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Passover

Last night, at sunset, the Jewish holiday of Passover began.  Now, I’m going to go with the assumption that most of my readers are more than just my mother and that most people don’t know what Passover is.  Bare with me as I will do my best to provide you a quick education in jewish traditions while not putting you to sleep.

First, have you read your bible?  Even if it was just back in sunday school so many years ago that you care not to remember what you insisted being allowed to wear, just go with that.  Alright, so assuming that you have read your bible, or at least had it read to you, you have most likely heard the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  This is a good starting point.

The Jews were slaves to the Egyptians for 400ish years.  They built their cities, labored under the lash, and were generally bitter and miserable as beasts of burden.  Then, at one point, a falling star foretold even doom and gloom and the Pharaoh declared that the firstborn Hebrew manchild must die.  This sucked.  One mother decided to disobey and put her newborn son into a basket and sent him floating down the river Nile.  Quite ballsy, considering things like crocodiles.  The baby in the Basket was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and rescued from the basket, drawn from the water, and so she named him “Moses” which means “Drawn from the water”.  Original, huh?

Ok, fast forward a few dozen or thirty years.  New Pharaoh and Moses is considered a prince of Egypt, close to the throne, etc.  Until he finds out by some way that he’s actually not a prince of egypt and is instead the son of slaves.  So, like most emo kids of his age, he goes on a soul quest, trying to figure out just who he is, asking the age old questions of what makes a man who he is, nature or nurture?  (you like how I got that in there, didn’t you?  Turned it all into philosophy and junk.  I really am just that good.)

To make a long story short (too late), Moses begins to identify as a Hebrew and feels that slavery is wrong and evil.  An egyptian day Abe Lincoln.  He gets himself all self-righteous and in a moment of identity crisis forgets that he’s a slave and not a prince and he murders an Egyptian overseer to protect another slave.  This gets a bit messy and he’s found and banished from Egypt (some stories have him running away at this point, but I personally enjoy Mr. DeMille’s version).

But wait, there’s more!

Moses makes it through the desert to Midian, to the children of Ishmael, and there he finds peace and love and life with a young shepherdess names Tziporah.  It is here in this wilderness beneath Mt Sinai that Moses first notices the Burning Bush upon the side of mountain.  He goes up, gets an encounter of the divine kind with God, and it’s back to Egypt!

Our story picks up pace here, it really does, I promise.

To Egypt!  Moses reunites with his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, and between the three of them they begin to orchestrate their people into being ready for freedom.  With one small block in the way, Pharaoh.  For being Gods themselves, we are now on our 3rd Pharaoh of this story as they appear to be less than hardy in their godly ways.

Pharaoh is greedy and stubborn, he likes having slaves to do things, otherwise he might have to make other people work, and that would be just plain silly.  So, he refuses to do what Moses tells him, and in turn Egypt is visited by 10 plagues.  Well ok, we’ll cover the first 9.

Blood, frogs, gnats, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness.

There, 9 plagues.  Now through all of this, Pharaoh was a stubborn jackass and refused to let anybody go.  But it was the 10th plague, the one that he caused himself, that finally softened his heart.  The Death of the First Born.  And it is here that we come to the namesake of this holiday.  Gloom and doom and a bit of thriller action for the win.

God passed along through Moses that the Angel of Death would descend to egypt over the night and would slay the first born of every household.  The only way to save your first born is to mark your doorposts and lintel with the blood of a lamb. This would be the signal for the Angel to “Pass over” that house, as it was the house of a believer and a Hebrew.

Now, you know where the name comes from, but why the matzah?  Well that happens next.

Finally, The Pharaoh relents and tells Moses to get the heck out of Egypt, him and the Hebrew slaves.  Free at last, Free at last, Great God Almighty, Free at last.  And so the Hebrews, who have been packing for going on like five weeks now, are ready to go.  But their bread has not yet had a chance to rise when they pack their goods and go.  The hot sun bakes the bread upon their backs, and this is why we eat unleavened bread like matzah.

Some other stuff happened in the story, but to be honest, it’s not all that important to what Passover is at the moment.  If you want to know the rest, read your bible.  Or better yet be like all good Jews and watch The Ten Commandments.  Charlton Heston. Yul Brenner. Anne Baxter. Yvonne De Carlo.  There is plenty here for everybody to enjoy.

