Tag Archives: jewish

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.

 

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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.”

 

 

Bye Hannukah!

5 Dec

Happy 8th night of Hannukah! Or if you’re not Jewish, happy Wednesday!

 

Go on, say it. You've deserved it.

Go on, say it. You’ve deserved it.

 

I’m pretty sad to see the holiday go this year. Not just because I got some sweet Hannukah swag (a hat, a scarf, a robe, a winter headband, pajama pants  – for some reason everyone thought I needed to be warmer than I currently was this year. Which is nice. Penguin-printed pajama pants are always appreciated)

I also wanted to say that the outreach from people about my last post was really astounding. I’m really glad that a lot of people could relate (well not glad that other people have anxiety, but glad that I felt less alone and that my words helped).

For weeks before Hannukah, I kept thinking “Just make it to Hannukah, just make it to Hannukah.”

Why? I have no idea. I mean, I’ve always liked Hannukah but for some reason this year I just really needed to focus on miracles. Focus on the fact that God can change anything at the drop of a dreidle. And now that it’s over, I feel like some lights have gone out within me as well. But I have one more thought about the holiday before we say goodbye.

There’s a scene in the movie Whip It where Ellen Page decides that she wants to join a roller derby league to escape her boring tiny Texas town. When she first learns of the sport, she goes up to one of the team members, Kristen Wiig and says “I just want you to know that you’re all my hero.” Kristin Wiig says, “Well put some skates on. Be your own hero.”

I was thinking that last night when I was crying over something depression/anxiety/OCD induced. I thought of my own heros, my friend Mel who went through several brain surgeries and remains the most positive person I know. My mom, who dealt with her own devils and came out stronger. And thought if I can go through this and make the best of this, then I can be my own hero. And then I stopped trying to feel positive not for other people, or because I felt I had to but because I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be my own hero.

 

Well, maybe not this superhero.

Well, maybe not this hero.

 

There are a couple of things I like about Hannukah. One is that the lack of something can make us tougher. Like blind people using echolocation to “see,” when one of our strengths are taken away that doesn’t make us weaker. It can make us stronger. If we choose it. When we don’t have our “lights,” we find that we have things inside us that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. When our Temple was destroyed, yes our light was taken away. But at that moment what did we find we had that we might not have found otherwise?

Determination

Strength

Faith

The ability to take on the mighty Greek army. The devotion to believe in miracles again. The fortitude to start again.

Hannukah is all about being your own hero. Think about Yehudit, (my fave lady and whom I share a name with #Yehuditpower). She was like “You guys aren’t DOING THIS REBELLION GOOD ENOUGH! Do I have to do everything around here? BRB I’ll just go chop this Greek general’s head off.”

And then she fed him cheese and wine until he got drunk and she chopped off his head and came back to the Jews like “Lol we have to do something about this sh*t now BECAUSE THE GREEKS ARE PROBABLY GOING TO BE PISSED – so let’s do this rebellion thing right!” (I wasn’t there, but I think those are the words she used)

 

Here she is, casually severing some dude's head while her friend looks on like "OMG can't we do something NORMAL on Saturday nights anymore?"

Here she is, casually severing some dude’s head while her friend looks on like “OMG can’t we do something NORMAL on Saturday nights anymore?”

 

Something I’m going to take me this Hannukah, especially in light of whatever my brain decides to do this week is that sometimes you can’t wait for a miracle. Sometimes you need to be your own hero and believe the miracles will come later. For the good of yourself. For the good of your family. For the Jewish people. It’s hard. It’s SUPER hard.

But another thing Hannukah leaves me with is that nothing is impossible.

I recently asked my friend Mel how she stays so positive and upbeat despite all the terrible things she’s been through:

“Keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel and it will help you right through. Like going through an MRI. I have to look through to the light otherwise I feel like I’m trapped in a coffin. Just like in life. Don’t dwell on the negative.”

I asked if she ever got depressed or angry.

“Yes. Those are important emotions to feel but terrible emotions to live by.”

But sometimes the simplest solution is the one that works best. Apparently. It works for Mel, let’s see if it works for me.

Thus concludes Hannukah for this year. But the good thing about the Jewish calendar is that another holiday is right around the corner. Anyone have any good Purim costume ideas?

