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Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Right Rebel

I was discussing the concept of the past with my students.

 

I opened the floor for comments on how my students think they should perceive and respond to the past. I called on one student and she said.

 

“Umm…is this my perspective or the Jewish perspective?”

 

She said this lightly, with a wry smile, but she was serious.

 

I asked her where she thought her perspective diverged from Jewish thought. She responded robotically,

 

“I’m supposed to learn from my past, to enable myself to do mitzvos and maasim tovim to serve Hashem better than before.”

 

I laughed and told her they taught her well.

 

“And what do you think?” I prompted…and she responded with an answer that actually matched up with the “Jewish” perspective without the “do mitzvos and serve Hashem” part.

 

The learning, and having your past motivate and form a person made sense to her. She just rejected the religion because she had an automated response. She knew what she was supposed to say and think, but then she thought on her own, and she was so adverse to the indoctrination, she didn’t even see that her own independent thought was aligned with the rote response.

 

What are we going to do with education system?

 

She’s a good kid. She’s smart enough to realize she’s being indoctrinated, but not wise enough to realize that while indoctrination isn’t a good thing, the ideas it promotes may be.

 

So now she thinks she’s a secret rebel, when all she really is, is right.

 

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Jewish, Teaching

 

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Driving Home a Point

I went to a wedding the other night. This is not about the wedding, but how I got there and the wedding is just the context as to why I was in a car in this particular case.

 

The wedding was a little distance away, about a 45 minutes drive from Brooklyn. I printed out directions, and promptly left them at home. My friend brought an unreliable GPS. We got lost, paid 4 tolls for no reason.

We asked for directions.

We laughed so hard.

We banged the dashboard.

My friend, who was driving, was all anxious.

 

“My heart is in my throat, you don’t get it,” she said. “I hate driving not knowing what the next step it, I want to see ahead know what I’m doing, follow the steps, and I’ll be fine.”

 

And I thought what a great metaphor to how most of us feel sometimes about life.

 

But reflecting on the experience the way home…we made it there, we had fun, have a story to tell, made it through the bumps, the paid the tolls, and knew the roads a lot better for our trip home…so I got two metaphors for the price of one, and two perspectives to pick and choose depending on what mood life puts me in.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Teeth: The Ultimate Test

In my meme the subject of teeth came up, and I’d like to fully address it.

 

Teeth, their primary purpose is to aid in digestion, mainly in the initial intake of biting and chewing food. But like many parts of our bodies, they seem to have taken on an additional baggage: something to look at aesthetically. Or in simple terms, something pretty. 

 

Take a fair look at yourself; there is no organ or feature in your body that is there just to look good (not like the ballerina figurines on your night table).

Your eyes prime purpose is to see

nose, to smell,

hands, manipulate objects,

legs, support and enable mobility

teeth fall right in line.

 

The only difference is, while a person may be born into a body that well may or may not be desirable or aesthetically pleasing, society dictates how much alteration can be done within limits. People are encouraged to dress well, wear make up (if you’re of the fairer sex) work out, lose weight, basically take care of their earthy shell. Things that may drastically alter (and improve) appearances are not socially sanctioned, like liposuction, face lifts, nose jobs, botox, tummy tucks, brow lifts. While they are definitely practiced, people will deny their participation in such activities to the grave.

 

The only area of cosmetic alteration that in universally accepted and expected is cosmetic dentistry. People are encouraged to take care of their teeth to the nth degree, from porcelain veneers, bonding, professional bleaching, at-home whiteners, and braces. There is also regular health maintenance which can improve aesthetic appearance, like brushing and flossing. People very proudly display their unnatural pearly whites, I among them.

 

Teeth are the only area where are person can really gauge another’s attention to personal hygiene and appearance. It’s the only socially acceptable improvements that a person can make that in addition to looking good, generally benefit the person health wise (except for possibly bleaching or excessive whitening).

 

With this in mind, I can tell a lot (or judge a lot) about a person when I first meet them by noticing their teeth as opposed to their hands, or eyes, which may be very nice, but serve nothing but their visual pleasure (or displeasure).

 

This is what I see:

 

White, glossy, straight teeth – you pay careful attention to your appearance

Dull gray/ light yellow, glossy, straight teeth – you take care of yourself but are not vain enough to whiten them unnaturally

Dull gray/light yellow/ glossy, crooked teeth – you maintain your teeth, but your parents could either not afford braces, or you don’t care.

Yellow, stained, glossy teeth – you take care of your teeth, but you engage in unhealthy habits (either excessive coffee or smoking)

Yellow, stained, dull, teeth – you don’t particulary maintain or neglect your teeth

Yellow, stained, mossy, chipped teeth – you have no concept of hygiene. Eww.

 

I can’t very well walk over to someone and sniff them and hope I smell either soap, deodorant, or nothing, but not sweat. Or inspect their fingernails, or the fungus between their toes. I just look at their teeth, and then I know whether I should accept anything from them, or wash my hands first.

