Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon and Kate Plus Hate

Full disclosure: I've never watched the show, but I get the whole premise of an otherwise sane couple mired in a litter of children and the poignant hilarity that follows. It's a prime example of that delicious subgenre of television that makes us all happy to live our lives and not the ones of these pseudo-celebrities. And the latest tabloid escapade to emerge from J&KP8 is that one or both spouses have been unfaithful.

While it should come as little surprise that the overexposure and unearned celebrity a family-based reality show would wreak havoc on said family, I still pity these people for having to endure all this on TV.

I firmly believe that signing up your loved ones for trial by network ratings involves some kind of "you get what you deserve" scrutiny. Making your lack of uterine and fertility drug judgment fodder for pop culture commentary seems especially fit for our desperate need to achieve 15 minutes of fame. But to drag your children into it as well? That's just cruel.

When Jon, Kate and their counterparts on other shows signed up, they were consenting adults. They might not have fully comprehended what they were getting themselves into, but at least they made an informed choice. At the same time, they'd be literally NO WHERE without their oh-so adorable multitude of children who had absolutely no ability to make their own decisions.

Their parents decided for the sake of publicity to exploit the fact they took the birthing option that didn't include selective reduction. Perhaps the failure of their marriage is just an inevitable side effect?

Meanwhile, these children will be thrust into an even greater level of public examination and dissection. If one so much as shoplifts a pack of gum, we will all have to hear about it on Oprah, the Today Show, et. al., ad nauseum.

I don't know the sextuplets' (and I think there's a set of twins) names, but I sincerely hope they are all able to rise about their parents' equally numerous set of bad decisions. You may say I'm a hater or simply an uncaring broad. I say, think about the damn kids before you expose them to the harsh limelight simply by existing, or before you sign a bunch of book deals, oh and before you go and sleep with someone who isn't your spouse. That might be a good idea too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Digging in the Dirt

For a while now, I've lamented the one thing lacking in my apartment complex besides central air-conditioning and washer/dryers in each unit. Even though they're "garden" apartments, there aren't places for tenants to grow anything and my window sills are either exposed to ridiculous amounts of sunshine or completely shaded by shrubery.

Ergo, when I saw a flyer at the local yoga studio advertising plots in a community garden for $35 a pop, I literally jumped up and down with excitement. Not only was it affordable, but the garden was located just a mile or two away from my place - super convenient for walks.

I secured a half-size plot and even after being laid off decided to forge ahead, writing off the garden project as a healthy distraction and good for a few blog posts. I dutifully hit Home Depot for a bag of dirt, seeds and a few potted veggies and flowers. I wasn't even deterred by an incredibly shitty neighbor who inexplicably stole my dirt right off my doorstep.

Last Saturday, I made my way over to the garden with my best earth mother frame of mind. With the exception of the guy in the neighboring plot who rudely told me I didn't belong there because I didn't realize the bright pink beans with blue speckles in his garden were NOT jelly beans - everyone else was incredibly nice. The three women organizing the project were very friendly and someone else helped me plant my seeds and design my mulch path. Another woman clearly knew what she was doing and she graciously offered to share her bounty when the time comes. Still another happily admitted her own inexperience and we enjoyed a mutual laugh.

Since my future living situation is completely in question after my extended lease expires at the end of August, I have no idea what the longevity of this foray into gardening will be. I will admit the daily watering trips are a tad annoying. And I'm a little nervous the basil and mint seeds will never sprout.

But in the meantime, I've got two kinds of peppers, squash, marigolds and yellow tomatoes doing their thing and tomorrow I'm planting eggplant and more tomatoes - thanks to leftovers from my aunt and uncle.

Beyond the cheap organic food coming my way, I do have a rewarding distraction from my job hunt and at least one daily obligation/routine in the topsy-turvy world of the unemployed I've recently joined. And I have no doubt my friends will enjoy the panoply of zucchini dishes and pesto that will spew forth from my kitchen come harvest time. Send recipes now!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Life After Lay Off

Thursday was my last day at work. Though I'd never use a word as strong as "love" to describe my time there, it was my first job after grad school and the job that brought me to New Jersey. Lots of things happened in my life during these past three years, from the death of a grandparent to my brother's college graduation, my father's remarriage and the coming and going of umpteen friends/boyfriends.

Most relevant, I realized that perhaps this job, a position I'd been groomed for during two years of school, internships and informal training, was not a good fit for me and I was often frustrated and unhappy. Now, just two weeks and two days after that fateful day of reckoning, I've learned a few things about life after lay off.

