"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


--So today is Purim, a wonderfully fun, one day holiday.  Allow me to tell you more about it.  First I will summarize the story, which comes form the Biblical book of Esther; I have told it here before, but that was a couple years ago, and I don't expect everybody remembers.  After I tell the story, I will share how I personally am celebrating this year.

--The story:

  1. The Purim story takes place in the lands of Persia and Media.  King Ahashverosh (as I said yesterday, this is a transliteration of his Hebrew name, because I can't spell the English version) has a party which lasts for 180 days and nights.  After a while, he invites his queen, Vashti, to join him; legend has it he wants her to come naked.  For whatever reason, Vashti refuses to come, and the king has her banished or beheaded, depending whom you ask.
  2. After a while, the king is lonely and wants a new queen.  He decides to hold a beauty pageant.  A Jewish maiden named Esther is living with her uncle or cousin (the Hebrew wording is ambiguous) Mordecai, who encourages her to go try.  However, he also cautions her not to tell her Jewish identity.  Esther follows Mordecai's instructions faithfully, and wins the contest. She is now the queen.
  3. There is in the land a wicked man named Haman, an adviser to the king.  Haman wants all the people in the land to bow down to him, but Mordecai refuses because he is a Jew and bows only to God.  Haman's anger flares up until he wants to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews of the land.  He gets the king to sign off on it, and a date is set for the massacre.
  4. Upon hearing this news, Mordecai turns to Esther and pleads with her to go before the king.  Esther at first responds that nobody can go before the king without an invitation.  Mordecai then tells her that perhaps she was placed in the palace just for this.  Moreover, if she does not help the Jewish people, help will arise for them from another corner and they will be saved, while Esther herself will perish.
  5. Esther responds "if I perish, I perish" and appears before the king uninvited.  The king grants her request for him and Haman to appear at a dinner party that evening.  At the party, Esther invites them to a second party, and at that party, she reveals Haman's plan to the king.
  6. Haman is hanged on the very gallows he built for Mordecai, along with his ten sons.  The Jews of Persia and Media are allowed to take up arms and fight back on the day of the "massacre"...and they win.
--How I personally celebrate:
  1. I went to synagogue last night to hear the reading of Esther.  One is obligated to hear every word, but I quickly gave up because there were so many children running around making noise. Sami came dressed as "the Broadway version of Peter Pan" because his costume was brown, not green.  Creative, Sami, very creative...so creative, in fact, that he won the synagogue's "most creative" award.  I went wearing my gay pride kippah...Purim is the only night/day I feel comfortable in it.
  2. Today when I get dressed (I let myself sleep late because I got home late, and now I'm doing this blog post) I will wear a ladies' tallit katan, my fancy bobby pins, my gay pride kippah, and my rainbow flowered skirt.
  3. I am taking a day off from graduate school applications and looking for work.
  4. Several people at the synagogue gave me mishloah manot, gifts of food items, mainly hamentaschen (special triangular cookies with various fillings) and candy.  I have been allowing myself to enjoy them, on the understanding that this is all the junk food I get this week.  During the reading of Esther, I ate all my hamentaschen (remember, I had been fasting all day) and most of Sami's.  Sami is vegan and doesn't eat sugar, and offered me whatever I wanted from his mishloah manot; I took the hamentaschen, and not much else.
  5. I plan to read the Book of Esther again, in English, as my Bible reading for the day.
--And...there you have it! That's Purim.

--And...please meet "BAYLEE," aging out in JUNE.  Her birth date says 2004 but that must be a misprint; they must mean 2002 or she wouldn't be on that page.  "Baylee" is dealing with meningocele.

Baylee (1)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ta'anit Esther

--(No, I didn't get the job yesterday; I just didn't think that was worth a whole separate blog post.  And, yes, I can replace the strings on the damaged tallit katan.)

--Today is ta'anit Esther, the fast of Esther, the day before Purim, which starts tonight.  (I love Purim; watch for a delightful post tomorrow.)  The following is how I observe fast days:

  1. Obviously, I am fasting.  This one is sunup to sundown, so I actually got up way early (4:45 am) to eat something, then went back to sleep for a while.  Because of my medications, I have to keep drinking, but I only drink water and I fast from all food.  I will break my fast tonight after the reading of the Scroll of Esther in the synagogue.
  2. There is a special prayer called Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, our King) that is recited on fast days and the Ten Days of Repentance.  When I pray today, I will recite it.
  3. I am wearing my special kippah that I save for fast days, Israel's memorial day, and Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It is the more somber looking of my two black velvet ones.  I originally bought it to thumb my nose at the ultra-Orthodox (it is the style their men wear); now I have it for a more important reason.
--And there you have it! That is how I observe ta'anit Esther.

--EDITED TO ADD: I really like including a picture with each entry, at least one, now that I've gotten in the habit of it.  Usually that picture is a Reece's Rainbow aging-out kid; often that one picture is enough.

Today's child, "Fritz," however, does not have a picture, most likely because he is from a country that does not allow pictures to be shared publicly.  (I know Latvia is such a country; that's the only one I know for sure, but I'm certain there must be others.)

 Also, I am wearing my favorite tee shirt today, because yes, the weather is warm enough for tee shirts, in March! I got this one from my college's Hillel.  It is red and black, my college colors, with the name of my college in Hebrew; those who read Hebrew will now know where I went to college.  I do try to keep my whereabouts private on the internet, but since I'm no longer at that school, I think showing this shirt is OK.

 I tried to take the shot from above, to include my fast day kippah; I took three shots, but it just wasn't working, so I gave up.  If you go back to the post with the kippot grouped by color, it's the one on your right in the picture of the black ones; I am using plain black clips with it, first because it's black, so the clips match; and second because it is thick and heavy, and needs strong clips, which my fun weekday ones aren't.  Anyway, here's today's photograph.

--EDITED A SECOND TIME TO ADD: I literally just realized, after writing the first "edited to add," putting in the selfie, and proofreading, that I forgot to include the reason we fast today! We fast today because in the Book of Esther, when Queen Esther commits to going before King Ahashverosh (not how he's referred to in the English, but I can't spell the way he's referred to in the English, so I am transliterating the Hebrew) uninvited, she announces: "if I perish, I perish."  She then commits to three days of fasting and prayer, and asks that all the Jews of the kingdom fast with her...and they do.  We fast today to remember their fast.  My father's attitude is "I'm not fasting for a fairy tale" (direct quotation).  I definitely respect that attitude, because I believe the Book of Esther is a fairy tale, too, and in past years, I have not fasted on this day.  However, this year I am obsessed with doing every possible Jewish thing I can, so today, I am fasting.

--And, please meet "FRITZ," aging out NEXT JUNE, and diagnosed with Down syndrome.  "Fritz" has no picture.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Semi-Devastation and my Brilliant Fix-It Idea

--Just enough time to blog before I leave for a job interview (watch for a post later today or tomorrow about that), so I will tell this story.

--First, the semi-devastation: I was at the laundromat yesterday, doing my weekly load that does not go through the dryer.  In that load, I always have my tallitot k'tanot.  They are supposed to go in some sort of bag so the strings don't tangle.  I use a pillowcase and tie a big knot at the top; normally this works fine.  Even if it opens up a bit, the garments usually stay inside.  Well, yesterday, my pillowcase opened up, and all the tallitot k'tanot came out.  When the washing machine finished, I was faced with one big tangle of string.  While I was standing at the counter in the laundromat, carefully and patiently untangling, a string broke off in my hand.  It wasn't just any string, either; that's a relatively cheap and easy fix.  No--you guessed it--this was a special blue string.  When I got back, I looked for where the string had broken off.  I was prepared for the worst, because I was holding an eighteen inch or so piece of string in my hand, which meant there couldn't be much left on the tallit katan.  And I was right: not even all the wound-around part of that string is still there, let alone any hang-down.  It's obvious that this set, whose kashrut was really always in doubt because the blue was not from the right source, is now definitely pasul, not kosher, not wearable.

