Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Shabbos finally

We're in Pittsburgh now, with access to email but not on my laptop. So all of my entries for the past couple of days will have to stay unposted for now.

Have a good Shabbos in the meantime (if you do Shabbos). If not, take a break for fun.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Day 4 Continued

We just crossed over into Minnesota. This is the second time zone we’ve crossed. We’ll cross the third tomorrow near Chicago. It makes my heart speed up just a little. We’re well past the gorgeous mountains of Montana and all the closer to busy cities.

Right now there’s just cornfields everywhere. We had an unexpected adventure today when we visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. The ONLY Corn Palace in the WHOLE WORLD. U___ and I looked at each other and smirked, “Well duh!” It’s basically a building covered with corn, but very intricately. Different breeds of corn are combined into mosaics of different important moments in history. Impressive as it was, I’m still bewildered of how anybody thought up something like this.

We really wanted to make time today, so we breezed in and out really fast, but I just couldn’t resist the doll museum across the street. I bought myself a little something and paid the $5 for a quick run through the museum. I asked how long it takes. They said if you read everything and look really closely, you can take about 2 hours. Others breeze through in 15 minutes. I covered the whole thing in about 10. Normally I like to take my time and really linger, but this trip I’m fully aware of just how far we have to go. Every minute off the road means another minute longer before we reach our destination(s) both for the night and for the week. We’re hoping that if we cover a lot tonight and tomorrow we’ll get to have a quick run south of Cleveland to our alma mater, Oberlin. So to get that done and make it to Pittsburgh by Shabbos, we really have to move.

In any case, I still enjoyed the museum thoroughly and don’t regret doing it so quickly.

Sadly, we also passed the exit for the Laura Ingalls Wilder house. I really wanted to go. And we agreed that if it wasn’t too far off the road we could do it quickly. But the exit number that had been mentioned on the sign for the house never came. I think it may have been blocked by construction. Too bad. Win a few, lose a few.


Day 4

July 27, 2005 2:30 PM

South Dakota is long and it’s boring. Our fourth day of traveling is starting to wear on us a little. A__ (cat) was absolutely miserable about me packing her up this morning. She saw it coming too. Whereas last night she was purring and playing with me, today she avoided me steadily. It didn’t help that I had to give her monthly dose of flea medicine which made her more distrustful. By the time I actually had to pack her up she was struggling so much I had to give her anti-anxiety medication for the second time on the trip. Poor thing.

This morning we hit Mount Rushmore . We stayed close enough to it that we were able to leave A_____ in the room while we went to check it out. U___ has been wanting to go for years. And as excited as I was about actually getting to stop at a famous attraction, I was a little cynical.

“Why would anyone want to carve people’s heads into a perfectly good mountain?” I protested until I realized I might jeapordize enjoyiment of the site for both of us.

It’s an amazing sight. It really is. Big and impressive and artistic all at once. I was most fascinated to see the photos of its construction (including Roosevelt’s original structure to the left of Washington that had to be struck down because of poor quality granite) and a model of how the sculpture was first intended to look. I also really liked a photo of a young guy whose job it was to sit at the top of the mountain and take radio instructions from below to relay to the workers. What a cool job that would have been!

I think part of my resistance to the site was that I wasn’t sure what to make of the choices of who were carved into the site. But as we walked along the path I heard a father pointing up at the mountain and asking his son,

“Do you know why Lincoln was important?” When the boy said no the father continued, “He held the country together…” was the beginning of his explanation. Suddenly I was able to think seriously about the importance of those four men. In our generation, presidents actually encourage bipartisanship (while accusing the other party of discouraging unity), I realized that these four guys actually cared about America and it’s people and were responsible for creating everything good about this country today. As the brochure says, “Borglum [the artist] declared that they represented 150 years of American history, including the birth [Washington], growth [Jefferson], preservation [Lincoln], and development [Roosevelt] of this country.” I can’t help but be especially appreciative to Roosevelt, because without him, national parks like this one, Yellowstone etc., might never have been built.

