Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Luke Ford, Rabbi Rabbs On Torah Portion IV

Luke Ford writes:

This week we have two Torah portions — Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1–30).

Luke Ford, Rabbi Rabbs On Torah Portion V

Luke Ford writes:

This week we have two Torah portions — Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1–30).

Luke Ford, Rabbi Rabbs On Torah Portion III

Luke Ford writes:

This week we have two Torah portions — Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1–30).

Luke Ford, Rabbi Rabbs On Torah Portion

Luke Ford writes:

This week we have two Torah portions — Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1–30).

guest16: Man, a girl shows up one time and now they just letch at her over and over again
guest43: The highest status person ever to appear before Luke’s cam was that Levinas woman,
guest43: Also a convert
guest43: Tall, BRILLIANT woman
guest43: And great looking, too
guest16: she is very smart, so was suissa, he’s had smart people before
guest43: Monica O
guest43: The total package
Bernadette: Every single week you bring her up!
guest43: Elegant, brilliant, tall, lovely, accomplished.
Bernadette: Honestly, why not ask the Levinas woman out?
guest43: I am transfixed by her
guest43: We live thousands of miles apart
Bernadette: Fischel/Tzaddik, love knows no bounds…distance shouldn’t make a difference.


Luke Ford, Rabbi Rabbs On Torah Portion II

Luke Ford writes:

This week we have two Torah portions — Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1–30).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fat Frumies Hung Up With Modesty

Luke Ford writes:

I was walking to shul on Pico Blvd this morning near two modestly dressed fat women in their thirties complaining about friends.

One said: "Even if a garment is loose and covers everything, it is not tznious (modest) if it is a certain color."

Other woman: "I agree."

First woman: "Some colors for painting your nails are not tznious."

Other woman: "I agree."

I wonder how much of the venom these chubbies directed towards their friends was coming from religious fervor and how much was from a desire that every other woman look as shlumpy as they do?


I Love People Who Love Their Parents

Luke Ford writes:

I’ve found that people who hate their parents are usually trouble. People who love their parents tend to be better-adjusted to life. They tend to play more nicely with others. They’re happier. They have bonds.

I know one pick-up artist who refuses to date women from a broken home. He says that divorce has taught them bad ways of relating to the opposite sex. I think this is extreme, but I find it comforting when people are bonded to their families.

It’s like Pico-Robertson. Some Jews hate this community. They say it is boring. Conformist. Blah, blah.


If Rav Schachter Says March, They March

Luke Ford writes:

I was fascinated by the Meir Kin case. Not the messy details of the divorce, but the side issue of three Modern Orthodox shuls in Pico-Robertson repeatedly sending their members to picket outside the home of Meir Kin’s parents.

I love Bnai David-Judea, Beth Jacob and Young Israel of Century City. I hold them close to my heart and I know they love me in return. I’ve sung praises to God in these holy places. I’ve studied sacred text. I’ve picked up girls.

So I was taken aback to see these shuls sending off their troops to picket outside a Jew’s home over a messy divorce case.

What if I met a girl at a Torah study, and we then retired to a coffee shop to study these lofty issues in greater depth, and then I walked her home, and then at the doorstep, I leaned in for a kiss to seal our studies and she said, "Get away from me you filthy old pervert"?

What then?


How Dennis Prager Sees Himself

Luke Ford writes:

I thought there was a particularly revealing moment on the second hour of Dennis Prager’s radio show. He often says this very thing.

From PragerTopia: "Dennis has a second conversation with Ian Plimer, Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences as The University of Adelaide. His new book is Heaven and Earth."

Plimer talked about how his critics attacked him instead of attacking his arguments.

Prager responded: "Well, welcome to those of us who are somewhat inured to this. By and large, the social and scientific and political left tend to use ad hominem arguments rather than arguments to the subject. I have witnesses this. If you put my name in Google with any curse word you can think of, you will come up with thousands of hits."

Dennis Prager has been making this claim since at least 1997 though he used to say "search engine" instead of "Google."


Yogi Bhajan's 80th Birthday Party

Luke Ford writes:

Tuesday. 9:30 pm. My yoga teacher reminds us of the next morning’s celebration of Yogi Bhajan’s 80th birthday. It begins at 2:40 with Japji.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to miss Japji.

I am so excited by this prospect of an invigorating start to my day — and by the after-fumes of my brilliant Dennis Prager post late Tuesday night — that I can not sleep.

At 2 am, I hear sounds on the roof and grad my gun and wait for the man to come through my door.

It never happens.

I finally rise at 2:22 am and take a cold shower. Then I trim my bangs (it’s important not to go to sadhana with long bangs and I want to save the $16 of a new haircut).


Torah Study In Pico-Robertson

Luke Ford writes:

I’m talking about people who study it every day in the original.

And I am not talking about rabbis or anybody who gets paid to study Torah.

There are three at Bnai David-Judea (about 430 member families) — Shep Rosenman, Jordan Lurie, and….

There are about ten at YICC (about 300 member families, I’m not talking the daf yomi crowd, even I did daf yomi, that’s just listening, I’m talking about Torah study in Hebrew and Aramaic).

I don’t know if there are any at Aish HaTorah (about 300 member families). They’re almost all baalei teshuva (returnees to Judaism who rarely develop text skills).

Beth Jacob (about 950 member families) has about 30, maybe 50.

Anshe Emet (100 member families) is mainly baalei teshuva. I suspect maybe half a dozen study Torah daily.


Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom

Luke Ford writes:

I’m reading this new book by Bruce Bawer and I feel like a dilettante. Much of Europe is surrendering to Islam and what am I doing?

Bawer makes the point that the Ayatollah’s fatwa (death sentence) against novelist Salmon Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses should’ve served as a wake-up call to all those who value free speech that their cherished freedom were under assault from a growing threat called Islam. Instead most intellectuals have urged us to be sensitive to Muslim sensibilities rather than urging Muslims to be sensitive to our freedoms when they want to live amongst us.

