Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kindness On Loan

For the past few days I've been getting these annoying phone calls from my government student loan coordinator.  When I looked online to see what was happening, I noticed that my monthly payment deal with the government mirrored Obama's current relationship with Bibi - filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and dead as fish out of water.

So I called the government office that holds my loan, prepared for a battle over my meager income and my not so meager loan debt.  What I got instead was a warm, wonderful, considerate woman who not only wished me well in my home move (after 16 years, we're off to a new domicile just around the block), gave me amazing advice on how to make my meager loan repayment count, and wished me a wonderful new year.

I started crying - unexpected kindness, coming at a time when I'm stressed out (guess who hasn't packed yet and the moving van comes tomorrow!), and thanked the woman at least 20 times.  I do feel ashamed of myself for having girded for a fight when common sense should have ruled the day.  But then again, two years in and this is the first person (government representative no less) to explain that all the money I've paid so far went to interest, not principle.

Oh well - the bad news was coupled with the antidote to remedy the situation.  G-d bless this young woman, who really cared about a number -my social security number that is, and made my day so much more bright.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting A Call Back

I got it into my head that I need to lose weight.  I had a lot of help getting that idea in there (I'm a Registered Dietitian, my doctor told me to, and my BMI is at a number I'd prefer for my age, not my body weight status).  So I've taken to long walks after dinner, which is really helping.

The other night I was walking down a busy street and found a necklace, a hamsa, which is my favorite symbol.  I picked it up, and ran after several young high school girls who had just passed me by, knowing for sure it was their necklace.  It wasn't.

I went into the kosher market on the corner figuring someone had dropped it on the way in, but no.  I walked out of the store really frustrated (and tired), and expressed my frustration out loud to G-d.  "Here I am trying to do a mitzvah (HaShodus Avedah - returning lost objects) and it's not happening."

I continued walking down the street and guess what?  I found a wallet.  Complete with ID and a swiping keychain for the local yoga studio.  Is the Creator of the World listening or what!?  I ended walking further than expected (there are two yoga studios on this street and it wasn't the closest one), but I fulfilled the mitzvah.

Okay, not trying to say I have a direct link to the Holy One, but it sure felt like it.  Still waiting for Moshiach thought, and I've been asking for that for a long time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thoughts On A Seige

I listen to NPR a lot not because I want to - but because it's the only station I get in my office.  Obviously, with the war raging in Eretz HaKodesh right now, there have been a fair amount of interviews and BBC reports.  But no one yet has dared to ask one simple question.

I can't understand how journalists can interview a Hamas spokesperson and not ask why there are no bomb shelters in Gaza. The technology exists, the will to dig holes or tunnels, exists.  I want to know why (well, I do know why), and I want to world to know why.

There are no bomb shelters in Gaza because the goal of Hamas isn't to protect its people, or stop the occupation.  The goal of Hamas is to get as many of its people killed as possible, because they know the world, like these journalists, want to blame Israel and wring whatever concessions they can out of them.  Like releasing more murderers.

Because the ultimate goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel, but they can't do it because that's not G-d's goal.  G-d's goal is that Israel not only survive, but prosper, while the enemies of Israel whither.  By their own choice the Palestinians have sealed their own fate.  Because in order for Israel to survive, her enemies cannot.

So don't be surprised if the number of dead Arabs in Gaza goes sky high.  That's Hamas' plan.  And if the people of Gaza go along with it, then that means it's their plan too.

If the Arabs bothered to learn Jewish history, they would know that the 600,000 Jews of the Yishuv in 1947 defending Israel's existence is the same number of Jews who fought for the land and won under Joshua ben Nun, 40 years after the end of Egyptian slavery 4000 years ago.  Which means that their attempts to destroy Israel then, just as now, were and are destined for failure.

Am Yisrael Chai. The people of Israel live now, and will always live, Boruch Hashem yom yom.


The Eyes Of Hashem. . .

I cried as I watched this, knowing how I feel personally about the war raging there now.  But the Rebbe is, and always will be, right.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Tonight is Gimmel Tammuz, the third day of the Jewish month of Tammuz, and the 20th anniversary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's passing.  I am a Chabadnik, and remember, in detail, the incredible pain of losing the Rebbe, the Nosi HaDor, the leader of the generation, 20 years ago today.  

As if that wasn't bad enough, on Gimmel Tammuz in Eretz HaKodesh, the bodies of three perfect angels, three holy martyrs to the will of HaKodosh Boruchu, were found.  I cannot help but note that there some significance to this day, and the overwhelming sadness I feel.

I was alone in my office when I checked my email and saw one stating Baruch Dayan Emes (Blessed Is the True Judge - said upon first hearing of someone's passing).  My first response was to wonder who in my community had died.  

I was in shock to learn that Eyal Yifrah (19), Gilad Sha’ar (16) and Naftali Frenkel (16)  had been murdered.  Shocked because I, along with millions of others, held out hope that the animals who kidnapped them had kept them alive to ransom them.  I cried, called my husband to tell him the awful news, and cried again.

