Friday, October 31, 2008

The Mean House

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

No Candy Here

We were supposed to meet our friend Adam for dinner and Shabbat services, but he had to stay late at work, and then we were too lazy to go into the city, since we weren't meeting him.

At the end of the work-day, a colleague and I were speaking by phone and as she was hanging up, she asked, "Are you looking forward to the trick-or-treaters?"

"Since you're asking," I said, "Actually, we're the mean house. I'm philosophically anti-sugar and I feel like I'm giving kids poison by giving them candy, so we'll probably shut off all the outside lights and watch DVDs in our basement."

She laughed.

How about you?"

"Oh, I *love* it," she said.


Pat and I did opt to go get Middle Eastern food for dinner, which we seem to do weekly now. I felt better as we drove up the street and saw that at least a third of our neighbors were not participating in the candy-giving ritual.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, How I Miss You!

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

My Fair Blog

I just wish I could sit here and play/write, but I need to read 20 more pages before class tomorrow night. This morning, our cat Toonces woke me at 3 am. I lay in bed till 4:30 and then got up and drew a bath.

Lying in a tub with a book in my hand is the next best thing to moving through a pool of water. Read 20+ pages of the school article and the rest of *French Milk.* The artist was a talented cartoonist.

Friday night will be fun, after all this work-pumping; our friend from Chicago, who now lives in New York, will join us for Shabbat services at our synagogue. There's a Halloween Party for artists that we've been invited to afterwards, but I don't know if I'll still be awake what an intimidating crowd for which to try to fashion my, typically, I've only ever worn a costume to synagogue during Purim, as a little girl.

Right now, as I go to read this scholarly article on designing e-learning, I can't get Me'shell NdegeOcello music out of my head.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goin' Swimmin'

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Ladies' Night at the YMHA

Typically, Pat and I swim on Sunday mornings, but she volunteered at a park today with her Master Gardeners class crew and I stayed home to catch up on work/school.

Ladies' Swim is from 6-7 pm, and it'll be me with all of the ultra-Orthodox women, who don't want to swim when men are swimming, for modesty reasons.

Before I go, I want to mention a Sunday "New York Times" magazine article that chilled me: The author tried to throw a party in real-life and invited all of his 700 Facebook friends, and only one showed up. The other day, it hit me that I'm essentially having an I-It relationship with most of the people whose friendship connections I accept or offer. Martin Buber would agree.

I do believe that I can have, and have had, I-Thou moments with people via e-mail and social network sites, but too often, if I'm honest with myself, they're just objects with human names....

Friday, October 24, 2008

If We Were in India...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

It Would Be Saturday Morning

We'd be watching Anderson Cooper on the World version of CNN until our driver, Channa came to pick us up for a day downtown. If we were in Bangalore, I'd look out the living-room drapes of the villa we rented at the various types of roses in the front garden and see that it was sunny, and probably cool, but not cold; a salamander might scurry under the fridge when I came into the kitchen to make my Activia yogurt with walnuts and a chopped pear or apple; over breakfast, I might scan marriage classifieds in "The Times of India," with the advertiser's caste specified in many, if not most, cases; Channa would arrive in his silver, Chevy Tavera 4x4 and drive us into town for the day from Whitefield.

If we were fortunate, our friend Chitra and her daughters would meet us at the Blossom Book House on Church Street. And then we'd have lunch at Ebony, including tandoori gobi (cauliflower) or Ruby Tuesday, where at the Bangalore version, I could order paneer marinara with broccoli while everyone else ordered American dishes.

We had no kitties then, but we had each other and local friends from IBM. Now that we have cats named Phoebe and Toonces, Pat coined a couple of new nicknames for them tonight, inspired by P. Diddy: P. Kitty and T. Kitty.

P. Kitty is kneading my right thigh right now, but it's bed-time. She has taken to lounging in a shallow Amazon books box. French Milk, Sweet Tea and my friend Rick Schroeder's book came in that box earlier this week. I've gotta make time for some pleasure-reading!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Who'd Have Guessed?

