On President Trump’s Election

I wrote the following in my journal back on November 10, 2016 after learning that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States:

So election day has come and gone. Donald trump is now president elect. Hillary won the popular vote but failed to get enough Electoral votes. This is the fourth time in US history that this has happened.

Yesterday my emotions were running strong. Donald Trump has run on a campaign based on lies, hate, and fearmongering. My Facebook status summed up my feelings:

“Becky is feeling hopeless. I am shocked. I am scared. I am hurt. This isn’t what I wanted nor dreamed of, not for myself, my friends, my family, or my country. In many ways I feel abandoned and betrayed. ‘How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back.’

I want things to change. I want to get involved so that we don’t undo all the progress and positive changes we have made. However, it feels too daunting, that no matter what effort I put in, it won’t make a difference. Where do you begin when you feel so hopeless? I’m all ears to any ideas.”

I am scared that millions will loose access to healthcare and their prescriptions when the GOP-lead Congress and Trump repeal the Affordable Cafe Act (aka Obamacare). I am scared that women all over the country will be denied access to birth control, safe abortions, and healthcare. I am scared that my LGBTQ+ friends will no longer have the protection of their government. That their right to marry or use the restroom of their choice will be revoked. Our boarders will close to all immigrants and refugees, denying them to the American dream that asylum seekers and dreamers have come here for over the decades. How will we have freedom of religion when Islam could become banned? How will we have freedom when businesses and hospitals can discriminate based on religion, gender, sexuality, or immigrant status?

This is what I fear Trump’s America will look like. The Democrats are now the minority in both the House and Senate. The changes that the Obama administration has successfully implemented over the past 8 years might be for naught. I am scared this will be a dark time in US history, but I will stay and bare witness to its unfolding. Protests are already occurring throughout the nation. Hopefully some compromises will be reached and his presidency won’t be as bleak, ugly, and detrimental as I fear, but right now it feels like progress is being (or could be) set back a good 50-75 years in one fell swoop.

Trump has since been inaugurated and is now officially the 45th President of the United States. My fears haven’t been wholly unfounded. Many of his cabinet nominees (and now members) are completely incompetent and unfit for their positions. He seeks to dismantle the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of 2018. A poorly worded and implemented immigration ban was put in place. It has since been declared unconstitutional but many people who shouldn’t have been caught up in the ban were not allow into the country, even with valid visas. Deportations are sweeping across the nation and the Dakota Pipeline has been pushed through. Bills are being written and presented in state congresses that, if passed, would revoke a woman’s autonomy if pregnant, as she is solely the “host” of the fetus and men should be able to dictate what she does with her body. Trump’s alleged ties with Russia are coming to light and calls for impeachment are already being shouted from coast to coast.

I am grateful that our government has a checks and balances system in place, but this system is not infallible. The balls are already rolling and these changes scare me. Facts, knowledge, and research are being replaced with “alternative facts” (or as I like to call it for what it really is: propaganda) and resources are being stripped away from the public eye.

Long since before Donald Trump got the Republican nomination, he made me nervous. His patterns of speech and choice of words echoed pre-Holocaust speeches and propaganda. I saw the warning signs. He sounded (and still does) like a narcissistic abuser with hate in his heart and a longing for power.

And I’m not the only one. Charlotte England’s article title Donald Trump using Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ playbook, says world expert on Nazi leader from the online edition of the Independent (UK) describes Trumps rise to power on the coattails of Adolf Hitler, playing the same game of bluffing and distraction in order to be elected. Full article can be read here.

History is repeating itself and we’re falling for the same trappings over and over again.

I’m not saying this will lead to another genocide, and with our checks and balance system in place hopefully our freedoms will remain intact. What scares me is our country’s ignorance. We must educate ourselves on what Trump’s executive orders and goals are. We must educate ourselves on the issues at hand. Not just things like global warming, but on topics like the environmental and cultural impacts of the Dakota Pipeline. On the business practices and budget breakdown of Planner Parenthood and similar services. On immigration and terror statistic and any/all correlations. On religion, history, genetic engineering, and any and all topics that are up for debate.

