Lucky Lucky Him

Really I am just very happy to be myself.  I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I know how lucky I am.  I’m doing pretty much exactly what I want to be doing.  I’m faced with some challenges, what mother of four teenagers isn’t?  I wouldn’t want to be my husband. I wouldn’t want his responsibilities, his stress or his schedule.

He had to go to a meeting in Brussels this week.  His flight from our city to Toronto was cancelled due to a heavy snow fall and he suddenly had to make a three hour drive so that he wouldn’t miss his flight. His flight was delayed so that he missed his connecting flight. I didn’t even know that it wasn’t a direct flight. His luggage got lost.  He was late for the first day of the meeting. He was also going to miss our daughter’s 13th birthday. I was happy to not be him.

I suppose that it’s also normal to occasionally envy your spouse.  He has great self confidence, he gets satisfaction from his job, he has an even keeled personality, he gets to interact with so many people on a daily basis through work and he’s in Brussels.

The Artiste is meeting his dad in Brussels.  After almost 5 months my husband  gets to see our son in the flesh. To embrace him in a great big bear hug and to plant a good one on his cheek. To just be with him.  To listen to and to laugh at his crazy stories. To hang out and to share a few meals together.

They’ve phoned me and we’ve spoken.  I love talking to my son. Berlin was amazing, exciting and edgey. Men will drink beer at breakfast there. Truly a utopia!  Bruges looks like a fairy tale city. He has a new love of french fries dipped in mayonnaise (so unappealing if you ask me) and they’ve been eating Belgian chocolates to their hearts’ content. It felt so good to hear all of this from my son.

Then I spoke to my husband.

“How does he look?”

“He looks great.”

“Give him a big hug and kiss.”

“Already done.”

“Are you having a good time together?”

“The best.”

Suddenly my throat felt tight and my eyes got watery.

Sometimes, I envy my husband.

My Favourite Picture of Us

My Favourite Picture of Us

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Phylactery Envy?

Phylacteries

Phylacteries

On Friday I learned that it is now permissible for women to pray at the Western Wall wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries. So congratulations ladies. However I have to admit that I have never understood this desire. Even when I was more religious and could envision myself living in a more orthodox lifestyle this was never something that appealed to me. When I would attend my Conservative synagogue (for those of you who aren’t aware Canadian Conservative is quite different than American Conservative) and see the odd woman in a Tallis and a Kipah I just didn’t get it. However, I can still appreciate that there are women to whom this is very important. To those of you who are offended by this I’m sure that in time you will manage to adjust.

The more serious right to me is that women still can’t read from the Torah at the Wall and must go to Robinson’s Arch. I see this as a simple issue of education.

I cannot help but notice in synagogue that when a woman has an aliyah she often is clearer than her male counterparts. Maybe it’s because women don’t take this honour for granted and we feel that we need to prove ourselves or perhaps because women are not even asked to read unless they  can prove themselves to be more than capable before they are given the honour. Whatever the reason I’ve never heard a woman read from the Torah and not be impressed with her proficiency.

I guess it’s one battle at a time.

A Tale of Two Artists

This isn’t the kind of thing that I usually write about but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Now that my son is touring Europe and having the opportunity to see for himself some of the greatest works of art I’ve been thinking about this even more. When you look at a work of art are you able to remove yourself from the artist as a person? Does the person affect the image? I never thought so before. I always looked at art for it’s esthetic value or it’s meaning or for the thoughtfulness it might provoke. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered that the way I felt about an artist as a person could change the way that I felt about his art.

Perhaps I am becoming more judgemental as I become older. Or maybe I’m just firmer in my convictions.

I’d like us to look at two artists; Marc Chagall (1887-1985) and Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920).

Toronto had an exhibit of Modigliani’s work about eight years ago. I was excited to go as I had always enjoyed his work. As I walked around the museum with my sister listening to the recording explaining his life and his work my feeling of pleasure changed to one of disappointment and eventually disgust. What follows is what I learned about this artist as a person.

Modigliani was born in Italy later settling in Paris. He died of tubercular meningitis exacerbated by an addiction to alcohol and to narcotics. He became the epitome of the tragic artist. Although he was known to have frequent affairs he lived with Jeanne Hebuterne. At the age of 20 she gave birth to their daughter, at the time of his death she was pregnant with their second child. Narcissist and egotist that he was he had her make a pact that when he died she would in turn kill herself. The day after his death Jeanne threw herself from the 5th floor window of her parent’s home killing herself and her unborn child. A woman of her word.

