Saturday, April 8

spring fever?

How ironic. I was just thinking about blogging about having finally found a permanent cleaning lady that we managed to click with, following a year and a half of a steady parade of temporary cleaners that always ended up not working out for one reason or another. I was going to express my relief at finally knowing who was coming every two weeks on Sunday morning, that she had learned where everything was and how we like things done so that we didn't have to reinvent the wheel twice a month. She came about five times, I guess. The fact that she's much more chatty than I would like, that she wanted to bring a helper we didn't know, that it's very inconvenient for her to start later than 8am -- these were issues I might have left out, choosing instead to emphasize what really mattered, that we had finally come to the end of an endlessly stressful trial and error process.

I certainly wouldn't have dwelt on the sensitive issue of her being an Arab from one of the area's small towns. A certain PC discomfort in this quasi-open forum might have held me back. But that seems to have been a material issue in the fact that she has just become the latest in a long line of cleaners that have bailed on us.

She was supposed to come tomorrow morning, and called this evening to ask if she could bring her boyfriend to see our apartment. It seems he's the jealous type, and he'd demanded to see all the places she works, to make sure she's not cheating on him or something. She's a divorced mother of about 30, from an Arab village -- apparently being engaged to this guy looks better to her than her current situation. I can't help but feel sickened and sorry for her, but I don't want any part of that drama. Mr. Squarepeg told her in no uncertain terms that we do not agree to have the guy come up to see the apartment, and that this was inappropriate. Only after this, he told me that last time she was here she had a 10-minute screaming fight on the phone with the boyfriend, which had also struck him as inappropriate when a person is at work.

So that means she's not coming back. And we go back to our search.

In spite of this and the fact that it's back to work tomorrow morning, I'm feeling uncharacteristically cheerful, even though I've had one of my lovely PMS headaches much of the weekend (am keeping it under a certain control with 5HTP and codeine/aspirin pills, and it's gone now).

Could my good mood have anything to do with the fact that for the next two weeks we'll only be working half the time? ...uh, YEAH! Three days of work, then a four-day weekend; then two very quiet days of work during Pesach, and five days off (I'm taking an extra day to get away with mr. squarepeg to the Dead Sea for two nights).

And my car-slammed finger is doing very nicely, thank you, serving mainly as a reminder that my glass is most definitely half-full.

Friday, April 7

Bibi s blues

Interesting article in Haaretz today. Almost makes me feel guilty for maligning Netanyahu so often. After all, the writer makes him sound like something of a squarepeg lone-wolf type, so at least I should empathize with some aspect of his experience.

Strangely, several people who know him well claim he's the opposite of how I and most, I think, view him: I see him as a complete machiavellian liar, but he's portrayed here as a pathetic politician who can't lie, glad-hand at bar mitzvahs or rub shoulders with the hoi polloi in the market, but is actually a brilliant statesman.

Bibi, we hardly knew ya.

kosher is as kosher does

You may think slamming my finger in the car door a few days ago is not very interesting. But that's because it wasn't your finger. It was my finger, my dumbass experience, my consequences. For me, that's interesting. The day it happened I was a bit traumatized and couldn't think about anything else. I went home from work early, avoiding the traffic that would have doubled the length of the journey, and pretty much just lay down for the rest of the day. The next day I was much better, but still couldn't use the finger to type or write or anything else. It got quite swollen, and I discovered that it needed to be lanced. I pricked it with a sewing needle just under the side of the nail, and a gusher of accumulated blood was released. That was brilliant, because with the pressure of the fluid gone, the finger hardly hurt anyore. Since then, I've been soaking it in salt water a lot, and the pale pink liquid keeps draining out a little every day. I was worried about my bruised nail, but it doesn't look half as bad now I managed to get rid of the majority of the blood under there. The extent of the damage remains to be seen, and will I guess become evident as it grows out. It doesn't hurt now to press on my nail, but it does feel very weird and semi-numb.

And here's the moral of the story, as I see it -- message to Squarepeg from the Universe, as it were: moaning, complaining, bitching, sulking about my circumstances is just an invitation to the universe to show me things can definitely be worse. I was so pissed off at going to work on Sunday morning (i.e. "monday morning blues"), that I needed to learn that the situation as is was great compared to what else it could be. The old rabbi's lesson of the animals in the apartment, once again.

