Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Torture of the Night

I never held much stock in dreams. My thoughts are not usually significant by day, so I always figured they were even more inconsequential by night. But what do you do when a dream doesn't leave you? When it haunts your every movement? When the sun cannot shine strong enough to dispel its lingering shadow...

When a dream has made me fragile
The remembrance piercing an ancient pain

And sadness without reason approaches
Shaking my soul in its dusty grasp

And night again encroaches
Bearing the banner of the unknown

And all this because of a dream
No shade, no nightmare, no terror

Just a displaced memory in the dark
A face without an answer
A mask without a master

Are these questing phantoms of the past?
Are these mere imaginings in the night?
Are these the worst forms of torture?

Are these nothings?

Are these somethings?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oh Dear! ...Where Have I Landed?

I wonder how many more times I will wake up, walk out of an tipsy-turvy house, and marvel at the colorful world around me. How many times will I be amazed by a Technicolor dreamworld where, before, was only the blacks and whites of generations past. When will I stop being so shocked by the change in tempo, in realities, in feelings?

So often I stop and gaze at my current world, and I realize, I am no longer in Kansas. Or should I say Israel? Or should I say the ideal religious place for me? But which is real -the farm or the magical world of Oz? And I'm not talking about the movie. IN my opinion, there's no "real world" -no cynical grimace to be made, no bitter laugh to be bitten off before any such comment like "welcome to the real world, honey". No, there exists no such place. What is real? What is real is you. Where you exist, where you live, what you believe, your hopes, your failures, your dreams, your every day. Life is real. It is all we have, after all.

We can debate for hours about whether it is better for us to be created or not, but when it comes down to it, we have been created. We are continually willed into existence. That is real. That is what G-d has given us.

So whether we are sheltered in a cocoon of Torah knowledge, breathing in the holy air atop the Yerushalyim hills, or thrust into a world we have never before known, a cruel world, where no one understands our beliefs...a world that our thirteen principles of faith are greeted with chuckles.

But we do the best we can. Or we don't. We choose, we give up, we cry. We pray. And we are answered, and then we fail again. But will that prevent us from believing, from hoping? Never. Because no matter what else is being destroyed all around us, within us, we have right now. We have this moment. We have our lives.

How did I get here? Maybe I fell down the rabbit hole and ended up in this sewer. Maybe I was thrown here, sent to clean it up again. Maybe that's just my own rationalization. Maybe, maybe, maybe -but no matter how many maybes clamor in my head, there are some things that a maybe just never can touch. Definites bestowed at birth, nurtured by life, taught in school, given in seminary, unknown by almost all. So no matter how I got here, here I am. In Oz. In Kansas. In the twirling, falling, dangerously flying place I call home, somewhere in between.

Now if only someone can tell me where Toto went off to...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm Back and Better than Ever!

Well. I guess I could preface my post with some cute statement about how clearly I have been neglecting my poor, sweet blog and all my dear, innocent readers, but...I don't think I should. After all, this blog is not a person but rather a forum of discussion...directed by me, of course, but then again, in my world, everything is.

Isn't it so strange when you think about it that way. I live inside my mind -we all do, really- living inside our heads as if our skulls were little houses with our eyes glorious windows that always look out into the world of others. But always from our perspective. So nothing we see is without context, and nothing we hear or smell or touch is either. And all of our experiences are egocentric, and all of our responses are shaped by that egocentricity. But if life were not that way, without individuality, without the concept of self...where would we be? There'd be no life, not as we know it. There'd be no we.

I've noticed (again with the "I", but we already established the need for such self-absorption) that I have fleeting bursts of major philosophy, and if I don't express it, it will not-get-out-of-my-head. I've been thinking about tall this "me-ness" for weeks now. But...due to my neglect of the OkeeJew world (hee hee, my world), I never expressed it. For although I do have another tendency, that of blurting out my philosophies to the most random of creatures somewhere in between talk of the weather and "oh, I gotta go, sorry, bye", I never yet blurted out my obsession with myself.

So. There you go.

Okay, it's not an obsession. Really.

Oh, I gotta go. Sorry. Bye.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Repenting My Lack of Repentance

Do you know what I need? Besides a tissue and a big bowl of chicken soup?

I need a siddur. I know, I know what you're thinking. "Okee, it's not time for mincha yet, so why do you need a siddur? Do you want to say tehillim for something? Don't you carry a mini-tehillim with you wherever you go?"

To your first question, I reply, "I don't need a siddur for mincha -I do have a mincha maariv in my wallet, not that I usually use it..." To you second, I say, "Tehillim -that's 'extra'. Whenever I get the urge to say tehillim, it's usually satisfied by a muttering of one of the Shir Hamaaloses under my breath." And to the third, I snort. And say "Ha! I wish I were so holy. (I really do.)

Now you're probably thinking, "Okay, Okee, we get it. You horrible girl you. Now stop with the self-effacing sarcasm and get on with it. Why do you need a siddur?"

I need a siddur, dearie, because although I did daven this morning (yay! 3 points for Okee), I didn't leave myself enough time to say avinu malkeinu and get coffee. So...I got coffee. So...I need a siddur.

Oish Bagoish, it's the aseres yemay teshuva!! I neeeeed to say avinu malkeinu!! I neeeeed a siddur!!!

Funny how I didn't feel the same need to daven the whole shacharis this morning.
Funny how I didn't feel the need to have kavana during shacharis this morning.
Funny how it's two days after Rosh Hashanah and I didn't do any teshuva yet.
Funny how I spent the fast day fasting, but not fasting with any meaning.
Funny how I am more afraid this new year than any before, and yet I am less prepared for this new year than any before.
Funny, oh so funny.

Oh, not so funny...

Getagripgetagripgetagripgetagripgetagripgetagrip. Get a coffee.


Okay, I feel better now. The fear is still there, but there's no point in panicking -fear of the awesomeness of judgement without action towards the rectification of that fear of being found wanting is beyond pointless. It is pathetic. So...action.

Action. Action. Ya think if I say it enough times it'll sink into my leaden head and I'll behave in kind?
Maybe not. Maybe I should, right here, right now, decide to take something upon myself. When was the last time I did that, and did that? Sad...I don't remember. The time is now, they say, and I say it too. Let me think of something tangible and purposeful and beautiful and helpful to take upon myself...


Got it. Oooooh, I'm scared! It's gonna be hard! But not as hard as a million other things I'm struggling with, and it'll make a biiiig difference in my life if I can do it. I'll try just for these ten days of repentance. If that works, I'll try through sukos. If that works, I'll try forever. What a word, forever -so awesome, so big, so good. But remember -this is all b'li neder. I don't want a broken vow on my record along with everything else:)

So wish me luck. (the Divine, siyata dishmaya kind) And I'll wish you the same. Along with a shana tova u'mesuka. And a chasima tova. And if you are at all inspired by my terror and my rambling insanity, then, please, for my sake, could you mention it to Hashem? I'd really, really appreciate it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pink Is Soooo My Color!!

I've always been told I look good in pink! And now my blog matches! Yay, what fun! (Say, all these exclamation points remind me of a past post form some months back...three points to anyone who can remember which one!!!)

I chose pink, not because "brunettes look good in pink", as I've been told by an impertinent salesgirl (Huh? Isn't Okee blonde? Or maybe not...), but because pink is a happy color.

And I like being happy, I really really do. And so even though stress has lately seemed to display an eager desire to consume my every waking moment, and a past relationship has ended rather suddenly and shockingly before my eyes, which I may or may not go into detail of in the near future, and too much is flying all around me before I can take a good, long look at it...I choose happiness. After all, if someone said to you that you can either take the red pill or the blue pill, one giving you happiness and the other despair, what color pill would you swallow (gratuitous movie reference, oops)?

Well, you say, or rather, you should say, 'which color gives you which emotion?', because you, like myself, are in law school (or maybe you aren't, and that's okay too), and so you know to examine issues from every logical and possible angle. To reexamine the situation thrice over, taking it apart and forgetting how to put it together again, and then, in a wondering kind of voice, asking, "Are we just reading too much into this?"

Anyway, if I was given the choice, I'd (duh!) choose happiness, because although despair may be much more glamorous, very "in" even, and can be accompanied by the most beautiful violins, happiness -although often overrated- can be used as a means to an end...despair can only lead to the end.

'Oh,' you say, 'so that's why she changed the template of her blog to a hot pink girly looking thing...Now I get it.'

You needn't be so sarcastic. I knew I'd get to the point eventually.

And the point is: All those new beginnings, although awkward and difficult, and at times I felt like a fish on land flapping about gasping for oxygenated water, were not as bad as I thought they'd be. I love school. Really! And It's fun being the "frummy" as my very sweet new-though-not-frum-and-not-necessarily-Jewish friends call me. More on all that another time. Cause I gotta get some sleep. Cause I have school tomorrow.

Crazy, huh? Me, in school!!:)

Anyway, good night, and from the bottom of my heart- take care!

Friday, September 01, 2006

New, new, new, new, and, yeah...New!





















Sorry for that little conglomeration of quasi-poetry, my hyperness, love for tea, and brand-new awareness for all things new. As you must know -and, surely, by now, you do- today is September 1st. Dear me, how the summer has flown away upon its frail but beautiful wings of golden sunshine. It has rained more in the last week than it did for months, and, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I started law school.