Check your sources. I admit it is difficult in this day and age to understand what is fact and what is not. Statistics can be manipulated however the interpreter sees fit in order to draw the conclusions that they with and articles don’t always make their sources clear. We are in a day and age where discussion and debate are put aside for opinions and shouting matches. Remember, the loudest voice isn’t always the right one.

Everyone need to put aside their egos and work together to make this country and government work. This isn’t about hurt feelings or who is right or wrong but rather continuing to function as a society. I understand education to be the starting point for all of this. It is time to set aside our reluctance and expend the energy needed to get back on our feet.

This is daunting. Just thinking about even attempting this makes me feel drained to the point of despair. I can barely breathe without wanting to burst into tears at how hopeless it feels. Who am I to try and stand up? Who am I to try and make a difference? No one will listen to me.

But maybe if I start small, my actions will snowball. Maybe if I start small, others will join in. Maybe together, our voices will be heard and our actions felt across the nation. And together we will be that change.

So even if you feel small and insignificant just like me, remember you are not alone.

Shabbat Shalom

Disney Cruise

This past spring, right before I started working at Disney again, Kass and I went on a Disney Cruise! It was our first proper vacation since our first trip to Disney World together back in 2012. We did a 7-night Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy and we absolutely loved it. We got an indoors stateroom, which was cozy and absolutely adorable. There’s a TV portal in there which allows you to see the camera feed outside and occasionally shows some magical surprises!

Before we left I made some magnetic Mickey door tags for us to decorate our door with. I made a Rapunzel/Tangled one for me and a Pascal for Kass. We love Tangled and it’s our favorite Disney movie. I also made drinking tumblers for us. I decorated them with the Disney Cruise Line logo, “Disney Fantasy” and they have our names on it too. This way we weren’t wasting cups every time we wanted water or something to drink. They ended up being crazy useful. However, instead of using the straw it came with, for health/cleanliness reasons, we decided to bring our bag of IKEA straws to use. One reality of being on a cruise ship, everyone is in tight quarters in relation to each other. Normally I wouldn’t use disposable straws like this, but to prevent any potential illnesses from spreading, we decided this was the healthier option, rather than washing our reusable straw constantly.

So first of all the ship is gorgeous and the food incredible. There are several absolutely stunning bars and lounges through out the ship that are perfect to relax in, especially if you’re traveling without children. There’s a few areas and pools that are 18+ so adults can escape and get some peace and quiet.

There’s tons for kids of all ages to do too, beyond just main pools on the upper decks. They have the Aquaduck, which is a tube ride/coaster that flies high above the ship. The are splash areas (Nemo’s Reef!) for the little ones and Goofy’s sports area if you want to play basketball or similar sports. There are age appropriate lounges/playspaces for everyone from toddlers to teenagers where parent’s aren’t allowed.

There are events, programs, and tours happening all over the ship all the time so on sea days you can always find things to do. If you want to stay in bed, watch Disney movies, and get room services (which is already included in your cruise package) you can do that too! Go to the spa or nap on a chair on the upper deck? Go for it. Meet characters like Peter Pan, Cinderella, or Mickey Mouse? Hang out in the atrium and they might say hi to you instead! Peter Pan, for instance, loved running around the floor and playing with kids once he was done signing autographs. He even took an older lady’s teddy bear, climbed into a window, and hung out for a bit just talking to the bear. It was little moments like these that made the trip really special.

