Thursday, December 29, 2011

In My Humble Opinion. . .

There's been a lot of indignation in the news of late about religious Jewish men in Israel demanding that women either ride in the back of the bus and/or don't ride at all.  I can't say I understand what it's all about.  What I do understand, from personal experience, is that riding the bus can be a long, tedious process, and one that can be filled with aggravation (from waiting) and fatigue (no available seats).  I can't imagine being denied a seat on purpose, in addition to all that.

I live in a completely secular country with a fairly open mind about most things.  Not that we Americans don't have our issues, but in terms of anyone riding in the back of the bus, especially when they may not want to, well, we're past that.

So I'm trying to relate to why these particular men in Israel are making such a big deal about where women sit on the bus.  Okay, maybe they feel it's immodest to sit next to a woman.  Then I recommend they stand.  Bus riding is the one thing I do that makes me feel Third World - and I'm not to happy about it.  But my cars are old and I try to spare them when I can.  Too bad Rosa Parks isn't around to fill in the blanks these men obviously have in terms of respect.

I'm not a big fan of the secular in Israel, but they just might have a point with this issue.  Truth is, it all comes down to an issue of demographics: the religious in Israel (and elsewhere) are having many children and the secular are pretty much reproducing themselves.  It's only a matter of time before the religious are in a position to out-vote the secular.

All the more reason to get certain things, like attitudes and behavior towards women, straight right now.  I'm a big supporter of free enterprise.  Let the Haredi (religious) get their own buses, and then they can dictate who sits where.  But on a public bus in a secular, democratic country, I, and anyone else, sits where we want.  As long as we pay the same fare, we get the same treatment.

That said, I realize that secular women are picking a fight with the Haredi by confronting them on public buses that frequent religious neighborhoods.  But somehow, I think this fight has to happen, and I think in the end, the Haredi will lose.  In a person's home, in a community synagogue, there can be less tolerance.  But in the public sphere, nobody, male or female, white or black, should be shunted to the back of the bus because somebody, other than they themselves, think they belong there.

That's the American in me speaking.  The person who watched, as a child, the civil rights movement take hold.  Here, it means something to say "get to the back of the bus" and it isn't a good thing.  It means you're less of a person.  And that, my friends, just isn't right.

Monday, December 26, 2011

You Know You're Old When. . .

There was a time when pulling an all-niter meant my eyes hurt a little, but I could function just fine.  Well, that was 20-odd years ago.  Today, staying up past 10 pm means a sluggish day to follow.

That goes for driving up to and back from Napa Valley, California, nearly 800 miles round-trip, within 24 hours.  Gone are the days when I could travel that distance and more and my limbs still moved right afterwards.

This past Thursday, my son and I drove straight up I-5 (I=Interstate) to Napa with 4 bathroom stops and 1 gas refuel.  I felt like my back would not completely unfold, and my arms were stuck in the 11 - 1 o'clock position. We did this so we could attend the upsherin, or first hair-cutting, of a dear friend's 3 year old son.

I brought enough food to get us through the ride, and we filled up on donuts and latkes at the town menorah lighting.  When I tried to nap afterwards, I realized that two cups of "tall" Starbucks coffee was one too many.  I was wired.

By midnight we were on the road home.  I wanted to be back early enough to relax before Shabbat, but I was afraid to let my son drive I-5 at night so I drove the whole way home.  By 6:00 am we were merging into LA traffic, and my reflexes were shot.  The speed limit is 65 mph, I was doing 70 mph, and cars were flying past me.  I was freaked out.

We got home by 6:30 am and I fell right to sleep.  The rental car needed to be back by 9 am, and I told my husband to wake me at 8 am so I could shower, shampoo and shine.  But there was no way I could get out of bed, so he returned the car for me.  I stayed in bed until 11 am, and that didn't seem nearly long enough.

Getting old is not pretty, my friends.  No way, no how.

Rethinking Friendship

I posted a few days back about a friend behaving in an unfriendly way.  I was strident, firm in my belief that what this friend did was wrong and I would never speak to her again.

Well, I thought about it.  I found that being mad was making me miserable, and that wasn't the point, was it?  For the past two week I've refused to speak to this person, but I just couldn't keep it up.  On Shabbat, after davening, during the women's shuir, I told a funny story, and this person laughed.  I look straight at her, and laughed with her.

At kiddish, I sat across the table from her and we spoke about things in general.  No doubt our friendship is harmed, but not completely over.

Yesterday, she sent me a text-message thanking me for being so gracious on Shabbat and telling me she has had a hard time with all this.  I wrote back to tell her that I was just as miserable as her, and was glad to speak to her again.

Then she text-messaged me back and said what a good friend I was.  No, I said, I'm not a good friend.  Just older and wiser.  The truth is, if we expect Hashem to forgive us for our sins, then we have to forgive everyone for theirs. I've heard this all my life, but never really accepted it until now.

Thank you, friend, for helping me realize just how important forgiveness is.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Did It Again

The truth is, I was planning on having a salad for lunch yesterday. Made it, was just about to dress it when the phone rang. I answered it. My husband asked me if I'd like to have lunch with him. And his mom. Oh yeah, baby.

 We decided to try the new sushi place (that's right, if you read my post a few weeks back, then you know there are now two sushi places spitting distance from each other!), a sit-down affair that's very elegant. 

Even though I said yes, I was planning to go there today with a friend of mine, so I couldn't wait to try the lunch special and tell her all about it. Maybe I was just really hungry, or maybe the food was that good, but I finished my sushi, mixed salad, miso soup, tempura and cucumber salad before anyone else. My mother-in-law felt bad so she offered portions of her lunch. I declined, telling her I first wanted to eat the plastic tray.

I think I was so hungry because I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes this morning. Worked up an appetite. Add that to the food being quite tasty, and you end up with me nearly downing the silverware. 

Reminds me, I better eat a snack before I lunch with my friend today. Just in case.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Horror

Last night, don't ask me why, I watched the movie "McLintock!" on Netflix. I know some people don't like him, but I've always enjoyed John Wayne. His acting may not be that amazing, but his movies are often a lot of fun.

I was overwhelmed at the number of character actors I could identify - this movie was released in 1963 and everyone making Westerns was in it. First and foremost, Maureen O'Hara. What a beautiful woman, and she and the Duke made an excellent, and believable couple.

Besides sugar coating life in the West (Wayne protecting the Indians, the Jewish grocer called "Uncle", the Chinese cook, etc.), I guess the part that I found most appalling was the sugar coating of spouse abuse. I mean, nearly everyone in town wanted Wayne to slap his wayward wife (O'Hara) around, and after he did spank her, everything between them was rosy and fine.

Oy vey, 1963 must have been a hundred years ago. I was disappointed. The silly movie was going along great until he beat his wife, and she liked it. Talk about weird.

