The chair is damp. It’s a sticky dampness that clings to my skirt when I stand up. It’s really only water, or milk. Or it was once milk, or orange juice or water, and now it’s all steeped in the yellow spongey cushion inside the chair. Knew I should have put on plastics. Or not have gotten fabric seats, vinyl is all the rage these days. Idiot. But when I got married and bought these chairs, I wasn’t considering children, and their propensity to spill, just that these chairs were pretty, and plastic protector were ugly. Well, they still are ugly, but I’ve gotten pragmatic in my old age. Ugh.
Tag Archives: life
I’ve been lying to myself for years. Yesterday though, it knocked on my door so nicely, and I couldn’t deny it. I’ve come to accept who I am as a person, it’s hard, it’s always hard acknowledging something you’ve tried to hide and deny. The time has come, and I hope I’ll be better for it.
“I booked you tickets to Florida for Shabbos,” my husband called to me from the couch. There was light intensity in his pitch, and I knew he wasn’t kidding.
“You what?” I asked like I honestly hadn’t heard what he said.
“You need a vacation, you’re dying to go – I booked tickets?”
“Tickets?” I stressed the “s”.
“Ye, I spoke to Roo today, you’re going with her.”
“But, but, what about you and E, and where we gonna stay, what are we gonna eat, I have to teach…” I started protesting, even though I AM dying to go to Florida. And I ruined it, the whole happiness, surprise and spontaneity. That’s it, I am not a spontaneous person as I had led myself to belive. I like to plan and consider. I like to know my options, know I’m doing what’s best and right for me. I don’t jump into things. I’d rather miss it, lost in consideration, than make a hasty decision.
I always thought I was spontaneous, or I always wanted to be light and free – but I’m not, I’m serious, intense and I think too much. Yes, I would walk to my friends on Shabbos with out calling ahead. But I think that’s where it ends
I cant just get up one day and buy my husband a present. I can get up one day and think I’d like to do that, but it’ll take me a while, to find the right one, the right deal, will he really like. Nike is not for me, I NEVER just do it. I never wanted to be that person, they seem so stuffy and rigid, but I really get thrown for a loop when my schedule changes without ample notice. I try to roll with the punches, but it’s a real effort on my part.
My day is always scheduled and planned in my head, what I plan on doing when, how much time I allot to do certain things, and when emergencies come up – not my emergencies, somehow I handle those, but if someone needs an immediate favor from me, it’s very difficult for me to rearrange things in my head, to realign my expectations of what I planned on doing. Going to Florida is wonderful – not on such short notice it just stresses me out!
I remember yelling at my mother when we would run errands, we’d have a list of things to do and then towards the end she’d remember one more stop she wanted to make. I’d get really agitated. In my head I was ready to go home, I was home already doing everything I planned in my head, and the extra 10 minutes, or even two would upset me.
“You’re messing with my head!” I’d tell my mother. She didn’t really get it, because she quite the opposite of me, drop everything, and do something better that comes along.
I equated spontaneity with happiness, and youth. A careless abandon, and truly living life. That’s how it is in books anyway. And the inflexible scheduled people were stuffy bores with no lives, and ruined everything. No wonder I wanted to be spontaneous.
And when I talk about how I feel, it sounds so much worse and severe and stifling than I feel my life is. I love my life, and I think it’s time to graduate from my dreams and recognize that there are worse things in life than slow to transition.
“Tell your husband to be nice to mine, he doesn’t know anyone.” I said lightly and gave her a big smile. She returned the smile, and let out a small laugh. I left the office and headed to the teacher’s room to make a coffee. The secretary followed in soon after,
“Did she say her husband was coming?” she looked at me intently. I shrugged a little bewildered.
“I just assumed so, she didn’t say otherwise.”
“Well, that would be interesting,” she said slowly drawing imaginary lines on the table with her fingers. I measured my coffee.
“Huh?” The secretary looked at me closely again,
“You didn’t hear anything?”
“Hear what?” I poured in ample sugar.
“According to rumors for a while,” she paused, not for effect, but with difficulty, “she’s divorced.”
“What?” was my dumb response and suddenly felt terribly foolish. Her wedding, little over a year ago, flashed across my mind. “Nobody tells me anything!”
I didn’t drink my coffee.
Come the Shabbaton, the teacher assumed (correctly) that I had been apprised of her circumstances and made veiled references to it at times. I just nodded and said nothing
But I wonder, should someone have said something? I didn’t have to make an insensitive comment to her, had I known. Or maybe she’s rather deal with the in-sensitiveness, than the invasion of privacy.
