Going back to Hogwarts, Going back to SCHOOOOL

So, that’s decided, I’m going back to school. For a major change (haha, I hope you enjoyed the pun!).

I always thought I was a liberal arts person. I couldn’t exist apart from it. Books, writing, poetry, music, history – they all defined who I was, who I associated with, what I did; how I thought. In high school, I hated anything that didn’t have to do with English or politics. I LOVED English and French, hey, I still love English and French, I just hated the way that it was taught in college. (see: class A is on dead white males, class B is on people that hated dead white males.)

So naturally, when I went to college, I wanted to major in – English. It was a no brainer, both to make the decision and to participate in the studies. My teachers didn’t care at all about teaching, or helping us to create and form our own opinions; they just wanted us to spit out facts from each of our required readings and reiterate their opinions on everything. The problem was, I had already learned to think for myself, and I realized I didn’t need an English degree to prove it to everyone.

So I changed my major. And those of you who’ve read un-Orthodox understand why I don’t need to work in the “academic” Jewish world – I live there.

So I found myself at a crossroads. A rather dramatic one, as I realized that this was a HUGE decision and risk. But I decided.

About two and a half years ago, when I started my journey with Jewish Studies, I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. Because I realized that ultimately, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a nurse. But more than a nurse. I wanted to be a midwife.

But I didn’t want to start school over (yet). I hadn’t taken a single science class, or math class, and realized that it wouldn’t mean one extra year of school – it would mean two, which I was not interested in doing. So I did some research, and found DONA International – and started thinking about becoming a Doula.

For those who don’t know, a Doula is kind of a combination of a birth coach, spiritual/emotional mentor, and friend. I would help a woman who is in delivery by suggesting different positions, making sure she (and her partner!) is comfortable, and work with the mother to give her the easiest and most fulfilling birth possible. Statistics show that women who utilize the services of a Doula are less likely to require medical intervention, including a cesearean.

So I’m almost done with the certification – and should be totally finished by the end of 2011. Which brings me to the next chapter.

Next week, I’m starting classes again to complete the prerequisites for Nursing School. Because, ultimately, I do want to be a midwife. So, Anatomy and Physiology, here I come.

I’ll be honest. The work that I do at the organization that I work at is important. It matters. The organization I work for matters. A lot – and more than many think that it should. But the work is endless. And there’s no endgame. Sure, it’s rewarding when one out of the 200,000 students we work with chooses to stand up to adversity, but all-in-all, we’re fighting a losing battle.

Having the priviledge to help a woman deliver her child would be the biggest honor. It’s really the most blatant miracle that we have the merit to witness in our world. I mean, come on – we’re only humans. And something that started as a cell, a miniscule cell that only the most powerful technology can see, with an enormous amount of energy inside of it, grew exponentially in nine months, still hidden from the world.

To have the honor to witness that miracle every day? There could be no better blessing.

So, I’m going back to school.

I used to think I was a liberal arts person. Every day, I realize a little more about what it means to be a Person.



At work, I receive a daily email filled with interesting news stories, newspaper articles, and videos that have been flagged by the civil rights division as relevant and useful to our jobs, but also to help us enrich our understanding of the ever-changing world we live in. Some articles speak of good news, of solidarity and bring hope to the workplace. This one brought tears.

The article I’ve linked above speaks very briefly about what actually happened in Egypt: a man ascended the Israeli embassy in Cairo, scaling the building, and removed the Israeli flag. He threw it to the ground and replaced it it with an Egyptian flag.

That’s painful enough. Israel and Egypt have co-existed for almost 35 years somewhat peacefully, save for a very small rebel faction, and as the rest of the world knew, once Mubarak was gone, it would all come into question. And it has, seen most literally in last weeks terror attack in the Negev that left 8 Israelis dead and dozens more injured.

But what bothers me most about the article in the Times? That it was the first I had heard about the Flagman. And that it mentioned nothing about the consequences of removing a flag from a foreign embassy.

For Israel, that flag was more than just a piece of printed and sewn fabric; for all of the Jewish people, the symbolism is much deeper. The star of david, the magen david, is the shield of David, the King who represents the ultimate time of hope within the Jewish religion, the King that will bring our salvation. The fact that the white and blue shield of David could fly freely over the streets of Cairo meant that Israel had finally acheived recognition by one of it’s Arab neighbors, enough recognition to warrant a spacial haven protected by the Egyptian government. For each nation’s embassy is as good as that nation’s land: it’s laws are primary, it offers protection to it’s citizens, and within it’s confines, the only government that can make law is the government that resides within it.

The article didn’t talk about what Flagman means for Israel and Israeli-Egypt relations. It didn’t talk about the symbolism of removing an Israeli flag from it’s own land on foreign soil, and it hardly mentioned that he was rewarded by the state with a fancy apartment and job.

It glorified the Flagman – whomever he is. It compared him to Spiderman, a childrens hero and vigilante who takes matters into his own hands when he can’t rely on the government or police, and showcased the competition that each of the perpetrators is knee-deep in. They both want glory. They both want recognition. For what? For throwing away that flag. For erasing Israel’s history, and Israel’s haven. For turning it into a land that once existed, replacing it with Egypt’s new republic.

