Thursday, October 29, 2009

Los Angeles: A Photo Essay

The only thing missing is a picture of Coffee Bean. Next time, perhaps.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Deep Thoughts: The 2 a.m. Class Edition

Week 12 in L.A., but who's counting?

  • Community colleges are apparently gaining lots of popularity (for two economy-related reasons: People are losing their jobs and so are going back to school, and people can't afford four-year colleges). To accommodate this popularity, community colleges are adding late-night classes, the NYT tells us. Class that lasts until 2:30 a.m. This seems bizarre but at least somewhat sensical for classes like literature and psych. Two a.m. welding, however, sounds more than slightly dangerous.
  • Being grown-up means  making yourself chicken soup when you're sick.
  • Grade inflation. It exists.
  • The great thing about ice cream parties is there is often a kosher option (ice cream bars!). Also, fun fact learned at said ice cream party: Snickers is the most popular candy bar. Who would have thought?
  • "We're all sort of off—because we're here." —A Professor

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vote Early, Vote Often

Vote for my apartment's story here. We could win a new Billy, which would pretty much be the best thing that has happened to me since I moved to L.A. (That's not entirely true, but I'll take pity votes as well.) To vote, you need to register for the site here, then log in through the e-mail they send you, then you should see a voting widget on the post here.

Do it because you love me. Or because I provide you with free entertainment on this blog. Or because you don't want to hear me whining about losing while I gloat about L.A.'s weather.

(Also, proof-positive that my 17-year-old sister needs some brainwashing: When I explained the contest to her and asked her to vote, her response was, "sure, haha a bookcase is all u win?")

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Bad Kiruv

[I've been mulling this post for a while, partially because I haven't had actual time to write (not that I do now either) and partially because I wanted to make absolutely certain that I say this right. So, here goes, but I just want to make sure on the outset to clarify that I do not mean to offend anyone who reads this blog, that this post does not refer to anyone who I know reads this blog, and that I would love to hear from those of you who have more informed comments on this topic. End disclaimer.]

I have the utmost respect for ba'alei teshuva. Both my parents are ba'alei teshuva and every once in a while one of them says something that makes me realize how hard it was for them. And I recognize that I cannot even begin to fathom how hard it is to turn your life upside down like that. I have no idea if I would be able to do it and am thankful that I am an FFB—and am in awe of my friends who are ba'alei teshuva.

But I have very little respect for some kiruv organizations. Organizations whose members will go up to students on a college campus and ask if they are Jewish and then bring them to a beautiful Shabbat meal but then sort of let them float, not helping them find their way and never letting them know that there is something in between not religious and charedi. Seminaries that spend a year emphasizing tzniut and being shomer negiah (not bad things in and of themselves) but send girls home not even knowing what a lulav and etrog are and without a support system of any kind. Kiruv organizations that tell people they are frum as soon as the guy puts on a yarmulka and the girl puts on a skirt and then try to marry them off before they know how to keep a kosher kitchen.

Kiruv organizations have a responsibility to do it right if they're going to do it. Sending the newly mekarev-ed back home with a commitment to the beauty of the fluffy stuff without the support system and without the knowledge or venues to obtain the knowledge that is required to actually be frum is asking for these people to fail.

And that is awful for the people who are so attracted to orthodoxy and awful for the Jewish community.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Deep Thoughts: The Over-Reaching Edition

Student1: Yeah, the West Coast should have two Ivy Leagues: Stanford and USC.


Student2: Our generation is like the craziest generation.


Student3: Eh, you shouldn't sleep; it's a waste of time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Billy

By popular request. Apparently, it's Ikea's Billy's 30th birthday. There's a Billy story contest here, but, alas, it is only open to U.K. residents, so my Washington Heights Billy story—which included a sketchy YU guy, beer stains, the red shoes, and fabulous friends carrying a bookcase across Washington Heights and down a hill to a very happy home in my apartment where we called it Billy, obviously (it eventually had a friend, Taylor the vacuum cleaner)—will remain untold there. A pity, really.

Why I Shouldn't Be Perusing Cafe Press at 1 a.m.

I am not into tacky license plate frames or bumper stickers or whatnot, but I totally want this:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Open Cabinets and Empty Toilet Paper Rolls

I have lots of bloggy things to catch up on (and lots of actual people to catch up with), but right now I am suffering post-yom tov/post-amazing-friend-visit work overload, so I will just say this:

I am not the best roommate in the world. I have long, loud phone conversations. I don't make my bed when I'm rushed in the morning. I am anal retentive about a lot of things, but a sparkling clean toilet bowl has never been one of them. I keep weird hours. I am more than unfriendly until I have my morning coffee. My books take up a lot of space. When I am rushed in the morning, I sometimes leave open the cabinet that houses the sugar after doctoring my coffee. I may be slightly obsessed with the colors pink and orange (though since I got to L.A., I have moved on to brown, green, and blue). I am pretty good about replacing empty toilet paper rolls, but my track record is not perfect.

But, by my count, I have lived with 24 people I am not related to for the span of at least three months each (and up to over two years). Some of those roommates (including all of those who read this blog) were amazing and some were less than amazing, but I was never actually yelled at by any of them, which must mean something, right?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Deep Thoughts: The Terrifying Experience Edition

  • Professor comments: "Graduate school is a series of terrifying experiences" (yup); "You're approaching this paper like a journalist" (well...); "You are in the process of becoming world experts" (I feel more like I am in the process of failing statistics, but...).
  • It is cold. In L.A. I am wearing a sweater. I put on the heat in my car. I did not bargain for this. I'm feeling sort of duped: I didn't move to L.A. to wear sweaters in October. If this continues, the only good thing about L.A. will be Coffee Bean (which is a really good thing, but I'm not sure it can justify the move).
  • Having friends visit is fun. Hint, hint.
  • People keep asking me what is the one thing I miss most about New York, and I feel sort of pathetic but the honest answer is that I miss feeling in my element. A friend in my program called it having her support network. It's sort of lonely to have to make Shabbos and yom tov plans every week, to know that when you're getting antsy at 10 p.m., your friends are on their way to bed, to be asked by your little brother, "Are you ever going to come see me?" <End feeling sorry for myself>
  • Statistics. It's hard. I have stooped to ordering Statistics for Dummies books. We'll see if they help.
  • Just about nine weeks in L.A. But who's counting? (I just looked at a calendar and realized it will be more than nine weeks before winter break. And then I freaked out. Time to look for cheap flights and a weekend I can leave for without failing school.)