Friday, July 29, 2005

It's All About Me! Another Interview

I think this is going to be the last interview I answer for awhile (I'm all interviewed out), but this one is from Life-of-Rubin and has some really interesting questions that have me pondering sexism and watches and being a guy...

1) If you had to choose between two free trips, one being able to travel for as long as you wanted to either all 50 states and see this country or be able to go to ONE country abroad, which would you choose and which country would you choose if you choose going international?
Israel, Israel, Israel!! Honestly, I'm a little Israel-deprived right now (I haven't been there since I came back from my year in seminary over two years ago), but that's where I want to be. I'm not crazy about traveling and running all over and getting hot and sweaty and being nervous about making flights and coming back more tired than you were when you left, but I am crazy about the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael and the holiness that permeates that country and its people.

2) If you're goal of becoming a lawyer is envisioned and you end up being successful and you marry a guywho also has a full time career, would you everconsider giving up your job to be able to stay home with the children? (note: This is not as sexist as it sounds, my wife has a full time career, and she often wonders if she should give it up and stay home)
I answered a similar question from Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka, and while I don't think it's sexist, I'm kind of curious about this need to ask ambitious women whether they are going to give up on their dreams eventually, but that's a topic for a different time and possibly a different post. Right now, I do not envision wanting to stay home with my kids; I think it would make me bored and bitter and lazy. I am someone who needs intellectual stimulation to be happy and while I'm sure I will love my kids with all my heart and soul, reading The Cat in the Hat over and over againfor five years straight just does not appeal to me. However, my mother tells me I will feel differently when I have kids, and I would like to keep that oppurtunity open, so I will not say no, and it is definitely something I will at the very least think about when the time comes.

3) What Jewish music are you listening to right now, and if you don't listen to Jewish music, why not?
Well, at the moment I'm not listening to anything due to the Three Weeks. I'm not a tremendous fan of Jewish music. (I think most of it sounds the same and something about a sweaty guy with a beard in a white shirt and black pants jumping up and down on the stage shouting, "Mashiach! Mashiach!" just does not appeal to me. Go figure.) But I do love the song "My Awakening" by Blue Fringe. I think it very accurately describes my Israel experience.

4) Do you like digital watches or watches with the hands better and why?
Watches with hands because they're prettier, and because I don't believe in taking the easy way out.

5) If you were able to choose before you were born, if you wanted to be a Man or a Woman, strictly based on the gender related mitzvahs we each have, which would you choose ... and why?
Hmm. This is a hard one. I think I would choose to be a girl because I have no clue how men get up early to go to shacharit every day and really do not think I could do that, and laining is really scary to me. That said, there are certainly things about being a frum girl that are hard (ahem, tznius in the summer in DC), but I am happy in being able to serve Hashem in the way I do. And hard mitzvot are not necessarily a bad thing. Would my perspective be different if I were a guy? Maybe, but I'm not one of those jealous feminists who think it's unfair that men get all the "fun" mitzvot; men get a lot of especially challenging mitzvot as well. Basically, I really am happy with the place I've been given in this world and can't imagine that changing.

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

An Interview on First Dates and Stay-at-Home Mommies

Just when you thought there were no original questions left to ask, Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka asks me five new questions!

I'H, your husband makes enough money, so that you working is unnecessary. Do you still work?
Absolutely. Perhaps selfishly, I hope that I never have to work, so that if I would like to be a stay-at-home mommy, I have that oppurtunity. But I am someone who thrives on intellectual work, and I don't see myself being happy staying at home all day everyday for the rest of my life. I want to work so that I do something productive, so that I get out into the real world, so that I value the time I have at home with my family. I don't want my family to turn into a job, I want my family to be what I look forward to after work.

Name one food you were afraid of, but tried it anyway and liked it.
"I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am." That said, my friend once made challah and I knew that she had mixed up the amounts of some of the ingredients and it looked kinda funny, so I was very skeptical, but it was awesome! I tried sushi which was very scary and didn't like it at all though, so I'm not sure what that says for trying new foods...

What's the most dangerous thing you've ever done?
Umm, just last night my roommate and I wanted a picture at a monument and we saw some tourists there and wanted to catch them to take our picture, so we ran across a four-lane street against the light to take the picture. Alternately, my sister and I once illegaly crept under the locked gate and on to the beach at night because I needed to tovel my Pesach coffee pot before I went back to my dorm, because I could not go without coffee for the four days of chol hamoed I would be at school. I'm not sure if either of those are the MOST dangerous things I've ever done, but neither was very smart or safe.

