Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dude Looks Like a Lady

For millennia, it has been known that men get the better end of the baby-making equation (besides for the obvious: childbirth). Take the first aging couple with a fertility problem: Avraham and Sarah. When he takes Hagar as a concubine, she promptly bears a son. However, a divine miracle was needed to rejuvenate Sarah's womb. 

This seeming inequity has continued down the generations, until today, when bachelors of 50 are seeking females twenty years their junior to fulfill their dreams of daddyhood. 

While the results are not overwhelming, there is some research to suggest that aging men may pass on mutations to their offspring. It was enough to have women gleefully pounce on this news as another equalizer between the sexes. 
But if men start worrying about their biological clocks even 10 percent as much as women do, commenters seemed to suggest, that would signal a notable social shift — one that’s in line with a broader gender shift we’re seeing. Far more men are feeling anxious about worries (work-life balance, pressure to look attractive, even whether they’re good cooks) that used to weigh more heavily on women. We used to think the gender revolution meant that women would become more like men. Has it turned out the real shift is that men are becoming more like women?  
Well, yeah, kinda. Men and women used to live completely separate lives, with strictly defined roles, in nearly all aspects of class and status. As women encroached more and more on the male sphere, adopting more male aspects, men were influenced in turn. It would seem our culture is becoming rather androgynous in gender. 

Seriously, what is a major difference between male and female abilities nowadays except for a right to wear lipstick?

I've become quite fond of the sitcom Up All Night. It portrays a relatable couple (instead of a goofy husband with a wife too good for him, like more classic TV fare) who unintentionally have a child. The husband decides to leave his shtotzy attorney gig to raise the baby while his wife sticks with her job. He is competent, able to change a diaper without hijinks, and is fond of the "Mommy & Me" group, whereas his wife is a Type A control freak who is great at her calling.
They are more alike than not, with less distinctive gender roles. Their lines are practically interchangeable. 

The family guru always said that as the time of Moshiach nears, the original "curses" would have less of a hold. Consider: It was those curses that embedded within humankind the concept of gender roles to begin with, as men had to sweat for their food and women were defined by their child-rearing. 

So I guess progress is Steven Tyler.       

Monday, October 29, 2012

Model Cheekbones

You notice how supermodels tend to have sculpted cheeks?
You guessed it: Fake. 

Fake, fake, fake.

It's actually not that hard to do; with the use of darks and lights, one can have runway-ready cheekbones. Since my grandmother's awesome cheekbones refused to be passed on, I have to opt for optical illusions.

I'm not a fan of bronzer on the apples of the cheeks, since I believe that pink blush is much prettier there; cheeks are supposed to be rosy! But when it comes to contouring, that's where bronzer is useful.

Technically it doesn't have to be bronzer, it can be any sort of eyeshadow or some such that is a few shades darker than the skin tone, and preferably matte. The one I'm currently using is Tarte's Matte Waterproof Bronzer. It looks deceptively light in the holder, but it delivers perfect contouring color. 

Sephora came out with their own line of bronzers, with two matte shades: Los Cabos, which is referred to as "universal," and Bora Bora, which online doesn't look very different. Maybe it's a tad darker? 

Whatever makeup books I looked at were terribly vague on the method. They would show where darker or lighter shades should go, but no advice as to what or with. 

YouTube to the rescue! These videos were absolute saviors. 

The set she uses by Coastal Scents above can be found here.

I use the e.l.f Blush Brush, which is tapered on both ends as well as being flat, making it beyond simple to apply contouring in a neat line. 
Since I have a large forehead I bring some of that contour powder up to my hairline. The contouring also makes the face look slender, so I have been thought to be crash-dieting by the crossing guard ("Dawling, you are too skinny!")

A dark powder or cream can also be used to make a nose look more slender, or to diminish the severity of a second chin.

Brush up on your fish face! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Picky Picky

"He said yes, and you know, he's very picky, so blah blah blah . . ." 

The rest of her conversation layered it on that I should be so flattered that I should agree to a date right then and there.  

"OK, I'll call you back." 

"But—but—he's picky!" 

Why do shadchanim find it a compliment to tell me that the guy is "picky"? That this modest gal passed his criteria with flying colors?

For a girl to be "picky" is flaw of the highest caliber; why would a shadchan glowingly inform me that he has deigned to treat me to coffee?  

