Seasons of Love

Terrarium

I went karaoking this weekend with some friends and definitely did some RENT singing so 525,600 minutes is definitely on my mind.  That and the fact that we are a week from 2014 and what a roller-coaster year it has been.

I went out to lunch today with a dear friend of mine who I had lost contact with for several years.  I am the type of person who tried really hard to keep in touch with people and this friend of mine basically just dropped off the face of the planet for about four years.  About three weeks ago they popped back onto Facebook and we made plans to go out to lunch.  I knew when I wasn’t able to get in touch with them (cell phone disconnected, emails unanswered, no Facebook activity) that they were probably going through something major but I was living in New York and wasn’t in a position to really find this person.

Going out to lunch today, I found out that there was a lot of hardship that had happened and also a lot of growth that had come out of it.  I was saddened to hear about all the bad times that I wasn’t there to help with but heartened that they’ve worked so hard and so successfully to turn their life around.

It’s also hard to believe that I am sitting in such a different place in 12 months, physically and emotionally.  A year ago I was working in a job that I was desperately unhappy with but not sure how to extricate myself from it.  Now I am working several jobs but am really happy with that choice and the ability to take care of my grandmother.

It’s so wonderful to be able to sit with good friends and hear how things have gone from negative to positive and I hope that we all find that in the upcoming year.

Online Dating Epic Fail

Online Dating

So this is somewhat of a sad story but if I don’t share it and laugh about it, what else am I going to do?

As I mentioned, I am on a few different dating websites.  Two of the three I’ve had luck on and gone out on dates/had a relationship from one of them  The third one I joined over the summer and haven’t been super impressed (but also haven’t put a lot of effort into it).

So I was excited when I got a message and started chatting with someone about two weeks ago.  He’s about my age and just moved to Portland as well.  We started talking and eventually started trading emails via personal email accounts.

He had been born in Portland but had moved to Africa with an aunt when he was small because his mother had died and father was quite busy.  He had attended British schools there and went to university in England.  He had recently moved to Portland because his father had passed away and he was taking over his father’s business.  Oh and he was in Africa at the moment because his aunt, with whom he was very close, was sick.

OK, sad story but we all have sad stories.  We had been emailing twice a day for about two weeks when he said he was going to be coming back to the states and would I like to chat via phone.  I said great, let me know when you get back to Portland and I will send you my number.  The next email I got was that he was trying to book his ticket back which he was under pressure to do because of something with his father’s business but that because of the holidays, ticket prices were quite high.  Oh and would I mind lending him some money for the plane ticket.

Uh, what?!  The crazier part of this is I was sitting with some friends and telling them about talking with this guy and my friend made a comment that he was probably some African scammer trying to get money.  I laughed and went to check to see if he had written.  Yeah, he had been asking me for money while she made the comment!

So I responded immediately: so it was nice talking to you but I think it’s better if we no longer communicate.  Yes, I should have just deleted it but I felt the need for closure.  He responded immediately saying: So that is what you want now?  Just because I need your help or what?  I responded with: Not into playing games and really not into giving money to people I’ve never met.

His final email: “Oh I’m really sorry about that . I asked for your help because I am free and comfortable talking to you about anything. I have been 100% honest and open to you about my family and everything so don’t think less and negative of me now just because I need your help.

Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you can help them and just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean you can’t help them. You can help a complete stranger if God planned that route for you. So open your heart to strangers more often, you never know when God will throw that pass at you.
 
I thought we had something good going but if you really don’t want to talk to me anymore then it’s fine. I wont bother you again”
Well I think God did not plan for me to be a sucker!
I immediately went online and flagged his profile as inappropriate and happen to have a friend who works at this dating site and I forwarded the email chain.  She also flagged it internally.
So. . . there’s my dating fail of the week!

Reflections

Simba

This week has not been an easy week.  My grandmother was hospitalized Monday night (she’s home and doing much better) but most of the week was spent with her in the hospital.  Then on Tuesday I had to put down my dear kitty, the one stable man in my life for the last twelve years.  It’s weird.  I keep hearing his meowing in the house and keep expecting to see him jump out when I come into the room.

One of my current jobs right now (one of six part time jobs!) is caring for my grandmother.  She is 90 years old and has lived with my parents for the past four years.  She is originally from Italy, came to America around 1948.  She suffers from vascular dementia so memory, including English as a third language, is often difficult for her.  But she’s a fighter and every time we think she’s not doing great, she rallies.  Although taking care of her is a lot of work, I can’t imagine not being here to do it.

Anyway, not sure what else to say right now but wanted to let you know I’m still out here somewhere.

