Sunday, December 16, 2012

Peanut M&Ms?

I have a friend who has a stutter.  He manages it well, and I didn't know he had it until he told me.  He says it's situational: it only comes out when he's nervous.

That's what made it a surprise for me -- I've seen him meet strangers and immediately start bantering with them.  I can find meeting strangers to be anxiety-provoking.  He says he's good at schmoozing.

Looking at him as someone who generally seems very open and confident, I marvel at how vulnerable he must feel.  It's not just a speech impediment that can be embarrassing when it kicks in -- it also reveals something about his psyche.  When he is nervous, he can't hide it because his speech betrays him.  What is that world like?

I have an exoskeleton.  I feel, and project, confidence and strength.  I am friendly.  Public speaking gets me high.  I can, in fact, protect myself with words.  I express my moods and my worries, but no matter how profoundly I am feeling them I often do so with words and a tone that seem to lighten the tone of my distress and make it less dramatic.  As a result, I am only partially revealing my emotional state and feel less vulnerable. Inside, I can be a chaotic mess, but I have control over to whom I expose that version of reality, and it's not to a lot of people.

My friend has no choice.  He can't choose his words when he is profoundly distressed because words leave him.  With his stuttering generally under control, its onset becomes a tell, a signal of a state of emotional chaos.  He has no choice but to reveal his vulnerability.  His chaos is on the outside.  How absolutely frightening.  He must have an endoskeleton, a kind of inner strength I can't comprehend.

A candy analogy would be better.  With this one, I end up being a bug.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mine's bigger

An observation:

Stanley Cup (hockey)
America's Cup (sailing)
Sprint Cup (NASCAR)
Ryder Cup (golf)
World Cup (futbol)(and a lot of other things)

Rose Bowl
Pro Bowl
Super Bowl.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Growing things

About ten days ago, I took a workshop on how to make challah.  Ever since, I have been trying to make one successfully.

When I was in kindergarten, my little sister went to a Jewish nursery school, and every Friday they made challah.  She would come home with a hard twist of carbs, and, even though my parents laughed at it as not real challah, I thought it tasted good.

I have been living my sister's legacy this past week.

I get everything about the form right.  I braid a gorgeous round challah.  I roll the raisins inside so they don't burn.  I use a glaze of egg, cinnamon, and sugar. If it could be a sculpture, it would be perfect.

My realization yesterday (I am on my fifth and sixth loaves) is that I need to not think that I am making bread but that I am raising yeast.  Like my plants, which I examine carefully, making sure they are getting the right combination of light and, well, no water, I have to think of this as an exercise in growing something.

To grow, yeast apparently requires:

  • Proofing.  I wince as I say that.  What a weird use of that word, but apparently it is something people say.  My recipe didn't have instructions about it, but yesterday I combined yeast, sugar, and water warmed with meat-thermometer accuracy and watched the slurry bubble.
  • No drafts.  There is also something about covering it with plastic wrap.  My immediate thought is that there was no plastic wrap in the shtetl, followed by a thought that if you cover it tightly the yeast will ferment anaerobically, and that can't be good.  Apparently in the shtetl they used a damp cloth ... its purpose, as I'm trying to respect this time around, is to reduce drafts.  Drafts?
  • Patience.  My recipe says to let it rise for an hour or so.  So I set the chicken(-shaped) timer for an hour and take a break.  It's supposed to double in size ... I look at it and think, well, maybe I forgot how small it was beforehand.
  • Warmth.  Everyone I've talked to about my challenges tells me that their grandmothers put the dough in the oven with the oven light on, that that is the perfect temperature for rising.  
Last night: I proofed the yeast, put the dough in a cooling oven, put the light on, was patient, and left it there all night (which apparently also happened in the shtetl, although somehow I think perhaps they didn't have oven lights).

I woke up this morning and finally understood what rising means!  This is an entirely different dough than what I've experienced so far.  I've now grown some great yeast.

However, and perhaps this is the deeper source of my problem and my impatience, the part I really care about is not the growing, not even the eating, but the kneading.

The only time I ever saw a family member knead was when I was very, very little, and I watched my grandmother make kreplach.  When I had my first wonton, it sent me right back to my grandmother's kreplach.  Interestingly, my family laughed at my grandmother's kreplach, too, so that's probably why I only had it that once.

