Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing for Men: Flashy Belts

As my father's and brothers' personal shopper, I am definitely biased to designer labels—for shirts, suits, shoes, ties. 

But not for belts. 

I have seen many a Jew-boy wearing a Ferragamo or Gucci belt, with the horse-bit logo taking up half their belly, but their suit looks supremely lacking, and their tie appears to have been purchased from a street vendor.
http://images.bloomingdales.com/is/image/BLM/products/1/optimized/950591_fpx.tif?wid=1200&qlt=90,0&layer=comp&op_sharpen=0&resMode=sharp2&op_usm=0.7,1.0,0.5,0&fmt=jpeg
Here's the thing: a belt is meant to hold up the pants. It doesn't make a man look skinnier or chicer if it's designer. If it doesn't help the wearer look svelter, then what's the point? 

Instead of investing in a regular-priced designer belt because it's a smaller accessory and so seemingly affordable, purchase one from Marshalls, and save up for a designer suit instead. THAT makes a difference in terms of looks. 

When one wears a good-quality suit, people notice. Ma got my brother-in-law a suit once, and men were actually coming up to him in shul to ask if they could touch it. 
http://www.caccessories.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/18/Belts-20110518118.jpg
I like men's belts to be brown leather. And no, the shoes do not have to match. The shoes can be black and the belt brown; no worries.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We're Not The Only Ones With A Dress Code

As the blogosphere attests, many a frummie desires to be chic/hip/stylish as well as dress according to current Judaic standards. I thought that such a topic would not be of interest to the outside world, but as Mormons gain media attention, perhaps with Romney's campaign, NY Times gave them a fashion spotlight
“I think there’s an acceptance now that you can look current and interesting but still uphold the values of the Mormon religion,” [Kendra Smoot] added. There are limits, however. According to guidelines on dress and grooming on the church’s official Web site, Mormons are discouraged from wearing immodest clothing, including “short shorts and skirts,” “tight clothing” and “shirts that do not cover the stomach.” They should “avoid extremes in clothing, appearance and hairstyle” and not “disfigure” themselves “with tattoos or body piercings.”
Hey, that's our thing! 
Needless to say, countless Mormons work in fashion, design, art, music and film, and they generally dress and act just like anybody else.  
Um, sound familiar? 
. . . the center of a growing Mormon subculture, populated by creative types who dress like they stepped out of “a modest American Apparel ad,” she said.

Are you kidding me? I thought we copyrighted that image years ago!

Well, well, well. Here we were, shuffling through stores seeking long-sleeved, low-hemmed, high-collared garments, and the Mormons stole our image! 

It's okay, I suppose. There's enough fashion-conscious modesty to go around. I can be generous.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Battle of the Bulge: Mealtimes


I wasn't in an unhealthy weight bracket, but I wanted to take control of my eating habits, and I lost unnecessary weight, which I am not complaining about. 
For those who are interested, read on. 

Once the palate is accustomed to healthy foods, then the next step can be taken. 

Step 2: Mealtimes Strictly Enforced

I used to eat constantly and mindlessly. Every time I was bored, I would haul open the fridge door for something to nibble on. 
http://cdn.sheknows.com/articles/2010/06/woman_fridge.jpg
I didn't change that while I adjusted my palate to good foods. But five oranges a day add up, y'know. 

Now, I made sure to be satisfied after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no munching in between. After holding myself back for a few weeks, I began to differentiate between hunger and boredom, to the point that unless I was hungry, I did not want to eat. 

The size of the stomach (not the protruding belly; the organ where food is digested) depends on how much one eats. Eat less, and it shrinks. One will feel constant hunger for a bit while cutting down how much one eats, but if one hangs in there, the stomach will adapt and one will be satisfied with less food.

It was a big success for me, I have to say, to eat only by meals. 

While some diet plans claim the necessity of snacks, that does not work for me. Once I start munching, I don't stop. Better if I eat a full meal and wait until the next one.  

