Busted Halo

Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.

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August 31st, 2011

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an article on Kathryn Stockett, author of New York Times best seller and current film, The Help. Turns out Stockett received 60 rejection letters from agents before her novel was accepted. My friend is also a writer and we tend to motivate each other when success in our fields seems hardly attainable. After reading the article, I knew I had to pick up a copy.

While the story was riveting, it was the writer’s unyielding determination that continues to motivate me. I brought the book with me to Spain and on my way back to America three women approached me to say how much they loved it while I proceeded to tell them the tale of the author’s 60 rejections.

Maybe it was because I just experienced World Youth Day and felt more in tune with my faith, but there were sections in the book that mentioned prayer that stood out to me. In Chapter 2, Aibileen, one of the maids, began praying for Miss Skeeter and said, “That’s the way prayer do. It’s like electricity, it keeps things going.”

After I went to confession, I made a promise to myself …

August 25th, 2011

You might be wondering why I’ve been so quiet about (ex)boyfriend and me.  I’ve always been a bit protective of our relationship, not wanting to put every detail out there for the world.  But I felt like some readers really took a genuine interest, so I thought I should share the basics.…

August 9th, 2011

2011 has been my jet-setting year. My roommates joke that I don’t really live in Brooklyn. I just carry my passport and suitcase everywhere I go and each new destination is my home for the time being.

Truthfully, they’re right.

The thing is though; I don’t completely feel this way. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is, and over the past year my heart has been torn between Brooklyn and New Jersey. While living in Brooklyn has been a dream, I’ll always be a Jersey girl and the Garden State is still where most of my family and friends reside. So, I’m constantly juggling both worlds trying to be present in every relationship but frankly, it’s hard.

While in California dog sitting for a friend for two weeks, I kept wondering what I was missing in Brooklyn. And, when I’m spending my nights hopping concert venues in Brooklyn I wonder what my friends from Jersey are up to or how my cousin’s wedding plans are coming along. Sure, Jersey’s just a bus ride away and people have it much harder being in different countries than their loved ones, but it’s still tough nonetheless.

After a great weekend …

August 5th, 2011

My very good friend Marina, who I plan to conquer the world with, added me to a “Personal Development” Facebook group. Anyone who is in a Facebook group already knows that those messages are a nightmare, inundation to the max. However, the other night I thought I’d catch up on all my missed messaged and (without surprise) knew Marina added me for a reason.

Sometimes matters of life are common sense. Most of the time, we need to be reminded of such matters. I wanted to share some of what I learned by catching up on the conversations in this group that would be helpful for all mankind, no matter the religion. I encourage others to join too.

1. Write thank you cards

This is the single-most, best thing you can do to tell people how you feel and to form lasting impressions. For a great link on how to write one well, go to ArtofManliness.com. It wouldn’t hurt to spend a night writing one to those who have impacted your life and, while you’re at it, write one to yourself.

2. Do it before you’re told to

This one comes from author Cal Newport. The Single Most …

August 1st, 2011

Last week I started what I would like to call the 14-Day Happy Challenge.  It’s something I came up with a week ago Sunday night after realizing I had started to focus on the little things that bother me, rather than the big and small things I should be grateful for in my life and, in turn, make me a better person.

For two weeks I am not allowed to complain about work, but instead be grateful that I have a job that has given me the opportunity to challenge myself and push myself to work harder.  I can’t complain about my relationship, but rather communicate and work through it. And I can’t complain about the day-to-day tidiness of our apartment – instead I can find the vacuum :)…

July 29th, 2011

 

I’ve had at least three drafts of this blog entry written over the past few weeks but nothing I wrote seemed to make any sense, until today. Today, I went back to an article Jon Foreman had written that a friend sent me titled “Making a Living.” You see, the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about this exact phrase and whether it is possible for me to successfully make a living as a music journalist.

One of my all-time favorite musicians is Jon Foreman, frontman of Switchfoot. Whenever my life becomes a roller coaster ride and I can’t seem to come to the right decision I take out their album, The Beautiful Letdown. “Meant to Live,” “This Is Your Life” and “Dare You To Move” are three tracks that always allow me to reflect on a sequence of events that may have just occurred and reassess things.

