Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Talked with dad last night

After sending my dad a text message, he called me. We talked for a while about how his dad is driving him crazy with living at his house, Barkley stuff, etc. I also told him about the letter that Mom sent me- according to him he hadn't seen it, and my mom hadn't saved a copy. He didn't believe that she would have disowned me and was all "it was just her way of reaching out to you and keep in touch!" I told him it was SO NOT that type of letter, and offered to send it along as proof. Along with the letter I sent her. Apparently she didn't show my dad the letter, but she told him I really overreacted to her letter. Anyways, I'm not sure if it was cool of me to pass that on to him, cause she might not have wanted him to see it...but on the other hand, maybe my dad can talk some sense into her? Or something?

So I don't even know. My dad wrote back to my email and was all "I don't have time to read this tonight, but I printed it out and will let you know what I think in a few days."

And my conversation with my dad was actually kinda...nice. I talked about life, including stuff about B, and he talked about his life, and we actually talked to each other like normal adults. Unlike my mother, he hasn't said anything about cutting off our relationship if I marry B, and he seems to have accepted that we actually are getting married, and that there's nothing he can do to stop it. At least I'm taking it as such, since he didn't try to convince me to not marry B. It was maybe the first conversation we've had since I told him I was dating B that wasn't about him trying to convince me not to date B.

So I don't want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again, but I think my dad actually might be coming around a little, and I predict that after we get married he will probably meet B. My mother, I don't know. Even before sending me a big dramatic letter, she refused to mention anything having to do with B in conversation.

But my parents are separate people. I can have a relationship with my dad, but not my mom, even though they are still married. And my dad seems to want to still have a relationship with me- otherwise why would he have called in response to a text message?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Milestones going by...

Today is my parent's 29th wedding anniversary. I feel weird about not calling my mom on their anniversary, which is what I have usually done in the past. But I guess I can't exactly call her to say hi after that letter she sent me, since she's made it clear she doesn't want a relationship with me. Not that I think she would hang up on me. But I don't think she wants me to call.

Meh. Meanwhile I'm stuck at work cause I am STILL working on that paper I told my prof I needed an extra week for (last week). I should probably not be blogging right now.

ETA: 7:30, still in the office but down from 10 articles an hour ago to only 3 left to incorporate into the paper! I decided to send my dad a text message saying "Happy anniversary!" cause that's how I roll. Or something.

Monday, February 23, 2009

some wedding stuff

been mostly catching up on work-related work, but yesterday managed to work a bit on the wedding- we wrote the text for the invitation, wrote up a master list of addresses for the invitation labels, and I ordered a fancy corset sleeveless bra thing to wear under my dress, and also a necklace:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Work/life balance?

Sent an email to my adviser that I'm co-authoring a paper with...I was supposed to have a lit review drafted by tomorrow but have only read about half the articles and haven't started writing at all. So I sent her an email asking if we can delay our meeting until next week, and said something like "I had some personal family issues last week (not to get into too many gory details but my mother just disowned me for marrying someone not Jewish and I spent a few days wallowing in misery and not getting work done). I've read most of the articles, but I don't think I will be able to write up a good draft before tomorrow. Can we meet next week instead?"

Anyways, I feel really crappy about myself. Like I'm using my mom as an excuse for being a terrible procrastinator, and that I'm letting this prof down, that she's going to think I suck, and I'm unprofessional. She hasn't written back yet and I'm terrified she will say something like "you use excuse after excuse, clearly you don't want to work on this paper, co-authorship OVER." And why do I let my mom affect me so much anyways, it's not like I didn't see this coming?

But it is true..I spent like 3 days last week not working (much) and just being preoccupied with what I was going to write back to my mom, and as a result I spent all weekend catching up on other work that I let slide last week, and never worked on this paper at all until yesterday. And I worked all day yesterday and today, and after 10 hours in my office today, I just couldn't do it anymore.

