Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Getting Even

I used to think that even years were the best ever.  I was born in an even year, graduated college in an even year, married in an even year.  But then nearly all my kids were born in odd years, so bye-bye the even year prejudice.

But I can't help but feel that even years truly rock, and am really looking forward to 2014.  So I decided to tie up some loose ends today, in anticipation of tomorrow.

Got the oil changed in my car (even year 2012); drank coffee and shared ideas with a dear friend, ate lunch with my son, and then paid a visit to the doctor (there's Obamacare in my future - which means my medical coverage, as we speak, is literally an unknown).  Ate dinner with the family, did carpool, and now I'm ready to kick back, relax, and wake up to a new beginning.

Here's hoping it's a great one.  Love and kisses to everyone.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

If Van Gogh Painted With His Eyes Closed

Last night I attended a company holiday party out in the middle of nowhere - okay, this nowhere has a name.  Rancho Cucamonga.  I literally thought I was falling off the end of the earth.  But it was worth it.

The party consisted of food, of course, but also a chance to become an artist for an evening.  That's right.  The place is called Purple Easel and my company rented out the place for the evening.  Each one of us was set up with an easel, paints, brushes, and an artist leading up through the evening's design.  Wouldn't you know it - a winter landscape.

Oh please.  All I wanted was a cup of coffee (it took over an hour to get there!) and a choice place on the couch in the hall.  But the painter's assistant insisted I participate (I'm not proud of the fact that I offered her money to finish the canvas for me).  I'm just not an artist.

Truth is, it was a lot of fun, and I really feel that if I did this maybe 100 times, I could actually be an artist.  And just one more truth: I made so many mistakes and had such a pitiful look on my face that the painter's assistant really did finish the canvas for me.  Not that I told my family.  They think I'm a genius!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where The Wild Things Are

My son asked me to stop by the library the other day on my way home from work to pick up a book.  I'm usually tired after a long day, but what the heck.  It was a quick in-and-out trip and I was on my way to putting my feet up.

Found the book fast enough, but waiting on line to check it out seemed to drag on.  In front of me stood a young woman with her two sons.  Assumed they were her sons, all three of them blond.  The boys were aged maybe 6 and 4 years respectively, the younger one still in diapers and sucking on a pacifier.

The problem wasn't just the wait.  The boys were wild, screaming, running around, tearing up the flooring and just acting awful.  As if that wasn't enough, their mother did absolutely nothing, outside of the occasional "hey guys, stand by me."  There was quite a bit of rumbling in line behind me, and I tried hard not to say something.

Because as I was standing there watching this spectacle, I remembered a letter to the editor I read some time back from a mother of an autistic child who asked people not to be judgmental if they saw her child acting out.  Why that popped into my mind I'll never know but I heeded her plea.  When the elder of the two boys asked what the printer payment box was for, I very calming, slowly and precisely explained how it worked.

The child stared at me wide-eyed.  It seemed to me that no one, not even his mother, had ever explained something so clearly to him before. He actually stopped moving for a good three minutes, and then went right back to pushing buttons.

Why the mother didn't intercede and try to explain library etiquette still confuses me.  This particular library is popular with children and is always crowded with them.  Yet I don't recall any of these children behaving this way.

G-d put thoughts in our minds when the need arises.  That's the only way I can explain remembering the letter, and the only reason I didn't take this young mother to task.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Offering A Helping Hand

Today I did what I enjoy doing most - volunteering to help people out.  As a Registered Dietitian, I joined several other Dietitians to work alongside other clinicians to offer my expertise in terms of weight loss, healthy eating tips, low salt and diabetic diet adherence.  My team and I must have seen 20 people in 4 hours.

What was even better was reaching out and meeting other clinicians (nurses, doctors, optometrists) who gave their time to make life better for complete strangers.  I learned much from the patients, and even more from my fellow RDs.

Did I have a few favorite patients?  Of course,  Like the skinny young man who had been diagnosed as Gluten sensitive, and just wanted to talk.  Or the sweet, young woman who didn't know how she was going fit in eating breakfast after taking care of her 4 year old niece, for whom she prepared breakfast.  When I suggested she eat breakfast with her niece, she thought it was the best idea ever!

Nothing like having the occasional good idea.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Chava

There's nothing like a good old fashioned birthday fabregen (chasidic party).  It means women sitting around a table full of food, giving each other blessings and sipping red wine.  Before long, we're all getting heated up about one thing or another.