In his article, Foreman wrote, “In my personal struggle to make a living, I’ve found that true success has very little to do with income or comfort. In fact, it seems to me that inconvenience, hardship and discomfort are my best teachers . . .  Against the …

July 18th, 2011

Watching the news often depresses me. Murder. Kidnapping. Cyber bullying. War. Natural disasters. Very rarely is there a positive story. While I tend to avoid the news for my own well being, it just so happened that last week I was glued to the TV for Diane Sawyer’s exclusive interview with Jaycee Lee Dugard, the girl who was kidnapped and lived for 18 years in her kidnapper’s backyard. A haunting tale, the more her story developed, the more upset I became with humanity.

Oprah’s episode on Chelsea, a 21-year-old who was abused by her parents and lived in a cage for the first seven years of her life, followed the two-hour Jaycee Lee Dugard story. And there I sat, for three hours glued to the couch in disbelief.

How is it possible for such evil people to exist in this world and get away with these atrocious things? Chelsea’s parents only had to spend one year in jail for child endangerment and they were let free. Jaycee’s captors have life imprisonment, but the man who kidnapped her was previously in jail for a long sentence before he was let out for “good behavior.”

While I sat there wondering how God …

July 13th, 2011

I go out in hopes of forgetting, thinking about something else, anything. Music, poetry, who got wasted last Saturday night. No such luck. Going out for hookah can never be just that. All encounters result in talks of Moshiach (messiah), do rabbis believe in aliens, angels, devils, prophecies, evolution.

I should want to talk about this. I should get off on this discussion. But I can’t, because 10 years later I just accept that which I have accepted. My desire to question and debate is less innate. I just want to talk about the mundane. That which is not holy. But I am denied this. I can’t run away from it.

And I find myself just wanting to get away. To be somewhere else. Israel, where I don’t have to wear my Judaism on my sleeve because it’s a given. Where it’s an afterthought. And I can be something else: a poet, an activist, a free-thinker, a music-lover, a creator, who in all of this – despite all of this – is Jewish.

My physical needs tug on me, and I leave our outdoor bubble back indoors to a different reality. With a diverse people, with secular music playing, and …

June 28th, 2011

tin roofI’ve been anxiously awaiting my trip to Nashville for what seems like forever. Since my first visit there two years ago my life has changed dramatically. No longer a recent college graduate, I’m not unsure of my future and my answer to the once dreaded question, ‘What do you do?’ Finally, I can say I’m a music journalist and not hesitate while thinking, ‘Well, I work here during the day but I write here and intern here.’

Sitting at Tin Roof for lunch (and sweet tea!) in Nashville by myself after David Nail’s fan club performance, I’m reminded that he was the first country artist I interviewed just two years ago. A lot has happened since then.

Overhead, Third Eye Blind is blasting from the speakers. Next, I hear Boys Like Girls and Taylor Swift’s “Two Is Better Than One” before the DJ segues into Train’s latest single. It’s here that it hits me. I have interviewed every single artist just played on the radio. Hard to believe exactly two years ago I was here for fun, covering the CMA Music Festival writing for free and now I’m getting paid to do what I love.

Sure, there have been some …

June 16th, 2011

monica-oprah_finale-largeAt what age are we supposed to receive everything we’ve ever dreamt of? Not 25 — I’ll tell you that. But for some reason, many of us at this age feel like we are supposed to be at a certain place in life. For many of us, we are gravely disappointed when 26 shows up.

Two Weeks Ago

If you haven’t heard, Oprah is no longer on the air 4 p.m. EST on ABC. Her 25 years came to an end the same time mine did. I would be lying to say I didn’t cry during her last episode. I don’t know if it was her leaving, or the mere fact that I felt like the adult who would say to her kids, “I remember where I was when JFK was shot,” only this time it would be, “I remember where I was when Oprah’s final episode aired.” (Technically I was at Six Flags, but watched it on Tivo as soon as I got home.)

