life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, September 30, 2010

superstitions -- interesting

interesting article on superstitions

It always fascinates me how superstitions work, and why people believe.  This article explains the origins of thirteen superstitions.

though honestly, I never knew about the Jewish superstition to always keep something in the oven.  Guess you learn new things every day.

Don't Kiss a Mustachioed Man: The Origins of 13 Weird Superstitions


Monica Garske
(Sept. 23) -- We're surrounded by superstitions every day -- don't walk under a ladder, don't step on a crack, avoid black cats -- but where do these beliefs come from and why do we follow them?

More importantly, are superstitions the real deal or just real silly?

British author Harry Oliver has just released in the U.S. "Black Cats & Four-Leaf Clovers" (Perigee), a book that explores the origins of superstitions and old wives' tales from around the world.

Today, AOL News delves into 13 of Oliver's weirdest and wackiest superstitions and how they came to be ...

1. Don't Walk Under a Ladder: After researching this superstition for a year at the British Library in London, Oliver says the belief's most-cited origin points to "a ladder forming a triangle with the wall and the ground, suggesting the Holy Trinity." Apparently, walking through that triangle would show disrespect to the Trinity and therefore bring bad luck. Another possible (and much simpler) origin: Where there's a ladder, there's usually someone working on top and walking underneath could lead to all sorts of cartoonish accidents, like a hammer falling on someone's head.

2. Black Cats Bring Bad Luck: Oliver says black cats are notoriously linked to witchcraft, which is why some people think they're unlucky. However, there are two sides to this one. Allegedly, if a cat crosses your path it's considered unlucky, but if a cat walks toward you, it's a good omen. Should the first scenario happen, though, Oliver says the "only way to avert the back luck is to spit."

3. Never Light Three Cigarettes With the Same Match: This superstition originated in military circles and dates back to those long nights in the trenches during World War I. "If three soldiers smoked at once, enemy snipers would easily detect them," says Oliver. "If they used the same match to light all three cigarettes, snipers would notice the match burning after the first one and would have enough time to load guns, aim and fire at the unlucky third smoker."
Superstition researcher Harry Oliver, black cat, silly superstitions, unlucky, bushel of carrots

 4. Carrots Are Good for Your Eyesight: Though some studies have shown that the vitamin A in carrots is good for the eyes, the vegetable alone isn't enough to spark 20/20 vision. Oliver says this old wives' tale -- or smart attempt by parents to get their children to eat their veggies -- originated as a myth during World War II. "That's when British pilots where rumored to be eating enormous amounts of carrots to see from high altitudes and in the dark. The rumor was widely spread to throw the public off from the fact that radar

5. Cross Your Fingers: If you look hard enough, you can see this superstition has religious roots. Oliver says that crossing your fingers is a type of holy protection because the two overlapping fingers form a "slanted cross." This "good luck" ritual varies around the globe -- in Switzerland, people fold their thumbs in and wrap their other fingers around them instead of the standard index-and-middle-finger combination.

6. Don't Open an Umbrella in The House: The origins of this belief are simple -- what's designed for the outdoors should remain outside. While today's version of the old umbrella superstition is said to simply bring "bad luck," Oliver says there used to be a much darker cloud hanging over the belief in ancient times. "In earlier versions, opening an umbrella inside was an omen of death," he explains.

7. Always Have Something in the Oven: This old Jewish superstition could be considered "family friendly." Supposedly, leaving an oven empty will cause one's family to go hungry in the future. To avoid famine, it's enough to leave a baking sheet or a pan in the oven at all times as a precaution. "This belief is linked to ancient rituals in which food was left for household gods in order to ensure protection of the family," Oliver explains.

8. Wear Underwear Inside Out: When having a bad day, superstition suggests that turning your underwear inside out can make it all better. Oliver isn't quite sure where this odd belief came from, but we wouldn't be surprised if originated on a wild college campus somewhere, perhaps during a post-party "walk of shame."
had been invented and was being used against the enemy," he says.


9. Kiss a Mustachioed Man, End Up a Spinster: There are more superstitions revolving around marriage than we can count, and that includes "kissing a dark-skinned man at a wedding." If a woman does this, she'll supposedly get a marriage proposal shortly thereafter. But watch who you're smooching, ladies. If a woman kisses a man with a mustache and finds a stray hair on her lip after, she's destined to be a spinster.

Superstition researcher Harry Oliver, black cat, silly superstitions, unlucky, bushel of carrots
Some say carrots are good for your eyesight. Is this true, or just a sly way to get kids to eat their vegetables?

10. Don't Praise Babies in China: If you're in China and you come across an adorable newborn baby, do not under any circumstances compliment the little one. In China, it's considered "unlucky" to praise babies because it "attracts the attention of ghosts and demons." Instead, Oliver says it's customary to "talk badly about babies" to keep evil entities away. Rather than getting upset, parents are told to convert those insults into praise quietly in their heads.

11. Don't Chew Gum at Night in Turkey: Even if your breath stinks, popping in a stick of gum after dinner in Turkey is a bad idea. "It's thought that if you're chewing gum at night in Turkey, you're actually chewing the flesh of the dead," says Oliver. Gross.

12. Lucky Four-Leaf Clovers: Because of how scarce four-leaf clovers really are, just finding one in a field is lucky in and of itself. Oliver says the rare leaf represents everything one could possibly desire in life: "wealth, fame, love and health."

