Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cry For Help

It’s time to admit, I’m not above a cry for help.

cry for help

At least that’s what I’ve realize about myself now after several friends have said to me,

“Enough with the sad Facebook statuses!”

Or,

“Enough with the Philly bashing!” (Followed with concerned eyes and shoulder rub)

Or,

“We’ve been following your depressing Facebook status updates…” (awkward pause)

When did I become the emo girl??

Now, being sick for two weeks does NOT usually breed contentment. However, enough is enough.

Pity is not my color.

No really, I’m far too fabulous for that.

And on a serious note, I was VERY inspired for an attitude readjustment by this fabulous woman, Lizzie Velasquez

So it’s been decided. No more pity party for me. Yes, I miss New Orleans. Yes, no other city can be New Orleans. Yes, I wish I were there right now. But, I came North for a very important reason: to study to be a rabbi. And not only am I blessed to be able to attend a prestigious rabbinical school but it also happens to be in the same city as my parents and friends and in driving distance to my sister and brother-in-law and nephew and niece.

Also, my fiance moved to Philadelphia so that we could pursue our careers and support each other.

I am. so. incredibly. lucky.

Okokokokokokokokok…big personal revelation moment, counting my blessings, blah blah blah Why Do You Care?

 

Well, because, I’ve decided to dedicate more writing space to finding my heart and happiness in Philadelphia. Which means more blog posts! More fun! More self-deprecating humor! More family stories! Less sad!

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

Hello From Heartbreak

How do you make lemons out of lemonade? 

Image

Last February I made my way North from New Orleans to brave the cold to interview for rabbinical school. After the interview and the grueling Hebrew exams (which destroyed my confidence and made me wonder, “Did I learn ANYTHING growing up Jewish?), I met up with my old friend Jess in Center City. We ate lunch and discussed the possibility of my moving back to Philadelphia.

As a college student I loved to spend time in Center City. But as I walked around on that cold, sunless February day, I had only one thought that kept repeating in my mind,

“I don’t want to live here.” 

But here we are. It’s 2014 and I’m sitting here in Mt. Airy Philadelphia. I haven’t written anything of substance since Valentine’s Day of 2013 (see two posts below) for several reasons. 

I could give you a comprehensive list of excuses reasons why I haven’t written in this blog for practically an entire year, but it all boils down to one large one:

1. Leaving New Orleans has felt like my insides have been gutted. 

Pain makes great art, it’s true, however I was so sick and tired of hearing my own voice crying about how miserable I was to leave. And if I was sick of hearing myself, how would everyone else feel? 

So I kept it to myself as best I could and confided with close friends about how heart-broken I felt. I’m sure most people could tell that I was homesick, but up until now I made a point of not telling too many people. I didn’t think others would understand.It’s a rare thing to fall in love with a city. Not many people know the feeling. I was too hurt to open myself to the criticism that comes from those who are fine living Wherever, USA. 

But you know what? It’s f-ing January. JANUARY. And I still hate living here.

It’s really not Philadelphia’s fault. I just don’t belong here. 

Image

There’s another reason I haven’t written or spoken about this. I have many reasons to be grateful that I’m back in Philadelphia. My family and my closest friends are here. I love what I’m studying in rabbinical school. I’m a part of a Jewish community now that nourishes me spiritually and intellectually. I wouldn’t want to study anywhere else. 

Yet still, with all the positives, my soul is lonely. I miss the streets that would vibrate with the sensations of New Orleans. I miss the brightly painted homes. I miss the attitude of laissez les bons temps rouler. I miss the way people spoke to each other in line at the grocery. I miss the art that circled around me at every moment. I miss the Mississippi river. I miss the sound of the streetcar rambling past me. I miss the Oak trees down Carrollton. I miss eccentricity. I miss the lizards that would run past my windowsill. I miss hearing the local commercials. I miss watching Saints coverage. I miss the bakery near my house. I miss being able to go to a coffee shop at 8 p.m. I miss the dog park. I miss the Mardi Gras Indians. I miss the warmth of the seasons. I miss the local produce. I miss the slang. I miss everything. Everything.   

