Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shall We Dance?

While loading my car with groceries, I got a call from school. Seems there's a new student at Cal State who is interested in starting a Jewish club. Just like me. Hence, the office of Student Affairs called to see if they can release my information to this student so we can join forces.

Oh yes! It's my goal to bring Chabad to campus. It was truly bumming me out that CSULA is like the only So Cal campus without a Chabad rabbi. Dennis Prager, writing in a column a few weeks back, said to him, in this day and age of air travel, defining an area that is remote means there's no Chabad house there.

So technically, Cal State can be classified as remote. The good news is, this may not last long. After a brief conference on the phone and even briefer email, this student and I just might be able to bring a Chabad rabbi to CSULA in the very new future.

Time to dust off the dancing shoes!

Cooling Down

The weather is cooling off - we've dropped about 10 notches and now bake at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mayor, in a news conference from Washington, D.C., has told the citizens of Los Angeles to stay indoors if we can, and visit cool rooms located around the city.

Cool rooms. That must be like a shopping center with chairs. Whatever. Truth is, most of us are laying low, venturing out only when the need arises.

Me, I've been in and out of my car six times, in and out of two supermarkets, one library and a sukkah, briefly. Having ridden my bike all over town yesterday in 110 degree heat, I'm taking advantage of the cooling trend.

I"ll lay low when it rains. May it be speedily in our days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Learning Something Useful

I stand by my claim that nothing happens by chance. G-d talks to us in different ways, and one of those ways is by showing us something we need to know.

Some people are very special, and G-d shows them specials things. Like the prophets, who saw amazing things and told those things to the rest of us.

In my case, it's not usually something amazing. Rather, it's usually something useful. For example, today I got on the subway with my bike and noticed that there was already a bike propped up next to the wall. So I put mine near it.

On closer examination, it was actually the way the other bike was propped up that made all the difference. I turned my front wheel to the right, like the other bike, and put down the kickstand. Although I was nervous at first, the bike held steady, meaning I could take a seat and relax. Just like the other bike's owner had.

I'm okay with G-d communicating useful information. Just the fact that He's communicating with me at all makes me feel like a special person too.

In Spite Of Myself

Every once in a while I can somehow get over myself. What do I mean? It means there are times I can do the right thing even when I don't want to.

This is one of those times. It's Chol HoMoed Sukkos here (and also 104 degrees, thank you!) and my husband is taking the kids to a Chai LifeLine sponsored amusement park. My daughter had invited a friend yesterday, and we thought everything was set, although we hadn't talked to the parents and they didn't return our calls.

This morning, just hours before they were ready to go, we still hadn't heard from the parents of this sweet girl, and we told our daughter to invite another friend. Which she did. Then guess who called back?

That's right, the parents of the first sweet girl. Oh my gosh, it was like the end of the world. The mother reproached me for uninviting her daughter, and I countered with why didn't' you call back? Nothing was settled, other than her daughter was a hysterical wreak.

When I asked my husband about it, he was adamant. The parents hadn't responded to repeated attempts to contact them, although he may have had a wrong number. Right then, I felt the world spinning around me.

While I don't really like the mother of this little girl, it's not right to punish her. Especially if my husband had the wrong phone number. So I scrapped together the $30 it costs to buy a ticket at the door (as opposed to $5 if purchased beforehand) and had my son call the mother telling her we had an extra ticket.

Truth was, I was hoping we had an extra ticket, but when said son came home with his friend, I realized that we would have to buy another ticket.

I say HAVE TO because I wasn't about to let this little girl suffer for what was truly blunders all around. Smelling a rat, her mother called to confirm that there actually was another ticket, and I protested that indeed there was.

Looking back on something that happened barely an hour ago, I realize that in spite of myself, I did the right thing. In fact, $30 is a bargain to pay for the happiness this child will feel at the end of the day and the relief I feel at having been its cause.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Miracle Story

Motzei Shabbat, which is Saturday night to the rest of the world, I got a phone call from a neighbor. Though a Los Angeleno by birth, she asked me, in a strong New York accent, if I have a son named Mattishyahu.

