Thursday, February 22, 2007


So, I'm back. Sort of. Still in the middle of writing a paper, but I took a couple of days to go gallivanting about this little country of mine, and I thought I really ought to write about it a bit. Two events in paticular actually.

The first was an innocent boat ride. Me and my travel companions decided to go spend a day in Haifa and a day in Netanya, bc we've never been there, and they're only brief train rides from where we live. So we did. I'd just like to footnote here, that trapezing all over the world with only the rules of spontanaiety and chillnes to guide you is fantastically liberating and makes for many adventures. However, these adventures are more soundly appreciated when one has not spent half the night in discussions of theoretical philosophy and theology. That just makes you crabby.

So we made a reservation for a boat ride. And we get there and the nice lady at the reception booth informs us that since we booked our passage at the same time as a group of Arab high school kids, we will be the guests of the captain - go straight up to the little captain's room, hang out with him the whole time, and remain completely seperate from said school group. She repeated the word "nifrad" -seperate- multiple times and with notable emphasis. Or, if we preferred, we could wait another hour for the next ride and go with a group of midrasha girls. (Israeli seminary girls.) This led to a heated private discussion. On the one hand, sharing a boat with a group of Arab teenagers was a thought that made us a little nervous. Then of course, we wouldn't exactly have the freedom of the entire boat to roam, as we may have liked. On the other hand, when are we going to get another opportunity to be the captain's special guests? Plus, when you think about it, are Israeli seminary girls so much more preferable? Also, there wasn't a whole lot to do in the area and waiting around for another hour wasn't quite so appealing.

So we decided for the sooner trip. It worked out well. The Arab teenagers were quiet and well behaved as far as teenagers go; I'd have to say far better behaved than just about any group of Jewish school children, of any age, Israeli or otherwise, that I have ever seen, and I've seen many. So on that head, there was no need for our apprehension. But what really struck me was the attitude of the people who worked there. They were so intent on keeping us seperate from the group. Even at the end, they told us not to disembark until after the group had. I couldn't really quite understand what they were so nervous about. Not only was the group perfectly calm and the kids relatively nice, but they were chaperoned by at least four or five teachers. I really didn't get it. But, we did get to steer the boat, and they were very nice to us, and even gave us a discount bc of the unexpected company.

The second event was, I fell off a horse. One of the things people always talk about doing in Netanya is riding horses on the beach, so we decided to check it out. We found a place that provided this service plus jeeping, both of which we wanted to do, so after a wonderful morning of hanging out on the beach and flopping about (fully clothed, of course) in the Mediterranean Sea, we headed over there. I have to say, to anybody who has ever been obsessed with horses, I definitely get it. They're still too smelly for me to get into on a regular basis, but there is something about riding a horse...they're very cool animals. Something about the power and strength of them, plus the whole "look-at-me-I'm-being-one-with-nature-bc -I'm-riding-an animal" thing. The water was beautiful. It was the last hour before sunset, so everything had that just before sunset golden tinge, and the salty smell of the water coupled with the confident strides of the horses created this amazing sense of power and feedom.

And then my horse got a little too confident.

Here's something you maybe don't know about me; I have this really strong fear of heights, and of falling. Seriously. Standing on chairs and walking down stairs make me very nervous. In general. It's not debilitating, that is to say, I don't let it get in my way too much. In this country, stairs are pretty much unavoidable. Also, I don't like being a coward, so I make myself do things that scare me, sometimes. Like roller coasters. And hiking along thirty foot drops with sharp jagged rocks at the bottom, along a ridge that's maybe three inches across with nothing to grab onto so you have to kind of shimmy sideways, and you're one in a really long line of slow moving seminary girls who have to stop every five minutes to take pictures(just when you're getting your balance and finally thinking it might be over soon without a gory and painful death.) (Ok, maybe that one wasn't so voluntary. And maybe I kind of freaked out. It happens.) And getting on horses.