Just goes to show you, when the opportunity to sleep at 11:30 pm knocks at your door, take it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Getting Married

Last night I attended a "Shidduch Network" meeting, shidduch meaning arranged dating. I know it was wrong but I tried to pawn my two eldest off on anyone who would listen, which wasn't anyone. I probably have to work on my technique.

The guest speaker was fascinating, discussing the proper ins and outs of dating. It's far more formal than I even imagined. All those women in my community (yes, I mean women - don't believe any husbands are stressing out about this) have worked so hard to get their children married to other religious children. I know it sounds strange, but the girls are usually at least 18 and the boys can range from 22 to 26 when the process begins. I'm just amazed.

Afterwards, I told my 16-year old about the meeting and before I could get into details, he raised his hand and said no way, he was choosing his own wife. Well, that isn't how it's done, initially. Yes, he will choose her, but I get to choose who he chooses.

Yikes. I don't think I'm ready for this. Thank G-d my first five are boys. They marry later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Friends Aren't Friends

In truth, I'm not the friendliest person around. I have hand-picked a few people that I really like and tend to stay close to them. But once you are my friend, I am very loyal, and stand by you through thick and thin.

Sometimes I make a mistake in choosing that person. I knew deep down that one person I let get close had some issues - but nothing had been done to me so I chose to give this person the benefit of the doubt. That was a mistake.

The same quality I have about loyalty goes the opposite direction as well. Once spurned, I don't forgive. It's just part of my nature. I'm not terribly proud of it, but I feel everyone gets one chance to piss me off, and depending on the gravity of the situation, we either remain friends or not.

Mind you, I have plenty of friends who I've fought with and remained close to. Being my friend doesn't mean agreeing with me. It means respecting me and treating me with respect. It's what I give in return.

So when someone comes along after many years of friendship and disrespects me, then I can't be friends with them anymore. It means I can't talk to them anymore. It means I can't trust them anymore.

Inhale. Exhale. Put one foot in front of the other and move forward. The sun will still shine. Night will follow day. It's all good.

Shout Out


I just want to give a shout out to my latest follower: welcome Munster. Great to have you on board (along with Mommy and Daddy). Me thinks this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spending Saturday Night

A dear friend of mine is in need of a loan to buy a car. It was suggested to her that she ask a wealthy local man who allows people to line up outside his door sundown on Saturday to request a donation. The place was mobbed.

We stood outside his home for about 15 minutes before being let inside to stand in the hall. Men and women were crowded together. It was so humiliating to be there, and I had to stop myself from convincing my friend to leave.

It took about an hour before it was our turn to beg for money. And my friend wasn't asking for a handout, just a loan. But she didn't get it - all she walked away with was one third of what she needed, with the promise to repay.

I left convinced that if I ever needed money that bad, I'd rob a bank.

Catching My Breath

Even though I should sleep in late, I can't. There's no way I can sit still. I've got tons of things to do: my thesis, prepare for my next internship, take my Diet Tech exam. It's not like resting for long is an option.

I have this silly dry erase board that I bought two years ago when I was in the throes of biochem. I used it to draw amino acid structures (don't I sound smart!) because my professor said we needed to know them.

We didn't, and all that drawing (and black ink on my hand) was kinda a waste. Now I use the board to plan out my day. I write down everything I need to do and usually actually do them. In fact, it reminds of all the things I need to do but forgot to write down and I do those as well.

It's raining here now, a light, California rain that makes you want to stay home but if you have to leave the house it's okay. The car, with you inside, won't be washed downstream of the local supermarket. It's tough being spoiled, but all we get here in Los Angeles is a little wet.

So I stayed home and worked on my stuff, shared some funny videos with my two eldest when they finally woke up this afternoon, and then ventured out for carpool. What a delightful day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Taking The Call

I was at a beautiful wedding last night, surrounded by dear friends, laughing and eating and having a great time. But when I got the call, I never hesitated to answer the phone. Party or no party, when my dear friend M calls, she needs me.

When I answered, there was just the usual talking and party noise in the background. M asked if I was shopping (oh yeah, please!) but no, I told her I was at a wedding. Just then the music started. M offered to call back tomorrow, but I said no. Anyone calling my at 9:30 pm had something to say and I wanted to hear it.

Things for M had gotten difficult in one of her college courses, and she needed my advice. The professor had gone arbitrary on her - changing the grading scale for the worse. More people would fail than before, and there wasn't even a clue as to why this was happening.

We talked about it for about 20 minutes, trying to work out a strategy to deal with the problem, and ending up with M going to her graduate adviser to see if there could be any intervention with the Dean.

I got back to the party (which somehow seemed to go on just fine without me) and danced a bit more until my ride was ready to go. Truth is, it would have to be a true emergency for me not to take a friend's call. Especially M, who is brilliant, humble and ready to take on any task to help another person. Her energy is contagious. When I'm with her, I feel 20 years younger.

So there you have it. Friendship. One of G-d's greatest gifts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Round One

Last Thursday, I finished my clinical rotation for the Registered Dietitian (RD) internship. OM gosh - talk about hard. I have often felt that my brain was fried out, that neurons had gone to their death in order that I could fill out a scan tron, but this, this internship, the first of three rotations and the only clinical one, was something completely different.

Four wonderful RDs were my preceptors, and each one had a different style of evaluating patients. Just so you know, a different style is great for clothing, but it's not so terrific if you're trying to figure out what everyone is doing and then do it yourself.

So I knew if I worked with one RD, I couldn't evaluate patients a certain way, but if I worked with another RD, that's how I was to do it. Sound like fun? Sound educational? Sound serial-killer?

But I survived. It's like most things: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I actually hate that saying, but use it a lot because it's true. If you walk away from the challenge intact, you are a different person.

One day, all those styles will prove truly helpful in determining my own way to evaluate patients. Right now, it's kinda all mish-mashed in my head. Right now, time for some serious down-time. The worst, I believe, is over.

Now on to writing my thesis. Whoopee!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black As Midnight

I said last year I would never do it again and I did it. I experienced another Black Friday and remembered why I hated it so much.

Only this time, it was worse. Instead of showing up at the mall at 5:30 am, I stood outside, in the cold, at Target, for 30 minutes at midnight. Boy, that place was really busy.

First mistake: buying a Starbuck's coffee and then drinking it. That was the 4th cup I had that day, and even though midnight is considered the next day, it really isn't. I felt nauseous.

But it get gets worse. One of my boys has been asking for a Kindle forever, which is slang for a long time. Target was offering $50 off the one with a keyboard and that was enough for me to stay awake. I had no idea that waiting outside Target for 30 minutes until the doors opened was going to be the high point of my day.

First step: get into the store and ask a salesperson in electronics to put a kindle aside for you, with your name on it via post-it note. Step 2: Stand in another line to buy it. Luckily I was surrounded by very passive and friendly people. They helped me maintain my grouchiness to a minimum. I was also lucky to have another son with me, the one I refer to as "the shopper."

