Saturday, November 26, 2005

so the cab driver was right

back by popular demand!

i've always wanted to say that.

the truth is that having taken this down, there were a few people who asked me to put it back up again. and i needed the outlet; i think i need a laugh track. anyway, so the blog goes back up.

but first, some public anouncements.

1. The Royal Disclaimer.

here we go, folks. my dad has one, and now i do as well. behold: THIS BLOG IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN PERSONALLY. it is not a press release, not a statement to the world to be distributed to each and every person i may have mentioned. it is an extension of my brain, and that's it. i think aloud because it calms me and forces me to see things in perspective, and often times i get a lot of really helpful advice from people removed from the situation, which i greatly appreciate. it's like a little support group.

but because that's all it is, i hope you all understand that i do not mean to criticize or degrade anyone with this implement. i am not going to white-wash my thoughts, but if you're readings this, assume you don't know the people involved; assume i'm not talking about you; assume i don't mean it personally. because chances are, you're right.

and if you're one of those people who goes to school with me and will be able to figure out exactly who and what i'm talking about, no matter how well i obscure the names, here's a newsflash: if i wanted this distributed around campus, i'm sure i could manage it myself. this may be a self-centered way to look at things, but yes, the people you know are the people affecting my life right now, the people that i need to think about. at times i am bound to say something that one of them will take issue with. if you are going to read this blog, i am going to assume also that you'll take it for what it is - entertainment, mostly - and not a chance to carry tales and instigate hostility.


everybody needs to vent. this is my venting. it has absolutely no credence, and i won't vouch for it in a court of law. so there's little point in making a public case out of it.

2. Sorry For Being Skitzo

yeah, i've had a couple nasty interpersonal relations in the past two weeks. i'm learning a lot about the seamier side of human nature, and it's a little hard to swallow sometimes. so hence the blog fluctuation (fluxuation?) and the above hysterical rant. please don't mind me being all indignant etc. i'm just under the weather.

3. Y'all Are Wonderful

for those of you who emailed me and even those that didn't: it surprised me that anyone would really notice the blog being gone, but your messages were very comforting. i'd like to thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me and letting me share mine with you, and all the input about everything since i started college. it really has meant a lot to me. shout-out to shira who just got a full-time position.

ok, i think that's everything. from now on you'll notice some slight changes...i'm going through and editting the names, and i think the only Real Names you'll get are stern and yu. i'm not sure why i bother, because stern and yu people will be able to decipher identities regardless, but hey.

if you decide to take this to heart, the responsibility is officially yours alone. and as my father says, perhaps you should seek entertainment elsewhere.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

oleh oleh o!

the ten-thirty bus to brookdale thursday nights: or: the Stoned/French Leibedik Boys' Bus.

i know it's ridiculous to blog about it two minutes after i just posted the other one, but it's too funny. they spent the whole ride-- the whole ride!-- in unison, shouting songs and clapping each other loudly on the back. 'oleh oleh oleh OLEH!'

when your iq reaches 50, sell

ok, so here i am, posting from the yu library. what, you may ask, am i doing at the yu library? studying? clearly not. so now i will tell you the extremely entertaining story of my second radio show.

it started off well enough, i thought, despite my lack of a cohost. kovi (moe?) called in and was patently unfunny as an eskimo. we also heard from my publicist (my absent co-host) and my dad, not to mention weed, the station manager, who is so uncannily like my brother shua in looks and motion that i really feel as if i have been time-warped to the future and am talking to him. he is good company, nonetheless, and very forgiving of my many blunders, so i had a lot of fun for the first hour of my one hour show.

but then something interesting happened: the second act no-showed. we stretched and we stretched and then we figured it out. weed says to me: looks like you got another hour. i think of my english paper, awaiting me in my dorm room, and briefly consider my options.

"Bring it on," i say.

