Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heads or Tails Tuesday: Halloween

Well, the Heads or Tails topic for this week is Halloween, and it gives me a good opportunity to blog about something that I have wanted to talk about for a long time. It's really hard for me, and I mentioned it once before, but I psyched myself up and got ready to write now as Halloween got closer. I hope you will bear with me as I finally get it all out.

For me, Halloween is no longer a fun holiday. Five years ago this Wednesday, I learned of the death of one of my best friends, Todd. He was found dead on an air force base (on which he was stationed) in Korea, and his cause of death has never fully been determined. I still hear the echo in my head when my father told me the news over the phone: "Honey, Todd is dead." Even looking at those words on my screen as I type them, I am stunned that they are true.

Todd was one of those friends you find as a child, and an indelible bond is formed. We met at synagogue when we were about 8 years old. His mom was single, and she found a lot of meaning coming to Shabbat services each week. She became close with my mom, and thus, Todd and I had reason to hang out every Friday night.

We would bring our Cabbage Patch Dolls to services, sit in the front row, and pretend that they were our children. We would make the sign language sign for "I love you" back and forth to each other. We would fall asleep snuggled up to each other in the backseat of my mom's car each week as the moms talked long into the night in the front.

As the years passed, we would lose touch for long periods of time. However, each time that we found each other, it was as if no time had gone by. We were able to pick up our friendship right where it had left off. As I got older, I always had the sense that, if we reached 30 and hadn't gotten married, we had each other. He had a very deep, important place in my heart, and the child-like "I love yous" grew to a love that was like the closest friend, family member, or lover.

Nevertheless, we were never really single at the same time, so dating was never a real option. I was engaged at one point, and he was single. Later, he was engaged, and I was single. It kept going back and forth like that. Suddenly, in 2000 and 2001, we were both single. Though he was now in the air force, and stationed in Arizona, we often wound up in Chicago simultaneously. We would spend every waking moment together on these visits home, even falling asleep in each other's arms after a particularly long day.

Then, September 11, 2001, happened. I felt an urgency to spend time with him, unlike anything I had felt before. I talked to him on the phone many times a week, and suggested during one of these talks that I come out to Tucson for a visit. We arranged for a visit over Thanksgiving of that year.

Well, what can I tell you - it was a passionate, intoxicating visit, filled with laughter, love, sight-seeing, romance, and fun. I never thought that moments like that would ever happen, and then they were real. However, we both realized that there wasn't really a future for us as a couple - he was living the military life, and I was becoming a rabbi. We agreed not to let the weekend change our relationship, and returned to our lives.

Who knew that, less than one year later, he would be dead??

We stayed in touch, and soon I learned that he would be shipping off to Korea. My heart ached, knowing that it would be two years before I could see him again. Yet, there is a certain excitement to an epistolary relationship, so we wrote long letters back and forth. I received postcards from his various Asian travels, and I sent him updates of my spiritual journey.

Then, silence. I didn't hear from him for a little while. Maybe it was just going to be one of those breaks in communication that we would go through? But, and I don't know why, one late night I had an urge to email him and tell him that I was thinking of him. The next morning, I got a disturbing email from him. He felt like he didn't deserve his achievements, he had hurt too many people, and felt like he had lost God. I wrote back quickly, telling him that he was wonderful, that returning to God was possible at any time, and that I cared for him. That was October 29....

Then, the phone call on October 31...."Todd is dead."

I was convinced that it was suicide, but the coroners didn't find any evidence. It didn't seem like an accident, and yet it didn't seem like foul play. There were no answers. Just.... nothing.

I flew home immediately. Because he died in Korea, there was a long, weeklong wait for his body to be flown to Chicago for the funeral. My siblings and I sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" at the funeral, because of his love for flight. The rest of those two weeks is a blur.

Todd, I miss you so much. I miss our talks, our scatological humor, our deep conversations about human nature and theology. I can't believe that it has been five years since your death - how can it be that long?? And how can I still hurt so much at this time of year? The months of Halloween decorations only make it hurt more, like I can't get away from the impending anniversary of your death.

I hope that you are flying high, soaring on the breeze, watching over me, and at peace. May your memory always be for a blessing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I've Been Tagged! Crazy 8's Meme

Well, folks, it's that time again - for another fun meme to get the week going. I am excited that my friend, Phyllis, over at Ima on (and off) the Bima, tagged me with this one. Some of my answers probably won't surprise you by now, but I guess you never know! Thus, without any further ado, the Crazy 8's Meme shall commence...