Unlucky 13. The number 13 -- and Friday the 13th -- are considered unfortunate in many places, and the reasons go back to the Bible. Remember, Jesus had 13 disciples until one of them -- Judas -- betrayed him.

Although some superstitions have ancient roots, skeptic Joe Nickell thinks it's all a bunch of baloney.

Nickell, senior researcher at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y., says superstitions aren't the least bit grounded in scientific evidence, so therefore, they can't be taken seriously.

"Superstitions work backwards from the way science works. People start out with a belief and then look for any little bit of evidence that may support it. In science, we start with evidence first and then draw a belief," he explains.

Because superstitious folks "select" their own evidence -- like when you see a black cat and then choose to harp on the worst part of your day -- Nickell believes superstitions are nothing but "a perversion of evidence."In all his time as a skeptic, he's never once found a superstition grounded in "cause and effect" -- nothing that proves that certain actions cause "good" or "bad" luck.

And boy, has he tried.

From time to time, Nickell and his staff at the Center for Inquiry hold "Superstition Bashes" on Friday the 13th where they test out every common superstition to prove or disprove them.

They run through a "Superstition Obstacle Course" where they walk under ladders, open an umbrella indoors and even break a mirror into tiny pieces.

"We've never found any correlation between those events and alleged 'bad' luck afterward," Nickell says. "Superstitions are bad thinking. There's nothing rational about them, no matter where they come from. They're just a belief for which no scientific proof exists."


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nothing is ever forgotten

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

With two kids in college I've become somewhat fluent in the language of financial aid -- FAFSA, Pell Grant, Stafford loan, PLUS loan, scholarship.....

I was browsing the federal government website, I needed to make a payment on my Parent PLUS loan, when I opened the link to my "account history" and disocvered....

the government never forgets.

There, in detail, were all of the student loans I'd taken out "back in the day" to finance my own education. 

In those days we called them "Guaranteed Student Loans."  I borrowed money for each of the three years I was an undergraduate, and for each year I was in law school.  the maximum you could borrow for undergraduate education was $2,500 per year, and $5,000 per year for grad school, so my total amount borrowed was $22,500.   

That covered a good deal of my tuition, room, board and expenses.  took me 10 years to pay it all back, and worth every penny....

the sad part is, that huge amount of money I borrowed as a student won't even pay for a single year at most colleges in this country today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

So, OK, I watched the premier last week.  good to see Bob and Jillian again.  they started with an anti-obesity message. It's individuals this time around, not couples or friends or relatives.   the show staff  went to 7 different cities and in each city there were 3 people competing for 2 spots on the ranch.  Really couldn't get into who's who just yet.  but it's an interesting mix of characters.

I'm thinking it's time to go back to Weight Watchers.  I'm feeling gross and disgusting.  And the next WW at Work cycle begins today.  Wish me luck.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monster Golf

So a group of us went to play Monster Golf.

It's very much like any other game of miniature golf, except it's done indoors.   The course is laid out on a black carpet.  Everything is painted with fluorescent paint and the room is lit by black lights.The theme, of course, is "monsters".

You enter through the cemetery gates:




This box actually moves:


And try hitting the ball when this beast is roaring at you:


Jimmy Buffett's worst nightmare:


And the scariest hole, the 18th:



Sunday, September 26, 2010

block party?

Your thoughts?

I like to hang out with friends as much as anyone, but I'm not wild about block parties.

There have been several such parties in Drew's neighborhood this summer, including one last night.  They block off a portion of the street for the party, play their music  very loud, and create a parking nightmare for all the surrounding blocks. 

I usually park my car in front of Drew's house when I'm there.  That is, unless there's a block party and someone took "my" spot.  (I'd love to park on his driveway -- there's room for two cars, but one of his house mates has a non-working vehicle semi-permannetly located on the driveway.)

I wonder if any of these parties had a permit?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

weekend plans?

I occurs to me that I don't have anything definitive planned for this weekend, or the next, or the next....

Drew mentioned that he wants to try Monster Golf.  Apparently that's mini golf played indoors and in the dark.  reminds me of the moonlight bowling events we did back in the 80's.  We've got friends who are interested, so we're going to try to set something up....

but we don't have theater tickets or concert tickets or party plans or anything....that used to be my norm, when my kids were younger and I was car pool mom extrordinaire.  But that hasn't been the norm lately....gotta start planning!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Denim Day!

The last Friday of every month is Denim Day at our office. Employees are permitted to wear jeans to work that day -- usually we're business casual -- if they donate to whatever charity the company is sponsoring that day. We've donated to the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the Boys and Girls clubs of America....It's an easy way to raise money for worthy causes.

So if you see me in my jeans today, I'm not playing hooky, I'm doing my part.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Fiddler on the Roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of ....

If I close my eyes I can hear Zero Mostel as Tevye, reciting the opening monologue of Fiddler on the Roof.

Anyone who grew up Jewish in the 1960's knew all the words to all the songs of (as Harvey Fierstein calls it) "the sacred Fiddler." It opened September 22, 1964 and ran for over 3,000 performances.

I was fortunate to see the original production on Broadway, at the tail end of its run, in 1972.  I was 12 years old, and it was the first live musical I ever saw.  I went with my grandmother, who'd grown up in a shtetl and who once had dreams of being an actress in the Yiddish theater. 

