Month: March 2019

iBurningMan: My 2018 Burning Man Adventure (Guest Post)

Please enjoy another guest post from my Kansas buddy, Sara Nicole Glass, telling all about her adventures at Burning Man.

***

The first time I rolled up to Burning Man in 2013, fresh off the festival circuit, I arrived at 6AM. After being on the road for three days and in line for 10 hours, it got real. I jumped out of my car and the first thing I did was say to a stranger, “I really like your necklace.” Shyly, just trying to drum up conversation. He looked at me and said, “Ugh fine. Take it.” And he handed me the necklace, exasperated. Two strangers offered me some chocolates, I politely declined, and then promptly hopped on my bike and rode towards “The Man” like I was supposed to.

The first thing I encountered? A scene of people, full blown working out with barbells and equipment in front of these giant BELIEVE letters, as the sun was rising; I knew this wasn’t just a party or an experience to be taken lightly. This was evolution in motion.

Burning Man
-Burning Man 2013: Da Vinci’s Workshop-
A group of bodybuilders pumping iron at sunrise by this Believe sign.
Letters by: Laura Kimpton with Jeff Schomberg

Burning Man Unusual Art

This year (2018), the art was unlike anything I’d ever fathomed before. There was the iSheep, a roaming pack of sheep that would let you ride them if you were nice to them. If you didn’t ask consent, they were mean sheep, and would yell at you, so I am told. Could never find those buggers.

If you were lucky enough to find “The Pole”–a random lit up pole–and you were also lucky enough to know just the right way to shake your head, you would see the most incredible faces within the motion of your eyeballs. What!? Etipado, as it was called, is a mysterious strobing pole. It displays images captured from an antique camera; however, the secret to viewing them must be discovered.

Meanwhile, these poles were also amazing… and much easier to see. Made of 11,000 hanging LEDs in a volumetric field, these concentric pathways of light interpret movement and sound, and mimicked shadows in a visual form throughout. 

And More Art…

I found out the rainbow runway arches were actually demonstrating the speed of sound, and that art cars could actually hook up to the runway with a software that Robot Heart developed and play their set. Then the music that plays shows the wave frequencies that are displayed in lights down the whole row.

Then there was the polar bear, made out of white car hoods, advocating for polar bear environmental safety. “Singularity” was the house, in a birdcage, in a house, inside a birdcage inside a house, and it was burned in the name of dispelling depression and honoring those who have suffered. “Let U.S. Prey” was made out of pennies, nickels, and dimes. 27,000 coins to be exact, or so I heard.

Burning Man
-Let U.S. Prey by: Mr and Mrs Ferguson-
From: Alameda, CA

Burning Man, the Beautiful Train Wreck

Burning Man really is like a beautiful train wreck that you can’t stop watching, even though you know it might not end well. Maybe it’s not as big of a crash as expected, but worth watching nonetheless. Even those who have chosen not to return after “burning” for however many years, are still watching, because they know the magic of Black Rock City. This year, even Skirllex was amazing. You really never know with this place…

The drone light show from Amsterdam was an absolutely mind-blowing performative artwork at the interface between technology, science, and art. “Franchise Freedom” exposed the tension between individual freedom and safety in numbers, and was choreographed to music composed and played by Joep Beving. The patterned movements of the 600 drones apparently were based on the patterns of bird flights. I saw a hand beckoning the crowd to approach the Mayan Warrior…. Or perhaps I was just hallucinating?

At sunrise on Tuesday morning, some circus friends I know presented a performance art piece called “Strait No Chaser – The Great Strait Escape”. An escape artist was hanging upside down from a hot air balloon near the temple. And she succeeded!

Burning Man
-Strait No Chaser – The Great Strait Escape
By: LadyBEAST and GatorDox-
From: Oakland, CA

Burning Man, Freedom to Become Me

Over the past four years, this ridiculous city has taught me more about freedom and about who I never would’ve thought I would become. I’ve showered with total strangers (in a completely non-sexualized way) and felt so empowered afterwards. #carcuswash I’ve eaten ribs and salmon on top of a giant glowing pirate ship at five in the morning while the artist Crystal Method danced beside me. #pearlnecklace And I’ve had more synchronistic and unexpected magical experiences in the middle of nowhere in one week then I probably had in my whole life prior to Burning Man. #ttitd

There was a circus of light-up wheels that had traveled five desserts and was destined for Black Rock City. Every night, 15 volunteers committed four plus hours of their time to walk these wheels to the larger inner playa installation and danced in loincloths for onlookers. What a spectacle! I still don’t know what to call it.

