Thursday, October 30, 2008

sometimes i feel like Calvin; a misunderstood genius.
especially when it comes to taking exams. ask me anything on the lymphatic system or the body's innate and adaptive defenses, and I'll teach you everything i know. but seat me at a desk with a list of thirty five multiple choice questions and a time limit, and I'll only be able to answer 75% of them correctly. is it fear of failure? i dunno. maybe it's the atmosphere. i can smell tension, like dogs smell fear. (wow did i just compare myself to a dog?) but there are a few factors that make it worse.

1. snifflers-i know it's wintertime and you just came in from the cold. but do us all a favor and stop off in the bathroom to blow your nose. or take a second before you leave to stick tissues in your bag.

2. tappers-it may help you think better when you're tapping your obviously-fake-looking nails against the desk, but it's a subtle
noise that gets under my skin and slowly drives me insane.

3. whisperers-i totally get that some people need to read the questions out loud to themselves (more than once, sometimes) in order to understand what it's really asking. but dude, go sit on the other side of the room! there should be whispering and non-whispering. because I'm totally ordering non-whispering.

4. talking to yourself-this is even worse than whispering. firstly because there is no pretense of whispering. this is straight up talking out loud. and it's not reading the questions out loud. it's little remarks like "ooh i know this one" or "oh darn, what's the answer again?" these are the people who have an annoying habit of sitting in class and letting everyone know exactly what is on their minds. really, some people should come with a censor option.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

everyone knows someone else who is on a lower intelligence plane than themselves. so everyone knows the feeling of frustration you get from dealing with someone whose wits are no match for your own. and everyone deals with those kind of people differently. some throw up their hands and realize it's no use. others get condescendingly snobby. I've been on the receiving end of that when trying to learn mathematics. and there are those like me who have absolutely no care for them, but take great delight in telling over what occurred. in my house we sit around the table and make fun of dumb things we heard that day.

well, not really. but we do love repeating certain stories over and over.

on my parents' wedding anniversary, my dad told my mom "marriage isn't a word. it's a sentence."

i know. real touching.

my dad thought this was such a good line, that he repeated it to all of his friends. most of them got it and laughed but one neighbor smirked at my dad and said no it's a paragraph!"

in g-d's own image. yessir.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

today i felt like the kid at the birthday party, left alone while everyone runs away snickering.

but i should start at the beginning.

i finished my 1:30 class. my next class didn't start until 5:00. normally I'd use the two hours to run home, grab a bit to eat, and prepare for the next class. but since i have a test on Thursday, i hung back to speak to my professor about the material that I'd missed over y't. by the time I'd finished that (it's really difficult to talk to a professor when she's typing a recommendation letter for a student who's standing over her shoulder, pointing out spelling errors, ducking a spider puppet being waved around by a paramedic-in-training, and ignoring proffered cookies, shoved in your face by a VERY creepy looking...person) it was almost 4:00.

so i figured i would hang around and do my work before heading to class. at ten to i went to class to find it dark, with no one hanging around the halls. i thought it odd, but figured i was just early. i usually fly into the room at a few minutes past the hour, panting madly from my sprint up three flights of stairs. so i went to get a drink, and on my way back a brightly colored flyer caught my eye:



why didn't i see that? and why hadn't any other teacher mentioned it? true, i hadn't been in any Tuesday classes since before yom kippur, but how could i have been so unobservant to not notice the flyers? ever since i was a kid, I've been quite a spazz, especially when I'm engrossed in something else, say a book. or homework (which made me perfect fodder for the let's-run-away-from-fcg-game)

indeed, as i walked down the hall, i did notice for the first time that all the classes were dark and empty. it's not like the halls are usually bustling at this hour..but there are at least three other classes going on in that section of the building, at the same time.

and when i walked down the hill to the parking lot, i was able to spot my car sitting forlornly waiting for wasn't quite hard.

it was the only car in the parking lot.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

once upon a time i loved Sundays. now i hate them. they've become all-you-can-study day. a marathon-try-to-cram-all-your-studying-into-one-day-that-you-stagger-up-to-dinner-with-a-crashing-headache-day. i figure if i do all my schoolwork in the beginning of the week i won't have work to do the rest of the week. ha. my life is a treadmill of homework and exams;

not that I'm complaining.

c'est la vie d'un ├ętudiant.

right now i am desperately trying to chew my way through a chapter about immune system, T-cells, and B-cells. very boring. think Professor Binns meets Artemis Fowl. a vast wealth of obscure knowledge taught in the most boring way. but alas, i can't complain. sister 1 has eleven chapters to go through, while i only have two. i can't figure out which is more boring; management organizational behavior or lymph nodes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

it's a good thing i save everything. today i was online when my friend messaged me:

Y: hey, random q, do you have classmates wedding invitations?

me: actually, i do. what can i do for you?

