taylweaver: (Default)
And thou shalt attend the sedder to which your family has obligated you to attend. Should your family place no such obligation upon you, or should they place upon you two or more conflicting obligations such that the only option is to ignore both or all of them, or should you have the gall to back out of such obligations as are placed upon you by your family, thou shalt attend a sedder of your choosing. And, upon completion of two such seddarim, or one, should you happen to be in Israel, and after darkness has fallen upon the conclusion of the first day or days of the holiday, thou shalt post such thoughts as shall occur to you in regard to this sedder which you have attended, and thus share these thoughts with your friends during the intermediate days of the holiday, that all of your friends may know whether your sedder was fun or stressful, and how much you love or cannot stand to spend holidays with your family.

And so, in fulfillment of the above obligation...

Seddarim were nice. I had the pleasure, once again, of hosting [livejournal.com profile] mbarr for the seddarim, and got to see various members of the immediate and extended family, as well as some family friends.

Going into this year, I felt like it was a year of transition in various ways. Mostly, this is because there is only one relative left in my grandfather's generation who is well enough to make the trip up from South Jersey. Many of you may recall that my grandfather passed away at the end of Pesach three years ago (check out my posts from the end of April/beginning of May three years ago for more info if you haven't heard the story). For two years after that, his surviving brother, sister, and sister-in-law made the trip up. This year, only his brother was able to travel. We weren't sure until erev Pesach whether or not even he would be able to make the trip.

In addition to that, this is my parents' first sedder as grandparents, and my nephew was with our side of the family this year for the sedder. He is almost a year old, adorable, and gets upset when someone tries to break his (egg) matzoh for him. After all, what is the fun of eating matzoh if you can't also play with it?

We also had a toddler at the sedder, along with her father, who is my second cousin.

Of course, my little cousins who live up the block are that generation also, and the oldest of them is nearly ten, so this is not an entirely new phenomenon, though they were at the other side of their family this year, so not at our sedder.

The more interesting change, though, was that my father finally replaced the old haggadot we had been using for so many years, for as long as I can remember, really. Probably longer. We began with over 30 copies of them, I think, and by last year we were down to maybe 20. Up until a few years ago, it was a gradual attrition, but by last year, haggadah after haggadah began to fall apart. Bindings split and pages were falling out all over the place. Of the 20 haggadot that were left, maybe 10 would have survived in one piece past this year. Plus, my father didn't much like them anyway.

So he finally bought new ones. He had his eye on the haggadah by Noam Tzion (or however that is spelled) but it was too big and too expensive to buy 30 of. This year, however, there was an abridged version (which is to say, full text with abridged commentary) that was much more cost-effective. So we had a new haggaddah for the first time in my life.

The Hebrew was the same, but the English was different. There are some English readings we have done every year, to the point where some of us have parts of them memorized. So it was a new experience to miss those familiar (if archaic) turns of phrase.

My father also cut down on the amount of inserts we did - i.e. special readings and songs that I get to fold and stick in to every haggaddah. We did two each night, rather than the three or four of years past. And we had to ask my father specifically to include, as is traditional, the Ballad of the Four Sons on the second night, which is the first "fun" insert we ever had - predating all of those internet parody songs that now get forwarded. So old that half of the copies we have are photocopies of a version that was typed on a typewriter!

Of course, the sedder was probably more the same than different. On the first night, we hit close to maximum capacity with 30 guests or so, and on the second night we had a more intimate sedder with about 20. As usual, the South Jersey contingent headed out early on the second night so that they could get back home, and so we were down to 10 of us, which is always refreshing, since it is 10 of us who know the songs and can read the Hebrew.

My parents were exhausted, as were many of the rest of us, and it was fun to watch them get a bit punchy by Hallel, when they began clapping along with the songs. I laughed so hard, I was crying.

Because my nephew was present, and because we sing an African American Spiritual (let my people go/go down moses) at our sedder - good thing it is also in the new haggadah - I got to thinking about what my nephew's future connection to the sedder will be. He is part African American (he is adopted, for those who are wondering how this makes sense) - as in, some of his ancestors were almost certainly slaves here in America, not too many generations ago. So slavery is in his much more immediate past, not a story from long ago. I wonder how this will affect his connection to seddarim in the future, and how he will feel, as he gets older, when he joins us in singing that song.
taylweaver: (Default)
First, thank you to all of you who made food suggestions, and to all of you who IMed or called to see how I was doing over the past few days - and also to all of you who IMed or called for other random reasons and then remembered and asked how I was doing. :)

The answer depended on when I was being asked.

