Monday, May 28, 2007

Counting on Moshiach

I have a date to go look at wedding dresses. Thank heavens.

Oh, and also,

Balabusta Bluejeans
daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. Bluejeans


Fella Groomra
son of

Invite you to rejoice with us and our families at our wedding
To be held a Big Reform Shul
In a Large West Coast City

On a date that appears in both the secular and Jewish calendars

Lunch reception to follow.


I considered the whole 'to be held in Jerusalem unless circumstances work against us' wording, but decided against it for a variety of reasons:

1. If Moshiach shows up, I actually think we might postpone the wedding until everyone calms down a little. You know, the whole not mixing rejoicing with rejoicing thing, and, well, the whole thing is just going to become more complicated.

2. We're going to have to find a place to have the wedding in Jerusalem, and I suspect there may be something of a rush on for good spots. And if it's me trying to marry Groomra at the King David Hotel, or KING DAVID, trying to marry his ninth (tenth?) wife at the King David Hotel, you can sort of see who's going to win. Except that I have a Mastercard, and he probably does not...anyway, you can see the issue.

3. So given all of this, maybe giving specific directions for the event of Moshiach's arrival on the invites is not such a good idea. In the event, we can just call everyone and say we're making other plans. Or they will assume.

4. Seriously, I figured it might scare my in-laws, gentile relatives, Jewish relatives--lots of people who will be getting invites it might scare. I would need to write a letter explaining the custom to include with each invite--and then spend a lot of time on the phone assuring people that we really are having the wedding at Large Reform Shul, and they don't need to book flights to Israel. I remember an evening when a family friend told us, over dinner, with no prelude, that he and his wife were 'moving to Paradise'. We thought he had joined some cult until he explained that he was talking about Paradise California, near Chico. I don't need to put my machatenim through a similar moment.

Am ordering invites this evening. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Lutheran Street

In other news, Iowahawk has gone and done another of his Lutheran Street pieces; Midwest Lutherans Largely Reject Violence. I often do not understand anything Iowahawk puts on his website, but he has two series I adore. One was a series of guest posts from al-Zarqawi (now, clearly, defunct). The other is a series of wacked-out news reports on the world of Lutheran radical extremism, done in the style of mainstream-media magazine reporting.

If you ever wondered--why do only Arabs have a 'street'? If you ever wondered--how do Lutherans really feel about world domination? If you ever wondered--why do Lutherans hate Presbyterians? Or maybe even if you didn''s just insanely funny to watch one man parody Time Magazine, while making fun of his own people in a gentle, loving way. ("God is pretty great, you betcha," declares one midwestern extremist early on in the series.)

"Taken as a whole, the results show that Midwest Lutherans emphatically support a moderate, mainstream path to world domination," said Kohut. "These folks are well-assimilated into the broad fabric of American society, and unless you are Presbyterian, there is probably very little here to cause concern."

I so don't want

To be depressed. I don't have enough TIME to be depressed, and being depressed will lead to me having less time.

But I can feel it now, the sudden chemical tip into sadness, and the inability to turn it off, and I guess the adult thing to do is try to do something about it. WHY did my stupid doctor cut off my Paxil supply? Coming off the stuff is not the most fun I have ever had, you know.

So, call the doctor, and in the meantime realize what's probably wrong and keep moving my feet.

On the bright side, I FOUND THE KEYS this morning. As predicted by my mother, they were in a pocket. A weird side pocket of my coat on the wrong side of the coat--I have no idea how. Well, I have some idea how.

Did I mention that the school I have an interview with is forty minutes away from my house? As opposed to an hour and a half minimum?

I pried all the impacted bills and advertisements out of the mailbox, and brought them in.

And I have coffee.

Just keep swimming.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Getting through

Explosion coming up. Please stand by.

Slept through Shabbos again. Seriously--I got up at ten, went back to bed at 1, and then slept until five. That might have been nice--three day weekend and all--but it's not. I dream endlessly, and unpleasantly, try to surface and can't. I get up feeling lousy.

Got a call from a local middle school that wants me to interview. That should be nice, but right now it's not. They won't want me. Or they will want me, and it'll turn out to be another school that wants me because they're so screwed up they can't get any better. (Please don't try to reassure me about this, it's not up for debate in my current emotional state. As far as I'm concerned right this moment I will never get another job. I can't teach, and I can't do anything else. This will not stop me from getting into a nice outfit and selling myself with a big smile. It's just that feeling any optimism feels entirely too dangerous right now. It's a nice school near my house. It could be a very nice thing. If I could get it. But it could also be awful if I don't.)

