Monday, September 27, 2010

Pushy, pushy

Raise your hand if you've ever gotten a phone call from a tzedakah.

[waiting...ok, all the hands are up, as I suspected]

Okay, now raise your hand if you didn't have money to give at the time (or at the very least, had other places to give to which could use the money just as much, if not more).

[waiting...yeah, that's what I thought]

Is it just me, or do the people making these phone calls not know how to take "no" for an answer?! Honestly, they're worse than the Children's International stalkers on the streets of New York. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, you can say to one of these callers to make them understand that you are, in fact, not committing to "just a small $18 pledge today" (or a "small" $36 pledge, $100 pledge, etc).

Recently, I received a follow-up call from an organization which called me a couple of months ago. I told them at the time that I did not feel comfortable making a pledge for what I thought was a reasonable and valid reason, but the caller said, "Well, can we just send you an envelope?" So I told her she could, but that I wasn't making any sort of official pledge. "Well, I'll just put you down for $18."

[click]

Now they call back wanting to know where that $18 is! The reason I gave still holds, and I tried to explain it yet again to the recent caller, who still would not take "no" for an answer.

I know that tzedakahs are all strapped for cash right now. I know that many people who used to underwrite entire programs and make very generous donations are no longer able to do so, and that they are trying to make up for in volume what they lost in large lump sums. (Hey, it totally worked for Obama.) However, at the same time, I think it behooves them to realize that the people they are calling are often in no better financial shape than their no-longer-big donors, and pressuring and falsely putting down people for pledges is not going to make them any friends.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back from the abyss

Hi there, readers, if any of you are still around. I know it's been an awfully long time since I've written. I apologize for that. Life has a way of getting in the way of little things like blogging sometimes, you know? I can't even promise that now I'm really back, because I have a new job(!!!) which basically consumes most of my energy and waking thoughts, not to mention the hours I actually put in at work. (Seriously, if they paid me for the work I do when I'm not clocked in, I'd be making waaaaay more than I am.)

Still, I figured that an update is in order, seeing as it's been several months. Here's some of the stuff that's been going on in my life and going through my mind in the recent or distant past, in no particular order:
  • Job searching seriously, seriously sucks. B"H I have one now, but it was total hashgacha pratis that I got it - it pretty much fell into my lap. No, I will not be giving details. If you know me in real life, feel free to ask me via media other than the comments section.
  • They weren't lying when they said that, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." It's not that I got into any actual trouble per se when I was unoccupied all summer...but, well, my brain prefers that I stay busy.
  • That being said, as I mentioned above, this new job is consuming most of my available energy and probably some that isn't actually available, too. This has its drawbacks, but aside from being exhausted, frustrated, and losing my voice, I feel GREAT!
  • In reference to the Yamim Noraim which just passed: Is it possible to actually ask forgiveness from someone when you don't even know what it is you're asking for? I'm not talking about the stupid little things, which may be minor annoyances when they occur but are easily forgiven and forgotten. I'm talking about relationships where one person has no idea that they're doing something to hurt/bother/otherwise harm in physical or nonphysical ways, but they ask forgiveness for "anything that I may have done" blah blah blah. Granted, maybe then you'd say that the onus lies on the person who is being hurt to let the other person know (preferably before it's erev Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur and it's "mechilla season"). But if the person has good reason to believe that the hurtful/harmful behavior would not change, and bringing it up would only cause further harm to the relationship, what then? Just some food for thought; feel free to sound off in the comments. I'm interested in what people have to say.
  • Back to work: I'm jealous of the people who can roll out of bed and be at work. There are lots of them in my workplace, and it's getting tiring to hear, "Oh wow, you come in all the way from Neighborhood X? That must be such a long trip! How long does it take you?....Wow, really, that long each way? I don't know how you do it." Yeah, I don't know how I do it, either...oh wait, yes I do. It's called, I got a job and I'll do what it takes to show up to work on time every day.
  • Kids today are way more chutzpadik than they were when I was growing up. Yes, I have confirmed this with friends who are teachers, and I'm not making it up. Unfortunately for me, I have a very, very low tolerance for chutzpa.
  • You know you're officially engrossed in your work when you dream about it multiple nights in a row. Yes, it's been about a week and a half into starting and I'm already there.
  • I realized something about myself earlier this summer: I'm far more willing to go out of my way and go beyond what would be acceptable and called for to help a friend than I am to help myself. That's something I have to work on. Not that I should stop helping friends, but that I should consider my own life as important as theirs and do more to help myself.
Anyway, I think that's about all for now. Hopefully I'll be back sooner next time than I was this time around, but no promises; I don't wish to disappoint. I hope everyone has a chag sameach!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day!

