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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Going through Withdrawal

I have a confession to make: I am a sick person.

I have an addiction. Something that I have a lot of trouble living without. When it is in my life, I am overwhelmed by it, and want it to be gone. But the minute it is over, I am listless and bored and don't know what to do with myself.

I am addicted to school.

Most people are overjoyed at the prospect of having some time off, being free to do whatever they want, not having pressure and deadlines looming over their heads. The truth is, I enjoy that also. I don't like being stressed out, I hate the feeling of a paper due the next week that I haven't even started researching on a topic that is of no interest to me whatsoever. You would think working full time would be enough to fill my days. And my nights? I can do whatever I want - go to the gym, cook, clean, hang out with my friends, watch a movie. But I find myself missing the intellectual stimulation of the class discussions, the connection with other students who are studying the same things I am. The insights, the new knowledge. The motivation of learning information that I haven't yet been exposed to.

I walk around in the evenings, not knowing what to do with myself. I get home, even after going to the gym, by 5:30. The assignment-less hours stretch ahead of me, taunting me that there is nothing that HAS to be done before tomorrow. It is so easy to put things off, because there are no deadlines. I know I have a problem, and I am taking the first step of admitting it. I am just not sure what the next step is - anyone in a 12-step program who can help me out here?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Good Quotes

From Rabbi Lazer Brody, via Frum.org:

Strength is "getting cursed and spit on by someone whom you could maim with one jab if you wanted to, but opt for a smile, wish the slanderer well, and present your preservation of the peace as a gift to God."

"In a battle, when you're pinned down under intense fire, you call for an air strike as quickly and accurately as you can. You don't specify whether you want a black or a white, a religious or a secular pilot; anybody that comes to your aid is your brother. Why does civilian life have to be different?"

The longest distance in the world is "the distance between the human brain and the human heart. We can circle the world before our heart internalizes what our brain knows."

Intellectual Integrity - "Once you do your utmost to search for truth, and then you form opinions, your thought process displays intellectual integrity. The opposite - fabricating truth according to your preconceived opinions - displays intellectual corruption. A very fine line separates between intellectual corruption and outright thievery and murder." "Prejudices and preconceptions predominate in an atmosphere of cowardice and lack of truth."

"Trying to realize your potential without first having attained inner peace is like trying to thread a needle while riding on the back of a bucking bronco." And my favorite: "The human soul is that tiny spark of Godliness within each one of us. Loving one's fellow man - irregardless of race, creed, or color - is therefore synonymous to loving God."

Monday, December 27, 2004

Behind the Scenes

So much goes on behind the scenes that I sometimes wonder if you ever get a full picture of any person. I spent the day yesterday speaking to several friends, all of whom I realized have a lot going on beneath the surface that many would never know about. Some people are going through really hard times, and dealing with extremely difficult situations on a daily basis. Most people, even those closest to them, would never know. I sometimes find that someone close to me is going through incredibly similar situations to those I am struggling with. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my pain. I don't want others to go through the hard things I have to deal with, but it helps to know I am not the only one. And I think it helps them to know it also. Other people do such tremendous chesed without taking credit for it. They devote their lives, and their time, to supporting others. And they often do it anonymously, or behind the scenes, so as to protect the dignity of those they help. They often never receive a thanks, but they do it anyway, because they truly care about those around them. They are truly caring, devoted individuals and even if they don't see it, they do make a difference to others. I feel extremely fortunate to be privy to some of what goes on behind the scenes in these peoples' lives, whether it is good or bad, whether it is something that I can hopefully help with, or just admire from a distance. I hope my knowledge of these few people will help me keep in mind that when dealing with others, you never know what is going on behind the scenes.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Special People

Okay, sorry about the last post, I was having a down day and not hiding it well. I had a very nice Shabbos, a good friend of mine was in town so we got to catch up, had a nice girls' night out last night with friends. So I am a bit more calm now. I have neighbors who are so incredibly selfless and loving, warm and giving. They have really made me feel at home since the first time I met them. Whenever I spend time with them, I really feel their love and care. They have made me feel so welcome, and I don't know if I will ever be able to express to them what it means to me. They have really made a difference in my life in the past year. I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Being Single Sucks