I invite our weather man, mikey, down to the station for a briefing on the sudden chill in the air and what to do about it, which turns out to unwise, because our weatherman is californian and is therefore as close to israeli in attitude as you can get. 'cold? ehhhhhhh...shiver. it produces body heat.'

so we are having fun. but then i make a mistake i do not plan on making in the future: some guy i didn't know who was listening ims me to see if he, too, can come in for the bonus hour. i figure, why not? it will be a party!

little do i know.

he seems ok at first, joking with the weatherman, dancing a little...ok, alright. then he starts getting into some sketchy double entendres. ok...i guess you can have a little fun on the air. then he asks me out. i know it could have been really funny, but you see, having never dealt with that kind of humor before, i couldn't think of a good comeback. luckily, the weatherman jumped in to save the day, but the situation continued to deteriorate, to the point where the manager came in and told us we had to keep it clean. this is the point at which i decided to leave and let the guy do the last ten minutes himself.

so, we had some time to kill before the shuttle. the weatherman takes me back to the enormous convenience store at yu, where i purchase honeycombs, cocoa puffs, and yes, dental floss, and also encounter the infamous jeremy gaisin, who unprompted offers to record me on his equipment whenever i feel like it and may even lend me his four track. how cool are my friends?

well i am just having a swell time, until it occurs to me, some five minutes before the shuttle leaves, that i really ought to get there. i reach for my phone to call my friend and discover that - yes- just like last week - I HAVE LEFT MY PHONE AT THE STATION.

i am brilliant, or i wouldn't be on the air.

the weather man - who knew he could run so fast? - instructs me to wait in the bus and starts tearing back to the station to get my phone, which is very nice of him, but i don't have time to thank him before he's gone. there is only room for one more on the shuttle, and the bus driver rolls his eyes at me as i beg him to wait for mikey to bring back my phone. someone else's phone rings very loudly, taunting me.

we wait for five minutes. no sign of mikey. 'let's go pick him up!' i plead. 'it's on the way!'

'ok,' says the bus driver, 'but if he's not there, i'm leaving you there. look. why don't you just call him and tell him you'll wait for the next shuttle?'

'i don't have my phone.'

'so use someone else's.'

'i don't know his number by heart.'

the whole bus cracks up.

'ouch,' says some french guy.

the driver agrees to take me to the stop. mikey is nowhere to be found. i wonder irritably why the guy whose phone won't stop ringing won't pick it up already, gather my grocery bags, and step onto the curb.

where, as the bus pulls away, i continue to hear the phone ringing.

because it's in my coat pocket.

i reach out one useless hand at the bus, already four blocks away at this point, seeing as how buses here generally travel maximum speed whenever they can, and turn helplessly back to yu.

'it's ok,' the weatherman says, trudging up behind me. 'it's not as stupid as it looks. you'll make the next one...just wait in the library.'

and so i am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

fair citizens of brookdale, let not midterms smite joy from your heart

so at a quarter to seven, i remembered i hadn't signed up for shabbas. since, as we just discussed, i like food, i rushed for the elevator, only to discover a huge OUT OF ORDER sign on it. so i dashed down eighteen flights of stairs and flung myself out the door, darting through all the basketball people (Why not?) assembled in the lobby, into

you guessed it!


so mad dash to the caf to sign up before seven, to save myself five bucks, and then, back outside, where it is raining EVEN HARDER THAN BEFORE! and now i feel like a video game, like a pac man or something, trying to navigate between all the umbrella-blinded people.

get back to the dorm, dripping wet, to find that one elevator is working, but it has just hit capacity and there is a waiting line. so i am about to embark, wet and slipper-footed, on my eighteen flight journey back to my room, when it just hits me:

the stairs are a GREAT place for the tap dance routine to 'Singin in the Rain!'

and you know what? IT'S TRUE!

so i'm marching up the steps and singing gene kelly style, but sadly, the other people on the stairwell merely look at me as if i just televisioned in from planet kindergarten. hello, fair citizens of brookdale! have you never seen singing in the rain? well, take heart. next showing, i'm doing my fair lady- same bat time, same bat place!

thank you, marketing division of the cybernetics corporation

i think it's too late for me. i have become a Books On Tape person.

somewhere my mom is spitting out her coffee (or salad).

it started like this. this comedian, joel chasnoff, came to yu, and my ex-roomie bought his cd. without thinking, i popped it into my computer, and had it on in the background while i worked on my articles. and my computer proceeded to talk to me.

and i loved it!

it wasn't something that i'd sit down and listen to exclusively, as i long to read a decent book. but i just loved spacing in after i finished a paragraph and overhearing some conversation between two egyptian special correspondants covering a rash of plagues.

me (staring vaguely at screen): therefore the...aish madison would like to thank...a nice...philanthropist...and...

joel chasnoff (pepfully): and for those of you taking the nile express home, traffic reports indicate that there is still some blood content left over from last week's plague, so you may want to take the alternate route via the Hittites!

