Monthly Archives: August 2005

hippie parents

.flickr-photo { border: solid 1px #000000; }.flickr-frame { float: left; text-align: center; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

hippie parents
hippie parents,
originally uploaded by Marusula.

A while back, I wrote a post about how my parents were briefly models, once a long time ago in the land called “the 70’s.” Well, a fun new toy has recently come into my life (an HP 5510 printer/scanner/fax/copier) and all of the sudden I have the ability to get some of these mothballed photos out of the box in the closet and onto the internet. So here it is, for all to see, my parents looking nothing like themselves as I know them, and everything like romantic hippie couple they once were.

Unitarian Jihad

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

This morning, an email went out over the Unitarian Young Adult listserv that I moderate, announcing that the phrase Unitarian Jihad had made it into Wikipedia. Is it wrong that I’d like this to be a real movement? As a lifelong Unitarian (and by birth a Jew) I’ve never been a member of the religious mainstream and I like it that way. But I do identify with the words faith, love and even god (shocking for a Unitarian, I know), and I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with the manner in which they’ve been co-opted by people with a particularly hateful and militant perspective. Long live the Unitarian Jihad.

Click here to read the entire Jon Carroll article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday, April 8, 2005.

raina sleeping

.flickr-photo { border: solid 1px #000000; }.flickr-frame { float: left; text-align: center; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

raina sleeping
raina sleeping,
originally uploaded by Marusula.

I love my sister. A lot. But there have been times when we haven’t gotten along well. For the first 15 years of her life, she was a little hard to live with (I left for college around then, and haven’t lived full time with her since. 3,000 miles distance has improved our relationship immeasurably). She had such a demanding and forceful personality that she tended to suck up all the energy and attention in any space she inhabited. Most of the time, she would be such a ball of will and power that it was hard to approach her during waking hours, let alone give her a hug or kiss.

But when she slept, she went through a personality transformation. She shifted from wild to quiet, and the space when she was unconscious was when I was able to express my big sister love for her. I would crawl into her bed with her a few moments each night, while my mom stood by, and cover her face with kisses. Her hot, sweaty two or three year old body temporarily stalled, I could finally get as close as I wanted.

For years, Raina was completely unaware of this nightly tradition of mine. I told her a couple of years ago, and she was pretty surprised. But then she gave me a great big old hug and kiss. It’s nice, I don’t have to wait for her to be sleeping to get my sister love these days.

Morning elevator ride

I got onto the elevator this morning, plugged into the pod and running about ten minutes late. I’ve mentioned in the past that I live in a building that is about 75% retirees. Well, there are certain behavioral norms that I take for granted in the world outside my building that just don’t apply within its walls. Outside my building, people know not to talk to you when they see white strings hanging from your ears. But in the elevator this morning, no one seemed to know that rule. I stepped on, gave a polite smile and nod and then broke eye contact and leaned against the wall, trying to let my sister’s twangy guitar sounds mellow my morning grumpiness a little before I had to interact with anyone. Except that the elderly couple on the elevator were both looking at me with expectant expressions.

I popped the plugs from my ears and said, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Is that one of those iPod things?” the man asked. I replied that it was, and he proceeded to grump that they were worthless, because you couldn’t record on them. Trying to be polite as possible, keeping in mind that I hadn’t consumed nearly enough caffeine to be engaging in any social interaction, I told him that while you couldn’t record directly on them, that with the help of a computer you could indeed record and then download it onto the player. He said he would keep that in mind.

The woman jumped in with, “Are you going to school? Do you live here?” Before I had a chance to respond, she kept on truckin’ with, “How nice to see young people in the building!”

Now, I have some variant on this exchange at least once a week. I’ve lived in the building for more than three years, but regularly, I’m asked if I live there, how I got into the building, and whether I like it. There are a couple people who have asked me if I live there at least three times in the course of my tenure.

I’m tired of having this conversation.

I told them that I did, indeed, live in the building and that I had (shockingly) lived there for more than three years. That I wasn’t on my way to school, but that I actually had a job (okay, I wasn’t quite that sarcastic).

They then got off the elevator at the gym, I got off at the lobby and headed for the trolley, feeling a little annoyed. The frustration continued as I walked up Market St. to my office, but then rapidly dissipated. I looked down, and there were two dollar bills, right at my feet. I love found money.

