Monday, September 02, 2013

Rosh Hashanah - the "boring" one

"But I don't wanna change."

This is going to be a tricky Jewish New Year around my house. I talked with the children again about Rosh Hashanah, the forgettable Jewish holiday in the worldview of the under 12 set. My offspring value neither apples with honey nor lengthy Hebrew recitations, so Rosh Hashanah is not-too-affectionately known as, "the boring one."

I'd like to chalk it up to their affinity for latkes, nightly candle lighting, building tree shelters, and matzoh ball soup; none of which are associated with this holiday. But the truth is that I have happy children. Change and regret have not become part of their daily lives. They feel no need to ritualize loss and hope. They're happy little Zen masters most hours of every day except when it's time to clean their bodies or their rooms. Or, G-d forbid, they accidentally touch each other. (That's their orthodox streak coming out.)

I love Rosh Hashanah. For years I spent the weeks coming into the holiday with a little book called Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days. I'd meditate and pray and read stuff and be an all around bore about it. Good times.

As I aged and suffered more losses, the metaphor of the books of life and death and who will be inscribed in which became more and more meaningful. The literal image is a nightmare, but coming to an understanding that we all have a limited amount of seasons has been transformative. I enjoy the meditative mood of the holiday, and the days of awe are aptly named for me. But try telling that little soliloquy to 8 and 11 year olds.

So there we were in the chapel where I give all of my spiritual guidance (the car) and I shared with the Buddha babies my incredibly brilliant, thoughtful, and laudable idea to celebrate this year with the kid-appropriate ritual adapted from Tashlikh. Smartly, I didn't put it that way.

"So what we will do is tramp down to the Mighty Mighty James River and write what we want to change about ourselves on biodegradable paper and then we will cast them into the river and watch them float away!"

My son gave his diplomatic nod which means, "I am still young enough to refrain from derisive snorting. Revel in these days, madre."

My daughter declared decisively, "But I don't wanna change."

How is it that the parenting coup of raising happy people from scratch becomes a mega-fail in celebrating my most favorite-ist holiday? Crap. Being a responsible, spiritual adult on my own is hard. Raising up little spiritual chicklets in my personal direction is a bear. Zen masters aren't necessarily good little devout Jews. That's fine with me. Well-adjusted Unitarian Universalist kids.

With that goal in mind I took the puddins to the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Glen Allen yesterday. They had a great program planned and the sermonizer was rumored to be tolerable. You know what that means. Yeah, I was preaching. I led the children's worship talking about Tashlikh and how Rosh Hashanah is happening during the start of the new school year. Thanks to the tepid reaction of my own offspring on the subject, I mixed it up a little for child-relevance sake. I invited the children, of whom my daughter was one, to think of changes in their school life they wish for this year. One wanted to be better in math, another in English. One was positively, absolutely NOT going to be bullied. (Amen to that!) My daughter had her hand up for awhile.

"Yes, madame. What will you be changing this year?"

I'm stumped. Her grades are good. She's a happy puppy and she already has made it clear that change is not on her mind. Then my daydreaming began. Oh, please please please let her vow to become a morning person. Or an overwhelming desire to wash all the dishes from now on. Pleeeeeease.

"I'm going to quit choir this year!" She announced with triumph.

"What? This..." Not mornings. Not dishes. Yes change. Poop. "(Stammer). You... (sputter)," finally I had to drop the Rev. and just be Mama right up in there in front of everyone. "Choir? Really? Darn it. And this is how you tell me? In front of dozens of witnesses. You..." I was thinking how lovely her little voice was practicing "Man in the Mirror" last year. Then I remembered she didn't actually sing half the songs at the concert, just looked nauseous and well-behaved in the front row. Sigh.

"Well played, little bird. Well played. Way to embrace change." I high fived her.

The little church pumpkins then commenced telling scraps of paper their secrets for transformation and metamorphosis and throwing them in a "river" (wheelchair ramp) by the pulpit. I whispered "Fear" into mine as I had told the children I would, and tossed it high. My daughter gleefully threw the choir away. While the others tossed bad grades and bullies down the ramp with flourish, some huzzahs, and even a bit of dancing with celebratory fist pumping, one little curly haired cherub came up to me. I bent down to her and she cupped her hand around my ear, whispering, "I'm not going to be afraid any more either. Just like you." If that isn't an engraved invitation into the days of awe...