1. I seem to inspire confidence in people. Various colleagues and friends have commented, "Oh, I don't worry about you. You'll be fine and will have a great new job in no time." While it's nice to know they find me capable and more importantly, employable, I do want their concern if for no other reason than the fact that I'm scared shitless.

2. Being unemployed is a little like being pregnant (I imagine). Everyone has an opinion on what you should do and horror stories about their own similar experiences. And no one has any problem telling you exactly what they think about your situation. From the delicately sympathetic, "How are you?" to the audaciously rude, "Ever find a job?" the unemployed have to field a startling number of questions.

3. Brains and ambition do not necessarily confer certainty in one's path in life. Yeah, there are a million jobs I could do, but ask me what I want to do and I'm really not sure. After I finish writing this post, the next item on my to do list is tackling a values clarification exercise that will hopefully help me out.

Somehow, my dream job still hasn't evolved beyond the New York Times Styles Section correspondent position I fantasized about in college journalism classes. When interested parties inquire about what I'd like to do next with my career, I don't truly have a good answer.

It's almost embarrassing for someone who's always prided herself on being unafraid on ambition to suddenly find herself without clear goals in sight. When I moved to Baltimore after college, I knew I'd go to grad school, get a fellowship with a three-year work commitment and continue on the path of professional achievement within the Jewish communal workworld. Seven years later, I am need of a Life-GPS that soothingly utters, "recalculating."

Who knows what this values clarification program will suggest and what the next few months of job hunting will bring my way. Though I am not so lost that I will blindly follow the suggestions of my blog readers, I'm happy to hear what you have to say... as long as it doesn't involve law school.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Washington DC Jewish Music Festival - 6/4-6/11

Generally, I only use this blog for shameless self-promotion, but since the intern at the Washington DC Jewish Music Fest asked so nicely and her boss is a fellow BHU alumna, I just couldn't say no. Besides, since most of my writing energies have been dedicated to resume revisions of late, it's nice to have an built-in post.

If you're in the DC area in early June, which coincidentally I will be, then be sure to check this out. There are concerts at a range of price points including free!

The 10th Anniversary Washington Jewish Music Festival brings an exciting mix of sound and energy to DC June 4-11. The Festival kicks off with a Pre-Fest Event with Israel’s Ivri Lider on June 2, followed by the official Opening Night on June 4 with the award-winning Andy Statman Trio.

The Festival closes with a bang with Grammy Award winner Miri Ben-Ari: The Hip Hop Violinist. Ben-Ari was listed as one of Jewish Women International's "Ten Women to Watch of 2007."

Other performers include: Pitom, The Sway Machinery, Feinsmith Quartet, Electro Morocco, ShirLaLa and The Kinsey Sicks. There's something for everyone during this festival of live performances, hands-on workshops and cross-cultural dialogues.

Tickets range from free to $35. For tickets: For information: 202-777-3251 or or

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Haveil Havalim Shout Out Redux

In case you're feeling deprived of bloggy goodness, here's a link to this week's Haveil Havalim. Thanks to Jack for hosting this week and happy birthday!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Possible Haitus

One of my main goals for this blog has been to keep it from devolving into a diary or simple retelling of the events in my life. Periodically, I make an exception to that rule, like when I have a colossally bad date or fantastically exciting news.

Last week, being laid off from my job of three years in the midst of one of the worst economic crises to hit the globe seemed like a damn good reason to break my own rules again. Now, five days later my quest to find a new job (which, you'll recall from my 30 By 30 list was something I'd put on hold until the economy improved) has completely consumed my life.

Swine flu has come and started to go, we finally got a good HHS Secretary, Bea Arthur and Dom deLuise died and I'm sure someone won some sort of reality show competition without meriting a mere blip on this blog.

Much as I hate the idea of taking an extended break that doesn't involve an airport and a vacation, I think I'm putting enough pressure on myself to network, make phone calls, set up informational interviews, revise my resume, scan the websites, write cover letters, send my resume, re-read my management textbook and periodically break for crying jags about my utter uselessness and failure to have either a man or a job at the age of 29.

Needless to say, I don't need the additional stress of churning out impossibly thoughtful and witty posts at this juncture. I'm not sure what the next few months will bring in any aspect of my life, but I do hope this blog will be a part of it. I may not write a 500 word piece every week, but please keep on checking just in case I come up with something brilliant. And if I go on a colossally bad date, you can definitely count on me to faithfully report it.