Wednesday, December 29, 2004

When the Brain Fails

Since the age of fifteen, I have repeatedly been told that I “think too much”. It’s true. I use, and probably misuse, my brain a great deal. But in the past few days, I find that I can’t get my brain to really work. I just can’t wrap my brain around the reality of the SE Asian tsunami disaster.

I know that it’s tragic. I read the articles and the heart-breaking testimonials and I look at the pictures. I watch the death toll climb ever higher and I read the predictions of how much higher it is expected to climb. I read the words, but am having an extraordinarily difficult time comprehending the true meaning behind them. The numbers are so large that it’s very hard to feel the impact of a tragedy like this, especially since it’s taking place on the other side of the world. Somehow it’s easier to feel the tragedy of a terrorist attack in Israel or even the sensationalist stories that often pass for local news than it is to feel the catastrophe of a natural disaster like this.

Maybe there is no way to truly understand this. Maybe all I can say, whether its appropriate in a situation like this or no, baruch dayan ha’emet.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Deconstructing Knishmas

After a most lovely shabbos, spent in the excellent company of one of the cutest couples I know, I got all dolled up to go to Knishmas. I went primarily because I have friends in 2 of the bands, and because another friend was a major mover-and-shaker in putting together this whole event. I got all dolled up because I hadn't gone out in a very long time, and needed the emotional pick-me-up that comes with knowing I look fantastic. Next time, however, I think I'm going in a ratty denim skirt and a sweatshirt.

No one told me that 'Knishmas' translates to 'Attack of the Strange Men' in some African dialects.

It started out just fine. I got there around 9:30pm, and schmoozed with my friends. At 11:00pm, my volunteer shift began. And so did the insanity.

First there was the guy who I'd gone on a pretty dismal date with a while back, who approaches me to ask if he could introduce me to his single older brother. This is slightly odd to me, but actually pretty sweet. It’s nice to know that he doesn't hold any grudge because I don't want to go out with him a second time. But then he stands and flirts with me for a full five minutes, after I'd consented to meeting his brother.

Next we have the nebbishy guy who's introduced himself to me on at least two other occasions. So when he comes up to me this time, saying "Hi, I'm [insert name here]," I try to put him more at ease by saying something to the effect of "Yes, I remember you. We've met before." Not that I have any interest in this man whatsoever, but I hate seeing anyone that nervous. His response? He literally runs away. So much for being gentle.

Then we encounter a guy at the bar, though the credit for this goes entirely to my very cute and less-than-sober married friend. After taking my clipboard away from me, insisting that she would get people to sign up on the mailing list, she starts talking to these two guys at the bar, chatting up the bands and the Kfar Jewish Arts Center. When she mentions that her husband is friends with some of the musicians, one of the Bar Guys looks right at me and asks, "And you? Is your husband friends with the band?" To which my dear friend says, "Oh, she doesn't have a husband! She's single. But isn't she cute?" But the fun doesn't stop there. It keeps going until I'm blushing so much that it's visible in the dim lighting of the bar, and one of the Bar Guys even comments on it. And then my married friend leaves me alone with these guys.

While still stuck talking to Bar Guy #2 (#1 having walked off, which probably means that #2 flashed some subtle signal calling dibs on me), another man approached and starting making absolutely incomprehensible comments to me. For example: I'm wearing a Kfar button, like a good little volunteer. The man looks at the button and says, “What’s Kfar?” I explain that Kfar is a Jewish Arts Center, which brings different Jewish artists and musicians to Chicago. His response, “So I guess I can really express myself now, huh?” Not having any clue what he means by that, I reply, ‘Umm…if that’s what floats your boat, go for it.” Bizarre Man then says, in a very explanatory tone of voice, “Well, you said it was a Jewish arts center.” Still not understanding what the devil he’s talking about, I answer, “Yes. ‘Kfar’ means ‘village’.” He then says, “Right, like a community,” and looks at me expectantly, as though all should now be clear to me. I nod very slowly, since I really have no idea what he’s getting at. Bizarre Man gets frustrated, harrumphs, mutters “Whatever” and stalks off. I still haven’t the foggiest clue what he was talking about.

I finally manage to extricate myself from Bar Guy #2, and seek refuge with my friend Sara. As we're chatting, a man who, judging by the amount of grey in his beard, is easily 20 years older than we are approaches and starts conversation by asking, "So, are you guys single?" Red flag #1. When Sara says that she’s seeing someone, he keeps looking at her and talking to her. Red Flag #2. Finally, he asks our names. The fact that our names rhyme strikes me as very amusing. Picture it: Grey Beard approaches two young, trendily garbed 20-something girls in a bar, and starts hitting on them. When asked their names, they answer “I’m Sara.” “I’m Cara.” It was something out of a bad sitcom. He should have known to just walk away then. For some reason, though, he decided to stay there and try to carry on a conversation. He, too, says something utterly incomprehensible, which contains the words “rhapsody” and “orgy” . When Sara and I don’t really respond, he says, “Come on, that was funny. Right?” (Note: If you have to point out that something is funny, it probably isn’t) Having long since lost the desire to be polite, I simply say, “Well, it was different.” After a few more moments of Grey Beard trying to pull a conversation out of two women who are blatantly not interested, I seek refuge at the volunteer table, knowing that Sara can now escape to her boyfriend.

At 1:00am, my shift ended, and I was free to ensconce myself safely among my friends for the rest of the evening. Again, I find myself in the dilemma of choosing between being honest and being polite. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t want to lead anyone on. By Sunday morning, I found myself wondering what the best answer is, when someone you’re not interested in asks if you’re single. So far, I’ve come up with:
· I’m a robot, and prohibited from mating with humans.
· I’ve taken a vow of celibacy.
· Are you the Keymaster?
· With all the voices in my head, I’m never actually single.

Any suggestions?

Happy Happy! Joy Joy! #13

And the simchas keep on coming...

Mazel tov to Hillel Morris and Rachel Goode on their engagement!

I realize that the people who read my blog fall into two categories, with respect to announcements like this one: 1) They know Hillie and Rachel, and therefore already know of their engagement, or 2)They have no idea who these fine people are, and therefore aren't really affected by this announcement. So my posting it doesn't really serve any purpose.

Except for the fact that it makes me very happy. And this is my world, so I make the rules.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Ani Mevina!

If I were a student at George Washington University, and I wanted to take Hebrew courses, I'd place out of Beginning Hebrew. I'd be in the Intermediate course.

Turns out that you can download a PDF of their placement exam, including the key to scoring your answers. Part One was pretty easy. Part Two was much harder, but I did manage to understand a half-page essay (no vowels!) and answer all the comprehension questions correctly.

I have no idea what any of this really means, but it still feels pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It's Not About XMas Anymore

There are many people in the blogosphere commenting on the alleged "Death to Christmas" campaign, a.k.a. Anti-Christmas/Jews Run the World/We Hate Anyone Who's Not Circumcised movement, so it seems like this week is the perfect time to toss in my 2 shekels. I wasn't going to say anything...until a certain event took place this evening, which simply crossed the line.

As background, let me just say that I don't really care too much that the entire city of Chicago turns red and green this time of year (much like Santa's brain in that old carolling classic "I Found the Brains of Santa Claus"). Truth be told, I rather like the little white lights that magically appear on the trees in the week following Thanksgiving. They're pretty. I don't care if people wish me a Merry Christmas or a Happy Kwanzaa or even a Felicitious Festivus (not that anyone ever has. Those ill-mannered fiends!). I take advantage of the after-Xmas sales just like everyone else. Now, I can't say I actually enjoy the deluge of Christmas commericals, posters, and men on street corners dressed as Kris Kringle, but it certainly doesn't offend me. After all, I live in a city, state, and country that is predominantly Christian. What else would I expect?

There is, however, one aspect of the Christmas Craze that drives me up the wall: uber-shmaltzy Christmas music being pumped through the speakers of every coffee shop and retail store imaginable. It's not the fact that it's Christmas-related that really gets to me. It's the fact that it's just plain bad music. Even the radio station that I sometimes listen to at work has started interspersing bad renditions of Christmas songs into their shows. Normally, though, I forget the bad song as soon as it ends.

Tonight, that all changed. Tonight, Starbucks did the unthinkable. They not only played absurdly bad Christmas music, but also absurdly bad music that should never be played in a business that is trying to encourage return patronage. The squeaky soprano singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was bad enough. And then it just got worse. The strains of "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" soon assaulted my ears.

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly?! Have they already run out of gimmicky Xmas tunes, that they have to resort to this? And what kind of self-respecting artist records it? If it has been musically-inclined children singing it, it might have been cute enough to be tolerable. But no. This was a grown man, accompanied by a piano, singing with apparent seriousness the words, "I don't know why she swallowed the fly,/ perhaps she'll die."

I don't care about Christmas songs in public schools or mailmen wearing Santa caps. It's dreck like this that should really be illegal. The ACLU is fighting the wrong fight.

Happy Happy! Joy Joy! #12

Mazel tov to Uri and Deb on their engagement!

Normally, when people get engaged, their friends and families wish them every happiness that life has to offer. With some couples, however, you don't have to wish them anything. When two people are as perfect for each other as these two are, you already know their lives together will be filled with every happiness.

Moose, I give you two enthusiastic thumbs up. One for the adorable manner of proposing (though you always did have a knack for saying cute things at the perfect times), and one for having the good sense to propose.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Catch 22?

These past few days, I've been thinking a great deal about the difficulty that sometimes arises when you're faced with the choice of being honest or being kind. If honesty is going to hurt someone else's feelings, is honesty the best route? But what if, by being kind, you put yourself in a bad situation? Normally, I choose to be honest, although it has sometimes felt cruel. Yet now I find myself facing a situation that I thought had been resolved by my past honesty. So what do you do if you've tried being honest in the past, and the other person simply chooses not to believe you?

In the particular case I'm thinking of, being brutally honest leaves me feeling like a b*tch. Yet being kind makes me ultimately feel like a phony. So I can be honest, hurt someone else's feelings (though it's for their own good), and end up feeling horrible about myself. Or I can be kind, let the other person believe what they want to believe, and end up feeling horrible about myself.

