Category: Events

Opening boxes

This past Saturday life, and choices previously made, took on new meaning.

A little less than two years ago I converted to Judaism after two plus years of study – first on my own, and later with a group of others under the tutelage of a rabbi who also became my friend.

Judaism provided me with a sense of peace, belonging, kavana aka intention. It grounds me and gives me a sense of purpose as well as a framework and network to do good to and for others, which aside from being a mitzvah, is something that is a recurring purpose in my life.

As I was debating taking my studies further to be with a rabbi and trying to decide how much this was important to and core to who I am, I visited the local Holocaust museum. I read every plaque. I looked closely at every picture and item displayed. I repeated the question to myself, “If this happens again, how would I (re)act? How would I feel? Can I take this on?” I walked out that day with a sense of purpose, that yes, even should the worst happen again, I would face it, proudly a Jew.

Saturday morning I went to early voting at a new county facility. At one point in the long wait, while standing next to a police officer, I had a terrible thought… What if someone came in and started shooting or had a bomb? There was no form of shelter. There was limited access in/out. There were only two officers. There had been no metal detector or wanding. I live in an area (state? county?) where folks can openly carry as well as conceal carry (weapons); there were no signs asking people to not carry. Heck, someone could say something to someone else and trigger a shooting.

It was a sobering thought.

Luckily, nothing happened at that facility.

When I got back to my car and decided to take a moment to review my Twitter stream that I learned, as I had those sobering thoughts, a synagogue was facing the terror of being gunned down by a madman, simply for being Jewish.

I’m not going to go into the debate about gun ownership, including what type of guns should be available to the public. I’m not going to go into (mental) health care and how it or the lack of it is (tied to gun sales) or impacts ones actions.

I found it profound, as I have in many other instances when this sort of thing happens, that I knew it was happening. My brain picked up on whatever vibes and thought about being shot at in a public space at the same time that it was occurring elsewhere.

I also found it profound how it impacted me the rest of the day. While driving I worried that someone would know I was Jewish and shoot me or ram me with their vehicle. While sitting in a fast food restaurant I worried that someone would ram a car at the window I sat at or would come through the door to shoot me, just for being Jewish. All of those were incredibly long shots to be nigh impossible. After a while, I found a sense of equilibrium and moved on to anger and sadness for those killed and their friends and family.

I revisited my thought process from three years ago, asking myself, what would I do? Would I hide my being Jewish if it came to survival? Would I instead be proud of who I was and this tribe I am a member of and do what I can to fight back, to repair the world in whatever way I can. It’s harder when one knows how easily it could actually happen. The metro area I live in has a large Jewish population and also sees a lot of acts of antisemitism.

But I knew, I would still stand tall and fight back. This is who I am, who I have fought long and hard to find and be.

While it happened many hundreds of miles away, I knew that the likelihood of copycat actions was plausible in my area. I had the thought that my family could be concerned about me as well as about attending my shul for my upcoming nuptials. Thus, I proactively reached out to close family to let them know some basics regarding the safety measures my synagogue has taken in the past and is continually looking to improve.

It was fascinating the responses I got. And a little heartbreaking. One family member showed their narcissism in not having thought about it at all. Another had a vigilante mindset. A third had a compassionate response. A few years ago this would have surprised me, but things have changed in the past year.

Sunday morning I went to a meeting to hear about security measures at my shul, to be reassured. I learned that within minutes of the event starting, local police went to each shul in its jurisdiction to ensure that they were safe in case it was a targeted, larger scale event.

The fact that law enforcement took it as a credible possibility and acted proactively reinforces the reality as well as how ignorant and hurtful that one family member could be so dismissive of my safety.

My fiance appreciated how I felt that the community devistated wasn’t localized to just that shul, but that, while I did not know anyone there, I felt they were my family, my people who were hurt. I saw an image recently that stated ‘when any Jew hurts, we all hurt. We cry as a family. We are family.’

 

The secret

Last night I had an somewhat fancy event to go to with my boyfriend. It wasn’t just a fancy event, but also an opportunity to meet most of his immediate family. Between the unclear dress code and wanting to impress, I found the perfect outfit and put a lot of effort into looking and being my best.

I was proud of how it all came together, so of course I posted selfies on social media. One of the responses was from my brother, stating that his girlfriend approved (um, what?) and wanted to know my secret. My response at the time was that it was lots of things, but I’m happy to share. So this is sharing.

Many of the things circle back on each other.

The first thing to looking fabulous is being happy. I’ve worked long and hard over many years to resolve all sorts of issues and learn to be my “best self.” Lots of introspection, conversations with family, counseling, etc. I’ve also worked very hard to reach a point in my career where I’m happy with where I am, what I do, and how much I bring in. I’ve gotten to a comfortable place with my investments and cashflow. I’m happy with the people in my life, focusing on those who (for whatever reason) bring me joy and/or support while drifting away (ok, not the best thing) from those who brought out bad things in me or took more than they gave. I love my communities that I actively engage with.