Describe your ideal first date.
You mean there's more than one before you get engaged? Just kidding. But I do feel like first dates, especially in the frum world, are destined to be uncomfortable and awkward and unpleasant. Is there a way to solve this? No, but there are certainly ways to make it less bad. So, my ideal first date would be a two-hour (keep it short, you just met each other, you don't want to spend evbery waking second together yet) walk through Central Park on a spring or fall day when it's not too hot or too cold (so you can be in a public place but still be able to talk somewhat privately and hopefully not have too many shidduch date spotters around poitning fingers and laughing). Conversation should be natural and flowing and not solely question-answer format about hashkafa (it's not an interview, it's a date!). And the girl should be warned that you're going to be walking so heels would be a bad idea. I think that's about as good as it can get.

Paper or plastic?
As a good liberal, I have to say paper, but when you're grocery shopping in the City and are gonna hafta walk your groceries home, you gotta do the much-easier-to-carry plastic. Sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do, and the environment just has to suffer the consequences. It's much better than trying to juggle three paper bags and dropping one and watching your apples roll across Broadway at 116th. Trust me on this one.

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

A Few of my Favorite (and Not-So Favorite) Things

I've been tagged by NormalJew to list my top 10 turn-ons and turn-offs, so here they are with slightly edited categories (I wonder what it says about me that it's far easier for me to think of my least favorite things than my favorite things):

Top 10 Things I Love:
Good debate
People who care
Smart people
The Gap
Beautiful shoes
Trivial Pursuit
Flip flops

Top 10 Things That Really Bug Me:
Insincere people
Stupid people
Indifferent people
Women who wear their pants/skirt low to show off their underwear
Bad grammar
Frizzy hair
People who assume that I go to Barnard, not Columbia

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Just When You Thought You Knew Everything About Me... interview from NormalJew that has me admitting I'm not perfect and extolling the benefits of spell checker.

1)What is more valuable to you, your spell checker or your calculator? Why?
This one was an easy one: my spell checker! I have abandoned math because it's not something that is logical to me and not something I enjoy. I have handed my sister my beautiful graphing calculator and moved on to the greener fields of of liberal arts. And especially as a copy editor for my campus newspaper and someone who cannot tolerate spelling or grammar mistakes, I think that my spelling checker is a far more valuable tool than my calculator.

2)What was the last mistake you made? Did you fix it?
Don't you know I'm always right and never make mistakes? Ok, so maybe I do, but I'm not going to ruin my reputation and tell you about it. Though twice this summer I decided to walk a fairly long distance in my heels, that was a mistake if there ever was one, and I don't think there is any way to fix my feet...

3)Do you have more than one active email account? Why?
I think as of now I have four e-mail accounts: a school account which doesn't have great capabilities and will be defunct when I graduate, a yahoo account which gets a ton of spam but a couple useful things and which I've had like forever, a gmail account which I love and which I use mostly, and an account for my blog so that I don't have to give away my identity if I don't want to. Really, it would be great to consolidate except that they each serve a different purpose, and checking four e-mail accounts is a great procrastination tool.

4)What was the biggest lie you ever told? Do you regret it?
Did you ever read Eli and his Little White Lie? It's a book about a little kid who tells a lie and how that lie grows and grows and grows. I'd like to believe at least that most of my lies are smaller lies - not teeny-tiny insignificant lies, but pretty small. So, while I do regret lying and I do believe it's something I should not do, I have no fantastic story to tell you about a huge lie, my lies aren't big and ugly, they're "cute little fluffy" ones.

5)If you had to pick, which would you rather be, a fish or a bird? And which kind?
A bird because I can currently swim but I can't fly, and I want to be able to fly. I don't like animals and don't know much about them, so you'll have to be satisfied just with bird and nothing more specific.

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

Exposing Myself to the Web - Another Interview

So, below is my inerview from Leati. I'm not sure about this five question thing, some of these seem like complex questions to me...

What are your hidden talents your friends don't know about?
Hmm. I think I'm a pretty open book to most of my good friends who sometimes know me so well it's scary and who often remeber EVERYTHING I tell them, so I'm not sure what they don't know about me. And if there was something they didn't know about me, well, I'm not sure I'd want to tell the world (or whoever it is that reads this blog).

If there was something you could change about your life, what would it be? Why?
I once asked my father this question and he gave an awesome response. He told me that one is a product of his experiences. What you've done and what you've experienced make you who you are. So, my father said, he likes who he is right now and where he is in life, and therefore, he wouldn't want to change any of his decisions because then he wouldn't be who he is. I'm not sure I agree with the entire line of reasoning and all its implications, but I am happy with who I am and therefore there is nothing I would really change. Even my challenges have in the end made me stronger.