 

 

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Memes, “Meh!”

I’m really not into memes and so far avoided being tagged, but since I have been now, and I can’t ignore it, because a lovely comment let me know that I was tagged, and because my mother brought me up well, I will respond. I will not, however, tag anyone else.

 

So, here goes:

 

He never attends fashion shows. “You are the star,” he explained to Chloe chairman Ralph Toledano, “not I.”

 

This is excerpted from the book “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster” by Dana Thomas. I read it twice, and just took it out of the library for the third time. It’s fascinating if you have any interest on the history and workings of luxury goods.

 

Seven Facts About Me:

 

1.      I am 5’4½, but most people think I’m 5’6, 5’7.

2.      I was chosen from over 1000 people (I think it was that many) to write for Mugglenet. I didn’t do it in the end, but it was a definite ego boost.

3.      I have new line every few weeks/months. It’s not intentional, it just happens. Some past ones have been, Sheeshkabibbles, shoin, re-tarded (NY accent, leaving out the ‘r’ and turning the a long), nisht, save the poor soul, seriously, watch me care etc.

4.      The first thing I notice when I meet people are their teeth.

5.      I flunked my Math B regent. Don’t tell my students

6.      My manicure is three weeks old, totally chipped, but the color is light enough that you see a nice tint and not the wreckage.

7.      I never thought I’d keep this blog up this long…or that anyone would read it…on a continuous basis.

 

Who is even interested in the info I just posted? It has no relevancy.

 

 
20 Comments

Posted by on December 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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College Co-dependence

I knew there was a downside to graduating; I just didn’t think it would come to bite me so fast. I no longer have the greatest excuse ever,

 

“I’m sorry I can’t, I have work for college.” 

 

This works on everything. People don’t excuse work “work”. They’ll say you’re working too hard for nothing.

 

But college, it’s a noble thing to further your education and advance your knowledge and opportunities. Working hard and being dedicated to college is very admirable. And I took full advantage of society’s perception in this area. Whenever someone proposed something that I didn’t want to do, but didn’t want to seem mean, I just blamed it on college, whether I had stuff to do or not.

 

Tonight my mother asked me to come shopping with her…and while I didn’t go…I couldn’t use my safe excuse, I had to just be an inadequate daughter and say. No.

 

Aside: I hate going grocery shopping with my mother. I’m a list person; she’s a mosey-down-the-aisle-and-see-what-strikes-her-fancy type. It doesn’t really work and tests my kibud em tremendously, so I try to avoid the situation as much as possible.

 

See, I haven’t used the word no to express my desire to not do something in four years. I always used “college work” and everyone backed off. I was mature, and responsible, not selfish and lazy.

 

Those days are gone, so you might see be being a better person by default rather than conscious choice.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on December 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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My Happy Chanukah Post

I just ate a jelly doughnut with no jelly. It was supposed to have jelly; I was waiting eagerly for it to ooze out and me having to wipe my face, and maybe scare my niece that I’m bleeding.

 

But they tricked me, there was no jelly, and I waited and ate in vain.

 

I only eat jelly doughnuts Chanukah, they are ekildick and juvenile otherwise…I went through all the motions, but it never came, even if I bought it under the jelly premise. I listened to the sales person’s pitch and bought into the dream, now my hopes are shattered.

 

How can I ever look at confectionary sugar the same way again.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2008 in Yom Tov

 

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Now What?

What next?

 

I attended my last graduate class tonight. I got back my thesis. I thanked my professors. I said good-bye to my classmates. And my question is, now what?

 

I have a great job in my field, so I don’t feel the need to find something where I can utilize my skills.

 

I work part-time, so I suddenly have large blocks of time cleared from my schedule, from the time I spent in class, and the time I spent doing course work. What do I do with it?

 

My mother wants me to get another job, but I don’t want to give up my morning, and anyway I couldn’t get a mindless office job, so any additional job would mean more pressure, which I had enough of this year.

 

I suppose I can develop my curriculum more, but really that’s not going to give me enough to do. I can start reading again, but even that won’t give me enough.

 

I should start an independent project, but what should it be? Should I finish drawing on my walls, so they are completely covered. Should I write a book(about what?). Volunteer somewhere (but where?). Should I go back to school (for what?).

 

What else can I do with my time?

 

Any suggestions?

 
19 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Paternal Predictions

Today’s WordPress Prompt reminded me of this post I wrote 5 years ago – it’s as relevant as ever. 

I hope I don’t turn out like my father.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my father.

 

Tonight we were doing an early spring-cleaning, just one closet. Out came the old coats, the worn out shoes, the broken kitchen appliances, and assorted memories.

 

There was a large leather portfolio that I dump unceremoniously on the side. It was just waiting to be placed in an organized allotted space. My father passed the wreckage that was the cleaning, and spotted the portfolio.

