Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflections - 13 years

I just got into the office, after the Patriot Day Celebration at B's school.  As I write this, I consider the word "celebration" and wonder if it is the appropriate word.  After all, with the day marking such a horrible and tragic event in our Nation's history, is it a celebration?  Commemoration?  Regardless of the word, we mark the day.

As I stood behind one of the kindergarten classes, I smiled at the "oohs" and "aahs" as they craned their necks skyward to watch the Boy Scout Troop raise the flag.  Their excited chatter over seeing the flag unfurl was charming and quite a contrast to the group of police officers, fireman and other enforcement officers standing to my right, tall and straight, arms raised in quiet salute.

If you think about it, none of the children at the school were alive in 2001. (B, born in 2005 is in 4th grade.  Assuming the 6th graders are 2 or 3 years older than her, they would have been born in 2002 or later.)  While so many of us know where we were on that particular day, our children wonder what this day is all about.

I remember this day in 2001, 13 years ago.  I was driving to my job "over the hill", from Canoga Park to Beverly Hills.  I had worked there just 4 months and was still learning my way around and getting to know the people I worked with.  I don't remember what time I got in my car, but as usual, I turned the radio to "Jamie and Danny" on Star 98 (or maybe it was still "Jaime, Frosty and Frank" at the time?) as I hit the road.  I clearly remember Jamie, close to tears and with a tremor in her voice, saying "we still don't know what really happened, but we want you to know that we love you guys."  She was talking to the listeners.  I switched the channel to Kevin & Bean, to find just Money and "Doc on the Roc" on, giving updates on the situation in New York.  I was stunned.  I don't remember much of what I heard on the radio over the course of my 45 minute drive, but I remember quietly crying and wondering what was next.  When I got to the office, my coworkers were quietly walking around, seemingly dazed.  Through huddled conversations with others, I learned that one of the partners had a daughter living in New York City and he had not been able to get in touch with her.  (He was finally able to reach her and she was fine.)  As it became apparent that no work would be done, the partners gave us the option of going home.  Wanting to be with other people, rather than alone in my apartment, I headed to Rob's parents' house in Northridge.  I spent the day on their couch, watching the news stations.

Over the next few weeks, the horror of what happened that day continued to unfold and the uncertainty of our future with it.  Would there be other attacks?  Should we begin to stockpile food and water?  Would our lives as we know it change drastically?  For us, life went back to much the same as it was before, albeit with a few more hugs, a few more "I love you!"s called as we walked out the door, and a bit more patriotism.  But for others, their lives were irreversibly changed, forever marked by this day.

Having walked near the footprints of those buildings just two months ago, I marvel at the strength of New York City and its people.  While I'm sure many continue their daily lives in quiet remembrance of a friend or family member lost, of the horrors of that day, the simple fact is that they continue their lives.  They have not let this day get the best of them.

When we note this day, we remember the lives lost, the victims and the heroes, the first responders and all who helped in some way, whether it was in New York, Washington DC or that field in Pennsylvania.  We remember the swell of patriotism and the renewed spirit of the Country.  We hope.  We hope for a time without worry of these types of attacks.  We hope to never have to experience anything like this again.  We hope that our children do not have to live through anything like that.  And we thank G-d.  For our lives, for our family, for our country.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Turning 40 Bucket List

2  and a half years ago, my older sister turned 40.  Last year, my other sister turned 40.  Yes, as luck would have it, I'm next.  No dodging this one.  Back in 2012, I read a blog by a woman who was approaching her 39th birthday, and in celebration, she created a bucket list of 39 things that she would like to do before her 39th birthday.  Inspired by her list, I decided to create my own list, as I stared down the barrel of my own 40th birthday.

As I sat there, some 30-plus months ago, I struggled a bit.  What do I put on this list?  I wrote a few things down that I've long wanted to do, such as sky diving or bungee jumping, and then there was that violin of my grandfather's, sitting unused and in need of repair, to learn to play.  But many of the things on the other woman's list were things that I had already done - take a cruise to Europe, climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, swim in the waters of the Caribbean.  So what to do, what to do.

If you look back at some of my posts from 2012, you'll see that I worked on that list.  But I never did get to 40 things.  At one point, I amended it and tried to come up with 20 things to do before my 40th birthday.  I don't have that list in front of me, so I'm not sure what was on it, but I'm guessing I haven't hit many of those goals.  And here I sit, just a mere 23 days from the "BIG" day.