I got a phone call from my boss last night.

"Don't come in to work tomorrow; all facilities are closed and it will be too dangerous to travel. We'll talk tomorrow night or Thursday."

Great! My first snow day since my sophomore year of college! I'm so pumped, especially cuz most of my friends have the day off as well. I watched the news on my roommate's TV and paid special attention to the weather report, just to make sure. Yup, we're supposed to get a ton of snow.

As the evening continued, I kept looking out the window for signs of this impending blizzard. Nada. I fell asleep having seen nary a flake. I woke up in the middle of the night to find a dusting of snow on the fire escape outside my window. Big deal.

This morning, I woke up, looked out my window again and laughed. There was less than an inch of snow on the fire escape. I left my room to hear my roommate singing, "I have a snow day, I have a snow day! Yippee!"

Glad for her, but in slight disbelief, I commented, "Really - your work cancelled, too? Too hazardous to travel or something?"

She replied with glee, "Yup! It's really coming down out there."

I looked out the window and laughed again. "Sweetie, where I'm from, that's not called 'coming down'. That's called, 'put on your snowboots and go to school.'"

Still, I'm not arguing with a free day off. Maybe there will eventually be enough snow that we can have a decent snowball fight. ;-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A week of Walks

This past week has been a week of epic Walks.

I started out with the most epic, a Tip-to-Tip Trip with three friends. For those of you not in the know, the Tip-to-Tip Trip refers to walking the island of Manhattan from one end to the other. It's a loooong walk, and was made longer by stops for bathroom breaks (yay Starbucks!), lunch breaks, catch-up breaks, etc. Still, it was a lot of fun, although on Monday my feet hated me. A lot. We started out by taking the M100 bus up as far as it would take us in Manhattan (and walked the extra block to 220th St.), then walked down Broadway as far as Washington Heights, stopped for a bathroom/refueling break, and continued down Riverside Drive. Eventually we moved back to the streets somewhere in the mid-90's, though personally I would have been happy to keep walking along the river, both because of the lack of traffic lights and because it's prettier than the streets of Manhattan. Upon a friend's suggestion, I mapped out our route at mapmyrun.com to see how far we actually walked, and it came out to about 14.2 miles - not bad for a not-so-lazy Sunday!

Tuesday night I walked the George Washington Bridge with G6. The weather was gorgeous - just cold enough to be comfortable walking in heavy coats, but not too windy or frigid. The city is so pretty at night from out on the bridge, all twinkling lights stretched out as far as the eye can see. We made good time, taking a little more than an hour to walk to New Jersey and back. I forgot to wear sneakers, but fortunately for me, my feet decided to forgive me for my error.

Today was the third trek of the week. This time I was hoofing it to Riverdale for Shabbos lunch, something I'd always thought about doing but never really got around to. Of course, I could have picked a slightly warmer day to pursue such an endeavor...but I didn't want to back down or have my hosts worry about me (well, mostly just the not wanting to back down), so I bundled up in my hat, down coat, scarf, boots and gloves and started walking. My face was numb by the time I got to 190th St. Did I turn around? Naaaaah. I just kept going and going, and again made good time, arriving in about an hour and a quarter. The truth is, it was a gorgeous day for a walk, if rather cold.

Anyway, here's to a week of Walks, and hoping that more are coming up!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shidduch Musical: The Big Dollhouse, Brooklyn Marriot version

For all who want to check out the original version, it can be found here. (Men, be forewarned, there is kol ishah involved.) The lyrics can be found here.

[Setting the scene: Nine couples are sitting in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriot when a tenth walks in. One of the guys stands up, says, "Hey, there are ten of us! We can chapp a maariv!" and all the men exit. Girls look around at each other, stand up, and start to sing:]

GIRLS:

I gotta get out

I gotta get out

I gotta get out

How’d I get in this hotel, this lobby, this big bad date?!

