rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
And have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cries of my hate?
The cries in the dark that nobody hears
Here where I stand at the turning of the years

 - "Valjean's Soliloquy," from Les Miserables

Shabbat shalom is the greeting for Sabbath peace, but Rebecca sure wasn't feeling any of that on Friday evening. Our temple is a small congregation with several different lay leaders, but one of them (the one who did services yesterday) totally grates on my nerves. He uses his sermons to wave his arms around and YELL AT US about politics and the election. UGH! There are not enough words for how much I hate this. I need to stop going to his services.

Today was the last Shabbat of 5772, and our temple marked the occassion with havdalah and tashlich services at the 9/11 Memorial on the lakefront. (The three little American flags I left on Grandma's birthday were still there.) We had a bigger turn-out and nicer weather than last year, but it was held later in the evening, so seagulls didn't flock out to eat our bread this time. Yeah, a big group of Jews singing Hebrew prayers in public did get some strange stares, but I didn't care. As we were leaving, lights came on in the memorial's reflecting pool. I didn't even know it had lights and said, "Oh, that's pretty," sounding cynical and sarcastic, like I always do. Maggie said at the same time, "Look, Rebecca! That is SO beautiful!" There is something so enthusiastic and innocent about her outlook on life that is almost bittersweet to me.

Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of a new year, 5773, and I'm hoping that with it, I can turn over a new leaf. Lately I've picked up some bad habits and put down some good ones. I need to stop staying up so late, oversleeping in the mornings, and getting to work late. I need to start recycling again. I need to start cleaning my room more. (I was so excited when I first moved into that big bedroom, and now it's just become a place for me to lose things! My chest has been tight tonight, but where's my inhaler? I have no idea!) I haven't been bike-riding nearly as much I used to, and I need to start doing that again. You know how cranky smokers get when they haven't had a cigarette in a long time? That's Rebecca without her bike-riding.

We're having a dessert oneg after Rosh Hashanah services tomorrow evening. Last year, I brought delicious pumpkin bread that Grandma baked and let me take credit for. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. I got it from Grandma and gave it out to a few people, but I didn't think to keep one for myself. I took for granted that Grandma would be around to make it for me for years. So this year, I made bacon & eggs instead. I know no one will love them or want the recipe, but I enjoy making them -- and I made way too many! I better give some to "Briana" tomorrow.

And I better go to bed now, because believe me when I say I have a busy day tomorrow. Until then, there's my Tovah (on her bay window, as always) wishing y'all a happy new year!



SHANAH TOVAH, FROM TOVAH!
NINE ... DAYS ... LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
(We're in single digits, y'all!!)
rebecca_in_blue: (downcast eyes)
The weather here has been so nice and cool lately (finally!). From work today, I biked downtown to the Sept. 11 memorial. This day last year was, obviously, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; it was also my Grandma's 82nd birthday. We didn't have the faintest clue then that it would be her last birthday in this world. Far from it. She wasn't even sick yet. Heck, she cooked her own birthday cake! And today, one year later, she's gone. She's been gone for eight months already. When you think about it, it's kinda scary, isn't it?

I bought a few tiny, cheap American flags and stuck them in the ground at the memorial. Last year, our city hosted a beautiful, elaborate ceremony there; this year, there were just two families -- both of them with loud, bratty kids who wanted to climb on the beams from the World Trade Center and splash in the reflecting pool. Ugh! I politely didn't strangle them to death, even though their parents probably would've thanked me for it. I did manage to take a few pictures. Some of them are kinda repetitive of my photos from the ceremony last year, but I had a much better camera this time.



Beams from the World Trade Center rising up from the reflecting pool.


An American flag and candle that someone left at the memorial. The card on the front reads: 2,819 People Lost. [This is number is incorrect.] Please take a moment to remember all the victims of 911 and NEVER forget.


Flowers in bloom outside the memorial, with the beams and flag in the background.

And you know, something just occurred to me as I was typing this entry. Sept. 11 is a day of mourning of our country -- and it should be, because terrible things happened that day and thousands of innocent people were killed. But for me, it's a day of gratitude and celebration, because it was the birthday of one damn amazing lady. Grandma was one of the kindest, patientest, most understanding, generous people I will ever know, and when I think about how blessed I was to have her in my life, there is no room in my heart for sadness. So for me, this day isn't about death (no offense to those who died on 9/11 and their families) but a celebration of life.

You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have clothed me in joy, that my heart may sing and not be silent. ~ Psalm 30


Shallow P.S. 13 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
Shabbat services at temple tonight marked a very special occasion for me (and for Rabbi W, who is finally back in Louisiana after a trip to visit family in Israel, where he fell ill, had to be hospitalized, and worried the crap out of all of us). Today, August 10, is the one-year anniversary of my conversion to Judaism. My entry on that day is back here. It's hard to believe it's been a year already! A year ago, I never would've thought that I'd get roped into teaching Jewish Sunday School, or that I'd spend a week at a Jewish summer camp.

