Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stick Mosquito: Band Name or Future President?

Introducing the 2008 Presidential Chinese.

Although I'm pretty certain that we've already elected "Barbarian Mud No Mind of His Own".

If Only Numbers Lied...

Earlier this week, I gave in to impulse, and started "seriously pondering" making aliyah. A good friend of mine asked me what "seriously pondering" meant...did it mean just fantasizing about it, as so many on this side of the big blue(ish) ocean so often do, or did it mean actually beginning to plan?

I think of it as something in the middle, closer to the planning end. "Seriously pondering" means, for me, to go a few steps past just idly dreaming, and to start taking a cold, hard look at the steps involved, and then determining how close I am to being able to make those steps.

Talk about a reality check. Cold water in the face. Insert cliche here.

I actually didn't get much farther than the Nefesh B'Nefesh website, to which I am no stranger. I don't know why it hit me so much harder this time around, but I realized that, financially, it's just not going to be possible to make aliyah after I graduate. And yes, I realize that making aliyah is rarely a financially practical move. I'm not talking about practical, I'm talking about possible.

NBN offers suggestions for what the first 6 months in Israel would cost, as an olah hadasha...and it would take everything that higher education hasn't already taken. After 6 months, I'd be broke. And that's if I were able to ship every appliance, article of clothing, and home furnishings that I would need. It leaves no wiggle room.

Wait, there was something else...oh, yeah! Student loans! I still have student loans!

Honestly, this is depressing. While I wasn't really pinning my hopes on being able to make aliyah next summer, it's hard to let go of that remote possibility. But really, I just won't be able to do it. I would really just be setting the stage for an eventual return to the States.

So, for all my friends out there who love to ask when I'm making my move (*cough* Trep *cough*), it looks like I'll be a tourist for at least a couple more years. I need to fill my piggy bank and shoo away some of those loans before we can be neighbors.

On the plus side, I did find some surprisingly encouraging info about my professional prospects in Israel. While finding a job will most likely be difficult, and I'll have to take a lower status job, and my field isn't highly paid in any country, my work experience in the States may actually help me negotiate a higher salary. Turns out that social workers in Israel are 'graded' from alef to yud alef (alef is the highest) based on experience. (I don't know if this is equally true for other professions). So, essentially, being forced to work a few years in the States with my shiny-new MSW may actually, ultimately, be helpful once I really can make aliyah.

This may be the silver lining, or I may just be fooling myself. Either way, I'll take it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Circle of Friends, or Friendly Circling?

I've found myself musing on the strange, inexplicable process of making friends. One of the aspects of Life in Chicago that I'm still struggling with is the absence of a tight-knit group of friends. I had one in college. I had one in Chicago a few years ago. But people get married, have babies, move away, grow apart...and I've found myself on the fringes of the social scene, with no group that makes me feel as though I really belong.

Sure, I go out. Almost every Saturday night, and often during the week. But, with few exceptions, I rarely go out with 'good' friends. Instead, I go out with people I'm friendly with, always hoping that some of them will become 'good friends'. Real friends, the kind that you can call just because you feel like chatting, not because you have a question. Friends who share inside jokes with you.

For some of these friendly, occasional drinking buddies, I do feel as though we're slowly starting to become real friends. The part that I muse on is this: When did it become so difficult to make new friends (and not just acquaintances)?

I don't remember the process of become close with my college friends. We went from acquaintance to friend without really working at it. Same with my old chevra, now scattered to the winds. We met, we clicked. Was it really that simple, or is memory just selective? And if it was that easy, why does it suddenly seem so hard?

(Note: This is not to say that I don't have good friends. I do, and I'm grateful for them. Nor are all of them from the college or pre-college years. I have made some wonderful, close friends since graduating. Some of them even still live in Chicago.)

I'd hoped, when I moved back to Chicago last May, that I would make new friends, and create a new, satisfying social scene for myself. I was terrified of falling into the social rut that had partially sent me scurrying off to Israel the year before. And while I'm not quite back in that rut, the threat of it still looms. That wished-for social scene never quite came to be. Is it me? Is it a natural part of *gasp!* getting older? Or do I just think too much?

Snayim Stats- Week Four

We lost. Again.

We keep running into this problem in the first inning. We just don't really get our act together until we've been playing for a bit. Unfortunately, by that point, they've already put more runs on the board than we have.

First inning: We score 2. Although, in reality, my first at-bat did advance the runner, I was pretty disappointed in my puny hitting. Bottom half of the inning, they score 6. See above paragraph. This is a recurring issue. 6-2, them.

Second inning: We score 2. They score none. We feel better. 6-4, them.

Third inning: We score none. They score 1. We're determined to make up some of the deficit. 7-4, them

Fourth inning: We score 1. They score none. The gap is closing. 7-5, them.

