Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The '9/11' class of West Point, the group that had just entered in the fall of 2001, lost their first member in combat. 2nd Lt. Emily Perez was 23. The SF Chronicle ran a small piece with a picture of her.

Beautiful young woman. Black Latina, like a bunch of my students this year, a stunning smile. Exactly halfway in age between me and the eighth graders. Astonishingly gifted, by all accounts.

Her face stayed with me today for a while.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Year Resolutions

One of the things I love about my own particular ethnic/cultural/regional blend is that I get to start over a lot. My cycle of new years starts with Rosh Hashanah, but if things don't go perfectly, a month or so later we hit the pre-Christian new year of the Celtic world, at Halloween. Then the Gregorian new year arrives at the beginning of January, just in case things weren't going perfectly, and that helps a lot, and then, just in case things don't go perfectly, the lunar new year arrives not too long after that, and I can eat tangerines and watch the parade in SF, and start over again.

If things don't go perfectly after that, I can count Tu B'Shevat--OK, so I'm not a tree, who cares--and Pesach, of course, and the old European new year in March if needs be.

Summers are difficult, though. No one starts a new year in the summer, at least no one I have any close ties to.

All of this perfectly suits one of my more maddening characteristics, which is that I'm always resolving to become a more perfect person, starting now. It's Rosh Hashanah again, so guess what I'm doing?

Well, I'm taking the day off. I was planning to go into work, but a little voice in my head informed me around three this morning, while I was sleeping, that this needs to stop. I am only gonna allow myself to go in to work on the weekends twice a month. I may do work at home, but I am going to get some Sundays in.

I have a lot of other plans, too.

Shana tova, everyone.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh, you've got to be kidding me

It's not allowed to be yontiff yet. I'm not ready. I haven't cheshbonned my nefesh. Let alone washed some pantyhose. (Makes International Jewish Distress Call, which she imagines to sound like a shofar going "aoogah". But you know, in a ladylike kind of way.)

Anyway, my nefesh and me are apparently going to have to like it or lump it, Rosh Hashanah is starting tomorrow evening, no matter what I think about that.


General update:

We are not buying a house right now, although we do now have a specific goal, which is improving my credit rating, and then considering ways to accumulate a down payment. The brokers were nice and bought us French fries. It seems we could get 100% financing, but the mortgage payments would be so astronomical that it just wouldn't work. We'll see.

The fella is still trying to get some financial aid. It's slow going. The stupid college can't meet with him until next week, a full month after classes started. Wells Fargo offered a loan, but apparently need a cosigner with the credit of Paris Hilton. I and a very respectable relative have both been turned down for the job. Also the stupid college gave him pinkeye or something (the stupid college is currently taking the blame for all of the things going wrong in our lives, which may be unfair, but maintains shalom bayit, and doesn't hurt the college none.) Anyway, his eye is pink. Oh, and his wisdom tooth is still doing whatever it's doing. That's the college's fault too. Why is my boyfriend being visited with plagues? What's next? Aphids?

The seventh graders are restless.

I'm tired.

Oh yeah. New year. Good idea.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Real Estate and Such

We're meeting the real estate lady at Denny's this evening--apparently my credit is not so bad as all that. She actually went so far as to say it was 'good'. We'll see what they're offering.

This is a kind of sudden weird thing, but I figure that if nothing else I can find who's out there, and what my options are. And maybe--well, the desire to settle down has become very intense in the past few years. It's a past thirty thing, I think. I want a garden. Some roots. An investment, even.

Plus, the place I like (which may not even still be available, I remind myself, and I've never really seen inside, except through windows, so by 'like', I mean that they have a big side yard, and hardwood floors), is less than two blocks from BART, and a block from Giovanni's, the cute grocery place. Also, it's about four blocks from our current spot, so the move would be ever so much easier...

I can't tell if I'm fantasizing or visualizing, if you are Northern California enough to see the difference. I just know that the thought of having a place of my own is madly appealing.

Well, we'll see.

More About The Pope

So now, apparently, many upset Muslims want to kill the pope for quoting a dead Byzantine emperor saying mean (albeit basically truthful) things about the prophet Mohammed. Michelle Malkin is covering this, hour by hour. She calls on everyone to stand up and unequivocally say "I support the Pope". (I would supply links, but heck, you can find all this on Google, and my computer won't do it. Sorry.)

