Friday, July 31, 2009

A Public Service From BOSD: 50 Topics For Discussion on Dates

The post you've all been waiting for! Many thanks to all those who submitted ideas. If you have additional ideas, please either post them as comments on this post, or email me.
Please note: these topics are satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. Oh, wait, they are free? Oh, well I guess they aint guaranteed after all. Use em at your own risk!
This list is in no specific order, and some topics are best discussed on later dates.

1) What you do in the summer

2) Teachers/ Rabbeim/ Professors

3) School/ Yeshivah/ Seminary/ College

4) Family

5) Israel

6) Politics

7) News

8) Current Events

9) Art

10) Language

11) Music

12) Science

13) Intriguing things

14) Pictures on the wall

15) Goals

16) Priorities

17) Stories

18) Views

19) Dreams

20) Interesting things you have seen

21) Interests

22) Hobbies

23) Ambiance of room/ Hotel/ Venue

24) Food

25) Blood(!)

26) Why you chose the school you went to

27) Glasses/ Contacts

28) Purim

29) Pesach

30) Shavuos

31) Chanukah

32) Yomim Noraim

33) Sukos

34) Shabbos

35) Travel

36) Jewish Geography

37) Sibling's personality

38) Parent's personality

39) Which middos are you machshiv

40) What values do your parents emphasize in their house?

41) What values do you plan to emphasize in yours?

42) What do you believe is the purpose of life?

43) What are you looking for in a spouse?

44) Why do you want to get married?

45) Jokes

46) Dating itself

47) Shopping

48) Family minhagim

49) Books

50) If all else fails, discuss BOSD!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Top Ten Ways You Know It's Bein Hazmanim

10) The bigger cholent pots needs to be shlepped up from the basement.

9) Beer occupies the best spots in the fridge.

8) The toilet seat is up.

7) There are hats on every couch/comfortable seat in the house.

6) Dead bugs appear all over the house. Girls may possess the decorating skill required to figure out that dead bugs on the wall should be removed, but apparently guys haven't figured that out.

5) You don't need to take the garbage out. You just need to yell and scream, beg and plead, and tear out your hair in frustration, until you finally convince your little bocher'l to do it.

4) Loud alarm clocks going off all morning, courtesy of a yeshivah bochur who can sleep through an earthquake. (My theory is that they set alarm clocks to wake up the rest of the house who will come to their rooms and turn their mattresses over.)

3) The ketchup bottles empty themselves.

2) There are tools strewn about in random places. And the crowning glory: a drill laying across the floor like it's some piece of artwork.

1) The car is nowhere to be found. Well, not no where. Try looking outside the local open-late takeout store.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Published Author!

The magazine came in the mail. I took it in and tore open the envelope. I flipped through the pages as quickly as my overly excited fingers would allow. Finally, having found the article I was so eagerly looking for, I read the familiar words with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.
You see, I wrote it. I remembered reading those words before. I remembered reading them over and over, at least ten times before I pressed the send button. And then there was no turning back. Someone had suggested that I write an article on a particular topic in a particular publication. First, I reacted with skepticism. Me?
But I approached it the way I approach most things in life. If other people can do it, so can I. And so, just as I fought myself how to play a flute, bake hamentashen, write meta tags, and analyze handwriting, I decided to write that article. All over the world there are millions of people who write articles, and I would be one of them.
And I wrote...and wrote...and wrote.
And then I read...and read...and read.
And when I was confident that it was the best I could do, I clicked send.
It was a while later that I heard back from them, but the answer was positive.
Another agonizing wait...and I became, for the first time in my adult life, a published author.
The feeling is exhilarating. As small and unknown is this paper is, there ARE people out there who are reading what I wrote. It's given me a boost. I want to continue writing. I want to experience this again The marvelous feeling of looking at the work of the graphic designer and deciding if it compliments my writing. The utter exhiliration of knowing some inside bit of information, of reading an article and knowing what its going to say.
Has anyone else had their writing published? Does anyone else know this feeling?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old People And Technology Don't Mix

I was once browsing through some birthday cards (am I the only one who can spend hours in the card section of a store?) and I found a card that made me wish my mother's birthday's was that week. On the front, it had a picture of a girl holding a cell phone. It said:
"Mom, what if, for your birthday I programmed your cell phone to ring to happy birthday?"
Inside, it said:
"You wouldn't be able to do anything about it, huh?"

