Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It's 4pm, almost 24 hours since I found out that she ended the shidduch. I've been sitting by the phone and I've been checking my e-mail every few minutes all day with the hope that I would get an e-mail or a phone call explaining yesterday's events. Just as I started writing this, I checked my voicemail and I heard a message from my matchmaker. She wanted to let me know that the woman who is housing the girl will be calling me to apologize for this whole situation. My matchmaker was calling me ahead of the other woman so that I would not get disappointed when I heard that her message is that there is no change from yesterday. It seems like everything is over, so I will pick up myself from my depths, pack up, and I will move on.

Reflections on Shidduch

[Edited for her privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

...I feel bad for the state of things, and it has been explained to me that she broke it off not because of the television or the clothing issues, but because she couldn't commit to living a religious life with me.

...There is a limit to how many times a person can violate my trust before I can no longer offer it. There comes a threshold point where my openness and willingness to move forward with a relationship changes from a yes to a no. I do not feel comfortable anymore because I no longer believe that she is the kind of person that can be trusted. The last thing that I would want is a broken enagement, or to make plans for a wedding that wouldn't happen because she backs out. If I thought it could work out then I would give my trust and my love unconditionally, but I don't believe that she is credible anymore.

The last thought about this is that if she told me tomorrow that she made a mistake and that she wanted to continue with me and that she wanted to get engaged to be married, I would not believe her or trust that she was telling me the truth. She lost my trust because last night I gave her my love and she rejected it, and therefore I am heartbroken because along with my trust, she has also lost me.

Monday, May 30, 2005

She Ended It

Well, as exciting as everything has been, I must breathe a sigh and tell you that I just got a phone call that she broke off the shidduch. Apparently all this was too much for her and even with the changes and the adjustments, she could not leave her old life behind.

Breaking Out

I just went shopping for colored shirts. I bought four pairs -- two shades of olive, one lavender, and one light blue. I also purchased matching ties and some moisture-resistant socks. This was a big deal for me because until last night, I was under the impression that Chassidic men do not wear colored clothing because to do so would send out the message that they were somehow less religious. After last night's revelation and fiasco, I decided to break out of my black-and-white pattern of dress.

Integration of Self

[Edited for her privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

I can feel that the old me is beginning to re-surface. I am coming to terms with my religious questions and things are beginning to make sense. For me, the picture below signifies (in likeness to how I used to look, and in my eyes, how I used to see myself) the person I was before I became religious. The fact that those parts of me are beginning to surface once again, but now in a religious form, leads me to believe that I am starting to integrate my past with my present. There is no longer such a disconnect between my life as a religious person and my former life as a secular person; they no longer look so different, and with this new integration, I am still keeping with the Jewish observances and the Chassidic (ultra orthodox) mindsets that highly influence a person's eyes and how that person sees the world. Religion was never meant to limit the person's life, but rather, to enhance it by promoting healthy attitudes and adding nourishing actions to a person's spiritual life (avodah) that would keep his life in order and that would shield him from bad influences. This effect should be true for any religion.

I believe strongly that movies do not belong in a married home because of the influences that come along with the movies. Couples see romantic films and then get depressed at how their perceived boring, uneventful lives are. Movies and television can cause shalom bayis (peaceful home) problems between a man and a woman, especially because most of the women on the movies are beautiful, sexy, lascivious, and have more dripping / oozing sensuality than any normal stable relationship. Plus, I feel that men should simply not be staring or thinking about these beautiful, lascivious, sexy women for hours at a time; it is simply unhealthy for the marriage. The only woman in a man's eyes should be his beautiful wife.

There are also unconscious effects by watching a movie, such as becoming indoctrinated with the message of the writer; after all, most writers have a specific reason and message when they write a movie. This comes through the screen and programs the viewer who is in almost a state of hypnosis throughout the whole movie and is susceptible to any message the writer wants to convey. The images get burned into the viewer's subconscious, and they stay there having their effects long after the movie is over. There are also spiritual effects, specifically because a movie enters through the eyes of the viewer and can affect the soul and can directly influence the person's desires. Maybe more on this another time.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Broken Over a White Shirt

[Edited for her privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

There is a kabalistic thought that when the stars are not in your favor, stay out of fate's way. Don't show your face. Wear a hood, stay at home, anything. Just don't show your face or you'll be attacked by the angels.

Today was one of those days where nothing would go right. I felt it this morning when I woke up. I had a bad feeling all day. I felt it when I picked up the girl I am shidduch dating from the house and brought her to our destination point; I knew something was wrong. I noticed it when my car hit the curb when turning the corner; I'm a very careful driver; this shouldn't have happened. I should have heard her non-emotional answers to my questions about her music when we were in the car. Instead I decided to dig as deep as I can to find out all about her deeper parts; perhaps I would strike oil. Instead, I hit a rock.

At one point when the day at the boardwalk seemed to be going well, she changed and started talking about how she can't be herself with me in my white shirt. To her, it was obvious to the world that we were religious Jews and she felt the pressure to conform to act the way she imagines that religious Jews are supposed to act. Instead, she started a rampage of questions about my clothing, asking me if I wear exclusively white shirts. I told her that I believed that a religious person should dress in black and white and she said that if so, she can not be with me and that I must take her home because she cannot move forward in the relationship.

I tried to speak to her in the car but the more I said, the worse it got. She told me that she didn't think we were going to work out and that she's ending the relationship because she doesn't want to be the cause of me becoming less religious by forcing me to dress in color. She didn't want me resenting her for liking color in a man, and she didn't want to bring me down in my yiddishkeit (religious) observance.

After delaying it as much as I could to try to talk things out, I dropped her off and she ran into the house half in tears. I couldn't figure out what happened. I called my shadchan (matchmaker) and I told her what happened. "What?!? She broke up with you because you thought blue shirts are less Chossidish (modest) than white shirts? Who taught you that?!?" When I answered that it was her husband that told me that, she called him over as if he did something really terrible. I felt bad for getting him in trouble and I hoped that I didn't cause a shalom bayis (peaceful house) problem between them. It turns out that either I misunderstood him or that he gave me overly strict advice thinking that it would be appropriate for me. Nevertheless, I felt deceived, and now I was about to lose the woman I've been dating since before Pesach (Passover)... over a white shirt.

Everybody called everybody to resolve this mess, but there was no resolution. I went over to 770 (the Lubavicher Rebbe's shul) and I was going to write a p"n (pidyon nefesh / letter to the Rebbe bearing of the soul) to ask the Rebbe for guidance to understand what happened and to figure out if there is a resolution. I wrote to him a few days before to tell him about the then current situation where she was having doubts and I wanted a resolution of these doubts. However, what I did NOT want was a break up of this shidduch. I wondered to myself whether this was the result of a physical manifestation of his answer. I tried to console the Rabbi from his embarrassment from not giving me the full picture about how it was also normal to wear colored shirts, and I wondered on what other topics I had been misinformed. I couldn't believe my relationship was going to end because of a lost battle defending a non-existant dogma.

After speaking to the people whom she was staying at, I got the message that she was afraid of altering her life to become over-the-edge religious and that the situation might be hopeless and I might not get a chance to fix this one. I walked downstairs to the basement of 770, and the phone rang. It was the girl. She didn't know why she called, but she nevertheless felt that she needed to.

Thinking about how I was deceived about the necessity of the white shirt, and wondering what else I am overly strict on, I decided to have the opinion of "who am I to judge her or to force her to be something she is not?" I knew she was religious and I knew that she wants to raise a Jewish home. The two quirks are 1) watching movies, and 2) colored clothing. I told her neither was an issue. The goal here is to grow together, not to force her into a situation she is not comfortable with.

After speaking to her for a few minutes, I suggested that we see each other face-to-face. I headed over to the house that she was staying at, and we sat outside drinking apple juice. I told her not to fear about the clothing, and that any issue can be resolved with open communication.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

There is not much of quality to write about yet. I spent hours with my dad on Thursday night trying to figure out logically what was stopping her from moving forward. We had three rules that she told us: 1) it is not a health issue, 2) it will not affect me or our children, and 3) it is not a mental health issue.

