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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ask And You Shall Receive

I found out this past Tuesday that I am now officially disqualified from future financial assistance because I have too many course units. Yes, I plan to appeal, but the whole situation is very disquieting.

So on my drive over to the Boys & Girls Club, on the crowded I-10 freeway, I ask G-d for a little help. Well, actually, I asked Him for a job.

Some time back I answered the call from a fellow student regarding a nutrition educator position at a homeless shelter. When I didn't hear back, I just assumed this student, whom I didn't really get along with all that well, had taken my resume and stuck it where the sun don't shine. . .the garbage can.

But, wouldn't you know it, yesterday, I got a call from the homeless shelter, along with the information that this fellow student highly recommended me. So not only did G-d answer me, but I completely misjudged this other person. So I'm feeling both good and bad about this latest opportunity.

I interview tomorrow. We'll see how things pan out. Maybe, just maybe, getting the job will be punishment I deserve.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Short But Sweet

Let me say up front that I love children. Especially adorable 8-12 year olds who are bright, articulate and respectful.

A few weeks ago, a fellow student invited other nutrition students, such as myself, to volunteer for an American Heart Association event for boys and girls in a summer program. I said yes, but had second thoughts. I really didn't know what to expect, so when the coordinator called me last night to confirm, I reluctantly said yes. I also found out what we would be talking about.

The topic to be discussed was sugar. In the end, there were four of us, each taking less than 10 minutes each to bring up a nutritional concept related to sugar. In truth, there was no script, no coordination. It was all ad-lib and it was great.

I borrowed a teaching aid from school: an acrylic box that showed the amount of sugar in various food items using real sugar. The children were amazed and surprised. We started out with a demonstration of just how much sugar there is in a 8-oz glass of Gatorade (14 teaspoons), a teaspoon of fresh-squeezed orange juice and some food coloring in a base of water. The children were literally shocked.

In the end (30 minutes later), we asked the group what they were planning on drinking for now on. "Water" they cried in unison.

I must admit, I've haven't had this much fun or been so satisfied with my efforts in a while. The coordinator, who just became a Master's student, was scared and uneasy about it all in the beginning, and was relieved when it was finally over.

The bottom line is: if you are a coordinator, it doesn't matter how much you know or what you do. It matters that you bring together a group that does. In that, she was very successful indeed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Visiting Camp Run Amok

Sunday was visiting day at my daughter's camp, so we piled into the car and took a two hour trip up the mountain. When we finally got there, it was with great relief. For a good 25 minutes we thought the old car would never make it.

But it did make it, and there was my lovely, sweet angel sitting on the porch waiting for us. I was so glad to see my baby, and she looked so happy to see us as well.

First, we toured to bunk house and met old friends. Bubbie thought her granddaughter might get hungry so she sent along a seven-layer cake sized to feed a battalion of men. Not to mention the gum, clothing and kisses that went along with it.

It took my daughter a few hours before she could tell me about her troubles. The class bullies had followed her there, and even a few got in her bunk house. No one was spared, but my daughter is taking it kinda hard. My advice: laugh at them. They take themselves very seriously, but there's no reason why she should.

But I still spoke to her counselor about it, asking that she keep an eye on things and make sure these girls don't get out of hand. It's the same advice a group of us mothers gave the principal back home.

What a majestic place. Nestled in the forest at 6000 foot elevation, it's a mini-resort with log cabins and plenty of dirt. Just the right place for a kid to run all day and sleep all night.

I'm so proud of my daughter. She seems all grown up. It's big to spend a month away from home, even with your best friends, when you're only 9 years old. It's also big of mommy to let her go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Quite A State

When I drove carpool last month, I wanted to give the girls something else to do with their travel time besides fighting so I mentioned a game we played when I was a kid. From the back seat of the family car, we would see who could be the first to spot an out of state license plate. Fun, huh?

So I told the girls all about it, but mentioned that in Los Angeles, there aren't very many out of state license plates because most people don't drive here, they fly in.

Which is really weird because ever since I said that, I've seen more out of state license plates then I've seen in 12 years. Kinda strange.

What does it mean? Maybe I shouldn't be so sure of myself, maybe I shouldn't editorialize. Perhaps I should have just given over the game and let it be that.

Welcome strangers. There seems to be plenty of you!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America

I still cry when I hear the national anthem, still cry when I see soldiers in uniform proudly displaying the stars and stripes. I am proud to be an American.

But what does that mean? To me, being an American is like being part of a big club, where everybody has a job and a purpose and we're all heading in the same direction. Weird, I know, but when I go shopping and I look around, I see all different types of people here. Heavy, skinny, short, tall, black, brown, white. A cultural smorgasbord.

I can't live without the diversity of races. It's my comfort zone, to know that all these very different people with these very different backgrounds can all get along together in one place. It's the hope of all mankind.

G-d bless you, America. Keep you strong and free. No matter where I go, I will always be an American, see events through the eyes of an American, feel with the heart of an American. There may be Americans who don't feel that way. Maybe, deep down, they really aren't Americans. Even if they are born here, they aren't as American as the man or woman who come here and want to be American.

It's a gift to be American, and it's a gift I feel is slipping away. Sometimes I wonder if we've taken the American experiment as far as it can go before it all falls apart. We've been up against the ropes before, but the pending economic crash that lies ahead my not be so surmountable. We are not my parents generation, taught from an early age to sacrifice. We are a very spoiled bunch. Are we prepared to lose all we have and can we survive it?

Today's your birthday, America. The day G-d brought together a host of amazing people who felt there had to be a better way. Yes, they compromised on slavery, but they did it on their own terms: they made slaves count as 1/4 of a person in the census so the South could not use their labor to gain greater representation in the Congress.

Were there other mistakes? Plenty. But I live today free, through the sacrifice of many, and I appreciate that. There is no perfection in this world, and it's a waste of time to strive for it. Especially in government. We do the best we can. And we keep trying harder. That's the American way.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Driving Mommy Crazy

I went to work literally first thing Friday morning - I had to be at school by 8 am. So I left me kids still sleeping in bed, knowing that's pretty much how I'm gonna find them when I come home. Only I forgot that two of them had a appointment at 12:30 pm with the DMV.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is usually a pretty inefficient arm of the state government, issuing driving permits and licences to anyone and everyone who walks in the door. You have to have a passport or other form of valid ID to apply, but all they do is ask if you have one, not check to see if it's really you.

Okay, so my 19 and 15 year old sons decided that they want a permit to drive. The 15 year old made the appointment, but when we got there, the clerk couldn't find the appointment anywhere in the state of California for that time and date. But, never fear, the line is moving fast, take a number and wait.

Actually, the line did move fast, and both their numbers came up quickly. They were called at nearly the same time, so I jumped from one counter to another pay the fee and then waited, saying Tehillim, until their tests were done.

Good thing too, since they both passed. What does the future hold for them in this regard? My 15 year old must take driving lessons ($$$) but my 19 year old can make an appointment for a DMV mandated driving test.

While I worry about them behind the wheel of a car, I know that it means that I will be relieved of some major driving duties in the weeks and months to come. But we have only two cars.

Time for Plan B. Whatever that may be.