Saturday, January 29, 2005

I'm coming out from under a week of either a moderate flu or some unnamed viral thing; this has been a weird week. Most of it is lost: all I know for sure is that I dragged myself in to school on Monday to lead services, munched it up only slightly, and then sat numbly through classes the rest of the day. Tues, Wed, and Thurs I was home, mostly asleep, which was a good place to be given the splitting headache, even if I did spend an awful lot of time having creepy dreams.

Now I'm tired, but steadily improving; I am still not fit for running around, but my appetite is back and I have been awake more than asleep today. I will spare you the more graphic symptoms!

I am blessed to have friends who called to check on me, and other friends who took notes for me, and I'll catch up somehow. Right now I'm just up late on Shabbat, and I've been out of touch with the world for a very long time. All that adds up to "lonesome," which is, I guess, a sign of returning health.

We learned a week ago in Codes that in the Shulchan Aruch Rabbi Joseph Caro wrote that on Shabbat, a sick person's suffering is lessened, because it is Shabbat. I asked Dr. P. what it would do to a person suffering with, say, cancer, to hear that he was supposed to feel better because it is Shabbat. He pointed out that context is everything -- that for the 16th century Jew, the Day of Rest could be a relief, simply because you fervently believed that it would be, as did everyone you knew.

This gives me pause to think about colds, flu, and other viral nasties. I am rather resigned in my approach to them (as my father-in-law used to say, if you drink liquids and take vitamin C, a cold will run only one week, while if you simply go about your business, it will run for seven days.) I figure on about a week, I figure it will be both unpresentable and miserable, and that the only thing to do is outlive the scourge. Now I wonder what my viral experience would be like if I believed it was always only a three-day deal!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tu B’Shevat

Driving up highway 99
I have learned to pay attention to the almond trees.

In January, they are the gaunt witnesses of winter:
They seem to be dead.
There is nothing as useless-looking as a tree in winter.

Secretly, the roots dowse the soil
In search of water,

The tender tips practicing
the alchemy of plants.

In winter, it is easy to forget hope.
Hope is hidden away, under the earth.
Hope is inside the bark, at the green core.

Driving up highway 99
I have learned to listen to the trees.
Winter will pass,
Sap will rise,
Leaf will follow bud
And blossom will follow leaf
Come summer, there will be almonds.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I received this in an email and thought it sounded like a great idea:

Not One Damn Dime Day -- Jan 20, 2005

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending. During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target...

Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter). For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down.

The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it. "Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan - a way to come home. There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wingagenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Yikes, yikes, yikes...

ALL my classes are wonderful this term. That's very dangerous. I can easily spend way too much time on any of them.

I realized this morning, as I cleaned the bathroom, that somewhere along the line the Pepsi Generation became the Oil of Olay generation. Yes, I use that stuff. I use an amazing amount of stuff: I remember when soap and water was it, maybe something on my lips to keep them from chapping. Time passes, hmm?

I remember watching my grandmother get ready to go anyplace, and marvelled at the amount of stuff she could put on her face. She'd layer on creams, foundation, powder, blusher, eyeshadow, mascara, and top it off with ruby lipstick and a dab of Calandre perfume. I remember, much later, seeing a film of a kabuki performer getting dressed, and feeling nostalgic, then a little amused, when I realized what the nostalgia was about.

Meme's lipstick was an evidence of her character: NO ONE wore bright red lipstick in 1970. Vogue was all beiges and corals, but not for her. Vogue, in fact, was something to giggle at. We'd look at it to get "ideas" but if you wanted a nice dress, well, go to Cain-Sloan's department store downtown. Cain-Sloan's is gone, and downtown is unrecognizable, but Vogue is still there, and still mostly ridiculous.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

This was NOT what I planned for my week long break (after the due date for the papers.) First of all, one paper just lingered -- I made the mistake (?) of getting interested in it, so I asked for an extension. Then, more seriously, the storms came, the arthritis flared, and my back went out. I think the back going out has something to do with all the unrelieved sitting I'd done on the papers, so it is really is my own silly fault. Next time, more exercises, I guess.

I'm taking a quick break now from my busy schedule of lying prone on ice packs with periodic breaks for physical therapy and Motrin. I've readjusted my food plan so that every Motrin is accompanied by food. I'm trying to be a good kid about this thing. I just want to whine because it was Supposed to be Time Off, but not this Off!

Meantime a monster of a winter storm is whupping up on Southern California. I'm glad I'm not homeless, trying to drive in this mess, or stuck in a car somewhere up on I-5's Grapevine. It could be worse. It could be a lot worse.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

This year is getting off to a rough start. The tsunami news is bad, the war news is bad, and right this minute I'm sitting in a coffee house next to a woman who is deep into some sort of altered state. I don't know what to do, except go on with what I'm doing, and I have to say, I'm a little scared of her. I'm scared for her, too -- there doesn't seem to be any safe place for too many people like her.

She's talking to God, and alternating between direct discourse and a monologue about how God makes it impossible to be a good messiah. I was sitting here checking my email when she started, and I truly don't know what to do; every time someone from the shop has approached her, she's been angry with them. So maybe it is best I appear to pay no attention.

LA seems to be full of street people with nowhere to go, lately. They are more apparent in the wintertime when it is cold and rainy because they are out when everyone else is keeping warm someplace. I have no idea what to do for them, and I hate that feeling. I particularly hate it when someone is suffering, as this woman clearly is, and there's not a darn thing I can do for her except possibly scare her much worse than she's scaring me.

"What kind of prayer would be worth praying?" she said, and I must say it is an excellent question.