Tag Archives: awkward

Jewish Comedy Blues

29 Mar

“Mrs. Woolf, why aren’t you coming to the Storytelling Festival?” A fourth-grader asks me sweetly.

I’ve told them it’s Ms like 40 million times but it’s March and if they don’t call me Ms. by now, it’s a lost cause.

“I have work. I run trivia at a bar next to my apartment.”

“A bar….with alcohol?” Another kid asks.

“Noooooo….a candy bar.”

*Silence*

“Haha! I’m kidding. Obviously an alcohol bar. Duh.”

I can’t believe it’s March already. I have learned so much long-division and so many facts about the Thirteen Colonies. It fills like 1/3 of my brain now. Do you know how often those things come up in conversation? None times. I have nothing to add to conversations now except what new thing Tim and Moby taught me. Oh, you don’t know who Tim and Moby are? They’re just some child/teen? boy and his friend robot who answer snail mail for some reason and know freaking everything. Bleep bleep blorp.

 

97469

Things get really weird in the later episodes when Moby gets into drag.

 

Stand-up/Improv is going really well.

I’m performing weekly for Thunderbolt Comedy starting this Sunday. It’s really the first time I’m with a team of improvisers who make me so anxious with their talent (why anxious? Because when you have Obsessive Disorder, anxiety is an appropriate response to everything!). They’re so good! And I’m not just saying that because I want you to come to our shows. Though you should. They’re only five dollars. C’mon. They’re also awesome because when I said I couldn’t hang out on a Friday/Saturday they were like “Oh man! Let’s hang out on Thursday then! We want everyone to be a part of it!” My heart was warmed as I checked my calendar and saw that that Thursday was Purim, a Jewish holiday. Shoot.

When I first started telling people I was a comedian, the immediate response a lot of people had was “But what about Shabbat? How are you gonna be successful when you can’t do shows on Shabbat?”

It’s a good question. A kind of rude one but a valid one. But since I was so new, I’d never really had any problems with conflicting  events since it’s not like people were begging me to be on their shows anyways. I signed up for Sunday shows, took classes during the week, not a problem.

Last month, a very nice man from the Broadway Comedy Club offered me a spot on an “industry night.” A show that’s for bookers and agents to assess new comedians and give them feedback. It seemed awesome. The producer called me and told me about what a good opportunity it was and how they’d love to have me.

“We do these shows about eight times a year. Our next one is…..the third Saturday in May at 7pm.”

My heart sunk. There’s no way I would be able to make it. I told him I wouldn’t be able to make it since I’m orthodox and keep Shabbat, getting there before 9pm just wasn’t an option in May. He wouldn’t let it go.

I’ll look up what time sundown is,” he offered. “I know about the different times because I do a lot of hiking.”

I laughed, sure go ahead.

“Hmmm….May, May, May….ah. Sundown, here it is. 8:13pm. Oh. That doesn’t work.”

“I know.”

“Can you walk? Can you stay by a friend? Can you take a train if someone else pays for it?”

I appreciated his interesting Halachic (Jewish law) questions about work and travel on Shabbat but still, I respectfully declined the offer.

I felt really bad. Like, not bad for him that I cancelled, but bad for myself. I threw myself a little pity party in the teacher’s bathroom. It wasn’t fair. I deserved this opportunity and I had to cancel it because of some random covenant with God? But through my quick and superficial disappointment, I understood that I had set these parameters when I started. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and that I wasn’t going to make exceptions. Shabbat has “booked” me for those 25 hours for the rest of my life and it’s not a gig I can back out of easily, nor is it a particularly good idea to. Shabbat is when I’m not working on my “brand.” It’s when I’m not checking my Twitter follower count or my blog page hits. I’m not seeing how many likes my statuses have. Buy mostly, it’s when I can sleep for a blissful 12 hours and spend time with people in my immediate vicinity.

A few weeks later, when my Harry Potter improv team wanted to switch to Saturday evenings, I mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to commit to that, our coach immediately responded that we’ll keep it to Sundays. It was the most amazing thing – it really confirmed my feeling that if you work hard enough and are talented enough, people will wait for you. Of course sometimes they won’t, or can’t, but as long as you’re doing your thing, do it for you. Not them. I’ve met some really special people in this community who have such a respect for religion and culture, it’s incredible. Those are the people you want to build something with.

 

new-brick-love.jpg

Specifically this. Thanks Del Close!

A lot of people I meet have ultimate goals to be on Saturday Night Live. That can’t be mine and I know that. I just want to perform and have fun, maybe make some money. Maybe do a commercial or two for a bank or insurance. Who knows?

Just like I tell the kids I teach: “Stop yelling and please step back you are really inside my personal space right now.”

 

 

A Leap Day Post

1 Mar

It’s Leap Day!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.37.58 PM.png

 

 

 

Which means TECHNICALLY I’m still living up to my blog-at-least-once-a-month-you-lazy-hunk-a-junk resolution!

Speaking of junk, in 6th grade I had a shirt that said “JUNK IN THE TRUNK” in really swirly letters. Why did my mom let me have that shirt? Also, I never got in trouble for it at my Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva so I’m pretty sure no one else including me understood it. Every day is another elementary school memory resurfacing.

I bet you’re all in suspense about that thing I wrote about a month ago – Yes! I did get the part and filmed it and it was awkward and amazing and terrifying and just the weirdest. It still hasn’t aired so I can’t show you what it is yet. Stay tuned!

I’m still teaching during the day. Still taking away heavy-duty tape dispensers away from kids who are deeming them to use them as weapons. I swear it’s like a prison yard sometimes except that in this case the shanks are pencils and can be sharpened quite efficiently and readily in every classroom.

Here’s some news about comedy: I’m on an improv house team at The Experiment Comedy Gallery. Which means you can see this beautiful face doing improv in Williamsburg three times a month (possibly more if Harry Potter Improv falls out on a Sunday I’m not doing a house team show). Better go quickly before the L train shuts down and strands us all on this God-forsaken island!

