Thursday, July 23, 2015


So, this image popped up on my feed today, and I just couldn't stay silent about it, despite a solid 10 hours of trying. 

Besides the obvious frustrating issues with it (Mexican and Muslim aren't races...), there's only one answer to this "question". 

Because white pride is already every other day. 

Because you're already assured on a daily basis that your skin color and race and heritage is correct. 

Because you open magazines, watch TV and movies, see posters of people who look like, who assure you that you are beautiful because you look the same as them, that you matter, that you are represented in the world around you. 

Because you are taught the history of your ancestors in school.  Because you can name most of the countries in Europe, but you can't name most of the countries in Africa or South America.  Because you know the rough history of the leaders and types of government of various European countries, but have no idea how Africa, Asia, and South American countries are governed.  Because you know the names of a few Native American tribes, but would have trouble naming where they were located, how they governed, or whether they still remain.  Because you assume nearly all Africans live in poverty and all Native Americans lived in teepees. 

Because you know the advances that were made by your people.  You can rattle off several white inventors, scientists, etc, but when it comes to successful Black people of history, you're pretty sure that George Washington Carver invented...I dunno...something with peanuts? 

Because the only thing you fear when you're pulled over having to pay a lot of money for that ticket.  Because the worst name you get called is "hillbilly", or "white trash".  Because you've never been refused service, or followed home by a man on a cell phone, or asked to prove that you're a legal citizen. 

Because you've never been called a terrorist.  Because when Dylan Roof shot up that church, you didn't fear retaliation because of your association with Christianity, or because you were white.  Because 6 million of your grandparents weren't gassed to death because of their religion.  Because you're not forced to take your cross necklace off in order to work. 

Because when you move into a house, the neighbors automatically assume you're a good family.  Car dealers don't automatically assume you have bad credit.  Employers don't automatically assume you have a rap sheet.  

The world already celebrates you.  Celebrating others doesn't hurt you.  Shut up and stay in your seat for a change. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

An amazing day

This weekend was...eventful, to say the least.  I walked a 5k (The Color Run), which is my second 5k completed ever, and I was pretty proud of myself.  I did have one bit in the middle where I started to panic, and at the end I was exhausted and tired and out of breath, so I got a bit scared again, but I never actually had a panic attack, and I was able to manage myself to a degree that I never felt out of control.  I was really proud of myself Saturday morning.  We went and got my windshield replaced, and I was ready to go home and take a nap.

Then.  THEN!

My sister went into labor. She was in the hospital all day Saturday, and Olivia Noel was born at 12:25am July 19th, a Prime Day, as I call it.  7, 19, 719, 197....all prime. She's basically destined to be a math nerd, is what I'm saying.

Baby Olivia is perfect.  I mean, obviously no baby is REALLY perfect, but I'm completely in love with her already.  She's got little ears that look like bacon, and her nose is all smushed to the side, and she's so quiet.  I've yet to hear her actually cry.  I forsee myself spending a lot of time in Sunbury visiting her.  I didn't get to see Hiro as much when he was a newborn, and I plan on making up for that with Oliva.


I was taken aback by how impressive my sister was during her labor and delivery.  My baby sister (whom I will always think of as 12 years old even though she's 25) handled the whole thing so well.  There was never any screaming, or crying, or yelling.  She gave birth the same way she was born - quietly and calmly.  Her first epidural didn't work, and even then, she worked through the contractions silently, with her eyes closed. The only time I heard her make a noise that almost sounded like crying was when she saw Olivia for the first time.

She was amazing.  She was awe-inspiring.  I'll always look up to her now, for how she did that. I'm absolutely not saying that women who make noise during labor aren't impressive, obviously.  I was so unexpected, especially from someone related to me, the girl who whines and moans when she gets a stomachache.  I strive to be like her, to be so graceful in such an intense situation.

Watching Olivia be born feels like a life-changing experience.  Once Sarah started pushing, I started texting Brian, telling him how there's no way I could ever do this, that I was terrified for her, that I wouldn't be able to handle it.  I watched my sister's heartrate go from 90 to 180 and back again, over and over and over.  I watched her shake uncontrollably from the hormones. I watched her get nauseated from the epidural, and the whole time, I thought "there's no way I could do this. There's no way." I'd be inconsolable, out of control, screaming to be put under. I'd be sobbing and scared and completely insane.

But she did it, and did it well. Once Olivia came out, my brain flipped a switch, and suddenly I felt like maybe I could make it through that. I looked at her daughter, exactly like her mother, quiet as a mouse, looking around wondering who it was that forced her out of her warm little home, and wanted that. If my delicate little baby sister can be so strong, maybe I can be too.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Learning from Terror

Yesterday I had the worst panic attack of my life so far.  Now that I'm feeling better, I'm trying to find the positives in feeling like I was about to die for an hour and a half.

