Friday, September 30, 2005

(Un)Friendly Competition in Law School.

Last night, I had an heart-breaking experience during my Patent Law class. An acquaintance told me about an internship opportunity in NYC with his company that he thought I would be good for. As he was telling me this, inside I was jumping in excitement because I thought that maybe this was destiny helping me find a job. First of all, my rabbis always warned me -- NEVER LOOK FOR DESTINY WHEN CONSIDERING FUTURE EVENTS; ONLY SEE WHERE DESTINY WAS IN PLAY DURING PAST EVENTS. I am often guilty of doing this -- I know I should stop.

Anyway, as I was talking to my classmate about the patent law opportunity, I was concealing my overwhelming excitement so as not to sound desperate. When he mentioned that the internship is in the city, a girl piped up and said "I live in the city." He turned to her and asked her, "so, do you want the internship?" and she said, "of course I would." He then describe the internship to her.

I felt crushed because right out from underneath me, the internship opportunity appeared and then disappeared. I decided that showing interest would maybe persuade him to tell me about it too. I told the girl, "if you find that the internship is not something you are interested in, I would be VERY interested in pursuing it." I hoped that this would have influenced him to talk to me about it later. That didn't happen.

I could tell that the girl felt a little bit of guilt for stepping in on an opportunity, but she was also upset at me for letting it be known that I was interested in the internship, a sign of open competition for a position in the serene classroom environment. At our school students have a silent motto, and that is not to compete or impede the opportunities of the other students. Law school in most schools is cut-throat -- people step on each other and ruin friendships for advancement. This girl was a transfer student.

I sat down at my chair feeling sullen and overpowered. I had a brief friendly confrontation and while I stood up to the competition, I lost. All feelings of failure and inadequacy began to swim around my thoughts, coupled with my ego which kicked in and influenced my thoughts to think that I deserved that position.

However, the truth has to be told. I am not as special as I think I am. I am a regular guy; I have to remember that. Good things can happen, but I should never be angry or sad when they don't happen. I am in charge of my actions, but not the outcomes -- those are up to G-d to decide what is good for me and what is not. Plus, in a week or so, Yom Kippur will be here, where G-d will make an official decree what is in store for me for the coming year -- and that includes how much money I will make and where I will work and whether I will find a shidduch. Apparently these weren't in the cards last year because time has run out and again, the Jewish new year is upon us.

I don't exactly know where I will be working, but in my heart, I feel the need to start searching. All my friends at law school are attending interviews and doing what they should be and I feel like I am falling behind. I haven't sent one resume out, and I haven't made one phone call to meet anyone to find a job. Somehow I am hoping that everything will just work out -- it always has. However, I decided to be proactive and so in the coming weeks, I will get my stuff together and I will start the job search. After all, working as an attorney was the end goal in deciding to go to law school.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Holosync - Not Yet Ready to Move to Awakening Level 1.

Last night, I received the next level (Holosync Awakening Level One) of Centerpoint's brainwave synchronization technology in the mail from England. I was excited to get this because it is in this level where they start to intensify the experience causing major things to happen in the neurophysiology of the listener. I currently have been playing the "Intro to Awakening" CDs for a few months now, and I was eager to progress to the higher levels of the course so I could get some real work done on myself and my physiology.

In the pamphlet for the new level that I received in the mail, the company outlined four elements that are required for an individual to know when he or she will be ready to move up to this level. One of them is that you should be able to listen to the CD for the hour session of the prior level sitting up, without getting knocked out from the altered state that the brainwaves create. I thought, "no problemo." I sat in a chair, put on the wireless headphones, and set my timer. I woke up on the bed three hours later from a deep sleep.

I guess I'm not yet ready to move to the next level.

Note: I woke up with the phone number in my head of a childhood friend of mine. I wonder if the number still works. I plan on calling it after Shabbos.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Warm Moment With My Father

My psychologist said that I am being pulled in two directions. Firstly, I want to love my father. However, on the other hand, I am fighting against the part of me that wants to love him because if I just forgive and forget, it will be as if everything that happened to me as a child (all the abuse) was retroactively okay and acceptable.

I feel that if I forgive him for what he did (and for what he did not do, both then and now) than he wouldn't receive the punishment he deserves for his actions.

As I said that out loud, I realized that I have a conflicting belief that says "I am not the one who's responsibility and power it is to give out punishment. Only G-d or a court can find someone guilty of an act." And of course, what happened in my past was witnessed by G-d, which means that if my dad doesn't somehow make amends, (chos v'sholom) and pardon the pun, he'll have hell to pay.

But this has nothing to do with me. According to Kabbalah (per Rabbi Berg's questionably reliable books), I -- being my soul -- chose this body; I chose this particular life with these particular parents. I knew the abuse that would happen, and somehow, while I was up in the heavens getting recycled, I felt that this life with its goods and its bads would be the kind of life I needed to rectify any blemishes in my soul.

Anyway, this doesn't lessen my anger for him, but it does help me realize that hating him doesn't do me any good, and it only aggravates me further. I'm better off releasing my anger and "let G-d" avenge those who have risen against me, and let me live a life of peace.

I told my dad about the motorcycle license and the piano I bought -- I thought he would flip out about both things, but he was very happy to hear about each. We spoke some law, and had some pleasant conversations. We will be drafting a will, a living will, a health care proxy, and a durable power of attorney using Suze Orman's Complete Will & Trust program. It cost only $15, and it can be installed on multiple computers for multiple users. It was nice helping my dad plan his future. By the way, this isn't morbid. I was impressed that my dad was interested in protecting himself against being sued or if something bad happened. I think this was responsible thinking. The chemical warfare suits that he purchased for around $650 in case of a terrorist attack seems to have been over the top, but as he says, "it's better to never to need these suits than not to have them if you ever G-d forbid need them."

