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How To Get On My Bad Side On A Road Trip

I like adventures as much as the next person, and nothing says adventure like a road trip. I can never refuse an offer to get up and go somewhere.

But if I’m the one doing the driving (which I normally am), you better follow my rules of the road.

1. Don’t play your own music if/when I’m playing mine.

I don’t really care if you play your own music, but at least have the courtesy to ask, rather than just turn it on to try to overpower my music. And if it’s really bad, I have the right to claim it’s making me tired. Which brings me to number two.

2. If I’m doing all the driving, we are taking breaks when I say so.

People who don’t drive don’t understand how tiring driving  is. Driving is fun but extremely tiring, even if you’re the Energizer Bunny. Which is why you never see him drive. If it means that we have to stop every twenty minutes so that I can stretch or find a bathroom or sit and not be in motion, we’re stopping. Drivers need breaks. And no, you’re not driving my car unless you have a license, insurance, and the ability to get me a better car should you damage mine.

3. If you volunteer to navigate, navigate.

Yeah, I do some research before road trips, but if it’s somewhere I’ve never been before, there’s the possibility I can make a wrong turn somewhere. I have a GPS on my iPhone, and you probably do too. Don’t offer to do it and then fall asleep or sit there doing nothing.

4. If I ask you to navigate, navigate.

Sometimes you just need some direction. If you’re sitting in the passenger seat and my phone is right there, take a look at it and tell me if we’re going in the right direction. And don’t make me ask twice. Which brings me to number five.

5. If I ask you to stop doing something, stop doing it.

This list of activities includes horseplay, making horse noises, sticking your head/face/camera out of the window, having a too loud conversation, arguing/yelling, or just being annoying. Leading up to one of my least favorite things.

6. Never play with the windows.

I don’t care if we’ve been in the car for two hours and you’re bored; you should have brought a book. Putting the windows up and down is annoying enough; at least ask me before going ahead and doing it. Sometimes people don’t like getting a blast of cold air in the face. My parents always used to tell me to leave the door closed in the summer because we’re not paying to air-condition the front yard, and though I hate to admit it, they were right. If you want A/C, I’ll put it on. If you want windows down, we’ll do it that way. But we’re not doing both; it’s harmful enough to the environment as it is, and I don’t need you to make me feel guiltier. If you insist on having the window down, the A/C goes off. And if I ask you to put it back up, I’m not trying to bake you alive, I just want to put the A/C back on.

7. Don’t spill in my car.

Okay, so accidents happen, but my car is pretty new and I’d like to keep this one pretty at least for a little while. Just be careful.

8. Don’t offer seats in my car to people.

This car’s not your car, this car is my car. I operate it, I pay for the gas. If we’re going somewhere and you have a friend who wants to tag along, ask me. Most likely I’ll say yes and I won’t even ask them to pay. But also understand if I say no. Don’t promise someone a ride and then tell me.

9. I am not your personal car service.

I understand if we’re going shopping and you want to go into stores you see, or you have to pick something up, but I’m not going to drop off every single person anywhere they please. If there are a group of people in the car, and we’re heading home, remember that I’m tired and I want to get home too. I don’t care if you want to get home in time to watch the basketball game. If you want me to leave earlier, don’t ask when we’re there, ask me earlier than that. I don’t care if you’re going to be late to meet your friend; I’m not going to risk an accident or a speeding ticket for you. Actually, don’t take a road trip with me and make plans back in town with another friend on the same night.

10. Under no circumstances should you unbuckle your seat belt, open the door, or exit the car until I’m parked and the car is off.

This isn’t just a road-trip-with-me rule; this is a rule everyone should know. You can jump on or off the back of a truck in the Andes, or a bus in Israel, because I’ve done both, but never, ever exit the car until the vehicle is in a fully stopped and off position. You’d think that this was common sense, but I had to learn to tell people this, and I learned the hard way. One of my housemates in college managed to break rules 8, 9, and 10 in a single night. He and I were going to a mixer at Mount Holyoke College, the girls’ school in South Hadley, about 15-20 minutes down the road from Amherst. Before we left, he told me that we’d be giving his friend Norman a ride.