Phoebe makes me so happy, purring on my lap while I type here, that I've got nearly no drive to communicate. I'm using the excuse of typing to keep her lying here.

I'm wearing my "cat-pants," which are an old pair of charcoal-gray, Girbaud baggy pants, of thick, cotton-jersey, so that she can knead while purring and not scratch my thighs.

Who knew that she could make me feel like a child-like mother? Child-like because she's fun to have as company for petting, and like a mother because I want to ensure her safety and satedness.

I hope I learn to incorporate Phoebe into my creative process less disruptively at some point, but I can't help being joyfully distracted by her meanwhile.

Differentiating Difference Consciousness

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...from Alienation

Tonight, I am conscious of my difference and tonight, I do not feel apart because of it. Tonight, my uniqueness, and everyone else's, feels like a blessing, feels paradoxically unifying.

Driving home from work, I thought about how I had become a bit blaze about human diversity, but how living in India for six months last year re-ignited my sense that there's still a distance to go toward people's routine appreciation of one another's difference.

If only I could be different without ever feeling alienated by my difference. Equally, if only others could seem different to me without my becoming disoriented by their difference. I'm thinking of the time Pat and I visited the Bull Temple in Bangalore, and how not at home I felt, observing worshippers of a two-storey, peanut-oil-covered, stone bull.

I've said this here before: I'm reasonably comfortable, attending ritual circumcision ceremonies of Jewish, male infant relatives...because that's how I was raised. And so if that's comfortable to me, as I've also written here before, then my rituals/customs and beliefs are not better than someone else's; they're just different from one another.

God, please enable me to marvel at difference more routinely, rather than to fear it. Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Michigan Memories

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Prompted by a Social Networking Site

In a LinkedIn discussion among the University of Michigan Alumni group, one of the members asked what people remembered and missed about Michigan.

Here was my response:

I miss Osterweil Co-op, "Harold and Maude" at midnights, the sauna at the NCRB after badminton, the fall colors from the tree-lined pathway that led from the "Burlodge" (Bursley) down to the busstop at the start of North Campus, Vernor's soda (aka pop), Drake's, the great theater troupe that played at East Quad from 1983-87, the reading room at the Grad Library, Ulrich's Bookstore, the Rubiyat, the Nectarine Ballroom, my freshman roommate, Jennifer Weir; I wish I could recall her married name to get in touch with her.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in my first semester at Michigan. Hard to believe! The majority of the things I missed, I realized, re-reading my list, were from experiences I had my first year. Only Osterweil, the Rubiyat and the Nectarine Ballroom were from sophomore and senior year; I lived and studied in Jerusalem at Hebrew University for my junior year.

I'll never forget what a colleague said to me about her time at Michigan; we met when I worked in the Software Group and she had just joined IBM through Lotus:

She said that all of the women she knew who lived in East Quad during college who were heterosexual became lesbians there, and all of the lesbians there became heterosexual. It was in response to my having said that I opted not to live in East Quad, as I thought I could avoid my lesbianism if I did so -- it was known as the "radical" dorm on campus.

My colleague also said, "I'd have been so happy there [at Michigan] if I had been happy then." I related to that assessment.

'60s Music

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

The Songs I Remember Hearing During My Earliest Years

My prior posting about hits from 1973 and 1974 inspired me to look back earlier to the '60s; I found a helpful site. Most of the songs that were familiar, were not familiar to me from that time, but from hearing them when I was older. I was born on July 13, 1965, and yet, I swear I can remember hearing the following songs, playing on the radio, even though the first few were hits before I was born:

  • Blue Velvet - the way Vinton sang the two words, "Blue" and "Velvet" caught my attention and made me imitate him
  • Go Away Little Girl - the singer sounded so sad
  • Leader of the Pack - I enjoyed the sound of the revving engines
  • Monday Monday - their voices were cheerful
  • I'm a Believer - seemed like the wildest of the singing I had ever heard, e.g., "...yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...."
  • Age of Aquarius - this was on the radio all the time and put me in a hopeful mood, but I wasn't sure why
  • Dizzy - I could relate to this one as a little kid; I knew what it felt like to be dizzy from spinning around and around till I fell down
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane - this was a favorite of one of the older sisters of a girl with whom we jumped on the trampoline at Stamford's Jewish Community Center on Briar Brae Road.

