It All Rests On The Challah

Another topic I never knew I would be posting about, but here we go! Before we go deep into this whole story, I want to start off by saying I’ve always considered myself more spiritual than religious and I think I have found a bit of a balance between the two at this point in my life. I also want to say, there has always been an aspect of me that has considered Judaism as part of my heritage, my makeup, part of just who I am and not so much has my religion. I think that too also applies to me today. 

I was raised in a reform (VERY reform) Jewish household. My Mother is Jewish, my Father is not religious. We attended services at our synagogue, which I was very active in for quite a lot of my childhood/early adolescence), we did Shabbat prayers at home every Friday night, we celebrated the high holidays, but also ate bacon as well as meat and cheese together. I had a Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 and slowly I started to slip away from the community. 

For quite a while I bounced back and forth between Judaism and Christianity, just wandering a little while. It wasn’t anything special and eventually I just kind of faded away from both, choosing to be spiritual, to pray, but not to follow anything specific religion wise. And that was ok! I was ok, things were great, all was well. 

Then a few things happened in short succession. I’m not a big believer in “signs” or what not, but I do kind of feel like things aligned a little bit to point me in the right direction. 

The first thing was visiting the Synagogue in Rome.

We stopped in the Great Synagogue of Rome and walked through both the museum and the Synagogue and there was something about being presented, front and center, with my heritage that just had me longing for some of it back. So many memories came flooding back, singing in temple, the Friday Night prayers and meal, Challah, the Torah, and the feeling of just having a bit of my “people” back. I don’t know if I realized how much I missed that until that moment. 

Shortly after we got back I started thinking about it a bit more, and then a bit more, and then a bit more. I did a little soul searching to understand what Judaism meant to me and what role I would want it to play in my life. I realized how disconnected I had become to that (even in the reform upbringing that I had). We aren’t a very religious family (in the sense that we don’t go to church, synagogue, follow any of the “rules” of organized religion). My husband is a Catholic and we just kind of blend in the fact of not really practicing anything to much of an extent. I should say- I don’t think that will change, we aren’t going to suddenly become church or synagogue goers, BUT I wanted to know for myself where that longing could fit back in. 

As I was thinking about all of this (I am a notorious over thinker), we experienced one of those things where you can’t help but take it as a “sign” of something. We experienced the most incredible rainbows over the span of a few days, and one night included a double rainbow.

It was one of those moments where the sky is still storming, but the rainbow just breaks through and BAM it just strikes you as an incredible moment. A true feat. I just knew it was a sign. Maybe not necessarily relating to my internal conversations, but a sign of something. 

So, in comes my Challah test. 

One of my favorite things about the Jewish Culture is the food and the meals that are had centering around the food. I LOVED every high holiday as we would gather with friends and family and feast over wonderful hand-crafted meals (until Passover that is). It was just such a warm time and full of fuzzy feelings. Now, I’m a bread lover and one of my favorite additions to the Jewish Meal is Challah. This sweet eggy bread is just…chef’s kiss and when I realized that making this bread was much easier than I originally thought I knew that I had to try and make it. 

My wonderful, irrational, mind turned my making Challah attempt from just a fun thing to try to a high stakes turning point of my internal debate. In my irrational mind, if this worked then that would seal the deal with my faith, heritage, and that part of myself. If it didn’t work, I was lost from that for good. Everything rested on my ability to make this Challah and make it right (aka exactly as I remembered it from my childhood). Really rational, huh?

I gave myself two attempts (because the first attempt was garbage – I had gotten everything but the consistency right – and I didn’t want to “fail myself” based on just that) and it was my second attempt that sealed it. 

*Warning- I’m going to toot my own horn now*

My second attempt at Challah was…incredible. Chef’s Kiss. Beautifully golden, hand crafted with love (and it shows) and tastes exactly like it should. It tasted like something that I had long forgotten, and I felt so…complete in making it. And I knew, that while I wouldn’t be running off to Synagogue tomorrow, that Judaism is still a massive part of who I am. 

Now, I know this all sounds kind of hokey and like I’m walking this fine line of lunacy, BUT I feel like sometimes we fall into that. Sometimes life just brings all of these different, random, moments together to remind us of parts of who we are. And being Jewish is a part of who I am. 

The Great Cell Phone Fiasco

It’s a funny world we live in these days. She had had a cellphone of some sort for about 12 years, but before then she had managed perfectly fine without one. Had she wanted one in Jr. High? Sure, all the “cool kids” had them, but she wasn’t missing out on anything great by not having one. She had survived just fine without one. So, why did not having one now become such a fiasco?

