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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


It is so tricky to figure out how much of myself to show to people and when.

When I began my first teaching job as an assistant, the teacher I was working for told me her life story in our first hour together. I appreciated it and learned so much about her right away. I only a little bit felt overwhelmed. On the other hand, I told her I was not comfortable sharing so much right away, as at my previous job I had shared to much and it had caused problems.

It's tricky anyway, but especially in a new place, and with me being as emotional as I am. I'm gradually getting to know a certain colleague at work more and more, and yet I feel I often second-guess what she really means because we haven't established that trust.

My natural inclination is to address this all head-on with her, but then I'm afraid that will make me look weird, if I don't already.

Do other people feel this way?

And of course, the same question goes for blogging. Do I write this stuff here, or in my anonymous blog, or no where at all? I'm choosing to do it here because I know that some of my friends (you know who you are) enjoy it, and I want to keep that part of myself open to you, just as I'd like to see you share it on your own blogs.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Kosher "Maca" Bars

Some naturopathic friends of mine in Portland are making these. Please give them your business.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

From home to home

Returning from home (my parents') is always a very emotional experience for me. I've been a little on the edge tonight. I don't want to ignore it by throwing myself into work, and yet that seems to be the best thing to do.

Although tomorrow, U. and I are going eagle watching.

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Friday, January 27, 2006


Any advice on how not to obssess about work while waiting to go back to it? (I go back Monday.) I've improved over time, but not enough.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

OM (Organize Me) V: Paying bills

Back in Englewood with an enormous to do list and three hours behind with jet lag. Trying very hard to be calm and go slow.

I've just signed up for automatic bill pay on more bills to save paper and time. Let's see how it goes. May save me a good hour/month.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oregonian Always

Mom and I just came back from the zoo. The landscape was so gorgeous with all the evergreens, fog and the orange sky behind it.

We talked about whether I'll stay in NJ forever, which I thinks is likely. But my heart sure brings me back here. I am really an Oregonian. I hope I always will be.

It is painful and beautiful to feel this way.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

No Idea

Today was FABULOUS! I'm in Portland and have spent the day visiting people. (Tomorrow is just for me and my mom.) One of the most important visits was with my meditation teacher and very dear friend. I actually got to sit in on one of her classes today. There was an older woman there who asked what I do. I told her I teach but that I also write. I complained about not having enough time to write.

She said, "You have will have so much time later in your life to do that. You have no idea how much time you have."

She of course doesn't know that just two and a half years ago when I was battling cancer I really did have NO IDEA how much time I had.

"No one knows how much time they have," I said and laughed really hard. My teacher/friend understood exactly what I meant and laughed too.

This and other visits today, besides being fun and wonderful and loving, reminded me how fortunate I am to still be alive.

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In my previous Ushpizin post I said that "The depiction of non-Jews seemed less realistic than that of the Jews." I meant to say "secular Jews" rather than "non-Jews" and "Orthodox Jews" instead of just "Jews." ("The depiction of secular Jews seemed less realistic than that of the Orthodox Jews.")

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Roller Skating

Going out on a limb here on what once was a totally anonymous blog. Today my family went out together. You can see us in these pictures my dad published.

P.S. The evil skater people made me take my hat off in the rink.

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We saw Ushpizin last night.

Things of note:

1. This movie is, as U. puts it, the "anti-Kadosh". Partly because it actually looks like it might not be totally miserable to be Jewish, and partly because they very deliberately show an actual husband and wife with a real relationship and say such things as "the most important thing is to make your wife happy." A little over-the-top perhaps. And not being "controversial" and "groundbreaking" (eg. downright offensive at times) it is not likely to get a standing ovation or an award. That suits me just fine. (I can tell you why I hate Kadosh another time. It's not always the same reasons other people hate it.)

2. Religious Jews, rather than complain about how they are depicted in movies, took the time to actually create a good movie the way they wanted it to be.

3. It was a very joyful film invoking much more thought and emotion for me than, by contrast, Munich which we saw last week, which should have been a Jewish movie and was not, and which should have evoked emotion about a real event, but didn't. (Extremely disappointing and gruesome experience.)

4. I am really curious to hear what other people thought about the concept of submitting to Hashem's tests in life versus allowing oneself to be walked upon by others. I think the movie did a decent job of struggling with it rather than stating a clear answer.

5. The depiction of non-Jews seemed less realistic than that of the Jews.
(Note, I meant to say "non-religious Jews", not "non-Jews...1/23/06. Sorry.)

