Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bli Neder*

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* Without a vow. (Hebrew)

This is what people say when they make promises: "I will cut back on my blogging and will be more conscious of using my free time more wisely...bli neder." This is telling you that I will try my utmost (should no conflicting circumstances arise) to mean what I say and fulfill my promise.

I don't like to make promises as a rule just because I'm afraid that sometimes I'll be thrown a curve ball, and incidents beyond my control will prevent me from following through on the promise. I don't like to be deemed a liar and I also hate to disappoint people.

So generally I say, "I'll try to..." or to my children I won't give a definite answer sometimes, but will respond with "We'll see" or "I hope we can..."

I did make a promise once to cousins that I would take them to the zoo. I never forgot that promise and it slowly ate away at me, feeding off my guilt. Okay, so it turned out that fulfilling that promise took about 10 years, but at least I honored my word!

Now, as I look back on 2005 and think about my resolutions that I put down on my computer screen for all the world to see, I think, "Damn, I should've added 'bli neder' to every resolution!"

Let's review:

First there were health club issues, ie. I'd joined one in the fall of 2004 and by New Year's had only gone less than a dozen times. My goal was to make it part of my daily regimen. I FAILED!!!

* Follow through with what I set forth in motion, ie. querying publishers about picture-book manuscripts or poetry that I have written, requesting they view my work. I have been given the green light from several, but have not taken that next step. I should. Did I do this? Nah... I never followed up with those publishers who gave me a green light, nor did I pursue any other publishers.

* Keep writing personal essays, poetry, children's books. I should not just list the titles and ideas I have for creative pieces, but should actually breathe live into these projects. Um, yes, I wrote a few poems. My personal essays are my daily posts. And the ideas for creative pieces are still scribbled on small snippets of paper and scattered here at home or at work amidst my other work.

* Make time for me. The only time "for me" I honored was my computer time...and there was a lot of that!

* Make more time for my husband and children...and parents and siblings and their families. I wish I could say that I did that, but I didn't really. I didn't make more time, nor did I have more free time coming to me. In fact, there was less time, what with this blogging obsession of mine.

* Enjoy each moment to the best of my ability because time is fleeting. Okay, I've done well enough with this, while sometimes I even had to pretend I was enjoying the moment!

* Continue to strive to be the best person that I can be. Still striving...

* Continue to look for the good in the people around me, even if it's not so obvious. Sometimes it's tough to see the good, but I look really closely for it nonetheless.

* Continue to be thankful to Hashem for all that I am, all that I have and all that I can be. And I definitely still am!

Here's what I've been thinking... This year, I will announce my resolutions by adding "bli neder," "We'll see" and "I hope"!

Resolution: So I hope, bli neder, to try and fulfill 2005's resolutions in 2006 -- but we'll just have to wait and see if that happens.

Do you have any resolutions, aside from the obvious ones, that you've made for the coming year?

Blogging 101: Revisited

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A hush falls over the room.

"Thank you. Now a new term has just started for this class, Blogging 101. As you look around the room, you'll see several new faces, several old faces, and some empty seats. Those empty seats are for students who will no doubt be joining us when they hear what a wonderful spirited group we have in this room, and there are some students who've left us to seek their interests elsewhere."

"Um, Ms. TorontoPearl...?" pipes up a gregarious young man.

"Yes...uh--" I look down at my clipboard and student names "-- Andy Hardy?"

"No, ma'am, it's not Andy Hardy. That's just how I originally registered when I signed up for this class. My name is simply Danny Miller. What I wanted to ask is if we ever get to see old movies in this course or take field trips to places like old theaters?"

"Why would we do that in a class like this?" I inquire pointedly at this pleasant-looking young man.

A beautiful, dark-haired girl with a slight accent pipes up. "'Cause it would make our learning more of an adventure! It's always fun to have an adventure, isn't it?"

A bespectacled male student points to the girl. "Yeah, Sophia's right! I can make an adventure out of almost anything -- all it takes is some imagination and an interested audience."

"And what is your name?"

"Neil Kramer. And I prefer to be called Neilochka, if you don't mind. All my girlfriends call me that, right, Sophia?"

At the back of the room there's suddenly a slight commotion. Desks are being shifted and whispering can be heard.

"Excuse me, boys. What do you think you're doing?"

"Um, we're trying to align our desks perfectly so that we can think better -- you know, be on the straight and narrow."

"And you boys are..."

"McAryeh," whispers one. "David," blurts out the other.

"Well, David, at least waste your time with something important!" I declare.

And then I hear crackling paper -- "Where is that sound coming from?" I inquire as I glance around the room. Off to the side is a trio of young women, unwrapping lollipops, and passing them around.

"Ladies...please stop that. We don't eat candy in the middle of class."

"Sorry, Ms. TorontoPearl," says one. "It's just that I have a tremendous sweet tooth, and I always need something sweet to chew on. My friends, Randi and Anne, brought me some goodies and we're sharing them. Sharing is good, isn't it?"

"And sharing helps unify people," says Anne. "I even share my ideas with people, like ideas about books and kids and --"

"And I share my humor with others. And I like to help people with problems. That's good, too!" announces Randi.

"Well, yes...sharing is good. And speaking of sharing... We have two new students who transfered from another school. They're feeling a little sad these days 'cause no doubt they feel as if they lost their best friend, and having to go into unfamiliar surroundings. Please warmly welcome Glen and Elie. Show them what goodness is all about." The two men shyly smile from the back left-hand corner of the room.

"Okay, class, I know it'll take me a while to get to learn who all of you are, and I hope I haven't forgotten to mention anything right now, but we'll soon be comfortable with one another and will have a great time in Blogging 101. Everyone ready to have a great time?"

"Yesssssssss!" is yelled out in unison.

"Good. Let's get this party started....!"

A Tisket, a Brisket...

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Tell me, how can you top this product on the right: a brisket yarmulke?

THE BRISKET YARMULKE - Made of 100% kosher brisket, this one-size-fits-all “beefy beanie” comes emblazoned with a horseradish Star of David.

And speaking of brisket...can anyone tell me why brisket recipes are associated with Chanukah on every holiday menu I look at? Personally, I think the High Holidays or Pesach is the time to serve brisket at a family meal.

Our Chanukah meals used to consist of latkes and more latkes with sour cream or applesauce, and salad -- very simple dairy or pareve meals. When, pray tell, did a "good brisket" enter into Chanukah's gourmet equation?!