Monday, April 30, 2007
Mind over Matter
I haven't talked about my father very much since he came home from hospital. In a way, there's too much to say about him, and in other ways there's not enough to say. Progress has been very slow and there have been some setbacks, too. Let me put it to you this way: it is not easy on him, it is not easy at all on my mother. And it is not easy for his children to see the diminishment in capabilities and cognition. It seems as if the decline is faster than it was before, and no doubt it is, brought on by such stark medical traumas to his body and his mind.
The memory falters rather frequently, even in the midst of normal conversations. Weakness permeates his bones and his person. "What is happening to me?" has been a popular refrain, my mother tells me. And I've been witness to "Ich hab nisht kein koyach mer." (I no longer have any strength.) It doesn't help that my father, and mother, are battling very bad upper respiratory viruses/flus right now, either.
But every day is a new day. And every day that my father wakes up, is able to daven and say "Thank G-d," is a true gift -- for him and for us.
Today I saw a bit of my "old father." Not the old, old man he's suddenly become, regardless of his advanced years, but my father "of old."
We were talking about his hometown, Tarnogrod, and I was telling him that I'd been contacted by someone from JewishGen, who informed me that marriage/death/birth records from certain pre-World War 2 years were now available...for a fee. I also told him that I'd been on the official gov't site for the town and saw a photo of a large synagogue that was now a library. (see top right photo in official town link)
He began to tell me the history of the town, who founded it and when, and suddenly he started saying something in Polish. Although I don't speak or understand the language at all, I could tell that he was reciting something like a poem. He had regained a twinkle in his eye -- which I really have not seen in WEEKS!!!!!!!!! And he had a smile, or rather more of a slanted grin...almost like a "cat who ate the canary" look on his face as he recited. He was showing off! My father was showing off something he remembered from the past, from a long-ago past. And when he finished his recitation, he said to my mother and I, "I learned that in grade three." Imagine, sometimes he doesn't know what day of the week it is, and doesn't know the month we're in, but he happily and proudly recited something he'd learned all those years ago -- and we're talking close to eighty years ago!
For that sparkle in his eyes, I wish I'd had a camera.
For that lopsided grin and that look he threw my mother and I, as in "See...my memory works just fine," I wish I'd had a camera.
For a glimpse at the schoolboy in him reciting an ancient Polish historical poem, I wish I'd had a camera.
No, I didn't have a camera, but those moments will no doubt linger in my heart.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
1. If you could go back and change one thing about the path you have taken in your life, what would that one thing be?
Although I struggled in school with "the sciences," I probably should not have dropped them after grade 10. I should have pursued sciences and gone on to study clinical psychology or psychiatry.
Other than that, I wish I could have been bolder while growing up. I had to wait to become an adult to "find my voice."
2. Swimming Or Skiing?
3. You have been given the opportunity of having dinner with any 5 "living" celebrities of your choice. Who would they be and why?
5. The Zoo has said that you may take home any one animal. What would you choose and why?
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4., You will include the explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
I was wearing a long-sleeve, blue-and-white striped top, and a jean skirt.
My mother was wearing the exact same long-sleeve, blue-and-white striped top (she'd bought one for her and one for me way back when), and a jean skirt.
Great minds think alike...
Sunday, April 22, 2007
"What happened today in the Beaches?" I tried to recall.
"You know, the man who spoke Hebrew..."
"That won't interest anyone; that sort of stuff happens all the time..."
And yet I still find myself writing this at my son's earlier request...
The Beaches is at the southernmost point of Toronto, bordering Lake Ontario. It is a beautiful community with the most wonderful architecture -- which happens to be rather expensive real estate -- and is in high demand. There is a boardwalk alongside the beach, and nearby is the main street with funky shops, cafes, salons, restaurants, pet shops and bookstores.
People patrol up and down the main street, Queen Street east, many of them with dogs in tow, or carriages and toddlers. There are nearby parks and pools and gardens for visitors and natives to enjoy.
Today was a glorious Toronto day, a summer day, not an April 22nd type of day. Towards the end of the afternoon, we packed up the kids and dog, and headed to the Beaches, first doing our stroll on the avenue before heading to the boardwalk and beach area itself.
I was with my two sons in front of a pet store, where I was trying to get Max to take a drink from a water bowl outside the store. He was more interested in sniffing out the other pooches at the watering hole than the water itself.