I've known that this day was coming.  Some people say that big birthdays "sneak up" on them, but there was no sneaking for me on this one.  As I said, with 2 older sisters, each a year older than the other, you know when things like this are around the corner.  Also, as one of the youngest members of my high school graduating class, and with the access that Facebook now gives us to one another's lives, I have watched many of my friends tackle the dreaded 4-0.  But perhaps it is not so "dreaded" as it once was?  Some of my friends have kids going off to college, or even having their own children, while others might still be looking for that Mr. or Ms. "Right."   Who is to say which of us is doing it right (or wrong) when it comes to aging?    When my Mom hit 40, she had a 20 year old (and a 19 and 18 year old too.)  I'm pretty sure I would not have been able to handle that timing myself.

But still, my list looms, almost mocking me as the date approaches.  My 30th was interesting - it fell on Yom Kippur, which meant an entire day of fasting, in celebration of my birthday.  I was worried that I would end up with a massive headache by the time the cake came around late that night.  This year, my day once again falls on a holiday - the first day of Rosh Hashana.  So while I won't be fasting on my birthday this year, I will be sitting in Temple for the day.  (And then catching a flight to Las Vegas, but I digress.)

Although I didn't complete my list as I had hoped to do, it was occasionally in the back of my mind as the pages of the calendar flipped by.  Then, a few months ago, I stumbled across something that made me laugh a bit and stopped me in my tracks.  Rob's grandmother passed away at the end of April.  While preparing what I wanted to say at her funeral, I went through several of my old journals to see if I had written down any stories about trips, or even something about when I met her.  In the midst of all of that, I came across a list I had made in April 2001, a mere 13 years ago.  The list was "Things I'd like to do before I'm 40" and it had the following:

- learn to play the violin
- write a song
- write a book
- compose music (at least one piece)
- take horseback riding lessons
- sing on stage in front of a crowd
- see Paris, London, Hawaii
- visit Poland - Auschwitz
- learn to read Torah
- blow the shofar at High Holidays
- sell candy and cookie baskets (even if its only one)
- make my t-shirt quilt
-decorate a wedding cake.

 I laughed a bit when I saw the list and marveled at how things had changed.  Where was I at in 2001, that my almost 27-year old self would create such a list?  I was not yet married, and not even engaged to be married.  I did not have children.  Rob and I had been dating for about 2 and a half years and I had been a practicing attorney for almost 2.  Life certainly looked different.

My 2001 list kind of put my 2013-2014 list into perspective.  The things that I looked forward to doing then, in anticipation of a birthday then 13 years away were somewhat different, based on my life experiences to that point.  How did I fare on that list?  Well, there are a few things I can absolutely cross off, such as blowing shofar at High Holidays (although having done it for many years now, I'm not sure why I ever wanted to do that, haha), and seeing Paris and London and Hawaii (actually, all of them at least twice!).   A few others, I can cross off because while I did not accomplish them specifically as written, I think I've accomplished the spirit of what I was thinking at the time.  For example, over the past few years, I have sold several crafty-type gift baskets at holiday boutiques and fairs.  That counts.  Also, while I have not decorated a wedding cake, I've done several birthday cakes for my girls (some with several layers) and also did birthday cakes for Grandma Trudy (some of several layers.)  That counts too.

The t-shirt quilt still sits in a box in my spare room, waiting to be put together.  I've learned to read a bit of Hebrew and can follow along in the prayer book, but can't chat Torah.  I got my grandfather's violin refurbished and restrung but have not taken any lessons to learn to play it.   I attended a birthday party with K and rode a horse around the ring with her in front of me, but have not taken any lessons.  I've written countless chapters of novels in my head, but have not gotten them down into a book.  And I've had several dreams where a song gets stuck in my head and I tell myself to remember it, only to wake up and have it disappear into thin air.  These are the things on my list.

When I look back at those wishes, I see that they are a bit more "down to earth" than my current bucket list.  I still want to sky dive and I'd still like to bungee jump, but at the same time, I have other things I'd like to do, such as plan a few Bat Mitzvahs for 2 little munchkins I call my own.  I'd still like to see Poland, but I'd also like to see the world through my girls eyes.  (Having seen Paris with B when she was 3 and a half, I can't wait to see more of the world with them.  Her story about the Eiffel Tower and L'Arc de Triumphe giving hugs was just too cute!)

So my lists remain.  I've got my "old" list, that my 27 year old self made, from 2001 that I'm still working on and I've got those few things that my 38 year old self added to my "new" list.  Even if I don't get to cross any of them off in the next 23 days, I'll keep at it.  Who says that 40 has to be "old" or that I have to accomplish any of those things before then?  After all, age is just a number, right?  Bring it on, 40, bring it on.