An end and a beginning.

So this post is going to be written nearly as confused as my emotions are right now, I suppose. I haven’t written in a really long time. Not sure why– maybe a combination of feeling like my thoughts aren’t worth reading, the fear that my thoughts aren’t all that profound, and maybe just feeling like there’s not that much going on in my life that’s worth writing about. Anywho, I’m feeling so overwhelmed by different emotions that I just NEED to spill.

Indeed, I am now in an intense time where I’m about to leave my home, the student village in Rimonim, after having lived here for the past two years of my life. Packing is a b**** and it’s bringing out all of these emotions I’ve had stored inside for a while regarding leaving this place. I haven’t kept perfect count, but I believe I’ve cried about 8 separate times today. I realize now that the move is much harder than I’d thought. This place is where I made some of my best friends. It’s where I went through a rough period of depression and also where I got out of it. Rimonim is where I learned to share. It’s also where I discovered that I can’t always smell the stank other people smell from my fridge, and that fermented vegetables may not be as innocent as I’d thought. It’s where I learned that it’s okay to be around people when I’m an emotional or physical mess, and that I don’t need to hide. This place is where I’ve drank countless cups of coffee with Vitariz rice-almond milk while watching the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. Where I’ve spend countless hours binge-watching shows on Netflix. Gone on dozens of runs alone and with G, the funniest person alive and maybe the only person with the power to cheer me up no matter what state I’m in. And might I add, the only person I know who can make the dirtiest jokes while simultaneously seeming adorably innocent. This place has absorbed as much of my laughter as it has my tears (hopefully more laughter than tears, but if we’re being realistic, it’s probably even). Rimonim, where I learned to dance in front of others (with no “warm up” period necessary) and not think so freaking much about how good I look doing it. It’s where I learned that alcohol heals all wounds. Kidding. I realize now that I’m ranting. Oh wait, it’s also where I put countless hours of boredom to good use and finally picked up a guitar. Okay one more- it’s also where I realized that relationships are more complex than I had thought, and that they can hold both good and bad, positive and negative, fun and  boredom, ups and downs, and it’s all good. Okay, now I’m really ranting. Basically, looking back, this place was pretty darn meaningful to me and it’s going to be really hard to leave.

As I was cleaning out my room just a half hour ago, I made myself do what I’ve been putting off for a while. I threw out two things that meant a lot to me, which forced me to confront thoughts and feeling that I have been avoiding. Unfortunately, when you’re a youngster moving around from apartment to apartment every few years, you can’t keep everything that means something to you. It sucks. So the first item I’m referring to is an adorable poster that the first and second-grade kids in our after-school program in the yeshuv made for us, the students, in appreciation for all of the activities we planned and did with them this year. How the heck does one throw out something so cute with so many precious spelling mistakes? Broke my heart to throw that out. I really loved working with the  kids this year and legitimately miss those cuties.

The second item that I had to throw out, and I’m still a bit mad at myself for doing so, is this play-dough sculpture that I made with my client in fieldwork at the end of the school year. It was in a hospice and she was a relatively young patient suffering from breast cancer. The idea to make a sculpture was hers, and it was meant to be a frena, some sort of Moroccan oven that her grandmother used to bake in back in Morocco. We made it from her  memory of her grandmother’s description of it. My relationship with this patient lasted a few months and was really meaningful to me (as well as to her, I believe). When I finished my fieldwork, she was still alive. The decision to throw out the sculpture was strictly practical, and made so many emotions rush forth, and confronted me with the question of whether or not she is still alive today. I’m not sure if I even really want to know and if I can currently  deal with the truth if she is not. It feels really surreal to contemplate this as in some ways I still feel like a child. This episode is what threw me into my eighth crying fit.

So what I’ve learned today is that:

  1. A person can cry and laugh many times in the same day.
  2. Tears don’t run out that quickly.
  3. Breaking down into tears only takes a fraction of a second.
  4. Crying is a curious thing.
  5. Tears are endless, probably even scientifically.
  6. You don’t need a real reason to cry.
  7. I’m going to miss Rimonim a lot.
  8. Emotional eating is a real thing.
  9. Putting an unfinished bag of chips back in the cupboard is nearly impossible.
  10. Packing is a poopy thing.

Wishing for good new things this year!  Amen 🙂

-Ayala

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So many things!

So many emotions! Most good, thankfully. It’s been a  great while since I’ve written a blog post. Also a while since I’ve written in general, even in my journal. I guess I had found solace in these written means of expression when life was really hard and I needed to confide in something, before I had human outlets to which I was able lachfor (literally, “to dig”, figuratively meaning to speak too much about something). Now that I have good friends (thank G-d) and a therapist who allow me to talk my life away and don’t get sick of me (well, my therapist doesn’t really have a choice seeing as it’s her job, but what’s my friends’ excuse?). Anywho, today I suddenly felt like reviving my blog, partially due to needing any excuse to push off studying for my Stats final. Might I mention that I literally know none of the material for the test? I know names of random statistical tests- Pearson, Anova…that’s about it, and not what they are for or anything else about them. G-d help me.

