Free Leaf

"Don't gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold..."

Location: Falls Church, Virginia, United States

I have a lot more questions than answers, but I just keep asking. I constantly want to leave, but somehow manage to stay. I am both perfectly happy and completely miserable because of it. I think I am misunderstood but that could just be a huge misunderstanding, either way I guess the best way to put it is, "I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong."


Mikey's Birthday dinner

One of my many former college roommates, who recently graduated from law school, got married and moved to DC turned 27 last week. For his brithday his wife tried to put something together for him, being new to the area she only had limited ideas of places to go for dinner and afterwards. That didn't stop one of our friends from rudely offering up selfish alternatives to her chosen destination. Thankfully, this other friend and his wife decided not to join us.

The plan for the night was simple, get to a restaurant around 8, eat and then head down the street to check out some bars. Easy enough except for the restaurant being packed, we had a two hour wait for our table, had to shove our way to the bar and then we end up getting sat 15 people to a 12 person table right by the kitchen. If this were my family I would have offered the waiter a valium but everyone in our party handled it really well and had a good time. The restaurant, Lauriol Plaza, is known for their frozen swirled Margaritas which looked really good but I can't drink tequila so I will take everyone elses word for it. What I can say is that the food was amazing, I had Pollo en Salsa madeira, which is a breaded chicken cutlet with really sweet salsa on top of mashed potatos. One thing you need to know is that my idea of good mexican food is Taco Bell, the normally higher end stuff I can't stand so I was pleasantly surprised by how good my meal was. Everyone else seemed very satisfied with their meals and eager to continue the night at the bar.

After paying the bill, which was quite an ordeal given the amount of people, we decided to walk up the block to Adam's Morgan. It was cold and windy and since I had lost my favorite beanie my poor shaved head felt like an ice cube by the time we got to the bar we were going to. We passed on a few places before deciding to go into a bar called The Brass Monkey, it is a decent bar but more of a college crowd that was just way to crowded and hot. We had a few drinks, bumped into a few people we knew and then took off for a new destination. On the way out we caught a verse of Thriller which made me want to stay but a few people had already made there way to Maggie Moos for ice cream. Keeping 15 people all together is quite a challenge but we managed pretty well and eventually met up with 10 more people at Meze, one of those dark loungy type places with over priced drinks. This place thinks so highly of itself they have a curtain blocking the view from the door. But inside it was nothing special, the crowd was more age appropriate than Brass Monkey and much better for conversation, plus the Mojitos were really good. The night was very chill and I think Mike really appreciated it, I would have said it was a perfect night if not for Mike's wife begging me not to move. This makes two weeks in a row that I have been pulled aside and told to stay in the area, don't they understand it's not easy to leave but it is something I have to do?

Happy Birthday Mike, I promise to hang out as much as possible before I move.

Interesting factoid

Found this little tidbit last night while I was going through some websites:
The University of Florida is tied with the University of Maryland for the second highest enrollment of Jewish students at 5,400 each. Not so shockingly in first place is New York University with 6,400 Jewish students.

Amazingly, with all those Jews I still managed to date a girl whose grandfather was a baptist minister. Southern girls are nothing but trouble.

New posts every Sunday and Thursday

Instead of worrying about posting sporadically I am scheduling time to post new things ever Sunday and Thursday. This way the people that I know check here often to only find nothing new will not have to waste time and I will have a set schedule to keep me honest. So, check back on Sundays and Thursdays for new posts from me. Thursdays probably early while I have no idea what time I will get around to posting on Sunday since there is about a 98% chance I will be hungover the best I can offer is getting something up before Grey's Anatomy starts. Thanks to all of you who read and talk to me about it later and inspire me to put my thoughts on the page.


My Routine has become my prison

I keep telling myself that I should be writing more, I have a lot to say I tell myself. But everyday I seem to find other things to do, none of it important at all. Here is a look at the days since I last wrote:

Sunday – Did not leave the house all day. It was cold out and really had nothing to do so I stayed inside and relaxed. My roommates and I watched the Daytona 500, then the NBA All-star game, and finished up the night with Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s I had to watch by myself since my other male roommates think it’s a girl show and I can not convince them how good it is.

