Sunday, September 28, 2008

To The Readers Of My Blog

To my millions of readers (okay, okay, so there are only a small handful of you. Shhh),

With Rosh Hashana nearly upon us, I'd just like to apologize for anything I might have posted or commented or otherwise expressed to anyone that was in any way offensive, upsetting, or unfair. It is especially common on the internet for people to be misunderstood because, as useful and amazing as this medium is for communication, it is lacking some crucial things like tone of voice, facial expression, and the like. Therefore, I know that I have misunderstood some of you, and I have also felt misunderstood at times, and I would like to put those misunderstandings behind us. I also hope that we can all, myself included, try harder in the future to look at things from another person's point of view instead of being so quick to contradict.

I would also like to wish all of you a kesiva v'chasima tova and a shana tova and just a really meaningful, but also fun, yom tov filled with raisin challah, honey, and weird fruit. May this coming year bring with it only good things for you all and for Klal Yisrael as a whole, and, also, I hope I continue in friendship with those I have become close with over this past year.

Shana tova!

Sincerely,

Erachet

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Forgive Me

Although, truthfully, I haven't heard it at all this year (yet), generally when it gets close to Rosh Hashana, hallways, sidewalks, gchats, facebook messages, cell phones all ring with the token phrase: "are you mochel me?"

There are so many times throughout the year that we wrong each other, both intentionally and unintentionally. It's actually quite comforting to know there's a designated time each year for both forgiving and for getting forgiven. Getting forgiven, not just by God, but by our friends and family, as well.

But there's another important person to remember to forgive. Yourself. How many times do we think lowly of ourselves or don't give ourselves enough credit? How many times do we do something to our own detriment? How many times do we pass up opportunities or fail to rise to our potential? How many times do we not trust ourselves? And how many times do we feel frustrated about all of these things, which only makes us feel even worse?

Yet how many times do we actually give ourselves a break? How many times do we accept our faults and struggles and difficulties from the year not as things which make us bad but just as things we, as good people, have to work through? How many times do we actually forgive ourselves?

I think it's about time we did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ordinary

The thing about being ordinary is that there's more than one way to do it. People confused unique with "extraordinary" but it's not true. Most people I know are ordinary, yet they are also all different and I appreciate them all for their differences. But if you asked them, they would say they were completely ordinary and nothing special. Except they are special. Even though they're perfectly ordinary.

The thing about being perfect is that it's impossible and, those who come near to achieving it...no one likes those people. Those people are threatening and patronizing because they live up to these high standards that most ordinary people can't reach. It's better to be an accepted part of society who other people can relate to and, because of that, who can make a difference on most other people, than to live on another plane that no one else can understand. You don't want to be viewed from a distance, even if you're viewed with awe. I think being perfect must be a sort of social/emotional handicap because you can't relate to others and others can't relate to you. So I think we should all be happy with our imperfections and ordinariness that enable us to actually be a part of the rest of society. Maybe then we can have a real impact.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Windows

Sometimes you look into mirrors and see yourself, but there are other people in the background. Sometimes you look into windows to see someone else, but there it is again, your reflection, very dim but still there. You can "walk in someone else's shoes," you can take a look from someone else's point of view, but you are still yourself. You will always be yourself. You can't not be you.

Events happen in your life, yet you are still you. You try to understand other people, but you do it with a bias called "yourself." Even if you look straight into someone else's eyes, your reflection will still be there.

I guess we have a choice. Do we see things as merely reflections of ourselves or are we able to see them as windows to someone else, or somewhere else, or something else.

Maybe this is reserving judgment. We can't get rid of ourselves, but we can see past ourselves. The world does not have to be a mirror. It can be a window, with just our dim reflection in the background - there, but not impeding on our vision to the rest of everything.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Problem With Bad Poetry: Revised

(This is what we call the process of revision. Some people don't believe in revising poetry because they think true poetry is just an immediate expression of your deep, inner soul and that's what makes it art. I, on the other hand, highly disagree. Poetry is a craft. And this is why this version of the poem is better than the one I posted earlier. Enjoy!)

