Atoning my A** Off

Everybody makes mistakes. The question is does everyone feel like they make more mistakes than anyone else in the free world? Cause, I’m pretty sure that honor is mine alone. If I had a nickel for every time I tripped over my cosmic feet, (and hadn’t made the mistake of spending that nickel instead of putting it in the bank…), I’d be, well, you know the rest. I let an unvaccinated child into our synagogue this morning while volunteering as an usher. At some point, I got left alone at the desk and the entire team of security people and front door greeters had either disappeared or also got bamboozled by a sweet little face. And there he was. I knew this was a vaccinated service only, but somehow, I couldn’t make the leap between that fact and a little boy. I panicked. I f*%#ed up. Chaos reigned. Security tossed them, gently, out. Dad returned, grumbling, older vaccinated child in tow. Peace returned to the kingdom. Well, most of it. My little corner of the realm had been ransacked. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like I shouldn’t be there. I felt stupid. 4 hours later, my little place in the kingdom is still in disarray. I think about years ago, when I worked as a restaurant manager and it was New Years Eve. Mrs. Gold, an elderly woman who’d been coming to the restaurant since it opened and felt more than a little entitled, was having some sort of an issue and said to me, “ you know, Caryn, these sort of things only seem to happen when you’re here”. And I believed her. I still do. If there is a way for something to be misplaced, misused, mishandled, misinterpreted, or misinformed, Imma find it. Why? Am I seriously less intelligent than the next person? Not paying attention? Hard of hearing? Not getting enough sleep? Possibly. A passel of Mrs. Golds has taken up permanent residence in my head, and I can’t get them to move the f*^# out! And just when I get to the point where I think I might have them under control, like, they’ve packed up in search of another vulnerable brain…I do something dumb, I make a mistake. And I feel them all shaking their heads. “Mmm hmmm…what’d we tell you?” And that’s when I get it. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to do something stupid. And so are you. And you. And that guy over there. And that lady over there. And maybe the reason Mrs. Gold was so judging of others was cause she felt bad. Or guilty. Or like she didn’t belong there. Or stupid. I’m not as good at some things as some of my friends are. But I’m better at others. And yea, those things only happen when I’m there.

Bend, Don’t Break. Pin

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“How Can I Go Forward When I Don’t Know Which Way I’m Facing?” -John Lennon

Today we buried my Aunt Dollie. My AD has been a fixture in my life forever, literally. The timing of her journey, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is not lost on me. There’s something poetic about straddling the old year and the new; this world and the next. There will always be things we cannot know until we have traveled from here to, well, not here. And these mysterious journeys from here to wherever the f*%# not here is? They are happening all the time. And I’m not talking so much about the obvious. Birth, marriage, starting a family, death. All of the other milestones in life. There are so many smaller journeys that happen, that we may not even be aware of, taking place right this second. Every decision we make takes us from here to an as yet undisclosed not here. Ok, you ask, (yeah I see you rolling your eyes a little), what is the point? The point is…the point, huh? You’re looking for a point. Maybe I haven’t decided yet on what the point is. Maybe point A will bring me to one not here, and point B will bring me to an altogether different and possibly more delightful not here. How can I know? What if I make the wrong point? And of course there’s always point C. Don’t choose. Ah, you say, wisely, but deciding not to decide is also a decision and will also bring you to a completely different not here. Look, life is full of decisions, small, enormous, inconsequential, momentous. And often the smallest choice will bring you the greatest reward. My aunt was a bit of a badass. She graduated high school at 16, she was the first woman in her family to drive; she was a world traveler and a creator, making jewelry, and knitting scarves and pillows for all of us. She had a strong sense of right and wrong. I remember her giving my mom Hell because I didn’t send a thank you card for a gift she got me. She waited until both of her children were with her to take her final breath. She made a choice at the very end of her here to wait, just a bit, to go on to not here. And as I sit on my bed and write, I’m holding an orange knitted pillow in my lap. (For which, I’ll have you know, I sent a thank you card and called to say thank you), and wishing my much loved AD a peaceful journey from here to…not here.

Me, AD, and Mom

I Might Have Superglued my Nostrils Shut

I taught my first jewelry class today as part of a sisterhood retreat weekend centered on telling our stories. I thought working on a memory pendant would be a perfect fit. These were the very first pieces I did back when in 2012 when I was just starting the idea of a business. Like this.