"Oh, my goodness gracious, he's picky? And he wants to go out with little-old-me? I do declare, I may faint clear away! Someone catch me!"
Just for clarification: yes, that was sarcasm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Passive vs. Active

Perhaps because I loathe sweating, my weight-maintenance plan doesn't involve the gym. I make a point to walk as much as possible, but ellipticals, stationary bikes, and crunches are avoided. In general, whenever possible, I will embrace the passive approach (limiting food consumption) rather than the active (driving to a gym, weight-lifting things).

Additionally, my personal observations concluded that many of those who most proudly proclaim gym-devotion aren't exactly, um, slender. 

Here enters another article claiming that a relatively immobile lifestyle doesn't automatically equate to obesity. Researchers decided to test the theory that higher activity means burning more calories by observing one of the few remaining hunter-gatherer societies. Apparently, despite the fact that the subjects were on the move the entire day, they did not expend any more calories than we do. 
Via kennettsquaredish.com
Fascinatingly, moving about only accounts for a small amount of the energy we use. Our bodies are in essence a machine, and all the microscopic components, on a cellular level, eats up the most calories. 
Of course, if we push our bodies hard enough, we can increase our energy expenditure, at least in the short term. But our bodies are complex, dynamic machines, shaped over millions of years of evolution in environments where resources were usually limited; our bodies adapt to our daily routines and find ways to keep overall energy expenditure in check.
All of this means that if we want to end obesity, we need to focus on our diet and reduce the number of calories we eat, particularly the sugars our primate brains have evolved to love. We’re getting fat because we eat too much, not because we’re sedentary. Physical activity is very important for maintaining physical and mental health, but we aren’t going to Jazzercise our way out of the obesity epidemic. 
While exercise is vital to health, it has less of a connection to weight than we would like to think, as new research concurs. Thirty minutes on the treadmill (or in my case, two 15 minute walks to and from public transportation), and you are good to go. 

This article reminded me of a story featured a few years ago on 60 Minutes. Two groups of monkeys over fifteen years had been given diets composed of less and more; the monkeys who ate more had a higher percentage of being disease-ridden and dead, compared to the ones who were given limited portions. 

Some individuals are making a point to semi-starve themselves with the expectation of long-life.

The jury has still not yet concluded if that is a wise way to go, but I know personally that when I don't have a hefty supper, I feel fabulous the next day. 

Of course, thin does not automatically equal healthy. But the abundance of food (or stuff that masquerades as "food") that is so very available to us nowadays must be navigated with awareness and discipline. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Your Special Island

South Pacific is not just a musical, it is an epic movie. It tackled a host of deep issues; racism, people rediscovering themselves while far from home, the pain and loss of war. 

The 1958 version was perfection in the casting— Mitzi Gaynor as the still-learning Nellie; Rossano Brazie as Emile, as the exotic older man; Ray Walston as Billis, Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary. 
The 2001 television version could have been good, except for one big casting glitch: Glenn Close. She completely torpedoed it. While she is a great actress, she just isn't young or cute enough to believably belt out "A Wonderful Guy" or "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair." Reba McEntire would have been a much better pick.

The plot follows a few characters and their internal struggles, and all of them gripping. Like Bloody Mary, who used to work as a plantation hand, and has dreams for a better future for her daughter, but doesn't realize what stands in her way. 

The songs are beautiful, haunting, and frighteningly true, like "You've Got to be Carefully Taught."

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear
You've got to be taught
From year to year
It's got to be drummed
in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
To be afraid
Of people whose eyes
are oddly made
And people whose skin
Is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
Before it's too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
To hate all the people
your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

For the female who feels the lack of male attention, here is our love song: "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame." 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So They Said

I am major gullible. Tell me something, I will believe you.

After being made a fool of on more than one occasion, I decided to develop some street smarts. Not easy, when one's inclinations are toward the bookish, but I've tried to perfect my "Yeah, sure" accompanied by an eye roll. 

But when I read Frank Bruni's article on the mind-boggling potential of humankind's ability to devolve into sheep (and mean sheep at that), I began to strut my jaded stuff. Where it matters, it seems, I am willing to ask the necessary questions. 

I guess I have BY to blame for that. 

"Ta, you want to hear what I learned today?"

"OK, let's hear." 

Five minutes pass . . . 

"That's not right. What the meforash actually says . . ."

After ten episodes of that, I automatically mentally dissect any morah-derived tale on the basis of "Does this make sense?"

