Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Website of the day #1

I am inaguarating a new addition to my blog. Occassionally I come across a website that I find pretty funny or invigorating or educational and would like to share it with the world. Today I discovered This dude puts up descriptions of patents that are pretty ridiculous. For example the patent that led me to the site was for a cordless jump rope. Yes, you read that correctly. A jump rope without the rope. You jump up and down while holding on to the handles. Now come on, I can jump up and down without the handles too and get a nice sweat going. Hope the dude didn't spend too much money creating that prototype. Nebbach.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What a week

This has been like the longest week ever. Thank goodness all events were happy occassions so I'm not minding the lack of sleep too much. Last I wrote was Tuesday when I saw the Dixie Chicks at the XM Satellite taping. Since then I've been listening to the new album nonstop. I usually have a lot of trouble getting comfortable with new albums. Only listening to one song that I like the most until I know it before moving on. On Taking the Long Way I'd say at least 5 of the 15 tracks are totally out of this world. And another 8 are totally fantastic. Only two songs, Lubbock or Leave It and Everybody Knows I can do without. The best are Taking the Long Way, Easy Silence (best of the best), Not Ready to Make Nice, Baby Hold On, and So Hard. What makes these 5 songs so outstanding is that they are explicitly personal. They deal directly with "the incident", challenges in parenting while keeping your marriage strong, and infertiliy, which both Emily and Martie have discussed their personal ordeals regarding. They are just awesome awesome songs. I can't get enough.

On Wednesday the Dixie Chicks were on the Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite radio. Now, I don't have Sirius but lets just say I heard Wednesday afternoon from my brother in California (and a heavy metal fan in high school) that he is now a big fan of the Dixie Chicks. Not neccessarily because of their musical accomplishments, but more for their ability to keep up a conversation with Howard. They talked about underwear preferences and sexual escapades. Sure its bathroom humor, but alas, humor that a majority of Americans can appreciate, myself included. Natalie is a big Howard fan which I'm sure helped them get the spot on the show. You can't hear the show unless you have Sirus but you can read a summary on Howard's site at Beware though, I know a little bit too much about these girls now. Still love them though!

Thursday was my alma mater's graduation at Madison Square Garden. Since I work a couple blocks away and can't make donations to the school (yet) I figure I can make an appearence. Only know a couple graduates but I was mostly there to see some of my friends who had siblings graduating. Hung in the back with MGR and her kid Zip who finally is warming up to me. She usually just looks and me and cries. This time she was smacking me and laughing at me when I made fart sounds. Warning to parents, the only way I know how to entertain babies is with fart sounds. Just a heads up in case you were thinking of asking me to babysit. Also saw AK and SK and their tiny twin girls. So cute.

Friday morn. Woke at 5 am in order to make it by 6 to the Good Morning America Dixie Chicks concert. Last Tuesday I saw a tiny note on a Dixie Chicks press release saying that if you want VIP passes to shoot some ABC executive an email. I sent one with my name and info, then I sent another from my email with Destiny's name and info, then I IMed SP and told her to email the info as well. Destiny received a VIP confirmation. Shosh received a VIP confirmation. The chick at ABC is on my shitlist. Where was my VIP confirmation? She sucks. She better give me a spot at Kenny Chesney next week.

The Dixie Chicks were awesome. I was a hit in the crowd. I brought my iPod speaker and was blasting the album so we could all listen while we waited. The band finally came out followed by Natalie and Emily. I figured Martie was hiding after the world found out the things we did about her on Howard Wednesday morn. But she too came out soon after that. I couldn't help but scream bababooey a few times just for the hell of it. They rehearsed the songs they were going to be playing. They did Taking the Long Way, Not Ready to Make Nice, and Truth #2. They also rehearsed Lubbock or Leave It but that wasn't included in the live show. Only the big guitar ending of the song made it on GMA. They were awesome and the best part is we didn't have any jerk Dixie Chick haters in the crowd screaming at them.

Shabbat I spent in Crown Heights with my friend SW who had never been there before. When the sirens blasted signifying the 10 minute warning before the Sabbath began SW was dying. She thought it was the funniest thing ever. I had really nice meals at my buddy GPW's aunt Friday night and SW's buddy who she was in town for a visit on Shabbos day. Got a chance to visit ESS after which was nice.

Sunday Sunday Sunday. Sunday we had tickets to the Kenny Chesney concert in Hershey, PA. It was a super long drive but the time passed fairly fast, especially after we stopped for slushies and my bottle of scotch accidently poured itself into the cup. Whoopsie. How'd that happen? Dad, if you are reading this, I'm totally kidding. Everyone else, rock on! We finally got there at long long last. We entered the stadium as Sugarland was just finishing their first song. Jennifer was awesome of course but the sound people must have been stoned and the music was blaring so loud you could barely make out the lyrics. Kenny came on around 9 and played for almost 2 hours straight. To be honest, it wasn't the best concert of his I've been to. There were a bunch of songs I'd really expected to hear that he didn't sing. He didn't even sing "The Good Stuff". I mean come on dude. That's like his version of Tim's "Don't Take the Girl" and Tim never misses an opportunity to fit that crowd pleaser into his set list. I was fairly disappointed. Our seats were good. In the bleachers but directly to the side of the stage. We were far but for 30 bucks you can complain too much and we could see fine. When we left we wandered around the parking lot for at least 20 minutes trying to find our car. When we got to it the crowd leaving was not going anywhere. They had closed the exit to fight the traffic prob. My roommate MK soon to be MKR was out chatting it up with the security forces and convinced them to open up a different route so we could get out of there. She sweet talked them enough to do something, otherwise we'd probably still be sitting in that field right now. I was also handy as the driver. I don't know whats up with drivers outside of New York and LA. Can you believe they were all waiting in a single file line? I was like, are they crazy? I drove onto the gravel side of the road almost running down some post concert tailgaters in the process and quickly passed at least 50-60 cars. Destiny and I laughed as we passed cars with shouts of "WHAT THE F*%@!!!" and "HEY!!!" and "WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR AN HOUR!!". I screamed back at them, "YOU JUST WISHED YOU THOUGHT OF IT FIRST!!!" I got us back in good time (its easy when you are averaging 80 MPH on the highway). We only got lost twice, a new record for me.

