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Archive for the ‘Just blather’ Category

I am not much for dispensing marriage advice, mostly because people are so individual that the pat broad strokes that you get used to hearing often don’t apply to your specific relationship.

So instead I give you my Wisdom from Experience:

A “successful” (judge at your own peril) marriage is optimizing two people’s most unusual features in the most productive way.

It’s being able to guess at your partner’s reaction to a situation, but then adapt in a nanosecond when you realize you were totally wrong. This may happen a lot, because people are fucking whimsical. Stay alert.

Here’s one story from my marriage, circa yesterday/today.

Yesterday, I noticed we had four bananas going bad on the counter. “I am going to make muffins,” I said to myself. (NB: To myself.)  I make muffins a lot, about once a week, because the kids each take one to school every day. Not always banana (sad reason for that is coming up).

banana-1112872_1280

Grab three friends and we’ve got a batch of muffins

I also went grocery shopping yesterday. We are coming into the time of year in Israel when bananas are breaking hearts all over the place. They are either hard and green or completely missing from store shelves. It is a tense few months.

So I bought green bananas. (It’s ok; we’re all healthy.)

Taxman often takes a banana for breakfast. He’s a good egg, so he eats them from almost anywhere on the banana chart, unlike me and the kids.

banana chart

Did you think I was joking about the chart? Also, this chart needs at least two more on the green end of the spectrum, if I am being honest. (Nobody eats those, though.)

Thus: I had the right number of squishy bananas on the counter to make a batch of muffins.

However, if it had been just one overripe banana on the counter, I would have wanted him to eat it ASAP. (Three – or two, in a pinch – can be a batch of pancakes, but one is utterly useless.) We have tried to freeze smashed overripe banana before, and it just never ends well; we don’t speak of it any more.

When I got down to unearthing my kitchen this morning, I discovered…all four bad bananas. Muffins are made. Kids have vittles.

monkey bananas

Sure, it’s messy, but what if it keeps them quiet for like four minutes? Then it’s totally worth it.

I don’t know if he:

a) left me the four bad bananas because he knew, telepathically
b) only saw the green bananas
c) skipped breakfast entirely
d) was concentrating on taking out the garbage

Naturally, our only communication today after 8:00 am has been about the kids’ math enrichment classes.

Nevertheless, I managed to snag some green-yellow bananas on the way home from Pilates, and I might even draw some hearts on them because the above non-incident incident is some prime family synergy optimization, you know?

Take care of your love in whatever way you do.

PS: We have been know to sing the chorus to both “Yes, We Have No Bananas” and “I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)” because we excel at bemusing-slash-exasperating our children, and if that isn’t a strong foundation for the next 45 years I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

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If you’ve been here for a while, you probably know that I am not, shall we say, an optimist. I am not really a pessimist, either. I am just…pragmatic? By the age I am (42), life experience has primed me to expect certain things or patterns. So that’s what I do.

Which isn’t to say that I just allow myself to be swept along by fate or any such thing. I am trying to be an active participant in my own life. So here are 17 small decisions I made in 2017.