Why yes, I do have such a son, I told her. Then she tells me that her brother in Crown Heights, New York, has found his wallet on a park bench. Oh please. Thank you for confirming that indeed my son was in Crown Heights this week. What is it with teenagers - don't they tell their parents anything?

Well, I was overjoyed and promised to call my son immediately. Which I did, and left him a message. He called back, sounded so excited and told me that he had given up his wallet for gone and was currently in Times Square.

We rejoiced in how G-d brings people together, and I reminded him that few months back some creep tried to blow up Times Square and he should be careful.

Such is the world we live in. Isn't it marvelous?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Was Melting

A Sukkot Update: for those of you who do not live in Los Angeles, the weather here went from kinda chilly, take a light sweater to that resembling what one would expect at the equator. We went from double to triple digit temperature in two days.

So when we went to friend's sukkah to eat lunch, and found ourselves literally roasting, I felt my mind start to melt. Our host read a few Sukkot stories, and when he was done, I started talking about microbes and wondering what could possibly be the Ebola vector. I mean, does that make sense? It is any wonder that no one shared my concern?

I know I say I can't live where the weather is cold, but maybe I can't live where the weather is hot either. Here's hoping I find where I belong. L'Chaim!

Huts with Food

The first three days of the holiday of Sukkot were actually, for me, a three-day long eating binge. There were only three reasons to stop: Prayer, use of the facilities and sleep. The only thing that slowed me down was getting up to get more food.

So today, when my Rabbi was giving his sermon and someone (okay, a man!) thoughtlessly started to sing as a signal for him to stop, the response brought down the house. "I know, everyone is tired," my Rabbi said. "I'm tired. And hungry. I'm sure most of us haven't had enough to eat."

Believe me - we weren't laughing at our Rabbi, we were laughing with him. And at ourselves. We are all truly blessed, with what to eat, where to sleep, and good friends to share our lives with. It's not easy doing all that in a Sukkah,*but somehow we come through it in one piece. Thank you Holy One, for everything. Again.

*Lubavitchers don't sleep in the Sukkah - yeah!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Gift Of An Old Soul

In terms of schooling, besides the 6-week Spanish class, I've pretty much taken the summer off. So when I went to school today for an orientation, it was like deja vu all over again.

Despite the familiarity, I found myself feeling anxious yesterday, like I had just downed a tall Starbuck's coffee. I felt jittery, nervous, and couldn't focus. Just then, my dear friend and former study partner Priscilla, now in a dietetic internship upstate, called. Perhaps she could sense it from my voice, but she spent a good 5 minutes reassuring me that everything was fine and gonna be great.

But how did she know? I certainly didn't tell her how I felt. When she called today, I asked Maria about it, as we both share a propensity to be anxious of the unknown. And we both had to laugh. Pris is just like that, an old soul in a very young body. I think that's why we love her so.

Thanks Pris. Miss you tons. And you're right. Everything is gonna be great.

(The Girls: from left to right: Maria, Diana, Priscilla, Me, Angel and Sabina)

Making Plan B Plan A

I found out, by accident yesterday, that the Metro bus system in this city does not allow people to bring their bikes on the subway between the peak hours of 6:30 - 8:30 am, which is exactly when I need to take my bike on the subway in order to get to school.

Oh well, Plan B. So today I took the bus from my home all the way downtown, and walked three blocks to my bus stop to catch the campus bus, which is right off the subway line. Only that bus stop got moved over the summer, which is why the bus I usually take to campus didn't stop when I attempted to flag it down.

So I crossed the street to the new bus stop, waited 5 minutes and caught the next bus going that way. Got to school about 5 minutes later than planned, which was 30 minutes before class, and spent a few more minutes debating whether I should walk up 10 flights of stairs or wait for the elevator.

I reached the conclusion that I should take the stairs since the elevator wasn't working. About half way up the elevator began to work, but in truth, all I could think of was catching my breath and what if I had my bike? I could never climb these stairs with a bike.

