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Category Archives: Musings

Just Passing Through

I want window valances. Not pretty, frilly delicate ones. Bold ones, with sharp lines. Possibly emerald, or in that family.

I also want new paint. My walls are white. Not stark. But the dulling gray white, that just makes you think off crumple generic tissues. I’d paint my dining room a neutral sort of yellow. I’d put mauve in my bedroom. And for my kids room I want one wall electric blue, the others a light shade. And really, I want one wall to be a cork board.

I also want a coffee table.

And light fixtures. I have no light fixtures, just bare bulbs. It’s a little to industrial looking to be hip.

It’s not about the money. Or the shallowness. I’d do it all in a heartbeat, if it was my house, but it’s not. It’s a rental; it would be foolish to invest in this space. I’m just passing through until my dream home (with too many windows) becomes my own. And until that happens, I’m happy to wait with bare windows.

There was this story about the Chofetz Chaim that I never fully appreciated. A visitor came and commented on his sparsely furnished home. The Chofetz Chaim inquired of his guest where his furniture was. The guest looked at him quizzically; I’m just a visitor, passing though. The Chofetz Chaim nodded in agreement. He too was just a visitor, passing though, waiting to go home, for Mashiach and Yerushlayim.

As a child, I was never the one shrieking along to the song “We want Mashiach, we want Mashiach now” not because I didn’t want it, but that I didn’t totally get it(also I’m not a shrieker, too self-conscious for that).  I’m not all there yet either.

But I’m not buying valances or painting, because I’m just passing through, waiting for my real home.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Jewish, Musings

 

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It’s Just A Haircut

The PeklachIt was E’s upsherin on Sunday, and I still can’t stop looking at him. My son is transformed into a new person it seems. Until of course he opens his mouth and as my grandmother said you’d realize he’s “still the same brat”. But such a cute brat. Now that his distractive (and so beautiful) hair is gone, I’m drawn to his eyes. They are soulful. Wide, asking, deep, framed by long lashes, they are the entrance to his soul and world. And I think he’s gotten more mature. Even if I know that that’s all in my head – maybe it’ll turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cutting his hair was very difficult for me. I was surprised, considering that I hadn’t wanted to leave his hair uncut and do the whole upsherin thing in the first place. But it wasn’t about the hair, it was about the person I knew to be my child. This is a transformative haircut. E doesn’t look like anything I know. I couldn’t even imagine what he’d look like afterward. While they cut his hair, yes, we all laughed that it was a shame for such beautiful hair to be wasted on a boy, but I preoccupied myself with taking pictures the whole time, lest the tears on the edge of my eyes break free of the rim. I did feel like I was losing my child as I knew him. And even though I know it’s the same E, with his finitive language, and inquisitive nature, on Sunday, he was a different person.

There we two moments where it crystallized and I had to turn my face away from the crowd. One, after all the men took their turn snipping off locks of hair, I stood in the back and looked at his hacked hair, and a loud flashing sign in my head read “It’s OVER. This stage is over”.

Naturally there’s a gradually passing from one stage of life to another, a shade of gray, or green, where the red and blue are changing, a mixing of the colors, with the shades starting lighter, fading into on another and gradually being completely transformative in hindsight. It happened in a moment here. It was hard.

And then about a minute into the real haircut, my mother in law (also the barber in this case) had trimmed away enough so you could see the curve and actual shape of the back of E’s head. It was so round and perfect. And I thought, I don’t this part of my son. I don’t know this boy.

Now of course logically, I recognize that he is the same exact person he was the day before, sans hair. He still manipulated his toilet training to get more candy, he still jumps off any surface possible, and still speaks in finite terms of, can’t and need. But he looks so different. So beautiful, yes. But so different than the child I know, that I can’t help but feel I need to get to know him all over again.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Jewish, Musings

 

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if i could

a discussion in class about choices,

mistakes,

decisions,

second chances,

 

and if you could do it over

would you?

should you?

could you?

 

said many students

they’d love

they’d want

they’d die

 

me?

not sure

don’t think

no.

 

wishing when it happened,

that it had gone differently.

that I said something else.

that some things didn’t happen at all.