So this is how we will be doing Rosh Hashanah this year. I'll be praying in services and my secret prayer spots for two days, then we'll all tramp down to the riverside. I will prayerfully put my hopes for the New Year on a piece of thin paper and ceremoniously toss it in the river. My little imps are welcome to make boats, swans, airplanes, arrows, rockets, or whatever else they desire to celebrate the New Year in whatever way they want. They can include secrets, hopes, pet peeves, or name the projectiles George, as long as they send them soaring. Whatever they choose, I doubt it will be boring. Shanah Tovah, y'all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Drunk Texting Gene Roddenberry

It happens to all of us. A little beer or other spirits, maybe even just too much caffeine. A moon in a cool summer sky. Then an electronic device with internet or phone connection just a little too close at hand. Suddenly... POW! You've made a memory, baby.

For someone else, that is. Your out-of-it tail doesn't have a clue 'til the bliss clears, the headache starts, and your friends are mocking you mercilessly.

For my friend, whom we will call "Giddy" to protect her dignity (as if), this happened in the form of a Facebook post. The spirit was wine, the moon at about half glory, and Neptune kissingly close. I'm not sure what the occasion was but Giddy is a slight gal and I can't imagine it took much fruit of the vine before she was reaching for her phone, accessing her Facebook account and typing...


That's my girl. Kinda brings a tear to my geeky eyes.

I think there must be something in the air this summer: a siren sci fi song that is making mild-mannered retro, steam punk, alternate reality, and time travel loving geekettes get buck wild. This post is my proof but the signs have been multiplying.

Exhibit A: I butt dialed a co-worker while in bed with my children reading China Mieville's Railsea. Twice. She said she screamed my name a few times to shut me up, then finally gave in and listened as I read aloud and the children and I discussed the post-apocalyptic Moby Dick on rails. She's asked to borrow it when we are done.

B: One of my book club homeys begged me to get some saki with him so we could process Freedom TM without book club supervision. Gasp! That means... we could... say... ANYTHING! (Including our true feelings about the appropriateness of Philip K. Dick's name and that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" still makes us cry a little in the same ways as The Smith's "Meat is Murder" album.) As cruel fate would have it, I was called into work and missed that golden opportunity for unfettered cyber armageddon based bacchanalia. But for a few days there that risky business was on this girl's Google calendar. Oh yes it was.

Then... THEN! (Dear heavens I hope you are sitting down for this.) I realized that Red on "Orange is the New Black" is none other than Captain Janeway from "Star Trek: Voyager"! (I know you are perfectly aware who Janeway is, but my mom reads this blog so I do what I can to communicate clearly.) The realization made me sit straight up in bed and frantically email my book club buddies in the dark.

So when Giddy drunkenly took thumb to iPhone and essentially drunk texted Star Trek's progenitor Gene Roddenberry for all to see, I was thrilled to know that it wasn't just me feeling the love.

On a brief tangent, this ain't just about the ladies. My buddy who lets me dip in his deprivation tank every now and again loaned me his copy of Starship Troopers. It had a bite mark on it. Perfect teeth imprint halfway down the pages. I'm not afraid to taunt a benefactor.

"Hey, Dude. You getting a little out of hand in some old school cosplay? I didn't even know they did Heinlein, but it looks like hard core bad boy stuff from the bite mark."

"My dog, you dweeb."

Yeah, right, Big Man. (Mama, I'll explain all this later after I come up with some way to link this to Doc Martin or that Abbey thing you dig.)

Back to STAR TRKK, Giddy inevitably opened the door to trash talk from some backwoods homunculus Facebook friend of hers.

"You misspelled it. That is W-A-R-S," the slug typed with his tiny antennae.

Oh, please. No woman worth her ovaries would ever publicly text George "I am an overgrown Ewok" Lucas on a tipsy summer's night. To quote Giddy herself when I met her years ago: "The prequels were an abomination for which Lucas must forever march in shame and without female companionship."

Not that we don't love those Amidala costumes but, come on, given the choice between Alec Guinness or Patrick Stewart? Exactly.

I'm off to boldly go into the laundry room and start the dryer now. Prepare to find a point in all this... Engage.