Friday, May 30, 2008

Am I a tassel?

A month ago I interviewed my breaking mentor, Papa Rich (aka Break Easy aka Richie Santiago)for a profile that ran in the Daily News. The article was only 500 words and we spoke for nearly two hours. Most of what he said did not appear in the piece.
During our conversation I learned that his crew, Breaking In Style (BIS), was home to not only b-boys and b-girls, but DJs, spoken word poets and graffiti artists. A novice b-girl myself (I’ve been breaking for less than two years) I became excited at the prospect of contributing to the crew in a different capacity. I asked Papa Rich if I could be BIS’s chronicler. “Sure,” he said. “You’ll probably be the tassel on the side that sways, looking in from the outside but capturing the whole.”
I took umbrage at his response. “Why do I have to be off to the side?” I asked. “Why can’t I be part of the tapestry?”
“You can be whatever you want,” he quickly responded. Papa Rich had not meant to offend me and we moved on from the topic.
But ever since then, I’ve been asking myself- Am I a tassel?
By that I mean, am I hovering on the outside of the breaking community, for some reason unable to break in?
I just might be.
As a Sabbath observant Jew, I cannot travel to attend Friday night or Saturday jams, which means I get to see very few battles in person. When I arrive to practice on Mondays, the other b-people (not a real word) are discussing the weekends’ battles and parties- who entered what, who did something fresh- as I sit off to the side and stretch and listen and wish that I could’ve gone even though I heartily enjoyed my time at synagogue and Shabbat meals that weekend.
Perhaps Break Easy called me a tassel for that reason. Or maybe he was responding to why I was in his office in the first place. I was there as a writer and as such, I need to have the ability to remove myself from the present in order to layer the action with insight.
I guess I am a tassel. There’s probably little I can do about it. Even if I can never be fully part of the action, I plan to keep swinging my little frayed ends to the tapestry.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Check it out!

To my 1.5 readers- check out this event. I may even enter the battle- it would be my first one.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This past Shabbat, I was sitting in the pews of the Heschel School waiting for Darchei Noam's Shabbat minchah services to begin when a young woman approached me and asked if I wanted the third aliyah. Flustered and flushed, I shook my head. "Don't worry," she said, "I understand." She looked to my left and asked my friend, Rebecca who assented.

"I've never done it before," I whispered to Rebecca.

"Really?" She looked shocked. "Go up there and do it," she insisted.

"But I don't even know what I'm supposed to do up there," I said.

"They have the brachot
right next to the Torah." right there."

I shook my head. "No. Maybe next time."

As I watched Rebecca rise and take what should've been my aliyah. As she sang the blessings. As she kissed the Torah. My eyes watered. I have spent my entire life in Jewish day schools, in and out of shuls. I am fluent in Hebrew. I know the blessings. I even know the cantillations. But I was too afraid to go up there and do what should have been second nature to me.


Why, if I knew my lines, was I so self-conscious about saying them?

Monday, May 5, 2008

She-Ra, Princess of Power

When I was six, I wanted to be She-Ra. I watched the movie where she was united with He Man over and over. And I had a She-Ra figurine. She was my favorite gymnast though her plastic body was hardly suited to the sport. She-Ra snapped at the midsection, but I put her together with scotch tape.

Today, the New York Post Style Pages made my little girl dreams come true. If you've ever fantasized of dressing like your favorite heroine, check out the spread that also includes the Powerpuff Girls, Captain America (though he's not technically a heroine), and Danger Mouse.

This is probably the most worthwhile thing I read in the Post, well, ever. Not that I actually buy the Post. I happen to see the spread while reading over a fellow commuter's shoulder.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My future husband

I always knew that I would marry a gymnast and here he (finally) is. Noam Shaham is an elite gymnast from Kfar Saba, Israel and he competes for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

In this video, he speaks about the high bar element named after him in the Code of Points, A Kolman (full twisting double somersault) caught in a mixed grip. He says that his parents are very proud because their name "Shaham" appears in the Code.

My favorite part- when Noam discusses his skill, using a cute stuffed dog as a visual aid. "His arms are not exactly long enough...He does two somersaults with a twist and then another half."

The announcer goes onto say that Noam's skill is so difficult that it is even hard for him (the originator). "After four tries, he finally succeeded."

The last part discusses his collegiate career at Penn State. "It is not at all like anything we have in Israel. The popularity of gymnastics is much greater in the U.S. than anything we have here. Parents attend [competitions], everyone in the [school] shirts, their faces painted. Everyone is screaming."

When visiting the White House with the rest of the victorious Penn State team, President Bush demonstrated that he could do one chin up.

After he completes his studies at Penn, he's thinking of trying for London 2012.

Here's the just the "Shaham":

It's Late...

What’s it gonna take?

For the third consecutive night, I’m awake past four a.m. Unfortunately, this is not new. I have a decade long history of insomnia but this- so many consecutive nights without sleep- is about as bad as it has ever been (excepting the post-spinal fusion surgery recovery time). So what’s going on now?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working feverishly on my masters thesis because on Tuesday, it is due. I will then be the proud recipient of an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School.

When I was asked over the course of my graduate work what I planned to do with an MFA in Creative Writing, I laughed and sang What do you do with a BA in English? (which I also have from the University of Pennsylvania) from the musical Avenue Q, replacing the word BA, with MFA. They understood that I had no idea. They laughed, thinking that I was fine with the uncertainty, that I actually believed it to be funny.

It is not and now I can’t sleep. Upon my roommate’s recommendation, I’ve tried drinking alcohol before bed and still nothing. During the day, I can barely keep awake to write and I worry about how I’m ever going to finish my thesis on time. But at night, it's a different concern. I worry about what’s going to happen after I finish my thesis on time.

What then?