Weeds, Yom Kippur, and a New Year

Writing about Weeds and Yom Kippur in the same sentence may seem strange, but I do not believe it to be so. The series finale of Weeds recently aired and a week later I am in New Hampshire trying to write down some thoughts and reflections as we approach Yom Kippur and begin the year 5773. Linking the two seemed to start making sense.

You see, I started watching Weeds during the summer of 2008 while on Boy Scout summer camp staff (which could also be a strange pattern of events). During “post-camp” we would watch Weeds when we had breaks or were done working. I sat in a tent with some of my best friends and watched what I thought was an absurd show.

Over time, though, I learned that the essence of Weeds, what continued to draw me to it, was that it is not so much about marijuana, but about relationships. Weeds is truly a story about people – family, friends – and what you care about and do for one another. I finally understand why every episode of Weeds makes me think back to that tent in 2008. We were friends. We were a family. And while not so extreme, we also learned and grew together. Just like I continued (and continue) to do with other friends and with my family.

I find it oddly appropriate then that Weeds concluded with an episode about a Bar Mitzvah on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. That Jewish twist in the show was always a plus for me. The characters have had quite a journey in eight years, but what Nancy cares about and what Nancy is trying to accomplish in the last episode is the same as the first: take care of and be around the people she loves.

The conclusion of Weeds is sad for me. It feels like the end of an era. I keep trying to find ties back to my days on camp staff but another one is over. Nevertheless, I keep telling myself that I live my history every day. What I have done is a huge part of who I have become and who I will be in the future. Everyday I strive to be a better person. Some days go better than others. That leads me to today.

The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time for reflection: for thinking about the past year, asking for forgiveness, and making goals for a better next year. As I think about Weeds, I consider the most important things in my life: family and friends. It has been a good year for me with family and friends. I’ve been able to spend more time with family, keep old friendships, and make new friends. I’d like to strengthen those bonds this next year and need to focus on people, not things.

I have had an amazing amount of opportunities this past year. I am thankful for each of them. I am hoping this next year contains many more and is filled with personal and professional growth. Importantly, I want to do my part to help people get along. There is too much anger and hostility – and way too much inequality – in the world. To start, I need to be mindful of my situation and need to be less judgmental.

To all those whom I have offended this past year, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, I ask for your forgiveness. To those who have offended me, I forgive you.

Like, Nancy Botwin, I hope that I have done well for those about whom I care. In the last scene of Weeds, she is surrounded by her family. They laugh and they cry – but together. I hope to always be surrounded by the people who I care about and who care about me.

Thank you to everyone who made last year a great one. I hope I deserve the same, or an even better, new year.

Student Employee of the Year Nomination

My awesome supervisors at the Center for Multicultural Excellence nominated me for the Student Employee of the Year Award at the University of Denver.  The Office of Student Employment has highlighted the nominated students on their blog.  Here is what they wrote about me:

Joel Portman far exceeds expectations. Not only is he reliable and exacting in his work, the 2011 Student Employee of the Year Nominee has implemented processes that improve the overall quality of work at the University of Denver Center for Multicultural Excellence, according to his nominators, Johanna Leyba, Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence, and Thomas Walker, Program Director of Intergroup Relations.

Leyba and Walker attest Portman has built a strong network of student leaders, administrators, faculty and staff, which he draws upon to encourage engagement in CME projects. During a staff change, Portman stepped up, handling the organization of key CME programs, including the 2011 Diversity SummitVoices of Discovery, and the Diversity and Unity Retreat. Portman plans to graduate in June through the 4/1 program. He will have earned a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and master’s in Business Administration.

2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2010. That’s about 17 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 160 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 161 posts. There were 53 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 10th with 172 views. The most popular post that day was Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, slashingtongue.com, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for pat martchink, how private is facebook, school newspaper articles, carillon, and joel portman.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court May 2010


Welcome! May 2010


OneRepublic @ DU May 2010
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As Our Lives Change, Come Whatever, We Will Still Be Friends Forever May 2010


How Private is Facebook? May 2010