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!