 

"Ugh! I do! Call on me!"

“Ugh! I do! Call on me!”

Aside

I have a little Dreidle, I made it out of Turkeys

21 Nov

Hello friends!

I missed you! I’ve missed this. I’ve missed writing for the sake of writing and not for a grade or to fulfill a requirement (as important as that is for my life right now). But I’m glad I have a second to sit here and blog for the time being.

I hope you’ve had a productive past couple of months. I think the last time I wrote it was almost Rosh Hashana and now it’s coming up on “Thanksgivvakah” (BTW, I’m so happy I’m not going to be around in 77,000 years because if I see one more “Recipes that combine Hannukah and Thanksgiving!” or “DIY hacks for your Thankgivakkah party!” I might lead a Turkey rebellion (see what I did there? I combined the rebellion of Hannukah and the fact that turkeys don’t want to be eaten for Thanksgiving – get it?! BECAUSE ITS A COMBO DAY!)

Great! You landed on Turkey! You get to apologize to Judah the Maccabee!

Great! You landed on Turkey! You get to apologize to Judah the Maccabee!

If anything, I’m bummed we combine them this year. It’s like having your birthday fall on well, Hannukah. But it’s fine, we’ll spin the wishbone, light string beans in your Menorahs and talk about how Pocahantas got Holofernes drunk and then cut off his head. It’ll be great.

I’m extra excited for Hannukah this year. And not because the Maccabeats just put out a new video. Which I’ve watched about 47,000 times. But because I’m seeing the holiday in a new light (HA! MORE JOKES!) this year.

We all know Hannukah is about miracles. It’s about the righteous beating the wicked. It’s about a tiny jug of oil burning for 7 extra days. It’s about bringing light into into the darkness that is the winter – and our spiritual winter.

But it’s also about the rededication of the Beis Hamikdash. Compared to the other stuff, the rededication almost seems like an afterthought. I mean, there’s nothing supernatural about cleaning up our holy temple and getting our stuff back together. Even though the name of the holiday alludes to the rededication, *clearly* the other stuff we celebrate is so much cooler! I never thought that the rededication was that exciting. It’s definitely not the main plot of the Rugrats Hannukah special.

Obviously the lesson of that movie was "It's OK to let babies light candles"

Obviously the lesson of that movie was “It’s OK to let babies light candles”

But in fact, it could be the biggest miracle of the holiday. When the Beit Hamikdash was new. It was a novelty, it was exciting. People were jazzed. People were talking about it. I’m sure they wrote all about it the Jerusalem Post.

But that’s to be expected. When things are new, people are gonna get behind it. The fact that the Temple was destroyed and people got jazzed *again* is an even bigger deal than when the Temple was dedicated the first time.

It is SO hard to get back up when something you’re used to gets demolished. It’s SO hard to bounce back from destruction and rebuild. If I was there during those times and saw that the Greeks had graffitied “GOD SUCKS – ZEUS RULES!” on the Aron, I might’ve been like “Ugh, guess we’re just going to have find some other way to serve God. I’m not spending my Sunday squeeging this place. Instead of a Temple, maybe we’ll make like a circus tent. A collapsable one. So if anyone tries to mess with us again, we’ll just fold it up and paint ourselves to match the forest Peeta-style until they can’t find us.”

The only logical conclusion.

The only logical conclusion.

But the Jews didn’t do that. They sighed and got back to work. When life knocks you down (or shifty Greeks) you get back up.

You get back up.

These past few weeks have been really hard for me, you guys. Something bad has happened in my brain. The pressures of school, internship, the wedding combined with a terrible night of combining alcoholic drinks, along with some chemical imbalance and hormonal imbalance has caused some sort of volcano that triggered a panic disorder.

It hasn’t been fun. I have had no experience with mental imbalance. For a while it seemed like my head a very dark place. I was scared to be alone in it. If you know what it’s like to not be able to trust your own mind, you might know what that’s like. For a while i felt hopeless that anything was going to change. That I may be stuck with these thoughts forever.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten a little better after getting help. I’m on a very weird journey right now. It’s hard to explain. It feels like this whole scary experience has been sort of a wake-up call for me. But i’m not sure what it means yet.

