Thursday, February 28, 2008
I asked him to take me.
I'm not Jewish but a long time ago I took a baby step towards inquiry....towards the consideration of conversion.
I was living in Seattle and working as an intensive care nurse. By the end of my first year there, I was raw and lost. The university hospital I worked at was a tough place....a referral hospital.....and either the best or the last chance for patients in our region.
I started work on an acute myelocytic leukemia ward. By choice or chance, our patients ranged in age from 19-26. At orientation, the nursing instructor noted the prognosis was 52 weeks with treatment. I remember leaning over to my mentor, the buddy nurse I would follow, and saying, "You mean they only have one year to live?" She shook her head, "In reality, its more like 26 weeks."
26 weeks. We didn't say 6 months....because 6 was such a small number. We talked in weeks....because it sounded like more time...even though it was not.
At first there were so many things to learn about chemo and cancer nursing....the patients seemed secondary. But once I learned the technicalities, the patients surfaced as people. They were like me.....we were in the dream stages of our lives........I want to travel, I want to find someone to love, I want to get married..... I want to .......except for some reason.....I was blessed with a shot of actually attaining my dreams and they...for some reason... would not.
It was sobering.....I would come home and curl up in a blanket...with a chill...you couldn't warm away.
Because of my smarts in a few months.....I got bumped into ICU ...and not just any intensive care unit.....but the Cardiac Surgery Unit....which meant you were hot shit.
The tough working conditions....the status.....was a lot of fun at first..... but like the leukemia ward, after a while...the pride in controlling 10 blinking beeping temperamental machines hooked up to your patient lost its luster....because, quite frankly, a lot of your patients died.
I went from lost dreams to regrets.
The patients were mostly men...... in their 40's and 50's.....they had houses, children, jobs......all kinds of stuff.....but now....at this point...with their hearts blown out or about to blow.........they regretted a simple missed kiss......arguments....lost friendships.....and in particular the times they hurt people and left the wounds unattended.
By the end of the year....I felt like someone had taken a knife and skinned me.
I had friends...close friends....I had a boyfriend....but I yearned and needed the feeling....the belief....that short lives....long lives....lives suddenly gone or regained.....had their place in the scheme of things.
I needed a BIG GOD....the one I grew up with ....my Catholic God...seemed more like Gulliver on the island of little people.....tied down with hundreds of strings created by a bureaucracy. Vestments.....confessionals...saints...holy cards....bargain your time between heaven and hell...sometimes it seemed more like a carnival than a relationship....and I wanted a relationship.
One of the surgical residents I worked was Jewish.....as we hovered over labile patients in the middle of the night...we talked....his God didn't have a face.....you couldn't put him on a holy card......he was the G-d of Justice and Mercy.....but I worried I had the wrong blood....a lack of a lineage and of course segments of Judaism could also be very rule bound.
I decided to read more. Went to the library. Made a decision to go to Shabbat service. I circled a Friday on my calender. I called the temple and asked them what time to show up. I called another temple and asked them what to wear to the first temple ( I didn't want to seem like an idiot to the temple I selected.) I wanted to slip in and observe....to be stealth....to see how people acted...and how it felt.
The closer it came to temple day. The more apprehensive I became.
I was worried the temple door would open....and a guard would ask....."What do you want here?"........and I'd have say..."I'm here to look over your G-d." Blonde...blue eyed....I was also afraid .....someone would ask...."Who's your family? What's your connection?" and I would have to admit ....I had none.
I parked my car at the end of the parking lot. I wore a plaid skirt and a white blouse. There was no body guard at the door. A man actually smiled at me when I came in. I slipped into a chair at the back against the wall. I was clueless. I had never been in a Temple before....I had no idea of what I was supposed to do but figured if I huddled in the back....I could fake it.
My heart settled down. Maybe this would be okay. And then, a family....a man...two boys and a woman....sat in my row. The woman sat a few seats away from me. I was thinking...damn...how come there's all these seats and this family has to sit in my row. I felt exposed now.
I decided to turn and smile at her. She stared back. To this day....I remember her .....black hair....Middle-eastern facial features.....high cheek bones.....no lipstick. Every time I looked at her she was looking at me. I started to squirm. Did I look out of place? Was I doing something wrong? Maybe non-Jews had to be accompanied by someone....maybe....I was supposed to do something...register? ....sit in a certain place?
