Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: XIV

I finally finished The Mindy Project. *SPOILERS*

Mindy was strong-armed into giving the wedding toast by Tamra and Morgan's wedding. 
Mindy: I never thought Morgan and Tamra would work as a couple. Tamra is so beautiful and cool, and frankly far too talented to work in our practice for very long. 

Tamra: It's true! I've gotten several offers to leave!

Mindy: And Morgan is, shall we say, a bit of a fixer-upper.

Morgan (sniffling): That's the nicest thing anyone has said about me. 

Mindy: But what I didn't realize is how much people can change. And how much we can help each other change. Tamra stopped thinking she was better than everyone. And Morgan, you've really matured, too. I mean this is the man who finally moved out of his grandmother's house. 

Morgan: Oh my God! I forgot to invite Grandmother! 

Mindy: And maybe they weren't right for each other then, but somehow they are now. That's the funny thing about people changing. It happens so slowly, you know? You don't realize how much a person's changed until you look at them and they're not the person you thought they were.  

Fun fact: Han was actually mentioned to me for the (first) time when I was 21. But by the powers that be, a date did not come to fruition until I was 30. 

It never even occurred to me to think, "If only . . ." Because I wasn't who I am now. The person that I was at 21 was still unformed in many ways, still had much to learn, still was not where she should have been to appreciate the relationship she has now. 

Chances are, Han was the same way.  

I try to recall how young I was when I started to feel the angst of singlehood. 23? 24? When I look back, I laugh at my youthful stupidity. 

I hear from time to time about a young lass who "just wants to get married." Because her friends are, because she feels on the outside, because she wants to move on. 

But there are other ways of moving on. Like by changing. 

A comment was left on my last "Sane" post by an Anonymous: "I'm a totally different person than I was 15, 10, or even just 5 years ago. I've changed so much. I worry a lot about my future of course, but I recognize that my life circumstances have shaped me in a way nothing else would have."

Some of us achieve change by pursuing knowledge, self-awareness, and -improvement. Some of us have change thrust upon them by life circumstances. Yet some of us refuse to to change. Which is a shame.  

There is much conversation about those Gemeras regarding marriage. There is the "40 days before conception" one, and there is the "harder than splitting the Yam Suf" one. I've heard quite a few shiurim on the topic, and here's one interpretation: 

Everyone is born with a predetermined zivug. However, there is also the option of getting a different zivug based on the madreiga one is currently on. So if one brings oneself higher than one's mazal, one can achieve a more appropriate bashert. 

Which would you rather have? 

Opt for change we can believe in.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

PL's Day Out

I've been waiting a long time for this: My sister asked for me to take her to Sephora!
Before, she relied on me for makeup, but she used up all her stock. I gleefully hustled her in. 

"OK, what first?" I asked, my enthusiasm bubbling over.

"I need more primer, Laura Mercier, I think." We went to the Laura Mercier display. "No, wait," she amended. "It was Benefit." Then she spied another brand. "Or was it Nars?" 

Oh dear. "Let's move on to what we know," I hastily intervened. 

"The Kat von D makeup," she said promptly. "It is the best. Amazing coverage, and lasts."  

"It is! But many don't realize it has to be bounced on with a damp makeup sponge. They try to apply with their hands or a brush but it'll go on too thick. Cool! They came out with a bunch of new shades. The other color was too dark for you." We settled on Light 43. 

"Mascara! Do you have lash primer? No. OK, so Iconic Overcurl and the Maximizer. Although I tried a sample of a different one and I think I like it. But be aware the Iconic Overcurl is awesome, it'll clump if you sleep in it on Friday night." 

In the basket it went, anyway. "Lipstick?" 

"I'm not so into matte. I like it more satin-y."

"Smashbox Be Legendary doesn't go on so matte yet it lasts." 

While we were there: "The primer! It was Smashbox!" 

"Are you sure?" 


Moving on. They didn't have any Smashbox lipstick in pink shades in this Sephora. Who else, then? 

"I'm not sure about other satin lipsticks that'll last . . ."

"Eh, I don't need it to last." Nars Audacious Lipstick in Claudia, then. 