I wish he was more like tonight more often. The question I must ask is -- did he change tonight, or did I?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sudden rush of energy!

I am sitting in on ConLaw class; I am like on crack! Coffee rush! Slept from 12a - 3,4,5,7am. Feel heartbeat / euphoric feeling, even on roof of my mouth! Hyperventilating. I could run a marathon!

Just taking note.

"Father and not Son," or is it vice versa??

Topic 2 - Father and not Son: Anyway, one last thought before I talk about my doctor's appointment that I will have today. My father. I sat awake for around two hours this morning in bed waiting for my dad to wake up so that he can use the shower. I wait for him to shower first every day because he gets PISSED OFF when I shower first, and starts blabbing "I work [yadda yadda yadda]." However, he can't wake up in the morning to save his life, so it's always a battle with the snooze machine for him. The aggravating thing is that sometimes I'll wait an hour or so for him to shower first [knowing that I have class at 9am and minyan at 8am], and in the end, he won't shower because it took him too long to wake up. This makes my blood boil, especially because I am sure he has no idea that I wait for him every day.

I'd communicate with him, but talking to him is like talking to a wall. He doesn't listen to what I say (not because he doesn't care, but because he can't focus), and I get VERY aggravated telling him things multiple times. I feel like I spend more time informing him regarding things I already told him multiple times, and so when I don't do this, our conversations diminish and die out to an angry silence, and he still has NO IDEA WHY!

Last night in the middle of the night, he came into my room with the V8 Splash, the tomato and juice drink that I use in the mornings to blend my green kamut and my oils. At random, he offered to pour me a cup, and I got annoyed at him for bothering me late at night when I was in the middle of my seder (to-do list) of things I do to get to sleep at a reasonable time. He has a habit of messing my seder up with his time-wasters. While it was a nice gesture, I barked at him not to bother me when I'm trying to get to sleep. It was a three-second event, but I felt terrible about it, because I know where he was coming from.

When I was a child, I used to love it when he would bring me drinks while I was in bed. He would bring me water, or orange juice, and I remember those drinks were the most refreshing drinks in the world. I loved the fact that he cared enough about me to bring me stuff in bed. This was when I was younger. While writing about this, I get annoyed because he still thinks of me as that little kid when I'm almost thirty years old (what is the deal with that?), and while it occurs to me that he lives in the past (which I feel terrible about), I thought it was a sweet gesture to try to bring me a drink last night. I'd tell him this, but I don't want him doing it because 1) if I'm thirsty, I'll stand up and walk the ten feet to the kitchen, 2) I don't like being bothered by him in the evenings because talking with him causes the clock to speed up because I get angry just by being around him from the baseless hatred that I have for him.

Anyway, back to the showering business. I have been fuming and literally very angry for around an hour now. Not that I do this, but this is a stress response that I spend countless amounts of energy each morning trying to keep myself cool and calm, and then for hours afterwards I am drained like you cannot imagine from the exertion of trying NOT to stay angry. And if he tries to kiss me in the morning goodbye after this, I literally want to punch and hurt him for being so oblivious to reality.

This isn't meant to be a father-bashing blog. I really WANT to love him. I WANT to have the father-son relationship that I see so many people have with their fathers, but he is simply not mentally there enough to carry on a relationship with me. He just lacks the skills and the desire to connect with me, and he is just oblivious (I know I used this word already, but I mean it!) at how a father should act towards his children. I wish someone would have taught him this over the years. I wish he asked someone. His life (and our relationship) would be so so so so so much better. I am saddened every day I am around him that we don't have this kind of relationship that many sons have with their fathers. I am so angered by it for so many years that I don't even want it anymore. The thought of him touching me in a loving way creates pain that I could never express to you.

This picture at the top of the screen makes me very sad. Hopefully one day I will be able to have the kind of close relationship with my children that my father never learned to have with me.

Pain From Love -- I can't even express this to you.

This was a duplicate post of the article I posted, [supra], except that I changed the title.

Because I didn't realize that the blog search engines indexed it, I didn't want you guys left with a dead link, so the link to this article is here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Went Looking for Yossi Miller.

I went looking for an old friend of mine, Yossi Miller (a.k.a. TobyJazzboy) today. I went into the pizza store where he used to work. The pizza store was under new ownership as of four years ago; nobody has heard of him. I walked around the various blocks I used to frequent hoping to be recognized by someone who could lead me to him. Nothing.

This Shabbos at the Rabbi's shul (synagogue), I met a woman who knew their family, but was no longer in touch. When I asked about Yossi, she referred to him as "the rebel." I think within the orthodox community there, everybody knew about everybody. If he was the "rebel," it would only be natural that prior to my religious days, I would have known him. I was certainly not the rebel, but being Jewish but not religious, I often befriended people who grew up religious, but weren't by the time they knew me. (How funny is it that today, I have the opposite effect on people.)

Anyway, because of what I thought was hashgocha protis in meeting someone who knew the family, I thought that if I drove here, I would somehow meet up with him. No luck. At least I had the merit to see a few religious Jews, have a good slice of kosher pizza, and be in a Jewish environment for a few hours.

Reflection of the Women at Last Night's Event

I feel good about last night, although it was completely meaningless. I am talking about the club experience. The reason I feel okay about it is because the girl whose birthday it was felt supported and cared for which was my intention. I walked her back to her car where she was being driven home by two of her friends from high school. Then while walking back to my car, I picked up a jug of water so that I wouldn't wake up in my car in the morning with a hangover. I slept in my car because I wanted to go to a local Jewish community in the morning to pick up a few books at Kehos.

