Monday, September 29, 2008

forgive or forget?

Which is better; to forgive or to forget? And by that I mean; to forgive the person who wronged you, or to forget the relationship you had with that person, because there can be no forgiveness.

I talk a lot about my dad here, but I don't say much about my mom. Up until I went off to college, I was very close with my mom. Every friday night, while all the boys in the house would go off to shul, me and my mom would sit on a couch together, and read, and talk about our weeks.

In high school my mom was always sticking up for me. When my principle tried to tell my parents that I should consider going to a different school, because since I wore all black all the time I must be depressed depressed (and depressed people can't go to jewish school of course), my mom, who was wearing all black at the time (as all true new york artists do), laughed in her face and told her off. Expulsion averted. When on "mother daughter day" at school I wore a bright green and yellow shirt, and a teacher came up to me asking why i had to wear THAT shirt when all the mothers would be there, my mom got all up in her face and told her that my shirt didn't violate any part of the dress code, so she should leave me alone.

It wasn't just that my mom had my back, or that she was standing up to religious figures. It was that she thought for herself, and never took any crap. When my mom was my age (or younger) she decided to go to art school against her father's wishes, and later worked for some kick ass art designers (before she had kids and became a stay at home mom). It must have been tough for her, since going to art school isn't exactly the top career choice for young jewish women.

Now, I didn't admire everything about my mom. For instance, when I was around 10 or 11, she stopped talking to the person who had been her best friend for almost as long as I was alive. Her best friend, who had become a baal teshuva for her husband, decided when she caught her husband cheating on her that orthodoxy was a bunch of hipocracy, and stopped being orthodox. My mom stopped talking to her, and forbade me from talking to her son, who was my best friend for almost as long as I had been alive. That never sat right with me.

Anyways, getting back to our relationship-

In college something changed. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it was that I decided to go to grad school sometime around freshman year, which suddenly made me a lot closer with my dad (who has a phd). Maybe it was that I started studying the gendered division of labor in the home, which she took as a personal insult, as if I was studying the topic because I disapproved of her life. Maybe it was just natural, given that I was off making new friends and figuring out my identity. Maybe it was that I was open about not being religious for the first time.

When I got engaged to my ex fiance, our relationship improved a bit. My mom was really into planning the wedding, and we spent a lot of time together running around and planning things. But then once me and my ex broke up, my mom became noticeably cooler towards me. I think she was disappointed that after all her planning, the wedding wasn't going to go on. I also think that despite the fact that my ex is the one who called it off, that my mom unconsciously (or consciously) blamed me for the relationship ending. I was definitely not going to be following in her footsteps now; I was headed off to graduate school soon, I wasn't getting married when she thought I would be, and I wasn't religious anymore. Our relationship became increasingly estranged, until we got to the point where we would talk about school and gardening maybe, and not much else. Certainly nothing that actually affected me. She told me not to speak to my youngest brother, so I wouldn't be a 'bad influence' on him. She blamed me for my other brother not being religious (although he stopped keeping kosher before I did! But I was older so it was my fault).

In grad school for a while I called her at least once a week, having these weird conversations about school and gardening. Up until I told her about B that is. After that, if I mentioned anything having to do with B, she would talk over me on the phone. For the first year and a half we were dating, every time I would talk to my mom on the phone, I would hang up and feel hurt. The last time I saw her was on memorial day- she told me I couldn't take leftovers home if I was going to share them with "that person you live with." The last time I spoke to her was when I got engaged in July- I called to tell her and was met with total silence. When I eventually asked if she was going to say anything she responded "I have nothing to say. You know how I feel."

This shouldn't have come as a surprise, given how she treated her former best friend of over 10 years who decided to leave orthodoxy. That doesn't make it any less hurtful.

I do miss her though. I understand why she is acting the way she is, as by her perspective I am rejecting everything about her, which she probably takes pretty personally. But I don't think there is anything I can do to change that.

So now I have two choices going forward; do I try to work on forgiving her, despite how hurt I am that she would reject me now because of my choices. Do I reach out to her, even though she probably doesn't want a relationship with me (because of those choices). Do I start trying again, even though I know she will never accept me, and that every time I try to reach out to her, I will get hurt. Or do I forget her? Do I work on trying to feel less bad about the fact that I will never have a real relationship with her, unless I completely change everything about me. Do I try to stop burning with jealousy every time I hear about someone's close relationship with their mother? Like every hurt, It will probably fade with time.