After pondering for around 20 minutes, my dad said with a grin, "maybe she has a male organ!" I almost fainted from the thought because it could have fit the criteria she laid out. Other thoughts we came up with on our list were 1) alcoholic abuse, 2) drug abuse, 3) present effects of a past traumatic event. In the end it was none of these, and I was so happy about hearing her bad news that I told her that we should get engaged to be married right away. Unfortunately her head was spinning from our discussion and she told me to ask her another day and without making any promises, she is at the point where she would say yes. I later got the point that she wants me to get down on my knees and to propose rather than just talking objectively about getting engaged. She's a romantic, and I should have known better. Religious world or not, she's still human and she has feelings.

I meet her again tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ordering Chinese Food / Umbrella Use

There was one event that fried my brain for a few seconds, and that was ordering dinner. We went out to Chinese food, and I was going to have my all-time favorite dish, ORANGE FLAVORED BEEF. To me there is nothing like it. She doesn't eat red meat. When ordering, she wanted the Moo Goo Gai Pan, a dish that I find to be absolutely devoid of taste, gooey, and boring.

Immediately my brain fried because I felt a feeling of discomfort in ordering my favorite dish, "red meat", in front of her. Second, this restaurant I took her to was my all-time favorite kosher restaurant in the world, and I have not been there since April of 2003 or 2004. Not realizing this was on my mind, I drove there with the intent to order that dish.

When we got there I sadly opened the menu looking for some tasteless vegetarian dish that would have cost just as much but would have tasted like cooked rubber. Was this to be my future? Is this what it means to bend to your partner's desires? I know this is a sad entry, and the result was that there was a delicious meal because when she mentioned that she found nothing offensive about eating chicken, I found and ordered the orange flavored chicken that was on the menu, which was almost as good [but between you and me not quite as good] as the beef would have been. Even then, she expressed her disinterest in fried foods in general, nevertheless I felt that it would show in my mood if I ordered something tasteless and so I stayed with my less-favored alternative, the chicken. I wasn't disturbed by her blunt opinions regarding foods because she wasn't telling me what to order; I was just interpreting her words as such. I knew in my heart that if she knew how attached I was to that dish, that she would insist that I ate the beef. However, I was satisfied to choose the chicken, a healthier, yet still sugar-laden alternative.

I felt that this could be a lesson, namely that just as there should be a pleasure in religion when someone nullifies their desires to serve their Creator, so too a refined person should be able to find pleasure in nullifying their desires to serve their partner.

I am certainly not that refined and so I nevertheless ordered the dish I wanted, but I did show a slight resemblance to this concept earlier in the day. It was raining pretty heavily and she wanted to open the umbrella. Being the kind person she was (is), she was holding it over both of our heads so that I wouldn't get soaked. In my mind, I seem to remember a Jewish law that said that a man and woman shouldn't go under the same tent (Chupah, in Hebrew) in private with other witnesses until they are married. As silly and remedial as this sounds, I didn't remember if an umbrella can be considered this kind of secluded covering.

So without confronting her with some weird law, I offered to hold the umbrella, and since she had a hood on her cartigan (jacket), she didn't notice that I was holding it over her head only and that I was getting soaked. She also didn't notice that my arm really was hurting me from holding it at that angle. But I felt that it was the right thing to do. Plus, I felt a little bit like the king bee that serves his queen bee. For me it was a quiet romantic gesture that gave me pleasure. So while I still have much to learn when it comes to relationships, it felt good that at least I was able to do something quietly gallant.

Copy of Comment to "The Waiting Game"

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

I felt that Daphnewood's comment to my last post and my response to it deserved its own space and emphasis.

Zoe Strickman said...
Thank you for the feedback. All of what you said is true, even about the colored shirt. Yesterday I wore a maroon sweater and lo and behold, a close friend of my rabbi walked by me, noticed me and the fact that I was on a date, smiled, and continued walking. I didn't die as I thought I would, but the colored sweater will require a slight explanation when I will just happen to see him tonight for the Lag B'Omer campfire.

As for the cow and the milk, I smiled when I read your comment because that was EXACTLY what was on my mind during our date last night. She kept asking me if we could do X, or if I could come over for Y, and I kept saying "when the time is appropriate," meaning when she buys the cow [the idea of us]. It is funny how it is me here that is holding back from allowing the experience to be all that it can be, but I don't want it to be taken for granted that we can date forever. Also, despite my calculated mistake in bringing her out to dinner, I don't want her to think that there is no reason to get engaged because we are doing all the fun things now in the courting stage [although as of now I am having a difficult time distinguishing how the two stages would be different other than emotionally]. I feel that there should be some certainty between us before we start engaging in those kinds of activities. It is only fair, and in my sense of justice, it is only proper. I wouldn't expect anything different from her.

2:24 PM

Daphnewood said...

Not to make light of your situation but it reminds me of my mom saying "no one will buy the cow if it gives out the milk for free". She would say this to try to convince me to stay pure before marriage. How my innocence compared to the buying/selling of a cow still eludes me but it makes me laugh. Anyway, when you said 'it cheapens the experience' it brought it all back to me. You are afraid she won't commit because you're giving the milk for free. (I am just laughing while writing this) Again, I am not trying to make light of your situation. I was just struck by the difference in standards at what constitutes as chastity. To me, you sound like a man in love. Love makes everyone do some crazy things including going out to dinner and wearing colored shirts ;) If that wasn't enough proof the methodical time keeping (i.e. 60 hours together) is a dead giveaway!

The Waiting Game

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]
I had an interesting thought today, namely that it is interesting how life has sorted itself out since I started writing in February. So much has happened in the last 90 days, and now I have a book filled with diary entries. I was in the midst of school; I was over my head; I was sleep deprived. I didn't know where life was heading, and I felt like I was in a barrel heading over the Niagara Falls without oars. I was also questioning my religious identity and I had many questions.

I am now sitting at my desk which has been overrun with papers and books from last semester, empty coffee cups, empty plates, wires, notes, a half empty salsa jar, some mouthwash, a clock that has been flashing 12:00 am for weeks now, an empty bottle of diet soda, and an empty bag of barbecue flavor popcorn. I am looking around my room and my laundry basket has overflown as of weeks ago, and there are both clean and dirty clothes all over the room. My bed is covered in books and suits, and my floors are covered with papers, notes, binders, books, and unopened mail. However, I don't feel bad about any of this because I made it through a time where there were many days I didn't think I was going to make it.

I still have eating problems because I forget to eat, and I still do not have an orderly life yet, and my schedule has been overrun by things that are important, and so the urgent yet not important and non-urgent, non-important mountains of tasks have fallen to the wayside forming such clutter that normally I would think that my life is not in order. But au contraire, I don't think I've ever had it so clear.

I survived my second year of law school. I leave to China in exactly thirteen days for my summer program which should give me career opportunities that will last me a lifetime. I am on good terms with my family and with my friends. I am religiously on track with a clear understanding of where I am holding and where I need to improve. Most of all, I feel like I have a grasp on my life, at least for now.

The shidduch (matchmaking) seems to be going well. I am still with the same girl, and if I have estimated right, we have spent close to sixty hours together just talking and getting to know one another.

In order to quell my mounting anxieties and insecurities why she has not been in lock-step with me when it comes to making decisions about our future, I've been relying on my rabbi's words in which he said, "Don't think that she feels the same way you do. You never know what is going on inside her mind." She confirmed those words as valid last night. With this, I am trying to stay unemotional until I know that she is with me on this one. I could also hear that she was using subtleties in her language last night, many of which eluded me, but nevertheless I could tell from her smile and her pointing out that she was being subtle that so far her thoughts seem to be positive about us.

There is an insecurity in the back of my mind, making me wonder 1) what is not being said and 2) what is stopping her from moving forward? I understand that for many people it simply takes time before they are ready to commit, but in our case we know that there is a specific unsaid obstacle that she has told me is on her mind and is physically stopping her from committing; that obstacle is something that has been in the back of my mind (because I do not know what it is) and it has stopped me from relaxing and from enjoying her completely because I wouldn't feel comfortable falling in love and giving myself completely over to her until** I knew that she was with me on this one.

