Saturday, April 30, 2005

with matza and moror shall they eat it

oh, the bitterness of one caught in the grip of passover. not to be irreverent or anything, but i spend much more time over the eight days of this holiday thinking about how hungry i am than i do thinking about the slavery of my people in egypt thousands of years ago. i mean, sure, bondage was bad but god, i'm hungry. even when i eat, i'm hungry. these are the eight days when being vegetarian truly, truly sucks: the variety in your diet basically boils down to fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese, and then more of the same. occasionally, when you've topped out on mercury but you feel you can squeeze in just a tiny bit more cholesterol, french fries.


only about 24 more hours. that's a comfort. meanwhile, how unjewish is a holiday when you're not allowed to eat? how maddeningly inconsistent. you know why the holiday lasts eight days, by the way? no? that's because there IS NO REASON. the best answer i've ever gotten is that jewish holidays are always either two days or eight days so - passover's eight. in my humble opinion, passover should remain only two days, the two days of the seders, since the seders are the most exciting part. (when you have an entire holiday whose purpose is to exclude a food group, a bunch of people sitting around a table eating horseradish in unison is a circus. it's a regular mardi gras.)

through the heavy fog of my disgruntlement, i can still recognize the joy of my life: my new laptop is indeed, as advertised, a little white god that sits on my lap and fairly coos at me with pleasure. i still need a name for it, "little white god" being cumbersome and sacriligious. hum.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

when i was seventeen ...

savage love this week has advice for 15 year old girls. my two favorites are the one written by the 14 year old boy and the one written by the mother of a current 15 year old. too cute.

in its honor, how about some brainstorming? what i wish i could tell my 15 year old self:

- 26 really isn't as old as you think it is.
- hurry up with the contacts already.
- you will never date in high skool. let that soak in, and then get over it. bright side: you will never give birth in the bathroom during prom.
- the indigo girls, while wrenching and lyrical, will never ease your pain.
- let go of the grudges. you will, eventually, anyway, so why bother nursing them now? and be nicer to people. and do your damn homework sometimes. and would it kill you to put some gel in your hair?
- er, yeah ... and have more self-esteem.
- that thing you're gonna do, though? where you have the poems that you wrote about the guy you like, and you get up in front of everyone at your class's Coffee House and you read the poems out loud, even though the guy you like, to whom they're addressed, is in the audience and videotaping you? that's frikkin awesome. go you, self!
- the crushed velvet thing, though, is a bit much.
- oh, and junior prom, when kiki, your mom's hairstylist, will want to blow dry your hair straight, all forty acres of it, and the lady at the clinique counter will want to paint your face kabuki-style -- run.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


... and here's my letter, on this outrage business is super fun. i wish i could get paid for it.

also, i won both rounds of pinochle today against the aging bohemians. i got better once i began taking more risks and playing with more confidence. there's a lesson in there somewhere but god knows what it could be.

happy passover, everybody. here's to eggs and cheese!

Friday, April 22, 2005

tinfoil-ass-hattery, or, an army of juan

now that the NYT website, in their attempt to put a dodecahedron of faces to the gray lady, features that headshot of david brooks next to his drivel, i find it impossible to take mr. brooks seriously. how can you stay mad at a man in a pink shirt with a purple tie?
though the washington post's charles "sour" krauthammer does not have an endearing picture to recommend him, his most recent article does refuse to endorse the new conservative strategy of blaming the judiciary for everything from global warming to cheese turning moldy to judges' inability to feel safe in their homes. radical! of course he reverts at the end. silly chuckie. but overall, a pretty impressive departure.

so just when i feel like i'm lacking right-wing ideologues to fuel my ire, who comes out of nowhere to hit me over the head with fifty pounds of hot air? why, ladies and gentlemen, it's JUAN COLE of! let's have a hand for the latest hysterical provocateur to make the left look bad! welcome, juan! michael moore has been pretty quiet lately so thank god you've stepped in to fill the void.

what's getting mr. cole's panties in a twist? WITCH HUNTS. he thinks -- brace yourselves -- that columbia's recent investigation of professor Joseph Massad was the result of involvement by "off-campus right-wing Zionist organizations aligned with Israel's Likud Party." Massad is a VICTIM of a bunch of outside agitators "clearly hostile and with ideological agendas" who want to bring him down because he's pro-palestinian and you can, apparently, be anything you want in america but not that. (i know. i'm scared too, guys. hold each other. we'll get through this.)

his implication that there exists a monolithic and powerful jewish conspiracy to silence anti-israel voices in america is one thing. (well, two things: it's also painfully stupid.) but juan cole is invoking an historical moment of actual significance and horror and DILUTING it by using it to make this facile comparison; and as a student of historical moments, i find that offensive. worse, infuriating. McCarthyism? Massad wasn't fired. he wasn't fined. i'm not saying he should have been either. i'm saying: what an insult to actual victims of 50s paranoia.