I love kneading.  Delightfully, challah involves two risings and therefore two kneadings.  When I started this process of learning how to make challah, kneading for just a few minutes was hard.  Now I can easily go 10 minutes (and I'm not supposed to go longer, sadly), standing on solid shoes; sometimes literally pounding the dough with my fists after the second rise, breathing rhythmically, kneading with my palms and my fingers.  Turn, fold, breathe, punch.  It's meditative.

The two that rose

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why I look for non-toxic plants

Sophie tells the new Sanseveria trifasciata who is in charge in this house.

Geeking out on plants (2)

I must be really bored, because I've become obsessive about succulents.

I took the jade and the very sad looking Echeveria setosa to Cactus Jungle, nervous that they would tell me I'd totally screwed up or that I was totally crazy.  As I walked by the whippet (their mascot), who was curled up under a blanket, he looked up at me dolefully.  (Then again, I think that's the only look a whippet has.)

The invited me to the counter and took my concerns seriously, in a "I'm not going to let on that I think you're totally crazy" kind of way.  The black spots on the jade may be a fungus, but it won't kill it, and they think it will in fact be totally fine.  He kept emphasizing that the black tends to be on the leaves that are about to fall off.  He repeated that in such a way that I think he was patiently trying to help me understand that when plants grow their older leaves fall off.  I showed him the chewed-on Echeveria, and he said it would recover and that the darker leaves I pointed out ... well, see, leaves die and fall off, and other leaves replace them.

With two healthy plants, I took a stroll around.  And came out with ... four more.  Two more Aeonia: lindleyi, which looks like a bonsai tree, and "Whippet," a strain they found growing on another Aeonium and named for their mascot.  I grabbed a Peperomia ferreyrae, another tiny plant for my work windowsill, which is a relative of the peppercorn and is totally adorable.

I have soil anxiety, so for every plant I buy, I ask how long it can go in that particular pot.  The very nice woman who helped me last time pointed to a plant I was considering and said, "That one will need potting soon."  "Soon?" I asked fearfully.  She said yes, like in a year.

I picked my jaw up off the floor (I guess plant-time is different from human time) and laughed as I explained that I've never kept a plant alive as long as a year.

And, finally, I bought a Sanseveria.  A classic snake plant, S. trifasciata.  I asked the same woman as last time about them, and I told her I wanted one with variegated leaves that would get tall.  I pulled out a S. trifasciata that had a variegated leaf I liked, and I said, "Like this."  She looked at it and said, "Well, those other leaves are just sort of floppy."  "Not a beautiful specimen!" I interpreted.  I picked another one, also with a leaf I liked, and she perked up, "That's a nice one!"  The other leaves looked bad just because they were covered in dust, she said.

When I got home, I gently washed the leaves of the Sansa, and they came out gorgeous.  Yes, I washed the leaves of a plant.  Who am I, and what have I done with Lisa?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Geeking out on plants

When we last left our hero, she had decided to go to a nursery to buy a snake plant.

The nursery I found online, and then ran out the door to get to in time, is Cactus Jungle.  How perfect!  I spent a long time there examining the gazillion plants they have that they claim I couldn't kill.  Some really pretty things.

And now I am a plant geek.  Well, just succulents.  I bought a gorgeous jade plant, which at $40 cost twice as much as the most expensive plant I've ever bought.  Then I started impulse buying, suddenly desiring more beautiful greenery in my life.

Echeveria setosa, Aeonium gomerense, and (in back) Crassula ovata.
They are even happier today than they are in this picture.

It wasn't just a shopping spree.  This place takes plants so seriously that they call the plants by their Latin names, so now I get to learn and recite these beautiful words.  I know it's a jade plant, and that's its nickname.  It's actually a Crassula ovata.  For outside my door, I bought a small Echeveria setosa and an Aeonium gomerense. (Note that Aeonium has all the vowels, awesome.)

As I picked out which Echeveria and Crassula I wanted, I asked the woman working there, "Is this a good one?" and she would say, "That's a beautiful specimen."  So not only do I have great plants, I have beautiful specimens.

Realizing I could use an office plant, I ran back in at the last minute and said, "I need a plant that can sit on a cold office windowsill that gets very indirect sunlight."  She handed me a teeny tiny pot with one of the weirdest plants I've ever seen, a string of pearls plant (another "beautiful specimen).  I actually don't know the Latin name.  It looks like the inside of a peapod, a string of peas, but it's very hardy.  You can't pull the peas/pearls off.  Like the other plants I bought, it doesn't need any attention.

