Category Archives: Random Ranting

How I Became a Runner

While I never held a press conference on the matter, it’s pretty much out by now that in early ’07, about half way through my pregnancy with Yiftah, I starting sinking into a pretty heavy depression. I remember the turning point – when it really hit. We were in Manhattan, with Neta, on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, looking out in all directions. I was clinging strongly to eighteen-month-old Neta, and thinking about the vast multitude of people spread out beneath us, and how it must have been the saddest thing I’d ever seen in my life.
It gets blurry from that point on. Being pregnant, with a toddler, and depressed was quite hellish. Neta was in day care, but the two hours a day I had to be alone with her until Tal came home from work were a living nightmare.
I’m not going to go to much into what was going on with me then, because it still triggers the fuck outta me, so let’s just fast forward a bit. After nearly a year of trying to cope, with some sessions with a state-funded therapist that didn’t really do much for me, when Yiftah was six months old, I started taking Sertraline HCl (AKA Lustral or Zoloft), the only SSRI that was considered truly safe for breastfeeding. It didn’t make life suddenly better or easier, but it lifted the veil of sadness through which I saw everything, and made it possible for me to perceive other shades of emotion once again.
Fast forward a bit more. Summer ’09. Yiftah is nearly two years old. I was starting to get back on track, and even ready to try getting off the medication. My days were pretty good, and it was becoming obvious that the main factor in my moods at the time was that Yiftah was still not sleeping at all well through the nights, and waking up very early in the mornings (read: well before dawn).
One of the caregivers at Yiftah’s daycare threw a nonchalant comment about me having gained a lot of weight. And it was true. I weighed almost as much as my peak weight during my pregnancy with Yiftah. Now, I’m not the type to fuss too much over my weight, but her comment made me realize that my promise to myself to get back into a proper exercise routine once Yiftah started sleeping through the night was not going to cut it. (Let the record state that Yiftah was not going to start sleeping well for another YEAR. Sleeping through the night has only been around for 3-4 months in this house, and it’s still rather fragile.)
So I decided I’d do a couple of things. First, I started practicing yoga, once or twice a week, after I hadn’t in several years. Second, I decided to buy a bike and start running my errands with it rather than with the car – good for the environment, good for myself (or so I thought). Third, I decided to look into the Couch-to-5k running plan, that had started popping up often on the LSG boards on Ravelry. (LSG, as always, you have made my life so much richer and for that I will always be grateful.) I figured that even if I’m a total zombie for lack of sleep, I ought to be able to give myself just half an hour, three times a week.
At first, I didn’t even tell anyone about it. I didn’t want to get all worked up about how I’d taken up running, only to have to start admitting later on that I fell off the wagon 2-3 weeks into the program. So the week of Yiftah’s second birthday, I was fully weaned off of the Sertraline, and started the program. I still remember very vividly, doing those Week 1 runs, with a stopwatch, red and heaving with effort, not believing that I’d been running for only 20 seconds. I couldn’t envision myself ever getting to the end of the program.
A week and a half into the program, I was having a really nice day. After sleeping in that morning, as I usually did to make up for the nights, I did my yoga, and even engaged in some massive organization work that needed to be done, and then took the bike out to pick up some food for lunch. On the way back home, on the downhill street right outside my house, I took a turn too fast, panicked, and jumped off the bike. It took me another 8 hours of taking care of the kids and conducting my usual chores to realize that my right wrist was not just bruised, it was broken. And another 24 hours after that to realize that my left shin was not just scraped by the asphalt, but severely infected, to the point that I was unable to walk on it for a few days.
Ugh.
After a week had passed, depression was starting to chew at me again. I had only just started to do good things with myself, and had been delivered a blow that really carried a clear message to keep my head down. I remember feeling very despaired. At this point, something snapped in me. I decided I was going to teach depression a lesson. I would go out. I would run. With my cast, and what have you. I would run long enough to start producing endorphins. I wanted to be able to say of myself, “well, I’m so crafty, I make my own antidepressants.”
So this time, I grabbed my neighbor, who had a 1-pack a day smoking habit of 20 years, thinking he and I would be pretty much on par, fitness-wise (I was so right about that, it was kind of sad and funny at the same time), and we started the program together. This was the end of July ’09. We stuck with the program, though I ended up getting thrown off track repeatedly with several very unfortunate mishaps along the way (and I’m going to keep this stuff personal – I don’t mind talking about it one on one but still feel uncomfortable having it plastered here for the world to see). Major family drama, the very sudden outbreak of chronic sinusitis and rather harsh allergies, lack of sleep, etc. But I stuck with it, and even at times that I couldn’t really run, I was out there, running what I could, walking what I couldn’t, moving. Sometimes, I was very glad not to be running alone, because it felt like if I were alone there would be nothing to stop me from running into oncoming traffic. But every time I came back from a run, even if it was really awful, my spirit would be lifted a notch. It was really working.
Running had very simply become equated with emotional health. It wasn’t about weight, it wasn’t about being able to fit into my jeans. It was about being able to reside in my own head and not want it all to end.
It took me almost 4 months rather than 2 to complete the program. And because of my physical health, for the longest time (until just a couple of weeks ago, in fact), completing the 5k/30 minutes was most certainly not a given.
In February ’10, I ran my first 5k race. I walked part of it. In April, I ran another, and walked maybe a minute in the middle. In May, I got very very sick and hit a wall with running. Couldn’t even run 15 minutes straight for a while. It’s been going up and down.
On 10.10.10, I ran my first 10k. It was the Tel Aviv Night Run. I ran with friends, and 15,000 other people. We ran slowly, my official race time was 1:18.00, and the whole way we were talking and singing and cheering and admiring the Tel Aviv night skyline and the vast sea of runners surrounding us. And I ran every single step of the way.
And I realized that I am, in fact, a runner. Not a wannabe, not in training. A person who runs. A person who could decide at this very second that I want to run now and just go out and do it.