While I'm grateful to be Jewish and it has enriched my life in many ways, there are certain things I didn't know before I converted that I now wish I had.


More complicated thoughts under the cut. )

As an aside, I rode my bike to services tonight, which I haven't done in a while, and I'm a little embarrassed by how quickly I felt out-of-breath and exhausted. I really hope I can start bike-riding in earnest again once the weather is cooler. I pushed two little kids in my congregation (who will both be new students in religious school in the fall) around on my bike after services tonight, and they loved it.

45 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

Well, today was the day that I'd been both dreading and looking forward to. After a delicious breakfast of hot chocolate-chip scones in the dining hall this morning (I will miss having all of my meals prepared for me!), I finished packing, checked Muse Watson's tires, and went on my way. The trip back home was smooth, and I only had to make one stop outside Baton Rouge to eat, use a restroom, and buy gas. Muse Watson made good time, and I'm so proud of that cranky old car; I don't think either of us really believed he would make it safely there and back!

I am definitely happy to be home -- I missed Sara, Tovah, my hair straightener, my room, etc. -- but I was also sad to leave such a beautiful summer camp, even though my time there had some rough spots. I posted in my entry on the first day about how hard it was being there by myself, but really, it was hard the whole week through. I've always sucked at meeting people, and my week there was no exception. Still, there was a wonderful, welcoming, relaxed, safe atmosphere at camp that I can't really explain. I will miss the cool weather, the slow-paced summer days under the pine trees. I will miss the sense of a shared Jewish identity, which is something else I can't explain (and unless you're a minority, I don't think you can really understand). I'd never been in such a huge group of people who all knew how to sing the HaMotzi or the Birkat Hamazon. It blew my mind the first time everyone in the dining hall started singing it, and I hope I never forget that.

But what blows my mind more than anything else is knowing that at this time in 2010, just two years ago, I'd never even set foot in a Jewish house of worship. Seriously, never. I was still researching and learning about Judaism on my own, biking past the temple frequently, and trying to get up the nerve to walk through those doors. If you had told me then that in a year, I would officially convert, and within two years, I'd spend a week working at a Jewish summer camp -- would I have believed you? Probably not. Already, Judaism has become a bigger part of my life and my identity than I ever could've imagined. I hope I can remember to never totally lose faith in what might seem unlikely or even impossible.

I'll find my way home on the western wind
To a place that was once my world
Back from where I've been

And in the morning light, I'll remember
As the sun will rise
We are all the glowing embers of a distant fire

rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
Rebecca ate her first Big Mac today. (I know, but as much as I love fast food, I've never been big on hamburgers, only cheeseburgers.) It was surprisingly bland, difficult to eat, and not filling at all. Why in heck this is McDonald's #1, I have no idea. In other news...


Hope looks like this: the one brave seed that decided to sprout into something green, in spite of the fact that I managed to kill every other seed in the packet. And I'll probably kill this one, too!


Dead-and-gone looks like this: I finally got Sable's remains back from the vet. A little bag of gray ashes and bone fragments. I put it on a shelf in my closet. I don't know what to do with it, and right now I get all weepy just looking at it.
rebecca_in_blue: (G-d loves a duck)
Remember that coworker I mentioned who complains all the time? Well, things came to a head yesterday. As soon as I got to work, he started griping about a really minor thing our manager said. I called him out on it, and he snapped back. We started arguing, and to make a long story short, he said that he was never going to speak to me again. (I was really tempted to say, "Promise? Can I get that in writing?" I was so tired of his constant negativity.) He also unfriended me on Facebook. I think he behaved very immaturely, and I'm sure anyone would agree with me, but so far, I've resisted the temptation to discuss it with anyone else I work with. I hate drama and don't want to generate any more. This person and I will have to continue working together, and I hope we can both act like adults. I'm kinda sad over it, because we used to be friends, but then he turned into such a moper. Oh, well. He'll punish himself better than I ever could.

Anyway, onto happier subjects -- tonight's new NCIS episode!


Notes for 9x20 "The Missionary Position" )

Can you believe Season 9 is almost over already? Only four new episodes left!
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
I had a very quiet weekend here. On Sunday, I went over to JC & Co's and copied some songs from their iTunes library. Mine is now back up to 172 songs, down from the about 600 I had before the virus hit. I did not participate in any of the Mardi Gras festivities. I've never been a big fan of that holiday, but today the weather was so nice and warm that I went on a bike ride and took photos of some of the Mardi Gras decorations (which you can see here). Mardi Gras is so unique to southern Louisiana. There are quite a lot of decorations in my neighborhood, and many of them have been up since right after Christmas. There were two Mardi Gras parades today, and I live pretty near the parade route, but I didn't go. The noise, crowds, traffic, and litter were too much for me from here!