So Thursday produced much anxiety - surprise surprise. I made it through with just the novicaine, but I panicked - needlessly, as it turns out - over how much the novicaine shots would hurt - and then I didn't calm down for a good long while. The procedure itself, while it had its unpleasant moments, did not involve much pain - just the sort that comes from having ones mouth open too wide for too long. But once I told him that, he removed the thing that was holding my mouth open, and I was able to close it between steps, and that helped a bit. And, overall, if it took ten minutes (not counting the waiting for my mouth to go numb part) I'd be surprised. It was quick.

And then it took me 20 minutes to calm down. I made it home on my own, though, even though the cab took nearly as long as the subway, and I had to walk an entire avenue block to catch one. Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] debka_notion for being on-call in case I needed her - even though I managed on my own.

And even more special thanks to my mom, who picked me up before the rush hour traffic got bad, and got me home before the novicaine wore off, such that by the time I was miserable, I was already on the couch in the family room with three different people available to whine to.

Early Thursday evening, I got to feel miserable for a few hours - well, mildly miserable - but I was feeling much better by around 8:30 or so. The feeling better part lasted through Friday, and then I felt worse again as of Saturday morning. Which means I have been using the prescription meds to help me sleep through the night - or rather, taking them later in the night when I realize I have not managed to sleep.

On Friday, I was feeling well enough to make most of a vegetable soup and home-made applesauce - and everyone agreed that the applesauce was yummy. There is very little left of it, in fact. But then I was useless yesterda.

So yesterday was not so fun, but then I took a long nap. And today is hopefully better than yesterday.

Tomorrow had better be better than today, because I plan to go to work.

And yes, [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2, I am now 50% less wise.

And that is the update.
taylweaver: (Default)
So after my summer courses, I had an entire month of vacation. Though two weeks of it were plagued by migraines, I feel, overall, that it was a good vacation, and a good length, and, aside from the exhaustion that comes from suddenly waking up two hours earlier than I have been, I am feeling okay about going back to work.

Some highlights of this past month include: two weekends at home with the family - for differing values of family, low-key hanging out with small groups of friends, Spamalot, Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare on the Run - twice, a Shabbat visit from [livejournal.com profile] sen_ichi_rei, a weekday visit from [livejournal.com profile] flintknappy and [livejournal.com profile] daphster, a trip down to visit [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild in her hometown - where [livejournal.com profile] flintknappy was also visiting, a trip to the mets game with [livejournal.com profile] daphster, [livejournal.com profile] flintknappy, and the trip's organizer, [livejournal.com profile] lexiefaye - in from her hometown for a wedding - and about ten other people I know from college, in which the Mets lost in the tenth inning after an exciting game, half a shabbat wih [livejournal.com profile] lexiefaye, and oh, did I mention that it was free drawstring totebag night at the Mets game? That's right. I ended the summer with a cleaner room, a few more pages scrapbooked, new sneakers, and yet another free totebag.

Anyway, it's been a good one. And now it is done.
taylweaver: (Default)
So, yesterday, I went home to my parents' house because I made a last minute medical appointment. On the way to the doctor, my mom and I stopped at Costco - where none of my toiletries existed in bulk. I bought some shorts, but I am probably returning them.

After the doctor, we went to Gap Outlet - where I bought more shorts (notice a theme?) and then to CVS for some summer toiletry shopping.

Then, my mom was supposed to drive me back to the city.

By the time we pulled into Dunkin Donuts to buy dinner, her eyelids were drooping. Yeah, so much for returning to the city.

Of course, I went home yesterday fully intending to return to the city - so I was completely unprepared for the overnight stay.

Except, of course, that we had just stopped at CVS. I had everything from shampoo to contact lens solution - even a case! - to sunblock!

By the time we got home, I realized that all I was really missing was, of all things, a toothbrush. Well, some digging in the closet "bought" me a new one of those. And a quick rummage through my old dresser provided night clothing.

So all was well with the world.

Anyway, how often does that happen? I just happen to stop at CVS on the way back to the city and I just happen to buy most of my toiletries for the summer on the very same night when my mom just happens to be too tired to drive me back to the city. I mean, how often do you find yourself unexpectedly staying by your parents' with a full bottle of shampoo and a brand new contact lens case that just happen to be sitting in your shopping bags?

And by the way, it's amazing to sleep in a bedroom that actually gets dark enough to see the glowing stars on the walls. It's been too long since I had a night's sleep like that...