I'm Still Hungry...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

To Do Any Sort of Blogging -- Whether Clever or Not

During my commute home the other evening, I said, "Mom, we're going to the Cat Show at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. I know you can't relate [-- my mom has not had pets since she was a young girl --] but our cats give me the purest, most innocent pleasure. I just love it when they're curled up in my lap."

"Don't you think you gave me such pleasure?" my mother asked, "You were darling babies."

"I was a good baby, you said, wasn't I? Not colicky, right?"


Days later, I'm still thinking about my mother's analogy. I can only imagine the delight that babies give their parents when they're being adorable -- not only the cuteness itself, but the marvel that the darling babies actually came from their own bodies.

"I can totally see why people are ok with adopting kids," I said, "Because we adopted these cats and they are seamlessly part of our family now." Five years ago, Pat and I opted not to adopt a child after I was unable to conceive through nine IUI attempts because my selfishness wanted only a baby that contained my genes.

A New Sort of Love

And I know I missed out by our not raising a child. I know only because I see how easily impressed I am by our kitties. Not having given birth or raised a child, I will never experience that giant joy, where I could take a bit of genetic credit for the child's loveliness. And I know this is hard to write about, as I just fell asleep at the keyboard for a few minutes, though I had a nice night's sleep last night.

Still, genetically ours or not, these cats, Phoebe and Toonces, trigger a mothering love in me that I didn't really know was there -- when I babysat infants, toddlers and young children at ages 13-16, I was more interested in watching "The Love Boat;" "Fantasy Island;" and "Saturday Night Live" on TV and in what I'd eat from the family's fridge and cupboards after the kids went to sleep than in practicing for future motherhood through them.

The cats are much easier to care for, I'm confident, than human children or even dogs, as they require only that we feed them twice a day and that we clean their kitty litter. What's harder is that they are affectionate nearly exclusively when they feel like I've already had mini-heartbreaks since their arrival, i.e., whenever I'm feeling that I want to hold and/or pet one of them, and she's not in the mood. Only autistic children shy away from affection, and I've never heard of an autistic dog; they're almost always eager to be petted or to kiss people around them -- as long as no one has ever abused them.

In "The Wall Street Journal" this weekend, I read an interview of Nobel-Prize-winning author, Doris Lessing, on cats. She talked of one she adopted, who had been abused, and who had hid under her sofa for the whole first year she lived in her home. I thought, Not bad that Toonces came out of the rafters within a couple of weeks!

Toonces had been the pet of a mentally-ill man, who had stopped taking his medication, and so she was super-skittish, and even a bit naughty at first; it's why we named her Toonces, as I think I described in a July blog entry.

With Phoebe, between this posting and the previous one, I tried getting her to dance along with Randy Crawford's and The Crusaders' "Street Life" video on YouTube. She was a good sport. She didn't jump down off of my lap. Also, I showed her a few YouTube videos of cats and when I reached out to touch the one on screen she lunged forward with her paw at the cat and began to climb up on the keyboard. I had to take her down and change the picture on the screen.

Our Cats are Better than Any in the Cat Show

Being at the Cat Show yesterday made me miss Phoebe and Toonces. After walking past portable pet carriers and cage after cage of exotic varieties, I said to Pat, "Who needs this when we have our own show at home?"

When we entered the hall, I was amused by two cages, side by side, each festooned with red, white and blue, of a "Republicat" and "Democat." The Republicat had rich, gray fur and the Democat had a shiny black coat. A woman next to us exclaimed, "Oh, how funny! The Republican one is gray and the Democrat's black!"

