© Yael Mermelstein 2018. Lovingly handcrafted by Amrita.

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I wrote an incredible ‘About Me’ page in my head the other night. It was just the right balance of informative and witty. But I entirely forgot it, so here is a less informative and less witty version of the original.


I was born in Brussels, Belgium where my father was in medical school. My mother worked in a bank and kept me in a desk drawer so she wouldn’t have to leave me at home with a sitter. When the boss came in, she would close the drawer. Today, I am afraid of small elevators. I’m just saying.


My first spoken language was French. However, my parents realized they needed to put an immediate stop to my developing French so that they’d still have a secret parent language. Even taking two years of high school French was not enough to arouse the dormant French language neurons in my brain. I have old cassette tapes of me, speaking fluent French. I don’t understand them. I spent most of my childhood in various parts of New York, where I learned to speak English, and I attended Jewish schools, where I learned to speak Hebrew. This is the end of the linguistic portion of my biography. Unless you count Pig Latin.


I will skip the teenage years. Shouldn’t we all?


On my second date with my husband, I told him that I was a writer. I forced him to sit through listening to a very large sample of my writings. For some reason he married me anyway. But somewhere along the way, I forgot that I had loved writing since second grade, when Mrs. Levin hung my Haiku up on the wall—all seventeen syllables of it. It may have had something to do with my College Professor giving me a ‘B’ in creative writing because she didn’t appreciate my voice. It may have had something to do with the career counselor who told me that writing is not an actual profession. And so, I got my Masters in Science in Education and I taught for a decade. I cherished my students, but with young children at home, I needed a job I could do with my eyes only half open.


Thankfully, my husband reminded me that I wanted to be a writer. It went something like this.

 

Him: “You should be a writer. I’m calling Sarah Shapiro. Maybe she will inspire you.”

Sarah is a writer I deeply respect.

Me: “You don’t have her phone number.”

Him: (flipping through old fashioned phone book) “Now I do.”

He dialed and put the phone to my ear.

Sarah: “Yes?”

Me: “Bljwheriuqhrqt”

Sarah: “I’m sorry?”

Him: “Tell her you want to be a writer!”

“I want to be a writer!” I blurted.

 

She didn’t hang up. She was incredibly kind. That night I submitted my first piece to a magazine. They published it. I couldn’t see the long road of rejections that would unfurl ahead. I couldn’t see that a magazine I desperately wanted to feature my work would tell me my work was ‘uninspiring’. I couldn’t see the three manuscripts and hundreds of queries it would take until I finally landed my wonderful agent.

 

But I also couldn’t see the thousands of articles I’d get to see in print, the eleven books I’d publish and the appreciative audience I’d be privileged to get to know and teach. And some other cool stuff that’s happened along the way.

 

Oh. I also get to work as the fiction editor for a children’s newspaper called Binah Bunch. It is rather awesome. And since what goes around comes around, I’m teaching again—teaching writing!

 

But getting back to the linguistic portion—I live in Israel now, with said husband and seven fantabulous children. No, I did not say fish, I said children. My children’s mother tongue is Hebrew. My mother tongue is English. I believe the best tip for raising children is not to speak a common language. On the downside, none of us have a language that the other doesn’t understand. Unless my husband and I use very hifalutin language. Then our progeny’s ability to decipher our dialect is hindered.   

 

The End. Did you like this ‘About Me’? No? Well, you should have heard the original version.

About Yael

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