I also did not do any Jew stuff, which is unusual for me on the weekend. There was no Torah study with the rabbi or Hebrew school with the kids. I know I always complain about waking up early when I have Jew stuff, but I sure was bored without it. Even though NCIS's 200th episode had some badly executed "what-if" scenarios, it made me wonder about what-ifs in my own life. Like, what if I had never converted to Judaism? Maybe no one else would notice the difference, but I sure would. Looking forward to our Purim session in Hebrew school next weekend!

And speaking of NCIS, there was a new episode tonight! I think [livejournal.com profile] jelenamichel said it best in her review: "It wasn't bad, exactly. It was just really, really boring. And that's saying something when you’ve got Jamie Lee Curtis working for you."


Notes on episode 9x16 "Psych Out" )

I NEED to get my hair cut this week. I've been putting it off for too long now. But in the meantime, I've been trying the sock bun. The woman in the video makes it look so darn easy.
rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)
Well, I didn't cry at the visitation, the rosary, the funeral, or the graveside service for Grandma. I just got home from Shabbat services at the temple, changed into my PJs, and now I'm sitting here crying. I know even if I live to be as old as Methuselah, I will never meet a nicer lady, a better cook, or a person who loves our family so much, in spite of all our bitchiness and dysfunctionality. She was the only grandparent I ever knew. And I might just waste away without her food! Some random thoughts:

~ At the rosary service, a relative asked me why I wasn't praying the rosary. I wasn't offended at all, just puzzled, because said relative knows I converted to Judaism, and I really don't think she's so ignorant about Judaism as to expect a Jew to pray Catholic prayers. Oh, well.

~ Athena had the great idea for us to both wear
purple, Grandma favorite color, to her funeral. I guess the silver lining in this situation was all the food and getting to see Athena. I miss her so much when she's away. Today she even came to services at the temple with me.

~ We tried to cut back on the number of cars in our funeral procession (I hate stopping for funeral processions, especially long ones), so a bunch of us piled into Aunt Connie's car. Seriously, it was as packed as a clown car, and Olivia said, "We're like Mexicans making a run for the border!" One car didn't stop for us, and Athena yelled, "If you don't stop, our grandma will haunt you!" Me: "Yeah, for the rest of your life, whenever you throw anything away, you'll hear a voice saying, 'Don't throw that out, it's still good!'"

~ I'm so cheap, it took Grandma's death for me to buy new batteries for my cameras! (I haven't had new ones since 2008, and those were a gift. I just kept recharing them.) I like taking photos at inappropriate times, so I bought my camera to the graveside service. I got a few good photos, including one of Eva looking at Grandma's urn that's really pretty.

~ We took Grandma's urn right up to the cemetery plot, put it in the ground, and then we all filed by and dropped in a handful of dirt. It was kinda neat - I'd never done that before.

~ No one could deny that Grandma was the glue that held our family together. My biggest fear is that with her dead, I'll become a stranger to my own relatives, like one member of my already family is.

On the bright side, 2012 can only get better from here on out, right? I mean, it HAS to!
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

I got the call from my mom about an hour ago. My grandma died about two hours ago.

"We do best homage to our dead when we live our lives most fully, even in the shadow of our loss." This is a line from The Blessing of Memory, one of the prayers we read before Kaddish in our siddur. It always reminds me of this scene between Ponette and her mother at the end of Ponette:

La mère: Pourquoi t'es vivante? Pour avoir envie tout. C'est pour ça que je suis revenue. T'a peur de la vie, ma fille?
Ponette: Non.
La mère: Non, la vie, c'est pas trop forte pour ma fille. On n'aime pas des enfants negligents. Et c'est quoi, un enfant negligent?
Ponette: C'est... un enfant qui oblit de rire?
La mère: Exactement! C'est un enfant qui oblit de rire. Alors, un peut mourir, mais il faut mourir vivant! Très vivant. Et avant, tout est à toi. Il faut que tu goûtes à tout, à tous, à toutes, et après, tu peux mourir.
Ponette: Oui, il faut goûter à tout!

La mère: Et Ponette, quand tu voudras, tu saut et puis attraper un souvenir de moi. D'accord?
Ponette: D'accord.

Edited to add: Sara asked me what this meant in English, so here is a video with English subtitles. The conversation I quoted starts around 3:30, but the whole thing is worth watching. Thank you, Jacques Doillon (tangently related to the Birkins), for helping us all learn how to grieve.

rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
I've kinda been looking forward to this day for a while. It's my anniversary with the temple! Exactly one year ago today - Friday, August 27, 2010 - I rode my bike and attended services there for the first time. It's so strange to think that it's already been a year, when I still remember my first visit so well. Mostly I remember how nervous I was. I had never attended any sort of Jewish service before, never walked through those doors before, and even though I'd done a lot of research into Judaism, I didn't know anyone there and really had no idea what to expect.