Other than that, there was a demo by two Hollywood animal trainers on how to clicker-train your cat to sit and lie down, and to let you brush its teeth, plus some other tricks we'd not try at home, like walking a double tight rope, and then there were rows and rows of cats that were cooped up in nylon and clear plastic carriers, who kept rubbing their bodies against the soft walls, and who made me feel guilty at my freedom.

Cats Don't Think About the Economy Like We Do

Afterwards, we walked in search of lunch and remembered a great place, where we'd been before, Angus McIndoe Restaurant. While we ate, Pat reminded me, as she seems to have done every time we've eaten out in the past several weeks, that is, probably two or three times, "You know, Suze Orman says to stop eating out, but if we do that, then what happens to the restaurants, and to the businesses that supply the restaurants?"

I think about how much more anxious we'd be feeling now if we had succeeded in having a child. And then I remember my own scary childhood during the '70s recession. My dad was out of work for more than a year then. We almost moved to Tehran, where my father thought he would be helping to consult on the building of a toy factory, but the opportunity didn't materialize. That's probably when I began earnestly using bikeriding and radio-music for escapes.

I just found "The Top 100 Seventies Singles," and the ones that moved me most during that scary time, as an eight- and nine-year-old, were, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree;" "Delta Dawn;" "Come and Get Your Love;" "Seasons in the Sun;" and "Sunshine on My Shoulders." Everyone, but "Sunshine," was beat-ful, and most were also cheerful, which have turned out to be my lifelong criteria for my favorite music.

Watching "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, it struck me that a good result of this tumultuous time is how much funny comedy it's yielding. I think everyone's art is going to become more and more inspired and more and more interesting, including mine, I pray.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm Hungry...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

To Recover My Creativity

I want to write about the Cat Show at Madison Square Garden or the Economy or "Saturday Night Live," but I'm feeling too self-conscious.

Today, I decided to give myself the gift of focusing exclusively on my writing, rather than cramming it in around everything else I'm doing. That's turning out to be self-consciousness-producing.

Too bad. It's important to express myself, even if I'm listening too hard to each syllable as my fingertips slowly press it out.

Healthy Pressure

The artists support group I go to on Monday nights has agreed to devote on Monday a month to an Action Plan meeting.

That Monday is tomorrow night. Oy! The Plan will require each of us to declare and commit to what we'll do in a particular period of time to further our art. What I'd rather do today and forever is focus on petting the purring kitty, who's lying in my lap.

It's unnerving to try to figure out more than I'm doing via the blogging. In fact, my blog is far more than I ever did pre-blog to express my voice broadly. I started talking to one of my friends about the concept of the Action Plan and got the sense that committing further to my blog might not qualify as an OK Plan. It seemed that I needed to be paid for my writing, or at least published by someone else, rather than myself (via the blog).

What Would I Wish to Have Published?

That's the problem: I don't feel drawn to write anything that's commercially appealing. At dinner with a friend the other night, he said, "There's definitely a market for memoirs, but they have to be ironic, like David Sedaris' or Augusten Burrough's, and you probably don't want to write like that."

~Giant sneeze and Phoebe, the kitty, claws through my sweatpants as she springs off my lap in fear.~

In 2000, I completed a 180-page, coming-of-age memoir, but have had no desire to continue revising and editing it to make it commercially viable. The blog appeals to me so much because the only sort of writing that interests me in my free-time features my reflections on what I hear and see and experience around me.

If someone were willing to publish the best of my blog entries as a book, that would be wonderful. I just want the writing to be pure pleasure, and not laborious. Chutpah, I know.

Phoebe is back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.



Paul Tillich Called it the Ultimate Animator

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Just Some of My Desires

Desire to fit in. Desire to stand out. Desire to live. Desire to love. Desire for cash. Desire for health. Desire to laugh. Desire to lie. Desire to hurt. Desire to hibernate. Desire to shine. Desire to take. Desire to kvetch. Desire to gossip. Desire not to be gossiped about.

