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You Learn Something New Every Day.

You know what I learned today?

My favorite Passover meal, peanut butter & jelly on matzah? Is totally *NOT* Kosher for Passover.

... I spent the better part of this morning in Synagogue.

Yes, really.

OK, so there was a special reason why: Today they were unveiling my grandparents' memorial plaques at Beth Shalom, and my Mother wanted me to be there.

We went to what my Mother thought was just going to be the memorial service, but which really turned out to be the better part of Passover services (I guess not closing services, since Passover doens't end until tonight, but ... whatever services are called when it's the eighth day of Passover). I don't think I'd ever been to Passover services in a Synagogue before, and it was kind of nice. One thing that really sucked, tho: They have theater-style seats (as in individual fold down seats, rather than one long pew) and my ass is basically too wide for them. Every stand up, every sit down ... it was like trying to cram spring loaded joke worms back into the peanut can. Urgh.

I need to leave for work in a minute, but first I promised curious_mold pictures of my grandmother's ringCollapse )

And, just because I love non-sequiturs, this is just something that amused me yesterdayCollapse )

OK. Gotta go to work.

Choosing my religion, Part II

aaronbenedict is gone again, observing two days of technological blackout for the final two days of Passover. It felt like as soon as we were able to talk to each other again, he had to say goodbye. We talked about that yesterday -- about religious observance. I thought about how many days he must take off from work in a year and I asked: If we were together, if I were his wife, would I have to take those days off as well?

The answer was yes.

Truth be told, if I hadn't expected the answer to be a reassuring "no," I don't think I would have asked the question.

Shavuot. Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah. All of those holidays that I never observed, even when I did still believe. Heck, with the single exception of Sukkot, I couldn't even tell you what those holidays are. But from Shavuot to not one, not two, but four (out of eight) days of Passover, the expectation is that I would observe these holidays.

In his defense, he then clarified that I would not be required to observe so much as that it would be meaningful to him to observe with me. It's important to him to observe with family, with the people that he loves, and I get that. But it also worries me.

I don't believe in God. My days of superstitiously replacing the "o" with a dash (you Yids know what I mean) came and went with adolescence. I believe that nearly all religion (with the single exception of religions of personal growth, like Buddhism) serves two purposes: to scare kids into obeying their parents, and to scare adults out of having sex indiscriminately.

I remember distinctly talking about "myths" in first and second grade, and our teacher telling us about the silly polytheistic religions people "used" to believe in (nevermind that at least two of my peers in that school were most likely Hindu). Judaism and Christianity were "religions"; everything else was "mythology." It took me decades to really understand that it's all mythology -- that what my parents taught me is just as bullshit as what Catholic children are taught, or what Muslim children are taught, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

I will gladly concede that there's every chance that I may be wrong. I don't know -- and that's kind of the point. To me, anarqueso got it right when she commented "For me, being Jewish isn't a set of behaviors or rituals. It's just being part of a long story, most of which is unknown to me." There are a handful of observances and rituals that make me feel connected to this "long story," but, other than that, most observances feel foreign and arbitrary. It's like when you go to the wedding of somebody whose religion you don't share, and then there's a religious part of the ceremony, and the folks who are that religion all know exactly what to do, and you're standing there thinking "um ... OK ... what just happened?"

I very much want to be with this man, but I very much don't want to be a part of organized religion, and I'm not quite sure what to do about any of this.

Annapolis: Day 2

OK, I took a lot of pictures today, so I'll likely break this up into (at least) two posts. But since I'm going to be up for a while (SNL, yo), I figured I'd at least get this started:

Annapolis: Day 2Collapse )

And I think I'm gonna call it a night here. Tune in tomorrow for pictures from the seder itself, and the sunset afterward.

Annapolis: Day 1, Part 2

Twelve hours later and back at the hotel. Let's get yesterday's pictures finished before I get started on today's.

Annapolis: Day 1, Part 2Collapse )

Choosing my religion.

Gut yontif, one and all.

If I were Observant, everything I'm doing right now would be considered wrong -- typing, using electronics ... but at the moment, the only things that feel really wrong are that I'm not at a seder, and that I have to be apart from aaronbenedict for three days.

He, being Observant, is observing the rules (funny thing, that). Which means he'll not be using his phone or computer for the first two days of Pesach. Thing is, as soon as day 2 of Pesach ends, Shabbos begins. So there's an extra day of no contact tacked on.

Anybody who's known me for more than ten minutes knows that I have an awful time with goodbyes. Blame it on being adopted, or on the frequency with which my father would abandon me in public places, but every time we have to say goodbye, I find myself inconsolable.

