The Upgraded Me

In an overwhelming, unpredictable world, our virtual selves offer an appealing existential strategy.

— Illustration: Diego Patiño

Taxi Driver

Explaining conflict — and how we could resolve it — to my young son in the back seat.

I’m Not Anti-Israel, I’m Ambi-Israel

My theory is that many people on both sides of this dichotomy are tired of earnestly debating the specifics and find it easier to demand a tribal discourse, the kind that essentially resembles a sports fan’s unequivocal support of a team.

Morning Walks With My Son

Walking my son to school was a kind of slow, pleasant awakening in an equally sleepy universe, until he announced he was old enough to walk alone.


And then we hear the boom. Loud, but far away. We stay lying one on top of the other, without moving, for a long time. My arms are starting to hurt from carrying my weight. From the corner of my eye, I can see other drivers who’ve been lying on the highway get up and brush the dirt off their clothes. I stand up, too.

“Lie down,” Lev tells me, “lie down, Daddy. You’re ruining the sandwich.”

I lie down for another minute, and say, “O.K., game’s over. We won.”

It’s Never Too Late To Atone

Even if the person you wronged doesn’t remember what you did, it can still make a difference to ask for forgiveness. Maybe.

Mom's black & white childhood

Everything in the photograph seemed to be taken not from reality, but from my childhood imaginings of Poland. Even the expression on my face looked Polish and frighteningly serious. I stared at the image. If I could have unfrozen my photographed self from his pose, he could have walked right out of the frame and actually found the house where my mother was born.

Ground Up

“Have you ever seen such a view?” he hugged my mom and pointed to the green hill visible from the living room window.

“No,” my mom replied unenthusiastically.

“Then why the sour look?” my dad asked.

“Because there’s no floor,” my mom whispered and looked down at the dirt and exposed metal pipes under our feet. Only then did I look down and see, along with my brother and sister, what my mother saw. I mean, we’d all seen earlier that there was no floor, but somehow, with all my dad’s excitement and enthusiasm, we hadn’t paid much attention to that fact.


it’s the total strangers, people I’ve never met before, who help me grow a bit closer to my father even now that he’s gone.

Suddenly, the Same Thing

When he catches me looking at him, he smiles and says: "Too bad you weren't there. A reaction from a writer would've been good for my article. Someone original, someone with a little vision. After every attack, I always get the same reactions: 'Suddenly, I heard a boom'; 'I don't know what happened'; 'Everything was covered in blood.' How much of that can you take?"