Poetry conceits.
Claiming she understands the world
By throwing around words like love, eternity, desire, darkness, soul
When really she knows nothing at all
Except abstraction
And pompous generalization that passes for wisdom
Because it leaves room for every contradictory answer
In the vastness of those weak, empty words.
But what does she know about the ache of an arm raised in the air
As the student waits too long to be called on?
Or the grating of a teacher's voice
As he lectures his pupils to sleep
Or the burn of a paper cut
The suffocating claustrophobia of knowing that no matter what
You won't go to bed before three
And you have nine o'clock class the next morning
Hearing your friends laugh in the next room
When you have a paper to write
The favorite color of the three-year-old you babysit
The fact that your brother puts ketchup on everything
The way chocolate erupts in a milky-sweet lava on your tongue
The gripping panic of startling awake in the night when the light's burned out
The tremulous anxiety of messing up (a test? a friendship? both at once?)
The shaky relief of discovering you haven't
For some poets
Do not partake in the world of ants in your kitchen, ink on your hands, sand in your socks
Some poets
Dismiss the little things
Cracker crumbs
Muddy footprints
Overstuffed planners
For some poets
There is only love, eternity, desire, darkness, soul
Forever.

The Problem With Bad Poetry

Poetry conceits
That one believes she understands the world
By throwing around words like love, eternity, desire, darkness, soul
But really she knows nothing at all
Except abstraction
And pompous generalization that passes for wisdom
Because it leaves room for every contradictory answer
In the vastness of those weak, empty words.
But what does she know about the ache of an arm raised in the air
As the student waits too long to be called on?
Or the grating of a teacher's voice
As he lectures his pupils to sleep?
Or the burn of a paper cut?
The suffocating claustrophobia of knowing that no matter what
You won't be able to go to bed before three
And you have nine o'clock class the next morning?
The pang of exclusion when your friends laugh in the next room
But you have a paper to write?
The exhaustion that envelops one who spends all day focused on other people?
And the warm joy which erupts within when you know a friend appreciates your help?
The tremulous fear of messing up?
The shaky relief of discovering you haven't?
For some poets
Do not partake in the world of the common man
Dismiss the little things that make up each day
Discount the ordinary.
For some poets
There is only love, eternity, desire, darkness, soul.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being There

This song is from the musical Wicked and it is one of the only songs I know that truly portrays the sentiments between two close friends. While listening to it recently, I came to understand something about friendships that I had been struggling with before. The song is all about how a good friend can influence you and this influence leads to change. However, a friend cannot "change" you. You change yourself based on how you've been influenced.

Similarly, when seeking advice, a friend can be there for you and advise you, but cannot actually solve anything. A friend can be a guide but it is you who has to take that final step to internalize all the guidance you've received and use it to direct yourself back to the place where you want to be. It's always a struggle when you turn to your friends for help and find that while they're helping you, you feel better, but then the feeling doesn't last. This feeling of disappointment and renewed stress comes from the expectation that your friends are the ones who will be able to make things better for you, when really only you can make things better for yourself.

This is not to say a person is alone. Not at all. It's like in stories when the hero goes on a difficult journey and has friends helping along the way - sometimes along the entire way. But there is always that crucial moment at the end when the hero has to step up and overcome the final challenge on his/her own. The hero always has to take one extra step further than anyone else, but the friends are there to cheer the hero on, give guidance, and to receive the hero with open arms when the final task is completed.

Essentially, change and growth are strongest when they come from you, but the pain of the struggle can be much soothed with the support of friends.

Friends are like the safety net which catches you when you fall off life's balance beam. True friends are there for each other as much as they can be. True friends care about and look out for each other, and they have their friends' best interests in mind.

True friends are real.

Of course, there's always the question of how much a friend should invest in someone else. It's always important to remember to take care of yourself, not just your friends.

