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Stop and Think for a Moment

11 Sep

On September 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked by religious extremists and used to kill thousands.  Now nine years later, Islamophobia is rampant.  Stop and think about something for a moment, though.  Among those killed were members of the Islamic faith.  They were peaceful people just going about their everyday business.  They were working, taking care of errands, caring for their homes and families.  They were in no way involved in the horrible attacks on September 11.

When you decide that you’re going to judge all Muslims, stop and think about the families of the Muslims killed in the 9/11 attacks.  Think about how not only do they have to face the pain of loss of their loved ones, but also bigotry against all Muslims.  When you rant and rave against the “Ground Zero Mosque,” think about the fact that their blood was spilled on that day along with the blood of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics and the blood of countless others.

When you condemn all Muslims because of the horrific act of a small minority, you really have let those radicals win.  Think about it.

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How Many Birthdays Do You Have? I’ve Got Two!

15 Aug

This post is part of Jewels of Elul, which celebrates the Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days of the month of Elul to growth and discovery in preparation for the coming high holy days. This year the program is benefiting Beit T’shuvah, a residential addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. You can subscribe on Jewels of Elul to receive inspirational reflections from public figures each day of the month. You don’t have to be on the blog tour to write a blog post on “The Art of Beginning… Again”. We invite everyone to post this month (August 11th – September 8th) with Jewels of Elul to grow and learn.

Boy, this is perhaps the fifteenth time I’ve sat down to write this in the past twenty-four hours.  So far, I’ve done better than before.  Look at that!  Two whole sentences!  Yay, me!  Now what?  What do I write about?  Writer’s block as the new fresh start?  Is blank the new black? Would a nap help me write?  Should I throw in a load of whites?  Will the tofurkey sandwich I just made nourish my brain?

Maybe I’m having a hard time because I’m trying to write about something about which I’ve written before so many times.  If you read all of my blog posts (and I hope you will, visiting another website between each post in order to boost my page views), you’ll notice that the general theme of my blog is starting over.  Starting with one of my first posts, “The World Is a Big, Scary Place,” I’ve chronicled my attempts to jump start my career and my love life after losing a huge amount of weight (about 125 lbs so far).

However, my story really began anew on Father’s Day of last year.  On that day, the daughter of an old family friend passed away and I decided to take drastic action so that I would not meet the same fate.  I talked about Laura and honoring her memory in “What Can I Say?,” but  I was a bit cagey about the decision I made as a result of her death.  So, here it goes — my second birthday.  The big reveal.  Are you ready?  Sitting down?  Got a drink?  I could use a drink.  But I can’t have a drink.

Why can’t I have a drink?  On December 11, 2009 I had gastric bypass surgery.  December 11 is my new birthday.  Since then, I’ve lost 100 pounds (I lost about twenty-five pounds in the period leading up to my surgery).  I’ve been told by my surgeon’s coordinator that I can’t have alcohol until one year after the surgery.  Others have said that I can drink alcohol six months after my surgery, I may have a drink around nine months after my surgery — on my actual birthday.

The surgery wasn’t a magic bullet.  I still have to diet and exercise.  If I’m not careful, I can regain all of the weight.  The surgery was merely a weight loss tool.  It made what seemed impossible possible.  Trust me.  When you weigh almost 300 pounds, losing weight seems like an uphill battle.  I’m sure it must have seemed that way for Laura.

Laura’s parents begged her to consider the surgery.  But you can’t steer someone towards that decision; that decision is one that someone must make on his or her own.  I know that until Laura passed away, when my parents tried to discuss the surgery with me I became very angry and just shut them out.  When Laura died, I knew what I had to do.  So, that’s how I came to have two birthdays.

Any chance that my big reveal distracted you from the shortness of this blog post?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The Worst Nightmare of an Uncomfortable Non-Whore

2 Aug

But far less eloquent.

Dear Dov Charney: Hate You, Love Your Undies

24 Jun

I have a love/hate relationship with American Apparel. I love that they don’t employ sweatshop labor and that they pay the people who produce their products a living wage. I hate that there are so many allegations of sexism and sexual harassment against American Apparel CEO Dov Charney.

A series of articles on Gawker (Dear Gawker:  I simply love you) has documented the allegations against Mr. Charney.  Of course, Charney denies all the allegations, but many employees have spoken out against him, confirming what Gawker has been saying.  One employee even sent Gawker a copy of a new confidentiality agreement aimed at silencing American Apparel employees who may be critical of American Apparel policies and management.