Monday – Back to work, no holiday for me. Its kind of odd that I don’t get the holiday off since my clients do and we basically have nothing to work on. Anyway, I went back to my normal workday routine: Wake up between 8 and 9, turn on computer, sign in to work’s virtual private network and check morning emails while making breakfast. During breakfast I usually have 2-3 cups of coffee and read online newspapers. Actually I have a whole list of websites I hit every morning including blogs, sports message boards and other informative sources. After all that fun I usually talk to some coworkers online before having a protein shake and going to the gym, occasionally stop at the grocery store since its on the way home, then eat again and take a shower. After that I have killed a large part of my day and then begin wrapping up anything I need to do for work. After work I usually make something for dinner and try to think of something to do to kill time until I am tired again. That’s it, and it’s like that every single day. Someone put me out of my misery.

Tuesday – Same as Monday, different workout, nothing on TV. Actually on Tuesday I decided to put together a bag of clothes to donate. I need to make another one before I drop my stuff off. Also, I am not really sure who is worthy of my old clothes, any suggestions?

Wednesday – You guessed it more of the same, but I did finish reading the Rule of Four which was a very good book for a first effort. I never really understood how two people could write a book together without leaving telling points of where there was a switch, but these two best friends really pulled it off. I recommend it to just about anyone who likes adventures, or puzzles similar to DaVinci Code.

Thursday – Today, more of the same, only difference today I decided to write about it.

As you can see my routine has really become more of a prison. I feel like a skipping record that can’t break out of its loop. In a town with so many friends I really feel like there should be more going on. Unfortunately, I just don’t have an answer to why there is such a lack of activity. There is no excuse for it, but I still can not find a way to change it here. It is possible that my time in DC has already defined itself and no matter what I try to change that I can not change the nature of the beast I have created for myself here. Something drastic would have to happen to keep me hear at this point, so friends open your homes, I may be homeless for a little while which to me sounds like the greatest idea I have ever had. I am sure I will regret that soon enough but at least it will break me out of my routine, my prison.


Feels like zero

After having a week a beautiful weather the cold stuff returned to Virginia. Between the cold and feeling tired all day no matter how much sleep I had the night before I was facing the day with very little motivation. I still somehow found enough to get my lazy butt to the gym. After getting there I really got in gear and put together a great workout. I am one of those sick people who loves lifting on leg day; the most dreaded day for most people has become my favorite. I have gone through many favorites in the ten years or so I have been lifting seriously, I started with Chest, and then fell in love with shoulders for a while, now its legs. Lifting so heavy on leg day has been causing some problems of late though, first of all its near impossible to buy jeans that fit since my thighs are too big, secondly when I workout legs it sends my metabolism through the roof and I can literally eat non-stop the rest of the day.

The only thing that actually got me to stop eating yesterday was drinking. As has become a Saturday night tradition my roommates and I decided to go out despite the weather. Also, another tradition we have kept is missing the train by one minute and ending up waiting outside in the cold for 20 minutes before ending up on a car with some annoying, drunk college kids. Last night was the first time I really started to think of them as kids, but when you see one girl so drunk she is laying on the floor and another one showing her thong to everyone while licking a pole you know they are definitely children. After that eventful metro ride we got to the bar where we would be meeting a bunch of our friends. Clarendon Grill had an awesome band playing (Lauralea and Tripp Fabulous) the lead singer had one of the widest ranges I had ever heard live, covering songs from all sorts of genres. All in all a really good scene, decent drink prices and good friends, although one of our friends decided that staying in to watch the Powerball drawing was more important than coming out. He didn'’t win by the way; the winning ticket was sold in Nebraska.

At the end of the night we left the bar with a relatively reasonable bar tab of $160, some serious munchies and freezing temperatures awaiting us. We said our goodbyes, grabbed our coats, then headed back to the metro, where one of my roommates thought it would be a good idea to relieve himself on the platform, I am not sure if anyone saw because I was too busy calling people to tell them how ridiculous the situation had gotten. After catching our train we actually got off two stops early to run off the train and grab food and use a civilized restroom before getting back on and finally coming home. The food from 7-11 was nowhere near enough to satisfy us so we decided to cook everything in the freezer at 3 am. The list was a good one although I am disgusted by it:

3 Totino's Pizzas (2 pepperoni, 1 cheese)

3 Corndogs

½ a pan of French fries

½ a pan of Tater tots

as well as a few more beers.

