Tuesday, January 20, 2015

13 Truths About Winter Break

13 Truths About Winter Break

1. Expect to do you own laundry: realize that you can no longer use the excuse that A. you were never taught or B. you don't want to break the machine. Try out C. "but you're so good at it."

2. Discover that sleep-overs get more fun as you age. Laugh at the ridiculousness of four grown friends as they each respond to the command, "right foot, blue." Notice how the game gets absurdly competitive as players begin to twerk in one another's face. Determine that you will not go down with out a fight: swipe your leg break-dance style and knock out the competition. When you win- collapse into the girl pile and fall into everything you've been missing in college.

3. Come to terms with the fact that  pre-break promises to "hang out every night with friends," is a lie. Rediscover the remote, and binge watch Sherlock with a fringed throw blanket draped over your shoulders like a shelled hermit. Become a hermit.

4. Reacquaint yourself with the basketball hoop: remind yourself the fluid movement of bend-flex-release while gluing your feet to the court. Forget how to use the backboard and deliver 4 successive swishes. Look around to see if anyone caught your accomplishment. No one cares. Realize its getting late and wonder why you never practiced at college. Place the ball on the floor, fire it across the gym with your foot, and hear the crack of leather on concrete. Wait for the realization to strike: you've been practicing soccer instead.

5. Feel pumped trying out new recipes you've googled online. Try not to let exhaustion overtake you as you sip and swallow the vegetable soup and lasagna lunch you made from scratch and put in the oven  an 1 hr. 40 min. ago. Become discouraged that you will be making your own food next semester and spend equal amount of time cooking as you will be in class.

6. Check out every available project on Pinterest. Discover that projects titled "easy" are not, and that "yourself" was not considered in the category "Do It Yourself." Give up, then try again, and end up sitting in glue. Explain to your dad later why there is glitter in your hair.

7. Try to learn a new language. Get repeatedly discouraged as you discover that most of Sign Language is arbitrary gang symbols and catatonic gestures. Learn that the sign for "I love you," is the same as the spider man hands.

8. Spend time with the niece and nephews you've missed tremendously. Learn a new game called "mustache smash" and determine to buy it for lazy Shabbat afternoons. Play Candyland past their bedtime and make promises to buy all the treats on the board and play "real Candyland." When they ask twice daily in the time that follows, discover the irrevocable nature of a promise and that children have fantastic memories.

9. Use your mornings hunting for summer jobs. Send out 5 emails every day to potential employers. Send out another 5 emails--this time with your resume attached. Celebrate the Spring internship you were offered by running a victory lap around the house. Send in your acceptance email, descend to the kitchen, and proudly announce to your family, "I've decided to get less sleep."

10. Lose your independence. Get calls at 9 p.m. asking where you are. Make sure to remind them not to lock the storm door. Stand outside feeling cold and peeved.

11. Prepare for an inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat at shul Friday evening. Discover that in the "real world" not everyone does Carralbach styled singing. Mumble the tunes to yourself, feeling uninspired.

12. Yell down the staircase that the bathroom scale is broken. All-you-can-eat-around-the-clock meals have not gone unnoticed by gravity. Download MyFitnessPal app, and log everything. Sometimes "forget" to log, and on these days, eat cookies and milk for breakfast.

13. Prepare yourself for witty answers when people at shul or in the grocery market ask you what you've been up to over break. Give them your best truth--the best news you can share. Discover that 6 weeks is way too long. Admit to yourself the inevitable: you're ready to go back.

Trying approach  D. "but I don't know how to get glue out of my clothes"

Monday, January 12, 2015

Exercising the Right Frame of Mind

At this point, I should no longer be surprised by the getups people conceive of wearing to the gym.

I'll be pumping away on the elliptical, feeling like a triathlete, but resembling a squeezed sponge, soaking everywhere, and  I'll look over to a girl dressed head to toe in a black chador (a full cloak that covers the body and hair but reveals the face). She'll be cruising freely, unhindered by the 5 extra pounds swathed around her neck and waist. To her left will be a girl I'd seen from Hillel listening to Bruno Mars, bouncing in her cotton, jersey skirt, and to my right, a girl also in cotton, although instead of skimming her thighs its stretched as a tiny bralette with Greecian letters. It's one of those moments when you wish you had a camera to capture the comic of the scene- Chador, Knee-Length skirt, Bralette, and "JCC Summer Camp 2010"- following a single powerful momentum.

Recently I've been contemplating the Jewish worldwide image. The examples that come to mind are from the Leftist  coverage during the incursion on Gaza this past summer, the recent bloodshed of the Har Nof and Parisian terror attacks, and the viral video created by  Jihadists entitled "How to stab a Jew." This PA educational video, designed to thwart "resisters" and replicate face stabbing (this video is very disturbing), served for me my own educational purpose. 

To the world, the Jew is a pincushion. To the world, he is a receptacle of denigration and curved knives,  the prop of capitalism, the scapegoat of 9/11, and the perpetrator in the Huffington Post article entitled, "Ultra-Orthodox Men Cause Flight Delay By Refusing To Sit By Women, Again."

I googled "Jew" and under images this is what I found:

And when I see these, I am only more disheartened to think about what this can only be doing to the Jewish identity--to Jews across the world struggling on college campuses to either hide their "Jewish-ness" or actively rebel against their heritage because they are ashamed with the media stigma sewn onto them like the yellow "Jude" star.

To quote a line of from Deborah Feldman's book Unorthodox: "A Jew can never be a goy, she says, even if they try their hardest to become one. They may dress like one, speak like one, live like one, but Jewishness is something that can never be erased. Even Hitler knew that."

When I returned home at the start of winter break I signed up for a gym membership at the local JCC. Within 10 minutes of my first workout , a personal trainer entered with her entourage of about ten Orthodox women aged between 45-70 wearing droopy head coverings, turtleneck sweaters, and white leather New Balances. As I went about my routine alternating inclines and shifting between speeds, I noticed that none of the women looked like they were going to change into something more "active": all of them intended to wear their street outfits on the machienes.

When I thought this situation could not get any more atypical, a woman strut inside clad in a pencil skirt, ballet flats, a dress shirt, a finely curled wig and a full face of make-up. She looked about ready to start a board meeting or attend a bridal shower, not run beside a soaked sponge. You should have seen my face as she ascended the treadmill's belt, fully glossed. I looked straight into the mirror before me with bulging eye sockets: she hadn't even changed from her ballet flats.

With so many influences and ideas from media, college, parents, and friends both secular and not, I realized that I need to rebrand my own image of Jew. A more flattering, optimistic connotation must be pulled from my schema, when searching for an image of "Jew" in my head. I have found that unfavorable impressions stick more often than favorable ones. But I think it's my duty-now that I'm aware of it- not to revert to the images of acid pourers in Meia Sherim, subjects of embezzlement charges, or Holocaust scenes. I must exercise my self-confidence as a Jew and recall images of empowerment or joy, of hunting for the afikomen matzah my father hid above the doorpost, or of the pop quiz he'd give from the Little Midrash Says on the torah portion friday nights. It is my responsibility to remember sitting on my mothers lap shaking a noisemaker when the evil Haman's name was read aloud, and that bubbling warmth when I stood before the Western Wall the first time. Being Jewish, it is my responsiblity to remember the good, the positive, the Godly: It is my obligation to remember the Candy Man in shul.

Before I become outraged by the images and impressions I see portrayed on TV- I must first be mindful of the image I have of my fellow Jew, in essense, myself.

She wore rain boots on the treadmill today- I'm not lying-rain boot!