Thursday, October 10, 2013

Comedy in the Second Person

There's a famous saying, "Tragedy is in the first person.  Comedy is in the second person."  That is to say that when something happens to me it is a tragedy, but when something happens to you it is comedy.  A friend of mine (with a degree in theatre) used to say "Anything truly tragic can also be truly funny."

Nothing truly tragic happened this week.  We're all fine.  Okay, I strained my back Shabbat morning, and it still hurts, but this is minor and will soon pass.  Meanwhile, I'm going to work.  I picked up the kids and took them to karate yesterday, and am presiding over the monthly RA meeting today.  Although sore, my life isn't really changed.  There are the normal ups and downs, a temper tantrum here and there, nonsense picking on each other (Have I mentioned we're solidly in the teen years?),  and probably less than the normal family drama we should.

Still, some weeks are tough.  Last Thursday (or was it Wednesday?  It's become a blur) our microwave decided not to work.  We purchase this microwave in June, so it came as quite a surprise.  Of course the labor warranty expired just a week or so prior, plus we'd have to pay shipping and insurance if we want  it fixed.  That's almost 1/2 the cost of the microwave new before we add in the labor.  It's simply crazy. So for now we are simply living without.  Sean complains daily.  On Friday the oven broke mid-challah.  The oven is decades old.  It has given its all for God and family.  On Tuesday the oven was fixed.  A wire burnt out.  A new oven would cost about $1000.  The fix- less than $200.  Given the age of the oven, we wanted to know if it was worth fixing.  The repairman said definitely.  These old appliances were made to last, and this oven could give us another decade.

As if that series of breakdowns (add in my back on Shabbat morning) wasn't comedic enough, Tuesday evening the spring that holds the dishwasher door broke.  SERIOUSLY?!  Luckily we can fix this ourselves.  I just started laughing.  There is no other possible reaction.

The fridge, washer, dryer, furnace, and hot water heater are all new within the last 4 years, and we just had a new roof put on.  Last winter it was raining in the coat closet.  Hopefully this is it for a while.

Smiles and laughter to all.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"I Hate Comedy."

I have 3 teenagers.  Okay, Keren's a tween, but she might as well be a teen.  This means 3 moody, annoying people who either never speak to us or speak at us nonstop.  In Jesse and Keren, who have always had their moods, it's just more intense, but in Gavriel, who has always been the happy child, this up and down moodiness is making me crazy.

Today was the ECRUSY opening program.  ECRUSY stands for Eastern Canadian Region of United Synagogue Youth.  It has 2 groups- Kadima for grades 5-8, and USY for grades 8-12.  The 8th graders switch hit.  My kids all love Kadima/USY, and always want to attend programming.  However, when we told the kids to get ready for the program, an "Epic Pool Battle," Gavi decided to take a stand.

"What?  I didn't know about that."  although I am sure I asked him before I registered him.  He then spent 25 minutes moping about going to a program he was sure to enjoy with people he likes and pizza.  What could be bad?  Jesse, who was there already, said Gavi looked pretty miserable when he arrived.

Nevertheless, when Sean and I arrived home after the kids, Jesse and Gavi talked at us for 45 minutes about how cool the evening was and the funny things that happened and the great plans for the year and and and and and...  You get the picture.  Finally we abandoned them in the kitchen to go to bed.  Actually, with the abandonment Gavi headed to bed too.  He didn't want to talk at Jesse.  Being there, Jesse already knew.

A couple of years ago we took the kids to see "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience."  It's an amazing rendition of the 7 Harry Potter books, including a live quidditch match on stage in just 70 minutes.  If you ever have the opportunity, even if you have never heard of or (amazingly) hate Harry Potter, go see it!  It's playing in Nashville next week.  Anyway, Gavi decided he didn't want to go.  He couldn't argue that he hated Harry Potter, so he finally said, lips pursed, arms crossed, foot stomping down, "I hate comedy!"  After we stopped laughing, we made him go anyway.  Gavi actually fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard.  The kids still quote lines from the evening.  Hating Comedy has become the name for anything the kids just don't want to do for no good reason.  During Sukkot Keren just didn't want to go to a friend's house- "Oh so you hate comedy" is our comment.  (She had a great time.)  You don't want to go to the great pool for the fun event with your friends- "So I guess you hate comedy too."  Usually it elicits a laugh.  Tonight Gavi was determined to mope.  He made it almost to the pool door.

