August 31, 2011

Pre-Departure Part Three: New York (aka: Come on, Irene)

Alright guys- I leave tonight!! I've been in New York for the last precious days of my pre-departure phase, and I fly out tonight at 7pm. So, here's a quick report of my adventures in NYC, and a few thoughts before I go.

As you may have heard, a hurricane named Irene had everyone on the eastern seaboard all a-flutter this past weekend. Batten down the hatches! She's gonna be epic! Yeah, right. I left Boston on a midnight bus Friday for NYC, in an effort to beat the storm and get to Steph's apartment in the Bronx before mass transit was set to shut down on Saturday afternoon. Let's take a minute to note that this is the first time IN HISTORY that New York City has evacuated people from their homes. Everyone was ready for a disaster. Steph and I made sure we were prepared by walking to Dunkin' Donuts, and getting some bottled water:

We watched some movies, and fell asleep expecting to wake up on Sunday morning in the midst of Irene's wrath. How silly. We woke up and it was kind of raining. We waited for something to happen, and then gave up and walked to the fanciest restaurant we could find:

Now, I've heard that there were some less-fortunate areas of the country which sustained real damage, and I do not mean to make light of their suffering. However, my experience is that Irene was a let-down. If I'm gonna be stranded in the Bronx, I want to at least be awed by the power of gale-force winds. Nothing of the sort took place. 

So, we moved on. Monday night brought all sorts of post-hurricane festivities. Steph and I traveled into the city (since the subway was finally operational again) for sangria at Jon's apartment. Jon and I are connected on many levels, not the least of which is our love of nanny-ing. And drinking. And other things.

Jon's homemade sangria really got the party started. There was an Adele sing-along. We watched Beyonce's baby-bump reveal on the VMA's (she looked so freakin' happy, I wanted to smack her). Then we went out for BBQ at Blue Smoke. If you are ever in New York and are interested in some delicious food, check it out. Jon lied to the waitress and said it was my birthday- vintage. In any case, it was a wonderful send off with a group of people I will miss very much. At some point, the friends that Steph made in college became my friends too, and the memories we share are precious to me. Thank you guys for being so incredible, another branch in my extended family-tree. 

So, this is it, friends and lovers. I'm on my way into the unknown. Well, I have a few hours before I leave for the airport, but the next time you hear from me I will be a resident of Tel-Aviv, Israel. I've never been good at goodbyes. My friend Mary (who is always wise) put it well- "you feel things very deeply." It's true. So, I know that once I get to Israel I'll feel all of the excitement and joy that comes with realizing a long-held dream. But today is a day that I feel sad. I'm going to miss all of my friends so profoundly. I can already feel the dull, constant ache that comes from being SO far from my mom and dad. Its scary, walking through a door and not quite knowing what I'll find on the other side. But, if I don't do this I will regret it forever. So, many thanks to each of you who has supported and encouraged me. The interwebs will keep us close until we can be reunited on the other side of this strange journey I've begun. Wish my luck. And keep reading my blog.

Here we go! L'chayim!

August 28, 2011

Pre-Departure Part Two: Boston

A friend of mine, Niva, said to me the other day "it's funny how when you're about to leave a place you love you suddenly start to notice all of the beautiful things about it." That was absolutely my experience during the last two and a half weeks. I returned to Boston (after an awesome eleven-hour road trip out from Erie) to babysit, couch-surf, and bid Boston farewell. A special "thanks" to those of my friends who housed me during the last few weeks (the Family Giller gets a loud shout-out for giving me a base of operations/letting me keep my huge suitcases in their living room). I spent time with friends, I babysat a little, enjoyed some final classes at my favorite yoga studio, visited Gloucester, and wandered around Boston just soaking it all in.

I have lived in Boston for eight years. I moved out here after high school to attend Gordon College in Wenham, MA (so I suppose if we're being tecnical, I have lived in the Boston area for eight years, and Boston proper for three).  The last three years I lived in Boston's South End, a truly beautiful neighborhood. 

