Monday, April 14, 2014

Perfection

There will be moments in your life that you will regret forever. Times when you say the wrong thing and wish that you could take your words back.

They handed me my graduation gift, beaming that they got me what I wanted. They asked me if I liked it. Stupidly, I said that it wasn't the exact model I wanted. So they took it back and said they would try to get the one I wanted. I should have just said thank you. I am embarrassed every time I think back on that moment.

Midnight, the night before Pesach. I sit back and listen to the sounds of home. Each person yelling louder than the next, trying to get each other to do various jobs that need getting done. I try to yell above them to tell them to STOP SCREAMING but I give up and just watch.

My father is putting up curtains for my makeshift room in the living room. We are all grown up and you'd think everyone would have moved out by now, but somehow the house is tiny and everyone is home and as usual, I have no room. No one wants to share with me. I'm used to having my own room anyway.

This curtain hanging business is serious. My father bought string, and screwed nails into the wall to hang a curtain across. He spent time on it. I got bored and wandered upstairs to find entertainment. He called me downstairs to take a look when it was done.

He asked me if I liked it. I smiled and said it was perfect, and thanked him for doing it for me. I hi-fived him. My own room with a curtain in the living room.

Sometimes we'll regret what we say and sometimes we'll say the right thing at the right time.

And sometimes we'll scream at each other just for the heck of it.

Erev Pesach. The beauty of being home with family.

A kosher and freilechin pesach to everyone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

From the safety of my umbrella

The rain pitter patters on top of me, streaking down from heaven in a continuous flow. I forget that it is raining, in the shelter of my umbrella. People duck for cover under awnings and in banks, but I keep going. It can't touch me.

I like to stay informed so I read, I traverse the news sites, stay 'in the know' and current, so if anyone says 'hey what's up with the missing flight MH370? Did they find it yet?' I can tell them that the search team is still looking, and they think they found the black box.

Or what about baby Prince George in Australia? Fort Hood shooter, Kardashian wedding, Pistorius trial, Obama Selfie ban, just a few among the current headlines. And what does it matter? What if you could stay under a rock and not know anything? Who would care? But hey, that would make for a boring conversation. So I make fun of the fact that my coworker gets her daily news on www.dailymail.co.uk while I read the drudge, and ya that makes me cool. Or whatever.

I'm not very much into selfies, or at least not posting them to Facebook. Narcissist, anyone? That's what we encourage. Hey, let's make a whole gallery of selfies and call it art! Or what about a song called '#selfie'? Really? Today music has died.

Do you care how the world sees you? Is it possible you are really a psychopath masquerading as normal? Or maybe it is the normal who are crazy.

I wonder what you see when you look at me. Your eyes follow my umbrella as I walk away, and what is going on inside your head? Do you simply wish that you too had an umbrella as big as mine? Or is it the person underneath it that you are interested in?

Ever seen this quote:

Mine would go more like: "There's a writer inside of me, but I'm too scared to let her out". I wouldn't call myself a 'writer' because I hate the connotations that come along with that. I'm not weird or artsy or insane. Gross generalizations, maybe. But what is it that sets you free and allows you to speak your mind without fear of what people will say?

I was once young and didn't care. Or maybe I did care. I don't remember. I'm old now. Older, and slightly more wiser, and a lot more reserved. Every time I think of sitting down to write, something better comes along. Something like TV shows. But my TV shows are on Spring break, so it's just you and me....

You know those people that say, "there's so much that I want to tell you but I can't"? Well, ya. Imagine all the things I could tell you if I didn't have so many barriers. But we'll try anyway.

.....Well it was worth a shot.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Being a grown up

She asks me how I manage school and work together. she's thinking of going to school. When do you do homework, she asks. I tell her, I go to work and go to school and come home, eat dinner watch tv and go to sleep. When do you have time for a social life, she wants to know. I don't, I tell her. I haven't seen my friends in awhile. And what does that say about me?

2:30 am. Just finished a paper for school. It was due by midnight. I gave myself an extension. My contacts are glued to my eyes. I'm tired. Today was a good day. Someone commented on my change of hairstyle. It was simply up in a ponytail instead of down as usual. I'm surprised guys notice that kind of thing. I was wearing my bright blue skirt today, the one I like. It looks good on me. When I wear that skirt, I walk with confidence, like hey world, it's me you've been looking for.

I didn't like class tonight. My teacher used the time to say a lot of inappropriate things and curse words. He blamed it on the subject. He laughed and said "I love how I can say @$$ cuz I'm an adult. We're all adults." That was definitely not the worst thing he said tonight. I cringed. I thought about leaving the room. Does that make me a prude, I wondered. Does it matter? What's wrong with being a prude, compared to these secular people with potty mouths who definitely need to was their mouths out with soap? Is that what being a grown up is all about? That now you get to say bad words and talk about explicit topics? Wahoo. You've made it.

We in the office were reminiscing about seminary/yeshiva, the 'good old days' in Israel. Who got into what, and I am referring to the 'naughty' behavior. Well, I was a prude. I didn't do anything bad in Israel. Not for lack of trying. But it didn't seem worth it, to screw up a year like that. One guy in my office said, oh so you were chassidish. Again with the labels. We leave high school but the labels follow us wherever we go. I want to be labeled as None. As in, what does it matter? I am not just a label. I am many different things.