Sometimes, I do miss the suburbs.
taylweaver: (Default)
So some of you may recall that, after last year, there was much cause for many friends to wish me an uneventful yom tov as we entered the last days of Pesach. I'd link to last year's LJ entry, but I can't recall how and I am tired. (If you need a reminder, it was posted May 1st, and it was one of my first entries)

Alas, uneventful was not to be. Thankfully, this year was not as bad as last year, but it was certainly more chaotic.

Erev Yom Tov, my cousin, Ben (Yes, [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild, that Ben) ended up in the hospital. After he went in with a severe headache, they discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland. They finally operated this afternoon (they had to wait until after the MRI that they did yesterday), and the surgery was successful (they removed the gland - and they are almost certain it is not cancer), but it made for a stressful yom tov.

His older sister (also my cousin - naturally) is the one who lives up the block from my parents with her husband and three kids. She spent all of yom tov near the hospital, and therefore away from the aforementioned husband and three kids. They were all supposed to be at my uncle's for yom tov, but he was, of course, near/at the hospital as well.

So my cousin's husband decided that he and the three kids would be better off staying in their own house if already they would be on their own - which, incidentally, meant they spent most of yom tov in my parents' house. (One of the big reasons why he made this decision - there were half a dozen free babysitters down the block...)

Anyway, take three kids who are a handful on a good day with both parents around, add in a last-minute change in yom tov plans, a parent who is away to be with an uncle who is suddenly sick, two days of yom tov, and the end of a week in which the kids have eaten almost nothing because none of them like Pesach food...

Yes, chaos is a very good word for it.

The entire first floor of our house became one big playroom, the cooking took twice as long - the kids love to cook - and we went through insane quantities of ice cream and chocolate chips - even the colorful ones that my mother thought were disgusting. Especially those.

It made me appreciate my family once again. I thought it was great that my cousin's husband was able to get to shul both days (remember, free babysitting) and that we not only had them over for lunch both days, but sent dinner up the block when the kids were asleep. And we got the kids to eat at least a little bit. And we all somehow got in naps of our own - in shifts - and today even the kids sort of napped... (the youngest, who turned two in November looked so cute curled up in the armchair with a mini pillow and airplane blanket, holding her sippy cup as she slept)

and somehow, despite the chaos, it felt so normal - because, of course, our house is as natural to them as their own. They even know how to get their own cereal - well, not this week - but the point is, we are used to having them around - though not usually for an entire day at once, two days in a row - and they are used to being around. Plus, it's harder to get stressed and worried when there are three kids in various states of 8th day of Pesach crankiness (actually, they were remarkably un-cranky) all clamoring for attention (again, this may be a slight exaggeration, partly because we had a very favorable caregiver to child ratio with myself, two siblings, a guest, plus my parents and their father).

And if we were all going to be stressed and worried, it's always better to do it together.

Plus, there was this added element of strangeness knowing that the 7th day was my grandfather's first yartzeit and the 8th day was yizkor, so life and death and all that was on our minds - or at least on mine - and to add on top of that the knowledge that my cousin is in the hospital, and that we knew he was having surgery but didn't know when or what was going on - and we knew that we weren't going to know until after yom tov unless something went drastically wrong - well, it was strange. To have those two things juxtaposed was very strange. Almost a bit surreal. The question loomed large in my mind: what if he died?

And Ben is my age. Which somehow makes it even stranger.

Anyway, so things were eventful and chaotic, and there was stuff going on - but somehow, it wasn't exactly bad. Ben is going to take a while to recover, of course, since they need to get his hormones back in balance and such, but in terms of how yom tov itself went, well, it wasn't restful, and it wasn't what we expected, but it was still good to see the kids - which we weren't supposed to - and it was good to be with family. And we had a meal out with the friends who couldn't come to lunch last year (again, see last year's entry) - who invited us precisely to make up for the meal they had to miss after my grandfather died. And somehow, when yom tov ended, it felt like it had been good - just different. I am not sure if the rest of my family would agree - especially my mom, who had to do a lot more this yom tov than she had planned on - but that was the feeling I was left with.

Oh, and for those who daven for people, Ben's Hebrew name is Yitzhak Liron ben Tzirel Leah

Happy chametz
taylweaver: (Default)
= very giggly [livejournal.com profile] taylweaver.

And that was only the first sedder. Somehow, a few more hours of sleep and one less cup of wine (we weren't done yet) on the following night was still enough to set me off - though I did have a little help from [livejournal.com profile] mbarr on that one... and my brother kicking me under the table wasn't exactly going to make things better...

Not my most reverent hallel.

The seddarim were good - and blessedly uneventful, as those of you who recall last year's Pesach happenings will understand. (Granted, that was mostly the last days of Pesach, but still...)

