Our family is now three-quarters Jewish. We almost weren't, at all, but thanks to my quick thinking and skill with the blow dryer, we most of us made it.
You're all like, WHAT? Let's rewind. (squeeblysqueeblysqueebly)
The scene: Monday afternoon. Philadelphia Zoo. Tired mama packs Sophia into carseat, goes around to the back to load stroller into trunk.
Except: Mama has heavy baby in sling on chest. And: Stroller is not totally folded. And: Mama has no goddamn sense and therefore tries to execute the stroller-in-trunk move whilst standing on curb, leaning way over to trunk of parallel-parked Civic. Why? No reason. Just doin' it stupid.
What happens next is, if you know me in person, utterly predictable: I go down. Down to Chinatown. Down like a clown frown. Down hard, into the gutter filth of a Philadelphia street. Fortunately I am able to execute a miraculous martial arts move in which I turn as I fall so that Gigantic Sling Baby lands safely on top of me, instead of under me; Daphne is spared, but my leg is hamburger.
So my left knee has a place about the size of a half-dollar that's seriously ground up, full of grime that doesn't wash off later, and lacking any protective skin whatsoever. From there to mid-shin is a long raw surface scrape, like two dollar bills laid end-to-end -- the top of that is nasty and oozing, but the lower parts are pretty superficial. There are other small cuts, and a huge amount of bruising and swelling under the skinned parts, around the knee joint. My right leg has three big bruise-scrape things. Later I can feel all the hip bruising. And the protest of a joint knocked cockeyed.
Anyway, the half-dollar place is the problematic one -- you can't just waltz into a mikveh with oozing bleeding wounds. Not halakhically cool. "Is it dry?" asks the mikveh lady on the phone. "Um, how should I determine that?" I ask. "Press a tissue on it. If it comes away dry, it's okay."
It is okay. Until I decide to clean all the grime out Tuesday -- which entails a soak in the bath and some scrubbing with baby soap and a washcloth. A layer of gray disappears, but now after its soak...ew. And I have to meet with the beit din in three hours.
Out comes the blow-dryer and I work on that raw spot until it is dry and scabbed -- okay for the mikveh -- and off we go.
* * * *
My own dunk in the mikveh was lovely, strange, unlike anything else -- but Daphne's was a combination of beautiful and terrifying. No matter how expert the mikveh lady, it is danged hard to submerge your baby and remove your hands. Even just for a second. Daphne did fine, didn't cry, apparently had her eyes open underwater -- but I barely let go the second time, and couldn't handle a third dunk.
Sophia, in the end, wouldn't go under. She made it to naked on the stairs, and very nearly fell into the deep part (oh well), but turned back. I can't say I blame her -- if you haven't been all the way under, and you're a tiny person who's worried that she and her sister are going to drown (that's what she said to me Monday), you might feel it's prudent to wait until you're "six. Or four." So, no big deal, we'll do it in Nashville, in the window between "finally able to go underwater" and "no longer willing to strip nekkid in front of strangers."
I have no idea how big that window will be. For some it seems to extend into the late twenties. Anyway.
So. Here I am, not quite a year after I seriously started my conversion process, a full-fledged member of the tribe, to be found (very soon!) in a tallis having an aliyah to the Torah. The universe has seen fit to celebrate the occasion by hosting American Anti-Semitism Day (a white supremacist shoots and kills a security guard in the Holocaust Memorial Museum; Rev. Jeremiah Wright claims "them Jews" won't let him talk to Obama) but hey. I imagine being on the receiving end of hatred is a lot more shocking if you started out as, say, a white male. Pray for peace; work for peace. So it goes. When it comes to repairing the world, it's like the Rabbi said, "It is not your obligation to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it."