Monthly Archives: March 2005

I've got a new gig…

Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life. When you are in school, the path is prescribed, you know where you’re going (even if it’s just getting to graduation day) and how to get there. But once school is over, and if you’re like me and didn’t want to go straight to grad school, you are booted out into the cold world, with 877 choices and few mechanisms to help you narrow down the field.

I’ve always known that I like to talk and lead, but how do you make a career out that, especially in your early twenties?

Well folks, looks like I’ve gotten my start. At 2:16 today, I sent off my application to be a part time trainer and consultant with the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Association. By 3:31, I was hired. I’m pretty darn thrilled about it too, because it will allow me to combine all the things I’m good at: talking to people and in front of groups, working to build young adult communities and helping solve problems. I (with the help of the talented Cindy) wrote a pretty terrific application. Here’s my favorite answer:

3. What identities do you claim? How do those identities impact your training and workshop facilitation?

I’ve grown up culturally Jewish, but religiously Unitarian. Having had with these faiths in my life has given me great respect for spiritual and religious diversity and how vital it is to a vibrant community. I’m a white woman who grew up in Los Angeles, Portland, OR and Walla Walla, WA but who happens to live in Philadelphia these days. Having lived on both coasts, I can speak the laid-back language of the west while still understanding the intensity and drive of the east. Living in Philly has also given me the opportunity to occasionally be in the racial minority, an experience that can be both uncomfortable and deeply valuable.

Over the last three years I’ve worked hard to become a runner, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate how running has improved my physical and mental endurance and has helped me to learn to push myself further than I thought I’d be able to go. I’m a democrat and a devotee of Subaru station wagons covered in bumper stickers. I am a social connector, a friend, a daughter, a listener, a laugher, a music lover, a liberal, a nurturer, a reader and a budding guitar player.

My experiences and background enrich my interactions with every person I meet. As a listener I can hear what my audience needs and adjust to fit. As a liberal I am open to opinions different than my own. Being a natural friend and nurturer helps me connect with people and express compassion for their situations. Being a laugher keeps things fun and light when it’s appropriate.

Things that never change…

Last week I was talking to my mom and we got on the topic of the things that never change in my family, and she said “You should write about this in your blog.”

So I am.

The large multi-colored, striped bead that “lives” in the hole in the cobbler’s bench.
The handcrafted foot stool my mom took out of a house my parents were thinking about buying when I was an infant, with the “temporary” leather straps nailed across for a seat (25+ years later, the leather straps are still there).
The heavy wooden coffee table in the family room, that I used to flip upside-down and pretend to drive it, like a car.
There are always pieces of furniture that are half-refinished and bare light bulbs without fixtures.
Appliances leveled with chunks of lumber.
My mom’s neat piles and my dad’s sprawling ones.
Dogs that throw half-eaten stuffed animals into your lap.
Guitars that are never more than a room away.
That quiet and the holding of hands will happen before a meal.
The 80+ year old oriental rug in my parents’ living room, that they bought at a garage sale in Chicago in 1975 for $200.
That someone (or more than just one) in the family is driving a early model Subaru.

And, that we love each other hugely, deeply, truly and without reservation or resistence.


I’m wearing a sweatshirt I got for $.50 and my glasses. Blue cords that are a little too big and my favorite danskos. I’m sitting at my desk, in my basement office, with my back to the window and my face towards the door. I was listening to my iPod earlier, but I had to unplug, because I kept missing phone calls. I keep having the feeling today like my spirit and my body are not functioning in harmony. It’s like my consciousness is a little restless and off-kilter. I’ll be sitting at my computer typing (like I’m doing right now) and I feel fluid, like I’m trying to escape that which keeps me tethered to reality. My feet feel floaty, like they would much prefer hovering near my ears. It’s a little disconcerning, but not exactly a feeling that I want to fight either. It’s allowing me to drift, to slide through the minutes without any attachment to the hours.

