I’ve avoided talking about God much here. Because since last fall’s bombshell news I have avoided talking with God much at all. We are on hiatus, we are on “a break.” It’s the best thing for the both of us right now. I don’t tell my kids I’m on a break and they see me reciting the same blessings on Shabbat that they are. For me, this is a family ritual. These are words we say communally and it doesn’t really matter if I truly mean them, or not.
But today, having had a crappy night (including multiple shushings from J because I was snoring, which it horrified me to think I was actually doing), and waking feeling not much better, and realizing my grand scheme for the afternoon was no longer realistic – take kids and my mom on the subway back to her bus and then take them to see this installation at Madison Square Park. And get some gelato at Eataly.
CANCELED. I went to urgent care after we had brunch with Mom. They swabbed my throat which apparently does have white spots, but the rapid strep came up negative. Still, they felt I needed amoxicillin. I gave them the short version of my cancer treatment and they were suitably amazed. The assistant asked me to spell all the drugs I’m on. Good thing there’s an app for that.
I dropped off the rx at the pharmacy and they said it wouldn’t be more than 15 minutes. I was already so tired I didn’t want to walk the five minutes home and then five minutes back. So I went next door to the Latin place and got chicken noodle soup. I’m so congested it tasted like nothing, despite all the salt I dumped in. The buttered toast that came with it, much more yummy. Medicine mouth + congestion = low satisfaction yield on meals unless they are buttery, fried, or fried in butter. I’m about to drink a gallon of Throat Coat tea. Paired with a blueberry doughnut.
I was sad at the undoing of my grand plan for the afternoon with my boys. But the installation isn’t actually due to open until June 1, my mom can manage getting to her bus on her own (and she has), the kids got Shake Shack for lunch (as did J, who is heading off to his basketball game questionably fueled on burger and shake).
In conversations lately, the image of my family gathering around me and saying in very stern tones, “Don’t screw this up, Deb,” has been circulating. Obviously, there has not been such an intervention. But when you are a pioneer at something, even if it is something crappy, like cancer, it is nice to think of your family gathering around you and giving you that kind of courage.
Actually, I think this image stems from a summer job my brother G (whose post is coming, it’s coming, and he has already chosen a cartoon character for his avatar) got me when I was in high school. He was employed by the company and got me a temp job there. He couldn’t resist wandering over the first few days and peering over my shoulder. If I made the slightest typo he’d mutter under his breath, “Deb… you’re fucking up! You’re fucking up, Deb!” Yes, it was ridiculous, I don’t know how I survived, but they really liked me there and I was not, in fact, fucking up. Nor am I now, I don’t think, at least not yet. I hope my family is proud of my work so far.
Last night and this morning a song was running through my head. It’s not quite a niggun (which is a wordless Jewish spiritual tune) but close enough. It takes as its lyrics something Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said. He was a colorful figure. His disciples today seem a little batshit or on drugs, to wit (warning – this video runs 14 minutes!):
But it makes me happy to see them. Why not? You see Hare Krishnas dancing with abandon in Union Square, but these guys? They’re MY people. I could dance along with them. Well, or maybe sort of near them. (They probably wouldn’t dance with women.)
I think I learned this song at a kooky Jewish summer camp in Simi Valley CA which I attended while I was in college. The demographic was ages 18-27 and I think they were trying to turn us into future leaders of the Jewish community. That worked out really well for some people who have actually become leaders, but I have never had any inherent leadership qualities. I did make some good friends there, though I’ve fallen in and out of touch with them, and I remember the kibbutz-like feel of the place that actually made someone more than once, during a discussion, talk about “my friends back in the States” – as though some whitewashed buildings and eucalyptus trees and everyone wearing all white on Shabbat were enough to teleport us directly to Israel. Mostly that summer I danced – there was an excellent folkdance teacher there and we performed at the end of the month. And when I wasn’t dancing, I was singing. This was – I am pretty sure – one of the songs. I’m not sure why I’ve chosen a day when my voice is froggy and congested to make my vocal debut here, but if you hadn’t noticed, strange things are happening on the regular, and sometimes it’s because I make them happen.
The lyrics are on Soundcloud but reproduced here:
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov used to say: DO NOT DESPAIR!
If you are having a hard time, you just need to be happy!
It sounds so simple, really.