Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Anna Nicole Smith:

1. What a sad, sorry life and what a sad, sorry woman.
2. Paging Howard K. Stern: Hello? Aren't you in your 40's?
You're supposed to give up your shikse fantasies when you're like, 15.
3. Just bury her already!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Dear Friend,

When you called me today to say you thought of me because you heard The Indigo Girls on the radio, you made my day.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Paging Mr. Chopra...

"When I am independent of the good or bad opinion of others, I stand strong in my own Divine power."

That's what Deepak said.

I worry a lot about what other people think of me. It's something I'm working on. I also assume what other people are thinking of me - and I respond to them based on my assumption. This is not emotionally healthy.

For example: Today we had this fancy schmancy ground breaking event at my shul. There was a separate children's program, and Rebbetzin Plony asked me to be involved with it. She asked me about 6 weeks ago. I don't remember her exact wording, but my impression was that she wanted me to run it. I called last week to ask what she expected of me.

"Oh, don't worry about it, it's all taken care of," she said. Um, okay. When I got to the event, I saw other women running the program. Here's where I went with it: She knows I'm an anxiety maven and doesn't think I'll do a good job with this. She doesn't think I'm capable. Why did she ask me and then get other ladies to do it?

Let's backtrack a little. Once when I was running a children's program on shabbos, all the kids ran out. They do this every shabbos, it wasn't because of me. Nonetheless, I got very overwhelmed and frightened for their safety. I'm responsible for them! What if something happens to them - they're supposed to be in my care! I was early in a pregnancy - all hormonal - and I started to cry.

Rebbetzin Plony saw me crying and came to comfort me. She thinks I'm a total nutjob. I want her to think I'm a fine member of this community, responsible and capable. Now she thinks I'm mentally unstable. Do I know what she was thinking? No!

Or another time I ran a program in shul and I was supposed to have teenagers to help me. Only one showed up, and she was unhelpful. So I basically ran the program, for about 40 kids, all by myself. Madness and mayhem! I was so overwhelmed, and it showed (I also just had a miscarriage). I didn't cry that time, but I was really frazzled and Rebbetzin Plony saw. In fact, when I wanted to run another children's program for another chassidishe yom tov, she said, "Remember when you got so overwhelmed at the gimmel tammuz program...?"

So she's got my number. She knows I get anxious. But does it really matter? Isn't it okay if I get anxious? Why do I have to appear perfect? Can't I be a helpful member of the community even if I'm flawed? Having to appear perfect all the time is another problem I have.

Three months into my pregnancy with Zalman, I gave up my post as coordinator for the children's programs. It was too much for me. Someone else started running it. This woman is a real go-getter, truly an asset to the community. I have convinced myself that Rebbetzin Plony likes and admires this woman (and her contributions) more than me. And what if she does, right? BIG DEAL! If I was independent of the good or bad opinion of the rebbetzin, I could stand strong in my own Divine power. Right, Deepak?

But back to the children's program today. I didn't run it, but I helped. I passed out pizza. I made sure all the holy Jewish children got fed. I even made sure no one was still hungry, passing out seconds. I assume Rebbetzin Plony bumped me off because she thinks I'm incapable. But maybe she got so busy that she simply asked other people to do it. I have no idea what her reasons are, right? Maybe it's not all about me.



St. Steven

When my Dad was here, my half-brother called. For the first time ever, we talked. Though it was a awkward, it was a good start. We have sent each other a couple of emails since then.

The weird thing is that I know about him - I know things about his childhood. My father and his mother divorced, and he acquired a mean stepfather, like me. He was even adopted by his stepdad, like I was. We have a parent in common, a genetic bond, yet I've never met him.

He's in his 40's and has an interesting, high-paying job in the pharmaceutical industry. He has 3 kids and has been married almost 20 years. I know he has major issues with our dad and with that side of the family. He only contacted Dad after his own mother passed away. I know connecting with him - by necessity - is going to be slow-going.