As many complaints that the world has about America – and many are appropriate complaints – this is a great place. We have an impressive history and I’m inspired right now to understand it better. I want to know more a bout both our successes and our failures towards being a land of justice and democracy.

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After Little Bighorn

That was a brief visit. We really have a lot of ground to cover, but I took Aloe in her cage with us and we went to the visitor center and heard the first part of a “Battle Talk.” We would have liked to stay more if not for our rush to get on the road and concern for all the stuff we’ve left in the car.

I have a real weakness for historical sites. Oddly, I’ve almost always done really poorly in history classes and I find most history books really hard to read. But I love personal accounts of historical events and time periods and I go crazy over artifacts. In a rfairly recent archaeological dig of Little Bighorn a skull was found. They were able to match up it to a photo of a real U.S. soldier and reproduce his head and face based on the two combined. There were tons of army casings too, and what interested me the most, an army fork.

More than most sites I’ve been to, the historical information at this site was intentionally vague. A map they gave differentiates between troop movements that they actually know and those that are “conjectural.” Apparently no one knows for sure just how Custer’s last stand took place, and any theories are charged with controversy about how to portray the battle fairly.

Now we’ve just crossed the border into Wyoming. This first mile has been just as breathtakingly beautiful as Montana. But every day, every mile takes us to a new home that is so far away from my family and my latest batch of friends. It’s exciting. Good things await us. But I can’t deny that it’s still scary and in some ways grows even more intimidating as we get closer.

I keep wondering about what culture shock I’ll experience.

I keep wondering, what will be beautiful to me in our new home.


Days 2 and 3

Written on July 26, 2005
2:45 PM

Days 2 and 3:

As I write this (offline), we are near the SE tip of Montana, just past Billings, on our way South into Montana. Today’s destination (hopefully): Mt. Rushmore.

Last night in Bozeman I didn’t have a chance to write up a blog entry. We had a rough night with some internet complications etc. Today is a gorgeous day and we’re continuing happily.

So yesterday was all about driving through gorgeous Montana which we both love. We did this before on the way back from Yellowstone 3 years ago. There’s nothing like the rolling hills, fields as vast as oceans and stunning sunsets. Mostly the weather has been bright and beautiful with blue skies and white clouds. The exception was a patch yesterday of stormy weather that pelted hail onto our car beneath one big black cloud. (The third grade teacher in me has been educating my husband on the different types of clouds, and that was a rocking cumulonimbus cloud if ever I saw one. We got one awesome view of a lightning bolt. Sadly, there’s no way in hell I could have caught that on my camera.

Incidentally, please forgive the smashed bugs on the windshield.

We stayed last night at a very-well placed hotel in Bozeman, home to Monstana State University. Across the street was a Safeway and next door was a food co-op. I don’t usually enjoy routine grocery shopping all that much, but it was like coming home to be in this place. All the organic stuff you see in my old “Wild Oats” in Portland, including my favorite “Seeds of Change” salsa, Morningstar Farm soyburgers and more. A lot of that stuff could not be found in Vancouver so, again, this was a homecoming for me. (Naturally I wonder how easy it will be to find that stuff in New Jersey. At least I know they have Tillamood kosher cheese at Trader Joe’s in New York.

A. is holding up. Once again she got out of the car yesterday evening with shaky legs, but she has been doing fine without any meds. I feel sorry to put her through this, but am impressed by her resiliency at the end of each day. It’s a lesson in parenthood, really, to accept that someone you care for and love is having a rough time, but to just help them manage it without worrying over them. I think this is okay for her.

So right now, as I write this, we are approaching exit 510 to the Little Bighorn Battlefield Little Bighorn Battlefield. We are really gunning it today to try to make up for some lost time in getting to Mt. Rushmore, but the signs along the road have been p;ointing us to this historical site for the last hour. How can we resist.As we drive towards it, there’s a Little Bignorn Casino to our left. Weird.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Day 2: The Joy! The Agony!

Nothing like waking up well-rested on the first day on the road.

(I'm going to start using initials here. I want to just say names, but I"ve been avoiding that just because a blog is so public. So...)