This time, the topic was cremation.  Every single one of us had a relative or friend who was cremated.  Jews are not permitted to cremate themselves or relatives, and before long, we were all worked up.  It's not just the cremation, but the price of burial.  People choose cremation when they can't afford to be buried, which can cost upwards to $15,000.

We didn't come up with any solutions, but it was food for thought.  That, along with intermarriage.  America is always a blessing, but on the issue of Jewish continuity, a bit of a curse.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

When Going Out To Wars

It's been a week since I read the book, "My Mother's Wars," by Lillian Faderman, and I still can't get it out of my head.  I like to think that when we feel that way about an experience, it's because it means something.

I have often wondered what Jews in America were thinking and doing in the years leading up to the Holocaust in Europe.  My father, first generation American, fought with the American army in North Africa.  But most of his family was here, having arrived before World War I after G-d only knows how many years of pogroms in their years in Bessarabia.

My mother was a different story.  She, like my father, was the first generation to be born here, but her parents' families were still in Poland.  My grandfather saved his half-brother by securing a visa for him to Shanghai, only because there were no visas to America.  The rest of the her parents' families disappeared or perished.

Faderman's mother, who came to America in 1914, also left behind the majority of her family.  Uneducated, she worked in the garment industry as a draper, barely making enough money to survive.  Even though she wanted to, she couldn't scrap enough money to sponsor any additional family members.  Burning bridges with a wealthier half-sister, and passing up opportunities to help that would have required a love-less marriage, Faderman's maternal family perished.

What struck me was how pervasive anti-semitism was in America then, and how every avenue to save the Jews of Europe was closed.  No one, no where, was willing to help.  I couldn't help but get caught up in the near-hysteria Faderman's mother finds herself in when she realizes there is nothing she can do to save her loved ones.

To think that today there are people calling for the destruction of Israel, just like Hitler called for the destruction of the Jews.  We Jews are taught that in every generation the evil ones rise against us, and only Hashem will protect us.  If there was an Israel in 1939, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  No, not all the Jews of Europe would have survived, but history would have written that chapter differently.

To any out there who read this and question why the Jews should have their own country, read the history of the world from 1939-1945.  We will never allow anyone to determine our fate again.  If the question is asked, why that country, then read the history of the world over the last 3500 years.  We Jews are indigenous to Israel, it's where we come from.  It's where we get our strength.  And we are not going anywhere any time soon.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shopping With A Shopper

When it came time to shop for props for my daughter's bat mitzvah, a dear friend offered to help me out.  I thought it was so sweet, and readily said yes.  Little did I know that this dear friend is a shop-a-holic.

Like most major cities, Los Angeles has a downtown wholesale shopping district (well, it feels wholesale and you feel like you're getting a deal).  My dear friend, my daughter and I went downtown one Sunday with the intent to doing some light shopping, maybe stopping off for an ice cream.  I'm not a real shopper and don't like walking from store to store.

Oh my gosh, we walked from store to store.  And the thing is, downtown, all the stores look alike, and pretty much carry the same items.  One thing I will say is, you can haggle with the Hispanics, but not the Asians.  Man, they are tough.  If you want it bad enough, you pay their price.

My daughter, bless her heart, does like to shop, but my dear friend even wore her out.  How does a person get that kind of energy?

It's a gift.  G-d bless her.  Without my dear friend helping out, the party would not have been as merry.  I only know that G-d gives us the strength when we need it.  Even to shop.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Let Us All Say Amen

Besides it being Friday, the 13th and Eruv Yom Kippur, it's actually a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, where the sun always shines and all 10 million people who live here were on the freeway with me simultaneously.  I bet I can train my mind to watch TV and drive at the rate I'm traveling.

It's all good.  Here's a loving Daily Dose from the Rebbe.  Easy and meaningful fast to those who do.

  Tishrei 9, 5774 ·September 13, 2013

G‑d has many delights:
The delight that comes from a pure and simple act of love.
Greater than that, the delight that comes from an act of beauty sparkling in the darkness.
Greater than that, the delight when a child who has run away returns with all her heart.

Delight lies at the essence of all that is.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shedding More Tears

There are two young women in my community who lost their mother quite unexpectedly just over a month ago.  They are both married and moved away, but their mother was so much a part of the Jewish life here that they came back for the holidays in her last home.

On Sunday, during our monthly Tehillim gathering, the eldest daughter told us a story of how she connected to her mother this Rosh HaShanah.  Tearful over her loss, and advised by a wise woman to do so, the young woman just started talking to her mother, pouring out her heart about how much she missed her and wished they could still be together.