Wedding planning is making me sad because no matter how much I do, there's always a long, long, long list of things I should have done and haven't, and this is for a small wedding with almost no pomp or circumstance. Sooner or later, someone asks me "So, did you confirm the (appointment, cost, time, etc.) and I usually haven't, and it makes me feel small and frustrated.

I'm out of the house for twelve hours a day, and I'm horrible and stressed at work, angry at the kids, and angry at my coworkers. I had a prescription for my hip pain prescribed which I never picked up because I can't get to a phone at work, and I can't get anywhere after work without getting home past seven thirty, and it's less painful to have hip pain. I lost my keys early this week, I let myself in on Monday night, but now I cannot find them, and now my mother in law-to-be is calling to see if a check she sent arrived, and I DON'T KNOW because I can't get my damn mailbox open, on account of I don't have the keys. My check card was stolen by some unknown person during parent conferences, and I cancelled it, but forgot that my Jazzercise bills were being billed to it, and I haven't got the time or the energy to deal with that, or with the DVDs from the rental place that I left in a tacqueria when I went to get the damn hip prescription.

My ankles hurt. My allergies, which I normally do not have, are acting up. And my keys are still missing. Stories in Newsweek about missing soldiers in Iraq are making me cry. Most everything is making me cry.

I've been off the Paxil for a couple of weeks now, it's entirely out of my system, and, well, maybe that was not the world's best idea. Ya think?

Tonight I will watch Mad TV, and unload the dishes I managed to put in the washer before dinner.


Confirm date w/wedding dress lady.
E-mail wedding song ideas to incredibly kind singing friend.
Call middle school, tell them I will come in for interview.
Write invitation text. I get an hour for this. Period.
E-mail invite list to my mom.
Call doctor, ask to make appt to talk about depression meds.
Do some laundry.
Try to find keys. Make copy of Groomra's key if all else fails. Figure out how to get the mail.
Read Anita Diamant for rabbi.
Nothing else. Rest. Try to moisturize my poor heels, which are all messed up.

This is not a good place I'm in. Working on swimming.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Meanwhile, on p. A17

All hell is breaking loose in Lebanon.

Now, I would like to state for the record that I really have no idea what is going on in Nahr-el-Bared at the moment. One man was quoted as saying that his house inside the 'refugee camp' was taken over by four foreign Fatah Islam fighters, one from Saudi, one from Yemen, and one from Sudan...for all I know, this is perfectly factual and the whole place really is crawling with terrorist fighters from all over the Muslim world, or for all I know, this guy's accent recognition is a little off, and this is just more neighborhood infighting, or possibly... I just don't know.

But what seems clear is that the whole damn place is in serious trouble, there's shooting in the streets, some unknown number of Palestinian civilians is dead, at least fifteen thousand people have been displaced (or displaced 'again', as they see it), from a place that they called home, even if it is in a country that denies them citizenship, or the right to practice middle-class professions. And the world seems pretty OK with this, at least to judge by the tucking of the whole story back in the latter pages of the newspaper's world news section, and the fact that none of the leftish media sites usually obsessed with Palestinian suffering seem to feel any need to cover the situation at all.

I am not even being snarky about this--well, yes I am. If Israel were doing as Lebanon is doing, we would have bells, whistles, and a parade down Market Street about it. But it's pretty shabby of the anti-Semites of the world to so obviously lose interest in their stalking goats when they're being shot at by other Arabs, who obviously must have a really good reason, like national survival, or a terrorist threat or something. I mean, the U.S. is even giving the Lebanese military equipment! You'd think this would count for something, at least with the hard-core left.

(Well, no, you wouldn't. I note that at A.N.S.W.E.R.'s site, they're upset that people are demanding U.S. intervention in Darfur when the U.S. is still collaborating with Israel to destroy the Palestinian people. I have an idea. Can we send some Israeli troops to Darfur to move around refugees and set up checkpoints? I mean, they could just set up checkpoints, and maybe do some humanitarian aid, but as soon as it happened, all my neighborhood nutjobs would demand that something be done RIGHT away. Maybe this would be a good job for conscientious objectors or something.)



The sixth-grade teacher is doing a prayer service with her homeroom, so they can bless the rosaries they made with her, and yesterday they practiced sprinkling with holy water.

At the end, one little boy, who is very pious, a lively eleven year old, and also ADHD, picked up the bowl, said, "Bless you!", and dumped it over the teacher's head.

We speculate, based on his horror when he soaked her hair and shirt that he didn't realize how much liquid was left.

