Monday, December 29, 2008

On being a good guest... and a good host

Note: These are just my observations. Some of them are things I definitely need to work on; I don't consider myself a perfect guest or host.

FOR THE GUEST:
1. If your host gives you specific instructions about when and how to arrive, FOLLOW THEM. The host has probably given you those instructions for a reason, and they know best about how to arrive at their home in a timely and convenient fashion.
2. Ask before taking something from the kitchen.
3. Reasonable requests (a sweater, a drink, an extra blanket, etc) are perfectly fine. But don't bug the host constantly.
4. Let your host know about allergies or specific food concerns (like vegetarianism) in advance. Showing up at a meal and then picking at your food because you're vegan and they're serving hamburgers makes the host feel bad and makes the guest feel hungry. Without being overly picky, let the host know if you have food concerns.
5. Be on time. This is really a corollary of Rule #1, but it merits its own number. If the host asks you to come an hour before Shabbos, don't think it's polite and/or convenient for the host if you waltz in five minutes before Shabbos.
6. Follow the rules in the home. If they don't eat in the bedrooms, don't sneak candy into the bedrooms and hope you won't leave crumbs. If they don't sit on the arms of the couch, don't sit on the arms of the couch (or at least ask before doing so).
7. Ask where you should sit at the table (and where guests usually sit in shul so you don't end up sitting in someone's makom kavua).
8. Be polite to the other members of the host's family and don't make them feel unwelcome in their own home, and definitely don't ignore them at the table or dismiss what they say. They live there and are doing a favor for you. Don't make them regret it.
9. Be aware of when other people in the house are sleeping and don't be overly loud.
10. Even if your host is doing something that bothers you, be nice to them. It's difficult to be "on" for an entire weekend, and the host also spent time preparing for your stay. Remember that when you leave, they still need to wash the dishes and the linen that everyone slept on. Be grateful.
11. Be helpful, but if your host repeatedly tells you to please sit and not serve, listen to them. Maybe once someone broke their china and since then they never allow anyone to carry anything.
12. Be gentle with their possessions and think about how you would want someone to handle your things if they were in your home.

FOR THE HOST:
1. Smile at your guests and genuinely make them feel welcome.
2. If they keep asking for stuff and it bugs you, keep your cool. Fulfill requests with a smile anyway.
3. Tell guests in advance if your home runs in a specific way. For example, if you always serve the wife first, tell guests so that they'll know and you won't get annoyed when they don't do something exactly as you would have it.
4. Cook food that you know your guests can eat and enjoy. If you are having someone who is allergic to mushrooms, don't cook three varieties of mushroom souffle and hope your guest will be content with the challah.
5. Don't dictate to your guests what they should do at every given moment. If they want to play a game, even if you'd rather read a book, give in.
6. Don't ignore your guests in favor of, say, a book.
7. Let guests know in advance if you are having other people for one of the meals or if you are eating out so that they aren't caught totally off guard when someone else shows up.
8. Stick with your guests in shul so that they don't feel completely uncomfortable and/or lost. Show them where the bathroom is and where the siddurim and chumashim are kept if they don't already know.
9. Don't tell embarrassing stories about your guests at the table.
10. Don't fight openly with your family.
11. Don't insult your family in front of guests. It will make your family upset and the guests uncomfortable.

FOR BOTH:
1. Try not to inconvenience the other party.
2. If one party feels inconvenienced, don't show it.
3. Be aware that it's sometimes difficult for the other party to be at someone else's house or to be hosting people and don't act like you're the only one who may be having a hard time.
4. Smile, even if you're not in a good mood.
5. Be dan l'kaf zechus if a guest says something that seems off.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On creativity

Her mind hums. This morning she may penetrate the obfuscation, the clogged pipes, to reach the gold. She can feel it inside her, an all but indescribable second self, or rather a parallel, purer self. If she were religious, she would call it the soul. It is more than the sum of her intellect and her emotions, more than the sum of her experiences, though it runs like veins of brilliant metal through all three. It is an inner faculty that recognizes the animating mysteries of the world because it is made of the same substance, and when she is very fortunate she is able to write directly through that faculty. Writing in that state is the most profound satisfaction she knows, but her access to it comes and goes without warning. She may pick up her pen and follow it with her hand as it moves across the paper; she may pick up her pen and find that she's merely herself, a woman in a housecoat holding a pen, afraid and uncertain, only mildly competent, with no idea about where to begin or what to write.
~The Hours by Michael Cunningham, 34-35

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Looking for a source

Friday night, I got into a pointless conversation with someone -- one of those "discussions" when you don't agree with each other and you're not going to sway the other person's opinion, so it could go on for hours until someone decides to end it. Rather fruitless, on the whole, but it was civil.

In the course of this conversation, the other person asked me if I believe that gedolim receive a special siyata dishmaya when they pasken or make decisions. I responded that unless the person had a source for this concept, I was skeptical - to me, believing that gedolim get special siyata dishmaya is a "feel-good" idea: if you think it's true, then gedolim will ALWAYS be right, because Hashem wouldn't let them make mistakes, and so you can legitimately follow everything they say and never question. In other words, this special power, as it were, gives gedolim a status of infallibility, and exempts their followers from having to take stock of what they say.

But if you don't think it's true, then you accept that gedolim are using their knowledge and bechira when they make decisions and/or pasken, and then it's much more up to you whether or not you buy into it or follow what they say.

As an aside, I find the concept of da'as Torah to be one of the stickiest things to discuss, which is why I normally steer clear of having those sorts of conversations -- this one sort of just happened. When we had both gotten thoroughly tired of recycling the same ideas in the conversation, we resolved to each do our research and try to find out if there is a source for the siyata dishmaya idea.

Note: When the other person said "gedolim," they meant people like Rav Elyashiv or Rav Scheinberg (who are without question gedolei Torah, but I wonder if all of Orthodox Judaism considers them gedolei hador [and I think there is definitely a difference]).

So... any thoughts? Is there a source for this concept, that gedolim -- because of their stature -- get special siyata dishmaya when they pasken/make decisions?

(Of course, I didn't bother to tell this person that to my mind, it's not definite whether or not there are really even gedolei hador in the world nowadays . . . that might have been a little too traumatic for this person to hear.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things to be grateful for...