I've seen the movie, of course.  I own it on DVD, and I've got the soundtrack as well as cast albums from several productions in my CD collection.

I was delighted to take my children to see the revival a few years ago, where Alfred Molia played Tevye.  (Becca walked out of the theater saying "I'm proud to be Jewish" -- mission accomplished!) Would have liked to have gone back when Harvey took over the role...but alas....

Still, when I listen to the music in my's Mostel's voice I, for your listening pleasure, I present Zero Mostel singing "If I Were a Rich Man" -- performed at a long-ago tony Awards ceremony, but still...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

college update

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

"'s late September and I really should be back at school...." (five points to the person who recognizes that lyric)

Well, it's that time of year again -- the time of year when every conversation with one of my daughters must always include the question "Mom, can you put money in my bank account?"  Yep, the National Bank of Mom is once again open for business.

Jen has settled into the school year very nicely.  but that's to be expected, it's her junior year, and much of her school routine is old and familiar.  Her new adventure this year is living off campus and finally having a room of her own, one without a sister or roommate.  Of course, that means she has to cook for herslef (no more dining hall) and she has to leave herself time to get to class (no more rolling out of bed and into a classroom, it's a 20-minute drive to school).    She's completed most of her required core courses, though she is taking her lab science class this semester, and most of her program consists of  courses in her major and electives.

Becca has taken to college life like a fish to water.   She loves everything about it!  Her on-campus housing is not a traditional dorm; rather, the housing is set up as apartments complete with full kitchen.  Freshmen are required to be on a meal plan, but the food in the cafeteria is less than wonderful, so she's learning to shop for and feed herself -- though she did have to call home to leanr how to make a cup of tea when she didn't have access to a microwave.  she loves her classes, and has already told me how much she appreciates some of her high school AP teachers -- she feels they did an excellent job of preparing her for college.    And I love to hear her talk about the city -- in a matter of three weeks she sounds like she's been living in the city her whole life.  She oh-so-nonchalantly describes taking the subway to visit her best friend at another university, or how she and a few freidns went to Lincoln Center and sat outside the opera house listening to Carmen and eating gelato, or how they walked around the Village or went out for sushi....

I finally got to hear all the details about the room mate who moved out....I thought it was the girl from Florida, but it turns out, the girl who moved out is from New Jersey.  Apparently the young lady really didn't want to live on campus and her parents pushed her.  She started crying and carrying on about being homesick the day she moved into the apartment, almost from the moment her parents left.  She was gone within two days, having converted her status from "resident" to "commuter", and she'll be travelling to school from New Jersey every day.

I feel bad for the girl, of course....but Becca was in a "forced triple" bedroom (a room designed for two but with a third girl squeezed in), and now she's in a double.  I can't feel bad about that.  Guess it's all part of the college experience.

but my girls are doing well, enjoying their busy lives as college students.

and I'm getting used to the quiet in the house.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No electricity

A recent NaBloPoMo prompt asked the writer to imagine what they'd do if their electricity was out for a week.

I don't have to imagine.

It happened in January 1978.  I was a senior in high school.  One of my sisters was also in high school and the other two were in elementary school.

We had a horrific ice storm, it knocked out power to our entire neighborhood.  No lights, no heat, no hot water.  And worse yet, unlike our neighbors, no fireplace.  A tree came through the roof of the den, taking part of the chimney with it, and blocking access to the fireplace.  (My mother always wanted a skylight in the den, and the tree obliged by coming through the roof  -- right where we'd put the skylight.)

My youngest sisters were parked at a friend's house, one where they didn't lose electricity.  the rest of us, along with the cat and the dog, stayed in the house.

Well, we spent a good deal of the daytime at the mall and eating at the diner.And visiting friends.

But at night we slept in the house.  In all our clothes. and our jackets.  The dog, he was a smart one, he'd curl up under somone's blanket.

The cat...she wasn't so cuddly...she'd run as far and as fast as she could to keep herself warm...then wind up under someone's blanket.

If it ever happens again...well, in the summer I guess we could manage, but not in the winter.  Find me a hotel, I can't do that again.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

My page for this year's event:

how is your eyeshadow compact made?

Thinking about yesterday's blog post...and my summer job at the cosmetics company.

30 years later, I still remember all the details about my least-favorite job.

How to asemble an eye shadow compact.

The compacts were made by an outside company, we'd get the plastic shells with our company's logo and we'd have to put al the pieces together.  We'd have to glue in the mirror and the little tins of shadow and add the applicator brush, cover the shadow with a thin piece of clear plastic, add a sheet of foam to keep the mirrow from scratching and then add the label on the bottom.

the compact would be wrapped in a liner and placed in a box (this was a department-store cosmetic, not one you can buy in a drugstore).  the box would be labellled.  several boxes would be placed in a larger box, and the larger boxes would be removed from the assembly line and placed in cartons on a pallet.

the worst job on this line was cleaning the extra dust out of the compact.  the person who did that job had to wear an apron and goggles, and use a device that blasted the compact with air.  even with protective gear, the person doing this job usually wound up covered in eye shadow.

and everything had to be perfect.  this company didn't sell its "seconds" to flea markets, if the product was usable it might be sold to employees during a warehouse sale, but it would never reach consumers in the open market if it wasn't  perfect.

