Monday, December 29, 2008
This year, as I've been doing my yearly reflection, I've come to realize how amazing this year really was for me. I've done and experienced so much, and personally, I hope 2009 can even just match 2008 in that aspect. Here are some highlights from my life in 2008:
I went on my first trip to Israel; a trip that has changed me forever. I took trips to Philadelphia, Lehigh, Florida and New Jersey. I traveled alone, with family, with friends and with people who started off as strangers, but have become life-long confidants. I went on dates. I dated. And since 2008 did not bring my soul mate to me, I will continue my dating excapades in 2009. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends and lost some others along the way. I planned, organized and ran tons of events at work. I learned a lot about my job. I learned a lot about myself. I stood up for myself and doubted myself. I helped welcome new life into the world, and watched as life was taken away much too soon. I experienced joy and heartache; happiness and sadness. And all in all, I had a very full year. A year that helped me grow and change. A year that will shape the next year to come.
My hope for everyone in the new year is to really, truly live life. Experience all you can. Learn and grow from all your experiences, whatever they may be. Take time to tell those who matter to you that you love them. Take time to think and reflect on your life. Take care of yourself and take care of others. Live your life. Love your life. Happy new year!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
My problem is that I get bored. I admit it - I currently have three half-finished scarfs sitting in my knitting bin at home. After a while, I'm ready to start a new pattern - done with the one I've been doing for weeks. I have completed a handful of scarves, but nothing too thrilling. However, last week, I finally finished my first ever baby blanket. It took me two months and one day, but I finished it, and I loved it. It was pink and soft and just delicious (see picture below, with my adorable dog laying on my bed in the background). My mom was concurrently knitting one as well - a similar pattern, with similar colors, but she finished hers in half the time. We made them for a friend of mine at work who is having twin baby girls, and she really, truly loved them. Her appreciation made all the hard work completely worth it.
And now I am on to my next project. Ironically, I began a new scarf, even though the unfinished three lay sadly in my room. Eventually I will finish them all, I promise. I might also start another blanket. We'll see, and I think I'll continue to post my progress on all these projects - it's good motivation.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Yesterday I joined eHarmony. I actually buckled down and paid for a three-month subscription. (There was a very-discounted special going on.) I really think the addition of someone special in my life would help propel me forward, hopefully in a direction I'd like to be going. I've been on Jdate forever, with luck here and there, but nothing that lasted. And lately, I just see the same guys on there over and over again. So I decided it was time for some fresh faces. But here comes the dilemma I have. Most of the Jewish guys I see on eHarmony are the same guys I see on Jdate! So, I decided to expand my pool of "matches" by accepting not only Jewish men, but also "spiritual, but not religious" guys. I struggled with this decision for a while, and went back and forth several times. Is it absolutely necessary for me to date, and ultimately marry, someone Jewish? I've dated Jews and non-Jews alike, but over the past year or so, decided I definitely needed to be with someone Jewish. My trip to Israel cemented this idea. But yesterday I found myself struggling with this concept again. I'm still unsure as to whether I should reduce my pool of potential suiters by only accepting someone Jewish.
After all this inner turmoil, I decided to finally finish the book I've been reading - The Magic Touch by Gila Manolson. I bought this book several months ago to try to understand the concept of shomer negiah, or abstaining from touch with the opposite sex. It always seemed pretty extreme and crazy to me, but this book made it all make so much sense, and I suggest everyone read it. I'm not sure I could make that commitment, especially in the society I live in today, but it is a wonderful and extremely smart idea. I've always believed in taking it slow in a relationship, and even feel that kissing someone is a very serious thing. In one of my very first blog posts, I discussed how I always felt out of place among a generation of people taking physical affection and sex very lightly, and how the idea of bashert, soul mates, connected me to a solid idea that was always there, but I never knew existed. This is sort of how I felt while reading The Magic Touch. Being shomer negiah makes finding your soul mate much less confusing. It takes away the complicated physical aspect of a relationship and almost forces you to really get to know your partner. It allows for a deeper and more real connection than would be possible when physicality gets in the way. The author explained that even a pat on the back or holding someone's hand causes you to feel something, make a judgement, which would cloud the real, true connection between two people. Touch is a powerful thing, and while it is wonderful and special, it could be misleading and hurtful in the long run if it's not with the right person. Plus abstaining from touch makes even a hug with your husband or wife that much more amazing and special when it happens. In theory, this all makes so much sense to me, but being the affectionate person I am, I just don't think I'm willing to give up holding hands or great, big hugs with a friend of the opposite sex or a future boyfriend, even if they might cloud my judgement and hurt my feelings after the moment is over.
