Whinging

May 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm (Life) (, , , )

I must be getting old. It has never taken me this long to adjust to a new time zone. My head aches and I actually feel physically ill by the time I go to bed, which I try to postpone until ten. Yesterday, I stayed up until eleven and was about ready to throw up by the time I went to bed.

This is ridiculous. It’s like I’m some delicate flower, something I am decidedly not. I should be feeling dizzy and tired and cranky all the time.

Dear body, stop this madness immediately.

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One of THESE Again

May 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , )

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This Tornado Loves You

May 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm (Music) (, , , )

I love this.

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Marriage Crisis

May 27, 2009 at 11:02 am (Life) (, , , , , , )

My older sister had her wedding ceremony on Saturday. My mother did not attend.

I have noticed an increasing amount of people being extremely judgmental about this little fact that I do not care for. I don’t think many people understand the circumstances of the situation. It grates. I almost didn’t attend the ceremony either because I somehow, in my gut, just knew it was going to be awful and I would want to kill myself. My gut feeling was right.

My mother does not necessarily approve of interfaith marriage because she herself had bad experiences on that front. My father officially converted so they could get married by a rabbi. HOWEVER, my mother did not insist on him doing this – she told him she would not be leaving him, regardless of their marital status. She was absolutely fine being a domestic partner, but if they were to be married, she’d prefer to do a religious ceremony of her heritage because she had some issues with Catholicism. My father had turned his back on Catholicism by the time he hit college, taking courses in comparative religions and taking a shine to Judaism. So, there is that. Grandma and Grandpa turned out to be horrificly bitchy about it, repeatedly attempting to interfere with the way my parents were raising us by encouraging Christmas and Easter and various other Christian holidays with us. It reached a point where my mother had to threaten they would not be allowed to see us if they did not cut it out.

This may seem harsh, but she has a point. My grandparents had no damn right to interfere with our religious upbringing, if there was to be any. We are their grandchildren, NOT THEIR CHILDREN. Repeatedly making attempts to put Jesus in our life and telling my mother she was an awful horrid Jewish woman who took their beloved Christian angel off the path to righteousness are not appropriate.

On to my sister. S. is not religious at all; she does not identify with Judaism anymore than she does with Christianity, but I think she may inadvertantly be culturally Jewish. A year ago, she married a German Lutheran in a civil ceremony, the way it is done in Europe. She has also had all these fantasies about what her wedding should be like, white dress and flowers and all; she’s had those since she was a child and it dumbfounded and confused my mother and I all the time. S.’s husband, F., is also not at all religious. He’s a could-not-give-a-shit athetist with some leftover guilt from his upbringing.

There was no need for a religious ceremony. Legally, they have already been married for a year. They could have gone with an anniversary party. S. could have worn her goddamn dress to her civil ceremony. But no, she wanted to wear her dress in a big fancy building. Fine. I can deal with this. However, she and F. complied with his parents’ wishes to have a religious ceremony in a church where F.’s mother had worked for twenty years. In Germany, you get whatever asshat runs the majority of the services in that church. The pastor was a total and complete cad.

His idea of interfaith, somehow, meant that he was entitled to make jabs at the Judaism and the fact we do not believe in hanging up a bleeding corpse on a cross for everyone to pray to. He pointedly referred to Judaism as a tradition rather than a faith. He interjected things like, “And now, you have come here to reaffirm your marriage before God, by which, dear bride, I mean JESUS CHRIST.” He gave them a bible as a wedding gift from “the community.” He made the couple kneel before the altar so he could bless them with the crucifix motion despite the couple having said they did not want such a thing.

I was very close to walking out throughout the whole thing. I thought it was rude, inappropriate and does not at all speak of the Christian values I know some of my friends represent. There was no kindness, no love or charity in his sermon, his actions spoke of great disrespect for other human beings who happened to not agree with every word he said. Basically, all he did was ensure stereotypes of interolance within church walls were reaffirmed.

That is why my mother did not go. She had no desire to see her daughter shamed before a congregation for being of a culturally and religiously different group. She had no desire to sit for an hour, staring at a depiction of Jesus Christ bleeding on the cross. She had no desire to have unfriendly encounters with the church servants and the pastor the way I did. This is entirely reasonable, especially since the whole ceremony was completely unnecessary. I wish people would stop talking about how “sad” they were when they heard their “friend did not attend her daughter’s wedding.” It is none of their fucking business to judge when they don’t know the whole story.