And yes, I believe that is his real name, but I don’t care about this one. Not only did he tell me we were doing this, a) I did not know who Norman was, b) who was going to take Norman back, and c) Norman wasn’t even coming to the house, my housemate had offered for me to pick him up at his place, which was in the middle of nowhere, and he didn’t even give us a decent address or directions.

We finally find him, he gets in the car, and barely says a word to either of us. We drive in relative awkward silence down to Mount Holyoke. I turn into a parking lot, and before I stop the car – in fact, before I even decelerate, I was going at least double-digit miles per hour, I hear a click, his seat belt is off, and without even saying thank you, he jumps out of the car like it’s on fire, slams the door, and takes off running towards the library. Turns out he wasn’t going to the mixer at all, he needed to go study or meet friends or something there and didn’t even have the courtesy to ask me. For some reason, I wasn’t tipped off by the fact that he brought a backpack to a mixer – maybe he kept his wallet in there? Anyway, my housemate starts to do the same, and I grab his knee with my free hand, and yell using his full name, “don’t you dare get out of this car until I am in a parking space and the motor is turned off.”

I’m normally very calm and forgiving, but I spent the next few minutes actually shouting at him while leaning on his knees to keep him from leaving. Since he had a brain – and needed a ride home – he sat and listened to me yell my head off about every single way he fucked this evening up before we even made it inside the mixer. I had half a mind to actually take him right back home, but then I realized that I couldn’t take away his allowance and hey, I wanted to go to the mixer too. But he did apologize, he learned his lesson, and we became closer friends after that. The only reasons I gave him another shot are because he did some really nice things for me, he bought me a full tank of gas even though he didn’t need to, it’s hard to stay angry at someone you have to live with and see every day who could potentially turn the rest of the house against you, and overall he’s a pretty great guy, and I knew that social skills were not part of his expertise.

To this day, when I am driving, if I even hear a click of a seat belt before the car has stopped moving, you are getting yelled at without warning and are in danger of becoming banned from my car.

On that note, let’s go and have some fun!

 

 

 

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Happy 1st Blogiversary!

That’s right…a year ago today, That’s So Jacob was launched. Happy birthday/anniversary/founder’s day/blogiversary to me!

So, what was my life like a year ago?

I began this blog right here in Madison; not in this apartment, but in a room at the Doubletree several blocks away. I was living in Houston, in an apartment twice the size of the one I’m currently living in, with a temperature I could set, a bathtub, and a swimming pool. I hadn’t started the program, or experienced the worst winter ever. I still had my olive green Subaru, and I hadn’t seen Oklahoma or Iowa yet. I hadn’t done anything APO related for a year.

But hey, I’m still here, and so is this blog.

Speaking of which, I haven’t posted a story for awhile. Wait…I posted one yesterday. Scratch that – I haven’t posted a good story lately.

So here’s a tale from years long past.

How That’s So Jacob Got Its Name

This is not my first blog, or journal for that matter. When I was 10, I found a ginormous notebook and decided that I would keep it as a journal until the pages ran out, whenever that would be. I was pretty faithful to it. It lasted me through sometime in freshman or sophomore year, when the pages actually did run out. I think it’s under my bed at home. I tried other paper journals, but none were the same, so I switched to the Internet. I had a LiveJournal when I was a moody teenager, like everyone else in the early 2000s, moody or not, teenager or not. And no, I am not going to link you to it. Most of my entries were terrible. I stopped for awhile, but always intended to start back up again. After a failed attempt on blogspot, I needed to start a new journal, with a new tactic, and a good name.

I always have my best ideas in the shower or at night before I drift off to sleep, but this one came to me courtesy of this one girl I knew awhile back. It was in my second semester of APO, and my third and final semester at AU. It was getting down to the wire with things, and I remember I was fed up with something or someone at the time, and it was one of those nights where everything was happening at the same time, so I was rushing around, trying to be in a million places at once. Normally I like being super busy like that, but I wasn’t feeling it that night. I don’t even know what was in my head, but I was telling some of the people in my pledge class about how my day was.