...when you have an ear infection, are coughing up phlegm, your voice is dropped an octave because you're congested and your nose is stuffed:

1. Health insurance.

2. Parents who have good jobs so you have health insurance.

3. Kleenex pocket packs that look like candy!

4. Duane Reade on nearly every corner in Manhattan.

5. Puffs tissues with lotion.

6. A nice roommate who lends you her big purple pillow so you can sleep sitting up.

7. Not being allergic to medication.

8. A nice apartment-mate's white kumkum.

9. Living around the block from the school buildings.

10. A second nice apartment-mate who gives you tea and honey for sniffly times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

follow-up (or, slightly selfish post)

It feels selfish that not being in the loop of a friend's engagement should make me feel so...um...crappy. But you know what? It does. It's thoughtless when no one calls to tell you, and you find out from OnlySimchas instead, or when someone thinks to mention it hours later. Getting multiple phone calls about an engagement is not bad. It is not annoying. It is NICE. Because it shows that people thought you were important enough to the kallah that she would want you to know about her simcha, and not just in a passing mention. Do I care when people from high school don't tell me about their engagements? Nah. For the most part, I feel totally disconnected from my classmates and so, yeah, I'm happy for them when they get engaged, but I don't feel left out if I don't hear from them directly.

But current friends? Or friends I've known since I was little? Yeah. It hurts. A lot. And guess what? When they ignore me during engagement, when they ask me if I know someone who does hair and makeup in Lakewood (why the heck would I know that? You know I don't know that! Why are you asking? Did you forget who you were talking to -- I'm the friend with zero connections, remember?), then it doesn't exactly inspire me to feel a need to keep up a connection.

Maybe I sound obnoxious, but too bad. Friendship is often about reciprocity, and if you're not giving me anything more than cursory glances, I start to lose the motivation to respond in kind.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

free thinking, or what is on my mind at 3:40 a.m.

ugh, why can't i sleep? it's 3:36 in the morning and i know i'm going to be so tired tomorrow, and then people will say, "oh, you look so TIRED!" grr. i don't like when people do that.

also, i'm thinking about debt, and how to avoid it. also how to avoid having a job that makes me wake up super early :(. i love sleeping til nine. then again, it would be good just to get a job and frankly i'm getting really nervous about that. can't do grad school (at least for the fall). i still need two letters of recommendation -- who am i gonna ask? this post is totally rambling, which probably indicates that i should get some sleep. also, i wish that i wouldn't have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, hate that. sorry, was that oversharing? i really should get some sleep. why's there so much drama this year? it's fun not to really be a part of it. it's good to get out of things while you still can. and i wish people would send in their articles. and i sort of really hate the -- -- -- for being totally babyish on me and not giving me the info i need. totally lame. lame, lame, lame. omg what am i going to do next year? teach? haha. who would even hire me. work as a journalist? no experience. and who is even hiring. i feel like no one is. time warner just laid off six hundred people, that's six hundred people who no longer have a job, poof. what makes some people keep their jobs and other people lose theirs?

okay i MUST SLEEP NOW

Monday, November 3, 2008

Over a year

It's been over a year since the car bucked its course and swerved across three lanes of the Garden State Parkway, bumping and crashing into a tree near the side of the road. It's been over a year since six girls on the way to a wedding crawled out of a car trapped by brambles and branches to meet the whizzing traffic of a dark, dark night.

It's been over a year, but every time I think about that night my heart quickens its pace and my breath comes faster . . . that night when we brushed shoulders with death, like gently skimming against someone at a party, because the crowd is so full and twinkly and happy, but this wasn't a party and it wasn't happy and it wasn't safe.

It's been over a year, and three of the girls from the car are now married, the one who was pregnant when we veered off the road had her baby, and the driver is almost done with graduate school. So why am I the one who still remembers and trembles?

My eyes still become filmy with tears when I think about what could have happened and what didn't happen and what did happen. Stupid tears, almost, because by now I should be able to forget, at least a little, and learn to drive, so my fear of the road won't swallow me whole. But I can't forget, at all, even a little bit, and it paralyzes me, and I know it.

I must get past this, and learn to drive, but whenever I'm in a car all I can think about is how some car will come out of nowhere and BAM! right into me and then bang and crash and the roadway is a mess and the news anchor is murmuring, G-d forbid, Hashem yishmor. Because I can't trust anyone to be safe. I can't trust anyone to drive defensively or not to tailgate or not go eighty miles an hour on a choked highway. I remember when Y gave me a ride, and I was clutching my contact lens case in my hand so tightly that my knuckles whitened and the outside of the vial became sweaty and wet with the fear my hand seeped into it.

Oh G-d, I just want this all to go away, away away away, and for my heart not to stop and for my breath to come normally and for me to get in a car and not think horrible thoughts. I want this shackling feeling to untie itself so I can feel free, and weightless, and lighthearted and happy again, the way I was, over a year ago.

Edit: This is my 36th post in 2008 . . . double chai. That could mean nothing, but for me it's something, and I think it's something good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deep thought on the parsha

Random thought that occurred to me as I was listening to the Torah reading this week:

Wow, humanity really gets off to a bad start: violating Divine ordinance, blaming mistakes on spouses, getting the curse of manual labor, plus pregnancy labor pains, being driven out of their luxurious home as a punishment for not having enough self-control to listen to their one and only piece of instruction, being jealous of a sibling, resorting to killing said sibling, denying bad behavior, forgetting G-d to the extent that there is only one pious person in the whole world . . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Canvas

The script is ending, and I have no idea what comes afterward. I smile, and I wave, but inside I'm so knotty that my hand shakes. The picture in my head has dissolved, and now -- nothing. I can't see myself anywhere, doing anything, with anyone. Blank. And, and it's not even just school, or a career, but life . . . oh G-d, what am I going to do? It's so easy to pretend, to tell yourself and others that it'll all work out, oh yeah, I've got lots of options, I'm considering this that and the other thing, but when nothing's prepared and nothing is clear and nothing even stands out, all of that pretension looks foolish and weak, and babyish, and just makes me want to cry. Now I understand what you meant all those months ago. It's fun, isn't it, being in college and pretending to be adult and independent, when really you have no idea what it is to fend completely for yourself? But then reality bites, and hard. Oh, not that you don't have the tools to be all those things, but do you know how to? And I can't ever really find out until I make a decision about what it is that is going to teach me how to be all those things, can I? I feel frozen in a catch-22, and having to write another verse is looming ominously over me and gets darker and darker the more that I look. But I can't tear my eyes away, because that would just be feeding the fear and the anxiety even more . . . oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh, what am I going to do?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

should i take down my blog?