i just love it. i can be as sullen and exhausted as i want, and the guys on the cd will still ramble on enthusiastically to each other about complete and utter nonsense. i realize that doesn't make the best case for it, but it's as close as i can come to explaining why i am so suddenly hooked. the truth is, i'm not sure myself. it could be because when i'm in my room, it's usually empty, and i just like the sound of the people.

either way. i've started to imagine fiction playing through these tinny speakers - whole little melodramas- and sadly, it genuinely thrills me. just imagine. i'll be trying to type an essay, and all of a sudden, some cue in a woman's voice or a word used to describe some scene in the story will catch my attention and make me think about everything definitely. i love it when little things catch my eye. it makes me feel like life's a box of froot loops: a little bit of blueberry, a little banana, a little lime, a little grape, a little cherry, a little bland-sugar-starch-with-food-coloring mixed in....

G-d, i love food.

oh and another thing i love (!) is job researching. it quite frightens me. i have been working with the career services woman here in writing up my resume and getting a job, but i absolutely love trolling the internships and reading the descriptions and thinking: HA! i could do that! HA! that one could be mine!

like having an internship is going to make me a real adult. i wonder if you can be a real adult and appreciate froot loops at the same time.

well anyway. back to my cover-letter writing. let the fun begin!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

sunday sunday sunday

how long is the difference between 'going with the flow' and 'losing to the current'?

anyway, today was another one of those days where i got thrown a lot of curveballs. see, there's a metaphor that doesn't even involve water, that's gotta be worth something.

so i guess to preface, you have to understand why i so badly wanted a distraction. i won't go into all the bloody details, but i doubt i'll have to for you to understand, either. in my first few months here, i met someone whose company i really enjoyed, and i got to like them a little too much. i think they must have picked up on this, because in the past week or so they've begun to treat me as though they barely remembered my we'd met once or twice. this not being the case, it threw me off balance - badly - to suddenly realize that that's all i ever was to them. you know how it is. it was never my idea to like them in the first place, but after all this time, to understand that - it hurt. and i'll get over it just fine, but for the moment, i thought the easiest thing to do was take a break. so i went back to queens for shabbos, and on sunday i planned to sit in on my first debate (a friend of mine had really hyped it to me, it sounded useful) and then catch a movie with a good friend of mine (my radio co-host) afterwards. and neither of these things would in any way cause me to think of the person that everything had gotten so awkward with.

i had it all planned out.

obstacle number one. i get to stern, us girls - there are five of us - pile into a cab to go to yu, where the bus will pick us up. my friend who'd hyped it to me, and to tell you the truth, for whom i was going, is conspicuously absent. 'oh yeah,' i'm told, 'she's in toronto.'

the girl who seems to know the most about it is a girl from my english class who has never had much to do with me.

oh well.

i pull out my knitting.

obstacle number two. the selfsame person who i have been trying to forget and who explicitly told me they weren't going to the debate hops on the bus. my whole face turns bright red with shame. i don't say much, which is ok; they seem to be much better friends with everyone else on the bus anyway. go figure.

i turn to the window.

ok, i think. so this is how it's going to be. ok.

bring it on.

i knit.

obstacle number three. after two hours, we finally arrive at the debate location in munsey, late and short a few. the debate team rules, as my friend explained them to me, are that you have to observe one debate before you can debate yourself; this makes perfect sense, because there's a lot of form and tactic you have to pick up before you're ready to give it a go. i attended this session with purely observational intent. i brought my archeology study guide and my knitting to do between intervals and figured i'd have a little ball.

but there aren't enough judges, or something like that, and they need the observers to volunteer to debate, to even out the numbers.

my fellow observers and i exchange a look. none of us- besides for one girl who debated in high school - has ever been to one of these sessions before. we have no clue what we're talking about.

i put down my knitting.

ok, i say. i'll do it.

hey, why not?

boy, have i got an answer to that one. debating is really not the same as the more garden-variety competitions. there is a certain amount of stress involved.

still, i didn't come here not to try.

and my first debate will be against - of course - the person i was just trying not to think about for awhile.

this shouldn't happen, i think to myself, when i see the numbers go up. i came here to get away from my problems and now i've got to go and debate them. and look like a fool in the process.

like i haven't done that already.

but i don't want to forget my lessons so easily. roll with the punches- G-d will take care of it. so i could get frightened, but i try not to instead. i look back at the numbers, and back at my friend, and i think: ok, G-d. play ball.