The world is changing every day, and it's a beautiful thing. Some are sad changes, like the Fort Hood shooting. I say, if you want to kill yourself, go for it. Why take many other people down with you. Missing flight MH 370- still not found, and in my opinion probably never will be. Miley Cyrus is crying about her dead dog. James Franco is accused of flirting with an underage 17 year old. Chris Brown was arrested. Oh yes, all this is quality news stories. What I mean to say is, April Fool's day came and went, I read an article about a new reality TV show that would throw people into the wild with only the clothes on their backs, and they would have to learn to survive, all televised of course, for the viewers at home. As believable as it sounds knowing the junk reality shows these days, I did acknowledge the date on the calender, and since then have not been able to read a news story without trying to figure out if it was a prank or not.

Such is the world we live in.

In other news, I made cupcakes for a coworkers birthday. I hate surprise parties. After setting up the cupcakes and trying to find the best possible time to yell surprise, he walked in and said 'ooh cupcakes! Who's that for?". We all responded a weak, surprise... and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes. Would there be a way for me to send a cupcake in cyberspace, I would. Until then, feast your eyes on the pictures, and imagine the sweet vanilla cream cheese frosting, the soft and fluffy vanilla cupcake with a crispy top, and wish that you were eating one right about now.







And with that I say, goodnight.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh baby

He comes in smelling like smoke
that acrid stench that I hate
the one I'm coming to like
cuz it hangs around a lot.

Hey, I say, what's up,
it's been awhile since
I've seen your pretty face around here
what's new.

I'm good, he says,
I'm getting married.
Just like that.
Like a punch.

Ouch.
Isn't he like, 18, I whisper.
Office gossip.
That little kid that used to work here?

Oh ya, he's getting married.
I jokingly ask him if he's marrying a real girl.
What else can I say.
Hey baby, good for you.

It feels bitter every time,
like, hey kid give me a chance.
Oh ya and
you stink like smoke.

And we don't miss you around here. 



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Entitlement

Do you own your life? Or do you walk around feeling like everything you have is borrowed, that it doesn't really fit you?

I recently applied for a new credit card. I've had a credit card for a few years but the limit was pretty low and they didn't want to raise it. In the interest of building up my credit, I opened a second credit card and was approved.

I waited for my card to come in the mail. It didn't arrive in the promised time. I thought, maybe it wasn't meant to be. But I called the credit card company to see why it didn't come. I expected them to tell me that I was never approved, that it was a scam and I wasn't getting a credit card. They merely told me that they saw the card was mailed out and I should have received it.

I waited a couple more days and it finally showed up. I excitedly followed the steps to activate it online, and looked forward to making my first transaction with my spanking new shiny credit card.

I tried it twice today in two different stores, and was declined. Again I thought, there must be something wrong, it wasn't meant to be, it's not my card, their gonna take it away.

I called the 1-800 service, and they were very nice and helpful on the phone. They explained to me that the card was declined because it wasn't activated. I tried to tell them that I thought I had activated it online. They said no problem, we can do it for you right now, and you are good to go.

I keep looking in my wallet at my new card thinking, is that really mine? What if it gets declined again? It is so easy to write it off and say, it was never mine, I don't own it, it doesn't belong to me.

I do that with knowledge too. When I explain something to someone, if I don't feel that I own it then I will always feel unsure in what I am saying.

The best way to go through life is to own what you have, what you know, what you are. Be proud and be confident in it, and everyone else will know that it is you, instead of something you are just trying on for size.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Comfort

This sweater
will never
be the same as the feel of your arms
around me.

It's cold
in that place
I no longer call home
but that's the way you like it.

You remind me
that I don't live there anymore
and I can go "home"
and make it as hot as I want.

But where is "home"?
My mind is tired
I'm cold
The hour is late.

I want to go to sleep
but need to drive there first
and it's so far away
and this place is tempting.

But I have to go back
to my life
and my little room
cuz this is not my "home".

I hug my Abba
I'll never be too old to hug him.
I drive back
trying to keep my eyes open.

I hug my mama
she's not that far away
but I miss her
and the comfort of her arms.

I buy myself a warm sweater
and stay in it all day.
It warms me
but it will never be the same as "home". 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bye bye birdie

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... Gone.

One second you are cruising up in the air and the next second you are gone.

It's been days and no one knows where you went.

It's a mystery. It's baffling, they say.

Scratching their heads. Hmm, where should we search next.

There are pictures of relatives with signs that say 'Have hope'.

The cynic in me wants to say, give up. They are gone.

But my family was not on that plane.

Days will pass and the search will dwindle.

Months will pass, and there will be few people left still looking.

Years will pass and some investigators in a dusty office in the basement will pore over all the information, and replay it over and over in the hopes of finding something that may have been missed.

One day in the far off future people will ask each other, remember that story, will the plane, the one that went missing?

Their companion will say, ya that was a real head scratcher. I wonder what really happened to it.

And then they will resume drinking their coffee.

And those 239 people will remain missing.

While I call it a mystery and go on with my day, families of those 239 people remain in mourning, never knowing what happened to their loves ones.

