Saturday, January 07, 2006

the year in review

alright, folks. in the fashion of all good presidential hopefuls (if you don't know what i'm talking about, snag the nearest college newsletter and you'll understand), i have decided to take a few moments to reflect on the past semester. that's right. two more finals and i am home at last. back to the winterland. and these days, as i am dragging myself off of my mattress on the floor and brushing my teeth in my neighbor's kitchen, i find myself wondering how i'll respond to the inevitable question:

was it worth it?

i went to college at 16. i left an environment where i was fairly stable, pretty secure, and genuinely happy. everybody in my hometown was my friend, and everybody in my family was very close to me. guys crossed the street to avoid me, and digital watches still seemed like a pretty neat idea (qed).

i missed senior year. yearbook and all the seminary applications.

and i feel about fifteen years older than i felt when i came here with my mother at the end of august, and she took notes for me on a little pad of paper.

but i think that when my friends ask me: was it worth it? i will have to say yes. i will have to yes because i now know a lot of things.

i present them to you, in list form.

Things That I Learned Over Fall Semester

1. it's a lot harder to be frum in new york than it is in milwaukee.

what? you are thinking. but new york has pizza, shabbos doors, a mechitza on the monsey bus! (oh, the things that bus does). in new york you never have to bake a day in your life. there's always a minyan going on someplace. there's always--

in new york there's always everything. there's a halachically-sanctioned point of view for every type of sketchiness you can think of. there's a hechsher on stuff that is assur d'oreisa. you want to make out with people? there's a couple guys hanging around the lobby who aren't too discriminating. you want to get falling down drunk? there's a bar every two blocks. there's hookah in the village and drugs pretty much everywhere uptown. that's to be expected in a city this big.

but that's not what gets you, really. anybody can turn down a shady chainsmoker with a five o'clock shadow and a leather jacket. the difficult part is when they look and act exactly like you.

and it's amazing, because they do.

they daven three times a day, they wear all the right hems and necklines, they know the intricacies of hilchas shabbos and they can quote chazal. and on saturday night, they are off to the hookah bar. it is the most normal thing in the world.

and you can object, and they'll look at you like you're crazy. what's the big deal? it's not like they're doing drugs or anything. it's just hookah! and drinking? everybody in the jewish community drinks! sheesh! what do you call purim, for crying out loud? and all the old russian guys in the shteeble who give you vodka?

i feel like i'm being unfair. there are plenty of people here who don't drink, probably the majority. but that isn't the point. the point is that there are plenty who do, and sometimes, they are not who you expect them to be.

and it's so hard, when you're standing there, blushing furiously, trying to explain to them exactly why it is wrong. where in the Torah does it say you can't do hookah? where in the Torah does it say you can't drink? no, of course it doesn't. so what's your problem, ms. high-and-mighty? why are you so prissy?

and the answer is that where you come from, where your parents brought you up and all your friends gave you an idea of what normal was, nobody thought of drinking. the concept was contrary to everything you learned in school and every value your community imparted in you. it seemed so stupid and pointless and crude, and for all the areas where 'being a bas yisroel' seemed like hard work, that one was just common sense. no, 'bas yisroel's don't get smashed after school. if you'd suggested it to your class, they would have laughed.

but not every class was like your class, not every community was like your community. and in new york, nothing says you can't be frum and party college style. so long as you got your kipa on, man.

then there are the less serious, often debated, and occasionally wacky topics in halacha. a personal favorite is kol isha. you may have heard of it. the halacha's been interpreted many, many ways, but in its most basic form, it boils down to this: a girl can't sing in front of guys. why? because her singing might bring them to have unclean thoughts, and the person who causes a sin is held responsible for it.

now THERE'S a fun definition for you. 'but your voice doesn't turn me on! honestly it doesn't!' 'well then how come you're allowed to TALK to me? huh? HUH? how come my SISTER'S allowed to talk to me?' and of course, the ever-popular My Rabbi Holds That Microphones Are OK.

