Monday, March 22, 2010

Cultural INtolerance

It's complicated. My relationship with cultural acceptance. I want to embrace all our differences, but honestly, some practices repel me.

Here's one: female circumcision. At it's core, it is a quashing of female sexual desire. I don't care if it is normal in some parts of Africa, I disdain it and those who impose it. But it's not lost of me that I circumcised (well, not ME, a mohel) both of my sons and it was profound for me to publicly declare them Jews in the tradition of Abraham. There's a disconnect between my two points of view here. I'd love a logical connection, but I can't find one. One is ugly and disgusting to me; the other beautiful and profound.

I own a Keffiyeh. It's a traditional Arab scarf favored by Palestinians. It's not worn by women and it's not worn by Jews. I'm both and I wear it in protest. Well, let's be honest, it's comfortable, warm and attractive; that's why I wore it at first. But it's become a quiet FU to tenets I find disdainful. The treatment of women in many Arab countries disgusts me. I find burkas to be another way to hide women from the world and there are many Arab "cultural" actions I think are basically anti-female and they piss me off. I wear my so-called religious garment as a fashion accessory as a spit in the face of the misogynism that permeates Arab culture. As a Jew, I'm a strong supporter of Israel's right to exist. I'm confident that the so-called Palestinians (no such thing, really) just want to push us into the Sea. So again, my Keffiyeh serves it's purpose.

I wish I was more accepting. Who am I to make these judgements? Well, I'm me. And fortunately, I live in a free country.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I remember, I think, more of my dreams than most people. I like to regale my colleagues at work with a story about some weird or inappropriate dream I had of them the night before. But that's the only advantage I can think of.

Because most of my dreams are not funny. They are scary and disturbing and involve a lot of running from danger. This week, I had a dream that was so disturbing that I woke myself up to try to stop it only to have it continue when my head hit the pillow again. It involved my father-in-law, whom I love very much, but in my dream, I killed him and then I begged forgiveness from my husband and wept at the thought of going to jail. Very strange.

In this same dream, I repeatedly said to myself, "this is just a dream, right?" and to prove it, I found myself at the edge of a precipice over the rocky ocean. I tried to throw myself off the ledge so that I would know that it was a dream. But I couldn't do it; it felt too real; I was afraid to die.

Not sure what this all means - I'm probably expressing anxiety over any number of normal worries, but that it all manifests itself in my mind in such vivid and disturbing detail makes me a little worried about myself. I wish I didn't remember them in the morning so much as they often flash back to me during the day and give me thoughts I'd rather avoid.

"Dreams are free therapy, but you can only get appointments at night." ~Grey Livingston

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Feud

The title is misleading since there is such a taste of bile in my mouth that it's clearly more than a feud. And I wonder why I'm seething so...

She done me wrong; she done my child wrong, but really, why does it eat at me? Some of it must be due to not being able to speak frankly to her about it. She's a relative by marriage, so it falls to my husband. Another part of me knows her well... well enough to know that they'll be zero satisfaction after a conversation. No acknowledgement of a wrong, let alone an apology. I'll only be forced to eat more shit.

And even though I eat shit as a profession, that's not personal shit. I get paid to eat that shit and it's in service of a great good. On this front though, I've eaten sooooo much shit from this person that I just can't (won't?) do it anymore. But it goes against my grain. I like things wrapped up neatly in a package; I like to go to sleep at night not grinding over the same situation repeatedly; I like my life to be "clean". But cleanliness requires shit eating sometimes; that's it's price. But I can not do it with this one.

I'm uncomfortable with this open-ended thing. Now she knows why the silence. He talked to her; he told her; she was shocked (really???!), but now she knows. And now the phone isn't being answered; his calls are being screened and the messages are going to the black voicemail hole. No question, I'm sort of satisfied that she's so bugged that she can't even speak about it. She knows now (as if she couldn't?!) and she gets to think about it like I've spent 5 months thinking about it, but really, she's just thinking about what a bitch I am -- Not about the hurt she perpetrated. Not about how she'd feel in my shoes. Not how ferociously she'd defend her own child.