This is life with middle schoolers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Just Keep Swimming

You know what you gotta do when life gets you down?
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming swimming swimming
What do we do we swim, swim, swim

I'm spending a lot of time humming "Just keep swimming" these days. Dory (the fish played by Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo) is something of a personal hero of mine.

(Apropos of nothing, Ellen is reported to have told an interviewer after the movie that she loved doing the voice of a talking fish, and was now unable to eat fish because she felt such a strong connection to them. She also commented that in her next movie she wanted to play a pint of Haagen-Dazs.)

My grandmother has apparently mistaken a tube of manicure glue for her eyedrops. This, you would think would be a HUGE medical problem, but apparently has only cost her her eyelashes, which, I guess, like the lion's mane in Dragnet will grow back. ("Kids! It'll grow back!" "Yaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!") This has also justified my lifetime choice to bite my nails and do very little to groom them. Clearly, manicure supplies are dangerous.

Also, (lehavdil, or from the agonizing to the stupid) my House rerun has been cancelled in favor of stupid 24. (Sorry, RenReb, but nothing beats House. And 24 is too angsty for me.)

On the plus side, we've chosen a ketubah, and will order invites later this week.

And I got to hear the fella read aloud the Interfaith Ketubah Text #1 in the manner of a Southern preacher.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Boteach, Falwell and Me, the Balabusta

Don't read this unless you're willing to plow through lots of quotes and me being snarky.

First, some disclaimers. The Balabusta does not like Shmuley Boteach. This is not totally because I'm still slightly unclear on how he pronounces his name. He annoys me. He seems like a lighweight thinker who thinks he's doing everyone else a huge favor, especially women, by sharing his great insights into human sexuality, and whatever else he decides to know about.

The Balabusta, however, is mildly annoyed by Rabbi Boteach. She actively despises Jerry Falwell, a situation that has not lessened with his death. Hence, this rant on Boteach's strange 'more in sorrow than in anger' eulogy/apologia for Falwell's twisted philosophy of paranoia and hatred.

Yes, I had more important things to do this morning, but heck, it's Sunday. The Boteach quotes are in purple. Jerry would have wanted it like that.

Falwell, right and wrong


The Reverend Jerry Falwell justly deserves credit as one of the key individuals who brought the values of religion to contemporary American politics. Prior to Falwell, spiritual values were best thought confined to the church or synagogue, not the political party convention or the halls of

After Falwell, of course, things got much better in American politics.

...Falwell ensured that the voice of religion was heard. People of faith like myself are indebted to Rev. Falwell for making sure that religion in America carries real influence.

Yeah, religion always had a hard time in America before Jerry Falwell.

But perhaps Falwell can also be criticized for dividing America.

Possibly. Just possibly. Huh. Falwell?

He fought the religious wars which he felt were necessary against the secularists. Falwell built a religious barricade against the atheist barbarians at the gate. The religious-secular wars that have become so prevalent in modern America can be said to be one of Falwell's enduring legacies. Disunity was the price of creating a more moral America. It was no accident that Falwell called the organization he founded in 1979 The Moral Majority, implying that he would stand up to the immoral minority which was poisoning the country.

BUT COULD not a universal morality have been promulgated that even secularists could have signed on to? Don't non-religious people also believe in ethics?

Well, you see, Shmuley, while it's nice of you to suggest that now, the answer to Falwell and the brethren was and is NO. And since any 'universal morality' Falwell could have come up with would have been disgusting and immoral by the standards of not only secularists but many religious people, myself most emphatically included, I'm having a little trouble imagining this working. Falwell was, emphatically, a divider, not a uniter. If you imagine something else happening you're imagining SOMEONE else. (Maybe a man whose initials are SB?)

Falwell's main error, and that of many of my Christian evangelical brethren, was to so narrowly define morality that it came to mean principally opposition to abortion and gay marriage. He could easily have given morality a far more universal definition that would have had much broader appeal.

First, Falwell and the brethren did not define morality to oppose gay marriage. He defined morality to oppose gay people everywhere. Saying 'gay marriage', a concept that gained no common support until long after the height of Falwell's reign makes it sound as though this was a refined opposition to changing the common social understanding of marriage. Falwell just hated all gays everywhere, and saw them lurking under every bed. He didn't want them to be allowed to own property or vote, much less get married.

And I quote: "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." That was Jerry for ya.

Second, no, he couldn't, Shmuley. Falwell would have rejected that concept, because it would have been giving in to the atheist hordes, speaking not the truth, but the watered down truth that would keep the evil ones in power while things got worse and worse. So basically, this is your idea, not Falwell's idea. You are able to have it because you, like me, are sane. So we can talk about 'universal' morality, but Falwell didn't believe in such an animal.