I could go on and on about this for days, but overall I no longer think it's a completely absurd idea. Even though it is a fairly extreme life choice, it does make a lot of sense. And I think there could be other levels, or shades, of the idea that might be more practical in today's society in America. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a happier and healthier romantic life in the long run? Who wouldn't want to find a real, deep connection with someone? I know I would. And while I don't quite know how this idea of shomer negiah will fit in to my life, its basic principles will definitely be in my mind if and when I find someone I want to date. For now, I'm on the look-out. Know any smart, cute, single, Jewish guys looking for a smart, cute, single, Jewish girl?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The one aspect of the event I didn't love was being sick. With so many events the past few weeks, the women in my office are all run down. And on Monday I guess I caught the cold that everyone has. So I have that going for me. And on top of that, it's my bad migraine time of the month. Of course. So I've had three migraines this week between the two huge events we had (last Saturday night was our Alumni Reunion). Not fun. Pretty inconvenient timing if you ask me.
Events like this make up for days when I'm sitting through a less-than-exciting speaker or setting up a conference about subjects I could care less about. This is the kind of stuff I want to do all the time. Going to different venues. Working with catering staff. Planning menus. Making seating charts. Setting up tables. Watching people having a great time. One day it will happen. Just call me curleegirlee, wedding planner to the stars.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Ready for some vast generalizations? Here we go. I think among young people, Obama is the man. We can relate to him more, he's a great speaker, he represents the change we all desperately want. But is he ready to lead our troubled country? And then there's the older set who generally see McCain as an experienced politician who knows what he's doing. He also represents change, since he is trying to distance himself from the very unpopular George W. Bush, yet he's still a Republican, and he has voted with Bush time and time again. Both want to help our economy, but through different means. Both want to cut taxes, but in different ways. Both have underlying Democratic or Republican ideals, but with their own twists. Both have vice presidential running mates with, in my opinion, more negatives than positives to offer.
Sadly enough I also think race is an issue in this race (no pun intended). Whether they admit it or not, I think there are a lot of racist people in this country. Some may not even consider themselves racist, but have an underlying belief that Obama simply cannot be the leader of our country. I also worry that if he is elected President, that there will be a lot of assasination attempts. Presidents in general are huge targets because there are crazy people in this world, who have very strong ideas and who simply hate "the man." ("Damn the man!!") So with Obama, add the race card on top of the power card, and we could have a major problem on our hands.
Who knows. These are just my very simple thoughts. I don't get crazy into politics. I can't have a heated debate about it. I admittedly don't know where each candidate stands on every single issue. But I just hope one of these men can help our economy, help our environment and ultimately save our country. I guess we'll see tonight! Everyone vote vote vote!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Richard Bailey was shot in the head and killed this week in Albany, NY, just blocks from his off-campus house and the downtown campus of the University of Albany. He was 22 years old and eight weeks away from graduating college and becoming a New York City Police Officer. His life was cut short. Way too short. While Bailey wasn't a good friend of mine, I did grow up with him. We went through school together from Gardiner's Avenue Elementary School to General Douglas MacArthur High School. He was athletic and funny and popular. Everyone knew Bailey, and he knew everyone.
So why him? I don't know. There are no suspects; no motives. But more in a fate sort of way, why him? If he had left his friend's house 15 minutes later, would he still be alive today? If he had been walking with someone else, would the bullet have missed? Or was it just meant to be that this happened to him? In times like this I think it's tough to figure it all out. I try to believe everything happens for a reason, but when something this horrible and seemingly tragic occurs, I have a really difficult time justifying that philosophy. Was this in fact natural? All part of God's plan? I don't know if I can genuinely believe that, but I'm trying because I feel sad. So sad. Not only because a great person I knew was killed, but also because it seems like it really could have been anyone. Brian goes to the University of Albany and lives there. It could have been him. Vic walks home on the weekends in Morristown. It could have been her. Katie and Jill were just in LA, where they walked places. It could have been them. It could have been you. And it could have been me.
I'm not condoning staying inside all the time, and being hyper cautious to avoid any potentially dangerous situations. I almost feel the opposite. Life is so short, and we need to live as much as possible every single day. We need to tell those who mean something to us that we love them. We need to smile and laugh, and help others to do the same. We need to get out of bed every morning, because we can. Because we're alive. Because we're the lucky ones.