brigitte-tohm-181096

  • I had weird physical symptoms and went to the doctor for testing and reassuring right away. This shouldn’t make news, right? But how many adults ignore symptoms for themselves that in their children would have them running for the phone? Lots.
    TL; dr – it seems that it was extremely typical lactose intolerance, not IBS or something dire.
  • On my gp’s advice, I cut out dairy. It was rough, because I have a thing for cheese. When I finally saw a GI specialist, a couple of months later, he said I could experiment with lactase, which mostly works. Dairy and I have come to a détente, one might say, although I am definitely not the cheeseaholic I was 12 months ago.
  • I have tried to be really strict with myself about exercising five times a week, some combo of Pilates, lap swimming, and fast dog walking, with an occasional tennis outing versus my son thrown in to keep me humble. Some days I only have time to bang out 500m in the pool (which I can now do in 18 minutes), but it feels like an investment in my future.
  • I learned a ton about how the American government works. It’s embarrassing that it took the worst president and most cruel Congress of my lifetime for me to get on that, but there you go. I probably knew some of these things in high school – that was a long time ago – but absolutely not all the ins and outs of how U.S. laws get built and passed. Lots of gratitude to Pod Save America for that.
  • I heard a lot of stories about compassion, and I hope to plug that into my own life. Yay, podcasts! (Death, Sex & Money – fantastic)
  • We started to use the library again after a long absence.
  • We stopped to pet street cats and friendly dogs. I show the Dog Rates twitter feed to my children because it makes us all happy.
  • I didn’t lie in job interviews. I can’t imagine who on Earth would want to get caught in those sorts of lies, but presumably lots of people have no issue with it. I believe it cost me a job for which I was overqualified, and it cost me a job in the final stretches of a ridiculously long hiring process for something that was not even middle management. I am going to stick with the “honesty is the best policy” program in 2018 and hope I don’t continue to get screwed over or ghosted (yes, this happened to me – twice in the same month) in the process.
  • I removed myself from uncomfortable situations when I could not make it better.
  • I tried not to feed trolls.
  • I actively sought out fiction written by non-white authors and found some amazing things. I am going to go further with this in 2018.
  • We found a way for our kids to talk to us on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s just silly family stories, but we’ve covered some serious subjects too. Before everyone goes Deep Teen and hates us for four to five years.
  • I tried to listen more and give advice less.
  • (Oh, god, not to my children. I am talking about full grown people, not huddled masses of hormones and questionable decision-making skills.)
  • I knit a couple of scarves as gifts. As a beginning knitter this was scary, but they were well-received as the extensions of love that they are.
  • I used a knitting + podcast combo to quell airplane traveling anxiety. Who knew this would work? Amazing.
  • Trying to plan for what I can control and relax on what I can’t. It is a work in progress, though. Adulting is a work in progress.

Hope things come up roses for you all in 2018.

Let’s not forget to get a new president.

 

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Do you ever feel trapped? Not TRAPPED like “I’m going to chew off my leg now,” but more, “Hey, this hamster wheel keeps spinning, and I’m not sure what will happen if it stops, but it’s probably not a good idea to stop, so I’ll just keep going.”

(I do enjoy a good run-on sentence from time to time.)

Tangent

I used to hate even the idea of being trendy or following some sort of herd.

I never owned a piece of clothing from Benetton (when it was all the rage) or bought Doc Marten boots (my college roommate had umpteen pairs, but unfortunately we didn’t wear the same size) or got a second ear piercing.

docmarten

I could have been so cute! On someone else’s dime! WTF is wrong with you, past me?

(I made an exception for those Banana Republic shirts with the animals on the back, for reasons I don’t remember. Who doesn’t like paying twice as much as normal for a dumb t-shirt?)

This rejection of trendy did not make me cool. It made me a dork. Sometimes people invest themselves in trends that are not worth it, but sometimes brands or styles really hold up. Sometimes you really can dress something up or down; celebrity endorsements aside, some items are just worth the money.

Now I am all about the intersection of “comfort and style and branding and fiscal responsibility and I don’t really care what everyone else thinks.” So I live in Naot sandals, buy a lot of SkirtSports gear, and am pretty devoted to my few-generations behind iPhone. So I am not on-trend, exactly, but more like chugging along on a parallel track that misses a few stations.

(PS I tried to buy a pair of Chucks, which I have never owned, in America a few months ago, but the store I was at did not carry them in half sizes. WHAT? I am definitely not shelling out money for shoes that don’t fit correctly.)

/tangent
(sorta)

Into the Hamster Wheel

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that my current fragile mental state is shared by so many GenX women. Blame it on perimenopause. Blame it on money worries. Blame it on career dissatisfaction. (Not mentioned in the article, but an astute IRL/Twitter friend pointed out that the last election has engendered mental pacing on an unprecedented level. “Oh HAI misogyny and bigotry and warmongering; we thought you were pretty unacceptable, but we see you’re back in a big way. Sad panda. I am not going to be needing this pillow, as I am never sleeping again.”)

Good thing I am fine with being in the herd now.

