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Hope For Tomorrow

            The weather is finally getting colder, and despite the rising Covid 19 rates around the United States, things in my little world are inching closer to normal. We’re still living most of our lives masked and/or on Zoom, but we have plenty of toilet paper, and imported television shows from Canada, and the library is open for browsing again.

Except, people are still dying. 230,000 is the current estimate, but it grows every day. We’re so used to Covid that the numbers of dead barely make it into the headlines anymore.

The autumn Hallmark movies have already given way to the Christmas movies, and even though I could have used a few more weeks of fall festivals and leaf peepers and corn mazes, I’m still happy to cozy up with the dogs and watch all of the happy endings unspool. Given the temperature of the world right now, with political debates and health debates and tension and drama from every direction, I find great relief in spending a few hours embraced by a pool of kindness, generosity and love. All I would add is some chocolate fudge ice cream, with whipped cream, and peanut butter sauce, and then it would be perfect.

“Did you say chocolate?”

The schools in my area have been reporting more Covid cases recently, so synagogue school may have to transition from hybrid to fully online any day now, but at least I’ve had almost two months with my students in person, getting to know them and build relationships. The kids are doing their best to squeeze some normalcy out of their current abnormal: planning Halloween costumes, hoarding jelly beans, running and playing and making a lot of noise whenever possible. They make me believe that everything might be okay, someday.

“Did you say Jelly Beans?”

Other than missing the chance to see the kids in person, though, the possibility of renewed restrictions doesn’t really interrupt my life. I’m not a trick or treater (I prefer to choose my own candy, thank you very much), and Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal in my family, and I get at least two months’ worth of Christmas spirit through my TV, so that won’t be any different for me this year either. The fact is, other than the masks and the Zooms, I don’t feel especially inconvenienced by Covid anymore, which, in itself, is horrifying. How did we get used to all of this death so easily? Why is it so easy to adapt to the worst news?

I’ve never gotten used to Donald Trump, though, maybe because he is always creating chaos, uprooting us from our placid acceptance of the current evil to force us to face a new and crazier evil.

I’m ready for the election to be over, and I’d like to believe that Joe Biden will win, but I’m afraid that the damage will linger long after the cause of the damage has left the building.

In the meantime, Cricket has been helping me collect leaves for Mom’s craft projects, nosing her way past the green ones and focusing on the reds, and browns, and yellows, with sharp edges and mysterious wormholes. She likes the leaves that have been sniffed, pawed at, stepped on, and yes, probably peed on too, because those are the ones with the richest stories to tell.

The Leaf Sniffer at work.

Mom is deep into her craft projects, melding her photography and quilting and weaving and painting and eco printing, into all new works of art. And I’m jealous. I haven’t had the patience to make anything lately – no knitting, not much baking or cooking – I haven’t even done much cutting or gluing, since I can’t hang things on the walls of my temporary classroom in the social hall. It takes energy and focus to create new things and lately when I’m not teaching or writing, I’m watching TV or sleeping.

But there’s something about the impermanence of the autumn leaves that makes me want to collect them and make them into something, or just to keep them between the pages of books, or in photos, or in my memory. It’s the same with my students. I keep wanting to freeze certain scenes in my memory, so that I’ll remember how wonderful these moments have been, despite everything else.

“I can fly!”

I would like to say that I am hopeful about the future, and that I can picture a world that is freer from meanness, and full of healing and compassion and the right kind of compromise, where the best of each of us is respected and encouraged to grow. But I’m not quite as optimistic as all that. Instead, I’ve been trying to hold on to the hope that tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, will give me the chance to watch something good on TV, or listen to a podcast that makes me feel better about the world, or watch my students run around in circles and scream and play, whether I see them in person or on Zoom.

Tomorrow has to be better than today, right?

“Are you sure?”
“I don’t think she’s sure.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

98 responses »

  1. We are heading into a second national lockdown on the 5th of November due to a death rate currently higher than at the previous peak in late March. Sadly not much to look forward to in England at the moment. I hope you get some changes after the election. If Trump actually loses of course.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Some days it is harder to breathe than others. All the headlines online about which candidate is ahead by how many points, who is closing in on whom….it is too much. I’m getting way too anxious. I love the picture of Cricket flying. Will she let me join her?

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  3. Julia Tannenbaum

    I’m also trying to take things day by day, focus on the small joys, and remain cautiously optimistic that better days are coming. And practice social-distancing, of course. It is alarming how this has become our norm but I’m holding onto the hope that it will eventually pass. Maybe we’ll actually get some decent leadership in this country too! I’m with you there on still not being used to the chaos Trump continues to inflict. But it has to get better, right? I mean, it can’t get much worse.