For example, rather than speak of abortion, he could have spoken of the modern culture of male womanizing which is the principle cause of abortion, men selfishly and irresponsibly using women for their own pleasure and abandoning them when they get pregnant. Even left-wing radical feminists agree that a society that portrays women as the libidinous man's plaything has seriously lost its way.

Even? Even left-wing radical feminists? This one is special. Shmuley, slowly, and from the top here. The second wave of feminism responded, in large part, to a society that "portrays women as the libidinous man's plaything". There were other issues as well, lots of them, but all tied back to the definition of women as sexual and reproductive objects common to American (and world) society prior to the early nineteen-seventies. Falwell did not give a damn about women abandoned by men with pregnancies (and I'm not sure your statistics on the primary cause of abortion are correct, actually), he would have blamed those women for being immoral enough to get in such a fix.

Abortion is the direct product of the misogyny in our culture which encourages young men to use women to indulge their hormonal urges without the commitment of marriage.

I note that young women are assumed here to have no hormonal urges to indulge, and not enough guts to tell the young men to shove it. No, wait, if girls were taught that they didn't have to negotiate sexually for a man's love, they might turn into FEMINISTS!....bwahaha!

Falwell could have reasoned with secularists and told them that even if we can't agree on a woman's right to choose, we can surely agree that a woman shouldn't be put into a situation where she is forced to choose. Women need to be educated to value themselves and demand commitment from a man whose claim to love them is all words and no action.

First, you can't reason with secularists, you should know that, Shmuley. Second, I'm thrilled to find out what women need to be educated to do, by you and Jerry Falwell. Third...oh, never mind. I sort of agree, but my agreement comes out of, among other things, my feminism, and I know how little you and Jerry like the part where I say "And if you do decide to sleep with him, after you know him really well, and both of you understand the possiblities of the relationship, here's your condom supply. Planned Parenthood will give you more."

THE SAME is true of gay marriage. Falwell and other evangelical leaders argued that this is the defining moral issue of our time and, if allowed, would destroy the institution of marriage. But with a 50-percent divorce rate in nearly every Western country, how much of marriage is there left to destroy anyway?

No, once again, get this straight (so to speak) gay marriage was late to the party. Jerry and the brethren believed that homosexuality, a perverse choice to him, was going to destroy civilization as we know it.

Lemme give you Pat Robertson on this: “The concept, the word for homosexual behavior is sodomy. That is what is used in the official documents. It is sodomy. It is repugnant. It has been prohibited and proscribed by sane society throughout countless millennia, centuries. People have understood that it is wrong. Now in America, not only is it happening, it is getting civil rights protection in the law, and these people are invading churches.”

Heterosexuals need no help from gays in eviscerating marriage. We have done a fine job on our own. If the intention was to save the American family, Falwell could have created a broader and more meaningful tent by making the enemy divorce rather than gays; and in the process he would have united both religious and secular to strengthen families rather than divide a nation.

Oh, God, Shmuley, you don't want to see what Jerry would have done with a war on divorce. Here's Pat again, on divorce:

"Why are so many marriages falling apart? Why is the divorce rate so high? ...Why is there such a tragedy in marriage?...Now the basic answer to the basic [problem of marriages today is a question of leadership. The wife actually makes the husband the head of the household and she looks to him and she says 'now you pray, and I'm going to pray for you that the Lord will speak to you."

Shmuley, I am begging you, don't even go there.

I understand how passionately opponents of abortion and gay marriage feel. When it comes to abortion, they believe lives are being destroyed, and they are. But then why don't we see the same adamant religious outcry over Darfur?

From the people we're talking about here, the wacka-wacka religious right? Same reason we hear about Israel but not Darfur from the wacka-wacka religious left. Improving the world is not the actual agenda here.

...NOW, IT'S one thing when politicians drive a wedge in society. But when religion uses the same tactics, it's sacrilege. God, above all else, desires love and unity among this earthly children. America needs unity and who better than religious leaders to provide it?

Cool. Who gets to choose the religious leaders?

Rather than choosing the most divisive moral issues to tear our country asunder, what is needed are religious leaders who use logic, persuasion, and inspiration to argue for a universal morality that even secularists promote. That moral code is the Ten Commandments.

Ohh, ow, my head. Shmuley, gimme a break.

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself an image, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Shmuley, atheists are not going to get on board that, neither are agnostic secularists, neither are polytheists of any variety, neither will religious Americans who believe that you don't try to impose a national religious belief (we like to call that the "Establishment Clause")...and that's before we start arguing about my grandma's statue of the Virgin, or whether yelling "Jesus!" when you stub your toe is wrongful use of the name, or even IS the name.