We took my nephew to the zoo yesterday, and it was fun.  He liked the giraffes and the little fish, and he didn't like the penguins or the really big fish.  I drank lots of water and wore sandals against my better judgement, so by the time we were ready to leave, my feet were hurting pretty badly, but I felt okay otherwise.

As we were walking out to the car, my stomach started to feel a bit upset, probably due to the fact that I ate chicken tenders for lunch instead of like, you know, anything else which would have been better for me.  (Looking back, I honestly think this whole thing would have been avoided had this feeling come on sooner, before we'd left the zoo, and I could have used the restroom.  I feel like 90% of my regular panic attacks start because of an upset stomach.  For some reason they always make me dizzy, which sets off the panic.)

As we got closer to the car, I started to freak out a little, feeling like I was going to puke or faint or both.  I got in the car and tried to breathe and drink water, and we set off for my parent's to drop Hiro off.

Then things got really, really bad.  I think I was maybe more dehydrated than I'd realized, and thinking that made me feel like I was about to die for sure.  My head had either too much pressure or an utter lack of pressure in it (a mix of panic and dehydration), my arms, legs, and lips were tingling and wouldn't stop (panic), and I still had an upset stomach and nausea (lunch, with a sprinkle of panic).  I completely lost it.  Poor Brian had to be in the car with me for an hour as we drove to Sunbury, with me INSISTING that we needed to stop and go to an Urgent Care or an Emergency Room RIGHT NOW so I could live.

Eventually, I managed to push the worst of the panic at bay, and worked on accepting what was happening, enough for me to allow Brian to stop at a CVS and get me a Powerade, in case I needed me some electrolytes (What Plants Crave.)  I basically put my head down and let the feelings wash over me, practicing observation without judgement, and kept thinking "the absolute worst that could happen is I slip into a coma, which Brian will notice and take me to a hospital."

We got to my parent's house, and I limped inside, literally.  My legs and arms were still weak and tingly and it was kind of hard to walk (panic with a sprinkle of dehydration).  I went immediately to the bathroom and took a brief shower. The shower has been my Calm Place for years, and as soon as I stepped in, I felt more normal. My inner thought changed to "the absolute worst that could happen is that I faint, which my family will hear and call an ambulance."

I took advantage of the normalcy I felt in the shower and did a few yoga stretches and poses (safe ones, like Mountain and Upward Salute!), and my inner thought changed to "I am a mountain, rooted safely in the ground," which sounds ridiculous to someone who isn't feeling like they're about to die, aka me right now, but me back then really needed that.

I turned off the shower and immediately lost the sense of normalcy, I went out to sit with my family and lost my rootedness. I went back to panicking, and spent probably half an hour trying to convince everyone that I was dying, before eating a few Tums (another Calming Habit) and lying down on the floor with my eyes closed while everyone politely pretended I wasn't there. Eventually I felt well enough to go home, and I promptly took a two hour nap (typical for panic - once it's over, you feel like you haven't slept for DAYS).

So, now that it's the next morning (4am what's up thanks for not letting me sleep, body), I am trying to look at the positives of what happened yesterday, because it was literally one of the worst 3 hour stretches of my entire life.  So, a list!

  • I got to practice AWARE (Accept, Watch, Act, Repeat, Expect): Once I started to accept what was happening, I was able to watch it, mostly without judgement, which eventually allowed me to act mostly normal, and expect the best outcome, which obviously did happen.  This is something I really try to practice when I have panic attacks, but I accept that I didn't do very well with this one, because it was so much worse than anything I've experienced before. 
  • I managed to remember my Calming Habits (shower, water, Tums, and sleep).  Unfortunately I didn't have any Tums in the car when we were driving (damn me and my switching of purses!), or things might have calmed down earlier.  I also learned that water isn't always a Calming Habit apparently, as it kept making me feel worse this time. 
  • Googling is apparently becoming a Calming Habit for me, as I was able to use it to a) help figure out what symptoms I was having were panic vs dehydration, and b) remember how to slow down a panic attack.  I was also able to see that at worst, I was suffering from moderate dehydration, which is solved with fluids and not hospitals. 
  • While in the worst of it, I kept saying "there's no way I can do the 5k next weekend I really WILL die." But after my nap, that changed to "I can probably still do the 5k, if I only walk and drink water the whole time."  Yeah, it'll probably take me over an hour to finish, but I'll still finish and maybe not even want to faint at the end of it. 
So far, those are the only positives I've been able to find - it was still a pretty traumatic experience.   But, I woke up this morning not feeling too thirsty, which is good, and my arms barely hurt at all, which is good, and I don't feel like death is imminent, which is REALLY good.  I'm going to have a relaxing day, maybe go to the Music and Arts festival, maybe not, and overall BE WELL. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Such fail. Wow.