That’s How You Get Your Name

Speaking of names, one day, while hanging at my camp (Pandora’s Lounge and Fix-It Shoppe bar), a woman came up to me. When I asked what her name was, she said she didn’t have a playa name. My co-bartender “Bish” said, as she poured the girl a drink, “Well Silverbell, it’ll come when you’re ready.” The girl and I looked at each other and I said, “That’s it! That’s your name!” She said she liked it, and then I reached down and pulled off the bracelet of silver bells I had just put on minutes earlier, which I hadn’t worn in years, and promptly handed her the bracelet, officially deeming her Silverbell. And that’s how they get you… before you know it, you’re covered in dust and loving it.

The Dust of Burning Man

Oh yes, I have fallen in love with the dust… just the smell of it turns me on. This strong, smooth and sultry salt bed dust gets into everything, and yet I still can’t get enough of it. It’s in the air you breathe and the food you eat. And it’s definitely in the places you sleep and play and worship and dance and s**t and cry and bathe… It becomes a part of you. It connects you to everything else; through the vibrations you can literally see the musical waves pulsating through a dust storm. In the morning light you can see the dust kicking up off of art car wheels as they roll five miles an hour across the playa, spiraling out into fractals; it’s really a sight for sore eyes. #goggles.

This dust reminds me of sugar, and every other white powder that’s worth indulging in. It serves a purpose and an important one at that. This dusty powder is a way of life; it is a medicine. And while it may not be the most logical, rational or economical “medicine” you’ve ever heard of, once you’ve tried this Kool-Aid, you’re going to want to go deeper. Down whichever rabbit hole you choose! There’s lots to explore. Even sober ones, it’s true.

The Burning Man Religious Experience

This year, I was biking Sunday pre-event, alone, across the playa under the stars, the first night of my 2018 adventure. I realized that I was laughing and crying and singing and dancing, sweating and breathing heavy, and jumping while riding my bike. All at once. And I couldn’t help but think, “This is the closest to a religious experience as anyone in this day and age will ever get.” In that moment I felt invincible and ecstatic, like I hadn’t felt since I was a little girl. I felt like my true self, finally coming into perfect alignment. How long can it last?

Two weeks later, in the throes of decompression and after-burn withdrawal, I still think that it’s worth every bit of energy and sacrifice, though a harder pill to swallow in my grumpy state. If you’ve never gone from hell to heaven and back again in two week’s time, it’s impossible to fathom the gravity of the circumstances. If you haven’t at least considered quitting your job and going to Burning Man, then this might not be for you.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. And I’ve lost 15 pounds! Burning Man is truly the pilgrimage of many lifetimes that I waited way too long to take. Black Rock City is forever etched onto my heart and pulses through my veins daily, calling me to return home as soon as possible. 360 days we must wait! But the burn doesn’t just stop there, you know… #opensesame

Burning Man Afterburn

One of the most important facets of deeming yourself a burner is taking these principles that you operate under out into the world, pre and post burn. Otherwise, what is the point? Many of us struggle with the dreaded “exclusiveness” and “waste of resources” dilemma.

Believe me, us burners are well aware of the discrepancies and issues within our community that are all over the news. “With all that money spent on a 747, we could have fed hundreds of starving children.” It is an absolutely valid argument that many of us within and outside the organization have voiced and battled with each other about, but it’s really not up for anyone to decide whether or not something is art.

The point is, we are out there, pushing the envelope in a very raw and real way. We build a community from scratch, and with that comes all kinds of pulses. The challenge with any community, and especially one of this force, is that you have the best of humanity, and also the worst of humanity, all under one roof. I do want to point out that “radically inclusive” does not mean you have to include the rapist or the thief; however, discovering who these people are is the hard part, as people are good at hiding in a crowd.

The Burning Man Utopia?

