Friday, June 24, 2005

The Me That Nobody Knows...but Now You All Will!

Blogroll Me!

Back in November 1979, when I was 18 years old I started to make a list in a journal; it was entitled "The Me That Nobody Knows."

Yesterday, June 23, I was reading David Bogner's blog, Treppenwitz, and as it was his 44th birthday, he listed 44 items about himself. I commented and told him that I was turning 44 in exactly three months and wanted to know what "44" feels like. I also told him that although it's fun to make these lists, they can be neverending, as well.

But for interest's sake, here is a start to the list that was written when I was 18. And let me tell you, things haven't changed all that much...

* I like writing my signature everywhere.
* I enjoy writing poetry.
* I'm sentimental.
* I sing in the shower.
* I collect buttons that have slogans.
* I like old movies and old music.
* I like to take long walks.
* I like to analyze people and situations.
* I like collecting quotes that appeal to me.
* I like Gilda Radner and Saturday Night Live.
* I despise phonies and people who've been cruel to me in the past.
* I like People magazine.
* I like window shopping.
* I can be very selfish.
* I like to record events of the day in a little calendar of mine.
* I like to listen to people's problems and help them if I can.
* I sometimes like to look & dress like a slob.
* I can be very lazy.
* I love writing letters.
*I'd like to publish an anthology of my poetry and call it "Self-Portrait" or "Inner Visions."
* I like Earth, Wind & Fire.
* I love looking at yearbooks, autograph books and old pictures.
* I continuousl switch the dials on my stereo.
* I like tall guys.
* I'm 5 ft., 7 3/4 inches tall.
* I like gold jewelry.
* I have so many nicknames.
* I don't cry very often.
* I always say, "Ciao bambino."
* I like the smell of hay and fresh-mown lawns.
* I think Yiddish is a beautiful language.
* I'm known for laughing.
* I've already had some of my poems published.
* I like George & Ira Gershwin's music.
* I'd like to be able to compose music.
* I like foreign languages.
* I adore Barbra Streisand's voice.
* I love little kids.
* I like watching people's expressions, and figuring out their nervous habits.
* I have "telephone hangups," meaning it's sometimes hard for me to talk on the phone.
* I like Dr. Pepper and Pepsi commercials.
* I'd like to be on a milk commercial.
* I love traveling.
* I've been to Switzerland and think that it's a beautiful country with friendly people.
* I'd like to give George Benson a yellow rose.
* I tend to write poems about people I've seen, met or have really liked.
* I love flicking my brother's earlobes.
* I don't tend to exaggerate.
* I don't always understand why people can be so cruel.
* I try to usually get on people's good sides.
* I like dancing.
* I used to count my freckles when I was young.
* I look for truth and things I can relate to in songs.
* I like powdery smells in perfumes.
* I think I have a good sense of humor.
* I am pretty sensitive, to my own and to other peoples' needs.
* I want to go to the University of Toronto.
* I used to straighten my hair, but it's naturally curly.
* I like taking personality quizzes.
* I like watching "The Dating Game."
* I sometimes foresee things.
* I used to wear a bite plate for four years.
* I love dogs.
* I hate when people crack their knuckles.
* I know that I can be obnoxious, but at times I love to bother people.
* I hate large crowds.
* I'm not very athletic.
* I like having long rap sessions with people.
* I like eating gooey pizza.
* I love the sound of wind chimes.
* I like doing crossword puzzles.
* I tend to let faucets drip.
* I like to stare at myself in the mirror for long periods of time.
* I love corned beef sandwiches.
* I like to write personal and original messages in autograph books and in birthday cards.
* I always try to think of comeback lines to use on people.
* I hate walking through the lobby at school during lunch.
* I lie flat across my bed with my feet against my stereo speaker.
* I love to dig my toes in sand.
* I use a lot of commas and hyphens in my writing.
* I used to be afraid of watching "The Wizard of Oz" when I was young.
* I see myself as a mature and sometimes immature person.
* I get inspirations for writing at the oddest times and in the oddest places.
* I like brick fireplaces.
* I like dreaming.
* I enjoy staring up at the clouds.
* I like going for drives in the country.
* I used to dilute my Shabbos wine with water.
* I experience deja-vu quite often.
* I usually give names like Herbie or Herman to my cactii and plants.
* I tend to use the word cute too often; I refer even to old people as being cute.
* I once wrote to singer Janis Ian and asked her for her opinion about my poetry.
* I sometimes hold grudges towards people for a long time.
* I like hayrides in the country.
* I love roasting marshmallows.
* I always end up with my writing slanting towards the right side of a page if I am writing a list or a poem.
* I can play a good game of Ping-Pong if I have good competition.
* I like blowing soap bubbles.
* I think David Brenner doesn't need a nose job -- his nose is part of his personality, even if it is two sizes too big for his face!
* I would like to visit California, making certain that I'd stop in Hollywood, shop on Rodeo Drive, go to Universal Studios, to name just a few places.
* I would like to interior decorate my own apartment in the future.
* I would like to see a brass bed in my bedroom, a Tiffany lamp in my kitchen, a jukebox in the den.
* I love baskets.
* I have always fantasized about meeting my "perfect match" in the public library!
* I always forget to dot my "i's."
* I love Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker."
* I find it hard to make choices or decisions.
* I used to fantasize about being a back-up singer for Barry Manilow.
* I used to keep a list of all the U.S. radio stations that came through on my stereo.
* I have quite a photographic memory.
* I always know the latest dance steps and can do them very well.
* I used to think that "horseback riding" meant riding backwards on a horse.
* I love the aroma of pipe tobacco.
* I always liked to finger-paint.

That is pretty much all of what my lists, parts 1, 2, & 3, said; I left out those bits that referred to Toronto items or named people in my life.

