Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Friday, December 31, 2004

The difference a day can make

For the last few years at this time of year, while many of my friends and coworkers have taken a week or more off from work, I have been left minding the shop, so to speak. I really don't mind this for the most part -- this is not my holiday season, and I prefer to avoid traveling along with half of the rest of the country. However, subconsciously, I think part of me still associates the end of the year with a nice break from my regular schedule, and it is difficult to not have some time off to unwind, rest and recharge. Last year at this time, I was particularly stressed out and tired, and the only day I was taking off was Jan. 1 itself. "A lot of difference one day will make," I thought ruefully. However, as I recall, one day did make a very big difference. I slept late, lounged around in pajamas, took a nap, and even got some things done around my apartment. When I went back to work the next day, I was rested and recharged.

This year has been quite a bit better. A couple of Fridays ago I had a day off at a point where I was feeling particularly rundown and exhausted. I was a lazy bum for the whole day, and it was wonderful. Last Friday (Dec. 24) I only worked for about four hours, and my assignment -- covering the local "Mitzvah Day" of the Jewish Federation -- was fun and laid-back. And today, I have another day off. I slept in today, and have some time before Shabbos to run some errands and catch up on things I need to do. Thanks to this important respite time, I'm feeling that my life is a bit more sane and orderly, which is a good feeling.

In other news, the Executive Editor of the Chronicle is on vacation for two weeks, leaving me in charge of the paper. (ha, ha, ha -- maniacal laughter from me) It is a little bit daunting, but also very exciting to have this power and responsibility. Of course, he would have to leave during the slowest news week of the year. Filling next week's paper is going to be a challenge, but I've come up with some ideas that should do the job.

The other event taking up much of my time lately is the upcoming renovation of my kitchen. My management company has warned me that they're on the way to rip out all my cabinets, decimate the wall to my largest closet to annex it to the kitchen, install some new flooring, and perform various other tasks which will fill my apartment with dust and grime. (Not to mention the awkwardness of having three maintenance men in my apartment all day for two straight weeks while I am out at work. I'm not afraid that they will steal or break anything, it's just weird to know they'll be there when I'm not.) I happen to like my kitchen the way it is, and I like having a nice large storage closet, but they didn't ask my opinion.

I have resigned myself to the fact that this is out of my control, and that once it is done, the renovation will probably be quite nice. I have already emptied the closet I will be losing, and managed to find places for all the stuff that I wanted to keep, and threw out a bunch of other stuff. (It is a very big deal for someone like me to actually throw things away.) I know that I will get through this, but it won't be easy.

Probably when it's all done, I'll need another day off. Or two. Or ten.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah from the Draydel maidel.

May you eat latkes and donuts to your heart's content. And don't forget to play a game of draydel.:)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Giving credit where it's due

In my post about my Thanksgiving adventures, I used the word "chyck" without properly attributing it. Credit goes to my friend Sarah, from whom I learned the term (though I'm not sure if she is the person who originally invented it).

The spelling of chyck with a Y is a light-hearted parody of those feminists who believe that women should be spelled womyn (or something like that) to escape the notion that women are awkwardly prefixed versions of men. You know, womyn, instead of "whoa men!" -- this being my impression of primordial man's reaction to discovering the allures of feminity for the first time.

You hardly ever hear women called dames or broads any more, but chick has stuck around, mostly as a playful term that most of us don't find offensive. (as in chick flick) But, as Sarah would say, "That's chick with a Y."

Finding Neverland

I went to see "Finding Neverland" this evening, and it lived up to my hopes of being a magical, poignant film. The costumes, the pastoral views of England, the beauty of it all, were breath-taking.

To engage in a bit of Hollywood hyperbole, "If you only see one movie this holiday season, see 'Finding Neverland.'"

I am a movie lover, and I take my films seriously. This one was one of those rare gems that is truly magical, that nurtures one's imagination, and, of course, made me cry.

Before going to the movie, someone warned me to take lots of tissues. This warning was sort of superfluous for me, seeing as I cried through much of "13 Going on 30," which is a comedy aimed at pre-pubescent girls. I cry a lot at movies, which is why I tend to go alone to the ones I want to see most. I call it cinema therapy, a term that someone wisely put to use in a published book and television series. As most women can understand, there's nothing like a good cry.

