Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I've often heard the older generation lamenting the fact that nowadays there is no privacy because people have no qualms about talking about everything on their cellphones when they're in public. today while riding public transportation i learned quite a lot about the frum woman behind me

her name is Perel

she lives in Boro Park

she works for a non-profit organization

she has a staff of three and doesn't really love her boss so much

she's working on a big project for before Purim where she plans to send home some material with the kids

one of her really good friends just got divorced and went through a really tough time with an overprotective, abusive husband (I'm not making this up, i heard her telling her friend that she needs to "detox from victim mode, because you're husband was a horrible abusive person")

i gleaned all this information from various phone calls she made to colleagues and friends. but the best was when she called her friend Yehudis who'd just had a baby. the call went something like this:

"hi, it's Perel, is Yehudis around? (pause) oh sure, thank you! (laughs) Yehudis, hiiiii!!! how's your baby??? how are you feeeelinggggggg?? hello was that your babysitter, she's hysterical!! what? That was your husband?? that TOTALLY sounded like a woman!!"

at this point i couldn't control myself anymore and i actually burst out laughing. she must have heard me because she lowered her voice a little bit and moved back a seat.

in fact, sister2 told me that when she called me (my conversation was very quick and to the point, and my voice was very quiet) she heard a woman talking very loudly.

seriously, what has this world come to!?!? (head shake) adults these days....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

over shabbos something came up that got me thinking.

we were discussing the parsha at the table, and my cousin was re-enacting how Chushim ben Dan knocked off Eisav's head with a stick and it rolled into Mearat Hamachpaila. that was when someone commented how some of the parshiot are bloodbaths. sister2 pointed out that the stories from Navi can be even more gruesome, as the Jewish kings were constantly fighting battles for land.
"they always got stabbed in the same spot" she commented "right below the fifth rib"

"well that's the spot that closest to the heart" my dad said. he looked at me "right, Miss Nursing Student?" (whenever we discuss anything anatomy or medical related, my parents look to me for confirmation. definitely keeps me on my toes!)

so i explained about the PMI for listening to the apical pulse being in the fifth intercostal space at the mid-clavicular line. but then i recalled how sometimes it takes me a good minute or two to find the right spot to listen to the heart. i wonder how warriors in battle were able to find it in an instant. maybe they had soldiers who were designated to run ahead and grab the enemies, hold them down and feel under their armor for the ribs, count to the fifth, and mark it with a Sharpie, so the advancing army would know exactly where to shoot.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

this winter, is going to be electrifying.


Ive found in the past weeks that I'm extremely static-y. i walk across a carpet, and touch the doorknob and it sparks. when i open my car door, i feel a slight singe when my fingers come in contact with the metal. and my hair stands straight up every time i touch it.

i can spray as much Static-Guard as i want, but it doesn't really help. and i can't stand the way it smells. i feel like one of these days I'm going to spontaneously combust.

so if you see me, don't hug me please. just wave hi. and if you need to pass me something, just toss it to me. because if you do touch me, you're in for a shocking experience.

Friday, December 18, 2009

the late nights spent studying...

the mornings i woke up a lot earlier than i wanted to...

the hours spent studying in the library...

the afternoons spent on chairs and the floor of the skills lab...

coming home from clinicals with the smell of nursing home and hospital in my clothing and my hair... all became worth it when i sat down in my professor's office yesterday and she looked up at me and said "congratulations, you passed!"

another semester of nursing school under my belt...and I'm a little bit closer to my goal.

the countless coffee cups and scattered textbooks give silent testimony to all that I've been doing. now i can clean my room up, and put the books back on the shelf. now i can hang up my stethoscope and put my uniform in the back of the closet. now i can read all the books i haven't been able to finish, because i didn't have those long hours to just sit and read. now, i have vacation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

there's a frum female singer out there who is generally well-liked in my house by myself and sister1. some of her songs have made it to the list of regularly sung songs, along with some JEP songs, Journeys songs (we've finally learned all the correct lyrics, my parents still have a field day with the fact that we used to sing about "religious doorbells" instead of "religious dogma" we were like 8 and 9 at the time) and a few Shwekey tunes.

but i was singing a particular song one day, when i suddenly realized what i was singing and felt the need to explore the lyrics further:

is the way to happiness the path to success
can i be satisfied if I'm something less
than the doctor, the lawyer they hoped i would be
so what if I'm happy just to be me

each day every hour, on me they depend
to be mother a sister, plus a wife and a friend
i have a profession, though no PHD
but today i am happy just to be me

i don't need a license, don't need a degree
for I'm in the business of a woman you see
my life's full of meaning and my home's full of life
i don't need all that money to be doing all right
there's not much vacation, get no time to rest
my house is my office, and my kitchen's my desk
i work for Hashem, yes the Torah's my trade
maybe I'm overworked but I'm not underpaid

i spent at least twenty minutes trying to write out how i thought about this songs, but no matter how i put it, i sounded nasty or just plain stupid. so i'm going to leave the comments to the people who do it best (my readers) and the opinion-giving to those who do it best (my relatives) because i know that you'll either leave your opinion here or tell it to me the next time i see you :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

i have a classmate named Jamie who is a secular Jew, but knows more about Judaism than i would have expected from her. although her opinions and views of the Orthodox community are sometimes slightly skewed, it's always fun to hear what she knows

we were talking about FrumClassmate's chassan (FrumClassmate recently got engaged)
Jamie: what's his name?
FrumClassmate: (hesitates) Mordy
Brittany: Mordy? what kind of name is that?
Jamie: it's short for Mordechai
(turns to FrumClassmate) what's he doing? is he still in yeshiva?

On Jewish names:
Jamie: i have a Jewish name! it's Rochel Tzivia. my husband can't pronounce it, so he calls me Rokkel Sylvia-he's not Jewish so he's not so good at the "ch" sound-and i tell him 'honey, it's Tzivia, not Sylvia"
Brittany: cool, what's my Hebrew name?
Jamie: you don't have one because you're not Jewish
Brittany: so did you get your Hebrew name at your bar mitzvah?
Jamie: ha! boys have bar mitzvahs and girls have bat mitzvahs, but i got it when i was born

On the laws of modesty:
FrumClassmate: tomorrow Ora is coming to study with us
Brittany: is Ora Orthodox too?
FrumClassmate: sort of
Brittany: but she wears pants, are you allowed to wear pants too?
Jamie: no pants aren't modest. i wear pants because I'm Reform

On restaurants:
FrumClassmate: I'm starving
Me: if we finish early, you can go grab some food for lunch
FrumClassmate: yea, i wish, but i have a gown to fit into (i will be closely monitoring Frum Classmate for signs of morphing into a Brido-Sapien)
Jamie: hey yea, you can go to Purple Bear
Me: Purple Pear, and where did you hear about that?
Jamie: i heard the Orthodox girls in my Monday class talking about it

On kosher:
Jamie pulls out a hero sandwich and starts to eat
Lisa: oh man I'm starving, I'll trade you half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for half of your sub
(yes, at twenty and twenty six people are still trading lunch)
Jamie looks up at me: you want some? oh wait it's not kosher, I'm sorry
(people often feel the need to apologize for eating non-kosher food in front of me)
she rummages in her bag and comes out with a protein bar: see it's got the circle with the U in it, that means the rabbi blessed it so you're allowed to eat it right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

things to remember for my final

1. patients can be in negative nitrogen balance when they are severely bleeding or have large burns
2. an extra hour of sleep the night before the final is more beneficial than an extra hour of cramming
3. care not documented is care not done
4. wearing a bright colored shirt helps me stay positive and focused
5. recommended daily allowance of fiber is 21-38 grams
6. the first answer, is usually the correct one. if i change an answer, i'll probably end up regretting it
7. any action that is nurse-initiated is an independent one
8. there's only so much i can study, and after that, i have to just take a deep breath and do my best

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shabbos Chanuka.

definitely a highlight in my family. yet another gathering of relatives to look forward to.

although this year, the numbers will be significantly decreased. alas, the Far Away Aunt will not be in town with her brood like she was last year. we'll all miss her very much. although i won't miss her as much as everyone else, because I'll be going there on hiatus in January :) in addition, Uncle2 might not be coming, as last heard, a number of his kids were sick, but we're hoping that will change so they can join in the festivities. indeed brother2 is hoping so. because without the Far Away cousins, and the Three Wisecracking Musketeers in yeshiva, Cousin Scooter will be the only boy cousin, and if he doesn't come, poor brother2 will have to spend an entire weekend with three sisters and a school of squeaking female cousins.

