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Starting afresh
Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 06:49 pm
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Thanks to everyone who was supportive when I was feeling down last week. I probably shouldn't post to LJ when I'm in that sort of state, but I do appreciate how nice everyone was about it.

As I would have guessed if I'd been a bit more with it, things looked a lot better in the morning. I finished the draft I was working on; there was only a couple of hours' more work in it but I'd got to the point where my brain just wasn't functioning. Sleep is good. The conference was a bit pointless, partly because I was having a hard time staying awake, and partly because it was pitched at too general a level to be informative for me.

The evening service for Rosh HaShana was, as I expected, very formal and very crowded, neither of which is all that uplifting for me. Afterwards I headed over to the third of the three synagogues in the city, the only one I hadn't previously visited, to join ploni_bat_ploni. The timings were such that the Orthodox crowd still had most of the service to run, so I went to stand with ploni_bat_ploni in the women's gallery. The gallery is set above the chandeliers, so if the women want to see what's going on they have to look past some very bright lights, which didn't do my sleep deprivation headache much good.

Dinner with Chabad as planned. I can't say I enjoyed it; the room was very crowded, there was a lot of alcohol and associated silly drunken behaviour, and I felt really uncomfortable seeing the Rebbitzen, the rabbi's wife, doing all the work of feeding and serving everyone, clearing up between courses, and looking after some very tired and fractious children, while she was heavily pregnant and of course you knew she had cooked everything as well. It was amazingly generous hospitality though, and it's a good thing to spend Friday night and the eve of the new year celebrating with a crowd of 30 festive people from all over the world, even if I did feel more inclined to slink home by myself by that point. I wasn't my usual extrovert self; I mostly talked to ploni_bat_ploni which is always fun, but was no more than polite to the other guests sitting near us (the fact they didn't speak English was some excuse, but a poor one).

I was quite proud of getting up in time for the service in the morning, but I was very tired through it. Then a lovely lovely afternoon with ploni_bat_ploni and another friend of hers. She fed us the most delicious meal, including honeyed salmon, and was as ever fascinating company. We managed to get ourselves invited to supper by the rabbi's wife (the rabbi of the Conservative synagogue, that is, not the Chabad rabbi from the evening before). So we went to the evening service for the second day, then on to the rabbi's place. It was a wonderful meal, both in terms of the atmosphere and in terms of the food, but as usual with them it was very difficult to leave, and by the end I was just incoherent with tiredness. On the way home I couldn't think of anything to do except cry from frustration at the fact that it was nearly midnight again and I didn't have enough hours to travel home, get a night's sleep and get back to synagogue this morning. Crying didn't help at all, but getting myself home and into bed for at least a few hours did help somewhat, so my lack of resourcefulness didn't matter.

Today's service was much as yesterday's (and I'm so proud of myself that I actually made it to all six new year's services!) except that they blew the shofar, the ritual trumpet made from a ram's horn. I am somewhat annoyed by the fact that the community decided to be all prissy about not blowing the shofar on shabbat, even though they have no problems with accompanying all services with an organ (which apart from the incosistency I strongly dislike). But hey. The shofar blowing today was something else; the guy not only blew powerful and sustained notes without once stumbling, but managed to make the shofar sound almost musical. The set of notes finishes with a long blast, and this guy managed to extend it for nearly 30 seconds and the sound just went right through me.

I came home and spent most of the afternoon just staring into space; even commenting on LJ seemed like too much effort after so much socializing on so little sleep. I guess this is how introverts must feel about being forced into too much people stuff! Though I recovered enough by teatime to make something to eat and have a nice phone chat with pseudomonas. ploni_bat_ploni also wrote about the weekend, by the way.

I'm feeling very uncertain about forgiveness at the moment. I don't have anyone to forgive, and I never really have, not since I was a teenager. (And even then, looking back at what seemed like mortal insults and unbearable injustice at the time I'm slightly boggled I took myself so seriously.) As for people I should ask to forgive me, well, there is one but she told me not to contact her, and I can't see how I can apologize to her without contacting her. Last year I wrote her a letter and had no answer, but later discovered indirectly through LJ that my doing that had upset her and made her feel threatened. Apart from that situation, which is a constant grief to me, I generally find that if I hurt someone, we'll talk about it and resolve it at the time and not need to wait until Yom Kippur. If I'm wrong about that, if anyone has any reason to be angry with me or hurt by something I've done, please do contact me and let's talk about it.

