Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gesundheit!

We went to T's family for Shabbos, expecting to return sometime over the long weekend. It wasn't to be. Motza"sh, T sneezed and her back went out. The MRI on Sunday (try getting any medical care on a holiday weekend!) showed a herniated disc.

Here's where the Gushers come in, bear with me. You see, in between each vertebra in the spinal column is a disc that serves as a joint (to allow slight movement of the vertebrae), a ligament (to hold the vertebrae together), and a shock absorber (protecting each vertebra from everyday trauma).
The disc is like a jelly doughnut or a Gusher- it has a tough outside composed of several layers of fibrocartilage, and a viscous inside. When there's a tear in the outer layer, the inner gel prolapses, it slides out from its usual position and presses on a nerve root.

The result? Intense back and leg pain. So T's been in bed since then, except for the trip to the MRI and to go to the bathroom. I've been helping her all along (throwing out my back a bit in the process). She's getting better, ever so slowly. It's really tough for her, but she's reading her third book of the week and she's watched a few movies, so she manages to pass the time.

As for me, I'm going a bit stir crazy living here at my in-laws' for the week. Everyone asks how T is, what would she like, can they make her some food, etc. No one really asks about me, I sort of fade into the background. It'll be nice to have our life back.

Get it, back? Oy vey...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turophiles, unite!

Behold
the
power
of
cheese!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling elicited by arriving home to find 12 lbs. of cheese on your doorstep. Cheese is not much more than curdled milk, but it can be oh so magical. Cabot Creamery produced a limited run, produced under OU supervision, of its award-winning sharp cheddar to test the kosher market demand. I took orders from neighbors in my building and ordered a case.

It arrived yesterday, all 18 bars of it. When people came to pick up their cheese (one person ordered 6 bars!), they were filled with joy. If you want to bring שמחה to someone’s life, give them cheese, please.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Discipline soured (check the date)

The pressure’s increasing, but I’m doing (mostly) ok.  It’s sort of like a black hole, increasingly great quantities of schoolwork are being squeezed into an ever-shrinking timeframe with deadlines approaching at nearly the speed of light.  Maybe as the deadlines get closer, time will slow down.  The deadlines will get closer and closer slower and slower, so that I’ll have an infinite amount of time to do less than infinite work.

YES! That is how I will get through grad school!  Unfortunately, it also means my internet connection will be equally lentitudinous (to use a seasonally appropriate word of different etymology than the Catholic season- huh?  Well, lentus in Latin means “slow,” whereas “Lent” is short for “Lenten,” which refers to spring in Old English, probably from langez in Middle High German means “long” because in the spring the days get longer).

You know, the whole point of this post was to toot my own horn that I worked all day Wednesday (except for a three-hour nap, but I needed that) instead of procrastinating.  But what happened?  I got caught up in etymological irrelevance and procrastinated my way over to the OED.

It’s because I’m tired.  I’ve been tired since yesterday afternoon, after a busy day.  But I did go to minyan today.  Yay me.

Shabbat Shalom, y’all    

Friday, March 10, 2006

A baker's life for me

It’s always exciting doing a מצוה for the first time, even if it is דרבנן. Last week my mother asked me about it and I realized it hadn’t even occurred to me. I guess taking challah is not just a feminist’s mitzvah. Or maybe the fact that I’m doing it is a feminist statement. Well, a masculist statement. Well, it just means that anyone can do whatever they want to do (within reason) without defining strict roles or chores for each gender, though I believe that some of these are strictly male or female, sometimes from a social perspective (a male parent can never be a mother) or religious (some prescriptives of the תורה and הלכה are not flexible or subject to human judgement).

Anyway, it all started with this from allrecipes.com:

Best Bread Machine Bread
Submitted by: Karen K "This recipe is easy and foolproof. It makes a very soft and tasty loaf of bread with a flaky crust."
Original recipe yield: 1 - 1 1/2 pound loaf.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  2. 2 tablespoons white sugar

  3. 1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast

  4. 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  5. 3 cups bread flour

  6. 1 teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS:
Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.

I added some chopped onion, thyme, and rosemary. We’ll see how it goes. We’re visiting friends and going to a shabbaton on Torah and environmentalism. Should be interesting.
G’bye!


Update: I goofed- the שעור for challah is 5 cups of flour. If you're baking with less than that, you don't take challah or make a bracha.

Like sand through the hourglass...



I feel like I’m falling behind in school. Now, my classmates generally feel the same way, but I really am in trouble. Sure, that’s what they all say.

In actuality, I’ll probably squeeze by like I always do. You see, I’m Mr. Last-Minute. I don’t know why I am, it just makes things more stressful, but that’s what I do and that’s what I’ve always done. When I should be working, I’m doing things like this (although I think I really don’t post to my blog enough) or just generally spacing out online, making myself more tired and lethargic.

This week was a doozy. Officially it’s Spring Break, but it’s more like a reading week, since we start midterms next week. I’ve been so draggy and lethargic all week. Let’s see, what did I do?
Monday- nuthin’
Tuesday- more nuthin’ (although I forced myself out to dinner with T when her two-week
crazy-making project at work was finished)
Wednesday- a little less nuthin’ (superficially reading a few pages of my notes)
Thursday- actual studying (though not much) and going to school for a Stats review

I kept to the apartment except to move the car for alternate side parking. The weather has been getting progressively nicer this week and I always am surprised my how nice and bright it is when I step outside. Out apartment is dim and gloomy, even with the lights on. When we move, it’s got to be somewhere with more natural light. This literal valley of shadows we live in presently is too much.