As you’ll see within any city, you’ll find just about everything you look for. Bars, yoga studios, dance parties, parades, restaurants, balloon rides, roller skating rinks, temples. You name it, it’s at Black Rock City. Funnily enough, this year and last year I had my megaphone stolen right out of my bag on burn night, when I wasn’t looking. It’s a small price to pay for a week of fulfilling magic, but still, it is a reality we are facing as a community. Just because you’re in a utopian society doesn’t mean you don’t still have to watch your back.

***WANTED: Silver megaphone, small frame, connected to swell rainbow water bottle inside a hemp-laced carrying case. REWARD IF FOUND***

Every Burn has its Thorn

One night an obviously disheveled woman came into my camp. She asked if she could buy a drink, to which we explained to her there was no money used at Burning Man once you arrive. I asked her how she got there and she explained that her boyfriend had brought her. She had never heard of Burning Man. Nor had she ever heard of the ten principles, and she wasn’t sure where she was going to sleep that night, since her boyfriend had kicked her out and left her. She disappeared before I could get a ranger, after she realized she was most certainly out of her element. It was a tragic story and situation that really hurt my heart. But that’s what happens; you get all walks of life.

Burning Man, in the Eye of the Beholder

Every year the playa energy changes, physically, emotionally, spiritually. And weather-wise, of course. This year, the pulse was running hot, in my opinion. The virgin burners were prepared, the veterans seemed patient, lines were shorter than ever, and the flow was smooth. At least mostly, until Wednesday night. I could feel a very direct shift in attitude once the city went from the week-long committed artists and city builders to the weekend warriors, who just show up to party. It’s an interesting observation to attend to.

Still, it’s important to recognize that what you choose to pay attention to is what you will find at the burn. If you want to stay cranky at entitled assholes all week long, then that’s what you’ll see. I choose to focus on the art, music, and friendships that we build. The best part about Black Rock City is the intensity to which things happen. Time speeds up. Emotions are heightened. Strength gets stronger. Weaknesses become glaringly obvious. Anything you haven’t dealt with in your immediate forcefield will rear it’s little head and say, “You better check this right now or we’re gonna ruin your burn.” Happens every year, even to the best of us. The burn you want and the burn you need are never the same thing. Usually they balance each other out.

You Provide the Burn

They say “the playa provides” blah blah blah… I say, YOU provide. For yourself and for your community. Almost every time I indeed needed something, it was right there. All I had to do was voice my desire out loud. I came as self prepared as possible, and then went out of my way to help others, because that’s what you do with communal effort and civic responsibility. It’s a team effort, when it comes to building a city, running it, and then also tearing it down. It requires everyone’s help. If you don’t give, you won’t get. Everything is temporary here, and that’s part of the magic.

Burning Man
-Galaxia Temple 2018-
By the incredible Temple Crew

The Burning Man Temple

Speaking of magic, or the unexplainable, the Temple comes to mind. Never before in my four years of Burning Man have I felt a connection to the Temple. I would go, stop in, look around, and leave feeling sad for others and underwhelmed for myself. I didn’t get it. But everything changed this year.

This year I took my broken ass heart to the Temple and gave it away… By that I mean I took a paper flower for every man who has ever broken my heart and released it into the spiral abyss of the flame. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this train of thought, as the Temple was filled with wedding dresses, old letters from ex lovers, and notes to abusive partners saying, “We will no longer stand for this treatment”, “F**k your narcissism”, and “F**k cancer”.

It was so powerful, you could feel the thickness of tension. And when it burned on Sunday night, I could also feel the release. The vortex was undeniable, and some of us swore that Larry was even there, in the dust. Check out this video of the dirt devil tornado that surprised us all towards the end of the temple burn. I learned that at Burning Man people call these tornados “ancestors”.

The Burning Man iRobot

Now I’d like to tell those who don’t know that the “theme” of Burning Man this year was iRobot, which didn’t please my tastebuds at all, initially. In response, I chose to moonlight as Dorothy, the Burning Man iRobot, who was created thanks to the Radicals Brining Back Ritual campaign, and she was sent to Burning Man to protest robots. Sponsored by the Anti Bot Coalition, the ABC didn’t end up having to protest in the end, when it seemed to be that the humans were a bigger part of the problem than the bots; however, I felt like my mission was a valid one. “Who are these robots, and why are they taking over my burn? I miss Radical Ritual…”

Burning Man
-Fractal the Turtle and The Nonsense Man and a Robot @ The Man 2018-

In the end, iRobot did turn out to have a very certain charm, and certainly put the tech folk to work. Thank you Silicon Valley. These are our hard-earned tax dollars at work here folks.

