Thursday, March 30, 2006
Battle of the Sexes...or Love, Italian-Style
I linked to this, and sat grinning like a fool throughout watching it.
Apparently, attitudes are international; stereotypes are, too!
(Honey, pass me the remote, and why don't you make your own popcorn for a change?)
*2:20 p.m. This joke just in:
A young couple on their wedding night were in their honeymoon suite. As they were undressing for bed, the husband, a big burly man, tossed his trousers to his new bride. He said, "Here, put these on."
She put them on and the waist was twice the size of her body. "I cant wear your trousers," she said.
"Thats right," said the husband, "and don't you ever forget it. I'm the man who wears the pants in this family."
With that she flipped him her panties and said, "Try these on."
He tried them on and found he could only get them on as far as his kneecaps.
"Hell," he said. " I can't get into your panties!"
She replied, "That's right...and that's the way it is going to stay until your attitude changes."
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Any Leonard Cohen Fans Out There?
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
This May, in all of our Chapters and Indigo stores, we will be celebrating the work and music of Leonard Cohen, including his soon to be launched new book of poetry Book of Longing.
On May 13th, at 4 o'clock, we will have the privilege of hosting Leonard for a very special event, at our flagship Indigo location on Bay and Bloor in Toronto.
We are planning to make the visit a very special tribute to this extraordinary man whose music and writing have touched the heart and soul of so many. As part of the tribute, we would like to present Leonard with a hand-bound book of actual letters and notes from Canadians across the country. And so the reason for this letter.
If you would like to have a personal note or letter, expressing what his work has meant to you, included in this book, please send it to me directly at the following address:
Leonard Cohen Tribute Book
Indigo Books & Music, Inc.
468 King Street West, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M5V 1L8
Our commitment is to do our best to include every note we receive by April 15th, in its original form.
Have a great day
P.S. The first 1,000 people who pre-order Book of Longing on-line will receive a signed first edition copy.
P.P.S. Coincidental with the launch of Book of Longing, his soulmate Anjani will be releasing Blue Alert, a recording of 12 new Leonard Cohen songs. I have heard this CD and it is nothing short of magical. It is available for pre-order at indigo.ca and will be released on May 5th.
+ View Leonard Cohen's Collection
Max Says, "I'm Da Man!"
First of all, that's not me in the picture above, either. For one, I'm Canadian (Quebecois, in fact) and not American; secondly, I'm not white. I'm black...and proud of it! (But once again, Mom liked the picture and thought I needed a patriotic boost.)
Hi. My name is Max. My mom's name is Pearl, my dad's name is Pearl's husband. My brothers' names are Pearl's boys, my sister's name is Pearl's girl.
How're those for juicy details?
Okay, sorry to do this to you folks, but I don't think I can blog at this time. I promised you photos of me, not some cheap knockoff Mom substituted for me, and stories to tell. But Ralphie offended my sensibilities big-time in that last post of mine. He called my stuff "junk"! It is not junk; it was never junk; it will never be junk.
Ralphie, someone's junk is someone else's treasure...or even family jewels. I protect these family jewels and don't need West Coasters calling them otherwise. Got that, California boy?
Okay, so I'm feeling a little sorry for myself; I thought I'd made it big-time in Blogville, setting up dates with cute beagles named Bella, and comparing notes about Shabbos with other Jewish dogs, and just using up my mom's computer time. But apparently not everyone thinks I'm so good...harrumph...calling my personal belongings junk!
Okay, I've vented enough for now. I've got to go check out Phoebe, that little white cute thing who lives a few houses away. Believe me, it's much easier to have a local relationship with Phoebe than a long-distance one with Bella.
So, I might catch you another time...I might not. Ralphie, do me a favor and go hound another dog! Not me...'cause "I'm Da Man!"
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Field of Souls and Stones
Just in case you missed the poem down below...
Today I Am...a Jewish Dog
This is not me. This is a cheap, stand-in canine model that my mom, TorontoPearl, found to put on her blog.
She only thinks it looks a lot like me. But I'm much cuter -- I've even been known to stop traffic.
And although I'm thought to be a shih-poo, my mom came home one night after walking me and exclaimed to the family, "Max is not a shih-poo; he's a THREE-POO." (She only thinks I didn't hear that, but if she knew she had offended me, her guilt complex would be bigger than it already is. Currently it stands as the size of Cleveland.)
