Posted in Life

Who Can I Ask for Advice?

I wish I had someone like me to speak to.

I realized that I am very comfortable listening to other people talk about sex and their sexuality, but when it comes to my own thoughts and feelings, I am actually really uncomfortable. I realize that I still (feel like) I live in a society that thinks that I should not be a sexual being, and for some reason I have accepted that idea for myself.

The physicality of this relationship is not something that I can talk about to everyone. I feel like I never allowed myself to desire or to think sexually. Not that it is necessarily something “wrong”, but rather just something that was not part of me. As I become more comfortable, I also desire more- and I am not sure what to do with that. I actually enjoy touching, and it both excites and scares me what more would feel like.

I have given other people advice when it comes to ideas of pre-marital sex, but I am not sure if I am able to take it myself. I don’t actually think that pre-marital sex is innately wrong. From learning the sources, it seems like it is, but only if a person is randomly sleeping around. I think that when a couple is actually in an intimate relationship, it might actually be the right thing to do. But even with thinking this, I also have something that is still telling me that to wait till marriage. That sex is something “sacred”.

Until now, I never really had to think much about it. I mean, I thought a lot about it with regards to other people, but I have not really thought about it for myself. I always thought that I would think about it when the time comes, but also thinking that the time would never really come. But here I am actually in a relationship that I can see us ending up having sex- and that scares me. I actually feel comfortable with physicality with him, and I worry that if I go farther, we will actually go all the way- and I don’t know how I feel about this religiously. I can’t even figure out what I would tell myself if I was asked this question…

 

 

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Posted in Life

Last Day at Work…Pesach…Three Weeks

After 4.5 years of working in the nursing home, I said goodbye. It was one of the most bitter sweet moments. The residents were more upset than I thought they would be. I work with people with dementia and other age related issues. They are people who need help with all or most of their daily living activities, and many times it is because they are not always aware of what is going on around them.

Somehow they were aware of me. When I said that I was leaving they were sad and in shock. Those who I didn’t think paid any attention to what I was doing, told me that they are sad that I am going, and that I shouldn’t. The children and spouses of the residents all told me how great I did, and how much they and their loved one appreciated what I did. I heard how influential my crazy ideas were, and how much they have seen a change in the space.

What was even more surprising wasn’t the residents that I worked with, but rather those from independent living who I only saw in the lobby. They did not take it well that I was going- and I didn’t even work with them. I saw them on my way out and smiled and said hello. One man, I saw every morning on my way into work, and he constantly told me “to see your smile, it is worth everything”- and wanted to make sure that I would never lose that.

At the same time everyone was happy for me. They know that I have been studying for 4 years to become a rabbi, and that I am leaving so I can finish my last year- finally. They have been with me all the way. They excitedly tell their family members what I do. They hear about when I speak at conferences, or go to conferences, or there is an article written about me. I truly feel like they are all grandparents to me, and shep nachas the same way that my biological grandparents do.

My second to last day was the ball- a party that I started four years ago, that when we started everyone was convinced it would fail, but it has been a highlight each year. This year was no exception, if anything it was even greater. The band that played was great. The residents danced with me. Family members came. There was just so much positive energy- it was exactly how I would want my going-away party to be. The residents and staff wrote a book of messages to me- the most beautiful was seeing those notes that the residents wrote themselves.

I know that I am not always the greatest at receiving compliments, but it was really nice to hear how much I meant- both to the staff and to the residents. I hope that I will have a chance to visit, and that some of the people that I grew to love are still going to be there, although I know and understand that them not being there is part of life. They are people who I great to love; who taught me; who shared with me; who I shared with; and I will miss them being part of my life. I also hope that I will one day have another job that is as meaningful.

As soon as I finished work, it was two days till Pesach. This too was bitter sweet. There was the stress of getting ready; preparing for an interesting seder; but knowing that it might be my last one in Israel for a while, and that I need to start packing.

The cleaning went much quicker than I feel it does normally. At certain points I felt stressed because I didn’t feel stressed (I know- I’m crazy). But everything got finished. I even had sushi with shuk boy, as I have for 4 out of 5 of the past years.

I went to the Rosh Yeshiva for seder again, and as usual I went to help pre-seder, where I help make the charoset. There is something special about the family, coming together and I personally enjoy helping out with the preparations, it makes me feel like I am more part of something than if I was just a guest.

Walking home that night, once again I felt a weird energy in the air. I feel this every year when walking around the night before pesach. There is something more awake. Stores and restaurants that are normally closed are open, and full of people. Lights are still on. The streets are still quiet, but people are not asleep. I don’t know what it is, but there is change in the air.

