Take Another Piece of My Heart


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I just got a phone call from New Jersey. Thomas and his wife are going to have a baby.

Yes, Thomas and I broke up in 2008. Yes, I’ve dated many men since then and even loved one or two along the way. Yes, I was at Thomas and Melanie’s wedding in 2011 and I put on a happy supportive face for them. Deep down inside, though, every time I see him or hear about something like this, I can’t help but feel like he’s breaking my heart all over again.

In my heart, I’m fairly certain that Thomas was the one. And I screwed things up.

I loved Thomas. Like loved him with all of heart and soul. He was my first real love. I saw the man he was destined to become when he was nothing and had no confidence in himself and I loved him despite his flaws and hang ups. I saw what a good man he was inside and how he would be the best husband and the best father someday. I really thought we were going to get married. We were young, we dated for 3 years, we lived together for half that time. We supported each other, we laughed together, we had wonderfully meaningful conversations all the time. We saw each other through the hardest times and the best times.

I was right about it all, except we did not get married. In fact, Melanie is the girl he cheated on me with that broke us up. I guess that relationship was meant to be.

All of my friends thought I could do better than him. Apparently they were wrong, because i haven’t.

I know that I have an amazing life now, and I would not trade it for anything. But when I think about Thomas and Melanie having the life that I envisioned for the two of us all those years ago, it still stings.

I try to be happy for him and I think I do a good job of masking my hurt when we talk, all while my insides are screaming at me.

When will it stop hurting? When will I be able to confidently look back and say “he was not right for me?” When will I believe that everything worked out for the best?

Maid of Honor Speech


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Here is my speech from Laura’s wedding yesterday… Enjoy!

Hi everyone. My name is Joan and I’m Laura’s best friend. Today we’re here to celebrate the tremendous and obvious love that Laura and Aaron have found in each other, but I’m sure that many of you had the same reaction I did when I first heard that they were even dating…it didn’t make sense. I didn’t get it. Aaron was the quiet nice hot guy in our friends’ band and Laura was my crazy best friend who used to have blue hair. Not that there’s anything wrong with blue hair.

Anyway, needless to say, I get it now. It’s impossible not to get it when you spend more than 15 seconds in their company. The love they share radiates off of them and fills the room.

Actually, they don’t know this, but I knew that they were going to be married before they did. Before they started dating, Laura was over at my place in New Jersey and we were talking about the three things she wanted most in life at that point: a baby elephant, a top hat, and a flame thrower. Realizing that two out of the three were a pipe dream, this conversation ended with Laura posting on Facebook that she will marry the man who buys her a top hat.

A year later, the Facebook post was long forgotten about when Laura and Aaron started dating. A year after that, Aaron bought Lauren a silk vintage top hat for Christmas, obviously knowing her very well. She wasn’t shy about wanting a top hat. Marriage wasn’t part of the conversation at this point but when I heard about the top hat and saw the pictures, I knew that Lauren’s dramatic request for a top hat on Facebook had just instantly turned into a prediction for her future. The following Christmas a year later, Aaron proposed and the rest is history.

Today I wish you both nothing but the best and a happily ever after filled with love and joy. Aaron, you are part of the family now. That means my family too..and I love you. Thank you for making my best friend so happy and taking such good care of her. And Laura, I love you so much. You are my sister and I am so happy for you and honored to be part of this, the first day of the rest of your lives. Lechayim!

Old Friends, New Age


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There’s a song in one of the muppet movies that goes “saying goodbye, why is it sad? Makes us remember the good times we’ve had.” And you know what? It’s so true.

This weekend I saw a group of my very best friends in the world, most of whom I haven’t seen since July 2011 when I moved. I’ll admit, I was nervous about seeing them and how well we would be able to just pick up and move on…with all of them, it was seamless. Flawless. Like no time had passed even though we never keep in touch.


These are people I’ve known since high school. We formed a group in 2002 and we’ve been stretched in all directions since then but apparently the bonds of friendship run strong in us and time and distance only make us stronger.

It was so wonderful to see them, and so sad to say goodbye 18 short hours later. I cried harder and harder with everyone I had to say goodbye to and now I find myself blogging from the gate at JFK airport, excited to go home as always, but welling up thinking about the next time I’ll see them all. It won’t be for quite awhile.

