Hello, New Year

January 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm (Life) (, , , , )

So far, the New Year has been treating me well. I could be cynical and say this ought to be expected, as it’s only been 2010 for about two days, but I’m choosing to be more positive this year. I wouldn’t call it making outright New Year’s resolutions, since I find most of them to be trite, but it’ll have to do.

2009 was an interesting year, if you will. It wasn’t the best of times. Between having  really rough start with my first semester at college and Lena dying, I thought it would be an entire downhill slide. I was homesick and confused and unmotivated and generally not a happy camper.

Lucky for me, it had ups as well as downs. WorldCon in Montreal turned out to be a fantastic experience where I finally met my friend Cat and spent some time with Alex and made some important decisions regarding my self-esteem and who I am. San Francisco allowed me to meet up with Meg and another long-time friend. My return to college was made that much better by instantly bonding with a bunch of people – I now have friends I look forward to seeing and genuinely miss. I went to New York City for the first time in my life. I fell in love and subsequently I am no longer perpetually single.

I don’t expect 2010 to be easy. Right off the bat, I can think of several things that will be difficult: I am moving out of my aunt’s house and in with a friend right at the beginning of the semester. I have a hopefully pending transfer to California in sight. My academics are still a major priority in my life, but I have a great deal of emotional issues to sort through.

No matter how crappy my life feels, I’ll have to remind myself that I lead a very charmed life. I have a stable (if slightly dysfunctional) family, a support network that spans the globe and a boyfriend who is too good for words. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, have the ability to attend school and live in  country that is not constantly torn by war and fear. I have access to health care. I am well-traveled. There’s nothing I truly need (save for maybe a canine companion to keep me a little more even-keeled, because companion animals are glorious that way).

So here’s to you, 2010.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Happy Halloween!

November 1, 2009 at 9:56 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , )

This is a day late, but who’s really counting? Halloween was marvelous – I spent it with my friend A. and a bunch of her friends. I leave you with two pictures: one of a bumblebee named Bella and one of myself with a hypoallergenic cat.

16570_1155366804195_1228440130_30442387_3069615_n

16570_1155367324208_1228440130_30442398_5670269_n

The end.

Permalink 2 Comments

Grumpy

September 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm (Life) (, , , , , , , , )

grumpy This was my expression throughout the majority of the Torah services, Yizkor and Musaf and the beginning of the Avodah (at which point, we left).

I have realized I am not cut out to be the member of a congregation as large as this. There were well over a thousand people present. This means it is loud, people are always talking, it is hard for me to concentrate on the actual prayers and it is super crowded. There was absolutely no room for me to move during the Amidah. Someone behind me was constantly basically shoving their book into the back of my head.

Again, the rabbi felt it was appropriate to ask for money. During Yizkor. OF ALL TIMES, DURING YIZKOR. Did it ever occur to him how incredibly rude that is? People have passed away and we’re trying to say prayers for them, and you’re asking us to reach into our pockets? The man moved further up my list of Obnoxious Things And People I Dislike. This is a rather affluent community, I’m sure he could have asked for donations for Israel Bonds or their synagogue at some other point. His stories and interjections were absolutely moot, pointless.

If there is a God, S/He will not make me go back to this place. Ever. Please, please, please let me have transferred to a different school and a different community by then. I can’t deal with this again.

I made sure to email all my professors about my absence, so everything was alright on that front. I finally managed to weave my way through the automated phone system operated by TriCare in order to inquire about getting new contact lenses through someone here in the area. It seems they are willing to cover it, but I apparently still need to talk to someone back in Europe as to how exactly we want to proceed. Simple, people – I need to see an experienced ophthalmologist who can deal with eyes that have been operated on, have a high astigmatism and off-the-charts diopters. Ugh. I hate life.

