Thursday, September 22, 2011

Burning Down the House

From Merry Old England comes a mega-depressing story about how riots by rabidly anti-Israel protestors -- most of them Palestinian -- in London's Covent Gardens succeeded in closing down the Ahava store, leading purveyor of Dead Sea beauty products.

Reminds me of how different Europe and the United States are though surely similar protests have started here. I will remain optimistic that public outcry would prevent such a thing -- the actual shuttering of a business -- from happening on American soil.

This story reinforces my belief that European anti-Semitism did not end in the post-Shoah era; it just became unbearably gauche...for, oh, about half a century.

Now it has become socially acceptable as long as it masquerades as anti-Zionism.

Ironic note: Ahava means LOVE.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dip Your Apple!

As I wrote yesterday, the hoofbeats of the High Holidays are coming ever, why not do some hoofing of your own to the tune of "Dip Your Apple" the YouTube delight by my friends -- the Ein Prat Fountainheads of Israel.

Join me this Sunday at the JCC in Manhattan at 4:10 p.m. for a joyous outdoors FlashMob dance. The dance is but one component of a great happening that begins at 2:30 with the first-ever global Shofar FlashMob. The Shofar FlashMob is a production of Art Kibbutz NYC.

The awesome yet easy choreography for "Dip Your Apple" is below, much to the mortification of all my family members.

And join me again NEXT SUNDAY at 5 pm at the fountain at Columbus Circle where we will do it again!

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Being on My Best Behavior

Little Babe is an 11th grader.

Little Babe is in 11th grade.

Little Babe is a High School Junior.

No matter how many ways I phrase it, I simply do not believe it, even after spending more than three hours last night traipsing from session to session with similarly bleary-eyed parents of my son's schoolmates at the Open House program of the excellent SAR High School in Riverdale; even after being reassured by my older kids that there are things about their little brother I do not know. (I was a teen during the seventies. How shocked would I be?)

Little Babe is reading Hemingway and Twain and Fitzgerald and Salinger and Buber and Agnon.

Little Babe is thinking of colleges and whether he wants to spend his gap year in Israel.

Little Babe has a NY State Learner's Permit and can apply for his license in February after 50 hours of accompanied driving.

Little Babe has sideburns and furry legs that remind me of our Pomeranians.

Little Babe does stuff I will never be able to, like create original songs on Garage Band.

Little Babe...okay, enough of these expressions of shock and awe, the melodramatic moaning over the passage of time and life's ephemeral nature and gosh, but they grow up so darn fast!

My youngest kid has passed the midpoint of his adolescence, yes, but what I wanted to note is the fact that because he is back in school, I have to adjust my affect, brush up on my behavior, vacuum my vocabulary, hide evidence of excessive pursuits of fun and modify my summer self until I morph back into something resembling a responsible mother.

I must suddenly exude the aura of one who reads The Wall Street Journal and not The Weekly World News (now online); one who fears Internet predators and isn't a cyber-stalker herself; one who frets over grades and nutrition.

(I actually do care -- deeply -- about nutrition and a bit about grades but over the summer all bets are off and it's hard kicking my butt back into gear. See my previous post.)

I should really stop feeling sorry for myself; after all, this metamorphosis happens every year. At the first event of the school year, I'm conscious of arriving just a tad too tanned, a little too loose-limbed, a couple of degrees too casual. Even at a school like SAR which taunts me with visions of WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN had it only existed when I was a turbulent teen, I have to fight the impulse to sneer at the idea of sitting still at a desk, chase away cynical thoughts about everything from the curriculum to the outfit the teacher is wearing, suppress mean thoughts about my peers, i.e. -- the other parents.

Just like a high schooler, I note those who are small and those who are large... especially those who are thinner than me. (A growing number.)  I take mental stock of fashionable attire...or the lack thereof. I catalog visible signs of aging. I stare in chagrin at the svelte, well-dressed, supernaturally young-looking women, mentally accusing them of Botox, liposuction and anorexia, not to mention prescription drug abuse.  I surreptitiously stare at the good-looking guys.  (A shrinking number.)

I wonder how I rank.

It is raining outside. Though the weather is warm, summer is unquestionably over. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone. The hoofbeats of the High Holidays are getting closer.

Both in school and out of school, the transformation is underway -- spirit of the summer wind captured and cultivated, sculpted into something that looks like an adult woman, someone's mother.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life After Drinking...Four Days In

In the middle of my year at J School I was fond of joking to my friends that I had become an alcoholic.

This joke had great resonance because I have been known as such a health fiend that people still think I am a vegetarian decades after I became an omnivore, believe that I live at the gym, refuse to eat sugar or refined carbs, eschew coffee for green tea, down herbs and supplements and am generally virtuous to the point of obsession.