Yesterday I went to a BBQ in West Hempstead at AK and SK's house. They were celebrating a bunch of different things. It was quite the challenging year for them but they now have two beautiful twin girls and everyone is happy and healthy. It was a seudah hodaah, or a festive meal of thanksgiving, thanking God for everything He has given them. Friends and family came from all over and it was awesome to be there for it. Of course, I was there for the free BBQ, but it had nice symbolism as well.

That was my crazy crazy week in a nutshell. Thanks for the support. Peace.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My date with the Dixie Chicks

Today was beyond beyond incredible. I got into my office and quickly emailed my boss to let him know I'd be out for a couple hours this afternoon and he asked me to come discuss it with him. I was scared shitless. I hate confrontation but my email said I'd make up all the time I was out beyond my lunch hour so I didn't have a clue what he was going to say. I think he was thinking I had a lunch date or an interview or anything. I kind of had a date. With the Dixie Chicks! I explained to him that I'd won a chance to meet with my mentors and that was it.

I got to the Time Warner Center for the show which wasn't in the Jazz center main room as I'd pictured. It was in the Education studio, a much smaller room, to my delight. Probably about 100 people total in the room including XM Sattelite Execs, photographers, and sound people, and 40 insane fans. One dude flew in from San Francisco upon hearing the news and we sat next to a mom and daughter from Knoxville. It was a really welcoming vibe. First the XM guy came in to explain everything. There was to be a moderator who would introduce the Dixie Chicks and ask a few questions and they would play some songs. Interspersed throughout the program, audience members were encouraged to get up and ask them questions. This was being taped for a national radio show! Of course I was going to take advantage of that! First I had to think of a question. I wanted to ask about the "Incident". In particular their thoughts about why they were getting so much flack while other musicians, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young most recently, and dozens of Hollywood actors have affirmed their disproval of the US government. But when I reached the front of the line they still hadn't spoken about the "Incident" at all in the interview. I didn't want to be the one to start the topic so I asked something a little more harmless.

I was cool as a cucumber which is surprising considering how awesome of a moment this was. I stepped up to the mike and said in my best fake phone voice voice,

"Hi there, my name is Susanne and I'm from New York city. I moved here from Orange County, CA at 18 when your song Wide Open Spaces was a hit and I can't describe to you how much that song inspired me". They all nodded and smiled their happiness.

I didn't include the fact that I peeked at the set list on the moderators podium and saw that it was the next song they'd be singing. Nice little tie in if I do say so myself. It was true, not total fabrication. I remember emailing that song to all my high school friends the day before I left for college. The first verses say:

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west (or I like to interject, BACK EAST)
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

Its such a beautiful song. I'm brought to tears whenever I hear it live. The question I asked them was, "In your latest video for 'Not Ready to Make Nice', which I LOVE by the way, there are some of what I believe are obvious references to The Crucible and the Witch Hunts. I looked around on some message boards and articles and never heard anything about what you guys say about it and I was hoping to get some of your thoughts on the video"

Martie told me she was impressed that people are picking up on that symbolism. Her mom is an English teacher and immediately caught that. Others are finding links between the Chicks and their war position. Natalie said some people actually asked them why her dress was shaped like the map of Iraq. She was like "what?!" Turns out if you hold up a picture of her billowing dress from the video and a map of Iraq they look to be the same shape. And the paint on their hands everyone asks if its supposed to be Middle East oil. They're like, no, its ink, like regarding bad press I guess. All three seemed very impressed by my question and answered everything I had wondered about. Its so cool when you admire someone to go right up to them and ask questions. It was such a cool experience.

Once I went back to my seat the moderator guy was talking about me. He was like, thats so fantastic that Susanne mentioned your song Wide Open Spaces. And just like Susanne said, so many young women were inspired by it. Or something like that. I was busy leaning over to Destiny saying, dude, the moderator keeps saying my name. It was so cool.

The set opened with Truth #2 from their Home album. Then they introduced two new songs, Taking the Long Way and Easy Silence. Both totally excellent! It was funny since a bunch of people were singing along and Natalie accused us of illegally downloading the music before it was released since it came out just that day. Then came Wide Open Spaces which was awesome. I honestly felt like they were singing it for me since I'd mentioned it a minute before. Natalie messed up a lyric in the last verse (I didn't notice, since like I mentioned I was totally crying from hearing her sing the song) and they had to repeat it. So I heard them play the song twice. I wanted her to mess up on all the songs after that so we could hear them play longer. Then they closed with Not Ready to Make Nice. This was awesome to see live because Natalie puts sooo much emotion into her lyrics. When she sings "I know you said, Can’t you just get over it, It turned my whole world around, And I kind of like it" She gets this coy smile on her face thats to die for. Like shes telling a story through her delivery. Not enough musicians can convey that.

After the show I rushed to get in line for a picture with them but they only allowed a few pics. I thrust my Time magazine with them on the cover through the throngs of people and got all three Dixie Chicks to sign the cover. I went right after work to get a frame for it. Its hanging right above my computer as I type this post. This is one of my most prized possesions now. I'd say its up there with my Granny's chai necklace that I was given the day of her funeral (and rarely take off) and the softball I have signed by Lisa Fernandez my favorite softball player that sits on my desk at work. These are things I can glance at and get great encouragement and inspiration from.

