Taking Barkley for a walk at 10pm and not a human to be found a block in any direction. We pass two cats on their own adventures. Next week the moving trucks will roll in, and on Tuesday's walk I'll have my pick of no worse for the wear furniture. For now they wait at their summer hideaways, and the the ones who stay (who are older and more cautious) stay inside for fear perhaps of the fresh graffiti in front of my house that says:
Vandal Sqa Squad
But with Barkley watching my back I fear no vandal squa squad, so when I should have turned right I turned left. A block further and a group of grad students gathered outside a cafe that had just shut it's doors, taking advantage of the last weeks of warm nights. I turned back at that point, exhausted from a day of meetings and lesson plans and scanning and course websites and trying to squeeze in some last minute dissertating before the real work begins.
On the way home I found a fallen leaf, perfectly yellow. The first of the season.
I thought I was all clever a few months back when I created a new gmail account (Abanadoningeden @ gmail) and set it up to forward to my regular account. But I didn't realize until today that I actually DIDN'T set it up to send it to my regular account, which is why I haven't gotten any of your emails. And there were quite a few. Sorry bout that. I'm trying to respond to some now, although I'm going to skip ones that were sent pre-wedding that were all "good luck on your upcoming wedding!" And the one that was all "I'm a closet OTDer cheating on my wife with a non Jewish lady what should I do??" Yeah, not touching that one...
Speaking of which, it's our 3 month wedding anniversary today! Yay for quarter year anniversaries! (or something? whatever, it counts!).
Also, over the weekend I got in contact with my youngest brother E (the one who said B was going to die within a year...and it's already been like 8 months since he said that!) to say hi and what's up and update him on my honeymoon trip. He responded by catching me up on his life and then went on about something in the book of Ezekiel and how it talked about a city (Tyre) falling into the sea. Which it didn't actually do (the city is still around even), but which I apparently reminded him of when I told him about visiting Santorini and how people think it may be Atlantis- which apparently reminded him of this story in Ezekiel which he thinks might have been influenced by the myth of Atlantis.
It annoys the crap out of me when religious people try to bring the bible/Torah into EVERY conversation, but I didn't say that. Instead I sent him a link about Tyre the city, and maybe it'll encourage him to start looking up historical data to confirm biblical tall tales, and maybe he'll start thinking about which parts of the tanach might be myth. But meanwhile I'm not going to argue with him about Judaism anymore, which was the subject of a lot of our past emails.
In one respect orthodox people may have it right. I've read some advice they give to people with relatives 'off the derech' and one of the things I've read is how it's better to keep someone close to you and not discuss religion, instead of pushing them away with arguments about religion.
This is now my strategy with my super religious brother. I think it'll be better to keep in touch with him, and be nice to him, and not discuss religion, so if he ever comes to his senses I'll be someone he can come to for help. After all, he's only 21...plenty of time for him to change. And even if he never does, what good would it do to alienate my brother just because of his extreme and crazy religious beliefs (that I used to buy into)? Although I'm still going to call him out on the religious passive aggressiveness (like sending me "good shabbas" text messages every Friday...thankfully he hasn't done that in a while, since I sent him one back that said "I don't celebrate shabbas but happy weekend!").
But yeah, i feel better about that whole situation now that we are in touch again...as an older sister I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure we have a relationship, and even though the reason we hadn't talked in a while was cause he was being a total dick to me about B, I think it's just better this way. I mean, maybe he was being a total dick to me about B in part becuase I was being a total dick about him being more religious? Maybe it's just a mutual general hostile dickishness that needs to change between us.
My new motto is "you can't change other people, you can only change yourself" and part of that is changing the way I react to my family. Like for one, not trying to convince my brother that he's a fool for becoming more religious and giving up on his dreams/hobbies to learn all day in a yeshiva...even if i think it's true.
My parents on the other hand, well I haven't talked to them since before the wedding, and I kinda like it that way. I may get in touch with my dad at some point, but I gotta say...not having my mom in my life has done wonders for my self esteem.
I dream of gardens. Yellow crimson watermelon, zucchini, asparagus bushes, red onions, red bell peppers, heirloom carrots, edamame, artichokes, sugar snap peas....these are all things I'm planting in my future garden.
Today I added on that yellow crimson watermelon to my future garden after trying one from the farmer's market. I love the farmer's market, there's always some unusual fruit or vegetable in season, that turns out delicious. A few weeks ago they had the most perfect cherries I've ever tasted; today along with farm fresh bacon and ground beef, we got some purple bell peppers, a zucchini, an assortment of potatoes (purple, red and white), an assortment of baby onions (shallots, baby white, baby red) and a yellow crimson watermelon.
