Saturday, June 23, 2007

JUMP ...

Having recently been on vacation, I once again had to deal with one of my demons that I stopped trying to resolve years ago. This is one of those demons that I chose to rather embrace and simply acknowledge it for what it is than spend time trying to work through it and master it. I resolved rather to accept it as one of my hang-ups which is one of the strands of fiber in the weave that makes me who I am. Bottom line – I always have and still do feel at my least confident and comfortable in a swimsuit. The difference between then and now is that back then, which I knew at the time too, I had no reason for it – which is what defined it as a demon. Now – quite simply, who gives a shit?

While chatting on line to Angel earlier this week, I asked her to do me a huge favor, the result of which you will come to enjoy in the near future, so for now I will not elaborate. In the conversation I told her about an incident that had taken place in my life which I described as being a very similar feeling to what I was experiencing just prior to popping the favor question.

My cousin and I, along with some friends were heading out to a very basic camping location for the weekend. It was a very popular weekend destination a short distance outside of Johannesburg called Syringa Spa. I have not been able to find it on the www. Do not let the word 'spa' conjur up any images of a typically gorgeous African spa. This was a very basic camping venue which offered lots of other activities. The motor cross track was the main attraction and it had a great swimming pool. Reluctantly I had packed in my swimsuit but with no intention of using it. My cousin had as good a physique as me and I could never understand her reluctance to prance around in a bikini especially considering that she had the added advantage of a gorgeous tanned complexion whereas I am very fair skinned.

I still can’t recall what possessed us to embark on the whole swimming thing, but after a long debate and lots of laughter – mostly nervous energy – our plan was made. We would wrap ourselves in towels and head for the pool area which was packed with people. Most importantly, we would be discrete and not attract attention to ourselves. This was imperative. As soon as we would get to the top of the grassed rise where the ground leveled out, we would drop our towels and with drawing as little attention to ourselves as possible, we would jump into the pool. We would be fine once we were in the pool because we both enjoyed swimming and we were happy to stay in the water until the last sun worshiper left the area. It was important that we jumped rather than took a dive, as we thought our quiet little jump into the pool would be less attention intensive. We also agreed that we would hold hands throughout the process. This aspect might well have been enhanced by the indigenous African plant we had inhaled before heading off on our mission.

Everything worked like a charm. We made it up the embankment without tripping over our towels. We felt certain that we had not attracted any kind of attention to ourselves to make us feel uncomfortable and we were giggling all the way. As we got to the top of the rise, we dropped our towels and broke into a sort of run-walk action, tightened the hold on each other’s hand and we were now aiming for the pool. The automatic reflex of blocking our noses with our free hands completed the preparation for the jump.

We made our jump, and SPLASH – we were in … up to our ankles in water … still holding hands and blocking our noses … while we stood in water up to our ankles. It took a moment for the crowd to start, but once they did, there was a thunderous round of applause from every single one of the people around and in the pool – young and old.

We had jumped into the kids side of the pool!

pic: jengray

“Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do

until you can get silly again.”
~ Mike Myers

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have been through some huge changes in my life over the last few weeks. It has taken me a bit by surprise as to how much I have found myself reflecting on these changes and how much the whole “thing” has impacted on my life for the last nine or ten years. I am processing many thoughts and emotions which I am not totally ready to write about yet. I believe the changes are all good. I am confident that the outcome of the changes will all be positive. These events lead to Father’s Day 2007 being the first in almost ten years where I was not involved at all with how my family celebrated the day. This was a relief for me and it was good to see DDTF’s older children take a moment in time to acknowledge their Dad.

I thought about my late Dad and although I am very used to not having a father, when I watch Ross and DDTF, I very often wish I did have a Dad present in my life. I thought about my neighbor whom I have only known for just short of six years. My friendship with Stan is the closest thing I have had to a wonderful daughter/father relationship in my life. I say that with no disrespect to the memory of my father. It is unfortunate that my relationship with my Dad had to wait for many years after he passed on for me to be mature enough to work through it and reach a place of understanding about it all. I am therefore very grateful for the friendship of my friend next door and I don’t think he has even a vaguest idea of just how much I gain from it and how much I value it … perhaps next Father’s Day I’ll tell him.