I'm hoping for a shabbos free from plays and choirs. since sister2 was little, it's become somewhat of a tradition to perform a skit of some sort. unfortunately, it's also become a tradition that there are too many directors and petulant actors, fighting, and at least three people quitting, and everyone ending in tears, before all the adults are sheparded into the playroom and instructed to sit on the floor and watch. the worst play was entitled The Three Rotten Eggs, or something like that. but hopefully after Pesach's play, which was really watching some cousins play house and "pretend" (was it only in jest?) to throw fake crockery at each other, while managing to to wreck the basement, while those on the floor alternated between chuckling and casting sideways horrified glances at my grandfather to see his reaction, there won't be anymore plays.

Of course any meal wouldn't be complete without Aunt3's mojitos, and if sister1 remembers her Cocktails for Dummies, some more interesting drinks. i hope she remembers, as I'm getting a little bored of mint flavored rum, even if my aunt does have cool martini glasses.

but above all, it's a time we're all looking forward to (maybe Aunt3 less then everyone, as she's hosting most of the crowd this year), to get together and spend time with each other, and strengthen the bond of family that ties us together.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost: one ipod

first generation nano
about three and half inches tall
black face, silver back, badly scratched
answers to the name Jordan
last seen about two weeks ago

i have no clue where my ipod is and it's driving me crazy. i like to think that i don't lose things; i merely misplace them. I've had bracelets that I've "lost" dozens of times, only to have them show up, or remember where I've left them. this doesn't cause me to be careless with my possessions, but i haven't the slightest clue as to where my ipod could be. I've checked my bottomless green bag millions of times, thoroughly searched my car and my dad's car, and searched sister1's bedroom from top to bottom. i spoke to everyone who's homes and cars I've been in in the past two weeks, and it hasn't shown up. i can't fall asleep, can't wind down at the end of the day, and can't study without it. I've had my ipod since eleventh grade, and i feel like i'm missing a friend.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

i find nail polish, like crayons, to be slightly disappointing.

they both have such lovely colors, and one would expect them to taste or smell really good too.

as a kid i remember biting into a crayon, only to find that it tasted like wax. the Crayola crayons prove to me the most deceptive, because they have such descriptive names, and they all taste the same. slightly waxy, and not very tasty.

and while i never tasted nail polish (i think it would be slightly more toxic than crayons) it never smells like the color looks like it should, but just smells like nail polish.

i was in a clothing store, paying for clothing, when i saw a nail polish labeled Espresso Yourself. the color was such a lovely brown, and really looked like chocolate. i uncapped the bottle and sniffed, only to be hit with the usual nail polish smell. "ugh, smells like nail polish" i muttered to myself. i placed the bottle back on the rack, and looked up, only to be greeted by the puzzled face of the cashier. i bet she was wondering what i expected it to smell like.

i have a nail polish that's a deep purple. that too proves to be disappointing, because it doesn't smell anything like the plum shade that's found in the bottle.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving is replete with traditions.

i know that almost every frum family who shops in Pathmark (or is it Shoprite?) is eating a turkey this shabbos, and we've done that this past year, but my dad's away in Israel until Monday, so we're eating at my uncle this shabbos ("no I'm not dating anyone now" "no i don't make up my numbers when i take the patients' vital signs" "no i don't even have one drink when I'm driving home")

i decided to skip the Black Friday tradition this year, after last year's fiasco at Best Buy. it seems that my family doesn't have such good luck with Best Buy sales. today my grandfather waited on line at Best Buy in New Jersey, which supposed to be opening up at 5 am. unfortunately, the cops were there too. apparently there's some law in New Jersey that states that stores can't open before 7, so he left.

but i did go to the parade yesterday. i didn't want to wake up earlier than i have to do on a regular day, and i had no interest in hanging out on the curb, watching sunrise, just to get a good spot. i ended up on 42nd, watching a few cartoons floating in the sky, and then managed to worm my way through the crowd, and got close enough to the street to be able to see the marching bands. having spent a year fighting with pushy Israelis, the crowd didn't phase me much. my friend and i took turns standing on each others feet. i felt quite old when some cartoon characters that i didn't recognize came by, but for the most part i was able to name most of them.

since the Macy's block was closed off, we couldn't look at the windows displayed, but we did check out the ones at Lord and Taylor, as well as watching the skaters at the pond in Bryant Park. i love watching people skate. i don't know what i find more comical-the three-year-olds who look like they were born with skates on their feet, or the adults who look like a newborn deer standing on their legs for the first time. or maybe the three-year-olds skating circles around the adults.

it was an altogether relaxing and enjoyable vacation. and to all the naysayers out there who told me i would be stuck in traffic for hours and hours; total traveling time, there and back, was under three hours

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i am thankful for

Starbucks lattes, which keep me awake when my brain stem can't

my nursing advisor, who always is available to listen to me vent

flash drives


my ability to focus which allows me to study for hours on end

the patience of my friends and family, who put up with my rants

the ability to go to college and pursue my dream


clean linen

my health

the right to live without persecution

Monday, November 23, 2009

the books in the college library have disappeared.

the library has two floors. the downstairs floor is mainly used for study groups and socializing, but the back and sides have numerous shelves which always contained a lot of books. (obviously) all the nursing textbooks are on the side shelves, so i never really browsed the section in the back. as such, i couldn't tell you which books were found there, but apparently nobody else was looking at those books either. behind the shelves are about eight tables where people sit and study. i prefer to sit upstairs for many reasons, but mainly because it's warmer and a little quieter. two weeks ago the tables upstairs were full so i was sitting downstairs, when i felt like something was different. at first i couldn't put my finger on it. then i realized the acoustics were different. the voices had previously been bouncing off the shelved books...and there weren't any books anymore! the shelves were all empty. there were no signs explaining why the books had been taken off the shelves, and nobody seemed to be searching for an answer.

which might be why they've disappeared.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lately, I've had the same discussion with a lot of my single friends.

they're all waiting for their match to be discovered. it's very easy to say the right words "i know he's out there...when the time is right we'll meet...i just have to have bitachon..." but actually believing that it's all in His hands is a lot harder than that. i feel like I've spent all my years in a Bais Yakov school, hearing teachers talk about having faith, and emunah, and total trust. when you're in high school, and you are lucky to live an blessedly ordinary life, there isn't much to test you in your faith. but once you're waiting for something big, you can actually see how much harder it is to actually have emunah that the right one is out there, and one day you will meet your destined other half.

and it becomes so clear that you can do everything humanly possible, but at the end of the day, it is all up to Him, and only when He deems it the right time, will you find the right one.

if it's hard now, i can only imagine the emunah it takes to be a parent, and raise a child, and hope that it all turns out OK.

it comes it little moments of self-doubt, late at night, or in shul looking at a neighbor's little grandchildren, or at a wedding of yet another friend. the important thing to know is that you're not the only one who's struggling. you may feel like you're alone, but you're not. there are other people out there who are going through the same thing you are. so call someone up. cry on a shoulder. that's what friends are for. and keep holding on to the faith that He cares about you and has a plan for you, that's only going to benefit you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

being the only religious Jew in my clinical of eight students, means I'm somewhat of a interesting person. in terms of diversity, we're pretty even, but when it comes to religion I'm the only who one who's actually practicing. having been properly warned by everyone in my life, i steer clear of any philosophical discussions regarding keeping Shabbos, only eating Kosher, or believing in an afterlife. the girls in my class just wanted to know if I'm going to "have an arranged marriage" I've gotten pretty good at explaining, in the briefest and simplest of terms how the shidduch system works.