Moving and Creating Community

oregon_heart

My chosen state

I’ve moved a bit in my life-I moved to Israel when I was thirteen from Portland and then we moved back to Oregon but not quite back to the area we started in–new school district, new friends and a lot of my friends had graduated high school by the time we came back.  It took me a few attempts to really find the college that suited me–I tried two before I finally found the right one.  I then moved to Los Angeles for graduate school and back to Portland for my first job and then New York for three years before coming back to Portland.

Through all these moves, I’ve realized that I love Oregon and I love Portland.  It’s the city that I keep finding myself drawn to.  In all honesty, I could move to anywhere in the world but I decided I wanted to move back to Portland and for this to be the place where I create my life.

Something I’ve noticed with every move is how hard it is to create community.  When you are young and in high school and college, your community is created for you.  School is a community that becomes a very essential part of your life.  The older you get and as you enter the workforce, that changes.  Work environments tend not to be the place where people create deep, lasting friendships.  Most people have families and commitments outside of work and you are working with a whole range of ages.

So where does this leave the new person coming or returning to town?  I have always been very active in my religious community, every job I’ve had have been with non-profits affiliated with my religion and I’ve tried to create a social life around that as well.  I am struggling this time.  Three of my jobs are currently within that community but I feel isolated from the community.  I was in a situation recently, through one of my jobs, where we were talking about outreach and trying to include those in our religion who may not feel connected and the comment was raised that I don’t need outreach to.  I would disagree.  Yes, I work in the community.  Yes, my parents are involved in the community.  But more and more I am finding my social connections outside this group and it’s a new thing for me.

This isn’t a post complaining per se, it’s just putting out there some feelings I’m having lately.  One of the things in my life that is very important to me is marrying and having kids.  Did I ever think at 31 I would still be single with no prospects?  Nope, I always kind of thought I would be married before I was 27.  I’m not sure what happened there and I’m not sure I particularly feel 31.  But here I am.  And I’m finding my own community is making difficult, purposely or not, to seek a mate within the community.

I know one of the biggest things I can do to help myself is to put myself out there.  So, this is what I’m doing.  I’m currently registered on three dating sites and I’m trying to get out and be active and social.  The only way I can meet people is by pushing my own boundaries and putting myself into more social situations.

Any advice out there?  Anyone else struggling with similar issues?  Have you moved after school and found it difficult to connect with a community?

A Brand New Beginning

Well . . . it’s here!  For those of you who have wondered what the heck happened to me, it’s been quite a few months.  As you know, I moved from New York to Oregon in June.  I spent most of the summer taking care of my 90-year old grandmother and working at my parents yogurt shop.

Then in mid-August, I had urgent gall bladder surgery and then had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me.  The reaction was a two week ordeal where I was covered in hives and parts of me looked burned.  During that time I also interviewed and was hired for three part time positions, whew!

in September I began all three positions (one is 20 hours a week, one 20 hours a month and the third is teaching six hours in a supplementary program).  On top of that, I’m still taking care of my grandmother and working at my parents shop sporadically.

Only two weeks after this, we left on a FABULOUS family vacation in honor of my sister’s graduation.  We cruised from Ensenada, Mexico to Hawaii and then island hopped to three different islands.  It was my first visit to Hawaii and I promise I will be posting lots about that this month.

We returned Friday and I have immediately jumped back into life and work!  On top of that, I have rebranded!  While I loved the name Chutzpanit (which is someone with a lot of chutzpah or spunk) what I realized is not many people could pronounce it!  So after spending weeks and months thinking about new names, I settled on Rainy Days and Rubber Ducks–Rainy Days in honor of the Pacific Northwest and the rain that brings us the beautiful green and Rubber Ducks-something I started collecting in high school and then ended up going to University of Oregon where the mascot is the ducks!

So, thanks to Amanda (check out her blog: Living in Another Language) who lived in Portland for awhile! and her design company: The Suitcase Designs, I’m all set up in this new fancy site!  I have to say, it was an absolute delight to work with her and I recommend her for anyone’s redesign!

For those of you who were following me via email, you will have to re-sign up on the new site, but I hope you will!  In the meantime, my plan is to start by blogging three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays and go from there.  Get ready for some awesome stuff including lots on Portland and my new passion, Pinterest, as well as more Foodie Fridays and fantastic stuff On My Bookshelf!

Thanks for being a part of my new beginning!

Go big or go home

I so thought I was on the mend last week. Ha was I wrong! In short, I was admitted to the hospital Thursday night and it turns out on top of the stomach bug, I had gallstones.

So Friday I got my gallbladder out and then promptly started having a reaction that was first diagnosed as an infection but turns out was a reaction to antibiotics. So I ended up in the hospital until Sunday and was back in the ER Tuesday night with this horrible reaction.

Now I look like a pariah, having never been one to have problems with my skin, I now somewhat understand teen acne except it is all over my body.