--Now, here's my brilliant fix-it idea: a new tallit katan, the cheapest I could find, would cost about 14 dollars plus shipping.  That's not horrible, but my family doesn't have a lot of money right now, so any money I can save them is a good thing.  I do need to somehow get another wearable tallit katan, because right now I have exactly seven including two ladies' sets, and I like to save the ladies' sets for dressy occasions and Rosh Hodesh only.  But I had this wonderful idea: what if I untie and remove the current strings, and just replace them with all white? New, real blue strings cost upwards of 50 dollars, and now that we've seen that these strings can break in the wash, I wouldn't want the expensive kind in case this happens again.  But I can get a good set of 16 (four for each corner) wool (required material, unless you know what material the garment is, in which case you can use that too) plain white strings for four dollars plus shipping...under ten dollars total.  While I absolutely do not trust myself with the special blue strings, I know how to tie the plain white, I've done it four times in my life (tallit katan in high school, tallit gadol in high school, corner repair for a tallit katan whose string I accidentally snipped to thumb length while working on a sewing project, Hannukah gift tallit katan last winter), and I am absolutely prepared to do it again.

--And...please meet "TARA."  She's from my "Jacob's" country (I have a soft spot for these kids, both for the obvious reason and because they age out two years younger than kids elsewhere), and she is aging out in SEPTEMBER.  "Tara" has Down syndrome.  I am doing something I have never done before.  "Tara" has two pictures posted.  I can't decide which one is better, so I am posting them both.  Here they are:

Tara (1)Tara (2)

Monday, March 21, 2016

My New Plan

I feel the need to blog a third time today, even though that means my World Down Syndrome Day post will get "sandwiched."  So be it.

I have been, as my Christian acquaintances would say, convicted recently.  (That's so not a Jewish term, but I don't have a better one!) In particular, the Maxwell family, who blog at www.titus2.com, have convinced me of something.

I need to be reading my Bible daily.  Period, no argument, this is something Christianity got right that most of Judaism did not.

I thought long and hard before I made this decision.  I also pray three times daily (well, most days; I don't usually manage Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings, but I do usually manage all the other times), and I am committed to reading a psalm, and a segment of a work of Jewish theology, every day as well.  I do not want to give any of that up.

So.  This is the plan: I pray three times a day, and I have three "extra" readings.  I will simply correspond one of each to one of the other.  In the mornings, I will pray, then read a psalm.  In the afternoons, I will pray, then read my Bible.  In the evenings, I will pray, then read theology.

I am unsure yet what I will do when/if I miss a prayer time, if I will do the reading associated with it later, or skip that for that day, too.

Oh, and I will once again be embarking on reading the Bible cover to cover, Genesis 1 to 2 Chronicles 36.  And, yes, in English.

Now, this is "CHAD."  Just to be different, I had wanted to grab a boy without Down syndrome or HIV this time, but I can't say no to this sweet face.  "Chad" will age out NEXT APRIL, and is diagnosed with Down syndrome.


A Very Important Post (World Down Syndrome Day)

I didn't notice this until I went on Reece's Rainbow to grab "Adam's" picture (see previous entry), and then I decided this topic was so important it deserved an entry all its own, so I am posting again.


I'm not really sure what to say about that.  I've seen Down syndrome up close and personal twice in my life.  "Emily's" younger sister (let's call her "Jordan") has Down syndrome and autism; the Summer that "Emily" took me and "Julie" home with her every Sabbath (because the college was basically closed, and "Julie" lived about two and a half hours away, and I five hours), I interacted a little bit with "Jordan."  I definitely have one very sweet story.

I was alone in "Emily's" bedroom, sprawled across the very big bed, reading a book, and "Jordan" came in.  Very vaguely, she said, "Hi."  Naturally, I turned around and responded, "Hello."  Jordan then kissed the back of her hand, saying "Mwha," and laid it against my cheek.

The other sweet story comes from when I was in high school.  My high school always hosted the local Special Olympics because we had good athletic facilities, and all the students volunteered.  One year, I think my senior year, my job was to put the medals around the necks of athletes who had won medals, and hand ribbons to the others.  (It was guaranteed that there would be enough medals/ribbons for every athlete who competed to win something.)  It was after a competition with five athletes; I had put the first, second, and third place medals around the necks of the corresponding athletes, and handed ribbons to the other two.  I was about to turn away when I noticed the boy who came in fifth holding his ribbon against his chest, and trying to get my attention.

I turned back and asked if he would like me to pin the ribbon on his chest, and he puffed up with pride and nodded.  Gingerly, very carefully (remember this was my first ever up-close experience with Down syndrome), I pinned the ribbon to his shirt, and he just looked so very proud of himself! Naturally, then, I was proud of myself.

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, it goes without saying that I now consider myself close to Down syndrome.  Three out of my four Reece's Rainbow assignments have had it! ("Grady", my first, is the only one who didn't.)  I am committed to one day adopting a little girl with Down syndrome; she will need me, and in some way, on a gut level I don't understand, I will need her, too.

So that's my connection to Down syndrome.  Sorry this is not a more universally meaningful post; it's the best I could come up with.

Now, to share a Reece's Rainbow aging-out girl.  For this entry, I had wanted to choose someone with Down syndrome, to fit the theme of the day.  However, I can find no more girls with Down syndrome on the aging-out page, and this beautiful child is calling to me, so to speak. So, please meet "ALISSA," aging out in the next EIGHTEEN MONTHS, HIV+ and no other disabilities! HIV is so very very manageable; please someone see her, and take a leap of faith!

A Note About Skirts/Skorts, and Jewish Pride

--First, a note about skirts/skorts.  First off, the teal skort actually mostly fits in the waistband, which is nice for two reasons.  Number one, it's one less thing to have altered, which means one less price to pay.  Number two, it's one of my five favorite warm-weather skirts/skorts; the others are the other skort (gray poplin), my long pink cotton print skirt, and the stretchy skirts, which I have in two colors.

--Secondly, I have decided on a material for my new skort.  I want to get one in khaki twill; I love wearing any shade of brown (I can only get away with it in skirts/skorts, never close to my skin, but I still love it), and besides twill is rugged and khaki is the ultimate "getting dirty" color.  The whole point of this garment is to have something to wear when clambering around on rocks, in woods, and in streams/creeks; a rugged material in a "getting dirty" color is perfect for that.

--Third, Sami and I have settled on a price for the alterations he is doing for me.  I am paying him ten dollars an item; he agreed to that so readily that it reminded me of the story of Abraham buying the Cave of Machpelah as a burial place.  The local ruler offered it to him for free, but did it saying, "What is 400 shekels of silver between friends?" From this, Abraham knew that he was supposed to pay 400 shekels of silver, and pay that he did.

--By the way, the kind of familiarity with the Hebrew Bible that allowed me to think of the story of the purchase of the Cave, and mention it above, is what started me on my Bible reading project a couple years ago.  I wanted to know what was in my Bible; there were books I had never read at all, and I only had passing knowledge of the ones I had.  I like my current knowledge level much better; I am even considering going through my Bible a second time!

--Now: the point of this entry: Jewish pride.  Today I had what I consider a longish walk, probably ten or eleven blocks in each direction, to print a copy of my resume for a job interview tomorrow that requested a hard copy (!!!).  I like to sing, out loud, when I am walking alone, because it makes the walk seem shorter; with current pain symptoms (I am Ketamining again the 28th-31st; yes, I welcome any and all prayers during that time) that is no small feat.  Today, on my walk home, I decided I was going to sing only Jewish/Hebrew songs.

--I started off with "Lo Alecha."  The title means "It is not upon you;" the lyrics go "It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it; may the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our day."  When I sing it, I go through the whole thing twice, and then repeat the second part (after the semicolon) one last time after that.

--After "Lo Alecha," I sang "Yerushalayim shel Zehav," or "Jerusalem the Golden."  This song was written by Naomi Shemer, about how wonderful it would be to have peace in Jerusalem, and how we must never forget about Jerusalem.  It has a slower tempo than I usually like when walking, but today, it somehow worked out.

--Next, I sang "BaShana HaBa'ah," "Next Year."  BaShana HaBa'ah also talks about peace in the land of Israel: children playing tag, eating grapes on a porch in the evening, and the white dove of peace.  This is one of my three all-time favorite songs (the others being Battle Hymn of the Republic and Moment Made for Worshiping); I used to sing it to myself when I was a little girl in need of comfort, to reassure myself that the situation I was in wouldn't last forever, and that eventually I would come to the future, and it would be good.