Sometimes, though, if a friend is particularly down, it's nice to have a reminder of that safety net. Sometimes you may feel very alone, even if you have many friends surrounding you, and it is during those times when it's nicest to hear the words, "I'm here for you." Just those words alone, the knowledge that you are not alone, that your friends are there with you and supporting you and even holding your hand a little, can give strength enough to overcome struggles, and to overcome them on your own. Being aware of your support group - of your safety net - takes away a bit of the fear of falling, because you know there is something there to catch you should that happen, and once that fear is gone, it becomes much easier to plow forward on your own. It is also kind of nice to know there are those who truly care about your success.

But how strong is friendship, really? Often it happens that we become out of touch with those who were once close to us, or sometimes friends just grow apart - or even have a falling out. Does this make friendship fleeting? I agonized over this for a little while and came to the conclusion that the above situations do not A. decrease the value in the friendship that used to exist B. mean those friends don't still think about each other from time to time C. mean those friends don't still carry a part of each other that once influenced them (or continues to influence them) and made them such a part of each other's lives.

If you are close enough, chances are you will have a lasting impact on someone else's life, even if it's something really small. Friends leave traces of themselves in each other. What a person does with these traces is up to them, how a person changes is up to them, but the fact that the impact is there cannot be denied.

Anyway, this song is for all those I've become close with over the years, whether I'm very close with them at the moment or whether I'm no longer in touch with them at all (of course, the lines about parting don't apply to people I'm currently friends with, since it would be very sad to think of permanently parting with them, but they do apply to those I'm not sure I'll see very much of again).



May we all surround ourselves with the right people - the ones who help us to grow and whom we help in return. The ones who leave positive lasting impressions on us. It's hard not to feel insecure sometimes, as I'm sure many people feel, and hope that my friends are there for me, even while knowing that of course they are. I guess I just really hope, no matter what, that I have grown and continue to grow and that I have the strength to be able to face every new challenge with confidence, and I wish the same for all readers of my blog, whether I know them or not.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reflection

Self-reflection is always a good thing to do once in a while. Sometimes things are very confusing, though. Anyway, I like this song.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Am The Cheese

I stole the theme of this poem, and the title of this post, from an actual book called I Am The Cheese. I read the book in junior high and don't remember it too well but I remember really liking it. In any case, I liked the idea too much not to steal it. It's not like this poem is getting published anyway so I don't really mind that I took the idea from somewhere else. Sometimes writing serves more purposes than just to write something original and good. Depends what you're writing for.

I Am The Cheese

The farmer chops wood
From the trees in the dell
The dog runs to greet him
The cook rings the bell

The children play tag
And invite me along
I can run very fast
But I get the rules wrong

I help feed the chickens
I help milk the goat
We visit the horses
And chase out the stoat

It's time to eat supper
We all go inside
The cat seeks attention
The others provide

The blue sky turns orange
Then purple, then black
We get in pajamas
And sneak one last snack

The farm in the dell
Shuts the light, goes to bed
Though by candle we children
Tell stories instead

Then they drift off to sleep
With the cows and the sheep
And the crickets outside
Wake to sing and to weep

They're all one with the world
And the world is all one
They don't mean to exclude
And they don't mean to shun

I slip out to the dell
They won't notice I've flown
Because I am the cheese
And the cheese stands alone.

Clearly, Some Philosophies Aren't For All People

Sometimes, I think philosophy should be simpler.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Orange Sky

Orange Sky

orange sky
why do you laugh?
as I compose
this epigraph?

is it because
the stormy tide
has cocked your head
and sparked your pride?

yet fleeting sky
you tease and jeer
but come the morning -
won't be here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Important Things

A few important things happened this week or are about to happen:

1. My first ever real best friend got married this past Thursday. I couldn't be at her wedding because it was in Israel and I couldn't exactly skip my first week of school (sadly). The weird thing is - even though we don't speak a lot because of time difference and just the different directions our lives have taken, there is still a really strong bond there. Her family made aliyah the summer after first grade - so we were both only six years old. But my earliest memories include her and her family. We've been best friends since we were a year old. That's something special. Not everyone is still in touch with their friends from that long ago. We see each other nearly every time either I go to Israel or she comes to America and our families just have a very special relationship that doesn't require constant contact in order to stay strong. In a weird way, it's almost like a long lost sister of mine has just gotten married. I know that's kind of hard to explain, but when I was looking at her wedding pictures, that's what it felt like.