So, lets fast forward to modern days and how Passover is celebrated.  It’s in a way slightly like Lent, in that it is a period of time in which there is some self-deprivation involved.  No leavened bread.  No bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, etc.  Some traditions go to extremes and insist that no grains that need to be soaked in water for longer than 18 minutes is permissable, but I say that’s a bit too much for me.  And I intend to have some rice and some oatmeal this week.

Passover is celebrated with family, over a seder dinner.  And I’m thinking that I should probably explain these in different posts.  Or it just gets a bit blocky to read.  So tonight, later, I will put up a post about Seder and traditions.  But for now, just enjoy knowing that Egypt was defeated and the Hebrews were freed and that Charlton Heston is Moses.

back later!

Liner Notes

A thought.

 

I have recently purchased a few albums through amazon in mp3 format.  Now this is not unusual for me to do and i enjoy having the music in that format.  However, a while back my mother asked about whether or not I missed the Liner notes.  Nah, I thought, not really.

 

But with these recent purchases (a cd of Maori songs by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Amore’ cd) I am coming to change that perception.

 

These songs, as one might imagine, are not in English.  One is in Maori, the other predominantly Italian.  I enjoy them both very much and have been listening to them rather incessantly while working around the house.  Here’s my problem.

 

I would like to know what was being said.  Oh the Italian is not as important, just apply what little French and Spanish that I know and go from there, assume he’s talking about being in love and all things are explained.  But the Maori… It fascinates me, and I would love to be able to sit here, listen to the words as they are being sung, compare them to the text and if I were lucky, a translation.  how better to begin to come to understand a language than through their music?

 

So, somebody out there with the ear of the record companies, or amazon, or somebody who is looking to make money, should begin to offer a service.  Liner notes, lets say for an extra dollar or even only 50 cents to the cost of the mp3 album, you can get a pdf file with the liner notes for that album.

 

it’s environmentally friendly, as you don’t have to print the notes for the CDs and people won’t throw the physical ones out.  It’s economical. as people, who are music buffs enough to want the liner notes to begin with will also pay the extra money for them.  It’s culturally helpful, as having access to those types of translations will make life easier for those who want to learn.

 

there, now somebody can feel free to steal this idea from me and go make yourself a millionaire.  have fun.

100

Oh man, would you look at that.  I made it to post #100.

Not too bad, all things considered.

I had all sorts of ideas for this post.  To talk about some of the vocabulary differences that I’ve picked up while down here.  To discuss the ongoing difficulties of being an immigrant.  Maybe even to talk about the amazing roast chicken that I made last night.

But I think, for such a momentous post, a marker in fame one might say, that it could be a good time to get to know more about my head, and what goes on in it.

Now, granted, I have no real hopes that this will go anywhere fascinating, no real dreams that anybody really cares, but at the same time, this blog is more for me to be me than for any other purpose.

I love food. I Love writing. I love my boyfriend. I love life.

It took me a long time to get to that last point.  I’ve always loved food.  and I’ve always loved to write.  And whatever boyfriend I’ve had at any given stage in my life I have always loved him.  But it took me a long time to get to the point of loving life.

What’s so different now than before?  Why now at the glorious age of 29 do I suddenly realize that I love being alive?

Because i’m finally happy.  With myself, my family, my friends, and my life.  I’m happy.  Could my life be better?  Yes.  I could win the Lotto and have millions of dollars and not want for anything.  Could my life be worse? Yes.  And it has been.  But neither of those lives are what I have right now.  And I’m happy right now.

Yes, I want to get a job.  yes, I want to contribute to this household more than cooking food and doing laundry.  Yes, I want my own money to spend and save my own ways.  So yes, life could be, in specific, better and I could be happier.

But, in general.  I have a man who loves me, supports me (not just financially but also emotionally), and finds me fun to be with.  I have a family that also loves and supports me, even from far away.  I have friends that think I’m crazy, but they are loving my life along with me.

I am happy.

