I Am My Own Yenta

Many of you know that I met my husband because of a piece I wrote for The Forward in 2008. Now the paper has made a short video about our epistolary/hurricane/cross-continental romance, which means that David will become the first goy Jewish movie star and I will become a beacon of hope for single Jewish girls everywhere.

Watch it here! A huge thank you to Nate Lavey and Blair Thornbourgh, who made the short and wrote the story. We are dying of embarrassment  love it!

PS: Notice the menorah in the background during the interview. Totally unintentional strategic.


This is What Happens…

…when a linguist and a writer get together to write their own wedding vows. Tears of frustration joy ensue.



(Yes, “outrageously beautiful” is from a Magnetic Fields song.)


Yes, That’s Us.

We made the Vows column in The New York Times! We are dying of embarrassment thrilled. (David has coined me the “shyest lover of attention” he’s ever met.)

To be frank, David and I can hardly believe we made it under the Huppah at all. When we came home from our four-day-long hurricane wonderland first date last August, I told my friends that if I had known how it would all go down (no power, no running water, no phone, no flushing toilets), I would never have let a total stranger who had written to me out of the blue and could possibly be a total psycho David sleep in my bed, protect me from bears and falling trees, hang out with my parents  read Crossing to Safety to me in the dark.

A shot from the hurricane. I took this after David moved a tree trunk out of the road.

Although David’s education alone would have gotten us into Vows (he totally outscores me), I actually had to force the poor New York Times fact checker to read the How We Met portion of the “application” (really, it’s an application, and really, I kept him on the phone and waited while he went through it: “It’s very eventful,” he finally admitted). Anyway, you can read The Times’ very lovely version here. You can read my original hereAnd you can read the piece that got it all started hereI have often said that if I could go back in time and tell that lonely and confused 29-year-old that one 900-word essay would eventually garner her a husband, she would never have believed me.


Germans have a million words for Goodbye

As a writer, I was convinced I thought a lot about words. But when you live with a linguist, words take on a whole new dimension. Every root and meaning is accounted for. It’s exhausting exhilarating. Anyway, this is all to say, I now know that Germans have a lot of words for saying goodbye. Just leaving a store, you say goodbye nine different ways (ciao! tschuss! auf wiedersehen!). There are different goodbyes for different times of the day, etc. Anyway, today’s post is heavy on photos and light on words because all my words have been packed away we are leaving tomorrow morning and I can’t think straight wanted to share a few farewell-to-Munich images. Also, I don’t really know how to say ciao! tschuss! auf wiedersehen!  goodbye to this experienceThis time tomorrow we’ll be watching episode after episode of Parenthood and sobbing flying over the Atlantic. Here are a few shots I haven’t shared.


A wall partly destroyed during the war — and many, many bikes. (Bicyclists are deadly here have the right of way. In related news, barely anyone in Munich is overweight.)

Shut the fuck up Scholarship (this image is in the hallway of the Thesaurus linguae Latinae).

Our darling London hostess, practicing yoga in her backyard.

The conservative Shul in Munich. For obvious reasons, the actual prayer room is underground. We went to services once, and although David and I had to sit separately (the women were sort of half hidden), the Rabbi’s young daughters were dancing around the Bimah. This was confusing.

The Munich Opera House. After I took this, I was almost arrested my phone was almost confiscated. We saw an awful mediocre Jerome Robbins piece and a Jiri Kylian piece that blew my mind.

We got engaged. Then we ate pizza.

David got me on a bike for the first time in 5 years. I love it so much I might leave him for it never drive a car again. (Mom, don’t worry, I was riding on the sidewalk.)

We finally convinced someone else to hang out with us take our picture.

Okay, back to cleaning. More substance to come. I swear.


Watering the Beast

This has been my view for the last four + months:

I brought very few books here to Munich because I’m a very slow reader you can only pack so many books in a bag that you then force very politely ask your husband-to-be to carry. David is actually a bit of a book fiend, so he doesn’t mind — he has a storage space back in California devoted entirely to Greek books. (There are apparently something like 4,000 books in it. Wish us luck when we finally have our own permanent home and all those suckers come with us. I might have to consult Anne Fadiman on that one.)

Anyway. I digress.

Since February, I’ve been looking at these eight (or nine if your count the mini Shambhala book). But really I’ve been looking at these three: Claire Dederer’s Poser; Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head; and more recently, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I’ve carried them to and from the Thesaurus linguae Latinae and left them open on my desk. I’ve pored over them, underlined and dog-eared pages, read and re-read and re-re-read, asking myself (head in hands, sometimes in awe, sometimes in frustration): How did she do that? Why is it that after sixteen reads I still cry at this one spot? Why is this still so funny? How does she get so swiftly to this moment of recognition? How did these writers not give up on themselves?

You know the drill. These books are beautiful and brilliant guides for writing a book. I am in awe of these women. I want to bow down and thank them for having, above all else, finished these amazing works so that I could carry them into my life and be changed and inspired by them.

The last few days I’ve spent too much time watching Parenthood (on a related note: HOW GOOD IS IT?!) had a bit of an ache in my heart. We leave Munich in a week, and so much has changed since we arrived in the dead of winter. For one, I still can’t speak German I’m leaving with a hubby-to-be. We have a wedding weddings (don’t ask) to plan. We know where we’ll be living next year (more on this another time, but let’s just say it doesn’t involve speaking English). We’ve made a few wonderful friends here and I’ll miss our quiet life — one without beeping cell phones or the regular consumption of vegetables an overpacked New York schedule. I’ll miss this private time in which we became true partners.

And yet, I don’t think this ache has anything to do with that. It has to do with (almost) coming to the (first) end of my 250-page beast of a thesis — a project I’ve been carrying around in my head and my heart and — really — my body for years. It is only a draft and will need to be thrown out rewritten in a million ways before I can call it a book without laughing (I call it a “book”), but I will now be able to graduate something preliminary and real is on the page. So many far more qualified people have written about this experience, so I won’t embarrass myself further go on about it, but suffice it to say, it is satisfying and horrifying all at once. It will probably never be all I want it to be, and yet, it is something small and precious and workable and alive. I’ll continue to water it and keep you posted.


Life From Here…

…looks something like this:

And like this:

And, finally, like this:

Apparently the only way I can write a damn thing is by tearing myself away from wedding blogs (kill me) surrounding myself with something I have absolutely zero interest in Latin. I’ve been like Dolly Parton a 9-5 girl these days, going to the TLL — the Thesaurus linguae Latinae — where my hubby-to-be writes entries for a Latin dictionary. (No, not a joke. An astonishing project I wrote about here.) Those little filing cabinets are stuffed with tiny slips of paper, each documenting where and when a specific Latin word has been referenced in the past, like, gazillion years.  (I sit near M, so look at “murmur” and “murmurous” all day.) He’s finishing up the word “refuge.” Before that he worked on “recognize” for — I kid you not — six months. Talk about craziness patience.

Working in a library with no internet, where it has taken a rotating crew of scholars — again, I kid you not — 112 years to get from the letter A to the letter R, I have a whole new perspective on the word slow perseverance. Totally and completely refreshing.


Happy Sunday in Munich

Yes, we went biking! (I haven’t been on a bike since 2005, when I dropped out of graduate school because of my back injury. Progress, people!)

More when I finish my thesis/finish planning a wedding/finish moving very soon. I hope promise.

Much love,

Abs xx