Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When the ships come ashore, will we know which one is Ours?

I am, in fact, alive. I'm in D.C., where in the evenings it smells like honey suckles and during the day it's hotter than hell. If I believed in hell, that is. The humidity ... even just a few minutes in it ... makes you feel like dying. But I figure since I don't give two shits about what anyone here thinks of me, I unloaded my car 'round 2 today and then went to Whole Foods in my crappy clothes, unshowered, and probably smelling like tuches. It was glorious, and the $6.00 salad I bought was totally worth it. Am I broke yet? Yes. I am. Thanks for asking.

On the way out I stopped in Iowa and spent time with Patrick. We ate delicious tacos at this joint called Tasty Tacos (yes, you can buy T-shirts) and went to the High Life Lounge and drank High Life. Then there was Chicago, which, well, was a trip. I'm going back there, it's decided. Come hell or high water, I'm heading to Chicago in three months to see just how poor and downtrodden I can become. It'll be fun, I promise. Some of the sites of Chi-town were shown to me by my gracious host, Ian, who can be seen in a few photos. I'm particularly fond of the one of the little girl running, though my appreciation for the shadows with the arm is poignant. Then there's he and I.

Driving through the mountains in the morning was dreadful, and aside from my stop in Wheeling near a giant Cabela's (I had to stop for dinner at Applebee's, where I acquired some pink beads left in the booth by some child, surely) ... where I ran into a few old men from NYC with a license plate that read "NO GELT" ... it wasn't that great. I stopped in Hagersomethingorother and slept in the parking lot of a grocery store at around 2 in the morning, before waking up and trucking on to D.C.

The plan was to stay with Heather in Baltimore, but when the exit approached, I just couldn't do it. So I drove around Tenlytown and Glover Park, poking around near the National Cathedral trying to find my apartment. When I did find it, I was overjoyed. I parked my car on the street (yah for holidays!), grabbed my top sheet, comforter and suitcase, got my keys, and climbed right into bed. An IKEA bed. It's glorious. All of the furniture in my room is IKEA. Talk about brilliant...

Anyhow. I've changed my plans, my goals. Copy editing is a means, but it isn't the end. No, I really want to teach. I want to keep learning. I want to be that professor who won't get her head out of the book and ILLs books from the far reaches of the globe studying ... well ... Judaic Studies. So when I'm done in D.C. ... I'm heading to Chicago. I've got multiple reasons to go there, but mostly:

A) I love the city
B) There are a bajillion schools there for which I can apply to
C) I love the transit
D) My future (so ambiguous) is there.

Times they are a'changin' folks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What a Feeling

What he said is echoing in my head. It was said in casual conversation, but it's on repeat in my mind: "You're not moving, you're leaving." It's such a small, simple phrase. It really probably didn't mean much at all, but I can feel it, and it hurts. There are probably five people in Lincoln I'm deeply going to miss when I'm gone. And, well, he's one of them. But that's beside the point. "You're not moving, you're LEAVING."

Build your world with precious words -- says Chabad.org. Seems we live in a world of words, and without words sensations are no more than thoughts. Words of wisdom for the day.

I've become more scattered lately. I need to refocus.

Emotion fills the Hole

It's that anxious, nervous feeling inside my stomach. The one where everything I eat makes me sick. Where I sleep in the afternoons because the weight of the world is pushing. It's an uncomfortable feeling. It's magnified by people saying things about money and the future and history and sitting in an auditorium where 10 years ago I was a child. I was just a child, and now? I'm not sure what I am.

And I'm not sure what to do with this lyric, that I read on a friend's blog:

"I don't care if forever never comes, 'cause I'm holding out for that teenage feeling..."

It's Neko Case. I feel like it's immature in it's essence, but that it's how I feel sometimes. But maybe I want both. Maybe I'm just confused.

I'm worried I won't get to hit up my first Shabbat Cluster, and it makes me pretty damn sad. I want to get involved. I want to meet some nice Jewish folks ... something.

