Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Can anyone tell me what this song from way back in '89 is about? It seems a woman named Elisabeth is trying to get a supposedly innocent person out of jail. But, is this based on something that actually happened? Yep, I'm one of those irritating people that always wants to know what the song means. If you ever want to know what any of my songs are really about, I promise to tell you, and not be cryptic or tell you to figure it out for yourself. (That is, unless the song isn't really about anything, and then I might do those annoying things.)

By the way, since I know you are wondering, Nik Kershaw no longer wears his hair in that style. I think he is still that skinny, however. Still mastering the melodies. And he just might still have those boots.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Teshuvah, Tefillah, and Rock 'n Roll

Blogger's Note: This is is less of an essay, and more of a brain dump. I wanted to get into the whole concept of repentance and what is supposed to happen on these High Holidays as we approach Yom Kippur, but there isn't time. Continued discussion is welcome though.


Prepare to be wowed by the depth and profundity of this:

When you get an itch in the middle of your back, G-d makes it so you can reach back and scratch it.
If you can't do that, G-d gives you a back scratcher to help you reach.
If you can't do that, G-d provides you with a trusted friend to scratch your back for you.
If you don't have that, G-d gives you relief with the notion that the itch will eventually subside.
What's that you say? Didn't G-d give you the itch in the first place?
Shut up.


I, and about eleven or twelve hundred other people, went to a Porcupine Tree show. (I promise this post is not really about Porcupine Tree.) It was Friday night, Sabbath eve, or Erev Shabbat. And this wasn't just any Shabbat, it was Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of Return or Sabbath of Penitence, which always falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

For some time, I have lamented letting go of much of my Jewish observance, but it was only recently I started to do anything about it. When it began, it was like a big file drawer was opened in my mind. I was having lots of religious/spiritual memories. Most notably, I could remember Hebrew songs. I remember songs in their entirety that I have not sung in years. I sing them to my kids at night; they love the sound of them even if they don't know what the words mean.

The opening band was King's X, a guitar-rock band that turned out to be a bit of crunchy fun. During their set I was thinking that although I'm not supposed to be here on the Sabbath, G-d is still here, at least in some capacity. So I started saying all the Friday night prayers I could remember. Then I tried to do a bit of teshuvah.

This is the time of year when we are meant to be seeking forgiveness for the wrongs we've done, but there are a number of chances to get it right. In order to improve yourself in the eyes of G-d and possibly transform the severity of whatever G-d has planned for you in the year to come, it is said that you must do teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah; repentance, prayer, and charity or good deeds. So I did what I could there in the midst of screaming guitars and pounding drums. I did feel the presence of G-d.

Recently, I was suffering from an ailment that causes a very uncomfortable symptom. (This is not strictly a female ailment, but I think it is more common in women.) The symptom seemed to continue even after I started the antibiotics, and I worried that maybe I had something more severe. I didn't so much pray, but thought to myself that if this symptom would go away, I could handle any of the usual life crap I typically complain about.

So G-d challenged me. He took the symptom away, but gave me a couple of emotionally challenging situations to deal with instead. The first of these was a bad thing, but one that I had some control and influence over.

Just after Rosh Hashanah, my son Einstein's asthma became exascerbated, and I took him to the emergency room. It turned out he had pneumonia. Of course I would have taken my discomfort over his. But I could comfort him, get him water, tell him how brave he was, advocate for him, make his stuffed animals do goofy things so that he'd laugh, rub his back until he slept. He's better now.

The PT set began. It seemed G-d was still there. I tried to listen and hear everything.

"But after a while
You realize
Time flies
And the best thing that you can do
Is take whatever comes to you...."

The life crap, regular or unusual, can get you down. I am good at pulling myself out of a funk, but lately I feel myself getting pretty low. It has made "proper" teshuvah difficult. But you do what you can. There are methods, and rituals to follow, but it really all comes down to finding a way to have the presence of mind, and the desire.

"Silence is another way/To say the things I want to say." Maybe G-d is hearing me even when I'm not doing it right. Help me do it right, I thought. The next morning I could not get to synagogue, but I said the Sabbath morning prayers, with the Shabbat Shuvah bits added in, in my pajamas.

"Down in my soul you are..."
My left hand held on firmly to my right arm. I may have been in a crowd, but I was keeping myself company. Maybe forgiving myself.

A little teshuvah and a little tefillah in an unlikely place. I have the hand-stamp to prove it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Waste of Space

I'd planned on rounding up and riding out the hard news and other randomness from the past few months, in typical noncohesive fashion, and then appending a piece on my thoughts on Rosh Hashanah, which is almost upon us. Unfortunately, I did not have time for the write-read-edit-revise-lather-rinse-repeat process that such a post would require. For now, I send you l'shana tova wishes, and sweetness all around, and please check back for the deeper spiritual stuff. The following starts of kind of serious, but gets lighter and skippier as you go.

June 2: 12tequilas is extremely happy, having had a great appointment (routine) with the gut surgeon yesterday (and those of you with IBD know what I'm talking about). Her good mood was only slightly diminished when opening the paper and finding out that a 14-year-old boy in the neighboring county was killed as a result of unprovoked gang violence perpetrated by kids the same age.

