Thursday, January 29, 2015

Landing

The ground is getting closer
the sky grows far away,
The snow is gray and dirty
it's just that kind of day.

I knew I had to come back
I can't be gone forever
But when will things stop moving
When will it all be over.

Sometimes I just can't breath,
it all becomes too much
I need to get away
from reality, lose touch.

But I never really landed
I'm still up in the air
Searching for a place
that was never even there.

They compliment my new look
my hair flows straight and free
I tried to be different
but I can't get away from me.

And every time I go away
I'm forced to return again
Whatever demons I'm fighting
it never really ends.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snowed In

I never thought I'd be more interested in going to work then sleeping in and having a snow day.

I feel restless.

I just got back from vacation. It's weird, people keep asking me what I did in Florida, and truthfully I didn't do much, but I relaxed and had a great time. I didn't think about work at all. And then I was ready to come back and get back into the swing of things. Everyone at work was happy to see me back, and it's great to have people that you look forward to seeing. (I even got an awkward hug from a guy who didn't understand when I said 'air hug').

But now with the snow shutting down the city, I am bored and itching to go out and do something. Anything.

The problem with being busy all the time with work and school is that your friends pretty much get pushed to the wayside, and when you are 'ready' to hang out again, no one is around. Or you forget their names since it's been so long.

One guy at work  invited another guy over for beers tonight, and just like that they had plans. I wish it were that simple, that I could do away with all the stupid planning, arranging, thinking about fun things to do and never actually doing them. I wish I could just kick back with a friend and grab a beer. But I don't drink beers, and I wasn't invited.

I am sitting here thinking I should go to sleep but I don't have work tomorrow (officially) yet the thought of me sleeping in with a big white wonderful world outside is a downer.

Something about a snow day makes me want to bake. But I have been baking way too much lately, and I am trying to take a break.

"Instead of waiting for things to come to you, go out and make them happen."

Well, look at that. Just got a call from a friend asking me to come over to her place to watch a movie and bake. So yay, I guess I have friends after all.

As one client said to me today, "Happy Blizzard!"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Invisible

Once
everything was
shiny and new
you smiled at me and wanted to know
who I am,
what my story was,
tell me about yourself.

You listened,
or pretended to,
you joked with me,
laughed with me,
looked at me
and made me feel
seen.

Time passes,
the newness wears off
and suddenly I am invisible
to you
to them all
like an old toy forgotten,
never to be played with again.

There's someone new
to fawn over,
someone, something more interesting,
my smile doesn't appeal to you
my cookies no longer satisfy you
I'm yesterday's news
and tomorrow's trash.

Standing outside
with out-stretched arms
head thrown back
howling at the moon
the wind carrying your voice
to heaven
I wonder if they can see me from space.

Does anyone see me,
does anyone hear me,
I talk and you ignore me
you laugh with others
joke with others
but to you
I am invisible.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Snow-covered Beauty

Stress and pressure weighing down on me
making me want to run
away.
I find a place to hide
outside
in the freezing cold
and hope no one will find me.

I talk on the phone in tears
wondering why I can't just
suck it up
and deal with it
like a man
but I'm no man
and no one should have to deal with this.

I love my job
but I hate the way it
sucks me in
leaving work at midnight
because I just can't let go
they don't ask me to stay
but I expect it of myself.

While you were away
I tried
to do the job of two men
but I need you
so please don't go away again.
I tried to be you
but I couldn't.

The sight of fresh white snow
envelopes me in its beauty
and simplicity
I breathe it in
though snow has no smell,
I smell it, I feel it
in every breath.

And the snow
makes everything better
everything brighter
all my problems go away
if only for a minute
as I watch the snowflakes fall lazily to earth
and find a place to rest.

Things will get better I know,
they always do.
Well-rested weekend
and ready to start again.
Sad songs playing on the radio
don't make me sad no more
and I know I've grown.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Get-a-way


Bliss.

My Shabbos turned from an anti-social one-woman no-meals sleep-all-day event into a getaway with 6 other people, spur of the moment decision which I can describe as blissful.

I was surrounded by good company, decent food, and we just chilled. I got dressed up even though the crowd was casual and would not have cared if I stayed in pajamas all day. And I was tempted to do so. But it felt nice to dress up for a change, wear heels.

I experienced a new community. Due to my sheltered and spoiled upbringing, I never realized there was life outside of Brooklyn. There are Jews in other communities! They dress like us, talk like us, go to shul like us. They were warm and welcoming and showed me all that I was missing.

I was right near the ocean, and I could smell the salt in the air. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy the whole day, so we didn't make it to the beach. But it was so relaxing waking up to a peaceful quiet day and having a nice Shabbos with new and interesting people.

I should get away more often.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Comfort

Wearing my red 'hooker' boots, which may or may not be maroon, and that matters because if they are maroon then they are classy, elegant, but if they are red, they scream rebellion, and promiscuity, but today I don't really care, I just want to look good. For who? I don't know.