And it paid off; I shed another five pounds. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello, Louis

Louis C.K. is, I grant you, a potty-mouthed comedian. However, when he has to make his bits FCC-friendly, he can be thought-provoking as well as hysterical.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Not Quite Yet

My grandmother, getting on in years, decided a while back to get for herself a full-time woman. She's gone through a few by now, but she currently has the most amazing, lovely, caring lady that we all adore. She's kind, she's educated, she's interested in and respectful of frum Jewish culture.

A cousin of mine who is still in her teens got engaged. My grandmother is furious about this imminent marriage as I am still available, despite the fact that we are both her descendants.

But Babi's woman initially thought it was me that got be-ringed, and she was horrified. Why?

She doesn't want me to give up my independence so soon.  

And, she added, I should hold out for a man who will take care of me (she doesn't get this "sitting and learning" thing).

I hope she doesn't go home anytime soon. She's doing wonders for my ego.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marriage, The Roma Way

I have found myself, despite my protestations, succumbing to more and more reality television. I have now been sucked, much to my chagrin, into My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01819/my-big-fat_1819489c.jpg
I was initially intrigued by the dresses; the ads display gowns so large that the brides spend their weddings tripping and stumbling and poking eyes out. Underneath, the skin is rubbed raw and bleeding from the weight.  Emerging from the wedding day with scars is considered normal. 
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/01/18/article-1348164-0CD0640A000005DC-229_634x553.jpg
I find the dresses magnificent. A bit much, but still fabulous. In an age of less is more, ungepachkit gowns are rather appealing to see. I'm not a fan of minimalist wedding frocks, slender casual dresses lacking pomp and circumstance. 
http://media4.onsugar.com/files/2011/07/27/3/1818/18181381/71758567343294d7_special_gypsy_wedding_gown.jpg
After tuning in, the Roma culture itself is rather interesting. They marry very young; brides of 16 are normal. "Long in the tooth" can be 22. While their daily attire can be rather . . . revealing, they have very strict moral standards. They don't date nor are they engaged very long. 
http://gypsywaggons.co.uk/ukvardos/trailer-caravans/km-P6020121.jpg
The reality show depicts the Travellers and Roma (technically two separate ethnic groups) not in the most flattering of terms, according to the internet outrage, so I shan't relate any more as their culture, like any other, is not so simply depicted. (For instance, I once stumbled upon British reality series about the lives of observant Manchester Jews, and they were happy to make us look insane. The three episodes were available on koshertube, but they appear to have been deleted).

These girls dream of their wedding for years, the same way any other typical girl would. I always found that concept to be sad, how girls can spend years longing and planning for this one day. 

Sure, I think about a hypothetical wedding, and I may have a dress designed in my head, and perhaps I already know which makeup artist I'll be using, but I think that once I have a guy, I would be happy to be married in a rabbi's study. 

The idea of "MY day," and spending entire savings on it, I don't get. For some, the memories of their wedding will have to buoy them for years to come, and they know it. I hope my own joy and lifelong satisfaction doesn't have to depend on one day of celebration. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shrew!

The other day The Taming of the Shrew (1967) was on TCM. While Elizabeth Taylor is wearing too much makeup for Renaissance Italy, the film is rather entertaining. It also has Michael York in a supporting tole, and I always found his voice soothing.
While Elizabeth seems a bit much, keep in mind Katherine is a drama queen. This translation deals well with Katherine's eventual and inexplicable deference to Petruchio (played with swinish abandon by Richard Burton, Elizabeth's recurring husband); one can see that he has not tamed her, merely she gets with the program that instead of shrieking, she'll have to demurely manipulate him. Since his method to break her was to "kill a wife with kindness," he has it coming.   
http://www.gonemovies.com/WWW/XsFilms/SnelPlaatjes/TaylorTamingShrew.jpg
You go, girl.
I suppose feminists could have a field day with this play. Here we have a strong woman (when Katherine has the soliloquy about women's soft and weak bodies, I want to laugh; never mind her ability to give others a black eye, what about basic childbirth?)