My heart goes out to Bailey's family and friends. He will be missed and never forgotten.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
We still got to Penn a little late, so I had to run through the station to get to NJ Transit to catch my 4:50 Dover Express to Summit, where Vic can pick me up straight from work. This train skips all stops before Summit, so it's only a 35-minute ride, which is great. I figured I'd pay the $5 extra, and just get the ticket on the train, rather than miss it completely. As I get down the steps at track 4 at 4:45, I am amazed at how packed every train car is. I go all the way down to the end and see no where to squeeze in. Hot, sweating and red-faced, I am determined to find a spot for me and my suitcase. I head back down the length of the train and see my space - barely enough room to get in, but I'm on. Turns out, this train has been changed to be a Dover Local, rather than the Express. A NJ Transit train had broken down earlier, so this train included two trains worth of people. It was insane. I stood in between train cars the entire 50-minute ride, squished in between other commuters trying to get home after a long day at work. All I wanted was to hear "Summit - next station," and get to Vic as soon as possible. What a stressful day of travel.
Even with the rocky start, the weekend turned out to be so wonderful. Celebrated Vic's 23rd birthday all weekend long. We ate at our favorite places in Morristown, and some new places nearby. I met some of Vic's Morristown friends. We went to Morristown bars - Sona Thirteen (?), The Office, The Grasshopper and George & Martha's. We did some amazing people-watching. We played drinking games at Vic's, and felt like we were back in college. We got hit on by married men in wedding parties. We laughed...a lot. And we had a great time.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
And yet I spend most of my free time shopping. I guess I don't actually buy all that much though. It's more the going shopping that I'm addicted to. And often I think I make up the things I'm looking for in my mind, and these pieces don't actually exist. Other times I find exactly what I'm looking for, but with a price tag that grossly exceeds my budget.
I've been on the seemingly never-ending search for oversized sweaters and cardigans. Also, I'd really like more plaid shirts and long sweater vests. And ankle boots.
Oh what it'd be like to have unlimited funds and unlimited time.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
But that's not even what bothers me really. My gripes are two-fold. First of all, if you're not very religious, and there is one day of the year that you're going to go to temple, Yom Kippur is it. Why? Why only go to synagogue on a solemn day? Maybe this is why so many Jews see going to temple in a negative light. Shouldn't we try to show temple in the best way possible; as a wonderful and joyous place to meet with your community and share the service?
My other issue is why do we have a set day to repent for our sins? I mean, I know there is a reason based on Jewish teachings, but I just don't agree. Shouldn't we repent when we feel we need to repent, rather than do it just because we're told today is the day? I also don't think starving yourself for 24 hours erases your sins from the past year. Although I guess it's not the actual fasting that allows us to repent, but rather the suffering it causes that makes us evaluate our actions, thoughts and feelings of the past year.
While I don't partake in Yom Kippur by fasting, I do think it's a good time reflect, repair wounds that need repairing and let those you love know it. So this Yom Kippur I'm going to start to make positive changes and choices in my life, and begin the new year on a good note. For those of you who are fasting, I hope you have an easy fast. To everyone else, I hope you can take this time to do some self-evaluation and begin your year in the best way possible.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The first is a thought-provoking clip brought to you by Jacob Da Jew:
And the second is just a fun and cute little video:
Shana Tova - Happy New Year!! May the year ahead bring happiness and good fortune to all!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
However, before that, I have the doctor on Wednesday (ick!) and a big conference I have to work on Friday - not such great things. But even before that, I have Rosh Hashanah, which I am definitely looking forward to. Two and a half days off of work, cooking and eating, and spending time with the family. In keeping with my new-found appreciation and love for Jewish traditions, we're doing a few things this year that we've never done before. Round challah, symbolizing the circle of life, although we're buying, not making this (we have too many other things to cook and bake!). Apples dipped in honey, apple cake, sweet potatoes and carrots (all home made) for a good and sweet year ahead.
I'm also looking forward to going to the Mets game with my dad tomorrow. Not only is it going to be an extra exciting game since it's the last regular-season game at Shea Stadium ever, but it's a very important game that will decide if the Mets are in the playoffs or not. Big game! The stadium is going to be really packed, and I think the atmosphere will be amazing. It should be a really cool and fun day, so I hope the rain holds out for us. Let's go Mets!!
I really have a lot of things to look forward to. How great is that? Sometimes, life is so hectic and crazy, and there are not-so-fun or bad things going on, that you forget the good aspects. While there are certainly things that get me down and I feel bad about lately, I have a lot of wonderful things going on as well. And now is the perfect time to look back on the past year and think about all that has happened, all you've done, all the good and the bad. It's a time to make improvements and changes for the new year. I'll definitely be doing a lot of thinking this week (really, when am I not?), and making some goals and wishes for the year ahead. What will you be doing this Rosh Hashanah?
Friday, September 19, 2008
There is definitely an excitement I feel on days or nights of events. I love to see all the hard work I put in to something come to life. Even if I get yelled at for little things that may go slightly wrong, and I'm often not thanked properly for all the things I did right, I know in my heart I did a great job. All of the events I've helped plan so far have been successful, well-attended and well-liked.
