Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Ba boker, yom aleph

Filed under : Life in general
On May 30, 2010
At 1:30 am
Comments : 4

Hey, it’s Sporadic Music Sunday! I’m in a different sort of nostalgic mood today, I’m using a recipe from my mother’s recipe box to attempt to reproduce a favorite birthday cake of my brother’s. A PSA: should you be jotting down a recipe, just because you know what to do with all those ingredients, it never hurts to write down trivial things like, “mix these things first and then add to those things” or “grease the pan” or “use a 9″ round pan” or “remove from the pan immediately.” If it’s not exactly the same, I do not think it will be my fault.

But anyway, while I was baking this, a song from my childhood came into my head. This is one of those ditties that I used to play on my little orange plastic tote-around record player. I think it was up there with “Rubber Duckie” and “Don’t Give Up On Us Baby.” No really, I did have that last one as a 45. Anyhoo, the version we used to have is by someone else and you can find it here, but this one includes a translation and cute illustrative cartoon. So here goes, and maybe you’ll learn the days of the week in Hebrew the same way that I did.

Title is the second line of the song, and when I wrote this: “On Sunday morning.”


Life is sweet, a mathematical post

Filed under : Judaism,Life in general
On May 23, 2010
At 4:00 am
Comments : 5

And so, my 613th post.

Numbers are mostly arbitrary. I love the title of the Simpsons clip show, “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular,” because really, just because we live in a base-ten society, does that mean there’s something so fantastic about numbers ending in zero? Numbers in Judaism really mean something but, as the Passover song, “Who Knows One?” shows you, there’s something special about pretty much every number. As promised, 613 is the number of mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah. Now, you knew Jews had a lot of rules, but did you know how many? (Teachers guide says: 613). I like 613 mostly because it doesn’t really mean anything else. When I was a kid, I had a silver bracelet with three silver balls on it. I liked to think that they represented the members of the Police, about whom I obsessed all the livelong day. Clearly, they were a Christian symbol. Or a family. Or, you know, the whim of the jeweler. But when I see 613, I know that’s what it is.

No one can follow all 613 rules because some are for men and some are for women and some are for parents and some are for people with parents, etc. And even in the best of times, I never followed all that I could. But what I like about them is that they correspond to every aspect of your life. That is, with the smallest thing in your life, getting up in the morning or crossing the street, you could be doing those things in a way that benefits the universe and mankind. I know that seems heavy but I think it’s really a relief. Because one of the signs of growing up is that you start to search and think about what the meaning and purpose of your life and the world and all that exists is.

That could be the end of the post but just for fun, it’s actually the intro. I wanted to talk about growing up and random numbers because very soon, I’ll be hitting a round, base-ten number birthday. Not for a few months, but Summer break was when I always started thinking of myself as the next year older because I spent my summers as a child in the camp where my family worked and was surrounded by a different set of kids. Kids who had all had their birthdays in March and April. So in order to not seem a year younger than everyone else, I just pretended my Fall birthday had occurred in the Spring with the result that by the time my actual birthday rolled around, I had already mentally been that age for several months.

On my last zero-ending birthday, I spent a long time worrying about it. And then one day, for some reason I still am not sure about, that all vanished and I embraced it. I took a day off work, went to a spa, and had lunch with my parents and dinner with friends. Really a perfect, perfect day. But the day wasn’t that important in the scheme of things. The important part is that each decade has been better than the last. I mean, think about it. While new experiences are great, there’s something to be said about knowing what you’re doing and having the maturity and wisdom to handle everything that comes at you. I’m still not totally there but I wouldn’t trade the confidence I have now for any part of my “youth.” And I’m sure when I look back in ten or twenty years, I’ll laugh at how much I thought I knew at this age. Because that’s the way I look at my teens and twenties now. Excruciating. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the culture of my teens desperately (you may have noticed this) but not at all the awkwardness. And the wondering about what life would be. And the desperation of (gasp!) trying to find a guy to complete me. To be comfortable in your own skin is priceless, even if that skin isn’t as dewy fresh as it used to be.

A friend of mine from my youth, Molly Ringwald, just wrote a book for women of our age group, apparently. I doubt I’ll read it but I did like this one thing she said:

“When you’re a teenager, you’re forever thinking, ‘Do they like me?’ ” she writes. “When you’re a grown-up, as anyone over the age of 30 can attest, the question becomes, ‘Do I like them?’ ”

“I never thought I would be glad to be older,” she said, finishing her pinot grigio, “but it is kind of a relief.”

Amen. So in the end, I think numbers are really as meaningful as you want them to be. If you want to use a base-ten birthday to celebrate how far you’ve come and to be thankful for another year on this fine earth of ours, that’s all well and good. And if the 613th post on your blog reminds you to add meaning to all your actions, I’m sure that’s just what God and Al Gore intended when they invented the Internet. But I think every number is special.

Now, we all know the meaning of life is also a number: 42. But now that I’ve grown up a bit (and really, just a bit), I think I’ve come back around to my original view, that it’s about giving to others. And maybe this is the decade where I’ll really make that happen in the way I promised to in my high school yearbook. I’ve certainly gotten smart enough to have a better haircut. But of course, I’m no longer a person who needs to express who she is through her hairstyle, so that’s already a contribution to mankind.

Just as I was finishing this post, Postsecret appeared in my feed reader with this as its final (oops, not final… just where I stopped reading!) postcard:

I considered making it a whole other post but decided that it worked in this one. I sometimes think that my twenties were spent trying to relocate the life that had been sucked out of me by that place. All I can say to this person is that life is a journey and that your sacrifice made you the person you are… not your education. This person may be talking about an entirely different sacrifice, but for me, I never think about whether it was worth it. It happened, I got through it, I like who I am, and even though seeing this picture made me want to cry, it’s all good now. It will be good, I swear.