Fifth inning: We score none. They score 4. This is not looking good. 11-5, them.

Sixth inning: We score 1. They score none. 11-6.

Seventh inning: We don't score. End of game, final score 11-6.

While this game certainly didn't have the excitement of last week's (which is good: means no trips to the hospital), it also lacked last week's momentum. Last week, the lead kept flipping up until John got hurt and we just fell apart. This week, the only time we had the lead was during the top of the first, because they hadn't gone to bat yet.

My personal stats were dismal. I was 0-3 this week. My fielding was pretty solid, though. And, I do have to note, for my last at--bat, the other team could be heard telling each other "Move back, she can hit!" That was soothing, especially since I didn't think my previous performances deserved such praise. The other noteworthy moment was after I relayed the ball from the right fielder to 3rd base, and heard the other team call out from the bench "Good throw!" I curtsied. They laughed.

Next week, I'm acting as captain, since our fearless leader will be out of town. I've never captained a softball team before. It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Estrogen Levels Reach All-Time High

It all started with the haircut/donation (And yes, despite my anxiety, the haircut is very cute and I've received many compliments).

As soon as I had my shorter, sassy 'do, I decided that it was time to color my hair a more vibrant shade of red. My curls are now "Ruby Twilight".

No sooner did I decide to color my hair than I, upon noticing a Sale sign in a local shoe store, decide that I need sassy new shoes to go with my sassy new hair cut and color. I walk out with 3 pairs of shoes, although I told myself after buying 3 pairs in Montreal that I was done buying shoes for a while.

Then I went home and touched up my eyebrows. And then I decided that it was a good time to exfoliate, tone and moisturize. If I'd had time, I might painted my fingernails to match my recent pedicure.

I vaguely remember this happening the last time I donated my hair. At the time, I chalked it up to pre-Israel excitement. I don't have that excuse right now. So, I must conclude that getting a hair cut causes estrogen levels to rise, creating stronger-than-usual urges to primp, polish and purchase. I don't know if this is just a natural phenomenon that occurs post-haircut (seeing as how I only get haircuts once every two years or so), but I think this is like a girl version of what happens to men once they start doing home improvement and repairs. As soon as they fix one thing, they notice all the others that they should fix. Or so I'm told.

Should I Speak to My Financial Advisor?

My family has a long tradition of noticing ridiculous store names and signs, and then laughing at them. One classic was a nail salon with a neon sign stating "Nails: Head to Toe." In the obnoxiousness of childhood, I once called the salon and asked to make an appointment to have my head nails done (do Jews even have head nails? Or just horns?). I had to repeat the question 3 times before they hung up on me.

There's a clothing store that I walk past on a regular basis which keeps making me giggle. They seem to have very trendy clothes, but for some reason call the store "Buffalo Exchange." I can't help wondering:

How many clothes can I get in exchange for my buffalo? And if I decide to return the clothes, do I have to take the buffalo back?

I am so tempted to call...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Less than one hour until I venture forth to get my hair cut.

I find myself wondering if this is what the sheep feels like right before it's shorn...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Day At The Races

I love my job.

I don't know if I've ever felt that before. Certainly not in my pre-Israel desk job, or in my post-Israel desk job. Nor my job as a metapelet in Israel. I loved my time at Yad L'Kashish, but that was technically a volunteer gig.

This is not the first time I've realized that I love my current job. I just felt like this was noteworthy enough to blog. I guess the reason that I'm constantly so pleasantly surprised at how much I love this job is because 1) I've never loved my job before, and 2) I never envisioned myself in this line of work.

(For those unaware, I've spent the past year working in a pediatric center as a behavior therapist, working primarily with children on the autism spectrum.)

Today provides a great example of why this job rocks. On Tueday afternoons, my supervisor and I lead a social group for 2 very cute, high functioning autistic children. The whole point of the group is to teach them how to play together. Today's theme was Transportation. So, among other things, we made child-sized cars out of cardboard boxes, decorated them, put them on the kids, and then played 'Red Light, Green Light'.

Cars looked something like this
(but much cuter).

I also had fun putting on one of the cars and running around in it for a few minutes.

How can I not love a job that requires me to make arts and crafts projects with adorable children, play with adorable children, and then lets me get away with running around in a cardboard car?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Snayim Stats

We lost again. This one was really heartbreaking.

Top of the 1st:We started off the game batting first, and quickly put two runs on the board. I like to think this is partially due to the strategy session we had after Thursdays practice, conducted over pizza and beer (or hard cider and ice cream for us gluten-intolerants). The batting lineup will change from week to week, depending on who's able to come to the game. Originally, I was going to bat 2nd, but the league has a rule about how many boys can bat successively, so I ended up batting 3rd instead. Two outs, none on, and I hit a double. Andy bats after me, and brings me home. Andy makes it home before the inning ends. 2-0 Snayim.