Or, as Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) said to Anakin Skywalker in part one of the Star Wars triple trilogy (which I just saw for the first time, with ms. squarepeg today), Your focus determines your reality. Do we EVER learn that lesson? [Sigh.]

So Pesach is upon us, this Wednesday evening. All the married women at work go on about how they have to get to the Pesach cleaning. At Pesach, people don't just say, "Hag sameach" [Happy holiday], as they do at other holidays. At Pesach, they frequently add, "and kosher" -- may your holiday be not only happy but also kosher. (So it seems that being kosher at this time of the year is more important than usual.) And this essentially means neither eating nor having in your house any products that could be related to bread, yeast, flour, and more stuff than I can keep track of.

As you already know, I'm a lousy Jew and even lousier with any kind of history, but what I gather is that when the Jews fled from Pharaoh and made their way out of Egypt, they had no time to let bread dough rise. Because of this, we traditionally eat matza, an unleavened product, and no bread. But why flour, generally, is forbidden, I have no idea. Not to mention beer.

In any case, tradition/religion demands that every single household thing and every single nook and cranny be cleaned and purged of any vestige of hametz -- the forbidden food items or even their dust. In other parts of the world, perhaps in simpler times, this was known as 'spring cleaning.' Or maybe that's just what secret Jews called it, once upon a time, when their WASPy neighbors expressed wonder at the sudden concerted efforts to move and clean everything in the house.

Naturally, I pay no attention to all this. It's difficult to find the forbidden products during Pesach, so I make sure to stock up beforehand. I bought three great loaves of bread yesterday, and checked that the beer supply hadn't fallen too low. In a symbolic gesture, though, I cleaned my stove really thoroughly this morning, even soaking the iron parts that cover the burners, which I haven't done for at least a year. It's really quite satisfying, I must grudgingly admit.

My in-laws will be coming here for the "seder" -- not that we'll really do a seder, just another token effort -- and bringing both the requisite gefilte fish and the main meat course. I'll be doing the chicken soup with matza balls, salad, and the dessert: cheesecake with hametz crust.

Yeah, yeah, I know: I'm going straight to hell.

Sunday, April 2

self-inflicted, work-related

Sunday morning, another week begins -- this one just a little more miserable than most as a result of the hour of our lives/sleep lost to the spring forward of daylight savings time.

Ironically, just as summer time began, winter returned with a vengeance. On Friday morning I was working on my tan in an old but still serviceable bikini that will never see a locale outside of my apartment's balcony; it was so hot I couldn't take more than 20 minutes on each side before I gave up to go splash cold water on my sweating face. By Saturday night, the apartment had gotten colder than it's been in two months, and the bed took forever to get comfortable. All night, it thundered and lightninged and poured down and was still gloomy and raining this morning. Traffic was snarled worse than ever due to traffic lights being knocked out by the storm.

I tossed and turned dreaming nonstop about documentation management and the main product manager I need to deal with. Despite the rain, we are not talking about a wet dream here. I must have been troubled.

When the clock radio blared at 7, I just turned over and went back to sleep for a while. I was still exhausted. I'm usually the first one up, drag myself to pee and then make coffee, shouting to ms. squarepeg on the way to start moving. Mr. squarepeg will get out of bed when he has to, at a moment's notice. He doesn't drag in the morning like we do. Around 7:35 I finally got up and shouted to the young ms to get cracking. I went to the kitchen to throw her lunch together, and she emerged for her banana soon after. That's all she eats in the morning, these days; I give her anything else (like oatmeal or cheerios & milk), she says she feels sick.

Mr. S agreed to give her a ride to school today, because of the pelting rain (which had pretty much stopped by the time they left, as it turned out), and that's how I heard about the terrible traffic jams all over town. What should have been a 10-minute drive turned into half an hour to take her just halfway, and then he let her walk the rest. So she missed most of her first class.

I took my time getting ready for work, knowing I could beat the jams by leaving late as usual. But even though I didn't get on the road till 10 am, it was still snarled, and the trip took twice as long as usual, nearly 50 minutes today.

