Camels, Climbing and Crashing :)

3:00 AM.

I was freshly showered, curling up in bed, lights out, dreaming softly.

6:30 AM.

I was jerked awake by the sound of my Madricha’s voice, blasting over the loudspeaker.

“Attention girls! The bus is leaving at 7:00! Get up, get dressed, and get downstairs!”

I groaned, rolled over, counted on my fingers from 3 until 6, added the half hour, and nearly cried. I did whatever I could to avoid coming out of bed, but finally realized that if I wanted to catch our bus, I had better get a move on. Jumping off of my bunk bed in an impossibility if I like my legs the way they are, so I did the usual ladder climb; holding on for dear life, my bare feet gripping the cold, irregularly shaped metal rungs, I landed with a thump on the stone floor of my room that resembles an ice-skating rink. I skidded to a halt in front of my flip-flops, struggled into them and slumped off to the bathroom.

7:10 AM

After frantic packing (throwing sunscreen, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, chap-stick and some water into my backpack, along with my camera, cell phone and possibly some other useless junk) I ran to the bus. Funny enough, I was going with my friend, and we stepped out of our building into the cold Israel air, made an immediate right and walked half a block to where our tour bus usually waits, but lo and behold, it wasn’t there. In confusion, we turned and headed back to our building only to discover the bus was- get this- parked right outside all along; we hadn’t even looked to the left. Oh, the things we do on three and a half hours of sleep.

 

Skipping time. I slept for a while on the bus, we got to a random spot, davened and ate some strawberry yogurt, chocolate pudding, and a baguette. I usually get nauseous on the bus after eating, so I just had a yogurt, saved some food for later, and went back to sleep.

I woke up to a bunch of white plateau-looking mountains. This is the usual scenery in the Dead Sea area- all around the Ein Gedi area, and since this was our third time travelling to the Dead Sea, I wasn’t too impressed. We climbed some sort of stairs-hike, took a thousand pictures, and got back on the buses.

I slept again, as this is obviously my favorite pastime (and I’m generally sleep-deprived) and then we arrived at the camel riding…place.

It was a little after 12:00 PM, possibly 1:00.

We all used the bathroom, and waited around as the Bedouins loaded us up on the camels. My friend and I were partners, as there are two to a camel, but there were no camels left for us, so we had to wait while they went and woke one up.

Our camel was led into the corral roaring and rearing, yawning, chomping and making a terrifying racket. He refused to kneel so that we could mount him, and it took two Bedouins (one with a stick) and a stable hand to get him to cooperate.

We discovered later that he was “ah-yeif” which means tired in Hebrew, but at the time we thought he was INSANE. Everyone was freaking out, but the rule is, if someone screams while on the camels, they get taken off, no questions asked.

So my friend and I held our breaths, and together, we mounted the camel. Camels rise in a three-step process, which I can’t even describe because it is so confusing, but YouTube probably has a delightful movie, so head there to figure it out.

Our camel rose slowly, but jerkily, and I was sitting in the front, holding on for dear life. My friend and I were part laughing and  part crying as our camel was attached by string to the last one in line. Our camel had his face in the girl in front of us’s camel, and she was petrified that he would bite her, but he didn’t, which shocked me. A Bedouin took the lead rope and all the camels began to  clomp around a lame, smooth trail that took about 30 minutes. I am so happy the school payed for this experience, because I would beat myself up if I dished out money for camel riding.

I basically sat for thirty long, painful minutes, getting bumped around and commenting on our ridiculous looking animal. We named him MAD, for Mangy Anorexic Dragon. He looked beat up, skeletal skinny, dirty, and deranged. The Dragon bit came from the insane sounds he made.

I’m getting dizzy just thinking about the dismounting part, and I must conclude with the fact that I like horse-back riding a LOT better. (And I don’t even LIKE horse-back riding.)

After our non-exciting and painful camel tour, we loaded up onto the bus again, where I…how did you guess? Slept!

We ate lunch somewhere, then loaded up again (I think I only snoozed this time.)

Then we went to some place that has awesome colorful rocks which can be smashed into fine sand, so we filled up vials of different colored sand, working mindlessly for who knows how long. We davened Mincha there as well.

Back on the bus (you got it, slept again! I probably got a full 8 hour nap in 🙂 ) we drove to the Dead Sea, pulled out our food, and had an awesome BBQ of chicken, hot-dogs and great food. We heard close to 30 army planes flying overhead, insanely low and extremely loud, positively petrifying, to be precise. But there’s an army base nearby  so I was reassured with that information.