Frankly, that boy is channeling my mother, may she rest in peace. Nobody shopped like her. We took turns waiting in line and shopping the rest of the store. Nearly 2 hours later, when we got to the cashier, we learned that all the other stuff we had accumulated over that time had to be purchased at the regular check-out line. Okay, time to kill people.

But my shopper son kept me calm and we breezed through check-out line #2 and got home at 2:45 am. Slept in this morning until 7:30 am, and leaped out of bed because I have two kids going to school today, both of which were late.

I'm thinking of getting t-shirts made for next year's shoppers that says: My parents shopped Black Friday and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Selling those might offset my own personal balance of trade.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Crying Again

It's Thanksgiving morning here in Los Angeles, and I finally rolled out of bed to get some breakfast and catch up on the world. The following story made my day and made me cry.

It's the feel good story of the day. G-d bless the world!!!

Florida runners donate medals, trophy to disqualified foes

In one of the more generous incidents in recent prep sports memory, a Florida girls cross country team voluntarily gave up their runners-up medals and trophy to a school which they felt deserved them more, and they did so entirely of their own volition, without any influence of a coach or other adult.

On Monday, Prep Rally wrote about the Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage School girls cross country team, which was knocked out of what was eventually determined to be a second place finish at the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A state cross country meet because of a bizarre mix up with the timing chips on the shoes of two team members.

Those mismatched timing chips -- which are used to ensure that a runner follows the correct course and crosses the finish line and all check points -- dropped American Heritage down to a fifth place finish, even though the team felt it should have finished much higher. As it turns out, the American Heritage runners weren't alone in that sentiment, with the school that did finish in second place going to extreme lengths to let their opponents know that how they felt about American Heritage's performance.

As reported by Jacksonville's FirstCoastNews.com, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles School girls cross country team, which was bumped up from third place to second in the Class 2A meet by the American Heritage disqualifications, voluntarily decided to give their runners-up medals and trophy to the team they felt should rightfully have finished there.

According to Bolles senior runner Micayla Costa, there was no debate among the Bolles team about what to do because they all knew that the American Heritage runners deserved the honor more than they did. In fact, the team had already gathered and decided to hand over their medals and trophy before Bolles cross country coach Tony Ryan could speak to them about it.

"We huddled up in a group to talk about it," Costa told FirstCoastNews. "The team decided not to keep the trophy, the medals and the runner-up title."

That meant a quick turnaround from the medal stand, where the Bolles girls had stood on the runners-up platform next to newly crowned 2A champion Miami (Fla.) Carrollton School, to a nearby huddle where the American Heritage squad was still in a state of shock over its sudden fall.

Without letting them know what they planned to do, the Bolles team members walked over to American Heritage runners and presented them with the second place medals. As one might expect, the reaction was emotional.

"I took off my medal and I gave it to [an American Heritage runner]," Bolles sophomore Lily Arnold told FirstCoastNews. "And once I put it around her neck, she started to cry."

While American Heritage's runners were the most obvious beneficiaries of the Bolles squad's immense generosity, runners from the Jacksonville school insist that they took as much away from the experience as they would have from a state title. That's saying something for a school which has a multitude of cross country and track titles to its name.

"This was worth so much more than a state championship," Arnold told FirstCoastNews.

The original story ran here: http://rivals.yahoo.com/highschool/blog/prep_rally/post/Florida-runners-donate-medals-trophy-to-disqual?urn=highschool-wp9079.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cutest Picture Ever

I'm sorry. I saw this on another blog and just had to share it. The picture is so cute!!! Enjoy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taking Time

Time has been on my mind a lot lately. First, where I'm interning now, we use a 24-hour clock, or military time, when writing notes in patient files. Since my Timex indigo light decided on its own to cease functioning, I though it would be a good time to drag out my old (as in vintage) Casio watch and get a new band.

After all, Casio states that all its watches feature 12/24 hour time. I must have pushed every button, including all three simultaneously, to get that 24 hour clock. Nothing doing. Called Casio to find out that my watch does not offer this feature. Oh joy.

With daylight savings time, Shabbat comes in very early. My daughter and I light the candles at 4:30 pm, and by 5:30 pm I'm snoring away. I mean, 5:30 pm! Every other day of the week I'm just coming home at 5:30 pm.

Every Shabbat I read the entire book of Tehillim for the complete recovery of my brother, Hershel Yaakov ben Masha. It takes me a little over 3 hours, and before daylight savings time, I could start at about 3 pm and finish up by 6 pm. Well, with Shabbat over at 5:30 pm, I find myself rushing to get the book done. Old habits die hard and I have to get with the program.

Time - what a concept. Frankly, it's time for Moshiach right now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sushi Madness

Just when I thought it was safe to leave my house and walk around the block, a brand new, kosher sushi restaurant opened. In my never ending desire to loose weight, I thought I could give up sushi. Things were looking good. Until now.

I think sushi is a great idea. Rice, fish and vegetables in one little roll that can be popped in the mouth and easily chewed up. But when I think of all the ingredients as a whole, the calories become daunting. Rice vinegar, mayo, and rice itself, kinda makes the meal a tad bit calorie dense.

Try 129 calories for two pieces of California roll. I had eight pieces today alone. Oy vey.

But the truth is, a dear friend and I sat down and each had an order of sushi. We talked, got our stress out and laughed. Gotta burn calories doing all that, right?

Maybe I should go for a walk.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Longest Day

I may moan and complain about it, but I really do like riding the bus. Especially when I'm days behind in my Tehillim reading. What I can do without is the requisite crazy black man and a subway so crowded I could not breathe.

When I ride the bus to my intern site, I have to leave the house by 5 am. Even daylight saving time has no effect on 5 am. Since this is the first day since the time change that I rode the bus so early, I was amazed to find that near journey's end, I got a chance to watch the sunrise.

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? But it wasn't. It was blinding. So I fumbled around in my purse to find my sunglasses in time to get off at my stop. The weather was mild, I was wearing serious layers, and I couldn't be happier.

Truth is, I could have been happier. Sleeping in bed. But alas, that was not meant to be. The journey home took as long, the first leg of which had two rather piggish young ladies sitting right behind me downing McDonald's and licking their lips for 20 minutes. I actually got nauseous.

The next leg of the trip involved the Blue Line, a wonderful above ground train that I really enjoy. But by that time it was pitch dark. I lamented having to ride the train both ways in the dark because it's the only train I ride where I actually get a view of the city.

The Blue Line meets the Red Line, and at 5:45 pm it's pretty crowded. Today was an exception: it was really really crowded. I chose to get off at a closer stop because I could not breathe. That choice put me in contact with the crazy black guy.

Talk about hysterical. He was higher than a kite, and laughing real loud, whopping it up. The driver had to tell him to be quiet over and over again, and since he wanted to go in the other direction anyway, she kept telling him to get out. But he was sweet, and he was funny, and it was the perfect way to end, at that time, a 13-hour day.

