Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hella busy week and I hardly had time for the usual stuff: Blogging, running, watching the Yankees (I thought they’d easily dispatch the Angels and then I’d focus on the more-challenging White Sox, but what do I know?), or even getting together with the family.

So last night I called my sister and caught up on everything. We chatted for a good hour and then I ended it, knowing I’d be seeing her again in this weekend. Nothing was mentioned about the recent Jewish holidays.

Then five minutes ago, she called. "Hi, did you know tonight's Yom Kippur?" Yes. "Oh, I had forgotten. So what are we doing?" Together? Nothing, same as every year. She argued that we went out to dinner last year with our mom. No, that was Rosh Hashanah. She also forgot about that this year. Guess she’s been hella busy too. She continued to disagree with me about what we did when, and I insisted that I haven't spent Yom Kippur with them in ages. And still won’t. I learned my lesson.

This highest of holidays is a time of atonement, in which we fast for a day. The idea is that abstaining from the pleasure of food helps one focus on repentance and reflection of the past year. This is true, but I find that being with family kinda ruins it.

On my own, it’s not that difficult to fast. I do try to reflect, even if I don’t genuflect. Keep my brain busy so it doesn’t listen to my stomach. Not think about food? Piece of cake. Mmm, cake… No, no-- I mean, it’s easy as pie. Dammit, why do all clichés about simplicity involve pastries?

The hardest part is the last few hours. Whether or not I’m in temple, my own temples start to pulsate in pain. It reminds me of “The Tell-tale Heart”, hearing “a low, dull, quick sound -- much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton”, but before I start speaking “more vehemently” and “in a high key and with violent gesticulations” I remind myself it’ll be over soon…

But if I’m around my sister, she makes it worse. She counts down all day, especially toward the end (though she never wears a watch, enveloped in cotton or otherwise): “What time is it? Oh, I can’t believe we have three and half hours to go… What time is it now? You mean it’s only been fifteen minutes?!” She’s like a prison cellmate who keeps scratching a mark for each day of our incarceration into the wall. I wind up snapping at her, telling her to just carry out her friggin’ sentence in peace or I’ll shank her before the next fifteen minutes are up.

So I prefer to atone alone. Or next year I’d be repenting for fratricide.


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