Friday, 8 March 2019

Work-Life Balance by Naomi Elana Zener

Whomever coined the term "work-life balance" for moms should be shot,
For any mother trying to achieve it knows she cannot.
In the truest sense of these magical words,
It means both working and parenting full-time, which is absurd.
Perhaps it is accomplished if one holds employment part-time,
Spending more time with the kiddies is easier and sublime.
Yet if a career is the goal, not simply holding a job,
Better learn to burn the candle at both ends moms, as you quietly sob.
Some vocational fields are "softer" to which women are herded,
More amenable to parenthood, but around feminists dare not be blurted.
Women today are expected to do it all,
While wearing stilettos and not dropping the ball.
Law, medicine, finance, or running a business, to mommies are unforgiving,
For these A+ driven women at everything are used to winning.
Juggling the weighty balls of getting it all done perfectly,
Results in their being dropped and shattering quite frequently.
Disappointment running rampant pouring in from every side,
Need more hours at work! Unsexed hubbies! Neglected kiddies! Mommies run and hide!
Lavish trips, great gifts, consolation prizes bought with that great bonus,
A mea culpa for mommy's absence, which she hopes they don't notice.
Reminding the family that nanny is not mother and wife,
Unhappy with the mess she has made of her life.
Cracked under pressure, women launch into tirades laced with profanity,
Enriching "swear jars" at home, being driven to the point of insanity.
Spontaneous combustion imminently to occur,
"Something's got to give!" she screams " I can no longer be her!!"
Finding even ground before she falls over the cliff,
For excelling at career and family, is but a myth.
Putting family first she must, it's the inevitable decision,
Second place career, hoping not to look upon herself with derision.
As the saying goes, so tired but true,
Being a woman is tough, just do the best you can do.

© 2019. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Bariatric Divorce by Naomi Elana Zener



He took note that the kitchen light was on. Hopping up from his yoga mat in his serenity garden, Albert bounced like an eager bunny toward the house. Upon entering the kitchen, he slammed the door with the ferocity of a jungle cat. Not a lion, but definitely something more powerful than a hyena.

“Honey, where are my Quinoa bars? I left out a plate of them on the counter this morning, and when I came in to drop the kids off at the pool, they were gone.”

Alice, Albert’s wife, was standing in the middle of the kitchen busily whipping up a fresh batch of waffles to compliment the baking pain of chocolat in the oven. Upon seeing Albert standing in his yoga speedo, dripping sweat on her bacteria-free, pristine floor, her nostrils flared. Setting down the bowl, careful not to spill any batter, she placed her hands on her hips, and took a fighter’s stance—legs hip-width apart, stretching the nearly threadbare nightie, barely containing all of her nearly three hundred pounds of loving—ready to spar with Albert. Skinny Albert. Mostly newly skinny Albert.

Albert had been a Rubenesque man who never met a super-sized McDonalds meal he didn’t like. But, with his hips bordering on replacement territory, knee meniscus weary of bearing the load for another mile his shoes would walk them in, and a collection of several cliques of plaque vying to overtake the precious little free real estate left in the caverns of his coronary arteries, he knew it was time to lose weight. At 54, Albert bar mitzvahed himself into becoming a healthy man.

“Do I look like I ate your fucking quinoa bars?” Alice asked rhetorically.

Albert said nothing.

“You come in here, with your exercise-fresh B.O. and accuse me of eating your hay? That’s rich.”

Alice shoved past him to get some crème fraiche and strawberries out of the fridge.

“No, what’s rich is the savory, succulent aroma of pain au chocolat, wafting through the open window into the yard where I’m trying to complete my sun salutations. Jesus Christ woman, can’t you stop baking for forty-five fucking minutes?” Albert wailed.

“Sorry Mr. Paleo. It’s not my fault that you deprive yourself. Maybe if you ate something more than a Dukan-Atkins-South Beach approved bowl of air, you wouldn’t be so miserable.”

Although his body had adapted quite nicely to the dietary changes he’d made, Albert’s olfactory bulbs hadn’t lost their keen ability to dissect the constituent ingredients in Alice’s Ina Garten-worthy cooking concoctions and baked confections. His nose was his albatross.

