Wednesday, August 27, 2008

abc wednesday

I was thinking about skipping my ABC Wednesday this week. I was actually pretty determined to not post today, and maybe not do ABC Wednesdays at all anymore. But then I thought about all the great blogs I've come across and new blogging friends I've met because of this weekly tradition. So I will continue on...

F is for...

Friends. I have to remember every single day the wonderful friends I have, and how much they truly mean to me. I am someone who doesn't have a TON of friends, and I honestly prefer it that way. The people I call my friends are true to me, they love me and I can always count on them no matter what - and vice versa. Above is a picture from this past weekend's trip to Philly with Rachel (on the right) and Candis (on the left). These are two of my very best friends from two very different parts of my life. I was so happy they were able to meet, and what was even better was that they really liked each other. We were also able to meet one of Rachel's best friends from college, Juliet (in the center of the photo), who was one of the sweetest, coolest, most beautiful girls I've ever met. It's really such a wonderful thing to have friends from different parts of your life come together and become friends themselves. Really special.

I'm not going to mention and post pictures all of my friends here today because I could really go on forever about how wonderful they are and how much they mean to me. Eventually you'll get to "meet" them through stories and photos, but those are for another time.

However, Vic is more than just a best friend to me, she's also my wife. Yes, you read correctly; I have a wife. On what is now known as the best day of my life, and what also happened to be Vic's birthday, Vic came up to me and whispered in my ear "we're married!" And from that day on, we've been wife and wife. Inseparable. Of course, we've had rocky points in our relationship, as any couple does, but we always remember that above all and no matter what, we are best friends. I would honestly be lost without her. She's been there for the good and the bad throughout college and now beyond. She even lets me vent to her about the most idiotic things, and never judges me (unless I ask her to, that is). We like to say we're the same person, because somehow we are almost always on the same wavelength. We've traveled to Italy together, gone on weekend trips, made visits to each other's hometowns and talk pretty much every single day, always ending conversations with a quick "love you" just to make sure the other one knows. Hey wife, if you're reading this, "love you always."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

time to reflect

I realized this weekend that I do a lot of self-reflection, and that it can come across as zoning out or being disinterested in what's going on around me. I'm not sure how I can change that, or if I even really want to change it. I am a very internal and reflective person, even if I do talk and write a lot. But I am constantly thinking about a million and one things at any given time. I just don't love to share all my thoughts at all times with all people. And I think that's OK. I think it's part of what makes me who I am.

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

i'm in a philly mood

Well, I'm off for a few days full of fun, friends and food in Philly. (Great alliteration, right?) Not only am I seeing my amazingly awesome roommate from my freshman year of college, Candis, but my traveling buddy and longtime camp friend, Rachel, is coming too! I'm really excited for two of my best friends to meet, and for all of us to spend the weekend together. We'll also hopefully have a mini-reunion with Matt and Adam from our birthright trip, who live in the Philly area. And, I'll get to meet one of Rachel's friends from college, Juliet. Phew! It's going to be a very full, but extremely fun weekend, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

So, Shabbat Shalom! And I'll be back with stories to tell and pictures to post on Sunday night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

jbloggers unite

I've been inspired to write a "post-conference" post after reading those of Jewlicious, DovBear, Frum Satire and many more. I am so glad I found out about the First International Jewish Bloggers Convention and was able to attend yesterday via live webcast (even if the video feed/sound did cut in and out a lot). I was secretly, or maybe not-so-secretly, listening in from my office at work, so I couldn't really blast the sound, and I definitely missed what several of the panelists had to say. But all in all, I found it to be very interesting, and I met a lot of great JBloggers who were chatting while watching online from all corners of North America. And now I have tons more blogs to check out while I'm procrastinating at work, so that's always a plus.

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

abc wednesday - e

This week has gone by pretty quickly - especially in comparison with two weeks ago, which just dragged on and on. So here we are already - time for another round of ABC Wednesdays. This is going to be a short one for me, because I am actually taking part in the International Jewish Bloggers Convention hosted by Nefesh B'Nefesh via live webcast. I'm very excited because even though I don't have a JBlog really, I do read a lot of them and I do write about Israel and Judaism quite a bit on here. So anyway, here's my "e."

E is for...

Epcot! Here is photo of me in front of the famous, giant Epcot dome in Orlando, Florida back in July and a photo I took of the Epcot dome with the fountains on our way into the World Pavilion. Disney World is really such a magical place, and I think Epcot is one of the parks that can truly be enjoyed by people of all ages. My mom and I had a blast there, and we don't even go on too many rides. The World Pavilion is really great to get a taste of so many different cultures. My mom and I literally ate our way through the various countries - big soft pretzels in Germany, Kaki Gori in Japan, chocolate croissants in France. We also went on all the "slow-moving" rides from the Finding Nemo ride to the Norway ride, and even one big ride, Soarin', which was a ton of fun! Overall, Epcot was a really fun day, and I recommend that everyone who is vacationing in Disney in Florida to spend a day at Epcot.