If you are still reading this, and I didn't lose you soon after you started reading the list, I thank you. It is rather interesting to review my thoughts from November 1979 and discover that not too much has changed in all these years. Is that a good thing? Perhaps, with respect to certain items.

Many of my points have already come out in my blog posts over the past six months, as well. So they must be still very much a part of what defines me, since I feel the need to write about them.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane; I know that I did!


And you thought my previous post, a spoof on "Jet Plane," was my last post before my holiday. Apparently so did I...

See? I'm still able to surprise myself and others.

One more thing: Happy 49th Wedding Anniversary, Mom & Dad. Even if you never read my blog, you do know that I love and cherish you in my life and in the life of my husband and children. You are very special people who, together have managed to overcome many hardships and come out safely on the other side. I wish you good health and lots of naches from each other, your children and grandchildren. May we celebrate together again next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

With Sincere Apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary

Blogroll Me!

"All our bags are nearly packed
We're almost ready to go
We're just waiting for Motzei Shabbos, you know,
I'll hate to wake the kids to load them up...

But the Odyssey will be waiting
Its doors ajar
Everyone will climb up into the minivan car,
With the youngest clambering into his booster seat...

So blog me and say goodbye
We're off to give Orlando, Florida, a try --
With its sunshine, theme parks,
And 'gator farms.

We're going to spend some dollars
For once in our life
And have a holiday that offers no strife
We'll come back happy, freckled and sunburned..."


This is the best I could come up with in 20 minutes...while at work!

Look in your mailboxes in the near future; you might just be receiving a cyberspace postcard from me, which reads: "Had a wonderful time. Wish you were there. Wish I would have had access to a computer!"

Take care, one and all, and we'll be sure to do the same!

"Come Fly with Me, Come Fly, Come Fly Away"

Blogroll Me!

I feel the need to talk about air travel and some of my past experiences.

I took my first airplane trip when I was about 8 years old, back in 1969. I flew with my mother and brothers (my father stayed behind to manage my parents' clothing store) to Mexico City via CP Air/Canadian Pacific Airways. I don't remember too much of that first flight, but I remember the official outfits and caps the stewardesses wore, and all the neat little miniature dishes that would serve me well because I was, after all, a little kid!

Future flights took me to Mexico City, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Israel, Chicago, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc. and each time I took in the details of the aircraft and the people who served it.

There was a time about 15 years ago that I was going to Baltimore to a family bar mitzvah. I drove with my brother to Buffalo, where we caught a flight to Philadelphia and would take a connection to Baltimore. The Buffalo-Philly flight was a larger plane but offered nothing but soft drinks for the short haul. The Philly-Baltimore flight was a tiny, commuter, propeller-run plane. I was laughing silently the whole flight because I was the only female on the plane, aside from the stewardess, and the captain announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking..." I wanted to yell out and correct him. And this very short haul was offering drinks and snacks and the stewardess drew the curtain in the galley so that she could prepare the goods in privacy. There've been times when I've been the only female in an elevator, but I've certainly never been the only female passenger in a plane before or since this experience. I thought I was part of a Saturday Night Live skit.

I find that airline ticket prices are so steep, but the service has cut back greatly. Yes, I receive Kosher meals when I fly, and know that people are looking at what I'm eating when I'm served first; so I sneak a peek at what they're eating when it's their turn. This past weekend, I noticed that the non-Kosher meals had the same flimsy, small plastic cutlery and throwaway dishes that I was served with. Once upon a time, they had silverware to use, now it was disposables.

Or when I was young, I'd like to "schnorr" the little hand soaps or lotions that I'd sometimes find in the bathrooms; these days there's nothing of the sort, just one pump bottle of soap to use. No moist towelettes or hot towels are offered any longer to passengers that fly economy; once upon a time they were. No magazines or newspapers are offered to economy passengers anymore; they are reserved for business or first class.

I was somewhat floored when I witnessed the following this past weekend en route to Los Angeles. There was a passenger sitting in the first row of economy; he got up to go to the nearest bathroom, which was ahead of him in business class. When he reached the bathroom, the stewardess in the nearby galley sent him back and pointed him in the direction of the economy class bathrooms at the back of the plane. Wow, this person even had to have reservations in order to pee in business class!

What's the difference? I wondered.

Oh ya, maybe the little soaps and lotions that are no longer in the economy-class bathrooms, are sitting in the business-class bathrooms for little schnorrers to scoff them...just because they paid the right price for their airline ticket!

"Come fly with me...come fly away..."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Second Annual Ariel Chaim Avrech Yahrzeit Lecture

Blogroll Me!

I traveled specifically to Los Angeles this past weekend to meet the Avrechs and honor the memory of their son, Ariel Chaim Avrech, who died two years ago at the age of 22, after first being diagnosed with cancer eight years earlier.

I did not know Ariel, I did not know his family. But since early October 2004 via Seraphic Secret and via personal correspondence with Ariel's father, Robert, I did get to delve into their world. And it was most important to me to make the effort to be part of their world on Sunday, June 19, 11:00 a.m., at Young Israel of Century City, when the Second Annual Ariel Chaim Avrech Yahrzeit Lecture was to be held.

Not only was it a Yahrzeit lecture, but it was Robert and wife Karen's 28th wedding anniversary, which was mentioned briefly, and Father's Day, which was not acknowledged publicly.

To delve into an arena of memories of and tributes to a deceased child every day is difficult; to do so on a publicly acknowledged "parent holiday" is almost unthinkable. But Robert and Karen and their two daughters sat dignified, with their emotions in check, and in the front benches of their beautiful shul to welcome the speakers for the event.