No fire involved. I prepped all the metal beforehand. I put together toolkits so everyone would have what they needed. Ok ladies, this is what we’re making. Go. Make this. Easy peasy. Yep. Piece o’ cake. Not so much. 14 women looking to me for guidance. Using tools for the very first time that, for me is like brushing my teeth, but for them might be like getting behind the wheel of a spaceship. Throw in bench pins that don’t fit on the tables, connectors that aren’t quite long enough, the daunting task of fitting a two day project into two hours, and superglue flying. As am I. By the seat of my pants. What am I doing to these poor people? Recipe for disaster, right? But these women. They stepped up. They made some kickass stuff. Did they make what I envisioned? Some. Some took the metal and beads and doodads and did their own amazing thing. Did we finish them all? Nah. Did I take a few home that I am going to finish up for them? Yep. Happily. And as I stew and fret a little in the wee hours of the morning because I’m not 100% sure I gave them the best experience, I picture their beautiful maskless smiles, their laughter, their complete faith that I have every right to guide them in wherever this particular story goes, I think, this. This is what sisterhood is all about. Joyous, glorious mayhem that probably won’t go the way you planned, but is accepted with an open, grateful heart. Thank you, my sisters, my אחיות.

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“Such Pretty Forks in the Road” -Alanis Morrisette

“My true self is perfect wholeness”. This was the centering thought in today’s meditation with Deepak Chopra. It’s all part of my quest for purpose. To find my self, my space, and according to the tenets of Mussar, fill it, “no more than my place, no less than my space”. Whew. Sounds like I’ve bitten off quite the chunk, no? In historical fashion, my first inclination is to say, “F*#% this s@#*”, and spit the damn wad out. But, curiously, I’m sort of enjoying the process. It’s illuminating to finally accept that whining about the present, crying about the past and fearing the future, and doing it in such spectacularly public a fashion is pretty much overflowing my space and possibly holding everyone around me’s space hostage as well. All cause I don’t feel equipped to fill my space in the first place. I know, I’m starting to sound a little Dr. Seuss-y. I cannot, will not find my place, I cannot, will not fill my space. But seriously, folks, y’all know I’m going through some stuff here as the world opens up. Blah, blah, Blah. Who isn’t? The trick is to balance the inner and outer me. The soul and the self. The true self, which is, just by being, already perfect, and the self I have created, which is, let’s face it, a mess. This is, obviously, a long process. I, of course want results yesterday. “Come on, true, perfect self… I know you’re in there, come on out!” Meanwhile my true self is telling me to F*#% off and leave a family-sized bag of m&m’s before I go. *Sigh*. Obviously this is gonna take a while, but what’s the hurry? Isn’t the journey as much of the fun as the destination? Truly, whoever said that? They are full of it. Sometimes the journey is just trudging up a mountain in the desert in high heels. Yesterday, I placed my usual online order for this particular ice cream I like. But, instead of ordering 4 pints, I ordered 4 cases. Didn’t even notice until after I submitted the order. And because the order gets fulfilled like, the second they get it, there is a good chance that I’ll be getting 32 pints of ice cream. Imma have to buy a meat locker. So, yeah, sometimes the journey is frustrating and lonely, and scary. But it’s also hilarious. And sweet. And fun. And enlightening. And if you’re really lucky, you have all sorts of amazing family and friends right next to you, complaining about blisters on their feet and the desert heat. Ok, True self. Be that way. But I’ll be back. No m&m’s. But I will have ice cream.

Necklaces in Progress, not yet hiding behind the outer self

http://www.carynjune.com

Go This Way…

As the lockdown winds down and life begins to open up, I, like many others, am facing a crisis of faith. As horrible as this pandemic has been, it has been a period of calm for me. I answered to no one but myself. I needed to be nowhere and I created for only me. I didn’t stress about what I was missing, because we were all missing…something. And now? As we begin to remove our masks, I am suddenly afraid. What happens next? What do I do? Where do I go? I can’t live on the dole forever. I need a job. Don’t I? Can I keep living in this cocoon of calm and creativity, this bubble of peace, hiding behind a literal mask? Can I turn a quirk of fate into a life that resonates with joy? All of these questions have me a little stuck, loathe to leave behind the comfort of this quarantine life, but knowing I can’t stay. We all talk about the new normal. What is that supposed to look like for someone like me? Do I retire? Do I look for a new job? Do I sit around and hope my old job still exists? Or do I do neither of those and figure out what the life I really want to live for the next chapter looks like? Maybe it’s not just fear I’m feeling. Maybe it’s excitement, anticipation. Maybe it’s ok to be afraid, not for what we’ve missed, but about what’s to come.

