Thursday, January 19, 2012

Or What?

So it's Friday night and I'm in a strange town and I'm looking for a dressy Meg activity.

I can dress like I just got off work and stop at the mall ~ that's always a possibility, but I don't really need to mingle with the teens who are hanging at the mall.

I could do dinner, but my plans were for a later dinner with Aeify (her blog is here) when she arrives.

So I checked the local synagogues.  I go to services occasionally, more often when my boys were younger than now; this year, I haven't been since October.

For those unfamiliar, there are three main branches of Judaism:

* Orthodox, where men and women sit separately and there are three services a day.  I wasn't sure where I'd sit so that's out.
* Conservative, which is more egalitarian but they usually focus on the Saturday morning service.  This is where I grew up.
* Reform, which I usually attend.  There's more of a Hebrew/English mix and the tunes would be more familiar to me.  Friday night is the big service of the week, with Saturday morning a close second.
* (and Reconstructionist, which is more fringe and I've never been)

So I looked for reform synagogues and found Or Chadash, which billed itself as "A warm and welcoming community where all can experience God."  I looked at their calendar and found a discrepancy so I sent an e-mail asking which time was right.  The woman who wrote back said I'd be "welcome at any service" and told me the main service starts at 6:30.

It was also the closest to my hotel, a plus for me.  Google maps said it was about 20 minutes away.  It looked pretty straightforward: turn right, turn left and that's the road it's on.

I got out of work a bit later than I wanted and people were still trying to get last minute advice.  My 2:00 leave turned into 2:25 and I headed for Tucson.

Andrea was off; there were a couple of guys behind the desk.  I checked in, carrying three bags: computer, suitcase, and a smaller bag with Meg stuff.  Not all of Meg's stuff, but the bag was crammed,

Earlier in the week I did a dry run.  I tried my makeup and decided I didn't like either mascara so I bought a new one.  I tried an eyeshadow that looked too dark so I switched to a lighter blue for my lids.  I tried each of the lipsticks and glosses and found a combination I liked (but didn't love).  I tried different jewelry combinations until I found the one I like best.  I wanted to video chat with a friend or two, but the wifi at this hotel is pathetic.  Regular web pages would time out.  I passed on that potential frustration.

So I had sorted everything I was going to wear and put the makeup and jewelry together with undergarments and such in that bulging bag.

I was at the hotel with plenty of time for a leisurely shower and thorough shave and to correct any mistakes I might make while doing my face.  I didn't do anything that needed repair, but I wasn't really thrilled with the final product.  Something didn't look quite right to my eyes.

I wanted to leave at 6.  Any earlier and I'd have too much time before the service started.  The time before Jewish services is a social time, and although meeting people is bothering me less, I didn't want to be the only person who knew no-one and I'd be staring at my hands.  I didn't want to be late, but if I had to sit in the car for a couple of minutes to be just about on time, that would be OK.  Since the ride was straightforward and google said 20 minutes, I figure a couple of minutes after six would be fine.

As I said, google said it was a straightforward trip.  My GPS had other ideas.

It said it was a 30 minute drive, not 20, said the GPS.  OK, I did leave at 6 and I'd be about on time, even if google was wrong.  No worries.

As I drove down Alvernon, the long street that the synagogue was on, my GPS decided I needed to turn, that Alvernon did not continue.  I dutifully (stupidly) turned.

It had me make a couple of more turns, then wanted me to go onto a street clearly labelled "No Outlet."  I declined, and turned in what I thought was the right direction to rejoin Alvernon.

When I finally caught up with it, I ignored the lady's voice and just kept driving.  The GPS started showing no road, only green fields and she was silent.

Eventually, I was back on what the device thought was a road.  It told me to turn and I did not ~ no fooling me again!  Alas, now I was on a different road: Alvernon made a right turn and continued.  I went back past the turn and back again before I did make that turn.  Alvernon fooled me once more with another left and I went past it, turned around and went back.

I considered taking this as a sign and giving up... that's the funny thing about signs.  I was very late, but was it a sign that I should go home, or maybe I was supposed to avoid a problem at the start of the service, or maybe it was a test to see how committed I was to going to services that night.  Or maybe no-one was paying attention and I just went on aimlessly.  Or everyone was paying attention and they had bets on how late I'd be.

By the way, driving an hour in high-heels isn't bad at all.  Getting up is, since it puts more strain on your calf muscles as you're pressing the pedals and your foot has to straighten more.  I had an uncomfortable few steps until my legs settled down.

Or Chadash is a campus of several connected or nearly connected buildings.  I parked at the closest spot to the entrance where I saw cars, which meant it was furthest from where I wanted to be.

It was dark, but not yet cold.  I didn't have a coat but I felt fine.  My heels seemed to make a LOT of noise on the sidewalk and I walked past the office which was well lit and occupied and I'm sure people inside were wondering why some woman (hey, I was far away and it was dark) was walking to the services a half-hour late.

Oh... typical Friday night services are 60-90 minutes with an "oneg" afterwards: wine, bread, other assorted fruits, cake, cookies, coffee.  So I missed somewhere between a third and a half of the service.  And I planned to skip the Oneg ~ Aeify would be waiting.

This is getting kind of long, so I'll finish this up tomorrow.


  1. Long posts are awesome! They take us on the journey with you...

  2. You are beaming in that photo, lovely!!


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