--I finished up my walk with "Al Kol Eileh:" "On All This/These." "Al Kol Eileh" is written from the point of view of a man leaving home (we are not told why) who wants everything to be the same when he returns.  He is not asking for only good; I find the chorus particularly poignant.  A translation of the chorus would read, "On all these, on all these, guard them, my Good God; on the honey and on the sting, on the bitter and the sweet."

--Now, I am introducing today's Reece's Rainbow child.  This is a boy I have passed over several times when I needed a girl, but today is his day to be featured on my blog.  Please meet "ADAM," aging out not this year but sometime in the next maximum EIGHTEEN MONTHS.  "Adam" has Down syndrome and "autistic traits."

Adam 2014_2

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Update on the Skirt Scenario

--Today, despite the fact that the weather is anything but warm, I am wearing my last warm weather skirt; I needed to finish compiling my "To Take In/Not To Take In" list.  It is the black flowered cotton.  The flowers are in rainbow colors, so naturally, I am wearing my gay pride kippah.  I wrote last night that I haven't accepted myself enough to wear this kippah in public, and I haven't, but I'm not going anywhere today, and I consider this skirt and kippah to be a set; that is to say, wearing one obligates me to wear the other.

--My new-but-already-close synagogue friend, Sami, runs an art gallery and makes all his own clothes.  He had offered to take the skirts/skorts in for me, free of charge.  I had said no, because I felt guilty, and also because I would have to bring them to him on the Sabbath, which is doing business, which I thought isn't allowed.  My father told me just now that I should take Sami up on his offer, while suggesting that I pay him whatever he would like to charge as long as it's less than, or the same as, what I would pay to have the work done at a "real" place.  (Not that Sami isn't real, I just don't have another word for what I mean.)  The cheapest "real" place I had found would have charged a total of 100 dollars (20 dollars an item for five items); I will pay Sami anything up to that, and I'm almost sure he won't ask for that much.

--I apparently have 13 warm weather skirts/skorts.  (For those who don't know--and Sami didn't, so maybe some of you don't either--a skort is a skirt with shorts inside.  Because I got mine from a religious Christian site, the shorts part is almost as long as the skirt part, and by today's standards, the skirts are long, though they are shorter than my normal skirts from that site.  I have two skorts, one light gray with dark gray shorts, and one teal with very slightly darker teal shorts, and they are very useful for modesty.)  Eight of them, including all my fancy Sabbath-and-holiday ones, still fit; five need taking in.  Here is a list of the ones that still fit, in the order that I wore them to test them out:

  1. Short denim (bought at Covered Girl Clothing, about a half hour walk from my college, an Orthodox Jewish clothing store)
  2. "Modesty trainer" (very tight in waistband and form, hence the name; one-size-fits-all from China)
  3. long brown poplin (bought from myculottes.com, where I also got the skorts described above)
  4. long fancy blue (very tight in waistband, but I adore the look, one-size-fits-all from China)
  5. long pink print cotton (bought from myculottes.com; yes, I have a lot of their stuff, because it is pretty, modest yet easy to move in, and cheap [skirts are 20 dollars for cotton and poplin, 23 dollars for twill and denim; skorts are 25 dollars for cotton and poplin, probably 28 dollars or so for twill and denim])
  6. White flouncy (I've had this one for years, so no idea where I got it, sorry)
  7. Purple flowered fancy (Again, had it for years, so no idea where I got it; I wore this, with the matching orange-and-purple flowered blouse, for the first time for the Jewish New Year my freshman year of college [2011])
  8. Long black flowered cotton (bought from myculottes.com)
--Here is a list of the five that need taking in.  This list is not in the order I wore them, but rather in the order that I need them adjusted, so that I can have them back.

  1. Gray skort (bought from myculottes.com)
  2. Teal skort (bought from myculottes.com)
  3. Medium denim (really I should call this my long denim, since I no longer have three denims [my original long denim was from myculottes.com, and got lost either when I moved from college to my parents' home, or when I moved from there to NYC]; bought from Covered Girl Clothing, which has a wonderful selection of denims if you're willing to spend some money)
  4. Coral pink stretchy (also from Covered Girl Clothing; cheaper than the denims; not sure what the material is, but I love the feel!)
  5. Royal blue stretchy (exactly the same as the coral pink stretchy, but in blue)
--I have decided that if my parents are OK with it, I would like one new clothing item this Spring/Summer.  Originally I wanted to replace my long denim, but I still have two other denim skirts, and they're serving me well.  Rather, what I want is a denim or twill skort...something really rugged for clambering around in creeks and woods, because yes, at age 23, I still do that.

--Now, I am introducing "JUSTINE," aging out NEXT JUNE.  "Justine's" diagnoses are rather complex: congenital microcephaly, autism, and facial features of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, though no one knows that last one for sure.  Still, please, please, please, someone SEE her!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kippot, by Color

A while back (I think this past Summer), I photographed, and posted pictures of, each of my kippot individually.

My kippah collection is my pride and joy.  There have been some new additions since the last post, and I wanted to show them off differently.  Therefore, I have now taken photographs of my kippot grouped by color.  I began with the colors of which I had the most, and ended with the colors of which I had fewest.  I will caption the pictures, too.


Purple (picture shown previously): Top: hand painted silk by designer Yair Emanuel, crocheted bought in Israel.  Middle: hand embroidered hat by designer Yair Emanuel.  Bottom: dark purple suede from my own Bat Mitzvah, lavender suede from "Emily's" wedding.

Blue: Left to Right: free from last week's Bar Mitzvah; free from a Bat Mitzvah, handmade by the family, internal clip; "pajamas kippah" (I wear it with night gowns), which I've had so long I don't remember getting it; navy suede from my high school graduation; machine embroidered, raw silk by designer Yair Emanuel.

Red: Left to Right: machine embroidered, raw silk by designer Yair Emanuel; machine embroidered silk by designer Yair Emanuel; inherited from family; Etsy purchase.

Pink: Left to Right: machine embroidered raw silk by designer Yair Emanuel; pink suede from my own Bat Mitzvah; machine embroidered raw silk by designer Yair Emanuel.

Brown: Left to Right: Standard US Army issue; handmade by the women of Uganda's Jewish community; Yair Emanuel raw silk.

Multicolored/Random: Left to Right: First kippah I can remember receiving, gift from my father when I was eight; second kippah I can remember receiving, gift from my father when I was ten; gay pride kippah (total waste of money, as I have not yet accepted myself enough to wear it in public).

Gray: Left to Right: free with older brother's Bar Mitzvah tallis, by designer Gabrieli; free with my Bat Mitzvah tallis, by designer Yair Emanuel (used to be purple, now very faded).

Black: Left to Right: Black velvet from younger brother's Bar Mitzvah; black velvet ultra-Orthodox style, totally purchased to thumb my nose at them.

White: Bottom/Left: machine embroidered raw silk by designer Yair Emanuel; Top/Right: found in family drawer.

Now...please meet "DIXON."  "Dixon" ages out NEXT  MARCH.  He is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Negative and a Positive

--The negative: my new psychiatrist did not work out.  He was tremendously late for my appointment and he barely spoke enough English to carry on a conversation, but I would have been willing to overlook those two things were it not for the other two.  The other two were that he didn't like my medications (automatically thought I was on too many, couldn't deal with Ketamine) and doesn't allow his patients to see therapists outside his practice.  Especially after that last one, the decision was a no-brainer.  I have a therapist whom I know, love, and trust; I can't say any of that about this doctor. So now it's back to square one.

--The positive: the Sabbath is starting in just a couple hours, and I have a special treat waiting for me! This morning I finished my David Hartman book, The God Who Hates Lies.  Now I move on to Lawrence Kushner's River of Light, which is my absolute favorite Jewish theology/philosophy book I have ever read.  I am saving it as a special treat for the Sabbath.

--Now, please meet "AURORA," aging out NEXT MAY.  "Aurora" has brain damage.

Aurora (1)

This and That: The Sequel: Mainly About my New Psychiatrist (part I), and Clothing, and Something Sad

--In just a few hours, I will be meeting with a potential new psychiatrist.  This is a big step in getting settled into living in the city (I've been working by phone with my current/former psychiatrist, which is not as good), and I am very excited and a little nervous.  He speaks Russian; no I don't know why I care.  Also, his first name (withheld for privacy) is a foreign form of Alexander; my family and I joke that I collect foreign Alexanders, because I also have two friends with that name root.