It's funny, isn't it? There have been many jokes about technology and old people...for good reason. Take the famous quote from Groucho Marx: "A child of five would understand this. Somebody fetch a child a five." Now, I doubt Groucho was looking for somebody to change the ring tone on his cell phone, but the phenomenon seems to be old. Isn't it scary what happens when a person gets old?

This is the point at which I am hoping my mother doesn't ever find my blog, as she thinks she is very young. I have tried explaining this to her many times. "Ma, you're allowed to be old. You're a grandmother!" She doesn't buy that though. She thinks she is young. After all, she has a blackberry! I haven't yet had the heart to tell her that a blackberry doesn't make one young. On the other hand, a blackberry with over 30o unread emails, courtesy of an owner who can't figure out how to open an email on it...makes one something very un-young. And then, they get their new phone, and you can ask to borrow their car for a month straight if you want it, because without you, your parents can't change the wallpaper, the ring tone, or even figure out how to get to their contacts.

What is it about age that makes people lose touch with modern technology? It's not like kids just learn to use the technology of their era, and then lose it. Kids keep up to date with advances, while middle age (plus) people are left fumbling with their dinosaurs on the wayside. And then, those kids grow up and they start to tinker with dinosaurs while their kids send each other text messages making fun of their silly looking parents.

All I know is this. I sincerely hope I can age gracefully. When I get old, I don't want to be found tinkering with the next generation's version of a blackberry, sneaking peaks at the manual when I think no one is looking.

Someone, show this to me in 45 years, ok?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pre-Date Jitters: A View From The Other Side

I've often watched a woman in the midst of pre-date jitters. It has never been a pretty sight, be the woman a sister or friend. Some are anxious to a dizzying degree. They go to each mirror in the house, to see how their makeup will look in different lighting. They try on every pair of shoes they own, trying to determine which is best. (this can take a really long time, depending on her level of Perfection.) They iron out invisible crimps in their hair, while simultaneously fretting about non-existent creases in their black suit.
There are those that get all spiritual from their nervousness. They sit and say tehillim, ignoring their surroundings, praying that the next three to five hours pass as quickly as possible. They sit and pray with such fervor, you have to hope that they won't miss the guy at their door.

Some girls go irritable pre-date. They are the ones that make you want to scream something like "Nobody said you have to go out! It's your decision! And even if it's not, it wasn't my fault so go fight with somebody else!" Then there are the ones who go super-sweet pre-date. If they are normally really un-sweet, they can be really disconcerting. They make you want to say "who are you and what have you done with my sister?" Sometimes I wonder if they think that the zechus of their sweetness will make their date go more smoothly.

One thing I never though about though, was the guy. I mean, he has a pre-date time too. And as many ties as a guy has to chose from, there can't be much fussing about his looks. Instead, does he fuss over the gemorah the father might be asking him about?

Then there is another factor the boy has to consider, and that's the timing. He can't get there early, as that would appear seriously OCD. (Not to mention really nasty. One boy missed my mother because he came ten minutes early. This was after pushing the date off by a week because she was in Israel when they were going to go on the first date.) He can't come too late either. That seems careless. (One of my sisters dated a boy who came over and hour late for each date. I commented that if she ever gets engaged to him, we will have to call the chupah for 2 in the afternoon if we want to have it before midnight.) But timing can be tough, especially if the girl lives quite a distance from the boy's starting point.

So what made me think of all this, suddenly? Well the other day I got my answer to the boy's timing. I was parked in front of a convenience store/takeout store, which also serves as a quasi hangout for yeshivah guys. I was waiting for someone there, so I had an opportunity to observe the scene from the relative comfort and security of my car.

I watched as a young man, dressed in a neat suit and classy tie walked into the store. It was clear from his manner that he was more than a little nervous. He walked around the store, looked around, and as far as I could see, bought nothing. As the guy walked out of the store, and into his clean, nice-looking car, I looked at my clock and realized the simple reason for this odd behavior: it was 6:56 pm. Surely, in some house not too far away, there was a young lady, consumed by intense pre-date jitters, scurrying around the house, trying to get ready for her seven o'clock date.