The first day of Rosh HaShanah, after prayers, another member of the congregation came up to the oldest daughter with an old Mazchor, or prayer book for the holiday.  Inside was her mother's name, and throughout the book, handwritten notes by her mother about the significance of various prayers.  Amazing indeed, as all Mazchorim are locked together in a cabinet all year and are used by both men and women alike.  That this Mazchor ended up on the women's side of the room was a miracle in itself.

This daughter told us, through tears, that her mother had indeed been with her that Rosh HaShanah, and that her heart felt wishes had been, in part, answered.

Those of us listening who also lost mothers cried with her.  But we are all limited.  The book, while satisfying, is not a mother's touch, her voice, her smile.  Time makes the physical distance fade, but it's always there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pegging Us As People

As much as I would like to blog on a daily basis, something always pulls my away.  It's called exhaustion.

Here's something that came to my email yesterday, and I think it's worth putting out there:

Bouncing Up
    Tishrei 6, 5774 · September 10,         2013

Why does the human being destroy? Why does it wreak havoc in the world?
The way this world was made, there is no step forward without first a step backward. Night comes before day, pain before pleasure, confusion before wisdom.
But then G‑d made the human being, who strives beyond the design of things, who yearns to leap past its own nature, to embrace the infinite. This creature, too, must first fall so that it can leap upward. But since its leap is beyond its bounds, it must first fall beneath them.
That is sin—a fall beneath your own boundaries.
And that is the power of return
—to leap beyond any bounds at all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beating Back Bad

This week's parsha discussed a lot of mitzvahs, or laws.  It's a custom between me and my row partner to read the short Chassidish explanations in the Torah reading.  One of the explanations discussed the yetzer hara, or the evil inclination, and how it hides itself behind what makes you feel good.

Like today, when I has just about done reading Psalms, and realized it was time for the Shabbat class for women.  I looked at the clock, and said to myself, even if I get dressed and Ieave the house right now, I'll never make it in time. . .

I knew it was the bad in me choosing not to make the right choice, justifying it with staying home and finishing Psalms.  But I gave into myself, finished the reading, and was just about to sit down for a late lunch when there was a knock at the door.

This is not the first time my dear friend D saved me from myself, and I pray it won't be the last.  That's right, D came unexpectedly to pick me up for the class, and we went.

Sometimes it takes friends to help us beat back the bad.  Thank G-d for friends.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's All Good Again

I've been having some troubles at work lately, and this Shabbat, when I know we should be thinking holier thoughts, I decided to share my dilemma with friends.  One good friend, in particular, also had her stories of woe.

After davening (prayer), the women in my shul gather around for a a shuir, or lecture, usually given by one of us.  This Shabbat we had a visitor speak, a much beloved woman who always has a smile and a kind word.  She looked at both my friend and I, surely by coincidence, and said, in essence, even if you have negative thoughts, you have to think positive because if you do, the outcome will be positive.  We both got wide eyed over that one.

Later, as I was walking back from another shuir with another dear friend, who should I see but a former boss, the first sighting in years, bringing me back to a happier time in my life..  Later on that night, I bumped into another old friend, reminding me of another miracle (she's the star of the tale I told here some years back about starting a Jewish club on campus).

Altogether, the three were good signs.  Something good, something miraculous will happen.  I just know it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Getting The Message

My treadmill broke (actually, it was a friend's treadmill that she let me borrow forever), so I've taken to walking a little over 2 miles in the morning around my neighborhood.  I alternate my routes every other day, and try to keep upright (yup, I fell earlier this week, but because G-d loves me, no one was driving by to see the graceful event ).

Knowing about my walking expeditions, a dear friend invited me to join her hiking on Sundays - up a mountain.  My daily hikes are on flat land, so after a few outings on the mountain, I realized I needed knee braces and now make them part of my daily routine.

Well, this dear friend decided to have a party at her home for all the birthday girls of summer - including me. I told another dear friend who was going to remind me so I wouldn't miss it.

My reminder came the night of the party from my other dear friend.  I could barely make out what she was saying as she was eating food - at the party itself.  Hello, I told her, it doesn't count as a reminder to call me from the party.

I guess it doesn't matter.  I ended up at the party all the same (truly only because she called), and had a great time.  No matter when and how it was delivered, I got the message all the same.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Day Of Hope

Today is Gimmel Tammuz - the day, 20 years ago, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a guiding light for so many, passed away.  Here's a thought for the day:

Tammuz 3, 5773 ·June 11, 2013

A true master of life never leaves this world
—he transcends it, but he is still within it.