Suddenly I heard Hebrew being spoken. I turned around to look and saw two fifty-something couples conversing. I'm the type of person to pipe up when I hear Hebrew in a very public place and I often throw in a word or two to startle the speaker. This time I held back.
My oldest son heard the Hebrew and pointed it out to me. I nodded, implying that I know.
I then called him by name and told him to come.
The next thing I heard was one of the Hebrew-speaking men say, "Ehfoh Avi?" (where's Avi?)
I turned, and with a big smile said, "Hu shum"! (he's there)
I think my son was surprised by this brief exchange. If he'd only know what kind of in-depth conversations I've had with strangers when I hear them speak Hebrew in least-expected places in Toronto and elsewhere.
I smiled at my son as we walked away and told him that in our case, English AND Hebrew are universal languages.
Friday, April 20, 2007
His Roots are in Yiddish Theater...
He's been married several times: one wife was Gloria Vanderbilt. Another wife made him Lena Horne's son-in-law.
One of his personal quotes is a brilliant one: "There's no such thing as a small part. There are just small actors."
Just a brief look at Sidney Lumet.
Shabbat Shalom...with the stress on shalom/peace.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
What Will They Think of Next?
Do Our Personalities Change...or Just Develop?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
On a High
Sunday, April 15, 2007
A Quotable Mention
Writing is like life: we think we control it but we don't, everyone else's seems better, and there's ambivalent yet abundant hope that with enough time we'll get it right.
A Survivor's Moment
A Survivor’s Moment
His eyes look directly into mine.
Not playful this time –
More like pleading.
“I don’t even have a picture
of my mother,” he says,
and walks out –
leaving me bewildered,
Ani Ma'amin -
Let us remember...
Friday, April 13, 2007
The Road Less Traveled
Go to Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/maps) and click on “Get Directions.”
Type in “New York, NY” as your starting point and “Paris, France” as your destination.
Once it computes your directions, scroll down to #23.
Question of the Day
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Thinking Out Loud
A Special Birthday Boy
Tomorrow is my husband's 47th birthday.
I'm not sure where the time has flown for him for most of these 47 years, but I know where and how it's flown since December 1992, when we had our first date...and December 1993, when we got married...and June 1995, when we had our first child...and August 1997, when we had our second child...and March 2000, when we had our third child.
I wish Mr. TorontoPearl a happy and healthy birthday and a most wonderful year.
And I will borrow these beautiful song lyrics to help celebrate my husband and his special day...
WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
What are you doing the rest of your life?
North and south and east and west of your
have only one request of your life
That you spend it all with me.
All the seasons and the times of your days.
All the nickels and the
dimes of your days.
reasons and the rhymes of your
All begin and end with
I want to see your face,
In every kind of light,
fields of gold and
Forests of the night;
And when you stand before
The candles on a cake.
me be the one to hear
The silent wish you make.
waiting deep in your eyes
In the world of love you keep in your eyes,
I'll awaken what's asleep in your eyes,
It may take a kiss or two...
Through all of my life...
Summer, winter, spring and fall of my
All I ever will recall of my life
Is all of my life with
Chag Sameach to you all.
Friday, April 06, 2007
The Interviewer aka The Liar
Have I been happy this past year?
Yes, and no.
I've still had trouble learning how to use this newfound freedom that is part of my day, as opposed to the regular 9-5 routine that was so much a part of my life for so many years.
But I've been more than happy to get reacquainted with my husband, my children, our dog and our home.
I've been job hunting over these past months and have come to realize that I was insulated for too many years in the same job, doing the same thing. The publishing world has grown, but I have not...at least not in my skill set. I am lacking, and should do something about acquiring the publishing computer program skills that so many companies seem to be seeking.
Nonetheless, I've managed to have a handful of job interviews. Even interviews are something new for me, as I've not had to "undergo" one for many years. There is an etiquette to learn about interviews -- the right questions to ask and the right question NOT TO ASK. I'm still learning what not to ask! (in the past, all my jobs have been the result of one interview; I forget these days, at least two interviews is the norm)
In any case, I think that the interviewer has to learn an etiquette of his/her own. At least on two occasions, I was told, "We'll be in touch."
Okay, so I'm still waiting....
It's like going out on a date and having the guy tell you at the end of the date, "I'll call you." And you wait by the phone, hoping and wondering...and waiting...and waiting...and realizing it was just a line he served you.
