Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Praise of OPP - Other People's Parenting

I spent some time this morning with my friend Erin. Something that I don't do often enough. Erin is the mother of three boys under the age of five, is working on her doctorate degree and is a beautiful, patient, funny and smart girl. Perhaps I don't spend as much time as I should with her because she is bad for my self-esteem...but I digress....

We were having yet another ill-fated play-date. Ill-fated because Jack, even at almost four years old, still does a lot of parallel play. And that is a best-case scenario. Worst case is he doesn't want to be around other kids at all.

My Bellas all do a wonderful job of handling this and not taking it personally. Their kids are all fantastic and go on their merry ways. I, however, get 27 kinds of embarrassed and frustrated. Even if Jack doesn't want to play with our hosts, I thin k he should remain, you know, in the same zip code.

Erin, in a true stroke of mothering genius, hit on a moment of bliss this morning. She brought out seven old time 50-cent water pistols and let all of us - moms and kids - go at each other. Before I describe the kids of joy and release this brought to all of us, I feel the need to for the disclaimer that both Erin and I are usually staunch anti-guns-as-toys for our kids. Since these were a) bright pink and purple, b) see through and c) we both had them as kids and didn't turn out to be mass murderers, we thought they might be OK. Also, we are the mothers of boys, who eventually turn EVERYTHING into a gun anyway (if you are the mother of girls, trust me on this. I have seen boys turn a Barbi legs, baby bottle and a Tickle Me Elmo all into semi-automatics, but again, I digress...)

The moment all of us were armed, it was a free for all. And once Jack understood that he could shoot me and he could retaliate when other kids shot him, there were gleeful squeals all around. None so loud as mine. Here was a chance to get my little stinker square in the back of the head with a cold burst of water - and have him laugh about it - GENIUS! I felt like I was getting frustration out and having fun with him all at once. Did I feel a little evil? Oh, most definitely. Did I feel about 1000% better afterward? Indubitably.

Now I know Why Erin is the one working on her doctorate. She really IS smarter than the rest of us. She takes it all is stride. I made the remark that I shudder to think what kind of monster I would be with three kids when I can;t even keep it together with the one I currently have. Erin;s parenting style is laid back and her kids are well behaved. Yes, we joke about her middle one, but he is "all boy" as our mothers would say, and she does a fine job with all of them - and her fourth boy - her husband. I am in awe of all of my friends and how they handle their parenting responsibilities and their relationships and, someone them, on top of that, careers.

Maybe I should really consider spending more time out there at Camp U. If only to suck up the Knowledge. I understand I can suck it up by osmosis - through water guns :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Doing the Right Thing or Looking for Trouble?

Emotionally draining. That is how I will describe today. I think my husband would agree.

On the suggestion of the LSW at J's preschool, we had an appointment with a behaviorist at Nationwide Children's Hospital this morning. To sum up, we were there for a number of behaviors. An obsession with doors (to the exclusion of all other activities), freaking out when broken out of his routine, still doing the parallel play thing at almost four, and absolute fetish for toes...these are only a few of my boy's idiosyncrasies. They are glitches and they are his glitches. I was hoping he would he would grow out of them (especially the toe thing. Cute at 3. Creepy at 13).

We began working with "Team Jack" last year, when J was 2 and the door thing became a problem. He was disrupting the class's activities with the constant door obsession. Both the Infant/Toddler Coordinator and the JCC and the LSW were able to offer some very helpful advice and the teachers were able to get J interested in classroom activities again. Our family outings were limited for some time, however. He didn't enjoy things other kids his age did. Not playgrounds or the "play pits" at the local mall. Not kids' concerts or bookstores. We couldn't get him past the doors. It was disheartening and sad.

We turned a corner early this year and things were looking up only to backslide a few months ago when J kicked it up a notch and not only remained obsessed with the doors, but now was opening them and started bolting from the classroom when frustrated. Ug. Now it was a safety issue. Our trusty LSW suggested we go tit for tat in the ramp up and maybe look onto a behavior evaluation at Children's. She said it could be nothing. She also said that if it is something (and she wasn't saying WHAT it could be) that we could learn some coping skills before he hit Kindergarten.

