14

Letters and Milestones

Letters! Letters!

The 16 Penpals in 2016 is happening! Believe in your dreams, people!

(By the way, I’ve still only sent letters to 15 people, so if you want to be the lucky 16th, just comment below!)

Today’s letters came from Penny aka Barfuss-Evrovizija in Michigan, and then from Dani aka Dani’s Crazy Adventure all the way from the UK. Both letters were fun to read, and my favorite part was the handwriting (Dani, yours is particularly artistic). I will send letters back soon, to Penny first and then to Dani a little later so I can make sure it will get to the right place. Getting those letters really brightened my day, so thank you for lifting the spirits because my new diet is making me realize how many cookie commercials there are on television.

Also, an exciting milestone for That’s So Jacob – 1400 followers! The lucky 1400th is Writing and Alcohol aka Aui, so visit her when you can.

Other than that, I hope you all continue to enjoy my wacky and weird world, and come back soon and bring your friends so we can hang out together. The sangria is almost all gone but we can still have a good time.

Now, back to translating Hebrew and hopefully rocketing through the 3 books and 15 or so articles I have left before I can start writing this first prelim.

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35

I Got A Letter…

…what could be better?

No, seriously, getting mail is one of the best things ever. In January, I started my 16 Penpals for 2016 project, and I’ve sent out 14 letters (btw, if you’re reading this and want a letter, let me know in the comments because I still have 2 more to send!), and so far, nothing back 😦 until today, when I got a lovely letter in the mail all the way from faraway Janesville, Wisconsin (about an hour or so down the road), from blogger-friend Michelle. I learned about her very interesting life and family, and it was a great surprise on a super-hot afternoon, so hot I didn’t want to do anything but I did because I had to.

Michelle, thanks for the letter, and another one is going to be on its way to you in the morning. As for the rest of you, I’m still waiting.

1

The Rising of the Mimouna

Today, I went over to the Gellers to celebrate the end of Passover by eating carbs.

I mean, I did the same last night at Short Stack, against my better judgment, with a pile of chocolate chip pancakes, but this morning had carbs mixed with Moroccan outfits and dancing to ululating music.

Mimouna is a traditional end-of-Passover gathering with music, dancing, and pastries. Ora made crepe-like things called mufletas, which are traditionally eaten with butter and honey, along with waffles, pancakes, and milkshakes. There were only a few people there but it was just fun to be around people and eat delicious foods. I only attended my first mimouna in 2011 in Houston, where it was a much bigger deal, with trays of desserts, a DJ, and hookah, and at that point I wondered where the hell this holiday was my whole life. I’m not of Mizrachi descent, sometimes it’s nice to pretend to be.I mean, I am Jewish after all, and this is just a different type of Judaism.

And any Judaism that involves eating mufletas is fine by me.

5

News Feed = Bad News

I’m pretty serious about this one.

Every time I scroll through my Facebook news feed, it’s garbage. Old garbage, new garbage, political garbage, garbage about racism.

It’s just plain bad news. Don’t do it.

I started writing this the other day but didn’t get around to finishing it.

Anyway, I keep getting sucked into this endless trap of suck. I mean, there are a few things that are worth keeping up with. One of my friends is going to give birth any day now, and is posting updates about contractions and such. Another friend posts a lot of cute kid pictures and funny stories, and I have a few more friends who get me with their witty one-liners or a funny meme or something. But if it’s a link to an article about something political, whether it’s race relations, the Presidential campaigns, Israel, gender discrimination – and now, the $20 bill changing to Harriet Tubman – I tend to not scroll past them as quickly as I know I should.

Yet, I still subject myself to it. I guess it’s important to me to know what’s going on with my friends, even if it is pictures of what they ate that morning or them checking into airports in exotic cities I’ll probably never get the chance to see. However, that doesn’t stop the Facebook feed, from becoming a dangerous place. Often times I’ve found myself practically agreeing with what a friend posts, even if it’s totally against my own belief system, because it’s well worded, or looks official, or something. And then I wander off and suddenly it’s two hours later.

Maybe I just need to get more positive friends.

0

Georgia on My Mind

Morning morning morning from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight in about 20 minutes or so, but I wanted to get in another post from the Peach State.