6. It was a very nice movie. I was annoyed at a recent Shabbos dinner to hear someone say dramatically, "It will change your life." It won't. (And sometimes movies can.) But it has reminded me to at least think a little more about emunah (faith).

7. I was touched by seeing a Baal Teshuvah depicted in the way that he was.

8. I found the humor appropriate, the grief compelling and the miracles fun and joyous.

In short, not bad.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006


I have recently discovered (thanks to alissa) the joys of bloglines. So now I have a long list of blogs that I visit regularly. The addiction! Every time I log on I can see who has added to their blogs and, with a single click, can go check it out.

It makes me feel like Christoff, the God-like figure in The Truman Show.

Except of course I have no actual influence on those other blogs other than a comment here and there from Evenewra or any of my other alternate web identities.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Two more days!!!

Just two more days until winter break. I can hardly contain myself!

I was going to do some planning tonight with my assistant/co-teacher. I called her and I told her I just want to pack instead.

She said, "You're the best!" (She hadn't even eaten dinner yet.)

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Middle Earth Geniza


I just saw my old copy of "The Two Towers..." -- no, the ripped up cover of "The Two Towers" -- sitting out and my first thought was,

"I guess it's finally time for the geniza."

Is that sacrilegious, or just funny?

(A geniza is where you bury sacred religious texts instead of throwing them away when they're too worn.)

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Greening Shuls

So way awesome cool!!!

Look at this COEJL link. Notice the third paragraph about selecting shuls to green in New Jersey. See how it says, "We will select an Orthodox congregation soon."

That's going to be my shul!!!

I was invited to an "environmental committee" meeting at my shul tonight. I knew about it awhile ago, but I thought we were just going to be sitting around talking about using vinegar instead of bleach to clean. (Which is a very good idea, by the way.) Little did I know... instead there were representatives from COEJL there to get us into this program. I'm totally psyched about it. You can read more about it on that link, of course.

I didn't realize until the end of the meeting that we were the first Orthodox shul to sign up (or consider signing up) for it. I said,

"That's so cool!" followed by "That's kind of sad."

More than just greening the shul, I'm hoping we can set an example for other Orthodox shuls as well.

On top of that, many of the people at the meeting are people I know and really like already. And furthermore, I said smart things at the meeting, and even funny ones! People laughed at my jokes!

Who would have thought I could make a place for myself here. I guess everyone did but me.

It's awesome.

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Wacky Thursday

I have about two hours tonight in which I don't have to be doing anything important. I could even clean and cook, not because I desperately need to despite everything else that must be done, but because I just plain have time! Maybe the place will actually look good for Shabbos.

Just one more Daily Show clip and THEN I'll get to work.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Store Wars

This is very impressive. A little long, but also impressive and even inspiring.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

De-Lurking Week

Hold the presses! I'm still going to bed, but apparently this is delurking week. That means you're supposed to leave a comment instead of just reading anonymously. I'd put one of these cool buttons, except I really do need to get to bed on time.

My assignment for you, to help you de-lurk, is to tell me something that you think is beautiful. And tell it in a way that makes everyone else think so too.

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Tonight I'm going to be smart and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I have plenty of work to do, but I'm saving it.

On another note, I"ve been seeing a chiropractor. I was finally able to show her some x-rays today that helped her see just what's wrong with my neck/back/etc. We talked about treatment. She says that my neck problem is also at least part of what's hurting my immune system. She says she has many patients who are teachers that come to her weekly and, as a result, they don't get sick.

Could it be true?


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Shiva Call

An interesting day.

Paid a shiva call today to an old friend who I don't think I've seen since before my wedding over four years ago! We have started to be in touch recently since I've come to New Jersey and discovered we both live in the same state now. This is pretty remarkable since the way that I found out is that the father of one of my students happens to have been best friends with this guy when they were kids. I knew him and he had a major religious influence on me when I was in high school and he was my rabbi.

Drove out over an hour to get there and got lost on the way. Took a turn off the road to get directions and a restroom. While studying a map and getting some very convoluted advice from the gas attendant I suddenly heard a smash like I've never heard before. Sure enough there was a really bad accident on the street right beside us. Thank G-d, it looks like no one was physically hurt, but the young woman who I think caused the accident was totally in shock and was panicking because she was afraid she's hurt the old man in the car. For a moment I thought she might have killed someone she was so upset. She was frantic and embarassed for feeling frantic at the same time. The gas attendants went to help the man and call the police. I stayed by the woman and held her hand and told her she was okay.