I was thinking of reaching out and calling her today to wish her a happy new years. But every time I reach for the phone, I am reminded how hurt I still am by the way she has treated me the entire time I have been dating B, the way she reacted to my engagement, and that she hasn't once tried to contact me since then (Not that I've tried to contact her either I suppose). Just writing about what has happened between us makes me so angry, and sad. I've been trying to be less angry about these things. If I was just sad, I could reach out to her. But that anger is still there, and instead of diminishing with time, it is just getting stronger. So is it time to move on?

Talked to dad

Yesterday, in the middle of a new episode of true blood, my dad called me. I was waiting for some food delivery so I eagerly grabbed the phone, only to feel a wave of anxiety as I saw who it was. So I hesitated, and by the time I picked up the phone it had gone to voicemail. My dad left a pretty awkward voicemail about having a good year.

I called back at around 10, but he didn't pick up. Then he called me back again at 10:30, at which point I was already half asleep.

We had an extremely awkward 4 minute conversation, in which he asked if I was doing anything for Rosh Hashana (at least he didn't assume I was doing something), and I said (truthfully) that I wasn't doing anything, because I have a dissertation chapter due a week from Monday (today). We then talked a bit more, mostly having to do with school and how I am applying for jobs this year. He managed in those 4 minutes to make me feel bad about my decision to only apply for a few jobs this year, and my plan to stay in grad school for an extra (6th) year in the likely event that I don't get a job-which I have full funding for. Somehow this translates into him thinking that I'm failing out of grad school or something. Wonderful.

He didn't ask for any forgiveness. I didn't offer any. B was not mentioned by either of us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

B started a blog!

Well he started it months ago, but now he's actually posted a post for two days in a row!

Here's one on how he became an atheist

In other news, I got the bill for that cancer genetic testing thing, and had to ask my dad for the money he promised (way back before I was engaged) he would give me for it- since while my principles are strong, the bill was for more money than I have in my bank account right now. :( Apparently my crappy health insurance has a $500 is up with that?

Meanwhile my dad wrote back saying he would be happy to send the money in a shana tova card, and that he wants to call and when would be a good time. I sent back an email telling him i'm free pretty much all the time except during the 5 hours a week I have scheduled teaching-related duties, like teaching, and office hours. That was yesterday, and he has yet to call. When/if he does call, it'll be the first time talking on the phone since I got engaged.

I was just thinking the other day that rosh hashana and my birthday are the two times a year my parents have ever called me in the past (even before I was engaged/dating B, I was the one who always called them), and that it would be weird if they didn't call this year for rosh hashana. But I guess at least my dad will be calling. Still haven't had any contact with my mother since I called to tell her I was engaged and her response was *total silence* then "I have nothing to say, you know how I feel." Lovely.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Older singles making aliyah?

What's up with all the single frum men and women in their late 20s making aliyah? It's always the same type of people...they are single, haven't been in a serious relationship in years (if ever), they most likely lived on the UWS when in the US, they never mention any particular connection to Israel, and then suddenly one day they decide to move there and 3 months later they are on a plane.

Of course there was a group of people who stayed is Israel for college and beyond after going to seminary for a year, but that happened fairly early on. Now, after years of only one person I know (at the most!) moving to Israel each year, suddenly there are 5-7 of them last year and this year.

Is it that the American jewish community isn't very welcoming to older jewish singles? Is it that they are desperate to get married and they think they will have a better chance in Israel? Do they hate their life in the US and think it will be better in Israel? Do they just want to start their life over with nobody who knows them, ,and for jews the only feasible place to do that is Israel? Or do they magically get the urge to move there one day in their late 20s, like the way you get schizophrenia in your early 20s after not showing signs of it you whole childhood?

Well I got some bad news my friends: wherever you go, there you are.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I don't get you

I pride myself on trying to see things from other people's perspective, even if I don't agree with them. For instance, although I'm firmly pro-choice, I understand why some people are pro-life. I might disagree with them, but I can at least understand what their thought process is. But there are some people I just don't get. At all. I just can't understand why they think the way they do.