Before they flew over to Germany for their move, they had contacted their phone carrier to determine what their options were for while they were living overseas. They had an idea, but wanted to be sure before they made any decisions. The options were pretty clear, free texting, slow data, and a per minute charge for phone calls that made them not want to make any ever again. She knew that she could call over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and just figured that would be work out for them. A fairly straightforward situation.

But, nothing is ever as it seems.

They lasted a week without “full” phone service. Not being able to use their phones to translate from German to English while they were out and about. The maps function taking a very long time to upload. The only time they were able to connect to anything was in their hotel room on the WiFi connection. This wasn’t a huge deal for her as she was in the hotel most days due to only having one vehicle, but when they were out and about it was difficult. Then it became even more obvious that for his work he would need to have full use of his phone at all times.

The decision was made to go with a German phone plan.

Since they only had one vehicle and were trying to get the phones changed quickly, it was determined that her husband would take both her and his phones to the phone place and get them switched over. Together they had reviewed the phone plan options and decided what would be best for them. She was not worried about being without her phone for the day, knowing that when he came home (which was early afternoon at the time), she would have full use of her phone with no problems. Maybe a total of 8 hours and they would be good to go.

She didn’t know how this would affect her one app that she used to stay in contact with her nearest and dearest, so she quickly messaged her to let her know that the number may change. She told her it may be a day or two before they could reconnect, and it may mean changing contact numbers in phones.

They contacted their Stateside mobile carrier about placing their phones on hold, unlocking them to use them internationally. They were lucky to have this option and were going to take full advantage of it. Everything seemed to going smoothly. During the phone call, the customer service rep told them that by unlocking their phones they would have to do a factory reset on each device. A factory reset would delete everything on the phone and the phone would appear to be brand new again.

Her face fell and her heart dropped. A factory reset. She couldn’t believe it.

It’s a funny world that we end up storing so much on our phones. Contacts, Photo’s, Videos, Apps, Notes, the list is endless. Even people who aren’t big into phones still use them on a day to day basis. For her, her phone held EVERYTHING. Photos and videos of their children, notes upon notes for blog posts, book reviews, links for things she was interested in, not to mention all of the apps. Everything was programmed exactly as she liked.

She couldn’t even remember the last time she had backed up her phone, let alone transferred any of the photos, notes, or anything to her computer. It was going to be a LONG night.

She started by backing up her phone, although this doesn’t really save too much it would help her start the process of getting her phone back the way it was. Since it had been so long since she had done it, it took a little while to do.

Once the backup was complete she had to go through the process of importing EVERYTHING. First photos, then videos, then transferring the notes from phone to computer. She was up into the wee hours of the morning making sure everything was transferred over so that when her husband took the phone she could easily transfer back what she wanted.

The next morning, she passed her phone off to her husband confident that everything would go well and that if nothing else, she would have a working phone by the end of the day. One that would work wherever they went.

Later that day, during naptime, her husband walked into their apartment handed her her phone and said:

“Yours isn’t ready yet”

“What?!” Was her immediate reaction. This was not what was supposed to happen.

He had her restart the phone, put the new pin in (for the unlocked phone) and nothing had changed. The phone looked exactly the same as it had when they left.

“That’s not right” he said, “I had to reenter my [I-Tunes] password and do a couple other things first”.

“So you’re telling me my phone is dead right now. It doesn’t work”. She wasn’t worried, but she was worried. She didn’t NEED  a phone like most people may think. She could live without the Social Media, the internet, the photos (which were all successfully on her computer), but she had herself, two young children in a new country and no way to contact anyone? That worried her.

Her concern starting to wash over her ever so slightly, her husband tried to call her phone from his. He dialed her new number and it wouldn’t connect.

They restarted her phone. Reentered the code. The phone didn’t ask for her I-Tunes password and looked the same as it always had. Her husband dialed her number once again. This time it connected.

Relief washer over her. Her world was right again. She tried messaging her friends over the various apps that she used to contact them. Everything worked perfectly. For whatever reason her phone did not need to factory reset in order to work with the unlocked pin. She didn’t know why or if that was correct and she spent about an hour that evening making sure that everything was correct.

In every location her phone indicated the new carrier, new plan, new data. It seemed to have worked and her late hours the night before were not needed.

All was well.

