Sunday, August 31, 2008

talking about other people is never a smart only gets you into trouble. like that story that teachers love to tell about the girls who were talking about their friend and almost messed up her shidduch. you never know what will come out of it. you never know when the words that come out of your mouth will fly around the world and bite you in the seat of your pants. as a kid i loved looking at my grandmother's book of Norman Rockwell paintings. one of my favorites was the one titled "Gossip" this was in the days before Mishemeres photocopied it and gave it out in their anti-loshon-hora campaign.
a friend of mine has been in and out of rehab. now she's really getting a hold on her life and is living in a halfway house. there aren't that many people who she is in touch with from her past, and one of them recently got all mad at me for not telling her that my friend was in rehab. i was a little surprised. did she expect me to tell her randomly, one day, "by the way, r was in rehab for substance abuse last year"? sticky.
another friend of mine was getting engaged. i was informed, with strict instructions NOT to tell anyone. so i didn't. at the l'chaim a friend came over and demanded to know why i didn't tell her that e was getting engaged. again, sticky.
i understand that humans have to feel like they know what's going on, like they're in charge. it starts as early as five years old, who hate it when other girls whisper about them. we have to feel like nothing can surprise us. but that's what life is all about. it's making plans...and then having to deal with them when they fall through. it's planning a picnic and then eating it inside because it's raining. it's finding a job and then quitting because your class schedule changed. it's saying yes and then saying no. 12:30 and then 1:00. if we could manage to run our own lives, we could be G-d. and then there would be no point in living life.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I've officially reached that stage. The one where I look at my calendar at all the weddings and showers I have to go to and groan.

I've got the wedding thing figured out. I show up to the reception with enough time to go to the kallah, give the standard 'you look gorgeous, I hope you're really happy', go find any required relatives/neighbors and say mazal tov so they can report back to my mother that I am a functioning member of society with adequate social skills, find my friends, squeal over how skinny they look, groan over stupid professors, and bemoan our lack of social lives. I've become pretty good at estimating time so that when I'm done with all this, the chosson comes in to gaze teary-eyed at his kallah and whisper his own wishes to her, watch the mothers cry over their babies as he covers her face, and go find a seat at the chuppah.

I've figured out which seat to take so I'll be able to wish the kallah mazal tov when she's walking back down the aisle, and still be able to get out of the chuppah room as quickly and painlessly as possible. I've also figured out which perakim of tehillim take enough time so that I can pray my little piece and be finished just as the kallah is passing my seat.

The whole point of going to weddings is to celebrate with the bride and groom, right? So while they're being put through all kinds of uncomfortable and annoying poses, I can technically leave and come back just when they're coming back in for dancing, right? Wrong! Somewhere along the way, it's become an unspoken rule that the friends all have to hang around their tables so that all the mothers of young eligible bachelors who are at the wedding can hover around the tables and check out the eligible young ladies who, like cattle, are 'on the market' and just want to be scrutinized, from the tops of their freshly blow-dried head, to the tips of their shiny shoes. Indeed, that is why we dress up and come to these functions anyway.

Of course, you can't miss the arch waving ceremony. That's when the band either plays 'Mission Impossible' or the standard 'Intro' while the girls all stand trying to suppress their shrieking because it's 'unfine' then the happy couple finally comes in after drinking lots of PowerAde so they can get some electrolytes back into their systems after fasting all day, the chosson quickly hops over to the men's' side, while the kallah tries to fit her gown between the rows and looks for her mother, while trying to look elegant for the cameras. If I'm really lucky, I can get to do a little hand holding/jumping thing with the kallah before the end of the first dance, which can happen if there isn't too much family, so I can wish her mazal tov again, and quickly make my exit. If not, I have to suffer through another agonizing course of shadchan dodging and the annoying cameramen urging us to make complete fools over ourselves on camera.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

for three days I've sat down in front of my computer, trying to sort out the thoughts blowing around in my mind like tumbleweed across the prairie. but instead of the ideas flowing from my fingertips to the keyboard like they usually do, I'm stumbling. my fingers are tripping and I'm erasing and rewriting.

the first day of school draws nearer. i can smell it in the air. it's the fresh-beginning again feeling. brand new pens that are full of ink, and new notebooks without torn, dog-eared pages. my bag is clean without crumpled notes and paperclips at the bottom. my calendar is empty, soon to be filled up with assignments and tests.

i don't want to fill it up.

as much as i enjoy learning, and filling my mind with a higher education, I'd rather lie outside in the grass and watch the clouds drift away, than walk the hallowed walls of academia. after a year of working and studying, with no social life, I've been able to catch up with my friends again, to spend time with members of my family, and i know my social life is going to slide again when i pick up my books. my pictures won't get uploaded to my computer, my stack of books at the foot of my bed that I've wanted to read will gather dust, and my sunglasses will lie forgotten on my dresser.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

they say that one of the greatest questions ever asked is this: if there is an unlimited amount of space in the universe, why is there never enough room in my closet?

yet for all the clothing stuffed in, i can never manage to find something to wear. apparently twelve year old boy don't have this problem

fcg:brother 2, do you ever wake up in the morning and have nothing to wear?

brother 2 looks up from his video game at me incredulously: you're crazy, no. i just take any t-shirt and shorts

fcg:yea but do you ever try on all your clothing and none of them seem right?

this doesn't even get an answer, as brother 2 goes back to his game, leaving me to ponder. indeed, it seems that most members of the male species are lucky to never have this problem. my dad's wardrobe varies slightly in that it also contains slacks and button downs, but he doesnt' seem to have a problem either. why is it that females stare blankly at a stack or row of clothing, and mumble that age old complaint "i have nothing to wear"?

