Monday, June 30, 2014

On one of the tables in the kitchen there's a box of free stuff in which you will find the most bizarre items. This morning I found one of our digital artists digging in the box, like a nighttime critter, pulling red and purple promotional tee-shirts reading "Corporate Caribou," and flinging them over his shoulder. This image brought to mind the "Hefker Table" in Seminary, the way girls would attack the left over rugaluch from Shabbat and random "Mazel Tov" taffies.

Just below the shirts (the digital artist would later return to claim,) I found bottles upon bottles of red-white oxycodone capsules in familiar looking Rx prescription bottles. Not knowing whether I had stumbled upon some drug deal- the kind where Fat Eddie would jump from behind the snack machine while Joe Thin Knuckles pulled a gun out from the coffee filters- I began rummaging.

In this box-of-all-sorts, I beheld something so precariously asking for trouble, it would have the FDA, Child Services, and the women of The View fuming. Like the ramifications of fastening some red, lacy negligee onto a lamppost at the intersection of Meya Sherim and Geulah- it would cause nothing short of a civil war. These bottles were not filled with actual drugs- they were filled with pill shaped candies used as some company's marketing swag.

These  candy pills taught me a fundamental human lesson of deception.We live in an age where nothing is as it seems- where  immorality is distilled, bottled, and sold to us on every cable, print, and media outlet. In this world where men beat the women they say they love, and women ask to be taken seriously wearing shirts to their navel.

 In this upside-down society we call normality, I find it comforting that Judaism is the one religion that actively makes it difficult to convert. We put up stonewalls made of persistent rejection, months (even years) of Torah Study, interrogation by the Jewish court, circumcision, and countless ceremonies such as immersion in a tank of rainwater and contemporary versions of offerings made during the times of the Temple.

Judaism does not say believe in the Divinity of Christ as your waiver from burning in hell.
Judaism does not book you on your next ticket to Mecca during the Haj pilgrimage and say this is your ticket to absolution.

Judaism says "our way of life is not easy, you will need to make sacrifices, and yes, you really do need to snip down there." Judaism does not pretend to be something its not- it does not wield the next generation of over dosers. It says we are a nation who suffers aveilut together for the loss of z"l Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad and we can not and will not justify God's sentence. To do so, would be candied suicide.

A dose of reality

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Today was a rough day- there's no skirting around the details or sugarcoating of any kind- it was simply rough. On a typical weekday, I start my mornings by waking up at 7:25 a.m. This gives me enough time to make my bed, and get dressed, brushed, makeup-ed, packed, daven-ed, breakfast-ed, and waiting at the bus stop by 8:25.
The slits that were my eyes slowly widened- adjusting to my iPhone screen - and then began to bulge in fear: The clock read 8:13. With the gracefulness of a just-born calf, I rolled off the mattress and began dressing in a fury. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a gallon-sized Ziploc bag which I proceeded to spill the contents of my makeup bag into, along with my contacts, comb, tooth brush, and toothpaste. With my bed sheets scattered, but my fly zipped, I blindly dashed to the kitchen, with just enough time to throw breakfast, lunch, and a water-bottle into my backpack (Thank G-d for always packing my lunches the night before).

By 8:20 the alarm system was set, the door locked, and pupils transitioned to the morning sun. Dashing down the blocks, I stumbling to the busstop and arrived with a six minute window. Feeling my body go slack, I dropped my bag on the curb and called Mom.

Knowing that you've got to laugh to keep from crying- we both broke out in hysteric laughing. Had I a mirror with me- we would have laughed longer and harder. Needless to say when I got on the bus, the driver who usually complements my outfit or hairdo, was silent.

With 15 minutes to spare, I made a b-line for the bathroom, took out my hefty Ziploc and began my morning regimen right there in the communal office restroom. I paid no attention to the swinging door, nor the faces that emerged and watched my comical mascara/mouthwash juggling. I figured I could just hide for some time in my cubicle- then again- I was getting all made up, to sit in a cubicle.

When I finally sat down to my desk I thanked G-d for His merciful Providence. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply with a mind cleansing breath and focused on trying to make it a good day. Rejuvenated, I pressed my computer's 'start' button. The screen showed black. Apparently last time I turned it off I messed with a system control and it would take time for its software to reboot....................................................................