**[Note: It's appropriate to mention here the difference between how a secular person and a religious person dates. A secular person falls in love; they sometimes live together; they sometimes share in all the activities that people who are married would be privileged to share in. After a period of months or years, they ask the question of whether they are the kind of people who could get married. Often this leads to heartbreak and dysfunctional relationships when one partner believes that the kind of person they would want to marry is different from the person they are with. However, a religious person first finds out if there is compatibility between them for marriage, they get engaged, and then after the engagement, they allow themselves to fall in love and to develop emotions for each other, saving all physical intimacy for after the wedding. I once told this distinction to a female secular friend of mine who was insulted at my comparison; she told me, "not all non-religious people have sex before marriage." So I stand corrected, but the distinction is still valuable to mention.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chassidic Clothing

These are certainly exciting times. We went out tonight again and she was distant because she had a few things on her mind, generally religious issues. These issues include, but are not necessarily limited to 1) she feels that she sticks out in a crowd when she is with me, 2) it is difficult to get used to a man with a long beard, and 3) my black and white dress is very uncolorful. I could do nothing except to be understanding regarding the first two issues because she is right - people straighten up when they see me because they see a tall sophisticated religious man with a neatly tied-up beard in good clothing. In a world of ripped jeans and casual attire I am like olive oil in water.

As for the third issue of black and white clothing, how do I not give in when the arguments she is giving me are the same as my own? It is clear that a when a chassidic man is wearing a colorful shirt, it is likely that either 1) he has a creative wife, or 2) he is somehow lacking in his religiousness. These aren't my dogmas, but sincerely, this is the way it seems to be. She asked me with feeling whether I would be willing to wear more casual clothing, and I couldn't say no because I could feel that it was very important to her. My rabbi once told me that when dealing with a woman, it is important to choose one's battles, and that there are some things are simply are not worth causing resistance over. With the strides on her path to become religious, she still has her secular eyes. Something as silly as a colored shirt shouldn't be a big deal. I could tell you, however, I would die if one of my religious friends or my rabbi saw me in secular clothing.

Nevertheless, I did say that I would bring a sweater with me. I also told her that I was ready to get end our meetings and to get engaged. She told me that she needed a few more meetings before she made her decision. There is something she still wants to tell me. I am frightened about this because I thought that I knew all there was to know which is why we decided that we no longer needed an intermediary (shadchan) to arrange our meetings for us. Suddenly everything has gotten a lot more personal and sensitive and I wonder with anxiety what could be so important (or what could be such a secret) that she is not comfortable moving forward with an engagement until we discuss it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I am Fearful of the Future.

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

I don't know if you realized, but that last diary entry was not about clouds. Today started off as a productive day until I entered my house and all of the energy just drained from my limbs. I could hardly move right now, let alone get myself together to get the visa for my summer China program. I am overwhelmed with the sound of high pitched noises that have given me such a headache that I can barely focus. I know where it is coming from too; my monitors from my dad's security cameras give off a high-pitched noise and so does the satellite TV box. Will anyone please put me out of my misery and explain to me 1) why I hear these, 2) if others can hear this too, and 3) why there is such a strong correlation between when my mood gets depressed and when I enter my father's house -- is it the presence of all these electrical contraptions?!?

I should be jumping for joy from the events of these last few dates but I am more scared than ever. I don't want to ruin such a good thing by my overbearing personality, but by being passive I am coming across as weak and indecisive. I just want what is most convenient for her because my schedule is flexible, and she wants the same for me. The irony is that in our desire to please the other, I am convinced that our scheduled meeting for tonight will have been as inconvenient for her as it is for me. However, I wanted to convey the point of view that I wanted to see her, and then she told me that she was expecting me to take a day off before we see each other again, and when I took her up on the opportunity instead to meet tomorrow, she insisted that we meet tonight, inconveniencing herself so that she can conform to my schedule when really tonight is not that convenient.

My fear is also the opposite. I fear that I will smother her with my attention, but the smothering will be from my getting the impression and acting on the idea that she wants more attention when really it would be too much for her to handle. It is interesting because the message I got yesterday is that she wants this attention, but when I spoke to her today and she wanted the day off my heart sunk because I thought she would be very excited to push our meeting up to tonight instead of tomorrow. The truth is that I am likely making up all this in my head and that she IS very excited about tonight. I am just throwing myself through a loop of self-doubt and self-deception, and I need to focus and clear my mind from this nervous energy.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Unexplained Cloud Experiences

[Edited for her Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

I wonder whether you think I am out of touch with reality based on the e-mails I have been posting lately. I also wonder based on the individual conversations I have had with some of you whether you think this whole topic is my mind playing tricks on my eyes. I have "come out" when it comes to the distortions I have been seeing, and while this may seem non-exciting to you, it has secretly been the driving force behind many of my actions for many years to explain what I have seen and what I have experienced.

I was sitting with my rabbi today learning Kuntres Uma'ayon, which is a hardcore book on Chassidic (mystical) concepts, but from the point of view of understanding spirituality as it relates to one's own attachment to objects and desires of the world. We got into a conversation about how when people do certain acts (mitzvahs), what they do with the act literally transforms the object used to do the action whereas if one imagines that a giant needle injects that object with spiritual goodies, transforming it into something spiritually different, their visualization wouldn't be far from the literal truth as it is described in the Torah. This also works the other way, as we may infect certain objects with impurity and cut it off from its spiritual source by using it in an unholy manner. Same too with speech -- a word is a physical thing comprised of sound waves that are projected from one person and can physically affect other people.

We even discussed radio waves and information traveling through the air via wi-fi and bluetooth internet access, and how they can carry sound waves, and how those waves move literally through us all day long. Sound waves and radio waves are physical things. It would be foolish to think that the messages they contain do not affect us.

What I was trying to bring out from the discussion with the rabbi was whether thoughts are physical just as are sound waves and physical acts. He seems to be of the opinion that thoughts are private and while a person radiates their thoughts through emotions, emotions can be controlled. I agreed with him about the emotions, and how they cause people to possibly create chemicals that are shot out from the body, but I could not agree that one's thoughts are private, especially not after what happened on my shidduch date on Friday morning.

We met on Friday morning. Our random discussions picked up where they left off last time before she told the matchmaker that she was not interested in continuing our meetings. After picking her up at her apartment, I took her to a hotel where the managers hate Jewish individuals like us who come to their hotel and sit there for hours. While we frequent their bars and buy drinks, I can understand their frustration with people who come to sit and talk without staying at their hotel. Anyway, in the middle of our date, we were hiding out in the lobby trying to look like all the other hundreds of business people who were participants in a seminar taking place that day. I was not wearing my black hat, and other than my long beard, we looked like everyone else. In the middle of a conversation about the benefits of putting up psychological barrier to shield a person from getting hurt (she thought it would be a good skill to be able to put up barriers, and I, having many barriers, thought they were a bad idea because they distance me from getting emotionally connected to many experiences), my focus shifted and I suddenly was able to hear everyone's conversation around us, to the detail of each word each person was speaking.

I was able to repeat each person's conversation; one conversation was taking place around 20 feet behind us, and two conversations were around 15 feet to our right. I also heard the footsteps of the hotel worker and the detailed events that were going on in the room. Thinking that she heard these too, I started to repeat word for word what I was hearing (joking around as if we were having the conversation from the couple behind us). I said, "Would you like me to give you my business card?" She looked at me strangely. I smiled, "Perhaps I can fax that to you." She asked me "what are you talking about?!?" When I told her that I was paying attention to all of the conversations in the room and asked her if she was hearing the same thing, she said, "no, I hear only your voice -- I was listening to you." I realized that I must have spaced out for a second, but to my defense, I heard every word she said too.

A few minutes later when the manager asked us to go downstairs if we were going to sit and talk, "we have a place for religious people like you", [I know, it's discriminatory, and from what I learned in Constitutional Law class, they broke the law. It would have been smarter for them to say that they do not allow patrons who are not staying at the hotel to loiter. However, the fact that they made a room for "people like us" was nevertheless a nice act on their part because they could have kicked us out since we weren't staying at their hotel.]

Sitting at the table with my rabbi, I could not accept his point of view that thoughts are private and they are not broadcast outside of the mind of the thinker. We debated this for more than an hour while we were learning Kuntres Uma'ayon. While our discussion led us onto another topic, namely that we do not know where the bridge (in Hebrew, memutzah) is between spirituality and physicality, and how one thing interacts with another thing. I am still of the opinion that thoughts are somehow physical and can have physical effects on other objects and on people. My rabbi believes that thoughts are spiritual.

Lying non-dormant in my mind is my experience, which I have videotaped on many occasions, that a human mind with a certain intent can look at a cloud (ideally a small to mid-sized puffy cloud) and with a thought can make the cloud disappear within a minute. I showed my friends this trick in yeshiva (rabbinical school), and I even spoke to rabbis about it in private. With the exclusion of my select friends in yeshiva who witnessed this on many occasions, my rabbis told me that either I was imagining it or that if I was using magic to accomplish this feat, that I could be doing harm to my soul by using angels to do something silly like melt a cloud.