The greatest moral struggle of our time is against Islam and what am I doing? Ong namo guru dev namo? Wahe guru indeed.

Instead of westerners getting mandatory education in Islam, perhaps Muslims need mandatory lessons in freedom of expression?


Rabbinical Council of California RCC

Luke Ford writes:

It’s the killer combination of Rabbi Gershon Bessthe savviest politician among the traditional Orthodox rabbinate in Los Angeles — and Rabbi Avrohom Union, who administers the RCC.

In my mind, being skilled at politics and being skilled at street fighting are not bad things. They are dangerous weapons to use for good and for evil. The RCC does good and ill. I’m not sure if it does more of one than the other.

Discuss these lofty issues on my live cam where all the gedolim rejoice.

As an ex put it to me: "You are unbelievably crude, so rude to so many people, you don’t care about how you look, and worst of all, you’re religious."


Is Kundalini Yoga Sex Yoga?

Luke Ford writes:

It is very trying for the Moral Leader to keep dealing with dirty minds.

"Kundalini" has nothing to do with sex. It is about balancing the body, mind and spirit. It is about attaching yourself to God. It’s about stretching and groovy tunes and hot babes. It’s not about sex. It has nothing to do with sex. I sit in the back at yoga and I never think about sex, not even when most of the women are wearing spandex and doing provocative poses and heavy breathing.

Since I’ve been practicing celibate pose, I’ve been celibate. This stuff really works, baruch HaShem.

PS. I asked my yoga teacher about this. He said it’s because of two reasons. One, the word "kundalini" sounds sexual even though it refers to the spine. Two, Kundalini Yoga teaches white tantra. That involves no sex but when most people hear the word "tantra" they immediately think of sex.


Orthodox Rabbis On Health Reform

Luke Ford writes:

Believe it or not, the Torah does not have much to say about the public option.

Why is it that the rabbis who push for "speaking out" usually have the least to say?

Here’s Orthodox rabbi Barry Gelman: "At the very least Orthodox groups should be making statements in favor of Universal Health care."

America already has universal health care. Anyone can walk into an emergency room and get treatment regardless of one’s ability to pay. America does not have universal health insurance but it does have universal health care. Perhaps other Orthodox rabbis stay silent because they have nothing to add to this complicated debate. Perhaps Rabbi Gelman should’ve stayed silent until he had something to add.

What’s the old saying? Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo X

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo IX

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo VIII

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo VII

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo VI

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo III

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo IV

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo II

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo

Luke Ford writes:

Rabbs and I want to do a Rosh Hashanah fashions show in the next week or two on Torah Talk and we need prospective models to show off the latest in frum fashions.

I will need to meet privately before the show with each prospective model to make sure she’s glatt kosher.

Models do not need to be Jewish but they do need to be hot.

While there will be no material payment for appearing on my show, please know, ladies, that the spiritual rewards will be immense, and your portion in the world to come in recompense for your kindness to His servant will be awesome.

Please email Your Moral Leader about your fashion choices for this year’s Yamim Noraim. I have a feeling that hot pink will be big this Yom Kippur.

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

Luke Ford, Rabbs On Torah Portion Ki Tavo V

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tavo (Deut. 26-29).

What are the benefits of home insurance?

Diana Perkins writes:

Home insurance is something that is most often overlooked. Most of the homeowners do not consider the benefits of having your home insured and therefore they are least aware of the worth of home insurance. We could not go without it because the costs of damage of your home are often too high. There are various factors that contribute to the importance of home insurance. Have a look at the home insurance benefits.

It protects your home against interior damage: One of the things that your home insurance policy covers is that it covers against accidental damage to the interior portion of your house. Has anybody ever stopped to think what this coverage could include? Well, it includes water damage, paint spill, theft and even glass breakage. Isn’t it wonderful that the interior portion of your house is so well covered that you might not have to bear any cost for interior damage? If answered yes, then get your home insured as soon as possible by contacting an insurance company.

It protects against exterior damage: If anyone has been through a hailstorm, he knows the value of a home insurance. The exterior insurance claims makes a better portion of the insurance claims that are filed. Some of the most common causes of exterior damage claims include wind damage, lightening damage, hail damage, fire damage and damage caused due to falling debris. The average fire or lightening claim on a house is around $25,000. Thus to protect your house from such damages, get it insured.

Total destruction: The most common insurance is to cover the house against total destruction. With this policy you will receive much more than you have actually paid for your policy premiums. The total money needed in replacement costs can be a huge amount of money. Thus get you house insured in order to receive benefits that are worth more than your premium rates.

Cuts down your stress level: With a home insurance policy, you remain less worried about the internal and external condition of your house. You can reduce your stress because you already have a top notch home insurance policy that is covering you for not much money.

Remember taking chance with the biggest investment of your life s not at all the smartest thing to do. The benefits must make you realize the importance of a home insurance policy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Is He Thinking?

Luke Ford writes:

This piece on AOL nails it

: "If a woman ever wonders what her boyfriend or husband thinks when he looks at her, she can’t go wrong if she imagines this: He sees her as an endless abyss of need. In general, men think that women are emotionally insatiable. The endless abyss of need scares men to death, because they fear that they’ll never get the things they want.

Flirting With Orthodox Judaism

Luke Ford writes:

I have a several close female friends who’ve flirted with Orthodox Judaism but not finished conversions to it. They look obviously goyish. They feel like conspicuous outsiders to the Jewish community, and they fear that they will always be viewed with suspicion, distrust, and dislike. So they wonder if this is really the world for them? It has become very clear to these friends what born-Orthodox Jews think of them and it is not good.

I understand their feelings, but I believe they will will diminish once my friends prove themselves by completing an Orthodox conversion to Judaism and then shouldering their share of the load in the community.

