Monday, July 09, 2007

My first meme

Mondrian in Glass
(June 29, 2007)
See fact number 5.

I’ve been tagged by Elie for this meme:

"Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged."

Well, Elie, truth to tell, I've never been a big fan of memes. Still, let me see . . . Maybe I’ll just follow your lead:

1. I, too "find it very hard to block out sound, especially coming from a television or radio." The reason why I got into the habit of staying up until outrageous hours on Saturday night/Sunday morning is that I couldn't get a thing done on the computer as long as our son was sitting a few yards from me watching the idiot box, so I had to wait until he turned off the tube [TV] and went to bed (at 1 AM—he was around 17 when this started) to do my entries in Quicken, etc. Now you know why I'm up publishing posts and comments at 3 AM. And I wonder why I'm tired. [Insert roll-eyes emoticon here.]

This also accounts for the fact that I don’t listen to music nearly as much now as when I was younger. Either whatever else I’m doing distracts me from the music, or the music distracts me from whatever else I’m doing. It’s a nice distraction, though, when I’m doing such mind-numbing pursuits as data entry or filing, both of which I, personally, find so boring that it’s difficult to for me to do them without listening to music. But I can’t “listen” to TV or a video while I’m working in Quicken or doing any serious writing—the visuals are even more distracting than the audio.

2. “I remember, and saved, the outfit I wore on my first date with my wife. I can't even come close to fitting into it any more, but I kept it anyway - hey, I'm a sentimental guy!” I still have the white eyelet skirt and blouse that I wore for our wedding reception. (It was a folk-dance reception, and I assumed that I’d eventually break my neck and/or be constricted in my dancing if I danced in my wedding gown all afternoon.) Unfortunately, we have absolutely no photos of me in that outfit, which I also wore for Yom Kippur for a couple of years after our wedding. Also unfortunately, I, um, “outgrew” it within about three years. But I can’t bear to part with it.

3. I was just about exactly 24 years old when I began wearing a tallit (a prayer shawl, which has ritual fringes). (I was a member of an egalitarian synagogue at the time, and figured that, as long as I had the rights, I should also have the responsibilities.) When I first began wearing a tallit, my (California) brother yelled at me for not wearing one on the Shabbat morning of a bat mitzvah celebration. “Either you’re going to wear one or you’re not!” That made sense to me, so I’ve worn one every Shabbat (Sabbath and Yom Tov (holiday) ever since, at least when I’m in a non-Orthodox synagogue.

I used to wear a tallit kattan (literally, a small tallit) under my blouse when I went to an Orthodox synagogue, but I think I’d probably put on my tallit (and t’fillin, if it were a weekday), say the full Sh’ma at home, then remove the tallit (and t’fillin) before going to shul if I were davvening Orthodox nowadays. For myself, I now question the point of wearing a fringed garment if I don’t have the nerve to wear the fringes in a visible manner—the mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah specifies “u-r’item oto”/and you will see it,” "it" being a ritual fringe—and I’m no longer either as blasé about offending people as I was when I was in my twenties or chutzpahdik (gutsy) enough to wear the tzitzit (fringe[s]) where I can see them. That perspective and the fact that I’m particularly prone to heat prostration have prevented me from adding the wearing of a tallit kattan to my ritual observance.

For the record, the Punster met me after I’d already begun wearing a tallit, so he can’t say he didn’t know what he was getting into. :)

4. Some friends of ours got us interested in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when the Son-ster was about six years old, and we’ve been science fiction fans ever since. In my humble opinion, the best of the Star Trek TV shows was “Deep Space Nine,” possibly because it was influenced by its wonderful “rival,” “Babylon 5,” which was conceived first but put into production later. The current version of “Battlestar Galactica” has been a bit convoluted lately—I have no idea where the writers are going with the latest plot twist, and, frankly, I suspect that they don’t know, either. But it was nice while it lasted. “Farscape” was far out, both literally and figuratively, and I enjoyed it very much, though I don’t think I’ve see all the episodes. “Stargate: SG 1” was fun, as is its spin-off, “Stargate: Atlantis”—neither is usually quite as serious as B5, DS9, or Farscape, though there have certainly been those moments. (Why, oh why, did they have to kill off Dr. Beckett on Atlantis? He was my favorite character. Sniff.) By the way, I absolutely love the opening theme song of Atlantis.