After all that I put on some Sealab and went to bed. At the end of the night it felt like zero outside but I felt like a million bucks(or if you prefer a million crispy chicken nuggets) when I hit my bed.


Two more towns enter the sweepstakes

to be my next place of residence. Per email correspondence today Seattle and Philadelphia are now possible stops on the windy road that is my journey. Never been to either but I will give anything a shot for a little while, its not like I have to stay there forever. Actually, I seriously doubt wherever I go next will be the last stop so why not try it out.

In other news:
  • We sold our TV. I am very sad but happy at the same time. Goodbye HDTV, goodbye DVR, you were good to me. I am sure I will go through withdrawals but in the end I know it is for the best.
  • As of today I will be in Columbia, SC for 10 days in March, around St. Patricks Day, that should be fun.
  • And I am planning on riding rollercoasters this May. So, no matter where I end up living in April I will be taking a roadtrip to a theme park. If its East coast we are going to Cedar Point. Not sure where I would go on the West coast.
I guess thats it for today. Have a good weekend everyone, I wont be back on the computer until Sunday.


Snowy Saturday

So these pics are a few days late but it was a long weekend and a busy Monday. It started snowing here early on Saturday and didnt stop until early Sunday morning. Now, we only got half or less than that of what NY and MA got so I am really not complaining. But, shovelling snow does make me long for San Diego weather.

This pic was taken late Saturday night looking out our front door.

This is a nice shot of the bench at our front door. Anyone want a seat?

More pics from Saturday night in front of our house. Those are cars to the left.
Back yard. This pic was taken from our main floor looking at the other town houses behind us.
Backyard 2. If I didnt have to dig my car out this almost looks worth it.
Shoveling snow is not fun. Cleaning off your SUV isnt either.
But having 4 wheel drive is so worth it.

The snow is slowly turning into gross, dirty slush and melting away. I am still trying to figure out what is going on. It is a very stressful time right now. The weekend was a nice escape from the constant anxiety of not knowing what happens next. California, New York, Florida, stay here? I really dont know what I want to do, dont know what I can realistically do and what in the end will be the best decision. This reminds me of the time I was one semester from graduating college and I decided instead of finishing over the summer I should go work at a sleep away camp. I totally regretted the decision after I made it, but then it ended up working out amazingly. That summer was amazing, as was the following Fall that I spent in school. So, I know no matter what I decide things will work out, I just need to make a plan and go for it.


More from the vault

I have a lot of things to go through but last night I came across something pretty interesting. Unlike the quotes I know exactly why I kept this little piece of paper. When I left Israel my teacher there gave me a list of things to do, movies to watch, books to read, and places to follow Israeli current events. While I have been good at doing some things I have completely neglected others. I will definitely keep this list but in case anyone wants to check out some of the books I am going to get to work on reading, here is the list my teacher gave me along with some of my own:

Self Portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu
- Yoni was the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu who died during the raid at Entebbe.
The Source by James Michener
- A huge book that I am trying to finish right now, tells the story of the world through an archeological dig.
My Glorious Brothers by Howard Fast
As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg
The Deed by Gerald Frank
The Abandonment of the Jews by David Wyman
Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary
Mila 18 by Leon Uris
- I have already read this book, it was great, especially for someone with Polish ancestry.
The Revolt by Menachem Begin
Terror out of Zion by J. Bowyer Bell
Forged in Fury by Michael Elkins
O, Jerusalem by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
Genesis 1948 by Dan Kurzman
The Pledge by Leonard Slater
The Heights of Courage by Avigdor Kahalane
Fear No Evil by Natan Sharansky
Heroes of Israel by Chaim Herzog
Letters to an American Jewish friend: A Zionist Polemic by Hillel Halkin
The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel

I know thats a lot of reading which is probably why I havent gotten anywhere near finishing it. But here are a few more that I have read and recommend and would go well with these books.