So anyway, while I've had time to post during the day over the past few months, I don't think that will be the case for the upcoming months. I'll definitely have a lot to share though, so I'm hoping to get some good weekend blogging in.
P.S. - Last night I finished the Nicholas Sparks book Nights in Rodanthe, which was recently made into a movie starring Richard Gere (who I just love) and Diane Lane, coming out in theaters on September 26. Amazing. What a romantic, yet tragic, story. If you are a sucker for romance, I would definitely recommend reading this book. I'm a pretty slow reader, but I finished this one in less than a week, probably because I had a tough time putting it down at night. It was so touching, yet also relatable to pretty much anyone who has ever been in love. Really, it was a great book, and I am very excited for the movie - anyone want to come see it with me?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Take, for example, NKOTB, better known as New Kids On The Block. Crazy-popular, drool-worthy boy band of the late 80s/early 90s. Teenage girls around the world went absolutely nuts over Jordan, Joey, Donnie, Danny and Jon singing and dancing along to songs like "The Right Stuff" and "Hangin' Tough." They were marketing dreams with pillow cases, lunchboxes, notebooks and posters ripped off shelves, and sold-out concerts across the country. While they certainly weren't the first "boy band," they definitely helped pave the way for groups like Backstreet Boys, N'Sync and 98 Degrees, who all enjoyed popularity in the mid/late 90s. Now that was my era. I was just a little too young to obsess over NKOTB, but the guys of N'Sync were mine. I instantly fell in love with their simple, fun, catchy tunes and "in sync" dance moves. I was a little more than obsessed, and still listen to their albums often, as well as the solo ventures of Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. I bought apparel, merchandise and concert tickets (I won't admit to how many show I went to, or how much money I've spent on them over the years, but it's a lot). When they finally get back together, I'll be the first in line for their CD and concert tickets. I'll be waiting for that day.
But for now, here I am writing this blog, listening to "The Block," the latest come-back album from none other than NKOTB. I am a 22-year-old college graduate with a fairly extensive musical repertoire, and I can't help but sing along to songs called "Sexify My Love," "Big Girl Now" and "Twisted." Now I'm not saying that songs with lines like "You go hit the lights, I'll set up the camera, Let's get to the action" are going to go down in history as classics, but they are so fun and enjoyable. A little dirty maybe. But what's wrong with that? They really aren't "kids" anymore (four of the five members even have children of their own!), and their fans have grown up too. Would I want my 13-year-old niece or nephew listening to these lyrics? Probably not. Will they want to listen to it? Probably yes. But alas, these are the times we live in. Boy bands sing raunchier songs. Female pop singers dress sluttier. Vice Presidential candidates have 17-year-old pregnant daughters. We don't live in a wholesome world anymore.
But I've digressed. Moral of the story? Boy bands will always be around in some form or another. And I will always love them.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I did have a house guest this weekend, so maybe that contributed to my tiredness. If so, it was completely worth it. It was great to have Vic stay the weekend with me on Long Island, even if we did have an unwanted visit by Tropical Storm Hanna. Our plan to test our friendship despite battling baseball rivalries at the Mets/Phillies game on Saturday was rained out, and so were our plans to do anything else at all. So, Saturday was spent doing a little shopping while we experienced the calm before the storm, and then an evening of movie-watching, pizza-making, J-dating and TV-viewing. What can I say? We're wild and crazy kids. Sunday morning we woke up to an absolutely beautiful day, and we made our way to Shea Stadium for the rescheduled game. It was certainly a hot one out there when we arrived and found our seats were right in the bright sun. After about an hour, though, the sun moved and we were hidden and cooled by the shade. And even though the Mets lost pretty badly, it was still a great day, and Vic and I had a great time together. (And my boys pulled through to win the night game that evening!)
My next weekend trip is to Lehigh for Young Alumni Weekend Oct. 3-5, which I'm definitely looking forward do. I like having plans for mini-vacations and visits. Now that I'm not in school and don't have semesters or endings to count down to, it helps me to plan things to look forward to. If not, I sort of feel like I'm losing my mind with no end, no special things in sight. After that weekend, though, I have nothing planned. So who wants me to come visit?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I realized this for the first time on Sunday while I was on a date. This date wasn't too bad for the most part - we met in the city, went to the Dali exhibit at MOMA, got some coffee and walked around Central Park. Nothing spectacular, but not awful as far as dates go. However, the date made a horrible turn for the worst when this guy, who I met on Jdate (yes, I'm on Jdate - and not ashamed to admit it), drove me to a random street corner on the upper east side and pulled over. He told me he thought I could get on a subway there and find my way back to Penn Station where I had to catch a train back to Long Island. He gave me a really hard time when I asked if he could drive me back to Penn Station instead, since I wasn't comfortable getting on a subway I've never been on before, so I felt guilty for pushing the idea any more. After sitting in the passengers seat and complaining for a few minutes more, I said "thanks for leaving me in the middle of no where" and got out of the car. Was he serious? Was this really happening? He's going to come running out of the car behind me, say he's just joking and make me get back in, right? No. Tell me: Am I totally out of line being mad and upset over this? I don't know, but to me, even if you didn't have a good time on the date, the decent and gentlemanly thing to do would be to drive me back to Penn Station when I said I felt uncomfortable going on this random subway (which didn't bring me straight to Penn Station, I must add). Maybe I was just expecting too much - you tell me.