And it was going well, I was enjoying it. But every time my horse started going a little faster than I was comfortable with, I pulled back on the reins, bc I was more comfortable when he went slower. And then we got to this bit where we all had to be walking more or less in a single file line. And we got a little behind. My horse didn't like being behind, he wanted to be with the group, so whenever he got behind during the course of the ride, he'd start cantering a bit to catch up. Which I let him do, bc he wasn't going too fast, and bc I knew he'd stop when he caught up with everyone else. Only this last time, I guess we were more behind than usual, bc he broke into a run, and when I tried to pull back on the reins I lost my balance. I think I kind of rode the side of the horse for a few feet and then plunged off into some nearby brush growth. I must have screamed, though I don't remember specifically. Sof davar, I was shaken, but not hurt. Nothing broken, I'd been wearing a helmet, etc. So, I got back up on the horse and we continued back to the place. One of the madrichim hung back with me and kept the horse under control and tried to chat with me to calm me down and stuff. He was really nice about it, telling me he'd fallen at least twenty times, and that it was really great that I'd gotten right back up and all that. But I didn't have the energy to be that responsive, and I think he felt bad about it. He was cute too.

Anyway, after that we went jeeping, and that was awesome. They gave us a ride to the train station too. All in all, a very cool day, although I have been sore ever since. Which, I guess, is fine, considering I have nothing to do but sit on my bed and write my paper.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Ladies and gentlemen, there is in fact a light at the end of the tunnel. Wednesday is my last final - at least until I have to retake them in April - at which time I do plan to rejoin the human race; do laundry, clean up my room, exercise, celebrate a little. Until then, keep breathing, and sleeping, for me, bc I won't be doing much of either....

Monday, February 05, 2007


Do you ever fel the need to break out? Break away? Pick a direction, start running, never look back?

I know it's cliche. It's cliche for a reason.

It's all too easy. It's all already been done. This striking out on my own path thing? The whole being original, doing my thing, my non-pre-designated, pre-formulated, pre-approved plan? People tell you to be spontaneous, but the spontaneous things you really want to do you can't do because you are restricted.

Can't travel the world on your own bc, if you ignore the safety factor, how can you possibly wander that long without a guarantee of kosher food? And even if you could get around that, what would prospective shidduchim think of a young frum girl who decided to wander around the world by herself for a year? (Of course, I've already eliminated a good chunk of those people by learning gemarrah, hee hee.)

What if I wanted to publish a book? What if I wanted to write about non-Jewish topics? Forget approval; how many former teachers would scold me for not using my talent to "further G-d's will" in the world?

But what if I write about Jewish stuff? Could I portray the frum community honestly without being condemned for "airing dirty laundry?" But yet, could I justify to myself producing yet another "B.Y. Times" series and perpetuate the lack of decent Jewish art? I could never be proud of such a thing; I could never put my name on such a thing. What's more, I really don't think that it furthers G-d's will in any way, nor do I think it's what He gave me talent for.

What if I wanted to try and work in Hollywod? Who in the world could possibly approve of that? Or what if I didn't want to do anything spectacular at all? What if I wanted to just sit in the middle of nowhere, or somewhere with beaches, like Hawaii, get a few minimum wage jobs, maybe continue my degree, and just be for a while?

Someone my age can't possibly have claimed to have "seen it all..." but the more I see, the more everything looks the same. There are a few different acceptable lifestyles you can choose within the misgeret of the orthodox Jewish world. And each one is equally safe and predictable and tidy in its own slightly variated way. All the precedents have already been set, all the moves already made....I hate that I think "Hmm, twenty years from now..." and I see myself as a person I've seen 100000 times bc it's every Jewish woman ever...if I hear one more person say "The next time I see you, you'll probably be married..." I'm seriously going to scream. In public. It's not that I don't want to get married and have a million kids, bc trust me, I do. I just hate that everyone who knows me thinks they've got me figured out based on a few statistics that apply to about half the female OJ population my age. What if I'm not married by age 21? Further, what if I don't want to be married at age 21? What if I said,out loud and everything, "Hmm, yes a family is important, BUT I'M NOT READY FOR ONE JUST YET?" at my age?? what would people think??

I don't know...maybe I feel it so much more bc of my age. Everyone around me has spent/is spending this period of life mostly getting systemized. I suppose the majority are at Stern/YU Landers/Touro and other similar institutions, but it happens anywhere there's a large collection of American Jewish people of around my age. I used to think my University was exempt, which was a large part of my choosing it; but our community has grown the last two years, and it systemizes more and more with every passing day.And every passing day I get more restless, more frustrated, and the itch to move gets worse and worse...

How am I ever going to know who I am if I can't step out of context? It's not as simple as changing place, bc there are far too many places to go where the situation would be exactly the same. I need to dissapear, shed all shreds of context, all traces of attachment. It's not that I think I'll be someone so drastically different. I'll still just be me...but I'll also be just me, and that is exaclty the point.