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Isn't it pretty?

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Ten Days of Teshuvah

During the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are supposed to do everything we can to improve ourselves and be the absolute best we can be, even if we know it won't last after the ten days. People take on cholov yisroel, pas yisroel, extra davening, etc. What have I taken on for these ten days? Not much, I am sorry to say. I am trying to be the best person I can be, not speak loshon hara, not provoke anyone, I am trying my best to curb my sarcasm (something I have a lot of trouble with). But as far as taking anything on, I am having trouble finding something that I feel I can manage. Last year I read the whole book of Tehillim during the Ten Days. This year I feel like I am doing well if I can manage to daven everything during shacharis (which is more than I usually do, at least it is something). Does this mean I am in for a bad year? I really hope not. Please Hashem, have mercy on me for this new year. As far as Rosh Hashanah goes, mine was nice but filled with stress. I hope this isn't an indication of what the year will be like. My tefillah was good, even heard and remembered a very good speech by the rabbi (which I really should blog about). Sorry I don't have more to say during what is supposed to be an awe-inspired time.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I have power!

Just a quick note for all of my readers (ok, I know I don't have many) who have been worried about me - I just got the news that the power is back on in my apartment! Let there be light!

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah starts tomorrow night. For inspiration and things to think about during the holidays, I suggest Aish.com or Project Genesis. I truly hope that this new year brings everyone much simcha and nachas. Rosh Hashanah, while making me focus on the New Year, also causes me to reflect on the previous year and what I have learned from it. I think the biggest lesson that I have been beaten over the head with this past year is that I can't do it all alone. I have had to learn that it is okay to ask for help and depend on others at times. As someone who is independent to the point of it being a fault, I have had quite a few circumstances happen to me in the past year that have forced me to ask others for help and support. This past week, being without power (and it still hasn't been restored, by the way), I have had to rely on my friends for showers, laundry, computer access and escape from my apartment. And you know what? It didn't kill me. I had to admit that I couldn't do everything on my own this week, and it has brought me closer to my friends and shown me that it is okay to ask for help in times of need. I think I will always want to be able to do things on my own. But I think the lesson that I can't has been an important step in my growth process. I wish everyone a sweet and happy New Year. Shana Tova Tikateivu.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Judgment and Compassion

Still no power. 5-1/2 days now. Getting a bit bitter. Moving on. I attended a shiur last night by Rabbi David Fohrman. I had been told that he is an amazing speaker and I have to say that I had been told correctly. Appropriately, he spoke about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, about the attributes of each of the holidays and how they differ from each other, using the story of Jonah as an allegory for the traits of Hashem that each holiday represents. I can not even begin to give his shiur justice here, but the bottom line was this: Rosh Hashanah is a day of justice, where we are judged for our actions. Yom Kippur is a day of compassion, where we are given the chance to show our potential and given an opportunity to live up to that potential in the next year. Hashem is full of compassion for us, and He wants us to utilize our potential. He can see the potential in each of us, and He gives showers us with the ultimate compassion to help us reach that potential. May Hashem show each one of us His total compassion and help us reach our potential in the New Year. And may we show just a bit of that compassion to others.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Still no power. Very frustrated. Craving people being very sweet and loving and understanding towards me. Not getting it so much.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Klutz Strikes Again

I am still without power. 84 hours and counting. But even if I don't have power, I do have a JCC membership. And the JCC does have lots of showers with lots of hot water. And I have been neglecting my JCC membership lately. I am sure my membership card has been going through withdrawal. So this morning, very early, I packed my bag with my towel, shampoo, and makeup, and headed over to the JCC to take my shower so that I didn't stink all day at work. No problem, doing fine, almost dressed and ready to go when... BANG. Slammed my temple into a piece of metal sitting there just waiting for me. So now I am going about my day, with a bump next to my eye, a bruise starting to form. My inner klutz is laughing, once again. It is telling me, "You will never grow out of this, just give up already!" What a gift to pass on to my children.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Hurricane Isabel continued