To convert to Orthodox Judaism is easier and quicker — in most instances — than completing an AA degree at a community college, but it still tends to weed out those who are not up to the task.

Your Kids Accomplishments

Luke Ford writes:

Bumperstickers are trashy. Bumperstickers advertising that your kids are on an honor roll are obnoxious. Bumperstickers advertising that your kids have good attendance at their Martin Luther King Elementary School are pathetic.

Bragging about your kids is annoying.

"My child was inmate of the month at the state correctional facility."

"My kid sold your honor student all the answers to the tests."

Those stickers I love.

Dennis Prager tackled this issue on his radio show this week. Prager said he loved military bumper stickers — my son is in the US Navy. That’s a patriotic statement. We can live without honor rolls. We can’t live without the military.

Fake Calls For Dialogue

Luke Ford writes:

Lawrence Grossman writes in the Forward: "Is it too much to hope that it also might encourage steps toward renewing respectful dialogue between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews?"

When I was interviewing people in 2004 for my book on American Jewish journalism, I sent Lawrence Grossman an interview request. He could not be bothered to respond, let alone "dialogue."

If all I knew about a person was that he had made a public call for dialogue, I would suspect he’d be less likely than the average bloke to grant me an interview. Why?

Are Lustful Thoughts Sinful?

Luke Ford writes:

I got some very bad news this afternoon.

I was lying on my bed of nails listening to Torah talks by Rabbi Ari Kahn.

In his second lecture on Rosh Hashanah, he says that lustful thoughts are a sin. Most other thoughts about doing a sin are not a sin, only the deed, but when it comes to dreaming of immoral deeds of an explicitly sexual nature, the thought itself is a sin.

Oy vey! I am sunk in iniquity. All I do all day long is think lustful thoughts.

Rabbi Kahn cited a verse from Job, "I have made a covenant with my eyes, how can I look upon a maid?"

Sheesh, I might as well be a Christian. Jesus said that if you look with lust upon a woman (even your own wife according to the last pope), you have committed adultery with your heart. Dennis Prager often says that Judaism holds that you can commit adultery with only one organ of your body and it’s not your heart.

My Stomach Hurts!

Luke Ford writes:

"Do you have any thoughts on stomach aches?" I ask my Alexander Technique teacher today.

"When do you get them?" he asks.

"When I start worrying. I find myself clenching."

"Well, what would you say to a friend with this problem?"

"I don’t know."

Pay Attention To Me!

Luke Ford writes:

Friday afternoon, I had two beautiful women paying attention to me.

One, however, was about to call Kavel.

"How can you call Kavel when I’m talking about my feelings?" I wailed to Kris.

She smiled and gave herself to me completely.

She wore a filmy cream top and she had long black hair and she was tall and slim, just how I like ‘em.

She had a sweet smile.

"I’m just starting to open up here," I complained.

Shake My Lulav

Luke Ford writes:

When I came to Los Angeles in 1994, I was hosted several times for Shabbat and holiday meals by a nice Orthodox family in Pico-Robertson.

Then, due to the raunchy nature of my blogging, the invites ceased.

In the summer of 2001, the Jewish Journal had Sheldon Teitelbaum write a cover story on me. He read it to this woman who freaked out and called me and asked, "Do you want to commit suicide?"

She suggested that I offer the Journal $10,000 not to publish the piece.

Well, I did not try to stop the piece (it was never published, in 2007, Brad Greenberg wrote this profile of me for the Jewish Journal), but I was shaken up by her call, and two days later I decided to sell my website lukeford.com and resolved to lead an honorable life.

A couple of months later, the family had me over for Succoth (and this woman set me up for another holiday meal with another family).

Luke Ford's Interpretative Dance

Luke Ford writes:

I started with a new therapist this week.

"I want to do an interpretative dance about my childhood," I said.

"OK," she said.

I stood up tall and then threw my hands above my head to stop the beating.

I got hit a lot as a kid. I was frail and other kids would pick on me. They didn’t appreciate some of the things I said.

"Now I want to do an interpretative dance about my adulthood," I said.

"OK," she said.

I threw my hands above my head to stop the beating.

"I’m driven to antagonize people," I explained. "I make them want to hurt me."

Jewschool Editorial Board

Luke Ford writes:

Jewschool.com apparently does not have bloggers. It has an "editorial board."

Holy hell!

Who came up with that term? Could it be the founder of Jewschool.com, the Orthodox Anarchist Dan Sieradski?

Jewschool consistently gets about half the traffic of this blog despite its vaunted "editorial board."

Check out the way it describes itself:

Crying To The Rabbi

Luke Ford writes:

A lot of Jews in Pico-Robertson and around the world go crying to the rabbi that I’ve written something that has upset them.

Mate, just because you can work yourself into tears while complaining about me is no evidence that moral right is on your side.

Most of these folks have never raised their objections to me. They’re too scared to confront the source of their anguish, so they just go around complaining to those who will listen and sympathize and reinforce their anger.

I remember one rabbi who was always complaining about me. I attended a lecture of his on the importance of confronting those who you feel have done you wrong.

So after the lecture, I sent him an email suggesting we do just what he’d spoken about.

He replied that he had no problem with me and gave me one of those generic rabbinic blessings.


My Flexible Ethics

Luke Ford writes:

When I’m rude to you, I’m trying to connect. I’m not trying to blow you off. I’m trying to trigger an interesting discussion, something beyond what is polite. I want to get to the nitty gritty. I want a connection that counts. I want to pour my soul into yours.

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah and I am just so particularly grateful to my Orthodox friends in Pico-Robertson. Most of the people I most admire are Orthodox. It’s a big reason why I affiliate Orthodox. I want to surround myself with people I admire and I become more like them.

The rest of the time I want to hang with writers. That craft is as important to me as Orthodox Judaism.