I love having choices.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Anyone Ever Been To Arad?

I may have found a quality, and affordable, alternative Israel program, in the event that I do not get accepted to the Fellowship program. By 'alternative' I mean 'acceptable option', as opposed to 'outside of traditional or established institutions'. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The only problem I can find with this alternative program (aside from not being a Dorot fellowship) is that I'd be living in Arad for three months.

I was in Arad, albeit briefly, during my birthright trip. We spent one night in Arad, but only so that we were near enough to Masada to do the sunrise climb. My impression of Arad has been negatively impacted by two circumstances:
1) Those fiends made me wake up at 4:30am.
2) Two girls in my group left the hotel late at night, and made friends with some shady guys on the street. They then brought their new friends back to their hotel room. Here's where the stories began to diverge. In version A, the girls decided it was time for the Shady Dudes to leave. In version B, a nice guy in our group decided it was inappropriate for the Shady Dudes to be there. Either way, the Shady Dudes refused to go away. When Nice Guy tried to make them leave, one of the Shady Dudes pulled out a knife and stabbed him. Nice Guy was rushed to the hospital with a punctured lung, and was never seen by Bus #2 ever again.

So does anyone have any positive stories about Arad? Some kind of testimonial that people there don't wake up obscenely early and get stabbed on a routine basis?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

My First Shiur

I've been to many, many shiurim in my short life. I like shiurim. I may even go to one tonight. Last night, however, marked a very special occasion.

I gave a shiur.

Yep, that's right. Last night was my debut as a shiur-giver, an imparter of Jewish wisdom, a teacher of text. And I was horribly nervous. After all, I'd never done anything like this before. I give a 3 minute d'var every shabbos, but how was I going to fill 57 other minutes? More importantly, who am I to be teaching others in this kind of setting?

Turned out not to matter so much. There weren't really 'others' there. My shiur had a total attendance of 3: yours truly, the rabbi of the shul, and one shul member. Maybe my topic didn't sound very appealing (Religious Struggle: The Macabees and the Knesset). Maybe no one wanted to go out into the cold. Maybe no one else thought I was a very qualified imparter of Jewish knowledge. Maybe there was a really good episode of Law & Order on television.

At first, I was pretty embarrassed. I never thought that there would be a large crowd to begin with, but I thought more than 2 people would show up. But after I began, I realized that the tiny audience was actually a good thing. It gave us a chance to actually discuss the text in front of us. I went through the text, and watched the rabbi underline words and make notes in the margins of his copy. Talk about role reversal.

In the end, I think the shiur actually went very well. At least my two attendees seemed to go home happy. The rabbi even mentioned wanting to do a class on the Book of the Macabees again next year. We may do a shiur comparing Purim and Chanukah. So I wasn't a total failure. But I may just stick to my 3 minute d'var for a while.

A Day in the Life of Me

8:00-8:20am: Wait in the bitter cold winter weather as 3 full buses go by, while trying to ignore the pitying looks from the warm and toasty people on said buses.
8:50am: Despite being 20 minutes late to work, there is no coffee already made. Unwilling to wait for the pot to brew, I drink tea. Now I'm warm, but not awake yet.
9:30-11:00am: Staff meeting.
11:00am-1:00pm: Conference call. Since one of the participants is on a cell phone, I can't really hear if I put the phone on speaker. After 2 hours, the phone has become one with my ear.
1:00-2:00pm: Freedom! Fresh air! Caffeine! Over all too quickly.
2:00-4:00pm: I have no idea where these hours went. I know I sat in front of my computer. I ate. I devoted some attention to my split ends.
4:00-5:30pm: Conference call #2. At least I could put it on speaker. This allows me to multi-task: I can listen, examine more split ends, edit a few documents, send some emails, and blog at the same time.

Later tonight: Stay in and do laundry or schmooze with Jews? Only time will tell...

Service Announcement

She makes you laugh. She makes you think. She's an amazingly descriptive writer. She's Jewish. She makes Harry Potter references.

No, she's not me.

She's Chayyei Sarah, and the latest addition to my blogroll.

Welcome to my world, Sarah. Your passport is in the mail.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Random Question of the Week

"Hey it true you once dated a Canadian?"

(By the way, Moose, I'm assuming you've fled back to your mother country or have been kidnapped by Peruvian midgets. Those are the only reasons I can think of for why you have yet to return my belated b-day phone call.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Sun Has Set...

...and that means it's Chanukkah!

To all of you who have ever ventured into my life and my world, I wish you a joyous chag. As a very wise friend of mine told me not too long ago, this time of year is one of miracles, light and happiness.

Chag Sameach!

Word of the Week


Go look it up, and then use it in a sentence.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Application Update

Essay #1: First Draft- Done!
Essay #2: Third Draft- In Progress
Essay #3: Second Draft- Done!
Essay #4: First Draft- Done!
Resume: First Draft- Done!

I'm on a roll, baby! I may even make my self-imposed December 17th deadline.

To my darling friend and editor...THANK YOU! I could not do this without you.

Weekend Report

It was a very quiet kind of weekend here in Cara's World.

I had a nice family Shabbat dinner with my parental units and Big Brother (plus Allie's uber-cute puppy), and a nice family Shabbat lunch with Joe, Gila and Adin. I babysat for an extremely cute 15-month old motzei Shabbat. The only problem is that he went to sleep 25 minutes after his parents left, so we didn't have that much time to play.

Yesterday, I pretended to be a housekeeper in Big Brother's Trial Advocacy assignment/fake trial thingy. It was fun. The best part, though, was watching Big Brother be lawyerly. Move over, Jack McCoy!

Last night, I took a bubble bath and just had some me-time.

All relaxed and happy.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Cult of the Apocrypha

The intern saw a copy of the Apocrypha on my desk this morning, and decided to make fun of me. In the course of our extremely silly conversation, we decided that "Apocrypha" actually sounds like great name for something cult-related, particularly since your average American probably has no idea what the Apocrypha really is. A new cult needs a leadership structure, however, so we decided on a few more details.

I am now the High Priestess of the Inner Sanctum of the Apocrypha. I will wear long flowy robes (I'm thinking a nice midnight blue or a deep wine red. Possibly with silver or gold embroidery), and induce people to become my minions, though we'll call them 'disciples' because it sounds better. I haven't quite decided what this cult is striving for, but it will probably be something akin to world domination. After all, there are enough peace-loving hippies out there already, so I should probably try to restore some kind of cosmic balance.

Right now I'm looking for attractive men to bring me goblets of wine and plait my hair. And to keep me entertained and cater to my every whim, of course.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Clever People Needed

I'm leading a class/discussion thingy at my shul in a week an a half. It's the second in a three-part series on Israel. Since my class falls on the last night of Chanukkah, I decided to do something Chanukkah related. I know, revoluntionary of me.

We're going to be looking at the Book of the Maccabees and applying it to modern-day Israel. Assimilation versus halacha, war, the few against the many, etc.

Here's the problem: I need a catchy title. So put on your shiny aluminum-foil thinking caps, and help me out here.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

On Anger and Relationships

I heard a very nice little vort at lunch today, which resonated a great deal with me, in light of my recent ponderings on the celebrity deathmatch between Doormat and Psycho B*tch. I wish I remembered more of the details, and the exact context, so that I could report it accurately. This will be a very poor recap, but here goes anyway...

It started out as a comparison between the etymology of the words 'Islam" and "Judaism". Apparently, 'Islam" means submission, in the sense of submission to Hashem/Allah/The Big Guy Upstairs. "Judaism" on the other hand is the religion of "B'nai Israel", and in this week's parsha, we see the source of the name "Israel". It means one who struggles with Hashem, and with man. So the gist of this little vort was that the concept of submitting to Hashem does not really enter into Jewish philosophy. Instead, we are supposed to question, struggle, grapple with Hashem. As my childhood rabbi, Rabbi Deitcher, z"l, used to say, it is always okay to doubt. But doubt should not stand in the way of action. And we have examples of individuals grappling with Hashem in the Torah, particularly Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu.

As is said many times, our relationships with one another are mini versions of our relationship with Hashem. So just as we should not submit entirely to Hashem, but should feel comfortable to raise questions and argue when we need to, so too should we be able to argue and grapple with the people in our lives. The ability to be angry with someone you love is one of the signs of a healthy relationship. This applies to family, friends, spouses, etc. If you don't feel comfortable disagreeing with someone you love, than you are submerging part of your personality, and not being true to yourself or fair to the other person. After all, how can someone love you for who you are if you've not let them see who you really are?

Shavua tov.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Doormat Versus Psycho B*tch

Avi wrote something really lovely today, and it happens to mirror some of what's been going on inside my little brain. His thoughts are far more eloquent and universally applicable than mine, but they did help me focus more on what's really on my mind.

I find it very hard much of the time to stand up for myself when I don't think I'm being treated in a way that I deserve. I don't mean when someone is rude or cruel (it rarely happens, for one), but more when I encounter a kind of passive neglect. Not that I need (or want) constant attention, flowery expressions or grand gestures. Just an occassional acknowledgement, however casual or random or humorous, that I'm here. Most of the time, when I start to feel as though I'm being blown off or taken for granted, I say nothing. I just deal with it, knowing that sooner or later someone will need me for something.

And then there are the few times that I do say something. And I always regret whatever I said and the manner in which I said it after about 5 minutes. I immediately begin to think that I was being irrational and overly-sensitive, that I jumped to conclusions, that I was unfair to the other person. I then worry that I came across as a psycho b*tch. After all, people are busy, they have their own lives. What right do I have to expect anything from anyone?

Where is the balance? Am I judging others too harshly, and expecting more from them than I should be expecting? Or is the problem not the fact that I decide to say something, but the way I say it? Or am I judging myself too harshly, for sometimes needing just a little reassurance?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Gobble Gobble

It's cold and snowy here in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, and I couldn't be in a better mood. Even though I'd fully intended to sleep ridiculously late, but found myself wide awake at 7:00am instead.

I've never really understood the big deal about Thanksgiving Day. After all, shouldn't we be grateful every day for all the things that we have? It's similar to my views on Valentine's Day: why should you need someone like Mr. Hallmark to tell you when to be romantic? For me, Thanksgiving is really a day for spending with my family and eating good food. Just like every other holiday.