Lazy, lovely day

I woke up this morning with a contented, pressure-free feeling. Gentle light streamed through the slats of my mini-blinds, and the fan was on, pulling in air that smelled more like fall than summer into the room. My bed, appealingly comfy on the best days, seemed to have gotten even more plush overnight. I rolled over and flipped on the radio to see what Leanne Hanson on Morning Edition Sunday was up to. I lay there, half listening and half drifting for another half hour until the demanding duo, bladder and caffeine craving, insisted I get up.

With those two needs taken care of, I puttered. I read. I ate a sliced hardboiled egg on toasted rosemary bread, spread with a tiny bit of Hellman’s mayo (it might sound like a strange combination, but it’s basically egg salad without all the effort, it was a staple post Easter/Passover breakfast when I was growing up). I enjoyed my last weekend of roommate free apartment, wandering around until 2 pm in my pajamas.

What was especially nice about the day was that I could really let myself relax. That little voice in my head that chides me when I’m not being productive or using my time effectly seems to have gone on vacation (if I’m lucky, she may be on permanent sabbatical). Okay, I did do a couple of productive things, including some laundry and washing the kitchen floor, but I promise, I did them with a feeling of pleasure, no internal nagging occurred.

There was a nap, on my favorite brown couch, that took place from 3:15 until 4:22 pm, that so completely redeemed the nap I took last Sunday, that if asked, I would be forced to deny that I’d ever had such a thing as a bad nap.

The last, great moment of the day was as I walking to my car, leaving the house of two friends. I had stopped on a whim, just because I had been in the neighborhood. The door was open, and I just walked in. They told me I was a member of the household, who just didn’t happen to sleep there most nights. We went down to the Custard Shack on Ridge and I had a peach milkshake for dinner. An hour and a half later, I left and had one of those moments, where I knew my life was pretty darn good, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and that all good things were possible.

Philly bloggers meet up

This afternoon, after the rainstorm had exhausted itself a little, I headed over to the Nodding Head for the August Philly Bloggers Meet Up. This was my first meet up, and I was a little excited and apprehensive as I walked in. It’s a little surreal to go and meet a bunch of people who’s work and writing I follow and admire. Once I got there, I was able to shed the nerves and have a good time. I met a bunch of people and talked topics ranging from how to make money blogging to Stargate SG-1 (a perennial personal favorite). Scoot on over to if you want the low-down on who-all was there.

The coolest moment of the afternoon (at least for me) was when the guy who writes Pax Romano (check out the blogroll to the right, he’s on there) came over to me and said he loved my blog. It made my day, week, month and, quite possibly, year, to hear that. Thank you so much for reading and telling me you liked it. I felt like a rock star for a brief moment, and it was awesome.

Love tattoo

.flickr-photo { border: solid 1px #000000; }.flickr-frame { float: left; text-align: center; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

Love tattoo
Love tattoo,
originally uploaded by Marusula.

Last weekend, I celebrated the first birthday of my one and only tattoo. I wanted a tattoo for 8 years before I actualy got this one. There were a number of things that held me back, but the biggest were the fact that I had never liked my body enough to want to decorate it and also had never found anything that I wanted to keep around for the duration of my time in this form.

But last summer, things shifted. My first big relationship ended after almost two years, and I saw the move, “What the Bleep Do We Know.” In that movie, there is a section that discusses the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto. He did research with water and was able to show that water was influenced by words, thoughs and environments in both positive and negative ways. (Go check out the website to see it for yourself, Water was labeled with the word “LOVE” and frozen under a microscope, creating heart-stoppingly lovely ice crystals. Water from the same source, when labeled with the word “WATER,” did not produce the same crystals.

This study struck a chord with me, and so I went out soon after, and labeled my own body (a water vessel in it’s own right) with the word Love, so as to influence my water molecules to be beautiful.

I continue to be pleased with the tattoo, but I’ve recently realized that I’m going after this whole happiness and fulfillment thing the wrong way and the original intent behind the tattoo was part of the problem. I keep expecting something external to come along and save me, fix me, change me. I thought my unhappiness was rooted in my last job, so I took steps to change the job, and was stunned to find that traces of the old melancholy came right with me to the new workplace. I’ve been on this kick recently where I want the world to look at me think that I’m extraordinary. But how is anyone going to think I’m extraordinary when I’m not thinking about myself? And what’s more, why does my own sense of okayness hinge on how the world sees me? I’ve wasted many an hour weeping, screaming out to the universe, asking for someone, something to come along and save me, but this time, it can’t be external, it has to come from inside of me. And that scares the shit out of me, because it’s really hard.