Anyway, during the date (before it went horribly wrong), while we were sitting on a park bench he asked me, "Are you usually this awkwardly quiet?" And it sort of hit me - I was being awkwardly and uncharacteristically quiet. I found that I wasn't my usual talkative, bubbly self. Maybe it was him, but I'm more inclined to believe that normally I could blabber on to a brick wall, so it must be me. It made me feel upset and confused. Why am I just not myself lately? And how can I snap out of it?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This weekend I reflected a lot. There is a lot on my mind; a lot I've been thinking about. Yet somehow, I can't seem to get a single thought out of my mouth or onto paper. I think it would be very good for me to verbalize my thoughts and feelings of the moment, not for the sake of anyone hearing it (or reading it in this case), but just to get it out of my head and into the world.
But nothing. I can't seem to sort through all the thoughts floating around all jumbled up together in my head. It feels similar to a writer's block, but more like a life block. Just stuck. Not sure where to go, what to say, how to feel, what to do or how to do it.
Has anyone else gone through a period of time like this?
Friday, August 22, 2008
So, Shabbat Shalom! And I'll be back with stories to tell and pictures to post on Sunday night.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
It was great to see Esther K. of My Urban Kvetch and JDaters Annonymous, since those are two blogs I've actually read before. Also, "ck" of Jewlicious was there and definitely had some great things to say about the Blogosphere and the influence of Jewlicious on young Jewish Americans, which I definitely agreed with. Jewlicious was one of the first "jblogs" I read. All of those who contribute to the blog write very freely, and each have their own unique experiences, opinions and points of view - I enjoy it very much.
I think my favorite speaker of the entire convention was Treppenwitz. I've never checked out his blog before, but now I definitely will. I thought he was a great speaker - definitely captivated the audience - and he had interesting things to say about the blogging community. I thought Frum Satire was also very funny and relatable, which I think was important at a convention reaching people all across the world and of many different backgrounds.
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister of Israel and current Leader of the Opposition, spoke for way too long and got way off topic. I'm still not completely sure why he was there, but then again, I turned off the sound about half-way through his portion of the evening, so maybe he did have some sort of blogging connection in there (Yes, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.)
The last presentation I caught before I had to leave was Zavi Apfelbaum from the Foreign Ministry. I at first had trouble connecting her lecture about brand management to blogging, but by the end, it all made sense to me. While most people don't think of brand management for another other than companies or products, it's also important for countries. And as Jewish Bloggers, it's part of our unofficial job to create an image, or a "brand," that is real, honest and truthful. We need to show people who don't know much about Israel, Israelis or even Jewish people, what it's about. It's not all about the war zone and religion - it's about a culture, tradition, history, community and so much more. When I was in Israel, I have never felt more welcomed, and by complete strangers. The people I met in Israel were helpful, caring, warm and generous. Yes, you do see soldiers everywhere you go. Yes, people do carry weapons around. Yes, war is a constant there. But there is so much more about Israel that many people in other countries don't see - and we jbloggers need to be part of the effort to show the other side of the story.
So after that, I tuned out, and I'm a little disappointed I missed Benji Lovitt of What War Zone? because I think he is very funny and I enjoy the perspective of a non-orthodox American Jew living in Israel. Maybe I'll watch the end of the video another day.
The chatroom discussions were also great, and I think I've made a few new blogging friends through it all. I'll definitely be tuning in to Jacob Da Jew and Lady Light and all the others I traded URLs with. It was nice meeting you all, and I hope we can meet up again soon!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
E is for...