I woke up at 6 this morning to order my uber from Kennesaw to the airport. Avery and Janna were pretty much dead asleep in the living room, so I snuck out quietly. I did whisper a quick goodbye to Avery and heard a “bye” back, although it could have been Janna or the cat or a ghost or imagination. Anyway, I allowed myself 2 hours to get to the airport, and fortunately it took only 45 minutes, and getting through security took only about 25 minutes, so I was in the terminal before 8:00 for my 10:30 am flight. And after a delicious breakfast I’m at the gate. 

Yesterday was probably one of the most fun and uplifting experiences I’ve ever had. We got up at 10 am to catch a ride with Becca to the Temple in Atlanta for their final rehearsal. The Temple was built in 1867 and is the oldest synagogue in Georgia. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the actual shooting location for Driving Miss Daisy. It was most definitely filled with the spirits of congregants past, including Leo and Lucille Frank, whose wedding photo is featured on the wall. I watched the first hour or two of rehearsal, then took a walk, came back, and sat in the dressing room finishing a paper until showtime. I sat with Avery’s friend Jennifer for the incredible 2 hour concert performance in the front row of a packed house. The performance deserves its own post so I’ll skip it for now. Afterwards, there was a talkback with the cast and director. One of the audience members revealed that she was friends with Lucille Frank as well as acquainted with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, you know just like you do.

After the show we went back to the house with Avery’s friends Avery (yes, another Avery but a male Avery), Becca, and Janna to change and to Kroger to buy some drinks to take to the cast party.

The cast party was at the apartment of some of the cast members. It was fun to drink a little and pretend to be an undergrad for a little while with the cast. Everyone was so nice. The night ended with a little craziness, but we all got home safely at around 12:30 am, and I stayed up talking and jamming with Avery, Avery, and Janna for another two hours.

Here’s hoping I get back to Madison with enough time to get ready for class. It really was a perfect weekend getaway, and I hope to return in the spring. I am still in disbelief that I managed to pull it off almost flawlessly and enjoy the last bit of 60 degree weather I’ll experience until May. Avery and her friends are such warm and welcoming people, showing me true southern hospitality.

See y’all sooner rather than later. 

7

Dump

The other day I did something that I don’t normally do. Mostly because I don’t take the time to think about it, but I have my reasons.

I cut down my friends list on Facebook, unfriending people who I do not believe to have a place in my life any longer.

I have never been a vengeful person (okay, maybe just a little), nor an extremely private person, but after a conversation with Julie in the car on the way back from Wyoming last week, I decided that it was finally time. For the record, there is nothing on my Facebook that I wouldn’t mind anyone seeing, future employers included, and the way I see it, the Internet is basically like a bulletin board piled with advertisements and flyers; some might be concealed, but if you really wanted, you could read every one of them. And people out there knowing about me and my life doesn’t really scare me that much. If I don’t want someone to know something, it’s as simple as just not putting it out there.

I tend to keep friends around on Facebook once I make them, just because unless they post something really offensive, I have no reason to unfriend them. Whenever I do hover over the unfriend button, I get a small wave of guilt, as if I’m burning a bridge. What if I might need that person in the future? What if they become really famous and because I clicked a button, I can’t prove I know them? What if, what if, what if…and then I go and do something else.

But I made up my mind to do it, and see just how many of those 1,750 people are worth keeping a connection. After I scrolled through the obvious keepers, like family members and friends I still talk to with some degree of regularity, I came upon the people who I haven’t thought about for years, from high school, freshman year, summer camps. Delete. Some guy I had one class with freshman year, some girl I met at a Starbucks, a guy I never met but liked some of my pictures, a girl who now lives in South America and probably would not even recognize me if I walked past her in the street. Bye bye. A few names didn’t even ring a bell. Unfriend.

In the end, I didn’t think I’d made much of a dent, but my Friends list was down to around 1,630. In a matter of minutes, roughly 120 people disappeared from my life in a few key strokes. And to top it off, I probably couldn’t name more than ten of them if you asked me who they were and how I knew them. I don’t feel much different, but interestingly enough, it did make me think how many connections I actually cared about maintaining. So, maybe, I’ll go through it again sometime and pare down the list even more. A lot of my friends have less than half of the connections that I do, and they seem to be doing just fine for themselves.

Then there’s the question of deleting Facebook altogether, it being a source of drama, a time-waster, and just and overall life-sucker-upper. Julie said that the only real reasons she keeps hers active is so her mother could see family pictures and she can have an extra avenue to contact relatives in case of emergency. My reasons are pretty similar, although I also have the added weight of having lived in several states and countries, and wanting to keep tabs on friends from all over, especially those in Israel who I can’t text anytime I want, or if I ever want to visit them, only to find out that they moved or something.

