Dead, but Excited

Do I look like I've had a bat mitzvah to you?

In November, I left the nonprofit where I worked for 13 months. I didn’t write about leaving, even though I started this blog around that time, and its namesake wouldn’t have come to be without my having worked there, either. But about a month before I left, the three of us full-time staff members represented our Jewish-affiliated organization at the JCCA’s Mitzvah Day, which was a mashugana of a misnomer. As a seasoned volunteer who wouldn’t have batted an eye at six hours of labor, I assumed that the advertised “day of service” implied, like, a lot of work, in order to, you know, do good. But hey, the Jews already did enough of that working for free stuff in Egypt to last for eternity! …Too soon?

It began at 10:00am with an hour-long breakfast of bagels and lox—Folks, if you’re here for scrambled eggs and bacon, you’re in the wrong place. The post-Mass hot meal for gentiles is in the basement of the church across the street—at the JCC on the Upper West Side. I rolled my eyes through a riveting discussion about altruism and the Torah. After letting my people go from the reception, it took forty-five minutes to trek across town to the senior home where a group of five or six of us spent a whopping ninety minutes spreading mulch around the building’s small backyard, concluding before 2:00pm.

Stuffed with tomatoes and tea, my group made a pit stop at the JCC’s bathroom before our exodus to the Upper East Side. Walking in, one of the girls sighed and explained how tired the workweek had left her. Realizing that she was not trying to sound pitiful, and was in fact looking forward to the day’s festivities, she stated offhandedly, “I’m dead. But excited!” And it stuck.

It’s a peculiar thing to say, which is why I love it. In the literal sense, these two states of being are mutually exclusive. You can’t be both dead and excited at the same time, unless maybe you die having a heart attack during sex (which, by the way, is fully how I expect Hugh Hefner to go any day now, so step up to place your bets on his cause of death, ladies and gentlemen). In the colloquial sense, it captures a sentiment I feel most of the time. It’s cynical, yet optimistic. It’s like I’m ever humping my proverbial baggage up a proverbial hill I ever anticipate will render my life awesome once summited.

My blog isn’t called Vegalicious, it’s name isn’t a play on my favorite movie quote, song lyric, or concept of Nietzsche’s, and the title was neither coined during a moment I am particularly fond of, nor by a person whose name I even remember. (Stephanie? I made that up just now.) But that’s the story, and as for the name—I’m still happy with it three months later, so at least there’s that.

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