Say Goodbye to Your Shirts

I have a problem with my shirts. Almost all of them get tiny holes in them, about six inches from the bottom, right in front. Eventually, some holes “bleed” together and make much bigger holes. I try to reserve my new shirts, or shirts that I especially like, because I know that eventually they will be sacrificed to the “t-shirts I can only wear to bed” pile.

Because I spend a lot of time in my house, tiny holes in my shirts didn’t matter that much, but they made me crazy. Nobody else in the house was getting these holes. Was it my seatbelt in the car? Skirt buttons? Was it the washing machine nibbling only my clothes? None of these ideas made sense.

A friend tipped me off – it is our Caesarstone countertops hitting me in the gut every time I prep food or stand at the sink.

Oh.

Too bad I can’t take a pass on everything in my kitchen forevermore to save my shirts.

The Call is Coming from Inside the House

Yep.

But do I not wear shirts? Do I wear the same one over and over again until it disintegrates? Do I never wear the shirts I like the most in order to save them? Do I buy 3 of the same shirt?

I can already hear well-intentioned people thinking, “Oh, she should wear an apron!” That is so sweet. It will never work. I autopilot so many *kitchen things that adding a “step zero” will never take.

*Also life things. There is a relatively new law in Israel about re-usable bags. I have had to fling them around my house and car, literally by the dozen, so I am not caught without them.

So that’s my hamster wheel.

my-name-57442

This smushy face would never chew holes in my clothes. She’s too tired and has her own perimenopausal stuff to take care of, presumably.

It has tiny holes and kitchen chores. It does not have enough disposable income for a cleaning person. It does not have a full-time job.

If you’re too traumatized to click through to the piece linked above, this goes right to the heart of the matter, for me:

“The message Gen X women got was ‘You can have it all.’ … That came with better blueprints and also bigger expectations,” says Deborah Luepnitz, PhD, a psychotherapist in Philadelphia, a boomer and author of Schopenhauer’s Porcupines. “In midlife, what I see in my Gen X patients is total exhaustion. That’s what brings them to treatment. They feel guilty for complaining because it’s wonderful to have had choices that our mothers didn’t have, but choices don’t make life easier. Possibilities create pressure.”

(IT’S ME AND MY MOM, YOU GUYS!)

Possibilities. We still have them in midlife, but they can start to seem so abstract. Yes, I could go get a doctorate, but where would I find the graduate school tuition? I could switch careers—therapist? Zamboni driver?—but at this stage of life, do I really want to start from the bottom, surrounded by 20-year-olds? If I went on an Eat, Pray, Love walkabout, who would pick up the kid from school?

(IT’S ME AND MY LIFE, YOU GUYS!)

Midlife is when we need to take care of everyone else while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves when we’re most filled with doubt.

(Don’t show this sentence to someone with a new baby; she won’t be able to get out of bed ever again.)

If someone would like to meet in the virtual all-night cafe of insomnia, simmering with rage and worry, I am pretty sure they have pie.

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I saw this post in my Facebook feed and thought, I AM THE ELLIPSIS.

But not just in conversation. In LIFE. My entire life is a mishmash of speech, thoughts, desires, tasks, and journeys that become hopelessly tangled like a skein of yarn. And let me tell you, I rarely have the time to sort these things out.

In my own writing – please feel free to peruse my archives, when I was clearly smarter than I feel right now – I tend towards overuse of parenthesis. So I can explain myself in the middle of my thoughts. One might think (hope?) that I would just be more clear in the first place, but that tends to lead to shorter sentences, and I really like commas, so here we are, you know? (Note: For work assignments I behave myself and write crisply and concisely, but I never monetized this baby, so I am going to be myself. Just please love me! Also send candy. I like cinnamon things now that I have drastically cut back on dairy, which is a sad story for another time.)

Unfortunately, living the elliptical life is causing me to feel like I am losing my mind quite often. We live in a duplex, and I am constantly arriving at the top of the stairs and thinking, “Why am I up here?” Usually, it’s because my iPhone cord is still plugged in to where I charged overnight, but sometimes it’s because I need to change my shoes or get an envelope or brush poppy seeds out of my teeth. But I can’t just blame the elevation of the top floor, because this also sometimes happens when I go to the laundry room-slash-overflow pantry that is tucked behind the kitchen.

