Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Quite With IT

Boy, do I feel stupid. And when I went to the doctor today, it was confirmed. I am stupid.

I mean, a person my age and weight (which I will not reveal) should not go about starting an exercise program like a 20-year old. Seriously. That only leads to trouble.

Trouble, that is, in the form of a damaged IT (Iliotibial) Band. Love the name. Hate the pain.

Here's what I found out about IT:

the iliotibial tract or iliotibial band is a longitudinal fibrous reinforcement of the fascia lata. It is attached to the anterolateral iliac tubercle portion of the external lip of the iliac crest and to the lateral condyle of the tibia.

Yeah, right. Whatever. IT Band Syndrome (ITBS) appears to be the most common injury to active people. In this case, stupid active people like me. For the time being, there's only one way to deal with it, and it's totally low buck. You guessed it, ice. That all changes with physical therapy, which should begin shortly.

For now, I can ride a bike, walk, swim, sit down. If it doesn't hurt doing it, then it's okay. Feet, you're all that's left. Don't fail me now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

I allowed my son to convince me to wake up at 4 am Friday morning to take him, and three friends, shopping at the local mall. Am I stupid or what?

Black Friday doesn't mean anything to me. I don't covet much of anything I don't already own (okay, a brand new car). But shopping at that hour seems silly.

But you wouldn't have known my feelings when H & M finally opened. We waited in line, and I surveyed the crowd. Then I motioned my son over. At 15 years of age, he's bone skinny, but absolutely adorable.

H & M doesn't stock many pairs of pants in his size, so I told him to move fast. There were more than a handful of bone skinny guys in the crowd, not to mention there were a lot of guys waiting for a clothing store to open. What's up with that?

Guess guys also care about what they wear, and how much they pay for it. Cool. When it was all over (read: I wanted to go home) we got three coats, two pairs of pants, two sweaters, and a shirt for less than $120. Not bad, actually. Too bad it was only 6:45 am.

I then dropped the boys off at another mall, and reminded them they only had about an hour to go before school started. Then I went back home to prepare to teach my physiology class.

If getting up at 4 am wasn't bad enough, teaching my 12th graders turned out even worse. The question remains: What does G-d really want?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

. . .All Fall Down

I fell off my bike last night. In the dark. The first part sucks, the second part is a gift. What can I say? It really was my fault.

The driveway to my house is a small hill that has narrow strips of concrete interspersed with grass. I decided, wrongly, to ride up one of the narrow strips to the back yard. My bike slide off the concrete and down I went. Ouch.

Hurt my hand, my elbow and my knee, but thank G-d, the brunt of the fall was on my butt. So no damage. Seriously. That part I'm grateful for. The falling part I hate. Oh well. Such is life.

Happy Birthday and Thank You!

Happy Birthday to my friend Moav. And many more. Also, thank you, America, for being you. As a country, you're not perfect, but pretty close.

In my stats class yesterday, my professor began by talking about the recent flare-up in Korea. She is Korean by birth, and very anxious about the situation there. She had planned on taking her children, both American born, to the country of her birth for the holidays. But not now.

Surprisingly, nearly all the students, most of which are under 20, knew about the conflict and were quite savvy about just who the culprits are. I was quite impressed, and pleasantly surprised.

I add this little bit because something a simple as North Korea really makes you appreciate America. Thank you G-d. America is a great idea. Obviously Yours, by concentrating like thinkers in the 13 colonies in the mid-1700s. Sometimes it's just that easy to connect the dots.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lunching With Loshen Hara*

There's a kosher dairy restaurant just across the street from the school where I teach physiology to 12 grade girls. Last week, I enjoyed their Thursday lunch special of "your choice" fettuccini. Today, I couldn't get there fast enough to try their Tuesday lunch special: personal pizza.

Well, I should have waited. Because the pizza wasn't nearly as delicious as the pasta, and like the Model T, which came in one color, in this case, a choice of cheese only. Ugh.

The restaurant was small, so that meant that I could hear the "older" neighbors across the way, who did nothing but complain about their ill parents, and go on about all the other relatives with horrible problems.

It was a double disappointment - the taste of the pizza and the taste of bad speech. But, like I always say, there's a message here. Let's hope I watch my words as well.

*loshen hara: bad or evil speech. Some have interpreted this more stringently, as any talk, good or bad, about another.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Mutual Kingdom

My son came home the other day with a DVD of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. One of his rebbes (teachers) is a nature freak, and I should be grateful: at least he didn't bring home a baby chicken or long dead animal.