I’m still doing stand-up. I was on a “New Talent Night” show the other night. I went on last. When the host finally came half an hour late to start the show he made a big deal about how “WE HAVE A WOMAN ON THE SHOW TONIGHT YOU GUYS ISNT THAT CRAZY GET YOUR CAMERAS OUT.” It only went downhill from there, especially since there were actually TWO women that night on the show – it really makes you feel welcome at a show when the other comedians say the word ‘pussy’ about 45 times each, spend most of their 10 min talking about teenagers they slept with and end every jokes with a “right guys?”

If you’re wondering if women exaggerate their uncomfortableness at open mics and in comedy in general, from what I’ve heard and experienced myself – it is no hyperbole. 95% of interactions I’ve had on shows or with fellow male comedians has been great and supportive and wonderful but I get asked all the time how it is as a “female comedian” and I just need to have it on the record that sometimes it’s at best, icky and at worst, leaves you feeling like you’re in real danger (in my own experiences).

That’s where we all are right now! I’ll be back soon because it’s SPRING AND MY SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER IS GONE THANKS OBAMACARE.

 

My First Audition

12 Jan

*Tries to sneak into my blog like I haven’t been AWOL for three months.*

HI FRIENDS!

I’ve been reading an EXCELLENT book I borrowed from the UCB library called Long Story Short by Margot Leitman about learning how to craft stories for the stage (or seminars/Ted Talks/funerals/what-have-you). And one thing that really stuck with me so far is this quote she lives by “Most events in life can be categorized in one of two ways: A good time or a good story.” This quote really calms my anxiety about everything I’ve been doing in comedy so far (and non-comedy, but I don’t take that many risks outside of comedy these days) because it frames everything in a win/win situation. If whatever I’m worried about is great, then awesome! If it’s terrible, then I still get something out of it, either a story or learning experience (I read another wonderful quote that said mistakes are the fertilizer that grow our amazing ideas – not a great image but a good message.)

This is especially good to focus on after my Harry Potter Improvised show last night wasn’t me and my team’s best work. But instead of hyperventilating about it, my teammates and I sat down at a nearby pub afterwards and mapped out a game plan over beers on how to get better. It makes me wanna write myself one of those “grit tickets” we have in our classrooms that the fourth graders fill out when they stick with difficult math problems or logic puzzles.

10310957_472869856177383_7034603991692539349_n.jpg

 

I definitely had a new experience tonight. After seeing a friend’s post about a network looking for female comedians to participate in a “Comedy Project,” about women, I sent in my tape and bio, and got an audition for this past evening at 5 pm. The e-mail specified that I prepare 3-5 jokes centering around womany things. I was so nervous! I can count the amount of things I’ve auditioned for on one hand – and three of those things were talent-show related. One was an African American Drama Troupe (don’t ask.)

I showed up to the studios at 4:45pm. I had spent the past 15 minutes in the Duane Read beauty section across the street putting on hand lotion, sweating off hand lotion, nervously spraying myself with various perfumes, putting on more hand lotion. I am weirdly insecure about my hands (their size, feel, nails – it’s just all wrong) and I never pay more attention to them than before I know I’m going to have to shake someone’s hand. But hands aside, I was jazzed. Super jazzed. Cool people went to auditions. Joey Tribiani and people who wore leather jackets and people with perfect bedhead. I felt cool. But like cool and overly excited. Like a Golden Retriever puppy in  a swimming pool.

 

giphy.gif

Pictured: Me

 

 

“Aviva?” asked a man poking his head into the waiting room where I had been watching a man shoot basketballs into one of those arcade hoop game that was there for some inexplicable reason. “Come on in.”

The audition room was a table, a few chairs and giant TV. There were four people, two men and two women sitting around the table.

“HI MY NAME’S AVIVA AND THIS IS MY FIRST AUDITION!” I blurted in their faces.

“Oh, haha great! It’s like we’re taking your audition virginity,” said the man who was conducting it.

“HAHA YOU’RE WELCOME TO IT,” I yelled. Stop talking now. Everyone laughed like “Look at this adorable little naive puppy.”

“So basically you’re going to be right here by the chair. You can sit or stand, whatever you feel comfortable doing.”

“I’M GONNA LEAN” Stop narrating everything you’re doing, I berated myself. Leaning isn’t cool! Stop leaning! Just sit!

“That’s fine,” he responded. “Now, you’re gonna look into the camera, say your name. Pause. Tell us which female comedians inspire you. Pause. Say your jokes but with a breath between each one. Got it?” *Camera clicks on*

“GOT IT!

Hi my name’s Aviva Woolf. And. Um, what was a supposed to say again?”

I’ve been an actress for 12 seconds and I’ve already forgotten my lines.

“Comedians that inspire you….”

“RIGHT SORRY. Um, A lot. Like, Irma Bombeck, Nora Ephron, Lindy West. Mindy Kaling, Jessica Williams, Samantha Bee, Kristen Schaal, Aparna Nancherla, Megan Amram…umm…I’m sure I’m forgetting some…but yeah.” Smooth

I do my jokes to laughter. Genuine I hope. Do people at auditions fake laughter to be polite?

“NOW WHAT?” I ask, like we’re all gonna go get smoothies or something.

“Well, we’ll let you know if you’re right for the project in a week, we generally don’t tell people if they got it at the audition.”

“RIGHT. Okay, so like, should I just go home and refresh my e-mail inbox every five minutes…?”

“No. If a week passes and you don’t hear from us, then you won’t. But we have your info so…”

“OKAY. Great! I mean, not about the not hearing from you. I’d like to, but if I don’t like, it’s okay.”