I learned how to do this by my prior studies in Hawaiian mysticism often referred to as Huna. It was Dave Frederick who explained to me how to melt clouds at a convention in the late nineties, and since then I have been trying to find out exactly how it works. A credible author I found the subject of Huna in general was Max Freedom Long. As with any mysticism, it is important to avoid the space cadets who throw around words they don't understand and cheapen the information by making it mainstream. I entered yeshiva with the intent to figure out what I was doing when I choose one cloud of many and think, "you, disappear" and within minutes, the cloud is gone. This proved to me the existence of the spiritual, and showed me over and over that the conventional philosophies of physicality are incomplete and there is more physical stuff going on than we can understand.

I have not yet figured out how or why this happens, but I know that the mind can exert an influence over a physical object far away from it at will. This is why I became religious, and this is why I have such an interest in brain entrainment through technologies such as Hemisync and Holosync, described supra, in a previous blog entry. I hope you don't think I am nuts for devoting so much of this blog to these topics, but I am searching desperately for an answer, now more than ever.

The thought about how synaesthesia, the overlapping of one sense onto another, can explain why I hear a television turn on hundreds of feet away from me and why I have dark metallic shapes that move through my field of vision at all times. However it does not explain why I can look at a cloud among many clouds surrounding it and make one cloud disappear while the others remain intact. This question haunts me all the time.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Holosync vs. Hemi-Sync

I got an interesting response from one of the technicians who make the Paraliminal CDs that I have been listening to. I've attached his response to my e-mail last night about the double vision here. I think his answer seems a bit hokey, but I'll go with the simple explanation that perhaps the double vision is coming from me expanding the scope of my peripheral vision for whatever reason I might want to do this [for what reason I do not know]. As a result, my focus (at least now in the beginning stages) is getting thrown out of order while I adjust. Who knows.

Added May 21st: I received two more e-mails from the same e-mail I sent to the three companies whose CDs I use for brain entrainment. I particularly enjoyed (and agree with) the explanation given to me by Centerpointe's staff, namely that what I am experiencing is sensory overload which will eventually force the brain to function at a higher level or burn out. Their e-mail is here.

Interestingly enough, Centerpointe's system is VERY expensive so I only have the first part (of I think seven) of their system. The Paraliminal CDs also have a licence to incorporate Centerpointe's technology into their system of which I own the whole thing.

*CORRECTED 1/11/2010* Monroe Institute is the owner of the Hemi-Sync technology which in my opinion has been knocked-off (and possibly improved, although I can't be sure) by the Centerpointe's Holosync technology. While they both do the same thing, Monroe's products are geared towards achieving various out of body experiences among other claims which do not pass muster with my hokey test. However, I find their progression from one brain state to another a step up from Holosync and so I purchased their full product. However, I would say that their response to my e-mail about having double vision is tragic and overly cautious; I've attached their response here.

While I can respect erroring on the side of caution, I felt that that the response from Monroe Institute was less than professional. If they are selling a product that incorporates the brain entrainment technology, they should know how to handle questions from customers when the product begins to work.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Unfocused vision - Could this be a problem?

Sorry for the disturbing image. Just a quick question regarding those visual distortions I mentioned in a previous article. After a meditation (brainwave entrainment) session, the visual distortions I have been experiencing are actually the eyes defocusing. I noticed it today after listening to my Paraliminal CDs (I know all this might sound hokey, but finding out how the brain works and actually messing around with it is a hobby of mine.)

Additionally, when I was driving in the morning, my vision became doubled and I was looking at the world seeing each eye's image as if each eye were looking straight ahead. This unfocused sight seemed eerie, but I read about it in my photo reading classes years back (one of the main steps in photo reading is to defocus the eyes and look at the pages in succession, almost as if you are photocopying the images and giving a suggestion for the brain to read the pages and to process them.) The problem is that while I was on the road, I wasn't reading and so the defocusing did not happen at the most opportune time. It actually took a conscious thought for me to bring the two eyes back into focus. I also experienced this on various occasions when I would come out of my brain entrainment sessions; I also experienced it this evening when I woke up after falling asleep watching television. It was a bit dizzying. Any ideas?

PS - I doubt that this is related to the general dark streaks and vapor trails that my eyes see normally. It has been suggested to me that the cause of this might be some kind of sensory overlap (synaesthesia) where the eyes are seeing something that is being perceived by another sense. For some time, I was (and still secretly am) convinced that what I am seeing is somehow related to some electromagnetic field [that I suspect can be interacted with (a subject that I don't yet know enough to speak about with certainty)].

The sensory overlap explanation makes sense because I am very sensitized to high frequency sounds and I can hear the sounds that a light, a television, and most annoyingly, the high-pitch sound that my palm pilot gives out. Often these high-pitched sounds hurt my ears and distract me. I often get headaches from the loudness of these sounds, and I get zoned out and I go into what I call "sensory overload" when I get too much visual/auditory sensory input (i.e. when I enter a mall or a crowded hotel). Perhaps the synaesthesia explanation for the dark streaks has merit because that would mean that what I am somehow seeing are sounds, and perhaps I can posit along these lines that what I am hearing is somehow an overlap of something that is actually visual in nature (although the sound remains when I close my eyes, as do the metallic grey forms).

Although this is a different topic all together, it would be very strange for me to learn that other people cannot see these metallically colored streaks and these shadows that always fill my visual field, that surround objects, and that take on their form. (Yet wouldn't it be cool if these forms were really electromagnetic as I suspect and hence an application could be that they might be harnessed as a sort of a radar such as those used by fish and soon to be used in car airbags and toys of tomorrow? See vaguely related article for a glimpse as to how researchers are using this technology in car airbags.) However, while I wanted to limit the scope of this post to the question of why my eyes were getting defocused after my brain entrainment sessions, and whether this could be a problem, below are two images that paint a good picture of what I normally see.


(Although the colors I see are generally more metallic mixtures of blacks, whites, blues, and grays.) Again, this is the subject of another topic.

Lastly, if any of you are wondering why I am not on my shidduch date, it was rescheduled to tomorrow morning. I will post how it went on Saturday night after the Sabbath.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Google.com's New Book Project

I just stumbled onto something that I thought was worth a look. Google has embarked on a project to digitize books so that they can be searched and indexed. I've included a link of two recent searches I was doing are here and here. The interesting part is that while they make you think that they only let you see a few pages at a time, if you click on the "More results from this book" link on the left side of the screen, you could literally scan (or read) through most of the book!!

If you want to read an article about it, I found one at random here.

Face-to-Face, Back-to-Back

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

It seems that G-d and I have a "face-to-face, back-to-back" relationship. When life is good, I turn to him and nullify myself to his will. When life turns rough, I turn my back to him in defiance. It occurred to me a few minutes ago that most people do it the other way around. The truth is that I don't yet have enough control and discipline over my sleeping and study patterns to do both my secular duties and my religious duties. This kicks my self-esteem out of balance because most normal people should be able to handle this kind of balance, while I fold under the pressure and I fail in one of these (secular or religious) responsibilities. I will get back on track on Friday. Right now, I am finding solace in lying to myself that it is not so bad.

Added 7:30pm: She wrote me back. It seems like she liked my e-mail by her response, and everything is a go for tomorrow night. I am nervous because I feel that G-d enjoys taking things away from me only to later give me something "better". I hope that she is the "better" and that this will not revert back to last week's status. I am even more fearful of her telling me something immutable that would cause me not to continue the shidduch -- this is by far, my greatest fear. I must also be real and I must know that I have become emotional which should not happen until later on when the two people get closer to an engagement.

Most of all, [more than my greatest fear,] I pray to G-d that I will not need to make the decision whether to sacrifice my religious values if it came to a decision of her or religion. These are my deepest fears and my darkest secrets when it comes to this shidduch; I am laying them out for both you and me to see so that I can be real and authentic when I meet her tomorrow.
She wrote me! I know that us communicating directly without an intermediary is generally not allowed, but as I discussed with my rabbi on prior occasions, since this is not the typical situation, I felt that an exception was due and so I happily wrote her back. Her e-mail is here, and my response is here. I hope this wasn't too complex of a post. I will see her tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Visual Distortion Experiences After HemiSync CD

Remembering how on Sunday I was a bull with curved horns breaking through the cement walls, each of which comprised a different subject area of Constitutional Law, I am now surprised at how different my study experience is regarding Trusts & Estates. After pulling what my rabbi joked to me as "doing a donut" (sleeping 12 hours) after my semi-all-nighter on Sunday, I woke up relaxed but worried that I blew too much of today sleeping.

