Combination Lock

Three turns to the right. Stop at “Guilt.”

Two turns to the left. Stop at “Self-loathing.”

One turn to the right. Stop at “Guilt for the narcissism of self-loathing.”

Open the safe. Inside, you will find another, small safe.

Three turns to the right. Stop at “Anger.”

Two turns to the left. Stop at “Impatience.”

One turn to the right. Stop at “Self loathing for feeling angry and impatient.”

Open the safe. This time, you’ll find a drawstring bag inside. Open it, and out will flow dozens of small, egg-sized capsules. Each is clear, with a folded up piece of paper inside of it. You can open the capsules look at the writing on the papers if you like. One will say “Happiness.” Another will say “Misery.” Another will say “Oddball.” Another will say “Unique.”

There’s something else in the cloth bag. If you reach right to the bottom of it, you’ll find a needle. The moment you try to pull it out, you’ll find the cloth bag unraveling. But if you leave the needle in place, you’ll be able to put all the capsules back inside. Then you can draw the strings shut tight, and even tie them. You can put the bag inside the first safe, and put that back inside the second. You know the combination now, so it’s no trouble going in and retrieving the bag whenever you like.

But what if you lock both those safes and throw them into an ecologically correct trash heap? Melt them down, use the metal to make… not bullets or guns, no… not spearheads either… and not jail-bars… how about wrought iron railings, delicate and beautiful, the kind you can train vines and flowers to grow around? Then you can still feel safe, but you don’t have to look at a cage or a weapon. You can’t use the railings against yourself, because you can step over them and make them beautiful. Forget the flowers – even without them, they’re beautiful. Just wait, see if other people admire them. I’ll bet you they will.

What about the bag, you ask? Well, that’s still with you, isn’t it? Tie it to your belt. Let people look into it sometimes. Let the people you love go in deeper, and sometimes maybe take a risk with a stranger. Don’t worry, they can’t steal anything. Even if they take one of those capsules in there, a new one will pop back instead of it. But more importantly, spend some time with that bag yourself. Look into it. Sort it out. See what belongs and what doesn’t. See, this is the magic about it – if anyone else tries to take something away, it’ll pop right back. But if you give it to them willingly or get rid of it yourself, it’s gone for good.

Careful, though. Don’t throw away “Compassion,” or “Love,” or even “Fear.” Don’t let yourself throw all of it away, both good and bad. Keep most of it. Just sort out things like “Pointless Guilt” and “Worthlessness” and you’ll have a good start going.

But remember the combination. If you don’t know how to open that first safe, you’ll never get anywhere. What if the combination changes, you ask? Ah, well, if it does, I trust you’ll be able to listen to that little click-click when the wheel hits the right place, so you’ll crack it in no time. Just make sure to try.

A Thought On Writing

Although I’m writing about essay-writing in this particular instance, I’m pretty sure that this happens in creative writing as well.

There is a point, while writing something, when your brain simply goes numb. You catch yourself staring at the computer screen or at the notebook in front of you, and for a moment you’re almost sure that no thoughts have gone through your head for the past two minutes. Of course, if you think about it, you realize that you’ve been thinking the whole time, but not about anything profound or interesting – definitely not about what you’ve been writing. Rather, you’ve been thinking about your next meal, or the dress your friend just bought, or the trees with their pretty autumn leaves outside.

It’s a strange sensation – almost like your mind is betraying you, for once it gets to this point, it’s often really hard to get your mind to function properly once more. You may need, at this point, to get up and stretch and do something completely different. If you try to stare at the page for much longer, you’ll fall into despair and won’t manage, under any circumstances, to write something you’re pleased with. It’s a tricky situation, and one which I’ve been reaching over and over again in the past couple weeks.

The real problem is when you don’t let yourself take that break from whatever you’re writing. It’s a problem I repeat too much. I need to learn to listen to my brain, and when it tells me to stop and get up and do something else, I should do it, instead of sit and force myself to write for another half hour or hour or two or three. Having said that, I am, of course, going back to my extremely poorly written essay, even though my brain is going fuzzy. Alas, I must ignore my own conclusions for tonight.

Sunday-Monday-Blah-Blah-Blah

Think of everything Monday represents for you: the beginning of the week, errands, traffic, going back to work, the end of the weekend, Garfield hates it too, MISERY. Yes, that’s what most people feel about Mondays. Now, picture that for a moment in your mind. And now, transfer it all to SUNDAY.