Luke Ford's Gratitude To Friends

Luke Ford writes:

I have about the most flexible ethics around.

It must be all the yoga.

It’s way too easy for me to justify doing anything that feels good.

Hence, I consistently act like a pig in my own community of Pico-Robertson. I chase women (now that I’m 43, they get away from me pretty easily, oh, to be young and fit). I take way too much pleasure in baiting people. I love to incite arguments. I love to challenge authority. I love to drive my rabbis crazy. I love to do more damage to myself than to anyone else (with the exception of those I’ve written inaccurate and damaging things about, that’s just a horrible example of my character flaws for which I will have to account to the community today and the Almighty tomorrow).

What’s saved me is my friends. They’ve let me know when my zipper was down. They’ve let me know when to let my guard down. They’ve let me know when I’ve needed to lift my game. They’ve sponsored my conversion to Orthodox Judaism. They’ve sheltered me with Sabbath and holiday meals and integrated me with their families. They’ve made me feel human.

Even Shiksas Want Commitment

Luke Ford writes:

Hot Shiksa calls.

I squeal: "You poked me on Facebook! This is a whole new direction for our relationship. We’re finally making our feelings concrete. It’s not just words. Now it’s down to poking. We’re making things holy."

Hot Shiksa: "I logged in to Facebook in a different way and saw that you had poked me. So I poked back.

"They don’t have pokes on the iPhone.

"Hey, if you’re going to write about me on your site, please do me the respect of capitalizing my name — Hot Shiksa.

"If I let you poke me for real, you’d be overcome by guilt. That’s why I don’t want to have sex with you. What happened to chivalry? All these guys in my life want to have sex with me. It’s so boring."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Apologies For Rosh Hashanah

Luke Ford writes:

I can’t remember the last time I made a meaningful apology to someone.

I must be a great tzaddik who never does anyone harm.

I hate empty ritual. I hate it when someone says, "If I have done anything bad to you over the past year, please forgive me."

I loathe that! It’s so empty. If you have done something bad to me, then name it and make amends. Otherwise, spare me these empty offerings.

The last time I tried to mend something, I asked a rabbi to talk to him. He had given this talk on the importance of seeking out those we have a problem with and try to talk the matter out. This rabbi was always complaining about me. Another rabbi pushed me to apologize to him for a critical thing I had written. So I sought the bloke out and he flat out lied. He said he had no problem with me.

And that was that.

When To Leave Relationship?

Luke Ford writes:

David Deida says in a chapter for men: "If it is time for your intimate partnership to come to an end because you have outgrown it, then you will most likely feel a mixture of pain, grief, sadness and love, as if your lover had died. If, however, your intimacy ends with much conflict, hardness, emotional closure and and lack of communication, then you have probably not outgrown your relationship, you’re just bailing." (Pg. 143 of Intimate Communion)

From page 169: "Whereas the Masculine is either going deeper or pulling away, the Feminine is either opening or closing."

Pathetic For Thinking He Could Date Younger

Luke Ford writes:

A 40 plus woman, Jane*, was complaining to me the other day about a Hollywood executive.

They’d had dinner. It had been set-up by a family friend. Jane said the topic was this lofty social activism issue. She thought the man, about 70 years old, wanted to pick her brain.

Midway through the meal, the man remarks that he’s on a blind date.

"This guy was 30 years older than me," she says. "Yuck! He was not attractive. I couldn’t wait to get away. Pathetic. Who are these guys who think they can go out with the young stuff? I had no idea it was a date. I thought we were discussing…."

Finesse Football Teams

Luke Ford writes:

The Dallas Cowboys, no matter the coach, have been a finesse football team for about 50 years now. By contrast, the Pittsburgh Steeler have always been a brutal force team.

Why has this never changed? The teams have been successful. They’ve been losers. But they never change this identity.

It makes sense that stadium and weather will be the primary determinants for a football team’s identity. Pittsburgh has lousy weather and an outdoor stadium, so power football makes sense.

Fusion: In Danger Of Separation

Luke Ford writes:

That’s a great line from one of John Updike’s final stories.

I know what it is like to feel close to someone, to not want to live without them, and simultaneously feeling an urge to destroy it all so one can be free. Independent. Non-needy.

David Deida says in his book: "There is only one way for a man to give a woman what she truly wants, and that is through his strength of loving when he is not compromised by fear. A man who lives in fear — of losing his woman, of failing in his career — is weakened in his expression of love. His core is compromised. He is unable to ravish his woman because he is unable to let go of the clench in his gut." (Pg. 261)

Want To Be Taken Seriously?

Luke Ford writes:

I find the "If you want to be taken seriously, then you must do X, Y, Z" rhetoric obnoxious.

I don’t know how many people have asked me, "Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want your blog to be taken seriously?"

I loathe it because I don’t have a snappy comeback to it. I don’t worry about being taken seriously. Even before i started blogging in July 1997, I had full confidence that if I did good work, it would be taken seriously.

There’s no need to worry about being taken seriously. Do good work and the serious attention will follow.

J-Street does not need to worry about being taken seriously. As soon as people start writing Op/Eds questioning if you want to be taken seriously, you’re taken seriously.

When people proclaim publicly that you don’t matter, you matter. When people take the time to tell me they don’t read me, I know I’m making an impact. Why put effort into fighting something insignificant?

Goyim On Rosh Hashanah

Luke Ford writes:

Returning home from Rosh Hashanah services  around 2 pm Saturday, I spied a friend walking off in the distance.

My normal greeting to my friends these days is "Marriage Equality!"

This day I just yelled her name.

She didn’t answer.

She was walking in distinctly non-Rosh Hashanah attire — shorts and a t-shirt.

I knew her from Orthodox life. I’ve never seen so much of her flesh.

I ran to catch up.