Today was the Day of Reckoning.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Behavioral Health Center asks that you show up for the evaluation of your child with possible behavioral problems 45 minutes before your scheduled appointment so that you can fill out a ridiculous amount of paperwork that could easily be mailed to you ahead of time. Luckily, mine was the only one going apeshit in the small waiting area. This could very easily be a Thunderdome situation. Get five or six hyperactive kids in there with anger issues and, well, Mad Max ain't gonna save yo' ass. While Jack melted down about three times in the 45 minute period, mommy was close to tears at least twice. This was my idea of hell. I could feel my blood pressure going through the roof. I could feel my heart trying to pound its way through my chest. And I could feel the hot tears of frustration and anger burning their way from the back of my eyeballs to the forefront.

Once we were called to meet the LSW specializing in OCD (that's a whole lot of letters, sorry), all went a little better, I guess. She was very nice and great with J. After 45 minutes of evaluation, she decided that yes, if he were older, he displays dead-on OCD characteristics. However, since he is so young, let's get a "full-spectrum evaluation." I don't like the word "spectrum" one damn bit.YOU know as well as I do what spectrum she;s talking about and I don't want my kid on it. I dont care if Jenny McCarthy cured her kid by giving her kid special bread or not, I do not want my kid anywhere near the word AUTISM.

But there he was. And here we are. Waiting for a call back from a lovely PhD to get a "full spectrum evaluation" later this summer.

On a side note, it turns out that OCD-like symptoms could have been caused by J's exposure to my Group B Strep at birth. It is an odd little thing called PANDAS. Check it out. Who knew. Wouldn't it be great if this could all be cured by a round of antibiotics (which a. Jack is mostly allergic to and b. it won;t be because I've already looked into this and am about 98% sure this doesn't describe Jack's symptom's because his aren't cyclical). Interesting all the same.

So I am left thinking - ARE these just J's little ticks? Am I just an older, first-time parent going over-board? Am I LOOKING for a diagnosis? Or am I doing the right thing by following the advice of the social worker who, I have to trust, knows more than I do, about child development. I have a feeling this nagging question will be with me throughout the summer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Come As You Are

On the way home from Culver's last night, I saw a sign for a Vineyard Church. It asked you to "Come as you are!." I think that is a great policy. For a lot of places, actually. First of all, let me explain that, yes, I understand that you show respect to God by dressing up when you go to your place of worship. My personal belief, though, is that God doesn't particularly care what you're wearing. He/She/It is just happy that you showed up to give thanks/ask for stuff/for the free nosh. What I DON'T get is all the parading around in fancy Easter hats or the over the top High Holiday suits in order to look rich and famous for each other. Just come as you are.

We're hosting a good old fashioned Memorial Day Weekend BBQ in about 2 hours. Come as you are is pretty much the theme here, too. The official start time is 4:30. We have friends who will no doubt pull up in front of the house at 4:30, right on the nose, bearing a casserole (you know who you are, Bryan). We also have a second wave, who will show up after softball games, or after enjoying time with other friends first, and that's OK, too. We're just glad they could join us. Just come as you are.

I hope as Jack grows, that he adopts a "come as you are" attitude. I want him to always be who he is, and accept people for who they are - first offer. No need to dress it up, hold out for a better offer or make excuses. Just come as you are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ladies and Gentleman, This is...Hip Replacement

We spent an absolutely wonderful Sunday evening with friends in the company of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Schearer. Otherwise known as Spinal Tap. Also, not ironically at all, known as The Folksmen. Aside from being hysterically funny, they are also incredibly talented musicians.

I get a wee bit jealous when some people get a double load of blessing like that. But then again, since they share it with the rest of us via the concert we saw on Sunday - Unwigged and Unplugged (GO SEE IT IF IT IS NEAR YOU) - I can forgive. Also, Christopher Guest has directed some of my favorite movies. If we are friends, it is not necessary for you to have see all of said movies, or be able to quote all of said movies. But you should certainly not mock any of the following movies and you should certainly appreciate the humor behind them.

Best in Show. Come on. A spoof about the Westminster Dog Show? Genius. Four words. "We both love soup." Osi and I are also big fans of "A Mighty Wind". A spoof of the time when folk music was trying to be pop music. I love that Guest has this cast of "players" that he uses in all of his movies. Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Ed Begley, Jr., Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard, in addition to Shearer and McKean make Guest's movies always hilarious and unpredictable. The fact that they work together so often makes me think that they can improv often and come up with some of the best material in the movies. I've not even talked about "Waiting for Guffman" or "For Your Consideration." See them. We'll discuss.