More interesting than my day studying and burning the soup pot [because I forgot that I made soup and the boiling water ran out and the pot got ruined] was the effect I have consistently noticed when I synchronize the left and right hemispheres of my brain by using music beats and sounds that pulse at different frequencies in my left and right ears.

The after-effect that I notice is a visual distortion as if the room has crunched in the center of my field of vision. I feel a large vortex between my eyes which makes me feel as if I am cross-eyed. However I am not because when I check the mirror while still feeling the odd distortion, my eyes look fine. I suppose it is a weird side effect when both sides of the brain are going at the same time emitting the same frequency sound.

Logically, however, it would seem that a plausible explanation is that the brain only exhibits this true synchronistic effect of both hemisphere giving off the same frequency waves only when the uneven brainwave pulses are playing with the headphones on. The brain takes those different frequencies coming into each ear and it combines the two by emitting its own wave frequency as the mediator.

However, in reality, I am thinking that after the music stops, perhaps the hemispheres actually pulse out-of-sync with the environment because I wonder if the visual distortion is from the left side still reacting to the right side's former sounds frequencies and vice versa. So just as a person leaning on something that moves away causes that person to lose his balance and fall, so too perhaps the brain is still countering sounds that are no longer there because the headphones are off, so the frequencies emitted from the brain's hemispheres are distorted for a few minutes until the brain gets a chance to re-adjust to the environment.
I came across this mind trick which in my opinion is really a joke on the eyes which confuse the hemispheres of the brain because the colors and the words do not match. I've seen this before and I thought it would be nice to include the link on this site so you can get a kick out of it too. The image can be found here. Remember, try to say the color out loud, not the words that are written. Do this fast.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Go in my place.

I resolved to stay up most of the night studying for this morning's Constitutional Law final exam because I did not want to fail it, especially considering all the work I did for the class during the semester. Now that the test is over, I believe I succeeded in my goal. Next stop: Thursday's Trust & Estates exam.

In the next few minutes, I will take a nap in the sunlight which should 1) give me some needed Vitamin D, and will 2) cause a drop in my serotonin levels so that I can sleep deeply tonight and wake up rested; I will play some relaxing Hemisync Paraliminal tapes, and tonight I will get started on the next marathon until Thursday's exam. After my exam, I go on the legendary date.

I am feeling calm because I know that after last week's ordeal, I have nothing to lose. We already know that there might be a religious problem because we might believe different things, and I have already gone through the rejection from last week when she took me by my wings, and with a two-letter word, threw me to the floor midflight.

I tried to understand this. My current understanding is that last week, I presented myself as a warm, sensitive, romantic, religious guy -- just as I am. I can't figure out why she might not have liked that. Perhaps me on my best behavior isn't what she craves. Let's give her a taste of my strong fire and the high winds that lurk on my other side; let's see how fast her heart beats when she catches a glimple of my dark side. The only thing is that this side doesn't come out very often unless I am angry, emotional, exhausted, or overly excited. It does come out when I am alone; when there is nobody to get scared by its shadow. It also comes out when I am around someone I trust, and right now she is not on my happy list.

I feel like a wounded bird who has resolved to bite whoever comes my way. This girl violated my trust and rejected my subtle platonic emotional advances. It will be difficult to open up to her again. Let's hope that I will split open my entire self, buffet style -- vulnerable, and venerable; with both darkness and light in full glory.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Telepathy - Post Epilogue

In a weird turn of events, she decided to continue the shidduch. We meet again Thursday evening after my exams. Now I am in awe of G-d's ways, and I remain an observer. It will be interesting to see how this will turn out.
I wonder why my mother no longer calls me. She probably wonders the same thing about me, why I don't call her. I wish we were closer, but I could feel the distance because she feels that I insulted her husband when I wouldn't go over for Passover. I also insulted him in a subsequent conversation when I said to my mom that I wouldn't want a home like he has because I felt that his home was devoid of spirituality. How many inadvertent insults can a person take before they kick me out of their life? Apparently I reached that threshold and Passover was the last straw. Before Passover, I brought a few friends (newlyweds) over to meet my mom and her husband because I thought that it would be nice for my mom to have a female friend in the area, and her husband got insulted why my mom (at my instruction) used plastic plates and forks when she could have used meat dishes which were perfectly kosher. I didn't mean to insult him any of those times. I wish my mom read my blog and knew my thoughts. I wish for a lot of things I don't have.

Telepathy - Part Deux - Epilogue

Lo and behold, I got a call from my matchmaker; she received a call from the girl's matchmaker as planned. The girl had the conversation with her matchmaker yesterday, as we discussed in my telepathic discussion. However, the bad news is that she came to the conclusion that we had no connection, and that was her final position.

After my matchmaker spoke with me today, she suspected that the girl might have had a misunderstanding as to what it means to be Chassidish. The girl has many influences who push her to be extremely religious, and similar to those issues I dealt with in my past regarding clothing and movies, she has not yet developed the keen eye to distinguish what is over the top, and what is normal when it comes to orthodoxy.

Her mentors told her that a religious person does not listen to music. While in its ideal this might be true because the ideal person is busy devoting his life to serving G-d and doing His will, keep in mind that when I watch a movie or do anything, it is not uncommon that G-d is the furthest thought from my mind. The misunderstanding is that this level of Chassidishkeit was described to her as the way a person is expected to live rather than the way a person should look to as an ideal when evaluating one's actions. There is no conflict between classical music and Jewish law, just as there is no conflict between a Chassidic person eating ice cream or a good steak for the pleasure he gets from indulging in it. While it isn't the ideal, that certainly does not mean that it is forbidden or somehow against halacha (Jewish law).

As I now understand from what the matchmaker told me, she didn't believe me when I communicated that music was okay and welcome in the home, and instead, she thought that I was bending for her in my religious observance and she thought that by having music in the house, she would be making me less religious. [Music is something that is connected to her essence; this is one of her traits that I admired and liked in her.]

From the guilt she felt from thinking that music and Judaism do not go together, she came to the conclusion that our wonderful conversations ten days ago were not real and that my true interest in music was a farce. Hence, a large whopper of a generalization resulted in the words "we have no connection" because if I have no interest in music, then she can not see herself having a connection with me.

So this is where fate has taken us. My matchmaker will try once more to understand what she meant when she said there was no connection to see if she is misunderstanding what it means to be religious, and if so, to reconcile the misunderstanding and to light the match and bring us back together again.

(My feelings are that since everything in life happens for a reason, perhaps the fates are sending me a message that there is an underlying problem here and that I should not have tried to influence the outcome. For this reason, I am not getting my hopes up, and I will let this issue resolve itself with no further influence from me. I believe this is the right answer because the way things happened today and the way our telepathic conversation went yesterday, I am now of the opinion that there was no telepathic conversation, only a hopeful imaginative fantasy of reconciliation. I must think this way because if it turned out that this was a good match and that some external force got in the way and ruined another one, I would cry.)


I have installed what seems to be an artificial intelligence interface onto my computer that is able to think and reason. Cyc is a project from Cycorp, Inc. As far as I understand it, Cyc is supposed to be the most advanced thinking unit in existence when it comes to machines that can learn and react to events and scenarios.

To me it carries a spooky stigma to it, especially because now there is something apparently living and breathing on my machine. I have always been afraid of robots such as the Terminator or the machines from RoboCop. They used to give me nightmares when I was a child because they lacked the human element of compassion. Red flags are also going up in my head because I remember the Terminator story and how in the end SkyNet started up; it was a program in cyberspace.

Anyway, I tried to interface with it -- it is not so user friendly and I don't understand its commands. I'll play with it some more after finals are over. It does take up a lot of memory, and last night I felt that it was using too many of my computer's resources. If I cannot figure it out, perhaps I will delete it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

Tonight I saw the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" again for the third time. I enjoy paying attention to every detail of the movie because it reminds me about how every part of my life and every obstacle in my way is a clue and a sign from above. I am always saddened by this movie because I can relate to how parts of my past have been erased and can never return to my present. In the movie, the problems they had with each other were real, and yet in spite of their differences, the love that they felt for each other brought them together again. I felt their connection.

