September 11, 2012

Burnt Quinoa and A Stamp

It is Elul, a month of introspection and change. We search inside and see where improvements can be made. So I decided to dig deep and change myself from the inside out.


I went on a cleanse, in hopes that a shiny, updated inner me would develop into a more organized, energized, lucid, calm and focused outer me. I first tossed out everything with gluten, then all the sugar. Out went all dairy products and everything that came in a package. My fridge looked like it did the day the delivery man wheeled it in on a dolly.

"Hmm," my mother said to me over the phone. "What is there left to eat?" Well, I must admit, my shelves were bare. My kids went into shock and mournfully opened and closed the pantry doors, hoping a bag of potato chips or a Snickers bar would plop into their pleading hands.

I replenished the shelves with adzuki beans, lentils, amaranth and quinoa. I hoarded sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans and almonds. I baited my sweet tooth with dates and apricots and figs. To my surprise, I was not hungry at all. But I had not really transformed.

Take, for instance, an incident at the post office.  I sent my daughter out to buy a 20 agurot stamp. I had just purchased a similar stamp and I needed another one. Simple, no?  So she goes to the post office, waits in line and is snarkily told that there is no such thing as a twenty agurot stamp and that she should come back when she knows what she is talking about. 

I was cooking for Shabbat, calmly stirring a pot of quinoa, when she came home. She told me what happened and I went beserk. I was incensed that someone would talk to my daughter like this, especially when my daughter was in the right.

Still holding my spoon, I grabbed my car keys and stomped out, wondering how I would give this woman a piece of my mind with a limited Hebrew vocabulary and no grammatical structure whatsoever. A wise person once said that it is best to get mad in your own language, so I could always resort to English. Luckily I remembered to bring ‘Exhibit A,’ the envelope with the famed twenty agurot stamp.

My daughter jumped in the car, pleading with me not to go into the post office. (I am an embarrassment to my children and they constantly beg me not to open my mouth.) "No," I said, waving my wooden spoon and spraying the car with half-cooked quinoa. "This is injustice."

She convinced me to let her go back in there while I waited in the car.  And out she came. Empty handed. 

Turns out another clerk had screamed at her, telling her she did not know what she was talking about-- and she had forgotten to brandish Exhibit A.  I was about to abandon my car and rush into the post office with Exhibit A, but they had just locked the doors tight. It was 12:30 pm and everyone had to rush home to get ready for Shabbat.  Shabbat? My quinoa!I had left it cooking on the stove.

I came home stampless, my daughter hapless and my meal quinoa less. At least I had amaranth in the pantry.

I know I have some work to do. Lots of work. Think I’ll take up meditation next.

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