I was so anxious....I needed a diversion....something to do. I reached for what seemed to be prayer book. I put it on my lap and tried to open it but of course it opened the opposite way and it was in Hebrew. Now her stare turned nasty. I was sure a neon sign..(in hot pink letters).....was right above my head....with an arrow pointing downwards.....and blinking...... NOT A JEW....
Every time I looked at her....... her eyes narrowed on me....they were slits by now. I don't remember the service....I couldn't pay attention. My cheeks were on fire.....I was sure I had done something wrong....committed some offense.
The service ended,.....the family left.....I exited.....complete with my neon sign above me.
I remember a short....hunched .....older man....with silver white hair and watery blue eyes near the doorway. I think he said hello....I think he extended his hand. Did he say something about cookies? .....But I flew past him.
I returned the books to the library.
With wisdom and time, I look back and say....why didn't I just call the temple and talk to someone. Why didn't I ask the surgical resident to go with me or hook me up with someone?
Maybe I was too concerned about lineage....but I had grown up in an ethnic neighborhood in Chicago where lineage was everything....your church...your bakery....your undertaker....all had to be from the same nationality. I chuckle because my friend who is taking me tonight...believes Jews are born not made ....so perhaps acceptance would have been an issue.
But no matter.....I return to a Temple tonight.....
not solo but with a friend......
I have no conversion plans.....
I'm going to make peace....and to settle my regrets....in my heart I have always known I should have shook that old man's hand and gone for cookies......
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I'm not even going to try and explain it......
But I'm beginning to feel productivity raising ....it's stinky little head...... I'm sure I'll be a dynamo tomorrow....a titan of the to-do lists.....
In the mean time....I just blew two hours watching Utube videos....bizarre stuff....short animations in Hebrew, cats with headphones, a 3 year old explaining Star Wars...and of course the Sarah Silverman/Matt/Ben dissing videos.
You've seen them right?
If you haven't .....let me help you be hip....cool......say "Oh yeah, I saw those LAST week" with a bored roll of the eyes.
Warning: If you're offended by the F word....don't watch these videos. It's full of F'ing....okay?
Here's the first one:
And here's the response:
You are now in the groove.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
There was no sign, no signature....nothing to identify the artist who painted this absolutely gorgeous picture of Marilyn on the side of a building near my hotel. It was stunning...especially in the sunshine with the blue blue sky behind it.
And a follow up note on my son who "borrowed" my convertible while I was gone.
Of course....he did it for a chick......a girl he's not dating.....no no ...."we're just friends" mom....the concept of a "date" apparently horrifying to his teen brain.
While I was gone...he picked her up for their non-date in my car and apparently cruised around for the evening. Being Mr. Cool. But they're only friends....which is why he needed 4500 text messages last month to communicate with her. 4500 just friendly ....nothing serious....text messages.
Teaching your traveling companion how to use your Iphone camera may have interesting consequences.
This is the only pic I could post. Guess I should pack jammies when I travel. But isn't that the fun in being in one of those huge fluffy hotel mega beds.....just slipping underneath the covers and going ....ahhhhhhhh.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Caught the Subway....caught the Marc train to Baltimore/Washington Airport...caught two flights home that were not only on time but my home flight was early by 10 minutes. Spooky.
Hub stays on in D.C. till Sunday and already texted me that it's snowing ....so looks like I made it out on time. Whew!
Thought I'd share a few pictures as a post script to my trip.
Of course I went to the Zoo. And of course I went to look at the Pandas. Bit disappointing. You know all those cute black and white Panda pictures??? Well this panda needed a bath. His entire rump was dirty brown. I'm sure they'll probably Clorox him before the spring tourists arrive.
Harass children you have left behind. More good things to do with your Iphone.
Occasionally throughout the day, I would email a photo of myself or hub to the boys who were home alone.....with captions like......Did you go to school today? Did you take the dogs out? Are you doing your chores? And my personal favorite: Mom knows all....don't even think about doing what you think I won't know you did.
Unfortunately the last message didn't work. Right now, I'm waiting for #2 son to get home from school. He's in BIG trouble.
Got into my convertible this morning and noticed: the seat was all the way back, the rear view mirror was adjusted up, most of the gas was goine and there was an alien hard rock station on.
No one is supposed to drive my baby especially without my permission. I'm actually looking forward to hearing the creative fib/excuse he will make up.
