Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sin & Prejudice

We look at people, at their smile, the crease of their forehead, the look in their eyes, and decide we know them. We arrange strangers by class, hanging labels over the people we meet just moments after meeting them. We converse with them momentarily, watching their lips move, measuring up their fashion sense and sizing up their intelligence all in the same time that we sort them into categories and damn them there forever. Or at least until they prove us wrong. We separate people into leagues, by size, ego and beauty.

And then we wonder why people do it to us.

The greatest injustice, by far, is the unfairness of being charged with a crime you didn’t commit. The prejudiced scorns cut the deepest. Searing like a knife to a chest that bears a heart that was misunderstood.

In simple, it sucks, a whole lot, to be misunderstood. Taken for a person you never were and never plan to be. It sucks when people have drawn boundaries for you, whispering out loud the things you’d do and the things they suppose you’ve done, who you are and who you ought to be. Determining, by the bat of an eye lash, or the raise of a brow, what you’re like, and what you certainly aren’t.

It’s so easy, but so foolish to guess who people are based on the superficial facades they cast.

We are too complicated to be read only by our faces. Far too intricate to be sorted by the first thing that escapes our lips. Nervous giggles don’t tell you what makes a person laugh and tearless eyes can’t say what makes them cry. Pictures aren’t worth a thousand words and words aren’t worth a thing. The only way to know a person is to get to know them. To touch them. To speak to their heart, like it isn’t the most cliché thing to say or do. To look into their eyes, and not see a shape or a color, just a person who is greater than their outer walls project.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sam I Am

Names are kind of crazy things. The unfortunate thing about a name is that you don’t get to chose yours and are left at the mercy of two people as clueless as your parents. You are at an advantage when your parents pick one of those plain names, like Sarah or Rachel, a small one, but a certain advantage none the less. Because then there are parents who will name you just about anything, as long as it has a special meaning. Like Devash- honey. Okay, its okay to call your child honey, but its definitely not alright to call them Honey. You know what else is not alright- naming your kids after a food you like. For instance Cookie, or Muffin, or Corn Dog. Those names make me sad.

It’s safe to assume that children with names such as Sun, Moon and Imagination, if not the offspring of a famous and hot celebrity, will be smushed against lockers at school. And honestly even if you are Madonna, you're still kind of running a serious jeopardy by naming your kid Imagination. Like what if he’s just dull?

And then there’s my name. Mushka. Not the cutest of names, but then again I didn’t choose to be named after a Russian race horse. And past fifth grade its kind of lame to detest your name. Especially when half of the Crown Heights community shares it. Plus I love how people repeat my name tentatively, scared they’re going to say it wrong, like if they do, something bad will happen. It’s also horribly fun to have to spell out your name and say it real slow every time you want to put something on hold at Barneys. But I like it. It’s different-if you’re out of the tri-state area and black people can’t get enough of it.

Anyway, my point is lots of people’s names suck but still, it’s pretty cruel and fruitless to tease someone about their name because we all know they had no say in this decision and given input, surely, they’d have chosen differently.

I only have an issue with a few names. One I have a particularly hard time with is… Sam. As in the balding old man from the epic game of Guess Who? Or the lovable Dr. Suess creature who refused to eat green eggs and ham. At one time, those were the only Sams I’d ever heard of. Those were simpler days. Now when I call out Sam (note, the “a” is to be stressed and dragged when pronounced) on Kingston, a pack of too-cool-for-school, metro Crown Heights bochurs stop to think for a moment (because of course they were hardly named Sam but Shmuel) and then look up.

If you’re up for it, try walking over to a bunch of skinny jeans and asking for their name. Even if you’re really only talking to the one on the left, they’ll all chorus, “Sam” and just shrug like it’s the most natural thing ever. Even though you know they stood in front of the mirror that morning practicing their new name until it had the effect of someone who that name actually belonged to. If you really look out for it though, the fear of getting caught in the act is unmistakable. Like a 15 year old who stole someone’s ID to get into a bar. Apparently for them, it’s a risk worth taking. The only thing I have yet to discern is, why do they want their names to be Sam in the first place?