I'm kind of lost right now.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

When we're sitting under the Stars

The reality is that I'm leaving some amazing people. People who make me smile with the simple presence of suspenders. A lost goatee makes me upset and a simple cigarette in a familiar hand makes me smile and ignore the taste of tobacco it puts in my eyes and ears and mouth. I'm leaning on old friends. People who I worked with and for and I'm not losing touch, and it's comforting. I smile at people under the stars and sky of Lincoln, Neb., and for now I know that I'm not walking out of lives, just away, for a little while. We all have to, I think. Well, OK. Some of us anyhow. But it doesn't feel bad or guilty or lost. I put phone numbers into my cell phone and I take pictures of people smiling and talk about the times that we _______. You know those times. It's hard. I'm learning. It's hard.

But it makes it easier to keep friendships alive, I think. And I've decided there's people I need to say certain things to. Things like "I'm sorry it took me so long to realize that you mean something eternal to me. Thanks."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Note: Commenting is now open. Sorry for those of you wishing to comment and being unable to do so. My bad.

And a quote for you, by the man, George Orwell:
If you want a picture of the future - just imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

Bad jokes make me Silly

Well, the rabbi called me up again to the bimah to do the Torah blessings. Now, I really ... really ... am not that great at the chanting/singing/whatever that goes on when you do the blessing. I've heard it about 100 million times, but still when you're saying it it just kind of seems all outta wack. But I was glad becuase my good pal Dan came with me and I was glad he was there to hear me. And now? TV reruns.

I thought about going out to have a drink or two with some of the DNers, but I have to be back at my parent's house at the ass-crack of dawn for the garage sale. So bed it is, pretty soon. After I devour this raspberry iced tea.

You know. I'll diverge from my typically Jewish-oriented material for a personal thing. There's this girl who I've seen at shows for eons. She's about my size, but she wears it better. Maybe she's taller, or her bras do more lifting, but she looks good. She looks very scene. And not that I want to look really scene, but I want to "flaunt" what I have. And when I say flaunt, I mean be incredibly proud of showing off. Uck. I wish I knew how to do that. I'm too fond of t-shirts that don't cling and jeans that don't cling and things that just don't cling.

I'm in a strange place. And I leave in less than a week.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Wow. Am I a bad Jew already?

I neglected to make myself aware of Lag B'Omer. It's that holiday halfway between Passover (the exile) and Shavuou (the giving of the Torah). Hrm. I did just coincidently get my hair cut on Lag B'Omer, though, which ... well ... is traditionally a way to celebrate. Weird.

In other news: I leave in a week, and I just got done watching the Frisco Kid (with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford) and I must say, lovely movie! I really need to see Blazing Saddles, though ...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Shabbat Shalom!

So I rarely have the energy to post lately. I've been reading quite a bit, including this rad book by Ilan Stavans that I saw at A Novel Idea, and then went to the library to check out because I'm poor. I also got a book on Hebrew and another by Miriam Weinstein on Yiddish. Then while checking out Mike (a library coworker) got into the lost and found box and pulled out a book about being a Jew that someone had left in the library. The dialogue? "You lost this book, right" (as our supervisor stood behind him). "Um, yes, I did lose this book, thanks." Dishonest? Perhaps. But darn't, it isn't like someone will come back looking for it -- they never do. Then last night Johnny gave me my graduation/conversion gift, Born to Kvetch, a book I had wanted for ages and it's finally mine! So needless to say, I have lots of reading ahead of me for the next few weeks.

