Saturday, May 30, 2009

salute to israel parade

when i first came to new york i was so amazed that there was a salute to israel parade. of course new york is the home of parades. there is the thanksgiving day parade, puerto rican day parade, the halloween parade ... well you get the point. it still amazes me that there is a salute to israel parade. ive gone almost every year. some years its scorching hot outside, other years its chilly. no matter, the energy is always the same. there is always a healthy mixture of secular and observant jews. it is one of the few times one sees this. new york is so ethnically segregated. unfortunately we jews often take this so many steps further by separating to our own religious groups never speaking to one another.

as religiously diverse as the salute to israel parade is, the concert in central park afterward is mostly orthodox jews.

i plan on going to the parade tomorrow. hopefully many of you who live in the new york area will be there as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


its hard to believe that it has been almost seven weeks since pesach! i havent yet lost the pesach 5 and now the cheesecake holiday is upon us. i have started my exercise regimen again yesterday so hopefully all the hard work will inspire me to keep the excess calories from reaching my mouth (via yom tov meals). well... at least i would like to think it will help.
have a happy, healthy and meaningful holiday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

window into the past

elderly people who are still all there are the coolest people to spend time with. when you look around their living space you see ancient photos that seem current to them and furniture that to a younger person only exist in the movies or a thrift shop. you also get a window into the past. history books cant give you what an elderly person can. a book can tell the facts and even about how people may have been effected by these facts, but a book can only be read. you can ask an elderly person questions . they may not always remember, but when they do its amazing.

years ago when my great uncle was still alive he told me about how when he was small there were only horse and buggies. he also said that there used to be a stone in front of homes and stores . there was a large gap between the ground and the carriage. the men could easily jump down , but the women in their dresses could not do so gracefully . this is where the stone comes in. the women would step onto the stone and then onto the ground. it was much more graceful this way. he also said that years after horse and buggies were just a memory these stones remained. after awhile people didnt even remember why they were there in the first place.

after cars were invented one always knew when it was a good year economically when one looked in the driveway at the university and there were many cars parked there. (this of course was outside of new york. )

my great uncle also described the thrill of riding on a train for the first time. there werent even any seats, but for him it was just so exciting to travel city to city in such a modern mode of transportation.

my great uncle also lived years before window screens were invented. he said it was awful when one rode on a bus. all the bugs would fly in your face. not a great visual indeed. it was something i had never thought of . i thought window screens had been around forever. who knew?

i could have read all about these events in a book, but these facts on their own may not have actually interested me. knowing someone who had experienced such events made them seem less of a fairytale and more plausible. my great uncle not only knew about these things, he lived them.

there are so many nuggets elderly people carry within them. we must help them pass them on to us before they arent able to pass them on anymore.

Friday, May 22, 2009


the first time i had a migraine i was seventeen years old . when i told the doctor about the aura , slurred speech and pain above my right eye not unlike a sword being chiseled into my skull he dismissed it as "just" a migraine. its not that i wasnt relieved to find out that i was going to live, it just that the migraine experience is so otherworldly its hard to hear a doctor call it a "just" .
bright lights , change of season, stress (but of course) , stuffy airless rooms and floral perfumes are my major migraine triggers. citrus perfumes dont really bother me. i have a few friends who wear very heavy floral perfumes. aside from the fact that i abhor strong perfumes, the odor could send me into major migraine mode. fortunately these friends are more once in awhile friends so its not such an issue.
im one of the "lucky" ones. i see the aura first and if manage to quickly take two alleve it goes away within twenty minutes. migraine aura kind of looks like when someone takes your picture with a flash and you keep seeing the spots for several minutes later. migraine aura alone doesnt hurt, but it will if you dont nip it in the bud.
before i found the right medication as well as realized what the aura was signalling i experienced full blown migraines. i would lie down in a dark , cool bedroom , clench my forehead and try to sleep it off. which was not easy. if i would get to the point that i was nauseous enough to throw up it would hasten recovery time.
ive heard that migraine sufferers are more likely to get strokes, which spooks me. i can see why . some stroke symptoms are similar to migraine symptoms. i suppose one just has to be careful if one is getting migraine symptoms that seem starkly different from the usual ones and seek medical advice then.
for women migraines can be hormonally related. my mom stopped getting migraines after menopause.
if you are lucky enough not to get migraines you should try to appreciate how lucky you are. for those of you who do have migraines --- i feel your pain.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