I live in an apartment. Well technically actually I live on the first floor of a victorian row house that's been converted to apartments. I even have a front yard that I am free to use. My entrepreneurial neighbor (who has been unable to find a job since moving here so her husband can go to grad school) has cleared her half of the front yard and planted a vegetable garden. I'm jealous. But not jealous enough to put that amount of effort into a yard at a place I rent, a place I will move out of exactly one year from today when my lease is up.
Instead I watch her plants grow while I grow herbs in pots I put out front. This year I have italian basil and this mini basil plant, sage, a rosemary bush and italian parsley. This morning I chopped up some rosemary I had been drying for a few weeks and picked some sage to dry for burning at a festival next week. It smells nice and sagey when you do that.
Meanwhile I dream of the day I own my own home, where I can claim and fence off part of the backyard so rabbits and Barkley can't get in, and I will grow my vegetable garden. The first year I'll be sure to plant the asparagus bushes since those take 3 years until you can harvest them. Maybe I'll start off with things that don't need trellises to grow, since for all my dreaming of gardens I have little experience growing things that arn't herbs, so I'd like to start smaller. Maybe I'll start with zucchini and onions. Also I want to have some herbs that don't grow well in pots, like cilantro. Of course rosemary and basil since those are essential ingredients in my kitchen. Maybe oregano.
Also, I want sunflowers. And a willow tree. With a little bench under it. One that I plant when it's little and that grows up with my future dream kids.
When I first started going 'off the derech' as they call it, or 'stopped practicing Judaism' as I call it, I was terrified that other people would find out. It was a secret part of me that I could not share with anyone. Eventually I shared it with a very select group of people, but for years at the beginning, after I had started eating at non kosher restaurants (vegetarian at first, then fish, then meat years and years later), and after I had stopped keeping shabbas, it was something only I knew about. From age 15 to age 17 I was completely in the closet about it. In college i would leave my parents house in a skirt and change into jeans at the train station- the one pair of jeans I owned, that I would wash secretly when I knew my mom was going to be running errands all day. By the time I got home I was in a skirt again.
As I got older and became more integrated into the non-jewish world, my situation reversed- now the weird thing to share with only close friends was that I had grown up orthodox jewish. It took a long time to get to here though.
Coming out to my parents as an atheist was still one of the hardest things I've gone through to date. Equally hard was telling them that I was dating someone not jewish, that we lived together, that we had gotten engaged. I guess I never told them I was married, since they had stopped talking to me by then. I anticipate more hard times in the future, when I get pregnant and will probably feel obligated to tell them, if I have a boy and won't have a bris, etc.
If it wasn't for social networking groups like facebook I probably could have gone off to live my life, and never talked to anyone I grew up with again. But facebook does exist, as does a facebook group for my old shul that no less than 5 people have invited me to join, and the people I grew up with and went to school with are all on there, sending me their friend requests. And why deny their requests? We do know each other. We grew up together. So what if we have different religious views in adulthood? My religious views are just as valid as theirs are...in fact, I personally believe mine are more valid and that their beliefs don't hold up to any scrutiny, although I would never say that to them since they didn't ask me, so it's just rude. But I also don't think I should be forced to stay in the closet with my beliefs, and that as a member of a group that is looked down upon (off the derech people) I have a moral obligation to come out to as many people as possible so that we can not be marginalized and forgotten about the way the still-religious people would like us to be.
It's one thing to say that though, and another thing to tell people who you know will disprove and look down on you that you are an atheist, and that you have married someone not jewish. Even if you know they are wrong, and that anyone who is a judgmental asshole is..well, a judgmental asshole, it's tough to face the constant rejection, and to constantly put something out there that you know will make people think less of you.
But I feel as if I'm getting better at it, and telling people about myself no longer carries the anxiety it used to. Today I got an email from S, someone I grew up with, who is now a rabbi (what? You can be a rabbi at my age?) and who presumably got my email address from my facebook page (since we are facebook friends) and added me to his "jewish newsletter" listserve. You know, those little newsletters some rabbis send out with a weekly dvar torah (mini sermon about the weekly torah reading) and some heartwarming story or something. I didn't read it thoroughly, I admit.
But I did write back- "Hey S. Nice to hear from you. However, I am an atheist and I no longer practice judaism, so I don't have any interest in receiving dvar torahs. Please remove my email from your list."