I haven't had a day completely off (no work at all), including weekends, in at least a month. And my work load is just getting heavier, as I have several deadlines coming up- a conference presentation in late march that I've barely started the research for, another one in late April based on this project, a book review for 2 books I haven't read yet due to journal editors april 4th, and a book and a paper a week for my feminist theory course (that I refuse to drop because the prof just offered to try and help me get a press release for my latest article, in addition to how useful all this stuff is to my research). On top of wedding planning, dealing with a new dog, and attending the other really useful class I'm auditing (at least that doesn't have a lot of reading). ARGH! I'm barely getting by, and constantly feel guilty for slacking off whenever I take a minute to myself. And now I'm not getting by, since when actual life interfered I stopped working for 5 minutes and missed a deadline.

Meanwhile, why do I feel so horrible about myself when I show my adviser how not-perfect I actually am? Since sending that email I've been downright depressed. :(

Happy 3 months to my wedding day!

Exactly 3 months from today I will be walking down the aisle gathering in a circle with all my friends and exchanging vows with B!

Holy crap, that's really really soon.

Already done:
Venue Booked
Dress and shoes and veil thing and fancy strapless bra corset thing bought
food ordered
invitations designed (by quiet girl)
photographer chosen
Rings bought
Lots of candle holders and plates collected from the thrift store
tablesclothes borrowed from mother in law
painter booked
Save the date evite sent out
figured out vague outline of what we will do during the ceremony
started making a set list for my ipod
write text of invitation
gather people's addresses
sign contract with photographer
Buy stuff to decorate the candle holders/mason jars (ribbon maybe?) and get candles!
buy tablecloth clips
get clothes and shoes for B
buy stockings
buy labels
print out direction pages, make address labels
Make invitations
visit venue and scope out location to hold the ceremony (probably in the woods)
put invites together and send them out
get dress taken in (mid-march)
get haircut
buy some kind of makeup (eyeliner/lipstick will do probably)
finish collecting plates and candle holders from the thrift store
assemble centerpieces
get wedding license

still to do
wash all the plates/candle holders
Figure out how I will feed the two guests who keeps kosher
write vows
finish ipod music setlist
Cups/Drinks/Twine/extra forks/Garbage Bags/Broom/Extra food/Desserts/ice/tapestries (Week of wedding)

These are my awesome wedding shoes btw (I just got them):

Friday, February 13, 2009

Letter sent

I had B look over my letter, and he made some very helpful suggestions which I think makes the letter a lot more focused- for instance he suggested that I don't need to address everything she says in her letter, because while I can refute her specific points forever, that doesn't get MY points across. I think he was right, so I took most of that stuff out.

Anyways, I edited my previous post to reflect the letter I ended up actually sending to her. I don't expect a response, but I feel like I've finally let her know the way I really feel about how she has treated me since I told her I was not religious anymore (nearly 10 years ago), after building up resentment for years and years but never letting her know what I was thinking. And I feel really good about that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Response to mom draft #1

I woke up at 6am this morning and lay in bed next to B, composing letters to my mother in my head.

B thinks this is a bridge burning time. He thinks this is another ploy, similar to that of my dad, my brother and my cousin over the past few weeks, to try and convince me to not marry him, but that my mom might not go through with it. He thinks that I have tried the diplomatic approach long enough, and I need to lay all my cards on the table and tell my mother what I really think, bad with the good (and it's especially bad at this point).

My friends think I shouldn't be too harsh and burn bridges, because some day my mom will come around, and even if she doesn't, being harsh will just obscure my message.

I'm still not sure what I think. What I do know is that my mother is an incredibly stubborn woman, and that I think she will stick to this, despite everyone's assurances that she will 'come around' when we have kids or after we are married and she can't change my mind anymore. I also know that if this is the last communication I have with my mother, I want it to count- I want to say to tell her all about everything I have resented her for all these years, and also all the things I remember best about her, and also all the things I think she is doing wrong in this situation. I also am afraid of coming off childish, and being dismissed as childish becuase of my anger, and therefore my message not going across.

Anyways, here are a few of the things I've been thinking about all day, that may or may not make it into whatever letter I eventually send my mother.

ETA: This is the final version of the letter that I sent to my mother earlier this afternoon, the previous draft has been deleted
Dear Mom,

We haven't had a relationship in years, so at this point telling me you aren't officially going to talk to me anymore seems to be merely reaffirming something that was already true.