Ironically, now that I've bought plants that need no attention, the geeking out comes, not only with my rolling their names around in my mouth, but with my daily checking and inspection of them to make sure they are happy.  I carefully monitor and remove dead leaves and celebrate the arrival of new ones.  I didn't want the Echeveria and Aeonium to be too cold, so I brought them in to bake in the warmth of my western window.  Yesterday, I discovered some bites taken out of the Echeveria, which luckily is not poisonous to cats, so now that poor plant is exiled to outside again until it heals.

Today I noticed that the Crassula ovata has some black spots under the leaves.  The old me would (1) not have noticed, and, if I did, (2) ignored it until the plant died.  The new succulent geek-me googled this and found that my plant may have a virus.  Since Cactus Jungle says I can bring in plants that may be ill for a consultation, that's my plan for tomorrow.

I will likely leave there with another plant, and a new Latin name, to add to my menagerie.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

There are still dragons

My friend, A., is a Targaryen.

Tonight, she and I were part of a challah baking class.  We pounded the dough, broke it into three pieces, made them into strands, and braided them.  A. had a little tiny bit of dough left over, so she made a ball and put it in the middle of the baking tray.  "That's the challah!" someone said.

During Temple times (2000 years ago), the Jews were required to break off a piece of bread and give it to the temple priests (whose meals were gleaned from the various sacrifices, since they had no resources of their own).  Apparently, after the destruction of the Temple the tradition became to tear off a piece of dough and burn it in the oven in memory of the gift to the priests.  This is still a practice for some people.  "Challah" means portion, so technically it describes that piece, not the whole loaf.

When the challah loaves came out of the oven, A. reached over to the tray and picked up the little ball.  She tore it off a piece to taste and then handed the ball to me.

I tried to tear off a piece, but the ball was just too hot for me to hold.  As she took it back from me, she joked about having asbestos hands.  "I take things out of the oven with my bare hands," she said.

She'd only seen a few episodes of Game of Thrones, so she wasn't aware of Daenarys Targaryen's imperviousness to heat and fire.  I explained that fire cannot hurt the dragon, and she said, "Oh, then I'm totally a dragon."

A. has pale blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin so fair you can practically see through it.  Apparently, there are still dragons.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I tried, really I did.

A while back I brought my first plant into my home.  A kentia palm.  When that died, about a year ago, I went back to OSH and bought another palm, this time a majesty palm.  That has died as well.

The first died from underwatering; the second got mold from overwatering (I was told to drench the soil, not dump the occasional leftover glass of water in it), so I stopped watering it to kill the mold.

This time, before returning it to OSH, I did some research on "plants you can't kill."  What did we do before google?  I immediately found the magic list.  I was in particular looking for something that I didn't have to water at all, since I'm really good at that.

I cross-referenced that list with the list of plants that are poisonous to cats (which crosses off philodendron pretty quickly, but that's OK because they are vines and need to be put somewhere other than the floor) and came up with Snake Plant and its, well, relation, Mother-in-Law's Tongue. Both of these ominous-sounding plants are from the genus Sanseviera, which makes me wonder if Sansa Stark is a namesake.

They are considered air purifiers and are even used for treating sick building syndrome.  Kind of like turkey vultures: ominously-named creatures that have a peaceful purpose.

[That turkey vulture link goes to another post of mine from a year ago that I only just discovered I'd never published.  A lost manuscript.  I backdated it, so it looks like I published it a while ago, but anyone investigating its provenance would see is that it's dated exactly a year ago from this moment.]

Snake plants are on the poisonous-to-cats list, but further googling shows people with cats saying (1) they are only mildly toxic, and (2) no one has ever seen a cat try to eat one.  One person reported that her cat destroyed her snake plant, but the cat was not harmed.

Off to OSH.  The woman in customer service looked at my plant and told me all the reasons it died.  Whhnnnahh wnah whnnaaaahh.  (That's the Charlie Brown "adults talking" sound.)  When I mentioned snake plant, looking for approval, she suggested I get a philodendron.  Then I told her I was thinking cactus or maybe something plastic.

I went looking for snake plants and found three puny ones.  I found other plants that you can't kill: lots of dracaenae, but they were more poisonous; bromeliads, but they would have given me nightmares (the online photos don't do the creepiness justice). Also, the "plants you can't kill" site says they require copious water.

I may need to buy a snake plant from a place that really sells plants.  Right, a nursery.  Well, it had better not die.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's just a different kind of rugged

I have The Dirtiest Car in the World.