I remember one time, they had a group of us come in on a Saturday morning (time and a half!) to examine defective blush brushes.  there was a minor defect in the brush, they'd be useable but weren't up to company standards.  we had to examine each and every brush to prove they were all defective.

another time, they had a group of us examine perfume bottles for defective atomizers.  if the atomizer was broken, we simply threw the entire bottle of perfume into the dumpster -- in a warehouse without airconditioning, in the middle of July.  I still can't wear that scent!

but those warehouse, what we could get, for a fraction of the price it sold for in the store....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NaBlPoMo prompt: What was the worst job you ever had?

For me, it had to have been the summer I worked for a well-known cosmetics manufacturer.

It wasn't a terrible job -- it had its pluses and minuses -- but it was a job that opened my eyes to the real world.

My previous summer jobs had been just that -- jobs that were available only in the summer, where all of the employees were students planning to head back to school in the fall.   I'd worked in the playground program at a local park, and I'd worked as a general laborer at the beach.  the job at the cosmetics company was attractive because: (1) it paid better than the beach job; (2) the plant was open Monday - Friday, the beach job required me to work on weekends; and (3) "general laborer" at the beach meant I had to pick up garbage and clean restrooms (yuck!) -- though I would miss swimming in the ocean on my lunch break.  And working for the company gave me an opportunity to buy their products at a tremendous discount, not to mention the freebies they'd occasionally hand out to all the employees.

Now for the negatives:  (1) I was assigned to the packing warehouse, which was not air conditioned; (2) working an assembly line -- think Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory; and (3) it could be a dirty job -- some days we were breathing powdered blush or eye shadow, some days the air reeked of perfume (there are still some scents I can't wear) -- though I much prefer stale perfume to overripe garbage.

Now, for the eye openers.

The company hired a lot of college students every summer to help with the fall line and the Christmas line, but there were also a lot of people at that plant who worked there year-round.  It was the first time I had a job where my coworkers weren't fellow students. It's good, honest work, and I am sure some of those women made A LOT of money pasting labels onto lipstick tubes.  But their lives were so different from what I wanted, their interests so different from mine.  It made me appreciate the opportunities I had as a college student, and a few months later, when I had a "crisis" and thought about leaving school, the memory of the assembly line gave me motivation to stay where I was.

And the worst day of the job.....was the day of the accident.

As industrial accidents go, it wasn't the worst.  but for those of us who were in the room it was scary and horrible.  I didn't see the accident happen, but I was close enough to see the aftermath....

It was towards the end of the summer, and we were working on the Christmas gift kits.  Each assembly line consisted of a long table with a conveyor belt -- one person would put the product on the belt, and each worker down the line would grab product off the belt, do their task (such as labelling the product, putting it in a box, labelling the box., etc.) and return the product to the belt.  At the end of the belt, the last person is supposed to collect the finished product and place it in a carton.the cartons would be removed as they were filled and placed on pallets for shipment.

Someone decided we needed two lines working on the same product.  The two tables were placed end-to-end, with one belt moving east to west and the other west to east, so that the process would start at each end and finished product would end up in the middle, where the lines met.  When you attach two tables together line that, there's a small gap between the belts, and this is supposed to be covered by a metal guard to keep things from falling into the gap.  On the day of the accident, the metal guard was not in place -- though they did install it afterwards. 

Well, as I said, it was the end of the summer, and a lot of the students had already left for school.  So our line supervisor decided that, to speed up the line and meet her quota,  she would be the one to remove product from the belt and place it into the cartons. 

You can probably guess what happened.  She was trying to do two jobs at once -- supervising the line and retrieving product from the conveyor belt.  One moment of inattention, and her hand slipped between the two tables and was crushed.    They had to shut down the line and disconnect the tables to extricate her.  right after we went back to work, we had to stop production again for a short time when someone noticed a few spots of blood on the conveyor belt.

When I saw the supervisor  in the  ladies room a short time later, her hand had swollen to 4 times its normal size. 
And the reason I was in the ladies room?

I was dealing with a "friend", a nursing student drama queen who told me she was going to faint after she saw the bloodstains on the belt.  I took the girl  into the ladies room to put some water on her face, not knowing that the injured woman was in there icing her hand.

It was 30 years ago....but sometimes I still wonder about that woman.  How bad was the injury?  Did it ever heal?  She wouldn't have been able to work with that injury.  At the time of the accident I didn't know about disability insurance and worker's compensation benefits and the potential law suit she might have brought, so I was worried about how she would feed her family.

as industrial accidents go, it wasn't horrific....but still....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur

Kol Nidre ... sung by the cantor on Yom Kippur eve, a prayer sung for hundreds of years, simple Aramaic words and a melody ... recorded by Perry Como and Johnny Mathis ...sung to perfection by Al Jolson inthe very first talking picture "The Jazz Singer" (and no, Neil Diamond's remake didn't do it justice)...

A song to touch the Jewish heart and the Jewish soul...

Friday, September 17, 2010

NaBloPoMo prompt: Who's your favorite writer, and what work of theirs would you recommend we read first?

I have many favorite authors.  I like classical literature and popular novels.

Today I will talk about Nelson DeMille.

I've read every novel he's ever written under his own name.

My favorite book is By The Rivers of Babylon. 

It's a bit dated, but it's a great book.  I love the whole Biblical link. 

for a new reader, though, I'd start with Plum Island.  