Don’t look back

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If You Need Me, I’ll Be Under the Bed

A dear, wise and wonderful friend sent me a volunteer opportunity she believes I am perfect for. It involves coaching high school age students in under-resourced areas so that they can envision a brighter future. A worthy goal. I immediately got a stomach ache and knew in my soul it wasn’t for me as I have nothing to offer. Yes, I am, as she pointed out, a supporter. A cheerleader. I offer time. Interest. I make people feel valued and important. All good stuff. It does not make me coach worthy. I am aware of the gifts I possess. I’m funny. Creative. I act. I create jewelry. I write. I am pretty good at all of this. But interestingly enough, these gifts hide behind a mask. I create a character. A piece of art. A blog post. All of these express who I am without me doing the talking. I am, in person, not particularly articulate. I stuff things inside and mutter to myself instead of saying what I need to say, eventually blowing a gasket or making an ass of myself or both. I interrupt because I’m sure people will either lose interest or ignore me altogether. This is not news. Especially for the 6 people who actually read this blog. But, when I act? Or create a piece? When I write? I am something else. I am articulate and funny and real and I feel just a little bit ferocious. I remember talking about auditions with my nephew years ago. I hate, I mean hate them. I have never figured out how to show my best self in two minutes or less. Just give me the part. I will kick ass, I promise. Coaches of any stripe can’t hide behind a mask. They give of themselves freely and share their wisdom generously. What in the world would a timid, inarticulate, not particularly successful, completely self-absorbed woman with a raging self-esteem issue and a perpetual stomach ache have to offer that any young person would want to hear? So of course I sent in an application email. And even as I write this, my left eye is twitching and I feel like I might throw up. Pretty much like every other day. Maybe I’ll go solder a mask.

Mask of Comedy & Tragedy.

http://www.carynjune

That’s the Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Heard!

In this current world we live in, Zoom has been a life saver, a connection to those we love, to friends and loved ones, to religious community. There are more, let’s say, mature people who are still having some trouble navigating all this relatively new technology. We’ve all read the story about the gentleman who couldn’t figure out how to remove the kitty filter during a business meeting. Heh heh heh. There’s a lovely woman in a community I’m part of who tends to talk. A lot. The facilitator of our group has taken to starting every question with, “let’s hear from someone we HAVEN’T heard from.” So the other day, this person has her hand up and the tech support says, “So & So has her hand up”, and I hear, from someone else who obviously hasn’t figured out how to mute themselves, “Oy”. And I am looking around to see if anyone else heard it cause I want to laugh so bad. I, of course, am pretty dang tech savvy, so heh, heh, heh. A knee slapper. Well last night I participated in a wonderful program with my Sisterhood. It was informative and moving and inspiring and all those really good things. But, somewhere in the middle of it, I noticed a friend had her background blurred and I thought, “ooh, that’s cool, I wonder how she did that!” So, I briefly clicked on filters to see if I could find it, but no luck, so I clicked it off and turned my attention back to the event, only to notice that I had applied a very faint mustache to myself. Not a Groucho Marx mustache, more like a, she could really use a good waxing, mustache. So, I’m all “WTF, what do I do? What do I do? I don’t even know how I got it in the first place!” So, I’m sitting there covering my upper lip in what I hope is a look of intense concentration for a few seconds, before it occurred to me to just turn off my video and figure out how to turn off the filter. One of the many things I’ve come to know during this time is how much I don’t know. And really, so what? There’s always gonna be someone smarter than me, but I’m sure they’ve also run a whole load of laundry with no soap, or only noticed before getting ready for bed that they’ve been wearing their shirt inside out the whole day. But, I like to think I’m the only one special enough to give myself a ‘stache during a Zoom meeting.

She Could Use a Good Waxing

Retiring in Brigadoon

“An elephant never forgets.” “I remember the first time I..(fill in the blank).” “It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget.” As the years go by, I am stunned by how much I’ve forgotten. Whole swaths of my life are, not gone, exactly, but…kind of…you know…F*#% it, I forgot what I was trying to say. See what I did there? I have a friend on Facebook. Apparently I share a past with this person, experiences, mutual friends. We’ve been friends on social media for years. And to this day? I have, literally, no idea who they are. I mean none. Nothing. Bubkas. I feel terrible. This person was present in my life for a lot and I can’t remember. Or I was too full of my own drama to even make an effort to know who they were! How self-involved is that? I remember a friend from Pitt posting a program from a show we did together in the Studio Theater. And I looked at it thinking, “Was I in this show? I mean, I see my name, but, was I there?!” Whole shows. Whole epochs. Whole people. No wonder I can’t grow and move forward with any ease. If I put all the things I remember together to form a life, I’m like…six! The last High School reunion I went to was in 2016. It was my 40th. I was amazed at how few people I really knew. I was struck by the wonderful memories flying that I wasn’t part of. Don’t get me wrong, I do have great memories of really close friends. But I also know that there were experiences in my life that caused me a great deal of pain and humiliation. ( Don’t make me tell the peeing in my pants in junior high school story again!) I know that these experiences changed the way I viewed the world, well, my world. I was convinced, in my heart, that everyone was whispering about me and laughing at me and all I wanted to do was disappear. And I did. For years. I was always shy and gawky, but I no longer knew how to navigate my life safely. If I tell you my face is bright red and I’m a little teary even now, decades later? Not exaggerating. To this day, I have to tread lightly because I know it won’t be long before I either humiliate myself or hurt someone else, thereby humiliating myself even further. Quite the burden to carry through decades. And ironically? This, I never forget. Like riding a bicycle. And please, forgive me if I’ve already told you all this, I forget.