Desire to be loved. Desire. Desire. Desire. Desire. Desire for more. Desire for Halloween candy. Desire to wander. Desire to settle. Desire to refresh. Desire to establish. Desire for redemption. Desire for license. Desire to produce. Desire to create. Desire to procreate. Desire to abstain. Desire to lord over. Desire to be humble.

They'll Sound Like Commands if You Can Relate

Desire to know. Desire to be mystified. Desire to appreciate God. Desire to empathize. Desire to care. Desire to ignore. Desire to deny. Desire to allow. Desire to indulge. Desire to repent. Desire for contrition. Desire for shamelessness.

Desire to cry. Desire to be numb. Desire to penetrate. Desire to be impenetrable. Desire to be understood. Desire to fly. Desire to swim. Desire to sing. Desire to play with our cats. Desire to rest. Desire to energize. Desire to inspire. Desire to dare. Desire to desire. Desire for gratitude. Desire for adventure. Desire to be satisfied.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Channeling My Feelings Through Writing

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...No Matter How Naked I Feel

What if you were somewhat observantly Jewish, and at synagogue during Rosh Hashanah, you found out that one of your friends from another time and place was serving jail-time? Or what if right before Yom Kippur, you learned that another friend had killed himself in the past week?

Would you mourn the memories of the fun you had with these two friends, and then want to escape into fantasy? And what if you were also a lesbian, and serendipitously -- around the time you had this series of tragic news -- a girlfriend from nearly 20 years ago had contacted you through LinkedIn?

Just Like the Summer of '82

During my dad's last summer, and after his death, I wished I could escape my grief through affirming life (in this case, that's a polite way of saying, through sexual activity). I was 17 and managed wholly with another girl, and partly, with a boy.

Whenever I'm faced particularly with the death of a loved one, I want to leave the painful emotion for experiences that are more body-focused. Like now. Why did my friend lose all hope?

I hope tomorrow will be more fun than today. I hope to be recognized as useful and funny by nearly everyone I meet. I hope that 5769 (2008-09) will be a good year. I hope to be honest enough to write what I wish to write here (see below).

Dreaming at Night

Last night, I dreamt that I was going to be intimate with the woman who had found me through LinkedIn. Pat did not even exist in the dream. And in the dream, the object of desire and I had gone to the same nursery school -- not the case in real-life.

Since my mother wasn't home, we headed over to the house, where I grew up. We looked like we were in our 20s again, but we were our current ages.

Unaware of her daughter's and my desire for each other, her mother invited herself over to my mother's house, and then the woman's younger brother appeared at my mother's house as well. (I don't recall if she has a brother in real-life.)

Finally, we excused ourselves and went down the hall to the bedroom of my childhood, where we began to touch [each other] in earnest, and unfortunately, I woke up very soon after she and I were finally alone.


Usually, I call my mother on the way to work or while driving home. Yesterday, her line was busy in the morning, and so I spent the 60-minute commute mostly thinking about the LinkedIn woman. And then after I spoke with my mom during the commute home, I fantasized further about the woman I knew nearly two decades ago.

Her profile-photo was beautiful -- like I remembered her. She had hardly changed. We met on New Year's Day, 1989, if I remember correctly. She was a cellist by avocation, and played at my friend's New Year's potluck brunch. (Was there a more appealingly-shaped musical instrument than the cello, particularly when it was surrounded by her?)

She was tall, blue-eyed, long-necked, with wavy, blond hair to her shoulders, and a flashy, white, exciting smile. Even as I write this, she becomes an object for me again. In hindsight, I ended up feeling guilty at how I objectified her while we were together back then. Still, I see that she has remained more of a focus for my desire than a full-fledged human being.