LEADER: [spoken]

Alright, ladies, welcome to the Brooklyn Marriot, otherwise known as the Big Dollhouse! For those of you who are new to this place, let me tell you how we ended up here: our mothers! It’s like they never dated when they were young.

GIRL #1:

Stuck here cuz of those nosy women

GIRL #2:

Drinking diet Cokes until we’re swimmin’

GIRL #3:

This was totally not worth dry cleaning my blouse!

LEADER:

Don’t it feel like you’re trapped

ALL:

In a big dollhouse?

GIRL #4:

Lady Justice, where have you gone?

GIRL #2, on cell phone:
Oh, Mommy, check – I think I left the iron on!

GIRL #1:

Did you see my date laughing at me? I’ll murder that louse!

LEADER:

Welcome to life

ALL:

In the big dollhouse!

Big house!

GIRL #1:

It feels like we’re locked up in a pen

GIRL #3:

No phone! [Girl #2 waves hers, taunting; Girl #3 gives her a dirty look]

GIRL #4:

No food!

GIRL #5:

Just MEN! [all roll eyes]

GIRL #2:

My date’s as quiet as a mouse!

LEADER:

Honey, just drop the drama

ALL:

In the big dollhouse!

[Loud unintelligible conversation ensues]

GIRL #6:

You know, my stomach’s been feeling sour

GIRL #7:

And I haven’t eaten in over six hours!

LEADER:

Girls, you gotta suffer to find your spouse.

ALL:

So there’s nothing to eat in the big dollhouse.

GIRL #1, to LEADER:

Hey, don’t we have a right to complain?

GIRL #8, interrupting, to GIRL #1:

Haven’t I seen you around 70th and Main?

GIRL #1:

[Shrieks and runs away]

It figures a Queens girl’s here,

She lives around the corner from my house!

ALL:

Small world!

GIRL #4:

No fair!

GIRL #7:

No food!

GIRL #9:

No FUN!

ALL

Big house!

GIRL #5:

And our search has just begun!

Cuz we gotta keep dating till we find a spouse –

So we’ll keep meeting up at this

ALL:

Big dollhouse!

[More loud conversation]

LEADER [looking at watch]:

Girls, I’m getting sick of all this waiting,

We’ve lost our men – can you call this dating?!

GIRL #2:

Hey, who are you to grumble or grouse?

ALL:

Yeah, we’re all in it together in the big dollhouse!

LEADER:

Okay, cool it, ladies, no need to shout.

What do we gotta do to bail ourselves out?

GIRL #8:

I don’t want to date a loser!

GIRL #9:

A hocker!

GIRL #2:

A mouse!

GIRL #1:

For now, it’s just us girls in the big dollhouse.

ALL:

Big house!

GIRL #3:

G-d, I think I’m gonna die!

ALL:

Big house!

GIRL #2:

I’m busting out!

GIRL #5:

Girl, so am I!

[Both dance towards the lobby door but stop just short.]

ALL:

HaKadosh Baruch Hu, hear my plea –

‘Cause the big dollhouse,

The big dollhouse,

The big dollhouse,

Ain’t big enough for me!

For me!

For me!

LEADER:

For me!

[Men re-enter the room, stand gaping and looking very confused. Girls stop short and scramble to the nearest seat, each inevitably ending up with a different guy than the one she started with, and start to make conversation as if nothing has happened.]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflections on a year in the life

This past year was a year of big changes for me - but as the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

B"H some things changed for the better. Some things...well, I'm sure it will be for the better in the big picture, but for the time being, it's pretty darned hard to see how. But I know that I do not see the bigger picture, only the tiny little corner of it that is my life and my world.

It has been a year of lessons, some good and some more difficult.

I've learned that I value being valued.

I've learned that the right friends can get me through my darkest moments, but only if I let myself trust them enough to let them know I need them. I've learned that a friend moving away doesn't mean a friend leaving my life, nor have I left hers. I've learned that I am stronger than I sometimes think I am.

I've learned that "meshaneh makom, meshaneh mazal" doesn't necessarily mean that I have to be the one moving - sometimes someone else being meshaneh their makom is meshaneh my mazal. This has worked strongly in my favor in recent times. ;-)

I've learned that often it is better to come right out and get things in the open, because when I am open and honest I can work on situations and change them instead of just worrying about them. Often I worry too much about how such honesty will be received. I worry too much in general. That is something I am working on trying to unlearn.