--How did I pick this psychiatrist? Simple.  I googled my insurance, "psychiatrists," and "NYC."  All the others that were convenient to get to had at least one negative review, if only about office staff; I don't want to have to deal with that.  This doctor had chosen not to have reviews showing; however, I figured a lack of reviews was better than the presence of negative reviews.

--What do I need in a psychiatrist? First of all, I need someone who is accepting of my unconventional Judaism.   (The kippah on a woman is not as unconventional as most people seem to think; the tallit katan on a woman absolutely is.)  I'm pretty sure that will happen; the doctor in question does, after all, have his office in Manhattan.  Secondly, I will need someone who will not "run screaming for the hills" (my mother's terminology; I love it!) when s/he sees how many medications I'm on.  I am open to adjustments; and my current/former psychiatrist and I have been trying to lower things recently, so I even have data as to what is safe to lower and what isn't.  I am not open to dropping a whole bunch of things really far all at once.

--I reversed which skirt I am wearing today, and which Sunday, in honor of this appointment.  I had been planning to wear my long black cotton skirt with multicolored flowers, with black tights and a denim button-down, today, and my medium denim skirt, with black tights again, and perhaps a purple long-sleeved tee, on Sunday.  I realized yesterday, however, that wearing the black print skirt obligates me to wear my gay pride, rainbow kippah, which I did not want to wear when meeting a stranger for the first time.

--When I thought about my reasoning for not wanting to proclaim my queerness to a new person, I realized it was all about me, not about him.  This is a doctor we're talking about, with an office in Manhattan for goodness' sake; he has to have met queer people, and even queer Jews, before.  No, it's not about him; rather, it's about me completely.  The plain, simple, unfortunate truth is that I still haven't come to terms with my identity.  That will take time, work, and therapy...maybe I'll bring it up at my next therapy appointment.  (I see my therapist once every two weeks; I would have preferred every week, but she's only in the city every other, and she seemed so perfect for me I decided it was OK.  In any case, my next appointment with her is on the twenty-third.)

--I also changed around the rest of my outfit for today.  I am wearing the medium denim (now listed in the "To Take In" column of the "To Take In"/"Not To Take In" list I am compiling) with black tights, but I decided not to wear the purple shirt because I didn't like any of my purple kippah options.  I have my big purple and white "birds and flowers" hat-kippah, which I am obviously not going to wear on a weekday.  My bright, magenta-purple hand painted silk (the one that was supposed to have a blue backdrop, though I have come to like it better this way) I am planning to wear to synagogue tomorrow, so that means it's not an option today.  I have two purple suede, a dark purple from my Bat Mitzvah and a lavender from "Emily's" wedding, but I don't like the suede ones and really try not to wear them.  That leaves my purple and black "kippah srugah" (crocheted kippah) I got in Israel.  It's a very nice kippah--I don't wear it nearly often enough--but it's very small.  I prefer something a little bigger.

--Here's a photograph I took of all my purple kippot:

--I ended up going with a gray check button-down shirt.  The kippah I am wearing is much larger than any of my purple weekday options.  (The suede ones at the bottom and the silk painted one on the top left look much larger than the crocheted one on the top right, but that's a trick of the angle; in reality, all four of the ones in the corners of this photo are basically the same size.  Let it be noted, however, that the one in the center actually is that big.)  It came with my older brother's Bar Mitzvah tallit gadol; I found it in a laundry basket this past Summer, and he said he didn't care if I claimed it, so I did.  It is black and gray with sparkly silver embroidery; the designer is not my favorite Yair Emanuel, but rather Gabrieli (I think).  It's OK: Gabrieli makes nice stuff too, and one cannot have an entire collection by one designer!

--Now, the something sad.  My last Ketamine booster did not have the desired effects; we're doing four days more March 28th-31st.  All of that is to say that there's no way on Earth I can get to and from synagogue in the evening, and then again the next morning.  Therefore, I am not going tonight, because it is important to me to go tomorrow.  Tomorrow I get to see Sami (he doesn't come Friday nights) and give him his military prayer book, for which I know he's been waiting a long time.  Also, the Friday evening service lasts about an hour; on Saturday morning, services are about two-and-a-half hours.  I "get more" if I go on Saturday, so Saturday it is.

--In the same vein, the holiday of Purim is this coming week (23rd in the evening through the 24th); there's no way I'm getting to both services.  I have thought long and hard about which service I want more, and for Purim, I want the evening service.  More people come in the evening (it's not a big-deal holiday, so work is still allowed, and most adults have jobs the next day), and people bring their kids, who tend to be cute.  Lots of people come in costume, too.  (I'm not doing one this year, but I have in years past, and I know Sami will be coming as Peter Pan.)

--One more thing, a good thing, to end with.  While I was turning over my drawers from Winter to Spring (lightweight skirts, lightweight long-sleeve shirts, tights) I discovered a blouse I last fit into in eighth or ninth grade.  I started gaining weight from psych meds when I started a certain anti-psychotic in tenth grade, and after that it was hopeless; however, it looks to me as though I'll be able to fit into it again.  The blouse is white, with white embroidery at the collar, and three quarter sleeves.  I am not sure it will work, but I will try it with a white, flouncy skirt and black tights tonight; I haven't yet decided which hat-kippah and what jewelry I want with it.

--I know you're wondering why I'm bothering to dress up, in a fancy skirt and top, jewelry and a hat-kippah, when I am spending tonight at home.  The answer is both beautiful and simple: the Sabbath is for God, not for people although they are a nice side effect, and even if I stay home, God still sees me.

And now...please meet..."TANNER."  (Just a side note, I have started going from the bottom of the page up instead of from the top of the page down.)  "Tanner" ages out NEXT JULY and is diagnosed with Down syndrome, deafness, and strabismus.

Tanner 2014

Thursday, March 17, 2016

An Unplanned Third Entry...

I think this is my record, three entries in one day; not sure I've ever done this before.


Remember "Dean"? I posted his picture with a blog entry, one of the first.  ("Veronica" was very first; I think "Dean" might have been second.)  Today I noticed "Dean's" picture no longer on the "At-Risk of Aging Out" page.  Fearing the worst, I looked him up by name, and sadly the worst has happened..."Dean" aged out.

I knew his chances were against him; I genuinely did know.  He had less than a month left when I got to him, he had a grainy picture, and he's male.  All these factors make him less adoptable.  Still, I feel a connection to each child I post, as if I am "getting to know" him/her.  The children on Reece's Rainbow are not just pictures to me.

"Dean's" future is bleak indeed.  Depending on the extent of his mental delays, he has two possible paths.  Either he will go to a "trade school," to be trained in a menial trade with very little supervision, and he might (ten percent do...) commit suicide before his eighteenth birthday.  If he is "too disabled" for that, he will be sent to a mental institution.  My stomach feels sick just at the prospect...I've seen pictures, and these places aren't pretty, to say the least.

Maybe now you understand why I worry so much about "Dean" and all the others who age out.

But on that note, it's time to share one more.  I wasn't sure I had the heart to continue the effort, and thought maybe I needed a break...but you don't get breaks when you're doing God's work in the world.  So, please meet "CHARLENE," aging out NEXT JULY, and diagnosed with Down syndrome:

Charlene (2)

"Daisy's" Visit Yesterday and Two Other Notes

So now I have accomplished everything I needed to accomplish today, including lunch and afternoon prayers, up until making dinner, which I naturally won't do for a few more hours; here is the promised second blog entry of today.

--For those of you who were wondering, I bought red snapper for dinner tonight because it was the weekly special, it's kosher, and it just happens to be my second favorite fish.  (First is mackerel, last week's special!) I asked for half a pound, but the smallest fillet they had was two thirds of a pound.  Oh well...more wonderful food!

--On my way home, I stopped in at a large CVS to see if they had socks, because I only had one left...one sock, not one pair.  I bought a three-pair pack of white women's crew socks; next week I will go back and buy the same thing in black, and then I will have enough socks to get through the week (I wear tights on the Sabbath year round to be a little fancier), and I will even have a color choice!

