Prompt 116: Describe an unexpected gift. One that didn’t come in a brightly colored package.

Prompt 117: Describe an unexpected gift. One that didn’t come in a brightly colored package.


The best-unexpected gift I’ve ever received is my two youngest children. I prefer not to give their names.

My son is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life. He was reading at two years old and at three taught us all the way to turn the vacuum on. He’s always been somewhat of a neat freak. When the children lived with me he would always thank me when the cleaning service came to our house,

His younger sister was always a bit slow. While he was walking at 14 months, she did not walk until she was 18 months. She speech and toilet training also came much later. She is shy and timid. Her three older siblings much more outgoing and extroverted.

When she was a young toddler and other three were being typical kids, rambunctious interacting and having fun, she would often take a book go in the corner and “read”. She is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Although not necessarily affectionate, I don’t ever remember her being mean or very defiant.

Getting pregnant with the twins was a shock. There mom and I were in denial for probably two and a half months. We didn’t find out she was pregnant until about 14 weeks. We had just had a baby and it was hard to deal with for both us.

When we had our first child it felt like it was for us other than giving him life. Our second child was to give him a sibling. The twins we just a bonus. My hope is that all four kids will be each other’s best friends for life.

My ex and I often wondered how the relationships would play out. We figured that it would be the boys and girls or single births and twins. It turned out that number two and three were the closest.

They had a very special bond when I had custody. Due to an extremely contentious divorce, I have not seen them in over two and half years. Any of the time I had with them and will have with them in the future will be an incredible gift.

There is nothing better than having a child that is not expected.

Prompt 112: That Time you Ran Away From Home

Prompt 112: That Time you Ran Away From Home. I only remember running away from home once. I went to my grandparents.

I only remember running away from home once. I went to my grandparents.

I don’t even remember why I ran away from home. It likely had something to do with my father. He was never really compassionate with me. He seemed to be troubled by and never understood me I after I turned 13.

My mom was compassionate with me until the last few years. Both of my grandfathers were very compassionate. My grandmothers far less so. In their generation that completely bucked the stereotype. It was my maternal grandparent’s house I went to. They lived about 15 minutes away from me.

I was fairly close with my grandparents until I reached adulthood. I kept more to myself and my friends as an adult. This one particular night I relied on them. I don’t remember much.

It might have been news years night.  I remember watching football in their living room. My dad and grandfather had a cordial relationship. Underneath that, it seemed as if they didn’t like each other much. The tolerated each other and were cordial for the sake of my mom.

I wish I could remember more about that night. There were times my grandfather seemed to understand me more than my father. The running away was most likely due to a disagreement with my father.

My mom used to be my biggest supporter. No one seemed to understand me more than she did. She is incredibly smart and definitely got that intelligence from my grandfather. They are both Northwestern graduates.

Neither of my grandmothers graduated from college. My paternal grandfather was an attorney.

There were many times I wanted to run away. Even now life seems like it could be better if I could start over somewhere else. I would love to be able to do an American version of Eat, Pray, Love combined with Wild.

It would be more like Eat, Love, Wild. I love cooking and trying different cuisines from a multitude of ethnicities. Cooking soothes me. Religion has become less important to me. I felt deserted religiously. It’s interesting to explore different kinds of spirituality. I will always hope to find love.

If we have nothing keeping us in one place being able to explore and get out of ourselves can help us learn more about ourselves. In the last couple of years, I have thought about that a lot. The ability to move somewhere else or travel and explore life, get out of myself and look deep into myself is appealing. In a way that’s running away and leaving the place that has been home for most of my life.

The ability to move somewhere else or travel and explore life, get out of myself and look deep into myself is appealing. In a way that’s running away and leaving the place that has been home for most of my life.


Prompt 99: What you know of your family’s history all told, is it a gift to you or a curse? Defend your arguments.

Prompt 99: What you know of your family’s history all told, is it a gift to you or a curse? Defend your arguments.

Beyond my Grandparents, I do not know much about my family’s history. Living in my father’s shadow has been a gift and a curse.

My father has been successful throughout his life. He is a highly accomplished athlete and was very successful for over 30 years in finance.

My mother always said that he did everything he could to shield us from competition. It was still difficult growing wanting to be as successful as he was. I wanted to reach the things he did or at least the goals I had set for myself.

My parents have been married for 52 years. I have dreamt almost my entire life of getting married and raising a family with a woman I could be close with. Someone to share ideals, ethics, a mutual physical and emotional relationship.,

I knew from a young age what I wanted to do for a career. My career never materialized. My father wanted me to go into finance like he did. One of my brothers did and is doing very well. I tried but it felt like I did have the right mind for it.