But consider; times haven't changed so much. Baptista (Katherine's father) will not marry off his other daughter, the lovely (meaning sweet-tempered) Bianca until the elder harpy is wed.


The first in, first out policy has only recently been repealed in some Jewish circles. Even in more chilled-out homes, I heard it said even about the sons.

There was a guy I went out with once (and happily never saw again) who was working (in a very good job I might add) and later married a lovely girl. It was said before I went out with him that the mother wanted him married and out of the way since his younger brother, the learner, would be a "hot commodity" and so quickly snapped up. It took him five years after the elder brother's wedding. Snort. 

I am happy I don't have sibling issues in that department. 

A girl I know went out with a guy, and said, "You would be perfect for my older sister." He was. 

I've been the cheese, standing alone, since I was a teenager. And what I know is that turning into a Katherine while dealing with the dating world is all to easy. 

"Lea, please," my mother begs. "Don't give me a hard time about this." 

Good thing I don't have a sweet-tempered sister to make me look bad. Then I'd be foisted onto a Petruchio. Ew.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tchias HaMeisim

The reigning shoe of today is Louboutin, in all its freakishly tall glory. 

I, personally, do not drool over them the way some do. In my view a shoe has to look good, not necessarily be the "in" shoe. I know of some who pursue Louboutins, but since they are reduced to the affordable yet still in-stock items, they end up purchasing pairs that are unflattering. But hey, they have red soles, so who cares if their feet look deformed.

But does anyone remember, how but a few years ago, the Queen of Saks was the Manolo? 

The Manolo Blahnik reached Louboutin-like heights not so long ago after Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) began crooning to them through store windows. "Hello, lover."  
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/08/02/article-2021466-0D459A7900000578-507_634x430.jpg
It seems, despite getting ground underfoot, the Manolo has arisen from the dust to reclaim (at least, partially) its glory. 

While they are infinitely tamer than the Louboutin, they are also more wearable, both in terms of comfort and chicness. 
Arriving for her Vogue shoot last spring, Ms. Parker entered a dressing room filled with the latest styles and a wall of shoes secured for the sitting by Tonne Goodman, a seasoned editor at Vogue. “I walked in and looked around and saw all these shoes, and then I spotted the Manolos and it was like water in a desert,” Ms. Parker said. “I was just so excited to see a simple black pump.”
Welcome back. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Overheard - Rather, Said in My Presence

Woman 1: "You know about that lovely girl that lives next to me, right?"

Woman 2: "Oh, yes! She's amazing. Sooooo accomplished." (voice drops to serious tone) "Did she ever get married?"

Woman 1: (shakes head sorrowfully) "No."

Woman 2: "How old is she now? 23? 24?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The One, The Only . . .

He's baaaaaaaaack.

I have been eagerly awaiting the resumption of Rabbi Yisroel Reisman's Navi shiur, and according to a schedule I uncovered, it will begin October 22 at 9 pm (eastern standard time). 

Here is a list of locations that link up to TCN, or Torah Conferencing Network.

I cannot recommend him highly enough if one wants to be inspired. He also gives mussar better than anyone else I know (he has an adept hand at Jewish guilt, and he says the "fire and brimstone" method was no longer viable after churban bayis rishon). 

For those who are unable to attend, his book Pathways of the Prophets, which is composed of his Navi shiurim over the years, is a great read. I've probably bought five of them in all, as I kept giving them as gifts. 
http://judaicahouse.net/prodimages/pathwaysofprof.jpg

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Tried. I Really Tried.