2. I have three friends making aliyah on the Nefesh b'Nefesh flight tomorrow. Each of them is from a different part of my life, although they sort of overlap, too. One is a boy (I know, I know, co-ed friendship, co-ed summer camp, blah blah) I went to Moshava with for a number of summers. We're part of a very tight group of seven friends and...it's just really hard to explain us. It's sort of like a clique but in a very noncliquey way. It's like a kind of family, in a way. We've all gone our separate routes (although two of the people in this group are marrying each other later this year...), but we're all focused on ending up in Israel (actually, everyone except one other girl and myself have accomplished this already - or have definite plans to do so). I miss all of them a lot - many of them I haven't seen in ages because, well, they're in Israel. Sigh.

The second friend is a girl I went to Harova with and the third is a girl I became friends with in Stern (in Ivrit class, actually - at least one good thing came out of Ivrit at Stern!). So basically, someone from my teenage years, someone from my year in Israel, and someone from my college days (which are still going on) is making aliyah on the same flight tomorrow. So if I go to the airport to see them off, it will be something like facing various parts of my life all joining to take a powerful journey together. Except I will not be with them, which is sad for me. But mazal tov to them and much hatzlacha!

3. Mavis (my brother) started high school. This means my family is officially old - we're all high school and up!

4. Last Sunday, we saw Straight Man (my other brother) off to Israel for shana bet.

5. Trademark not only started her senior year of high school this week, but she is DRIVING.

6. A week and a half ago, I started my last year in Stern. Which is scary.

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Making Messes (And Cleaning Them Up)


See? Making a mess is an important learning experience!

Good Shabbos, everyone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Full Of Contradictions

Today/night I am:

1. Exhausted
2. Too restless to sleep
3. Too hot
4. Kinda chilly
5. Quite thirsty
6. Don't have an appetite to drink anything

And, scarily, for someone who hates taking naps - I took two today.

I am all mixed-up.

Can't I Handle The Truth?

Y'know...I've always considered myself to be an English Literature major, but today, I received the insult of insults. I was told I was coming at things from a scientist point of view!

Apparently, I am too practical for the world of literature - or, at least, for literature as read through the eyes of a philosopher. Why? Simply because I believe that it is important to make the distinction between fiction and reality.

Of course, that begs the question - what is fiction? If we define fiction as something that is "untrue," then just because a story is fabricated does not necessarily make it entirely "fictional" in the context of distinguishing it from "reality." Yes, it is a story of fiction, but it may also contain many truths and those truths are definitely not part of the fictional aspect of the tale.

Therefore, I do not mean to suggest that there is no practical purpose to imagination or to stories, nor am I saying there is no value in them - even if we can't find them to be particularly practical in our every day lives - but I do feel it is imperative to recognize fiction for what it is.

I am a creative writer. I spend an awful lot of time conjuring up fictions. That does not mean I don't recognize them as fictional, even if they are based on me or on actual events or emotions. Even children who play imagination games and get so completely engrossed in them...even they recognize that what they are playing is something from their imagination. They know that when they go in for supper, they are stepping out of the game for a little while. They can see that there are two worlds - the world of adults and the world of the game. They do not think the adults are playing with them. They know fiction from reality. It could be that they create a new reality for themselves during the game, but they still can tell the difference between that reality and the tangible reality that exists outside their imaginations.

There is a difference between hoping, dreaming, imagining and actually believing that something exists when it does not. How can there not be infinitely more value in being true to one's self and one's reality than in living a shallow life of lies and illusions?