--Now, the main point of this entry: my friend "Daisy" came to visit yesterday.  (Remember "Julie," my roommate from a few years back? "Daisy" is "Julie's" younger sister.)  Our visit would have been better if I were feeling better (by the time I get to eights and nines out of ten, there's no hiding the pain...), but we still had a good time.  I took her to an ocean-side promenade in my neighborhood, as a way to get out of the apartment and because the weather was beautiful.

Then later we were sitting together in my apartment, just talking, and I mentioned that I was going to have to do my grocery shopping that evening, and that I was hurting so much I didn't see how I could manage.  "Daisy," being herself, asked if I wanted to do it right then with her help.

My first internal reaction was something along the lines of, "Nah, it's fine, I'll be fine."  My second reaction, following so quickly on the heels of the first that I knew this was the real one, was, "It's not fine; you're not fine; take the help."  So "Daisy" and I did my grocery shopping together...and the nice thing about having two of us to carry the bags was that we could do both stores without going home to drop stuff off in the middle.

So shout out to "Daisy," my wonderful friend, and I hope we can see each other again soon!

--I knew I was forgetting something...I actually hit "publish" and had to come back to "update."  I'd like you to meet "BRIAN," a boy from my "Jacob's" country aging out NEXT APRIL.  "Brian" is diagnosed with congenital scoliosis.

Selfie, Just Because, and What I Want for Hannukah (Nine Months in Advance)

(First a note that I am blogging twice today; I decided to do it that way so the entry topics don't interfere with each other.  Right now I am blogging the picture below, and later today after I take care of business--looking for work, writing a graduate school application essay, looking for work some more, and buying fresh fish for dinner--I will be posting about my friend "Daisy's" [code name used per request] visit yesterday.)

I was so, so happy with my outfit today--and so, so proud of my recent weight loss--that I just had to take a picture and share.  I decided the best way to capture the full outfit would be to take a selfie in the full length mirror on the bathroom door.  Below is a picture of the outfit, and following, an explanation.

Now, an explanation of the outfit, top down:

Kippah: Machine embroidered silk from website of designer Yair Emanuel.  This one is the second or third one I got, depending how you count.  I got the white one first, and then this one and the blue one together.  It's hard to see it in this picture, but the design is geometric shapes in different shades of pink on a background the website calls magenta, though I think of it more as burgundy.  Today I clipped my kippah into place with purple clips with plastic flowers on the ends.

Tallit Katan: The purple/pink flowered one that I made myself this past winter.  Unless I wear the ladies' kind, which I try to save for really special occasions, my tallit katan always shows above the neckline of this shirt.  I figured I might as well wear the pretty one, especially considering that my skirt is in the same color scheme and print theme.

Shirt: Magenta blouse, long sleeve, with three dimensional ruffles and roses at the collar.  I picked it out even before I picked out the kippah and tallit katan, as soon as I knew I was wearing the skirt today.

Skirt: Long pink cotton print, from myculottes.com.  Much to my joy, this one still fits and does not need to be taken in at the waist! In case you can't see it well in the picture above, I will describe: pastel pink background, print of vines in white and slightly darker pink.

Tights: Burgundy; they at least match the kippah, if nothing else, and they sort of go with the skirt and shirt.

Shoes: My normal, everyday sneakers, which just happen to have a little bit of pink on them!

Now.  I think I have decided what I want for Hannukah, and I am waiting that long because that is the only way I can justify the expense.  There is a company, Lilla Rose; they make gorgeous, beautiful, very expensive hair clips and such.  I would like a pair of their bobby pins so I can have alternatives with Sabbath-holiday-Rosh-Hodesh-and-special-occasion kippah clips.  (I have one fancy set right now; with all those occasions to use them for, they get a lot of use.)  I decided an all metal pair would be better than a pair with rhinestones, because if they're all metal I don't have to worry about matching colors.  The pair I settled on is "copper rose"...unsurprisingly, they are copper, with roses on the ends.  I fell for the roses first, I think, but I also think copper looks more interesting than silver.  An additional advantage to buying an all-metal pair is that those fall around 10 dollars, while the p airs with rhinestones and such fall around 13-15 dollars.  And this is why I'm waiting till Hannukah...I simply cannot justify spending 10 dollars on a single pair of bobby pins otherwise.

And...please meet "EMMALYN," aging out NEXT MAY, and diagnosed with Down syndrome.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This and That

--I discovered another skirt that does not need taking in.  For some reason, my long brown skirt stays up.  It does not stay up on my waist, but it does stay up.  I don't know why that is, because my size medium skort does need taking in, and this skirt is officially size large.  However, I will not complain...it just means 20 dollars to spend somewhere else.

--I am keeping a written list on my table, with two columns: "To Take In" and "Not To Take In."  Each time I wear a skirt that isn't listed yet, it goes in the proper column.  I have decided I have to wear all the skirts I have left before I wear any again, in order to complete the list.  In weekday skirts, I have to wear my coral pink stretchy (tomorrow), my long pink print (Thursday), my long black with multicolored flowers (Friday), and my medium denim (Sunday).  I also have two Sabbath skirts to try, a white flouncy one and a purple flowered one.  The purple flowered matches a specific blouse, and the white can obviously be worn with it as well.  This week, therefore, instead of wearing the same skirt Friday night and Saturday with two different blouses, I will wear the same blouse Friday night and Saturday with two different skirts.

--I'm thinking of getting a library card.  I was in the laundromat today (I go twice a week because I can't carry all my laundry at once), and the more talkative worker was there, so we were chatting.  I mentioned something along the lines of the fact that I only have four Jewish theology books, and I am almost through the third.  I had just been thinking of starting again, but I have read all the books multiple times now.  He suggested the library.  I think it's a good suggestion.  It's certainly cheaper than buying endless new books, and borrowing from my parents (we have seven bookcases in our living room, and they're practically filled with Jewish theology/philosophy) is logistically inconvenient.

--This week at synagogue I get to give a meaningful gift to a friend.  Sami (real name used with consent) is working on converting to Judaism.  (When he does, we are going to trade kippot.  I always give one from my collection to a friend who completes the conversion process as a meaningful, piece-of-myself gift.  He makes them, and offered to make me one.  It is going to be green, because in a collection of 29 I still don't have a green one.)  He mentioned a few weeks back that he wanted to start doing weekday morning prayers on his own, but didn't have a good prayer book to do it with.  I mentioned the military prayer book, of which my father is senior editor; I thought it would be good for Sami because it has clear directions and a nice translation.  My father brought one down when he last came to visit, and this week I will bring it to Sami.  I didn't do it last week because I had another friend visiting, and I wanted to bring it when I could focus on helping him explore it; before that I was hurting too much to go to synagogue at all.

--Please, please, please join me in praying for my little "Jacob"! It chafes at me how long he's been waiting, and you never know whose prayer at what time will tip God over the edge into action.

--Just for fun, after I post this I will spend the rest of my day (except for a phone call with Katherine) doing something Jewish.  I want to read more psalms, and I can keep going in my current theology book.  I will probably also write a letter to God.

--And now: "DUANE," aging out in NOVEMBER.  See what a little child he still is! "Duane" has three diagnoses.  They are: Down syndrome, neurodystrophy, and motor development disorder alalia.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Stream of Consciousness: Mostly Skirts, Daily Adventures

In this post, I am typing "stream of consciousness" style: no organizational rules, just whatever comes to mind.

I have lost so much weight recently that all of my weekday skirts, and probably some of my Sabbath skirts, too, need to be taken in at the waist, save two.  My short denim still fits because it was taken in already just a few months ago (was too big even then), and my black/navy/red "modesty trainer" skirt fits because it was a "one size fits all" with an elastic waistband; as a matter of fact it just recently started fitting comfortably.

I am glad I shopped around a bit for price quotes on alterations.  The first place I went, located conveniently on my way to and from the laundromat, said they would do what I needed for 25 dollars per skirt.  I thought that seemed kind of high, so I found another place, almost as conveniently located, and they said they do what I need for 20 dollars a skirt.  Five dollars doesn't seem like much difference...until you consider that I need something like eight or nine skirts/skorts altered, more if we're counting Sabbath clothes.  Now we'e talking real money difference.