I don't think I'll ever look at pre-date jitters the same way.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bumping Into a Couple On a Date

My first reaction was "how odd."
I was on vacation, in a city with a miniscule Frum population. I mean, it's ironic that a gal from a place with a really large frum population, such as the one where I live, has to go on vacation a couple of hundred miles away to meet a couple on a date.
The scene was comical. The girl took one look at me and turned a brilliant shade of green. The boy even had the good grace to blush. Me? I was trying not to laugh. This wasn't a one-second encounter. This was a I'm-sorry-I-didn't-plan-things-this-way. The poor kids, they sat there in silence, perhaps conversing telapathically. I can just hear the conversation: "we should probably wait till she's not in earshot before we resume talking." "Yeah I was thinking the same thing!" "cool! Is this what they call chemistry?"
Personally I was sending them telapathic messages too, "don't worry. I don't know you. Really, I don't know anyone who lives her, you are safe. It's ok."
I don't think they got the message. They just sat there in their awkward silence, willing me to disappear. I didn't, but I do like to imagine that they went on to get engaged, and married, and eventually have 15 kids. I like to imagine the kids sitting around the shabbos table, and little Yanky saying "tatty, can you tell us the story of how you were on a first date with mommy and this weird girl was there and you were so embarrassed?" Then little Rivkala chimes in "yes, tatty, can you PLEASE say it!" Not to be outdone, Sarah Leah says "Tatty, PLEASE? it's my favorite story!" So Tatty sighs, and starts the story... "Well, kinderlach, you see, before mommy was married, she lived in [insert name of mildly popular vacation area] and I went up there to go on a date with her. I picked her up, but things weren't going too well. We didn't have too much to talk about. But then we went down to the water and there was this strange girl there. I'm not sure exactly what made her strange, but she was laughing too much. Anyway, mommy and me didn't talk while she was around, which was a while. But as soon as she left we burst out laughing, and that was the beginning of things. Now we're married with 15 kids, so I guess it all worked out."
"But tatty, what ever happened to the girl?" questions little Hindy. "I don't know zeeskeit, but I'm pretty sure she forgot all about it."

Either way, that's not the only time I bumped into dating couples. Once, I was stuck in traffic, we're talking non-moving FDR kind of misery, and I found it pretty amusing that a majority of the time I was parallel to a couple that was no doubt on a date. They didn't look to thrilled about me staring into their car for an hour, or maybe they simply weren't thrilled with each other. I was thinking that he looked like a very eligible young man (or perhaps he was simply driving a very eligible new car) and maybe it would be a good idea for me to roll down my window and let him know I'm available. I took pity on the poor girl though, and remained content sitting looking into their car and analyzing the situation.

On another occasion, my sisters and I went out to eat. Just as we walked into the restaurant, my sister's face lit up in a special way. "Splendid. That's my friend, and she is obviously on a date." the guy got up, and the girl beckoned my sister to come to her table. "This guy is SO not for me, I can't wait till this date is over." Personally, I found it funny. Why did the guy waste his money taking her to such a fancy restaurant so early on, before he knows if she's worth all that money? I wonder if it wasn't as bad as the girl made it seem. Perhaps she was just embarrassed at the situation, and figured that statement was the surest way to make sure that we wouldn't publicize our little meeting.

My sister had a great story along these lines. She was on a date, and they met another dating couple in the park they were walking in. The couple looked extra radiant, and they confided in my sister and her Prince Not-So-Charming. "We just got engaged!! The two of you are the first to know about it!!!" My sister and her date congratulated them, and then it got awkward. The girl looked at my sister with searching eyes. They were asking "and you two?" My sister tried to signal back with her eyes, to let her know that Miss Kallah might be in the company of Mr. Right, but MG's date was sadly Mr. Wrong.

What do you do when you meet a couple on a date? Ignore them? Pretend you don't realize it's a date? (i.e. ask how they know each other)
Have you had any great stories when this happened?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Join The Club

Ever heard the phrase "join the club"? Sometimes, it's when you are really tired. You IM your coworker at the next desk, "i'm so tired." So she answers "join the club." Sometimes, you haven't eaten enough. You send your friend a text saying "I'm starved!" She answers something along the lines of "me 2! join the club." Those clubs are not only voluntary, but they are short term. You go home, you get a good night's sleep (for those of you who, like me, can't remember what that's like, try it tonight. It's a good feeling...if I remember correctly.) and suddenly you are no longer a member of the tired-club. If you are hungry, it's an even easier fix. Have a yogurt, an apple, a chocolate bar- whatever you want, and you have left the ranks of the hungry-club.

