Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Heart PrezBo

That's Lee Bollinger--Columbia University president and renowned affirmative action lawyer--donning a T-shirt to support the environment. If he can't convince you to recycle, then no one can.

Jerusalem Is Calling

"My heart is in the East and I am at the ends of the West."

I booked airline tickets to Israel today. My first time in Israel was for my seminary year and I haven't been back since. I have wanted to go so badly, and now finally, I am going. I cannot wait to daven at the kotel, to buy seforim in Geula, to go to classes in Michlala and see my teachers, to walk through the Old City.

To me, Israel is inextricably bound to my seminary year. It is bound to Michlala and the spiritual growth and Torah learning that I did that year. Israel is a spiritual place that represents all things spiritual for me.

And I'm just a little bit worried. Maybe I've changed too much. Maybe I am not holy enough for Israel anymore. Will my teachers approve of who I am now. Because much as I have tried with all my might to hold onto what I learned--and I hope I have--I am not the same person I was when I donned my Michlala sweatshirt and boarded an El Al flight after ten months completely immersed in Torah.

I have spent the last three and a half years on a college campus and I do believe I have grown religiously. And I still think of myself as a good Michlala girl--I hope I always do. But going back means the people who I most respect get to judge who I've become. And that makes me just a little bit nervous.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Dream Job

Forty years from now, this is the job I want.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Things I Learned (or Re-learned) This Week

Crazy, busy week and another crazy, busy week coming up and clearly I am blogging instead of, like, fixing my resume or writing 500 words on why I love commas and em dashes or napping in the wake of my three hours of sleep last night. Because clearly that makes sense. Things I learned this week (cuz I'm too tired to have even not-so-deep thoughts):

  • The best time to write a paper is between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Diet coke means love.
  • Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them. (This after watching a whole bunch of them sink into a deep depression after watching the Mets lose last night.)
  • Sleep is overrated.
  • Rainboots are amazing. As are naps. I'm ready to go back to kindergarten.
  • I miss my sister. I miss Israel. I may be able to fix this problem in one fell swoop come January. *Fingers crossed.*
  • Several semi-entertaining anecdotes do not an essay make.
  • Homework pads are only useful if you check them.
  • In a few hours I can literally write seven pages about anything or nothing. This is mildly disturbing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When Good People Do Bad Things

Writing an essay for a creative writing class spurred this ...

There are lots of really stupid people at Columbia. (And they're worse than regular stupid people because they think they're smart and they're pretentious and know-it-all-like as well as being stupid. But I digress.) Overall I have been thoroughly impressed with Columbia students. They are smart and intelligent and ambitious. I'm convinced that they will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow.

And, yet, as college students they do a lot of things that, umm, aren't exactly Torah sanctioned. Things that are considered pretty bad--even abominations--by Torah standards. And I'm not all into the judging thing--I think people should do whatever they want, none of my business, God will judge. But at the same time, I want to insist that they're good people. Maybe they're good people doing things I believe are wrong--even really bad--but good people all the same. They are.

Are they?

Monday, October 16, 2006


Your smile Stares at me
From the framed photographs
On my wall
Your giggle
On repeat in my memory
What I would give
To rescue you
From a reality
You are too young to despise
Soon, you will grow up
And learn to hate
The life you’ve been handed
And me,
Who could not—
Would not?—
Rescue you

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Warm Sweatshirts and Cold Communities

It's hard to be an Orthodox Jew without a community, right? That's what they always tell you. That's probably the most important factor in looking for jobs for next year (can we just discuss how much I don't want to get a job and enter the real world?). Judaism is a communal religion. Well, that's what they say. But I wonder...

While home for the Yamin Noraim I realized that I don't have a community.

When I go home, I pretty much stay at home--I keep in touch with very few pre-seminary friends, and none of the ones I do keep in contact with live at home anymore. My parents don't even daven at the shul we davened at when I was younger, and while it is the shul I go back to, I know almost no one there--even the rabbi is new--so I tend to head out pretty much the second davening is over. Not having distractions is great for my tefilah, it is sort of disappointing.

And much as I love Columbia with all my heart and soul--and I really, really do--the frum community here is definitely not my community. Their sweatshirts last year read, "A warm sweatshirt for a cold community," and let's just say I've found that to be somewhat true. Which is fine. I always had a place to daven on campus and kosher food to eat and really that's all I needed from the Hillel--I found other places and other things to fill my time here. The frum community here is great for some people, but for many reasons it's not a place I indentify with.

So, I don't really have a community. And maybe I don't need one. Maybe I do. But I know that I want one. That if I'm going to go off on my own and find a job next year, I should do that in a place with a good community--one that I feel comfortable in. And maybe I could be a frum Jew without it. But real communities provide more than kosher food and a minyan, and I want one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

