Every so often, I sit back with a cup of coffee, or a martini, and think about how I can be a better person and improve my life and the lives of those around me. Sometimes I’m forced to do this without the benefit of liquids or even food but with the addition of atoning. It’s called Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur was yesterday. And I fasted. The whole day. I’m a (very) Reform Jew which basically means that I observe the Jewish holidays in non-traditional ways. But I do observe them.
This year, Yom Kippur coincided with two things: my 13 year-old son going to New York for the weekend with his Catholic father in order to go to a Jets game on Sunday (Hey, they went to the Carnegie Deli on Saturday and the kid ate a whole corned beef sandwich on rye. That counts.). And my husband’s birthday which is actually today, the day after Yom Kippur, but since he has to work, we were going to celebrate last night. A joint break the fast and birthday celebration dinner.
With my son gone, I had a unique opportunity yesterday to spend time alone with my 11 year-old daughter. The kid still likes to hang out with me so I took advantage of the situation and planned a little road trip bonding adventure. To IKEA, which is an hour from where we live. We had some time in the car to talk about important things like boy crushes, skinny jeans and domestic violence (thanks Rihanna and Eminem) and then spent a few hours walking through the IKEA showroom. (The place is huge. I was happy I wore sneakers instead of my usual flip flops but I did look like a middle aged tourist.)
While we were there, we got some great ideas for re-doing her room which is going to be her Hannukah present this year. Putting in a futon instead of an extra twin bed, installing some shelving above her desk and improving the lighting. She’s in middle school and her room has been the same for years. Well, since she was a newborn. It’s time.

She had been fasting because, I think, she wanted to share the experience with me but all that walking and idea-generating got to her. Or it could have just been the smell from the IKEA cafeteria. So my ultimate fasting test of the day was going through the lunch line with her, looking at gravlax platters and Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, and not getting anything. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Not even a glass of water. But my kid got chicken fingers, French fries and vanilla frozen yogurt.
We made a few purchases but managed to spend under $100.00:
  • A birthday present of a full body pillow for my husband (AKA Mr. Fowler) because he’s been sleeping with a regular pillow between his legs. He sleeps naked and I’ve made the mistake of accidentally using that pillow. Not an easy mistake to recover from. Won’t ever happen again. 
  • A floor light for my daughter’s room. To help her see her homework better. She’s already been using it as a microphone and performing in her room.
  • A new duvet cover (on sale) for my bed in handsome Fall colors that is more masculine than the pink and red tablecloth we’ve been using for a few years. I told Mr. Fowler that now maybe he’d start acting like a real man in bed. 
  • And a white enamel covered colander to replace the plastic one my mom got for me at Zabar’s when I moved to NYC in 1987. A few boyfriends and one husband ago. The plastic is starting to fall apart. I didn’t think it was an outrageous purchase at $9.99.
When we got home, my non-Jewish husband (guess it’s a thing with me) and stepdaughter were back from her soccer game. And in my exhausted state, I plopped on the couch and watched a movie with the girls. I’m embarrassed to admit that it was The Last Song with Miley Cyrus but it was a cheesy tear-jerker and it used up almost two hours of my fasting time. 

And in between all of this mishegoss (Yiddish for craziness. Also spelled meshugas. See I really am Jewish.), I atoned and reflected. Really, I did. What I atoned for is between me and my God. But my reflections? Not so private. 

My life has changed a lot since the last High Holy Days. I’m much busier now. Busier than I’ve been in a few years. And it’s all good.

But I’ve been trying to figure out how to fit everything in to my life that needs to be there. Time with my husband, time with my kids, cleaning the house (it’s been over 6 months since we let the housekeeper go so if there’s a little ring around the inside of the toilet, don’t freak out), exercising (I’ve only worn my new sneakers 4 times and I bought them in the beginning of August), writing for both myself and for my 6 posts a week paying gig, working as a bookkeeper and spending some time with friends and family who are important to me. 

And I haven’t figured all of that out yet.
But the effort of all of that reflecting made the rest of the afternoon go by really quickly. And the next thing I knew, the sun was going down and it was time to leave for our favorite Japanese restaurant to have our break the fast dinner and to celebrate Mr. Fowler’s birthday.
I appropriately broke my fast with a JB (Jewish bagel) roll (cream cheese, salmon and a little scallion) and a bottle of sake. Then we cooked up some Korean barbecue with the help of our two girls and our temporarily single friend. Stuffed ourselves with Bulgogi, Galbi, kimchee, Korean gefilte fish and sweet potato noodles.  And toasted Mr. Fowler’s birthday with the Chef and his wife over some champagne and fried bananas with ice cream.
While I was falling asleep last night, full and a little buzzed, I realized that, though I had been reflecting, I hadn’t figured anything out. But I was happy. My snoring birthday husband next to me with his new pillow between his legs. The two girls passed out in their bedrooms, growing up and becoming really exceptional individuals. My son far away in New York City in his aunt’s apartment, happily dreaming of going to the game today and wearing his Jets jersey to the new stadium in the Meadowlands.
And me. Sleeping on a fresh-smelling pillow. Blessed with having only good things to figure out. And, as always, Happier Than Most.