Karen's brother, Rabbi David Singer, had learned gemarah in Ariel's name and did a siyyum of his tractate after speaking about his late nephew, Ariel, and Ariel's parents. Karen's father, Rabbi Philip Singer, stood dignified as he spoke about his late grandson and Ariel's handwritten study notes that he'd been transcribing. Ariel had notebooks filled with notes, comments, questions, Halachic debates, and he had notes about notes, seemingly never-ending scribbles in Hebrew and English that made sense to those who read them. A real "talmid chacham", "ben Torah", Ariel could teach others, older or younger than himself, all that he'd acquired. As Robert Avrech has said many times, "Ariel became my teacher..."

The main speaker of the event was Rabbi David Fohrman, who'd flown in from Baltimore, where he's a teacher at Ner Yisroel Yeshiva -- and one whom Ariel respected, admired and enjoyed so much -- and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkin University. As well, Rabbi Fohrman heads an organization called Jewish Explorations. And that is exactly how the rabbi spoke. He did not just speak; rather, he explored the Jewish concept of forgiveness, using the example of Joseph and his brothers in a scene that takes place at the end of Sefer Bereshit.

Rabbi Fohrman didn't stand on the bima and spew out information; he led and moderated a round-table-type discussion among the attendees in that shul. He posed scenarios, took polls, cited comparisons and references to help the audience understand if whether or not one can truly forgive & forget, or just forgive; what are forgiveness and apologies composed of -- it is never just about I. It is about what I did to YOU. It is about recognizing what you did, and the process of how you reach vidui, confession. But it is not just the relationship between I and YOU. It is about the ultimate relationship between I and G-d.

We can't always question why things happen; we can only try to recognize and overcome them.

We can't always understand why G-d chose someone to be so sick and die at a young age, but we can try to learn in that person's name, try to emulate that person's good qualities and try to keep that person alive in so many other ways.

Robert and Karen Avrech and their family are busy doing that. They started their publishing company, Seraphic Press, in Ariel's name. Robert's first release for the company, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden, is dedicated to Ariel. Robert keeps his blog, Seraphic Secret, which began as a means to talk about his great loss. The Avrechs have sponsored a scholarship in Ariel's name and have brought this annual lecture to their shul.

To their credit, they spent two years producing THE BOOK OF ARIEL, which was released at the lecture. It is a most lovely tribute book, filled with personal family stories, Ariel's own words, accolades and memories from family and friends and community members. The words are punctuated by photos and even an accompanying CD, a song written for Ariel by a Jewish performer.

I am more than honored to have had a personal poem I wrote, "Seraphic Vision," included in the book. It is my personal offering to this young man whom I did not know but hopefully, whom my words captured.

His neshama should have an aliya, and may we all be strengthened for having known him personally or having discovered, via his family and friends, his wonderful and most admirable character traits.

Okay...Who's Next?

Blogroll Me!

In the past three weeks I have met several U.S. based fellow bloggers--I think that's sort of rare. It's not as if I was at a bloggers' convention or anything like that.

Week One: I met M from Ink as Rain and at least two of her friends who also blog and are linked to M's site.

Week Two: I met Dr. Bean & Ball-and-Chain, as well as Ralphie, from Kerckhoff Coffeehouse.
I met Robert & Karen Avrech from Seraphic Secret.
I met Luke Ford from several blogs.
I met Rochelle Krich from News, Views & Schmooze.

Week Three: Last night I met PsychoToddler, Mrs. Balabusta and TuesdayWishes. Okay, so TuesdayWishes lives in Toronto, but she is an ex-American.

It has been my experience thus far that each of these bloggers is bright and articulate, a pleasure to write to offline, or comment on their posts online. And in person...well, let's just say that the pleasure was all mine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

She's Ba...a....a....c.....k!!!!

Blogroll Me!

Yes, I'm back, but I'm not quite here, if you know what I mean. I left L.A. Monday p.m. 10:30 their time, which in Toronto, means 1:30 a.m. I arrived today Toronto time 6:10 a.m. I did not manage to sleep a wink on the plane.

Airport - taxi - parents' house - breakfast - lay a bit on sunroom sofa - picked up a ready-made lunch - drove to work. NO SLEEP!!!

So anyhow, here I am, ready to relay some L.A. tidbits. But first:

1. A public thank-you to Dr. Bean and ball-and chain of Kerckhoff Coffeehouse for being such wonderful hosts, and extending themselves to me, me a "virtual stranger."

2. A public thank-you to ball-and-chain's mom for being a wonderful hostess and extending herself to me...just because she's as nice as her daughter and son-in-law.

3. A public thank-you to Robert and Karen Avrech of Seraphic Secret for being so warm and welcoming and making me part of "the family" over Shabbos.

4. A public thank-you to award-winning mystery author Rochelle Krich for also being very warm and receptive to my company. (Rochelle, I ANNOUNCED to my mother this morning that we HAVE TO START reading your books....bli neder!)

5. I am ashamed in a way to say that whatever I knew of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and surrounding vicinity I knew from television and movies. Yesterday I went to the Santa Monica Pier and beach. The looming Ferris wheel in the amusement park was no surprise, "Muscle Beach" was no surprise. How many times have I seen those images displayed on a TV or movie screen?

Same with Rodeo Drive, which I drove through, Melrose Avenue, which I walked on. Street names didn't jump out at me, because I already knew them. I think that's somewhat sad that media prepares me for first-time events, but takes away the surprise factor for me, too.

6. Of course, life always looks greener on the other side of the fence, in this case, on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. I live a very nice life in Toronto with my husband and children, but yeah, wouldn't I just like to pick up and move to the West Coast. The sky is continually blue, the breeze is slight and the cool evening air is welcome. I continually had discussions that almost "anything goes" in terms of Yiddishkeit. You can dress how you want and you still fit in. It isn't about just being thin, and beautiful and wealthy. It's about the person beneath whatever clothing he/she chooses to wear. And the shul opportunities are endless and seem to meet every need.