Chances are, I have no freakin clue where you are coming from:

1. If you love President Bush and think he is a great president

2. If in the event your child married someone of a different religion or race, you would pretend they were dead or stop speaking to them

3. If you think that the government is correct to lock up thousands (or millions) of people whose only crime is smoking weed

4. If you think sacrificing our personal liberties for increased "safety" is a good idea

5. If you think Obama is a secret Muslim

6. If you think rock music is "just noise and a bunch of people yelling"

7. If you think gay people can change their sexual orientation if they just try hard enough

8. If you think that we shouldn't raise taxes to provide free healthcare for everyone, since "why should you have to subsidize their lazyness, they should just get a better job"

9. If you exclusively drive SUVs and don't live on a mountain/in a bog/somewhere actually off-road

10. If you think that an unchecked free market will just work itself out so that everything/everyone will just be fine and dandy


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The content of their character

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I have a friend, lets call her J. J is white. A few years ago, J married a man who is from India, and is Indian. Her parents did not approve. They didn't come to the wedding, and for a few years were not on speaking terms with J. Not because of the content of her husbands character, but because of the color of his skin.

We have a term for this view. It's called "racism"

Now, leaving behind any emotions about destroying the jewish people, etc. How is her situation any different than mine? My parents, and all the various asshats who don't 'approve' of me marrying B, are not judging our relationship on the basis of his character. They are judging him based on who he happened to be born to. Who his parents are.

You can argue about whether Judaism is a race or not. That's not my point. My point is that if you believe racism is wrong, then how can you think disapproving of my choice of partner on the basis of who his parents are is right? How can disapproval of racism be reconciled with a disapproval of me marrying B? Or should I just assume that anyone who disapproves of our relationship thinks that racism is just fine and dandy?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hells Yes!!

A revised version of my master's thesis received a "conditional accept" decision at a peer-reviewed journal! That gives me three peer reviewed publications- one second author, one first author (with two authors), and this one where I am sole author (and thus proves that I can do research without co-authors).

Yay for publications that can lead to tenure-track jobs/ultimately tenure!!!!


I don't keep in touch with a lot of my exes. Some relationships ended badly, some relationships were just bad through and through, and in general I'm not that good at keeping in touch with people. There is one dude I keep in touch with- we were friends for a year or two, we dated/hooked up for like 2 months back when I was 19, officially were "girlfriend and boyfriend" for like a week, and then broke up. Or more precisely, he broke up with me cause the "relationship was getting too serious" And then we both tried smoking stuff for the first time a week later, and he tried to touch my ass. And then hooked up with my best friend that weekend. But that's a whole other story.

Basically I was a girl he hooked up with during his 'rebellious period' as a teenager, before he went back to towing the line, and dating good jewish girls. Shidduch dating good jewish girls.

This dude had a pretty significant affect on my life in some respects. He introduced me to smoking things, and smoking cigarettes (thanks for that, I love being addicted to cigarettes now, it's totally awesome!), and he introduced me to Chuck Palahniuk, my favorite author, and B's favorite author. In fact, when I met B, it was through a dating website- and the only reason I wrote back to him at all was that Chuck Palahniuk was the first author under his 'favorite authors.' So in a way, this dude may be responsible for me dating B in the first place.

Ok that may be a stretch. But either way, me and B now own two copies of every single Chuck Palahniuk book.

Anyways, this guy got married to a lovely good jewish girl, had a kid, and recently we reconnected via facebook. We chat on facebook chat like once every 3 or 4 months, mostly about new Chuck Palahniuk books that are coming out (We are both huge fans, and he is the guy who introduced me to Palahniuk's books), or today- the new movie based on a Chuck Palahniuk book (Choke- coming out in a week or so). I mentioned today when chatting that my fiance is also a huge Palahniuk fan, and he was all "Fiance????" so I told him about B, and then told him about how B isn't jewish, so my parents don't approve.

And he replied with something like "well just for the record, neither do I."

