Yom Kippur 5778

Here we are again.  Looking back over the past year, I’ve seen my circle become smaller and my social media presence withdraw somewhat.  After nearly 20 years on the internet, I’m growing tired of it.

To those of you I have withdrawn from, I’m sorry for not speaking up at the time to explain why.  To those who have withdrawn from me, I’m sorry for not noticing sooner and saying something.  To those who I have kept close and who have kept me close to them, I am sorry for not being in touch more.  Life has been busy, and emails and chats tend to go unanswered until I can catch a breath.

This past year, I have taken on to become more careful in my speech.  To choose my words more carefully (or try to), and to not speak Lashon Hara, loosely translated to gossip.  It is a daily struggle and sometimes, in conversation, I find I have nothing to say.  If we have had a conversation where I have gone silent trying to find a safe topic, I’m sorry that I didn’t explain this better.

To those I left stranded on Facebook, I can only say that I was beginning to feel uncomfortable there, between politics, comments on politics and other topics that actually mattered to me, and the general wastefulness of the site.  I have not deactivated my account, but I am there much less often these days.

We have reached a point in our collective history where our words, actions and choices have far reaching effects.  The Internet makes it more so.  Every thought posted without care and consideration for those reading it helps to divide us, not bring us together. Just something to keep in mind.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe and meaningful fast. i would like to also ask forgiveness for anything i did or did not do, said or did not say, unintended and ch”v intended (i’m human and i do have a temper. I admit it, though I am working on keeping it under control.)  May the new year be blessed for peace, safety, security.

Gmar Chasima Tova

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Another Year Turns the Page

12 months is a long time in any situation, but when we are facing the end of one year and the beginning of the next, it seems longer, but also not long enough.  As I sit here with my menu to my left and can of seltzer to my right, I realize what is happening.  I am avoiding the end of the year.  I am avoiding other things also, but that’s not for now.

But as we all know, the end of the year will come like the end of Grover’s book, and Wednesday night, the world will be reborn and the shofar will blow.  Yet, I don’t feel ready.  I don’t feel like I am prepared for this upcoming year.  I don’t feel like I have grown much in the past year and I pray that my prayers have been enough.  Oh sure, there are plenty of things to look forward to in the new year.  But that’s not this.  That’s not feeling spiritually unready to face the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement.  More than in years past, I just don’t feel ready.

Have I been a good friend?  Have I been caring and considerate?  Have I spoken honestly and without deceit in matters of friendship (I certainly hope so!)?  Have I been respectful of others and their ideas?  Did I temper my speech to speak only for the good?  Was I more in tune with my spiritual needs and the needs of others?  Did I face each day anew and not become mired in routine?  When I said mazal tov, did I say it with a joyous heart?  Have I been honest with my time?  Did I take advantage of every minute, give it all I’ve got?

I’d like to say yes to these things, but I don’t know.  I have tired of Facebook and no longer visit to comment and share.  This means that I am connecting less with those I only “see” online, but I am also removing myself from much anger and lashon hara.  I have tried to be more circumspect in my dealings with people, friends, family and others, to be more “real” and less rote.

And so, before my marathon 48 hours begin, allow me to wish you a happy and healthy new year.  These words, they sound so cliche, so common.  And yet, today I realized what a true blessing they are.

May your year resound with happiness and joy and may your days and nights be healthy.  May no worries cross your brow, and may they not settle in your soul.  May your faith and beliefs be strengthened and renewed.  May this year be the year that the Shofar blows around the world and the produce grows to the size of a man.  May we merit peace in our hearts, minds, souls and in our homeland. May you find the silver lining in all that happens, and may the lining be a fraction of the good that is bestowed on you. May you be healed, of mind, heart and body, to better embrace all the joy in your life. May you walk in calm winds, pushing you ever forward, towards your hopes, dreams and desires.

The Penn Station Summer of Hell

That would sound like an exaggeration, something to grab attention.  Sorry, folks.  This is what the MTA of the grand city of New York has dubbed this summer of upheaval and long overdue repairs to the tracks under Madison Square Garden, home of the Rangers and the Knicks.

Normally, my commute from suburbia into the city is straightforward.  8:03 direct train in, 6:02 direct train home.  Roughly 50 minutes in each direction door to door.  Not bad, right?  As commutes go, it could definitely be worse.  How do I know?  Because it just got worse. But only for the month of July…I’ve decided that I will face Penn Station in August because hopefully more people will be on vacation then.

Now then, back to my commute.  My office is a short 5 minute walk from Penn Station, in the heart of the terrorist target section of the city.  My commute for the month of July will entail a subway (heavens, no!) for 4 stops to Hunters Point Avenue, my Harry Potter moment of each day.

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From there, I walk half a block from subway to railroad station, and arrive at my new station.  There are 2 trains I can take, the 5:47 and the 6:35.  If I miss the first one, as I did last week, then I add an hour to my trip home.