Still, the email I sent this morning was intense - I don't know how it could be otherwise. The issue that binds us is our father, and it's pointless to talk about random things. Despite this, e-mailing him about Dad (and that side of the family) is heavy.

I hope to meet him someday.

Friday, February 23, 2007
Baruch Dayan Emes.

Goodbye, Rabbi Blumenkrantz. Pesach will never be the same without you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yesterday was a special day on many levels, but I'll focus on the massage appointment.

I got there a little early and sat in the waiting room. There was a box of "growth and enlightenment" cards by Deepak Chopra that I shuffled through. Here are two cards - variations on a theme - that resonated with me:

"When I am independent of the good or bad opinion of others, I stand strong in my own Divine power."

"When I recognize and acknowledge my personal power, I no longer need to feel superior or inferior to anyone else."

(In another post I will elaborate on how those ideas touch my life.)

The massage therapist appeared and whisked me into her magic room. She started working, and I vowed to keep silent - I wanted focus my energy on the massage. This lasted about 10 minutes. We started talking about chiropractic care and I related to her the first time I ever saw a chiropractor. I had witnessed a horrific accident, and then started experiencing severe back pain soon after. (I may some day blog about what I experienced, and I may not. It was very traumatizing.)

I had opened the conversation to talk about my chiropractic care, but then started to talk about the terrible event. How I went into shock, and wasn't able to integrate what I saw. How I had a spiritual experience afterwards, when a messenger came from "the other side" to help me.

I told her that I knew massage had the potential to unblock emotional trauma, and I thanked her for being a listening ear. It happens that the center she works in has other health care practitioners. There's an endocrinologist, an acupuncturist, and a psychologist there, as well. So she told me that she's had some long-term clients who come with the same muscular blockage, over and over again. For some reason she wasn't able to massage them out. She told me she's asked her client's permission to bring in the psychologist, to talk a little while she's massaging. While the client and the psychologist are talking, she massages her way through the physical blockage and they all get it out together.
"You can't believe the stuff that comes out," she added.

I feel really safe with her. I feel safe enough to let her touch me, and safe enough to talk to her. And after the massage, when I drove home, I had another release. I apologized to someone I hurt. It's not appropriate for me to contact this person at this time, so I just had a conversation with her in my car. I told her how sorry I was for what I did. I apologized to myself for not having the emotional maturity to exit the relationship when I should have.

The whole experience was beautiful.

Sunday, February 18, 2007
Fancy Schmancy Tipsy Maven

So tonight I went to a school fundraiser dinner. You might remember me talking about it last year, the 600.00 event that we are required to pay for. Unlike last year, however, this time we actually got to go.

So the hors d'oeuvres were amazing and there was an open bar. Four open bars, to be exact. I decided to get a vodka watermelon. I drank that sucker so fast, only to recall the treachery of juice-based cocktails: the sweetness hides the alcohol. Nonetheless, I decided to have another. Yaakov got me one, and I proceeded to round 2. It was then that I uttered the dumbest thing ever. "Yaakov," I breezily announced to the table, "I'm beginning to think you have ulterior motives!"

Despite the 4-fingers of vodka I'd likely consumed at that point, I realized right away that it was really inappropriate (Yaakov said he wanted to crawl under the table). To make things worse, a friend at the table piped in regarding her husband and her drinking. I was mortified.

The night got worse. We moved to another section of the hotel, gathered around an even bigger table. The aforementioned friend made reference to a bawdy joke I once told at a girl's night out. I won't dare repeat it, only that it involved goats and a lousy Irish brogue. (Not surprisingly, alcohol factored into that night, too.) "You'll never top that one," she called across the table. Mrs. Stein, sitting on my right, proceeded to giggle. "That was a great joke, Maven," she noted. Mr. Stein, sitting next to his wife, raised his eyebrow at me and shook his head.

600 bucks is not worth making a damn fool of myself.

Saturday, February 17, 2007
Shavua Tov!

Trailer for YIPPEE, Paul Mazursky's new film

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Love You Forever.

We checked it out of the library. I sat on the couch reading it with Chaya, bawling my eyes out.