On the emotional front, I’m not safe yet. I think that I never will be. Every time I’m sick and miss more than two runs in a row, I start plummeting pretty fast. But running really works for me. It can pick me up when I’m very down, to the extent that I can count on it, and when I’m having a particularly gloomy day, I know it will pass by the time of my next run. And maybe the knowledge that I am not safe will keep me running always.

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On Digging

For the longest time, I’ve been trying to sift through the mess of things I have accumulated in the room that is supposed to be my studio/clinic/whatever in the five years since I’ve become a mother and the only real use the room had seen was during the war in Gaza.
Every time I start at it, full steam, and then I stumble into a memento of something or other really painful, another lost opportunity or whatever. And then life keeps happening and somebody gets sick or work takes over, and it gets forgotten. I’m really trying, though. There are quite a few things I would like to throw myself into, that I cannot do without a proper space for my work.
I would really like to finally break through with all of this digging, rather than throw dirt on my own work every time I put down the shovel for a minute.

Anyway, I found some old poetry (maybe not proper poetry, but certainly not prose) I wrote. Here’s a small selection. Bear in mind that I feel more comfortable flashing my tits at random strangers than letting people who know me read my poetry.
But it’s only when you’re really chickenshit scared about something that you have the opportunity to be brave.

—-

Here we are talking about bald men
And I’m pulling my hair out
Over bald men
Duality is so confusing
I feel drawn yet I am not to follow
All at once with having all I need
How do I know which way to go
How do I keep from going in all directions

—-

If I had a lisp
I would speak all day
I would never ever shut up
I would make myself a public figure
A celebrity of sorts
And spread my message amongst the masses

—-

You, my dear, are a handful
Peter Pan, Wendy, and the crocodile all rolled into one
You turn tables into clubhouses, closets into spaceships, refrigerators into fearsome monsters
You citizen of Disneyland
You commander of things and people large and small
You marzipan piglet
You chicken-cat
You princess
You prisoner
You pumpkin
You gefilte fish
You upside-down, kicking and screaming refugee of a hot bathtub
You backwards-writing, chatterboxing computer child
You grandma’s look-alike
You daddy’s little girl
– When are you coming back?

———-
That’s all I’m sharing for now. If I get over the crippling fear, I might share some more.

So let me finish on a different note – my inspiration for digging today:


I don’t know about you, but I think it’s beautiful.