So I’m taking a breather until I get figured out.

Also I’m looking to redesign my blog, I have a new logo and a new name-let me know if you know an awesome blog designer! Thanks!

Pride and the Right to Marry

Danitpride

 

This is my little sister.  I blogged about her last month when I went to Los Angeles for her college graduation.  I think my sister is absolutely one of the bravest people I know.  She’s also just a pretty darned awesome person and I’m lucky to have her as my sister.

When she was a senior in high school she called me one night in November.  I was living in LA at the time working on a master’s degree.  It was about ten o’clock at night and I was watching television with the bestie who was my roommate then and my boyfriend at the time.

She was so excited to tell me. . . that she was gay.  My response?  Yeah, I know.  Very anticlimactic and she still tells people about that when she talks about it.  She was so excited that I was the first person in the family she was telling and then I totally stole her thunder.

In all honesty, I think I’d always sensed, from the time she was in kindergarten, that she was gay.  But it was never a big deal in my book.  I used to kid that there was something in the water in my elementary or middle school because I seriously knew about ten people who came out to me in high school, including a somewhat middle school boyfriend, womp womp.

My second year of college I met a guy in my Shakespeare class.  He and I instantly developed an amazing camaraderie and I was somewhat interested in him.  It turns out he was married.  Also, in the middle of the quarter, he turned up to class with a black eye.  I was shocked and asked him what had happened.  He had come out to his wife (mother of his twin boys) the night before.  This dear friend of mine shared with me a little bit of his story.  He had sensed in high school that he was gay, but being from a small town in the Northwest and from a Christian family, when he told his father about it, his father told him to forget about it.  He then became involved with the woman he ended up marrying.

He was a few years older than I and a returning college student.  He eventually came out to his family, moved out of the small town and into Portland where he began seeing men seriously.  In so many ways he was happy and true to himself.

In 2004, in the midst of the Bush/Kerry election, Oregon was also voting on same sex marriage.  I was in a Family and Human Services program at University of Oregon and the people in my cohort were from a variety of walks of lives.  There were several in my close group of friends who were in same sex relationships.  It was a devastating blow to so many people I cared about when same-sex marriage was knocked off the tables in Oregon.

Over the last nearly decade I have watched as several different states have legalized gay marriage.  I have also watched as many states stood firmly against it.  The votes that took place yesterday in the Supreme Court: knocking down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

“Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. He was supported by four more liberal colleagues: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. (link).

The second was the Supreme Court dismissing the appeal for Proposition 8 in California.  This basically says that “private parties do not have any “standing” to defend California’s voter-approved ballot measure banning gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock” (link)

I think my cousin’s Facebook status said it best: Sasha looked at me like I was crazy when I explained why I was watching tv this morning. “But Johnny and Collette’s mommies are already married and equal.” I started to explain and then stopped: her world won’t include gay marriage. It’ll just be marriage.

Sasha is three years old right now and I hope that she will see the day when everyone, including her amazing cousin Danit and all my wonderful friends who are in same sex relationships can marry legally just like myself and other heterosexual couples.

I am so excited about these huge accomplishments in the U.S. justice system and can’t wait to see where they go.  

 

From East to West with a dad and a cat

I have been back in Oregon two weeks tomorrow and I’m adjusting back into what life is here.  I’m sorry I’ve been somewhat absent.

So on June 1st I left New York and began driving to Portland.  Let me start by saying that my father is absolutely amazing.  With less than a month notice, he booked a flight, a car and took time off work to drive with me from Brooklyn to Portland.  It took five days and we hauled butt!

Here are some pics of our trip and the highlights:

Goodbye New York

 

Driving from Brooklyn through Manhattan–it was a good three year run!

Traffic Jam in New Jersey

 

Not a great start–three miles in 2.5 hours–a horrible accident in New Jersey.

Amish in Ohio

 

A horse and buggy in Ohio.

Dinner in Wisconsin

Dinner in Wisconsin

the one big city we drove through in the entire country--Chicago

the one big city we drove through in the entire country–Chicago

The Cat in Minnesota

The Cat in Minnesota

Driving Dad

Driving Dad

A Bull

A Bull

 

Me and my cute hat

Me and my cute hat

Dad's favorite restaurant

Dad’s favorite restaurant

Dad in South Dakota

Dad in South Dakota

Exit to Wall Drugs

Exit to Wall Drugs

Me at Wall Drugs

Me at Wall Drugs

Dad at Mount Rushmore

Dad at Mount Rushmore

Beautiful Mount Rushmore

Beautiful Mount Rushmore

Father and Daughter at Rushmore

Father and Daughter at Rushmore

Cutie Kitty
Cutie Kitty
Wyoming Breakfast

Wyoming Breakfast

Pistol Wall

Pistol Wall

Pistol Pete's

Pistol Pete’s

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Tri Cities

Tri Cities

First sign to Portland!