Last week, I participated in a training for a program that deals strictly with anti-Semitism. In today’s world, the conversation would be incomplete if anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment was left out of the equation. Look at the cartoons that compare Netanyahu to Hitler, and then look at Hitler’s propaganda. What’s that saying about a duck? – I hear quacking.

Someone remarked to me this weekend that it seems as though the world is literally falling apart at it’s seams. We had a 5.8 earthquake in Virgina that reached all the way from Phoenix to Toronto, and we all felt the eart quiver under our feet. We experienced a hurricane that left thousands powerless and waterlogged, killing at least a dozen people in it’s path. And the Times published an article that totally disregarded a terrorist act; instead, glorified the terrorists.

We need to wake up.

Today is the start of the Hebrew month of Elul, which is a month of connection and growth. It’s intensity is tangible, and within it lies the power for all of us to come closer to our own potential. But the world has a lot of work to do. Many people are rebuilding physically their homes and basements, which they found filled with water, others are going back to school to work on building intellect and knowledge. Some are entering and ending new relationships, others rekindling old ones. All of this brings potential to make ourselves, and the world, a better place. But potential, like the truth, can always be ignored, and we can choose, like the author of the Times article, to ignore the real issue and focus on the external, dramatic, disgusting battle of two terrorists vying for a top spot.

The Calm Before the Storm

I just wanted to pop in and say hello and Good Shabbos before I turn off my computer, plug it in, and hope for the best. I have a lot to update about, as I participated in a very exciting training Wednesday and yesterday, and a different (but very exciting) training today.

Things are crazy here as people drive like they’ve never driven before, supermarket shelves are being cleared out, and everyone’s trying to figure out what they can make that’s in their freezer before we lose power. I love rain, thunder, lightning and wind (especially all together) and I can’t wait to see the fury of Irene.

It looks like we’re all going to be riding out quite the storm over the next few days, so make sure your windows are locked, you have batteries for the various types of technology you have available and that you have a good book, or books, and some candles.

On an aside, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from people about this blog, and I love that I’m actually writing again! Thanks to all who are loyal readers. 🙂

Seriously, an earthquake and a hurricane in one week? I feel like a character in Jumanji!

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

You know, when my chair started to bounce, ever so slightly, I thought maybe I’d had too much coffee this morning. And then, when I noticed that my water was swishing around in my water bottle, I realized that I wasn’t the one who was bouncing – and neither was my chair. It was the building. And the building was moving because the earth was moving underneath it.

“Does anyone else feel that?!” my colleague asked.

“Yeah, we all do!”

“Maybe we should move away from the windows…”

And just like that, it was over just as quickly as it started. No evacuations (although every single one of our surrounding buildings did evacuate, including City Hall), and just like most of my readers, I’m guessing, we received our news updates from facebook, learning that the earthquake was felt all the way from Virginia (see: epicenter) to Toronto.

Apparently it was a 5.9 on the Richter Scale.

You never forget your first, right?

Bliss…Sheer Bliss

Just to end the week on a high note.

I received a blessing from one of my favorite teachers in Israel a few months before our wedding. He’s an elderly, holy, holy man. And he looked at me, in front of the whole class, and said, “I want to give you a bracha.”

“My bracha to you is – that on your wedding day…you love each other the least.”

Why I Can’t Wake Up Early (and Other Useless Information)

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been fairly bored at work this week, leading me to search for the recipes for what has become the HUGE chocolate/vanilla/cream cake sitting so mischeviously on our kitchen counter (and no, I don’t have a picture once again because I fail), window shop without getting sweaty outside, and learn various useless bits of knowledge about everything from pop-culture to American Sign Language and the history of pencils.

Speaking of pencils, I even found these adorable back-to-school socks, which I am clearly now obsessed with:

Cute, right?

Anyway, I’ve been searching the internet quite a bit and using the handy stumble upon tool to keep things interesting. Recently, a lot of the stumble upon results I’ve been getting have to do with how to wake up early and ready to tackle the day.

Every website says the same thing: early to bed, early to rise. Or, consistency is king (meaning, go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning). These don’t work for me. For the most part, I go to bed at the same time every night, and every day, I wake up at the same time. But it’s still 45 minutes to an hour after I set my alarm, and wanted to wake up.

When I was younger, I used to be the first one up at home: I would treck downstairs to the family room, sprawl out on the huge, comfy, leather sofa, and turn on Boy Meets World, Saved by the Bell, or whatever tweeny show was on that early in the morning. I would be awake for at least a full hour before I went to school, meaning that by the time I got there, I was already awake, and my brain had already been stimulated. Now, I get to work, groggy and exhausted, and can’t motivate myself to lift a finger to the search engine (to do anything relevant, that is).

And I have no idea why. I know that you’re probably all so annoyed at me — I did, after all, name this post, “Why I Can’t Wake Up Early,” not “Why Can’t I Wake Up Early?” You have the right to be mad. And if anyone has any ideas for an answer (I have a few, but they may put you to sleep) I would be open to hearing them.