It was so interesting…there really is nothing like old friends who really know you. We laughed, we joked, we hugged, we cuddled, we talked seriously. Ha col. I forget that my friends at home are relatively new friendships. My longest friend in Israel is Ben and he and I are only going on a little over two years. A drop in the bucket in comparison to people like Alison or Thomas who I have known for over 10 years now. Truly remarkable for someone like me that thought I would never have friends longer than three years because we were always moving when I was a child.

Laura’s wedding was beautiful and magical and simple. Perfect. She looked stunning and by the morning, he stress of Friday had vanished. It was an occasion full of love and joy, exactly the way it was meant to be. And my speech was very well received. Maybe I’ll post it here too. :)

My Laura is married… My Alison is buying a house with her boyfriend of 9 years… We’re all grown up.

I can’t wait to be home again. Every time is come to America I cry my eyes out, especially when it’s time to say goodbye to people. This does not indicate a desire to stay with them full time though. Just that I wish my friends could be a bigger part of my amazing life in Tel Aviv (or any part of it at all). I know that you can’t have everything and that I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world. But seeing them all made me remember just how much I miss them when are apart. They are part of me. Always will be.

I know I’ll see them again, though I don’t know when. But I know when I do, it will be amazing. Because, together, we are amazing.

The Big Day


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I’m currently laying in bed in Laura’s honeymoon suite. It’s 6:09am in upstate NY, I’ve been up since 4:30am, I’m jet lagged, and I’ve been in America less than 48 hours.

It feels like I’ve been away from home for weeks.

I actually left Israel to begin this journey at 2:30am last Thursday morning…2 days ago. Ages ago.

So far this trip has been ok. I’ve done my maid of honor duties the best I can, putting out fires between Laura and her soon to be mother-in-law, making sure she eats, getting her hotel room changed because the first one had an adjoining room with small children in it…etc. But I’m feeling very guilty for not having been here for the other preparations.

She’s had a dress fiasco: starting with the epic quest to find a dress and then settling on one that she “didn’t hate,” culminating in the tailor taking it in too much so now she can’t breath in it. A 2nd “party dress” and new shoes later, it’s ok-ish, but certainly not ideal.

She’s had issues with her mother-in-law-to-be trying to take too much control of the wedding and then being mad that she’s doing so much. But I learned yesterday that this woman is very bitchy and going through menopause so, it makes a bit more sense. But still, things almost got really ugly yesterday. (That is, if you don’t count Laura and her fiancé being in individual screaming matches with her throughout the day that left all three if them in tears and the rest of us awkwardly trying to not get involved in the other room)

This same woman threw a bridal shower for her in upstate NY (even though Laura lives in NYC) and then told her she could only invite 3 of her girlfriends because the shower “was really to introduce her to grandma’s friends from church.”

This woman is delusional.

She hasn’t had a bachelorette party. I planned on doing bachelorette-things with her yesterday but shit hit the fan so early in the morning yesterday that the day was a wash with last minute preparations and fighting.

But she and her fiancé seem really happy. I’m excited for them.

I’m also excited/nervous to see all these people whom I haven’t seen in almost 3 years. It will be quite a reunion…maybe. Or if it’s anything like my friend Anthony’s reaction to seeing me after 3 years away, “oh hey!” It will be underwhelming. We’ll see.

I’m also really excited about finally having my own hotel room tonight. The night two nights Laura and I have been hotel-hopping together which has been fun, but I’m ready to shower and sleep naked.

And finally, Sunday afternoon, I’ll be headed home again, to arrive on Monday afternoon. Going home is always the best part.

If other news, back at home in the holyland, I moved into a new slightly bigger apartment a few weeks ago! That’s mostly why I’ve been too preoccupied to write…moving and unpacking and shopping and cleaning etc has kept me really busy. But my apartment is much more comfortable now and people can actually come over and stay comfortably! I upgraded from the shoe box to a nice size hat box, and I’m really loving it. It has a balcony and everything!

6:30am. Laura’s alarm is going to go off in an hour or so. I’m starving. Time to go forage.

