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.