Right now I'm a bit too lazy to write and tell you about what it means to become...a Jewish dog. I will come back to share my thoughts with you, but in the meantime ponder this: "It's a pain in the canine tuches."
Love, Max (the canine formerly known as Snoopy)
And One More for Good Luck
Much of my poetry over the years has been marked by a sadness, a melancholy or sometimes even a morbid aspect. Why? Guess 'cause much of the time when I wrote my poems I was feeling sorry for myself for one reason or other...but primarily, my poems have been Holocaust-related, and thus profoundly sad at times.
I was just published in Poetica Magazine, a Jewish poetry journal that originates in Virginia. I was notified on New Year's Day 2005 that one of my submitted poems was accepted for publication; it took until the March 2006 issue to see my name in print. (the journal is published 3 times/year).
The published poem is also somewhat sad; its setting is a Jewish cemetery. The poem is about taking my daughter to see my grandfather's grave...and the poem is true. It is just a slice of life -- a day in the life of... -- and I'm more than happy that a poetry editor in Virginia was interested to read about my slice of life, and thought that others would be interested, too.
And One More for Good Luck
It is visiting day at the Roselawn Cemetery.
I take my daughter in hand and go to his grave.
Is it wrong for me to bring a young child to this field of souls and stones?
Is it wrong for me to want her to meet her great-grandfather for the first time?
We stand before the cool granite, shaded by a maple tree.
She asks me to read the headstone.
I slowly recite the familiar words, enunciating slowly and surely so that
perhaps she will understand the meaning behind them.
I’d been a little girl, even younger than she is now,
when he was brought to his final resting place.
Thirty-eight years have passed, and the engraved message is true:
“In our hearts you live forever.”
I put a stone on the arch of the marker. She places a stone beside mine.
I put another one on the smooth granite. She adds another, and another.
“And one more…for good luck,” she exclaims,
and excitedly lifts up a rock she has found,
stretching on tiptoe to place it alongside the other, smaller stones
lined up like soldiers preparing for battle.
We step away and she looks at her artistry, beaming.
“Can I hug it?” The headstone, she means.
I shrug. “Sure, go ahead.”
And as she does so, I decide it’s a Kodak moment, but I’m sans camera
so I’ll have to etch the scene into my memory.
We walk through the cemetery gates,
leaving behind the field of souls and stones.
Later, when asked, “How was the cemetery?”
she says with much enthusiasm, “GREAT!”
And when asked why she wanted to hug the gravestone,
she replies matter-of-factly, “Because I never got to meet him.”
(Oh, and happy birthday to my brother -- you stand tall at 6'4"; you truly do stand head and shoulders above the rest in many more ways. Happy 46th birthday! Love, from your 5' 7 1/2" younger sister.)
Saturday, March 25, 2006
"One Moment in Time"
Whitney Houston had a hit with this song several years back.
If each of you could have "one moment in time" to do anything, meet anyone, say anything, recreate anything...the possibilities are endless...how would you use that "one moment in time"?
I would like to see and meet those grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins whom I never got to meet. The grandmothers I'm named for, the aunts my children are named for, all those relatives that died an untimely death.
I guess I'd like to be at the scene of a paternal and maternal family sitting for a portrait...going back to great-grandparents, at least. I would like the names and family relationship details listed over everyone's head.
Given that "one moment in time" I'd be more content, more settled...for all my life, I've felt as if my life were one big jigsaw puzzle, with many of the pieces missing.
Friday, March 24, 2006
OPRAH, Eat Your Heart Out, Girl!
Nu...Oprah....so you think you got it goin' on, dontcha? (okay...you do)
But I know someone else -- rather, somewhere else -- that's got it goin' on, even more than you do.
The faculty there is outstanding, the courses vast and varied. The student body is supreme...so supreme in fact that they often know more than the professors.
Take for example, yesterday. The fine students of this institution for higher learning (it's so high, it's said to be heaven-sent) got together with a reading list. A list that goes above and beyond the scope of your offerings, Oprah.
Who really needs the Oprah Book Club, when you can have the Seraphic University Book Club...!?
Coffee and babke are served at every meeting -- a tasty bonus.