One thing that struck me as strange is that given that people are awkward and messed up in real life, you would think that once you get a few drinks into them at a bar or a club that they would loosen up and would become open and friendly. I've experienced that it is quite the contrary. Girls herd together like a pack of animals, and are more standoffish than friendly. Plus, I can't imagine meeting anyone in a place like that anyway. Besides for being there for my friend from law school, I was hoping to let my yetzer hara (evil inclination) out for a walk to do what it wanted, but it had no fun either. I suppose I am not missing as much as I thought I was by being religious.

Evening at the CLUB.

I am writing you from my car after a few drinks settled into my system and took away my happy drunk feeling and turned me into mush. Tonight after a holy shabbos filled with learning, I went to a friend's birthday party at a bar in the city. Open bar until 11pm.

Everything was okay. A friend of mine was there and she walked over to me and said into my ear, "you don't belong here." I answered "I never do." I hung around and danced for a little bit, but when the alcohol set in, I got sad because I was alone. The girl whose birthday I went to said "not to transverse any religious barriers, but I would totally date you."

That made me sad. I looked around the room and then I saw a beautiful woman. She was unapproachable. I tried to raise my energy and to catch her eye, but I couldn't do it. I was back to my old days where I couldn't approach a girl I liked if I tried because the girls I am attracted to wouldn't look at me. I got sadder.

Lonely, I remembered why I became religious; because I was tired of playing the clubbing scene with all the games and the mendacities. I never enjoyed playing the game. It was never for me. I am glad that long after being religious, it is still not for me. I no longer feel like I am missing out by being religious. Perhaps I needed a night like tonight to figure this out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sleep Update: Woke up at 4:30am a bit confused (snoozing since 3:30am), but my energy level seems to be okay. Had my morning drink (green kamut powder mixed with V8 and various oils). Making coffee. Saying berachos (prayers). Will learn some Torah and will work on Constitutional Law until I need to get to class. Will go to gym after class at 3pm, then listen to my holosync CDs. The goal after that is to study for a few hours so that I'll be prepared for my classes tomorrow.

I like these mornings. I feel that I have time to do things to prepare for the day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sleep Experiment Update - Day 2

I'm going to do this again tonight. I'll go to sleep at 11:30pm, and I'll wake up this morning at 4am. I think regularity in sleep and wake-up times is important, but I also feel that physically getting a certain number of hours of sleep is also important. I will let you know how this goes.

As a report from last night's 9:30pm-2:30am sleep experiment, I woke up at 2:30am full of energy, and I was fully productive until I had the run-in with my father mid-way through the night which threw off my mood. I fell asleep for an hour on my keyboard at 10am, and then I went to school. I was irritible and antisocial most of the day.

Tonight at 9pm I got sleepy tired again, which means that my body got liked the idea of an early bedtime. The only problem is that I was in the middle of a class which ended at 9:55pm. If I must get to bed every night at the same time, then I will need to set my bed time at 11:30pm, although I'm not sure if going to bed every other night at 9pm will mess with my clocks. I will play with the sleeping times until I get it right.

Ear Pain From High Pitched TV Sounds

Holy sh**! Doesn't my dad ever sleep??? It's 4:30am and he's walking around. I just had to chase him out of my room. "Don't talk to me in the middle of the night," I barked at him when he came into my room and started a conversation seeing that I was busy working. Now I'm all frustrated and I have a headache. Damn. I feel like I have no privacy here. I can't wait until I get a job and have my own place. I'm 28 years old, I shouldn't be living with my father, it's my fault for being here. Maybe if he had something intelligent to say or if I felt that he respected my boundaries, I'd hear him out -- but his conversations are always so dull and without substance. I'll be annoyed for the next half hour or so, I know it.

I wish I was more independent and financially stable. I tell people that it's a $10,000 decision to live on my own this year. I can get that money as a school loan at the snap of a finger. Each time I consider it, I have 20 people who tell me that its a bad idea and that I should save my money because I'll need it when I get married and when I start working. I pray every day for the day to come where I move out of here.

The Bad Son

PS - Now his goddam tv is blasting upstairs. I can hear the high pitched frequency noice which gives me a headache. I am very sensitive to these sounds -- that is one reason why I hate televisions. Even with the sound off, they are so f***** noisy and they hurt my ears and cause my moods to go all out of balance. Can anyone make the pain stop???

9/11 Picture; Compliments to BackSpin.

I liked this cartoon [here]. Compliments to BackSpin for posting it on his site, and Credits to Bill Day, the genius cartoonist.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Little Experiment -- Wake The Dawn.

[I don't feel this entry is blogworthy. I'm writing it as a diary entry.]

I'm not sure what's going on with my energy level. Its dipping and my eyes are closing. I'm getting tired, and it is only 7:30pm. This Shabbos, I read in the beginning of the Shulchan Auruch (Jewish law) that a Jew should "wake up the dawn," meaning that he should wake up before the sun comes up, namely, 2am -- and use that early morning time to study Torah. By the way, when I read this the first time many years ago, I was told that its not the custom for Jews to do this anymore.

Because I'm not sure what's going on with me, I'm going to go along with the energy pattern and go to sleep now (8pm) before I get another burst of energy in an hour or so and before I zombie through the night hours doing absolutely nothing. Let's see if I can wake up. It will be my little experiment. If I do wake up, I would love to study some Torah, but even better, I'd love to catch up on the work I haven't been doing this past week because time and me haven't been getting along quite nicely. Let's see what happens. I'll let you know my results tomorrow.


PS - OH!! And I'm excited about this!! I took the written exam to get a motorcycle learner's permit and I passed! I am excited about this for the sole purpose that I set out as a goal to do it, and now that I've reached that goal. I am very proud of this accomplishment.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Diary Entry - Crashing From Euphoric High

[This diary entry is more for my records. Pardon its appearance.]

Status: I think I'm crashing from my high from a few days ago. I don't know how long I've been up, but yesterday was the peak of my euphoria. Today I woke up having trouble focusing and my energy dropped through the floor. I couldn't participate in class or focus on any of the conversations I had. Everything was and still is a fog. I am also feeling irritable.