Okay, so I can now say that I officially lived through Hurricane Isabel. While things are not back to normal yet (i.e. I still do not have power, when the heck is BGE going to get to my apartment?), I can say that I learned quite a few things from the storm already. Care for me to expound on lessons learned? Oh good. 1. I have an electric-powered water heater. Did not know that. Have always had gas-powered water heaters in the past. No electricity plus no hot water means that I have to prevail upon my extremely accomodating friends for showers. 2. Kind of a continuance of the previous - Thank G-d, I have amazing friends. Friends who have not minded the fact that I have descended upon their apartments while I am without power. I knew this before, but times of need always reiterates that point in my mind. 3. I do not tolerate not having power very well. I get whiny and cranky and like to complain a lot. I am not even quite sure why it bothers me so much. During the day, I wouldn't typically have had the lights on so much anyway, there is not so much need for them, but I just could not stay in my apartment without power. It just bothered me that I couldn't turn on the light if I wanted to. 4. Dry ice does not last that long. It does help, but only for a while. After it is gone, it is time to move the food out or junk it all. I am sure there were other lessons learned during the storm, but I will stop here. Will keep everyone updated on whether power ever comes back (I am hoping for at least before Rosh Hashanah). The next time you flick your light switch on - take a second to appreciate the fact that you can.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Hurricane Isabel

I am sure you can watch the storm approaching on The Weather Channel Online. Will Baltimore be swept into the Chesapeake? Will Virginia be made a whole state of nothing but beach? Will the 10 inches of expected rain flood my apartment and drown my poor cat? Will I be able to go home from work early and catch up on much-needed R&R? The answer to these questions and many others, after the storm. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

What I Like

Ok, yesterday was a bad day. Moving on... I have decided I am going to make a list of things and feelings I like. I don't know why I am doing this, and don't know if you care about these things, but here goes: I like: Seeing a letter with a real stamp on it in the mail box when I come home. Answering the phone and hearing the voice of a friend I haven't heard from in a long time. Being with friends and stopping to realize that I really am having a great time. Finding an outfit that I love and when I go to purchase it, I find out it is on sale. Seeing someone I know on Only Simchas. Being able to help someone else. Having guests. The sound of rain. Cuddling with my cat. Meeting someone new and really connecting with them. Being inspired by something I learn about Torah. Reading a good book. Curling up under my blanket on a cold night. Taking a walk on a day when the weather is perfect (high 60's/low 70's), the sky is blue and there is a gentle breeze. Ok, that is a start to my list. What are yours? E-mail me and let me know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Count Your Blessings

I was reminded once again last night how Hashem has blessed me with an incredible group of friends who I value beyond almost anything else. I am in school and feel like I am finally getting something accomplished in my life, and it is intellectually stimulating, which I definitely needed. I have a very supportive rabbi and rebbetzin who are there for me and care about me. And my parents, while I don't see them on a regular basis, are there for me if I need them. So the truth is, I really am blessed and have a lot more in my life than a lot of people that I know. Hashem, please help me keep that in mind.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

New York, New York

I am going to New York this weekend. Ok, so I know to most people, that doesn't sound like it is such a big deal. But the truth is, I have never been to the city before (outside of the airport, that is). Growing up in the South, New York was pretty far away, and not especially convenient for making a short visit. Besides the fact that most people in the South kind of shun New York as too "big city." But I have now been living in Baltimore for almost a year and a half, Baltimore being a mere 3-1/2 hours drive away from The Big Apple, and I still haven't made it there. I know people who go up for a day, people who are there every week, but I have so far managed to avoid it altogether. This pattern is to end this weekend. So I have to say I am a little bit excited about it. I don't know if I could ever live there, but I do think it will be fun to visit, at least once. If anyone has any suggestions of something I just "MUST SEE," let me know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Life's Little Mysteries

