Savoring Rare Grownup Moments

I waited patiently, and finally got my turn to see Avdi, as I knew I would, once he had luxuriated in child-free lounging.  He looked so much better.

We went out for craft beers and a bite at Perennial, a small brewery and eatery in Old Webster Groves, and caught up a little.  Then we adjourned to his house (so quiet!!), where we made a brandy Alexander, and then one of his more regionally-inspired creations, with gooey butter cake cream liqueur, crème de cacao, and vodka.  It sounds… questionable to the uninitiated, but it’s a great dessert drink.

I changed Percy’s cage (he was happy to see me), and helped Avdi assemble one of his challah bread puddings with creamy rum topping (a great way to use up stale challah).  Jess had arrived by then, and we all tried it.  Talk about a decadent alcoholic sugar rush!  Then they dropped me home.

Today I’ll probably do another abridged version of erev preps, for just the three of us, and then this weekend Avdi will be traveling to meet up with Stacey and return with the kids.  Then it’s back to where we left off in our drama thriller.

Update: I was getting ready to go to Avdi’s, when unexpectedly I had to do an hour-long interview with the state to determine if I had qualified for SNAP.  Not surprisingly I didn’t, after all that.  As usual, they think I have too much money!  Huh.

Then I went to Avdi’s and did the usual preps, only for the three of us.  Just for fun, I halved the challah recipe and made three personal challot!  They still came out huge!  I made salmon and tilapia, Brussels sprouts, and baby potatoes.  We had a nice quiet dinner talking, then cleaned up and helped Avdi pack the car for the long trip tomorrow morning.  He’ll stay with the kids overnight at a hotel in Columbus, OH.

Once again I’m back home.


Catmas Break

I got to drive myself to get lab work done, and to get a few groceries on the way home.  Then I drove to Jess’s to return the car, get an overdue cat fix (Pixie was really into it today; Odin always is), and get fed by Eric and his new Scary Kitchen Droid.  Their kids were chilling and gaming.  Jess updated me on how Avdi’s doing (very well) while dropping me home.  I think we’re all enjoying the absence of  constant meltdowns and stress.


No Shade, Just Light

Psych–you were expecting my usual xmas throwing shade!  Nah, why dignify it?  Instead, here’s how I enjoyed my “just another Jewish day”.

I slept in.  F–it, I slept in some more!  My dreams lately have been riveting.

I planted and repotted plants, while letting in the warm rainy air.  Rain!

I played with fire, candles, incense, and sage.  Fi-uh!  (Rain and Fire, my Elements.)

I ate some leftover rice, the closest to Chinese I had on hand.

I poured the last of my saved amontillado, early.

I played favorite CDs, old-school-style, and danced like no one was watching, which thankfully they weren’t.

I thought about how in STL I reclaimed my version of Jewishness without feeling like an imposter.

I enjoyed spending time with myself.

I wrote this.



Caravansary Under Way

Erev preps: abridged version.  A frenzy of trip preps churned around me as I baked and “helped” i.e. mostly kept out of the way.

S was particularly hyper and agitated all day, alternating between extreme meltdowns and leeching onto me.  He got more panicky and dysfunctional as he got overtired, and I was worn out.  At one point, Y broke down over yet another personal item S had taken and damaged, but then unexpectedly turned around and offered to help S pack.  It was a rare, noteworthy gesture.

Eventually packing up the car was accomplished, taking time out to do the blessings and eat spaghetti and meatballs.  Avdi did a superhuman job of managing and supervising the whole process, despite being exhausted himself.

Jess, who will ride shotgun on the long haul to Ohio (midway) and back to hand the kids over to Stacey, arrived and loaned me her car.  I went home and collapsed and slept in.

They were to set out early this morning (five-ish).  By now they are hopefully almost there.  Once Avdi gets back and likewise collapses, he will be doing his own version of holiday reveling in blessed kid-free peace.  It’s overdue and well-deserved.


Another Solstice Behind Us

Happy Winter??