Today's Activities: I bought poles from Eddie Bauer's customer service for my new tent (which surprisingly was missing them). $40. I thought of an organizing system for my palm pilot to-do list and re-arranged my calendar into categories and my categories into icons and color shading. I ate rice today, and had a hot pastrami sandwich at school. My morning was shot -- I couldn't focus at all. I missed all my alarm clocks, and I woke up at 11am, so I couldn't go to the DMV to take my test to get the motorcycle learners permit like I wanted to. I still think it is a smart and economical decision to learn how to ride. I contacted a riding school and found out which dates they are offering their classes. I practiced piano today but got frustrated because my playing sounded dull.

Conversation With Friend About Religion: I had an emotional conversation with a friend of mine who thought I was being irrational for avoiding my yeshiva friends. I told him I was afraid they would judge me for being the person I've become and he said that is stupid because I am an icon for all the religious people in this school, and I'm probably the most religious guy here. He also said that my being religious in spite of the obvious adversity I face on a daily basis has been a motivating factor for so many people. He also told me that the law school lifestyle I chose is not conducive [I am sure that I spelled this wrong] for the religious kind of life I was taught to live in yeshiva, and to get through law school, just based on our time constraints, many parts of being religious will necessarily drop away. But he thinks that the fact that it bothers me is a good thing and it shows that I still have the desire to live a proper religious life, and I have made a high standard to live up to; after all, I have been trained in Crown Heights, the Lubavich Center of the world! Of course I will feel bad when I deviate by wearing colored shirts or not walking around with my black hat. I felt that even he wasn't seeing how far I've fallen in my observance.

Didn't Go Out Tonight: Oh, and being that it is Thursday night and supposedly everyone will be out at the bars, I decided that I didn't want to go out. I don't know if I was affected by the conversation with my friend, or that I am spooked that someone saw me last week at the bar who I am trying to be a role model for when it comes to religion, or that in halacha, third time is a chazakah.

I might also be upset that I didn't get what I thought I would from going out because I was sad that last week, nobody wanted to dance with me so I danced alone which made me feel lonely and sad. I also was seeking out attention last week which made me feel vulnerable and needy, and I didn't like feeling like that -- not alone in a bar with strangers and law school acquaintances.

I went out to dance, and nobody wanted to dance last time. That kind of defeated the purpose of breaking halacha to go out. I don't want to seduce people, and I fear that if I were to go out again, that is what would be next. It bothered me that I was thinking of acting on lascivious thoughts about being with women; usually I can distract myself and tell myself that being abstinent is a good thing, but I didn't care and I was bothered that I probably couldn't get any if I wanted to, and if I did, I would feel terrible because I made the decision that I would save myself for my wife, and I didn't want to ruin that because it is too important to me. So I didn't go out.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Global Prosperity Group - Pyramid Scam

While thinking about Katrina, I calmed down and realized that I don't have problems. I am just a spoiled little 28 year old brat who hasn't made it on his own yet and expects the perfect life to be rewarded to him just because he took the effort to avail himself of the education that would be required for him to succeed in his chosen profession. Okay, talking in third person is weird.

My biggest success stories come from my biggest failures. Somehow they make me unique. Not many people lose their life savings in college on a home-based business while prospecting on the phone from morning until evening and traveling to Aruba to meet tax protesters who are now in jail. I was part of the biggest MLM scam of all, which went by the names of Global Prosperity Group, Institute of Global Prosperity (IGP), Helping International, and many other organizations who went under because of mismanagement by the people who were running the groups.

We sold information. We sold courses covering topics such as asset protection, trusts, complex business organizations, and dealt with shady investors, tax protestors, and other offshore companies who wanted to scam us out of every dollar we would ever fraudulently make either through our sales or through the hundreds of dollars we would pour into buying leads each month through ProSTEP or any of the turn-key postcard lead generation systems. My phone bills averaged over $1,500 per month, and my advertising budget averaged $500 per week.

With hindsight, I realize now that I was over my head in a tax-shelter scheme that was later infiltrated by the IRS and the FBI, and many of my friends went to jail. I suppose I would have been a target too, but despite all my work, I was a failure at it and I couldn't turn a profit, so by virtue of my poverty, I wasn't able to break any laws. However, I did spend $6,250 (plus another $2,000 for airfare, lodging, and expenses) to attend their offshore seminar in Aruba. I was there in 1997, the year before the FBI infiltrated the meetings and made their arrests.

While I was standing in the hotel in Aruba with a glass of Champagne in my hand with the owners of the association, Zoe Lamantia and David Struckman (the owners of the group) were talking with me. They said "wow, if I were your age [19, then] doing what you are doing now, I cannot even begin to imagine how much I could make." I felt proud because I believed that I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. I was going to be rich and I worked hard at it. I was going to make it.

Unfortunately, I ran out of cash and credit and I couldn't continue to advertise, and the long distance company shut down my phone because I couldn't generate enough revenue to keep it all going. All my friends told me that I was involved in a scam and that I was brainwashed, but I was convinced that I was on the elite track and that I was going to generate $2,000 to $10,000 per week, as long as I continued working the business as I was taught to. I went broke and was forced to shut down. It was shortly afterwards that my friends went to jail for many federal crimes, and I went to law school to find out what they did wrong.

Hence, now you understand where the name Zoe Strickman comes from. These were my heros, and even though as people they were criminals, they instilled within me a faith that one doesn't need to belong to the system and follow its rules to be successful. It is not an irony that I am now fully back "in" the system, when at one point I could have been described as being completely "out" of the system. However, rejoining the slaves with the j-o-b ("just over broke") life was my choice, although I have always been ambivalent to the authorities in society that keep most people in line.