“Well, we have your picture…” *Gently ushering me out the door*

“Yeah! So like, you know what I look like! If you see me on the street…okay. BYE EVERYONE I HAD SO MUCH FUN BYE.” *Closing door slowly while staring at them*

 

0ae8b596_office-michael-scott-close-door.gif

“Are you sure you guys don’t want smoothies?”

 

“Oh my God, did you ever leave????” texts my actress cousin Chana when I recount the audition to her. “Eventually” I type back.

So that’s the story  of my first non- high school audition. I legitimately have no idea if it went well or not. I was striving for memorable and I think I achieved it. Yay!

Onto the next adventure! Have a great night snowflakes!

 

 

My First Del Close Marathon

30 Jun

Friday:

“Happy DCM!” Ben Ramaeka says as he hugs me. I’m standing in line at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center waiting for my intern badge. I do what I always do when my former improv class teacher sees and immediately hugs me: “Oh! hi!” And think “I was awful in your 301 class!”

  He says “Happy DCM” like its a normal thing people say casually all the time that’s lost some meaning, like “Happy Birthday” or “The bathroom smelled like that before I went in.” But to me it’s a new greeting. DCM, or #DCM17 if you only understand Twitter speak, is the Del Close Marathon, an annual 72 hour improv celebration hosted by the founders of UCB to honor Del Close, a premiere influence on modern improvisational theater and former teacher to the likes of Amy Poehler, Adam McKay, Gilda Radnor and Bill Murray. Basically, the comedy cult leader that started it all. Teams from all over the world, UCB alums and popular show writers all come to NYC to perform on nine stages. 

It’s improv Christmas and Hanukkah (considering how many pale Jews grace their stages) rolled into one.

It was my first one and as an intern, I was required to work a shift. 

  “Now take care of this wristband,” says the volunteer automatically as he snaps a red band around my wrist. “It will get you into shows and the party space. It is IRREPLACEABLE. Don’t lose it.”

“Lose it? It’s attached to my arm how could I misplace it?” I wonder out loud.

“I know how much you love fisting, Aviva!” Yells my co-intern Spencer from a few people behind me in line. “Don’t lose it up someone’s ass!” People chuckle.

“Thanks Spencer!” I shout back.

Everyone’s a comedian.

Saturday:

 Since I am an orthodox Jewish person, I suffer from FOMOBOS (Fear of missing out because of Shabbat). I would be missing all the shows that started Friday night and Saturday day so as soon as we said Havdallah, Ari and I rushed out the door to see the show “Let’s Have a Ball,” featuring Kimmy Shmidt. I would also be participating in a show at 1:40 a.m., called Everybody’s Got a Gun, the premise of which would be that everyone on stage would also be holding a toy gun. In a moment of misguided brilliance, I decided that bringing my brother’s old Davy Crockett rifle would be hilarious, not quite planning on how I would carry this 2 foot semi-realistic looking gun from Washington Heights to the East Village. In the end I stuffed it into a long box taken from my father-in-law and hoped that no security guard would ask me what was in my box. 

  The show we saw was all right. Ellie Kemper was disappointingly underwhelming, but Improv Nerd‘s Brandon Gardner is a gem and actually one of my favorite improvisors at UCB so in the end it was a pretty solid. It ended at 11:15, I said goodbye to Ari, grabbed my fake gun in a box and headed down to the party space while it poured outside and my Bob’s squished with rain.

  The party space is pretty self explanatory. An area for performers, crew and VIP to hang out between shows with free alcohol and plenty of outlets to charge iPhones. The line to get in was looooooong. After waiting easily 35 minutes in the rain with other improvisors who were in various states of inebriation, I was close. The security guard at the front started yelling BACK, BACK everyone MOVE BACK. I turned around to see Nick Kroll and Rafi from The League walk right past us and into the elevator. This is an important detail for later. I also saw a high as anything dude get off the elevator and start shaking people’s hands down the line like he was the mayor.

  Finally, I made it upstairs and was greeted by a prom where I didn’t recognize anyone. It was so loud and dark, it was like a club filled with people in flannel, wearing backpacks. I stashed my gun to the side, got a beer and walked around. Eventually I ran into another intern and started chatting.

“Look, there’s Nick Kroll.” He said, pointing to a small group of people gathered outside the VIP area.

“Haha, Fuck Nick Kroll. He cut me in line before! The nerve of some people!” I said jokingly.

“You should go over there and tell him that.”

“Haha, yeah I don’t think so.”

“C’mon, go yell at him. I’ll hold him down if you want to get in any punches.”

I laughed and then kind of went, yeah OK. Let’s go yell at Nick Kroll, what else am I doing right now? Surprisingly, I had only drank 1/3 of my beer. My friend followed behind me.

“Excuse me, Nick Kroll?”

“Yes?” He said.

“I’m Aviva, I wanted to say hi.”

“Hi, are you comedian?” He asked while politely shaking my hand (his were very soft if you were wondering).

“Yeah…it’s going all right. I also wanted to tell you that you fucking cut in me in line earlier.”

He laughed, “Yeah, I don’t feel bad about that. Not even a little bit. Like, out of all the things I’ve done in my life, I feel the least bad about that.” He kind of gestured around himself like “Do you see who I am?” I nodded and felt that I had accomplished what I wanted to, but I was still in this conversation.

“Uh, well I have to go…um, get my gun now.” I said. “It was nice meeting you!” And walked away hoping that I said “TOY gun” or maybe that I had said nothing at all. My show was in ten minutes and I needed to get to the Magnet Theater.

  DCM shows ranged from hour long productions featuring Amy Poehler at 7 p.m. to 15 min bit shows starring students at 2 a.m. I was still jazzed to participate though. “Everybody’s Got a Gun,” starred around 17 people (most of whom worked with me at the East theater), which you’ll notice is a lot of people for a short show on a small stage. It wasn’t great. Before we walked on, I turned around to Spencer and said I said I was nervous. “Just remember this,” he said softly. “None of this matters at all.”

