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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend in Baltimore

I had such a full, fun, wonderful weekend in Baltimore. It was a weekend filled with lots of old friends who are like family. It was so comfortable and happy and like old times. If only, like the song, I could "turn back time," but I know it's not quite that easy. But a weekend like this past one once in a while definitely is a nice way to infuse myself with happiness for a while. Friday night started out with a bang. Between kiddush and hamotzi, one of the guests at the meal had her water break! The next hour was a scramble of calling a cab, feeding the couple before they went to the hospital, getting some supplies together, having the cab not show up, taking their 2-year-old to his uncle's house, and everyone freaking out. Word came after Shabbos that all in the now slightly-bigger family are doing fine, and there were even pictures of the one who almost joined us on Onlysimchas this morning. Shabbos day I ate by my adopted family in Baltimore, whose daughter recently got engaged, and whose vort was the reason for my trip. The chosson was at the meal also so I finally got to meet him. He was friendly, funny and I can definitely see how the two of them hit it off. It was a nice "family" meal, like old times. After the meal, I walked over to where a friend of mine was staying and we sat and chatted and then went over to where we were eating our third meal. We used to spend virtually every Shabbos afternoon and havdalah at this apartment, and it was so nice to have a reunion. We ate, laughed, hugged and tickled the kids and just enjoyed ourselves. It was hard to leave once Shabbos was over. Sunday morning was a learning program which I really enjoyed. The speaker talked about placing the correct importance on spirituality even within the physical realm. Not only did I enjoy the shiur, but I also got to see quite a few friends there, it was really al lovely morning. I spent the afternoon visiting one friend after the other. It's so nice to catch up. I even got to visit my cat who was finally happy to see me and even allowed himself to purr for me. The weekend ended with the vort, which was beautiful and happy and I got to give lots of hugs to the kallah. All in all, a wonderful, beautiful weekend. It should keep me going until my next trip. I just have to add, as I am sitting here, still happy from my weekend, that I love my friends so much - they know me, they see me and they accept me for who I am. They really make my life so special. I am truly fortunate.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Random Stuff

Haven't done a post like this in a while, but I have lots of little things to say, and not enough focus to write a whole coherent post. I am really stressed about the next few weeks of school, I have several huge things due, and I am hoping I manage to get them all done. I am drastically reducing my sleep and leisure time in order to work on it all. Anyway, here goes my random thoughts: - E-kvetcher from Search for Emes tagged me with the Megillah Meme. Since Purim was a week ago and I am currently running on present-time only, I can't do a play-by-play of my thoughts during megillah anymore, but I will say that I always have the feeling that the megillah is a little too long, I am always fascinated at the end that it says that most (not all) of the people liked Mordechai, and the guy reading for us in the morning used different voices to play the different parts, so that was fun. Sorry for the poor fulfillment of that meme. I won't tag anyone, because I am so far behind in the game. - I really love my great-aunt. She was in town (well, she was in Brooklyn, but that's closer than normal) this past weekend and I got the chance to sit and talk to her for quite a while. She is one of the most caring, kind people I know. She thinks outside the box and is really an inspiration to me. She's always taken some extra time with me to have a good relationship, and it means a lot. I wish she lived closer, but it was so nice to have some one-on-one time with her. - It's nice to get excited and happy about little things. Yesterday at work, one of our technicians was pruning a plant that sits behind me and he gave me some of the clipped parts so I can grow it into a plant of my own. I am really excited about it. I hope I don't manage to kill it like I have most of the other plants in my past. - I have been feeling a bit frustrated lately because I feel like people don't "get" me. They don't understand my need to gain enjoyment from little things, to be a kid at heart, to not take life so seriously at times. But then I was reminded of my close who really do get me, and it made me feel a bit better. And I was talking to a friend on Shabbos and she made a comment that I thought was so funny and accurate it just made me like her so much more. - Viktor Frankl is my new hero. I finished reading "Man's Search for Meaning" and I was absolutely blown away by his character and perspective on the events of his life. Additionally, the fact that he took such an incredibly horrendous experience and generated so much good in helping others from the lessons of his experiences is absolutely remarkable. I have a feeling that the book is going to be one that I will read over and over, especially in light of the helping I want to do for others. It was incredibly insightful and inspiring to read. - I am headed to Baltimore for the weekend and I am really excited. A number of my friends are converging upon the city for a impromptu reunion. I can't wait! Have a great day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Man's Search for Meaning

I've been reading Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl is a Holocaust survivor who used his experiences during that time to develop the existential approach to psychotherapy. The book is about his experiences and his psychological observations of himself and his fellow concentration camp prisoners. I've just started the book, but I was so blown away by what I read last night that I had to post about it. He describes their harrowing routine of being literally worked to death while being fed tiny scraps of sustenance completely inadequate to sustain life. Frankl chronicles an incident where one of his fellow inmates mentions their wives. Frankl is tranported by this mention. At the thought of his wife's face, her voice, and his incredible love for her, he drifts away into a fantasy land where he is carrying on a conversation with her. While continuing the arduous work before him, he is suddenly lifted from the drudgery. Frankl writes: I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way - an honorable way - in such a position a man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carried of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. I can't imagine that every marriage and every love is as strong as Frankl's, but it certainly gives something to aspire to. A love that can transcend the most horrible torture, and raise one above it. I know I haven't yet experienced such a deep love, but I want to.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Chag Purim Somayach!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Chag Purim Somayach! There's supposed to be a pretty picture here depicting Purim, but Blogger isn't being nice at the moment (rumor is that he has to work tomorrow). Anyway, if you have nothing better to do during the chag, check out the Purim Parodies over at the Muqata - they are great! Enjoy everyone!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Your Value is Always Yours

