RochelLeah's RealLife

Friday, July 29, 2005

Serious and silly HP fan art by Red Scharlach

Serious and silly HP fan art by Red Scharlach

Looking for some non-film images of J.K. Rowlings characters, I started browsing for some alternative art. I found this... the first ones are gorgeous, and then they just keep getting funnier, and funnier, and funnier....

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Post-Harry Angst (no spoilers) and a Call for Help

Well, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I started late yesterday evening (maybe 10-ish), continued until about 2 or 2:15 a.m. Went to sleep about 2:30. Woke up at approximately 10. Started reading by 10:30. Finished reading just short of 4 p.m.

Clearly, this is not a book to pick up without having a lot of spare time on one's hands if you are an individual possessing obsessive-compulsive reading habits (as in, cannot put book down until body gives out). Thankfully, with my schedule so full these days ;) I am able to squeeze it in.

And may I say,

I think that I am finally grasping the full dimensions of a facet of my personality that has been nurtured by technology: impatience. (And I am not alone in this, I know.) I have recently been forced to admit aloud the fact that I prefer to watch television shows on DVD, an entire season at a time. I get really annoyed that, after having crammed an entire season of
Battlestar Galactica into less than a week, I now have to wait a week at a time for new episodes, plus however long it takes me to get to Joshua's place, where he loyally Tivos episodes for me (well, I guess he watches them, too...). If I call someone on their cellphone and home phone, and still can't talk to them, a small part of me glowers until my call is returned. It only slightly helps to remember how far we've come since the days long before cellphones, when -gasp- not all my friends even had an answering machine.

I am having a fit of angst at the moment, not because the end of summer is only a month away, not because I can't find the "just right" knitting pattern for a sweater for my 3-year-old nephew, not because of my oft-mentioned and probably now yawn-inspiring poverty, but rather because of the cliff-hanger of a book. (And, for God's sake, it's published by Scholastic!)

I hasten to add that my angst isn't entirely driven by impatience to read the last book in the HP series, although I now feel rather confirmed in my usual avoidance of serialized fiction (Robert Jordan and the like). I just don't think that I could take it.

Why else am I experiencing a fit of pique? Because I must discuss the book... pour over it, analyze every detail, and vent. And neither my roommate nor my sister nor my boyfriend have read the book yet. THIS IS A CALL FOR HELP! Please help me regain my calm by helping me process the book.

And, OK, my state of mind may also have something to do with the fact that I haven't eaten since breakfast and it's almost time for dinner.

Maybe I should fix that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Planning for the Unthinkable and Unpredictable

As many of you know, I was rather disturbed by the events leading up to Terry Schiavo's death of this past spring. The family strife around her illness, the contradictory claims about her wishes and beliefs, the fact that this drama was played out in public and in a rather fantastic way--all of these demonstrated to me the importance of setting out one's health care wishes well in advance of any obvious illness, even for the young.

How do you know when your preoccupation with planning for an unforseen, devastating illness is practical or just plain morbid? Particularly when you are a healthy 30-year-old?
I used to have durable power of attorney for health care, completed after a class on end-of-life issues while I was in rabbinical school. But that was many years ago, and I don't know where it is. My opinions on such matters have changed, and so have the laws in California.

While I was at Kaiser last week for a doctor's appointment, I walked by the health education center and saw a poster for an Advance Health Care Directive Kit. I picked one up. Inside is the California Medical Association (CMA) materials, which are in harmony with the California laws enacted in 2000. (You can download these materiasl from the CMA, here:
Your Living Will.)

Needless to say, completing these forms is not easy. The initial matter that has me in a quandary is who to appoint as my agent and alternate agents. Without any paperwork, the person who would be responsible for my health care decisions would be, I think , my mother. They would possibly also turn to my sister. Anyone who knows either of my nearest and dearest would readily understand that neither of them would be in any state to make important decisions should something catastrophic happen to me. So, neither my sister nor my mother are ideal candidates to be my agent.

That leaves me with two more family members who I might use, both of whom would be a bit more capable of making decisions in a state of grief: my uncle and my brother-in-law (that is, my sister's husband).
Now things get even trickier. My uncle is a doctor. He has known me all my life. He has largely filled the hole left by my absent father. However, he's not familiar with the intricacies of Jewish law that I would want to guide my agent.