He is still there to assist those who are bonded with him with blessing and advice, just as before, and even more so.
Even those who did not know him in his corporeal lifetime can still create with him an essential bond.
The only difference is in us:
Now we must work harder to connect.

Monday, June 3, 2013

In The Nick of Time

Anyone who reads this blog knows I love the "Hand of G-d" stories that happen to me.  I don't know if someone else experiencing what I experience would see the outcome as a sign of G-dliness, but truth is, I can't help it.

Like today.  My boss needed me to update our clinical care manual, but despite being ordered several weeks ago, it still hadn't arrived.  Quite frankly, I've been so busy doing my job that I hadn't notice, and failed to track the package.

Not to fear, my boss assured me.  She will copy it for me and all I have to do is update it for presentation and approval.  But guess what showed up in the 2 pm mail today?  The updated manual, of course.

On the very same day I needed it.  Now, if that wasn't G-d, who was it?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another Interesting Experience

Ever since I gave up riding the bus for the privacy of my own car (and loneliness), my interesting interactions with fellow citizens has been reduced to my patients at the psychiatric hospital and staff.  Which is another reason why I've been eating Rice Dream Ice Cream by the gallon.  Daily.

And nothing goes better with Rice Dream than sprinkles.  It's been rather hard for me to have enough sprinkles on hand to keep up with my ice cream intake.  And I'm kinda particular.  I don't like the crunchy sprinkles, I do like them multicolored, and I like mass quantities of them.  Hence, my trip to Pavilions.

Pavilions is another version of Vons, which is another version of Ralphs, which is another version of Albertson's.  To me, all supermarkets are the same, more or less, and I visit whichever one is on my way home or to some other destination.  There are definitely food deserts in my city, but not where I live.  It's the choice, and keeping up with the specials, that is the problem.

I went to Pavilions for one thing, and one thing only - sprinkles. But I had to check to see if they sell Rice Dream Ice Cream - so far I've only found it at the healthy food stores (how ironic).  I didn't find the Rice Dream in the freezer, but I found something else.

A man's wallet, with a stack of dollars on top of it, the outer one a $10 bill.  Oh baby, I thought.  Someone crazier than me!  So I grabbed the wallet and cash and went to the manager's station to turn it in.  There was a sweet, young Hispanic employee there, and I asked her to get me the manager.  She got all wide-eyed, went to the phone, and paged the manager.  We waited and waited.  She paged again.

I looked at her and asked if he was coming.  She got kinda scared and asked if I had a complaint.  Now I was getting testy.  All I wanted was my sprinkles and I wasn't getting any closer to getting them at this rate.  No dear, I told her.  I found this wallet.

Well, if they had an Olympic event for getting the manager, this gal would win.  Turned in the wallet (apparently a regular), went back to the aisle to get my sprinkles, bought them and went home.

Just a normal day in the life.  Sure wish I had found the Rice Dream instead.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Girls Night Out

Yesterday my dear friend D called and asked if I wanted to go to the movies with her.  I was taken aback - a movie on a school night?  I mean, seriously, I have to get up early.

But it wasn't just any movie, it was an Israeli movie, at an art-house cinema and it started at 8 pm.  The movie is entitled, "Fill The Void," an award winning movie about Haredim (religious Jews) by an actual, self-proclaimed religious Jew.  How could I resist!

I'll tell you how I could resist.  I love Jews, don't get me wrong, but Israeli movies are a little tough to sit through.  In my college heyday I left no foreign film unseen, so the concept of subtitles and different cultural norms doesn't bother me.  But really, I need a movie to make sense or I just get cranky.

In terms of Israeli movies, only a handful actually fall into the "make sense" category.  "Walk on Water," "Ushpezin."  Okay, that's it.  So I didn't hold out much hope that "Fill The Void" would be any better.

It wasn't, but the acting was good and the portrayals were excellent.  I know the actors weren't  frum (the religious tend not to act in movies), so I was quite impressed.  You know a movie has an effect on you when you're still thinking about it the next day.

In fact, my dear friend D called me at work to talk about it this morning, and I stopped what I was doing to chime in.  Oh yeah, I may not have understood everything, but I liked what I saw.

Thanks D, for a great night out.  We promised each other to do this once a month.  Sounds pricey, but the truth is, we got in the movie on the senior discount.  Young people think anybody with a few wrinkles is old.  This movie may have been a drama, but we certainly had the last laugh!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Best Neighbor Ever

Only in America, my friends, only in America.  Charles Ramsey, you can move next door to me any time!