single.divorced . widowed. which is the best status to hold when one isnt married? my first answer is whatever ones status is it is the least desirable to be. my next answer is a little more complicated. depending on one's age divorced can be considered better than single. ah.. but the clincher is this . if its better to be divorced than never married, is it better to have been divorced several times than it is to have never been married? this my friends levels the playing field. it may scream commitment phobe if one has never been married , but to have been divorced several times may mean one is co-dependent and desperate and can never be without a spouse. unless of course one is over seventy. by seventy it could be perhaps be just a function of longevity to be divorced once and widowed twice. its a bit different for them than us younger folk.
it may be positive that a divorced individual can make a commitment, but then again a divorced individual might still have many commitments due to having made that prior commitment. this would be in the form of children. i love kids and would love to be a parent, but to be a stepparent is a different species altogether. if one has never been a parent it could get sticky. if one has been divorced oneself and has kids this too is a challenge.
the best case scenario of course is to get married young and to each be the others first spouse. for those of us who are going the (extremely) delayed adolescent route our basherts will run full gamut of statuses (single-divorced-widow).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

last minute people

im definitely not a last minute person. its not that im inflexible its just that i like a little bit of structure. i like being able to call up a friend one day of the week and make plans for a few days later. last minute people like to scan every event they could possibly attend and make sure they dont miss out on any possibility so they wait until the very last minute to decide upon plans. either that or they are very lazy. or both.

when things arent time bound its fine being last minute. one is apt to face alot of sold-out signs when one is last minute. if something is unimportant to me i dont mind. otherwise i do mind. alot of singles are last minute. this is why its possible to sign up for a shabbaton last minute.
i like being more of the planner type because i like being able to look forward to things. if one doesnt have any plans there are no plans to look forward to.
though not a last minute person myself i respect the fact that everyone has his/her way of doing things. just because im of the more responsible type i realize not everyone is as time savvy as i am.

Monday, May 18, 2009

its not easy being green....

i would categorize myself as a rational ecologist i dont like being wasteful , but i try not to be ocd about it. i reuse plastic grocery bags, use public transportation, but i do flush my toilet. ive read that some people dont flush their toilets for number one just so they can save water. i dont care about saving water THAT much.

i dont know or care whether or not there is global warming. i do think that its best to use cleaning products with the least toxic ingredients. in the past ive felt like i was being asphyxiated while cleaning my bathroom. the cleaning fluids smelled that lethal.

i eat meat, but i try not to waste meat or chicken that i have prepared. if i cant eat it all up at one meal i freeze it for later.

i donate my old clothing to charity or thrift shops. i often read library books and donate any books i have bought and no longer desire.

i recently bought a seltzer maker so i dont have to buy bottled seltzer. the machine comes with durable plastic bottles and is cheaper than buying seltzer. it also reduces alot of schlepping of seltzer bottles. i know that straight water is the best thirst quencher , but sometimes i need another taste. by having a seltzer maker there are less bottles to recycle.
i went to an eco-fest near grand central station in nyc around earth day. they had alot of interesting innovations. they showed how you could make bottle caps into magnets , wine corks into trivets and magazine paper into stationary. beside not being wasteful, it can help one become frugal.
im including a photo of a woman at the eco-fest who dressed up as mother earth.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

its about the journey....

failure is not striving for something and not achieving. failure is focusing on a specific goal and being disappointed when its unreachable. life is about the journey. its not about where you have or havent been.its about the route one is opting to take. this is so hard to internalize. logically this is a good thing . try to be the best one can be, but it doesnt matter if one accomplishes all ones dreams, just if one tries to . i feel better already....

Friday, May 15, 2009

jury duty

ive gone on jury duty twice. i hate it . its like being in jail. the first time i went i served for two days. the second time i served for just one.
the first time i went for jury duty it was an indian summer october. the jury duty holding room was an air conditioning-free zone replete with old ladies who didnt let anyone crack open a window because they "felt chilly". also if you went to the bathroom as you were waiting for your name to be called you had to tell someone your name because there was no loudspeaker in the restroom. if they called your name twice and you didnt respond you were marked absent. disgusting if you ask me. the second time i went for jury duty it was june. the juror's room then was air conditioned. it was in a different court building. what a difference. i almost didnt mind being there. almost, but not quite.
when i came back from pesach i received the juror questionnaire . it really sucks because i know that in about six weeks from when i sent it in they will be sending me that jury duty summons.
bh i havent managed to get on a case yet. my current employer doesnt pay me for jury duty. i always think of something to tell the judge to get myself off of the case.
it is kind of sad though. most dont want to get on a trial, so who do you think ends up being the jury? i dont even want to think about it. they should really have professional jurors. its not like the bozos in the jury box are a jury of my peers anyway. who are they kidding ? a professional juror would actually be versed in the complexities needed to make an informed decision. do you think that all jurors in our jury system have a high school diploma? is their command of the english language advanced enough to understand what a trial lawyer is actually saying? probably not. hashem help us all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Being Jewish In France

i managed to miss being jewish in france during this years jewish film festival. fortunately i subscribe to the fslc (film society of lincoln center) e-mail newsletter which told me that this film was going to be re-released this week. starting today. so of course i went and saw it.