Some clubs are more pleasant clubs. Like the ipod touch/iphone club. Some lady in the mall saw me playing with my touch while I waited for my father to deal with his cellphone issues, and felt compelled to strike up a conversation. "I have an iphone too!" I corrected her, told her that it's an ipod touch, but I actually like having it separate from my phone. "That way, if someone is talking to me, and I find them boring, I can play cube-runner, or Maze Finger. You can't do that if the ipod and phone are both in one device." So the two of us, total strangers, united only in our possession of touch-screen mobile devices from Apple, were suddenly deep into a conversation. We touched on the pros and cons of the iPhone versus the iPod, we discussed some of our favorite apps, and she even suggested a future career for me! (Unfortunately, no shidduch though.)

That's when I realized...purchasing one of these devices pays your entry into the club. (Albeit a steep entry fee.) It doesn't matter if you are black or white, male or female, tall or short, skinny or fat, blond or brown. All that matters is the common thread between all of you: an iObsession.

There are other clubs that people don't join willingly, and there are clubs that people don't get to resign from. Take the diabetes club. As I told a friend of mine who has diabetes, "it's not a club you sign up for. It's a club that you get drafted into." And, as far as medical science has gotten with it, there is currently no way to resign from the type-1-diabetes club.

Perhaps it is precisely because of the lengthy stay that is required in the club, or perhaps it is because of the way you get drafted, that it has such a strong club feeling. Like the other day, I was in Walmart, and the cashier had an insulin pen clipped onto the lanyard around her neck. (!) Instantly, I felt a bond with this woman. Yes, she was of a different race, and no, I couldn't pronounce her name, and I had never spoken to her before, but I felt, in a strange way like I was her sister. As she picked up the next item to scan it, and I saw her medic alert bracelet dangling from her wrist, I felt that rush again. I sat there contemplating the appropriateness of striking up a conversation about the type of insulin she uses, but just as I was gathering the courage to start, she finished ringing up my purchases, and I was ready to pay. Even as I left the store, I felt a special bond to this unknown cashier with the insulin pen.

That wasn't a solitary incident. I've seen people with insulin pumps clipped onto their belt clip, or others with a little black case that only a diabetic would recognize as one containing a glucose meter. Each time, I want to say hi, to tell them that I am also in the club. It's as if I want to stage an unofficial club meeting. I usually (ok, never) actually gather the guts to pull out my membership card, but the bond is always there.

So tonight, as I turned on the radio in the car, in an attempt to ease the three-weeks induced boredom, I heard them discussing the nominee for the supreme court: Sonya Sotomayor. In all honesty, I don't know the first thing about the woman. In general, politics don't excite me very much. But as I sat there half-listening to the commentary on her, her life, and her political career, I couldn't help but root for her. She is a fellow member of the type-1-diabetes club. No, it's not a matter of hoping she will judge in favor of diabetes treatment or research, it's simply a matter of that ever-present bond I feel with fellow clansmen.

Sonya Sotomayor did not sign up for the diabetes club, neither did I. Neither did that cashier in Walmart, neither did Nick Jonas, Jay Cutler, or any of my simple, ordinary, real-life friends who have type 1 diabetes. And by the looks of it, none of us will be giving up our slots anytime soon. And so, for now, I will just be content to know that I share a bond with all of these people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Top Ten Annoying People We All Know

1) Ms. I-have-a-baby-so-I-can-talk-in-baby-talk-all-day-to-everyone:
You know her. She's the one who croons at her baby straight through a conversation. Annoying turns ugly when her baby isn't there, and she is still crooning, out of habit, right zeeskeit?

2) Ms. I-have-all-the-time-in-the-world-and-then-some-even-if-you're-rushing:
There is a direct relationship between the level of annoyance she causes and the kind of rush you're in. So as you sit there panicking that you are going to be late for a super important appointment, she is sitting there daintily peeling a cucumber, just in case she gets hungry.
Sadly, that's no example. Happened to me last week.

3) Ms. I-can-do-or-say-whatever-I-want-and-still-be-awesome-but-no-matter-what-you-do-you'll-still-be-crud:
Often she extends this to family members. She hears about behavior exhibited by someone, and is shocked, horrified and scandalized. Then, she hears that the perp was her very own sister...and she sees it all in a whole new light.
Basically the story of her life is cursing out people that aren't her relatives and praising those that are.

