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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Scattered Thoughts on Tisha B'Av 2012

Tisha B'Av is a hard day inso many ways. It's hard because it is meant to be painful. But what I discover each year is that -- thank God -- as depressed as we may seem to be about trivial things, we really are designed to strive for happiness. As I sit and imagine suffering throughout history I can't help but assume that those people probably very much strove for happiness in any way they could find amidst their suffering. It's counter intuitive for us to force ourselves into sadness despite whatever wonderful life we have before us. So it's hard to have such a sad day, and it's also technically difficult to make it meaningful.

I guess one of the benefits of doing it, though, is to help us appreciate what we do have in our lives in the end of the day. And the time we spend in mourning is really not for our benefit anyway, but is for the benefit of those who suffered and were martyred throughout our history.

I went this morning to hear a rather famous speaker do Kinnot. I stayed for 45 minutes and then had to leave. He was talking about the Beit Hamikdash and trying to talk about Tisha B'Av's relevance in 2012, but I just couldn't do it. I'm not offended, but I can't relate in any way. It's far too abstract. To me the tragedy of the day is about how long is wrong in our world right now. People are hungry, the earth is poisoned daily and gives people cancer, greed and hate in the world lead to actually wars and murder. Worse, most people spend most of their time blind to it and without doing any good.

My ideal Tisha B'Av would be like this. Read the kinnot, discuss past suffering, but discuss present suffering too -- and not just of Jews, of the whole world. Use video technology to help us see it, visions from the past as well as visions of the present of people trying to live in an unjust world, a world in which God depends on us to be partners in order to make it right. Then, in the afternoon, we'd do something about it. I don't know what. I'd have to leave that part to one of the many organizations working daily to bring about Tikkun Olam, but if it means lobbying for legislation or fundraising or what-have-you... that's how we could spend the day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Awesome 5-year old Dialogue

ND: I’ll make you a deal. Give me a popsicle now or I’ll get it by myself.

Me: That’s not a deal. That’s a threat.

ND: Okay. It’s a threat.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Las Vegas

I'm not entirely sure what to say about Las Vegas that hasn't been said before. It shouldn't be here but it is. I'm writing this post after two nights here. I'm sitting next to a window way up on the 27th floor in a luxurious hotel room intended for someone very classy who likes shiny things, darkly lit rooms and and alcohol. It's kind of fun. It's utterly weird and it doesn't fit in any way, shape, or form into my environmental sensibilities.

Out the window I see the Luxor -- the giant Egyptian pyramid with the Sphinx in front which the taxis can drive under to pick up customers. I see Excalibur -- the medieval castle that looks as colorful as if it had been made of legos. I see the artificial tops of the Empire State Building and Chrysler building. I see the green MGM building where last night we went to watch David Copperfield who did not choose anyone from our party to volunteer with us at least in part because none of us looked slinky and sexy enough. I see helicopters taking tourists to view the sites. I see a church in the distance probably designed for weddings. I see the airport. I see the distant hills that were here long before and will be here long after we all doom ourselves to destruction.

Yesterday the three of us looked out the window to see what looked like a clean trifold paper towel that had somehow escaped someone's hand. It was floating down in the atmosphere beside our hotel. The varying gusts of wind carried it this way and that, first closer and closer to the adjacent wall of our building that we can see when we look out to the left. It came closer and closer with us rooting for it to actually touch the building or land on one of the smaller buildings below.

"I see it's reflection!" "It touched down!" U., ND and I called out to each other even though we were standing shoulder to shoulder in the same room. Then, "look! It's floating up again!" In a surprising gesture that left me wondering whether or not it really wanted to rest it soared back upwards, touched up against the Luxor, slid along its slide, then puffed itself up and up above until it was almost out of sight, a tiny white fluttering like a star. We looked away for a moment and it was gone.

Someday I know ND will be old enough to be annoyed by U's and my view of the world, but I loved our shared fascination with this sort of paper butterfly finding its way in this strange world.

Regardless of my complaints, I'm having a great time. This is crazy and fun and an extravagance that I'm happy to keep within a short time period before returning to normal life. Why we're here? ND's uncle and aunt had a trade show in Anaheim that they drove to with ND's cousins. So on their way back they knew they'd be here again and we've all met up, grandparents included for a mini-family-reunion. 

Yesterday morning we swam at "The Beach" of Mandalay Bay including the Wave pool and Lazy River (my favorite). (We didn't hit the topless part of the Beach by the way.) Then in the afternoon we walked and walked miles and miles through the hotels to the point that little impresses me anymore. Between the Venetian gondola ride, the glass flower ceiling of the Bellagio, the in and out of building roller coaster at New York, New York, I began to simply feel bored if there weren't 2 or 3 fascinating things to see around the corner. I'll make an exception for the chocolate woman in the store in the Bellagio where the fudge and chocolate rolled and dripped down little ramps within the glass cases around it. That will amaze me for life.

ND has had a wonderful time with her cousins and grandparents. We see the cousins a few times a year but often for not enough time to really reacquaint. The three of them are doing beautifully, squishing together on shared chairs, playing cards, holding hands as they walk. If I wasn't enjoying myself so much already, I'm happy just for that.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Update on the error...

OK. So Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam posts are fixed. I still have one more to post below later about Las Vegas... stay tuned!