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 works...so 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****