After dinner, we went back to sem. You’re going to laugh, but I slept on the way home, too. I then planned out my weekend with my friend, which was futile because no one can have us for Shabbos (waiting to hear back from my uncle in PT) and our biking in Binyomina plans got cancelled.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that today rocked, literally, ha ha, and I am looking forward to the rest of my vacation!

Keep UNraveling!

Summer Stuff

Meet Angelica Herman. Suburb girl, choppy, windblown hair, and a cap that helps her think. She’s hitting the surf at Miami Beach as well as all the surrounding beaches, for two weeks in July.

She will then travel, in all her dark-skin-bleached-hair glory, to the greatest city in America, aka, New York, where she will hold a part-time high powered office job. Not sure if that makes sense, but it sounds good.

She will attend cocktail parties, go clubbing, and tour the city along with the other hot, sweaty tourists. Angy will meet the man of her dreams, marry him, and live a long, successful life.

Meet her opposite, me.

Ok, ok, I am a suburb girl. But all similarity ends there. I will not be going to Florida anytime soon, nor will I be working in a high powered job. I might visit New York, but that won’t be for a while.

And my hair remains dark and my skin light, and I LIKE it that way…usually.

I’m just saying that I don’t have a steady paying job this summer, although I might get some babysitting jobs.

I do plan on being like Angy in the live a long successful life department.

My last babysitting job-the steady one- ends tomorrow.

The next day, Thursday, my family and I are going to jet-ski, swim, and boat on my mom’s friends lake, G-d willing!

I will spend this summer attempting to draw every day, party hard, workout, do schoolwork, and some other stuff.

Out of that list, working out is the only thing that gets crossed off for today.

Trying to keep this short here…

OH GOSH ITS 1:30 IN THE MORNING!

Keeping it short, all right!

PEACE!

Keep UNraveling!

And from Baltimore, Home :)

I know that most of  you are probably not too interested in the remainder of my travels, so I’ll just bore you to death with the details anyways. Call me mean, it’s my middle name.

After the Isreali Embassy on Thursday, I went to my friend’s house in Baltimore, went to her brothers baseball game, saw all her siblings and then went to sleep.

Friday was reasonably uneventful, calling my friends, helping out and generally bumming around.

Shabbos was really really nice. Friday night, my friend and I stayed up until 5 a.m. talking, which was great, and naturally, this event takes credit for the crazy large garbage bags suspended from my eyeballs. In case you were wondering.

Shabbos day, two nice couples ate at my friends house, and she and I hung out some more, took long walks, and went to a Homeschoolers shalosh seudos.

On Sunday (yeah, it’s going fast here for your sake, I took pity on you) we had to get up early for the Homeschool Conference. I don’t think I was up before 11 a.m.

But once I woke up I got to the Baltimore JCC as quickly as I could, to meet up with my anxious friends. Of course, not much was happening, seeing as the conference was for adults, except for the part where we spoke, so the four of us spent two hours in the women’s room beautifying ourselves.

My Detroit friend had joined my Baltimore friend, her sister and me for this momentous occasion, where we would speak on a Teen Panel.

I was totally nervous at first, but all in all, it went pretty well.

We sat at a table in front of around 20 people, and we answered commonly asked questions about homeschooling. The videos of us are painful for me to watch; I never knew I move my hands around that much when I talk.

But like I said, overall it was OK, and it sure felt good to collapse after that.

I have a feeling we went to another one of my friend’s brothers baseball games, but I can’t be too sure.

Monday came upon us way too quickly…ahh, Monday. After starting my day late as usual, I came downstairs and discovered preparations for a five year old boys birthday party well under way.

I did whatever I could to help out, and I must say that my friend outdid herself in the planning department.

The party was a smashing success and the cake was simply AMAZING. I am severly considering making a Photo Gallery so you can see what I meant.

My friend made the cake; in fact, she planned and prepared the entire party. You ROCK!

Well, after that exhausting day, my friend’s 14 year old sister informed me that their family loves me to pieces and they would rather I didn’t leave the next day, Tuesday, to Brooklyn, NY, as originally planned.

In a spurt of spontanuity most unbecoming of my ESFP nature-yeah right- I decided to stay. I quickly called my NY friend to cancel on her, and I called my mom’s old high school friend who had ever so sweetly offered to take me to the bus stop.

I stayed.

Unfortunately, my friend left to Israel that day, so I didn’t get to enjoy her company, although the rest of her adorable siblings ALMOST made up for it.

Tuesday we all drove to the airport in Virginia to see her off, and I never felt so numb when leaving that place. It was so weird to say goodbye to her but still be with her family.