This total mess in my head is exacerbated when my kids are home. Because I will go upstairs – again, probably for my phone cord – and on the way, I spot that AM’s clothing drawers are open and a total mess. I mean, total mess is expected, but nobody needs to SEE it. Just close the drawers! Instantly neater! (This is an important life skill that I am one hundred percent committed to teaching.) I also see that Miss M has been using her floor as a hamper and, um, encourage her to cut that shit out. And the kids’ bathroom basically looks like a tornado came through. Open drawers and dirty clothes! Trash that missed the garbage can! Books that I have repeatedly said cannot be in the bathroom! It’s house disaster bingo! So by the time I pass these three open doors and am in my own not-neat room, I have completely lost the plot and have to stand there mumbling, “I am here for a reason.” If I am lucky, I will remember why. If am super-lucky, I will also stumble upon my glasses, which I am absolutely going to need the next time I go to drive the car. (I do not need glasses to read, use the computer, or watch TV, so they spend a lot of time off my face — and hiding from me, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

So what is my problem, exactly?

  • Sleep deprivation (always a winner!)
  • Undercaffeination (likely, but I can’t experiment with this too much)
  • Age (being over 40 is a garden full of delights)
  • Some sort of attention deficit (I blame social media)
  • Low blood sugar/dehydration (I am not always the best at self-care)
  • Terrible housekeeping (a disordered environment is how we roll)
  • No idea (but I hear bullet points are the bomb)

So, in conversation, I tend to be incredibly annoying and full of tangents. I think I have always been this way, but now it is worse than ever. On social media I can be pithy and wise, because of the magical delete button. There is no delete when I talk. Sadly.

My workarounds for this? Ongoing conversations that are comprised almost solely of tangents. I have a Whatsapp group with two friends that’s basically the three of us dropping in and out of conversations. We try to do it once a week in real life. Or conversations that are long enough to circle back to my original point, when I have one, which is sometimes. Just today, I had a spontaneous brunch with a friend. Something else came up, we got distracted, and thankfully were still together an hour later when I remembered where I was going with my train of thought (the in-person reveal was worth it, so I am glad it worked out, instead of my having to email it later).

I am not quite sure where I am going with this, but if you stick around I might get to my point. (If the dog ever stops barking.)

In the meantime: Red Hots, Cinnamon Jelly Bellys, Atomic Fireballs, Hot Tamales. (Stay focused!)

jbs

All cinnamon, all the time

 

 

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Well! Life got busy, as it always does. We were lulled into complacency this year by having an “extra” month in the Jewish calendar, but really this just pushed the inevitable craziness of Purim (baking the crumbs) and Pesach (cleaning the crumbs) forward by a few weeks.

The kids wanted to bake hamantaschen this year – I usually bake cookies instead – and I reluctantly agreed. Somehow, though, my reluctance turned into losing my mind, as I made the world’s most complicated and expensive (coconut oil! gel food coloring!) hamantaschen. Well, it was a good experience to teach me to leave Pinterest the hell alone. As was my original instinct.

But they were pretty.

Image

Pesach involved so much cooking. So much. I wish there were some way to avoid that. A few things made it easier than I expected – a friend’s recipe for matzah meal rolls (insert eye roll here) that I made over and over again; AM’s sudden willingness to eat hard-boiled eggs and his immense (and expensive) love of walnuts; and our switch to canola oil, like the awesome Israelis we try to be. But I also tried to relax and read some books. I left my computer and work email untouched for an entire Thursday, which really just made it harder to come back and do stuff. Plus my brother was visiting and being the fun uncle. So there you are.

AM turned 8. I am gobsmacked. He’s this bizarre little combination of very mature and helpful with squirrely, stinky-footed boy. It’s not going to get less weird, I fear.

Now we are on the slippery slope towards summer: Yom Haatzmaut, opening day at the pool, Shavuot, Miss M’s birthday, and the end of school. It is not yet too hot to be outside, but the powers that be are doing their best.

What’s new in your neck of the woods?