Scared Straight

As a Registered Dietitian in a mental health facility,  I've seen patients at their best and worst.  And I've walked into units during a code gray (patient that needs to be subdued) and have been interviewing patients when all of a sudden another patient became a code gray.

Yesterday was a little different.  Yesterday, I was actually talking to a patient who worked himself up to a code gray and I got scared.  I watched this patient go into sudden melt down and I stayed cool.  We were talking about his diet and he was telling me he wasn't going to eat because he wanted to die.

Truth is, many of our patients want to die, and often that's how they end up at our facility.  They walk in traffic, attack police officers, stuff like that.  So instead of accepting that this patient wanted to die, I asked for his food preferences.  "How about a melted cheese sandwich," I asked.  Patients in other units would kill for one, but I hold off on these offers for the patients who won't eat.

Things were going great until all of a sudden the patient snapped.  Took the diet sheets (diabetes and hypertension) but then ripped them up, spit on the ground, and started screaming about me and how I'm making him eat and he didn't want the diet information.  I moved into the nurses' station real fast, as the call went out for manpower and the nurses on the unit started putting on latex gloves.  It was time to give the patient a "cocktail" and put him down for a long nap.

I apologized to everyone, obviously missing some important cues, but the nurses wouldn't have it.  This patient was a volcano waiting to blow, and it was a matter of time they told me.

Funny thing is, the next day, he kept asking to see me.  Ate real well too.  When I saw him he was all smiles. The nurse on duty told me he wanted attention, and I had been particularly sweet to him.  Scared and sweet.  I totally felt the presence of G-d yesterday.  If I had been in his room, alone, when he lost it, who knows what could have happened.  I often see patients in their room, not too close, but close enough to be heard.  I could never have gotten out of the way fast enough.

Sigh.  What's the saying?  G-d protects fools and young children.  I stand before you, living proof.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Just Another Thought

157. Confidence & Humility
Iyar 25, 5773 · May 5, 2013

Confidence is best found among the truly humble.

Moses was the most humble of all men. Yet he had the confidence to stand before the mightiest dictator on earth and assert his demands. He had the confidence to stand before G‑d and listen without losing his composure. He had the confidence, when necessary, even to argue with G‑d.

Yet he considered himself to be truly nothing.

The confidence of Moses was not confidence in his own self. He had no self. He was but an agent of Above. Above there is infinite power.

Self-confidence is limited, at best. But if you trust in the One who has sent you to be here and do what you need to do—that confidence knows no bounds.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Having A Stupid Moment

I think when the temperature rises, I lose my mind.  I can't take the heat.  Add to that I had to put in time this morning at the downtown facility where the psychiatric patients tend to be really intense, and I was heading for a meltdown.

So imagine my excitement when I saw an Arco station right outside the hospital where the gas was $3.83 a gallon and my tank was near empty.  I raced over there, along with nearly half the city, waited my turn and finally got a slot to call my own.

That's when things kinda went downhill.  The pay stations by the pumps were all changed recently, and allow you to pay by cash.  Used to be you had to walk into the gas station store itself to pay cash.  So guess who stuck their ATM card in the cash slot?

That would be me.  I could not get the card out, and had to go into the store to ask for help.  The attendant gave me a big smile, and tried to make me feel better by staying I was the second person today to have this problem.  The other person was, can you guess, also a woman!

I as so embarrassed, that I ran back outside and, much to my relief, somehow got my card out of the machine on my own.  I started over, putting the card in the right slot this time, and was ready to pump gas when the attendant finally came out to help me.

It's stupid moments like this that make me stop, take a breath, and realize that while my car can't run on empty, neither can I.  Gonna be a soul searching Shabbat.

Just A Thought

Here's something I got in my email today - and I think it's worth noting.

Small Things
Iyar 22, 5773 · May 2, 2013

Great things are not what is demanded from our generation. The previous generations did all that for us. We need only do the small things—but in a more difficult time.
For us, self-sacrifice could mean nothing more than a simple change of habit.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Crying Time

Generally speaking, I hate to go out to night time events, especially Jewish events.  If it's Jewish, there's food.  And drink.  And plenty of it.  For those of us who lack self-control (yours truly), it's a roller coaster of indigestion.

And emotion.  Tonight's event was the 10th anniversary of the Friendship Circle, an amazing group of people who help families with developmentally disabled children and young adults.  One of my sons has been volunteering for several years, and tonight I figured out why.

What could be more gratifying than helping a child with learning disabilities learn?  Or a child who can't understand the world around him smile?  Okay, this event was a fundraiser and I wasn't planning on giving any more of my funds, but after I saw the video of those wonderful children being surrounded by loving volunteers, I cried.

