One of THESE Again

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

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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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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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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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Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009 at 12:52 pm (Life) (, , , , )

Since it is that day a year again, a stereotypical post about the appreciation for my mother is in order.

I would be lying if I said my mother were an easy person. She’s not. She can be brusque, she is honest to a point where tact is not even a remote option. She will roll her eyes at some flights of fancy. She’s never done things the easy way and she is independent and self-reliant; offering help will sometimes result in getting yelled at. She doesn’t quite understand the concept of being a sympathetic listener, instead she tries to come up with pragmatic solutions and is then flabbergasted why she is not someone’s first pick of listener. Her sense of fashion is non-existent and her penchant for wearing loud-colored self-knit socks with sandals has embarrassed me plenty of times.

But she is a wonderful person nevertheless, one who has faith in me when I am rather sure no one else does. Her honesty keeps me grounded. This crazy lady truly believes I am a beautiful, talented, smart, sophisticated young woman. She raised me to know I am worth a whole lot more than the world will offer me at times. Her primary concern is always, always my well-being and living up to my potential. She was willing to give me another chance after I messed up horrible when I was younger; she was willing to give me another pet to help me cope with my failure and my anxiety. Throughout every mistake I made, she trusted in my ability to make the right decisions for myself. My decisions may not always coincide with what she believes is right for me, but she will try and accept it after some initial bitching.

If I have a best friend, it is probably my mother. Distance – her being stationed on a completely different continent for some parts of my life – did sometimes put fissures in our relationship, but we were brave enough to put the pieces back together again and work around those cracks.

My mother is a crazy, wool-obsessed fiber artist with no tolerance for idiocy and the ability to forge her way through anything if she sets her mind to it. It was hard to realize, over the years, that she, too, is a human being and as prone to failure as I am. I still don’t think I could imagine a more perfect mother for myself.

Photo 75

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That 3 PM Call

April 18, 2009 at 3:18 pm (Life) (, , )

My family calls on Saturdays. Today I received a lecture on internet safety, not pushing buttons, school and community. I started crying a bit. We talked some more. The phone was handed to my sister, for whom CSI: Las Vegas was more important than I was. I told her to just hand the fucking phone back to my mother if she didn’t want to talk to me. My dad only spoke of the weather and transferring schools. I cried harder.

By the time my father gently hung up, I couldn’t keep it together anymore. So I sat and listened to the line crackling for a minute and cried some more. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me or some outside factor. What I do know is that I don’t think I like it here very much.

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