the film is a 100 year history of jews in france starting with the dreyfus affair and ending with modern day france. the movie is informative as well as blood curdling. its 3 hrs long with one intermission. it doesnt leave one with a warm and fuzzy feeling afterward, but if you do see it you will be glad you did.

apparantly france was the first country to grant jews full citizenship.

though jews had been in france since the middle ages, many fled europe in the early 1900's due to pogroms including the brutal kishinev pogrom. jews were very much a part of french culture . there were even french/yiddish films at one time.

during the shoah the french sold out and surrendered the jews to the nazis. many french jews were murdered. the film did not make it clear why jews returned to france after the war despite the fact the french sold them out. a few holocaust survivors were featured, but it didnt seem to be an issue. to be fair, they were children when they returned to france so the decision to stay there wasnt really up to them. by the time they grew up the world had changed.

in 2000 there were alot of anti-semitic attacks in france which at the time the french equated with kristallnacht. a school was blown up, children were harrassed and synagogues were desecrated. since 9/11 there has been an increase in anti-semitic attacks in france. there is a large arab minority and small jewish minority in france. in the more recent past - the 1980's and1990's - when there were anti-semitic incidents more than just jews were protesting. now the anti-semite is the disaffected suburban youth which makes it more mainstream. on public tv there are outright anti-semitic comedians who no one blinks an eye at. they just think its funny. jean benguigui, a current french comedian , conveyed his disbelief. his words were so moving that i wish i didnt have to rely on the subtitles. my high school french is long forgotten. sixty years after world war 2 being jewish had become so mainstream in france. now its such a shock for its jews to realize they arent as accepted as they thought.

because this was a documentary its message is stronger. viewing clips of modern france with modern looking jewish people as victims of anti-semitism makes it seem all too real. the genuine shock these people have expressed... haunting....

growing up i had always heard that france was anti-semitic so it was hard to understand how shocked the french jews are to the recent surge of anti-semitism. i suppose its always hard to admit one's homeland is truly anti-semitic.
alot of french jews have emigrated to israel due to the resurgence of anti-semitism.
being jewish in france is a most candid history i will not likely soon forget.
shalom- peace on earth.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

optimism vs pessimism

this past thursday night i saw the tail end of michael j fox's special on optimism. he did this special to kick off his new book always looking up: adventures of an incurable optimist . i wish i had seen more than the last 15 minutes. for an actor in the rocket of his career to be stricken with parkinsons and still be optimistic is astounding. not only is he spouting dogma he has internalized it. when i hear people singing mitzvah gedolah lihiyot b'simcha it seems its their favorite song and not an adage they uphold. michael j. fox is living it.

when i first sat down to watch the special i was struck by the sadness of it all. the michael j. fox of family ties, back to the future and spin city is a parkinsons patient. what also struck me is how great an actor he really is. he is beloved for such roles, but they werent really who he is . he certainly is not the conservative republican alex p. keaton or marty mcfly of back to the future. he's someone much finer. though he can no longer walk a straight line or sit still, he is a positive shining light in the face of adversity. he is hopeful for a cure for parkinsons and he is grateful for what he does have in life.

forget life changing diseases for a moment. some people are terminal optimists, others eternal pessimists. everything and nothing can be occurring and this is who they will be. an optimist can live in a tiny roach motel apartment and be so happy to be living the dream of making it in the big city while another could have a penthouse on park avenue but not be able to enjoy it because they have freckles. so many people are too busy chasing rainbows to appreciate what they have.

tracey pollan, michael j. fox's wife, is a pessimist. according to the psychologist on the special, pessimism isnt necessarily a bad thing. a pessimist needs to assess the worst case scenario so they can move on. it makes them feel better. being more pessimist that optimist myself i can attest to this truth. its nice to know that a little realism can be positive. it seems too naive to be completely pollyanna.

when i meet a guy i always see his faults blaring in my face. but to me this isnt necessarily a bad thing. i get the bad part out of the way first. worst case scenario. then i see if i can also find the good . does the good outshine the bad? i dont purposely do this. its just how im wired. others only see good. then the s@$##t hits the fan and they see all of the negative. i do it the other way.

the lesson to be learned from the show was whether optimistic or pessimistic by nature one can still be sameach b'chelko its just that there are different methods of reaching that endpoint.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

the voice of israel in brooklyn

one evening i was flipping the dial of my completely low tech ecologically sound wind up radio and i happend upon kol yisrael the voice of israel on 88 fm . at first i thought it was in honor of yom haatzmaut, but now i realize that its not a fluke because for the last week ive been listening to kol yisrael. they must be broadcasting somewhere in brooklyn, because im not sure how else im getting it. i tried looking it up online but it mostly lists ways one can listen online. anyone else know about this? i know im living in an alternative reality, but this has really been confirming my suspicions. but seriously, anyone know where this is being broadcast from?