Y: can i borrow Z's invitation? i need it for a project

(another one of my great assets: i don't ask nosy questions. like what kind of 'project do you do with a year-old-wedding invitation)

me: sure, no problem. i don't REALLY need it, but i really would like to get it back

Y: thanks, I'll swing by later today to pick it up

see that?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

quick fact #987: if you suck in helium from a balloon, it makes your voice squeaky

yup, it's true. for awhile i was too scared to try it, but one very late night in camp i tried it. it's one of the freakiest things to hear a different voice come out of your own mouth. and it's even creepier hearing a high-pitched voice come out of a guy's mouth. almost a month and a half ago my friends got me balloons for my birthday. it's amazing that they still have helium in them. i guess the balloon-selling stores in queens know a secret. this morning i poked a hole in one and was babbling like a child when my mother walked in. at first she looked concerned to see her 20 year old daughter sucking helium, but when i started talking she was in stitches. by the time all the helium had been used up we'd all taken turns and were howling with laughter. i've got another ballon left. maybe i'll persuade sister 1 to 'do some helium' for my own personal enjoyment and maybe add something to my collection of embarassing and incriminating photos and vidoes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

another useless fact to keep in mind:

if you put a quarter in an empty Snapple bottle, close it up, and shake it REAL hard, the entire bottom will drop out. in one piece.

it's pretty cool. and fun to do. in general it's fun to destroy glass. whenever i have an empty bottle, i always have to resist the urge to hurl it into a trashcan as hard as i can. there's something very satisfying about the tinkling crash it makes as it explodes into shards.

tonight i sat with my friend and drank Snapple. when we finished, we went to an abandoned parking lot (the quarter makes ALOT of noise rattling around, it can be very embarrassing in public) and tried it out. and it worked!

it's fun to spend time with friends and do things like that
this past shabbos was probably the coldest one of my life.

i mean, i don't usually eat my meals outside, but then again, the heat in our house somehow got turned off. besides coming away from the shabbos with new trivia (one of our guests is going to be on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire so he's been studying any trivia books he can get his hands on) I've contracted a slightly serious cold. i thinks it's a combination of all the freezing and thawing out (my fingers and toes feel like leftover chestnuts sold by the guys on the streets that have been heated and reheated) coupled with the fact that i haven't been sleeping as much as i usually do. i have a practical they day after Succot. (sister1 says it's called a practical because I'm practically going to fail. thanks for your vote of confidence, honey) my rabbi said I'm not allowed to say I'm specifically studying for a test so I'm pretending i like looking at pictures of different body parts.

i know, I'm weird.

but i gotta go now. i need to hunt down some Advil for my aching head, and a new box of tissues.

Friday, October 17, 2008

y'know that feeling you get when you wear a new shirt? it's a clean, crisp feel. my lab partner Melissa even complimented me on my new shirt. but the feeling disappeared halfway through class.

we had the weekly quiz, but it was set up like the practical exam is; 25 stations with a question at each station. we took a minute for each question, rotating when the professor called out "switch!" (reader will note that the word 'professor' is used very loosely here, because the 24-year old who wears the lab coat teaches the information, but doesn't know a thing about classroom conduct. or the rules of taking tests. like the no-talking-rule for one thing...)

at one station, there was no question, but my 'professor' said to each student there:

"give me five and you get a free point"

would i get away with not having to slap his hand? no such luck, he did it to each student. and when Melissa forgot to slap his hand he made her come back and do it. it's not that people are not understanding, it's just awkward all around. Tracy looked at me sympathetically, as if reading my thoughts. (I'd had a whole discussion with her in the previous lab about negiah, she knew about it even though she isn't religious)

in my head, i started running through the explanations i had for this occasion. i practiced it in my head as i got closer and closer to the table.