On the way home, we drove through nearly four hours of traffic, stopping for water three times due to a massive heat wave. Naturally, their A/C had broken, which left us all creating little lakes and puddles of our own.

Yeah, I’m so rich, I own a lake. Of sweat, I mean. Ha ha. It sure wasn’t funny at the time.

BUT Baruch Hashem we made it to the 12 year old boy’s baseball game only a little late, and once again, I watched Little League baseball. I rawther developed a liking for it…either that, or the chocolate chip cookies that their grandmother gave us.

 

Wednesday came like a dream, because we went ice skating IN THE SUMMER! Don’t worry, it was indoors.

I learned how to almost-backskate, and I perfected my crossovers, but not the backwards ones.

I had a really great time with all the siblings, just living with them all. I miss them like crazy. And the 14 year old girl, my new friend, is so nice and sweet and amazing and always there for me…love that girl!

Anyways, Thursday was nice weather…a bike ride, some slurpees, a little league world series baseball game, and lots of packing. More slurpees, I stayed up until 2 a.m. or was it 3?

And then it was off the the Monsey Bus stop, where I realized, too late, that I had forgotten my iPod behind. Bummer.

I bussed to Boro Park, NY, stayed in Amnons Pizza for an hour trying to look inconspicous with a massive suitcase in one hand and a slice in the other, and then I took a bus to Monsey, NY.

I stayed at my grandparents. That was quite an interesting weekend; my mom had flown in thursday night from Detroit to be with me, and she and my 17 year old aunt had gotten in a fender bender that day. Thank G-d they were both OK.

Also, a different one of my aunts had given birth to a baby boy a couple of days earlier-on her kitchen floor. Don’t ask.

Anyways, like I said, interesting weekend.

My grat-grandparents are living with my grandparent,s so I got to talk to them and spend time with them, which was super nice.

They are adorable together.

Gosh this is getting long.

OK, super quick.

Motzei Shabbos I stole half of my aunts closet which only turned out to be like three things, went to the Purple Pear where we spent $16 on a delicious toothpick, and went to bed too late.

Sunday Morning. Dum Dum Dum DUM.

The Kaplun Foundation Luncheon in Battery Park, Manhattan.

We took a cab.

We got there late, but it made no difference.

It was quaint.

Good food, hoity-toity waitors (who do you think you are, you’re barely scraping the minimum wage bin, ya ****) who were actually quite nice, and interesting people who were my competition.

Boring speeches. Actually, some of them were decent.

Whatever, point is, I didn’t win.

They announced the six finalists from each age group, younger first, and then an hour later, the older.

The last name they said would be the Grand Prize Winner, and guess who’s name they called SECOND to last? Mine.

So I was getting more nervous by the moment, because they were calling everyone’s name except for mine and someone else’s, but then they called mine, and THEN they called hers. Interesting how the ORDER of calling someones name determines their fate…

But I wasn’t upset at all becasue I hadn’t counted on winning.

Still, I like the points I made in my essay better than hers; she wrote a research paper that was politically correct, and it wasn’t personal at all.

Anyways.

I walked with my mom and aunt and uncle, who had both so graciously joined us at the luncheon, to the subway.

We walked a bunch of blocks and then I was back in their apartment, the same one I stayed in last year.

K I really have to wrap this up, so I spent the night their; they are SO nice about everything, and I couldn’t htank them enough.

Then my mom and I cabbed to the airport, where I met someone I had know back in third grade, and I sat next to her on the plane home.

I got home at 1 in the afternoon, hit the sack, and didn’t open my bleary eyes until six.

and I’m still tired and sore from all that traveling, so I’m gonna put my head down for the night.

Thanks for reading.

PS looking forward to submitting interesting content REALLY soon!

Keep UNraveling!

 

From the Big D to Baltimore…

Hey, here I am again. I should not be blogging now, I should be helping my Baltimore friend prepare for her brother’s party but….so here I am.

Wanted to tell you all some quick stuff about my trip:

I left Wednesday night to the Greyhound station. Although we had arrived at the stop at around seven-thirty, we didn’t board until 8:30, and our bus left at around 9:00, as scheduled.

Don’t ever take Greyhound. Ever. Everyone there is on drugs, smokes, and drinks too often to be safe. My friend and I boarded the lousiest looking vehicle I have ever had the misfortune to occupy.

Wanna see a big fat lie? Just look at the ads they have in every bus station for their amazing buses. “Wi-fi, Leg room and Outlets” they claim.