The one regret I have about our relationship is that we never got to know each other as adults. I have longed for the close relationship I see my friends having with their mothers, where they are able to have frank discussions about life, they can talk as they would to a close friend, be guaranteed that their mother will be supportive of them, and are able to have these discussions without judgment.

In recent years I have attempted to make this relationship I want into a reality, by being more open about my life when talking to you. However, I have been met with nothing but disapproval whenever I have revealed anything personal about myself to you, and so our relationship has devolved to the point where we are complete strangers. The way you reacted to anything I did that went outside your notion of the way things SHOULD BE made it impossible to share anything personal with you. All you were focused on was the way YOU wanted me to act, not what was best for me, what made me happy, or what was important to me.

I see now that my desire to have a close personal honest relationship with you is similar to your desire to have a daughter who is religious. It's based on a person who doesn't exist. You can no more be close and warm to me than I could be a religious person. I'm not even sure if you are capable of being a close and warm person. I have not felt loved by you for many many years, and all I have felt was your constant disapproval. I feel your decision to cut off anyone who makes different choices than you is selfish and childish. I never agreed with the way you treated R and D when they stopped being religious, as I felt you just threw away your long relationships with them like yesterday's garbage. And now you are doing the same to me.

I appreciate you trying to understand my situation by reflecting on your own life when you get married. In one respect I do think the metaphor is apt- when you compare my situation to your situation with your parents. I know you have made some arbitrary distinction between the two situations, but to me that distinction is exactly that- arbitrary. You have never even met B, despite my numerous attempts to set up a meeting between you two, and yet judge him based only on his heritage. I have seen you become more and more like your own mother over the years, bitter and sarcastic and very judgmental of anyone the least bit different from you, and I guess now that transformation is complete, since you are treating me exactly the way she treated you. But somehow it's 'different' because I crossed over a different line drawn in the sand.

When I was a kid and hanging out with friends that you didn't like, you always told me that I should be loyal to my family because "blood is thicker than water". It seems that this sentiment only works one way. You have denied me, your own blood, your oldest child and only daughter, because I do not live life as you do. You are so intent on living your life in a tiny box with blinders on that you can't bear to have a relationship with me. You try to pin this on me by saying that I am "divorcing the family" with my decision, but this decision is entirely yours. I have no problem continuing a relationship with you, as long as you acknowledge B's existence and treat us with the respect and courtesy you would treat any other relative you don't like that much. If you can't bear to do that, that is your choice, and I respect that. But I hope you can acknowledge that it is YOUR choice to cut off this relationship.

I have wasted countless hours being angry and resentful towards you for the ways you have tried to control me and force me to live a life I don't want to live. All I feel now is pity for you, since you feel that your beliefs are incompatible with having a relationship with me. What a sad choice for you to have felt you had to make.

But I want to thank you as well. Throughout my life you and Abba have tried to force me to live my life the way you want me to live it. Throughout it all, I did what I felt was right. I now know that whatever you can throw at me, it will always be worth it to me to live my life the way I want. Even now that you have told me we can no longer have a relationship, I still don't have a single regret about my decisions. Thank you for showing that to me.

As I have done countless times before, I again extend an open invitation for you to meet up with me and B, at any time and place of your choosing. Until then,

With Love,
Abandoning Eden

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mom Speaks

Just received: (my thoughts once I have a second to have some, but 1. it's a weird coincidence that she just confirmed some things I wrote about in my post yesterday 2. I see my dad's hand all over this letter)

Dear Abandoning Eden,

I’ve been wanting to write to you since you gave us the news about your intended marriage, but I didn’t know what to write. It’s always been hard for me to express myself on paper, so you will forgive me if this e-mail rambles a bit. I can only write how I view things, so please don’t take this note as a way of criticizing you. It’s not meant as that, just as a way for me to tell you what is in my heart.

