Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I'm finding myself in a really weird place lately. My culture is calling.

Perhaps it is the fact that it is the Yamim Nora'im (Days of Awe).

Perhaps it is that I work in the Jewiest neighborhood this side of Crown Heights.

Maybe it is my new niece.

It could be that I'm feeling good and exploring all of the identity I left behind in pursuit of food.

I don't know what it is but I am feeling very...Yiddishkeit (Yiddish, meaning "Jewishness;" a word similar to observance but suggesting perhaps more an emotional attachment, and a feeling of identification with the Jewish People, than full commitment to a lifestyle based on observance of the mitzvot.)

Anyway - very Jewy. I'm sort of experimenting. Not that I'm going to go all Ba'alat teshuva on anyone, but I'm feeling more identified with being a Jewess these days.

Maybe a month ago, Miss Kendra was talking about dressing modestly (tzniut) like Orthodox women do. I've got to admit, I tried it yesterday and it didn't feel bad. In fact, as others become more conscious of my body (because losing a significant amount of weight will do that - didn't you know that you're invisible if you're fat?) I long to cover up more and more skin.

Then along comes this post from Uccellina and I remembered what makes me angry at the extremists of my religion/culture. I think the "overly aggressive" may have been a bit of hyperbole but they are, in fact, extreme. Chasidim do not prosletyze to non-Jews - it is not allowed, but if you are Jewish - you are a target and they will do just about anything in their power, to get you to Shabbat dinner. After that, they will never take "no" for an answer.

This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, my big kosher beef with Chabad or ultra-orthodox. When I was living in Israel, I was spit upon. Really. Also, there was a particular neighborhood that if you drove through on a Friday night, boys would throw rocks at your car. Then there was that one time I was teargassed by a bunch of Haredi at the western wall. I have pictures y'all.

All of the twisting and turning of logic that goes into the definition and role of gender in orthodox Judaism is well and good for those it works for. Unfortunately, if you do not fit into the mold, you are out of luck. Fit or leave. But don't ever leave.

I read Levine's book recently and I loved her prose and what she did, entering the Lubavitch community to research them. I wish I had the chutzpah. She met girls who would grow up to be rabbi's wives (rebbetzin) and she also met girls and women who were so frightfully out of place in their own families.

Reading about these girls, I felt the same as when I first learned that parents kicked out their gay children or FLDS kicked out their boys. Those who don't fit in have to leave and I want to open a home for Chasidic kids who don't fit in so that I can tell them that there is more than Mitzvot - or rather that mitzvot can come in all shapes and sizes.

I love Judaism. I love the symbolism (or the oogedy boogedy as Michael and I call it). I love the tradition of asking questions. It is when some of us are listening to a man, dead for 12 years, treating him, not as a flawed human, as a rabbi who was loved, but as the Messiah, who says:

I have already stated my opinion on many occasions that in present generations covering one's hair with a kerchief will not last, for each and every time the woman is put to the test - whether to cover all her hair, or just part of it, etc., so that she not be embarrassed by those who scoff.
This is not at all the case with a sheitel (wig), for it is impossible to remove the sheitel when one is at a gathering and the like. Especially so, since as you write that she will cut her hair and that both of you agree to this, then this is the best possible way.
As to her going with an uncovered sheitel: For the last several generations already this has not been looked upon unfavorably at all. Understandably, however, it is necessary to ascertain the custom in your place - if this does not constitute breaking a precedent, G-d forbid.

I will go on and on as to how grateful I am that I grew up in a Jewish environment, but modesty is a choice. Prayer is a choice and belief is a choice. If I choose to take some and leave others, and make those decisions on a minute by minute basis, that is my prerogative. It offends me when any sect says "This is how it is, there is no choice."

to be continued....


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Friday, September 22, 2006
Simchat Bat l'Mira Chana

Yesterday was the Zeved habat or Simchat bat of Mia - her Hebrew name is Mira Chana - to welcome her into the Jewish family. Rabbi Karen Strok, who Shannon and I have known since she was 14 (!) performed the ceremony. We were all in the same youth group, SCFTY (pronounced skiff - tee) together.

In Los Angeles, The City that Never Works (you can credit me for that saying), 75 people showed up on a Thursday afternoon to celebrate.

Mia was picture perfect and asleep for most of the ceremony.

Shannon and Joe had seven friends and family give blessings that they wrote on seven values:

Love of learning
Love of the game
(and one more I can't remember this morning)

Michael and I gave the blessing on independence - this is what I wrote:

Your mom and dad, they are true individuals.

Your mom is a great shining presence in a 5’3 frame who is courageous, honest and outspoken.

Your dad is a giant among men. He is heroic and generous.

In becoming these people, they were sometimes lonely and frightened, but in those times, they learned to own themselves. They also learned to take credit for their successes and for their mistakes.