Friday, October 4, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours

It is less than one hour before Shabbat, and Sean & I are sitting on our computers.  Why?  It's been a difficult appliance week.  Yesterday the microwave died.  It's 3.5 months old, just past the labour warranty.  Of course.  Today, mid-challah the oven went poof.  Well not exactly poof.  It's still there.  It just doesn't work.  First it seemed to get way too hot, then nothing.  The challah cooked, sort of, on the residual heat.  Our 30 minute cooking time became 1.5 hours.  I'm not sure it'll be good, but it'll be interesting.  At least it didn't die during the holidays.  Sean is now trying to ascertain, with his great knowledge of ovens (not) and the internet what is actually wrong.  This should be interesting.

In the meantime, since the day school raised our tuition slightly (with no raises in our income) we've added 2 b'nei mitzvah, braces (maybe 2 sets), and now an oven.  We'll live without a microwave, but the oven is going to be tough.

For now, I'm laughing to keep from crying, eating chocolate, and watching sappy Youtube videos.  Let's hear it for the top 10 romantic movies ever!

Hoping Shabbat helps.

A Little Bit of Escapism & Romance

I am a screen-oholic.  I would have said a TV-oholic, but with DVDs and Netfix, it's movies too.  Actually it also includes Youtube.  I love to let my mind rest by binging on screen time.  Over the last month, between all the hagim, the guest, family, and Gavi's bar mitzvah, the screen has been my escape.  I can retreat to my room with a laptop or my ipad, and watch nonsense to my heart's and my head's content.  Lately, I've been focused on romance.  I like mysteries and buddy-cop dramas, but frequently, I guess to appeal to my own demographic, even they have a little romance tossed in.  I've also discovered that if you search your favorite couples on Youtube you can find fan videos of all the best moments made by people who have way more time than I.  Still, I've become obsessed with a few.  After discovering a lot of videos of the best movie and TV kisses, I realized that I too have some favorites, plus, there's nothing like a first kiss...

  • Hatter & Alice (SyFy miniseries- Alice),
  • Kensi & Deeks (NCIS LA), (Can't wait to see what will happen.  Of course it won't be smooth.)
  • Kurt & Blaine (Glee),
  • Penelope & Max (Penelope),
  • Declan & Anna (Leap Year), (Plus the proposal-
  • Brandon & Marianne (Sense & Sensibility), (Okay, there's no kiss, but look how happy Brandon is!)
  • Darcy & Lizzy (Pride & Prejudice), (The BBC miniseries is better, but this is soooo sweet.
  • Grigg & Jocelyn (Jane Austen Book Club), no video unfortunately.
There are more, but these are my current obsession with Hatter & Alice and Deeks & Kensi at the top of the list.  

By the way, I also cry at commercials.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ezer K'negdo or Master/Slave?

Melissa Gorga, one of the "Real Housewives" of New Jersey, has written a book. Love Italian Style, besides having supposedly appalling grammar, purports that women want to be dominated.  The backup- the recent success of 50 Shades of Grey. Beyond the concept of trusting a relationship advice book by a "real housewife," this does bring up questions.

There are differences- In 50 Shades of Grey, Anastasia is not completely submissive. That is the crux. Christian Grey has to learn that to have a relationship there needs to be give and take. Anastasia can choose to cede power within their sexual relationship, but she still maintains the choice. No means no. Furthermore, outside their sexual coupling, their relationship is one of equals. Building to this understanding and respect is what creates and supports their relationship.  To be a master and a slave is a shallow relationship. Each may circle in his/her own sphere, but they cannot truly be partners in life.

The Torah teaches us to find our ezer k'negdo in our life partner. Ezer is help, but k'negdo is in opposition. In an ideal life partner there must be both. We support when support is needed, but we challenge to raise our partners to their own ideals.