There is some justification for this image. I do go to the gym or exercise nearly every day of the week. I am on constant carb patrol. I only started drinking coffee in earnest in my late 30's and am a proponent of green tea and its healthful properties. I read food ingredients religiously. I took a course in herbal medicine. I enlisted midwives for the births of my two younger children...being greatly critical of the conventional medical approach to pregnancy and childbirth.

Therefore, the image of myself as a raging alcoholic was comical to me more than anyone the way that it is amusing to see your straight-laced aunt get plastered at a family Bar Mitzvah.

As someone who barely needs substances to do wacky things, wine and tequila tend to push me waaaaay over the top. Which is a fun fact, except in the opinion of a select few family members who do not relish the sight of me singing in karaoke bars, dancing with strangers or making provocative pronouncements.

But the wake-up call came as I realized that the price of being constantly drunkish was -- HORRORS!!! -- weight gain.

After posting on Facebook about the dark lining on the silver cloud of drinking mid-summer, which sparked dozens of responses, I realized I wasn't alone. The battle of Booze vs. Body is waged by many, mostly women, it seems, though some men weighed in (pardon the pun) with one concerned fellow giving me his cellphone number in case I needed "to talk."

Yet I let things coast during the summer months, working by day, living La Vida Loca by night, becoming a 50-year-old party girl with eating habits that were more appropriate to, say, a teenage boy.

That is, potato chips suddenly became a food group in my personal pyramid. Ten string cheeses seemed an appropriate dinner choice. Popcorn was my friend. Pizza (okay, without the crust, but still) was a perfect lunch. Ooey gooey power bars looked like dinner. I wasn't eating a lot...just the wrong stuff.

HOWEVER...with the return to my urban life (farewell Love Shack, closed up this past Sunday!) the extra poundage has compelled me to change my lifestyle. After all, I've got miniskirts to rock, cute dresses to zip over my hips, bodices that do not accommodate my suddenly-zaftig bosom.

Stay tuned for news of my post-alcoholic life, which includes a nutritional overhaul as well. Farewell potato chips. String cheese, it's been good to know ya. There are other measures as well, including those that have to be squeezed, those that are sprinkled over salad and those that are sold at Vitamin Shoppe.

Also, as the daughter of a shrink, I'm curious to find out just what lies beneath my recently-discovered love of being blitzed, interested in seeing what my life looks like without the filter of booze, wondering whether my adventures in alcohol were just that...or something else; liquid escape, a form of self-medication.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Bungalow of the Mind

Was it the late night hamburger and french fries at Noah's Ark on Grand Street? The two glasses of wine prior to that at the Embodied Light exhibition opening at the Educational Alliance? The frenzied, hour-long exercise-fest at the JCC?  The trip to Lincoln Center earlier to scout out a location for the September 18th Shofar FlashMob? Work-related emails that were read and responded to starting at 11 p.m.?

Or was it the driving, incessant rain that turned the Hudson River red, flooded roads, wrecked my hair as I dashed to meetings and parties and soaked my sneakers as I dragged Alfie and Nala outside on walks? Locally, the rain is but a mild manifestation of the wrathful weather experienced by neighboring states and communities; still, it serves to literally wash away memories of the summer that was, the long, sun-soaked days, the view from the porch of my bungalow,  Shabbat walks along quiet roads, peaceful floating in Walton Lake, the skunks, deer and raccoons, a season that played hard to get and then refused to linger.

Perhaps it is the cumulative stress from the dozens of hours I spent in my car over the past week, sitting in weather and weekend-related traffic; perhaps it is dismay relating to plans that were ruined. Maybe it has to do with a grander and sadder matter relating to the weather...the awareness that Planet Earth is showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress from the abuse she has suffered at humankind's hand.

It could be a million things and it probably is. On Monday morning we packed up our belongings and moved back to Manhattan. There were many events over the weekend, a visit from my sister, a wedding, celebratory dinners, hours lost in rural New Jersey, a trip to Connecticut, just on the border of Massachusetts. I am surely sleep-deprived. I could be eating better. I could be drinking less.

And then, spread out like a canopy that all but blocks our view of the sky, is the impending anniversary of September 11, 2001 in New York City. Normally drawn to the maudlin and melancholy, I find myself unable to tune in to anything commemorative so I tune out. Emotionally, that is. I show up at the events and the exhibition openings. I even contribute my memories and thoughts. I listen and applaud. I nod. I look like I am paying attention.

But I am not here now. I am a million miles away. I am in a place that is eternal summer. I am elsewhere, residing in a bungalow of the mind.