no, seriously. i am not trying to insult the reform, the conservative et al. this is one place in which other forms of judiasm inherently differ, and i am too inexperienced and unknowledgable to tackle a heady religious debate. but lately i've been practicing with an all girl band, and kol isha is not just some quaint notion to me. it surprises me how many people here are educated enough to know better who shrug it off. it's inconvenient; it gets in the way of too much. don't you want our band to be serious? how can our band get anywhere if we can't play for guys? we can't get any gigs that way. ok, so you don't have to sing. but if we don't care, what's to stop us from singing? it's their sin anyway! if they get turned on by us singing, that's their problem! they're creeps! kol isha has been seriously exaggerated. the rabayim didn't mean it that way. it's not d'oreisa. recordings are ok. microphones are ok. live performances are ok. you don't even know why you're doing it. if you knew the real halachos behind all of the beis yaakov hype you would see that there's really no issur.

no, maybe i don't understand the halachic basis for why i do it. but one thing i have learned from college is that i am doing it. it's hard, i'm afraid that it may cost me a few friends, and i don't know what i'll do when the band actually finds a co-ed gig they want to play. will i play guitar and not sing and still think i'm fine? will i opt out for that gig? will i opt out entirely? should i do it now, and save myself the trouble? but they're practicing a song that i wrote!

the truth is, i don't know. but if i cede one battle to convenience, there goes the neighborhood.

i guess the last topic i'll take up in the whole fight-for-frumkeit war is shomer negiah. or maybe not even that specific. guys in general.

i have to admit that when i was in high school, as you can actually see if you look at some of my older posts, guys were not a blip on my radar. i did not think it possible to be 'friends' with guys, and the few girls i knew who WERE friends with them seemed to be doing it more as a form of rebellion or coolness than anything else. whatever, it held no appeal for me. the guys in my community were too frum to walk on the same side of the street on me or the opposite extreme, and i thought all guys were like that. you can imagine how alarmed i was when teachers talked to us about marriage. i just figured i'd be one of those spinsters who writes children's books and neatly avoid the whole unhappy scene.

no one ever talked to us about shomer negiah. i guess they thought we would have laughed if they'd told us not to touch boys we couldn't have found if we wanted to, anyway.

and i was a little bit naive about the whole stern/yu scene. yeah, i didn't really comprehend that they were part of the same school. my mother warned me about guys, but i figured she just meant that there were so many jews in new york i was bound to run into a few of them somewhere. or that there would be girls in stern dating and i might meet their boyfriends. like i said, i was a lot younger than i thought.

well, i've since discovered that while there are guys here who won't walk on the same side of the street as you, there are plenty more who will, and they aren't all sleazebags. some of them are really pretty decent. they put on funny accents, makes faces with their food, and ride the chessed bus. they admire cool buildings and they work hard to make shabbos special. they're not sure about a lot of things, they get anxious about their finals. in short, they are just normal people, and some of them make good friends. a lot of you are probably surprised that i make this statement so cautiously, but this is an area where every line is blurred to me. i know i could not go back and tell my whole high school class that i have friends who are guys. does that make it wrong? i'm not sure.

this should be a number - what i've learned about guys - but to heck with it.

on the one hand, i've learned how to talk to them as though they are normal people and not the boogey man. you know, say what you will for tzneous, but everybody's gotta grow up sometime, and the real world really does not lend itself to mumbling and panic attacks and crossing streets every time you have to deal with guys. yes, you have to deal with guys. even jewish ones. eventually - get this - you will probably have to date one. can you imagine? yes. imagine going on a nice little shidduch and sitting down across the table from a type of human being with whom you have never had any type of interaction before and trying to make conversation. i'm sure people have done it before, but i don't envy them. this semester's taught me, for the most part, how to talk to guys as if they are members of the same species. i think they deserve that much.

it's also taught me about different types of guys. there are some stinkbombs who seem perfectly innocent until you've known them for a few weeks, but at least i can now recognize the blatantly obnoxious right off the bat. i used to be so ashamed of myself when i was in high school; i wasn't as thin or as pretty as the other girls, i wasn't as funny or as smart as them, i wasn't as considerate or interesting. i thought no guy would ever want somebody like me. if any had told me i was pretty, i would have been so astonished and grateful that they considered me worth sweet-talking i wouldn't have cared who they were. i see that happening to a lot of girls here, and it always makes me shiver. it could so easily have been me.

but by the time i started college i wasn't quite that pathetic. my parents and my friends all let me know in little ways that i meant a lot to them, and they were the people that were worth meaning a lot to, and they were there for me whether i was pretty or not, and i knew it. so if i was good enough for them, as i said, whether or not guys noticed me didn't matter. hey, i did fine without them my entire life, and as i started to meet people here, i began to realize that it was their job to impress me, not the other way around. the guys i am friends with here are friends with me because we've got the same sense of humor and we all want to grow into decent jews. these are the same reasons i am friends with girls. i value their support, their company, and the occasional advice.