2 a.m. Emotional Jumble: Stupid People and Sprinklers

Emotional overload. So, I sit down to write this post and have no idea where to start or what I want to say, only that I want to write. A jumble of emotions, not an organized list of random thoughts. We're devolving. There is no we, just me. My friend says that graduating is death--that my graduating is like my dying to her. I don't want to graduate. Or die. But I do want to know what I would like from my life--journalism? Do I really want to edit for the rest of my life? I can't imagine my life without it. I also can't imagine my life with 4-to-midnight working hours for the rest of my life. It's no way to raise a family. If I get the chance to raise a family. But maybe law? And suffer through the LSATs and take the chance of getting in trouble because I don't go by my legal name and go into ridiculous debt and enter the corporate rat race. Yes, maybe that's what I want. Right, except instead I've chosen to thoroughly disappoint pretty much every grown-up relative I have. But if I weren't disappointing them, I'd be disappointing myself. Should I teach for America? I hate stupid people. I don't want to take two years off from the rest of my life. I cannot deal with stupid people. I repeat. But they recruited me. They want me. There's something sort of appealing about that. About being wanted. Also about giving back. About not being a selfish, greedy student. About caring for others. I don't know what I care about most. I need priorities. I need a trip to Israel. I need FunTak for the pictures falling off of my wall. I miss my friends. I have lost touch with too many friends. I don't understand my friends anymore and they don't understand me. Except when they do. Do they? I want it to rain so I can wear my new boots. I can't decide if I like my new boots. I don't have a community anymore. I will miss exhausted 3 a.m. walks across campus to my dorm through the sprinklers on College Walk staring at the lit library marveling at the fact that there are always people inside studying and that I was given a chance to study here and that I love it. I am afraid to leave it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pre-Sukkot Ramblings

I seem to not have the patience or the time for long, thought-out posts. Oh well. For now, we'll have to keep up the random thoughts of the day thingy. Hey, at least I'm blogging again.

  • I am an Indian giver. I gave someone something/s and now I'm taking it all back. Should I feel bad about it? Do I?
  • Crucifixion is not fun -- especially if you're the one being nailed to the cross. I care too much. I take things too personally. (Can you take your own crucifixion too personally?)
  • From an outsider's perspective, Sukkot is a bizarre holiday.
  • I'm going to Boston for the first time ever.
  • I am going to Baltimore and D.C. in a month -- to see some friends and, umm, a Supreme Court justice. How cool is that?
  • I have a ridiculous number of newspapers in my room. I should start having time to read the newspaper again.
  • Columbia is awash in protests and press and stuff, proving if nothing else that while violence may not be a good solution, it is a way to get noticed.
  • Computer logins make me happy, semicolons make me sad, bad grammar makes me [sic].
  • I do not want to graduate, I do not want to find a job, I do not want to grow up. I want to be a Toys 'r' Us kid.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quote of the Day: On Ivy Leaguers

From one of the founders of IvyGate in an interview from the NY Sun:

"There's nothing Ivy Leaguers like reading about more than themselves ... It's true from day one of freshmen year until their deaths."

(Though I would note that it should probably be "freshman year" and not "freshmen year" ...)

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm Baaaack (And Random Thoughts: The People-Are-Good Edition)

So... It has been a little over a month since my last post. Which is utterly insane. I did not intend to stay away from my blog for this long and I don't intend on doing it again. I missed my blog. (But when you're choosing between food and sleep and schoolwork, well, blogging just does not come into the picture...) Anyhow, my unexcused leave of absence had nothing to do with anything exciting--just an overwhelming crush of back-to-school stuff plus newspaper stuff plus Yamim Noraim. And there you have it. So, I'm back. Maybe not as frequently as I'd like to be, but back.

A few random lessons learned over my unintentional blog hiatus:

  • "I have friends who love me. They know just where I stand." When a friend halts her Shabbos meal, walks all the way across campus and up 8 flights of stairs just to make sure you're OK, well, she's special. And you're very lucky.
  • I'm not a great faster. Let's just say I get VERY cranky without food. But my sister sent me a dvar Torah that talked about the fact that we fast and we have a yom tov where melacha is forbidden so that Yom Kippur can be solely about cultivating a relationship with Hashem and doing teshuva. That inspired me. And while I went into Yom Kippur wholly unprepared (note to self: NEVER let that happen again), I had a meaningful, spiritual day thanks at least in part to that thought from my sister. I have good siblings, too.
  • Yom Kippur is a hard day. But it can be amazing too. Utterly amazing. I mean, we get a chance to beg for forgiveness and start anew. Wow. I'm in awe. (I could make some awful pun but I will refrain.)
  • My mom knows me so well it's scary. My birthday present, which she just gave me: Trivial Pursuit Book Lover's Edition. She said next time I'm home she'll play and let me cream her (which is never as easy as it sounds).
  • I am in awe of people who are willing to admit their mistakes. Especially people who are willing to do it face to face. So the person who waited all summer to find me in person and apologize for something that happened last semester has my utmost respect and admiration.
  • Never underestimate positive feedback and encouragement. (And always remember that your Gmail away messages/suicide threats may be viewed by people who need to give you that feedback.)
  • 5 a.m. is not an acceptable bedtime. Coffee is not an acceptable substitute for sleep. Wikipedia is not an acceptable substitute for doing one's reading. Granola bars are not breakfast. String cheese is not dinner.
  • I am awful--awful--at tennis. Let's just say I wasn't quite blessed in the hand-eye-coordination department. I am being slowly humbled by a racket and some bouncy green balls.
  • Fire alarms are not fun. Especially at midnight when you are this close to the shower and your warm, inviting bed.
  • Geography--I don't know it. At all. And I need to. By Wednesday at 10 a.m. Off to study the map of the U.S. Maybe I should sue my elementary school for believing--and convincing me--that New York is the center of the universe and the only place you need to know.