Bottom of the 1st: the other guys score 2. (I'm playing 2nd base. Turns out I really like playing 2nd base, and I don't seem to be too awful at it). Tie game, 2-2.

2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings: We score, they score, we score, they score. We go into the top of the 5th down two runs. Score, 7-5.

Top of the 5th: We're back at the top of the order. Our lead-off man, John, makes a solid hit, an easy triple. He stretches it into a homer, taking out the catcher on his way. And dislocates his shoulder in the process. John goes off to the hospital, accompanied by his sister (also one of the Killer Snayim), and one of our outfielders. We're now down to only 3 girls, which violated league rules, but the ump lets us keep playing. We're all fairly rattled by John's sudden trip to the hospital, and the inning ends quickly. 7-6, we're down by one.

Bottom of the 5th: We just can't get our heads back in the game. They score several runs before there are any outs. Then they score more. And a few more. Score: 16-6. If we don't score in the next inning, we lose by slaughter rule.

6th inning: We manage to put one run back on, keeping us alive. And then give up two. Slaughter rule goes into effect, we lose 18-7.

This one really hurt. We'd been playing well until John's injury. But I can report that he's doing well, with no serious damage. One week in a sling, and then he'll be back out there.

For those who care, here are my personal stats for the game: Batting- 1/3 (1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout where I didn't even go down swinging). Fielding- 1 or 2 really solid plays, and 2 where the shortstop and I realized that we need to learn to communicate better. But at least I didn't drop the ball this week.

So ends week three. Next week, as John commands us, we'll "win one for the gimper!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I am such a weenie...

I made an appointment for next Locks of Love donation. This will be the 3rd time in less than 5 years that I've donated my hair. I should be somewhat used to this. There is no reason to feel any trepidation about having my hair cut.

Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself?

I know it's a mitzvah. I know that some little girl needs my long curly locks more than I do. I know that my hair will grow back, and relatively quickly. After all, if I'll be hacking off at least 10 inches of hair for the third time since November 2002, then my hair has grown over 30 inches in 55 months, so I'm growing at least half an inch per month. As I've said before, I'm kinda like a Chia Pet- water me and watch my hair grow.

And yet, despite all of this, I am a total weenie about having my hair cut. And msot of it is sheer vanity. I like my hair long. The uber-long, uber-curls are like my signature look. And I do not like my hair short. The first time I donated my hair, the only person who liked the result was my mother. Probably because I looked like a six year old (from the neck up, that is), and she could relive the memories of Wee Little Cara. The second haircut was actually really good (which is why I'm going back to the same salon- Tres Ambiance, on Lincoln. Insert plug here). So I know it's possible for me to look good with short hair.

And yet, as soon as I hung up the phone after making my appointment, I was visited by the Ghosts of Bad Haircuts Past (and Future), and now have visions of all the many ways I might emerge next Wednesday.

Maybe I should drink heavily beforehand. That way, if the haircut turns out awful, I can somehow blame it all on some stupid drunken escapade, and it will go down in Cara history as another funny drunk story. Or maybe if I get a little teary-eyed, they'll give me a lollipop for being such a good girl.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Carasworld: The Book?

There's this girl that I know from college- she was a year or so behind me, but we shared a lot of the same drinking buddies and Jew pals. We grew apart as we grew up, especially after I graduated and was no longer on 'the scene'. I have no idea if we'd have anything to really talk about anymore, other than college memories and people we know.

I randomly discovered that she has a blog now, one that she hopes to use (according to the blog itself) as a jumping off point for a book about being a twenty-something in the twenty-first century. The idea is intriguing. Gain a following, write a book. I've often thought that it would be fun to write a book about life through my eyes (particularly if I include some of the thoughts and escapades that don't make it onto this blog).

There's only one problem...who cares? Seriously. No matter how funny, witty, poignant, insert-PR-word-here such a book had the potential to be, it would never really be about life as a twenty-something. It would be about life as this twenty-something. And I'm just not certain what the mass appeal would be.

Unless you turn it into a screenplay for a farcical comedy about single life. Considering the weirdos that get sucked in by my gravitational pull, that might not be such a bad idea...

(Management Update: I'm completely joking. I have no interest in writing a book or screenplay about my tiny little world. I'm not quite that ego-centric)

Monday, June 11, 2007

I am a Killer Squirrel

As alluded to in my previous post, I have joined a softball team this summer (part of the same Federation league I played in several years ago). It's co-ed, 16" softball, with some of the screwiest rules you can imagine.

We're the Killer Snayim (translation: Killer Squirrels). There's no real story behind the name. We just thought it was funny. The other two options were Kadurim ("Balls") of Steel, and Machbet ("Bat") Out of Hell.

We're now two weeks into the season. Our Stats so far: 0-2. Based on our record, you might be able to surmise that we are not, in fact, very good.

