but it was certainly no worse than many others.

One of Israel’s biggest problems was that it had a nasty habit of repeatedly choosing options that would result in the worst repercussions possible, and then following up with dreadfully inadequate public relations. It was always stepping right into the traps set by those who did not have the little country’s best interests at heart, and instead of trying to change its policies vis a vis its neighbors, it would simply try to explain again and again why such actions had to be taken. Much to Israel’s dismay, though, the peoples of the world wouldn’t listen. They saw what Israel was doing to the Palestinians; they saw how Israel was treating humanitarian and human rights activists. They saw what the government, the military and the police force were doing in neighborhoods and towns like Sheikh Jarrah and Bil’in. They even saw how Israel refused to allow a professional clown to enter the country. It was no wonder they believed that Israel wasn’t interested in peace, when the government seemingly did its very best to stifle dissent and shut down anyone who disagreed with them.

And so it came to pass that Israel, not having learned from its previous mistakes with Hamas and other factions of the Palestinian leadership, made yet another colossal blunder, setting itself up to fail once again by killing people the world believed to be peace activists trying to bring supplies to the poverty-stricken Palestinians living in Gaza. The government, in all of its usual infinite wisdom, decided to send navy commandos on-board a ship full of people who claimed to be peace activists on a humanitarian mission. The ship was part of a flotilla that had set sail from Turkey, and the flotilla’s organizers hoped to break through a blockade on Gaza being maintained by Israel. Israel claimed the blockade was in place to protect its citizens, and that trucks of humanitarian aid were entering Gaza all the time. They even tried to claim that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but many Israelis and many of the peoples of the world simply refused to believe what Israel was saying. Everyone knew that building supplies were not being allowed in, and that there was even a list of very strange items that were also banned, including such dangerous items as sage, potato chips, dried fruit and nutmeg.

The events that ensued came as no surprise, as Israel again opted for the plan that would potentially do the most damage. Instead of using its navy to stop the flotilla and keep it from entering its territorial waters, it chose to drop its commandos in the middle of all the action. What happened next was sadly predictable, as the commandos did what they’d been trained to do in such adverse situations. After they came under attack from the people on the ship, they fought back, and they killed and wounded many of their attackers. Once again, Israel had handed a grand public relations victory to its enemies, and on a silver platter, no less. Israel was perplexed. “Why didn’t the world care that it was trying to protect its citizens? Wasn’t it obvious that the ‘humanitarian mission’ was just a cover to bring weapons into Gaza,” they asked. As had happened in the past, the rulers of the little country just didn’t get it. They were so attached to their own narrative of events that had transpired that they were unable to see the situation as the rest of the world saw it. And, by choosing to continue the folly of trying to defend its actions, it only angered people further.

Not only were the peoples of the world upset, but many Israelis were upset as well. They were frustrated by the narrow world view held by the Israeli leadership, and they were angered that the leadership had once again put Israel in a position of being reviled in the court of world opinion. “Why couldn’t the government understand that it by continuing its oppressive tactics, it was destroying its own moral compass,” they thought helplessly. These people were indeed in quagmire, and they were losing hope for the future. “What has happened to our beloved country,” they asked. “Where are the morals? Where are the ethics?” The people were sad, for they did not want to be associated with the actions of their government. And they knew that this was not the end of the story, for as long as their government continued its misguided ways, they would be unable to live happily ever after.

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 28, 2010

Poem for a little boy turning six

The little boy – he’s six today; oh how the time does fly
The days that pass so quickly; the months that just rush by
Even now, I gaze in awe, unable to believe
The little boy in front of me, tugging at my sleeve

I take him in my arms, this little boy of mine
As I pull him close, his eyes begin to shine
A swirling of emotions; they take me by surprise
Overcome by love, and tears that prick my eyes

Less than seven years ago, we thought the dream had died
We thought we’d reached a journey’s end and God knows how we tried
But then somehow against all odds we managed to succeed
And suddenly “we two”, had turned into “we three”

To say my heart would burst – it sounds like a cliché
Mere words seem so inept for what I want to say
A thousand dreams could not foretell the love I’d find within
A thousand lights would pale, if held against your grin

And so my little boy, I wish the world for you
Your every heart’s desire, your every dream come true
And all I ask of you, my child, is hold me in your heart
Whenever we’re together; whenever we’re apart

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 25, 2010

My home in the sky…

My home in the sky is just full of delights
Not all of them having to do with the heights
That allow me to see things I’d just rather not
Like neighbors who wee and then shower a lot

But by the same token – I suppose that it’s fair
That they can see us if they stop and then stare
So be careful I must, when walking around
To have something on – at least up if not down

I wish that was all, but sadly there’s more
As I discovered one day when I opened the door
That water had leaked for well over an hour
Which allowed us to have a salon with a shower

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea I suppose
A living room ceiling from which water flows
Nor was it mine, I admit with regret
But really – the sofa was impossibly wet

We sealed up the holes and cleaned up the room
And tried to get past our feelings of doom
In the blink of an eye, though, we had no more smiles
For we had found water just under the tiles…

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Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 24, 2010

The Girl with the Faraway Look in Her Eye

I wrote this for the daughter of a friend, and tried to incorporate as many of her likes and personality traits (as conveyed by my friend) as I could.


The girl with the faraway look in her eye
Is watching the sun as it sets in the sky
Long summer days and warm lazy nights
She laughs with her friends as a candle ignites

The girl with the faraway look in her eye
Admires the flowers as she passes them by
Wearing a dress that floats as she walks
Seeing a friend, she stops and she talks

The girl with the faraway look in her eye
Is meeting her mother for coffee and pie
Her mum looks in awe at her daughter beside her
So gentle and kind, but also a fighter

Protective and giving to those in her heart
Her strength and her goodness are also a part
Of what makes her so special, thinks Mum with a sigh
She’s the girl with the faraway look in her eye

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