so i take the first debate and i look like a fool. i have no idea what i'm doing and i stammer and i repeat things i know are illogical. and my opponent is very good - later winning first prize - and i try to think of him as an argument and not someone i know and don't always succeed. but i learn something, and even though i lose that debate, i do better in the next one. and the next one. i never win, but my points go up, and my confidence goes up. and i start to understand how to stand your ground when people are shooting you down.

i think it's worth noting that the final round, between the two top scoring debaters- both from yu- got to deal with the extremely interesting question of whether an 'intersexual' baby - born as a guy/girl - should have a sex change operation as a baby or an adult when they can pick their own identity. there were some extremely technical details in the proposal that left half the room snickering most of the time. even i, in all my state of nerves, was pretty amused - and it was interesting to watch two people who actually were pretty good compete. it's like having two editorials in the paper talk back to each other. i wanted a danish.

and the bus ride back was another moment of fun. by then it was dark, and everyone seemed to be asleep, except for the girl from my english class, and the person i had grown awkward with. they spent the whole time talking. i spent the whole time looking out the window and thinking: this is how it is now, this is how it's going to be, and there's nothing really bad about it at all; it's just different. i have other friends, and this is just one of them. and that's how it is. that's how it is.

but for all that, i was bummed when i got back to yu. it's just not as easy to get over things as logically it ought to be.

but the obstacles of the night are pretty much over. my friend the radio-show cohost comes out and solemnly informs me that we have missed all the good movies, so we will be stuck watching the zorro movie. why? because he likes z's. thus ensues a lengthy debate about the woeful state of hollywood and a trip to baskin robbins where he narrowly remembers he is still fleishig. the end result is that our confused meandering minds land us in the middle of 'chicken little', drinking coconut-decaf-iced-coffee and some kind of strawberry slushy. aside from the parts lifted directly from war of the worlds (oh, space aliens coming and invading from the sky while the townspeople run in terror), it is not that bad either. not bad at all.

there is one scene where chicken little's friend tells him that he just needs to talk to his dad, say what he has to say, and achieve 'closure.' the radio co-host arches his eyebrows at me several times, and when that has no effect, clears his throat loudly a few times. but he is not a reliable judge of character. he ignores the entire plot of the movie in favor of relishing obscure animated details that nobody but an animation-major would notice.

but it's fun. the co-host is easy-going and frankly a relief to deal with. we talk a little bit about his girlfriend coming up for shwarma next week. we talk a little bit about nothing at all. we talk a little bit about my unjustified blahness and a lot about the last round of the debate. we do not talk about midterms or my archeology final. we try to crack into my voicemail and are utterly defeated.

after he goes back to yu, i get a phone call from the infamous jeremy gaison's guitar player, who still insists on calling me carol. he is attempting to hook me up with a publisher and wants to meet me for coffee tomorrow night to discuss my book. i tell him i'll meet him, but after i hang up, a wistful thought floats through my mind.

if only you weren't a guy.

i got class in seven hours. and clearly i've got no idea what life's going to throw at me next, so i'll take my sleep where i can get it. goodnight.

and now back to you, G-d

i learned an Important Lesson this week: i gave up.

i don't know exactly when the idea first occurred to me. it might have been thursday night at around, oh, six fifty-seven, when i was sitting entirely still on the fdr. my first radio show was scheduled to air in about three minutes. and i looked out the shuttle window, and i figured that, if we developed sudden severe k'fitsas haderech and entire buses leaped out of our path, i could probably get to yu before seven-thirty.

or it could have been friday morning, at about four am, when i relearned a middle school no-brainer: sometimes, people don't like you as much as you like them. you'd be surprised how much these things everyone tells you for years hurt when you finally understand them. it's nobody's fault; it's just the way it is.

or it could have been friday afternoon- veteran's day, for those of you who are living in your own midterm-structured world! -standing in the elevator with three bags of laundry, twenty other girls and eighteen illuminated floor buttons, as it slowly dawned on me that the buses were running on a holiday schedule, and i had three minutes to make my bus to queens, and it was going to take pretty well near three hours because traffic on sixth avenue was not going to move.

and i had two hours until shabbos started.

to be honest, i think that was it. i was trying to carry my heavy bags six blocks in negative two minutes, and i came very close to crying. i'm not going to make my bus, my brain screamed. there isn't going to be another one for another two hours. i'm not going to get to queens for shabbos, i didn't pay for this week's shabbaton, i'm not ready for shabbos, i don't want to stay here, what am i going to do, what am i going to do, what am i going to do?

