.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Isn't it pretty?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Parshas Vayera

My current roommate and I met while we were both studying in Israel at Jewel, which is an program of Aish Hatorah. One of the classes that we attended focused on in-depth textual study of the Torah. It just so happened that the portion that our teacher focused on was Vayera, this week's parsha. So every year when Parshas Vayera comes up, we refer to it as "our Parsha," and we revel in the fact that there is one section of the Torah that we know really well. So in honor of the fact that I know this parsha, I wanted to share a small thing that I remember learning. The parsha opens with Avraham sitting at the entrance to his tent, three days after his Bris. It is extremely hot, and Avraham must be in pain considering the situation. Hashem appears to Avraham, but doesn't say anything. The question was asked regarding why Hashem doesn't say anything to Avraham, to comfort him, to give him some encouragement, to tell him that he will feel better soon. A proposed answer was that sometimes you don't need to say anything, just the fact that you are there is comforting. It is enough to know that you care. Words can be trite and meaningless at times, but just the warm presence and knowledge that someone cares can reassuring. This is often hard for those of us who are trying to comfort our sick friends and family. Silence can be awkward and many times we feel a need to counter that silence with any words. But a hug, a touch, or just the knowledge that someone is there, and they care, can be more reassuring than the common words that often are given. A soothing presence can be the best medicine. And Hashem, who is always there for us with His comforting presence, even though He doesn't always speak to us in words, should be the most soothing reassurance we could possibly want.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Send Luck My Way!

I am taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination - the entrance exam for graduate school) tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:30 PM. This is the first standardized test I have taken since high school (which was quite a while ago). So, I humbly request that you:

Keep your fingers crossed,

Rub your lucky penny,

Grab your horseshoe,

Send me a four-leaf clover,

And hold on to your rabbit's foot.

And send me a lot of good luck on the test tomorrow! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Anne of Green Gables

When I was in junior high, my best friend encouraged me to read Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It took a little bit of prodding before my friend managed to convince me to read it. From the title, Anne sounded boring - a prim and proper girl from the turn of the century who never did anything wrong. When I finally consented to read the book, boy was I surprised. Anne was so much fun! I have read it over many times since then, and I am reading it once again now. Anne is bright, full of imagination, constantly getting herself into scrapes and probably the most endearing character I have ever read. She gets carried away by fantasy, fiercely loves and cherishes her friends, and is loyal to the end. She is a dreamer and idealist and strives to be good, though sometimes falling short of that mark. Anne had a concept of "kindred spirits," people you connected with instantly; those who had some quality that forged an understanding link. Sometimes there is no reason for why the two connect; you just happen to speak the same language. I have felt those connections throughout my life, a kindred spirit was special to Anne and it is special to me as well. There was something about Anne that I related to. Her adventurous spirit, her desire to experience new things and learn about a wide array of topics. Her way of appreciating all the beauty of the world. I am not sure everyone would like Anne; some would probably think she is silly or too flighty. But I know I appreciate her for her flaws as much as her positive attributes. And I will read Anne of Green Gables again and again.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I'm Blaming it on Monday

Weekends are never long enough. This past weekend especially. I did manage to ignore the fact that I have responsibilities (mainly in the form of grocery shopping and studying) that are way overdue, but other than that, I feel I hardly accomplished anything this weekend. Mondays are really the worst though. With the annoying blare of my alarm clock which continually ignores my pleas to stop ringing in my ear,

I drag myself out of bed on Mondays, not quite ready to face the day, but unable to prolong it for fear of being late to work. This morning, I got myself up, went through my usual morning routine, and pulled into my gleaming white shirt (gleaming only because I finally remembered to add bleach to the wash to erase the numerous stains I had managed to color my shirt with).

I admired the fact that bleach works so well and my shirt was back to its natural white state. I made my way to work, sat down with my morning essential caffeine infusion, and no sooner had I taken my first sip when - SPLASH!

