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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I'm the sort of person who likes to make a resolution in my life and then stick with it. Some of the changes I've wanted to make in my life have resulted in a lot of success, but others haven't.

One promise I make myself again and again is to cook more regular meals at home. Instead what happens is I make a lot of food for Shabbat which then lasts us through the week with sandwiches and other quick meals to fill in the gaps. Truth is, I usually cook for myself as U. and I have such different schedules and different tastes. However, more than that, I simply don't have time with my busy schedule to cook more, and when I do have time, I use it on other things... like blogging (or putting away laundry etc.)

Here at my grandparents it seems like each day is just sort of about getting from one meal to the next. I realize that part of this is that with us as visitors they might not be sticking to their regular routine. But in the morning we have breakfast, then do some kind of shopping in the morning. Then a quick lunch and nap, then groceries, kill time, and cook before dinner. Right now everyone's out on the back porch and soon we'll open up a watermelon.

I'm enjoying the visit, but it's hard to know what to do with myself. I guess I mustn't forget that just days ago I was rushing to complete too many things in a day in order to finish off the school year, prepare my apartment for a quick visit from my brother and niece (which I realize I haven't written about...), pack and come here.

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I'm in Texas right now with my mom and visiting my grandparents. They live in an area near a place called Wimberly, Texas. The last time I saw my grandparents was three years ago when they were moving from their home in Houston to be closer to my uncle and aunt and their son. (My hair was just starting to grow back then.) So now they live way out here in the country and it's a totally different world.

When you come to the neighborhood where they live you enter a gated off area with a code to open a big fence. The fence is not to keep people out particularly as there is really no one around to come in, but to keep the deer in and protect them from wandering onto the highway. There are so many kinds here including white deer and antelope and they come to my grandparents yard to munch on any spilled bird seed or leftover veggies my grandparents leave out.

I'm hoping to post some pictures eventually but am have still more problems with my camera. Hopefully can get some new rechargeable batteries today that will help it function adequately and I'll be able to post the pictures after I get a new part for the camera.

In any case, one of the most important parts of this trip for me is noticing our interactions -- me with my mom, my mom with her parents, me with her parents etc. It's a lot harder for parents and children to get along than grandparents and children, and I see my mom engaging in similar conflicts and annoyances as I do with her. I tell myself that this is just part of the package of family and the important piece is to be aware and not worry about it. The love is there too. I'm having a very nice time being here with my mom through this and am grateful to see my grandparents.

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Friday, June 23, 2006


My birthday continues... had to go into work very briefly just to meet with my supervisor. My assistant brought me ENORMOUS balloons! No everyone knows it's my birthday!

But on another note, I've written often about the Tenafly Nature Center which has been a total lifesaver for me here in NJ. They are having a raffle and it's not too expensive, so I thought in honor of MY BIRTHDAY I would give them a little press. Please buy a ticket if you can.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Awesome birthday presents

Birthday starts tomorrow but the presents began tonight (it's also my Hebrew birthday tonight so that's fair...)

The first present is that school really is done now! Finished packing. I have one 15-minute meeting tomorrow and then that's it for scheduled school work for the summer! (Yes, I'll still be doing stuff on my own time.)

Then tonight U. and I were going to watch a DVD, but he said he had a phone call at 9. So I worked on some stuff in the bedroom instead and then at 9 he told me to close my eyes and come with him into the living room. When I opened them, his laptop was open and my parents were on the screen. Yes, we have a camera for videoconferencing now! So I spoke to my parents, and then one of my very best friends called me on it. So now I just need to find out who else has the technology and we can interrupt each other during our daily business again. You can even take snapshots with the little camera. I'm hoping to utilize that on Brainsite.

Won't get to DO anything cool on my birthday, but am thinking of more things to do during the summer in HONOR of my birthday. Yay!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

End of the school year

I love June.

Besides a birthday and an annivesary I also get the end of the school year!

The kids went home at noon yesterday and since then we've just been packing up our rooms and having meetings. (Packing up the rooms because we're moving to the final building next year, G-d willing... So far it still needs things like ceilings to cover the electrical wiring.)

What a year this has been. Let's think about this a moment:

Last year at this time I was packing home to move for the second year in a row, and on my way to the place I was most afraid of ever living in. We drove cross-country and arrived on August 1st about three weeks ahead of our moving van. Lived in bare walls right up until just days before the school year began.