(--Cue to the sound of a woman shrieking in horror--)

Oh, don't offer me any sympathies, it hasn't been so bad yet, and I don't think it will be so bad at all. Cause, ummmmm, I kinda like it. The classes -though often sheerly incomprehensible- offer moments of intellectual stimulation, and that is a something that has been a rarity for me this past year. There are very nice students where I attend, despite the fact that many probably think of me as that crazy germaphobe who inexplicably mutters things to herself whenever she leaves the bathroom...But then again, it's rather more likely that no one notices my freaks and foibles.

Well, I guess four or five or fifty people noticed when I sat down in the wrong class and had to leave while the professor was talking once I realize where I was -or wasn't, to be more precise. But surely that happens to all first year law students. Surely!

I do wish that there were more Jewish people in my classes -or at least visibly Jewish, cause if I can't tell you're Jewish, how do I know you'll want to go the distance in order to get kosher food with me? I feel a bit a sort of self-made religious fortress of solitude. Not because I don't say hi, and smile, and make small talk with basically anyone I'm sitting next to -and if I sat next to you, you know this is true- but small talk is not enough. I guess that's what friends outside of school is for. Right. Well, I truly thank Hashem I have those.

Ok, change of subject. This post has gone out of control. Initially, it was just supposed to be a three sentence note warning all of you to expect new changes in the blog. Namely, my new occupation -from teacher of religious studies to student of secular studies. From lackadaisical slacker to disciplined disciple (yeah right:) And....

(--Cue the drum-roll--)

The template will change!!!
To represent a new beginning, I'll change the background, color and stuff. Just keep in mind my limited computer skills mean I can't promise how soon it will happen. Also keep in mind that this is all during the month of Elul.

Ooooooh, signiiiiifiiiicaaaant!

(--Cue the intense and thoughtful nodding of the head--)

On that note, have a beautiful, wonderful, ever-better, new, shabbos!!:)
(And I hope you enjoy the new me -I think I will!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

"So, nu, what are you looking for?"

Have you ever been asked what you're looking for? It's such a deep, potentially mind-blowingly spiritual question, the type of question it can take years to answer. Funny how often it is answered glibly, the answer just rolling off the tongue as if memorized.

Because it was. Memorized, that is. Speaking from the feminine point of view, the "what are you looking for?" question is both dreaded and highly anticipated from the age of sixteen until around twenty or so. After that, it's just dreaded. I personally have only been asked that question a few times, and although I've heard so many relatives, friends, even acquaintances tick off the qualities of their dream husband, I can hardly formulate an answer.

When asked, I tend to start off my reply with what some may regard as endearing, but really is truly inappropriate, giggle. Then I say, "Oh, uh, yeah..." Then, "That's such a good question!"

At this point, my well-intentioned inquisitor has a blank and slightly confused expression on their face. (What? This twenty-year-old girl --who's turning twenty-one within the next year!--doesn't even know what she's looking for??) Their confusion creates my personal sense of awkwardness, like, really, can't I just answer a simple question? And so I laugh and say, "I'm looking for what everyone else is!" Because, really, ask any frum girl what kind of guy she wants to marry, and the majority will say "someone really nice, with a good sense of humor, who sets aside time to learn every day, and either is making a good living or will...and is taller than me..." Yep. It's true. Sorry guys, but it is. And I guess that's what I'm looking for -and the parameters are very general, so it leaves room for individuality and personal preference, and contains both religious and practical elements, and, and, and, and...

Crazy stuff, man. Uch, I can't deal with it. I hate this. Why?

I don't know. Too much pressure? One of my closest friends in the world just got engaged (mazel tov!!), and now many people are looking at me in a new light. In a ohshecouldgetmarriedsoontoo kind of light. But who wants that kind of light shed on her? It's a harsh, unforgiving kind of light, that leads to internal questions and dilemmas and possible letdowns. It casts its glow bright enough that anyone feels they have the right to ask questions about me I wouldn't be comfortable asking myself, and dissecting my character, and examining my life decisions.

And don't tell me I'm exaggerating. You know I'm not. I've seen, and heard, enough of this myself to know what I say is, unfortunately, often true.

But I am not saying the shidduch system is inherently corrupt -it just hurts sometimes, many times. But when it works -oh, wow! A marriage, the uniting of two souls into something greater than the sum of its parts. The spiritual possibilities, the life ahead. The future. Family.

I really want those things. And I want to share them with the right person. But I don't know who he is yet, specifically.

So, do me a favor.

Don't ask me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Me Me Me Me... Meme!

Yay! I was finally tagged! (Dorky me was sitting in the sidelines, awaiting this momentous occasion, so-) Thank Lvnsm27 for this!

Things I want to do before dying:
~Publish at least one novel, three poems, and one autobiography
~Move to Eretz Yisrael
~Raise a beautiful family
~Star in a a very frum way
~Travel all 'round the world in eighty days

Things I cannot do:
~Be completely realistic
~Touch my tongue to my nose
~Raise just one eyebrow
~Give in
~Give up
~Figure out how to put links in my posts
~Drive to upstate NY without getting lost

Things I can do:
~Write book reports (not that I need to anymore)
~Sing REALLY loud
~Tell gripping stories about trucks to three-year-old-boys
~Drive back from upstate NY without getting lost (don't ask!)

What attracted me to my husband:
~Maybe that should be written as 'what will'? Definitely the gemara he'll be holding onto at some to anything else, I'm no neviah.

Things I want in a mate:
~A nearby gemara (see above)
~A really great sense of humor (otherwise he'd take me seriously, and who knows what might come of that?)
~The right hashkafa (ha ha!)
~Ummm...I hate this question. Next...

Things I say most often:
~"I don't get it"
~"I'm joking! I'm just joking! Really!!"
~"Uh, oh"
~"Wanna go to 7-11?"

Books that I love:
~Anything in the children's section
~'Pride and Prejudice' (Hello! I'm a romantic!)
~'The Scarlet Pimpernel'
~'Tale of Two Cities'
~'Anne of Green Gables'

Movies that I love:
~Lord of the Rings-all three
~V for Vendetta
~Pride and Prejudice (see above)
~Moulin Rouge

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Trials of Faith...and Doubt

You might have realized from some of my previous posts that I think of myself as a happy person. I loooove being happy, smiling, laughing, and singing loud enough to frighten the birds outside my window. And it's very easy to make me happy -just give me some time with my family (or better yet, a lot of time with them), show me some hashgacha pratis, feed me, crack a joke, give me a good book, a smile, a compliment, beautiful scenery, a sunset, a sunrise, a slurpee...And I'll twirl in a circle with my hands in the air and shout out to the world how much I love my life, how much I love Hashem, who has given it all to me.

There are too many cynics in this world, too much depression, too much anger and awful emptiness. I am no cynic. My hope has never died.

Not even after suffering more than any twelve-year-old should have to, on that terrible, horrible night which still remains sharp and painful in my memory. At some point in that endless, pitch-black night, I made a fervent, tear-filled plea to Hashem. I never wanted something more in my life than for Hashem to answer my request favorably, and I don't know if I ever will.

But He didn't. He said no. And I still mourn.

In seminary, I learned from great teachers two different views on this. Either Hashem never says no, He only says yes in a way we may not understand, or sometimes, although Hashem hears our pleas, He sometimes answers no. I connected strongly to the former opinion, and I still believe it strongly. Hashem never tells us no, but gives us what we are truly asking for, which may be something we don't realize, or yet know, or can ever understand. But despite all this, and despite the fact that I believe Hashem truly said yes to my plea so many years ago, that "yes" felt like such a "no" that I still cannot understand at all how it is a "yes". Maybe I will learn the answer sometime in the future. But for now, that moment in time remains a sore point for me, spiritually, although it doesn't at all interfere with my faith and love of Hashem. It is a faded, almost imperceptible but still tender bruise on my soul.

I am grateful for my faith. It has sheltered me through great adversity, been my constant companion, and it has enabled all my happiness. And sometimes, Hashem tests that faith -as He tests us all, to give us more reward, to strengthen us, to bring us closer and raise us higher.

Recently, my faith was tested. I wish I could say I passed, but I'm not quite sure I did. Only Hashem knows for sure... It began with hope -as much of life does. A hope that lay deep and bright in my heart -the hope for another. A hope that seemed as if it would be soon fulfilled, as if Hashem was answering my recent whispered requests with a loud, clear, and resounding "YES". But then, that hope was struck with a mighty blow, a sudden "no" that took me by surprise. Was my request, so achingly wished for and entirely for another, denied?

Did Hashem so no, again? Why? How could He? Why?

Those questions arose in my head so quickly, I was nearly overwhelmed, my hope nearly extinguished by an ocean of doubt, my spirit -always so strong and true- nearly broken. Nearly. Nearly, but not quite. For the next second, that ocean of doubt was replaced by an peaceful ocean of understanding and acceptance. Hashem answered my question with a yes. But who am I to know what my question really was? What the answer really is? Whether it was the right time? The right place? The right way? I don't; G-d does.

My hope may have been injured -but it never died! My hope, however incongruous, however ridiculous, however idealistic, however impossible, has never died.

And I am happy again. Gam zu l'tovah.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Countdown: T Minus 10, 9, 8, 7...