I've never been asked out by any of classmates, something that I'm thankful for, especially having heard stories from my friends who've had to politely but firmly decline offers from interested classmates. but last week a guy in my class tried to set me up.

his patient was an older Chassidic guy, who's young grandson was helping him get dressed and read over the Torah portion of the week. after my classmate (whose name is Sal) finished up with morning cares, he came over to me with a grin
"hey listen, i was talking to Mr. G's grandson-he's twenty two, and pretty smart. he's also not bad looking, and a really nice guy, very respectful to his elders. come with me, i want to introduce him to you"

even after i smiled and politely declined, he insisted that i was missing out by not agreeing to be introduced to said grandson. so i explained that this fellow was Chasidic, while i was looking for someone more mainstream Orthodox. But Sal just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, convinced i was making a big mistake. i half expected him to turn around and say "listen mamela, this one's a real ilui, you should at least agree to meet him!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the mildly dangerous wildlife animals are slowly taking over the neighborhood.

deer and turkey are abound in my area. since i live across the street from a heavily wooded area, it was never uncommon to see deer crashing through the foliage or occasionally see a wild turkey early in the morning on the way to school, but lately they've become more bold, and less scared of humans.

recently I've seen more and more wild turkeys on the road, and they aren't afraid of the cars. they don't scatter in a satisfying noisy flurry of big wings and weird turkey-sounds. in fact, they just poke their skinny necks out and look at me with big beady eyes. it would be funny if it wasn't so annoying. it's not like i can just run the creatures over. I'd probably get fined because it's not hunting season or something.

as for the deer, I've started seeing them on our lawn more and more often. the other week when i opened the front door three of them went running past the front walk. i felt like i was in a scene out of Pocahontas or something. but by far the scariest was when i came home late on night, and parked my car, only to find a huge deer standing on the lawn, about four feet away from my car. when i got out of the car and made my way towards the front door, it started moving towards me. so i decided to spend the night in my car. but after about six minutes of thinking about my comfortable bed, i realized that i wanted to be inside. so i made a mad dash for the garage, woke up everyone in the process, but at least got safely inside.

but it's slightly unsettling that the animals aren't scared of cars. kind of like a child who realizes that his parent can't control him. now he's fearless and will do whatever he wants. before you know it, the wildlife will be in control. i say get out vests and start hunting. and maybe we can get rid of the Canadian geese while we're at it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

this tale is an epic one of sadness. it speaks of pain and betrayal, of tears of agony and frustration.

it's the story of our vacuum cleaner. it's a big heavy clunker of a vacuum, with a long hose and a huge canister. we've had it for as long as i can remember.

let me start off by explaining, that everyone has that one household chore they abhor. sister 1 hates doing dishes. sister 2 dislikes ironing and folding laundry. and i don't like vacuuming. maybe it's the model we own, but in my mind, i associate vacuuming the house with lugging a very large, and unwieldy machine up a flight of stairs, squashed toes, and smashed feet. did you know that if you hit your ankle bone with a metal piece that it's really really painful? like seeing-stars-wanting-to-yelp-very-loudly-painful

as far back as i can remember, there's always been something wrong with the vacuum. they guy who fixes it is practically on speed dial, and at least once a month when my mom goes out, she leaves last minute instructions, "if Mr. L calls, tell him he can come by to look at the vacuum, the broken piece in question is by the front door."

i compare it to the story of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. for anyone who doesn't know it, the Tin Man was once a regular woodcutter who accidentally cut off his arm, and got it replaced with a tin arm. (i think there was a beautiful girl, and evil witch, and a cursed axe in the story too) the same thing happened with the rest of his body over time, so that at the end, he was completely made of tin. after all the years of being fixed and replaced, i don't think any part of the vacuum cleaner is of the original one that we used to own.

i think my mother has a sentimental attachment to the monster, because i for one, wish we can get rid of it. i think vacuuming on my hands and knees with a Dustbuster would be more pleasant at this point.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

completing my clinical rounds in nursing homes has made me very thankful that i am healthy. it's taught me to appreciate the gift of youth, and to be glad for everything I've been blessed with.

when my hair gets long, and i need to get a haircut, i am thankful that i have all my hair
when I'm about to go somewhere and my gas light goes on, i am thankful that i can drive
when my siblings wake me up, or ask me for rides, i am thankful that they are all healthy and under one roof
when my friends cancel our plans at the very last minute, i am thankful that i have friends who care about me
when I'm stressed out because I'm studying for tests, i am thankful that i am perfectly capable of studying and retaining information
when my dentist hounds me to come in and have my teeth cleaned, i am thankful that i have teeth.

it may sound funny, but so many little things are taken for granted, or maybe even seen as hindrances, but once we lose them, or they are taken away, we realize how much we depended on these things.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

last week i proctored some tests in my old high school. I've been back in the school since i graduated, but this time i got the chance to observe the girls for awhile.

i totally understand what was meant by saying that every 5 years is a new generation. the girls in high school are very different than the way we were. for starters, when i graduated high school, there were three girls who had cellphones. today, the girls who don't have phones are the minorities (nevertheless, i still did want to throw something at the girl who called me "part of the older generation" when i told this to a group of twelfth graders) for one thing, the seniors are much more focused on what they want to do with their lives. i only had one friend who was sure in twelfth grade, of what path her life would take, was the girl who got engaged in December. for the rest of us, we knew to stick it out till January, finish up regents, go to Israel, and then...

but in some ways, i feel like things are always the same. there are still cliques, and groups of friends. the bathrooms are still a safe place to hide when you want to skip class, and there's always that one girl who insists on reviewing her notes, just one more time, even as the tests are being handed out. as i sat at the teacher's desk, observing the girls writing, i looked around the classrooms. if the walls could only talk, they'd have a myriad of stories to tell. of the secrets that were whispered, the fights that were fought, and friendships that were created. of the good times and bad. the planning for school activities, the practices for productions, the songs that were sung, and the lessons that were learned.

my own personal memories were bouncing around and hitting me all afternoon. the time my friend spilled her yogurt and it looked like the map of Africa, and the chess games we used to have at lunch. all the literature we read and discussed, from Lord of the Flies, to Frankenstein. the detentions i sat, and the countless meetings i had in the principals office, from the small infractions, like not having my shirt tucked in, to the the big decisions that were made, like deciding my next step after high school. the friends i made, whether it's those who i talk to every day, or the ones who i never see. the tests i studied for, the bulletin boards i created, the workshops i sat through, and the basketball games i played. the hill in the backyard where we used to go sledding, the waterfall we used to sit in when we cut class, and the pavement where we went rollerblading. it's easier to only remember the good times, and it's better that way too. every experience in life has its obstacles, but looking back, the good times overshadow the unpleasant ones, and make recalling those years easier.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

one good turn deserves another...