***Author’s Note: I hope that you enjoyed this next installment in Utterly Ridiculous Stories of My Life. It went on a little bit longer than it should have, but I felt it was necessary to include the ending. This story is a particular gem of First World Problems, but it is funny to me as I used to never be so reliant on a cellphone. I never realize how much it really ate into my day to day from chatting to friends, to Social Media, to Music and while we have other options to get in contact with people (namely a very expensive computer), the ease of a cellphone is hard to replace. Out of all of this though I have definitely made even more of a point to put my phone down more and more and not be so “attached” to it.***

The Boarding Pass Fiasco

***Disclaimer: I have not flown since 2017 and before then had only flown as a young child/adolescent. I don’t typically fly, but rather drive or ride a train when we travel. In this case I don’t know much about the whole electronic boarding pass (or boarding passes in general other than how important they are) or how that goes.***

Whenever she had previously flown she had always been taught: “Don’t get separated from your boarding pass”, “Always have your boarding pass nearby”. It had been so ingrained in her for a few years that when it came to flying, the boarding pass was the only thing she would think about and remember. From the moment it was printed (whether at home or at the ticket desk), she would cling to her boarding pass, never letting it leave her hands, unless she absolutely had to (such as restroom or eating).

They had made it through the first flight, made it through checking in for the second flight, had a little break, and just sat down for dinner in the airport. Everything seemed to be going really easy, much easier than she had anticipated. The kids did really well during their first flight, they had played together nicely in the play area, and (shockingly) they were both eating their dinners with no problem.

“We got this” she thought, “So much easier than I thought”.

This she thought, but even the best travel days come with SOME blip in the road. It can be all sunshine and daisies.

She had managed a couple bites of her food, and a sudden thought hit her. She jumped up from the table and started frantically rooting through her bag.

“What is it”, her husband asked.

She didn’t really hear him, just continued her frantic search. She looked everywhere in her purse that she thought it could be. Opened her book, her wallet, the random papers in her handbag. Nowhere.

She could feel the panic start to rise. Her breathe started becoming shallow.

Nowhere. How could it be nowhere?! Sudden realization had dawned on her. Did she collect the boarding pass from the container that held her laptop and kindle? Was is still in the TSA bin somewhere?

“What is wrong?”, her husband asked again.

“My boarding pass is gone.”

He told her to check his bag where his and the kids boarding passes were. Not there. He suggested completely emptying her bag out just to make sure. Not there.

He told her to stay calm, this wasn’t an issue. That only increased her panicking.

This was a military organized flight- they had chartered the plane (is that the term?) to fly a whole bunch of people over to Germany. It wasn’t just a commercial flight. Would they be able to just re print a boarding pass? Did she need to go all the way back out to the ticket office? If she had to go all the way back out to the ticket counter, did her husband have to come with her (as he had to provide documentation for the original check in that she couldn’t provide).

Her husband continued to look at her and tell her that it was no big deal. This could be fixed.

She couldn’t hear that. She couldn’t sit still. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t be calm. She needed to get this fixed and get it fixed now. She didn’t know what had to be done or how long they had to do it and with only an hour and a half before take-off she felt an even greater sense of urgency.

She took off with her bag and headed down to TSA. It had to be there, someone had to see it enfolded in the stacks of bins and turn it in. This could be a simple fix.

No such luck. The officer at the information desk for TSA told her that the gate could reprint the ticket though. She messaged down to her husband and said she was going to go to the gate and see if she could get them to re print it.

The panic was still present, but now she was doing something about. She had a first step to take.

Where they were eating dinner and where the gate was, were on opposite ends of the terminal (just about). As she walked over to the gate, she tried to calm down. She didn’t want to show up in full blown panic, but it was hard. She worried that they would have to go all the back out to the ticketing office. That no one would be at the ticketing office. That it would get closer and closer to boarding time and they would still be searching for the boarding pass. The thought of not being able to board the plane with her family had crossed her mind too many times.

She turned up at the gate they were originally given and there was no one there. She looked at the screen above the desk and there wasn’t even any information included. The panic started to rise again. All the calm that she had worked to achieve on the walk over was gone.

She started to walk back, she noticed another gate that had their flight information listed on it. Gate change, but still no attendants to talk to. She turned around and look around her. It seemed the only people that were around were passengers for various flights.

While she was looking around she happened to catch the attention of another gentleman. He passed her and something in her gut said to ask him for help.

***Ok, I don’t mean for this to get weird right then, but honestly I don’t remember what caused me to ask this guy for help. I don’t remember if he said something, I don’t remember if he was talking to someone else, I don’t know. In the midst of all the panic I forgot***

She somehow got the words out that she had lost her boarding pass. He was a little confused at first, as she had made it through security and was near the gate, but somehow they understood each other. At first he didn’t really know what they could do about it, whether she would have to go all the way back out to the ticket counter or if they could do it at the gate, but he was able to flag someone else down.