7. The Simon Wiesenthal's Museum of Tolerance is a powerful center for learning, for enriching information one already has, for viewing Jewish artifacts and wondering about the people to whom they belonged. It is a center that every person, Jew and non-Jew, should visit. It is a place where we must pay homage to collective memories and experiences of men, women and children who have suffered at the hands of others due to INTOLERANCE.

8. I learned that L.A. has a thriving Jewish Persian community. Whereas, Toronto has a large community of Moroccan Jews, New York has a large contingent of Syrian and Bukkharian Jews, in L.A. it's the Persians. And last night, while dining in a Persian Kosher restaurant, I learned what Persian rice is all about, specifically tadig. That rice dish is the same as the rice that sometimes encrusts itself at the bottom of my pot; it is dry and seemingly not tasteful, so we toss it. But somehow this crust of rice called tadig now when I plan to serve rice to guests and it dries up in the pot, it won't matter. I will just tell them, "So...what do you think of Persian rice?" As long as it has a name, it should be okay to eat!

9. I have learned that sometimes we have to tamp down our true emotions on behalf of others. On Sunday morning, I called my husband to wish him a Happy Father's Day. After some small talk, he had something important to tell me that he knew would be upsetting, but he thought I'd want to know. Our dog had died on Shabbos--my husband and children were out for shul, lunch and most of the remainder of the day, and when they came home, they saw that the dog had died. As he told me the story, I listened and asked about my children's reaction to Tyson's death. It broke my heart to know that I wasn't there to comfort them, although I knew my husband, as he described, had done a more than fine job about it himself, taking all the right actions, saying all the right things to the children.

And then I burst out crying like a baby...thinking about my husband and children and our sweet dog who, although we'd only had him for 2 1/2 years, having adopted him from another family when he was five, was a real family member. After the phone conversation with my husband, I started to cry heavily once more -- and then I told myself I had to distance myself from that emotion, I had to stop crying. How dare I cry about a pet when I was about to attend a lecture in memory of a young man who had endured years of painful illness and an untimely death, a young man who'd been robbed of life in the prime of his youth, a young man who had shown his tremendous potential early in life. How dare I cry for Tyson? I had to save my tears for Ariel Chaim Avrech...

****to be continued****

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Comedic Relief?

Blogroll Me!

A short while ago, I had the most bizarre thing happen to me, and I thought it was worthy of a post. See, this addict already thinks in blog terms (and I've even had a couple dreams about blogs/bloggers, too).

I sent my husband an e-mail to his work from my work address. A short time later, it came back with some undeliverable message. I tried to send it again, knowing I'd sent something yesterday that had not bounced back. But yes, it bounced back with some weird administrative message. I thought perhaps it was happening from my business end, so I sent the message to my hotmail account to forward to his work number. Yet again the same thing happened.

So I called his work number, asked for him and was told: "He doesn't work here anymore."

I was openmouthed as I hung up the phone. Man, that company works fast, canceling e-mail address accounts as soon as a person is canned... I'd spoken to my husband at 9:45 when he was on his way to work after tending to some personal matters, and imagined what a horrible scene it must've been for him to be received with walking papers when he walked in. And without seemingly good reasons, I figured, aside from being forewarned that the company might be bought out.

I called my husband on his cell, wondering where he was in his desolate state.

He answered very calmly and I said "What's up? I know what happened."

"What happened?"

"Well, I tried to send you e-mail messages and they all came bouncing back with a kind of undeliverable message."

"Yeah, we didn't pay the bill, so I guess they cut the lines."

"But that's not all. Where are you?"

"I'm at my desk."

"No you're not."

"Yes I am."

"Who's there near you?"


"R, I know what happened... I just called you and when I asked for you, I was told that you didn't work there anymore."

"Yes, I work here. Who'd you speak to?"

"I don't know...whoever answered the phone."

"And she told you I don't work here anymore?"


"Hold on..." [and I hear him walking out of his office, down the hall and to the receptionist, asking: "Did my wife just call you? Did you tell her that I don't work here anymore?"]

Suddenly I thought they'd played a trick on me and my husband.

"Nope, there was no call from you. Maybe you dialed a wrong number...?"

"No...I dialed 555-5555."

"Pearl, I work for __________ Industries. You called ____________ Industries. I have not worked there in three years!"




How the heck did my memory pull up that old number at this moment in time just after my husband's e-mail account showed he didn't have an account there anymore?

Is this what is called comedic relief?

An Hour Later...

Blogroll Me!

It's just over an hour since I last posted, and yes, I'm still awake and at the computer in between transferring my traveling wardrobe from a garment bag to a suitcase. Only problem is that there are still shoes, and perhaps some gifts that I can transfer from the carryon to the suitcase. Yes, it's a big suitcase. My hubby is sleeping now and I can't get to the carryon. So that will have to wait till morning -- oh, it is morning. Okay, that's going to wait for about 4 more hours.

I commented on Treppenwitz's Carnival of the Blind Dates post about my worst blind date ever. But it's okay; I learned and grew from that experience. I grew a slightly thicker skin is all. Do check out some of the horror stories/experiences from dating hell that others confessed to. You might want to add a few of your own.

This is TorontoPearl signing off...

Die-Hard Blogger Does It Again...(Burns the Candle at Both Ends)

Blogroll Me!

I'm starting this post at 1:22 a.m. -- it will be interesting to see when I actually publish it.

Lots is going on and I'm antsy all around.

I am flying this evening to L.A. First I am going to work, rushing out of work, dropping my car off at my parents, where I'm also meeting my husband and children who will drive me to the airport.

