Friday, October 30, 2009

This joke isn't funny

G-d is currently playing some kind of cosmic joke on me. And I don't think it's very funny.

It all started last week. I've been planning a big training for work, and I've been trying to stay focused on it. Then, things started happening that kept keeping me from my training preparations. Suddenly there was a large report due (that hadn't been there before) and I had to spend 2 days working on details for that. Then, just as suddenly, the report was not needed. So I got back to my training.

Then, my boss got sick. Like: flu sick. I kept on planning and prepping for the training, and my boss got sicker. Mind you, I'm supposed to be doing this training WITH my boss. You know where this is going, right?

Now my boss is too sick to come to the training (it's on Monday). Five people are FLYING here from all across the country for the training, and my boss is too sick to attend. So I have to do it. I was supposed to be second string, and now: I'm the string.

Come on. Where's the joke?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life and death

Since the health care reform debate began (and its accompanying myths and untruths), I've come across many articles lately in the blogosphere about medicine and its relationship to "the big questions": questions of life and death.

Some of these include questions from the beginning of life: when does life really begin? when is it okay to have an abortion, and when isn't it? and who gets to decide? why is a fetus of a certain age viable and worthy of medical treatment when others aren't? what of informing parents that their baby has Down Syndrome? should they be counseled to continue the pregnancy or to end it? or should they be counseled at all?

And the converse, questions from the end of life: when is it time to die? should we do everything we can to save someone who is clearly dying? when have we tried enough, and we need to say "let nature take its course"? How do we best spend the end of our lives? in a hospital bed? at home? in hospice? and who gets to decide?

My own recent medical experiences have made me realize that while doctors know a lot, they don't know everything. Medicine is still often more of an art than a science. Many decisions rely on the experience of the doctor, and even on their gut feelings about a case. Given that, do we want doctors making these sorts of life and death decisions for us? Or worse, do we want legislators making these decisions?

The reality is that these sorts of life and death decisions are often made without clear guidelines. If we are lucky, we have doctors, nurses, counselors, or others to help us through these difficult decisions. But often we are left alone. Or we are left with the legal system, which isn't always a very empathic friend.

It's ironic that two of the major sticking points of the health care reform debate -- the so-called "death panels" and public funding of abortion -- have to do with these very issues. I guess everyone feels some discomfort when confronted with these gray areas.

Wendy, a fellow Oberlin alum, wrote a very poignant piece about this issue in Newsweek last year. She says:
As I reflect on this experience (the death of her father), I keep thinking that with some small changes in how we as a society approach death and dying, we could make this a better experience for everyone. In school, we should teach not just about health but about the changes to the body that accompany death and dying. Give students words of comfort and acknowledgment. They will surely have opportunities to use these words with friends and family members, even in childhood.
We are a death-denying culture and by not being open about death and dying, we leave ourselves unprepared to face other deaths and, ultimately, our own.

P.S. I wrote this about a month ago, and since I seem to have no time to post these days, I'm finally posting this one. More soon, hopefully.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crisis of faith

The High Holidays tend to throw me for a loop, faith-wise, as I've mentioned before. I end up feeling so disconnected and uninspired that I need to go to a bunch of regular services for a while, just to get back in the swing of things.

This year, however, I'm having some trouble getting back in the swing of things.

I've been thinking about Judaism, and how (at least in Conservative Judaism) the emphasis seems to be on "doing what you are supposed to do according to Jewish law" as opposed to feeling connected or inspired or uplifted. It's about doing, not feeling. Or as the saying goes, do first, and the feelings will follow. But right now: it's not working for me.

Right now, for whatever reason, I'm not satisfied with my religious experience. I don't want to just go through the motions. I want to feel something. Maybe this is part of my recovery from cancer. Or maybe it's something else.

I'm tired of the old, boring translations in the siddur. I'm tired of the fast, rote repetitions of prayers in minyan. I'm tired of being told what I should do, what I should feel, what I should believe.