Today, however, I really did think about my life and all the things and people in it. Probably because I was awake at 7, and none of the television channels started playing anything halfway decent until 8. And I really am grateful. I have a wonderful family, and am lucky enough to have most of it here in the same city. I have amazing friends all over the world. I have a good job, and exciting plans for my own future. I even have my own blog. Yeah, there's a lot to be thankful for in Cara's World.

I'm also very grateful for having recently gotten my groove back. It sounds pretty silly, but it's true. Everything just seems like a bright, shiny new possibility right now. I guess life can become crystal clear at 7am. Like my buddy Amanda said the other day, I'm a "super cool chick" and I deserve to be treated like one (her words, not mine). Now that I've found my self-esteem again, it's much harder to let myself be treated like a doormat.

So these are my musings on a cold and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. Now it's time to go make a couple of pecan pies. I hope all of you out there in the blogosphere are having equally joyous days, spent with people you love.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Ode To Bogey

I watched Casablanca tonight, with a good friend of mine. For some reason, both of us had been thinking about the movie in the past couple of days, and my friend happens to own it on DVD. So instead of going out to see The Incredibles (which I still very much want to see), we stayed in and watched one of the greatest movies ever.

Casablanca is probably one of my Top 5 Favorite Films (American films, that is). Truth be told, I'm really just a sucker for Humphrey Bogart. It doesn't matter if he's playing a saloon keeper or a private investigator. There's just something about that no-nonsense attitude combined with dry humor and an almost careless kind of charm. How is a woman supposed to resist?

They just don't make men the way they used to. But that's what DVDs are for, right? So let's add to Cara's Chanukah Wish List:
5) Any and all Humphrey Bogart movies on DVD

In other news, one of my best friends from high school left me a voicemail tonight, giving me the heads up that she'll soon be sending me pictures of her in various wedding dresses, so that I can help her decide which one she wants. It just seems to be a sentimental sort of night here in my world.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

8th of Kislev

Sometimes I wonder how it's possible that it's only been two years since my grandmother died. Other times I feel that the past two years have been an eternity. Either way, here I am, two years later, writing this post on her yahrzeit. Last year I spoke at seudah shlishit, and ended up crying in front of everyone. This year I knew better than to try speaking again. Time may heal all wounds, but grief is another story.

My grandmother, Lisl Nussbaum, a"h, was- and in many ways continues to be- the single most important person in my world. She was an Eishet Chayil in every sense, and my role model of all that is good and generous. Life did not deal her an easy hand: she lost her father when she was only 13, had to be married in secret, her husband was forbidden to practice law 3 months after they married, her first child was a stillborn, gave birth to my uncle one week after arriving in Yerushalayim, fled the Arab riots to become a refugee yet again...and this is only the merest glimpse of some of the difficulties she experienced in the course of her very long life. She possessed a remarkably quiet kind of strength, for she never saw herself as anything remarkable. Throughout her entire life, she was committed to her family, to her community, and to Hashem. Yiddishkeit, frumkeit, and acts of chesed were simply part of who she was. I should grow to be half the woman that she was. If Hashem places malachim on this earth to walk among us, I can easily believe that she was one of them.

It's hard for me to illustrate in a blog post just how amazing a person she was, or how much she had shaped who I've become. Suffice to say, having her in my life, and having the extraordinary relationship that we had, has been the single greatest bracha that Hashem has given me.

May her memory forever be a blessing.

El maleh rachamim shochen bam'romim, hamtzey menuchah nechonah tachat kanfey haschechinah, bema'alot kedoshim ute'horim, kezohar harakiya, mazhirim et nishmat Limut bat Yehuda Zvi shehalchah le'olamah, ba'avur sh'hanechdah nadav litz'dakah, b'ad hazkarat nishmatah, lachen ba'al harachamim yastireha, b'seter k'nafav le'olamim, v'yitzror bitzror hachayim et nismatah, Adonai hu nachalatah, v'tanuach b'shalom al mishkavah, v'nomar amen.

Friday, November 19, 2004

How Cara Got Her Groove Back

I had planned on turning my brain off for most of last night, and for a while it seemed to be working. Then again, it's pretty easy not to use your brain too much when you spend your night watching cartoons. One of the best parts of having way too many television channels is having a cartoon channel that plays the old school Spider Man and X-Men shows. Mindless, harmless entertainment at it's best...and the good guy always wins.

Soon, however, it was past my bedtime, so I turned off the cartoons...and my brain turned back on. A strange thing happened though. I guess giving my brain a few hours off gave it a chance to recharge, or at least remember a few things that I had forgotten. Then I came across an old journal from my college days. It's actually the only journal I ever kept in college, and I only kept it for two months during the second half of my sophomore year. Even though I thought I knew exactly what I would find, I sat down and read it. The end result turned out far different than I'd thought: I found my self-esteem again. I guess I'd dropped it a week or so ago, and it rolled beneath my dresser. So now I've wiped it off and made it all clean and shiny and new-looking, and put it in my pocket. (Figuratively, of course. Most of my skirts don't have pockets) I'm planning on holding on to it for a while.

Damn, but it's good to be back!

(Management Update: In honor of Cara getting her groove back, and in recognition that it has been far too long since we celebrated Dumb Quiz Friday, please enjoy the following:
Which Marvel Comic Superhero Are You?
Normally I would tell you my results...but that would force me to reveal my secret identity, and that's against the rules.)

A most felicitous Sabbath to you all.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Catching Up

It occured to me that there are a few things I wanted to post, but never got around to doing so. Or rather, the lunatic alien stand-in that was posing as me during the past week never got around to doing so. Let's see if I can remedy that a bit.

The Israeli Film Festival review: I ended up seeing 3 films and one documentary. I've already said something about Tza'ad Katan, so I won't say anything else other than GO SEE THIS FILM. Here are the other three:
Chaim Ze Chaim, a.k.a. Life is Life: Also excellent, but I probably would have enjoyed it even more if i hadn't begun at 9:45 at night. It's a very ironic comedy that seems extremely light-hearted, but actually has a great deal of depth to it. Two thumbs up.
Arutzim Shel Za'am, a.k.a. Channels of Rage: This was mind-blowing. It's a documentary about the hip-hop/rap scene in Tel Aviv, focusing on Subliminal and T.N. It pretty much presents the rap underground as a microcosm of the entire political situation. It's one of the most fascinating and provoking films I think I've ever seen. And I don't even like hip-hop or rap all that much.
Sof HaOlam Smola, a.k.a. Turn Left At The End Of The World: Another winner. This is probably the funniest of the 4 films, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. Like Tza'ad Katan, it makes you laugh and makes you cry, and makes you very glad you carved the time out of your busy little life to watch it. Kind of like Fiddler on the Roof. Is this some special characteristic of Jewish movies, or do I just have great instincts about what to go see?

The Application: It's going fairly well right now. I'm awaiting a critique of one essay, and making some progress on another. I'm also waiting to hear from the people who agreed to write my recommendations. I'm also working on my resume. I'm a busy little bee.

Other Things in Cara's World: My grandmother's yahrzeit is on Sunday, but I may just write more about that in another post. I feel pretty ridiculous over the way Alien-Cara has reacted (or in some cases, over-reacted) to things in the past week. I need to learn to stay far away from telephones and email when I know that I'm prone to over-reacting. I wouldn't feel quite so dumb afterwards, because I always manage to snap myself out of whatever's bothering me in 24-36 hours. I also need to learn how to avoid repeating past mistakes, and winding up in bad situations that I've been in before. I also need to learn when to just let go.

That should be enough for now. As you can tell, my mind has been way too active lately. I really wish I'd been built with an off switch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Latkes, Latkes Everywhere!

I got to watch latkes being made during my lunch hour today...and then I got to eat them! They were pretty good, too...but my maternal unit's are better (of course).

Tomorrow I'm going to a lunch lecture on the origins of Zionism.

Thursday I'm going to Chug Ivrit.

I love working for Jews.

Cara's Going to California!

Not for another 5-6 weeks, but it's still something to look forward to. I'll take my sunshine and palm trees any way I can get them.

5 days in sunny California, hanging out with my very awesome aunt. The price? Finishing my application. This trip will be my reward. Full speed ahead...

I Was Abducted By Aliens

This is my excuse for my lunacy of the past few days, and I'm sticking to it. I was abducted by aliens, and they put some psycho chick in my place. They performed all sorts of experiments on me (and in retrospect, they weren't all that bad...), decided I didn't suit their nefarious purposes, and sent me back to Earth.

Crazy Cara is gone now. Normal, well-adjusted, fun-to-talk-to Cara has returned. A little bruised, but otherwise fine.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Rosh Chodesh Kislev

I used to really look forward to Kislev. Partly because Kislev means Chanukah, and who doesn't like Chanukah? But also because Kislev is the backdrop for one of my favorite stories growing up:

About a month after my grandparents had been introduced to each other, my grandfather, a"h, went to visit my grandmother, a"h, in her home town. They went for a walk one evening, and my grandfather asked, as they were walking back, "Fraulein Strauss, what Jewish month is it?" My grandmother answered, "Kislev." To that, my grandfather responded, "Then here is 'kiss' and here is 'lev'...will you marry me?"

It seemed somehow fitting that my grandmother, after being a widow for 29 years, rejoined my grandfather during Kislev 5763.

I spent my Rosh Chodesh standing at their graves, wondering what the hell I've done with the past two years of my life. Isn't Rosh Chodesh supposed to be a happy day?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Isn't that Sweet?

Milosevic sends condolences over Arafat's death

The details of this letter have not been released. Cara's World informants have revealed that Milosevic secretly held a grudge against Arafat for winning a Nobel Prize, when all he'd ever been given was a keychain and coaster. Mass murder just doesn't pay the way it used to.

Welcome To the Family

He's witty. He's funny. He appreciates the ridiculous in life, and has no qualms about telling you when he thinks that you're being a moron. He makes political commentaries, so I don't have to.

He's Dov Bear. And he's just been added to my blogroll.