This evening I packed. Actually I packed, unpacked, packed again, pushed, stuffed,unwrinkled, wrapped and rewrapped...and in the morning I will have to do it all again. My garment bag is stuffed; I'm changing my luggage to a suitcase. (actually I'll do it after I finish this post...I'll be rushing in the a.m.)

What?! She's going for four days and she needs a suitcase?

Yes, I need a suitcase; just call me a female. I need multiple pairs of shoes, two hats, and tons of space for mostly for people who are strangers (in some specific case, "STRANGE") to me. That is my carryon luggage -- a bag of gifts--hardly any room for my toiletries, but gifts galore. Maybe I'll stand in the Air Canada aisles of the plane and hawk the goods. "Wholesale, get your gifts wholesale..."

Anyways, yes I'm a last minute kind of person what with packing the night before and repacking the morning of...but Shabbos was in the way, Shavuot was in the way, life was in the way.

I am greatly anticipating this journey of mine. I have not traveled on my own for MANY MANY MANY years, and the last time being from Toronto to NYC. It is a journey, because I'm going into territory, which for me, is uncharted. But thanks to the world of blogging that I've partaken in for the past six months, I will arrive into this unfamiliar territory and will be warmly met and greeted by fellow bloggers.

I reiterate that the blogging world is expansive, yet it bridges many distances, narrows the margins and geographical spaces so that I can say, "You live there and you write to us here" not that "You live WA..Y....Y....Y over there and I live WA....Y....Y....Y....over here."

I'm tired, my head is pounding, I have to unpack and repack, get some sleep and wake up at 6:30, so I will bid you a fond adieu as I take my leave for the next few days to LA LA LAND.

Wishing you all well...and just a pearly of wisdom: "It's not always best to leave things to the last minute."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Jewish Child's Thinking

Blogroll Me!

I am a Jewish adult. Once upon a time (but really not all that long ago) I was a Jewish child. Check out the linking title to see my post on THE JEWISH CONNECTION; get to know the child that I once was...

Hope you all had a fishy, cheesy, milk-it-for-all-its-worth Shavuot!


P.S. Today is my oldest child's 10th birthday.

Happy Birthday, A.

Must say that I don't know where the past 10 years have gone--your arrival made Aba and I new members of the parenthood club. Yes, membership has its trials and tribulations, but we wouldn't miss it for the world.

Don't know that you'll ever get to read this, although you do know that your "Ema has a blog." But know that I love you, will always love you and will continue to declare it to the world in various ways, even via blogs and published poetry.

You are a special boy whose potential shines through each moment of each day. You made us proud parents 10 years ago; each day only reinforces that fact.

May G-d grant you good health and a long life, and may G-d also grant you the wisdom to make good choices in life.


A Proud Ema

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Just Orthodox"

Blogroll Me!

See my latest addition over at THE JEWISH CONNECTION.

In case I don't "connect" with you people tomorrow, or this weekend, have a Good Shabbos and a Chag Sameach -- for all you Shabbos/Shavuot observers.

***May you "schlep nachos" from your surrounding families. (but for the sake of this Yom Tov, make certain they're CHEESE nachos!)

A Moment of Silliness

Blogroll Me!

Hey, people, I just noticed something -- my numbers are up (site meter stats), my comments are down. What's up with that? I mean, down with that? I mean...oh, you know what I mean.

Get readin', get writin' and give me that 'rithmetic!

I Made the Cover of a (Virtual) Magazine

Blogroll Me!

Wow, today I became...a cover story of a magazine. My Detroit-based blogging buddy AirTime has captured some of my "pearlies" for posterity's sake. He's "made an issue out of me."

Thanks, AirTime.

Check it out for yourselves.

Schlepping Nachos All the Way

Blogroll Me!

(I hope the following is not truly deemed lashon harah; for me, it was a perk in my otherwise boring day.)

I have a dear dear dear friend who's been in my life for about 25 years. We went to high school together, really bonding when we were in our last year, we went to university together and we stayed friends through courtships and marriages and children.

Although Jewish, this friend wasn't raised in any kind of observant, or even traditional home. But she's made great strides over the years, has a better understanding of Jewish customs, religious terms and the like, and more importantly a respect for Yiddishkeit even while still not being observant in any real way, except for some family meals on Rosh Hashana and basic seder/meals on Pesach.

I'd e-mailed her and mentioned that my oldest son had a mishna presentation yesterday at the school, which I attended, and it was a lovely evening put together by some shlichim for the grade 4's and 5's.

My friend wrote back, "You must have been schlepping nachos with A's mishna presentation!"

Of course it was an error, a misguided response...but I smiled widely upon reading her words. They warmed my heart, just as seeing my son last night perform with his class on stage had me schepping naches!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

School Days Revisited

Blogroll Me!

On one of my favorite blogs, Seraphic Press, Robert Avrech talks about a school incident from yesteryear. Okay, so it might have been from yesteryear, but the incident has had long-lasting physical, emotional and mental effects on him.

It is horrible to think that many schools and yeshivas of the past used a strong hand --literally and figuratively (I first wrote "physically" by mistake!) to teach their students. Verbal abuse would be heaped upon a young child, as he or she stood before the class. Of course, many of these children who were at the wrong end of such treatments lived with this emblazoned shame, thinking and understanding that they were at fault, that they deserved this kind of treatment being bestowed upon them.

At such impressionable ages, children were meant to "set an example" for their peers, but at the same time further opening themselves to ridicule not just from the administrative staff, but from classmates, as well. Reputations were made or broken as a result, as were childish egos.

It is heartbreaking and aggravating to learn of such treatments that happened in schools in the "good old days."