So I'll have to figure out a Plan B for that one too. Life likes to throw us curves. We just have to bend a little to make it all fit just right.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shopping Persian

Every other Monday I do girls' morning carpool. That means leaving my house by 7:50 am to pick up the other three girls and drive them across town to school. Nestled comfortably in her seat on the way to pick up girl number 2, my daughter realized this morning that she had forgotten her lunch.

She didn't actually forget it, since no one made one for her. As the holiday schedule differs from Jewish school to Jewish school (half our kids are off, the other half aren't), my husband, the family cook, thought she made up the half that is not in school today.

No problem. I'll just go into one of the markets around her school and pick up some yogurt and snacks. While on my side of town, all the kosher markets are owned by Americans or Russians, on the other side of town, that's not the case. Over there, I had a choice of not one, but two Persian (owned) markets.

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm one Ashkenazi Jew who is no match for Persian shoppers. Once, years ago when I was curious, I went into Elat Market, one of the bigger Persian kosher markets down the block from the school (and one of my two choices today) and ran out scared after watching women physically fight over empty shopping carts. Haven't been back since.

So with much trepidation I entered Glatt Mart, Persian owned and frequented, but surprisingly with very few Persians actually inside. The market is staffed by Hispanics, and boy, what a pleasant surprise. Talk about service oriented. Even the valet who took care of my big 10-passenger van, also Hispanic, was sweet.

All's well that ends well. My daughter got her yogurt and snacks, and I got peace of mind. I worked through my fears (well, fear, of Persian markets) and came away renewed. Kinda like Psalm 23, with a twist.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When You Want Something

I kept telling myself that I would ride my bike more if I had a lock. So when my husband and I went to Target the other day, we looked at the bike locks. They were expensive, and, my husband told me there's a chain at home that just needs a lock.

So I bought some locks - three cute mini-Master locks in three day-glow colors that come in one package with the same combination. I picked the one with the color that closely matches my bike (what else?) and tracked down the chain. But where to put it all?

My sons said I should put the bike lock in a backpack. But, hello, that requires always taking a backpack on a bike trip, which is not a certainty. Not two minutes after I said the heck with it and wrapped that puppy around the base of the bike seat then my other son asked to borrow it so he could lock his bike up at the library. My frustration level was starting to escalate.

My husband mentioned a little attachable bike pouch we'd seen at Target that would do the job, but those are expensive and I'm done buying accessories. Back around the seat base it went when my son returned, and I put my mind to other things.

This morning I jumped on a bike (mine had a flat), but not before removing the bike lock and putting it literally in my hand. I was going up the block to the 99-cent store to buy two things, but even though the trip was short, I wanted the security of having a bike when I came out.

Later, after I had purchased my seven items, I went to a nearby garage sale. What do you think they had for sale there? A used attachable bike pouch that goes under the seat for $1! It was all I could do to contain my glee and ride the rest of the way home thanking the One Above for my good fortune.

I also had the good fortune to have a husband who can figure out how that things attach to the bike seat. And now, my bike lock is secure, hopefully on a bike with inflated tires. Amen.

It's Finally Over. . .

It's usually fun being a Jew. We have all these holidays, get to eats lots of different foods, we're encouraged to be neighborly and friendly. But then, there's Yom Kippur.

For people on a high spiritual level, Yom Kippur is a day devoted to clearing out sins and starting anew. For people like me, well, it's a day when we don't eat, drink, or bathe, including brushing teeth. It's a day given over to prayer, and not speaking directly into someone else's face.

It's quite a feat not to have evil thoughts on this day. Granted, spending the all day in shul doesn't offer much free time to think about others, but does afford the opportunity to turn on your immediate neighbors. So I had to fight the urge to let my row mates have it when their children kept walking in and out. I mean, take a aisle seat next time, okay?

And then, despite it all, comes the attack of the giggles. My daughter had spent the afternoon break with a friend, but hadn't returned when we started up praying again at around 5:30 pm. I was getting a little anxious, especially when her other friends asked me about her. I told them where she was, and asked them, perhaps a bit too earnestly, to keep an eye out for her.