Most of the rest of the ten are now enshrined in law in some form. (Including Shabbos, although that had to be fought for against union-busting goons who were doing God's work by supporting the bosses against the atheist leftists who were trying to destroy America.) All you're talking about is trying to promote a bunch of workshops where you preach to the choir

Don't religious and secular both agree that respect for parents and elders creates order in a chaotic society? Do we not also agree that living in jealousy for another's possessions or success is the quickest way to destroy one's life? That society is becoming too consumer-oriented and money has become a
currency by which people purchase self-esteem?

Sure, but we also agree that in America you can pursue happiness, and even self-esteem more or less how you want to. I agree, to an extent, about consumerism. I just disagree with the whole underpinnings of this argument.

And if so, should we not create one day a week - a Sabbath - devoted to family and community rather than shopping malls and impulse purchases?

Most Americans actually do this. Some go to church, others to soccer games, some to the mall, yes, but we do actually devote our weekends overwhelmingly to family and community. Just as a point of interest, Rabbi, were we gonna use our Shabbos or theirs for this national escapade?

The Ten Commandments' demands for sexual faithfulness means respect for women, the desexualization of children, teenagers, and other vulnerables.

OK, there's coded messages and dripping condescension here, but also a core message I can respect. It's just that I don't want it in the damn courthouse.

The code demands love of truth, a commitment to family, a respect for other's property, and a devotion to a cause higher than ourselves. Why we ever needed to create an alternate code is beyond me.

Uh, is that the legal code of the United States of America we're talking about here? Please refer to "Massachusetts theocracy", assaults on Quakers, and the Constitution of the United States of America.

America needs unity, now more than ever, and religion should lead the way by creating a universal morality which guarantees shared values.We religious people have seen the enemy and it is not the secular. Often, it is ourselves. And when we fail at motivating people to lead moral lives we should not blame their sinfulness, but our own lack of persuasiveness.

Good argument, and I agree, again to a point. And then...

Shmuley, I don't think there's such an animal out there as a 'universal morality'. Falwell got that, to some extent. I believe, with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my strength, and all my being, that gay couples should be allowed to live openly and freely, and that their love should be honored with the title of marriage, and their children told that their parents are pure and holy people just like Susie's mommy and daddy. That is my religious belief. I also believe, just as strongly, that Jerry Falwell had a right to run around the country talking about the coming of judgement day on account of these folks. That is my political belief. We could not be reconciled religiously, but we coexisted in a secular political structure that made it possible for us both to live and thrive. That is the treasure of America, and that is what I will not give up to the likes of you and Michael Lerner, burbling around and talking about national values and the like, and what I would not give up to the likes of Falwell, who wanted to bring his religion into the halls of government.

One last quote from Jerry for the day: Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.

That's his true legacy. I was raised, taught and inspired by Christians who do not agree.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


It's a little past noon, the fella is napping, I'm making coffee, and...

(that and was the Balabusta realizing that she should have heard the little teapot whistling from the stove some time back, and going to check it out, only to find that she had turned on the wrong burner on the stove. Ah well. Fixed now.)

...and the universe has momentarily stopped. Happy for it to be Shabbos.

I'm still job hunting, and I am hating it, hating it, hating it. I did this last summer, and then two summers before that, and I am tired. I am stressed. I know that as soon as I find something, the angst will go away, but until then I am angsty. And the angst is not helped by the fact that this is the year of work that emphatically got it through to me that teaching middle school in a disfunctional school environment is not for me. And I am ashamed--I should have been perfect, damn it!--and also resentful, and, well, it's not so great.

Interlude: Yesterday, I am standing on the yard doing my recess duty, when Mrs. Ukrainian Teacher, who has my angels for Social Studies, comes up to me and says "So, do you want to hear a story about Dovidl?"

Stories about Dovidl are never good news, but of course I nod, and she tells me that Dovidl, in her class, took off his shoes, then his socks, and then trimmed the nail on his big toe with his teeth.

This kid is in the seventh grade.

I am, of course, trying not scream with laughter, and failing. "What did you do?" I asked.

"I picked up the toenail in a kleenex," says Mrs. Ukrainian Teacher, "and I sent him out of my class."

Well, what else COULD a person have done at that point?

Well, according to our good-for-nothing administration, she should have dealt with it herself by calling his mother. What did she expect the principal to do about this?

The office lady and I are worried about hoof and mouth disease, or athlete's foot of the tongue, or something.

In English, Dovidl took off his shoes again. "No way, Dovid," I said. "I heard about what you did to poor Mrs. Ukrainian Teacher. You're not pulling that here."