When did I stop being gullible? I haven't. Yet I am amazed at how many shiurim I attend where the women make "ooh, ah"  noises for the flimsiest of concepts.
. . . the human capacity for credulousness, along with obedience.
As Jews, there is definitely a measure of blind faith. But it does not mean that whatever someone says about our religion is automatically correct. 
People routinely buy into outlandish claims that calm particular anxieties, fill given needs or affirm preferred worldviews . . .
It seems all too often "they said so" is considered valid explanation enough for a major life choice. But free will is considered to be a major cornerstone of our belief; it must mean we should implement it every once in a while. 
People also routinely elect trust over skepticism because it’s easier, more convenient. . . . People nonetheless accepted them because the alternative meant confronting outright mendacity from otherwise respected authorities, trading the calm of certainty for the disquiet of doubt, or potentially hunkering down to the hard work of muddling through the elusive truth of things. Better simply to be told what’s what . . . It’s infinitely more efficient to follow a chosen leader and walk in lock step with a chosen tribe. 
Even in our world, our choices can make us feel, at times, like an outsider. But isn't siding with one's convictions preferable than baa-ing along with the masses?
 . . . once a person has decided to believe you, he or she is more likely to continue to, because to rebel at a late juncture is to admit that you’ve been duped all along. 
Acknowledging having taken the wrong fork shows great strength, not great weakness. But there are many who refuse to admit their misstep. Sticking to that wrong path rarely means meeting up with the ideal road; chances are that it'll be the bog instead. 
Via epod.usra.edu
His article concludes with a quote from the film "Compliance": “It never occurred to you to think twice?”

Our sechel is one of the greatest gifts from God. Why not use it?

Monday, October 22, 2012


There is a hair group out there that does not have it easy. It is known in some circles as "Jewish hair."

There are females out there that think the only way to tame their mane is to slap on excess amounts of gel, leaving their locks looking wet and crunchy.

If one's hair looks soaked on Shabbos day, that is not a good thing. 

In general, one has to work with, not against, what they've got. This hair will never lie flat, unless one pays a fortune to hair professionals for straightening chemicals. In any case, I find a vibrant head of bouncy curls to be quite lovely.

Instead of a stiff gel, try a frizz-fighting mousse, lotion, or serum (John Frieda Frizz-Ease Serum Original formula was recently highlighted in Allure magazine's Readers' Choice Awards: "It's lightweight enough to make wild ringlets behave without turning them droopy"); these will define the curls and reduce frizz without leaving a visible residue. 

If one does use gel, don't use it to plaster down the hair; it will never be flat. Scrunch product moderately through curls to provide definition, allowing height and form. Don't try to restrain it; let the hair bounce, let it be free.

I have actually tried the Dabur Vatika Hair Oil. Smells yummy and does great conditioning. 

I recently come across a leave-in conditioner which I love. My hair, while not curly, is thick, wavy, and prone to frizz. The previous leave-ins that I used was recommended for "all hair types," which would provide more body (which I did not need) rather than conditioning (which I seriously do, even after my weekly coconut oil treatments). 

Alba Botanica Leave In Conditioner rocks because it is meant for dry and damaged hair types. I used it for the first time on erev Shmini Atzeres, and it nourished my hair so well that it wasn't remotely crispy after ironing. 

It can, however, be too moisturizing, and recommends using it sparingly (which I did not realize until after I applied). The bottle design is a tad faulty in that it is easy to squeeze too much out.

A number of the reviewers, who have curly hair, love it as a frizz-fighter and curl definer.    

Friday, October 19, 2012

Holy Water

It was a regular bottle of water. One of those cute sizes by Poland Spring. 

And it was being held out to me, despite the brimming Brita pitcher on the counter.  

"What the—?" 

"Just drink it," she said wearily. 

I eyed it suspiciously. "Why . . . ?"

"It's been . . . blessed."

I recoiled. 

For those who are unfamiliar with my background: We do not do segulos. We appreciate the kabbalah for a gut vort, but not as a way of life. We believe the Big Guy in the Sky needs no middleman.

I certainly do not believe that an incantation said over water makes it anything else other than plain, hydrating, boring H2O. The idea is too synonymous with transubstantiation. And last I checked, water bottles don't set up dates. 

"Just drink it, okay? Then he'll back off." 

"He" is a relative that recently drank the Kool-Aid. 

Ma assumes that pained look that makes it impossible for me to have a flaming scene. In a few speedy movements, I wrench the cap off and take a gulp as though consuming Pepto-Bismol. 

My nose curls. My mouth grimaces. My stomach heaves. 

"You see? My body is trying to reject it." 

