Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shana Tova

"So this is the time of year for getting there, eventually." So said the chief rabbi of my congregation in his Rosh Hashana sermon yesterday, about two sentences after I finally made it to services. The pause, right before "eventually" was measured and delivered for maximum effect--lightening the mood mixed in equal measure with The Whole Point of the Sermon, or so I deduced not having heard most of the thing. He used to be a litigator, you know, so he is on top of this dramatic pause business.

You know you are reeeeaaaaly late to services when you get there for the tail end of the sermon. But, you know, as the man said, we got there, eventually. We went home after. But an hour and a half later we were back, in time not just for the community Tashlich ceremony, but for the walk from the synagogue to the pond. Tashlich is a ceremony where we throw breadstuffs into living waters, a focal point, a way to acknowledge the things you want to do better on, to name them to yourself, and to begin the long hard slog of actually doing better.

Well, this is what it's supposed to be. Watching the kids gleefully lob chunks of chalah into the pond yesterday, it was hard to believe they were up to such lofty self-examination. On the walk back to our car I asked Monkey what she was thinking of as she did the lobbing. And holy crap-- the child actually had a list, a reasonable list of things she wants to do better on. I tried to act like I fully expected her to say that, but really? Wow.

For my part, I was thinking almost exclusively of my good and dear friend procrastination. I have always procrastinated, as far back as those elementary school papers and projects. I have also had periods of great productivity in my life, some brief, and some much more prolonged. In the wake of A's death, though, I somehow found procrastination to be mostly a warm, familiar blanket. When you have a lot to get done, there is a lot to think about, and procrastinating on all of it keeps all of it available for thinking about. Not exactly the same magnitude as the black hole in the middle of your soul, you understand, but we take what we can get.

The trouble with procrastinating, of course, is that the shit piles up. At work, and most certainly at home, I have projects galore. In other words, I need to get my rear in gear. I don't expect to magically get on top of things and stay there forever and ever, amen. But I am going to take a stab at it. This new resolve comes at a good time. I think in fact it has been bubbling up to the surface for a little while now-- last week I started making those to-do lists that have been the staple of nearly all of my productive periods, and have even crossed some stuff off already.

Not that you do or should care about my new found resolve, except that I have also been procrastinating here, in my electronic home, to an unfortunately large degree. My younger son is now almost seven weeks old, and for five of those weeks I have been trying to write a post of proper introduction. Layout, some sentences, and even small passages of it are in my head, but, so far, no electrons have been harmed in the making of that post. It's a big one, that post, and committing it to writing is, judging by how long I am taking, a big deal. It's on my list though, with the title and everything.

My brother in law proposed a toast yesterday in which he said that this past Jewish year, as far as our immediate family goes, would be hard to beat. On paper, he is absolutely right-- they got married, we had a live baby. Unfortunately, this was also the year our cousin got his heart broken, stomped on, and fed to the dogs. And this is the year when our grandmother's Alzheimer's stepped up from difficult to profoundly disabling. But here's the thing-- even for those of us with the shining and brilliant outcomes the road has not been easy. It may be that my sister and brother in law have managed to exhale that great big clusterfuck to the chupah that was planning their wedding, but I don't think I can honestly say that I have exhaled my past year, yet. (Though today's services helped. I cried. That's probably all you need to know.)

So it's been a hard, but a very good year. Which certainly beats the pants off a hard and bad year any day. And in the end, at the very end, this was the year that I flew.

But that is a story for another day. Soon. For now, though, have a happy and sweet new year, everyone, Jewish, academic, or arbitrary.


Rosepetal said...

Happy new year!

You could always just post another pic of the youngest to keep us ticking over. 7 weeks already! I can't believe it.

Procrastination is definitely my unwanted clingy friend, helped in no small measure by his big brother The Internet. But I don't think the mother of a newborn can ever be accused of procrastinating :-)

Superlagirl said...

Happy new year!

I hear you on the procrastination. It's killing me.

Amelie said...

Happy new year!
Procrastination is my friend too, right here. Sigh. I'll go and write a list now.

Lori said...

Oh goodness, Happy New Year to you too! And I do hope the next year brings even more glorious surprises- maybe even a quick, painful end to that old foe procrastination, for all of us.

I look forward to a much lengthier introduction to the new little man in your life. I am dying to here more about the little guy- and you, as his mother.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i am ms. last minute too. what gets me off my arse every to set a deadline and write out a check to some cause that i find horrible and promise myself that i will send it shoudl i not meet my deadline...which is, of course, not last minute. works like a charm. usually i use the republican party. maybe you could give to paulin's??
i love the pic. it looks scary but fun. we must know the story.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...


Aurelia said...

Duuuude, gimme a picture. Mine is so big now, I can't believe the size. You can write it up later.

Or just write anything. It really doesn't have to be perfect you know. We love you anyway!

niobe said...

Happy new year!

I've been thinking of you and your family a lot these days.

Beth said...

Oh! Happy New Year!

Procrastination is my first name.

Hang in there.

ms. G said...

Ummmm....Julia, procrastination is MY boyfriend okay? We have been together a long time now. :)

I have the hardest time getting anything done, especially blogging. The fact that you have Monkey and a 7 week old and are talking about crossing things off your list...well, let us just say I am crazy jealous.

Happy new year, and thank you for sharing some of your traditions with us. It is an aspect of your blog I love. By the way, I am curious, what was on Monkey's list?

Betty M said...

Happy new year!

I am queen of procrastination in our house - I have a list always but nothing gets done until someone is breathing down my neck.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is a very sweet year for you and your family.

Coggy said...

Happy New Year Julia. Here's to this year being even better!

christina(apronstrings) said...

i didn't realize that our babies our so close in age.duh., cate is 6 weeks.
i love the pitures. they say a lot about what is going on in your life. did you mean that?
nonetheless i like the pictures.