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.

The Next Chapter

As a daughter of immigrants from an Arab country, I’d say that this election caught my attention. As a Jewish woman, I’d say that this election caught my attention. As the mother of children, I’d say that this election caught my attention. I have never written a blog post about an election, but here I am.

The last 18 months have shown us so much about ourselves. It brought a reluctant candidate to the campaign with only 3 months left. It saw a woman be blamed for her husband and a man not be held accountable for his words, however damaging they were. It saw a spectrum of candidates from both parties fall to the juggernaut of the Press’s first picks. It saw parents have to decide how much of this campaign their children should be exposed to.

It saw supporters of both major party candidates behave in a less than stellar way. It brought out the worst of this miraculous country of ours.

I have not voted for a winning candidate in years, because I would rather vote for someone I can respect (I’m weird like that.) Each election I have been able to vote in, I have. I have participated in the process, and saw the results of what I participated in. Voting is so precious, that I would never squander it.

Now, we have a duly elected president – elect. Just like we have had every cycle since 1789. We are lucky in that we don’t get arrested or punished for expressing our opinions. So many others around the world cannot. We are blessed to have a democratic government that can change every 4 years. Is it perfect? Gawd no. And in that statement lies the explanation of the expression “the goldene medina” the golden country. It is a place of opportunity. One president won’t change that.

My personal choice for President was one of those dreaded third party candidates. Of everyone, he reflected me the most. I hope that he will run again in 2020, and be the force for positive change that he could have been this year.

What positives have come out of this? Interest. Determination. An understanding of just how far apart the different populations in the country are. Today, every person spoke about the election. People in the office. People on the train. Strangers passing on the street. Students. Professors. Children. Grandparents. Everyone was speaking about voter turnout and the importance of drawing together now more than ever. It was beautiful to hear people of all demographics speak with a common goal. In all the conversations I heard, they weren’t speaking in fear.  They were having a discussion.

In speaking with someone this morning, I mentioned that I thought that the president-elect is like a shock treatment for us, the citizens of the United States. We’ve become so divided, so angry, so intolerant, with such tunnel vision, that he is like a swallow of vinegar or lemon juice. It’s like we are being told “this is what division brings” and “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

I saw a statistic today that voter turn out for the 18-25 demographic was very low. They were so disgusted and disheartened that they didn’t show up. But my 14 year old son learned what apathy brings: a president that no one expected and what we don’t know what to do with.

So, here is my suggestion. Keep the conversations going. Don’t look at someone else with suspicion or fear. Be the change that you want to see. Reach out to your elected officials, tell them what you expect from your duly elected government. Bring respect back to our opinions. Remember what it means to agree to disagree. Don’t rely on the press for your opinion. Don’t let someone else co-opt you.

Like it or not, we are stuck with him for the next 4 years. Let’s decide that he is a one term president. Let’s decide together to demand better representation in the future. Let’s bring that future now. As a nation, let us acknowledge the pain and anger that got us to this point and work to make it better. This is what I am going to do. I will try to encourage respectful discussions. I will focus on what positives I can find. I will do this in my circle, and you do it in yours. Let’s not be lazy or look for the expedient way of doing things.

In the last 8 years, I have not spoken negatively about our duly elected president.  I didn’t like him, nor did I vote for him, but I also didn’t demean, disparage or dishonor the office of the President by criticizing him in front of my children.  At the very least, I would expect others to refrain as well for the current president-elect.  I have seen some ugly comments out there.  If you cannot respect the person, respect the office.  It was here before him and will be here after him.  Let’s use these 4 years to heal, grow, and repair what is broken.

Yom Kippur 5777


And here we are, back again at the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  We have traveled across the year together, through the dawn of last year, through forgiveness and acceptance, though eating outside in the sukkah and and the miracle of Chanukah.  Through the fasts of Shevat, Adar, Tammuz and Av, through the Passover seder and the giving of the Ten Commandments.

Some of us have grown closer, some of us have drifted apart.  Some of us have stepped back, some have stepped closer.  Some have been warmed and heartened by our relationship, and some have been hurt and disheartened by our relationship.

To those who have drifted apart from me, I am sorry I didn’t work harder to keep you close.  To those who stepped back, I am sorry that I caused you to do so.  Please, reach out to me and let’s work it out.  To those who have been hurt by me, please forgive me.  I do not know what I did, so I cannot ask for specific forgiveness.

I would hope that even we do not become close again, that we become friendly and comfortable with one another.  The key to bringing peace is unity.  Unity is respect, unity is care and consideration.  That is what will bring Moshiach.

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

The Energizer Bunny

Today is my grandmother’s second yartzheit.  There are still days when I don’t realize it.  There are days that my first instinct is to call her, or run over to the house to show her a picture of something that I just did, like say, graduate.  There are days I hear her in my head, giving me the advice I need or crave to hear her tell me.  But most of all, I am still trying to live up her vision of who I am.

6 and a half years ago, my grandmother had her first heart attack. As a result, she needed to have a pacemaker “installed.”  She had been a little out of sorts over the whole thing, and in typical me fashion, found a way to cheer her up.  I bought her this:



I bought it off of the Energizer website, as a birthday present for her.  Energizer, being good with the follow-up, emailed me a link for a survey.  This is what I responded to them:

I don’t have much time for surveys, but I wanted to tell you how special that energizer bunny was.  6 months ago, my grandmother got very sick very quickly, and we didn’t know what it was.  She ended up needing a pacemaker, and after having the operation, she told me she was like a toy, with a battery.

And so, for her birthday this week, I bought her the energizer bunny as a surprise.  what should have remained a terrifying memory is now something that can be smiled through, and laughed about.

Last week, I saw that bunny for the first time since she died.  My first response to seeing it was a bubble of laughter.  I remembered how Meme laughed when I gave it to her.  How she kept it front and center in her room.  But most of all, I remembered how she understood what I was trying to do.  She saw that I knew her pain, and she accepted with grace my clumsy attempt to make something hard and scary into something accepted.

Without question, my grandmother was the matriarch of our family.  Her gentle guidance is missed to this day.  But, in looking back at these little moments, we can still learn from her, and still see her grace in all that she did.

May the soul of Simcha the daughter of Machluf and Rachel be elevated closer and closer to the Throne of the Almighty, and may she act in death as she did in life, and be a guiding light and spiritual beacon for all of us, and may she pray for us now like she prayed for us our whole lives.