Thank G-d I was a good student, albeit shy, and don't recall ever being marked for a teacher's ire or its resulting consequences...except for one incident. When I was in my first year of junior high, in seventh grade, a teacher said something to me that every now and again plays in my head like a broken record. Is it supposed to be a reminder to me of how I am behaving and how I should be behaving? Is it a reminder that everyone has their good and bad days and sometimes just let loose on anyone who is in their path?

It was French class with Mr. K. -- a cute, Jewish guy in his early thirties, I suspect. Yes, he was cute, but I think he was also a bit anal in appearance, attitude, teaching methods. One particular day, my classmates were not in the most responsive of moods -- Mr. K was asking questions and the kids weren't too interested in answering them. Some kids raised their hands, others did not. I was one of those who did...and did...and did. I wanted to participate, I wanted to please him in showing that I knew the answer. I suddenly transformed into Arnold Horshak, aka Horshak, from Welcome Back, Kotter. You know, the one who sits at his desk, raises his hand and says, "OH,OH,OH," trying to draw attention to himself so that Mr. Kotter might call on him. Well, in my Mr. K's class, I was raising my hand, waving it around and trying to get him to pick me because nobody else was bothering to answer. And then he blurted out: "PEARL...STOP ANTAGONIZING ME!" Now, for a shy kid to be put on the spot like that by her teacher is crushing. Okay, so maybe I was bothersome a bit that particular day, but it was not as if there were several other hands going up. I knew answers, I wanted to answer questions. But instead I got that figurative slap in the face.

Can I be a nudnik, as my Mr. K hinted at? Yes -- and several fellow bloggers already know that. But the teacher could have said, "Pearl. I do see you with your hand up. I will call on you, but want to give some other students a chance to answer. Let's take turns answering, shall we?" That's only several more syllables than his original statement; it takes only a few more breaths to say; it's much gentler; it doesn't hurt as much.

I cannot imagine being in a position as Robert Avrech was. Bullied by a seemingly "eesh chashuv" (important person), someone who is supposed to be a leader, someone you are supposed to look up to, someone students in a different kind of world might have chosen to emulate, had he been a different kind of person.

Those types of teachers and administrators described by Robert could never truly be the victors. But people like Robert were certainly the victims.

A Blogger's Interface

Blogroll Me!

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of meeting fellow blogger M from Ink as Rain. She is a 17-year-old who was briefly visiting Toronto on her senior school trip.

I first learned about her several months ago on Robert Avrech's blog Seraphic Secret. He featured her review/personal feelings about Robert's recently released book, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. He is a longtime major Hollywood, award-winning screenwriter who was impressed enough with her outlook and her language to share her words with us. I was impressed enough to write to her and tell her how impressed I was with her.

M is a prolific writer, reader and an all-around good gal. I don't know her all that well, but when you read blogs, you also end up reading a lot between the lines. And those spaces do say a lot about this young woman, as have her messages to me over the past several months.

I was pleased when she contacted me last week and asked if we could perhaps meet. After consulting her trip schedule, it was decided that I'd come after work to meet her at the restaurant where they were having dinner. She warned me that she'd be wearing a blue kerchief.

As I entered the restaurant to a throng of teen girls dressed in a sea of denim, and looked around, I spotted her. She was pretty much what I'd imagined her to be: sweet, gentle and overall what I've always been called, "a nice Jewish girl"! Over the adolescent voices and the clink of cutlery and dishes, we managed to hold a brief "getting to know you" conversation.

She'd been very excited to meet me, had told some of her friends about it, and some of her fellow bloggers whose blogs I've visited were also on the trip. They, too, were happy to meet me, having heard all about me. Wow, a pseudo-blogging celebrity...!

I looked at M, I looked at her peers and thought to myself: "If I'd been handed a different deck of cards to play with in my life, I might very well have had a daughter that age."

Okay, so my own daughter is not yet that age, but in the meantime I'm happy enough to know someone that age who is wise beyond her years.

Her family should be proud of her, this high school graduate who is setting out to learn in a seminary in Israel, and later go on to college. I wish her lots of mazel on reaching this point in her life and setting off on a new and seemingly unknown course.

And one more thing, "Hey, M, may the blogging force be with you!"

Christian Debt Removers

Blogroll Me!

Here I am, writing about my Yiddishkeit on this blog and on The Jewish Connection, and what SPAM message do I find in my e-mail account this morning? A message with the subject line: Remove your debt the Christian way.

I opened it up to find a message from, "debt elimination services based on Christian principles." And the ad cites Proverbs 22:7: "The a slave to the lender."

I didn't know if I should laugh or curse. Should I contact them and say, "I'm Jewish, but 'take my debts please'?" (a la Henny Youngman)

Maybe they would laugh at me and say, "Go seek your own. You have many Shylocks among your people."

In the interest of all, Christian Debt Removers, please first remove my name from your distribution list. Then we can consider our account paid in full.

A Match Made on a Blog

Blogroll Me!

Blogger buddy Neil Fleischmann (Rabbi Neil Fleischmann to you folks) is in a play in NYC. It sounds like a blast -- I'm jealous it's not playing in Toronto, and wish that such an interactive production would make its way here. If any of you live in or around the Big Apple, do go check it out and let me (and Rabbi Neil) know what you thought of it.

Here are the essentials...oh, and MAZAL TOV!

A Match Made in Manhattan

Center for Jewish Discovery, 199 West 19th Street

June 6, 2005

Mon at 8pm

$55 includes Glatt Kosher dinner 212-924-3200

includes Neil Fleischmann, Mordy Lahasky, Kimberly Rae Miller, Peter Jablonski, Richard Lurie, Aaron Braunstein, Michelle Slonim and more

A Match Made in Manhattan is subtitled "The Interactive Jewish Wedding Experience." The press release says: "A Match Made in Manhattan involves the audience in all the festivities of a traditional Jewish wedding--and much more! This wild-and-crazy affair features hors d'ouevres, the ketubah signing, the badeken, the chupah ceremony, an elegant Glatt-kosher three-course meal with champagne toast, live music and dancing, riveting drama, and more laughs and tears than any other wedding you've ever attended."