Image

When I lived in New Orleans, I felt like I was a part of something. All of us, we all loved New Orleans, and we all belonged to her. It was up to us to take care of her and shelter her from the outsiders who didn’t understand why the city which care forgot could and would and indeed thrived. 

I’m trying really hard. I’m taking my lemons, peeling the bright yellow skin, pursing my lips against the sour, and squeezing what I can. Every now and again there is sugar. Steven, my fiance, my lifeline. Shabbat dinners with our close friends. My beautiful baby niece. My baby nephew calling “Aunt Nini”. I’ve been told it can take a long time to become adjusted. But I don’t know if I want to adjust. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to lose it. I’m holding on to what I found in New Orleans. To the person I became because of New Orleans.

Six years feels like a prison sentence. 

Tagged , , ,

Hey Benny Boy…

Vickie M. Feldman 2003

Vickie M. Feldman 2003

I’ll be seeing you soon…

In honor of upcoming father’s day

Image

 

So funny. So true.

No, I’m not dead.

And I promise I’m actually working on something (!!!!!) for you to read. All in good time…

music interlude, part 1

In honor of my promise to see more live music in New Orleans, last Friday I saw Kristin Diable at Oak Wine Bar. I’ve been wanting to see her perform live ever since I feasted my senses on this little lovely:

Unfortunately, Kristin was not sporting a Marilyn hair style at Oak. However, unlike some musicians who use retro fashion as a gimmick to hide their lack of talent- yes I’ll watch a Katy Perry video, but only on mute- Kristin doesn’t need a costume.

We arrived later than we had hoped, so we were only able to catch the second half of her set. However, we were able to get a seat closest to Kristin, which enabled us to actually hear her over the loud conversations of 20-30 year olds, too concerned with their own social bubble to know what they were missing.

Kristin sang, played the guitar, and was accompanied by an upright bass player. Her voice retained that crystal clear quality live that she exhibits in her albums and reached a soulful depth many cannot imitate.

I’m not a music critic, or a musician. I’m just a fan of New Orleans music and musicians. My goal here is to share my experiences with you and hopefully open a few of you unlucky non-New Orleanians up to incredible music. For more about Kristin Diable click on over here: http://www.kristindiable.com/

Epic adult FAIL

If I were a superhero, my superpower would not be finance.

yankeepotroast

yankeepotroast

There are moments in my embarrassingly sheltered, spoiled life when I realize I should never have been let off the leash of childhood. Now, I am writing this fully aware that my parents read this blog, but I’m pretty sure they only remember this blog exists every three months or so, and therefore I am placing my bets that they will read this in November when this post is no longer relevant.

Sometimes my adult-ness is awesome. I exercise my freewill the way a junkie exercises her needle, as frequently as she can without any regard for the gross outcome. A bag of candy on my office desk at 10:40 a.m.? Let me unhinge my jaw so I can eat without chewing. Unlimited Netflix streaming of Friday Night Lights? The only reason my eyes burn after a 10 hour television marathon is because I haven’t been training hard enough.

When I have a good run with my adult-ness I feel unstoppable. I drop my clothes off at the dry cleaner and want a high five from the woman behind the desk. Sometimes, after changing the sheets on my bed, I think, “You know what? Let’s put some money in that mother f*ing savings account!”

hyperboleandahalf

hyperboleandahalf

This is what being an adult looks like kids. Take notes.

I grew up with financially responsibly parents. My father drove each car for 10+ years. My mother never let me buy clothes at full price. We bought bargain brands and ate dinner at home most evenings. Both my mother and father are gifted with math. Not only can they do it, but they enjoy it. It’s sick. My mother used to quiz me in the grocery store asking questions that would have made the Gestapo  proud:

“If this jar of tomato sauce is 32 oz and costs $3.29 and this jar of tomato sauce is 50.5 oz and costs $7.18 but comes with a free car and three months of cable television, which package of pasta should we buy to guarantee you get accepted to college?”

funnyjunk

funnyjunk

Not cool, mom.