JAWS (Jewish Alliance for Women in Science) is an organization for the promotion of Jewish women in math and science degrees. founded in 2009, the organization is still in developing stages, but for anyone out there who's either in a science/math-related degree, or looking into one, keep this site bookmarked on your computer and check it often, because they'll be fully up and running soon. they offer an e-mentoring program, as well as an area for discussion in almost any topic pertaining to science and math.

the reason why I'm promoting this site, is because they've got me linked on their Media page, along with Seminary to Scientist, the blog of a frum MD-PhD student.

Friday, October 23, 2009

there are some things you just don't learn in a Bais Yakov high school.

like how to act in college classes.

or it could just be a personality thing. i know that some girls graduate and go out into the "real world" as they're so fond of calling it, and acclimate well, and know how to balance being a religious young woman, and a college student, or a working professional. i like to think i can put myself in that category.

but then there are girls who haven't shed that last layer of wide-eyed naivety. and they go out into the world thinking that everyone is nice and friendly. and that college is a place where everyone is ready to eagerly soak up everything, and gain much knowledge.

obviously, this is not the case. especially in community college, where you can sometimes find the dregs of society. so just because there are 25 students sitting in a classroom, doesn't mean there are 25 people who are interested in learning. in all my nursing classes so far, there are usually 2 or 3 people who are only becoming nurse because their moms or dads are nurses. there are usually another 2 people that have somehow managed to squeak by, but make me wonder how they're going to last all the way until graduation without failing out. and then there's always that one person that sleeps through every single class. but even those that are there and willing to learn, don't always want to sit through class.

which brings me to my point; stupid questions. every professor, every teacher will announce that there are no stupid questions-i strongly disagree. there is an immeasurably large amount of stupid questions that can be asked. i try to think twice before i ask a question, because if not, once the words come out of my mouth, i realize that i already know the answer. of course, i look kind of weird when I'm talking to myself, but i don't mind that.

there is a frum girl in one of my classes who comes to every class, determined to learn everything there is to know, which is very commendable, but she should really take some time to stop and think before asking every single question. everyone is entitled to learn, and if she learns by asking questions, I'm not faulting her for that. but perhaps if she thought about some of her questions before she asked them, she'd realize that maybe she should just keep quiet and look them up when she gets home, or ask someone a little more worldly than herself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

why will people believe anything hear, read, or see? i know someone who writes stuff on his blog and then quotes himself, claiming that he "read it online somewhere" And people will take it as truth! I've gotten every kind of stupid forward, about Microsoft giving away computers, Gap presenting free clothing, and Bill Gates wanting to share his fortune. I've been warned about everything, from free perfume samples, to cars driving without headlights, but nothing even comes close to the email i received last night from a girl who went to seminary with me. There's new law that mandates health care workers and students to get vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine. There has been some controversy stirred as to the danger of getting vaccinated, since at the present the only form of the vaccine available is the live nasal spray. But this email claimed that Obama is comparable to Hitler. here is an expert of the email, as copied directly from my inbox.

"...On a more serious note: Starting THIS Thursday, they will be forcing health care professionals to get the swine flu vaccination. This is the first step of a major plan to vaccinate the entire nation. Keep away from the swine flu shot-swine flu is not worse than the regular flu and certainly does not compare to the vaccination which will cause an epidemic. The government wants to infect you, kill or sterilize you with their shots. This is mamesh pikuach nefesh and it is our obligation to warn as many people as possible. Please forward this message to everyone you know. Obama is worse than Hitler and he wants to reduce the world's population (ie.genocide) with these murderous vaccines. ..."

i was stunned when i read it. i know people will forward just about anything but this really takes the cake. the first part of the email may hold some validity, but the government wants to kill or sterilize the nation??? i mean, i tell people that the FBI tapes all my phone conversations, but i don't really believe that!

unless there really is some mass plot to get rid of the entire nation, starting with health care workers...
The second days of Succot and Pesach are always slightly more frenzied, as we try to get every enjoyment out of those 48 hours. for some people it's sleeping more, for some, it's cramming in more food. others try to read all the books they took out of the library, because their busy schedules don't allow for leisure time. for people who have demanding careers, it's all about family times.

i was in shul on Shminni Atzeret, listening to the reading of Kohelet, and wondering why it's read on Succot. my dad says it's a simple process of elimination. the only chag and megillah left after matching up the pairing ones are Succot and Kohelet. according to the Artscroll chumash, Succot is a holiday of joy. there is relief that the Yomim Noraim are over, and the harvest is complete, and with unrestrained joy comes inappropriate behavior, so we read the words of Shlomo, to remind us that all is futile. having said that, it is extremely difficult to keep up with the reading, because it is read so fast. it's not helped by the fact that every pasuk starts with the words "ki" and ends with the words "tachat hashemesh" one i lost the place it was hard to find it again.

Learning how to appreciate Simchat Torah was hard. once i reached the stage where i was too old to sit on my dad's shoulders and collect candy from the men dancing, it became easy to sit on the other side of the mechitza and complain about the boring unfairness of it all. but then one year i sat next to a neighbor of mine who was crying softly as the torah reading was completed. as i looked at her face, i realized that she was crying tears of happiness and then i realized that underneath all the merriment and dancing, there is an aspect to the chag that could make you want to cry tears of joy. all you have to do is sit think for a minute about how lucky we are to be the Chosen Ones.

we daven at two different shuls on Simchat Torah. at night we go to a shul where there is a lot of great dancing. during the day we go to a shul where this a lot of great candy. of course the candy-collecting is restricted to boys and little girls, and sister2 lamented the fact that she has no younger siblings/nieces/nephews/cousins to collect candy for her, but my aunt always brings great chocolate for the women upstairs. but far surpassing the great candy, is the davening and the tunes. once the dancing has cleared away, and the screaming babies have been brought back to the babysitters, the real simchat torah is displayed. with regal coverings and silver crowns, the sifrei torah are the center of the shul as the chazzan and the gabbaim dance and bow with the scrolls as the whole congregation as the entire congregation sings the joyous tune of Agil V'esmach, and proclaims the exhilaration and sanctity of the day.

they say that Rosh Hashana, is the longest day of the year. but in my mind, Simchat Torah takes the prize. it's the only day when shul doesn't end till two, the only day when we don't eat lunch till 4. of course, it's the only day (besides Purim) when kids are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of candy. when i was little, i used to collect enough candy to last me until right before Purim.

the hardest part of the chag is taking down the decorations and dismantling the succah. last night we managed to take down all the decorations and chains in record time. I'd like to think it was that we were infused with energy. but it was probably the fact that it was very cold outside, and much warmer inside.

but long after the glitter and tinsel has been packed away, and the leftovers have been eaten, the little glow infused from the week of y't will linger and keep through the start of the winter.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Succot. One of the most beautiful holidays of the year, in my opinion. Once we've survived the Succah Building and I’ve successfully managed to dodge cooking duty (Just kidding mom, I really DID have to study) I can look forward to spending y't with family and friends.

This year, the new recipes all went over pretty well. We laughed about the ill-fated Touchdown Chicken Fajitas, and fondly recalled the Fizzy Chicken. Succot is the anniversary of many different things, among them, what my dad likes to call the Succot Massacre. About five years ago, his friend's elderly father was the unfortunate victim when a table full of taleisim, lulavim, and esrogim collapsed on his leg. Thankfully he wasn't hurt, but he was so fed up (my shul takes a REALLY long time on y't, one of the many reasons why I daven at the earlier minyan) that he got up and left.

Chol hamoed, as I’ve said before, strikes terror in the heart of parents, as the kids start the famous What-are-we-doing-today-whine, as the dads slip out the door to work, grinning and whistling cheerfully. For those of us who are lucky enough to be retaining an education, and maybe taking exams the week of Succot, the joys of freedom are marred by the threat of an exam hanging over our heads. So I compromised. I met a friend and hung out with her in the city all morning, and the lugged my books over to Bryant Park where I sat in the shade of Chabad of Midtown's succah and studied Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Erikson's psychosocial stages of development against the background noises of the pigeons, and the shlichim asking passersby if they wanted to come sit in the succah. When I got tired of studying, I wandered over to Times Square where I spent two minutes sitting in each chair on Broadway.