Next up on my country calendar is the Dixie Chicks performance on Good Morning America on Friday morning. I'll be the one wearing the cowboy hat looking all fired up! Then on Sunday (yay!) I bought tickets to see Kenny Chesney (my second favorite male singer after Tim McGraw) and Sugarland (my second favorite band after the Dixie Chicks, of course) in Hershey, PA. He is of course going to be playing Madison Square Garden next week, but its on Friday night, the Sabbath, and I won't be able to attend. Therefore I am trekking 3 hours each way to see him. Ahh, the things we do to honor God's commandments. I'm going with Destiny (of course) and my roommate Miriam. We were sitting watching Kenny Chesney perform on the ACM awards tonight, and I was like, wait, Miriam don't you have a car?..... And the plans rolled from there. Anyway, all this excitment makes me sleepy. Be sure to comment with your favorite Dixie Chicks song or lyric. Peace.


More on the concert later, but I wanted to share with the world...the Dixie Chicks Summer Concert Presale Code is..... t3RUzqPw2a

Copy and paste that code when ordering tickets on Can't buy them until June 5th if not and chances are they'll be sold out by then.

Good luck and hope to see you there!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

In 12 hours...

12 hours from right now I'll iy"H be entering Jazz at Lincoln Center. Its not exactly Lincoln Center. More like 6 blocks shy and located near the top of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The view is exquisite. Like nothing I've seen in New York. I found it more beautiful than the top of the Empire State building. There are panaramic views of Central Park and the surrounding area. Not only that but I will be attending an intimate concert with my favorite musical group ever. According to my big brother Alan at my 3rd birthday, that group would be the Go-Gos. But no longer. I am going to be face to face with the Dixie Chicks! And I thought today was a great day...

Today went really well. I finally took care of some things I've been meaning to deal with for a while, so that was a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Then as stated in my previous post, I was able to score tickets to an incredible concert with the man who first made me appreciate country music. I also emailed XM Satellite Radio who posted a blurb last week about a concert Tuesday afternoon in midtown Manhattan with 40 spots available for the first people email ticket requests. I never heard from them so I wanted a response. When I got home I made myself a big bowl of Honeycombs, the dinner of champions. Just as I was finishing my cell rang and caller ID showed a 202 area code. Who the hell was calling from DC I wondered. I answered and a woman said, "Hi Susanne, this is Jayme from XM Satellite Radio". I lost feeling in my legs. Thank goodness I was seated. She went on to tell me I had originally been wait listed for tomorrow's concert and thats why I wasn't contacted earlier. But because of cancellations I made the cut. I totally tried not to lose it but I think she totally heard my voice crack. But I did my best to play it cool. You'd be proud.

I am going to be in a room with 3 women that I totally unabashingly respect. They've gotten a lot of crap for what they now call the "Incident". On tour in London the lead singer Natalie Maines commented to the tens of thousands of attendees that they're "ashamed that the President is from Texas". Hell, I'm ashamed he's from the US but what can you do? This was on March 10, 2003. Ten days before the US invaded Iraq. These three women stated something that millions of Americans agree whole heartedly with. Yet they were chastised, their CD's were broken and set on fire bringing to memory images of the book burnings of years ago. Their hot single "Traveling Soldier" about a soldier killed in Vietnam fell off of the charts. How apropos, right? Today the President's approval ratings are in the 30 percentile. Or to translate, around 60-70% of all Americans basically feel the same as these three young mothers. They are also disappointed with the President. Myself included. The problem is, not all Americans are standing in front of a big microphone. Thank God we live in America. Home of the Free. Where everyone is blessed with the right to say and think anything they wish. Oh wait. Is that not true anymore? These women stood up and spoke their minds and were crapped on by tons of Americans. This doesn't change the fact that they are amongst the most incredible musicians I've ever heard or seen in concert. They could start going all kooky like Tom Cruise and I'd still buy their albums. And you know what, I think I just might mention it to them tomorrow in person. I am truly blessed. This was my best day in a long time. And tomorrow is going to kick its ass.

I'm the ultimate nerd

Becoming the ultimate nerd starts out small. First you have no friends answering your calls, your emails, your texts, or even your IMs. Okay, maybe thats not such a small thing, but bear with me. Then there comes a Sunday afternoon that you want to spend at the movies and you can't find a single friend to go with who is willing to sit through 2 or 3 movies. Hell at $10.50 nowadays, you need to get your monies worth. So on that cold December day you trek out to the movies for the first time all alone. I remember hiding in the back of the theater scared to death I'd run into someone I knew. I even formulated a story about where my mystery movie partner was in case someone asked. I heard phantom snickers and imagined everyone staring at me. Of course I was just coming to terms with my schizophrenia but so be it. Anyway, I got through that experience and realized that in New York, its a pretty common occurrence. All types of people go to the theater alone. True Nerds Unite! I'm now the expert solo moviegoer. I no longer have any shame. I'll bring my own microwave popcorn and pull the bag out of my backpack even before the lights dim and the previews begin. For some movies I even prefer to go alone. When I saw Rent I sang along to the music so loudly that I knew if I was with someone they would have died of embarrassment.

But today was a dark dark day for my self esteem. I was browsing Craigs List to help a friend find some theater tickets when I came across a guy selling 1 spare ticket for the concert of the year. Tim McGraw (and Faith Hill, blah) are coming to New York. For those of you unaware, Tim McGraw is a god in my book. I worship him. "I burn, I pine, I perish" for him. [Lucentio's line from The Taming of the Shrew Act I Scene 1] I am truly an obsessive fan. His picture is on the wall over my bed. I say hello to him every day. Of course his poster is next to Kenny Chesney but I like to let them fight over me. So when I realized I could not buy a ticket to the sold out show in NY I tried to formulate other ways of seeing the show. I discussed with DJ the prospect of buying tickets and attending the show in Hershey PA a mere 4 hour drive from NYC. Tickets to his shows are being scalped for upwards of $200. Thats nuts in my book. So when I saw that this dude had posted his extra ticket for face value I jumped at the opportuinty. I have in the past bought two tickets to country shows and found (or forced) a friend to go with me. But I realize all I do is stand up and sing the songs at the top of my lungs usually ignoring them, and the sneers from my surrounding concertgoers. I tend to annoy my companion. So who gives a crap. I have no shame. I survived my first movie experience, I can survive this. I'll admit, the idea of attending alone is embarrassing, but I'm willing to risk my street cred for an incredible evening alone (okay, within 100 yards of) my main man Tim McGraw. Wish me luck. Peace.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

10 Reasons to Date a Softball Player

Found this on an old friend's MySpace page. A little grotesque, but to the point.