Not sure what it's going to take to get me out of this religious funk. But I hope something gets me out of it soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Get your paws off my son

I knew this day would arrive, but I really didn't expect it to arrive so soon. My son is being pursued by someone of the female persuasion. And she's using all her feminine wiles, all of her cunning, to capture his attention. She has promised him video games, movies, food, and basketball.

They have a play-date scheduled for next week at her house.

Part of me is proud. My son is very handsome (well, I think so...) and he's quite a nice kid. Intelligent, friendly. I don't blame her for being interested in him.

On the other hand...he is only ten. It's a bit early for this kind of thing, isn't it?

So now J is intrigued by this upcoming "play-date" but also terribly embarrassed by the prospect of anyone finding out about it. He isn't really interested in this girl, at least not in the way she appears to be interested in him. I don't think he's really interested in girls at all yet.

Not sure exactly how this will all play out. Time will tell.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Lately I've been feeling very dissatisfied with my little house. A and J and I live in a small, unrenovated, unenhanced 3 bed 1-1/2 bath colonial. We have lived in this house for 11 years, and we haven't replaced the carpeting, haven't repainted the walls, haven't redone the kitchen or bathrooms, haven't built an addition. Let's just say we aren't keeping up with the neighbors.

Now granted, when we moved in, we were increasing our space by 100 percent. But now, 11 years later, that much larger space feels kind of small.

So I've been feeling dissatisfied.

Last night, I attended a dinner, and the speaker was from a local agency that provides clothing, household goods, and the like to homeless families around Boston. They are a very grass-roots operation that literally takes the donations, sorts them by size, receives a call from a shelter, pulls the items that the family needs and takes them to the shelter. Right then and there.

Listening to the speakers talk about homeless families, and how all they want is a place of their own -- a bed, a stove, some dishes, some clothing -- and to be together, I felt very humbled. Yes, I may want more, but there are many who have nothing. It was a good reminder.

Friday, October 09, 2009

What if women didn't have breasts anymore?

While A Mother In Israel objected to this film and wrote a sharp critique about it, I actually found it amusing and pretty tongue-in-cheek overall, and much less offensive than this one. Both films take the approach of using men's desire of breasts in order to promote breast cancer awareness, which certainly is an odd strategy. More than anything, I found the final conversation between the father and son in this video (below) to be quite powerful. Take a look.

I kissed a girl - part 3

Perhaps you aren't familiar with the Katy Perry song "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It"? My son was obsessed with it for a while last year. I wrote about it here and here.

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry Chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight...

Why am I bringing this up again, you ask? Well... I'll tell you.

I was home last week with a "sick" child (long story...) and I flipped on some afternoon TV. (Note to self: don't watch any more afternoon TV. It's terrible.) I happened across the Tyra Banks Show, which is generally amusing, but she was featuring two young women who decided that it was fun to a) go to bars and drink b) offer to kiss each other in exchange for more drinks. They call themselves "bar-sexuals". They claim that they are definitely not gay, or bi-sexual, and they just do it for fun and attention.

This is possibly one of the strangest things I've ever seen on TV.

It's hard to know where to begin. I think what's so weird about this is that they are "enjoying," if you will, the perks of being gay and straight at the same time. They claim to be straight, but they are engaging in "gay" behavior. Furthermore, they are doing it for the pleasure of straight men, who get off on women kissing. And they are doing it when they are drunk. So it's insulting to gay people; it's insulting to straight people; it's insulting to women; it's just pretty much insulting to everyone.

Where do they come up with these things?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Time Share

J and I were running a little late this morning. As we rushed to pack his backpack and my bags into the front seat of my car, he said: "I guess only G-d knows if we'll get there on time."

I walked around the car to the driver's side, slid into my seat, and turned the key.

"Do you really think that G-d is involved with tiny details of everyone's lives? I mean, there are billions on people on Earth. How would G-d do that?" I asked.

J thought for a few seconds.

"I think He pays attention to a few states at a time. So us and other states near us in September, October, and November, and then He pays attention to some other states in December, January, and February. And maybe to another country in March, April and May."

What can you say to logic like that?

P.S. responding to the issue of G-d as "He" is an issue for another post...