Tuesday was such a disaster that I won't even mention it here, except to say that the redeeming factor was that I spent time with my family, and I was so tired when I got home, that I was in bed by 10:30, which left me well rested for my exam on Wednesday, which hopefully, I did well on, but I’m sitting on pins and needles waiting for my results.

Second days are coming up pretty soon, with the Annual Hoshana Raba breakfast being held on Friday morning to look forward to as well. I’m not such a big fan of Simchat Torah, but I’m not going to complain about it, so instead I will focus on attempting to channel the joy of being the People of the Book.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Birthdays are a very central point in life. besides for the obvious, i mean. discounting the fact that you're now a year older, there's so much you can get out of a birthday. if your family and friends celebrate it correctly, birthdays can be a great thing.

sister2 turned sixteen this year. it was the day after she'd come home from camp, and most of the world was transitioning from summer to fall, so her friends didn't throw her a party, and we didn't hang up signs. i made her favorite cake, and she was allowed to choose the dinner, but she was complaining that it was a "stupid" birthday. that's when someone explain to her that once you pass like eight or nine (with the exception of your bar/bat mitzvah) birthdays are just a day when people wish you happy birthday if they remember, and maybe one or two people get you a card.

i would have to disagree. in my house, there is plenty of fanfare when we celebrate birthdays. my father grew up celebrating Hebrew birthdays and my mother grew up celebrating English birthdays. now my parents say they really celebrate Hebrew, but we kind of celebrate both. there are pancakes for breakfast, cards at the table, sometimes even balloons. if the lucky birthday person has a birthday on Shabbos, they don't have to help serve or clear.

on a total side note, i have no clue why family uses the term "having birthday" like my mom will tell us "call Aunt-So-and-So. she has birthday today" it comes from the same place as using the word "Omer" as a verb. ("Did you omer today?")

then of course, there's birthday week. the days in between the English and Hebrew birthdays are definitely sacred. although it's not observed by every members of my birthday, i accept birthday wishes, cards, and gifts all week. this year my English birthday was on Rosh Hashana, and my Hebrew birthday is tonight. i must admit, everyone kind of forgot about my birthday because it was overshadowed by Rosh Hashana, but I've been reminding everyone that tonight's my birthday too. Everyone called me after Rosh Hashana to wish me a happy birthday (including G6), but they actually got two days to remember

as far as my age goes, i am starting to understand adults who lament birthdays as another year passing. not that i see myself as growing old. i like to mark each birthday as another passing year, another year of lessons learned, and memories created with people i love. another year of meeting new people and making new friends. another year of accomplishment and growth

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

living with other people can present many different challenges. whether it's working out personal space, coordinating who's going to do laundry, or deciding who gets the car, like any other commitment, it takes an effort to make it work. after lots of observation, I've noticed that the room that generates the most discussion/quarreling, is the bathroom. most of them are not really for public discussion, so passing over the Toilet Seat Tossup and the Shower Drain Deliberation, I'm focusing on the Toothpaste Tube Tiff.

in my opinion, toothpaste tubes are not designed in a way that's economically smart. most tubes get thrown out, still containing about an eighth of toothpaste. it all depends on how you squeeze your toothpaste out. there are four common methods

1. the Squeeze Method: the easiest way to get toothpaste out of the tube, you simply grab the tube and squeeze. this is also the least economical way, because the tube will start to curl in on itself after a number of squeezes, and plenty of toothpaste will get lost in the folds.

2. the Fold-Up Method: user folds up the tube as it's used, pushing all the toothpaste to the top. this doesn't waste any paste, but may cause excess toothpaste to squirt out when you unscrew the cap.

3. the Squeeze-Up Method: not to be confused with the squeeze method, the user squeezes the tube from the end, or bottom, so all the toothpaste ends up near the cap (this is my personal favorite, and a method i employ)

4. the Squeeze-Up-With-Help-Method: for those who are challenged, there are handy dandy tools designed to help you squeeze up the toothpaste. simply place the tool on the tube and push up towards the cap. it squeezes the toothpaste out for you.

although this may not seem significant in anyway, it can turn into a deadly war with disastrous consequences. for those who use Method 2, the mere sight of a tube that has been subjected to Method 1 can be very irritating.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


they're full of tradition.

it's all about the tunes we sing. it's about abandoning the shul we daven in every single week and walking forty five minutes to a shul where everyone wears a white tie. it's about the shir hamaalot that we match with the tune from bircat cohanim. it's about the timeless tunes that have been sung for centuries.

it's all about the foods we eat. aside from the traditional apple-in-honey and fish heads. it's the boiled carrots and raisins that nobody eats, but sits on our table. it's the apples and onions (although in my opinion, the only time fruits and vegetables should be together is in strawberry mango salad) that my great grandmother used to make. it's blending the time-worn traditional foods, with new recipes. although the collection of half-eaten lemon meringues on my dad's plate gave a silent testimony to the popularity of that particular dessert. or lack of.

it's all about the family we spend time with. whether it's the cousins from out of town who join us for meals, the relatives around the corner whom we never see, or even spending time with my siblings (the ones that are home, at least) walking to and from shul, yomim tovim force us to slow down, turn off our phones, take our noses out of our textbooks, and reconnect and form bonds that weaken during the rest of the year as we rush around, each with our own schedules.

it's all about celebrating old traditions, and creating new ones. Customs that my great grandparents practiced in France, Holland, Germany, and Russia, and customs that will be celebrated by my family and handed down to my kids for generations to follow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

another timeless tradition...building the succah....

we all moan and groan when my father announces that it's time to bring up the boards. they each weigh a lot, and are very heavy and difficult to carry. thankfully this year i escaped that part of the building, and only got home when it was time to put the succah together. i started on one side with sister2, and my dad started on the other side with brother2. officially it wasn't a race, but brother2 seemed to think it was. then sister2 and i realized that the slower we'd work the less boards we'd have to put up. plus, the wrong sized bolt set us back about fifteen minutes. but we ended up meeting in the middle, so there were no complaints of anyone shirking.

the noise we made, banging and shrieking, as we dropped tools in the pool, and almost dropped boards on our toes, and hammered our thumbs, was only rivaled by my neighbors watching a football game next door, and my mother banging pots as she cooked for yom tov.

but beyond setting up the succah, we accomplished much more. the lessons I've learned from setting up the succah will stay with me forever. when Succot comes, and our guests and friends sit in the succah and admire the sturdy walls and decorations, they won't know about the work that went into the building. they won't hear the echoes of us calling to each other, and laughing over silly things.

we've learned all about tools. i know how to correctly use a wrench and a ratchet, but more importantly, I've learned never to use a tool for anything other than its intended purpose. I've learned how to drill holes in boards so they'll line up correctly. I've learned how measure bolts and nuts to make sure they'll all fit in. we've even learned how to fish a ratchet out of a pool, after i dropped it off the porch and fell into the pool area, and slowly rolled into the pool.

we've learned about teamwork, how it takes two people to hold up a board, and if you walk off the deck while the person on the other side is expecting you to hold up the board, that's not teamwork. how if you stand next to the person who's driving in a bolt and you've got the washers and nuts they need, that is teamwork, and the work will go much quicker.

and most importantly, we form bonds. I'm not talking specifically about when sister2 came up on the deck wearing brother1's catcher's mask and scared the living daylights out of sister1 so she went fleeing into the garage. and I'm not talking about when sister1 grabbed my flip flops and threw them into the pool, and then pushed me into the pool, when i went to retrieve them. it's more than that. it's activities like these, when we laugh, yell, and even squabble over silly things that will one day be looked back on fondly, years from now, when we'll turn to each other and recall the Succah Building days.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

it's that time of year again. in a flurry of impersonal text messages and emails, every person I've ever crossed paths with, from camps to schools, and everything else in between, wish everyone they know a shana tovah and beg for forgiveness in the even that they may have inadvertently caused anguish to anyone.

does that really count?

if someone slighted me in the past year, and it was serious enough that i still can remember it now, the offhand text is probably not the best way to ask for forgiveness. and if i haven't been insulted (which is the case for most of my friends) then I'd rather get a phone call, even if it's two seconds. because some things shouldn't be left to texts. yes, even me, a complete text-aholic, who hates having phone conversations, will pick up the phone this week and call friends, just to say hi and wish them a year of happiness and everything good.

and if there's anyone out there whom I've offended with my views or opinions...