What accomplishment are you proud of most? Least?
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very snobby about Columbia, and that's because I'm really proud of the fact that I go there. However, getting into my first choice college is not my greatest accomplishment, despite what I tend to emphasize. Honestly, I am most proud of the fact that I've managed to use my time at Columbia to better myself religiously despite what is a negative environment toward Torah. I am least proud of things I feel like I was handed on a silver platter and did not have to work for.

What do you hope lies ahead in 5 years time? 10? 20?
In no particular chronolgical order: a diamond ring, a sheitel, a graduation gown and funny motorboard hat, a B.A., a law degree, a good job with reasonable hours, kids, Beit Shemesh, a book deal (hey why not?)...

But really, what do I want in my future? I want a family of my own, I want a successful though not-too demanding career in which I can accomplish something good. How many years will it take and in what order do I want to accomplish these things? I don't know, I think I'll leave that up to The One.

If you could go anywhere for a day, where would it be and why?
We once had to do this question in my creative writing class in high school and the one caveat was that we couldn't pick Israel because it was obvious that that was where a bunch of frum girls would want to go if given the choice. So, without that caveat, I pick Israel. If I could go anywhere for one day, I would go to the Old City and just spend the day walking around, davening at the Kotel, just being there. I'm getting kinda nostalgic...

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

Gratuitous Cursing Here, There, and Everywhere

I definitely have been known to use words I shouldn't use, and am certainly no saint in the area of foul language, however if there is one thing I cannot stand, it's the way people around the office curse left and right for no apparent reason. It's rude and offensive and disgusting and unprofessional. If you can't say something nice, at least figure out how to say something mean in nicer words.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Devil Wears Three-Inch Stilettos

My friend is convinced that pointy-toed stilettos were created by a man who didn't know anatomy, because there is no way women would have subjected themselves to such torture, and they clearly weren't made by somone who knows anything about the shape of feet.

If you catch me off-guard in my pointy high-heeled boots, I might tell you they were created by the devil.

And now, Life-of-Rubin linked to this article about high heels causing mental disorders.

But you know what? I am short. And shoes are pretty. And really that's all there is to it. And you know what else? If slight discomfort in my feet makes me feel pretty, then maybe it's worth it. Plus, sometimes you just need to be taller than your 13-year-old sister.

So, Nine West and BCBG and Steve Madden can keep on making those shoes, because I'm still buying.

LiveStrong or Live Wrong?

"Maybe we just want to admire Lance Armstrong, but not be Lance Armstrong. Too much work. Maybe that's the wristband we should be wearing: Live wrong. Party on. Pay later."

In an article in the NY Times (I should just start writing "in an article" because it's clear that everything I quote is from the Times...), Thomas Friedman talks about how Americans do not have the determination to succeed at all costs. We're a demanding bunch, but it's not as if we work hard enough to deserve very much. Sometimes to get what you want in the long run, you have to sacrifice in the short run, and that's something Americans are wholly unwilling to do.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel on the issue. Though I do think Americans are fairly lazy and pretty useed to getting what we want without working particularly hard for it. I mean, heck, there are all these bloggers (myself included) who are paid to sit in front of a desk and do nothing all day, and then complain that we're not paid enough. Arguments on grade inflation seem to indicate that current students work less for better grades than our historic counterparts. And I can tell you from personal experience that college students party a lot and drink a lot.

So then what? Is America as a whole doomed to failure? Are we doomed to fall behind in the rat race of time becuase we just don't care enough to make sacrifices for the future. Do we not care enough about tomorrow to work hard today?

From the Yeshiva Bachur: More Tough Questions

My interview from EN:

1) What made you decide to go into law?
I'm not exactly sure when I decided I wanted to go into law. Through a series of different events in high school - mock trial, A.P. government, a legal internship, an obsession with The Practice - I came to the conclusion that the study of law is what I really loved. As a college student, I am even more accutely aware that this is what I enjoy. I love political science and critical thinking and arguing with people, so I think law is the profession I would most enjoy. Unlike many people, I am not going into law for the money and I do not want to be a partner in a big law firm (impossible to have a family and do this); I hope to find a niche in law that allows me to both enjoy myself and do something good. (Maybe I should save this for my law school applications.)

