Holiday Bonus

Orion Rising in the EastFirst and foremost: Happy Holidays to All!

I’m happy to say that I just sold my story, “Marie and the Mathematicians” to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. It will be appearing in issue #27. Two sales in a row is a holiday bonus I wasn’t at all expecting.

By a strange confluence of the stars, Christmas and Hanukkah overlap this year, Hanukkah beginning on Christmas Day at sundown. As any Jewish kid growing up in Christian America, I couldn’t help be fascinated with this season, not just for the gifts, but in the way everything seemed to slow down on Christmas. I watched “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with glee. The smell of pine was strong in my nose when I went over to my friends’ houses and their trees were dripping sap onto the carpet. I listened aptly as my friend described how he would sneak down to the tree Christmas morning and check out his gifts. Let’s face it, I was jealous.

But something else about the season always got me: the menorah. There was something wonderful about lighting the menorah for not just one day and night, but eight. Hanukkah candles usually come in rainbow colors, which to me symbolized the joy of the season: a time of gifts, but also a time of rest from school and from the labor of life (okay I wasn’t quite working a job yet, but you know what I mean). Perhaps it’s my solipsistic way of thinking, but today’s holiday season feels like it has less of that magic. Granted, I’m not living with my parents and my friends are mostly in their 30s, but I miss the ethereal feeling that overwhelmed me during this season. “Peace on Earth” boasted the Christmas banners. I feel like they’re now boasting, “Shop on Earth.” But maybe I’ve just gotten older.

At the very moment I write this, WKCR FM 89.9 just began their Bach Festival. You can listen live on their site. A few years ago I wrote the following single, long sentence for a class to symbolize the feeling this time of year engenders in me. I’ll leave you with it as a holiday gift (or lump of coal, you decide):

“Whenever the ubiquitous lights of Christmas and Hanukkah stretch across the landscape like magical wild flowers glowing resplendent in a night-time field, whenever the brief, cold, and blustery days of winter end with dawdling orange twilights and culminate with infinite ethereal nights of dreamy star-laden skies, whenever WKCR FM, 89.9, Columbia University radio, broadcasts the manifold concertos, sonatas, and suites of Johan Sebastian Bach perpetually for ten days, driving their listeners into frenzied epiphanies of concurrent bliss and madness with fugues of untold genius and bottomless inspiration, and especially whenever my soul, long, haggard, and wearied from a tiresome year of emotional, intellectual, and ineffectual toil, calls out for a rest, a respite, a relief, and a review of all that which has borne fruit and all that which has fallen deciduously away, then, I find myself sitting alone, under the hoary glow of candles which are burning low, under the enchanted night-time rainbow of myriad tiny bulbs, with alcohol sitting in my belly and steadily warming my heart, watching Orion the Hunter and brilliant Sirius rise in the East, listening to BWV 1051 in B Flat Major build to crescendo, slowly letting myself go mad, yet feeling blissful at the same time, wondering in silent soliloquy at the meaning behind all things, and in the very same moment, not caring in the least about a single thing, content to sit in peace and in silence, if only for a little while, or perhaps, until the lights go out.”

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