That's when my other seatmate turned to me and asked, "so you have a small squad?" We just lost it. Laughed out loud. The image of a small police squad trolling the corridors looking for my daughter was too much. No food, no water, and now this.

But it all ended well, with dancing, singing, the shofar blowing and cake. Thank you G-d, for making me a member of the Jewish people. Because in the end, they know exactly what I need.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Passing On Sins

This morning, against my better judgment, I participated in Kapparot, the pre-Yom Kippur ritual where you take a male or female chicken (according to your own sex) and by saying a special prayer, pass your sins onto the chicken. What happens to the chicken? If you guessed it becomes someone's dinner, you're right.

I say my better judgment because I hate dealing with live chickens. They smell, jump around, run away and obviously do not want to be there. Well, that makes two of us. And in my case, it made five of us. But my husband woke me up by phone at 6:30 am this morning to say there were tickets waiting for the whole family in the living room and the kapparot site closed at 10 am.

This after I told my husband yesterday that kapparot was too expensive for the whole family ($20 a person) and I would do the prayer at home with (less) money in an envelope, which is an option. In truth, I was leaning towards the money envelope because the final part of the prayer requires you to schlug or pass the chicken in a circle over your head three times.

My sons were fine with it, my daughter was squeamish, and I was downright disgusted. It's not that I'm a PETA person, and I'm totally okay with the chickens being slaughtered for the poor. Essentially, it comes down to dealing with everyone and everything in close quarters, with filth everywhere.

I blame it on my microbiology class. Not that I was keen on filth before, but I saw the higher spiritual purpose to kapparot. Now I just see chicken poop mixed in with a higher spiritual purpose. In my opinion, the problem is me.

As I head into this most auspicious holiday, I ask the Holy One to bless the world with peace, kindness, hope and love. Bring our righteous Moshiach. Remove the chicken poop from my eyes, and replace it with awe.

Helping A Friend

I got a phone call the other day from a friend who is unemployed. "Come on over," she said. "I'll make lunch and we'll talk about some ideas I have."

I passed on lunch, but I did show up to talk about her ideas. Her ideas, in a nutshell, were this: "Nana, what should I do?"

Well, I'm pretty good at telling people where to go, but not necessarily what to do. Especially someone who is older in what can be considered, in California, a lousy job market. So I got her to call Jewish Family Services to speak to a career counselor, and sign up for any other services they had. Then I suggested a public library card.

Why a library card? Because the public library is a clean, quiet place to sit and relax, read a book or magazine, borrow books and movies and generally chill out.

When we got there, right away she honed in on the architecture, pointing out the rounded mouldings, light fixtures and airy, light-filtered layout. I hadn't even noticed lights before - just took for granted they were on because I could see.

I recommended two very funny movies and she checked them out. Why be sad when there's nothing you can do about it? Laugh a little. Do your part, and Hashem will do the rest. I hope and pray.

My Thought(s) Process

The truth is, I wanted to eat sushi yesterday AND see my best friend who lives near the restaurant. I've gone over this. Even though in my heart I wish it were the other way around, it wasn't.

Here I am, knocking on the door of Yom Kippur, and I feel extremely guilty about the order of my thoughts. The only saving grace, of course, is that lunch was my treat and we had a great time.

I wonder, in my own defense, if the order of thoughts really count when you're doing the right thing. The right thing, in this context, was to take a very dear friend who was stressed out for a very delicious meal. A meal that we both enjoyed. And then run her errands with her afterwards.

Oh well. I must rely on the fact that the Holy One can read our thoughts and our hearts and mine are true and good. Most of the time anyway. Easy fast!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's coming up to that time of year again - Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The day Jews get on our hands and knees, literally, and pray that we be forgiven for all our sins.

In spite of fasting, which tends to weaken me and my resolve, I plan to forgive the Holy One for a year of tragedy. For all the rapes, murders, robberies, kidnappings and sadness in the world. Because it's all His fault. If He didn't love us enough to give us free will, things would be a lot better down here.

