Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The (W)hole Foot

Last night, as I was pumping gas, I heard that funny little sound my phone makes when I miss a call. I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, my phone is in my pocket. Why can’t it just ring through?

The message was from the camp I sent my daughter to just two days ago. Actually, it was the camp nurse. Yep, just two days in and my baby has to go to the hospital.

It seems she was practicing cartwheels in the bunk house when she hit her foot against the (obviously) exposed fire extinguisher. She cut open the ball of her foot, but was in good spirits. And no, it wasn’t serious, but will require a few stitches.

My heart stopped. First thought: they’re not telling me the whole story. Second thought: Don’t worry, she’s fine.

Several phone calls later (the camp nurse called back; the camp administrator did too) my baby was off to the hospital, where we later found out they glued the hole in her foot shut.

Then I heard her sweet voice on the phone I melted. She told me they glued her foot and that she couldn’t swim for a few days. But she was happy and hence, I relaxed. Thank you G-d, for a very small clap in a world as menacing as this.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Missing You

Today was a big day for us. As a family (minus two members) we sent my 9-year old daughter off to sleep-away camp for the first time. In typical fashion, the bus, scheduled to leave at 1 pm, was still there at 1:30 pm when my family begged me to leave.

I was fine then, putting Devorah on the bus, making sure she sat with a friend. She looked happy. Her best friend's mother did the same, and came to stand by my side as we watched the bus load up. She couldn't take it, felt she was going to throw up, and couldn't understand why her daughter was so calm about it all.

Ha, I thought. No big deal. I've sent plenty of kids away for the summer and never felt a thing.

But pizza night at Bubbie's was missing something really big: my daughter. I feel like crying right now and it's crazy. I mean, I literally sent my boys at about the same age across country, on airplanes by themselves, and was okay. My baby is only two hours away and I can't take it.

When my daughter's best friend's mom called me later today to say she was having a hard time, I confessed that I was not that happy either and can't wait for visiting day. Two whole weeks from now I can see my daughter, hug her and pretend like everything is fine.

I've got some practicing to do.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

School's Out For Summer

Well, yesterday was the last day for all my kids. Now they're all home and I pray to G-d I don't kill someone.

As we are holding just a few days before camp starts, I let the kids watch cute videos like G-Force, Marmaduke and the like, just to keep them quiet. It's the between video time that really causes the problems.

Tonight, for example, when I said lights out, I thought my boys would knock each other's lights out. It was all I could do to fold laundry and try to stay out of it.

I work three days a week, including tomorrow (Friday), with two days off to take care of all my other chores and errands. Is it wrong to pine away for camp to start? I really can't wait - my boys need structure, which I can't give them while I'm trying to take care of my own business.

Just four days left. To freedom.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grant Me This

I have an idea for a thesis and it has to do with child obesity. I know, not very original, but quite critical. So I got an email about a month ago calling for research proposals on child obesity. Bingo.

Well, it's really not that easy to write a grant unless you've done it before. I kinda have, but still, sorting everything out and presenting it the way it will be viewed favorably is really knocking me on my tush.

I also started my teacher assistant job today. It's mostly in the food lab and I'm partnered with a wonderful professor who is eager to communicate with her students. She's originally from Columbia (the country) and is very self-conscious about her accent. I personally think it's very sexy and considering the demographic in this town, she totally has the upper hand.

Tomorrow is my day off and I will try to spend a good deal of it ironing out the grant. If I don't get it I plan to still go forward with my thesis idea. I think it's a good one and hope the arbitrators will too.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Messing With My TV Mojo

The senior center's gym is located in a big room divided in half by a low wall between the exercise equipment and a workout floor. The workout floor is used several times a week for yoga, stretching, and schmoozing.

By 9 am, the classes begin, and that's when we have to turn the volume down on the TV. As I read Tehillim (Psalms) during my workout, the TV is just background noise for me, and I will occasionally check out the news. But for Doug, it's something else.

Doug is the exercise cheerleader on the workout side, and is quite engaging. Everyone who works out in the early morning knows him and likes him. He's fun, funny, and quite sweet. He just sweats a lot and leaves a mess on the floor of the treadmill, but I can handle that. I just don't look down.

So when the exercise instructor asked us to turn down the volume on the TV, Doug went ballistic. He raged in a whisper about how we all watch too much TV and we need to turn it off, finishing up his monologue by pulling out the plug.