2)What was the naughtiest thing you have done?
I'm a good frum girl, which mean I've done plenty of bad things but nothing REALLY bad. I've had plenty of minor indiscretions that bother me and indicate to me that I have plenty more to learn and plenty more places to grow, but I have nothing to put here that I could classify as "the naughtiest thing I've ever done" (and if I did, I probably wouldn't want to put it here). Admittedly this was a bit of a cop-out, but...

3)If you were a boy, would you learn in kollel or become a Balhabos and why?
If I were a guy, I would work. Not because I don't think learning is important, but because I do not think I am the kind of person that could approach learning enthustiastically for that long. I just don't think it's something I could do well. I also don't think I would be happy with the kollel lifestyle. I am far too spoiled to appreciate such a lifestyle. I would, however, consider kollel for a year. (The question of whether I value kollel as a value in and of itself will have to wait, but the bottomline is that I think kollel is appropriate for a limited few who will actually learn well and enthusistically and take learning seriously. I do not think I could do that for a prolonged period of time.)

4)If the president would ask you to join the supreme court would you do it, or demure because it is not tzniusdik?
First of all, I don't know how you touched on this, but I have dreamed of being on the Supreme Court - an unrealistic dream to be sure. I'm not sure what the tznius issue would be in terms of being on the Supreme Court, I mean those robes are pretty tznius... But really, I would be far more concerned about having to make decisions that don't jive with halacha. And I would most certainly ask a rabbi before accepting my dream job.

5)What was the stupidest thing you ever saw a boy do?
I think I've made it clear on this blog that I think boys can be pretty stupid (throw rocks at them), and while I have many examples, I'd rather not post on this blog the single stupidest thing I can remember a boy doing. So, you'll just hafta live in suspense. Although my brother once locked my father's car keys in the car at the gas station. (Which was especially frustrating to me, who had to bring the car keys to my father at the gas station the night before my friend's wedding before I could go out to dinner with her.)

extra credit: ;)

6)What did you get on your SAT's?
Ummm, I am not going to dislcose that information. Let's just say I did well enough to get into Columbia.

7)What does your father do?
I always get nervous when I get this question because my father does computer stuff. I don't know anymore than that so I can't say anything else. He does some sort of computer stuff, despite his masters in an altogether different field.

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

TRW Asks the Tough Questions

TRW interviewed me with tough, thoughtful questions, and below are my answers.

1) What was the happiest day of your life thus far? Why?
This is a hard one. A couple different thoughts have flitted through my mind, but none of them really answer the question. Maybe it's because I don't like quantifying things that way, it's certainly not because there are no happy moments; there are many, I just don't think any of them fits the definition of "the happiest day of my life." So, I'm going to pass on this question because I don't believe life is about single moments or momentous occasions. Life is about what you do on a regular basis, and while those moments may not stand out the same way, they are what is important.

2) What is the kindest thing that anyone ever said to you?
I was basically told (I am not including the exact quotes and conversations as they are personal) by two of my seminary teachers close to two years post-seminary that I had been brainwashed. I never woulda thought that would mean so much to me, but it meant that I valued their teachings and their hashkafa and was at least trying to make decisions based on those values. And the fact that they saw my efforts and appreciated them and thought I was on the right track, well that really was the most I could have asked for.

3) How many people could you look in the eye and tell them that you love them? (Yes, I want a number)
Well, I'm going to give a number and not tell you who since you ask for a number and not names. And the answer is ... nine. I think.

4) If you could have anything, but only one thing, without trying, what would you choose?
A high I.Q. And to me that means the ability to learn. My first response was knowledge or wisdom, but I don't think either of those things is any good if you haven't worked for them. I mean, I can spew off trivial facts with the best of 'em, (especially where my illustrious university is concerned), but that's not what I mean, and it's not what I want. I want the capacity for knowledge - the intelligence to be able to learn and the stamina to actually do so. How's that?

5) What is your ultimate, long-term goal? Are you working toward it right now?
My ultimate long-term goal is to build a bayit ne'eman b'yisrael - to have kids and teach them to love Torah and Judaism as much as I do - and to have a successful career as all. What's that you say? I want it all. Yes, I do. Am I working toward that goal? well, I'm working toward the second (and secondary) aspect - the career part. That's what I'm doing in college, in my internship, etc. I am in one way or another preparing to go to law school and be a lawyer. On the other hand, I am not really actively working on the bayit ne'eman part. (Ok, I just freaked myself out by using that phrase twice in the same paragraph. I really am brainwashed.) It's a lot harder and emotionally trying to work on that, though honestly, it is far more important. But then again, there's also only so much for me to do about it at this point.

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

One of Those Days...

"I am a rock,
I am an island ...
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries."