But back to the concert...

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I mentioned to Tammy, she of Mommakin fame, who I was lucky enough to share the experience with, that it was going to be interesting to see what the demographic was going to be like once we were inside. Tam said she thought she was going to be it. Since I consider Tammy pretty dead-on normal (sorry, Tam), I thought to myself "Hm...".

Turns out, there were lots of Silver Foxes in the house. Thus the name of this post. Now Guest was born in 1948, making him a rockin' sexagenarian. And ROCKIN' he is. Dude wears it well. And Michael McKean? Let me tell you that anyone that funny is always, ALWAYS sexy. For those of you who may not be familiar with his latter work with Guest, let me re-introduce you to his earlier work: He was Lenny of Lenny and Squiggy fame on Laverne & Shirley. (Also, for those of you stuck in Noggin land, he is "Cousin Louie" on Oswald, and Maestro Bingo Bunny). Harry Shearer you know from The Simpsons. Mr. Burns? Ned Flanders? You can thank Harry Shearer for those. And let us not forget this is a guy who started on the freakin' JACK BENNY SHOW. He is 66 and still maintains the proper "I am rockin' this bass!" stance throughout the rock part of the show. Show some respect, people.

So yeah. At 35, I was feeling like a youngster in the room. I felt like Wayne and Garth in Wayne's World. "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" There was way too much talent on the stage and they were really very humble about it. Guest even attempted - mostly unsuccessfully, but with great comic effect, I might add - to play the didgeridoo.

They were all up there having fun. Oh, and also probably making a crapload of money, too. Let us not forget that one of their encore songs was Gimme Some Money.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Ghosts of Personalities Past

As I have mentioned several times before, I think Facebook is a wonderful thing. I have been able to keep up with current friends, organize a reunion of my high school marching band members, find long-lost friends and find new friends who share my interests.

Like many, I have been many people during my lifetime. I am sure - or at least I hope to heavens - that I will continue to evolve and be a new, hopefully better, person in 10 years or so. This brings me to the "long lost friends" part of Facebook.

Are people frozen in time there? Like my not-so-friend from grade school, are people forever stuck with their last impression of you? If so, I, like Lucy, have some 'splaining to do.

I recently had the extremely good fortune to be able to locate college roommates from my freshman year at OSU. These gals were some of my first impressions of college life and they were (and I am sure, still are) fantastic. The problem is, I was a little less fantastic.

I suffered my first real broken heart my sophomore year of college. I went a little nutso and then took up with a boyfriend I would be with - on and off - throughout my college career. He was not a great influence. The problem was, I wasn't a strong enough personality not to be easily influenced. Long story short, I made bad decisions and the relationship with my awesome friends ended badly and it was completely my fault. (This may bring us to another post later on: Losing friends over boyfriends. But I digress.)

Flash forward: I've recently discovered a lot of those friends on Facebook and they seem genuinely interested in what I'm up to these days. I am enormously thankful for the opportunity to a) right past wrongs and b) show them that I am no longer a psycho hosebeast. I'm torn as to whether or not to acknowledge my behavior circa 1993. Fifteen years is a lot of water under the bridge.

I have actually apologized - via her husband - to the gal I feel I wronged the worst. Her husband and I go way back, to high school, actually, and I hope he passed along my regret and apologies. Other than that, I am thinking that I'll let my current life and attitude speak for itself.

Thoughts? Advice? Fashion tips? What would you do?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Favorite Time of the Day

It is tempting, as a stay at home mom, to say that my favorite time of day is 9 a.m. (Monday, tuesday and Thursday), as I wave goodbye to my little angel as he enjoys the day with his preschool friends. Or naptime. Yeah, naptime is good. Or when he goes down for the night, without an argument, usually, and quiet encompasses the house.


My favorite time of the day is 8 p.m. almost every night. After bath time, and with The Backyardigans providing a musical backdrop, Mommy, Daddy, Farnnie and J all cuddle up in the big bed. We become one big pile of arms and legs (and paws), snoozing, laughing and talking. J lays there, perfectly happy, for 30 minutes and we can just BE. I can sniff his hair, snuggle up tightly to him and whisper sweet mommy nothings in his little ears. It is by far my favorite time of the day.