Around here, when you see cars covered in dirt, they are usually SUVs, and you can tell that they are dirty because they've been to the mountains.

I have a little white Mazda.  My car is dirty because it's been to the airport.

When I got a white car, my friends with black cars said, "Oh you're so lucky it doesn't show dirt."  Little did we realize that it's like Harry the Dirty Dog.  Black with white spots or white with black spots?

When I travel, I park near the airport, and my car gets covered in dirt and grit (warning: don't breathe near airports!).  I've been to the airport several times this summer.  In between, a few days go by as I settle back in, and then I forget the car is dirty, and then I realize I'm leaving for another trip soon, so why bother getting it washed?

The dirt does not look like mountain dirt; it does not look like it was kicked up by dirt roads.  It looks like airplane exhaust fell on it.

I'm leaving again for another trip soon, so why wash it now?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Julia Child's 100th birthday

Also known as: There is nothing as special as giving

Tonight I gave a friend of mine a little book.  She grew up with Julia Child as a family friend and has fond memories of being at her house.  She also loves cats.  The book is called "Julia's Cats."  When I saw it, I knew it was for her.

There was no special occasion, and I was impatient to give it to her, so when I discovered today was was Julia Child's 100th birthday and found myself giving my friend a ride home, I took advantage of the moment.  I grabbed it from my back seat and handed it to her.  Nothing ceremonious. I had kind of wished I'd made it a more special moment, but instead it was kind of spontaneous.  

It was still a special moment.  She caressed the picture of Julia on the back of the book, a picture that looked like how she remembered her.  From a time when both of my friend's parents were still alive, a long time ago. 

It didn't matter that I didn't wrap it or present it in a formal way or at a significant occasion.  She was moved, deeply touched, and it was heartwarming for me to give her that kind of gift. 

As she got out of the car, she thanked me again, and we wished each other "Happy Julia Child's birthday."  Something new to celebrate together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saved by the zombies

Of course I sleep with my iPhone next to me. Who doesn't?

This morning I planned to sleep late and go into work late.  As I awoke a little before 8, I reached for my iPhone ... and there was a message from the dean from 7:42 AM.  Urgent: He was going before the Regents at 9:30, and did I have some data for him.

I did not have the data.  Not in my bed, not on my iPhone ... and not in my office.  It didn't really exist.

This was my first dean-related fire drill since I took this job in September.  My credibility was on the line.

I did what I normally do when faced with something that looks limiting: I reframed it.  On my iPhone, in my bed, I wrote the dean a note that explained that what the Regents were asking him about was limiting, too small, and that he should answer it giving the following (qualitative) information, which was much more sophisticated than what the original question asked for.

I then threw my clothes on and ran out of the house to try to get to work in time to dig up the nonexistent data, calling a member of my team so she could get started on it.  Some colleagues also chimed in with some data.  I had pretty much nothing, but at 9:30, I took a break, knowing I'd done all I could do.

Then I started following the Regents meeting on Twitter ... and found that at about 9:30 students dressed as zombies did the Thriller dance in order to protest fee hikes.  All the usual clean-up ensued, delaying the session.

In fact, the dean didn't go on until about 3:30.  I was confused to see that the discussion was about diversity, which, while important, was not on the agenda and not what he had asked me about.  Actually, the Regents started by asking him one question about diversity, and then they argued among themselves.  Twitter then showed that the item the dean was there for was voted on and over, and they moved on.

When I ran into the dean later at work, he showed me the briefing that the Regents had had, the briefing that he saw this morning when he emailed me.  His piece was breakthrough, both for the university and for all schools like ours -- and the agenda had highlighted it as a potential problem, essentially putting a bullseye on his back.  He was ready to be mauled.  He needed my data as a shield.

Instead, the zombies delayed things so much that, after taking the time to air their criticism of the university's diversity, the Regents approved the dean's request without discussion.  And there was much rejoicing on our parts.

And the dean thought my reframing was brilliant and wants to incorporate it into school strategy.  It might not have been the shield he would have needed, but I passed my first dean's fire drill.

I am quite grateful that we were all saved by the zombies.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

And in the shadows there was a cow.

I spent a lovely afternoon with my cousins, hanging around the pool, floating and socializing in multigenerational combinations, drinking gin and tonics (I don't drink gin, so I had a bourbon and ginger), reading, and soaking up the sun and each other's company.

And in the shadows there was a cow.