And one day even those last few will stop looking. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One person can change the world

A shlucha passed away last night. She was 37 years old, and left behind 8 children. She comes from a family of 17 kids. I can't imagine what her family is going through right now. While I didn't know her personally, from the outpouring of comments and tears I know she was an amazing person who touched so many lives. 

BD"E... Her friends and family should find comfort. 

Today's Hayom Yom is eerily fitting: "Before embarking on a journey from your place of residence, arrange a Chassidic farbrengen and receive a parting blessing from your good friends, and as the familiar expression goes: Chassidim never say farewell, for they never depart from each other. Wherever they are, they are one family."

May this Purim be so joyous as to break through all the boundaries and be the last one we ever have to spend in Golus.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Afterthought

I'd pick up a pen to write, but who writes with a pen anymore? Does anyone write at all? Once upon a time I thought I'd be a writer. Haha. I am majoring in English and I haven't written anything significant in a long time. I don't want to think about it.

The weather has turned nice and suddenly people are outside, sitting, talking, walking, playing ball. It's light out and I'm happy. Winter depresses me. I can't wait to shed my winter coat.

A group of kids were huddled in the park, playing some sort of game. It's fun to watch kids play. I don't want to be a kid. I want to watch them in their natural habitat. Maybe learn from them how to be carefree.

I'm tired. I've been baking. Cupcakes, cake, brownies, cookies. Some for Purim, some for birthdays, parties. I'm not much of a baker but I can figure it out. I don't take pride in what I make. I get nervous until people put it in their mouths and say how good it is. And even them I know I could have made it better.

I got a costume for Purim. It's a secret. We'll see if it works out. I decided it would be fun to dress up. Get in the spirit of things.

I have a confession to make. My life is very routine lately. Boring, even. I can't think of anything to write about because nothing inspiring ever happens to me. My thoughts run a mile a minute and the conversations in my head are funny. But nothing seems worthy to share with the world.

Oh hey, I forgot about you. Are you still out there? Ya you. In that creepy only-happens-in-movies kinda way, imagine me pointing at you through your computer screen. Why do I have to do all the talking? Why don't you share something for a change?

I'm tired. Going to sleep now. I'll be back. (Just as soon as I can think of what to say.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Here comes the Sun

I close my eyes and feel you,
caressing my cheek like a lover might.
You surround me, but more, you fill me
and reach every empty space inside of me.

My eyes search for you,
I see you peeking through the clouds,
struggling to get out.
You crack the sky in half.

The glow spreads
until a ray reaches through
stretching out to earth
because you miss us as much as we miss you.

I smell you
fresh cut grass on a summer day
the scent of new clothing
smooth feel of bare legs.

You cushion my head like a pillow
seeping through my closes eyelids
turning the world orange
bright spots in my vision.

I'll forgive you sunburn,
and sweat
and discomfort
if only you would return.

Children sing about you
and ask you to shine down on them.
Well Mr. Sun, I've seen you
and you can hide no more.




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do you need a man?

Walking home from work today, some guy said to me, "Hello, how are you? Do you need a man?". There are unsavory characters in the area near my office. Stare straight ahead and keep walking. Repeat silently over and over, 'please don't follow me, please don't follow me'.

Um, no. I don't need a man. Particularly, I don't need you.

I'm not trying to fool myself. Yes, eventually I will meet a great guy and get married. Someday. But I don't need a man. I am learning more about myself each day, and what it takes to be the strong confident woman I know I am meant to be.

My mother is on a trip in Florida with my sister. My mother doesn't have Facebook but my sister is a serial poster. She keeps posting pictures of them on their trip. Here they are at the beach, visiting my grandparents, eating food, in the warm Florida sun. Yay. good for you. It's freakin cold here.

My mom looks so relaxed. She looks happy. I spoke to her last night, and she told me she is learning who she is away from her kids. My youngest brother is 16. We are all growing up. While I will always need my mother in my life, she has more free time now, and she is connecting with herself. My mom became a Baal Teshuva years ago, before she got married. I think the whole 'yidishkeit' thing was kind of thrust upon her, and by the time she was married and having kids, she just ran with it. Jump on the moving train, and all that.

In Chabad most married women wear sheitels outside the house. We consider it to be the most mehudar- the highest form of tznius for a women in covering her hair. There are many different kinds of acceptable head coverings, and while I respect everyone's decision, I was brought up being taught that a women wears a sheitel outside of the house.

Lately, I noticed that more and more my mother is wearing tichels (scarves) outside of the house. It is weird for me, because I always saw her putting on a sheitel to go out. But in this picture of her in Florida, she looks so beautiful. She's wearing a purple tichel that gives color to her cheeks, she looks relaxed and happy, and younger. She looks different. She says she is remembering what she was like before she became frum. My mom was talented. She acted in plays, she made up songs, she played musical instruments. She gave all that up when she became frum. Now she is trying to find a way to combine both parts of her.

I don't suppose people live their whole lives as one stagnant entity. No one wants to be stagnant. I'm young. I never thought beyond marriage, I can barely imagine myself having kids, let alone a life 'after kids'. I think it's nice that my mother is rediscovering herself now that she has an 'empty nest'.