While it is easy to wish these 30 minutes could last forever, the truth is that the speeding mass of three-year-old boy that is Jickety Jack make that limited time each night what it is. The running, the sliding, the yelling and laughing all fade in that half hour. I can breathe in his sweetness and light and thank God that this is my boy and this is my family.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Guy Walks Into A Roast...

My LORD do I have some funny friends.

The temple's Brotherhood put on a Friars' Club-style roast for our outgoing music director, Bryan Zive on Saturday. Granted, Bzive is an easy target but some people just went above and beyond on their comic generosity.

Because my hilarious friend Mel hates public speaking, I was given the opportunity to do some shtick. Ironically, a line that I almost eliminated from the remarks ("This dais is a who's who of who cares...") got the biggest laugh of my set. Go figure.

My friend Shannon, though. Whoo! He absolutely killed. I mean killed in a way that he could seriously write jokes for a living. We are both what I would call "conversationally funny," but Shan just kicks it up a notch. I have real respect for people who can be gut-bustingly (yes, it IS a funny, especially on the fly. By the time he was finished with his 5 or so minutes of remarks, my face and tummy actually hurt from laughing so hard.

Funny friend Mel's hubby Jason was astonishingly hilarious. Astonishing because he is such a nice guy that you just don;t see it coming (Maybe Mel did and that's why she married him. You know, other than he is just a nice guy). There were other Roasters, too, who just made the audience roar. And I don't think I am exaggerating there. There were times when the amount of laughter in the room HAD to have been coming from more than just the 60 people in attendance. I think we all needed a good laugh.

And it was great of Bryan to provide so many good laughs. As I mentioned, he is an easy target. A 27-year-old music director in a position of some power at a fairly large congregation. His ego was a big topic of the roast. But he did, to his immense credit, take it all in stride. He laughed, he made witty rebuttals, and I think we're all friends after the fact (at least I hope we are).

I just could not let the day pass without a shout out to all the funny people out there who share their shtick with the world. Laughter really IS the best medicine. I am so thankful to have so many General Practitioners in my life!

The Good Kid Gone Bad

Mother's Day was an interesting mix of sweetness and light and, well, my family this year. Osi and Jack made me the most delicious pancakes, let me sleep past 10 a.m. and presented me with lovely cards and a gift card for a massage. A fantastic morning!

Noon brought my own mother (towing dad) into town and my sister (now a single mother) right behind. Mom got straight down to business telling me what a frustrating day that had had yesterday and that I would Have to excuse her if she seemed "less than enthusiastic" today. Okaaayyyy...

My sister was in a funk all her own. She is in the middle of what is turning out to be a very nasty divorce with a man who turned out to be a really nasty porcine excuse for a human. She has had a rough year ans was particularly mopy. I guess, understandably.

let us remember that I was having a perfectly lovely Mother's Day. Until the sisters Doom and Gloom showed up.

Since it was lunch time, I thought I would start asking what people might like to do about being fed. I asked. And asked. And then asked some more.For about 35 minutes, actually. I was hungry, dammit! (Don't let momma get hungry, especially on a Sunday. She will eat her young and probably yours, too.) My family continued to ignore my request for information (and fed off each other's foul moods).

I snapped.

As my mother so eloquently put it in this morning's e-mail, I "stomped off" upstairs telling the remaining people to decide what they want to do about lunch. My sister, ever the drama-lover, said to my mom with Osi within earshot "Well the last thing I need today is for her to be bitching at me." Here is my thought on that: If that was the last thing you needed, how about you and Grumpy Grammy take your pity party on out to brunch?

My sister and brother - both younger - sarcastically refer to me as the good kid. It isn't that I am particularly good. It is that I made a lot of the same mistakes they did in private - either at college a good 2 hours away from mom and dad, or once I was living on my own. Since my sister didn't move out of their house until she was married and by brother just 2 or 3 years ago, mom and dad got to see - sometimes in gruesome detail - the mistakes they were making. Oh, I made 85% of those mistakes - just never felt the need to share them with the folks.