On a lower level of egotism Modigliani had an ongoing feud with Picasso. He was jealous of Picasso’s greater success both financially and in reputation. He felt that Picasso was using his ideas although he equally could be accused of using Picasso’s cubist ideas in his own work.
I find it impossible to look at his portraits of Jeanne and see any sort of love or respect. The image on the right is of Jeanne HebuterneJeanne Hebuterne

Now let’s take a look at Chagall. To be honest when I went to see his exhibit I was feeling a little nervous. What would I find out about this artist that would change my opinion about his work?

Wedding of Marc and Bella ChagallChagall was born in Russia later settling in Paris. His worked synthesized Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism.
In 1910 he met Bella Rosenfeld who would later become his wife. He called her “the woman who was my inspiration”. After she died suddenly in 1944 he stopped all work for many months. When he did resume painting he was concerned with preserving Bella’s memory.
The image that I have posted of his work is of his and Bella’s wedding. He placed himself on her shoulders because his joy in marrying her made him feel as though he was light enough to float (I’m paraphrasing from something that I read quite a few years ago so please forgive me if I don’t have it quite right, I’m going for the essence of the feeling here).

As to Chagall and Picasso, Picasso said this of him; “When Matisse dies Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

By attending their exhibits I developed a new found appreciation of Marc Chagall and a disdain for Modigliani.

If art is meant to provoke both of these artists were successful just in different ways. So go visit a gallery, rent the informative recording you may be surprised by what you end up thinking about.

What’s Going On?

You know what they say, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

I’m relating to that a little too well right now. I know that I posted a blog on Tuesday.  It was my first posting in a long time. I called it “Consistently Inconsistent” I wrote it, I published it and then I obsessively followed my stats the rest of the day – yes I do that. Today my son, Destroy, decided that my blog needed a makeover (more on that in a moment). While we were doing that I noticed that my post from yesterday had disappeared. I went into the list of all my posts and saw it listed in a draft. I checked out the draft and found only the beginning of that post. What the heck?! I know that I wrote it, I wrote all of it. I published it. It was read. I can’t for the life of me remember every thing that I said in it even though it was not very lengthy. That seems to be the way of my memory these days. Besides the question of what is happening to my memory, what happened to my post? Has anyone else ever had this happen? I do not like this, not one bit.

On to my makeover. It seems, according to my son, that my blog was in need of a makeover. He was not happy that except for seasonal header changes my blog appearance has remained the same for the past three years. I do not like change. Or perhaps I should say that I initially do not like change. Telling me that you do not like the appearance of my blog is not that different from telling me that one of my kids is ugly. You just don’t do that to a mother unless you want to receive the stink eye followed by a piece of her mind ending in the silent treatment for the rest of your life. Of course I’m not going to do that to my son over my blog. He just got to hear a lot of whining and complaining until he heard “Hey! that’s really nice. I’m good with that. Thanks. Thanks so much. Now you just have to be prepared to help me change the background as the seasons change.”

So kudos to Destroy whose name I may well change to the Computer Kid.

He also added an about me page. He said I should also add a page explainig everyone’s nickname. He’s right but I can only handle so much change in one day.

So hang in there reader(s) there’s more to come.

Everyone But Me and the One Across the Sea

Well it’s been four and a half months since my eldest son left for his travels abroad.

It’s been quite an adjustment.

I really felt the lack of his presence in our house. I like to think of the two of us as the ying to the rest of the family’s yang. He is definitely an artist while I am no artist but am drawn to the arts. I wouldn’t say that the other four people in my house are math geeks but there is certainly a very strong math/science bias amongst them.

Initially dinners were much quieter and much less entertaining without the Artiste to amuse us. We have learned to adjust and over the months everyone else has begun to open up a little more. This is a good thing. The nature of our dinner conversations have changed somewhat and that’s just fine. I might even manage to experience a little growth. Physics has become slightly more interesting to me. I even downloaded the sample of a book on string theory for non-science types. Who knows one day I might just read that sample and then possibly order the actual book. It could happen.

So I’m still missing my son but I’m accustomed to our new normal. It became more difficult when he left Israel and he had to return the phone that we had rented for him to use while he was there. We were counting on the WiFi in the hostels and facetiming with him using his iPad mini. Communication is so much easier now than when I was his age. We didn’t count on him getting mugged on the subway in Barcelona, his first stop after Israel. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt but they did take his passport, Eurail pass, personal journal and iPad. This year is all about growth experiences for him and that was a big one. The Canadian consulate was wonderful and got him a temporary passport within 24 hours. For myself, I feel as though this year is all about learning to let go and watching my grey hair coming in at an alarming rate.

He returns in June and I just pray that he will be tattoo and piercing free. Before I know it he’ll be here causing grey hairs in person. I’m looking forward to it, just please remind me of this in July and August.