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A Swine Flu Update

May 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm (News) (, , )

I figured you guys might find this interesting. My mother (an epidemiologist) is currently attending a medical conference in Hungary. She sent me this.

Swine flu is spreading more widely than official figures indicate, with outbreaks in Europe and Asia showing it’s gained a foothold in at least 3 regions. One in 20 cases is being officially reported in the US, meaning more than 100 000 people have probably been infected nationwide with the new H1N1 flu strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the UK, the virus may be 300 times more widespread than health authorities have said, the Independent on Sunday [newspaper] reported yesterday [Sun 24 May 2009]. Japan, which has reported the most cases in Asia, began reopening schools at the weekend [23-24 May 2009] after health officials said serious medical complications had not emerged in those infected. The virus is now spreading in the community in Australia, Jim Bishop, the nation’s chief medical officer, said yesterday [24 May 2009]. “I think we will see the number rise,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio today after confirming the nation’s 17th case and saying test results are pending on 41 others. “This is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.”

So far, 46 countries have confirmed 12 515 cases, including 91 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally. Almost 4 of every 5 cases were in Mexico and the US, where the pig-derived strain was discovered last month [April 2009]. Most of those infected experience an illness similar to that of seasonal flu. The main difference is that the new H1N1 strain is persisting outside the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Summer disease?

“While we are seeing activities decline in some areas, we should expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and perhaps more deaths over the weeks ahead and possibly into the summer,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, told reporters on a 22 May 2009 conference call.

The US has officially reported 6552 probable and confirmed cases, Schuchat said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We are estimating more than 100 000 people probably have this virus now in the US. There have been 9 deaths and more than 300 known hospitalizations,” she said. The fatalities exclude a woman in her 50s who died in New York over the weekend [23-24 May 2009].

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Memorial Day

May 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm (Life) (, , )

My mother is the first and only person in our family to serve in the military. She never emphasized a strong commitment to our country, serving it or pushing for the somewhat brainless devotion many people seem to have where the US military is concerned. Growing up, I was never off on US holidays because I was enrolled in the German school system and thus immersed in a very different tradition.

All I knew about Memorial Day was that it was a three-day-weekend. I would get to see my mother more often, she would be home when I got back from school and that made me happy. I never thought to ask why she became very quiet and reserved and continues to do so. It is only over the last few years that I have become more aware of some of the US holidays.

I am lucky. I do not personally know anyone who has been critically injured or died somewhere in deserts and swamps while bearing arms in combat.  My mother and most of her acquaintances are high-ranking enough that they do not serve directly in the field. I have met several younger soldiers still scarred by their experience out in Iraq, though. I did cry when a young servicewoman allowed for the transport of her deployed, now deceased, husband’s body to Ramstein be filmed and broadcasted after Obama lifted the ban on this. I sat with my mother as we watched an airplane crash into the Pentagon with the feeling of sickness in my stomach; at the time, no one was aware of the fact the destroyed section had been empty. All we knew was that members of the military my mother knew worked in that building.

I remember hearing Bush announce a “crusade” on terror and realizing for the very first time that people were going to die in a futile effort, people my mother worked with, parents of children I had played with. In Germany, I live near a base with a high rotation of deployment. When I briefly attended the DoD high school, it was common for a classmate or more to miss school for a day because a parent was to be deployed for the second or third time. Looking back at my mother’s period of deployment to Kuwait, I never realized how dangerous her situation really was. She never spoke of certain things, like the fact she was usually in full combat armor and carried a weapon wherever she went.

I gather Memorial Day is often misconstrued as just another day off. In the thrall of a rare three day weekend, people forget why exactly this day has been given off, why schools are closed and why many flags hang at half-mast. The people I know don’t forget, but it is never wrong to point it out again.

Here’s to our servicemen and servicewomen who bravely laid down their lives for our country. Here’s to the men and women in the sweltering deserts cleaning up messes they never intended to make. Here is to parents, husbands, wives, children, aunts and uncles who leave their families behind to heed the call of duty. I cannot find the passage our Jewish military community would recite every Shabbat service in honor of those soldiers who had fallen and still fall, but one part in particular plays as a loop in my head.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

I hope there will – one day – come a time when Memorial Day will only commemorate those who have fallen, when war is a thing of the past. While I know this is unrealistic, I cannot help but hope that it shall come to pass.

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Travel Sickness

May 25, 2009 at 11:18 am (Life) (, , )

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing new places and meeting new people and new experiences. What I do hate, however, is the actual traveling part.