So blog post, let me just keep spewing stuff at you. Where shall I begin? Well, I thought you’d like to know that I got dumped last week. It was pretty brutal. I was dating the guy (let’s call him C, for “confusing person”), for about three weeks before he ended it. I though the relationship was going in a really good direction. After sniffing him way too obviously (to the point of bumping my nose into his arm) and playing the “do I have anything in my teeth” joke, with a big piece of green-something on my tooth on the second date, he still wanted to go out on another date. I thought if we got past that, we for sure had another while left in our relationship. The third date was wonderful, and I felt so secure. After that date, we didn’t see each other for a week and a half. C was in the North of Israel babysitting his nephews, and I just knew that when we’d meet next it’d be exciting and wonderful. Little did I know the next “date” would be a big, fat dumping. And might I add, he gave me ZERO signs during the week that we were apart that he was thinking of ending things. ZERO! Why didn’t he  tell me that something was up so that I wouldn’t build up so many expectations?! Gosh darn it. Anywho, the break-up was super unexpected and left me with so many questions. A week and a day later, I still don’t understand it, but I must say that I feel stronger than I would have been just a few months ago post break-up, which is evident in the way that I already feel I’ve gotten back to my normal self and to a healthy level of self-esteem. Or at least to my normal level, which is a bit lower than where it should be. That’s not to say that I didn’t cry an ocean or send him desperate text messages in the “bargaining” phase of my grieving process. But at least I’m not broken, in bed, eating ice cream all day. I’m out and about and feeling hopeful! And when I say out and about, I mean on the couch in my living-room. Baruch Hashem! But seriously, can someone explain men to me?

What else might I tell you? Umm…my sister gave birth on Saturday! The drive to the hospital in Bnei Brak was quite frightening. We almost ran over about twenty haredi people who on shabbat were walking right in the middle of the street, moving out of the way only when we were a meter away from them. Anywho, thankfully we didn’t actually hit anyone. That would have been ironic, since my sister got hit by a car last year. So the baby is really cute, b”h! A bit alien-esque and weird-head-shaped, but I trust she’ll grow out of it. I want to just give a bit shout out to G-d for this miracle and everything else. Amen!

Wow, I am really hard-core avoiding studying. Hmm…what else can I tell you? Oh, I partied really hard last week. I also ended up drinking alcohol in some form or another almost every day. I feel like I’m becoming a party animal. Better slow down. Kidding, I’ve already slowed down…to the pace of a  67 year old retired woman. So far today I’ve baked cookies, played guitar, watched an episode of “A Handmaid’s Tale”, made coconut yogurt, and accused an entire Whatsapp group of youngsters of stealing my date syrup (when in fact it was in my fridge). I believe that I will have to work hard to get back to being a young, 26 year old woman. A woman-student who is supposed to be studying right now. I’m tellin’ ya, vacation is a toughie.

Anyway, bye til next time! Hope you enjoyed my chafira (mind-digging)!

-Ayala 🙂

Thoughts from this week…(your average beginning of November week)

I’ve gotten to wondering how much of what I do and how I act and think on a daily basis  is me, whatever the heck that is, and how much is me trying to act or be the way I think others want me to be.  I’ve been spending a lot of energy trying to be “perfect” lately, being subject to spur-of-the-moment bawling sessions at the slightest reminder of my own imperfections. (That might actually be hormones, I am expecting mother-nature’s monthly gift). But still, hormones don’t just single-handedly spout out tears. A real-life example of this tear-fest can be extracted from just this past Shabbat. It started on Friday night at dinner with my sister, her family, my brother, and two eligible bachelors. (Kidding!) One of them was actually ultra-philosophical-big-word-using-but-handsome-and-fun-and-liked-by-everyone-chill-rabbi man, if you remember him.