The Burn of Burning Man

Back to the tornados: As a lady who comes from the Land of Oz, I used to think tornados were terrifying; these ones are adorable. People chase them around, they carry dust and sparks and ashes with them sometimes. There truly is something for everyone at Burning Man, and these ancestors are for me. It was love at first sight.

As in love with this aspect of the burn as I was, there were others who chose never to attend the massive fires. For some, it’s too crowded. Others, too painful. And it’s my responsibly to accept that and support their decisions, as much as they don’t make sense to me. Everyone is there for a particular reason and season… No judgment. No blame. And no shame. As long as you’re participating as best as you can, then you are welcome

Pre-Burn and After-Burn

I chose to spend my pre-burn doing placement for my camp (Pandora’s Lounge and Fix-It Shoppe), working for the Artery (the art placement department, where we also do artist hospitality and give art tours for the mobility challenged), as well as performing several shows too, at center camp, theme camps, and beyond. Learning about the art and being able to share with others was invaluable. I sacrificed sleep for sunrises and moments with family that I will cherish forever.

I learned so much. Most of all, what I took away from this year’s burn was that all you can do is “Let it go”. Memories can live on, but the emotion and attachment to all things material and even surreal, we must let it go. And it felt real damn good to let s**t go. I had a lot of s**t and I feel 800 times lighter. I feel like myself again, and I am so grateful for all the souls I encountered who made sure to tell me that I was on track and in alignment. Thank you! You know who you are.

Burning Man
-In Every Lifetime I Will Find You, by: Michael Benisty, Love and Unity-
From: Brooklyn, NY

To Burn or Not to Burn?

I learned the first year I went, in 2013, not to come to something of this magnitude without your best friends around you. You’re going to want them there. And every year, I leave the burn thinking, “God, I totally have to bring my mom to this.” Maybe next year, ma?

Now, if you think you can’t make it to Burning Man, you know your options, right? First of all, set an intention to go, take off work, and try to get a ticket. Pay attention. See what happens. If it comes easy, then it’s a go. And if there’s resistance, listen! Next year will be better anyway!

Second mission: Find a regional, or start your own if you must, even if it’s in your backyard. Build something. Burn. It. Do something weird. Dress up. Go out. Start conversations. Be YOU.

Burners Without Borders

Third, check out Burners Without Borders, or just start researching the burn culture in general and see where it takes you. Pick a principle and dive in unpacking it. People make all sorts of sacrifices to attend a burn. I always say, “Some people choose football, some people play golf, some join a gym… I choose to burn.” It’s become a way of life, like having breakfast, or playing tennis. The sacrifices I’ve made are always outweighed by the benefits.

And every single day I think, “How can I turn the default world into a real life burn?” Maybe it already is… but one person can’t play this game alone. It takes a communal effort. If the world is your burn, what’s your next move? Be bold. No apologies. Go after what you believe in. And don’t ever let anybody tell you how to live your life. Especially burners, if it doesn’t jive with your soul.

Burning Man
-Taken at the Morris Burner Hostle in Reno, August, 2018-

The Evolution of Burning Man

Burning Man started as a social experiment, and continues to unfold and evolve at it’s own pace and stride. Sure, there are organizations and the organization itself, but nobody is in the captain’s chair saying, “This is who we are booking and this is the kind of art we are going to make.” Nope. That’s up to us. And that’s where we need to take the power and make it something we can be proud of. I’m talking about functional art. Art that serves a purpose and makes the city or world a better place.

For instance, I’d like to see an art installation grant for a composting and decorative bathroom for deep playa that is burned at the end of the week (waste removed). Or maybe a water fill-up oasis in the middle of the dessert, with water goddesses reciting poetry, filling up your hearts and your drink vessels at once. I’m not sure if or when I’ll have the resources to do such activities, but it’s fun to fantasize.

(I haven’t even gotten started on the art car scene… To be continued!)

Burning Man: Where To?

City-wise, San Francisco and Reno are both already doing a stellar job of incorporating burner art and functions into their city, and so I challenge you to look around at your community and your city of choice. Where is the need? What are the needs? What are your resources? And how can we turn this s**t up a notch. Because the dial is going to keep moving, it’s just a matter of which direction.