And there is a difference between those shallow lies and illusions vs. using your imagination to deal with reality. For instance, in A Little Princess, Sara uses her imagination to help her get through her Cinderella story. She knows that what she imagines is not real, she does not go around sincerely telling people that she is imprisoned in the Bastille (for instance), but she allows herself to go along with the game just enough that it helps her get through her troubles.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there is creating a world of imagination, and then there is living a life of illusion and delusion and denying reality altogether. This latter thing is what I'm against. I find it unethical to allow such delusions to go on in someone else and I find it a shallow existence to deny reality in favor of illusion.

With Northanger Abbey, there would have been a big difference if Catherine had only hoped to find a Gothic story going on at the abbey, or even played a game that there was one, as opposed to actually believing one existed. If she was only playing, she would have allowed herself to slip into her imagination and deliciously pretend exciting things were happening. But the fact that she went so far as to intrude into Henry's dead mother's rooms, and the fact that she actually accused Mr. Tilney of murdering his wife to Henry's face - and in all seriousness, too! - shows the danger and preposterousness of allowing yourself to believe that it is perfectly okay for fiction - true fiction - to be substituted for reality.

But this does not mean I am against imagination - believe me, I am all for escaping into your imagination. I just don't believe in substituting fiction for reality. Yes, I see them as separate, though there are some blurring of the lines, and yes, I see value in both.

So, alright, perhaps I am too practical for philosophy. But I have a perfect imagination and yet I am still able to be true to myself. And that's what counts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Learning To Breathe

I have come to the realization that all students love to complain. Well, all people, for that matter, but especially students. It's not that we want things to complain about, but if there is ever anything at all undesirable or unpleasant in our paths, we are ready, waiting, to pounce on it with every creative complaint ever invented. These complaints range from small grumblings to out-and-out melodrama (which is usually very amusing to watch).

Me, I like to not allow myself to get so stressed. After all, feeling stressed to the point of being unable to perform won't make the annoying work go away - it'll just make me unable to do it. This, perhaps, is why I am so far the only one I know about in my Lit. and Philosophy class who actually finished reading an overly complicated and obnoxious essay we're supposed to write about.

I have my share of stresses, but I guess schoolwork is the one thing I love to complain about but yet doesn't actually make me feel too stressed. Or, not usually, anyway. Sometimes it's good to just allow yourself to breathe a little, you know?

On the other hand, sometimes if you feel stressed or annoyed, the best thing to do is to vent it out and then start working. 'Cause you can't write a paper if you're all mad at it (if you know what I mean).

For instance, I'll vent something. Just what is the deal with philosophical essays being so snobby and obnoxious?! I mean, I understand that they're trying to explain difficult concepts, but that doesn't mean abusing the thesaurus while doing so!!!

Sheesh.

[Okay, that helps me breathe a little better :) ]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pockets

There is an integral part of clothing that guys seem to have in abundance but that is decidedly missing in many articles of clothing for girls. This is so completely unfair that I think it is time to take a stand. No longer should girls be forced to carry around bags or purses - we want pockets.

Yes. POCKETS. You know, those little sacks inside pants and very few skirts in which to store small items like, say, a cell phone?

The desire for pockets goes way back to the times of Peter Pan, who says:

"Oh what pleasure
She'll bring to us
Make us pockets and sing to us"

But should only boys have pockets? Girls are there to sew them for boys?

Nuh uh. No way. I don't think so.

Things have gotten so bad that the following conversation actually took place this afternoon:

SJ: Purses are so annoying.
Erachet: Yeah. I think we should all advocate for pockets!
Madd Hatter: [completely and utterly serious] Pockets? What are those?

[SJ and I give her a look of astonishment]

Madd Hatter: [slightly confused at the way we are looking at her] No, really! They sound like something I would like!

You heard that right, folks. Us girls are even forgetting what pockets even are! We've got to demand them before it's too late!

WE WANT POCKETS!