Alice threateningly waved a hot, melt-in-your-mouth croissant in Albert’s face, forcing him to recoil. He backed away from her and sat down at the kitchen table, beads of sweat still pouring down from his furrowed brow. The smell of Alice’s baking was killing him. With each inhale, he feared he’d consume unwanted calories from carbs, triggering weight gain. This caused him much chagrin since he’d lost one hundred pounds. Now, weighing in at a healthy one hundred and fifty seven pounds and six ounces, Albert was adamant that he’d never be called Fat Albert again. Sitting in the shadow of his wife, almost half her size, he cowered in fear that he tried to hide behind the bravado of a machismo, newly athletic alpha-male.  No matter how hard he tried to come off as a fearsome tiger, he usually failed, and at best, his wife would mock him on each occasion as being a milder version of Puss in Boots.

“Ever since you decided to lose so much damn weight, you’ve become a crankenpuss. It’s ‘do you know how many calories are in this?’ and ‘I just ran so many miles!’ NONSTOP. You’ve had a one-track mind. And, now you want us to both go keto?! I’ve had it up to here with your clean living crap.! Keep it up and I’m gonna divorce you,” Alice threatened.

“Maybe if you joined me in my quest, you could be…”

“Just as miserable as you? No, thanks.” Alice devoured a pain au chocolat in one giant bite.

“Did you even chew?”

“Fark ewe,” Alice garbled, licking the excess chocolate left on her lip.

“Do you have any idea how many calories were in that?”

“No, but I bet you can tell me. Here’s a little math problem for you to solve. If I baked two dozen croissants, all containing 70% dark chocolate, each one roughly the same shape and size, and I intend to eat all of them in one sitting, minus the one I just ate, how many calories do you think I’ll burn when I kick your ass for telling me how many calories I’ll have consumed?”

Albert sat at the table stunned. Alice proceeded to eat the second croissant in the batch.

“Take your time. I’m not going anywhere. But, just know, I can eat a lot faster than it takes you to transition from Downward Dog into Warrior One.”

“How can you eat yourself to death like this?”

“Listen Al, I’m happy with who I am. I like myself. And, I like food. If I want to eat a carrot, I’ll put it in a muffin. If I want to walk, I can take a stroll down the grocery store aisles. I never asked you to lose weight—you chose to do that. And now, while you hang out with your fellow grass munching, meditating compadres, with your faces pressed against restaurant windows, licking your lips upon seeing everyone laughing as they consume their Linguine a la Vongole with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, you must know that they are laughing at you. Well, maybe they aren’t, but I certainly am.”

“But, if you just exercised a bit more, and stopped eating so many carbs, you could lose weight and be happy.”

“Did you lose your hearing when you lost all your weight? I just finished saying that I am happy. When living the way I do no longer makes me happy, I’ll make that change. But, watching just how happy you’ve become after doing a total one-eighty, depriving yourself all the time, I know I’d never be happy living like you.”

“I want to be happy together,” Albert whined. “I think you’d love the biking, running, kayaking…”

“Albert, now you’re just insulting me. Have you seen the size of my ass lately? You expect it to fit into your itty bitty kayak? Come on.”

“You like to walk. We could start slowly and take evening strolls together.”

“Or, you could eat a cupcake. Here.” Alice shoved the plate of croissants at him. “Start with one of these.”

Albert stared at the plate, his mouth watering and his hands trembling. The sweating, which had stopped once the cool air conditioning enveloped his body, had started up again as he used every bit of strength he had to keep his hands from grabbing one, or ten, of the delicious treats.

“Don’t start eating on my account. I don’t want to be resented by you or ever blamed for you gaining weight.  Babe, I think it’s time we separate. I’m never going to stop eating or enjoying it, and you’re never going to start.  Kale is not the new chip, and quinoa is crap. Your weight loss drove a wedge between us.”

“But, I still love you.”

“Maybe, but you love being skinny more. I’m not playing your game of bariatric brinksmanship anymore. I want a divorce.”


