Smiling and Nodding with Alacrity

© KJ Hannah Greenberg, 2020

Smiling and Nodding with Alacrity: A Mother’s Omnibus
Seashell Books, USA
Aug. 2020. Buy it here.


become a lawyer, but, as it was the early 1960s, she left college to parent me. I was born in 1960. My only sibling, a sister, was born in 1963.

When Sis and I were preteens, Mom opened a small dress shop. However, Mom spent most of her adult life looking after my very ill father. Due to her good care, despite Dad’s multiple sclerosis, and despite the fact that for his last fifteen years, he had twenty-four hour nursing, Dad lived to be sixty-five.

When I came of age, Mom encouraged me to become a lawyer. Whereas I was interested in words and people and in the connection between them, I was not interested in applied discourse analysis. Rather than becoming a lawyer, I became a rhetoric professor. I taught theories of persuasion to would-be politicians, investors, and lawyers. Yet, I became troubled by the power of words and held myself responsible for teaching accountability alongside of suasory skills. To wit, I focused my scholarship on the ethics of communication.

One area of my research was the history of communication ethics. I was privileged to work on a yet incomplete book on that topic, at Princeton University, as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar. Additionally, I researched the actual vs. the purported discourse among hospital representatives, doctors, and patients. I even interviewed for positions on hospital ethics committees. As well, I applied my resources to exploring the relative morality of university educators’ classroom speech. I remained “allergic” to abused power.

In the 1980s and 1990s, my scholarship was considered “sexy.” To wit, I was blessed to land my first academic book contract upon finishing graduate school and was blessed to receive national and regional honors. I spoke about my findings at a European communication conference, too.

Nonetheless, I left behind academia’s rigmarole to raise my children. I'm glad I stayed home. While my family’s household budget, consequently, was tight, my sons and daughters had more than twenty years’ worth of a full-time mother. When those offspring were older, Hashem granted my family the miracle of aliyah.

Initially, in Israel, I taught expository writing courses at universities. I also taught creative writing via private workshops. Eventually, fortunately, I transitioned into full-time writing. BH, b'ayin tova, to date, more than thirty of my novels, poetry collections, fiction collections, essay collections, and more, have been published.

I will never become a lawyer. I’m glad for my mother that my younger daughter, contrariwise, is now one. I doubt I’ll ever return to the university classroom or pursue additional academic research, as well. For today, I’m grateful to be a ma and a grandma. Because I am a daughter of Hashem, I know the future will be wonderful.

Introduction: G-d’s Help Masked as “Accidents”
1. Self-Reflections
1.1 Reifying the Sentiment of Self
1.2 No Saintly Fools
1.3 Health-Related Little Smiles
1.4 My Serial Husbands
1.5 Thirty-Four Years, Give or Take a Shoe
1.6 GrGravityavity Takes No Vacation
1.7 Punctuation
1.8 More Punctuation: A Seesaw Day
1.9 Not so Exotic, After All
1.10 My ThursThursdayday Skirt
1.11 Cashmere
1.12 That Most Important Reality Show
1.13 The Path of Torah is the Path of the Feminist
1.14 Beginning with Greenware
1.15 All Things Blue and Green
1.16 Units of Exchange

2. Parenting Reflections
2.1 After Diplomas and Diapers
2.2 Eat the Quinoa, not the Roast
2.3 A Cup of Tea
2.4 Packaging and Brown Rice
2.5 Sons and Daughters’ Little Smiles
2.6 Boys’ Dolls, Matchmaking, and Kitten’s Play: A Slice of Strife
2.7 Martial Family Arts: Computers, Reptile Research and Shooting the Moon
2.8 Sons, Daughters and Sundry Other Celestial Bodies
2.9 Of Broken Noses
2.10 Skirting Issues
2.11 Making Waters
2.12 This Week’s Version of Land and Sea
2.13 Ungrieved Pregnancies Lost
2.14 In Pursuit of Fantastic Contraptions and Other Parenting Foibles
2.15 Call Me “Savta”
2.16 Mother’s Mother

3. Social Reflections
3.1 Connecting the Dots
3.2 Parking Tickets
3.3 Ritualized Discourse and the Hesder Wedding
3.4 Little Smiles and Other Nuances of Israeli Communication
3.5 The Mensch, the Magazine Columnist, and the Accountant
3.6 Cultural Cacophonies
3.7 Eating, not Insulting
3.8 Partying, Israeli-Style
3.9 The Falafel Man
3.10 Jukim
3.11 A Question of Sundays
3.12 A Close Encounter of the Security Kind
3.13 Hot Clime
3.14 Brutality in the City: A Brief Response
3.15 The Soldiers’ Solution
3.16 The Tehillim Club
Conclusion: Glimpsing Gan Eden through Others’ Virtue