In a classroom management book, that would have been that, but this ain't a classroom management book. His eyes glaze over, and he begins to do the fake street slang patter he does when he's being disrespectful. "Hey, hey, hey bro, yeah, uh-huh..." blah blah blah...but eventually the shoes go back on.

Note: I have had to tell more boys this year that I am not their 'bro', their 'bre-bre', their 'homie'...

Anyway, I'm glad it's the weekend.

This job was a serious mistake. The job before it was worse, technically speaking, but I was actually doing a pretty good job there, and would have gotten better, it was just that the administration didn't care for me, and refused to back up teachers with disciplinary problems. (At the VP's insistence, I had this goddamn poster up saying that the first offense was a verbal warning, second, name on board, third, lunch detention, 4th, something else, and fifth you go to the office. The problem was that going to the office meant that you promised the principal you'd behave better in dumb Ms. Bluejeans' class, and then you were released with no consequences. Whoo-hoo!)

But this one was Mission Impossible. I am teaching: seventh grade religion, seventh grade homeroom, which includes PE and all kinds of personalized classroom stuff like you get in elementary school, which I can't do because I'm a zombie, and grades 5 through 8 of English/Literature. No prep period.

I am beating myself up a lot for how badly it turned out.

The second grade teacher tells me that she thinks that the big thing in education is finding your niche. She told me about a friend of hers who taught everything--all the elementary grades, high school, middle school--and finally discovered that kindergarten was the way to go for her.

I'm trying to believe this. I'm thinking that high school might work--or even a middle school setting where I could teach one or two grades, not three in one room, or four through the day.

I'm also thinking about going back to office work for a couple of years, and going after a credential in school counseling.

All this sounds fine, except that I'm broke as hell, tired, and feel like a failure. Also, I'm turning thirty-four in a couple of months, and would like to be getting into some kind of stable position that might allow me to raise a family and put some money in the bank. And for those of you who are about to tell me that thirty-four is an absolute toddler--shut up. I don't mean to be rude, but shut your traps and don't go there. Thirty-four is old enough that I would like some kind of stability, some kind of professional reputation, and enough money to have a baby and start socking away for retirement. Smile a kindly "Oh, you'll know how stupid this sounds when you're fifty-six" smile at me, and I will go RABID.

On the plus sides--I get out of this rat trap. Mrs. Ukrainian Teacher is stuck in place for now, and not too happy about it. Also, I have a bunch of half-written novels, and maybe if I'm in a less horrible job I'll have time to write--and I think I might be a really good school counselor. Or maybe an MFT. We'll see.

I am so glad the week is over.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Matters of Precedence

OK, here's an etiquette issue:

My wedding officiant, Rabbi Bruriah, is of an age I will hazily place as early to mid forties. In attendence at the wedding, hopefully, will be the rabbi of my old synagogue, who is a charming eightysomething Yeky with a cute accent, and his lovely wife, also the darlin' priest from my father's parish, who is in his late fifties.

Given the roughly equal religious ranks of these person, who gets introduced to whom? I assume that, between the men, age indicates the order of precedence, so Father gets introduced to Rabbi Sr., and to his wife, whom I am forbidden to call 'Rebbetzin'.

Between rabbis, and between Rabbi B. and Father, who gets presented to whom? Rabbi Sr. is, after all, a rabbi of great authority, and twice Rabbi B.'s age, but according to Emily Post, a gentleman is ALWAYS presented to a lady, regardless of seniority. However, some sites I've looked at seem to indicate that deference is not based on gender in a business setting. This is my wedding, not a business setting, but they have a collegial relationship.

Is this important? This is not important. But inquiring minds want to know. Is there anything in Gemara about who gets presented to whom when a Catholic priest meets a somewhat younger lady rabbi?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Oh, Good Grief--Roseanne?

You know, I sometimes think that the world is populated by two different kinds of people. Those who have said some dumb-ass thing about Israel that antagonizes me, and those who haven't yet.

Normally, I deeply resent this situation. It hinders me. It has made it impossible in the past for me to become an intense left-wing activist like I wanted to when I was in my early twenties, and it prevented me from buying the cool hot-pink sweatshop-labor-free Converse sneakers I wanted a couple years ago (because it was a fundraiser for Code Pink). It has made it impossible for me to publicly protest the war in Iraq surrounded by thousands of other wrought-up sign-wavers, and it has tainted my previous general appreciation of Jimmy Carter. It places my local tabloid weeklies off-limits--I now pick up the SF Weekly, read _Savage Love_, and ditch the rest.