U__ went down to see what was a available for breakfast. English muffins! Yay! Checked again. Not Kosher. Sigh.


Day 1 continued

So we made it to Ellensburg. My head is killing me from this fast.

Such beautiful mountains off I-90 in Washington. It was hard for me to concentrate on the road while passing them. I don't often realize how 2-dimensional faraway mountains appear until I'm driving right through some that just suddenly have so much texture. I couldn't get my eyes of the shadows being reflected on these royal landforms.

So now we're in a little motel off the highway. Cat's exploring. I'm proud of her for drinking water as soon as I put it out for her. I was worried she wouldn't. She's a tough kitty. Hope she doesn't mind 6 more days like this!

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Day 1: Out of Vancouver, Into Washington

Wahoo! Internet access in the hotel room.

I wrote the following at about 4 PM in the car while I was the passenger.

We’re on the road at last!

Despite the Fast of Tammuz we’ve been working hard all day to make this happen. We cleaned up the apartment, said a few goodbyes, hit the road and are now driving through Washington. My cat became really frightened once the last piece of furniture disappeared and there was no longer anywhere to hide. So I went ahead and gave here a dose of anti-anxiety meds for cats that my vet had prescribed to her. She’s taking to it fine and is just sort of resting in her carrier in the back of the car as I write this. She has wandered out a few times to check out the car, but prefers to lay low.

When we approached the Peace Arch we were warned by the sign of a 90 minute wait. Unbelievable. Usually the cars start as far back as the arch itself, but now they stretched all the way back to the duty free shop. It only took us an hour to get up to the window. (Only!) But then another hour to get them to let us bring our car back into the country. Mostly uneventful. Just long.

Nothing else to tell so far. Leaving Vancouver felt strangely normal. Nothing I have seen today is new. I have not yet traveled on any new roads or been to any new towns. At some point I will know that Vancouver and my friends are behind me. But I’m not there yet.


Friday, July 22, 2005

For the Best

I love those little moments when you know that a difficult thing was obviously for a good reason.

One of the stresses this week has been about trying to get all those books to Point Roberts. (See entry titled P.O. Boxing.) As a result of my having had to wait until today, I got to send it directly to my new apartment because I have finally been able to sign the lease! The ones I already sent are waiting for me in Pittsburgh. This other batch -- 10 boxes -- won't have to travel any further!

Thanks, G_d!


Empty Apartment

You'd think it would be tough to be in an empty, bare apartment that I've enjoyed, but...

When I first came to Vancouver I was hoping to stay for a number of years, but knew I might have to pick up and go again in a year. Sure enough, that's what happened. So when I first came into this place I really looked around and said to myself,

"This is what the apartment looks like empty. It will look this way again when I leave."

It's made a big difference. I'm spending such a small percentage of time on sadness over leaving, and investing all my energy into getting a look at the empty inside of my new apartment in Englewood.


And now the cleaning...

So finally I'm cleaning the place. I wish I had cleaned this well during the year. It looks nice. I didn't have time to then though. I also know I'm being a little obsessive. I want my full deposit back and I've had managers ding me on giving the deposit back for lots of stupid stuff before. Once it was for being Jewish. Yeah, that's a whole story I'm not going to get into right now. I don't expect it to come up again this year.


Thursday, July 21, 2005


So today has been one of those days when nothing worked out just the way I wanted at first -- and boy was I stressed -- but then it all started to go okay. Without giving the whole saga, the movers are through at last, and I was finally able to sign a lease on my apartment (which has been lost in the mail for over a week!) and then to finally start forwarding my new address to people.

In order to celebrate all of that, and to take a much needed break, and to say some goodbyes that I needed to say, I headed over to Stanley Park. I had this sudden very strong desire to visit the aquarium. This is probably mainly because I've been really sad about the recent and sudden death of Tuvaq, the young beluga at the aquarium. I went to the beluga show where I felt very morose. And they didn't mention Tuvaq at all during the part when I was there. (I have seen the beluga show 3 times already and just wanted to see them, not their performance, so I wandered off. I don't know what happened after I left.)