Note: Even though I am not proud of being part of this association, as you can see from this link to a page that described the Global Prosperity Group scam here, as a teenager, I was way over my head. I thank G-d every day for my failure in this venture, because from where I was standing when I was involved in this organization, I didn't know right from wrong and had I been given the opportunity to succeed and move forward with this business, I would have continued working it day and night. Again, I thank G-d for my failure.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I must get out of this house or I'll die here.

I was thinking that one can get upset with a situation or a person for so long until something changes inside oneself to make him feel like he must get out or else he'll die.

I was laying in my bed this morning listening to my Holosync tape when I realized that when I start to remove my computer from the docking station, it makes a beeping noise akin to the noise a heart monitoring machine would make.

So I made it do the "beep beep" sound, and then I had it turn into a flatline sound that one hears when a person dies. I thought to myself that one day that will be me. I will be in a hospital hooked into one of these machines, and one day I will die and that will be it. What will come of all the knowledge I sought out during my time here? What will have been the purpose for all the learning and the working? I'm going to die one day.

On another note, I am sincerely tired of living at my dad's house. Every creek in the house and every footstep sends anger up my spine. This is eating me up. I have resorted to closing and locking my door to keep my dad out, but all I have done is isolate myself.

Last night my dad asked me if I could go into my room and close the door for the night because he had his girlfriend downstairs. He wanted to fuck her while I was home. I was sincerely horrified, and I told him that it is not okay ask me this when she is right there downstairs, and he should have given me some notice so that I could arrange to get out of the house or be somewhere else. The woman is asleep upstairs now and my dad is walking around.

It occurred to me that as much as I consider myself to have mental problems, it is highly likely that I am overwhelmed with stress from this situation. It occurred to me that my father might be retarded, and that his mental disease is what is driving me crazy. I spoke to him a few days ago and I asked him to clean up his mess in the house -- the piles of shirts on the backs of the chairs, the piles of unopened mail, the shit from the bird on the floor, the empty plastic cups and used silverware laying on the table -- to my amazement, he looked me in the eye and said "I don't know what you are talking about -- the house is clean."

The house is not clean. There is mold everywhere; the refrigerator has rotten fruits and vegetables and unfinished leftovers from months ago that are growing funky things that I wouldn't be surprised if I could have a hallucinogenic experience if I sniffed some of that stuff. Until I cleaned the shower two weeks ago, it was black from stuff growing on it. It even grew on our toothbrushes and on our shampoo bottles. There are stains on the carpet from spilled food. There are papers lying everywhere. There are totes filled with junk that he hasn't gone through and probably will never go through. I could go on, but I am making myself upset.

In my heart I should just throw his crap out, but 1) I don't want the aggravation because more mess will come in its place, 2) my father will easily get used to the idea of me cleaning up after him -- he has already, 3) it's not my house, and it bothers me that I will never be able to control him or his mess. My mother couldn't either when she was married to him, why should I be able to?

Anyway, I think it was wrong of him to bring someone to fuck while I was home. In fact, he's fucking her right now above my room. I can tell because my ceiling is shaking. How inappropriate is that?? Didn't anyone ever teach him manners?? My biggest fear is that one day I will turn into him. I must get out of here.

I'll let you in on a little secret. Do you know that last year, I was so stressed out that I considered dropping out of law school and I was going to check myself into a hospital? I was considering being one of those "voluntary" patients who check themselves into mental institutions [usually seen in horror shows] because they are unable to cope with the things life has given them and they need a temporary "time-out" from life because they fear that they'll have a nervous breakdown.

If I don't get out of this house and get a job soon, I fear that I will no longer be able to deal with the poisonous environment my dad's house yields. I'm dying more and more inside each day being here. I just can't afford my own place yet, which is why I need to get a job. I will plan to start working as soon as the holidays are over. I will start sending out resumes and contacting firms this week and next week. I need to get out of here or else I'll die.

Story of how a book once found me.

I have been impressed by the correspondences I have been having with Scott regarding Shamanism and Judaism. He originally responded to me on my Cloud Busting article, where I put a few videos online so that anyone who wants can download them to see what I've been talking about all this time. I checked last night, and the links are still active; it seems they have a 7-day shelf-life before the server wipes them off.

Anyway, he has been pointing me in interesting directions helping me to understand these experiences, and his last e-mail reminded me of a synchonicity experience where a few years ago a book found me. I am sharing this e-mail with you below because I feel that perhaps the information can be useful one day.

Dear Scott,

You just led me back to a book I stumbled upon one day [in 2002] in a rare book store -- I paid a dollar for a book called "Bioenergetics," by Alexander Lowen, MD. (ISBN 0-14-004322-5) sells it for $0.01 used here.

Here's the story. I don't know why, but I was attracted to a book store one day while driving in my car to visit my grandmother. I stopped my car and I walked into the bookstore, wanting to know what caught my attention. I closed my eyes, raised my hands (obviously making sure nobody would notice what I was doing), and followed my intuition towards a pile of books. I went through the pile, with my eyes still closed, and I picked up a book -- in my head, I got an "ah ha!" kind of feeling, so I opened my eyes and saw this book that was in my hands. The title was Bioenergetics. There was a man on the cover with an aura, surrounded by a Star of David. I thought it was funny because it felt like I was attracted to this book, as if the book called out to me.

I spent the next few days reading through the book which described Wilhelm Reich, his orgone theory, and his machines that he built to bust clouds. I looked at the machine and it seemed silly, as if it was one of those home-made sauna machines. The book instantly lost credibility as soon as it started talking about how every emotional disturbance was based on sexual frustration and so I put down the book. Yet I remember thinking and believing (in my own twisted mind) that I was Wilhelm Reich in a past life, because I knew these stories I was reading before I read them. I also got spooked when I saw his picture because I immediately recognized that picture as if it were me in my thoughts. I've seen him before.