I was going to write a pretty post about the episode of My So-Called Life I just watched and how words hurt more than guns, and how hearts are broken so easliy. But I don't feel like it. I try to keep negativity off my blog, or if I find it necessary, to make it constructive. But today, I just don't feel like it. What I do feel like is whining. Just once. About how I am sick of being single. Of not having that one special someone who cares more and who I care about more than anything. Who I can come home to every day. And love, and adore, and take care of. Someone who understands who I am, and loves me for it. Who is not afraid to commit the rest of his life to me, and me to him. Someone who I can't imagine life without. I told a friend last night that I was lonely, and he responded that he didn't understand when I had time to be lonely. I go to work early, go to school, come home late and go to bed. When do I have time to be lonely? It is not a thing that needs time to feel. Even in my busiest moments, I still have time to know that I don't have someone who will be there forever. Maybe I sound like I am over-romanticizing it. It is possible I am. I don't expect marriage to be always a rose garden, with no obstacles and no hard times and down days. But having someone to work through those tough times with makes a huge difference. To have someone to love makes a huge difference. I am not unhappy, I really have a good life. But I am tired of being single, of being alone. And I just want to know when it will end. I know there are many others out there who feel the same, and can commiserate. I don't think dwelling in the depression or bashing all the members of the opposite sex helps anything. I think being supportive and encouraging each other that the end is in sight does. So anyone who has positive words of encouragement for me, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Sorry for the depressing whine. But once in a great while it just needs an out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What a Tangled Web...

Lots of mixed up thoughts going on in my head at the moment - about marriage, relationships, the interactions between men and women, sex (or the lack thereof). They are all tied in together, I am not sure where one begins and another ends. There are so many different types of people, and therefore, relationships out there. One kind just doesn't fit all. And one strategy towards relationships doesn't fit all. It was pointed out to me yesterday that the kinds of relationships I have are not what others have, never will be. It amazes me how entangled people get without even realizing it. So quickly, with so few words, only a few interactions, and one is imprinted on another's life. What little it takes for a man to have a woman wound, and how quickly he can manage to cut that tie. Is it the same for men? I don't think so, but I am not sure why. I know I am being incredibly vague, but that is where my thoughts are right now - caught up in the emotional, spinning, confusing, hurting. When I untangle my thoughts, hopefully there will be a clearer post.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Nostalgic Refrigerators

While perusing my site hits, I noticed that someone recently came across my blog by searching for "nostalgic refrigerators." I thought that was pretty apropos considering that I was just explaining to someone this past weekend that my refrigerator is my favorite thing in my apartment. I was sitting at a table with a few people and a friend of mine was trying to stress to me the importance of making and using lists (I don't believe in them). I told him that whenever I make a list I lose it anyway, so what's the point? He told me that I should clear off my refrigerator so that I would have a nice clean place to always put my list so I won't lose it. Besides the fact that if I put my list on the refrigerator I would leave it there when I needed it, I told him that I couldn't clear off my fridge - the things on it are way too important to me. Another person at the table asked me what could possibly be so important on my refrigerator. I explained to her that my fridge is covered with pictures of friends, friends' children and family. I have posted thank you notes that really touched me. I have magnets that have been given to me as gifts. I have things that remind me of inside jokes with friends of mine. My fridge is not about food - it is about the people in my life. I am not a big saver, I throw away a lot of things, don't put pictures in albums and don't usually hold on to souvenirs because I have great memories and the little mementos can't live up to the scenes in my head. But my refrigerator is about love, and the people I love, and no list in the world is worth clearing that away.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Almost Done!

Final exams start tonight - I have a one-two-three lineup for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (by the last one, I will be out!), plus a project due along with my exam on Wednesday. After that, it is up, up and away from Baltimore for the weekend, to see beautiful sights and lights galore. Expect light to no blogging until next week, but stay tuned, because I will be back soon. Have a great week!