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Gateway

I know it’s not July 19th today. Still, walking back from my grandparents’ home to my mom’s after a brief visit stirred memories of July 19th, 2005. My gateway into a parallel universe. The last day before I became a mother.
Somehow, on that day, the emotions and thought processes of a person without children remained tangible to this other me, this mother me. And these emotions and processes are so very foreign to me now, that’s it’s kind of hard for me to believe that they were actually mine, and not something I read about somewhere.
Besides the obvious sudden presence of another, very time and attention consuming person in my life, it’s kind of hard to put a finger on the differences. I still go run errands and stop for a leisurely cup of coffee, if possible. I still frequent bookstores and can get lost for hours on end reading something engrossing or doing something seemingly pointless.
God knows that day was very marked with the promise of things to come, I was having contractions every five minutes or less from early morning, even though they were really not moving anywhere, and it took a good 36 hours from when they started until she was out. But still, there was one very big thing missing from that picture.
Everything I do nowadays, every breath I take, and whatever other cliches come to mind, is marked with this profound sense of responsibility and obligation. Everything else I had done in my life beforehand was reversible. Now nothing is.
Now, it so happens that I am actually quite good at motherhood. It challenges me, keeps me on my toes, and I do whatever I can to give my kids everything I think that they need and deserve. And they are really awesome kids. It really looks like I am doing my job well, if I may say so myself.
I still can’t help wondering what doors I have closed on myself, and trying to pinpoint the exact moment they slammed shut. Though I often realize, or maybe just really want to believe, that if I were doing anything else with my life, I would have been crazed with the ticking of my unsatisfied biological clock by now, and regretful that I hadn’t got a head start on it.
A major theme of my life for the most part, and from very early on, is that I don’t quite know how I ended up where I am right now. The feeling that I am the ultimate drifter, being carried by other people’s decisions and suggestions to some sort of latent nothingness, manifesting itself at different points in being able to say that I’m doing this or that, without really being committed to any of it.
Well, I am committed to motherhood. To the death, and I mean what I’m saying here. This is the one thing in my life to which I can trace the exact sequence of choices, all made with the conscious desire to become somebody’s mom.
I still don’t know if I can live with the concessions I have made to do this. I still don’t know if I have what it takes to keep it up for as long as I have to. And this terrifies me, because I know that I have chosen to give up my right to choose on this. Willingly, knowingly, gladly.
Sometimes I wish I could take off the adult costume, and go back to being the 4 year old me, which is still the “real me” with which I truly identify. And then I think about July 19th, 2005. What if I had passed that day, and woken up the next without any change in my life? And I think it’s the saddest thing I could ever imagine.

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Peace, fleeting

Yeah. There’s been a war going on here.

Contrary to other parties involved, we had it pretty easy, as far as wars go. The kids were at home because daycare was closed part of the time. There was the discomfort of having to head to the bomb shelter when the sirens went off. There was the stress of knowing that the sirens were not necessarily going to go off before missiles fall. There were the occasional missiles falling quite close to home. But all in all, we had it pretty easy.

The ceasefire was announced on Saturday. Saturday night, I heard a series of booms, and several minutes later it turned out that several missiles fell nearby without any warning. Still, it’s been quiet since. Quite a few missiles were fired yesterday to other areas, until the Hamas decided that they agree to cease fire as well.

Everybody has been quick to declare themselves the winners. Quite frankly though, I think you don’t have to be particularly bright to realize that we are all losers. What we did to the civilians living in Gaza is just a tragedy. Granted, this tragedy could have probably been averted if the Hamas government was not using its constituents as human shields for terrorist activity against civilian targets in Israel, but it is a tragedy, nonetheless.

Another stark reality is that this ceasefire is quite evidently temporary. It will last several weeks, several months, maybe even several years. But it will be tense and fragile, and it will end and we will go back to being ducks at a firing range, and feel very justified in inflicting further horrors on the unfortunate innocents living in the Gaza Strip, because terrorists have chosen to live among them.

On the news last night, they interviewed a Palestinian refugee living in Jordan. When asked how this was going to all be resolved, he said that for the time being we are going to make peace and live side by side, but that eventually they were going to kill all of us Jews. That’s it. This was not any terrorist or political activist talking. Just your average Joe (well, Ahmed). For many people, at least on the other side, that is the only visible solution. And it doesn’t mean that they hate us as individuals. It’s just that in their eyes we do not belong here, and that will eventually have to be corrected, at any cost.