Countdown: Less than 20 days until Law School orientation...

Less than 20 hours to shabbos...

Less than 20 minutes until I finish this post...

And less than 20 seconds until...uh...the end of this sentence!

Countdowns are just not my thing. I was never the kid in eighth grade writing how many days were left until graduation. I never really longed for the next stage in my life, although I did always look forward to different things. Maybe you could say I don't like change, or maybe that I'm afraid of change, or even that I don't enjoy straying too far from my comfort zone.

And I'm sure that's all true. But, as you all know, I am an eternal optimist, and I'll always look for the brighter side of things (especially if there's a better way of viewing my faults). So I'll say that the reason is because I can be happy in almost any situation -a symptom, I believe, of optimism. Even in just an okay-type situation, attitude can mean the difference between just getting by and actually enjoying your time.

Of course, as in all statements general, there are exceptions. When I'm in, chas v'shalom, a "bad" situation, a smile, a laugh, and a positive outlook aren't enough. And that time when I was a day camp counselor for two-year-olds who were either crying, needing to be diaper changed, or running into the woods...attitude can only take you so far.

Anyway, my point was about countdowns, and how I'm not a fan. But if I don't have a mini-countdown to the start of school in *less than 20 days*, I'll probably lose track of time and forget to go. So, sometimes, a countdown isn't a sign of discontent in your current situation, but rather a sign of content in your everchanging life. (Aaah, that was deep!)

Oh, I nearly forgot! I wish all of you a happy, smiley, beautiful shabbos!!:)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Can I tell you a secret?

Can I tell you a secret? I'm in the mood to divulge a few.

Number 1: I posted my poem "How Hard the Mighty Fall" NOT because I needed confirmation that I do have a budding career as a poetess (which I know I do not), but because I like it so much, that I wanted to put it somewhere where I'll never lose it. And I am NOT offended that only two, sweet, dear people cared to comment on my second-year-of-seminary poem...But I am a tiny bit surprised. I've been spoiled by all the double-digit commentary lately.

Number 2: I am not in my second year of seminary. I think you knew that. But I thought I should remind you, in case you were confused by a statement in the above paragraph.

Number 3: As you can tell from Number 1, I have a slight tendency of losing things. A tendency I happen to be ASHAMED of and DESPISE, but a tendency nonetheless. Recently, I bought a pair of cheapish-but-very-cool earrings, lost one, found it, lost both, found them, didn't put them back where they belong, and I lost one of them, again. Haven't found it yet, but I also haven't said the thing and gave tzedakah for it, either. For some reason, I feel as though due to my tendency, I should only use the "R' Meir/tzedakah" thing when I REALLY need it.

Number 4: Pause. I'm about to put two waffles in the (toaster) oven. Hold on.............Okay, I put them in. When they're ready, I'll eat them with my new "no-calorie pancake syrup". Yummy lunch.

Number 5: I try not to think what are actually the ingredients of my "no-calorie pancake syrup".

Number 6: I don't have a working oven-oven, only a toaster-oven. And no microwave. But I do have a (single) burner!

Number 7: Due to Number 6, until last week, I ate almost every meal out of a take-out box from a local kosher establishment. They got to know me a little too well, so I went grocery shopping and started cooking. Hence the (Eggo) waffles.

Number 8: I'm sure you can't tell, but I am SOOOOOO stressed out right now. Between family stuff (nothing major, just a little, but heyyy), school stuff (I sorta didn't yet graduate college, but I'm starting law school in less than a month), work stuff (nothing big, just lots and lots of little things), life stuff (aka miscellaneous, like how I'm planning on finding a new roommate and a new apartment and a new location in the next three weeks, and how I need a fax machine but I have none, and I need a car, but don't have one), and everything else written n lime-green post-it-notes all over my kitchen, I'm going nuts! I'm going nuts in my kitchen, my dirty kitchen, in my dirty apartment. Grrrrrr. (Ok, it's not actually dirty, but I should clean it more often than I do.)

Number 9: My nerves are getting so fried that last night when I was watching the last episode of season four of "ALIAS", the sudden-out-of-nowhere car crash made my jump-out-of-my-skin....and three seconds ago, a loud noise from outside came through the open window and made me jump-out-of-my-skin-for-the-second-time-in-twenty-four-hours.

Number 10: To resolve all of the above, I nothing, procrastinate, and maybe hit Central Park tomorrow.

Number 11: The waffles are done. Bye, now!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How Hard the Mighty Fall

I'm not quite sure how to proceed from my last post. The conflict in the middle east rages on, and my life has taken no unexpected turn for the worse or for the better. I have no "breaking news" to rival my short foray into the political arena, and although I still have much to say about everything, I can't seem to focus on anything.

So allow me to take you into the past -the not-so-distant past. When I was in Israel, and inspiration -like milk and honey -flowed freely. I kept a journal every night, chronicling my spiritual journey, making a cheshbon hanefesh. But I often meandered away from that theme, and just let my pen write what it will. Sometimes poems came out, and sometimes, they were actually good. The following poem was written by me (for a change!), and I'm still deciding if it's good, bad, corny or somewhere in between. Maybe you can help me out.

Bear with me -it isn't the shortest poem on the block. Not that it's on a block, of course, it's on my computer and now yours, but you know what I mean.

How hard the mighty fall
The fool builds a tower high
And climbs it to survey his work
But on no foundation, it cannot stand
The fool cannot fly and he falls to land

How hard the mighty fall
The fool, the king, the palace tall
Without wings, the fool does not fly
With no foundation, he cannot build high
The fool believes the sky is his
He sets his eyes to the heavens above
The fool, the king, over all, he dreams
But then that king does fall

On the ground again, his life is saved
And once standing, again he dreams
And again prepares to duel with the sky
He does not learn a fool cannot fly

After many flights never flown
The fool finally sees how the wind has blown
A fool such as he must have wings to fly
And those wings can be grown only with his mind
So this fool, this king over nothing but his own feet
Left for the city where great wisdom he would meet
His travels took him near, far, low, and high
And his name was unknown! he said with a sigh
But once I gather knowledge great
I'll have the power to change all their fates
With knowledge, understanding, and with wisdom too
I'll dominate over all the nations very soon
He grew so excited contemplating all he would learn
That he forgot a fool can never the truth discern

Once the king reached the city of wisdom great
Time passed as it does, at a pretty quick rate
Eventually, the king had knowledge so vast
That he decided to return to his kingdom, fast
To impress, to amaze, to enlighten and inspire
And news of his wisdom spread like fire

The king gathered his people into his banquet hall
Proclaiming out loud, daring everyone and all
To ask a question on any sort of matter
(If he couldn't answer, his reputation would be in tatters)
One after another, the people asked questions galore
One after another, the king answered easily all and more
Finally, silence reigned -their king was a sage!
The king was satisfied -he was now all the rage!

But amidst the silence, one woman stood crying
For this all was a mockery; she felt her king was lying
To uphold the truth, she felt she must speak
Even if that meant dying

"I have a question, Your Majesty," the woman cried out
"Please, from your heart, what is life about?"
Those words- from your heart -froze the fool, the king
He could not utter a word, not one thing
For he never expected to be tried on such a small part
For you see, dear friend, this fool had no heart

And so he knew nothing at all about life
But from this moment of truth, though full of strife
The king, the fool, understood finally, at last
He must start over and learn more fast
If he wishes to fly, to reach heavens high
To be wise and loved, he cannot live a lie
Not knowledge he now must seek high and low
But instead he must find for himself a heart, a soul

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rockets and Thunder

So far, I have never "gone political" in a post. I have commented on other bloggers' potentially controversial topics, but have refrained from posting something that might create unrest or virulent disagreement. Note, please, how this post should not provoke either of those. But over the weekend, certain readers of this blog of mine advised me to mend the lack of political commentary in order to "spice things up a bit".

Well, they weren't being completely serious -this is, after all, a blog about a girl who went to seminary in Israel for two years, became a Judaic studies teacher, and is on her way to law school, and loves Slurpees. Not exactly evening-news-worthy. Thank G-d.

But regardless of my political aspirations blog-wise or in general (I used to want to be the first female, Jewish President. Used to.), I feel as though I cannot just write another post about my own idiosyncrasies, but instead something referring to the current world political situation.

No one can be unaware of what is going on between Israel and Lebanon, between Israel and the Hezbollah, between Israel and Gaza, between Israel and Hamas.

And on what day did the situation so dramatically escalate? Almost laughingly coincidentally, on Shiv'ah Assar B' Tamuz -the day of fasting for the Jews, a day marked by the breaking of the Luchos, the discontinuation of the Korban Tamid, the breaching of the walls of Yerushalyim, the burning of the Torah by Apustamus, and the placing of an idol into the Bais Hamikdash -a day of mourning for Klal yisroel, the day marking the beginning of the three weeks of mourning leading up to the saddest day on the Jewish calendar- Tish'ah B'Av.

I am so scared.

I was supposed to be in Israel now, you know. But members of my family said no, so I didn't go, but my heart is there, and my heart is breaking. People are fleeing the north of Israel, the mountains of the Galil, the shores of the Kineret. People are asking the dreaded question, "What will be?" And no one knows the answer.