Seder was nice as usual. We finished again at 5:45am. For the first time, I felt like I was too old for it. It was nice, and there were many nice aspects- but I also don’t think I would want to do it again. There are aspects that I hopefully will take from it and bring it to my own seders in the future.

I’m still seeing this guy- which is so surprising to me. I really enjoy spending time with him, and it actually makes me sad to think of breaking it off. I haven’t told shuk boy or most of my friends yet- but slowly it is coming out. It is funny how different it feels from any other guy… For now I am just trying to enjoy while I can, especially as I only have 3.5 weeks left.

So here is to the next 3.5 weeks. I hope that it is full of happiness and love. It doesn’t become to stressful. That I am able to say goodbye to those who are important to me, and other to be able to say goodbye to me. I hope that this is the right move, and from this good things will happen.

Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

Sensuality & Torah Learning

The other day in class we someone spoke about sensuality and teaching Torah. That one of the women (and actually many agreed) with the idea that teaching Torah puts them in a place of sexuality, and they find that men interact with them in a way that they do not want. The woman talking was asking for advice on ways to make the barrier clear, that they are there to teach and lead. She asked someone before, and was told to make sure that she reminds the person in the conversation what her role is, talk about Torah, and talk about the institution…that way making a barrier between her and the man at hand.

I found this conversation fascinating, as it is not something I ever experienced. I never really find that people interact with me in a sexual/sensual way. I find that people interact with me on an intellectual way- but with that I had no advice to give her, as I don’t even know what I do to create that interaction.

Someone brought up the idea that one’s sexual energy can be channelled into Torah learning energy. This made me wonder if somehow I brought my sexual energy into my Torah learning, and so made it as if I don’t have/have little sexual energy that is given off. That somehow, I give off a vibe of teaching/learning and not one of please ask me out/hit on me.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my internal divide between my brain and my body. I realize that there is very little that I do with my body- not just exercise wise, but also I don’t touch/am touched that often. At times that I am, it actually is kind of intense, and something I learn to be comfortable with- but also something that I am very not used to. My brain on the other hand, is something that I use all the time. I sit and learn. I talk about what I am learning. I listen to others, and then use my brain to figure out the puzzle to help.

While talking to the guy I am dating about this, he told me that there is “purity” about me, and that touching is something that is an intimate act. That I don’t exude a sexual vibe, but that is not a bad thing- he likes it.

I hope that my Torah learning hasn’t taken away all of my sexuality/sensuality. I hope that I am able to find a way to balance the two, while still being able to present myself in a way, and not be afraid of unwanted advances. I hope that I am able to find the connection between my brain and my body. Maybe it wasn’t that other people only saw me as a brain, but rather I saw myself as a brain and that is how others saw me (chicken and the egg).

Posted in Dating, Decisions

This Makes No Sense…What Should I Do?

I met someone. I met someone who is making me feel different than anyone else that I have ever met. There is a level of intimacy and intensity that I have never felt and I am not 100% sure what to do with. It is not a bad feeling; actually there is something nice about it.

There is something nice about feeling comfortable with another person. I find that I am able (and willing) to actually say what I am thinking and feeling. It was comfortable to be seen out with him, and for him to meet me roommate, or to just lay there with him.

But then none of this makes any sense as I am leaving in 5 weeks, and he is gone for a week of that. He is older and interested in dating for marriage (as am I), but what is this? This makes no sense whatsoever.

The rational part of me is telling me to break it off, because it has gotten really intense really quickly, and it will only get more so if we continue to see each other. But the other part of me is telling me to stay with it, that there is something happening. Usually, my rational part tells me and forces me to cut something like this off, but for some reason the idea of doing that makes me sad, and I want to say with it…

And so the two of us have spoken, and both of us feel the same way, and really have no clue what to do. Do I push to stay with him and see what happens (who knows we might hate each other or have to have a serious conversation about a long distance relationship)? Or do I say goodbye now? Or do I do something else that I haven’t thought of yet?

What would you do? What advice do you have for me?

Posted in Life

Leaving is Coming Closer- 7 More Days at Work

I have 7 more days at work…

I am sitting here finishing my last conversation group presentation. I decided that our last trip together would be to the US, and then tell them I am moving for a year.

As I am sitting here I am watching the care takers work the residents. A worker tells a resident, “give me your hand” and then making a joke about marriage, with both the resident and worker laughing together.

As I sit her in the office, there are two residents who walk to the dining room on their own, and make sure to say good morning to me.

Yesterday I was talking to some of the family members of one of the residents, and all they say is how great it is that I am here…how can I tell them that I am leaving?

I haven’t told the residents yet that I am going. After speaking to the social workers, I will tell them at the end of next week, so they have a week to know. I just have no clue how to tell them. I don’t know how to say goodbye, as with this population there is even a greater chance that when I come back, they won’t be around.