And isn’t that really what it all boils down to? Do we belong anywhere? The future of the State of Israel is not obvious to me. I love this place and cannot see myself living anywhere else, but what chance to we have at any kind of sustainable existence if we are surrounded by people who are willing to wait patiently but believe eradicating us is the only way to go? And if that is the case, what future do the Jewish people as a whole have? Either being ethnically cleansed or being completely assimilated into other cultures?

I do so terribly want a peaceful existence. Peace with other nations, peace with the environment, peace with myself. The only thing I really seem to have any kind of control over is the “myself” part, and that is quite limited. But it seems that any choice I make, even simply being alive, is causing irreparable damage and disruption. And if that is the case, how can I even be at peace with myself?

Oy, I’m getting myself into a corner here. Though I guess that is just keeping with how we’ve all been feeling here these past few weeks. Cornered.

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Let’s ring in ’09 in style!

Ok, to be perfectly honest, I don’t give a rat’s ass about New Year’s. It’s another date. Got plenty of those.

And yet you must admit that being under Hamas fire is a helluva way to celebrate. All in all, we’re doing quite well. The house is well stocked, the weather is too cold to go out anyway, and the bomb shelter has wifi. It’s just plain surreal.

Monday, at about 2am, my neighbor was called off for emergency reserve duty somewhere near the Gaza strip. About 8 hours later, his wife was hospitalized for labor induction about a month early, due to low levels of amniotic fluid. Last night at 9pm, as she was pushing their third child into the world, with him by her side, though still in fatigues and fully armed, their older two kids got to spend five minutes in the bomb shelter facing ours, with their grandpa as babysitter. Totally surreal.

Enough kvetching about our situation here, though. There are people in the world who have it much worse. There are people 30 minutes away from me who have it much worse.

February 1st will mark a year for the brilliant conception of LSG – Lazy, Stupid, and Godless, a ravelry group that has become so much more for so many people. For the occasion, I want to do something fun, and all you yarncrafters out there are welcome to join me.

I hereby present the first-ever WTF?!-along. I’ve been wanting to do a sort of homage to the late and great You Knit What?? for some time now, and in conjunction with LSG festivities, it seems perfect.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to complete some sort of yarncrafted project over the month of January. This project must be of the kind that makes people go “WTF?!”, and must be fugly as hell. On February first (well, actually the 48 hours it takes that date to sweep the entire planet Earth), we are going to test the human race’s capacity for conceptual art gone muppet-puke, and auction off the fruits of our ridiculous labor on ebay or the like. I’m all for artists actually living off their art, so you can keep some for yourself, but if you make any money on it, at least 50% of the proceeds should be pledged to the charity of your choice. What you actually do will have to rely on the honor system, but I have faith in us crafty folk to do good where we can.

I will be unveiling badges for the participants as the month progresses. If you become so attached to your fruit of fug to let it go, keep it for yourself, but still please do make a humble donation. Let’s try to make our own little scratch in the world, ok?

To join, just comment your pledge here. Progress reports can be emailed to me: yberry AT netvision DOT co DOT il (if you are not a spambot you will know what to do with that address, right?), and will be posted here for the world to see.

I’m going to start by pledging my donation to חיבוק ראשון (“First Hug”) – an Israeli organization whose volunteers spend their time touching, hugging, and caressing abandoned infants in neonatal wards across the country.

* Please note that if you are planning to make something that might have copyright issues, please do obtain permission from copyright holders and make sure that you are completely clear on what can be done with revenues in advance.

And I will raise a glass of nog to life, friendship, and all things fibery, with the hope that ’09 only improves on ’08.

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AMAZING

I’m in Boston. With Tal. Without the kids. So weird. But amazing.

I’m going to Webs tomorrow. Having a romantic dinner alone with my husband tonight, after which we will proceed to sleep the whole night alone. Will the madness ever end?!

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Well, as long as somebody left this soapbox lying around…

I might as well take a turn on it as well.
I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Yes, I bring you another cause. At face level, this might just look like a clever ruse to get you looking at my Etsy shop, or to amuse myself because I’m bored.