Tonight was pretty gloriously wonderful. Not just because it's Shabbat and there was a joint Conservative synagogue and Reform Temple service, but because there was a guest speaker who just happened to be my 7th or 8th (I can't remember that far back) English teacher at Goodrich Middle School. Why is this a big deal? The man exposed me to my first bit of Judaism/Holocaust education. Before then, I had no clue and my self-development as far as beliefs and culture go were all my own. That class sparked something in me because I saw myself in those people, and I walked up to him tonight to thank him. The dialogue? "Did you teach English at Goodrich Middle School?" (he smiles) "Your face looks really familiar!" (I smile) "Amanda Edwards, you taught me almost ..." (he interjects) "Ten years ago, wasn't it?" Talk about a small world. I told him I'd converted and that I was moving to D.C. and it was just nice. Nice to see this circle come around. Right before I leave I see the beginning of my beginning.

And the service was marvelous. Sometimes I forget how great the divide can be between two different congregations. I mean, there's the whole Conservative versus Reform bit, but the words and prayers are always the same -- we have the canon of our ancestors, folks! We just present, practice and say it all differently. But then there's moments like during Yaaseh Shalom when everyone falls into sync and it feels like we're all one people. I mean, we are one people, but sometimes it's hard to look at the man and woman next to you and know that they're from your tribe because he's whispering and you're screaming. But watching Rabbi Emanuel and Rabbi Shaffin go at it up at the bimah(s) was like watching Divas Live, without the drama, of course. Then afterward, talking to Mr. Smith and Elaine and Deb and Randi and Little Ben (whom my cactus is named after) and playing with little Mira ... it's so comfortable and it scares me to leave it. But I still have a few weeks, and Elaine and Deb are putting together a delicious collection of movies for me to watch to keep me busy. These include, but are not limited to, The Frisco Kid, Whale Rider, Chocolat and Shakespeare in Love. Honestly, without Deb, Elaine and Barb ... man. They're wonderful people and I love them dearly.

I worry I won't find friends like that wherever I end up. I mean, it's illogical to think that, but they're so kind and they have a pride for me and who I am and what I do. I look at them as friends, but also see this motherly pride in them ... like when they congratulate me and introduce me to people and tell them all the glorious things I'm doing with my life. It's nice to have that. It feels like home. Mostly with Barb. My gosh I'll miss her. I'll have to send her cards and e-mails and stuff. Hah.

One thing to leave you with: When Mr. ... okay, when Paul Smith was talking about his trip to Poland that he took on the 60th anniversary of liberation last year, he said the guide at one of the camps told the group that the crematorium and other facilities could be up and running within 48 hours. The gas is still there and the machines are functioning. So how far have we come? When there's genocide in Darfur and Rwanda, how far really have we come? When you can stop and by a witch doll with the word "JEW" written across the chest in Warsaw, how far have we come? Sixty years isn't much, I guess. And it's scary. But it's also uplifting. It gives purpose and passion to who I am.

I feel more alive right now than I ever have, and my G-d, I've waited so long for that feeling.

You will be my people, and I will be your G-d.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

And so said the Rabbi.

So I'm reading this book right now, but I really, really can't stand it. Yet I can't seem to put the damn thing away or get rid of it. It's frustrating as hell, and I'm nearly positive the author has no clue what he's talking about. The book? The Beginnings of Jewishness by Shaye J.D. Cohen. Now, it could be that he's a Cohen. Or it could be that he's a narrow-minded, poorly studied nitwit. He seems to disolve his arguments by simply saying "i don't have the room to discuss it here." The book just irritates me. So put it down, you say! Right. Right.

In the past 30 hours, I have seen TWO, count 'em, TWO Orthodox Jews in Lincoln. How do I know? Well, I spose they could be Conservative Jews who are observant with the tzit tzit and yarmulke commandments, but I highly doubt it. Anyhow, one was spotted last night at the mall when Annie and I were scoping out a dinner spot -- he was wearing baggy jeans and a grungy jacket, but there were the corners of the tassels and his yarmulke. The other gentleman I saw today at the ACE Hardware, he was looking for flowers and was wearing old jeans and a T-shirt. I guess it just always captures me to see observent Jews in tzit tzit in Nebraska. I know, there's Jews here, and maybe it's this cozy reminder to me that there really ARE Jews here. But oy. It made me want to go read Talmud or study Torah or say the sh'ma.