She was with her shaygetz boyfriend and she was walking her shaygetz dog. They were all having about as much fun as three Gentiles can on Rosh Hashanah. They felt blithely unburdened by any obligation to crown God King and for all I knew, they were all going home to commit the great sin of premarital sex.

Do I Own My Own Torahs?

Luke Ford writes:

As I spend my days engaging with the sacred texts, I often jot down my insights.

This is just part of my communication with God and His Torah. It pains me to think that these private musings might be made public one day, perhaps after my death.

Do my Torah thoughts belong to me or do they belong all of Israel?

Dr. Marc B. Shapiro blogs (his first post in seven months!): "Even if it is true that the Chazon Ish never intended to publish his notes, is that any reason for them not to be printed? Didn’t the Netziv tell the Wuerzburger Rav’s son not to pay attention to his father’s wish that his writings not be published, since the Torah thoughts that he developed were not to be regarded as his personal possession to the extent that he could prevent others from studying what he wrote?[4] Furthermore, is there any evidence that the Chazon Ish was opposed to his criticism of R. Hayyim appearing in print?"

Was Mohammed A Hater?

Luke Ford writes:

Dennis Prager says: “Were all the great moral thinkers of history haters? There isn’t a single great moral thinker in history of which I am aware who advocated same-sex marriage. There is no parallel to this. Every great moral idea has been advocated from the beginning of moral thought. The idea that slavery was wrong did not begin with the abolitionists.”

“Human nature aches for irresponsibility. Human happiness aches for responsibility. The more you are responsible for your life, the happier you will be.”

When President Obama announced that kids can stay on their parent’s health insurance until they were 26, college students were ecstatic. They could prolong the age at which they were dependent on their parents another five years.

If there was a student there who did not applaud, he was a happier student that those who did applaud.

Randy Rabbi Marc Schneier

Luke Ford writes:

As I pointed out in my previous post, Rabbi Marc Schneier was not engaged in illicit behavior when he was photographed in Israel kissing a comely speech pathologist not his wife.

Rather, the good rabbi was engaging in routine and wholly appropriate speech training and did not enjoy it one bit. The rabbi was learning to enunciate more clearly so he could better teach the Torah.

If, and I do not believe for a second that this is true, the rabbi was doing something wrong, it is only because he is sick and needs help. Instead of castigating him, we should be encouraging his personal growth. Science shows us that promiscuity is not a moral failing as much as a genetic predisposition. I don’t know why G-d would program some men to want to bang as many hot chicks as they can and then condemn them for adultery. This makes no sense. It is a real dilemma for a very religious man such as myself to understand why a compassionate and loving G-d would make such a world.

Frankly, I don’t see the appeal in multiple sex partners. I would much rather spend my energies studying Talmud and listening to the Miami Boys Yeshiva choir.

You Hurt My Feelings!

Luke Ford writes:

From Dennis Prager’s radio show today. Author Alison Armstrong was the guest. "Prager H2: What happens when spouses hurt one another? What is the source of the anger? What hurts a woman’s feelings? What hurts men?"

Alison: "Typically, when a woman is hurt, her feelings are hurt. She’ll say, ‘You hurt my feelings.’ To a man, that’s ‘And? Where are those? Can I see them?’

"Men don’t know that women’s feelings are an extra vital organ right in the center of our chest. It is our connection to spirit. When our feelings get hurt, it’s as if this vibrant pulsing organ becomes petrified. It squishes up. It physically hurts when it squishes up…and the life force is squished out of us…a death force travels through our system. We stop breathing. We gasp for air. It shuts down our arms and legs. We curl up into the fetal position. We do what I call planking, where you’re buried under dirt.

"And then this blackness, it rises up into our heads and it shuts off our vocal cords and we can’t look at the person that hurts us anymore because it feels like it is stabbing into our eyes. When it gets up into our heads, anything good disappears. Any happy thought or possibility of partnership or communication gets shut down. It’s like a computer crashing except it gets worse.

Florida Home Insurance Rates Going Way Up

Karen Triggiani sends me this link:

McCarty said the Office of Insurance Regulation rejected many rate hikes in 2008 because the law required insurers to pass to consumers the savings they received from buying cheaper state-backed catastrophe reinsurance, or insurance for insurers. Insurers criticized McCarty for lowering rates, saying that was partly to blame for some insurers shedding policies and four home insurers folding since last year.

But the recent rate hikes have left policyholders perplexed, especially because no hurricanes directly hit Florida since 2005. Some consumer advocates criticized McCarty this year for supporting an industry-backed bill that would have made it easier for insurers to raise rates. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill.

McCarty said he supported the bill, SB 2044, because it also addressed higher claims costs.

Karen Triggiani Says To Act On Your Energy Bills

Karen Triggiani, this blog is yours. Go find cool stories like this one:

Home insurance customers with concerns over their energy bills should take action before winter sets in, the Home Heat Helpline has advised.

Research from the firm highlighted the fact that one in three adults are already thinking about how could it could get later in the year, with 44 per cent admitting to concerns over the implications for their energy bills.

Peter Jenkins, spokesperson for the Home Heat Helpline, said: "What we are also showing is that people aren't really acting on the fact that they are worried about the winter ahead and worried about energy bills."

Florida Raises Home Insurance Rates

Bad news if you live in Florida!

Karen Triggiani found this link from Florida: NAPLES — Across the state, homeowners are feeling the pain of higher home insurance rates.

In Southwest Florida, some State Farm policy holders have seen their rates increase by more than 40 percent this year.

While the state’s largest private insurance carrier got state approval to raise rates by an average of 14.8 percent in December, some homeowners have seen much bigger increases.

Home Insurance Texas

Blogging is a lot like life -- relentless.

You can't get away from it if you want to maintain a cool blog.

I'm going to follow in Tom Sawyer's shoes and turn over much of the work to my friends.

This is Karen Triggiani's blog now.

She selects this link from Dallas:

Consumers who plan to take advantage of record low home loan interest rates may find themselves paying more at the closing table.