"fcg! give me five and you get a free point"
"uh...sorry i can't. religious reasons"
"oh...uh, OK sorry. you get the point anyway"
"thanks sir"

a tip for the future: don't wear new shirts when you might have to dissect a sheep's heart that comes dripping out of a barrel of formaldehyde...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Succot is by far my favorite Yomtov. it's always been like that since I'm a little kid. i love the season of fall, and i love every minute of the holiday

we've kept every decoration I've ever made. right from first grade up through ninth. there was the sand art i made in third, the tracing i did in fifth {that's the one that has wrong spelling which brother 1 so lovingly points out in front of all the company} since sister1 and i are a year apart we have a lot of doubles. of course we have the traditional 'holiday bling' as my mother likes to call it. she recently learned that word so she likes to use it. we make our chains out of a hard plastic material that my grandfather's company uses so we don't have to replace it every year. in the past its been my job to hang up pine in the Sukkah , and sister1 has the task of hanging up the 'holiday lights' (both longstanding family traditions) but we've been so busy with school and sister 1 shorted the lights last year and hasn't replaced them so our Sukkah is lacking both.

my dad always talks about the Sukkah hops he took as a kid. to me, they were just Jewishified trick or treating. and i didn't need some stale popcorn, or old candies, because the shul i davened in on Simchat Torah gave out enough candy to last until Purim. one year i got roped into leading a Bnos Sukkah hop, and that was enough to turn me off forever.

once again, my Chol Hamoed has been yanked out from under me. at least this year i have my test on the first day of Chol Hamoed of on the last day, so i still get Sunday off. my professors who aren't Jewish at all were very accommodating about me missing class, that is, once i explained to them that there are two different types of holidays, the kind i can come in on, and the kind i cannot. my friend who has a frum professor wasn't so lucky. she had a class last night at seven thirty, and she couldn't tell her professor that she couldn't make it because of a holiday, so the second Yomtov was over she hightailed out of her house to school. ugh.

the Hillel my college got lucky today. they were having some concert and it was raining, so lots of people were coming inside the Sukkah to take shelter. although they usually do have a fairly large turnout.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

fcg's tip for life #26: don't use your favorite ringtone as your alarm clock

it's amazing how the brain associates sounds with memory. i can listen to a song for the first time in three years, and it will bring back memories of the first time i heard it, or a summer when i listened to it often. it can often trigger the olfaction cells to bring back memories of certain smells too.

i get a deep-rooted aversion to whatever ring tone i use for an alarm on my phone. it was over three summers ago, but i still shudder involuntarily if i hear a particular Nokia ring tone; it was the music that so rudely jarred me awake at a quarter to seven to go rouse a bunch of cranky teenagers to set the tables in the camp dining room.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

is it possible to discern a frum person's voice?

i was sitting in the student lounge, waiting for class to resume after a test. (which, by the way, is the cruelest thing a professor can do to a class IMNSHO. after an exam, no one wants to look at the professor's face. they all just want him/her to go home and mark the tests) i was speculating on the exam, and trying to start studying for an exam which i have on chol hamoed. it was pretty deserted, and i was wondering if the heap of clothing in the corner was a forgotten pile or a person. suddenly, i heard a voice and footsteps coming up the stairs

"yo. what's up? where the heck have you been, man?"

the first thing that popped into my mind was that it belonged to a frum person. i couldn't put my finger on it, but somehow the voice had sounded so.....Jewish.

i peered around the corner, and sure enough, a yarmulke went barreling down the hall, talking at 80 mph.

it was so strange.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

they're baaaaack!

i was online in a store the other day, and i heard two guys talking excitedly behind me

"dude, the checks are back! I'm psyched"
"oh awesome, i thought that text was a scam, i guess it worked!"

Verizon users to have the pleasure of being able to differentiate between those in and out of the network. when sending a text to someone who "is Verizon" a little check appeared next to the text after it was received. and then, one day, they suddenly stopped. there were no little checks. people were stunned, horrified, and outraged. i received a text begging me to call Verizon and request the reappearance of the checks. then i got another text that informed that if i were to send a text to ten people who have Verizon, the checks would come back. i don't think this is what did it, but as of about a week ago, the checks have indeed come back.

now we have to find another thing to complain about.

when i should have been doing work i was losing myself in the evils of cyberspace, and stumbling around in the blogosphere, i came upon this post which reminded me of a story my mom told me.

there was an American who moved to Israel and was having a problem with bugs. so she called a chiloni exterminator. but instead of calling the bugs by their correct name, charakim, she called them chareidim. i can only imagine the conversation that ensued

woman: yeish li ba'aya im hachareidim

exterminator: ah giveret, gam yesh li hamon hamon ba'ayot im hacharedim aval ein mah la'asot itam

woman: aval ani soneit otam, v'ani rotzah l'harog otam!

exterminator (laughing) gam ani rotzeh l'harog otam...