It has become obvious that the Colorscience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder in Perfectly Clear is too dark for my skin tone. Before I give the lighter shade, All Clear, a shot, I wanted to try other available brands. 
http://images.skincarerx.com/xl_images/colorescience-orb-spf-30-all-clear.jpg
BareMinerals is the highest rated and best selling mineral makeup out there, and I really wanted to like it. 
http://www.dionlabel.com/tl_files/dion/images/Ashley%27s%20Blog/Bare%20Minerals.jpg
I bought: 

Light: straight yellow. 
Golden Fair: too yellow. 
Fairly Light: too orange. 

They all went back. 

Then, I tried Korres Wild Rose Mineral Foundation
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/312ak3H8pWL._AA300_.jpg
Light: too dark.
Fair: too orange. 

Both went back. 

I was starting to feel what Jon Stewart sadly called John Boehner: "You misguided tangerine." 


I didn't give the Philosophy The Supernatural Airbrushed Canvas a second look because the lightest shade (warm ivory, or something like that) was straight brown.  
http://www.stylebakerybeauty.com/images/philosophy%20the%20supernatural%20airbrushed%20foundation.jpg
Clinique Superbalanced Powder Makeup was too dark as well. I was really bummed about that as I really like the idea of freshly-shaved makeup.

I do have a mineral makeup that is positively gorgeous, which is the Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Face Powder Makeup in Light Beige 020. It's not even in the lightest shade available, yet with these other companies I cannot find something light enough.

It's odd, because I do not have porcelain white skin. Not remotely.

There are many makeup companies who are not able to  (or will not) accommodate some skin tones.When Calvin Klein first came out with makeup, Ma was told by the sales associates that she can do nothing for her porcelain white skin. Yes, there is prejudice against skin color amongst cosmetic companies.

I do not want to cheapen the divine effect of Dior  by buffing it on daily, and additionally I want a mineral makeup with a little more SPF to cover my bases. 

But after spending many cumulative hours in-store and online, I am near frustrated tears. 

I have one last option:  

Sephora Mineral Foundation Compact in D10.

Here goes . . .

With baited breath, I swish it on . . . 

Go out into sunlight . . . 

YEEEEEEEEEES! Victory! 
http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/victory.jpg

While previously I would have preferred a mineral makeup with at least SPF 30 for weekday, the Elta MD that I apply beneath keeps me covered. 

I buff it on with my drugstore-issue mineral foundation brush, and my face is actually now the same color as my neck! Ha ha! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dorian Gray vs. His Portrait

A fellow shul-member approached my mother telling her that she is quite impressed with my davening.

I was taken aback. My davening is not exactly stellar. While in high school I was able to enter a plane of trance-like prayer to the point that my head buzzed upon surfacing, my davening nowadays is rather pathetic. I'm unable to focus the way I would like, easily distracted by the silliest thoughts ("She wore that? But she's so pretty! Why would she put on a horrible waist-obscuring top like that?") While my nose may be piously planted inside the siddur, believe me, my head is elsewhere. 
http://www.filmreference.com/images/sjff_01_img0388.jpg
We really only see the outward appearance of people. Not the inside.

One never knows what is going on in other people's lives. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Some may think that others are enjoying wonderful lives; maybe they aren't. Nor do we know the true worth of a person based on the outside. 

When I left the "ghetto" for the outside world (college) and met other Jews (waddya know? There are other types of Jews!) it definitely took my brain some time to recalibrate. I found myself focusing on another's personality rather than the outward appearance I was used to. 

After meeting many amazing, admirably religious people who would not qualify as "tznius" by my former BY, I no longer use rulers as a gauge for individual worth. While I abide by the hems/sleeves/collar requirements  for myself (with a little wiggle room) I do not expect another Jew to. 

Take as well the concept of physical beauty. How often have I met someone, male or female, thinking them to be oh-so-bad looking, but after ten minutes in their company they have become the most beautiful person in the room? Perhaps they don't photograph well, but if they are given the chance to converse one-on-one they are positively stunning. 