1. We AlwAyS uSe OuR hIpS fOr PoWeR..
2. We CaN hAnDlE tHe HeAt!
3. WhEn It GeTs HaRd We AlWaYs PuLl ThRoUgH
4. We MaKe SuRe We ToUcH eVeRy BaSe CaReFuLlY bEfOrE sCoRinG..
5. We CaN dO 9 dIfFeReNt PoSiTiOnS iN 75 mInUtEs.
6. We'Ll Go InTo ExtRa InNiNgS iF nEeDeD..
7. WeRe NoT afRaId To GeT dOwN aNd DiRtY
8. We'Ll Do AnYtHiNg To ScOrE
9. We DoNt MiNd DoInG iT wItH oThErS
10. We AlWaYs FiGhT bAcK wHeN bEhiNd In ThE gAmE

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mom's response

I'm home sick today in case anyone wants to bring me some chicken soup from KD for dinner. I'm really not doing good. Haven't felt this sick in a long time. Went to sleep with a sore throat and headache. Woke up with a sore throat and headache as well as the sniffles and some out of control sneezes. And then the coughing started. I think I'm dying.

In other news, I have 3 chicks coming to check out my apartment in 5 hours. The place is a mess with little bits of kleenex hanging out everywhere. No one is ever going to live here. I am going to have to my rent by myself which in case your wondering is more than I make each month. Like a lot more. Blame that on my love for non-profit work. Gratifying but Thank God I have a trust fund. Just kidding mom. I don't really have one. I like to joke.

In fact, I am so frugal with my money that my dad has told me in the past that I need to spend more money. Isn't he great? Usually in Daddy School (you know the place, its where they learn to avoid crying in front of the kids and how to give those stern talking to's) they learn to say just the opposite. "Do you have to go to the mall every week?", "Didn't you already buy a dress for your party?". My dad says, "Go out and treat yourself." He is a cool dude. I just think he hates my clothes. My dad read on my bro's MySpace page that my bro gets along with his parents "real well" as Alan puts it. Since Dad has told me this fact several times I just want him to know I dig him too. I like you too Mom, don't wanna leave you out. You know I'm a big fan! Mom just told me that she read my entire blog last night. This is what she does. She stays up all night on the computer until she falls asleep typing. So I asked her what she thought. She said, "Wow, I felt like I was reading The Diary of Susanne Goldstone". Don't worry Mom, no Nazis in this story. Baruch Hashem! Back to bed. Peace.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Phone Update

I just spent an hour entering all of your phone numbers into my new phone. Well, kind of new. I had those shmegegs at Verizon switch my number into my mom's old phone. After last week's debacle where they charged me 200 bucks for the same phone I already owned and is now living happily at the bottom of the Mt Sinai sewer grate, I vowed to find another Verizon phone so I could switch it over and get my 200 bucks back. I sent my mom to her Verizon store in Cali where she sweet talked her way to a new phone and mailed me her old one. All I had to do was clean off the lipstick marks and it was good as new. When I finally got to the front of the line this rather effeminate man told me I'd have to pay 20 bucks to switch over the phone. They never mentioned a fee during our fight last week in the Verizon store so I was super pissed off and totally told the dude off. But he still couldn't waive it. When I handed over the credit card the dude wasn't looking so I said "Sir" and immediately was embarrassed because this dude was more feminine than me. Hell he was more feminine then Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blond. Hey if sir was good enough for Peppermint Patty it should have been good enough for him. Either he didn't hear or doesn't respond to people calling him sir but he finally looked up and took the card to refund the 200 bucks back on to my card. Funny thing is he never had me sign a receipt for the 20 buck change fee so he either forgot or was scared for his life after I freaked out about the fee. Who knows. Anyhoo, I'm out of here. Peace.

Turf Sucks!

First off a shout out to JZ, ES's BF. Go Yankees! Win some games!

Alright. So last night I had a 6 pm softball game at City College/137th street (read: Upper Harlem). For those of you not anywhere on the east coast, we had some massive downpours the last couple days. I assumed our game would be cancelled but the league commissioner said that this field is astroturf so rain won't make it muddy. Course it won't....but it doesn't mean it didn't leave puddles all over the place. Wet turf is kinda like wet carpet, spongy and smells a little funny. It also means its verrryy slippery. This made for an interesting game. I, of course, was once again stellar! Game was scheduled to start at 6 pm. We finally began a few minutes after. Problem was two-fold. The next game on this field was scheduled for 7 pm leaving us less than 60 minutes of play time. And our umpire was a prick. He held the league softball rules closer than the Bible. When YR made a fabulous catch at first base, he called the batter stay safe at first because YR was fielding with a first baseman's mitt. Such crap. No warning, just a penalty. If a sport's umpire or referee doesn't check equipment before a game he should give a warning before screwing us over. So he made us have a super quick one hour softball game which is so unfair since we pay mucho money to play in the stupid league. Meanwhile across the way at the other field their umpire didn't call an end to their game after an hour. Like I said, this dude went by the book. It took me an hour to get to this field and there was no way in hell I was only playing for an hour. So I scoped out the next team playing on our field. They seemed to be missing a few players so I volunteered my exceptional skills and they happily let me join their game. It was a really nice group. One dude's name was Hung and another was Andres. Very different than my team which is all Yosefs and Noahs. We played a team called Rothstein Kass. I took bets that they were an accounting firm. I was right. Their girls sooo gave it away. I can spot an accountant from miles away. I like them. They itemize my bills for me. All in all I was fantastic. I was 5 for 6 hitting. Which added to my 3 for 4 last game gives me a .800 batting average!!! For those of you who don't know...that's really good. Hell a .300 average is really good! Its not that crazy when you think about it. This is slow pitch lob softball. If you aren't swinging for the fences you will get a hit everytime. Just need to dink it in there and never never hit a pop fly. Those are cursed in this league. Game highlights: 1) fighting with the umpire over the rules. 2) My homerun that turned into a double when I slipped going around first and fell on my face on this retarded field when the base decided to slide out of place as a made my turn. 3) My first stretch at first base when the base once again dislodged and I practically did the splits. It hurt. 4) The black Softball Rule Nazi umpire asking Yeshivish/Machmir definitely not Liberal, plays in a skirt and stockings DH for her number after the game. She says he wants her to play for his team. Um, yeah, I don't think thats what he has on his mind. 1830, you played good, but not that good. He thinks you're hot. He wants you. Peace.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