Buckle up buttercup. 

And burn bright friends.

Check out ALL of the art at Burning Man here on the website

Burning Man
Until next year… MissCompact

-MissCompact, the Unicorn Barbie! “Put ‘er in your pocket”-

The Burn You Need

Yeah Burning Man 2018 dang came and went.
It’s been a good run, time and play well spent
The gate was on point and the greeters greeting blow for blow
With so many more virgins there was lots of room to grow
Watching the sunrise never gets cold
With your new best friends, but especially the old.
The dance floors were banging, the fires, oh so lit
“Hey can I borrow some self reliance a bit?”
I brought a band of newbies and they did just fine…
(except one of them) leaving no trace, most of the time.
We all get a bit sloppy sometimes, it’s true
but it’s our civic responsibility to take care of
all our moop.
So I’ll look after you, you look after me, too
as this cultural utopia blooms into an interfuse

That connects us to our art, our heart, also our dark
and is there no safer way to explore this part?
Surrounded by radical self whatever you call it
making it a point to give freely, no wallet.
It’s an exchange of wonder, magical by design empowerment…
Show me your tricks and I’ll show you mine, with consent.
Whatever intention you put into the effigy or temple
let it unfold, truth be told, baby steps, keep it simple
Usually the burn you want isn’t the thing you need,
but if you pay attention to the lessons and processing
With our reflections can grow what’s been unfurled
as we take these teachings from the burn into the real world.
So thanks for playing. Better luck next year’s turn.
And if you don’t mind, would y’all quit f**king my burn?

Burning Man
-Burning Man 2018 iRobot pre-Temple Burn #Pandora-


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Posted by jaffeworld in guest post, 1 comment

Israel Elections and Why I’m Afraid to Vote

Israel Elections

Israel’s elections are around the corner. I have a mixture of emotions ranging from indifference to sheer terror.

You see, this place can get a bit crazy, and your seemingly insignificant vote can mean so much more than most could imagine.

Growing up in the States, it’s easy to start thinking of elections as a joke. In the majority of States, you can know close to 100% who your State will choose well before election day comes around. It’s very easy to feel like your choice is insignificant.

In addition, even the biggest decisions will rarely land on your doorstep. Certainly not quickly. The closest thing I had in my lifetime was the government’s asinine decision to give fines to those of who choose not to have health insurance.

But I don’t live in the States anymore. And I’ve watched as the Prime Minister’s decisions can literally land in my backyard.

Israel Elections and Getting Kicked Out of my Home

Many years ago, I was living on a wonderful settlement called Karmei Tzur. The Prime Minister at the time, Ehud Barak, was engaged in vigorous peace negotiations with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat. On the table was nearly 100% of the disputed territories within the country. And, of course, this included my very own home.

We moped around the settlement, knowing full well that we were literally a signature away from getting dragged from our homes by the military. And we were overjoyed when talks fell through. Not because our brethren decided it was unfair and cruel for us to leave, mind you. But because Arafat rejected the plan. He wanted more land.

But it was our own leader, elected by our fellow citizens, who was trying to cause us irreparable harm.

Israel Elections and a Shaken Conscious

And, frankly, there are limits to what my conscious could bear. Several years ago, I cast my vote and helped to choose the one to run this great nation. And that leader, Ariel Sharon, would later make the decision to aggressively remove thousands of Jewish people from their homes.

None of us thought it would actually happen.

But it did.

Yes, I’m aware that if I hadn’t cast my vote, Ariel Sharon would have been elected anyway. And of course none of us could have known that this would be the results of his reign in office.

But still.

I was a cog in the wheel. I would watch from afar as people–my people–were forcefully ripped away from everything they had built for decades. And then I would watch further as for the next several years everything that could possibly go wrong went worse than anyone could imagine.

The resettlement of the Gush Katif residents was handled abysmally. And Israel would be attacked repeatedly from areas formerly occupied by Israeli families.

Lamenting Gush Katif

Years ago I spent a Shabbat in one of the Gush Katif settlements. It was a lovely and moving experience. One that I know I will never have again. And it’s all because enough people, like me, voted in that election.