I have a mysterious bruise on my finger. Yes, I said my finger. On the inside of my finger. I didn't even know you could get bruises there. But leave it to me. It spontaneously appeared last week after my first class. I was driving home and all of a sudden I felt a pain on the inside of my finger (for those of you who are wondering, it is my right-hand ring finger). It was dark in the car so I waited until I got home to look at it, and when I did, I had a bruise on the inside of the top joint of my finger. I thought it was weird, but the pain went away after about an hour or so and the bruise went away after a couple days so I didn't think too much about it. Then the other day it randomly started hurting again for a few minutes, but the bruise didn't reappear so I thought it was just a little memory pain to remind me that I still have that finger and to appreciate the fact that it is there. Well, this morning as I am getting ready the finger starts hurting again, in the same place, and the bruise is back with a vengeance. This time it is more than a bruise, it is actually swollen a bit and looking a fairly menacing shade of purple. I have absolutely no idea what I could have done to the inside of my finger to make it so mad. I don't even wear rings on a regular basis and have certainly never worn a ring on the top joint of my finger. I am getting a little worried that possibly I managed to hurt my finger's feelings a bit in some unknown way and it is now trying to get back at me. Maybe I neglected that finger in favor of the other nine, I am not sure. But I am starting to be a bit concerned that this random pain and bruising is not so random and might need to be checked out. Any doctors out there who can help me with this?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Responsibility for Others

There is a girl in my life who I met this past summer. She intially called me because she wanted someone to learn with and she was given my number by an organization in town that sets up chevrusas. Well, given my track record for actually learning with chevrusas (hint - it is fairly poor), I am happy to say that we have actually learned together on occasion, but what we have spent most of our time doing is talking about life issues, which to me is a form of learning also. It is a new position for me to be the one who is more knowledgeable, the one who is doing the teaching. It is something that I am working on, that I am a bit uncomfortable with at times, because I feel the weight of responsibility in being a role model for someone else, and I can see that I am a role model to her, that she looks up to me. The weird thing is, as random as it was that we were set up to learn together, I feel that, in many ways, she is a reflection of me. She has been going through some extremely similar life situations as I have been in. It is uncanny in many ways how similar some of her recent experiences have been to mine. Almost to the point where I feel like Hashem might have put me through some of those experiences so that I can help guide her through them. (Don't get me wrong, I am not so arrogant as to believe that I didn't have major things to learn from the experiences I had, I know that they happened to me for me to grow through them as well.) This girl calls me when she is having problems so she can get my advice, she asks me what she should do with her life, she seems to trust my judgement when it comes to how to deal with situations. And she says that talking to me really helps her feel better about things, to calm her down when she is upset. It is a major responsibility that I don't take lightly. I feel like Hashem is telling me that it is time for me to help others now, that it is time for me to focus on helping others get through what I have already been through. Only Hashem could have sent this girl into my life, this girl who has experiences such similar things to myself. I only hope that I live up to the responsibility and do impact this girl's life for the positive. Hashem, please guide me.

Monday, September 08, 2003

My Co-Worker

Friday I got in a yelling match with one of my co-workers. The same co-worker that I have trouble dealing with on a regular basis. It's a long story, but basically it ended up with her coming into my office and yelling at me and me not being able to sit quietly and take it. I told her more than once that I didn't think we should discuss it right then, but she would not leave me alone. She personally attacked me, saying that I shouldn't present myself as being such a "good Jewish, Christian, upright person" if I was going to stab her in the back. I felt I couldn't just sit there and be a complete doormat, and not say anything, so I ended up saying some things that were not so nice either, though I don't think they were on the same level of personal attack. (You will have to take my word for it, but I could be wrong, because of course I am not objective.) Driving home from work, I thought about what she said, and started feeling guilty. My actions were definitely not a kiddush Hashem that day. It is Elul, and I should be striving for growth. I know that I can't be perfect, but in this situation, it is obvious that I am being judged for every action that I make, and I need to be extremely cautious in my interactions. So when I got home from work, I turned on my computer and wrote her an apology, asking her to forgive me for my actions, and telling her that I did not intend to hurt her in any way, even stating that I need to work harder on thinking before speaking. I got a very lengthy response from her, telling me that she appreciates my apology but saying that she doesn't feel she can trust me and that she doesn't think that I have her best interests at heart. It goes on and on, making negative references to our boss and saying that she no longer wants to work with me on projects, because she thinks that I will consequently screw her over. Sigh. I am disappointed in myself for getting into the situation in the first place, but I think I am more disappointed to see that this woman, who is very bright and could have a lot going for her, has so many issues and doesn't even seem to see it. I have no idea what the answer is here, or even how I should handle the situation, because I do want to be a good representative of Hashem, of Jews. I am at a loss here, hopefully Hashem will help guide me in this one, because I definitely need the help. And I hope that Hashem will help my co-worker, because I think she definitely needs some help also.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Nothing Ever Changes