It's the first of the John Corey novels, you get to meet all of the characters that make up John Corey's world.  Back then, Corey had weaknesses that you don't see in the more recent novels.  I love Corey's sarcasm and his distain for fussy bureaucrats.  I love the mystery, the action sequences, the excitement of the story line.  And I love how DeMille works in real details of Long Island and New York City into John Corey's world.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

OMG what an evening

and not in a good way.

I work in Jersey City, right on the banks of the Hudson, right where the Hudson meets New York Harbor.  I left my office at 5...the sky was overcast and the wind was picking up. 

It takes about 10 minutes to travel from Jersey City to the World Trade Center via the PATH train, and then there's one short block down Vesey Street to get to the E train -- the NYC subway.  By the time I got to the Trade Center, the sky had grown very dark, I could see lightning and there was a lot of thunder.  I was grateful that it wasn't raining yet, knew the rain would come soon, and hoped the rain would hold off until I was safely in the subway station.  felt the first drop of rain just as I was walking down the stairs....

Here's the story from the NY Daily News:

got on the subway, got a seat,  and got to Penn Station without a problem.  Hello Long Island Rail road...Got onto the 5:53 train, got a seat, took out the iTouch and the nook, and settled in for the ride home....

and the train went NOWHERE!!!!

The conductor announced that there was a fallen tree on the tracks at Woodside and that he didn't know when we'd be leaving Penn.

Half an hour later the train was cancelled.

by now Penn Station was so overcrowded -- the police not having implemented their crowd control procedures until the place was wall-to wall people.  there was no LIRR service in or out of Penn, or through Brooklyn, or ANYWHERE west of Jamaica Station.  The railroad recommended taking the E train to Jamaica, but it was impossible to even get near the entrance to the subway....had I known what was going to happen, I would have stayed  on the E train in the first place, but...

while I was trying to figure out what to do, a woman approached me....she recognized me from the railroad, knew we road the same train and got off at the same station.  she didn't have a clue how to get home...I took her with me.  we walked over to 6th avenue -- by now it was 6:30 and the storm was over.  we took the F train to Queens, changed to an E in Forest Hills, and arrived in Jamaica around 8 PM.   

we were so lucky!   there was a train in Jamaica station headed for our station, albeit the train  was as crowded as a sardine can -- at least there was no fear of falling, there wasn't room for anyone to fall down!

on a normal night I should have been back at our station by 7:00, didn't get there until 9 -- and it was raining.

and I had to stop and pick up dinner for myself, so I didn't get home until after 9:30.


but the subway turned out to be the better choice -- service was not restored to Penn until after 11:00.

Art --- favorite works

Though the painting that hangs in my room is a Van Gogh, I think one of my favorite painters is actually Chagall:

I guess it's because Chagall and I share common heritage  -- he was Jewish, from Russia, as were my grandparents --  and his paintings speak to my roots.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Day of Remembrance

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed.

The High Holy Days are a period of introspection, of reflection and remembrance. Our tradition teaches that the Almighty writes each person's name in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and their fate is sealed on Yom Kippur. Who shall live and who shall die?

One ceremony is called Tashlikh. We go to a body of water -- the sea, a river, a pond -- and cast bread upon the waters, symbolically casting our sins away. My synagogue is fortunate, our building is across the street from a small pond, so we always gather on the first day of Rosh Hashonah to perform this ceremony.

My Aunt Bernice, who died last spring, loved to go with me to Tashlikh. So my thought this year was to have her in mind while performing the ritual, to think about her while reciting the prayers.

Instead, I found myself looking at my neighbors' children, the kids who were laughing and giggling as they stood by the water and waited for the prayers to end so that they could throw their bread into the water. And found myself missing my own children.

Not the grown up college students who were too busy with their own lives to be home for the holidays -- albeit Jen left for school a mere two days before Rosh Hashanah and Becca actually made it home for dinner last Wednesday, though she had to head back to her dorm that very same night.

No, I found myself missing their younger selves, the giggly girls who stood at the edge of that pond with their friends from Hebrew school, contemplating their "sins", the girls who'd spent most of the morning socializing with their classmates in the synagogue lobby while trying to avoid junior congregation, the girls who ... well, my twosome were cuties way back when.

I can't mourn the loss of those young girls, my daughters have grown into wonderful young women and I am so proud of everything they have become. Still, there are times when I miss my "children".

But some day, G-d willing, I can take my grandchildren to giggle at the edge of the pond.

And as for my aunt?

It occurs to me that last year I promised to take her to synagogue on Yom Kippur.

And so I shall. When we read the prayers memorializing our deceased loved ones, she will be in my heart.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

do you wear a "uniform"?

not a real uniform, like a police officer or a flight attendant or a mail carrier or the guy who sells you a Happy Meal.

not a quasi-uniform, like a medical professional in scrubs.

but some sort of "uniform" you've created for yourself, that you wear every day.

for years, when I had to wear "business attire" instead of "business casual", I usually wore a skirt suit, but I tried not to wear the same style of suit every day, I'd wear a dress every now and then, and even ventured into pants suits when I didn't have to make a court appearance. I didn't want to look like I was wearing a uniform, I wanted to have a sense of style.

there's a woman who works in my office building, I see her on the train periodically as well. Her "uniform" is an outfit she's put together. she has the same outfit in black, navy, brown, gray and dark green. it consists of a long skirt that ends just above her ankles, a matching jacket, white blouse and an oversized beret that completely covers her hair. black ballet flats most of the time, never a shoe with a heel. one day I saw her wear a slight variation -- instead of the skirt and jacket, she was wearing a short-sleeved black dress over a long-sleeved white blouse (I guess in deference to the summer heat). I suspect there is a religious significance to this outfit, sort of like how the Chasidic men all wear long black coats and wide brimmed hats.