8 Things I'm Passionate About:

1. Pop Culture
2. Reading
3. Making the World a Better Place
4. Judaism
5. Karaoke
6. Love
7. Animals, especially my kitty cat, Precious
8. Family

8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die:

1. Write a book
2. Spend time in all 50 states
3. Participate in a past-life regression
4. Fall in love (again)
5. Get married
6. Have lots of happy, healthy babies
7. Change the world for the better
8. Live in Israel again, even if only for a month or so

8 Things I Say Regularly:

1. Poop!
2. Poopy Pants!
3. Pooper Scooper (see the pattern here??)
4. Shabbat Shalom
5. My condolences; I am so sorry for your loss
6. You will be in my thoughts and prayers
7. Whatever tickles your pickle!
8. Whatever, Trevor!

8 Books I've Read Recently (or am reading now...):

1. Marked
2. The Golden Compass
3. To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility
4. Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives
5. Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir
6. Water for Elephants
7. The History of Love
8. Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job

8 Songs I Can Listen to Over and Over Again:

1. "Feel," by Robbie Williams
2. "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin," by Colin Hay
3. "Everytime," by Britney Spears
4. "Hey, Eugene," by Pink Martini
5. "Y'hiyeh Tov," by David Broza
6. "Tiftach Chalon," by Rita
7. "My Immortal," by Evanescence
8. "Waters of March," by Jane Monheit

8 Things that Attract Me To My Friends:

1. Sharp Wit
2. Awareness of the world around them
3. Deep sense of kindness
4. Wise souls
5. Compassion
6. Optimism
7. Faith in themselves and in me
8. Faith, period

8 Things I Learned in the Last Year:

1. How much I love being a rabbi
2. How to be an "aunt" to my best friend's son
3. How easy it is to become complacent
4. Change, though immensely difficult, is so freeing
5. I don't have to apologize for who I am, just to get someone to care for me
6. Just because something is hard doesn't mean it is bad
7. My siblings and I are not just carbon copies of each other
8. That there are wonderful people out there in the blogging world - thanks, everyone!

And, now, I get to tag some other people - woohoo!

Confessions of a Rock and Roll Bride
Dirty Little Secret
No Barking... After 6

Have fun, one and all!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why are these movies on all the time??

Have you ever noticed how there are a few movies that are ALWAYS on television? I mean, whenever you flip through the channels, you are guaranteed to find at least one of these at all times? What is the deal? Are they cheaper to show? Do these basic cable channels have unlimited access to these particular films? Granted, I am not saying that they are bad, just that they are OVERDOING IT!! Seriously, this is verging on abuse...

1) The Fifth Element
2) Dirty Dancing
3) The Wedding Singer
4) She's All That
5) Grease (and Grease 2)
6) The Mummy
7) Some American Pie movie
8) One of the Godfather series
9) A John Grisham or Michael Crichton movie
10) Sleepless in Seattle

What is the deal? Have you noticed this??????

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Soul Teachers

Pondering souls that meet each other
Those that follow each other through lifetimes
Souls that reside on the great Tree of Life
And are meant to encounter again and again.

Mothers, fathers,
Friends, mentors,
Others that aim to reach us, to teach us
A lesson for the soul's evolution.

Higher and higher I climb
With the help of the partner souls.
Find me in this life -
Thus the learning can begin

I await you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

So, You Wanna Hear About My Date?? Teehee!

You guys are so great! It means so much to me that you wanna hear about my date :)

It was, in one word.....AWESOME!!

I seriously had no expectations going in. I mean, here I am, dating again after nearly five years. I have very little dating experience as an adult, so I figured, as you know, that it was good just to get out there. Time to start honing my dating skills (small talk, appropriately timed laughter, batting my eyelashes, the gift of my rapt attention...)!

Well, the date was so much easier than that! This guy, we will call him "Q," was such a gentleman. We went out for wine - coincidentally, he chose a place RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from my synagogue! He has all five boroughs of NYC at his disposal, and he chooses a place right by work... crazy! He is a therapist, a good listener, and has a fascinating history. It felt so comfortable talking to him - as if we had known each other longer than just an hour or two.

Well, we met up at 9:30 pm, and, before we knew it, it was nearly 1am. The time just flew by! We decided it was probably time to get going, so we walked a bit down the street. Ready for the romantic part? He asked if he could kiss me goodnight - wow! It was very sweet; nevertheless, it was admittedly strange kissing someone new after all this time of being with one guy. Do you know what I mean?

Other highlights:
- He said that I have pretty, warm eyes :)
- He was struck by how easy it was to talk to me (I felt the same way!)
- No one from the temple walked by - phew!
- I tried a new kind of wine from South Africa - yummy!
- He wants to see me again - woohoo!!
- He LOVED hearing about my work as a rabbi (that can really scare the guys off...)

Well, even if nothing were to come of this, it was still such a nice feeling. I felt attractive, desirable, and much more confident in myself. What a great leap back into the dating world!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Community Blogger Award - hooray!