Friday, December 10, 2004

I Hate Conclusions

I enjoy writing, and I like to think I am decent at it. There are two parts that are difficult to me - the starting and the finishing. And of the two, the finishing is absolutely the hardest part. How do you sum everything up in a pithy little sentence or paragraph? How do you bring a new spin to whatever you have been rambling on about for the past ten or so pages? Whenever I am trying to conclude a paper, a letter or even a blog post, I always feel a bit inept and awkward. Maybe that is what you learn when you take writing classes and become a professional writer. Maybe they teach you the secret tricks of wrapping up an article, a book or an epistle. Or maybe good writers are just born with an innate ability to conclude. (Or maybe they have to work hard at it also.) All I know is, I work and work on a paper, and I have no idea how to bring it to an end. I always feel that something is left hanging out there (I feel like there is a movie reference here, but I am not putting my finger on it at the moment). While I am capable of writing for pages and pages, that one final page is always elusive and ridiculously hesitant to be grasped by my mind and fingers. Can you tell I am currently procrastinating and struggling with the conclusion of a paper that is due imminently?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

It's Not Friday Yet

This morning when my alarm went off, I got all excited.

"Yay! It's finally Friday," I thought, "I can make it through half a day more of work." (I get off early some Fridays.) After a few minutes of this motivation that didn't quite manage to get me out of bed, I realized with a sense of depression that it is not yet Friday, but only Thursday. What a disappointment.

It caused me to stay in bed for another few minutes, until I remembered that if I didn't get up right then, I would not make it to work on time, and then I would have to stay at work late, which is even worse than it being only Thursday. Okay, so Thursday isn't so bad. It is past hump day (which this week was wonderful anyway, thanks to all the sweet birthday wishes from all my friends and family). I don't have school on Thursdays, so I actually get to go home at a decent hour or even run some errands. I actually am not ready for it to be Friday yet, because I still have a paper to finish before Friday comes, and I was really depending on having my Thursday to work on it (I know, I am a procrastinator). But it is such a good feeling to turn off my alarm on Friday morning and know that I won't have to turn it back on for a couple of days. It is so nice to know that for the next few mornings, I will wake up after the sun. So this Thursday, I am mourning the fact that it is not yet Friday.

But you know what is so great about being disappointed that today is not Friday? Tomorrow, when it actually is Friday, I will appreciate it even more than I normally do.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

One year older...

27 years ago today (which is Immaculate Conception Day, NOT Pearl Harbor Day - sorry, inside joke), I graced the world with my presence for the first time. My parents say I immediately began asking questions, and haven't stopped since. In the past 27 years, I have grown taller, hopefully wiser and I like to think, much more giving (though most of us are pretty selfish for our first few years). This time of year always makes me reflect back on the previous twelve months to see what I have gained in that time, whether I made the most of my 365 (or this year 366) days. The past year has brought new people into my life, a lot of new knowledge, lots of blog posts, and a few tears along the way. I hope that I have made a difference in a few people's lives, or at least made a day or two better for someone. I feel good about the past year, and the year to come. I have an eye on goals, and I am actively working towards accomplishing them. Here's to a great year ahead!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Happy Chanukah

As we light the first candles of Chanukah tonight, I want to wish everyone a very happy and beautiful Chanukah. To learn more about the story and traditions behind the holiday, check out Aish.com.

Enjoy the candles, dreidels and lots of latkes!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Making Chanukah Cookies

When I was growing up, one of our few family activities each year was making Chanukah cookies. Being the only Jew among my friends, we would make hundreds of cookies and package them up to give to everyone we knew. It was a beautiful tradition, one I looked forward to each year. We would cut out dreidles and menorahs, stars and Torahs. We would then carefully frost them in a rainbow of colors, then top them with lots of sprinkles. It was an activity that everyone in the family could take part in, from the time each of us was pretty young. Forget sufganiot (doughnuts) or latkes (potato pancakes) - for me, Chanukah was about those colorful cookies and the time we spent as a family making them. I haven't lived near enough to home to participate in the annual cookie baking for quite a few years now, and I have missed it quite a bit each year when my mom reported how she and my brothers (though fewer of them each year it seems) hauled out the old rolling pin and stirred up the frosting once again. A couple of weeks ago, I was at my neighbor's house when she showed me some Chanukah cookies that she and her adorable three-year-old had made. She had used the same cookie-cutters we used growing up, and decorated the cookies with sprinkles that brought the memories flowing quickly back. I told her how I had made the same cookies when I was growing up and she promptly told me that we would make them again before Chanukah started. So last night, I went over and had a nostalgic evening. This time, I was the adult, mixing the dough (and getting flour all over everything), rolling out the dough for my neighbor's three-year-old (hands down the cutest three-year-old I know), and supervising the cutting out of dreidles and menorahs, stars and Torahs, topped off with the dumping of more sprinkles than you can imagine atop those yummy in our tummy Chanukah cookies. It brought the memories flowing back. It wasn't the same, but it was so special. Happy Chanukah everyone!

