Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Little Bit of Heaven

A few months back I went to the eye doctor, who suggested I start wearing sunglasses. A purist, I always felt wearing sunglasses would ruin your eyes, not help them. But age, and the threat of cataracts, has changed that point of view.

I personally own three pairs of glasses - insurance against misplacing any one or two pairs. It's my back up. So when I went to my eye glass store to fill the prescription, I asked if it was possible to purchase a clip-on, in the hopes of avoiding another glass case in the purse. He convinced me the cost was the same, so I went ahead a bought a pair of sunglasses. Cost: $85.

Fate brought me to the 99-cent stores a few days back. I imagine there's a 99 in Heaven, that's how much fun it is. Everything is one dollar, and there are bargains galore. Including a pair of clip-ons that fit my regular glasses perfectly. For 99 cents.

My husband tried to make me feel better by saying the sunglasses are a higher quality. Still, the clip-on was what I wanted all along. Thank you G-d, for the clip-on. And thank you for sunglasses - another backup. It's all good.

Friday, January 28, 2011

When Anonymity Doesn't Happen

Earlier this week my son in yeshiva found a wallet laying on the ground outside his school. He picked it up, got back on his bike and rode home. It was around 9:30 pm, and he was hungry.

He handed me the wallet and said, "Mom, there's $500 in there." But I didn't notice the money, just all the credit cards. I looked for some way to get in touch with this person because having been in his shoes, I knew it was a matter of time before he cancelled everything. And what a pain that would be.

So we called his gym (not his anymore), one of his banks (card was put on hold), and then we googled him. Hello, right there, on the net, was his email address. I sent him a message. gave him our home phone, and told him his wallet had five bills still in it.

He called back within 15 minutes, and we passed off the wallet. All done. The next day, he wrote me a thank you email, to which I replied "thank you for the mitzvah. Play it forward."

Glad it was over and behind me. But it wasn't exactly behind me. Got a call yesterday from a friend in the community asking for my address. Then she told me the story. A young woman she and her husband have been trying to bring closer to Judaism called her in an excited state. Her trainer (guess who) just told her a miracle story - how a family of Jews had given him back his wallet intact. Then he asked her what a mitzvah was.

Way to go G-d. Bringing this young lady to Judaism just got a whole lot easier. As my oldest would say, "Rock on!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

When The Going Gets Stressful

Not that I want to complain, but I have a lot of things on my mind. Like, the first meeting of our Jewish Club on campus and my presentation before the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health group tomorrow.

So just before the Jewish Club meeting, (ultimately attended by the Rabbi, Victoria and me), I started choking so bad I thought I would faint. A few of my alfalfa sprouts lodged where they didn't belong and, being all alone, I couldn't leave the room before someone else showed up. Wouldn't you know it, I got a migraine.

Not surprisingly, getting a migraine sets me back somewhat, and I was truly out of it for the rest of the afternoon. Thank G-d I took the bus and left the driving to someone else. Got home, crawled into bed and fell asleep. Then the kids came home. Sleeping party over.

What did I learn from all this? I have wonderful friends. People who care and were worried about me. And my husband. He cares too.

Oy vey. What a day. A poet and I didn't know it. Oh yeah.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dumping Spanish

Part of the stress in my life involves time - or lack thereof. Hello, it's incredibly time consuming to devise a master's proposal. I mean, duh. But truthfully, who knew?

So the goal is to make more time, and since I can't invent time, I will have to free up my schedule by dumping something else. So it's adios, espanol!

I guess I realized that this past week, which only increased the stress level I was feeling. Truly, I don't want to drop the class. I'm still fighting it. In the past, my friends had to convince me to do the right thing. They would walk me through all the scenarios and then help me come to conclusions.

But I'm bigger now (read: older) and I should be able to do that myself. Okay, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna drop this class.

I wish I could feel relieved. Oh well.

The Week That Was

I always feel guilty when I don't blog. It's kinda like how Anne Frank must have felt when she skipped a day in her diary. Like something left unsaid.

There's a lot left unsaid, because there has been so much stress and sadness this week. Stress from being overwhelmed with coursework, and sadness because we lost another member of our community. Just when you think it's okay to surface, another tragedy hits.

Today, there will be a funeral and a wedding, and I feel obligated to attend both. How can I be sad and then happy in one day, in one hour?

G-d is the Boss; He knows what is right and where the path we're on ends. It's frustrating walking along, sometimes slowly, sometimes with full gusto. I never felt this way before I had children - now I fear for them always.

I generally don't like to blog when I'm down, but then I'd probably not blog at all. Here's to Life - and faith and hope. I just keep having to repeat that over and over again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Oriented

A few days ago I attended a DAY LONG new employee seminar for the County of Los Angeles. Well, I'm not a employee but a volunteer, and I thought I couldn't sit another moment until this story came up.

The facilitator was trying to get the point across that we can't judge people, and we can't make people feel bad about themselves. She used as an illustration, a true story that happened to her when she sat, years ago, on the STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) Phone Hotline for the County.

It seems a man called wanting advice. He had just come back from a bachelor party out of town and while there, well, there were 25 guys and two women. By the time it was his turn, there were no more condoms, which didn't slow the party down one bit. However, when he got home, his PREGNANT wife had missed him, and wanted to be with him. But he was afraid to, because he didn't know if he had contracted an STD from the party girls.