© 2019. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Shit Hipster Toddlers Say by Naomi Elana Zener



Lark Café was bustling, Brooklyn’s premier, hip, child-friendly nosherie for parents in the know. Double-wide strollers were parked out front. Fathers with babies of all ages strapped to their chests, sporting matching lumbersexual-approved flannel shirts—and babies’ wisps of hair styled with equal panache to that of their fathers’ beards—balanced their environmentally friendly, Brazilian roasts in one hand, holding in the other one of the newly-minted published works of the  neighbourhood’s auteurs-in-residence. Brooklyn was the Belle Epoque 2.0’s Paris. Chia had barely walked through the door of the resto, with her nanny in tow, when Jono had spotted her from the back playroom, where she was waiting for their drumming circle class to begin. Jono’s mommy was off getting a pesticide-free soy latte.

“Seriously?” Jono asked.

“Seriously,” Chia replied.

Jono, a sweet four-year old girl, named in honour of her parents’ favourite do-gooder, U2’s Bono—had she been born a boy, her name would’ve been Bono, but they felt that she would’ve been ridiculed—a girl named Bono?—was caught offguard by her friend, Chia’s, attire. Bedecked in red jeans and black patent leather Mary Jane’s, topped off with a t-shirt on which a giant, smiling, textured panda face was emblazoned, Chia looked as though she’d stepped out of the Carter’s catalogue.

“Did you fall out of bed this morning? Hit your head?”

Chia shook her head. “My parents took a mini-break to Woodstock. My grandma dressed me.”

Jono instinctively jumped up from the multi-coloured, Flor carpet tiles on which she’d been meditating, to embrace her shell-shocked friend. Chia knew that Jono’s outfit was mocking hers. Standing there clad in indigo-washed denim, a gender-neutral grey Appaman tee underneath a yellow BonTon cardi (purchased secondhand, of course), and a pair of Fiorentini + Baker boots,  Jono, with hers curly, blonde tendrils poking out of an alpaca-knit, zig-zag patterned slouchy beanie, made for her by one of her father’s author friend’s wife, screamed Brooklyn. Normally, Chia was too, but her grandma’s Midwestern flair for outlet mall kids’ clothes shopping prevailed in the absence of her non-GMO eating, Soda Stream drinking, bric a brac knick knack buying hipster parents: Jenny and Benny.

“I should’ve known. Your parents would never dress you in Hello Kitty. That’s so middle America. Chia ignored the dig. She loved her grandma and knew that her grandma had an eternal love for the Japanese girl who she’d always think of as a cat.

“I love your boots,” Chia offered, an olive branch to divert attention from her gran’s sartorial selection. “Are they new Frye boots?”

Jono shook her head. “They’re Fiorentini + Baker. They are the new Frye. You should tell your parents.”

Resume position on mats. Still early enough in the morning before drumming circle, so only two kids in the playroom.

“Where are you going after class?”

“It’s my shift at the food co-op. You?”

“My grandma’s taking me to knitting class.”

“What would you do if your grandma didn’t knit?”

“It’s the only thing she has in common with us anymore,” Chia replied.

“My mom is signing me up for ukulele lessons. Want to come?”

“I’m still doing guitar,” Jono advised. Her parents were adamant that Bono’s namesake be as adept at him on the strings.

“You should tell them that the ukulele is the new guitar.”

Jono shook her head. Never could she believe such words. She reached into her Skip Hop owl lunchbag-cum-purse and pulled out her thick black-rimmed, Peter Sellers-like spectacles. Placing them on her face in a ho-hum manner, she tilted her head trying to get Chia’s attention, which was clearly fixated on flagging down a waitress for a refill of her non-GMO, organic, microbrewed, carob “chocolate” milk. Unsuccessful in her attempts, Chia returned her gaze to her friend, in awe of the glasses occupying precious real estate on Jono’s face.


“Do you like them? Do you think they work for my face?”


“Since when do you wear glasses?”

Jono brushed a curly tendril from her forehead. “Oh, I don’t. They just complete the look, don’t you think?”

“Where did you get that idea?”

“Pinterest. My mama saw it on some knitting board for hipster moms. Something about “leaning into” being hip. She showed it to me before bed, after we’d read Ella.”

“Ella?”

“You don’t know Ella? Ella is the new Eloise! And to think, you live in Brooklyn.”

Chia was ashamed. She knew she should’ve known better.


