Wednesday, July 30, 2008

lately I've noticed that people believe you've got the power to bless others on your Hebrew birthday. i guess it's nice to receive these blessings, but where does it come from? is there a known source? or did it start like many other segulos, one person did it, and all her friends decided it would be a good thing to do...? like the jewelry under the chuppah. it's a well-known thing that the bride and groom can't wear gold jewelry under the chuppah. who was the first person to make it into a segula? perhaps it was just a friend who wore the kallah's jewelry and jokingly said, "maybe it's a segula to get married" and from there it became yet another thing for the kallah to worry about during her wedding:whose going to get what jewelry. it's become a whole hierarchy. if there is an older single relative she gets the engagement ring. then the best friend, and so on. i was at a wedding where they totally forgot about this, and only realized under the chuppah. a cousin rushed up to take the jewelry and distribute it among the friends. my friend ended up with the chatan's silver watch. every one's so busy with the little things, that they forget to focus on what's really important.

so back to the blessing. it's become more than just wishing someone all the best. you have to list all the important ones:should find a shidduch, at the right time, should have money so your husband can sit and learn, have good kids that don't give you heartache and stress headaches, should get along well with mother-in-law so you get to inherit some of the family jewelry....i once observed someone giving a blessing, who was interrupted by someone talking to her, and insisted on starting from the beginning. apparently this blessing-giving has been given the same status as saying birkat hamazon. i dunno about all this. i think I'll leave the blessing to parents on Friday night, and the cohanim on yomim tovim

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

procastinators of the world unite...tomorrow!

there's a fine art to wasting time. it's more than just sitting around and not doing anything. no, you have to know the when and where. sometimes, it's about quietly disappearing. in a way that no one looks for you. my younger sister is an expert on that one. many times we'll finish clearing up the kitchen, and only then will we realize that she's been AWOL for quite awhile. i think the trick is to disappear BEFORE the task is announced. sometimes you can't quite get away, but you have to know how to move so people think you're actually doing something substantial. in my cousin's house, everyone was clearing the table one shabbos afternoon, and after a good ten minutes, they caught my cousin walking back and forth between the dining room and kitchen with nothing in his hands! at work, as long as you look like you're concentrating hard on your screen, you can get away with surfing. depending on the angle of your screen, you can appear to be intently perusing some documents when you're really blogging, checking out news, or even playing spider solitaire. and if you're REALLY good, you can waste an afternoon when you should have been studying or writing a paper, and not even feel guilty about it. that's the hard part. at the end of the day, you can actually think about what you did, and feel like you accomplished something, instead of that little voice in your head, which never quite goes away, nagging you about all the tasks you need to do.

yes, it's more than just wasting time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

it is a known fact that women always have to be prepared.

that is why girls today love big bags. we have to be able to carry everything they might possibly need, without looking like we're carrying a grandmother's old totebag. (and that, i think, is precisely why women go the bathroom in pairs. to have someone to hold their bags for them)

my car is an extension of my bag. it's neat, but it's got everything. waterbottle, granola bars, candy, umbrella, extra quarters, jumper cables, first aid kit, extra hubcap (anyone?) it's a great feeling when i'm with my friends and someone says "i know this is random, but does anyone happen to have....?" and i can pull it out! of course the standard pocketknife is great, because it's got scissors and a knife. when i was in seminary i had a swiss army knife that had much more. i think a rabbi was quite startled when he was teaching us about tying knots, and asked for something to cut it with. out came four scissors and...a viscious looking swiss army knife. i never volunteered its services after that. but the corkscrew came off after my roommate's unsuccessful attempts to open a bottle on shabbos. the and then the plastic casing cracked. and the knife somehow got wedged in somewhere (i don't remember the details, but it had to do with digging a hole, and a cement pipe)

but i still thought i was pretty prepared. i have socks, extra string cheese, more loose change, gum, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, pens....and then today i realized what i'd forgotten to replace.

bobby pins

something so small and so seemingly insignificant. i recently got a haircut. or more like a hairchop. i pretend i fell into a food processor so at least i have an adventure to go with my new haircut. either way, it's short. really short. and i was trying to do the green thing and drive with the windows open, but my hair was everywhere. and then it was in my mouth, which had been full of gum, but now my mouth was full of hair, and my hair was full of gum. not a pretty sight.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

the group walked into the bar, talking and chattering loudly. they were on top of the world. here they were, in the prime of their lives, on a Friday night, with no cares in the world. and to top it all off they'd just finished a great round of golf.

laughing and jostling, they settled themselves around the bar, talking about everything and nothing.

"hey Nicole, how's your job going?"