The rest of the day passed in confusion. One of my articles was sent back from editing and was unrecognizable from the work I had submitted. Midday, a girl at work asked to sit with me for lunch and we sat in the heat discussing a drunken mugging episode that happened to her by cocaine cartel goons during her alternative break in Ecuador (moral of the story- don't travel to Ecuador). Somewhere in all that, I got a sunburn and choked on a popcorn kernel.

It's days like these- dropping my  right contact lens on the communal bathroom floor- where all I can say is "Gam zoo l'tovah"-this too is good.

At least I'm not in Ecuador

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mazal Tov!! B'sha Tova! Thank you, thank you. As one would guess, I am now the proud parent of not one, not two, but nine baby spiders. Clearly, this is the result of  mixed dancing; there is no other logical explanation.

Now please don't take me as the deranged cat lady who lives next door always smelling of fish, or the green peace vegan who composts by day, smokes weed by night; I simply feel that nature should go undisturbed. It is for this reason that I refuse ibuprofen when I feel the onset of a headache, pass on any food or drink made with fake sweeteners, and have put the octomom to shame with the birth of my spider clan. I like to pretend that the world functions in harmony- that we all just want to catch fourth of July fireflies- and that humanity isn't cruel enough to perform acts of terror.

On June 12, three of my brothers were kidnapped from Gush Etzion in the West Bank. There names are Naftali Frankel (16, from Nof Ayalon), Gilad Shaer (16 from Talmon) and Eyal Yifrah (19 from Elad.)They were stolen by Hamas terrorists waiting for a hitchhike to go home.

During Shacharit this morning, I closed my glassy eyes, shut my turquoise siddur bought in Jerusalem at Manny's bookstore, and picked up the phone. It rang three times before I heard breathing on the other end. "Mom," I said, "I'm sorry about last night. I was being stupid, and I know you only want what's best for me." She waited for me to compose myself. "I was thinking about Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal just now- and -(choking back tears) I wondered what were the last words they had said to their parents. Mom, if God forbid anything were ever to happen to me, always know that I love you and Daddy. I'm sorry I don't always show it."

It was a profound moment for me this past Shabbat as we set up three candles- one for each of the missing boys- next to my candle. I thought of the empty chairs, the untouched soup,  the immense gap felt at each familys' tables now for the second Shabbat in a row.

 I thought of Schindler's List as well. In the movie, Oscar Schindler notoriously states, "Power is when we have every justification to kill- and we don't."
Kidnapping three helpless teenagers is what happens when humanity is no longer content to live in harmony- when catching fireflies, building forts, telling your mother you love her- is no longer enough. Why does humanity pervert itself to fiend-hood, and disturb the course of life? Money? Prestige? Salvation?

To my unfortunate brothers and all of Israel, may Hashem console us soon and return our boys. May the one who taught me to take pity on a few shower spiders, take pity on you as well.

The Possessor of Power #bringbackourboys

Monday, June 16, 2014

There's a spider living in my sink that I can't quite kill,so I let her live and called her Cleo. I can only assume she likes her ceramic Colosseum since she never climbs out to the counter-top. I'd like to think that I've allowed Cleo to make the sink her "crib," a bachelor pad of sorts, complete with her own sudsy toothpaste slip-and-slide. In the arachnid world, she's what they call, "made it big."

I find many of my co-workers are much like Cleo and her sink bowl. Ever day we are flooded with documents, phone calls, payrolls, complaints, critiques, emails, and so on, pouring through our cubicles. How does one adjust to these external pressures?  by making your workplace fit you. At the business firm I intern for, I am amazed at my co-workers' inventiveness at doing just that. I enjoy venturing from my cube just to see how others have created unique work sanctuaries within their 3 1/2 walls. One man has a standing desk- I cross his territory multiple times throughout the day, on the fluke chance I may witness him sitting and say "I knew it!" There's an office where the lights are completely turned off but for a small lamp that gives a faint light. The blue computer LED light is reflected off his mesmerized  face. There's the medieval cartoonist who adorns the walls with middle-aged memes, and the New York Giants fan who decorates his space with flags and Giants' shot glasses (gottah love those office Christmas parties). They each work to a rhythm, a detectable energy those in the HR department call business "synergy".