The second thing is feeling good. I’ve spent the last several years slowly working towards being physically healthy. I’ve made HUGE strides in the past year. It seems to have finally found a good balance where I feel phenomenal. I sleep great, I eat great, I’ve found the mix of food, meds, and supplements that I need to be my best. I’m not going to say the specific food plan, exercises, meds, or supplements because I don’t want to give the impression of knowing anything, being a medical professional, or saying something that while it works for me doesn’t for others. No two people have the same needs. Though one thing that makes a big difference is hydration – drinking lots of water, moisturizing, etc.

The third thing is knowing what works for you. I’ve experimented a lot over the years. I’ve gotten to a point I know what colors, cuts, etc. of clothes/styles that work for me. I know how to pull off different looks (hair/makeup) that achieve different ends depending on the situation. I have found specific products that work best for me – both in the moment as well as long term. (Because if it looks great one night but makes you break out the next day is not good!) I’ve learned how to style my outfits that accentuate me best, as well as the outfit too. I’ve found tricks (spanx!) that help to make things look better on me.

It may not be clear, but as one goal is reached, it opened doors for the next goal. It was all interconnected – having the income helped to focus on finding the right accessory or supplement. Feeling happier mentally and emotionally helped me to do more and eat better. Feeling physically better helped me do better in my work and in working through my emotions.

Looking good for an event, an evening, is not about one secret. It isn’t about a fad diet or exercise program or vitamin or article of clothing/accessory. It is a culmination of being your truest and best self, of being happy and healthy.

Car Crash III

It’s been over a week since the last update. Lots has happened.

I’ve gotten my car back. I negotiated with his insurance agency to get more money to cover the battery replacement. Had a cow when I got the car that the power steering seemed dead – after driving in traffic an hour the next day was back to normal; something about power cycling? It had me making panicked calls to my parents, wanting to chat it over with my boyfriend (but he was unavailable), and researching replacement vehicles while making contingency plans for my various funds. Because it sorted itself out I am trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, though I am still a bit anxious about if I can trust this car any more or not.

My pain is way better. Tuesday of last week I tried to work but was on heavy pain meds, as in I took close to 4000mg of naproxen that day. No, that is not a typo or any extra zeros. I was super spacey, couldn’t concentrate or focus, and had a massive headache. While I did work that day, it was torture. I ended up sleeping the next two days mostly. Doing laundry, getting groceries, and putting out the trash were dramatic events that even drugged up were nightmares. But I took things slow and persevered. I know others would help, but I couldn’t swallow my pride enough to ask someone to do these “simple” tasks for me or to come keep me company or cook dinner.

Over the course of the week I slowly pushed myself to wean the drugs. It got to taking 500mg of naproxen a day. Then on Monday I had my first physical therapy appointment, where she told me to keep taking them on a schedule to help reduce inflammation and thus help things heal.

The physical therapy both worries me (due to $ and how that will work out with the insurance company – especially since I have to prepay and be reimbursed) and reassured me. The reassurance was that I had “good range of motion” and wasn’t being a diva. 😛 That I really wasn’t that bad off and therapy would be short and simple. Especially since I had already gotten into a routine of exercise before the accident. The therapist was impressed with the level and diversity of my exercise routine and told me to do what I could but keep moving. She couldn’t/wouldn’t settle the ice vs heat debate which has been raging among the folk in my life. 😛

Other than PT, a work moderately heated discussion over PTO, and slowly building back up my exercise routine – things are back to normal. I think that for now I will stay the course with the car as well as my plans for finances, which includes being able to pay that sucker off next month – 3 years ahead of schedule! While it is VERY tempting to either put that money elsewhere (hellooooo credit card debt) or to just keep it liquid, I’ve got a plan and need to trust in it.

Car Crash II

Woke today in LOTS of pain. Called my boss to tell her that after my test I needed to go to the doc. She said just take the whole day off. Because I was seeing the doc, I did not take any pain meds, wanting them to see me without any filters.

Next started a slew of calls accident related. Called body shop to give claim number. Body shop called back saying it was denied as claim was disputed – how did I want to pay? *facepalm* Turns out it wasn’t even reviewed yet by the claim adjuster – who was my next call. After she reviewed the case (she hadn’t even gotten to it yet) she called me back.

The test was hard – between the pain and trouble concentrating, as well as dizzy spells… I’m frankly surprised I passed it, and that I didn’t pass out when walking to/from my car. :disappointed: I had to reread questions a few times because I would space out half way through. (So not me.)

