Showing posts from 2009

diving buddy

When I was a little girl, I used to love when my mother changed the sheets in my parents’ room. She would lift the drier-warm cloth over her head and throw it across the great expanse of bed- and I would squeal and dive under it, a quick visitor in a bright sheet-cave that collapsed over me. My mother would pretend to grumble, Bat-Sheva, get out from there, I need to make the bed . And I would pretend to agree and tumble off - only to dive in again when she threw the sheet across a second time. I could play the game forever, I never tired of it, and would only give up when the grumble in my mother’s voice became genuine, Bat-Sheva STOP . Then years passed, and I forgot to play the game. And then more years passed and I forgot I had ever played the game. And then more years passed and I got Marlow. Marlow is my cat . Every time I get out the laundry bag, his butt gives a little wiggle. I throw up the sheet and he dives underneath, scuttling around in the little tent, attacking

'ween 09

It was long past four am. We were resting for a minute on some stranger’s couch. Everyone around us was still dancing, a mass of bouncing, happy feathers and ribbons and funny hats. D turned to look at me, her eyes wide with joy. “I’m just so happy to be here.” She was covered in body glitter and handmade cardboard spirals. A glowing, beautiful figure of a girl. We were both nearly thirty. But this was New York. There was dancing to be had, and parties to crash. And there was a moment, surrounded by the thunder of it all, that we both gave a little sigh of thanks.

the way it goes

Back in the spring of ’08, young Bat-Sheva was denied both love and an impressive directing job, both positions having been passed on to some other young upstart. This weekend, the front page of the New York Times’ Arts section showcased the work of the director who got the latter gig, and found his work to be totally lame. The article spent a portion of its page real-estate faulting the man who hired the director for his bad decision-making. A much-hardened Bat-Sheva of autumn ’09, is not quite sure how to take this news. She is considering putting the article on her fridge. Or just forgetting about it and going back to work.


      I don’t know where I learned it, maybe in an episode of This American Life , but somewhere I heard that if a bird flies into your home, it symbolizes a soul.      “So what does it mean if you bring the bird into your house yourself?” Katerina asked. I wasn't really sure. This bird was flightless with a crooked right wing, a little yellow and black thing, so small you could crush it between your fingers. It was waiting to die outside our building, so Katerina just scooped the creature up and brought him inside. We made a nest out of an old box and some newspaper, filled a bowl with water and birdseed and watched to see what would happen.      It’s interesting how such a tiny little animal can fill a house so completely. For a whole week this summer, Katerina fussed over him like a mother hen. She followed a careful distance behind while he hopped around the corners of the apartment. She went to the store and brought him back live crickets, then worried that he wouldn

and, check.

     I was in my room, trying to work. Kat was in hers, painting it the much debated shade of “ballet white.” Suddenly there was a shout and a crash, and then her door opened and she peered her head around the corner.      “Whelp,” she said, “I can now cross off my list stepping-into-a-bucket-of-paint-with-my-bare-foot.”      "Awww,” I leaned back in my chair. “It’s your bucket list!”


They say you should have a life that is full of good stories. And I think, so far, I’ve had a great many stories in mine. At night some times, I lie in bed and remember one until I fall asleep. Like that time we shot in Hilton Head and went down to the beach before sleeping. We waded out by the moon water, and I said, if you had told me a year ago that I’d be here tonight, I would have laughed at you. And then you said, if you had told me a month ago… Other nights I lie in bed and remember stories that haven’t happened yet. Like the one where you show up in my city and say, I’ve missed you.

but of course, there's brooklyn

But of course, there is Brooklyn. And then, there is summer in Brooklyn.      I was sitting in the sunbeam on the armchair, muddling in a friday heaviness; sleepy with sad. Katerina was sitting on the couch, dejected from her job search. “Bah,” I said, legs over the side of the chair, a scrooge in the sunshine.      “Hmm,” she said.      “Boo,” was my response. We sat there a while longer in the thick heat, not saying much else. Katerina looking at something on her laptop, I looking at nothing.      “You know what we ought to do?” she said after a while of this, after I had sighed twice and scowled out the window.      “Burn some sage?” I said without looking up, my eyes closing a little at some new pessimism.      “Burn some sage? I was going to say go to the beach.”      “Oh…” I rolled over like a cat to the other side of the chair. “We could do that too.”      “No, let’s burn some sage,” Katerina said in the way that makes me love her. “I like that idea.”      “

after spring

We could have left it alone. A pearl. But we were human, and so instead chose to follow to see where it led us, muddying up the story, hurting ourselves.

