Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Gam zu l'tova?

This morning I was thinking about my friend. Though I miss her (terribly so, at times), I know it wouldn't be healthy to go there again. I thought, how can I honor this woman who did so much for me, if I can't have a relationship with her? I decided I would keep her in mind and daaven for her and her family.

My morning trip was to a thrift store (one that she told me about, in fact). As I pulled into the parking lot I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if I saw her here?" When I went to pay, I saw two frum girls nearby. I froze. Her daughters. "Oh hi how are you how old are you now wow you got so big how nice to see you who did you come with?" Their mother.

Somewhere in that crazy store was a woman that I longed to see. I wanted to, yet I was terribly afraid. I stood on line. Zalman was freaking out, and I needed to leave. The girls would report my presence to their mother, and she would find me if she wanted to. That's how I left it. Yep, she's going to come find me and see Zalman whacking me with my cell phone. She'll see my beautiful son with his snotty nose, and be amused, and it'll be terribly awkward but nice at the same time. I nervously waited on line. She never came, and I left without searching for her.

I cannot help but feel cowardly.

Sunday, July 29, 2007
Fancy Schmancy Recipe Maven.

I came up with this for shabbos:

I sliced an unpeeled eggplant into rounds and laid them in a 9x13 pan. I covered the eggplant well with tomato sauce and threw some green pimiento olives in. Then I put a chicken (cut in 8ths) on top, and poured some of the juice from the olive jar atop the chicken. Then I arranged some of the pimientos on top of each piece.

Baked at 425 for about 90 minutes, very yummy.

p.s. Totally random, but this has become one of my favorite sites. You'll never find more beautiful royals.

Friday, July 27, 2007
Dear Readers,

Thank you for the kind comments on my last post. When you share your experiences, it furthers the notion that there's a "sameness" to all of us. It makes me feel not so alone.

A few things touched me particularly:

One person emailed me, saying the post helped clarify some feelings she had after her miscarriage. It touched me deeply that something I wrote could benefit someone else.

Another cheered me on my path to becoming "more fancy, and less anxious." I got a kick out of that - I might have to make that my motto!

Lastly, Toronto Pearl complimented the writing! I love to write. Getting accolades for it is really affirming. Thank you, Pearlie.

Thank you all for reading and sharing my journey with me.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The Miscarriage.

When it was first happening, I decided I wasn't going to write about it. I didn't want to cheapen the experience, I didn't want the loss of my pregnancy to become blog fodder. But now it's over, really over - and I'm okay.

When we found out I was pregnant we were surprised, and sheepishly pleased. This baby would have been our closest space yet, 18 months apart from Zalman. We started thinking about juggling school tuition and midwifery payments. We calculated that we'd have our baby in February. We wondered if we could hack it, parenting five young children.

I called my midwife, who was surprised and happy for me. We scheduled our first appointment for a later time. I felt Yaakov and I had a secret with G-d, a warm little secret growing inside.

I was craving protein and started eating more. I began taking my pre-natals and extra iron. I'd cast furtive glances at the calendar, at the cryptically circled date for my first appointment. Even my calendar was in cahoots with me.

I started bleeding on a Friday morning. I sighed with a heavy heart and went back into the kitchen. Breakfast to make, lunches to prepare. I finally had a moment alone with Yaakov. "Oh no," he said, crestfallen. But I was too busy that day to grieve. I had challah to make, a million things to do for shabbos.

Yet at every moment I knew: My precious secret was bleeding out of me.

As the days passed, I wanted to tell everybody. I wanted to tell the Publix cashier. The UPS guy. It was weird that people were interacting with me like nothing was amiss. It was strange being nonchalant with the world.

I did make it to that appointment with my midwife, but it wasn't a prenatal visit. She was taking my blood, confirming the miscarriage was complete. She comforted me.

In retrospect, the miscarriage was a blessing. I was off the wall emotionally, my anxiety was through the roof. Though I'm sure the miscarriage exacerbated them, they're feelings I deal with all the time. After the miscarriage I finally decided to get help.

Perhaps a part of me had to die, so another part could ultimately live.

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Food Drama.

I originally joined Weight Watchers after Rivky was born, about 6 years ago. I was determined, and stuck to my points like a champ. Every week I'd call a buddy and crow over the 3-4 lbs I'd lost. Not only did I lose my pregnancy weight, but I lost an extra 20 lbs I'd been carrying around for years.