Thursday, August 14, 2008
These are the things I really love about Judaism and Jewish culture/traditions/feelings. I never knew anything about Tu B'av before today, but now that I've been discovering more about my Jewish heritage, I'm finding more and more aspects I like and agree with - who knew? I don't think I'll ever be super-religious, nor do I really want to be, but I don't think that's necessary in order to be connected to the Jewish community. I've been reading a ton of Jewish blogs, and have registered to attend the live webcast of the First International Jewish Bloggers Convention. I feel more connected than ever, but find myself wanting so much more. I don't necessarily feel like I want to go to temple but I want to know about these Jewish holidays, I want to learn Hebrew, I want to know the stories of my ancestors. It's hard, dare-I-say impossible, to go from a very, very reform Jew to a Jewish expert overnight, so I guess I need to take things one step at a time. Reading Jewish blogs such as Jewlicious and Jspot and Jewesses With Attitude are the first step I think. I've been trying to find Hebrew classes to take, but the local community colleges don't have night classes, and local adult education programs don't have Hebrew as a language choice. But that is definitely my next project - maybe I'll buy those Rosetta Stone tapes (mental note: look up Rosetta Stone tomorrow).
Eventually, I'd like to take Bat Mitzvah lessons and finally have my Bat Mitzvah. I think that will definitely help me feel more connected to Judaism and the Jewish community, but I want to wait until I have the time to commit to something like that.
You don't have to be religious to be Jewish. That is the main thing I'm coming to realize. I have always felt less Jewish because I was not religious, but now I don't feel that way at all. Maybe people will disagree, but to me, being Jewish is more about a sense of community, a common background, a common history, a shared upbringing, and less about religious beliefs. I know I feel strongly about these common threads among Jews, and have always enjoyed and cherished the Jewish traditions, values and feelings my parents always taught us. And I don't have to go to temple or be a religious person to feel that way. But I do have to learn more, everyday, in order to pass these traditions and values on and to keep the Jewish-American community alive. I am Jewish, hear me roar!!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
A creative team, selected from many proposals, began work on this ceremony back in 2006 - and I can believe it would take years to develop such an incredible event. I'm actually surprised it didn't take longer! According to the official web site of the Beijing Olympic Games, "The concept of a 'painting scroll' emerged and most of the original program ideas unfolded around it, forming the artistic concept of 'displaying the world on a small square,' demonstrating the progress of blending Chinese culture with world culture." Eventually, after many different ideas were thrown around, they decided on what would become by far my favorite part of the ceremony. As part of one of the performances, Chinese artists drew a beautiful, yet simple, landscape scene on a scroll of paper. Later, during the parade of nations, every person who walked in the parade walked through different colors of ink and then over the bottom half of the scroll. Every athletes' footprints blended together, almost as one. This was so incredible and beautiful to me - I get chills just thinking about it.
There were tons of other very symbolic and amazing parts of the opening ceremony, including 2008 drummers performing on drums that lit up when hit to form incredible patterns from above. There were also 2008 martial art masters, forming a perfect circle around the center scroll, with no lines drawn on the ground to go by. They moved in and out of formation flawlessly. There was 60 performers suspended by wires walking, jumping and flipping around a model earth - some sideways, and some upside down. There were musical performances, including Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan singing the office song of the 2008 Olympic Games, "You and Me," and firework displays, beginning with "footprints" leading through Beijing all the way to the National Stadium, the "Birds Nest."
The way all of these performances and displays looked from a bird's eye view is what amazed me the most. Every light, every movement was timed perfectly to form different patterns and shapes seen from above. The creative team behind the opening ceremony really thought every little detail through, and conceptualized something that I can't even begin to wrap my brain around.
Unfortunately, I fell asleep about an hour before the ceremony concluded, but what I got to see was absolutely amazing. Those few hours of television I watched on 8-8-08 will stay with me for a very long time, and I think that sentiment is felt by many people, all around the world. The Olympic Games bring together athletes from 204 different countries from all the corners of the world. They put aside wars, politics, disagreements, and come together to compete for bronze, silver and gold medals. It's such a simple idea, yet very complex, and I think the 2008 opening ceremonies in Beijing really captured this idea so perfectly and so beautifully.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Matt and Adam named their camel Cecil, which is definitely quite a masculine name for a girl, but hey, it's a "c" so it works. Here is a picture (taken by Jeanine) of the boys looking a lot like lovebirds, in their matching white tees. Cute guys, very cute.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Michelle Branch live in concert at the Cardinal Health RBC 2008 in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, July 26. I admit it - I ran a little bit to get us 4th row center seats, but it was so worth it. She sounded great live, and I really loved that she made it a family affair. Her husband is her bass player and her sister, Nicole, sang back-up.
The beach in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Jun 14. It was incredibly hot, so everyone rents umbrellas to stay a bit cooler. Since we were out-of-towners, we did not know this unwritten rule, and we baked and broiled in the hot desert sun.
Box it up! While we were in Hispin, in the Golan Heights, we had a bit of a scary surprise when our Israeli soldier friends made us go through a sort of boot camp on Thursday, June 16. We had to stand in three straight and even lines, without talking or moving. Then we were told to "box it up," which meant to stand in an even, three-sided box formation...without any communication between us. The kids of Mayanot 41 clearly weren't meant to be soldiers, and we had a really tough time figuring this out. Since we had an odd number of people, the soldiers made poor Matt go down into a push-up position in the center for a while (seen in the first photo). It took us quite a while, but we finally got it down after a lot of yelling and discipline.