And then I saw Ryan riding his bike down 17th street. Wearing the oft-seen skullcap of Islam. We lost touch, didn't we?

Anyhow. The next several weeks will be nothing but boring. Dreadful, even, I imagine. But today got eaten up by a few thrift stores ($1.58 for two shirts), the mall and the Coffee House for some tea, alone. I have to be at the JSchool in 14 hours for some good ole-fashioned work on magazines. Interestingly, I'm graduated, but not done yet.

My mind is bored. (Already.)

Monday, May 8, 2006


From Chabad.org, in today's thought.


Sometimes you need to make a decision as follows:

There is a small, but good thing you could do. You are afraid that by doing it you may lose out on a much greater and longer-lasting good in the future,

We are not prophets. None of us can tell what tomorrow will bring. We can only live in the here and now and do whatever good comes our way.

From the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Lyrics, love. Lyrics.

Senior staff dinner was excellent. And I can't talk about the people or the places. I'm tired and how much I'll miss them all exhausts me. I can't explain it, but when one of your favorite people is leaving for China ... well, it's wordless. It's not fair to try and give it something.

I heard a song on the radio today, from Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. And it made me incredibly weepy. I'm putting a few lyrics here ... and giving it the go, be gone.

This is no great illusion
When I'm with you I'm looking for a ghost
Or invisible reasons
To fall out of love and run screaming from our home

Because we live in a house of mirrors
We see our fears and everything
Our songs, faces, and second hand clothes
But more and more we're suffering
Not nobody, not a thousand beers
Will keep us from feeling so all alone

But you are what you love
And not what loves you back
That's why I'm here on your doorstep
Pleading for you to take me back

The phone is a fine invention
It allows me to talk endlessly to you
About nothing disguising my intentions
Which I'm afraid, my friend, are wildly untrue

It's a sleight of hand, a white soul band
The heart attacks I'm convinced I have
Every morning upon waking
To you I'm a symbol or a monument
Your rite of passage to fufillment
But I'm not yours for the taking

But you are what you love
And not what loves you back
So I guess that's why you keep calling me back

I'm fraudulent, a thief at best
A coward who paints a bullshit canvas
Things that will never happen to me
But at arms length, it's Tim who said
I'm good at it, I've mastered it
Avoiding, avoiding everything

But you are what you love, Tim
And not what loves you back
And I'm in love with illusions
So saw me in half
I'm in love with tricks
So pull another rabbit out of your hat

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Mikvah me!

I picked up a copy of the Jewish Quarterly (which I didn't realize our library gest) and read up a bit on the Jews of Ethiopia. It's fascinating to me, because looking at their life and who they are, it's so authentic. But the Jews still in Ethiopia seem to be living like Marranos did during and shortly after the Inquisition -- they convert to Christianity from outside threatening pressures, but continue to observe Shabbat and keep some of the rituals. It's fascinating really. I think I may have to find a book on it this summer and immerse myself in it.

Until then, though, I've checked out two books by A.B. Yehoshua (an Israeli writer). There was a minipiece in the Jewish Quarterly about him and his writing, including a bit on Philip Roth not being a huge fan (even writing out against a character in one of his own books) ... so I figure what the hey. I need to get a copy of The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis, too. My prof suggested it to me, and after reading a bit by her in the guilt book yesterday, I'm motivated.

Some other randoms: Did you know Roseann Barr (at one time Boriafsky or something) is Jewish? Poor thing grew up in the Mormon church with her grandmother toting her to Shabbat on Fridays. Talk about growing up confused. Oh, and Harry Houdini was Jewish, too -- decendent of a long line of rabbis (reform, even).

There are moments when I wish I had converted via a more observant route. Then again, I think in time I will convert more conservative. Why? Becuase I want to be immersed.