Spring has come…

to Center City Philadelphia and I got to bask in it’s warm-ish rays today. This was a most unexpected gift, because I started the day with my annual dose of jury duty. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind jury duty. I like the idea of being part of the judicial process, playing out my role as citizen. I even think it would be kind of fun to be on a jury (except that I don’t want it to interfer with my busy little life, so it could quickly become not-so-fun).
I like jury duty because it is enforced sitting-around-with-nothing-to-do-but-read time. And that I love.
I also enjoy that I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to, but that I can also dip into the conversations of strangers without compunction, because we are all strangers in the jury room. Jury duty is also the very best place in the universe to experience a deeply diverse cross-section of the population. It makes me realize how vastly and divergently this city that I live in is populated.
Anyway, back to the books. Today I took “Little Children” by Tom Perrotta and “Autobiography of a Face” by Lucy Greeley, looking forward to reading them both over the course of that day. I’ve been trying to get through “Autobiography” for over a month. I don’t understand why it is taking me so long, it is a expertly crafted book. But I know how it ends (in the sense that I know that Lucy Greeley killed herself a few years back) and so I can’t bring myself to complete it. What’s so weird about that is that knowing the ending has *NEVER* stopped me before. I’m the queen of re-reading and re-re-reading (ask my mom, we were just talking today about how I read “The Boxcar Children” over 100 times during my childhood, I shit you not) books. I haven’t given up on “Autobiography” yet, I just haven’t figured out how to make my through it yet, though. But with this resistance towards “Autobiography” in play, of course I started with “Little Children” which was due back to the library today (you’ll all be happy to hear that I read the whole thing today and got it back to the library without incident). It was a good book. I don’t necessarily think it was a great one. I guess it falls into the genre of contemporary fiction, which to me means that it isn’t always happy and things don’t always work out for the best. It had been getting really great reviews, so I’m glad to have read it to find out what all the fuss was about (but I’m the girl who didn’t like the movie Sideways, so my opinion isn’t always the mainstream one. Okay, I saw Sideways with my ex-boyfriend, which may have also colored the experience a bit. But I digress like crazy).
Anyway, so there I am, sitting in a relatively comfy chair in the juror room, with my book and my iPod, waiting for my name to be called, so that I’ll get to line up in two lines with a bunch of other adults, as we regress back to elementary school group behavior, when the jury commission gets up and says, “Well, this never happens.” What never happens that happened today was that five judges cancelled cases. So they only needed about half the jurors that were called. So, being that I am an incredibly fortunate girl, I was one of the ones who was given a pass to leave at 11:30 in the morning. In the time it takes to experience a refreshing sneeze, I was on my way, out into the sunny, warm-ish city, with no commitments and no work. Hot dog!
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to walk around Center City during a work day. When I worked at AACR, I was down around Independence Hall every day and ALWAYS made a point of getting out of the office, but it’s been almost two years since I left that job, and my scenery has changed. Walking the same blocks today as I did while I worked that miserable job, I realized something pretty important. Even on the worse day of my current job, it is never as bad as it was every day of that last job. AACR, my first job out of college, was a prolonged experience in agony that was made worse by the fact that it was a family friend who recruited and hired me, fresh out of college as I was.
So, I may not love my job, but my sense of appreciation for where I am and where I no longer am has been refreshed. And I am grateful for that!

Match Day

Yesterday was match day. If you’ve never had any affiliation with a medical student or school, than this won’t have a whole lot of meaning for you, but if you do you know what I’m talking about. Match day is that day when all the 4th year medical students find out where they are going to be doing their residencies. At the medical school where I work, they gather all the 4th years, their friend and family and anyone else who wants to be there, into the auditorium. The deans give little speeches, the class presidents give their thanks to the administration, and then the envelopes are handed out. The letters in these envelopes reveal the fruits of the students’ labor for their years of medical school. When the envelopes are opened, there are tears and laughter, shouts and cries and every exclamation in between. It’s a pretty incredible thing to witness, seeing 240 fates revealed all at the same moment.
The first time I was present at match day ceremony, it made me sad. I left feeling deflated, because I wanted my envelope too. I wanted someone to say that they wanted me, that they thought my brain was valuable, and I wanted all those affirmations to come, neatly wrapped in a little while envelope, just like the medical students. I wanted to feel the sense of security that comes from knowing where and how you are going to spend the next three or four years of life.
But that’s just not how it works in the rest of the world. The rest of us “normal” people don’t get this sort of assignment or direction. We are left to figure it out on our own.
Working at the medical school has been good for me, because at the very least, I know that I don’t want to be a doctor (not that it was really ever on the table for me, come on, I was a politics major). It was hard at first, because there I was, surrounded by my chronologic peers, who were directed, who know what they wanted to do with their lives and were pursuing it. I, on the other hand, was (and still am) floating through my life, without direction or passion. And some days it is still hard. I still look at these peers of mine, and envy their direction and ambition for success in the medical field. But it has gotten better.
I still want to receive an envelope with my instructions in it. But I think that these days I’m a little bit better with the idea of getting the instructions word by word, as opposed to all at once.

Scents and memories

Today a strange thing has been happening to me. Little bursts of memories have been jumping into my consciousness, things I haven’t thought about in years suddenly pop into my mind. With them come the smells of that moment.

There used to be a health food store on 18th street, just off Rittenhouse Square. When we would come to visit my grandparents in the summer, my mom would take us there, to buy vitamins or the occasional carob candy (blech). I see it from the perspective my child self, wooden floors and shelves that stretch above my head. It was always lit with sunbeams, the overhead lights off to create the sensation of coolness in the summer heat. The earthy pungent-ness of vitamins filled the small room. Coolers lined the back wall, filled with carrot juice, rice and soy drinks.