So, Oprah, put down the book you're reading -- okay, if it's Elie Wiesel's Night, finish it first! -- and come visit Seraphic University's reading center. You'll be glad you did.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The Sleepover...Is Simply...Over
When I was younger and would go out to Jewish singles' functions, my friends and family would later ask me, "So, did you have a good time?"
Oftentimes my answer was "I had a time."
My son was invited to a sleepover for a friend's birthday. Several boys were invited to help celebrate the boy turning 11. The "event" was supposed to be from 7 p.m. till 10 a.m.
Only problem: It wasn't a sleepover. It was simply an "over."
When I went to pick up my son at 10 a.m., with my other two children in the car, with my great plans to spend a free day (PD Day) off school (and I off work), he very happily told me, "We didn't sleep."
"WHAT!?? What kind of sleepover is that?" I asked aloud.
"We watched a movie, we played Game Cube, we watched another movie, we played more video games..."
"Didn't the parents tell you guys to go to sleep?"
"The father told us that if we were quiet, we could stay up."
Well, I guess the boys were quiet enough -- they stayed up.
So I just want you all to know: I now am the mother of 2 children and a zombie.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Hodu L'Hashem Ki Tov Ki Leolam Chasdo
A great interpretation of "Hodu L’Hashem Kitov Ki Leolam Chasdo" – we usually translate it as “Praise Hashem because His kindness is forever.” The right way to translate "Hodu L’Hashem Kitov Ki Leolam Chasdo" is “Praise Hashem because He is good, because His Chesed is hidden.”
My father was rushed to the hospital on March 1st suffering from a seizure; he then had several between home, the ambulance and the emergency room. The doctors thought he'd suffered a major stroke and if he survived would be severely at a loss. I made peace with what was to be -- unfortunately our family has gone through several serious hospitalizations and medical conditions with my father over the years. His head has had several traumas: He had undergone brain surgery over 24 years ago for a benign tumor, he suffered a mild stroke six years ago, he fell and hit his head and was in intensive care three years ago. How many times can a person fight back, I wondered.
The early days were difficult -- yes, he was moving his limbs and his mouth, but was in a pseudo-catatonic state that was difficult to witness. When he was talking a bit, his memory and thought processes were terribly clouded and confusion reigned. Confusion led to my father getting out of bed two nights in a row, falling and severely hurting his eye area and elbow area.
But as the days passed, the clouds lifted...and my dear father was coming back to us.
He was rushed on a gurney to the hospital on March 1st. On March 17th, my father was able to walk out of that hospital, albeit now with a cane, but able to go home...and not to a home.
Yes, the days ahead won't be easy or the same for my father and mother, but there are days ahead to look forward to. Birthdays and significant anniversaries to celebrate, bar mitzvahs and weddings to look forward to. Perhaps baby steps will carry him to those events, but at least he is around to take them.
Once again, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and from the rest of my family, for all the goodness you've shown, for all the prayers you offered up, for the warm messages you sent me or posted. Each of your words, each of your thoughts have meant so much to all of us.
Please forgive me if I missed anyone, but I think I captured all those that wrote to me, or commented on my blog, on Seraphic Secret's or on Cruisin' Mom's in the words below. Some of you are not "blog keepers" but I still tried to work you in.
Thank you one and all.
Good friends are like stars....You don't always see them but you know they are always there.
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."-- Helen Keller
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Black Like Me
(another long-overdue promised post)
(taken from The Psychology of Color)
Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.
Okay, I like the "stylish and timeless" reference and the "people appear thinner" statement. So the correlating statement -- "TorontoPearl is stylish, timeless and thin." -- holds true.
I was supposed to travel to L.A. last week to attend a wedding and to meet up with a cacophony of bloggers with whom I correspond. Yes, yes, I know that noun isn't normally used that way, but imagine a gathering of a dozen or so Jewish bloggers in a Jewish deli trying to hold a conversation...thus a cacophony of bloggers, no?
Anyhow, back to black...
So I was supposed to attend this wedding and knew I already had something I could wear (black) but several weeks ago, when I got the invitation and was still just deliberating traveling across the country to the wedding, I began to look in the stores at other outfits (black) for the wedding. I bought a dress (black) "just in case" I thought my existing outfit wouldn't work. I loved the pleated sleeves, I loved the cut and I loved the simple yet overall elegant look. My honest husband liked the dress, but commented truthfully that because of its thinness (I thought the description is "fine material.") it showed all my bumps and curves. Now, I normally have no real curves, so we weren't talking about the same thing! Hey, this dress is black, I thought. It's supposed to make me look thin! But I put it aside and thought I'd keep looking for the perfect outfit...and maybe I could get rid of some of those bumps and curves over the next 3 weeks.