On to my brother-in-law... I think that this is one area of Jewish law in which we would mostly agree, despite his Orthodoxy and my Conservative ideology. Except one small thing: I'm not sure that I would want the letter of Jewish law followed if I were, say, in a persistent vegetative state for ten years. That is, I would possibly want nutrition and hydration stopped, despite the fact that neither falls under the category of medicine (which may be withheld) under Jewish law. And I couldn't ask my brother-in-law to go against his understanding of Jewish law.


I thought in passing of my boyfriend, and whether or not I would trust him to make such decisions for me in the future, should we continue to be together. I was happy to realize that I would, even if it is too early to place such obligations on my sweetheart and not yet appropriate to do so.

Next, I tried to figure out who I would trust to make judgments according to an understanding of Jewish law in harmony with my own beliefs. I thought of a couple friends who are rabbis, whose wisdom, knowledge and compassion I trust. Maybe I will ask them if they would mind being consulted in case there is a lack of clarity on the part of my agent.

With all of these efforts, one of the things that has surprised me most is that I have very specific concerns and opinions regarding plans for an illness I may never have or might not happen for fifty years. Instead of doing a cursory completion of the forms, I feel compelled to delve into my deepest beliefs about life, death, family, and my own mortality.
As I continued to fill out the forms, I realized that I wanted to give more guidance than simple yes/no/let my agent decide answers to a few questions. So, I went to the Rabbinical Assembly (the official body of Conservative rabbis) web site, where an old Durable Power of Attorney can be downloaded in PDF format (
mackler_care.pdf (application/pdf Object)). I think I'm going to have to cut-and-paste from that document to create another document of guidance to attach to the Advance Health Directives form.

On a happier note, I am getting closer to completion of the baby blanket, and I have acquired access to a copy of
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (since my sweetie is being altogether too patient with starting his copy for me to rely on reading it before I am confronted by the spoilers I have successfully avoided so far).

Monday, July 25, 2005

for those of you who didn't go to film school, this is SO cool...

Fathom :: The Source for Online Learning

Columbia and AFI have partnered for on-line seminars, along with a number of other affiliated institutions. The location for all these things is Check it out!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More thoughts about my summer of under-employment

I began this post while sitting in the dining room of a house in the Miraloma neighborhood of San Francisco. This was the location of my most recent attempt to earn some cash: house- and pet-sitting for a vacationing family. For a reasonable fee, I took care of the house (mail, garden, etc.) and its multiple non-human, animal occupants for six days. Said occupants include the following: a very active 2-year-old female dog, whose owner even describes as spoiled; a dowager dog of very mellow temperment, but a whiny-sounding bark/voice that sounds somewhat pathetic; and a slightly agoraphobic kitty, with beautiful green eyes and patchy fur that is finally coming back after battles with skin rashes and who rarely leaves one of the bedrooms out of fear of the older dog.

Such is the life of the under-employed graduate student during summer break. Although I continue to be sent solicitations for work during the school year (for which I am pretty full up, at least through January), I am still stymied in search of steady summer employment. Well, actually, I've sorta given up. I've proposed a few more articles for and am near confirmation of another house-sitting gig. I babysat for one very pleasant evening (leaving with a rather striking portrait of myself, drawn in crayon by a 5-year-old). Then there was my lovely week teaching Prophets to nuns. And I do have other people to contact. But I'm no longer really interested in taking on any sort of regular work schedule.

It's not like I'm being altogether lazy. Unlike any previous vacation time when I have been unemployed, I have been waking up regularly between 8 and 9 a.m. I can barely manage that during the school year. I've been seeing plenty of my friends and have continued to meet more of Joshua's. In fact, our social calendar has been quite busy. I've read a few books and am currently working on The Angel of a Thousand Wings. I've made some excellent progress on the baby blanket for the now seven-week-old Paltiel. And I just worked 4 1/2 hours today--straight through, no procrastination or "breaks"--on the syllabus and reading assignments for this fall's course on Jewish Liturgy. As long as I can eke by financially, I think that I'll stay on this course. Just remember to forward any house-, pet-, and/or baby-sitting offers my way. ;)

Video Game Known for Violence Lands in Trouble Over Sex - New York Times

Video Game Known for Violence Lands in Trouble Over Sex - New York Times

Of course, all the violence is perfectly OK for kids. Just don't show them the sex.