They say to take shelter if you are anywhere from Tel Aviv up to the border.
And they say it is not just the guerrillas of Lebanon and Gaza, but also Iran, Syria...
And they say Israel's retaliation is disproportional to the provocation.
And they say Israel has the right to defend herself.
And they say we should turn to Hashem, utter the priceless words of Tehillim, beseech His mercy...

Tzfat, Meron, Chaifa, T'veriya...hit, rockets and thunder...

So many voices saying so much...after a while it all blends together...after a while we hear nothing...but, please, for all our sakes, hear the voices that say we should turn to Hashem. Are you nervous? Use that worry. Are you afraid? Use that fear. Are you angry? Use that ferocity. Are you crying? Use those tears. And throw that worry, that fear, that ferocity and those tears at Hashem. Beg Him to help us now. Our upcoming Tisha B'Av does not have to be another day of weeping - it can become the most joyful day we have ever known.

"Then they will say among the nations, Hashem has done great things for them; Hashem has done great things for us; we will be joyful..."
(May it come soon)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Remedy for Stress? Ohhhh, yeahhh!

I was going to write this post in just a sentence, nothing more. Merely a question -Does anyone have a remedy for stress?

But then today I decided -in my buckets of spare time -to visit Central Park. I brought a towel, a large ice coffee, two books, a notebook, and an inky pen. Blissssss. The sun was shining, children were laughing and playing ball, a small castle in the distance perched as if for my own benefit, a pond of turtles swam before me, and I began a new novel. This one I hope to finish. (I know I say that about all the books I began writing but never finished, but this one will be different. Really. Really.)

It was so tranquil and happy and bright and peaceful and great. Then I left, went home, and I remembered all that I had been so stressful about. I even cried a little. I do get rather emotional sometimes...Well, I am female, in case you haven't noticed! But then I caught myself. I realized I was getting inordinately worked up over something that with just a bit of bitachon, I wouldn't worry about at all. So I took a small breath and thought, Okay, then -it's up to Hashem. I felt a bit better.

Later that night -oh, I mean tonight:) -in just a few minutes I was told of something that greatly eased my worries. And even if that doesn't work out, it is such a splendid relief to know that things can turn around, so quickly, so easily, so hashgachically. It's really quite amazing.

So, to conclude (I can't go on and on, it's nearly 1:30 in the morning and I gotta get some sleep! It's been a long day), I found one can purchase stress relief with relaxation, sunshine, and creative outlet. But one can eliminate stress with bitachon. One can treat the symptoms -which is good to know -and one can cure the disease.

At least until tomorrow, anyway. :-)

Good night, everyone, and happy trusting!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Journeys and My Journey

At the risk of being repetitive, even, G-d forbid, boring and predictable, I will again transcribe a song.

Because my life plays out to the soundtrack I hear and the music I feel. And the song I'm listening to right now is the type that never fails to pierce my heart, make me cry, and wish I could be better than I am.

I'm not going through the best time spiritually. I need more strength. So forgive this guilty pleasure, this beautiful, heart-wrenching song by Journeys, entitled "The Place Where I Belong". (which, when compared to some other songs I love, isn't guilty at all...)

"I was made way back in 1842
By a humble man, a real G-d fearing Jew
Who did his work with honesty, feeling, and with pride
He was known in Kiev as Yankele the scribe
With loving care, his hands so sure and still
He formed me with some parchment, ink, and quill
Each day he'd slowly add to me just a few more lines
With words to last until the end of time

And on the day that I was finally complete
The whole town came and filled the narrow street
And they sang and danced and held me high and carried me away
To the little, wooden shul where I would stay
And then the Rabbi held me close against his chest
He spoke out loud and clear to all the rest
He said, 'No matter if you're very young, or even if you're old
Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll'

Three days a week, they read from me out-loud
It filled my soul with joy -it made me proud
They followed each and every verse with fire in their eyes
The words that told them how to live their lives
I watched the generations come and go
I saw the old men die, the children grow
But never in a century, did I miss my turn once
For the fathers -they had left me with their sons

But the hatred from the west came to Kiev
And they rounded up the Jews who had not fled
But Moishele the shammos, he was brave, and he was bold
He hid me in his cellar dark and cold
And for years and years, I waited all alone
For the people of my town to take me home
And they'd sing and dance and hold me high when they carried me away
To the little wooden shul where I would stay

But it was someone else who found my hiding place
And to America, he sent me in a crate
And the men who took me off the boat, they said I was a prize
But they were Jews I did not recognize
And in a case of glass they put me on display
Where visitors would look at me and say
'How very nice how beautiful, a stunning work of art'
But they knew not what was inside my heart
And across the room, I saw upon the shelf
Some old friends of mine who lived back in Kiev
A silver pair of candlesticks, a menorah made of brass
We'd all become mere echoes of the past

So if you hear my voice, why don't you come along
And take me to the place where I belong
And maybe even sing and dance when you carry me away
To some little wooden shul where I could stay
And as the Rabbi holds me close against his chest
He'll speak out loud and clear to all the rest
He'll say 'No matter if you're very young, or even if you're old
Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll'

Live by the words you'll find inside my soul

Yeah. That's it. I remember going to the Israel Museum in (duh) Israel while I was in seminary (my first year, when all was new and shiny), and I saw Torahs, menorahs, siddurim, and more on display. Beneath glass. Under signs that read, "Do Not Touch". People were taking pictures. It was a tourist's dream. And I was so incredibly disturbed by it all -by Judaism on display, like a newly excavated Egyptian urn from a million years ago, like something lost, forgotten, remembered only in history books and museums. I felt so upset, I think I almost became nauseous -I know I almost began to cry.

Why? Well, because of that -because Judaism isn't lost and forgotten, it is real, and a part of who I am and how I live. But most Jews cannot really say that, can they? The majority of Jews cannot read the words of the Torah scroll, cannot understand the miracle of the menorah, cannot know the words of Shema by heart. For so many, it is merely history. "But they were Jews I did not recognize."

And then there's the "Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll". I don't think I am. Not really. Oh, G-d, it really hurts to say that. It's embarrassing, and painful, and makes me wonder when this happened. Not yesterday, or a month ago, or even a year ago, so when? When did my life turn from a Torah life to a life of Torah on the side?? When I came back from Israel? That answer's too simplistic, and would mean my achievements weren't true, but I KNOW they were. I could isolate what I wish would improve, and it doesn't sound like a lot, but those small things linked me to the Torah way of life and are now a breach between me and my ideal. So how to bridge the gap?

Please help me, and answer...How to bridge the gap?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Flying Through Frustration, Inspiration, Realization

Well, I am in New York again, not that you knew I was gone. I was, however, in a city in middle America which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. Namely, me. Although, one could argue to great effect that my innocence is disputable and perhaps altogether debatable, but that is not, after all, the point.

The point is that my getting there and my returning from there were such interesting, frustrating, terrifying, wonderful days, that the journey, itself, became the point.

It all began last week, the night before my departure, when I decided when to wake up for my flight. My flight was scheduled for 8:00 AM, so I woke up at 5:30 to allow time for zipping up my suitcase, putting on half my makeup (the other half was saved for the car ride), stopping at Dunkin Donuts for some much needed coffee, and the traffic-ridden drive to the airport itself. Oh, Laguardia, how often I merit to see you!

Due to an actual paucity of cars on the road, I arrived at Laguardia with more than an hour to spare. I was blessed, though, with much to do, since a gate change was announced over the loudspeaker. A change of gate that required the boarding of a bus and a little hop to another, unadjacent terminal. By the time we all filed into the new boarding area, the time was already past eight. Minutes ticked by, and after only a twenty minute delay, we were finally granted the privilege of boarding the miniscule plane. If it were any tinier, it would need no engine -only a propeller or two.

But we did not take off right away. No, after a little taxiing, the polite pilot announced that traffic control is delaying our flight at least two hours due to the turbulent weather in our destination city. Oy, vey, sitting on a plane for two hours? With only coffee in my tummy? At least, I consoled myself, I had an seat in a row all to myself, a good book, and the airline magazine perched in the pocket of the seat in front of me. And they allowed us free reign of the aircraft, which I made happy use of -exempting the cockpit, of course. One hour and some time later (my, how time does fly when you're reading a book and sipping diet coke with ice), the pilot announced that due to the severity and apparent longevity of the storm a few states away, our flight was canceled.

Oooookaaaaayy, I thought. But with nary a grumble, and even with a smile, I exited the aircraft and thanked the nice flight attendant and pilot. Somehow, I managed to be last in line to rebook my ticket, so I figured I wouldn't get on a flight that day, but I'd have to wait for the next. Which would be especially ironic, since my original flight plan was to leave the next day, but I made it for a day early to spend more time with my sister, whom I planned on visiting.

Baruch Hashem, I was able to catch a flight on another airline (Continental) at 1:00 PM -only a three hour wait. I meandered my way across Laguardia ('cause, of course, it was on the opposite end of the airport), buying a magazine, another book, and...drum-roll!!! I miraculously found a little "health food" store called Cibo, which sells a lot of what's traif, and a little of what's kosher. I was good to go. At 12:50, I boarded my plane, which took about an hour or so to actually take off, so I landed at my destination about 6 hours later than I planned to. And my seat which would have been alone in it's own little row on my original flight was now squished next to a robust man with sharp elbows. But all's okay, really, because it was just another lesson in "Man plans, G-d laughs..."

