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Isn't it pretty?

Sunday, July 31, 2005


This morning I woke up with this song by Boyz II Men in my head: It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday How do I say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh Outweigh the bad. I thought we'd get to see forever But forever's gone away It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. I don't know where this road Is going to lead All I know is where we've been And what we've been through. If we get to see tomorrow I hope it's worth all the wait It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And I'll take with me the memories To be my sunshine after the rain It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And I'll take with me the memories To be my sunshine after the rain It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. My last Shabbos here in Baltimore was so nice. Friends surprised me with a shalosh seudah full of all of the people who love me, and I was touched that it was a full house. I ended up seeing a few of those who couldn't make it to the meal last night after Shabbos. I am not good at good-byes, because it is so hard to know what to say. I feel like I am leaving home, at least the home I have made for myself, and I will miss everyone dearly. As everyone keeps telling me, I can always come back, and I will, at least to visit. Here's to keeping my wonderful friends, and missing my home, and to making new friends and a new home in New Jersey!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dinner with a Co-Worker - Tales of a Time Gone

Last night a few of my co-workers took me out to dinner at one of the kosher restaurants in town. They were excited to have the opportunity to actually be able to eat with me for a change. The woman who arranged the evening is a 67-year-old women with a heart of gold; she truly is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. It is interesting, because reflecting back on my past positions, I realized that I often become close to co-workers who are older - I think I really appreciate the lessons that can be learned and the perspective that comes from someone with so much life experience. We had a nice evening with little talk of work. My co-workers enjoyed the kosher food, we had good company and interesting conversation. As the evening came to a close, my co-worker began telling stories about her experiences with both me and other Jewish friends throughout her life. The first story she told about me was a time when I was pretty new at my job. She had realized that I didn't eat the bakery items she brought in to work so I explained to her that I keep kosher and couldn't eat non-kosher food. She went out to the grocery store and bought a kosher cake mix and announced to me that she was going to make me a kosher cake. I had to gently explain to her that even though the cake mix was kosher, and all the ingredients she planned to put into the cake would be kosher, if she made it in her kitchen, I still would not be able to eat it. I think she was hurt a bit until I also told her that I couldn't eat anything anyone made unless it was in my kitchen. We remained friends, however, and after that she took care of me by bringing me the recipes for the baked goods she brought into work, so if I wanted to try them, I could make them myself. The other story she told I had never heard from her before, and I have heard a lot of her stories! This woman has spent her entire life in Baltimore, without a lot of affluence. She told me about a friend she had when she was in elementary/middle school This friend of hers was from Europe, had been through the Holocaust, in a DP camp, and had lost her father in the ordeal. They quickly became friends and used to hang out after school. During the summers, my co-worker, whose family never had a lot of money, could only afford to join her friends at the swimming pool once a week. She tried to include her new friend, who informed my co-worker that she wasn't allowed at the pool. Because she was Jewish. Being Jewish didn't make a bit of difference to my co-worker - they found a different pool to go swimming in. Wherever her friend could go was good enough for her. Through the years of friendship, my co-worker ate Passover meals at her friend's house and shared many moments with her. She has learned a lot about Judaism, and still asks a lot of questions. She told me she has always appreciated the fact that I allowed her to ask as many questions as she wanted, and that I didn't get annoyed. I am happy that I was able to make a good impression on my co-worker and have built such a nice relationship with her. From not being able to eat her food to her taking me out to a kosher restaurant, we have bridged a religious and age gap between the two of us - and we have found that it doesn't mean we can't be friends. I believe in giving and learning from any one I come across, and am richer from the experience of having so many diverse individuals in my life. Humanity should bring us all together.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Stress Relief?

Currently taking suggestions for cheap, quick and easy ways to relieve stress. Symptoms - insomnia, bruising, sore teeth, aching back, etc., etc. (Can these all be explained by stress?) I'd like to blame packing and strike against any further efforts on that front, but if I don't do it, no one else will. And then I won't have my things when I get to New Jersey, which would be a shame, because I kind of like some of my stuff. Also taking hugs where available. Moral support is always welcome. Only a few more days...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blast Off

Don't have much time to write, but can I just say how cool I think it is that we finally have lift off? When I was younger I used to dream of being an astronaut, of traveling through space to places far, far away. Of floating in non-gravity environments, and discovering new planets and solar systems. One of my favorite movies when I was young was "Space Camp" where a group of kids accidentally got launched into space. I used to dream that it would happen to me, but no such luck. Maybe one day, instead of visiting Detroit (my next adventure, by the way), I will be visiting Neptune.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Can Platonic Relationships Exist?

