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September Sentimental Surges: Reinvention, Ambitions, and Fresh Starts

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A classic Jewish/Israeli "Happy New Year" from

I recently read Good Years by Maya Arad (in Hebrew). It tells the story of an Israeli living in the US through the yearly letters she sends her friends back home. It’s well-written, and I recommend it, but this is not a book review on that book.

The Jewish New Year is usually in September. It often interrupts the new school year in Israel about two weeks in. Then there are Yom Kippur—A day of atonement—and Sukkot, a week in which Jewish people celebrate escaping Egypt by sleeping under the stars. I think this is one of the reasons the new school year is meaningful for me—that and the fact that I’ve been in school for a very long time.

September—and back to school—means excitement, festivity, and lots of new things: notebooks, clothes (for school and the holidays), school bags (some years), all pristine and unspoiled. It’s always been, for me, a new start. Granted, back in primary and secondary school, I was repeatedly disappointed. No matter how much I tried to reinvent myself, year after year, I ended up, sooner or later, the geek who loved school and did everyone’s homework for them. Still, September holds a newly minted feel.

I can probably tell the story of my life, like that of Maya Arad’s character, in my goals, dreams, and plans for the new school years. This year has been no exception, even though you would think I’d learned a lesson. I usually take on more than is realistic, given my time. I’ve always been an optimist.

In terms of my writing goals for this school year, I’m trying to push myself. I want to finish the manuscript draft I’m working on before we head to Israel in December. Then, I might be able to do a few quick edit rounds and start sending it out in the winter of 2024. Then, I will have time to work on The Mommy Manual. This one is for self-publication, and I hope to get it ready before the school year ends. In addition to those big projects, I want to write one new short story a month and submit pieces to at least ten places a month—either short stories to magazines and competitions or manuscripts to agents. Writing is my main focus. Of course, I do a bajillion other things, but to be fair, most women I know do that.

These plans are in flux, of course. I want to get all these things done, but I know that like my grandmother used to say: “A man makes plans, and God laughs. It sounds better in Yiddish.” I also know that if I don’t set goals for myself, I will be disappointed with myself no matter what happens. So these goals are placeholders, a way for me to look back and say, well, I didn’t miss by that much.

What are your goals for this school year? Are you reinventing yourself this year? Or just taking on more than you can chew? Or is this your year of rest and relaxation?


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