The point being is she was an icon to me — the way Lisa Ling, Diane Sawyer and others are. And I will be sad when they go too. But Oprah was always something …

June 10th, 2011

annie-coincidences-largeThe more I talk with Monica and Farrah about our career paths over the past few months, the harder it is to believe in coincidences. Instead, I find myself realizing more and more that God must have a hand in all of this. How else would we have wound up living in Brooklyn together and writing about these experiences and constant questions we have day-to-day?

I’m sure Monica has a lot to say about Oprah’s final episode last week, but one topic that she touched upon that struck me was that we should all listen to that whisper we hear (God) guiding us toward the right path. When we hear that voice and ignore it, our lives go off course. Often, it takes a huge meltdown and everything in your life turned upside down to realize it’s time to follow that voice.

I graduated four years ago and remember one specific moment I had when running into a former high school teacher of mine at our local bookstore. I was paging through the latest issue of Rolling Stone, thinking of stories to pitch them in hopes to work there after college. You know that look you get when someone …

June 7th, 2011

It was May 2006 and I was in Jerusalem – the Old City, to be exact – for the holiday of Shavuot.  I had plans to stay with friends who were dorming at Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus for the semester.  We took a cab down to the Old City to meet up with friends for the holiday where the Jews celebrate receiving of the Torah.  It’s customary to stay up all night studying Torah in anticipation of the gift we are about to receive…and that’s just what I did.

It was the only time that I stayed up all night.  I was with someone who became one of my best friends that year I was in Israel and he and I were always prepared to take on new experiences.  Of all the classes available in Jerusalem, we decided we would stick to an organization called Isralight that had a special Shavuot program.  It was perfect for us as we hadn’t really had an advanced Jewish education.  The topics of the lectures that night slip my mind, but the memories of walking from the Old City to the Kotel – the Wailing Wall – for 5:00am prayers will never …

May 18th, 2011

This past month has been a major period of reflection. Since my full-time job ended in April I’ve been looking for additional freelance work, but things are slow. The more I think about it though, the more determined I am to stick with music journalism.

After going to various networking events and gaining tips from journalists in the field I’ve realized that while part of their success is a result of being at the right place at the right time, most of their success is because of their determination.

I don’t know why I have this unyielding passion for music when other friends are struggling to find their path. Obviously God has a reason for this and won’t allow me to give up despite my endless questioning. Remember that job I was devastated about not getting a few months ago? Turns out I’ll be covering a conference for them while I’m in Nashville this June for the CMA Music Festival. It may take a while to figure out why things pan out the way they do, but in the end I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason.

Joe Nichols’ latest single, “The Shape I’m In,” features an …

May 12th, 2011

I know I’ve been quiet for a while, but maybe it’s because there’s just too much to say.  For the past couple of months I’ve been…conflicted.  So many thoughts running through my head, so many questions, yet not finding the right words to express myself.

The holiday of Purim came and went in a whirl with a vodka-filled and -emptied flask by my side. I will admit, something felt off, but it was a fun time nonetheless. Just the right amount of debauchery, and while my friend was spinning me around during wild dancing, I kind of felt like I was in a circus scene in a movie. Everything was a blur around me.…

April 27th, 2011

It was as if it never was here. When one is in graduate school, the most important thing is a break, a vacation – Disney World. Annie and I up and went last minute to the land of dreams, miracles and fairytales; a land where Passover almost doesn’t exist.

I didn’t even think about it.

You might remember another time when I wouldn’t have considered missing Passover. I would be the one in the family to make sure we get to shul, to be upset if my family was not getting together, to seek out seder meals. But I don’t feel that way anymore. After this trip, however, I wonder if I’ve become altogether dismissive of the power of a Jewish holiday.

skyliner

It was a bit ironic that on the third day of Passover, four days before Easter, Annie and I show up to the gates of Disney World and in the sky was written “U + God = Smiley Face.”

It went on to write JESUS. Invictus. And some other words that faded as soon as it hit the sky. It was as if a fanatical religious man stole a skywriter and had a field day. But it reminded …

April 27th, 2011

mkcastleThis past week, Monica and I escaped to Florida during her spring break and my time off from work. We headed to Orlando with the intention of reverting back to our childhood and being kids again. I think we both had a wake-up call and quickly realized we’re no longer children with our parents planning the trip and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Our first snafu came as we arrived at the airport to find there was no shuttle to our hotel, despite being promised one. We eventually took a way-too-expensive cab ride, which made us miss the easy and accessible commuting options of New York.