Nevertheless, I still put down the book and never picked it up again. The idea of orgone energy seems silly to me, maybe because of the name or its simplicity. Yet the fact that you mention it, in the context of Shamanism and Judaism with the book you suggested (Magic of the Ordinary, by Gershon Winkler, ISBN 1556434448 -- I have been reading it on Google Print), and I have decided to pick up the Bioenergetics books again and go through it, this time with a little bit more credibility.

I realize that looking at my library of books that I have acquired over the years, the answers to my questions have probably been surrounding me for years. But I have never taken the time to go through all these books because I keep acquiring new ones and moving onto new topics of interest. Wouldn't it be nice to stick to one thing and get one answer, rather than having my fingers on the trigger of hundreds of mind-boggling concepts, never fully understanding anything in its complete form?

I will read the article and I will get back to you as soon as I do. Thank you for the reference; I am glad we are in touch. I appreciate the information you are sharing with me. I hope this can lead to some answers, and I also hope that somehow I will be able to contribute something in return to enrich your life as well.

Warm regards,
Zoe Strickman

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My Selfish Wager with G-d.

Chassidic versus Ultra-Orthodox: I suppose "Chassidic" refers to an association with one of the Chassidic sects, i.e. Bobov, Satmar, Lubavich, Ger, etc. Identifying with one of the groups as I understand it means that you follow their Rebbe, which means that you follow their minhagim (customs), you study their chassidus (esoteric studies), and if they are strict or lenient on certain halachas (laws), so are you.

Although rare, I suppose you can be Chassidic without being ultra-orthodox (UO), UO meaning that you follow all the halachas to the highest degree. I suppose this state of being Chassidic without being ultra-orthodox isn't a good state to be in, because it means that you look like one of them, but you're not up to par with the expectations of the group. After all, no Chassidic group or Rebbe would say that it is okay to go to bars and dance with women, or that its okay to skip davening (praying) or wearing tefillin from time to time.

However, I suppose from the point of view of baal teshuvas today (those who have accepted religious laws upon themselves after living secular lives), most of the time they return to orthodoxy through a Chassidic sect (i.e. either through Lubavichers doing "mivtzoim", or through the other groups doing "kiruv"). However, I suppose non-religious secular life is kind of like a scar -- it never completely goes away. Therefore, I'd say that in today's times where a majority of religious people today are baal teshuvas or children of baal teshuvas, it is quite common to be Chassidic, but not necessarily ultra-orthodox.

Breaking Out Of The Chassidic Shidduch System:
Anyway, thanks for the good wishes on the shidduch. I haven't gotten her number yet or said okay to the meeting. I am having issues by having an arranged meeting without the medical genetic pre-tests (Dor Yeshorim) for Tay Sachs, etc., and without my rabbi's consent or my shadchans checking up on her and her family, it wouldn't be a proper shidduch and per social pressure, our meeting would be not by the rules [not Jewish laws, but social norms of how men and women meet in the Chassidic world]. By meeting this girl, I break through a dating barrier that has been set up around me like a barb-wired fence and electrified for almost four or five years now, because this date would be through someone of another sect who didn't go through the pre-sorting process. In other words, she wouldn't be "good enough" because she wouldn't be accustomed to the in-group's rules and belief systems. This would just be a "set-up date."

If I like her, then I have to face my rabbi and somehow break it to him that I broke out of the Chassidic way of shidduch dating and I met someone who I'd like to marry. I know I wouldn't get his approval, and they would think badly of me and they would think they've failed in their trying to get me to be in their system. No matter how hard I tried, I get the suspicion that we'd never really fit in and be trusted.

This is harsh writing, and actually thinking about it makes me see the crazyness of it all. While this is only my biased observation, I know the description I have layed out here is not normal, but this is the bad that comes with the good of the group that I have associated with.

On another note, I enjoy my association with being Chassidic, because I like the belief systems, the theories, and the Chassidus (Kabbalah) that they teach. They don't joke around about being religious; I am the one who is not observing and not holding halachically (per Jewish law) the way I should be. Funny enough, according to most Young Israel Shuls (Synagogues) and other orthodox Jews, I am very strict in many ways in my observances, and lax in areas I shouldn't be. I am my own contradiction.

My Selfish Wager with G-d:
Yet as an answer to many of your questions of why I went out to the bar again, and why I decided not to be strict shomer-negiah (not touching women) anymore, b'kitzur (in short), in my own mind when I became religious and gave up my girlfriend who I loved and thought I would marry, I set a limit on how long I would wait for G-d to kick in and help me find a wife if I became religious. It was my personal deal that in my heart I made with him when I decided to go all the way, giving up everything that I built up until then. I held up my part of the bargain and stayed religious all the way, and I was very saddened when the deadline passed this May, 2005. The last shidduch didn't work out and in my heart, G-d was in breach.

Now I face the question as to what to do now. Obviously, you don't make contracts with G-d unless you're Moshe Rabbeinu, and I'm no Moses. Perhaps in my heart I fully observed for years with an "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude, and since all the yeshiva bochurim (students) were getting married one year after Yeshiva, so I set my limit at three-times that number to give G-d some leeway just in case I required more time to get married. That deadline past and I'm still single and I feel as if I did everything right keeping my part of the bargain.

I learned Torah every day (Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya, Rambam, Halacha, Gemara, and then some), I davened every day with kavannah (intent), I fully abstained from any sort of physical or intimate contact with women, I was careful to go to the mikveh even though there was no halachic requirement to do so, I kept my dress fully Chassidic, including wearing the big black hat, and I stood by my Rabbi and his family at the peril of my time and my grades and my youth of my precious twenties waiting every day for something to happen.