As for me, I have yet to figure out just what to put in my 36 square foot sanctuary. Perhaps a terrarium.

Works going well

Sunday, June 8, 2014

From the age-old mantra about those B.A. blasphemers, I've created a new mantra: "there are no atheists aboard Southwest planes."

Each time I wait to board the plane, the aerophobic within me starts calculating the amount of passengers, the amount of under-story cargo, and the overstuffed carry-on bags the couple in front of me clearly didn't put in the bin labeled "if it fits, it flies!"

My eyes scan the the man dunking a colossal Auntie Anne's pretzel in a gooey cheese dip, and calculate the pounds of artery buildup he's packing for the ride. Then I see the little red head kid bouncing to my right; now did he really need to bring his entire library with him?! Did he not consider how his callous stowaway might impact the drag and thrust forces on the plane and would forever implicate the lives of so many with Curious George Visits the Zoo tucked under his armpit? Education these days..

The flight was so bumpy it's a miracle I could even read Tfilat Ha'derech, the way the page was jack-hammering up and down.

That's when the conversations begin- the wagering, the bargaining. Extra hours of charity, torah study, more civility towards siblings, less gossip.There's something about being in the air that justifies a miniature Yom Kippur dynamic. Perhaps those of us becoming a little too lax in our Jewish practices need to experience a flight from hell such as this one, get our "heads out of the clouds," and experience total helplessness as never before; maybe then, we won't sweat the man in the yellow hat... or the men in the black ones either.

Aerospace101 for non-majors

Monday, June 2, 2014

If you were to quantify your Judaism, could you?

Jewish schools do that every year: a low, flat rate of $20,000 plus some blood pressure medication for your parents.

Supermarkets every week: a 47 dollar Glatt Kosher pot roast for Shabbat  (a certified blessed "arm and a leg")

Our careers every day: depleting precious vacation days for Shavout and explaining that you will fall off the computerized face of the world for two and a half business days.

And even quantifying  those precious seconds- those few heartbeats that pass while deliberating whether or not to open the door for the mashulach collecting for his daughter's wedding. Can you spare a shdickle shekel?

Consider the Jewish books, modest clothing,and ram phylacteries (try explaining that at college!). And let's not forget that oh so expensive wax to polish my horns. ( I no a guy, if you need some great wax!)

All I know after running preparatory Shavuot errands for my mom today, is that a Jewish lifestyle is expensive, and  I had better get reimbursed...

in debt over kugels

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Oh my. I guess one might say my blogging commitment  has been "on the fritz;" but I assure you, you are not my rebound, lest you fall under the assumption I've been blogging on the sly with that tramp "Tumblr" or the gypsy "Jewlicious."

 Finals are over, summer has begun, and I'm ready to devote myself once again for the embrace of your social stratosphere . (Wow, I'm beginning to sound like the guy in the movie Her, aren't I?)

Being home for summer break is like eating a salad someone else prepared for you: its good overall especially those rock'in avocado chunks, but you have to deal with the tomatoes. You eat them to be nice- just barley tolerating them- while consciously signaling your taste-buds and texture receptors to go on temporary auto-pilot.

Picnicking with  hometown friends is the fake bacon bits, access to home cooking night and day is the perfect amount of dressing, and pushing my niece and nephew on the swings is ripe avocado. Every late night studying, every terrible meal at Hillel, every time there was a family gathering I couldn't attend, made this summer salad all the sweeter.

But oh those rotten tomatoes.
The salad "c'"s as I call them:
The curfews: "Mom, I'm an adult now, you don't need to wait up for me."
The censorship: "Dad, legally 17 year-olds watch rated R movies."
The clothing: "Oh, I'm sure Jannet can take the hem of your dress down. You know, 'cause it's so short."

So it's great being home- as long as I can hit auto-pilot every now and then, inhale, rip the dress right off, stomp on it a few times, pick it up, dust it off, swallow, and smile. As long as there are more avocados then tomatoes in this guaca-home-le, it's worth the effort.

She waited up for me anyways