Oh my goodness, I am so incredibly honored! Skittles was kind enough to think of me when giving out a Community Blogger Award. Thanks, Skittles!

This award was created by Sultana Blog. It is a Community Blogging Award designed to "celebrate people who reach out and makes the blogger community a better one."

It is my honor to send this award out to some of the blogs that, in my humble opinion, enhance the blogging community in their own special way. Please be sure to check out each of their blogs - they are informative, funny, moving, and always a joy to visit.

Ima on (and off) the Bima
Rambling Shan

Thanks again, Skittles, and congratulations to the next round of winners :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wish me luck!!!

Well, folks, you send a message out to the universe, and the universe answers! I have a date tonight! What are the chances??!? In the few days since I posted that I felt "ready" to begin dating again, I met someone online, and we are meeting up for drinks tonight. I don't expect much, considering how out of practice I feel; however, you never know!

I really appreciate all of the kind words of encouragement that you have sent me over the past few days. I will definitely try to be myself... I will be proud of who I am AND what I do... I will be relaxed (oy!), charming (please!), and smiley (teehee!). Wonder if we can fit in a little karaoke on the side :)

I look forward to updating you all later - wish me luck!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A ReAwakening?

Some of you know that I went through a pretty difficult breakup back in December 2006. We had been together for 4 years, and I really thought that "this was it." Turns out - he wasn't really able to handle my rabbi-ness, and I was continually apologizing for keeping him waiting all the time that I was at my job (how cruel of me to have my own life....).... So, the past few months have allowed me to heal, to rebuild my self-image, and to feel more and more proud of who I am. In this process, I have had no interest in dating anyone new.

Anywho, all the sudden, I have felt a change.

Suddenly, I feel ready to embark on the dating road. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it is exciting to be entertaining the idea of meeting someone new. Yeah, it's quite a scary proposition (oy, the perils of dating), but I am ready to go back out there. I think that I am THAT MUCH more sure of who I am (though self-awareness is always a work-in-progress), and thus, that much more ready to be myself WITH someone else.

Kinda cool, eh?

Any words of wisdom from all of my blog-friends?

(PS - the art above is by Jan Rae)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

I understand this painting....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Heads or Tails Tuesday - "Explore"

Well, friends, it is Heads or Tails Tuesday again - hooray! Heads Or Tails is a weekly meme done on Tuesdays. Anyone can play. In fact the more, the merrier! You can visit the Heads or Tails Home Page for more information on how you can join in!

Today's topic is: EXPLORE.....

For some reason, the word "explore" often reminds me of camp. In junior high and high school, I had the privilege of attending a wonderful overnight camp, Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, (or OSRUI, as we call it). OSRUI is a Reform Jewish overnight camp in Oconomowoc, WI, and I had the opportunity to go for three summers, culminating in a summer-long, intensive Hebrew program that was life-altering.

My summers there were, and still are, precious to me. They really helped further the formation of my identity. Before going to camp, I was stuck in a rut - I had 'skipped' first grade, and had a reputation for being both smart and different. It wasn't that I was nerdy, but I felt boxed in to this one image of who I was. Adjusting to the new social group had been quite challenging when I was so young, and it took a long time to break free from merely being known as "the one who skipped."

So, fast forward to the summer after sixth grade - for the first time, no one knew about my past, and I was able to be whomever I wanted. I EXPLORED many different identities that first summer. I even gave myself a new nickname, Maci (pronounced like the store), in order to EXPLORE what that felt like. Soon, I earned a reputation for being fun, wild, spontaneous, and flirty (I had THREE boyfriends in THREE weeks that year!!). What a difference! Luckily, I was able to bring some of that newfound confidence back home with me, and integrate it into my school life. I was never the same, and longed for the next opportunity to go back to camp. I returned the following summer, and then the summer before 10th grade.

For those of you who have attended overnight camp, you know how intense those friendships can be. I am still friends with a number of my camp friends, and I treasure those summers. Additionally, I credit OSRUI with being part of my inspiration to become a rabbi. Those summers instilled in me a deeper love for Judaism than I probably would have had with synagogue life alone. Perhaps I am a rabbi just so that I can recreate those camp experiences for others!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Curious as a Cat - a Monday Meme

Here is a Monday Meme from Curious as a Cat - it always asks interesting and provocative questions. I missed last week's, and it had a question that I really wanted to answer, so I am going to break with protocol and do last week's questions instead of this week's.

1) If you could have eased the death of one person, whose would it have been?

