Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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The Church of Subconscious

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I’m learning about the subconscious lately. The subconscious is the undertow of beliefs that lurk beneath the surface of your mind, running congruent with your conscious. Strangely enough, the sub-c (as I’m calling it) can aid in manifesting the good and bad things that enter your life.

I’m at constant war with my subconscious, but I unknowingly dip into like it’s the bible of my life. Although my conscious wants expansive and successful new outcomes as it strives for positive change – the subconscious still holds a blueprint of negativity potentially attracting the very things I fear.

If I try to live in the present my subconscious immediately wants to worry about the future, and reminds me of the past.

If I try to block negative thoughts floating through my mind, the subconscious will allow them to linger, hold them up as an illustration of what could happen when the very opposite is true.

If I worry about money,  the subconscious is happy to wallow in that concern. Even if there really isn’t anything to be fearing, such as security, business ventures going bad and more dollars in the bank.  Perhaps a good dose of worry and concern is needed in order to avert problems that could arise. After all, you shouldn’t always have your head in the clouds, going blissfully along in life until you realize you weren’t keeping your eyes on your spending habits, or the level of life you can afford. But to practice the belief that fear is the be all of everything – well, the more fear you entertain, the more fearful things will crop up in your life.

Sometimes the subconscious will convince you that you’re not worthy. Your conscious will say, I’m pretty cool – but your subconscious runs on the same DOS format built by your childhood. Yeah – you’re awesome, but you’re not attractive enough to find love or a well paying job. You think you’re the bomb, but your sub-c is still saying that no man will want you.  It convinces you that men are more interested in crazy women, and that’s why you attract men who leave you and take up with a crazy lady. Or maybe you’re the crazy one? (You can see I’m talking to myself here – a known form of insanity.)

It’s like Culture Club once sang, “Love is hard to find in  the church of the Poison Mind”.

As Cathy Collaut, PH.D discusses in her practice, you are the CEO of your life. Your conscious wants to succeed and in ways your subconscious will be happy to sabotage.  She explains how to treat you sub-c as an employee, where you ask it questions, such as  – why it’s creating these underlying feelings?  What is the source of the fear, anger and bitter feelings towards what the conscious is trying to achieve? Once we are aware of wayward thoughts in the undertow of our mind, will we be able to shatter self sabotage and run a successful business called life.

Then we can give our sub-c a pay raise and go on vacation.

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Ana From Havana

Ana

My mother at her wedding reception, 1962.

On this day back in 1928 in Havana, Cuba – my  mother was born.  She was born to a father from Poland (with Bosnian roots) and a mother from Russia (Ottoman Empire).   My grandparents were Jews whose path to Cuba happened when the United States quota of the early 1900’s delayed the immigration of various refugees from certain countries. Those with their sails set for America, were diverted to Cuba to wait it out. When the quotas were lifted, some moved on to the United States, while others – who adored the heat and sun of their pit stop – did not. What became known as “Hotel Cuba” – coined due to the refugees temporary status in a sun drenched country – became home.

My mother loved Cuba. She was born and raised within its steamy palm trees, and the splashing waves over El Malecon. If anyone watched Conan O’Brien’s special on his trip to Havana – you’d have seen the beauty of the island. The people, the ragged charm, the sun baked streets and the nostalgic remnants of the past. A country frozen in time.  That’s the country my mother called home – even as she made her life in America – after Castro kicked out capitalists and those who didn’t follow his socialist revolution.

The only thing my mother was passionate about was Cuba and open relations with the United States. She imagined going back and meeting her neighbors who were holding on to her clothes and perfume. She wanted to visit her father’s grave. She wanted to be Ana from Havana again.  Cuba was always in my house. WADO, the Latin radio station in New York was constantly on – the background music of my life.

When President Obama opened relations with Cuba recently – it was one of the most mind blown days for me. Just thinking about what my mother would have said and done if she were still alive on that day. This was her dream. This was the news report she was dreaming to hear after she moved to the United States in 1959.

I plan on traveling to Cuba in the next few years. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before – it’s my intention to visit her neighborhood in the Miramar district, and perhaps connect with the families of those who remember her and my family.  I want to see the streets my mother walked, the atmosphere she fell in love with, the home where she lived and the grave where my grandfather was buried. Most of all, I want to get splashed by the torrid waves splashing over the sea all of El Malecon.

Happy Birthday Mom!  Cuba está abierta!


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The Miracle of Blogging: ‘Looking for Mr. Weiss’ Reprise

pianoserviceIn November of 2014, I wrote a blog piece about my childhood piano teacher entitled “Looking for Mr. Weiss”.