the answer occurred to me as i dropped my bags by the sixth avenue bus stop.


i stood there with my three bags, put some quiet music on my cd player, and leaned back against the pole. i thought exactly one thing: G-d will take care of it. and then my brain just clicked itself off.

somehow, my bus showed up before three.

somehow, even though i had forgotten that the bus did not take dollar bills, and i did not have five dollars of quarters, a man swiped his metro card for me instead. and when i tried to give him my money, he wouldn't take it, and he told me to go sit down.

somehow, i ended up in queens before shabbos. and i got all my stuff to my grandma's house. and it was so wonderfully, blessedly quiet there, i actually heard a bird sing when i was getting changed for shabbos.

and somehow- and i think this is the greatest kindness i have ever recieved - i was in bed by six o' clock that night, and i slept until ten the next day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the promised cab driver story

it must have been about dusk sunday night when i struggled up to the curb. my plane out of milwaukee had a few small but confusing delays, and i had three huge suitcases, two carryons and a purse. i was wearing an old sweatshirt and circles under my eyes. i guess i looked uncommon enough experience for me.

maybe that is why i did not blink when the taxi driver looked me up and down and shook his head before he loaded my suitcases into the cab.

as i closed the door, he said over his shoulder: "no, no need to tell me where you want to go. you are student. you are going to university."

"ah...yes," i said. "midtown manhattan."

"you are going to the film school," he said approvingly. "you are going to bigshot school."

"well, kinda..." the guy's wearing a turban; think i'll leave the 'yeshiva' part out of it. "my dorm's on madison and--"

"oh, you go to jewish university!"

at this point i began to wonder if we would ever leave la guardia.


"i thought so. i look at that girl and i say oh no, it is one of those girls. one of those students. good girls, but not businesswomen. you must become businesswomen.'



"alright already, i go! sheesh! have patience! listen, you are already going to new york for many months, right? no, you no have to tell me. i see it in your face. you are young girl. is very nice, but you must have sense. must have sense! i know what you are thinking. all you young girls think same thing. you think, oh, new york, is great city for dancing. yes?"


He slams the steering wheel impatiently with both hands. "NO DANCING! if you want to succeed, no boys and no dancing! i see all people in my cab, all sad young girls, and they not study, only they go out to dance. then what happens, what happens, you tell me--i know! i see it! then they think oh, i want to become businesswoman and become million dollar woman, but can they? no. no, they cannot! because they not study enough. and i say, why you not study? why if you want to graduate and become business woman, and make million dollar, NAME YOUR OWN DOLLAR, why they not study? and they say 'oh, a boy is nice to me.' now look at me. are you looking at me?'

'well, i'm actually looking at the highway. i think--look over there, does that look kind of like an accident to you?--'

'look at cab driver. boys is not nice. boys is wickedest things in the world. wicked, wicked creatures. believe nothing they say to you. now you, you are nice girl, you can become great business woman in the world! what you need with boys? NOTHING. you need only to graduate and become rich and number one woman in the world. then you can be making all the money, you TELL the boys what to do. that is the strength of women in america! you not silly girl who know nothing. you can be most powerful and rich! just listen to wise cab driver who know everything. ok, you no have father, you father, maybe you are cooking for him, cleaning for him, whatever, at home, and he is looking out for you. now you are in new york, that is not so.'


'Beep beep to you too! these people, so impatient all of them! they not see i am making a point? look. listen to me. you no have father, i will be your father.'

in my head a little voice goes: ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!

'look at me.'

He stops in the middle of the highway. he just stops. admittedly, the traffic is not moving very fast, but it is moving.

i look at him, nodding desperately, motioning to the wheel.

'boys,' he says, pausing for a minute to reflect on this, as the cars try to make their way around us, 'boys want to hurt you only.'


'Ok! ok! there is time, sir, time!' he makes minimal adjustments to the steering wheel without looking. 'i have three daughters. three of them. listen to the wisdom of your father: i say to you that boys will hurt you only. so i tell you what you say to them. you say, thank you, is very nice, but you not be nice back. you say i am great business woman, i am studying in university, i have no time for you. i must make a million dollars and graduate. no dancing, no marrying. no marrying! look at me--"

"do you know where my dorm is?"

"look at me! no marrying! only when you are great business woman--then if you want to, ok! ok? you understand me? you understand? yes? good. ok! now, you are from where? milwaukee? how you like football game?"