to cover his rhetorical bases, cole throws in some nazi and communist references too, so they all party together like they haven't since the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact. while sen. taft toasts mao and they eat some cheese puffs, marvelling at how quickly their legacies have lost their power through misuse, cole aims his guns at a new target: the gray lady herself. "The New York Times editorial is among the more dangerous documents threatening higher education in America to have appeared in a major newspaper since the McCarthy period" -- how does this guy not choke on his own sanctimonious bullshit? dangerous? threatening? i'm sorry, but are we not talking about an NYT OP-ED? and have you seen david brooks's pink shirt?

all i can say is, salon, i love you, but please. spare me the hysterical claptrap about how the sky is falling because an ivy league university, after much foot dragging, investigated claims of professor misconduct and the NYT wrote something with which Juan Cole disagrees. being Anti-Anti-Anti-Israel is NOT the new black and you sir are no John Kennedy.
chapter 15, wherein ester learns that working in entertainment isn't as much fun as you might think

oh, life. i'm sitting here crying to deirdre flint -- and when goofy folk-singers are pushing your buttons, you know you're in trouble.

i've been doing that thing again, that thing where i feel like if i do my best to change, i can (without directly asking!) convince someone else to change too. the realization hit me yesterday, with all the subtlety of a comet, that some people just are the way they are: you can't force them to be grateful, appreciative, sensitive or kind -- not by simply setting a cheery example. what the hell is wrong me? i know that! in another life, i'll bet i was a nun.

what's particularly maddening about this realization is i JUST LEARNED THIS LESSON. that's why i left my monster flatmate and moved to my new apartment! i realized I COULDN'T MAKE HER BE NICE TO ME JUST BY BEING NICE TO HER. do lessons always come in twos? to keep each other company? i'll bet lessons do it while you're not watching. those inconsiderate bastards. next thing you know, they'll spawn and little lessons will follow you in packs, giggling and nipping at your heels and bickering with each other, until the day you die.

on a brighter note, i go home this weekend for passover and -- see my childhood house for possibly the last time, because my parents are putting it on the market. on no! that's not a brighter note at all! shit.

bright note, bright note. i played pinochle on tuesday night with the flamboyant son a famous and recently deceased actor, and i get to do it again this coming tuesday. the game's host promised to make me hard-boiled eggs to replace the usual pizza-and-beer refreshments. oh, passover: the original lo-carb diet.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Reminds me of that old Mug root beer commercial: a room full of vikings all chanting "Mug! Mug! Mug!" Realizing that one viking isn't chanting, his fellow turns to him and says, "Why aren't you singing our drinking song?" The viking replies mournfully, "I don't know the words." Then the chanting continues "Mug! Mug! Mug!"

I think that story explains everything, as good stories do.

At my poetry workshop today, F. Selma and Rebecca's Mom (not their real names) really liked my most recent piece. The assignment was to write an insult poem. So. perfect. One of the other girls in the class, who I don't have a nickname for, seemed embarassed about composing a great tart kiss-off about her ex-girlfriend. I had no such scruples.

I do worry sometimes that I don't have enough morals. This despite a thorough religious education which included daily prayer in school, so don't get all christian right on my ass. Some things never seemed wrong to me. Lying, for example: for many years, I thought lying was a perfectly acceptable way of communicating, just another way of stringing words together. Nowadays I'm much more fond of the truth, but who knows whether the pendulum will swing again in several years. Even with my fondness for truth, I believe the importance of Telling a Good Story supersedes any silly loyalty to What Actually Happened.

Certainly I have enough morals to know certain things are wrong. Killing, raping, stealing, waging war, refusing to fill legitimate medical prescriptions, mixing stripes and plaids, selling your children into slavery, overcharging for smoothies in SoHo, making of fun of someone when that person is within earshot. (In Rabbinics class, we learned that humiliating someone in public is almost as bad as murdering them.) Me, I don't murder, and I try not to humiliate. I've never so much as shoplifted. I jaywalk with pleasure but that's different: this is New York City, after all. The blind jaywalk. People jaywalk with infants in strollers.

At what point do you realize your moral system needs a tune-up? And how do you effect that change? Food for thought.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

a little white god i can hold in my lap

Mon dieu, il est arrive! One beautiful, angelic, unmarred little ibook has arrived, dropped off by the ebay stork. Or so i hear from my brother, who was in charge of directing the stork. The series of events went as follows:

Me: I'm considering buying an ibook.
Brother: That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Brother: Hey, I've been researching ibooks and perhaps your idea was not criminally stupid. Perhaps there may be something to this "macintosh" thing.