And this is how I feel.  If G-d allowed this horror to happen so we could pray to Him, to beg Him, to acknowledge that He is the only One we can count, then mission accomplished.  We did it.  

Now what is G-d going to do for us in return?  We asked for our boys back, and we got body bags.  Time to demand G-d give us what we need.  Bring Moshiach NOW - our redeemer, the holy messiah, so this madness can end now.  We earned it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting the Message Loud and Clear

As I've mentioned before, I work as a Registered Dietitian in an acute care psychiatric hospital.  One of my many duties is to offer group nutrition classes in each of the four units each week.

Over the course of my teaching, I have often encouraged my patients to take advantage of the public library system, for all the right reasons.  It's a clean, quiet place to go that allows free Internet access. Today, the Holy One Above decided it was time for that to change.

On my way home I decided to drop by the library to pick up a book I had on hold.  While close to my house, it's a library I rarely use, and haven't been in for a while.  So I thought it was strange when I entered the building to find myself confronted by a sign saying it was illegal for anyone to harass the staff.

How weird is that?  Real weird, considering it didn't take more than 5 minutes for me to understand what that was all about.  As I waited in line to check out, I watched a young man talk on and on about how the Reference Librarian refused to speak to him, and how all he wanted to do was communicate and she wouldn't communicate.

Everyone else in line, and even the Librarian herself, was trying to ignore him, but he wouldn't stop.  And he wouldn't move.  He stood by the entrance/exit talking to the Librarian who had to be a good 20 feet away.

People like to talk about their "Aha" moment.  This was my "Oh no" moment.  I squinted my eyes to get a good look at him - he definitely could have been one of my patients, although he didn't look familiar.  But he sure acted familiar.  I noticed the It would have been best for all if she had.

Next time I get around to teaching a group at my facility, I won't be advising anyone to check out their local library.  In fact, I may limit my advise to telling them all to stay home.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One More Embarrassing Moment

I took a break from my clinical job today to attend a training session on preparing the dietary portion of my psych hospital for government surveyors.  The class started at 8:30 and the warning was ominous: if you are late, the fine is $100 and you won't be allowed into class.

Which translates to me becoming a frantic lunatic on the freeway, nee parking lot this morning as I scrambled to make the 15 minute drive in 30 minutes (if you've ever driven in rush hour anywhere, you know what I mean).

I had just about made it to the LA-USC Medical Center Patient Services structure (it's more than a building - it's a block long statement) when I ran head-on into the Sheriff Department's security check-point.  That meant lining up all my bags (I could win big prizes on Let's Make A Deal with the crap in my purse alone) on the conveyor belt, and stepping through the metal detector.

Yes, it went off. And yes, they had to wand me.  But that was nothing compared to the "knife" they said was in my purse.

Okay, what is it with men.  I have a purse and a bag (think shopping bag, only fashionable), and the cop couldn't determine from the screen which one I had to dump out?  I ended up dumping out both, which cost me time and my happy countenance, which I knew I'd need to get through the day.  

Happy that they couldn't find the knife (although they did get a glimpse of my personal life), they let me go, although I didn't know where I was and how to get there.  The kindest nurse (Eliyahu HaNavi dressed as a black woman) ever saw my look of distress and led me halfway through the hospital to the meeting room, which I nearly refused to leave for fear of getting lost (I was gonna hold "it" in all day).  

Just another adventure with G-d at my side.  Hopefully, next time, He'll drive.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Discharging My Duties

As a Registered Dietitian, I work closely with psych patients in a locked acute care facility five days a week.  During that time, I assess their nutritional needs, and give nutrition education classes.

In one class last week, I met a patient who got to talking about his love of Chai tea.  Well, I love it too, only Chai Green Tea by Stash.  I promised him a tea bag last Friday, and when I learned he was being discharged today, decided to make good on my promise.

Only one little problem - he was discharged early this morning, before I had a chance to see him.  Oh well, I told myself, sometimes things work out that way and I put the tea bag back in my lab coat pocket and went about my duties.

On one of the units, a nurse was sick, and I decided to give her the tea bag.  So when I bumped into the social worker for that unit, I gave her the tea bag with instructions to give it to the nurse.  As we were leaving the administration building after a meeting, I hear this voice call out: "Hey, you owe me some tea!"

Sure enough, there stood the discharged patient, back to pick up some belongings.  I turned to the social worker, plucked the tea off her clip board, and handed it to the patient.  He was shocked that I remembered him, and that I remembered the tea.

Seriously, what are the chances that I would see this patient in the administration building at exactly this time?  Not very good.  I visit the administration once a day, and that time varies.

G-d wanted this young man to have that tea, and He wanted me to give it to him. I love when that happens!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kindred Spirit

Pesach just ended, leaving me with a cold and the satisfaction of having read a wonderful book.  Kindred, written by Octavia Butler, is set in the modern era (1976) and the antebellum South, a time-travel saga that was hard to put down.

Written in 1979, somehow I missed this novel, which pits Dana, a 20th century black woman, against unknown forces that transport her to 19th century Maryland, to a plantation just in time to save the white master's son.  Over and over again.