I glower as I sprinkle the rest of the bottle over my sauteing lunch (waste not . . . )

I call the well-meaning yet off-base relative a few names in my head. Apparently, it is a lot easier to score me some mystical water than to try to set me up. 

A few weeks later he calls, breathless, to ask if there is "anything doing." No, there isn't. Get a refund. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mud is Good for You

It was a lovely summer day, and my two nieces had begged me to take them to a neighbor's swing-set. Their badly-designed sandals, however, were preventing them from being able to climb nimbly, so I took them off.

The two and a half year old, her big eyes extra-wide in horror, looked dubiously down at her toes, curled against the grass and dirt. 
Via bloomaustin.com
"Zeidy says that mud is good for you," she said carefully. 

"That's right." 

"Mud is good for you. Mud is good for you. Mud is good for you," she mumbled to herself over and over, anchoring her mind against this travesty that feels so wrong. My shoes were long abandoned; I had walked over barefoot. 

My initial relationship with dirt sprang more out of laziness. Constant vacuuming, windexing, and scrubbing is kind of tedious. Even though I have a dust allergy, I don't eviscerate the mites as often as I should. Purell? Please.

Then data came out that anti-bacterial soaps merely stress germs to create superbugs (which also proves the point that hardship results in stronger human beings) which our immune systems have trouble fighting off. The constant disinfection in hospitals doesn't nuke everything; hospital-acquired infections do exist. 

Advertisements try to convince their audience that caring mothers whip out ammonia or bleach-based products to "protect their families." From what? A little backyard dirt? After all, there are so many cases of grass stains leading to croup. 

We underestimate the divine design of the human body; it can be capable of quite a lot. Sometimes we have to be willing to trust its own defenses, providing it with healthy fuel and sufficient sleep to go to war every day.  

Of course, lack of hygiene was responsible for a lot of diseases and deaths once upon a time. Take the Plague, which would resurface periodically over the last few centuries to cause miserable ends, and the people had no idea about hand washing and diminished contact. 

But any extreme can be dangerous. The theory is, as stated in the book, "An Epidemic of Absence," is: 
This hypothesis argues that our modern obsession with eradicating germs has backfired into an explosion of disease, specifically all the “new” diseases that have replaced infections to undermine our health. The modern immune system, the idea holds, is stymied by the sudden absence of its customary microbial targets. With nothing constructive to do, it is crazily spinning its wheels, resulting in soaring rates of food allergies and asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes, even heart disease and cancer — not to mention alopecia, the premature baldness from which Mr. Velasquez-Manoff suffers and which led him to the subject in the first place. (In an opinion article in The New York Times last month, he suggested that an immune disorder might account for many cases of autism.)
Neither the book reviewer nor I agree that disinfection is the cause of all our woes. But germs and dirt are misunderstood nowadays. 
Like when kids shriek that someone has "germs." We are surrounded by germs. We are filled with germs, many of them the good kind that keeps our bodies running. And even the bad ones can keep our immune systems happy.

I know of a highly clean family, where no grime is tolerated, every surface sparkles, scrubbed daily, perhaps even hourly. Two of the children have stomach-related autoimmune conditions. 

I will not tolerate an "ichy" or an "ew" or a "gross." Everything in this world has a job to do, even the "gross." 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Location, Location, Location

Sugar and I, we go way back. It would seem, however, my daily need for its company was not the best thing.  
But being what it is, I of course have had to find ways to consume it moderately. 
  • I opt not to have my sugar first thing in the morning. Then the rest of the day stretches before me, and I crave another hit all too soon. Therefore, I have my sugar later in the day.

  • I eat my sugar as a dessert. Meaning, I can only eat it after tucking away a meal. When I am full, then I won't eat so much of it. I used to come home from work and ravenously fall upon the cake, unable to pack it away. If I have a meal first, then I'll just need a taste or maybe even none at all.

  • I cannot have it every day. I keep it nowadays to Shabbos and Sunday. My sugar hits; a piece of cake (homemade, made with whole wheat pastry flour, skimped oil/apple sauce, and evaporated cane juice) or two, and maybe a piece of snack-size chocolate. The Hershey's Bliss in White Chocolate is sinfully delicious. 
When it comes to weight, it's about accumulated calories. So now I have a fraction of sugar that I would usually consume. That adds up (or subtracts down?)

Monday, October 15, 2012


I never used to bother with cheek color. I didn't really understand its purpose. 

"You look so pale," Ma objected. "Here, just a tap . . ." 