Funny, I think I began this LJ about a year ago now - Pesach was one of my first entries.

Anyway, I was not the only exhausted one at the first sedder. I think that must have been the most pathetic Nirtza ever - none of us had energy to sing. I think my sister captured the mood perfectly when, at 11:30, as we were nearing the very end, she asked, in a very plaintive tone, "Do we have to sing chad gadya?" The rest of us definitely shared her sentiment, but sing it we did, though not with much spirit.

Even on the second night, we were tired enough to lose track of which verse we were up to in half the songs - who knows one, chad gadya, etc.

But they were still wonderful seddarim, and the three days flew by - maybe because I spent so much time napping.

Hooray for time off - even if I feel like there is *nothing* I can eat for a week...
taylweaver: (Default)
Assign the first bracha to someone at one end of the long table. Then assign the second bracha to someone at the other end of the table. Repeat five more times. It is especially entertaining if you manage to pick two people who are sitting next to each other for non-consecutive brachot, and have the one person between them sitting at the opposite end.

My father got his exercise yesterday evening.

My family hosted a sheva brachot at his office. It was about... 30 people? Take two tables, put them end to end. Repeat on the other side. Then put a table crosswise at the head and at the foot, making one large square. Feels roomy, but also cozy. It was good. Also low-key and casual.

The wedding on Sunday was beautiful as well. It was also wonderful that the entire family was invited. We got a wonderful photo of ourselves.

And the bride and groom got about five sets of photos via people who used Snapfish (myself included - did I mention I uploaded 75 photos of the wedding?) and yesterday, two days after the wedding, they had already ordered over 100 photos to be printed - and were going to pick them up from Walgreens (you can do that on Snapfish) on the way home.

Digital cameras are a wonderful invention.
taylweaver: (Default)
Has it really been 20 days since I last posted? On the one hand, that seems unreasonably long. On the other, so much has happened over the past 20 or so days that I feel like it has to have been far longer.

And now for an update:

Days 1-2: Transit Strike, alas, continues. Slightly worn sneakers carry me half an hour by foot to the alternate site I got myself assigned to (so that I could actually call it a work day) and half an hour by foot back home. Day 1 also included a detour to Teachers College (I was sort of in the neighborhood) to order a document I need in order to get my salary up to where it should be. It also included a stop at the Bank Street bookstore on the way home. Did you know they sell packages of blank dice? With label stickers? They're great when you want your dice to only go up to 3 so that your students don't win the game too quickly.

On Day 2, (3rd day of the strike, as my last post was the first day), the strike officially ended some time during the day. It did not end on a more practical level until the following day, however, so my now considerably more worn out sneakers carried me home to pack a heavy suitcase, and then outside to catch a cab so I could catch the charter bus that I rode to where I spent the next seven days...

Days 3-9: USY Convention. For those who don't know, this is a gathering of over 1,000 Jewish teenagers (was it 1,150 this year?) from all across the US and Canada for a week of learning, praying, social action, socializing, and other general fun.

Day 3: Now worn-out sneakers and worn-out feet carry me all over the hotel as I help to get ready for the teen-agers, who will arrive on Day 5. This year, I got to make signs (as usual) with schedules, room info, etc. Then Shabbat began - but I will call all of that Day 4 (a la Jewish calendar time)

Day 4: Shabbat. A very special Shabbat that I look forward to every year. This is a day when my dress shoes get to carry my tired feet and body to amazing services (because the people on staff care) and some okay meals... but the special parts are the Friday night gathering in the director's suite (some of you know who the director is - but I will give no further detail in a public entry) at which home-made dessert foods play a starring role - my own bar cookies included. This year, I was too tired to enjoy all this - but I did enjoy a good night's sleep in the cozy hotel bed ([livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer would love these beds - all poofy and squashy and down-filled. Those with allergies to down would probably hate them.) The following morning, I got to enjoy waking up when it was already light out, reading from the Torah - and pretty well, too, I think - and hearing my father teach about the weekly Torah portion - specifically about Joseph. There are times when I really love hearing my father teach, and this was one of them. He is all about group discussion, and it was pretty interesting to think of Joseph in new ways. One take on him that I really appreciated: Joseph as the equivalent of the straight-A student who wants people to like him, and thinks that boasting about his good grades is the way to get there - because he has little concept of how to be liked by others. Or something like that. Another interesting idea that came up: Maybe he wasn't in touch with his father during his time in Egypt because he thought his dad was in on the conspiracy - having sent him out to check on his brothers in the field (which leads to the pit and the sale and Egypt) when his dad knew his brothers disliked him. Shabbat also included an extra long nap.