there's another woman I see frequently, when I am in Penn Station catching my train home. hers is obviously a self-made "uniform". one of the plus-sized catalogues sells these great mix and match cotton knit pants and tee shirts, you can buy them in every color under the sun. and apparently she did. thing is, she never "mixes" only "matches", so that one day you may see her in a red tee and red pants, the next day in a lavendar tee and lavendar pants. and so on. and I've never seen her wear anything other than these cotton separates. I own some of the same pieces, they're cozy and comfortable and easy to take care of....but to wear them every day?

these days my choice is usually pants and a shirt or blouse, but again, I try to mix things up so that I don't look like I'm wearing a "uniform". still, I can't help but wonder if a "uniform" wouldn't be easier.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mom, how do I make a cup of tea?

Not as silly a question as it may sound.

seems becca's roommate -- the one who went home -- is the girl who brought the microwave.

Becca always used the microwave to boil water for her tea at home. didn't have a clue how to do it on the stove, like we did in the stone age.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

interesting speaker at our synagogue

Rabbi David Nesenoff gave a talk at our synagogue on September 4.

You may remember him as the rabbi to whom Helen Thomas gave the infamous intervidew.

He was charming, erudite and very very vocal in his opinion that the people of Israel and the land of Israel and eternally linked.  He spoke about the Thoams interview, his shock at what she had to say and the repercussions he's experienced because he posted the video and it went  viral.  He got over 25,000 pieces of hate mail, some of which he's posted on his website.

Amazing and terribly sad that such a thing could happen here in America.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 again

it's been nine years since that horrific day.

Ground Zero is now a construction site, the new One World Trade Center a half-finished shell.

subway and PATH train riders have to endure all that goes along with a massive construction project.

and the tourist still come, of course.

and the protesters. are you in favor of the Islamic community center or do you oppose the Ground Zero mosque?

business as usual in NYC, I suppose.

nine years ago today, who would have thought we'd be able to say "business as usual" in NYC?

Friday, September 10, 2010

NaBloPoMo -theme -- art

So, what was the greatest work of art you ever created?

I could say "my children", of course, but let's keep it to more conventional art projects.

I am a muralist.

Or, I was.

At age 5.

There was a huge white wall in our den.  My parents hand't hung any pictures on it, nor had they placed any furniture against it.

It was just....there.

And to two little girls, aged 5 and 4 (my sister), it looked like a blank canvas.

So we drew on it.

An entire city.

We covered every portion of the wall we could reach.

Needless to say, my mother was underwhelmed by our artistic endeavors.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

movie review

Loved The Switch.

nice little romantic comedy.  I thought there was great chemistry between Jason Batemean and Jennifer Aniston.  it's not laugh-out-loud funny, but there are many humerous moments.cute and quirly movie.  the best scene was when he had the magazine with Diane Sawyer's picture on the cover....and that it's set in NYC always helps....defninitely worth seeing.

On the other hand, Eat, Pray, Love was boring.  I like Julia Roberts, but the storyline....the movie takes her from New York to Italy, India and Bali.  Liked the New York portion, loved Italy but started to fall asleep in India and didn't really the last part of the movie.I won't be looking for this one on HBO.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shanah Tova!

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

 It's going to be a weird holiday.

As a divorced parent I am used to split holidays,  my children periodically absent from my family table.

But this is different.   This isn't about custody and visitation and all that goes with it.

First, let's talk about Becca.

She's living in a dorm now, and she's a freshman, so she feels she can't miss class.  She'll be home for Rosh HaShanah dinner -- she can either come home by train, and she can catch a ride back to the dorm with my sister who lives in Queens.    So she won't be sleeping in her own bed, she'll be leaving at the end of the evening.  I can live with that, I suppose.

But Jen....well, in previous years she'd come home for the holiday, make arrangements with her professors to make up the work she'd miss in order to celebrate the holiday.

But today is the very first day of classes at her school.  "Mom, I can't miss the first week of classes, I'll never catch up!"

So she's not coming home.


My baby is grown up and on her own.

My best wishes for a sweet and happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NaBloPoMo prompt: What was your most memorable car ride as a kid? As an adult?

Did the prompt suggest short rides, like the ride from my house to the place where my wedding was held?  Or did it suggest longer rides, like road trips.

I remember, when I was a little girl, the drive from my parents' house on Long Island to my grandmother's apartment in Queens.  There was a place in Queens, right off the Long Island Expressway....well, the 1964-1965 Word's Fair had very unusual street lights throughout the park, and when the Fair was over, a number of the light poles -- with their distinctive orange and blue lights -- wound up in a lot on the service road to the expressway.  We rarely drove past Flushing Meadow Park (where the Unisphere and a few other remnants of the Fair still stand), so those lights were like a last reminder of the good times we'd had at the Fair.

My grandmother used to rent a bungalow in the Catskill Mountains every summer.  When we'd drive up there to visit, we'd always stop at the Red Apple Rest Stop.  And before we got to the Tappan Zee Bridge, we'd see an old mansion in tarrytown that looks like a castle, and my Aunt Eileen would tell us "that's where cinderella lives."