Instead of revisiting Kfar Darom, and walking around through its lovely Gan Hamitzvot, I watched the residents fighting with soldiers. I watched teens who were born in the community fighting with teens who were drafted into the military. They were all young and unaware, and probably still wake up in cold sweats thinking about that miserable week in Jewish History.

The Way to the Top: Crappy Predecessors

And Sharon should have never been elected in the first place. He was able to work his way up to the top of the political ladder solely based on the poor performance of his predecessor, Ehud Barak. Ehud Barak was infamous for an empty threat that empowered five years of relentless violence against the Israeli people, known as the Second Intifada. And he was also known for endless bombings of empty homes that seemed to accomplish nothing, except for perhaps emboldening and multiplying Israel’s enemies.

And how did such a skilled politician find his way into office? His predecessor had made decisions that left him without a political friend in the world, opening the door for just about any opposition to hop into his place. Who was Barak’s predecessor? None other than current Head of State, good ole Bibi Netanyahu.

And Netanyahu had set the stage for this clown to bumble his way through leading Israel by actions that would simultaneously alienate all of his constituents, while not garnering a shred of favor from his opponents. Very much not shrewd political maneuvering on Bibi’s part.

Israel Elections and Good Ole Netanyahu

That being said, I think Bibi learned a lot from his first go as Prime Minister. And perhaps that’s why he’s been able to sink his talons into the position for so long his second time around. In all honesty, I sort of like him as Prime Minister, and I think he’s done a better job than all his recent predecessors (including himself).

Why? It feels like under his leadership, things are never too hot or too cold. Israel continues to vigorously defend itself, yet we’re not on the front page of the popular media on a daily basis. Somehow or other, we’re almost boring in the world’s view. This is in stark contrast to years past where it felt to me like Israel was constantly hovering around the front of the paper, and never in a favorable manner. Netanyahu pisses people off, but rarely so much that they call for his immediate ousting from office.

And, of course, we’re still left wondering how to perceive his illegal and/or immoral actions. This is a question that brings shivers up my spine. I watched closely as half a nation forgave an adulterous Bill Clinton. Why? Because they were able to separate his actions in the sack from his actions in the Oval Office.

Should we have a higher standard in the Holy Land? Should we seek in the Israel elections a candidate we can respect in and out of the office?

And should we cling to the leader with whom we are familiar but discontent? Or should we take chances on a new situation with unknown but potentially catastrophic consequences?

Terrified of Israel Elections

These and so many other questions can confuse and hurt to no end.

So you are wondering if I’m voting in the upcoming Israel elections. My answer: I’m really not sure. If I don’t, it’s because I don’t feel like I have enough information to make a decision I can be proud of. And because I’m afraid of waking up the next morning terrified for what legitimate damage I might cause my nation.

I’m just not sure I can handle that again.

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, opinion, personal story, 0 comments

Work from Home: The Choice of a New Generation

Work From Home

A bit over two years ago, I sat down to my first day as a Customer Support Specialist, in the coziest office imaginable… my own home. That’s right. I work from home!

This was daunting. At best. Who wouldn’t be terrified of the prospect of sitting for hours on end all by yourself? Wouldn’t I go crazy just sitting there in solitude? Would I become consumed with boredom?

And after two years, I’ve never looked back. I love my job. I love my gorgeous alone time. And I have learned so much, grown more than I could have imagined, and I don’t really have any interest in ever finding another job, since my lifestyle is so great.

And the commute is incredible!

But that doesn’t mean the ‘work from home’ fears aren’t real. It’s very easy to become exactly what we all fear. It’s quite simple to look back and say that your only accomplishments were sending out a whole lot of emails. If you look back at the end of the day and you did nothing but work, you’re woefully unhappy, you’re terribly lonely, and you’re 300 pounds overweight and diabetic, something went horribly wrong.

Here are my five strategies to make the work from home experience absolutely fantastic:

1) Learn to Love being Alone

I feel like being alone is a lost art. Nowadays, even while alone we’re still connected to the world in a dozen different ways.

But solitude, for those of us who have learned to embrace it, is beautiful.

I’m at peace when I’m by myself. That’s not to say I don’t thoroughly enjoy being social (sometimes). It just means that I don’t run away from being alone. I love it. I make great use of it. And I relish in the quiet and enjoy all of its benefits.

But what if you simply don’t know how to be alone well?