What will happen next I wonder? Not much probably. But these are things that drive families apart and I hate to be a party to that. I always try to consider the big picture - his parents' pain, future cousin relationships, but I CAN NOT EAT SHIT ON THIS ONE (at least not right now).


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sexist female pigs

There turns out to be quite a few differences between the sexes. From a sexuality point of view, this sort of sums it up: Sexist female pigs

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Smaller Tush

I'm really unhappy with my body.  Even more, I'm really unhappy that I'm not doing anything to make my body better.

And I'm shocked to discover that at 44 (just had a birthday) I'd be willing to trade some IQ points for a better physical shell.  How shallow is that?!  Or maybe it's just a reflection of how lazy I am. Either way, it's not good,  because as mentioned in an earlier post, this aging thing is harder than it looks.

As time plods forward, there's no turning that clock back.  And maintaining an attractive physical exterior becomes more and more difficult - I've never liked to exersize and although I don't overeat, what I do eat is not necessarily green.  (However, let it be said that my reputation as a junk-fooder is somewhat overstated.)

So, how important is it to understand algebra or be able to manage multiple tasks?  I think I could give up some of this unnecessary smarty-pantness for a small tush in some stupider pants.  Who do I see about this?  Come on - I didn't ask for these genetics.  With all due respect to my Eastern European peasant ancestors (who likely longed for longer legs too), I think I should have a say in how my "gifts" are distributed.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am (Half) Evil

I've written some about my mother (we'll call her "Weakness"), but now to the Father (let's call him "Evil").

He's half my DNA.  That's undeniable.  He's probably mentally ill (sociopath is my guess).  And he's my Daddy.  People are shocked to hear the story - handsome, charming, smart; mean, violent, mysogenistic. 

But what does it mean to me now?  I'm not the little girl who craves his attention and approval (or am I?).  I'm a grown adult whose primary identity is Mommy, but it's a short trip back to remember the pain of being the progeny of a "bad guy" (that's how I've described him to my kids so as to give them instant clarity of why he's not around).

A recent funeral sent me spinning.  The corpse was a beloved father whose adult children spoke of him with admiration, respect, love and a touch of fear.  The girl child spoke movingly of her gratitude of having her father for some 30 years.  I leaned by head against the wall, closed my eyes and thought, "you are damn lucky."  My shit of a father still lives and hasn't earned a morsel of pain from me at the thought of his death. I do not plan to weep when he goes (and it should be painful and soon, please) for I've wept too much for him already.

Christianity encourages forgiveness, but something I really like about my Jewish faith is the tenet that the wronged are not obligated to forgive until it is righteously sought by the wrong-doer.  Even then, the wronged is not obligated to forgive if not so inclined until, the Rabbis say, the third time absolution is sought.  And let's just say this - it's never been sought and it never will be.  He's not capable of it; not deep enough, not introspective enough, not man enough. And thank god 'cause I don't think I could forgive him now anyway.

And I don't think my anger and bitterness hurts me one damn bit either.  It reminds me how not to be, gives me compassion for victims, and it's probably a big part of the good that's inside of me.  But in the end, I am half evil.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I do agree with Einstein

Someone I admire a lot says that parenthood is bittersweet, because it's a lifelong process of separation.  And I agree.

Pregnancy, difficult though it was, was the last time I knew my children were really safe - and, of course, even that's a false safety.  Let's say this:  I knew exactly where they were.

Then they are outside of your body and trying to get away.  Testing boundaries, pulling you close and pushing you back.  And you are at their mercy.

Now, walking/talking/reading - that's all behind us and it's the BIG separations that loom.  Three weeks of sleep-away camp is the longest we've been physically apart, but the emotional gap continues to grow.  As it should.  I brought them here, but they don't belong to me.  I am the conduit for them to find themselves and their own lives.  But, ouch.

Einstein said, "A mother is to be left."  Sometimes the truth sucks.