Thanks for sticking with me, even in periods of quiet, to those of you who do! ❤️❤️❤️


Live Each Day for Every Moment


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Recently, I entertained the idea of entering an online essay writing contest. Grand prize was $1000, so why not? I figured. What did I have to lose?

So, I wrote my essay. I gave it to a friend to read and she loved it, showering it with praise. Then, just as I was about to submit it, I had an idea: I should tell my students about this contest and let them enter it. They’re turning into great young writers and this would be a great real-world opportunity for them to flex their muscles!

Feeling not right about “competing” with my students, I decided not to enter. Not that I think I had a real chance, but just in case I actually won, I would feel bad.

But, I have a perfectly good essay on the theme of an “inspirational place.” Should it go to waste? Hell, no.

Here it is: (side note: my student’s essay is so much better than mine and I could not be more proud!)

I was 26 and living in New Jersey working 10 hours a day in a menial job just to pay rent. Just as any American 20-something, I had my degree from a reputable university and had slowly been disillusioned from years of not being able to find a job that both supported me financially and emotionally. In short, I was in a rut.

I needed a change. I was far too young to be turning into someone so cynical. I needed a jump start to kick the engine of my young, vital life back into gear.

When a friend told me she was taking a trip to Israel and invited me to join her, I thought that this was exactly what I needed – some time away in the sun, somewhere I had never been.

A short month later, I found myself in Israel, wide-eyed with wonder. The country seemed magical to me. The colors were extraordinarily vibrant, the sun had warm rays that cradle you from the inside, and the food was fresh and full of flavor. This place was unlike any I had ever been, but the threat of returning to my stalled life was nipping at my heels.

On day four of the trip, I was in Tzfat, the home of Kabbalah (or Jewish mysticism). The weather was terrible that morning. It was raining on and off and a cold wind was whipping through the ancient stone alleyways. Bundled up in a coat, scarf, gloves, and boots, I wandered through the alleys looking at the same old souvenirs directed at tourists. Nothing was standing out to me.

Cold, wet, and looking for a small reprieve, I ducked into a small coffee shop to warm up and think. Although the trip had been a great adventure thus far, I worried that my unfulfilling life was waiting for me back in NJ in just six days. I must have had quite a serious look on my face because the waiter at the coffee shop approached me and asked what I was thinking about “so hard.”

When I told him what was on my mind, he sat down at my small table. This man, not the sage religious-type you expect to get life advice from, explained to me that I am in control of my life, even if it doesn’t appear that way. He told me that when you always live with your eyes on the future, you miss the present. You miss the children playing in the street, full of innocence and joy; you miss the exquisite taste of the fruit as its juices fill your mouth; and most importantly, you miss the moments that could change your life forever. You just have to choose to be aware of the small things, because “who knows what will happen tomorrow?”

He was absolutely right.

Here I was, in this ancient, beautiful city on a mountain side in a historic and vibrant country and all I could think about was the rain and my sadness of returning to my regular life in less than a week. I promised him, and myself, that I would try. “You will be fine,” he said to me with a big smile.

Stepping out of the coffee shop, feeling like I had a renewed sense of self, I looked out over the mountainside and literally saw the fog and mist dissipating. I stood there, watching the fog lift for a solid 10 minutes until all I could see was the beautiful green mountainside and the blue sky. Turning around, the colors of Tzfat came alive! Tzfat is a blue city; sky blue to be exact. The white Jerusalem stone alleys and buildings are adorned with splashes of color and every nook and cranny has something to see and explore: artists’ galleries, synagogues, schools, antiques.  Even the “graffiti” was beautiful art. “How had I not noticed this before?” I wondered to myself. The storm had finally passed over, in more ways than one.

I breathed deeply. The air was so fresh from the rain. This time, as I walked down the alleyways, I noticed the people. People were coming out of their stores to meet their neighbors to see how they managed in the rain. People meeting on the street would stop and embrace before continuing on. Men were humming to themselves as they dusted their shelves. Women were walking with small children skipping next to them. A group of school age boys were kicking a soccer ball on their way home from school. There was happiness and love all around me, and I was lucky enough to get to witness it.

I left Tzfat that day a changed person. I have not been the same since.


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