I don't need a man to be me. I am learning how to be me on my own. How to be the best me that I can be. And when I do G-d willing find the person I will spend my life with, we will be two complete wholes joining together as one.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

About a Boy



With Valentine's day coming up, I've been thinking about boys. I think about them a lot lately. Mostly in the 'will he make a good husband' way, but sometimes 'he's cute' kind of way.

I hate any word related to 'shidduch, shadchan, profile, shidduch resume', etc. It annoys me. I hate putting myself on paper, fitting myself into a little box. I want to be free.

A family friend sent me a profile of a guy. I glanced at it. I hate having to determine 'is he what I'm looking for? Can I see myself with him?' like I have some sort of vision. Sometimes I don't see myself with anyone.

Long story short: the guy was interested. I was not. I have my reasons. But I am also proud of myself. When I first started dating and my self-esteem was kind of low, I felt like I had to go out with every guy who was interested in me because I probably had no shot with the guys that I was interested in.

But now I am able to determine if it is worth the trouble and stress of dating, or if maybe it is really 'not for me'.

I can say no. That's okay. I don't need to or want to go out with every guy that comes up. I have no interest in serial dating.

Ahhh, but Valentine's day. I hear in the secular world little boys and little girls are encouraged to give heart shaped cards to each other with a sweet Valentine's poem on it. No one wants to feel left out.

Too bad I can't stick a heart-shaped card in the locker of a secret crush and say 'I think ur cute'.

I did make my own fudge though, so I am way ahead of the game.

Happy shtusy love day.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fudge

I want fudge.

I want to make fudge.

I want to create this beautiful thing called fudge.

All I can think about is getting that delicious chocolaty peanut butter sweet bite in my mouth, and every second that I am away from it, it feels like I am dying.

Okay, snap out of it, I tell myself. It's just a little craving. It will pass.

But in my mind I am already planning to buy the ingredients tomorrow and make the fudge. Even though I know it is a really bad idea. I tell myself, it's cool, I'll just eat one piece and bring the rest to work. They'll love me.

One piece. Ha.

My brain is screaming, stop! Don't do it! Don't go any further. Drop the fudge, and no one will get hurt.

I wish it were that simple. I wish I could turn cravings off as quickly as they start.

On the cover of one of my textbooks stands a tiny little man at a crossroads. There are many arrows in front of him, each pointing in different directions. The subject is ethics, and the arrows must represent the many decisions one can make in life. To be moral, or to be immoral. The choice is up to you.

But it is not a choice, really. We, who got the Torah. We, who were told not to lie, told to be honest and just and good. Do we need a textbook to teach us to be ethical? It is laughable. And yet I sit in a classroom once a week, listening to these people discuss right and wrong like it is really a choice. It is torture.

We always have a choice. We can choose to be honest, or greedy. Ethical, or immoral.

I can choose to have the fudge, or resist temptation and let it go.

What will it be?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Leap of faith

The world is one big puddle. People slip and slide down the street, trying to find dry places to walk, only there are none. Their feet struggle for purchase, as they pray that they don't fall.

My boots are waterproof and my feet are dry, and for that I thank G-d and my good sense to spend money on well made winter boots. Two days ago when it snowed I thanked every person who shoveled the sidewalk, so I could walk by on snow-free ground.

Some people took the lazy way out and didn't bother to shovel, or even to put salt down. Maybe they figured that they could get away with it, after all the snow will melt eventually. But alas, it rained today. And not the pleasant rain that washes away all the snow, but the kind of rain that pelts at you in icy prickles, thudding on the roof of your umbrella (if you're lucky) and turned the hard packed snow into a dangerous ice rink. It makes those people who have no jobs grateful to be able to stay home, and for the unfortunate souls who must work for a living pray that they get there in one piece.

I learned quick enough that it is better to embrace the ice than to try and fight it, so I slid my feet along the sidewalk in a way that must be similar to skiing, except I've never been skiing. The sidewalk was not so bad, and it was a pleasant surprise every time I got to a relatively dry patch. I even saw a few guilty souls out there shoveling, scratching their heads like, 'oh ya, did I forget to do that 2 days ago when it actually snowed?'

You have to learn the etiquette of a narrow strip of shoveled sidewalk, when you see someone walking towards you. You both dart left, then right, then one  sucker (usually me) reluctantly steps aside to allow the other to pass.

Behold, the corner. A flood. It is comical. You see many a people make it to the corner, thanking G-d that they did not slip on the ice, only to find out that there is no where for  them to go. Straight? Maybe try to cross the street? It doesn't matter. You are on an island surrounded by water and there is no where to go but forward. Or backward. You must make a choice. Give up and go home, after you've come this far? Or keep going to reach your destination?

In life we are faced with so many challenges, big and small. Just when we think we have figured it out, we are gliding along tentatively thinking, 'I got this', I can do it, then life throws you a puddle and says, just wanted to test you to see how committed you really are.

Well, life, this time you will not see me fail. I remember the game of belts we used to play as kids. The aim of the game is to see how few leaps you can take to jump from one point to another. The one with the fewest strides is the winner.

I eye the puddle, and although my boots are water proof, I don't want to test them that badly.

So I back up a few steps...

I start running forward...

I leap, and hope I'll make it to the other side.

