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Follow Me: Chapter 19 

There was a change in their lives, true, but how many people would feel blessed to have to deal with this kind of problem?



"This feels like Chol Hamoed. Or sheva brachos.” Pessie followed Yochi out to the deck off their kitchen.

Yochi grinned. “It’s nice, huh? When was the last time we ate breakfast together?”

Yeah, well, it was nice for a day. Max a week. They weren’t really going to spend a half hour every morning having breakfast together, were they? Great for Yochi that he was finally a free bird, but she had stuff to do. How was this supposed to work?

Yochi slit a baguette open. Pessie winced as he emptied half a container of vegetable cream cheese into it.

“Hey, cheese is healthy!” Yochi protested.

“Did I say anything?”

He laughed.

“Where do you put all those calories?” Pessie asked.

For all his awful eating habits, Yochi still weighed less than her. Pessie shook her head and stuck a straw into her smoothie. “Just reminding you, we’re doing Hindy’s passport this afternoon, right? It’s crazy that both parents have to be present.  You can’t imagine how complicated it was to make arrangements for all the kids.”

She sipped her drink. Calories aside, she had no idea how Yochi functioned with all those carbs in his system so early in the morning.

“Remind me again,” Yochi said, “what time?”

“Three o’clock. Hindy’s coming home early with the preschool bus.”

Yochi took a huge bite from his sandwich. “Sounds good.”

Pessie took her smoothie cup and stood up. “I gotta go now. My first client is arriving any minute. See you later.”

She didn’t want to ask him what he was going to do until three. What did ex-accountants do the day after they left their jobs except eat breakfast with their wives?

When she came upstairs to fold laundry, between her first and second clients, she smelled onions. Looked like ex-accountants spent their time exploring latent culinary talent the day after they left their jobs.

She peeked into the kitchen curiously. Yochi was seasoning a pan of something, singing along with MBD. Good for him to be done with tax season stress. But if he was going to leave a sink full of dirty dishes…

When she finished training her second and last client for the day, Yochi was no longer home. He’d washed the dishes but left them out on the counter to dry. And there was a pan of something in the oven, she was afraid to find out what.

Pessie, stop.

This wasn’t fair. She’d resolved to make the best of the situation; she couldn’t spend her days feeling resentful. There was a change in their lives, true, but how many people would feel blessed to have to deal with this kind of problem?

Still, whatever was in the oven, the kids definitely wouldn’t eat it. She lifted a bag of potatoes onto the counter and got to work on supper. At 2:55, when the preschool bus arrived with Hindy, Zissi, and Malkie, Pessie was ready. “I cut up apples for you, girls,” Pessie said. “Let’s eat quickly and I’ll take you over to the Neusteins.”

At 3:05, when Pessie got back from Neustein, she called Yochi.


She called again. Voicemail again. She sent a text.

Hey, Yoch, what’s happening? We’re ready to go, please call me.

She called again at 3:15. Then she texted him. Coming?

She changed Motti’s diaper. She did homework with Hindy. She folded more laundry. At 3:30, with Yochi still AWOL, she put Motti in for his half-hour afternoon nap. Then she dialed again.

Voicemail, voicemail, voicemal.

At 4:30, Yochi called.

“Oh, my goodness, Pessie, I’m so sorry, I totally forgot! We had a Zoom meeting with the Zambia hotel management and it took way longer than expected. I’m flying home, be there in a few.”

“No need to rush,” Pessie said. “The post office closes at five. We won’t make it.”

“Oooh, yikes. I’m so sorry.”

Pessie didn’t answer. She hung up the phone and went to pick up her girls from the neighbor.

So sorry… So, so sorry. Sure.

In case she’d wondered what ex-accountants did when they left their jobs, the answer clearly wasn’t passports.


Guys, you know I never do these things, but this giveaway is special to me, it features my great friend @taamtamara’s brand-new cookbook (plus a trip to Cancun, but who cares about that). So yes, it’s legit. To enter…

The thing about having 31,480 followers was that it would only take another 520 follows to reach 32k.