Management Update: There appears to be some confusions about the phrase "He makes political commentaries, so I don't have to". This does not mean that I agree with Dov Bear's political views. It does not mean that I disagree. It simply means that, if the mood strikes me, I can link to his blog for liberal commentaries, just as I can link to others for conservative commentaries. I don't have to write them myself.

In case you hadn't noticed, I tend not to post my personal political views anywhere. And I intend to keep it that way. There is more going on in my world than politics. I intend to keep it that way as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Cara's Chanukah Wish List

1) The Fraggle Rock DVD
2) A duck-billed platypus
3) The love of my life
4) A ticket to Israel

I'll work on #3 and #4 (though I think #4 will prove far easier to acquire).
The rest of you can arm-wrestle over who's getting me the other two.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Can Someone Please Tell Me...

...why Google Images gave me a picture of a camel when I was searching for "jewish wedding"?

(Note: For the record, I need a picture of a chuppah for work. I'm not one of those single chicks who reads bridal magazines.)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Happy Happy! Joy Joy! #11

Of the many things in Cara's World to be joyous about, this one is way at the top of the list. In fact, there are not words enough to express how delighted I am.

Mazel tov to Bearish and Nechama Liba (also known as Barry Spiegel and Denise Jacobs) on their engagement this past motzei Shabbat! We shall all quaff carouses to your simcha when you both return to this country.

(I've been wanting to use the phrase "quaff carouses" all weekend. Now I have a reason. This really is bashert!)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Israeli Film Fest Review- Tza'ad Katan

Having cancelled my second Date with Brain on Thursday night, tonight's film was my first foray into the exciting world of Israeli cinema. I chose to see the showing of Tza'ad Katan (One Small Step), which luckily turned out not to be the JDate-sponsored movie. Since I was not sure when I left for the theater if any of my friends would be joining me, the idea of going to a JDate event by myself on a motzei Shabbat was slightly less than appealing. But, as it turned out, the one and only Adam R. Davis joined me at the theater, so I was not alone after all.

The movie was wonderful. If any of you have a chance to see this film, I highly recommend it. I liked it so much that I may even purchase it. The characters are diverse and well-developed, the plot stays interesting, and although the events of the film are, for the most part, serious and emotional, the director manages to avoid turning the film into either a complete melodrama or a total sob fest. I don't really want to say more about it, because some of my friends here may still go see it, and I'd hate to ruin it for them. But this movie is definately worth seeing. One of the best movies I've seen in a while.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Word From Our Sponsors

Paperback copy of Twelfth Night: $6
Sesame scented bubble bath: $10
Bottle of red wine: $13
Les Miserables CD: $22

Hearing the voice of a much loved friend over the phone: Priceless

Mentionable Moments

Question of the day: Cara, are you doing cocaine in the bathroom again?

Strange Sighting Of the Day: Sitting on the ground at an intersection beneath the 'L' tracks is a man in a ragged knit cap (No, it was not Yasser Arafat) and dilapidated jacket, holding a thin wooden pole. Attached to the top of the pole is a large circular wooden board. Strapped onto the board are four cameras, pointing in each direction. Each camera has the little red 'recording' light on. The man sits there, holding up the cameras, for several minutes, not saying a word. He then rises to his feet, still completely silent, and carries the pole with him as he walks away.

A Beautiful Story

Courtesy of MoChassid.

Good to have you back, Mo-C!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Second Date With Brain

The Israeli Film Festival opens in Chi-town tonight. My goal is to squeeze as many movies as possible into the next week and a half, which turns out to be a lot more difficult than I'd imagined. I didn't realize what a busy little bee I am.

I'd hoped to see the film "Miss Entebbe" tomorrow night with a friend whose company I have not been in for far too long. However, since my friend seems to have over-booked the evening, it looks as though I'm going on a second date with Brain instead. I'm willing to make this a double-date, if any of you want to come join Brain and me. You can even bring your own Brains.

7:30 pm, Piper's Alley. Any takers?

(I think I just asked the entire blogosphere out on a date...)

Management Update: The date with Brain has been canceled. "Miss Entebbe" will be seen in the company of my friend Elizabeth on Sunday at 3:15pm.

Headline of the Day

Conn. Principal Bans Cupcakes From School

Favorite quote: "Health and school officials have turned into the 'fat police'".

Clearly the fate of the nation revolves around baked goods. Why else would this be breaking news on the day after the national elections?

The Return Of Meh

Many people in Cara's World have reported feeling unusually meh last week. Those of you who actually spoke to this blog last week probably noticed this increased influence of meh. It took a couple of days to figure it out, but this blog believes it has discovered the underlying reasons for its meh-ness.

I'm in a rut. It makes no sense, seeing as how I had a different friend in town each weekend for the past 3 weeks, and how I have a new super-important project going on at work (in addition to the other important tasks I was already working on). Somehow, despite all this new and exciting stuff, I still feel like I'm in a rut.

I know that a lot of it is just frustration. My essay-writing is not going as smoothly as I had planned. Writer's block is not something I usually suffer from, and I don't know how to work around it. And time, which had been zooming by nicely, decided to slow down, making July seem very far away. My work-play routine is seeming very, well, routine. Even when I'm very busy, I go to bed at night wondering, 'What did I actually do today?'

If everything goes as planned, I have only 8 more months living the life I currently live. I don't want to spend any of those 8 months in a rut. How do I break myself out of it?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Baby Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

This is not my day. Maybe someone killed a fruitfly in Malaysia, and it disrupted the cosmic balance. Whatever the reason, I have been completely out of it all week, and it's all come to a head today.

This morning, the bus doors tried to kill me. Once I wrestled them open, I almost fell off the bus. I don't even know how it happened. One moment, I was on the bus. The next moment, I was hurtling towards the ground. However, my catlike reflexes enabled me to land on my feet.

When I got to work, I showed the security guards my house keys instead of my ID badge. I don't know what I was hoping to accomplish. So then I had to fish through my rather large shoulder bag in search of my ID, while the guard tried not to snicker.

Five minutes ago, my boot heel fell off. I sat down at my desk, and it just slid off the end of my boot. I could probably fix it with SuperGlue, if I had any. Since I don't, I used clear nail polish instead. It works on panty hose, but I don't have very high hopes that it's going to hold my shoe together.

At least it's almost shabbos. And Allan comes into town motzei shabbos, and I haven't seen him since May 2003. Maybe my bad karma is coming to an end.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's Pathetic Because It's True

My blog has become boring. I had a feeling that this was the case, but I was enjoying a pleasant state of denial. Until the other night, when a friend IM'd me to say "Ye gods, your blog is boring!" Or something to that effect.

Going back through my archives, I realized that it's true. Either my life has become boring, or my capacity for lunacy has severely diminished.

Cara's World is on a new mission. I'm going back to the Land Beneath the Sofa. My craziness was last spotted cavorting with the dust bunnies. I'm going to try to lure it back out into the daylight, using only Fruit Loops, a moose, and a piece of string. If I don't return, remember that I've always loved all of you. (Even you, Mr. Blore!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Lesson of the Day

Do not try to eat a pear and type with both hands simultaneously. The pear will always fall into your lap.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Luke Ford Has Good Timing

"He's just not that into her."

Yep, that's what I read on Protocols today. Coincidence? Probably. But it still gives this single blog a chance to rant and rave some more on her new favorite theme.

Luke cites a remark of Dr. Janice D. Bennett, relationship coach, which ends with the amazing (and insulting) comment that "Coaching is the only solution to help healthy singles figure out how to finally get themselves married." Coaching? You've got to be kidding me!

There are plenty of us healthy singles out there who do not need "coaching" to help us figure out "how to get [ourselves] married." We know how to get married. You start by giving up on the guys who aren't into you enough to date you. Then you go find someone who is that into you.

Luke ends his post by saying that "smart men realize that they are more attractive to women if they are not too available". I pondered this for a few seconds. Is it true? Do we really find men more attractive if they're not too available?

I think Luke is wrong. (Shocking, I know.) In my own life, the men who make it clear that they are available to me are most often men that I'm not interested in for myriad other reasons. Their availability is not why I'm not attracted. Sure, that whole chase thing is fun at first. Nothing that's easily had is worth having, right? But if he's stays too unavailable, it stops being fun. He stops being so attractive, and you and your gal pals stop referring to him as "Captain Wonderful" and start referring to him as "Captain Can't Dial A Phone". In other words, once you start making us doubt whether you're that into us or not, we stop being quite so into you.

"Smart" men may know that not being too available can initially make them seem more attractive. But smart women don't waste their time on guys who play The Game that way.

Hebrew Word of the Day

I signed up a while ago for an email "A Word A Day" program, to help expand my vocabulary. Now, I still can't carry on a conversation, because I can't conjugate verbs, but that's a whole other matter.

Today's word was magash, which means tray. In explaining the root of the word, the email said that magash is derived from the word "to serve". Furthermore, the word for "to serve" really means "to bring closer". Hence the idea of a tray- it is an object that you use to serve others, by bringing stuff closer to them.

But this word "to serve" is also used in the context of "to serve a meal". Now we're no longer talking about inanimate objects, but about people. When we "serve" others, whether its a group of friends gathered around your shabbos table, or whether you're "serving" them through volunteer work or even through your career, what you're really doing is bringing people closer. Maybe it's just because I haven't fully woken up this morning, but it seemed like a really lovely perspective on what it means to serve others. All from a vocab email.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Book Review Part Two

Ok, I just finished the book. And while I still don't think it's the sum of all wisdom, I'm still very glad I read it. I stand by my assertion that every single chick should read it as well.

The simple truth is that I, like most woman, make excuses for whatever guy I'm currently interested in. I sometimes still make excuses for guys that I haven't been interested in for a long time, because it's somehow easier than facing the reality that he just didn't feel the same way about me that I did about him. The whole purpopse of this book is to get us single chicks to stop making those excuses and get on with our lives.

He's kinda seeing someone else? Then he's probably just not that into me.
He's still with his ex? Well, he's obviously just not that into me!
He's scared of relationships and committment? Nope! He's just not that into me.
He doesn't want to damage the friendship? I think I hear this one most of all. Yeah, right. More like he's just not that into me.
The timing is off? This is the second most common one. Just got out of a relationship, has a lot on his plate, blah blah blah...they all boil down to one thing. He's just not that into me.