I faithfully maintained my weight loss until I got pregnant with Srulik. That was my license to eat. Oh man - did I ever. I gained about 60 lbs (as I have in all my pregnancies). Pregnancy is my excuse to fall off the wagon. Anyway, Srulik was born and it was back to Weight Watchers. Again I lost it all, and maintained.

Then I got pregnant with Zalman! Again I ate like a fiend. Pass the brownies, baby. And ramen noodles, I had big cravings for those. Hot and sour soup - 3 times a week for awhile there. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I couldn't bare to tell my midwife how much I was gaining. Hell, I was afraid to know myself! She'd send me into the bathroom to weigh myself, and I'd just slide the measuring bars up and down the scale so she'd hear the clacking. Then I'd report whatever sounded good: "I gained half a pound." I have no doubt I gained between 65-70 lbs with that kid, but I'll never truly know.

And I lost it all. Almost.

I keep hearing that weight loss is harder as you get older. This time, I can't seem to drop the last 5 pounds to reach my personal goal. Not only can I not drop them, I keep adding to them. I don't know what my problem is. Friday afternoon I kept eating and eating. Then the shabbos queen arrived, and I kept eating and eating.

I had a miscarriage about 3 weeks ago, and part of me wants to blame that. "Oh, you're all hormonal, this is all related to the miscarriage." But that's a crock, and I know it. I've been overeating a lot lately. I eat unhealthy foods, and I get depressed. And then I'm depressed, so I'll eat. It's a vicious cycle, the snake swallowing her tail. I know eating poorly makes me feel poorly, physically and emotionally. I totally feel the difference when I eat raw fruits and vegetables.

This morning I had a thought: Eating well is an act of self-love and self-care. I have to have ahavas yisroel for myself, and eat in a self-respecting way. It's not new-agey to say that the body is the temple of the soul, it's really true.

So tonight I only ate one, yes, ONE slice of pizza. I don't remember the last time I had just one (yes, ONE) slice of pizza. I did not eat anybody's crusts. I did not eat the cheese left in the box. I exercised self-control.

My Weight Watchers leader puts a new twist on an old cliche. "Nothing tastes as good as being in control feels." And you know what?

She's right.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Remember the incident in shul last week? Well, guess what? Tova just brought me shabbos flowers! I thought that was big of her, don't you? And brave, too. I wish I would've thought of it first, I'm very touched.

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Царство Русское, goodbye.

According to Lenin; "An intelligent Russian is almost always a Jew, or someone with Jewish blood in his veins." Maybe he said that because a disproportionate number of Bolsheviks/communists were Jews. Maybe he said that because there was Jewish blood in his own family. Maybe it's true.

I have mentioned my interest in Russian history before. I have also mentioned my interest in royal families. I have long known about Jewish involvement
in Russia's revolutionary history.

What I did not know - until tonight - was that it was a Jew who murdered the The Romanovs. The Tsar, Tsarina, their 4 daughters, their son, and some loyal servants. I knew their story - ordered into their basement and murdered in cold blood. I did not know their murderer was named Yakov Yurovsky. Okay, it was him and 9 others. But he was their leader.

Yakov Yurovsky.

I want to rationalize. Russians trace their religion patrilineally. Many Russians with Jewish fathers claim to be Jewish, while according to Jewish law they are not. There's a part of me that's hoping that Yakov, nicknamed "Yankel," was not really Jewish.

You know, I can't say the Romanovs weren't anti-semites. They were - famously so. But that's not why Yurovsky murdered them. He was angry at their bourgeoisie, their politics. He was one of many revolutionaries at the time. The murder of the royal family was a facet of a larger Bolshevik revolution, though perhaps its most glorious.

Five royal children were murdered. That is so wrong. Yurovsky's son claimed his father was haunted by his role in the regicide. Ninety years later, I too am haunted.

A Jew should not have the hands of Eisav.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Archie and Edith...

Yaakov: Make sure you buy celery for me before tisha b'av.
Me: Okay.
Yaakov: Can you believe it? Twelve years.
Me: I thought it was thirteen?
Yaakov: No, we met tisha b'av in '95.
Me: (changing subject) I must be a glutton for punishment.
Yaakov: ...?
Me: (laughing) No, I meant that I ate too many tacos tonight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Meshuggener Magnet....