As I was leaving my house to head over there, I grabbed a bottle of wine to bring with me.  Since I hadn't had lunch, I grabbed some cheese and crackers.

This part of my family has had an infestation of veganism.  I believe it started with my cousin, Ruby, who is a published author of children's books on veganism.  With the various health issues of the older cousins, they seem to have become convinced that eating vegan would help them live longer.

I knew that bringing cheese into the house was treasonous.  (Let's not even go into the issue of rennet!) At the same time, I was hungry.  And I had a feeling that a couple of people there might secretly not be vegan and/or just be dying for something more substantial than salad and grains and nuts.  When I arrived, I proactively apologized profusely and reassured the group that I would not be leaving cheese in the house but would take "any leftovers" (i.e., all of it) with me.

My cousin, Daniel, was enormously grateful.  He actually took some of it to hide and eat later.  My cousin-in-law, Jeff, was not there: he is an opportunitarian, meaning he will eat what is provided.  I know he would have secretly taken the opportunity.  These vegans are harsh.

Daniel and I agreed that my bringing cheese to the house was as if I'd brought a freshly-slaughtered pig.    We were the real rebels today.

P.S.: As I began to select labels for this post from my label list, I am delighted to find that I already have a label for "cheese."

P.P.S.: The cheeses I brought were both indeed cow's milk cheeses.  Because I wouldn't have titled this post this way if it had been sheep cheese.  (See also below: the creature that makes all the noise when you visit this page.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Put me in an ad.

A colleague told me that I was a perfect advertisement for the iPhone 4S. While sitting next to him at the Twins vs. Cubs at Target Field in Minneapolis, I:

Checked in at Target Field on Facebook. Checked the weather so I could report that it was 88 degrees.  Took a photo of the field and uploaded it, too. 
Texted the photo of the field to my brother. 
Used google to find out that the white 1965 flag represented when the Twins won the AL but lost to the Dodgers in the World Series. 
Looked up th capacity of Target Field (39,504) and the new Yankee Stadium (50,291)
Received a call from my dad, who called to tell me he'd run into the younger brother of my high school boyfriend. 
Emailed several times. 
Looked up the most common male names in the U.S. (James)
Updated one of my contacts. 
Found out that the Twins are last in the AL central, 8.5 games back (before they won the game today)
Texted with a friend about the morning's bar mitzvah. 
Took pictures of my group (using the reverse camera) and posted them on Facebook. 
Received a call from my cousin regarding dinner plans. 
Used Shazam to identify the song being played. 
Said "ice cream" to Siri so she could tell me where I could find nearby places to get some. 
Used the mapping feature to get directions back to the hotel. 

Yeah, it was a dull game.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend wear

Today, for the first time in a long time, when I got dressed in the morning I put on something other than jeans.

Being what's known as a curvy girl (although apparently in online datingland that is a euphemism for overweight, so I can't call myself that in a profile), jeans and I don't get along well.  Companies have been trying for years to make jeans that satisfy my kind.  Levi's is the most recent to try to tackle this. Well, they tried a year ago.  Has anyone seen any news of it since? These efforts always fail.  

They're also not that comfortable.  Heavy, rough cotton?  I never, ever travel in jeans -- who wants to sit on an airplane for hours with those heavy seams pressing on you?

What am I to do on weekends, when I refuse to wear pants I'd have to dry clean?  Skirts and dresses end up being too dressy (unless it's really warm and liberated legs are appropriate).  And are not necessarily appropriate to wear when you want to put your feet up.  Khakis are just jeans of a different color.

I've been sick in bed all week, so when I haven't been casual and wearing jeans I'm wearing ... let's call it loungewear. While it's far more comfortable than denim, it's not particularly esteem-building.

But, today, partially in the spirit of hiddur mitzvah, beautifying the mitzvah, I put on nice pants because it's Shabbat.  And, because of these nice pants, which are fairly long and which I would trip over in flat shoes, for the first time in over week I put on shoes with higher heels.

And suddenly ... I felt better.  Healthier.  I felt like myself.

A while ago, I dated a guy who was a lot larger than me.  This was unusual because I tend to be drawn to the shorter types, guys I can see eye-to-eye with.

So he was unusual.  He was an Other.  And, since he was an Other, I was the other Other.  And in that affirming Otherness (oh, go read Hegel already) I suddenly found myself wanting to wear particularly feminine clothes, especially high heels.

