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Sunday, October 14, 2012

What the hell is the 'spiritual but not religious' anyway?

You would think that growing up with a Jewish education and then continuing on to earn a degree in religious studies would make me pretty certain about my religious beliefs. OR, that my adherence to certain Jewish traditions and my potential to turn into Grace Adler was my public affirmation of my sheer Jewishness- hey, I'm not a Dr. or a lawyer, but I am in jewelry sales. The thing is, I don't even have much of an idea what I believe or which corner of this very religiously divided world I fit into.

Growing up, it was an expectation that we all (my three siblings and I) attend religious school which concluded with a party of epic proportions. That's how we rolled, right? Bars supported on ice sculptures, filet mignon, wildly trashy dancers, and an event that I hardly remember ten years later at the ripe old age of twenty-three. In my desperate attempts at calling off the whole bat mitzvah, I'm pretty certain I declared myself an atheist as soon as I knew what the word meant. It's not that I was using the word to get myself out of a situation which I deemed mortifying, but because I truly couldn't understand why I had to go through with something that I dreaded for reasons that meant nothing to me. Alas, I had the bat mitzvah and vowed to never see the inside of a synagogue again with the exception of future family bar/bat mitzvahs. 

It's amazing to me that we are all way past the Jewish rite of passage, but we have never once discussed God. Aside from my 'atheist' outburst at eleven, I'm not sure we have ever sat down as a family, or even mentioned in passing, what we believe in. I suspect my parents believe in a God of some sort, although they don't even visit shul on the two holiest days of the year. My siblings? I'd bet that my sister believes strongly in the power of vodka, my one brother in a future where the Messiah is a robot, and the other brother is too busy with girls and sports to even consider much else. Then, there's me- I'm still an atheist but no longer asking the obnoxious question of how the dinosaurs fit into God's seven day creation.

The goal going forward is to take my own past of a basic childhood religious education, my secular college-level degree, and the resources around me to try and make some sense of this craziness. Is it necessary to believe in God to be religious? What the hell is this uproar about the 'spiritual but not religious' and what does that popular phrase even mean? Most of all, if I don't believe in an omniscient God, then what exactly do I believe in? 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Year Of Mourning

I woke up last year, much like I woke up today; reaching for my alarm at 7a.m., remembering that it was my fiance's birthday. I was a bit frazzled as I rushed to shower, get ready, and prep what little I could for dinner that night. Luis is one of two people whose birthdays I always work to make extra special and memorable. In my haste, I never had even the slightest notion that I would spend the next year caught off guard each time I was faced with the sickening feeling of my stomach that often comes with a huge drop on a roller coaster. Later that night, gifts were handed out, dinner was served and now it was time to blow out the candles signifying each of the twenty-four years since he had been born. But, there is always that sick, dark, ironic twist- isn't there? Only twenty minutes away, the young woman whom I had asked to stand up at my upcoming wedding as my maid-of-honour was counting down her last minutes. I will never know what she was thinking as she prepared to take her own life, in a way that I can only imagine must have been absolutely terrifying.

To this day, I still listen to the voicemail from another person who is also long gone, calling to tell me that I had better rush to the hospital because the odds were not good. I'll tell you, those crushing moments you see on TV where the person falls to the floor in a moment of shock after losing a loved one are absolutely real. The emergency room floor, right in front of the security desk, with a dozen ailing patients is never ideal. With some assistance, I did eventually find myself somewhat upright, walking ahead of my fiance who was parking the car, unaware of the tragic blow we had all been dealt.

I have spent 366 days replaying in my head every moment of those two hours at the hospital. It's a lie when they tell you that death looks like sleep, because it doesn't. It looks like absolute torture, if you ask me. This was not the girl I had considered more than a best friend and more like a sister. Her hair was too thin, her polish too chipped, and the bruises were never there before. It's strange how it was so painfully obvious it was her, but at the same time it didn't look like her at all.

Lauren was the stronger of the two in our relationship. Stronger in that she was the one who ran for me in the second grade when a mean girl challenged me to a race. Stronger in the way she didn't cry when we tripped over a skateboard and she broke her leg in several places (which required surgery and a cast up to her hip!). Stronger because she was the one to comfort me through all my fits and tantrums growing up over fights with my parents and trouble in school. She was a stronger writer and reader as well. At first I was jealous of how incredibly bright she was, but then that jealousy became inspiration as it challenged me work harder. I spent my life looking at this girl through rose colored glasses that it was a shock to me a few years ago when she called me up, completely distraught.

As an adult she could no longer solve problems with a race on the playground or a well written essay. These were problems and dilemmas that she intended to keep secret for better or for worse. I would love to think that if she could have been picked up and dropped down in an entirely new life that she would have been okay, but the damage was done and it ran deep. She did still have goals and dreams, but they were for a future far off that she did not know how to create. She was caught up in the madness that eventually took over her, as well.

In the past year I have broken down in bridal dressing rooms, in the car, at home, in front of people, and in private. I have yet to learn how to manage the hurt I feel when I think of her and how empty life is in her absence. I have come to one solid conclusion, though. We should not start by working to prevent others from taking their own lives; instead, we should work to make life worth living. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wedding: Gentle Men

Love the huge contrast between the bachelor and the bachelorette prep...

Meanwhile, the girls were just finishing up and I was rushing to the Park Avenue Club across the street to get zipped up...