The longest day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cleaning Up

Finally, a day off from the internship. Time to take a deep breath, relax, sleep in, enjoy the quiet. But no, I got up early and cleaned my house. I'm an idiot.

In truth, my house hasn't been really clean since Passover, when I hired a crew to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. To give you an idea, that took two people ALL DAY to do. Not proud of that fact, but trying to be honest here.

While the work at the hospital is screaming hard, I love it. I love the staff there (okay, one gal needs a little tweaking but I'm giving her slack for being a stranger in a strange land), and I hope they like me. They have been, for the most part, very supportive. They've sent me off to evaluate patients on my own, and that means interviewing the patients as well. I've had a lot of practice with Spanish lately.

Only five more weeks of this, and then it's on to food service. I wish I could continue with clinical, even though the hours are killing me. Either I leave my home at 5 am or 6:30 am each day (riding the bus or taking the car), and I'm not getting enough sleep. That is, unfortunately, affecting my ability to remember things. Like where I parked the car.

For now, I will relax into Shabbat, finishing an assignment for my internship class, hopefully catching up on my Tehillim. The beauty of taking the bus (which takes 2 hours) is that I can sit and read Tehillim to my heart's content. It's just trying to stay awake for the rest of the day that's the problem.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

He Did It Again

While not born here, I consider myself a California girl. I'm used to the laid back, mellow way we Los Angelenos go about our lives. Until El Presidente comes into town. Again.

Like the hysterics I went through the last time (last month) he visited wasn't enough. And that was when only one major thoroughfare was closed with almost no impact on me at all. This time, Obama was in my own backyard, and for me, and thousands of others, getting home was a nightmare.

Okay, it wasn't a real nightmare, just a colossal pain in the butt. Just yesterday, Obama came to Hancock Park, a fairly well-to-do neighborhood just a few blocks from my home. If my husband hadn't texted me in the morning to beware, I would never have known. Until I got to my bus stop, that is.

So I chose to be safer than sorrier but ended up with a long wait anyway. But at least on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, there's plenty of entertainment, intentional or not.

By far the best of the best was the rasta drummer on commercial size Kikkoman containers (empty that is) and the rhythm, a sure headache causer, certainly helped make the time appear to pass faster. Then three black girls, one more plump than the other, began to dance and they were terrific. Really agile for their weight and we couldn't help but clap for them, although in the back of my mind I was thinking what a great time for a pickpocket.

When the allegedly detoured bus showed up (30 minutes later), it was packed, and continued to get even more packed until it was suffocating. The driver kept announcing that the bus would detour at 3rd Street, and then the panic began. Although my Spanish isn't what it should be, I could understand the frantic attempts by passengers to figure out another way home.

All the streets around my house were mobbed with cars similarly detoured. I sure hope Obama got what he wanted ($), because the rest of us did not - a little peace and quiet after a long day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seeing Good Friends

It's been a while since I've posted but I've thought a lot about what I would say. So here's a few musings about life this past week.

First, the holidays are crushing. There's so much food and so much prayer, a person can really have an out-of-body experience.

No matter how long I experienced being out of my body, I managed to get back in on time for every meal. Talk about messed up.

However, today is Chol HaMoed, and I finally got the chance to see my two dearest friends: M & M. What a wonderful day. In fact, I was so relaxed I started to get nervous that I was missing out on studying.

Truth is, I so missed school and my friends. I wanted to compare notes and talk to somebody, anybody who was sharing my experiences as an intern. Actually, no one really shares your exact experience. No one I talked to got mistaken for a doctor (twice)!!

I look forward to the time when everyday can be this wonderful. I image this is what it's like when Moshiach comes. I don't mind leaving my body to pray for that.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Breaking It With Bubbie

Yom Kippur was the drag I thought it would be, only somehow, with all my friends nearby, bearable. Especially the young visitor who sat in front of me who reeked of perfume - all because a bottle of the stuff opened up in her suitcase and saturated all her clothes.

On Yom Kippur, we don't wear perfume, or eat any food. It's not so bad when you're sleeping, but when you're awake, it's kinda annoying. The lack of food, that is. Although perfume would be nice.

The six hours of prayer consists primarily of confessions - for things you did, might have done, could have done, and probably really did do if they weren't phrased so awkwardly. It was actually an uplifting experience to confess. It really is good for the soul.

But true to form, I started to lose it around the 5th Al Chait (confessional). I started laughing, having overheard a completely ridiculous conversation from someone else's Bubbie behind me. (I probably shouldn't say what I heard so soon after Yom Kippur - it will take another year before I can make it up!) People noticed, people commented. But I couldn't help it. The day was just too long.

But as the shadows crept across the windows, it was getting to be that time again. Eating time. Each year for as far back as I remember, we've broken the fast at my mother-in-law's house. This year was no exception.

And we were not disappointed. White fish, lox, bagels, cream cheese, home-made blintzes, fruit, macaroni and cheese. Yeah, we ate good. In the company of family. Thank you G-d, and thank you Bubbie. I will be sleeping really well tonight.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just A Few Words

I have been on overwhelm since my internship started. There's so much to know, and so much frustration at not knowing it all. I'm like a child in a candy store. I want it all.

I have to develop patience, and a really good memory. Instantly. Otherwise I am gonna explode.

So forgive me, dear readers, who take the time to check in. I am checked out. And certainly not very joyful at the approaching Jewish holiday: Yom Kippur. Like I don't have enough to worry about.

Pray for me, dear ones, that I somehow manage to overcome my village idiot demeanor and persevere. After all, I have only 24 more days left to this rotation and then a three week break. I might just pull this off.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Making This Fast

I keep telling myself that I need to lose weight (and I do), and have tried to reduce my caloric intake. Then along comes Rosh HaShanah, a two-day long eating fest, which then rolls over into Shabbat, and there you have it. Basically, the tools to undermine any diet regime.

So I looked forward to today's fast day, Tzom Gedaliah, an homage to the last decent governor of Judea during Babylonian rule who was assassinated by outside instigators intent on disrupting the calm that existed then. It worked.

To commemorate this brave man who refused to hide when warned of his guests bad intentions, Jews fast. It's like a gift so soon for the food-letting that tends to mark our holidays. Or so I thought.

I woke up at 5:15 am this morning, just 15 minutes before fast began, thinking maybe I can choke something down. I couldn't bring myself to eat any food. Maybe it was too early, maybe it was took dark outside. Who knows - it felt great to climb back into bed.

So here I sit, no food or water for hours, and all I can do is dream of the past few days. The bread, the cake, the other food. Thank you Gedaliah for being true to yourself. Now I have have to be true to myself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fearing the Fear Itself

I can't remember who it was who mentioned it first, but if it wasn't for them, I would be clueless as to what is going on around me. I referring to the fact that President Obama is coming to my town today.