And then I filled out the donation card, offering to volunteer my time teaching children about nutrition.  I just hope I'm worthy of the task.  No doubt these amazing children, and their equally amazing families, will end up teaching me more than I can teach them.  That's how doing the right thing works.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bearing Witness

The other day the woman who I thought was my boss came into my office and asked me to be a witness.  "A witness to what?" I asked, and she said she needed someone who wasn't her employee to be there when she told one of her employees that she was being written up.

I looked at the woman who I thought was my boss and said, "Aren't you my boss?"  She smiled, and said, "No, we work together."  I have got to get me an organization chart!

I put down my calculator, got up, and prepared to be a witness.  Only the employee about to be written up only speaks Spanish, and my colleague (I learn quick) also speaks Spanish and they went at it for about 10 minutes while I alternated between smiling and looking stern.  I got the gist of what was being said, just not the actual words.

In the end, the employee refused to sign the notice of write up, and I went back to my calculator, more confused than ever.  I'm nearly seven months into this job and still don't know who is who.  Seriously, what are my chances for success?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Point Blank

I personally don't own a gun, but believe strongly in the 2nd amendment. To me, it's all about keeping the government at bay.  An armed citizenry is the foundation of a true democracy.

Lately, since the unwarranted and inexcusable murder of children, theater goers and college students, there has been a loud chorus of people wanting to tightened background checks on gun purchasers.  Well, as far as I see it, background checks are pretty tight, and law abiding citizens aren't shooting up children in school yards.  So who's going to be impacted by this?

Law abiding citizens, who are already adhering to background checks.  In Connecticut, the murderer there applied for a gun permit and was denied.  He went home, killed his mother and took her guns.  Next stop, Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The young man was mentally ill.  Just like all the other big time murderers (Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colorado).  How come we're not talking about that?  Any reason why we aren't divining a national registry of the mentally ill, or even printing their names in a local paper?

Because people don't feel comfortable talking about the mentally ill, and quite frankly, don't know what to do with them.  They have rights, you know, just like gun owners.  So I guess we'll just have to put up the the disingenuous garbage spewed by politicians and others who don't want to address the real issue of mental illness and would rather make things harder for the crowd that really isn't a risk.

Answer: Quite frankly, stop demonizing the NRA.  Stop demonizing people who don't trust their government to not make a gun registry, a neutralizing factor should the government decide to go over to the dark side.  Stop making major decisions based on emotions, and think things through.  My experience is the people who claim they believe in free speech are all talk, and only their talk.  We need a national debate, not dictation.

G-d help us all.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coffee Catch Up

Not that I need an excuse to drink a cup of Starbuck's coffee, but when a dear friend sent me an email inviting me to join her and others for coffee to catch up on our lives, I couldn't say YES fast enough.  

Like veterans of a foreign war, my RD exam study group keep in touch.  We share our triumphs and follies, but rarely get the chance to see each other face to face.  Sunday was the big day.

It was just three of us, but the coffee was great, as was the cinnamon bun I brought along and ate alone.  (While I surely don't need the calories, there's something about a little cake and coffee that seem so right).     We caught up on each other's lives, asked each other advice, and even sat through a much needed hair styling (one of our group is an RD and a hair dresser - the best of both worlds).

Just like we needed each other when we were going through our internship and studying for the exam, we need each other now.  We are not alone.  As for me, I truly feel blessed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seeing The Light

I've mentioned before that each day I get an inspirational shot in the arm from chabad.org - my way of staying connected to spiritually now that I work 40 hours a week.  Here's what came today:

In creating the whole of existence, G‑d made forces that reveal Him and forces that oppose Him—He made light and He made darkness.  One who does good brings in more light. One who fails, feeds the darkness.

But the one who fails and then returns transcends that entire scheme. He reaches out directly to the Essential Creator. Beyond darkness and light.  And so, his darkness becomes light.

I'm a big a big fan of the Repair Jack series of books by F. Paul Wilson and just reading this today made me believe now more than ever that Wilson must have known of the Rebbe.  The whole supernatural series is based on dark (for evil) and light (for non-evil) and what's written above could have been the plot for each novel.  

Okay, there was more stuff going on in the sci-fi books, but still, the whole dark and light thing is totally Wilson.  Now as always, time to choose sides.  

Monday, April 8, 2013


A few months back I thought it would be a good idea to get an inspirational thought a day from the Rebbe - Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory from www.chabad.org.  Here's what came today:

Success, in the higher scheme of things, is when a soul that has alienated herself returns.  It is the ultimate demonstration of her resilience and her depth: No matter how distant she may travel, in the end she can never tear herself away.

