Sunday, May 29, 2011

Corti's Meme

I wish I could…solve people's problems and decrease the amount of pain there is in this world. Or in the words of the immortal Edgar Allan Poe, I wish I could save every grain of sand.

My biggest fear is…pain. I hate pain, and the idea of dying in an especially painful way worries me. I'm also afraid of losing control of my mental faculties, like in Alzheimers or early onset dementia.

I hate to…do chores. It depends on the chore, of course, and I'll still do them; it's just that there's not much imagination that goes into chores.

I love…my husband Heshy, my family, children (especially random ones that I meet on the subway who look at me adorably and wonder about me while licking their ice-cream pops), reading, writing and feeling alive.

Today I will…attend a party.

Yesterday I…was in Monsey for Shabbat and really enjoyed the rolling verdant greenery and hills.

My hair is…light brown, golden in sunlight.

I will never…sacrifice my morals, principles, values or integrity for the sake of getting ahead, please God.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Masters 2011

Graduation: The one day we ALL look like we attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


I get to wear a hood! How cool is that! Robes and hoods rock my socks. Hurrah!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


House: You made a decision.

Patient: I changed my mind.

House: Why?

Patient: Because there are more important things than-

House: Than what? Than your brain? Your abilities? That’s where everything comes from; any meaning in your life, any happiness.

Patient: Not all happiness-

House: [with contempt and anger] He’s already left once. He’s gonna leave you again. You don’t need to depend on people who are gonna let you down. If you do this, you’re a [fishes for the right word, then continues in a biting tone] pathetic hypocrite. Your signature whole life, all your work up until him was a pointless-

Patient: Why are you doing this?

House realizes, then walks out.


Of course, House is describing his relationship with Cuddy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Shirley Triumphant

With thanks to my friend Anna, who recommended this book to me, I hope you all enjoy the following excerpt. It's as true today as it was true then. Shirley is the every-girl with their every-visions. It was said in the 'Ten Reasons Stern Girls Won't Date Me' posting:
    7) "I want someone that learns X-teen hours a day" - No you don't! Who do you think you're fooling? Let me tell you what you, and all Stern girls want: You want to live in a suburb of NYC (i.e. Teaneck), you want to go to Israel for succos, Arizona for Pesach, to send your kids to a modern orthodox yeshiva, modern orthodox camps, and you want to have tons of shiny jewelry! Unless you have someone sponsoring your marriage (i.e. your parents or in-laws) and your husband is a kollelnic with zero responsibilities, than try to be more realistic. If you find a buchur who makes a legitimate effort to go to minyan 3x a day and schedules in time to learn daily, in addition to having a steady income, than you have found yourself a quality buchur and you should be quite satisfied! [For the meidels who have just returned Israel: Save this and read it again in a year when you get more in tune with reality! Right now you're probably just assuming that I'm off the derech and practice avoda zarah.]
Noel says the same type of thing to Marjorie.
    Shirley doesn't play fair, you see. What she wants is what any woman should want, always has and always will- big diamond engagement ring, house in a good neighborhood, furniture, children, well-made clothes, furs- but she'll never say so. Because in our time those things are supposed to be stuffy and dull. She knows that. She reads novels. So half-believing what she says, she'll tell you the hell with that domestic dullness, never for her. She's going to paint, that's what- or be a social worker, or a psychiatrist, or an interior decorator or an actress, always an actress if she's got any real looks- but the idea is she's going to be somebody. Not just a wife. Perish the thought! She's Lady Brett Ashley, with witty devil-may-care whimsey and shocking looseness all over the place. A dismal caricature, you understand, and nothing but talk. -
    pages 172-173
And then when Marjorie does marry that typical guy, we are brought this gem of a scene...


She had taken but two or three steps downward when she also saw, in the very last row of the array of black-clad men and beautifully gowned women, the tall blond man in brown tweed jacket and gray slacks, with an old camel's hair coat slung over one arm, incongruous as he was startling. she had not even known Noel Airman was in the United States; but he had come to see her get married. She could not discern his expression, but there wasn't a doubt in the world that it was Noel.