I know that there are people around the country and throughout the world who would be thrilled at the thought of their president coming to visit. That's not really the feeling here in Los Angeles.

I mean, traffic is bad enough, and when El Presidente shows up (this is not his first trip here), it practically comes to a standstill. So when I got wind of the President's visit, I panicked. Especially when I realized he was going to be less than a mile from my house.

You see, I had carpool today, and rumor had it that the main street I need to cross to get there was being shut down. It took the clerk at the bakery and a fellow shopper to calm me down. These strangers started giving me advice on how to travel, but more importantly, how not to worry. They made me believe I could make it.

To play to safe, I left early for carpool. When I came upon the street that was rumored to be closed, I began to shake. But I passed right through it. I thanked G-d and got to the school early in the hopes of taking the girls early.

Now for the trip back. Sailed right through the street again. I felt like crying. I had made it. The bakery people were right. Or wrong. Maybe they weren't going to close that street. Maybe I just panicked for nothing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walking the Walk

My internship mentor and I left our homes early this morning to attend the American Dietetic Association's annual convention in San Diego. M drove and we made remarkable time. It seemed like we traveled 200 miles in the blink of an eye.

But we were not quite prepared with what awaited us. We entered San Diego's convention center, got our registration tags and there, before our eyes, lie thousands of vendors and miles of aisles. It was overwhelming.

It took us 5 hours to walk the walk, with a brief interlude for a lecture. OMgosh, there was so much food and so many pens - and we barely ate anything. The beauty of walking the walk with another person who keeps kosher is that we both looked for the right symbols. Occasionally we found what we were looking for. Most of the time, we were just impressed with the offer.

By closing time, we were beat. Tired, exhausted, wiped out. We had literally walked miles, meeting people, learning about products and services. I couldn't wait to start the journey home. I had decided not to stay another day but to go home by train.

I got on the train before all the people who had attended a sporting event did - it was standing room only by the second stop. I enjoyed the comfort of a seat, peace and quiet (courtesy of my MP3 player) and actually got some work done.

Thank you M, for a great day and help with filling three canvas bags worth of booty. Sorting it all out will probably take longer then amassing it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Day Is Done

Today was the first day of my internship. I knew it would be an orientation day, but I hate the unknown and until the day was done, it was unknown. Hence, my relief when it was over.

The good thing about the hospital I'm in is that the dietetic staff provided me with a calendar of what to expect. I have assignments, presentations, and a whole lot of learning to do over the next 29 days.

Once again, I survived. I made it through the day, and didn't compromise myself. Usually I don't talk about why I bring my own lunch, or why I won't be joining the staff in the cafeteria. Today, I let it be known that I cannot eat food in the cafeteria. I can sit with the staff and drink coffee, but not eat food. It would, G-d forbid, give the impression that I bought my food from an non-kosher source.

And the staff was fine with that. And I'm fine with the staff. I ask that G-d protect me, give me strength and help me succeed. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seeing And Staying With An Old Friend

It was wonderful to see an old friend in San Diego yesterday. Even if it meant sitting in the train station, at dusk, for 30 minutes before she came to fetch me.

It appears her phone doesn't ring, which makes calling her difficult. When I couldn't get through, I had to call a mutual friend in Los Angeles for alternate numbers. During the wait, I caught a glimpse of the Muslim taxi drivers praying on rugs outside the train station. Don't get to see that up close that often, if at all. Seems the Muslim population of San Diego is growing.

What a relief when she finally showed up. At first I was a little mad, but no one can stay mad at her for long. She is sweet to the core. We grabbed a bit to eat, and then sat up for a few hours catching up with each other.

Despite the odds against it, she dropped me off nearly on time this morning to my volunteer site (see previous post). I'm home now, able to relax and breathe before my internship begins tomorrow morning. Seeing and staying with an old friend is apparently a good way to get ready for any trial to come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Doing The Right Thing

Sometimes we get caught up in our lives and can't see the big picture. I have been stressed out recently, and found myself sitting at my computer working on a project due today. Or so I thought.

As I sat there, I checked my email and realized that a friend was sitting shiva (in mourning) for the recent death of her mother. As things stood then, if I didn't get up and go pay a shiva call right then and there, I would have missed the opportunity to do this great mitzvah.

It was 8:30 pm and the shiva sitting ended at 9 pm. I looked at my computer and thought to myself: Israel and the Jewish people are in such a perilous state, GET UP and do a mitzvah!

I jumped up, grabbed my purse and ran out of the house. I got there in time to join two other friends comforting our mutual friend. Of course I stayed until 9:30 pm and got home 15 minutes later to a text message from a son who needed to be picked up from the airport.

It's all good, I told myself. I let my eldest drive, number 3 rode shotgun and I sat in the backseat. We had a really good time there and back, including a message from my project leader saying we couldn't meet today. As I am on my way to S. Diego today, I bought my ticket for 4 pm, which would have been after the meeting. So here I sit, waiting for 4 pm.

I can't imagine what would have happened if I decided to give up the shiva call to work on the project. I don't think I could have lived with giving up the mitzvah for nothing.

Lesson learned: follow your gut. Do the right thing. Regardless.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It Must Be Me

I went to a beautiful wedding last night. The bride was gorgeous, the groom was handsome, and everyone was happy. This young lady is quite accomplished, and it took her a while to find the right man. Her mother, a friend and my daughter's English teacher last year, looked at me all smiles and said "we did it!"

After the chupah (ceremony), the crowd went back inside for the meal. We polished off the salad with lively conversation and waited for the bride and groom to finish picture taking. It seemed to be taking a while, but we relaxed, noting that the parents were back and that's a good sign.

An hour later, with no further courses being served, the couple came into the room. Sorry, it was 9:00 pm, my bedtime, or at least the time I like to snuggle in bed and either read a book or watch a movie. I danced a little, then raced out. I had been there since 6 pm.

It must be me. I am so anxious about the internship starting, and my life finally getting in order that I can't seem to settle down. It didn't' help that the generator light came on in my car yesterday and I practically starting crying.

It's that control thing again. I like to be in control. I have no money, but I'm thinking of buying a new car just to make sure I get to my internship on time. Is that crazy? Okay, the bus/subway takes 2 hours, but it's only 10 weeks. After that, I'll be some place closer to home.

I need to relax. Going to San Diego tomorrow to volunteer for the upcoming American Dietetic Association conference this coming weekend. I give them 8 hours, they give me free admission. I'm taking the Surfliner train down, which should give me a good 2.5 hours to relax. The view is amazing - it's runs a good part by the beach.

Okay, every once in a while I have to stop myself and say, "it's gonna be okay. I can do this." Thank you to all my dearest friends and family who have been saying this all along.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Planning The Trip

I may have mentioned this before, but I hate surprises. That's why I read the end of novels so I don't have to wait to find out what happens. Yes, I continue to read the book, and actually enjoy it much better.