So there I was, walking across the lawn of the National Cathedral, babbling, when she said it.

“Hey Andrea, did you hear what Jacob just said? It was a classic Jacob line.”

And then she repeated what I had said less than a minute ago and had forgotten.

“He said ‘…and then I went to a JSA meeting and we just sat around and bitched at each other because we’re Jews and that’s what we do.'”

Okay, so it was kind of funny, without meaning to be, but it meant more than that. It meant that someone was actually listening to me. I wanted to channel that same feeling upon starting on the Internet anew. A place where I can just say what’s on my mind, how I feel, and stories that I want to remember and that other people might find amusing, or inspirational, or…worth reading.

Oh, and course, in honor of my spirit animal, Raven-Symone. So here are some gifs to honor her. Behold:

I have 280 followers as of today, and visitors from over 100 countries. Here’s to another year of fun, weirdness, and random memories. Thanks y’all…much love.

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Fraud-enscheude

In case anyone was wondering, I went to bed before finishing my theatre paper the other night, but at least I had 4500 words. Over the past two days I’ve been adding to it, and I can confidently say that aside from a conclusion, I am done with it at ~5600 words. And of course, the syllabus was revised so that it’s no longer due on Thursday but a week from Thursday, after history and poli sci papers…so joke’s on me,  I guess.

I did, however, condense that paper into a ten-minute version and presented it to my class today. There are seven of us in the class, so we each got ten minutes to presentation, followed up by one question from a prescribed class member, and then open discussion. I was the second to present, which was great since I hate waiting; I’d much rather get it over with and then have a much longer sigh of relief. My presentation itself went fair; I hadn’t really planned it much, but instead of writing out a script, I just had the document open on my iPad, and scrolled through it, pulling out points in the order which I wanted to share them. I riffed off the ideas and focused on making eye contact with others while I spoke. For some reason, this makes me feel like people are actually listening to me and not staring through me or imagining that I’m someone else, or a sandwich if they’re hungry. A lot of “ums” and “uhs” but I got the job done in under ten minutes.

I wasn’t really sure what my prescribed class question would be, but it ended up being a good one. I can’t remember the exact wording of the question – it was something about whether the playwright actually believed in seances at that point in his life or if he was poking fun at it – but the one who asked also noted that they’ve sensed a theme of fraud in my work.

 

 

My gut reaction was, are you calling me fake? But then, since I realized that my paper actually was about fraud, I was like…oh, you’ve got a point.

Last semester, I wrote and presented a paper on street gambling, and today, I spoke about mediumship and seances. So after hearing that, I could see how the connection could be made.

Honestly, hearing that was…strangely comforting, in a way.

Someone actually used my work to point out something that I’m interested in that I had never thought about before.

Before today, I never thought of myself as someone with a particular interest in this topic, but now that I think more about it, it seems true. One of the things that draws me to theatre and performance as well as headlines in the news are scandals and the question of “is this really going on? what is the meaning of this? WHY?” Goodness knows, I never make things easy for myself, and I am always up for a challenge. I love a good mystery and delight in solving mysteries of my own, which I’ve actually done. Part of my inspiration for a research project comes from…”there’s gotta be more there. And I’m going to find it.” I suppose you could say that about many other researchers, but for me, when I want to get to the bottom of something, I just fucking go for it until I find it, and if I can’t, I die a little inside.

This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from a favorite play of mine, Bluebeard by Charles Ludlam; in a contemporary theatre course as an undergrad at UMass, I got to play the role of Mrs. Maggot, and took great pleasure in saying one of my final lines in the play: “Women want an answer!” My inner sassy black lady came out in that performance, and I guess that she might be my spirit animal. Sort of like Loni Love, or Leslie Jones, or Loretta Devine, or even Sheneneh Jenkins.

