A Word From The Weiss
Hello! That is, hello again! Sorry that I've been MIA for more than two months now. Are
you still there? Is anyone?
It's been so long since I last wrote that I have that feeling of overwhelming guilt I used to get years
ago whenever I had neglected to call my grandparents for awhile. I knew that I should call them, but I kept putting it off and putting it off because I also knew that they
were hurt and disappointed… so that by the time I finally did get up the nerve to call, they were really hurt and disappointed.
In this case, I have just been busy. Incredibly busy. Life has gotten in the way. I know, I know. Not
the best excuse. Sorry if my hiatus -- the fact that "I didn't call, I didn't write" -- disappointed you.
Why, it's been so long since I last wrote that I hardly know where to begin. At the end of last year? Or the beginning of this one? Even
New Year’s is now almost ancient history.
Well, if I can’t begin by wishing you a happy new year, then I’ll begin with the news.
Yes, I have news. Good news. And even gooder news.
The good news is that (no matter what may become
of us and our nation, language, and culture in the next four years) “gooder” is not now and never will be a word.
So let’s just say that I have news.
Big news… and even bigger news.
The big news is that my daughter is finally better. After about 10 weeks of being bedridden and virtually incapacitated, Allegra managed to recover from her terrible concussion shortly after New Year’s. She has returned to work, as well as to her budding singing career and lively New York City life
as she used to know it.
No, she is not quite back yet to 100 percent. Yet she was well enough
to fly down with her boyfriend JP and join Nice Jewish Dad and me last month
for my birthday weekend in beautiful and balmy South Beach. (But no, before you even ask, let me assure you that we were not wearing matching bathing suits. I just
happened to buy her a polka dot one that looked a lot like mine, and we accidentally wore them down to the pool at the exact
That's my big news.
bigger news is that not only have I gotten
back to my own life as usual too, but also managed to accomplish something that I’ve been aspiring to do for my entire life.
Well, entire adult life, anyway.
That’s the main reason you haven’t heard much from me lately.
The navigation bar at the top right-hand side of this page has long listed two short stories that are excerpted from what I often refer to as my forthcoming book. Well, guess what!
After many years – decades, actually – that forthcoming book
has finally come forth.
You can buy it if you want. And read it if
you want. It’s available on Amazon.com.
Just search for The Adulterer’s Daughter, by Patricia Weiss Levy, which bears
the subtitle “The Life, Loves and Longings of a Girl Whose Father Strayed.”
like to tell you that I am thrilled to finally have it out there, but the truth is that having it out there makes me a little crazy.
It makes me a little
crazy because having it out there makes me feel so... out there.
Sure, I have been writing a so-called “personal blog” for over six years now. A blog that is full of relatively intimate details and countless pictures documenting my
life as a Nice Jewish Mom.
I know people who are very private – too private to let anyone know what they do and with whom they do it. People who are too private to post almost anything on Facebook. People like my late parents were.
My father used to say that he didn’t want
anyone to even know what kind of car he drove (an absurd statement, since he was always out there driving around in it). There is no word for how crazy this book would have driven him.
Sorry, Dad. I never shared your penchant
for privacy. A private person I am not.
book, however, is not merely what I’d call “personal.” Much of what you’ll find in it goes way beyond what I tell you here. It’s wide open
and almost embarrassingly honest.
It is private with a capital P.
“I first laid eyes
on my father’s mistress in Women’s Coats at Bloomingdale’s.” So begins my memoir about growing up with a father who kept a mistress for more than 15 years while
still married to my mother.
Told in a series of 14 linked stories that read more like fiction, it’s not
really about my successful, tyrannical father and his torrid affair. That is – or was – his story.
It’s more about my own experiences coming of age, and my romantic journey – my “lifelong quest to rise above my suburban
Jewish family’s dirty little secret and find true and lasting love.”
But writing this book and getting it published was something of an odyssey itself.