Now that made me smile!  No matter how alienated I feel at times, I, and all of us, have the ability to be united with our inner strength.  Leave it to the Rebbe to ground me.  

Feeling Senseless

I worked five long years to get where I am today and somehow, some way, it seems I've lost my sense of humor.  I haven't really laughed at anything lately, and I need to get my groove back.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's because I'm working what appears to be 24/7.  I leave my house at 7:30 am and get home around 6 pm.  I spend the day with really disturbed people - people who are mentally ill.  And I think it's getting me down.

I miss the bus, I miss the subway.  I miss the interaction with all kinds of people - the crazy ones and the normal ones.  I feel like I barely survived Passover, and didn't spend nearly enough time with my family.

It's all about engaging with your environment, and I've been substituting chocolate bars for engagement.  Not that I'm giving up chocolate, G-d forbid, but maybe I should cut down. Get back on the treadmill.  Smile more often.

It's weird to say, but I've gone from being a student to being an adult in a matter of 6 months.  Like being a kid forced to mature.  Wouldn't you know it - I couldn't wait to be where I am now and now I wish I were where I was then.  I miss my friends, who are all busy too.

Sigh.  Smile.  This kid, no doubt, will be alright.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Creator and Me

I like to think I have a running dialogue with the Creator of the Universe.  You know, just me and Him.  I mean, with all my problems and requests, how can He have time for anyone else?

Like today.  I was running late at work and knew that I was leaving too late to pick my son up from school at 6 pm.  There was only one way that was going to happen - that's right.  If you-know-Who got involved.

Which, surprise, surprise, He did.  Listen to me: for all those who know what traveling on Interstate 10-West at 5:30 pm means, I flew home, especially through downtown.  Oh yeah.  Traffic never stopped.  I didn't spend one minute of my travel time home regretting I bought a 5-speed.  It was like Sunday morning, 5 am.

It was like Heaven.  And as for my son, well, I pulled up to the door of his school just as he was walking out.  At 6 pm.  Travel time: 30 minutes.  Usual travel time: 45 minute to 1 hour.  That's G-d for you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Full Of Hot Air

When my gas mileage started to suffer, I had the feeling that my tires were low on air and mentioned it to my husband.  He told me to go to the gas station and have the attendant check it out.  I put it on my to-do list, and went on with my life.

Wouldn't you know it - out of nowhere (actually, on the way home from the wedding), an icon resembling a tire burned bright on my dash board.  Needless to say, it scared the heck out of me and when I parked, I grabbed my owner's manual to figure out what to do.  Can you guess what jumped to the top of my to-do list?

I told my husband my tires were not inflated properly (the manual made it sound like I couldn't drive another inch until I fixed the problem), and he was gracious enough to give me a working tire gauge.  Bummer.  Hadn't planned on getting that close to my tires and the ground ever.

I asked my husband about how long this should take.  His reply: no time at all.  That was enough to convince him to accompany me to the said gas station and become my attendant.

What was supposed to take no time at all actually took 30 minutes.  First, the closest gas station was jammed packed at 7:45 am.  I mean, I fill up my car at night so I can go straight to work in the morning.  Is this an original thought?

Air is no longer free in Los Angeles. You actually have to pay for it.  Okay, we're talking 25 cents, but still. Buying hot air is creepy.  Especially when the pump is anchored by two massive work trucks whose drivers are missing.  It took me 5 tries to back up into the spot and I couldn't open my car door.

My husband plunked down the quarter, and we waited a few minutes for the pump to be turned on.  Meanwhile, he checked the air pressure.  I was rolling on 25 psi, a good 10 psi below optimal.  But now, that's all changed.  Because of my husband, my tires are totally full of hot air.  Just the way I like it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1001 Persian Nights

I went to a wedding late night with several girlfriends.  It wasn't close to home, but truth be told, the bride's mother is much loved and friends from the city were willing to make the nearly hour trek to join the festivities.

Before anyone reading this says, are you kidding - an hour, please realize that Los Angeles is a very big city, and each person here, be they single or part of a family, owns two cars.  And if you've ever been in traffic, which isn't hard to do, you'd know that they were driving both cars at once.

Anyway, picture this: white Jews at a Persian wedding hall having the times of their lives eating Persian food. Everyone, that is, but me.  Sorry, but the food looked weird, and there was some sort of sauce on everything and it smelled different.  Okay, obviously my love of diversity doesn't extend to food.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I love Mexican food, Italian food, Chinese food, sushi, and American fare such as hamburgers and french fries.  But Persian food is just too out there for me.