© 2018. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Buyers' Remorse by Naomi Elana Zener


The room was fuller than usual. More bodies than there were seats. But, this was not unexpected. After all, it was January 1st, the day when people realize their error of their ways—at least for a few days—and set off on a course of resolute action to undo the wrongs of their past.

“Ahem. If everyone could repeat after me?” Leandra asked. The throng hummed in unison.

Please forgive me for the error of my ways,
Give me the sanity and courage to accept the truth,
And the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong.

“We are all here because in our suffering we are united. We, or our loved ones suffer from an affliction, trauma, or loss. Whether it be cancer, Alzheimers, having been raped, the death of loved ones fleeing Syria, or having fallen on hard economic times, collectively our grief is the tie that binds us together.”

Heads bobbed up and down. Tears flowed. Sighs were exhaled. Comforting hugs were shared. This was a common occurrence. However, there was an air of tension in the room, unlike in previous meetings. Leandra’s intuition was tingling—something big was going to happen today.

“Who wants to be the first to share their revelation today?” Leandra asked. Muffled meek voices, mustering courage to speak, caused the room to vibrate with a bashful hum. A petite, young, twenty-something, woman with blonde hair raised her voice to be heard through the ceiling. “I will.”  The crowd fell silent as she walked to the podium at the front of the room. Leandra handed the woman the microphone before stepping back to let her take center stage.

“Hi, I’m Sandra. And, I have buyer’s remorse.”

“Hi Sandra,” the room replied.

“Six months ago, my friend was raped.” Gasps punctuated the air. “She was at a bar with friends and someone slipped GHB into her rum and coke. She woke up in a hotel room next to a strange man whom she had no recollection of ever meeting. I’ve survived the horrors of what happened to her, but believe that I could’ve prevented it from happening.” Sandra paused. She bowed her head. Leandra approached her, placing her hand on the small of Sandra’s back to reassure her that she was in a safe place. 

“Why do you blame yourself?” Leandra prodded.

“You know those straws? The ones that can detect date rape drugs slipped into drinks?” Leandra nodded her head along with many other attendees. “Well, they were handing them out on campus, and I convinced my friend not to take them.”

“Why not?” a man shouted.

“Because they were invented in Israel,” Sandra whispered into the microphone.

The gasps in the air stole the oxygen in the room.

“If only I hadn’t bought into the Israeli boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, you know, BDS? My friend wouldn’t have been violated. At least now I see the error of my thinking.”

Mouths once agape, closed. Heads nodded knowingly.

“Let’s give Sandra a round of applause.” The room obliged. “You’ve taken the first step.  Now, you’ve come to accept the truth and know the difference between right and wrong,” Leandra advised.

“Yes, the BDS movement is dead wrong,” Sandra exclaimed. A tsunami of applause carried Sandra back to her seat, where she collapsed into a group hug upon her return.

“Who wants to go next?” Leandra probed.

A middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair, emanating a professorial vibe, took to the aisle and marched towards the podium.

“Hello, I’m Gabe. And, I too suffer from buyer’s remorse.”

“Hi, Gabe.”

“I’m a hypocritical former BDS supporter. I came to realize that while I don’t support many actions undertaken by the current Israeli government, in supporting the BDS movement I’ve helped to poison the well, contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism around the world.”

“Why are you a hypocrite?” a random voice shouted from the back of the room.

“Because while I supported the BDS movement, I sent my wife to Israel for treatment of her leukemia. The brilliant minds at Tel Aviv University developed this breakthrough technology—GAGomers—that targets blood cancers with amazing results. My false courage of conviction easily shattered when it became clear that supporting a movement detrimental to my wife’s survival was one that was at odds with logic. Who wouldn’t do everything to save the life of a loved one?”

Some in the room jumped to their feet.

“I did it too for my son!” a man shouted.

“And, I sent my wife to Israel to treat her MS,” a woman cried.

“Who here uses a computer?” Gabe asked.

There wasn’t a single lowered arm in the room.

“And, who here uses a cellphone?”

The wave of arms remained afloat, some still holding their precious appendages. “But, you don’t hear Roger Waters saying he’ll stop using his cellphone or the Internet, do you?” a man shouted. 