Brother: Okay! Here's what's happening. There's an auction on ebay for YOUR computer -- it has to be your computer, it's awesome, and it's cheaper than you can get it online. You have to bid for it. If you won't bid for it, I will. Or can you bid for me, actually? I'm at a bar.

And so, the harmless plan to replace my decrepit and w-less laptop, hatched with my co-worker T. only a few weeks ago and which T. and I were perfectly content to keep idly batting back and forth ("should i buy one?" "yeah definitely. should i?" "oh yeah." ... "should i?") cost me $950 because I made the mistake of informing my brother. Ah well.

T. and I spent this evening doing my taxes. If our figures are correct, and they should be dammit because (a) bitch azn!, (b) bitch scored in the astronomical on her most recent standardized math test, and (c) we totally used a calculator and everything, I should get enough back from various state and federal governments to pay for the beaming, beneficent white god and take T. out to a celebratory dinner and apologize for calling her "azn" and "bitch."

In non-laptop related news, I've been thinking about Camille Paglia. Now, Swarthmore as a general rule was the kind of place where you could engage fellows in discussion on just about any topic or personality. But every once in a while, I found, I encountered a topic or personality about which/whom conventional wisdom was so ingrained that there was no discussion to be had. Instead of discussion, fellows substituted a dismissive "pff!" sound. David Horowitz? "Pff!" And so on.

What I can't recall is whether Camille Paglia is a "Pff!"er. Andrew Dvorkin, RIP -- her too. The fear of the dismissive reaction keeps me from raising the issue, or perhaps I should say 'spectre,' of either. But in the two interviews I've linked, I found myself finding Camille somewhat charming, even as I giggle at her Goodyear blimp of an ego. It's mostly due to her snarky disdain for theory, but still, please tell me, am I going to lefty hell? The kind of hell filled with shrines to President Tom Delay and where wednesday night standby West Wing is stripped from the air and replaced with conservative christian apocalyptic fantasies?? (Oh wait ...)

It's hard having to think for myself. No, really.

Monday, April 04, 2005


stop the presses! i've figured out what i'm missing. it's not fame or admiration or buckets of tax-free cash, although all of those things would be much appreciated and will hopefully someday figure prominently in my life. no, far simpler, my friend: i'm missing, for the first time ever, communism. i mean community! community.

every place i've ever been for a length of time has had either a natural or forced sense of community: cty, ramah, various pre-college summer programs; jds, my K-12 all-jews-all-the-time skool, for sure, not to mention the jds Take Your Hormones to Israel senior trip; swarthmore, even my study abroad program. they might not all have had theme songs (does hatikvah count as a theme song?). they might not all have had bonfires, or pledges, or mixers, or other forms of mandatory bonding. my life has not been one long fucking girl scouts meeting. however, i have lived in a venn diagram: my close group of friends, circumscribed by a larger group of somehow-related -- basically, jewish and/or intellectual -- peers.

and now! where the hell am i? more importantly, where the hell are my friends? everything is scattershot now. some people from work here, a couple college friends there, some other assorted folks from the past far off in that corner. nothing coherent. and i love things that cohese! also i love the word cohese. i'm pretty sure it's a word.

charlotte bronte was disatisfied with her first job out of college. she was ambitious, restless -- she knew where she wanted to be but didn't know how to get there and wasn't sure she had the patience for the journey. hear hear, charlotte! i may take umbrage at your disrespecting ms. austen, but i feel you on the late-adolescent angst. i don't, on the other hand, want to engage in a series of fruitless, tabboo love affairs and die young. there must be another way.

mr. ben, who is in my ways my refuge, accompanied me to steel magnolias and bore it without complaint. luckily the acting was good, even if our (comped) seats weren't. my only quibble was the scene that always gets me in the movie. it didn't have the same power in this production. a couple tears dribbled out of my eyes but i had been ready to geyser. that was a little disappointing. otherwise, i'm glad i went; and shoutout to becca's boyfriend for building the set!

how on earth does one find community in a city this sprawling? i wish you could place an order for it on the internet and have it delivered to your door the next morning: Fresh Direct meets soylent green meets jdate.

Friday, April 01, 2005


more blog troubles. what the hell? i've now reconstructed the site for the second time, but i'm scared the problem will continue: the code simply vanishes from the template. a few lines consistently remain at the top.

in perhaps related news, i'm antsy, unfocused, and dull today. too much lately about assisted suicide and death in general, what with the shitstorm over million dollar baby, terry schiavo, and now the pope. ("dead or not dead? keep reading to find out!") ugh. why won't the clouds break and let spring out?

on the bright side, i scored free tickets to the weep-fest steel magnolias on broadway saturday evening. sweet, sweet catharsis.