Monday, November 30, 2015

More Prejudice?

I don't read many literary books (make that none, I think ...), but this piece made sense.

Bad, bad critics

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's All About Me

You ever have one of those people in your life that no matter what you say, she tops it? The 'I lost three pounds' and she says, 'that's great, I lost 100 pounds.'

I work with her. I said, "My SIL went into the hospital this weekend" and she said "My aunt died this weekend".

So today...

Our other coworker was saying that she's nervous because her mother is coming to visit and "we have a difficult relationship."

Topper girl says, "Well, my mother is dead."

Um... what? She's been dead over 20 years. So what? So I said, "Yeah, so is my mother. And we had a hard time too for many years. So what's the general problem with you and your Mom?"

And we got back to the conversation on hand.

Still... to respond with a 'my mother is dead' was both the funniest and most pathetic thing I ever heard.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Day Twelve

I have 4 writing buddies on nano and three have much better word counts than I do. Part of me is jealous but then, I've written over 20,000 words on this story so far and that's more than I've written in all the last year. So my jealousy won't define me.

SIL should finally be coming home tomorrow. She had a liver biopsy and it doesn't look like the cancer spread. They've cancelled any further chemo (thank you Lord!) so maybe she can come home and start healing.

Work has been interesting but I'm keeping it from getting important to me. I love the work I do, enjoy most of my job and most of my co-workers and the rest of it I don't have to hold onto. So it's good.

And the writing... is awesome. I wrote two pieces today that mean I'll have quite a lot of rewriting later because it changed the nature of earlier conversations. But that's okay.

It's interesting to write about religion when one isn't that well versed in it. I'm learning a lot about Judaism and Christianity and I find it fascinating. In my next life I want to be a Rabbi.

Another excerpt:

"Can you have good without evil?"
Rhonda Stein looked up from her desk, surprise on her face. It was rare that the Reb interrupted her when she was working at her computer; he was like the specter of the synagogue, seen and rarely heard. Never had he asked her a question of religious importance.
"I think maybe Mother Teresa was an example of good without evil," Rhonda said thoughtfully, "but then again, we don't know if she was pulling the wings off flies in her spare time."
"Why don't Jews believe in the devil?"
"Some do." Rhonda leaned forward onto her elbows and peered over the rim of her computer glasses at the Reb. "Of course there are those who are into the Kabbalah so they have the mysticism teachings But there are those that believe in the devil as Ha-, the challenger."
"To make the choice to sin a serious one."
"Yes. Which really stinks if you think about it. That God has an angel on his staff whose job it is to tempt them into bad choices. Temptation isn't a problem if it isn't on the table, you know?"
He smiled and Rhonda thought how nice it is to see the Reb alive. He'd been so emotionally deadened since Rose passed.
"And you? Do you believe in the devil?"
"That's a brilliant question Reb. I'm not always convinced that God exists so imagining the devil is even trickier."
"So you don't?"
"No, I don't." She sat back and looked at him, his sleeve cuff was fraying slightly, his glasses were smudged. He was a man who needed a wife and didn't even know how lost he was without one.
"My husband wanted me to convert to Christianity," Rhonda said. "I know, I should have married a nice Jewish boy. I heard it from my parents plenty. But the heart wants what it wants. And my heart wanted Paul. Still does, even after eighteen years of marriage."
The Reb sat at the folding chair next to the desk. "I didn't even know you were married to a goyim."
She shrugged. "It stopped being a big deal since we didn't choose to have children. Without worry of how the kids will be raised, there was no reason to care about religious differences. Anyway, he stopped asking me to convert when I started asking him to. The problem was that Judaism is just more appealing if you break it down. We believe in personal responsibility. We believe in social responsibility. We like learning and logic. And we don't have a convenient 'the devil made me do it' in our religion. You make a bad choice and it's on you. You want absolution? Get your ass into gear and earn it yourself. Pardon my French."
"I believe the French is derriere."
She grinned but he seemed to be a million miles away.
"Why the questions Reb? Has the devil been knocking on your door?"
He started, a quick intake of breath and sudden flush to his cheeks. 'What the hell is going on with the Rabbi?' Rhonda suddenly wondered.
"I've been wondering," he said finally, "about the goodness in bad people. Or the rightness in wrong choices. If we believe in haSatan then we believe that goodness can be swayed and in essence, that God is sending a challenger, perhaps even should be swayed. God encourages evil, He wants us to make the choices that go against His teaching."
"That's an interpretation," Rhonda answered, "but in that would it be that He wants you to learn or that He wants people to fail?"
"And then what would Satan be?" the Reb asked. "Still an angel of the Lord doing His bidding or a force or evil, trying to ruin the goodness He gives us?"
"Why are you thinking about Satan? Is someone in trouble Reb? Is there anything anyone can do to help?"
"No, no." He shook his head and slowly got on his feet. "It's just large thoughts for my small brain. Trying to understand the world and realizing how it’s much too large for any man to understand." Rhonda knew their conversation was coming to an end. She still had more data to enter, payments to process but something about the Rabbi's questions stirred.
"Maybe the point of the Devil," Rhonda said, "is to help us love God even more. We know that sin and evil is common, bad choices are as natural as breathing. But God still loves us. He always loves us. And in God's love we know that the devil can deceive us but can never trick us into believing he has us in his heart."
He leaned over and touched her hand, resting on the computer keyboard. "Thank you Shayna."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day Seven

Well my word count is 13,688 which means I lost my great lead in but I'm still ahead and still writing. I need to pull it a little more together and get more plot aware because I'm kind of writing all over the place.