Let me talk about a cast member named Alan for a moment. Alan was our housekeeper during our stay on board. This man knows how to create magic, and not just with crazy awesome towel animals. He knew who we were and greeted us before we even made it to our room the very first time. He would clean, fold, and organize basically everything in the room, including Kass’ dirty boxers! I’m not even kidding! He made Kass and I want to be better people. We wrote him a letter and everything expressing how amazing he is. His is one of the major reasons (or at the very least our primary reason) why the Disney Fantasy was so magical. Next time we’re on board we are absolutely requesting his section (and you totally should too). He is a remarkable one-of-a-kind cast member that creates genuine magic just by being himself.

On our trip we didn’t do much while in port. In St. Thomas we did go zip lining, which was crazy fun, but looking back I’m not 100% sure it was worth the cost. It’s something that you can do all over the place for a much cheaper ticket price than what we paid. When we were in Tortola, we stayed on board and finally got to go on the Aquaduck while most people on board were out on the island. Castaway Cay was the best day in port. Although we didn’t do the Castaway Cay 5K, we walked most of the path in order to get to the adult only beach, where we hung out for most of the day. The beach was amazing. The water was so pretty and the beach was so quiet. We just got to hang out and enjoy ourselves. The food is included but shopping (which is cash only) and alcohol of course isn’t. Jack Sparrow was also walking around/hanging out by us for a bit. He spent a lot of time talking to a service dog named Holly, who was on board with another family. After having a very relaxing morning, we did the adult only snorkeling excursion, which happened to include one of the couples that we went zip lining with (so that was pretty cool). It ended up being more intense than we (more Kass than I but I wasn’t wholly prepared either I guess) thought, because instead of being in a shallow pool and sticking our faces in the water, we were taken out on a boat in the middle of the ocean by a rock and just swam around for like 1.5 hours. Saw a barracuda which was pretty cool (albeit scary). We had bought an inexpensive Go-Pro which caught some cool footage of both snorkeling and zip lining, which was perfect because Kass can’t see much without his glasses. Before we made it back, our guide found a conch which he butchered right in front of us (with like a butter knife) and we got to try it. It was the freshest sea food ever (#notkosher, though admittedly I don’t keep kosher. Topic for a different post). I’m not big on raw seafood to begin with, and to be honest I’m not even sure if I liked it, but it was cool to try it. We tried some Bahamian rum and soda drink, which was very nice, as we partied back to shore (all 8 of us). It was seriously one of the best days on the whole trip.

Although Disney Cruise Line is insanely more expensive than most other cruise lines out there, for us it is worth the cost. We love the atmosphere and the extra mile Disney goes with their ships, team, and adventures. I’m more than willing to try less expensive cruises, but my heart will always belong to Disney. I could spend all day talking about the food and dining rooms, the specific lounges, the spa, shows and entertainment, but I won’t. I’ll leave some for you to discover on your own Disney Cruise. Hopefully we’ll see you there when we’re on board again this summer!

Shabbat Shalom ❤

PS Check out my instagram (which you can access from the Social Media page). There pics from our cruise including our door tags and tumblers! Okay, there’s fewer pics from the cruise than I thought, but there are the door tags and tumblers!

Moving Back to Orlando

Last spring, Kass got a new job and basically had to start almost immediately so I put my notice in at the shul and in a mad dash (more or less) we’re moved back up here to Orlando, together this time.

Since we still had two months left at the old place, we left some non-essential items behind that we would then grab on subsequent trips. Honestly, we began to dread these trips. The thought of driving back to South Florida still fills me with anxiety. We were so unhappy there I never want to feel like that again. AND our old complex charged us even MORE money to clean it (even though we were coming back to clean it before we left entirely but oh well).

Our apartment search went rather smoothly and we settled quickly into our new place. We did basically all the heavy lifting and driving by ourselves though, which wasn’t fun. This included hitching one car to the moving truck which Kass drove, while I drove my car with the cats (Ying & Yang).

Side note: we adopted two sisfurs from the Broward Humane Society! They had been their for about 3 weeks before we fell in love with them and chose to rescue them. They have since settled in with us (almost at our 2 year adopt-aversary!!) and love to play and cuddle (including with each other).

