Monday, June 30, 2008

History - Part 3

Second semester ended and for the first time in my life, I applied for a job in the admissions office at the university. I was really surprised when I got the job. It seemed like everyone was desperate for cash... I spent that summer working and took a peek into my file, finding the summary of my interview. Everything the woman who interviewed me wrote about me was good. She recommended that they reject me based on the fact that she thought my parents didn't really want me to go... (I wonder why my mom drove me 4 hours each way to the interview if she didn't want me to go). Toward the end of the summer I typed my own acceptance letter - to nursing school and biology. I chose nursing.

In my senior year in high school I loved physiology, which was one of the reasons nursing seemed so appealing. The material was hard and the course load was intense (~40 hours a week). I n the beginning of the second semester, I came down with a really bad case of mono. It was so bad that I wasn't even required to attend the required courses and I missed most of the semester. We didn't study from textbooks and I didn't take notes from anyone, but I got the syllabus and was able to make up the material by studying in the library - it was enough to pass all my courses, including biochemistry (of which I remember almost nothing) and to get into second year.

After my first year in nursing school, I got a job at the university again, working on a database (dbase 3+). It was a great job - I learned so much and I was able to do things that no one else knew how to do, so they really depended on me. That summer I also met my brother's flatmate, who I ended up marrying a little under 2 years later. I could write about half a million posts about my first marriage (and most of them would probably be fascinating) but I decided that I'm going to pretty much ignore that part of my life in my blog. I don't want to relive it and I've already analyzed the whole thing to death, reaching a single conclusion that the marriage was an extremely poor choice. Part of my belief is that everything happens for a reason... and if I had to go through everything I did to be where I am today, it was all worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I've got about 5 minutes before we go light them, but since Lilach just turned Bat Mitzvah, this is the first Shabbat that she will light her own candles.

Lilach means lilac and purple is Lilach's favorite color.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

History - Part 2

The interview was great. It seemed that the only obstacle was my age. It wasn't clear if they'd accept me at 16... I don't even remember how I felt when I got the rejection letter. Maybe I was even a bit relieved at not having to be that far away from home so soon... and going to Cameron College (University?) would probably have meant being at the top of my class, which didn't sound too bad. My parents and I went for a meeting there and it seemed as if I'd be able to live in the dorms and that somehow they'd work out kosher food for me. I even thought my parents would get me a car.

My graduation was in the end of May. It happened to be on Shavuot & I didn't participate in the ceremony (probably the source of tens of years of nightmares about being forced to stay in high school to finish some additional requirements, despite having several children who live in a different country (hey, it evolved)). On June 4th, we arrived in Israel on vacation. My older brother had moved to Israel the previous year & we all flew over to visit. During our trip, my mom took me over to the admissions office at Hebrew University to discuss what I could do during the coming academic year to increase my chances of getting in the following year. We happened to speak to the head of the school who asked a few questions and then accepted me on the spot. When my parents went back to the US, I stayed here. It was surreal...

So, there I was at 16, living in the university dorms on my own, with my parents 7000 miles away, in the days before cellphones and internet. I shared a POB with my brother, wrote letters almost daily and checked my box several times a day. My mom must have been really busy writing letters that year (good preparation for her blog?) because there was almost always a letter waiting for me.

It was a great year. I met lots of great people and we hung out together. Movies were really cheap, so we'd go out for movies two or three times a week, even though we were all on crazy-tight budgets. My favorite course that year was chemistry. I didn't mind calculus either, since the teacher had an amazing Argentinian accent in Hebrew. I dragged myself out of bed to be in class 3x a week at 8am because I liked listening to him. It was too bad that I didn't understand a thing (probably a stupid choice to take calculus in a foreign language when you're 16). I got a 24 on the final and a 21 on the retest. That was the end of calculus for me. (In retrospect, no great loss...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

History - Part 1

As a little girl I dreamed of two main things - being a mommy and being independent. I was thrilled when my parents let me go away to school when I was just 12, boarding with a family who didn't really care that much, where I could get away with being as independent as I wanted to be. On weekends, I sometimes chose not to come home, preferring to spend time with friends. I walked to a synagogue that was far away, alone, because I liked it better than the one that was nearby. I liked the quiet time with my thoughts and I'd often make up stories in my head, as if I were planning a book. Being in Atlanta brought opportunities that I never had before - volunteer work to organize things for a charity event, participating in youth group activities, skipping school to go to the library (maybe I only started doing that in 9th grade, I'm not sure). I loved being able to do things for myself and not having to depend on anyone else.

I graduated from high school just after I turned 16. I skipped kindergarten because I read well, loved math, and begged my teacher to let me stay the whole day - I was in a combination K-1 class and the little kids went home before lunch, while the first graders stayed the whole day. I sort of remember her challenging me to ask the principal, but it's such a distant memory that I'm not really sure what happened. I got my full day and my mom bought me a lunchbox. About 5 moves later, when we moved to Oklahoma, I was in 11th grade. At the counselor's office, when I was choosing my courses, I realized that at the end of the year I would have enough credits to graduate, so I had them move me to 12th grade. It could have been a bad choice had I been in a place where I could have had some sort of positive social interaction, but being that it was Lawton, Oklahoma where I felt so different from everyone else (after having just moved from Brookline, Massachusetts), it was really much better.

At 15, I sent out college applications and my mom drove me down to Dallas to interview for Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel. Now, that would be far. Very, very far.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm Rachel. 39 years old, living in eternal summer camp with my best friend, Ohad, whose biggest fault is that he doesn't let me keep him up the whole night talking to him. Together, we're raising six children - Hadas (14-1/2), Matan & Lilach (12), Abigail (3), Nomi (2) and Yirmi (3 months) - the first three are from my previous marriage.

I started out blogging over at FertilityStories, but I think that with 6 kids, it's kind of hard to be an infertility blogger. Sure, I have the experience of infertility (IUI, IVF, FET, the works), but my story isn't an interesting one to follow in that sense. We don't plan to have any more children and since I have another way of helping people who want my advice, I'm moving on...

Being pretty deep into this motherhood gig (a total of about 44 mommy years!) I know just how easy to get lost in it and to forget that being a mom is just part of my life. For the first few years, I let being a mom completely consume me until at one point, a little over 10 years ago, I realized that there was no me left. Since then, little by little, I've worked at reclaiming and redefining my identity as a woman, one who really loves and is devoted to her children but feels it's important to have an identity beyond them too.