I began to look through my closet at the clothes I would pack and it hit me: my wardrobe resembles that of an Italian widow. Black, black and more black. I have several pairs of black shoes, a collection of black pantyhose (with some "nightshade" pairs thrown in as a diversion), I have black suits, black skirts, black sweatersm, black hats to go with those black outfits.
When did I begin to wear black? I wondered to myself. Of course, when I was young, nobody wore black. Kids just didn't do that...unless it was black socks. Okay, I cheated, I had some black turtlenecks and black ski pants for those days I pretended to be a snow bunny (who doesn't know how to ski one iota), but usually I wore the black turtlenecks under brightly covered cardigans and sweaters, bringing my look back to life.
I'm a fair-skinned person with dark hair, and yes black does look good on me, but I didn't venture into the black clothing arena perhaps till I was in my mid-teens. Slowly, slowly, it began with sweaters, then skirts, then pants, then shoes..and then it just took off. Formal, evening wear was bought in various styles of black -- it was that elegant look I was aiming for then.
Many years later, much of my wardrobe was bought in various styles and shades of black -- it was that thinning look I was aiming for by that time.
One of my funniest "black" instances was at my engagement party. I had a lovely two piece suit that was black with white polka dots -- no, I didn't look like a Barnum & Bailey clown, although you might picture that in your mind. It was a very elegant look because of the sheerness and classy look of the suit. Enter my future mother-in-law to the social hall. She's wearing...a white suit with black polka dots! As we stood side by side for photo opportunities and to greet guests, I'm guessing that the people around us must've been rubbing their eyes, trying to clear their vision from this seemingly odd eyesight test. I guess everyone was really seeing the world in black & white that evening!
It's funny about my wardrobe; as a kid, I wore lots of various shades of blue, which brought out my eye color. I wore beige for a bit, but that made me look bland and pale, as opposed to "fair." I began to wear teal and forest green, which received many compliments. And then, you'd think it would be as if I took a step backwards when I began to wear black, the color of nothingness, of void, of a vaccuum. But interestingly enough, I've received the MOST compliments when I wear black. (I'm just looking down at myself: black knit top, black skirt, black stockings...and dark blue shoes that look almost black.)
So... I plan to keep black as part of my wardrobe for a while longer yet...at least until I can once again receive a "thin" compliment without having to wear that color. After that, there's no telling what bright, vibrant and vivacious color you'll find me wearing...!
Creativity + Imagination = ?
You know once in a while you see bumper stickers on beat-up old vehicles; these stickers say something like: "My other car is a Rolls-Royce."
I was driving in to work not twenty minutes ago and passed an SUV Toyota Forerunner or some similar make and noticed its vanity plate: IM A BMW.
That got me thinking. I think I'll design a vanity T-shirt for myself. It's going to say:
I'm Einstein's Smarter Sister!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
The Celebrity Factor
I must admit; I'm often envious of Randi of Cruisin' Mom and Danny of Jew Eat Yet? These people drop names in their posts the way I drop soup mandlen into a hot bowl of chicken soup...they float around a while, then expand.
These two folks can sit in an eatery, lean over to the next table where some A-list or B-list celebrity is seated and say, "Can I please borrow your ketchup?" or "What kind of omelette is that you're having?" or " Excuse me, but aren't you _________? I love that movie_________ you starred in during the post-war years, the one in which you played a __________. And your current stage work...."
I was born with stars in my eyes... No, I don't want to be an actress or live the high life that some celebrities do; I just want to get a chance to meet some and talk to them about some of their work, but mostly about their take on life.
Toronto is known as Hollywood North -- movies and TV series are continually filmed here; we have a fabulous annual film festival that draws lots of headliner-type names; we don't lack for big names who visit and spend extended amounts of time in Toronto.
