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

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Creepy Chicken

A long time ago my friend Jay told us all about The Sith Sense. Now this highly disturbing image is making the rounds of the Burger King marketing world as well as the blogosphere.

Please note: I should either be lesson planning or sleeping right now.


Monday, September 26, 2005

The Survivor Closet

I've finally started "coming out." For me that can mean telling people either about being Jewish, being a writer, or about being a cancer survivor. In this case, I mean the latter in every way. And I'm doing it in almost every venue available to me.

As I wrote in Discomfortable Disclosure (scroll down on this link) and in so many other places, it's really hard for me to figure out how to tell this part of myself, and yet it's really important. Well, now I've eluded to one person at the shul by directing her to my blog for a different entry, and more directly told someone else by sending my link to Now She Could Fill My Heart since it related to a conversation about teshuvah (repentance) and Rosh Hashanah. This person then introduced me to someone else who is 10 years out from a similar but far worse diagnosis.

Then today I told someone from school. It felt weird but appropriate for the conversation we were having as she gave me a drive home, and in fact she pulled over so we could finish the conversation rather than rushing me on. I appreciated that. It really felt good to suddenly be heard so clearly.

I've also told the woman who runs the gym I go to. She was talking about Team In Training which a few colleague friends ran for me in the Seattle Marathon of 2003.

Why I am doing all this now? It was inevitable eventually. I've known that for a long long time. And it also connects to my being back at work full-time for the first time since my diagnosis 2 1/2 years ago.

But I think this is also about the month of Elul and the chagim (holidays) within it. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are all about life and death to me. More than any other holiday they remind me that everything we have is temporary and that every day counts. You've heard these thoughts a million times, and hearing them from me won't necessarily help you through your day, but there are some mornings when I wake up and just really really get it. Those are hard days, terrifying days. But what I love about the high chagim is that by the time I'm all done with all those hours in shul, I really do work myself into a place of completely surrendering my fate to G-d, whatever that might mean. How long can it last? My ego comes back within hours or even minutes of Neilah (the final service of Yom Kippur). but the taste of it does stay available for the rest of the year if I can call on it.

My entries are getting pretty serious lately. I feel conflicted about that. But already it's so hard to show the intense and serious me to new friends here, I feel safer doing it here to old friends and even strangers. I want to be honest about what I think and feel. (And I AM editing out plenty.) So there it is. Gentle feedback is welcome.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ice Cream For Life

I've been having a hard time adjusting to work the past two weeks. Mostly I guess it has gone perfectly well, but he work load is so difficult. The last time I was working full-time as a teacher I had to quit because of the cancer diagnosis, and to this day I can't help but feel the cancer was linked with working too hard.

So here I am two years after a wake-up call that I could lose everything in a single moment. Yet people still work like they have their entire lives ahead of them to appreciate at some future time. I'm trying to make a good impresson to my new employers as well as stay faithful to what truly needs to be done in an occupation that I love and that brings meaning to my life. And as a result I sometimes feel like I'm working way way way too hard again, and can't slow down unless every one else does too.

Recently I joined a gym because I want to stay healthy and happy and live a long life.

Today I walked to one of Englewood's special features, a Ben & Jerry's place 15 minutes away and enjoyed a cone of double fudge chunk... just in case I don't live a long life. It was worth every minute, every lick, every double fudge chunk.

Hope this wasn't too morbid. I think it's something everyone ought to consider now and then, especially during Elul. I expect I might just write more on it in the future. There is still a lot more left to say.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Taylor Mali

Rare have I been fortunate to fall for REALLY contemporary poets, but now I am head over heels. Taylor Mali is a teacher poet whose chapbook What Learning Leaves totally inspires me. (In the first of those two links click on the audio poems and then click on "What Teachers Make." An almost embarassingly satisfying piece. This guy besides being a teacher and writer is apparently "...the only person to have won the national poetry slam championship three times."

Tonight I'm thinking about this poem:

More Than Sleep

          the body craves
the act of falling into sleep.
the falling takes us farther
than the fall.

I cannot write a love poem
without feeling love, like sleep,
is at last an act of falling,
a putting out of hands
and hoping
never to feel again
that solid

I'm thinking of it because as tired as I am, I don't want to go to bed tonight. Don't want to give up today only to wake into tomorrow.

But as for love...

One more poem tonight.
My favorite of his so far is Undivided Attention.


Saturday, September 17, 2005


Friends have told me that they wanted to comment on here but couldn't because it was "members only." I've changed that now. Anyone who wants to comment can do so...

as long as they aren't a filthy spammy spammer!


Friday, September 16, 2005

Wild Turkey

First full week of school is over now. I'm so relieved to be moving into Shabbat now. This week I felt like I was made up of schedules and papers and procedures and clocks moving by too fast. I kept sort of wondering where I, personally, had gone. Wondered if there was anything left of just ME.

There was a wild turkey at school out on the lawn we use as a playground. The children went berserk trying to run over towards it. I did my best to huddle them together and explain that in nature, the best way you can see an animal is to be quiet and respectful. If you run towards an animal, waving your arms and screaming, it will just get scared and run away.

I like my way of dealing with that. It was interesting (and annoying) to see how other teachers dealt with it.