Guys, I completely forgot about this thing!

Well, that's kind of a lie.  I didn't completely forget, I just didn't have anything to say.

Okay, that's definitely a lie, I never don't have something to say.  I'm just...lazy?

Oh, yep, that's the one.


I don't have anything big and important to say - I think I've just been too tired lately to be deep.  I've been very tired for a very long time, but I'm finally taking steps to fix that.  I've got an appointment with a sleep clinic for an initial consultation at the end of this month, and maybe they'll finally figure out why I'm so sleepy.  I'm also seeing "a guy" (as I refer to my therapist), which is theoretically helping?  But I never feel like I have anything to say during my hour, so it's a lot of awkward silences.  He wants to give me things to work on, but I don't feel like I have much to work on, or maybe I have to work on ALL the things, so it's too overwhelming to start trying? Sometimes I feel like my rational brain prevents me from benefiting too much from therapy.

I think right now I'm feeling like kind of a failure, and since I have an appointment with "the guy" tomorrow, I'll write down why I'm such a failure:

1) I worry that the knit and crochet things I've made lately are going to fall apart in a few months, leaving me with nothing but a pile of yarn and a lot of embarrassment.

2) I haven't quilted since before Christmas, and I have multiple quilt tops to finish, and I feel like if I don't make them I'm just wasting money (other people's money, since the kits were Christmas gifts). My brain doesn't allow for the idea that I'll make them in the future....apparently they're a waste if I don't make them NOW.

3) I want to find a new job, but also I don't want to find a new job, but I'd like to make more money and I could somewhere else, but I don't want to leave my boss, but maybe I just don't want to work at all, but perhaps I should just start applying for things and see where it goes, but...effort....and maybe I'm just a lazy failure.

4) I don't remember the last time I cooked dinner. Making salad from a kit last night doesn't count.

5) I still can't decide if I want kids.

6) I haven't done any cross-stitch, embroidery, or non-yarn-related crafts in months.  I like doing them, but I have so many other projects that I want to do.

7) My gallery wall is a mess and needs reorganized, and many of the like, 20 other pieces I have to hang on it still need to be framed, and now that the TV is up I just have no excuse, but I don't even know where to start with it so instead I'll just sit on the couch and take a nap.

8) Haven't gone to temple in probably almost a year.  Haven't worked on converting at all.  I was so close, and now I've just...given up.  Or maybe I wasn't close at all.

Obviously I am aware that many of these are just absolutely ridiculous things to be down on myself about, and if I mention them to the guy he's just going to tell me to read another Brene Brown book or something, which, no.  BUT I SHOULD JUST LISTEN, right?


Ugh, this whole entry is a mess.  What a comeback.  I'll leave you with this super cool gif:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What a slow process.

July 24th, 2013 was the day that I decided to explore Judaism for serious.  (As opposed to my previous explorations, which were at best half-hearted and mostly revolved around trying to figure out if I should find a nice Jewish boy to marry and also if Brian was secretly Jewish because I mean seriously have you seen him?)

It's now 8 months later, and I'm finally almost ready to START converting.  The last 8 months have been a process of deciding if I want to convert, spending some time immersing myself in Judaism, and studying history, lifestyle, and law, and generally waffling back and forth over whether or not I should.  Now, I've just sent off an email to my rabbi's assistant, indicating that I'd like to meet with him and actually begin.  If he lets me, which honestly I'm still not sure he will, this process will take probably another year.

I hadn't been to services in a month, and somehow along with that I hadn't done anything Jewish - no books, no candles, no Shabbat dinner, nothing, and I felt bland.  But then I went to services on Friday night and sang along and amazed myself by knowing the words to Lecha Dodi.  I got home and discovered a package from my also-converting friend Jamie with a hand-crocheted kippah in it. Today I went to the Kosher Kroger for the first time, and I just felt happy.  I wanted to try all the things and buy all the things and make a kosher dinner.   I just feel...energized now.

There was a big crowd at services on Friday - Bar Mitzvah AND a Bat Mitzvah - and I sat next to an older lady, Marilyn, that I've sat with before.  She comes with her mother, who cracks me up, because she starts making fun of the "ch" sound whenever things get "too Hebrew", as she puts it.  Her daughter gives her a stern look and she always goes "I'm just clearing my throat."  I want to be BFFs with this 80+ year old woman, guys.  Marilyn invited me to a Women's Intergenerational seder next week, which I'm excited for.  I want to meet more people, and this seems like a good way to do so.