It's hard to write about how much it's changed my life. One year later, I've officially converted. I'm a first-name basis with a whole group of people that I didn't know before. It's given me a sense of peace that I've never found anywhere else, and I like to think it's made me a better, happier, less selfish person. To put it simply, I have a family and a life now that I didn't have a year ago. It's almost hard to remember what I did before I had Judaism, and this temple. I mean, how bored and lonely was I?

I didn't have anything exciting planned for today, but almost as if they knew it was my anniversary, two members of our congregation - Cheryl and her little girl, Maggie - swooped by and picked me up. Maggie is the sweetest kid, and for some strange reason, she really likes me and thinks I'm so cool. (Eva thought the same thing for a long time. She'll be 14 at the end of the month, and I think she's finally starting to realize how lame I really am.) First we had lunch at Burger King, and then we went to a family fun day downtown. There was face-painting, balloon animals, games, door prizes, etc. - fun, but so exhausting that I conked out as soon as I got home.

More cool stuff for today - back in October, our temple was visited by a camera crew from the History Channel. We're featured for about five minutes in a two-hour long program called "You Don't Know Dixie," that tries to debunk stereotypes about the south. It's on TV tonight, and although the History Channel's played it before, this will be my first time to see it. Lots of faces from the temple are in it, including Rebecca! (When Jacob told me, my first response was, "What was I wearing that day?")


Screencaps from our part of the show! )

I almost ended this entry with a nice verse from the Torah, but if you know me, you won't be surprised that I went with The Beatles instead.
Man, we was lonely, yes, we was lonely

And we was hard-pressed to find a smile
Man, we was lonely, yes, we was lonely
But now we're fine all the while
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

On Tuesday evening, I attended my first meeting of the women's group our temple. I was a little blown away by how much work these women put into running the temple, fundraising, planning dinners and events, organizing the religious classes, sending food to members who sick or grieving, etc. They are a force to be reckoned with! I was so impressed.
 
I have to say, maybe because it was my first meeting, but I felt very out-of-place. First of all, the meeting was held at one lady's house in Swanky Subdivision Land. Honestly, it was probably one of the nicest houses I've ever been in. I kept wanting to say, "No, you don't understand! I love junk food and collect cans and shop at Goodwill!" Also, every other woman there was old enough to be my mother (or grandmother) and I had nothing to contribute when they talked about their husbands, kids, grandkids, and gardens. But they were all so sweet to me that I feel I have to go back for the next meeting. Mrs. Cohen, who sat next to me, said she was "adopting" me and appointing herself as my "meddling Jewish mother." (Haha! Cohen, just what my last name always gets misheard as!)

Still, it was hard. How can just visiting a house in the town where I've lived for so long feel more foreign going to than France?

The other downside is that the meetings seem to be held on Tuesday evenings, so I missed seeing NCIS "live." I watched this week's episode (Two-Faced - my notes are at the bottom, and they're long as heck!) online twice, and it just blew my mind. You can find excellent (better) summaries here by [livejournal.com profile] kew121 and here by [livejournal.com profile] littlesammy.

On Wednesday and Friday mornings, I had two job interviews. The interesting thing is that they were both positions I didn't apply for; the employers had seen my resume online and called me in. This has never happened before, and I'd like to think it's a good sign, but I also don't want to get my hopes up. Today I went straight to temple from work, and from there, straight to Grandma's house for a dinner of sloppy joes and cake. Yum.

I'm typing up some fanficiton in another window right now. Strange that in 2010, I wrote twelve stories in six months, while this is only my fourth story of 2011. I suppose I must have more of a life this year than I did then. Who'd have thought?


But I still don't have too much of a life to talk forever about NCIS! My essay-length notes on 8x20 "Two-Faced" )
rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
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What? There are four seasons? Not just hot and cold? Just kidding. You can see the seasons here in Louisiana, but you have to look (really! hard!) for them. I have a tag for each season in this LJ for that purpose.

Any guesses as to how Rebecca spent her evening? She was eating some very spicy boiled crabs off old newspapers, with three old Cajun ladies and one five-year-old one (my cousins from Alabama are in town). We were all buried up to our elbows in crab meat and pieces of shell, and my lips felt like they were on fire! Here are some snippets of conversation I want to remember.

Karla: Do I smell like crab?
Mackenzie (the five-year-old): No, you don't smell like crab, but the crabs do. They have pinchers to fight with, 'cause they think we're gonna kill 'em. And we do.