Together they were able to make a phone call to the ticketing office, put an order in for new boarding passes, and later on (about 15 minutes before boarding time) she was able to get a new boarding pass. Once she had the new boarding pass in hand, she was able to calm herself and start to enjoy her travel again.

**Authors Note: Alright, another installment in my utterly ridiculous short stories of my life. This one may not have been so fun and comical as my others, as this was a serious problem, but looking back on it- it was memorable. Deep down, realistically I knew that I would still be able to board. That they had me marked down on the passenger list and that all would work out, but in that very moment, in the midst of panicking you are not thinking entirely rationally. I don’t know that I really care to admit the amount of times I thought I would be left behind. Ironically enough, when I think about it I have a chuckle. Obviously it wasn’t a total catastrophe and it was fairly straightforward to get it fixed correctly.

 

The Day The Books Got Packed

The morning had dawned gray and dreary…quite appropriate weather for what was about to happen on this day. In their home. Today was the day the books would get packed. It was almost as if the sky and Mother Nature were telling her it would be OK (as she loved the rain, it was her comfort weather).

A house is not a home without books, or so she thought. She had been raised surrounded by books. Piled high on the book cases, rows three books deep in some places. Books shoved in nooks and crannies in her room, piled high on her desk, her bedside table. Reading had always been her escape, when life just became too much.

Reading was her life, beyond just a hobby, she desired nothing more than to live her life with a cup of tea in one hand and a book at her side (of course her husband and children fit into that picture as well). She wanted to make a life/career centered around books and she was working towards that.

She formed quite her own collection of books, although smaller than she had wanted at this stage of her life, it was still a very nice start to a home library. Three bookcases piled high, packed to the brim held her treasures. And then, in random corners of the rest of their home there would be books piled here and there, always in a neat and orderly fashion, but piled none the less.

Often times her husband would comment on the sheer amount of books that were coming into the little library of theirs, or when the piles in other places would grow to large ( though by and large he let her be as he saw how happy she was reading her books). Their kids would often thumb through her books, not really ready to truly read yet, but loving the act of thumbing the pages just the same. The kids library was quite substantial as well and they loved being able to pick up a book on a rainy afternoon as well (which is a story for another day).

She may not have read every book in her collection, but the ones she had read had left marks on her soul. Some left deeper marks than others, but each book had a memory of some sort. Her collection was her joy and bringing the collection into each home that they lived in was something special for her.

In fact, the first thing she would do whenever they moved and found a new house (they moved relatively frequently due to job) would be to bring in whatever books that she had squirreled away in their take with them luggage and set them up somewhere in the house. Usually this would lead to enough books for anyone to read in a month.

Their last move had been state to state, and only consist of a month of travel (vacation for her and her husband), but just a straight forward move. This move was different. An overseas move meant that her collection would be packed up and shipped on a boat, they wouldn’t be in a house for at least a couple months, which meant about 4 months without her library.

She didn’t panic (well maybe she did a little), but rather tried to take a practical approach. Pictures of every shelf, then a meticulous sort through to get through of whatever didn’t need to be kept, and then it was time for the hardest step before the movers came…picking the physical books that she would take with her.

This was probably the hardest packing decision there is. As a reader you never truly know what you will be in the mood to read next, where a certain book will leave you when you finish, and ultimately what you want to read will change with each book you read. It’s a tough call to make when you are going to be “in transition” for 4+ months. She wanted to have a bit of variety, but also some chunkier, longer books to keep her going.

**I want to clarify something- I have a kindle. I fully plan on taking advantage of that. BUT there is a difference between reading on a kindle and reading a physical book. I highly prefer physical books and so I definitely wanted to have some physical books on me, not just for reading purposes, but for comfort and home purposes.**

And so, all of her plans and preparations being done, the dreaded day had come. As the movers placed each book into the boxes she found herself feeling a mournful silence. It seemed quite silly in the moment. After all, they were just books, but then again they weren’t just books. They were stories that had touched her soul, some in incredible life changing ways.

And honestly, each book going into the box was a signal to her. This was happening. They were moving. Soon they would be in a new country. In a new environment. Navigating new adventures, new challenges. Learning a new language, a new culture. It was as if everything she had been feeling for the past few months had hit her in this moment of watching her collection get packed and loaded away.

Watching the moving truck pull away from the house (clutching one of her treasured books that would be traveling with her), she felt a sense of calm come over her. All the stress, the nerves, the planning had come to fruition and now they could just enjoy the vacation and travel to their new home. And of course, she had a small collection of books to accompany her and her family along the way.

