Monday, December 26, 2005

Homesick for My Dorm?

It's hard to be home. And it's more than just the boredom of a long stretch of vacation, more than just the fact that I have to fend off two sisters to gain access to the car and mobility, more than just the inconvenience of having most of my stuff at school and needing to transfer it slowly as I need it.

I'm really too old to live at home--too old for prolonged stints in my house. I've lived away from home for three and half years now, including this past summer, and I've become accustomed to it. Cooking my own food may be an inconvenience, but I'm used to eating when and where I please. Having a car is nice, but I'm used to being able to go out when I want without having to let anyone know my whereabouts. I'm used to cleaning up after myself, but not having to clean up after other people.

I'm used to living with people my own age, not with my parents and younger siblings. I'm used to being responsible for myself and beholden only to myself. Being at home is a complete shift, a completely different world, a world I don't really fit into anymore and a world I'm not really comfortable with anymore.

I haven't outgrown my family (I don't think you can do that even if you want to), but I think I have outgrown my home in a way.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Vacation. It's what I've been waiting for for a long, long time. It's what I looked forward to during the endless hours of paper-writing and finals-studying that consumed my life these past few weeks. And now it's here. And I'm happy.

And very, very bored. It's not that I don't have things to do--I have stuff to do, lots of it. But somehow this complete lack of structure--this sleep till whenever, nothing to do, and no one to do it with--just doesn't work for me. I don't really want to be back in school yet. I will be ready when it comes I think, but not yet.

I'm just plain ol' bored. Be careful what you wish for, I guess. Ahhh well. If anyone has any good ideas of things to keep me busy, please do let me know.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

As if I Don't Waste Enough Time Blogging

I've been suckered into joining Facebook. I had resisted for two years, but I took my last final yesterday and then ended my two-year anti-Facebook campaign. And promptly wasted a lot of time.

But I am determined to friend (yes, it has become a verb) every one I know between now and like next week and then ignore Facebook for ever after.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Oh, and if you know who I really am (legitimately), feel free to friend me ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Love Hate Relationship

"In all its misery it will always be what I love and hated."

I'm done! Done with this miserable semester. Done with a seminar taught like a lecture on topics I only barely understood. Done with the stress that only a quasi-tone deaf person can feel in Music Hum. Done with the dreadful waiting to be called on feeling of sitting in a class taught by Socratic method. Just done.

The truth is, I loved my classes this semester and I love school (strange I know), but with yom tov and other complications, it was a really, really stressful semester for me. And I'm just happy it's over. Which doesn't make any sense because I love Columbia, I love my classes, I love school, I love being here.

But I still can't shake this huge sigh of relief I breathed as soon as I walked out of my last exam. And don't get me wrong, I still have plenty to do. Let's just say this is not going to be an on-the-beach in Florida type of vacation. But this semester is over. Yay.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Welcome to College, Jewish Population: Small

My sister found out tonight that she got into her early decision college choice, which means that she is going to George Washington University after her year-long stint in Israel. She was so excited and I'm excited for her.

Except that I did everything in my power to convince her not to go to GW.

My sister is one of the strongest people I know. She is strong in her beliefs, in her knowledge, in her actions. She knows herself and is self-assured in a way I often envy. And I think she can grow and prosper wherever she is. Really I do.

And yet, she's going to a college with a very, very small frum community. And that makes me very, very nervous. (Which is not to say that Columbia's huge frum community is all fun and games and good stuff.) But I think there's something to be said about going to a school where frum people are accepted, where there are multiple minyanim and kosher food is readily available.

But then again, she's a big girl. She knows who she is and what she wants from life. She's old enough to make her own decisions--and she doesn't listen to me anyway. It's time to let go and let her make her own destiny. (Is this what being a parent feels like? I'm too young for this.) I'll just have to sit and watch from the sidelines.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What Was I Thinking? Unclear

I've been sitting in my room all day trying to figure out what I was thinking when I (proverbially) sold my soul to a newspaper for the next year. True, it is one of the things I've found most rewarding in college. True, I have a vision for how things in my section should be. True, since I walked on campus as a bright-eyed freshman two and a half years ago, I have given the people that run this newspaper star status. And I think I even have a copy of the paper from my first visit to Columbia after I was accepted here. (Dorky, I know.)

This newspaper is one of the best things I've done so far with my college career. And yet, I cannot fathom what I just did. Part of it is that I have apprehensions about religious observance which are valid and which I need to work out and part of it is that I have apprehensions about giving up sleep for an entire year and the effect that it will have on my GPA and part of it is just the awkwardness of a bunch of distinct people molding into a cohesive board that can put out a paper for a whole year.

And here I find myself, a newly-minted editor, confused, dazed, and very, very nervous. But I also needed a reminder about what this is all about, about how much I love this newspaper, and about how much this is truly what I want to spend my time doing. I found it searching the paper's archives. In a senior column, I found this quote:

"College is a time when we get to try out those things we never thought we'’d have the chance to do and may never have the chance to do again once we'’re outside the gates. Occasionally, we try things out during college that become our life'’s passion."

Are journalism and editing my life's passion? I don't know--they're not easy professions, and they are harder for Orthodox Jews. Have I given up on law school? Not as of now, but it's also not my only option anymore. All I know is this: my experience at the newspaper highlights my time at Columbia more than any classes I've taken or books that I've read. It has become a part of me in way I never dreamed possible. It has somehow made nights when I didn't leave the office until 7:30 a.m. into the best nights I have had.

I will probably not ever get the chance to stand anywhere near the helm of a daily newspaper again. And though I cannot even describe the anxiety and fear I have for the next year, I also cannot describe my excitement. I owe this job a real chance, after all, it's something I "may never have the chance to do again."