Sorry, Michelle, but I supported Denmark a lot more than I support the Pope, and I even had some crankiness about Denmark. (Stupid butter cookies! Stupid cartoons!)

Standard Disclaimers: I do not want anyone to kill the pope, nor do I want anyone to throw bombs at Christian churches in the Muslim, which has apparently been happening, as folks watch the news and get all anxious to attack the nearest Christians. I observe with cyncicism and concern the increasing trend of irrelevent 'slights' to Islam by any semi-public figure being blown up by media hysteria into giant affairs that agitate the whole Muslim world. Benedict was, of course, entitled to say any durn thing that he pleased. Yadda, yadda, yadda. There is no justification for the kind of outraged "the West has REALLY gone too far THIS time" routine that appears to be playing out.

But Benedict's speeech, which I've read in full (OK, read with glazed eyes in full), is interestingly silent about the record of his own faith. The context in which the notion of Mohammed bringing faith 'with the sword' is set in contrast with the Byzantine emperor's Greek belief that a 'reasonable soul' can be persuaded to truth by reason. Benedict argues that the Hellenic ideal is compatible with biblical truth.

So far, so good. The reason I will NOT stand up and support the pope as unequivocally as Michelle wants, is that Benedict does not, at any stage, make reference to the failures of the Church to live up this ideal in the centuries before or after Emperor Manuel II had this insight while chatting with a Persian guy he met during the siege of Constantinople.

The catch is that refusing to convert, for Muslims and Jews alike during a long period of European history, meant that you were not a 'reasonable soul', and philosophy went out the window. Books were burned. People were burned. A great deal of other unpleasant stuff happened. Benedict talks about late medieval theological departures from the Greek ideal, but he doesn't talk about the human cost of those departures, nor how deep they went.

So Benedict: why not? If you are upholding Christianity's beliefs in this matter, would it not be best to say "We have not always remembered this truth. In the memory of those who were oppressed because both Christians and Muslims converted by the sword for generations, let both Christians and Muslims knock it the hell off in this generation?" Now that sounds rousing to me.

This caught my attention also because yesterday I listened to a lecture about Catholic social justice teaching from a very nice Jesuit who began by discussing the French Revolution as the end of the medieval reign of the Church's teaching about the worth of humanity, and the separateness of human worth from enconomic production. I would have been happier if he had acknowledged, even in passing, that in the days before the French Revolution, the poor were not exactly getting what they needed from the French Church. No mention. No comment.

So, no, Michelle. I don't stand up to say "I support the Pope". I support the Pope's right not to be assassinated. But Benedict needs to get off his high horse and make it clear that his Greek insights came at a high human cost.

Monday, September 11, 2006

No Bad Guys. No Fire Trucks.

In September, 2001, the younger son of one of my college friends was IIRC, three. His mom believed that she was doing a good job of protecting him from the nonstop horror on TV until the day she walked to the VCR to put on "Blue's Clues" and Aharon (not his real name) screamed "No bad guys! No fire trucks!"

That's kind of where I am at the moment. I don't want to watch any of the TV coverage. I don't want to read the "Where are they now" stories. (Terrorists still in hell. Families of the dead still grieving. Babies born after their fathers died at the WTC and Pentagon now in preschool and kindergarten. U.S. still in Afghanistan. Afghanistan still in poor condition. Bin Laden still making home movies. Am I sounding cynical yet? I'm not. Oh God, it shouldn't happen to a West-coast liberal that the sound of that syrupy 'where eagles fly' song in Walgreens can reduce me to tears.)

BTW: "Saint of 9/11". Biodocumentary about Father Mychal Judge, a NYFD chaplain who died at the World Trade Center. Awesome, spiritually inspiring, very very good for the Irish soul. Check it out.

I have a post I want to write about the apparent immutability of people's political and social perspectives, and how 9/11 didn't change people's mind about things, but I don't think I want to write it this evening. Maybe tomorrow. Or over the weekend.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Love and Molars

The fella is teething. Seriously, the man is thirty years old, one of his wisdom teeth is coming in, and there isn't enough room in his jaw for it plus the molar that was already there. Two teeth enter, one tooth leaves.