She didn't waver or change countenance at all; she continued her grave descent. But in an instant, as though green gelitan had been slid one by one in front of every light in the ballroom, she saw the scene differently. She saw a tawdry mockery of sacred things, a bourgeois riot of expense, with a special touch of vulgar Jewish sentimentality. The gate of roses behind her was comical; the flower-massed canopy ahead was grotesque; the loud whirring of the movie camera was a joke, the scrambling still photographer in the empty aisle, twisting his camera at his eye, a low clown. The huge diamond on her right hand capped the vulgarity; she could feel it there; she slid a finger to cover it. Her husband waiting for her under the canopy wasn't a proserpous doctor, but he was a prosperous lawyer; he had the mustache Noel had predicted; with macabre luck Noel had even guessed the initials. And she- she was Shirley, going to a Shirley fate, in a Shirley blaze of silly costly glory.

All this passed through her mind in a flash, between one step downward and the next. Then her eyes shifted to her father's face, rosily happy, looking up at her from the foot of the stairs. The green gelitan slid aside, and she saw her wedding again by the lights that were there in the room. If it was all comical in Noel's eyes, she thought, he might derive pleasure from what he could. She was what she was, Marjorie Morgenstern of West End Avenue, marrying the man she wanted in the way she wanted to be married. It was a beautiful wedding, and she knew she was a pretty bride.

She reached the bottom of the stairs. Her father stepped to her side. Taking his arm, she turned a bit and squarely faced into Noel Airman's expected grin; he was not ten feet from her. But to her surprise Noel wasn't grinning. He looked better than he had in Paris: not so thin, not so pale, and he appeared to have gotten back all his hair. His expression was baffled, almost vacant. His mouth hung slightly open; his eyes seemed wet.

The organ music swelled to its loudest. Marjorie marched down the aisle with solemn gladness to her destiny, and became Mrs. Milton Schwartz.

-Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk, pages 556-557


Unlike those who read the book in the context of Marjorie's failure, I assert that she won. She adored Noel and he tried to verbally force her to act on her supposed dreams by arguing otherwise she was just another girl. But what if being just another girl is what she wanted? What if she wanted the loving man, not the brilliant (and emotionally abusive) man? She's a happy Shirley at the end of the day - more than you can say for Noel.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Singlehood (Part 1)

I was reading the absolutely beautiful book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris this Shabbat. Joshua is a sincere Christian and his words are really beautiful. I was very touched by his book. It occurred to me that I wish he was the author of books for the Jewish world rather than the Gila Manolson type. His book addresses the topics of yichud, tznius and shomer negiahin a really loving, relatable way. He comes across as your companion, in the same situations that you are in, rather than an authority figure.

The part that I found most touching was his description of singlehood within Christianity. I think Orthodox Judaism is missing a conception of singlehood. Currently, most women are under the impression their job is to go to college, graduate and then get married. We lack a sense of purpose in our singlehood. Our focus is on dating, shidduchim and our future family. I think that focus, while good, is sometimes misdirected. Here are Joshua's words to shed light on a conception of singlehood we would do well to emulate within our community.



In today's world we don't readily accept the concept of delayed gratification. Our culture teaches us that if something is good, we should seek to enjoy it immediately. So we microwave our food, e-mail our letters, and express mail our packages. We do our best to escape the confines of time by accelerating our schedules, speeding up our pace, and doing whatever it takes to beat the clock. You probably know exactly what I mean. How did you respond the last time you had to wait in line for something? Did you patiently wait your turn, or did you tap your toe and try to rush the experience?

Our "do it all now" mentality has tremendously affected the timing of today's dating relationships. We see this in headlines about kids having sex at an increasingly young age. As young people rush prematurely into these activities that God has reserved for marriage, most of their elders do little to correct them. After all, what can adults say when they live by the same attitude?

Why do we insist on living this way? In my opinion, part of the reason we've adopted the immediate gratificatiion mentality is because we've lost sight of the biblical principle of seasons (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Just as spring's role is different from that of fall, so each of the seasons of our lives has a different emphasis, focus, and beauty. One is not better than another; each season yields its own unique treasures. We cannot skip ahead to experience the riches of another life season any more than a farmer can rush the spring. Each season builds on the one before it.

God has many wonderful experiences He wants to give to us, but He also assigns these experiences to particular seasons of our lives. We often make the mistake, however, of taking a good thing out of its appropriate season to enjoy it when we want it. Premarital sex is a prime example of this. sex in itself is a wonderful experience (from what my married friends tell me), but if we indulge in it outside of God's plan, we sin (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Like a fruit picked green or a flower picked before it blossoms, our attempts to rush God's timing can spoil the beauty of His plan for our lives.