As promised

This was written by me for my organization's upcoming newsletter that is distributed to synagogues and outreach organizations all over North America. Its basically a very personal account of my climb up the ladder towards greater Jewish observance. A lot of it is fluff since I haven't written a 1000 word essay since college (and also the fact that I never even applied to UCLA), but so be it. Enjoy and feel free to comment or email me with any questions. Take it easy and God Bless.


People ask me all the time why I became religious, and, for the longest time, I didn't have an answer. Growing up, I had attended public school, played varsity sports and was even nominated for Prom Queen. As high school graduation approached, I told people that I had decided to attend Yeshiva University in New York, and they were flabbergasted. They asked all sorts of questions: Why hadn't I decided on UCLA or USC like most of my other friends? What is a yeshiva? Do you want to be a rabbi? I explained to them that I liked the idea of the co-curriculum that Yeshiva University offered. In addition to the Liberal Arts and Science classes that other colleges offer, Yeshiva U. required all students to take a full course load of secular subjects as well as classes in Judaic studies, Jewish history and philosophy, and the Hebrew language. To be honest, I liked the idea that these classes were required. It wasn't up to me whether on not to take a class. It was the rule.

My parents had made sure we knew our heritage. We attended a synagogue with a traditional Rabbi and were only sent to Jewish summer camps. We went to services on the High Holidays and my brothers and I had our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at 13 -- mostly for the party and presents, but so be it. We happily ate my Granny's latkes every holiday, whether it was Chanukah, Passover, or Thanksgiving. We were, in my eyes, an ordinary Jewish American family. To me, going to temple, having a seder, dancing the horah at my Bat Mitzvah, were all physical things. I wasn't connected to the spirituality of these events.

The camp I attended every summer in Southern California was run by an Orthodox group. It was an interesting mix of kids -- half came from observant homes, the other half were public school kids just like me. As you can imagine, they infused a lot of Judaism into the camp day. Each morning started with prayer groups. The religious kids were given a prayer book and a chance to pray on their own. The rest of us would sit with a counselor singing Jewish songs and learning a few prayers. I remember being envious of the religious kids. I saw them swaying back and forth with their eyes closed murmuring things in Hebrew. I remember thinking, how cool is that! It was as if they were having their own little meeting with God. All I felt like I was doing was singing words to a tune. I wanted to know how to do what they were doing.

Being a typical preteen, when posed with the option of a Shabbat program with my youth group or a Saturday morning softball game, I chose softball. When offered an optional prayer class or a trip to the mall and the 7/11, I chose the Slurpee. I liked the idea of increasing my understanding of Jewish observance but could not be compelled enough to give up all the other things I enjoyed doing.

As it came time to choose a college, somewhere in my subconscious I realized it was time to make things happen. Two choices stood before me: UCLA with its active Hillel offering abundant classes on Jewish topics or Yeshiva University, where Jewish class attendance was not voluntary but expected of the entire student body. I was 18 years old and decided to opt out of the easy choice. Instead I chose to trek cross country to attend Stern College at Yeshiva University in New York City and begin my formal Jewish education. This choice changed my life.

While at the university, I attended all the beginner’s track Judaic studies classes. I took Beginner’s Hebrew, Beginner’s Bible (starting with Genesis, of course), and Beginner’s Jewish philosophy. The classes that interested me most, however, were those that taught how to lead a Jewish life. It was in these classes that I learned what it really means to believe in God, the significance of Jewish life cycle events, and the topic that forever intrigued me, how to pray. Classes on prayer brought back those memories of camp and how badly I wanted to daven like the other kids.

Not only did I learn how to pray and what to pray, but I learned why we pray. Prayer is sometimes referred to as service from the heart. It literally is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with God. We can praise Him for everything done for us. We can ask Him for the things we need, like good health and sustenance. And we can thank Him for always being there for us and listening to us when we need Him. Before I learned this, the only time I really prayed was while opening my report card or while stepping up to bat at my softball games. I finally understood the spirituality of it all. Its not just murmuring words. Its about feeling what you are saying and speaking from your heart, not just your head.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. No one is. Everyday I feel like I have the opportunity to do more with my life religiously and spiritually. I have taken my religious growth very slowly. I believe all Jews have a flame ready to burn brightly within them, and all they need is a spark to ignite it. I've seen people take on too much too quickly on their path towards observance. These individuals were not able to hold on to that spark. I started small, reciting blessings over food, going to synagogue on Shabbat, and most recently, reciting mincha, the afternoon prayers, every single day. Everyone is capable of being a good Jew. It takes just one act, one mitzvah, to get started. Go visit a friend that’s in the hospital. Make a commitment to learn Hebrew so you can follow along at services. Give to charity. Whatever it may be, it’s these little acts that help perfect the world and make living here a more peaceful experience.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's coming....

Tomorrow I am planning to iy"H post my BT Manifesto. Hope you're ready for it.


This is a shout out to my newest reader. Lord knows how he found my MySpace page but I am happy that my dad Harvey enjoys my blog. He now calls me Rabbi Susanne. I love you dad! You rule!