Poor Guy Award
Monday, February 18, 2008
Oh the things you learn while traveling.......sitting in a cafe on Friday...we noticed people passing by in tights and short outfits (men and women), guys carrying giant aluminum foil-made sabers (some of them as large as 6 feet long) and lots of girls with ribbons and very very short frilly dresses.
Well...Maybe it's just Friday night in Washington DC.....but on Saturday more and more folks were descending on our little neighborhood dressed in costumes.... so I asked these girls....what's going on....a Katsucon convention.....to celebrate anime and manga.
Folks were dressing up to impersonate their favorite anime and manga characters since the convention had photo shoots, skits, games, panel discussions and autograph sessions.
The best part.....sitting next to a Wizard on the subway.......
After a couple of days of museums, it was definetely time for a road trip....so hub and I rented a car and headed out to Chincoteague.
Chincoteague island (pronounced shin co teague) is south of Delaware and in the crazy part of the original colonies....where one minute you're in Maryland, a mile later you're in Deleware, and a few miles down you're in Virginia.
I absolutely wanted/needed to go to the ocean for the afternoon....but I also specifically wanted to go to Chincoteague because of the ponies...no no I'm not such a horse person.......BUT....when I was in third grade.....I had a nasty bout of Scarlet Fever.....which kept me home for weeks.....my dad went to the library and brought home every book they had on horses....(and mules).....Brighty....Black Stallion....and of course....Misty from Chincoteague.
I spent a couple of weeks devouring all these horsey books.... I swear they seeded me.....because years later.....when I started my life as a nurse in Seattle....I headed for the gorgeous valleys outside the city and actually took horseback riding lessons for a summer.
Sometimes I was stuperous when I got on the horses....because I worked nights in ICU.....and never slept well. Midway through summer, they paired me with an old cantankerous horse named "Yellow" who was miserable to ride...and saddle (he would purposely puff his belly up with air when I tried to cinch the belt ....then when the trainer came by to inspect my work before mounting him....he would exhale and make the saddle slip...so the trainer would scold me.....which I believe was part of his diabolical plan.)
At the end of the lesson, if the weather was nice, we were allowed to "let'em loose" and gallop in the fields......that's when this mean old horse and I.....somehow.....got in sync....we just "clicked"...even the trainer noticed it....and shook his head....at us....the odd couple...a city girl and a old broken horse....which for a short period of time.....made music.
After that experience, I could understand why people loved horses.....and I glimpsed .....the near spiritual aspects of being in harmony with a big powerful animal you were joined to and with physically and emotionally.
I did see the ponies when we got to the island.....far off in the distant....enough to smile at the book memory and make me think of that mean old horse....who let me feel a bit of heaven .....if he felt like it.
Okay....I'm obviously not going to win Ms. Nautical....but what the heck was up with this seaform? It was all over in big clumps.....it drifted across....tumbled across the beach as if it were tumbleweed.....I don't think I've ever seen such quantities of foam......as if someone dumped a bottle of soap in the ocean.....Googled it when I got back to the hotel.....guess when there's chemicals, dead stuff and strange protiens....you can get a whippy show in high winds......which reminds me.....there was an ice cream stand which we passed called Mr. Whippy.....I wonder? Do you think?
I paused when I looked down at the rental car key. Open. Close. Yep I get those....but Panic? I'm not sure if I ever had a key with a "panic button" on it. I've had keys with "Alarm" but not one that ventured into emotional states.
Do you press this when you're panic-ing because you can't find your car? Or when you are under attack? What happens if you're sitting at home and realize a deadline is approaching ....can you press this button?
What about when a candidate you absolutely dislike wins a primary and you think .....wow....what if this person is nominated for anything (including dog catcher)...can you press this button?
Friday, February 15, 2008
I wasn't sure about this trip.....I had a cold....I just came back from NYC....I was a bit funky in the soul......but as soon as I landed in Baltimore ...I knew this was going to be an interesting few days.
First I misunderstood my transportation...I thought a Metro train went from Baltimore to DC....instread....they sent me to a train station run by Amtrak....at the station.... a woman sitting behind a glass booth...with a microphone left over from a cheap fast food drive-in....said this to me...
"Wah wah ah wah wah wah ah wah ah okay?"
Sure.........I paid 17.00 and stood outside. Along came a train....I got on it......I got to DC....where I was told there was a day long Taxi strike.....okay.....fortunately hub said to me.....the Marriott hotel we were staying at was near the zoo....and a Metro subway station....navigate to the subway....find the Red Line....actually get on and off the subway....look up ....and there's the hotel on a hill across from the station. Wow.