My foot. Ouch. Seriously, no pun intended, but there were none of the above  mentioned, ah, luxuries. (Foot room? Is that a LUXURY? Apparently 😦 )

Anyways. On our bus we met a very nice young lady by the name of Daina, who proceeded to tell us her entire life story. Then we fell asleep, while I tried not to listen to Daina and a man discuss the best ways to do drugs…”Let’s get high on a Sharpie…” ha ha.

We got to Cleveland, Ohio, where all the passengers were led off of the bus for an hour and a half layover. They needed to service the bus, not that it made things better.

During the hour and a half stay, my friend and I talked to some druggie from L.A. who started up a conversation with us about potential energy, evolution, and other fascinating topics.

We were slightly intrigued, and then a nice young Chinese man came over to us and asked for a piece of paper, with which my friend provided him . Twenty minutes later, he came over to us with an Origami bird made out of said paper, which he proceeded to give to my friend. It was quite sweet.

Time passed; I drew a lot in the new sketchbook I had purchased for the purpose of the trip. We finally re-boarded and slept from 2:30 until around 4:30, where we arrived in Pittsburgh.

We only had a twenty minute layover, but we had a severe Snapple incident in that short amount of time. After using the restrooms and eating, I tried to purchase a Snapple for $1 only to discover it actually cost $2. That was due to the fact that a sign posted on the vending machine said, “1.00 bills only accepted here”. Due to my over-tiredness, I only saw the “1.00” part. No joke.

Having only one dollar bill, I then exchanged a coin for a bill with some guy and purchased a Diet Peach Tea. As it was coming out, I noticed a regular Peach Tea and sold the Diet to the same guy who exchanged money with me. When I used the new money to buy the regular Snapple, I discovered that it was actually a Diet…

Like I may have mentioned, great trip.

Then my friend and I got into line at Gate 6 headed to Baltimore, instead of Gate 4, where our driver had instructed us to go.

Gate 6 was for new boarders, and there was no more room on the bus. We would have to wait until 9:00 a.m. for the next bus, because apparently, if you purchase a ticket on Greyhound, you are guaranteed a seat but not necessarily on the bus you want.

I yelled a little bit, threatened to sue, and told the man that we still had our luggage on the bus.

“You should have been at Gate 4, that’s for re-boarders” he said MEANLY.

“Well, someone (stupid) told us to get in line here” I argued back. (Some girl from our bus had mistakenly told us that).

“Wait for the driver” He said, shrugging and walking away.

I was raving mad and seeing red when the driver finally came, looked at our tickets and gestured silently for us to get on the bus.

Anti-climatic, right? And then we got on the bus, went to the back where there are three seats and where we had been sitting previously, and there was the guy who had bought my Snapple.

So it was kind of crowded and I wasn’t able to sleep, sitting next to him and all, so yeah, the next five hours where rather interesting.

Anyways, Baruch Hashem we arrived safely in Baltimore, where the hot summer heat nearly melted me, and I went with my friend and her family to the Israeli Embassy.

I spent the rest of the day alternating between severe tiredness-I’d had a total of three hours of sleep, remember?- and dehydration.

We stopped in a restaurant for some food, and then went to the library for a little bit….

And then we went to my friends house, where I saw her awesome siblings, ate supper, and went to bed by 10:30.

Keep UNraveling!

The Ramble 19

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I have rambled in an unravelmythoughts style since…February?!

NO WAY!

Did you guys miss it? I don’t really care if you did, because I did!

There’s a LOT going on in my life. Thank goodness, becuase I don’t think I would wish to face the alternative.

I’ll start with Sunday, which is a good place to start. Bear with me regarding the images, because I just discovered them and I find them to be quite amusing. Anyways.

1995 Nissan Altima

Image via Wikipedia

I drove with my sister and two friends in Alfredo, my dad’s car.  ( This is exactly what Alfredo looks like, you can even google 1995 Nissan Altima Gold if you don’t believe me!)

We were headed to numerous destinations, in honor of Friend #1’s birthday.

However, a vehicle malfunction squashed all of our well thought out plans. We had given ourselves a Plan A, a Plan B for rain, and had even allowed extra time in between activities, “just in case”.  Very organized, we are.

But we didn’t plan to be stuck in a busy intersection, watching the rain pound the pavement to the accompanying sound of angry cars.

You see, I had been cruising along at a nice, steady speed, winshield wipers a-slashin’, when all of a sudden there was a noise.

A flat tire on a Mercury Villager van.

Image via Wikipedia

 

I thought it to be a flat tire, but upon investigating, the rubber proved to be quite hard, and dangerous, especially towards the first two toes of my right foot.