This year

Doing a cheshbon hanefesh is an embarrassing activity. When I think about my behavior of last year in an objective way, how can I not cringe with intense shame and ask myself how I let myself slip and fall? How could I have lied to myself, deceived myself, reassured myself that I wasn't doing something wrong, when I knew, very clearly, that it was? How could I have hurt others -- deliberately -- and taken pleasure in inflicting pain? How could I have opened my mouth and spoken viciously and spitefully about others? How could I have ignored G-d, ignored my relationship with Him, seen Him as distant and sometimes, shockingly, immaterial, almost? How could I have been so awesomely, frightening selfish?

It just makes me want to crawl into a hole and seal myself off from human contact, because as much as I say to myself, "This is wrong, don't do it," I persist, and persist, and persist, and it's almost an out-of-body experience, seeing yourself wronging others and yet continuing and not being able to stop yourself -- is it the frozen horror that keeps you from being strong enough, or is it evil possessing you, or is it just pride, just plain old stupid selfish pride that keeps you from saying -- I'm wrong, and I'm wrong -- and then stopping . . . because that is what has the tightest, ugliest grasp over us . . . the thought of losing face, of having to stoop down and humble ourselves and grovel before others and admit that we are flawed that stops us from doing just that -- from admitting that we're human, and oh for goodness' sake stop using it as an EXCUSE and grow up and realize that you were created to improve yourself and stop acting like doing something wrong is just ingrained in you and you can't fix it, because you can, you can, and you must, must, or you're just a fool, a petty little fool who is so prideful that she can't see how her pride just brings alienation, and sadness, and bitterness, and an inability to let others be who they are and to let others shine and others succeed, because it's just so ugly, that word - OTHERS - like a glaring menace that shines light into your face and refuses to turn off, even when you're begging for some respite from the harshness - but that's just it, isn't it, that when OTHERS become a capitalized force, then you've lost the ability to see beauty in people, to see them as an extension of G-d, as pieces of Him, and they're just things in your way, in YOUR way, because it's all about you, isn't it, and how YOU are being affected, and never about those other people who, to you, litter your life and are there to just fit into the greater picture of YOUR puzzle -- no, never you into theirs, but always they into yours, and oh G-d just thinking about having to ask people for forgiveness makes you want to cry, because it's that stinking pride again, springing up, barring the way, saying "don't do it - because then I'll be compromised" -- when why can't I realize that it's just the opposite, that it's not that, and that the so-called giving in is really a gaining of respect . . . but how can I know that when I just feel like I've lost, and that they've gained, and why oh why is it all about competing, why can't it be about people getting along, and why is it always about winning and losing and it's not a game, no, no it's not, it's serious, and there are others involved, and their feelings and oh it's all just stupid pride and get over it already because you're losing yourself in this struggle to stay afloat when really you're causing yourself to sink.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You know what is so sad?

People who think they can write well.

But they can't.

At all.

AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!

Monday, September 22, 2008

hrm

You know how sometimes, you're not sure how much a feeling is actual, or if it's just something you're imposing on yourself or pushing yourself to believe in because you don't want to admit how you really feel? Or you don't know how you really feel, so you just opt to take the road of least commitment? Or you wish things were the way you want them to be, but they aren't, so you purposely say that you feel x so that you can get y?

Right.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Styrofoam wall

You'd think it would be so easy to just push it over and crunch your way through, littering the path behind you with sticky, static-y flakes of foam. Flicking off the pieces that cling, to rid yourself of the niggling reminders of what blocked you off.

The looming opacity seems solid, though. Making the imagined into actual and perhaps aggrandizing the small. But it's all just pretend. It's all just soft malleability masquerading as substance.

All those little flakes . . . which pieces came from me and which ones were borne of your supposed mistake?

Does it matter? Should I care?

Need just that little nudge and poomph there it goes down down down into pieces and then it's like nothing happened and we're right back to where we were except we're not because everything is different for you now but that's okay because that's just what happens and it's going to be fine and all the little flakes and flakes and flakes dissolve into milky blessed oblivion.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two things that drive me crazy

People chewing with their mouths open.

This is just about the most disgusting habit known to mankind next to knuckle-cracking and neck-popping. No one wants to see masticated food rolling around in anyone's wide-open trap. And the sound...! Smack, slurp, smack, slurp. Disgusting. People are not cows. Therefore, no one should sound like a cow. Really - it's so gross. And I don't see any reason why I should get used to or excuse this kind of lack of table manners. It's quite unpleasant to be in the same room as someone and hear their food being eaten. And if someone has to think about whether or not they chew with their mouth open or closed, it's probably the former. Have pity on your fellow sentient creatures and desist.

People who walk slowly in New York.

Look, New York is a biiiiiiiiiiiig city. There's a lotta people in New York. And all those lotta people want to get somewhere. Therefore, it is better if no one stands in the middle of the sidewalk, looking aimlessly around for direction. If you need direction, try to hug a wall or stand nearer to the curb (but not too close, you don't want to experience death by maniacal taxi). If you are talking on your cell phone, try not to slow down to a crawl. And while I'm on the subject: Girls who Block The Space in the caf. NOT OKAY! The cafeteria is probably the busiest place in Stern, and it is just rude to stand in the middle of the cafeteria, chatting with your friend, while other people around you want to get their food and go to class, possibly even on time. ARGH.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Plans

I have begun to seriously consider the possibility of making aliyah after I graduate from college.

This may seem like it is coming from nowhere, just an impulsive move on my part. Let me explain that it is not quite so.

I remember the summer after my seminary year (I didn't leave Israel right away; rather, I stayed until early August of that year) rashly announcing to someone that if it were feasible, I would make aliyah right then and there and go to Bar Ilan or something. I was standing in Alon Shvut at the time, and the air swirling around the yishuv seemed to have a magical effect on me anytime I visited - I always felt more connected to Israel when I was there than on my seminary campus. But the nineteen-year-old me who pronounced this desire to make aliyah wasn't being quite realistic: the truth was, at that point in time, I didn't want to make aliyah. I was still sorting myself out from seminary, Bar Ilan didn't hold that much interest to me, and in all honesty, I wanted to go back to America and start college.