Oh, Todd, I wish I could have been there to help you. Todd was one of my best friends for nearly my entire life. We knew each other from elementary school on, and I always felt a deep love and affection for him. Even if we would lose touch over the years, any time we would reconnect, it would feel as if no time had passed. [His anniversary of death is coming up in a few weeks, and I will tell you more about him then]. To make a very long story short, he was found dead on the air force base he was stationed at in Korea. The military has never determined the cause of death - not even whether it was accidental or if foul play was involved. I just wish I could've been there to stop it all from happening... or even to be there with him so he didn't have to die alone.

2) What value do you consider most important when choosing a friend?

I've never really thought about this one in quite this way. What value? Probably involvement in what we call in Hebrew tikkun olam - a need to repair the broken world around us. I respect people who care about the world, who care about other human beings, and who want to make the world a better place by seeking to end suffering and injustice. ... that and a really big appreciation for potty humor :)

3) If the U.S. had to give up one state, which one would you pick? Why?

Um, well, I hope not to offend anyone.... But, I would probably pick Wyoming - I just don't know anything about it. So, purely selfishly, I would just get rid of it. Actually, it reminds me of an old television cartoon version of "Garfield," in which he jokingly explained that, "Wyoming translates to, 'No State Here.'"

4) When (at what age, or during what event) did you have the least self-confidence?

Following my car accident nearly three years ago, I developed pretty severe anxiety and panic. Thank goodness, over the years, it has gotten much better. However, my self-confidence drops and my self-consciousness rises the more anxious I get. Especially as I get close to a panic attack, I tend to get really unsure of myself. I am sure that it goes hand in hand with the feelings of anxiety and unsteadiness.

5) Show and Tell. What comes to mind first when you see this picture? Or, tell a story if it reminds you of one.
I get the warmest feeling when I look at this - as if we are all going to gather in front of the fireplace with warm apple cider and cookies. We will listen to stories about fantastic lands, incredible feats of bravery, and romantic tales of love conquering all. We hear the fire crackling, smell the cinnamon and cloves, cuddle together under blankets, and smile at each other. What a peaceful moment!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Karaoke Craziness!

Ahhhhh - I feel so satisfied. Last night, Lindsay (my sister) and I decided to try out a bar in our area that was offering karaoke. When we used to live in NYC, we would go all the time. However, since moving to New Jersey, we hadn't yet tried out any bars in our new neighborhood. A great "K.J." was there (Karaoke Jockey) from Evil John Karaoke. Thanks, John, for being so much fun, and letting us sing so much!

It took a while to get familiar with being up there, with moving my body, with performing in general. I hadn't been to karaoke in about six months - I used to go at least once a week while I was in graduate school! Because of my back pain, I rarely dance or move in any way other than walking. Though I am paying for it a little today, I am so glad that I danced and had fun last night.

I sang, "We Belong," by Pat Benatar; "Criminal," by Fiona Apple; "I Touch Myself," by the Divinyls (teehee!); and, "Out Tonight," from Rent.

Lindsay and I also did a duet: "I Know Him So Well," from Chess. She sang a bunch of songs, and we had such a good time. The bar wasn't too crowded, and there weren't that many people singing - hence the great number of songs that we were able to perform.

Hoooray for karaoke! I can't wait to go again!

So, what songs do you like to do/would you sing if you could? Even if you've never been to karaoke - what would be your first choice?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Movie Quotes Answers!

Wow, I am so impressed with all of you! It seems like a bunch of you knew all five answers. Kudos to Lindsay, Jessica and Sarene, who came in with the best scores, from what I can tell. However, you all get points for playing - thanks!

And the answers are...

"And in the morning? I'm making waffles!"

This one is from SHREK - a movie that never stops making me laugh :)

2) "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen."

Ah, SAY ANYTHING. What would Junior High and High School have been like if I hadn't always been on the lookout for my very own Lloyd Dobler? In fact, I think I am still looking...

3) "The Pit of Despair- don't even think of trying to escape."

Teehee - a quote from THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Another standard among my friends and me as we grew up. I probably quote this movie in some way at least once a day.

4) "I felt like destroying something beautiful."

A movie that totally blew my mind while in my early 20's - FIGHT CLUB. It had a raw quality, and a deep sorrow, that resonated with me at a particular time in my life. Never mind the fact that I have a huge crush on Edward Norton!

5) "Every time I try to talk to someone, it's always 'Sorry this' and 'Forgive me that' and 'I'm not worthy'..."

What would comedy be like without MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL? Another one that I quote often, this film gets funnier every time I watch it. Seeing SPAMALOT on Broadway just took the genius to a whole new level.

Well, thanks to all of you for playing. I hope this was fun for you. Should I do it again? Maybe once every other week or so? I might even vary the topic - movie quotes, song lyrics, television characters, showtunes... Ah, the possibilities are endless.