Never Done: I woke up, reached to take my thyroid pill, spilled water into my alarm clock, shorted it out
Never Done: I helped make shiva for Judith Socolov, z"l
So, I woke up, reached to take my thyroid pill, spilled water into my alarm clock, and shorted it out. While I was mopping it off with a towel, I said, "Well, I never did that before," and both Josh and I cracked up laughing. And then I said the Shehekhianu.
And then I felt an incredible sense of relief. Because it was also the first time that I completed my Never Done activity the moment I woke up. Such freedom for the rest of the day! But my alarm clock was ruined. Or was it? I wrapped it in a towel and stood it on its head, to drain. I dried it with a blow dryer. I plugged it in. It didn't work. But it didn't spark and sputter and short out the outlet, so I let it stay there and went on with my day.
My day that included learning that you get what you pay for. A friend did me a huge favor and did some graphic work for free for a low-budget video I am producing, but as good as it was -- and it was -- it wasn't going to work physically for the prop builders who were going to take the designs and turn them into props. And when I called the prop builder (who I was massively underpaying -- really offering what amounts to a stipend, but he did agree to it, and he did tell me he would do the job) to check in with him, he started backpedaling all over the place. The price didn't include the stands, and he couldn't really commit to any price until he had final artwork, and he has a bunch of other work so he can't commit to a schedule ... all of which he had actually already committed to. As I tried to figure out what to do, I remembered that one of the mides (middot) is Frugality: Be careful with your money. As I thought about frugality, it occurred to me that I had underbid the job, and that I was trying to get something for next to nothing, and it was trickling down to disrespect my friend who was offering me something for nothing. So as I thought about all this, I decided to ask my other good friend who hired me if there was a way to get more money for the budget. I emailed and called him, and within -- I don't know -- an hour, he had approved the extra money. I don't know if I would have been able to call to ask for more money if I hadn't taken the time to realize it was actually my responsibility to make a good budget.
And then I went to help set up shiva (ritual Jewish mourning period) for my good friend Emily whose mom, Judith Socolov, just died. I adored Judy. I first met her when the Socolovs invited me to their family seder in 2003. She was the first person I ever met who truly reminded me of my mom -- because they shared a warmth, directness, wit, irreverence, and intelligence. My mom was living at the time, and we tried to orchestrate a meeting between Ann and Judy on one of my mom's visits, but it never happened. What I didn't know is that our mothers shared experiences of deep secrecy. Judy had been convicted of being a Soviet spy which she denied was true, but never spoke about publicly, and rarely in the home. (If you click on the link on Judith's name above, you will see her AP obituary that goes into some detail. Also, click here for the New York Times obit, which Emily says has a few factual errors.) My father had a top secret career (that I have written about elsewhere) that he never spoke about, even with my mother. By the time I met Judy, my father had recently died, so my mom was still dealing with the information that she had lived most of her marriage in an environment of secrecy. Now I wonder how much of their shared personality also came from some shared experience.
When my mom died, my close friends made shiva happen. They brought food and set everything up and stayed on top of it all evening and cleaned up and my sister and I didn't have to think about it. I was in a daze that day, but I do remember Andra taking the lead, and Ellen, Karen, Claire, Tonia, Lis, Barbara, and I actually do not know who else (but thank you!) joining her to take care of everything. When Judy died, I realized I could help in a similar way. I went over about an hour early, and joined Emily and her brothers as we cleaned the apartment, draped the mirrors, moved furniture, and set up food to get ready. As the evening went on, and I took care of the food and garbage, I realized that this is what Emily does every time she is at a party or an event; she makes herself a part of the event in a deep way -- and usually by sharing in the work. It felt good and right to be there and to be able to remove some responsibilities from her and her brothers' shoulders. It was a wonderful gathering, and Judy will be missed. May her memory be a blessing.
And, as I'm sure you already guessed would be the case, when I came home, the alarm clock was working.