A while back there was a "controversy" - Michell Bachmann was featured in Newsweek, and the cover photo made her look loony.
http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/michele-bachmann-newsweek-cover-crop.jpg
Jon Stewart (hysterical, as always) said that there are many things that can be said about Michele Bachmann, but she is definitely photogenic. Therefore, Newsweek had look long and hard to find an unflattering shot. 
http://www.indecisionforever.com/files/2009/12/michele-bachmann-horiz.jpg
"This one could be a shampoo ad!" - Jon Stewart
You don't need a bad photo to prove she's crazy, Jon said, "Because that's what her words are for." (Example: The HPV vaccine causes mental retardation in 12-year-olds).

Let us give the non-photogenic a chance. Because the ones that look great aren't necessarily keepers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Us tall girls don't have an easy time with shidduchim, simply because every guy suggested turns out to be a pygmy. Not that I object to a man shorter than me, just they get particularly nasty.

Then, it finally happened . . . I went to a wedding, and all the guys there, I mean practically every one, was tall. Six footah, as the Bobbies would say. 
http://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/uploaded_images/JewishGrandmother-792080.jpg
She looks a lot like mine.
I felt like a kid in a candy store. 
http://musklemom.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/resources-kid.jpg
"Look! Can I have that one? Never mind, how about him, his head practically brushes the ceiling! Ooh, ooh, let's get him!" 

I whirled about in childlike glee, ecstatic at the options available, noticing how I was getting speculative glances rather than murderous glares. 

And then I bumped into her

Since she hijacked me for quite some time and I was only staying for the chuppah, my shopping spree was cut short.

I sadly slunk through the door, knowing a sale like this doesn't happen often, woefully bidding a silent goodbye to all the  merchandise. 

Dang.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yes, You CAN Trim Your Own Bangs

Here's a video that provides tips on cutting one's own bangs.

I've had bangs since age 4 due to a gigantic forehead, but they suit so many face shapes. 
http://images.sodahead.com/polls/001884475/1424817496_bangs_xlarge.jpeg
I found these tips to be quite helpful. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Judgmental? Me?

I went to B&H to buy an electrical accessory, and I was being helped by (who else?) a chassidishe fellow. Pathetically, I felt a need to prove my heimishness, and began to shamelessly drop Yiddish terms, which he was rather unimpressed by. 
http://stephennessen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/b-and-h-photo.jpg
While waiting for my item to be fished out from the basement stockroom, a Hispanic worker came by and they chatted. She was complaining about having to greet the customers in the doorway as the cold air made her shoulder ache. 

She walked away, and the chassid said that she had just gotten a tattoo on that shoulder. 

I expressed my perplexity in terms of tattoo allure - the pain, the permanence. 

He looked disapprovingly at me. "It's another lifestyle," he admonished. 

That really gave me something to chew on. 

Divisiveness nowadays is based usually on the flimsiest of premises - skirt length, Cholov Yisroel vs. Stam, velvet or knit kapul. In other words, sinas chinum: baseless hatred. 
http://mediastore.magnumphotos.com/CoreXDoc/MAG/Media/TR6/d/e/4/9/PAR184973.jpg

Many smaller communities outside New York are more welcoming of their fellow neighbor. A relative of mine in Australia doesn't eat in the house of her best friend - there's a real problem with her kashrus, but they are still BFFs. In many areas, everyone does their own thing and no one holds that against them. 

But I think the divisiveness stems from another area; I think many of us don't trust ourselves, and in order to feel as though they are "proper" they have to alienate themselves from true, kind, frum people for rather shvach (weak) reasons. 

These people are not the "chaver ra." That person will incite others into bad behavior. They simply don't do things exactly like you.