Although my father did what he could to steer us away from certain things, he is also very judgemental. He has certain ideas about how people should live life. He often does not understand people who are not like him.

He is extroverted, assertive and athletic. Anyone that is more introverted, not as athletic and that might struggle with physical or mental impairments he doesn’t seem to relate to.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia at a fairly young age. I learned I had ADHD soon after finishing college and anxiety and depression much later. My father would call me sweetness growing up in a sarcastic nod to my fluctuating moods. My mother would call me a martyr or tell me I was saying woe as me. In actuality, it was me dealing with my depression and anxiety.

Almost everything in life internally has been difficult for me. I have struggled with the issues mentioned above. Those have hindered me in almost every way. I have struggled with work and relationships.

I have held three or four jobs for two years or more since being finished with college. Others ones have often not worked out. Dating is a frequent struggled. My marriage was a constant battle.

Dating is a frequent struggle. My marriage was a constant battle. We dated for two years before getting married. We were married nine and a half years when she filed for divorce. The longest relationship I was in other than with her was two and half months.

Since she filed for separation nearly five years ago the most I have been out with one woman was four times in a three-month span.

My entire family beyond my father and siblings are high achievers. It feels like I have to expend a lot of energy just to get through a day. My sister told me that everyone goes through depression and I just have to get through it.

On the whole, because of my family’s lack of understanding me and their level of achievement versus my lack of it, my family’s history and success are more of a curse than a gift.



Prompt 96: What is the Mental Health Diagnosis you worry about most? Why?

The mental health diagnosis I worry about most was when the custody evaluator ruled that my alleged impulsiveness was a hindrance to being able to be a better parent than my ex who is paralyzed.

The mental health diagnosis I worry about most was when the custody evaluator ruled that my alleged impulsiveness was a hindrance to being able to be a better parent than my ex who is paralyzed.

Because she cannot take care of herself, my friends, family, and acquaintances all thought I did not have to worry about maintaining custody. The only mental health diagnosis I worry about beyond that is anything relating to dementia. Losing the ability to think and take care of oneself would crush all independence.

Having to go through a mental health examine and have everything about the person you are can be a devastating experience. Everything I did, everything that makes me the person I am, my general being was dissected and evaluated, likely multiple times.

At the end losing custody of my children was devastating. If it had truly been to their mother that would have been easier to digest and understand. The reality is that she is not the one that is their caretaker and logistical parent.

They live with my ex-sister-in-law, her husband, and two sons. My attorney tried to get them to have to take a psychological evaluation but the judge refused.

Her brother in law admitted under oath during a deposition that he assaulted me. My own attorneys told me not to go to the police as it could jeopardize everything. In the end, I have lost almost everything anyways.

Someone very close to the case said that her sister is the most conniving and controlling person that they had ever seen. This testimony couldn’t be used as it would violate ethical codes of the law.

Going through the process of being evaluated took two years. It took almost three years for me to lose custody of my children from the time my ex filed for divorce to losing my children.

It was something I had thought about every day during that time. Other than a diagnosis of dementia I cannot imagine worrying about a mental health diagnosis any more than I did losing custody of my children. It is the most devastating “diagnosis” I have had in my life.


Prompt 95: Did you Ever Change Your Name? Explain What Happened?

Prompt 95: Did you Ever Change Your Name? Explain What Happened?

I have never changed my name. I have however used my middle name.

My given name in Hebrew is Anna. I was named after my mom’s paternal grandmother. I didn’t want to use a feminine name in Hebrew. When I was growing up I would have been teased incessantly had I used a woman’s name.

My middle name in Hebrew is Moshe. I used that all throughout Hebrew school. This is the first time I have thought about what would I have done had I been growing up now? Things are very different now. We accept others more with differences.

I know very little about Anna or my father’s paternal grandfather Michael whom the name Moshe comes from. The most I know about was my mom’s paternal grandfather Abe and his second wife Dorothy who was my mom’s step-grandmother and my mom’s maternal grandmother Bess for whom my sister is named.

I seven when Bess died and remember her very well. I don’t remember how old I was when Dorothy passed away, but I remember her very well growing up.

My dad and his parents barely ever talked about their grandparents/parents. I know very little about my father’s side of the family. My oldest son and I at one point talked about trying to do a family tree on my dad’s side of the family.

My mom’s family had a reunion in 2000. One of the cousins did an extensive family tree that stretched four or five generations. It was my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. Hundreds of people were on the tree.