And then another 8,000 to reach forty.

“Giveaways are cheap,” Leah had argued with Deena that morning when they’d met in Black Mug for coffee. “Don’t do it.”

“I need to build my following before my Succos tour announcement,” Deena had explained. “This is the only way to grow it fast.”

Leah had stuffed a piece of croissant into her mouth and made a face. “Think if I offer to host a stroller demo, they’ll invite me to join the tour for free? I’ll even give away a stroller for that.”

“Hey, you never know.”

Leah got serious. “Deena, you know you won’t rest before every last person in the world who has an Instagram account follows you. Don’t do it. These are worthless follows, they unfollow you the day you announce the winner.”

But Deena had ignored her. Leah didn’t understand why this was important. Instagram followers were at most lurkers, and often only one-time visitors. Still, with a tremendous number of followers, if even a fraction of a percent signed up for the tour, she was good.

Deena scheduled the post to go up the next morning at eleven. She yawned and checked the  time —  1:15 a.m.

Yikes. She didn’t know about basil, but she was definitely nuts. How had she lost track of time like that?

She left her studio and took a quick shower. Then she prepared clothing for her kids for the next day, took out a package of ground beef from the freezer to thaw for the next day’s dinner, and checked that all the doors were locked.

Before going to sleep, she checked her email one last time.

There was a message from Ruthie Laufer. Looked like night owl syndrome ran in the single-mom blood.

Hey, Deena! So nice to spend time with you on Sunday, really, really glad you came! Just wanted to share this link with you, it’s a forum many of us are on. I think you’ll appreciate being a part of this. I got you cleared by the admin, you just have to select a user name and pass to get your account set up.

She wouldn’t appreciate being a part of this, she was pretty sure of that.

Eyeing the time — 1:32 — she clicked on the link and chose a user name. NotHappening.

She tapped around, read a few thread titles.

Ex badmouthing me again, ugh, make this stop

The day I discovered that corn chips can be considered supper

Why am I feeling so !!!!!!! right now?

He’s gone for five years ……. I miss him.

Need a pick-me-up – any ideas?

Can we start a round robin story about all the ridiculous comments ppl make????

It was late. Crazy late. And maybe these people were bored but she definitely wasn’t.

Ruthie was stretching it. Sunday had been nice, okay, wow.

But this — this was too much. She couldn’t tell from the screen names, but if she had to guess, Baila Weisz was the most active member and Chana No-Last-Name had never signed up.

Deena closed the tab and powered her phone off.


Morning was as awful as mornings could get after four hours of sleep.

Deena knew she shouldn’t blame the kids — she was a zombie — but they were impossibly difficult. You can’t decide on a random Wednesday morning that you stopped liking potato chips and refuse to take them for snack when that was the only snack in the house.

She was finally back from car pool and strongly considering returning to bed when Zev’s mother called.

Deena gritted her teeth and answered.

“How are you? How are the kids?”

Great, amazing, what do you want?

“So Ta and I were just schmoozing… You know how Zev was always involved in helping people find jobs? He was so passionate about it, and he really helped a lot of people find a parnassah.”

Yes, she knew quite well. She also knew exactly how many dinners she’d eaten solo while Zev left the table to take his job shidduchim calls.

Deena made some noncommittal sound.

“So we were thinking, it would be so nice to do something similar l’illui nishmaso. Something like a job gemach. A job recruitment agency, but not for profit.”

“Sounds… nice,” Deena said. “Beautiful.”

“Right? We’re so excited about this. I feel like it’s going to fill a huge need in the community, for employers and employees.”

“Right. It’s a really nice idea, a great zechus.”

Deena listened dazedly as Mrs. Lizman went on to explain all the fantastic ideas she had, like building websites and setting up a vetting and interviewing process. “Then, of course, we’ll need to spread the word.

“And that’s where we’ll need your help.”

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 750)

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