Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Girl lemme see ya drip sweat

The StairMaster™ is so difficult. Seriously. I tapped out after five minutes. I believe if I can work my way up to 30 minutes on the StairMaster™ by the end of the semester, I will know that I can survive Teach for America, because the stair climbing is just that fucking hard.*

So basically, my point is that I have gotten back into exercising more consistently which is good. But my legs have been sore pretty much consistently for the past week and a half, which is not as good, because my house has a lot of very steep stairs. IT ALL COMES BACK TO THOSE PINCHE STAIRS.

*This is totally a valid and appropriate comparison, that between mastering the art of teaching underprivileged children in two years and continually climbing up an infinite stair machine. I should win a Simile Award® for that.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I just keep telling myself, I can do it; this is my last semester.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Como se dice 'get your nails did' en español

A conversation with my six-year-old niece on the subject of Spanish grammar:

"Mi mama pinta mis uñas."

"Mi mama me pinta las uñas."

"...I don't even know what you're saying right now."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

California dreamin' on such a winter's day

This whole winter break, the weather here in Los Angeles has been beautiful. Like, 75 degrees or warmer every day, sun is out, sky is blue, etc, etc. I've gone to the beach, like, five times. Well, I haven't gone swimming, because the water is still fucking freezing. But just hanging out in the sand, lying in the sun! Wonderful.

Just to think that last year, it was cold and raining in LA all winter break, and I was in southern Mexico, at a beach much hotter with water much warmer. Even though it's not that kind of beach weather, I'm glad it still feels like summer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home of the free

My friends have planned a trip to Vegas this weekend, which I was going to attend but last week decided not to because of my chronic* illness over winter break. I thought it best to take it easy.

So even though I told my grandmother, like, a week ago, that I wasn't going to Vegas anymore, she asked me if I was going again when she called today. Um, nope, still not going. Was it because I didn't like the people I'd be going with?, she asked. Um, what the fuck? I don't know where she gets ideas like these.

Anyway, all her talk of Vegas gets her started on the times she's been to Vegas. And she mentions she does like how when you come in to Vegas, you see a replica of the Statue of Liberty. And of course, she's explaining this to me like I don't know that it's there. Which I do. Because I have been to Vegas before.** And she doesn't like this fake Lady Liberty because she thinks it's insulting because the real statue is so important and symbolized such hope for people.

"Yes, Bubie," I rolled my eyes because, whatever, she can't see me anyway. "The hope to make a long, arduous ocean voyage only to be sent back if you had a cold. Or the hope to get in and be forced to live in a slum and endure hardship and racial oppression."

She didn't really seem to take notice of what I was saying. "Let me tell you, when I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time..."

My grandmother arrived in the US in 1956, two years after Ellis Island had closed. "You did not see the Statue of Liberty as you were coming into New York," I reply. "You were on a plane."

My mother, who is sitting next to me eating dinner, is trying hard but failing not to laugh as I inform her in a whisper to what her mother is saying that she can't hear. My grandmother continues to insist that a Vegas replica is an insult to the special embodiment of American values that the statue holds for immigrants.

I think this is the fundamental difference between me and my grandmother: even after over 60 years in this country, she still believes in that immigrant dream of the Land of Opportunity, and I suppose she should, because that dream has been true for her. After all the shit she went through in pre-war Poland and then the Holocaust, a country where (almost) no one has stigmatized her for being Jewish and where her family was economically successful with only one breadwinner (my grandfather) must seem like a bloody miracle. But for me, even though I am a middle-class white person, that dream is not what I study or see. I see a world where my LGBT client from Mexico can't get political asylum because he saw a lawyer about the process in 2009 and now it's been over his 1-year time limit. I see a country, both past and present, so mired with racism and xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric that it makes me want to cry. I grew up in a household with two working parents because my mother could not not work. I don't know if she simply refuses to see this, but I doubt it. This country, after all, gave her pretty much everything the Statue of Liberty promised. Why should she believe me? I'm just some pretentious, spoiled, 20-something, not-even-college-graduated kid who has never even been to New York City, much less battled her way through anti-Semitic Poland and Hitler's Germany to finally make it to the promised land*** and see that green woman holding the flame of liberty and the book of freedom**** and finally felt sure that everything was going to be okay.

"You know what Bubie? I think you're wrong. I think taking an overinflated and arguably false symbol of the supposed freedom and opportunity of America and making a sized-down, less impressive replica for a greedy commercial exploitation is the definition of the American Dream."

*not really chronic, just like, lightly persistent?
**I was 10, but believe me, the fake Statue of Liberty was one of the few things I could enjoy, so I fucking remember it.
***Actually, my grandmother moved to Israel first, which is technically the "Promised Land", but whatever, I'm going to stop mixing my metaphors here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friends without benefits

Taking my grandmother and her friend to lunch is like babysitting two petulant children.

They are both 90 years old, but for some reason they bicker like 12-year-olds. They have known each other their whole lives, which is no fucking joke. They are from the same town in Poland. They were both in Auschwitz then Berlin then Sweden together. They now live 5 blocks away from each other in West LA, where all little old Jewish ladies live. Essentially, they are more friends out of obligation and habit than anything else.

Whenever I take them to lunch, especially if my parents aren't around, all they do is passively aggressively snipe at each other, which eventually turns into yelling at each other in Polish. (I don't actually know Polish, but I'm assuming once it gets to that stage they have stopped being passive aggressive and are just letting it rip.) The minute I drop her friend off, my grandmother just goes off on her, how she pretends to be more sick than she is, how she thinks she's better than everyone else, etc. She rants off how she will purposely not invited her out to lunch, only comes to events at Cafe Europa if it's free tickets for the opera, whatever. I don't know. The same laundry list of things she is constantly complaining about this fried.

So I say, "Well then, why are you still friends with her? You don't actually owe her anything. She's not really family."

"You wouldn't understand," my bubie tells me.

Of course not.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's 2012, dawg

Last night Brandon told me that he had a dream that we were dating. I ONLY WISH. Brandon is super handsome and smart. My mother even has a crush on him. He said, "Yeah, it was really weird 'cause it was like, 'I'm gay, but I am super into Arielle!'" Don't play with mah heart, Brandon.

Also, Brandon found out that if you slap Elliot on the ass, he will give you a massage. And Elliot gives really good massages.

Maureen's latest boycrush sent her a text after midnight that said "Happy new ear", which I think is an appropriate way of thinking about 2012.

Goodbye, 2011! Your DJ Earworm Top Hits Mashup was pretty good!