But the story of my travel plans did not end with the first leg of my itinerary. No, just days later, after my visit ended, I found out my reservation had been canceled due to human error on somebody else's part, and an annoying phone call had to placed. I was put on hold, but the problem was eventually solved. But because my reservation had been cancelled, so had my seat choice. Now I was placed in a window seat. Oh, no, another close encounter with an uncaring seat neighbor, I thought. But all my worry was, I later saw, for naught...

Because when I got to the airport -with my mother and sister in tow, for they were returning to NY with me- we discovered our flight was delayed from 6:30 PM to 7:30. Then it was delayed to 8:00. Then 9:00. Suspecting another case of the ol' "delay, delay, cancel", I readied myself for a nice sprint to the ticket counter to be first in line to rebook our tickets. We brought with us five heavy pieces of luggage, and we wanted "out" that night. And then, as expected, a weary voice over the PA system announced the cancellation. I dashed to the counter and was rewarded with the second spot in line. (Hee hee.) It seemed that we'd have to take the next morning flight, because the next flight out was with Continental, and they weren't taking any more...oh, wait...yes...they were...okay, we were rebooked on the 10:15 PM flight outta there. So, American would reroute our baggage for, they wouldn't, because Continental wouldn't take we'd have to go to baggage claim, get our baggage, bring it upstairs to ticketing, and re-check in at the Continental counter. Fun.

So we did, that, and I'll spare you the details, but let me just mention how the cart, piled high with baggage -oh, did I mention our dog which was traveling with us?- got stuck in the elevator, and almost tipped over, and the beeping, and the doors closing on me, my mother, our suitcases, and our shih tzu...uch. And I should mention my side trip back downstairs to the opposite side of the airport for no reason, because the Continental lady told me too, but really she just "didn't know what she was doing" (this according to the American lady, to whom I was sent to by the Continental lady). And when I slugged my way back to the Continental counter, my mother regaled me with a hilarious account of how she was hit on by a celebrity-type figure before all his autograph seekers and bodyguard. Sheesh, I thought, I miss all the fun! "Is this normal?" I asked my mother. "Is life really this insane?" My wise mother responds, "We don't notice when it's smooth. We only notice when it's not."

An hour or two and a gate change later, we were finally sitting in the airplane on the way back to New York. We were seated neatly in a row, my mother, my sister, the dog beneath the seat in front of us, and me. Wondering if the pilot's prophecy will come true, if it will, indeed, be a "bumpy flight" due to the weather, and wondering why he would freak us out about it in advance after all we'd been through to get on the tiny plane. Wondering, what if? I always do...and wondering why I always do...

I read a book and tried to quiet my turbulent mind, bent on the turbulent ride, heedful of the flashes of lightening outside. I read a book and took deep breaths, even as panic overrode my sensibilities and the floor and walls of the small airplane seemed to radiate blistering heat, and the shakes and dips of the aircraft underscored its fragility in the face of the unknown. I read a book and didn't stop wondering, what if...?

And then I remembered what my father, a"h, told me about turbulence so long ago. "It's nothing but potholes -a car driving over a rough road." And then I turned on the air conditioner, breathed, and looked out the window to my right. What I saw shocked me to the core. I saw darkness, but not nothing. I saw beautiful blackness, mountains of clouds and air, glistening pinpricks of delicate stars, streaks of indigo mist riding beside our flying machine. I saw the beauty of the night. The beauty of the sky.

I sat with my nose up against the glass, my eyes drinking in the sights with a hunger unequal to that which I felt due to the lack of kosher food in a small town airport. I couldn't get enough of the beauty that I saw. I observed the ever-changing landscape of just two media -mist and air- as we traveled above it, below it, through it, in it. A dark fairyland, not terrifying but enlightening, sparking into life a darkness of the soul that hid from light for so many years. Oh, G-d! I thought- how beautiful! How wonderful! How! How?! And then seeing the glow of the city below pushing it's way through the night, I knew it was Man, staking his claim in the partnership with G-d, proving once again that he is not passive but rather present, and always, blissfully active, full of hope and love, full of life. The stars above bore witness to the tears in my eyes that didn't fall, but rather gathered together and waited, and then decided not to flee from me and so returned to the depths. A tear almost fell from my eyes because of the beauty I saw, and I was proud of that. And I realized my fear had fled miles ago, the air was cool and the world at peace.

We landed, we arrived. But they journey goes on. And I learned that yes, "Man plans, G-d laughs", but laughs not at us, rather with us, as we laugh at ourselves. For we expect life to be smooth, and easy, and we notice not when it is glorious, and beautiful. Unless we do notice. And then, we can either cry, or we can laugh. Or both.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Little MBD Never Hurt Anyone

Recently, I was in the car with a friend, chilling and listening to music, when one of my favorite songs came on. Just as I was about to say, "Hey, this is my favorite song!" my friend switched to the next song, which according to what she then said, was "such a great song". Huh. The song was a good one, but I liked the first one wayyyyy better. Wouldn't everyone? Guess not. Lesson number 973 of life: Everyone has different tastes. Especially in music.

So according to lesson number 973, many people probably wouldn't agree with the following statement. (That was a disclaimer, in case ya didn't catch it.)

Mordechai Ben David rocks the house aaaaallllll the way down. Seriously, man, I know some of his stuff just doesn't fit the current music style of 2006, but the classics never go out of style. Yerushalyim, We Will Never Leave You! Yerushalyim, At Yerushateinu, Lo Na'azveich, L'olam At Beit Chayteinu! Tamid, Tamid, Tamid B'Simcha! And.....the following poem. Not by me, but by MBD. (Well, that rhymed! He he:)

Trembling in the darkness/ A battlefield, who knows/ A soldier crawls ahead/for behind him, someone goes/ Oh, heaven/ Pounding is his heartbeat/ He whispers words of prayer/ It seems that all his life in a flash may disappear

Wait- the crack of dawn/ As it greets the weary trooper/ Now his comrades he can see/ Reunited all for victory/ There, beneath the sun/ In a moment/ He has conquered/ All his fear just slipped away / Like the night so swiftly turned to day

Trembling in the darkness/ Praying for the light/ It seems as if it may never come/ At the darkest of the night/ Oh yes, this galus, it surrounds us/ A battlefield, who knows/ We slowly inch ahead/ We believe it's really close

Wait- the crack of dawn/ Bright horizon/ Soon the sunshine/ Yes, Mashiach's on his way/ All the grief and sorrow slipped away/ The past is but a dream/ In Yerushalyim/ The Bais Hamikdash/ Yes, this galus slipped away/ Like the night so swiftly turned to day

Celebration/ Exultation/ Young and old dancing everywhere/ We believe it all/ Heaven standing tall/ Eternal paradise/ Euphoria/ The past is but a dream/ In Yerushalyim / The Bais Hamikdash/ Yes, this galus slipped away/ Like the night so swiftly turned to day

Pain so long forgotten/ Night forever gone/ Now here it is the crack of dawn...

I have nothing more to say, because this poem, this song, this tefillah stands on its own.

Ok, I have more to say, but only because I can't close my mouth (...or stop my hands?). No matter what your taste in music -Shalsheles, Chamillion, Shweky, Mozart, Matisyahu, Nickleback...

A little MBD never hurt anyone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Matzah of a Mitzvah...or a New Post?

Wow. The past week-and-half has been very intense. Very busy. Very interesting. Very, very, very.

So I haven't posted in a while. Not too long of a while, of course, but longer that I would have liked. Yup, another secret is out: Okee has a life. I couldn't find the time, willpower or menuchas da'as to sit down and "pen" a new post.

Just in the last week, I took care of -count 'em- nine pressing issues. Wheeeeeeewwwwww! That's enough to make any girl want to curl under the covers with a good slurpee and and even better book....But I haven't had the chance to do so.

Don't get me wrong. (Oh, I know you'd never get me wrong, but just in case...) I have taken many a break, procrastinated a fair amount, had a good bit of fun, made more than my share of friendly phone calls, and rented a movie or two (or three). But I have had so many "deadlines", so to speak, lately, that I feel like a newspaperwoman or something. And it's not over. Oh, no. Deadline number eighty five is tomorrow morning, for a parsha summer homework assignment. Oish! (that's for you, you know who:)

Luckily, I decided to squeeze in a post creation during my procrastination time. As soon as I'm done with this, I'll check my aol mail, my yahoo mail, listen to some music, and then maybe get down to business. All's well that ends well, said the bard, and all of us procrastinators seem to agree wholeheartedly.

On the other hand, it's not exactly a Jewish ma'alah, and seems to be the opposite of zerizus. Oh, dear. I should really work on that. You know what they say, a mitzvah only stays matzah if you don't let it rise!

They do say that, right?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Am I Falling Or Flying?

There's sometimes so much I want to say and do that I feel as if everything inside me is clamoring to get out, to explore the world, to conquer it, and sing. And I fly ever higher.

Sometimes I do not fly. I sort of slug along, close to the ground, checking both ways before I cross the sidewalk, and I slither onwards.

Sometimes I do not slither. I eat up the ground with great big strides, tossing my hair, laughing in delight, devouring the sights with amazed eyes, and I prance forward.