Get to the lobby....phone rings .....hub says he's arrived and is in the lobby...he flew into DC and took the shuttle....we wave......and connect..... incredible.
Hey that's a lot of good omens for a trip
Bless the New York Times. A month or so ago....I read a short article about restuarants in the Mall Museums. The best one: the Native American Museum.
When we arrived, I wasn't sure I had the right place.....it was a cafeteria...a cafeteria? But yes......you pick up your tray and there are 4 stations.....Northwest Coast, Northern Woodlands, Great Plains, and South American. Each station features cuisine from that area....like Smoked roasted duck in dried current sauce, Salmon with pickled wild mushroom salad and wild onions....
Since I'm from the Midwest, I picked the Great Plains...and selected Braised Buffalo shank in wine with diced carrots and root vegetables, Indian bread....and smoked calabasa squash with golden raisins and pumpkins seeds plus......a pine nut and rosemary tart.
Truly incredible.....the buffalo was delicious...but most interesting...was the smoked squash with the raisins and seeds.....the squash was firm but smokey and the raisins gave it a kiss of sweetness.
Totally unexpected.....totally wonderful......
Apparently Colbert asked the National Portrait Gallery to include him in the President's room because he was going to be President soon.
Seems he pestered them.....according to the story....quite a lot......wore them down actually....so they finally agreed.....sort of....
They hung his portrait above the water fountains that seperate the bathrooms on the second floor.......guess that's as close as they're letting him get to the Presidents.
After a whole day of Museum shuffling, subway shuffling and shuffling down Conneticut Street .....it's back to the hotel.....
Marriott has ....hands down.....the prettiest beds.....(although I never quite know what to do with all the pillows).......
A hot bath.......a nice glass of red wine.........ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Cleopatra gone amuck? Why is her face and neck painted silver?
Saturday, February 09, 2008
This is the office building across from my hotel. Of course, in real life, the building and windows were much bigger. For an entire week though, it was like living "The Sims at the Office" because I watched ......Monday through Friday.....people come and go to work.
I could see only two floors clearly....the lower floor was very basic....and had bright flourescent lights, cardboard boxes lining the walls of the office, white walls.....looks like $$ was a real concern.
The floor above them.... by contrast....had softer flouresecent lights, tan and burgundy walls....and large offices which were individually decorated. There was one woman....a rather large woman...who I especially liked watching.... she was at her desk by 7am and stayed there till 7pm. I guessed she was important since many people visited her....and she remained seated....while everyone else stood or took a chair....she had a Tiffany-type lamp on her desk which created a soft glow and an empty gumball machine next to a huge office plant.
One morning....around 630 am (I was up and showered by 6:20am) a man came into her office and looked at the papers on her desk. I wanted to tap on the glass and shout, "Hey you.....leave her stuff alone.....do you have permission to be looking at her desk?????"
I often wondered if they could see me. Perhaps the hotel windows were tinted....and they couldn't see in.....since I was on the 17th floor I kept my shades open all the time....even at night since I enjoy letting the city lights be my nightlight.
Heck....maybe someone blogged from the office the whole week......"okay she's out of the shower now and wrapped only in a towel....she standing there in her underwear studying her suitcase........she laying on the bed.....she's changing into a nice skirt and low cut blouse but grossssss....she's wearing tennis shoes....ahhh she taking a bag of high heels with her.....all is not lost.
A pretty interesting comic book in the erotic section. I should have written the description down...but it was something like......these mammary mamas are going wild on Mars. Notice that these MILF's are sooo special....they don't even need space suits ...guess the suits would impede the action.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Revised translation: I still don't know what I ordered....and.....I still didn't expect what I got.
This is what I ordered for dessert at the fancy restuarant in MOMA:
Lemon Napoleon Exotique Fruit "Brunoise" and "Fromage Blanc" Sorbet.
This is what I thought I was getting:
Some type of lemon sponge cake with fruit and white sorbet ( I wasn't exactly sure.....but this was my best translation of the description)
This is what I got:
Uh......Did I miss something in the description which would indicate I just ordered a phallic/erotic-looking vertical dessert?
What was the pastry chef doing or thinking when he created this and placed it on my plate?? (Perhaps I do not want to know.)