When I saw the DVD, I was suddenly 10 years old again, it was Sunday night, 7 pm and dinner time meant we could only watch one thing. That's right - Wild Kingdom.

We watched that show as a family for years. It got to the point where I zoned out. But I do remember Marlin Perkins, the wild critters and the self-serving Mutual of Omaha commercials. I mean, is it possible to have enough insurance? Only M of O knew for sure.

As I got older, I realized that Wild Kingdom was up against Disney, and we never watched Disney. It never occurred to me to ask my father why. Later, as an older adult, I realized the Walt was an anti-Semite, much like most non-Jews of his time. Perhaps that was the reason.

Perhaps it was due to dad being a city boy, born and raised, who really appreciated the natural world. Doesn't matter. I've seen plenty of Disney since. Ah, the memories.

More Thoughts On Organizing

I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a purse organizer, and mission accomplished. I felt empowered.

Then I went to my mother-in-law's house for pizza Sunday night and got a crash course in purse organizing. According it Bubbie, it begins with buying the right purse. Which, she pointed out, I had not.

It was like sitting at the feet of the master. I sucked it all in, made big plans for transferring her organizational skills into my own life and making my purse work for me.

When I got home, I did just that. Found a phone case, clipped it on the inside of my purse onto a pocket. Found a climber's clip, a little chunky, but definitely fits my keys and the ring end of my purse. Nice lime green too.

Am I happy? Oh yeah. Am I on my way to BBB to return my now, superfluous purse organizer? You bet. Will I buy something else instead? Probably.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting Grouchy

When I plan out my day, I budget my time accordingly. So when change happens, I get put out. Pissed off. Grouchy. It's my bad, but my reality too.

Such is today. I planned to work with someone on a project this morning, and cleared the deck, so to speak. But something happened and this someone else can't make it until this evening. A normal person would smile and say, "oh well, I'm still alive!"

I'm not exactly normal. So right now, I'm Nana the Grouch. And I happen to be wearing green. Not a coincidence, I'm sure.

I also get a little grouchy when I finish a good book, which I did in the wee hours of the morning. Shabbos is my day off from the secular, but not motzei Shabbos, so I finished up Kathy Riech's latest, Spider Bones. Loved it, as usual.

So perhaps I should change the color of my clothes and start my day over. And keep telling myself, "it's okay. It's all good."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bring On The Snaps

On my way home last night, walking with two classmates, I got nostalgic for the old days. The days when there were only 8 channels and you watched the corniest commercials ever. Like the one I was pining away for last night.

It all began when my dear friend Moav stopped suddenly on our way to the parking lot because she couldn't remember where she put her wallet. So she set down her big purse/bag and starting rustling through it until, thank G-d, she found it.

Like a therapy session gone wild, we three started trading true confessions about how our purses were inadequate and how we can never find anything in them. Then it happened. The pining away, that is.

Thirty-odd years ago, there was a commercial for this vinyl purse where everything you owned could be snapped in. As a young thing, the very thought of snapping anything other than clothing seemed gross, so I prayed that I would never get old and need such a purse.

Some prayers don't get answered. That prayer was one of them. I am old and I need that purse. I need to snap in all my belongings, and I need it now. Complete with embroidered initials on the outside. Bring it on!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Best Buy

Went to Staples this morning, early. Kinda a dry run for Black Friday, which part of me hopes never to engage in and part of me can't wait for.

I bought a laminating machine, something I've always wanted but just never could find at the right price. Well, bingo baby. I bought a $99.99 laminating machine for $29.99 this morning. My world is about to become encased in plastic.

I've gotten it into my head to create a 3x5 note card notebook with all the information I need to be a practicing registered dietitian. For that to happen, and the note cards to survive, they would need to be laminated. Considering the going rate for such services is about $4 for 6 cards (granted, that's front and back, so 12 images), I think this puppy may pay for itself in the long run. Especially since I can think of lots of things to laminate.

Watch out kids. Mother's mind is a working! Look out free world, my brain's a buzzing. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The End Is Kind Of Near

I'm freaking out. I'm in the 8th week of a 10-week quarter and the end is kinda near. I can't seem to focus on what to do first. So I copped out. I decided to write this.

No excuses. I work better under pressure, although my face breaks out. I start scratching myself and getting irritable. But still, the final product is always worthy of high praise.

I especially like teamwork. Working with Maria and Moav is a piece of heaven. Right now, we're writing a counseling script for a patient with hypertension. When we act it out, that patient will be me.