I know there are things I’ve experienced that I don’t care to share. And when someone mentions similar circumstance I act like I know nothing of the sort. It’s my life to own, my story to tell, or not.
But but, is there an achrayis and obligation not to put people in uncomfortable situations.
“We were due the same time, what’s your baby up to?
“When’s your daughter’s wedding, she looked so radiant at the vort?”
“Tell your husband to me nice to mine – he doesn’t know anyone”
Crickets and a laugh.
There are some things that can be tucked away and denied forever, others not. And for the latter, should others subtley inform people when they are getting close enough, or is a life private and only the owner can disclose its contents?
I’m leaning heavily toward the latter, but I felt so awful about my comments, it’s lending some credence to the former. I can’t really make it all out. I think I’ll just blame it all on the secretary.
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.
I’ve tried it twice, and they say third times the charm, so maybe this year is my year. I’m going to do it. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. I confirmed my account. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. People have done. I can do it too. At least I thought I could, hence the third try.
The first time I tried I prepared a bit. I had heard about it, just as it completed the year before, so I had a whole year to consider work of literary genius I’d produce the coming November. As it turned out, not much. I got 2302 words in. My first sentence wasn’t that bad either:
“According to the law of averages Shoshana should have been married with 3.5 kids, living in Lakewood, her husband starting to burn out in Yeshiva and considering work – or chinuch, which isn’t as dirty a word as work. “
But then unlike the character I was working on one of my 3.5 kids, number 2 actually, and the unique fatigue that cannot be fought of the first trimester won. And there went my masterpiece.
Does a second attempt count if I just thought about it? Colicky babies won that round. And this year…what will stop me this year? I’m sure it’ll be valid, super important, and meaningful, but stopping me nonetheless.
There are always things stopping me from achieving. Valid, super important, and meaningful, check, check, and check, husband, kids, home, family, they come before a lot of things. As they should, and I love them, and chose them. But I do want to learn to play guitar, and I took out 3 books from the library. I watched endless tutorial on YouTube, and went to specialty store to learn to make Jewelry, but little fingers with big mouths stopped me from pursuing either.
And then came Coursera, the free online college course site. I signed up for a class on Modern Poetry last year. I barely made though the first poem, “The Poison Tree” by William Blake, when my sister got engaged, and what with the l’chaim and vort, I missed the first assignment deadline, and didn’t bother signing in again. A year later they sent me a website that said basically, “Hey, you didn’t complete the course last year, do you want to try again?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, the course syllabus has seemed a bit dull last year, but in the e-mail were links to recommended courses, Intro to Songwriting, and Intro to Social Psychology. Both of them were 6 weeks long, one started beginning August, the other 3 weeks later. I signed up for both.
Second time around bore no fruit. I did one week’s coursework and then came bein hazmanim and vacation, and kids and husband around all day. No time, and no work done. I was disappointed, again, but my excuses were so valid, family comes first, right? And I was able to enjoy my road trip to Florida and make endless barbeques without worrying about deadlines.
Two weeks later another e-mail arrived in my inbox, reminding me of the upcoming social psychology course. I always loved psychology, was fascinated by it. I really really really wanted to complete this course, not just for the star on my chart that I completed something, but I wanted the knowledge.
Third times the charm worked, well, like a charm this time. The course was intriguing, stimulating, enthralling, and I didn’t miss a minute. I completed all the assignments, participated on the discussion boards, and bored everyone with everything I learned. And it was then that I discovered that I had plenty of time to pursue my interest, and my family and responsibilities were not in my way of me fulfilling my potential – I was. I wasn’t so busy and burdened with life, I was just straight up lazy.
My kids are in bed by 7, husband home by 7:30, supper cleaned up, by 8:30. Ok, there are some papers to mark, some prepping to be done, some laundry to fold, quality time to be spent, but really, I averaged going to sleep around 12 o’clock, what was I doing in that time? Playing a lot of Candy Crush, that’s what. And flipping through Drudge Report, with news that has me wondering how this world still stands, I breathe. That’s what I always called it, breathing.
“I need time to breathe.” I always say. Time to do nothing, unwind, chill, if you will. I never really breathed; it would just put me to sleep. Write something! I’d yell at myself sometimes. Wash and set your shaitel, the voice would yell other times! Call someone! Stop being so antisocial, is another cry. And I’d always counter with my need to breathe, my need to do nothing. Everyone needs downtime I’d tell it patiently.
But then there are those times that I listened to that big voice in my head, where I exert the effort. And it’s always exhilarating. I feel so great, and accomplished, and happy. Come the next night though and I’m back to Candy Crush. After completing my social psychology course, I know now that it’s not my need of air that keeps me from doing, rather my lazy tendencies and rationalization.