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  4. I’m hopeful about the future but we will need to adapt our lives. Stay at home if unwell. Physically distance ourselves whenever and wherever possible. Observe respiratory and hand hygiene with more diligence.

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  5. There’s all kinds of healing in watching happy dogs play. The photo of Cricket flying brings me smiles 🙂

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  6. Moving post, Rachel. And I love the flying doggie pic!

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  7. The pandemic has gone on for so long that lots of folks are getting lax and not taking precautions. The kids are all back to school around here, and you can be sure they are taking the virus home to their families, then their parents to their workplaces, and so on. The biggest question on everyone’s mind has changed from how can I get T-paper to when will this end? While I don’t think Biden is the answer, at least his win would rid us of the current sociopath.
    I hope you’re still practicing your music. And I bet there will be lots of projects you can lead the kids through, even on-line, with a little advance planning and warning. Give Cricket and Ellie pats and kisses from me.

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  8. What a genuine snapshot into your now! Feels much like my own – a few variations on a theme – and still ending with hope. Hugs, Lindy

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  9. For me the pandemic has meant we cannot travel to see our son who lives in England. That is hard. We have our daughter and grandson and their family tow hours from us so we can see them about once a month. I am wearing a mask when riding now as the arena is closed up for the winter weather. It is quite comfortable and since it is designed for workouts it is breathable and just fine. Thank for sharing the realities of your Pandemic life. I hope for a good result with the election and that a change will bring less chaos and less hate.

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  10. When I get stressed I remember my son’s girlfriend convincing him to go to Germany 2 days before all travel from Europe was stopped, and how in the third day he hit home. Grateful for miracles. God bless you, Rachel, your mom, Cricket and Ellie.

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  11. You have summed up our wierd year well. It is really sad that the numbers of deaths keep on rising and we the people are experiencing overload! How do you begin to process that many. It is so sad to see people separated with their loved ones who are dying. I personally thing that is very wrong, in spite of the pandemic. There has to be a better way!
    This is very thought provoking!
    Dwight

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  12. I love all the doggy pictures and the comments. I feel for everyone in America. It looks so terrifying from the outside. I can’t imagine being under the control of a madman (Trump). Though Australia is far from perfect, there seems to be better care for people with covid. Hope you stay safe.

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  13. Fantastic, Rachel! So proud of you! Thanks so much and Shavua Tov!

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  14. I know how you feel – it’s very difficult to be optimistic about a future so very uncertain. Stay safe and sane, hug your dogs and your mother every day, and hang on to hope.

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  15. it makes me so sad to read comments like these. Our President is not a mad man – but the guy who wants to take his place can’t put six words together into a coherent sentence and somehow he’s going to be better? He wants to lock us all down again, destroying the economy – people are terrified that things will never be normal again and he’s playing on that fear. I prefer hope. Stop listening to one side only, try to think critically about all this – please, don’t buy the fear.

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  16. Except, people are still dying. 230,000 is the current estimate, but it grows every day. We’re so used to Covid that the numbers of dead barely make it into the headlines anymore.
    This saddens me =/

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  17. I try to be hopeful but some days are challenging. Great post! 💗

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  18. Love the flying pic. So full of joy. Hope Tuesday’s result brings us more joy.

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  19. Rachel, I admire and somewhat envy your strong ability to believe in and hope for humanity to come out on the other side of this and be more caring and compassionate. At my core, I have to believe that as well, but it sure has gotten difficult to see it as ardently as you still do, I’m so tired of all things political that I just want it to be done and over with. I’m positioning myself to accept that I’ve survived 4 years with Trump so I can probably survive 4 more, but I’d be overjoyed to know I don’t have to! And yes, we have become somewhat immune to the statistics of COVID amidst all of the political turmoil, which I suspect may not end with declaring a winner of the election process. Thank you for sharing your hopefulness with me so I can inhale it to revive my own!

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  20. Absolutely and it’s good to hear you’re okay

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  21. We can only pray that the evil one in the white house will leave and we can try to get back to a country where people care about each other.

    I love the flying dog picture. It is awesome.

    My projects have been decluttering and painting rooms. But the energy is very different now.

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  22. Good luck for Tuesday… fingers crossed for a landslide defeat. As you say, the damage will take years to fix and the pandemic’s not finished anytime soon, but here’s hoping. Best wishes to you and the doggies.

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  23. Too many people are sick and dying. Too many radicals are escalating the violence. I try to balance the knowledge of the horror with my feeble efforts to say and do positive things.

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  24. Here’s to better tomorrows.

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  25. Tomorrow WILL be better, but it will be different, too. I think it’s hard for those of us who like to plan in concrete ways to accept that we might not know how that looks!