Ever have one of those days when nothing goes right and the world looks bleak despite the bright sunshine, and you feel ugly despite your pretty shoes, and everything good seems far away, and you're sad and upset and depressed and frustrated with everything and everyone, but most of all with yourself? Ever have one of those days when you just wanna curl up in your bed and and read sad poetry (or whatever your equivalent is) and cry till you fall asleep?

Yup, that would be today in the life of Eli7.

Way to Go, PrezBo!

There is a fairly recent book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, by Bernard Goldberg. It's by a conservative who basically lists 100 liberals who he doesn't like because they actually have the ability to make a difference and change the status quo for the (liberal) better.

But guess who joins the ranks of Michael Moore, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Howard Dean. Guess who ranks as worse for America than Al Franken, Barbara Walters, Gloria Steinem, and Jerry Springer.

Good ol' PrezBo - Columbia's President, Lee Bollinger - comes in at number 24 on the list of liberal people destroying the conservative author's idealistic America!

I'm shepping nachas.

(Another Columbia notable is history professor Eric Foner who comes in at number 75.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Deep Thoughts of the Day: Starbucks, Underwear, and World Revolution

My deep thoughts of this just begining day:

  • Starbucks makes the world go 'round.
  • There are very few things I want to know less than where you buy your underwear, so don't tell me by walking around with a Victoria's Secret bag like it's a fashion statement.
  • Men who get up early to go to minyan every morning and then commute to work have my utmost respect.
  • Desk jobs aren't all they're cracked up to be.
  • If people actually were productive for the eight hours of the day that they're at work, there would be a world revolution.

And the day is just at its start. What other revelations will I have today? Tune into this blog to find out.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Harry Potter vs. Torah

I was talking to my grandmother recently and she asked if I had read Harry Potter (I hadn't) and if I knew who died (I did). My friends who were there and had read Harry Potter objected to my spoiling it for my grandmother, to which she responded, "Well, if I'm going to spend time on something, I'd much rather spend that time reading something on Torah or on art - things that I really care about. I'd just kinda like to know what happened in Harry Potter."

My grandmother is an amazing woman who is so committed to Torah-true Judaism. May we all be so committed to Judaism always.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Wearing My Heart on My Wrist

I find these bands that have been the fad for a while really interesting. I find them cool, because they enable you to literally wear your heart on your wrist.

I think I'm partially fascinated by this concept because I'm generally a quiet person, someone who doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve. In fact, I tend to wear my heart somewhere way down deep inside where it's hard to find. And though I can't help that, sometimes it bothers me. It bothers me that though my beliefs are well-thought-out and I am proud of them, I don't always share them.

So, I think it's really cool to be able to wear a bracelet that expresses exactly what you believe. It's a way of saying you're proud of something - that you believe strongly in something - without having to say it, and I think that's pretty cool.

FYI, at the moment, my left wrist is dedicated to pro-Israel (but as soon as my sister gives me the newest one, anti-Disengagement) bracelets. It's what I believe.

Of course, this theory on how cool these bracelets are was slightly harmed when I saw one that said "ThinkThin" on my sister's wrist. I guess all things can be used for good or evil...

Everyone's a Little Bit Racist ... But It's Not Ok

"Everyone's a little bit racist
Doesn't mean we go
Around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one's really color blind.
Maybe it's a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgments
Based on race."

I think this song has a lot of truth to it, I mean we are all a little bit racist, aren't we? And admitting that is definitely a good thing, but it doesn't make it ok to be racist.

Orthodox Jews, I've found, are especially guilty of being a little bit racist. I've had a couple experiences this past week in which that point became clearer. Frum Jews are not great about race issues. I'm not trying to badmouth our brand of Judaism as a whole and I'm not putting myself outside of the problem, but I do think it is a problem.

It's probably partially because we live in very sheltered communities and are only exposed to certain people. (A co-worker of mine couldn't get over the fact that I didn't have non-Jewish acquaintances until college.) And I'm certainly not saying that should change (though I'm also not saying it shouldn't), but I do think it's something we should address within our community. It is not ok to be racist.

If Israel can teach peace and tolerance for the Palestinians in their classrooms (which they do), then we can most certainly teach tolerance for all races and ethnicities and cultures in the halls and classrooms of our yeshivot, and it is a disservice to our people if we don't.

And while it may be a fact of nature that we're all a little bit racist, we should also try to change that reality as much as possible.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Supreme Court Nomination: Not so Important

In an op-ed today in the NY Times (duh! I mean, what other newspaper do I ever quote?) , Bob Herbert makes a really interesting point. He says that we spend all this time worrying about Supreme Court nominees and Karl Rove and the presidency and very little time worrying about education.