And what do you do with it???
Open wide??? (and possibly get arrested for performing a lewd act on a spongecake in public?)
Knock it over and cut it? (ala Bobbitt?)
NYC....it's always surprising....
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
"Looks like it's a Bear day." I'm not sure why I said something to him-perhaps because he was (honest to god) tall, dark, handsome with incredible blue eyes and he seemed to be chuckling at his purchase just as I was chuckling at my purchase.
"I travel a lot for business and I buy a bear where ever I go."
"Where are you from?"
"I'm actually from The City but the last bear didn't last very long so I'm here for a replacement."
"Kids rough on your bears?"
"No my dog is......he's a 19 year old toy poodle. A rescued poodle we've had for 10 years."
I didn't say anything....because I'm mulling over the concept of a rescued toy poodle.
Do toy poodles need to be rescued???? I know about Greyhound rescue and Pit Bull rescue and Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue...but people are tossing out toy poodles? Why ?? Because they have tear-stained pink runny eyes, pee all over themselves and shake like leaves? Hardly the stuff worthy to get thrown out of the house for.....
"So you're poodle tears up the bears."
"Well....I'm embarrassed to say this..... but he tears them up.....after he.....(long pause and looks at the other customer as if he is assessing whether or not she can hear him) ..........humps them.
"What?.....you mean hump like in....well ....hump hump?"
(My eyes widen as I soak this concept in... ) "So you're toy poodle humps the bears then tears them up?"
"Do you have a blog....because you should be taking pictures and blogging this......logging each bear and the end results.....really.....you'd get a hundred thousand hits."
"No.....I don't blog.....it's a little embarrassing. You see he's also very ritualistic about his routine. "
"What does he do?"
"He eats his dinner then finds his bear......drags it in the center of the room.....humps it for about an hour.......till he's exhausted.....then starts tearing it apart"
"Wow....exhibitionism and aggression......it's like BDSM for toy poodles."
(There is a problem with the cash registers which is why the line is not moving and the conversation can take place......the woman behind the man.....now looks totally appalled and heads off for another register.)
"Maybe he's discovered the secret to a long life.......eat a nice dinner, hump like mad....then get a new partner."
(Mr. Handsome laughs hard clutching the soon to be violated and shredded teddy bear.)
The cash registers spring back to life.
We simultaneously hand our bears over to the clerks. I silently tell Mushi not to worry.....if he's in bed with me.....It will be a totally platonic experience.
"Hey ....you know what's really weird.....(I guess because I haven't run off....or rolled my eyes....or look appalled .....I am now his confidant).....my partner and I rescued another toy poodle about a year ago....and the old dog seems to be teaching the new dog his ritual."
"Geez ....you'llneed to buy two bears in each city."
"I know....the one from Harrod's in London cost me $80.00 to ship....this routine could get quite expensive."
(I noted his quality ostrich leather cowboy boots paired with designer jeans and a softblack lamb leather jacket....he probably could afford it.)
"What's going to happen to your bear?"
"Sedentary life....just gazing at me with his happy beady little eyes."
Mr. Handsome clutches his bear......and waves.
Mushi and I wave back.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
The city ..Dallas...does not appear on my itinerary......and yet here
I am .....a long way from home because of fog.....
Cheerfully .....they tell me I MIGHT get out tomorrow.....and maybe someday I'll see my luggage again.
All I have with me is my iPhone and my laptop ... I wonder
if there's an app for a toothbrush.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Sunday morning I leave for home.
I have to repack yet.....shuffle things .....cram in a few souvenirs and probably make a big cup of tea.....I feel a cold coming on....but I think at least 213 people at the conference coughed on me......so...a lite cough and a scratchy throat isn't too surprising.
I have had some extraordinary hours here in NYC.....doing what I love the most.....talking.....laughing....sharing.....over exquisite food and heavenly wine.
Tonight I was even able to catch a brand new African exhibit at the Met.....and although I was by myself.....I had a lovely dinner....at the museum.....with a nice pinot noir...pleasant food....and beautiful old marble statues as my dinner partners.
I've had more than my usual share of ghost times this trip.....and even a severe Harpie attack.....but ...thoughfulness and striving to do things outside the box......has a price.....and sometimes life asks you to pony up.
I have a couple of funny pics and a few great NYC stories ....I'll share over the next week....while I go through big city withdrawal.
but now......suitcase time.