Mother Daughter Mashup

Mother and daughter respond to life, love, and growth.

Month: April, 2013

Music that turns anger into solace

by Anita Diamant

A few years ago, I wrote song lyrics with and for jazz composer Bert Seager. It almost seems that those one could have been created for this moment in time.


Last night I heard the music
Songs from a broken heart
Out of a ravaged city
Where the reasons fell apart

Melodies sung by mourners
How does the soul survive
How can we bear not knowing
Will the promise stay alive?

But if someone’s writing music
In the darkness, in the ruins
There a hope of turning anger
Into solace, in a tune

On a piano, with a banjo
Or a lone voice in a room
Someone’s playing, someone’s singing
Morning’s coming, coming soon.

Never forget the sorrow
Never regret the tears
Just as the birds make morning
Voices can banish fear

‘Cause if someone’s writing music
In the darkness, in the ruins
There a hope of turning anger
Into solace, in a tune

On a piano, with a banjo
Or a lone voice in a room
Someone’s playing, someone’s singing
Morning’s coming, coming soon.

The song appears on the album  REQUITED, whichis available for download or CD purchase on CDBaby. Performed by Bert with a great combo and singer Rebecca Shrimpton.


The Marathon Forward

by Emilia Diamant

This is my city. I grew up a Masshole, I will always be one. My earlier posts here have shown just how much I missed Boston, and how grateful I am to be home. I’ve been at a loss the past few days–writing and rewriting, erasing over and over–trying to figure out what to write.

And now it seems like this particular part of the nightmare might be over.

But now comes our marathon of recovery. The mourners have grieving to do, the survivors have rehab to endure and those near the blast will address issues related to PTSD–sleeplessness, anxiety, and more. Our entire city, nay our entire country, will continue to watch with baited breath as details come out, as our justice system (hopefully) does its work, and we get some answers. We’ll examine how this happened, look at every photo, examine every Tweet, and probably come up with the same answers we had on Monday–things like this just don’t make sense.

I say we have a marathon ahead of us because, as runners or those in recovery know, the road is long. There are phases–the beginning is easy, the middle feels impossible, right before the end you almost give up, and then there’s a finish line. But as we learned Monday the finish line isn’t always a safe or good place, sometimes it brings you to a new set of complications and needs and goals. But a finish means something accomplished, something achieved.

Recovery is more than twelve steps. A marathon is more than 26 miles. These things take time, training and re-training, and endurance. We are now in this for the long haul, Boston. My city has been hurt and we are going to take years to recover.

But tonight, just maybe, we can all sleep a little easier knowing that we’ve started the marathon forward.

Primary Colors

by Emilia Diamant

My city is red and blue and yellow and grey now

The gold dome is gleaming like nothing happened, the sun beats down without thought for the dead and maimed

Insensitive sun. Insensitive dome.

And we glance at each other for a millisecond longer than usual

Unsure if we should smile or if a suspecting scan is appropriate

My city is crying with wails of sirens and mourners

They harmonize above the chirps of birds threatening spring showers

The conductors call out for more vigilance and care underground

And I hold my breath at each open and close of the doors

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

My city is empty

Peeking our heads out we walk the dog quickly

Make jokes when we can but really nothing feels funny yet

And our TV screens are exhausted, as we are, as are the brave ones

Who likely haven’t slept in days

My city will return

But not today.

Boston Common Memorial

Boston Common MemorialIMG_5067 IMG_5068 IMG_5070

Pop up Memorials

by Anita Diamant

I’ve been walking into walls the past few days, trying to make myself believe that Boston was a target of terrorism — is a target of terrorism. I had to watch that video 20 times for it to sink in: The plume of white smoke, the screams, the second explosion, the heroic rush to rescue.

Two days later, Commonwealth Avenue in Newton was swept clean of paper cups and orange peels. The trees are budding. The beauty of this spring feels like an affront to the dead, the wounded, the mourners, and all the rest of us who find ourselves walking into walls as we put one foot in front of the other.

On Wednesday night, I took my “little” girl to the Big Apple Circus. Emilia is 27-years-old and has two inches on me but this was our family tradition throughout her childhood and it was planned as a celebration of her move back to Boston after five years in the diaspora. I bought the tickets in February.

On her way downtown on the T, Emilia was reminded at every stop to be vigilant. Passing Massachusetts General Hospital, Jim and I thought about lost limbs and broken hearts.

We were reassured by the K-9 patrol and state troopers posted outside the big top. We were happy to be part of a big crowd of families and children, gasping and giggling at the performance, terror-free for a couple of hours. After the show, we passed a local camera crew interviewing a dad who said something about how we can’t stop living and that’s what we were doing at the circus.

Not that we’re going to forget. There will be vigils and prayer services and moments of silence; plaques and bronze statues in memorium; charities and foundations funded to help and heal. All good. But it’s all still raw.

Before the circus, we took a walk around Boston Common. I wanted to see the gazebo and one of the temporary, do-it-yourself, shrines that now dot our city. Made of candle wax, roses, notes and posters, they serve as temporary memorials to the dead. And though God’s name is invoked, along with quotes from sermons and scripture, these offerings are more civic than religious.

Pop-up memorials owe their meaning and their random beauty to the efforts of a community of neighbors — and strangers. They express the emotional connection and commitment that comes with being a citizen — of Boston, the USA, the human race. They affirm the consolation of solidarity. All are welcome.

We are much too familiar with these heart-breaking shrines. Oklahoma City, 9/11, Tucson, Sandy Hook; I hate seeing Boston added to the list. I hate the list.

But it can’t end with hate. I add a few words to the local colloquy about who we are, I sign up to give blood, and I promise not to surrender to the lie that we are helpless to stop this madness.


This piece was cross-posted on WBUR’s Cognoscenti. 

“I don’t teach.”

by Emilia Diamant

My mother is frequently invited to teach. Universities, synagogues, adult education programs, and the like are always reaching out to her, asking her to teach writing or literature or how to successfully reclaim ancient Jewish ritual. Y’know, small things.

When she’s asked she almost always says, “I’ll speak, but I don’t teach. I’m not a teacher.”

And in my mind, when I hear her say things like that I can only think of my classic line…

“Oh, Anita.”

Why do I internally roll my eyes when my mother says she’s not a teacher?

Because she is. Obviously.

She doesn’t prepare lesson plans or set objectives, no. She hasn’t studied different pedagogical techniques for engaging students. She isn’t “a teacher” in that way we all think, traditionally, of teachers.

She DOES impart her own experience and knowledge in a way that is exciting, interesting, and dynamic. My mother allows other people the room to disagree, to wrestle with ideas, and to engage with one another. She teaches in the way that we all hope to teach–she is an innovative thinker, a brilliant writer (duh), and a caring leader. These three things, for me, are what I strive for as I “teach” more traditionally.

If I can inspire one teen to try out a new idea, if I can move someone to push themselves out of their comfort zone, I feel like I’ve done my job as a teacher. Basically, I want to emulate my mother when I teach…because she teaches. It’s hard to convince her of that, though. Today at lunch she settled on “I’m not THAT kind of teacher.”

I’ll take it. But I still hope to be as charismatic and popular an educator as she is one day.