4) Ms. I-don't-care-about-you-or-anyone-else-unless-I-am-in-middle-of-texting-them:
You know her. You send her a text, asking her to please listen to you, that you don't like being ignored. She is also the one who always backs up her statements with a "I just got a text about that, let me read it to you"

5) Ms. Oy-I-have-such-aches-and-pains:
Really, it's not just aches and pains. She just has a miserable life. Everything to be miserable about, nothing happy, whatsoever. If it would happen to someone else it would probably be ok, but if it happened to her it's gotta be awful. And she is always feeling sick, which only makes things tougher.

6) Ms. I-already-know-what-you-are-about-to-say-and-instead-of-listening-I'll-cut-you-off-to-tell-you-how-wrong-you-are:
Obviously, her behavior stems from a sense of superiority. Why should she waste her very-valuable time listening to you and whatever you have to say, if she can instead just cut you off?

7) Ms. My-ideas-are-great-and-my-opinions-are-right-and-by-default-you-are-wrong-until-I-tell-you-the-truth:
This is the most self important person you know. It's not that she thinks you are lower than her, she simply IS better. And her ideas are always good, her opinions always right. Like this lady at work. She was trying to give me a proof about something, and used her diabetic mother as an example. "You don't know anything about diabetes, so I'll explain it to you." I don't-what? See, it simply didn't occur to her that I might know. I CAN'T know. She hasn't told me yet!

8) Ms. I'll-say-what-I-need-to-so-you-feel-good-and-then-I'll-forget-all-about-it-and-never-act-on-it-like-I-promised:
These people can be reffered to euphamistically as diplomatic, but they are more of a politician, in reality.

9) Ms. I-speak-a-language-that-you-don't-speak-and-I-will-use-it-when-you-are-around-even-though-it-will-make-you-really-curious-about-what-I'm-saying-and-then-I'll-make-you-feel-really-dumb-if-you-ask-for-a-translation:
It could be Yiddish, French or Spanish. Or Hebrew. For all I care it could be Swahili. Whatever it is, she is conversing with her husband, or some other privileged character who also speaks the foreign language, and conveniantly forgets that there are those at the table who don't speak Swahili.

10) Ms. Oh-my-gosh-you-are-hilarious-you-make-me-roll-ha-ha-ha-you-are-the-funniest-person-I-ever-met-and-I-will-laugh-every-time-you-open-your-mouth-without-waiting-to-hear-if-you-are-making-a-joke-or-not:
She might be enjoyable at first, she gives you lots of attention, she provides a nice ego seems nice, superficially. But honestly- it's not. You open your mouth amidst laughter, and utter something competely serious and most definitely lacking in humor. You expect the laughter to stop, and it doesn't. Then you realize: the laughter has nothing to do with you and your sense of humor. It's just her.... But I don't know what this behavior stems from. It's just bizzare.

Do you know all of these? Which other kinds of annoying people do you know?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Help Me Help You!

I am getting scared that my greatest fear is soon to come true. Ok, not my real greatest fear, but i am getting nervous that people will expect me to start [sit down-fan self] dating. What a scary thought! Its the combination of my last couple of single friends getting engaged, mixed with the list of boys waiting to date a certain very perfect sister of mine, but either way, I am starting to get a little fidgety.
Until now, when people spoke about dating, I hid under the blanket with a mumbled "I have an older sister". But now I am starting to see this as a bit of a reality. Someone might make me sit in a hotel lounge with a guy for a few hours, and all I will think of to talk about but swirlies!
So the other day, my friend was about to leave for a date when I got a text- "quick! what should we talk about?" I started to wonder. What should they talk about? Honest, I am the last person to know. But I never like to admit that I don't have an answer, so I am asking for your help.

Let's compile a comprehensive list of topics for discussion on dates. Not just any dates, but frum dates. Perhaps we can have a do's and don't's section? Either way, please help me! Either post your topic(s) as a comment, or email them to me. I will put them together in a post which will be linked on my sidebar as a quick reference guide.

Please note:
I am completely serious about this. If I have to I will print this list and stuff it up my sleeves on dates. Please contribute serious topics, humorous topics, and everything in between. If you have (a) topic(s) that you feel are good to discuss on dates, but not for a first or second date, feel free to specify.

Help me help you! :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Is It Me or Is It Perfect In Here?

"What was I thinking when I volunteered for this?" was my thought as we pulled away from the last girl's house. Why in heavens name did I volunteer to drive MP and two of her Israel-bound friends to the airport? I couldn't figure it out. But as the trip went by, I suddenly realized why I did it. Entertaining a bunch of MP's as we sat in traffic for what felt like hours turned out to be the best entertainment ever.

