Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Determining my Denomination

Funny story, with a lesson. It's long, well, not very, but long enough that I have no patience writing it all down at once, so I will divide it up into two parts. Story today, lesson next time.

Two weeks ago, at the RCCS auction in Williamsburg, my aunt's niece (no, not my cousin- her niece from the other side...) was sitting with her friends towards the back of the audience.

She and her friends are high school girls who read my book and liked it (I would say loved it but that would make me sound big headed...) and were discussing it as they were waiting for my segment of the evening to come up.

Then the lights dimmed and the huge screens lit up with the slideshow. People got quiet in order to watch and listen and so this aunt's niece was able to clearly hear two ladies talking behind her.

They were discussing who Tzipi Caton was and where she was from and who raised her and who cut her sheitels and did her dry cleaning. I may be mixing things up, but you get the gist.

One lady decided that despite certain words I pronounce with a Chassidish havarah; I was definitely not "one of theirs". The other one, despite the picture of myself and my bearded, Chassidish husband at our engagement, decided that I must be from out of town, maybe from the country of Flatbush. Then the first one agreed, saying that despite my light skin and freckles, with my dark sheitel, I must be Sephardic. The second one was quick to nod and remind her that despite it being a known pen-name, the name Caton was a dead giveaway to my Morrocan/ Yemenite/ Marrano/ Mexican/ and not to forget, Chinese heritage.

My aunt's niece, by then laughing hard enough to cause those two ladies to "shush" at her because she was disrupting their disruption of the slideshow, turned around to tell them that I was a from a moderate Chassidish home, was born, raised, live, and will probably be buried within the same two block radius in Brooklyn, was from the most Polish of backgrounds possible and that my real name was common and normal enough to rival whatever theirs may have been.

The ladies looked at her funny and she told them, "Listen, I know her, we share an aunt."

And one lady, (I think it was lady number two) blinked slowly and asked her if that was my Sephardi aunt or if she was from the Chassidish side of the family....

So that's the story. Personally, I find it funny, but my mother had a good lesson to go with it. You know I am never one to pass up a good opportunity to stand on my virtual soapbox, so I will be back with the rest soon enough!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Just got an email from LadyD at RCCS who said that they are now selling copies of my slideshow (well, not mine, cos I didn't make it, but mine cos it's of me and my scrapbook) for $12 apiece.

It's worth it I think because the money is going to a worthy cause and because it's of ME! And it's so much better than an autograph... I mean, what's my handwriting compared to my face and voice and pictures of me in hospital gowns?

AND...They are also putting together a DVD of the slideshow PLUS my speech, PLUS Reb. Miriam Swerlov's speech PLUS Reb. Lubin's speech. That one will be sold for $18, and I'll make sure to post when it is available.

If anyone is interested in a copy, call the RCCS office at 718-722-2002.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Appreciating Miracles

When do Miracles begin?

I mean, at what point during a Miracle does it happen that we all wake up and realize that it's going on right in front of our eyes?

Chanukah is a time most of us ask these kinds of questions. We can so easily see all the nissim that took place in the Chanukah story but that's because we're looking back at it, years and years later.

When did people start exclaiming, "It's a miracle!!!"? When they found the oil? When it burned for 8 days? When they defeated the Greeks? When Yehudis brought back Eliporni's head? All of the above?

There were so many miracles of Chanukah, I have to wonder if each and every one was noticed and appreciated when it took place, or if it was only seen in hindsight.

Yesterday my miracle began with my son vomiting all over our car. We're talking serious stuff. Like his throw up landing on the windshield all the way from his car seat in the back.

His new coat, his pants, his car seat, his teddy bear, everything was covered.

We were on the way to an appointment and couldn't turn back so we had to strip my kid in the parking lot of random store and wrap him in a fuzzy blanket for the rest of the time. I had to sit in the back with him in my lap, praying that he didn't throw up again and that I wouldn't either.

For the rest of the day I was busy bathing him, washing his stinky stuff, feeding him, cuddling with him, and asking him how his tummy was doing.

Later at night he refused to go to sleep, he only wanted to sit with me and cuddle while I read a book. He was talking away, telling me the kind of warbled stories and thoughts that can only exist in the head of an almost two year old.

When he fell asleep I put him in his crib, covered him up to his chin, gave him a kiss and went on to do everything else that a Mommy has to do before she goes to sleep herself.

I walked into the dining room to close the shades now that the Menorah had finished burning, and realized that it was the third night of Chanukah- exactly five years to the day that I met my husband. Seems like ages ago that I met him in pajamas with a huge mask covering my face, but it wasn't, it was only five years ago.

Five years ago it seemed like I was at my worst- like things were never going to get better. Like I was never going to have hair again, never going to finish treatments, never going to get out of the dark.

But then, at a most unexpected time, my miracle began. I met my husband. None of us knew at the time where that meeting would being us five years later, but looking back, I can definitely say that was the start of my miracle.