Dry and in one piece, I'm still going strong.

When life hands you a puddle, you take out a paddle and say, 'I got this'.

Friday, January 31, 2014

We Can

There is no I in team.

I never really thought about it nor did I care.

I don't consider myself a team player.

But give me a responsibility and I will thrive.

I trained a new person in this week. I barely recognized myself, the amount of patience I showed was unlike me. Today my coworker said jokingly, "Work is changing you". To which I retorted "You mean because I'm a nicer person now". She laughed. They all laughed. But it was the truth.

Working with people, especially training in new people can be extremely grueling, and sometimes I want to snap at someone, or ignore them, or brush them off, or tell them to figure it out themselves. But every time someone says "Altie I have a question, do you have a minute?" I say Yes, how can I help you. Because when you start saying no they will stop asking.And it feels nice having people come to you for advice.

I reached that point where I stopped wondering when I would move on to the next stage in life and leave this 'temporary' job. I stopped counting the months I've been here. I used to dread the thought of committing to one job for a long period of time. But now it is a great feeling to be able to say that I've been working here for over a year.

I may have a bit of team spirit in me after all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oh Joy

We hired a new guy in the office. I got to train him in. Oh joy.

It can be used in a sarcastic way. I have 25 pages to read for tomorrow. Oh joy.

Today I slipped on the ice on my way to work. Oh joy.

Or literally: I am loving my new class this semester! Oh joy.

I left my familiar building behind to broach into new territory. I'm taking a psych class. I'm not majoring in psych. The professor had us each say our name, what we are majoring in and what our job is. Everyone said psych, psych, psych, psych. I said, English major. He said, interesting, how did you end up here? I told him there were no English classes available. The honest answer. I got some laughs from that.

Psychology fascinates me. This particular class is industrial psych. The prof poses a question: Someone calls you up to ask about an employee who is not that great a worker. They ask you, how is he as an employee? What would you answer. Some people said, say the truth, don't hire him. I said, say good things to get him off your hands. Professors response: You will all be sued. The employee will come after you and sue you for slander. Never say a word, you send them to HR and say you can neither confirm nor deny that the peson ever worked for you.

Lesson one in the corporate world.

I am taking another class called business ethics. The book has a picture on the cover of a little guy standing at a crossroads with many arrows. I feel like that right now. I am majoring in one thing but interested in another, and not sure what I really want to do. I can't think past graduation and even then who knows which degree would help me more in life.

In work-related news, I trained in two new people in the last few weeks. Which means I am officially no longer the newbie (after working there almost a year and a half).

Good things are happening. Spring is right around the corner. (I always wondered why they call it Spring semester when it starts in the heart of winter.)

Hey man, stay warm.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where we go to get away

The snow obscures the ground. I cannot tell where the sidewalk ends and the street begins. I am not in control tonight. You are. And so I follow you.

These low lights and high stools and soft chatter. I've been here before. Well, not here, but places just like it. The haze that confuses you, you squint at your surroundings, but still you cannot see clearly. You wonder if that is the effects of the dimness, or too much alcohol. Then you don't care.

Tonight we are here not to drink, but to have fun. And we do. I laugh at the dirty jokes that are in poor taste, and the sorry people who make fun of themselves for a living. They get up there awkward and try to make a crowd laugh. Some people laugh. Some people titter. And some are just too drunk to care.

It's late and I'm too old for this. That's what I'm thinking at the beginning of the night. Too cold, too much snow, too tired, too sober for this.

But I didn't come just for the laughs. I came to say I did. And to see you.

I come home with a smile and a lighter step. I had a nice time. The snow will soon melt but tonight will stay with me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Museum Muse


People come here to get inspired. To experience culture firsthand. They come here for hours. They come many times as once is simply not enough to take in all this beauty and splendor.

What of me? Why do I come? Rather, why did I come. Because I won't be back. Been there, done that, got the sticker. I'm a one time kind of girl. Culture just isn't my thing.

I gaze at the paintings and try to care. Sculptures and statues and photographs. Drawings and masterpieces. Furniture. Quaint dining room sets. Gorgeous old jewelry. Musical instruments. Asian culture and Greek culture and Arabic culture and plain ole American culture. So many things in one place. One maze that takes you from room to room with guards that are always watching. Look but don't touch. No flash photography. No eating. Getting lost until it feels like one will never find their way out.

I want to lay down on the ground and soak it up like a sponge and see if it will seep into me. If being around all this culture will make me cultured as well.

But I'm not a sponge and I'm lost in a maze and claustrophobia sets in and I have to get out. Where's the exit, sir? How do I get out of here, ma'am? Air. I need fresh air. I need to be gone from all these paintings staring at me haughtily saying you naughty girl, you barely saw anything. Stay awhile, don't go now.

But I must go. Like a caged bird I yearn to be free. So I run and get outside in the fresh air and the sunlight and I walk until I see a sight worth stopping for. The sun shines on the reservoir as swans swim peacefully; the sun shines on the water in a cloudless sky. The air here is clear and fresh and I breath it in in large lungfuls. I would trade this for all the museums in the world.

I may not appreciate fine art on canvases in famous museums. But pure nature is G-d's greatest creation.

It feels good to be free.