You'd think this would all be depressing. Strangely, I find it to be exactly the opposite. I mean, if I have to spend all this time and energy trying to figure out if a guy is actually interested in being with me, he can't actually be all that interested in being with me. Because if he were, wouldn't he make that crystal clear, so that I don't go find someone else?

Now, of course, one must make allowances for circustamces and whatnot. I don't think life, dating, or men are ever as cut-and-dried as this book makes it seem. But the important thing to remember, ladies, is that we're good enough, we're smart enough, and doggone it! People like us. So why do we waste so much of our time on guys who don't know how to show us that they like us?

Cara's World Book Review

He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

I haven't actually finished reading this book. Nor did I buy it. It was given to a colleague, and I skimmed it while chatting in her office. Then I decided to borrow it and read the whole thing. I do not normally read this kind of book. But right now, I'm hooked.

Written by a writer and consultant from Sex and the City, which happens to be one of my favorite TV shows, it makes it very clear, in a very funny way, just how stupid we ladies can be about you men. Now, I can't say that I fully buy into everything the book says. I still have faith in you guys. But it's still an eye-opening book anyway.

For the Single Ladies in the Audience: Read this book. Now. You will appreciate it, because there is probably some guy in your life right now that you are wasting a lot of time and energy on, by analyzing his every word and making excuses for why things aren't working out between you. Put down the chocolate, and go read this book instead. It's amazingly liberating, and I don't normally go in for feminist crap.

For the Single Guys in the Audience: I'm on to you now. Do you realize how much simpler life would be if you were just a little more honest? I know that blunt truth can be hard (previous thoughts on the subject), but we'd all be far less crazy if you'd just tell us the truth. Really. It might suck to hear you say "I'm just not that into you" or some variation thereof, but we can handle it. Quit being so nice about it. Don't give us b.s. excuses, because we usually manage to twist things around so that we hear whatever it is we most need to hear. Just be honest about it. We won't fall apart. You'd be surprised at how easily a pint of Ben and Jerry's can make the pain go away. Particularly a pint of Phish Food or Chubby Hubby.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My Big Date- Part Two

I had a delightful evening.

After work, Becky and I went to way too many stores, looking at and trying on all the wrong things. Naturally, we found her a lovely dress at the last store we went into. And it just happened to perfectly match the hat we'd bought during our lunch break today. This confirms what I've long known...I really am good luck. In fact, I'm magical.

When Becky and I parted ways, it was time for me to embark on My Big Date with my brain. I took myself to coffee, and amused myself with a book for half and hour or so, and then I went across the street to the movie theater. Having extremely eclectic taste in foreign films, I simply bought a ticket to the next available show, which turned out to be a Taiwanese film called 'The Missing.' Not only did I get a discount because my bank happens to be a sponsor of the 40th Chicago International Film Festival, but I only had to buy one ticket. Brains get in free. (Either that, or the ticket was for my brain, and the rest of me got in free. Not sure which way that works).

Brain and I picked out a nice comfy seat, and settled in to watch the film. Another nice perk about foreign films is the lack of loud and/or giggling teenagers. But no previews. I guess no movie-going experience can be perfect.

"The Missing" is a really interesting film. Although the plot centers around two characters who are searching for family members who have gone missing, you realize through the course of the movie that it is they themselves who are lost. It's really a film about lonliness, and a self-imposed lonliness at that. Yet it's not actually a sad film. Thought-provoking, certainly, for it emphasizes how easy it is to be alone in a city fulll of people, and how unaware we are with respect to what goes on around us. But somehow it's not sad. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I would only recommend it to aficionados of very foreign films. Not only are the film techniques, and the directing and editing styles, far different from what comes out of Hollywood, but there is also a strange recurring theme of scenes that take place in a bathroom. I still haven't quite figured out the symbolism of that. There were also references to George Bush, Saddam Hussein, and SARS (though not in the same scene), which I'm mulling over.

I wouldn't say this is a good date movie. Certainly not for a first date. But Brain and I had a wonderful time. In fact, it was the best date I've had in a very long time. (The only one in a long time, but we'll focus on the positive for now)

This blog gives its Big Date with Brain an enthusiastic two thumbs up. I had such a good time that I even took Brain home with me at the end of the night.

My Big Date

The Chicago International Film Festival is running through Thursday of this week. It seems like prime date opportunity to me. There were numerous films on Sunday alone that I wanted to see. Sadly, I have no one with whom I can share this week of interesting, intellectual movie-going fun. Then I had a brilliant idea.

I can take myself to the movies! And so, tonight, after shopping with Becky, I plan on taking my brain out on a date. I think this is a fabulous solution. After all, my brain provides me with an endless source of amusement, so I know I'll have a good time. I don't have to worry about which movie to pick, because I already know my brain's tastes and preferences. Admittedly, my brain is a little crazy sometimes, but that just keeps things lively.

Why do I need a companion, let alone a male companion? I'm my own hot date. Maybe I'll even buy myself Twizzlers.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Quote of the Weekend

Blog: They spend a lot of time on their backs.
MJE: Well, they have to spend their time someplace.

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Perfect

10/17/04, 17:20
As usual, Cara was correct, and I was wrong.
Signed, MJE

Truer words have never been written on a cocktail napkin. I think I should frame it, and treasure it forever.

(For those interested, my buddy Mark wrote this down after several instant replays made it clear that the pitch was completely outside the plate, and that the Astros' batter should not have been called out. I may not know much in this world, but I do know my baseball.)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Chesed and Gratitude

An email conversation with a friend prompted me to think a bit harder than usual about chesed and gratitude. On one hand, I think too many of us (with the exception of this particular friend) forget to express our appreciation to and for the people around us. "Thanks" is easy to say. So why does it sometimes seem like such a rare word to hear? Or to hear it said with sincerity? On the other hand, I, personally, get embarassed when people thank me frequently. I have no idea how to handle it. I don't like being taken for granted or taken advantage of, but at the same time, I don't really like being thanked overmuch.

The explanation for the second part (I can't really called it a reason, since there might not be anything reasonable or rationale about it) is that acts of chesed, little or big, make me happy. I enjoy helping someone out, whether I know the person or not. It makes my day better. It makes me feel better about me. It somehow seems selfish (for lack of a better word) to accept gratitude and praise for something that makes me feel better about myself. Now that I think about it, shouldn't I be thanking other people for giving me the opportunity to help them out, since it results in an increase of my own happiness? If someone gives me the chance to do a mitzvah, I should be grateful to them. Not the other way around.

Where is the balance? Being thanked too much makes me feel embarassed and somehow selfish (for accpeting gratitude/praise over something I was happy to have done). Not being thanked at all, however, means I'm being taken for granted, which I can't stand. And how did an act of chesed come to be all about me, anyway?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Sum of Somethings

A little over a week ago, I expressed my frustrations with my own limitations. More specifically, I was unhappy that I was unable to do more to help a woman who obviously needed help. It's about time that I posted a follow-up.

It took me longer than I'd thought to track down the name of the management company. I thought my alderman's office would know, but they only keep lists of condominiums, not rentals. I hunted around online (if I were truly as smart as I pretend to be, I would have simply picked up the phone and called one of my two friends who live in that building. Guess I'm not so smart after all...), and finally found the number. So I called. No answer. I didn't want to leave a message, since it would have sounded extraordinarily convoluted, what with me not being a tenant and all. So I called again later. No answer.

A few days ago, I got an email from one of my friends in the building. She'd seen the elderly woman again, and she seemed just as confused as she had the week before. Another one of the tenants was helping her. So my friend called the management.

The next day, I got another email from my friend. She'd talked to the management. Turns out that other tenants had called as well. The management had gotten in touch with the woman's family, and arrangements were being made for her to have a full-time nurse.

There's obviously a limit to what one person can do in certain situations. A phone call, a helping hand...they can seem like such little acts sometimes. But when you add up all those little acts, made by many people, it turns out you end up with a lot. Sometimes something really isn't enough. But a whole lot of somethings...that's a different story.

We can make a difference. We just can't always do it alone.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Important Announcement

It has come to my attention that I have neglected to inform you, my devoted audience, of a very vital piece of information. I have been depriving you an important Fact O'The Universe:

Avi makes awesome hot wings. He is also the Guru of Cholent.

Now you all know. What you choose to do with this crucial piece of knowledge is entirely up to you.

My Quest For Computer Independence Part 2

I'm Free! My laptop arrived today. With the help of my wonderful maternal unit (let's be honest...she did all the work. I watched "A League of Their Own" with my paternal unit in another room entirely), my quest for computer independence is almost complete. I don't know exactly what she did to the computer (or what the previous owner did that had to be redone), but she's currently getting it set up for wireless internet. No Western Union scams for this smart shopper! AND the computer is under warranty still, so even if the previous owner screwed it up badly, I can get it fixed.

I have a piece of machinery to call my own. I feel so grown up now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Meet Me In St. Louis

My chag was delightful. Almost perfect, really. I'd forgotten just how beautiful St. Louis is this time of year, and just how heimisch the community there is. As I got on the plane on Tuesday afternoon, I found myself thinking (as I always seem to do), 'Why am I going? What am I doing?' But as soon as I got off that plane, I remembered why I was going and what I was doing. I was going because that community is as much home to me as my native Chicago, and I was visiting friends who had become family during the years I spent with them.

When I got to St. Louis, I had no plans whatsoever for any of my yontif/shabbos meals. By the time my friend Chasiah and I had lit our yontif candles, we had 4 out of 6 meals taken care of. We'd planned on cooking those remaining two meals and inviting people over. Instead, we ended up accepting invitations from other families at shul, despite the fact that I'd bought enough food to feed the entire populations of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia combined. And I sadly had to turn down invitations from other families who had not known that I was coming into town, and therefore did not have an opportunity to claim me in advance.