Our first game was a disaster. We lost by slaughter rule, 14-1. 8 of those runs were given up in the first inning. Our one run was a lead-off homer in the 1st inning. Half of our team had never met before gameday. I did manage to get a base hit.

This week's game wasn't as big a disaster. We lost 9-4. Six of those runs were given up in the first inning (I'm noticing a pattern...) by a new team member who really wanted to be pitcher. He loaded the bases on walks, and then gave up a triple. Then walked some more players. Then gave up more hits. I think one of those runs was walked in. It was painful.

I played horribly. I did hit a single, but it was such a weak hit that I'm still not sure how I got on base. And I had a sacrifice RBI. But I can hit much better. (Solution: get to the field early enough for batting practice before the game starts.) My fielding was also sub-par, by my own standards. I, literally, dropped the ball with a force at 2nd. Had I held on, it would have been the 3rd out. (Turns out, no harm done. We got the next batter. Still, Big Brother taught me better than that)

Stayed tuned for more updates on the Killer Snayim.

Hello, My Name is Cara...

...and I'm a Bookaholic.

(Your cue: "Hi, Cara.")

I accidently slipped into my "curl up with a good book" winter mode this weekend, and completely missed out on some of my favorite Summer-In-Chicago events (i.e. Blues Festival, Printers Row Book Fair, Old Town Art Fair). I don't really have a good excuse. I was just lazy.

I exerted myself enough motzei shabbat to send out a couple of text messages to see what people were up to. One friend wrote back, suggesting we go to the Blues Festival. I wrote back that I would be interested...and then curled up with a good book, and neglected to make any phone calls or pursue fun Saturday night activities. (I was saved from total lame-ness by a midnight phone call from a friend in need of I got off the sofa, quickly made myself presentable, and hit the bars.)

Sunday started off well enough- I was up bright and early for a softball game, and then we went out for lunch afterwards. (Mmmm....shwarma at 11:00am) My Sunday afternoon plans were canceled, so I sent a text message to a friend, went home...and curled up with a good book.

Five hours later, my friend called, having only just received my text. Had I exerted myself enough to actually call, I might have joined him at the Old Town Art Fair (where, incidently, he ran into an old summer camp friend that I had been trying to track down for ages). Or, I could have just gone to the Art Fair by myself. Or gone to the Book Fair by myself. Or done anything to take advantage of a beautiful summer day in a fabulous city.

Now, I could probably blame technology, for making it so easy to send a text message, thus saving me the effort of having a phone conversation. Or I could blame books, for being good and luring me onto the sofa for hours. I could also blame my friends, for not calling me and staging a Bookaholics intervention.

But, the sad truth is that I'm lazy, and far too comfortable staying home with a good book. This contradicts everything I have promised myself about taking advantage of summer, and having adventures. Maybe this is my wake-up call. No more wasted weekends. Books are for rainy days and Saturdays (and somehow, I feel like I'm quoting song lyrics, but I cannot for the life of me remember what song it is), or weeknights when I get home too late (and have to be awake too early) to responsibly go out and adventurize.

So maybe it's a good thing I missed the Book Fair. It would have been like buying drugs to feed my habit.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Yet Another Reason for Cara to Make Aliyah

How many times have my friends heard me say, "If only Israel had baseball..."?

In 15 days, Israel will.

With the creation of the IBL, I can now realistically dream about marrying a professional baseball player. (Obviously, I don't much care how good they are. I'm a Cub fan, after all.) Some of them are pretty cute, too.

I think I may actually know one of the players on the Modi'in Miracle. Now I have to decide if that's reason enough to be a Modi'in fan, or if I should wait until the season starts before choosing an allegiance.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

End of an Era

Now that I'm all growed up, special Daddy-Daughter time has lately taken the form of watching The Sopranos together on Sunday evenings. (Surprisingly, we also used to watch Sex and the City together as was only awkward 10% of the time).

This Sunday, however, is the final episode, and my father and I spent a good hour last night speculating on possibilities for that last hour. Those of you who do not watch the show will find this post boring. Those that do...your opinions are welcome.

Some possibilities include:
1) AJ gets killed (though this may be wishful thinking), probably through some stupid mistake of his own doing. Tony comes out of hiding to attend the funeral of his only son. Showdown between Tony and Phil Leotardo.
2) Phil Leotardo approaches Paulie about turning on Tony. Paulie proves his loyalty by offing Leotardo.
3) Phil Leotardo is so consumed by his hatred of Tony that he miscalculates and leaves himself vulnerable.
4) Little Carmine emerges as Leotardo's successor.

These are merely speculation, of course. My personal favorites are possibilities #1 and #3.

Monday, June 04, 2007

German Youths Pay To Treat Impotent Ostrich

If anyone can explain to me why this article is currently a headline on, I would be very appreciative.