This was a very frightening experience for me, and I think for a lot of the others as well. It made me realize how tough it is being someone our age living in Israel. At the age of 18, every Israeli citizen must be a part of the Israeli army. They go straight from high school to the army, and then go to college after their years in the army are up. Not everyone is in combat, but everyone goes through the training similar to what we went through that night, but much more and much tougher. Despite the danger and hard work, all of the soldiers said they were proud to be a part of the army. They all felt it was their duty as Israeli citizens and were glad to serve their country. Yarden, who is a sniper trainer, said she didn't feel scared and she loved being in the army. She said she grew up knowing the army would be a part of her life, and it's almost like a right of passage for Israelis. Meiran explained that while it is an obligation, most people don't feel forced into joining the army - they want to serve their country and they feel honored to be a part of the Israeli army.
It's amazing how similar they were to us when we were all just hanging out at night and visiting the various places in Israel, talking about family, friends, relationships, parties and traveling, yet how we are really worlds apart. This feeling of obligation toward your country isn't something most people have in America. I can't imagine having to join the army at 18 - I would be absolutely terrified. But it just shows how different it is growing up in Israel versus America. Our lives are completely different, even though we share many similarities. I loved getting to know our new Israeli friends and realizing all the similarities and differences. How would my life be different if I grew up in Israel? And who would I be today?
Monday, July 28, 2008
My current job as the special events coordinator for a law school is a great starting point. It's my first real job out of college, and I've been there for over a year now. I'm getting a ton of event-planning experience, meeting a lot of really wonderful people and truly learning what goes into planning and running different types of events. But for the past few months, I realize this is not my be-all end-all. I am working in the development office, and what we do is alumni relations and fundraising. I don't want to be a fundraiser. Definitely not. I didn't know that when I started. I also didn't know my job would be so directly related to fundraising when I started. But I guess that's what jobs are about - especially in the beginning. We learn what we want and don't want to be doing. We learn what we're good at and what takes a little more effort. We learn about different types of bosses and co-workers. We learn what's worth it and what is definitely not. We learn. And we hopefully continue to learn and grow until we're ready to retire.
I guess I always knew I wanted to write. I did major in journalism in college, after all. But I definitely don't want to be a journalist. No no. Getting "the scoop," interviewing experts, constantly being on short deadlines, reporting at the very lowest level (and for the very lowest pay) - definitely not for me. But I truly just love to write. Write about what I know and what I'm interested in. Write about learning. Write about discovering. Write about life.
So now what? I want to write. Who cares? A million other people in this world want to write - and are really great at it. How can I get out there and really affect people with what I have to say and how I say it? I don't know. I guess it's time to try and find out.
(Any suggestions, connections or help are whole-heartedly welcome.)
Monday, July 14, 2008
On a whole other stalking level, my mom and I went to the Daryl Hall concert last Tuesday night at the Capital One Theater at Westbury aka Westbury Music Fair. Yes, Daryl Hall, as in one half of the group Hall & Oates. No one panic - they have not broken up. Both are just doing a few solo dates playing some songs from their solo CDs and of course, some of their classics. Now, being the Hall & Oates groupies that my mom and I are, we've seen them in concert many, many times over the years. This was the first time we saw one without the other, and I have to say, it was still a really great show. Of course, John Oates was missed, but Daryl played so many obscure songs that I love, but have never heard live, including "When The Morning Comes" and "I'm in a Philly Mood."
The stalker aspect of the evening came after the encore was over and all the applause died down. We decided to go around to the back of the theater and stand with about 10 others by the back stage door. We waited for about a half hour, I said "hi" to Zev, his bass player, and finally I see that full head of blonde hair starting to walk out the door. (He's 62. How does he still have a full head of long hair? Hmm.) Daryl was immediately pushed into his "getaway car" and only gave a quick wave, as seen here by my excellent photography skills. This was the closest I've ever been to him and let me tell you, it was exciting. But, we were pretty disappointed that he couldn't have stayed a little bit, shaken some hands and taken some pictures with the 10-15 people who were waiting to see him. I mean, he's not exactly a new act anymore, and while Hall & Oates is still very popular (we've seen them at sold out shows at the Beacon Theatre in NYC), their fan base is certainly dwindling from what it used to be. He should be thrilled to have fans who want to meet him, and should take a few minutes to at least say "hi." Oh well - it was still exciting, a great concert and a ton of fun. I'm so glad my mom and I are able to do these things together, and I have to say, we've been pretty good at keeping up our stalking abilities through the years. Who knows? You could be the next victim...
