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Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Cleansing

Those of you who have been reading my essays for a while now, the last ten years, have noticed, now and then, I talk about weight. My own. It has been a problem, often real, sometimes imagined, since I was a teen. And those of you who have been reading my essays, all eight of you, know I have met with success, (“Body Modification”) shown sustained effort, (“Einstein’s Bagels And Why They Apparently Think I’m An Illiterate Putz”) and relative failure (“After You, I Insist”)  despite difficulties with eating disorders and dysmorphia (“Seven Questions for Adam: An Interview by Craig Smith”).

This year I started teaching again. I was down in the 150’s  The low 150’s. But teaching, while not sedentary, is not terribly active. And it seems the only way anyone knows to show appreciation is with cookies and cakes and whatnots. Not money, no. Cookies. And, I admit, I have a cookie problem. Teachers are, looking around the schools I have taught at, a bit more weighty than the average. And they seem to look at you funny if you don’t partake as they do (”I’m Not getting Stuffed on Thanksgiving Day”).  This makes nothing anyone else’s fault. All mine. And this year I put on weight. How much, you ask? Don’t. Please don’t. Let’s say about 30% more than I started the year with. I wish my salary would go up like my weight did.

And, so, I decided this summer to change that. I hit the gym, as I had been doing. But now five mornings a week, and longer sessions since I wasn’t tired from work. And removed wheat from my diet, which also removed lots of sugar. This, in part, so when the school year started again, my cravings for cookies would be down and my ability to say no would be up. A half hour of weights. Forty-five minutes of cardio. Saw a doctor. Getting massage and acupuncture. Taking supplements. Dealing with the sleep issues. Use of Myfitnesspal. A Fitbit. And, the results, so far, in two months is… four pounds.

School is about to start again and I arrive at seven in the morning. I work nights seeing patients at least twice a week, so no more five days a week morning workouts.  I don’t want to slip back.

I have been putting in sustained consistent high effort and met with minimal results. So it is time to try something different.

Arlene, she,unsurpassed Queen of Kindness and Wisdom, she, Goddess of Good Advice, was talking about a cleanse she came across. A cleanse and a jumstart. I have not been a fan of cleanses and have seen too many done badly, but I looked at this with her and it struck me as well thought-out and of high quality. I was surprised, really. I tried their aloe juice and, for the first time, aloe didn’t make me sick.  She was going to give it a try and so I asked if I could do the cleanse with her.

It is from a company called Forever Living. If you want some information on it, just take a look at arlenejoan.com.  I have been impressed so far.

Will it work? Who knows. I can tell you that I will work it for all that it is worth and do it right.

You can follow her progress at arlenjoan.com. Me, I have not decided if I will report anything or just wait ‘til the end and see what happened, but you can be pretty sure, if it does work, I’ll be mentioning it.

Fingers crossed.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Collecting Stones

Collecting Stones

Today is the day I collect stones.

Years ago, far away, Jews, before they were Jews, back when they were a wandering tribe of anthropo-theists who believed in a single god that they insistedGrave 1 was unlike any other, met the Canaanites, who believed in no such thing. Before they merged, even back then, we buried our dead in the ground. At first this was in caves. Then, in the ground itself. In areas that were too hard to dig, too rocky, a body would be placed on the ground and stones would be heaped on and around the body. The community would bring stones and the more people who attended, the more stones would be piled. One could tell how important, or how loved, and they are not the same, by how high the pile of stones was.

Still today, the tradition continues. One can walk through a Jewish cemetery and see graves with stones on them. Someone comes to visit and leaves a stone. “I was here.” “People still care about this person.” Over srtre gravetime, the piles grow.

The Hebrew word for pebble is tz’ror—a word that also means bond. In the memorial prayer, El Maleh Rahamim, we ask the deceased be “bound up in the bond of life”—tz’ror haHayyim. By placing the stone, we show that we have been there, and that this person’s memory continues to live on in us, through us. And the practice is not kept to just Jews who have passed, but one may see pebbles on the grave of any beloved or respected. If you see pebbles, you know a Jew has been there. You know the person is loved.

Tomorrow I bury my father. Unlike my grandmother, whom I myself buried, my mother—and soon my father to join her—is buried in a “waterproof” concrete casket buried in the ground over which a concrete lid is placed over which a marble lid is placed and secured with four large bolts. I shooed the workers away and secured the bolts myself. It was not the same, one shovel after another, but it was some closure. Tomorrow I will do the same.

bernstein graveWhat strikes me about this cemetery, other than the non-Jewishness of keeping a body from the elements, securing it from the waters, protecting it from the natural process that brings it back into the Earth, is this—a nearly complete lack of stones. Oh, the graves have stones. They are brought in, small ones, in pockets and handbags and baggies. But there are none to gather—as though the ground had been cleared, swept, scraped free. There should be a sign. “There will be no gathering of stones here. No. We have made sure of it.”

First breath. Last breath. In between, we collect stones.

And, so, today I collect stones.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Culture, Family, Religion

 

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Already It Is Too Long

Already it is too long 
For you 
To lie there 
With your one eye open 
Staring at nothing, or 
Something only you can see. 
I cannot quite tell 
If you are conscious but 
Incapable of movement, or 
Vacated so fully 
you do not even care to swallow 
However much we may plead. 
 
I ask how you are doing. 
They tell me facts - 
How many squirts of apple juice, 
How many half-teaspoons of pudding - 
But I don't want facts. 
Lives are not made of 
facts and measure and scales and 
What do they know? 
They didn't even know 
Which way to comb your hair. 
So we brushed it back and 
Now you look like you again and 
You can go now. 
Really. It's OK.
 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Family, Poetry

 

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