So here is the problem: Apparently by snapping yesterday, I challenged everyone's perceived role. Melissa is usually the one making the stink (ask me sometime about Christmas last year, the final straw on the Conversion Camel's back) and I try to make peace. I guess Gloom and Doom were the only ones allowed to think their Mother's Day was stinking. The irony is, mine would have been damn near perfect without their presence.

I think in every family, everyone has their role. What happens when you challenge those? In my experience, all hell breaks lose (thus the exchange of angry phone calls and e-mails over the last 12 hours). What happens when the good kid snaps or the family screw-up makes good?

After 30 years in these roles, I don't think people know what to do with themselves.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Birthday to Jew...Part 2

When last we left our Shiksa Goddess, she had successful "passed" her bet din - the court consisting of three rabbis. We now continue with "Happy Birthday to Jew...the conclusion."

With the bet din discussion over and my profession of faith read aloud and signed, I was ready for the part of the conversion process I had been dreading, literally, for months. The mikveh.

For those of you unfamiliar with a mikveh, please let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. The quick and dirty answer is it is a lot like an immersion baptism for Baptists (or some Universalists) except, well, you are naked. Not a stitch on. You immerse in the water the way God brought you into this world (only with more cellulite, which is my whole issue, here). Not all Reform rabbis require mikveh immersion to convert, but I am glad mine did. It felt as if I was humbling myself. So here is what happened.

You are required to be as clean as humanly possible when you enter the mikveh (I assume this is so you don't go fouling it up for the rest of those who wish to be ritually pure). So I showered in a small room next to the "pool." Everything - nail polish, makeup, lotion, perfume, lint - must be washed from your body in order to enter the mikveh pool.

After sanding myself down, I wrapped in the largest towel I could find (I brought a bath sheet from home) and knocked on the door to let Emily and my witness, Mel, know I was ready. I stood at the top of the stairs with Emily and Mel behind me. I removed the towel and Emily held it way up and way out, so she could see nothing. If this rabbi gig doesn't work out, she would make a great masseuse. They have that same trick in their book for when you roll on over on the table...but I digress.

As soon as the rabbi mentioned that I would be facing away from my audience for this ritual, I immediately felt better. But I was still naked in front of people so, you know, I was not 100% comforted. Emily had said that I needed to take each of the five steps into the mikveh pool slowly so that I could really soak in the experience (pun intended? Not sure.). However, once the towel was off and my naked tuches was exposed in the direction of both my spiritual leader and one of my best friends, I forgot everything and hightailed it down the first 2 steps. Remembering Emily's instructions, I slowed it down for the last three steps. But it wasn't quite the soaking in that she intended. because, literally, here are is my last thought as a shiksa as I descended those final steps: "Mel can see my tushy. Mel can see my tushy. Mel can see my tushy." Way to sanctify the experience, right? I'm pretty sure I sucked all the holiness out of the experience before it had even begun.

In order for the immersions (you do it three times) to be kosher, all of you must be submerged, with none of you touching a wall, floor or another part of your body. This is trickier than it sounds. Especially in a pool that is about 4 feet wide, 15 feet long and maybe 4 feet deep.

I dunked myself the first time, Emily approved and I recited the blessing for the mikveh. It was framed on the wall, so I didn't have to memorize that one. Dunk again. Emily approves and I say the Sh'ma - the most important prayer to the Jewish people. "Hear, Oh Israel. The Lord is Our God. The Lord is One." Dunk a third time. Emily calls kosher and we recite the she'hecheyanu blessing, thanking God for sustaining us and bringing us to this moment.

Poof. I am now Jewish.

For my first act as a Jew, I try to concentrate really hard on walking, wet and naked, back up the mikveh steps toward the rabbi (once again, spreading the towel in an incredibly modest manner) and my witness. I can think of nothing more embarrassing that falling headlong (and I can't underscore this point enough) wet and naked, into your spiritual advisor. That mission accomplished, both Emily and Mel wish me Mazel Tov and I go dry off and get dressed.

Once rejoining the crowd in the waiting area (the bet din, Mel and my husband Osi), Emily reads a statement that calls me by my chosen Hebrew name - Rahav Leah. I think THAT is the moment in which I feel Jewish. I have a name among these people, now my people. I am now a daughter of Abraham and Sarah.