Yes, in Israel Sunday is the first day of the week. Mondays are just another day, just one step closer to Friday and Saturday. Sundays are our first days, and I can only imagine how weird that is to anyone who lives anywhere else. Sundays for most of you mean another day of rest, a day to sleep in, a day where everything is shut down, a day when there’s no mail! But here? Nope! Here, Sundays are the dreaded first day and Saturdays are the blissful weekend.

I mention this because I know I’m going to find it extremely odd to move and live somewhere where Sundays are another day off. Which makes me wonder about our definitions for things- just because Sundays are defined here as the first day of the week, that’s what’s going to be embedded in my brain forever. The rest of the world sees Sunday as the weekend but I’ll forever have this small part of my mind thinking that Sunday is the dreaded beginning of another work week.

Forgive my rambling and pointless post, but excitement for the coming-leave-taking on April ninth is addling my brain – especially now that I got accepted to Sarah Lawrence. I’m not gloating, really I’m not!

Cathartic Description

A white blaze of fire seems to travel from the nape of my neck and all the way up to the crown of my skull. It spreads as it goes, reaching places in my face and bone structure that I’m normally not even aware of. There are so many parts of the ear that I never notice, but when the pain creeps up the side of my face I realize just how complex the cartilage of the ear is and how soft and susceptible to pain the skin right behind it is.

My jaw is even more attuned than I am. I can almost hear it protesting and groaning as the painful fire shoots flame after licking flame into it. I can feel the long bone, stretching from right next to my ear and down almost to my chin, and I can feel the creaks in it as I try to open my mouth wide enough to yawn the inevitable nauseous yawn that is caused by the painful flames.

My eyebrow and eye seem to be warring for my ultimate attention, each begging to be soothed by the firm press of a finger or palm. The eyebrow and the bone behind it win out, because the poor eye gets even more painful when given over to the practice of being rubbed firmly by the knuckles of my fingers.

Writing about it doesn’t really help, but it seems like a better way of dealing with the pain than banging my head against a wall.

Distraction

A buzzing drone in my ear, I struggled to open my mouth in anything other than a pointless flapping and ranting of facts and figures. As my mind struggled to stay with the task of solving problems, complaints and mistakes, my fingers itched to be of use, and dragged my mind elsewhere, time after time.
It was hard to believe that the despair that had overtaken my mind and emotion just hours earlier seemed to have dissipated and dissolved under those same itching fingers, those same thoughts that were causing my mind to wander and my mouth to smile more often than not. The feeling of my fingers flying across the small pages in those precious few minutes between the chattering of voices in my ear – ah! The best feeling in the world, to be for once creating instead of venting, making up instead of putting down facts.
The ink flowing from the pen seemed to give birth to new ideas and characters with every twitch of my fingers, clutching the pen so tightly that my arm began to ache before long. My mind flowed with names, situations, ideas, friendships, worlds – all so far and free from my own that they made me dizzy just to think about them and the control and power my make-believing mind would have on them.
The hours passed quicker than they ever had before – even when I could not write for an hour or two at a time, my brain never ceased to create and invent and add flourishes to the characters and their unique traits and situations. It was the best distraction, and I’m not minded to forget it any time soon.

Fatigue and Mental Health Days

Even people who love their jobs totally and unreservedly must have days where they’re weary to the bone and need to rest. It might come on by a soar throat and an aching head, it might come on by a long period of time without a proper vacation, or it may come out of nowhere or out of some irrational, emotional state.

Whatever it may be, sometimes you just need to take a day off. A day during which you let yourself sleep late, let yourself forget about the cares and worries of responsibility, let yourself be completely idle and enjoy every minute of it.

Well, you SHOULD be able to let yourself do all that. I, for some odd reason, have a fixation over this issue. I feel like if I’m not actually sick, fever and all, then it’s wrong for me to take a day off. I did take a day off today, and I did come home early from work yesterday, and I did have a soar throat and a tiny bit of a fever last night – and yet, I wasn’t truly ill, and I spent half the day feeling guilty about not having gone to work.

Uh-oh. I feel a workaholic in the making. Better nip this urge in the bud before it’s too late!

Vibes

One of the most magnificent and incredible things to me are how days can change from being unbearable to face to being calm, peaceful, enjoyable and rewarding. There are those mornings where you may wake up and just feel so tired, so sad, so completely unprepared to face a day of work and socializing and exercise and travel. And yet, when the day goes by, step by step, you realize that you’re going through the motions without a negative thought in your head.

What is it about human nature that makes us so utterly easy and open to change of moods? Not always, of course not – sometimes we’ll retain a bad mood for hours and refuse to let ourselves budge from it. And yet, sometimes the simple act of human kindness, of a smile or a voice, can help raise our spirits. Sometimes even nice weather and a light breeze can be enough to raise a smile on our lips.