These interviewers don't just feed you a line. They outright LIE. I'm a mature 45-year-old. Why not call me, or email me, and say, "Thanks for coming in, but we're looking at some other candidates. Thank you for your time. Good luck with the job hunt."
I had two editors at a world-renowned educational/children's publisher interview me for one of two positions, and as one of them led me out the door, she said, "I'll be in touch." Ten days later, all I could say was "Liar, liar, pants on fire..."
And a few weeks ago, a smaller publisher's main editor interviewed me, and said, "I'll look at your tests and will be in touch within the next couple of weeks." LIKE HELL you were.
C'mon, people. Being an interviewer might be nerve-wracking; being an interviewee is worse. Being lied to is even worse than that. It's totally unprofessional. Okay, so don't call me, but follow up even several weeks later with a note from your HR department to me.
Don't leave me hanging. I'm worth more than that!
And if you hire me, I'll even prove it to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Memories of Pesachs Past
I'm sure that each and every one of you recall the Pesachs of your past as you sit at your current sedarim, whether they are held in your own home or in the home of another.
And even before we reach the point of sedarim, and we're scurrying around the house, preparing it for Pesach mode, we remember...
This year, as I prepped the house I recalled helping my parents shlep up the boxes from the basement and down from the top closed cabinets in the kitchen, opening up and looking through the supplies as if we expected to find surprises. I recall my mother kashering cutlery with hot water, pots and stones. I recall buying tins of macaroons and fruity sugar candies with my father. I recall polishing the silver candlesticks and kiddush cups till they shone and laying out the white linen tablecloths (no plastic coverings for my family!) and the eclectic collection of Haggadot.
I recall the sedarim themselves-- my family on their own, never accepting an invitation to spend the seder elsewhere. My father explained it as I got older: "I was a guest for so many years at someone else's home. Now I have my own home, my own family, and I want to enjoy them." I, the singer and the youngest, had a fun time with all the songs and showing off my "Ma Nishtanah" every year. By the time we'd reach "Chad Gadya" my brothers and I would be punch-drunk, due to the lateness of the hour, and we'd be silly, as we sang with a limbo/salsa beat. And each year we'd end with "May we all be together next year again to celebrate."
When you come into a marriage, you acquire new minhagim, traditions, or you meld new ones with existing ones...finding a happy medium. My husband gave in to serving potatoes this year, along with the celery, for dipping in salt water. I reluctantly gave in when he, the born Sephardi, decided that he wanted to have rice for the first time on Pesach...
Just the thought of doing so felt WRONG for me, the Ashkenazi through and through. We've been married over thirteen years, and for the last number of years, debated the issue of rice at our Pesach table. But our marriage is a bridge of our cultures, our rich traditions, and those we pass on to our children. And so, rice was FINALLY served at our seder!
I looked at my children around the table, at the interest they take in the seder, at their facility with reading Hebrew when called upon to read from the Haggadah. Even our son, in grade one, read beautifully. I don't know if other kids in his class read Hebrew as he did, or if he surpasses them at that too (his English reading level is that of a nine or ten year old, pu, pu, pu), but it was a pleasure to listen to him sound out the difficult words and smile at the end of his reading contributions.
My daughter is a little Pearl -- I saw my young self in her. "When is it going to be my turn to read?" she continually asked. She sang the loudest, and seems to take the greatest interest in what she reads and how she presented her d'var Torah.
I hope and pray that we will continue to make Pesach memories...for ourselves, for our children...and "May we all be together again next year to celebrate."
Monday, April 02, 2007
A Little Pesach Poem -- Chametz-Free
And all through the house
Everyone was scurrying
busy like a mouse.
The chicken soup was boiling
Atop the stove in a pot
The brownies just out of the oven
Were nice and piping hot.
The seder plate was anxious
to be placed nicely on the table
"Okay, okay, I'll do it
in a little while, when I'm able."
The silver was nice and shiny
lined up all in a row
As I hurried to set the table
I foolishly stubbed my toe.
These are the familiar scenes
In every house and home
I thought I'd capture their essence
And put it together in a little poem.
Although I wrote it quickly
And really just off the cuff
I think I'd better stop here
I still have to get busy enough.
To get the preparations finished
For this Yom Tov that starts tonight
To you and your cherished families
May your Pesach be wonderful and bright.
A very happy, Kosher Pesach to you and all those gathered 'round your tables!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
On the brink of Passover...