"Back to primer. Maybe Hourglass? Oooh, you must get the Ambient Powder in Diffused Light! You'll friggin' GLOW. You dust it on all over after applying everything. Ah! Their Primer Serum. I definitely got you this once. Maybe." 

"Kinda pricey." 

"Yes. But if it doesn't work, re-turn-aaaaable!" I sang. 

"Then what do I have to lose?" she chucked it in to the basket. 


Then I painted her for a wedding that night, using also the eye palette I had insisted she get a few months back. 'Cause it has grays, which is perfect for blue eyes.
Not this dramatic.
Since she doesn't usually like as a dramatic eye as I do, I tentatively applied with a light hand. Three times she peered in the mirror and requested more dark in the crease. I was kvelling. 

When I moved to her lips, I brandished a lip pencil and lip brush

"Lip pencil? It's not the '90s anymore." 

"It's not for a look. You won't even see it. It's a guideline, so you can get the fullest lips possible." 

After I finished buffing, brushing, painting, and dusting, she looked fabbo, if I say so myself. And she felt fabbo. 

What a lame superpower I have. But I'll take it. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: XIII

Han and I constantly agree on one thing: Whilst single, being single was the least difficult part. After all, in the cosmic scheme of painful circumstances, being single ranks sort of low.

What was difficult was people.

The community rises to the occasion for issues. Sick people get Bikur Cholim. Infertile couples get organizations to assist. Children flirting with the line have organizations too, which usually involve unconditional love.

Single people get "You're too picky."

In terms of the blame game, while there are those who can maneuver their feet into their mouths with acrobatic grace, it is not considered socially acceptable to hound ill individuals how their condition is "their fault." Some may thoughtlessly ask a childless couple, "How many children do you have?" 

Yet singles are special. For "their own good," they are castigated by all and sundry, stranger and friend, family and quasi-relative, as to what they are "doing wrong." 

I was upbraided by a relative that I was single because I didn't date online. I was told by a woman I had just met by a wedding that "Don't be hung up on looks," after I had simply told her my name.  I was told, repeatedly, to settle, settle, settle. Whatever that means.

Then, oh God, the shadchanim. These supposedly well-meaning but misguided folk believe that their self-proclaimed status gives them right to harass and terrorize. Polite "no thank you"s are meaningless in their sphere. Then their personal opinions about one's appearance. Yes, yes, I'm tall. Sadly, I can't shrink in the wash. And the makeup stays.

But what really gets my goat? 

The knowledge that if I had married at an appropriately youthful age, I would have been no different. I would have sat at my kitchen table with my husband, shaking my head forlornly at so-and-so's "pickiness."

Empathy is something we can all try to achieve, but it is still hard to understand the situation another is in. Yes, my heart twists for you, but um, not quite sure how it feels . . . 

Before Ma's illness and passing, my empathy was certainly of a different caliber. Now it has achieved a greater status, a comprehension, a meeting of minds. I now know what it means, the heaviness in the chest, the despair, as life as we know it vanishes, and a new reality begins. 

So I can say, one good thing that has come from my 10+ years of dating . . . I have achieved true empathy for all those that, when I was young and stupid, I blamed for their plight. 

It's an opportunity. See the pain of others.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


I don't really understand guacamole. There are too many foreign flavors. Cilantro? Lime? Raw onion? I prefer parsley, lemon, and my onions caramelized. 

I made it once for company in my single days. It was politely neglected. 

Yet for Han's sake, I decided to tackle it.

My one criteria was that the recipe call for dried cilantro. I abhor the stuff, and have no use for it after taking what I need. Lord Byron provided one.  
I halved the recipe, and based on Han's suggestions put in less onion (I prefer the milder shallot), and all the juice from one lime. I omit the red pepper flakes. My new delightful discovery is sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe's—that place is freakin' magical. Magical!  

Avocadoes soften freakishly fast at room temp, but stay inert in the fridge. So I buy them when they are very, very green, and take them out a day or two before I plan on making guac. 

Han has claimed this guac is just as good as store-bought. (Sing-song) naaaaaaiiiiiiled it!  

