Tag Archives: cellarboy

The Cellar Boy Returns In Time for Rosh Hashanah

The title of this post is especially ridiculous because I’m not Jewish and I don’t celebrate any of the holidays or observe any of Judaism. The reason I bring it up is because I spent this evening at my dad’s friends’ house, where Rosh Hashanah happened to be going on – the Jewish new year. I find it funny how I just stumble into these things by chance and am happily accepted. Like the Chinese new year a little while ago at my friend’s house. Chinese? No. Part of the family? No. Guest? Yes!  Anyway, I’d heard of Hanukkah and Passover, but never of this one; I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going in, so I tried to look like I knew how to conduct myself. Luckily for me, the family aren’t exactly orthodox. Basically, I observed all the general rules of propriety, such as don’t double dip in the honey bowl and only take an apple slice when you’re signaled to do so, not before it’s served and while everyone’s still talking. I think I did fairly well. The family consists of Dr. Jen and her wife, who is a writer originally from South Africa, and is possibly the nicest person in the universe. Correction, they both are. They had an ensemble of interesting characters over for dinner, who I kind of delighted in listening to. I couldn’t do them justice here, but it was a bit like a scene from an indie comedy, if you can picture it better now. My dad and I, I realized as I sat there, are incredibly similar. We even sit the same way, with our arms resting on the table, and when either of us was addressed we’d look at the other for help. At one point, the man across from us (in his forties, with a shaved head and a long nose, a vest and tie) said, addressing my dad, “So what kind of music do you make?” (At this point it had been established that both my dad and I were musicians.) At his question, my dad looked at me. I said, after a moment, “Well, you make it, not me.” It went on like that pretty much all night.

The kids (there were four of them, including my little sister) were missing for pretty much all of dinner and dessert, playing outside and upstairs while the adults (and me – I’m an adult. Weird, isn’t it?) sat at the table and talked. Initially it was apparently thought that I was a lot younger than I am. There were two kids my age there, an outgoing, round girl with glasses who let us know in an ironic way that she was allergic to pretty much everything, and her boyfriend, an obnoxious fellow with big arms and a silver watch whose comments were outrageous and rude, who everyone took like he was just talking about the weather. Oddly, perhaps only due to everyone else’s treatment of him, I was all right with what he said. Within the family circle it seemed accepted. He made fun of his mom’s dreadlocks (she sat across from me, a small French woman with glasses), and he made fun of who I assume was his sister, a girl a few years younger than me who sat to my side, wrapped up in a big grey sweater.

Dr. Jen’s wife, the writer (a tall, thin brown-skinned woman with long hair), told us a story about how she’d watched the interview of a serial killer and how fascinating she found it. It would’ve been weird if she wasn’t so clearly nice. I was mostly quiet, but I liked it that way. I was happy to listen to the conversation (and form opinions on the people. It was also kind of entertaining to try and infer their relationships to each other). There were no formal introductions, and so my brain organized them by either their features or their personalities. I’m not sure I could translate that into English; it’s just the feel you get from people. I found it interesting, anyway.

The food was good, dessert especially. It was an interesting mix of things – honey and apple for the beginning (and the breaking of the bread), followed by dahl and lentils for the main course, red and yellow beets in sweet vinegar sauce (that’s a very French Canadian thing too, by the way), with some vegetables, two salads, and then a peach upside-down cake with brownies and ice cream. There was no running theme through the whole meal, which I liked. I figured it was the Jewish, South African, and French influences of those involved at the gathering that had gone into what we were eating, rather than any particularly orthodox Jewish tradition. (My dad brought bagels from Kettleman’s for the occasion. Very Anglo-European-Canadian of us).  Besides the honey and apple and the bread, of course. Dr. Jen said some prayers or chants in Hebrew before we ate at the beginning, and my grandpa described what that was like best: it was like singing happy birthday while you bring out the cake. We don’t do it because we’re supposed to, we do it because we always have and we like to. That’s the sense I got from Dr. Jen as she spoke – it wasn’t overly serious, it was more of a comfort thing, though we all went quiet and listened. Her son Motsumi was impatient to get to the honey and apple but he also seemed intent to make sure the ritual was done, and he wanted to be a part of it. He touched the bread as his mom spoke, and he also inquired about if they would hide presents like in Passover. Once hearing that they wouldn’t, he promptly disappeared to play with the other kids. I thought for sure they would show up at some point for the food but I guess playing took precedent – weird. When I was that age it was food first, play later. Also I ate like a garbage disposal service, but you know. (I’m happy to announce it never made me unhealthy, or even that chubby. Notice how I say “that”. All that method of eating really made me feel was bloated, to tell the truth. And then I grew out of it. Sort of).

It was nice and I’m glad I got to go. I’m glad it wasn’t too formal, or too orthodox for that matter, because I’m not sure how ultra-orthodox Jews feel about atheist transgender people being at their holidays. There’s a world of difference between ultra-orthodoxy and a lax practicing of a religion. I like the lax people the best. The extreme ones make me feel a bit nervous to be quite honest.


 

So that’s Rosh Hashanah. Now should I talk about why I’ve been gone for so long, or why my last post was a negative evaluation of the pointlessness of getting pictures of Pluto? Well, as for the first thing, basically I’ve been gone for three reasons, only one of which is really viable. The first is that I’ve been lazy. The second is that I sort of lost my password. And the third is because I’ve been hellishly, unbelievably busy.

The biggest thing going on right now is that I’m back at school – not only back, but back full-time. This is for the first time in five years. The last time I was going regularly was grade eight – now I’m in the imaginary grade thirteen. I should’ve graduated last June, but you know… going part-time, and then not at all, and then part-time again leaves you a bit behind.

Now I get to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m and lug my exhausted, unresponsive body out of the house, down a hill, up a hill, into a bus – then keep myself from falling over for half an hour as I hold the bar next to my face, while crushed against other morning commuters – then I stumble out of the bus, and down twenty blocks to my school, by which time I’ll hopefully be awake. Then I fall into a chair and sort of learn for a few hours. Then I take the bus back, and by the time I’m home, I’m ready to curl into a tiny, comforting ball under something, preferably a mound of blankets, and hide. While sleeping. A nice hide-sleep. Unfortunately, I have to stay awake until a little later, or I’ll pop awake at three in the morning like that one time. That one time that didn’t go so well. It’s a tough thing, going from half-days at school (and a whole summer of sleeping in) to getting up when dawn has just broken, and being expected to stay awake for the next sixteen or seventeen hours, most of which are spent needing to focus, of all things. On schoolwork. Of all the fucking things.

It’s a lot. But it turns out I’m doing it – so far. I’ll check back with you in another two months. If I’m not a harried, shivering little ball clutching onto a Macbeth essay sheet covered in drool and scratch marks by then, consider this whole thing a roaring success.

There are more things to say, of course. I have months and months to fill in here – but I did get a lot of that down, just not here on this blog. I keep a journal so all the inane day-to-day things, or some of them anyway, are recorded. In a hundred years, when someone wants to know what the life of an average Canadian transgender autistic musician writer was like, they can check that journal, and they’ll know. However I doubt anyone’d be interested. Fuck usually I’m not even interested, and I’m the one living this shit.

Til next time. And it won’t be that long this time, I hope.

– Brynn