I got the Love tattoo, because I thought that I could change myself from the outside and now I know that just doesn’t work. So, for year number two of the tattoo’s existence, it’s purpose is changing. I’m using it as a reminder to look in as opposed to out.

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Book Club Potluck…only there's no book

For the last couple of years, I’ve been wanting to write a book about potlucks. I think that most people in this country can be divided into two groups, potluck people and dinner party people. I am most definitely a potluck person (I also believe that the potluck people further sub-divide; hippie, church, all the different regional styles of potlucking, funerals, weddings [although my parents might be the only ones who did this one], college, park… you get the idea).

The idea for this book first came to me three years ago, at the first annual summer book club potluck. The members of this book club were the first real friends I made when I moved to Philly and that evening in August in 2002 was the first time I knew I was going to make it in this city. We read Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed for that night, drank tequila shots in honor of the main character, Cannie, and ate and giggled ourselves silly.

Tonight is the fourth annual book club summer potluck, except that’s there no book club anymore and no book to discuss. The only thing that remains is a collection of women (the collection has grown and shifted a bit over the years) who get together once a year on a hot night in late August to eat dinner around my grandmother’s table, discuss their lives, their loves, their passions and their futures. Since that first dinner, some of us have gotten married, had babies, found love and lost it, changed jobs, moved cities and states, altered hair color and discovered new paths. In the face of all these changes, one thing has remained constant, and that is the joy we find in coming together to share food, thoughts and laughter.

Tonight will be one of the good nights in life.


Tonight I ironed. It started simply, a skirt I bought during the thriftstore bonanza on Saturday had gotten washed and needed to be ironed before it could be worn. I set up the ancient but sturdy ironing board in the living room, and plugged in the slightly less aged Black and Decker iron. I watched the hot, steamy surface slide across the black linen. Like magic, fabric that had seconds before been puckered and creased, revealed itself to be smooth and rumple-free. I found this simple action to be so soothing that I went to the closet to search out other items that would be equally satisfying to run under the iron and transform. As I slowly and methodically pressed another skirt–turn, straighten, smooth, turn–I felt like I was being turned, straightened and smoothed by psychic iron, one that could seek out the crinkles and puckers in my heart and mind, leading me back to a neutral state.

I see more ironing in my future.

Appreciation, 20 years later

When I was six years old, my dad gave me bronze business card holder with my initials on it. He didn’t give it to me to propel me towards a career in business, but simply because it came free with an order he had placed, he already had one for himself, and thought I’d think it was fun. Of course, being someone who (at least at that age, I’ve gotten much better) ALWAYS looked a gift horse in the mouth, I found a reason to complain about this completely unexpected gift. He put the initials MKM on it. Which are, in fact, my initials. But at that time I was boycotting my given name, and I was hurt and upset that my father didn’t know this and take it into account when ordering the card holder (yes, I expected my parents to be able to read my mind in those days).

When I was a kid, I didn’t like my middle name, which is Klein (my mom’s maiden name). It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t like that name until my sister was born, and was given the middle name Rose. I wanted a pretty middle name too. I started saying that my middle name was Rose too, but my mom told me I couldn’t have it, that it was my sister’s. So I decided that my middle name was going to be May, in honor of my birth month. All this led to the temper tantrum when my dad gave me the card holder, because Klein had no place in my name in my warped little mind in those days.

About the time I was wrapping up my high school days, I started to come back around to the middle name Klein. I realized how much more character it had than May, and I liked the fact that it identified me as someone who had at least a little Jewish lineage (being blonde, blue eyed and raised in a Unitarian church, I didn’t have much else identifying me as a Jew). These days it is my middle name, and one I am proud to carry.

Last Wednesday, I was going through a box, in an attempt to get my apartment in order, and I found the business card holder I had so crazily rejected 20 years ago. Only these days, the initials are right. Yesterday, I received a box in the mail at work, which contained 250 business cards, the first I’ve ever received with my own name on them. Last night, I joined the cards and the case, and said a little silent prayer of thanks and appreciation for my dad, who all those years ago had tried to do something nice* for me.

*He continues to do nice things for me, there was a little package in my mailbox yesterday with three cds from the daddy-o.