When will I learn that packages are just that? The description of her that I just provided nearly matches that of another woman with whom I was involved while in my 20s, who was actually male inside; a number of years later, he transitioned to his natural gender.

The daydreaming did not include my above packaging reflection, though. It was strictly about replaying scenes from our ardent time together, like the sub-zero-degree, Chicago night when we stood by the lake and she took my hands out of my mittens and warmed my fingers with her mouth.

Recalling Our One Weekend Away

Something in her resisted being objectified, though, or maybe she was just being romantic and hospitable; right before we broke up -- my rolling stone was incapable of gathering any moss back then -- she invited me to visit her hometown for the weekend, to stay at her mother's. Her mother was kind to me, and -- in real-life as opposed to the dream -- was aware of her daughter's and my relationship. She heated Lender's frozen bagels for our breakfast, since she knew I was Jewish and thought that they'd make me feel more at home -- Wow, nothing like a wonderfully welcome reality-check in the middle of fantasizing:

It Wasn't Suicide!

Our friend's brother just called and said the doctor found that our friend had died of heart-failure. His brother, Pat and I had jumped to the conclusion that it was suicide, since he had been depressed perennially, but probably, it was simply a heart attack.

"Are you sure his brother's not just trying to make us feel better?"

"No," Pat said, "Heart disease runs in their family, his brother said, and that he's got it, too. He had just talked to him on Monday night."

He had died on Tuesday.

We're still not happy that he's dead, but a bit less stricken by the news.

Pat changed computers and didn't have any e-mail from our friend from before mid-2005. Fortunately, I had notes from as far back as 2001. Our friend was *so* funny. He once sent us a photo of himself in high school, with his prom-date.

Pat responded by e-mail, "The things we did to try and fit in. I have a few of these type pics myself. I definitely don't miss those days!!!"

He wrote back, "Yeah, but at least she was a top."

Trying to Borrow Some of Our Friend's (z"l) Sense of Humor

Our friend was hilarious, even when he was sad. Unfortunately, our friend didn't find a lasting love of his own in his lifetime. Pat always prayed to herself, at every Shabbat service we attended, after the silent Amidah, that he would find love. He wanted to find a partner, but wasn't lucky like Pat and me.

Wow, that really helps bring me back from fantasy-land -- appealingly distracting as it was when I wished to be distracted -- to remind me of my gratitude for Pat's and my 16-plus-year relationship. This isn't where I express guilt for having had my day and a half's worth of reminiscing about a past girlfriend. I could go on about her further, but now, I'm no longer in the mood, as reality's even better, all told.

If only the jailed friend turned out to be untrue! I pray that my friend's able to find peace, and yes, even laughter again ultimately, if not while still in prison.

Aren't I blessed, though? I mean, how lucky to have the luxury of thinking back to a time of delayed-adolescent behavior from the vantage-point of someone, who managed to become reliable and monogamous.

Do I sound authentically pleased right now? I'm not sure. I do miss the adventurousness of then, but not at all the loneliness before and after practically every experience with every woman I ever dated back then.

Our friend's legacy was that we should keep laughing. With Pat, I can do that. Pre-Pat, life was funny only when I was in the company of friends like the one, who went to jail. My other funniest friend, pre-Pat, died of AIDS. Nothing's funny about either one's fate...nor about our friend's -- the one, who just died -- but at least, it was likely a matter of nature, taking over, and not our friend, opting to end his life due to hopelessness. All we can do is keep laughing for as long as we last. Laughter is the voice of hope.

Phoebe's First Blog Entry

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I'm Just Taking Dictation

Why are you wearing these silly, nylon track-pants? How'm I supposed to get any traction as I perch on your lap? Suit yourself. You'll regret it once I start my kneading routine, which!

If I keep head-butting your arms, will you stop typing and notice my purring self?

I've had it! I'm getting off of your lap and onto your desk. I'm going to rub my face along the left side of your computer and wag my brown and gray striped tail at you because it disarms you.