I don't know why I'm wearing them to work today, they are not so comfortable and not so practical, thought a part of me just really needs a win today. Yesterday I did my hair in an elegant bun, and they noticed. Today I wore my red suede boots, and they noticed. I don't know why I'm trying to get noticed. Maybe because I stopped baking, and I'm scared they will forget me.

I have been baking regularly for the office, I don't know why. Maybe I just want them to like me, accept me, though I've been here for 4 months, they already have a nickname for me, I got a key to the warehouse that not many people have, I got a radio that I requested, and today I got a raise. If that's not acceptance, then I don't know what is.

But I still somehow feel... empty. The office is emptying out, it is 7 pm, and here I am, still here, with nothing better to do at home. It's late and I'm tired and I just want to go home, but this place, this job, it sucks me in, the work never stops and so technically I could stay forever and never leave.

I used to have to leave at a certain time every day to go to school, and now that I'm on break I just stay and get work done, because what's the point of going home to a sad lonely apartment and watching tv for a few hours then going to bed.

I try to stay positive, I looked awesome today and I got many compliments. I feel powerful, I feel like no one will mess with me and I can do it all. I work around mainly guys, and they notice, and they comment, and they can see that I mean business and when I say I'm going places I will make it happen.

Some days I love it, I love being busy and I love being around all these people.

But then there are days like today, when everything becomes overwhelming, when everything is stressful, when everyone is leaving at the end of the day to go home to their kids and families, and I have no one to go home to.

I have big plans for 2015. It is the year I turn 25. I will graduate college with a bachelors degree, I will reach my goal weight, I will reach a financial goal I set for myself, and G-d willing it will be the year that I meet the man I'm gonna marry.

And all that sounds exciting, and it is not all in my hands, and I know that. For some reason G-d wants me to be alone right now, maybe to learn how to become the strong independent woman that I am learning how to be every day. And I know I am not really alone. I call my mom and end up crying on the phone at work, because I just want to go home, only I don't know where that is right now.

But I am scared and I am lonely, and tonight I just don't know where to turn for comfort.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Static

Chatter,
that's how news travels around here.
No form of communication,
hear it through the grapevine
or you never heard it at all.


Head underwater,
can't swallow,
like a golf ball encased in wool
shoved down your throat,
they call it strep,
I call it misery.

Doc says take a day off,
rest and recover,
I apologize to my boss,
say I can come in anyway,
if you need me.

He says we'll manage without you,
so I go back to sleep,
and enjoy two days off,
bliss and oblivious
to what was left behind.

Two days. Two.
"Oh thank G-d you're back."
Her face says it all.
Every single person
asks how I'm feeling,
they missed me.

I'm feeling under-appreciated,
I tell one manager,
I put in a request that went ignored,
I feel like you guys don't respect me.

I just wanted a radio,
I wanted to feel like part of the team,
Like I mattered.
But he just couldn't find one for me.
So I slunk away, mad and upset.

Merry Christmas,
he tells me.
I found one for you after all.
He looks at me and says,
"They were falling apart without you."

Call it an ego boost,
call it insecurity,
call it whatever you want,
it's just nice to feel appreciated.
Too bad it takes getting sick
for them to tell you good job,
we can't do it without you.

And just like that
I matter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You say hello, I say goodbye

It's the last class of the semester, and we're having a party. One girl tears up relating her experiences in the class. I never get attached. The end of the semester means the end, goodbye, it's been fun, see you never. My group from the final project says, we'll keep in touch, totally! Ya, not gonna happen. If I kept in touch with every person I ever came across in my life, I'd have litter. And no one likes litter. I weed out my friends every now and then, to be sure that only the quality ones remain. (Don't take that the way it sounds, I don't dump friends or anything. I just don't have that many of them).

I don't see the point in keeping in touch, especially at school. I don't need random old classmates in my life. I go to school and go home and that's that.

I got my first grade of the semester: A+. Yay.

 Happy night #2!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh Chanukah...

The new guy fist bumped me today. And I just... let it happen. I guess no one filled him in on the weird traditions of no touching guys that we have going on. I want to say something, but it seems a little weak after the fact. Like, hey new guy, I know we fist bumped once, but don't expect it to happen again, cuz I'm shomer negia, and ya that's a real thing. Sometimes I wonder what it really means to be shomer negia. Because honestly, it is so easy to let it go. It's not even an effort, really. You just simply let some guy shake your hand once and suddenly, what's the big deal?

I'm still at work as the sun goes down and Chanukah begins... My body is weak and tired and I feel a cold coming on... I lay down on the floor of the office and shut my eyes... The manager asks if I'm okay, and I tell him I'm fine... There's a big box of chocolate that someone donated, and suddenly I want chocolate... But all the chocolate in the world will not help me feel better... It will make me feel worse.

I walk over to L's desk and just sit down. He asks me what I want. I tell him I'm sick, and honestly I just want some sympathy. His wife was in the office today. He acts uptight around her, as if he never makes inappropriate comments or flirts with anyone when she is not around. He comes from an extremely Chassidish world. People have many sides to them...