Acceptance is the understanding of who one is, yet welcoming those whose lifestyles are not the same.
http://www.jewishjournal.com/images/bloggers_auto/hugajewday.jpg
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz wrote an article called, "Why Doesn't Religion Make Us Better People?"
. . . that of the person who is very particular about religion, but sees it only as a form of ritual. For him, religious practice does not have any meaning — except for going through a routine in a particular way. While such people may be good or evil by nature, ritual life may become mechanical. Over time, they may be more and more involved with meticulous observance. They may measure others only by the way they, themselves, practice religion. They may see observance as an excuse for avoiding any good deeds that are not part of the ritual. And sometimes ritual practice even serves as atonement for very immoral behavior in other arenas, or for belittling or despising other religions. They see God as an idol that demands sacrifices — the sacrifice of other human beings.
This line that ends off with nutshells it: 
Both wisdom and faith work much better when the worshipper identifies with them internally rather than being tamed to show them off externally.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pleasantly Surprised

"Mammelah, and it should be, this year, that . . . "

I distance the phone from my ear. Please no please no please no. 

With every Rosh HaShanah, there are enough people who say, "This year you should find your zivug!" And yet, here we are, a year later, and don't we all look stupid.

But she surprises me. 

She pauses, reconsidering. 

"You know what, mammelah? All that really matters is that we have our health." 

I relax. Thank you thank you thank you. 

And I happen to agree with her. 

If we have our health, all is well. We should treasure it and guard it and thank God for it. Every single day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

OPI Mod About You


I will admit I could be more patient when I nail file and shape them better, but anywho . . . 

Above is OPI Mod About You, an opaque pink nail polish that I quite like. Light pinks such as this tend to make my hands look tanned by comparison. 
http://www.aveyou.com/ProductImages/opi/brights/brmodaboutyou.jpg

I have found that light opaque colors are hard to apply as boo-boos are more obvious than with darker shades, so I did a little searching for tips. 

One is to apply Vaseline on the cuticles. Whatever nail polish ends up there does not dry on the skin and so is easily washed or scraped off. Just be sure that it doesn't end up on the nail itself. 
http://readynutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/vaseline.jpg

Another is to get a nail art dot tool and use the fine point for straightening out the polish. 
http://wiseshemain.wiseshe.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/100_88621.jpg
I bought one on Ebay from China for a buck or two. It's really quite handy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kids and the Darndest Things

I was pulling out of the driveway with two nieces in the back. While I was spying the road for oncoming traffic, Niece 1 suddenly asks, "Lea, can you get married?"

"Um, sweetie, not right now."

"But can you get married?"

I wasn't liking where this was going.

"Do you mean is it possible for me to get married?"

"Yeah."

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Of course, the real reason for this conversation became clear. After revealing her desperate wish to be a flower girl and/or bridesmaid, she said, "Can you make the wedding really late so I can stay up?"

That's what anticipation for my nuptials boils down to: avoiding bedtime.   
http://www.preboundbooks.com/ws/image/cover/27746/m
Eloping sounds better and better.
http://sheokhanda.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/c1815elopement.jpg

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fasting Like a Pro

I've noticed that recently I've been fasting great. Before Tisha B'Av this email was going around, and it seems I've been doing what it is recommending. 

Tips for an Easy Fast

Recap of the article Helpful Tips to Insure an Easier Fast by Ira Milner, R.D.  

1) The first source of your discomfort is the body’s need for water.  Water is involved in practically every bodily function, and if you provide the body with enough fluids, it will help you function as a whole. So, the day before the fast, remember to drink, drink and DRINK.  (When you go from room to room, carry a tall glass of water as a reminder.)  Your regular daily intake is supposed to be six to eight 8 oz glasses.  The day before a fast, that should be upped to eight to ten glasses.  (Do the math: That means one glass every hour between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm.) Warning:  Although you may think cola, coffee and tea also supply water, the diuretic properties of caffeine make those beverages inadvisable.  Remember also that most fruit are more than 80% water, and vegetables are from 70-95% water. 