Permalink 1 Comment

Yom Kippur

September 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm (Life) (, , , , , , , )

I did manage to find a place to go for Yom Kippur. However, it’s not somewhere I see myself going back to after my obligation for Yom Kippur is over. The congregation is large, impersonal and conservative. The latter wouldn’t bother me too much, but it’s a little . . . restrictive, in a way. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see older people and young families and very little in between.

Not only that, but the rabbi started being a solicitor for various funds in the middle of services, which I thought was incredibly inappropriate. We’re RIGHT smackdab in the middle of Kol Nidre services. And you ask people to put money into Israel Bonds? REALLY? YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA? He also started harping on our need to support Israel and donate and blahblahblah.

I have no issue with charity. I do have an issue when a religious official uses his role to push political agendas; it’s not something I have ever seen a rabbi do and I hope I’ll never have to see it again. It’s not something I associate with Judaism, the begging for money and propagation of political things is more a Christian phenomenon. Or it was until now.

The whole thing just made me incredibly uncomfortable. A religious official is supposed to offer advice, not preach from the pulpit about how I as a Jew am obligated to support Israel in every possible way. That’s like someone telling C. that she has to support the Pope because she’s Catholic despite the fact that dude’s batshit crazy, not to mention assbackwards on basically every matter of social importance. I am in no way obligated to support a country simply because I am part of a religious entity. I will not publicly support a country and a government on the basis of this.

I appreciate Israel’s existence, but I do not agree with a lot of their policies. I believe displacing Palestinians is wrong. The way Israel was founded is very much akin to the Europeans marching into North American and displacing all the American Indians. I don’t believe military action is necessary all the damn time and I am absolutely horrified at the sense of entitlement that many European and American-born Jews have when they make aliyah, and how perfectly acceptable the racism towards Palestinians is within those Jewish communities in Israel.

So, no, Rabbi Whateveryournamemaybe, I am keeping my money out of Israel Bonds and in my damn pocket. This kind of conduct does not leave me feeling spiritually cleansed, forgiven by God or enlightened. It makes me think I ended up an awful place for a very emotional time, and that makes me sad.

Permalink 1 Comment

Chugging On

August 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been saved from spending my whole life brooding only because my mother took us to Montreal and then San Francisco. WorldCon was pretty fabulous – I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in AGES and that makes me happy. I did not get to talk to Neil Gaiman but I walked within a few feet of him. That will have to suffice. I don’t want to be that dick fangirl who ruins it for everyone else.

Right around that time, I had a pretty enlightening conversation with my friend Alex who has moved to D.C. She’s a year younger than myself and we’d lost touch a bit in between when we met each other and WorldCon, but we were both pleasantly surprised to discover we still got along famously. My mother had talked to someone and mentioned she had a daughter (yours truly) running around con, and the response of said stranger was, “OH! The hot chick!” Alex mentioned that the second she had started acknowledging that she was, in fact, not ugly but actually attractive, people started looking at her differently. There was a lot of negative feedback.

I’ve decided to do the same. After that conversation, I have decided that yes, I am attractive. Yes, I have my share of talents. No, it’s not going to be easy convincing my subconscious that I am deserving of love, respect and, yes, maybe even admiration for being pretty, but that’s not the main point. The fact is that I can’t spend my whole life hiding and being ashamed of who I am, what I look like. I had a friend who loved me unconditionally and the best thing I can do to honor her is to try and transfer her unconditional adoration into something productive, empowering. (Or maybe just a little silly.)

san fran

In San Francisco, I spent some “quality” time with my kid sister and looked at houses with my parents, who are 99% sure they want to retire to San Francisco. There is a house on Euclid in Berkeley that looked extremely promising. It was built in 1992 on an “earthquake proof” foundation, is a mile away from the UC Berkeley campus (where I had an interview, hence the formalish dress), is sound-proof and wonderfully located. The feel is similar to our current house in Heidelberg; my parents love it. It had only been on the market for three days when we went to view it. We’re hoping the offer will go through.