And I'm glad I did, because my two years at Stern (and G-d willing, my third and last) were some of the most enjoyable years of my life, truly. I've made friends there who have been some of the most thoughtful, fun and committed people I've encountered. It was at Stern that I was able to become more comfortable with myself and to examine the different hashkafot that I have been exposed to. Not making aliyah after seminary was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

A year and a half after I came home from seminary I went to Israel again. This trip was very short - just a week, barely enough time to get over jetlag. The Jerusalem winter was a frigid one, with numbing wind that whipped across the city at night. I was often too tired or cold to leave our apartment very much, and so when I came back to America, I wasn't running to make aliyah. Why? I just wasn't.

I should also add that for years my parents talked about making aliyah, or at least buying property in Israel. I remember being in one of the early grades in elementary school, and my father, on a trip to Turkey to visit his family, made a stop in Israel to scout for available apartments and a possible position at various universities throughout the country. My parents have yet to make aliyah, but they were able to realize their dream of buying property in Israel when they came to visit me in seminary. With the help of G-d, Who was clearly guiding my parents when they wandered into the office a real estate agency in the neighborhood of Rechavia, my parents purchased an apartment in the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood of Jerusalem.

But what really spurred me to think of aliyah as a real option was this past trip that I went on just a couple weeks ago.

And oh, what a trip.

I was in Israel for three weeks, the first two of which were spent in Jerusalem at our apartment. For the final week, I was able to participate in an incredible tour of Israel, thanks to the offer of a much-beloved friend and her family.

Living in Jerusalem for those two weeks was the closest I've ever come to truly feeling like Israel could be a permanent home for me in all the time I had spent in Jerusalem thus far. One day, while I was walking down King George towards home, a chill ran through me and gave me goosebumps that were quite unconnected to the blazing heat of the day. My goosebumps were the result of the awesome, spine-tingling, tearfully exciting feeling that I experienced at that moment of a simple and incredible love of the place I was standing in. I need to be here, I thought to myself. I love this city. I love this country. This will be my home.

And then came the tour.

I didn't expect that from this tour would blossom a feeling of connection to Israel that I hadn't really felt yet on a consistent basis, but rather had experienced a few flashes of it here and there. I didn't think that this tour would be such an emotional catalyst for me. I had no idea that on this tour, because of the places I was seeing, I would feel that chilling, thrilling feeling of love that would make me choke up in the middle of the afternoon. I didn't know that what I would see on this tour would bring me, finally, an incredible appreciation and understanding of the people -- albeit secular -- who poured themselves, their tears and sweat and blood and exultant smiles, into this land so that I, 60 years later, could hop on a plane and come home to our apartment in Jerusalem, an act that is easy and pleasant because Hashem gave us control of our birthright so that we could come back and rebuild it.

But the tour was this, and more. I am indebted to my friend and her family for having me along, and for giving me this chance to connect so much to the land. So much so, that I desire nearly completely to come back and live there permanently.

I do have concerns, though. I know that day-to-day survival in Israel is based on more than an overwhelming and abiding love of the land. I am not afraid of the bureaucracy that everyone loves to hate, or going food shopping, or speaking in Hebrew every day. What I am afraid of is not finding a job that gives me enough satisfaction so that I won't regret having left family and better job opportunities (and with that, more ways to support and build a family) in America. I'm afraid of the loneliness that will come from moving away from all my family and most of my friends. Those things aren't small concerns - they're big ones, and for that reason, making aliyah after graduation isn't a cut-and-dried plan just yet. There are lots and lots of details to consider and people to talk to and network with before I can really, truly commit to this.

But I want to . . . I want to. And if not right after I graduate, G-d willing in the near future.

And maybe Mashiach will come and bring us all to eretz avoteinu before we need to worry about making plans for it ourselves . . . bimiheira biyameinu.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Direct questions always appreciated

Mrs. Shadchan: Hello?

Me:
Hi, Mrs. Shadchan? This is Apple. My father told me you called?

Mrs. S: [pause] Who?

Me: Apple . . . my father told me you called while I was away.

Mrs. S: [pause] Oh yes . . . right . . . you came to my house?

Me: No.

Mrs. S: [pause] Oh . . . did I set you up?

Me: Yes. With Mr. Disaster Date.

Mrs. S: [lightbulb] Oh . . . right. Yes yes. Well, I'm looking through my names to see who got married, and I realized I didn't know about you, so . . . did you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sad day today . . .

I don't really know nearly enough about Israel, politics, strategy or anything of that ilk to comment on whether or not the prisoner exchange this morning was strategic, moral, a good idea, or anything. Other than the fact that the way that the members of Hizbullah reacted to the release of Samir Kuntar makes me ill, and I don't understand how it can possibly not prove 100% to the rest of the world how little people like that value human life. And that for what it's worth, at least the families of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser can give their sons/brothers/husbands/nephews/uncles an halachic burial.

Ironically, my family was in Israel two years ago when the war began, and we are here yet again as one aspect of the war in Lebanon comes full circle . . . or as much closure as the prisoner exchange can bring, anyway.

This video was circulated two summers ago, as the war in Lebanon was going on. No other commentary necessary.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Random things that I've seen or thought on this trip

1. I wonder how many of those young married girls pushing strollers are people that I actually know, but don't recognize because their "hair" looks different.

2. How does anyone afford to live here? *I* think the prices are expensive, and at least the dollar is [a little] better than the shekel. How do the people who only have shekalim do it?

3. Diagonally across from me on the bus yesterday was a woman who, inexplicably, unfolded a napkin and placed it on her head, holding it in place with sunglasses, for the duration of the bus ride to Tel Aviv.

4. I have only seen two women wearing those "super tznius" ponchos over their clothes. Granted, our apartment isn't exactly in Me'ah She'arim.

5. Wow. There are a LOT of pregnant women in Yerushalayim. Secular, observant, unidentifiable - lots of 'em.

6. Israeli religious girls who want to dress in a slutty way are almost better than American girls at achieving the look.