My SIL is still in the hospital and not looking to be out yet. Her white cells are up but red cells are down and now there's a need for an endoscopy and check out if she had kidney stones. It's ridiculous.

There probably won't be any more chemo because this reaction just trumps any good the chemo might do. Yeah, the drug is effective but unfortunately it killed the patient. Nah.... even the doctor is recoiling.So we're all just waiting to see what's going to happen next.

My daughter went and shot guns again today. And I'm going to turn in.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully about 2000 more Nano words.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nano: Where I Am

So today is Day 5 and already my plans have been kicked black and blue.

But I'm still writing.

On Day 1 of Nano, my sister in law went into the hospital. The chemo has been riding roughshod on her and she had two days of a fever so they admitted her. The fever thankfully passed but her white blood cell count is dangerously low and she tested positive for e-coli. We're hoping she comes home tomorrow but if she does then we have to be totally prepared.

So tonight I have to clean her room, wash all her bedding and make her space as germ free as possible. And I'll probably have to keep that up until she's done with this entire chemo journey.

I was hoping to write at work during my lunch breaks but so far this week I only got one day to write. Obviously this would be the week where we have meeting scheduled (twice) during lunch breaks and of course, I want to go to the hospital and see my SIL.

So my confession: I started Nano with almost 8,000 words written. Yes, I cheated. And thank God I did because otherwise I'd already be so far behind and discouraged that I wouldn't complete. Instead last night I wrote 1000 words and I've averaged 1000 words daily so far so I'm still writing and still ahead.

And the story is just.... this is the happiest I've been in ages in writing.

“If you put three Jews in a room, Shayna, you’ll have four opinions.” Reb Zimmerman grinned. “It’s the greatest pleasure sometimes for us. We like to argue, we like to disagree. A Jew will demand proof and then even question the proof you have.”
“Basic Jewish teaching is that there is a life after death. You believe in the resurrection with the coming of the Messiah.”
“For those who believe that the Messiah will truly come.”
“Aha, a chink in the holy armor. Reb, do you not believe?”
He obviously didn’t mind her teasing. “I doubt. I think our people needed the Messiah many different times in our history and he never came.”
“It might be a she.”
“Shayna, it could be Lassie but she never showed up. Personally, I don’t believe there is going to be a Messiah to lead us all back to the Holy Land. I think that was wishful thinking from a long ago time. What we have here is what we have and the afterlife is best left to the dead.”
“Do you worry?” She leaned in, interested.
“Worry about what? Do I worry I might go to Hell because I might have flirted too much with the President of the Sisterhood when my Rose was alive? Or is the worry that this is all there is and it will end?”
She was like an eager Bat Mitzvah, finally getting the personal time to ask the most important question of her existence: will I end one day? Will the future happen without me? Do I matter?
“I believe in God, Shayna. I believe He hasn’t turned His back on us even though most of us have turned our backs on Him. I believe that each one of us is a seed in his garden and like any garden we sprout, we grow and we die. We can live on through our offshoots, perhaps through the seeds we spread through our lives. Some grow to be great trees and shade millions. Some are weeds who strangle other plants before they can bloom.
“I believe we are all given the chance to bloom and it’s our job to leave our spot in the garden to the next generation.”
She sat back, her disappointment not hidden. “Reb, I’m right here. I have the answers. I am the proof.”
“The proof of what Shayna? Proof of your existence and your experience. If you mean to tell me that we all go to either Heaven or Hell based on random judgements from moments in our lives then I’d be disappointed in you.”
“You disappoint me.” She stood and looked down at him. He could see the tension in her shoulders. It seemed so at odds with the woman he was beginning to know. Then again, how much did one ever truly know the devil? Perhaps this was one of her best deceptions yet.
“I don’t want to believe in it, Shayna.”
He looked away from her. Was he making a mistake? How much did he dare expose? How much could it hurt him?
“Eternity is for angels.” He sat back slowly in his chair, he could feel the slight burn between his shoulder blades, a muscle was protesting or maybe something was sprained. He should see a doctor for it but it was just another ache in a long list.
“Live a moment in a human body and you’d wish against eternity. The bladder is weak and the eyesight is weaker. Everything hurts. A good day is the one where you make it to the bathroom in time without dripping in your pants. God made us weak and we get weaker by the year. What does eternity promise except more pain and disappointment?”
“You could go to Heaven and have the perfect life.” She sat back down, her interest engaged again. “Maybe you could be 30 years old once again and back with your love.”
“I’d give almost anything to believe in that.” He closed his eyes so the wet wouldn’t gather and make a tear. “But I don’t. If there is any kind of afterlife Shayna, I imagine it’s almost as you described your birth: little specks of happy nothing in the eternity of the universe.”
“Do you want me to tell you?” She was searching his face for something.
“I wouldn’t believe you if you tried.” He looked at his watch. “I have a class in a half hour Shayna and I need to gather materials as well as my wits.”
“So I’m dismissed?”
“I need to be a part of my own life now.”
She nodded. “I’ll give you that Reb. Do you want me to come back?”
“Do you want to?”
She barked a short laugh. “Put one Jew in a room and every question will be answered with two more. Rabbi Nathan Zimmerman, I still haven’t answered your call. I would like a piece of cake tonight if you’re willing to share.”
He nodded. “You’re beginning to define my nights Shayna. I would miss you if you weren’t there.”
“That might not be a great decision, Reb. But then, I’d miss you too. So maybe we’re both on the same track. Right or wrong, I’m not sure yet.”
He smiled. “And now even the devil sounds like a Jew.”
She left on the echo of a laugh.