Throughout the remainder of our stay in Orlando I realized how grateful I am for my parents. Every summer we’d vacation together and they planned everything. I never had to worry about transportation anywhere or having enough cash on me. It seemed we came across badly behaved kids everywhere in Disney World, making me more and more thankful I had parents who paid attention to me, disciplined me when I needed it, and, most importantly, loved me unconditionally even when I frequently expressed that I would have rather been at a friend’s birthday party …

April 5th, 2011

Last month was my church hopping month as I’ve come to call it. One of the services I went to discussed how once you put yourself out there and truly start believing, obstacles will be put in your way, tempt you or fill you with doubt. I didn’t think much of these words and shrugged them off until things just seemed to become very off balance in my own life and the lives of the closest people around me.

Everything seemed to hit me at once. I always believe everything happens for a reason, but when really bad things happen to good people you can’t help but to question how any God would allow this to occur.

Monica, Farrah and I have had so many questions throughout the past few weeks. Whether it’s job related, relationship-wise or just wondering what the next chapter of our lives will be, we’ve been struggling to find the answers.

I always relate most to music, and seeing Darius Rucker’s latest music video for “This” truly struck me. Sometimes we can’t control the things that happen to us. Whether it’s breaking up with a significant other, losing your job or questioning your faith, we all …

April 4th, 2011

Busted Halo readers – Girls Meet G-d readers especially – thank you for making us feel like we are not alone.  That there are other seekers in this world.  That we are always searching for answers to life’s questions.  Like, what am I supposed to do with my life?  How do I know he’s the one?  Am I really supposed to observe the Sabbath?

You answer, and we love you for that.  It is heartbreaking for me (Farrah) to know that many people on this Earth go on with their days without any holiness in the mundane.  That they don’t factor in a higher power to their everyday life.  But you remind me that there’s a whole slew of people who do believe.  So thank you.  Because this year hasn’t been the easiest, and challenges are everywhere.  G-d tests us all the time.  Thanks for the encouragement to pass them.

xoxo,

Annie, Monica, and Farrah…

March 27th, 2011

prayer-blackberry-largeI need to pray more. It’s a thought that goes through my head about once a day, yet more often than not I don’t act on it. Whether I sat in the comfort of my own apartment or on the subway with a prayer book and Psalms in my purse, it is easier to find excuses. Like today’s for example, when I packed a book of letters from Rabbi Nachman of Uman with a special prayer to be read for 40 days straight to bring on one’s soul mate. My excuse to only carrying it with me throughout the day but not reading from it: I can’t find my list of single people to pray for. What will be tomorrow’s excuse? Or the next day’s or the next?

I set a reminder on my BlackBerry every day to read a few Psalms to pray for a particular person to get married. I love and care for her deeply, yet I always find that work gets in the way. As if work is more important than taking 5 minutes out of my day to offer something to the Almighty as thanks. If I believe there is a higher power and nothing …

March 23rd, 2011

Tom Shadyac, director of <em>I AM</em>

Tom Shadyac, director of I AM

What would you do with your millions of dollars? Give it away? Move into a mobile home? Make a documentary?

This past weekend I was inspired, to say the least, by two media productions. The first is Secret Millionaire on ABC. Have you seen it? The show’s premise is to embed a millionaire in an impoverished community to secretly seek out local heroes. Sounds kitchy, but I cried at least four times. When unassuming individuals, who work with little to no resources to help their community, were rewarded (with money) at the end of the show, they were brought to tears. It didn’t seem to matter if they were given pennies or a check for tens of thousands. They were just so happy that someone acknowledged them and that someone cared.

This show made me want to be a millionaire simply so that I can go around and reward deserving people, too. And if I had that money, that’s what I believe I would do.

That’s what Tom Shadyac did. In a different kind of way. You might be familiar with his films Ace Ventura and The Nutty Professor. But his humor fell …

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