Which is certainly not to say I'm a flawless and wonderful person and have never done anything wrong! It's just that everything else is vague and indirect. It's probably more the sort of situation for attempting to change my behaviour in future, than for approaching and individual to ask them to forgive me. I keep reading lots of advice and admonishments about how to deal with the kind of interpersonal situation where one person hurts another and later asks for forgiveness, but it really doesn't seem to apply to me, either way round. So somehow it seems I'm missing a dimension from dealing with this season in the religious calendar.

What I do feel is that I want to make a new start with the new year. This past year has been somewhat limbo-ish; I've had some really lovely times with friends, taking advantage of not working to catch up on socializing. But I spent a lot of it marking time, waiting for things to happen. In the last part of it, I finally managed to get a job and then there was the general chaos of moving to Sweden at quite short notice. Actually getting my teeth into the work itself has been slower than I'd hoped. But now I feel settled in Stockholm and I'm at a point where I can really make a go of things. We'll see.

Completely unrelated: I've put up a review of King and Joker, which I read while I was madly busy, because reading beats most other forms of displacement.

Whereaboooots: Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: tiredtired
Tuuuuune: Shofar
Discussion: 6 contributions | Contribute something
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lethargic_man: default
Date:September 24th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
31 minutes after journal entry, 08:28 pm (lethargic_man's time)
I went to the alternate explanatory service in Newcastle, which they started last year. (It's sad that the community is shrinking so fast, but I think it's wonderful that there's an alternate minyan for Rosh Hashana, and a children's service; when I was a kid there was neither, and all you had if you wanted variety was the main services in the (then) three shuls, which were much of a muchness.) Between hearing half of the shofar blasts a second time (due to the alternate service finishing quickly due to doing Mussaf heicha kedusha, then my going back into the main service for the end of service), and the rabbi doing thirty extra blasts at the end in case anyone missed the opening thirty, I reckon I must have heard 190 shofar blasts today—almost enough to make up for not blowing the shofar yesterday!
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Date:September 24th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
42 minutes after journal entry, 02:39 pm (dsgood's time)
"I probably shouldn't post to LJ when I'm in that sort of state...." Why not?

As for forgiveness: You might start by forgiving yourself.
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livredor: portrait
Date:September 24th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 09:15 pm (livredor's time)
Thanks for this comment. It's helpful, but I'm going to screen it because I don't think it's appropriate to discuss a particular person in public, particularly not in those sort of terms. I included that back story because I want advice about the general case of what do about someone who is so angry they refuse to talk to you. You might be right here, but that's not the point.
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Date:September 25th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry
Do you remember, perhaps a couple of years ago, about this time of year when you were perhaps more exhausted because you were so busy with your thesis and yet were also responsible for a large part of your community's celebrations? I don't know why I bring it up here, but your post reminded me of then.

I think crying (when done appropriately) is an excellent relaxant. There have been many occasions when I'd get home and lain in bed and thought and thought and thought about stuff. It ends up with some quiet sobbing into my pillow, after which I find I can drop off and have quite a deep and restful sleep, even if it is short. It's not something I do consciously: "Oh gosh, I'm so stressed, I'll go home and have a cry," but it seems to happen (and work) when I most need it to.

As for apologising (or more generally, contacting) those who don't want to be reminded of your existence...well, I use God as a messenger service, which sounds terribly flippant. It might not "fit" with your idea of God or how He operates. Simply put, I'll ask Him to let him know that I'm sorry/it's ok/I'm thinking of him, because He's usually better at getting messages through to people without transmission noise. I do find it hard to do this, though, because it's a relinquishing of control to some extent - I can give exact wording to a letter, or email, or even a verbal message. But if I'm going to do it this way I have to let God do it the way He thinks best, and the chances are I have no idea what that is.
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Date:September 25th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
21 hours after journal entry

Glad to read you're feeling better! Again, don't be too hard on yourself! But sometimes you need other people to tell you that.

I blogged about our R"H adventures, by the way :-)

And about my Hagba'ah debacle which you had the privilege to witness :-P
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Date:September 25th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
Harriot Oppenheimer blew the Shofar. She was much better than the men I heard before. I just got into the Assif the second day of Rosh Hashana because someone gave me a ticket for free. It was mixed with Hakol Olim. I don't know them. They were not always sure about every tune but the typical Shabbat tunes everybody knew. I only like musical services like Assif and Yakar. I am thinking about going to Assif in the NNLS again for Kol Nidrei or locally to Yakar. It depends how early I eat and if I would get there on time. They start just a few minutes after Yom Kippur comes in.
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