 

*** Authors Note- I hoped you enjoyed this latest installment in my utterly ridiculous short stories of my life! I’ve been kind of enjoying poking fun at my seemingly innocent, but none the less stressful moments. I do want to say- I wasn’t going to start with “the morning dawned”, but it only felt right considering the last two started that way. Of course, as with the other two, this is meant to be a lighthearted look into an experience that I had and even though we got a little deep at the end, please know the humorous side of it.

The Spider-Pocalypse : A Light Hearted Story about a Facing an Invasion of Our Worst Nightmares…

***Disclaimer: this is completely true story. This fear is very real. I know that there could be a lot worse and is a lot worse going on in the world. This is intended to be a light hearted attempt poking fun at my own fear.***

She woke early one morning, full of excitement for the upcoming day ahead. Quickly changing from her pajamas to her yoga clothes, she was looking forward to taking her morning flow/practice outside. It was finally starting to get cool enough (and not crazy muggy) to do her Yoga on the back deck and she had been eagerly waiting for this moment.

There is just something special about taking your practice outside, surrounded by all the wonderful morning sounds: birds chirping, breeze flowing through the trees, and of course a sunrise that only dreams contain. Perfection.

After changing, throwing her hair up into a loose pony, and brushing her teeth, she grabbed her mat and headed to the back door. She was about to crack it open when she saw it…

A spider. Suspended in mid air (in its web of course). Just hanging out. Blocking her way of getting to the back deck.

“No” she thought to herself. “No, no, no. This is NOT happening”.

In her mind, it was the beginning of the end.

***Now, I suppose I should clear something up. She was TERRIFIED of spiders. Borderline Arachnophobic and while bits of her fear were rational, for the most part it was a completely irrational fear. ***

Determined to still feel calm, she did her morning practice in her living room, curtains open, and tried to go about the rest of her day as if there was not a killing machine in the form of an innocent bug right outside her back door.

The next morning dawned, the spider was still there, this time joined by two more outside of other windows. This WAS not ok for her. She was FINALLY getting the cooler weather, where it wasn’t so oppressive to be outside and she couldn’t even enjoy it?!

***I suppose I should also mention that she did not kill spiders. Every time she had tried to, she didn’t actually succeed in killing the spider in the first attempt. I could go into a whole separate story about this, but we’ll just leave it at she was almost as scared to kill a spider as she was of the spider itself. As I stated earlier, irrational.***

Over the next few mornings the number slowly grew. When it reached 5, she told her husband that something needed to happen. They had to go. They couldn’t enjoy the weather they were waiting all summer to get. So, that weekend he went out to handle the situation.

10 spiders gone. 10 spiders. Spiders she hadn’t even known were there because she couldn’t get onto the back deck to see where they were. Spiders under the deck. Spiders in the back yard, the side yard. 2 had even caused her husband to remark on the size! She followed and counted as he kept spraying and spraying. Once it was done, she thought they were good to go on the spider front.

And they were. For a week or so.

Morning dawned clear. There was a brightness to the morning and as she opened up the blinds in preparation of her day she had a smile on her face. That is, until she saw it…

A spider. In the outside corner of her bedroom window. Hanging out in its masterpiece of a web (pun completely intended).

***If this sounds like dejavu, it completely is.***

“Is this ever going to end?” She thought to herself. They had just handled this and she thought they would now be good for the year.

Not a day later, she found three more spiders, one hanging out in their carport, another the other right next to their front door, one just off the front porch. Front door spider made getting the mail a lot of fun. Her older son loved the spiders. Every morning for the week the one was outside their bedroom, he would come in in the morning and watch it. His favorite? The morning the spider was eating it’s meal of an unsuspecting bee. He thought it was really cool, she did not really think so.

Her husband found the fact that the spiders had returned comical. She knew that he would eventually either handle the spiders again, or maybe they would move on their own, but until then he would get a good chuckle out of the whole situation.

The weekend came and her husband decided to power wash bits of the front of the house. This took care of two out of the four spiders. The spider right outside their window was a speedy one and moved just fast enough to avoid being sprayed by the water. It clung to its web in an upper corner and there it stayed for a little while longer.

Eventually that spider moved its web to another part of the house and all was well…for now…

***Authors Note: I know that once again, this is a ridiculous thing to get out of sorts with, but I’m trying to poke a little fun at my own fears and silliness from my day to day. Please treat it as just the lighthearted giggle that it has become. Also, in case you’ve seen on my SM, I wrote this at the end of September/Beginning of October. Since that time we have had a resurgence of Spiders. Rather than me continue to add on to the ridiculous length of this story, just repeat the couple last paragraphs over again in your head. I guarantee it was about the same reaction on all fronts. I hope you enjoyed!!