Anywho, someone (who shall remain unnamed) at the table made a critical comment to me that shed me in a super-imperfect light and so after washing the dishes (as every good female should do) I fled, crying, to my uncle’s house where I was said to sleep the night. I had felt  so exposed at the table, the blood drained from my face and it was clear how hurt my ego was. When I got to the house, the wrong keys were left for me, and as you may have experienced, getting locked out at night on Shabbat with no way to call anyone is not fun. So I’m sure you can guess what I did next. CRIED. That’s right. In my defense, I hadn’t really stopped crying yet from the previous event, so the tear parties were united. I then put my thinking cap on and went to my cousin’s house, hoping she was awake and I could sleep by her. When I got there, she was sleeping. I didn’t have another feasible sleeping arrangement, so I whispered her name to try and wake her and ask if I could stay. The first two times she didn’t hear. On the third she sprang up from her bed in a split-second with a panicked look on her face as if I were a murderer out to kill her. I could understand her shock, considering the unexpected nature of the visit and my all-black attire. She left to sleep on the couch so that I can have her bed and sleep comfortably.  In my fragile state and her startled one, I translated the whole thing in the following fashion: I scared the poop out of her so she hates me, and in that hatred decided to sleep far away from me. And now I ruined her sleep and she never wants to speak to me again. I cried some more. I cried myself  to sleep that night. FREAKING HORMONES. I kind of do blame 50% of that night’s crying on my hormones, because it is so logical calendar-wise and PMS is a perfect and defenseless scapegoat. But nevertheless, I do propose to take responsibility for the other 50%. I honestly don’t know what else attribute those 50% of tears to aside from maybe a highly imperfection-exposing, ego-punching series of events (and, of course, my inability to take them with stride).

And as if that wasn’t enough, JEANS! What the heck? Who makes jeans these days? Why do the same sizes that I used to buy not fit me anymore and why are the only ones that I can pull up  so short-legged, low-waisted, and small butted? Who would fit in those? After going to the gym a whole 5 times ALREADY this semester (and the year just started 3 measly weeks ago). I’m supposed to be fitting into SMALLER jeans. But, no! I’ll just keep wearing the same ones I have been for three years. The same ones with the hole-by-the-butt that I try ferociously to keep covered  by a long enough shirt. And the other two pairs that are slowly turning into shorts as time tears the inner-thigh rips more and more. Darn jeans. Sorry, I really had to get that off my chest.

As for the imperfections-thing I was ranting about before, I’m not sure how to go about solving it. I know I need to get back to a purer state of myself. One less calculating and more free, in which imperfections are normal and thus not surprising. Because if you really think about it, they are simultaneously beautiful signs of our humanity while being necessary guides for self-improvement. But unfortunately, I feel like I’m in the habit of ignoring my own advice. Yep, remember the last time I was all looking-forward and self-loving and told you to punch me if I forgot how cool I was? Well, you can punch me now…

When all else fails, date yourself.

I’ve hit on a lot of people this year. Just yesterday I hit on someone and after rejecting me softly, his words made dozens of other similar rejection phrases from the past year rush into  my mind and remind me just how many times I hit on people this year alone. There was the cute-guy-cute-note-wrong-car incident. And fellow-social-work-student-who-turns-out-is-gay-and-is-dating-my-good-friend. The wedding-ring-wearing-hummus-man. Arsy Chinese-studying-future-businessman library guy. Cute fellow-Rimonian-wise-but-funny one. There was also the super-handsome-perfect-photography-liking-engineering-student. And last but not least: ultra-philosophical-big-word-using-but-handsome-and-fun-and-liked-by-everyone-chill-rabbi man, who unlike the others, I knew a decent amount before asking him out. What did all of these cases have in common? Rejection (of me).

After each rejection I experience the same thoughts go through my mind. What is wrong with me that I can’t get a single guy I like to go out with me?; What signs was I missing telling me they wouldn’t be into it?; I must be such a specific taste that the majority of men I like aren’t even willing to go on a date with me. Forget the ones who turned out to be gay or married. Those are undoubtedly extenuating circumstances. I’m talking about the ones who knew me or semi-knew me and still said no. Of course, I’m not claiming that I’m so great that any guy who’s single should jump at the opportunity to date me. I fully understand not being “into” someone and the reasons that lie behind it, sometimes inexplicable or gut-feeling based. I really get it. But STATISTICS. It just makes you think…

Anyhow, this blog post is not about kvetching whatsoever, despite what you’ve read thus far. It’s actually about self-love. Whereas earlier this year these questions and thoughts regarding my self-worth may have haunted me for days (maybe weeks?) after experiencing rejection, after yesterday’s (ultra-philosophical-big-word-using-but-handsome-and-fun-and-liked-by-everyone-chill-rabbi man, in case you’ve forgotten) rejection they vanished overnight. How? I remembered how cool I am. This newfound sense of coolness and self-affirmation may be attributed to a number of things. First, to the trying-but-worthwhile katif (apple-picking) month this summer that allowed me to rediscover myself in ways that I haven’t in years. Or the super-long-all-day date I had with myself today that reminded me of such things as what activities make me happy, what causes I care about, and how much fun I am to be with.

So, as I move forward into the new school year and my inevitable aging, I plan to keep hitting on guys, because as a wise friend put it: “You only live once, so what do you have to lose?” And in the meanwhile I plan to keep on dating myself, because if even I’m not psyched to, who will be?

P.S.- Knowing myself, by next week I’ll forget I ever said any of this and be contemplating some self-loathing thought…PSYCH. Hopefully not! But if I do, feel free to punch me and make me re-read this blog post.