So it’s NaNoWriMo again. And I want to do it. Just it being the third time isn’t going to make it happen this time. But my self-awareness which comes from trying three times.
(I wrote this post November 3rd, not sure why I didn’t post it then, maybe I was too nervous if I didn’t complete it, how mortified as well as disappointed I’d be. Anyway, I finished it. All 50, 000 words. No excuses, even if my grandfather passed away in November and there was the levaya and shiva and the emotional drain which would have been a very acceptable excuse. I just proved it to myself even more, the only thing in the way of my achieving is myself.)
“Who should I make it out to?” I asked.
“Zichron Yaakov Tzedaka,” she answered, her hands fumbling around one her many manila envelopes finding change for another teacher; she was always doing some chessed thing or another. I crouched over the desk and wrote out a ten dollar check. She handed me three red tickets.
“Write your name on it; the display’s past the double doors; put the tickets in there.
I nodded smiling; I had seen the display for the last week. Every day when I walked to class, the opportunity to win a set of linen or aMarc Jacob watch mocked me.
“You know this money is going straight for tzedaka,”
She nodded, “Ye, I know, that’s what I put this auction together for.”
I shook my head and laughed,
“No, I meant this money is lishma, yeah, I’m putting a ticket in, but I never win anything ever, Publisher’s Clearing House doesn’t even send me letters”
“Really, nothing? Ever? Most people have won something or another, even if it not a Chinese auction, but a scratch off lotto or the like.”
“Nope,” I said almost proudly, “Nothing. If it’s based on luck, I’m sure to lose. I’ll win you any game of spit. War, I lose every time.”
She shrugged lightly. “Drawing’s this Thursday.”
She left the teacher’s room. I left too, I was running late already, I had to pick up the kids, but make a stop first. My sister organized abone marrow/stem cell blood drive, and was harassing me to be swabbed.
“You have to show support for my effort” she said.
“I don’t have time.”
“You could save someone’s life,” she changed tactics.’
“The likelihood is small, and really, I just don’t have time.”
“I’ll pay the extra $10 dollars at the babysitter that you keep your kids there a bit longer and just do it.”
“Fine,” I conceded. “I’m doing this for you. Because, really, you know the odds, you’re the coordinator, and keep your 10 bucks, I’ll do it lishma.” I winked.
The whole thing took five minutes. Swab here, here, here, and here. Lost all my lipstick to the q-tip, but I got a nice membership card telling me I’m a donor, and did my second good deed for the day. Then I walked back to my car all the way across the parking lot, because there are never spots up front when I arrive – plenty now, but none then.
It doesn’t even bother me anymore, it’s my mazal, I’ve come to accept it. Am almost proud of it at times. and it keeps me from doing stupid things, like trying incessantly to call into the radio station, praying to be the 107th caller and win a new cd, a free pizza or something of the sort. I don’t hope for rain, or to make the bus, I plan ahead instead. It’s ok, don’t pity me, I’m happy, I just have nosort of luck when it comes to any sorts of odds.
My chicken soup was up, and the fish already made, when her name showed up on the caller id Thursday night.
“I won I won I won!!” I shouted by way of answering the call.
“Ummm, actually,” she started.
“You can’t tease me, calling Thursday when you’re supposed to be drawing the Chinese Auction.”
She laughed, “We drew the winners for the auction, have no fear, your streak is still alive.”
“Phew!” I joked, “Close call. So what can I do for you?”
There was a moment’s pause, and when she spoke again her voice was more serious, earnest, concerned,
“I volunteer for Gift of Life, you’re a match to someone, would you be willing to go for further testing?”
It took a moment to register.
“You won.” She said softly.
I guess I did.
“I won, I won, I won!” I repeated my opening line.
I broke my streak on the mother load.
(Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, though inspired by real events)
a discussion in class about choices,
and if you could do it over
said many students
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
smiles not meaning happiness
“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
because of what
for better or worse,
the good with the bad
the joy in the sorrow
i am me,
and i kinda like me.
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….”
I generally ignore WordPress’s daily prompts, except today. It wasn’t an exceptionally brilliant or intriguing prompt, but my mind responded to it, not on a logical level, but a very emotional one, and I feel compelled to write about her.
My 12th grade Navi teacher changed my life. Well, not she herself, I did that, but she was a very large catalyst. I can’t say she was brilliant educator; I slept through most of her classes. She was though an exceptional teacher.
After yet another period resulting in drool pools on my desk and line patterns on my forehead, she called me over.