Exodus by Leon Uris
The Hope and The Glory by Herman Wouk
This is My G-d by Herman Wouk

And a couple of more fictional books:
Damascus Gate by Robert Stone
By the Rivers of Babylon by Nelson DeMille

Wow, I have a lot of reading to get to, good thing I am selling my tv.

On a serious note, the books recommended here come from a teacher who once asked me whether I was a Jewish American or an American Jew. The question basically asks who you are at your core, what is the most defining quality of you as a person, the rest are just adjectives that describe you. Back when I was first asked this it was a hard question to answer, but after many years of searching I realize that at the end of the day what defines me most, more than any other of my associations is that I am Jewish. I dont remember many of my teachers but I will remember this one for the rest of my life.

International Relations for OC fans

I understand that most people dont spend there time watching 24 hour news stations and reading at least 6 international newspapers a day like I do so for anyone interested in a very simple explanation of the global political scene I offer you this from the Yale Daily news. I am pretty sure Rory Gilmore isn't the real editor but it would make sense to use the OC to explain Global Conflict if she were. Enjoy.

Global Conflict, here we cooooooooome


Kerouac quotes and more.

I am still packing and going through old things that I have to decide why I have kept for so long and whether or not I need to bring them with me. I just finished going through a bag of things that I have probably had for 8 years. I found 4 quotes that I actually wrote down on paper, must have been before I owned a computer. Two were from Kerouac books although I am not sure which ones, one I read in a book called Alex: Building a Life about an American who died serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and one was by William Blake. Here they are:

"Most merciful G-d, accept these two poor sinners into your arms. And keep the doors ajar for the coming of the rest of us, because you are witnessing the end, the absolute, irrevocable, fantastic end. I've finally realized what is happening. It is our last fling. We are doomed henceforth. Must screw our courage to the sticking point and face up to our impending fate. We shall be all of us shot at dawn..."

I really have no idea why I wrote down this quote but I guess something must have been coming to an end at the time.

Then there was this one:

""Who played this cruel joke, on bloke after bloke, packing like a rat, across the desert flat?" asked Montant Slim, gesturing to him, the buddy of the men, in this lion's den. "Was it G-d got mad, like the Indian cad, who was only a giver, crooked like the river? Gave you a garden, let it all harden, then comes the flood, and the loss of your blood? Pray tell us, good buddy, and don't make it muddy, who played this trick, on Harry and Dick, and why is so mean this Eternal Scene, just what's the point of this whole joint?"

Again, no idea why I wrote that whole thing down and saved it for so long but I can only assume I was intriqued by the way it posed the question of existence. The other two are much more normal than this. The pics at left are covers of my two favorite Kerouac books although I think the quotes above are from Desolation Angels.

William Blake Quote: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."

I know this quote is at the beginning of a book I read but I can't remember which one. It is also the quote that the Doors took their name from.

And finally the Alex quote: "The key is the balance between living each day as if it were the last day of your life and living each as if you were to live forever."

Its not groundbreaking or revolutionary but when you hear that as a 17 year old kid its pretty epic.

Generation Meds

In my post college life I have realized a few things that are rather disturbing to me. For the most part we are overworked, underpaid and never satisfied. Many of us are in debt; some people I know weren’t ready for life after college and went on to extended baby sitting in whatever graduate degree it was they sought. One of my old college roommates went to law school for three years, which put him into serious debt, then practiced law for less than 6 months before giving up on it. Half of us don’t get jobs that have anything to do with our college degrees and less than that have the credit or the capital to buy property. So, we work long hours at jobs that are less than satisfying where we are hardly appreciated just so we can pay our ways back to even.

All of this has led to an alarming, at least to me, amount of people turning to anxiety meds. Just about everyday I learn of another young friend turning to pills to solve their problems. Now I am no Tom Cruise, I understand there are certain situations where medicine and mental health professionals are a great deal of help. However, what I don’t understand is how it came to be that we 20 something’s became so stressed out, so unhappy and yet so lazy. When people talk to me about being stressed at work or with life’s many other issues I always recommend other means of relieving stress but most people completely ignore my advice and turn straight to pills. They say they don’t have time to join a gym or take a yoga class or pick up a hobby that can take your mind off your problems.