Friday, December 03, 2004

My So-Called Life Nostalgia

Ten years ago, my senior year of high school, ABC aired the show "My So-Called Life." It ran for exactly one season, enough to time to get me completely addicted and then abandon me without tying up so many loose ends that I have, since that year, continued to wonder about.

My So-Called Life revolved around Angela, who takes life and her lack thereof extremely seriously and utters the pithy phrases that, at that time of my life, seemed to wrap everything up so well - "School is a battlefield, for your heart." The show included Angela's friends, the irresponsible, trouble-making Rayanne and sweet, bisexual Ricky,

Angela's lust-interest, the incredibly leaning and not-so-deep Jordan Catalano,

(who wouldn't have a huge crush on him?) and Angela's nerdy, super-smart neighbor, Brian Krakow, among others.

What I loved about this show is that it was so real - episodes were not wrapped up in an hour, people's feelings got hurt, the characters were grappling with real dilemnas, and I could so relate. Recently, my father, who has a satellite dish with channels I have never heard of, discovered that My So-Called Life was being aired each night at 3 AM and began recording the whole season onto DVD for me. I was watching one of the angst-ridden episodes last night and it carried me back to high school with a vengeance. The episode revolved around a dance and the various confusion of trying to find someone to go with. Angela wants to go with Jordan, who hasn't even heard about the dance. Ricky wants to go with Cory, an artsy guy who likes Rayanne. Brian asks Delia, but then Angela (who he is hopelessly in love with) asks him for a ride, and he takes it to mean a lot more and so he dumps Delia for greener pastures. There was a scene where Brian tells Delia that he wants to go to the dance with Angela. Delia ends up crying in front of Brian. The emotions of the scene grip you with so much force that there is no way you don't remember the first time you had an unrequited crush. I was instantly transported back to high school, for better or worse. They don't make many shows like My So-Called Life - real, gritty and so powerful. We probably couldn't handle it if they did. Maybe that was why the show only lasted one season - not so many people want to remember what that age is like, cause it wasn't easy. But I am glad they did make it, and I am loving watching it again, and reliving that time of my life. Though I have to admit that I am glad I am beyond that age and angst, because while it is incredible to watch, it wasn't that much fun to live.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Can We Look Beyond the Mirror?

Many people, myself especially, talk a lot about how the external should not matter, that what is inside is what really counts. Then why is it that I know so many people, women especially, who are extremely intelligent, accomplished, caring, independent, and otherwise incredible, who do not feel worthy because they feel they are not "beautiful"? I am absolutely not exempt from this - I have a lot of self-esteem about the fact that I work hard, I do well in school and can keep up with most people I know mentally, I am a person who truly cares about others. But when it comes to the way I look, I don't know if I will ever feel that I am good enough. And I hear this over and over from so many people, and like I said, especially from women.

I don't judge others for how they look, so why do I judge myself so harshly? Why do I think other people care more about my size and outward appearance than what is inside? I should love myself for who I am, not what I look like, but sometimes I have to admit that I find it difficult.

It saddens me when I hear people talk about wanting to lose weight - not to be healthy, but to be thin, no matter what cost. I heard of some acquaintances yesterday who are on the following diet - coffee, cigarettes, a Power Bar and a "lite" dinner. What is the point of that? To be so thin that you pass out the minute you stand up? That doesn't seem like it could possibly be especially attractive. We compartmentalize our value into different aspects of ourselves. Why do we let our self-esteem, high and stable in other respects, falter when we look in the mirror?