  After our show, it was too late to wait on any lines since they only kick people out of the theater every six hours and I didn’t feel like waiting four hours in the rain with my gun. I packed it in at 3 a.m. and went home to sleep for my shift on Sunday.

  Sunday:

I woke in the morning at nine. I had meant to wake up early to wait in line to see more shows but I decided to sleep instead. My shift was at The Theater for the New City, which I remembered from my days as a theater reviewer. Most of the shows for DCM there would be short ones put on by teams. My job was to stand at the front and answer questions. Most questions were “Where are they playing Pride and Prejudice?” One old lady asked me if I was an actress because I was so pretty. That doesn’t really have anything to do with DCM but it’s my blog and I’ll tell you about random compliments if I want to!

  The shift was uneventful and kind of an anti-climactic end to the IMPROV EXTRAVAGANZA. But I don’t think I prepared for this year. I didn’t make time to see shows, I didn’t research what would be where. I didn’t give myself enough time to hang out at the party space and yell at more famous people. I think next year I’ll be readier. Hopefully it won’t rain and hopefully I won’t be lugging around a cardboard box with a heavy rifle inside.

  But ultimately, it was a great experience. Not just the marathon itself but the feeling of community surrounding it. The building excitement weeks beforehand, the fact that I could meet a visiting Australian performer at a workshop and just talk about improv and connect over beats and characters and game. It’s cool to bond with people who value big choices and mistakes and learning. It’s actually a pretty good cult and I’m glad I joined.

FullSizeRender-3

First Day In Comedy School

4 Sep

For those paying attention, today was my first day of improv class at UCB (I go there now, I can shorten it) *dusts off letterman jacket.*

In true Aviva first-day fashion, I went to the wrong address first. I went to 590 8th avenue instead of 520. 590 8th avenue is a Chase Bank. For about 40 seconds I stood there and seriously considered the fact that maybe the school was IN the bank? Like, in the basement. Should I go in and ask? Maybe it’s a joke? Maybe I’m an idiot.

Maybe I should check the email again. No, it’s 520. I ran.

I don’t know what I was expecting but UCB is nice. Like a fancy dentist office/spa nice and clean. There’s big white desks and white walls along with a pretty and unfriendly receptionist. There’s a lot of bare rooms for classes. I got to 909 to see 15 people sitting quietly in two rows, checking their phones or staring off into space. Classic first day.

 Our teacher walked in a few min later, an exuberant comedian who explained the class rules to us. One of which was “don’t be a dick.” That wasn’t even his commentary. It was written on the syllabus.

  One of the requirements for the class is to see two UCB shows during our 8-week session. “I know it might be hard,” he said. “I mean you guys are here at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday so you clearly don’t have traditional 9-5 jobs. maybe you work at night or are just one of those people who don’t have to work, Swiss maybe.”

 We played some name games and some “get up and get used to being on front of people” stuff. I was a lot more nervous than I thought I’d be. Hands shaking, voice quavering nervousness, wondering if it was bad form to pass out in the middle of a made-up-on- the-spot monologue about Matt Lauer.

Luckily, it seems that the rest of the class is really encouraging and so far, nice. There’s a lot of run of the mill handsome leading role white guys with big smiles, a girl who looks like Riki Lindhome, a British dude who kept his giant headphones around his neck for most of the time and a dead-pan and stoic boy who I assume is from Japan since his name is Tokyo.

  During the break Tokyo asked if I was an actress. I laughed and shook my head. He said he was an actor. And that he was focused on serious roles…and that he didn’t like comedy.

That makes sense I thought.

“I just want people to love me…” he added almost sadly. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or maybe his comedy was just super complex.

Or maybe he was just fucking with me.

 As the class went on we learned more basics, not just ‘yes and’. UCB teaches long form improv which means it’s not short party games like on Whose Line is it Anyways but completely made up scenes based on audience suggestions. It’s not just being creative off the tip of your head but understanding how to craft an entire character and scene out of mainly your dialogue. Slowly, I felt more comfortable. A little bit. Like, not seeing floating specks in front of your eyes anymore progress.

“Even if you don’t go into comedy,” said our instructor. “If anything, you’ll develop the skills to bullshit your way out of any situation.”

  Which is good because I am a terrible liar. I mean, I’m a great liar! i really WAS sick and couldn’t go to your birthday party in Brooklyn last week, I promise.

Good Will Hunting and Why Daydreaming Is Important

10 Dec

One more week ya’all. One. More. Week.

I have two projects and a quiz tomorrow, which is why I’m writing on my blog tonight and not writing about why CVS’s SEC’S 10-Q report in 2013 is more than its 10-Q in 2012 (Look, I took this reporting on the economy class this semester and I’m obviously not going to end up doing anything with the information I’ve gleaned so I have to shoe-horn it into as many conversations as possible. It’s harder than you think. No one wants to hear you say “Haha! That movie failed harder than the idea to repackage risky mortgages which led to the financial collapse of 2008!” That is a true story.)

Worse is that I also just watched Good Will Hunting last night with my roommate and now I have to be like to my friends, “I know this is 16 years too late but I want to discuss this movie now!” If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a boy who just wants to be a simple janitor but has a terrible disease. He’s really good at math. One day some professors discover his secret and ruin his life and make him see a therapist for his mutant math powers until he runs away. Lesson: Math never helped anyone do anything. Also lesson: If your soundtrack doesn’t have at LEAST four Elliot Smith songs, than it can’t legally be counted as a 90s movie.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what the movie was about but that was kind of what it seemed like to me. Maybe watch it yourself, OMG it’s been 13 years what are you waiting for?! (#movieshaming)

But the movie made me anxious. Really a lot of it is “Spending money on college is dumb! Read more books and just smart yourself up that way! Or just be really good at something like math or just resign yourself to construction work.”

It also had some good points too like “Don’t give up” and “It’s not your fault” and “How do you like them apples?”