I got my hair cut in San Francisco because I decided it was time for a change. I decided this an hour before we went off in search for a stylist with free time on their hands. And then, the same night, I colored it and purchased a supervillain t-shirt the next day while exploring San Francisco and its crappy Museum of Modern Art with my long-time friend Jerri.

Photo 98

I met Meg and her friend Summer, who took me down to San Francisco’s Pier 39 to see sea lions. I love sea lions. I love anything that is basically the nautical equivalent of the retriever brand of dog. They are total hams, very vocal and pretty damn smelly, but extremely adorable. We tried on a bunch of silly hats while I pretended to look serious and classy in mine. I garnered a bunch of compliments for said hat and am sad that I did not purchase that $25 Kentucky Derby style hat that looked absolutely smashing on me. I am making due with my cloche, though.

Photo 103

We arrived back in England around noon today and I finally, FINALLY have a dental appointment for tomorrow morning. With the guy who dismissed my complaints about my tooth, which resulted in me living off painkillers for about two weeks. My tooth, by the way, is still not better. I am going to murder him if he gives me the holier-than-thou shit again. Oh, and my mom will be in the room with me. I think she can hurt him a great deal more than I ever could.

I might try and come up with a more comprehensive summary of my last two weeks, but my mind is blurry with lack of sleep. I decided you guys looking at pictures would be a lot more interesting.

Permalink 3 Comments

Countdown Starts Now

June 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

Three more days of school, then the summer session will be over. Another week after this and I’ll be on my way to England to spend some quality time with my mother, the dog, and presumably Orla and Helen. (Bitches, I WILL hit you up. Be very afraid.) Unless they plan on being dicks, in which case bad things will happen.

My parents are going to replace my MacBook; which means I have to make my way to Montgomery Mall tomorrow to return the MacBook I ordered (it should arrive tomorrow morning) as well as the keyboard cover. My father gets a not-so-small discount with Apple Germany. My parents also want me to have a German keyboard, for whatever reason. So. I don’t feel TOO horrid about the cat destroying my current one. (To make a long story short: I had a glass with Coke next to my laptop. Not Diet Coke. REAL Coke. The cat jumped onto the desk and when he landed, he knocked over the glass. Let it suffice that I was NOT a happy camper.)

I think I will spend a significant amount of time in July exercising, sewing and writing. And practicing. Yeah. My voice teacher would murder me if I did little to no work for two months because you can seriously regress in terms of muscle memory. I’ve got a skirt or two in mind that I would like to sew, and I bought some neat boots I had been eyeing for a while so I would have fun shoes to go with costumes and for just because.

151405BRN1ZThat is all!

Permalink Leave a Comment

One of THESE Again

May 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , )

Permalink Leave a Comment

Memorial Day

May 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm (Life) (, , )

My mother is the first and only person in our family to serve in the military. She never emphasized a strong commitment to our country, serving it or pushing for the somewhat brainless devotion many people seem to have where the US military is concerned. Growing up, I was never off on US holidays because I was enrolled in the German school system and thus immersed in a very different tradition.

All I knew about Memorial Day was that it was a three-day-weekend. I would get to see my mother more often, she would be home when I got back from school and that made me happy. I never thought to ask why she became very quiet and reserved and continues to do so. It is only over the last few years that I have become more aware of some of the US holidays.

I am lucky. I do not personally know anyone who has been critically injured or died somewhere in deserts and swamps while bearing arms in combat.  My mother and most of her acquaintances are high-ranking enough that they do not serve directly in the field. I have met several younger soldiers still scarred by their experience out in Iraq, though. I did cry when a young servicewoman allowed for the transport of her deployed, now deceased, husband’s body to Ramstein be filmed and broadcasted after Obama lifted the ban on this. I sat with my mother as we watched an airplane crash into the Pentagon with the feeling of sickness in my stomach; at the time, no one was aware of the fact the destroyed section had been empty. All we knew was that members of the military my mother knew worked in that building.