All I know for sure is that every bad experience you go through makes you more empathetic. Every scary thing you go through makes it easier to endure the next one. Every fear you live through is another opportunity to laugh at it.

When life knocks you down, you don’t give up.

Whether it’s Greeks, grades, accidents, weather or your own brain.

You get back up. You clean up. You light a match.

And most importantly, you don’t forget. You don’t forget your struggle because struggles make us stronger.

Be a Maccabee, be strong.

Six more days until Hannukah!

Love,

Aviva

The God Network renews “YOU” for another season. A Rosh Hashanah Post.

1 Sep

Dear Buddies,

For a while, I really wanted to write a post about having confidence and being happy with ourselves but I’ve put that off because Netflix told me not to but instead watch more seasons of Parks and Rec but I realized that my would-be post and the upcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana kind of intersected nicely so that is what this post is about.

For those of you who do not know, Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. But unlike the January 1st New Year, we don’t put a flimsy shimmery noisemaker in our mouth but a dead ram’s horn. Fun for the whole family!

 

Best used when blown directly into someone's face.

Best used when blown directly into someone’s face!

 

Other Rosh Hashana traditions include: eating apples, inevitably getting sticky honey on your new H&M dress, anticipating parody songs about the new year by popular Jewish a capella groups, sitting in synagogue for hundreds of thousands of hours and for some, making small talk with elderly aunts, putting animal heads on our tables.

 

Or heads of lettuce for all of you who don't like lifeless watching you while you eat (weirdos).

Or heads of lettuce for all of you who don’t like lifeless watching you while you eat (weirdos).

 

Rosh Hashana is also a time when Jews tell God “Hey, you’re still pretty rad, thanks for not letting me die in a fire this year (especially considering how many times I accidently put tin foil in the microwave when I was drunk…oh, is that just me? Okay then), I will try not to be such an bonehead this year and will pay more attention to my actions i.e. thanking you for the neat things in my life like food and not putting tin foil in the microwave.”

 

We also go to our fellow Jews and non-Jews and say, “Hope I wasn’t too much of a blockhead to you this year. Sorry about losing the first season of Dexter you lent me and then lying to you about having borrowed it. Also this year I’ll try to stop telling people about the hilarious time you tripped on a rug at that Chinese restaurant and fell on a waiter (but that 50 bucks I promised to repay you? Yeah, you probably won’t see that again. My bad)”.

 

Rosh Hashana is when we take a break to say “What am I doing with my life?” (Although if you’re an almost-college-grad like me, you’ve probably been asking yourself that on a near constant basis.) We want to evaluate our life choices, are we still “good people”, do we truly recognize all the terrible things we’ve done this year, do we even feel bad about them? Are we trying to be good friends, neighbors, roommates, daughters, sons, and subway passengers? Or do we stuff our headphones in our ears when someone comes around asking for change?

 

In NY we make you work for your money!

In NYC we make our panhandlers work hard for their money

 

Rosh Hashana focuses on a bunch of things, namely renewing our love for God, our love for our fellow man/woman but another idea that often gets overlooked, loving ourselves.

 

Five years ago, I was on a seminary program in Bet Shemesh in Israel called Machon Maayan. I remember sitting in my first day of class where our first lesson on Rosh Hashana was the famous concept of “V’Ahvat L’Reiach K’mocha” or “Loving your neighbor as yourself,” an idea that Rabbi Akiva said was the very fundamental message of the Torah and our religion.

 

It’s important for Jews (and really all people) to stick together. In the Parsha (Torah portion) leading up to Rosh Hashana, Moshe Rabbeinu on his deathbed basically says to the Jewish people in the desert “You guys have a good thing going here, I know you’re all gonna muck it up sooner or later but if you act like a nation every once in a while then no one will mess with you and you’ll be OK.”

 

Being a part of the Jewish nation is less like a family and more like a really weird fraternity. You may have no clue who the elderly man sitting next to you on the plane is but he knows the secret passwords and handshakes so you know he’s all right and you may even be able to use that connection to get yourself a job in his law firm.