5. I’ve always been a late bloomer, and the later, the bloomier :), apparently. My current job is the best I’ve ever had (though, unfortunately, not particularly lucrative). In addition, within roughly the latest ten years, I’ve written over 50 poems, many of which have been published on my blog—none of them is Pulitzer-worthy, but I enjoyed writing them. (The less said about my “Babylon 5” fan fiction short stories, the better, but the writing process was fascinating.) I’ve also choreographed five dances since I started blogging, and now that they’re on YouTube, where anyone can see them, I don’t much care that they’re not Broadway-worthy. :) Now, if only I could figure how to use the lighting settings on our camera . . . :)

One of the biggest surprises I've gotten since discovering first the televised-science-fiction message boards and, then, the Jewish blogosphere is how much I really enjoy writing and being creative. I never did any of this before—every poem, story, and non-fiction discussion piece that I've written, every dance that I’ve choreographed, and almost all of my recent attempts at photography have been done precisely for sharing on the Internet and getting a response. What can I say? Apparently, I’m not only a late bloomer, I'm also an attention-seeker. :)

6. Probably one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had on the Internet took place when I was visiting another J-blog. Every time my curser happened to slide into the sidebar, I saw my URL appear at the bottom left of my screen. At first, I though there was some kind of computer malfunction. But finally, it occurred to me that maybe I should check out the sidebar deliberately and see what the story was. Imagine my shock when I discovered that my URL was appearing whenever the mouse was pointing to the following words: “Jewish. Writer. Great. Undiscovered.” Who, me??! Holy Moses!! Truth to tell, I've always thought of myself as being more of an editor than a writer, especially given my work history in the secretarial field. (I've always considered it my job to make my employer look good. You'd be surprised at how much editing that sometimes entails.) Thanks, Eliyahu!

7. I "did time" in France. :) Okay, I lived for 17 months in France as a college French major. (I came home quite fluent, but, though I can still read it, I no longer understand spoken French.) My biggest peeve with the French was that they were perfectly content to demonstrate against U.S. war Vietnam--a war which I also opposed--but wouldn't say a word against their own government's war in the African nation of Chad.

8. Holding on for dear life, literally:
When I was in high school, we once went on a class trip to an amusement park. This having been roughly 40 years ago, the sophisticated safety mechanisms currently common on amusement rides either didn't exist yet or were not yet in common use, and seat belts in cars were almost unheard of. So when I ended up alone in a two-seater roller coaster car and thought that the attendant had left the safety belt rather lose, I had no idea how to tighten it, and just figured I'd live. Little did I know how wrong I almost was. When the roller coaster reached the top of the first ("monster") hill and started plunging down that huge drop, I realized, to my horror, not to mention terror, that the only thing keeping me from flying out of that car to a certain death was my own two hands. Astoundingly enough in retrospect, it never occurred to me to report to anyone that the ride attendant's error had almost cost me my life. But I think it goes without saying that I've been petrified of roller coasters ever since.

Well, for someone who isn't big on memes, I think I've managed to write one of the longest-winded memes in the history of the blogosphere. :) (Is anyone still here? :) ) I'm too worn out to tag eight other people. Um, any volunteers?

On second thought, AidelMaidel did complain here that she hadn't been tagged, so she's hereby tagged. :)


Blogger P L said...

Doesn't -

"in the Torah specifies “u-r’item oto”/and you will see it,” "it" being a ritual fringe"

refer to YOU the wearer of the fringes? I wear mine under my shirt and I see it and am aware of it everyday. If it does mean that the wearer should see it then it would be perfectly okay to wear it tucked in.

Although I think it would be kind of a kick to see women wearing it with the tzitzis hanging out. ;-)

Mon Jul 09, 11:15:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I guess I always think of seeing tzitzit as something that should be a constant thing, like putting your watch on and being able to see it at any time until you take it off. Isn't that the point? And yet I know that it's common for guys to tuck in their tzitzit. I haven't quite worked out how it's kosher to hide one's tzitzit, as that seems to contradict both the letter and the spirit of the text. The Torah says that one will see a fringe and remember HaShem's commandments. Well, if you can't see the fringe, how can they be a mnemonic (memory) device? Maybe you or someone else can explain that.

Also, um, technical question. Coming from a Conservative background in which all boys are expected to wear a tallit once they become b'nei mitzvah (13 years old and personally responsible for fulfilling the commandments), I've never really seen a tallit kattan in operation, so to speak. How does one kiss one's tzitzit during the Sh'ma when they're tucked inside one's outerclothes? How does one kiss the Torah scroll with them as it's being ceremonially carried around the room (or does a single guy just kiss the scroll with a prayer book)?