Yes, the Supreme Court is important, but education is far more important to the average American than who replaces Sandra Day O'Connor. Fixing the education system so that students are encouraged to finish high school and given the opportunity to go on to college has a far greater impact on the daily life of an American than does the Supreme Court, and we would do well to recognize that.

Now this is especially weird coming from someone who spends her life as of now studying the greater trends in political science and government and the theory behind those trends, but much as I enjoy studying these things, are they changing the world we live in? Much as I enjoy complaining that the election of Dubya and his ability to replace a Supreme Court justice are ruining the world we live in, are those really the important issues?

We all like to talk about the big issues and those issues are important, but if we spend all our time worrying about the big things, well then all the little things that have a greater impact on daily life get neglected.

Herbert is right. We should be sitting around worrying about the state of education, complaining about the problem and trying to figure out how to solve it so that students are given the ability to earn an education and make a difference - to become the next Supreme Court justice - instead of constantly referencing a solitary comment that John Roberts made about Roe V. Wade more than ten years ago.

Willy Wonka's Father Was a Dentist? Now It all Makes Sense

I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night and was very impressed. I know it's been getting a bad rap from a lot of people and I was very skeptical, but I actually enjoyed it.

One of the reasons I was skeptical was because I love the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and felt like nothing could compare. But the new one was so different than the old one that I didn't feel the need to compare the two. (And Johnny Depp was not quite as freaky as I thought he would be, though the Michael Jackson comparison is fairly accurate.)

The most noticeable addition to the new movie was a backstory for Willie Wonka: his father was a dentist who never let him have candy, and of course that made him into a candymaker. Interesting...

But it kinda made me think: how much of us is made by our families? Are we truly products of our parents and our siblings and how we were raised? While I don't think any of us are quite as uncomplicated as Willy Wonka's loving chocolate because his father was a dentist (which reminds me, I really hafta go to the dentist...), our parents do have a profound affect on the way we turn out.

And maybe that's a pretty obvious thing to say but family is a big deal, and parents literally have the ability to mold a person. It's a pretty big responsibility.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Campaign for Conventional Beauty?

"I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul."

Dove has spearheaded an ad campaign called the Campaign for Real Beauty. (Which I am not linking to due to the decidedly untznius women featured on the Web site. Be forewarned.) The ads - if you haven't seen them - include a few women dressed only in white underwear. The women are not all the typical size 2 models that you see on ads. They are regular sized, but models nonetheless.

The point of the ads is that we don't have to believe what society believes is beautiful. We don't have to conform to conventional ideas about beauty. However all the women in the ad are conventionally beautiful! They may not be super-skinny, but they are all very clearly models. They all have great skin (though this is not so weird since Dove is trying to sell skin products), they all hvae great smiles, beautiful faces...

If we want to change the way people view beauty, change conventional beauty, and make it very clear that people are beautiful for who they are inside, then we have to make the point that you don't have to be skinny, but you also don't have to be a model. Real beauty is a reflection of who you are inside, it's not about a few women in white underwear on a billboard.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Flip Flop Fiasco

I know this is all over the blogosphere by now, but I personally think it's super-funny.

I love flip flops with all my heart and soul (at last count, I own seven pairs) and wear them as often as possible. In fact, hard-core Democrat that I am, I desperately wanted John Kerry flip flops from the Republican National Convention, because I thought they were really funny.

Though I'm pretty sure I wouldn't wear flip flops to the White House. But maybe this is a sign that the times are changing and soon flip flops will be considered formal wear. Very exciting news for this flip flop devotee.

On Straight Hair and Clueless Guys

A scene from a movie I saw last night:

Guy: You look somehow different than you looked in high school. I know! It's your hair.
Girl: I ironed it.
Guy: You what!?
Girl: I ironed my hair.
Guy: Did it hurt?

Inessential to Judaism: Matzah Balls and Black Hats

There is no such thing as Jewish culture.

I realized this lst night during a discussion about "cultural Jewry." I fully believe that people should do whatever they want and observe Judaism however they choose to do so - or not do so - but something about people whose philosophy is that Judiasm is all about Israeli dancing and chicken soup just really bothers me.

Matzah balls are no more essential to Judaism than are black hats (now that I've offended ALL Jews...). Judaism is not a culture. Judaism is a religion, people. That's right. I said it. There is no such thing as Jewish culture. You are not identifying with Judaism when you talk about how you love Israel, if all you love about Israel is the falafel.