i won't deny, though, that it can sometimes be very strange being friends with guys. it is not like being friends with girls. with girls you're usually safe. with guys...some days you don't know where you stand. i have been guilty of reading too much into certain things and too little into others. the rules are vague. i would say that especially with the orthodox crowd, this is a problem that should be addressed, but now that i think about it i realize how stupid that sounds. it's really just the whole mars vs. venus thing, de-holly-wood-ized and boiled down to real life.

i could go on and on and on about this. and have. to pretty much anyone who will listen (hmm...my mom, my neighbor. a wide and varied crowd, to be sure). i really want to get into the alarming state of misinformation re shomer negiah-- a lot of religious people i've met here seem to think it's more of an old fashioned chumra, or like cholov yisroel, than a halacha. there's them's that do and them's that don't. i highly advise steering clear of the them's that don't, especially guys (and girls) that know better. but since i honestly learned more at college than guys, let's...let's progress, shall we? let's cover some new material before winter break!

nah. i wonder how many of you have stuck around this long. i'll try and be short for the rest of them.

i've learned that i can survive away from my family. i don't even envy the queenicans and brooklyners who can go home every weekend or every night. you know why? all my life, i've always been a stay-at-home. my best friends could invite me out for shabbos and i wouldn't go. until this year, i've been hesitant to approach anything different or new or uncomfortable. as long as i had the option of chickening out and sticking with what i knew, i'd have never staid for shabbos here. in fact, i probably wouldn't have gone to a lot of the activities, either.

and i would have been missing out. i wouldn't have met a lot of my friends. i wouldn't have been a part of those crazy, rambling three-am games of charades. i would never have learned how to enjoy what life throws at me and just see where it takes me. even a little bit.

that's a big part of college. that's really why i think it is all it's cracked up to be.

it confronts you with situations you couldn't make up in a bad dream. it forces you to interact on a daily basis with more people than your home state's population. it asks you a lot of questions: who you are, what makes you who you are, who you want to be and what's going to get you there.

who are your friends and how do you know.

what's really important and what's just a sad misconception.

i think that i have learned a lot from the past few months. maybe more about people and life than all my past sixteen years combined. (which reminds me, i wanted to talk about the age gap...eh, maybe tuesday). i think every term will be like this: a lifetime's worth of lessons packed into a few measly months.

and i think that's good, too.

in conclusion, as i wrap up my prestigious and official Year in Review, i am glad that i decided to go off to college when i did. i am glad to know what i now know. in light of thursday's final, perhaps more of it should have pertained to archeology, but all in all i feel the trade-off was worth it.

oh, and one last nugget of information, which i fear will strike a heavy blow to smirky yeshiva-elementary kids everywhere: pittsburgh also says 'orange' instead of 'ahhh-range.'

31 Comments:

Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Wow.

This was definitely a much better use of my money than that new car I've had my eye on...

8:44 PM  
Blogger Safranit said...

Wow squared! I want to comment, but as a BT from the country (a small town with no Jews) there isn't much to say. You have validated some things I thought about "not dealing with boys" and on the other hand I don't know how you would get to know boys otherwise..

May you continue to learn just as much in the coming years and may the heartbreaks be small...

Robin

12:40 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I know exactly how you feel (well, as close as i imagine) about drugs/smoking and drinking. When i got to college i was shocked that otherwise fine upstanding "nice jewish boys and girls" thought it was fun to imbibe mind-altering substances and stumble around smoky rooms smelly and self-control-less. And then the drunkenness on Simhhas Torah? I practically had a nervous breakdown i was so freaked out. I had never heard of people drinking recreationally on any holiday other than Purim, much less getting piss-drunk with a Torah only a few feet away.

Of course, by now i have a friend or two who have been known to do even more ill-advised things. But they know that i want no part of it. In my experience, as long as you're not being preachy at them (i.e. giving "tochacha that won't be accepted") people understand it if you don't want to drink, smoke, etc. Of course sometimes with people whose values are so different than your own you might want to make a cost-benefit analysis (God i sound like an accountant «shudder») as to how much it's actually worth it to hang out with them under those circumstances.

