Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coffee = Liquid Sleep

Taylor the latte boy,
Bring me java, bring me joy ...
Who'd have thought that love could be so caffeinated?

I used to have a plan that involved a friend working at a coffee shop so as to provide me with free coffee. This seemed like really fabulous, money-saving plan for me. My friends, ahem, would-be-baristas were less convinced. 

I once ventured even further and suggested that perhaps a guy who worked at a coffee shop would be perfect for me because I could get free coffee and he would smell like coffee, which is a pretty amazing thing to smell like.

(At which point my friend told me I was sick or ridiculous or both. Which is probably true, but beside the point.)

This song about falling in love with "Taylor the latte boy" (lyrics above) makes the same assertion that dating someone who works at a coffee shop would be fantastic. I mean, the song doesn't actually make that assertion, but it almost does. And it's true.

Time for a coffee break. (One of the things about being a copy editor is that I have coffee breaks when other people are leaving -- or have left -- work.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Something to Brighten Your Monday

This is old, but I'd never seen it before and it's hilarious and, if nothing else, should cheer up your Monday (coffee is also suggested). Also, the casts of Broadway shows have a bowling league. I have no interest in bowling, but who wants to go with me to watch?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hello, My Name Is ...

After four years at Columbia -- where large meals (20+) and long, rambling name games were par for the course -- I have cultivated a relatively strong dislike (I was going to put hatred, but that's probably a little bit extreme) for name games.

Some of the ones I've encountered, though not necessarily played (you can judge whether they're the best or the worst):

  • What did your childhood smell like?
  • If you were in a room with 5-year-olds with an intent to kill, how many of them could you take? (You can find your answer here.)
  • Favorite punctuation mark. (OK, that one's sort of amazing. For bonus points, you can guess mine.)
  • If you were a section in Wal-Mart, what section would you be?
  • Name a stereotype of the high school/Israel school/college the person sitting next to you attended.
Suggested name game for the meal I was at for Shabbos lunch: Who at this table have you dated?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Living the Question

Quotes I like lately, not for their relevance so much as for their prose.

"Let that be the poetry we search for: worn with the hand's obligations, as by acids, steeped in sweat and in smoke, smelling of the lilies and urine, spattered diversely by the trades that we live by, inside the law or beyond it."

-Pablo Neruda

"Why sadder but wiser? Why not happier and wiser? What else could wisdom be? She drank coffee black. She would not fall apart."
-Annie Dillard

"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."
-Rainier Maria Rilke

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dying Mourning the Dead?

Reporter friend: Remember when we were going into a dying profession and all our friends who were going into i-banking were going to make lots of money?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם

This post has evolved. Originally, it was supposed to be about how I was sad I don't have the skills to learn gemara and how my high school failed me in not giving me those skills. Then, it was going to be about how I miss learning and how I sort of want to learn for the year even though halting my life for a year feels crazy. Then it was going to be about how there are no good learning opportunities for me, partially because I don't have gemara skills, mostly because I am female. Then it was going to be about how I am unsure about how I feel about taking a Torah class in an institution where I feel hashkafically uncomfortable.

So, now this post is about all of these things, which probably means it isn't really be about any of those things and totally lacks transitions.

My only real gemara learning (and you can decide whether or not it was actually real) happened in my senior year of high school. Until then, we had learned little snippets of gemara off photocopied source sheets. After that, in seminary, we learned little snippets of gemara off photocopied source sheets.

And I don't want to denigrate the learning I did in high school and seminary -- it was often intellectual and almost always text-based -- but it wasn't gemara. And a single year of gemara learning puts me on the level of a fifth grade boy, give or take. I think I would very much enjoy learning gemara in a different way than I have enjoyed the Torah learning I have done up until now and am sad I don't have the skills to do so.

Now, faced with a year of doing something I don't love (or, rather, doing something I love at a place I do not love), it occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to take a year off and learn.

After all, I spent four years at Columbia getting an excellent secular education, and, if all works out as planned, I will spend another five to seven years on my secular education. Shouldn't I devote my brain to some intensive Torah study as well?

But then again, as a woman who is post-college who does not have viable gemara skills, my learning options are severely limited. (I recognize that even if I did have gemara skills, my options would not be amazing and certainly there have been opportunities in the past five years that I have not taken advantage of. End disclaimer.)

It is unfortunate that I am not able to study Torah as intensely as I was able to study political science and creative writing. Shouldn't my Torah education be just as thorough?

Then again, shouldn't my lust for Torah knowledge be just as deep? I know that it is not. That I did not make as much time as I should have for learning when I was at Columbia, that much as there is something almost romantic to me about taking a year off to learn Torah, I probably will not do it even though I think nothing of spending five years on a degree that will only be semi-useful in the real world.

I have decided to take a Torah course this fall, which I am excited about. (That combined with a revived chavrusa with my sister -- if I can get my hands on the sefer I need -- is, if nothing else, a good Elul resolution.)

I am unsure, though, of how I feel about the institution where I am taking the class. Should I be frequenting an institution where I have to check out each teacher to make sure I will be comfortable in his or her class? Where the first reassurance a friend gave me about a teacher was "It's not apikorsut" because it was clear that that might be a concern?

And certainly I am not looking for an exact hashkafic match in a teacher or school. But I do not want to be learning Torah in an environment where I have to be constantly asking myself if everything taught is in line with my most basic beliefs -- not because that's not a worthy, though risky, pursuit but because that's really not the experience I am looking for right now.

That's all I've got for now.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Go Heart Your Own City

New Yorkers hate tourists.

They walk too slowly, stop to take pictures in the middle of the sidewalk, and never know where they are going. They get in the way of the things that need to get done in The City. New Yorkers don't like sharing their city.

This weekend though I was very much the tourist -- I hung out in Times Square, went to the M&Ms store, went boating in Central Park, went to other parts of Central Park, walked down Fifth Avenue, etc. All of which was actually quite pleasant (though the video my roommate has of me trying to row a boat in Central Park shall remain hidden from public view).

The truth, of course, is that it was the company that made the day so enjoyable, but I might have to admit that being a tourist was maybe a little bit fun as well. A little.

I'm still not sold on the tourist thing, and because my anal retentive side (or, as I told a friend today, "I don't think I have an anal retentive side. I am all anal retentive") loves lists, a list of tourist things I have not done -- and proud of it:

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Empire State Building
  • Knock-off shopping in Chinatown (I have been to Chinatown and walked past all the knock-offs, but I don't think that counts)
  • Shakespeare in the Park (not sure how touristy this is, and I'm actually really sad I haven't done it)
  • Staten Island ferry (because really why would you want to get to Staten Island?)
  • Coney Island (this one, alas, may be a lost cause)
  • FAO Schwarz
  • Ice skating at Rockefeller Center
  • Madam Tussauds
  • Brooklyn Bridge (I've seen it but have not walked across it)
  • Little Red Lighthouse (considering I live about five seconds away from it, this is sort of pathetic)
  • Yankee Stadium

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

In Which I Find a New Hero

If you are a reporter, or even a concerned citizen, you probably couldn't go wrong choosing Dana Priest as your hero. She has been nominated for and won multiple Pulitzers, most recently for reporting on Walter Reed, and is just an all-around fantastic journalist.

I dub her my hero today, however, for what she told The Washington Post's ombudsman for a depressing column about how reporters love copy editors and are sad to see them go (translation: reporters are slowly realizing that copy editors save their butts day in and day out).

She said:

"Throughout my 22 years at the paper, copy editors have frequently interrupted my family dinner or my goodnight reading with the kids, and those rereading front-page proofs have woken me up, often after 11:30 p.m., to ask to change the smallest of things. I can only hope I have remembered to thank them each and every time, even as I've tried to fall back to sleep. They are meticulous and pride themselves, as they should, on catching the mistakes of those of us who make much more money and get much more credit for the collective daily work known as The Washington Post."

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Monday, September 01, 2008

'Tis the Season

I find the whole Bristol Palin pregnancy thing especially interesting in light of the mess McCain made in 2000 when asked what he would do if his daughter Meghan got pregnant.