Judaism revolves around the Torah, regardless of what you think the Torah means or how you think that affects you. You cannot seperate Judaism and Torah. You cannot be a cultural Jew because Judaism is not at all about culture.

(Disclaimer: I have nothing aginst black hats or matzah balls. I just don't think either one is essential to Judaism. Judaism is about Torah, it's not about excellent cuisine or what you use to cover your head.)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Popular and the Brain

In a recent article in the NY Times, David Brooks pleaded with Dubya to nominate a genius to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. He argued that personal alliances should play no role in this tremendously important decision, and instead Bush should pick someone extremely intelligent to fill this role. (Imagine that - the nominee should actually be qualified!)

"Ideas drive history, so you want to pick the person with the biggest brain."

And yet, I keep thinking of the lyrics of a song from Wicked, in which Galinda tries to convince the wicked-witch-to-be that all that matters is popularity.

"...think of
Celebrated heads of state or
Specially great communicators
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don't make me laugh!
They were popular!"

The optimist in me wants to belive that Brooks is right, that history and life are all about intelligence and genius, improvement and progress. That history is indeed the triumph of the idea. And yet, I am left with this pessimistic thought that it's all about popular.

I'd like to believe that history depends on more than the way people choose to wear their hair, that life and death and survival depend on intelligence.

I'd like to believe.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Saving My Eternal Soul, or Trying to Do So

Try explaining to your co-workers that you don't want to go to happy hour with them because you just don't think it's the environment that a good, frum girl should be in.

Trust me, it's not so easy. I really like the people I work with, but their social activities leave much to be desired on my part. I do not want to see dirty foreign films with them and I do not want to drink with them. And they just don't get it. They just don't understand why I'm so opposed to hanging out with them outside of work, why I'm ostracizing myself from the group.

I could try telling them the truth - that I am trying to avoid damage to my eternal soul by choosing not to hang out with them - but someohow I'm not sure how well that would go over.

Pure Unadulterated Joy

Fast, faster
Hair flying
Hold tight
Lift off the ground
A smile
A giggle
Pure joy
Fast, faster

There is nothing more beautiful than the pure unadulterated joy of a five-year-old.

Freaking Out With Friends

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

I found this very long quote yesterday, and I'm hoping it's true. I just got a phone call from a very-freaked-out friend, but far from being able to help her calm down, I was kinda freaked out myself. Really, really freaked out. But I care.

I couldn't offer her any solutions or words of wisdom or good ideas. I mostly sat in a stunned silence which was a nice complement for her more verbal shock. But I listened and felt for her and just plain old cared. I hope that was really enough.

Israel Is Single, Just Like Me

"When did a bridesmaid dress become the official uniform of summer?"

My sister: What is disengagment?
Me: It means Israel is going to be single - not engaged.
My mother: Sounds like you have something on your mind...

Blame it on all the people getting married this summer. Mazal tov y'all.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Killing Babies Is Ethical Now?

In an article that was certainly meant to be inflamatory in the NY Times Magazine this week, the author talks about euthanasia for babies as progressive, about the sanctity of life as a backwards idea, and about ethics as dinnertime conversation. Call me crazy, but killing babies is not what I like to discuss over food, and I do believe that life - any life - is sacred. (And I'm a Democrat!)

But even more than that, what was really disturbing to me about the article was the assertion that ethics is a small-talk, chit-chat, sort of non-essential conversation piece. Ethics - however we define them - should be about the way we live our lives, how we make the decisions that alter what we do and who we are. Ethics are essential to our lives and how we live them, and the author fails to recognize them as anything more than intellectual fodder.

But then what can you expect from a man who thinks it's ok to kill babies.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Frum Girl and the Foreign Film (Two Things That Should Not Go Together)

Someone I work with asked me if I wanted to go see a foreign film about a failed relationship with her. I said ok. Big mistake.

Let's just say that I've seen rated R movies. I've watched more TV than I'd like to admit. I've seen many things that I probably should not have seen. But none of that was anywhere close to as graphic as this French film that we saw. It was so graphic that it was traumatic for me. So, so graphic.

I was upset that I was exposed to this, upset that such things are filmed, upset that actors and actresses are willing to do these things, upset that anyone over the age of 17 can get into the theater to see such things, but most of all upset at myself.

True, I had been naive in thinking that this movie would be appropriate, but even after I saw that it was clearly not appropriate, I stayed. I shielded my eyes from the really bad stuff, but I stayed. I was too ashamed to walk out in front of a friend, so instead I stayed in the dark theater, dirtying my mind, and feeling like a hypocrite in my long skirt and long sleeves watching such things on a screen.