mother's day

i have something rather offbeat to say about mother's day after reading this post by webgirl. in addition to honoring our mothers on mother's day i think that its important for people to thank hashem for being a mother. that is if one is a mother. i know that if/when i get to be a mother i will be very thankful and grateful. i bet hallmark hasnt created a card for this.
to all those who are mothers today have a happy mothers day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


my most favorite part of summer in midwood is sitting on ocean parkway on shabbos. for those of you who do not live in midwood, ocean parkway is a street lined with benches. its a very busy street, but its the closest one can get to sitting in a park on shabbos in urban midwood. there are a few concrete jungle parks in midwood but they are quite depressing . they are more like a place to put a few swing sets and slides . they arent real parks. a real park has grass and trees. these concrete jungles have neither. this is why i prefer the benches on ocean parkway. ocean parkway has two sides. one side has benches and a divider where on one side people can walk and the other side people can bike. on the other side ocean parkway there are benches and its a bike-free zone. only walkers are allowed. last year the walking only side was closed off so they could redo the sidewalk and some of the benches. it was a nightmare. everyone had to sit or walk on the biker friendly zone. this year it will be different. the bike-free zone is open. i know this sounds trivial, but there isnt alot i like about midwood and i was deprived of my only midwood pleasure last year. thankfully this year will be different.

Friday, May 8, 2009

good friends

to have a good friend is so important. knay lecha chaver. buy yourself a friend. interesting.

its so important to have a friend that the torah even tells us to buy one. that said , a true friend is hard to find and even harder to buy.

on facebook one could have five hundred friends and what does that all mean? NADA! how many of these so-called friends would you really want to spend time with? how many of these folks would you even be in contact if not for facebook? on the one hand its nice to be in touch with alot of friends from the past, but really? where is the substance?

some friends are situational friends. when the situation is over you are no longer friends. no longer single no longer friends. no longer in high school/college/neighborhood no longer friends. its not a bad thing. there isnt enough time in the day to keep up with so many people.

how many people do you think really know who you are? not how many people think they know you.

how many people really know you and like you for who you are? probably not many. i know there arent many who really know me. there are a few. but not alot. alot of people are too selfish to really get to know anyone besides themselves. alot of people dont really care. others arent capable of understanding another person. no frame of reference. if you arent exactly like them they cant understand you.

thankfully i do have several people who do really know me. and that actually is alot. its not often to have even one person who really knows you. fortunately i have several . life is good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

so much for technology....

i remember eight years ago one of my brothers was really excited about the conversion of analog to digital tv. come to think of it my 96 year old great uncle was also looking forward to it. as for me... ive been dreading it. a year ago i got the darn government issue $40 coupon so i bought the $65 gadget for $25. i had tried to hook it up at the time, but it was more complicated than i had anticipated. i was able to hook it up to my tv but not my vcr. yes i know im living in the dark ages. i dont have cable or tivo. i do have a dvd player.
anyway, today i decided to suck it up and try to hook up the tv/digital converter/vcr. what a debacle. it took me several hours to do so. finally i looked in my low tech circa 2004 vcr manual which told me how to record with a vcr if you have a cable box. success! i did a test run and was able to record. yes i know i can watch missed shows online , but its much more fun to watch tv on an actual tv.
i was perfectly happy with my analog tv. ive always had a good antenna on my tv.sometimes the upgrades of technology arent really better. i like the fact dvds are smaller than videos, but i like how you can pause a video and come back to it a few days later without the hassle of a dvd. i prefer the reception of a landline phone over a cell phone and books over the kindle. i do admit that i like reserving and renewing library books online. to me it is just on e of life's little pleasures. i cant imagine typing with an old fashioned manual typewriter instead of a computer.
well, i think im safe technologically for a little while now.... until they think of something new EVERYONE just has to have.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


black is the "in" color for new yorkers. black looks sheik. black is slimming. black goes with everything. black is the favorite color of many frum women. i think that this is because everyone is so weight conscious in this community. black is slimming.

black is part of my wardrobe. black is not my whole wardrobe. i love colors and i love wearing colored clothing. i guess i dont weigh enough for black to be my only wardrobe color. bh. they say black is beautiful, but it accentuates any dandruff flake that might be peppering ones shoulders. not a good color for a psoriasis sufferer like myself.
ive met new york men who wear the "uniform" of black from head to toe as well. some men wear black to appear slim and others are simply trying to be cool.

magicians wear black . so do witches. hmmm. .... .....

Friday, May 1, 2009

the upside

the upside of having a stressful job is that in my real life i have begun to cut off those who only an infinite amount of patience on my part would deem them unannoying. i just dont have time for that. i need to surround myself with those who emote good karma instead of those who require so much patience and energy that they suck the life out of me.
wishing everyone a calm and restful shabbos.