Friday, August 15, 2008

shidduchim, old school

tomorrow is tu b'av. a day set aside for rejoicing and comfort, it was on this day when the daughters of Israel would dress up in borrowed white dresses and go out into the streets to dance. they would call to the young men "don't look at our beauty or homeliness, but rather at our middot"

can you imagine the load of stress taken off parents' minds when they didn't have to worry? no need to suddenly start using plastics, buying green bananas, or dishes. no worrying about getting onto the proverbial 'list'. moms could venture out of their tents without worrying about how they looked (it's not like they were wearing shaitels then anyway, so they had one less thing to worry about to begin with) no need to cover up that story about the younger brother who ran off to join the Bedouins a year earlier. and it was OK if the father didn't learn in Moshe Rabbeinu's shiur, but a lower shiur...

Monday, August 11, 2008

bridal showers...who first thought of them? who was the one who came up with the idea of trying to part everyone of twenty hard earned dollars, to buy gifts for a friend that they'd probably get from relatives? who thought it would be fun to stress for weeks about making sure to get tablecloths that will match, not only the napkins, the theme, and the living room couch, but also to match whatever color shoes the bride-to-be will be wearing? and I'd really love to have a chat with the person who first initiated the idea of the wrapping paper hat. who looked at the mounds and mounds of shambles of wrapping paper, newspaper, and tape and thought it would look pretty on some one's head? of course it's fun to sit and pretend to be refined young ladies, when we're really all waiting for the relatives to leave so we can talk about the real memories, the ones we'd never dare tell anyone's a pit stop for the young bride in her whirlwind of gown shopping, apartment hunting, real-life preparation (real life-ness is dependant on how much the young couple is being supported) and to sit with old friends and talk and reminisce, and enjoy the sweetness of friendship, without husbands hovering in the background, trying to signal frantically to their wives that they want to leave now, can you please hurry up and finish talking, and no i can't talk to her husband, i have nothing to say to him. it's a chance to kick back, and pretend we're fifteen again, when our biggest worries were how to skip class and cross the waterfall without being caught, to see how long we can play the game of not tucking in our shirts, and (sometimes) even giving thought to our schoolwork. when friendships were much easier to maintain, because everyone was walking on the same path. before this one was moving to Israel, and this one was having a baby, before this one moved to the city, and that one went to community college...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer to the end, the faster it goes

life is rushing by, moving too fast to take anything for granted. like a train, it's hurtling down the tracks at breakneck speed, and the scenery is rushing past, never to be seen again. each day, each hour that goes by, never will return, and you can never get it back. I've barely had a time to blink, and already the summer is halfway over.
i can feel it in the air at night. it's getting cooler. august weather is way cooler than July, i have to grab a sweatshirt when I'm on my way out. and i don't run my air conditioner every night
i can see it in the frenzied ads for school supplies. home depot, walmart, staples...every time i go out I'm bombarded with ads and commercials. time to to stock up on those pens and pencils. i gotta go through my stacks of notebooks and see how many new ones i have to buy for the coming semester
i can hear it in the everyday conversations around me. the little cousins are going shopping for shoes. the new freshmen are anxious about starting a new school, getting used to new rules. the high school seniors are anticipating their last year. my friends who are going off to Israel are starting to pack.
i can smell it in the air. it still smells like summer, but underneath, one can faintly detect the slightly smokey autumn scent.

where has my summer gone? i was full of plans in may. i was going to visit my friend upstate. i blinked, and and now she's busy again. i was going to hang out with my friend who was living in new jersey. i turned around, and she's back home in Israel. i was going to make good use of that photography class i took...I'd better hurry, because the leaves are going to turn from green to red to brown. i wanted to volunteer more, to spend less time inside and more time outside. less time talking to people and more time talking to nature. less time sleeping, and more time watching sunrise...

i can't believe I'm getting so old. i can't believe I'm starting my third year out of high school. growing up is a wonderful thing. it's just scary how quick it's going. in the words of Calvin, "you gotta seize tomorrow and throttle it" call up that old friend who you've been meaning to chat with for ages. wear the shirt that you've been saving for a special occasion. skip work and spend the day with a good book. focus more on the important things; on people, on relationships, and less on material things. life is too short to be wasted. and no one knows how much time they have left.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

i was listening to pieces of the yankee's postgame show this week, and i noticed something that was bothering me for a long time: not a single player can string together a full sentance without stumbling for words. even the american players, don't sound too smart. obviously these guys are getting paid millions of dollars every year to work on their pitching abilities; not their language syntax. but they all sound so dumb. i had always been a yankee fan, and a fan of baseball in general, but now i only listen to games when i'm driving and can't listen to music. if you think about it, the whole baseball franchise is a millions of dollars poured in to grown men's fantasies. everywhere you look you see it creeping up. homepages at work, speeddials on cellphones, set stations in the car, email updates...adults who have long ago left the backyard diamond of their childhoods and entered corporate america have left themselves small portals in which they can escape back to their dreams of the past.