See my problem with the name Sam is not that it’s gross. It’s that its self elected and intended to sound sexy. It is anything but sexy. I will give you $100 if you show me one hot guy named Sam- besides Sam Ronson.

Another self-selected name: Sean. It always starts off as their “work name” -because apparently Shalom is just too hard to pronounce-- and they subtly work their way to having their friends call them that. And finally when they’re brave enough, they come straight out of the closet and introduce themselves as “…Sean”. You look at them kind of serious and go “Who named you Sean?…Is your Dad Kevin Federline?” They shift kind of awkward in their place and mumble something like, “I like it…” and shuffle away.

I don’t mean to appear acerbic or judgmental and really this is all just a little fun, but mostly my point is if you’re smart, stick to the name your Mama gave ya, because choosing your own name is just too enormous a responsibility, and really it’s the one thing your parents get the blame for. Stick with it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Peace, Love & Weed

“No harm, just harmony,” was a little line I had deftly come up with as I was reversing out of my parking spot at the Harmony Festival. I must have swallowed too much illegally polluted air because the car kind of jerked out, nearly killing a few hippies in the interim. But no harm done; they just sort of shook out their dreads and shot me a sideways smile, thanks to a few things called peace, love and weed.

The Harmony Festival is essentially the kinus hashluchim for stoners, complete with perpetual music, RV’s and tents. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that many hippies flying in one space, lending so much inhibition to the wind, and it kind of made me want to hug a tree.

I can’t openly endorse the act of smoking, although Nancy Botwin does so impeccably, but I have to admit, those hemp clad free birds taught me some stuff about life.

Bob Marley, the ultimate chossid, advocated one of the most fundamental concepts in chassidus. He named it ‘don’t worry, be happy…’ Which isn’t the simplest of task if you’re earthbound but definitely something worth pursuing.

Upon entering an alternate universe teeming with peace and love, for a day kind, I was reminded, if its real, happiness really is the finest drug.

So now I’m high. I’m high off the energy I reaped from people who took the short long road to tranquility. I’m high off all the jumping and dancing I did, with my hands up high, bass in my chest and my heart in the sky. I’m high off the idea that if I let myself I can break free of the right inhibitions, I can fly without leaving the ground. I’m high off the things I learned from life without having to open a single book.


High as a kite.
Me, Hoovs, Smoosh, Noams and Sheins @ The Harmony Festival in San Fran.
June 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Candy Hearts

I'm not very good at beginnings. I'm kind of indecisive. Title of my blog is dangerously random. In fact, the whole idea of blogs are kinda awkward. Yet here I am, at 5:08 am- although its not so much 5:08 am as it is 2:08 am- (see I'm in Cali but I'm still on NY time- I have been for the past 2 months, and I will continue to be until I am back on the east coast) my fingers raining on the keyboard, like I know how to type. I don't. I guess I'm not really the blogger type. At least I'd like to think I'm not. Blogs are kind of brainy, or hipster, or starving artist with a Mac at Starbucks. I'm not really any of those things. Not ridiculously artsy and I haven't a crazy GPA. Or actually any GPA at all. I haven't had a decent English class since the emotionally sadistic Mrs. Efron in the sixth grade and I'm really more of a PC kind of gal. Besides, cyber desperation was never really my thing because the thing is, I like to keep my secrets, well....secret.

Still the blogging thing was bound to happen sooner or later.

This was just one more obsession I vowed never to fall for, along with the slimy MySpace, generic Facebook and for some reason....Snapfish, but later gave into. I can sometimes see Twitter, with a dumb look in its eyes, teasing me from afar. I can't only hope I'm strong enough to contain the temptation that must be building just inside my wings.

So why'd I fall for the cyberglitter surrounding societies' ridiculous time-drinkers in the first place?

Good question.