But you didn’t come here to get a review of Good Will Hunting (and if you did you have amazing luck! Good for you!)

You came because…???… you’re my mom and you like being a supportive parent. Or you maybe you typed Virginia Woolf into Google with mangled fingers and got this blog instead, who knows?

Anyways, in my on-going effort to figure out what I want to do with my life, today I talked to and drank coffee with real life awesome journalist/author/friends’ mom/best friend’s mom-in-law/super nice lady who lets me stay at her house with her family when I have no place to go for Jewish holidays – Adina Rishe Gewirtz. (Her YA book “Zebra Forest” got super great ratings on Good Reads. Click if you don’t believe me even though you should why did you come to my blog if you don’t believe the things I write??”)

Talking to other writers is fun for me if a little intimidating. Because I always think authors and journalists have some secret to success that isn’t just “write every day and you will get better at it.” Because that’s what you have to do. And I know that but I always hope just once someone will be “Oh, you just have to do 700 jumping jacks and drink Absinth out of a shoe and it’ll all fall in place!” (Although I’m sure if I actually did that, I would come out with some interesting writing.)

But I actually got a lot more out of our coffee klatch so because I think the stuff we talked about is good advice for everyone (although some stuff is more specific to journalists) I wanted to share it with you too.

– Daydreaming is important – (This might be for writers and not like, surgeons. So if you have someone’s life in your hands daily, please don’t daydream. If you have a character’s life in your hand then yes daydream away)

— Having a voice is more important than being an expert on something that you’re writing about because you can always do research. (Again, probably more for writers)

– Life is all about taking risks. 

– Just because you think of yourself as one way doesn’t mean that that is a concrete or even accurate representation of yourself.

– “Life is pieces” –  I think this helps with my writing and anxiety. You can’t really look down the road and know what’s going to happen, life is about living in ‘today.’ Just like with writing, you have to write one word, one page, one chapter and not focus on the whole book.

It’s very strange that so many writers are the same in the respect that we all might possibly be insane. Insane for thinking that writing stories is a smart career choice, insane for thinking that our work will make a difference to people, insane for bringing people into worlds we create and characters from our heads. But all writers I’ve met have this indestructible hope that hundreds of rejections can’t kill. It’s inspiring. And then also this humble surprise when people like their writing. I may not know what I want to do with my life but talking to successful people is always helpful.

When I came home from Starbucks, my friend happened to send me an amazing quote that very beautifully summed up how I was feeling about my future (which, despite meeting with my professors, bosses and authors about what I want to be when I grow up is still “???”)

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. 

And the point is, to live everything. 

Live the questions now. 

Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I think that’s what I’m going to do. Learn to love the questions. Live the answers. Try to soak up as much advice and knowledge in the next 5 days before I am tossed into the next phase of my life. The dreaded  exciting “REAL WORLD.” (Not the show, but as in “Aviva, in the real world you can’t tell your co-worker you want to ‘fight their face’ when you get mad” or “Aviva, in the real world you can’t go on BuzzFeed all day” or “Aviva,in the real world we still won’t give you money for writing.”

Okay! Back to homework.

Good night my little ducklings.

 

BuzzFeed, Brainiacs and Bread

29 Aug

Oh, hello friends. I didn’t see you there. I was just sitting here eating chili at 1:47 p.m. watching Sex and the City (why is it that the episode about Miranda’s abortion is ALWAYS on E!) I’m supposed to be calling someone about renter’s insurance but I can’t because it’s not the last minute and I don’t know how to do things at the second-to-last minute. Because of Generation X or journalism majors or whatever something BuzzFeed told me yesterday when it was explaining to me things I like and things I hate.

Image

Sums it up pretty nice.

I hope you all are having fun buying back-to-school clothes or back-to-work alcohol. Since I am still trying hard not to buy any unnecessary clothing I envy you. However yesterday I went to Modell’s to get some new sneakers for my friend Mel’s 5K race she asked me to join her team, the Brainiacs. It’s the Color Run in New York City and she’s raising money to cure AVMs and I donated because an AVM attacked my friend Mel and even though we got to use her handicapped sticker for like 6 months, it was still very uncool of it to do that.

The last run I did was the Mud Run in DC. After the race they asked if anyone wanted to donate their disgusting muddy shoes and since mine were pretty beat up I threw them in the pile with my grody muddy socks as well. I forgot that I still had to cross a large parking lot made of shmoiling hot tar to get to my car though. This meant that I had to hop-hop-hop-rest when I got to a car’s shadow, hop-hop-rest, hop-hop-rest like I was some sort of Hannah Barbera cartoon tip-toeing around. This made me look extremely suspicious to all the normal people walking to their cars who kind of pulled their children closer to them.

We’ve been looking for halls recently for the big W (I usually don’t say the W word – instead refer to it like “I’m worried that at some day in the near future I will be the center of attention and people will actually notice how I really dance!”

Image

Pictured: What I usually end up doing at other people’s weddings.

We went to a place in Brooklyn last week that was way more religious than I wanted it to be, separate entrances, not even for the ceremony but just to get into the building.  The man in charge showed us around while I zoned out because I knew it wasn’t the place for me, even though it was actually beautiful I felt like Anastasia pre-murdered family.

He took us to a closet and pulled out a giant orange fabric that I realized was the Chuppah.

“We DON’T have a white chuppah,” He said.

“Um…Ok,” I answered.

“White chuppahs get dirty, they stain. We only have orange.”

“…sure,” I was wondering if someone had called him telling him I had desperately wanted a white chuppah.

“So if you always wanted a white chuppah. We. Don’t. Have. One.”

“Fine?”

“Now, here’s the runner to the chupah. It’s red. We don’t have white.”

I looked around to see if anyone was going to save me from this conversation.

“White ones get stained. They cost money to clean. We have red.”

