My New Genre

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Yesterday after I posted about not being able to find my genre, I think I managed to do just that.  Bereavement and perhaps a twist of revenge.  Of course, I hate not having anyone to be angry at - nobody to whom I can dedicate my life of revenge.  I long to be like Inigo Montoya, from the Princess Bride, and dedicate the rest of my life towards finding the 6 fingered man who killed my father.  My name is Abigail Leviss, you killed my son...prepare to die!

Last night we watched "Hereafter" with Matt Damon about this reluctant psychic who can communicate with the dead (speaking of which, if you have ever had a really wonderful experience with a Medium or psychic, please let me know. I know I sound crazy.  Have you noticed yet that I actually AM crazy?) Anyway, the movie is about all of these sad people who have experienced loss.  Finally, a movie with characters I can relate to.  If you saw it, I feel like the little boy in the movie - searching for answers.  Even better, we went to the actual movie theater yesterday and saw "The Debt".  I think I would have loved it even if Max hadn't died.  It is about 3 Israeli Mossad agents who go to Berlin to hunt down a Mengele-like character.  The movie takes place in Israel, Germany and Ukraine.  It is about people who are compelled to seek revenge because their feelings of loss run so deep.  There is a line in the movie about surviving the Holocaust - something about how terrible it is to be a survivor.  Finding my new genre reminds me of a quote that Suzy told me she heard from Anderson Cooper.  His brother committed suicide and he says that the reason he became a journalist is because he wanted his outsides to match his insides.  My environment very rarely matches my insides these days.  This is why I hardly leave my house.  Outside, people are going to baseball games, and enjoying the sunshine, and strolling their babies through the neighborhood.  Inside, it is dark and quiet and there are blown up photos of Max and I have control.  Outside is chaos.  Inside it a different kind of chaos.

"The Debt" makes me think of my first job after coming home from Israel, at the Shoah Foundation.  I worked in the cataloguing department, on the night shift.  (Shout out to my Shoah Foundation Night Shift Peeps!).  What a weird but wonderful, life altering job!  We worked from 5 pm to 1:30 am, Sunday - Thursday night.  There were a limited number of computers that had the cataloguing software on them so there was a day shift too.  I had heard survivors speak before.  I had read Anne Frank's diary.  I had seen many documentaries about the Holocaust.  Before this job though, I had never heard such detailed, uncensored accounts of the loss.  I had never personalized the tragedy.   During my first months there, I had nightmares every night, I sat in my apartment and tried to figure out where I would hide people if I needed to, I felt the urge to try and "save" every homeless person I passed on the street, I went to parties and cried.  For a long time during and after my time at the Foundation, I felt like only people who had worked there, in my department, could understand me.  As a cataloguer, I watched the testimonies of Holocaust survivors every night, tracking important historical and personal information.  Many of us learned this odd skill set by practicing on a testimony given by a guy named Peter Hirsch.  Peter Hirsch's story, like so many other survivor's, was about losing everything and then rebuilding his whole life: moving to a new country, falling in love, starting his own family.  I cried my eyes out every time I watched it.  I am crying now just thinking about his sweet face and the beautiful way he expressed his love for his wife and children.  How he recovered from his loss, the loss of his parents and his WHOLE family, with such grace and determination, was the most inspirational thing I could imagine.  I always wondered if he knew about the 80 cataloguers and other Shoah staff who sat in trailers on the Universal backlot, night after night, watching his testimony and crying our eyes out: just another day at the office.  I left the Foundation for a while and then came back to translate Hebrew Pre-Interview Questionnaires (PIQs) a couple of days a week.  During that time, I sat next to a survivor, who was translating from like 7 languages.  He told me his story, which he said was top secret, which he told me not to tell anyone, which I have since learned he told all of the young ladies.  Anyway, I love his story.  He too had lost everyone and after the war, he went to Israel, where he joined the Mossad and was sent back to Europe as a Nazi hunter.  He told me that he had to keep a pill of cyanide under his tongue in case he was ever caught, so that he would just kill himself rather than giving away secrets while being tortured.  The stories were wild, filled with adventure and revenge.  By the time I met him, he was living in an apartment in the San Fernando valley, with his American wife and breeding some kind of small puff-ball dog.  I loved that his life ended so regular.  I remember thinking, how could he stand every day with this wife who hadn't experienced what he had experienced, breeding these silly little dogs?  Like, why weren't they at least breeding some kind of fierce dog?  I think it was probably these soft and regular things that gave him comfort.  He had made his peace to a certain extent.

What is the sum up?  I don't know.  Why do I tell you all of this?  I don't know.  I don't get to be Inigo Montoya.  I don't get to dedicate my life to revenge, running around with a cyanide pill under my tongue, looking for the ones that took my son.  I have to rebuild my life, eventually, like Peter Hirsch.  I have to figure out a way to reconcile the fact that my environment on the outside will not match the environment of my insides for a long time.  I hope to find calm in my home, in the valley, with my family and my dogs.  Until then, I will TRY to distract myself as much as possible with my new genre: Loss, with a touch of Revenge.

2 comments:

Maxie's Mommy said...

Just wanted to comment that I spelled Peter's name wrong. It is Hersch and here he is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS9AqAHsZ2E (obviously, not easy to watch, so don't if you can't. This is just a SMALL piece of his testimony which actually took up two VHS tapes.

braverwoman said...

dear abby,
we don't know each other, we've met once or twice, but i am a friend of darren & missy's. i am so sorry for your incredible loss. i read your blog and daily, i send you love and perseverance. after reading this post i wanted to give you the name of a psychic that i've seen her twice. she is the real deal. i haven't experienced a loss like yours, but one of my best friends lost her husband in a tragic accident, and then her mother to suicide a few months later. i took her to see Lyn, and she found the experience very helpful.

she lives just off coldwater, and there is often a short wait to get an appointment. she is very expensive, but the price is on par with her gift. you can tell her that dana braverman referred you, though you don't need a referral and she probably won't remember my full name anyway.

here is her information:
Lyn Popper
212 332 9913 VM
manon1818@hotmail.com

again, i don't know you, but i want you to know that i am "walking beside you," sending you healing energy and strength as you lean into this immense grief.

good luck and g-dspeed,
dana

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