I ask him for a ride home. He makes me sit in the back. I live out of his way, but he takes me anyway. I plan to ignore him and listen to music the whole way home. But he talks to me. I tell him how hard it is to be alone on a holiday like Chanukah, where everything is about family. Shidduchim comes up, as it always does. I find myself confiding in him, telling him about a date I had recently. I want him to make it all better. At work, he can be a pain, he ignores me when I make a request that he doesn't like, he blames me for miscommunications, and he is hard to deal with. But when I sit down at his desk to talk, suddenly he is a real person, listening and giving advice.

His phone rings and I see it says 'Home'. He puts his finger to his lips in a shushing motion. After all, his wife can't know that he drove me home, cuz what might that mean...?

We come from two different worlds. I'm not saying I think it's okay to be friendly with a married coworker, and it is definitely a slippery slope. I guess he doesn't want his wife making any insinuations.

I call my mom and tell her how sad it is that I'm alone on Chanukah and lighting candles by myself. I realize how pathetic I sound. I tell Anthony that it is like him being alone on Christmas, to which he responds "I will be alone on Christmas".

I guess it is all about perspective. I don't have it that bad, and I have to remember that.

I hope to bake tonight, and baking always cheers me up.

A freilechin Chanukah to all, and I hope you can see true revealed light in your life.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Give Up

Pitch black,
the sound of rain streaming down
outside my window,
alarm blaring,
coming out of the haze we call sleep,
disoriented,
what is that noise,
shut off the alarm,
looking at the phone like, what is that
and how did it get in my hand.

Crawling to the bathroom,
eyes asdjusting to the light,
staring at your reflection,
thinking about last night
wondering why you have to go through this
again,
and again,
when will it end.

Bleary eyed,
foggy brain,
you know you need to brush your teeth,
do your routine,
get dressed, go to work,
get through the day
but you are so sick of just
getting through the day,
what's the point.

Why,
you don't know who to ask
but you want to ask,
why??
Tired, you are so tired,
the cold bathroom floor, any floor really
seems tempting,
just lie down and curl up in a ball
and sleep.

Let me sleep through it,
shut my eyes
and glide through the hard times in life,
skip over it
straight to the good.
But if we gave up
 when the going got tough,
would there be any good times to have?

Sheldon would offer me a cup of tea,
but hey, TV ain't real life,
plus, I know how to make tea,
but right now I have to go to work,
so I hug myself tight,
saying everything will be okay,
my mom would do that
but she's not here.

Sometimes, the desire to give up is so strong,
but giving up is not an option.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Poison

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”

If you hurt me, I will hurt you back,
I will twist and pull and pinch
until you feel the pain that you caused me.

The rain comes pouring down
drenching me,
and I like it, I crave it.

Sometimes we want the pain.
Don't lie,
you like it.

You crave the hurt
you get high on the fall
on the descent into hell.

Oh how you pretend that it's okay
to play, it's all fun and games
until someone gets hurt.

And that someone is always you.
While guys go on their merry way
and don't look back.

Oh how I want to hurt you,
but really who caused this pain,
Not I...?

Take a bite of the poisonous apple
and enjoy it, savor it,
love it.

Tomorrow will come
and he'll still be there,
only you will be in millions of pieces.

And you did this.
But who will take the blame.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

To Live

You judge me,
I see it in your eyes when you look at me,
like you know better
what's best for me.

The truth is,
my conscience stopped bothering me
a long time ago
it's quiet now.

I can't say that's a good thing
but I'm enjoying life
no guilt
no regrets.

You think I'm still that innocent girl
of yesteryear
but I'm not
and never will be again.

My choices, my decisions
are on me,
the consequences
affect me alone.

I see a girl in a mini skirt
and I start to judge her,
and then I remember how it feels
to be judged.

I don't want your advice,
so I probably shouldn't tell you
cuz you don't want to know
and that's okay.

I look at her
like you look at me
but remember that
you never know all the details.

I didn't give up
I just decided to live
and not worry about
tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You asked

6:00 AM... the world is still and silent,
lights flickering off one by one
the night sky still black.

It's cold out,
my body still waking up
but invigorated.

At work at 6:45 am...
because you asked
and so I came.

To feel needed...
to feel wanted...
your face says it all.

That you didn't know I would come
that you appreciated that I came
but you asked.

And so I came,
no questions asked
because you take care of me.

So I take care of you
and it feels nice
to be needed.

I know I give you a hard time,
but if you need me
just ask and I'll be there.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chill

I used to hate the cold, dark dreary nights
the light waning at 4
going dark and sucking you in
the cold hitting your hands, and face
places you never knew could feel a draft.

I used to hate the heavy feeling that descended along with winter,
the desire to eat more
extra padding emotionally and physically
wanting to stay indoors
and never ever seeing the sun.

