Wednesday, May 31, 2006

yonina ettel, s-u-p-e-r genius

me: listen kid, you're a nutjob. no two ways about it.

yonina: um, you mean i'm smart?

me: of course, that's EXACTLY what i mean.

yonina: WHOA! you mean i can also READ YOUR MIND?

Thursday, May 25, 2006


upon putting my sisters to bed tonight, i was subject to this scinitillating exchange:

yonina: er you can kiss me goodnight if you want.

me: get out. really?

elana: yes. we love you.

yonina: i love you.

me: this has got to be a dream.

elana: look, perel, you may be new to our secret life of loving you, but without you around there's no one to act parental when mommy's out of the house.

yonina: well i love you because you have curly hair and i also have curly hair.

me: i see.

elana: well that's not a good reason to love people.

yonina: well i also love her because she can play shadows of the colussus with us.

me: ah hah.

yonina: also because she's really big.

me: let's quit while we're ahead here.

yonina: and you're nice!

year in review part ii

hey, it's me again. fudge. you know, the girl who's always shouting something unintelligble at you in the halls in the same tone as hotdog vendors at ball games while waving a blurry flyer-type paper in your general direction. i wonder if anyone else goes home from these events muttering to themselves like demented record players. "prooooograms! programs for graduation! i got your prooooograms right here!"

but to business.

well, it's the end of the year again. i love that about college. the year ends consistently at least once every four months. entire chapters of your life come to an end. i've thought about comparing the first half of freshman year to the second, but the thought of it just makes me laugh. these five months have changed me and become themselves so different from the august-december segment that it seems silly to think of them the same way.

i think the most noticeable difference, or at least, the one that compelled me to write, is a sudden, urgent feeling i had yesterday out at the riverwalk of not wanting to leave. i stood out there by myself, seeing the faces of all the people i've met this year, hearing all their voices in my head, remembering how i divide up my days and what i decide to do when. there's so much color in new york--so many opportunities. it has taken me a long time to realize just how much i love the power of actualizing my own plans--choosing for myself where i want to go for shabbos and what i want to do with my free hour and the different places i want to explore. and i can usually make it work. i also love adventuring with all the different quirky personalities around yu (and everyone here is a quirky personality.) I was thinking on the shuttle how odd and random the connections between me and each of my friends are, and their connections to each other. You could write books and books about all of them and all of their stories-- some funny, some ludicrous, some frightening and sad. I have lost friends this year; drifted away from some, fell out with others; but some have been through every kind of emotion and experience with me.

People have told me since I was little that you make your best friends in college, and now I begin to understand why this may be true. At least in smaller cities, there's a certain forced quality to your earlier friendships. It's like being friends with your siblings. Everyone you know has known you since before you were born or not far after, and you've been interacting with them since before you were toilet-trained. do you love them? sure. you probably think you know them as well, and vice versa. but at the end of the day you go home to your mommy and they go home to theirs, and your meeting grounds are strictly regulated to school hours and shabbos afternoons. fine sentiments all.

when you live with them, and both of you are far away from home, it's a little different. you don't know them: you don't know how they're going to react to a firedrill, a tragedy, a surprise birthday party. everything's new, and there are no mommies on your shoulders telling you how to navigate the situation. so you're forced to confer, to discuss, to analyze, or sometimes, just to go with things, and you do it together. in that way you grow; you feel more like your own person, someone equipped to deal with things and to get the most out of their stay on our little blue-green planet. furthermore, though, you grow with your friends. i think of it as tree roots that have grown over each other, got tangled together below the surface. for better or worse, a few of these people that you've met so haphazardly become major influences in your life, and in a lot of ways you become rooted to them i think.

and then there are the people or happenings that seemed so crucial at the time -- that you couldn't imagine your life without -- and come graduation, you see their face in the crowd and think, oh, so-and-so...i wonder what happened to them? That's how life is too. I used to wish that I had a sensor, some kind of distinguishing system between the transitory and permanent factors in life...but now I'm beginning to think that's exactly what these years are for. They're to teach you all the signs of people and things that will be there for you forever and the ones that will fade at the end of the movie, the summer.

another thing that is strange to think about, to me, is how unhappy i was the first few weeks here. do you remember? everything was horrible. the people were cold, the rooms were uncomfortable, new york was ugly, etc etc etc. all i wanted was to go home--and do what? there was a time when i couldn't comprehend leaving my parents or my family, when i didn't understand how anyone could. i was convinced that nowhere could evr be home without my family, and i'm starting to see that this is because my ties to my family were so strong that it took me almost an entire year to realize that i can define myself outside of my family, that i am something more than the child and sibling of so-and-so.

that's probably the most selfish and most enjoyable aspect of this year: being myself and literally no one else for anyone else. i loved it. i loved learning about myself and finding my limitations. i mess up a lot, i think everyone does, but ultimately this has been a wonderful, enriching and empowering experience, and as much as i love my family, i no longer want to stop. i want to keep growing and evolving and trying everything. it's exciting to think about.

there are two things that strike me about that feeling: a) it's childish and naive b) it's probably a surplus of post-finals energy, and i won't feel this way next year when i'm pinned under the weight of seven other finals.

but the point, i think, remains. many people were worried that sending me here would be a mistake for me -- and i can't lie, there have been a few close calls. still, looking back, i feel like this year has been the most interesting and miraculous thing that has ever happened to me. i prayed to get into this place, and it seems i wasn't granted entry without a reason. to live only for this year may have been worth it.

i was listening to the graduates today. they all start the same way. 'thank you, mommy and abba.' 'thank you, ima and tatti.'

you know something? they are not wrong.

if my parents hadn't believed in me enough to send me here, to pay for me to be here, to listen and advise me even when i was completely incoherent, i would be a very different, smaller-minded, and definitely blander person than i am today. you have given me a whole year so far to develop into someone knowledgable. i'm not there yet, but i'm loving every minute of the process.

thank you.

thank you very much.

proooooooograms, anyone?