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I thought you didn't care

Some people say, 'hey I'm coming home, bake me some cookies'.

I asked you to hide the cookies.

I didn't know that you listened.

Instead I heard what I wanted to hear. Disinterest in your voice. Distance. Like you didn't care.

So I didn't show. And you didn't call. And I thought you didn't care.

But cell phone reception was bad. So I didn't know that you called. Twice. And left  two messages. And texted. To say that you thought I was coming and you missed me.

I thought you didn't care if I came, but maybe that was my own insecurities talking.

And thanks for hiding all the junk food.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My opinion

You think you know what I will say before it leaves my mouth. Funny. Sometimes I don't even know what I will say when I open my mouth.

I say I don't discuss politics or religion, but what I'm really saying is that I want to be able to have an opinion without you disputing it on the basis that you disagree. We can disagree. That is what an opinion is. But don't try to change what I believe.

I surprise you sometimes. I know I do. You look at me shocked by the things I say, claiming that I used to leave the room when you would discuss those topics. Not true really. You would gossip, which I hate. I was merely reading an article that someone else wrote, which I don't even agree with.

There is a buzz going around Facebook. When is there not. You think I'm the type to jump on board, to add my voice to the melee, to call for blood. You don't know me. I would rather stand in the corner and watch everyone running around like headless chickens and smirk because I know better.

I may not know better. But why are you making an outcry? Why are you pointing fingers? First you accuse people of paying no attention to a story and then when they do, you complain that they are giving the story negative coverage. Well what do you expect? Negativity sells. And all they want to do is sell a story.

I am not heartless. Maybe we simply have a different understanding of the same subject.

It's funny how you think you know how I will react. I say I will not get involved, I would rather keep my opinion to myself.

Sometimes that is simply because I have no opinion on the matter. And sometimes it is because I know you will crucify me for what I believe, and I don't need that.

We can discuss Kim Kardashian's latest pictures if you want. I have an opinion on that.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Chance

2013 was a pretty good year. I have no regrets.

Let's talk about goals. I made a goal and I didn't reach it. Tomorrow is New Years. But that doesn't mean that the goal is over. It's one of those goals that can extend beyond the time set out.

So I am filing for an extension. I will keep at it, and G-d willing reach my goal soon, and set new goals and reach those as well.

2014 feels weird in my mouth, but I never really liked 2013 anyway. I don't like odd numbers.

G-d willing this year will be a good one.

Glass ball, is there a tall handsome man in my near future?

Best wishes for all of you in the secular new year.

Dear Notebook

I've missed this. I used to write in you all the time back in sem, when I didn't have a laptop and my thoughts would run and I had to write them down or lose them forever.

Lately I've stopped thinking so much. Or I got so busy I had no time to think. Or I didn't let myself think. Which is good because sometimes when I think too much bad thoughts pop into my head, sad depressing thoughts, and lately my thoughts have been normal and happy and stable.

But I'm not sure what day of the week it is. I'm gonna say Monday, but it doesn't feel like Monday. It feels like this week has been going on forever and so tomorrow must be Wednesday which means pizza day in the office, only it's not Wednesday and I don't eat pizza.

Break time means free time which means boredom or an all-consuming need to fill up the silence with noise, preferably the kind that quiets your thoughts and makes you stop thinking. Only, TV drama is way worse than real life. It sucks you in, and suddenly you find yourself loving/hating/involving/investing yourself in fake relationships you see through your computer screen, and when you turn off the show you can't stop thinking about it, and when you go to sleep you can't stop thinking about it, and when you work you can't stop thinking about it, and it consumes you and you know it's time to stop but you just can't turn it off.

You want someone to shut it off for you and tell you to stop watching shows that suck you in so much and make you sick when the characters fall in love or out of love, and you know it's all fake but you can't help it.

But no one comes to shut it off.

12:00 AM comes and you find yourself standing in the kitchen thinking it's time to make a lunch and go to sleep and you can't move.

So you call home and listen to your father's voice on the phone, which is weird because you hardly ever speak to him for so long at a time, and then he says hold on and so you hold on for 3, 5, 7 minutes but he doesn't come back and you know he's forgotten about you.

So you do the mature thing and drag yourself to bed and vow that tomorrow you won't watch that show anymore. But you know you can't stop.

You can't wait for break to be over and life to go back to normal, while wondering what it is about the TV drama that makes your life seem so boring. But that's what TV does to you.

And you wonder if somewhere out there is someone who will know when to pull you back from the edge.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Six Word Challenge

Hemingway was asked to enter a contest: write a meaningful book that contains only six words.

He wrote: "For sale. baby shoes, never worn." - an entire world in those six words.

What would yours be?



(Credits go to a Facebook friend for posting this.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Oh Boy(s)

Long ago when I was young and innocent, I was uncomfortable around boys. They made me feel self-conscious. I would move differently, talk differently, think differently around them, always wondering how they perceived me. I would make a big deal out of every small glance, every spoken word, wondering if he was thinking about me, what he thought about me. For instance, when I was fourteen and I called my neighbor to speak to her, the sixteen year old boy answered the phone, and he asked how I was doing, how's school, etc. Forever after I kept thinking how nice it felt that he took an interest in me. (I may have had a crush on him).