Coffee all over my clean white shirt. Oh yeah, that's why my mom wouldn't buy me anything white for the first, how many years?, oh yeah, she still won't buy me anything white. You would think I would grow out of it one of these days - probably just in time for me to have kids of my own that will spill all of their drinks all over me. I am blaming it on the fact that it is Monday and to keep the blame plausible, my new rule is that I am not allowed to wear white shirts on any other days - I wouldn't want to think it has something to do with me! I will give Monday credit for one thing though (important to always find a silver lining) - I am having a great hair day!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Eternal Sunshine

How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sun-shine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resigned. ---Alexander Pope Last night, a friend and I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Eternal Sunshine is the story of erasing bad memories. In the movie, there is a clinic a person can go to when they want to rid themselves of a bad experience, or a person who has hurt them. This clinic will go into your brain and take out the memories that you no longer wish to have.

It made me think. It made me wonder if there are any memories or people that I would erase from my brain if I could. I have had bad moments, and people in my life. My initial impulse would be that I would definitely erase them given the opportunity. But then I think about what it would be like if I didn't have those memories.

If they were completely erased from my brain, then the lessons that I learned from them would probably also be gone. And I have grown so much through the bad memories. They hurt, a lot. There were times in my life that I wasn't always sure I would get over them. But time heals. And we grow.

And some of the people who hurt me the most are also the same people who gave me great memories. Who taught me what it was like to love and be loved. They taught me that I can get through hard times. And how to forgive. They gave me the opportunity to rely on my friends, and to forge bonds with people that I might not have otherwise.

So, yes, the ability to erase bad memories from my mind is alluring. But I think I would be much more shallow and weak and less confident if I erased every bad memory or experience from my brain.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Blogger = Houdini

Ok, Blogger is officially on my list of annoyances for the day. I had a really nice post written about how pretty all the leaves are these days and how much I use to enjoy jumping in them when I was little. It had beautiful pictures accompanying my carefully chosen words. And when I hit publish, all gone! So, enjoy the pictures, the words you will have to do without for the moment. Have a wonderful Shabbos and take time to appreciate all the gorgeous colors falling from the trees.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Desperate Housewives

I was listening to the radio this morning on my way to work and they were discussing a new show called "Desperate Housewives." I haven't seen the show, so I don't really know what it is about, but apparently it is extremely popular. Why is it so popular? According to the radio program, it is popular because it is a view of women who are unhappy with the suburban dream of big house, 2.5 kids and eating bon-bons all day long. And that view is something that today's women can relate to and enjoy watching. I am troubled by that. This show is drawing over 21 million people per week who enjoy commiserating with women who are openly unhappy about their marital and social settings. Viewers are enjoying the show because they identify with the characters, and feel that their voices are finally being aired by this television show. I am troubled because I have to wonder why so many women can relate to the show. Why do so many women feel stifled and underserved by their marriages and social situations? Why are so many women unsatisfied with their families? There are so many outlets these days for women. I think part of the problem is that once a woman gets married and starts having children, she feels that she has to play a role and has no options. But I don't think this is true. And I think it is imperative for a woman to do what is right for her, because I feel like her happiness, rather than frustration, will make a huge difference to her whole family. I am not suggesting that women should abandon their families and not take them into consideration at all when making decisions. I just don't feel like women have to tie themselves into the traditional role if they feel it makes them unhappy. I don't see myself being happy being a stay-at-home mother. I think it will be better for my future children if I work outside the home for part of the day. That way, when I am home, I will appreciate being there and I will feel like I have more outlets for myself than just my children. (Please note that I don't think there is anything wrong with staying at home, I just don't feel like it is for everyone.) So I am sad that so many women can relate to "Desperate Housewives." I think women need to really look inside themselves and discover what would make them happy, and take steps (working with their families) to make those things happen. The radio show was impressed that "Desperate Housewives" was airing such a hidden peek at the real world of suburban women. I am disheartened to know that so many housewives are so desperate to be free of their constraints.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Ok, I must admit that I am fairly uninterested in politics, and have not kept myself completely informed about what is going on in the presidential race. I still have not decided who I am going to vote for, because I tend to be very middle-of-the-road about politics. I want to vote, because I do value the fact that I have the right to; and as a female, I know how long and hard women of the past fought for me to have this right, and I don't think it is proper for me to just throw it by the wayside. However, I want to be an informed voter. So, here is your, my blog reader's, opportunity to inform me as to why I should vote for either candidate.