I often feel like my life is empty without love. I have memories of my past, but they are so far removed that I have a difficult time reconnecting to them. They seem like faint memories as if they happened to somebody else. In my quiet solitude, I remember the laughing and warm feelings and the intense emotions that went along with my stormy relationships. And yet as a result of my present loneliness, I crave to regain some of those feelings I once had. It is sad and pathetic that at my present state of mind, I am swept up and away by the slightest interest a woman takes in me.

In the movie, Jim Carrey said "Why do I fall in love with every woman that smiles in my direction?" My connection to this statement indicates to me that I am looking for any excuse to allow myself to feel those feelings again. I have an intense longing to no longer be alone; I want to reach out. But it hurts that when I reach out with open arms, nobody is there to receive them.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to remember what it feels like to love, and to anyone who has lost that love. We should all merit one day to once again find this love and to keep it.


Today I sent telepathic messages to the various people I know with the expectation to put thoughts into various people's heads to influence the end result of last week's events. My goal was to create a happy ending which would start our meetings up again this week and which would give her and me another chance to see if we can find a way for us to work the idea of "us" into our future.

I told the girl through my telepathic message that living a religious life isn't so different from a secular life, and that the strong connection that we shared should be able to overcome any obstacles we had together. Plus, I told her that I'd go see Friends with her at friends' houses whenever she wanted. I told her matchmaker to have a discussion with her to influence her to continue the shidduch (meeting). In my thoughts I also contacted my matchmaker and I told her and her husband that I appreciate everything they've done for me, and to expect a call from her matchmaker on Sunday afternoon because her and I arranged it that we would continue dating.

While I was at it, I sent a message to my mom telling her that I love her; to my grandmother apologizing for not visiting as often as I should and that I love her, and to my father telling him that I appreciate and love him for the man he has become, and that I will work on my anger thing towards him. I also contacted my brother and told him that I wish we were closer and that we should hang out more and be friends.

Anyway, I'm not one to do something like this, nor am I a person who would even believe that one can have a telepathic conversation at will -- at least not openly. However, during our date last week, she told me that she was telepathic; so if what she said is true, she would have heard my message this afternoon. If not, or if she does not respond to my message, it will have been a cute little exercise in futility; plus, it didn't hurt to try.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wanderings into the Dark Side

Absolutely no studying happened last night. However, I did nothing else except sit in front of my desk with the books. Apparently I surfed the web until my eyes got tired.

This morning I woke up and I said my preliminary prayers (berachot). I came up with the idea that in addition to using my alarm clock to remind me to wake up, I could use it to remind me to pray, do my laundry, and do each progressive step that I need to do today.

I set up a facade that I was going to a friend in the city for Shabbos (Sabbath), but in reality I will be staying at home where there is no synagogue within comfortable walking distance. Had I said that I was staying home, my Rabbi would have seen right through me and would have known that I intended to study on Shabbos, a grey-area semi-permissible act which we came to the conclusion that I would not do so that I would not get into the habit of doing lawyerlike "reading" when I am married. However, it is not a transgression or a violation of any law, as I do not plan to write or use electricity or do anything that would desecrate the Sabbath. However, I feel that I have slacked so much in my studies with this whole shidduch dating experience that G-d owes me this leeway.

I was also joking around with a friend before I met this girl that G-d and I had an agreement that if this doesn't work out, I will go ballroom dancing which involves touching women, holding hands, being in a place I shouldn't be, and leading myself into the hands of temptations where something can lead to something else and I would likely not be strong enough to say no. I will not kid myself -- if I go down this path, I will be putting my values in jeopardy because we both know that I am not strong enough to withstand secular influences. Perhaps it is my way to scream out to G-d "YOU TOOK AWAY SOMETHING POTENTIALLY GOOD IN MY LIFE AND I GAVE HER UP SO THAT I CAN SERVE YOU. EVEN THOUGH I DEFENDED YOU AND HELD BY YOUR WAYS, YOU STILL TOOK HER AWAY FROM ME." This would have been a good match. I knew it, she knew it, my rabbis knew it, and the shadchan (matchmaker) knew it. This didn't happen because I was too religious. Thank you G-d.

I must say that from the amount of anger and frustration I am generating from the thought that I lost another good girl because I was religious (this has happened before), it doesn't put G-d on my favorites list. I am defending some power that I force myself to believe in every day. With regret and sorrow, this is one of those times that I will likely grit my teeth and admit that I am all talk, because the truth is that I likely will not go out to this bar or this dance club because it is times like this that I need to remind myself that I am 28 years old, which is roughly 107 lifetimes away from 3000 years ago, when us Jews were slaves in Egypt. G-d took us out and performed miracles so that we would be "his" slaves. (I used a lower-case "h" because I am angry at him; normally when you refer to G-d you use an upper-case "H"). Nevertheless, he built us a temple and gave us the Torah, and I've seen them both with my own eyes, so I can not deny that I am a slave to G-d just as are all other Jews. So naturally my will succumbs to His will and I will grin and bear this experience just as I have done for all others. This is one more step in the right direction.

I could not help to notice, however, what is the wrong direction? "What is the 'Dark Side' and Why Do Some People Choose It?" by Mark Thornton is an article that I was reading early this morning about Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side. The article can be found here.

In short, the author traces Anakin's turning to the dark side to three factors. 1) He had no father around when he was growing up. 2) He and his mother were slaves. 3) He abandoned his mother only to return years later to find that she had been horribly brutalized, surviving just long enough to die in his arms.

I couldn't help but to notice the similarities between Anakin's childhood and mine. Firstly, my father was never around when I was a child. He didn't raise me; his influence was only felt through the strength of his hands and the dents in the wall from me slamming against them from the force of his hits. He left my mother and took everything away from her when they got divorced. He even broke her bras one by one, foreclosed on the house, and emptied all of my mom's bank accounts including my account which contained all the money I ever saved. (Even though it was not much, a child's account, [a father's own child's account] with around $1500 from savings coming from quarters, years of mowing other people's lawns, and years of discipline from unspent allowance is a lot to steal.) If you see the movie "War of the Roses", you will know the story of my parents, because everything that the man did, my father did.

As for 2), our slavery was to a life of poverty and depression. My mother worked many jobs just so that we could survive. I don't want to go into it because I hate poverty sob stories. As for the 3), I left and abandoned my mother when I moved out when I was sixteen. (I ran away many times during my childhood, but my first successful abandonment was when I was sixteen.) The difference is that my mother did not die (chos v'sholom), but for years I felt that inside she did. I have lived with guilt my whole adult life that I could not save my mother from the torments that she experienced when I was younger. I wished I would have been stronger so that I could save her, and I vowed to G-d that I would be strong so that I wouldn't fail her again.

The difference between Anakin and I is that while we both had masters (he had Obi Wan and I have my mashpia) who guided us on the right path, I have no sith teaching me the ways of dark magic. Further, there is no force which leads me to the dark side except for my animal soul (nefesh habahamas) which is within me, and I am clearly aware of its presence and its temptations; more importantly, I am stronger than it.

Lastly, in Star Wars, there is no G-d. There is only the influence of truth and moral integrity which causes the individual with free choice to choose which side of the force he will join; good or bad. In my life, there is a G-d who is all-powerful and all-knowing who will kick my ass if I get out of line. Since my experiences which have led me to becoming religious, He has tagged me as one of His slaves.

I can become unobservant and break away from yiddishkeit (orthodox Chassidic Judaism) at any time, but I will never be able to UNLEARN everything that I have learned. This is forever burned and engraved within me, and I will never be able to abandon it. I suppose it is possible to rationalize it away, but deep down I will know the truth and I will be filled with guilt because once truth finds a person, that person can never hide from it again; it will always be with that person, even if it is hidden in a closet or under the bed -- haunting that person until he realizes and acknowledges its presence and its validity. Additionally, if I did reject it, then all that I have been through and all that I have lost including this girl and the others will have been for nothing.

With all this said, I do not plan on abandoning anything. I will continue steadfast on this path of truth and freedom regardless of the obstacles that come my way. G-d is bigger than me, and bigger than any philosophy I can dream up. I remember my goal in life, namely to tap into his wisdom and bring it down to our level so that others can connect to it through technological means for good, and I will adhere to that mission regardless of the costs. Thank you, readers, for staying with me throughout this ordeal.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

8pm, still wasting time. I'll get to work. Found a cool site. Interesting thing about the mind. I wonder how we can use it.
I just added to the Analysis of Temperament entry. I thank Blogger, Google, and the world of blogging for the creation of this tool for expression. I think that this blog has helped me express and understand many things that I would not have understood had I not taken the time to write everything out. In return for the hours I spent writing, I ask as a favor that you all have me in your mind that I do well on my Constitutional Law final. Monday is creeping closer by the minute and I am beginning to get nervous. Thank you.