Boston is a beautiful city, but for me the idea of "home" is defined by the presence of people I love. For that reason, Erie will always be home. However, the eight years of my life in Mass. have been the years where I really grew up in a lot of ways. I enjoy meeting people, and I have collected an eclectic group people who I feel fortunate to consider as part of my Boston family. It makes for some interesting stories- building relationships with people who bring out the different sides of my personality. I can most easily break it down into a few categories:

There are a handful of good friends from my time in college at Gordon who stuck around after school (some of whom still live here, some have moved on to new things already) and together we have gone from kids just leaving home for the first time to (semi) productive members of society. We took naps together after signing our first lease agreements, we've helped each other move from one apartment to another (over and over and over, in my case) and we've supported one another as we develop our individual interests and goals. 

After Gordon, when I started my "business casual" era, I was fortunate to work for an organization that was relatively small non-profit (our Boston office had a staff of 15-20), which makes for close quarters. The David Project  was led at the time by Charles Jacobs, a passionate and strong voice in Boston's Jewish community, and a smart man who surrounded himself with a staff that was greatly committed to educating people about the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The friends I made during my two years as a part of that staff share with me a passion that has come to define my life, and that is a bond that can't be broken.

In an account of people I love in Boston, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the babies I have cared for here. I have spent time nannying (full and part-time) for several families in Boston (proper), and I want to each of you now how special it is to be welcomed into your homes and hearts. Not everyone gets to go to work and is greeted with kisses, tickles, and cuddles. The kids I've gotten to know have become my friends as much as their parents, and all of you have helped make Boston feel like home. 

This is necessarily an oversimplification,  In any case, it is because of this beautiful web of characters who make up my family here that I will always think of Boston as home. I left Boston on July 1st this year, not knowing if I would be coming back to stay or say "goodbye for now". As excited as I am for this next step into the future, it's always hard to end an era. But, as far as "goodbyes" go, the last few weeks have been spectacular- I'm so grateful for all the memories my friends and family here have made with me. But this is not really goodbye. So, Boston, I'll see you soon. Until then, I'll think of you fondly, and often.

August 21, 2011

Pre-Departure Part One: Erie, PA

I had the pleasure of spending FIVE WHOLE WEEKS at home with my parents this summer. I haven't had a summer vacation for years and years. Come to think of it, I haven't spent that amount of time in Erie in the summer since freshman year of college, and I had forgotten how beautiful it is there. I am definitely a city person for now, but everything was sooo green. I did yardwork.  I couldn't get away from nature if I had wanted to- which I only did once. I kid you not, I saw a bear in our backyard. I don't have a photo to prove it, but my parents live walking distance from Fairview High School and this video is from the loading dock behind the gym there. Same bear. Probably.
Oh, also (as I mentioned in my acknowledgments) I was able to celebrate my parent's 37th wedding anniversary with Barb and Mike.

Some of you may know of (and regularly ridicule me for) my coolest summer job ever: ride operator at Waldameer Park and Water World. I want to say once and for all, it's NOT a carnival (Mary). Carnivals travel. This place is not going anywhere- it's legendary. For those of you out there who have not tasted the pleasure of a day in Waldameer, I think you're best bet of understanding what employment there looks like is to watch Adventureland, which just happens to star my girl crush Kristen Stewart, and one of my many boy crushes, Ryan Reynolds. Here is the trailer. Same clown-face trashcans, same borderline predatory maintenance guy (love you, Ryan), same rides (Wipeout). Seriously, the movie was filmed in our 'rival' park, Kenneywood near Pittsburgh.

I can operate every ride in this photo:

In fact, one evening I got home from a 10-hour day on the ferris wheel and couldn't sleep becacuse I had become convinced I left someone at the top when I locked everything down.

Erie in the summer offers the rare opportunity to pull out the old uniform, visit Walda, and indulge my inner-child. This summer the opportunity came in the form of my friend Tony's company picnic. A few friends (Jesse, his sister Lori and her son Caden) and I joined Tony and his daughter, Kyarra, to eat under the pavilion and share good times. Kyarra realllllly liked the scrambler and had no trouble making friends on the boats in kiddie land (Hi Kyarra! I miss you tons!):

Now, I can admit to being concerned that five weeks (three of which I spent worried that I might not actually get in to grad school) living in my parents house after years of living on my own in Boston might grow old. Sure enough, there were moments where I missed the liberties that come hand-in-hand with having your own lease. They were few, but when they snuck up on me I was fortunate to have some fabulous hometown friends to hang with. A special thanks to Holly, Jill, Ashley, Tony, Tom, and Jesse for helping me revisit 2001. Kim, Steph, Derek, and Andrew- the Lord made our paths cross for a fleeting moment in the land of our roots, and what a beautiful moment it was. 