Friday, October 3, 2008

everyone's a pack rat on some level.

we each have that bag or box of things, that only contain sentimental value but never gets looked at.

for awhile i had a memory box, with random things that i would throw in, napkin from a party, a rock from a hike, my hospital bracelet from the time i went in for stitches, visitor's brochure from the Capitol....i started throwing in bentchers from the occasional wedding i attended, but once my friends started having bat mitzvahs i stopped, because the box got too full. in fact, at weddings, i don't take bentchers anymore. i don't need them to sit in a shoebox under my bed like sister 1's collection, and goodness knows, my family doesn't need anymore. we've got at least nine or ten from my aunt's wedding fifteen years ago, a good thirty (at least) from bother 1's bar mitzvah (four years ago) and the gift set from millers with the family's name on it. not to mention, bentchers from every single nephew, niece, second cousin's wedding or bar mitzvah.

in fact, i challenge sister 1 and everyone else out there who saves bentchers (if indeed there is anyone else who does this) and pull them out in six years and recall who each bentcher is from. it's kind of hard to remember when the girl's name was hudi stern and the bentcher says moshe shumuel and yehudis chaya rosenkranz, or something.

but i keep wedding invitations. i know it's as irrational as anything else, but i've got quite a collection. I've got every high school and seminary classmate's invitation, with the exception of the first classmate who got married before i left to Israel. (I've started categorizing my life into two separate categories; pre- and post-Israel, but that's another post) I've got them in the original envelope, in alphabetical order with the name on the outside for easy access. and i keep all the place cards too. why am i keeping them? i have absolutely no clue. there was one wedding i went to, and i got there a bit early, and wanted to double check that i was at the right hall. that was actually before i started writing the names on the outside. so i had sister 1 go into the closet and find the invitation.

who knows. maybe one day I'll be talking with my friends about our weddings, and we'll have a dispute over another friends anniversary. or where the wedding was. and I'll be able to pull out my dusty collection and prove myself right. or wrong.

it's not likely. but hey, you never know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

it's the last twenty minutes of the fast that get me.
i managed just fine today. i was in school from one to six. i managed to suffer through the break when everyone was eating. it's so funny how when i'm not eating, the most random foods are mouth-watering. i tried explaining the whole fast thing to Tracy. she looked kind of confused, as if Yom Kippur had come early, when i told her i wasn't eating today. but as a kind gesture, she ate her salad outside the lab, instead of at our table when she heard my stomach protesting the lack of food.

i went shopping for my mom, went to say mazal tov to my friend who had a baby, meet my godson, came home, set the table, and now i'm sitting and waiting those last few minutes till i can break my fast on that cup of orange juice that's waiting for me....
all my friends say married life is wonderful. in fact one of my friends invited me to try it. i don't think she meant she would share her married life with me, but when i asked her how she's doing, she brightly responded "oh married life is great! you should try it some time!" that actually made me wonder if people actually think about what they're saying. i guess not.

but for all they've extolled the virtues of tying a knot, not one of them has mentioned the aspect of marriage which by far scares me the most:

you lose your individuality.

whether it happens intentionally, or other people do it to you, you and your beloved become lumped together as one identity. joint facebook accounts, email addresses, wedding invitations, you become aviandsara. or malkyandyossi. that's it. one thing.

indeed, i was at a friend, and her husband was talking about the time they went for blood tests, " when we had our blood test..." yea right. nobody poked you or took your blood out, buddy.

and married women can't answer any question without first consulting their better half. in fact, they say it before replying to any kind of question. i call my friend to chat:

me: hey, what do you think of the weather outside?
her: i don't know, I'll have to ask my husband

i like being just . i come unattached.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'd say Rosh Hashana was mostly a success in my house. most of the new recipes tried out by my mom went over pretty well. with the exception of the pumpkin soup. it was.....well, I'll just leave it at that i can safely say i won't be seeing it over Succot. on an interesting note, there were three new recipes that contained some measure of alcohol. beer chicken, Bloody Mary meat, and rum cake. a little more and we all would be staggering drunkenly out of Yom Tov.

I survived shul with only minimal social embarrassment. for years i have been arguing with my mother over the subject of whether or not people stare at you when you walk in. her argument: you're just an insecure teenager, and you think everyone is looking at you. (well, not in so many words, but that was basically her point) but I'm convinced people do stare. my uncle told me when he comes into shul he stands next to the door, pushes it open, waits a minute for all the heads to swivel in his direction and then face front again, and then he walks in. smart move. but i don't have a door frame to hide behind. so this time i went to shul really early, before most of the people were there, so i escaped with only a few stares. but when my sister walked in, i looked at the other people.

they WERE staring.