Friday, September 11, 2009

another year has passed since we last commemorated the fall of the Twin Towers. another year, and the pain of the memories has not lessened. the images are still burned in everyone's minds. and family members are still mourning those who were killed just for being Americans, and those who gave up their lives to save others. for the some 2,800 who were killed on September 11th, eight years ago, death came swiftly. for the people who were left behind to pick up the pieces, the pain still lingers. for those who lost friends and spouses, siblings, parents, or children, they must live on everyday, with only a fading memory of their loved one. the terrorists destroyed more than just buildings. they shook the very foundation of America. with the help and support from everyone around them, the victims whose lives were disturbed, were able to rebuild. and today, all hearts go out to them, as they remember the ones they lost, and vow never to forget.

in memory

Thursday, September 3, 2009

everybody likes to personalize. whether it's a fuzzy cover on a steering wheel, a cool ipod skin, or a notebook decorated with a name, it's got to have your name, and your personalization on it. so that's why there's a feature to add a signature to outgoing text messages.

the standard, is to have your name at the bottom. just in case you get a text message from someone who isn't in your phone book, you can look at the name at the bottom. Esti. Chaya. now you know who it was who sent that to you. but then it wasn't enough to just write your name. you have to use as many symbols as you can. S became $, a became @, even i can be replaced with !. sometimes it could take awhile to figure out the name, but if you know the person who is texting you, you should have no problem.

some people like to go a step further, and leave little messages at the bottom of their text: "Have a super day!" or "Smile, it's all for the best!" not that i don't appreciate little inspirational reminders. it's just a funny place to leave them. i have one friend who has such long signatures, that she always has to send her messages in two texts, because it takes up half of her allotted characters. or she leaves, what she thinks are inspirational messages, but to me sound like she got them out of the New Testament.

then there are those who have bizarre or cryptic signatures. sometimes it's a private joke. sometimes it's just a random assortment of letters. sometimes it's a word that's spelled so badly, or missing all the vowels, so you can't understand it. my aunt has a policy that she won't answer any text message unless she understands what the signature is about, but i suspect she only employs that policy when i text her.

although i must admit that i too have been guilty of slightly cryptic signatures, they are usually either Latin phrases (cogito ergo sum,dum spiro spero), or Hogwarts spells (petrificus totalus, coloromuto) but for the most part, i use texts to get a message across, or have a conversation, and i don't really see the big idea in changing your signature everyday, depending on your mood.
the first week of the semester is always the busiest one. the parking lot is filled to capacity. the halls are crowded with students trying to find their classrooms. the cafeteria makes a killing selling food to the crowds who sit their to do their homework. and even the library becomes full with people sitting in study groups (I'm using the word "study" in the loosest sense possible) and photocopying pages.

there's a big sign at the entrance to the college that proclaims "As of September 1st, smoke free campus" until now, smoking was prohibited with fifty feet of the buildings. now it's been banished to the lower parking lot.

year right. instead of smoking in the usual spot between the buildings, the smokers have retreated to around the back of the buildings, where the Campus Security can't really see them unless they come looking. but the security guards are too busy racing each other on their bikes and galloping around on horses and scaring girls to notice the blatant flaunting of the rules.

as the weeks go by, and it gets colder outside, the crowds around the building will thin out. less people will hang out outside, and the game room in the student union will get more crowded. by the middle of November, the hallways will be less full too, and more parking spots will open up in the accessible lots. by the end of December, right before finals, the college will become a ghost town, as students are either in class, or not bothering to come to class at all. there will be a brief return for finals, and the school will be totally empty, until February when you can hear the same people complaining about their pre-calculus professors, and swearing that this is the LAST time they're taking his class.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

this semester

i will get to bed before 11:30, at least once a week

i will not wait till the night before class to read the assigned chapters

i will bring my NANDA book to my clinicals so i don't have to make up a diagnosis

i will practice deep breathing exercises so i don't have a panic attack before the exams

i will join the student nurse's association, and NOT only because it will look good on my resume

i will write out my index cards after every lesson so i don't get hand cramps when I'm studying for finals

i will write all my care plans in pencil so i don't have to look around frantically at 6:30 am for an extra copy when I've realized that I've spelled something wrong

everyone's got some level of self-deprecation. some use it as a way to get compliments ("oh i look so ugly today!") others use it to keep themselves humble. i know some people who give themselves a strict talking to everytime they look in the mirror. others look at their mistakes as a way of entertainment. as much as i enjoy hearing about human follies, there is nothing funnier than my own foibles.
which is how i can laugh at what i did the other day. i was searching for my phone, and could not remember where I'd last had it. after looking all over the house, i relaxed, and assumed the elusive spot would come to me. and it did. i remembered placing my phone down on the ledge in the freezer as i scooped out some ice cubes. i flung open the door of the freezer...and sure enough, there was my phone. thankfully, it hadn't been left in long enough to incur damage.

everyone's got a story, whether embarrassing or just funny. some people leave their credit cards in stores and don't remember till two or three days later. some people leave keys in the ignition and then cannot for the life of them remember where they've put them. some people trip over flat surfaces. some even trip going up the stairs! some people make bad spelling errors and don't realize that the words look funny. some people go out with dirty clothing, or chocolate on their faces.

when you realize that you've done something silly, don't be embarrassed! just be thankful that it wasn't your child that you left behind, or a prescription that you filled incorrectly. it's the little flaws in our personalities that make us interesting people, and make up our individuality. imagine a world where everyone was perfect. how boring.

you might call it "spazzed" but i prefer to think of it as "absent-minded-genius"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm not good with malls. i don't love shopping (i know, shocking) but I'll tolerate it. put me in a store and i can shop for a long time. but in a mall, i get so distracted by everything else, that i forget to shop. it's hard to stay focused when i have to stop every thirty feet to explain to the Israeli vendors that just because I'm wearing a skirt, and i can find the Dead Sea on a map, doesn't mean I'm going to pay forty five dollars for an tub the size of a Blistex container, containing minerals that effectively do the same job as a 20 oz. pump of Lubriderm. the problem with the mall i shop in (one of the many problems, actually) is that the stores are placed so that if I'm shopping for shoes, i end up walking about two miles between all the stores. for that, i could go to Woodbury Commons, which, like my dentist's office, is high up on the list of Places That I Hate To Frequent.

it's some kind of sub-law of Murphy's that when you go shopping with a specific item in mind, you come home with something else. i went to buy shoes and i came home with a sweatshirt. but that's nothing. i remember that my mom once went shopping for clothing for myself and sister1 and came home with pants for brother2 and laundry detergent.