"oh gosh, you gotta hear the craziest thing! on Friday a girl came in for a haircut. she told me to take off all the split ends. i tell you, the ends were practically transparent they were so overdue for a cut! so i kept cutting and cutting, until there was like, no hair left! i must have cut off a good three and a half inches! the poor girl was so stunned when i was done!"

the bartender listened silently as the young people hooted at this. "poor girl," he thought to himself i wonder if she's sitting at home somewhere, too embarrassed to go out. it must be difficult to have to deal with something like that. i know my daughters are very attached to their hair." he shrugged as he passed a hand over his own bald head. "I'll never understand women." and grabbing a clean rag, he walked around the group, now listening avidly as Casey and Nicole regaled them with more anecdotes from the beauty salon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've always loved office supplies. they're both fun and functional.

take white out. in school, white out provided me and my friends with hours and hours of entertainment. we rarely used it to correct mistakes in our notes (notes? who took notes in elementary school?) but we used it as paint, as glue, as nail polish...i knew someone who used to sniff white out to get high. once i fell asleep in class only to wake up with white out all over my arm. my friend had decided to decorate it. it took me days to wash the stuff off. and with the invention of white out tape, i had even more fun. i went correction crazy. i just loved playing with it.

another favorite is the stapler. but even more fun are the electric ones. it took me awhile to get used to them though. the ones in my office make really loud noises which made me jump every time someone stapled papers together. but i got over my fear by taking a bunch of papers and repeatedly shoving them into the stapler until i was able to do so without flinching. sometimes when I'm bored i play a game with myself and see if i can stick paper in and then yank it out before it gets stapled.

my most recent toy is the staple remover. until now i always used a remover that looked like a monsters mouth with fangs. now i have a stick one. but the cool part about is that the bottom of remover is magnetized to pick up little bent staples. sometimes i wave the bottom of it over my desk and mutter "accio staples!" and pretend I'm practicing my spells as i watch the staples jump off the desk.

tape can be fun, but quite tricky. once when i was working in a bungalow colony we ran out of flytraps and the screen was ripped, so we created a flytrap out of masking tape. unfortunately one morning as i got out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom, i blundered into it, bringing the whole contraption down in sticky shambles around me. it took me a good five minutes to untangle myself from it. how's that for a rude wake up?

scissors have always been somewhat of a sore point. they don't make lefty scissors and righty scissors give me blisters. i tell you, it's not easy being a left-handed person in a right-handed world.

a ride with FCG and family

family loads suitcases, hatboxes, shoe bags, ponchos, games, and extra shoes into trunk of van, and pulls out of driveway.

brothers 1 and 2, and sister 2 plug into ipods. mother takes out nail polish, sister 1 goes to sleep.

mother:boys, did you remember to pack your taleisim?

brother 1: what?

mother repeats question

(why do we always do checklists after we've pulled out? shouldn't we do it before we get into the car?)

brother 2: yes we have everything

mother: guys if you had to take a citizenship test, do you think you would pass?


mother looks into the back of the van and sees one texting child, one sleeping child, and three children swaying to music way too loud

mother: hey, what's the rule? when we're all together in the car, no music!

children continue to sway; they can't hear her because their music is still way too loud.

mother: what year was the civil war?

loud snorts from brother 1 and brother 2

fcg and sister 2: 1861-1865

mother: what was the main difference that caused the war?

sister 1: industry

sister 2: hello?!? slavery!!

it's a good thing sister 1 was born an American

mother: name all the American conflicts

sister 2 starts rattling them off: American revolution, french and Indian war, war of 1812-

brother 1: french and Indian!! that has nothing to do with America!

sister 2 rolls her eyes and doesn't even bother explaining

brother2: why do we have to know this! it's bad enough we have to learn this in history!

mother ignores him and continues to alternate between asking history trivia, doing her nail polish, and trying to convince father not to go more than 25 miles above the speed limit.

sister 1 and 2:fcg, you got a new text message!

fcg:that's it, i'm not sitting in the middle anymore!

fcg and sister 2 switch places. now fcg can safely text behind sister 2's skirt which is hanging, and doesn't have to be wary of mother's ever watchful eye

mother:fcg, are you texting cha cha for the answers?

sister 2: fcg! sister 1 fell asleep! give me your phone (proceeds to take pictures, all of which are extremely unflattering)

sister 2, waking suddenly: wait! i forgot a pair of shoes at home!

brother 2: please! you won't have enough time in the whole weekend to wear all the clothing you pack! you don't need to pack everything you own!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

wherever i walk, i am walking to jerusalem

in the age of technology, i have proven to myself-and all those who thought i couldn't do it-that i can manage for three weeks without my phone and my email. no texting, no blogging, no surfing...

you don't need that stuff in Israel. you don't feel lacking like you do in America. going back to Israel is like recharging your batteries. it puts you on a high.

unfortunately, highs are followed by slumps. i can't believe I'm back in NY. I've left part of my soul across the Atlantic. in that tiny country that captures the hearts of all who visit her. where you feel spiritually whole, connected to a whole nation. it's the land of my fathers. the avos walked all over it. moshe cried and pleaded to be allowed in. for centuries, Jews have dreamed of traveling to the land flowing with milk and honey. thousands have given their lives to defend it. how can anyone in their right mind want to give it away? especially to those animals.

there's something about Israel that has a very strong pull. whether riding the buses or walking the cobbled streets of Meah Shearim, or the bustling streets of Yaffo, or exploring other outlying neighborhoods, you feel an inexplicable connection to the land. when you say Bircat Hamazon, and you thank Him for giving us the land, it's the very dirt under your feet. davening at the Kotel is an experience like no other. to put your forehead against the stones and pour out your heart...all around the world people are praying to this very spot, and you're standing in it. you can leave the Kotel feeling much lighter because you know it's all in His hands.

everything is so much simpler and clearer there. you're given an uphill push, a boost to becoming a better person.