About qol isha — don't forget that legitimate disagreements in halakha do exist. You can do research on them to see which opinions you feel are legitimate or not, but like with drinking/smoking, telling people they're brazen sinning heretics generally is not the way to go. If you talk only about yourself, and what you believe and how you hold and how it's very important to you, they're much likely to take your [halakha-derived] feelings into account.

And congratulations on discovering that us male members of the species are people too :-P

7:11 AM  
Blogger fudge said...

i know, i know...better late than never.

oh, i hope this post didn't come out too preachy...i don't mean to lambast other religious views. but it does bother me when people smart enough to know better - or who were raised with certain expectations and beliefs - don't act on them simply because they don't feel like it. and then expect me either to be impressed by it, to think it's cool, or to go along with it. and act like i'm the one inconveniencing everyone else needlessly if i don't.

7:55 AM  
Blogger 30cal said...

I knew you'd come around to liking it there.
Also, I find 'treating guys like human beings' to be highly commendable, because in-depth studies have revealed that I am both.

4:55 PM  
Blogger tuesdaywishes said...

In the words of L.M. Montgomery:

"What you are saying is that, if you have enough natural gumption, college can teach you in four years what would otherwise take about twenty years of just plain living. Well, that jusifies higher education, in my opinion."

6:21 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

1. it's a lot harder to be frum in new york than it is in milwaukee.

Amen. Of course, there's nothing to do in Milwaukee except go to Chicago. And there's nothing to do there, either.

a mechitza on the monsey bus! (oh, the things that bus does).

Heh. Like the minyanim, miraculous turns in heavy midtown traffic that doesn't kill people, and chassidim sticking their tushes into the faces of all the women on the bus.

but that's not what gets you, really. anybody can turn down a shady chainsmoker with a five o'clock shadow and a leather jacket. the difficult part is when they look and act exactly like you.

Brings back a discussion we had in 12th grade, "Why not YU?" Though your other points are the response - basically, it depends on the person.

Great post, glad you're getting something out of it. And you still have an open invite.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Ayelet said...

I didn't even finish reading the post yet - I'm up to the kol isha part - but I keep talking to you (i.e. my screen that is displaying your blog) and I felt you might as well hear what I'm saying to you. You are awesome. You are so wonderfully yiddish that I actually have tears in my eyes right now wishing I had my head screwed on as straight as you do. And I'm 27! I shudder to think where my 16-year-old self would have been had it been in the sitches you're describing. You are an outstanding example of a bat yisrael. When they roll their eyes and call you prissy, know that none of them can hold a candle to you. And (this is for certain) they can't write nearly as well as you can.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Balabusta said...

Well-

First of all to Fudge, well done. Mission accomplished, you may now level up (that's how they talk on Playstation).

To the other out there (you all know who you are), this is proof that although you try to "talk" to them and warn them, they still have to figure it out for themselves, although sometimes, thee do remember what you said, even if it didn't seem important at the time.

Lastly to YU/Stern, which, in spite of itself, delivers an educational experience on more levels than the entire Brookdale hall. It's not like the guy in the leather jacket and stubble was paid to be there, but he teaches a lesson somewhat more tangible than archeology.

Rock Rock on.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Hey, waitasec.... what's wrong with leather jackets?!

4:17 PM  
Blogger fudge said...

ezzie: awesome. sometime soon, you will be on.

30: i would make some smarmy casting aspersions on your humanity here, but the fact is you were going to buy me a birthday present, and i will never forget that.

ayelet: i don't think i'm all of those just yet, but thanks for the encouragement. let's just hope i can keep up with it (;

mom: can i have my room back now?

4:31 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

First, you have to get Iguana to move out of your bed.

Next, you need to convince The PT that you don't have to go to sleep when she does.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"i missed senior year. yearbook and all the seminary applications."

Thanks for the clarification. I must admit that I was wondering just how young the kids in Wisconsin are when they start school.

Coming as I do from a family of late bloomers, I sometimes have to remind myself that you’re only 16. May you continue to grow and to go from strength to strength.

“i am too inexperienced and unknowledgable to tackle a heady religious debate."

I don't know about that "unknowledgeable" part. You've done a pretty good job of tackling "a heady religious debate" in the past. I saved that last e-mail exchange of ours. It was well worth saving--you're a very articulate writer.