The rules are these - 1) Your argument must be based on issues. 2) No bashing the other candidate - that loses points for your side! 3) This is not a debate on my blog, just your chance to tell me why you think one candidate is worth the vote over the other, please don't fight! 4) No lying - I want facts that I can go back and verify. Thank you for your help in informing me about the election! If you feel your argument for a side would be too long to post in the comments, you can e-mail me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Change is Good

I have been bored,

uninspired to write anything,

and missing my favorite color:


So I decided to once again change my template and look. I think I managed it without any major losses - so enjoy! Let me know if you have any suggestions of additions that I can add to my newest face lift (nothing that requires technical knowledge though).

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I recently read "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. I had mixed feeling about the entire book, but what I thought was really powerful was the emphasis Albom puts on the fact that you never really know what impact you have on others and what impact they have on you. Albom constructs the book around the idea that after you die, you meet five people who explain to you what life is all about. These five people are not always those who you would expect. The five people that the main character is confronted with are an odd mixture of people he knew very well to people he never met. I often think about the fact that we never know what we do that could change someone else. A single kind word to someone you barely know when they are having a bad day can make a world of difference to that person. I am amazed day after day when a small gesture from someone else manages to change my entire mood. Just yesterday, I was tired and grumpy when a friend of mine called me out of the blue (all the way from Russia!), and after speaking to her for a little while, I found that I couldn't even fathom why I had been down to begin with. "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" definitely offered big lessons to be learned. It spoke volumes about love, family, and the influence that can be made on someone you never even meet.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A Soldier's Perspective

One of the things that I really like about my university is that we have an unbelievably diverse group of students attending classes. The students I meet are from an incredibly interesting mix of ages, cultures, religions and backgrounds. It really makes discussions interesting, and allows us to hear perspectives that we might not typically be exposed to. The other night we were discussing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was first coined in relation to soldiers who had gone through battle during the various wars. There were two students in my class who had served our country - one was an older black man who is a Vietnam veteran, and the other was a black women I would estimate to be in her late 20's who has recently served in Iraq. They got into a discussion about whether soldiers can ever come back home and really fit into society again. The traumas and experiences of war undoubtably have an eternal impact on a person, and many are not sure how to integrate their experiences into their lives back home. The Vietnam veteran spoke very eloquently about serving his country. He said the greatest lesson he learned in war is that you must figure out what you are willing to die for, or else you don't know what you are living for. He said that his experience made him realize the importance of fighting for your country, and the beauty of living in a place like America. It made him appreciate so much more everything that he had, especially his family. He advocated all citizens having the honor to represent their country in military service. The woman who has served in Iraq had a very different outlook. She was hurt very much by what she saw in Iraq, and feels she is no longer able to normally function in society. Her experiences changed her, but to be resentful of the act of serving her country. At the end of the discussion, the two students agreed to sit down and talk about their experiences together outside of class. The Vietnam veteran very much wanted to help the woman ease her pain and resentment. I know very few people who have served in the Armed Forces, and rarely hear them speak about the perspective on how it changed them. I have very mixed feeling about military service and war in general, so it was really enlightening to hear two people in my class who had such different, but both very life-changing experiences.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Horribly Broken System

The shidduch system is horribly broken, and getting worse by the day. I am horrifed daily by stories of the inane questions people ask when "checking out" a potential date. How many of the siblings are married and who are they married to? What kind of shoes does a guy wear? What does the mother wear to the Shabbos table? I could list more but I can't bear to write them out. I was absolutely disgusted when I recently heard of someone who was afraid to divulge his volunteer affiliations. Why was he afraid? Because if someone found out that he was doing chesed, it might ruin the shidduch chances of his children, who are currently still in diapers. I guess the chesed organization he was helping out wasn't on the "approved list." There is so much focus on appearances and "playing the part" that it seems people have lost touch with what is important in a marriage - character. So much focus is placed on the family, education, clothing and financial status of a potential date that many seem to bypass the things that make a relationship work - such as personality, kindness, maturity and honesty. Families are encouraged to hide their true selves in order to save the shidduch chances of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. People live in fear of doing anything that could be considered divergent, and encourage complacency and the stifling of natural talent because it is better to fit in than be considered different, or an independent thinker. Individual opinions shouldn't be voiced, lest you come out against what is popular. Never stand out, because you might be considered a "black sheep" and then your brothers and sisters, much less yourself, might be single forever. The whole thing is so incredibly ridiculous. When I am confronted with a potential date, and I ask about the person's character, I often get a response like, "Well he wears a black hat and has a good job." What does that tell me about his character? I wish people would get back to focusing on WHO people are, rather than what they look like, what image they project, or what garb they wear. When you are looking only at externals, you are easily fooled, and when you are talking about someone who will potentially be a part of your life forever, the core, rather than the shell, is what is important. End The Madness is working towards spreading this message, and it is a great start, but more people need to open their eyes and change this horrible system that is not working.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Information Request