Sometimes I do not prance. I tend to shiver my way by, glancing over my shoulder, into the past, tears hanging off my eyelashes, and I crawl still further.

Sometimes I do not crawl. I leap. I dance. I run. I hide. I walk. I skip. I swim. I move, ever onwards. For even when I myself am still, life drags me faster and faster along.

This post was to be about something else entirely. Ironically, its title was originally "Waiting...and waiting...", a post about (duh) how much waiting around we do in life -for both the important and the trivial. Maybe I'll continue it in the future; probably not. Because my fingers tapped out a completely different entry -about going, going, going. Even when you look back, even when you move so slowly.

I often worry, as many other post-seminary girls do, about whether I am growing, and I think, perhaps, I'm not. I've remained stagnant -if not, G-d forbid, worse. But really, I believe life almost forces growth on us. It (aka Hashem) throws constant challenges our way. Like a brand new batter for the major leagues, we want to make a good impression, so we stand on the batter's mound and face down the pitcher. But even if I strike out so often the fans throw half-eaten hot dogs my way, I'll still gain from the harrowing experience -a new perspective on the pressures of the big leagues, the distractions of the crowds, the pitcher's various "tells" and tendencies, etc. So really, I'm not slipping down the slippery slope of life.

I'm flying, slithering, prancing, and crawling my way up it.

Just watch out for the half-eaten hot dogs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'M FOUND OUT! I may as well share more...

My secret's out. Okee is no longer in hiding.

My family knows I have a blog. They know it's this one. They know.

And they could be reading these words at this moment. Well, there's only one thing to say:


Okay, that's that! I don't think the knowledge that close family members may read this affects what I write. I wouldn't want to write anything, um, unsuitable for family consumption. No, no, that's very much not my intention. As I said in a previous blog, though, this blog is MINE. All mine. Heh heh. And I can say anyyyything I want. Again, heh heh. Cue the evil music. Do-doo-dooo-do---do-doo-dooo-do...

However, I want to say good things, nice things, happy things. And, upon occasion, some things that might not be good/nice/happy but will enable me to reach good/nice/happy.

So to further this delightful aim, I am baring my soul-yes, baring my soul, people- and sharing with the world my lofty, literary attempts. In a separate blog (, which I will link to, I will post a chapter every so often for public enjoyment and critical analysis. Please comment. Good, bad, constructive or kvetching, whatever. Thank you. But don't tell me to stop. Cause I won't. Well, I might, but it'll be because of writer's block, procrastination, or just plain being to busy.

Busy with what?- you ask slyly.
Get your mind off shidduchim, will you? I'm busy with life! Busy with, um....
Busy with my summer of....learning in Israel? in America? working? earning? hanging? traveling? Er, I don't have a clue what I'll be doing two weeks from now, much less....three weeks from now!

Enjoy the reading! (Warning: The book is fiction, thematically "judaic", not formulaically so, and veeeery tongue in cheek. Thought you should know:)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No Think To Think About---yeah, right!

I WISH I had no think to think about. Weeeeeellll, actually I don't wish that. Can you imagine? Nothing to think about? At all? Can a more terrible fate befall any man? Or woman? Especially a woman? Not even thinking about what to eat for lunch? Or dinner? Oish.

Ok, I think we all got the point.

Hmm. It just struck me that I asked a lot of questions just now, sort of the opposite of a previous, very jolly post where I exclaimed a lot of exclamations...Maybe, in a reaction to the last two posts in which I thought a great deal, and very seriously too, I'll leave the thinking to y'all, and just ask. That's ok, right?

Why don't I know what to wear to the siyum thing I'm going to tonight in Jersey?
Why does marking papers and grading tests cause me pain-internally and externally?
When will my coughing turn into sneezing?
Why does 7-11 never make good slurpees anymore?
If all you need is love, then why am I going to law school?
Will I maintain my scholarship there?
Will my students remember me always?
Will they wish they didn't?
Will I wish they didn't?
Am I going to Israel in the summer?
Is it going to get too hot outside to continue wearing winter clothes?
Does it matter?
Does anything?


And for the biggest question of all:
Should I post chapters from the book I'm writing, in order to entertain and get some critical feedback?
(I think that might be fun. :)

Well, I asked many, many, too many questions, when really all I wanted was to know the answer to the last one. Isn't it funny, though, that you could be thinking "tmi!" (too much info) in response to so much questioning? Isn't it ironic? Don'tcha think? It's like raiiiii-aiiiin... oops! Lapsed to Allanis...won't happen again. Bli neder.

So, I think this post is done, but I'm not sure it accomplished the mission statement I had in my head. Not to be needy or anything (no, neeeever that!), but maybe if you reassure me that it seems my goals were met, then I wouldn't worry so much.

Whoa. This angst of mine is totally a result of feeling like the school year is ending and I didn't accomplish all I set out to do and now they have finals but, really, have I taught them anything? and now I'm going to law school and this was my chance to get it all in, but now I'll have to wait at least 3 years, and....I'll stop now. Befor I get a head of myself. Not that that's possible, given how much I've been procrastinating.

Have a great day! or ?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Heart of Darkness

Across an ocean, beneath the burning sun and silent moon, fear and violence rule the land.

Over the last half a century, our hearts have screamed, "Never again!" -each day a remembrance. Have we forgotten?

Across an ocean, the land of darkness and mystery has become the land of darkness and misery.

As a nation, we have always known every life is truly a world. Have we forgotten?

Across an ocean, a foreign people in a foreign country are suffering. Are dying. Are starving. Are running. Are hiding. Are crying.

We are Jews, a light unto the nations. We are to set the tone for society's morality. Have we forgotten?

I know we haven't.
Over 400,000 murdered in a terrible geocide, over 2.5 million displaced. We cannot afford to be ignorant. We cannot afford to forget.

For more information on the crisis in Darfur, check out

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Method to the Madness...Why I Teach

I promised (threatened?) Josh I'd write a post about teaching when I read his thought-provoking post on dating teachers. (which, duh, I am) ( I don't yet know how to link to another blog, sorry!)

So why is Okee a teacher?

I don't know.

Scratch that. I do. I teach because I believe in what I teach. I believe to the extent that I want others to believe, to know, and to love. And I know I am not perfect. Far, far, far from it. So far that I can relate to the myriad of imperfections shared by all, and empathize with them, and want to help.

It's not egotistical to believe I can help. It is my duty as an educated Jew. How can I learn so much and love the Torah so much and just stand by when so many have learned so little and are barely aware of the possibility of loving Torah, loving Hashem, loving themselves?...

I never wanted to be a teacher. I thought it would be boring, difficult, dorky, and worse. But although it is extremely difficult sometimes in different ways (for me the difficulty lies in disciplining and upholding the kavod of my position), it is never boring, never dorky, never worse. Can a doctor be bored with saving lives? Can a teacher be bored with facilitating Torah growth, enriching spiritual lives?

There is always a danger of being self-righteous when one speaks of fighting for the truth, a religious zealousness. But I am so deeply aware of my own need to be brought closer to Hashem (someone please be mekarev me), that to be self-righteous would be self-delusional. Am I zealous? Well, I do tend to jump up and down when I'm about to say an important Jewish principle or beautiful idea. I do walk into class with a smile on my face and say, "Yay, we're learning Parshas Emor today!" But, I know if my students gain anything at all, it will not be because of me, really. It will be because of themselves.

And that humbles me.

Next year I begin law school. That saddens me. But my teaching will not, b'ezras Hashem Yisborach, ever end. Who says I cannot teach as a student, or as a lawyer, or as a wife, or as a mother? Certainly not me. I say I can.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Did you grow up with a tv? Am I the only one who hasn't kicked the habit? Sometimes I feel like I am...

Friday, May 05, 2006


Yayyyy!!! A neeeewwww poooooosssttt!

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!! And I'm breaking the cardinal rule of not using too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!! So...I'll stop. How sad. Just a tiny little dot, a period is. All it does is stop a sentence. But it can't stop me! (oops.)

"Okee my beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, kind friend, why on earth are you so excited? Did you get engaged or something?"-you ask.

"Oh, no, nothing like that. I'm just so very happy, because I'm alive, and healthy, and in love with...the world!! And I'll use as many exclamation points as I want cause this is MY blog!!!!!WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I answer.

"Okaaaaay...But did something in specific set you off? Cause you're freaking me out," you remark, with a puzzled expression on your face.

"Ummm, now that I think about it, I did see a lot of hashgacha today, which means Hashem LOVES me. Yayyyy, Hashem loves me!!! I'm so lucky!!! When I was looking for parking near school today, which normally takes forever and I still had to prepare for my class which was taking place in another half hour, I said aloud, 'Hashem, it's in Your hands whether I find a parking spot. I'm putting my trust in you.' Less than half a block later, I found a spot!!! was easy to get into!!! Whooo-hoooo!" I exclaim with a silly grin plastered on my face.

"Er," you point out hesitantly, not wanting to dispel my cloud of happiness and peace, "My dear Okee, that's just one parking space. Why the big deal?"

"Oh, c'mon, don't you get it? Hashem looooves me! Even when it takes me 25 minutes to get a parking space and then I go back to my car and find an orange enveloped ticket on the windshield!!" I laugh.

"Oh...I get it now!" You say, a big grin spreading over your adorable face. "Hashem loves you. And...He loves me too!! Whoooooopeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bring on the exclamation points!!!"