It comes from the folks who gave us Destinations and Second Chances. The meal is catered by the Glatt Kosher restaurant The Village Crown, which specializes in gourmet Moroccan cuisine. Dinner is included in the ticket price; a cash bar is open throughout the evening.


Blogroll Me!

My mind has been churning, my fingers have been furiously typing. You can look to THE JEWISH CONNECTION (linked by post title) to see what has been on my mind these past couple of days...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Backhanded Compliment

Blogroll Me!

I was helping my seven-year-old daughter this evening with her homework (after I came home from meeting a fellow blogger visiting from the U.S. -- story perhaps for a future post). The assignment had her having to find and list 2, 3, 4, and 5-letter words within a much larger word. She was having a tough go of it, so I stood over her, suggested ways to help her seek out words. After a time, I started to give her some answers, too. (there was other homework to be done, and we didn't have all night to get to it.)

She seemed rather impressed with my ability to find quite a number of words within the word because suddenly she said very loudly and happily, "THANKS!" and then she said, "You're smarter than you look like." Thanks a lot, daughter of mine! I love you, too.

There's a New Blog in Town...

Blogroll Me!

One small step for mankind; one giant step for Jewish bloggers.

Check out The Jewish Connection, a new blog at

As a newbie, it it just getting off the ground, but I think it will soon be flying.

I feel privileged to have been invited to join the flight crew and I hope that you will seek out these horizons -- some new, some familiar.

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

"Called Your Number on the Telephone, Just To See If You Were Home..."

Blogroll Me!

Ahhh, telemarketers. Some of our favorite -- NOT! -- people in the world. Even more favorite when they call at dinnertime or when you're readying a young child for a bath or are already overseeing bathtime.

This evening, I witnessed the following scene. I was pleasantly surprised by it.


Husband answers the phone.

He listens. "It depends who's calling."

He listens. "Sorry, we're not home."

He hangs up. He has a big smile on his face.

(Turns out it was a time-sharing resort who wanted to make our acquaintance...)

Wow...what gumption. Mr. TorontoPearl proved that one can actually say what one only imagines they'd like to a telemarketer.

When I answer the phone, see a number I don't recognize, and someone at the other end says, "May I please speak to Mr. or Mrs. TorontoPearl?" I automatically say, "I'm sorry they're not available now. May I please give them a message..." When they tell me what service or agency they're calling from, I tell them to try and call back in the middle of the day (when I'm sure nobody will be home to accept their call).

Perhaps Mr. TorontoPearl became a little bold over the phone this evening because he read this message, which I forwarded to him today. Some handy hints...

Andy Rooney's tips for telemarketers

1) Three Little Words That Work!
The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..."
Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep", you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible.

This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system.

Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Random Acts of Kindness

I've been tagged by the brilliant and most eloquent 17-year-old blogger behind Ink As Rain to note 5 random acts of kindness that I have completed.

I'd like to think that I do them all the time without being conscious of it, but now that I've been asked to share them with the blogging world, it's much more difficult to pinpoint. But here goes:

1. I was out with my daughter today at a mall and was in the toy section of Sears, when I saw a doll from a Barbie's Kelly collection.The doll was called Becky, and I suddenly thought of a girl at work whose name is Rebecca, but whom everyone calls Becky. It's not that I'm even close with this girl, but I thought she might get a kick from this miniature doll, and so I bought Becky for Becky. Can't wait to see her reaction tomorrow at work when I give her this unexpected toy.

2. I can be notorious for leaving dishes in the sink between meals if I'm under a time constraint. Today I happened to stop at my parents' home when they weren't around, had a drink and washed the glass and put it in the drainer.

3. Lately I've been gladly offering my knowledge of the publishing world to fellow bloggers who have asked. I even gave someone more information than they requested with some job-related Web sites, and even a contact name at a company.

4. At my children's swimming lessons this morning, I was talking to a fellow parent who has an autistic son taking lessons as well. I searched for pen and paper in my purse to write down a recommendation of a book I'd read many many years ago about a family and their experiences with their autistic son, who seemingly overcame his disabilities. If anyone is interested, the book is called Son-Rise, written by Barry Neil Kaufman, and I think it came out in the late 1970s.

5. My final random act of kindness is that I AM NOT GOING TO TAG ANYONE SPECIFIC WITH THIS. I've learned that not everyone appreciates these "chains," although I have no problems with completing them. But I will throw it open to all my [many/few] readers. Please feel free to tag yourselves and share with us in your blog or in my comments section, 5 recent acts of kindness you've done.


Footnote: It so happens that in a couple of days I will be meeting this blogger who tagged me. She will be in Toronto and we arranged to meet. I'm looking forward to it. A week later I will be meeting other fellow bloggers.

I think it is rare that bloggers get the chance to meet; if they do, that veil of mystery and anonymity is lifted and they become two strangers who get to meet, rather than remain as just two strangers. And very often, strangers do become friends...

The Simple Pleasures in Life

Blogroll Me!

"Doesn't take much to make me happy
or make me smile with glee..."

I think I live by those song lyrics -- I take pleasure in the simplest things in life: my husband's good and generous nature, my children's smiles and laughter, a robin's song, the smell of freshly-cut grass, a rainfall, my ability to find just the right words to help me say or write just the right thing, my love for music and singing, giving compliments, lending a helping hand, having a good rapport with family and friends, etc.