Here I come again. I'd rather your imperfect lap to that hard, wooden thing your computer's perched on -- More kneading -- You'll never wear these pants again when you blog. You'll know better.

I do prefer to be affectionate when you're typing at your computer. When you're available and try to pet me, it's so much less fun. I like to look at you with a mysterious expression in my eyes -- hey, my claws keep getting caught on this weird fabric! -- and make you pay attention, but if you won't, well, I'll bathe myself. To do that, one of my claw-tipped paws will anchor me on your thigh.

Yes, I'm purring because even though you're not really regarding me right now, you're a handy bathtub, if a slippery one.

While I'm bathing, I'll send you my thoughts psychically, rather than talking with you directly, as I've been doing up to now: ~~You know, your friend, Marni, is likely correct about the pine-dust kitty litter she recommended. Probably it is better for my sister and me than the clay stuff.

We do like that chicken and liver Fancy Feast stuff, though. We could eat that for every meal! The salmon kind? Not so much.~~

Bath over. What now? More bathing. I missed a spot. More anchoring. More purring. More gazing. More lounging. More mite-evicting by shaking my head. More curiosity. More fur on your keyboard, as you just noticed. Still, you adore me and I know it, and I work it, and I guess you're tolerable yourself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On the Eve of the Eve

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement is Nearly Here

About what do I feel penitent, looking back on this year?

  • I spent more time working and studying for school than with my family
  • Watching TV took more free-time than I gave to myself to be creative
  • Swimming didn't always happen thrice a week
  • Nor did blogging
  • .
  • .
  • .

How Do I Hope to Spend 5769?

In a way that prevents me from listing the same items next year!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Heart Art

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I Crave It, Too

The only good part of the summer during which my father was dying was my tour-guide internship at the Museum of Philosphy, which had space at Hunter College in New York City for only a single stretch of several months. With my dad, wasting away at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital uptown, I was feeling pretty philosophical, though I had never before been attracted to Philosophy.

That summer, I learned about Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill among many other philosophers. This week's "New Yorker" includes an article on Mill and I enjoyed reading it and being reminded of that heavy, delightful, heavy summer.

Before reading the article, I never knew that Mill had suffered from a crushing depression and had gotten himself out of it two years later, in 1828, by reading poetry, particularly that of Wordsworth and Coleridge. And then Mill also became a fan of the art displayed in Italian churches of that time, and loved Mozart.

The "New Yorker" critic made Mill delicious to me:
Mill's theory of freedom...-- that people want a rich life where knowledge increases, new discoveries are made, and new ideas found, where art flourishes and science advances. If you don't want that kind of society, you don't want liberty, in Mill's sense.

What a perfect vision of liberty -- to include people, making and valuing art.

Art Gives My Rabbi, and Me, Hope

Rabbi Kleinbaum opted to deliver her sermon for Rosh Hashanah, Day 1, in town-hall style this year, and invited live questions from the congregants. The last of them asked, "What still makes you hopeful?"

"Art, and human relationships and the natural world," she responded.

I love art, too, and tonight, especially the R&B-musical kind. Driving home from my haircut and dinner with my mom, I blasted WBLS-FM and KISS-FM alternately, depending on which one was playing the best song.

Robin Thicke's "Magic Touch" came on and a bunch from the late-80s, including an all-time favorite, Shalamar's "Second Time Around." A new song I didn't hear, unfortunately, was Estelle's "American Boy," featuring Kanye West. Mozart, it's not, and I love it!

Last weekend, I saw a reference to Oliver Sacks' book on music and the brain, Musicophilia. I wish I had time to read it...maybe at the end of December, between semesters.

I'm just now recalling how touched I was, driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge to Armonk last week, radio channel-surfing until I stopped at WCBS-FM; the DJ was saying, "In honor of Rosh Hashanah, we're showcasing Jewish artists, and here's 'One Fine Day' by Carole King."

What a contrast to the invisibility/inaudibility of Rosh Hashanah while we were in India last year.