I don't normally wear much of a heel because I have been inclined to wear comfortable shoes. I love to walk, either quickly or for long distances or both, which you can't do in heels. During the period when I was playing hockey, every Monday I needed to be nice to my sore body, so that was another day I didn't wear heels.  And my knees were always hurting, and heels made it worse. So there was no reason to own them.

Now, of course, we have the trend of platform heels.  I love it.  The illusion of high heels without having to work as hard.

It was liberating to try out this new side of myself.  Zappos, as always, was my best friend.  A better friend than the guy, of course, but I kept the red patent leather platform heels.  With them, I discovered that required hip-swinging motion that is apparently so alluring in women who wear heels.  It's a requirement because you have to use your whole body to generate momentum because the soles of your feet are not on the ground.  I also learned how not to fall down the stairs -- again, a hip-swinging motion in order to ensure the heel clears the step you're stepping off of.  Kind of like a flutter kick in swimming.

I still haven't worn them outside.  Really, who am I kidding: I have bought their value in Dr. Scholl's gel inserts and still can't walk more than a few feet on hard surfaces with them.

Since then, partly do to the exigencies of pants length, I've purchased more reasonable heels, heels I can walk in, heels that don't require me to think about walking.

I know heels for women have been compared to Chinese foot-binding.  Both create a triangular foot shape; both reduce the length of a footstep and cause our steps to be mincing, thus increasing our vulnerability.

But in that moment this morning, of putting on clothes that were more comfortable and draped better than weekend jeans, of putting on heels and standing tall, I definitely felt more like myself. Call me regressive, but I do like to stand tall when I can also walk well.  My legs are pretty long; my stride is not terribly shortened.

Perhaps I'll just start wearing heels with jeans.

Monday update: I put the red patent leather platform heels on with my jeans.  It's the worse of both worlds: uncomfortable and immobilizing.  The height is fabulous: I'm four inches taller, and I love the perspective.  But they represent exactly why I used to not wear heels: with my mincing steps I don't feel like myself; I don't feel pretty or grounded or mobile.  These may end up being my indoor shoes, dress-up play shoes, like house slippers only sexier.  Good for getting things off high shelves.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

No raspberries in the Torah

Last week, during the rehearsal for our adult b'nai mitzvah next week, I had a panic attack while reading the Torah.  I didn't realize it until the next day, when I said to someone, "When I was reading the Torah, I got all flushed and sweaty and couldn't breathe or think."  I had thought it was some sort of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" God moment.

I had had the same experience last time I faced the Torah for the first time to chant a passage, last summer.  I figured that this was a repeat, that something like a divine wind, a ruach, would rise from the Torah and strike me every time I approached it for a new reading.  After the initial experience, the Torah turns back into a fairly normal awesome bit of parchment and ink, but those first experiences are spectacular floods of energy and adrenaline.

I'm kind of bummed that it's just a panic attack, since Raiders is one of my favorite movies.

This week, I had a different experience.  I'd gone back and practiced with the Torah twice during the week, I'd been rehearsed by an expert friend of mine, and I was ready.

My portion is Va'era, specifically Exodus 7:19-25.  There I was, chanting along, feeling really confident and relaxed.  And then I got to the hardest word in the portion.  You can see it here in typeface Hebrew, fully vowelled and cantillated.

Va-YAY-ha-fe-koo.  Five syllables.  Most Hebrew words are three or fewer, so this throws me off.  I don't know Hebrew, so every syllable is unfamiliar.  Looking it up, it means "and they were changed."  It's approximately the middle word of my portion.  It has a standalone trope, tvir.  In the actual Torah I'm reading from, in calligraphy and with no vowels, it looks like this:

Easily confused with other words, right?
Last week, the rabbi spent some time with me after my panic attack, helping me with the places I was most stuck.  This word.   He told me to really rock the second syllable, YAY, to celebrate that I am embracing this challenging word. 

This week, in my confidence I cruised right over the word.  My mind told me it was a different word, and I chanted something else (still in tvir, however!).  Because every word must be pronounced correctly, the rabbi, reading along with me, quietly corrected me. 

And out came the raspberries. That word!

We were practicing with the sound system, so the incredibly obnoxious noise I made echoed throughout the sanctuary. 

The rabbi turned to the three other b'nai mitzvah and said, "Now, we know that that is exactly what we are not supposed to do during the service when I correct you, right?"

I cruised through the rest of my portion, no issues, giggling all the way.  No panic attack.  I think I will be OK next week.