As elbow to ear commutes go, this one isn’t horrible.  It’s supposedly only 15 minutes from the subway stop I get on until I reach the railroad station. The one thing I save is dealing with the mess that is Penn Station.  I’m giving it 30 days.  As of now, I don’t hate it, but the Summer of Hell officially starts next Monday.
Wish me luck!

Purim 5777 – Year of the Moll

And just like that, it is Purim again.  Last year, when I was finally a graduate, my husband asked that next year (this year), we dress up together…him as his customary gangster and me as his girlfriend.  We figured that this gangster of his heralded from about the 1920’s, and was probably a follower of Al Capone.  That’s where we started.

We then realized that we could not do cannolis justice if they were to be non-dairy.  So we began to think.

First, we started with the wine, like all good meals do.  This idea came from a co-worker and she was spot-on.  It worked perfectly.

Then we started making dinner…a good chianti like this needs a good spaghetti and meatballs.  So, some standard sugar cookie dough was pressed into service.

And for meatballs, I made chocolate truffles for the first time ever.

Finally, it was time to start putting them together.

A little raspberry drizzle for sauce, and molto bueno, a one of a kind shaloch manos I will never attempt again.

I hope that your Purim was safe and happy, and that the turvy wasn’t so topsy for you.

To BuJo or not to BuJo, that is the question

Over the past couple of weeks, a new time/interest/habit tracking system broke into my consciousness.  First, a Facebook friend mentioned it, then it was something on Buzzfeed, and the next thing you know, I’m head first down the rabbit hole with this stuff.

After a couple weeks of research, I’ve learned that this was a system created by Ryder Carroll called Bullet Journal, and it can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.  There is an index page (or more), a future planning section (in which you lay out the next 12 months and plot out already scheduled things OR things you would like to tackle), a page for the month, page for the week, and daily pages if you are into that kind of thing.

And, while I am intrigued by this system (short comments, visual indicators of completed, pending, moved or whatever — kind of a like a bullet list in Word), and I think it might work for me, I am struggling to see how it might.  It would mean moving by hand all of the appointments from Google calendar and entering it into this journal.  Or, I don’t have to.  But then what  would I use it for?  Tracking menus for Shabbos?  Purim to do list (goodness knows that can take months to prepare)?  Pre-pesach prep list? I kind of do that anyway, though admittedly not all in one place.

I already track my books on Goodreads.  My order confirmations come to my email, and Google so kindly tracks that for me.  My sleep and steps are both tracked already.  I can’t plan exercise until my current issues are in hand, so that’s moot.  Unless I track PT, which I already do in the app that tracks sleep and steps.

So, here’s the thing.  The other thing I could use it for is for tracking progress on goals.  And yet, I’m so focused on the next 6 months, there are no long term goals.  I am goal-less, which is not quite ambition-less.  I’ve done the college thing, something that was more than 20 years in the making, marking 25 years between high school and college graduations.  Graduated with honors and everything.  Even walked down.  And now, I’m kinda flat.  I’ll admit it.  My get up and go got up and went and I don’t know what to do next.  A blank composition notebook isn’t going to answer that question for me.

So, maybe I have to answer that question first, before deciding to take up bullet journaling.  I’ve got my Google Calendar, which contains all the appointments and weddings and bar mitzvahs we are invited to.  It tracks all of our travel and school vacations and finals schedules and carpools.  I am able to verbally create reminders on my phone, which is a great help for scatterbrained me.  I use Google Drive to track my Purim package list, and Google Keep to build the lists for my packages and the flavors of hamentashen that Cookie Comfort will offer this coming year.

So, I think I will hold on to my composition notebook for a little longer.  I’m still (I know!) adjusting to life post-college (honestly, a lot of other people are also adjusting to me having free time too).  This bullet journal is a good idea, but I don’t think I am ready for it yet.  I have some questions to answer first.

The Price of the Election

This last week has taken its toll on me.  I’ve been sleeping poorly, eating poorly, and now, I’ve lost my voice.

To review, I have a condition called abductor spasmodic dysphonia which affects how my vocal chords open and close.  In my particular case, they get stuck in the open position.  It happens when my body is under stress, such as when it is cold, or if it is fighting an infection of some sort, or if I am dealing with a difficult situation.

This bout is purely because I am dealing with a difficult situation.  I am navigating a post-election America that has fallen through the rabbit hole.  Common sense has done a runner and so many people are quick to speak an accusing word.  I don’t know how to talk to people anymore.  I don’t know what is a trigger and what is not.  I don’t know what words will calm a situation and what will escalate it.  I have stepped back from my Facebook page because it is too fraught with danger.  I’ve retreated to Instagram, where I can post pictures with few words.  I’ve returned to Twitter because the post limit is welcoming.  So little can be said in those 140 characters.

And so, until my ability to speak returns, I will be hiding from the social media world.  It’s better for everyone involved.