It's almost springtime. Soon, I will see orange pylons on many suburban and city streets with little markers. These indicate there is filming going on in the vicinity -- trucks and trailers, cables and dressing rooms, sets and extras abound. If I had endless hours in the day, I'd be out on the streets, seeking out those orange pylons, looking for some celebrity who might be around. But I only have time to read about local celebrity spottings in the pages of the daily newspaper...no time to spot the celebrities myself.
But look out if I do...I generally lose my inhibitions, ie. shyness, and just speak up in a real friendly way.
That is the way that I've met:
1. Donny Osmond. He was back in Toronto a number of years ago, doing a second run of "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". I was walking in a huge downtown mall, through the food court, and who's sitting there on a stool eating, but Donny dearest. I was probably in my late twenties or early thirties at the time, but let me tell you that the 14-year-old within me was envious as I passed him by, saying, "Hi...welcome back to Toronto. Hope you have a great run with the show."
2. Bruno Kirby and Matthew Broderick. They were in Toronto filming "The Freshman" and I was with my friends at a downtown juice bar, sitting at the counter on swivel seats like in an old diner. Someone was sitting beside me, got up and there, two people away from me was Matthew. I didn't want to infringe on his privacy right then and asked the counter guy if he'd ask Matthew if it would be okay to ask for his autograph. I got the green light and moved over beside him; in walks Bruno Kirby (yes, I knew of him wayyyyyyyy before When Harry Met Sally; I remember him from the 1960's Disney movies) and Matthew introduces me to him. Mr. Broderick introduced TorontoPearl to Bruno Kirby. I wasn't so gracious; I didn't turn the other way and introduce Matthew and Bruno to MY friends.
My greatest faux pas of that evening was asking Matthew, "What's it like working with the big guy?" ie. Marlon Brando. Yes, by that time, he was a BIG man, nothing of the hearththrob he'd once been. But I hadn't meant in stature, I'd meant in status, when I'd asked that.
3. Petula Clark. My girlfriend and I were in Montreal and walking on one of the nicer streets. We saw a commotion in front of a hotel, ie. news trucks with solar dishes on the roof, etc, and I said we should go in and see what's doing. There in the lobby was Petula Clark. She was being interviewed for some station and like Woody Allen in "Zelig", we popped up behind her for all the camera ops, ie. I took pics of my friend and Petula; she took pics of me. Then we chatted with her a bit. (I have similar "Zelig" pics with that same friend but in NYC, where we attended a couple of tapings of the Sally Jesse Raphael Show)
Okay, so it's not an impressive list -- there have been other celeb spottings and interfaces, but my mind is drawing a blank right now. Just know that it wouldn't be prudent to take me anywhere where you know there will be celebrities. I am likely to drop you, amble over to the celebrity and make conversation...before my shyness factor realizes what it is I'm doing and kicks into overdrive.
But Randi, and Danny, you give me your daily routine, tell me where you hang out, and next time I'm in L.A., I'll be sure to sit in YOUR seat, at YOUR favorite table, at YOUR favorite eatery or coffee shop, and I'll make conversation with YOUR favorite celebs. Don't worry...I'll have a picture of me taken with them to show you...and I'll get you their autograph as a bonus!
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Labels By Any Other Name
I'm long overdue for a post about Labels. I said I'd wanted to write one, and here it is.
Most of my life I was labeled -- sweet, generous, helpful, insighful, analytical, musical...and then there were those that weren't as nice: teacher's pet, browner, nerd, scaredy-cat...
Most kids learn to live with labels; some learn better with them, others are stifled in their personal growth because of these labels.
I've learned that most people do not like labels--labels often mark them as "different," or "odd" or "out of the norm". But sometimes labels help -- they provide some kind of identity, some kind of crutch.
When I was about 27 and having in-depth discussions about personal religious observances, etc., someone said, "Oh...so you're Conservadox." I asked for clarification and then was thrilled. My beliefs finally had a name! I wasn't teeter-tottering between levels of observance anymore; I was finally called something, and something relatively appropriate for me, for my family. It was no longer I, but WE, who were rightfully called Conservadox.
These days I dislike labels again...they're confusing, there are too many and most people hate to classify themselves. From time to time I go on JDate and Frumster.com to see if people I know who are single are advertising to meet people of the opposite sex. I am amazed by the divisions that you can fall into. Not only am I amazed, but I'm more than thankful that I'm not single, that I don't have to go this route and start classifying myself.
