a day off

I had the day off today.  It was so lovely yesterday, Sunday, to know that I’d have today off.  No stress about finishing the laundry or getting ready for Monday morning.  I enjoyed Sunday all the way until the end.

I didn’t even have to think the thought.  It was just there, like the sun behind the clouds.  Except there was no sun.  An unexpected day off means a visit with Mom.  And my blissful evening turned dark and sad.  It’s so easy to forget the things I can’t bear to know.

That’s how the days go now.  play play play cry play play play cry.  Lots of playing until I fall and scratch my knee and she isn’t there to put on the bandaid.  I can put on my own bandaid, but sometimes I just don’t want to.

A half century does not mean I’m a grown-up.  It just means I’m a really old motherless child.

the list

This is today’s list:

  • take a shower
  • keep an eye on son’s temp
  • write
  • update blog
  • think about important stuff like what’s beyond pluto, the meaning of god, why prejudice exists, the middle east
  • write about important stuff

These are today’s accomplishments:

  • take shower
  • keep an eye on son’s temp

I keep trying to write but that leads me to laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, checking email, responding to emails that don’t require response.  It’s not a productive day.  And I’ve been reading such great stuff lately that makes me want to think about important things.  Check out the list of books on my bedside table.  “Finding God” is an amazing book about various Jewish intellectuals’ attempts to define who or what God might be.  Horrible title, though.  It’s off-topic and sounds like a self-help book title.

The phone rang.  Five minutes with a nice voice who was calling someone else.  When wrong numbers get in the way of my list, my day is doomed.  Best to just give in and get on with the stuff that’s not on my list that I’m going to do anyway. 

Tomorrow, when my son’s temp is normal and he goes back to school, I will write something important.

an easter bunny jew

I’m an easter bunny Jew. In my family we didn’t celebrate any of the Jewish holidays because Mom didn’t know what they were. We celebrated birthdays, christmas and easter. On christmas day Mom made chopped chicken livers and lox and cream cheese dip with tiny little bagels then we invited all of our friends over to visit. I realize now that a lot of our friends were Jewish too. On easter we looked for hidden chocolates and eggs that we’d decorated the day before.

We knew that we were Jewish because Mom told us that we were. Every so often she made latkes for dinner, just latkes, and I wonder now if that was at Hanukkah. I don’t remember if there was any consistency to the timing, I just remember loving that she had decided it was time. And we went to my grandmother’s house for Passover sometimes, but we didn’t know that it was Passover. I just couldn’t put butter on my meat. Mom never made spaghetti sauce, she made spaghetti gravy.  Jews make gravy. She made great noodle kugel. When one of us got sick, and sometimes even when we didn’t, she made the best chicken soup ever with carrots squashed with the back of a fork.

In our house we learned to talk about everything and argue about most things. We were allowed to have our own opinions especially if we’d thought enough about them to defend them. I remember asking my best friend one day, after she’d come home from catechism class, why she believed what was written in the bible. How did she even know who’d written the bible? I didn’t realize that was my torah study. Think and question. My best friend looked flustered and angry.

In second grade my sister asked me not to tell anyone that we were Jewish. It embarassed her. We didn’t know any Jews then. At least we didn’t know that we knew any Jews then. It wasn’t cool to be an “out” Jew. Now that I do know something about being a Jew I realize that we were very much Jews even then. We ate the food. We learned to question and wonder and debate. We just didn’t do the holidays or put a mezuzah on our doorpost.

The litmus test for me was always the Hitler question.  Would he have sent me to the gas chamber?  Then yes, I’m definitely a Jew. So I placed my fundamental knowledge of self in the hands of a psychopath.  Somehow I think that’s awfully Jewish. 

Mom never did Jewish stuff because her parents never did Jewish stuff. They were immigrants from Russia where it was dangerous in the late nineteenth century to do Jewish stuff. And my Dad didn’t do Jewish stuff because he grew up in a kosher household on a kosher dairy farm where he learned that being Jewish meant he couldn’t have a cheeseburger and he didn’t get any christmas presents.

I’m an easter bunny Jew who does the Jewish stuff.  We light shabbat candles, we eat a Passover seder, we sing the songs, we learn Hebrew.  We are part of a great Jewish community and a secular community where it is cool to be an “out” Jew. But I married a Catholic man, so I guess I’ll always be an easter bunny Jew.

partial full disclosure

I don’t tell anyone (until now), but sometimes I listen to a very conservative talk radio show.  I spend a lot of time alone in my car and probably should listen to classical music or NPR all the time.  I do listen to them, too.  And sometimes the more centrist talk radio.  And sometimes rock and roll.  But this one conservative show sucks me in like bad tv. People call in to ask the host for her solutions to their problems.  I won’t mention her name because I don’t want to give her any play.  But she believes that the “morals and ethics” she spouts are the only ones that exist.  She apparently doesn’t realize that morals and ethics are culture driven, not determined on a cellular level.  Occasionally I don’t disagree with her responses.  But only when the questions involve some aspect of personal relationships or raising children.  I don’t agree with her positions on almost everything.  So I yell a lot.

I have no sympathy for the schmucks who call in to ask her advice.  For heaven’s sake, if you have a real problem are you going to call someone on the radio and ask for help?  Especially someone who will likely yell at you and insult you?  But they do.  It’s like listening to a train wreck.  I like to listen to the caller explain his or her problem then guess at the tone the response will take.  I’m nearly always right.  But I have to be careful.  Sometimes, in my real life, I find myself wondering what her response might be to one of my dilemmas.  Then I try to justify taking the opposite course.  That’s when I realize that I’ve got to take a break.  I don’t want her voice influencing my life.  I know better.  It’s my life.

Now I just need to find some literary use for her verbal onslaughts.