*Notes: I had rescued a sad avocado from my sister's fridge but didn't have any lime or shallot. I used lemon juice and scallion instead. Han still enjoyed. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

She Gotta Be She

I don't consider myself a feminist. If you think that women should get equal pay, that makes you a feminist. Can't I just be someone with a basic sense of "fair"?

My objections to feminism in its typical form is the aspiration to male heights. "We can do anything a man does!" 

But I don't want to be able to do things like a man. I want to do things like a woman, and since that comes natural to me, I'll be awesome at it. 

Take this mild example: Han, because he's male, may get some respect by customer service because he's male. I'm never going to get the male equivalent of respect because, duh, I'm not male. 

However, if I carefully apply my makeup and opt for a bold matte lipstick, then enter with a dignified bearing, I'll certainly get courteous service. 'Cause I'm doing it like a woman. That's what my Momma taught me. (Like I told Ta recently: "They call it 'war paint' for a reason.")
Amanda Hess muses on similar lines in "The Trouble With Hollywood's Gender Flips." Numerous films that initially had primarily male casts are being redone with women in the same roles. Three cheers for "equality."
. . . even when a Hollywood franchise is retooled around women, it still revolves around men — the story lines they wrote, the characters they created, the worlds they built. These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals. . . 
There is a slight moral miscalculation here: that in order for a film to be considered feminist, it has to show women fighting men, and not each other. But life pits women against one another, and eliding that is just as ridiculous as staging all intra-female conflicts in kiddie pools full of Jell-O — it ignores what women are actually like. . . 
It’s hard not to watch these female ensembles and yearn for the heights of “Bridesmaids,” or more recently, the coastal California social satire-murder mystery “Big Little Lies,” both of which lean into conflict between women instead of shying away. These stories acknowledge that women have problems that originate within and between themselves, not just in their relationships with men. In short, they let women be interesting. And when their feuding crews of women do team up, it feels earned instead of assumed. (Both stories were also originated by women.) Besides, comedy requires the upending of social expectation, and the funniest parts of these projects are the moments when the characters wrestle free of feminine demands — not by “acting like men,” but by acting out as women.
Big Little Lies was based on the engrossing book by Liane Moriarty (I read the book before they came out with the adaptation, which I have not yet seen). 

I, personally, do not feel resentful that men get to wear talleisim and have to daven three times a day. I have my own skills, my own talents, my own ways of serving God—because I'm a woman, not despite it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shabbos Lips, Circa 2018

Makeup is an ever-evolving process. Technology advances. Options grow. Methods alter. 

F'instance, when I first tackled Shabbos Face, I asked a few stunningly-lipped women their products, and most shared the drugstore longwearing lipcolors, which have a liquid shade on one end and a moisturizing gloss on the other. 

The moisturizing gloss is needed because the longwear, if left alone, is extremely drying. The premise is that as the day goes on, one can slap on some more gloss as it wears off, while the color remains food-proof.
But on Shabbos, that's not an option. So by morning, my lips were very unhappy indeed. Plus, by afternoon, the color would begin to flake off painfully, taking skin along for the ride while leaving uneven patchiness. 

I'm not keen on gloss, in any case.

I decided to experiment with matte lipsticks instead. I've always preferred mattes—Ma introduced me to them, and I've stayed loyal. I like the rich color, but depending on the brand, it too can get drying. During the week I would dab on some lip balm beforehand, but on Shabbos that would prevent staying power. 

The game changed for me when I discovered Smashbox Be Legendary Matte Lipsticks. These are technically matte, long-wearing, but they have a hint of satin which provides just enough comfort.
Now the method: 

(1) After brushing teeth, buff the bristles along the lips.
This removes dead skin, which: 
  • compromises the bond between lip and lipstick;
  • mattes tend to highlight flaky skin; and 
  • buffing will temporarily plump up the lips, allowing for the fullest possible application.  
Dab lips dry from any moisture.  