Frumster.com wants you to indicate your "Outlook." They have one header: Jewish. Under that is Traditional, Traditional & Growing, Conservative, Conservadox, Reform, Other. (What classifies "Other," I wonder.) There's a second header: Jewish Orthodox. Under that we've got Modern Orthodox Liberal, Modern Orthodox Machmir, Yeshivish Modern, Yeshivish Black Hat, Hassidish, Carlebachian (what, pray tell, does this mean...that you can carry a beatiful tune and lose yourself during the prayer service within the music...?) and Shomer Mitzvot.
G-d forbid a Modern Orthodox Liberal should contact a Yeshivish Black Hat... Perhaps never the twain shall meet. Is that the intent of these classifications for Frumster.com?
If being labeled is within my capacity, I'm usually labeled for something positive. I self-label myself mainly for those nasty negative traits: eg. I'm a procrastinator, I'm disorganized, etc.
Right now I'm labeling myself really tired, so I'll stop here. But let me ask this: Have you ever been knowingly labeled in your lifetime? Has it been beneficial for you in any way ora less-than-positive experience?
I thank you in advance for any comments.
A Blessing on Her Head...
Back in December I found out that a friend's daughter is engaged... I posted about it.
G-d willing, later today, that young woman will stand under the chuppah with her chossen, in essence her "chosen". She will look to the family and friends surrounding her, who've surrounded her all these years...and then she will step away from them and together with her husband will begin a new life together.
I wish them both much mazel, many brachot (blessings) as they embark on this wonderful new journey together...this journey of marriage.
The Way You Do The Things You Do
I know I blogged about this not all that long ago, but sometimes...ya just gotta repeat yourself!
I have a great husband...a special guy...a real find...a jewel to call my own.
I know that, but I think when others realize that as well, it means an awful lot.
This week alone I had three compliments about the special guy that Mr. TorontoPearl is. Two were from strangers who had reason to interact with him and later me. The third compliment was from someone who is not a stranger but is merely an acquaintance of mine in synagogue.
I can't begin to tell you what pleasure I get from hearing others speak so highly about my hubby, about what a kind and warm and friendly and concerned person he is. For me to know it is one thing; for others to recognize it on their own is like icing on a cake...extra-sweet.
His sweet and warm personality is not put-upon; it's genuine. His goodness is all gold. No, he is not perfect and he knows his weaknesses and flaws; thank G-d for that. He is a giver and rarely a taker. A good son, a wonderful husband and father, a more-than-decent human being.
Everything a girl could ask for...and more. That's Mr. TorontoPearl!
Friday, March 10, 2006
And the Rubber Chicken Award Goes To...
I have no clue where rubber chickens rank in this world. I know they're the brunt of many jokes, but I have no clue why.
My oldest son had to do a book report a few years ago, and along with the written report, had to do a presentation to the class as well. He was portrayed as a farm boy with a straw hat, suspenders...and the piece de resistance: a rubber chicken in place of the real thing.
My son is a quiet boy who shirks away from the limelight, but he held center stage with that rubber chicken who, when squeezed, let out a G-d-awful mourning cry.
Last year, your friend and fellow blogger, TorontoPearl, who herself often shirks away from the limelight, decided to use that chicken for her own devices.
If you went to megillah reading at Toronto's--and I believe North America's--largest Orthodox synagogue, and it was time to make noise after hearing the name "Haman", amidst the graggers and horns and clapping hands, and boos and hisses and stomping feet, you might have heard the lone, lengthy squawk of a rubber chicken up in the women's gallery.
Okay, so it's not a typical noisemaker for Purim, but sometimes I dare to be just a little bit different. And I saw the smiles it brought to adults' & children's faces, making my slight self-consciousness all that more worthwhile.
So...this Purim, look out. Pearl and her rubber chicken might be performing at a megillah reading near you!
Some More Food for Thought
The following is excerpted from Everyday Ethics by Joshua Halberstam.
When you judge other people, remember one overrriding axiom: "Everyone is having a hard time."
Everyone is insecure.
Everyone is hassled.
Everyone is tired -- we all need more sleep.
Everyone wishes he had more courage, more money and better social skills.
Everyone wants more glamour in his life, and we all desperately need more laughter.
Few can figure out how they ended up living the life they lead.
Don't be misled by flippant talk; it's a battle for everyone.
...Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life.
Shabbat Shalom, everyone.
Food for Thought: Carrots, Eggs & Coffee
You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again...
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to take it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard cooked egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, "What does it mean?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? (this could be a good thing) Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
A Note of Thanks
As many of you readers might have noticed, I like to write e-mails, and even blog posts. Writing comes relatively easy to me, as I just sort of write via streamofconsciousness, which for me, is the easiest.
So some of you have received personal notes from me in the past week, others have read my comments on other blogs.
I just want to say thank you for all your good wishes and prayers and notes since my father was taken ill last Wednesday and had to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital. He suffered a series of seizures; at first it was thought that he'd had a major stroke, but thank G-d it's not the case.
There has been vast improvement since last week; yes, my father will remain in hospital for several weeks yet for rehabilitation, but thank G-d he is a moving, speaking, feeling and thinking person.
I have always referred to my father, and even published a poem about him by this name, as my "Yiddishe phoenix." He keeps rising above all the difficulties he's faced throughout his 80+ years, and keeps coming back to us when many times it is clear he shouldn't have. My father, thank G-d, was granted a survivor's persona. If that hadn't been the case, he'd have given up long ago. He always sees that there is someone else worse off than he is, and does not feel sorry for himself and his medical conditions; he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders...it's never his own.
I had been planning a trip this week to California for a wedding and to meet the West Coast blogging contingent with whom I'm in touch. When friends Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret and Cruisin' Mom learned I had to cancel my trip and the reason why, they took it upon themselves to post about the difficulty that my family was going through and to request people pray for my father. The word got out, the comments and notes came in.
Prayers for my father, ongoing still, are being said in Toronto, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Washington, Nevada, Texas, UK, Jerusalem, Switzerland and many other points east, west, north and south. My friend, Doctor Bean of Kerckhoff Coffeehouse even posted a Mesheberach (prayer for the sick) online in a comments section with my father's Hebrew name inserted into the prayer. Talk about an online connection to G-d...
It is overwhelming how vast the blogging world is in reality, but how small it truly becomes.
I thank you all. My family thanks you, and they are also overwhelmed by all the goodness that permeates out there in blogland; we are mostly strangers to one another, but it is evident, that when most needed we become friends.
I grew up with my father always singing, "Anything you can do, I can do better..." Take it upon yourselves to keep making this world a better place by showing everyone your goodness.
You've already shown it to me.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I received a wonderful e-mail from aish.com; it features a lighthearted movie.
Sit back and enjoy.
Monday, March 06, 2006
"Blue" -- A Poem
If I could paint a picture
I'd make it the color of your eyes
The crystalline blue...like marbles that catch the light of the sun.
Eyes that catch the light...full of life.
A vibrant blue to match the serenity of a calm ocean,
to match the blue blanket of a pristine sky.
Right now those eyes are dull, unseeing...or perhaps seeing things only they can see.
They are pained eyes, hurting eyes that no longer spark, that no longer smile for me...
No longer smile for us.
My canvas waits patiently. And this artist waits too...
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The Unfolding of a Blogging Life
It goes something like this:
annaolswanger.com is connected to Google; Google is connected to the L.A. Jewish Journal; the L.A. Jewish Journal is connected to Seraphic Secret; Seraphic Secret is connected to A Simple Jew; Seraphic Secret is connected to Treppenwitz; Treppenwitz is connected to PsychoToddler; PsychoToddler is connected to Kerckhoff Coffeehouse; PsychoToddler is connected to Jack's Shack; PsychoToddler is connected to Laya's Place; PsychoToddler is connected to Balabusta; PsychoToddler is connected to a really lengthy blog name, that of his daughter. Jack's Shack is connected to Stacey's Shmatta.
Life of Rubin got in there...somehow. Mirty got in there...somehow. Mirty is connected to NY's Funniest Rabbi. Air Time got in there...somehow. Air Time is connected to Just Passing Through.
Seraphic Secret is connected to News, Views, and Shmooze; Seraphic Secret is connected to Moving On; Mirty is connected to Elie's Expositions.
Cruisin' Mom got in there...somehow. Cruisin Mom is connected to Sweettooth; Cruisin Mom is connected to I Still See a Spark in You.