So we called my father who called Triple-A, and we waited. The cars behind us didn’t seem to understand what Emergency Blinkers are, even though the name should really speak for itself.

Every time I would hear a honk, I would roll my window down and yell, ” I have a flat!” (Even though I had nothing of the sort.)

Unfortunatly for me, the driver would gesture angrily that the person behind them had honked, and I was yelling at the wrong person. This happened three times, and on all accounts, the driver I was yelling at was a little old lady. Go figure.

The Triple-A man finally arrived, and after much, ahh, discussion, we allowed ourselves to be escorted into the cab of his truck, in which we took up twice the space recommended and proceeded to accidentally sit on his sunglasses, amongst other things. In other words, there were four of us, and only room for two.

“Young lady, you are, uh, sitting on the clutch…”

Alfredo (the car, remember?) rode behind us, and we all made a glorious Kiddush Hashem, telling the man wonderful things about our religioun.

“You mean I’m driving four Jewish women home? WOW!”

“You guys are like, people of the book, no? Like, no TV and stuff? Are you pulling my leg? MAN! That’s CRAZY”

And so on. He told us that he had been shot three times, stabbed twice, and the victim of three heart attacks.

“I survived all of that, and I’m still healthy as a horse. So yeah, I believe in G-d” he concluded.

We tipped him; it’s not every day that someone will take the risk of getting arrested for having four Jewish women in his cab.

Then we took my friend out to eat in my other friend’s van and I got to drive home, which was quite amusing.

Monday was a work day; 10-5. Good pay. Not much else. 😛

I’m kidding, it went quite well, considering the job descripition. (Babysit five kids under the age of three; two different families…)

Today was…crazy. Lots of bathroom related accidents and such…I refuse to elaborate.

Here’s my travel plans, in case I forgot to update you.

BoltBus #0800 in New York City on the West Sid...

Image via Wikipedia

 

G-d willing, I will be leaving for Baltimore on Wednesday evening, the 25th of May. THat’s next week. I will be traveling by Greyhound bus with my friend, and we will be arriving at around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

I will spend the weekend at my friend in Baltimore, shying away from Maverick the cat and otherwise enjoying myself.

On Sunday the 29th, I will attend the Homeschool Conference, and possibly be on the teen panel. I will leave for New York City on either Monday or Tuesday, and I will stay at my uncle’s.

Night view of Manhattan, captured from the Man...

Image via Wikipedia

 

I will see my friends on Thursday the 2nd, and then go into Monsey, NY with my mother, who is flying in on that day. I will spend shabbos either in Manhattan or Passaic, and on Sunday, June 5th, I will be attending the luncheon in Manhattan.

I will be flying home Monday morning, June 6th.

All travel dates and destinations are subject to without notice at a moments notice.

Sheesh. felt good to get that all on paper….

Anyways, I just zoomed around the internet researching products I need to buy and buying some of them. I severely need to pack for this trip. My shoulders are so stiff. I think I will go read a great book now. It’s actually not that good, but I guess I’ll read it anyways.  This doesn’t really fall under the category of a ramble, but it will have to suffice.

Keep UNraveling!

The Good News and The Bad News…

My best friend’s brother is engaged! That’s what I was talking about in the last couple of posts, that little something that I would be saying soon!

I’ve known about it for weeks of course, and I had to do a bit of stumbling and improving the truth when necessary. But I got through the awkward, “uh, can’t really say…” moments, and now I can tell the whole world! Wahooo! I’m so happy for them! Oh, I wonder if they’re on onlysimchas.com? Oh, they are!

Speaking of engagements, my shiur counselor from camp got engaged a few weeks ago! I seem to have a lot of weddings to attend this summer.

Which brings me, sadly enough, to this summer.

OK. I’m going to vent right here, right now. To you. Plug your ears.

I have made 40 phone calls. To 30 people. For 20 weeks. I’ve counted to 10. At least 5 times. In the past 4 hours. There are 3 potential jobs. With 2 complications. 1 result? Frustration.

My main goal? Make money, while being spiritually safe (and having a blast. This last one is not so important because I am reasonably confident that I have fun wherever I go.)

How I plan to achieve this goal?  By working with my other best friend as a lifeguard, for the first four/five weeks of summer.

So what’s stopping me? Well, out of all the random camps and bungalows that I have called, few need two inexperienced lifegurads who are entering their senior year. One place will give us a bungalow but no salary (WTH?) and the other will pay around $25 an hour, but no accomadations. (WTH?)

