Saturday, November 25, 2006

On Black Friday, Crazy Americans, and Disappointment

My computer is slowly dying. Which is bad. So, my dad had this brilliant idea of going to find a new one on Black Friday when everything would be on sale. Good idea. I was totally up for it. My father asked if I was willing to wait on line in the cold for two hours while he slept in the car. I was. We picked through the ads, picked a few computers at two stores that looked promising and left the house at 3 a.m.

We got to the mall at about 3:15 and drove up to Best Buy, where we found a parking lot full of hundreds of people who looked like they'd moved in, complete with tents, blankets, and small children. We moved on to Circuit City where the line was shorter, though not quite short. My dad looked skeptical. I said I wanted to wait, my iPod and Japanese literature coursepack to keep me company. He retired to the car for a nap.

Two hours later, shivering and with some frozen toes, we got into the store. Only to find more lines. After utter exhaustion and disappointment, we left without a computer. My father expressed awe at my ability to stay in the cold that long to which I replied he underestimated my determination to get a working computer.

We ordered one online in the comfort and warmth of my home tonight. But I would venture that waiting on line in the cold on Black Friday is part of the American experience--the insane American experience, but the American experience nonetheless. So, I am now fully American. Or just fully insane.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New York City! (or Eli7 Gets Sad About Graduating)

I have a confession to make. I've never been to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I've lived on Long Island--about an hour away from The City--for essentially my whole life. I've lived in The City for the past three and half years. And I have never done a million of the things that are quintessentially New York. I've never been to the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. I've spent woefully little time in Central Park or the Met or MoMA. I haven't explored the different neighborhoods that make up this city. I haven't bought a fake Coach bag in SoHo or taken nearly enough subways at 2 a.m. I've never been on the Staten Island ferry.

I love New York. For its diversity, for its multitude of opportunities, for its multiculturalism, for its culture, for its museums, for its 24-hour fast-paced existence, for the people, for everything it is. But I have not nearly taken advantage of this city. Come this time next year, I don't know where I'm going to be. I don't know if I'm going to have the opportunity to go to the Thanksgiving Day Parade then.

I was reminded of this last year. But it's time to take action--take advantage of this city. While I still have the chance to do so.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I've spent a lot of time working on Macs (they're the choice of newspapers everywhere) and I know a lot of people who have Macs (I'm not sure if this is a Columbia phenomenon or what), and though I like my PC (when it's not broken and insanely slow like it is now), I have been jealous of Widgets. (Kudos to the longest, most broken up by parentheses sentence ever.)

But I just discovered and downloaded Yahoo! Widgets and am in on the fun. Or the procrastination--same thing.

Take that, Mac elitists.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Baclav = Bill Clinton + Vaclav Havel

Up there with really, really cool things: Hearing Bill Clinton speak with former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, moderated by PrezBo. Sort of amazing. I heart Columbia.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don't Be So Open-minded That Your Brains Fall Out

What does it mean to be tolerant and open-minded and diverse?

Now that my ten readers have just lost interest...

There's a lot of talk about diversity at Columbia and specifically at a group I'm part of. And the bottom line is that Columbia is not particularly unique. Call it the most diverse Ivy League university but that doesn't really mean very much. We may be ten blocks away from Harlem, but the fact that the Harlem community is none too pleased with Columbia says something. The extracurricular I work on is the most color-blind place I can imagine but that alone doesn't make it any more diverse. I spent a Shabbos meal today with a group of seemingly very nice people who had some very, let's just say, politically incorrect things to say.

Which brings up a whole other issue of what it means to be frum and tolerant.

Because how can I justify the fact that I was appalled at the Shabbos-table conversation when I think a gay pride parade in Yerushalayim is a travesty? Which is not to say I would have been out there throwing rocks--I most certainly would not have been. And while I'm always sad at the bad press my group gets for not being diverse enough, I know that we're color blind and I don't know how to solve the problem--or even how far out of our way we should go to solve the problem. But then again, I do think it's a problem.

Where does that leave me? I think people have the right to make their own life decisions and so long as that decision does not negatively hurt other people I think they have the right to be respected regardless of how they choose to live their lives. People have inherent worth and people should be respected even if they've made choices that wouldn't be my own.

I think we learn from people who have different values and different life experiences than we do. And I believe in equal opportunity--to succeed, to get into college, to participate in extracxurriculars, to get jobs, to achieve your dreams--which means not discriminating ever. But it also means evaluating people based on talent and effort, not skin color.

I don't believe in stereotyping whole groups of people, no matter what their race or ethnicity or religion. None of those things make you a killer or a saint or good or bad or in between. I believe in judging people for who they are, not what they are.

I also believe that respect is reciprocal. I will respect you for making a lifestyle choice I don't agree with but don't spit in my face or be resentful that it's a choice I don't agree with. Be respectful of my choices as well.

I guess I haven't quite been brainwashed by the evil liberal Columbia University yet...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Shape of an "L" on Her Forehead

My 8-year-old sis: Where are you that you need to take an airplane?
Me: I'm at school, but I'm going to Washington for the weekend.
Sis: What are you doing in Washington?
Me: Meeting a Supreme Court justice
Sis: Loser