Heights Safety

Local Man Murdered in Mugging - News

On May 2nd an 81 year old man in the community was beaten in the elvator of one of the local apt buildings and subsequently died of his injuries. It was 11 am on a Tuesday. I had lunch with SP that day and she had already gotten a call from her mom in Montreal about the incident. The older gentleman Jacob Gerstle was beloved in the Washington Heights. He headed the Breuer's Chevra Kadisha a highly respected position in a Jewish community. The assailant was a 6'7" homeless dude who has been tied to similiar crimes last summer on people who ranged in age from 69 to 84 years old.

Broad daylight? Beating up on old men? William Hill was arrested Friday night and will be tried for murder. I mean, come on man, its an old man. He probably had 50 bucks in his wallet. You could have grabbed it and ran. An 81 year old isn't going to chase a 24 year old twice his size. You didn't have to beat him in the face with your brass knuckles. I hope this bastard gets fried. Or even better, becomes someone's bitch in prison. Everyone needs to be vigilant. Its not rude to let the door slam behind you when someone is following you into your building. If it turns out to be your neighbor, blame your iPod. Say you didn't see them. If you are in an elevator with a dude and are spooked don't look down and ignore him. Look him in the eye. Get a real good look at him. Let him know that you could identify him in a line up if he pulls something on you. Even better (and this also works when you are staring down a pitcher, I used the move yesterday at my softball game and hit a double), smile at him. Let's take back the streets Washington Heights!!! Wow, that was a dramatic ending. Peace.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Oh Rachael

Shout out to my friend Rachael. She is going on a singles weekend and shes bringing 8 outfits for two days. I love the girl. Also mazel tov to her since her little bro was just chosen as valedictorian of YU. I love her. Even though shes Canadian. I won't hold it against her. This time.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I hate skirts

I hate skirts. This isn't a religious statement. Its a fashion statement. All clothing in my opinion should have pockets. You'll never see a pair of men's slacks without pockets. But many skirts, in particular, dressier skirts, never have pockets. Not to delve into modern day sexism or anything but I'm sure that it has something to do with the fact that men are supposed to carry around the money and therefore need pockets. But my uber-feminist ideas are not what I am trying to point out here. What I would like to do is complain that yesterday my skirt had no pockets.

So yesterday I had a totally packed day. In the morning there was a fistfight on my subway so the train waited in the station for like 20 minutes. They were paging the police to respond. This was the 59th street station. For those of you familiar, there is a NYPD substation in the upper level of this subway stop. After paging for 5 plus minutes two chubby bald cops came tottering down the stairs. It was like watching a cop satire unfolding in front of me. I felt like they should have been eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. Thank goodness is was just an argument and no one was lying down bleeding on the platform. The cops' response was ridiculously slow.

At lunch I had a hot lunch date (Shout out to SP) at Megabite the best pizza/anything else joint in NYC. Its on 38th and 6th ave. If you work within 20 blocks you should come here for lunch everyday!

At 6 pm I left for my softball practice in Central Park. Our coach/dude who sends out emails AD got us a choice field right off of the west side. For those of you who do not know, I now have long hair. I've never had long hair in my life so I am still trying to get used to it. So as I was trying to shag some popflys my hair was alllll over the place. I couldn't see crap! Luckily my friend JP let me borrow his hat so I wouldn't embarrass myself further with missed catches blamed on my hair. That doesn't reflect well on women using an excuse like that. After practice AD gave JS and I a ride back to the Heights which was great because I would have 20 minutes or so to eat some food before running to basketball. Okay, okay, I didn't hurry home to eat but to set my TiVo to tape the final episode of 7th Heaven. Shhh, I didn't watch how it ends yet. Hopefully not like Six Feet Under and its creeping death scene endings. Or Roseanne and her whole, it was just a dream sequence ending. Annoying much! Then I helped my roommate shlep our recylables to the basement where we encountered our neighbor/broker NS and his wife and daughter doing their laundry. We chatted for a little bit and then a ran to basketball.

Just a reminder, I hate skirts. I was jogging to Mt. Sinai where we play basketball on Monday nights. I shoved my keys and cell phone in the loose pocket of my zip sweatshirt. We have been having trouble getting a minyan for basketball the past month or so. Only about 3 of 4 chicks show and we give up and go home. So I knew if I didn't come, even though I was tired, hungry, and sore, I would feel bad if they were one short from being able to play a real game. So I was sprinting (yes I can sprint, I'm pretty fast too!) down 187th street and nearing the corner of Bennett. All of a sudden, as if in slow motion, my beloved cell phone flew from my stupid sweatshirt pocket and skidded down the street. It was like out of a war film. I screamed NNNnOOOooooo!!! It came to stop teetering over the edge of the curb and then fell to its death in the sewer below. I sat on the curb in front of my synagogue quietly weeping, mourning the death of my friend. Actually thinking more in terms of, I am such a bonehead. Now everytime I walk to shul I'm going to think, I am such a moron, I dropped my phone down the sewer. There goes all my kavanna. Then my buddy/expert chef LZ came by on her way to bball. She wanted to know why I was lying down in the street. I told her and we tried to see it but could not. The battery had fallen out so calling it did not cause it to light up. We considered all the options. I asked to borrow LZ's cell so I could let my mom know what happened. As she was handing it over she saw I was sitting on top of the sewer grate and for some reason became reluctant to hand it over. Wonder why? Anyway, LZ ran to ZK and TI's apt to grab a flashlight. We shined the flashlight into the sewer and saw it about 5 feet down covered in slime and a rat was trying to dial his cousin Rizzo the Rat from the hit movie Muppets Take Manahattan (shout out to Nili). After a couple other failed attempts to find emergency recovery tools (including LZ's attempt at flirting with a firefighter AND the shul super) we gave up and went home. I'm leaving now to visit the dingbats at Verizon to get a new phone. I'm happy to help the rat reconnect with his long lost relatives. I hear Tatooey the Rat and Yolanda Rat are also in town.