And speaking of your skill as a writer, I'm looking forward to reading your first book.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Doctor Bean said...

I am in awe.

I want my kids to grow up just like you but with hard tafs.

Re: being friends with boys. No wisdom on this topic has been recorded that is truer than "When Harry Met Sally". Harry was right when he said men and women can't be friends. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have male friends, but it does mean that you should know that (at least for them) there is always sexual tension in the friendship. I put it in bold because I expect a young lady of 16 may doubt this, so verify this by asking men who would never ever ever lie to you. Like your dad. In every single friendship I had with a girl in college, there was at least some sexual tension. I didn't act on it, but it wasn't like a friendship with a guy. Hear me know; believe me later.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Doctor Bean said...

That was supposed to be "hear me now; believe me later."

9:48 AM  
Blogger 30cal said...

wow. so by me, the thought counts. that's good to know, because i don't always go beyond that. right now im looking into chocolates. who knows? i might get you a birthday present yet.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Balabusta said...

So because Dr. Bean lives in California not only does he get some sunshine, but he also gets to impersonate Ahnold.

Shiny.

9:04 AM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Mrs B: My days of underestimating your ability to use obscure TV quotes are coming to a middle.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Shiny. Love it.

This is the greatest post I ever skimmed. Sorry. I don't have the time today, but might have to come back later and re-read...

Best of luck with the JIBs, as long as it doesn't interfere with my votes.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Chaikers said...

OMG! Rele! I am so incredibly proud of you. You don't understand how much I like you. You're seriously one of the most amazing and inspirational people. It's scary thinking that you contain all this good sense and knowledge at the age that you are, when some people NEVER get it! It's absolutely remarkable. Know how much you mean to everyone--and i know I'm not everyone--but i bet i can safely vouch for them. You're incredible. MWAH! i luv ya'.

10:13 PM  
Blogger dilbert said...

um Ezzie, there are things to do in Chicago. like... um..... eat at Ken's Diner, and ... um....see da Bears, and actually, lots of other cool stuff. So leave off the "cover of the New Yorker" view of the world.

Excellent post, your parents must be shepping boatloads of nachas. And, to agree with steg, there are many views on kol isha. You just have to find the one that you think is correct(and hopefully the correct one for you will be one that you can live with)

I have to type goy ufrg in order for my comments to be posted. Are you trying to tell me something? what does ufrg mean? I got the goy part

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Heh, Dilbert. :) You problaly didn't know, I like Milw., went to HS there, and hate NY. I was kidding around.

And that New Yorker is one of the funniest things in the world... my parents have a big poster of it to mock.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Tzipster91 said...

The prohibition against kol isha is in the Talmud, I think on the last few dapim of SotahII. Stand up for what you beleive in, it might come in handy. As this (too) cheerful poster on the wall of my school says, 'Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.' Yashar Koach!

4:52 PM  
Blogger becomewhatur said...

wow, what a post. read - and loved - every word.

i'm offering my $0.02 on the kol isha thing b/c i asked a shailah recently. (btw, i'm a chabadnikit and my posek is a VERY well known Rav.) so i asked my Rav a) what is the issur of kol isha really and b) is it mutar for me to record and publicize my recording - via internet, cd's etc. (i have no live-gig singing aspirations so my question was only re: recording).

this is what he said: 1st off - according to the strict letter of the law, ONLY a MARRIED woman's voice is "erva" (provocative/however you wanna define it) so for unmarried women, it's less of a prob. and he said, additionally, according to the dry letter of the law, a recorded voice is mutar, across the board. the issur is a) a married woman and b) live. he said when men are makpid not to listen to ANY woman's voice, in any form, he said this is a chumrah and "derech chasidut." he told me to go record, gezunterheit. i must say, i was pretty shocked when he told me that b/c i was NEVER taught that is any yeshiva i went to (high school, shana alef, bet, etc.)

anyway, you sound like an amazing person, so i bless you that the only way you should ever change is to go higher and higher on your spiritual ladder!

10:30 AM  
Blogger Ralphie said...

I guess this is why I share a blog with Bean - I was pretty much gonna say the same thing. Something along the lines of - when you're done in NY, could you please fly to LA and become a mentor for my daughters. If they grow up just like you, not only would I be proud and feel somewhat safe, but there's a slight chance I could pass them off as just two other kids in your family and get your father to pay for college. I was also going to quote When Harry Met Sally, but instead I'll go with Schwarznegger to validate your mother's California claim:

"First I'm going to use you as a human shield."