Of course, we wouldn't know it. It's kinda hard to tell things are wonderful when they're never bad. And while I'm forgiving G-d, I plan to thank Him for all the good that happens as well. Thank you for a wonderful husband, great children, kind mother-in-law, terrific siblings and siblings-in-law, dependable and caring friends, and all the love that's in my life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting Physical

I made plans today to have lunch with a friend. Solid plans, until I checked out what time the restaurant opened and realized it wouldn't work out.

So my husband said he would take me to lunch. But where to go? In my part of the hood (Los Angeles is basically split in half in terms of copious Jewish populations: east side or west side) there are not many restaurants and even less good ones. So I suggested frozen yogurt.

My husband suggested we bike it there, and we took a long, leisurely ride, working up an appetite. An ABC News van was parked across the street when we got there, we later learned, to report on all the vacant stores on Melrose Avenue, a trendy street around these parts. Guess if the news doesn't come to ABC, ABC makes up the news.

We then decided to ride about a mile to the mall to pick up some shirts for our son, and then all the way home. Wow, what a workout. Kinda made me want to eat lunch, again.

We spent the rest of the day together, driving from one store to another in a car. Then I took a long walk to pick up some chalk pastels for my daughter at Blick. Needless to say, I needed to hose off before bedtime.

School starts next week, so I'll be working out regularly (lol) at CSULA's state of the art gym in the hopes of trimming down and firming up. Hey, somebody's gotta put all the frozen yogurt to good use!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Giving (and Taking) Advice

Last night, I joined over 100 women in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bais Chana, a women's yeshiva here in Los Angeles. The organization is named Bais Chana after the Rebbe's mother, by all accounts an amazingly kind, intelligent and resourceful woman and certainly worthy of our emulation.

As usually happens when you are sitting around a table with people you don't know, everyone shares their background. When I told them I was a Master's student in Nutrition at Cal State ULA, one woman right away asked for advice.

Well, because it was dark and the event was held in the backyard of a wealthy sponsor, no one on the other side of the table could see that I had a small plate piled high with cookies right in front of me. A plate I complied myself. So I smiled, confessed to what lay before me and gave this advice: eat everything in moderation.

But with an even bigger smile, I confessed again that while I gave that advice, I certainly didn't follow it. Which sounds hypocritical, but in my own defense, I do try not to judge others' eating habits.

So when a dear friend called tonight to ask about veganism, I merely told her it was not for me. Which it isn't. I love meat. L-rd knows I've tried, but the taste of meat just brings me right back. But even if I could give up meat, I certainly wouldn't give up eggs or fish.

I try not to make food a political issue. I did say to be a vegan is a lot of work - no cheap Swanson dinners for quick meals there. And in that sense, welcome to my world. Keeping kosher is harder, for me, than giving birth, and my labors lasted 17 hours. It requires complete negation of your desires in order to fulfill the will of the One Above.

So let me give myself another piece of advice: if you keep seeing food as a connection to G-dliness, and to spiritual awareness, then there's room for everyone to choose what's best for them. In moderation, of course.

When Meanness Shouldn't Matter

Okay, I went back into my 12th grade classroom this afternoon and I got tough. When they talked, I gave them homework. When they talked again, I gave them more homework. I refused to give them the a copy of my power points as a reward for talking.

So why do I feel so bad? I hate being mean. If I could, I would take back all that terrible homework, but I know I can't.

This is it: if they talk, then they talk. I will have to get more creative about stopping them. Perhaps they get no privileges, no extra help, no good times. But no punishment either. Even with my kids, I don't have it in me to punish.

I wonder if they're a support group out there for me. . .

Monday, September 13, 2010

Costco Revisited

Last time I went to Costco, it was my husband's shopping experience. This time, he offered, it would be my shopping experience.

Well, it's exciting to go to Costco every once in a while, but the bloom was off the rose, my friends, and I didn't get what I wanted - a bike lock. In fact, I didn't see anything I wanted buy.