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Out of all the cities we visited, Tzfat gave me the best feeling inside. Of course, I loved the excitement and history of Jerusalem, and the beauty of the Golan Heights, but there was something about the calmness of Tzfat that really drew me in. We walked through narrow alleyways, spent time in ancient synagogues and visited with local artists. Everyone and everything had a very laidback nature. We had a small amount of time to go out on our own and do some shopping. It's nothing like New York, where you drive to a strip mall, stopping at various stores along the way. Here, there are dozens of open-door shops along one of the ancient cobblestone roads, owners standing right at the door, or sitting at a desk in the entryway. From paintings and jewelry made by local artists, to beautifully decorated mezuzahs and menorahs, to cheesy tourist gifts, there was a little touch of everything there. I think another reason I really fell in love with Tzfat was because I finally found the mezuzah I've been searching for there. It's just perfect for me, and it matches my room at home spot on. I also found a really beautiful oil painting of a Tzfat scene that I bought, probably for way too much money. But as I said the entire trip, "Just do it! We're in Israel!"
Tzfat was also where Roni met her husband, Rabbi Sneiderman. She told us a truly touching story about how they met, being set up not once, but twice, and by two completely different matchmakers in two different regions of the world. This is all part of the idea of "bashert" or soulmates. I had no idea that this idea was written about in the Talmud and is a part of Jewish tradition, yet it's something I've always felt strongly about. Roni explained that according to the Talmud, "Forty days prior to the formation of a child, a Heavenly Voice cries out saying 'the daughter of so and so is destined for so and so.'" She explained that essentially, you and your soulmate are two halves to the same original whole. According to chabad.org, "Every body is occupied by half a soul, and both body and soul only reach a state of completion when they are reunited with their bashert, their long-lost other half." What a beautiful, amazing, huge concept. I can't even wrap my brain around it completely, it's so huge.
Because of this idea, dating is not to be taken lightly in the least. Instead, it is a very serious and careful matter - you're trying to find your soulmate, afterall! This is an idea and feeling I think has been lost in Western society over the years, which is terribly sad to me. Listening to Roni talk so passionately about being so careful who you choose to date, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. "This is me," I thought to myself. This is how I've always felt about dating and guys and my life. All these years, I felt like no one could relate or understand how I felt, and finally I had an answer, a basis, for all of it.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
But back to my original thought - Saturday night in Jerusalem. Drinking and shopping on Ben Yehuda Street and dancing all night long in a small, sweaty bar the next street over. I felt something I really haven't felt in a long time - stress-free, worry-free, unrestricted fun. All 40 of us mayanot 41 birthrighters, plus some of our new Israeli friends who met us out that night after sadly leaving the group on Thursday, squished onto the tiny dance floor already packed with locals. We sang and danced and drank and sweated for hours - and it was wonderful; perfect even. As I'm dancing with Matt pressed up against the bright red wall, sheetrock crumbling down in the corner, friends old and new all around me, I thought to myself, "I need this."
I don't know why having this kind of fun is something so hard for me to do in my everyday life, but when I finally just let go that night in Jerusalem, I had the time of my life. I guess I was able to do it partly because I felt the safety of the group of 40 people I had grown to trust and love over the course of 10 days. At home, I have one, maybe two, people I can go out with and trust. Pretty sad, but I guess that's just reality. In life, I prefer to have a few really close friends whom I care about and know care about me. But for situations like going to a club or a bar, going into the city or doing anything I'm not too comfortable with (which happens to be a lot of things), a large group of friends would be really nice. Maybe I've found that in mayanot 41. At least I hope so.
Time to organize a reunion. ASAP. I need to dance.
Monday, June 30, 2008
I'm going to break it down, because that's something crazy people like me do. The phrase "work in progress" has all sorts of connotations - continually improving and changing, moving forward, incomplete, unfinished. But if you break it down you see the word "progress" on its own means so much more - according to http://www.m-w.com/ (one of my favorite go-to web sites back in my Lehigh copy editing days), progress as a noun is first defined as "a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant" or "an expedition, journey, or march through a region." Wow, talk about heavy. And as an intransitive verb? "To develop to a higher, better, or more advanced stage." Progress - Great. Wonderful. Perfect little word. So there it is - I am a work in progress and I work in progress. (more to come on that later.)
Just in case I didn't thrill you with the breakdown of my blog title and you're not impressed by my wit, here are some other options I considered:
- cab driver, take me home
- she'll chew you up
- bareboned & crazy
- she screams in silence
Any takers? Any other suggestions? I am open to them, but the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced "work in progress" is perfect. Yeah. Progress. Aweeeeesome. (shoutout to mayanot 41!)