The question arises which do women really want? 50 Shades is not necessarily about what women want. I may fantasize about a house on the French Riviera. It is fun, but I don't really want a house on the Riviera. It's the pretend that is the fun, not the getting. Fantasy does not always represent the truth of our desires. In fact, as Spock points out, "Wanting is more pleasing than having. It is not logical, but it is often true."

If women in general really wanted to be controlled, the women's lib movement would have failed. The issues of women around the world would not be the issues they are. You cannot force evolution. It must be the right time, the right place, and the right people. The argument that gender roles have not fully changed doesn't work. The is an evolution of culture, and like genetic evolution, it moves neither quickly, nor in a straight line forward. We have far to go. We have much to teach each other. We have much to learn. We are evolving, but so are our society, our roles, and our definitions. Of course, every once in a while, there's a throw-back.

Parashat Noah- Malala Yousafzai One Year Later- Pure and Righteous in her Generation

…Noah ish tzadik tamim haya bidorotav et haEhlohim hithalech Noah.
Noah was a pure, righteous man in his generation; Noah walked with God. (Breishit 6:9)
Commentators on parashat Noach question the meaning of tzadik tamim haya bidorotav, a pure, righteous man in his generation. They wonder if Noah was only righteous and pure when compared to the others of his generation. Would Noah, placed in another generation, be a pure, righteous man? Or is it only in comparison to the evil of his generation that he can be called a tzadik? I posit another scenario. Tzadik tamim haya bidorotav, a pure, righteous man in his generation- what is the meaning of “in his generation?” When we are surrounded by general goodness, raised with respect, and taught love rather than hate, it is easy to be a Tzadik. It is easy to speak out against immorality and prejudice when those around you provide support. But in his generation, to speak out was to risk his life and the lives of those he loved.
One year ago I wrote about 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. Malala was shot during the week of parashat Noach by a Taliban gunman for being an advocate for girls’ education. The Taliban failed to kill Malala. They failed to silence her voice, which continued to be heard as she struggled to recuperate, and continues to be heard. On July 12 Malala delivered a speech before the UN Youth Assembly. The day was declared Malala Day by the UN in honor of this inspirational young girl and in order to commemorate her 16th birthday.
The website lists ways that Malala has changed the world. Here they are:
1.     She has sparked a dialogue about children's education throughout the world--There are 57 million children worldwide who have no access to education. In response to Malala’s speech, Vuk Jeremic, president of the UN General Assembly, said, "Today we stand united with young people from nearly one hundred countries in seeking to ensure that no child is barred from attending school - convinced that factors like geography, gender, disability, language, wealth, and ethnicity, should not be seen as impediments to this achievement." 
2.     Three million people have signed the Malala Petition--Malala has managed to encourage people to stand together behind a common cause, urging the United Nations to recommit to the goal of universal primary education for children around the world.
3.     Her ability to be fearless is inspiring beyond measure—At only 11 years old Malala wrote her diary under a pseudonym, in which she discussed life (specifically education) under the Taliban. Knowing her life would be in grave danger if discovered, she has showed us all that we should never give up on a cause in which we believe. 
4.     She created the Malala Fund to ensure that beyond the words of her speech, tangible results are reached in the fight for access to education. 
5.     She has taught the world about forgiveness-- In her speech Malala said, "I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him."
6.     She has shown us that there is no age limit to stand up against injustice-- Malala began sharing her diaries at age 11, and nothing has stopped her since, not even Taliban bullets.
7.     Her story reminds us all not to take anything for granted—Every day so many of us take the simple action of going to school for granted. Malala's story and her fight to attend school remind us not to take anything for granted in our lives.
8.     She has challenged us all to wage a war against illiteracy and terrorism by "picking up our books and pens."
9.     She has illustrated the importance of peaceful conflict resolution-- Inspired by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Malala seeks peaceful solutions to tackle the issues of girls' education and the equality of women.
Like Noah, Malala chose to be righteous in her generation. In a generation when the easy thing would be to close her eyes and stay quiet to preserve her life, Malala chose to stand, not on the sidelines, but in the centre ring to make sure her voice would be heard on behalf of those who cannot be heard.