So math has always been a touchy subject with me. Put me on the spot with a math problem and my pupils will dilate looking for a calculator and a sharp object.

Unfortunately for me, and all my fellow Liberal Arts majors, math is in fact an essential part of life. Which brings me back to the savings account. The fact that I even have a savings account gives me a false sense of adult responsibility. False because I hardly add to my savings. Now, I’m not blaming any said employer or anything, but I really make peanuts. And by peanuts I mean the bargain brand peanuts that you buy in the gas station that look like they may have been packaged in 1972. I try to live below my means: I don’t buy expensive clothes, I don’t have cable, I don’t need a lot of salon treatments to feel pretty. But I still manage to spend a lot and I’m pretty sure it’s because I have an eating problem. And I live in the greatest city for people who like to eat and eat a lot.

But sometimes, after changing the sheets on the bed, I think, “You know what? I haven’t spent that much money this month, how about I hop over to the friendly banking establishment and deposit some money into my savings? I’m so awesome!”

Wrong

So I went to the bank. I kissed the savings deposit slip for good luck, whispering, “Make mommy rich!” and waved goodbye like a proud parent on her child’s first day of school. At this point what couldn‘t I do?

hyperboleandahalf

hyperboleandahalf

Seriously folks, I was being a mother f*ing adult, and by golly it just felt so good.

So yesterday, I’m minding my own business at home on my day off. Then I think, “Oh boy, it’s almost time for my cell phone bill. I better check how many text messages I have sent…” I know what you’re thinking, “Texting, Janine? You have to check how many texts you send?” Yes. I have unlimited minutes, but that’s so 2004. I, even to the deep chagrin of my parents, text a lot. In their opinion, texting is today what rock’n’roll was to their generations’ parents. Society’s demise. But you ask, “Why does it matter what your parents think of your texting?”

Well, friends, because they pay my cell phone bill.

I know.

But it was time I came out of the closet about this.

My parents still pay my cell phone bill.

That’s the reason I have 267 area code. It’s not because I am so Philly proud that I can’t stand the idea of switching to a Southern area code. It’s because I can’t get my act together, and my parents actually feel sorry for me.

So I check my messaging amount and my heart drops to my stomach. I’m over. OOOOOOOOOOOO boy, I’m in trouble.

There’s nothing else to do right now, but turn myself in to the boss. So with my tail between my legs I call my Mommy and tell her I did it.

Again.

And then, after that humiliating phone call when I pledge my loyalty to the Jankovitz family and my disgust with myself and my carelessness I hang up the phone and receive an alert in my email box.

Oh.my.mother.f*ink.god.what.the.f.did.i.do.why.do.i.suck.at.life.so.hard.i.don’t.get.it.what.the.f. am.i.going.to.do.now.

INSUFFICIENT FUNDS!!???!!!! This isn’t fair! I went to the bank to deposit money in my savings account! I should be given a pass because I was being a grown-up! I gave the dry cleaning lady a high five!!! Doesn’t that count for anything these days???

I did it folks. EPIC ADULT FAIL.

I tried to save money: good.

But ended up taking too much out: bad.

And now the bank is charging me because guilt doesn’t pay for insufficient funds: very bad.

Apparently, when math looks like this to your brain:

sodahead

sodahead

You don’t know how to subtract.

Two epic adult fails in one day. Seriously? I can’t keep track of my crap at this point?

I told my boyfriend about this. I told him, “This is why you shouldn’t marry me.” And he laughed (or at least I think he did since it was over gchat-NOT text message Mom) and he said, “That’s ok, it’s just money.”

Silly boyfriend. This is just one of those cultural differences of growing up in a gentile home. “It’s just money? JUST MONEY?” I can hear my parents screaming at me from Philadelphia: It’s not just money, it’s irresponsibility. It’s carelessness. It’s  something our parents couldn’t do when they were running from Hitler, the Czar, the pogroms because there WAS NO MONEY and now you have money and you spend it on text messaging? How could you? Why don’t you just kill us now while we can still feel???!!!!????

hyperboleandahalf

hyperboleandahalf

Questions for New Orleans

Dear New Orleans,

Where are your writers meeting?