So I'm in Publix today with 3 kids. I needed to go down a certain aisle, but there was a lady blocking it with her cart. She was re-arranging Coke cans on the end-cap display. Finally I said, "Excuse me, ma'am." She turned and grumbled loudly, but acquiesced.

I continued shopping and got on line. The lady in front of me was slowwwwly placing each item onto the belt. Then she started to push her cart backwards, edging me out of line. When she did that, I realized it was Coke-can lady.

I didn't think anything about it, I just waited until she moved her cart again. Then I put down one of those plastic divider thingies and proceeded to put my groceries on the belt. She threw her lettuce at the magazines and yelled, "Would you wait?! I'm not *&$#@% done with my groceries yet!" My eyes flew open in surprise. The cashier looked at her, startled.


"The belt moves," I pointed out to her. "Even if you aren't done it will still make room." (You see, I hadn't realized she was a total nutjob at this point. What can I do? I'm slow about these things.) When it was my turn to pay, the cashier told me she said I was stalking her throughout the entire store. "Don't tell the management," I replied. "Okay," she grinned. "Just stop stalking people."

When I recounted the story to Yaakov, I told him I understand why he calls me a meshuggener magnet. "Like attracts like," I laughed. "Don't get excited," he said. "You're not that bad."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yesterday in shul there was a kiddush. Whenever this happens I'm happy: A) It means I don't have to prepare shabbos lunch and B) I get to see the other ladies in shul and socialize.

So I trekked to shul towards the end of daavening, and settled into a corner. After 10 minutes or so a certain lady - let's call her Tova - comes to me and says; "I want to talk to you about your daughters. They talk during krias haTorah and you should keep them home." She paused and looked disapprovingly at the other kids. "Believe me, I have a lot of mothers to call tonight."

She's right. It's not appropriate for kids to be noisy in shul. The mothers generally ignore their prattle, as long as they don't get out of hand.

Anyway, I know Tova and her schtick, so I just said, "Thanks for telling me." The kiddush got underway and Rav Plony started talking. Tova was flashing her eyes at the chirping kids, even lecturing one as he wriggled by her. Zalman was in my arms, making loud baby noises now again. During a break, I noticed Tova lecturing my husband over the mechitza that it's wrong that we bring our children to shul. At that moment I got angry, and I didn't like how I felt. I decided I would say something nice to her, to diffuse my negativity.

"I really like your shirt, Tova," I said, sincerely meaning it (even though I still felt annoyed). "Oh thanks," she smiled. Then Rav Plony started talking again, and she stood up to listen. He was talking more quietly than ususal, and Zalman started to get a little louder. I was just realizing it was time to take him out, but not before Tova hissed,

"When I had young children I never took them to shul! I either stayed home or sat outside! This is not fair!" Her sudden vitriol took me by surprise, and I felt tears coming on. "This isn't daavening," I pointed out, "This is farbrengen. Farbrengen is about ahavas yisroel (loving your fellow Jew). I don't mind what you said to me, Tova, but you could have said it in a kinder, more sisterly, more chassidishe way."
(Another aspect of farbrengen - chassidim help each other improve their character). With that, I left.

I stood outside in the sun, angry and sad. I hated feeling that way towards her. I closed my eyes and prayed aloud, "Please G-d let me have ahavas yisroel. Please G-d let me have ahavas yisroel," over and over again. I cried as I asked G-d for His help.

Readers, how should I resolve this? Should I call her? Wait for her to call me? Let it go?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Chaya: Guys, do you know what a nursing home is?
Rivky + Srulik: No.
Chaya: It's where mommies go to nurse their babies when the other kids in the house are too wild.

Thursday, July 12, 2007
The things that jab us...

A long while ago, while smoothing the quilt on my bed, I got stuck by a pin. Pulling my hand back in pain, I proceeded to search for the culprit. Try as I might, I could not find it.

Last night, snuggled under my quilt, I got stuck again. I quickly reached down where I felt the poke. Aha! I felt a needle lodged inside the quilt! I tried to work it out with my fingers, but realized it was a scissor-job.

I left the quilt and went for scissors. Upon returning, I couldn't locate the pin again. I ran my hand over the area and finally found it. It was dark, and my baby was asleep in the room. Using a little book light, after many attempts, I removed the pin.

I can't help but think it a metaphor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Modus Operandi:

So I had an epiphany yesterday: I was at a friend's, having a playdate. Her social worker husband is the guy we took our Love and Logic courses with, and she's a Love and Logic educator as well.

