September 2006 Archives


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I realized something recently.

It's been 20 years.

20 years, pretty much to the month, that I met Crystal C. Fortunately for her (and me, really), all my incriminating photos are stashed somewhere back in the States.

We met in 5th grade, and became friends pretty much immediately. We were both outsiders. She'd just moved to the school, and me, I'd been labelled a nerd long ago. Fortunately for me, she was a geek, too. I remember Mrs. Roberts, our 5th grade teacher, praising her for pronouncing difficult words correctly.

She only lived a few streets away (our parents still live in the same houses today). I can't tell you what her phone number is today, but I do still remember her parents' phone number. We often rode our bikes over to each other's home, we had sleep overs, I remember numerous Italian family gatherings at her place (I got a number of lessons on how to spell the difficult Italian last name). We played softball together for years. We sat together on the school bus - usually talking about our braces (seriously).

The first time I kissed a boy was at a Halloween party she held. At 15, when my mother gave me permission to get my ears pierced, it was Crystal who came with us - on Christmas eve no less. And at 17, we both signed release forms swearing we were 18, and shared a second piercing between us (left ear).

It was she and I who slipped down to the Flats one night, in disobedience to my father, and we and our daring selves ate at TGI Friday's there on the riverbank. (I know, big risk takers, heheheh - the Flats is a hot spot for night clubs, etc. in Cleveland and at times has been pretty rough).

In college, after she'd moved to Rhode Island, she would drive the 12 hours out to pick me up, turn around and we'd spend the weekend together in Rhode Island, just to turn back around and drive back to Ohio again. In those brief weekends, I was introduced to many of the wonders of fresh seafood - clam chowder, lobster - and another crazy Italian family (her now in-laws, heheheh).

I flew back from Quebec to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding. She did another crazy driving stint to drive out to Ohio for mine.

And now, 20 years later, what are we talking about? Having babies. We've gone all the way from orthodontia to obstetrics - and pretty much everything in between. Here's to you, Crys.

(and yes, we had the split heart Be/Fri and St/Ends necklaces)


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I'm not a big fan of ambiguity. I am a horrible recipient of surprises. I am a planner and a controller.

Well, I'm tired of the ambiguity. I'm sure my mother is, as well as the rest of my family. Could someone just tell us she's not going to die this year - or the next, or the next? Or that she will die?

Then I could be in control again, planning my life accordingly.

Life can be so irritating sometimes.


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I was reading a review of Broken Wings, an Israeli film (from 2003) set in Haifa about a family who lost its patriarch (to a non-war related death) and is trying to deal, both individually and collectively. One of the reviewers dismissed it as 'unrealistic' asking: "where are the Palestinians, the bombs and the soldiers?"

Now, I hope that in the past 3 years I've helped those who haven't been to Israel to understand our daily life, the beauty surrounding us, and well, the normalcy of our lives. But that question made me realize that it would be very easy for people to think that all of Israel can be incapsulated in what they see on the news.

And I am aware of how much Haifa has been in the news as of late. But our life is simply not portrayed on the news. My daily concerns involve the fact that I live on the side of a mountain, where everything is either uphill or down; the fact that I live in a climate that includes a summer that is about 3 excrutiating months longer than I care to endure; and the fact that I live a lot further away from family than I care to be anymore.

We're not trimming unpleasant things out of our photos for you, this is our life, in peace-loving Haifa.

I Have a Confession

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I'm serious. This isn't going to be pretty, so you can skip this if you wish. Ironically, my mother tangentially hits on the issue in her most recent blog entry herself. Sorta' makes it look like this brought it up, but actually it didn't. I am hoping this is safe - Kristen made a comment that I'm hoping makes it okay, 'cause she's sort of at the center of it. And Kristen, please know I love and admire you.

So here goes. I hope I'm fairly concise.

1. My mother has pancreatic cancer (not the confession). As she states in her most recent entry, she has a 1 in 33 chance of living another 5 years (she's already almost made it 1 year, woohoo!). Now she is fairly healthy and we are thrilled to have her this way. But it has brought up certain issues for me. For example, ways in which I have been less than the perfect daughter.

2. Okay, the ways in which I have been less than perfect are too numerous to count, I am sure, but let me tell you a story. Shortly after my mother's surgery, one of my acquaintances came by to drop off flowers and tell my mother she was a 'crunchy mama' and that she'd learned all her own 'crunchy mamaness' from her. She also happened to be showing off her child and 8 month pregnant belly. I was spitting nails and wanted nothing more than to shove her off our front steps and dump her flowers on her head (I'm really not exaggerating).

Wow, you're saying, Mara I had no idea you were a psycopath. Well, I think I've gotten to the root of it. And it's my imperfections. First, let's address the kids. My mother has no grandchildren, and a few of us got mighty sad about that when my mother was diagnosed. We also didn't get to know her mother because she died of cancer at a young age, too. I was going to be different. My kids would know their grandma (and she will be a rocking grandma). So this news really really really hurt. Hence this 8 month pregnant belly making me venomous. Go take your happiness elsewhere. Cause I was J-E-A-L-O-U-S, duh, and hurt that I couldn't change the situation for me and my mother.

Now let's get to the "crunchiness" of my mother. Growing up, we were indeed 'crunchy' (can you tell I don't like the term?). We grew our own fruit and veggies. My mother made a lot of our clothes, sold her homebaked bread, and cut our hair. I didn't realize, until university (I kid you not), that not every mother baked her own pies. I was so stunned I had to go ask my mother as to the truthfulness of my friends' claims. (think about this, I was at least 19) Of course, she didn't have much choice. We was po'. Not that I felt it. I loved my childhood and I loved fresh baked bread and sweet peas off the vine. I knew we didn't have a lot of money, but that didn't particularly seem to affect my happiness (heck, it felt pretty abundant).

However. When it came to me learning from my mother, well, out comes my huge painful zit-like imperfection. I was neither patient nor determined. I was a snotty brat. I practically threw tantrums when she tried to teach me how to sew. Granted, I loved helping in the kitchen and frequently did. I can make a pie, for heaven's sake. But my craft skills are ... limited. And it's something that I occasionally reflect upon and regret. [as for that girl learning everything she knows from my mother - I still think that's total malarky. what, was my mother privately tutoring her?!]

Yes, Kristen, this is where you come in. You are a craft rock star. {goodness, and nearly a freaking decade younger than me, too} When you do stuff like THIS, not to mention this, a part of my heart breaks thinking, "she's the crafty daughter my mother didn't get". [yes, Rae, I know you haven't fallen down on the job like I have. I'm not trying to take you down with me.]

I know this is the life I've chosen, but these and little comments (like my mother saying, "Mara hasn't taken to gardening the way I was hoping") sear into me with pain. And I do NOT want to feel like throwing you, Kristen, down the steps - now or in the future (I don't, by the way). And I don't want to keep it bottled up - 'cause even if my mother dies in a year or five, my relationship with Mendon & Kristen hopefully will continue for years to come. I just wish I was more like you.

Did I just hurt a bazillion people I love and make everything worse? Is the obvious answer just for me to 'get crafty'? Am I just looking for yet another validation of my mother's love for me?

I Hate Kafka

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I am deeply convinced that if I'd never read Kafka I would not have been up half the night freaked out about having seen a cockroach, and dreaming about them the other half.

I could have packed my bags and left right then.


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Craving prosciutto in Israel.

(or, one better, Iberico jamon...mmm. I actually have a friend in Spain who had this prescribed to her!)


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