Lemme tell you, I'm Jewish, it's in my nature to be a *bit* panicky. So, it was no surprise that I was all crazed about missing my shuttle from the hotel to the venue and ran outside in my robe (sans underwear, oy vey!). But let's be honest, it's not the first time I've ended up embarrassing myself in my bathrobe and at least this one was pretty. Without too many stares I made it to my other bridal suite and got in to my dress with the assistance of my mother-in-law, my grandmother, and my good friend, Fashion Tape. Thankfully I was oblivious to the guys back at the hotel who never could get those bowties tied. Oh, and the grooms tuxedo was also a fail so he made one last surprise appearance as Military Man. Shit happens.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wedding: All Dolled Up

As Miley sings, It's a party in the USA...

Crazy fun amidst the chaos? That was pretty much our morning. We rushed out of the house with plates full of bagels and glasses of orange juice (I think I still have the dirty plates under the seat in my car?!) to get to the hotel on time, check-in, and let the hair stylist and make-up artist have their fun. In our craziness we even packed up the entire steam iron. I ran around making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, Rosalyn (my closest girlfriend and bridesmaid) managed the checklist, and Casey (my sister and bridesmaid) made sure that we all had a glass of the hotel's finest champagne. The florist showed up with the bouquets, the photographer and his assistant were snapping away and then eventually my mom showed up to make the mandatory, 'you look amazing!' type comments.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wedding: Love At First Sight

The highlights (details to follow):

We didn't separate the evening before the wedding for a ton of reasons, but mostly because we were already married and had a house full of guests. Even though I had only parted with him a few hours before at home, he was no less surprised to see me in my dress with my big hair and perfected make-up.  So wonderful to have these pictures of such a private and sweet moment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wedding: You Are Invited...

Our wedding invitations:

These were printed on heavyweight, ecru board with gilded edged, with navy letterpress. The flourished names (and 'formal attire') was originally done by a hand calligrapher and then used as an image to be pressed on each invite.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Busy week, busy day- the Etsy Roundup will be posted tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life: Wedded Bliss

I'm terrible! I started up this blog with good intentions to post regularly and share exciting internet finds and then I dropped off the radar. BUT, I have a good reason...

The Mister and I finally had our big wedding ceremony and reception (as opposed to the small wedding ceremony and reception we had in November). This is just a sneak peak of our wedding photos shot by our amazing photographer, Chris Jorda. He's located on Main Street in Millburn, NJ and was recommended to me by a friend. I couldn't have been happier with his work, his personality and his overall demeanor. 

...now back to our regularly scheduled programing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life: Puppy Love

 Cali, my family's overly sweet and lovable King Charles Cavalier puppy.

The Mister and I on our wedding weekend back in November. Other than our actual wedding ceremony photos, we really forgot to take out the camera for much of the weekend, and this is about the only non-kissing photo I have.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Paper Review: The Expats, Chris Pavone

Title: Expats
Author: Chris Pavone
Publisher: Crown (March 6, 2012)
Pages: 336 

The bestselling, first novel by Chris Pavone wove past, present and future together in a way that unraveled a complex tale of deceit and personal histories. When Katherine Moore and her tech-savvy husband, Dexter, moved unexpectedly to Luxembourg for his job, Katherine assumed she was leaving her old life behind. Now going by Kate, this stay at home mom and expat was eager to make friends in the foreign country that she was living in. Little suspicion was aroused at first by another couple's (Julia and Bill) urgent attempt at friendship, they too were expats. Quickly, keeping the readers attention, Julia acted in an overly suspicious manner around Kate; enough to make anyone who had read the summary of this book think twice. As Dexter worked longer and longer hours and Kate grew tired of her repetitive days minding the children, she began to let her mind wander, and her former training as a CIA field agent took over. Once an agent, always an agent. In a game of deception and lies, Kate found ways to investigate the perfect couple that she knew was in turn, investigating her. It became clear that Julia and Bill were not quite the couple they claimed to be, but rather they were American FBI agents sent to tail her husband. In an anxiety inducing end to this thriller of marriage, loyalty and trust, we find out how far one woman would go to reveal the absolute truth and to protect her family.

With a clear four stars, this book was worthy of its title as a bestseller. It was predictable in all the right places, giving the reader a sense of accomplishment at catching on before the quick and capable Kate. The multi-dimensional take on time and place only helped to enhance the need-to-know factor, keeping the reader with their hand on the next page late into the night. The characters themselves could have had more depth and personality, but with so many well thought out twists and turns it can be forgiven. I look forward to reading about future novels by Chris Pavone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Paper: The Expats, Chris Pavone

I'm the kind of girl that repeats over and over that she wants to start a book club, even mentions it to a few friends, and then for some reason or other never follows through. It could be that I'm completely insane and these people have zero intention of ever speaking to me again, or that we are all too caught up in typical suburban things like wedding planning, nannying or grocery shopping five times a week. It happens. 

With that said, maybe you're completely insane as well, or you just can't commit to a regular meeting time. In my process of motivating myself, I hope to motivate you to choose a great book and stick with it until the end. For this first week of my online book review and commentary, I've chosen a book that has popped up on a ton of reading lists:

Title: Expats
Author: Chris Pavone
Publisher: Crown (March 6, 2012)
Pages: 336 

Now, you don't know me yet, but my to-do list is starting to take over my life and 'reading' is somewhere towards the very bottom, lingering dangerously close to 'shaving' and 'car wash'. BUT, I do promise to have this read in the next two weeks to review and discuss. In the interim, please feel free to share your comments and discussion questions and I will try and address them once this book is read and in it's proper place on the shelf.