Before we set off to pick up her friends, MP issued me a strict warning. "My friends think you're normal. Please keep it that way." I laughed and told her that the public has a right to know the truth. She looked panicky, and told me that it's too late to call the taxi, and could I PLEASE behave myself? "like, don't tell them anything too embarrassing, ok?" I couldn't figure out what she was trying to ask me. "Well, I spent the entire night last night preparing a list of conversation topics I could embarrass you with, do you want to see it?" She didn't.
So we picked up friend number one. She loaded her brand name luggage into my trunk, and we were off to pick up friend number two. Friend number two took longer, because she had her entire family there to see her off. Needless to say, she was dead embarrassed of her family, as MP's generally are, so we were out of there eventually. And then the fun started. "Guys, I brought my Prada phone!"
Prada phone? Silly me! I thought prada made clothes and the like. (Just when I figure out a company they go and change things...) I hoped I wasn't embarrassing my perfect sister, and asked what a Prada phone is. She wouldn't let me lay my non-perfect hands on it, but she took it out of the case to show me. It looked, surprisingly enough, like a phone. Friend2 turned it on, and MP and F1 squealed. "oooh! It says PRADA on the screen."
Conversation then turned to the stress of packing. "I spent hours in [insert name of neighborhood's ritzyest, most exclusive store] making sure I had enough clothing for the trip." The other two nodded in sympathy. I tried unsuccessfully to keep the smirk off my face. I never realized how much easier my life is because of my hatred of shopping.
Having finished the topic of shopping and and packing for the trip, they went on to the important task of complimenting eachother on their fabulous choices. "Ok, I need help choosing which to wear most often. I have these guccis (puts on ugly black sunglasses), these pradas (exchanges pair), and these lacostes (dons final pair). What do you think?" MP was quick to offer a suggestion. "These Kate Spades might look better on you. Try them and I'll wear your Pradas."
Wait a minute, are they, or are they not, talking about sunglasses? The conversation continued in this vein until someone noticed MP's now sweatshirt. "Oh, hey! MP I like your Juicy!" Now, personally, when I saw that sweatshirt, I asked MP why it had a J on it, when her name starts with an M. She didn't answer me. So now I discovered the truth. This was the emblem of another cult.
I had enough. I couldn't keep myself from laughing any longer, so I knew I would have to move the conversation away from things I found so ludicrous. Unfortunately, my next conversation topic ha F1 and F2 crying from laughter, and MP chuckling along, while glaring at me out of the corner of her eye. We eventually reached the airport, and MP tried to usher her friends out of my presence as fast as possible. The Perfects presented me with a highly perfect keychain, that I am embarrassed to admit ownership of. I thanked them in as perfect of a way as a blob like me is capable of, and they departed. I was marveling at their parting line all the way home. "Thanks for the ride SD! And thanks for the entertainment! It was the best ride I ever had!"
Hey! This is a highly perfect person we are talking about. The icing on the cake came a little after I got home. A text from MP saying "thanks for driving us SD! My friends think u are soo cute!"

I have the approval of three little miss perfects. Joy to the world!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Isn't Life Confusing?

Isn't life confusing?
How do people know?
What they are supposed to wear,
And where they're sposta go?

Isn't life confusing?
The rules- they number many!
Some people seem to know 'em all,
But I can't remember any!

Isn't life confusing?
Some things are just allowed,
And If you stick to doing that,
You'll make 'them' really proud!

Isn't life confusing?
Some wouldn't agree.
For "them" the rules are simple,
As easy as can be.

Isn't life confusing?
I wish 'they' would write a book,
So I would know how I should talk
And how I'm sposta look!

Isn't life confusing?
Correct me if I'm wrong.
But these rules seem easy only,
To those who play along.

Isn't life confusing?
When you beak a rule or two?
Suddenly you need instructions,
For everything you do!

Isn't life confusing?
Since they always change the rules?
Keeping up with all of this,
Should be taught to us in schools!

Isn't life confusing?
When you stop and simply ponder?
Why people always do all this-
Don't they ever wonder?

Isn't life confusing?
When you can't just be YOU?
Rather you are always told
What you should say and do.

Isn't life confusing?
When you follow with the crowd?
"I'm my own individual!"
Let's shout it really loud!

Isn't life confusing?
It is- if you let it be.
But wouldn't you rather say?
"No thanks I'll just be me!"