So now I don't know how to act, what to do, or even if I believe with emuna (faith) anymore. I'm starting to think G-d is ignoring me, or testing me. I am staying religious, but since the breach, I have been distancing myself from my Chassidic friends, and I have been focusing on my law school work and getting my life in order. This is ultra-selfish, I know, but I feel in my heart that I can't rely on G-d anymore, so I am doing what I need to do to get by, and I will be as religious as I can, and hopefully one day, he'll see that I am still religious after all this time of his abscence, and he will reward me with a good shidduch and a good life. If he doesn't kick in, then I'll have to live a meaningful life being as religious as I can as a wager and a bet that there is a G-d and an afterlife, and that there will be a reward for my staying religious my whole life.

This is my selfish wager. At least I'll still be religious.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I changed my mind. I hate my father and I hate everything about him. Since my last post, I downloaded the drivers for the modem he installed into the server and [thinking that I wouldn't get upset at him for messing with the system], I installed the drivers into the system, and then the server froze. Now I cannot get windows to boot. I have over 20 gigs of lifetime data on that machine. I would freak if I lost it.

I have a headache that I cannot describe and my blood is boiling. I have pain in my forehead and I want to hurt him. Why can't he leave my things alone? Why did he have to break my network? I just realized that my air conditioning is off. I want him to die.

I must move out of this house. Nothing is worth having someone else compromise your life and your time. I find that I spend most of my time here repairing or adjusting to the things he fucks up here. I must calm down. I must leave this house.

I hate the fact that as soon as I calm down and let this go, I will forget my anger as if it never happened. I hate the fact that I will forgive him and everything will be okay until the next time he pulls something like this. I feel so powerless and so helpless. I know this is over something stupid like a modem, but I am generalizing this and feeling that this is my life and my sanity he is fucking with. I wish I weren't here anymore.

[I will likely delete this message when I calm down and come to my senses.]

A Waste of A Second Bar Experience.

I am too tired to write about the whole night, but I'll give you the gist of it. I went out again thinking that the kind of dancing that happened last week would happen again. Wrong. The place was dead, and I was bored, and the night just wasn't how I expected it to be and I was disappointed.

I took a few drinks, and each beer I drank, I counted an hour before I knew I could drive. Nobody was dancing except for some snobby lesbian-looking girls and other girls who were dancing with themselves in the mirror. So I closed my eyes and I wished that I was dancing with someone who actually cared about dancing, and in my head in very small steps, I fantasized what it would be like to dance with someone who knew what she was doing.

Side note, being religious, I felt it was proper not to wear a white shirt, tzitzis (shirt fringes), and a kippah (head covering) to the bar. I didn't want to send the message that it was okay for a religious person to be there. So I wore an orange button down shirt that I got from Lord & Taylor with rolled up sleeves and a white tanktop with off-white suspenders holding up my black pants, and a beige West Point (army) baseball cap. I think I even looked Cuban; in fact, I was sure I looked Cuban.

Just as I was getting into dancing on my own, a FRUM (religious) friend from law school walked into the bar with another Jew who I have been trying to mekarev (bring closer to Jewish observance). He couldn't believe I was there -- it was awkward -- and I couldn't believe he was there. I told him not to judge me for being here and I continued dancing. He bought me a drink which put me over the 2:30am sober driving time [I estimated that the drink wouldn't leave my body making driving safe until 2:30am at 1 hour per shot of alcohol].

I danced with a girl who then asked me whether I was shomer negiah (whether I touched women). I told her that I am. She saw me trying to figure out the latin steps with the crappy club / bar music they were playing. She made a comment asking me if I was trying to figure out how to dance. I just agreed with her and our conversation ended because 1) I was a bit intoxicated and I couldn't understand what she was saying, 2) I was listening to the music and my mind was somewhere else, and 3) I couldn't hear her.

After the dance floor became empty again, I walked to where people were sitting and talking. I sat down at a table where I didn't know anyone. Three guys got very excited and asked me if I was Matisyahu, the Hasidic Regge Rapper. I thought their question was cute, because to secular people, all of us Lubavicher bearded guys look the same. I finally had a conversation with an ex-marine who told me that he just got into a motorcycle accident and that he's been thinking about G-d a lot lately, and he was glad that he saw me because by seeing me, he decided that he is going to become more religious because G-d saved his life. Could I have somehow had some good influence on another Jew right after sinning with booze, beer, and touching women while dancing? It would be funny if by hashgocha pratis (divine providence), reaching him was the reason this whole bar experience happened. His name was Aaron.

Anyway, I wasn't so thrilled with the night. In fact, I was so bored that I would have had more fun had I not gone. However, the moments of tonight (seeing other frum guy at bar, being asked if I was shomer negiah , being asked if I was Matisyahu, and if I wasn't, whether I knew him, and the conversation I had with a few friends from school about past drug experiences. So many people couldn't believe that I was out, however, because the scene was so boring, I don't know if I will continue this rebellion with drinking and going out. It's not Chossidish (a place that a religious person should be at). If I am sinning, I want to have fun sinning, and this wasn't fun. What is the purpose of committing a sin if the sin doesn't bring any enjoyment?

I practiced today for an hour what my "Piano Greatness" friend from high school taught me on the piano last night. I am starting to get it. It will take months to perfect these new techniques. I would have rather spent my night practicing. If I didn't do good for another Jew, tonight will have been a total waste.

I waited in my car for 30 minutes before driving home because I didn't want to get arrested for DWI. I had a conversation with my brother who was just coming home from a Green Day concert. I left at 2:30am, one hour after the bar closed, and half hour after I calculated that I was legally sober just in case I got pulled over [I have a tendency to attract police officers, so I wanted to be careful because after law school, I stand before the character and fitness board. Anything bad I get caught doing, they see.]

"Non-Shidduch" Shidduch Proposal by Professor

I plan on talking about two topics tonight. The first topic is of a modern-shidduch, and the other is about my bar experience tonight.