I’ve lived in Philly for three years, and this store has been gone my entire tenure in this city. It wasn’t here the semester I was here for school five years ago. It never even occurred to me to miss it, it’s been gone so long. But now, having had this dip into my memory, I feel equal parts longing and sadness for this missing store.
Where did it go?
When did it close?
Why am I remembering it now?

I am…

the younger, wacky friend. It’s true, in my group of friends, I’m the “alternative” one. I’m the only one raised by parents who were undoubtably hippies. Who has a visible tattoo and who dyes chunks of her hair colors not often found in nature. Who grew up in an alternative spiritual organization and who declares her intentions and desires to the universe, expecting the universe to answer back and deliver.
And yet we fit. There isn’t any discomfort or awkwardness caused by our differences, it makes our friendships richer and more interesting. We come together with our different backgrounds and histories, different educations and experiences and we speak in harmony. Not always unified but always united by affection, openness and genunine love. Hey girls, if you’re reading this, I love you all, I’m pretty darn lucky to have found friends as spectacular as you all!

A lazy day…

I took the day off from work yesterday for no other reason than I needed a day (my roommate is in Florida this week, I have the place to myself, lovely!). I went to sleep on Thursday night without setting my alarm clock and my sleep was relaxed. It was without pressure, there was no anxiety, no countdown looking at the clock, thinking, “If I fall asleep RIGHT NOW, I can still get 7 hour (6 hours).” Waking in the morning was equally relaxed, a yawn and an unpanicked glance at the clock. I read, stumbled around my apartment in my pjs and generally felt no pressure from the outside world to accomplish anything. It was wonderful!

Another reason I needed this day was that I haven’t been good with balance lately. I haven’t been good at getting enough sleep, eating well enough or having enough time for myself. So yesterday was a was to recharge my self time. But I need to learn how to maintain this balance without getting to the point where I need to take that day (although I also think that in this country we have a less than healthy relationship to time off). I have always been someone who overcommits. In high school I was on student council (I was the assembly commissioner!) I was involved with drama and I was hugely committed at the Unitarian Church. Having obligations and commitments made me feel valuable, worthy and special. People expected things from me, I would accomplish them and they would say how terrific, how responsible, how smart I was. I needed that role, that job in all situations, in order to feel comfortable. I realize now that this over obligation was my way of dealing with my insecurities and self-consciousness, because when I was in charge I would have to fake being confident and self-assured in order to complete my task. Over the years, I realized that by faking it, I was slowly learning to be it. These days I function from a place that is pretty darn secure and confident, which leads me to ask the question “what am I getting from all my commitments these days?” I don’t have an answer, I’ll keep you posted as I figure it out!

I'm right here!

Lately I’ve been feeling lost. Everything is hard to do and accomplish. What I know about the universe is that it isn’t supposed to be impossible. Challenging, but not impossible. We are supposed to be able to let go, tell the universe that that we are here, need help and receive it. But as much as I ask, I don’t feel like I’m getting much. Is this what I arranged for this lifetime? Because I’m tired of it, I want some answers!

Okay, enough whining.

Tonight I went to a Program Council meeting at church, the first meeting we’ve had since the ministers were compelled to resign and confronted the difficult reality that while they have two more months of employment, they have absolutely checked out. They are evasive about what kind of advise they’ll give us and are generally being a pain in the butt. It will be an interesting next couple of years, with this transition.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Friday night I went to the Art Museum with Lara and Ken to see the Dali exhibit. Dali has never been my favorite artist, I’m just not so much into that whole surrealist thing. Symbolism isn’t my thing, it tends to make me overthink, and then I don’t get it, because I’m straining my brain to figure out what they really meant, when it was actually pretty obvious. Although I don’t think Dali is ever obvious. But having seen the show, I’ve realized what an incredible, masterful artist he was. Really gifted!
Saturday was beautiful here, a little warmish with the sun making a much needed appearance in the sky. Cindy and I went to three thrift stores and the Italian Market. Our third stop was an enormous emporium of used crap at Broad and Girard that shows Bible videos on four tvs mounted in the middle of the store. Their prices for a sweater range from $.85 to $7.95 (it’s very random). I called my mom while waiting for Cindy to check out and it turns out that she used to go to that thrift store 35 years ago. That’s why I love living in Philly, the sense of familial continunity that resounds for me.
Sunday was an all-day Subud gathering at Simone and Bob’s house. I had been dreading devoting my whole day to it, but it turned out to be a really wonderful day.
Okay, it’s time to get to work!