After the test many more calls and such. End result is that the insurance of the guy who hit me is covering everything. Car repair, my medical for 30 days up to $X, and a (very) small something for my pain and suffering. I’ll be calling a lawyer to check that this is legit and enough before I sign anything. Got the rental moved to the insurance, and canceled the rental company insurance coverage of the rental.

The nurse at my doc is so smart and better bedside, sometimes I wish I could just see her. :stuck_out_tongue: End result mild concussion (hence the extra fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and concentration issues), mild sprain of both wrists, common seat belt trauma (across abdomen and hips), and something with my back. We are waiting for the xrays to see if I need to go to an ortho AND PT or can just go to PT. The rad techs took a LOT of images of my lower back. I got fresh prescription for 500mg naproxen (as opposed to the 5 years past expiration date I was taking), muscle relaxers, and anti-nausea meds. I also have referrals for said ortho, physical therapists if I don’t need the ortho, and if the concussion symptoms don’t go away in a few days for a neurologist.
Since standing for more than a few minutes and walking more than a few feet has me tired and/or dizzy and tripping over my own feet, I felt cooking was not a good idea. I had to run a related errand anyway, so stopped on my way home at my local hole in the wall Mexican. \o/ Chimi-steak-fajita, amazing guac, fire roasted salsa, and of course a margarita on the rocks, no salt.

Tomorrow I hope to hear what looking at my slides result in and how long I will have the rental.

<<>>> I am liking this rental. Feeling very spoiled. Part of that feeling spoiled is due to how awesome D has been with all this. In sharing the update with my mom she even said, “He might be a keeper.” High praise from her. 😉

Car Crash

(Note, making life easier I am copy pasting from Slack where I shared this with friends.)

Ok, back home at at my computer (as opposed to on my phone.) I’m not ok but am. Physically I hurt all over (joints: fingers, elbows, wrists, shoulders, hips, knee, ankles; muscles up and down my back and across my abdomen (mostly lower, but also just under the boobs.) I’m tired. I am now extra hyper aware of things around me (even when Daniel was the one driving last night.) I’m nervous now to drive on the highway like I haven’t been since I first started driving. I’m worried about my car. Worried what if I should go to the doctor. Worried about my test tomorrow, because sitting for 2hours in a test center when I am not thinking clearly and am nauseated and sore doesn’t sound fun; never mind I don’t feel prepared for it and if I fail (it is pass/fail) I won’t be reimbursed the $1300 for the course from work. I’m worried why my car won’t start and what I can’t see that might be wrong with it. And that I couldn’t shut the driver window and it rained last night.

Long story short, I was in stop and go traffic (75south, getting ready to get onto 285) and was at a complete stop when shortly after I was hit from behind. Iwas very glad and lucky that a) while it bumped my car forward a few feet, I had left enough room that I didn’t hit the tractor trailer in front of me, and b) that I was able to safely and quickly get over to the shoulder.

Guy and I exchanged insurance. I took a bunch of pics of my car and his. My car only had some scratches on the bumper and the license plate is bent. His car the entire hood is accordioned and he was leaking fluid. His check engine light was on, he suspected his radiator was fuxored.

Huzzah for my car being a tank and living up to its really good safety rating. (Mazda 3, 2013) His car was a Chevy Cobalt. I didn’t have a good impression of GM vehicles before and certainly don’t now. :stuck_out_tongue

After all that and checking with Daniel and another friend I called 911 to get a police report filed. The cop showed up really quickly and was great to work with. The guy only got a warning for “following too close behind.”

Frankly, I was impressed with myself that I was able to remain calm, collected, polite, professional under this stress. I even befriended the guy talking about how he moved here from Bulgaria 18 years ago, his wife’s new car, his job…

Then as the cop was going to block traffic to let us safely get back in, my car wouldn’t start. Mind you, I had at that point the 4 ways on for 90 minutes, had been turning the car off and on, playing with windows (down to get breeze/air; up to reduce noise while on the phone with my insurance and his…)

The cop then helped me check to see if there was a release for the emergency fuel pump shut off. After lots of searching and googling we found my make/model doesn’t have a release. :neutral_face: This then left me with needing to be towed. And no body shop was open on a Saturday afternoon. And the tow truck was 90 minutes at the EARLIEST to me. I ended up waiting on the side of the highway with no ac and unable to charge my phone (that was at that point down to 26% battery) for 2.5 hours in 105 F. My insurance and the tow company urged me to abandon the vehicle and walk along the highway to the nearby exit and go somewhere for someone to pick me off. OH HELL NO. In Atlanta there are 1300+ roadside fatalities a year, mostly for that exact situation. That and I didn’t feel comfortable abandoning my car.