“Heck, many parts of the Windows’ operating system were developed in Israel,” Leandra added. “Therein lies the rub. The not-so-dirty secret of the BDS movement is that they don’t actually boycott Israel, but pay lip service to an anti-Semitic ideology.”

Heads slowly began to hang in shame.

“I guess if we are really to commit to supporting the BDS movement, we really have to live in a bubble and give up using pretty much all technology and never access life-saving medical treatments,” Sandra shouted.

The crescendo of buyers’ remorse fervor rose.

“Guess we won’t see any of those BDSers crossing that fancy new bridge in China since it was built by Israelis?” a voice cried out.

“They can all jump off of it!” Gabe cried.

“Gai kaken auf in yam!” someone shouted.

“What does that mean?”

“Let them go take a shit in a lake.”
 
A heavyset man, dressed in coveralls with the name “Farmer Bill” affixed to his chest, charged the stage, grabbing the mic from Gabe’s hand.

“Speaking of shit, it was bad enough when I had to switch diapers from Pampers to generic because Proctor and Gamble does business with Israel, give up my computer because of Intel, and sell my Volvo, but to see my crops die because I was too stupid to realize that Israeli agro-technology will help me grow my business, no siree bob will I live with the prospect of that possibility,” Farmer Bill stated.

“Everyone in this room is here because we all suffer from buyers remorse. There’s much to be grateful to Israel for: the ApiFix that corrects curvature of spine for scoliosis, the incredible Rewalk robot—the exoskeleton we all saw on Fox’s TV show Glee, and for discovering one of the main reasons for the seizures, memory loss and cognitive impairment that Alzheimer’s patients suffer, which may lead to a cure for the disease,” Leandra advised.

“Don’t forget that Bill Gates has said that Israeli tech research and development will improve the world,” Farmer Bill shouted.

The room roared. “We love Israel! We love Israel!” Gabe launched himself off the stage, crowd surfing the sea of outstretched arms.

Waving her iPad in her hand, Leandra grabbed the mic fervently. “Breaking news folks. Israel may have just found a cure for Melanoma! And, it’s going to start exporting it’s pot to the world. BDSers are fucked!”

The room erupted with thunderous applause.

“It’s time we make things right. Let’s decry BDS publicly, and buy Israeli products openly. And, if we really want to make good on the error of our ways, we should visit the Land of Honey.”

Heads nodded. Members of the Israeli tourism board, who’d been seated at the back of the room, stood up, ready to embrace Israel’s newest tourist hopefuls. Bodies spilled out of their seats in a flurry to the back of the room.

“Thank you all for coming. And, before you leave, please don’t forget to pick up your complimentary Soda Stream on your way out,” Leandra advised.  




© 2017. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.



Friday, 12 May 2017

WINE

When I told hubby I was ready for pregnancy,
Chardonnay, I had to legally separate from thee!
About fetal alcohol syndrome I was forwarned,
So our affair went on hiatus, indefinitely postponed .
Though not a big drinker I missed my libatious lover,
Our relationship one could not put asunder.
We were parted for almost a year,
Whether you'd remember me was my fear.
For nine long dry months how I watched others enjoy you,
To not partake in the nectar of the gods made me feel blue.
Well-behaved was I, avoiding you completely full stop. 
Each time my eyes met you I tasted not one drop.
While I never craved you before my pregnancy,
Your absence made my heart grow fonder of thee.
Upon the departure of my baby from the womb,
Very quickly thereafter our old love returned in full bloom!
With an inconsolable crying baby,
Nightly imbibing is what saved me.  
Only one glass and sometimes only half-full,
Enough to drown out the sobs of which my head was full.
Soon wine with dinner was added to the mix,
Adding a second glass to my nightly fix.
Loving my child greatly but from her screaming wanting to flee!
My sweet baby's colic was making an alcoholic out of me!
Decidedly returning to a teetotaler state,
Commited to no longer being an inebriate.
I poured out the wine removing every drop from my house,
Forced to join me on the wagon was my faithful spouse.
And to combat baby's nightly colic shriek and shout, 

I purchased ear plugs to drown her cries out.

(C) 2017. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.