Mr. Weiss fell out of my life when I graduated high school back in the 80’s, only to return a few years after my college years when my father mentioned he had run into him in an auto body shop in the town next to ours. It seemed sad that he’d put his music aside for something that could possibly ruin the very hands he used to create beautiful  music, but it seems he was quite an enterprising and open minded human to transition to a new vocation.

It inspired me so much, I began writing some outlines for a book inspired by him (not about him) – a fictional tale about a memorable piano teacher, with a flair for listening and showing children how to understand the beauty of music rather than just learn how to play scales. It was going to be a mysterious, twisty and strange story about a renown concert pianist who settled into a suburban life and then suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth, until a former student of his- a journalist, decided to look for him. I’ve since put the project aside since I’m spending more time writing about writing and building up a coaching/writers website. But I do return to the work from time to time, keeping the fires stoked so I can accomplish another publishing goal. But something has caused me to re-think the whole project.

Last night, I was absolutely stunned to find out that his daughter, whom I remember as a very small child when I used to visit her father’s studio every week, has been trying to get in contact with me via email. Messages went by, and I never saw them, and if I did, I wasn’t aware of what they were.

While working on Facebook last night, gearing up for this wonderful program I’m involved in called B-School, I saw a pop up message flash by. It was his daughter, telling me she was trying to get in touch via aboutme.com – which is the widget I use for my bio on this very page. I don’t know how to use it, and never expect to receive messages, so I suppose I saw her emails but didn’t realize what I was receiving, nor from whom.

Yet, there it was in my gmail – the link to her string of beautiful remembrances of her father, Mr. Allen Weiss.

The cosmic thing is – she found my blog post about her father late one night when she couldn’t sleep because she was thinking of her dad – who did indeed passed away a few years ago. She went online to do a Google search and found my post.

And now I’m blown away. I’ve written back, absolutely devastated that I hadn’t known about these lovely messages. Hopefully, we can connect.

Maybe the real Mr. Weiss’ story really needs to be told?  Not a fantasized, fictional tale, but a true documentation of a gifted man who may have felt his best musical effort wasn’t good enough.  A musician who tried to find a passion beyond the keyboard. A man who may have departed this world with the music still inside him.

Perhaps I can find a way to honor this person who touched the lives of so many musically gifted and creatively inclined young humans who may have moved on to create music of their own. Mr. Weiss may have been the stone in the pond causing a ripple effect, positively changing the lives of the children of the children he taught. If he’d only known that he is so fondly remembered. How awesome to tell the world he existed? Something that would do his family proud? That would be an amazing feat.

I’ve found Mr. Weiss, but maybe my search has only just begun.


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My Late Father as ‘Guest Writer’

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Bernard Rotmil (left) and his younger brother Charles in Brussels.

I’m currently reading the epic novel “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, a fascinating page turner that takes place during WWII. My father Bernard and his younger brother Charles endured similar circumstances as the young Marie-Laure, running from madness, trying to find their ground without parents nearby.

As I languish in the throes of a new year funk, unable to write, and losing touch with my goals, I turn to my late father to be my  guest writer for the day to describe the chaos he and my uncle Charles had to endure as children during this horrendous time in history. Pardon the typos, if there are any.

 “Is Austria Accomplice or Victim of Teutonmania?”
By Bernard Rotmil

I was twelve years old that day in March 1938 on that thoroughfare in Vienna. Excited by the cries and shouting, I pushed myself through the thickly gathered crowd. Hitler’s caravan was already being sighted by those who managed to occupy high vantage points. They hovered and crowded open windows. The sight of the caravan caused them to point excitedly at the sharp bend in the wide tree lined avenue. Faces, young and old, were straining, not only out of curiosity, but obvious pride at the coming of the savior and leader of their race.

A burly, brown shirted Nazi saw me struggle through the crowd. His swastika armband loomed overhead as he saw me wiggle through. Desirous to leave an unforgettable impression of the moment on this young specimen of the German race, he grabbed me by the armpit and proudly deposited me unto a pedestal nearby, where I became a prop set for the Fuehrer’s arrival.
Little did this Nazi soldier suspect that this man-child was a Jewish mud lark, drawn by an overriding curiosity to view this historic spectacle.