I can't remember a Simchas Torah when I drank less and laughed more (not a single drop of bourbon...go figure!). I think I had a goofy, glowing grin on my face for the entire 25 hours. I danced so much that my legs didn't want to move the next I went to shul and danced some more. I sang until my voice was shot, and kept on singing anyway. I played with babies and kibbitzed with the sisterhood. I raided the box of taffy apples (they store the box in the same place every year...) and helped in the kitchen. I saw old friends and made new ones. Much thanks and love to Chasiah, Aaron, Corey, Sheryl, the Shafners, the Fredmans, the Nemuses, the Katz-Orlows, The Novacks, and the entire Bais Abraham community.

I wish everyone in my shul in Chicago would be able to spend a shabbos at Bais Abe. It's such a remarkable place. You have a little bit of everyone: Lubavitch rabbis, women in pants, college students who are shomer negiyah, college students who aren't fully shomer shabbos, old men whose native language is Yiddish, families with small children, you name it. But there are little to no tensions or politics. The biggest arguments seem to be about the use of the kitchen, not about who is too left-wing or who is too right-wing. Those tensions just don't seem to exist. That kind of negativity is a foreign concept. It's so beautiful to be a part of, and very difficult to leave behind. It's a shame that a shul so lovely is such a rarity.

The rest of my weekend was equally delightful. Motzei shabbos, I left Chasiah's and relocated to Tabitha's. We contemplated going out on the town and having a bit of crazy girl fun, but instead decided to stay in. We settled down with some wine, some chips and guacamole, and season 4 of Sex and the City, and stayed up talking until 4:30 in the morning. I haven't had a night like that in a very, very long time. Slumber parties are wasted on children. Sunday was late and lazy, and ended in meeting Helen and Scott for coffee before heading to the airport.

All in all, my trip was phenomenal. A perfect and much-needed break from the balagan that is my life.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Happy Happy! Joy Joy! #10

My Shabbos crew in St Louis used to insist that I, of all the ladies, would be the first to get engaged. I, however, said that Rebecca would be the first to go. She had a distinct advantage over me in the form of a serious boyfriend, willing to travel to another city to be with her after graduation, whereas my love life bore fewer identifiable signs of life than the surface of Pluto.

After a year and a half, we finally have an answer.

I'm delighted to send a Mazel Tov out into the void to Rebecca Belzer and Ari Elias-Bachrach on their engagement this past Sukkos. (And yes, Ari is the same serious boyfriend. Or was, before he had the good sense to become her fiance)

I love being right. So let me just say this once and get it over with...I told you so!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Prodly's New Officemate

To my great surprise, my office plant, Prodly, is still alive. I can't say that he is flourishing, but at least he's not dead. He now has a companion: a pretty fern that I inherited from Avi.

It's a lucky fern. Avi inherited it from a friend who moved to Israel. Avi just moved to Israel a year or so later. Now the fern is mine.

So I've named it "Tizkoret," which means "reminder" (which I guess makes the fern a girl-plant. Only fair, since Prodly is a boy-plant). My reminder of the friend who gave Tizkoret to me, and everything I learned from him. My reminder that winter doesn't last forever, and that summer isn't really that far away. My reminder that I will make it to Israel if I want it badly enough.

And my reminder to water the plants on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

When Something Just Isn't Enough

I had an unexpected experience this afternoon, and I can't get it out of my mind. I had been helping my friend Ronit carry some things into her apartment, and we were waiting by the elevator when a door down the hall opened. It was an elderly woman looking for a nurse to clean her up from an accident. After only a few moments, it became obvious that this women suffered from rather advanced dementia, and that she should not be living alone.

She has a nurse, but does not know the nurse's name or phone number. She has a son, but does not know his phone number. According to other neighbors, who had come back after trying in vain to find the super, the son had been taken away by the police, because the woman had complained about his treatment of her. She thinks she had a stroke a while back, but isn't sure. She's apparently left alone in a large apartment building, with no way to contact the outside world.

I went in to her apartment to clean her up and change her into a clean, dry set of clothes. She didn't know where her clean clothes were kept. Or if she had a laundry bin. She's confused and scared, and virtually helpless. And while I was there, she asked me if I would come back. "Will you come back and check on me?" she asked. "To make sure I'm not dead?"

I said that I would. What else could I say? But I have no way to get into the building, so I can't possibly check on her. I left her my name and phone number, which she misplaced a moment later. So I put it directly into her hand, although I knew that she'd either lose it, or forget who I am and why she's supposed to call me.

When I left, I called the Department on Aging. And I called 911, so that the police could check on her. I don't even have a way of following up and making sure that the police went over there, and that she is ok. I have no way of knowing if this poor woman is alright.

I know that there's little more I can do. Tomorrow, I'll try to contact the building management, and let them know that I'm the one who notified the police, and see if I can find out more about this woman, so that she can get the care she needs. My wonderful mother, who has been a clinical social worker for over 30 years, will call the Department on Aging and make a report as a professional.

Logically, I know that I've done everything within my power. Emotionally, however, I feel like I haven't done enough. I keep asking myself 'What else? What more?' But I have no answers, and the helplessness is eating at me.

The A-Train Has Left The Station

It's a bittersweet weekend here in Cara's World. My wonderful friend Avi is, at this very moment, on an airplane bound for the HL. It's a one-way trip. I am, of course, excited for and proud of him for going, because he's following his heart and his dream. And what more could one want for someone they love? I'm also sad that he's no longer here in Chicago. And incredibly jealous, because he's doing what I've only managed to talk about.

The Israelis have no idea how lucky they are. Avi is an amazing, inspiring person. If I didn't think it would embarrass him, I'd start listing the many qualities that make him so phenomenal. It would also turn this post into the Great American Novel, because that list is endless. I have much to be grateful for, and having Avi in my life is way up there. He's truly a gift from Hashem.

I've never really been very good with goodbyes of any kind. Someone who means a great deal to me is no longer nearby, and I miss him already. Missing a friend in Israel is acceptable. Being sad because of the void left in my life in Chicago seems selfish. After all, I hope to leave before 5765 comes to an end. How can I justifiably be sad, simply because he left first? How can I let myself cry and be gloomy over something that is making him so happy? Should my friends stay and bury their own needs and dreams just for my sake? That's absurd.

So, since I refuse to be selfish, I've come up with a solution: I did not say goodbye. The last hug and wave as he left for the airport simply didn't mean goodbye. Goodbye is so final. Goodbye is depressing. Instead, that hug and wave meant "Lehitraot". IM"H, we'll see each soon, and the next hug will be in Israel.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Four Years Later

On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount. This was used (IMO) by Israel's enemies as an excuse to start the second Intifada. Thousands of lives have been lost in the ensuing four years. The official count of Jewish lives lost is 1,017. I don't even know how many wounded there have been. Or how many of those wounds are permanent. Nor do I know how many Arabs have been killed or wounded.

Four years of bombings, rocket launches, rock throwings, shootings and a vicious media campaign to delegitimize the only Jewish state in the entire world. Four years of trying to destroy a nation whose only true "crime" was daring to breathe. Naturally, to their logic, their own dead and wounded are our fault as well. If we'd been more obliging, and simply let ourselves be killed off, then the past four years wouldn't have been necessary.

Only a few days ago, we spent 25 hours focusing on, and trying to atone for, all that we'd done, both as individuals and as a collective community/nation, in the past year. Today, on this 4th "anniversary" of the start of the second Intifada, I can't help but reflect back on the past 4 years: what they've done to us, and how we've responded.

I can't claim that everything we've had to do has been good or wise. I can't say that I've always agreed with the government's policy, either the US government or the Israeli. But I can honestly say that I think, for the most part, we've done what we can to protect Jewish lives and Israel's existence, with as much regard for the wellbeing of the Arabs living on Israeli land as possible. Can they claim that they've done the same for us?

May the new year bring peace for Israel and the Jews around the world. Let this be the last "anniversary" of such efforts to delegitimize and destroy us.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Morning After

I'm always surprised by how many people seem to dread Yom Kippur. I look forward to it, to be honest. Sure, I miss the whole eating thing, but I don't think one day of fasting is really that big of a deal. I don't even mind all the many hours of davening. The only thing that really bothers me about being in shul for the majority of the day is the inability to get away from all those people. They're everywhere. Behind me. In front of me. Next to me. After a while, I start to feel a bit claustrophobic.

Despite the fact that Yom Kippur sort of requires davening with a minyan, I've always thought of it as the most intensely personal of all the chagim. So I don't really want to be surrounded by people (particularly people who are talking to one another. One memorable year, the three ladies behind me insisted on talking about banana bread.). I just want to be able to have my own conversations with Hashem.

Somehow, every year, on Yom Kippur I manage to come to terms with issues that have been bothering me, whether they're emotional, logical, whatever. Feelings towards other people, towards specific events or situations...they all seem to make more sense to me. Or, at least, I gain an acceptance of whatever it is I'm feeling. This year was no different.

Now Yom Kippur is over. Despite all my intentions and resolutions to the contrary, I know it will not be all that long before I start to fall back into my usual patterns of behaviour, and my world becomes muddled and confusing once more. But for right now, everything still makes sense. It's a pretty spectacular feeling.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

My New Quest for Computer Independence

I thought I bought a laptop this morning. Not only that, but I thought I'd managed to get myself one helluva good deal, being the magical creature than I am. I found someone who was selling a new, in-the-box 12" Apple ibook for $850. We emailed, I got prompt answers to my questions, and all seemed well. I was very proud of me.

And then the good people at send me a notification that my order has been cancelled. The seller is "temporarily unable to receive payments." After frantically calling my bank to make sure that I haven't just lost $850 (IM"H, my account should be corrected by midnight), I contact the seller, wondering if he/she/it will be fixing this problem and reposting the item on Amazon once again.

The gist of the very prompt response: Possibly, but in the meantime, here's a special offer just for you. You send me the money by Western Union (the seller is in the UK), and I'll send you the computer. If you're not satisfied, contact me within 2-3 days. I'll send back the $$, and you send back the computer.

Is it me, or does this sound a bit dodgy? I have a feeling I should look about for another laptop.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

And So It Begins...

It's erev Rosh Hashana, my challah is rising for the second time, and I find myself with a little bit of down time before I must leave for the office. So I sit here, with my new and extremely adorable kitty Calvin on my lap, and I do what I do best...think.