For the first 10 minutes we were there we had only one item in the cart. I felt so self-conscience. I mean, really, this whole big store and only one item!

Due no doubt to that fact that we didn't walk all the aisles like we did last time, which is the most fun. My husband had his list, picked up his few things, tried to engage a few people in conversation, and that was it. I, on the other hand, got nothing for myself.

In and out in less than an hour. Irony is, the person behind us was checking out with one item. Silly me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thoughts On A Fast Day

At the end of yesterday, I told myself I was looking forward to today. Why? Because it's a fast day. Crazy, I know, but I thought it would give me relief from my, how should I say, chronic overeating?

It's called Tzom Gedalia, translated to the Fast of Gedalia, commemorating the murder of the last governor of Judea (Israel), the righteous Gedalia Ben Achikam. He was so appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia 2500 years ago, who had already exiled most of the Jews from Israel, but the tide had turned in Israel's favor until Gedalia was murdered.

Well, I'm miserable, as I should be. I mean, Gedalia didn't deserve his fate. By serving as governor, he inspired hope in the Jewish people that they could at least live in Israel, if not, at some point, regain sovereignty.

But that's not why I'm miserable. I'm miserable because I'm hungry. And now I'm feeling guilty about feeling hungry and not feeling sad because this was a bad day for my people.

At least until 7:44 pm. That's when the fast ends. Remember, Jews and foods rhyme for a reason.

It's The Coffee

Yesterday I had the most delicious lunch with the greatest group of people. First, the hostess and host, who are warm, inviting, and know just what I like to eat (yes, cherry chocolate chip soy ice cream).

Then there was the conversation. My host's mother, who off-handedly told me a few months ago that she had seen Sandy Koufax pitch let slip that President Ford gave her a medal of excellence for leading the boy scouts. If it weren't 2010, I'd say Moshe Rabbeinu learned how to be humble from her.

When my host asked if I wanted tea, I said I'd prefer coffee. Now, when I make coffee at home, I seep it through a cone and it always seems a little weak. But this time, with instant, I think I added a bit too much coffee to the hot water and what I thought was honey turned out to be maple syrup. After a few sips, I was flying.

Down at the other end of the table I sat next to my dear friend Debbie, and embolden by the caffeine, I whispered a dirty joke in her ear. "Why do Jewish women like circumcised men? Because they prefer anything that's 20% off." Mass giggling followed, which had everyone wondering what was going on.

Turns out, a lot of people think circumcision (bris milah) is funny, so when I mentioned it was a bris joke, we somehow got on the subject of people who need a re-bris, (like Colonel Qaddafi of Libya with an alleged Jewish mother). I don't know where the 80s disco song "Don't stop 'til you get enough" came from but I next thing I knew I was singing it and offering up the option of "disco bris!" Now everyone was laughing.

Upon reflection, most people I know get kinda crazy when they drink alcohol. For me, it's the coffee that does it. Definitely as much fun and easier on the liver.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Think I Get The Message

Religious Jews, for the most part, don't believe in the concept of coincidence. Things don't happen by chance because they are meant to happen. Well, here's one story.

I was reviewing my cell phone contacts list a few days ago and saw the name of someone who I don't like. Someone I worked with almost two years ago who made my life miserable. In short, a jerk, and certainly someone I've haven't thought about in a while. I said to myself, "self, get rid of that name."

But I didn't. So who should I see today in the street? You guessed it, the person who carries the name I told myself to erase.

Actually, he saw me first, and boy was I shocked to see him. He wished me a good year, asked me how things are going, and I wished him a good year and asked him how things were going. I quickly brought him up to date on me, but realized later I learned nothing about him. I say later, because I was literally freaked out about standing face to face with this person just days after thinking about him.

So what does it mean? No clue. Except maybe this was G-d's way of telling me I need to forgive him for how he treated me. Until the One Above sends me another message on the matter, I am keeping his name in my contacts list.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shana Tovah

It's getting to be that time of year again - the Jewish holidays are upon us. As I get ready, I realize that I have forgotten to wish all the people of love a K'sima v'chasima tovah.

