Disengaging, Engaging

An old friend of mine seems to have unfriended me on Facebook, probably because I made an ill-advised comment on one of her posts, but less proximally because we seem to be just drifting apart.  Since I stopped being so willing to do Friday night movies or Saturday afternoon outings with a lot of my friends here in town, and since three of them have taken to working out together (which I do at a gym, usually with a trainer, as I have done for 3.5 years or so now), my relationships with them have been fraying.  It may be just the kick in the pants (or skirt-seat, as the case may be) I need to move out of my current living situation and move closer to the shul.  But man, am I going to miss my garden.  So, combine that with the impending loss of my job, and I’m feeling a little down…again.  I haven’t had very many days of being not-depressed since September of last year.

On the other hand, I finally got my application in to the Beit Din.  It took me quite a while to round up all the pieces and parts, alas.

And I still haven’t had the opportunity to tell my family, <i>or</i> my oldest remaining friend yet, either.

Nngh.

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Christmanniversakkah…pant pant pant…

Thank G-d that’s over.

I’m still nominally doing Christmas things because I’m still furtive for the moment (that’s about to change soon, B”H, more later) and it’s a matter of shalom habayit right now. I don’t need to be brogez with the folks any sooner than I have to be. (It won’t be the first, or last, time.)

Christmas Eve (“Erev Xmas”) I went to a friend’s house for a very subdued party, which was nice, even if one of the attendees was recovering from food poisoning and another one was just feeling out of sorts and the rest of us were exhausted. (I did almost all my Christmas shopping — except for wrapping, the only part I truly enjoy — in two days, Monday and Tuesday. Lots of running around.)

It was also my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary on the 24th. They claim that it was the only time they could both get off work and they could get a hall; I think at least part of it is that my mother thought a Christmas wedding would be romantic, since she is about the World’s Biggest Christmas Freak. (This is where I see some friction coming in.) I didn’t do anything with them because they don’t really do anything with family outside of the big milestone anniversaries anymore. Which reminds me, I’d better become employed soon and start putting away a pot of money, because Guess Who is probably going to have to organise the 50th anniversary party. If you said, “You are, Sara-Elisheva!”, you’d be right!

I also observed Hanukkah as best as I was able, given that I once again couldn’t find the skinny candles that fit in my hanukiyah and I don’t have oil pots for it, so I had to improvise. I will either replace the thing or get oil pots for it for next year. Doubtless I’ll be in Toronto between now and then, and I can make it to a Judaica store. I love Hanukkah and what it represents, although less the miracle aspect of it than the “let Jews be Jews” aspect. (Apparently, given some of my hate mail, that’s a controversial position in some quarters.)

And on Boxing Day, I spent most of the day either sleeping or frantically prepping for Shabbat. And then it was Shabbat.

Shabbat Recap to come, but that’s quite enough for now.

Women’s Lecture at the JCC

I just got home from attending an inspirational lecture (with dinner) at the local JCC, to which the Rebbetzin invited me. I actually thought the lecture was prety good, if only because it showed me that my coping mechanisms are pretty much in the right place. I don’t often get a chance to talk shop about adversity and how to deal with it, so hearing someone I totally didn’t know (an invited speaker who came all the way from LA) talk about how she dealt with the untimely deaths of five of her eight (!!) children (four died of a genetic disorder, and the fifth died of an accident as a young adult). And here I thought my one friend’s parents — who lost two childen at birth in the late 1940s, then three of the surviving four in three weeks in the terrible influenza epidemic of 1950* — were the worst case I’d ever heard of.

Also, the dinner was very nice. It was so nice to go to a catered event and just not have to worry about my dairy issues — meat kosher! There was even some sort of pareve dessert, which was sort of like a weird quasi-alcoholic tasting chocolate pudding with some kind of ersatz whipped cream stuff on top.

I also got to see some people I knew, and have some good conversations, although people have seriously got to stop telling me things I had already figured out!

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* Get your flu shots, folks. This year, next year, and every year.

Shabbat Recap — Wow!

I made it back to shul this week, after mostly recovering from the nasty virus that pasted me last week. I’m really glad I went, more so than usual, anyway.