I attempted to fend her off. Until I noticed that a swipe of pink along the cheeks can be quite fetching. It adds life, creating an image of cheerful health. In the wild, it would prove that one can bear healthy offspring. 

Bronzer has its place, but it is not synonymous with blush (I'll get there later).  

My current blush is Illamasqua Powder Blusher in Hussy (why can't they use classy names like "Museum Attendee" or "College Graduate"?) It's matte, as are many Illamasqua  products, and it is a vibrant shade, so I have to use it sparingly. 
Via hudabeauty.com
But that's me: I like COLOR. There are plenty of options available for those who want to go tamer. 
Like these in KarlaSugar.net's color comparison.
For her fairer skin, Ma bought the Illamasqua in Tremble, which is much lighter than Hussy. 
This is Nymph,which is darker than Tremble but lighter than Hussy, via academyofdesignandsocialmedia.blogspot.com
As for my brush? I use one that was on clearance in Marshall's, the EcoTools Blush Brush. It applies color buff-ingly, meaning no stark lines. 
Via BeautifulWithBrains.com
However, there is a big variety in what sort of brush to use, whether full, angled, kabuki, flat-top; whatever brings you joy. 

For how to choose and how to apply: 

Next I'll discuss contouring—that's when we use bronzer!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Bye Bye Three Musketeers

The current tally after Step 1 & Step 2, is the -10 pound victory, due to healthy foods and mealtimes. This happened quite a while back, with a few years in between, after tackling each level and pinning it into submission.

I stumbled onto my next step quite by accident.

My skin wasn't behaving, constantly breaking out, leaving me desperate to try anything. There are debates back and forth as to whether chocolate causes blemishes; while there are plenty who claim it is a myth, many say otherwise.

At that point, following lunch, I would regulalry have a snack size of chocolate. Really not much. A bite-sized square (or two) of Milky Way. 

Two of those. Really.
I quit. 

And I lost 5 pounds.  

No one believed me.

"That's it? Just from stopping to eat a bite of chocolate every day?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry." 

Step 3: Kiss Your Candy Goodbye

Well, not completely. Because I don't have my Zeidy's sweet tooth for nothing. Although he never ate anything with nutritional value.

Since my sugar and I shall remain together forever, I will explain next how I keep the sweet stuff in my life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Shall Kill You With Cuteness

I hope I don't get shot for this. 

I have quite a fleet of kinfauna. And of course, I find them adorable, the cutest beings ever to grace this planet, etc, etc. However, one thing I certainly have noticed is that no one else is interested. 
Sometimes I log onto FB to be hit with photo after photo of someone's oh-so-yummy son, daughter, niece, or nephew. Look at him play! Look at her drool! Isn't he hysterical with that ice cream mustache? Check out my boo-ba's new shoes! Aaaaw. 

All those infants start blurring together, until I cannot tell them apart. Their wardrobes are pretty much the same. Their builds are alike. There's nothing unique or individual about them that can be seen in blurry cell snaps. 

What am I interested in? Adults. I want to see what that one's fiance looks like, if her new glasses are sharp, the cut of the gowns by her wedding. I cannot stand it when someone's profile picture is of their baby. How can I tell if that is the same Yenta Shprintza I met the other day? By trying to figure out if she has her mother's nose? 

It's not because I am a bitter single and I cannot handle the fact you are a mommy. I just find that fact less than scintillating. There's 80.5 million mothers in the USA alone.

So I don't feel that bad about this application. No, I haven't downloaded it, nor do I intend to. But I have been somewhat pushed to the limit. I decided to be considerate enough to remove all visual proof that I am an aunt. For the greater good.

If you put a photo of your itty-bitty one on FB, let it be something amazing, like her walking on the beach with the setting sun behind her. Or, at least, a pose where some effort was made, a snap taken with a quality camera of your child in her dressy best, recently changed out of a soggy diaper. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Rabbi Reisman's in the house! 

Not my house, no. The house of prayer nearby. 

I believe in the NY-area the shiur will be starting at 9 p.m. on the Motzei Shabbos of October 13th, 2012.  Do not quote me, since I am not sure; kindly double check.

Check out this list here for locations.


We were in the hotel lobby in Yerushalayim, waiting for our sherut, and what else to do? People watch. 

A beautiful, I mean strikingly beautiful girl came in, with a blonde braid down her back and a willowy figure. She was dressed staidly, practically nun-like, but that did nothing to diminish her striking features.