Once again S was suspended, and it’s become clear the school is pushing for placement in a more “appropriate” setting, since they can’t seem to manage his disability.  They practically sent a restraining order!  Now it’s up to them to work with Avdi to find a solution, hopefully one that keeps S able to integrate with “typical” peers but provided with more guidance and supervision.  Needless to say, this is one more layer of stress and distraction for Avdi.  I’ve been going over there to keep an eye on S, without making it seem like a reward or positive reinforcement for getting kicked out of school for destructive behavior.

Y is very similar to S, probably why they “hate” him.  They are hypersensitive and insecure.  They alternate between screaming tantrums, obstructive behavior, and sullen withdrawal.  Then sometimes they snap back into affection mode.  You never know what mood they’ll be in or how they’ll react to the slightest thing.  Still, they allowed me to take them to a tropical pet store to get terrarium supplies, their latest interest.  It’s always been one of mine, too, and I was glad but nervous to take them.  At the store, Y was very withdrawn, but between us and a salesperson, we successfully obtained the items, and they paid for most of it with their own debit card.  Positive experiences like that will hopefully build trust.

K and I seem to have a good understanding and similar sense of humor.  He remains apart from the others, but enthusiastically involved in school clubs and activities, and seems to be on a college track.  E and I have been getting closer, as they trust me more.  Both of their disabilities take different forms, not volatile and destructive, and not as incomprehensible to me.  I suspect E’s constant baking self-challenges and successes are one form of constructive therapy for channeling difficult emotions and insecurities.  When they take over the kitchen, it’s like a cornucopia of wonderful breads and desserts.  Then Avdi, not to be outdone(!), tries to keep up, and it’s like a patisserie over there!

The kids and Avdi are about to drive halfway to meet Stacey, who will have the kids for the rest of the holiday.  So erev preps will be abbreviated, as they get ready.  Then Avdi will get a little breather (mostly to work and take care of business without constant interruption).



Maybe the dream was a premonition, because it turns out, hundreds of synagogues across the country, including CRC, received bomb threats.  Apparently empty ones, but they brought in police with bomb detection dogs just in case.  Fortunately no trace was found.

Continuing on that morbid note, there’s a new film coming out, “The Zone of Interest”.  Just reading about it and watching the short previews was terrifying, the stuff of nightmares, but not what you’d think.  It’s based on a true story of a Nazi and his family moving into an idyllic home right next to Auschwitz in WW2.  You don’t see the atrocities going on in the gruesome concentration camp next door, but you hear the constant gunshots and sense it.

Meanwhile, the wife is happily showing off the plants in her garden.  You suspect human ashes from the ovens may be fertilizing it.  Some prisoners are forced to do housework for the family.  The children are looking at artifacts (teeth?) taken from victims next door.  Just by its understatement it’s a stark substantiation of how a whole nation of people can become complicit and complacent while hideous atrocities and genocide are committed by the government right under their noses.  Does that sound familiar?

I was afraid I’d have horrible nightmares just from viewing the previews, as one does coming from my generation, but instead I just lay awake thinking about the parallels, and how easy it is to become complicit in unthinkable crimes through being passive and nationalistic. We’re supposed to learn from history, not repeat it.  But human nature being what it is, it’s hard to feel optimistic.  Our kids are the ones who suffer when the adults who should know better are the perpetrators or enablers of hate and destruction.

(This is what happens when I’m left to my own devices without supervision!  I think too much.  I leave you with these eerie film images.)



Dreams are Windows

My day yesterday started on a good note, as I finally, by a stroke of luck or inspiration, was able to schedule the ride to the dentist I need, to do preliminary procedures, in order to proceed with the other dental reconstruction project I’ve had scheduled for early January (it will take at least a year to complete).

Then I got to Avdi’s, where S was on extreme hyperdrive, almost like on drugs.  All day long he was racing and hurtling around, glomming onto me, and not getting worn out (though I was).  But in between manic frenzies, he and I had some interesting, serious talks about him, as he gains some insight into and can articulate what scares him and impels him to react so explosively.  We even discussed some possible strategies to help himself feel more secure.

The kids were a little sad that Chanukah was ending (mainly no more tchotchkes), but erev preps and the meal went well, beginning with E and I reciting the blessing over the candles.  It’s becoming a little tradition of ours.  Y and I were getting along.  S even ate some dinner!  Then everyone was in and out all evening to their various activities.  S and I played and talked and watched videos.  When he’s not imploding, he and I are surprisingly on the same wavelength.  He can sense when I’m arriving before he knows it, and I can often read his mind.

