Welcome to My Urban Kvetch, a place for me to vent about the issues that clutter my brain as I live my so-called-freelance life in the Big City. I'm all about looking at my experience through the lens of humor, whenever it's possible. […]And though I've resisted long enough, I'm joining the blog generation. My hopes? That this space will provide me with a forum for fleshing out ideas, kicking around premises and developing essays that will ultimately yield publishable fruit. And making it public? Hoping to be discovered, of course...by a fan base or by editors who will make my dreams of a positive checkbook balance a reality.
-First blog post at MyUrbanKvetch.blogspot.com, February 2, 2004
As of today, I’ve been blogging for 10 years. In those early years, I didn’t really expect to have an audience, so I named the blog after a popular NYC home delivery service, and just wrote until the piece felt finished, never mind the length or the sharpness of my arguments. Some posts were shorter bursts of commentary, and others more introspective. But as I became aware that other people were reading, I started to edit more carefully – less of a brain download and more of a curated analysis. To go a little meta, this is a curated analysis of some of those already curated posts; a retrospective of sorts – not 100% chronological, but representative of journeys in styles, words and ideas over a decade.
At first, since I was a freelancer who was living on a budget in one of the most expensive cities in the world, a lot of posts focused on my apartment and my Upper West Side life. "Today I am a Toilet" (February 2004) recounted a rite of passage in the life of every nice single Jewish girl: that time when you have to lift a commode. (Come on, you know we’ve all been there…) August 2006's "Match Point" told another relatable tale, as our heroine, in search of chocolate, swallows something else entirely. (The original title of that post was “Dare to Be Stupid.”) In July 2007, her bathroom was the site of another unusual scene, transforming into "Upper West Side Rainforest."
As I began to travel more, I began to realize that I really didn't like flying. Superstition emerged, and I committed to saying "The Traveler's Prayer" (April 2005) whenever I traveled - however, I seemed unable to memorize it and always seemed to forget to bring it with me. So I came up with an interim solution, to which I return every time I forget to bring my handy "Tefilat Haderech card" with me. Among my more memorable travel adventures was the time that the Snowpocalypse stranded me at JFK overnight awaiting a flight to London for Limmud. , but people also remember fondly my fight with Delta, or most recently and as-yet unblogged, my losing my passport at Heathrow and somehow managing to travel back to LA without it.
In 2008, I moved to L.A. (although I refused to admit that I had done so until months later). Almost immediately, I began to experience lots of different conversations and people than the ones I had encountered in New York. My writing began to incline a little bit toward “the industry,” although I remained employed mostly within the Jewish nonprofit world ("Professional Jew Syndrome: A Survival Guide," March 2011), which I wrote about and for with regularity in publications both online and off ("The Future of Jewish Journalism or Anything Else," August 2010).
Along with Jewish involvement, came the inevitable deluge of solicitations themed toward calendar events like New Year’s or December as end of fiscal year. I railed against the idea in "So Long, and Thanks for all the Pomegranate Images" (September 2012), and then "Frankensteined" a blog post using only phrases from email solicitation letters ("Year-End Appeal," December 2012). (That said, there is a "tip jar" on this blog in the top part of the right column. Tips are by no means required of readers, but it's there if you're so moved. Either way, I promise not to send you solicitation emails. :))
I spent a good amount of time in Israel, where crazy, sometimes sad and sometimes magical things happened. I was there in July 2008 for "The Return" of lost soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, and following the loss of my mother, experienced otherworldly moments in Jerusalem ("Marzipan & Meaning," July 2011.
In L.A., I felt more relaxed and explored different worlds, befriending people “in the business,” enjoying the sunshine mid-winter, took improv classes, and worked out of hipster coffee shops (even if I did have to break up with one of them ("Not Without My Laptop: A Coffee Shop Breakup," May 2013).
In 2009, I also attended Digital Hollywood, which was the perfect blend of two worlds about which - outside of the Jewish world - I was most passionate. While it didn’t help me break into showbiz, it illuminated an emerging side of the business and freed me to think more creatively about my future. In one exercise, we were asked to consider where we see ourselves in five years. “What do you want to do?” the teacher challenged. And this is what I wrote.
What do I want to do? I want to make a difference. I want to make people think. I want to make people laugh. Those are the external wants that are constants without a timeframe - I also want to do work that I'm proud of, in an environment surrounded by creative people who are driven to achieve not just for personal glory or satisfaction, but to elevate the collective. I want to work with people who make me laugh and challenge me to make them laugh, I want music to inspire me, I want creativity in abundance.
Five years ago, no one saw technology - with blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, etc - coming. The medium isn't the thing, because it may not exist - or may exist differently - in five years. I don't know if I'll be writing for books, TV, the screen, the web, for mobile devices, or some other venue that might not exist yet. My five-year plan may seem remarkably unfocused to those who hear me speak it, even as I am personally committed to the certainty. I know I'll be involved in producing content. Whatever the context, I know I'll be writing.
And I still am. The world is full of stories, and I’m looking forward to more years of storytelling ahead.
Thank you for joining me on this journey thus far – may we continue to travel many interesting paths together.
In love and gratitude,