It’s taken a while, a long while, to be happy.  Growing up, I was always the fat kid,the jewish kid, the odd one out. Even in high school and university, I was one of the strange ones, slightly outside what I should have been.  Don’t get me wrong, going to Rutgers and working at the theatre there was one of the best experiences of my life and I miss my guys and the life that we had.  But that was for a younger time and a younger me.  A much younger me.

I can’t quite put it into words, although I sure am struggling to find a way to do so.  What makes this so different from then.  I was happy then.  I was also much younger and not that much smarter.  So why now?

It could be because of the period after Rutgers and before now.  Where I was in a good spot but it got messed up.  Where the happiness turned to dust and so did everything else I had.

I’ve tasted poverty.  I’ve tasted that metallic tang in your mouth that happens when you’re afraid to answer the phone.  I’ve had the heart failures and the catch of breath every time you see a police officer, positive that this time, they’re going to arrest you for bounced checks and back bills.  I’ve known what its like to go begging for help, any help, just a little bit of help is all that I need, and to be turned down.  I’ve been in the position where the best thing to look forward to was that extra gallon of milk from a friend’s WIC,because it meant that I would be getting some form of protein.

I’ve been to the bottom of the barrel, staring at the $300 paycheck in my hand, the $800 bills, and the $400 negative in my bank account.  I’ve been there.  I’ve been to the point where at times just giving up on it all seemed like the only option left.

But I didn’t.

I think that’s why this Happy is so Happy.  Because I have lived past and through so much more.  I know that a job will happen.  I know that everything will be ok.  And I know that even if it’s not ok, I can survive it.  I’ve done it before.  I can do it again.

Not exactly what I had intended to type up today, but for me that’s the beauty of this blog.  I can be myself and type my heart and my mind and maybe somebody somewhere will read what I’ve written.  And maybe somebody somewhere will be helped by what I have said.

I had a thought last night, while wandering the flat in that drunken ‘i should be long since asleep’ state that happens at times.  And there was this title of something rolling around in my head.  “Growing up Me”.  Now, I have no idea what it is, what it will be, or anything like that.  But something in my head wants me to write this.

and i think, with a new perspective on what I know about me and who I am, I think now would be a good time to do so.

So for those of you who have been with me through all 100 posts so far, thank you.  For those of you who are just joining in,  this may not be what you’ve come to expect from a blog on the internet, but thank you for stopping by anyways.

Onto the future, and to Growing up Me.  Whatever that means.

Something About Writing

I dunno, but I had this weird dream the other night. Well, same dream, sort of. There was a modern version (starring Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver) and then towards the end of the dream it started over again.

It involved a man and a woman, their children, and some sort of kidnapping something.

Then, last night, when I went to sleep, the beginning of the 2nd part of the dream started over again.

A man on his horse, a trail of people walking behind/beside him, the snow whipping around them fiercely as they moved onto somewhere not there. The man wore a mask, or a helm, or something in between the two, the head of a white stag, with a wide rack.

the ‘camera’ shifted to a woman on the ground beside a longhouse, strong and wooden. she wore clothing to fight the cold, but she didn’t move to join the others, who for some reason were evacuating the village.

The woman called out to the man, calling him Ivan, and she held out a basket to him, begging for him to take the basket with him. He refused, telling her that this was her duty and her charge. He then pulled a ‘child of the coal’ out from the line of people and pushed her towards the kneeling woman.

“the child is your duty, Evelyn. Moriah will help you tend to her needs. Do your duty, there is nothing more I can do to save you.”

and then man in mask turned his gaze forward, leaving Evelyn and Moriah huddled in the snow, protecting the basket which it was slowly revealed, held a baby girl.

****

that’s really all that I remember. I know that the baby’s name is samantha. I know that somehow she’s important, but I don’t know why or what about. But I know that I’m going to have to sit down and write this story out.

I love when my dreams talk to me.

Natural Disasters

Now, I’m afraid of a lot of things. Heights. Docks. Boats to some extent, but mostly docks. Spiders as is only rational.

I’ve lived through hurricanes and blizzards. I even went through (kinda) a tornado or two once. But I’ve never been through an earthquake.