After the truck came, turns out the dealership doesn’t have a body shop and that is required when in an accident. But for them to tow me car to a body shop I had to get my insurance to approve the new location and update his dispatch. Luckily at that point I was hungry (having not eaten since 9 am, it was 330 pm),thirsty, and appreciating having the AC and way to charge my phone in his truck. After getting the approval, I tried calling the rental car agency that Daniel had reserved for me. They closed at 4. Luckily the tow truck guy said we could get there in time, he wasn’t going to leave me alone at the closed body shop, and the rental agency was nearby so he just drove me there. (No additional approval needed.) We got there at 3:58. :neutral_face: I had let Daniel know when the tow truck arrived (phone battery 1% left) but due to dealing with insurance and trying to call the agency I hadn’t reached back out to him. When I arrived at the car agency I let him know. Apparently my call wouldn’t go though because he had been calling asking about me and worried if they would stay open late until I got there. lol

I was given the actual LAST CAR on the lot.

So I made it home around 5 pm, because I took back roads home and was slower than normal both from nerves and driving an unfamiliar vehicle. I did lose my cool while waiting for the tow truck – crying, shaking. I was glad that I at least kept it together until I could safely breakdown.

Now I am waiting on the guy’s insurance claim agent to reach out to me about the tow and rental, as well as whatever repair I need done.

I have been taking left over 500 mg of naproxen (from a 2011 surgery) every 4 hours and it isn’t really enough for the pain. I figure if after my test tomorrow I’m not seeing improvement I will see my doc. (And make his insurance cover that too.)

Daniel was really sweet. After I got home I showered, took some time, and then turned around and went to meet up with him. We had plans for a group dinner, the first time I am meeting any of his friends (still haven’t met any family but that is in the works.)

On our way to dinner he was surprised I hadn’t called my parents, he insisted I call them. I called my mom and put her on speaker so she and Daniel could speak to each other too. lol That was amusing. Daniel was happy at how I talked him up to her. Then once we got back to his place after dinner (4 hours! It was fun, but I was dying by the end of it due to the pain) I asked him to give me a back massage to help with the pain.

A lot of folk have asked me that or if he was texting. Frankly, I didn’t ask him and don’t care. It doesn’t change the end result.

He said he tried to stop but wasn’t able to. But there was no screeching tires and no marks on the highway like when stopping quickly.

He also hadn’t honked his horn as a warning he wasn’t able to brake.

*shrugs* It is what it is. Accidents happen. It could have been worse. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse. I’m sure I will eventually feel better.

Relational Judaism part 1

I’ve started reading this book, as the ideology is what our Board of Trustees (whom I am not a member of) is using to hopefully revolutionize and revitalize our community. I’m barely started (<25 pages in) and it is so eye popping and jaw dropping. Why aren’t more people thinking like this? Is it really so hard to move beyond transactional – providing an event with food – to developing relationships?

Yes, building relationships is hard and takes time. And events (with the promise of food and/or booze) foster a way to get people out of their homes to encounter others…. The trick is getting them to interact. Connecting people who have a need with those who can help. Connecting people period.

Right now I am fired up by a paraphrase of Mordecai Kaplan, ‘religion is meant to serve the Jewish people, and not that the Jewish people should serve the religion.

How is that for a mic drop statement?

Jewish Weddings

Several years ago a coworker/friend got married. He wanted me to attend, but, couldn’t afford to invite me. I totally get that. So he told me the day and where – but not when. I was essentially given permission to crash. As it ended up, I showed up late – missed the ceremony and frankly didn’t spend much time at the reception. I didn’t know anyone else there and felt bad eating since I wasn’t an accounted for/invited guest. So I didn’t see more than 30 minutes of the reception.

Recently a friend got married, but it would be out of state. Another couple who are acquaintances also got married recently.

All three of these weddings are Jewish. As a recent Jewish convert, and with the hope to get married again someday, I wanted to see in action a Jewish wedding to understand how it differs from the multitude of Catholic, or other Christian or non denominational weddings I have attended over the years.

Being the nerd I am, I’ve done my research so I know the differences regarding the ketubah (marriage contract), chuppah (canopy), and the Hora (chair dance done to Hava Nigla/Oseh Shalom/Siman Tov.)

To be fair, this wedding was interfaith. I expected it to be more involved due to that. The ceremony was MUCH shorter than any other I had been to. There simply was less ceremony to it. It was processional, vows/rings, the traditional 7 blessings and Numbers priestly blessing, they did a unity candle (as a nod to the groom’s nonJewish family), and breaking the glass. Then it was pictures, food, and partying.

The other big difference for me was that it started on time. I have been to dozens of weddings and none of them started on time – not even my own! (Though that was my being benevolent and due to my future MIL running late.)

I half hope to see others to get a better feel for them in general.