So today I decided to use two different paths of public transportation to access my internship site. In other words, I got up at 4:45 am, showered, choked down food, filled up a thermos with coffee and set off, in the pitch black, to wait at a bus stop for a trip to Downey Regional Medical Center.

Oy vey. I decided to take the subways going there, and that was very fast (listen, it takes two hours to get there, but at least on the subway it seems faster). The last leg, or the last 35 minutes, was overland by bus. I paid close attention to the street names for future reference.

Leaving at 5:40 am from the bus stop put me at the hospital where I will intern at exactly the right time: 7:30 am. I don't want to be on time; I want to be early.

Coming home, I tried the bus only route. OMG, I didn't even know this part of the city existed. It took forever, which means 2 hours. Don't ask. Sitting in two places (two different buses) for two hours is a lot different than four places in two hours.

I know. I'm not making any sense. I almost fell asleep on the bus, but willed myself awake in fear I would miss the bus stop. I'm so tired right now I could curl up and snooze, but I won't. I left the house at 5:40 am but got home at 10 am. The day is young, even if I'm not.

While it is pointless to do so, I worry it will rain. That will make traveling public transportation miserable. Some stops have no protection from the elements, especially screaming rain soaking you even with an umbrella.

Okay, I'm going to take a nap. Hope to be coherent soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spending Time With My Kids

While I'm not proud to admit it, I don't spend a lot of time with my children. Either I'm studying, working, computing, or preparing for all the above. Really puts a crimp in relationships.

Today was completely different. After a good workout (400 calories, 40 minutes), a lunch shared, literally, with a dear friend, I drove one of my sons to the airport. He had to catch a 4:30 pm flight to New York, so we spent a good 30 minutes driving to LAX and talking about things.

When we got to the airport, there was a tremendous amount of police activity. But that was on the way out. On the way in, there's a "random" checkpoint, which I always get waved into when I'm driving the big Dodge Ram 250 van. Today was no exception.

After we rolled down the window on my son's side, the police officers, dressed like black ops, leaned in the van and told us it was a random stop. Don't ask me why, but I told him it wasn't, that I always get stopped in the van, and go ahead and check it out. Which they did - opened all the doors, looked under the seats, used a mirror to check underneath the van itself.

Then the officer asked me where I got the airplane seats in the back. When we bought our van, it was a used 8-seat commuter for the General Electric Company. That was definitely not enough for us, so our options were to either buy a bench seat ($500) or two used airplane seats ($100). We went the cheap route, and 10 years later they are still the most popular seats in the van.

After I dropped my son off at his airline, I spent the next 40 minutes in the parking lot we call the I-405 freeway. When I got home, I had a few minutes to spare before loading my other three kids in the van and heading out for dinner: kosher Subway with coupons.

Everybody got what they wanted, and it was an inexpensive treat. Afterwards, we all went to the library to check out books for the weekend. Thursday turned into family night, minus a few. It felt so good to all be together, like old times. Or the times before I decided to go back to school.

I'm gonna sleep great tonight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coincidence?

When I got off the bus today at school, a young woman came up behind me and tried to read the tag name on the clasp of my hamsa. She couldn't get the Hebrew script, so I turned the tag over and let her read the English.

We talked a bit about Israeli jewelry and how much we love it. She then mentioned that tomorrow is the last day to sign up for a Birth Right trip this winter and spring. I was amazed. My eldest sons had just mentioned how they wanted to go on a Birth Right trip this winter, and I assumed they had their bases covered.

Of course, it's an assumption that comes from I don't know where, considering teenagers in general, and my boys in particular, don't seem to ever think farther ahead than their next meal.

So I'll just chalk this up to another message from the Holy One, inspiring me to inspire my boys to get going on the applications. Don't you just love it?!

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Control

I'll speak for myself here, but I'm sure most people would agree. We like to be able to control some, or even just part of our lives. That's why we have "Things To Do" lists. Makes us feel good about ourselves.

I had just such a mental list this morning. Got dressed for the gym, grabbed my big Tehillim, and decided to make three stops before going to work out.

First stop, the doctor's office to pick up my medical form for the dietetic internship. My doctor is so sweet, just told me to drop by anytime and pick it up. So I did. Then the staff told me to check in first, and when it was all over, it took 30 minutes to just "drop by" and pick it up.

Then to the library to return videos and books checked out. If I had only been there 15 minutes earlier, I would not have been assessed $12 in fines for the movies, due Saturday. Yeah.

The highlight of the morning came when I went to renew my bus pass (see previous posts) and I was 3rd in line! How happy that experience was.

Got to the gym at 10:50 am (my quest began at 9 am) and spent a few minutes talking shop with a fellow senior. My phone rang, but I was too engaged to pick it up. When I checked the message a few minutes later, I learned that my son had thrown up and needed to be picked up from school.

After that, I went home, found a great parking spot, and here I am. Just goes to show you, the more you think you've nailed it, the more you miss it. Thank you G-d, for reminding me just who the Boss is.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

At The End of a Rope

It's true - we only hurt the ones we love. But I feel truly like my life is a soap opera. Hate to be a drama queen but I'm at the end of my rope.

I haven't been able to shake this sore throat, I'm stressed about the internship starting in 11 days, have a home filled with anger management issues and wish more than anything I was a member of the Brady Bunch.

I've learned long ago to discount it when people appear happy. One never knows what lives behind the facade. So jealously is not my issue. But couldn't I have a moment when we could all get along?

I look around the world and realize, I have no problems. The only problem is, everybody's got problems.

Sigh!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dreaming of Riches

I know it's a bad idea to spend the money you've earned before you actually get it, but I can't help myself. I worked at the homeless shelter this summer and was promised a check this past week. What I got in the mail was a request to fill out a W-9 form for income taxes.

Oh boy,am I disappointed! I mean, I could have filled that thing out when I filled out the other paperwork that allowed me to work there. So now I'm mad, grumpy, hungry, and pissed all at once.

Of course, I could take the high road and say it's all part of the plan G-d has for me. That, and a little piece of chocolate is gonna go a long way!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wish They All Could Be Californians

People who aren't from California look upon those of us who are as different. And we are. In a really good way.

I came to realize that today when I was talking to a dear friend over a plate of Israeli salads at the local kosher hole-in-the-wall. She told me about what happened to her in Israel, as an Israeli, trying to get married to another Israeli. Kinda scary and pathetic.

No only was the Rabbinate secretary not helpful, but she was downright mean-spirited. Instead of helping my friend, she tried to drive her away, until my friend, with one week to go before the planned wedding, was reduced to tears and started really bawling.

We began our conversation about the topic of confrontation, and how in Israel, confrontation is how people communicate. Which really puts Los Angelenos at a disadvantage because we say we're sorry when we're being mugged. For the most part, we thrive on courtesy here.

