Counting My Blessings

I lived in Israel for about 8 months in 1998. It was an experience that I have actually never tried to communicate via the written word, although millions describing and remembering it swirl in my head all the time. My year in the Middle East was my coming-of-age year, most definitely. As such, it helped mold my personality and my views, and guided me from a carefree youth to a tiny-bit-more-responsible adult. I think the fact that I am a bit of a weirdo can be directly traced back to the incredibly influential time I spent with people whose first language and culture was not my own. (Trust me on this – being a Jew in North America is nothing like being a Jew in Israel. And not in the ways you would think. In fact, probably the opposite.)

Mostly, I carry with me the things that I learned, about life and people and the way the world works. I think these things have made me a better person, and I try to apply them to my life here.

Like, never sweep around boxer puppies, as they will wrestle the broom out of your hands, but not so that they can finish the sweeping.

And, if you want cute boys to talk about you in their native language, you can’t disclose the fact that you actually understand that language.

And, only black scorpions can kill you.

And, don’t trust a 5-sheckle haircut.

And, staying up all night to watch really bad Israeli rock bands and drink Maccabee beer when you are expected to be cleaning floors in the dining room by 6 am is not a good idea. The only upside to this is that no one else will know that you barfed all over the dining room floors since you are the one cleaning them.

But most importantly, I learned that people who live in a war zone do not live like they are in a war zone.

I’m afraid that lately it has seemed like my life is a depressing tapestry of darkness and woe. (Of course it does, k – you’re posting about miscarriages and bad news and more bad news)

Here’s the thing: I really don’t spend my entire day dwelling on the bad circumstances that have crept into my life as of late. I go to work, I play with my baby, I make dinner and I watch Survivor. Usually I’m not thinking about sad things as I do.

I laugh. Quite a bit. I kiss and hug my daughter and my husband and my friends and I talk about serious stuff, but I also talk about incredibly frivolous, unimportant things, like how my friend is getting crazy hair extensions and how proud I am that I watched all of Casino Royale in one sitting and how we want to start a bowling league, and I want my shirt to say Gladys.

It’s funny, I never ever thought of myself as unlucky. I know people that are unlucky. They are people who lost both of their parents before they were 16, or people who lost their job and then found out they were sick, or people who have struggled with infertility for years or have suffered the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy over and over and over again.

But that’s not me. Yes, I have had some bad news piled on top of bad news lately, and a couple of years ago things were pretty low as well, but holy crow, there is so so much good stuff in my life too.

So I feel a bit disingenuous posting the bad stuff and extracting your sympathy. It feels good to post, it helps to post, but I feel weird about it. As I have said before, I really tend to gloss over ‘tragedy’ in my life. I shake things off. I dismiss them, and don’t readily or easily talk about them. It’s not even a matter of being stoic. I’ve always hated drama, never wanted it, and this all feels too dramatic for me.

Life goes on, is what I mean. And that I don’t want to miss the really good stuff, just because there’s some bad stuff going on too.

Why don’t you guys just shoot me a ‘screw you, crybaby’ every once in a while to strike a balance?

Or hey, even better, I’ll just write about happy stuff every now and then. Because I think I can keep my war zone at bay.

This is how I know the sun still shines


  1. Karen, you're so right. Everything here is so right, and reflects the rules that I live by. But I'm glad that you have an outlet for the bad so that you can reflect on the good, too. Otherwise I think (for me) I get swallowed by it. And even though your bad may not appear to be as bad as someone else's, that doesn't change that it's bad.

    I figured that Chris was being a jerk for fun...I've got one of those, too. I guess that didn't come across in my comment. It's that oh-so-serious profile pic...everyone takes me seriously now! ;)

  2. Well, I was going to correct you on beaurocratic, but I was afraid it was inappropriate. I should have known better. It doesn't matter what's going on, it's no excuse for bad spelling.

  3. You know, we all have periods of time that are worse than others, and it's OK to dwell on the bad things for a little bit. But it's good that you're also remembering the good in your life, too.

    Things have been looking kinda down for me lately, but there is good going on, too, and I'm trying hard to keep it in perspective. The good news is that it can't all be bad forever, right?

  4. christina - you got it.

    mm - i'm gonna kick your ampersand.

  5. she is a little ray of sunshine..with that cute little red nose.

  6. Hi!
    It might make you feel a little better to know that I'm a cry baby too! "better out than in" is Nicholas' motto for my emotional outbursts, venting, pms, bitching...and farts:)

  7. sister, perfectly said. and understood.

    for what it's worth, sympathy never crossed my mind. commiseration, care, perhaps. not in the way i think you mean.

    life does go on, but it's what we do along the way that makes it breathe. you are just breathing.

    and isreal. i so want to hear more about that.

  8. so that didn't entirely make sense, and all i could think was, great, now Met will correct my grammar too. damn english majors.

    what i was trying to say, dude...is that feeling sorry for you was not something i had felt. in case that mattered. it's a different thing.

  9. My name is Madge (on my bowling shirt that is....) and I want to join the team not that I can play or anything but because I like the irony.

    Oh. and little miss sunshines fuschia pink kitty devil hat? Awesome.

  10. I find it hard to represent the variety of my moods on my blog, too. I think bloggers in general post about the harder stuff. Hey, if all is going great, most of us are out enjoying ourselves and not on our computers.

  11. Sorry chicky, but you never had my sympathies. Takes alot to dole them out. Probably because I have received so many sympathy offerings that my skin crawls at that word...

    You do however, have my shoulder, my best wishes, and the occasional prayer.

    And what is not to smile about with an elfin grin like that staring back at you every day.

    Damn is she cute!

    Hang tough. Great post!

  12. For what it's worth, I never considered you a crybaby. I would read your blog whether happy or sad.

    And the picture? Stop with the cute already!

  13. I love this post, Kgirl. Yes, the sun still shines, and sometimes it's easy to forget that. Thanks for sharing us why your sun still shines, and for inspiring me to think about why mine does, too.

  14. We have even more in common - I really related to this one (like 99.9% of your posts). I blog about the negative too often for my liking but at the same time I say it and it helps make it "pass". I get hit, fall down, roll with it and get back on up again. It's the only way I can live. I must stop typing in cliches now and pray this made sense. Sometimes I think I'm your Irish cousin.

    Anyhow, I really do want to join a bowling league so if you are serious, I'm in.

  15. You should definitely post more about living in the middle east. What a neat experience...


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