I was just about to hit the "publish post" button, but realized I couldn't because that last paragraph may sound pretty, but right now I'm far, far more nervous than excited. All of a sudden, I'm in charge of something (not the whole paper, but for some unknown reason I don't feel like giving my position) and I don't know where to go from here. I don't know if I can do it and I don't know if I have the stamina to try. I don't know what I was thinking and I don't know why I did this. And, quite frankly, this was not a decision I made hastily or without knowledge of what it entailed.

But all of a sudden, it's real. All of a sudden, I'm in charge and I have responsibility and I am nervous. Shaking in my boots, don't know where to go or what to do nervous. Nervous like when you're about to open that e-mail that tells you if you got into college. Nervous. Really nervous. That's the truth.

We'll see what happens.

Blinded by the Light?

Judaism is inherent in my very being, in everything I do, and in who I am. That makes sense--that's what being an Orthodox Jew is all about. That's because being an Orthodox Jew is the single most important thing to me.

So, it's funny when other people don't know that. There are two people in particular who I have known for quite a large part of my college career who I just assumed knew I was frum. But they didn't. I mean, no clue.

It kinda makes me think I'm doing something wrong. Like why isn't it so obvious that I'm frum? Shouldn't my religion, my beliefs, pervade everything I do to such an extent that it's obvious to an outside observer? Well, shouldn't it?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bad Cookies and the Best of Friends

Once upon a time, a long time ago (and by long I mean, 15 hours), Eli7 was deeply, deeply nervous about something she would not find out about until somewhere between 5 and 7 a.m. She was nervous because it mattered to her. A lot. She could not sleep, could not concentrate, could not write her 20-page paper.

Her friend was visiting. Her friend had no connection at all to the thing Eli7 was so stressed out about. Her friend had plans for the next day and no reason to stay up until the wee hours of the morning with Eli7 and another very stressed-out, sleep-deprived person. Her friend had no reason to be baking cookies at 4:30 in the morning. (Note to self: it is a bad idea to bake cookies when you are too tired to follow directions. The cookies will not be good.) Her friend had no reason to be playing Trivial Pursuit at 5:30 in the morning (especially because this particular person loathes Trivial Pursuit). Her friend had no reason to putting up with Eli7's non-sensical rants about how much she hated things she really loved.

But Eli7's friend did all those things. She did them because she loves Eli7. She jumped up and down and screamed with Eli7 at some ungodly hour when Eli7 got the good news. (And then she went to bed.) She did all these things because she loves Eli7. A lot.

I knew that before last night/this morning/I have no clue what day it is anymore, but there are few people in the world who would do that for their friends. There are few people out there who would have put up with the hysterical me that was dominant last night. She did it because she cares. And I love her back. A lot.

On Newspapers, Doing What I Love, and Severe Sleep Deprivation

"Call it vanity, call it arrogant presumption, call it what you wish, but I would grope for the nearest open grave if I had no newspaper to work for, no need to search for and sometimes find the winged word that just fits, no keen wonder over what each unfolding day may bring."

People always tell you to find something you love doing, find something that makes you happy and productive. Well, I've been lucky enough to have found that by taking part in publishing a newspaper at Columbia. It is something that gives me an adrenaline rush I cannot describe, something that makes me ecstatic even in the face of severe sleep deprivation. (And by severe I mean I have gone to sleep after 9 a.m. for two of the last three nights.) It is the best thing I have done in college and defines my two and half years here more than any class I've taken or book I've read.

Last night/this morning (read: 6:45 a.m., but I fully maintain it's not morning till you've gone to sleep), I was given a fairly high position on that newspaper, and I could not be happier. I have truly found something I love. It makes me happy and fulfilled and excited and all things good ... and just a little tired.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy Holidays (Note: Not Meant to Incite Riots)

I know that a debate has been raging all over the blogosphere and elsewhere about the secularization of Christmas and the incredible lengths people will go to for political correctness and inclusiveness--but I don't want to talk about any of that. They put up the lights on College Walk last week and they're beautiful. They make me happy. That's it. No words of wisdom tonight. Just pretty lights.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Good Night Moon, Good Bye Political Correctness

I found this submission in the Times amusing. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. The question is to what extermes should we go for political correctness? Should we digitally edit out the cigar from the hands of the Goodnight Moon author? Should we edit all the other "inappropriate" things from the book too? Should we call freshmen first-years? Should we rename all our Secret Santa games Secret Non-Denominational Holiday Authority Figure? Should the Christmas tree become the holiday tree?

I don't know, but the article is cute. It made me happy. And that's a good thing.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

You Have One New Message

What would you do if you were seven-years-old and needed homework help and had called your big sister who is away at college six times in the last ten minutes and--the nerve!--she hadn't picked up the phone?

You'd call her back and leave a burp on her voice mail, of course.

Love Is What Matters to Me Matters to You

For the last month or so, all I have done is blab about a specific something (no, whatever you're thinking, it's not that, really) to a certain friend. Now, I know this friend couldn't care less about the specific issue--except that she cares about me. So she puts up with it.

We once had a teacher who quoted Rav Orloweck in saying, "love is what matters to you matters to me." Well, that's what she's doing by letting me talk and talk and talk about this one thing I'm really stressed out/excited about (it changes based on the day, the time, and my mood). She listens to anecdotes about people she will never know and frustrations about an activity that she does not call her own. With patience and caring.

Because she loves me, so it matters to her.

(But this does not mean you are off the hook. It just means I love you and appreciate you.)