It’s been somewhat of a goal of mine for some time now to start waking up a little earlier, to just enjoy the quiet-ness of the morning. I want to buy a comfy armchair for the porch, and snuggle outside with a cup of tea to watch as the sky gets brighter, maybe with a book. I want to brew fresh coffee and make scrambled eggs or pancakes for my husband. I want to just be awake before I get to work!

It’s funny, because on the weekends, when the alarm isn’t set, I wake up happier and less groggy than I do during the week, and I think that it has to do with the terrifying and jolting nature of the alarm clock that pulls me out of dreamland. I hate that thing; if I didn’t need it so much in order to keep my job it would be through the window. On the weekends, I sometimes even wake up earlier than I do during the week, ready and raring to go, but I force myself to go back to sleep because I’m like, “carly, you’re gonna regret not getting these extra two hours on Monday morning.”

I don’t want to wake up earlier to go to the gym (although that’d be nice), to do work, or to fulfill any other mandatory-but-menial task that can be accomplished during my already-waking hours. Nope, I want to wake up earlier to think, to learn, and to just be.

Right now, I’m looking forward to the weekend, when I can rest easy knowing that the alarm won’t jab at my eardrums in the morning. Maybe, if I wake up a little early, instead of hitting the internal “snooze” button, I’ll wake up.

Just be.

Good Shabbos!

Duck Duck…Duck

I must have been really tired when I wrote last night’s post — I was a little delirious and it doesn’t make as much sense on the web as it did in my head!

I’m trying really hard to write every day, but it’s a huge challenge, especially because I don’t want to end up sounding like a teen-angsty, emo blog (been there, done that. see: xanga.)

I even saved a list of “journal ideas” on my favorites bar at work so that I don’t have an excuse not to write. (You can call me a nerd if you’d like.)

I think that part of the reason this is so difficult for me is because I am secretly a foodie and wish that I was a.) a good enough cook and b.) was good with a camera so that I could write a food blog. I have plans to re-create one of my favorite cakes in the world tonight for shabbos, so maybe (if I’m feeling a little bit riskay) I will try and locate the digitcal camera to blog my baking adventures.

Since I’m not at home in my kitchen baking something scrumptious (I actually enjoy cooking more than baking – as much as I’d like to be a meticulous measurer and sifter, I actually hate the tedious repetition of those actions) and I need to go to the supermarket (which I was tempted to do on my lunch break but resisted once I remembered I was in center city where produce, grocery, and tax prices skyrocket), I will try to make the clock move a little faster by reminiscing about the dinner my husband prepared last night. Yes, he prepared dinner. Yes, he loves to cook. In fact, he’s a private chef, who owns his own business, The Cheffery.

So last night, Jonathan decided that he wanted to try out a new recipe that he’d been thinking about for a long time (seriously, I think that we could write a killer cook book if we just put our heads together and took the time to do it) and made….duck.

He cooked an entire duck. We bought it at a supermarket in Lakewood when we still had money (HA!) and it has been sitting in our freezer ever since. Since Jonathan’s business has been getting some catering orders, he needed the space in our freezer, so he decided he would cook the duck. And when I say “cook,” I am grossly undersating what he did to that duck. He brined it, marinated it, and smoked it. In tea.

Like I said last night, we live in an apartment on a busy street in a suburb right outside of Philadelphia, so I should have known something was up when I received a phone call from our upstairs neighbor. See, our apartment comes with a cute little balcony that we bought a cute little barbeque to go on (charcoal), and every time we attempt to use it, it results in a sea of white smoke and a campfire smell that drifts right past my neighbor’s living-room window. I, having worked late last night, had my phone on silent because I was giving a presentation, and missed her call.

So I was a little surprised when I walked into my apartment last night and my nose was tickled by the smell of something southern. I don’t especially like smoked foods (except for almost all kinds of smoked fish), but my poultry I like fried, roasted, poached, confit-ed, grilled, and pretty much any other way you can think of other than smoked. I wasn’t surprised to find Jonathan on the porch with a cigar and a glass of home-made sangria (I almost wish I was kidding) in hand, but I wrinkled my nose and said to him, “It smells like barbeque.”

“Good,” he replied, admitting the smell was the reason that my neighbor had called.

So we sat down to eat, and Jonathan brought over this gorgeous, glistening, amber duck with patches of a merlot stain. He put a slice of the breast on my plate, and as I lifted my fork to my mouth, I was so grateful he had decided to take that odd-shaped duck out of the freezer. It was heavenly. Warm, moist, and not too greasy. Jonathan has the ability to make foods taste like exactly what they are supposed to taste like. He makes chicken taste chicken-y, lamb taste lamb-y, eggs taste egg-y, pasta taste pasta-y, and I have yet to learn his secret. But last night, I ate the most duck-y tasting duck I have ever eaten.

Don’t believe me? Come over for shabbos lunch, because we’re serving the leftovers in a delicious duck salad.

I bet now you wish that we had taken a picture of that duck as much as we do.