The sky is clear tonight,
millions of stars pricking
the black silky expanse
the cold searing my lungs
but pure and fresh and beautiful,
oh so beautiful.

I can't feel my hands
but I feel alive
I don't feel elation
but the heavy feeling is gone,
for once I don't feel like eating away my feelings,
and I know that means that I've changed.

Huddled in my coat
braced against the cold,
I could stay here forever
frozen in time and place,
just a girl
sitting on a subway platform
wiling away the time
enjoying the beautiful
chilled
silence.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Me

She startles me.
I don't recognize her.

I approach the glass tentatively,
trying to see some trace of familiarity.

The black inky sky creates a one-way mirror,
and I see her.

I see me.
But I've never seen her before.

The hallway is empty
and so I stare unselfconsciously.

Look at her,
that girl who was once ashamed of mirrors and photographs.

That girl who walked awkwardly by guys
wondering what they were thinking.

That girl who begged the world to accept her, love her,
but who couldn't even love herself.

I look at her, at me,
in admiration.

I've had more bad days than not this week,
and yet still the fighter in me won't give up.

I trace the curve of my hips, turn this way and that,
and then simply sit awhile.

I look out at the night sky, loving the view from up here,
the quietness so peaceful it causes me to drift off.

I sleep, and when I wake up she's still there,
staring back pensively.

She's not a stranger.
She's an old friend who was lost for awhile.

And now I've found her.
I finally found me.

Mistakes

It's like Deja Vu, only...different.
I said I'd never make the same mistakes again
and yet here I am.
Weird how we keep circling back.

Frustration builds inside of me
every time you're around.
It's stupid, really. We're grown ups
and yet you act like a child.

Some people victimize themselves
and blame others for their own mistakes.
Is that what I'm doing here?
Were you a mistake?

Every day, every look, every taunt
is a reminder of how foolish this is,
how stupid and careless this is
how I stopped thinking.

I stopped thinking for one minute,
and that was it.
You can't undo what you've done
and consequences follow.

I want to turn back the clock
and start over
but how different would it be really?
There'd be no you, no me. No us.

Just as it's supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I wanna get away

Restless.
Can't sit still.
I wanna jump on a plane and fly away,
enjoy the warmth of the sky's embrace.

Close my eyes
and point to a globe,
just go anywhere
and stay for awhile.

Come back when I'm ready,
whenever that may be.
Just not here,
I can't stay here.

I think of all the things that tie me down,
and all the reasons for me to go.
If I were impulsive
I'd be gone by now.

Restless.
Can't sit still.
I think of all the fun I could be having
and all that I'm missing.

I just wanna get away.
Take a break for awhile.
Come back when I'm ready.
Whenever that may be.

Or never.
Imagine starting over somewhere fresh.
Leave your old life behind.
You can be anybody.

How can you keep going
when you want to be
anywhere
but here?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quietude

I put my mom to sleep in the other room. She's spending the night with me.

I'm waiting for the place to be quiet so I can think.

I think best in middle of the night, when everyone is sleeping. I love the peace, the quiet, the alone time.

I love being alone.

Even if sometimes it gets lonely.

My mom came to class with me tonight. The topic was suicide. She talked about my grandmother.

I never knew her. She died before I was born.

We all knew about her suicide early on. My mom says there are no secrets in our family.

Except for the things we never say.

I used to tell my friends that my grandmother committed suicide before I realized how socially unacceptable that was to talk about.

But isn't that the point, really?

Why must we stigmatize things that we have no control over?

Depression is a sickness and must be treated like any other.

My mom said Bubby Dorris loved to shop, and would buy tons of clothes in many colors.

She would have probably taken us shopping, if she was still alive.

But she's not.

I never really felt anything about it, until I was in Florida when I was 18. I thought about visiting her grave, but never made it there.

I thought, how incredibly selfish of her, to kill herself without thinking of the people she was leaving behind.

Why didn't she think of me??

My mom told her she would be okay. Because that was all she could say.

It's not okay, really. It never is.

My mama stood up there speaking in front of the class, and told them things I never knew.

I knew about her own depression, and finally deciding to get the help she needed.

My teacher told us the way to know if someone is serious about suicide is to ask them if they have a plan. If they do, you should be worried.

My mom said she once thought she would go to Coney Island, start swimming, and never stop.

But she didn't want to do that to her family.

I'm glad she got the help when she did.

They say depression is hereditary.

I wonder how much it will affect me.

Sometimes I feel sad.

But sadness is not depression. Sadness is feelings of pain or loneliness welling up inside of you and seeping out as much as you try to stuff it down.

Every time I get stressed or overwhelmed, I calm my self down by saying, you're okay, everything will be okay.

And it always is.

It's quiet now, and I wish it would stay this way. I wish the quiet calm would last.

Except it never does.

Tomorrow I will get up and go to work and go to school and deal with the stresses and responsibilities that come with my life, and hope that I can get through the day with a smile on my face.

I wish my grandmother lived to see the legacy she left behind.