 

However, the phrase ‘Love your neighbor like you love yourself’ has a flip side too. That is, if you don’t love yourself enough then you can’t love your neighbor. If you don’t invest in yourself, then won’t have enough to share with others. It’s so important to be happy with who you are, how God made you, how you feel about yourself (even if you don’t believe in God). Five years ago on that Rosh Hashana in Israel, I wasn’t happy with my life. I was in a new country without any of my friends from home. I was shy and awkward. I hadn’t been diagnosed yet with the hormone imbalance PCOS but I had noticed persistent dark fuzz on my jaw due to the elevated levels of testosterone. I had developed some sort of allergy to all hair products leaving my head a big poodley mess.

 

Oh this hairstyle?

Hairstyle seen here.

 

I remember feeling that Rosh Hashana that I wasn’t good enough to make friends. I wasn’t good enough to help other people. I wasn’t pretty enough to pray to God.

 

It took me a long time to love myself. To learn that I wasn’t going to become a better person if I didn’t believe that I deserved to.  That I wasn’t going to become a better friend, Jew, neighbor. It took me years to fully internalize the message I had learned years before.

 

So here are my tips on becoming a happier, self-loving person this year. I hope my words help you find peace in yourself. I hope this year you realize how important you are just as yourself and to the Jewish people, how amazing your potential is and how precious your numerous page views are to my blog *hugs computer.*

 

Confidence

 

Doing things is hard sometimes. Some people (me) can be awkward and at loss of the right thing to say at times (i.e. Doctor: “Have a good semester in school!” Me: “You too! Or, a good semester being a doctor. Or, just life being a doctor. OK bye forever!”) As humans sometimes we’re apprehensive with new situations, with talking to new people. I firmly believe that fear is the number one worst thing in the world. I mean, besides for fear of snakes. SNAKES. Snakes everywhere. That’s the only thing you should be afraid of.

 

ESPECIALLY snakes trying to be cute.

ESPECIALLY snakes trying to be cute.

 

I read in a magazine once that we should have pictures of ourselves as children hanging up, to remind ourselves what it was like to always be happy and try new things or something. That’s stupid. Kids are dumb, they don’t know when people are laughing at them or with them. Never pretend you’re a kid. Instead, imagine yourself as yourself but at age 95. Take a second and imagine your wrinkly skin, bald/grey head and achy bones (FYI this game only works if you’re not 95, sorry 95-year-olds no offense, congrats on being hella elderly. Hellderly?)

 

Got it? Now imagine your old self is a sarcastic snob. And every time you’re too afraid to do something, be it sing karaoke, ask someone out, dance, learn an instrument, speak a new language, make a speech, ask a question, give someone a compliment, sing etc., imagine you’re sarcastic old lady self saying “Ohhh, thank goodness you’re not embarrassing yourself. Wouldn’t want to give me any memories or anything. Nope, you just sit in your T-shirt and shorts while everyone else goes in the pool. Whew, someone might think you’re too fat to be in a bathing suit. Nope. You just sit there. Don’t even think of talking to that cute lifeguard either. I’ll just sit in my rocking chair and think of my safe life never taking any risks. Ah…that’s nice. Maybe dementia will set in and I’ll make believe I was Lady Gaga. That’s good. Carry on not asking someone to explain the situation in Syria or anything about politics. Wouldn’t want them to think you’re stupid. Time to take a nap.”

 

Zzz....someone get me my meat dress...it's 4 p.m. and I'm hungry...zzz....

Zzz….someone get me my meat dress…it’s 4 p.m. and I’m hungry…zzz….

 

Usually, I find that the thought of me getting to 95 without any risks or stories pushes me to do the thing I’m afraid of. We should tell people how we feel and don’t be afraid to live our lives without other people’s permissions. We should be doing the things that scare us. It’s why we’re here. Unless that thing involves snakes. Then stay FAR AWAY.

 

Goals

 

When I was younger, like a lot of girls (and guys) I used to measure myself against other people, especially physically. I used to scan each room I went into, to see if I was as pretty as other girls. If I talked to them, I would see if I was funnier, smarter or nicer than them. I was always comparing myself. It was exhausting. I would pore over the magazines I loved, hating myself for not being model skinny. I would read articles about girls who started amazing initiatives and charities and ask myself why I wasn’t starting some fund for children in Africa. My life was just a scale that I hardly ever matched up with. Until one day I read this in a book by Zelig Pliskin called Gateway to Happiness.