OMG I would’ve taken no chuppah and no carpet if he would just stop talking to me about colors. Luckily, instead we all went to his back office and he started talking about the food for the W. Including the fact that with separate seating for the day (also not on my wish-list) , men would be getting big Challah rolls while women would get mini-rolls. I asked why and he responded that women don’t eat as much bread.

WELL, I wasn’t going to stand for bread-sexism! We immediately left (after we sampled all the food from the shmorg obviously, I mean we shlepped out to Brooklyn for Pete’s sake.)

Also, I just tried to Google a picture of girl with bread and this is what Google thought I wanted to look at. Not cool Google,

Image

Anyways – off to not do any of the things on my to-do list except maybe nap.

Mermaid Whores and Goth Ballerinas

21 Aug

I have finally finished the business class I was taking this summer – so now it’s time to finally focus on the important things in my life now, like what dress am I gonna wear in 6 months? Questions women have been pondering for ages.

 

Last time I went wedding dress shopping was with my friend Shira, back in January or so. First we went to a gamach which is a sort of center where Jewish brides either donate their gowns for other brides or it lends dresses to brides at zero costs. We had gone to one in Lakewood, NJ, an area known for some pretty religious families. The one we went to was being run out of this very pregnant lady’s basement of her pretty fancy house. Shira was trying on all these intense looking behemoth layered dresses when I mentioned that one particular dress was nice because it was kind of plain up top so she could wear a necklace on it. Shira replied that she wasn’t planning on wearing jewelry on her wedding day. The preggo lady gasped, “Nothing?! You’re not getting anything in the Yichud* room?”

I raised my eyebrows suggestively, “Oh, she’s getting somethin’ in the Yichud room all right.” The woman shot me a dirty look.

Shira looked confused, “What do you mean? I’ve never heard of getting jewelry in the Yichud room?”

The woman put a hand protectively on her clavicle, “Well, I don’t know what circles you run in but around here he gives you something in the Yichud room, usually it’s a pearl necklace.”

I had to leave to keep from laughing. I’m probably going to hell.

Anyways, I went wedding dress shopping today. I wasn’t super into it at first. I remember when I went prom dress shopping with my mom in 12th grade. That seemed like a bigger deal. But maybe that’s because I was allowed to wear whatever revealing dress I could dream up and now I have to comply with some rules (i.e. please don’t ever look like a gothic ballerina this time.)

 

Black Swan meets omg-were-you-drunk-is-that-a-fake-tattoo-on-your-chest-yes-it-is.

Black Swan meets omg-were-you-drunk-is-that-a-fake-tattoo-on-your-chest-yes-it-is.

 

Macy’s was stop one. The woman helping us was like 9 months pregnant and she seemed in no mood to help me in to 5 different dresses just to hear me say, “I look like a mermaid whore.” They also had about like 12 dresses so we cut our visit pretty short. Next stop was a place next door called Bridal Salon. This place was like some magical fairy-tale land of white dresses just begging me to accidently step on them. There were floor to ceiling windows and everything was covered in lace and tulle. I just wanted to curl up in basket of veils and fall asleep, knowing that everything was going to be nice and clean forever.

We explained to the woman helping us that we were looking for a dress that could accommodate sleeves to be built on (why are wedding dresses all strapless and sleeveless? I mean, people get married in the winter too right? And I’m sorry, there’s no strapless bra in the world that will convince me that I can pull off a strapless dress. There are just some things I know, OK? And if I was Randy on Say Yes to the Dress I would tell that to a LOT of people as well).

They brought out some dresses that had lace sleeves on them. I went into the dressing room to try it on and a few others. Here’s something I didn’t know: You can’t put on a wedding dress alone. A stranger has to help you. And sometimes that stranger will say “You’re not wearing the right bra. Take it off and let’s put it on and see how that looks with no straps showing through the lace.” And sometimes you will have to stand there topless while a stranger dresses you. Sometimes that has to happen through 5 different dresses while you try to carry on a normal conversation about Oh-your-son-goes-to-Binghamton-that’s-so-funny-my-brother-goes-there-how-nice while you’re nonchalantly pretending like you’re wearing something in between getting in and out of mounds of crinoline.

My friend Liana pointed out that it’s not normal how many times I find myself topless in front of people BUT it’s not as it sounds. Sometimes it’s the fitting ladies at Linda’s Bras telling me they need to get a better fit. Sometimes it’s the Russian spa lady in San Diego telling me  in broken English that I can’t wear clothes during the personal spray tan session (yes, I got a spray tan once – WHILST on vacation in San Diego. Deal with it. I was coming home with a tan EVEN if it was January and I spent most of the time crying hysterically in the lobby over a break-up. What I’m trying to say is that it was a good 21st birthday weekend)

Back to today – the first dress I had tried on was actually perfect. We decided on it. Then the woman who was helping called over a different woman to take my measurements. This woman, a thin put-together lady with an impossibly high pony-tail, came over and said “You look gorgeous, now let’s get you in the dressing room and get you naked.” At least when she took my measurements she let me keep my bra on so that was nice.

I still felt like some weird impostor trying on dresses. Especially I could tell the fitting woman was searching for the non-existent ring.  It feels like it’s some weird ridiculous joke I’m playing on these people – I guess it doesn’t feel *real* yet. But either way, it’s another thing I can cross off my list before school starts in a couple of weeks.

Other things I have to do before school starts: e-mail my professor and tell him I’m going to be missing like 34 days because all the High Holidays this year fall on the most inconvenient days for me (thanks a lot God),  get the window in my apartment fixed because I’m on the first floor and it doesn’t close/lock and I will definitely be murdered probably soon.

 

Hope your August is winding down nicely!

 

 

*In Jewish weddings, a “Yichud room” is where a bride and groom go right after the ceremony for a bit. Traditionally it’s for couples who don’t touch before marriage to like shake hands or something (I’m clearly well versed in my religion) but mostly it’s for brides and grooms to eat from the smorgasbord that gets delivered to their room. And then they can eat and I guess talk shit about people’s outfits without them hearing.

