Friday, April 18, 2014

information overload

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend at Friday night services in Okinawa. He and his wife have a one-year-old, and they’re very excited that Yoni and I will soon have a baby of our own. As so often happens after you tell people that you’re pregnant, conversations with this friend now seem to revolve solely around pregnancy and babies – but that’s ok. He usually has helpful advice to offer and funny anecdotes to share. No scary labor stories – yet. Anyway, the morning after we had that conversation (I think it was about strollers), he came over to me at shul and apologized. He said that he didn’t want me to think that we could only talk about babies, and he also didn’t want to overwhelm me with too much information. Having gone through this process recently himself, he is very aware that sometimes endless conversation can be the opposite of helpful. I told him that I didn’t think he needed to apologize; whatever he had been saying the night before was helpful enough, and certainly not annoying. (I also told him that, as a rabbi’s daughter, I’m surprisingly used to having the same conversation over and over again.)

I’ve been thinking about that interaction a lot over the past week. While we do have access to all kinds of baby gear in Okinawa (on- and off-base), the selection is very limited compared to what one might see in the States. And so I decided that, as long as I was going to be in the States during my pregnancy, I’d do some shopping. Or at least browsing so I could decide what to order online later on. But wow – sometimes the options are overwhelming. As much as it’s fun to have 25 (or more) monitors to choose from as opposed to the 3 different models they sell on base, having so many options certainly makes the decision-making process more complicated. And how different could they all be, really?

This afternoon I spent some time sitting at the kitchen table with my mom, looking at different umbrella stroller options. She is a perennial review reader, which is a great skill, but sometimes prevents her from making a decision when one needs to be made. There are always more reviews to be read, more options to research. She asked me today if I have that problem as well, and I told her that I like to read reviews, but I get overwhelmed and give up more quickly. Or I outsource the review reading to her! What does Yoni think, you ask? He usually has opinions, if you ask, but he doesn’t obsess. Plus, he’s currently deployed on the USS Bonhomme Richard (you might recognize that name from the nightly news), so he’s not exactly available for baby gear discussions. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a balance – for soliciting and/or receiving advice, and review-reading, and all things baby related. Something to strive for, anyway. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

epic fail

Once a month, there is an organized get-together for all of the Navy Chaplain Spouses on island. There are something like 30 of us who choose to be involved, although obviously not everyone attends every meeting. When I first arrived in Okinawa, I found these get-togethers to be intimidating and strange – everyone was SO Christian, there was never anything I could eat (it’s always potluck and people have a really hard time bringing food that doesn’t contain meat), and there was a lot of spontaneous praying. Almost two and a half years later, though, I find these meetings to be fun and funny and, if not uplifting, at least something to look forward to. Sometimes we have an agenda and sometimes the meetings are purely social, but there’s always dinner involved. People have even (mostly) learned to sometimes consider cooking something (besides dessert) that I can eat. And they’ve learned to close their prayers with “in your holy name we pray” instead of “in Jesus’ name we pray.” Progress!

Last night was our April meeting, and the potluck theme was alphabet soup. We didn’t actually eat soup – rather, we were supposed to make something that started with one of our initials. I wasn’t feeling particularly creative, and I was trying to avoid too many dirty dishes, so I decided to make a salad – an Israeli salad, to be more specific. I love to make Israeli salad; weirdly, I find all the chopping and dicing to be soothing. I cut up my cucumbers and tomatoes, threw in some corn and hearts of palm for good measure, seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a little olive oil, packed the whole thing in a big glass mixing bowl, and was good to go.

My good friend Diane – a fellow chaplain spouse – lives in the same tower as I do, so we always ride to meals together. Last night we met in the lobby, as usual, and headed out to her car. I was about to get in when disaster struck. I don’t know if pregnancy is making me more clumsy (they do say that happens, though I haven’t really noticed it anywhere else) or I was just having an off night, but something about the way the car door swung open knocked the salad bowl out of my hands and it promptly went flying, landing in the middle of the road where (of course) it shattered. Bowl and salad were both a complete loss. Once we stopped laughing, or at least once we were able to talk again (the laughter hadn’t completely stopped), Diane and I weren’t really sure what to do. We couldn’t just leave all that broken glass in the middle of the road with kids running around and cars driving. We decided to try and gather as much of the glass as we could, which led to an exciting 10 minutes of crouching on the ground, searching for shards. [We did leave the salad. I’m guessing a lucky dog or cat went at it because by the time we got back a few hours later it was completely gone.] I was pretty bummed about the salad. I had tried not to eat it while I was chopping since I knew it would likely be one of the only things I’d be eating for dinner. Talk about an epic fail.  At least I had a good story to tell when we finally arrived at our meeting, 20 minutes late and with only a plate of bread between us.