 

“It is unnecessary to have low self-esteem when you can easily invent some criteria by which you are a success. What makes anyone else’s criteria more valid than your own?”

 

I realized that day that I didn’t have to play life by anyone’s rules but my own. I was jealous of models but did I want to be a model, was that my criteria for success? No. I envied the students with amazing voices who sang solos in choir. Did I even care about having a good voice? No.

 

What I was jealous of was were the people who knew what they wanted and went for it. I didn’t have any idea what my own idea of success was. These days my idea of success is to be able to write, maybe making people think and laugh. My idea of success is having friends who feel they can be honest with me. My idea of success is having a job I enjoy and feel like I can help others. Now that I know that, I no longer feel angry with other people for what they have.

 

This year it’s not enough to say, “I want to be a good person.” What do we want to get good at? Do we want to be smarter? More considerate? Volunteer more? Take on more responsibility religiously? Learn to salsa? If we don’t know what we want out of life, we’ll never get it.

 

Perspective

 

Little problems are hella annoying. They make us late. They distract us. They make us take time from our busy days to go to Sears to buy new microwaves.

 

We walk through the door at night, stressed from a grade we got on a paper and snap at our roommates about the dishes. Annoyances are our computers being crazy slow when trying to pay bills online. They’re the dingbat driving like an dadburned idiot on the highway when you’re just trying to get home that makes you curse the day the world was created.

 

Ugggghhhhhhh wwhhyyyyyyyyyyy

Ugggghhhhhhh wwhhyyyyyyyyyyy

 

But tiny problems are a sign that life is pretty swell.

 

I once heard this little story about a woman collecting charity from people at the Western Wall. When someone would give her money, she would say “Bless you, I wish that you always have little annoyances.” Finally, someone was like “WTH lady, what kind of blessing is that?” She replied, “When someone you love is in the hospital, you don’t give a hoot that your Amazon order got delayed. When your house burns down, you don’t care that gas prices shot up another 10 cents. Tiny problems in your life means you don’t have big problems, and that’s always a good thing.”

 

When I get really upset over small things (which is pretty often), I play a little game called parenthesis. It kind of goes like this: I take a what I am super mad about and break it down until my annoyance seems like a pretty silly thing to be truly broken up over. If I’m still annoyed, then I’m still annoyed. It’s not foolproof. Like this:

 

“I am angry that the dry-cleaners didn’t have the dress I wanted to wear to my friend’s wedding in time for me to wear it.”

 

And then I say this:

 

“I am angry that the dry-cleaners (which, thank God, I have enough money to spend on) didn’t have the dress (which, again, is something that I had money to buy something a lot of people who don’t have the ability to) I wanted to wear to my friend’s (a friend, I am lucky to have, considering a lot of people are pretty lonely) wedding (what a happy time for my friend that she found her soul mate) in time for me to wear it.”

 

Or

 

“I am upset that my brother borrowed my car without asking and now I have to take the bus to my job.”

 

Becomes:

 

“I am upset that my brother (that I love and am fortunate to have a sibling who is healthy and alive) borrowed my car (that thank God, works and I am lucky to own whereas a lot of people do not have) without asking and now I have to take the bus (which is pretty reliable and I can afford) to my job (which thankfully I have).

 

Little things will pop up and ruin our day forever. That’s life. But when you say these things, especially out loud. You’ll find that they’ll make the situations a tiny bit easier to endure.

 

Body Confidence

 

Obviously, we should always rely on our inner glow or whatever to be happy. But sometimes, we just don’t feel like going to the party because the outfit we chose doesn’t look as good as we thought and it’s already kind of put a damper on the whole thing. If that doesn’t happen to you then congratulations!

 

Here's your party!

Here’s your party!

 

For me, it helps to think of God. And how bored I would be if I created infinitely complex and fascinating, capable human beings to do/build/create/imagine amazing things and they spent hours and hours each day plucking their eyebrows and staring in the mirror. I’d be like “Oh ME! If I knew you guys would be so boring, I would’ve made you all amorphous blobs or something! Can you go outside and interact with people? Can you go find the cure for cancer already? Turn off Netflix and call your grandma. She always has something interesting to say. Fine, you wanna spend 2 hours crying over a haircut? If you need me, I’m gonna be watching some ancient Mesopotamia. Maybe a guy will kill a snake or something. That’s always fun.”

