I. I’m always amazed at all the things people don’t know. I don’t mean trivia so much – I can understand not knowing bits of history or song lyrics or whatever because you’re just not interested. And I’m always amazed at how much people know (especially kids) about the things they are interested in. On the other hand, it’s surprising how much people don’t remember about their own lives – do many people not really remember what it was like to be 6 or 9 or 14? And if so, maybe that explains why I never outgrew reading kids and YA books, and many do. (I’m not referring to people who had traumatic childhoods and have good reason for forgetting the details.) But I know I’m not the only one who remembers, or there wouldn’t be adult authors of kids’ and YA books at all.

II. I’m always surprised at seeing just how much things have changed socially in my lifetime – I was expecting to see lots of technological change over the course of my life, but I think I just thought that the major battles for things like feminism and civil rights were over and we’d just see sort of a continuous progress toward wider and wider acceptance. I wasn’t expecting many of the new battlefronts we’ve seen and I wasn’t expecting the change in the …. I don’t know, general feeling of communities spawned by the intersections of technological and social change. Heinlein wrote something to the effect that the difference between youth and age is that older people know in their bones that change happens, but I was born into such a time of ferment that I always knew it, just didn’t expect what kinds of change, or in what corners of my life.

What spawned this was that I just happened to come across the latest newsletter from my mom’s synagogue online, while looking for something else. his is so different from anything I ever saw in a synagogue newsletter growing up – they included a sample page in there from 1960, and I don’t think it would have looked much different in 1980, the year I became Bat Mitzvah, or in 1988 when I graduated college and moved away (it’s not the same exact synagogue we belonged to, but is a larger one they merged into – I think they would have been much the same as the one I attended in the 1980s). I’m very glad my mom has a community like this. It’s avowedly feminist and progressive, discussing everything from why a female congregation member began wearing a kippah and tallit to ritual and meaning, to an open letter from the rabbi to her daughter, prompted by watching Hillary and Bernie at the DNC and realizing what that means in terms of the examples available to her as a Jewish girl.

I’m sure there were Jewish communities doing this kind of thing in the 1970s or 1980s, in downtown Boston or Philadelphia – but I don’t think it would have been as likely out in the ‘burbs where these people are, or in the Conservative tradition at all.

III. On the other hand, I sometimes wish things would happen a little faster in the short term! I’m in a doldrums period now, between the excitement of our Galapagos trip, and the wait for September, when a ton of small but exciting things are happening – mostly books coming out that I’ve been waiting for, but also (hopefully) the new Apple Watch. There were a few features missing in the original one that convinced me to wait for the second version, but in the meantime I’ve used various fitness trackers that all have one lack or another – like not having an actual watch function! So while this is just a ‘thing’ rather than an experience, it’s been a long time coming from my point of view.