Fast-forward like four years. At eighteen my sister got engaged, and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon. I was in seminary and I told my mother I was absolutely ready to get married, and I wanted to start dating. After some determination it was decided that I was not ready. (Married at 18? Haha, says my present self to past self.)

A few years after that I started dating. It was exciting and nerve wracking at first, but it quickly turned to draining and annoying, each date a roller coaster on its own. No matter how many times I tell myself that I won't care if it doesn't work out, it is hard nevertheless feeling like it will never happen for me.

But, life happens, things settle, and I began to feel calm and that it will happen at the right time. Better to get married at the right time to the right person, than too soon to the wrong one.

Enter: my young roommate. In her late-teen-early-twenty stage, all she can talk about is boys. To my knowledge, she has not dated once. But all the time it's "My mom says this dress looks so great on me, all the boys will be after me". or "So this cousin who is seven years old wants to set me up with her other cousin who is like nineteen, and I'm like, no way! That's so embarrassing!". Or "I was at a shabbos table full of guys and the host asked me who I'm married to, so I flipped my hair and said, 'no one'." Or, "My chaseedish cousin who is like six wants me to date her uncle, he's like eighteen and that's normal by them. And every time I'm there they mention him and I'm like, guys stop, it's embarrassing." Or "I was by my friend's house and her brother asked me to leave the room because he was going to work out, so I said, right like I've never seen guys work out before, but he insisted that he doesn't like working out in front of people. So I left the room but I had to go back in to get something, and he was shirtless."

My first reaction whenever she does this (which is all the time) is to say, shut. up. Get over it. There are tons of guys in the world and you are bound to bump into a lot of them, or be teased about dating them. So seriously, grow up and get over it.

But then I remember how I was at her age. Young and innocent and convinced that you could go out with any guy and iy would work out, cuz guys are like, guys, and aren't they all the same?

But no. They are not. And maybe while I have realized that I need just one, no matter how hard it is to fine, she is still in that stage of 'oh wow look how many are out there, so many possibilities'.

And who am I to wipe the stars from her eyes? She will find out soon enough, dating isn't all that it's made out to be.

Friday, December 20, 2013

For my mom

Who goes wherever her kids need her.

And for my dad, who follows her wherever she goes.

I love you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who will bring the food?

She asks me to go over there, make sure he's alright. She doesn't tell me, but I know if she were here that's what she would do. Maybe he wants to talk, she says. Probably not. Maybe he doesn't want me there at all.

She's worried about him. But don't tell him I told you to go. Right, like he thinks I would just show up on my own, out of concern.

So I go. I bring food, because how could I show up empty handed? I say, I brought cream cheese sandwiches, I'm not really sure what you like. I don't know what he likes. I don't know if he wants to talk. I don't know how he feels. But I came with food.

I ask him how he's doing. He responds as expected. What are you really supposed to say in this situation?

I don't know. So I bring food. And I tell them I'm here if they need anything. I know they probably won't take me up on the offer. But that's what my mother would do.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What are you afraid of?

He sits down next to me and I freeze in place. I barely breath, my eyes focused forward, unblinking.

"Hows your evening going?" he says.

"Great," I say, hoping like hell that he will get up and move on.

He is sitting so close to me, not touching me but just barely. "Are you happy?" he asks. I don't respond.

'Please leave me alone. Please leave me alone. Please leave me alone' I repeat in my head, over and over.

But he doesn't. He just keeps talking. He says he thinks it's nice that I don't have a phone in front of my phone. That the world needs more people like us. I am not willing to put him and I in the same category.

When I relax enough to move my head, I notice his fingernails are cracked and dirty. He has a rolled joint between his fingers. Some of his teeth are missing. For all intents and purposes, he looks homeless.

But he doesn't smell bad. I notice that.

He keeps talking, I try to tune him out but he won't stop.

He says he just wants to talk, he's a good guy, he just wants to connect with other people.

He says his name is William, by the way, and he hopes one day I will remember him as a good guy.

He seems to think that we are alike, and I hope that is not true.

 But I decide he seems harmless enough, so I start responding. "Are you happy?" I fire back at him.

He says not really, he is lonely sometimes and he just wants company.

He mentions Jewish people. I ask him if he believes in G-d. He says he doesn't believe in one G-d who runs the world, he thinks we are each our own G-ds and goddesses.

I tell him that I believe in G-d. And by the way, I'm Jewish. He says that's nice.

Thank G-d it is now my stop. I stand to get off. He stands too. I groan.

He says, oh I actually have to get off here too. I need to go to C___ station.

I say, you missed it, it's two stops back that way. He says he will walk.

I say it's a long walk, just take the subway.

Please don't follow me, Please don't follow me, Please don't follow me, I think over and over again. He doesn't follow me.

I leave the station. My heart is pounding. 

William, you are right. It is sad that there are so many bad guys out there in the world that we are taught to be afraid of them all. I live in New york and I know that the subway is ripe with weirdos. My first instinct is to run in the other direction.

If I wasn't afraid, I would tell you that I am happy, for the most part. That I'm a writer, and isn't that cool? That I'm different than a lot of people, that you and I have something in common, we both want to connect to people, but the difference is that you try while I block everyone out. I don't need people, I say. They are burdensome and annoying. They speak a different language. We have nothing in common.