First sign to Portland!

Beautiful Mount Hood

Beautiful Mount Hood

Initially I was slightly nervous about traveling over 3,200 miles in a vehicle with 7 boxes, 5 suitcases, 6 pictures, a cat and my father but I was pleasantly surprised.  My father was an amazing travel partner (even if he did only let me drive two hours the entire trip!)

Driving is also a super unique way of seeing the country-one that I never realized how much fun it is.  I will definitely always remember this time with my dad as a truly special time and I really will always appreciate what he did to help me!

Breakdown of the trip according to my father’s facebook page:

Day 1: Brooklyn, New York – Cranberry, Pennsylvania (420 miles)
• States: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
• 2 ½ hour delay in NJ due to traffic accident

Day 2: Cranberry, Pennsylvania – Tomah, Wisconsin (695 miles)
• States: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin
• Some traffic jamming in Chicago

Day 3: Tomah, Wisconsin – Gillette, Wyoming (895 miles)
• States: Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming
• Wall Drugs, Mt. Rushmore

Day 4: Gillette, Wyoming – Richland, Washington (946 miles)
• States: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington

Day 5: Richland, Washington – Beaverton, Oregon (244 miles)
• States: Washington, Oregon
• Lunch w/Nora & Danit

Thanks, dad for being an awesome dad!!!!

 

Flying Out West

So generally speaking I like to do a Foodie Friday post on Friday but this is a special occasion!  My baby sister is graduating college this weekend!  I am the oldest of three kids and my sister is the baby of the family, we have a brother in the middle-three years younger than me and five years older than my sister.  I’m sure I’ll write more about the rest of my family later but today I’m going to write about my sister!

Danit is eight years younger than me and has always been one of my favorite people in the world!  I remember the moment my parents told me they were having another child and I remember when she was born and every moment in between!  I know I have pictures from when we were younger but at the moment they are in boxes and scattered all around so instead I have pictures from probably the last ten years or so.

Danit and Rachel

The weekend of Danit’s Bat Mitzvah-nine and a half years ago.

Although it’s been about ten years since we’ve lived in the same city at the same time, we still talk on the phone and text every single day.  We did spend three summers at camp together, two of which sharing a room-now that is an experience!  But I think we made a pretty good team!

Danit and Rachel

The picture on the top left is us at the Oregon Coast in 2005 I believe.  Below that is Hanukkah 2005 and below that is my college graduation tea party in 2006.  The top right is Danit’s visit to New York in 2010 when we did a tour of the village and were outside Murray’s Cheese.  The bottom picture is from a family cruise in 2006 (and we are soon to be going on another one!)

Danit and Rachel 2

Top left is us at camp one summer, top right is at Avenue Q in 2010 in New York.  Bottom left is me and her at my MAeD ceremony–same school she’s graduating from!  And the bottom right is us on the family cruise at the safety drill.

She is graduating with her BA in Psychology and planning to stay in LA for the next exciting venture.  Right now she’s very interested in stage management and has been working on a lot of plays in the area.  I am super proud of her and so honored to call her not only my little sister but one of my closest friends!

I will definitely post about the weekend next week but for now, I am flying out west!

Big News and Life Changes


heart-in-oregon-sticker--19105-456z

I have been living in New York for nearly three years now.  I have only lived on the West Coast, born in Los Angeles, raised in Portland, Oregon (minus four years in Jerusalem during high school) then back to Oregon and California for college and graduate school.  Three years ago I was the Associate Director of an overnight camp which I loved but I had always had a desire to spend some time in New York.  It was a good time, my bestie, Jen had just moved here for work and I felt better knowing that I had a support system here.

I also knew that if I didn’t do it then, the likelihood was that it wasn’t going to happen.  So I found a job and moved out here in August of 2010.  I always came with the mindset that it would work for as long as it worked and then I would figure out the next step.  About a year and a half ago, I switched jobs and became the director of a day camp-a good step for someone who loves camping.

Unfortunately this job was not the dream I thought it was and this week I had to make a very difficult decision and I gave my notice effective May 31st.  This completely turned everything into a tailspin and has pushed me to make the decision to move back to Portland.  I am very excited about this move and although I am sad that this is how things are ending with this camp and this workplace, I feel a sense of relief and a feeling that a burden has been lifted.

So, my time in NYC is ending and my time in Portland is restarting.  I am so lucky to have amazing parents who support me in everything that I do and are helping me as I start this new endeavor in my life.  I have no idea where my next steps will take me but I look forward to finding it out and definitely spending more time on my blog and exploring life!