I have done a lot of thinking about platonic relationships. And I have had many discussions with friends about the virtues and vices of being in such relationships. Many of my friends come out strongly on the “you can’t do it” side of the fence. And several of them think it is manageable, depending on the circumstances. I am in the camp of believing that platonic relationships can exist between men and women. I highly value the relationships I have with men; there is some quality that is different in my relationships with males than there is with my relationships with females. I think what I have trouble with is defining exactly what a platonic relationship is; what separates my male friends from men who I want to date and would therefore not have the ability to be “just friends” with. And whether there is something that would keep me from being “just friends” with any male. I have been trying to determine whether this is more confusing because I am dating for marriage or whether it is easier because of it. I have male friends who I really like, and am attracted to, but I don’t think are compatible for marriage, so they are just friends. If I was not dating for the purpose of marriage, there is a strong possibility that I would be dating, or would have dated, those same men. So does that mean that our relationship is platonic? Or is it more? If I wasn’t dating for marriage, and I spent time with the ambiguities inherent in undefined male-female relationships, would things be different? Would it make platonic relationships more difficult? Because I know from the past that when a relationship is not defined from the beginning, a lot of time, emotional investment, physical intimacy and confusion can be spent without any results except heartache and pain at the end. Does the desire for a relationship to be platonic have to come from both sides, or is one of the participants in the relationship enough to put up the wall between platonic and more? Does it work when it is just one of the two who wants things to stay friendly rather than more intimate? And can one put aside their desire for more when rebuffed by the other member of the relationship? I think with open and honest communication between two people; being clear from the beginning, these things can be worked out and men and women can be friends. I don’t think these things always happen. And I am still not certain that the relationship is completely platonic, ever, just because of the nature of attraction between the sexes. Can men and women be friends? Harry and Sally said no. Does anyone say yes?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Covering Hair

I have huge issues with the idea of covering my hair after I marry. I sometimes think it is part of the reason that I am not yet married, because I know I am going to have such a hard time with it. I have studied the rules surrounding it, and there doesn't really seem to be a way out of it, while still abiding by halacha. I have had numerous debates with different people, male and female, about the reasoning surrounding hair covering. I have heard the claim that hair really is extremely attractive to men, and that the covering truly distinguishes between someone who is married and someone who isn't. I have argued that if hair is so attractive and alluring, then single women should have to cover their hair as a matter of tznius. In fact, Muslim law required hair covering for all women above the age of puberty - so why doesn't Judaism? I was talking to a friend the other day and the subject came up again, and she said something that absolutely stopped me and made me realize the logic. She said that the reason that I have such issues with covering my hair is the same reason that I need to cover it when I get married. I thought about that statement for a minute. I have nice hair, and I really like it. I know it makes me more attractive, and that is the reason that I take care of it and fix it and buy all kinds of cute things to put in it. I know that when I feel flirty I toss my hair around or twist it around a finger. All of these things make me feel attractive and feminine and, honestly, a bit alluring. Recently, a guy told me he liked my hair, and I definitely basked a bit in the compliment. And that is exactly why, when I am married, I should cover my hair. Because when I am married, I don't need to be alluring to other men, it will be about my husband. Such a simple statement really put things into perspective for me. It doesn't mean that I will find it easy to cover my hair; I still fully expect to despise it. But now I feel like I will understand better why I am doing it, and I will accept the fact that I need to. I guess it just takes a little perspective and a sharp way of stating it to make it sink in.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Wow - so much going on. Yesterday was an absolutely exhausting day. My interview went well, though it was inconclusive. But I think I impressed them when I finished the computer test they gave me 25 minutes to finish in five minutes. And it was right. I was overwhelmed by the day and the city. There is so much going on in New York, and I have a hard time processing it all at once. Tons of people walking, a million cars, trucks and buses driving, lights flashing and noises blaring all at once. This Alabama girl is not used to it. There were some highlights of my trip, though. I was on the subway and a man stood up in the middle of the ride and began belting out the song "Lean on Me." A few people gave him money afterwards, but I thought it was really cool that this man felt comfortable getting up on a subway and singing. I wish I had the guts to do that (okay, maybe not). I met a friend for lunch and then after my interview to shop and hang out. We went to a kosher restaurant that just happened to be conviently located near where I needed to be, and it was good. I managed to get where I needed to go on the subway without getting lost (at least not too lost), and back to my friend after my interview. After we did a bit of shopping, my friend and I decided to relax. We sat down in Herald Square, a little patch of stillness in the middle of all of the cars and buses zooming by. We grabbed a table, a couple of chairs, and some drinks and sat for almost two hours, catching up. We skipped from topic to topic, but managed to dig deep and try to figure out where we are and where we want to be. Relationships are always a big topic of conversation, and we explored our differences and similarities on the subject. We talked the mundane and the deep. It was so good to take time out and just sit and talk to her in the middle of such a bustling city. She took me back to where my bus was picking me up and I left the Big Apple tired, but with the memory of a good day with a friend and the feeling that I will have someone to hang out with when I am up there. Today I am tired and stressed about my move, but trying to focus on the good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Good Thoughts Requested

