My wife Deborah and I are very lucky. As freelance musicians and teachers, we are far from wealthy. Yet, due to some unusual circumstances, we live in a large apartment in a very nice section of Brooklyn.
What does “a large apartment” mean? It means that in addition to having a decent size bedroom, living room and kitchenette, we each have a “room of our own,” which we call our offices, or sometimes, our practice rooms.
But my office, or practice room, is usually so crowded with Yiddish, Hebrew and Cantorial books and sheet music, plus instruments, that I can barely move around.
Am I a hoarder? No. It’s not that bad. But I do have a problem, and it runs in my family. My mother and sisters are the same. Maybe it’s a psychological thing? My mother is a refugee. It’s pretty classic. Or maybe it’s just that this issue is my achilles heel. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is.
I do work and study hard, though. And when I’m working at home, I work in the living room. But sometimes the living room isn’t available (we have a constant stream of overnight guests staying with us). So then I work and relax in the bedroom.
In the bedroom, I create a sort of psychic “room” of my own, for working. And for sleeping, too.
By my side of the bed there are usually 10-12 books. Some are the usual type of bedtime reading: Novels, biography, non-fiction, etc.
There’s a problem, though. I’m addicted to Jewish music tomes. These are huge, hardbound (and hidebound!) books full of obscure musical examples. The kind of thing you would find in a Jewish music library.
Huge, hardbound and hidebound? Heavy!
I don’t know about you, but when I read in bed, eventually I fall asleep. What happens when I fall asleep with a big, heavy book in my hands?
It falls on my spouse. Usually on her head.
Before I came to study at JTS, Deborah and I were more-or-less joined at the hip. We played together (we have a klezmer and Yiddish duo), taught together, traveled together. We even went to jury duty together.
We still do all of that (except the jury duty). But we travel together much less than we used to, now that I’m in school. We tour and teach together primary on my school breaks. She goes on tour while I’m at home studying.
The transition has been pretty difficult at times.
And the lead-up to my decision to go back to school was hard. We were both reluctant about making such a radical change in our life together.
But school was calling me. I kept reading the heavy subjects. And the tomes kept dropping.
Finally, we got the message. And Deborah said,
“That’s it. You’re applying to JTS.”