Well it all started with AIM. 10 years old. miks6. I think I had a grand total of 2 buddies for about three years before I climbed the social rungs in cyberspace. But I'd still sign on in hopes that some random uberhottie would somehow stumble upon my geniusly adorable SN and take me to cyber bliss. Oh, SN. That was just the start of the awesome abbrv. which soon evolved to OMG, wth and brb. I didn't know of any others, but as far as I was concerned I'd snagged the classics. I absolutely loathed only LOL, and LMAO, because they were clearly the cyber version of a nervous giggle. I've since succumbed to LOL, but I'm cool with that only because sometimes I really do laugh at loud and who can write 'laugh out loud' every time they want to express laughter, or the thought of laughter. No one, which is why I've okay'd it. I've yet to have laughed so hard that I started shedding important limbs, but I'm open to anything so I haven't yet damned LMAO to cyber hell. ROtFL, on the other hand, is unacceptable. I'm not even quite sure I know what that means. It sounds dirty.

Anyway the buddies came in seventh grade, (btw, do you know anyone who refers to their friends as 'buddies'? Because if you do, I suggest you de-friend them immediately) when I went to overnight camp and befriended some computer savvy campers. Jewish Heritage Day School didn't seem to brand people with internet skills. But Camp Emunah, now that was a whole other ball game. I was sure I'd arrived at internet paradise, when I found those little girls with SNs to tote. And at one time I thought it was my final cyber-destination.

But no. At 15 I discovered MySpace. And it was then that I took the oath to never ever have one. Super lame. It didn't impress me. I didn't think the 13 yr olds who, in their words, liked to,
"...bikeride, take trips to the beach and post naked pics..." were very cute at all. But soon, I found myself logging on to see certain people's pages and after a while of the site subtly recommending that I register onto MySpace to continue the rest of my stalking, I had to submit to a power much greater than I. Plus, all my friends had it and I kind of wanted to talk to them but didn't necessarily want to see them. And since AIM was getting kind of
so eight grade this was my only option. Plus I sort of liked the idea of having the liberty to embed any crap on my page and force other people to listen to Hey Mickey You're So Fine, every time they clicked on my profile. Also I'd finally discovered a hairstraightener and a way to pout in pics so that my braces didn't show. I thought the rest of the online community should profit from this metamorphosis. And they did. Until halfway through 10th grade when Facebook winked my way. I controlled myself for a while, mocking the replacement of something that was perfect in my eyes. Granted, MySpace was a little cheesy, the slut of websites, and a tad dizzing, nonetheless, it seemed to me a harmless (unless you count the minor abductions and murders) diversion and a fantastic way to market ones fabulous self.

But soon I fell servant to Facebook. It was the poking that reeled me in, I believe. And the fact that my big sister told me it was for college students. Ubersophisticated. The transformation was kind of rough. Transferring all my albums. Deciding which photos were too juvi for Facebook. Learning to navigate through pages that seemed uninspiring and naked in the shadow of the pimped out pages at MySpace. But time told. People started writing on my wall. My friends were piling and I'd come to appreciate the fact that people actually had to write their full name instead of some idiot nickname or something. This seemed to help curb some of the stalkers. It's also tremendously fulfilling to live life vicariously through the exciting lives of the people who post on FB. But after a while, we all had to admit that there's something kind of dull about Facebook.

Which brings me to this blog...Writing is to me what crack is to you. Makes me feel like I'm flying. I'm not a hipster off Haight but I love the idea of immortalizing myself, kind of Elvis, whatever that means. (Btw, is he really still alive? Plus why doesn't anyone argue about that) I am getting way off track. I was talking about Candy Hearts. Isn't that what we all have? Hearts that fall too fast, break too hard, shattering in a fine powdered sugar?

Don't we take our hearts waay too seriously? Seriously, if our hearts really broke every time we recorded it in our poetry we'd pretty much be dead, wouldn't we? How many times can you put a fragile Humpty Dumpty organ back together? Honestly.

But obviously we love being melodramatic. It's super fun. It does get old every once in a while, though, so maybe we should just keep in mind; it's just a candy heart...