Right now, before I actually become that patient for real, I need to take a deep breath and know it will all be okay.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hidden Miracles

It's an hour and a half before Shabbat and I can barely keep my eyes open. This week has been extremely tough. Two midterms, one Yom Iyun (teacher in-service day), a major trip downtown and back by bike and bus. And then there's Dr. Tam's other midterm due next week.

Even though I am exhausted, I can see the G-dliness in our world. I took my daughter to the massive kosher market in the Valley (think Ralph's with only kosher food, fresh and packaged), and we enjoyed our trip down the aisles deciding what to eat on Shabbat.

Spoke to two dear friends by phone who I don't see very often and it was great to hear their voices. With Veteran's Day off, I got to see my children in the evening. I could go on, but Shabbat is knocking at my door.

After I take roll in the high school physiology class I teach Tuesdays and Fridays, I give each girl a turn at reading a short chapter from "Bringing Heaven Down To Earth," an amazing book of short thoughts all taken from the Rebbi by Tzvi Freeman. The girls love it, and vie for their turn to read, which goes in row order.

Today my student read about hidden miracles, and I really related to it. If we were to sit down and just think about all the hidden miracles that happen to us, we would be more impressed with our Creator.

Hard to imagine being more impressed, but it's true. Try it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Penny For Her Thoughts

While waiting for the eye doctor to see me today, I saw another penny laying on the ground. Without a thought, I picked it up. There was an old lady sitting right across from me and I told her plainly, "I have to pick this up."

She looked at me and said, "It's really cold in here. Are you cold?" I assured her I was cold, put the penny in my pocket, and went back to studying. How weird is that?

Whose The Blind One?

I decided to ride my bike and take the bus everywhere I needed to go today. That meant to the eye doctor and then to the city of Commerce to take care of some business.

I got as far as downtown LA where I waited for the bus to take me to Commerce. There was another man waiting for the another bus at the same stop and we got to talking. I asked him what bus he was waiting for and he told me. It just seemed so natural to reply, "okay, I'll keep my eye out for it."

The minute that left my mouth I felt like an idiot. Because the man waiting for the bus right next to me was blind. White cane blind. I apologized right away, but the man, a truly good-natured soul, thought it was funny.

But even though he laughed it off I felt really bad for being so insensitive. So when his bus came, I not only shouted it out (don't ask), but led him to it. Kinda like redemption for the past deed.

I could excuse my behavior by saying I'm tired and wasn't thinking. But it's really all about being sensitive to other people and their situations. Bottom line: gotta keep working on myself.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Step In The Right Direction

Even with all the drama of the last 24 hours, I decided it was high time I did something nutritionally sound for my family. So when it was 9:30 am this morning (or 10:30 am, depending on how attached you are to standard time), I took my daughter and went to the corner kosher grocery to buy some food.

That included 4 different kinds of fruits, 2 different kinds of vegetables, a couple of breakfast snack bars (G-d forgive me!) and bagels. The latter item I bought for my two sons who can't seem to get enough food and want something quick. Or is it the other way around?

Whatever. Now there's enough nutritious snacks to make everyone happy. For now.

After All Is Said And Done

I decided last night to work late on my homework, get up early, and again chip away at it. All because I knew that this afternoon I would spend my time crying and comforting the people around me when we buried a young man whose accidental death sent the community into a tailspin this Shabbat.

It was brutal. First, the levaya at the yeshiva where the young man spent so much of his time, and where three rabbis tried, but failed, to make sense of a senseless death. Then the boy's father got up to speak, and the crying from the women's section was so loud that we could barely hear his words, often drowned out by his own tears.

First the women, and then the men, left the building and followed the hearse down the street before it took off for the cemetery.

Then the burial. Hundreds waited for a third sister, whose plane had just come in from England, to arrive before lowering the casket into the ground. Please. The first sounds of dirt hitting the coffin (by city law, the dead can be buried in shrouds but then placed in coffins before being interred) were too much for us and we started again to cry .

After the men had left and the mourners were comforted by walking through a line men and women on either side, I went to the new grave site. It seemed so cold in its newness. Then my friend Chava called my attention to the sky - it was vivid pink, purple, gold and gray. in other words, beautiful.

It was as though Hashem Himself was welcoming our young bochur home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where Do I Begin?