Where do writers share their work to the public?

Does the Writer’s Spotlight exist here?

blue period?

As shabbat is about to fall

upon my lap of another

week I’m wondering:

What the hell is a home without the ones you love there too? Hell, what about at least just a few great friends? Or how about even one?

via design crush

Maybe I’ll just break down and buy the damn television…

They are not going to call this my “blue period”,  they’ll call it the “you suck, Janine, shut up” period.

How To Be Alone

My good friend Leigh posted this on google reader:

I like the video (even if it is a little crunchy, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing). It makes me feel proud of myself that I’ve done all the things the video mentions to do alone. With the one exception of going to a bar alone, I would say I have a pretty stellar record of being independent. I relished my independence in Philly when, boarding a bus from North Philadelphia to Center City, I would arrive back at my apartment to concerned roommates who would ask, “Where have you been all day?” I traveled Rome by myself, even against my mother’s greatest fear that I would get lost (which happened) and be kidnapped (which didn’t happen).

I eat out alone. I go to movies alone. This is one of the many reasons why I crave city life. In the city you can be alone. No one looks at you funny when you travel sans boyfriend, friend, children.It’s perfectly “normal” to board a bus alone, go shopping alone, sit in a cafe alone, go to a museum alone, sit on a park bench alone.

For the first time in my life I am living alone. I’ve always wanted this, and now that I live alone I can’t imagine ever going back to living with roommates. But, even while living out your dreams challenges present themselves. It’s hard to be alone for long periods of time. Think of all the ways America’s consumer culture has taught us how to avoid it; laptops and wifi internet so that when you sit for a cup of coffee you can “do” something, cell phones and text messaging for moments on public transportation, televisions in restaurants for when you are eating alone. There are even televisions in elevators and by the pump at the gas station because G-d forbid you aren’t distracted long enough to realize you have your own thoughts to analyze. It’s clear that our culture wants us to think that spending a moment, or maybe five, alone with your own thoughts is so anxiety provoking that you should do everything within your (credit card’s) power to avoid it.

It was a very conscious decision on my part to not have television. There was a short period of time when I first moved in to my current apartment when I received two channels: CBS and AMC. It was a strange combination to have and it held my attention for different reasons. I watched the news  and a few prime-time shows on CBS, and would click to AMC every now and again to see if anything interesting was playing. After I exhasted my attention span clicking between Big Brother and name-a-random-Bob-Hope-movie-here (whose work is -surprise!- really misogynistic), I would eventually turn off the television to read.

My parents always told me, “If you want to be a writer you have to read.” As I’ve grown older my reading habits have gone from noncommittal to insatiable. With all my options for television pushed off the table, I began reading with a voracious appetite; it started as a means to settle my loneliness in a quiet house by myself and grew into wanting to bring myself back again into the fictional world the story created around me.

It’s still difficult to live without television. When the clouds turn a sickly yellow, my immediate reaction is to turn on the television to see if I’m the only fool in New Orleans who is ignorant to an approaching hurricane/tornado/some catastophic disaster involving fire and ice (and possibly the Mesiach?)It’s also unnerving when I come home at night, with no plans, and it’s just me, left to my own devices. The last couple of times this happened I literally had to walk myself through the emotions.

Yes, Janine, it’s ok to feel lonely.

No, Janine, you are not the only one in the world who is sitting alone in their apartment.

Yes, Janine, there are still people out there who love you.

No, Janine, you will not die old and alone on your kitchen floor, surrounded by a handful of cats and a spilled ashtray.

Even through moments like that, being without a television has really helped me learn how to be alone. (Side note: I’m still deciding whether listening to a radio or reading a book or chatting on the phone at home is allowing me the same crutch as a television would. I haven’t really decided on that yet.) Instead of filling my time up with commercials and thirty minute comedies, I’m taking in my day without interruption. I’m reading stories I wish I could have written half as well. I’m writing. I’m thinking. Isn’t that a scary thought?

I’m sure at some point I’ll buy a new television. But until then, I’m trying to learn how to entertain myself without all the advertisements.