I've learned that sometimes I need to be "bullied" into doing things that are good for me, but I'm grateful afterward to the people who do so. It takes a special kind of friend to be able to twist my arm for my own good.

I've learned that many, many people value me in their lives, and they value me for who I am, with all my positive and negative aspects. I need to learn to trust that I am valued and to value myself in the same way. I treasure my friends; I am worthy of being treasured in the same way.

I've learned that I still have a lot of work to do on myself. Not that I thought I was done, but in some respects, for awhile I had thought I could relax a bit. Not so. I need to learn how to define myself as me and not by external factors, because external factors are always subject to change. Just because situations have changed or people have changed doesn't mean that I have to change as well. I am still me...if I can figure out who "me" is.

I've learned that, as usual, I still have a lot to learn.

May we all be inscribed for a good and sweet year, in which the lessons we learn in life are not painful.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Life update, post-birthday edition

You know you've been a lazy slacker of a blogger when your last year's birthday post is still on the front page - and it's not even at at the bottom of the front page. I really was determined to post more this time last year. It just...didn't happen. I'm not sure if it was lack of inspiration, lack of motivation, lack of words to express what I wanted to say, or some combination of those and other factors that resulted in the lack of posts.

So, what have I been up to? It's so hard to put a whole year into a short synopsis for easy consumption, but I suppose I shall try.

~I welcomed the cutest nephew EVER into the world. He's the love of my life; too bad he's in another country and can't be my boyfriend because he's 25 years younger than me (and my nephew). He's freaking gorgeous. And no, I'm not just saying that because he's my nephew.
~I started a new job, which didn't pay as much as my old one but which gave me far more satisfaction. (Gee whiz, it's fun to be appreciated! Who'da thunk?) I also decided to continue to do this job for the coming year, despite whatever shortcomings there are in the compensation package. Hey, it's a job, and I enjoy it. That's worth a lot in my book.
~I found out that as much as I hated working 9-5, the structure it provides can be helpful. It's not that I don't enjoy my own company, but too much unstructured time is just not a good thing. (Okay, so a couple of the shortcomings in the job aren't only compensation-related.)
~I learned that my feelings about small children have changed. Once upon a time, I had a fairly low tolerance level for misbehaving children between the ages of, oh, two to twelve or so. But especially the younger ones, for some reason. Now I gladly substitute teach for preschoolers, and it's not only because the pay is quite decent. Finding out that I could spend four hours with 3-year-olds and actually enjoy it came as quite a surprise.
~There have been many, many ups and downs in the past year. B"H there have been many simchas, and b"H I have much in my life to be thankful for. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy to see that or to say it. However, this year, I finally decided (after some kicks in the tush from helpful friends) to actually try to do something about it.
~In this same vein, I also discovered that occasionally it is all right to be blackmailed for one's own good. No, that is not an invitation.
~I have been through many roommates and many uncomfortable situations involving roommates. I have successfully replaced two roommates, the second of which happened through complete hashgacha pratis. B"H I am looking forward to my new roommates, and I think I shall be far happier with my living situation than I have been in a long time.
~I have learned, firsthand, exactly how annoying it is to have a car in my neighborhood. I have a newly developed hate for alternate side parking in NYC. Thank G-d having the car is temporary.
~I have been to Delaware and back in under 24 hours. Did you know that singing silly songs at ungodly hours of the night is a great way to stay awake while driving at said ungodly hours?
~I joined Facebook. Yep, I finally caved. It was just time.
~I have strengthened and solidified many friendships and let others go. Others have continued much as they were before. I have tried to strengthen some existing friendships so as to have a support network in place when other friendships must, for whatever reasons, change. I hope it works. I am glad I have good friends who care very much about me, wherever in the world they are. Such friends are gifts straight from HKB"H.
~I celebrated the 26th anniversary of my birth with one such friend and had a fabulous time. We went to Broadway in Bryant Park, among other fun things, and it was a party. And I got a very thoughtful birthday call from another such friend who was unable to participate in the festivities because she is now very far away. Both the company and the call were very much appreciated, as were all the other various birthday well-wishes by phone, e-card, text, and FB.

All right, that's basically my year al regel achat. Hopefully I'll be back to update this thing sometime before next year's birthday rolls around. Till then, happy trails to you all, until we meet again.