I will never forget the roaring crowd, stiff arms raised as the impassive Moloch passed by, standing in his big shiny black limousine. They chanted and clapped in cadence, their hearts and minds delirious with the job of deliverance, dissolving the pent up frustration gathered since the melting away of their Austria-Hungarian empire, finalized by the defeat of World War I. He, almost oblivious to the tremulous mob about him, would deign raise his arm, bending it at the elbow, then let it slowly sink at his side. His eyes shone bright under the visor of his military cap. They were hard, these eyes, as his vaunted mustache twittered occasionally. I will never forget the immaculate light khaki raincoat he wore. Khaki raincoats were important to the Nazi psyche.

The next day, about two block up the same thoroughfare and within view of the famous wheel of the ‘Prater”, a famous ancient amusement park, I was almost overrun by a similar open limousine. Jumping aside, I recognized the mousy features and prominent Adam’s apple of Dr. Joseph Goebbels; the high priest. He came so close, I could have touched him, but he was instantly gone.

A few days later, during the infamous “Krystal Nacht”, a half dozen brown shirted SA men invaded our modest flat near Tabor Strasse and proceeded to mercilessly beat up my father, stopping only when his blood soiled one his attacker’s uniform. Tush started a long and often repeated series of episodes out of which remains only a certificate from a magistrate in Brussels stating that my father was part of the Railway Convoy XXI which departed from Malines, Belgium on July 31, 1943 under number 779. I understand its destination was the infamous concentration camp of Mathausen. I never saw him again.

Let me explain, first of all, we are not Austrians. My father was a native of Poland and an art broker who traveled intermittently between Germany, Austria and France. The onset of World War II found us in Brussels, Belgium, to which we had fled from the aforementioned. As for myself, I was born in Alsace and had spent my childhood in Strassbourg, Metz and Paris. At the Anschluss, we had been in Austria for about a year and my most vivid memories were of a vibrant Jewish Community with a touch of Sholom Aleichem’s “Shtetele”. My memories of Vienna and Leopoldstadt – the Jewish District – is as warm and kind as anyone might entertain of his childhood locale, anywhere. Although I did view the city as a foreigner, in no time at all, I was absorbed by the local sport scene and a Jewish Soccer team by the name of “Hakoah” and a tall, lanky and superb soccer player by the name of Schindler.

Not very religious, almost rebellious, I was sent to an orthodox Yeshiva run by Agudath Israel and got into occasional trouble in school. The reason, I am sure, was that my prior education was in Paris, whence we had come from, and I became somewhat turned off by this sudden change in language. My life became not unlike Tom Sawyers in Hannibal and who, by the way, was my favorite read at the time. For one, we went by the vast lumber yards by the railroad (or was it the river), to band on the wood and watch the rats scurry out of the pile. We loved to climb over the high wall in the back of an old bakery, climb atop the woodpile inside the woodshed adjacent to the baking workshop. There, we’d imitate animal sounds. The baker, a pious man with skullcap, roused from his nightly labor, would appear, lantern in had, to inspect the source of the noise. He never thought to look on top of the woodpile and never found us.

In an era when private bathrooms in apartments was a luxury, the “Mikva”, served as a convenient community bathhouse. By definition, a Mikvah is a ritual bath for women. This Mikvah, however, had an adjacent building for men. It being the best and most convenient place for my personal hygiene, and very cheap at that! I went there as often as I had to. There, immersed in the very hot and steaming pools of water, were the reddish and sweaty faces of bearded Orthodox Jews, sitting totally naked, indolently soaking in the penetrating and soothing heat. It was a quiet scene where no one moved except to get n or out of the water. It was at such a quiet moment that I heard a yell from upstairs. “Mir Shlught yidden” (They’re beating Jews). This wry joke, directed at people whose experience of the pogrom was very vivid, was supposed to rouse them into a panic and have them run off in their lobster red nakedness. It might have worked at one time, but these old Jews just smiled, appreciative of the humor; except for an old rabbi who clothed and ready to leave for home caught the prankster and let him verbally have it.

I also remember my friend Gunther whose mother made the best cookies and cakes. We both loved to build model airplanes – a hobby that was in vogue back then. My father’s penchant for gambling on horses did not leave much for the family table and to a large extent we were indigent. The support of the community was generous and my wealthier friends went to great length to have me at their Seder during Passover nights. I still remember the world famous Viennese Horse Academy building – which had burned down at the time – and the racetrack nearby, on which my father left goodly sums on many wasted afternoons. I have fond memories of the Prater, as most children would. It was then that I had my first contact with Zionism and first heard and sang “Havah Negilah”. As a member of Bethar, a militaristic branch, I had mock duels using broomsticks for swords.