Like all other habits we wish to create, sometimes you just need to dive in and grow naturally from there. Go to a restaurant by yourself. I know. It’s weird. Go to the movies by yourself! I promise, it gets less strange. Ultimately, you might even grow to love it. No one asks you to explain anything, and you get to keep all the popcorn for yourself. What’s not to love?

If you love to be alone, loving to work from home is just a tiny hop away.

2) Find Creative Ways to Spend your Time

As the hours pass on by, especially on a slow day, there’s unlimited things you can do with your time. Those who master the art of being by themselves and loving their solitude will like their time working… and love the downtime even more.

Sure, it won’t always be easy. There will be days and periods of extreme wasted time. You’ll have re-watched a TV series for your third time. Or you’ll get to that unfortunate moment many of us have tasted where we feel we’ve “finished” YouTube.

But a moment will click. A moment in which you’ll realize that the possibilities are truly endless. You can get an advanced degree from your living room. Or write a novel. You can learn a new language or master breakdancing. And you have countless hours to do with as you please, no one looking over your shoulder judging you or wondering why you’re not “hard at work”.

I’ve had office jobs with massive amounts of downtime and it doesn’t even compare. Every moment you spend doing something not work related in an office, you fear someone will be judging you. Someone will be angry for your not advancing the company’s needs forward. But not in your own home. You do as you please. No one knows, no one cares.

Write down every single thing you wish to accomplish in this world. Then do all of them!

3) Embrace the Work from Home Advantages

My home is normally spotless, since I can wash my dishes during a break or clean that weird spill in the fridge. I was able to buy a dog, since he can joyously sleep on my leg while I work. Dozens of amazing Couch Surfers slumbered away just a few feet away from me as I typed away for my glorious job.

What happens when you’re out the door first thing in the morning and you return 9-10 hours later? Those dirty dishes stay dirty. The spill in the fridge becomes harder and harder to clean. Your poor pooch is so sad all day long that it’s borderline cruel. And your tired guests get kicked out the door first thing in the morning.

There are countless advantages to working from home. Explore them all! And find some new ones, while you’re at it.

4) Fill your Home with Healthy Eats

A great advantage of working from home is the ability to cook. You’re not tempted to go to Subway during your lunch break with your co-workers. There’s no vending machine. There’s complete accessibility to your kitchen, and you can’t use your commute as an excuse for rushed trips to 7-11.

You’re sitting in front of a computer anyway. Hop on Google and look for easy, healthy recipes. Get tons of plastic containers. And instead of spending your day knee deep in Cheetos and Mountain Dew, you can be eating like a king each and every day.

If after your first year working from home you’ve gained 70 pounds, it is unlikely you will be happy with the situation. So at the very least you’ll need to strategize about how to not become a huge, portly mess as a result of your amazing lifestyle.

5) Work from Home… But Get the @#$% out of the House as Soon as you Can

When my workday ends, I close my computer and head to the gym. If for whatever reason I don’t, it feels like it has a severe impact on the quality of my entire day. I might finish off my day having done many, many things, and I might feel a strong sense of accomplishment, but ultimately I’ll known I’ve been trapped indoors the whole time. It’s unhealthy, both physically and mentally.

So at the earliest possible moment, before your dopey brain can start coming up with excuses, get off your ass, and see what the outside world looks like.

You need to love to work from home. But you need to be a part of the world too!

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Posted by jaffeworld in career, opinion, 1 comment

The Shameful Marriage Industry

Marriage Industry

The smoke has cleared.

And I am now blissfully married to my one true love.

Everything was beautiful and we are working hard every day to have the dream life we’ve both always wanted.

But I can’t walk away from the experience without expressing some deep and painful concerns. The marriage industry is out of control, and there are countless aspects I need to speak out against. In this article I’d like to address just two.

The Rabbanut

For generations, the concept of a rabbinic body’s purpose in this world was to help improve the lives of those around them. Sadly, instead the Rabbanut of Israel has become synonymous with greed and inconvenience.

Everyone in Israel is forced by law to get married through the Rabbanut. The process is basically to “prove” that you are Jewish, single, and that you have fulfilled certain wedding requirements based on Jewish law.

I panicked as I entered the process, knowing full well that my divorce might cause problems. So, I called a handful of friends with similar situations and it seemed one of the recurring themes was people leaving the Rabbanut’s office in tears.