Holly and I spent some QT at her dad's pool (we call him Sensae). When we put on Avril Lavigne I was immediately transported back to 2003, only Holly's pregnant now and I was drinking beer.

So that's a little about how I spent my summer vacation. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the hippie music festival I went to with the guys, or kayaking on Presque Isle with Jill and Ashley (although I still have the mosquito bite scars from camping and the blister scars from the kayak paddle. I can show you those if you want. Gross.)  I've been back in Boston since August 6th to babysit a little, tie up loose ends, and say my goodbyes. Then it's off to NYC for a visit with my friend Steph before I fly to Tel Aviv (!!!). Because she is a friend who grew up with me in Erie I feel comfortable posting a picture of her in this post. Just cause we're so cute. Boston/NYC updates to come :)

August 19, 2011

If not now, when?

Dear Friends and Family-

For my inaugural post I am going to take a moment to explain who I am, my intentions for this blog, give thanks to those who have helped make it all happen.

First, I don't assume that anyone beyond my collection of friends and loved ones will actually take interest in what I have to say, but any/all are welcome to follow along as I make my way across the sea to the Land of Milk and Honey. I'm keeping this as a record for myself and as (what I have concluded will be) the easiest way for me to keep my long-distance familiars abreast of my adventures. However, if you happen to have stumbled upon this page accidentally (welcome!) or just aren't aware of what's happening in my's the sitch:

I am a twenty-something lady from a small town in PA. My undergraduate degree is in Judaic Studies, and after college I spent a good deal of time working in the Jewish non-profit world in Boston, MA. The long and short of it is that I fell in love with Israel. I have spent years studying modern Jewish culture, Mid-East politics, watching current events, and dreaming of what my life could be if I just followed my heart and moved. So, I'm doing it. It took a lot of work, and a LOT of waiting, but I've been accepted to a graduate program in Political Science at Tel Aviv University, and am moving to Israel on September 1, 2011.  There may not be enough SPF in all the world to protect me, but this is what my soul wants. Now is the time.

With that, I'd like to thank a few people who have helped make all of this (the blog, and the move) possible.

37 years strong!!

  • Mom and Dad- their unwavering support has been sustaining. They have always encouraged me to dream big, and while I think  maybe they didn't expect this to be where my dreams would lead they have stood behind me regardless. They are my best friends, and I love them more than anything. I had the pleasure of spending 5 weeks with them this summer, which hasn't happened in years and years. I took this gem of a photo when we celebrated their wedding anniversary:

A pre-departure reunion ordained by the Lord Himself. Maggy, Marv, myself, and Polly

  • Dr. Marvin Wilson- the man who introduced me to the roots of my faith, and opened doors I would never have imagined myself walking through. His prayerful support and guidance have been invaluable. I believe it is rare to find a teacher and mentor like Marv Wilson- people so generous, passionate, sage, and eternally faithful are a once-in-a-lifetime find. I am honored to call him my teacher, my friend. Todah rabbah for all you've given me. 

Isn't she lovely? And talented.
  • The one and only Samantha Beam (soon to be Samantha McLelland)- the graphic designer/art teacher/soulmate with the mostest. Sam designed the beautiful banner for me (and without knowing any Hebrew!) Samantha holds the honor of being the only person who ever made me laugh hard enough to pee my pants as an adult. Her 'dead arm' impression is terrifying and hilarious. Sam kept a blog for awhile, lets just say she is a true wordsmith. Even though she hasn't posted since 2010 I still read through it sometimes, you may want to also if you're looking for a laugh.
Maggy, in her natural state- Dunkin Donuts in-hand.

  • Maggy Nardone Vetterling- responsible for the development of this blog. Also, of my soul. Maggy was the only other Jewish Studies major at Gordon College, and we spent our time together studying under Dr. Wilson. Our niche interest in/love for Jewish culture is what brought us together, and is one of the only things we have in common- somehow, it works. Our friendship was a narrow miss, and a total win. Maggy's blog is sure to be one of my many inspirations (I'll do my best not to copy her style while I experiment with my own...)

So, this has been my introductory blog post/trial run. I'll be updating soon with pics and stories from what I'm calling my "pre-departure" epoch. I hope you'll enjoy the blog as much as I enjoy creating it. Bear with me, I'm learning how to do this as I go. Your thoughts and comments are welcome!