Or maybe it wasn't.

Maybe it started when I got sick. Because if I hadn't then I never would have become close to my teacher and my father would never have met her and never considered setting her up with the man who later became my husband.

Or maybe it started when my husband caught a ride home from Shul one Motzai Shabbos with my mother years and years ago. My mother always drives over to pick my father up from Shul and gives rides to the men who are on the way home. Once, a million years ago, my husband got a ride with my parents and it was actually my mother, not my father who thought of my husband when she met my teacher.

Who knows when that miracle began. Maybe it began before we were born.

No, not maybe. I don't doubt it. Because looking back, it's obvious that it was all planned. And it must have been planned way in advance seeing how far back and how many conditions had to be met in order for us to meet and marry each other.

So yesterday, my miracle began when my son threw up. I don't really know what the miracle was or is or will turn out to be, but I decided that I might as well appreciate it.

After all, it led to a day full of cuddles and coziness and warmth and joy and a lot of appreciation for where I am five years to the day I met my husband. Every day is a miracle- even when it's not something definite, something we can pinpoint and put our fingers on, it's still part of a much larger plan that will bring us to bigger and better things.

I'm not sure when I'll be looking back at my life and recognize a Nes years after it took place. If I can somehow find a way to appreciate every part of every day, every second that might be the building block to a bigger, more special moment in time, why not start now?

So my miracle yesterday started with throw up... Hey, anythings' possible!

May we all be zoche to experience miracles and appreciate them for what they are.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two down and one to go!

First of all- a *wave* and a *smiley* for all of the blog readers I met last night. It was so much fun to meet some of the people who spend some time each morning when the boss isn't looking to read my updates.

LadyD- What time are you posting comments? Where do you get your energy? I can barely keep my head up.

And about what I wore- it was the same outfit that I wore on the film and I was nervous that people were going to notice and say something and guess what- the first thing I heard as soon as the film ended and the spotlight shone on me standing on stage, was some ladies in the front saying, "Oh look! She's wearing the same thing like on the slide! It looks like she stepped right out of it!"

So I guess it was not a problem. :-)

One more to go, Lakewood tonight! I guess I can't get away with wearing the same thing tonight again... gotta start obsessing. :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Tonight!

Well the RCCS party in Williamsburg is.

I am so excited and nervous to be there. But more excited I think. :-) You know I'm going to stress all day about what to wear so please compliment me on whatever I chose when you see me tonight. LOL

Seriously, RCCS just emailed me the slideshow production - they already showed it last night in Monsey but I didn't get to see it till about half an hour ago.

It's STUNNING. And not just because my makeup is good.

Actually, I look kind of nervous and I'm talking too fast and you can see how red my face is (It was a mix of my blushing and heat from the camera lights) but still, it's worth seeing.

I can't post it here , at least not now, but I am amazed at how well it was done and how good it looks and everything.

I know, I'm rambling, but really, Wow.

The slideshow was done by On Time productions, their website is They were so easy to work with when they filmed me for the interview and the job they did on the final product is awesome. Check them out!

I hope to see some of you there tonight- I don't speak until very late, I'm kind of at the end of the program- they're trying to entice people to stay as late as possible to hear me, but it would be nice even if you came and left before I got up to speak- you hear enough of what I have to say here anyway. :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society

I might have mentioned in an earlier post that I was booked for the Chinese Auction season this December. At the time I didn't want to give out particulars because it was not my party and I didn't feel it was right to spill everything before they even advertised.

But now it's out and if you didn't get the auction books already, I'll be speaking at the upcoming RCCS functions in Williamsburg's Rose Castle on Tuesday Dec 16, and then in Lakewood (not sure what hall) Wednesday, Dec 17.

It would be really nice to meet some of my blog readers so if you decide to come I'd love to meet you!

I'm really excited to be speaking about the book especially to benefit RCCS. They're such an amazing organization that helps so many people, myself included. They were the ones who pushed me to meet Dr. Harris whom I was treated by, and they had advice for us whenever we we needed it. They pay insurance and take care of all those small confusing details for people who are not able to do so themselves, and I think that anyone who is looking for a worthy cause to give to doesn't have to look any further.

I spoke for one of their functions last night and it was a beautiful event- so if hearing me speak is not enough to get you to come, let me bribe you with yummy food, beautiful setup and the greatest hosts/organizers an event can have. Oh! And the prizes are worth putting your tickets in for too!

Added a little later...commentor number 5 just gave another reason for all of you to be there... RCCS will IY"H be showing a stunning slideshow of my SCRAPBOOK!!! So all of you who read about it and wanted to see it- RCCS has it on film together with an interview we did so you get to hear me speak a little on the film while seeing some pages of the scrapbook my mother put together for me when I was undergoing treatment. RCCS put it together- it was their idea, and they included some pictures of me as a kid and of my son JB. I can't believe I forgot to mention that earlier!

Hope to see some of you there!

For more info, visit