Our storyteller then proceeded to tell us that she just could not answer him, and there was a few seconds of silence on the line. The caller assumed that she was outraged by his behavior, and proceeded to say that he would find some other way of pleasing her until he could determine whether he was infected in any way.

But the facilitator felt bad that she had made this man feel worse than he already, obviously did. And I learned a lot from this. Yes, the facilitator was momentary shocked at the admission. Yes, his behavior was outrageous. Yes, he was wrong. But he knew that, and he didn't want his behavior to affect the woman he truly loved.

I was moved by it all. In the field of public health, we sometimes have to put aside out personal feelings of outrage to reach out and help others. We have to go beyond our limitations and not judge others. This man was wrong and right at the same time. And that's life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Riding The Rails

Today was my first day back on the subway/bus and quite frankly, I was very excited. I miss mixing it up with my fellow citizens; I miss sitting back and leaving the driving to someone else. And it would have been terrific if only my bus pass worked.

I rode my bike to the red line (subway) and swiped my card. The screen flashed a screaming red message: card too low. Freak out. I got on the subway anyway and frantically searched for my receipt, the one they tell you to keep after you pay your monthly fare in case something like this happens.

Found it, and got really pissed off. I had asked the metro worker when I paid the monthly fee if she had loaded the fare on my card as I was buying passes for two cards. Yes, she said. All I could think of was, "liar!"

I used my receipt to get on the bus heading towards the main train station and the Metro office, to get to the root of the problem: incompetent workers who don't do their job.

Turned out the worker had loaded my pass, but it was my pass that wasn't working. So I'm stuck for the next few weeks showing my receipt until the replacement card shows up in the mail.

I thought it would be inconvenient, but doable. Until I got on the bus tonight and the driver acted like we were in Guantanamo and I was a Taliban. I protested my innocence, showed him my receipt, which he examined closely (come on, it's a $2.75 fare) and then asked me what kind of card I possessed. He was looking to get a fare difference as it was an express bus.

No such luck: my card is good for every bus and subway in the system. When it works, that is. It's going to be a long couple of weeks. Okay, G-d, what's the message?

Another Kind of Observance - Again

My mother's yarhzeit just passed, as did my father's. Last year, at this same time, I wrote about my mother's passing, which, while one year after my father, came first on the Jewish calendar. The only difference, unfortunately, is now it is 7 years later.

While the rest of America observes Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, I will be observing something else: the 6th anniversary of my Mother's passing.

Unlike MLK, who was brutally and violently taken from us, Mother's cancer had run its course, and this was the day, in 2004, that she was to choose her hospice care nurse. My sister Sue, who had the day off, took over the interviews, while I chose to go to work, a decision I've regretted ever since.

Mother was terribly uncomfortable that day, and couldn't relax. Only one nurse was able to sooth her, reset her pillows and put her at ease. Sue hired her on the spot. With her daughters playing in the backyard, my sister arranged a starting date and saw the nurse out. When she came back to check on Mother, she was gone. She had passed away with the sounds of her grandchildren playing through the open window.

A much more idyllic scenario than Reverend King no doubt, but one equally heart wrenching. We had lost Dad unexpectedly just the year before, and now Mother. My brother, sister and I were now complete orphans.

Nothing happens by coincidence. Why did Mother day on this day? Is there a connection? Well, Mother was not a civil rights activist, didn't march for equal rights. She just took care of her family and her home. But she had a strong sense of right and wrong, which she instilled in all her children. Truth be told, they were both members of the human race who cared about others. That's connection enough.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mi Clase de Espanol Es Loco

Afraid that I would lose the small amount of Spanish I picked up during a summer course a few months back, I enrolled this Winter in Spanish 1 at Cal State LA.

My professor let everyone know verbally, and in writing, that this class is for people who have never taken Spanish, or whose high school Spanish is long forgotten. Of course, I won't bother mentioning native speakers of Spanish who make up the bulk of the class. That doesn't put me off. Being a native speaker is not an advantage in a college course, whose emphasis is on grammar.

However, the final slide shown the class involved Michelle Obama meeting King Juan Carlos of Spain. My professor asked us to come up with dialog they may have spoken, in Spanish.

WHAT?! Oy vey. The future looks bleak indeed.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I hurt myself exercising a few months back and finally got around to visiting the sports clinic about it. It was determined that I had injured my IT Band muscle and needed therapy.

Okay. So my therapist, David, took one look at me in leggings and pronounced that my right side was a bit atrophied - it was not as strong as my left side. From the waist down, that is. So, ergo, the IT Band on my right side bore the brunt of it.

So guess what I get to do as often as I can? Squeeze the muscles of my right side only when sitting, lying, or waiting for something that involves movement. Add to that semi-squats that left me with the inability to walk without moaning, and there you have it. Therapy.

Oh joy.

Happy New Year

The secular new year comes at the same time as the yarhzeit of both my parents. It's bitter sweet, and this year was not easy for me.

My mother's actual yarhzeit was on Shabbat, or New Year's Day, and I had trouble sleeping Friday night, tossing and turning. When I thought about what the day meant, I cried.

I gave the women's shuir in shul, and spoke about my mother and father afterwards. There are many members of the club no one wants to join there, and we orphans consoled each other during kiddish.

We left each other with wishes to hear good news soon, and to be reunited with our loved ones shortly. Amen.