Just because something is good doesn't mean we should pursue it right now. We have to remember that the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.


Most of us won't remain single for our entire lives, and I think that we should view our singleness as a special season of our lives, a gift from God. God gives an outline for the proper attitude towards singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:32. The Message translation reads:
    I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend on becoming...holy instruments of God.
Paul doesn't say this to put marriage down. He says it to encourage us to view singleness as a gift. God doesn't use our singleness to punish us. He has created this season as an unparalleled opportunity for undistracted devotion to God. And as a time for growth and service that we shouldn't take for granted or allow to slip by.

One person rightly stated, "Don't do something about your singlehood- do something with it!" Stop for just a minute and evaluate whether you're using God's gift of singleness as He desires. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I concentrating on "simply pleasing the Master?"
  • Am I using this season of my life to become a "holy" instrument for God?
  • Or am I scrambling to find a romantic relationship with someone by dating?
  • Am I failing to believe that God is sovereign over this part of my life and can provide for me?
  • Could I possibly be throwing away the gift of singleness?
  • Am I cluttering my life with needless complications and worries of dating?
While we're single, dating not only keeps us from preparing for marriage, but can also quite possibly rob us of the gift of singleness. Dating can tie us down in a series of pseudo relationships, but God wants us to maximize our freedom and flexibility to serve Him. Any season of singleness, whether you're sixteen or fifty-six, is a gift. You just might do God a disservice by wasting its potential on a lifestyle of short-term dating.

~pages 77-80


I wish I would have read Joshua's words before I met Heshy. I think my approach to my gift of singlehood would have been entirely different. If I had stopped to consider my single status as a gift from God that would enable me to work on myself, my responsibilities and minister in a way that I would not be able to do once married, I would have been much more fulfilled and happy. Instead, I wasted a lot of time pining and being sad and worried that no one would ever marry me.

Let's create an ethic of seeing singlehood as a gift from God, with every stage of life, including marriage, occurring in its proper season. A time for all things, as King Solomon says, including a time to be single.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

White Swan in Combat Boots

I absolutely love this picture:

It's of Christina Perri in her music video for "Jar of Hearts."

White Swan dress + black combat boots= me.

Lace & heavy metal always go well together. In short, I was always meant to be an Emo Princess; I just missed out on getting to go to a public high school. But this is totally how I would have showed up to the prom. Touch-me fragile, delicate whispery lace and don't-you-dare-mess boots. Because that's who I am. Fragility in steel.

At least that's what my swains always used to tell me; for some reason the metaphors always had something to do with metals of various types, iron or steel being the metal of choice. It probably has something to do with the glitter of sunlight as you pull out the sword to do battle.

Onward we plunge into everlasting duels. God is a difficult opponent but hey, at least He's a worthy one. And all this fencing ought to do well for me one day.

"It took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
And now you're back
You don't get to get me back"

Story of a girl, story of my life, story that's constantly being written. I've gotten up more times than most people have been kicked down. That's the way this world works: you've got to be tough to deal and you've got to be sensitive to care. That's the recipe for being the goddess of awesome. Which, by the way, I am, unapologetically. I've earned it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Assorted Items of Interest

1) A courageous and smart girl who grew up in the Hasidic community writes about putting on a hijab for a school production. Read her insightful commentary here. Then watch her perform tomorrow.

2) Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut!

3) I miss blue-and-white donuts. Wish we had them at work.

4) I love the song 'Senses Capture' by Leaves Eyes. (Real music, not acapella- just a heads up).

5) Anyone have anything fun or of interest to share? Any articles I should read? Comment and let me know.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Love in Judaism

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach said:
    The right yeshiva is a place where there is so much love that it's awesome. G-d gave us Torah with so much love, so if I want to give over the Torah to my children it has to be done in that same way. Rabbi Nachman says that each time vou learn you are bringing the Torah down from heaven. If you teach the Torah with anger, and tell them: "You have to, you have to, you have to" - No. It has to be so deep that they want to. The spiritual depths of the Torah have to be presented.
Who (if it's a particular person) or what (if it's an organization) in your experience has presented Judaism to you with the most love?