Art, and Artists, as Imperative

A couple of weeks ago, a visual artist-friend showed a bunch of us a presidential-campaign-related painting she had just finished.

"It's too angry, too political, I know," she said, looking at the floor.

"No, don't apologize," said another visual artist, "That's the artist's job. It's your job [to paint social commentary if that's what you're moved to paint. Who else can comment so profoundly?]"

I'm reminded of a conversation from last night. Since non-Jewish friends were visiting from Florida, we didn't go to synagogue for Shabbat services. Instead, we ate at the new Falafel Hut on Bellevue in Upper Montclair. Over baba ghanouj and chicken kabob, I described some of the art of my friend Riva Lehrer.

"Riva does portraits of people with disabilities, illuminating their humanity," I said, and started describing the one that featured a guy in a wheelchair, holding an umbrella, with lit Chanukah candles, sticking out of the end of each umbrella-spoke. "The skill she has is phenomenal, and her art is all so utterly original, and she's an amazing writer, communicator. You could talk with her for hours and not feel that much time had passed."

How lucky I am to know someone with Riva's brain and artistic gifts. She's the friend that told me some months ago that I didn't necessarily need to be a best-selling writer, but that certainly, I was endowed with a unique voice that was no one else's and for that reason, I was entitled, and welcome, to write. All of us are...or to paint, draw, sing, play and/or write music, dance, sculpt, film-make....No one else has our voice.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Future

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

You Never Know...

Today, I celebrated a quarter century of IBM service by my friend David Chase. David's partner Gerard, his mother Judy and a number of other colleagues and I ate a festive lunch with him at Chantarelle. IBM has been David's employer since before his graduation from RPI; he worked as a co-op (intern) while still a student, and the intern service counted toward the 25 years.

Clearly, everyone at the table loved David. That was a nice feeling -- to be with other people who appreciated David.

As lovely as it was to celebrate the friend I've had for the longest time at IBM, I sat at the gorgeous round table with the thick linen napkins and table-cloth, feeling self-absorbed in parallel (what's new?): Will I also get to celebrate 25 years of service at IBM? What will I be doing at work by then? What will I be doing for the seven years in between now and then? Will my mother still be alive to help me celebrate? What will the world be like in seven years?

Life is a Surprise

During Day 1 of Rosh Hashanah, I ran into a friend from 17 years ago, during my early years of living in Chicago.

"You look familiar to me. Did you grow up in Stamford?" I asked.


What's your name?"

He told me.

"The name's familiar, too."

"Well, it's a pretty common name."

He looked at me and asked, "Did you ever live in Chicago?"


"What's your name?"

"It's Sarah Siegel!"

"Sarah!" and then a huge hug.

We had met at Or Chadash, Chicago's gay (back then, that's what it was referred to as, rather than GLBT) synagogue in 1991.

That year, I became friends with three Jewish, gay men around my age, and the distinguished-looking-salt-and-pepper-haired guy in front of me was one of them. We all met at High Holiday services and hung out for a year or so, till this guy moved away for his job, and then another of them, my friend Robert, left town to go home to his parents, where he died of AIDS. The third guy, we lost touch with.

In 1991, when everything still seemed carefree for all of us -- though Robert likely was sick already and none of us knew it -- they were therapeutic for me; I was unable to be friends with most of the boys in my class at the Modern Orthodox Jewish day school I attended, growing up, and here, it was like I was with those same boys, who loved and cared about Judaism, but who could relate to me, and so who were much more fun.

The unexpected Rosh Hashanah reunion hit the spot. I introduced my '91 friend to Pat and said that I had met her right after the year we had spent, hanging out, and that we'd been together ever since. He was not currently in a relationship and I found myself feeling sickly competitive; he seemed to be further ahead in his career than I was in mine, but I had a partner. I felt ashamed of my competitiveness, but also glad that I had Pat more than needing to be at the top of my field yet.