I actually slept well there, for a change.  I don’t even remember my dreams, which are usually surreal and disturbing.  S also slept long and hard.  When I finally got up, everything was quiet and S was a little calmer.

Then Avdi told me that E had requested to go to CRC services today, but that Jess had reported having a very vivid, distinct dream, almost a premonition, about a synagogue shooting.  Of course that’s not far-fetched, especially right now with the Israel/Gaza war.  I was very worried, and urged them not to go, but in the end, E’s good intentions won out.  S and I actually said a little prayer of sorts together, sitting on the kitchen rug like a prayer rug.  Jess came over and took me home, where I watched the service streaming, and even saw A and E dancing.

Ironically, the Torah portion and R. Randy’s talk had to do with Joseph’s dream interpretations.  He pointed out that the Hebrew words for dream and window are similar, and that dreams, though disturbing, can be like windows into what’s really significant and needed.  Anyway, the service proceeded peacefully, which was a relief, and many elements of it undoubtedly spoke to E.

All in all, an intense couple of days, but definitely a learning experience.  Now I’m at home trying to absorb it all.





Lights, Latkes, and Labyrinths

The last couple of days have been a blur of Chanukah candles, S exploiting his suspension (and me) at home, Avdi trying to work around all the added commotion, me trying to navigate the emotional gauntlet that is Y, me trying to coordinate the medical and transportation labyrinth, and catching up on sleep in between.  My dreams have been unusually insane.

But it’s all good.  I got to borrow J’s car, so I actually could go grocery shopping, run errands, and schlep myself and all my stuff to and from Avdi’s.  The kids were happy to get all the little tchotchkes, for the most part.  E made some really excellent from-scratch latkes; we were all impressed.  They really are an amazing chef.  The last time I saw Avdi yesterday, he actually looked slightly less fatigued.

Here are a bunch of photos.  I’ve even included my little “cubicle” downstairs.


Shedding Light

This has been a particularly overwhelming week for Avdi.  “Bleak” was one of the words he used to describe it.  I was glad when he asked to have me over for “moral support”.

As it happened, he was in a school meeting with school officials about the issues with S, when S had a meltdown and trashed his classroom and got suspended again.  So S was with Avdi when he picked me up, and spent the afternoon alternating between calmly playing as if nothing had happened, and having a long, shrieking meltdown over having to take a nap.  So a more in-depth comprehensive approach to S’s issues will have to be worked out.

Meanwhile, Y and the others continue to have their own crises and difficulties, while Avdi struggles to get work and business done.  It’s really not humanly possible to carry all that alone, and yet he does.  I wish I could get him an assistant or clone for Chanukah!

On a happier note, they all lit the 6 Chanukah lights (times four menorahs), and they got a few more tchotchkes each.

Turning Tables, Gambling Dreidels

I’ve spent a few nights at home to spare Avdi giving yet another ride; the kids are very demanding.

It worked out, because there’s always more pesky business to take care of.  My dentists needed help getting sorted out and caught up to speed, which means a ripple affect of last minute appointment-and-ride rescheduling for me, not simple.  There is no way I’m delaying my major dental reconstruction project, because of a failure of communication.

Right now I’m waiting on a half-dozen call-backs that are all semi-interrelated and time sensitive, to get the medical, transportation, and food help I need.  I hate feeling so dependent.  What if I were demented and disabled, on top of it, like many oldsters?  It’s like waiting for the dreidel to drop, hoping it’s gimel-loaded!

I neglected to light Chanukah candles while home alone–just not feeling it.  It’s really a family festival.  But I have gotten caught up on sleep, which was very welcome, and worked on eating a more balanced diet, which is challenging.

I don’t mean to kvetch.  I’m very grateful for all the help I get.  I’d be lost without all the kind volunteers who spend their spare time assisting people like me.  Ironically, I had hoped to be doing some volunteering myself in STL, if only I had money and transportation.  How the tables can turn!  As it turns out, it’s probably more productive to stay closer to home and family.