Home mortgage closing costs are up dramatically this year.

And Texas has the second-highest average home finance fee costs in the nation, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com

Only New York State has higher average home loan closing costs than Texas, the consumer finance information company said in a report released Monday.

Cold Showers As Sin Atonement

Luke Ford writes:

I get up every weekday at 5:56 a.m. when my alarm sounds and I stumble into the shower and turn on a stream of cold water for 60 seconds (70 seconds when I am feeling particularly hardy).

As I stood there this morning at the gloriously late hour of 6:20 a.m., I reflected that this cold shower was penance for my sins. I felt the water cascade and punish the very part of me so prone to wickedness and I felt yes, yes, this hurts so good, oy, this is shockingly painful, yes, this water is washing away my iniquities and I will emerge from this ordeal and re-enter the camp of Israel as a new man, a clean man, a clean pure man dedicated to G-d’s service and hooray, the long dark nightmare of my past is fully behind me now.

I Feel Appalled!

Luke Ford writes:

I was relaying to friends how appalled I was by this Jewish girl taking communion, and this Alexander Technique teacher noted that every time I said I was appalled, I shrunk down.

He insisted I keep my length. Then I tried to explain how appalled I was but there was a problem — I no longer felt appalled.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica XIV

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica XIII

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica XII

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica XI

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica IX

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica X

Luke Ford writes:

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim.

Eat, Pray, Love With Monica is a 2010 Torah Talk by American author Monica. The memoir chronicles the author’s trip around the hovel after her divorce, and what she discovered during her travels.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Revisiting Narcissism

Luke Ford writes:

From DennisPrager.com: “Dennis and Dr. Stephen Marmer, member of the clinical faculty of the UCLA medical school and practicing psychiatrist in Brentwood, CA revisit a key issue to your happiness – narcissism.”

Stephen Marmer: “Narcissism in common terms is grandiosity — thinking that you are the greatest ever. Narcissism is seeing things only from your perspective. Anyone else’s perspective is either wrong or irrelevant. Only your perspective counts. Only your thoughts are correct. Only your emotions are justified. Only your hurts are legitimate hurts. Only your innocent actions should be interpreted as innocent by everybody else, even if it hurts them. Everything in your life is for you. Self-referential. Your world beginning and end.”

Dennis: “The moment you can say, maybe they’re right, you’re undoing narcissism.”

Stephen: “Yes! I can see your point of view. Or, I understand how that felt for you. Or, your claim right now has more merit than mine. All those are signs that the narcissism is changing. Nowhere is this more clear than in the difference between narcissistic love and real love.”

“Most narcissistic people don’t bother to see things from an outsider perspective. If you only see things from your point of view, you won’t get to the point where you notice. Mostly people learn that they are narcissistic when people they care about tell them they are narcissistic.”

Aging Gracefully Sexually

Luke Ford writes:

An old woman calls in and says, “If a man does not love his wife because she won’t dye her hair, then she has the wrong husband.”

Dennis: “Why doesn’t it go in the other direction? If a man is married to a woman who won’t improve her looks by dying her hair, then he’s married to the wrong wife.”

Good point.

Dennis asks what is wrong with people looking younger than their chronological age.

Did you ask your husband if he would prefer you to dye your hair or to be grey? That is a question a wife owes her husband.

This matter is a great reason to go Asian or Persian, because they retain their naturally dark hair color longer. They age more gracefully.

The Facebook Effect

Luke Ford writes:

I just read this new book by David Kirkpatrick.

The story of Facebook is a great one but Kirkpatrick is a plodding writer.

The earlier book on Facebook (getting turned into a movie) was a much better read.

One thing caught my attention in this new book was that Facebook helps people become more unified. They don’t have a profile for work and a profile for friends and a profile for family. They have just one Facebook profile and it is meant to have their real name.

I used to live many lives. Now I lead one life. I have family on my Facebook. I have friends from childhood. I have Orthodox Jewish friends. I have porn star friends.

I’m listening to a 2002 lecture by Dennis Prager on his life and he says: “I was an angel at home but I was a devil at school.”

The Meaning Of Tattoos

Luke Ford writes:

On his radio show today, Dennis Prager, who was born in 1948, says that as a kid, he almost never saw tattooed women. “There was a sideshow in circuses of freaky people and one of them was the tattooed woman.”

“I don’t understand the appeal of women covering their skin with anything. Women’s flesh is the allure. If it is painted, why is it alluring?”

“My mother-in-law is a psychiatrist and she says that tattooing is a diagnostic issue.”

“Where there is a heavy dose of tattooing there may be an element of will someone try to get to know me through this major barrier, this veil, I’ve put up. It’s a statement of profound emotional insecurity. I’ve read that some women who’ve been raped will get obese to not attract any more men. I wonder if heavy tattooing is a way of psychologically working through something.”

Homosexuality Principles Orthodox

Luke Ford writes: The Torah does not categorize people by either sexual orientation or practice. The Torah does not divide between homosexuals and heterosexuals. It does not divide between people who like to have sex with teens and those who like to have sex with those their own age. It does not divide between people who like vanilla sex and those who like raunchy sex. It does not divide between people who like sex through a particular entrance and those who prefer another opening.

The Torah says man-on-man sex is forbidden, but it does not classify those who have such sex as “homosexuals.”

The idea of dividing people up based on the sexual acts they do is profoundly anti-Torah.

Two. The rabbi writes: “The document repeatedly acknowledges the very real possibility that homosexual orientation is genetically based and is not subject to change.”

Whether or not certain sexual preferences are genetic, or any behavioral choices are genetic, is irrelevant to the Torah. There is no basis in the Jewish tradition for cutting people a break on the observance of G-d’s commandments because they might have a genetic predisposition to doing certain things. On the contrary, the Torah assumes that the will of man’s heart is nothing but evil from his youth and therefore people should not follow their predispositions when these predispositions clash with G-d’s directives.