Michael and I wish for you a little loneliness in life. As consequence and right, your choices then, are all your own.

You will earn your inheritance - an open mind of true wisdom - and we will cheer for you in those moments and in all the moments you discover what makes you unique.

L'shana tova, y'all!!!!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A new addition to the family
Nope - it's not my new niece - though she's a total sweet pea and I'll write more about her tomorrow after her Simchat Bat.

This new edition to my family is....a new Dyson!!!!!

OMG could I be more excited. We got the Animal. Isn't she beautiful? I've been saving my AmEx points for years and I cashed them all in for this beauty.


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Friday, September 15, 2006

Her name is Mia and she is beautiful.

She has fluffed up in her 2nd day here and her mommy and daddy are very happy to see her.

She has had many, many visitors. Pretty much non-stop with the visiting.


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Thursday, September 14, 2006
It's a girl!!!

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear whatever your name is!
Happy birthday to you!

I love you so much.
You are beautiful.
You are so special.
You are so loved.
You will never be without someone who loves you unconditionally.
Your mom and dad are awesome.
I love you.

Love always,
Auntie Faith


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Blah, blah, blah
I watched the pilot episode of Weeds last week. I know, I'm way behind, but we don't have Showtime. Anyway, the little girl, Isabella, made me cry. Her mom called her Isabelly and gave her laxatives and made fun of her weight. It was so hard to watch...actually, I left the room half way through. I guess I'm still not "over it".

I grew up in a house with a motion or light sensitive pig in the fridge that oinked when you opened it. I snuck chunks of brown sugar out of the cupboard to feed my sugar habit and the minute I had enough independence to have my own money and access to a vending machine, forget it...I have been eating ever since.

Until now. Not that I have stopped eating entirely, by any stretch of the imagination, but I have not been eating like I was for the last 30+ years. Which to me, defined eating. I did not know what this "willpower" crap was that everyone talked about. As far as I was concerned it was a figment of people's imagination. It was either 1) eat 2) deprivation 3) throw up what you ate. These were my options. I saw no way out until May 30th.

On May 30th I made a radical (and fairly unhealthy decision) which I won't currently go into. What it did was start me on a path to eating ....can I even say it?....normally.

I'm still a little (ok, a lot) freaked out about eating and my body but things are getting better. The other day at the Farmer's Market for SnB I grabbed a small sugar free fro yo (notice, I had to make sure you all knew it was small, without sugar and frozen yogurt). This, in itself is pretty bold for me, public eating of food that looks "bad for me". Anyway, I was sure everyone at the Farmer's Market was staring at the fat girl with the ice cream - but I have to remember, one baby step at a time.

The fact is, what I'm trying to do is not lose 100 pounds and look amazing - although I'll admit to that being my first motivation. What my real motivation is at this point, and it's a huge ginormous, immense revelation, is not to wake up every morning HATING myself and not to go to bed every night telling myself that I'll do better tomorrow.

It all seems so petty and stupid. There are a million people starving in Darfur. There are thousands of people being tortured every day. The fact of the matter is, how can I do something about any of that, or give anything -- ANYTHING my best effort when I spend all of my time hating my body. If I can fix myself, at least keep doing what I'm doing, not waking up every morning with the disappointment of the day before, then I can focus so much better on all of the other things in my life.

How's that for profound?


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Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Fun with rectal mucosa
Laurie has created a monster. She taught me the basics of photoshop. Today, I took a rectal mucosa slide and I photoshopped it to create more mucosa. It was so much fun!!! I have also now photoshopped out dysplastic cells and started to learn how to smudge out my wrinkles (in photos of me, not my rectal wrinkles...!) So much fun!

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Sunday, September 03, 2006
house hunting for fun
My sister and I went house hunting, just a little bit today. Just to take a break and see what we could see.

I have 4 words for you.

Day-Glo teal green carpeting.

Throughout an entire two story house!!! Yikes. Same house, jacuzzi in the bedroom. Ewww.

Another house, kitchen on the second floor. WTF!? I am moving into a house so that I don't have to drag my groceries up a flight of stairs. It was really freaky.

Another house we saw might just be the house. It was so great. I absolutely loved it. And, it's a total fixer so I don't have to worry about OPBT (other people's bad taste). Total grandma house, wood paneling, formica, hi/lo sculptured shag carpeting!!! Brilliant! The bones, though, were completely stunning. If we buy it, party at my place. BYO Hammer.


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Friday, September 01, 2006
1st cleaning revelation
I have started the cleaning. I have already, one hour into it, had a major revelation.

I have 16 pairs of underwear - I think that's reasonable. I can go for a fortnight without washing, not a problem.

Here is the problem. I have 40 pairs of socks.

That, my friends, is ridiculous. For when, really, was the last time you saw me wearing a pair of socks.


more revelations, I am sure, will come this weekend. Keep checking in...
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