I think it is very sad that we are in the prime of our lives, making more money than our parents did when they were our age and yet we have so many more problems. I think we may just be victims of our own success. We are more connected than ever and yet interact less. For instance, you can reach me at any one of 4 email addresses, 3 screen names, by commenting on this blog(seriously will someone comment), or by calling or texting my cell phone. Anyone in the world who wants to get in touch with me would not have to try too hard to do it and yet my life lacks interaction. But, it’s not just me; many of my friends feel the same way, distant from the rest of their generation, tied to their jobs and less than fulfilling personal lives.

I know what my solution to this is, it may not be for everyone, actually it’s probably not for many but I have never been one to follow the flock. The fact is that this generation is lacking experiences, trading them in for objects. So, my suggestion is to free yourself of the objects that tie you down. Forget the iPods, Plasma TVs and Home Theaters (all of which I have by the way) and experience something. My biggest regret if I ever have one will be spending more of my time worrying about what I can buy than what I can do. So, I am selling the TV and the Home Theater, although I think I will keep the iPod. The less I have to keep me inside the more likely I am to go out and experience the world. I have no more time for the comfortable boring life in the suburban townhouse; give me the city life or the life of the nomad, constantly moving if only to stop feeling trapped. Nothing we own is irreplaceable, your life is not what you own or what car you drive, now is the time to have the experiences that turn into the stories that you tell for the next 50 years. Stop buying more, start doing more.


Friends, Family and another move

Looks like I will be on the move again really soon, I am a little bit surprised I lasted in DC this long. Still, the experience has been a good one and I will have gained a lot from being here. Although, I am currently very stressed out trying to decide where I want to be next and whether that requires a new job or not, regardless a change will be made. So, in the midst of preparing for my imminent move I have begun going through the things I have accumulated while here. It is amazing how much junk can be gathered in a little less than two years. I have already thrown away an entire bag of letters, credit applications, cards, magazines, and countless airline tickets. I have no idea why I keep all this stuff as long as I do. I think sometimes its just human nature to hold onto things for too long, wondering if one day you may need it even though the chances aren’t good. I think sometimes this leads us to do the same in relationships with our Friends and Family. We people can be so persistent, so determined and so stubborn that we rarely give up on things when we should. Now, I am not saying to give up on your family because you only have one, but at a certain point we all need to realize exactly what role we allow them to play in our lives. The same can be said for friendships, although friendships can be a little more disposable than family, we still need to decide how we let other people affect our lives.

I know there aren’t many who share my beliefs on this subject but when I realize I am not getting the reception, respect or treatment from another I feel I deserve I only invest so much of my energy to let that other person see the error of their ways. This means that while I will not entirely give up on someone I will also not let them bring negativity into my life for any longer than I can stand. Some friendships, long or short, must come to and end for whatever reason; mostly they end badly, usually for unknown reasons. But, when you realize that you have given everything you can to make it right has not worked you must stop the bleeding and move on. In the past year I have walked away from two 7 year friendships, which is no easy task trust me, but it was also the best thing to do. Your true friends stand the test of time, true friends survive small fights and respect you, and they also accept you for who you are no matter your flaws. It is very hard to say goodbye to someone on good terms or bad but if they truly care about you your friendship either would not have to come to an end or they will find a way back into your life.

Obviously when disagreements occur within a family it is much more difficult to handle. I think the important thing here is to not continuously try to change the other person but change how you react to them. So many families these days are not perfect, siblings can be so different and resentful of each other. Parents don’t always get along and half the times don’t even like what their children become when they grow up (regardless of the fact they were responsible for raising said child). After a certain point it is not your job to make your mother, father, brother or sister accept you, it is theirs. If they simply can not do that then it is their loss, family relationships don’t need to be perfect but they don’t have to be adversarial either, just be yourself and let you family decide the rest, if they can't accept you then they aren’t worth your time anyway.

Now I think I should go call my sisters. They aren’t perfect and we don’t always get along but I am a better person for having them in my life.