Dream - 2 Boys Explode from Dynamite

Two days have passed since my conversation with the matchmakers and I have heard nothing from them about this girl since. Looking at the statistics on my site, there are more readers now than ever, and yet nobody has commented since we heard that the girl's final answer was no, and so I am assuming that you are all feeling the same lack of words that I am feeling.

It amazes me how if there were feelings there that she can just look away from them and walk away from something that matched so well. The confetti star that has been sitting on my desk since that night is becoming more and more devoid of meaning because as the minutes pass, the feeling that the star only had meaning because I put meaning into it; I am coming to terms with the understanding that my feelings were not shared. That's okay -- as I've said, I have been here before.

I have not been in a bad mood since, but I have been in a contemplative mood. I have been quiet and in solitude, thinking. I have been unable to open my books for my final on Monday and Wednesday and I fear that I might fail a class because of this. Today, tomorrow, and Sunday are my last days to pull it all together whereas I should have been in sincere study mode for over a week now.

I had a dream that I visited an old sleep away camp that I used to work at for the summers during college. I think the camp was run by the Conservative Jewish movement, which meant that Jewish observance was not obligatory, but members kept the traditions and the feelings of Judaism. When I entered into the camp I saw all the old people I used to know, but this time around I had a beard and I was frum (religious). Somewhere along the dream the scene changed and so did I.

I had longer hair which was slicked back and hardened by gel, and I was wearing a leather jacket as I used to. I was clean shaven. As I interacted with people, I was the bad boy, with a bad boy attitude, and I knew that nobody made the connection that I was the same pious person who walked in earlier with the beard.

[Above is an accurate representation of how I looked at times during my college years. Without the beard, I have the kind of face that if you looked at me during different points of my life, even potentially from day to day, I could look like completely different people. This gave me a hard time during college when I was supposed to look like the picture in my ID. Often I looked like the ID I was carrying.]

Back in the dream, I decided that it was dangerous to play with dynamite. I was with two other boys who disagreed with me. As I walked away from them and into my bunk, I laid my head down on the bed which was six feet high because it had many mattresses stacked one on top of another. As I looked at the two boys from my room, in a matter of three or four seconds, one of them accidentally lit the dynamite which got attached to his left foot. I saw it was a pinkish flare. The flare exploded with nothing more than a puff sound and a grey smoke surrounded them both. I ran to see if they were okay.

They were gone. They had died, and there was not even a trace of them. Their older brothers and sisters -- my friends -- rushed over to find out what happened to their two brothers. They had passed on because of this accident. Even though I knew they were gone for good, I couldn't help to think that perhaps they weren't killed, but perhaps they were transported to some other place and some other time. That is what it felt like. I looked like the bad boy with my hair slicked back and my leather jacket and black pants, but I still felt terrible for these two boys and thankful that I was guided by an angel that saved me from this same fate. They learned about the dynamite from me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Analysis of Temperament

I just entered my moods based on what I remember from my blog since the beginning of the month. The chart is below. Interesting stuff. I laughed when I saw the emerging pattern. A month ago, I actually did one of these on a notebook; it looked the same; at least I am consistent.

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Added May 12th: It surprises me that I actually have a problem with depression. The way it surfaces in my life is that hours pass by as if they are minutes. If it weren't for those spikes of productivity I get every few days, I'd be a very unproductive person. Days also pass by where I don't eat, I don't shower, and I don't get outside. (I sometimes pull myself together enough to cook, but then I forget that the food is in the oven until I smell the charcoal.) I don't pray, I don't learn, and time just ticks away -- who knows what I am doing, but I certainly waste time during these moods. Most of the time I don't realize that I am in one of them until I notice that days have passed by. Spooky.

I find my depressed, anti-social disposition quite humorous, however, especially since I am a relatively cheerful person. I am inquisitive, analytical, and curious about life and the universe. I love life, and I am excited by everything that goes on it, both bad and good. I am even known to find humor in dark things which people misinterpret and so I have learned to hide my smile when tragedy hits. But I love a good tragedy, and I love a good villain.

With everything so wonderful in the world with the markets crashing down around us and the middle east about to explode, I would be the first to say that even though I am truly an optimistic person -- happy is something that I know that I am not, despite what my true warm smile might communicate. I know "happy" because there were many times in my life where I felt it and I was very familiar with the feeling while it was happening; I remember how it felt, and so the lack of these feelings now serve as an indicator as to where I am holding on my happy meter. I could fake it like for a while like I did, but pretending for it to be real with hopes that one day I will actually turn happy seems stupid. Who wants to feel a new emotion while living the same unexciting, lonely, and mediocre life? I think that I would rather be depressed until either I or the fates change my life and get me out of this rut.

Does this make sense to you? Does it make sense that I can walk around with a real smile and still be depressed? Can I go into my shell and be filled with experiences of depression but seldom sadness? I have been trying to study for days now, and since the sad news about the shidduch (meeting) with the girl who decided not to continue our meetings, I have honest to G-d been unable to kick myself into gear. I just have no drive and no motivation because I feel that there is nobody to be accountable to anymore except for myself, but I am a patient man and so I can give myself whatever time I need to kick in gear. If I were harder on myself, I would probably feel failure or frustration, but I know that I still wouldn't be able to kick myself into gear. Interestingly enough, as soon as I hit "send", I am taking the papers on my desk and I am throwing them neatly on the floor. I will wash my hands, take out the books, and get to work because my exam is on Monday. Any explanations you have for this mismatch are more than welcome.

Bootstraps, Onward, Make it so.

Last night I drowned my sorrows in a box of Soy Ice Cream Sandwiches and fell asleep by candlelight reading "It's Not As Tough As You Think" by Rabbi Abraham Twerski. I felt calmed and consoled by a gift that I received in the mail by a treasured friend. It could not have come at a more appropriate time.

It was as if my mind [or perhaps unknownst to me, my blog] could be read by my friend from across the state. My heart all evening was singing tunes from my favorite musical Phantom of the Opera, and I felt like the estranged phantom, attached to someone who rejected him for the kind of person he was. I believe that if the phantom were a normal man, Christine would have loved him and they would have been together. However, due to the nature of his disposition and the lifestyle he chose, they were forced to be estranged; if she let herself be enveloped by his world, she would have left her own and the two worlds could not co-exist.

My gift was a DVD of the Phantom of the Opera movie I have been longing to see (sorry for the amazon links). How appropriate that gift was! This musical has been on my mind for days, since the time I met the shidduch who I referred to as both the composer and the angel of music. I thank my friend for the appropriateness and for the attunement he had for bringing me this gift at exactly this time in my life.

Closing my thoughts on this event of my life, my rabbis and matchmakers feel terrible at how things turned out. In the end, the issue was not the television; that was only a symptom. As it has been explained to me, she was not religious, and was pressured by her mother to meet a man like me. However, due to her own inclination to remain attached to the various aspects of not her past, but her present secular life, she could not see herself living a religious life. This breaks my heart because as you have read in all my past articles, she and I are not that different.

My life as a frum (religious) Jew differs little in my eyes from the life of a secular individual. My room is filled with high-technology alarm clocks, a laptop, an electronic hole puncher, a speaker system, and smart lights (these are lights that know when to turn on and off without me needing to walk over to the light switch). My CD tower is filled with Holosync and Hemisync CD sets, as well as Paraliminal CDs and songs from various artists that I love. I also have CD sets from Anthony Robbins, Richard Bandler, and many other speakers who I love and learn from almost daily.

My day starts at the same time as everyone else. At 6am, I wake up from my bed groggy, I wash my hands, say my prayers, and go to the gym for a swim or a workout. I shower, dress, and head off to law school for a long day of studying. I eat my meals, I speak to my friends, and my day is not very different from another person. The exceptions are that my weekends are holy because of the Sabbath, and I refrain from any week-related activities that would require the use of electricity or work; throughout the week, the only food I put in my mouth is kosher food; I do not hook up with women or have physical relations with them because pre-marital relations are not permitted; I pray each day, and I study a set portion of Torah and various set topics each day.