The Bicycle, or Blonde with a Flat, Commission

http://www.carynjune.com

Has Anyone Seen my Tassels?

Dust off your lampshades, people! It’s that time again. It’s time for the Birthday blog! This year I’m turning 63. Who would have believed this time last year what the coming year would bring. Pandemics and unemployment. Fear and uncertainty. Racism and revolt. Protests and an election that brought us back from the brink of democratic destruction. Murder Hornets. Sarah Cooper. Randy Rainbow. No one could have imagined, when we heard of a virus way far away in a little town in China that has nothing to do with us, that we would be unable to hug our friends. Celebrate birthdays. Sing Karaoke. Go to a Show. Eat in restaurants. Raise your hands if you thought this would all be over in a few weeks. Yeah, me too. But, we are resilient. We have found ways to teach our children when they can’t go to school, earn a little bit of money while our employment future remains uncertain, keep healthy when gyms and dance classes are not a safe option. We share our conversations on Zoom, we tell people we love them a little more than we used to. And we look forward to the days when life goes back to normal. And the silver lining just might be that the new normal? It probably won’t look or feel quite like the old normal. If you had asked me what I would do if I couldn’t work, go out without a mask, travel, eat in a diner, or pretty much go anywhere for a year, I would have spiraled right into an anxiety attack. But I am fine. I’m more than fine. I’m working on my jewelry. I’m 34 pounds lighter than this time last year. I make my own coffee every day and I’ve embraced my air fryer. The new normal might mean we wear masks for the foreseeable future. Or wash our hands a lot. Or go to a show where every other seat is empty. And maybe we’ll work more from home even when we don’t have to because we know we can. And get puppies. And we’ll still tell the people we love how much they mean to us because we know that life can turn, and fall, and end on a dime. We cannot go back to the old normal, because we have all grown, and the old reality now fits like a cheap suit. But, if it makes you feel nostalgic, I will continue to worry about everything, feed my addiction to Yahtzee and Gunsmoke, interrupt others because I’m afraid if I don’t talk fast, people will get bored before I’m through, and blame everyone but me for whatever ails me. But I will do it with a lampshade on my head.

Monster Under the Bed

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Losing my Religion

I am not you. I may spend my whole life trying to be you. Trying to have what you have. Be what you are. Accomplish what you have done. But I will never be you. Not being you is a double edged sword. I am not as pretty, as athletic, as rich or young as you. But I am not as lonely, as sad, as sick or frightened as you. Not being you is a double edged sword. I want your status, envy your wealth, crave your children. And I feel your sadness, wear your fear, carry your pain. I am not you. The hard part of not being you, is it is nearly impossible to be me. To delight, to relax, to live each day, just being me. Not wishing for your life, or taking on your pain. I have a life. I have plenty of pain. Why carry more burdens than I should? Why is it so hard to believe that every soul is given the joy and the pain that they are supposed to have. And to wish someone else’s joy for yourself, to take on pain that isn’t yours to take, isn’t fair to them and is an impossible burden on me. Yesterday was the 8th yahrzeit for my dad. And it occurred to me that wishing to be you? That means that all of those that came before me were irrelevant. Not quite good enough. Not as perfect as those that came before you. Because my nose? My Albert Einstein eyebrows? Dad. My red hair? My Grandma Cilly. My name? My great-grandma Channa. My anxiety, my impressive, if migrating, chest? Mom. But from them, I also got my brain, my sense of humor, my creativity, my empathy, my talent, my red hair! It is a new year. It is a week until I turn 63. That milestone brings its own joy and pain. I do so love being the center of attention. Joy. I’m a year older. Pain. See that? Just like any other day.

Woman Praying

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