One simply said she was a little worried about it for the kids' safety. I've got no problem with her worrying that although I was quite happy to see them watching wildlife.

What annoyeed me was the teacher who responded to the children's cries of "There's a wild turkey," with the words, "Oh good. I'm hungry." I felt that was disrespectful. I guess it was supposed to be funny. Am I being sensitive? Perhaps. And if so, I'm proud of it.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Damn Spam

Darnit. Have to setup Word Verification now that people keep spamming in my comments.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005


So I try to stay kind of anonymous on here, but I also have lots of friends who read this blog. I'm going to take a risk and let you see the cool place where I live.

By the way, haven't written much lately because I'm completely immersed in school right now. Always a big question about what is appropriate to say on here about anything to do with school for anonymity sake and professionalism.

Although interestingly, I've only told one local person here yet about my blog at all.

And have not yet discussed with anyone except doctors my cancer history. No reason I need to right now, but it still interests me that I haven't. As I've said before, I just don't know how to bring it up and yet often really want to find a way to do so. Coming up on the two year anniversary of remission. Not sure how I'll celebrate if it's still a secret then.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Safe and Sound!

In my entryNew Orleans I wrote about a friend about whom I was worried. I just got an email back from my query. She's alive and well, staying with a friend in Oregon. She even says she has a picture up of the two of us when we were kids! Well, she says it is or WAS hanging up on her refrigerator. I just need to get her phone number to reconnect with her and find out how she handled the storm. I'm so happy.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mercury in Tuna

This site helps you calculate how much tuna you can safely eat and not have too much mercury.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Fridge Poem: Upon a Kitten Becoming a Woman

"Enervate This Ferocious Poison!"
Bellows Kitten Woman.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Movie: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

Tonight we went to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. U. had already seen it, but wanted my opinion. I always have very intense opinions about anything related to a children's movie.

So I'll remark on that first... basically I resent any movies that try to bribe children into seeing them by being cute or fast-paced. This movie definitely doesn't do that. I also don't think that scary movies are necessarily bad for children to see, but I don't see myself recommending this to anyone younger than 10, and even then I'd do it selectively. I'll probably feel more strongly about this when I'm talking about an individual child.

But I just want to talk about Willy Wonka, the character, for a second. Now, I'm at a disadvantage because 1. I barely remember the book and 2. I barely remember the Gene Wilder version of the movie. However, I do remember enough to have seen the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka as being both amazing and menacing. This Johnny Depp Willy Wonka is wacked out and pathetic instead. He's this powerful magician and this meek little boy wound up together. I'm not sure I liked seeing him reduced like that. Now, as always, Johnny Depp was fantastic at the way he played it, but that's beside the point.

There's this other piece too that has to be said, which is that there is no way to watch this movie and not think of Michael Jackson. The movie makers claim that there were no intentional parallels. However, it's really hard not to see it. Which on one hand is fascinating and, on the other hand, a shame. The last thing I want to do is worry about Charlie being in danger by being left the favored child with Mr. Wonka at the end.

OK. I know that that is gross and disturbing. But we had dinner with some nice people on Friday night who said just that... that they wanted to enjoy the movie but couldn't because of the parallels they couldn't help but draw.

As for me, I saw plenty of flaws in the movie itself. Come on! What are these flashbacks? We don't need explanations for this fascinating character. And did he plan the demises of the other 4 children or not? But I enjoyed it all the same. I love Tim Burton's art and that's just all there is to it.

Finally, one last point. Anyone can see that this story is a bit of a morality tale about good, modest children versus bad, spoiled greedy ones. But I don't think that was the only reason why Charlie is favored over the other 4 children. He is the only one who still has imagination. I have to say I was moved when the fourth child is explaining how Willy Wonka is wrong about how science works and that candy is stupid, and Charlie says something to the effect that candy doesn't need to have a point. While the other children don't appreciate what is around them, Charlie is in constant awe.

It's a great message. if you don't have imagination, you can get drowned in chocolate, blown up like a giant blueberry, dragged away by squirrels or transported into a TV by those who do.


Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

It's been so weird to be so occupied with preparing for the school year and getting annoyed with the daily problem of a long driving commute, needing a new printer, still unpacking boxes etc.

while people are starving and looting in New Orleans.

I had a good friend when I was a kid who always really fascinated me. She was one of those polar opposite people who just leaves you in awe. While my mother was trying to encourage me to dress more girl-y, this friend's mother was trying to stop her from wearing make-up. She was social, even popular. I was shy and withdrawn.

I haven't had any contact with her since 1997 or 1998. I remember talking to her on the phone from my apartment in Oberlin after her mother died in a terrible accident. Afterwards I lost her number, but I knew she was in New Orleans. She's one of those rare friends that I do search for every few years although so far with little success. Yesterday I googled her. I found her name as a contact person in a catering business in New Orleans.

I wonder if the place is even standing now.

There was an email address, so I shot a note to her.

And then I went on with my day, cooking dinner, etc., while things are completely upside-down in place not so far away.

U. suggested we go out and get gas before the prices go up. So I went out last night. Not only were the prices up, but the two cheaper kinds were sold out. The delivery truck never came in the afternoon. And meanwhile I have a daily half hour driving commute to my new job.

I wonder what's next.

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