It was a very very shaky beginning with challenges ranging from culture shock to a major personality conflict and then to the greatest feelings of inadequacy I've ever experienced. I had to try to understand how to get back into the groove of teaching after a year of still ruminating about cancer and teaching in someone else's classroom in Vancouver. I felt watched closely in my new school and all of my weaknesses were exposed in what felt like my first year of teaching all over again. I then suffered a personal loss that sent me into what I now realize was some depression and some very ill health. (I missed over two weeks of work from illness.)

Since that time I've gradually gotten my feet back, regained my confidence, developed good relationships with most of the people with whom I work including some with whom I once felt threatened. I learned to set boundaries and be proud of myself. More than that, I learned ways in which other teachers admire me if only for my ability to make a song out of anything in the classroom and the courage to play "follow the leader" silently down the hallway with dancing and playing on a rain day.

Blessings small and large seem to be drifting our way.

It's hard to know whether NJ can be home or not, but it certainly seems things are starting to go our way as though this is where we are really supposed to be right now. I remember last year when U. was here interviewing for a job here in NY, and I was in Vancouver we got a phone call from Oregon Public Broadcasting wanting to show Controversial Measures which U. had worked so hard to make. It was like G-d was saying, "That's right... it's not Vancouver where this is going to happen. It's NY. Lekh lekha."

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. (We went out today to see X-Men in honor of the occassion.) I've been thinking about what I've learned, and continue to learn, over the past 5 years of marriage.

I could say flowery stuff about love and romance but that really doesn't fit the way we talk. This will be grittier, but it's about what I find to be a very happy reality rather than a dreamy myth.

In no particular order:

- People are different and have flaws. Part of a shidduch is in finding flaws that are compatible.

- A relationship is like a separate being unto his-her self. This being is totally unique and cannot be like any other relationship-being.

- One of the most comforting parts of reflecting on a relationship is the idea that your particular problems together are no worse than anybody else's. This is similar to accepting your own personal flaws.

- One of the hardest things is to truly hear the person you've married and not the person you thought you would marry.

- Another hard thing is to believe that person when, for example, he say he is "fine." (But he actually often is.)

- One of the most important things is to accept that person. Everyone knows this and yet it can be very hard to sincerely execute. The image of who we think we've accepted often does not match the real person. How incredible to realize you've married a REAL person and not an image.

- You do not have to do everything together. You can have separate lives in addition to living one life together.

- You can believe and value different things.

- You can see beauty in different places and steal share that beauty with the other.

- You can have quality time watching TV together.

- Any marriage that works for you, works just great.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cop Correction

Yet another colleague came into the "cop" debate and this time challenged my assertion that "cop" is short for "copper" as in copper helmets that police officers wear. This other guy said it was Constable On Patrol. I looked it up and found that we were both wrong (though both of our assumptions were also published).

I asked my friend to at least avoid telling this other guy I was wrong. I've got my pride. But I've got my ethics too which is why I'm being honest about it online. Go figure.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oi, Copper!

I got a little stroke to my ego today.

My assistant (who is becoming a very good and fun friend more and more every day) told me that when she was driving one of our colleagues to work this morning they got into a conversation about the word "cop." They were wondering the derivation of the word and the colleague said, " I bet that's something A. would know." (Referring to me.)

I was impressed that she would think I would know something obscure like that and even more impressed with the fact that I actually do know. I believe cops got their names because British police used to wear copper helmets.

Let me know if I'm wrong on that.

Either way, I love having a reputation for knowing stuff like that. Oh yeah, another colleague and friend has a daughter in my class. The colleague said to me one day that every day she learns all kinds of new and weird trivia about me from the daughter.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Road Rage

I don't normally get mad when I'm driving, but...

And this is similar to how some of my students both present and past get so incredibly upset when someone else is not following the rules.

So I was driving to work and was stopped at a traffic light in Englewood. I was first in line and all of a sudden I heard sirens, lots of them.

(People don't stop for ambulances here. It's not consistent with their busy schedules and important obligations.)

I couldn't tell if the sirens were behind me or in the street that was crossing perpindicular to me and I heard people honking too, so I pulled as close to the curb as a could. This fat a-- limo barged past me, wedging into my space, like he was going to cross the road. I could just tell the driver was thinking, "Yeah, get out of the way dumb Corolla girl."

Another couple of feet and he would have been mowed down by a firetruck, ambulance and I think one other emergenc vehicle. As soon as they were gone he zoomed through the intersection to take his precious cargo, whoever the hell it was, to whatever important gold-plated location they were going to.