Through Dana, and Butler's cast of characters, we get a taste, frightening no less, of slavery in America.  As a Jew whose family was safe on America's shores by 1924, I missed dual Holocausts - one against black slaves in this country, and the other, more well known, to Jews in Europe.  As Dana mentioned between trips through time, it appears the Germans learned a lot from 19th century slave owners.

Perfect reading for a holiday dealing with slavery and redemption.  While I played no part in America's horrific past, I cannot help but feel guilty that it happened at all.  And more than a bit ashamed.

I did not seek out this book.  I found it on the "New Book" shelf, and liked the time travel aspect.  In the end, I found the eye opener about slavery, and all its evils, the most redeeming quality of all.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Some Random Thoughts

I've spent the last few days cleaning my house for Pesach, which always gives me time to reflect about things.  Like, about the earthquake we had last week.

In Southern California, I've been living through earthquakes all my life.  I know the drill. Get away from windows.  Stand in a door frame. Stay away form objects that can fall on you.  Yet, wouldn't you know it, every time there's a earthquake, all I can do is stop, stand still, and ride it out.

Unfortunately, when it's all over, then it occurs to me that I was too close to the shelf with all the nick knacks, or under a tall floor lamp or, what the heck, near the window.  Then I look up, thank the Holy One for saving me AGAIN, and spend the next 10 minutes trying to guess the magnitude.

A few weeks ago I was one of many women who prepared and participated in a Sheva Brocha, or party, for a bride and groom.  There were so many of us because the more people you bring in to prepare food, the less everyone has to do.

I was wearing a pair of hanging earrings that didn't have a backing to them. I also wore a long scarf, and sat draped it in nearly the whole night.  Afterwards, stuffed to the gills, I walked home, all 8 blocks, with my kids (it was Erev Shabbos).  Barely able to keep my eyes open, I quickly prepared for bed.

When I looked into the mirror with a mouthful of mouthwash, I noticed it - I had only one earring.  There was no use looking for it.  That earring could have been lost in the host's house, on the long walk home, or maybe, just maybe, this menopause brain forgot to put both on.

I decided not to think about it because then I would get upset about something I could not change.  Until one week later, when I decided to wear the same scarf for Shabbos - and guess what was hanging in it!  The earring, of course.

As the saying goes, let go, let G-d.  All it takes is practice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Know Your Limitations

I have been burning the candle at both ends lately.  By day, I'm a mild mannered dietitian serving the nutritional needs of my psychiatric patients.  I'm also a professor of nutrition at my Alma mater - CSULA - two days a week.  By night, I'm making power points on nutrition until I literally can't see what's in front of me.

So I have to be realistic.  It was time to order my textbook for next quarter, and I bravely climbed the stairs to the campus bookstore, rolling back pack in one hand, purse draped over the shoulder, 40 extra pounds strapped to my body.  It never occurred to me until I reached the top, unable to breath, that people in wheel chairs can't do this and they buy textbooks.

Barely able to talk, I somehow convinced the bookstore manager to reorder the book I need, even though faculty are supposed to do their ordering online.  Everyone told me ordering online is complicated, and frankly, right now, I don't have a head for complicated  Then I saw it.

The sign to the elevator.  Going down the stairs was surely easier, but not for me.  I was riding down like I should have ridden up.  Only one little problem.  The elevator required a key to operate.

Here's where the pitiful looking old lady gets what she needs.  I walked over to the store room, where the students were working, and asked for help.  One young man immediately rushed to my aid, unlocked the elevator, and waited for it to arrive.

I asked the young man if he needed to key the elevator once the door opened, and he said no.  I smiled politely, knowing that he wouldn't leave because he thought I needed help getting into what turned out to be a barn-sized service elevator. When I said "oh, okay", he smiled back at me and left.

The elevator must not be used often, and the last time it was used it must have been carrying wet wool because I thought I was going to gag in there.  The ground floor didn't come fast enough.

Nothing like coming face-to-face with my limitations.  Elevators, even stinky ones, totally rock.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

In Need of a New Lap

I got it into my head that I wanted a new lap top computer.  You now, something that works and has a big screen. Something completely unlike my old laptop, which is the size of a postage stamp and barely runs at all.

I did what any unknowledgeable person does who knows squat about computers - I asked my brother and my brother-in-law.  They both agreed I should get a Lenovo.  So I did.  Now I just want to cry.

First, it keeps jumping between screens, even if I didn't open them.  I keep getting messages that I have viruses and to purchases the virus protection, which is, no doubt, a virus itself.  I will be typing away and all of a sudden, I'm in another row, typing over something else.  I mean, what am I touching on the keyboard that all of a sudden I'm retyping the beginning of this paragraph?

I keep telling myself to calm down.  There are people dying in Syria.  My Obamacare insurance doesn't kick in for another month. My 89-year old mother-in-law isn't feeling so well.  Snap out of it.  This freaky computer isn't the real problem.

I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life.  I'm grateful to have a computer that works.  I'm grateful that I can see the big picture, every once and a while.  I guess I should be grateful for these fleeing moments of clarity.  I guess you could say I'm having a fleeting moment right now.