Lene Lovich – Lucky Number


Someone’s knocking at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell

Filed under : Life in general
On May 16, 2010
At 4:25 pm
Comments : 6

I’ve been trapped in final projects hell (as an aside, people always ask me how my “finals” are going – does anyone take final exams in graduate school?) but am at last chilling. A final note from the final week: if your professor serves alcohol at your last class and you are expected to give a presentation on your project, the major portion of your grade, it’s best not to partake until said presentation is over. I’m really not sure WHAT I said.

And now for the updates.

1. No contact from The White Whale. I fear it is not her, because we never had a falling out or anything. Why would she ignore my note? It was through LinkedIn which I dislike and only joined to contact her. I’ll give it a week and then I’m deleting my empty profile.

This really puts a damper on the post I was going to write about how I found her.

2. I am excited that danah boyd, one of my favorite social media scholars, has agreed with me about Facebook being a utility. She goes the next logical step, though, and posits that it should be regulated.

3. Speaking of privacy, my census form came late and so got sent in late and thus I’m now being hounded by door-to-door census people. I know, why don’t I just open my door and give them the info I put on my form? I don’t know why but it gives me the heebie-jeebs. So until they learn to take no for an answer, they will get the continual, “well then you’ll have to come back some other time, because I’m not opening my door. I already sent the form in!” There are two out in my hallway strategizing what to do about me right now.

It doesn’t help that someone I know and can’t stand is the “Crew Leader” for my zone. Suck on my closed door!

4. I’m again proctoring at Large Jewish University. It’s like a sitcom where wacky hijinks ensue as Becca tries to wrest control from 45 wisecracking 20-year-old guys! Fun.

5. I finally caught up on Lost. I think I am the only person in the universe who is happy to see this thing end, mostly because I lost any semblance of understanding what was going on about three seasons ago. But I kept hoping. A TV show should not require a commentary worthy of the Talmud to be understood, sorry.

6. This week contains the festival of Shavuot, whereby we eat a lot of dairy and commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments. I plan to celebrate it by not bearing false witness against anyone. Or killing them.

Coincidentally, I’m close to my 613th post and this is a special Torah number. Find out why on my 613th post! For those keeping track, which would be just WordPress, this is #612. So with my current schedule, #613 should be sometime this year.

Well, I think the census people are gone. I may actually venture outside, says the white, female, single person occupancy apartment-dweller.

Title comes from a Paul McCartney song which is, bizarrely, not available on Amazon. I guess you can just listen to Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey instead.


Call me Jewball

Filed under : Life in general
On May 10, 2010
At 4:15 am
Comments : 11

What happens when it’s late at night, I’m in a melancholy mood thinking about the past, and I have final projects due for school? That’s right, I start looking for The White Whale, one of the best and coolest friends I ever had who has a common name and seemingly no Internet presence at all, and who has vanished off the face of the earth.

It’s 4am but Captain Ahab, I think I found her. A missive has been sent. How will I ever fall asleep now?

Update 12 hours later: No reply. Dur.

Update 30 hours later: If it’s her, I am guessing she does not want to be found. Or, she lives on an island without the Internet.


Happy Others Day

Filed under : Life in general
On May 9, 2010
At 1:00 am
Comments : 6

This is not about Lost.

When I was young[er], I was pretty insecure. That is, I always imagined people didn’t like me unless they showed me expressly and specifically that they did. I remember sleeping over at a friend’s place and being tucked in by her babysitter who gave her a kiss but just said good night to me. See? I remember thinking. She clearly likes my friend better than she likes me, if she even likes me at all. You may be thinking, as I do in my present life, that of course a woman who takes care of a child every day is going to be fonder of that child than she is of some random kid off the street. And there lies the rub.

Once, in her later life, my mother related a conversation she’d had with my great-aunt who was in her 90’s (and is still alive at 103!). My great-aunt had chided my mother because she wasn’t wearing a sweater when it was already getting chilly out. My mother, who had lost her own mother in 1991, thought this was a great thing. She told me, “I forgot what that sort of worry feels like. Because no one loves you like your mother.” After I hung up from this conversation, I started to cry at the insensitivity of my mother to tell me this when she was already dying, as if to say, “and when I’m gone, no one will ever love you like this again.”

But this is not one of those, “I don’t have a mother on Mothers Day” type posts. In fact, even when I was growing up, I had someone who I referred to as “my other mother” and I will see her today. She was a good friend of my mother’s, and a colleague as well. Her daughter was my best friend through grade school (we went to different high schools) and is my good friend even now. I spent so much time at their house that it felt like my house, only larger and neater and better decorated. I’ve lost track of all the ways my friend’s Mom made me feel like her own child but I never doubted for one moment that she loved me too.

Nowadays, she lives on the Upper East Side, and this week she took advantage of my delivery zone for Cinnamon Girl, that is, within 20 blocks of me on the Upper West Side… and Other Mom. So I’ll be bringing over some treats this morning for her Mothers Day celebration (her Mom is visiting as well). She asked me to stay on but I usually make plans for Mothers Day so I can be distracted. But it was a lovely gesture.

I find myself looking for Other Moms all around and I tend to find them. Someone in my last job was one and then there was Tami offering motherly advice last week. It’s that sense of, “I’m looking out for you! I worry about you!” that is hard to come by but can sometimes be found, if you have good people in your life. No one loves you like your mother, but lots of times, the rest of the world is prepared to step in when they can. And I thank all of those people today.