I have to read The Iliad by Homer this semester for one of my classes. The whole thing. Quite a daunting task. The first eight chapters are due by next week. So since I have turned over a new leaf and decided that I will actually apply myself and study this time around with school, I sat down last night and started reading. I read part of The Odyssey while I was in high school (which was a LONG time ago now), but never The Iliad. And the truth is, whatever parts of The Odyssey I did read, I have managed to forget pretty much everything about it (to be perfectly honest, I probably didn't read much of what was assigned way back when). So, I was properly intimidated about trying to read The Iliad, not helped much by the fact that the book could in no way be considered short. But I was determined, and I picked it up and started reading. Surprisingly, the language was not so hard to understand, and after a few pages, I managed to get into the rhythm of it, and was able to pick up most of what was going on. The hardest part, I found, was keeping everyone's name straight (though I often have the same problem when I am reading my girly fiction books, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise). So, I'm reading along about these great, powerful kings after a big battle, along with these Greek gods who come down to earth and interact with everyone, and I am struck by how petty all these supposedly mighty warriors are. They fight over two girls, can't get along, and then, when they finally part ways, the king runs home crying to mommy. Runs home crying to mommy? This king, after the war is over, and he has to give up two girls that he believes he has won in battle (and don't even get me started on women being the spoils of war), goes home, starts crying like a baby, and asks mommy to go fix everything for him. He asks her to intervene with the gods on his behalf to help him get back his girl. And of course, she does whatever she can for her baby son. I was quite surprised by this. I am not sure what Homer is saying here. Is he saying that behind the scenes, it is the women who run things? Is he saying that no matter how powerful and strong a man might be, his instinct is to go home and cry on mommy's shoulder and ask her to fix things and make them all better? I thought that these big, mighty men would never have anything to do with women, would see them as the weaker sex, as objects to be saved, but here, in this epic poem that is allegedly over 3,000 years old, men are shown as needing their mothers to right the "injustices" done to them? Reading that one chapter went a long way into explaining some of the guys I have dated. All I have to say is, Oh Boy.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Quite a Day

Yesterday was quite a day for me. I did two things that I haven't done in a really long time - I went to the dentist and I went to school. Ok, ok, I know you are supposed to go to the dentist every six months, but somehow I got confused and thought that they meant every six years. (Fine, so I didn't really think that, just wished.) But I mustered up my courage and walked into the office and sat down in the dreaded chair. And you know what? It wasn't that bad! I couldn't believe it. I didn't have a single cavity (thanks to excellent home dental care and flossing regularly), and though they are already talking about cutting my mouth open to snatch my wisdom teeth from my jaw (I think they would be missed terribly), there is nothing imminent that needs to be done. I faced my fear and it wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. The other big thing of yesterday is that I started school. Had my first day of statistics class. While that might sound horrendous to other people, I am actually fairly decent at math and the class shouldn't be so hard for me. Of course the professor is having an extra session to explain the computer software to us on Saturday so I will have to miss out on that, she seems to be pretty cool. I have decided that my goal for the semester is to make all A's. I really feel like if I work at it, I can do it. It would definitely give me a sense of accomplishment, something that I don't know that I have had in a long time. So all in all, the day that I have been dreading for the past few weeks was not as bad as I thought. On another note, I got a thank-you note yesterday from a friend of mine who recently had a baby. I helped her out a bit, baking and helping her around the house a little. The note was so nice and gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is nice to be appreciated, especially for something that I didn't think so much about doing. It really confirmed the fact that it is the little things that you do that really make an impact on others. Even when you are not thinking so much about helping someone out, it could make all the difference to that person. So, three lessons for the day: 1) Face your fears, they may not end up being as bad as you think. 2) It is the small acts of kindness that make such a difference in someone's life. 3) Dont' forget to floss.