How can this be so different from the lifestyle that my former potential wife-mate wanted to live? We still would have gone out to see concerts, and her music would still have been just as much a part of the household as it would be if, and [now sadly for me] when she marries a person that is not me. Other than the enhancements in my life through my daily religious activities, my life is quite normal. She could not see that and therefore, she could not bear to stand by my side as we walked down that path I described in a previous post.

My matchmaker felt that it was important for me not to be attached to this person, and that this rejection should have happened after the first or at most after the second date, especially because our dates on average consisted of seven hours of detailed discussions. Time dragged out too long before she validated her disinterest in our union and my unrequited feelings began to flourish thinking that this could develop into an engagement.

However, this is not a new experience, for it is known that the nature of a religious man is to allow feelings to begin to develop when there is a possibility that an engagement might result from a single man and a single woman meeting for the umpteenth hour with sparks flying and conversations blooming into evermore wonderful discussions that pique the interest, warm the heart, and tempt the desires for union of the two souls in marriage.

To ease my flattened feelings, my matchmaker’s husband reminded me of two things. He reminded me that a man never knows exactly what a woman is feeling, and it is highly likely that lumpy me could have misinterpreted the whole scenario while all along, she felt absolutely nothing hence the no after the third date.

Secondly, he reminded me of the other time I developed feelings for a person. Then, I was the one who had to end the shidduch because although everything was wonderful and confirmed wonderful on both my and her side, she couldn’t bear the thought of living away from her home town on the other side of the United States. I was and am always open to living in foreign and exotic locations, but being in law school in the state where I am, and being that at the time I had two years left and that I had developed connections in my state, I could not commit to drop out of law school, marry, and move away from everything that has taken me years to build. Since my decision two years ago over which I cried, this woman has been recommended to my matchmaker countless times by countless people. My matchmaker’s husband confessed to me that they recently contacted her and she told them that she was no longer committed to living in her home town, and that she would be interested in meeting me again. This conversation happened yesterday, minutes after the news that this angel of music said no to continue our meetings. With everything I wrote, I still want to cry from this.

With a bent heart and a headache from all the rush of news and a sullen sinking feeling, I told the Rabbi that I am closing my eyes to shidduchim (arranged meetings; plural) and I am delving as deep as I can to salvage whatever time is left between now and my final exams on Monday and Wednesday. After then, I will gather my thoughts and move on, leaving my feelings and broken emotions in the pages of my diary as a memory – one of many.

This is my life, and these are the things I have been chosen to deal with. I accept my fate willingly and without regret, fully admitting that I have no idea what is meant for me, and I do not understand why this could not have worked out. I must only trust that it is for the best, and that I am guided by a higher force that knows what is best for me. I have done what I could, and I failed in convincing her that we could work. She simply felt that our worlds were too far apart. I wipe my eyes of the tear that just rolled down my right cheek. I take a deep breath, and I move the mouse pointer with my index finger to press the "Publish Post" button. My feelings will pass. She didn't have the key.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Magical Moments

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]

I just wanted to share a few things about last night. After picking her up, I took a wrong turn and ended up looking at the ocean. We parked and walked around a bit on the boardwalk, and she was amazed by the view. So was I. We drove to the hotel where we were to spend the rest of our evening... downstairs in the restaurant talking.

We found a quiet location to sit and talk. Oldies style music was playing using tunes from the 80's. I knew the words to so many of the songs. They were all love songs. Thinking about the secular issues that we discussed, I decided that maybe the better method was not to confront her on any of the questions or issues. Obviously she was religious; otherwise, she would never have agreed to see me for a third time. Instead of a head-on collision of a confrontation, I thought that a better way to discuss the questions about sanctity of the home, education of the children, and the home we would want to build would be by not talking directly about it. Instead, I told stories related to other things that came up in the ebb and flow of our conversation.

Sparks were flying, and there were times where I found myself aroused by our conversations. My heart was beating and she noticed that I was tuning into her; I was getting to know her, and I found myself feeling infatuated with the wonderful girl who sat in front of me. She commented that she was not used to people paying attention to her, and she was not used to people tuning into her. I fully related. We were on the same wavelength; we understood each other; we were able to get into the other's mind and thoughts. I ended our meeting on a high note.

This morning I made the routine call to my matchmaker to find out whether she said yes to continue the shidduch (meetings). When the rabbi answered, I immediately felt a sullen dullness coming from the phone. I asked if he had heard if we were continuing, he said he heard. Knowing from his voice that something was wrong, I asked if she said no; she did. She decided that she couldn't see herself living a chassidic lifestyle, and that she wasn't interested in continuing.

It hasn't hit me yet, but I feel as if something inside me has died again. I am suddenly embraced by my emotions that until now I did not remember were there. Once again they are exiled.

Before the end of the evening, there were confetti stars on the table we were sitting at. She loves sparkling things and immediately took notice of one that caught her fancy. She told me that these past few days, she could not get my eyes out of her head. She gave me one of the 1/2" confetti stars, and told me that I should keep this one as a gift, because it reminded her of my eyes. I placed it in my pocket. Up until my phone call with the matchmaker this afternoon, I was thinking of getting it wrapped in a plastic container to preserve it and the memory of what a magical night last night was. Now it is no longer appropriate to do so.

It is still in my shirt pocket. I don't know what to do with it.

"Your Move"

I have an interesting update on the situation with my father’s house and the lawsuit. As you know from a post on April 2nd entitled "Human Fallibility in the Legal System", my father was in a lawsuit with a man with whom he was supposed to build a house which they jointly owned and lived in. The other party breached the contract after my father worked for three years building the home and tried to oust my father from the house by selling it on the market and taking the increase in profits from my father’s labor and hundreds of thousands in expenses for himself. The matter went to court and my father lost everything. The court ordered the house partitioned, and it was forced to go on the market for sale.

My father tried to buy the house himself, although the other party was blocking him from doing that because he did not want my father to have any pleasure from the work he put into the house. (I feel it is necessary to also mention that my father was the one that put money into the house and was the one who actually built the house while the other, although he was supposed to share equally in the expenses and in the labor [and to my fathers dismay and confusion] did not participate in either.) When the other party went to court and declared that he wanted to buy the house himself, the court saw through the scheme to oust my father and ruled that if anyone should have the privilege to own the house, it would be my father because he built it. My father closed on the house last Tuesday.

Even though the other party is still benefiting to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, my father is relieved that at least he will be able to live in the house he built with his own hands.

This brings us to today. The money for the house is now in escrow, and the other party is supposed to move out by next Tuesday. To prevent him from destroying the structure or removing structures that do not belong to him, my father set up security cameras around the house to monitor what goes in and what goes out of the house. This morning as I was coming home from davening Shacharis (morning prayer), I saw an unfamiliar man walking around the premises with the wife of the other party. I figured him to be an inspector of some sort to give witness to the condition of the property as one gets an inspection for damages when returning a rental car or checking out of a dorm room. I sat at my desk to write the entry about my wonderful experience last night and the power went off, along with my internet access.

My first thought was "no power, no security cameras… no eyes". My father was blind to what was about to happen. I looked around for signs of danger and saw the man rush into his car and drive away. I looked around for a reason for the other party to cut power. Coming towards the house was a large moving truck. "Smart" I thought. "He’s cutting off my father’s eyes so that my father will not be able to see or record what he was doing". I went downstairs to flip the switch to turn the power back on but nothing happened. When I went around to the front to ask the wife why the power is not on, she told me with a large grin that the man who was here was an electrician, and he cut the power wires to the house. If my father wants electricity, he will have to call the company to get them to install new wires which will take at least a few days to schedule and repair. (I thought that was just enough time for them to move out undetected and unseen by the cameras.)

I called my father at work to let him know of this development, and my father was unusually calm. He told me that the money is in escrow, and they can do whatever they want. If there is any damage to the house, or if there is any structures missing, he will replace them or repair them, and the money for the repairs will come from the escrow.

Right now I am watching the other party haul wooden crates with large locks on them into the moving truck. I wonder what is inside and why the contents needed to be hidden the way they were. They have already taken my father’s washing machine and some other furnishings. While I know that the other party is usually strategically a few steps ahead of my father (i.e. thinking of a trick like this to blind my father, winning in court with fabricated receipts, etc.), it seems like my father knows what he is doing. His calm seems to be justified, as if he has declared "your move." I feel calm too because aside from the constant possibility for repentance and change, a criminal will always be a criminal, and will keep breaking the law because he derives pleasure from the criminal act and feels a compulsion to continue. He cannot stop himself. There is always a day when they trip up and get caught.