Freedom In Christ!

Luke Ford writes:

My favorite goy, Greg Leake, emails: “I thank G-d that my mother was not Jewish, and also for Jesus bin Joseph. Otherwise I probably would have fallen heir to all of these obligations and responsibilities and would have been a considerably less free human being.”

This got me to thinking about freedom in Judaism and Christianity. I spent my first 18 years as a Christian and my last 20 in Jewish life.

Here are some examples of Christian freedom in order of importance:

* You can have sex with your wife when she’s menstruating
* You can study Torah while doing your business on the toilet
* You can eat shellfish and pigs and anything you want any time you want any way you want with whomever you want wherever you want
* You can eat and defecate at the same time just like an animal
* You can wear anything you want (within the generous standards of Christian modesty)
* You don’t have to fear about your Heavenly Salvation
* You can rape and murder people and then get immediate forgiveness from Jesus
* You don’t have to study, you can just believe
* You can use French ticklers (if you are a Protestant)

Here are some examples of Jewish freedom in order of importance:

* You don’t have your co-religionists forgive your boneheaded behavior by saying, “You did what was in your heart.”

* You don’t have your co-religionists say, “Are you saved?”

New York, New York

Luke Ford writes:

I take melatonin every night to sleep.

One of its side effects is lurid dreams, which are quite disturbing for a man of piety.

I’m having a lot of dreams of late about visiting New York.

I see myself walking up long stairwells to visit someone’s apartment. I see myself going to shul. I see myself pushing my way through crowded streets. I see myself hanging out with great writers and providing Daphne Merkin the solace that no therapist can legally provide.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Empathy, Shame & Therapy

Luke Ford writes:

Throughout my life, I’ve had my narcissism interrupted by tides of empathy. I would suddenly see things as they really were for those around me and I would see how I was doing things that were unnecessarily hurting others and myself, I would see how in some ways I had been heading down a wrong path for days or weeks or months or years. I would get these lightning flashes of clarity. They were a combination of feelings and thoughts and they left me quite ashamed.

When I would feel things as others felt them when they experienced my behavior and my words, I’d feel horrible. I’d feel ashamed. I’d determine to change my ways and sometimes I did change and did the hard work to make myself a better person. But I hated those bouts of shame. I hated them so much that I held myself away from empathizing too much and just told myself to keep my eye on the prize of accomplishment and to hunker down and to keep pushing myself forward.

Empathy and shame. They’ve run together for me much of my life.

Bariatric Surgery & Therapy

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

In a rush to get things done, in a rush to get things beautiful, in a rush to get things thin, in a city where most people know it as a laid-back non-judgmental place, Los Angeles is the greatest judgment capitol in the world. We judge age, weight, body form, and we alter it to play a part. We don’t want to naturally age.

What most people have a hard time with is what happens afterwards. It’s not the surgery per se. It’s not that they are getting thin. It is that what was their closest friend, the food, is now no longer there. Often people experience depression, anxiety attacks, and loneliness. Far too few doctors share with their patients ahead of time the psychological symptoms they may experience after the surgery.

There is a huge amount of cross-addiction. Just because someone is no longer compulsively over-eating does not make that person any healthier emotionally. Often one will take on another addiction in its place.

Only In Bel Air

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

I received a telephone call from a celebrity who got my phone number off of a website.

She called me directly and was telling me about how she had broken her sobriety after ten years of being sober. She was putting her children through graduate school at elite universities and how dare they come to her house – after her ten day binge — and search for bottles of booze and break them. And how she was running like a crazy woman trying to down as much booze as she could while they were breaking the bottles. And she hadn’t been able to show up to the set. And the producers had warned her and warned her. The day she finally felt like she could get there, her luxury car broke down and she couldn’t get to the set.

She started crying on the phone. She said, “What’s become of me? I can’t believe this has happened to me.”

She wanted to remind me how much money she had. She said, “I live in Bel Air! And I have a Mercedes. And people have been stealing things from me. It’s only jewelry but I can’t figure out what’s missing. I’ve lost my mind. I’ve been in rehab before. I’ve been in hospital before. I have such shame and guilt. I can’t believe I let this happen again. I have so much stress. Will you see me? Have you worked with people who’ve gotten off the wagon?”

Women Restructuring Middle Age III

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Many women when they get to middle age (45-50) find themselves fired from jobs they’ve held for a long time.

Women Restructuring Middle Age II

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Many women when they get to middle age (45-50) find themselves fired from jobs they’ve held for a long time.

Women Restructuring Middle Age

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Many women when they get to middle age (45-50) find themselves fired from jobs they’ve held for a long time. They are often replaced by young people with less experience and lower salaries. Women who’ve spent their entire adult lives fighting their inner self, their inner voice, fighting with conflict between work and family, find that once they get to a certain age that problem is lifted from them when they have no job.

For some of these women, their self-image is wrapped up in their work. When you don’t have other big ideals or religious beliefs or family commitments, you think that who you are is what you do.

In my mind, this has often been a big mistake for men. Now many women have this same problem.

So what do we do, we women moving into middle age, when our whole sense of self-worth shifts.

Couples Counseling

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn writes:

How does a couple know when they need counseling?

Many times one person believes counseling will help and the other does not. When we’re lucky, both will come in and one will blame the other.

I notice how they will sit. How they will choose to be in proximity to me. How do they align themselves? Do they cross their legs toward each other or far away from each other or do they sit at opposite ends of the couch?

For most people today, coming in for marital counseling is the last chance before someone files for divorce.

Marriage counseling can be used more effectively when things are fine and we then work on how to get things even greater.

Most of us don’t rock the boat when things are going well and go only when we are in danger of losing the marriage.