I have decided to get things taken in following this order: gray skort, teal skort, coral pink stretchy, royal blue stretchy, medium denim (if it needs it; I have to try that one on still), long pink, long brown, long black with flowers, white Sabbath skirt, other Sabbath skirt.  (The Sabbath skirts go last because I still have one Sabbath skirt and one fancy dress that definitely fit, so I can get by without the other two skirts.)  Then if my parents have the money (or I have the money myself if I am--please, please, please--working by then), I will replace my long denim.  I can live without it, while I can't live without the skirts I already have, and I need them to fit me.

Today I was at the laundromat, and I was chatting with a worker (all the workers there are Polish Catholics).  She mentioned that she had never seen a woman in a kippah before.  Not that she knows the word, being a Polish Catholic immigrant; we kind of point to my head and grunt when we talk about it.  I chuckled, and mentioned that I had been wondering how long it was going to take her to ask that.  Justifiably, she pointed out that she was not familiar with my culture, and then she asked again.

I like this woman, and I wanted to give her the right response.  Instead of just my current reason, that men and women are equal before God and have the same responsibilities and obligations, I also gave her the original reason, that I wanted people to know I was Jewish, and to know fast, and wearing a kippah seemed like the fastest way to let them know.  I then had to deal with a weird cultural moment: this woman simply could not comprehend the level of Jewish pride that would lead to such a decision.

If one wants to follow Jewish laws of modesty, as I do in skirts (not in tops, though I do like a fairly modest look, but in skirts I think I am actually accidentally staying tzniusdik, or Jewishly modest; I do not wear formfitting clothing or anything that does not cover my knees) it is good to be short.  (I am exactly five feet tall.)  As I mentioned somewhere earlier in this post, the skirt I have on today was a one-size-fits-all.  On the model in the picture, it fell to just above the knee.  On me, it falls to three or four inches below my knee.

Job hunting has not been going as well as expected.  It's partly my fault--I had fallen back on checking babysitting on MacherUSA; and babysitting, childcare, tutoring, and research assistant on Craigslist.  Today I went on Google and found some more sites with job listings: Monster, Job-Hunt, and Indeed.com.  I will add them to my daily rotation.  I have so much to sift through now that I think each day I will search in two shifts, so I can give each site proper attention.

I am getting so, so, SO excited about my new stationery (the stuff I shared a picture of a few entries back)! Eight more sheets of cardstock, and then...gorgeousness awaits.  I have no doubt I will be thoroughly sick of the new stuff before it's gone, as there are eighty sheets and they're all identical, but right now, it's fresh, new, and waiting for me.

And finally, if you're still reading, as always, I ask for prayers for my "Jacob."  His pictures--and the description with them--are old.  I got to him as Prayer Warrior before he turned three; this year he's turning six.  There has been no update; I pray that doesn't mean the worst.

But now it's time to share a different Reece's Rainbow child, an older one.  Please meet "BRYANNAH," who has at most EIGHTEEN MONTHS left.  Her only special need is Down syndrome!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Coolest News Ever

No.  Not "Jacob."  Oh, how I wish!

But.  But but but.
Do you remember "Chantelle-Ann?" "Chantelle-Ann" was listed on Reece's Rainbow as "At-Risk of Aging Out."  That means she had at most eighteen months left to be adopted internationally.

Except I just said "was."  You got that right: "Chantelle-Ann" has a family coming for her! They are actually adopting three children, all older, all disabled.  I'm glad there are people who can; I could not.

And...another at-risk child, a boy this time.  This is "RYAN," aging out in at most EIGHTEEN MONTHS, diagnosed with Down syndrome, and only Down syndrome:

Bar-Mitzvah-Related Adventures and The Story of my Skirt

Yesterday morning, bright and early, a boy came of age and celebrated becoming Bar Mitzvah in my synagogue.  On this blog, we will call him "Sam."

Oh. My. Word. was the room packed.  My synagogue has a huge sanctuary, and virtually every seat was taken.  There were easily, easily, 200 people in the room; I wouldn't be surprised if there were as many as 300.  

I was signed up to read Torah.  It was my first time reading in that congregation, and it was also the most I had read at one go since my own Bat Mitzvah...and there were approximately 200 people in the room.  I had forgotten what it feels like to get up in front of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah crowd and read Torah...it doesn't get any easier just because it's not your own special day.  I was literally shaking.

I am happy to report, however, that I did a reasonable job.  The Torah is written by hand, in ink, on a parchment scroll; per tradition, it is written without the vowels, punctuation marks, and chanting-system marks, so all of that has to be memorized beforehand by the reader.  In the space of seventeen verses, I only needed to be corrected three times; two were word mistakes, and I put the end of a verse in the wrong place once.  I'm sure most of the congregation couldn't tell, and even the people I know could, such as the Rabbi and gabbaim (people who proofread the Torah reader) seemed impressed and congratulated me...and the Rabbi mentioned me by full name in his announcements at the end of services, announcing that this was my first time reading Torah in his congregation, and that felt really cool.

As is typical at Bnei Mitzvah (plural of Bar Mitzvah or a mixed-gender group), Jewish weddings, etc. there were free kippot provided by the family for all who wanted, which is usually all the male guests and me.  "Sam's" were the style my father has dubbed "Bar Mitzvah beanies:" large, made of cheap satin, with a cloth button at the top center.  I almost decided I wouldn't take one, and once I had taken it I almost decided never to wear it, because of my father's disdain for the style.

Then I thought again.  Primarily, I decided to let myself wear "Sam's" Bar Mitzvah kippah because it is a lovely color, a nice midnight blue.  (This actually makes it my fourth blue one in a collection of 29; all but one, an embroidered silk by designer Yair Emanuel, were acquired for free.  I have a navy blue suede from my high school graduation, a bright blue satin--but not big enough to be a "Bat Mitzvah beanie"--from the Bat Mitzvah of a girl we'll call "Leah," and now "Sam's".)  Also, this kippah, printed inside with the name of the Bar Mitzvah boy and the date of the celebration, makes a nice souvenir of my first time reading Torah in that congregation, and how nicely it went.

I actually have "Sam's" Bar Mitzvah kippah on right now...I tend to like to wear new kippot as soon as possible after I get them.  Also, it just goes so nicely with my outfit: black tights; royal blue, slightly stretchy, hits-below-the-knee skirt, and royal blue, red, purple, and pinkish plaid button-down shirt.  I clipped the kippah in place with purple clips with plastic flowers on the ends, to match my shirt.

There is actually a special story behind the skirt I am wearing today; bear with me and permit me to tell it.

Last Spring, I went to the Orthodox-Jewish-run clothing store near my university for the first time.  I had no use for their tops, and never will; I had, have, and will always have endless use for their skirts. Their price run high, so I only ever shopped there three times; that, however, is not the point of this story.  

I went into the store last Spring for the first time, not knowing quite what I would find, committed to coming out with "something pink and something denim."  I ended up getting the skirt I now refer to as my "short denim" (hits my knees; internal pockets made of blue flowered material; zipper up the back) for 40 dollars and a slightly stretchy, also slightly covering my knees, coral pink skirt of the same brand as the denim, for 25 dollars.

As soon as I stepped outside the store and started the walk back to my dorm, I regretted not getting the coral skirt in royal blue as well.  When I went back in the Fall, I promised myself that if the store still had the slightly stretchy, knee-length skirts and I came in enough under budget, I would pick up my royal blue skirt.

On my Fall shopping trip, I picked out a green corduroy below-the-knee with pockets and a caramel-colored wool, A-line, back zip, also with pockets for everyday wear, as well as a slightly-more-golden caramel suede-ish (I'm sure from the price it wasn't real suede, but to this day I don't know what it is) for dressing up; I wore that last one for the first time the second day of Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.  As I headed to the register, I noticed a rack of the slightly stretchy warm-weather skirts.  I didn't see the royal blue, but I did see a very pale brown I liked, so I picked that up too.

When I brought my pile up to the register, the woman who runs the store picked up my last skirt and said, "Medium? We have this in lots of colors..."

I of course decided to test my luck and ask for royal blue, she said yes, and at long last, I got my royal blue skirt! It is one of my favorites, primarily because I didn't get enough time to enjoy it before the weather turned cold in the Fall...but I am enjoying it now.

And I just remembered I told that whole story around the time when I bought it.  Oops...a good story can always bear retelling.

Now, this is "ELSBETH," aging out in AUGUST.  She has Down syndrome and "mental delays," though the second is a predictable result of the first.