Stanford Wedding Experiment

14 Aug

Everyone gather around, actor announcement. Well two.

1. I haven’t kept y’all updated on my no-buying pledge I impulsively took last month. I have really tried to not buy useless clothing, or shop when I’m bored or sad and so far that has been working pretty well. I bought leggings yesterday because all of mine are getting worn-in from me wearing them all winter (and get that judgmental look off your face because leggings as pants are HELLA comfortable)  and I also bought a new dress for my engagement party. But that’s IT.

2. Huh? Engagement party? Whose? Well mine ding-dongs. I finished work and now my work blog is a wedding blog. Feminism!

Well, it’s a little hard to jam-pack into this blog about who/what/where/when/why because I need something to talk about when I am in real life and start stories just to have the other person go “Yeah, I know. I read it on your blog.” Very sad for Real Life Aviva. But anyways, I knew it was going to happen some time after my internship ended and school started. Since I have one more semester at UMD and I am a Jewess whose parents don’t believe in shacking up before marriage, I am getting hitched (I make it sound so romantic right?) But no, I’m really happy if a little overwhelmed. This week has been at least very interesting.

Firstly, I realized just how uncomfortable I am when good things happen to me. Not in a Ray Romano something-bad-is-going-to-happen-now kind of way but a I-would-rather-everyone-have-the-exact-amount-of-happiness-as-me-or-I-don’t-know-how-to-process kind of way. Love is so arbitrary and I feel so lucky but I wish I could be happy without feeling guilty. I like when awkward and/or terrible things happen to me because those are more interesting than a wonderful perfect proposal, no one wants to hear about how great everything is with you. I mean, my Bubby does but everyone else wants dirt on how hilariously hard things are, I’ve learned in my short time on this planet.

Secondly, you’re all familiar with the Stanford Prison experiment right? (You are if you took Psych100 – also know as WakeMeUpWhenIStartSnoringMollie101, it was at 3 p.m.) It basically explores what happens when you give people too much power and how fast they become sadistic dictators. I think that’s what happens with weddings and why we have the term Bridezilla.

I never was the girl who planned her wedding or liked Bride Wars or 27 Dresses. I watched TLC’s Four Weddings because it was so ridiculous. I am the Miranda of my group, cynically making fun of over the top affairs, secretly wishing to get married in some backyard in a white romper.

Image

I didn’t know this was a thing until I Googled it but shut up and take my money.

I had planned on being a benevolent bride, letting people do whatever they want. But something’s happened in the past 7 days. I mentioned before that I don’t feel comfortable with too much power. I stress out when I have to choose what movie we’re all going to watch. But people (my mom) are now constantly telling me “This is YOUR special day” “Everything is up to YOU” “We will do whatever YOU want.” And I found myself saying things like “Well, if your sister doesn’t want to use the designer I choose then she doesn’t have to be a bridesmaid” or “Why do my color choices have to revolve around the fact that everyone in my party is a redhead?!”

Image

“DYE YOUR HAIR OR DON’T COME”

Even as I was saying them, I was like that seems a little dramatic. It’s the most interesting/crazy feeling to simultaneously care so much  yet  so little about something. I am definitely seeing how those guards got used to so much power. I hope no one ever puts me in charge of anything real. I need someone to walk around with me all day like “Stop being a Bridetator”

Another interesting side point from all these shenanigans is that I didn’t want a ring. So my fiance got me a necklace. When I mentioned this a few weeks ago to a friend’s sister, she was like “But….all girls want a ring. You’re supposed to get a ring,” as she flashed her own giant finger bling. Well no, not all girls want rings for a variety of reasons. Mine are: rings get caught in my clothes, I sleep with my hands under my face, my fingers swell in the summer and also I would take it off all the time and definitely lose it in 5 seconds. A couple of people have given me side glances like “What a freak – she doesn’t wanna wear a lower/middle-class person year’s salary on her hand to show people she’s betrothed. Weirdo.”  Engagement rings have an interesting history, did you know in Colonial times, men gave women thimbles as a “symbol of undying companionship?” (And also a not-so-subtle hint that she’s gonna be pretty busy sewing up some socks and pants forevz) Don’t even get me started on diamonds. That being said, if you have a diamond ring I’m sure it is beautiful  and amazing and I’m going to stop talking about them in front of you now…

So to sum up, I am much better at talking about my internship than this impending wedding thing. I don’t really know what will happen with this blog. Will I get a handle on it all? Will I pass my on-line business class final next week?  What’s going to happen on Orange is the new Black?!?!

Stay tuned.

Tisha B’av – As Told By Someone Who Only Understands Pop Culture

15 Jul

Tuesday is Tisha Ba’v. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Tisha Ba’v is the 9th day of the month of Av in the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the day when the first and second temple were destroyed. On that day, practicing Jews refrain from eating and drinking, bathing, listening to music and sitting comfortably. Jews in summer camps burn words made out of sticks, watch Schindler’s List and play cards.

 

"Oh no my stick collection!"

“Oh no my stick collection!”

 

A couple of years ago, I wrote about why I liked the holiday of Tisha Ba’v – because it forces us to confront the worst aspects of our history as well as ourselves. It’s uncomfortable to sit on the floor of your temple and hear accounts of the bloody and awful destruction, it’s awkward to be forced to watch movies about the Holocaust. Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days of the year, we cheer each other up with jokes, we drown our sorrows with Ben & Jerry’s, we play the same Adele song over and over again. But not on Tisha B’av.

For those not familiar with the story of why the Jews were expelled from the second temple, it almost reads like the plot of Mean Girls.

Imagine you go to Israelite High school (class of ’70 CE! whoo- hoo!) It’s a pretty good school, you guys get good grades and you’re always winning sports things (nationals? Are sports not the same as the glee club?) and whenever nearby schools play any pranks you guys totally get them back. Sure there are cliques, every school has ‘em. There are the athletes, the kids in College Bowl, the really rich girls, the boys who spend 7th period hanging out setting things on fire in the chemistry lab, that girl who looks way too old to be in high school and is always asking you questions about what normal teens do.