Since A abruptly broke your engagement, I feel that you have been looking around for a way to replace some company in your life. You hear of your peers pairing off and that leaves you as odd person out. I know this feeling well as I was almost the last girl in my peer group to find someone and get married. You may have thought that I didn’t mind being alone but there were times I was very lonely. It’s very hard to be dating and no one seems to be the one for you. Plus there was the pressure from my parents to get married already. I finally told my father that if it was as easy as going to the supermarket and picking a can off the shelf marked "husband", I would have been married already. After I said that, my parents didn’t pressure me as much, but I knew they were still anxious for me to settle down already. Even when I told them that I had chosen your Abba, when they heard his parents were not observant, they were very upset. At one point Abba and I almost broke our engagement because our two sets of parents couldn’t get along. Abba’s parents even threatened not to come to our wedding because I think they didn’t like the fact that my parents weren’t Holocaust survivors. They had a hard time socializing with anyone who wasn’t "people like us. In the end, they wouldn’t let us invite any of their friends because they were embarrassed that there wouldn’t be mixed dancing. All this sounds ridiculous now, but this was among people who were all Jewish. In the end, we were able to reconcile everything, and even though I had a hard time feeling close to Abba’s parents (because even though I forgive, I cannot forget) they came to see me as someone who was their son was very lucky to marry. On February 24th we will be celebrating our 29th anniversary, so I guess the marriage took.

I see your situation as very different. Had you chosen to marry a non-observant Jew, I would have reconciled myself to that. (I wouldn’t have been thrilled but I could have lived with it.) With your choice, you have chosen to basically divorce yourself from the rest of your family. I understand that you feel that B is the one for you. What I see, is a man who has made no attempt to contact your family and to understand what this union really means. In time you may come to resent him. If you have children, they will be totally estranged from the rest of your relatives, and I hope you choose to tell the truth about why they don’t know your side of the family, without prejudice.

I have not told anyone of your plans, and am leaving it to you to call your grandparents, aunts. uncles and cousins and telling them yourself. If you are so happy with your choice, I figure that you would want to spread the news yourself. It breaks my heart that I am not able to celebrate your upcoming marriage and that, if you choose to go through with it, it basically means the end of our relationship. I once told you that every action has consequences, some good and some not. It’s not a punishment on my part that I am not having anything to do with you or your choice, it’s that I cannot be true to my own beliefs and accept what you are doing. If you expect me to respect your choice then you will have to respect mine.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thoughts on my parent's religous history.

I noticed while going to post this that my last post was my 200th post on this blog. So yay 200 postaversary!

I've been thinking about my parents a bit lately, and about their religious situations growing up, and their lives now.

My dad grew up the children of holocaust survivors. His parents were Gerer Hassidic when they lived in Poland before the war. After the war, my grandparents level of religiosity went down considerably, to something I can't even label. Maybe "traditional?" They drive to a mixed seating conservative Shul on Shabbat (rather 'drove', my grandmother is dead and my grandfather is senile and living with my parents now), kept traditional kosher (didn't look at hechsher's, but also didn't eat pork products or shellfish) and celebrated holidays in a subdued way (my dad said they never let him put up a sukkah as a child becuase they were afraid people would come after them for being jewish).

They also sent my dad to yeshiva for high school, since the public schools in their inner city immigrant neighborhood were terrible. My dad became a lot more religious in high school. He would probably call himself a ba'al tshuvah.

My mom on the other hand grew up in a charedi family. Her parents had a Tv, but that was before the days when charedi people didn't have a Tv. Covered hair, didn't wear pants, kept much stricter laws then I did growing up, my grandfather constantly says tehillim and learns all the time, etc.

Then my parents got married, and at first they lived in Brooklyn (in Midwood). But about a year and a half after I was born, they moved 'out of town.' As it was told to me, they didn't like the way everyone else was always breathing down their necks and always were all up in their business, and crime was going up in Brooklyn in the early 80's (as it was everywhere).

So my mother, to some extent, became less religious than her parents. When my parents first got married, my mom did not cover her hair, wore pants all the time, and we lived a pretty modern life. We still kept strict kosher and shabbat at all times, but were able to watch some tv and movies, I had a computer and internet since there WAS an internet, etc.

Then when I was around 12 years old, my mom started covering her hair for the first time after going to some amazing rabbi's shiur who finally was able to talk her into it. She also stopped wearing pants, and confiscated all of my pants, which I did not like at all (I hate wearing skirts to this day, and haven't worn one since the last time I visited my parents).

From what I heard growing up, my parent's parents also HATED each other (for what I got the impression were religious reasons), and were not on speaking terms, and my mom's parents hated my dad for several years and would barely talk to him.