I hate sitting in a flying tin can for hours with screaming babies and energetic toddlers. I hate people who cannot sit still, who seem to need something from the overhead compartment every ten minutes or so. I despise it when people have to climb over me to reach the bathroom. I hate it when flight attendants basically have to climb over me because some idiot is blocking the aisle; or when they slam into me with carts. I hate standing in line at passport control and having to explain why I have multiple passports*. I hate how travel screws with my inner clock and I end up with a headache and remain cranky for quite some time until I adjust.

I have been traveling entirely too much for my liking lately, and it won’t calm down until the end of August. I am flying back to England on the evening of July 3rd, will spend about a month in England, then fly to Montreal. I will be in Montreal for a few days, then I fly to San Francisco! From San Francisco, I am flying to England, where I will stay a week, then fly back to Washington, D.C. for school. I realize this is the whining of someone who has the privilege and parents who have enough money to travel this frequently, but sometimes I need to complain.

That said, I wouldn’t trade the traveling for anything. It allows me to meet people I haven’t met before or haven’t seen in a long time. I will be fine once my jetlag headache subsides.

(*The reason being: One of them is expired, but contains my not-expired visa for Germany. One is a military issued passport that will expire in a few years that contains my visa for England. The third is my regular tourist passport. I usually only brandish the expired one and the current tourist passport when I fly into Germany to avoid a hassle. The military-issued one is the one I use when I fly to England because English border control is full of idiots. THEY STAMPED OVER MY PERFECTLY VALID VISA ONCE. WTF?)

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Hairy Situation

May 22, 2009 at 5:37 pm (Life) (, )

Before!

before haircut

After!

after haircut

It’s dark, so you can’t see it properly. It’s about six inches shorter now and we added some texture with long layers. I finally replaced my curling iron; I like it. I’m thinking of getting a body wave done because I have a lot of fun with those curls. I’ll try to get a better picture of the length tomorrow morning when it’s light out.

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It was . . .

May 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm (Life) (, , , , )

a dark and windy night in Southern Germany when she decided to update her blog again.

My mother flew in from England. I am happy to see her, but somehow, I feel things have changed over the five months since I last saw her. I am loathe to say I have grown up because I pretty much feel the same as I always did. I never sense that I have changed. It is others who remark upon such things happening. I never notice it. I don’t feel different, I don’t want to feel different. While I had my flaws, I kind of liked who I was five months ago, even almost a year ago when I graduated.

It is late where I am right now. I think I’ll be able to focus my thoughts better tomorrow morning. I also have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow, so I will post before and after pictures and whatnot. I will also be hunting for shoes for the wedding (one more day until I can forget all about my sister’s gosh-I’m-so-pretty party!) and buying a new curling iron.

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Bah! Humbug!

May 20, 2009 at 7:20 am (Life) (, , )

As most of you may have gathered from my frequent bitchy Facebook status updates, I have been having some major difficulties with my asthma over the past few days. After being under control for well over four years, I’ve basically been sitting on the edge of an asthma attack for the past few days now. I made a stop at the emergency room yesterday because it got so bad.

There’s really not much to say; the doc pretty much said that he couldn’t hear the typical rattling and wheezing in my lungs when he listened to me, but that’s not terribly comforting. I know what it feels like to have constricted breathing. My neck and chest were pulling in painfully with every breath I was taking, my coughing is dry and almost pertussis-like in its sound. They also gave me the side-eye when I told them I was not on steroid medication because it gave me laryngitis. I hate it when that happens. I am part of a small, small percentage of people who react badly to inhaled corticosteroids. Deal with it. Stop looking at me like I’m an idiot.

Last night was oodles of fun, obviously. The nebulizer treatment in the hospital only lasted for about two hours or so. Once I left the hospital again, my breathing went straight back to shit. I can’t find my peak flow meter and I would fucking HATE to have to go to family practice and have them prescribe me a new peak flow meter. My medication dose has drastically increased and an oral steroid will probably have to be added for a few days so this can pass. Normally, I am on one puff of cromolyn inhaler, four times a day, along with a montelukast tablet in the evening along with certirizine. Now I am on two puffs of albuterol along with one puff of cromolyn, four times a day; one montelukast tablet and the certirizine.

On the upside, if I have to add an oral steroid, that usually clears up any and all infections in my body. And my voice gets an ear-splitting clear edge when I sing. I WILL BE SUPERWOMAN!

We assume the attack was triggered by the combination of pollen, stress, air travel and dust that accumulates in our house like crazy. My plans for July have also been changed; it appears I will be going to England rather than Germany, which is fine by me.

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