On a related but different note, there's something else that's been weighing on my mind.  Over the past 8 months, as I've been studying, I've started to recognize the huge gap between Judaism and Christianity.  Prior to this, I've always felt like Christianity was just an extension of Judiasm - taking the original religion and expanding it, dropping some things and picking up others - much like the difference between Mormons and Catholics. Obviously that was just terribly wrong, and I'm kind of relived that I finally recognize that.  Christianity, the religion I was raised with, feels completely alien to me now. (Don't get me started on how odd the concept of Jesus is to me.)  The concept of original sin, and the requirement of "salvation"...those are things I never have to worry about or even think about again.

I have this tiny book - Why Be Jewish - and there was a passage in it that keeps sticking with me:
Judaism sees human beings as the measure of all things.  We have mixed within us the varied and contradictory characteristics of all creation.  Judaism does not look on human beings as essentially sinful.  Original sin, the view of classical Christianity since Paul and Augustine, eems to condemn us to lose the game before we begin.  In this view, all human beings are born sinners, and only unearned grace can save them.  In the Jewish tradition, each of us writes his or her own personal moral slate.  We do not begin life with an unpayable debt.  At each moment we make a moral choice.  Our lives are the sum of our actions, tempered by our intention, limited by our endowments, ennobled by our faith. 
 This is such a relief.  To not have to live under the burden of thinking that you're doomed to be this horrible terrible person without's so freeing.  It's such a realistic and positive view of life - I'm never going back.

I'm going to go read now, I think.  I've got a backlog of Judaism books and I really want to catch up. Gots to capitalize on this energy while I've got it.

Friday, January 31, 2014


Several years ago, I realized that I didn't have any hobbies.  Whenever I came across the "what do you do in your spare time" question, I was stumped.  I mean, I had things that I did when I wasn't at work and/or sleeping, but they were exclusively "spend time on the internet" and "watch TV".  Those are not really hobbies.  I was envious of people with proper hobbies - Brian spent his time repairing electronic things and making his arcade video game system thing, but I couldn't really find a similar way to occupy my time.

I started to look around at my friends, and I realized that what I was really jealous of was their ability to create.  I have some amazingly talented friends, people who take beautiful pictures, make fantastic string art, freaking write plays...they all had something that they made that was separate from them and would last long after they were gone.  That's what I wanted.

So I decided to create, and in doing so I found some hobbies.

My first step was to narrow down what I had at least some ability to do.  I can't draw stick-figures, all of my photographs come out blurry and off-center, and any story that I try to write, well, also comes out blurry and off-center.  Then I remembered that my mother actually taught me useful things when I was a kid.  She never taught me how to do make-up, style my hair, or carry on a normal conversation, but she did teach me how to use a sewing machine, how to cross-stitch, and how to crochet a little.

So I started with buying a sewing machine for my birthday.  Eager to show Brian that I hadn't just wasted several hundred dollars, I promptly made a couple of messenger bags and a hilariously too-big pair of PJ pants.  At that point I remembered that I am terrible with patterns (although I do love the messenger bags), and despaired that I actually HAD wasted several hundred dollars.  I started futzing around with my leftover fabric, and I accidentally made a quilt block.   Then I accidentally made a whole quilt top.

I guess I quilt now.  That's a hobby, right?  I'm not good at it, and I haven't actually finished a quilt yet (that top is still waiting to be batted, backed, and bound), but I have blocks from two other quilts going now, so it is officially a hobby!


After my success with the quilt top, I decided to venture away from the machine and remember how to cross-stitch.  My first project was a complete success, and I still love looking at it each day when I come home.  I just finished my second project, and I haven't quite decided what to do with it yet.  I have a third, fourth, and fifth pattern in the queue, so cross-stitching is officially a second hobby!


After my success at cross-stitching, I decided to go into other thread-related arenas.  I started embroidering a challah cover (still not done).  I knitted a scarf (just finished).  I just learned last night how to crochet in the round, and we'll see how that goes.   SO MANY THINGS.  I'm not sure if any of these will become official hobbies or not, but these are still things that I've created and can use in my life and in my house, and I feel so good about them, wobbly worksmanship or not.

The best part of this though, is that when I come across the "what do you do in your spare time" question, I finally have an answer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 614th Mitzvah

Sometimes in my reading and watching and all the learning that I have to do, the weight of the history of the Jewish people feels like it's too much to take on.  Last night I read about the Shoah and it really clicked how many Jews were actually killed.  For Germany to go from 3,300,000 Jews to 300, hear 6 million tossed around and yes, it's a lot but there are 7 billion people in the world, so 6 million doesn't seem so many...and then you realize there are only maybe 13, 14 million Jews alive today, and suddenly you realize that 6 million is an entire third of that.  90% of Poland's Jews were exterminated.

It's just so many.  It's so heavy.  We watched The Pianist and it just felt like my soul was breaking.

Each day it seems my eyes are opened a little bit more, like I can see through a crack in a door to another world wherein most of the Jews of the world WEREN'T killed.  What would a world be like?