Grandma: I remember, after Hurricane Audrey in '57, my mama swore off crabs and crawfish for over a year.
Rebecca: (not getting it) Really? Why?
Grandma: 'Cause they're scavengers.
Rebecca: (still not getting it) So?
Grandma: Well, over 400 people drowned in Hurricane Audrey. You know, in the water. (I like to imagine her thinking, "What the hell? Do I have to draw her a picture?")
Rebecca: (with awakening horror) Oh, wait... you mean... oh, gross! That's disgusting!

Last week I began job-hunting in earnest. Lately I've begun to feel that no job on earth could be worse than the one I have now, and I know that's an exaggeration (my job isn't that bad, and there are certainly worse ones out there) but that's just how it feels to me. I would've started looking sooner, but I really hate job-hunting. I can't stop thinking back to the gut-clenching marathon of misery that was the Job Hunt of Summer '08. I keep telling myself that it won't be that bad, it couldn't possibly be because #1) I already have a job, something I didn't have that summer, and #2) I'm not living with Mom anymore, like I was then. Two big weights off my shoulders right there.

The job hunt has already had its ups and downs. The idea of new possibilities is hopeful and invigorating, but the application process is stressful and time-consuming. It's almost like having a second job. I hope to search thoroughly and consistently, but since I just started, I haven't even heard back from a single person yet, and I'm sure it'll be hard to keep the search up once the constant rejections start rolling in.

Still, I hope that 2011 will be a year of good things. It might even see Rebecca officially convert to Judaism. I hadn't intended to jump into that so soon, but I made the mistake of mentioned it to my rabbi, and now he seems to have hold of the idea like a dog with a bone. Say a little prayer that Rebecca's doing the right thing, because you all know how I go through phases, and there are some people out there that I would hate to disappoint.
rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)
Rebecca's Christmas List for this year is very grown-up and boring. I do want some fun, entertaining things, but I hope to buy those myself with any money I get for Christmas.
  • Black socks to wear to work.
  • A black belt, also for work.
  • Books: Plain Beautiful – The Life of Peggy Ann Garner, by Sandra Grabman; a Calvin & Hobbes book that neither Sara nor I has yet, especially Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons or Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.
  • A new shower curtain. Our old one is falling to pieces. Just nothing with cats, flowers, etc. on it.
  • A shirt with something funny (but inoffensive) about Jews or French people. CafePress is the place to go for these.
  • Flash/Jump/USB drives. It's all the same thing, just with different names. I would prefer a few small ones (no higher than 4G) to one big one, and something colorful or patterned that I won't lose. My store has a big selection, and they start pretty cheap.
  • Bumper stickers reading God Loves a Duck and/or Klaxonnez si vous parlez français (Honk if you speak French). There are a few local places that make custom bumper stickers and some more online. I would prefer ones that are colorful and easy-to-read. These will go on our second car, when we get it.
I just got done putting up and decorating our Christmas tree. It's another artificial one, and a little too big for how many ornaments we have, but it still looks nice. I'm not a Christmas freak by any means, but I've always enjoyed trimming the tree. This year, however, my feelings were mixed.

At this time last year, I had hardly been exposed to Judaism at all. I thought I knew a lot about it, because it's something I've always been interested in, but I've learned so much over the course of this year, I realize now that I knew nothing back then. The more I learn about Judaism, the more out-of-touch, even uncomfortable, I feel with some of the concepts of Christianity. Even though I'm fresh back from Hanukkah services and thinking seriously about converting (although I refuse to make any rash decisions, and people at the temple have not pressured me at all), I still thought I could take Christmas in stride. After all, my family has never really celebrated it religiously, and we're a pretty mixed mixed bunch – Mormons, Catholics, heathens, etc.

But my Christmas has hit a few bumps. Trimming the tree felt... weird, especially hanging our few religious ornaments. We've had these ornaments forever (there's one of Mary holding Jesus that I made myself in kindergarten, and vividly remember making; there's another of the Holy Family that I got at Midnight Mass 2008) so it made me sad to feel that they didn't belong. I keep telling myself that it's no big deal and I can celebrate Christmas secularly, but that feels a little weird, too.

The appropriation of Jewish holidays seems offensive to me. I've never actually encountered it, but I've read about it at
[info]weirdjews
, and I sort of consider the entire "Jews for Jesus" movement to be one big, massively wrong appropriation. (Especially since I've heard these people target real Jews for conversion. Scary.) So it occurred to me that secularizing Christmas is, in a way, an appropriation of a Christian holiday. I used to be annoyed by the "Keep Christ in Christmas" message – especially back in high school, when I heard it all the time – but now I think I understand where they're coming from. And this is an unpleasant sensation, because I'm used to making fun of people who have a different opinion, not seeing their side of things. I must be losing it.