So to sum up in a few words: Date yourself while hitting on lots of people, because…STATISTICS! Kidding (or am I?). But in all seriousness, life’s too short to wait for people (hmmhh men) to make the moves for us. Plus, there’s no rejection too brutal that a bag of Bamba, bottle of beer, and chocolate can’t fix. 

 

 

Human Connection

Human connection. One of the most basic components of life, yet debatably one of the most taken-for-granted. How is it that we fail to see the healing potential in human connection  when we feel broken? How is it that the first thing that often comes to mind when feeling down is  hiding away and crying until we snap out of it? And yet as I write this, I realize that the next time I’m feeling down, my first instinct will be to run and do just that. But I’m all about breaking old habits these days (and when I say these days I mean starting today). As my wise friend wrote about so elegantly in her blog post (Relearning How to Walk), life is about relearning the same lessons over and over again. But no matter how many times I walk away from a good social encounter enlightened and excited about life, I forget that feeling when trying to get myself out of a dark place. But no more!  People deserve more credit. They’re great. Sharing the same wavelength with another human is one of the most life-giving experiences. Social connection LITERALLY has life-prolonging qualities (as I was told by my parents who heard it in a TED talk). Engaging with people you like is like looking in a really flattering mirror to your soul. It’s the realest way to be reminded of your worth when you’re feeling worthless. You can tell yourself from today until tomorrow that you’re “the worst”, “stupid”,  “a bad communicator” (and a million other things), but chances are that a good time with good people will have you coming out with a very different conclusion.

You might think, “well, if I’m broken, what the heck do I have to give to another human being“. And my answer to you is: yourself and your vulnerability which gives the other person a chance to express care and feel useful. Isn’t that what each of us are ultimately searching for in life? For a sense of purpose, usefulness? Sometimes letting someone try and fix your broken vessel is exactly what they needed at the moment. So the next time you’re sad (and I’m also talking to myself here), find a loved one, or even just a liked one and spill. Give someone else a chance to feel important. Think of it as your momentary contribution of goodness to the world. And when you’re good and healed, you’ll go and do the same for someone else, because you’re a great human. OR don’t even spill. Just be. Whatever you’re feeling at the moment. But please don’t  forget the value of human connection.         You too, Ayala. 

🙂

Negative Nancys, Positive Peters and Grumpy Garys.

Have you ever feared that if you let people see all of you, the good and the bad, they won’t want to be near you, maybe even abandon you?

As I write this, I feel as though it’s probably a common phenomenon,  but its giving me serious anxiety right now. But maybe the fact that I’m even  willing and able to show my less positive, less happy-go-lucky self to others now is a sign of improvement, of progress in my quest to express myself and make connections. For how can anyone know me, the real me, without seeing all of my sides? But right now it doesn’t feel good. I’m sitting outside, alone, ditching the beit midrash (that I semi-coordinate), and thinking about how much I probably pushed people away with my pessimism today. Why did I have to complain to Z so much about being tired at school today? Why did I need to kvetch to G about O to that extent, or even at all? Why did I have to act self-tiredness-absorbed with C, instead of focusing on her or anything else? I’m tired. I’m so freaking tired. I haven’t slept nearly enough this week. But does that mean I need to be a Negative Nancy? Probably not, but maybe its human…although I don’t usually see many people walking around grouchy as I was today. Why is that? Are they just Positive Peters?  Have they mastered the art of turning negative thoughts into positive ones? Or of hiding their real feelings? Or do they just not have the urge to walk around like a Grumpy Gary as I did today?

The light at the end of the tunnel in this pickle is that at least I’m feeling. Negative feelings, nonetheless, but at least not apathetic or hopeless ones. Not feeling-less feelings, if that makes any sense.  These feelings are real and an expression of myself, whether or not I want them or if they serve me well. But they’re there and they’re me: feeling, expressing, alive me. Not the me I was just a few weeks ago. This is a me who notices her feelings and is debating how to go about dealing with them, not contemplating the point of her existence. This me is where I’d rather be right now. A me I want to invest in, work on, and build a future for. Negative, currently.  Hopeless, no longer.

Kishkas.

Compass, where are you?

To lead me down this endless road

Of ups and downs, lefts and rights.

Where am I in all of this,

In all of the twists and turns

That I call life.

Where are my innards?

Where are my kishkas?

The kishkas that are uniquely me

And not any other human

Doing the same “life” thing I am.

Where is my compass?

The one that is supposed to show me

Where to go, which way leads to “me”.

Where are the kishkas, I ask?

The innards. Me. Where am I?

Where’s the backbone that remains

When all else is chipped away.

Where’s the speck of light in me

That remains in the darkness.

I am a broken record,

A broken person

Always on a search for kishka.

Where do I even start to look?

The pot of cholent is empty

And I’m all out of options.