Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three Candles

This blog turned three today, and I didn't want the occasion to pass without acknowledging it somehow. And as much as I abhor meta-posts, it looks like this is going to be one.

I'm very glad to have had this virtual home for the past three years. It made a huge difference to me during the really tough parts of my diagnosis and treatment and during the long months of my dad's illness and the aftermath of his death.

It has been a bit of a struggle to post regularly in Year 3, due less to the persistent scarcity of time than to the self-imposed challenge of hewing to the original purpose of this blog now that the galvanizing events of Years 1 and 2 have receded from the foreground of my life.

Those events will always cast a long shadow, but I guess what I am now trying to do is step out into the light.

At the moment, I am squinting and blinking and waiting for my eyes to adjust.

I will probably stumble around a bit while I figure out things like direction and focus, but I am looking forward to Year 4—and, I hope, to sharing it with you.

Thanks so much for sticking around.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Doing the Math

A friend and fellow writer asked me to read some of his work this week, and I was so glad to get back into that groove. I've missed reading and writing and editing more than I can say, and I am really hoping that 2009 will see me doing more of each.

With the New Year and my birthday and our wedding anniversary coming up, it's a natural time to look back and gaze ahead, to see what's missing and what's extraneous in my life.

When I arrived in LA in June, I thought that we might be well settled by Labor Day. By August I had recalibrated my expectations and set my sights on New Year's. Now I'm thinking spring or early summer.

In the meantime, I'm hoping to get some more structure into my life, beyond that afforded by my job. A book group, a writing group, some kind of exercise routine: all of these would be welcome additions.

What's trickier is the subtractions. . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

14th of Kislev

According to Jewish tradition and the Hebrew calendar, tonight is the true anniversary of my father's death, and I am feeling my way through it, trying to observe the occasion according to custom and to what feels right.

I have lit a Yahrzeit candle in his memory.

I have made a donation in his name to support an organization that he loved.

I have indulged in a couple of his vices and emulated a few of his virtues.

I have been thinking of him and feeling incredibly grateful to have had him in my life for as long as I did, and incredibly sad not to have him any longer.

I am thinking about getting up very early tomorrow and driving across town so that I can say Kaddish among strangers at a synagogue I've never visited before, and I am also thinking about not doing that.

I'm planning to have some of my favorite old photos of him—the ones from the collage Zach made for his 80th-birthday party—reprinted and framed for my office and our house.

I'm going to go to sleep tonight with the hope that he will pay me a visit, and I'm going to wake up tomorrow and try, as I do every day, to make him proud.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

No Jingles, No Bells

The end of last week was so warm that on Thursday I wore short sleeves and on Friday I didn't even bother to take a jacket with me to work.

Between the weather and the fact that we are thousands of miles from our families, the holiday season—so far, at least—has been more than a bit disorienting.

While I don't miss fighting my way through the crowds in Times Square or along Fifth Avenue, I do miss the undeniable energy that infuses New York this time of year.

There may be holiday energy out here—it's probably just more diffuse, spread out the way everything is in this land of sprawl. In New York, it's absolutely unavoidable, mainly because people are out and about in such numbers and in such close, jostle-prone quarters that the energy flows like a current from one person to the next to the next.

Here you rarely bump into anyone—physically, that is—so maybe there's no opportunity for one person's holiday fever to infect anyone else. I certainly haven't been bitten by the bug.

Today Zach and I reorganized the couple dozen still-to-be-unpacked boxes that remind us every day how much settling in we have yet to do. When I came upon the one that holds our holiday ornaments, menorah, and Hanukkah candles, I nearly restacked it with all of the others before I realized that hey, wait a minute, 'tis the season.

Really, 'tis.