Apparently, Roseanne Barr has now blogged:

...I could never host...any network show, because I have opinions that are not sanctioned by the powers that be who refuse to allow even one dissenting voice over the airwaves of television(in this a "free" country).

I truly believe that millions of jews are not zionists, and that even if they are, they do not support Israeli occupation. I believe that Jews all over this planet choose peace in the middle east over the never ending death machine of hatred and division and terror that exists there now.

I am a kabbalist, as was Jesus Christ...(the one whom I follow). He tells me to seek first the Kingdom inside of my soul, and leave the rest to Him. I must in good conscience speak out against injustice especially when the agents of that injustice invoke God. Some blogger calls me a religious bigot for saying these things, and for saying that it takes lots of ritual abuse of children to turn out a "believer". Guilty as charged, and ready to burn at the stake if called to.

Well, I was never that attached to Roseanne. I'm intrigued to learn that Jesus was a kabbalist--I expect that Jesus would also be intrigued to learn that he was a kabbalist--and, um...

Thank God for Julie Burchill. That's all I've got to say.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I HATE AC Transit

OK, so this morning, noon, I had an appointment with a high school for an English teaching position. 11: 10 I left the house.

12:10 the 11:21 bus came.

The lady was gone by the time I arrived.

I hate AC transit.

Wedding Progress

A few notes. These are a touch out of date, but I thought I'd post them anyhow...

1. It is an interesting challenge to incorporate an Irish theme into a Jewish wedding. I am considering,after this experience, opening a Cafepress storecalled JudeoCeltia. I have found a pretty chuppah in a knotwork pattern on one site, and have sent the picture on to Groomra for consideration.

2. I'm trying to start to work on the wedding itself. What about the God language? “Is Groomra going to ‘now kiss the bride’”, asks my mother, “or will you be frum?”Do we use any of the language from the Book of CommonPrayer? To have and to hold? In sickness and in health? Love, honor and cherish? I do? (Groomra ’s call. If it’s significant to him...)

3. “Have you considered,” asks my ever-prepared mother, “what you’ll do if Rabbi Bruriah (the new nom de guerre of our officiant) can’t make it to the wedding? God forbid it should be an emergency, butwhat if Rabbi Bruriah gets a flat tire on the morningof the wedding and can’t make it? What if the bridge is closed?” I also need to check with Rabbi Bruriah as regards our ketubah. To some degree, this is a real formality,since the wedding has absolutely no halachic significance. Some of the headaches caused by feminism, feuding texts, concerns about a possible future get, etc., are totally bypassed by marrying a gentile. This frees me up to worry about things like finding a printer that will do both Hebrew and knotwork, and what we will do if the rabbi gets trapped in an elevator.

4. The issue of what the mothers will wear at the wedding is going to be an interesting one. Groomra’smother called to ask what she should wear. “Wear whatever you like,” I answered. I’m not dressing my bridesmaids in matching pastel outfits, and I’m sure not going to dictate to my future mother-in-law what she should wear. I’ve been amazed by the venom that gets spilled in the brides-online world about thewhole issue of who wears what, and who pays for the outfits...aaagh. Not going there.

So: “Wear whatever you want,” I say. “Don’t tell me that!” says Ima shel Grooma. All right, this is a rather casual lady, and I guess“whatever you want” would be sweats, which would be OKby me, but she sounds doubtful, so I reassess.“Wear whatever Tante shel Groomra tells you to,” I say, referring to her partner, and Groomra’s other mom, a more conservative individual, with a greater sense of conventional propriety. So that’s taken care of--I hope they don’t get the idea they need to put ISG into pantyhose or something, but it’s up to them, or rather, to TSG.

We also need to get something for my mother to wear, and this is a closer-to-home headache. Mrs. Bluejeans does not like to shop. Mrs. Bluejeans REALLY does notlike to shop. The prospect of choosing amother-of-the-bride outfit is already affecting her,and we have several months to go. God willing, one ofthe couple of clothing stores she likes will produce an elegant ensemble in purple in the next couple of months and we’ll be done.

5. My father, who likes to shop, is carefully planning his clothes. He is also reading up on the duties of the father of the bride, which I think have mostly traditionally been to pay for everything--and apparently staying sober is also considered important.He is also now the self-appointed attache on shul security matters to the Bluejeans-Fella wedding.

In addition, I now have another lead on a wedding dress, have been turned down by two caterers and am making contact with another, and, oh, every bloody thing. Wish me well.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dancing At My Wedding

I was bat mitzvah in 1986, and my grandparents--both my grandmothers and my grandpa--came to the ceremony and the party, and they were all in their sixties, and they drove themselves, and they danced. My Catholic grandma accidentally genuflected while she was getting into her seat. (This embarassed her no end, as she was convinced the rabbi would be mortally offended, but the faux pas, if faux pas it was, was wiped out a second later, as my Aunt Yocheved announced at top volume "My! What a YOUNG rabbi!")