Alternatively, I can look at “the dump” as a way to clear out space for new friends, like the influx of friend requests after a conference. It’s a thrill when you log in and have 10 new friend requests from people you’ve met who you actually care about and might have a chance of building an awesome new friendship with.

13

I Won’t Back Down

Sometimes, you have moments where life just stops you in your tracks, and I had one today.

Recently, I’ve been worrying and fretting and just being a fearful, nervous wreck about so much – school, the show, dancing, my self-image – that I just lost sight of reality, the here-and-now. This morning, I got out of bed at 11 AM, finding every excuse I could to not do anything but stay in my warm cocoon of blankets.

When I did get up, I went over to my computer, logged on Facebook, to be met with some unfortunate news; the death of my friend and fraternity brother, Brendan Conway.

I normally don’t give out real first and last names of people in my life here on That’s So Jacob, but I feel like I must salute this friend and gentleman. A strong Irishman from Dorchester, Massachusetts who could drink you under the table, he had beaten cancer once, and we all thought he’d beat it again. I knew he was in trouble, however, when he posted on Facebook a few weeks ago that he was back in the hospital, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and the doctors were saying “we’re trying to make you as comfortable as possible.” That is never a good sign. And then late last night, it happened; his 32 years on this Earth came to an end. I only hope it was truly peaceful, as peaceful as is humanly possible for an individual with debilitating cancer.

My first instinct was to call Dan. Dan, my grandbig, was Brendan’s big when he pledged APO, and I knew that the two of them were close. After a rapid fire texting session while I was on my way to Modern Indian Theatre class, I told him to call anytime to talk, and he said he would later on tonight. When he called I was in dance class, but as soon as class let out I grabbed my sweatshirt and phone, and we talked for over an hour, mostly about Brendan and all the good times we had with him. It’s always sad when something like this is what makes people crawl out of the woodwork and reconnect with one another, but at least we had plenty of happy memories to laugh about, which made the fact that he is no longer with us seem more palatable, and in a way, almost made it seem like he still was with us. Someone who was as boisterous and opinionated and upfront as Brendan never really dies, I suppose; his body and soul are no longer with us, but his spirit certainly is. He told it like it was, but for a big guy, he had a big heart, a servant’s heart, one that was loyal and true and really cared deeply about his friends, more than he cared about himself.

I talked about one aspect of my undergrad APO experience awhile back, one that was not the most positive memory, but talking with Dan made me realize something about Brendan, about friendship, and about people in general. A lot of the people who gave me a hard time also gave Brendan a hard time, and some of the more “Popular Patty” types in the chapter were less than kind to him because was unique and he did things or said things that were very honest and not always the best choices, and they didn’t even attempt to get close to him or even give him the time of day. For those of us who got to know him – we loved the guy. Honestly. Once you got to know him and understand his sense of humor, he was the perfect big brother/frat bro/drinking buddy who was always up for a party and a beer but was very compassionate, reverent, and gentle in private. For those in the chapter who didn’t get to experience those sides of Brendan, they missed out. And I’m talking about a big time missed opportunity, an opportunity to really get to experience a different kind of friendship. A Brendan Conway doesn’t come along every day. I wouldn’t say that I feel sorry for them, because I don’t, that was their choice. But if anyone asks, they just really missed out, and now his true friends and brothers, like me and Dan, get to laugh and revel in the happy and fond memories while they…well, they don’t.

So they’re really the losers here.

I like that.

But back to Brendan. One of the things I liked about him the most (and I took advantage of the most) was his game face. Being 100% Irish Catholic, he never backed down from a dare. It’s like it was coded in his DNA or something; just a complete inability to say no, no matter how ridiculous. Whenever a bunch of us from the chapter would go out to eat, I would find the grossest sounding item on the menu and dare Brendan to order it. And to my surprise, he always, always did. One time, at Panda East in Amherst, I found “sushi nachos” on the menu. I said the magic words, “I dare you,” and he actually followed through. When the waitress brought over a roll of mushy fish slathered with orange cheese, I couldn’t do anything but laugh and feel sorry for making Brendan order this failed fusion that barely qualified as food. He didn’t have to take the dare, but he’s Brendan, so no harm, no foul, all in good fun. He never backed down from any dare or any challenge in life, and I can say with confidence that he went down fighting with all he had.

This song’s for you, Brendan Conway (6/22/1982 – 3/23/2015).

Miss ya like a brotha.