And I have to admit, at the moment I'm finding myself very confused. See, I don't believe in God. I think I used to, and I used to be very interested in learning more about Judaism, and learning all the little things (like how to daven) that they don't teach you when you're raised Reform ("Tastes great! Less filling" -- you kids under 30, google the reference).

And yet, at the moment, I feel a great loss and sadness at the fact that, while millions -- billions? -- of Jews across the globe sit down to a seder tonight, I'll be sitting down to ... Law & Order? Don't get me wrong -- as I said earlier, come Saturday, I'll be joining bishopjoey, last_girl_guide and bishopjoey's family for their seder -- an omnibus event that I've heard much about over the years -- and I am deeply grateful for the chance to join them (and to see bishopjoey and meet last_girl_guide as well). But the fact that my family is so ... hmmm. I'm torn between "apathetic" and just plain "pathetic." Point being, as I just said to aaronbenedict, if my Mother doesn't do it, then nobody does. And with the lack of appreciation that she receives (from my Dad, who could seriously not care less, and from Gayle, who no longer has the mental capacity to care), well, sometimes she just feels like there's no effing point.

So the bottom line is that I'm home, alone, and feeling an overwhelming loneliness. I left work early, and I'm glad that I did because, really, I would not have felt right about working tonight. I came home and lit my candles (aaronbenedict told me what to say) and now ... what? Now I'm sharing with all of you, I suppose.

So hey Jews: Who's having a seder? Who's not? Who's missing it? Who doesn't give a flying fuck?

Recent History.

Guess I haven't updated in a substantive way lately, huh?

First, here are some cute catsCollapse ).

Now then.

Today I went to Birkat Hachamah services. Birkat Hachamah only happens once every 28 years, so I figured I didn't want to miss the chance to do it. I was glad to have gone, but it was pretty confusing. Observant Jews tend to have this free-form style -- everyone praying at their own pace -- and there was a lot of cross chatter. The leader was somewhere I couldn't even see, broadcasting over a loudspeaker. People were following along using various aids -- books, photocopies, some random handouts -- but I'm guessing everyone brought them from home, because I didn't see anyone handing them out. The only thing I remembered from what I read at home was that you were supposed to stand at attention, feet together, and look at the sun. Unfortunately, this morning was pretty cloudy, and the sun was mostly hidden. I know there were special rules for overcast days, but I didn't remember what they were, so I just kept staring until the sun poked through the clouds.

The other thing that I remembered was that, because the Shehechiyanu (my favorite prayer) is recited, you're supposed to wear new clothes (if possible). So I took this as an excuse to wear my new dress:Collapse )

Yaay polka dots!

I also met a little girl there -- maybe 10 years old? -- who had my exact same glasses. I said hello to her and pointed out that we were eyeglass twins. She, like me, said she'd never met anyone else who had the same pair.

Must be a Jew thing, eh?

Along with Birkat Hachamah, they also did the traditional pre-Passover burning of the chametz. I don't anticipate observing Passover this year (though I will be joining bishopjoey and last_girl_guide for a seder on Saturday night), but I did have some seriously stale bread in my fridge, and I like when I get the chance to be a part of stuff like that. I don't like the fact that I'm working tonight. Even though I'm not at all Observant, working on the first night of Passover just feels wrong. Then again, at least I get to go to a seder this year -- my mother won't even be getting that much.

I wonder if I went in to work now, if I could leave early?

Well, at any rate, on my way home I passed through Bloomfield. As those of you in Pittsburgh certainly know (and many of you outside of the area may have heard), this past Saturday, three police officers were killed in what basically amounted to an ambush. Today, the public memorials start in full force.

Once of the officers, Paul J. Sciullo, II, was from Bloomfield, and his funeral was this morning. Here's what I saw as I drove past the church:
Read more...Collapse )

Hmmm... maybe I will go to work early ...

Boston pictures: Day 3

These are pictures from last Thursday in Boston, as well as traveling back from Boston to Pittsburgh:

Boston: Day 3Collapse )


Things have been nuts. Instead I'll post pictures:

Polish Hill sunsetCollapse )

Cats playing on the porchCollapse )

More cats, and meCollapse )

Random buildings with smiley face bannersCollapse )

More Polish Hill sunset shotsCollapse )

MeCollapse )

The cats againCollapse )

Co-op stuffCollapse )

The night of Free's performanceCollapse )

OpieCollapse )

Trees at my parents' houseCollapse )

PassoverCollapse )

* No clue what happened here.
** Do you see him?
*** On my old theater seats from Facets
**** Drawn by Allisyn
***** He and I both love this picture

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