Friday, July 3, 2009

Top Ten Observations and Ramblings From My Vacation

I had a few ideas for blog posts about my vacation, and if I would have been here longer, I would have developed each one into it's own post. As this is the last night of my vacation, I will condense all of these thoughts into one post.

(Note: I started writing this last night in Niagara Falls, but fell asleep in the middle and continued today when I got home.)

1) Niagara Falls is an interesting contrast:
I can't help but marvel at the commercialization of Niagara Falls. I mean, as I posted yesterday about the awesome NATURAL beauty of Niagara Falls. So, take a natural wonder, a gift to mankind from G-d, and what do we do? Of course! We milk it for all it's worth. Let's approach it from every direction. The first approach is from in the water, on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Then, you can view Niagara Falls from above, in one of two towers or a giant Ferris wheel. You can walk right up to it, in the cave of the winds, and you can walk behind it, in the journey behind the falls. There are also helicopter rides, for the rich and daring. And that's only the attractions that center around the actual falls. I guess the IMAX can be considered a falls-related attraction too, if you stretch it.
I would think that is quite enough, but apparently, others thought differently. Some enterprising people must have said "hey, these falls attract millions of visitors each year, let me build up a tourist attraction around it!" So they did. Just one block away from the beauty and splendor of Niagara Falls, one of the world's most amazing natural wonders, we see Clifton Hill, one of the world's most commercialized streets. One would think that three wax museums and four haunted houses would be enough for one street, but apparently, people thought otherwise. I can't imagine the pull of a place that advertises itself as "the most frightening experience in Niagara" but then again, I don't understand the pull of a roller coaster turning a person upside down three times in a row either, so perhaps it's just me. Then I guess someone else said "hey! A major tourist attraction with no amusement park?" A quick snap of the fingers, and you have Marineland Amusement Park, where you can get splashed by killer whales multiple times per day. The number of lights in the town of Niagara Falls, just in the Clifton Hill area, is probably greater than the number of lights in the entire continent of Africa.
Something doesn't add up there, huh?

2) Its true what they say:
There's an old joke: "the town I grew up in was so small we only had one McDonalds, one Burger King, and three Starbucks." I don't think there is any better illustration of this than here. There is a Starbucks at the top and bottom of Clifton Hill. I don't know why that amazes me so much, but it really does.

3) I've written posts about signs of the times before, but this one just struck me. When I was little, and we'd vacation, nobody knew what wireless Internet is. Today, every hotel has wifi, it's almost unnecessary to advertise it. On the other hand, when I was a kid, the hotel rooms came with a free pad and pen, which we didn't get this time. Has wifi taken the place of pen and paper? Is this the next step in the total eradication of paper and the printed word?

4) I watched an IMAX about the topic, as well as a show in Ripley's, but I still can't get into the mindset of a person who would stuff themselves into a barrel and go over the falls. I mean, seriously, imagine the "goodbye dear" you would have to give your spouse on your way out of the house that morning?

5) As I wrote yesterday, looking at Niagara Falls is like looking at the signature G-d put onto his masterpiece: our world. Someone I know, who has a lot of doubts about G-d told me, upon hearing of my upcoming trip to Niagara Falls, "That place is what makes me believe there is a G-d in this world."
That's why I find it so utterly astonishing that people seem so determined to believe that it was created by ANYTHING but a Master Artist. The Niagara Falls IMAX starts out with an enormously long introduction to the creation of the falls. I don't know if they even mentioned a possibility of a G-d or not, because we were waiting outside, as one of my travel mates, who'd seen the show before, said it was pure apikorsus. And then there is the "Niagara's Fury," which we didn't go on (yet), but it also discussed the creation of Niagara Falls. They also tell you about the shifting rocks and currents, all of which happened millions of years ago. And they say it with such certainty that you would think that they were there to watch it. It seems to me that it's simply a way of covering their eyes and saying "I can't see You, I can't see You!" You CAN see Him buddies, sorry. You are just pretending.
(If you are interested in the reconciliation of scientific facts and the Torah's teachings, there is an incredible bunch of shiurim on by Mr Harold Gans. I really recommend them.)