What is wrong with the world? What is wrong with me?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mystery of the Missing Mail

Two weeks ago I mailed two cards: one was a "thinking of you" card to a very good friend, and the other was a "happy-you're-almost-married" card. The cards have not arrived. The almost-married friend is married, the thought-of friend has been thought about many more times in the interim, and I am not a happy card-sender.

Yesterday I decided to investigate what happened to my cards. I mailed them from the mail chute in my office building (and if anyone reading this is saying "ah ha!" well then they shoulda warned me beforehand). So my first stop was the front desk of my building, where I asked the security guard if the mail chutes are functional. He said he thought so.

Then I asked my friend who had also mailed letters down the mail chute at the same time, whether her letters had arrived. They hadn't. We then tracked down a mailman who was picking up mail in our building. When we told him we had used the mail chute, he looked at us like we were crazy and told us that the mail chute had been closed for years. Oh.

We then proceeded to lift the ceiling panels where the mail chute used to end but didn't find our letters. The second floor has no mail chute at all anymore. On the third floor we found a mail chute ... and our mail. The only problem was that our mail was fifteen feet below us resting on a ceiling that had been closed off with dry wall and cement when the building had been renovated and was totally inaccessible.

So, let's just say that one maintenance man, three building enginners, the building manager, tons of duct tape, and countless yards of ribbon and rope later our mail is still somewhere between the first and second floors of my building, completely inaccessible - along with lots of other mail belonging to people who didn't realize that the mail chutes were closed after the notice that was taped onto our mail chute fell off eight months ago.

Rest in peace o' missing mail.

Art vs. Crime

Quote of the day:

"Actually, in this country, when you dunk a crucifix in urine that's "art" and when you hang a framed copy of the Ten Commandments inside a courthouse, that's a crime."

This could be a longer discussion on what art is and the meaning of art, and crime as a societal construct, but I'll leave y'all with just the quote for now.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love, Marriage, and Four a.m. Phone Calls (But Not All at Once)

I was at a beautiful wedding last night - of one of my best friends in the whole wide world. I've waited until now to blog about it for a couple of reasons, one of which is that I still haven't quite figured out how I feel.

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

I love my friend deeply and she has been with me through so much that I cannot recount to you in all the space on my blog and all the words in the universe how much she has done for me.

"Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone"

She was always there when I needed to crash and burn, and I have called her up at 4 a.m. And I tried as hard as I could to be there for her as much as she was there for me. We've shared so many late night phone conversations and so many tears and laughs and smiles. And she knows me so well that it's sometimes scary.

"It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter."

But it's partially because I love her so much that I feel so funny now. Because now she has someone else to be there for her, someone else to talk to at four a.m., someone else to crash and burn to. And while I may sound selfish to even be saying these things, it's true. It's hard to let go of even a little bit of someone who you're so close to.

But as we sat on the floor of her bedroom the night before she was going to get married, laughing at each other and making ourselves pretty (don't ask, trust me, you don't want to know) in what made for a weird sort of bonding experience, I realized that she's going to be there for me always. Marriage is not going to change the person she is or the friendship we have. And I am happy because she is happy.

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved."

And her wedding was absolutely beautiful. She was a gorgeous bride and she is happy. And really that's all that should matter.

"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry."

So, I hope for her that she is always happy. That she builds a bayit ne'eman b'yisrael. That their love does grow and become stronger with time. That she remains the incredible person she is today. That she knows that even now when she has someone else that I'll always be there for her.

I May Be Small, But I don't Fit in a Box

This from an article in the Times Magazine:

"When people ask me where I am from, I say I am Persian, born in Iran. I write and dream in English, I curse in Spanish and, after a few pints of Guinness, I dance a mighty Irish jig. And when people ask me where I live, I tell them Brooklyn is my home."

I like this quote because it's eloquent, but also because it captures so well what people are all about. We so often try to fit into boxes - Michlala girl, New Yorker, Ivy League student, liberated woman, we all have our shtick - that we lose sight of the fact that we are individuals melded together from all our different experiences and we don't fit into boxes. You cannot figure out who a person is with a label or two, with a description of where she's been or what she's doing, with a few details. People are complicated beings. Embrace your individuality; don't live by someone else's rules.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Highlights of the Week

This week, I:

  • was evacuated from a Senate office building, along with the entire Capitol Hill
  • saw Barack Obama
  • found a typo in the Smithsonian

It's been a successful week. Have a good shabbos.