I stood there hand on hip waiting for her chastisement.
“The Navi speaks to me, TYTT,” she said. “It doesn’t do it for you. And that’s ok. Everyone has different things that pull and inspire them. I can’t have you sleeping through my class though.”
She had started off well, that spoke to me, but not sleeping through her class, wasn’t really an option, my eyes would just glaze over, I couldn’t fight the boredom.
“I’m giving you this sefer,” and she handed me a non-descript book, with a picture of stone staircase on the jacket cover. “I want you to read it, and take notes on it. Summarize it, jot down your own opinions, if you agree, disagree, any questions you have. This will be your curriculum. And your notes, your test. Ok?”
I looked at her questioningly, this seemed too easy, just read a book and take some notes, but I accepted the book, and the task.
The book was R’ Akiva Tatz’s “Living Inspired”.
And that book answered all the questions I never knew I had. And I felt secure in knowledge and not just faith. Things, religion, mostly, made more sense to me.
Thought is one thing, action another though.
I still slept through all my other classes, Historia, Chumash, Beer Tefillah, Hashkafah, Parsha… none of them got through to me, not like that book did.
But I graduated High School realized quite suddenly that no one was telling me what to do. No one was telling me what was right and wrong appropriate or not. I’d have to live my own life, make decisions and choices on how to lead it. And the thoughts finally translated to action.
I chose to be a teacher, and I chose to marry a man like my husband, and chose to live the lifestyle I now lead. And a whole lot of other smaller (and medium sized) choices too. My life wasn’t happening, I was making conscious decisions to make it so, spurred on by the contents of that book. I was living inspired.
I had clarity on the cycles of life, on daas torah, on the conflict between hishtadlus and bitachon and other big ticket questions.
I read his other books, listened to his shiurim and I my life changed, for the ever better.
I owe my wonderful life to my 12th grade Navi teacher. When I invited her to my wedding, I slipped in a little note,
Dear Rebitzen ——-,
I don’t think I’ve ever fully expressed, and explained how much I appreciate what you did for me in 12th grade. I know, it seems simple enough, a good idea that panned out: Give a disinterested student an interesting book, have her be involved in something Jewish during your class instead of her drooling on the desk in slumber.
But had you not done what you did, I would not be who I am today. And I would not be marrying the person I am; I have you to thank for that.
By just being the shaliach, introducing me to the works of R’ Akiva Tatz, and from him, R’ Dessler, I am forever indebted to you. Those books changed my perspective on everything, it explained so much, and my life, outlook and actions reflect that.
I hope to share in many more Simchas with you. And anything good, anything of merit, anything I or my husband, or children, or generations to come accomplish, is all because of you.
I would have never came across R’ Tatz and his work if not for her. And even if I would have, I don’t think I would have had the patience to fully concentrate on what he was trying to convey. Twice a week, I had 45 minutes of intense depth and inspiration that I got to comment and question. And today whenever I need a little pick me up, when life starts feeling monotonous, I go back to the book – she let me keep it.
I’m a 12th grade teacher now, and on the short Shabbosim, with the long Friday nights, I have my students over for a little oneg. Together we learn Living Inspired, and I love seeing the light behind their eyes, when it clicks for them, the way it did for me back then.
WordPress sent me my end of year and I’m not posting it. I’m embarrassed of my stats, not that I blame them really. I don’t post often enough, and I totally ignore the first room of cultivating readers – responding to their comments – I’m just not good at it, I feel like I have nothing smart to say. And then I don’t market my blog by commenting on other blogs – same comment on comments – I don’t have anything intelligent to add.
I also feel like the Jewish Blogosphere has changed so much since I started blogging, or maybe it’s the same and I changed. In any case, it used to be this really cozy place where everyone commented on everyone’s posts, exchanged meme’s, linked to each other, had conversations that started in the comments and sometimes went off to e-mails. I feel like I knew those bloggers. But they’re all gone. I can’t remember the last time my Google Reader bolded their title alerting me to a new post.
and a bunch of others…
So my stats dwindled as did my posts, energy, and commitment.
My life changed, and I haven’t yet figured out how to write about some things without trespassing on other people’s privacy (namely my family). That severely limits my material.
And I’m busier, and a blog while fun, and a wonderful outlet for expression, is not a priority.
So many times I’ve wanted to just close it down – while I still have some grace and dignity, and readers. But I like my blog, and it’s just as much for me as it is for you. So I think it’ll stick around another year, as I hope will you.
Here’s to a new year (well, not really new, just Gregorian new) and more sporadic intelligence – if there ever was any.