She wanted to know that we would be okay.

I know we will be okay.

I know, because it took us years to get to this point.

I know, because I knew what depression felt like, that black hole that makes you feel like you will never be happy again.

I know, because you changed, and so did we.

I know we will be okay, and as you sleep in the other room and I remember everything you said to the class tonight, I think about how lucky I am to have a mother as strong as you.

We will be okay because we have each other.

And two is stronger than one.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter

That dark, dreary feeling you get from walking outside on a cold rainy night. Hood drawn up, hunched in a sweater, walking fast, hands bunched in the sleeves.

Cold, yes. But refreshing. Walking inside to light and warm air, and already you miss the fresh exhilarating cold of the night air.

Wearing work-out clothes, but not working out. Pretend studying. Waiting for the clock to change.

Procrastinating....

Winter is coming on fast. Think: dark and depressing.

And so it begins.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Languages of Love

I punch him even though I'm not supposed to touch him, because he said my name wrong.

Deliberately.

He says, ow that really hurts, and I tell him he deserves it, because he should know my name by now.

And still I bring him cookies.

~~~~~~~~~~

I'm at the checkout counter and all I have are two boxes of brown sugar.

It's late, the guy behind the counter is eating something, maybe a sad meal he calls dinner.

I feel like talking, saying something, anything.

I'm tired, he's probably tired and couldn't care less what I have to say.

I say, I was in middle of baking and realized I needed brown sugar. How great is it that you are open so late.

He titters. Definitely not a full laugh.

I leave with my purchases, wondering why humans feel the need to interact with complete strangers.

~~~~~~~~~~

My roommates comment every time I bake, asking me what I'm making, what it's for, who it's for, if they could have some.

I tell them I was feeling down and instead of eating away my feelings, I decided to bake and make other people happy.

I know there are people who will be very happy tomorrow to hear I made cookies.

~~~~~~~~~~

I go to pick up my tray from my friend's house, after eating there on Shabbos.

The tray is still filled with my lemon bars, and that makes me sad.

She apologizes and tells me her family doesn't really like to try new things.

That's fine, I will take my lemon bars elsewhere, to a place where people appreciate them.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
I found out that the family friend I have been davening for passed away today. 

I saw the news right before class started. 

I couldn't focus in class.

There was a guy in my class who also knows the family.

It was nice to have someone to commiserate with.

Tomorrow I will be going to a levaya, and that makes me sad. 

~~~~~~~~~~
 
She always had a smile on her face, asking about my mom and my family.

She was at every bris, every family simcha, taking pictures and helping make the family happy.

Her family was our very first neighbors when we moved to Crown Heights.

I grew up with her kids.

Most of her kids are married now, but I keep thinking of her husband, and how very hard it will be for him to move on.

Do people ever really move on from death?