Twenty years later, we're going back for my wedding, and my grandparents aren't in their sixties any more. (I guess I thought they'd be spry and salt-and-pepper forever.) My grandpa died three years ago. My mother's mother suffered a stroke not long after that, and is in a long, slow recovery, thank God. My father's mother is fragile, and had been increasingly suffering from dementia.

Late last week we got a series of calls that seemed to indicate that things were really wrong with my dad's mother. She called in hysterics saying that my aunt and uncle, who she lives with, had kidnapped her, and asking my father to send the San Francisco PD to save her. (They live in San Diego. In the background of her SOS call, the kidnappers could be heard offering cardigans, and asking if she wanted to sit down somewhere more comfortable with the phone). Shortly after, we got news that her doctor has found a number of almost-certainly-cancerous growths in several places, and that the dementia was kicking up. My aunt told us that if we wanted to see her, we had better come quickly.

My father and I took off, and spent the weekend and most of Monday in San Diego. We're going to go back over Mother's Day weekend.

I'm really glad that we went. She actually was doing better by the time we got there, and we talked for quite a long time. She's frail, tiny--she's never liked to eat, and has always been slight, and now she's like a little bird. Ankles I could put my fist around. And her short-term memory is shot, and her long-term memory fades in and out randomly, and sometimes when we're talking I'm me, and sometimes I'm my mother, and sometimes I'm a total stranger and she looks confused when people call me by my name, because it was also her mother's name. But her sense of herself is still strong, and her unmistakable personality is intact. And I'm dealing.

"We can't plan as far ahead as August," my uncle told me. "We're living day to day right now." "Look," I told him. "If she's well enough to travel in August, and wants to come, it will be a huge blessing, and if not, we'll still be all right." And I told my aunt on the other side of the family something similar when I wrote about the wedding. My mother's mother is going in for cataract surgery and is still fragile. I don't know if travel is in the cards. But I'm dealing. My three grandparents between them have given me so much. I would love for them to dance at my wedding, or at least be there. (And typing this is making me cry.) But we'll have to see, and I will have them all in my heart, (and the grandmas on the phone), if that's what we can manage.

Forgive Me Father, I'm In The Second Grade

Tonight, the St. Colmcille kids and the kids from the local Spanish-language catechism classes fuse together into one big mob of 66 kids, and proceed to St. Colmcille Church for First Reconciliation (that's the Sacrament Formerly Known As Confession for those of you who have not been paying attention in catechism class). The kids are going to be reconciled with God and their own consciences. The St. Colmcille community is having to be reconciled with the fact that we didn't know that the kids from the Spanish-language classes were going to be there too. It's going to be a long ceremony, and thank goodness I'm skipping it.

Everyone will be reconciled in the end, but I'm worried about the priests. There are going to be two of them. Two priests. Sixty-six kids making their first confession. Can you imagine listening to the confession of and absolving thirty-three second graders in a row?

ForgivemeFatherforIhavesinnedthisismyfirstconfession. I hit my little sister. I was mean to my brother. I took my mom's lipstick and made a hopscotch on the sidewalk. I called my mom a bad name. I hit my little brother. I took my dad's keys and dropped them down the garbage disposal, and then I forgot I did it, and my mom turned the disposal on. I yelled at my best friend. I took another cupcake at a birthday part and lied and said it was my first cupcake. I broke my friend's pencil. I was really mad at my dad and talked back to him. I hit my cousin. I took a cookie without asking. I lost three jackets already this year, and my aunt says she's not made out of money. I called my teacher a bad name and stuck my tongue out. I accidentally told my grandmother that my father took out a second mortgage on our house, and now everyone is mad at me. I was mean to my sister. I talked back to my grandma. I accidentally killed my goldfish. I didn't do my homework. I hit my best friend. I wouldn't go to sleep when my babysitter said. I hit my sister. I lied about my homework. I said I hated the principal. I stole a condom from my uncle and unrolled it and put it in my teacher's desk because she made me stay in for lunch. I hit my big sister. I am very sorry for these and all my other sins that I can't remember, and you're hurting my feelings by giggling, Father, I worked hard on this confession with Mrs. Tierney.

I don't know how long it takes to confess thirty-three kids, but I know that they would have to take me to a locked ward afterward. Perhaps they train you for this in seminary, making you watch endless looped kid confessions in some kind of VR helmet?