 

"That's it. Beyonce looks like this now. Happy?!"

“That’s it. Beyonce looks like this now. Happy?!”

 

Life is really short. Our friends and family do NOT like us just because we have frizz-free hair. They probably think you’re funny or interesting so go hang out with them and not worry so much about how you look. If they wanted to be friends with something perfect they would’ve brought a cardboard cut-out of Mila Kunis to the movies last week instead of you. There is more to you than your thighs. You were born on this planet and therefore you belong here.

 

In Conculsion

 

In conclusion, Rosh Hashana is a good marker in the year to take one second from ‘ugh-ing’ about things, complaining about other people and beating ourselves up.

 

Let’s celebrate that we completed ANOTHER year of being on this awesome swirling blue and green ball of crazy. We have so much potential to be something incredible. Wonderful people. Remarkable nation. Amazing world. It has to start with us believing in ourselves.

 

"I said you were special like 1,00 times you dumb mother effers."

“I said you were special like 1,00 times you ninnies”

 

I will leave you with another favorite quote.

 

“Man must guard himself and his uniqueness and not imitate his fellow man. For initially man was created in his own image and only afterward in the image of God.” ~ Kotzker Rebbe.

 

Happy New Year.

Love,

Aviva

Ps. Stop putting tin foil in the microwave.

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.

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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?!”

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“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.

Joy and Happiness

2 Aug

Good morning campers!

For those actively concerned as to my homelessness situation – I guess I am still homeless because I have one week left at the newspaper but don’t know where I’m sleeping but WHATEVER because I WAS A BRIDESMAID LAST NIGHT.

I have never been a bridesmaid before. I mean, I saw the movie and I know it’s a lot of crying and dress-fitting and complaining to other bridesmaids about doing shit but it was actually pretty fun. Also interesting because even though I’ve been to LITERALLY half a dozen weddings (please control your jealousy at expertise and popularity) I’ve never been behind the scenes. So I’m going to tell you exactly what it was like being a bridesmaid for my friend Joy’s beautiful wedding.

 

This is literally the only way I know how to pose. It's an illness.

This is literally the only way I know how to pose. It’s an illness.

 

January: Last January, Joy, her six bridesmaids and future mother-in-law  all went to a place in the city called Here Comes The Bridesmaid. It was really super cold and we stopped in Starbucks next door to get some coffee. Then, as soon we got to the store the lady informed us that we were not allowed to bring in drinks forcing me to gulp down my scalding machiatto because I felt uncomfortable standing in the hallway with Joy’s fiance’s mom. Not because she’s not lovely and sweet but because I’m awful at small talk and just wanted to try on these damn dresses. A slight snag with this dress appt is that I had just surgery on my stupid arm literally the week before and was wearing maybe the BIGGEST conglomeration of bandages. I couldn’t even get my arm through some sleeves and when I did I couldn’t zip them up. Having your dominant arm swathed in 4 lbs of ace bandages for a few weeks is a DRAG and I don’t recommend it. Anyways, I found a dress.

 

"Oh my gosh with the right necklace you won't even NOTICE your arm!"

“Oh my gosh with the right necklace you won’t even NOTICE your arm!”

 

May: Joy’s bridal shower was in May and it was 100 trillion degrees outside. I decided to wear a long sleeved dress because a lot of my brain cells have been destroyed in various College Park activities. Liana and I collaborated on games for the shower which included a Panty Line, Bridal Shower Bingo and a Newlywed-esque game in which Joy had to put a piece of gum in her mouth for every question she got wrong. Being MC was fun until Joy’s little toddler cousin came over and placed his tiny hand on my knee to balance himself and I stopped talking to be like “errrrrr this baby is touchinggg meeeeee get it offffffff,” because I’m really adept and dealing with children. Then we watched Joy unwrap like 34 kitchen appliances and lingerie in front of her grandma and future grandma-in-law. It was normal.

August: Yesterday I got my hair did (63 bobby pins, my head kept tilting backwards under the sheer weight of metal forced onto my scalp) and ALSO got my manbrows taken care of by an extremely harsh Asian lady who did not understand that my face has feeling and is capable of pain and maybe she should stop jabbing her fingers into my eye sockets (#society). 