Thinking about this as an adult, and as a skeptic, this is what I think is the real story here:

My mom was a skeptic to some extent in her 20s/30s (and she is a very skeptical person in general), and became less religious than her parents, and married someone her parents thought wasn't religious enough for their family. My grandparents hated my dad and his parents for not being religious enough. They left Brooklyn becuase of the oppressive religious atmosphere, and the inability to live a more modern lifestyle there without judgment. Eventually, with age and with the rising level of religiosity in the 'out of town' community they live in (which started off modern orthodox and now is borderline charedi), my parents became more religious. They now hold pretty much all of the same values and attitudes that my mom's parents held when they got married, and which they left Brooklyn to escape.

You might think this would make them more understanding of my beliefs, since they too went through a skeptical period, they both hold different religious beliefs than their parents, etc. I disagree, and I actually think this explains the attitudes they hold towards me.

Both my mother and my father became more religious with age, and my mother became more religious after a 'rebellious/skeptic' period in her 20s/30s when she was less religious than her parents. While I would characterize their increasing religiosity as a result of their out of town neighborhood becoming increasingly Brooklyn-like in the level of religiosity (and judgmental bullshit), my parents attribute their increasing religiosity to getting older. Which is why my parents are convinced that I am going through a rebellious 'stage' and that religion will become more important to me as I get older. It did for them, so it must be true for me!

However, there is a key difference between me and my parents; my parents believe in god, and in Judaism, and were skeptical of extremely orthodox people. They attributed the crazyness of Charedi people to a misinterpretation of the jewish religion (growing up, my parents frequently referred to Charedi people as people who were crazy, took things too far, were so far to the right they were going to fall of a cliff, etc). But they always believed in the religion itself.

Me on the other hand, I can't even remember a time when I believed Judaism was the correct religion. At a very young age I questioned the idea that Judaism was the correct religion, since every other religion also thought they were right (and they can't all be right, but what makes Judaism more right then anyone else?). I remember faking davening in first grade (moving my lips so it would look like I was praying, but not actually praying), because I decided that if I wanted to talk to god, who cares what these old rabbis said, I could talk to him however and whenever I wanted to. And davening was just a big pain in the ass and was stupid, since I didn't even understand what I was saying.

When on the night before my 15th birthday I met someone who had grown up orthodox but didn't always keep shabbat, it was a huge revelation to me; once I knew that it was possibile to grow up orthodox and not be orthodox anymore, I knew that was what I was going to do. I met that person in May, and by that summer I had started eating non-kosher vegetarian food and fish at the hospital I volunteered at, started tearing toilet paper and turning my bedroom lamp off and on on shabbas (it was on a shabbas clock, but sometimes I wanted to stay up reading later, or go to sleep earlier), and went from being shomer negiah to making out with my first ever boyfriend.

That is a totally different thing from just believing that extreme orthodox Jews are wrong, but that they are just misinterpreting what they are supposed to do. I never believed it was true. It took someone else to open up the possibility of having a life outside of orthodoxy, but once I saw that possibility I ran with it, as fast and as far as I could.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cousins and Vets

Yesterday out of the blue a cousin of mine, D (Who is very close with my parents and goes to their house around once a week, and who visited me right after I got engaged) called to say he was on a business trip, and that he was going to pass my house when he was driving home, and was going to stop by to say hi in about 3 hours.

I immediately went into a cleaning frenzy. Things tend to build up and when people my age stop by I don't care much, but this cousin is 10 years my senior, and seems more 'adult' than I am. I cleaned all the stuff off the coffee table, cleaned the whole kitchen, the bathroom, and then B stopped by on his lunch break and offered to vacuum.

Total mistake vacuuming with Barkley in the house. We put him in his crate before we started, but he started barking his head off like someone was torturing him. After that, over the course of the day he had FOUR accidents after not having an accident in two weeks (since the day after we got him). And that was with taking him out for five walks yesterday (and then 2 more pee breaks right when he had an accident and we caught him in the act)!