But not Madea. Never Madea.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…there’s something about frauds and cons and scandals that just lights my fire. If there’s a dead body, a love affair, a mysterious inscription, or any sort of deception, I’m there; but the performance of performance just makes me sizzle inside.

Sizzle.

So, in conclusion…I could live with that. I could be “the fraud guy.” I kind of like that.

And to my friend: thank you for helping me discover something new about myself.

2

The Worst Best Day of the Week

That would be today. Thursday. My classes this semester are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Friday, I have Shabbat, and on the weekends, I do weekend-type things like shopping and sometimes being social. So that leaves Thursday. Most people would enjoy the fact that they have one day a week with absolutely no regularly scheduled commitments, but I am not one of them. From Sunday to Wednesday, I pull out all the stops, reading like a fiend, writing responses, taking notes and taking names. By the time Wednesday night rolls around, I am exhausted but relieved that another academic week is done. I make a promise to myself that I’ll get a jump on next week’s reading this week by starting first thing Thursday morning…and then it doesn’t happen. What does happen?

  • Wake up.
  • Remember that there’s nothing in my plans today, so sleep a little more.
  • Get up, make a leisurely breakfast, and a hot or iced coffee drink.
  • Head to the couch to catch up with Mental Floss, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jenna Marbles.
  • Promise myself I won’t waste the day.
  • Proceed to read twelve BuzzFeeds, stalk some friends on Facebook, play a round of Word Strips, check my blog stats (welcome, Uganda!), do the New York Times crossword puzzle.
  • Promise myself that I’m done.
  • Remember that I never get to watch Survivor since I’m in class while it’s on, so catch up on that.
  • Convince myself that if I don’t leave the apartment now I won’t leave until dance class (By this time, we’re in the late afternoon).
  • Head out for “lunch” since I “just ate breakfast” (at 10 AM).
  • Do I have enough time to get to the gym? Maybe I’ll go.
  • How about the library? But I have too many books. Oh wait, I need to do some research for that paper. You know what, I should just write the paper. Let’s go home and think about that.
  • Dance class.
  • Get home, unwind after a busy day of nothing. Contemplate studying but usually opt for YouTube.
  • Look at the time, frantically make dinner, call parents, and think of a blog post.
  • Compose and post said blog, and promise self that it’s early bedtime tonight.
  • Proceed to stay up all night (well, 3 at the latest) doing – guess what? – nothing but the Internet, and usually end up feeling bad for myself.
  • Head to bed with a book, and read about five pages before telling myself that I need to get some sleep.

And that’s how I spend my Thursdays, including today. My sad life is sad. And even though I got nine hours of sleep last night, I’m still exhausted. Get it together, Jacob, because your palm is going to have a date with your face come Sunday night.

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Random Thought of the Day: Jewish Rap

If I ever put out a Jewish or Yidcore rap album/single, I will be calling it “Creepah in a Kippah.” Music and lyrics by Jacob, (c) 2014, all rights reserved.

Yes, and I think this merits two gifs.

Dance it out, Drake.

You know what?

I think that this merits two gifs. Yeah, let’s make it a two-gif day.

Heck yes. Don’t despair, my Jewish brother. You can make the remix.

2

So, Tell Me About Yourself

Even though my dad calls me self-obsessed sometimes, I find it hard to write about myself.

Bios are one thing. For a program, I usually just rattle off my degrees, and two or three past projects. No biggie.

But writing for an extended time about yourself, like a paragraph, or a whole page? It’s like…what do you do?

Well, there’s one thing. Who better to write about you than yourself? You’ve been living with yourself for your whole life, and chances are you know yourself pretty well, unless you’re prone to fugue states or have spent most of your life in a coma, in which case you probably wouldn’t be in the position of writing a memoir (The Diving Bell and Butterfly excluded). But there’s also the intense pressure that comes with it; what if you write something that sounds stupid or unimportant in retrospect. What if you write something about yourself that’s just plain wrong, based on an incorrect memory of people/things/events? And how do you write about yourself without being so gosh-darned self-serving?