"!" And so I did.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Princess Ponders the Dueling Dragons

Dear beautiful blog world,
I enjoyed writing the last post/poem so much that now I think it's time for a story! I'm cutting and pasting a story I wrote last year, so if you recognize it, you'll recognize me. That's okay, just don't comment by saying, "Oh, Okee- you're THAT Okee!! How funny!" Cause that would be funny, but then I'd have to really watch what I say. Please enjoy the following fairy-tale! The meforshim I leave to you.
~~Love, Okee

Once upon a time, a princess lived in a golden castle on the edge of the sea. She did not know much about her life, or why she lived in the castle, but her life had a strict routine. Every day, she awoke early in the morning and began her day with classes to broaden her mind. After those intellectual lessons, she had classes on the practical aspects of life, and then classes on morality, integrity, and truth. This was her life. A new teacher came to the castle every day to give over to her all that they knew. Soon the princess wondered why all this knowledge was necessary. She thought perhaps that the king may have desired a portable library of information, and she was to fill that job. But when she would mention such an idea to her educators, they would laugh and say, “I think not.”

One late afternoon in December, the princess heard a thunderous roar outside her window. When she rushed to her window and peered out, instead of seeing the darkening sky, she saw a monstrous green, scaly dragon. Before she could scream or faint in fright, the fearsome dragon spoke, its words framed in flames. The dragon said, “My name is Knowledge. I live alone, like you, but at the bottom of the deepest depths of the sea. I see none, hear none, love none, but know almost all. These are the first rays of sunlight I have seen in over a thousand years. The ascent from the sea floor has nearly burnt and blinded me. But I had to come, for I must know one thing more. Who are you, that you are gaining so much knowledge, nearly to equal my own? How dare you even dream that your knowledge can surpass mine?” Smoke curled from Knowledge's nostrils.

The princess was astounded by the dragon's words, for she knew not the why of her life. Shaking slightly, she replied, “But I do not know why I have such knowledge! This is my life...” Suddenly, to her great surprise, a colossal red dragon with shimmering scales and butterfly wings flew down from the heavens. The green dragon looked at the other dragon with dismay and sneered. The glorious red dragon spoke. “Good evening. My name is Wisdom. I live in the open sky and in the deep sea and on the green land. I see many, hear many, love many, and understand almost all. For more than a thousand years, I have lived amongst rays of sunlight. The descent from above is commonplace for me. But I had to come, for you must understand one thing. You are not like Knowledge. You are like me, Wisdom, but you do not yet know why.”

Knowledge growled, muttering, “Wisdom. You always swoop down wherever there is knowledge and try to take over. Can't you leave knowledge in peace? Why must there always be more?”

The princess looked at Wisdom in confusion. The red dragon smiled and quietly said, “Yes, it is true that I do not like to leave knowledge alone. Because it is unnatural that knowledge remains so. Knowledge must evolve into wisdom, lest it becomes corrupt. Just look at Greenie over there. Princess, your entire life has been the gaining of not knowledge, but wisdom. You have not learned information just to know much, but to do much. You have learned in order to shape who you are and who you can be. You have learned in order to affect all around you and all within you. You have learned in order to affect the world. It can be done in many ways. You may not need to leave your castle, for one man is an entire world. But if you do leave your castle, your life of lessons will be wisdom for you -as long as you call upon it, it will be wisdom. Remember, all your lessons, classes and information will not change yourself or the world if you leave it as inaccessible knowledge within your mind. Place it all in your heart, place it all in your soul, and you will change your place in the universe.”

And so the story ends.
But the journey is just beginning for us all...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back To The Future IV -return of the yetzer tov

It's been a long time
Oh, such a long time
But why am I gone
Oh, why have I gone

Where did she go
That good, good girl
The one who grew
And advanced on the path
Where did she go

Many years past
She kept on growing
But she has since
Lost that feeling

Of living and growing
And loving that, knowing
She was walking the path
Ever walking farther on that

But now...
So silent, so still
So stagnant, what will
She become

So let's go back
In time again
To the years past
When life was lived fast

And in small, tiny steps
She'll look forward
No longer back
And she will walk

Forward and farther
Hither and yonder
Higher and higher
She will walk

Ever so slowly
Like counting golden coins
So they last
She will walk

Ever so gently
Ever so beautifully
Ever so hopefully
I will walk

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rejection and Rejoicing

Ok, so I promised to mention the not such good news, which I worded as such since it is so not "bad news" since bad news is indicative of tragedy and this does not fit itself in that category. Thank G-d. Anyway, by now I think all law school applicants received their acceptance/rejection letters, and so did I. I did not get in to most of the schools I wanted to. So, sorry to tell y'all, but this semi-blonde is not going to Harvard. That's quite alright with me, though, since I did get into a school that was my first-and-a-half choice, meaning it wasn't my first or second choice but somewhere in between. It's very easy to see now that it will also be the best choice for me, personally. I hope it works out to be the best!

When I found out, I was a little disappointed, but to be brutally honest, it only hurt my pride -not my hopes. I'm ashamed to say that I'm used to success much more than failure, and it was a little bit of a sting that certain, unnamed schools didn't see just how spectacularly amazing I am. Oh, well, enough about my ego. The reason why it was only a little disappointing was because throughout my life, whenever I thought my life would go in one direction, it went in the complete opposite. Examples would have to be general, to maintain my anonymity and my vague aura of mystery! I thought I'd go to seminary for one year and be done. Nope. I thought I'd go to a prestigious, ivy league college. Definitely not. I thought I'd never have a boyfriend, or any boy type relationships until I start formally dating, and then I'd marry the third or fourth guy I date. Uh, nope. (more on that another time)

Really there's nothing left to say 'bout that except: "Rabos Machshavos B'Lev Ish, V'Atzas HaShem He Sakum"! Or, in more colloquial terms, "Man Plans, G-d Laughs."

Life is an everchanging adventure. I just hope that I can also laugh about whatever comes next!

Btw- chag sameach everyone!! Moed tov!!! (I heard typing was ok, just don't print!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Shrug and the Silence

Recently I read an article discussing the origin and usage of the phrase "It is what it is." A fascinating piece on modern vernacular, it really stuck with me. And whenever anyone uttered those words (or their close relatives, she is what she is, I am what I am, what will be will be) near me, I perked up and took notice. I noticed the strange and often sad acceptance of those words. "It is what it is" is usually sighed in a shrugging, I-guess-there's-nothing-we-can-do-about-it-so-we'll-live-with-it kind of way.

This kind of attitude is superficially admirable -a "good" attitude, accepting what cannot be changed, not pursuing futile endeavors of improvement. But as a Jew, we should never be shruggingly accepting. We really should be in a constant state of hishtadlus-growth, effort, change. Nothing is futile. The scenario itself may not alter or disappear with a few prakim of tehillim or with a prayer, but we will. So it is never what it is. It could be so much more.

In next week's parsha, Aharon hears from Moshe that his sons were killed by the strange fire they brought in the mishkan. What was his response? Silence. Not shrugging meek, resignation, but rather silence, stillness, understanding and intelligent acceptance. (Very often silence would be the most intelligent response to any scenario.)

So do not just accept the ups and downs in your life. Take them, use them, try to change them, grow from them. Apathy is one of the worst emotions -worse than hatred, anger, sadness, frustration...Apathy and despair are two halves of the same coin. So learn from this week's parsha, tzav, and maintain the aish tamid in your heart. Keep the fire burning, keep on trying, keep on working to make a difference. One tiny spark can start a conflagration.

"It is what it is." Or is it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oh, I'm Not Locked in My Car?

Okay, I thought that lately this blog has been a little tooo serious, and it's getting me down. I want to write something on a lighter, happier note. So here's a story...that apparently is light and funny, since when I told my mother, she could not stop laughing and sputtered, "And you want to be a hot-shot lawyer!?" Thanks, mommy!

Once upon a time, not so long ago, but long enough ago that I will pretend that my anonymity will remain preserved, I got into my car and the alarm went off. My friend who was with me at the time -I'll call her Nava- shrieked "You pressed the panic button, turn it off", to which I shrieked back, "I don't have a panic button!" (We were shrieking not out of fear or anger, but rather because the alarm was sooooooooooo soooooooooo ear-splitting loud.) We tried unlocking the doors, locking the doors, turning on the engine, turning it off, turning on the lights, turning them off, opening the doors, closing them. No one came running to help -no surprise, it was that loud. But finally a mexican/spanish guy came over to help. So what'd he do? He disconnected the battery under the hood. Okay, the alarm went off, but now how do I get home?

Nava called another friend -Lila-, and told her to drive to the parking lot we were in. (the office max/grocery store/seedy Laundromat parking lot) She came by, and then Nava got in her car, so they could get the clicker from my apartment. I figuratively grasped Lila by her lapels and said, "You are not leaving me here alone with a disconnected battery car and a mexican and a Laundromat." So she stayed, and Nava hurried to get the clicker. Meanwhile the guy showed me how to open the hood of the car (no, I didn't know how to open it) and how to reconnect the battery. Then he left. Oh, by the way, he didn't speak fluent English. Just a side note. So when Nava returned triumphantly with the clicker, we positioned ourselves before the engine. Nava held the clicker and Lila's ears shut. Lila clasped her hands over my ears, and on 1,2,3 I reconnected the battery and quickly quickly Nava turned off the alarm using the magic clicker. End of first story.