And then continued with something like "well I wouldn't say that if I thought you would care, but I know you don't"

Well I don't care about his approval, but I still find it obnoxious that he would say that to me. I mean, who is he to approve or not approve my relationships? Some dude I briefly dated 7 years ago, who dumped ME and is not not approving of who I date/marry after him? Someone who fooled around with a LOT of girls during some rebellious phase in his life, smoked a lot of pot, and then married someone who I'M SURE had no idea about that period of his life. Especially cause I hear she was shomer negiah before they got married (for those non jews: that means she never touched a guy until she got married, let alone hooked up with one).

And yet now, this former-extremely-slutty-pothead dude who most likely is keeping secret a large part of his life from his wife is judging MY relationship decisions.

What kind of bullshit chutzpa is that!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I missed the exact date earlier this week, but it has now been over two months since I got engaged (on July 8th), and over two months since I have spoken to either of my parents on the phone. Two months since I've had any contact with my mother at all. My contact with my dad in that time has been around 3 emails (one of which was to inform me of the death of someone, and was a group email).

It's not that bad I guess. I don't feel sad about it. I can't imagine calling my mom now and having some bullshit conversation where I don't mention B and talk about gardening and school cause that's all I can talk about with her. It's actually nice to NOT have those conversations, since every time I did I felt like crap afterwords.

In other wedding related news, I haven't really done anything for the wedding since we booked a place. Except yesterday when I spent some time on ebay looking at various dresses. The only thing I liked was basically some renn faire goth costume, and I think I would look silly in that. Did I mention I hate shopping, I hate dresses, and I hate planning things? Would it be entirely inappropriate to show up in matching hoodies?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


well 9/11 is the word of the day. When I hear someone say or write "9/11" all I can think of now is Gulliani and how 9/11 has turned into some bullshit political catchphrase. I never liked him when he was mayor...seriosuly, where did all the homeless people go?

9/11 was a great turning point for me in my life...when my feelings about this country turned from pride and mostly indifference to fear and displeasure. Not fear about the big bad terrorists, but fear of my fellow Americans, and the ways in which they react when bad things happen. And not immediate reactions, but the 7 years that followed. When we entered bullshit wars for no reason I can see, and a guy I had a crush on in late 2003 told me he fucked his girlfriend while watching the bombs fall on Baghdad cause it was so awesome and great. Which made me throw up a little in my mouth, and it was crush over from then on out. 9/11 marks the turning point, when I came to realize that I do not agree with nearly, or more than, half this country. On basic fundamental levels. It was also a turning point in that I started reading the news sand following politics, which takes up a lot of my time these days as well. So I guess it was a political awakening.

I went through my other blog to see if I had posted anything interesting about 9/11. Apparently I avoided talking about it for the first 5 years after it had happened. But here's a post from 9/11/06.

I remember being confused when my dad knocking on my door that day and said I couldn't go into school that day cause a plane had hit the world trade center and downtown would probably be a mess. That was when it was only the first plane, and people thought it may have been just a plane crash. I spent the whole day on the couch in front of my parents tv, and didn't bother changing out of my pj's. The only station we got was channel 2 (CBS) because we didn't have cable and all the other stations had been broadcasting from the WTC. Later that day my brother (the EMT one) went to liberty state park where they were bringing people over from downtown on ferries, so they could be treated for smoke inhalation.

I remember the next day going to the top of my ex's office building and looking out to see the huge cloud of smoke that was over downtown. Later we heard stories about friends of friends who had died there, and my dad's friend who was there but got out. My grandfather's office was across the street, and all the windows in his office had been blown out. My "feminist science fiction" class spent a day talking about the events, and about the 4 students from my college who had died in the attacks.

But mostly I remember the missing persons signs that were at the path train station long afterwards..there were hundreds and hundreds of them, they plastered the walls, and I read them every morning when I was waiting for the path. Months after any hope of finding them was completely gone, their pictures hung in the path station, a silent memorial of the hundreds of passengers who would no longer wait beside me for the train

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Work/Family Spillover

Work/Family spillover is a concept I talk about in my courses. Basically it is the stress that 'spills over' from your work into your family, or visa versa, whereas problems in one area leads to problems in another. For instance, if you have a sick child and can't finish something at work before a deadline: That's work/family spillover. Conversely, if you are working long hours at your job trying to finish some deadline and miss your child's 3rd grade play, that's also work/family spillover.

