Friday, October 19, 2007

Go! ... And I'll C U When U Get There! (Lech Lecha)

Casseopia touched on this earlier this week, but in Lech Lecha, Abram is just told to go. (Genesis 12:1) He's given no specifics, just a big picture promise that it's going to work out in the end, despite the possibility for complications in between. A blogging buddy of mine, Jess of What? The Curtains? recently pointed out this is an attitude that applies when it comes to baseball, particularly for fans of the New York Yankees:
It's like the Yankees and Red Sox play out almost every season this choice of how you can view your life. The Yankees are all optimism and certainty that things will work out in the end. As my friend Aaron once said: 'The Yankees are God's team.' The Red Sox are all insecurity and uncertainty and neediness. In constant doubt they are worthy of winning.

The cliche about baseball is that it's a marathon, not a race. In April, the Sox swept and then took two of three from New York. In August, the Yankees swept and now just wrapped up their two-of-three at Fenway. Perfect symmetry to prove how baseball gives everyone a chance at redemption (like Giambi on Friday after his botches), a chance to balance wins with losses when there are enough opportunities to play.

Sometimes I think we believe life is supposed to unfold in a particular fashion of wins and losses. That it is supposed to be a sprint to be the win we want. But usually things unfold in a much more complicated fashion. At least, the things worth fighting for do.
Complicated, but worth it ... that's life. And it's an outlook I share. I got facetiously annoyed at Jess because she successfully married my attitude on living to the one professional sports team I actively despise.

And this is relevant more than ever for me right now. I graduated college more than two years ago, holding an internship at that I only scored after being rejected and then run through the ringer a month later, before I ended up covering the Mets and the Yankees. (It made no sense to me either.) They extended me through the playoffs (plus), but then only needed me to freelance four articles the entire offseason (minus). So I put my passion for reading to good use and got a job at Barnes & Noble. And was working there for eight months. Living at home. Applying unsuccessfully to the few sports journalism openings I came across.

And *WHAM*

My former editor tells me there's a new job at the Baseball Hall. I apply and within six weeks, I'm living in the Boondocks, not a person I know within four hours. But it turns out there's a spoken word poetry scene. And an unofficial chapter of my fraternity. And I wing it until it makes sense.

A year and five months later, I'm organizing the local poetry scene, have met enough people to claim 73 Facebook friends at SUCO, moved in with two people I met up here, and only get back to New York every few months, because I'm well established enough that it's an inconvenience.

And two months after I had finally refocused, preparing myself to be here through August 2008, and a college friend tells me to keep an eye out because some stuff is going down at And a few weeks later, there's an official job opening. And a week after applying, a friend hit me up on GChat for the first time in a while, mentioning she was searching for a job. I mentioned the NBA application, and she lets on that a former coworker and friend is now working in HR there. My stuff gets forwarded through again, with a CLUTCH referral, and I get a phone call the next business day, setting up an interview for this coming Monday.

Honestly, I have no idea what's going on. And it's still an offer away from being really real. And it's a position that could evaporate at the end of the NBA season next year. But the situation screams "GO!" Get to the Dirty Jerz, do how I do at this interview, and let the situation play itself out. All I can do is trust that one day, it'll all make sense.

And just like Jew No. 1, I'm down with that. Word to Old Abe. Knew what was good 6,000 years ahead of the game. He did how he do. I can only keep trying.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Space Between (Lech Lecha)

From Casseopia:

I went to see a special screening of Wes Anderson’s newest film, “The Darjeeling Limited” a couple nights ago. You should go see the movie – it’s a great story about the search for spiritual connection. Wes Anderson was there, and so was one of his creative sidekicks, Jason Schwartzman (a Yid), for a Q&A session after the movie.

Both of these guys are geniuses in their own right, but Schwartzman gets honorable mention here for two reasons:
  1. His bangs take up so much forehead space they deserve their own area code
  2. He gives good advice.
This week’s Parsha, Lech Lecha, tells the story of the beginning of Abraham’s journey. Abraham (known as Avram at the beginning of the Parsha) is commanded to “Go!” God says, “Go from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house, [and go] to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) Abraham complies, with only the promise of becoming the father of a great nation leading the way. God doesn’t tell Abraham where he’s going, God doesn’t tell him how long he’ll be gone, just that he needs to go. Now.

As someone who has followed in the hallowed footsteps of our wandering ancestors, I try to collect as many nuggets of truth as I can. Like Abraham, I don’t always have time to prepare for life’s twists and turns and it’s nice to know that at least I’ll always have a collection of wise thoughts in the back of my mind. These tidbits of advice are portable and they have served me well as guidelines along my own journey.

So naturally, I asked Jason Schwartzman to share some wisdom with me. As a writer and an actor, I figured he’d done some pretty deep thinking about life. He told me about a family trip he took as a kid to Italy, and a tender moment he shared with his mom in the Sistine Chapel. She pointed up at the ceiling and said to him, “You know how the fingers in the painting don’t touch? You see how they’re painted so that they are almost touching? No matter what you do in life, you should always leave room for the space between the fingers.” Did she mean space for God? Space for each other? Space for Natalie Portman? (If you’re a dude and a fan, see the movie.)

I don’t think we need to know what the space is for, as long as it’s there. As young Jews, we deal with a lot of variables in our lives, and we face big questions about our futures and our past. This week’s Parsha teaches that in dealing with these big questions and even bigger changes, we should leave room in our lives for spirituality and new opportunities.

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