It's been one hell of a year here in Cara's World. I know that there were times when life didn't seem so great. There were obviously periods of "Meh" because I know that I blogged about them. Yet now, as I try to recall the past year, I can't think of what those negative times were all about. All that comes to mind are my family and my friends, both new and old, which reminds me of what I've already realized: Life is about the people in it.

As 5764 comes to a close, and we all look ahead to 5765, I find myself looking beyond that to 5766. Where will Cara be then? B'li neder, Cara will be in Israel. While many decisions are not yet made, I've managed to make up my mind about one. I will not be applying to graduate school this year.

That means that I have this coming year, 5765, to decide how to get myself to Israel, and what to do with myself once I get there. More than that, it means I need to make sure that I appreciate everything and everyone that I'll be leaving in the United States. Though I deeply envy my friends who have just made aliyah, or who will soon be leaving for the Holy Land, I know that this isn't my time yet. The desire is there, but I'm not ready. So I have a year to get myself ready, in every possible way.

But before I can leave 5764 behind me, there is something that I ask from all of you, whomever and wherever you may be. I've written a great many things since I created my little world here, some serious, some sarcastic, and some just downright silly. If anything I have written, whether on my blog or on yours, has offended you, shamed you, or hurt you in any way, I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.

May 5765 be a year of bracha, simcha, chazuk and shalom for you all, and for your loved ones. A year of blessing, of joy, of strength, and of peace.

And as for me? L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim!

Monday, September 13, 2004


Not only has my own blog posting time been limited lately, but so too has my blog reading time. For this reason, I did not know until a few minutes ago that one of my favorite blogs is shutting down.

Mo-C is retiring. Or at least taking a sabbatical from his MoChassid blog. He'll still have others, but this one will be no more. And this saddens me.

I first came across Mo-C's blog through Velvel, earlier in my blogging career. While he and I may not always agree (particularly on matters pertaining to men, women, and friendships between the two), his blog and his comments have always been worth reading. Unlike yours truly, Mo-C wrote about issues that actually matter. I'm just another ego-centric blogger who decided that other people need to know what I'm thinking. He actually wanted to make other people think.

To Mo-C, I hope this is merely a respite from blogging. I, for one, will miss your perspective on the Jewish world.

To the rest of us in the blogosphere, I hope we can somehow fill the void left by Mo-C's absence. Maybe the time has come for us to rise to the challenge, and to use our blogging powers for good instead of evil.

Tomboy In Lace

Frank Sinatra sang a song called 'Nancy' that had a line somewhere in it about a 'tomboy in lace'. That's kind of how I've been feeling the past few days. Over shabbos I wore what may be my girliest outfit- fragile, pink, and flowy. Very feminine, and something I would not have dreamt of trying on, let alone buying, a year ago. Or six months ago, for that matter.

And then Becky and I went shopping yesterday, because we both needed new clothes for yontif. Well, she needed new clothes. I just like buying something new, because my wonderful grandmother, a"h, always wanted me to have something new for Rosh Hashana and Pesach. One of Becky's outfits was a very snazzy, stylish red, black and cream number...three of the colors I wear most. My purchases? Pastel. Both of them.

One lilac, one pink, both flowery. And you know what? I like it that way!

I Need A Weather Vane

Last week felt long. It should have been a very fast week, since I didn't have to work on Monday. Yet instead it dragged and dragged. There are two reasons for this: my best friend's mother was in the hospital (now recovering nicely, baruch Hashem), and I'm trying to decide the course of my life.

It a rather pathetic epiphany, I realized that I haven't had to make many major life decisions thus far. True, I'm still a little pischer. But my past decisions, even the ones that seemed huge at the time, weren't such a big deal. For example: I had to choose which college to attend. Obviously my choice shaped who I became in those oh-so-formative years, and I believe that I made the right choice, but the really crucial aspect of that decision was made by my parents. The decision was not whether or not to go to college, but simply which college I wanted to go to. They chose my path- I only decided how I was going to travel.

And now I'm trying to decide what to do next fall. Do I follow the path that my parents, and Big Brother, chose, and go to grad school? Or do I pick my own path, and go to Israel to do I-don't-know-what? I'm leaning heavily towards Israel. In fact, I've almost decided to not apply to grad school at all. And earlier today, I filled out and submitted an online application for Livnot U'Lehibanot. (Not sure it's the perfect program for me, but that's a different subject altogether) But it's definitely keeping me up at nights, among other things.

I'm a thinker and a planner. I map things out, and try to figure out all the angles before hand. I suppose that makes me a very cautious person. I don't like taking risks in my personal life, and I'm rarely capricious. Part of me wants to, very uncharacteristically, just see where the wind takes me. Get myself to Israel, and figure everything else out when I get there. But the rest of me wouldn't mind a 5-day forecast...just so I have a better idea of what to expect and what to pack. So any of you psychics (but not psychos) or meterologists out there: your advice is most appreciated.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Love In The Fast Food Industry

Around Mother's Day, KFC was advertising a special promotional "Bucket O'Love" as an ideal way to show Mom how much you care. Because nothing says love like a bucket of dead, deep-fried poultry, right?

Now Burger King has commercials advertising a CD with songs that will encourage you to "get your love on". Granted, I was only half paying attention to the commercial, so I don't know if it's in jest, or if this CD of "love" songs truly exists.

Either way, since when is there a correlation between love/romance/getting your groove on and fast food? There's nothing seductive about a Whopper. A Happy Meal, perhaps, but it really depends on whether or not you're getting something better than a miniature Barbie doll. As a rule, though, hamburgers just don't go all that well with candelit dinners. And fried chicken does not convey love and appreciation unless you actually take the time to make it yourself.

What's next? An ad campaign suggesting that men propose with onion rings?

Fog, Frankie, Farbrengiton and Friends

There's something very wrong with my brain. I think I broke it in Israel, because it's just not working properly. I can't remember what I was going to blog (after stupidly telling myself that I didn't need to write it down). I couldn't remember what I'd been working on when I was in the office on Friday. This morning, I put a mango in my purse to eat as a snack, and forgot about it entirely. Until I met Becky for coffee and, wondering why my purse felt so heavy, put my hand in and found the mango again. It's definitely the first time in my life I've been able to say with complete honesty, "I have a mango in my purse". My brain just seems wrapped in this nearly impervious fog.

Despite the fogginess, I can provide a bit of a Weekend Report. I spent the bulk of my weekend with a puppy. My friend Allie has the world's cutest 3 month old Cocker-Bijon named Frankie. (Big Brother correction: Allie is not just a friend. Allie is Big Brother's stupendous girlfriend. And Frankie is 'theirs' and not just 'hers') I fully expect Guinness to announce in the near future that Frankie is the holder of the new World Record for Cuteness (at which time I will, of course, gracefully relinquish the title). She's just adorably little and fluffy and cuddly and incredibly silly, and you can't help but smile when she's around. However, after spending my whole shabbos with Frankie for company, my conversational skills dropped to the level of "Good potty, Frankie!" The other downside was that I found myself with far, far too much time alone with my brain. Quiet time= Thinking time. Thinking can be dangerous. I definitely believe there should be times when I'm prohibited from thinking.

Other than enjoying the cuteness that is Frankie, I also enjoyed the musical talents of Farbrengiton, as well as the company of other Farbrengiton fans. Although it was slightly odd when a guy approached me and began the conversation with "You're Cara (insert last name here), right?" He was right, but I still don't know how he knew my last time. And since I also recently got a phone call from the local Chabad, wanting to "discuss a few things" because they know that I was active in my Hillel and generally like to be involved in the community, I'm really wondering how all these strangers suddenly know so much about me. When did I become so popular?

The highlight of my weekend (not that random phone calls and unknown men knowing my last name wasn't fantastic) was hands-down being able to spend time with my two best friends from high school. I honestly can't remember the last time all three of us were in the same room at the same time. Which could easily be a result of my brain fog, but I do know it's been a while. Other than the fact that one of them has since acquired a fiance (gasp! My first experience as a bridesmaid!), not much has really changed. Which is the best part of all.

So there you have it: Frankie, Farbrengiton, my wonderful friends, and a weather forecast of fog that shows no signs of lifting in the near future. I still can't remember what I was originally going to blog. But I do know that it was ironic.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


I've been meaning to post. Really, I have. But then I get home from work, and I can't remember any of the thoughts and random observations that I had intended to post. I need to start jotting down said thoughts and random observations. Or else I need to devise a telepathic blog, that reads my mind and posts my thoughts for me.

That would actually be pretty cool, now that I think of it. Dangerous, though. There are a lot of rather bizarre things that go through my head, which probably should not be unleashed and allowed into the Blogosphere.

I will try to do better with the blogging. So, for starters, I'll recap one of my favorite moments from my vacation...

My first weekend in Israel was spent in the Old City. Actually, both my weekends were spent there, but this story concerns the first one. It was Sunday night, and I was coming back from the Kotel. As I approached the Cardo, I could hear singing, and, being my normal inquisitive self, I went to go investigate.

The singing was coming from three guys, most likely yeshiva bochurs, but more of the crunchy guitar-playing variety than the black pants and white shirt variety. Indeed, one of them was playing a guitar, while one of his friends danced. Zemer after zemer they sang, and the one guy continued o play whil his friend continued to dance. At one point, a young haredi boy came to dance as well. Shortly after, a group of five or six yeshiva bochurs (this time, the black pants, white shirt kind) joined in the singing and dancing as well. All along the steps surrounding the Cardo, other men stood and clapped and sang along. The entire area was ringing with their voices and the echoes of the clapping. And the most beautiful part of all was that there was not blatant reason for the singing. The only simcha was that it was Sunday, and they were in the Old City.

And that was simcha enough.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Emotional Jet Lag

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Due to work-related pressures and obligations, I've found myself shoved back into L.B.I. (Life Before Israel), and it's been somewhat brutal. I remember going through this a bit when I came back from Israel in January 2003, but it was far milder then, undoubtedly due to the fact that I had no job in those days. Logically, it should have been harder back then. After all, I had nothing in particular to come back to America for, so why bother coming back?