i chose a bad time to go shopping for shoes. the stores were packed with everyone buying back to school items. the little-kid-shoe-stores were full of moms and kids and screaming babies of every size and shape, swarming all over the little couches, and climbing the walls. there were kids running out of every store, with frazzled older sisters lunging after them. even DSW looked crowded, which is an amazing feat, because i always feel like everyone is miles and miles away from each other, lost between endless rows of shoes. i actually banged into sister2 (almost literally), which was providential, because i was supposed to be giving her a ride home, but had no way to reach her. i think my mom gave her about ten dollars in quarters and told her to use a payphone. i didn't even know they had those things anymore.

when i had exhausted all the shoe stores, i went into the Apple store, and looked longingly at all the items i couldn't afford to buy. I'm a closet Mac lover (well, not anymore) but i could never justify spending so much money for a laptop, even if it does come with a free itouch. but once i was there, i checked my email to make sure i hadn't missed out on anything earth shattering in the three hours that i was away from my computer. (i hadn't)

after that, there wasn't much else to do. sister1 has the talent of being able to spend hours in a mall, without shopping for a single item. i don't really know how she does it. first she spends a half hour in Sephora putting on makeup. then she goes to Starbucks to look at all the lattes and cappuccinos. after that, she goes to the Apple store, so she can point to the itouch and tell me that she "owns one of those". when I'm just about ready to strangle her, she whisks away to the Body Shop to smell all the hand lotions and soaps. after awhile, the fumes start to overwhelm me and i can no longer differentiate between Mandarin and Mango. one day I'm going to buy her a pair of blinders.

but i was by myself yesterday, so the shopping trip wasn't nearly as painful as i thought it would be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

serenity has been surrendered.

the children are back. they descended on the house in two parts. my mom picked the boys up, and i got sister2 from the bus. first they came, crashing through the screen doors, shouting out a greeting in their hoarse voices. then came the trunks, suitcases, and duffel bags, banging up the stairs, ruining the fresh coat of paint that was applied, only last week. trailing behind them, came the clothing that didn't fit into the suitcases, the extra oreos, the socks that didn't seem to belong to anyone in the house, and some other objects that were covered in too much dirt and mold to be identified. and lastly, came the lingering odor of camp. the smell of rotting wood, the damp scent of the outdoors, and the general aura of summer.

when my mom opened brother2's suitcase, a different kind of smell came out-the odor of boys clothing. clothing that's been worn and not washed. needless to say i skedaddled before i could get roped in to handling any of that stuff.

another way to tell that things are slowly getting back to a schedule-we are having suppers again. now this is NOT a slight against my mother. sister1 and i kind of requested the no-supper thing, so we would also feel like we were on vacation. tonight, the chore of making dinner fell on me. and that was when i made the discover that i do not like cooking. i don't mind baking-maybe I'd even say i enjoy it. but the cooking thing is not for me. i nearly had a nervous breakdown over the meatballs (for full details, see my aunt), although in the end, they did come out pretty good.

so as the laundry pile is slowly diminishing (although i can still hear the washing machine banging) and all the mattresses get returned to the proper room, and a collection of half-empty soap and shampoo bottles gathers in the corner of the shower, i must concede, that although it is yet another sign that the summer is ending, I'm glad that they're home.

Friday, August 21, 2009

i feel like the summer is slipping away.

I've finally started to do all the thing I've been wanting to do since May. i went to Six Flags on Monday with a friend. i learned a few things that day. the first lesson, is that when you choose a partner to take with you to amusement parks, you should look for someone who not only enjoys the same roller coasters as you, but is easy to talk to. because when you go to amusement parks you end up spending a lot of time hanging around as you wait to get onto rides.and secondly, a two hour wait does not justify a double ride on a coaster. one of the rides broke down just as we got to the front of the ride and were actually sitting in the car. since we'd waited an hour (the ride broke down once while we were waiting too) we decided to stick it out until it would be fixed. they finally did fix it-after two hours. to reward those of us who'd stuck it out, they let us ride twice. but in those two hours we could have gone on three other rides. but then again, the coaster was then closed for the day, which means we wouldn't have had a chance to ride it.

i love roller coasters. i love that thrill that comes with swooping down, and looping over. i love that rush that i feel as the car is ascending the lift, and my heart starts pounding and my palms get all sweaty. i love that slightly dizzy feeling i get when i climb out and take a second to regain my balance and bearings. i do NOT love roller coasters that were built for statistics. which means i am less than fond of Kingda Ka. apparently all the techs in the park hate it too. they are pretty much all of the opinion that it should be torn down. it's very hard to catch a ride on it, because it is closed down more often than it is operating. i had a chance to ride it two years ago, and I'm never going to do it again, if i can help it.

on Tuesday i took a train ride with my aunts and cousins, to New Jersey, where we had a picnic. did you know that the New Jersey Transit conductors still wear those dorky looking hats? and they still yell "All aboard!" before the train leaves. although that could have just been done for effect. but by far the coolest thing about the train is that the seats flip back and forth, so that no matter which way the train is going, you can always face forward, a nice little thing for those of us who get nauseous when we face the wrong way.

today i sat out in the sun for four hours. it was partly cloudy, so i didn't feel like i was roasting. the pool was peaceful looking, and blue. it's been more like a shade of Mountain Dew for the past few weeks, because the pool vacuum broke. as a result of this, my father raised the chlorine levels of the water, making me feel like i was taking a swim in a Clorox bottle. today was the first day that the water was back to normal. so i sat out until my face rivaled that of a tomato. when i went out to eat tonight, my face matched the walls of the restaurant, and my bag.

despite all the activities I'm doing, books I'm reading, and people I'm spending time with, there are little reminders all over, that are hinting to the coming of September.

the leaves are starting to fall with increasing speed. no matter how often i sweep the deck and fish them out of the pool with a net, within twenty minutes, they cover the ground again. and as the days march on, the colors start changing from green, to yellow, with brown edges.

the camps are all finishing. brother1, sister2, and brother2 will be home on Monday, and the house will soon get back into its noisy pace that I'm (actually) beginning to miss.

everyone's talking about going back to school. the aunts sit at the pool discussing the annual trip to the shoe store, the signs in all the store windows proclaiming The-Big-Back-To-School-Savings-Sales, and there has been a flurry of textbook-borrowing, as every girl who is planning on procuring a science degree scrambles to find a chemistry and anatomy textbook.

the crowds in the pizza stores and bowling alleys are starting to slowly thin out as the male half the teen population are the first to make their way back to yeshiva. in my family, cousin1 has returned to Israel, with cousin2 to follow shortly on Sunday.

I'm going to make the most of my last two weeks of vacationing, by spending more time at the pool, and less time in front of my computer. more time talking to people in front of me, and less time texting people sitting twenty feet away. i will take more trips and have more barbecues. i will not worry about the textbooks that are waiting to be opened, and my uniform which is sitting in the closet, waiting to be ironed. the only effort I've made towards starting to think about school, was to move my stethoscope from around my headboard, to around my rear view mirror, so i think about it every time i get in the car.

but it's coming faster than I'd like to think. next thing i know, I'll see school buses on the road again, and then I'll wake up 21, and then I'll have to take out my boots and sweatshirts...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the story of the lake is everlasting.

there's a beach up north that we go to, every summer. in reality, the lake water is far from pretty, and the sand doesn't feel especially warm between the toes. but it's become a family tradition to go there and nowhere else. in that vicinity there is another lake which is slightly prettier and has warmer sand. but the only time we went there, it was raining, and sister1 broke her hand. so that place will forever have negative associations. so we continue to go to "our lake" as we've come to think of it.

today, we continued the tradition, by packing up the vans with food, chairs, sunblock, blankets, towels, the umbrella, and headed up.

