Feb 6 2010

Age boxes

There are all kinds of different ways to be reminded of the fact that we are jumping into a new age box, always going the same direction – towards the higher numbers. Sometimes it’s just noticing that the frown lines are still there when you laugh and that the laugh lines remain behind when you are no longer happy. If you are a saver like me you might discover that those old clothes that you have been saving since the 60s or 70s are back in style again. The only problem is that you weren’t also able to save the body that used to wear them. The new body that you have now is not quite the same as the old body that you used to have. The new body is now old – or at least getting there.

But it’s not just the stuff that is happening to our bodies that remind us that we are getting older. It’s the stuff that is happening to other bodies around us that also remind us. In the past month, two bodies within my circle of known human beings reminded me of my changing age. They reminded me by dying. One was elderly, the other, not so.
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Dec 26 2009

Another year older

A new year is fast approaching. That’s a good thing, I guess. A new beginning, new resolutions, a new start. All good things. It also means a new notch on our belt, another year older. I’m still not sure how I feel about that. Here’s something I wrote almost 7 years ago but being that its soon the eve of a new year I thought it appropriate to put it up on my blog now. Something to think about as we cross over that demarcation line that causes 2009 to change over to 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

I feel the need to rant a little. I want to start off by making something very clear – this whole thing about aging – I don’t like it, not one bit.

I haven’t been feeling so good lately. When I wake up in the morning, just getting my feet over the edge of the bed down to the floor takes an effort. And then I have to stand up! What a job! Walking’s OK, once I manage to bend down to buckle my shoes. I keep hoping that I don’t have to go uphill though. That’s a real bother! When I ride a bus, I generally get up and give my seat to any white haired old lady when there are no seats left. I figure that I have to set a good example for my 12-year-old son. But, I don’t know, they must have done something to those bus seats when I wasn’t looking because they are so hard to get up out of!

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Dec 9 2009

Chanukah in Swedish

In just a few days, Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, will start. I wrote this piece sometime in 2004 but since its that time again I thought I would put it up now. A few things have changed since I wrote it. My son is no longer in 1st grade but in his last year of school before going on to college next fall. We eventually did do a presentation of Passover when he was in 4th or 5th grade, which was a big success. The Swedish Church has now been separated from the state and is trying to figure out how to survive in this very secular country. In the spring, Bevin will have a course called “Religion”. We’ll see just how multi-cultural the class will be. Maybe Bevin will have to give a talk about his religion once again.

Moving from the United States to a land like Sweden is often fraught with surprises. Of course one expects to find differences – the language for instance, or foods like Falukorv and Tunbrödsrullar, and Lutfisk. Clothing and shoe sizes are different and so are the measuring cups. Remember the metric system that the states spent 30 years trying to introduce and failed? Well it’s here, in use every day. And don’t forget the price of gasoline – 4 dollars a gallon! And how about liqueur stores open on Saturday night so you can buy a last minute bottle of wine for the dinner party you just got invited too? Well, forget it! But overall, there are a lot of similarities too. Cars drive on the right side of the road. Traffic lights are red, yellow, and green. The Big Macs taste the same. So do the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. TV shows from the States are all in English as long as they are for people over the age of 7 or 8. You can watch British Masterpiece Theater programs (often before they arrive in the States) though they are not called Masterpiece Theater here. The clothes people wear are often produced in the Far East and lots of the toys are made in China. Barbie is easily available and so are potato chips and microwave popcorn. Its when you find differences in areas you didn’t expect that you get surprised.

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Dec 5 2009

Being Jewish in Swedish

Once again this is something I wrote awhile ago, around 2004. In the years that have passed, my son has had his Bar Mitzvah and I now sit on the board of an organization called Progressive Judendom i Stockholm. We are working to bring Reform Judiasm to Stockholm. And the group of J.A.P.S. that formed all those years ago still (with some comings and goings) meet for holidays and other times. Our children are like cousins to each other and the adults in the group are more than just friends. They have become family.

An American Jew in Stockholm

It’s funny how things change the older one gets – one’s sense of immortality, one’s idea of how to live a good life, the color of one’s hair, the list of things that are important.

I’ve spent a long time living here in Stockholm. I’ve spent an even longer time being Jewish – pretty much from birth, actually. My parents were Jewish. Both sets of grandparents were also Jewish. All my family and the relatives around me were Jewish. But I didn’t grow up in a Jewish neighborhood. From the time I was 4 years old till I was 18, I lived in a small town in the middle of northern New Jersey. All through grammar school I was the only Jewish kid in my class. And if there were any Jewish kids in the large regional high school I attended, I didn’t know them. I always had to get special permission to be absent from school on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I then had to explain to my friends why I wasn’t in class. Getting permission wasn’t a problem and the explanations finally became routine but having to go through that process did contribute to making me feel different from all the rest.

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