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  26. If anyone doesn’t understand what the borrowed phrase “joie de vivre” means, take a look at “I can fly”! As always, good to see the pooches in good shape and enjoying life! In these difficult times, finding activities that bring joy to our lives helps blunt life’s realities.

    I personally get lots of joy playing “Jane Goddall” with my kitty boy and watching you and others doing the same with their kitty boys and girls and doggy boys and girls.

    Yours couldn’t be sweeter or cuter! Someone once used the expression in response to meeting a friend’s shih tzu, “…so sweet he makes my teeth hurt!” How true in response to your doggies!

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  27. I love your optimism. We can all see what is going on in the world. Some of us try to fix it, others try to ignore it and still others embrace it. We will never understand why some do not share our views, but lying or hitting them over the head to change their minds is not the right way. We all need to embrace kindness and understanding if we want conditions to change. For myself, even though I am Canadian, I am watching the goings on South of the border with fear and trepidation. Fingers crossed for only a good result with gracious winners and gracious losers. Stay well Rachel. Allan

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  28. No worries! Its always darkest just before it turns completely black! Until then there is always Mogen David Concord Grape wine. Better than chocolate!

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  29. Great post Rachel. Like you, for us not much is changing with COVID now, and we shall continue as we have been with masks and gloves when shopping or in strange places, and social distance nearing on total avoidance of strangers. Keep safe.

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  30. Thank you. I love your writing. I am beginning to sense that isolation can bring its own sense of peace. Still, I will be happy to be out in the world when it becomes safe again.

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  31. I have been turning to my 13 year old granddaughter for Netflix suggestions since we both like stories with a little romance, not too much tension and interesting stories. Right now she has us watching “Heartland” about a ranch in Alberta and the family that runs it. Lots of horses. Lots of the Canadian Rockies. And best yet there seem to be a lot of years of it. I find it very calming. I also have been on a ten day fast from any national news. I find my blood pressure seems to be responding favorably. Love to you and your mom and dogs.

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  32. Here in the UK, we in England are being put back into another lockdown on Thursday. In some ways very little will change- I’m still working from home, after all, and doing weekly shopping trips for ourselves and Claire’s mom that are planned and executed like some military exercise (we each have a trolley and seperate shopping list, get in, get out, etc) and can’t see anybody or go over anybody’s house because of existing restrictions and my father being highly at risk due to COPD etc. I don’t think its really living, is it. I was fine with it at first but its definitely getting wearing.

    I hope the Election result that you’re hoping for a) happens and b) proves to actually change the situation, because sadly I’m beginning to wonder if Biden will be much different. Trump is the joke that got scary, and Biden leaves me unconvinced. I suppose that might be Covid draining all hope from every situation. Its changing how I look at the world, like when reading a Philip K Dick or H P Lovecraft story.

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  33. This current combination of political uncertainty and the pandemic and all its restrictions is a concoction that creates a level of unease and potential depression that I’ve never known before. I am usually a pretty upbeat and positive person but on occasions I’ve had to give myself a a serious ‘talking to’. This week we are planting tulip bulbs that will bloom in April and May as well as tidying the garden for the winter. Gardening is always an optimisitic enterprise and knowing that there will be shoots appearing by the end of the year will help me through the current nonsense. We are heading for another lock down here in the UK and as part of my personal mental self care I will not comment any further. Keep your pups flying!

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  34. We’re all in this spot, scared by what might be…

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  35. Wonderful post and great dog pictures. Thanks for this post.

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  36. Lovely post. Hope you are right about the election outcome. So much depends on that result!

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  37. Reading this post-election day. Am trying to remain hopeful about our future and human nature in general… We need kindness and compassion more than ever.

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  38. Hello Rachel, thank you so much for the like on my blog. Following along with you now. Indeed, we must never lose hope, where there is breath, there is hope. Blessings, Lynne

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  39. In my latest blog, which I believe you read, I spoke about the need to overcome cynicism now after four years of Trump. Keep the faith. He will be gone soon.

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  40. Hi Rachel!
    I just happened to come across your site and HAPPY I did! I am loving reading your posts.

    Your furry babies are so adorable and I have 3 therapy cats all with their own funny personalities…LOL. I will be checking out your book on Amazon too. I have 2 blogs on WP and my Book Blog is https://anauthorandwriterinprogress.wordpress.com
    And I have a recovery blog I share my journey now almost 13+yrs.

    I’ll be visiting often as I am a new FAN.

    CAT 🥰😺💞 Catherine Lyon

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  41. Your beautiful writing never ceases to amaze me. I agree with your politics and agree with how you write about it, sharing truth without judgement and that’s a hard way to express thoughts (and I’m working on that myself!) Can you believe we’ve been following each other’s blogs eight years? I feel I should drop a line instead of just “liking” every now and then.

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  42. The dog in leaves pics i find quite comforting.

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