Dov, why are you taking a company with such a great mission and turning it into your own personal playground?  Aren’t you making enough money to be skeevy on your own time?  Must you drag your staff into it?  Why can’t you just run this great company that shows other American businesses how to treat their workers with dignity while making a profit?  Do you really have to make me feel sleazy for buying an inexpensive, American made, sweatshop free t-shirt, headband, or pair of colorful cotton undies?

Love,  Jewette

P.S.  Love the tap pant undies!

What Can I Say?

21 Jun

What can I say about a day that began with an early morning walk and ended with a tote bag full of yogurt? All in all, it was a pretty good day.

There were new experiences — cooking quinoa cakes for a picnic and feeling happy when everyone enjoyed them. There are new friends. Most important, there is new perspective.

I had that day thanks to an old family friend who is no longer with us. But for Laura, I would not have made some key changes in my life. But for Laura, I would not have the opportunity to make even more changes. It would be disingenuous of me to say that I miss her (I never spent much time with her), but I can feel the loss and the sadness in the wake of her death.

I spoke with her mother yesterday.  While at a picnic speaking with another friend’s mother (one of the new friends I mentioned earlier), I felt the sudden urge to call.  Today was the anniversary of Laura’s death.  Laura’s mother said that she felt like she was in a black hole.  She and her husband had just had a year full of horrible firsts:  first holidays without Laura, first birthdays without Laura, first milestones without Laura. 

Instead of pointing out that today is the anniversary of Laura’s death, her mother noted that yesterday was the anniversary of the last day of Laura’s life.  I can only hope that over time, that way of thinking takes over for Laura’s family.  Will the third Thanksgiving without Laura be any easier than the first?  Will the fifth Mother’s Day without Laura be felt any less than the first?  Will Laura’s niece’s and nephew’s graduations be less painful because they’ll take place over ten years from now? 

When Laura died, she saved my life.  Her parents must wonder every day what would Laura have done had I been the one who died.  I know those thoughts aren’t malicious; I wonder the same thing.  Laura’s life was so much fuller than mine.  The only way to properly honor her is to try to make my life as full as hers was. 

Laura, I promise I will do my very best.

How Did I Become Jewette?

6 Jun

A friend encouraged me to blog.  Frankly, I’m lazy about writing.  It’s tough.  I begin way too many sentences with “I,” which makes me self-conscious and paranoid that everyone will think I’m seriously self-centered — which I very well may be.

So, I admitted my laziness to my friend and here’s his reply:

Your odyssey toward smaller sizes, your adventures on Chicago’s mass (ive heart attack-inducing) transit, the degradation of urban social norms . . . the re-education (unfortunate choice of words, perhaps, giving the Mao-ist provenance) of a lazy Jewess . . . these are interesting things.

Simple as that.  Jewette was born.

Only three people know the Jewess behind Jewette.  There’s a simple reason for this:  I overshare on a regular basis.  My friends know more about me than I know about them.  This is something I must correct.  It’s not that I’m not interested in who my friends are as people, I just feel like I’m prying when I ask personal questions.  I’ll just have to learn to believe that if I’m overstepping my bounds, my friends will correct me.   They’re reasonable people who know boundaries.  Me, not so much.

Oy.

Even I Know . . .

4 Jun

I just heard that a friend’s project will be running a little longer than expected.  Some more work was found, so my friend will be employed longer than he thought.  My response?  Mazel tov!

Okay, Mazel tov is pretty basic.  Most non-Jewish people who live or work around Jewish people know this term.   What they don’t really know is that not all Hebrew and/or Yiddish phrases carry the same meaning as Mazel tov.

I found this out the awkward way.  When I reported back to some other friends about the extended project and my reaction, a colleague responded with L’chaim.  Hold on, did I miss a glass of wine?  It’s Friday afternoon, where’s my drink?  L’chaim?  Really?  When I questioned my colleague’s choice of words, she responded that she didn’t want to copy me by repeating Mazel tov, and that it wasn’t Saturday so Shabat Shalom wouldn’t have been appropriate either.

Just to get this straight, I note that a friend’s assignment will run longer than expected and a colleague responds with “To life!” because “Good Sabbath” wouldn’t have been appropriate?

Well, happy Yom Kippur!  Don’t laugh, you know that’s next!