Jack's Shack is connected to Citizen of the Month; Citizen of the Month is connected to Did Jew Eat? (formerly known as Andy Hardy Writes a Blog). Stacey's Shmatta is connected to Mia's World. Life with Estee got in there...somehow.
Kerckhoff Coffeehouse is connected to Why You Treat Me Like a Dog?
Serandez got in there...somehow.
The list goes on and on; I can't remember all the Jewish Connections or what Our Kids Speak. But I'll tell you that this blogger is having a wonderful time, making friends all over the blogosphere.
This blogger is too tired to link to all the mentioned names, so this blogger says to read her sidebar and link onto the names...yourself. She apologizes if she forgot anyone... much of the bloggers' life has become a blur for her.
To Know 'im Is To Love 'im
That is what a work-mate said to me when I came back to work after my last maternity leave. She'd asked my latest son's name and I told her "It's a Hebrew name. NOAM." Her quick response just touched me; it was perfect. And it still is.
Tomorrow, G-d willing, is Noam's 6th birthday. And yes, I who love a play on words, still enjoy telling people what my work-mate said.
My child is just as his name means in Hebrew: "pleasant." He is a little boy who endears himself to others with his great, crinkly-eyed smile and his good nature. He is still part boy, part baby, but thank G-d, he finally gave up that "shmatta blankie" a few weeks ago. He just went cold turkey.
Okay, so thumb still sometimes goes into mouth once in a while. But we just remind him, and out it comes.
[an aside: I'm on one computer now typing this, he's on the other one nearby, playing some defense game. Out of the blue he just called out to me, "If people don't get brises, they're not Jewish." I asked, "What made you say that suddenly?" "I just knew; I wanted to tell you." Okay, thanks, little guy.]
Although he sometimes displays a "forgot to use his words...and hit instead" tendency (usually with his brother and sister), regardless he is a very gentle and sensitive and caring and generous child. I reminded him today how even when he was as young as two years old, and I'd pretend to cry, it would upset him and he'd come to me and stroke me and whine, "Don't cry."
It is my hope as a parent that he will continue to go through life with that wise/innocent air about him and that people will forever look at him and say to themselves, "To know 'im is to love 'im."
Happy 6th birthday, "Noey."
Thursday, March 02, 2006
And on a Lighter Note...
Taken from the Jewish Forward
Ethiopian-born Comic Mines History for Laughs
By LOOLWA KHAZZOOM
February 24, 2006
In the standup act he has been touring America with this month, Ethiopian Israeli comedian Yossi Vassa recounts how he came to accumulate six names: When he left Ethiopia at age 10, he was called Andarge; in Sudan — where his family waited nine months for an Israeli airlift, and where Vassa fell deathly ill — he was given the name Terefa (Amharic for "he who is worthy of life"); in Israel, he was called Yossi, and, from the start, he has had what in America would be a twice-hyphenated name reflecting both his parents' lineages: Vassa Sisiya Sahon. "During roll call," he joked, "my teacher would read from a list of my classmates' names on one sheet, and a list of my names on the other."
Armed with just five props — a suitcase, a cane, a bouquet of flowers, a prayer book and a sign with Amharic writing on it — Vassa mixes his own experience with a dash of wit to recount Ethiopian Jewry's recent history. He begins with stories of the rural existence he knew two decades ago ("Before you could date a girl, you had to make sure you were not related seven generations back on both sides — meaning you needed a doctorate of genealogy by age 14") and moves on to life among the Ethiopians living in Israel today ("We dreamed of Jerusalem for 3,000 years, then got dumped in Netanya. That's like spending three millennia pining for Manhattan, and ending up in New Jersey").
Vassa's four-week tour — which was designed to coincide with Black History Month — offered American audiences a hilarious, though sometimes painful, glimpse into the lot of Israel's Ethiopian community. At one point, Vassa set his sights on the matter of Ashkenazic rabbinic garb. "My older brother came home and announced he had become a rabbi," Vassa said. "My mother took one look at the long black coat, pants, shoes and massive fur streimel on top of my brother's head, and asked if it was snowing outside."
The Shmooze reached Vassa just as he was wrapping up his tour and asked how things had gone.
"I learned so much from the people I met," he said. "One of the things that really touched me was the [audience at San Francisco's] Museum of the African Diaspora. I felt I was with a very loving community. They seemed really connected to the story I was telling."