2) Decrease protein.  Protein attracts water, and too much of it can leach water from body tissues.  In extreme cases, dehydration could result from consuming too much protein because the extra protein pulls out water that is later needed to remove the waste products from the body.

3) Increase Starch and Fiber.  Simple carbohydrates (chocolate bars and candies) are sugars.  Complex carbohydrates (whole grain breads and cereals, pasta, potatoes and legumes) are starch and dietary fibers.  Although during digestion both break down into glucose, complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, and help ease the pangs of a fact.  (Think of what the marathon runners eat the night before their run.) 

4) Decrease salt, spices and fried foods.  What happens in your body when you eat them?  Your blood level of sodium rises.  This stimulates the brain’s thirst receptor, which triggers the thirst sensation.  In addition, since water is required to remove salt from the body, it further increases the body’s need for water.

5) Avoid caffeine.  If you regularly drink more than two to three cups of coffee per day, taper off several days before.  Although technically caffeine is not addictive, the body becomes accustomed to its stimulant effect, and suddenly abstaining from it will inevitably produce the ‘withdrawal headache’.

6) Two other ways to minimize water loss the day before a fast: Don’t exert yourself too much and stay out of the sun.

So what is your meal before a fast?  Chicken soup, roast beef, and a tall glass of cola?  That’s a no-no-no.  Here’s a suggestion:

         Whole grain challah
         Plain pasta
         Baked potato
         Steamed vegetables or tossed salad
         Fresh fruit
         Lots of plain water

Another added suggestion is to ween off sugar and other simple carbs way before the taanis. I no longer have sugar on a daily basis (rarely any white flour either) and my fasts are not remotely as murderous as they used to be.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Aunties

Katie Bolick wrote an article about her status as aunt, and the importance of parents' siblings in a child's life. 
The aunt exists outside the immediate family unit, ambassador to a universe of other options, as well as — crucially — a grown-up who isn’t an authority figure or disciplinarian.
Um, she obviously hasn't been in my house, where I crack the whip harder than any parent (and the kids like it). 

She mentions Melani Notkin, who was featured in the Jewish Week article I had mentioned before: 
In April, Melanie Notkin, a social-media entrepreneur, seized on this underrepresented underclass with “Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids” (William Morrow). Her book is a spinoff of her Web site, savvyauntie.com, which aims to be an “all-inclusive guide” for what she calls PANKs: Professional Aunts No Kids. It’s a rallying girl-call in high chick-lit style: lots of hot pink and cheerful advice filed under rubrics like “Auntre-Nous: Straight Talk for the Childless Auntie” and “The Importance of QualAuntie Time.” 

I do appreciate Ms. Notkin’s auntrepreneurism. But as a chronic non-joiner, I’m not interested in becoming part of a “unifying lifestyle platform”; for me, much of the allure of being an aunt is being liberated from expectations, free to make it up as I go along, constantly surprised by the delights of the relationship, which includes not only passionate love but blessed freedom.
I hear that. I'm certainly not like any other aunt I've met before. 

But her finishing touch was a little disheartening for those who expect the niece to always be there for you:
It was only upon the arrival of Niece No. 2, in August, that I crossed over to the dark side of aunt-dom. Whereas Sophie had been the first child ever born to humankind, conferring a gravitas to all present, including secondary relatives, Annie was the final link in a now-complete nuclear unit, and me a pushy bystander. This time I skulked around the hospital room like an overdressed wallflower — an overeager mistress. I’d worn a new green frock to impress Sophie, but she didn’t even notice.
Someday, I know I'll outlive my usefulness/appeal.   
http://snarkysmachine.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/auntie-mame2.jpg
Auntie Mame (1958)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Feel the Bunion

The last few Yom Kippurs I have cheerfully bounced to shul in my usual everyday Converse sneakers, thankful for the slab of rubber hugging and protecting my feet throughout the long day. 