I actually already took the pledge a while back, while I was still using my old getcrafty blog. And I’ve actually been trying to live up to it for much longer than that, once I became an independent consumer. Even though I hadn’t been die-hard religious about it in the past, for the past 10 years or so, I’ve been trying to buy as much as I can handmade. Clothes, presents, even foods and housewares.

I think it started with a desire not to be generic. I preferred shelling out more for a handmade designer somewhat elvish raincoat which was made in a small lot rather than wear that same red peacoat that all the other girls on campus were sporting. Then it went on to thinking it was cool to be able to say that I’ve personally shaken the hand of the potter who made my salad bowl, or attended the wedding of the industrial designer who made my handbag.

But really, it addresses all of the above and something far more significant. I have a soft spot for our planet, so to speak. I’ve been troubled with the state of the environment, and generally with the state of the society I live in for as long as I can remember. I recall staying awake late, lying in bed and wondering about big issues such as poverty (and realizing that immense wealth must be at the expense of the poor) and famine as early as six years old (yeah, slightly disturbing, I know).

I’m no billionaire heiress, but my family has always been well-off above average, and just like many other children growing up in the USA in the ’80’s, I’ve been exposed to a good share of corporate branding.

When I first came to Israel, I really missed it all. Toys R Us, McDonalds, Saturday morning cartoons, tv ads. As the years passed, Israel caught up, so to speak, and now we have all that and so much more. Everywhere you look, you see some sort of corporate franchise, be it a local corporation, or more often than not a multinational giant that you can find virtually anywhere in the world. We have truly become a part of the civilized Western world in that sense. And it has its advantages. There’s a certain degree of comfort in knowing that wherever you go, you can always count on being able to find your favorite soft drink/hamburger/candy bar/coffee/shoes/underwear/toothpaste/magazine/television show… um, it goes on and on.

But as opposed to how I felt when I was eight, now it makes me kind of sad. If I take it to a kind of cyberpunk extreme, it just reduces us all to corporate affiliations – I drive a ___ and I drink ___ while wearing ___ and ___. Now, I’m trying very hard not to be extreme in my views anymore, that is a luxury which you can’t really afford if you actually want to be a part of the world you live in, but still. I would like to have a better sense of where the things I use in my life came from, whether it is the food that I eat, the cosmetics I use, or the clothes I wear.

If what I’m writing seems patched and odd, it’s because the above paragraph was written over the course of two and a half week, due to unforseeable circumstances being life. But my opinion hasn’t changed, and with the threat of global economic meltdown looming larger by the day, I think that it’s really time we all acknowledged our responsibility. Responsibility to our planet, responsibility to our fellow humans, responsibility to our futures. Buying handmade, buying local, buying products acquired by fair trade, enable us to take that responsibility into our own hands. When you buy something from a person who has a name and a face rather than a nameless conglomerate, you are choosing to know where it comes from. You are choosing to reward an individual for his or her work and creativity. You are choosing to own something which is truly unique. You are choosing to celebrate indiviuality, personality, rareness, and the fact that we do live in a world whose resources are actually limited and fleeting.Now, personally, I am not really in shopping mode at the moment. We are starting to feel the strain of living on a PhD student’s salary plus occasional random income spurts from me, and the current economic has us in the dark as to when we will be able to upgrade those sources. But I am going to do a little something every so often for those of you who are, and for the benefit of fellow artists and crafters on Etsy. I am going to pick out an Etsy store that has not made any sales yet, whose wares I would probably buy myself, given the right conditions, and show some of their stuff. Blog readers are encouraged to go and shop, and if somebody ends up getting something for me, well, I won’t be too sad about it.

So for my first foray into the land of consumer reviews, I chose PocketfulOfSunshine:

Just in time for holiday season, for those of you who are so inclined, Maria sells lovely paper cards, which are in my opinion truly a pocketful of sunshine. Bright and cheerful cards for a variety of purposes fill her shop.

For her store opening, until the end of November, she is offering a free holiday card with every purchase of $10.

And, like you will find with so many small-scale crafters and artisans, she, too, has a cause which is near and dear to her, the Florida Boxer Rescue. To benefit this cause, she has created a special line of doggy-themed cards, which I find especially adorable, and would probably bring a smile to the dog lover in your life.

*clicky the images to reach the product listing

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