dinner walk

We finished shooting at midnight on Adam’s last night in the Barcelona. It was a Sunday and all the stores had closed, so we huddled around the lone avocado that I had purchased the day before and split it three ways for our dinner. Adam rounded up all his gear and fell asleep exhausted, Chris stepped into the garden to call his girlfriend, and I dragged a chair into the hallway and tried to understand why I suddenly felt like crying. I wrote out a postcard to Sarah: I don’t want to go back to Brooklyn.         Finally Chris emerged. “Is Adam asleep?”         “Yeah,” I said, wiping at my eyes.         “Do you want to go out and try to find some food?”         So Chris and I set out into the deserted streets in search of food. Through the ghostly, empty labyrinth of the Goti, weaving our way past the building shaped like a boat, across the road by the sea where the late night skater teens eyed each other, then we sat awhile, singing songs by the harbor while the boats twinkled in

heavy junk

The number one thing we all spoke about afterwards was how present we were. All our past and future heavinesses stayed behind in the states, making us as light as air and quick to laughter.         “You know what’s so great?” Adam said, midway between a your-mom joke and an instruction to take a left at yet another breathlessly beautiful building. “Not once have we… you know what-- never mind.” There was no point in drawing attention to it.         “No, YOUR mom has junk that is also heavy,” I chimed in. They were still laughing at my terrible delivery as we rounded the corner and made our way to breakfast.

batbat sings

My piano teacher used to issue this warning: "jack of all trades, master of none." But what if jack is just happy puttering away on logic and then posting anonymously to the cacophony of myspace? Anyway, here are some happily mediocre, late-night adventures in songwriting -- --

movie magic

        So my short film was about a man who finds a magic ring in the fountain at the Plaza Real. He slips it on his finger and is immediately split in two. He is lost, he is torn. He chases himself endlessly through the labyrinth of the Bari Goti.         I had bought a ring, a prop ring, at a costume jewelry store in Greenpoint before departing for Barcelona. But when it came time to shoot my short, four days into our adventure, the ring was nowhere to be found. I dug through every cranny of the room, emptied every pocket, but it never materialized.         “Magic Ring! Reveal Yourself To Me!” I called out the spell that had worked so well for Sarah when she couldn’t find the tuner button on the stereo, but further inspection of pockets and drawers revealed nothing. Chris closed his eyes and whispered a quick prayer to Saint Anthony for the magic ring. “Tony’s found my some pretty crazy shit,” he said. And still, I never found it.         So instead, I found a little shop th

flamenco shot list

It was a bit of a tall order: three short films and three travel channel episodes. In four days. It didn’t leave a lot of time for preproduction. We fueled ourselves on a cocktail of adrenaline and sunshine, funny jokes, and the joy of mixing filmmaking with travel and red wine. Chris woke at dawn the morning we were to shoot his film, and wrote his shot list while the rest of us were still sleeping. When I opened my eyes, only a few hours after the previous night’s party, he was already in costume, working on his laptop. “Going to get some props, be right back,” he said while Adam grumbled over to brush his teeth. “Did you sleep at all?” I asked, blinking myself awake. “A bit.” He rushed out the door.      I had planned to figure out my film and write my shot list after we finished shooting Adam’s short, but the shoot spilled right into the party. So then I decided to figure out my film and write my shot list after we finished Chris’ short. But by the time we completed our da

walking blind part III

It was late morning on our fourth day in Barcelona. We were in a coffeeshop. We were bleary-eyed from wine and parties and long film shoots, sipping our coffee, looking at the shotlist for the day, our minds on adventures and architecture and extravagant amounts of sunshine. We were talking about the themes of my film. I said, “At first I felt that if I ever came upon a portal to another dimension, I wouldn’t see it. And then last year, I realized that if I ever saw a portal to another dimension, I wouldn’t even use it.” Adam’s double espresso had just taken effect, and his eyes went suddenly bright. “But you did use it,” he said. “You’re here.” And he was right.

and now, spring.

I was at brunch on a cloudy Sunday in March, eating omelettes and talking about the state of the world, when Adam said, “If you’re not working this week, do you wanna go on an adventure?” I said yes before I heard the scheme. That is how, three days later, I stepped onto an airplane with a work colleague and a complete stranger, our suitcases filled with cameras and costumes, on a red-eye flight to Barcelona.