In other words, may you all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good, happy, healthy, sweet year. May we all share in good times and happiness. May we support each other and cheer each other on. May the Holy One, Blessed Be He, shower us with abundant blessings.

May He give us the ultimate redemption for all mankind: Moshiach!

To my dearest husband and family, my brother, sister and their spouses, to my amazing in-laws: I love you.

To my wonderful friends, I feel blessed to know you.

To the world: 5771 (2010-11) is bound to be one incredible year. Prepare for wonderful things. Prepare for good news.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Something Ain't Right

I am completely fixated with getting my daughter something nice to wear for the Jewish holidays. It's almost all I think about. Now about the boys, I'm not even sure they have clothes. I mean, they could go to shul naked and I probably wouldn't notice.

And the weird thing is, they're kinda all right with that as well. No one has complained to me that their sister has two outfits, new shoes, all kinds of hair clips while they've barely got two pairs of underwear each.

What is it about guys? I think maybe they don't care about stuff like that. Whatever. Sign me, Contented Mother in Los Angeles. If the boat ain't rocking, don't stand up. Just enjoy the ride.

Color Me Stupid

Boy am I mad. Even after going to Kmart and getting great deals on clothing. I am mad as h*#% and I'm not going to take it anymore.

The 12th grade high school girls I teach are real talkers. I didn't take it personally at first, but now I do. Because after my time with them was up, in walked the religious studies teacher. You could hear a pin drop. Literally.

So I asked the principal about it and she said they were testing me. Oh yeah, test me, baby. Give a chance to prove myself. Read this: homework is coming your way girls, big, bad, nasty homework that should go a long way to teaching you to keep your mouths shut.

You know, of course, everything I just wrote is a fantasy. Like when you think about how you are going to kill the occupants of the car that just cut you off. You don't' really want to kill them, just scare them. But you don't really want to scare them either.

Whatever. Deep, yoga breathes. It's all good.

Back To School, Again

I just can't seem to stay away. It was "Back to School Night" at my daughter's school and there I was, back in school.

It's sweet how they have you sitting in their small chairs, peeking into their desks, checking out how well they can see the board from where they're sitting. But truth is, while I really do care about my kids' education, I can't sit still for 45 minutes getting a break down of everything they do every day.

Okay, I read the end of books, so obviously my attention span is an issue. But all I ask is that presenters make it short and sweet. The English teacher is amazing, but, like right now, I know what my daughter is doing. There's no mystery. There's no "gee, I wonder what my daughter's doing right now."

Maybe I just need more sleep. Yep, that's it. So, never mind.

Saying Goodbye

Although we've never met, I feel a close bond to "Devorah," the purveyor of the website "ShirahDevorah.blogspot.com." In fact, I've listed her site as one of two on my own blog roll.

But that's about to change, because "Devorah" is hanging up her keyboard after several years of blogging and calling it a day. So it's time to say goodbye.

I just want to say thank you, Devorah, and good luck in all your future endeavors. Your site was amazing, and I checked it almost daily. It was uplifting, informative, creative, and special. It was an inspiration for me and many others as well. I, and all who know your site will miss it and you.

But all good things usually do end, and it's obviously time to move on. I ask that you keep looking back, and continue to share your unique insight with the rest of us. You will be sorely missed.

K'Simah v'Chasima Tova. May we all meet together in Jerusalem with Moshiach now. Amen.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Devu

I'll admit - I tend not to think about throwing birthday parties for my kids. Frankly, I did it when I was younger and it was a lot of work then. But it's not my daughter's fault that she was the last one born to an older mom, so I took pity on her and said yes to a last minute birthday party.

Friends, I am a fool.

My daughter decided Thursday night to have a swim party at her grandmother's house Sunday afternoon. So against my better judgement (I hate when I do that) I said yes and used all the color toner in my in jet printer to make her invitations.