But I must say, my fondest memories are of the Synagogue in Leopoldstadt. I went there every Sabbath and holidays, not out of parental, school or religious duty, but simply because it was an absolutely beautiful place to be and I loved it. In old Europe, Synagogues in large Metropolitan area were supported, as a matter of honor and privilege by the richer members of the community, and Vienna had quite few of them. It’s rich interior of luxuriant wooded balustrades and gold chandeliers, all highlighted the luminescent and ornate Ark containing the Torah.
But most of all, it had the finest young boys choir and the best cantorial tenor voice that I had ever heard or will hear again. I suspect that my love for music started then and there. I dreamt of belonging to this choir and would sing in my room ad practice in the hope that I might join it. In a pique of jealousy, I engaged into a fight with the lead singer, who really did rather well for himself. In the dark days of World War II, cut off from this sustaining force, I did drift towards Catholicism, as many Jewish children were wont to do. But when exposed to the cantorial songs and ancient liturgy, all the voices from the Synagogue at Leopoldstadt reawakened powerfully within me. Also within me forever, live the memories of these fine and good people of pre-war Vienna who, except for the fact they followed an ancient tradition, were as people are anywhere: they had the good and the bad, the thin and the fat, the saints and the sinners, the absurd and the sublime. That anyone should have intellectualized away their right to live is beyond comprehension; their innocent is so evident.

As a GI in post WWII, I was stationed hear Heidelberg Germany. I met with German youth and felt awkward as they did when advised of my background. But I tried to explain that, having had to live my youth under the accusation of decide, certainly I would be the last to place them the guilt of their parents. But, unlike the theological and apocryphal basis for the medieval accusation, this most heinous period in the history of man is the best documented and more irrevocable. I felt, and still do feel, a sympathy for anyone having to bear this awful burden; because carrying this historical burden they must.

End.


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A Palette Cleanser for the Weekend

With all this talk of lady parts and hospital stuff, I end the week with a picture of my hound Baxter to clear the air. Baxter is the seer of all things awesome with the world. He looks straight into the weekend with determination, knowledge and lots of napping time on my couch. The bones of wisdom are marked in the very palm of his paw. He’s a most assured hound, ready to take on the garbage trucks and postal workers of our time with grit, heroism and a grumbling, low guttural growl before rounding out into a fetal position to sleep for hours until he hears his kibble pouring into a bowl in the kitchen.

I’m grateful for this hound. He give me smiles and warmth. He’s helped me make friends and protects me from weird noises –  that turn out to be nothing – but at least he’s on the case.


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Grateful Friday Thank Yous

It’s Friday! Pop the booze and let’s boogie down to weekend town!

I guess that’s a bit much, but I’m happy it’s Friday. This week marks my initial prep stage of getting my book of short stories published. I’m still working on a title, but will definitely write about it when it’s ready to drop on Amazon. Meanwhile, a little gratitude journal to the internet universe:

Thanks to all the terrific fellow bloggers and readers who started following me this week. It means a lot to know that people are reading my words. I’m spreading the good mojo karma and reading/joining yours as well. We’re all in this together!

Thanks to everyone who read my constant words about Robin Williams.

Thanks to everyone who read my ruminations over a screenshot of RW and Louis CK, that brought out a flood of feelings about losing New York and losing the great comedian.

Thanks to everyone who read about my biking days on The Great Hill at Central Park.

Here on the west coast, we just finished up a week of mind melting, pot roasting, chicken dinner steaming heat. I use these metaphors because – I love food – and, as temps reached 100 degrees and beyond, the inside of my non air-conditioned apartment felt like a pizza oven oven during the dinner rush. Unbelievable heat, only eased by whirling fans, open windows and nightfall, when the atmosphere’s thermostat turns down and the night air turns cooler.

The only place that belongs to me that has air conditioning is my car. So here I am in the above photo, enjoying the blast of cold air my Prius gives me every day. I’m grateful for that blast of cold air in the driving heat. I’m grateful for it waking me up in the morning even on the most pleasant of days.

One sad note. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a praying mantis I found on the antenna of my car.  Well, I think that lovely creature kicked the bucket. I found the dried up, shriveled corpse of a green insect on the bottom of my back door steps that vaguely resembles the body of that little guy. I have to assume his time was up. Or maybe our backyard stray cat got to him.

Strange how this guy found his way to my car (out of many in our apartment car port), and then found his way on my steps – when there are other back door steps to which he could drag his dying little body.

Rest in peace little insect. You gave me a symbol to live by. And in death, you’re doing the same.