As I note in the acknowledgments
section, which serves as a preface for the book, “Memoir is a funny word, and not just because it is fundamentally French, and therefore a little
pretentious and a little hard to pronounce. (‘MEM-wahr?’ Or,
as my mother used to say, ‘mem-WAHHH?’) But unlike biography, which aims to present the story of a life, memoir is simply stories from a life, more often than
not pivotal stories that focus on turning points. And as pretentious as it may sound, after spending decades as a journalist,
always telling other people's stories and turning points, I felt that it was time to tell my own."
who have already read the book have asked me how I managed to remember so many details of my life. (Juicy details, though they may be.) After all, most of them took place long ago. But the fact is that most of these stories were also written long ago. It took me a full ten years
to finish them, then more than another decade to get them where they are today: in print. So it might be fair to say that this
manuscript has a rather checkered past itself. At one point in that history, when I was struggling to
find a publisher, a friend far savvier about the industry asked why I insisted on continuing
to remain faithful to fact. Why
not juice it up a bit to make it more marketable – introduce a murder or two, an unhealthy dose of substance abuse,
maybe even a bit of incest, and call it fiction?
The answer, I explained to her as calmly as I could, was that I had spent years (OK, a decade) trying to document exactly what
had happened and precisely how it had. My mother and my brother, the only two people who had been
there through many of these events with me,
had already read much of it and not disputed a word.
Besides, to me, any intrinsic value these tales offer lies mostly in their truth. Why muck them up with fabricated nonsense now in order to make them more titillating?
you'll find my true, real-life
story gripping and engrossing enough as is. Yet, as unsettling as some of the
details may be, I don’t think you'll
find it depressing. There's plenty
of humor in there too, I believe, and it certainly isn’t meant to be sad. It didn't make me sad to write it. If anything,
I guess I wrote it to feel better.
In fact, I've been thinking lately
about why I wrote this book in the first place. In part, it was because for too many years -- throughout my adolescence and
young adulthood -- I wasn't allowed to talk about many of the issues in it, let alone write about them. When it came to my
father's philandering and my parents' volatile marriage, no one was supposed to know. So I wasn't allowed to breath a word.
I'm not sure whether it's an inherently Jewish trait, or was specific to my
parents' generation, but when I was growing up there was a strict code of silence. You didn't dare divulge details to anyone
about anything unpleasant, especially things like illness or infidelity. And when you're forbidden to discuss something, the
implicit and unmistakable message you get is that this unspoken thing must be ugly and shameful. If anyone knew, you come
to believe, you would surely be shunned.
The sense of
shame that results can be even worse than the things you can't mention. It unquestionably was for me. And apparently for my
parents. But at this point, my parents are long gone, and I long to be done with the shame for good. I may not actually post
about it on Facebook, but there's a part of me that still longs to go on "Oprah." Unfortunately, there is no more
"Oprah." No matter. I've found my own outlet for speaking out, and I am all done with keeping secrets.
Someone asked me just last night if writing the book was cathartic. Cathartic?
Sure. Of course it was. But for me, it goes beyond that.
the years, like any writer, I have developed a voice. It's the voice that I tend to use in this space. The "me"
that you have come to know is basically my writing voice. But it is not exactly me.
I hate to admit it, even if I'm all done with secrets, but the real me is not
exactly the "me" in this blog. Decades ago, a college friend I brought home for the weekend once remarked to my
parents that he had come to realize that I had two basic moods: Depressed. And very depressed. Decades later, although I have
matured and have much to be thankful for -- including two incredible children, great friends, and a marriage that has lasted
over 32 years -- I suppose that's still true on some level. But my writing voice is neither of those things. It also comes
in two basic flavors: Upbeat. And very upbeat.
I am an honest
and generally candid person. When I speak, I tell the truth and nothing but. But when I write, I find myself almost automatically
filtering out the sadness and finding a way to express the truth with an air of light-heartedness, or at least bemusement.
I try to find at least a touch of humor, black though it may be, in any situation.
Now, that's what I call inherently Jewish. As Jewish as pastrami on rye.
Writing is like a Brita water filter for my brain. But rather than removing
the impurities, it distills the details and weeds out the sturm und drang, making the past prettier, or at least
much more palatable. It works for me, anyway. Hope that reading my book does something for you.
Speaking of which... Even though this may be a personal blog, I hesitate to
use it to promote myself. I may not be a private person, but the one thing I truly am not is a self-promoter. Yet if you're
inclined to buy my book, let me make it easy for you. I'll give you the link below.
It's only out in paperback and costs $12.99. A Kindle version will be ready
soon. I’ll let you know when it’s available.
by the way, if you read it and have any comments you’d like to share, feel free to enter them on my guestbook. It would
be good to hear what you think. Either way, if you read it, I hope you enjoy it. That -- if it were a word -- would be even gooder.
you want to buy my book on Amazon, please click on this link: http://a.co/3ie09RU