By Malkie Hirsch
I figure this is as good a time as any to tell you all a bit about myself. Some of you may have known me from “before”—as a food blogger or a member of the original Gordon clan.
But I feel like some major things happened in my life and then, suddenly, I come at you with this tear-jerking column. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love having the ability to move people that way, but can we pause for just a second and maybe see if I can make you smile instead?
I’ve always wanted to be funny, and I’d love to have the opportunity to practice that muscle a bit, if you’re OK with it. (If you’re not, you can stop reading here. Or keep reading but stay determined to not be amused.)
For the last couple of years, you’ve been privy to a pretty serious and sad part of my adult life. For so long, I wondered if the carefree, quirky, and fun parts of my personality would re-emerge after I sorted out a lot of the feelings of grief, loss, and abandonment in therapy.
For months during therapy, I would mostly cry and emote, but then eventually a corner was turned and I started to smile. And then sometime after that, I’d laugh, and my therapist would laugh with me. And we began to talk about life and thoughts and feelings beyond loss, and we laughed more and more. Often, if you could listen in, you might think I was coming for something entirely different from grief. Because, slowly, it became about redefining myself beyond the loss, rediscovering and recreating all the best parts of me, and even finding some new ones I didn’t realize I had.
With her help, I rediscovered and reinvented myself there and I want to share this new chapter with you, because it might be encouraging to see someone come back from a dark place and resurface not only as the person she was before but as the enhanced version of herself. More emotionally attuned, more grateful, more spiritual, and more of the me I had inside of me that was meant to come out at this very point.
Before I get into all that, let’s start with the basics. For those who aren’t regular readers of this column, or who might not know my background, here’s a chance to fill you in on roughly the last four decades of my life. I promise I’ll abridge, and only gloss over to the notable parts.
My name is Malkie, I’m 41 (today), and my father owns this newspaper. I’m the oldest and therefore the most important child of Larry and Esta Gordon. (That’s not a joke, just the truth.)
I had actually tried writing a different column for this paper a few years back. The topic then was food, which had been my focus as a food blogger on Facebook and Instagram for years, under the moniker “Kiss the Kosher Cook.”
Writing with a deadline looming ahead wasn’t as much fun as I’d anticipated, and I found myself really struggling to fill enough space to write about something I loved but maybe wasn’t specifically inspired to write about.
Fast-forward a few years and my life took a tragic, unexpected turn, with my husband’s sudden passing at 40. That seemed to be the catalyst for an endless amount of words that began to effortlessly flow from my fingers into my notes app. Yes, I write everything on my iPhone, not a laptop or computer or a notepad. Another fun tidbit: I’m a lefty and my handwriting is and always has been illegible, so handwriting anything wouldn’t be too practical. My mother would actually threaten to send me to cursive camp if I didn’t improve my penmanship. Try as I did, I couldn’t improve my handwriting or become a doctor, which at least would have justified it. I can bake a nicer cake than most doctors, I’m sure of that. (Also, by the way, Mom, now I know there’s no such thing as handwriting camp—nice try.)
And so I write copiously now. About my thoughts, the books I read, my therapy, my experiences, and my dating life, which ranges from exciting to sad to bizarre.
I write about parenting five kids as a single mother and still feeling tremendous, ever-deepening gratitude for just about everything.
I write and hope people can not only cry but also gain insight from me. I hope they can learn to understand the various people in their lives going through similar big life struggles, whether divorce, widowhood, or being an older single. It can look different but there’s a lot of commonality—the emotional pain, the loneliness, the awkward social moments, and the wishing to join the ranks of the “normal.”
This gift (discovered a bit later in life) is expressing my feelings through written word. Most people who know me personally recognize that I speak the way that I write.
It’s not fancy or flowery but it’s clear and honest, and very much me. And so, dear readers, in this week’s edition of “Malkie’s life” I share some random fun facts about me that were true even “before.”
I like to use my gift of gab to coin funny phrases like “hands-off parenting” (my method of raising children).
I have this theory that two beautiful people will never have beautiful children.
I always look into a luxury car and pat myself on the back when the car’s driver is a man clearly going through a midlife crisis. The fancier the car, the bigger the crisis.
I currently have 15,824 unread e-mails in my inbox, some of which I’m sure need to be addressed but probably won’t be until someone calls me and asks if I received their e-mail. Moral of the story—don’t e-mail me. (Or hire me for administrative work.)
I’ve developed an allergy to filling out camp or school registrations or the overwhelming amount of forms they send year after year after year. Don’t they keep this stuff under my kids’ names? Save trees and stop asking for us to fill out the same paperwork year after year. I’m doing this for the planet and also because otherwise Fraydie gets stuck doing it for me, so here’s a check, take my kid, and let’s call it a day.
Speaking of checks, I’m the girl who gets paid and forgets to deposit them. Don’t even think about telling me to take a picture of the check and it’ll magically appear in my account. I can’t accept that we’ve gotten there already. When I find the checks six months later, you’ll find me standing in line at the bank with the 90-year-olds.
I’m likely the only foodie I know who doesn’t eat meat. Nothing sounds less appealing to me than a juicy steak. My idea of an ideal meal at a steakhouse is a piece of salmon and the fries on the side that I shouldn’t eat but still will. After all, it’s a vegetable. Technically. I think. Just fried. And served with ketchup.
I love sushi and can eat any form of it—and no, sushi is not a cooked salmon cucumber roll; that’s the Jewish man’s version of sushi and not the authentic Japanese version at all. A salmon cucumber roll is essentially a lazy person ordering some salmon, rice, and salad.
I hate birthdays and fondly recall the time I wanted to melt under the table as the entire wait staff at Garden of Eat-In on Avenue J would sing the birthday song to me.
I never had a bat mitzvah party because of my shyness and my discomfort of being in the spotlight. (Which is funny, because I’ve become sort of a public figure, but no one offered me to do a bat mitzvah party as an Instagram story. That, I might have considered.)
Even in my twenties, I kept wanting to skip the wedding and just be married without the hoopla—sorta hoping that’ll become a trend in the near future.
I’m actually hoping to meet my next Prince Charming in time to squeeze in a COVID-style non-wedding wedding. Or a dinner at a restaurant with me wearing a black non-wedding dress. Either will do.
I know that this is a departure from that usual soul-baring prose I’m accustomed to writing over here but this is me as much as that is.
Once in a while, with your blessing, I’d love to continue nurturing the lighter, funnier side of how I process life too.
Golda Meir once said: “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” I’ve learned that the reverse is true, too. Once I allowed myself to weep wholeheartedly, I found a deeper appreciation for wholehearted laughter, too.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of just 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are now privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.