Moral of the story, skirts suck. If I had a pocket this never would have happened. If you would like me to have your phone number please shoot me an email with your info so I can put it in my new phone. If you don't know my email check the guide. Thanks to those of you that offered to call Brad Pitt for me to cancel our lunch date. I can't believe that two timer is prancing around Africa with that tramp Angelina. Humph! Peace!

It is now 3:30 pm on Monday and I wanted to add an addendum to the post about my phone. I will be sitting shiva tonight for my phone at the sewer grate next to the YU van stop at 187th and Bennett Ave directly across from Mt. Sinai. On a more serious note, I went to Verizon today to get my new phone. I was informed that I am still a couple months shy of my phone upgrade and since I don't have insurance (because insurance is for suckers!) I was stuck spending $200 to get the same damn phone thats sitting at the bottom of the sewer. Being a penny pincher that doesn't make any money, I started tearing up in Verizon. Like seriously I was about to start bawling. At first I was all optimistic that I'd get a better phone and the only thing lost would be the numbers, which since my friends are totally awesome, I already got emails with lists of peoples numbers. Now I'm 200 bucks down the sewer drain that could have gone toward my next iPod. I am sad now. But they said that if I find a compatible Verizon phone and I bring it in I can return this phone and get a complete refund. Thank goodness. I can pay rent for another month. Phew! If you or anyone you know has seen a phone such as the one described please inform the local authorities. Or just give it to me so I can get my 200 bucks back. Thanks!

Friday, May 05, 2006

You can call me Rabbi Susanne

Well I guess it makes sense. My friends that are accountants I expect to go through our restaurant bills and itemize who owes what. My lawyer friends I ask all my legal questions to, like can I build a pool on the roof of my apartment building (they tell me thats not a legal question...and I'm an idiot). So it makes perfect sense that my friends ask me all of their religious questions. After all, I work with Rabbis. Keep in mind, I'm not referring to my friends who aren't Jewish. I'm not even referring to my Jewish friends who aren't religious. I'm talking about the Super Jews! The ones who are way more observant then myself. Yesterday Devo asked me whether or not Haagan Dazs is kosher. Hell, if it wasn't I'd probably still eat there, its that good. J/k. But the point is I'm a Rabbi by association. I actually gave her a very Rabbinic answer too! How cool am I. I said "well all the ice cream is kosher, individual franchises aren't under an umbrella kosher organiziation because of equipment and toppings and what not. But in my opnion, everything is cold, so even if the scooper touched something questionable, its fine. Just avoid toppings that you don't recognize and check for kosher symbols on cones." Where the HELL did I pull that from?

Then today my fellow blog master IMed me:

Elana: i have a jew quesiton
me: hit me
Elana: I had potato chips and I just realized they be dairy
me: oooohh, chips
Elana: but now I want to eat my salad which contains chicken
what should I do?
me: ok, how long ago did you eat them
and how long do you genereally wait between?
Elana: i finished em like two min ago and I washed my mouth with water and I am eating celery now
i dont have a waiting time this never happens to me
me: well for me, im good to go after drinking some thing (not milk of course ) and then waiting a couple minutes. eating pareve between is helpful
elana: is there a rule?
me: its really really a minhag (custom) issue i think
i remember learning at chabad camp that you must wait 3 hours between dairy and meat. but they're psycho hard core.
Elana: thanks

How about that. I have totally become a Rabbi. Just gotta enroll in a Corny Joke Telling class and I'll be all set. Have a Shabbat Shalom!

My Right Foot (I could win an Oscar)

Flip Flops. No I'm not talking about what the Bush campaign accused John Kerry of doing. I'm talking about the kind you wear on your feet. Today is my first day wearing my black Old Navy flip flops. I will wear them all summer long starting today. Yay! Although, there is some bad news. When I was home for Passover I burnt my right foot. Yes, just my right foot. I thought I sunscreened up really good. Was sitting on the beach with my copy of the Da Vinci Code while my right foot unknowingly burnt to a crisp. When I got home I saw it was all red and was like, crap, I burnt my right foot. I hadn't thought about it again until today when I looked down at my feet to admire my flip flops and noticed that my right foot is 100 times tanner then my left. I look like freak. This sucks! Oh well. Peace.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Summer in New York

It's that time again. Today its supposed to be 75 degrees. Summer weather in New York are unbearable. Seriously, hot in California is tolerable. Here its almost hard to breathe. The humidity makes you feel like you're sitting in a sauna all day long. I was on the subway this morning and started to shvitz like crazy. Sweated off my makeup in a matter of seconds. I need to start carrying one of those electric fans from the 99 cent store. You know, the ones that include the 2 AA batteries in the purchase. Quite the deal if you ask me. When I use it on the subway everyone looks at me like I'm nuts. But you know what, at least I'm cool. They can kiss my butt. But on the upside NY becomes a totally different place. Hundreds of people will congregate in Bryant Park which is situated behind the NY Library (thats where Jake Gyllenhaal stayed in Day After Tomorrow until his dad Dennis Quaid came to save him). I'm going to sit in the park at lunch today and work on my tan with a few hundred other New Yorkers. Bryant Park has become an awesome awesome place. They are the only public park in the city that sold it's soul to sponsors. I dig that about it. HBO hosts its Movie in the Park during the summer where they show classic movies under the stars. Last year we saw The Way We Were. I still don't know how Barbra Streisand scored Robert Redford. That was just bizarre. K-Lite FM (or one of those easy listening stations) hosts Broadway in the Park. Almost all the current hit musicals on Broadway do a performance sometime in the summer during lunchtime (Wicked is always the best, of course). Also, Good Morning America does their Summer Concert Series in the park. I plan to be front row center when the Dixie Chicks will be there on May 26! 4 Weeks baby! And then my boy Kenny Chesney will be there two weeks later. I am sooo fired up. Anyhoo, thats summer in New York. Come visit. Peace.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I love softball!

