Monday, August 15, 2005

Temporary Leave of Absence

I'm outta here. Been trying to come up with something witty to leave you with in my absence, but doing laundry, packing for every possible need out in the wilds and organizing (not my forte) are not exactly fodder for witty blogposts.

So I will just say, please miss me. I'll tell you all about it when I get back, maybe post a picture, and maybe (just maybe) I'll get a chance to post something while I'm away.

And if you think of me tomorrow, in the car for 12-15 hours with two kids, send patience vibes.

Friday, August 12, 2005


I had dinner last night with a good friend I don’t see nearly enough, considering that she’s a 45-minute or less drive from me. We had a great time, reconnected, and promised to try harder to get together more often.

At one point she told me she was talking to a friend and mentioned that we were getting together last night. She had said to her friend “The great thing about Ruth is what you see is what you get. There’s no ulterior motive, no games, no weirdness. I really appreciate that.”

I didn’t get a chance to tell her why I appreciate her. She’s smart, funny, witty, reliable (this is a big one with me), beautiful and direct. No games there either. She’s a great mom, her head is screwed on straight and she gives awesome advice. Plus, she likes shoes and perfume. :D

I don’t have time in my life for flaky people who play games and can’t be counted on. This might be why I don’t have a large group of friends, but the ones I do have, I try to keep.

Anyway, not to get all sappy here, I have been stricken with the sentimentality that comes from reconnecting with somebody I care about. Beth, I wanted to let you know that I appreciate you, and why. Also, please start a blog; I’d love to read your stuff.

And to anybody else reading this, I say: At some point today or in the next few days, tell somebody you appreciate WHY you appreciate them. It’s a good feeling to hear nice things about yourself from somebody whose opinion you value. And I don’t think any of us do it enough.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Mad Cat

I entered first grade at the age of five. I was ready for school and my parents kind of fudged a few records to get me started. I always said they just wanted me out of the house. I mean, they had triplets at home, two and a half years old. But that’s a different story entirely. The fact is, I was five, ready for school, ready myself to be out of the house, and, if I do say so myself, a rather bright child.

I entered first grade reading fluently. These days that’s not such a big deal, with kids entering enrichment classes and having reading tutors sandwiched between baby gymnastics classes and baby orchestras and all kinds of other programs designed to make your child a genius, prepared to enter Harvard on full scholarship at the age of 12. Plus, teachers now are specifically trained to handle kids who are learning at different levels and have different learning styles. Not so in 1975.

The school flatly (publicly) refused to believe I could read. Even when my parents called me into the Principal’s office, had him pull down a book – ANY book – from his shelf and I read it, with no problem. He claimed I had memorized it. (Later on, when it became illegal for schools to withhold test information from parents, they discovered I had been tested and it was clear to all that I could read.)

Anyway, all this is background. I entered first grade and sat in class day after day, bored out of my mind. They had us coloring big letters, one on a page. “This is ‘A’ week!” Yippee.

One day I came home from school with a picture I had colored. It was a large egg-shaped oval on a piece of paper. Half of it was beautifully colored, in a rainbow of colors, all 3-dimensional and neatly in the lines. The second half was black. Blackest black, scribbled outside the lines with an obviously angry fist. My parents asked me what happened. I said I was coloring the picture, happily being creative, when the teacher had interrupted me and said it was supposed to be all one color. You want one color? You got it.

My parents, hippies, musicians, University educators with all the self-help books educated 1970’s parents should have, were a little concerned.

The next day I came home with a picture of a cat. Not a fuzzy sleeping cat, mind you. A standing upright cat, wearing clothes, with a grimace on its whiskered face, large claws and huge fangs. Underneath, in my first grade handwriting, was the caption “MAD CAT.”

Needless to say, my parents made another appointment to meet with the school administrators later in the week.

The next day, on return from school, I presented my parents with another picture. Looking remarkably like the Mad Cat, here was a picture of a little girl. Standing upright, with a grimace, claws and huge fangs. And just in case they missed the point, I had put a caption underneath: Mad Ruth.

The following Monday I entered the Hartridge School for Girls, and that was the end of our Public School education, with the exception of one year of high school. But I’ll write about that another time.

And when my parents come back from summer vacation, I’m going to make them find the Mad pictures and scan them. You have got to see these. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye on my own daughters’ artwork but so far the only thing remotely troubling is that in the family portrait my 7yo daughter drew…she’s taller than me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
~ Jim Rohn

None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

He is a self-made man and worships his creator.
~ Attributed to John Bright, on Benjamin Disraeli

How haughtily he cocks his nose, to tell what every schoolboy knows.
~ Johnathan Swift

If I cannot brag of knowing something, then I brag of not knowing it; at any rate, brag.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.
~ David Hume

To start blindly with a statement is a sign of arrogance and narrow-mindedness, and will lead to conflict. To start blindly with a question is a sign of uncertainty and honesty, and will lead to wisdom.
~ Scott Watson

There it is: it doesn't make any difference who we are or what we are, there's always somebody to look down on, somebody to hold in light esteem, somebody to be indifferent about.
~ Mark Twain

Monday, August 01, 2005

A rather disorganized train of thought

My dear friend K, who posted on her blog last week that she was expecting a baby in February, has me thinking about friends, community, conception and a whole bunch of other stuff thrown in for good measure. (Wow, I wish I knew how to cook like that! I’m a really boring, follow-the-recipe kind of cook.)

About 7 years ago I had a friend who got married right around age 40 and started immediately, desperately trying to concieve. She'd fill me in on her ovulations and all that other fun stuff and she joined message boards. She would talk about her "online friends" and how this one said that about the miscarriage and the whole group responded with her to another something or other. I remember thinking "What a loser, can't she get any friends in real life?"

And now here I am, finally understanding online friends and just how real life they can be. I wonder sometimes, when I talk about my “perfume friends” to my mom, if she thinks I’m a loser.

Which gets me thinking about community. I discovered an amazing online community of wise, witty, wonderful (mostly) women (more w’s please?) on a certain message board. This is a group of people who share not only their formidable knowledge of perfume but many many other topics and it’s a community I’m proud to be a part of. I have met many of my “perfume friends” in real life, at get-togethers for shopping and sniffing. I plan to meet more in the future. Real relationships we’re creating here. And so I feel that this community, which I feel so much a part of, gives me a sense of belonging that I have been looking for.

When I married my husband and moved back to NJ, where my family is, I had no remaining friends around here. I made some new ones, and I have my family, but I was looking for that sense of community. I joined a synagogue, jumped in with both feet. Inside of a year, I found myself chairing committees and sitting on the Board of Directors. Shortly thereafter I became a Vice President! But after a couple of years of banging my head against the wall, I became disillusioned with the idea of effecting positive change and my relationship with that community has been in steady decline.

I have tried to stick with it, but I feel that part of the reason for belonging to a religious community is spiritual fulfillment, and I’m just not getting that here. So the search begins anew, for another synagogue that won’t bankrupt me (yes, they’re frightfully expensive), will accept my non-Jewish husband without prejudice, and will help to provide a sense of spiritual fulfillment and education for my daughters.

I'd love to hear where others find their fulfillment and community.