Our current apartment is so much nicer and newer than our old place. It’s smaller, but we’ve managed to fit everything from our old place pretty comfortably. We got rid of our dining room table, but we have a massive kitchen island and we rarely used that table anyway. And we’re saving so much money here in rent, utilities, and insurance compared to our last place! With all the added amenities (including being minutes from Walt Disney World & Universal Studios) it doesn’t even compare.

When we moved back I didn’t have a job lined up in Orlando yet because it was so short notice. I took about 2 weeks to get everything unpacked and take a small breather from my last job before applying anywhere. When I did start applying, I came right back to Disney. In less than a month from reapplying I was lucky enough to be rehired (part-time) in Food & Beverage working at a new restaurant in one of the parks. I’ve since put in for full time and have opened my availability so that way I can try to get at least 32+ hours a week. I enjoy my location, my fellow cast members, and the schedule flexibility to be able to pick and choose when I want to work (more or less).

Some might say I have arguably taken a step back in my career, especially since I took a pay hit coming back to Disney and am not using my degree in a way that would be typically expected of me. To that I say, I am happier here and still earning enough to get by. I plan on using my degree to further my personal life rather than career and engage in Judaism that way. I will always love Judaism and Jewish education, but can’t see myself making a career out of it. If I do, I fear I might start resenting it. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan on using my degree and education every single day to combat ignorance, celebrate life, and carve my own path living a meaningful and Jewish life.

Shavuah tov l’kulam

On Taglit Birthright

Happy New Year Everyone!!

While we were still in South Florida I participated in Taglit Birthright, which is a (almost) free trip to Israel for about 10 days for Jewish young adults (18-26) whom have never been. I’m so glad I went and miss everyone dearly! (Happy one year friend-aversary IR33149!)

Mind you, I’ve been to Israel before in high school on TRY/USY High through Ramah (which I also loved and will wholeheartedly recommend to anyone still in high school or for their children). I’m lucky enough that Taglit Birthright changed the rules that if you went on a high school program but were there for less than 3 months you are still eligible to participate. I did the USY High portion of TRY (which I think has been renamed since but that’s what the shorter program was called then) that was only 2 months long so I could return to the US in time for exams and graduation.

Back to Birthright:

I went through Israel Experts on their Culinary Program for 21-26 year olds, so everyone on our trip loved food or worked with food in some way, shape, or form. Me personally, I had previously worked in the food/beverage/hospitality industry and was looking to get back in it. On my trip we had everyone from self-professed foodies and bloggers to personal chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and sommeliers. We came from all sorts of Jewish backgrounds too. Some grew up religious, but most didn’t. Some had many Jewish friends, experiences, knowledge but not everyone did.

What I will say about the marvelous people I were with, including the Israeli soldiers on mifgash with us and our staff, that everyone was wholeheartedly themselves. We were very open and accepting of each other. Throughout our journey across Israel that is something we would bring up occasionally: how free we were to be ourselves and how positively it was accepted across the board.  And it was beautiful.

For me personally, as someone who came from a decently strong Jewish background, it was occasionally difficult to remember that not everyone on the trip had even a foundation of Judaism to ground themselves it. But we all learned and grew together.

To this day we’re all still friends, talking on Facebook and planning meet ups. Unfortunately (for me at least) most of everyone is in the NY/NJ area or CA so those people get to hang out more, but I’ve managed to hang out with the few whom have trekked my way since we all started parting ways at Tel Aviv International Airport.

I plan on coming back to staff, and would have applied already, but I have since changed jobs, moved, and gotten engaged!!! So I think I should probably plan my wedding first and then come back to staff after all that planning is done. (Or who knows, I may change my mind and staff first, then get married. We’ll see!!)

In the mean time, I’d be happy to answer any questions about the trip and you can totally put me down as a reference if you choose to apply 😉

Shavuah tov l’kulam and see you on the flip side

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