As for the shidduch, my professor who is a modern-orthodox guy -- a really good hearted guy -- knows this girl who he has been trying to set me up with for over eight months now. I originally turned him down because I'm not looking for a modern-orthodox girl, I'm looking for a Chassidic girl. This becomes important when it comes to issues such as tznius, covering one's hair, family purity, and the overall yiddishkeit (Judaism) of the household. I can't see myself wanting to live the life with those leniencies built into the picture. I can't live that life.

Yet two factors persuaded me to consider this shidduch. Firstly, I trust my professor because we're friends and I trust his judgment, especially because he has been so sincere about us meeting for such a long time. If he believes that we are that good together, then maybe she is worth a look. After all, my Rabbi and his wife are coming up empty, and they literally haven't had anyone since Canada back in March of this year. The shidduch experience from this past May (before China) came from a girl who saw my online profile, and following my instructions to call my shadchan (matchmakers) and arrange a shidduch, she flew in from London to [I thought] meet me, and we dated until she ended it because I was too religious. I've heard that one before. So pretty much, my Rabbi and his wife (both loving people) have come up empty, and every girl I've met through them (all seven in five years) had either physical serious health problems (i.e. diabetes, nebuch), or some eating disorder, or some serious psychological problems coming from rape or abuse, or they simply weren't religious and they lied that they were.

So if this girl that my professor has been urging me daily [for eight months now] to "just give her a call and have lunch with her" is 1) normal, 2) frum (religious), and 3) has a good heart and 4) can carry on a good conversation, then maybe I've been looking in the wrong place and I'll consider meeting her.

It was also the casual nature of "give her a call" that convinced me to agree to this. After all, she's heard all about me, she's seen pictures of me online, she's seen the beard, and she knows about my frumkeit (religious Chassidic observances) and she still wants to meet me. This has to be a good thing, because I would think that by the nature of my lifestyle, that would preclude a less religious girl from even considering dating me.

Plus, because the date wouldn't be a "yes or no" shidduch, since we are more like being "set up" rather than put in a room together to digitally figure out if we are marriage material, this kind of matchmaking seems more lax and if I don't like her, I don't have to immediately cut her off, break off the shidduch, and never see her again as would happen in a real shidduch. If we are not meant to be together, maybe she can be a friend, or if either of us is not sure, we don't have a deadline to make a decision as if we were drawing lines in the sand. Plus, at this point, a frum female platonic friendship would be a good thing to have now in my life.

I would also posit that my professor knows me better than my Rabbi in some ways, and not in others. For example, my professor sees me every day. He sees my moods, my energy levels, my enthusiasm, my religiousness, my non-religiousness, my study habits, and my daily lifestyle. My rabbi knows me as the yeshiva bochur (rabbinical student) who is having difficulties adjusting to post-yeshiva Chassidic life.

I think I will call her and have lunch with her. My rabbi and his wife will be upset because they didn't get a chance to call up her family and her contacts and check her out first, but you know what?? I feel that what they think I need and what I actually need are not necessarily the same thing, and while I can't lie to them, they don't want to see the regular guy that is standing in front of them. I am frum, I am Chassidic, I am Lubavich, but I am secular and along with that come certain sins and belief systems that have never and might never go away.

Anyway, so that's the first topic that is on my mind. Tonight's bar experience will be in the next e-mail.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Piano Greatness

It is such a relief when you for a while you think you are the best at something, and then you find someone who is sincerely better than you.

I had a friend in high school who must have been the best jazz piano player that I have ever seen. His playing was completely by ear, and he understood the music in a way that baffled me. Most, if not all of what I play, I learned from him.

The last time I saw him was in 1996. He would teach me techniques, and I would practice them feverishly until I understood them and mimicked them adequately. He left me with a few things to practice almost nine years ago, and I have been practicing since. Over the years I have become proficient in my playing, and I have amazed many people with my -- his -- playing.

A few months ago I searched him out, and after many weeks of phone tag, this week I called him; we met up tonight at his house.

I warned him when he sat me down to hear me play that I was like a time capsule of his playing as it was ten years ago. When I sat down and started to play, he stumbled back in disbelief. Stunned, he told me, "I've never heard my music played back to me like that. If anyone heard you playing, they would think it was me." I was overjoyed with the compliment.

He listened to me play, and then he jammed with me on the right side of the piano -- this was some of the most exciting music I had ever heard. There was power behind the keys, and synergy in our playing.

When he sat down to play, he showed me what he'd learned over the last ten years. I was not only amazed, I was humbled. I confided in him how good it felt to hear someone play who was better than me. After all, I did learn everything I knew from him, but since my time learning from him, I have not had a teacher that could even get close to his caliber. So, since we last saw each other, I have been practicing regularly trying to experiment and improve my methods, and so far I have never found anyone who could come close to match my (his) playing style and technique to teach me what to do next; hearing my friend play the same music tonight using the same keys as I used, but being magnitudes beyond what I can even imagine playing, warmed me with humility.

We literally spent hours playing the piano tonight. I couldn't get enough, and I'm sure he enjoyed it too because nobody has ever come close to playing at his past level as I have. He taught me a few new techniques to raise the sophistication of my playing, [infra], and I plan to get to work on these right away.

I am warmed to be privy to talent such as his.

[For my notes: Work on playing two new leading tunes on the left hand (C,E,G,A,A#), (C&G,C&A), and in a C chord blues reverse progression (C,G,B-flat), if I replace the third C chord with E-flat,D,C (don't forget the pinky at G; replace C with pinky), it will sound better. Also, when I play an F blues chord progression, replace the F with the C below it, and do that for other chord progressions for a cooler sound. Also, learn to play with my eyes closed because then I can soften my playing of the notes and feel the music, adjust my playing to a beat rather than hitting the keys methodically; C&G, D&E are good keys to play in. Play around also with E-flat and especially B-flat.]