Of course, I could write pages and pages of blog posts about the simple pleasures in my life. But I won't take my time -- or yours -- to do so. You each have your own simple pleasures; some might match mine.

Basically, I think we are happy if we are healthy, if our families are healthy. Truly, everything else is secondary.

But I will say that one of my simple pleasures is going on a Web site that I discovered not all that long ago: I love to see the successes they've had in matching up people, I love to read these people's stories relayed in brief to us readers and learn how they met and how the "courtship" evolved. I love learning that there are two fewer single people in the world -- these people have met their basherts and are setting on a new life course...together.

For me it isn't about the mitzvah of matching someone up, or the mitzvah of them marrying to fulfill "Pru Urvu" -- it's the simple fact that two people have found each other, two people with similar outlooks and an attraction to one another, and a mutual goal. Two people who deserve a chance to be happy together.

I am elated when I meet people who've met at their workplaces and later married, or the few people that I know who went on, met and eventually married.

To share in someone's happiness, even a stranger's, is a wonderful means of seeing beyond yourself, beyond your own happiness...and appreciating the simple pleasures in life.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I'm Not Too Sure About That Second Quote; Care To Comment?

Blogroll Me!

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. — Cyril Connolly

Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators. — Albert Camus

Barney Is Behaving Badly

Blogroll Me!

I have three young children. These children need to brush their teeth at least twice a day. These children should not use adult toothpaste so I buy them children's toothpaste.

Supermom buys them fun toothpastes with superheroes, princesses, adventurers depicted on the tubes. Supermom buys them musical tube toothpastes. Children know not to use musical tube toothpastes on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Barney is a musical tube toothpaste. Barney plays that haunting -- read: now annoying -- melody, "Barney Is a Dinosaur..." Children know that they have to brush for as long as the music plays.

Some time ago, the tube got ferkakt, lid was broken off from tube and musical cap sat alone. At some other point in time, musical cap got wet from sitting on the vanity beside the sink. Music cap is now ferkakt. Music cap has a mind of its own...deciding to play music whenever it wants, by itself, without any prompting from children.

Supermom is at her computer late one night when she hears a tinny, faint sound of music. She is scared, does not know where music is coming from. She traces it to its source: musical tube toothpaste cap. Supermom slams the cap on the vanity to make the music stop. Supermom feels that she is in a modern-day episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Supermom forgets the episode and goes about doing all the things that earned her the title Supermom (she might have earned it, but truly does not deserve it; title should be bestowed upon hubby because he is Supermom and Superdad; now I am just being Supersilly!).

For the past few days, Barney is behaving badly. He seems to want to have the last word. He entertains us with his music at all hours of the night, when children and Superdad are sleeping and Supermom is being Superblogger.

Tonight Barney was relegated to a bathroom drawer. That wasn't good enough for him. He insisted on being heard. I truly wonder when he will next be showcasing his identifying song. I truly wonder if I should give him the final curtain and toss him away...into the garbage, where all toothpaste tubes and their caps end up.

Perhaps not just yet. I think Barney is proving that he is SuperToothpasteCapEntertainer. After all, he can be anything and do anything for: [everbody together now] "Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination..."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"Red Rover, Red Rover, Do We Let Spielberg Go Over?"

Blogroll Me!

Click on the linking title; first I heard of this "Hollywood moment".

All I have to say is "Spielberg, if you're reading this, you should BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!"


An afterthought: "Der Spiegel" -- the magazine named in the linked post -- translated from German means "the mirror". Steven, can you really look at yourself in the mirror now, and say you're pleased with what you said in Tom's defense? Maybe the mirror should crack and you should get some seven years of bad luck. Does Scientology allow these wives' tales in their doctrine?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dial T for Telephone

Blogroll Me!

One of my sons will G-d willing turn 10 over Shavuot. I don't know where the time has flown, I just know that it has.

He was born in a downtown hospital on an early-morning Wednesday, and although we were supposed to bring him home Friday around noon, there were reasons to keep him in the hospital and put him in the neonatal intensive care unit. Imagine, bli ayin harah, a 9 1/2 lb. baby boy in among teeny tiny preemies who looked like little dolls; my son looked like a two-month old! I even came down at one point in his stay in that department to find that my little strong man had pulled out his IV from his hand. (mind you, he did the same thing 2 1/2 years later when he had an IV-type contraption in his hand for taking blood samples, gave it to the nurse and insisted we leave.)

Thank G-d, after having to stay over Shabbat in the hospital after all, but with my husband able to stay with me, we were able to bring our clean-bill-of-health firstborn home on the Sunday -- Father's Day.

I remember sitting in the back seat of the car, our precious cargo in the infant car seat beside me. I kept looking down at him, and then out at the world beyond the car window. It was a glorious, hot sunny day, and I remember seeing everything with a new perspective; it was as if I'd been reborn and had missed out on the most mundane things for the past several days as I was in the hospital.

We came home -- not as a couple, but as a family.

Now, I don't really know why I took you down Memory Lane of June 1995, but I think it's got something to do with the idea of changes/progress/maturity, so I could lead into this much-shorter tale.

This a.m. I was driving that son to school for early morning davening, and we were listening to the radio deejay. He had a caller on, who was hesitant in answering a question. The deejay said, "You just wanted to be on the air, didn't you?"

At that point, I had a flashback of a girlfriend and I continually calling radio stations when we were young teenagers, hoping the phone would ring, get picked up and our song request would be aired for all of Toronto to hear (or at least everyone who had their A.M. radio set at that moment to that particular station and was listening). So I started to tell my son, "When we were young, my friend and I would dial a radio station to--"

"What's 'dial'"? my bechor asked.

Oh, the times, they are a-changin'....