But more than that, they have become part of me. They are people who I sit and chat with. Who will comment on my clothing or my looks, but also question me about life. So many hours of the past four and half years have been spent here- and the truth is I really do love them.

I worry about who will take over. I worry that they won’t find someone right away, and things will go back to being quiet like they were before I arrived. I worry that there won’t be people fighting for them anymore- be that having special programming or just making sure that they are able to go to Yom Kippor davening.

I’m going to miss spinning around for specific people to check out my outfit. I’m going to miss sitting and reading a book on Jews in America, and hearing what their actual experience was. I’m going to miss hearing stories told as if they were the most regular thing in the world, about starting the State of Israel or living through the Holocaust. I’m going to miss bringing a woman water most mornings and being showered in brachot.

My leaving is coming closer…

I hope that I find the right way to say goodbye, and even more I hope that they find someone great to replace me.

PS. If anyone has ideas of how to say goodbye, I’m happy to hear. The population that I work with is seniors in nursing care (meaning that they need help with most or all of their daily living activities).

 

Posted in Life

I Feel Weird

Ever since Purim everything feels strange around me. It is as if things moved around and everything is happening in a different way than it usually does. I’ve been having conversations that I don’t usually have; interactions are different; and really just my insides feel not the same.

Last week I had a weird week of sleeping- part of it with stress (I think) and part is this weirdness (which might also be stress related…). On Sunday I woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep- so matter how much tossing and turning I did. At this point I no longer remember what I was dreaming, but something made me wake up in a panic. That obviously effected the rest of my day. I even came home early and took a nap.

The next day, I found out from my friend that she spoke to shuk boy, telling him that I still have feelings for him, and asking him why he was acting so strange. After lots of over thinking, I actually went with my gut reactions (something I almost never do…especially in situations like this) and wrote to him, and told him he was silly, and I didn’t think “that ship has sailed”. His only response thus far was “hm…I wonder who you were talking to”, so I still don’t know what he thinks or feels, and I am too afraid to ask. After class finishing at 12, I couldn’t fall asleep till 2.

On Tuesday, I went to a friend’s wedding, which was a lot of fun. I saw a lot of people that I haven’t seen in years. Again my brain wasn’t totally on my head- when I was planning on going to the wedding, I mixed up my days of learning, and thought I had to get to the wedding late- in reality I finished class an hour earlier than I had said in my head. At the wedding I saw tlv, and it turns out he dated a good friend of mine on and off when they were 16-18…such a small world. It was also one of the first times seeing him…and I was still missing him, for whatever reason. But I got home at 12, and couldn’t fall asleep till 2.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I don’t think anything crazy happened…but again I had class till 12, and couldn’t fall asleep till 2. I did have interesting conversations. On Wednesday, a man from the independent living had me sit with him to talk for a bit. I was leaving the building, but something told me that I should stay and talk. On Thursday, a woman’s sister was there and having a very hard time with how her sister was doing, and again on my way out she had me sit with her. It is not something I usually do in my job, but something was telling me that I should stay to be there for them. Thursday as well, a woman stopped me by the bus stop to talk about her kids and the weather…I had never seen her in my life.

On Friday I didn’t wake up until 10am (which is very late for me). My brain felt weird and slow. I thought I had all the food I needed, but it turned out that I didn’t have anything- so I had to go to the makolet. I got there, and ended up having an hour long conversation about theology with the owner and the sales clerk- with neither of them wanting to leave so they could continue the conversation. Eventually I got home to cook and clean, but I really felt like I was floating around, and concentrating on the recipes was difficult.

Shabbat came, and I went on a walk- saw the same couple and woman from the nursing home twice that day. On the first walk, had a long conversation with some people from the home, but all in all just enjoyed the sun and air. After Shabbat I got a sms from tlv asking if I wanted to go see a play, and in a mode of spontaneity, I said yes. The play was ok. But on the ride back home, we were playful- I was much calmer in this conversation that I have been in a while. He spoke about coming over for Shabbat, but it didn’t work out- and I have been thinking more about desire and the missing of touch. And then in his car, again we went back to talking and touching and kissing. I don’t know what I want from him…

And then two other people who I met in the past week want to have coffee with me. I don’t want to date them, but both are interesting humans that I want to get to know. I guess part of me is saying that I have 6 weeks, just go with it.

Work knows that I am going. My landlord now knows that I am leaving. I spoke to school to figure out what next year is going to look like. I started giving away books.

I just feel weird. I hope the flipping over of Purim into the rest of the year is for good. I know that everything for me is in the momentum of change, I just didn’t think I would actually feel the unsteadiness, and  change in my actions.