On the other hand, Christmas has become very secularized in American culture. It's not something I personally chose to happen, so why can't I celebrate it however I want?

rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

I went for a bike ride on Saturday evening – loving this fall weather while it lasts – and stopped by Grandma's house for something to eat. My cousin Eva is staying there while her parents are out-of-town. She and I watched some NCIS and played Speed, a card game that Athena and I used to play religiously when we were her age. I remember giving Athena a Peanuts deck of cards for her birthday one year, which we thought was the be-all, end-all of cool.

Eva said she loves walking at night but never gets to do it because no one ever wants to go with her. I said she should have been born into my family. (Just kidding, I would never wish that on her. But between us, we do everything at night – walking, running laps, bike riding, etc.) It took us forever to convince our crazy grandma to let us go, but I took Eva on a walk to my old high school. It was already dark, even though it wasn't that late, and lots of houses in the neighborhood had Halloween-colored lights and glow-in-the-dark skeletons strung up. We ran all over the campus, climbing up the bleachers, peering in windows at the classrooms, and ducking down to hide whenever a car drove by. I felt kinda stupid, but it was fun. Eva tripped and cut her hand at one point, and when we got home, she told Grandma she'd been in a knife fight.

It felt so strange seeing the school at night like that. I couldn't stop thinking about the four years of my life spent there, the person I was then, and all the things I learned – most of which, except for the French classes, I've now forgotten. In fact, I wrote the Paul Simon lyric “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school / It's a wonder I can think at all” in a big Sharpie marker across the front of the zipper binder I used for my junior and senior years. It's even stranger to think that I graduated from there over seven years ago. Damn.

I found out today that yesterday night, around the time Eva and I were running around, my Grandma's longtime neighbor passed away. “Ain't it funny how the night moves / When you just don't seem to have as much to lose?”

rebecca_in_blue: (downcast eyes)

So I'm thinking about changing my name. I've wanted to do it for a long time, in the sort of half-hearted way of most people who aren't totally happy with their name. I mean, I think it's common to hear people say they hate their name or want to change it, but rare to see anyone actually follow through and do it. For years I've been saying I want to change my name, but lately I've been giving serious thought. I don't know why now.

I love my first name and identify strongly with it. I love the sound of it -- dynamic, strong, and bold; even though I might not possess those qualities in abundance, I'm glad my name does, and I can't imagine I won't always feel this way. (And I'll always be grateful to my dad for giving it to me and not letting Mom go through with Jessica or whatever name she wanted.) According to one of Sara's baby name bibles: "Tender and graceful, Rebecca has long been a literary favorite. Recently, biblical 'rediscoveries' like Hannah and Abigail have been more popular, but Rebecca remains an unquestioned classic." (Gah, listen to me talking about names! But this is what living with Sara does to you.)

I like my middle name well enough. It's my last name that's the problem. The sound of the it, and having it constantly mispronounced, and always having to spell it for people -- those things don't really bother me anymore because I've gotten used to them. My last name wouldn't be so bad by itself, but it just clashes horribly with Rebecca. Sometime in college, in one of my French classes, we were learning about how the French language is basically built around avoiding cacophonies, and I realized that my first and last names create a cacophony! (I remember thinking, "How in the hell can I go to France with a cacophony in the middle of my name? They'll laugh me out of the country!" While in France, no one ever mentioned it, but I knew it was there, and that bothered me. But not as much as the boo-hiddy haircut I had while I was there.)

As I said, I've thought pretty hard about this, and I've decided that changing my name wouldn't feel like renouncing who I was and everything I did under my previous name. Probably because, again, I've never identified that much with my last name. It also wouldn't feel like I was separating myself from my family, since the new last name -- which I've had picked out since high school -- is also a family name, my grandmother's maiden name. (Even though none of the relatives that I'm close to/see regularly have this name.) It would probably present the same problems of getting mispronounced and misspelt, but it would go much better with Rebecca and give me a last name that I like as much as my first.

But of course, it turns out that changing your name is easier said than done. The process but varies by state, but it usually involves filing a name change petition, getting it approved, possibly paying some fee, then getting a new driver's lisence and social security card (and possibly a new birth certificate, and if I ever leave the country again, a new passport) -- plus changing records with your bank and employer.

I guess the question comes down to whether I want a new name enough to go through a buttload of paperwork for it. Feedback on this would be appreciated.

rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
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This is a really interesting Writer's Block. Would twelve-year-old Rebecca be disappointed or pleased with modern-day Rebecca? I really don't know. Both, I guess. I honestly don't remember what I wanted to do for a living or where I wanted to live when I was twelve -- which surprises me, because I usually have an excellent memory -- but I doubt the dream was to work a part-time retail job and live in the same neighborhood in 2010 as in 1996. So maybe in that respect, my twelve-year-old self would be disappointed. But I like to think that there are other things for her to be happy about.