If you and/or someone else would kindly enlighten me on both points, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Mon Jul 09, 11:47:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may have started off "following my lead" but you certainly made this meme your own! Great job and thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

I also like DS9 the best of all the Star Trek sequels. But I will still always hold a torch (phaser?) for the original. Maybe because, unlike you, it's the only incarnation I first saw as a child/adolescent. As the saying goes, "the golden age is fourteen".

Tue Jul 10, 12:30:00 PM 2007  
Blogger P L said...


Technically the commandment does not require us to wear Tzitzit at all. It specifies if we wear a four cornered garment only then must we wear fringes on it. We wear it daily because it gives us an opportunity to fulfill a commandment.

I think that the fact that it is not constantly seen makes it a more powerful reminder. Having it like a wristwatch would numb us to its meaning. Sort of like when you go to an amazing nature sight occasionally it is much more powerful then having it in your backyard when it becomes routine and you don't appreciate it as much.

Putting on Tzitzit in the morning and making a blessing on them as well as kissing them during davening and seeing them occasionally during the day when you adjust your clothing has a much greater impact in my opinion. It functions much better as a reminder when its an occasional alarm clock as opposed to a constant buzzing which tends to lose its meaning and gets drowned out by becoming background noise.

As far as the practical uses, this is what I do. Since the only time we kiss it by davening is by Shachris (morning prayers) when I get dressed in the morning I leave the fringes outside since my first morning activity is Shachris. Once I have completed the Shema and the prayer right after the Shema (where we also kiss our fringes, sort of a goodbye kiss) I tuck them in and they remain there for the rest of the day.

As far as kissing the sefer Torah, yes we use our siddur or some kiss the Torah directly with their lips.

Tue Jul 10, 03:36:00 PM 2007  
Blogger P L said...

I think Tzitzit has also become like a Jewish pride kind of thing. There is the same issue amongst the ultra-orthodox who believe that it is holier to wear peyes (sidelocks) as obvious as possible as some type of sign of Jewishness or stricter adherence to the commandment. In essence the prohibition is simply to not shave the side of the head and does not require any type of extended or free floating sidelocks.

Speaking of sidelocks, as a woman who enjoys fulfilling mitzvos that are traditionally more male oriented how do you feel about wearing sidelocks? Would you consider having them, and if not why not?

Tue Jul 10, 03:48:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mellow, thanks for the guided tour to the practicalities of wearing tzitzit. :) The idea that one risks less "overexposure" by wearing one's tzitzit tucked in is an interesting perspective. It would never have occurred to me to look at it, or see it :), quite that way.

Re peyot, here's a literally hairy story :) :

When we were kids, my mother used to tell us complaining girls that we could grow our hair once *we* could take care of it, but that, as long as *she* was taking care of it, she'd keep it as short as she wanted. I was in high school before I grew hair long enough for a "flip" (see old photos of Jackie Kennedy), and I was in my twenties before I finally had hair long enough to braid. I had already decided that I was too old for braids by the time I was in my late twenties, and cut my hair to "page boy" length just days before my wedding. (I don't think my husband has ever forgiven me.) After a couple years of standing in front of a mirror every morning with a blow dryer, turning my hair under with a brush, I was fed up, and cut it short. I came home, looked at myself in a mirror--and burst out laughing: I had the same short haircut that my mother had been wearing for some 30 years. :) Apparently, the preference for "wash and wear hair"--I shampoo it, towel it dry, comb it, and leave--runs in the family. :)

The *short* answer :) is that, having concluded that it's impossible to keep my ears under my hair (which I'd prefer) when my hair is both short and has a pair of glasses running interference, I now have my hair cut over my ears, so I end up with peyot by default. :)

Tue Jul 10, 04:52:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Elie, thanks for the invitation. It turned out to be an interesting "writing assignment." :)

Re DS9, I was pretty bummed out when Jadzia Dax was bumped off, too, though I knew that the actress wanted out. As for the original Star Trek was ahead of its time, and I certainly enjoy watching the reruns, but still, it's not quite far enough ahead of its time for my current taste. It annoys me that the lead male sleeps with every female in the galaxy. That's what they call "going where no man has gone before"? [Insert roll-eyes emoticon here.]

Tue Jul 10, 05:35:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Eliyahu said...

thanks for your comment, and for actually checking out my blog!

Tue Jul 17, 12:30:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Eliyahu, you might say it was a comment in exchange for a compliment. :)

I wish you'd publish your own writing more often. That poem in honor of Bush's birthday was droll.

Tue Jul 17, 01:22:00 AM 2007  

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