Does this happen to you? When I was getting ready to go out with friends to celebrate turning 21, a friend called to tell me that the U.S. had just dropped some big ol' bombs on Baghdad. Good thing the restaurant in which I was ceremonially carded had big screen TVs, so we could all hear what George Bush Sr. had to say about commencing Operation Desert Storm on my birthday. I just did not want to know about it right then.

More recently, I was happy about accomplishing something and was kind of floating and smiley about it. In fact, a person I greatly respect called me "intrepid," which is a descriptor I'd never before enjoyed. Then I was informed that some asshole was shooting people at the Holocaust Museum. The first thought that popped into my head was "I don't want to know about this right now." I may have said it out loud. And then I burst into tears at my desk, because I felt terrible for having that thought.

June 15: A letter to advice columnist Amy Dickinson complained about the appropriateness of housewarming gifts after telling guests she wasn't expecting gifts. "I don't want to complain," she writes, "but I don't think liquor is an appropriate housewarming gift. I think it's a husband-warming gift, and the wife is left out in the cold!" Um, did I miss some rule that only women drink? If so, I'm in trouble.

This woman and her husband were trying to replace all their old and worn out stuff after they bought a new house. So they thought they'd have a housewarming party and ended up with booze. Although wine might be a slightly better choice, I thought it was funny that she made a general statement to the effect that a gift of liquor is only for the husband. (It also depends on the kind of liquor, have you ever tried Godiva? It's like dessert, really.)

July 8: 12tequilas here with the hard news. I had something quite hard really about how they're going to close a bunch of I-95 rest stops in Virginia, the learning of which made me really have to pee all of a sudden, but then I came upon a debate about ice cream, which taught me that there are some people who place cones above ice cream in importance, and others that don't like ice cream at all (-gasp!-).

A close relative commented thusly: "Here is my $2 (2 cents raised for inflation). My local ice cream shop, (which I will now shamelessly advertise, I should get paid for this) Bruster's makes their own waffle cones and their own ice cream. A single scoop in a waffle cone is huge compared to a single scoop in anything including the waffle bowl. The waffle bowl is, is by the way, very good dipped in chocolate. Make sure that when you get said cone you also get the plastic "cone"-shaped holder. If your cone is flawed, ask for a bowl. If you do not, you will drop ice cream on your lap and then have sticky, yet yummy, mess to clean up. (And your clothing will be stained beyond repair, especially if said ice cream is of the chocolate variety)."

She also asked: "if the government closes rest stops on 95, where are people supposed to pee? Men have it easier than us women. I think the person who wants to close the rest stops is probably a man and doesn't care about where the women pee!"

I explained that apparently the rest stops were built before there were all those McDonald'ses. Supposedly the distance between McDonald'ses is not very long. If you've ever been to a Virginia rest stop, however, you'll know it ain't the same. Close Relative recommended WaWa. Their bathrooms are "OK," she said. "Plus you can make your own milkshake or smoothie there. Not in the bathroom though."

I'd like to share this column from July 13. In it, John Kelly gripes about having to change his password all the time, but shares some interesting tips for repeatedly coming up with passwords you'll remember.

July 22: 12tequilas here with the hard (and crunchy) news. A class action lawsuit has been filed against PepsiCo, parent of Quaker, maker of Cap'n Crunch cereal and its spinoff, Crunch Berries. The suit accuses the defendant of All Sorts of Torts, stemming from the main wrong of deceiving customers into believing that Crunch Berries contains fruit. (Update: the case was dismissed. Try to contain your shock.)

July 30: 12tequilas here with the hard news. President Obama drinks Bud Light. Really, what more do you need to know?

On August 6, 12tequilas broke a rule. The rule is: never buy candy corn when it is not Halloween. Most of her FB friends aren't big fans of candy corn apparently, and Close Relative was actually concerned by this news. However, on August 11, 12tequilas looked at the package again and saw that the fourth ingredient is "honey." She instantly realized that candy corn is healthy. Just like ice cream your child doesn't finish has no calories.

More recently, 12tequilas visited Bed, Bath & Beyond (remembering Peter Griffin's advice to "stay away from that 'Beyond' section"), and noticed that they carried a Candy Corn Party Tray with all different colors and flavors! Even better, they have THIS. Shot glasses, made out of ice. She could probably die happy now.

August 19: 12tequilas likes it when awesome people admit to weakness. From today's WP: "'There are many times where even I, at certain points in the evening, after a few drinks, can't pronounce my own surname.' -- Ukrainian actress Milla Jovovich, 33, to Britain's Daily Express."

Last, my personal favorite--August 26: 12tequilas here with the hard and righteous news. It was reported on an in-depth radio news program this morning that Mel Gibson's estranged wife Robyn got some good stuff in the split, including the property containing Gibson's "breakaway" church (he had to create his own because no church is Catholic enough). Rumor has it that Robyn is thinking of razing the chapel to build some guest homes. But more importantly, the radio people were all wondering how Gibson could claim to be beyond the most Catholic of all Catholics, and then get his mistress pregnant and divorce his wife. They agreed that the Jews must be blamed.