Guilt is just part of the gig.

So being done with my undergraduate career has made me bored. Incredibly bored. And mental fists shake whenever someone says "how're finals?" and I reply "I'm done, I had none, I'm bored." So I decided today that it's time to restart some personal reading. Unfortunately, I've kept a really bad list of books to read, so I've had to pick through my collection of unread books, which, as it turns out, isn't that great. So I settled on The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt by a variety of well-known and not-so-well-known authors, rabbis, etc. And so far, bits and pieces have been amusing. Perhaps my favorite piece is on weight ... it starts off with a woman getting a massage and the guy says to her, "Why are Jewish women so fat?" To which she decides the answer is simple.
When in doubt on a Jewish question, the answer is always the Holocaust.
Then eloquently several pages later after going into the full-figured, full-busted figure that is the Jewish woman, she says,
We forget that women are literally built to feed other humans.
Damn, this woman is head on. HEAD on.

And then, I ran into a friend from Hillel tonight while reading said book at The Coffee House. It's heart wrenching for people to say "I'm going to miss you" because most of the people saying it are people I barely know. People who just came into this incredibly green life just recently. Sucks how that happens, and it's the only way it happens. It's like falling in love with some shmo and then moving to Zimbabwe for 10 years -- you KNOW he'll find someone else. People don't wait or stick around for life stories anymore. It isn't World War II and these aren't Western Union telegrams. My grandparents shifted telegrams during the war. I thought it was romantic.

There's a lot that's lost on me these days. I can't tell if it's the boredom or the fact that while learning to point myself in the right direction I'm also occasionally veering off the path of "good" into the path of "sort of questionable" behavior.

I'm broke, and damnit, I need something to fill the next three weeks or I'll go stir crazy waiting to pack my car and head east.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The Exodus was a Welcoming

Well everything is done. Everything down to getting tassles and picking up the cap/gown is done. Assignments are in, grades are being posted, and the last issue of the Daily Nebraskan that I'll ever watch in production was just taken to the Lincoln Journal Star for printing. The DN is quiet at 10 p.m. It's never quiet at 10 p.m. -- unless it's a Thursday and everyone's at Iguana's singing "Living on a Prayer" with fists pumping wildly. There are memories that can't be defeated or repressed, and amid all the shit and drama that had to be put up with, there was this. A quiet newsroom, only shadows and things. And I loved every minute of the past four years. Four years. It's strange to say it that way.

Everyone has asked me how my conversion went. Everyone down to the people who I never spoke to and the people I thought hated me. Everyone wanted to make sure it went well, and it did. And that? It means worlds, loads, mountains of stuff to me. It's the perfect way to walk away.

My American Jewish Fiction professor sent me my semester assessment today. I got As in everything from beginning to end. But what mattered most was what he had to say about me, in general.
You have what my mother would have called a Yiddishe kupf – a Jewish head. You see the subtleties, the nuances in things. You see the humor that’s enveloped in tragedy, and the tears hidden inside the laughter.
It's funny how four years ago I was planning and plotting a graduation speech and senior solo to parade around in front of the other 525 graduating high school seniors. I did my thing and got the heck out of there, and most of my friends from high school have faded away and moved on (or rather, not moved on). And here I am, wishing I'd have given my college senior friends more time. But we're all going to amazing places -- NYC, Oregon, California, Peace Corps, etc. I can't wait to see our tired, ridged journalist hearts in 20 years. We'll have earned our footsteps.

My hips are still sore from falling a few days ago, and I think I've managed to hurt someone close to me by rumors and flying lips. My dad is doing well and Joseph has a month of school left till he becomes, officially, a high school freshman. I've sent off graduation pleas to relatives and friends, and my tassles are hanging in my car. I spent the greater portion of the evening vacuuming and cleaning my car. My nerves are wearing thin it seems, and nothing can keep me busy enough. I'm ready to roll and move.

I feel the nomad beginning to get restless.