Yet a third place is offering us day camp positions, where we would both work. However, this is in Far Rockaway, and I don’t know the salary. Nor do I know anyone inFar Rockaway, NY to board at.

I could also work in a random public school behind my house, as some sort of nursery teacher. This would pay less than $10 an hour, I’d be working for eight hours a day and I would still be in town.
Not such a bad thing because most of my friends seem to be bumming around the big D for the first half. But I’d rather leave town.

Anyways. Those are my options now, with hopefully more to come.

My friends birthday was today, and I bought her a slurpee. My other friend’s brother just got engaged, and I wished her congratulations.

Sometimes the world ar0und me seems so full of laughter and cheer, but it’s all frozen to me, it’s all fake, because I am not happy.
Happiness comes from within, and right now, the only thing that’s inside me is feeling lousy. I hate this.
I wish the perfect summer job would just fall into my lap, the way I KNOW it will, because it always does.

No use crying when it always works out great anyways, right? But no, I always stress out about summer jobs, it’s my yearly pre-summer opportunity to go crazy. Why miss out on that? Why?

No, it’s gonna be a great summer. Two weddings, and my brother’s bar mitzvah, getting ready for college and saying goodbye to all my senior friends who are leaving to Isreal in the fall….what a fun filled summer.

Happy and sad. They always go hand in hand. But that’s ok because that’s human life. Ups and downs, rise and fall, right and wrong.
I rock at being human!

Keep UNraveling!