40720103944 Elsbeth

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Disappointed--and Thrilled

As of writing this post, I am both disappointed and thrilled.

I am disappointed with the results of my two-day Ketamine booster, because I know my life can be so much better than this.  I'm fully functional, but only just, and in a lot of pain, everywhere, all the time.  Doctor and I had agreed to "wait and see" if two days would be all I needed; now I know it wasn't.  On my father's suggestion (he's the one who transports me), I am waiting until Monday to contact the doctor, because sometimes if one waits for RSD to get better, it magically does...and also because I want to walk to synagogue, and see how much that hurts, so I have that as a data point.

When/if I call the doctor, I will also discuss my reaction to a medication given to manage side effects.  It is the one medication given that cannot be given intravenously; it is given as an injection, instead.  In the middle of the night last night, I woke up feverish, with the complete inability to straighten my arm where the injections had been given.  A friend to whom I told this story says I should have called the doctor right then (due to the possibility of allergic reaction); she may be right, but it was the middle of the night, I wasn't thinking that clearly, so I just took pain killer and went back to sleep...and woke up fine this morning.

I do, however, also have reason to be thrilled, as it says in the title.  As of this Summer, it will be two years since I first got "into" full-time skirts.  I quickly ordered several from myculottes.com, because they were beautiful, functional, and cheap, at $20.00 per skirt for cotton and poplin, and $23.00 for twill and denim.  At the time, I fit into their size large (and their skirts even have elastic waists...) which means extra-large everywhere else.

Last Summer, I ordered another thing or two from them.  We measured my hips (which they size by) again because I had lost so much weight.  I now fit a medium (still large everywhere else), but only by one inch.  I WAS ALMOST A SIZE SMALL.

And now, this Summer, I need just one more item: a long denim skirt to replace the one I lost in so many moves.  It was made by them, and only $23.00, and I have lost so much weight that I feel comfortable ordering...size small.

And now, please meet "ANDRUIS," aging out in DECEMBER, and diagnosed with Down syndrome (otherwise healthy)!


Monday, March 7, 2016

My View of God

The last time I managed to pray was Sunday morning; for various reasons I won't get to pray again until Wednesday morning.  However, I believe with perfect faith that I can jump in and out of worshiping as necessary; God will always be waiting there to receive me back.

Sorry, but this is the length/complexity of blog post I can come up with on a Ketamine day.

Now, please meet "MELANIE," aging out in JUNE.  "Melanie" is HIV positive.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pictures from Katherine's Visit

Here are the photos that Katherine and I took together.

(This is actually just a picture of my new stationery; I tacked it on this blog post because I didn't want to do a separate post just for this picture.  Isn't it beautiful? Can't wait to use it.)

The first picture of Katherine and me, from Saturday night.  (All of these are "selfies" taken by Katherine because her arm is longer.)

...And another one from Saturday night.

Sunday morning...I was in a lot of pain, and you can tell by my tense smile and pale complexion.  Katherine is a faithful friend who loves me anyway; she even offered to skip the museum! (I promptly vetoed that idea.)

On our way to the subway station Sunday morning.  That is Garden of Eden supermarket in the background; I thought all the produce made a cool backdrop.

In front of the museum steps.  Yes, I know it's sideways; I thought I would be able to rotate it once it was on the blog, but I guess not.  Still, I think it's a sweet picture.

And one more...in Central Park.  This one might be my favorite.

Now, I am sharing a Reece's Rainbow aging-out boy.  This time I am sharing the other one without a picture, "DANTE."  He ages out in APRIL.  "Dante" is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Fixed" the "Problem" and Katherine's Visit

First of all, I seem to have "fixed" my relationship with God.  I no longer feel waves of mysticism washing over me every time I pray or write a letter; we are keeping our distance from each other.  That being said, I have found THE name for God that helps me connect better than any other.  It works so well that I am not comfortable sharing it publicly (I haven't even shared it with Katherine or my mother, the two people to whom I tell most everything!), but I will say that it is a traditional Hebrew title, and it is strongly masculine.  That last part surprises me, because until I started using this name and discovered its power, I genuinely believed I thought of God as manifesting as feminine in my life.  I'm OK with God "being" masculine for a while (as in for however long this title holds its power), for I know God is really every gender at the same time.  Still, I find it surprising.

Second of all, in majorly all likelihood, Katherine is coming to visit this weekend! She couldn't come last weekend, as originally planned, because she had a headache that she thought would turn into a migraine if she rode on the train.  Therefore, we bumped her visit to this weekend instead.  She has been feeling better, so it should work out.

Due to problems with chronic pain (I am undergoing another Ketamine treatment March 7th-8th, and would very much covet your prayers), I still can't get to synagogue to see the friend I have made there and anybody else, so Katherine's visit will be a welcome chance to socialize.  We are going to make African Pineapple Peanut Stew (my favorite dish; she's never had it) tomorrow night, and Sunday we are going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, out to lunch (but not at the museum cafe because everything there is overpriced, and also because I am an observant Jew and there are very few options for me there), and then she is taking me for bubble tea, as per our celebrating-my-birthday tradition.  I have a camera, I will take pictures, and most likely the pictures will end up on this blog...I can't wait.

Now.  Here is a Reece's Rainbow aging-out girl.  I am privileged to introduce "KIERSTEN," aging out in APRIL.  Reece's Rainbow cautions that "her needs are quite unknown."  (Note she does not have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.)  This is her old picture because I couldn't get her new one to copy/paste, but please go to reecesrainbow.org and look her up to see a beautiful, more recent image!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Yelling for "Christopher"

In this post, I am committed to yelling for "CHRISTOPHER."  He is listed on Reece's Rainbow, and he will be very hard to find a home for, for four reasons:

  1. He is a boy.
  2. He ages out in the next EIGHTEEN MONTHS.
  3. He has siblings (sister born 2005, brother born 2008), and he hopes they can all be adopted together.
  4. There is no picture of him for people to see.
"Christopher's" diagnoses include: psoriasis vulgaris, Hyperkinetic disorders, and nonorganic enuresis.

Here is what Reece's Rainbow has to say about him (and yes, I am shamelessly quoting here):

"'Christopher' is calmer, verbal aggression in interaction is no longer observed.

"In a relationship he tries to act nice, waits for praises.  He likes making social contacts, has friends of the same age as he is.  The boy loves doing household chores.  Spends his spare time by the TV, likes cell phone games, sometimes plays with his little sister and brother.  The boy likes inventing things, he has logically practical thinking.  The boy has acquired knitting.  He is in a correction class at the school.  The boy does his homework in a prolonged school group, sometimes some tasks should be done at home though.  He is not so good at mathematics, especially in solving math word problems.  The boy packs his bag for school self-dependently, sometimes forgets something.  The boy does his homework quickly but superficially, then characteristic phrase for him is 'Everything will be fine!'.  The boy needs control.  He wants to be adopted together with his siblings."

I know there's no picture of "Christopher" to convince people to adopt him, which is actually precisely why I'm taking the time to devote a whole blog post to him.  And doesn't his description make him sound like a wonderful son? Who wouldn't want a teen who "waits for praises"; "likes making social contacts"; "loves doing household chores"; "has logically practical thinking"; and "wants to be adopted together with his siblings"? He sounds like the perfect boy for a family to me!


Great Quotation!

I am having major problems sleeping (it's exactly 2:13 am my time), and am working on getting tired again.  To that end, I have been rereading one of my favorite Jewish books, Doing Jewish Theology by author Rabbi Neil Gillman, who taught my father in Rabbinical school.

In Gillman's book, I came across wonderful advice for living life.  Here it is: "All that God can offer Job is the reassurance that the world is incredibly complex, that God is in control, that there is order beyond the apparent anarchy, but that Job, as a mere human, cannot hope to understand it." (Gillman, 230) This quotation can be summed up nicely by another quotation, this one from a Steven Curtis Chapman song: "God is God and I am not."

