We have a blue Ikea bookcase in the hall that has been tilting for a long time now, but there’s been so much else going on that it never seemed important enough to try to fix it or replace it. We have bookcases everywhere, and I have five in my room alone, so one tilting bookcase didn’t seem like an emergency; until one of the shelves fell, and even then we just put “shelf pins” on the shopping list and eventually bought some, and of course, forgot to put them in. And then another shelf fell. And I still can’t be bothered to deal with the damned thing.
It’s not that a bookcase is such an expensive thing to replace, especially if we get another one from Ikea, its more that we’d have to actually go to Ikea, carry the heavy box to the car and from the car to the apartment, and then put the thing together, oh, and also empty the broken bookcase and take the broken pieces down to the garbage and refill the new bookcase.
I don’t have the energy for any of that, let alone all of it.
I’ve been trying to clear out the “extra books” from my collection for years now (so that we wouldn’t need so many bookcases), by re-reading the books that I’m on the fence about. I’ve already filled two boxes with books I no longer need, but giving books away is harder than you’d think. The library never wants them, and finding a place that wants the books, on the third Thursday of the month, at twilight, still requires carrying heavy boxes of books out to the car. So at this point I still have a box of discarded books on the floor, next to the bookcases, and I still have three shelves full of books to read through. I also have a bad habit of ordering more books all the time.
This feels like a metaphor for the way my brain has been lately: overwhelmed with ideas to follow up on, all resting on iffy shelves and waiting for me to start culling through them; but I can’t even think straight enough to do the culling before another ten or twenty ideas pile on. I feel like every day I’m looking at these tilting shelves in my brain, knowing that it’s all going to overflow at any moment, with no idea how to stop it.
I decided to take a break from going to online Hebrew classes for a few months, because I’ve been struggling to stay focused during the classes this past semester, and because the time I spend in those classes and doing the homework for them has kept me from doing other important things on my to-do list. I’m hoping to get back to the classes over the summer, when I have more free time to focus, but I feel the loss of the socializing and the Hebrew already. I still don’t even know what to do with all of the Hebrew I’ve learned so far, or why it’s been such an obsession for at least two years, if not my whole life.
I feel like there’s a path I should be on, and a long term goal I should be working towards, and that Hebrew language learning is part of it; but I don’t know what that goal is. I don’t want to move to Israel, and I don’t particularly want to go back to school full-time to become a translator or a rabbi or a cantor. I would like to go deeper into Jewish education, if I can, working with teens, maybe, as well as with the younger kids, and maybe even doing curriculum development. But I don’t know of a path to get there, and I don’t want all of that to be instead of writing my novels – the notes for which have filled up a bunch of shelves of their own.
I feel like there’s a whirlwind in my brain, pushing me in different directions all the time, keeping me confused and off kilter, and I’m worried that my internal bookshelves are as wonky as the ones in the broken bookcase in the hall, and it will all tumble down at any moment.
My hope is that once synagogue school is over for the year, I’ll be able to concentrate on all of those ideas whirling around in my brain, and organize them, and maybe even choose some to work on. But I’m afraid I’ll be as busy with doctors and tests this summer as I was last summer, without much improvement in my health to show for it, and those wonky internal shelves will just keep tilting.
But I keep slowly reading through my piles of books, and writing down all of my ideas, and sorting and discarding when I can, because this is how I move forward. It’s not especially practical, or fast, but it’s the way my mind works, so it will have to do for now.
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?