I have lots of stuff to write about, which I hope to get around to sometime, but for the next few weeks, posting is probably going to be a bit light as I get ready to move! So much to do! Anyway, I have a job interview tomorrow, which would be the last big piece in the puzzle of my move (already have a place to live and a school, now I need to be able to pay for it). Wish me luck, say a prayer for me, and send good vibes my way! Thanks!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Old Friends

Really quick post, because that's all I have time for at the moment... I got a call this weekend from a friend who I have known for a really long time, one of my oldest and dearest. I didn't get the chance to talk to him, had to suffice by hearing his message on my voice mail, but just hearing his voice brought back so many memories and made me so happy and nostalgic. Old friends are so special. Make sure to hold onto them.

Friday, July 15, 2005

WOTD: Discombobulated

It has been a week. No adjective attached, because I am not sure which one would fit. I have so much running through my mind on so many levels that I can't even begin to sort things out. Therefore, my word of the day: Discombobulated. Things are moving along for my move. I have secured one of the major things needed for my new apartment, the rest will probably wait until I am there. I have a job interview scheduled for next week - wish me luck! It would great to have a job before I even get there. My reflection for the week is that it really amazes me how much a few words, a lack of words, or an inflection in voice can make a difference. In seconds, the response I receive from someone (or lack of response) changes the mood of conversation immediately and immensely. There is so much to pick up in what people say or don't say. And I have been told numerous times that others can't pick up on my inflections in many cases. Interesting. A friend was telling me about a random and slightly bizarre incident that happened to her the other day. She was saying how she always seems to be the target for such random and strange occurrences. Makes life interesting, that is sure. I thought about it and said that I seem to be the target for random relationships. I manage to meet people in very unusual fashions - and collect friends here and there. When someone asks me how I know a particular individual in my life, there is usually some kind of interesting story to go along with it. I really like this fact about me, though. Because instead of all my friends being part of one insular group, I know all kinds of interesting people who I can learn so many different kinds of things from. When I am tired of being in one setting, I can call up a friend who I know from a different part of my life and step into a new zone. If variety is the spice of life, then my friends make up a whole spice rack. Okay, bad analogy means the end of this post. Have a great Shabbos!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Surprise, Surprise

I keep getting surprised by people. I think I have people figured out, and then they go and do something that I am totally not expecting. Which makes me even more confident in my suspicions that you shouldn't take people for granted, that you can't assume you completely understand what drives or motivates anyone, that you can never underestimate those around you. In the recent past, I have been surprised during two completely unrelated events. The first was someone who I thought of as rather cold and collected, not usually showing much emotion or sensitivity. A person ruled by logic, which I am becoming more and more opposed to by the day (but that's the topic for a completely different post). But I was surprised by the thoughtfulness, consideration and gentleness that was displayed towards me when the situation warranted it. I guess you never know who you can turn to when some support and care is needed - it can come from the most unlikely of people. The second occasion was one in which I was challenged - to think. Something that I am usually fairly good about on my own. And the challenge came from someone I wasn't expecting to receive it from. I didn't have incredible interaction with this individual beforehand, but from what I knew, I wasn't expecting such a challenge to my thinking. And I wasn't expecting anyone to ask such pointed questions of me that really drove to the heart of the matter without much time for the comfort of getting to know me first. I am always fascinated by surprising twists and turns, especially when they come from people. Because I argue many times that you can't wrap a person into a box and feel like you have them understood. People are complex, and they do unexpected things, a lot. And I love that about life.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What's in a Name?