 

those moments with the pause

of shame

of frustration

of desperation

 

smiles not meaning happiness

but, sarcasm,

but, grief

but isolation

 

people ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Only the good die young”

“She’s so sweet, but suffers so”

 

the unsatisfactory answer:

they can handle it

G-d loves them

it’s a test

 

i don’t know

if i’m a “good” person

if i “handled” it

if i’ve passed

 

i do know i’m here

to-day

just now

this moment

 

because of what

i’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,

 

all is

for better or worse,

the good with the bad

the joy in the sorrow

 

i am me,

because

despite

contrary

 

of

it

them

all

 

and i kinda like me.

so no,

so sorry

so, whatever.

 

i choose

no reset

do over

groundhog day.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Musings, Poems

 

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Paternal Prediction revisited

Old School Graphic Design Tools

Today’s WordPress Prompt reminded me of this post I wrote 5 years ago – it’s as relevant as ever.

I hope I don’t turn out like my father.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my father.

Tonight we were doing an early spring-cleaning, just one closet. Out came the old coats, the worn out shoes, the broken kitchen appliances, and assorted memories.

There was a large leather portfolio that I dump unceremoniously on the side. It was just waiting to be placed in an organized allotted space. My father passed the wreckage that was the cleaning, and spotted the portfolio.

“My old stuff!” he said excitedly. He picked it up, cleared whatever was on the kitchen table with the sweep of his hand, laid down the portfolio and opened it.

Inside was my father’s old work. His work as a graphic artist, years before computers were standard. Where the artist actually had to be one, and not rely on the manipulations and clip art of present day (not minimizing today’s graphics artist, but it’s a completely different field with a different set of skill requirements).
He pulled out papers where he created an accountant’s sheets. He drew ALL the lines. Perfectly. He pulled out posters he created for concerts where all the elements where pasted on top of each other and then printed together. Brochures, where he drew the products, and the simulation of person trying it. He pulled out a yellowed New York Times, where an ad he created had ran. He pulled out several envelopes and letterheads in which logos he created graced. And then he just took out fun things that he drew with an advertisement theme. It wasn’t just, oh I put together the logo or I worked on it; he CREATED it.

“Ta,” I said. “You were amazing. What happened?” He just laughed and said something like,

“I’m so busy just printing now, I don’t have time to patchke on this stuff, besides, this is not how it runs anymore.”

“But, you’re so good!” I protested. He smiled for the compliment but sighed slightly.

“Maybe when I retire I’ll go back to it.” He said optimistically.

I always prided myself on having some artistic skill, I knew I got it from my father, and I’ve seen plenty of his personal work. But seeing today how he utilized his talents for business was successful and loved it, made me feel a bit inadequate in my dabbling in the arts.

But he’s not using it anymore. He loved it. He was great. But real life gets in the way.

I don’t want that to happen to my talents. I want to use them, for them to be me, not for me to tell my children years from now,

“Y’know I had blog when I was younger….”

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Family, Musings

 

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My Animal Instinct

Today’s post is brought to by Plinky. I answered today’s question, of which animal I’d choose to be:

If I had to choose which animal to be, I think I’d go with the American Bald Eagle.

They are lookers.

They are strong

They are powerful.

They are respected.

They are talented.

They are smart.

They are also an endangered species, so anyone who messes with them is instantly considered a jerk.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Musings, The Sporadic Side

 

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Depressing Discoveries

I’ll write when I have time, is what I and every aspiring, but lazy writer says. I have ideas, I wrote 5 books – in my head, but pen to paper, never happens.

I’m different, I said. I REALLY don’t have time. No excuses. There is no time. Teaching, prepping, marking papers, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing and plain old mommying (just as I sat down to write this my son came with a Dr. Suess book “Mommy, read a ducky feet!”), make up my entire day, there is no time for jotting down a few epiphanies.

Then my sister got engaged, and is now married (Mazal Tov RL!!!) and I wanted to give her a special gift. Nothing you can buy in the store (Can’t afford that anyway), but something from the heart, practical, and hand- made for her – a cookbook, with a monthly menu, and tips for the kitchen (When you have no time – use the stovetop. No patience – the oven).

I remembered when I first got married how overwhelming the whole kitchen experience was. Forget about the actual cooking, where I had zero to little experience, what I found most frustrating and anxiety provoking was deciding what to make in the first place. Once I knew what I was making, everything was much easier and focused. My sister has about the same cooking experience as me, and I figured she’d probably fall prey to the same mental torture as me, hence the menu.

Of course, since I have no time, this cookbook seemed to be more like a pipedream than an actuality. But I really wanted to do it, just like I really want to write. The wedding got closer and closer, and one morning I woke up and the Shabbos Kallah was a less than week away. And it was the end of the term, insane marking, essays, quizzes, rubrics, averages – big pain, little time.