I always thought in that sort of situation I would know just what to do, but it wasn't so clear. As it was, the police arrived soon and there was really no reason for me to stick around.

This poor girl though, and I think she is a girl, like early 20's, was a mess, felt terribly guilty and of course is going to have terrible insurance for the rest of her life now in a state that already has bad prices for insurance. Her poor car too. A lovely shiny blue thing she'd named Jerry after Jerry Garcia was totally smashed.

So I went to the shiva and felt oddly happy to see them even though we were there to mourn my friends' father's death. But here I was seeing their kids for the first time since they've been... big kids. And his wife gave me a hug just like old days when I came in. The place was packed as I had arrived right after mincha. But eventually we got to talk. I asked questions about his family history and he asked how my family was doing too.

He also asked how I'm doing. He and one other person from my shul both did that this week in that very sincere voice that says they want to know the truth. And the truth is, I think I'm doing better than I realized. I've had a trying few weeks, but I think I know how to approach that particular problem now. As for everything else... I like my apartment, I love my husband, my whole family (THANK G-D!!) is basically well when just a few years ago we weren't, taking turns getting cancer and worrying about the future every day. Kayn Ahora, is that what I"m supposed to say to make sure I'm not setting myself up for something bad now that I'm showing my gratitude for everything that's going so well?

As always, on my way home, I worried afterwards about how I'd sounded, whether I was upbeat enough, whether I spoke enough, smiled enough etc. I just feel safer behind a keyboard or with children than in front of adults, even (or maybe especially) people I really like. I just need to accept this part of myself because it might not change. It would be nice if it did. I like people so much and these fears keep me away from them sometimes.

Eventually at least some of the worry drifted away when I finally found a good oldies station. There's nothing that great on the dial near where I live. But I was on the NJ Turnpike, not at home, and I heard some wonderful sounds I haven't heard in awhile.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

I'm a Poet and Forgot it

I was driving to work on Friday and worrying about my usual worries (a new set every week). Suddenly this NPR story came on. Whenever I suddenly hear poetry or another kind of author reading his or her writing, my worries freeze in their tracks and I'm transfixed. It doesn't even matter what it's about.

After another really busy and draining week at work I suddenly remembered for maybe the millionth time in my life, "Oh yeah. I'm a writer." That thought always brings a sense of combined peace and urgency.

I'm glad I know that about myself. I have had to let go of other things about myself that I once was but simply don't have time for anymore. I no longer learn languages and, more importantly, I no longer play music. There just isn't the time. Every now and then I have a dream about playing music again, in an orchestra usually. It's being part of something larger that makes me love the music. Although I guess I feel that way when playing alone too. Remember this post?

I'm not even quite sure where my flute is in all of these boxes still unpacked.

But I do write.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006


So as I mentioned in November, I've started an anonymous blog for some of my more personal (and less upbeat) blogging. (Yes, I am doing some even less upbeat stuff, for better or for worse.)

Only problem is, since it's anonymous, I get hardly any visitors. I can't even find it in blogsearch when I enter the title! I've tried writing to some similar blogs with my new pseudonym, but I don't get far.

So what would happen if I told someone the address? Would I write the same stuff? I bet I wouldn't. But I don't exactly want to advertise it to the whole world either.

I know some of you, dear readers, do some anonymous blogging. Any thoughts on this?

P.S. Can anyone tell me how to link to individual articles in my archive and not have to link to the whole darn month?


Monday, January 02, 2006

Anecdotals... so close!

I think I've mentioned here that I have to write "anecdotals" for school. They are basically report cards, but written out in paragraph forms rather than as a checklist. It's about 2 pages per kid. I teach two classes of 18 kids each. So my job is to write 36 report cards except that my assistant has been doing the math portion and if someone else has a kid in their reading group, they write the reading portion.

I've been working on them for about a month but the final deadline is this Thursday. This four day weekend I had 15 to do (and a bunch of others to slightly tweak according to the info. those other people give me.) I didn't manage to do much Thursday, Friday, Saturday night or even yesterday. So I ended up trying to cram 10 in today. It's pretty much all I've done today. I have time and even a little energy but I absoluetely don't have any brain power to think about another kid. I have just 3 to go...

I was hoping I could go to bed with it all done, but I just can't do it. I'm a little proud and a little frustrated. I'll try to enjoy my last hour up of the day.

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