Poof. I now feel Jewish.

Hugs, pictures and congratulations are offered and we exit. The rest of the day is mellow. Osi takes me to an incredibly cool restaurant (Luce -try it if you are in Columbus!) and I nap. We pick up the cake ("Welcome to the Tribe!" it reads) and a deli try for the party for the evening. Many friends join us to celebrate. Some of them say how proud they are of me. Which is nice.

I can't say I feel tremendously different, which is good. But I am so at peace with finding my place in the complicated mishmash that is religion. Judaism is all about "deed over creed." They really don't require you to believe in anything (not even God) as long as you ACT like you do. It is sort of the religion of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps if you act like a believer, you will believe. I prefer to think of it as even if you don;t believe, you are still acting like a mensch, which I am pretty sure a higher power would want us to do.

So that is my conversion tale, for those of you who asked. I am sorry it was so long, but I really didn't want to leave anything out of this exciting, moving experience.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happy Birthday to Jew...Part 1

After many months of studying, thinking, practicing and writing about my impending conversion, the deed is finally done. I am officially a Member of the Tribe. Not surprisingly, I feel no different than I did on Monday. That's OK, though. It reaffirms to me, anyway, that this was the right decision. I have been living, as the rabbi put it yesterday "Jewishly" for the past few years. This just kind of cemented the deal. I will warn you now - this is going to be a loooong post.

I am thrilled to report that my rabbinic court, the bet din, when extremely well. I could not possibly have asked for a better group of rabbis to give me their blessing.

Rabbi Emily Rosenzweig was the rabbi with whom I studied for the past few months. She is one of two rabbis at Temple Israel here in Columbus and she is the whole package - incredibly smart, dryly funny and delivers a riveting sermon (oh she of sexting fame). Did I mention that I think she may just be a smidge over 30, if that? She is amazing.

I specifically requested Rabbi Elka Abrahamson as a member of my bet din. I am slightly in awe of her, actually. She is a presence. She is tall with this fantastic head of extraordinarily curly short, jet black hair that has a few wisps of gray in it. She smells of patchouli. If it sounds as if I am describing someone I have a crush on, you may be right, but in the wrong way. You've heard, maybe, of a "bromance"? This is maybe the girl equivalent. I want to hang out and have a beer with Elka, because she is really one of the most hilarious women I know (and I know a lot of gut-busting, fall off your chair and laugh yourself to tears kind of hilarious women). She, too, is incredibly smart and well-spoken. Also, she happens to be married to the senior rabbi at Temple Israel, so I am extraordinarily thankful to him for bringing her along for the ride to Columbus.

Finally, my "player to named at a later date" as Emily referred to the third position, was Rabbi Sharon Mars. I have met Rabbi Mars a couple of times and found her increasingly delightful. She, too, is very smart (seems to be a requirement for rabbis, eh?), soft-spoken and just seems genuinely Nice-with-a-capital-N. I would suppose you would have to be, as part of her work duties is ministering to Jewish inmates at various Central Ohio prisons. Good people, that Sharon.

Honestly, I was never very worried about the bet din part of the conversion. I have been practicing Judaism now for a number of years, eliminated the Christmas tree this year, make Shabbat on a regular basis and know more about Judaism than some people who were born Jewish. So the bet din discussion revolved around how I was raised, how I came to the decision to convert, my relationship with Osi's family (funny that a full quarter of the conversation should be devoted to my reaction to my orthodox families' reaction, but it was interesting to get these rabbi's views on that), and how I plan to move forward. As I step up to the plate a temple's Sisterhood co-president next year, have chaired the Outreach Committee and am fairly involved with Jack's class at the JCC, all of these women knew I was already involved in the temple and in the greater Jewish Community. No problems there.

By the way, did you notice that all three rabbis were women? How flippin' COOL is THAT? Loved it! That Sharon was able to step in as the third rabbi just felt right. Part of that is because some of my struggle with the more conservative sects of Judaism (orthodox, in particular) see women as "less." When counting the number of bodies in the room for prayer, they don't count the ovaries. There is a very intricate set of "purity laws" still practiced there that do not apply to men, etc. So the fact that Reform Jews see women as equal was important to me and I was beyond thrilled to have an all-female bet din.