I spent Shabbos in Monsey with a friend's sister and her family. On their fridge, they had posted the following story: A man began a lecture by holding up a $20 bill. He asked for people in the audience to raise their hands if they would like to receive it. Hands shot up in all directions. He then crumpled the $20 bill up in his fist. He asked the audience once again who would like it. Hand still shot up from all over. He then took the $20 bill, dropped it on the floor, and stomped on it, grinding it under his shoe. He once again asked those in the audience who would like it. Still, hands went up amongst those in attendance The speaker then said to the audience that the reason that they still wanted the $20 bill, even though it had been dirtied and crumpled was because its worth was not diminished despite what had happened to it. He then explained that, like the $20 bill, our value can never diminish. No matter what choices we make, good or bad, we still have value. No matter what we do with ourselves, our inherent worth never subsides. As we go through life, we need to remember this. I was really moved by this story, for many reasons. First of all, it really made me think about my life and how there is always the potential, no matter what mistakes or bad decisions one makes, to turn yourself around. The person you are at the core never changes, and your value is never given away. Each human being has so much to offer, and we shouldn't give up on ourselves or anyone else. The family I was staying with really embodied this. I was inspired by the example they set. I had only met them once before, and they opened their home to me and made me feel incredibly welcome and at home. In speaking with them, on more than one occasion, they showed me how accepting they are of others, and how they really think about what they are doing. Religiously, they are definitely to the right of me. In such situations, I often feel a bit intimidated and out of place. At no time did they make me feel like that. They listened to what I had to say, we had several very interesting conversations. Never did I feel judged by them, nor did they make it seem like where I was coming from was anything unusual. I was also touched by the fact that they really were so authentic. Their religious decisions and dedicated came from a place of wanting to serve Hashem in the best way they could. There was no preaching, no looking down upon others. And there was real humility - they admitted that there were many things they didn't know. Their lives and the care they showed others were very genuine. It was really touching. They definitely made me, and I am sure they make others, feel their value, as in the story above. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to spend Shabbos with them, and I hpoe to do so again in the future.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


One of the most special people I know got engaged last night. At first I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it, because she's young and while I knew it was coming, I didn't know it was coming so soon. I was just a little shocked, but not shocked at the same time. I guess I also had a hard time because I haven't met the guy. And I want to make sure that he is special enough for such a wonderful person. The idea that someone I care about so much is planning on spending the rest of her life with a guy I haven't ever met is just really weird. But the more I thought about it, the more I was just so sad that I wasn't there to wish her mazel tov in person, to give her such a huge hug. I realized how much I really love her. It made me want to cry that I wasn't there celebrating with her. She comes from a wonderful family. When I first moved to Baltimore they welcomed me into their home and their family. They had me for every holiday and treated me like family. Through good times and bad, they were there, supporting me, encouraging me and taking care of me. Through their difficult times, they still managed to keep their doors open, never keeping me out. And this member of the family is just so special. She has always gone above and beyond in the caring department, devoting an incredible amount of her time and energy to helping others. She always has a wonderful warm smile and one of the biggest hearts ever extended. I don't use the word love lightly. It is something that is hard for me to express, because I don't like using it indiscriminately, making it common. It's something I feel deeply and when I do love, it lasts. I realized last night and this morning, when I couldn't be there to hug my special "sister," couldn't share in such a happy moment, that I really love her. So much. I wish her so much happiness with her chosson. I can't wait until the moment when I do get to wish her mazel tov in person and give her one of the biggest hugs I've ever given.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Finding Your Comfort Zone

Read my latest at BeyondBT: Finding Your Comfort Zone

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I met someone recently who made some very sharp observations in a short period of time. I was a bit blown away by it, as well as being disconcerted. It's rare that someone meets me and immediately senses what's below the surface, it usually takes quite some time and trust to get inside my shell. It's not that you can't get a good feeling of who I am when first meeting me. But it's rare that someone really gets that there is so much going on underneath. I was unnerved by such sharp observations. When called on the fact that I mask my full palette of colors, I responded that it takes time to get in, to see the spectrum. I was then asked whether anyone ever does. I wonder if anyone can ever really see the whole of any other person. Maybe a spouse comes close. I can't say that there has ever been anyone in my life who really knew everything, that I have been comfortable telling everything to. But in a lot of ways, I hope to find someone like that. Like I said above, it disconcerted me to be seen through so quickly. It put me on edge, on the defensive. I wasn't prepared to have such sharp observations made of me by someone I didn't really know. I guess I felt exposed. But again, in contrast, I want to find someone to see through me, though I guess I want it more on my own terms, when I am ready to let them see it. But maybe that will be too late. Like everything in life, it comes back to balance. I guess the transparency of who we are has to be balanced on a scale - how much to give when mixed with the necessity of being exposed to bond two people. It's a hard balance to strike.