Here are a few ways to write about yourself.

1. I’m Awesome

You’ve probably accomplished some stuff and probably prevailed over adversity at least once in your life, so write about that. You can write about yourself as a child prodigy. You can write about learning how to play the piano, or how you were captain of the varsity lacrosse team, sang in a choir, won a spelling bee, or had your poem published in a school/local newspaper. These are all things that happened to you, so they’re factual, at least. Transitioning into adulthood, you graduated high school and got a college scholarship? That’s perfect. So many Americans (and people in other countries) do not or cannot do that. You studied abroad in China? Great, there’s a chapter right there – it doesn’t matter that it was on your parents’ dime and you drank a lot while you were there, at least you went on an adventure across the world alone and met new people. You had family, friends, and pets that you adored and adored you? They’ll work as supporting characters, mile markers on your just to becoming the amazing person you are today.

This is problematic, because inevitably, you’ll slip up somewhere and someone will notice. Or, someone reading it will pick out the one detail that you made seem bigger than it was. “So, you were a Boy Scout? Tell me about that,” someone will ask, and you’ll struggle to cover up the fact that you never made Eagle Scout and dropped out after a year and a half because you decided you liked riding your bike around the neighborhood and watching TV better. Also, inevitably, you can come off sounding like an incredible jackass, making everyone else seem inferior. Or that you enjoy tooting your own horn so much that you could join an orchestra.

2. I’ve Suffered a Lot and I’m Stronger Now

Modesty could be the best policy. You were born in a hospital, parents got divorced, didn’t make the basketball team, got the worst part in the play, accidentally broke your great aunt’s glasses at Thanksgiving dinner, and didn’t get your first kiss until you were 21. Or, all those times you had to miss school because of illness, or that you knew some people and they died and that sucked. But through it all, you managed to stick around and you don’t know how but somehow you’re here for a higher purpose.

Billy, don’t be a hero – your life’s not all crap and you know it. It’s like those kids in art class in third grade who were all, “my painting is the worst in the class,” only to make you feel sorry for them and then tell them that it was good. Looking back, I probably should have said, “Yeah, you’re right, your painting does suck, and you’re also not great at other things either.” But then you’d probably get told on and have to spend recess sitting alone in the corner, which isn’t too bad because the other kids are smelly anyway and you can work on your plans for world domination.

And now for something completely different…

3. This is me, total honesty. Just me.

You’ve written a bunch of stuff down, but since it triggers bad memories, or you don’t want people to know, or that is embarrassing or embarrasses someone else or that is boring or that never really happened, or did, but not the way that you recall it. So you erase all that and start with the facts. You were born, on a day ending in Y, in a hospital, you had parents and a sister and a bedroom in a house, took a bus to school, had a bunch of friends, and then went to college or entered the workforce and did stuff. Then you erase all that stuff, because who’d want to read that, and then go back to numbers 1 or 2.

In conclusion, you just can’t win. You either come off sounding like an incredible jackass or that your life is completely morbid or that you’re so normal that you’re mundane or that you hate yourself. One or more of which might be true, but you don’t want people to know that. So now you’re tasked with finding an official biographer, which is probably going to cost you money.

If I ever get around to writing it, my memoir is probably going to be a clusterfumble.

See ya in the Marshalls clearance aisle!

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Oh, The Life of A Working Man in Israel

When I was in Israel, I had a job. Okay, technically it was an internship, but I did a heck of a lot more than just an intern including running the place for a whole month while the boss was doing army reserve duty. Some days I liked it, some days I didn’t, but every Sunday through Friday, I was at that theater, working away. In Israel, Friday and Saturday are their weekends which makes more sense if you ask me, but it also makes Tuesday Hump Day, which is confusing, and sometimes I’d forget and go to work on Friday and be confused when I’d be sitting at my desk for hours without seeing anyone else.