I remember hearing Bush announce a “crusade” on terror and realizing for the very first time that people were going to die in a futile effort, people my mother worked with, parents of children I had played with. In Germany, I live near a base with a high rotation of deployment. When I briefly attended the DoD high school, it was common for a classmate or more to miss school for a day because a parent was to be deployed for the second or third time. Looking back at my mother’s period of deployment to Kuwait, I never realized how dangerous her situation really was. She never spoke of certain things, like the fact she was usually in full combat armor and carried a weapon wherever she went.

I gather Memorial Day is often misconstrued as just another day off. In the thrall of a rare three day weekend, people forget why exactly this day has been given off, why schools are closed and why many flags hang at half-mast. The people I know don’t forget, but it is never wrong to point it out again.

Here’s to our servicemen and servicewomen who bravely laid down their lives for our country. Here’s to the men and women in the sweltering deserts cleaning up messes they never intended to make. Here is to parents, husbands, wives, children, aunts and uncles who leave their families behind to heed the call of duty. I cannot find the passage our Jewish military community would recite every Shabbat service in honor of those soldiers who had fallen and still fall, but one part in particular plays as a loop in my head.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

I hope there will – one day – come a time when Memorial Day will only commemorate those who have fallen, when war is a thing of the past. While I know this is unrealistic, I cannot help but hope that it shall come to pass.

Permalink 1 Comment

Rushed Update

May 15, 2009 at 1:31 pm (Life) (, , , , , )

I wanted to post this on Tuesday, but then YouTube was doing site maintenance.

Wednesday, I met up with CollegeBookworm and we walked around downtown DC for a while. We’d actually planned on visiting the National Portrait Gallery, but then opted to walk around. We ate at Chipotle, had Starbucks, hung out at the Navy Memorial, chatted for hours. Then I went back home.

Thursday: Math final in the morning, followed by the English final. English grade is up (A) and so is Chorus (A), Math is not up yet, nor is Psychology or Music Theory or Lab or my Jury grade. Started packing for trip home.

I am leaving for Germany, so I’m sorry about whacky time zones and my correspondences potentially being out of the loop. I might do a jet-lagged Vlog with my kid sister tomorrow.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009 at 12:52 pm (Life) (, , , , )

Since it is that day a year again, a stereotypical post about the appreciation for my mother is in order.

I would be lying if I said my mother were an easy person. She’s not. She can be brusque, she is honest to a point where tact is not even a remote option. She will roll her eyes at some flights of fancy. She’s never done things the easy way and she is independent and self-reliant; offering help will sometimes result in getting yelled at. She doesn’t quite understand the concept of being a sympathetic listener, instead she tries to come up with pragmatic solutions and is then flabbergasted why she is not someone’s first pick of listener. Her sense of fashion is non-existent and her penchant for wearing loud-colored self-knit socks with sandals has embarrassed me plenty of times.

But she is a wonderful person nevertheless, one who has faith in me when I am rather sure no one else does. Her honesty keeps me grounded. This crazy lady truly believes I am a beautiful, talented, smart, sophisticated young woman. She raised me to know I am worth a whole lot more than the world will offer me at times. Her primary concern is always, always my well-being and living up to my potential. She was willing to give me another chance after I messed up horrible when I was younger; she was willing to give me another pet to help me cope with my failure and my anxiety. Throughout every mistake I made, she trusted in my ability to make the right decisions for myself. My decisions may not always coincide with what she believes is right for me, but she will try and accept it after some initial bitching.

If I have a best friend, it is probably my mother. Distance – her being stationed on a completely different continent for some parts of my life – did sometimes put fissures in our relationship, but we were brave enough to put the pieces back together again and work around those cracks.

My mother is a crazy, wool-obsessed fiber artist with no tolerance for idiocy and the ability to forge her way through anything if she sets her mind to it. It was hard to realize, over the years, that she, too, is a human being and as prone to failure as I am. I still don’t think I could imagine a more perfect mother for myself.

Photo 75

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »