Monday, June 29, 2009


You know what I want? I want the newspaper's "imminent death" to stop being the punch line of jokes, because it's not funny.

Deep Thoughts: The It's Finally Sunny Edition

  • If I ever teach a creative writing class, which seems unlikely but you never know, I will give my students an assignment to take Abba's repertoire and write a show with a better—by which I mean even remotely cohesive—plot than Mamma Mia. That said, the Mamma Mia soundtrack does make for an excellent dance/karaoke party at 3 a.m.
  • Media Mail is going to be my savior, as it will get my books to my new home without costing a fortune. I'm not really sure how I'll be able to afford to ship all my shoes there, though.
  • A copy desk shout-out at Slate's The Big Money! (It's not every day that copy editors get mentioned in print—or the Web equivalent—so this is very exciting.)
  • Overheard [in a frum setting]: "So these more modern girls come to the program. I don't mean modern; I mean growing."
  • If you're a politician, I don't care whether or not you have had an affair and cheated on your wife. It's a very, very awful thing to do, but I just plain don't want to know. (I know, I know, Michael Jackson's death has totally eclipsed all the other events of last week, so you're reading this and asking what the heck I am talking about.)
  • Goodbyes are hard.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guilt Tripping

[Amid my 4-year-old brother's chants of "Don't move! Don't move!"]
7-year-old brother: Can I move to California with you?
Me: Well, no. Because I'm going to be in school, and who would help you with your homework and take you to school and get you dressed...
7-year-old brother: You.
Me: I don't think that's a good idea. But remember how we bought that webcam today so that you can still see me and talk to me, right? And that will be so cool.
7-year-old brother: No. It's not the same. I want to go with you.
My mother [to the 7-year-old]: But don't you think I'd miss you if you move to California?
7-year-old brother: You can use the webcam.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Washington Heights Dating Scene

In a T-shirt.

I offer as proof that of the four girls who once lived in my apartment at the same time, three of us had dated the same guy. And there were multiple other guys whom two of us had dated. In fact, on a recent first date, a guy mentioned that he had dated a former roommate of mine. And then went on to tell me about that date. You can buy the shirt here. I'm sure it will look just as classy with a three-quarter-sleeve shirt underneath.  

For Your Caffeinated Pleasure

A friend sent this to me, and it is truly amazing. And by amazing I mean disturbing in that it, um, mixes Muppets, violence, and coffee. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm going to get some coffee now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happily Ever After

I saw this picture from this Fallen Princesses project, and though I know this is Snow White, I was reminded of these lines from Anne Sexton's "Cinderella" poem:

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.

Deep Thoughts: The I'm a Mac Edition

  • I have a beautiful new Mac. It is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever owned. (Now if only I can get all my files off my very-dead old laptop, my computer life would be perfect.) Also, it is cut from one solid piece of aluminum, much like the menorah in the Mishkan was cut from one solid piece of gold, except, you know, not as miraculous or anything like that.
  • In which my decision to go back to school is justified by the amazing nap opportunities I will have in the library: "[I[n my experience, the high temple of napping is the university library. It is a place so good for sleep that it comes close to justifying the whole pursuit of higher education."
  • My life goal, at one point, was to make enough money to afford a mode of transportation that was not Greyhound. I haven't really gotten there yet (or ever?), though I currently aim for Bolt Bus. But I do tend to agree with the assertion that "Not only are these train or plane types spending more money than is strictly necessary—a sure sign of moral inferiority—but they have failed to learn the supremely useful, difficult-to-master art of distinguishing among the baser things in life." So, yeah, I have that.
  • Also, this woman is cruel. Absolutely evil. But I do sympathize with her Coke problem: " 'I never saw a prettier shade of red than a can of Coca-Cola,' she says wistfully, then adds with a smirk: " 'I have a little Coke problem, and it kills me to say it.' " Though maybe Diet Coke—my weakness—doesn't count as junk food, so she wouldn't snatch it away from her children as she prevents them from having any fun at all?
  • And new recession trend: Spending a ridiculous amount on your wedding to make it look like you didn't spend too much.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Have Perfected the First Date

Or, rather, I have perfected the surrounding environs:
  1. Coffee pre-game. Because everything is better when you're caffeinated. (One could argue that sleep is an exception to that rule, but, well, I wouldn't be that one.)
  2. Date.
  3. Ice cream after-party with other friends who have just returned from first dates. (We considered asking a random girl who none of us knew who we saw getting dropped off if she wanted to join, but we decided that might be a bit weird.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Well, Coffee Is Great Stuff

Editor: I love how your notebook is so battered. You must have written some great stuff in there.
Me: Nah, I've just spilled a lot of coffee on it.
Editor: It's pretty much the same thing.

Friday, June 05, 2009

'Not All Shoes Provoke Feelings of Love and Derangement'  "[N]ot all shoes provoke feelings of love and derangement. Sensible shoes—stubby walkers; rubberized clods—do not inspire the sort of shoe lust that causes lapses in fiscal sanity or potential girl fights."
These shoes definitely inspired in me if not fiscal insanity, the insanity that comes from thinking one can walk on 4.5-inch stilts. Especially considering one of the shuls I go to is up a rather steep hill. I haven't done it yet in the shoes, but I suspect it will be epic.

(Though to be honest, I found this description of party shoes in the article that contained the above quote more interesting—"feathery, mile-high spangle-y things made of sex and Christmas trees"—mostly because I'm not sure what it means for a shoe to be made of sex and not sure what that means for my complete rejection of some unnamed people's assertion that shoes can be not tzanua. Is a shoe that is "made of sex" tzanua? Also, I still hate transliteration.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What If God Is Sexist?

Women today grow up knowing we can be anything we want to be—doctor, lawyer, CEO, president. Never mind that the last election perhaps imbued girls with the sense that they could be anything, but not quite president. Orthodox women today grow up knowing we can be anything we want to be except rabbi or tefillin-wearer or ba'al koreh or, in some circles (not mine, I should note), Talmud-learner.


Certainly, approaches have changed, and women have found more of a place within the realms of halacha in the Jewish community than they have had in the past, and that is fantastic and should continue, but there are things that so far as I can tell Jewish law can never let women do or be. Like a witness in beit din. Like a member of a minyan.


Which leads to the question: What if the God and religion I believe in are sexist?


It seems pretty clear to me that some semblance of gender roles and what we would call sexism are inherent in Orthodox Judaism. Judaism's approach toward women is different than its approach toward men: We have different (read: lesser) obligations than men have. And arguments like the one made by an Orthodox rabbi in response to the first female black rabbi that "Orthodox Jews have the highest respect for women and they play the most important role—to raise a true Torah Jewish family" are, well, disingenuous at best. 


Not because I don't think raising a family is important but because I want to be valued for my intellect, for my commitment, for my ambition, for my ability, not for my physical ability to bear children or for raising them. (Not to mention that I don't think raising children is solely the woman's domain.) I want the same things in my religious life that I have in my secular life.


I believe in feminism in the secular world. I believe that women should be considered equal in the work force, that women should be given equal opportunities, that women have equal abilities. But what if religion doesn't play by those rules? 


I may not understand all the laws I believe are divine, but if I believe they are divine, then I need to accept them. Which doesn't mean accepting mothering and homemaking as my role in Judaism (more on feminism within Orthodoxy at a later date), but it does mean that while I will not tolerate sexism in any other realm, I have to accept some sort of gender roles in religion as ideal.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance

An excerpt from a commencement speech at Berkley's journalism school commencement because graduation—and graduation speeches—make me all warm and fuzzy inside, even if I do sort of think journalism degrees are stupid:
Which brings me back to the subject of journalism as a profession. We are not part of an elite. We are part of the working class, which is exactly how journalists have seen themselves through most of American history—as working stiffs. We can be underpaid, we can be jerked around, we can be laid off arbitrarily—just like any autoworker or mechanic or hotel housekeeper or flight attendant.

But there is this difference: A laid-off autoworker doesn't go into his or her garage and assemble cars by hand. But we—journalists—we can't stop doing what we do.

As long as there is a story to be told, an injustice to be exposed, a mystery to be solved, we will find a way to do it. A recession won't stop us. A dying industry won't stop us. Even poverty won't stop us because we are all on a mission here. That's the meaning of your journalism degree. Do not consider it a certificate promising some sort of entitlement. Consider it a license to fight.

Also, by far the most unfortunate thing about my soon-to-be school is that my academic regalia will forevermore be this color:
Don't ask me what the best thing is because, well, it may or may not be for public consumption.