Not much relevance here but it's my favorite line.

Anyway, I'm sure the LA frum college scene would be the same as the NY one, if there were an LA frum college scene. I mean, there is, but it's in New York. Maybe it's a large community vs. small community phenomenon. I have no idea.

All I know is, I'm not letting my daughters anywhere near boys, even the nice ones. I know, because I was one of them (albeit not frum, but I still fooled the parents).

By the way, similar comments on my blog have elicited accusations of sexism - that is, protect the girls and not the boys. So in the hopes of innoculating myself against such charges, let me state that a.) if I had boys, I would do my best to teach them not to think of females as objectes, b.) let's face it, girls are the gender that needs protecting, and c.) I don't have boys (see a.).

1:49 PM  
Blogger Mirty said...

Yasher Ko'ach. You're doing great. Mazel Tov on completing your first semester in the big, bad NYC. I also skipped 12th grade and started college at 16, many years ago (when dinosaurs roamed the earth). You're handling it much better than I did.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Shifra said...

Wow, great post.

I also jumped from the modest mid-west to crazy NY in my teens.
I puked twice on my first day in the city, and they tell me I'm pretty well adjusted generally. It was a massive adjustment on all levels.

Sounds like you've learned a lot about life already. Knowing who you are and discovering who you want to be are two of the most important lessons a person can learn anytime sounds like you are on your way to great thing.

I've been on the east coast for 15 years now (OMG!) and I still say "orange" and "florida" like a normal person - so don't worry about that either.

1:56 PM  
Blogger YS said...

Two points:

-"if i cede one battle to convenience, there goes the neighborhood. "
As much as I'd like to disagree I won't. To me it was always described as a slippery slope (think basic physics class), once you start moving it's hard to stop. I've found that to be true.

On the flip side, you should be aware of levels of halacha. Know what is Torah mandated, what is Rabbinic, what is minhag, and what is hanhagah tovah (a recomended idea). These are not the same and while we may abide by them all it is still important to differentiate between them, even if only in your mind.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Ralphie said...

I coulda sworn that I learned that kol isha was negated when more than one voice was heard. But I can easily see how the spirit of the law would apply to an all-female band entertaining the troops, as it were.

Back to the topic of the opposite sex, I would strongly advise holding by the strictest interpretation of yichud you can come up with. Even the nicest-seeming guy might be capable of some bad stuff behind closed doors.

6:09 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Right, Ralphie. Like I think it's Yichud if there are boys on the same side of town.

4:06 PM  
Blogger parcequilfaut said...

Fudge, you rock.

I am not qualified to comment on the halachic issues you brought up, because some of them I've barely heard of. But I will say this: to be a person of faith, it is vital to have these conversations with yourself (should I? Can I...and remain true to what's important to me?) and I haven't seen many 16 year olds (17 now!!!) who were able to reason so well for themselves. I'm 25, and it took me three months to quit a job I realized relatively early on was keeping me from practicing parts of my religion which are quite basic; you try practicing nonviolence and compassion while trying to be a bill collector. I'm proud that I left it; I'm not proud that it took this long.

Keep learning, keep searching, and keep your head about you. (I won't get into hookah with you, because I love it, love it, love it...and know that, at least according to some interpretations, I shouldn't do it and be what I am. But I haven't figured that out for myself yet. You have. Go you.)

On the way to the women's retreat this weekend, we had quite a long talk about forms of modesty in dress and why two of the four women in the car have made a commitment to practice it. One is married and talked about how she needs that visceral reminder that she is, indeed, married -- and how, apparently conversely, there are people out there who try intensely to get her to uncover her hair. I talked about how, even though there is no absolute religious requirement for me to wear long skirts, I not only found it more comfortable than pants in general, but found that being covered made me more secure in a social environment where crotch-tight pants and halters are de rigeur. Add the head covering to that, which I do six days of seven for the most part, and I am more comfortable with myself, with socializing, etcetera, than when I felt myself in competition with people who took dress to a level that made me feel like I was walking out of the house half-naked. Pagan tznius...who knew??

You go, girl. That's all I've got to say for now.

8:52 AM  

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