And now, I'm off to join in the JBloggers Convention!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

feeling the love

Today is the Jewish holiday of Tu B'av - the day of love. On the Jewish calendar, this lesser-known holiday falls on the 15th day of Av, and is sort of comparable to Valentine's Day. Traditionally, unmarried women would go out dressed all in white and dance in the vineyards. They dressed in white so as to not stand out from each other. Young men were supposed to see them not for their wealth (or lack of it) and not for their outward appearance, but for their complete and overall virtues. was even holding a White Party in honor of Tu B'av, but was postponed until Monday due to the torrential downpours we had today in New York. In LA, JconnectLA hosted Love Fest to celebrate Tu B'av with music, a book signing and, of course, food.

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

abc wednesday - d

Here I am ready for another round of ABC Wednesday...

D is for...

David Wright...of the New York Mets, just in case you're living in a hole and don't know who this sexy man is. I am a huge Mets fan, and who could not love the adorable David Wright? Not only is he a great baseball player, but he manages to look so good doing it. The race for National League East Champions is a tight one, and as of today, the Mets are only a game behind Philly. But the Marlins are only a half of a game behind us! Every game counts right now since the top three teams are neck and neck. I think the Mets can do least I hope so! Let's go Mets!!

The Duomo in Florence, Italy - what a massive, amazing structure. Here you can see a photo of the Duomo, and some of Florence, from way up high that I took in March 2007, when Vic and I visited Liz over our Spring Break while she was studying abroad in Florence for the semester. It was really an incredible trip, and I woulnd't have changed a thing about it. We stayed the entire week in Florence, except for a day trip to Pisa, and we got to see and do everything. We never felt rushed or pressed for time, and we really just enjoyed every minute of the trip. It was great to have Liz as our personal tourguide. Since she had been in Florence since January, she knew how to get around, where to go, what to see and when to see it. She also was studying art history, so she was able to explain what we saw in the museums, but not in a boring or confusing way. We were also invited to have dinner with Liz's host mom, Vanna, at their apartment, which was certainly a special treat. We ate so much!! Really, we ate so much the entire trip - whole pizzas for lunch, huge bowls of pasta for dinner, capuccino and chocolate croissants every single morning, gelato every afternoon - we seemed to eat our way through Italy, and we were perfectly content doing so.

Here is a picture of the Duomo from inside. Climbing the Duomo was a very scary experience for me, combining my fear of heights and my claustrophobia. We didn't actually make it all the way to the top, which we sort of realized afterwards, but we were ready to make our way down after we got to the point where you can walk around the top of the building from inside - we had enough. So we didn't get the see the incredible views we heard about when you actually do make it to the top look-out point, but we had so many other amazing experiences and incredible views that it didn't really matter. Our week-long trip to Florence was something I definitely will never forget. I'm so glad Vic and I were able to go together and get a little taste of studying abroad, since neither of us chose to do the full semester-long study-abroad program. Florence was just my first little taste of Europe, and I can't wait to see even more.

Monday, August 11, 2008

opening ceremonies

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China was one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles I have ever witnessed. Sitting in front of my television, I found my jaw actually dropping, watching the over 20,000 performers from all over China come together for one amazing night of martial arts, dancing, singing, storytelling, fireworks, light shows and so much more.

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

abc wednesdays - c

So I'm a day late. Only my second week participating in ABC Wednesdays and already I miss it. Oops! Better late than never, I suppose, so here we go...

C is for...
Camels! While I was in Israel, we got the chance to take a short ride on top of a camel. It wasn't exactly the activity I was looking forward to most - sitting on top of a large, smelly animal in the middle of the desert is not exactly my idea of a good time - but it was actually a lot of fun and certainly extremely funny. All of the camels were female, which I thought was pretty interesting. (I believe the people who ran the camel rides said it was because males are too aggressive, but I could be wrong on that one.) I screamed a whole lot, especially getting on and off the camel - they are a lot higher off the ground than it seems! About six or seven camels are all connected together by a flexible, soft harness, and there is a guide for each caravan of camels to lead them along the path. They bend down to eat plants very often and even poop right along the way while you're along for the ride. They weren't the friendliest of animals (or the most comfortable), but they always do look like they are smiling, which just cracked me up. I have to say, it was an interesting, but very memorable experience.
Rachel and I named our camel Susan and we sang a lovely song to her as we trotted through the desert. It went a little something like this: "Susan, I love you. Susan, I love you..." Instant hit. Right to the top of the charts. Just you wait and see.

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.