I really wanted to do it though, so I did. I just did. I sat down, and did it. I even went to Amazing Savings to buy a nice loose-leaf (awesome store!), and then the Dollar Tree for sheet protectors (AS didn’t have). It was done in a night and day. That was it. Probably took about 6 hours total. I don’t know where I found the time. Everything I usually do in that time was accomplished too.

It’s motivating to realize that if I want to do something, it will get done. Very depressing though to realize I maybe don’t want to write as much I think I do.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Food, Musings, Slice of Life

 

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I Just Don’t Know

I’m typing this post from my phone. It’s a pain to capitalize, use apostrophes, and frankly say anything more than I need to. Basically, an atmosphere not really conducive to writing, unless you’re Hemingway succinct – I haven’t reached that level of mastery yet (or probably ever).

So why am I subjecting myself to such obvious torture is a good question you ask. I cancelled the internet service in my house, is the simple answer, or really that is the answer, it just leads to the next question that has a more complex or elusive answer, why did I cancel my Internet service?

I’m not sure. I know it’s good for me. Good for me, on a few important levels:  socially, mentally, and spiritually.

But I feel a little torn, because I always held myself as the voice of reason, crying the internet is a tool, and that it’s the people that use it that are good or bad. And now I seem like the extremist, which I never want to be; the Rambam says to take the middle road with everything (but anger) and this is not it. And now I have to get off my soap box, because I can’t preach moderation if I’m not living it myself (I hate those people who say it’s ok to do something, but they don’t do it themselves).

Suddenly though, I find so many more hours in my day. Hours to to do the things I never get around to: organizing my pictures into albums, patchening a little on supper, playing with my children uninterrupted, with full focus not waiting for something to download, process, or what-not. I have time to breathe and live. And it’s amazing to discoverI can be a fully functional member of society without reading Yahoo’s article “10 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You”. I’m enjoying the freedom I never knew I had given up, and with access on my phone, I’m still connected when I need to be, but I’m not going to be idling hours away browsing.

We’ll see how it all works out long term. The people at Verizon say I can keep my service on “vacation” for nine months before it’s made permanent. Nine months…nine months to create a new being of myself-if I choose.

But will I? I just don’t know.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Jewish, Musings

 

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Take it From Me

Kach es Sheli, from Avrhom Fried’s new album has got me thinking, and once again recognizing the pathos of my mindset.

He sings,

“Rebono Shel Olma, Ani Yodeiah, ShBais Hamikdahs Hashlishi aino bunoi mei avanim, hu vunoi me demaos, v’im cul ma shatah tzaruch rok dmaah achas, kach es sheli”

Creator of this world, I know that the third Bais Hamekdsh is not being built from stones, but from tears. And if all that you need is one more tear, take it from me.

When I listen to it, I feel inspired, like I can do this, we are close, redemption is near, and I can be a part of it.
But then I look around at my life. I sit and complain all day, about the smallest the thing. The driver that doesn’t know to ease into the intersection when making a left turn, the secretary that misplaced my papers – again. When it takes me more than thirty seconds to decide what to make for supper, when my kid gives me a run for my money when I try to change his diaper.

Kach Es Sheli?

Who am I kidding. I can barely handle day to day stresses gracefully, appreciatively, what nerve do I have asking Hashem to make me cry for my benefit. I’m not even appreciating the tears he gives me on a regular basis, am I an idiot? A glutton for punishment, asking for more?

It’s a beautiful song, but if I’m very honest with myself – that Kach Es Sheli – let him take Avrhom Fried because, well, I’m a baby who cries from everything, but I’m not an idiot who attempts a muscle to look strong and says “punch me” hoping the other person won’t take me seriously.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Musings

 

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60 Second to a Minute

Alarm clock

Alarm clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m coming to appreciate how lazy I am.

Of late, there have been a few songs sporting the lyrics
“Hayom Kutzer Vehamelacha meruba, vhapoalim atzeivah v’haschar harbei, ubaal habeis dochek”

Roughly translating to,

“The day is short, there’s a lot of work, the workers are lazy, the payoff is great and the owner is concerned.”

It’s a metaphor to this world and the world to come and man is lazy. (for those of you not religiously or literary inclined)

I don’t know why these lyrics are generally matched with catchy tunes, but I find myself hearing them very often – mostly in the form of A.K.A. Pella’s new album, and I’d like to think that they thought for a moment or two about the words that they chose for the song, so I in turn should consider them – and I did – and am.

