March 2006 Archives

Mara and Failure

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I don't do so well with failure. If I think failure looms I tend to shrink from doing the task at all.

Case in point: driver's license.

In the States, at least at the time, it was typical to get one's driver's license when one turned 16. So, shortly after turning 16, I dutifully took the driver's education course at high school. Wisely, the instructor took us out to practice during the school day - when most people are safely out of harms way at work or school. The first time I got to practice in that class was literaly my first time behind the wheel (I think the others in the class really feared for their life). I remember taking a left turn not quite sharply enough. I started going into a yard instead of the street. When I realized it, I panicked and instead of hitting the brakes, I gunned it!! Fortunately, the driving instructor had a break on his side and saved the house in front of us. He just had me reverse and drive away - I always wondered about their lawn. Shouldn't I have paid for re-seeding it? The instructor didn't seem to think so.

Anyway, it was almost two full years before I got around to getting my license. I saw so many friends flunk that test - repeatedly. And I just couldn't handle it. I remember one day trying to get up the courage to make an appointment to take the test. I had to decide whether I'd take it first thing in the morning before going to school, or taking it after school. My dear sister recommended I take it after school so that I "wouldn't be depressed all day". We laugh now, but I just didn't make the appointment for like another 6 months or so. I think I see failure as a sign of weakness or inability.

I remember planning my oral exams for my master's degree. Two weeks prior to the exams for which I had been preparing for two years, they told me I had to switch one of my areas of specialty. Two years...two weeks. I asked how on earth that could be possible?!?! The response was, "well, if you flunk that area, you'll just take it again later." So, wait, let me get this straight, fo the first 22 years of my education, flunking is the most shameful and bad thing a student can do, and then after that it's normal? I chose another area and crammed (17th century drama? yeah, I read all those books in ENGLISH - shameful, but true. Fortunately, I had also done my undergraduate thesis on that era). Turned out I flunked in every area except that one, I think. Drr. But, get this, I survived. Not sure I remember too much of that stuff anymore, but I did survive. [side note: I do remember what I wore to the exams though...]

In any case, I tend to shrink from possible failure. Events, programs, opportunities, challenges - passed for fear of failure.

All this to say that I have taken on a project in which failure is nearly constant, success is in no way secured and I have absolutely no choice but to plod on. Well, I suppose I do, as always, but this time I refuse to le that be an option.

I have worked hard on building my relationship with God. Cancer in the family has, in its silver lining way, been an amazing opportunity for me to work on that and understand just how hard reliance on God can be and how useless (and stress-inducing) it is for me to try to live my life without relying on God. Now, apparently, I'm supposed to apply what I've learned. Aw, shoot. Didn't we just talk about this whole failure thing?

Oh! One final note: seeing as how I don't have a whole lot of experience at sustained failure, if anyone has suggestions on how to remain positive during my continued attempts I would happy accept them!!!

Baha'is in Iran

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Baha'i Blog, which I also have a link to over at the sidebar has an excellent summary with an accompanying map that is very helpful and informative about the worsening plight of Baha'is in Iran.

This most recent news, that the Iranian government has ordered the identification and monitoring of all Baha'is, was first released here.

And if you are afraid that I am simply overreacting, here is the perspective of someone who is not a Baha'i: The Times.

I admit, my life may not be the cheeriest at the moment, but I am allowed to have a life and that is much more than I can say for the more than 300,000 Baha'is currently living in Iran. The information contained in the links above is much better than anything I could say. And the conveyance of information is the power we have.

The Shuddering Refrigerator

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For those of you who have visited or stayed in our flat I would like to inform you that the shuddering has ceased. It will no longer sound like someone is trying to break into our home every time the refrigerator is powering up/down.


This weekend, all weekend long, we deep deep deep cleaned - with respites only for a brief visit to Baha'u'llah's first residence once released from the prison-city of Akka (the home is in the nearby village of Mazra'ih) and a birthday party for Ati Nanay, who is sort of a matriarch of the Filipino community here. I ate far too much biko - a Filipino rice/coconut cream dessert. I'd never had it with jackfruit before!

And finally, a visit to IKEA to organize our freakishly clean apartment. It's a phenomenon I don't understand, but commercial/retail centers are apparently the place to be at the end of shabbat. The malls here are madhouses, and the same can certainly be said of IKEA. Particularly if you have very, very young infants/children - don't they want their kiddos in bed?! It took us half an hour to get through the checkout line - could you imagine trying to keep an infant from raving lunacy as you wait? And yet so many people were doing just that - or, and I swear I am not overexaggerating - if someone wasn't trying to keep their infant from absolutely losing it, there was a pregnant woman involved. Clearly, IKEA is a favorite of the young family set. The bazillions of people were crazy-making enough as it was, but do they all have to be either carrying a baby on their arm or in their belly?!

Warning: don't place a drink on the left side of your computer and drink from it while typing - if it hits the escape key on its way back down, you lose everything! Indeed!

South Park

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I know you're all dying to know what I'd look like as a South Park character.

So here I am. You can create your own South Park image here.

mara southpark.jpg

We're Going Camping!

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I am so, so, so excited! We're going camping this weekend. I'm just thrilled at the prospect of a bit of a change. Mark and I have been in a bit of a funk lately, just no energy to do much of anything - and getting out of town is exactly what we want to do.