Are they supposed to?

~~~~~~~~~~

I stay up late baking cookies,and think of her smiling down on her family. 

I hope they will be okay.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Praying for a Miracle


A Facebook status. That's how news travels these days. I don't know much, it simply said 'Please say tehillim for'-- and a name. We never called our friends' parents by name, and yet I know the name. How suddenly things change. I don't want to ask questions, I don't know what is going on, but it doesn't seem good.

Surreal. All we can do is pray and hope for good news.

Please have Bracha Miriam bas Chana in your prayers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lonely

It's like being in a huge supermarket with many people around you smiling and laughing and talking, but not to you, no never to you.

It's like standing on a street corner talking to a stranger and wishing you weren't strangers any more.

It's like standing on a subway platform and watching the train speeding farther and farther away and suddenly realizing how empty and isolated it feels.

She opens her mouth and a Spanish accent comes out, like she grew up in Spanish Harlem, and yet both of us know we used to go on the same bus to school as kids. She keeps readjusting her hat, like she feels uncomfortable in her own skin, or maybe that's just me projecting my feelings, her pants staring me in the face, the guy standing next to me sans kippah, joking about how he used to be a mashgiach in a restaurant back when he was frum, me laughing at the irony, he thinks I'm laughing at him, but no it's just the situation, trying to find common ground and suddenly the fact that he doesn't wear a yalmuka makes no difference to me, and I don't know why.

It's like trying to form relationships and all they know me for are cookies, and that is something I did to myself, bring cookies once, twice, thrice, and suddenly you are the cookie lady and you can never get away from that, the jokes every day, the demands for more cookies, and you will never be anything more than that. I just want to be friends, except maybe that is a lie.

Sitting in a classroom talking about disorders, anxiety, depression, and trying hard not to diagnose yourself, except you feel yourself experiencing some of the symptoms, speeding heart, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, you just want to go home and eat cookies and watch TV and feel better, except you remember how you are staying away from cookies for awhile, and you have a 10 page paper to write, and suddenly it all seems too much, except no one cares and they all just want you to give it 100%, but you just can't right now.

My mother is driving to Florida tomorrow, I just want to jump in the car and go with her, the sun, oh I miss the sun. And freedom.

Monday, October 13, 2014

See the change

I came out tonight for you, babe. To prove I was there.

There's a selfie of us last year, and the year before, and as our phone cameras get better and better, so do we.

You ask me if I see the change, and I'm happy to say that I finally do.

We measure our lives in segments of time. It's been x amount of years since high school, x amount of years since seminary. What have we done since then? Can you see the change?

I see it in the way I carry myself, in the way I walk. I see it in the way I deal with people on a day to day basis. I see it in the way I show extreme patience with people who wear me thin.

Do you see the change?

I see it in my eyes every morning in the mirror. I see it in the pride I take in my school work. I see it in the joy I have in going to work every day. I see it in the countdown to my diploma.

Do you see the change?

I saw it tonight as we walked down the street, the music blaring as a backdrop, little girls and little boys doing the best they could to make themselves known to each other, hazy smoke the only form of communication between them.

We may have once been them, in some form or another. We all know why those little boys are on the women's side while there is ample room to stand and dance on the men's side, as well as a huge walkway in between. It is pretty obvious in the co-mingling going on till the wee hours of the morning.

The contrast between the drunk and stumbling youths just trying to make their presence felt in the world, and the beautiful stirring niggunim coming from a farbrengin upstairs is quite glaring.

Why?? I want to ask them, shake them, tell them how foolish they are being, why waste your time on little girls and little boys and meaningless relationships that will destroy you little by little until you have no idea of who you are or who you once were.

I want to tell them, I get it, I was once you. But they wouldn't understand, and I don't blame them. We must all go through our own stumbling paths in order to eventually find the light, and as painful as it is to watch, I cannot live the journey for them.

But I see the change in me, in us. We were never really them. We were we, only younger and stupider and filled with angst. We wanted to make noise, and make our presence felt, and make sure the world knew our names.

As I stumble home at 2 am, wondering why I'm still up, knowing that the pain in my back indicates how old and tired I am, my alarm set for 7- since I must get up in the morning for work- reminding me that I'm too old for this, little boys and little girls all over the street drunk or high or whatnot, and then there's me- not better-than-thou, or smarter, just older and wiser. And ya, a little smarter.

I can see the change, not because I hoped and prayed that it would happen, but because I made it happen, and every day that I wake up and try to be a better person and stick to my New Years resolutions, and pray and give tzedakah and try to do all the things I'm supposed to do, and go to work and go to school and take on more and more responsibilities till I'm stretched so thin that it's 2 am on a Sunday night and I'm wishing for the weekend already- that is how I know that I've changed.

I'm no longer that little girl anymore who's definition of self-confidence was synonymous with 'validation', and 'compliments', I don't need to be loud to know that people are looking at me, and watching me, I see it every day when I go to work. And every day is a new opportunity to educate people on who I am as a Jew, as a female, as a Lubavitcher. It is a new opportunity to break down barriers, to redefine misconceptions, to be myself and let people know that it is okay to ask questions if they want answers, but it is not okay to insult out of ignorance.

We have changed, and will G-d willing continue to change and grow into better people.

I can't wait for our next year's selfie, wind in our-- sheitels, watching our men dance. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hashem Hu Haelokim

"Why are you crying?", he asks me. He's 7. I doubt he would understand.

"I'm not crying", I tell him.

