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?