The road trip to Virginia when I was 14.  My parents, my sisters and I were planning a vacation in Colonial Williamsburg.  Almost didn't get there, because we had a flat tire in Cherry Hill, NJ.  And I got a lesson in de facto segregation at a rest stop in maryland -- who would have thought it, in 1974?

And the trip to the Rennaisance Faire that wasn't.  Labor Day -- probably 1985 or 1986.  there were four of us in the car -- me, Drew, his buddy Marc and Marc's then-girlfriend.  In those days cars came with two keys, one for the ignition and a separate key for the trunk lock.  We had a cooler full of food -- planned to picnic at the Faire -- but somehow Drew managed to leave the trunk key inside the trunk when he locked it.  And later that day, the car broke down in Elmsford, NY -- halfway to the Faire -- and we were stranded.  On Labor Day.  did manage to find a diner, and Drew's parents drove their station wagon up to elmsford to rescue us.  to this day, we don't say the name of that town out loud without shuddering...

Monday, September 6, 2010

famous last words

"Don't worry Mom ... you and daddy don't have to help me move into my house ...I'll just put everything in my car and go there myself. You don't have to drive back and forth to Rhode Island on Labor. Day. "

So guess where we were today?

At least we got to meet housemates and their parents.

Thank goodness for Drew's van.

classic literature

I'm actually reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking Glass.  We've all seent eh classic disney movie, we've all seen Johnny Depp take on the role of the Mad Hatter, we've all see references to the White Rabbit and the Red Queen and the White Queen....but how many people have actually read the Lewis Carroll novels?

The original work is amazing....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

I've got my materials for this year's walk.

Didn't go last year due to bad weather, and other issues. 

Went a few times when Jen was a cheerleader -- her whole team walked.  and I took Becca a few times when she needed credit for Key Club.

guess I have to go register on line and set up my donations page....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

OMG, what a concert! What a great venue!

You will all recall how I went to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Madison Square Garden last November.  OMG, Jimmy turned the Garden into a huge beach party! 

Well, imagine my joy when Jimmy announced a concert at the Jones Beach theater.  (He plays there every year, but since I've only recently become a Parrothead I was a bit oblivious...)

the Jones Beach Theater is in the middle of Jones Beach State Park.  The park itself is on a barrier beach island, separated from the Long Island "mainland".  The outdoor theater is located on Zack's Bay -- literally.  The platform for the stage sits in the water of the bay, and the audience gets to see water on either side of the stage.  As Wiki explains, [t]he original design of the theater had a "moat" — the stage was actually on Zack's Bay and separated from the beach, and performers could be brought to the stage by boat (some scenes had floating scenery). The moat was covered or filled in during the first renovation and seats closer to the stage were installed.

In fact, as my friend Suzanne can tell you, boats can actually park themselves near the theater and listen to the concerts. 

So a Jimmy Buffett concert, with its stories of pirates and sailors, oceans and stars, is a perfect match for the venue. 

The August 31 concert lived up to expectations.  Jimmy called the evening a "hurricane party" as Long island braced for Hurricane Earl.

Yes, I am a Parrothead -- I wore my "tropical shirt" -- the turquiose tee decorated with hibiscus flowers, the one I wore in the Cayman islands last winter, as well as shell leis and sandals decorated with seashells.  Not to mention, a (silk)  hibiscus flower in my hair.

When we arrived at Jones Beach, the parking lot closest to the theater was already full, and we had to park in field 4, next to the beach.   but that's to be expected -- not only was the concert sold out, but with temperatures in the 90's, the beach crowd wasn't in a hurry to leave. We walked through the parking lot past Parrotheads tailgating -- don't ask me why they did that, when there's an actual beach to party on just a few steps away -- but it was fun to see the pirate flags and the cars decked on in land shark gear....

The way Jones Beach is set up, there's a huge area behind the grandstand where you find the food court and the t-shirt shops, etc.  This is also a good place to get "freebies" -- we both got backpacks from GEICO, and Drew got a tote bag from Nikon, and there was a band doing a preshow and giving out plastic sunglasses. And did I mention the Colgate Wisps?  We have enough of those to last a month.

We ate our "cheeseburgers in paradise", Drew bought a shirt, and then we headed up to our seats  -- up in nosebleed country.  Seriously, our seats were in row Q of the balcony.  couldn't see the damage done by the guy who jumped from teh balcony during intermission of the Phish concert -- they did an excellent job of repairing the seats. 

And then the party began.  Usually Jimmy has an intermission halfway through the show, but this time around he played straight through.  (Maybe it had something to do with the Phish concert, but who knows?)

After the concert, as we walked back to the car, we got free bottles of coconut water (I've never tried it before, I wonder what it will be like.)  We drove back to my house along Ocean Parkway, past Tobay Beach, Gilgo, Oak Beach (the home of the late, lamented former hotspot, the infamous OBI...)  It was great riding along the ocean with the car windows down....