The discussion went well and I apparently passed, because after I stepped out of the room for about 2 minutes, so the rabbis could discuss my readiness for conversion, I was called back in, asked to read and sign a profession of faith (hello...flashback to Catholicism!) and dress down for the mikvah.

The mikvah, dear friends, is another story all in itself. So it will be the topic of my next post.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know it went well, I am beyond thrilled to finally "be" Jewish and am so thankful for all of the support (and questions) I have received.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cart (near) Collision Kindness

I was absolutely stoked to get to the grocery store early this morning. I had managed to avoid the unending geriatric sea of people all wandering aimlessly, parking their carts mid-aisle to check out the speacial on prune juice. In fact, I made it through about half the store in record time. I believe that at one point, I may have been speed-walking down the cereal aisle. And then I hit a SNAFU.

A woman was traveling at an approximately equal rate of speed as I when we both wanted to turn into the baking aisle. I was making a right; she, a left.

Now, fine readers, let me ask you this: Do the rules of the road apply in the grocery store? Because if so, I believe we have a clear violation here. As I was turning, Bathsheba came, like a bat outta hell (I think I might have actually heard the cart wheels squeal) and darn near knocks into me. This would not have been catastrophic as I had not yet purchased my eggs, but still...

She actually looked annoyed with me. I stopped and said "After you..." and she proceeded on her way without acknowldgement of the near collision or my forfieture of what I believe was my legal right turn.

I believe that we rarely travel quickly enough through Kroger (or Piggly Wiggly, or wherever) to necessitate a road rules course in cart-coasting. However, we could all use a good refersher on common courtesy.

Wouldn't it be great if there were less tailgaiting (because those who refuse to bump it up to 65 on the highway actually stay in the left lane and no one really needs to be going 90)? Wouldn't it be spectacular if we cut people some slack because maybe - just maybe - they are having a bad day? Wouldn't it be awesome if there were more "after yous" and a lot fewer jockeying for the parking space 20 feet closer to the store?

Over the last year, I have really tried hard to be a better person. To really limit what I am saying about others, because how would I like it if I found out someone was sitting at a kitchen table discussing MY eyebrows (or gray hair or the size of my behind...) right now?

In addition to this, I would really like to start paying it forward, so to speak. I would like to initiate the thing that people pay forward - the random act of kindness. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could all just pick one thing today - one simple thing - that would make someone else's life just a little easier and do it? Not a big deal to us, but maybe a big deal to them.

Try it with me, won't you? For a week? L see if it's addictive. I bet it is.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Driven Batty by the Birds

The birds in my neighborhood must be stopped. Clearly, like everyone else in the Belxey school system, they are overachievers.

Yes, I have heard the stupid colloquialism about you being early and the worm...yadda, yadda. But listen - 4:45 a.m. is too damn early to be ingesting worms. In fact, I think all of the fat, lazy, slow juicy worms are still nestled waaaay down underground at that hour because, you know, it is still the middle of the freaking night!

For the past week, there has been a very vocal bird outside my window searching for breakfast at 4:45 in the a.m. This makes me want to go all Dick Cheney on his ass. Just go out there with a large gun and start firing scatter shot until I nail his little ass. I am very cranky if I do not sleep. It is not pretty. It is not happy. In fact, it is mean and short-tempered and rightly referred to as "it" because, without sleep, I am not quite human.

Now, I am not a nature lover to begin with. I have been camping exactly once. On that trip I received bite of an undetermined nature all over both butt cheeks. Seriously, we counted. 26 on one cheek, 32 on the other. That is just nature telling me to get the hell indoors and stay there. So, I do not camp. Hiking seems like a long walk with no destination in mind, which sounds a lot to me like what dementia patients do when they escape their assisted living facilities. That, too, makes no damn sense to me. Picnics are OK, I suppose, if they are in the shade and involve copious amounts of wine. It usually helps if there is good live music to accompany said outdoor feasting.

So what to do about the birds? I lie awake silently cursing them. Actively wishing that the neighborhood tomcat would sneak up on them and have himself a tasty snack. In the end, that's all I really can do. Nature is clearly out to get me. It was clear from that camping trip. It is clear from the migraines I get when I spend too much time outdoors in the summer. And it is clear from the tiny chirping outside my window mocking me at an ungodly hour.