This happens to many people. The problem is:

1. We have no money.

2. The fella has no dental coverage.

3. It's Sunday.

4. The University of the Pacific School of Dentistry emergency after-hours number as left on their machine is wrong, and I can't find the right one.

5. 1-800-DENTIST found us a great emergency person. In Vallejo. The only driver has major jaw pain, and did not sleep last night.

6. I have been telling him to call UOP for two weeks, at least.

Current plan seems to be that we will wait for morning, and send the fella to the emergency clinic at UOP.

I am going to wait until the fella is totally recovered from having his wisdom tooth pulled, and then I am going to kill him.

I have informed him that he has been relieved of all rights as an adult member of this family unit. I have informed him that we will be getting domestically partnered. I have informed him that we will be getting married, having three children, and buying a house. I have informed him that he will be getting health coverage for all of his parts, internal, external and removable. And we are getting a dog, so I can share the responsibility for taking care of him with someone sensible. I think a black lab would be a good caretaker.

Also, I am going to buy him some good clothes, we are getting a joint checking account, and I am going to learn to balance a checkbook. We are going to eat at the table every evening like grown-ups. He will go to the gym. There are some other details, but I'm forgetting them right now.

So far his only comments to this rant have been "I can't believe it took you almost seven years to get to this point," and "Can I have some oatmeal?"

I swear, I'm going to take that tooth out myself. With pliers.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Oy, oy, oy

OK, let me explain. I just called a real estate person and asked about buying a house. She's planning to call me back, and get my info in a bit to run my credit.

You see, there's this house, about four blocks away from where we rent now. It's a bungalow, on a big bit of land (for the burbs), with a creek out back, and back in the winter, a friend of mine was looking at buying it. She didn't get it, and bought a place in San Pablo, we all moved on.

Now, eight months later, it's up for sale again, and they're asking for no money down. (Why might be a good question...), but anyway, I called the real estate person, and she's gonna call me back this evening, and get info for credit check.

My credit is fairly lousy, I think, lots of late credit card payments and the like. Of course, I always pay off in the short run--no one has ever had to seize my car or garnish my wages--and I ALWAYS pay my rent on time.

("You have no car to seize," whispers the fella in my ear. So what?)

I don't want to be shamed by the real estate lady. And also, what if I CAN buy a house? That's a terrifying thought. Aren't I financially entangled enough? But also, wouldn't it be nice to have my rent going toward something of mine, and wouldn't it be nice to be able to dig up the back yard for vegetables, and paint the bedroom a nice color? But they said something about coming over to MY HOUSE. Maybe I could visit their office instead? I don't want to let real estate people in. My living room is messy.

I feel a trifle queasy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day, All!

OK, I can tell right now that I will have lots of stories about my new students. For both privacy and convenience, I will continue with my blog habit of giving everyone Hebrew names--so now, let me tell you about Dovidl. You're going to hear a lot about Dovidl. At mass on Friday morning, Dovidl behaved so badly, that the vice principal had to talk to him afterward. I later informed him that if he ever behaves like that in a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or sacred pile of rocks again, whether I am with him or not, there will be some serious consequences.

I also learned that Dovidl, despite not having made his First Communion, went up and got communion anyhow. When the VP discussed this with him, he blamed it on Brachi, who told him to.

Maybe this is what they mean when they say that it's dangerous for women to have too much power in the Church. Did they mean twelve-year-old girls who tell their classmates to get in line, though?

Whatever. Nice weekend. I am, of course, lesson planning right now, in addition to cleaning the house, doing laundry, simmering a pot of stew (BTW, a pound of brisket chopped up with whatever stew veggies you like, crockpotted on low for eight hours, makes a very nice stew, although a little fatty), and trying to create a working schedule for this fall.

I really need to have some kind of schedule. I am overextended. I am ALWAYS overextended. And yet, I don't seem to get much done. Can just having a job, and keeping the house picked up mean you're overextended?

Anyway, goals for the fall are:

Do good at work.
Get the house nicer than it is now.
Work on thesis.
Spend some time with friends.
Get involved a little with a shul.
Do some of my own writing.
Learn to drive.

That doesn't SEEM like a lot. Am I overreaching?