There is no beginning to heartache. And that's how I feel right now. Not 30 minutes before Shabbat I learned that the 23-year old recently engaged son of a member of my congregation died Erev Shabbat after scuba diving. This will be the FIFTH child this couple will have buried in the last 18 years.

I've cried, I've screamed Ad Motsei! (Enough) and cried again. The young man is gone, no doubt taking his seat under the Throne of Glory, since Erev Shabbat, the gates of gehinom are closed. It's the parents that I, and many of my friends, worry about now.

Dear Hashem, in all His glory, I beg of you. For all of us who remain in these last few moments before redemption, please allow these two people who have suffered so, to smile again, to laugh again, to live a normal life. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Office

I got to school early this morning, put my bike away in its locker, and headed for my office on the third floor of the library. When I got to the library's entrance 5 minutes before it opened, I told the guard on duty that I needed to go to my office upstairs.

Without a flicker of a smile, the guard informed me that I didn't have an office, I had a cubicle.

Excuse me, I thought to myself, but the walls of my office extend nearly to the ceiling, and the DOOR locks, leaving my completely enclosed, with no one else in sight.

I smiled and I told her it was my office. "Cubicle," she responded. I leaned in real close. "I like to call it my office," I told her. "It makes me feel big."

I then turned on my heels and headed upstairs. To my office.

I Did It

Well, I did it. I picked up a penny off the floor of the bookstore. Perhaps the spell is broken. I can now walk free and not see another penny, laying there motionless, waiting for me.

Dear G-d,

Whatever I did to deserve penny penance, please forgive me. If it is Your will that I pick up pennies, then so be it. I'm here for you. Just do me a favor. Be here for me!

L, Nana

"Find a penny, pick it up. All the day you'll have good luck."

I Hate To Wait

People in cold climates, ignore my rant. Because it is so hot here, it's made the record books.

Seriously, 97-degree Fahrenheit is not normal for the 3rd of November. Sure, the big joke is we can spend Hanukkah on the beach, but this is sick. Everyone is miserable. There's no avoiding the searing sun unless you stay inside. ALL DAY.

My friend Vickie and I decided to get some free help from the research department here at Cal State. We waited a half hour before giving up. There was no sign up sheet, no indication that help was forthcoming any time soon. I just lost my patience.

After we retired back to my cubicle/office, Vickie, wilting quickly, looked and me and said, "at least it was air conditioned."

Yes, thank G-d is was air conditioned. Any wonder why my brain was fried today?

Brain Drain

Today, my brain was tired. I managed to drag the rest of my body around, but found I had a hard time focusing on what I needed to do. My mind was just not working.

Which really isn't the way I should spend the one longest day of the week in school. What a bummer. Least I spent it with the people I love to be around - Maria, Moav, Vickie and the gang. But seriously, I need to get productive!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Am I Getting Paranoid?

Okay, so I mentioned before that G-d speaks to me and I get the message and usually change my ways or whatever. But there's another message coming at me and I can't figure it out at all.

For the past month I've been seeing pennies on the ground. Everywhere I look, there's a penny. On the sidewalk, in the street, near the stairs. You name the place, and chances are I'll find a penny there.

Now, I won't pick them up on principle. I hate all those Jews and a penny jokes, and they've scarred me for life. I had a reprieve a few years back, when a Catholic professor I worked for told me he always picks up coins on the ground. But lately, I get that icky feeling every time I see a penny laying there. In wait.

I was motivated to write this today because of the last straw: I was riding my bike and saw a brand new, shiny penny in the road, just crying out to me.

Okay, Holy One, I promise to pick up the next penny. I promise to work on my fears and disgust of the stereotypical Jew pinching pennies and pick them up. Please, give me strength I need to make it happen!

Dearest Debbie

It's truly a gift to have one great friend. In this regard, I have been blessed with much more. But one friend in particular needs an honorable mention. That friend is Debbie.

When my sister said she could not attend my son's Bar Mitzvah kiddush, I was very sad. Debbie sent me one of her funny emails that night and I wrote her back with my tale of woe. She responded immediately, offering to do whatever needed to be done. In other words, act like a sister.

Debbie came dressed to kill on Shabbos, looking amazing. In fact, she looked like the Bar Mitzvah's mother, which made me feel glad that one of us had thought to dress up. I had asked her to sit beside me during the meal, and there she was, entertaining everyone at the table while I sat there, overwhelmed. My mother-in-law mentioned to me afterwards how cute she thought Debbie was, and had also appreciated her upbeat, kind manner.

So here's a shout out to you, Debbie. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.