New York's Funniest Rabbi, Rabbi Neil Fleischmann, posted a series about having the unusual name, Natah. In response to a comment I made on the subject of names, he posted this beautiful poem, which I think really sums up how I feel about my name. So I thought I would expound upon that thought. Even though my family is not "Torah Observant," Judaism was always a major factor in our lives, at the least culturally, if not religiously. My parents made this particularly clear by giving me a very Jewish/Hebrew name, Shoshana Yael, with no English equivalent to go along with it. Growing up in small Jewish communities, usually only one of a very few Jews in my school, the name Shoshana was really unusual and often garnered many "interesting" comments and lots of mispronunciations. I was asked over and over if Shoshana was an Indian name (based, I believe, on the Shoshone Indian tribe). I was often told that when people heard my name, they looked around for a black girl. People often mispronounced and misspelled my name, and often they just didn't care to correct themselves. To this day, I am extremely careful when it comes to spellings of people's name, because I know how much it bothered me when people didn't even try to get my name right. Until I took my first trip to Israel, I thought Shoshana was so weird, and I often contemplated legally changing my name. From the time I was about five, I would tell my parents the names I wanted to change mine to, and their response was always, "When you are old enough, you can if you want to." Then I went to Israel. Lots of people there are named Shoshana, I quickly discovered. I found a shop in the Old City of Jerusalem with my name on it. Families we visited had children with my name. All of a sudden I fit in, which was something I hadn't ever been able to do before, at least not on the basis of my name. All of a sudden, I had people asking me whether I had always gone by my Hebrew name. I didn't know how to answer; I wasn't aware that people had separate Hebrew and English names. I had questions about whether my parents were Israeli; I replied that no, they weren't, they just liked the name Shoshana. After that trip to Israel, I started becoming more observant, taking on more mitzvos and wanting to be part of an Orthodox Jewish community. And with the name Shoshana, it just seemed natural, like I was fulfilling my name. I have been told that parents have a tiny bit of prophecy when they name their children; that the name a child is given will reflect some of the essence of that person. As I have gotten older, and really embraced my Jewish identity, I feel that my name really does reflect who I am. I am proud of having a beautiful Hebrew name, and I am happy that I have such an opportunity to reflect who I am to others. I no longer see my name as being strange and needing to be changed; I see it as part and parcel of who I am.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Random, Random

Just some random thoughts for today, because I don't have enough to fill a whole post on one topic (and because I like being random, it's the way my brain works): - It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring...Why does the rain make us so tired and the sun makes us feel so happy and good? Is it the seritonin that is released by sunshine (I think it's seritonin)? Are we nothing but chemicals? The truth is, I am not unhappy with the rain, but I am a bit more tired than I should be considering I actually got sleep last night. - I have three weeks before I move! I don't even have an address to forward my mail to yet. I have not packed a single thing, and I have lots and lots of junk to throw away. On one hand, it makes me panic, and on the other hand, I just keep telling myself not think about it and procrastinate. Oy! Anyone want to start a list for me of all the things I need to do? (I am not at all talented in the list department, but I know a couple people who really like to make them.) - I am terrified I am going to find a job where I have to actually act and look professional. I am very good at what I do, but I manage to do it wearing denim, no shoes and purple finger nail polish. And miraculously, my boss doesn't seem to mind. I can't imagine that I will be so lucky in the future (but I am enjoying it tremendously at the moment). - People continue to surprise me. When I think I have them pretty much figured out, and pretty much know how they are going to act in specific situations, they turn around and shock me. Even when it is something that I thought was contrary to their very nature. Maybe I am just bad at figuring people out? Or maybe you can't completely figure anyone out. I know I don't want to think of myself as easy to comprehend, maybe I shouldn't assume that others are also. - I have decided that this summer is about having fun before I start school again, because I have not had enough fun in the past two years, and I finally have a summer to enjoy. Any suggestions? Have a wonderful Shabbos to all my Jewish readers and a great weekend to everyone else!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pizza, Beer and a Shower