I actually cried less in this movie than I might have expected. There is as much happiness as sadness in the film, and even in the sadness, there is comfort and hope. One of the undercurrents of the film is the idea that children should be allowed to be children, with lives rich with imagination and mirth, and that as adults, we should hold onto this sense of childlike wonder and possibility -- a message that is particularly close to my heart.

Like I said, see it, you won't regret it.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Six hours, five states

Following the sage advice of one of my blog mentors, I will not apologize for not having posted in so long. When I decided to start a blog, I vowed that I would not let it consume my life, and I seem to be succeeding at that, though I do wish I was able to post more often. I check my blog daily to see if readers have left comments, and sometimes I think wistfully (and rather ridiculously), "I wish this chyck would post more often. I kind of like what she has to say." Oh, to read my own carefully arranged words without putting in the effort to launch them into the blogosphere.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is to update you on my Thanksgiving adventures, which were, as adventures go, rather tame.

My family on my mother's side has gathered for many a Thanksgiving in my hometown of Charleston, W.V., where my grandparents, and my great-grandparents before them, lived. When I was growing up, my sister and I would spend alternate Thanksgivings at home in Charleston and in Washington, D.C. with our other grandparents and our father (who separated from, and later divorced, my mom when I was less than a year old). The Thanksgivings in Charleston were always more enjoyable, mostly because we could actually eat the food. My Washington grandparents usually took us to a gathering of their friends, in which a very non-kosher turkey basted with butter was served.

From the Charleston gatherings, I have many warm memories of being doted upon by my grandmother's siblings, being shooed out of the kitchen, and playing with my three cousins. The year I was nine, I also recall being stricken with a case of "turkey pox" -- chicken pox with uncanny timing.

During my college years, and the years since then, we continued to gather in Charleston for Thanksgiving, with a couple of exceptions, and we did so even last year, even though my grandfather was very weak and not able to spend too much time at the meal before needing a nap. After he passed away over the summer, we sort of agreed as a family to gather in Cincinnati instead, where my aunt and two cousins (one of whom is married with children) live. This was practical for a number of reasons. First, Cincinnati is now the city where more family members live than any other and second, kosher food in large quantities is easier to come by in Cincy than in West Virginia. For most of the last 15 years or so, my aunt would import Thanksgiving dinner and two Shabbos meals to Charleston.

While I missed driving through the West Virginia hills and having that feeling of really being home, I had a wonderful time with my mom, stepdad, and cousins. My sister and her husband spent Thanksgiving this year with his side of the family in Zanesville, Ohio. I was sad I would miss seeing her this year, until my mom pointed out that my drive from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati would take me right through Zanesville on I-70.

I called my sister a couple of days before the holiday, and made arrangements to meet her at her newly married brother-in-law's home, where the Smith family would be gathering. Since my family would be eating Thanksgiving dinner in the evening, I left Pittsburgh at mid-morning and stopped in Zanesville after the Smiths had finished the bulk of their meal, which was a very impressive spread. I stayed at their place for about 40 minutes, lunching on my cheese sandwich (the meal wasn't kosher) as they polished off some pie. It was a nice laid-back gathering (unlike my family which is very high strung), and it was a fun stop on my trip.

From there, I drove most of the rest of the way to Cincy, stopping at a rest area north of Lebanon, Ohio to daven mincha. I called my aunt from there to say I would be there in a half hour, I was "north of Lebanon."

The drive back had its own amusements. I was a bit lost in thought as I began my trip, and took a wrong turn leaving Cincinnati. I realized as I made the turn that I might be going the wrong way, but the road signs seemed familiar, so I kept going. I started worrying when I saw signs for "Indianapolis this lane."

I wasn't as hopelessly out of the way as it sounds. You see, Cincinnati is in the southwest corner of Ohio, very close both to Indiana and Kentucky. Since I had managed to get myself on I-275 going the wrong way, I wound up looping into Indiana and then Kentucky (ironically, for a few minutes I was south of Hebron, K.Y.) before getting onto I-71 North, which took me back through downtown Cincy and back past the exit to get to my aunt's house -- about an hour after I started the trip.

I was frustrated but figured, hey, how often do you get to visit five states in one day? (The trip back to Pittsburgh involves going through Wheeling, W.V.) Such were my adventures -- from north of Lebanon, to south of Hebron without ever leaving the midwest. All in about 6 hours or so.