Once upon a time, I stepped out of Brooklyn and went to live on a little farm in Massachusetts. I put cranberries in my pockets and tickled goat chins and learned the stories of strangers. And time passed and autumn came, and when the leaves fell from the trees, I returned.

hearts and barns

There were two of them building the barn. Brothers. Or that’s how he explained it. “Well, he’s like a brother to me,” the first carpenter said. “See, he dated this woman for a while and then he married her and they had two kids. Then, see, they split up. And later, she and I got together. Now me and that woman, we have two kids of our own. So he’s like family to me. I’m helping out, giving him this job” I smiled at him, but took it as a warning. First it was just a clearing in the trees, then a patch of packed earth, then a row of posts. Then the posts were connected with beams and covered with bright, new plywood. Alexandra watched the progress through the kitchen window and worried that it would never finish. I picked raspberries and listened to the two men talk. They rattled off numbers mostly. An eighth inch here and a thirty degree pitch there. They weren’t super educated, but I know I couldn’t have figured out all that math in my head. Every once in a while the


We went to the farm store in Alexandra’s minivan, the one with the bedding in the back from the time she injured her spine and had to be driven around lying down. We pushed aside blankets and pillows to make room for electric fence and hay bales. Alexandra layered up in her sweaters and winter coat and despite the warmth, tucked her long blonde hair behind a fur hat. Then we got in the car and crawled our way to town. “Oh, what they must think of me at the store,” she said, throwing an empty kambucha bottle on the floor and putting a fresh one in the cup holder. “They must think of me as that weird eccentric with the bed in her car... What a strange farmer I am.” The picture made me laugh and that made her laugh, so we laughed together while the sun brightened red leaves and we ribbonned our way down the mountain.

the water

     I found Kelvin on the roof of the yurt, a round, home-made structure in the woods behind the house.      “Hi,” I said, approaching.      He peered over the edge to look down at me. “Oh, hi.”      “Alexandra sent me here to help you get the shingles on the roof before it starts to rain.”      Straightening a little, he studied the sky in his slow way. The trees in the hills below were only just starting to change color, and far off in the distance, down beyond the forest, we could see the grey cloud waiting its turn to break up the blue above us. It smelled too like it would rain soon. “Oh. Ok. Come on up,” he said.      Kelvin and Lee had built the yurt together the previous month. Tall and octagonal, with weathered wood walls and a high ceiling, it was tucked away between the trees and almost ready to be inhabited by artists or wanderers. They had raided the junkyards on Martha’s Vineyard for the windows, so each face of the octagon had a different shaped glass cut into

birdie-drama part iii

At the end of the day, I went into town and stopped to say hi to the guys at the pizza place. “They killed a rooster today. This man just went into the closet in the house and hugged it upside down…” I think I was in shock or I didn’t tell it right because the guys just stared at me. Later that night they got into a drunken debate. “Is Bat-Sheva hot in spite of being really strange or is she hot because she’s really strange?”

birdie drama - part 2

Ok, so this is part 2. If you’re just signing on, go back and read part 1 first. Also I put in names of folks- only not their real names. Cause, well…      The chick didn’t die that day. And it didn’t die the next. By the third day, the kitchen reeked of the acrid scent particular to chicken excrement. It was around that time that Alexandra decided to reintroduce the bird to the flock. Where only two days before, the chick’s head had been a mess of bone and tendon, its scalp was now covered with a heavy plate of scab. How quickly the young things heal, I thought, looking at the bird, trying to calculate how long it would take my own skin to scab after such a wound. Meanwhile, the chick found the box to be terribly boring and declared its indignation vocally. It was time.      When dusk came, Alexandra tucked the tiny thing into the henhouse next to its mother and siblings who were already sleeping in their warmth of feathers. Chickens are blessed with a deficit of short ter

birdie drama - part 1

Ok, ok, one more chicken story, and I’ll stop. But this one has two parts. Part 1: Dusk was approaching. The path to the chicken coop was a wash of dusky brown earth, golden leaves and darkening sky. All of the birds were gathered around the henhouse, getting ready to crowd inside, pecking at the dirt, gossiping with each other about the day. Then there was another sound- a tiny, high-pitched shriek. We rounded the corner to discover a circle of full grown chickens ganging up on the tiniest, runtest, baby chick of the bunch. They pecked at her till she bled, chasing after her when she ducked and screamed and tried to flee. Her mother and the other peeps were already inside the henhouse ruffling their feathers, and none of them bothered to come to the rescue. As we looked on in horror, the big orange rooster jumped on top of the runt’s tiny frame. She buckled under the weight while he pecked, heedless, into her head. That is when a human shriek joined the sound of animals tort