Shema. Hang Ups All Up in My Head.

I’ve got this hang up when I go to Friday night services at temple. I like closing my eyes during the shema. I feel closer to myself, closer to God maybe, when I sing those most sacred words in the privacy of my own head. But that meditative, personal moment is always interrupted when I start to worry. Is everyone else opening their eyes? When should I open mine? I can’t be the only one with my eyes shut! What if I miss the moment when everyone sits down? I’ll be standing up alone. This is what the inside of my head looks like. It’s filled with what do I look like to the outside world thoughts. In a moment when I want to get in my head for some peace and introspection, I end up deep in my head filled with hang ups.

I do this a lot. What will the other runners think if I show up to an Indy Runners run, don’t know anyone, and run all by myself? What will my Facebook friends think if I post one more picture of my freaking dinner? Will the lovely couple who owns Nicey Treats think I’m nuts if I show up to their truck one more time for a dreamy popsicle? Do I look like a complete amateur when when I pull out my fancy camera and attempt to take a picture?

Of course, no one is paying that much attention. Most people are just wrapped up in their own world, because that’s just how people are. Maybe human nature to pay attention to ourselves first?

Self consciousness. I’m overcoming it. Comfort and confidence in your own skin. I started to learn how it fit on me at camp as a kid. Not comparing or worrying about looks. Every time I get on my mat in yoga I leave that farther behind. It’s about what works for me. For you. Then I’m pretty sure somehow you’ll end up looking like the best version of yourself to everyone else without even trying, without any hang ups.

On Friday night I stood in temple and sang the shema, eyes closed.

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Days 21, 22, & 23 – Decoupage and Remembering

I have a basket next to the couch. It’s filled with magazines. Bon Appetit, Readymade, Cook’s Illustrated, Real Simple. I’ve dog-eared the recipes I want to make. Then the clutter on the coffee table gets to be too much, so I move the magazines to the basket and forget about the dog-eared recipes. When the most recent round of magazines came in the mail, I decided to start tearing out recipes and project so that I’d actually make them. This only led to more clutter on my coffee table, and clutter that floats to the floor the second the dog or cat walks by.

So my clutter inspired me. I need a recipe box! Why not take things full circle and decorate the box of magazine recipes with pictures from those magazines?

Decoupage. It’s making a collage on a useful object and sealing it up so you can…use it. For example, a picture frame or journal or…a shoe box for recipes.

This project took me two days. Day 21 & Day 22. Lots of creativity flowed. The whole process is not difficult, but does involve drying of glues.

You’ll need: the object you will decoupage, pictures/colorful paper/tissue paper, glue, modge podge/glue that dries clear, scissors, a paintbrush.

Cut out pictures or paper that will cover your object. I used food-related (and a few Julia-related) pictures. Plan out where you’d like them to go on your object and how they fit together best. Glue them down. Let the glue dry. Cover your collage with a coat of modge podge. Let dry. Repeat with one to two more coats. Done!

Day 23

This is a shiva candle. In the Jewish tradition, when a loved one dies, the family sits shiva for one week beginning the day of the funeral. This is the initial mourning period, a time to remember and reflect. No work is supposed to be done, no cooking, just sitting. And a shiva candle is lit in honor of the loved one. Don’t blow it out. It will go out on its own after seven days. It burns as a memory, the presence of the soul, as an aid to guide the soul to its next resting place.

My oma was Catholic, but we still burned shiva candles for her here. It’s not so much about the religion but what the candle symbolizes. For me, it’s a reminder of my grandmother’s life and just a nice way to say good-bye. Every time I’ve stood at the counter preparing a meal or baking something this week, I’ve looked at the candle and thought about how more times than not, I remember Oma standing in the kitchen , apron on, wooden spoon in hand.

A wrap up

Good God, have you ever had one of those weeks that just drains you completely of energy? Duh, I’m sure you have. I’ve had them at every job I’ve worked at (yes, even camp, where every day and week is not perfect, despite the idea you may have previously gotten from my camp ravings), in college both school and equestrian team related. So anyway, I had lots to blog about, but just haven’t had the energy.

We went to Chicago over the long weekend. We stayed with 717 member Marnie and hung out with her boyfriend Jannson. 717 member Samantha also came up. We really had a wonderful time, but I’ll go into that another time, because Samantha took some really great pictures that I want to share.

Wednesday night and Thursday marked the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. I’ve been kind of bad about going to services this year. My excuse is that they start at 6pm, which is a difficult time to make on a Friday evening. Really though, it’s a poor excuse. Especially when I do enjoy going so much. I love the familiarity of the prayers and melodies. My favorite has always been the shehecheyanu, which you say any time something happens for the first time in the year. It’s like a little celebration and thank you of the good things in life. (Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam shecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higyanu lazman hazeh. Blessed are you, Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.) When I was in NFTY (that’s youth group), every Saturday night we had havdalah, the end of Shabbat service to bridge Shabbat and the coming week. We’d sit in a big circle, lights out, one person would have the glass of wine and the blue and white, braided havdalah candle, and one person would, of course, have a guitar. We’d sing, pray, and wrap our arms around each other and sway, and always end with the schehecheyanu. It was my favorite part of our regional or sub-regional events.