By the way, this wasn't the story that made my mother laugh. No, no, please be patient.

The next morning, on my way to school, everything was fine. I had the clicker with me, and I was about to give one of my classes a nice little evil test. I spent some time trying to find a parking space, squeezed into a good one, and turned off the engine. Suddenly, it was very quiet. All of the digital displays went out, and I couldn't restart the engine. Hm, I thought, that's weird. The battery probably somehow got disconnected. I unlocked the doors to get out, and nothing happened. Huh?- oh the battery...I pressed unlock on the magic clicker. Didn't work. So the clicker isn't magic after all. I began to panic. I was locked inside my car! All the windows were up, and I couldn't unlock the doors!! I quickly called Nava, but couldn't reach her. I called the school I teach in, and the secretary gave me the number of chaveirim. I called them, and 15 minutes of waiting nervously in a stuff car later, one guy came and walked to my car with all his unlocking equipment. I gave him my unfortunately helpless face, and he was about to stick the wire into the car window when he asked if I tried lifting the lock.

With dawning humiliation, I tried lifting the lock thing out of the door. Click! I was out. He gave me suuuuch a look! And as soon as I got out, the other chaver pulled out. I then quickly distracted them by saying, "Ohhh, the battery's dead!!! I think it got disconnected. Well, after my little, oh, faux pas with the lock, they totally ignored me and started discussing jumper cables. And then chaver #1 opened up the hood of the car and they saw, lo and behold, the battery was disconnected. So they reconnected it and said I should probably see a mechanic to get it tightened so it doesn't happen again. I thanked them so very much and ran, literally ran to school.

I've been told more than once that I'd make a really great blonde. Well, it's true. To make me feel better, please share your ditzy/I forgot my head at home/oops/duh stories in the comments section! Have a great day!

Monday, March 06, 2006

You are Never as Far as I Feel You Are

This past shabbos, for the first shabbos in many a shabbos, I learned a little Torah. A friend and I went over the beginning of a Nesivos Shalom on Purim, in preparation of the imminent chag. We learned something very interesting, that I've been thinking of ever since.

True bitachon, trust in Hashem, is the knowledge that not only does everything happen for a reason, and not only does it all occur for a reason of goodness, but also that it all happens from Hashem, our Father, Who is so close to us, always so close to us. Hashem is constantly near to us, guiding us, aiding us, even when we sin. Even when we turn from Him, He is before us. Even when we fall, He catches us. And so a person with true bitachon never worries, never fears -baruch hagever asher yivtach baHashem, v'haya Hashem mivtacho.

This is not a dvar Torah. If you wish to understand the Nesivos Shalom, I think you must examine it for yourself. I am not in my teaching mode right now. It is past midnight, and I had a rather bad day. Much time was wasted, my nails are bitten down to the quick, I broke my diet-again-and I fear another layer of rock-hard shielding has settled over the softness of my heart. Why?

Lately I have been having revelations. About my family, about the nature of influence and change, about the status of my soul and about the possible future. A pall of darkness contests the usual sunlight of my existence, but I do not know why. I am sad, and that scares me. I feel so much pressure, but I know not what it is asking me to accomplish. So much love and life fills me that I feel as if I am suffocating. I know not why. In a week's time I will be going to Eretz Yisrael. Can the kindness of Hashem ever be clearer to see? There my neshama will remember the last two years of my life, the peace I have found, the person I know I wish to be. The earth of Israel under my shoes will shake my mind into living again. Living in America. Living, improving. I hope.

So my point: Panic is so quick to grasp our hearts and terrorize our peace -but if we realize that Hashem is so, so, so close to can we fear anything?

One caveat: Yes, it is true that Hashem is so, truly so close, we need only turn to Him, to our Father in Shamayim...but if we feel distant from Him, and we feel as if, no, He is really so far from us -then He will be distant, and it will be difficult. So no matter how far away from G-dliness you or I feel, just realize this. Hashem loves you. He loves me. And takes care of me. And sustains me. Even at this very moment, as I sit here before my computer, and I know that my soul is seeped in many sins, some of which leave deep cesspools of stains, He is commanding my heart to beat. He is willing me alive.

And one emotion now rises above the others, casting aside the shadows and the palls of despair and panic: joy and thanks.

Thank You, Hashem. For being so close.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What are you afraid of...?

Yesterday I went skiing. It was only the second time I ever went skiing, the first being around five years ago. My first time on the slopes was amazing; I learned the how-to pretty quickly, and loved the feeling of flying down the mountain. I was so blown away by the beauty of my surroundings that I had no time to be scared.

Well. Yesterday, I was rather impressed by the peaceful and soothing vistas of mountains covered in (fake) snow, and so I thought I'd be fine.

I wasn't.

After the hour-long lesson, reminding me just how to progress down the mountain, my friend and I got on the ski lift to ascend to the very top of the trails. The two guys running the ski lift asked us if we had off from school. We replied, yes. They then asked us which school we go to. We laughed and gleefully replied, "We're teachers," and then lifted off into the sky. That was one of the best parts of the day.

But once we reached the end of the lift and skied over to the green (beginners) trail, I had no idea what would happen next. We started down the mountain...gained momentum...and aaaaahhhhh!!! I pushed out my legs into a pizza shape and stopped. My friend asked if I was okay, but I shook it off and tried again. And again. And again. Basically, the whole day progressed in the same manner -me doing very well, executing beautiful turns, and then getting overcome by the speed and the sensation of hurtling down the mountain and forcing myself to stop. Sometimes I would just fall, to get myself down, still, on the snow. It was fairly ridiculous, as it took me a veeeery long time to get back up. But no matter how slow I tried to go, I kept on just going too fast for my own comfort.

As the sun drifted slowly into the horizon, my friend and I discussed why I kept getting too scared to continue. It wasn't a lack of technique-I knew I was in control since I was able to stop, and it wasn't the height-I was alright on the mega high lifts. Really, it was the sensation that just perhaps I was not in total control of my own velocity, flying down the hill. The speed overcame all thoughts in my mind, until I just couldn't do it anymore. I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins, and I hated it. My friend loved the adrenaline, and it was hard for her to understand. She even led me onto a steep hill and said, "Okee, just go straight, don't slow down, it feels awesome!!" I tried, had to slow down, and even then I wouldn't talk to her for about ten minutes.

Everyone has their fears.

So what did I learn I am afraid of? Speed, probably. But more so the feeling of being out of control, of hurtling through life with no way to slow down and take matters in my own hands.

I'm also afraid of the dark when I'm alone, and can't see anything, and it's too quiet. But that can be a fear of isolation-not seeing, hearing, being with anyone.

I'm also afraid of people finding out I'm not as good as they might think me too be. But I think everyone shares that fear...

It's one of the most personal questions someone can ask you.

What are you afraid of?


Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Know, It's Psychological...

This is a picture of people walking. Because that is what I do. I know I've mentioned it before, but if you're going to get to know me better, you're going to have to really understand this.

I walk.

I walk when I've eaten too much and my stomach hurts. I walk when I need to shake myself out of a slothy, sluggish mood. I walk when I want to listen to my iPod. I walk when I don't have a car to drive. I walk when I just want to get away. I walk when I just want to get away from myself. I walk to feel more attractive. I walk to feel more spiritual. I walk when I cry. I walk when I'm bored. I walk when the weather is beautiful. I walk when it's snowing. I walk at night. I walk in the sun. I walk alone. I always walk alone.

I think you get the picture. Now, this makes me sound like a really athletic loner, but I'm not. Athletic, that is. Tee hee. Seriously, although I spoke in my last post about the more spiritual benefits of my walks, I have to mention the psychological ramifications as well. It's only fair.

I noticed it today, when I took a short walk to CVS after a great/horrible day at school. Unfortunately, I have those days all too often, since I teach one great class and one horrible class. Chas v' shalom that I'm saying my students are horrible, no, no, my teaching is. Yep, I admit it. Although I teach the same exact material to both classes, for one class I'm entertaining, clear, interesting, patient and understanding, and in the other class, I'm boring, incoherent, shrewish and dense (I should also add helpless). I'm still not sure how to fix this, and it really hurts me, it really does. So I wasn't in the best mood when I went for my walk. (Besides the negative stuff I just brought up, I'm dealing with some other sad/annoying issues, but I don't think we know each other well enough for me to go into them just yet.)

And as soon as my song shuffle landed on Les Miserables, my mood took a sharp swing in the downward direction. I'm telling you, I started frowning. The corners of my mouth turned down. I hate that. But then the strangest thing happened. The next song was Chevron by Mordechai Ben David -one of my favorite jewish musicmakers of all time. And even though I don't really know what most of the song means (I'm not an Ivrit teacher!), it plastered a smile on my face. If you were walking down my street today, you probably would have seen my smile- it was that big. Besides, it was still daytime. Anyway, go figure. Sometimes all you need to put yourself in a better mood is a walk. Sometimes you need a piece of chocolate. Sometimes you need a MBD song. Pick your poison-->pick your antidote.

Now it's nighttime, my time. I think I'll go for a walk.

Oh, if anyone knows what the song means, please comment or email it to me!