The whole experience of the aquarium was pretty melancholy overall, though not unwelcome. I do well with that feeling. I'm sad to leave. But also I was disturbed at how crowded it was. People kept tapping on the glass, trying to get different animals to react. Like it was really important that the creatures responded to them personally or put on a show. I found myself looking really deep into the water and imagining the peace of being in such a quiet place. It bothered me that people were so willing to interrupt it with their tapping fingers. I guess I take a little bit of pride in my ability to just watch something to appreciate it -- whether it be an animal or a child. Sometimes watching from a distance and letting that being just "be" in front of you is the best way for you to love it.

Several people have offered to go to Stanley park with me, but I think it was important that I do that one on my own.

On a final note, I realize this entry sounds like I'm really down. I'm actually not. Just feeling kind of quiet and focused right now.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005


And it's a no.

Movers called and said they weren't coming until 4 on Wednesday. (Today) Lost my motivation.

Won't take long today...

Or will it?


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Will I won't I Will I Won't I Will I Won't I
finish packing today?

Right now it looks like I will...


P.O. Boxing

Before I say anything else I just need to make a plug here. The storage locker where we have been keeping our stuff this year is a fantastic place. There is a guy named Ron there who is so incredibly nice and helpful. He helped me box up some of my very difficult possessions and is just a really kindhearted guy. So if you ever need moving help or storage, use Reay's.

I cleaned the storage locker up today to make sure it is ready for the movers who come on Wednesday. I also hauled out a whole bunch of boxes of books. I've learned that it's cheaper to mail them in the U.S. via "media mail" than to have movers move them. So down to Point Robert's I went. Got there late and only had time to send 6 boxes before the post office closed, so I'll need to drive down again another day, probably Thursday when I'm not thinking about movers anymore.

Anyway, even with the slight lack of success in completing the job, I felt really good about having accomplished at least part of something that I had been worrying about. So I went down to the beach and just sat and listened to the water. It is a rocky beach, not sandy. So when the water pulls away after a wave, the rocks tumble together and sound like a deep wind chime.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Sort of a stomach feeling

There's a very particular feeling that comes in the following scenario:

You're driving in a familiar place at night.
You've just been with people, or in a place, that you really enjoy.
And everything feels cheerful and like home
and you're in love with the moment.
And you remember that in a set amount of days, say a day, or two, or a week
you will leave that place.

Even in the times when you know you will come back, it feels very final.
You know whatever is coming might be really good,
and maybe you feel really excited about the future as well as the present.
But whatever is coming
it won't be this.

After you've lived the feeling a lot of times,
you learn that it's ok that you won't have "this" again.
But the feeling is there anyway.
And it needs to be felt.

And it needs to be let go of
to come or go again.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Later That Day...

So I finished my garage sale with about 1/5th of the earnings of last week. No biggie. Someone will be calling about a desk I've really needed to sell. So that's good.

Went to a big party at Vanier Park. Another friend of mine is also moving and it was her idea to do this gathering not exactly in our honor, but not exactly not in our honor. I was in such a bad mood about moving that I wasn't really that excited about going, but once I got there it was so beautiful and so very nice. Kites flying. Perfect weather. A wonderful baby and a wonderful dog to play with.

Now I have a dinner invitation. Part of me says I should refuse and just work work work now. But I think I have needed to just totally unwind today to help me face tomorrow.

Movers come on Wednesday, so it's a little risky. But I'll skip my Tuesday night yoga if I have to.

In a week, this will be over and we'll be about to hit the road.


Moving Pain

Last week I had an awesome garage sale, as you know, and sold lots of stuff. For today's I just want to keep bringing my stuff back in and not selling it. And everytime someone buys something from me, I feel like I'm selling it for too little.

Before Shabbat I made major progress with the move. It shouldn't take many more hours to finish packing.