Christchurch, New Zealand has since last september endured over 4500 earthquakes, tremors, aftershocks. September 4th was the big one, 7.1. Damage everywhere, it was bad.

since then, there have been few days where the ground in and around Christchurch hasn’t trembled, rumbled, shifted and moved.

And then today, there was another big one. A 6.3 magnitude, just along the outskirts of the city, and it was shallow. And shallow earthquakes are not good.

There have been reports of death, fires, liquefaction, flooding, and everything else that you can think of in an earthquake.

The airport is closed right now.

E and I are supposed to be going down to Christchurch this weekend, to meet a few friends of his, and let them meet me. I’m almost sure we’ll probably still go.

But.

I’ve never been in an earthquake. and lord knows this is selfish of me to think this, especially when the city down there is in so much need of help.

But at the moment, I’ve never been in an earthquake. I’m not so sure that I want to.

I’m a little scared.

Piha Beach and Kitekite Trail

So my weekend started out early on Saturday morning, waking up at a seemingly obscene hour to find the map towards where we were going.  Piha Beach.

 

Piha Beach is a black sand beach on the West Coast of New Zealand.  We’ll get to the black sand bit a little later.  But first on our agenda, past getting there, was to go on a nature walk along Kitekite Trail in the Waitakere ranges national park.

 

Now, I will pause here for a moment, I said Nature Walk.  It was more like a Hike.  But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

The ride from Auckland out to the West Coast was beautiful.  Tall hills and mountains, deep valleys, lush with trees everywhere.  We drove along the winding roads through vineyards and sheep farms, winding our way up the mountains and in and around and down.  The views were breathtaking and startling.  So much so, that I got very few pictures.

 

I was too busy clutching the map and the handle on the car door for dear life.  E is not a dangerous or aggressive driver by any stretch of the imagination.  However, those roads are just killer.  hairpin turns at 40km/h are not conducive to taking pictures.

 

But we finally got to the top of one of the hills, and we were rewarded with a small overlook spot, and a view of beautiful Piha Beach and the imposing Lion Rock

Impressive, isn’t it?

 

But that was our destination for later in the day.  First, Kitekite trail. So we hopped back into the car, munched on a bit more of our delicious breakfast (pizza sticks from Shakespeare’s Bakery in Milford) and drove down to Glenesk road and the start of Kitekite trail.

 

Now, I picked this trail because of the description on the Piha site.  that it was a walking trail, fairly easy, and there were waterfalls at the end.  They said it was a good walk for just about anybody to do.

 

Hah.

 

Granted, I know that I’m not in good shape.  But I foolishly thought that having been doing 1km or more walks every day with hills would help.  Man, I was still so very out of shape.  But again, getting ahead of myself.

 

The trail itself is gorgeous.  It runs along a babbling brook of a stream (that comes from the waterfall surprise surprise!) and the water is so very clear.

And it’s like that the whole way through.  With little rapids and tiny falls all along the trail.  And honestly some of the coolest looking trees I have ever seen.

 

But, in the end, we were climbing up. up and up and up. every up.  occasionally there would be a flat section, someplace wide enough for me to have a small breakdown, let the people on the trail behind us go past.  I was going through so many moments of self doubt and loathing.  But E was always right there, offering support, love, and his shoulder to cry on.  He sheltered me from the other hikers, so they couldn’t see the fat girl having an emotional breakdown in the middle of a trail.

 

But he would not let me go back.  He would not let me quit.  And I am so glad that he didn’t.  Because we made it to the top of the trail, and to the waterfalls.

It really was rather breathtaking.  And I’m not just saying that because I am fat and out of shape and couldn’t breathe.  The sight of the waterfalls, the blue sky above, and everything in between was completely worth it.

 

of course, we still had to go back down.  And so the long trek down began.  This essentially involved heading down the opposite side of the gorge on formed steps.  now, these steps were formed from wooden frames with it seemed like hardened clay, dirt, and rock in the form.  There were no handrails and I was suddenly very easily reminded of not only my fragile fleshiness, but of my near paralyzing fear of heights.  But downhill we went, my legs shaking and shivering the entire way.  Stopping occasionally when I got so afraid that I just couldn’t go on.