some things have changed over the years. instead of having to leave the beach to eat, we can now eat on the beach, as long as we don't leave too much garbage. the kids who once sat in playpens now swim out all the way to the rope. the old football blanket has been upgraded to a Neat Sheet. and the umbrella which always seemed huge to me, now barely has enough room for three of us to cram our chairs into its shade without bumping knees.

but some things have stayed the same. my out-of-town aunt's youngest child was wearing the "born to be wild" t-shirt". my other aunt's youngest child wore a flowered bucket hat. the kids played in the sand, creating the usual, sandcastles, forts, tunnels, and mud puddles, and still love to play that game where they go all the way back to the wall, hold hands, and charge into the water, splashing and laughing, until they all collapse on top of each other.

since i don't relish the idea of swimming in clothing, i stayed under the umbrella with cousin L who doesn't really like the beach, and missed her sister E (who's in camp) who usually builds sandcastles with her. she hung out with me and the aunts while we painted our toes, and chatted on the phone, and ran in after M who is 2 years old but doesn't have a fear of water, something that is really cute in the pool, but really scary at a lake.

the big excitement of the day was when the lifeguard saw S bobbing up and down on his toes, and thinking he was drowning (even though the child's mother told the lifeguard he was fine) ran in to rescue him. (for a detailed imitation of the lifeguard, including his whistle-string-spinning-abilities, see cousin L) but this display of heroic rescue showed that the lifeguard was vigilant in watching the lake.

we came home, tired, sweaty and full of sand. everyone got dutifully hosed down before entering the pool, and shook the last vestiges of sand out of the bags. it was a great day, one more experience to add to the tradition of Lake T Day (ole, ole)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

looking back on visiting day, it was everything i said it would be.

and worse.

for starters, the weather was totally uncooperative. it was either raining or misting, so i had to walk around with a sweatshirt hood over my head the whole time. i got to see brother2, check out his bunk, make sure he's been washing (there was no growth on his hands and face, so he's either been swimming or showering), check out his bunk which was neat (read: Sunday morning activity-refold clothing in shelves, make beds, and sweep all garbage out of the bunkhouse) with the assortment of relatives in camp, we had a lot of people to visit, campers and staff alike. this year we sat in the regular dining room (instead of the staff dining room, a privilege that comes with being related to the head of a program in camp) with my mother's siblings, and ate lunch.

after wandering around in the rain, and checking out the spot where my brother checks his voicemail, and where he picks up his faxes, and where he buys his soda, and where he picks up his laundry... (visiting a first time camper, my parents had to do a very thorough visit) we drove to the other side of the world (or so it felt) to visit my sister in her camp. there we met up with both of my uncles at various points, sloshed through the mud and waded through the weeds to see the dilapidated pile of boards that sister2 has been calling home for the past two weeks. having gone to that camp, i was familiar with the graffiti covering every square inch of wall and ceiling, the lack of springs in the bed, and the familiar creak of the floorboards. but sister2 is having fun, so that's what's important.

in general, car rides are not my idea of a fun way to spend quality time with anyone. i get carsick easily, and sister1 is always cold. brother1 likes his music loud-not a good combination, as you can imagine. because the two younger ones weren't present, we weren't subjected to a battle of the ABC game. sister1 decided that she would play "call-out-anything-you-see" but that deteriorated when brother1 started calling "blade of grass, blade of grass, blade of grass..."

the ride back was slightly more subdued as we all were exhausted, hungry, freezing, and sick of traffic. we left the camp at about four pm. a ride that should have taken an hour and change, took almost three. every single bathroom and rest stop in Ferndale, Liberty, Narrowsburg, Monticello, and swan lake, were packed with minivans.

again, I'm not sorry i went to see my siblings. they're both having a great time, and I'm glad for that. it was nice to see all my cousins (though i could have just seen them at home.) and my uncle didn't even yell at me (which is a surprise). but Visiting Day just makes me happy that i only have to "celebrate" it once a year.
i did not celebrate Visiting Day in July. brother2 was in camp, but he explicitly told all of us to stay far away from his camp. and we were more than happy to oblige. at least, i know i was. the idea of battling crazy traffic to go slosh around decrepit camp, fight crowds wherever you go, and then sit in more traffic on the way back, just doesn't seem like a pleasant way to spend a Sunday. i spent first half visiting day chilling at the pool. way more productive, if you ask me.

but nobody's asked me. and that's why we're going to the mountains tomorrow to visit sister2 and brother2. i considered staying at home, but then I'd get tagged with the label of always being antisocial and skipping out on family events. plus, i have assorted cousins that are also in the same camps as my siblings, so we're all supposed to be getting together, or meeting up, or something.

don't get me wrong. it's not that i don't want to see my siblings. the house has been pretty quiet without them. it's just that i saw them both a week ago when they came home for the bar mitzvah, and I'm going to see them in another two weeks when they come home. and in my family, we're quite healthy about separation and not seeing each other for bits at a time

and one final reason to hate Visiting Day; a few hours in the car with sister1 and brother1-a constant battle of wits. my brain will exhausted by tomorrow's end.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

when my mother gets nervous, or stressed about things, she talks. in a steady stream of instructions, last minute-to-do-lists, and reminders. she's been talking since Wednesday. but thanks to her, my brother's bar mitzvah was really gorgeous.

when rehashing the weekend last night, we realized that there was nothing major that had been forgotten-no food had not been served (although we were missing a pan of chicken which never did surface. but we were left with an extra pan of fish. so someone else out there who made an affair this weekend probably had too much chicken and not enough fish), no invitations were inadvertently left out, or got lost in the mail (according to two of my neighbors, there was a mail-thief sneaking letters out of people's mailboxes), all of the guests made it, with the exception of my dad's friend (who was on his way from Boston and had to turn around because of traffic), and i only got hit over the head once by my uncles.

last night, with the help of my mom's sisters, we managed to get everything out of the shul, and into our car. it's going to take awhile, but we will recover from this.

does anyone like egg salad? cuz we've got pans and pans of it leftover.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

i can't believe the summer is halfway over already. there are so many things that i planned to do, and have not yet had a chance.

i was supposed to go camping with my dad and sister2 (sister1 is not much for outdoor things) but we never got a tent, and every Sunday evening something else seemed to happen. now she's in camp, and when she gets back, I'm starting school and it's going to be too cold.

i was supposed to be nice and tanned by the end of the summer. not a crazy leathery-wrinkled-sun-damaged-tan, but a nice healthy glow. but despite some good kick off burns, my skin has remained pitifully white. then again, I've been comparing it to cousin3, The Brown Cousin. i think she secretly goes to a tanning salon. (i wonder if her mother knows)

i was supposed to go boating-not row boating around a little lake, but rent a speedboat and spend the day out on the water. then i looked online at prices, and i don't have enough money for it. and my friends were not so impressed with the idea. one doesn't live locally and Sundays never seem to work out for her. one is interning in the DA's office, and only seems to have off on days when it's cloudy. one friend doesn't like water activities. one friend won't do anything that would make her hair knotty.

i was supposed to go the beach very often. so far i went once. it was with my interning friend, so of course it was cloudy. it was also before the beach was officially open so we couldn't go into the water. the second my big toe came near the shoreline, the park official came zooming up in a cloud of exhaust and told us to move back. so we sat on the beach and ate tuna sandwiches. i tell you, eating on the beach gives a whole new meaning to the word sandwich. yuk.

i was supposed to go see a Broadway show with my friend. at least i can still do that after the summer's over, but it's going to be a lot harder once we're both back in school-mode.

i was supposed to spend an evening catching fireflies. this is one activity i hope i never outgrow. of course now i do it in the privacy of my backyard where nobody can see me. there's nothing like running around after glowing little bugs, trying to catch them. don't worry, i don't keep them, i let them go.

i know i still have another month left to the summer, but I'm going away for august, and when i come back, there won't be any summer left.