I talk about it in class, but I don't think i've ever actually experienced it before this semester. Well, maybe that's because until around 5 months I didn't have a "family" living with me, since I was living by myself.

But now that the semester has started, it is really kicking in. I have been working crazy hours trying to finish research for two papers, so that I can start writing said papers and finish them before their deadlines- one is due September 22nd and one is due October 6th. Both of these are due to conferences- one I am trying to get a presentation at, and one in which I've already accepted the offer to present (which was based on an extended abstract), in which I have to submit a completed paper to the conference organizers. My life has been: waking up to an alarm, going in to school within an hour, coming home around 7ish, and falling asleep around 9 or 10 because I'm so tired from working an 11 hour day.

Meanwhile, B went back to work a week or two ago. He's a writing tutor at a local college, and has also been working late hours- he doesn't get out of work until 8pm, doesn't get home till 8:30ish. I generally work late hours anyway, but I'm usually home by 7 or 7:30 at the latest. In the past we would have dinner together at that point, giving us at least 2 or 3 hours of quality time before I pass out.

Now B is getting home an hour after I am, and passing out almost immediately. We have been eating dinner separately because he's too hungry to wait until after work to eat, and I'm too hungry to wait for him to get home to eat. And as a result, we really only see each other (awake) on weekends now.

This isn't leading to stress or breakups or anything, but I'm kind of sad about the whole situation. We live together, and yet we are barely spending any waking time together. I can't even imagine what it would be like if we had kids. Or if we didn't live together.

Of course there's the weekends. Which we spend together entirely (this past weekend we went on a 6 hour-each-way road trip!). But then my work is trying to take over my weekends as well...this weekend my department is having a 'semester kick off' party for grad students. Which I would never subject B to, cause it sucks enough for me, and I know what the heck these geeky people are talking about. So at this point I'm just cutting out all social activity which doesn't involve B, so I'm going to skip this party. But I have so much work that that's "spilling over" into the weekends as well, since no matter how hard I work during the week I always seem to have more work that I have to make up weekends. And I feel bad about skipping these social events, since I seem to have no friends in my town now that my two best friends moved away this summer, and having no social life apart from my partner is also lame.

So tell me oh relationship internet guru' do you manage to spend time with your partners while working 60+ hours a week and dealing with exhaustion? Or do people who work that many hours just only see their partners on weekends? Any tips for balancing a crazy work schedule with having a life? This whole situation is super lame.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gotta go back, back, back to school again

It's the first day of school! I'm now in 21st grade! Yes, I have been in school for 21 years, not counting kindergarten or preschool or any of that.

Ok technically the first day of school is tomorrow, but today is the first year student orientation, and I have to go to a departmental brunch, and then I'm giving a little shpeil at lunch about "things I wish I knew when I was just starting grad school." I just tried to spellcheck "shpeil" and the suggestion it gave me was "Fleshpot" (What? That's a word? Sounds naughty).

In my 21st grade of school, I'm not entirely a student anymore. My transcript has changed my title from "doctoral student" to "doctoral candidate." I haven't taken a class in over a year now. This weekend I went shopping for some new school clothes! Only now my school clothes are button down shirts and fancy pants and a new blazer...what some would call 'work clothes.' Starting tomorrow I'm teaching a night class which is the only class-related activity i'll be engaging in this semester.

I guess there's not that much difference between the summer and the semester. I still worked long hours all summer, usually not coming home till 7 or 8. But there's something qualitatively different...apart from having to teach, everything just feels more busy in the semester. And I always get a lot more done. And this year I have to, since I'm supposed to finish my dissertation and all. The first chapter is due in a little over a month, and I have not yet written a single word.

Me and B spent the last weekend of the summer just staying in with each other, cooking awesome meals and watching a whole bunch of tv. Yesterday we watched a star trek: the next generation marathon. I haven't watched this show since I was a kid (and they were new), but I have to say...this show is awesome! Much better than the stuff that passes for sci fi shows these days...

Well now I better go get showered and ready for the first departmental brunch of the year. I probably won't be around as much now that the semester is starting up again..that's how academia goes. Happy first day of school to anyone else who is going back this week! And an even happier first day of school for those of you whose kids are going back! :)