I rarely think about my Hebrew name or using my Hebrew middle name growing up. It is not something that is important in my present everyday life. The older I become, the less important my religion has become for me.

What I would like to do is learn more about Anna and my great-grandfather, Michael.

Prompt 94: What’s the Most Consequential Act of Your Life? Good or Bad?

The most consequential act of my life was the moment I sent an instant message to my ex-wife. It was mostly good.

The most consequential act of my life was the moment I sent an instant message to my ex-wife. It was mostly good.

Being with her gave me “the best day(s) of our life”. The best and some of the worst days of my life were being with her. When we were alone its was usually the best. When everyone else got involved is when things were difficult.

What could have been a very inconsequential act and one that would have very easily been long forgotten is one I will always remember. I sat at the computer with my IM box open. I kept going back and forth in my mind whether or not to send her the message.

I had been online dating for about five years. I had been on AOL in the chat rooms and iming women for about seven. We even used AOL and some of the dating sites to find people for our soccer team.

As I contemplated sending the message, I thought about my past successes and failures. Three of my good friends at the time I had met on AOL. Another friend I had met on a dating site.

We have big decisions throughout our lives. Sometimes a small one can change the course of our lives. I finally sent an IM and we messaged that night. About two weeks later we went out for the first time.

We would date for two years and got engaged on our second anniversary. Less than five months later we got married. We had actually basically been engaged for about five or six months by the time I made it official and put a ring on her finger.

The only people who knew were the temple, my mom, and my aunt. My aunt is a professional wedding planner and planned the wedding, my mom helped me with the ring and we had to reserve a date at the temple.

I often think I married the right person from the wrong family. On our second date, she told me her family was in her words “dysfunction junction”. Little did I know just how dysfunctional they were.

There was a woman I was pursuing for nearly two years when I met her. The other woman came from a much more stable family and I often wonder how much different my life would have been.

When I was dating my ex I was never really sure if she was “the one”. What I did know is that I cared about her more than anyone else I had dated. I had gone out with some women after a few dates and then not pursued things.

While I never wanted to hurt any women, with her it was much different. The thought of hurting her was much greater than it was with anyone else.

Sending that instant message changed my life forever. I sent me on the path or getting married, having children with her, having to deal with a life-altering illness she had and her filing for divorce.

As with most people who have been married and specifically those that have been through illness and or divorce, that consequential act of sending the instant message was both good and bad.

Being with her was everything I dreamed of. Unfortunately, the dream turned into a nightmare she gained custody of our children in spite of not being able to take care of them. It had been two years and I haven’t seen them.

What began with love, promise and hope has turned into devastation, loneliness and often despair. As an I near a milestone birthday I search for new ways to define myself and the newest most consequential act of my life.

Prompt 91: Pick an exotic celebration or holiday from some faraway place, Write about what happens when your family decides to observe that holiday.

Celebrating holidays and special celebrations from other cultures in “faraway” places is something I have done frequently as an adult.

When I met my now ex we did that often while we were dating and before we had children. When the Olympics were in Athens we went to a greek restaurant to watch. Some of the other things we did were making peanut noodles for the Beijing Olympics and celebrating St. Patrick’s day with the requisite Corned Beef and Soda Bread. I don’t like cabbage unless it’s shredded in a salad so we skipped that.

After she filed for divorce I still continued and even expanded on these “celebrations”. Celebrating other cultures and their holidays and celebrating their holidays is a good way for children to learn.

I incorporated as many of the Jewish Holidays as I could. We celebrated T’Bu Shevat and Sukkot at the Botanic Garden, made non-alcoholic mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby, had our own thanksgiving dinner when the kids when my ex would have thanksgiving.

We subsequently would honor many holidays and celebrations. Hanukkah and Fat Tuesday would see Sufganiyot and Paczkis (jelly donuts), when the Olympics were in London we went to Cost Plus and bought some British treats and we celebrated Purim at the temple my family belongs to.

The best way to learn is by traveling. If that’s difficult or impossible then the next best way is to celebrate other cultures and incorporate them into life as much as possible. Being able to celebrate these events from faraway places is something that I have enjoyed doing with my children. I also enjoyed doing them with my ex when we were together.

I am very fortunate that I have been able to celebrate events and holidays from all over the world. There are still many more I would like to learn about and be able to partake in.

I have celebrated Mardi Gras in St. Louis which has the second biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. I would still like to celebrate that with my children and would also like to take them to the parade in Chinatown for the Chinese New Year and some of the Mexican celebrations as well.