Here's the playlist for the concert:

Ilo Ferreira opening

Can’t Call My Name

Let Me Love You

Three Little Birds

Hot Hot Hot

1 Nobody From Nowhere

2 Piece Of Work (with Sonny Landreth)

3 Cuban Crime Of Passion

4 It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

5 Knees Of My Heart

6 School Boy Heart

7 Window On The World (with Sonny Landreth)

8 Volcano

9 Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

10 Where The Boat Leaves From

11 One Particular Harbour

12 Surfing in a Hurricane

13 Brown Eyed Girl

14 Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit (Jimmy on acoustic guitar)

15 Growing Older But Not Up (Jimmy on acoustic guitar)

16 Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw (with kids version)

17 Mexico

18 Weather With You

19 Creola (featuring Nadirah Shakoor)

20 Cheeseburger In Paradise

21 Come Monday

22 Son Of A Son Of A Sailor

23 A Pirate Looks At Forty

24 Back Where I Come From (featuring Mac McAnally)

25 Woman Goin’ Crazy On Caroline Street

26 Southern Cross

27 Margaritaville (with the Lost Verse)

First Encore

Band Intros: Tina Gullickson, Nadirah Shakoor, Peter Mayer, Ralph MacDonald,

Doyle Grisham, Sonny Landreth, Mac McAnally, Roger Guth,

Robbie Greenidge, Jim Mayer, Dancing Johnny Lovell, Michael Utley

28 Scarlet Begonias

29 Fins

Second Encore

30 When The Coast Is Clear (with Mac, Robert, Ralph)

Friday, September 3, 2010

so Becca is loving college

she's been there a whole week and she's loving every minute of it.  loves her classes, loves the dorm, loves being in NYC.

and her dorm situation has improved considerably.

unfortunately, that's because someone else wasn't loving college, wasn't loving her classes, wasn't loving the dorm and wasn't loving NYC.  the young lady packed up her bags and went home. after less than a week.

so Becca's rom is no longer a "forced triple".  there are now two girls in a room designed for two.  I don't know yet whether Becca and her remaining roommate will keep the extra furniture.

there are still 7 of them in the apartment, but things will be easier for all of them now.

September's topic: art

Art…well, that’s certainly a broad category.

We’ve all had exposure to art in school. The first day of school – be it kindergarten, pre-k or whatever – you’re asked to take out your crayons, or you’re given some sort of craft project (usually involving copious amounts of Elmer’s glue) or you’re donning a smock (your father’s old shirt?) so you can do something with paint. A classic project is a child’s handprint in plaster, painted gold and handed to mom as a present….

I was fortunate to attend a public school system that was very strong on art, we had regular art classes throughout elementary school and junior high. And I spent many a summer in the arts and crafts shed in day camp. I remember drawing and painting, sculpting with clay, working with beads…so many interesting things.

The classes in junior high also gave us some exposure to art history. Great painters – Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet. Wish I’d gone further with that, I would have loved to have taken art history in college, but somehow I never found the time. Though I did pursue the interest on my own. My dorm room was decorated with, among other things, posters of works by Picasso, Chagall and Van Gogh. In fact, one of my favorite paintings is Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” In fact, I still have a framed version of the poster, it hangs in my room over my bed. (When we moved Becca into her dorm last week, I saw that one of her fellow students has the same poster…)

I live in close proximity to one of the greatest treasure-troves of art. Yet it’s been far too long since I actually visited one of the many museums.

In a way I envy Becca. When she takes art history in college (I think it’s a required course) she’ll be going to the museums and looking at the originals, not copies in some book….

Thursday, September 2, 2010

FINALLY got around to ordering graduation photos

my poor baby!!!

you remember my story about the red ribbon?  it's supposed to ward off the evil eye. 

I think I'm going to wrap Jen in a dozen red ribbons.

actually, the bracelet I bought when I was into kabbala -- the silver one with the Jewish star charm and the red ribbon woven into the links -- should suffice.

as if two car accidents, a cyst on her eye that came thisclose to needing surgery, horrible mosquito bites during the overnight at camp and an infestation of lice weren't bad enough....

the poor kid now has strep throat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

one down, one to go

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

Becca moved into her dorm last Friday.  It was chaotic and emotional.  But I knew it would be.

When Jen moved into her dorm freshman year, she had me, her father (my ex) and Becca to help her. Her school is in New England, about a 4 hour drive away from our  home on Long Island.  but Becca goes to school in Manhattan, so she had an entire entourage --her father, her sister, three aunts, a family freind and her mother (me) -- to help her move in.   And she brought enough "stuff" to outfie the whole dorm, I think. 

Her first full day of college life was spent in a volunteer program, a group of students went to Harlem to plant a garden.  then they had a "cultural experience" in chinatown, visiting a Buddhist Temple and eating dim sum in Chinatown.

The students who did not participate in the volunteer program moved into the dorm Sunday.  When I spoke to Becca she was gushing aobut her new room mates and how she loved them already.

They had two days of orientation, and today is the first day of class.  I will be interested to know if she's still gushing after today.  when we visited the school last spring she looked at the course catalogue and saw hundreds of classes she wanted to take; I hope she's enjoying.

It's so werid to say that my daughter Becca is away at school and my daughter Jen is still home with us. 

Jen is in a frenzy of packing.  She's driving up to school on Labor Day.  She told me that she doesn't need help moving into her house.  She's sure that everything she wants to bring to school will fit into her car, and she's used to the drive north.  She doesn't want her mom to go to the real estate broker with her to pick up the keys, she wants to do it herself.  She's got lots of friends to help her carry her things into the house.  She tells me that none of her housemates willl have a parent helping them move in, either.  She plans to invite me and her father up in a few weeks to see the house, take her out to dinner, etc. 

My baby doesn't need me anymore.  At least, not in the way she used to.


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