7. If I was Israeli, what would my hashkafah be?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The great tights debate

I am a legs-coverer. That is, I never wear my skin bare below the knee - I always cover with knee socks, tights, a long skirt, etc. This means a few things: 1. I never wear sandals. 2. I am ALWAYS hot in the summer. Always. It's not so bad to wear a long skirt with knee socks, but short skirts always equal tights, and tights are deadly. Who encases themselves in nylon that prevents air flow, anyway?

Now, I know that I don't technically *have* to cover the skin below the knee. But that is how I grew up, that was the custom at the schools I attended, and for me to deviate from that would be just weird. I'm not used to it, and it would be odd for me to dress in a way that is totally different than how I have been dressing for the past fifteen-odd years.

Also, I feel that it's important to dress at a certain standard of tznius. This especially rings true for me while I'm here in Yerushalayim. I'm in a holy place, and I think it's not unreasonable to go slightly above and beyond the bare minimum of what is required. The only thing is . . . it is RIDICULOUSLY hot here. I mean, seriously. I walked to the Kotel with my mother this morning from our apartment (it's about a 45 minute walk each way) and we returned before 9:30 in the morning. And even by then, the sun was out in full force, reflecting off the pale Jerusalem stone. Wearing tights was a noble idea, but so uncomfortable.

I don't want to give up that standard for myself, but I also want to be able to walk during the day without an extra layer on and and to wear short skirts now and then (plus, a long skirt is incredibly hot - it's like wearing a blanket, even though it is cooler than wearing a short skirt with tights). On the other hand, I'm in Yerushalayim . . . I don't want to give in while I'm here, especially. But I'm so uncomfortable, and I don't want to spend the entire time inside because it's too hot to be outside in tights.

Sigh.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Zen and the art of handbag maintenance

1. Never be so smug as to assume that leaving a half-eaten nectarine core in a weak baggie in your handbag will not result in infusing your bag with a unique and pungent scent.

2. The colorful coating on the outside of pills such as Advil and Motrin will melt off when the pill comes in contact with a wet substance.

3. The colorful coating, once melted off the actual pill, is likely to seep into the lining of your bag, put up stakes and remain there for eternity, vaguely reminiscent of campy tie-dye.

4. Do not be discouraged, however! For the newly orange interior of your handbag now matches the exterior. Matchy = Zen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wanna know something crazy?

Sometimes I have this insane desire to just go and get totally, completely and absolutely smashed. Preferably by drinking something neon. (How do they get them that color anyway?)

Is this going to totally kill my shidduch chances?  Because at the moment . . . I really don't care! HA!

Monday, June 23, 2008

jumble

It's this weird thing about maturing, and getting older, that all of a sudden stuff just starts to . . . happen. Some of it's happy, like friends getting married, and having children, and some of it . . . isn't. Of course, all throughout my life I grew up with unhappy things happening around me. My house has been a shiva house four times. People in my community have had health issues, they've had family members who passed away, classmates have had siblings with serious illnesses.

But there's something different about having one of your own friends, who should be happy and healthy and looking forward to starting a family in the near future G-d willing, having a health issue that's so frightening that when you think about what she's experiencing, it takes all your willpower not to crumple right where you're standing under the weight of it. It's like I have this weird idea in the back of my mind that certain things are only supposed to happen to people who are older, not to people in their 20's. I am so thrown by this news that I received tonight that this post doesn't really make much sense . . . I don't even know what point I want to come across. My heart just feels so heavy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Woohoo!

I'm done!

This semester was crazy busy, and it's so nice to finally be able to really breathe . . . no more work hanging over my head.

Plays read: 14
Novels read: 12
Papers written: 13
Forums answered: 8
Newspaper articles authored: 6
Newspaper articles edited: 13

That's all my fuzzy brain can remember at the moment.

I'm ready for a break.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's a mystery, I tell ya

"Donations" to New York Public Library in form of payment for photocopying articles that didn't end up being used as a source in research paper: $4

Printing out old microfilm articles that did end up being used as a source in said paper: $6

Cost of subway rides to and from New York Public Library in a panic the afternoon before said paper is due: $4

Receiving an A despite writing said research paper in three hours the night before the morning due date: Priceless

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Graduation

Well, I'm not graduating this year, but a bunch of my friends are. The thought of them leaving makes me overwhelmingly sad and happy at the same time.

I don't know that I can really articulate what these girls mean to me.

When I came to Stern, as an image-conscious, just-out-of-seminary, lost-in-the-sauce sophomore, I knew hardly anyone. There were a few girls from home that I was friendly with, but I came without anyone from high school or seminary. I was so lonely at the beginning, and so lost. I didn't know where anything was, my roommates and I didn't quite mesh, and I was still concerned with how people were going to judge me for going to Stern.

I had a lot of siyata dishmaya, though, and I was placed on a floor in the dorm that also contained two rooms of girls who took me into their circle and befriended me. (No one is exactly clear on how it happened . . . I think I probably just wandered into their rooms one day and never left.) Solid, frum, thinking girls. Girls who are fervent in their avodah. Girls who live intentionally. Girls who care to learn Torah and to live Torah. Girls who love to read and to have fun. Girls who are tzanua and modest. Girls who are principled.

I have never been happier than I am now at Stern. I have a circle of friends who are concerned about each other, always. Friends who care very much for each other's happiness. Friends who are bold enough to give mussar and sensitive enough to know when someone else is chafing. Friends who changed my life and have brought so much joy to me. Friends who taught me that it really isn't worth it be concerned with your image, with how other people perceive you. Friends who taught me that anyone coming from any kind of background can be a spiritual role model. Friends whose zeal for Torah learning is both intimidating and impressive.

True, some of us are remaining at Stern for this coming year, and I'm so thrilled to be able to get closer to them and share more with them. And for the girls who are leaving campus, I can't wait to see where they go and how their experiences outside of college end up.

But for now . . . thank you -- to those of you who are leaving, and those of you who are staying -- for two years of some of the best friendships of my life. And it's not going to end now.

:')

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A bone to pick

I recently realized something about myself that has been gnawing at me for a while, but took some time to articulate: I have almost zero confidence in discussing matters of halacha when there are men around. It's not like I don't know things, per se (although I don't have the greatest memory), it's that I a) don't feel comfortable correcting a guy even when I think he might have said something incorrectly or b) am afraid to introduce things into the conversation for fear of being wrong.