The conversation outlined below took place on Yahoo Messenger between me and a friend of mine who lives in Chicago. JBL and I worked together about 22 years ago when we were both still living in South Africa. About a year ago I saw a pic of him in a weekly e-newsletter I get from South Africa and it was through that letter that I managed to re-connect with him after all these years. Although we never socialized outside of our brief contact during working hours, I remembered him because of his UNBELIEVABLE sense of humor. He is the kind of guy that cracks me up by just walking into the room and looking at me. In meetings I would have to sit looking away from him as I could not keep a straight face when I looked at him. He was for me a top bloke and I was thrilled to get the warm and equally pleased vibe in response when I first emailed him.

As this conversation unfolded, I decided to save it because I related to it so strongly. I am sure every South African now living in another country who reads it will relate as well. I think every parent who reads it will relate. It speaks of the dream that all parents have of seeing their children grow up into happy, confident, well rounded successful people enjoying the best life we all strive to give them. I asked JBL if I could use it and I knew the perfect time would come to share it.
(I have only edited out the user id’s at the start of each sentence. There are some South African slang words displayed in italics which are translated at the end of the post.)

jbl: today (15 years ago) we arrived at O'hare. Today 15 years ago
I stumbled off the plane, with my wife +2 kids, 8 suitcases, short pants
and a whole lot of butterflies in my stomach.
jbl: I had just said goodbye to my mother (avo sholom) who said goodbye to her two grandchildren that she lived for .... and visited our house in JHB 3 to 4 times a week to visit and baby-sit ......but she knew that we were doing the right thing.
jbl: and I will never forget that feeling of leaving South Africa on that flight. as the plane took off I remember looking through the window and thinking ...............
jbl: shit - I am on a one-way ticket ....(not like previous trips when you are moerse excited because you are on an overseas jol and then will be back home in about 2 weeks or so) this was a different feeling as the plane took off .... they were excited ......... I was kakking myself… sort of loose pooh stuff.

dawn: I also so clearly remember thinking, as we took off in pouring rain, what my mom on the ground must be feeling - I was the last of her three children to leave - she was going to be remaining in South Africa without any of her three kids around her - I remember feeling like I was abandoning ship.

jbl: sort of ....."what the fuck am I doing" - and is this the right thing to be doing? and all the mixed emotions as the plane takes off and you are g-forced back into the chair
and the lights of JHB sort of get smaller and smaller and you skeem ....... wow ........ when next will I see my chinas, my mom ......??
and so when the drinks cart came around I nearly kissed the hostie .....nearly gave her a fat smooch right on the lips - LOL
jbl: and two scotches later .... I sort of relaxed .....
I had a job to come to and knew that my missus would work (because she wanted to)
so that part of it was OK .... then fast forward to the picture of my daughter
because when you decide to emigrate, and you decide to leave , immediately we all refer to the famous … "well we did it for the children". Rabbi Yossi Goldman reminded me ..... 15 years ago when I told him we were leaving and he asked why and I told him ....for the children … his reply was, “good .... but remember you are leaving also for "you" and "your wife".
jbl: so 15 years later ..... at a graduation .... one does get the chance to reflect .... and put it all in perspective that ..... if we did it for the children - then fine .... here's a point in time to mark .... she graduates with her Master of Science in Developmental Education from one of the best Institutions in the US of A - a proud moment
so ..... happy events give us emigrants an opportunity to reflect . I am sure that sad events allow similar reflection but as a dual track one takes a moment in time -- sitting in the graduation ceremony (like sitting on the plane) and reflect - here is my little girl, now 28 - graduating ..... and I think back on when she went to the first USA school, then high school (and that graduation was a time of reflection too), then college and that graduation was a time of reflection too .... and then her masters - and so it goes - and as the kids grow up every moment in time of some significance allows us all to reflect.

dawn: and that is when, as a parent, you can really count your blessings when the moments of reflection are filled with pride, and achievement, growth and accomplishment - which essentially is, without taking anything away from the child's achievement, a manifestation of good parenting - and one can be proud and happy - what a pleasure! In an instant, so much become so worth it – right?

jbl: I love milestones ..... for instance I can now tell you what I have done and not done in the past 15 years .....!!! I can tell you for instance that in 15 years, I have bought Dominoes pizza about 5 times - walked into the Kentucky Fried chicken place near me twice - never ever eaten Pizza Hut in the USA in 15 years - don’t know why I remember this.

dawn: 'cos it's a darn hard trap to avoid - I can't take credit for that one - I must confess that in the beginning we most certainly fell victim to the convenience of fast food outlets!!
Thanks for sharing this china – very special! Talk to you soon. Love you lots!