But I'm NOT in the mood. I just want to be done with this.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Paper Trail

As I sort through all this STUFF, I'm noticing for billionth time in my life that I seem to always be leaving a paper trail of who I am and who I've known, what I've done, where I've been. This includes this blog and the fact that I was so tempted to write earlier in great detail about the paper pile I discovered tonight in what I thought was a bag of piano music. That I haven't thrown out some of those things until now is incredible: My old books in which I recorded how much piano I practiced when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and addresses I kept of people who I don't want to see again for very good reasons, or who have moved away or even died.

If I had thrown these things out ages ago, I know I wouldn't miss them. But something about the fact that I've had them so very long makes me feel a little guilty when I let them go.

Who is this paper trail for anyway? If I'm meant to remember those people, I'll do it in another way. And I remember piano fine without the practice books. Do we all have delusions about people picking up the puzzle pieces of our lives and trying to put them together to figure out who we were?


Monday, July 11, 2005

Successful Day

This morning was so dreary, I was quite certain that most of the things that happened to day would go poorly.

I was very wrong. I won't go into just how many things went right, but I got a LOT of stuff done today, pretty much all out of the apartment, so not much packing time.

I just have to say that one of the best parts was dealing with the rest of my books at this great store my friend told me about, Characters. I had already taken quite a few books to another used bookstore, but this one took a bunch that had been previously rejected, and also agreed to donate the ones they wouldn't buy from me. (So I wouldn't have to schlep them now!) They give credit only, instead of money. So I used it on audio books for the trip and a few CDs. Much lighter than buying new books. And hopefully I can trade them later for new audio books with Ashgrove. (Yes, that's a plug, as I'm friends with one of Ashgrove's family members and now he'll probably read this blog entry. Am I right?)

Finally at the end of the day I decided to use up a Chapters gift certificate my husband gave me for my birthday. It only took me AN HOUR AND A HALF to decide what I wanted. (I kept imagining him saying, "Just PICK something." But he knows me well enough already to not be surprised.) I got yet another book tape for the road, and a new set of a magnetic poetry. The "Genius" addition that has really big words. I want to improve my vocab., so this will be fun. Can't wait to break it open in New Jersey. I'll just have to find my dictionary first to help me find out what everything means.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yay kitty!

And I just have one more thing to say about the garage sale today. My cat was SO brave. Normally she is the most skittish cat I've ever lived with. But not only did she come out of hiding and explore the constantly changing apartment even while people swarmed outside... but she also found and chased a mouse!

She didn't catch it yet, but boy she had fun. Sad as I am for the mouse's fear, I'm glad my indoor pampered domesticated cat has had this experience. (Hope my humane mouse traps finish the job by catching it so I can let it outside!)


Not a Salesperson

Had a garage sale today. On Friday I wasn't sure I wanted to, but by today I did. I even forfeited my areobics class to do it. I got accidentally smart about something too. I had spent a few hours on Friday advertising stuff on craigslist, so after Shabbat when I started getting responses, I told everyone who wanted to buy something to come during the garage sale. Thinking back on who came today , I'm not really sure if it made a difference on getting people in to see stuff, but at least I knew what was spoken for.

Some weird experiences during the sale. Some people made fun of stuff I had, which made me feel defensive and small. One guy chuckled when he saw two Elie Wiesel books I had and asked if I knew him. I couldn't tell why anyone would ask that other than someone who was being a subtle little bigot. He bought a few of my other books and kind of haggled with me so fast that he took them for much less than I was selling them for.

Setting prices on things was so confusing. So many people said, "how much is this?" and then when I answered, said, 'Hmmmm," and walked away. Others snatched stuff up so fast when I said the price that I wondered if I had asked too little.

I'm not a salesperson. I feel insecure during it, like my successes or failures with selling the stuff is somehow a reflection on me, that I'm wrong about whatever money amount I ask.

I"m also too honest. I don't want to cheat anyone, including myself. Here's a proof of my record for extreme honesty. I was once in Portland on my way to an ATM to get cash for a purchase I had been in the middle of when I discovered I didn't have enough. A man on the street approached me and grabbed my arm. I had never been mugged before, but that's certainly what seemed to be happening now, so I grabbed my arm back and yelled at him clearly, "I don't have any money. I'm on my way to GET some money." I guess I figured that telling him I would soon have a whole lot more cash was somehow going to prove that he couldn't steal any from me now.