Also, check this out РCSA-style pastry delivery in San Francisco!

Just the things I’ve been thinking about this week. I’m going post a song now so check it out!

On Second Thought, I May Be Offended

I’m Jewish. That makes me a minority. I realize that there are people in Indiana, especially in some of the smaller towns, that don’t know a lot of Jewish people, or maybe any for that matter. In fact, I rode with a girl in college who said I was the first Jewish person she knew and was really friends with. I’m OK with all of this. I actually enjoy that a lot of my non-Jewish friends are interested in my faith. One, a staunch believer in Jesus (she says Jesus is the one reason she could never convert), even came to Friday night services with me once. How cool is that?

What I am not OK with is someone turning my religion into a novelty.

Last night I met (well I suppose re-met technically since we went to the same high school, though never knew each other) a girl. Suddenly, mid-catch-up-on-our-lives conversation, she looked at me and asked, “Are you Jewish?” I know, I know, it’s the nose and the dark hair that give it away, right? I replied, “Yes.” She then squealed, “Oooh I LOVE Jewish people!!” I laughed. I’d had a few beers. For a split second I thought, Huh, that’s a weird thing to say, but I let it pass. She then proceeded to tell a story about a Jewish guy she’d gone on a few dates with. She said some fairly bitchy and rude things about him, which I also let slide. I really regret not getting up and walking away at that point.

I woke up this morning and the more I thought about that comment, the more unsettled and angry I got. This girl was turning my religion, my belief in a higher power, my faith, into a novelty. How can you say that you love Jewish people? That’s such a ridiculous thing to say. She loves every Jewish person? Why? We’re not all the same. Some of us are giant assholes. It’s true. We do share the same beliefs and traditions. You could love those, sure. Nobody walks around saying “I love Catholic people,” and not because Catholic people aren’t cool. A lot of them are. You just don’t say that. It’s a broad, sweeping statement that’s honestly very ignorant.

It’s rare that someone offends me based on my religion. I don’t have stories that involve me being harassed because I’m Jewish. I guess I just hang around people who are classier and more open-minded than that. To my friends, I’m Julia, who also happens to be Jewish. To this girl, I felt like I was only Jewish, that’s it.  

My momma, my hero

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this week, stemming from the fact that I moved back to Indiana one year ago this past weekend and that Tuesday was Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish new year and Day of Remembrance. So I’m just going to record some of my ponderings. Just a warning, this will probably be a very patchwork entry.

Time has been absolutely flying by lately. I have no idea how suddenly I’ve been home for a year, at Humpty Dumpty for a year, living in my apartment for a year, and in a happy relationship for almost a year. Sometimes I feel like camp should just be ending, like I should just be moving into that crappy apartment I rented for a few months in Raleigh, and looking for a job besides the coffeeshop. Even crazier in my mind is that it’s been two years since I moved to Raleigh in the first place. I very much miss living with Bette and Ang. That was really a pretty ridiculous and amazing year. I’m a little worried that time will continue to speed along, and what if I forget to enjoy things as they fly by?

At the end of services on Tuesday morning the president of the temple sisterhood (I think) made a few announcements. First she said, even though resolutions are not typical on the Jewish new year, this year make one. Make a resolution to thank the parents of Jewish children who might not have always been Jewish, or who still aren’t. They gave up their religion to give their children Judaism. Thank them for that. I snuck a look at my mother, who was sitting next to me, and saw tears dampening her cheeks. After services, I gave her a hug and thanked her. Sometimes I forget all that my mom has done for me in the religion department. She was raised in a very Catholic home. When she and my father, a non-practicing Jew, got married, they decided to expose their kids to both religions and let them choose. In sixth grade I told my parents I wanted to start attending Sunday school at our reform temple. (I know, what kid wants to go to Sunday school? That’s a whole other cup of tea my friends.) So I embraced Judaism and I took my family with me. My brother did not get hooked like I did, which was fine with my parents (because they are amazing and have never pushed us to do anything we didn’t want to do) but my mom and dad jumped in. They started taking basic Judasim classes together at our temple and my mother even considered converting until her parents threatened to practically disown her. So she didn’t. In the past 12 or so years she has been my biggest Jewish supporter. She helped me run a monthly after-school dinner/homework help program through my youth group IFTY, she attended services with me (and still does), she asked me to bring a mezzuzah back from Israel for the house, and she makes a damn good brisket and kugel on holidays. She even recently told me she would love to go to Israel. I’ve always been thankful that my parents gave me the choice of my religion and supported me, but I’ve never thought of being thankful for my mother and the sacrifce she made. She didn’t get to pass down her beliefs to her children. Instead she had to learn a whole new set of beliefs. I can only imagine how hard that must have been and must still be.

Wow, I actually had more to write about the arrival of aproppriate fall weather and scarves, but I’ve gotten myself into somewhat of an emotional state, so I’ll save the crunchy leaves for later.