Why did this make me so mad?

I drove to work afterwards telling myself that I am more elevated than he is.

It only helps a little to feel superior to people who drive in ways that can kill other people. (This includes talking on cell. phones... I'm not going to stop harping on that.)

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Sunday, June 11, 2006


I wish I was as good as my dad is about posting pictures
as soon as they're taken.

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Member Canoe Day

(This photo was taken with a polaroid, but I showed it to the new webcam that I later got on my June 23rd birthday.)

If I've ever doubted the ability of nature to totally renew me, may that doubt now be eliminated.

It's been weeks, I don't even know how many, since I've been to the Tenafly Nature Center. In fact, I had hoped to take my parents there, but on the day I most wanted to, it rained, plus we were completely and utterly exhausted. (I do regret I didn't get to take them there. I guess it wasn't meant to be this time.)

In any case, despite the fact that I felt I had MOUNDS of work to do, I had set aside two hours for the Nature Center today because of Member Canoe Day. My volunteer "boss" had specifically request I come and help out, plus I couldn't pass up my chance for a canoe ride!

As it was, the ride was quite short -- about ten minutes -- but lovely. It was just on Pfisters' Pond which you can see on the homepage of the nature center. (See above.) And afterwards there really wasn't much for me to do volunteer-wise. Sadly, they didn't get that many people there. But the weather was positively gorgeous, so instead I fought, and won, about an hour long battle with a weed called garlic mustard. As I worked I found all my morning worries about the MOUNDS of work I felt I had began to melt away.

I then went on a guided hike of one of my favorite trails. I've never been great at remembering plant names, so try to remember no more than one new one a day at any time that I'm introduced. Today I learned about one with "Virginia" in the name, and sadly will have to ask next time I'm back for the full title.

Now I'm back home and ready to tackle my LAST TWO anecdotals. (Shouldn't take me more than 1-2 hours to finish.) And then while I have lots of filing and cleaning to do, I can basically relax for the day! I might even get to do some personal journaling tonight! Something I've needed to do lately but haven't had time for.

Said goodbye to my parents this morning. It wasn't easy, but it never is. I see my mom again in just two weeks as we're visiting her parents in Texas, but I don't think I'll see my dad again for another 6 months. We went for a short walk together yesterday, but as he said, that's when our best time together seems to come. He and I are both so active and easily distracted. So doing an active and semi-distracting thing together always feels very refreshing and productive.

Meanwhile, my mom left me a beautiful letter. She tried to hide it so I wouldn't see it until she left, but I found it early. Like me, she is able to say better in writing the things she really feels. And like her, I sometimes have trouble completely accepting the sincerity. It's so hard to let someone love you as much as they do. But I'm doing my best, and I was really touched.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

The Visit

About to begin the last Shabbos while my parents are here. It's been so hard to figure out how best to spend the time. Cramming in lots of time together is not ideal as we get tired and it's stressful to worry about how the time is being spent.

But living near each other and seeing each other a little at a time on a more regular basis, like coming over for dinner one night and then returning home, simply isn't an option. I'm gradually becoming more and more willing to accept this. One night I cried and cried about it, feeling frustrated that I needed to work while they're here, but knowing I wanted that regularity too.

A lot of it was guilt. I want to be available for my parents and I feel disloyal if I don't cherish every minute. But the truth is, I guess they don't need it all that much, I'm learning (or re-learning, as I've had this realization many times before). It's just me forgetting how much I really do like being an adult and living independently. It's me thinking I should be wanting to be a child at home again. And also learning that they were adults together before I was ever even conceived and they are just continuing that life while I have mine.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I said recently that I was making a point of writing once a week and of course this last week that didn't happen. My parents are visiting for one week only (since Shavuot) and I've only two weeks left before the end of school with much much much much much to complete. It's not that nothing is happening, it is that too much is happening.

Just quickly I'll say that on Sunday my parents and I wore ourselves out by going to the Israel Day Parade. The school where I worked marched there for the very first time. Very cool to see and my students looked so little!

Very cool to be part of a parade that was meant for ME (and a whole lot of other Jews too of course).

We also went to MOMA.

Exhausted by the end of the day.

And didn't see my parents at all yesterday because after work I had to go to the school's annual fundraising dinner. Fun but late, as is writing on here when I should be getting ready for my day.

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