"Then why are there tears coming from your eyes?"

I want to tell him, because I got lost driving here, my phone died, and I drove around for an hour with no idea where I was going, watching the sun set and knowing Yom Kippur was coming.

I want to tell him, because I am tired and running on no sleep, because my friend's grandmother passed away this morning, and it hit me harder than normal.

I want to tell him, how scary it was to be lost, knowing I was so close to my destination but making so many wrong turns that I was getting farther and farther away.

I want to tell him, how relieved I was to speak to his father and be reassured that I was very close, that the street that looked unfamiliar was actually their street, only I was at the other end of it and had to keep driving straight for miles.

I want to tell him how excited I was to see him and his family, how I just kept repeating in my head over and over 'keep driving straight' until finally, finally, I made it.

I want to tell him how close I was to losing it and falling apart on the road, but I kept hearing a voice in my head telling me to 'relax'.

I want to tell him, how I called my father and heard him bless me over the phone, I just wanted to say, 'Abba, I was lost and I was scared and I just want you to make it better', but I'm 24 and no one can make it better anymore.

He's 7. He wouldn't understand.

But HE would.

I cried through maariv. And at the end of the fast, when we say 7 times 'Hashem Hu Haelokim', I realized that He is my father, that He is the one and only G-d, and He is the only one that can make it better.

I was lost, and I found my way back.

It doesn't matter how many times you fall, it matters how many times you pick yourself up and keep going.

May my prayers on Yom Kippur help give me the strength to keep going throughout the year, and keep getting back up after every fall.

Shavua Tov, and Shana Tova.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Checking In

Hey G-d, what's up? I had a really great year. No regrets here. Every time around this time of year, I find myself faced with the question: Do I have any regrets from the past year? Is there anything I can improve on for the coming year? When my answer came up as: no regrets, I thought, maybe I should dig deeper.

I used to be flooded with spirituality, emotion, a conscience telling me right from wrong. Now, I have to work really hard to feel bad about anything that I may be doing wrong. I find myself caring less and less about the things that once gave me a pang when I thought about it. Self improvement? Not so much.

It comes down to: no time, lack of caring, exhaustion, etc. When you find yourself simply not caring for self-improvement, that's when you know you need it the most.

I told a friend recently that I'm comfortable with who I am. She had commented on a top I was wearing with a slightly low neckline. My response was, ya maybe there is room for improvement in my tznius, but I just don't care anymore. I feel comfortable, and that's okay with me.

But what that is really saying is, I'm too lazy or stubborn or careless to do anything about it. I simply don't want to. I want to keep on living the way that I am, without anyone trying to lecture me or guilt me into changing. I don't want to change. I want to be happy with who I am.

But is G-d happy? Today I tried explaining to a coworker the definition of a chossid. A true chossid does what the Rebbe has asked and demanded of him, and he does it without questioning, without superimposing his own will, because he knows that the Rebbe has his best interest at heart, and he must do everything mehadrin min hamihadrin- the best of the best. He can't slack, he can't be lazy, he can't go around saying, I am what I am and I just don't care to change.

What happens when you get too comfortable in your lifestyle, and you stop feeling bad about doing the wrong things?

Time for a wake up call.

I'm still waiting for that.

Good luck finding your own way. Wishing you a Gmar Chasima Tova, an easy fast, and a year filled with spirituality, positivity, and growth.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just a Ride

I close my eyes and let the wind whip over me,
caressing my hair.
The music at full blast.
No need to open the windows,
for the top is down.

Guys and cars,
that's what they say.
He has a convertible.
He is oh so cute.
He has good taste in music.

And yet we ride silently.
The music meant to dissuade conversation.
And at the end of the ride
we exchange polite 'good nights' and say
see you at work.

I have no need for little-girl crushes
but my heart flutters at the way his eyes light up
when he sees me coming.
I pretend to like football
to keep the conversation going.

It's just a ride,
I tell myself.
But if this were a real date
instead of a gracious favor from a coworker
it wouldn't be just a ride.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who am I?

You want to know my name.

You ask me if I'm "Chabad".

Does it matter what I am? I'm a Jew, you're a Jew, we're all the same.

Suddenly, I'm the odd one out. You poke fun at Chabad.

I don't see the humor.

You ask me if my middle name is Chaya. You seem to assume we must all be Mushkys, or closely related.

You ask me if I'm Gezhe (Chabad Bourgeoisie). I'm not even sure what that means. Only, I know I'm not it. You say I must be Gezhe, since I would only marry within Chabad.

I don't see the humor in that.

You say things like, 'Oh I've been to Chevra shul'  (the controversial Crown Heights 'modern shul'.')

That's great. I don't care.

I ask you why you assumed I'm Chabad.

You say I have a certain 'look'.

I still don't get it.

You say it must be because I'm not wearing the thick seam stockings.

Huh.

In class a guy with a clearly Jewish name asked me what my plans are for 'HH'.

I look at him blankly.

'High Holidays', he clarifies.

Still not getting it.

He asks me what synagogue I'm affiliated with.

Um, none really.

He tells me he bought  new 'Talis'.

That's great. Really. I would totally buy a new one if I wore one too.

I wonder if this is his once a year check-in with G-d. Maybe that's why he is so eager to discuss it with me.

Truthfully, I haven't really thought about Rosh Hashanah. I've thought about it, as in I'm aware it is coming up pretty soon. But self-reflection- none of that.

Does this guy have it easier than me? Once a year check up, get a new Talis, go to synagogue. He keeps talking about it. Either he is trying to impress me, or it is really important to him.

Me: Oh wait, when is Rosh Hashanah again? The 22? No, wait, that's the day of my friend's wedding. (Think: Dress, hair, make up, shoes. Yup, that's what I'm looking forward to.) So, Rosh Hashanah must be a couple days after. Huh. Okay.

Who am I, you want to know?

I'm different. I'm Chabad and to some that means making fun, singing yechi when I walk in the room, mocking me.