I told my friend about my trip to New York in 2002 to visit my boys in an upstate camp. Oh my gosh, people were so rude. I don't mean the people walking around, I mean the people who work in the public sector. Frankly, after that visit, I came to the conclusion the Trade Center was destroyed not because the Jihadis hate America, but because they hate New Yorkers.

The truth is, Californians are different than most other people. They are more service oriented, aim to help out. We're a good bunch. Yep, I wish the world could all be Californians.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh Happy Day?

I hate to be over dramatic, but today really was too much. To paraphrase someone else, it was always something.

It started out well enough. I went to Kaiser to do my lab work in advance of a physical exam on Thursday. Came home, ate breakfast, showered, and took my eldest to school to settle the tuition bill. We stopped off at the Metro office to renew my bus pass, but the line was unbelievable and if we stayed, he'd miss class.

We went to his school instead, a wise choice, since we settled the bill and my son got to class on time. I decided to try the Metro office again, in the hopes of getting the renewal. After all, the day was young and I had time to spare.

OMGosh, the line was twice as long and only one clerk was working. It took 45 minutes for me to move 20 feet - I knew it would take another hour and a half to get to that window. I called my Congresswoman's office for some intervention, but her staff said no. This is a county issue, and she's federal. I gave up, threw in the towel, wished my fellow line standers good luck. We're talking high school kids and a young girl on disability.

I walked out of there pretty upset. Got home, ate lunch, called my city councilman's office, whose staff promised to call the Metro main office, but they too, told me this is a county issue. I called my county representative, who's staff really got bothered by what I told him and also promised to call the Metro office.

But that's not all. My youngest son came home from school with his hand still swollen from a bee sting the other day; my middle son MADE me take him shopping after dinner for pants, and there's algae growing in the water cooler, the only source of cold water in the house. Add to that my lab results for my fasting glucose test is borderline pre-diabetes. Oy vey.

Other than all that, I can't complain.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Taking A Hike

I've been sitting around a lot lately, working on several projects that require computer time.  I have a tall computer stand where I can stand up, but for these projects, I need to think things through, and sitting is the best way for me.

Since today is an American holiday, I decided to take a hike.  Not in the hills, or the valleys, but to the store.  Not just any store.  Target.

The closest one to me is about 6 blocks away.  I know - my life is a real struggle.  But for that, I took my umbrella and a purse backpack.  There were a fair number of people on the street walking around, and it felt good to be out.  And it felt good to shop.

Took my sweet time about it too, knowing that I couldn't really get very much because I was going to have to carry it home.  In the end, it wasn't the accumulation of stuff, just the getting out and walking that counted.

Topped it off with a quick trip to the 99 cent store.  Picked up just a few odds and ends I've been meaning to get and finished the rest of the walk in peace and quiet.  I am one happy lady right now.  Obviously, sitting down at my computer, once again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Postscript from Costco

When my father died somewhat unexpectedly about 10 years ago, my siblings and I were very grieved.  And then I started to notice something weird.  Everywhere I went, I saw someone who looked like my Dad.  I mean same baseball cap, jacket, jeans, glasses, gray hair.  On a few occasions I had to stop myself at the last minute from actually going up to the stranger and talking to him.

When I told my sister, she confirmed that this was happening to her as well.  We figured it was Dad's way of saying that he was alright and we shouldn't be sad anymore.  It hasn't happened in a long time.  Except for the few hours I was at Costco.

There he was - a man who looked just like my Dad.  And even more creepier, he kept staring at me.  Everywhere I went, I would see him inside the store, and we're talking about a big store.  I wonder what the message is this time?

Take Me Home

I stopped by the homeless shelter on Thursday to wrap up my 10 weeks of employment there and to say goodbye.  It was a labor of love but very work intensive. I don't have the time, or the brain matter to go anymore because I need to concentrate on other projects.

One of the things I love about the shelter is that it's right next door to Costco.  I've never been to Costco on my own, you see, and when I tried to get my husband to go with me this time, he told me to take my own card and go by myself.  Think mother bird pushing her baby out of the nest.  Think Nana out of control at the happiest place on earth.

For once I finally understood my husband - in terms of why he likes to fly solo at Costco.  It's a much more intense experience on all the senses - sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.  I just love it.  Walked up and down each aisle, thing how many calories I was burning and how much good stuff I need to figure out to fit in my house.

I went there for two things, left with about 20, which is about right.  While it's not the kind of store you can visit every day, I know I'll be back.  Thank you G-d, for giving someone else the wisdom to make that store, and me the ability to buy stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Denying Myself

While doing research for my nutrition presentations, I stumbled upon a National Institutes of Health (NIH) posting of a diet for weight loss. A grand total of 1200 calories a day will deprive your body of 1-2 pounds a week, provided you stay within that calorie count and exercise.

Oh baby, I said to myself, you can do this. Well, let's just say, in theory I can do it. It's been three days now, and I haven't quite gotten down to 1200 calories. After calculating Thursday's expenditure, I was at 1570 calories, which is great for me. Friday, being Erev Shabbat, is a hard one, but I did reduce my intake noticeably at dinner. Well, I noticed, anyway.

Shabbat I was good. Passed on the cake, candy and soda and stuck with the vegetables. However, my husband and I figured out I probably took in about 500 calories at kiddush. Breakfast was seriously light, even missed my coffee. But that was accidental, since I woke up late and had to run to shul. Dinner was cholent and a corner piece of bread at 6 pm. I was really hungry when I went to bed 7 hours later.

Today, another dear friend called and asked if I was going to the Rosh Chodesh Tehillim gathering (which I forgot about) and I said I would if she picked me up. That gathering, being Jewish, offered food. Here, however, it was in the form of a donated lunch.

There was so much cake, and the kind I love. But I choose instead 4 rice stuffed grape leaves and cole slaw - at least two handfuls. I felt a little queasy in the end, but proud I had resisted the irresistible.

So before going to my mother-in-law's for pizza, I stopped at the store to pick up some healthy breakfast cereal. I am set for mornings now. Ate a vegetable salad for dinner (okay, it was big, but by then I was really hungry!), avoiding the delicious french fries and pasta, not to mention pizza.

I pray Hashem gives me the strength to continue and actually lose weight. I'm embarrassed to say that I need to drop at least 30 pounds. I'm gonna need G-d's help indeed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Latest Dilemma

For the past 3 weeks I've been teaching nutrition at a homeless shelter not far from my home. I've enjoyed it immensely as it's given me a chance to exercise my sense of humor and learn more about my intended field of practice.

But it's been a lot of work, and required a good deal of preparation time. Not that preparing lectures is a problem. I also plan to teach nutrition when I finish my Master's degree. The problem is that my internship will be starting next month, and the homeless shelter has asked me to stay on.