I was in a pretty foul mood, I must admit. I was dragging my ass to work and not happy about it, typically bummed out for a Sunday morning. I had to drive around the parking garage more than usual to find a spot, and finally squeezed in beside some ass whose car was leaning way too heavily into the free spot to his/her right. That always irritates me too. It left me minimal space to open my door, and as I got out I banged my head, with my sunglasses perched on top, into the door frame, causing the glasses to clatter to the floor of the lot. That felt idiotic. But the best was yet to come.

Sighing in mental preparation for the office, I grabbed my purse and my tote bag -- how men manage with pockets alone never fails to amaze me -- and stepped out of the car into the narrow space between the cars, and quickly slammed the door behind me.

Unfortunately, that's when my day went really bad because somehow my right index finger was slammed in the door too. Horrified, I dropped everything on the filthy floor and opened the door to release my finger. I don't know if you've ever experienced such a painful event, but my life flashed before me in that instant. Well, perhaps not exactly my life, but certainly the life and questionable future of my finger flashed before my eyes in those moments.

I urged myself not to panic and held the finger very tightly, squeezing it with my other hand to prevent the rush of blood to the finger that my body would naturally be attempting. This is what I always do to avoid a bruise if I get a knock or bang on some part of my body. Immediate pressure on the injured spot for a minute or two -- just until it stops hurting -- always has the desired effect, at least in minor incidents. This one was not minor though.

I opened the back door of the car so I could sit down while holding my finger, and sat this way for about five minutes. The pain grew, and my uninjured hand was shaking uncontrollably. I was afraid to look at the finger, afraid to see the damage, but after five minutes I looked quickly. No blood or gore; that was good. Not on the outside, anyway. My nail had already turned black, as I suppose the damage to the nail bed meant the blood was there whether I pressed on it or not.

I dragged myself up to the office wondering how I'd deal with this. The pain was huge and the finger was throbbing and I didn't really know if I should be taking myself to Emergency yet. I held it together in the elevator going up with someone I'm barely acquainted with, and once in the office went straight to my favorite colleague (50something modern religious guy, British-born) and said, "I need your help; I just smashed my finger in my car door." He immediately said, "We should get ice," and we went together to our little kitchen, in the freezer of which I've never found ice. Fortunately, he found two lone cubes, enough to put into a glass of water for me, so I could soak the finger. Too bad it completely killed to do so, but now and again I did it, in between radiating to the finger with my other hand.

Radiating is what I've learned to do to injuries of any kind; it's simply focussing the natural electromagnetic energy that any living person has coursing through him/her, by holding the fingertips of one hand together and pointing it at the injury. This works most noticeably with minor burns, by the way. If you touch a hot pan, for example, it would probably produce a first- or second-degree burn. However, by plunging the burn in cold water to immediately slow the burning process, and then radiating to the burn with your fingertips (you can do this to yourself, too) until the burn intensifies too much to continue, then back in the cold water, then radiate some more, and keep repeating this for about ten minutes, the burn disappears completely.

Any way, I sat at my desk basically doing this -- radiating and dunking in cold water -- while I read email. I called mr. squarepeg to moan a little and he offered to bring me the homeopathic ointment we like to use in such cases, Traumeel. That was really very sweet of him, and his caring did cheer me. Soon after that I went to lunch, then decided the pain would make it impossible to concentrate on anything, let alone type. It was a very slow day, thank god, with nothing urgent demanding my attention -- could have been a perfect day for making a dent in the soon-to-be-urgent projects -- and my boss was on the phone with her girlfriends all day, so there was no point in playing the martyr, the way I did in February with one of the worst migraines of my life on the day before an annual conference was convening. I went home at 3, finger throbbing all the way, but at least it was speedy; not a lot of commuters on the highway at that hour.

I've been mostly lying down since I got home. Sometimes it just feels like the nail area is in agony, but sometimes the pain feels like it's spreading up the finger into my whole hand and my arm too. I took some paracetamol (tylenol) when I started typing this, and it's less painful now. I am not using my index finger (pointer) to type, of course.

So I arranged myself something of a day off today, didn't I? Not exactly a gunshot wound to the foot, or an overdose of pills, but it served its sick purpose, I suppose.

Some people get back problems; others lose their voice or get the flu. Slamming your own finger in a car door somehow seems like a more obvious cry for help.