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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sad Lad

This is Sam.*
Look, look.
Look at Sam.
Sam is sad.

Mom says Sam must read.
Sam can read.
He reads That Fat Cat.

Sam does not like That Fat Cat.
He wants to read big books.
Sam is too old for baby books.

Teacher says Sam must read.
He must read That Fat Cat.
Then he will learn to read better.
Then he can read Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Sam is sore.
He has read That Fat Cat many times.
He does not think he will learn now.
He does not like to hear
how far he has come.
He is tired.

Sam is sad.
See Sam kick.
Sam is sad and bad and mad.

BasMelech is mad, too.
She must be mad --
She wanted to teach Sam!
BasMelech is sad and mad.
And sometimes bad.

BasMelech wants to be good.
She is not so good.

BasMelech's friends say
Don't beat yourself up.
You do some things right.

BasMelech does not want to do
some things right.
She wants to be perfect.

BasMelech's friends say
Being a little good is OK.
Then you will learn to be better.
Someday you can be a tzadeikes.

BasMelech is sore.
She has been mediocre for a long time.
She thinks she may never be great.
She is tired.

But she gets up every morning
And tells Sam
to go on trying.

*Name changed to protect minors.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Out of the Box

I have a confession to make.

Despite gleefully participating in all shidduch ranting sessions, I have only once in my life filled out a profile.
Or tried to, at least.

It was one of those forms where you have to check off the boxes that describe you.
Great, I thought, multiple choice is so easy.

I got stuck right after the "Name" field.

The first question wasn't. It was simply a list of labels. Affix to forehead as needed.
I thought for a while.
I was neither chaseedish nor misnagdish.
Neither yesheevish nor heimish.
Not BT, MO, or OCD.
I was relieved to see "Other" as an option. I guess these shadchanim are not as narrow-minded as I'd assumed. I put a check in the adjacent box and wrote "Shomer Torah uMitzvos" in the space provided.

Next, they wanted to know what I was looking for.
The choices were dazzling: Learner, Earner, Learner-earner, Earner-learner, Bunsen-burner.
I checked "Other" and penciled in "Yerei Shamayim."

Next: Levush.
It didn't even give choices. Help.
I pondered the question and finally answered "refined."

Then they wanted to narrow things down by location. It was comforting to see that there is, in fact, life outside of New York (it's in south Jersey, apparently.)

The following part was a little game: I was to read a list of character traits and put a mark by No, Somewhat, or Very as they apply to me.
Outgoing: Well, I'm not the life of a party, but I certainly do go out. I checked "Somewhat."
Friendly: I have friends, but I don't talk to strangers much.
Smart: I'm no dummy, but not Einstein either. "Somewhat."
Materialistic: Hum. They're really hoping to weed out the Japs with this one, aren't they? Let's see, I'm not spoiled but I do live a physical existence. "Somewhat."
By the time I reached the bottom of the list, I had conclusively determined that I must be a somewhat unexceptional personality.

Place photo here: Optional.
Thank G-d. I don't think I had teeth yet in my last decent photo.
This might have something to do with my being the only photographer in the family.

Having at long last completed the entire form to my satisfaction, I proudly returned it to the friend who had given it to me. She took the liberty of proofreading it before passing it along to the interested party.

She got stuck right after the "Name" field.
"BasMelech!" She gasped. "You can't check off other! They'll think you're some kind of kook!"
"Listen, you want the truth or what?"
She sighed and continued reading.
Uh oh. I know that tone.
"What are you looking for?"
"My keys. Always."
"Stop it! Do you want someone who's learning or working?"
"I already wrote down what kind of person I'm seeking. Read."
"I did." Deep frown.
"So? What he does from 9 to 5 is irrelevant. Go on." She did, but not without a fight.
"BasMelech... Levush means, like, 'black hat' or 'long jacket.'"
Oh, now I get it. I kept my original answer.

In the end, she decided not to submit my profile. Thought it would ruin my chances or something.
As for me, I've stopped doing them. Wouldn't want to get into any more trouble, now...

I guess I just don't fit into a box.
("BasMelech! You can't say that -- people will think you're overweight!")
And I wouldn't want my chatan to, either.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Artists Revealed

The J-Blogosphere Arts Exhibition is getting fewer hits lately, so I guess it's time to roll the credits:

B4S drew the swordfight.
I did the fork, the old city sketch, and the painting of the girl.
Corner Point did the Van Gogh and the grapes.
Dreamer's are the kosel watercolor and collage.
Erachet did the comic.
Sarah did the tricycle.
Sharkbait did the soldier, the animals, and the one that DOT mentioned (how else to describe it?)

Great work, everyone! Thanks for sharing!

Here's how the next one will work:
Email me anything you'd like to share, anytime.
When I have a bunch of stuff, I'll post it and send out an invitation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chanuka wrap

Lit all eight candles tonight.
That was quick.

Just to stick my foot in the door before the last moments escape, I was listening to a shiur, "Lighting the Fire Within," by Rabbi Naftali Elsaz. He brought out the uniqueness of Chanukah from an interesting angle: Usually, when something pure comes into contact with something impure, the pure becomes tainted and does not elevate the impure. However, the Chanukah miracle is described as "temayim beyad tehorim" -- the pure overcame the impure. He went on to attribute that to the enthusiasm and zeal of the Hasmoneans.

The first thing that came to my mind after hearing this was blogging. I often wonder whether I belong here, whether the benefits outweigh the concerns, whether my pure intentions are enough to stand up to the tum'ah that is the internet. This didn't bring me any closer to a resolution, it was just a point to ponder...

I didn't hear it in the speech (could be I spaced out through that part...) but I think this is a message inherent in the menorah as well. Darkness doesn't kill a flame; rather, a flame dispels the dark. The pure overcomes the impure. Chanukah.

Then I mused it another step: The reason for the above is because darkness in essence is the absence of light. Once the light is kindled, the darkness vanishes -- it was nothing all along. I don't remember the specifics, but I vaguely recall learning something in the past about tum'ah being the removal of purity... that fits.

Finally, one last link to take us back to Chanukah: The above all fits because Yavan (ancient Greece) was hevel, nothing. Nothing is the absence of substance. Whereas previous oppressors fought for a different holiness, pushing their gods on us, the Greeks were godless. Beauty for its own sake, the world is perfect and they seek nothing higher. So instead of having to fight to destroy something, all that's needed is to bring back substance to end the vacuum. Light the menorah and fill the dark void.

Here's something real that we can take with us into life after Chanukah. It's time to put away the silver menorah and become a human menorah. By simply doing the right things, the Torah things, you are actively purifying the world. And you don't necessarily need to debate with a missionary to do it.

"Me-at min ha-or doche harbay min hachoshech" or something like that.

The highlight of my Chanukah, though, was getting to meet some people in real life. I felt bad for those who couldn't make it, so I took a picture to share some of the fun with you. Take a look to see who turned up!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The J-Blogosphere Arts Exhibition

Happy Chanukah, all!

Thanks to the following bloggers for their contributions (in alphabetical order):
Corner Point
and a friendly lurker who identifies himself as
Now see if you can guess who’s who before I reveal them!
(in about a week)
No revealing comments if you have privileged information :-P