(2) Line lips with longwearing pencil. You are not going for the '90s look; this is about getting an accurate, full, and steady stencil for application. The pencil itself will get covered as well. I'm currently using one by Urban Decay
via Style Craze
(3) Arm yourself with a lip brush. I recommend stiff, synthetic bristles that will remain within the lines (I like the one by Revlon). Another perk is that the color really gets into the lip skin, making it last longer.
via Insider
(4) I begin with my Smashbox in Electric Pink Matte (this shade is no longer available in Sephora, but it is on Ulta). I paint on a coat (covering the lip pencil outline too) blot with a thin tissue, apply a second coat, and blot.
  • Note: Blotting is very important. Each blot removes excess product, so it won't peel off in one piece later, and sets in the color more firmly. 
(5) Now on to a more typical matte lipstick, a Mac Matte Lipstick (there is also Retro Matte). I'm currently using a (sadly) discontinued shade, Silly. Two coats, two blots. 

(6) I top off with a Sephora Color Lip Last Lipstick. I find their finish can sometimes be patchy, so I use this last. I flip between a few of their pinks. Sometimes I blot the last coat, sometimes I don't.

If you are truly devoted to the makeup cause:  
  • Straws are your friends.
  • Be very, very careful with soup or oily foods. Oil will whisk that color right off. I learned from Ma since childhood how to contort my mouth in such a way to get food in without it touching my lips. 
  • Become very good at air-kissing. Although it's on so well a few pecks on my nephew's head doesn't do much damage.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: XII (a recap of I)

I'd like to circle back to that tricky word, "hishtadlus." 

In my original post on the topic, I applied the same premise of hishtadlus as seen in terms of parnassah. However, I had an insight recently that shows that comparison to be faulty. 

A few weeks ago, Rabbi Noson Weisz had a dvar Torah for Parshas Shlach, in which hishtadlus is discussed. The source for the concept of hishtadlus comes from Adam's curse following his sin: "Accursed is the ground because of you; through suffering shall you eat of it all the days of your life ... By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken." (Genesis 3:17-19)

Rabbi Weisz elucidates: 
Man's bread comes from God in any case and does not grow out of his application of effort. It was man's sin that brought the curse of effort down on his head. While no one can escape this curse entirely as long as our present world endures, it is obvious that it would be the act of an idiot to voluntarily subject oneself to a curse more than is absolutely mandatory.
It says b'feresh in the Torah that mankind has to make an effort in order to eat. But it doesn't say where effort is required anywhere else.  

How did Adam find Chava? Endless Starbucks dates? Prowling through singles events? Scrolling online?

Adam desired a helpmeet. Once he did, Hashem provided him with one.
I came across this story: 
An older bachur once came to the Tosher Rebbe, zy'a, exasperated over his plight, beseeching him for a bracha that he find his bashert. The Rebbe warmly responded, "Hashem wants you to be a chassan just as much as you do." The bachur then asked, "So, Rebbe, what am I to do now?" The Rebbe answered firmly, "NOTHING!" 
What I found surprising was how the family guru had a nearly identical story with Rav Moshe.  

There is a matter of debate between the Rambam (and another one, I have to run it by Ta) about what is involved in order to marry. I think it's according to the Rambam that you have to want to, and that who you marry is decreed by Hashem (bechira has nothing to do with it). 


There doesn't seem to be any hishtadlus required in order to marry. Girls certainly don't have it, especially considering they never were cursed with hishtadlus in the first place (we just get the guaranteed pain and suffering of childbirth. No biggie). 

I think the one thing that really hit home for me when I met and married Han was how futile all those years of obsessing with "what to do" were. Yes, I wanted to marry, I was chalishing to marry, but the Eibishter was gently saying, "Not yet, mammelah, not yet."  

Obviously, holing up in your basement and becoming a smelly hermit won't exactly encourage a mate. But most of us belong to a community where people know us, and they tend to try to set us up. 

We just have to stay sane as they eat up our kishkes, though. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Love and Hate

Our eyes are weak with longing for Your love, 
for we are loathed by a hateful foe:
see how afflicted we are within, 
and how, without, we're abhorred—
like Leah, whose suffering You saw, 
as You bore witness to her distress. 
She was hated at home, 
and also despised abroad. 
Not each beloved, however, is loved,
and all who are hated are not hated:
some are hated below, but loved on high. 
Those You despise are despised,
and those You love are beloved. 
We are hated because we love
You who are holy. 

—From Piyutei Yannai (sixth century poet)

seen in Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole