• Cara Van Leuven

The Jew Crew Mantra

It was two decades ago, on April 30th, my birthday, that my period decided to flow for the first time on its own accord. I wasn't just late; I was a medical marvel. Although an ultrasound years before concluded there was nothing truly different about me, and birth control would force my stubborn uterus to bleed into submission, my late start left me feeling confused about my womanhood and ultimately about me fitting into society as a normal person.

That wasn't the only aspect that left me feeling out of sorts – I had an absent father who was replaced by a step-father with a firm belief that even in their own environment children were meant to be invisible. There was an alcoholic mom who ushered her husband's judgement by moving me, at the age of 16, and my sister, then 18, into our own home on Upton Court. leaving us to survive on sheer will and prepackaged foods.

Many adults and kids right now have it far worse. You take what you were given and make the most of it and cope with adulthood while you tug at your sleeves hoping the scars of your past are never exposed. The reality is that the mental melodies simply cannot be erased - the ones I cherish for making me my own little person, but simultaneously a freak show.

Take for instance my dive back into a real career after the recession of 2008 and three years of being a carriage driver:

• Start time no later than 7:30AM

• End time no earlier than 4:45PM

• Two weeks vacation

• Three sick days

• A 5% raise for an outstanding job, but 3% is standard and considered healthy

• Mandatory Saturdays and some holidays

• Five days a week, 50 weeks a year, day in, day out

It baffled me that people could make it work - I felt stifled and depressed. The worst was watching a man I truly cared for deteriorate from prostate cancer after sitting hours in his chair, giving his all to that company, and for what I still question.

It was thanks to that I discovered how heavily Jew blood runs through my veins, but it's been kept a secret. Maybe my family was desperate to escape the "Holocaust Centers" and denounced their lineage, but they were incapable of un-Jewwing themselves.

No matter what they take, they can never take your education.

It was a Stenberg mantra that was never forgotten, always repeated and made no sense to me as a child, but imprinted the value of knowledge and degrees and smarts.

Armed with few family jewels, with the exception of a catchy saying and a pretty strong creative streak, I have chosen to go back to school full-time and earn my master's degree. I will continue my job as long as they'll let me on a part-time basis. Painting sales will allow a Ramen noodle upgrade. I'll get fed up and want to quit, but I'll progress to the finish. I need options (i.e., an education) because the rat race at low pay, long hours and asphyxiated freedom ain't gonna cut it. Here's to the new 40.