First and foremost is that I am happy. (For the most part, anyway.) Looking back now, I don't think twelve-year-old Rebecca was very happy at all. Maybe it was because middle school was hell on earth. But I think it was because she wasn't comfortable with herself yet. That sounds so cheesey, but I can't express it any better. All in all, the journey from twelve to now hasn't been so bad; best of all, it's been short, which means the majority of the journey is still to come. My asthma is infinitely better now than it was then. My sister is still making me laugh. What still hurts the most is Dad and Aunt Carolyn. What doesn't hurt at all anymore is not getting into the LA School, which I thought was the end of my world.

And the craziest thing of all? That hyper, energetic little black puppy that my family got when I was twelve is the same slow, lethargic gray old dog who lives with me today.

rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
I had another dream involving child actresses last night. (See also the one about Liz Taylor and the one about Anna Paquin & Victoire Thivisol.) In it, I'd just bought a DVD of this movie starring a really young Dakota Fanning (like, I Am Sam-era young), a Matilda-era Mara Wilson, and a modern-day Natalie Portman, who I think was playing Mara's mom. I can't remember anything about the actual movie, except that I really loved it and was so excited to have a copy.

Adam and I drove out to Iowa yesterday for the Rabbit Festival. I enjoyed the atmosphere and looking around at the booths, but I mostly just went for the carnival food. I love carnival food! (Carnival rides make me sick now, which makes me feel about as old as Grandma!) With the incredibly strong smells of boiled crawfish -- which, like coffee, I love the smell but not the taste of -- and onion rings bombarding my nose from every direction, it was really hard to limit my choices to nachos, funnel cakes, and fried oreos. Adam had a sno-cone and cotton candy. Would you believe he's curious as to what raw onions taste like, but wouldn't try a bite of delicious funnel cake? We also visited Celeste & Co. while there and met their dog Bo, who is so sweet that he reminded me of Dug from Up. Within a few minutes of meeting me, he was throwing himself in my lap and gazing up at me adoringly. The most amazing thing is that I could pull myself away from NCIS and leave the house at all that day.

The weather was nice enough while we were out yesterday, but last night was almost scary. It didn't rain much, but the wind was strong that I thought I was back in Villers-Cotterets. It practically shook the apartment building at some points, and I could hear it whooshing up and down the streets like it was alive. And angry.

Today I did my laundry at Grandma's, flipped through her TV Guide, and made a list of every NCIS episode coming on from Monday to Thursday. I put it up on our refrigerator, although I considered taping it to the corner of the TV screen. I'm so excited: tomorrow is "Judgment Day," the one where Jenny dies!!! I've been looking for that episode on YouTube since for weeks, but I've only found parts of it, so I never got the whole story on how she died. As much as I liked her and didn't want her to die, this is going to be awesome.

Tomorrow, it's back to the salt mines. There has been a lot of drama at work lately because one of my managers claims she's being disrespected. I think she's just taking her anger over her skunk-striped dye job out on us. Sara has said I'm "the definition of passive-aggressive" -- which is something I've seriously been trying to change -- but I'm nothing compared to some of my co-workers. They're having worse problems with Skunkhair than I am, because they tend to cry in the corner, roll their eyes, make sarcastic comments under their breath, and/or bitch to me when she pisses them off. I am working at honestly telling her when she pisses me off, and why.

I've also been trying to figure out how I got to be so passive-agressive in the first place. It sounds so whiny for anyone to still blame their problems on their mom when they're an adult, but I do think my mom's part of it. She's not a cruel person, but when she gets mad, she can say and do incredibly hurtful things. I don't remember ever trying to talk to her about this -- or about anything -- because it was always a given to me that she wouldn't apologize, wouldn't admit she'd done anything wrong, wouldn't change. I remembered recently that when I was a little kid, if I was doing I shouldn't, if someone said to me, even in a perfectly nice way, "Please don't do that," I would feel devastated and think they were angry with me. Is that normal? But then, is anyone? Think I'll go watch Matilda now.
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
Last night Sara and I watched Now, Voyager, this Bette Davis movie I checked out from the library. I was pissed at Sable when I had to pause it halfway-through to take him for a walk -- he always seems to need to be walked at the most inopportune times -- but as soon as I stepped outside, I didn't mind so much. My mind boggled that I could possibly be seeing snow (!) in Louisiana (!!) in March (!!!), and I'm still not sure that's what it was, but it was drifting to the ground in such a lazy, back-and-forth motion that I'm sure it wasn't plain old rain. It was so fine that I could barely feel it, and I could only see it when I looked at the super-bright light over the back of our apartment building. It was damn hypnotic, and beautiful. I should be grateful to Sable for that. Sometimes I worry that we petty humans will eventually get so caught up in our screens, appliances, possessions, etc. that we'll completely lose touch with the world around us, and each other. (And I guess I'm more guilty of this than anybody, since I'm the one whose life is being taken over by a TV show.)