Okay. Whatever. Later in the day I went to Glatt Market to pick up some chips (okay, I know, I should give up BBQ chips but I can't right now). As I was waiting in line, I watched the TV installed there trying to figure out what CNN was reporting on. When I got to the checker, a young man, I asked him why don't they have subtitles on the TV.

He looks straight at me and says something to the affect that we watch too much TV and it should be shut off. Okay, twice in one day - now that's weird. I looked at him and asked him if his name was Doug, figuring this could all get a lot weirder if his name was Doug too. He appeared shocked by my question, and didn't answer right away. But when he came to his senses, he assured me his name was not Doug.

However, as I am a student of coincidences really being messages from the One Above, I got to thinking about my Netflix subscription.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talking With My Aunt

When she first left a message on my answering machine, my heart skipped a beat. My Aunt Lila, my mother's fraternal twin sister sounds just like mom did before she assimilated in the Southern California life. In other words, like Brooklyn, New York.

Well, Aunt Lila was very excited. She had recently spoken to her uncle, and my great-uncle Simcha, who is just a few years older than her. Uncle Simcha is my grandfather's half-brother, born roughly 25 years after my grandfather, and they both share the same father.

It seems Uncle Simcha's four children have produced 10 times their number, and with grandchildren, there are nearly 100 Nadbournys all over the world who can trace their lineage to a man in Boro Park, New York. My aunt seemed overwhelmed that she was no longer nearly all alone in the world.

Uncle Simcha's story is actually quite interesting. He was born to my great-grandfather's second wife, it appears, after my grandfather had left home for good. He studied with the Mir Yeshiva, and like all the Jews of Poland, found himself on the run from the Nazis in 1939.

In Vilna, he got a visa to Shanghai - but not from Sugihara, the Japanese Counsel General who handed out thousands of life-saving visas. Uncle Simcha got his visa from his half-brother in Brooklyn. We know now that the State Department did all they could to block Jews from coming to America, and Shanghai was the best grandpa could do. Simcha went, however, to Shanghai with the Mir Yeshiva, and when the war ended, came to New York with his wife Dita after being sponsored by my grandfather.

I have been blessed to spend a few hours with my great-uncle, all of them fascinating. He is truly a kind man, who has had his share of suffering. Today he basks in the glory of an incredible family.

He is proof, as we all are, that we have a purpose in life and all stem from the same heavenly source.

Junior, J, V, and Me

I know this sounds weird, but Pico Kosher Deli is fast becoming "our place." For my husband, no. But for my friends J, V and me, yes.

I can still smell and taste it now, hours after consuming it completely - the Jr. Burger, a hands down favorite among the clientele. A burger with a salad between the buns, slices of pastrami, onions, and thousand island dressing. It's truly a blessing from the One Above.

Today, J, V and me got to PKD bright and early, chose our booth and hunkered down in anticipation of the joy to come. J and V started out with matzoh ball chicken soup; I took the house salad. Both J and me got the Jr. Burger, while V settled for a turkey sandwich on rye.

I cut the burger in half as soon as it got to me, but knew in my heart I would eat it all at once. What bliss. For both the company and the food.

Thanks J and V. It's our place.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making the Grade

I found out last night that I earned an A- in one of my graduate courses. I know I should be happy, but the amount of time and effort I put into that class was not worth an A-. It was worth a full A.

So I kept that in mind as I graded my 12th physiology students tonight. I carefully added up three semesters' worth of points, and assigned a letter grade. Unlike my professor, where a 92% is an A-, anyone earning 90% of the highest earnable points got an A. That was roughly 80% of the class.

There were two Bs, and two Cs. Everyone else got an A. And I'm glad about it. No doubt these girls gave me grief, but I learned a lot about teaching and my own abilities by spending an hour and a half with them each week. No, I don't wish it over again. Looking back, I wish it had never happened. But it did, and I think everyone came out better for it.

So I say to my professor, who will never hear it, I earned a full A, and an A- is an insult. My dear friend who also earned an A- feels the same way too. As my parents would say, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Time to suck it up and take it like an adult. I learned so much from this class too. It's all good.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Long Day

When my daughter asked me this past Shabbat to have friends over, I said yes right away. I love her little friends, and truly think of them as my own daughters. I rarely venture out after the shul's kiddish because I read the entire book of Tehillim on Shabbat in the merit of my brother who is ill.

But I didn't realize how long the day really is. We got home at 1:45 pm and Shabbat ended at 8:50 pm. That's seven hours of play time, and my daughter was crumbling. It was too much for her to run around and entertain her two girlfriends.

