Friday, August 31, 2012


There's a line in a movie, the quoting of which instantly places me in the group of those who grew up in the 90's.

In 10 Things I Hate About You, two girls are seen walking along their high school campus. In order to illustrate the vapidity of these particular teenagers, one is shown asking the other:

"I know you can be underwhelmed. I know you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?"

To which her friend answers, "I think you can in Europe."

Punch line aside, this line has been on my mind for a day or two now. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am entering a new world now, one of being a full-time grad student while also working part-time and attending a five-week fellowship. Even though the grind doesn't technically start until Tuesday, this week I received quite the little preview of the workload to come, plus a few other worries added in a heap.

These range from the instructions to familiarize myself with the files and systems I will be needing all year before my next workday, to men drilling outside my window all day long, to worrisome health symptoms of someone I hold very dear.

But my point is, I've come up with the definition of whelmed.

Actually, defines to whelm as: to submerge, engulf, or overcome utterly. But there's no real condition of being whelmed. So I've discovered one.

Being overwhelmed is being so consumed by stress that you can no longer calm down or concentrate. I'm way past that right now. I was overwhelmed before I went to my job training and before my bedroom window broke out of its pane on an especially mosquito-ridden night.

Now, I done been whelmed.

I would define being whelmed as already having been broken. As having far reached the point of handling anything more. You've already had your nervous breakdown, dropped your coffee mug, yelled at your friend or had any number of outbursts. You've already been led from the room by a caring person, given a cup of tea, and cried out your stress. You've calmed down a little bit. You're ready to tackle the day, or at least, you know you have to just do it already.

And then your window breaks. Or your cat pees on the couch. Or your work is returned as unsatisfactory. Or someone asks you for one more favor.

At that point you're just like, sigh... whatever.

Fine. Just throw it on the pile.

And you done been whelmed, my friend. You've been whelmed upside the head.

You may be wondering. "Aliza, if you're so whelmed already, why are you wasting twenty minutes by making these cartoons and writing this post about it?" I'll tell you why, though the artists out there already know. I'm doing it because drawing funny pictures and typing are therapeutic.

Here's to something getting resolved, here's to at least one objective being crossed off the to-do list before another is added.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Moving Up, Moving On

(The following blog contains artwork entirely from my previous work on Arbitribe. I have linked to a few of the referenced posts.)

Everything is new.

Despite me physically living in the same neighborhood I did last year, everything feels oddly different now. Like I'm living on a different plane of existence. Well, of course I am. Last year, I was between college and grad school, taking GREs, applying, stressing about acceptance letters, commuting via subway to Brooklyn every day for a part-time job that felt full-time.

I had a tight-knit group of friends, a large mint-green bedroom, and way too much time on my hands. Too much time makes you think, I've realized. And despite my pursuing a Master's Degree in a subject one can only describe as more of an... intellectual pursuit than a practical one, I've learned over the course of last year that thinking is a very easy thing to overdo.

(And as I mentioned in Arbitribe once upon a time, thinking too much can invite drooling dragons into your psyche.)

Which brings me to this year. As an observant Jew, my new year comes in September this year. Right now is the Hebrew/Jewish/Lunar month of Elul, the month in which we reflect on the events and actions of the past year and atone for those we regret or maybe shouldn't have done. We look ahead to the upcoming year and decide what we're going to change, and how we're going to live. What a great time to start a new blog. Looking back on my old, beloved one, and looking ahead to a new life ahead of me.

My beloved old blog (and its logo one of my fellow contributors said looked like the letter 'A' throwing up):

For those of you who read Arbitribe or contributed to it, consider this, if you will, a solo-act follow-up. A sort of musician-post-band years. As us Arbitribers went our separate ways, I always knew I wanted to continue blogging. Not so much to have a huge readership (not that I mind, wink, wink), but just to have a place to write. I've been told, and I agree, that I shouldn't stop writing. I don't want to fall out of practice.

So now I go into this new year. Over the course of the summer, three of my best friends moved on to new cities or new lives. For some, the change was long-foreseen and went exactly the way I thought it would. In other cases, the move brought with it some very quick and unexpected changes in dynamic. These are changes I've got to adjust to, but then again, that's what growing up is. I don't care if I'm a grad student with a job and rent to pay. I'm still growing up, and I've got quite a way to go (doesn't everyone?). And now, in some ways, I feel as though I'm setting off on my own, even though most of my close friends are still nearby. There's definitely a presence that's missing.

I'm in the same apartment, but occupying new space as I trade my mint-green bedroom for a smaller teal one. In direct opposition to my too-free-so-I-think schedule of last year, I've got a jam-packed calendar now. Classes, hundreds of pages of reading, work, fellowship, and artwork to contend with. A blog that goes through a lot less editing and scheduling. And with the friends I've still got close by there to distract me in my free time, it certainly looks like thinking is something I won't especially have time for.

And thank G-d for that.

So here's to a fresh start. A new blog, a new life, a new year. Here's hoping it all works out. And that I still have time to continue those cartoons I used to post (new ones next time).