It was about Yom Kippur "myths" - for instance, did you know that since fasting is min haTorah, and the davening service was established later, if a mother would need to consume something on Yom Kippur just to be able to handle her children, her husband  who shares the obligation for their children should stay home from shul to help her?

So, anywho, the article continues regarding the concept of no leather shoes. (In the old country, Ma says, they went to shul in socks.) When sneakers were permitted as footwear, it would seem it was because that once they were not as comfortable as leather shoes and did not protect the foot. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_iHTuZwkuBqw/TDzoCEniMEI/AAAAAAAABdY/LvhqDlA-k4A/s1600/Altea+stones.jpg
Via bezbot.blogspot.com
The intention was that our feet should be sensitive, to be able to feel the ground beneath the feet. Additionally, one opinion is that shoes that are donned on a daily basis shouldn't be the go-to shoe (there is an opposing opinion, based on the fact that we are "fastidious" nowadays, but I think I can suffer a little).

Guiltily, I concluded that I needed to purchase specific "Yom Kippur" shoes. Scrolling through Amazon, I searched  for one that could be easily kicked off during davening, so at least for shul my un-shod feet would suffer in the deep pile carpeting.

(If anyone asks why not Crocs: Crocs are the biggest travesty to footwear out there. They are not flattering, they don't hold feet securely, and children have been caught in escalators. They should be shot.)

But after purchasing five pairs of synthetic shoes, all gave me great pain or were otherwise unwearable. They are all being returned. 

Since I have cut myself off from my beloved Converse, I suppose I'll make do with some sad Keds in the back of my closet. For the sensitivity.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flawed Yet Flawless

Bad4 posted this before I did (showing my conceit that I am the only one in the frum world who gets NY Times) but, what the hey, I decided to post it anyway. 

Sara Eckel's tale in Modern Love gave me quite the boost. 

If one is single by a certain age, many react with "What is wrong with you?" 

Such a statement can be a killer to one's self-esteem. We shrink, internally, as we obsess over the apparent imperfections that ban us from a committed relationship. 

Ms. Eckel was plagued with the same.

She had dates who bluntly stated that since she hadn't had a committed relationship in a long time, therefore, there was something wrong with her.
When my long-ago date asked that question — “What’s wrong with you?” — I was, of course, outraged. I finished my drink, said I had to get up early. But honestly, his question was no worse than the one I asked myself nearly every day. It wasn’t full-blown self-loathing, more a hollowness that hit me in the chest at certain times — a long subway ride home from a mediocre date, a phone conversation with a married friend who suddenly said she has to go, her husband just took the roast out of the oven.
So she entered a quest of repairs. 
A lot of good things happened during my period of constructing Sara 2.0. I went to artists’ colonies, taught storytelling to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, adopted a rescue dog, learned to do a handstand — all under the banner of “Learning to Love My Single Life.” And I made sure everyone knew my life was super-duper awesome with or without a man — my adorable apartment! my fulfilling career! my amazing friends! But I also knew I couldn’t play that card too often, lest the Greek chorus conclude that my well-oiled life left no room for love. As a male friend once told me, “Sometimes you see a woman who has her act together so well that you think, What does she need me for?”

My efforts yielded many friends and filled my calendar with fulfilling activities. I went on Internet dates, speed dates and blind dates. I had great hair and a confident smile.
But I was still alone. And in the dark of Saturday night, I still asked myself, “What’s wrong with me?”
But then she met Mark. And she realized: 
To Mark, I was not a problem to solve, a puzzle that needed working out. I was the girl he was falling in love with, just as I was falling in love with him. 
It's not that there is something wrong with us!
Did we find love because we grew up, got real and worked through our issues? No. We just found the right guys. We found men who love us even though we’re still cranky and neurotic, haven’t got our careers together, and sometimes talk too loudly, drink too much and swear at the television news. We have gray hairs and unfashionable clothes and bad attitudes. They love us, anyway.
What’s wrong with me? Plenty. But that was never the point.