It really would be a good thing to stay on. But I need to write a thesis and the internship is a solid 3 days a week, with an additional day devoted to an internship class. I am one person who needs down time, and Shabbos doesn't cut it. I need to have a day, or a solid block of hours when I can veg out. Working at the shelter, preparing my thesis-inspired educational intervention, and attending to my internship is cutting things a bit close for me.

So tonight, when I met with the shelter people for an hour, for the first time ever, people talked while I talked. I was amazed, and some of the other residents noticed as well. A sign from the Holy One, perhaps?

I left there tonight thinking that it was, and pretty much made up my mind not to renew my contract. Just to be sure, I think I'll sleep on it. I'd sure hate to act in haste, repent in leisure.

Lunching With The Ladies

It all started with my decision to take a dear friend, who recently passed the Registered Dietitian's exam, to lunch. But "doing lunch" is a bit more complicated when you keep kosher and your friend does not. Plus, I wanted something nice, for a change.

So I invited my friend to La Gondola, an upscale restaurant in part to show her how the other "kosher" half lives, and in part to get something really good to eat. Then another dear friend, recently married, came home from her honeymoon and another dear friend was in town as well. And all my dear friends, and me, know and love each other. So there you have it.

The most wonderful lunch with the most delicious food I've had in quite some time. Everyone had a great time, but none more than me. What a wonderful way to break up the day. Can't wait for the next occasion to eat this good comes along. Hope it's real soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Last Battle

Another Jewish holiday has come and gone, but this one was rather sad. It's called Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the month of Av, commemorating the destruction not once, but twice, of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

It's a day of mourning that begins at night, with a 24 hour fast. And that's really the part of hate.

Actually, I hate the whole thing. Being sad is a real bummer. I read the children the story of Tisha B'Av, which is definitely holocaust-like, and then watched several holocaust shows to reinforce the sadness.

What struck me about the story of Tisha B'Av is that the Jews in Jerusalem at that time were incredible warriors. The modern state of Israel's fighting ability is a continuation of a long tradition of really tough Jews.

Granted, the last two thousand years have somewhat tarnished the reputation, but that has certainly been put to rest. When G-d is on our side, there's really no enemy that can beat us.

That's the message from Tisha B'Av - unity. Jews need to stick together and not fight each other. We need to be sensitive to each other's feelings, and agree to disagree. A hard sell, no less, in this day and age of political correctness.

We are told the Holy Temple was destroyed because one person humiliated another person in public, in full view of the respected Rabbis at that time. Let us hope and pray that this kind of destruction never happen again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When A Friend Helps

After I proctored an exam at school today, I decided to run a few errands on campus. That's when I ran into a old classmate, Stephen. Well, he's not old, but we were in an Econ class together two years ago and made up, along with others who remain friends, a study group for that course.

Stephen is sweet and outgoing, and today he had a lot of time to kill. So he offered to come with me while I ran these errands. At first, I thought I would run those errands from home, if you know what I mean. But Stephen insisted, since he had 3.5 hours before his next class, that we get them all done now.

So I had to give up not doing my errands and got everything I needed to get done accomplished. And Stephen stayed by my side, pushing me on, insisting we walk literally around the whole campus. In spite of myself, the morning was incredibly productive.

Thank you, friend. You truly, made my day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rocking the Babymobile

Back in the 1980s, I inherited a 1971 Datsun 510 Automatic 4-door sedan. I called it the Babymobile, and I loved it. I drove it everywhere, and somehow, that car never let me down. In fact, I found a great mechanic at a shop called Two Brothers, and we kept that car going.

All good things must end, unfortunately, and the Babymobile was no exception. I wanted to fix it but my parents offered to buy me a new car only if I got rid of the Baby, so I caved. I had no money and no options. They bought me a 1990 Mazda 323, the come-on price deal for that car dealership. It was a great buy and I never looked back.

But lately, I've grown nostalgic for my Baby, and think of her often. My secret fantasy is to replace her, but I can't remember the last time I saw a 510 on the road, in this city of 10 million. Until two days ago.

I totally freaked out. Driving right next to me was a 1970s Datsun 510 station wagon, noisy as all get out, and navigated by someone who appreciated the car. I got such nachas watching that car drive off.

So I got to thinking about "The Secret." You know, the new age philosophy that if you only think about and want something bad enough, you'll get it. Well, perhaps "The Secret" is G-d, and He's telling me that there's a 510 out there for me as well. I sure hope so.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Happiness Lady

There's a very special woman in my community who is both well known and well loved. Her absence of late has made me a bit uneasy. Yes, I could have called her. Instead, I asked all our mutual friends how she is doing and was assured all was well.

But it wasn't until yesterday, Shabbos, that I realized how much I missed this very special woman. She is literally sunshine. Standing about 5 feet tall, she's a chunky nugget of kindness spreading love to all she comes near. I knew I missed her dearly. Yesterday, I learned just how much.

Welcome back, Lady M!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feeling A Bit Overwhelmed

I can't wait for next week when I get to take a break from by lab assistant's position while the class goes on a field trip. I could certainly use the down time.

Seems I've been burning the candle at both ends. I also work as a health educator at a local homeless shelter. My first lecture was Monday night and I loved it. We talked about portion sizes and exercise. Everyone participated, and shared their concerns.

Today, I met with a client at the homeless shelter and was under the mistaken impression he was suffering from acute renal failure. The good news is he's not, the bad news is he has a host of other problems. But without reading up on his current conditions, all I could do was take a 24-hour food recall and asked questions regarding food access. We schmoozed a while longer, called it a morning and walked together to the bus stop.

Afterwards, I presented to a group on the topic of Vitamin D and HIV. Finished just in time to pick up my daughter from her camp bus stop. Got home, made dinner, including eating a trout my son caught at his fishing and singing camp.

Yeah, I'm worn out. Prepared my materials for tomorrow's group lecture at the homeless shelter, and plan to read up on my client's problems to help map out a strategy for nutrition success. But first, lights out tonight.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Year Older. . .

Today is my secular birthday. I say secular because as a religious Jew, I observe two birthdays. One is in the Jewish month of Av, and the other is, well, in the non-Jewish month of July. I like them both.

Usually, I emphasize my Hebrew birth date, because it has spiritual significance and on that day I give blessings to all my friends. My parents, z"l, never recognized my Jewish birthday and so whenever I think of today, I remember warmly all the wonderful birthdays of the past.

Plus, it's the day posted on my facebook account and I got lots of shout outs, which is wonderful.

What a day. One canceled doctor's appointment (I showed up, the doctor didn't), a Live Scan appointment (a Dept. of Justice review of your background, required of all health care workers), meeting with potential employers, a trip to the 99-cent store. And I'm plenty hungry.

I'm hungry because today is a fast day, the 17 of Tammuz, when the Babylonians and the Romans, hundreds of years apart, began their destruction of the Jerusalem, the respective Jewish commonwealths, and the beginning of two exiles. The latter, the Roman, or 4th and last exile, is where we are today.

But not for long. The final redemption is long overdue.