I met a nice old lady named Janet, with a British accent and a penchant for Siamese cats, and we talked about her newest addition, a neurotic Siamese fellow who has taken up residence under her settee for the last three weeks and won’t come out (boy, I wish my friend Jan were still alive — she spoke cat quite fluently).

I had a long conversation with my friend MR about why I want to convert and how crazy I really am (at least marginally), which helped me to clarify some things and think about some others. It turns out that a Facebook friend of mine from a town about an hour and a half away is good friends with her. Small world. MR confirms that it’s really, really difficult to be Jewish here, as if I didn’t already know that. She says that’s part of the reward of it, and I can certainly understand that perspective.

As usual, the rabbi was on form, and I really enjoyed the singing. At the end of the haftarah, he gave an “insight” about a child who is dragged onto a bus and taken away to a harsh environment with barracks-style living, guards who restrict your every move, and bad food…which turns out to be summer camp, which is all worthwhile at the end. I laughed involuntarily, since I hold the (ignominious) distinction of being someone who ran away from summer camp at the age of nine, since I hated it precisely that much. (It wasn’t worthwhile, at least not at the time, but I made my friend Ed laugh so hard he had to pull the car over because he couldn’t see straight enough to drive when I told him the story, so I guess it came to a little bit of something after all.)

I made it most of the way home before they caught me, although that was really only about a mile and a half.

Anyway, I do want to write more, but I also want to go to bed. I didn’t sleep well last night, and really kind of dragged myself out this morning.

Shabbat Recap — Failure!

I again didn’t make it to shul, in part because my friend called me just before I was ready to bring in Shabbat (late, *sigh*).  I don’t feel right about unplugging the phone, because I have an 89 year old grandmother who lives alone and currently is healing a broken ankle, and I live closest.

Other than not cooking and being somewhat better about the toilet paper thing, and staying off the computer, I basically blew it this week.

I brought Shabbat in late, because I didn’t get home in time (was out with friends).

I forgot to prepare my cat’s medication in advance.

I did have to turn on a couple of lights, once to troubleshoot my timer.

I went out with friends before motzei, so I rode in a car, used hot water (to shower), and brushed my hair.

I did remember to dab my chapstick and liquid medications on (avoiding “smearing”).

Part of the problem with being furtive is that I can’t really beg off social obligations reliably, and a friend desperately wanted to barbeque some meat for my usual group of hang-out-on-weekends friends.

I know I probably shouldn’t be disappointed in myself, but I am anyway, for reasons I can’t quite articulate, even.

Language Barriers

Hebrew is a hard language to learn as an adult.  Just this morning on Facebook, Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt confessed to having fits trying to write cheques to his landlord in Hebrew, and he has been living in Israel for eight years.  Many of his commenters expressed similar frustrations, and speculated on a mass suicide by ulpan teachers in response.  I know I’m struggling with it.

This is one area where the born-and-raised religious (called in slang “FFBs” or “Frum From Birth”) have an advantage over the newly-religious (ba’alei teshuva, “BTs”) or (would-be) converts  is that they often have a much better grip on Hebrew and if they should move to Israel as many of my Jewish friends have done, don’t find making the transition to living in it full-time as difficult.  I mentioned struggling with Hebrew to my boss, who, unlike many of my coworkers who are BTs, is a FFB oleh (immigrant to Israel), and he said he didn’t find it all that hard, because he’d been exposed to Hebrew pretty much since birth.  (Lucky bastard!)

When I was in Israel last, I got to spend Shabbat lunch with a friend from work, who has been an invaluable source of help and moral support both in my career and my pursuit of Judaism.  (This was before I decided for sure I was going to try to convert, although it did happen on the same trip.) That Shabbat was the first time I’d ever actually really gotten to participate in anything uniquely and religiously Jewish, and I enjoyed it immensely.

My friend has three sons, in the young teens to tweens age range.  All of them were born in Israel, and are essentially native Hebrew speakers being raised to speak English as a second language, despite having native English-speaking parents.   While I was there, one of their sons said something to his mom in Hebrew, and she said, “Since we have a guest here, and she doesn’t speak much Hebrew, I’d appreciate it if you’d be polite to our guest and speak English.   Besides, sometimes when you get going, I can’t really understand you.”

I’m not sure what it must feel like to have a language barrier with your own children, but it hurt my heart in a small way when she said that.