The message that I took from Now, Voyager is that there are as many different ways to be happy as there are people in this world. Most people in the movie assumed that the only way for Charlotte to be happy was for her to marry well; even Jerry seemed to think this. But in the end, that wasn't what she needed to be happy at all. The other message, of course, is that Bette Davis is Just. Too. Much. (Her words, by the way.)

Today I deep-cleaned my room so thoroughly that I suspect Sable didn't know where he was when he woke up. I actually got into the zone and enjoyed it, even though kicking up all those clouds of dust made me wheeze. I also went over to Grandma's house and hung up her bird-feeder for her: "I'm old, so it's safer for me if you do it." Yesterday I actually heard myself using the word "ta-tie," which I can't spell and is some sort of Cajun word for boogey-man. Sara was freaked because it's strictly an old-Cajun-people word.

rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)

Rebecca hasn't barfed since June 17 -- over three weeks! And I haven't eaten out since June 30, which is probably a new record for me in abstaining from fast food.

We're having a meeting at work on Sunday morning, and today I asked Nice Manager about it. I'd assumed it would be about Back-to-School, since that season is our Christmas and is nearly upon us, but she said it was to address "the corruption that's been going on up here." And believe me, I pressed her for more details, but that was all she'd tell me. So I asked a different manager, but he just said, "Uh... it's about... stuff we need to improve upon," and changed the subject. I haven't been doing anything wrong, but I'm still worried. People at work have seemed tenser lately. Maybe it's my imagination, or maybe it's from getting ready for Back-to-School, which I've heard is going to be crazy-busy and stressful. Plus I've found out that I don't get vacation time until I've worked there for a year, which is disappointing. We'll just have to wait and see what happens on Sunday morning.

For some reason, writing about this has made me feel worse, not better. Isn't writing about something supposed to make it better? Sometimes I feel like I've spending my whole life going without, like that's supposed to make me a better person or something. Like the mayor in Chocolat, who was always fasting and abstaining from anything fun or enjoyable, only to go crazy and gorge himself on chocolate in the end. Maybe I need to better appreciate the things I do have, and stop feeling like I'm doing something wrong whenever I treat myself to something.

If I can, I'm taking Eva to the water park this weekend. It had better not rain.

rebecca_in_blue: (patient)

I took a nap yesterday after the meeting, and damn, for some reason, taking naps in the middle of the day gives me the freakiest-ass dreams.

The closest cemetery to our apartment is very small and very old. The graves there date back to the 1860's, and I doubt if there are any more recent than the 1920's. But unlike other old cemeteries in the city, this one hasn't been well-preserved. It's never mowed, so the grass is wild and very high in places. Lots of the graves are cracked or broken. It's on a corner in a residential neighborhood, but no one ever visits it, and driving past it, you probably wouldn't notice it's a cemtery at all, because the chain-link fence surrounding it is so overgrown that it's almost impossible to see through.

The only part of the fence that isn't overgrown is the gate. But Friday evening, I was riding past on my bike and saw that the gate too had become hidden under the ivy and weeds. It made me think of that TV show Life After People (which I've never seen but have heard good things about from Sally), about how the earth, if left to its own devices, will take back everything and eventually erase all signs of human life. It's like that was happening to this cemetery. It made me so mad, for some reason. I mean, there are about a hundred people buried in that cemetery, so some must still have descendants in the area. Why doesn't anybody ever come to visit it? Why doesn't anybody care? I went inside and started ripping up the weeds and tearing down the ivy until the gateway was clear again. I got a splinter in my hand that stung like a bitch. Then I came home and watched Ponette. I was in the mood for it.

When Sara wants me to shut up, she asks me a question about a child actress, because she knows I'll get quiet and think. Once she asked me who I thought was the best child actress of the 1990's. If you define best by how many people heard of you and how much money you made, the decade probably goes to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. But if you define best in terms of pure, raw talent, the decade goes to Victoire. Those who would give it to anybody else (say, Anna Paquin, who was a good actress of the decade) are those who haven't seen Ponette. I think what makes that film so powerful it's that it's so real. It's not scripted, the way virtually all other movies are. I think we've gotten so used to that that we don't even notice it anymore. But when have you ever heard anybody talk in real life the way people do in movies? And it's so personal. That's the other important thing about it. The way Ponette perceives the world is, on a deeper level, the way we all perceive the world, or used to. I don't think Victoire and Doillon can ever be praised highly enough for it.

 

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