Everyone loved it and no one has complained of feeling sick.  I think, in hindsight, perhaps I was short sighted.  I should have tried something Persian, like the rice, literally plate after plate of it.  Or the stuffed chicken, which sounds pretty good right now.  All my table mates were oohing and aahing as they ate.

Lesson learned: don't be so judgmental.  Take a chance.  I mean, what the heck.  You can always throw it up later!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Shopping With My Other Baby

I am blessed with one daughter, and everyone thinks she's so special.  Even me.  But I've been spoiled.  Having a passel of sons before her, I've never had to "shop at the mall" for any length of time.  Well, the party's over.

My daughter, who is 11 years old, decided she needed some pencil skirts for Shabbat.  What I really mean is that she's 11 years old going on 25.  But it's my duty to take care of my daughter's material needs, so to keep her quiet, I agreed to go to the local mall, nee football stadium complete with 8 floors.  Seriously, 8 floors - do we really need that many choices?

We concentrated on H & M and Forever 21 - which were the furthest from our parking spot, and pretty much found what we needed.  It only took 2 hours, and I guess I should be grateful she was happy.  Because by being happy, we could stop shopping and starting heading home.

Want to know my fantasy?  That I give my daughter to my sister, the shopaholic with 3 daughters. Talk about a match made in heaven!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Day Of Tears

I woke up this morning feeling something was different.  Couldn't put my finger on it right away, but I was weepy from the moment I stepped out of bed.  What was going on?

I barely made it through breakfast, watching a short documentary on American pilots who fought for Israel in 1948 and just started bawling.  I mean, really, crying over American pilots?

When I got on the road to go to work, I realized it was Martin Luther King's birthday, a federal holiday that leaves the freeways wide open and a pleasure to traverse.  It's also the day my mother died, 9 years ago.  When I realized this, I let loose.

I know it sounds like I don't care, but when a Jew dies, it's the Jewish date that we remember and memorialize.  My mother passed away on the 25 of Teves, which fell out on the 7th of January this year and on MLK's birthday 9 years ago.  Each year it falls out on a different day.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day dashing back to my office to cry, and couldn't even summon up the strength to call my sister to see how she was doing.  No doubt it hit her hard as well.

I know there are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now, but 9 years is a long time to be without your mother.  And it makes me very sad.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Worse Than Childbirth

After it was all over, I thought to myself: This is what you get for neglecting your teeth.  Sheer, unmitigating terror.

Let me back up.  It's been a year since I knew that I needed gum surgery, but always had an excuse not to do it.  Writing my thesis.  Involved in an internship.  You know, stuff.  So when I finally passed the Registered Dietitian's exam and got a job, I ran out of excuses.  Time to get that darn surgery out of the way and get on the road to a better life with better teeth.  And gums.

But it's really not that easy when you have a blood disease called polycythemia vera and you take two baby aspirin a day because you produce too many red blood cells and platelets.  It's a genetic mutation, faced by a tiny percentage of the population who hit the 50 year old wall.  It other words, a heavy bummer.

Besides the occasional optical migraines, I fare pretty well, taking two baby aspirin a day and trying to exercise every morning.  But neither the dentist nor I thought twice about the baby aspirin, or the implications of my disorder when he went about performing surgery on the right side of my mouth on Monday.

Afterwards, I was a bloody mess, which was to be expected.  What was not expected was that the blood did not stop flowing.  I thought I was going to need a transfusion, pretty ironic for someone who can't donate blood.  I wrote my hematologist in a panic yesterday and told him what happened.  Equally panicked, he called and told me to get into his office ASAP (well, he didn't order me quite like that. He's really sweet and soft spoken - unlike me).  He had me intravenously pumped full of coagulant, and then I purchased another massive bottle of the same ($575 - suspiciously not covered by insurance) which I am to take for the next 7 days.

Listen, it was worth every penny.  Not to be bleeding and be able to get to work, where I can make that kinda of money in a few days, was worth it.  But the problem is, I need to do the left side of my mouth in a few weeks.  I'm scared.

My hematologist and I are working out a strategy to prevent this from happening again (guess who isn't eating baby aspirin for a while?).  Still, I'm hard pressed to have this happen again even if I bleed just a little. Maybe I'll feel different when my mouth heals and I can eat hard food again.  Like Jelly Bellies.

Just a day in my life.  Oy vey to the 10th power!