I remembered the first time I heard it: A friend called, read it to me - we wept together. We haven't spoken for about a year and a half. Though I miss her and think of her often, it's emotionally better for both of us that we let go.

I had another friend - we went to Oregon together. California. We went camping. We made up a niggun to the Ba'al Shem Tov's aphorism, "mayim siman brocha" (water - sign of blessing). She got married, moved to Israel, and we lost touch. I valiantly emailed her. She moved back to the states, I tracked her down. I left a joyful message on her answering machine. Nothing.

I have a current friend, and our relationship has changed. We used to be closer, but "things happened." I don't think we can recover what we once had, but I'm growing comfortable in our new parameters. And that's okay.

I have friends here, some of them precious. I have my Canadian soul-sister. I have some old buddies in Crown Heights. My "friend-needs" are met. Nonetheless, I look back on friends I had, and I feel wistful.

To them I say; Love You Forever.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I Need Help.

After I had Zalman I lost about 25 pounds, doing Weight Watchers on my own. Then I started going back to meetings. All told, I lost about 32 pounds. Now I am in my weight range, and I even reached my personal goal a few weeks ago. But overeating has been dogging me week after week, despite my progress. Last week I gained 5 pounds. I over-ate Every. Single. Night.

A feeling comes over me when I over-eat. Like I get seized by a dybbuk and lose touch with reality. The food doesn't even taste good to me anymore. I can consume hundreds of extra calories, and still my stomach feels like a bottomless pit. It's insane. And then the following day all the feelings come: the exhaustion, the guilt, the despair. Sometimes I think, "why should I bother counting points today? I'm bound to fail."

When I overeat, I feel like I don't deserve to enjoy food. Like that gift certificate my mom gave Yaakov and I for the fancy schmancy restaurant. I don't even want to go - steak is for a girl who behaves herself all week.

I don't know why I'm having such a problem. I've always had a penchant towards overeating, though not to the degree I have now. I've used weight watchers for 5 years to successfully lose and manage my weight. But lately, I'm starting to think I need more help (an OA meeting...?).

It's really getting out of control.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I have a friend whose husband is buddies with a bakery owner here. Sometimes, he gives my friend's husband surplus baked goods. A few times these have been passed on to me. I then have the merit of sharing them with other families in the neighborhood.

So my friend called me erev shabbos and asked if I could pass the goods along (that sounds mafioso, right?). I thought I could, but then I got busy with my baby and with shabbos and wasn't able to do it. I felt bad. For me, the mitzvah is to get them to the families before shabbos. Then they have an unexpected kichel or challah to enjoy.

I wasn't able to get the stuff out motsei shabbos, either, and I had extended family here all day. I figured I would do the mitzvah tonight. The first person I called to deliver to said; "Did you know Sara had a baby boy? I think they're making the bris this week. How about you give it all to them?" Beautiful! I coordinated with one of Sara's neighbors, and arranged to bring it to her. It was a 20 minute drive, so I decided to pull out an old Dead tape.

I rummaged around and found the very first show I ever heard. I got all excited to have this private car time - just me and the Dead (and the pastries). I called a buddy in Crown Heights: "MAVEN! I'm so happy to hear from you! I'm just about to open an Iggeres Hakodesh with my husband. Can I talk to you later?" I clicked off my cell phone and continued listening to "Gimme Some Lovin'." I started thinking about my holy friend and her holy husband. Was he putting on a gartel? They were probably facing a major decision and were writing in to the Rebbe. I felt sad. When was the last time Yaakov and I wrote to the Rebbe? What happened to our hiskashrus? Why can't we be like them?

And then another voice said; Stop comparing! Look what you're doing right now! You went out of your way to drive these mitzvah pastries - for a bris! And Yaakov is home washing dishes and helping around the house. Nu, what's wrong with that?


p.s. 6/15/85 Greek Theatre set II

Wheel>Gimme Some Lovin'>Throwin' Stones
Not Fade Away

She Belongs to Me
U.S. Blues

Forwarded Mail -

A "seasonal" friend sent this to me. Normally, forwarded emails get deleted, but I think this one is special - a beginning of posts I want to write about friendship:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Told to me by one of my carpool kids:

Yossi: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Me: Why?
Yossi: To get the Chinese Newspaper. You get it?
Me: No.
Yossi: Me neither. I get the Times.