It's amazing how we take things for granted... I have a friend who quit her job and postponed her wedding in order to have the experience of a lifetime. She has been hiking the Appalachian Trail for the past three months, with the intention of continuing for another three or four. She started out in Northern Georgia and will hike her way to Maine - that's over 2,000 miles she will travel while carrying everything she needs on her back. She reached Virginia this past week and took a break from the trail for the holiday weekend. I was lucky to be able to meet up with her on Monday in Annapolis where friends of hers were having a barbecue for the 4th. She told me tales, showed me pictures and gave me a HUGE hug, which was the best part. Her perspective on life has totally changed due to this experience. In many ways, it is similar to my trip to Israel - it is giving her a new way of looking at the world, and it is enhancing her life in so many ways. She no longer takes things like indoor plumbing for granted. A clean latrine is the most she can hope for on a good day on the trail. Her best nights are spent in hostels where there is anything resembling a mattress for her to sleep on. She traded in a 6-pound backpack for a 2-pound one and swears that the 4 pounds makes an incredible difference when you are carrying all your possessions on your back. It was interesting watching her cringe at store-bought blueberries. They tasted like pesticide to her, not like the fresh, wild-grown ones she sees in the mountains. She showed me beautiful, gorgeous photos of the trails she has been hiking; some of the most incredible scenery you could hope to have a picture of, and to her, that is the typical, everyday sight that accompanies her on her way. What I thought was so striking was her appreciation of the little things. As she was going through pictures, she came to a photo of a little shelter she stayed at one night. She reminisced about that evening. She told me how it had the cleanest latrine on the trail, and even a shower. She told us how they met a guy there who brought beer and a pizza. She said it was heaven. When you've been hiking that long, what more can you ask for? Pizza, beer and a shower. Doesn't take much to make a person happy when they are used to not having such luxuries. I think we should all realize how much we have and what we take for granted, because it is the small things in life that make such a difference. I don't think I will ever look at my shower in the same way again. (Okay, maybe I will, but I am going to try not to.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Kayaking on the Delaware

What a weekend! Recently, it was determined that due to the previous two years of my working full-time while being in school, I did not have enough fun. This summer is about changing that, and this past weekend, I did just that. Shabbos was beautiful. Friday night I went to a friend's house and had a delightful meal. I attended sheva brachos on Shabbos day. And Shabbos afternoon I even got the opportunity to feel like a mitzvah girl by introducing a couple people who were looking for friends to each other. After Shabbos I headed up to New Jersey to meet friends, and on Sunday we went kayaking down the Delaware! We started out early, and traveled up to Pennsylvania. It was the most beautiful day, not too hot or humid, a slight breeze, beautiful blue sky. We prepared well - brought lots of snacks, sunscreen and great company. Six of us went on the trip, and we enjoyed each other's company tremendously. I had never been kayaking before, and this was a daunting journey - eight miles of river ahead of us. We were two to a kayak; my partner and I were a great team. We paddled hard, laughed a lot, and took some time to enjoy the beautiful scenery around us. We lazily drifted down the river, splashing our friends, having interesting conversation and making new buddies with other people who were traveling the river also. By the end of the eight miles, we felt like our arms were going to fall off, but we did it. We made it down the stretch, and felt so incredibly accomplished when we banked our kayaks. We knew we were going to be sore the next day, but who cares! It was so much fun, and we grabbed it and enjoyed it. After we were done kayaking, another friend came to meet us and we sat near the water and made a barbecue. We sat and talked and ate and laughed before heading home. One of the women made a great comment. She said that these are the kinds of days that, when we are old women in nursing homes, we will tell the stories of over and over to our fellow residents until they get sick of hearing about it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Watching the Geese

I needed to commune with nature and have some relaxing time the other day, so I drove up to Pennsylvania to this little fishing spot that I found by accident. I have been having fun with my digital camera, and thought that I would share some of the beautiful pictures from that spot. (Don't worry, the geese signed releases to have their pictures published on the Internet for all to see.)

I've decided that I want to be a goose, and be able to swim across the water so gracefully, with my head held high on top of a long, elegant neck. Maybe the inventor of the force field and the working crystal ball will put goose-transformer on her list of things to invent next. Have a wonderful Shabbos and holiday weekend!