My Weekend Shabbaton

Warning! This is LONG!
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If you want to know what the Hilton hotel looks like, go online and find some pictures. But pictures won’t describe my stay there this past weekend; words themselves hardly do the trick. But since most of the amazingness was captured in my head and not on my camera, words will have to suffice. Although I do have some pictures and videos, I cannot post them on this site. Videos are not compatible unless I upgrade, which I don’t want to pay for, and the pictures are of people, including myself. I would rather not post these publicly, so once again, I must state that words alone will have to describe my fantastic, inspiring weekend.
Well. Twelve O’clock P.M., more commonly known as midnight, found me pacing anxiously around my kitchen. I was all packed up but I had nowhere to go.
My ride would consist of a mini-van filled with my best friend, her sister and brother in law, and some other people that I knew by name, face, and not much else.
I could not handle going to the bathroom one more time, so I called my friend, who told me she had gotten sick of the nervous pacing herself, and recommended I sit down and read a book. As I was about to follow her advice, she suddenly exclaimed.
“They’re here!” and hung up the phone. All thoughts of reading flew out of my head as I nervously resumed my pacing.
Finally, finally, they pulled up, and I hugged my parents goodbye. It was 12:30, give or take a couple of minutes.
I settled down in the rather squashed van, and promptly fell asleep. Our ride there, or what I remember of it, consisted of my best friend talking, while everyone besides the driver, obviously, snored away. I woke up a couple of times for the restrooms, where I would shuffle in and out of the building, yawning and shivering, but all in all, it was pretty uneventful.
We arrived at the Hilton of New Jersey at around 11:00 am. the following morning. The place was beautiful, and I got all excited as we checked in and received our keys.
After using the bathroom- I did a lot of that over the weekend!- we went up to our room.
On the way, I met not one, but two camp friends! One from sleep-away camp three years ago and one from the bungalow last summer! I was freaking out, because I had no idea that either of them would come. I was in a state of shock.
I have been pushing off writing this for a very long time indeed. Probably because all the details are jumbled in my head; information overload!
But you don’t really care about the order of events, right? So, yeah, I’ll just finish it and get it out of the way. More for myself than anyone else. (This is gonna count as English! GRRR! LOL)
After running up and down stairs and taking countless elevators, for reasons I absolutely don’t recall, my friends and I went to the bottom floor and I worked out a bit, or tried to, and then joined them in the hotel pool and hot tub.
We dried off in a stinky sauna ( i hate those things!) and got dressed, still dripping from chlorine, and went up two floors and joined the Welcome Buffet.
The food there was not normal, in the “it tastes good” sense, I mean, not gross. 🙂
They had two whole halls filled with buffets, waiters on call to make your own salad, trays and trays of awesome food…
My friends and I found a small corner table, and still wet from the pool, we loaded our plates and ate. Then it was straight upstairs in the broken elevator, which meant straight upstairs, literally. Up the stairs.
We slept on the tenth floor, did I mention? So after five flights, actually, three because we were already two floors up (maybe it was moor because i don’t think the ballroom was the first floor, ach, who cares?), well, after a lot of steps, I suggested we get out on that floor and try the elevator there. For some reason, it was working, so it was a good idea.
I smashed myself, Manhattan style, into the first elevator going up, but my friends refused to suffocate for the six- second elevator ride. I have this thing called separation anxiety, so I left just in time to miss the doors closing in my face.
Back in that G-d-forsaken hall, waiting for the elevators again. After a while, the “down” one dinged.
“Let’s go down, and then take it back up” I suggested brilliantly. Lucky for us, of course, that it broke just as we got back to the ballroom.
Ever heard of “back to square one?”
Some little kid kept trying to make it work. It was broken, and remained that way (probably from too much use in too little time) until after Shabbos.
So, we started the stairs again. To make things even more fun, I noticed a Brooklyn couple with their baby, pack ‘n’ play, carriage, dishwasher, and personal Jacuzzi (naw, I’m just kidding; no, REALLLY?). So I offered to help them out, since they were on 8 and we were on 10 and they OBVIOUSLY could use the help.
Even though I hadn’t gotten such a workout before…
We finally got to our rooms, breathless and dying for another swim, hah hah. My friends were so amazing about being volunteered to help those random strangers out…they would have looked stupid if they hadn’t, but still, I’m so proud of you guys!!!
Then we lazed around till we realized there was less than an hour to Shabbos, which induced a mad rush for showers, “cleaning up” our hotel room (four to a room, I shared a bed with my BFF, thank goodness!) and we put on our makeup.
Then we flew down those infamous stairs, to be shocked with the alarming amount of gorgeously dressed people.
After seeing yet another camp friend, who said hey and I just stared, I went into the shul to daven kabbalas Shabbos.
It was absolutely amazing, with tons of women and even more men on the other side.
The Mezamrim Choir harmonized and I don’t know who sang but it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!
Next, some of us went into a side room to hear a lecture by Rabbi Wallersteins sister-in-law, which was surprising to find out, because they look and speak so similarly, I would have thought they were siblings.
She spoke about Matzos: Our Battle against the Yetzer Hara, but I don’t really remember much except sitting on my camp friends lap, getting squashed by the crowd and trying to hear (even though I had squeezed my way into the fifth row, it was still very inaudible with no mics).
Then we all went into Ballroom C+D+E which was actually one big room, not sure why the schedule I’m glancing at calls it that, but whatever.
Anyways, so began our noisy, catered meal. Waiters bustled back and forth, clearing our places annoyingly as soon as we left. I ate for a bit, then couldn’t sit still, so went to visit two tables with a friend from the bungalow at each. There were 981 people at the event, maybe more, so it was obviously a little loud. I yelled and screamed my conversations, and basically acted like a weirdo, which I am, so that all the people at both tables were so attracted to me that I made lots of friends. Yes, I am saying that it helps to be weird.
Also, they insulted me in French, these Canadian kids. (Yeah, I know you didn’t, that was for you, Batya, not that you would ever read this, but whatever! Comment if you do, lol)
By the time my friend and I got back to our table, the soup was cold enough to have frostbite. I ate it anyways. Or do you drink soup? This is so the type of thing for everyone to comment on. After this whole wonderful adventure that you will read, all you’re gonna say in the comments is, “BTW, you drink/eat soup”. Thanks guys. I’m just smart that way. I know. 🙂
SOOOO then I met someone ELSE from camp who didn’t remember me, but I talked to her and she is SOOO amazing and she gave me my own mini-shiur, which was really cool. She’s always smiling and happy, and is absolutely inspiring. Her name….nah, I can’t say just in case….but some of you might know her, so email me!
I talked to so many people, including Rabbi Wallerstein, and I had lots of fun. I saw OHAD! and Lipa, but just for a moment. Still! It was SOOO exciting!

Now, due to Jewish time, we had to cut out half the schedule, so after the meal, the first speech started only a good hour or so after it was scheduled to.
Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald spoke first, and he cracked us up with a bunch of cute, funny stories and lessons.
Then Rabbi Wallerstein got up to speak. Basically, amongst many other things, he said that we sometimes think things are our choice, and sometimes we think we have no choice. Like, for example, on Rosh Hashana everything is decided, but due to our actions, the reason for that decision could be switched. To illustrate his point, Rabbi Wallerstein told us how he was in an ambulance with one of his students, headed to the hospital at four in the morning. He was only a little upset that his good nights sleep had been disturbed, but he got over it really quickly when he realized that it could have been him in the stretcher. It had been decreed at the beginning of the New Year that at 4 am on that night, he would be in an ambulance, but because of his good deeds, the reason he was in the ambulance may have switched.

