4

Ratchet Salad/Whatever Dinner

Isn’t it so great that when you decide to eat healthy (or try, happy syttende mai, Norske Nook lefse and pie), there’s a huge thunderstorm outside and there’s nothing in the house to eat?

I started off with some sliced meat I found. I think I had four bites before being like…yeah, it doesn’t expire for another month but it sure feels that way. For some reason, I had two bags of radishes, and not much else. So I ended up having a ratchet lady-from-work salad consisting of lettuce, a ton of sliced radish, some dried cranberries, and…that was it. Tossed with some oil and vinegar, it actually wasn’t too bad. I topped off the meal with some basil and herb couscous.

And of course, now the rain has stopped, but I don’t feel like going outside, especially if it starts raining again. Apparently this is what my life has come to. That, and reorganizing my bookshelf.

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15

In Praise of Holiday Time

Since my planner was empty, I decided to take the evening off from commitments and just watch TV and get some chores done around the apartment. Then, I remembered what I wanted to write about.

Growing up, Shabbat and holiday time was a time to unplug. No computer, no phone, no music…just the noises of people, and silence. And no car either, so your feet were the way to go. I think it started around college, when I was far from home and the work piled on. And that began my less-religious streak.

These days, I try to spend as much time as I can on Shabbat and holidays being observant, but I’ve either got some sort of commitment, have work to do, or just get too bored and realize that I’m an adult and I can do what I want.

But yesterday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, changed that…a little.

A parent of one of my students (at the elementary school, not from college) invited me over for lunch. I knew they were a religious family, but they lived kind of far away to walk so I drove and parked a few blocks away from their beautiful house. I waited for about ten minutes, thinking they might’ve forgotten, or got held up at shul, when I saw a little salmon-colored dot run down the street towards me. That dot became little Michael, who wrapped me in a big hug, and his mother, Sarah, wasn’t far behind, with his little sister, and another couple and their two kids (again, all names changed for privacy). We went inside, made kiddush, and enjoyed a lovely homemade lunch, courtesy of Sarah. The golden ratio of 5 adults and 4 kids (well, more adults than kids is a golden ratio any way you slice it), we enjoyed our food in leisure. No one was checking their email, and only once did a phone ring (it was the house phone, and Sarah ignored it). I ate my fill of challah and honey, salad with pomegranate seeds, fish, stuffed chicken, corn muffins, mashed potatoes, spinach, and cherry pie for dessert, all while enjoying conversations about the plight of Roma in Central Europe, where to find the best kosher food in town, remembering our favorite food products from when we were kids that no longer existed, using FaceTime to keep up with family, and more. After saying Birkat Hamazon, there was no rush to clean up; people just brought in plates, forks, and food items leisurely, and we continued to schmooze in and around the kitchen. I updated Sarah on what we were covering in school, and chatted with the other couple about theater and Jewish customs, and our upbringings, and such. I was having such a casual and happy time that I was honestly shocked when I looked over at the oven clock and it was 5:00 PM, for a lunch that began at 2:00 PM.

Upon walking back to my car, getting in, and driving home, I was simultaneously on a holiday high and kind of sad to be returning from the religious world to the “real world.” When I got home, I realized that I had a meeting I wanted to go to at 5:30, but as I watched the clock tick by, I was like…nah, not a chance. I’m staying in bed and watching the sun set, and doing nothing else (well, at least until dance class at 9:30).

For all those times I hated Shabbat and holidays from preventing me from doing what I wanted as a kid, I started to really miss those days. I don’t know what my future will bring, but this year I really do want to at least try to get back to the comforting way things were back then. I was so busy the rest of the holiday with meetings, school, work commitments, that I barely got any Rosh Hashanah this year. This year, if and when I can, I will do my best to at least get a few solid hours of Shabbat/holiday time each time it comes up. Not necessarily being in shul all the time, but trying to eat meals in the sukkah, going to a Simchat Torah event, and spending at least a little of my Saturdays either meditating, or reading for fun, or just doing nothing but existing, completely disconnected from anything with an on/off button and not thinking about anything that might take up residence in my planner.

Long live happy days of religious bliss, no commitments, and nothing but time on my hands.

12

On Packing it In

Me, this morning:

Man, I’m going to get so much done today.