Saturday night, it was back to work, getting everything ready for...

Day 5: USY Convention begins. The usual excitement. Plus an unusual event: family Chanukah party in Philadelphia with a combination of local relatives and cousins who were visiting other local relatives. Cousins as in three little kids who were very cute and photogenic. Yay digital camera! So the first night of Chanukah was really special.

Day 6: Convention, second day. A highlight: the keynote speaker was a family friend. She is disabled, and spoke about her experiences in USY, her disability, and her life story in general. The USYers gave her a standing ovation, and I learned things about her life that I never knew before.

Day 7: Convention, third day. Since the educational theme was disabilities, this day of social action projects, which carried groups of USYers all over the Philly area, ended with all of us at Temple University, watching a wheelchair basketball game. Then some USYers who won raffles got to try out wheelchair basketball for themselves. I got to give out boxed dinners. And then I got to help man the lost and found, which had tons of stuff in it, because things fell beneath the bleachers and had to be collected afterward.

Day 8: Fourth day of Convention. Concluded with a dinner dance. Loud and chaotic for the USYers, quieter for the staff - we ate, then began packing up - more wear on my shoes...

Day 9: Convention ended. We watched a fun video, then said tefillat haderech (the traveller's prayer) together before heading our separate ways until next year. I got to go home via NYC, so I could get my computer. Then home with my family for a few days (as opposed to at the convention with them)...

Day 10: Got to sleep in late. Put in an effort to find time for the purchase of new sneakers - except that my sister's coat made its way into that same lost and found (not via the bleachers, but because she was helping to sort the stuff back at the hotel and forgot to take her coat at the end of that) and so her coat was in a box, being shipped back to the USY office, so her issue took priority - but in the end, we got to neither.

Day 11: Quiet Shabbat with my family. After such an exhausting week, not nearly enough time to nap. Also gave my sneakers another good workout with a 30-minute walk to shul, and the same walk back. Wore my new Shabbat coat for the first time - and got snow on it! Managed to nap through an an exciting snowstorm in the afternoon. Also managed to get a ride back into the city that evening - New Years party at NU's - only she was sick, so we only saw her roommate. Fireworks from the roof of [livejournal.com profile] mbarr and [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2's building - they looked small and less impressive than last year - I guess I wasn't in the same mood. Oh well.

Day 12: recovering from Day 11 - no, didn't have anything too toxic... - and also a little Chanukah get-together at [livejournal.com profile] mbarr and [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2's apartment. They let me fry beignets in their kitchen. Much fun. Much tasty sugary goodness.

Day 13: last day to recuperate before returning to work. I think that was also the day I realized that wearing the sneakers was hopeless, as they had worn too far and were now rubbing my toe. Didn't do anything too interesting that I can recall.

Day 14-17: Back to work. Wearing shoes other than my sneakers. A different pair each day, as each set was rubbing in a different place. Also saw two doctors - turns out I have enflamed eyelashes - or eyelids, anyway. And $35 later (plus the appointment cost), I have a prescription cream to put on my eyelids. And was it on Day 16 that I went to Barnes and Noble and had fun buying calendars half price? A crochet calendar (as in, a whole box of crochet patterns that just happen to have dates on them) for myself, a magnetic poetry calendar, and two weather calendars for my students, since I may be teaching Earth Science next quarter. And on Day 14, I ordered new sneakers online.

Day 17 also included a trip down to JH's synagogue, and the usual hour walk back up - which my feet somehow survived.

Day 18 saw me reunited with [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild, who was here too briefly, but who also got me back in touch with [livejournal.com profile] terriqat and [livejournal.com profile] shirei_shibolim, and I followed them back to their apartment after lunch for more hang-out time. That evening, [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild was off again, and I got to see the second Star Wars movie (as in, the second one made, NOT Episode II) with friends.

I also began to crochet a mobius strip shawl. As [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer pointed out, this is not only a fun project for me, but a way for me to understand the mobius strip a bit better.

Day 19 was mostly spent cleaning up from Day 18. And I think I did some other random stuff too...

Day 20's big highlight was hearing Neil Gaiman speak at the 92nd Street Y. He spent a lot of time speaking about the writing process, which I found useful. And he is also rather entertaining. Plus, I got three books signed (two of which I have actually read before...) I bought all three at Barnes and Noble beforehand - and the best part was, one of them, Anansi Boys, was 50% off - just begging me to buy it! So that was a really great evening.

Which brings us to today. I wonder if my new sneakers have arrived yet...

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