Wednesday, July 30, 2008

abc wednesdays - b

I've been browsing through some random blogs over the past couple of days, and yesterday I stumbled upon something called ABC Wednesdays (found here at I had never heard of this but apparently in the blogosphere this is a sort of photo game played by many bloggers. Every Wednesday bloggers post a photo with a caption that begins with that week's letter. This week's letter is "B." I'm going to try to post photos every wednesday, and I'm also going to try to use recent photos to keep things fresh. So here goes my first ABC Wednesday...

B is for...

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

when I grow up

I want to write. I decided that firmly today. It's what I think about doing the most and it's what makes me feel the most fulfilled in my daily life. Not that I've completely given up on my event planning career aspirations - I definitely still want to plan weddings and parties and maybe even fashion shows. But, I need to write. It's what keeps me going day to day, and it's what keeps me from going insane (or at least completely insane).

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

I can see you

I'm a stalker. Not really in a creepy kind of way, but in a want-to-know-as-much-as-possible-about-people kind of way. This is not really new information to most. I use Facebook to its fullest, Google everyone I get an e-mail from, read gossip Web sites like Perez Hilton and dlisted, and here's the kicker: My favorite reality TV show is Big Brother - the ultimate stalking outlet, where a group of strangers' lives are filmed 24/7 from within a set/house in California. This season, Big Brother 10, began Sunday night, and of course I was glued to my TV, "meeting" the new house guests. Big Brother is broadcasted three nights a week on CBS, but you can watch live feeds at any hour of any day. While I've watched every single season since the first, I haven't given in to subscribing to the live feeds - I think paying to watch people 24/7 might cross that line into stalker creepiness. I have to admit, however, that I do read what is going on on the live feeds at Morty's TV when I have the time. To most, the show is stupid or boring, but to me, it's so interesting to see the interactions between different types of people from different places in the country, of different age groups, who have had extremely different experiences in their lives. Also, it is a competition, so it's fun to watch how people "play the game," whether through alliances or playing it solo, lying or being honest, having a romance (or "bro"mance) or not being friendly to anyone. Everyone has their own strategy - some succeed, many fail. Above all, it's entertaining. And for the most part, it's all in good fun, so isn't that what TV should be about?

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


I'm having a hard time finding motivation at work today, a real hard time. I've gotten a fair amount of work done, but it's 3:15 p.m., and I'm pretty much over work for the day. Too bad I have about 2 hours left to be productive before the three-day Fourth of July weekend. So to fill some of that time, I'll post some pictures of interest, along with commentary, from my recent trip to Israel - more specifically, from our time spent in the mystical city of Tzfat.

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, "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.

Well, needless to say, after Roni finished her story, I completely lost it and starting pouring my eyes out, hugging Rachel as tight as I could and trying to pull myself together. I had many emotional experiences in Israel, but this was by far the most emotional, yet the most amazing, I felt the entire trip. Years from now, I may forget little things about my Birthright trip, but Roni's story, the story of soulmates and finding her soulmate, and the overwhelming connection and feelings I experienced, will stay with me forever. Like most wonderful things, it was unexpected, but it was more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

all she wants to do is dance

Two Saturdays ago (June 20, for anyone who wants to know), I was in Israel. More specifically, I was in Jerusalem. Let's just stop and think about that for a second. Less than two weeks ago, I was in Israel. My home. With my people. On the journey of a lifetime. Having the most amazing and memorable experience of my life with strangers who have become lifelong friends. And now? Back at work. On Long Island. Living with my parents. Doing the same thing I always did. Hmm. Maybe not doing the same thing. I am writing this blog, afterall, and I celebrated Shabbat last weekend for the first time at home ever, which was wonderful to be able to share with my mom. But overall, it's pretty much the same old, same old. But change takes time, right? And now that I've had this life-changing experience, I can consciously make an effort to not forget the feelings I had in Israel and to make those feelings part of my everyday existence. There's so much I want to do in my life, and now I realize I can and should do it all.

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.