Basically, I felt this week like I was devoid of resources to deal with the world. I knew it wasn’t permanent, I just wanted the world to stop for a while until I caught up. Obviously this worries me in terms of school, but as I said before, I usually come out ok. It does strike me as a negative prognostic indicator for my ability to handle my responsibilities when we have a baby, בעזרת השם.
T’s work so far has really put me in the position of homemaker and keeper. Now, I’m also supposed to be doing my schoolwork. When we have a baby and she returns to work, I will have added responsibilities. Now, I know that all the millions of parents out there have responsibilities they didn’t used to. What worries me is that this new state of affairs will mean I have to be diligent all around in all my responsibilities, no time wasted.

The long and short of it is that this week showed me I have a long way to go in terms of discipline and diligence.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

No rest for the weary

T. and I have been so tired today.  Busy weekend, busy week before that.  There’s so much to do.  I don’t know how she does it, she’s been plugging away all afternoon.  I’ve been trying, haven’t been procrastinating like I usually do, but haven’t made it very far.  The bleary-eyed are no less bleary-eyed and still they march.  Such is life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Huh? Wuh...? Ooaaaaoooghoooohhh......

I woke up this morning at about 5 AM, not on purpose.  I made my online reservation for the Genius Bar, to have them check out (and hopefully replace) my iPod today.  I went to the 7 o’clock minyan and went to bed when I came back, around 8 AM.  I was deep into my much needed sleep when the doorbell (well, not as much a bell as much as a hair-raising buzzer) buzzed.  It was the cleaning lady.  I was jarred as anything.  There was only one of her, but I saw three when I answered the door and let her in.
It was painful.  But I eventually woke up.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It ain't all free food and ID badges

The bleary-eyed grad student heads for bed.
לילה טוב

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

משתדל בתשובה

Amazing what can happen over a few hours.  I went to my first class today, behavior therapy.  It reignited my passion for what I do, and reminded me of what I used to do at work, how I used to help people.  Dr. L’s analytic streak (streak?!  that’s all he is!) has grated on me for some time now.  Freudians, neo- or otherwise, read too much into things.  Period.

Well, after that, I did a little shopping before I went home.  I fell into my old mindset and habits, victim (resigned, willing victim that I am) of תאווה.  I felt myself gravitating towards the event horizon, already saw it as my future, and felt it in my body even as my conscience tried to wrest my future back from the damaging forces of mind.  I had to try something because really, I don’t want to fall.  So I put on some Aaron Razel for my drive home.  He’s a master of inspiring music.  If you’re down, in whatever way, his music can do wonders.  I’m not saying it always, or even usually does.  But it can.

I went to shul for Mincha/Ma’ariv and the rabbi asked to be ש"ץ.  That was exactly what I needed.  Placed at the front of the minyan, their emissary and connection to God for these few moments in a drab basement the same time as thousands of other minyanim in my city.  It’s a small role, most mitpallelim mindlessly aware of the prayers unfolding before them, just as I usually pray, but it’s huge.  I feel re-oriented and re-focused.

When I got back home (after stopping off to buy T another food-related present/surprise), I found the neighbor kids singing, performing their own הכנסת תורה.  One of them had received a new paper scroll, complete with velvet deckele.  The others joined in with their paper ספרי תורה and marched off, the beaming leader holding his new prize possession aloft as his talit slipped off his shoulders.  Such sweet kinderlach, such sweet  Yiddishkeit.  How can a weak-willed sinner and struggling repentant not be moved?

May this inspiration last.

Fine feathered friends get soggy feathers when it rains

I emailed some friends in Israel to say hi. They’re not doing so well. Life can be really hard even for people who aren’t “suffering.” But we all have to go on. Sometimes it’s ok to be sad or lonely, you don’t have to put on your happy face if you don’t feel like it.

I realized for myself and for them how important it is to have friends. A loving spouse is a blessing from God, but when the two of you are going through the hardships of life, it can be important to have others on whose shoulders you can cry. Sometimes you even get to let your hair down a little more with friends because you don’t have to be as strong and stable as for your spouse.

On Friday night in shul, I met an old friend of mine. We’ve been meaning to reconnect on and off for months and months. Now it’s on again. He asked me if I would be his friend. Oy, such a sweet human being as he is shouldn’t be so needful of a good friend. He was married, but his wife was not his friend. It is an honor for me to be his friend, but I have to work on staying in touch with people even though my life feels so busy (or so tiring) all the time.

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה, I am personally responsible for my brother’s welfare and I know it’s good for myself, too.

Love someone today,
P.H.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Greetings from the future

Well it's been a while, but I've been inspired to continue my blog, after a very long hiatus.

So what's happened since then? Well, you'll find out along the way, but here are the headlines:
I got my applications out, had a couple of interviews, and was accepted to a great Ph.D. program. Tomorrow I begin my second semester and am looking forward to continuing my work. School is a lot of work, but I'm growing, not feeling as stagnant as I did at work. I do miss having my own office sometimes.

T finished school and passed the Bar exam. She was offered a job on the spot at her second interview (though the job search was frustating and anxiety-ridden) and is now working at a well-known firm that is not a sweatshop. She loves what she's doing and we have an income again!!

And of course, you're all wondering- we didn't win the eBay auction but did end up buying a beautiful (not too expensive) cherry dining room table and chairs from Ethan Allen.

להתכתב,
P.H.