 

 

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I am getting back in the groove of things in one particular area of life.

I used to run. Sort of. I never ran very far or very fast, but I reached a level where I didn’t feel like a fool for saying, “I have to go out for a run,”(versus a jog) or taking up precious suitcase space with my running shoes and clothes.

It is something that I stopping doing upon our aliyah. In addition to the emotional and mental shocks to the system, arriving in the summer had a deleterious effect on my physical being too.

(Read: It was HOT. Hot hot hot. All day. Into the night. Fry your kishkes kind of hot.)

I tried to deal with the heat by getting up progressively earlier to run, until it crossed the line of ridiculousness. I am a morning person, to be sure, but once I was waking up at 4:50 (to leave the house at 5 to be finished at 5:45) was “too late,” I sort of gave up. Because of course then I had to go to ulpan and parent my people all afternoon and learn how to do things like buy yogurt and not cry when other people spoke to me.

A year later we joined a health club. Despite the expense, I had a hard time getting motivated to go run on the treadmill. Frankly, treadmill running is boring. The gym was often crowded. I never felt comfortable.

The health club membership lapsed. The weather remained hot for six months a year. I tried other exercise programs in fits and starts, like jumping rope while watching TV or being tortured by Jillian Michaels. Nothing stuck like running had.

Finally, in the middle of this past winter (that’s “winter” to you North Americans), when the weather was cooler, someone posted on a local facebook group that she wanted to run in a pack on a weekday morning. So I went. Even though she was training for a half marathon (!), she was willing to run at my pace. I didn’t fare too badly. We met once a week for a few weeks, before her race training took her away. But in the meantime I felt like I was gaining strength. Stronger, going for longer distances. I missed running with a person (I am more social than I thought), but just those few weeks had kickstarted me back to the elusive feelings of accomplishment. I reactivated my iTunes account. I signed up for RunKeeper.

Now the weather is turning warmer again. But I am less concerned. I can run in the evening now. Putting a 7 and 9 year old in front of the TV for 30 minutes in the evening, alone at home, is a possibility that I couldn’t have contemplated four summers ago. I can deal with the heat better. I seek the shady side of the street.

But mostly I am more forgiving of myself. If I don’t run 5 kilometers, I run 4. If I don’t run 4 kilometers, I run 3. If I run with the dog, we run two and a half, and then I am grateful that I don’t usually run with her; she’s a terrible pacer. If I don’t run in the morning, all is not lost – I can run in the evening. Or later in the morning. Or 2 kilometers instead of none. It all counts.

I haven’t signed up for any races, so far, but I might. Perhaps in the fall. In the meantime, the Boston Marathon bombings cast a pall over the worldwide running community. Community in the largest sense, because everyone who has put on a pair of running shoes and run even one mile can appreciate the challenge of running 26 IN A ROW ALL AT ONCE. Running is a sport that, if you take away the fancy shoes and high-tech clothes and energy gels and corporate sponsorships, really can reach a wide swath of people. So reading the stories of people who had run in the Boston Marathon that day – and those who had come to watch – was inspiring and touching. I decided late in the day on April 15th, watching Twitter bury network news once and for all, to run a marathon’s worth of distance in two weeks.

It took me an extra day; I finished my 42.2 km on May 1 instead of April 30. It was hot towards the end; I forgave myself. I had a lot of support. There were thousands of us around the world running for Boston. There was a Twitter hashtag and a Facebook group. When solidarity runs cropped up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I wanted to go, but they were at inconvenient times. So I made my own run locally; about 25 people came. I ran my own 5K in 33:30, which I haven’t come close to matching in the two weeks since. I’m back to slow and steady, apparently.

I’m going to get through this summer. Running. (I hope.)

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Bonus confounding

Littering

I’m not talking about a tissue blowing away in the wind while you’re struggling out of the car with your baby and toddler. I’m talking about purposely dropping trash on the ground or tossing it out of a car  instead of throwing it in a proper receptacle.

Why do people do this?

And why do I feel like I am the only mean mother who makes her kids pick up all their garbage? (I have to assume that this is what my mom did to me…)

 

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