Okay, so maybe b) is a separate issue, but I think a) has a root in the way I was schooled.

In more right-wing schools, girls are often taught halacha in a very simple, non-source-based way. For example, where I went to high school, we learned halacha like this: the teacher (who was a noted posek who definitely knew what he was talking about, no question - I just take issue with the method) would hand out a sheet of questions on a particular topic, and then would go through the questions and give us the answers. There was no source sheet, we never had to look into a sefer - we were literally spoon-fed the answers.

What did this mean? Well, it meant that we knew an awful lot of information without a) knowing the sources b) knowing how to look at sources. Which is problematic. Why? Because there was an implicit statement of, "No need to teach you this, because you can rely on your father/brother/husband to tell you the answer when you have a question." It was practically a given that people would have someone like that to turn to for the answers.

But guess what. Not everyone has that. Not everyone has a father who spent many years in yeshiva learning gemara, or a brother who is currently in yeshiva, or a husband. And there comes a point where you want to look something up because you are tired of always relying on other people for what to do, but you know what? You can't. Because you've never been taught how, or where, to look. You haven't the faintest idea of the structure of the Mishna Berura, or the Kaf HaChaim. Shulchan Aruch? Forget it. You haven't a clue as to where a halacha originated in the gemara or the mishnah. Whenever a teacher referenced those sefarim, it was a passing mention and you only have a vague idea as to what the sefer actually contains and accomplishes.

This has a couple important ramifications. Firstly, what is essentially being told to women is that it's not even worth it to bother to learn how to use a source (or even what sources there are). Secondly, this makes women much more dependent on men (because the implication is "you can always just ask someone"), and therefore, much less confident in their knowledge in the face of a man's knowledge.

I'm not saying that the system of asking a rav a shailah should be torn down. Far from that. Rather, there needs to be a shift in the way that women are taught halacha in bais yaakov schools. There needs to be a lot more empowerment in terms of learning from sources and learning how to utilize sources. There needs to be more of an emphasis on the ability of a woman to discuss halachic issues with men.

I don't know - maybe my hesitation to contradict a guy who I think is quoting halacha incorrectly or to put my two cents into a discussion about halacha is an isolated thing, but it definitely relates back to the way I was taught. And it frustrates me so much. I dislike this imposed paralysis on my ability to confidently state what the correct course of halachic action is. (And I really don't like that consulting a source is so foreign to me or that it intimidates me too much to approach it.)

So what can I do about it? Well, I am lucky that I'm at the point where I can still take halacha classes with professors who *do* go back to original sources and use them in class.

But still . . . it frustrates me SO much! I wish it hadn't been that way.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hail from Grr

Dear Other People,

Greetings!

I come to you from Grr, a small independent island off the coast of Frustrating, where we eat only cookies and cake, mainly of the chocolate variety. Rather like the island of Conclusions, where you can only get to by jumping, Grr has no actual connection to mainland - you must bob your way over by scrunching up your face, making fists and emitting a low yowl of irritation. No need to apply; simply get cranky easily and you will find yourself here in no time. Please refrain from bringing along any pat aphorisms designed to make problems go away - we on the island of Grr prefer our grumbling to soothing sayings, unless you really have a good solution (or very, very good cake).

Ta ta!

Love,
Queen of Grr

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sadness

My friend calls before Shabbat starts. Can you come with me to visit this little girl in the children's hospital? she asks. Someone called and asked me to do it. She's originally from Israel, but only speaks Yiddish. I think she's five.

I surprise myself and reply, Yes. Without hesitation, I agree.

Well. That's different for me.

I don't like hospitals. I don't like the smell of disinfectant mingled with body odor, with the hint of death, that seems soaked into the walls and the floors. I don't like all the machines with the wires that have unknown destinations and points of origin. I don't like seeing people who have been distorted by disease and illness.

Why am I going to visit this unknown girl, who doesn't even speak English? Is it my wish to do a chessed that I haven't done in years? Is it my pity for her loneliness, my pity for the fact that she is spending the first days of Pesach over thirty miles from her family? Is it my determination to get over the awkwardness of being in a hospital? Is it even, just maybe, a sense of pleasure at how people will look at me afterwards with admiration that I walked over a mile and a half to visit someone that I don't even know?

I control my gag reflex as we enter the room of this little girl, who doesn't speak English and whose family is in Williamsburg for Shabbat and yom tov. I remind myself that we can play a game with her, and maybe that way we can overcome the language barrier. I feel my heart thuddering in my chest, and a small voice in me says - no, don't go in! You can still leave. I suppress that urge and follow my friend into the room.

On the bed lies a little girl, her wrists and hands encased in braces with pink foam lining them. Her small leg contracts in and out - her right leg, the only part of her body she can voluntarily control. Her head, bent at an angle to her neck, glistens with sweat. Her mouth is perpetually open as she breathes, a layer of yellowish substance on her tongue, probably the result of her mouth being open all the time. The plastic layer of a diaper peeks out from underneath a pair of gray leggings, hinting to the fact that she can no longer control when she goes to the bathroom. I feel myself wanting to gag at the thought of a girl who used to be able to run and skip and jump and throw tantrums, and is now reduced to a contracting shell of discomfort and pain.

There is a woman spending Shabbat and yom tov with her, a divorced mother from Lakewood who seems very relieved to have frum people to talk to. She tells us about the little girl, and how she used to be healthy and happy, but got a fever that went to her brain and caused damage. She shows us pictures of a girl merrily riding a ride at a makeshift amusement park, pictures of a little girl who has a three-year-old sibling and a one-year-old sibling, a girl whose mother comes every day to visit her, a girl whose parents have watched their daughter slip from health into disfunction. The woman is not related to the family, but speaks Yiddish and so was hired to stay with the little girl in place of her parents, who weren't able to come.

My friend and I approach the bed and say hello. The girl begins to whimper. Is she in pain? I ask the woman, concerned. Well, they gave her tylenol, but they can only change her diaper every couple hours or so, she replies. Inside, something twists in me at the thought of someone lying in that kind of discomfort, feeling it and not being able to fix it.

As I watch the little girl, not sure what to do, a small tear judders out of her eyelid and slides into the curls plastered to her temple. She's trying so hard to tell us something and we just don't quite know what she's saying, or what we should answer.