Around December, I got my first visitors from overseas. My parents and sister came over, and just as they were leaving, my friend Dan arrived on a Birthright trip from Boston. We met in Machane Yehuda and it was magic – four of my favorite people standing with me in a busy marketplace. I met Dan’s Birthright friends, and as it was a Friday, Dan and I planned to get together after Shabbat.

The next night, I take a bus over to the hotel where his group was staying (the Jerusalem Gate Hotel, which is at the complete opposite end of the city from where I lived :-/) Since his group was all at the upper echelon of Birthright-age-people (25-26 year olds), they had a “curfew” set by Birthright, but all that really meant was that they had to sign a check-in sheet at the hotel at 10 PM, and then do whatever the hell they wanted since they were legal in both Israel and America. So, Dan and everyone want to go to a club. I’m not a huge club-goer, but there is one club that I do know: Tza’atzua, which is near Ben Yehuda Street. It’s too far to walk, and nobody but me has a bus pass, so we flag down a cab and I tell the driver where we’re going, what neighborhood it’s in, to call and order 4 more cabs, and negotiate a price (all of which I did in Hebrew!). He happily called his friends, who showed up quicker than ambulances in many parts of the world, and we had a little cab caravan down the road, with me, Dan, and another guy in the front.

We get to the club, and get in line to get our IDs checked to get into the club. Somehow, Dan and I end up at the back of the line, which is rapidly expanding behind us. All of Dan’s friends get in, and then it’s me and Dan. Dan’s ID gets checked, and he’s in. My ID gets checked and “sorry, you can’t go in.”

Huh?

In Israel, you can drink at age 18 (or 19, I can never remember), and most clubs are pretty lax anyway. I mean, people smoke in clubs, even though it’s not only frowned upon but actually illegal there. I tell them that there must be some mistake, I’m definitely of age.

Then they tell me, “Yes, but tonight we are having a 25-and-up night.”

Fuck. I’m screwed. I’m 22. And I just sent fifteen people into a nightclub in a city they’ve never been in that speaks a language that they don’t know. And Dan is standing there, like “I guess this is it for you then.”

So, what do I do?

Well, I really don’t want to go the club anyway…I just don’t want to abandon these people, and it’s late and I’m tired and I kinda want to go home because I have work and stuff to do tomorrow, and I’m sad, and frustrated, and a little bit angry.

I want to vocalize this and appeal to the bouncers.

So I do.

And it comes out of my mouth like this:

“…באסה. תראה, אני יודע שאני רק בן עשרים ושתיים ואני מאמריקה, אבל הם החברים שלי, ואני נשאר רק, כאילו, עשר דקות, כי אני צריך ללכת לעבודה בבוקר”

Translated:

“Oh fuck. Look, I know I’m only twenty-two and I’m from America, but they’re my friends, and I’m only gonna stay for, like, ten minutes, because I have to go to work in the morning…”

The reason I put the ellipses there?

Once they heard me launch into Hebrew and mention the fact that I’m working in the morning, I get cut off, with…”b’seder (okay),  go on in.”

I totally wasn’t expecting that, but hey, it worked. I guess Israel’s got some respect for its hard-working men, or barely-twenty-two-year-old-theatre-intern-type-people. But I don’t leave myself too much time to contemplate as I basically push Dan down the stairs and into the club, afraid that the intimidating guys at the entrance will suddenly change their minds. So we all made it in, an a big cheer came from the group when we entered. We all danced for a while – well, they did, I guess, I left pretty after maybe a half hour at most, making sure that between them they a) knew where they were going back to, and b) had enough cash to cover it.

I leave the club, nod at the bouncers, and guess who’s still there?

The cab guy, who’s just chilling out in the front seat of his cab, waiting for someone to drunkenly stumble out of the club so he can make some money. We notice each other as I pass, he thanks me for getting him some business, and asks me where I’m going. I tell him that I’m walking back to my place in Talpiot, I have to get to work in the morning.

“Get in, I’ll take you home. No charge.”

And that’s how I got a free cab ride home at the middle of the night in Jerusalem.