So last night was my first softball game of the year with my new co-ed team the Bearcats. We are so named because the founding members attended SUNY Binghamton whose mascot is of course the Bearcat. It seems like an odd trans-species creation, but who am I to judge. My college basketball team was called the Lady Maccabbees for goodness sake. If my understanding of the history of the Chanukah story serves me, there was no such thing as a Lady Maccabbee. Chicks probably didn't fight in Judah Maccabbee's army. But anyhoo, our game last night was on Roosevelt Island off the east side of Manhattan. Its gorgeous there. Looks like a big college campus with incredible views of the city and the Costco in Queens. The team is really nice. No one is a hardass or anything. Everyone seemed to have a fair temper and pretty good skills. And the best part is, we are all religious Jews! I think we should change from the Bearcats to the God Squad or Jew Crew or Yidden or something else of that nature. Theres like 6 people on the team from my hood in Washington Heights and the rest mostly live on the Upper West Side. This was great because we all were able to get lifts at least into the city to catch a train uptown. This saved us the hefty return commute. Considering we had never played together before and a majority of us haven't thrown a ball in a year or more, we did pretty damn good. We did lose the game but the score was 10-14. I didn't know Jewish boys knew how to hit. Our offense was pretty good. I don't think we have big holes there. Our defense was sloppy, but thats something we can clean up with a little bit of practice. Being on a co-ed team, three women must be on the field at all times which I love because I never have to sit out an inning. Yay! I played a couple innings in the outfield but soon moved to my best position at first base where I had a bunch of put outs. But my batting was what I was proudest of. Especially considering I haven't hit in forever! The coach dude Avi had me batting clean up (heehee) and I didn't let them down. I had 3 hits for 3 at-bats and had 5 RBIs and 2 runs scored. I felt like I was back in my junior year of high school when I was First Team All-League. Only because they needed to choose someone from every team and my team was shit but my batting average was .450! I am a rockstar! Anyway, can't wait for our next game. This is a really great group and I'm looking forward to some more good times!

Monday, May 01, 2006

World Series of Pop Culture

So yesterday my friends Sara R and Avi Z and myself went to a taping of the World Series of Pop Culture. I had tried out for the show last month with my new friends Judah and Elana and we did not pass the entry exams. You were graded as a team so everyone had to do well. All I know is, I'm not the one that blew it. I kicked ass on that test. So I needed to attend the taping to prove to myself that I was better than all the contestants that made the show. The answer was an overwhelming yes. Yes, I am the Queen of Pop Culture. Useless Knowledge is my middle name. Other than the categories that are admittedly my weak points (shall we say, any music category that doesn't have to do with Country) I aced almost all the other questions. Even categories that I didn't think I'd excel in, like Seinfeld, I got all but one correct. The contestant didn't even know the name of the restaurant that is featured in every single episode (it's Monk's by the way). The to top it all off, the team we really really liked, the Boeghy Bunch from LA (Jim! He is The MAN!!!) made it to the finals with this totally annoying and inept team from Atlanta. Jim was the LA team's strongest player by FAR and he was knocked out in the second round because of a music category that was about song lyrics. All of the questions that the other team was given were soooo easy ("It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife" Shit my mom, even knows that one.) where Jim's questions were like "He hung himself with a guitar string. A slab of turkey-neck and it’s hangin’ from a pigeon wing" How the hell did he know that one!! It's from Loser by Beck. Like I said, Jim is the MAN! But he still didn't win the best of 10 and was knocked out of the game. With only one contestant left on the Boeghy Bunch, Jason Boegh himself stepped up to the mike as did frilly blond from Atlanta. I don't even remember their question because I was so pissed Jim wasn't in the game anymore. Jim (a Vince Vaugh impersonator if you ask me) proposed to his girlfriend and teammate Amanda the evening before atop the Empire State Building. Now that's classy. That only made him more awesome in my book. He probably quoted to her every single movie with scenes atop the Empire State Building (An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle, King Kong, etc etc). Needless to say, without Jim the Boeghy Bunch lost to the annoying Atlanta team and lost the $250,000 prize made possible by Altel Wireless, or something like that. Towards the end of the taping I developed a searing headache and asked a chick behind me for some headache pills. She gave me one Ibpropren. Who on earth only takes one of these things? A beggar can't be a chooser so I popped the pill and shut up. Afterward we stopped at Duane Reade to buy more headache pills. Even with a blinding headache I still fought with the cashier and then the manager that the wrong price was rung up on the register. Hell, I picked out the one on sale on purpose. Wasn't going to get ripped off. Then we headed to Estihana to get some dinner since our 3 hour taping turned into 5 and we were beyond starved. I realized it was getting late to daven mincha so I quickly davened in the doorway of the restaurant (or as quickly as I can daven with an all Hebrew Mincha/Maariv prayerbook.) Afterwards my headache turned into a full scale nausea attack. I almost puked in my Paradise Chicken. The last time I felt like this, aside from being hungover of course, was when we had that huge Israel rally in my senior year of college where like a million yids marched on Washington. It was 100% humidity and then when we got back on the bus we realized our A/C was broken. And then the bus broke down. So we spent 8 hours in the oven of a bus and like 80% of us had headaches, and fevers, and were puking all night long. Needless to say, I didn't make it to my 10 am class on Monday morning. Not that I ever did though. :) Anyway, that was my Sunday. Thank goodness I feel better today because I've got my first softball game with my new team tonight and I'm super fired up. Will let you know how it goes. Peace!

Again? Really?!

So, guess who was yelled at on the subway last night? Well, officially it was my friend Avi Z, but I was the loud one in the conversation. Some old man, with hearing aids for goodness sake, asked Avi to keep the decibel level down. He actually said that, can you believe it? Who talks like that. But unlike the other day two women came to our defense. Avi was all apologetic and this lady sitting between me and the complainer was like, oh son, you don't need to apologize, this is the damn subway, you're allowed to talk loud. I told her, oh, he's a good ole boy from midwest, hes not going fight with the guy. So she and some other lady complained to the old man on our behalf. As the guy got off the train he thanked Avi who had in fact lowered his voice. Go Avi! The Chicago Boy with Good Manners!