After a little more than an hour, during which we spent more time talking to the woman instead of the little girl (which is okay - she seemed to need company as well), and during which my friend and I stumbled over our slim knowledge of Yiddish to read a children's haggada aloud to the girl, we leave the room and exit the hospital.

My friend who's with me, whom I've known since childhood, chatters about her college exams on the way home. I am quiet. I am not sure what I am feeling, exactly. It's all a jumble. But I am affected, as I continue to be throughout the afternoon and into the evening, into the first seder, where I have to distract myself from picturing the girl so as to be able to eat without feeling nausea.

I'm still feeling the effects of having visited this girl, although not as intensely and not as often. I'm not sure if this post is going to release any of that or just remind me of my feelings. But if you can, I just . . . I don't know.

Her name is Alte Chaya Gittel b-s Yehudis. Thank you.  Is it even my place to say that?  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

p.s.

I just realized that I've had this blog for over a year. Funny how sometimes time seems to speed up and move in great gallops, and other times rolls slowly over you like a thick syrup.

What have I gained from this blog? Without question, the most important part to me have been the new friendships that I've made. I'm too lazy to make each word into a hyperlink for all the different bloggers that I've met and connected with and gotten close to over the past year, but know that you are all so special to me and there aren't words to express what a difference you have all made in my life.

This blog was also my main venting stage at different points, for better or worse. I am not always so proud of the feelings that I displayed at those moments, but those posts mark points of growth, even though at the time I may not have been my best self. That's important, I think. Hopefully I can continue to use this blog as a forum for positive growth in the future.

Thank you all, for reading, listening, talking.

Here's to continued discussions, gripes and real-life blogger meetings!

On jealousy

Sometimes it's hard not to feel jealous of other people. They seem to have things that you don't and never will have, and try as you might, you're just never going to succeed the way they do. The scary thing about jealousy is that you can practically feeling it growing within you, but somehow, the greater it gets, the harder it is to snap out of it. And feeling jealous of someone makes you begrudge them any sort of success, even if that success is unrelated to what you're jealous of exactly.

How do you undo it? Is it by acknowledging your own gifts and strengths? Sometimes that just isn't enough. If I wish desperately that I possessed a certain talent, or had certain things coming to me, and they just aren't, it doesn't always suffice to say, "Oh, but look at what I do have." Sometimes the things that you wish for are important too, and not having them isn't negated by looking at things that you do possess, but that pale in significance when compared to what you wish you had.

Anyway, this is quite a useless post. Cheerio!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I'm annoyed

I hate when things say that they're going to be free, and then THEY'RE NOT.

GRRRRRRRRRR.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Top five ways you can pick a Bais Yaakov graduate out in a crowd

1. The Bais Yaakov graduate (BYG for short) will speak in a faux New York accent (even if she's not from the New York environs) with a heavy emphasis on the words "taka," "but," and "hello." This is also known as the yeshivish accent, which the BYG will have picked up either from her mother or circa seventh grade. She will pause and form her words carefully, so as to give them the proper feelings that should be associated with them.

2. The BYG will use her hands. A lot. Her favorite position will be her fingers pursed together, making a sort of scooping motion to indicate that she is saying something of great importance. She will also enjoy cupping her hands together and moving them outward from her body to show a display of emotion when talking about her avodas Hashem, her teaching job, and how she feels about the shidduch system.

3. The BYG will have a short, demure haircut. If she is about to get a short, demure haircut, she will bemoan the fact that her hair is "too long," and will constantly point this out so that you cannot point it out to her yourself. The BYG tends to wear her hair either back in a headband with the front part pushed up to make a little pouf, a half-ponytail, or a pouf secured with two crisscrossed bobbypins.

4. The BYG tends to wear clothing that is either black, blue, gray or brown. Occasionally, she will wear a pale pink or pale blue shell to offset the darkness of her clothing, but other than that, she dresses in what can generously be termed as "drab wear." Often, the BYG will wear a jacket, even during the week, in lieu of a shirt, because this will a) serve to make her look more formal and b) it is more tznius because it is not fitted and has a collar. The BYG will never wear denim, save for extreme tiyulim, and wears black Anne Klein loafers or the equivalent.

5. The BYG will carry in her purse: a small travel-size siddur, a mini Tehillim for use during someone else's chuppah, a pack of gum, a cell phone with a sticker of the Chofetz Chaim on it reminding her not to speak lashon hara, a travel-sized version of A Lesson A Day, a comb, a discreet eyeliner, a subtle lipgloss, a list of names to daven for (either people who need a shidduch, a refuah, parnassah, or some combination thereof), some cute keychain that her best friend made for her that is a picture of the two of them either at the beach (fully clothed) or in front of some landscape in Israel, and a digital camera, because you just never know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Glob of the day, or Sweepy Meme