My cousin stopped by when B was back at work, and started telling me family news, then talking about his brother (also my cousin) who just got engaged and how he 'missed me at the engagement party' (NOTE: This party was at his house, and he didn't invite me. Neither did anyone else. This is the type of thing I would have definitely been invited to and guilted into attending before dating B).

Then B came home and he changed the subject. B said hi and stayed for a minute or two, but then Barkley was going a little crazy, so B took him out. Once B left my cousin started talking about marriage and how hard it was and who can expect that, etc. He started telling me all these stories about people who dated non jewish people and then broke up with them. And that you can't escape your past, and Frum people grow up with the expectation to get married right away after dating someone, so I should make sure I'm not getting married because of that expectation. Then he talks about how now that he has 3 kids with his wife he realizes even more cultural differences that they have (he grew up in Israel, she grew up in the southern US), etc. And how no, my parents didn't tell him to come talk to me.

So I once again repeated my shpeil about how even though me and B have different backgrounds, we have the same values now, and if you think about it we have very similar backgrounds since we both grew up in very religious households and neither of us believed in the religion. And that my parents seem to be creating a barrier between me and them that doesn't need to be there, why can't we just respect each other's religious beliefs, and just be normal with each other.

Then B came home, and D left to drive the 2 hours to his place after a few minutes. But man, it's getting closer to the wedding (3 months and 11 day to go!) and it's like every couple of weeks I get someone in my family trying to do something about it. First my dad suggesting that that B go through a sham conversion, then my brother telling me B was going to die if he didn't convert or break up with me within a year and now this. What's the next thing they're going to throw at me? I'll keep you updated!


Then this morning we took Barkley to the vet and he really freaked the fuck out when the vet put a muzzle on him and started examining him. Like screaming and foaming at the mouth and then panting for a good 15 minutes after the exam was over. He weighs 32 pounds (which the doc said is good although it would be ok to gain a few pounds), and is generally in good health, although he has a yeast infection in his ears, so we have to clean them every day for 3 days (we do it once a week anyways) and then give him antibiotic drops in his ears twice a day for the next week. He did NOT like that either, but just tried to run away. The vet also took care of a thorn thing that was stuck in his face (we tried to take it out when we noticed it yesterday, but Barkley kept trying to bite us whenever we went near it). He's ok now though, he's been sleeping on the couch since we got back about 2 hours ago.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Barkley update

Barkley is still getting better at not pulling on the leash.

He has also eaten part of my Birkenstock sandal (one I don't wear too much thankfully), bit one of my sneakers before I could stop him, and chewed a giant hole in a pair of my panties he stole out of the hamper. In addition to all the toys we got for him that he has been chewing to bits (one stuffed cow is now just a cow skin...those things have a LOT of stuffing apparently). Also he has a super disgusting habit of going after used tampons in the bathroom- we gotta get a covered trash can in there, for reals.

But he is GREAT at sitting now, and also comes when we call his name. We are considering obedience class eventually, but for now are working on it ourselves. We are also considering joining a local dogpark so that he can run around off leash. We have to get him licensed in this city before we can do that...that's on my ever growing list of things I need to do.

I'm now street friends with a dogwalker lady who I run into everywhere. Next time I gotta remember to ask her name.

Oh also today I mailed in the form to renew my passport! B's parents have booked the flight and the cruise for this summer- on July 3rd we are flying to Detroit, meeting them there, and then flying to Rome. July 4th-8th we will be in Rome, hanging out doing touristy stuff. I want to go on a day trip to Pompeii, the Colosseum, the Vatican museum, and maybe check out a Papal mass- if I'm going to go to my first mass, I want it to be led by the Pope! Then July 8th-July 18th we will be on a cruise around the Mediterranean that stops at Ephesus, Turkey; Croatia; Sicily and Greece (3 days in Greece, including Athens and Olympia). Then back home after the cruise is done.

Did I mention B's parents are farking awesome for taking us on this cruise? We've decided not to go on another honeymoon, since we have to spend a bunch of money on boarding the dog and kitty care for the cruise (but that's our only expense, B's parents are paying the rest!!!), and also we've been living together the past year so we don't need a trip somewhere to get to know each other's bodies or whatever it is honeymoons are for.

Also, B's dad friended me on facebook yesterday. And apparently he has a blog. Did I mention how much I love B's parents?