So we get to the wedding and saw Joy and Sruli all dressed up like little cake toppers. It’s weird seeing your friends in wedding clothes because you wanna cry and say things like “You look radiant!” and at the same time say something like, “Remember a couple of days ago we watched Honey Boo Boo, got drunk and the next day you threw up at Raymour and Flannigan?” (HYPOTHETICAL question of course). Because it’s all a strange situation and then Kevin, the wedding coordinator tells you there’s champaign in the hall and you’re like “See ya suckas!” and go outside.

 

Also, I brought my own bouquet to walk down with

Also, I brought my own bouquet to walk down with

 

Then we had to practice walking down the aisle. I never practiced walking anywhere and it was more complicated then I thought. You have to start with the right foot and Alex has to hold your elbow, flowers are at tummy length, stop 3/4 way there and smile. Smile. Keep smiling. Get to the end and stand behind the chupah and then wait. Oh my God I was so excited to stand up there but being a bridesmaid SUCKS because you can’t see anything that’s going on. Instead of gazing at your friends getting married you’re looking out into the audience, mostly at the 3 year old sitting in front of you who keeps crumpling up the program. And people keep staring at YOU because you keep yawning into your bouquet and trying not to cry because then your make-up will run and you have to wait til photos are over before you can look like a hot mess. And then they break the glass and finally you can change into comfortable shoes that don’t feel like you’re walking on tiny needles.

Then, dancing. Normally at weddings, it’s not my best friend getting married and I can quietly go to the  bar and request my signature drink (“anything”). And no one bats an eye. But this is my best friend’s wedding and I’m wearing a shiny lavender dress that I immediately spill salad dressing on and stain. And I can’t sit in the corner and eat everyone’s breadrolls when they’re dancing. It’s not because I don’t love my friend and want to celebrate with her. I do! But I have a confession:

Jewish wedding dancing sucks.

Have you ever been to an orthodox (Or any denomination depending on preference I guess) Jewish wedding? At least in the beginning, everyone rushes in the bride and groom and swoops them into two circles. The bride dances with her mother/in-law/sister/friends in the middle and everyone kind of sways in the back. (the groom dances in his dude circle)

When I was in Israel I learned about how circle dancing is beautiful because it’s like the circle of life, or happiness and everyone can see each other blah blah blah. And that’s really nice to think about when you’re NOT holding Great Aunt Harriet’s sweaty hand while the bride’s cousin stabs a stiletto into your foot while everyone is trying to weave their way through a poorly made oval. And then someone decides that we’re not running in a circle anymore, we’re gonna stand and clap.

So you clap and clap and clap like you’re some sort of obedient seal while you look around to see if they’ve served the salmon course yet. Or some other circle starts and snakes their way through you and pushes you against the photographer who shoots you a dirty look. It’s a mess. We need to change it, you guys. Someone has to come up with a new Jewish traditional dance that promotes togetherness and community without making me dizzy. Line dancing? Hoedown? Some really complicated Bollywood ensemble? I’m open to suggestions.

 

"Kol chattan V'KOL KALLAH!"

“Kol chattan V’KOL KALLAH!”

Another interesting custom of some Jewish weddings is something called “shtick.” It’s kind of like a mini talent show in the middle of the wedding. The bride and groom sit in chairs in the middle of the dance floor while their friends dance or juggle or do this bull and matador dance (did you guys know that when actual bullfighting rounds are done they MURDER the bull? It’s true. We’re pretty sore winners I guess). Anyways, sometimes it’s a lot of personal jokes like people make signs or wear jerseys. And it’s ALWAYS the smallest circle ever. It’s always a 6 foot diameter around the bride and groom even if the dance floor is huge. I don’t know why we do this. So like 6% of the guests can see what’s happening and everyone else is straining over really tall uncles. Can we fix this as well Jews?

Besides for all my complaining, it was actually a really beautiful wedding and I’m glad I got to be a part of it. Joy and Sruli have been together for about 607 years, it’s about time they tied the knot (also did you know one reason that phrase exists because bed frames used to be made with rope so when couples got married they got a new bed – thereby tying a LOT of knots). (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make that up).

Now, it is Shabbat and I’m excited to get some well deserved sleep. Dancing and drinking all night is a hard job but someone has to do it.

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.”

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