 

but, we made it down.  And across the rocks that held us up on one side, with the help of E, who took off his shoes and socks, waded into the water and held my hands and hips until I got across the rocks.

From there, it was an easy walk back to the cars and off to the beach.

 

Now, lets have a nice talk about the beach.

 

It’s gorgeous.  It’s stunning, it’s absolutely amazing.  And it’s black sand.  Sounds cool right?

 

Wrong.

 

Well, it is rather awesome, but cool? No.  Somewhere along the lines there was a strong disconnect between my head and the words ‘black’ and ‘sand’.  For some reason, I didn’t think too much about how the color black absorbs heat, and how regular sand gets hot in the afternoon sun, so obviously black sand would get hot too.

 

Bad disconnect to make.

 

Let’s talk about searing pain.  the kind that makes tears spring to your eyes and sends you running for the closest thing that is not the black sand.  In e’s case, he made it to grass.  In my case, I darted for the asphalt.

 

The asphalt was cooler on my feet than the sand.  I’m going to let that sink in for a bit. Got it.  Excellent.

 

In other words, do not walk on the black sand unless you are prepared to run and or have shoes on.  At least, not on the dry black sand.  Once we got down to the wet sand, things were fine.  It was a beautiful day, and we both remembered our sun screen, so no surprise sunburn this time.  We didn’t spend much time at the beach, but the time that we did spend only made me want to come back.

One of the really impressive sites along the water was Lion Rock.  This is a large rock that just sticks up in the middle of everything.  If you look closely at the rock, you can tell that it’s volcanic in formation and it is really fascinating.

 

On the side of Lion Rock there are 2 plaques dedicated to the memories of the waitakere community who died in both WWI and WWII.

After a long day of walking and hiking and facing fears and beating them down for at least the moment, it was time to head home.

 

We stopped off at a place about halfway back down called ‘Elevations’.  The food was so so, but the view was worth it.  From their outdoor porch you could see everything, from where we were hiking all the way across the island to Auckland Harbor.  If you looked out closely, you could make out the Harbor Bridge and the Sky Tower.  Quite the perspective adapter, realizing that I was literally looking out over the island.

 

And that, my friends, is my adventure to Piha Beach and Kitekite trail.

 

Stay tuned, there may or may not be a more in depth post about the frailty of my human body and the fears that leap within my mind, and the brave knight who is finding ways to combat those evils and bring me into this world of happiness.

 

There may also be a post about Bubble Tea later.  Ah, the mysteries and the wonder that are Bubble Tea.  I may never figure them out.

Intermezzo

We went to Piha beach today.

And there are so many potential posts that have come out of that trip that I can’t possibly do them all at the moment.

Stories of Piha, pictures.
Epic tales and wandering details of love for E.
Discussion of Pearl Milk Tea (or Bubble Tea).

So many things to do!

So tired.

Peter, Paul, Mary

 

Tomorrow is the big day.

 

Get up at 8am, get a fast shower, a faster breakfast, and drag my brother out of his room by his hair, stuff everything into the car, and then settle in for the 2 hour drive to the airport.

 

Get to the airport by 11am, hopefully, say goodbye to the parents and the brother, and then go through security.  My plane leaves Baltimore at 1pm (all times will be listed as Local/Eastern).  I land in Phoenix at 4pm/6pm. I leave there at around 5pm/7pm and get into LA at 6pm/8pm.  and then I wait around LA until my plane on Air New Zealand leaves at 10pm/1am.  And then it’s out across the wild blue water until landing in Auckland at 8am Friday/2pm Thursday.

 

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek

caterpillar

There is quite possibly a large colony of caterpillars that have been resting in my stomach in their cocoons that have suddenly decided it was time to become real.

Chrysalis is a bitch.

All those times I said I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t lying. I’m not scared.

But I sure as holy hell am nervous. And possibly just a little excited.

It’s hard to type this with the hands shaking back and forth and my crying.

I am not freaking out……

Surreal

ohman, this is just way weird for me. Just trying to figure out, to wrap my head around, the fact that next week at this time, I’ll be in kiwiland, making dinner for E for Valentines day.

this just seems so surreal. I am so happy, and so slightly confused and gods I dont even know.

This can only be a good sign.