It also always seems to happen most that when we don’t expect it, we suddenly experience the change. In the midst of a raging temper, one might be startled into a laugh. In between sobs, someone might be kind enough to make us smile. We are fickle creatures indeed, but one cannot help but be thankful for it if it helps us get rid of bad vibes.

Everpresent

Sometimes I find it amazing that humans have managed to exist as a conscious race at all. Think about it for a moment – we’re each stuck with our own mind and our own emotions all the time. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there isn’t any escape. When we live with other people, we have to “endure” them all the time as well, but we’re only dealing with the outward projection of this person’s thoughts and emotions. Even living with children, who speak out about what they need and want rather more than adults, isn’t the same as how we live with ourselves.

If I sound rather gloomy or negative here, I apologize, for that is not my intention at all. Of course we all have painful moments where we have a difficult time with ourselves and we feel the need to escape from something that we can never escape from. But that’s not what I’m alluding to in this post – I’m mostly thinking about the mundane, everyday thoughts that we deal with. Our minds are always buzzing with thought and emotion, always trying to figure things out, always thinking things we’d rather not think about. We have control over ourselves, but only to a point. How many times have we tried to get rid of a tune or song that’s stuck in our head? We only succeed when we’re truly distracted by something else, outside of us.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s incredible so many of us are still sane, stuck with ourselves as are.

Good Impression? Defintely Not.

I am going to share a little story with you. As most of you know, I’m applying to colleges and am currently waiting for answers from most places. One of the places that I applied to was Yale. Yes, it’s definitely one of my reach-schools, and I have no real belief that I’ll get in, but who knows?

I got a call the other day from a woman. She was one of those women who talk through their noses, and Hebrew through the nose is even more annoying than any other language spoken that way. She asked me if I was who I was, I replied that I am, and she then started saying something along the lines of “I understand my boss is supposed to be interviewing you…?” I, of course, replied confusedly that I have no idea who her boss is and I don’t know if he’s supposed to interview me.

Eventually she managed to figure out that her boss was a Yale alumni and that he wants to interview me, as part of the application process. We agreed on a time and date, and eventually hung up, to my ears’ great relief.

The interview is tomorrow, the alumnus is  a lawyer, and I’m already nervous that he’s going to be the biggest prat on the planet – if only because he had his secretary call me [the Brown alum called himself] and didn’t even tell her who I was or what sort of interview we’re supposed to be having. I ask you, is this the sort of impression I’m supposed to have about Yale right from the start? Pompous asses who don’t really care much?

Phases

As you may know, if you frequent this page, I am a walker. I walk daily, and a day without a long, brisk walk is a day that is plain wrong. Tonight, as I was taking a walk, I realized that my walks have phases, and they are the same phases each and every time.

The Beginning: When I set out, I am normally optimistic about the coming walk – thinking to myself how good it is to be out, breathing the fresh, hopefully cool, air. This feeling fades though, rather quickly, and this phase doesn’t normally last more than three to four minutes.

The Misery: This is the phase that comes over me as the muscles in my legs begin to ache, as I begin getting warm and uncomfortable, as I begin to think longingly of getting home already. My music begins to annoy me, I feel everyone is staring at me, my muscles burn and my hands freeze or seize up. I begin a fierce, silent battle in my mind – a small part of me trying to convince the rest of me to cut the walk short, to take a shortcut, to give up, that it’s not a big deal. I hope never to succumb to this feeling. Shortly after the halfway point of my walk though, this phase blissfully fades away.

The Glass Half Full: About three minutes after my halfway point, I begin feeling optimistic once more. I think to myself – I’ve finished half already! Even though the weariness in my muscles is still prevailing over my physical well being, my mood begins to lighten and I feel the very beginnings of what will come in the next phase…

The Reason I Walk Every Day: This is my favorite part. On a good day, it lasts almost half my walk. This is the part where my energy and stamina suddenly rise, adrenaline pumping through me, my muscles miraculously become free of pain or discomfort, only full now of the urge to move on and on and on. I feel like I could walk forever, and keep enjoying it. I suddenly feel like bouncing, running, jumping. Every breath of wind feels like a blessing, as if it knows I need the cool air on my face. I feel elated, so proud that I didn’t cave into my discomfort, so in control of my body and energy.

The Ending: This phase is a more tired state of the previous one. It happens only as I walk into the driveway of my building, shaking a little still with the force of the energy flowing through me, out of me. I feel exhausted,  but pleased, satisfied, proud and content all at once.