(Not bad for a 10 year old.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007
"17 words to keep in your pocket"

...that's what the business card read, the one I found on the floor today at a Weight Watchers meeting.







(A most interesting addition to my wallet!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I want to learn to love without criticism. For example: My previous post. While I did comment on my father's greatness, a lot of energy was spent commenting on what I don't like/approve of.

Now Yaakov, for example, knows me better than anyone. Believe me, he knows my dark and ugly self - unfortunately, all too well.
But he doesn't dwell on it, choosing to celebrate what he loves instead. And truthfully? He loves the dark side too (insert Darth Vader breathing here).

You can't love others until you love yourself - so true! I know I don't love myself. Every day I beat myself for mistakes I've made in my past. Every. Single. Day. All I see is my darkness - and that's what I see in others too. I need to stop being so damned critical.

My dad told me a funny story. He went to a psychiatric appointment wearing pants and a sport coat, but no shirt. So his doctor said (not unkindly), "Howard, you are really over the top today!" Dad replied, "You know what? When you get to be my age, who cares!"

You might say this story proves that my father needs psychiatric care. On the other hand, it shows that he simply loves and accepts himself for whoever he is. I aspire to that.

With a shirt on, of course.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Reflections on Dad.

I think I've come to terms with my father's mental illness. It's the rest of him that has me baffled.

Don't get me wrong, my father is a good guy. He's kind and generous, funny, warm, and extroverted. Yet I feel like he wasted his life. He spends his days doing whatever he wants - trolling the streets of San Francisco, going swimming, playing kazoo with his band. His wife - with her stable job and stable Catholicism - supports him. While he was here he told all kinds of stories, the adventures and near-misses of his crazy life. Yet all I could think was; you skipped out on fatherhood. You were never, ever responsible.

At one point I told Yaakov, "My father is a clown. His whole life, he's been a clown!" This revelation startled me. Yaakov replied, "He's an overgrown child with a drug-addled brain."

I love my father, but I'm not sure if I accept him.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My Pesach OCD is starting.

Friday, February 02, 2007
Releasing the Sparks.

So last night I had a date with my brother at a bar. We're sitting outside talking, and there were loud drunksters nearby. Every other word was "F this and F that." I called them over and smiled. "What are your names?" They told me. "Chad and Amanda, you have such sweet mouths. How could you let those words come out?"

The truth is, I wanted to say, "G-d is here, too." But they were drunk, so I didn't go there.

Well, Amanda had my number good. She narrowed her eyes at me. "You're religious, aren't you? Aren't you, right? What are you?" I smiled and confessed. "I knew it!" she crowed. "I knew by what you're wearing. You know, the hair, the skirt - everything." She waved her hands around like Vanna White showcasing a refrigerator.

"So why are you here?" she accused. "You don't belong here. This is a bar, full of drunken souls." (Yes, she actually said "drunken souls.") "Why are you bringing G-d to this place? You expect people to be nice here, but people don't talk nice in bars. You can't be all religious and bring G-d here and expect people to believe like you." My brother pointed out that I didn't mention G-d at all - she brought Him up. But Amanda wouldn't hear it. She kept pointing at me, saying, "No, it was her."

She's right, I thought - what am I doing here? I'm a frum Jew in a seedy bar. I don't belong here. Why are you bringing G-d to this place? Well, I mused - I guess that's why I'm here! Her words shouted into my heart. I felt on a deep level she communicated, "You're a Jew - do your job." It reminded me of a profound thing I heard in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach:

The whole world is waiting for Jews to be Jews

My Photo Name: Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven
Location: Chutz l'aretz - Outside of Brooklyn

fancymaven at gmail dot com