 

 

"Mmm...blending in."

“Mmm…blending in.”

 

 

You guys used to be tight in elementary school but something’s changed. The lines between the groups are hardly crossed anymore. It’s gotten to the point where people have started being cruel. Everyone talks shit about each other. Your friends are ragging on a boy you know for a fact they’ve never talked to. Different groups accuse the other of not caring about the school or your teams, the worst offense. You can’t sit with us!

Then finally, at the end of the year there’s a huge party at this popular girl Kaitlyn’s house. And Kaitlyn fucked up the email addresses of the people she wanted to come and accidentally invited this girl who she hated. And when this girl showed up with some Smirnoff and was like “Hey girl, I’m glad we can put this whole dumb fight behind us.” Kaitlyn was like “GTFO and don’t come back.” You thought it was stupid drama but everyone couldn’t stop talking about it. (This isn’t even a fake anecdote to add to the high school theme – this crazy party ordeal actually happened)

Finally, your principal gets mad. Really mad. He’s like “Fine, you don’t want to be a unified school anymore? You’re all expelled!” and then to make sure no one can come back he burns the school down and immediately retires. (Well, more like Mr. Feeny retires, in the sense that you won’t find him at school every day but he’ll pop up sometimes when you go to college, or at your wedding or when you realize that you signed up for gibberish college classes and fly to Wyoming.)

 

 

I get it C, i had gibberish college classes to. They were called math.

I get it Cory, I had gibberish college classes too. They were called math.

 

 

Now you all have to go to different schools – rival schools. Roman High. And all those kids are jerks. They don’t know your football cheers, or have Pajama Day or remember the time Brian Masters got his head stuck in the volleyball net. They suck. You miss Israelite High.

Now replace high school with nation and that’s pretty much why the Jews were exiled – baseless hatred. Being judgmental assholes. And it’s not surprise we haven’t learned our lessons yet.

We are a society that loves to hate.

We hate Justin Bieber. We hate Kim Kardashaian. We hate the barista that fucked up our drink order even though it was so simple. We hate that girl from high school who keeps sending us dumb game requests on Facebook. We hate our ex-boyfriends. We hate Taylor Swfit’s ex-boyfriends. We hate Taylor Swift. We hate Obama. We hate Romney. We hate that guy who traps you in a conversation about how stressed he is and how much he hates his professor. God, we hate that guy. Because guess what? Hating feels awesome. Hating feels powerful. Hating means that you are better than something and someone. That you have the ability to say you have other options. You’re different. And it’s tearing us apart.

 

 

How could you hate a face like that?

“Why did you call me a cry baby??”

 

 

Confession: When I was 15-years-old I went on a travel trip with a bunch of other teens, mostly from the New York area. And it was awful. I cried all the time. I was shy and awkward and couldn’t make friends very easily. One day I was sitting in a hotel room with a bunch of obnoxious girls talking about other kids on the program.

One girl stops brushing her hair to say, “I hate X.” And another girl asks why. The first girl shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t know. I just do.”

I was speechless. I couldn’t even get someone to be nice to me. I didn’t have the luxury to decide that I hated someone.

Then in high school, for a short time, I was ran with a crowd of girls who loved talking shit about other people. It felt good to be on the other side. I had the ability to say I don’t need you. You mean nothing to me and therefore I can say whatever I want about you. But after a while, I felt sick. I had too much empathy for the people they were picking on. And after I decided I didn’t want to partake in their little games, I realized I didn’t really have that much in common with them. And I was much happier with the new friends I eventually made when I realized that there’s more to friendships than gossip; like talking about TV shows.

 

 

And by "other friends" I mean these guys. And by "TV shows" I mean, these were my friends.

And by “other friends” I mean these guys. And by “TV show” I mean, these were my  only friends.

 

As hard as it is to believe, Judaism is all about teamwork. God hates when we talk shit about each other and hate each other for no reason. There’s something that used to be a thing back in the day of the temple but not anymore. When someone committed Lashon Harah, or “evil talk”/gossip, they would contract an awful skin disease. God was literally saying “You wanna be ugly on the inside? Cool, now you’re ugly on the outside.” And then the gossiper had to live in a house on the outskirts of town until they could be given the cure.

Can you imagine? Imagine if every time you wanted to say something awful about someone you had to live in a house with other gossipy bitches. Do you know what house that is? It’s the America’s Next Top Model house. It’s the Kardashian household. It’s the Jersey Shore. I’m not asking you to stop talking about other people, that’s unrealistic and irresponsible to ask but JUST imagine that before you spoke about someone think Is this worth not seeing any of my friends again? Is it worth it? Today we might not have physical walls keeping people who judge unfavorably apart but speech builds its own walls. Hate keeps people out.

Recently, on a website I found on how to live minimalistic, I read a post about decluttering the negative thoughts from your life. It said Take responsibility for your mind. Realize that your thoughts and speech have a profound effect on the universe. We don’t have the temple because we’re still having petty thoughts and arguments. Take responsibility for your role in uniting the Jewish people. If Tisha B’av teaches us anything is that we have to stop being assholes to each other. There’s nothing you have to wake up early to do, nothing you have to spend extra money on, nothing you have to announce to your family at your next holiday….you don’t even have to start being nice. Just stop adding hate.

 

 

"Mom, Dad...I'm converting to...niceness."

“Mom, Dad…I’m converting to…niceness.”

 

I hope one day to be in a setting where someone makes an offhand comment about how much she likes someone. And when another person asks why, she’ll shrug and say “I don’t know, I just do.”

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Willfully Disobedient

because behaving is boring

Invisible Mikey

philosophic topics and the arts

All Romance Reads

Get Your Swoon On