10 Years of Blogging

I was taking a look back at the very first days of my blog and realized that this August will be 10 years since I began blogging. I have to say, the musings of teenage Amy were quite hilarious (and kind of awful, to be honest). In some ways I amaze myself with how ahead of the curve I was without knowing it. In other ways I am laughing (more like cringing) at my teenage self! Oh, how far I've come since then.

I thought I'd share this essay I wrote my first semester of college. Our English teacher, one of my favorites at California College of the Arts, had us write stories about childhood memories, or something like that. I decided to write an essay about my silly aversion to sex after learning what it was. Obviously my view on the subject, as well as my writing, has changed.

For your reading pleasure: 

When I was younger I thought sex was just passionate kissing while you were in bed, naked. This I learned from Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in their risqué, Top Gun sex scene; the first sex scene I had ever witnessed. (My parents were terrible at proper censorship and therefore I had access to such things.) One day, when I was in probably the second or third grade, my dad and I were watching TV and he began to give me what might commonly be referred to as “the talk”. I’m not really certain how the subject came up but what my dad told me wasn’t exactly the typical “where do babies come from” talk. 

At this point I already knew that babies came from sex. Instead of a talk about fertility, I got more of an anatomical biology lesson on sex. My dad told me that a man sticks his penis into a woman’s vagina and sperm from the man fertilizes the egg, which eventually makes a baby. This was definitely not what I saw Tom, Kelly, or any of their cohorts doing when I saw sex on television and at the soft age of seven or eight I found this entire idea to be totally unnatural and wrong. I had yet to go through puberty and although I had experienced crushes on boys I never had the urge to have sex with any of them. I just didn’t understand how a penis would, could, or even should go into a vagina and I didn’t like it one bit. 

Most of my friends admittedly never officially had “the talk” like I did. There was enough sex in the media and popular culture that they learned everything they needed to know from TV, books, and their friends. Because I was the friend who actually got “the talk”, I was the one who got to enlighten them with the penis-in-vagina reality of sex. I’m not sure if they felt the same way about it as I did. We never really talked about it. I suppose that was because we were all a bit uncomfortable with it. We also didn’t know all of the details about boners, ejaculation, uteruses, etc., so we were all silently curious as to how exactly the whole thing worked. Did a man use his hands to put the penis into the vagina? Where did the sperm come from? Does it hurt when a penis is in your vagina? How does a penis reach all the way to a woman’s stomach so that it can fertilize the egg? There were so many things we didn’t know but none of us were about to ask our parents any of these questions. I especially wasn’t going to because I didn’t want to know. As far as I was concerned sex didn’t concern me because I didn’t want to do it. 

Not long after the incident with my dad my younger brother, Tim, actually posed the question “what is sex” to my father. In anticipation for what my dad was about to tell Tim, I ran upstairs to my room, closed the door, and put my N’sync CD in my stereo at full volume because I just didn’t want to hear it. Sex seemed unnatural and made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t understand why my brother wanted or needed to know about it. He was younger than me and he had seen Tom and Kelly in Top Gun just like I had. I almost wanted to warn him. Hey Tim! You don’t want to know about sex! It is icky!

Naturally I got older and went through puberty. Puberty and hormones definitely contributed to making sex more appealing and not scary anymore. I came to accept sex as something everyone, including myself, would, could, and should engage in. I mean, if you really think about it, sex is sort of disgusting. It is the exchanging of bodily fluids by two people using parts of their body commonly associated with going to the bathroom. One could imagine how a third grader, especially one corrupted by the passionate, on screen relations of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, might find the idea foreign. 

My previous feelings of being scared of sex seem pretty ridiculous to me now. In fact, I find my former phobia of sex to be kind of humorous. Nowadays I am completely comfortable talking about, thinking about, and considering the reality of sex. I suppose that just shows how much I have matured since the third grade, something I’m quite proud of. 


The Magic of Social Media

Last night I experienced what can only b referred to as the magic of the internet. I think some people are afraid of the internet. They say you can't believe what you read/watch/hear. Beware of cat fishing. It's not a place to really meet people. 

Well, they're wrong! 

Last night I celebrated Eid al-fitr, the end of Ramadan, with 300 other people from the internet at a "stranger's" house. Don't believe me? Well luckily there is a video about it! All thanks to Nas Daily. 

Who is Nas? In his words, he is just a "hairy kid who wants to live the best possible life and put it on Facebook in one minute videos." So he does; and he has also created an amazingly strong internet-based community filled with people from all over the world!

But how do you get people to go from simply being friends ON the internet to becoming friends FROM the internet? According to Nas, you invite 1.5 million people to celebrate Eid with your family at your home in Arraba! 

I know a lot of people who dislike social media, and I can understand some of their reason's why. Facebook is increasingly filled with anger and political rants. Instagram can feel like a parade of vanity where people fish for compliments on the form of likes on their selfies. 

But social media is also potentially extremely powerful in positive ways. It is through social media that the ice bucket challenge raised over $100 million dollars for ALS awareness and research. It is through social media that young Egyptians and Tunisians cultivated revolutionary movements in the 2008 Arab Spring. And it is through social media that I found myself in a random Arab village in northern Israel with 300 other people from all over Israel and the world to celebrate Eid al-fitr. 

These are the kind of examples that make me so excited to be a social media professional. Through Facebook I've found a female travel support group, the place I live, and even Mindy!

So as Nas says in his video, "For the 1% chance of something bad happening...don't miss the 100% chance of something great happening!" And thank you Nas and your family for taking that chance, opening your home to hundreds of strangers, feeding us, and giving us the cultural experience of a lifetime!

Eid Sa'id! (Happy Eid! Something I learned to say from one of my new friends I made last night.)


לעשות חיים | To Do Life

I want to have an honest moment with you all. I haven't blogged in a long time. There are many reasons for that. I'm too busy. I'm forgetful. I'm distracted. But I think the biggest reason I haven't been blogging is that I've been struggling. The past year has been a challenging one and it took my writing to dark places. 

My blog is essentially about my life making Aliyah, and although I try to paint an honest picture, I do paint a story of positivity. That's not to say my experience isn't amazing. I still am (and probably always will be) amazed/inspired/in love with living in Israel everyday. But I don't want to discourage people with my hardships. 

But I also struggle. I believe those struggles have more to do with being a young adult working through life's challenges than anything else. I struggle with work, trying to make ends meet, social anxiety, the need to take care of myself, dating...the list goes on. These struggles are not new, but it has taken me a lot of time to learn how to deal with them (and I'm obviously always still learning). I often let my struggles completely debilitate me from taking part in the positive things in life. I let them make me tired and lazy. I let them defeat me, even when most of the time I've actually overcome them. More than that; I've learned from them and grown immensely.  

So here I am today, on my 26th birthday, and I'm looking at it all differently. It's like some lightbulb is finally illuminating how much I've actually grown from these struggles. I'm taking my life in my hands and moving forward with a new mindset. This year my mantra is to "Do life". לעשות חיים. Because I am here living on the earth and I should make it great. 

Another year older, another year wiser. Here's to many more years of acquiring wisdom to come. Happy birthday to me!