6) Be careful when you are listening to your music on shuffle:
I was really thrilled that the car we drove up to Niagara Falls had an auxiliary audio jack, so we were able to listen to anything and everything I had on my iPod. In short, we spent so much time flipping through the various albums to this song and that song that we never actually managed to listen to an entire album. In fact, I'd say it was impressive if we even listened to an entire song. So, as time went by and we became more and more bored of the music we had, we started to listen on shuffle. It was interesting, as it brought up some interesting songs that I'd never choose willingly.
Picture this scene; a bunch of females loading their bunch of luggage into the car. It's a job that requires someone with the skill of a master architect. So as we fiddled and pushed, we turned on the car for some music. (Don't call the shadchan yet! It wasn't very loud, just audible as you passed by our car.) So the song ends, and we listen for the next song in the shuffle. I hadn't realized this was still on my iPod, but Cholent, by Country Yossi came on. So it's playing, and I hear the words "drop it on the Arabs they'll be gone in a day!" and decide to shut it off, as we are in public. I go towards the drivers seat to skip the song, and I see a group of people passing our car. Yep! You guessed it. It was a group of angry-faced Arabs.

7) I don't get the psychology behind souvenirs:
So here is the deal- we are going to take some random junk, pretty similar to that which you just tossed while you were cleaning for pesach, print "Niagara Falls", "Maid of the Mist", or some similar name on it, and suddenly we are charging four times what the item is worth, for something you don't want or need in the first place. What am I missing here?

8) Carry a mini bottle of Lysol spray when you go on vacation:
I am by no means an expert vacationer. My life is fairly boring, as these things go. But there is one thing I know, and that is, that a four day trip means four days of public restrooms, or washrooms as they say back in Canada. I'm not a germ freak, but I am the I-don't-use-public-restrooms type of person. All I can say is thank heavens for the little purse-sized bottle of Lysol spray I picked up before I left.

9) Praise for Goldy:
I want to tell you about one quirk of Goldy's. When I drive with her, I notice that she shaves a minute off the estimated arrival time every so often. But for some odd reason, when it was someone else's turn to drive she put that minute back on! Weird, huh?
Now a compliment for Goldy. She told us to take the ramp on the right, at exit 18. Problem is, exit 18 was closed. Situations like these throw mapquest-printout-clutching drivers into a state of panic. Now what???? But not Goldy. She remained cool and collected, helped us off the next exit and back around to an alternate route.

10) When a bunch of females go on vacation, male receptionists are a pleasure to deal with:
The female who worked the morning shift at the front desk of our hotel was sweet. She was friendly and helpful, and didn't give us any problems. But the guy who worked the late afternoon shift was just awesome. I'm guessing the job is pretty tedious, and that a number of females parading up to the desk with questions or requests, it brightens things up for him. I mean, seriously. He let us into the employee only picnic area, then opened up some employee only doors for us, and gave us some employee only information. Poor guy didn't realize that we are highly aidel girls and his efforts for attention were completely in vain. (Well, not completely. He did get mentioned in a blog post.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why We DO Go On Vacation: My Lesson of The Day

A number of weeks ago I attended a shiur on tefillah. The speaker was discussing the concept of praising G-d. She was saying that pesukei dezimrah, for example, are a challenge to many people. I mean, yes, G-d is great, He is awesome, and He does wondrous things, but why does He need me to tell him that? And why am I repeating myself over and over?
Among the many answers, she gave the following reason. G-d most definitely does not need us to praise Him. It's for us. Every time we praise G-d, the totality of His power and His strength hits us all over again.
G-d created the world, He is awesome.
G-d took the Jews out of Egypt, He is invincible.
G-d maintains this world every day, He is powerful.
With each statement of the wonders G-d has done, and continues to do, our faith and hope should grow. Surely, if G-d can do all these incredible things that I am praising Him for, He can also solve my problems.

Perhaps it's the visual side of me, but that thought never really kicked in until today. I walked up to the observation area directly in front of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and took the scene in. The majestic formation of the rocks, the water cascading down with extreme force, it was so perfect, so masterful, I suddenly felt close to my Creator. He made a natural spectacle that is unlike anything any painter could ever attempt to imagine, much less create, even in a two-dimensional painting. I looked further upstream, at the unbelievable view of the water hitting the rocks, and then falling in a manner which was nothing short of breathtaking, and I felt it even more. G-d has created the most unbelievable world. If He could create something with as much beauty and splendor as Niagara Falls, surely sending my small, personal yeshuah is not a big deal.

And so, as I walked away from the falls, I felt them pulling me back. They were beckoning me to come closer, to take another look, to burn this unforgettable sight into my memory. Whenever things get tough, and I start to wonder when and how I will see salvation, I will close my eyes and picture the majesty that is Niagara Falls. And I will remember that there is a creator who is capable of anything.