Me, this afternoon:

Okay, so I did laundry and ate gross plain yogurt, it’s a good day. Oh wait, I had a lunch thing. Oh good, I’m only a few minutes late. ::goes to lunch, has a great time::

Me, slightly later:

Shoot, production meeting. Cool, I’m like totally just about on time. ::goes to production meeting, it goes fine::

Me, slightly later:

I should eat something. ::eats sushi and half a challah::

Me, slightly later:

I should get dressed for services. ::gets dressed, goes to services, woefully late, yawns the whole time, pretends to be exhausted but plans to go back home and go to the gym::

Me, slightly later:

I should get ready for the gym, but first, watch some funny TV to pump myself up. ::takes off clothes::

Oh, hey bed, let’s catch up.

Me, slightly later:

::opens eyes:: Wait, was I sleeping? For how long? It’s 9 PM and the gym closes at 10. Fuck. At least I still have some of that challah left, and my pajamas are right here. ::eats food, puts on pajamas, forgets about going to the gym, watches YouTube for like two hours::

Me, now:

I should have done something productive today, like read from my pile of books or vacuum or cook or clean out the fridge. Welp, at least I’m in bed with my laptop on my chest at a decent hour.

Me, a few hours in the future:

I’m still awake and I regret everything. Another wasted Friday. Fuck.

5

Home Mode

Nope, I didn’t make ice cream today. But I did help make fake candy bars.

More on that in a minute.

But first…

I think I’ve discovered why I get so bummed spending large amounts of time at home. I love my parents and I miss them so much during the school year, and it’s just so nice to have home-cooked meals and sleep in the bed I grew up sleeping in, but that’s usually where it ends. I don’t usually have too much time to see friends when I am here, and I’m constantly reminded of what I dislike about this place: despite the great kosher restaurants, it’s the “oh how’s your mother doing (fine, thanks, you see her more than I do, how’s yours?),” the “are you still in Baltimore (yeah, I have, and I’ve just been hiding in my parents’ refrigerator for four years),” and in general, the great blanket of blah and boredom that envelops me. Call it languor, call it torpor, but it just kind of invades and sops me up.

This, my friends, is Home Mode Jacob.

Take these last few days as an example. Yes, I’ve been riding high off of seven days of pretty much nonstop action and being Travel Mode Jacob, but I feel like I’ve been asleep more than I’ve been awake in the 72 or so hours I’ve been at my parents’ place. Maybe it’s living with two retirees that has been slowing my pace down, but on Sunday, I slept until 1 PM, then went out with my mother, had lunch, and instead of exercising at the club, laid down on a chaise and woke up several hours later; yesterday, I managed to get up for some early errands with my dad and some geocaching, but after he dropped me off at Walgreens to get some stuff of his own done, I barely had enough energy to walk over to Starbucks before I had to sit for a while and nurse a coffee until I got the strength to walk home; and today, not only did I close my eyes in the car on the way to Rockville with my mom to help out at my sister’s school, but completely passed out asleep on the ride home, and had barely enough energy to exercise for 20 brief minutes before dinner. If I were in Madison, I probably would have been way more active, reading books, doing chores, going to the gym, and eating real meals rather than whatever my parents have in the house. Plus, I’m super nervous about the next two and a half weeks of really living out of a suitcase, when I probably should be more excited than scared.

So maybe that’s one reason why I don’t like coming home too often for too long.

But it’s almost midnight here, and I have to get up at 7:00 tomorrow morning to catch my 10 AM flight to Toronto, Canada, and then onto Montreal for Leg 3: ATHE 2015! Wahoo! It doesn’t feel real, even though I’ve spent months planning and anticipating, especially as I sit here on the floor of my childhood bedroom. Hopefully, I’ll magically wake up in Travel Mode, aka Super Happy And Ready For Anything Mode. Travel Mode Jacob is way more fun than Home Mode Jacob.

But now, time for Sleep Mode Jacob.

A demain!

And even though nobody from South America viewed my blog today, I got a lot of great views from every other continent, so big hellos to North America (Canada and USA), Europe (UK, Norway, Belgium, France, and Poland), Asia (Singapore, Philippines, and India), Africa (Kenya and South Africa), and Oceania (Australia and Vanuatu, my first new country in quite awhile!)