Mark and I have never gone camping together before. I come from a family of hard core campers - I've dug my own latrines. Mark's camping experience, well, let's just say I'm hoping to introduce him to proper camping. [Rae, you were with him at the camp-out at the Columbus Baha'i Center. I heard it involved him bringing only a spray bottle of olive oil as his 'gear'?]

Too Much Information

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The day you forget to put deodorant on - that never turns out to be a good day.

My Scanner is Not So Good

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However, my sister is a cutie patootie!


This is a picture that was taken at least 3 years ago by our friend George, who arrived at the Baha'i World Centre at the exact same time as me. Know how I know? We drove in to Haifa from the airport together!

And he's been promising me this photo ever since!!!!

"Open Up! This is Daddy!"

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This is me as a chubby little cherub.


Juxtapose that with my dashing young father.


Okay, keep those pictures in your head. When I was not much older than this, about 5 really, my older brother, Nathan, moved into the habitable half of the attic as his bedroom. Our younger sister, Rachael had been born, and so our parents decided it was time for the boy to have his own bedroom and the girls would share the 'real' bedroom [there were only 2 in my parents home - they getting the other 'real' bedroom]. The attic has a door on a pulley system, as the door closes down onto the set of stairs leading up to it.

So, one day, our mother was having a private conversation with Nathan in his bedroom. The door was closed. I suspect that one, if not both, were also sitting on the door to further insure no interruption. Although maybe not, at the time the door was crazy heavy with a crazy heavy weight on the other end of the pulley and I doubt that at 5 I could have opened the door on my own.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't allowed to join the conversation. But who could? I bet Daddy could....

So, the big, scruffy 5-year-old girl that I was (I can actually picture myself in some cute dress, too - I adored them at the time), I bellowed out (or so I thought)"OPEN UP! THIS IS DADDY!" Which was quickly followed by a somewhat stunned silence that devolved into obscenely amused laughter. [and "Mara, go away, this is private" - or some such thing]

I still remember thinking, "how do they know?" Maybe that's when I started stealing nickels from the steps up to his room....[um, very, very, very belated apologies, Nae - I know you hated it, accused me of it, and I totally denied it, ahem. as I said - sorry!] Don't know why it was just nickels, but it was.


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At 3:55 this morning (I looked at the clock, yes), I woke to the sound of ... my air conditioner turning itself on? What is that noise? Where is it coming from? Are we being gassed? (remember, it was 4 in the morning!) I was freaked out by the noise, and I have to admit to being a bit nervous about opening the windows to find out what was going on. Mark, well, it was 4 in the morning. He didn't even sit up. He figured someone was 'doing some cleaning'. Hey, it was 4 in the morning.

I did open some windows and I could tell it was definitely louder on one side of the house, but since it was definitely external, I let it go at that.

Then, at 5:40 this morning, Mark got up to eat breakfast before the sun came up as he is fasting. He went to get his sweat pants, which were in the back room. And there he was greeted by .... wet sweat pants, not to mention wet carpet, wet wall, wet weight set, etc. We called folks about it. I found the source of the problem - pipe to the hot water heater - and turned off the water main. All good. Problem is, turns out it isn't our hot water heater, or even our water main. Which means we can still take a shower, thankfully, but that we have to find our neighbors so that they can rectify the situation.

Oh, and not to worry, it is not a flood in the sense that things were floating around a seemingly contained back room. There is some damage to the roof/ceiling, I'm sure, but we were able to lay the rug out to dry and mop up most everything else. And hopefully the warm air and sunshine will keep the (rock) wall fairly dry, as there are occasional drips still happening.

Fashionable Rant

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Mark likes to check out the latest and greatest on various blogs such as Gizmodo, Engadget, MocoLoco, Grassroots Modern and others of that ilk. Yeah, so I'm lazy about the links, so shoot me.

These blogs are great fun, don't get me wrong. But one of them ('them' being the trend-informer blogs) - - had links to stuff, that, well, was simply absurd. Absa-freaking-surd. I tell you. There was an 'organic' clothes line that, for one, I find frustrating because apparently, everyone who is a treehugger is also a holdover from the heyday of Nirvana and the grunge gang. But furthermore their prices made me think that they were a hoax. Seriously. Their tee-shirts were $40! They had a pair of men's jeans for $159. Yeah. $159. If these treehuggers are all the grunge-lovers, where are they working - what eco-friendly place of course - is paying them enough that they can afford $159 jeans?! Are they wearing them to work?

Another site, also linked from treehugger, had a dining room table (and a whopping 4 chairs) listed for, I kid you not, $3,800. Ehn? (made of P-I-N-E?!) Tell me it's a hoax. 'Cause if not, well, I guess these are the folks wearing $159 jeans to work.

B.S. This is such a load of B.S. It's become nothing more than a meaningless label to show off to your friends. "See, I can afford to save the earth." Puke.

The World Must Know

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I believe it would be downright criminal not to publish this photo. It would be misinformation. You see, I know full well that you think we've gone all holy on you, giving up a life of chasing the dollar to devote ourselves to the divine and sacred.

Well, there are still weekends, you know.


Here, Mark is "helping set up" for the largest social event of the year at the Baha'i World Centre - the Arts and Crafts Show. He was setting up the cafe - or so he says. We both helped set up the gallery of artwork. Mark helped work the kitchen of the cafe the day of, and I submitted jewelry for the show. Mark helped clean up afterward (he's on the organizing committee), while I dashed off to Tel Aviv to pick a friend up from the airport, as we had been borrowing his car while he was on vacation.

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