South African slang translations:
Avo Sholom – Yiddish for respecting a departed one – wishing eternal rest and peace.
Moerse – big time!
Jorl – Party
Kakking myself – Crapping myself (as in being scared and nervous)
JHB – Johannesburg
Skeem – Think
Chinas – Friends
Hostie – Air Hostess/Flight Attendant
Missus – Mrs (wife)


Thursday, June 07, 2007

RUSH ...

When Daniel and I were dating, we would speak to each other way too many times a day for people holding down jobs. There would be moments in my day where in spite of the intensity of the nature of my work, my heart, soul, mind and emotions would drift to Daniel. (He wasn’t DDTF yet!)

I would reach for my phone, call him and tell him I was having a “Daniel Rush” and I would receive calls from him at different times of the day telling me the same.
With the demanding travel agenda his job puts on him, our ten day vacation gave me full access, 24/7 which is something I haven’t enjoyed for a long time. Having DDTF right there next to me without any distractions was indeed a treat of treats.

Four days after we got back he headed off to his annual conference. Although it was local, it was practical and necessary for him to stay over at the hotel where it was held.

I missed him. Ross missed him.

While working at my desk today, the DDTF RUSH that I experienced motivated me to look for this as a way of telling him how much I love him and love being with him. Nothing could be more appropriate than making a dedication to the man I love more than anyone else in the world, by the only other man who makes me weak at the knees.
(You may have to click twice on the arrow in the middle of the pic to get it going.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

BACK ...

DDTF, Ross and I had a most wonderful vacation. We got back and had no choice but to swing right into ‘busy’ mode immediately. Prior to our departure we had assisted Ross in preparing for the 4th Grade Colonial Fair which was scheduled for 9am the day after our return. We arrived back in Brooklyn, NY and went to pick Pingy up from the doggy hotel. As soon as we got back home, we all spent the afternoon finalizing the preparations for the Fair. Once I have updated the ROSS EXPERIENCE, you will be able to see pics and read more about it.

In the week leading up to our departure a friend of mine in Chicago contacted me to ask if I would be interested in assisting the organizers with promoting a wonderful musical concert that will be taking place in both New Jersey and New York on Sunday and Monday respectively. I was grateful for the opportunity to be involved with this event and it kept me extremely busy prior to our departure and has continued to do so since our return.

If anyone is in the area, you should really take advantage of this event. This will be the sixth North American tour for the famous South African Jewish Musical – CELEBRATION. 3,000 applauded at the Royal Festival Hall in London and 800 in Great Neck, New York. Internationally acclaimed Oshy Tugendhaft & the Sydenham Men’s Choir, together with live musicians will appear in Montclair, New Jersey on Sunday, June 10th at 7.30pm.

Their show, ‘CELEBRATION 3’ celebrates the diversity of Jewish life. They are accompanied by a lively, jazzy orchestra and bring a vibrancy and joy to traditional and contemporary pieces. You can view some of their performances by visiting and doing a search for Sydenham Choir.

A lot of people have worked very hard to make this happen and I am really looking forward to it. It has truly been a treat to make a contribution to what will hopefully be a highly successful event.

DDTF is the chairman at his company’s annual conference taking place over three days this week. So between the Colonial Fair, Celebration 3 and the conference – this has been the first opportunity I have had to put fingers to key board. There has been much going on within our little family that has brought about some huge changes in our lives. All in all though, life has been good these past few weeks and there is much for me to share with you.
DDTF took this pic while we were on our cruise. It is very symbolic for me of the changes that have come into my life. When he captured this moment, I saw it as something to come back to that will remind me that there is always that some-one or that some-thing smiling down on me and looking after me. It makes me feel like I can breathe easily and with every breath I breathe new life and energy into every aspect of my life. This renewal feels so good!

Some family pics taken while we were enjoying our cruise.

At the risk of being repetitive, I again extend my most grateful thanks to those people who continue to pop in for a peek into my life and who never fail to reach out with love and kindness through the comment section. I intend to make my post more frequent and am about to go and make a long overdue visit to all those friends I haven’t stopped in at for some weeks.