Anyway...I was telling her how anxious it made me that my kids got so wild and rough with each other. While chatting, Srulik (3 1/2) threw himself head-first over the back of the couch, kicking me squarely in the mouth. A prime example of
my kids in action!

So she laughed, and said they all seemed normal. Then she said, "Oh yeah, when my kids get like that, I set this one up with her laptop and that on
e up with his legos, and the other one with her..."


When my kids freak out, I often resort to hand-wringing. Oh G-d what's wrong with my kids I must not be feeding them right why are they so wild I'm a lousy mother what's wrong with me what's wrong with them what's wrong with us... Then I go expressing my concern to anyone who will listen, wanting to know if we're normal.

What I need to do is take action! Re-direct them all to do something more constructive than killing each other.

And this isn't the only example: A couple of nights ago (while making tacos), Yaakov added too much liquid to the beans. Oh no the tacos are going to be soggy what a mess what a bummer what am I going to do...I left the room for a minute and Yaakov drained the liquid off the beans. In a flash of Nike ingenuity, he just did it. Thank G-d we're married, or I'd be in big trouble.

(At the very least, I'd have taco stains.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007
Confessions of an Anxiety Maven.

"You've been anxious ever since I've known you, and it's been 10 years," my friend informed me this morning on the phone. "Longer than that," I countered. "I remember dealing with this stuff when I was 12."

We started talking about my issues. "I can't leave my house unless it's clean, is that normal?" I asked. "Like today, we're going to pick up my brother. I could not leave the house Until. It. Was. Clean. I'll bet it would be really healthy for me to leave it one day," I mused. "Walk out and shut the door, leaving the mess. Of course," I added, "There are people who can't leave their houses until they swab them down with alcohol. I've read cases like that."

You know, I just had to make that hefsek between me and raging OCD. I don't have compulsions. But anxiety and ruminations? I've lived with those for years. They're a part of me, and I'm uncomfortably used to them. "Change is hard," I told my friend. "It's easier to get pregnant than to face a psychiatrist." Those words were ones I'd felt for a long time, yet telling her them made them real. It was startling to hear them. It's startling to type them.

I won't take meds when I'm pregnant or nursing, states I'm often in. And I'm hiding behind these maternal veils because I'm afraid to get help. I'm afraid to talk to a stranger about my turmoil. I'm afraid medication won't help. You know, The Rebbe said if you are locked in jail, it is you sitting on the keys. Rebbe, what can I do?

I'm afraid to stand up...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Bein Hametzarim

Today was the 17th of Tammuz, which begins 3 weeks of mourning on the Jewish calendar. It is the day the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem.

I was particularly angry and frustrated today, and I realized that too often I operate from this place. I get anxious, which manifests as anger. For example - all my kids ran away from me in the grocery store. I got anxious. I yelled, "If I can't see you, I can't keep you safe! You know better than that!" I mean, that's normal, but I get anxious about so many things. If my house isn't in order, I feel unsettled. Then I send out a lot of negative energy. Man, am I uptight!

I was thinking about my anger. My foreign anger - Roman anger - not consonant with my Jewish soul. I took some deep breaths, and I talked to it. "You breached my walls," I told Anger. "But you cannot breach the beis hamikdash in my heart."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The folks who live diagonally behind us have two puppies, who are unfortunately allowed to run loose. They like us, and yip and yap all the time in front of our house. They're cute, in their dopey puppy way.

The puppies have had some close calls with traffic. Several times Yaakov has deposited them back over the fence. He even spoke to the neighbors, telling them it would be best to keep them in their yard.


This past shabbos they got into one of the neighbors trash bags. They proceeded to tear it apart, spilling it's contents all over our yard. One of the items was a pair of bloody thong underwear. I can't make this stuff up, folks. Bloody. thong. underwear.

So today we were driving in the neighborhood, and I said, "let me knock on their door and talk to them." Yaakov pulled over. No answer. I decided to write a note:

Dear Neighbors,

Please keep your puppies enclosed in your yard. They opened a garbage bag and dumped its filthy, nasty contents all over our grass. If you do not keep them on your property, I will call animal control and report you. Consider yourself warned.

I didn't sign it, and I stuck it in their door. Maybe I should have left them the underwear as "Exhibit A."

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

fancymaven at gmail dot com