In tears!

Seriously.

The Shameful Rabbanut

Your organization should be ashamed. After generations of service to the Jewish world, selflessly giving to communities in a passionate attempt to make the world a better place, you now have reduced yourselves to aggressive harassment of couples in need of help. You have debased yourselves and the field, all in the name of a pathetic and pushy attempt to hold on to power.

And you charge a crap load of money in the process!

What are some of the “services” the Rabbanut does to earn their paycheck? They look over marriage and divorce documentation to make sure people are Jewish and not currently married. And couples send witnesses to them to testify that they are currently single.

The process is invasive, yet shallow. A five year-old could poke holes in their procedure, yet for whatever reason they’re obnoxious enough to send already stressed couples to the street sobbing uncontrollably.

The Incompetent Rabbanut

A great example of the Rabbanut’s silly incompetence was when I was required to go to the Rabbincal court in order to validate my divorce documentation. The office I needed to go to was in a terribly inconvenient location, with just as inconvenient office hours. My ex-wife had already been married with the same documentation in the same city. So I had to miss a great deal of work in order to be charged a large fee for them to essentially just print out a piece of paper, which I then had to deliver to others myself.

Why? All of these things could have been taken care of in minutes in a world with powerful computers and instant email capability. So why would they need to put me through all that? Why would I need to miss work, waste time, and throw money in the trash during an already busy and stressful time in life?

Greed.

And control.

And probably a hefty amount of incompetence.

Rabbi Revisited

Way back when I wrote about how I don’t like to be called “rabbi” anymore. I didn’t expect to have another reason. These people have turned the role into a joke at best; an embarrassment to the entire Jewish world at worst. I would never wish my name associated with such immorality.

Please, for the love of God, check yourselves. Figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing, and find out whether or not you’re causing more harm than good. And then do everything in your power to give the Rabbanut back its good name.

The Marriage Industry Bubble

I fear the marriage industry is a bubble. Alongside of other unsustainable ridiculousness of our generation, such as universities, I don’t see how the marriage industry could continue like this indefinitely.

The industry preys on the fact that everyone not only feels a religious, cultural, or moral obligation to get married, but they feel there are certain standards that must be met. Women need a certain level of fanciness in their wedding gown (or just need a wedding gown). There must be halls and caterers and photographers and a band and on and on and on.

And the industry responds by charging outrageous prices for every last detail with unimaginable hidden fees. And when the smoke clears, and you think you can’t handle the pressure of everything, what happens? Wedding planners swoop in to save the day! And another fee gets tossed into the pile. (Side note: Our planner was great and I’d recommend him fully and completely.)

The Marriage Industry Aggression

First of all, when those getting married are seeking advice, it is wildly inappropriate to use that as an opportunity to just sell us your services. I felt like every time I posted anything online about my engagement party or wedding, a half dozen people sent me messages aggressively trying to get me to use their band or whatever.

I’m asking for advice. I’m under pressure. And just because I mention a wedding, doesn’t mean you need to swarm like vultures and devour me. My joyous occasion should not be your platform for aggressive marketing.

Marriage Industry Alternatives

Second of all, there are alternatives. Many alternatives. People can elope. Or they can just remain together unmarried indefinitely. And on and on. I fear this is the direction we’re headed if prices keep climbing and the industry keeps everything as fantastically stressful as it has so far.

Do we really want to undermine the institution of marriage for our own greed? Or do we want to do what we can to allow people to become wed in relative peace and harmony, without an additional looming threat of financial ruin?

The wrong choice is bad for everyone.

Choose wisely.

A Quick Shout Out

A quick shout out is in order for those who were shining lights in all this craziness.

The flower shop that gave us petals for our flower girls. When you told me they were free, I didn’t believe you. “Free” was not a word I was used to hearing during this process. It seemed like every time I sneezed, someone handed me a tissue and sent me a bill for $50. People, buy their flowers. They deserve it.

To all the friends and family who helped out or offered to help out, it is beyond appreciated. And to anyone who understood that a bride and groom need a lot of space and as little as possible to add to their stress, you are beautiful. Keep up the good work!

As for the rest of the industry, marriage is not an institution meant to be exploited or undermined. Shame on you.

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, judaism, opinion, personal story, religion, 0 comments