After that enlightening speech, we all ate some more food and then listened to Miss Chevi Garfinkel speak, as Rabbi Wallerstein had recommended previously. She is absolutely amazing and she is just hilarious; she could wipe the floor in stand up comedy. I was laughing so hard…gosh! Anyways, I’m going to cut what she spoke about short, as this is turning into something of a novel. 🙂

Next, skipping about five other things on the schedule, there was a Q&A with all the Ohr Naava Rabbis, at around 1 am. Some of the questions that girls asked where of no interest to me, so I left and joined a girls only group who were all talking about overcoming struggles.

I stayed there until 3 or so, and then hung around with some kids I had met. (My local friends had gone up to bed).
These kids who I was with called over someone named Rabbi Max, and we all sat around and talked to him and asked him our questions, until around 6:30 am.
At that time, the Vasikin minyan was starting, so us die-hard girls davened and then I climbed the ten flights of steps to bed.
As soon as my head hit the pillow, at around 7:45 in the morning, I was asleep.

I woke up a good four hours later; my roommates were leaving. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and slept until around one or two in the afternoon. I came downstairs (all those stairs, all by myself!) just in time to see the afternoon meal being cleared away.
Luckily, Rabbi Paysach Krohn was speaking, oh yeah, he spoke Friday night as well, and so my hunger pangs were slightly quelled. He is an amazing speaker, BTW.

My friend and I left after the speech to go steal some food for me from the kitchen.
Then there was more food, which we ate, and then a choice of speeches. I attended a wonderful speech by Rabbi Max, who remembered me from the previous night, which was rather surprising, because I hardly remembered anything!

After that, Shalsoh Seudos came along. My Shabbos day was pretty dead, compared to the night before. I ate, and then we all filed into the shul again for Havdalah.
This was the most amazing experience of my life. A man named Avrumi Spitz sang the most beautiful, chilling song ever, and then proceeded to make Havdalah. The room was completely dark, and I was standing near the front, having squeezed my way ahead, once again. A huge candle was held up, sparks igniting and dissolving into the air. This guy sang into a microphone with his guitar accompanying him; oh gosh, I was in tears.
Afterward, my friends and I sat down and got our own personal two hour performance by Mr. Spitz. Another man from the Mezamrim Choir sang with him, and it was really cool.

The Melava Malka was about to start, so I ran to the elevator which was working for once, and my friend and I went upstairs to change.
Back down again, I snagged slices of pizza and enjoyed the amazing awesome food. I even got to stand next to Lipa at the salad bar! Whoo hoo! I thought that was pretty funny 🙂

A slide-show came on, and then the concert started…
There were DJ’s, lights, a stage, the whole 9 yard….uh, yeah, and the room was TINY.
Men and women were separated by a mechitza and the girls danced and yelled like they should.
Avrumi Flam, Ohad Moskowitz, Lipa and an amazing violinist all performed beautifully.
The bass was so loud I thought I would have a heart attack, and halfway through, I had to go out. (don’t worry, the music was still pretty audible even outside the concert hall!)

I talked to my friends and some other people a little more, and then went back in to watch the Rabbi’s perform.
After that, the men all left, Ohr Naava girls sang, and then there was a Kumzitz, which was really cool, singing songs we all know with people we might never know.
I was kind of put in charge of controlling who chose which song, (yeah, I was self-appointed) but whatever, it was awesome fun!
Then me and some girls helped clean up, and then we hung out in some hallway for I don’t even know how long.
All that follows is a blur, because it was so incredibly late and I wasn’t functioning properly. I basically had a ton of fun and then I went downstairs with my friend, who had hit it off with this piano teacher. They played piano in the lobby while I dozed off on a couch, vacantly watching the day clerk come and relieve the night clerk. All the waiters were coming in for work…..
My friend woke me up; it was 7:30 and we elevator-ed it up to bed, where we slept until 10:30.

There was no time for anything; we ran down, grabbed food and listened to Rabbi Wallerstein give his goodbye speech, which I recorded on my camera, yes, all nineteen minutes of it. I don’t know why but hey.
I ran upstairs, packed, and we took some last minute pictures and we were off.

I didn’t sleep for more than an hour, and we made wonderful time
The car ride home was one of the best moments, aside from Friday night and Havdalah, of course! Everyone shared their experiences and all that good stuff.

It felt so weird to come home after that crazy weekend, but writing about it some three weeks later really brings the memories back.
Hopefully, I’ll never forget the amazing things I learned there, and I’ll keep growing and changing and becoming better.
Hey, maybe one day, I’ll even learn how to write shorter blog posts!
Keep Unraveling!

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