No, it's much harder this time. There are parts of my life in Chicago that I enjoy, and people that I love, yet there is a voice in my head saying "You came back for this?" And it's very, very difficult to ignore that voice.

So I do what I always do in such situations, when I find myself doing what I'd rather not be doing, or being where I'd rather not be...I dream about the day that I can be where I want, doing what I want to do. And I plan for a way to make it happen.

It took my body less than 24 hours to adjust to being back in Chicago, back on my working gal schedule. It's taking the rest of me much longer to catch up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Getting Started

I finally have a few minutes of blog-time, and now I don't know where to begin. I'd originally thought that I'd post a day-by-day account of my trip, but that would take more time than I have, seeng as how it's taken me this long to post anything of "substance". And then there is the fact that my life is pressing forward, as life tends to do, so I have thoughts about things here in America that are blogable.

But I'll start with Israel. My trip was amazing, in every possible way. When I look at my pictures (which I got developed on the day I cam home), I'm reminded just how beautiful everything i Israel seems to be. The sky is a more vibrant blue, the trees are a deeper green, and the colors of the sunset are more brilliant, particularly when it sets over the impossibly blue waters of the Mediterranean. Strangely enough, you'd think that Chicago would seem duller and dabber by comparison, but in the 6 days that I've been home, I've realized that everything here now seems brighter and more vibrant than I'd previously recognized or noticed.

The two weeks were mostly spent just being in Israel, absorbing and relishing that unique and somewhat indescribable feeling of "right" that comes from just being there. Whether I was strolling along the beach, shopping in a shuk, having a drink with friends, davening at the Kotel, or simply findng a quiet spot to think and write and sigh over how happy I was, everything just felt right. I think Avi phrased it best: it's the only place where your neshama isn't yearning to be elsewhere.

So what did I do while I was there? That's the question everyone keeps asking, along wih "So, how was your trip?" The first question I find legitimate. The second seems a bit silly to me. How was my trip to Israel? Do they think I'm going to answer "Meh. It was alright" ? The question should be "How awesome was your trip?"

Since my bit of blog time is coming to an end, I'll answer the first question in brief. What did I do? I reminded myself of many things I had forgotten, about myself, the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of life I want to live. I remembered my priorities, and the things that are truly important in life. I laughed, I cried, I haggled (albeit poorly), I met up with old friends and made some wonderful new ones, I did nothing, and I did everything. How's that for starters?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Service Announcement

Blogging will be very slow for the foreseeable future. I know that I still have yet to post anything substantial since my return from the HL, and I will try to rectify that sometime tonight.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Doctor Is In

That's right, folks, the wait is over. The drought has ended. The traveler has returned.

Did ya miss me?

Since I'm sure you're all curious about my trip, there will be many, many posts to come about what I did and where I was and what I was thinking at the time. But you may have to be a bit patient.

Just be content for now with the thought that Cara's World is once again open for business.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Travel Advisory

For those of you who have somehow managed to miss the fact that I am leaving for Israel this weekend, this post is for you.

I'm leaving for Israel this weekend. I will not be back until August 18th.

There will be little posting, if any, during the time that I am away.

I should probably leave you with some original words of wisdom, but I think the famous philosopher, Bill S. Preston, Esq., said it best:
"Be excellent to each other."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Shopping for Love

I apologize for the lack of posts in the past few days. It's been rather hectic here in my world. But since I'm about to leave you all for a few weeks while I go frolicking and scampering across the HL, I figure that I owe you an insight into my mind before I leave. This was the brilliant analogy that popped into my mind on my way home from a last-minute shopping excursion after work yesterday.

Finding the right guy really isn't all that different from finding the perfect outfit. Some outfits don't even inspire you to try them on. Some look great on the hanger, but simply don't fit you when you give them a try. Others actually fit fairly well and even look half-way decent, but you know deep down you'll never actually wear them, but will just leave them hanging in the closet. Still others fit well and look good, but are just more than you can afford. And then there are the last ones, those true finds that you simply have to have, because you know you'll regret it if you don't.

Of course, there are a few flaws in this analogy. When I go shopping, the clothing has no say in whether or not I take them home with me. And clothing has no feelings. Although I may, at times, experience regret, the clothing could not care less, and probably does not share that regret (Ok, so maybe this part does apply to guys).

Becky says I'm good luck when shopping. Yesterday I not only managed to find exactly what I was looking for, but I found it at 75% off the already marked-down price. So, as Becky pointed out, I may not have found the right guy (yet), but at least I've got a killer wardrobe!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Smashers Final Update

The regular season is now over. After a rather sad game in which the Smashers gave up an 8-4 lead, we finish the season with a 3-4 record. We had some good hits, but a few too many fielding errors and fault decisions. Still, it was a fun game. I did not get on base again, but I had at least one decent catch at 2nd base.

So ends the season for me. As I frolick in the Holy Land, I'll try to cheer the Smashers on to an amazing post-season. If I remember to, that is. I have a feeling I'll be a bit distracted.

T-6 Days

I leave in under a week. I'm so excited that I can't really express it in any other way than to bounce up and down and sing the "I'm Going To Israel" song. It goes a little something like this:

I'm going to Israel!
I'm going to Israel!
I'm going to Israel!

The best advice that I've been given so far definately comes from my uncle: "Have a great trip; try not to shake up too many yeshiva bochurs and whatever you do, don't come home with one!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

In Case You Were Wondering...

Thin Mints and peanut butter really don't go all that well together.

Consume This!

I'm a kind of girl. I check the website several times a day. Normally, like most frequent 'Net surfers, I simply ignore the various advertisements, having trained my eye to only see that which I want to see.
Today, however, a particular ad on the homepage caught my eye. It was a picture of a large platter of shrimp. Looking more closely, I saw that this was a consumer survey link, with the heading "Dinner at Red Lobster On Us!" Reading on, I see that it is really offering a $50 gift card to Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Applebee's, and many more (personally, I'm more interested in the "many more").
Seems like a great offer, right? Fill out the consumer survey, win a $50 dollar dinner. There's just one problem. We (i.e. Jews) don't consume shrimp. Or lobster. Or 99% of the items offered at any of these restaurants. Didn't they get the memo?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Smashers Update

We won! Woohoo! We crushed the other team, and won by slaughter rule in three and a half innings. The game was over quickly enough that we decided to keep playing, unofficially, just for fun. And even then, the Smashers batted through the entire line-up in one 'inning'. But it gets even better than that...
I got on base! Twice! And this time, it was legitimate. Truth be told, I should have been out at first the second time, but the first baseman didn't make the catch. My first at-bat, however, was a gorgeous, MLB quality line drive over the third baseman's head, right down the baseline. They didn't stand a chance.
Next week is the last game of the regular season. Since I'll be frolicking in the Holy Land after that, I'll miss the playoffs, which makes this coming Sunday my last game. It's a little scary to think about how fast the summer is going by.
Smasher's record: 3-3. One game left. I already achieved my goal for the season, so I suppose there's nothing left to do but surpass it. I'm going for an extra-base hit. There will be no stopping me. I am a softball hitting machine.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Life Through My Eyes

I was walking from the bus stop to the grocery store yesterday after work, and my brain broke somewhere along the way.
Admittedly, I was very tired. But as I was walking, I saw, at the end of the block, two large, vertical reddish objects in the middle of the sidewalk, facing one another, with bright yellow zigzagging up and down. I, logically, assumed they were two men dressed like giant hotdogs.
As I got closer, I realized that it was really just red scaffolding with yellow caution tape wrapped around both posts.

It would have been so much cooler if they'd been giant hotdogs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Shul Debate: Follow-Up

Before I begin discussing the topic itself, I want to thank and applaud both Velvel and MO-C for the way they responded to my post. The tone of it had been angry and a bit abrasive, but they looked past that to read what I was trying to say. Instead of getting defensive, they both examined their own words, and took my post to heart. Velvel and I had a mature conversation about the issue outside of the blogosphere, making sure that our friendship was not damaged by our differences of opinion and/or blogging styles. It just goes to show that even the blogosphere can be menschlich.

As for the issue real cause for concern was not, and is not, the subject of break-away minyanim. Mo-C is tackling that debate in a couple of separate posts. Nor is my concern really about the difficulties of finding a comfortable place to daven in our "hip" neighborhood. Velvel is covering that well enough.

My concern is with the distinction between venting and lashon hara. My friends here in Chicago, who I respect and adore and for whose friendship I am grateful to Hashem, have been growing increasingly negative and critical over the past six months. Hardly a shabbos goes by now where something or someone does not come under attack because it is different from what we, as a group, tend to prefer. Sometimes the criticism is justified. Yet sometimes I feel it really isn't, and it's just complaining for the sake of complaining. That sounds harsh, and someone will undoubtedly disagree with me on this.

So here's an example: the rabbi recently wrote a small piece for the weekly shabbos bulletin. One of my friends saw the rabbi's name at the bottom of the essay, and immediately snorted and dismissed it out of hand. I called my friend on this, asking why the essay should be dismissed before it is even read. My friend later read it and acknowledged it to be interesting.

Was the snort really necessary? I don't think so. Yet the snort, and all it symbolizes, has become commonplace at our shabbos meals. Divrei Torah, on the other hand, are growing increasingly rare. I'm worried about this trend that I'm seeing in the people I care about. None of us are such chachamim or tzaddikim to be at a level where we have the right to judge what others are doing. I strongly believe that when you search for a reason to be unhappy, you'll soon find what you're looking for. I also believe the opposite, and that we have so many positive sources of inspiration around us, and in each other, that we have no cause to spend so much time dwelling on the negative.

I know that some of my shabbos crew are in the habit of reading my blog every so often. And so I'm going to use the power of the blogosphere for good instead of evil (the quest for world domination will just have to wait), and issue a challenge:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spend an entire shabbos without unnecessarily voicing a criticism or negative comment about anyone or anything associated with the shul (this includes the rabbi, the Board, the davening, the time we finish Adon Olam, and the length of the announcements). Every time you feel the urge to speak negatively, speak a word of Torah instead. Try it for one whole shabbos. Somehow I have the feeling that our shabbos ambiance (and our neshamos) will benefit from it.