The Internet is wonderful that you can find a plethora of information from locations near and far, from those you have never and might never meet. In that vein, if anyone can pass along any helpful information about graduate school counseling programs in the New York/New Jersey area, please let me know! Have a wonderful Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Random, Random

The last day or so has left me not focused enough for a well-written, thoughtful blog post, so here are some random jottings from me. Ah, exams, aren't they fun? One down, two to go, hopefully I will make it through. Ironically, one of my classes this semester is about stress management, and it is causing me quite a bit of it.

By the way, not to be disloyal to my future husband, Edwin, but how did John Mayer get inside my head and life when he was writing his songs?

And he gets extra points for recording one of his CD's in Birmingham. Ok, a friend has been hounding me to share the search words that have directed surfers to my blog, so here are some of the more interesting ones: Tznius Maybe they should go to this website instead. How does a person relate to a rose?

Duh, give her roses, it will melt her heart every time. Sweet Sixteen Formality

My sixteenth birthday was a while ago, I don't think I remember all the formalities (and come to think of it, I never was much for formalities to begin with). Hashem help me find a shidduch When you find the website for that one, let me know! I want in. Here are a few you could try, in the meantime. Rose Sweet Female Power

Not quite sure what they were looking for there - a feminist site, maybe? Probably not going to find it here. Bais Yaakov Skirt

You think this is what they had in mind? Rye of Aish I know Aish.com and here is some rye:

Not quite sure how they go together though. Duritz Kosher I like this Duritz:

I think I have heard rumors that he is Jewish, but kosher I don't know about. And finally, with quite a few web surfers drawn my way: Rosh Shoshana Yes, I know many three year olds who confuse me with the holiday, because I am just as sweet as the honey they put on their challah. Apparently, the phenomenon has spread to the Internet as well.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Giving up My Independence

I was feeling down yesterday so I decided to do something good for myself and go for a walk (this shouldn't be confused with avoiding studying, it was a necessary break). When I walk, I think, a lot. I had a dream the night before about an ex-boyfriend of mine, so he was on my mind. It was a complicated relationship, and there were many reasons that it didn't work out. But as I reflected on it, I realized that one of the things that I think caused it to fail was a trait of mine that, at the time, I was so proud of. My independence. I had lived by myself for a couple of years at the time, and I had worked very hard to get myself on my own two feet. I was very proud of the fact that I never asked anyone for help, financially or otherwise. I did everything for myself and felt that I was responsible, mature and self-sufficient. I could do anything any time I wanted, and I felt very empowered by being on my own. I loved not having to answer to anyone, and my autonomy had become very important to me. Today, over three years later, I find myself in a very different place. While I was walking yesterday I was thinking about that ultra-independent me, and how I have changed since then, and why I have changed since then. I am still very independent, I struggle with asking for help from others, but something in me has definitely changed. I have realized over the past few months that I now long to have someone to help with the day to day things. I want someone to go grocery shopping when I don't have time. I want to cook for someone else, and make what someone else likes, rather than throwing together what I like all the time. I want someone to be there at the end of the day. I want to have to answer to someone. I want to give up some measure of my independence. This realization made me wonder what got me to this point, where being self-reliant is not as important as it used to be, where I really desire to share my life, the good and bad, with someone rather than simply having someone fit into my already formed life. I think this past year in school is what did it. This past year I have worked full time while attending school in the evenings. It is a long day, and I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of work that I have to do. I sometimes have to run to the grocery store at 7 am before work or I won't have anything to eat that day. I think having so many responsibilities, and having no choice rather than having to handle them all by myself, has made me realize how nice it would be to work together with someone. How nice it would be to ask someone else how their day was, rather than just pondering the things that I didn't finish today that must get done tomorrow. I know that my current schedule would make it really difficult to have a family now, and I do feel fortunate that I have been afforded this time to finish my degree while I am on my own and not neglecting a spouse or children. I think I expected school to give me more independence, rather I think it has made me realize the value of giving up your independence.