Now, while I know I have lazy tendencies, I’m not usually slapped in the face with them.

Three weeks ago I was offered a tutoring job that would go through June. I wanted the job, it was a high school girl, with issues right up my alley. My only hesitation though was the time – 9:15 to 11:15 in the morning. I usually didn’t even look groggily at my alarm clock (with no alarm set) until 9:30. How would I possibly manage to pull myself together: up, dressed, fed, ditto for kid, drop off the kid, and be someplace 15 minutes before I even ordinarily scowled properly at the coming day. And besides, a woman in her 8th month doesn’t have that much energy to spare, right?

The money was good though, and with the summer coming, and no jobs, but a baby scheduled, I couldn’t just pass it up.

“I’ll try it out.” I told my husband. “See how it works, how I feel.”

And reassuringly he said,

“Whatever you decide, it’s your decision, I’m good either way.”

So, I took the job, secure in my husband’s support and my option to back out. Two weeks later, I’m ashamed. Did I seriously wake up that late every day? Did my day really not start until I left to teach around two? Was it possible that I never stepped outside, or ran an errand until I had to leave to teach. What was I doing with my time?

Yes, breakfast with my kid was an entire morning’s affair, so was getting him dressed, and changing his diaper. It was leisurely, bordering on lazy, nah, let’s be honest, it was lazy. Now it’s astonishing what I can accomplish in 45 minutes these mornings. And come 11:15 I’ve already achieved, and I’m up and about, doing things I previously felt I had NO TIME for (like I’d constantly tell my husband). My day is profitable (literally and figuratively) at a time where I’m generally wishing I could put my kid in for an early nap. Its horrifying to discover at my age that I actually have the capability to be efficient, and even worse, I might actually be a morning person after all.

My husband too – he’s davening at an earlier minyan so he can still see me in the morning, and I drop him off at yeshiva a 45 minutes before seder even starts (about half hour before he’s usually there). It’s almost a shame the amount of prime parking spots I pass while dropping him off. And he’s learning more, writing more, accomplishing more – in a day that both of us thought had no time in it.

And now I’m left wondering, how much work have I left undone in the field? How much will I have to answer for? Yes, I may have accomplished, but I’m learning that I’m capable of a lot more. How many more hours will I discover in my day, and how soon will I unearth them?

The day is short, there’s a lot of work, and sometimes this worker is not lazy, though the owner’s still concerned.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Musings, Slice of Life

 

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On Giving Up

I am a pessimist. And somehow I think G-d only runs my world, and everyone else’s just runs course with nature.

There are people, who I am very ashamed to admit, I have given up on. Given up on them getting married, having children and those other big milestones in life that some people have a hard time reaching (growing up, is another).

Lately though, my pessimism, and no expectation attitude has come under fire. One friend had a baby, a neighbor is pregnant, another person I care for, married for ten years, has put on her first skirt with an expandable panel (I cried when I heard that).

And then there are the engagements, classmates, who we predicted in High School would be the last ones, well, they are the last ones, but they’re doing it all the same. People who were staff members, when I was camper in camp, popping up on OnlySimchas, my sister’s sister-in-law, 42, announcing her engagement. These things are happening, all over around me.

I feel like G-d is clobbering me on the head, saying “Believe! Not just for yourself, but for other people too”.

It’s hard though. When you give up, you lose all expectation, and you just accept. Accept the status quo, you don’t fight, you don’t try and most of all you relinquish responsibility. I didn’t daven for them, I didn’t take challah for them, or say perek shira, or shir hashirim for 40 days. It was convenient for me to think they were hopeless, because then, I wouldn’t be obligated to go that extra mile. I wouldn’t worry, or feel bad every time I saw them, because I just accepted that this is who they were.

I sound terrible, cold-hearted, and selfish, I know. But part of me is also uncomfortable with the fact that I have wahat other people want so desperately, and I don’t always appreciate it the way I should (referring to children here, not marriage, that I appreciate very consciously), and maybe I have a bit of a guilty conscience. It’s a way for me to distance myself from others, make myself less uncomfortable, by putting them in a different league.

But things keep happening, Baruch Hashem. I get so happy, excited, joyous from the news, and then elated and also baffled by being wrong.

I may soon have to acknowledge my tehilim and stop being a passive observer.

Or I may be human, and wait for “one more sign”.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Musings

 

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