So I took her aside and offered to take the girls home early, at about 7:00 pm. She didn't want to, and I understand, even if she was miserable. So we stuck it out, with one girl going home early and the other being picked up right after Shabbat.

I talked to my daughter afterwards, and she said next time, she would only bring home one girl. Well, that's doesn't work for me. I don't believe in excluding anyone, and I would feel bad for the girl who didn't have a play date. So I said no, we will restrict the play time, and arrange it in advance that I will walk the girls home.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all life's problems were so easily solved. . .?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shavuot Stories

This Shavuot I sat next to my two good friends, Debbie and Chava in shul. I choose these two because they put up with my quirkiness and my straight-on view of the world.

Sometimes I can be a little rough around the edges - a quality not readily accepted by all. I can also be good natured, but I've noticed as I get older, I am definitely getting crankier.

Like with the stupid young newlywed we had lunched with. Debbie, Chava and I, along with my husband and three sons, went to another dear friend's for lunch. That's where we first encountered the newlyweds.

A very handsome couple indeed, young, she Ashkenazi, he Sephardic French. We didn't find out she was stupid until much later, so lunch passed very well, and the food, as usual, was delicious.

Debbie and I went to a shuir after lunch, and when we were walking home, we ran into the girl just walking around, on her way to the shuir that had just ended. Clue #1. Then she talked about her mother-in-law, an Israeli who felt the girl was slighting her by not speaking Hebrew to her, although the girl assured us she wasn't fluent in the language. But since her sisters-in-law spoke English, there was much merriment and laughter, excluding the mother-in-law, which didn't go over well.

As we were walking home, the girl in tow, Debbie began to reminisce about being in Israel years ago, hooking up with a gorgeous Israeli man she had met in Greece and how it didn't work out. The girl looked at Debbie, now 60 years old, and said, "oh, you must have been really pretty back then."

Okay, honesty is always a good policy, but stupid is as stupid does and as Debbie later recalled, my eyes bugged out when I said that Debbie is still beautiful. All I can say is I wish this girl's husband a lot of luck and friends he can actually hold a conversation with.

The shuir was another story. My community is truly blessed with amazing Torah scholars, and one in particular, a former Litvak-turned-Lubavitch is Rabbi Reuven Wolf. He spoke about how with the world in the state it's in, Moshiach cannot be far off. Chaddius will pave the way, and it's up to us to do the right thing. I was overwhelmed with emotion when he spoke about our teenagers, and how they suffer in this final showdown between good and evil. That really hit close to home.

Otherwise, I can't complain. I mean, not anymore about my mother-in-law's sugar-free cheese cake. Oh my gosh, talk about miserable. G-d's blessings still shower down on us, and all Klal Yisroel. Amen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Messages

I spent a good part of the day revising a midterm I got a B on in order to raise my grade, so when it came time for my mammogram appointment, I was running late.

I really don't like parking in the structure because it is quite expensive, so I drove around looking for a parking spot on the street. I could not find a thing, and in frustration, I took a meter and hoped the appointment wouldn't drag out.

When I ran to the building I thought the appointment was, it turned out it was the wrong building. Where I parked was right in the middle of the two building - where the appointment wasn't and where it was.

I take the inability to find a parking stop near the wrong building as a sign - one more message from the Holy One, Blessed Be He. Thank you G-d.

BTW, I was in and out in less than an hour. I take that as a message too.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sharing Happiness

I am nearsighted, which means I don't need reading glasses, but I do use my bifocals, as a separate pair, to read the computer. I have several pairs of these small bifocal only glasses, but a few days ago I found a pair of them on the floor of my bedroom, the ear pieces snapped off.

I figured I would put them away for now and take them to the optometrist to be refashioned when I had a chance. Well, when I found what's left of them broken completely in in half (somebody's angry!), I decided I had better go when the going was still goable.

When I got to my friendly optometrist, he had a customer he was helping, a bubbly young black woman who was obviously very excited. And for good reason. Because when the good glass doctor emerged from the back room, he was carrying the object of this young woman's desire: cat-eye glasses.

As she swooned over her glasses, she told me every detail - a total stranger. And I soaked it all up, joyfully. They were beautiful glasses, with multi-color gems on the tips, purchased in New York city after years of an exhaustive search. I was so happy for her.

Thank you G-d, for the joy. There's truly something special about watching someone else who is very happy. Lifts the soul big time.