lime bars & shabbat thoughts

Last night I made Gabrielle’s Lemon Squares from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Except I used lime instead of lemon, and bumped the juice up to 1/2 cup. But they still aren’t very lime-y — more generic citrus. Which I guess might have to do with the limes I used (plucked quickly from the not-so-fancy Safeway off 13, while so ravenously hungry I though I might actually collapse into a fountain of tears. Catastrophe-Hungry). I liked the crust, though — this morning when I ate two for breakfast (yes, I know, they aren’t really breakfast food), the crust had crisped nicely in the fridge.

It occurred to me that they would be good with basil. So I’ll add that to the “To Try” list.

But I’m also trying to figure out if they didn’t taste quite right because what I actually wanted was key lime pie. In which case, better limes would not solve the problem.

It’s been a week of a lot of second-guessing and feeling a little helpless in the face of Things That Must Be Done. I have been trying to practice self-forgiveness, but it’s hard to do when so much of the Not Quite Doing My Best (grading, walks and training) affects others so directly (students, Rilke). Grades are also due next week, which adds a kind of high pitched whine to the background of everything.


It is also Shabbat today, and I think Shabbat is the real answer to all of the helplessness and second-guessing. Shabbat, or the Sabbath, runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday each weekend. Shabbat demands we acknowledge that we are more than our labor, more than the goals we meet or the things we do. The Torah commands that we both “remember” and “keep holy” the Sabbath by engaging in services on Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Saturday evening, as well as abstaining from labor — labor including, for Orthodox or Conservative Jews, lifting anything from the public to the private realms (or visa versa), handling money, or traveling.

Heschel names it as a “realm of time” rather than a realm of “things [which] when magnified are forgeries of happiness.” Instead, Shabbat offers us joy, holiness, and rest. Personally, it feels almost rebellious to take a day of rest — although to be fair, the days of rest I’ve taken have not fully adhered to the rules — I have read and done writing for fun (rather than school), taken my dog on long walks, and cooked. And Heschel is right — it creates a separate realm, a space I find it sometimes hard to leave. I want to learn how to perform the Havdalah, because I think closing Shabbat is probably necessary — a reading I did described the way the Chassids sit at their Seudah Shilshit late into the evening on Saturday, unwilling to let the bride-queen of Shabbat go. I understand that feeling. I have often found on Saturday evenings it is hard to return to the regular world; I feel resentful and out of place.

So this Saturday I will carve time for some silence, some time away from labor (and all the things that feel like labor).

i guess blog post titles are like mixtape titles and it’s ok if mine are longer than might be seemly

I am sitting at my desk on a Monday afternoon — for once not completely exhausted, even though the piles of grading are growing dangerously high.

And I think the reason I’m not exhausted, not so caught up in my own head that all I want to do is just lay down, has to do with the following things:

  1. There are only 8 weeks of school left!
  2. I just started listening to Alan Morinis’s Everyday Holiness on audiobook and it’s making me think, making me feel inspired, and in touch with my self-that-is-not-a-teacher
  3. R & I had a lovely, cozy Sunday that included reading in bed, roasted broccoli, and lots of coffee. I’m coming into the week emotionally full.
  4. Speaking of reading — I’m about half way through Americanah (I’m late to the party, I know). While I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts when I’m finished, for now I am just luxuriating in it. I like stories told slowly — an unhurried unfolding of lives over great emotional, temporal, and geographic distances.
  5. There are exciting writing projects on the horizon, including this blog!
  6. My Instagram updated and now I get the faux-iPhone X Portrait Mode options, so I can take happy selfies like this!



So here is this blog’s manifesto-in-progress:

  • I believe in creation and not just reaction.
  • I believe in the power of reflection and its necessity to any kind of meaningful growth.
  • I believe reflection and creation happen through intentionality; they will not suddenly appear overnight if I do not work for them.
  • I believe I am happiest, am my best self, when all my selves are balanced (not only Teacher Portia, but Poet Portia, Runner Portia, Friend Portia, Jewish Portia, Daughter Portia, Baker Portia, etc). I believe that this balance must be monitored, maintained, and adjusted in response to the world around me and my changing needs.
  • I believe that community makes all of this easier.

So here’s to semi-regular posting of recipes, musings about God, reflections about writing and literature, and check-ins about the pulse of life here in the East Bay.