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


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.


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.