To another, I may be as frum or more frum than his lady-Rabbi. I may be that one connection to real Judaism. I may be the representation of everything religious to him.

I don't know what I am. Everyone wants to know these days, esspecially Shadchanim.

'How tznius are you?'

I don't know, do you want me to measure my skirt?

Who am I, you want to know.

People, does it really matter?

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

This year, we are all celebrating Rosh Hashanah together.

And that's all that matters.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's a Man's World

In the company where I work, there are mostly men employed in upper management. Amongst the females are myself, and about 4 other women. For some weird reason, the women's bathroom is in the all-male manager's office, while the men's bathroom is in the break room. Any time I need to use the facilities, I must walk amongst all the guys. It's awkward.

What I learned while working here:

1) Grown men are really just little boys in grown up bodies.

2) They have no filters. Even when women are in the room, they crack dirty jokes. The kind of things I'm sure they'd never want repeated to their wives.

3) They curse. And then put fake money in the swear jar.

These people are all older than me by at least ten years. At times I feel like I'm in a room full of children.

Hopefully this is just their 'playground', and they can then go home and be respectful husbands and fathers.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Calm before the storm

Calm denotes peace, serenity, the opposite of pressure and stress. I'm never really calm. And there is no real storm coming.

I just started a new job, working full time hours and some Sundays. My new semester just started and this semester I'm taking 5 classes. So all in all my schedule will be full. I know things will begin to get busy quickly, either get with it or get left behind. I'm trying to prepare myself as much as possible, so that I know what I need for each class, so that I don't freak out or decide it is all too much and I'm moving back home with my parents and abandoning my life. (As if.)

I keep saying, I know I'll be okay, I can handle it, I will be fine. I know I CAN handle it. The question is, will I?

People always talk about juggling things in life. A new full-time job + full-time school = no time for anything else. I even started considering cutting out TV in my life, and that's a big deal for me.

Well, who needs fun and relaxation anyway?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This one's for you, Ma

I've seen a lot of my mother in the past week. I used to go to Monsey for Shabbos a lot more, in the earlier days when they first moved there. But lately, between work and school and the general schlep of getting to Monsey, I've seen less and less of my family. (And that's just the way I like it.)

Last week was family day. My grandparents came to visit, and all of my nieces were under one roof. Now I know why people have kids. For all the funny, cute, weird, adorable, annoying, smelly, squishy, chubby inch of them. You know that expression, 'My heart melted'? Gag. But when little ER ran over to me randomly, gave me a hug and ran away, I wanted to keep her forever.

Anyway, back to my mother. She stayed with me for a couple of days. Apparently, she is telling everyone how great my cooking skills are, how I feed her so well, how she just loooves this restaurant. I don't eat out, and it's nice to be able to cook for my mother.

My mother is a selfless person. Always doing for others, barely for herself, never wants to get in anyone's way. My room is small, and when I have a guest over I put a mattress on the floor. Of course, how can it ever be said that I let my mother sleep on the floor? But I was tired, and she insisted that it was okay, and that it was actually respecting her is she specifically wanted the floor and I let her sleep there. Ya, she sure convinced me.

It is really hard for me to understand. I live a singular life. I take care of myself. I have no one else to take care of. I like it that way. Whenever anyone comes into my sphere of being, automatically they annoy me. Why are you talking to me? Why are you asking me questions? What do you want from me? With my mother, she is always, "Go in front of me in line, take the last piece of food, it's okay, I'm okay, we're all okay, do do do for everyone until she herself is obsolete.

I love you Ma, I really do. But do you know how annoying it is when I'm trying to make the bed, and she says, I can do that. I am making her food and she says, you don't have to do that for me. But I want to. So LET ME.

You can be selfless, but let people give back to you. Let me do for you, not because I have to, but because I want to.

It has been so nice spending time with my mother alone, outside of the house, away from my siblings. Introducing her to my life, my mature adult life. Look Ma, I'm all grown up. Thank you for letting me be the hostess.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is that the face of desperation?

When my oldest brother was approaching 30 and still single, my mother became desperate. She contacted a girl on his behalf who declined to go out with my brother, and wrote her a whole long letter about how wonderful my brother is and how great the girl would be for him. (I'm pretty sure that kind of behavior warrants a restraining order.) The girl was non too happy about being begged to marry my brother.

My mother would jokingly say, "He's a great catch, he comes with health insurance! And that's hard to come by these days." (She wasn't really joking.) She went to the ohel regularly to beg G-d to find him a girl to marry. She was so scared he would never get married.

Well, thank G-d married he is, with a beautiful daughter.

Next: my second oldest brother. (Still single.) One time we were sitting by a shloshim, and my mother was talking about her upcoming trip to Florida. Somehow she mentioned my brother (who lives in Florida), and a woman behind us said, "Sorry for eavesdropping, but what's he like?" My mother was so happy to have someone to sell her pitch to. She went on and on about all my brother's great qualities, about his self-starter business, about what kind of girl he needs. (I bet that poor woman regretted butting in.)

One purim, driving down Kingston Ave, we stopped to give tzedaka to a girl collecting money for a family who recently lost their mother. My mother, recognizing the girl who was collecting, said "Will you marry my son? You'd be perfect for him!" Ya, by then I was driving away screaming, "Ma! You're nuts!"

So now we have established that my mother will do anything to get her son married, and that she's a bit crazy.

At what point does one cross the line between doing ones part to find the right match, and doing things that can label one as crazy?

Does my mother wear the face of desperation?

P.S. Still single brother but declines to be set up, says he's done with blind dates. Believe me, I've tried.