 

“My old stuff!” he said excitedly. He picked it up, cleared whatever was on the kitchen table with the sweep of his hand, laid down the portfolio and opened it.

 

Inside was my father’s old work. His work as a graphic artist, years before computers were standard. Where the artist actually had to be one, and not rely on the manipulations and clip art of present day (not minimizing today’s graphics artist, but it’s a completely different field with a different set of skill requirements).

He pulled out papers where he created an accountant’s sheets. He drew ALL the lines. Perfectly. He pulled out posters he created for concerts where all the elements where pasted on top of each other and then printed together. Brochures, where he drew the products, and the simulation of person trying it. He pulled out a yellowed New York Times, where an ad he created had ran. He pulled out several envelopes and letterheads in which logos he created graced. And then he just took out fun things that he drew with an advertisement theme. It wasn’t just, oh I put together the logo or I worked on it; he CREATED it.

 

“Ta,” I said. “You were amazing. What happened?” He just laughed and said something like,

 

“I’m so busy just printing now, I don’t have time to patchke on this stuff, besides, this is not how it runs anymore.”

 

“But, you’re so good!” I protested. He smiled for the compliment but sighed slightly.

 

“Maybe when I retire I’ll go back to it.” He said optimistically.

 

I always prided myself on having some artistic skill, I knew I got it from my father, and I’ve seen plenty of his personal work. But seeing today how he utilized his talents for business was successful and loved it, made me feel a bit inadequate in my dabbling in the arts.

 

But he’s not using it anymore. He loved it. He was great. But real life gets in the way.

 

I don’t want that to happen to my talents. I want to use them, for them to be me, not for me to tell my children years from now,

 

“Y’know I had blog when I was younger….”

 

 

 
14 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2008 in Family, Musings, Parenting

 

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Proselytizing Productions

My schools production was tonight. It was actually quite cute, tons of great musical numbers taken straight from the best of Broadway…

 

…so let’s break it down…

 

Choir – the choirs were gorgeous, had great interesting harmonies, the soloist were good, except for one kid who obviously took voice lessons but hadn’t mastered the art yet as she tried to infuse her singing with a forced and lousy vibrato. Ouch. Also, don’t tell the kids in the second row that NO ONE could see them, and they were basically disembodied voices.

 

Song Dance – Well the fancy lady one, the ones that looked good were wearing my clothes, everyone else unearthed their costumes from their great aunt’s closet. The whole thing was really impressive…

 

*We interrupt this program to bring you an important message*

 

Ok children, today we are going to learn how to behave in public areas, particularly places of the arts….

 

Rule number 1: SHUT UP

Rule number 2: DO NOT KICK THE SEAT IN FRONT OF YOU

Rule number 3: STAY IN YOUR SEAT

Rule number 4: REALLY SHUT UP

 

That was a brief message from my sister who had a considerably worse time and seat than I….I experienced none of that tonight, and now return to our scheduled critique.

 

Dance: If the girls weren’t so inhibited and terrified that they be branded with a scarlet A for actually dancing, they would have been fabulous (barring the Michael Jackson Thriller moves). That said; they were uninspired. MOVE your hips!!!

 

Acting: Was good. Most of them at least. There was excellent ad-libbing when lines were forgotten…it was an interesting combination when the wife’s voice was on a considerably lower pitch than her husband’s…and when someone almost said prostitute instead of proselytize (that actually didn’t even almost happen, would have been funny if it did). And then I got to bear witness to the ugliest wedding gown known to mankind. Where did they pick that up!?!

 

Moral: I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling toward my Jewish heritage…awww, let’s go mark papers and be nice about it.

 

I wish I had funnier and snarkier  things to say on the subject, but they really did a decent job. And sitting there I felt like a proud Mama. GO MY STUDENTS!!!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 21, 2008 in Jewish, Teaching, Uncategorized

 

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…10,000…

Apparently 10,000 hits is considered a milestone in the blogging world, as both FrumPunk and Frum Meets World celebrated theirs.

So I did it.

In a little less than six months.

That’s good right?

Am I supposed to put myself up for evaluation?

What do you like, not like?

What do you want to see more of?

Anything you’d like me to address that I haven’t? (I don’t know if address if the right word, address is all serious, intense, real, and stuffy, which this blog is kinda not)…

And half of you out there reading this blog are not commenting. I know there are those of you out there in St. Louis, Sarasota, Howell, New City, Monsey, Clifton, Nashville, Lompoc, Calgary, San Rafael, Ashton-under-Lyne, Studio City, Mountain View….and a whole bunches of other places (my loverly Stat-Counter told me this)…thanks for visiting. Let me know you exist. Just say Hi, and how you found my blog, if you can’t think of anything else to say…

To 10,000 more!!!

Update: I have 9 comments, and 277 hits past 10,000 hits. I’m getting insulted. I’m just looking for a progress report, not fishing for compliments…so again, how did you find this blog, and what do you like, not like, see more of etc….:)

 
13 Comments

Posted by on December 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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