In response, he laughed and let go. If he was trying to mug me, I had foiled him.

I took a different route back, by the way.


Saying Hello to Saying Goodbye

Weird Shabbos. The goodbyes are beginning now. I did a bunch when the schoolyear ended, but today I suddenly realized with a few people that I would not be seeing them again here in Vancouver anytime soon. They are leaving on a roadtrip and will not return until I'm gone.

And I'm noticing the people I wish I'd spent more time with, which is pretty much anyone I like. And still, if I were BETTER friends with them, it would be even harder to leave.

During the week I get my momentum up for the move, just focus on the STUFF to be sold and done.

Then when I can only be with people, and not work on anything, I think about the things that are hard to leave, like them.

And I still haven't made it up Grouse Mountain. Doubting I ever will.

And oddly, one of my very favorite places in Vancouver to visit -- Van Dusen Gardens -- I haven't made it to in over a month, and only slightly regret it. These are all symptoms of leaving.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Strength or Weakness

I've gotten this idea in my head that holding onto "things" is a weakness, somehow not P.C., somehow materialistic and wrong. As a result, I almost gave up a possession of mine that means a lot to me. I finally listened to my heart and decided to keep it. I did not decide out of weakness. I decided from a determination that it represents important things to me. I still feel like I have to defend myself for choosing to keep it but, at least for now, it's the right thing for me to do, even if the thing is big and might cause us to be cramped in our new place. (I think my husband understands. If I'm really taking up too much space with it, I'll just have to find away to get rid of some more OTHER stuff somehow.)

I'm now off to the storage locker to figure out how to package it up safely for the move.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Final Vancouver Fridge Poem

Indifferent Question:
Will Poetry leap here now?

(Interpretation... I'm about to pack up my magnetic poetry. I picked out a few words deliberately and filled in the rest to make this poem. Now into the box it all goes.)

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Storage Crazy

My husband and I spent 6 hours at the storage locker today sorting through stuff. We finished the job pretty much of sorting, but now I have a lot of work ahead of me of giving away, selling or disposing of other stuff. (He will be away, and 75% of the stuff is MINE anyway. The rest is almost all OURS. He's a minimalist. I'm a packrat.) I'm quite pleased with myself that I've gathered about 5 or more boxes of books to send to new homes. Some of the things I'm parting with are heart wrenching -- so much so I don't even want to write about it. Some of the things I'm holding onto, I just know I'll change my mind later. But I've done a pretty good job of reducing the load. Now if we can just get some money for it all.

Incidentally, I was browsing through my other recent blog entries and noticed I haven't said much more about school. The truth is, there isn't much more to say. This year's teaching is very much behind me now as I plough forward. On the other hand, I had such a good time going through my education books that have all been in storage. (Have I mentioned that most of what we own has been in storage during this transitional year?) I can't wait to get my hands on them and actually read them! (Some for the first time. Some to revisit.) Knowing that a school hired me long-distance has so encouraged me to see myself as an established teacher that I just really look forward to growing some more.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Value Village Isn't Helping

First just a quick update for those who want to know. My husband got the job he wanted. He flies back to NY on Wednesday to start the job. I will finish packing and then we will start our roadtrip on July 24th.

So yesterday we sold a bunch of books to a used bookstore and made some decent money. However, as always is the case, a bunch were refused. We stopped off at Value Village to donate them. We had them in a milk crate that we want to keep. The guy said he needed them in a container though. So we got out a cardboard box for him to use. We started to transfer them ourselves, but then he said, "here, this is easier," and he just dumped them in. The books fell onto each other with pages opening and creasing and a book cover getting completely crumpled.


It would be great if we could just donate all our stuff in one place, but it's thanks to disrespect like that that I feel the need to take the time to be choosy about where formerly loved objects go.

Any advice on passing on old dolls and stuffed animals?