I called my husband Friday morning from the teacher's lounge at the high school where I teach (see an earlier post on why I was in the lounge and not teaching at 11:20 am) to express my fears and misgivings about the party. Those fears and misgivings can be summed up as: no money.

My husband assured me that he had a little bit of room on his credit card and that it was mine. How sweet.

So Sunday morning I raced off to the Rosh Chodesh Tehillim gathering in my neighborhood, ordered the cake on the way there (the joys of living in the 'hood!) left after saying my portion, got home, and proceeded to make rice crispy treats that would be rolled in into candy sushi.

The party was called for 1 pm, but at 12:20 my mother-in-law called to say that kids were arriving, so I loaded up the car with my daughter and her best-friend neighbor and off we went.

Oh my gosh. Seventeen screaming, *itchy 8 going on 9 year old girls who couldn't get enough of the swimming (my mother-in-law was relaxed while I spent every second counting heads: not 1, not 2, etc.). I asked the pizza man how much pizza for 17 screaming 8 going on 9-year old girls and he said three. Not enough. The cake was a hit also, and the gummy worms for the candy sushi must have been in stock since we left Egypt the first time. They were hard as a rock and hence, I couldn't cut the "sushi" rolls.

So I stepped back and let them take the items individually, which included rice crispy treats, gummy worms, and fruit roll ups (mock nori). By the looks of it you would think I hadn't already fed them. Out of curiosity I tried a gummy worm. Fearing for my fillings I spit it out. The girls, however, thought they were great.

The main thing is my daughter had a good time. Thank you G-d, for a girly girl. With five older brothers my greatest fear is that my daughter would be the 6th boy. Never gonna happen. And thank you G-d, for giving my a few hours with my feet up alongside the best mother-in-law a gal can have. We watched the last half of the movie "Juno" together, guessing at what it all meant, and relaxing after a long day in the sun.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Teaching 12th Graders

Oh my gosh, what a morning. First off, I thought I was supposed to teach at 11 am, but learned it wasn't until 11:45 am. How did I find out?

I went into the class at 11 am and my students told me so. They told me I wasn't supposed to teach until 11:45 am. I thought they were pulling my leg. They weren't.

When my turn did come to teach them, oh my gosh, they would not shut up. Literally. After three successive Sundays of learning how to teach, I wasn't prepared for all that talking. What a pain.

But I did end up getting my point across. I think. The point is Physiology is Chassidus on another level. It is the visible G-dliness. They liked that. Then they went right back to talking.

I can only pray that Tuesday turns out better.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Riding My Bike Part II

Okay, I'm a big shot. I told myself I would ride to Pico, which is about 4 miles from my house. Sure, what's the problem? I can handle it. At 1:30 pm in the afternoon I started out.

I got about 6 blocks before a bus came up behind me and I gave up. Yes, that's right. I jumped on the bus. I'm proud I made it 6 blocks.

Where I got off the bus it was downhill all the way to the high school where I will teach tomorrow. Pray for me. It's 12th graders. I was really a good kid in high school, so I hope that mojo keeps these girls from eating me alive.

Unfortunately, I missed all the buses going back and rode the whole 4 miles home. With a laptop in my backpack. When I made it home, I was sweaty and my back hurt real bad. It was an amazing excuse to take a nap!

I want to take this opportunity to thank G-d (Gracias Adios!) that no car hit me, because some came pretty close. But that's LA. Why make a bike lane if you can squeeze a gazillion more cars on the road?

Oy vey.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Because You Care

Kohls Company is has a contest currently winding down that offers $500,000 to 20 schools that receive the most votes. Thank G-d my kids' schools are in the top 20. Right now.

I am asking each of you with a facebook account to take a moment out to vote for the following two schools:

Cheder Menachem, Los Angeles
Bais Chaya Mushka, Los Angeles

You have a total of 20 votes, with a limit for 5 each to the school of your choice. I spent about an hour on Santa Monica College campus today soliciting votes. It was amazing.

Please click on the underlined Kohls name above and it will take you to the link. The child you help will be my own.