Now.  This time I am supposed to share a girl.  I had chosen in this entry to share a child without a picture (some countries don't allow them) because it is even harder for them to find families than for others, but currently there are no girls listed without pictures.  Therefore, having scrolled through the whole page, I am sharing the girl closest to the bottom.  So please meet "KINLEY," aging out NEXT APRIL.  "Kinley" is diagnosed with Down syndrome.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016


In this post I wish to talk about the Book of Psalms, or Tehillim in Hebrew.  Every day, following my morning prayers (or afternoon if I somehow missed the morning), I read one psalm, usually in English.  I think I'm on my third time through the book; this morning I read psalm #56 out of 150.  I use an edition of the Book of Psalms that was given to each classmate of a boy in my high school who died of leukemia, by his parents.  They even paid extra (I'm assuming) to customize them for us with our full Hebrew names.  It's not a translation I like, but the book obviously has tremendous sentimental value, so it's the one I use.

Until today, I could have told you three psalms that were my favorites: #19, #23, and #91.  Today I realized that on the level on which I like #19 and #23, I genuinely like every psalm in the book.  Each one is unique and special.

Far and away, however, #91 is still my favorite.  A quotation from it was the inspiration for the title of this blog: "He will instruct His angels to guard you in all your paths, to carry you in their hands lest you stumble on a stone."  I still find that to be one of the most beautiful lines in the entire Book of Psalms, and maybe even in the whole Hebrew Bible.

And now, a Reece's Rainbow aging-out boy.  Please meet "NATHANIEL," aging out in MAY, with delayed intellectual development:


What I Know About My Future

I know--at least as firmly as it is possible to know anything about one's future--that one day I will adopt and parent a little girl with special needs, more specifically Down syndrome.  I'll say it right out loud, right here, right now: adoption was never my "Plan A" for building a family.  "Plan A" involved four healthy, biological children, and I am still grieving that loss.

But.  But but but.

My "Plan B" could be God's "Plan A" all along, for we always say in our prayers that God is the God of the orphan.

My future "Plan B" family will look very different from how my future "Plan A" family would have looked.  If I actually go through with this plan, adopting a little girl with Down syndrome, it will probably be hard enough that she will be my only child.  If I have learned one thing through my own "special needs" (I don't like that term) or disabilities (that is the term I "like"), it is that children with special needs just need love and care like anybody else...and I can give that.

I know that this "Plan B" will be challenging.  Adopting anyone is hard, for the child and the parent, and special needs make the process harder.  But my "Plan B" is God's "Plan A"; it just took me a while to see it.  Adoption, here I come!

And just by coincidence, it is time to share a Reece's Rainbow girl...so naturally, to fit with this post, I am sharing one who is diagnosed with Down syndrome.  Please meet "CHANTELLE-ANN."  In terms of when she's aging out, all her information says is 2001, but again, if she's on that page, she has at most EIGHTEEN MONTHS.  As well as Down syndrome, she has crossed eyes.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ordered my Stationery and Too Close to God

So first of all, I finally settled on some affordable stationery, and ordered it! I noticed last night that Amazon had about 400 pages of results for "stationery", so I looked through the first 15, bookmarking anything I liked under 15 dollars.  This gave me about seven results to choose from today.  The stationery I finally went with is a pinkish-purple color, with a looks-hand-painted (yes, obviously, I know it isn't) Easter lily printed in the upper left corner.  It is 8-1/2" by 11", a good size for writing to God (my letters can get long; I really need something full sized), and best of all, there's something like 80 or 100 sheets in the pack, which will last me, at the very least, 40 days

Which brings me to the second part of this blog entry.  I think I am starting to get too close to God, and I need to pull back; remember the link between revelations and bipolar episodes.  (The revelations, or mystical experiences as I prefer to call them, are entirely real in and of themselves, and not symptoms of bipolar disorder; what I'm saying is that they lead to bipolar episodes.)  This afternoon when I said afternoon prayers, which only take about five minutes, I had to stop three mystical experiences.  (I make them stop by doing something that hurts a lot, such as scrunching my toes; the pain distracts me.  My mother once suggested that this is why God gave me chronic pain.)  That's one mystical experience every two minutes of prayer! Too close.  I cannot decrease my number of required prayer times, because those are required of me as a Jew; however, I can and will decrease my number of daily letters to God from maximum three to maximum two.  If I still have "problems," (it's sad when getting close to God is a problem, but unfortunately for me right now it is), I will decrease again, to maximum one letter per day.

Now.  You guessed it: Time for you all to see a picture of another Reece's Rainbow aging-out child.  In this entry, I have to share a boy, and I have shared so many from "Jacob's" country recently that I would like to share someone from somewhere else.  So I meant to share the first boy listed after "Elize" from a different country, but I have passed this boy over too many times, and I feel called to share him.  Please meet "NELSON," aging out in OCTOBER, diagnosed with Hypotheriosis:

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Four Items of Note and a Precious Realization

First, four special wardrobe items that I wore/am wearing today:

  1. Homemade prayer shawl, made by me: Not the purple flowered tallit katan I made myself this past Hannukah, but rather the tallit gadol I made myself in high school; yes, it's lasted all these years and I still use it regularly! There are posts about it on this blog that I posted while it was a work in progress; for those who don't feel like digging them up (and I'm not sure there are photos with them anyway), it is strip-style (tallitot g'dolot come in strip-style and shawl-style; I prefer strip) and made of quilting fabric or calico or whatever you call that stuff.  The background is white with an off-white floral pattern; the atarah (neckband) is purple with a row of flowers (stitched on upside-down so the flowers surround me when I wear it during prayer); and it has a strip of creamy satiny ribbon sewn on as decoration close to each end.
  2. Tallit katan with "t'chelet": This one is going to take some explaining.  T'chelet is the Hebrew word for a certain, special blue dye; we were originally supposed to tie a strand of it to all of our tzitziot (holy fringes).  However, it fell out of fashion during Roman rule for various reasons, and now, to this day, plain white tzitziot are OK too.  I put t'chelet in quotation marks because I found out after I got mine that mine are more than likely fake (I didn't pay enough for them, and they fade in the wash; supposedly, real t'chelet never fade).  Still, I can't afford to replace them right now (real t'chelet strings cost upwards of 80 dollars--just for the strings!), so I wear my fake set anyway.  At a quick glance, it's not as if anyone's noticing the difference.
  3. Ugandan kippah: The only colorful item that I am wearing today is a jade-green sweater.  (Skirt is black with white fuzzy trim; leggings are gray with black rose pattern; socks are white.)  I don't have a green kippah--yet, I'm working on it.  My usual go-to kippah when I wear green is my white silk Yair Emanuel embroidered with gold and silver trees or branches or something.  It's white, so colorwise it goes with anything, and the branches theme goes well with green.  However, I plan on giving this kippah to a friend who is converting to Judaism soon (every male convert friend of mine gets a kippah from my collection upon completing the conversion process; the only female convert friend I ever had said she wouldn't wear a kippah, so I gave her a star of David pendant from my collection of those instead), and once I decide to give away a kippah, I start wearing it less to sort of get myself used to not having it.  (Remember that I hand picked my entire collection, so it's not as if it's easy to give one away.)  My Ugandan kippah is a rust-colored brown, which goes nicely with green, and given how special its "back story" (coming from Uganda) is, I don't wear it nearly often enough.
  4. Gay pride button: I don't know why at all, I just needed to wear this today.  Maybe it's because I was rereading old blog entries yesterday, and a topic that cropped up a lot was my struggle to be queer (I used to identify as lesbian; now I'm bisexual) and Jewish.
And speaking of rereading old blog entries...yesterday I went all the way back to the beginning of this blog, May 2009, and going forward read an average of between three and six entries per month every single month that I've been blogging, and I realized something.  This may have been obvious to my regular readers, but it had somehow escaped my notice: I am a remarkably spiritual human being.  Even in my spiritual "down times," when I am "doing nothing," I take it for granted, just as a fact of life, that God "hears" my prayers; that I can feel God "hearing" my prayers; and that when it comes time to make the big decisions in life, I can "consult" God, God will have "answers," and we will make the big decisions together, whatever that means.  (And no, I don't think of any of this as literal; to cite one of my favorite authors, Rabbi Neil Gillman, we must talk about God somehow, but to think that anything we say is literal borders on idolatry.)

Now.  A Reece's Rainbow child.  In this entry, I am supposed to share a girl.  I have a real heart for the children in "Jacob's" country, first because I'm praying at least three times daily for a child from that country, and second because they age out younger there than in other countries.  So this is "ELIZE," aging out in NOVEMBER.  Her only special need is deafness!

Elize (2)


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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!