1. How much sleep do you get on an average night?
Erm. Um, about 7 or so hours, sometimes more. If I'm at SerandEz - about 2 or 3.
2. Is that enough sleep for you?
No. No sleep is ever enough. People always tell me I look "so tired!"
3. At what time do you normally go to sleep and wake up?
In the dorm - go to sleep about 1:30ish in the morning, wake up relatively close to the start of class. At SerandEz - go to sleep anywhere from two to five a.m., wake up at about 7:00 on weekdays and 11:30 on Shabbos/Sunday.
4. Do you usually fall asleep right away or have trouble?
I have trouble falling asleep unless I'm absolutely zonked, which is partly why I push off going to bed til so late - I need to be really really tired to fall asleep immediately.
5. What size bed do you have?
At home, a twin. In the dorm, weird dorm size (actually the most comfortable of all the beds I sleep in on a regular basis [sorry Ezzie]). At SerandEz, couch (and occasionally twin bed in Elianna's room).
6. How many pillows do you use?
Usually just one. Sometimes I don't use any, sometimes I use two.
7. In what position do you sleep?
Scrunched up on my side or on my stomach. Usually with my shoulders all the way up and my arm bent oddly so that when I wake up I feel sore.
8. Do you need it to be quiet or dark to sleep?
YES. I need darkness and as much quiet as possible. On verrrrrry rare occasions I've been able to fall asleep with light on and some ambient noise, but on the whole I'm a very sensitive sleeper, and need total darkness and quiet.
9. Do you use earplugs or an eye mask?
Never earplugs, but I have used an eye mask. It's not as weird as it sounds!
10. Have you ever used a sleeping aid long-term?
Nope.
11. Do you use headgear, a night retainer, or a biteplate?
No b"H. Never had braces.
12. What do you normally wear to bed?
T-shirt and pants, year round.
13. Do you frequently fall asleep in your clothing?
If I'm at SerandEz, yes (I'm paranoid). If not, never - I love pajamas. I always change the minute I get back from school.
14. Do you prefer a heavy or light blanket?
Heavy. Light blankets don't feel like they're warm enough. I like to be in a cocoon.
15. Do you prefer warm or cool PJs?
Cool. Combined with a heavy blanket - yum.
16. Do you wear socks to bed?
I prefer not to, but when I fall asleep in my clothes socks are usually part of the picture.
17. What is your bedtime routine?
Hmm. Does "stay up as late as possible til I'm too tired to do anything" count? Usually I G-chat til my eyes are closing and then read a little.
18. Do you listen to music when you’re falling asleep?
No. Can't fall asleep with noise.
19. Have you sucked your thumb in recent years?
Not my thumb, but my left pointer finger. Habit from babyhood that I've pretty much shaken, except for when I'm exceptionally tired and can't seem to sleep.
20. Do you still sleep with your childhood blankie/teddy?
My baby pillow, yes, when I'm at home.
21. Do you snore?
Nope.
22. Do you sleeptalk or sleepwalk?
Don't think so.
23. Do you wake up to use the bathroom often?
Sometimes. I usually go to the bathroom right before I go to bed, but I also like to drink before I go to sleep, so sometimes one doesn't cancel out the other.
24. What things inhabit your bed aside from a blanket and pillow?
Usually some clothes at the corner of the bed.
25. What kind of alarm clock do you use?
My cell phone.
26. Do you ever wake up before your alarm?
Yes! Ugh! It's so annoying - I never get the amount of sleep I think I will when I set my alarm at night.
27. Do you frequently take naps?
Rarely, unless I'm about to cry with exhaustion. I've found that napping during the day throws me off at night (although it's not like I have a normal sleep schedule anyway). Shabbos however I like to sleep during the day.
28. Have you ever slept ‘under the stars’?
No, but I'd like to try it at some point.
29. Can you fall asleep on a bus, train, or airplane?
Definitely not on an airplane (not enough room). The few flights that I've taken I've come back completely cranky and teary from lack of sleep. I have fallen asleep on a bus or train once or twice, but usually the movement jars me from my nap.
30. Have you ever fallen asleep and missed your stop?
Nope.
And last, but not least,
31. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person swallows six spiders in his/her sleep. How many do you think you're up to?
Barf. And I think that's a myth.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The afternoon prayer

With this in mind . . .

A teacher of mine in high school related this idea, which I find extremely compelling and relevant. I don't know the exact sources.

When Avraham sent Hagar and Yishmael out of his home, the Torah tells us that Yishmael began to die of thirst in the desert. Yishmael cried out to Hashem to save him from death, and Hashem heard his tefilah and sent a well of water to restore him.

Fast forward many years. Yitzchak famously goes out into the field "lifnot erev" (before the evening) and establishes the tefilah that we know as mincha. But he didn't go to just any field . . . he went to the place where Yishmael, many years earlier, had called out to Hashem to save him. Why did he do that? Why did he choose that place and that time specifically? Because Yitzchak knew that there had to be a way for bnei Yisrael to combat the power of the tefilah of Yishmael - so he went to the same place, at the same time, and established a prayer that the children of Israel can use to overcome the power of the children of Ishmael.

That is the power of the afternoon prayer.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I can't get enough of this



I want to raise small children with British accents. Hint hint!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why I haven't been blogging


Well, one of the reasons, at least.

This is my reading list for the semester. The picture is actually missing one play (Tartuffe: Born Again) and one novel (Northanger Abbey). So far, I've read The Professor's House, Rosmersholm, Tartuffe, Tartuffe: Born Again, The Crucible and endless critical reading on The Crucible, Much Ado About Nothing, Northanger Abbey, and am in middle of Sense and Sensibility. Everything has been highly excellent and this is promising to be a most enjoyable, albeit extremely busy, semester.

Yay! :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reasons why I wish I was still in Israel

1. The unparalleled feeling of comfort I experience even if I'm in a neighborhood I've never seen before.

2. Israeli soldiers ;).

3. The awesome jewelry stores.

4. The purity.

5. Everyone's Jewish. Even though the ridiculous amount of communal division breaks my heart, the land is full of Jews.

6. I actually lost weight on this trip! Where I was staying was down a rather large hill . . . so anytime I wanted to get anywhere, it was a trek.

7. My friends who live there.

8. Knowing that the country is the holiest place on Earth, even if you don't always feel it.

9. Egged buses. Even the ones that only come every twenty minutes so you're forced to wait in the freezing cold as your extremities become rapidly more and more numb.

10. Being in a place where both the physical and spiritual armies are hard at work. I firmly believe that the success of the Israeli army is correlated to the amount of Torah studied in Israel, and that yeshiva students have just as important a job as soldiers in defending the land when both jobs are executed with sincerity and a genuine desire to protect the land that G-d gave the Jews. That Torah study has merit on its own goes [almost] without saying.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Vacation surprise

I received the most wonderful gift from my parents a couple days ago: a trip to Israel.

I'm going with my mother to see my sister who is in seminary, and to run errands and visit people. I cannot tell you how unbelievably thrilled I am to be going back to Israel. Just the thought of being able to walk the streets of the holiest land on earth gives me chills and makes me feel a little teary.

I almost can't believe that I'm going back to the land where I experienced so much confusion and inner upheaval. Except that now I'm coming back as a different person, with a much greater sense of herself. I'm actually really looking forward to going on my own terms this time. I'm not afraid to show the people who remember me as I was a few years ago what I have become and how my thought processes have changed. I'm ready for that. I'm ready to be unabashedly myself.

Ahh, Israel.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Time for a happy post!

So, in honor of finals, I present a dose of tongue-in-cheek student humor:







Thursday, January 3, 2008

panic panic panic

I am so ridiculously unprepared for my finals today that I would cry if I wasn't so tired.