William, why me? Out of all the anonymous faces on the train, why did you choose to sit down next to me? And why when you ask such a simple question, are you happy, does my heart pound and my mind is saying yes but thinking hmmm I never thought about it cuz no one ever asked.

I'm afraid of you, because I fear the unknown. Had I known you were no threat we may have had a pleasant conversation.

But I am also afraid of myself, and what I would discover if I let my guard down.

I'm afraid of what will come out when I open my mouth. I have so much to say, but no one really asked.

Why me?

Stay warm tonight, William. I will remember you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The World and I

"There's no I in team". That's what they like to say, anyway.

If I help you, will you help me? Will we do this together?

But it was I who was up until 6 am writing my paper. It is I who will give it in. It is I who will be graded on it.

You encourage us to discuss, share, learn from each other. But what happens when I get paired with the one person in class who barely speaks or writes English properly? In an English class. An English major. It is grade school all over again as I search the crowd seeking out a partner, someone, anyone but him. And all I want to say is, why sir are you majoring in English when you can barely write it?

It is torture reading a poorly written paper, and to have to comment and evaluate it is hard. I want to mark it with a big red F and move on with my life. I know better. I am smarter. I am greater. My paper is complete, it meets the guidelines, it is perfect.

Why then must you ask us to reread, to rethink, to question, to restate, to reask, to revise, to rearrange? All words that begin with 're', the prefix that means to do over again. But I don't want to do over again, I want to be done with it. Don't make me question it, I have no answers.

Yes, I'm tired. My brain is lazy. It wants to curl up in warmth and sleep and stop revising a paper that will have no impact on my life.

I don't need you to tell me how to do things, because I already know.

Who said that I am right and you are wrong? Who said that the way we speak and write is right or wrong or must comply with the rules? Who has made these rules?

In an alternate universe, you would read my paper and groan at how bad it is and how hard it is for you to read such junk. You'd think to yourself, if only everyone could write like me the world would be a better place. You would walk outside and think that the sky is shining for you, that the birds are singing for you, that everyone is praising you for you are great.

I easily slip into the mode of right and wrong. Why do you heat up water in the microwave instead of on the stove, that's just dumb. Why do you straighten your hair every day, it looks just fine curly. Why do you take advil when you have a headache, be a man and suffer through it.

The question, really, is why is the world not more like me.

But instead of telling you what a stupid paper you wrote, I smile and say that you have a good start, here is where you can go with it.

I say, oh poor you I'm sorry you have a headache, when all I'm thinking is, (*cough*)drug abuser(*cough*).

The world may be full of idiots, or I may need to learn more tolerance, or both.

The answer lies not in the world, but in me.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The House Across The Way

I see them mostly every day. I can't say I really know who they are. We share a walkway. I say a neighborly 'Hi, how are you' when I see them. She's a mom, with two kids. There's no husband around. I thought he died. I heard they're divorced. I didn't care enough to find out which was true.

The little girls sat outside one day with a table full of toys from their house, yelling "Sale! Sale!". In an effort to help them out I bought a pack of playing cards for two dollars. They told me I was their second sale of the day.

On Purim I did the neighborly thing and accepted shaloch manos for them when people came around, rather than letting it sit outside their door.

I chatted briefly with the mom. I offered to let the girls wait inside my apartment when their mom wasn't home. I've seen them in school uniforms and assumed they attended the local frum girls' school. I hear them coming and going. I'm a New Yorker at heart. I can't say I really know them. I can't say I really care.

One day I saw them outside wearing pants. I looked twice to be sure they were the same little girls who lived next door. They were. I said hi and walked past. It made me sad.

I try not to be a nosy person, but I wondered if anyone knew, if anyone cared what was happening to the family. I only sort of know their names.

One Shabbos I heard the little girls outside. I am slightly ashamed to say I spied on them through the peephole. I heard them call their mother. No one answered the door. The older girl said, in a nervous voice, "I'm gonna ring the doorbell". The little one looked uncomfortable. She rang the doorbell and I ran quietly away from the door, thinking about what I saw. Their mom came to the door. I'm not sure, but I think I heard her voice through the intercom.

I'm thinking, somebody should do something about this. Anybody. But not me. I barely know them. I'm not nosy. What would I say?

And so I stood by and did nothing, and let these Yidishe neshamos slip away.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A simple gesture

He appears at my desk and immediately I wonder what he wants.

"I just wanted to say hi".

I say hi, in a bewildered voice.

"How are you?", he asks, with concern in his voice.

He asks like he cares. Like I am important and my state of being matters to him.

I say I'm fine, thanks, it's nice to see you.

He works in the upper management of the company and I've only spoken with him a few times. It is nice to feel like he knows me.

Say hi like you mean it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pity

There are times in life when we show the world how strong we are, that despite any situation we can keep going and stay strong. We scorn pity, we say no thanks we're fine, move along.

Then there are those times like when you get your wisdom tooth taken out and all you want is for people to say 'awww how's it feeling, that really sucks'.

Ya it sucks. I can't eat anything, I can't drink anything, there's blood, and I'll spare you the rest.

I may be brave but coddling would be nice. (Thanks mom).