I see couples of all ages, gay and straight, multi-racial, different religions. Much of the conversation is the same. We seem to all struggle with intimacy, trust, commitment, sex and money.

Bariatric Surgery & Therapy III

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

In a rush to get things done, in a rush to get things beautiful, in a rush to get things thin, in a city where most people know it as a laid-back non-judgmental place, Los Angeles is the greatest judgment capitol in the world.

Pet Bereavement

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn writes:

My dog Harley recently passed away after 12 years.

Pet bereavement is an area some specialize in in the counseling world. It’s something that all of us psycho-therapists can address because the death of a pet is the death of a loved one.

To many people, it is the closest, most intimate relationship they have in their life. It is their best friend. It is their greeter every day. It is the one that they talk to. Many elderly who have lost their spouse and take on a pet, it serves the idea of a best friend and companion. The grief of a lost animal is horrendous.

I want us to think about our pets and other people’s pets in a significant way. When someone is grieving the loss of a pet, it is the loss of a loved one. We need to be more receptive and kinder and more compassionate to understand that.

Frum Girls Seeking Boyfriends

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Today a young woman came into my office very courageous. The principal of her Jewish day school threatens to kick her out because she sees a boy.

My patient is 15. Her boyfriend is 17.

For those who don’t know, many Orthodox day schools prohibit mingling with the opposite sex. That means phone talks, walking down the street together, texting, emailing each other, befriending them on the social sites. The belief is that there is enough distraction going on for people of that age, their bodies are raging with hormones, and if you give a dog a bone, they’ll want to lick it all over.

This girl has been warned several times by the principal of her school.

I said, instead of warning her and having her sign a contract that she would sign because she wants to stay in school, why not think of a way of doing it differently so we’re not forcing her into lying?

Why don’t we understand what she’s getting out of this relationship?

Psycho-Therapists Dealing W/ Insurance

Beverly Hils therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Mental health practicioners are in a precarious position. Since the beginning of the year, we find ourselves having to chase money that is due us. More and more psycho-therapists are not taking insurance because it is so difficult to get paid. The system is so botched up that unless we get paid in full by our clients, we are often unable to get paid what is due by our insurance companies.

We want to be compassionate and to extend to our clients the courtesy of using their insurance. People pay high premiums for insurance. My preference was for the insurance company to pay me after I billed and if there was a co-pay, for the patient to pay me up front. But unless a psycho-therapist is in a particular network of small practicioners, we have to run after our money from the insurance companies. It is often paid to our patients.

If we charge a $25 co-pay and our fee is $150, that’s $125 we need to collect, the insurance company writes a check to the individual for $125. Then we have to go to our clients and ask them to sign their checks over to us or to write us a check for that amount. This is a brand new practice. Our board has not yet challenged the state to amend this. There have been times when I’ve seen patients who’ve paid a co-pay and told me that they’ve never received money from the insurance company that I’ve been waiting for. And several thousand dollars later, I’ve found out that the person has indeed received the money I’ve been waiting for. And I’ve yet to hear from that patient.

Can We Do The Day Over?

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

My friend Finley at the bank was talking about the concept of a daily do-over for those days when nothing goes right.

I walked in and he said, Donna, how are you doing? I said, I’m having a tough day.

I wonder how many people answer honestly or if everyone is just fine all the time?

He said, how about you ask G-d for a do-over? It shocked me. It’s a fabulous idea.

Finley, I’ve taken your advice and did a do-over and the following day was great.

This is possible. Ask G-d for a daily do-over and you might get granted one.

Clutterers & Hoarders

Beverly Hills therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

Lately I’ve been working with more clutterers and hoarders.

I want to share some of my experiences.

One of the people I work with is an heir to a land fortune.

Three generations ago his grandparents arrived to this country. When they died they left their fortune to his father and when his father passed away, he left the inheritance to my client.

My patient collects coins, stamps, and pins. He spends anywhere from $3800 to $10,000 a month buying these items.

He receives more packages than he can open. His home is cluttered from top to bottom with boxes, most still sealed, that have valuables inside. At any one time, around $500,000 worth of collectibles are inside his home.

Orthodox Girls Experimenting

Beverly Hills psycho-therapist Donna Burstyn blogs:

A girl moved into town and joined a family in my religious community. She’s an Orthodox girl from an Orthodox family. She’s rebelling.

Away from home, she’s very happy to be in Los Angeles. Her Orthodox day school lays down many rules, including prohibitions of dating and parties with girls. One-on-one dating is particularly prohibited. It usually involves sexuality, self-esteem, distraction from schoolwork and things the Orthodox community opposes.

The 15-year old girl became my client. I can see her mother and grandmother in her.

I talked to her about the sacrifices we make to stay in school and to be a part of our Orthodox community. Her boyfriend seems supportive of this but I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

Protection From Sexual Predators

Psycho-therapist Donna Burstyn writes:

Sexual predators in both boarding schools and Torah environments are no longer hush-hush. Fortunately, it is spoken about because it is a very real threat, especially to the underclassmen. Often the older boys are the predators.

It has not been easy for the rabbis to speak to this. Often when they find a predatory boy who is threatening some of the freshman, the boy, instead of getting counseling for his sexual misconduct, gets sent to another yeshiva and then another one. The problem is passed on rather than dealt with.

Fortunately, some people saw that I felt very comfortable working in the community of children who had been victimized by older bocherim (yeshiva students) and rabbis and they had no one to speak with because they felt such inner blame. They felt they had caused the abuse themselves.

Therapist: Unexpected Kindness

Psycho-therapist Donna Burstyn writes:

I went to see a movie Sunday. After about an hour, I left the theater. There was too much unnecessary sex and infidelity. And it turned my stomach.

I left the theater and went to get my car. I happened to park underground next to a CVS Pharmacy.

When I left the theater, I felt like I was in a movie. It was so beautiful outside. I was in a daze.

I felt proud of myself for leaving.