Ma: "Isn't she gorgeous?" 

Me: "And such a shape!"  

Both: Sigh. 

Ta: "Who's the man with her?" 

She had entered with a chassidishe man of 50 or so. She then scurried off to the bathroom.  

Ta: "Is that her father?" 

Ma: "I guess? They're waiting for the guy to show." 

All: Peering at the door for the expectant guy, as the chassid is. We all three are unfamiliar with Israeli dating mores (my father was shocked that the couples meet in hotels instead of picking up the girls) so we were making it up as we went along.

Me: "There he is!" 

A dashing looking fellow, whose good looks were unobscured by his gigantic black hat, sashayed in, and the chassid shook his hand hello. 

Ta: "Why would a girl be going out with a clean-shaven boy if her father's a chassid?" 

We pondered the matter. 

Girl emerged, unsmilingly nervous but no less stunning, and the guy was so giddy after laying eyes on her his smile stretched disconcertingly from ear to ear. 

The three of them moved off out of sight, and five minutes later the chassid emerged alone. 

Me: "He's not her father, he's the shadchan!" 

All: "Oooooooh." 

Our sherut arrived. 

For some reason I still think of this couple. Did they marry? Did he say no? Did she say no? Did they marry other people? How many kids do they have? 

It seems I am not alone; an irreligious client took a trip to Israel, and her favorite recreational activity?  

Date watching. 

Bring your binoculars, and learn to read lips!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Alcohol and the Almighty

Can wine bring man to the divine? 

Check out this NY Times article about how winemaking made a fellow religious. 

BY's Roasted Garlic Zucchini Soup

My sister had bought for Ma The Bais Yaakov Cookbook, and recommended she try a specific soup recipe for first days. 

What I love about cooking (as opposed to baking) is that no recipe is carved in stone. One can keep and add what one likes, and discard what one doesn't. And if I am a carrot short, it isn't the end of the world.

In the case of the Roasted Garlic Zucchini Soup (available on the slideshow on the website, page 10), the ingredients to eschew was the chicken soup mix and vegetable soup mix (sodium central!) Granted, the recipe does allow for salt instead, but I didn't add remotely as much as they recommend. 

Out of laziness (and the fact that I have to wear goggles while I chop onions) I didn't use as many onions as they list; instead of 4, I did 1.5. I figured the onion-y flavor in the leeks was sufficient. 

I gotta say, this soup came out something AMAZING. I kept dreaming about it way after it was heartily consumed. The taste . . . the nutrition . . . the yummy garlic . . . 

It was just so easy. Throw it together and see for yourself.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Questionable Myth

When articles bash shidduch questions, they usually snort, "Who cares what sort of tablecloth they use, or what she wears on Friday night, or if she stacks the plates!"

That is all well and true, except are these questions actually being asked?

There have been, of course, mothers of hypothetical sanity who requested off-the-wall information. But I don't think even they ever asked about table etiquette or robe selection or if I had ruach or not in camp (I didn't.)

Does anyone have any first-hand knowledge of such inquiries?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Creaky But Loaded

My folks have more than one acquaintance that have not seemed to have grasped the fact that retirement age is creeping ever closer, yet they make insane financial choices that leave them devoid of savings. That that sort of clueless behavior terrifies me. 

Withdrawing the last few shekels from the bank account to take your granddaughter out to eat does not sound like a healthy plan for being able to eat at all in the future. 

I cannot make any firm statements as to what I will do when I am pushing 65, so watching my elders who should know better mess up certainly gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not that I am in that position right now, but I can understand if young couples in their 20s and 30s are impressionable when it comes to things they think they need. But aren't we supposed to have our priorities figured out when our bodies start to give? 

Ann Bauer writes on being that cash-squeezed young un', observing her fellows basking in deliciously lavish lives while she was reduced to the bargain bin. 
I spent a lot of time in my late 20's and early 30's feeling self-conscious, avoiding talk of travel at parties and failing to reciprocate dinner invitations because I didn't want anyone seeing our monster Cheerios boxes and garage sales dishes . . . there were times when my envy turned into resentment and a striving for something better. We'd attend a dinner where the host wore flowing scarves she'd bought from a street market in Turkey and served succulent lamb on a sparkling buffet. And rather than appreciate the evening out, I'd stew on the way home. What were we doing wrong? I wondered. Sometimes, I would turn to my husband and ask.
But as she grew older the brains kicked in. She saw that there is more than one way to live opulently, that a rich existence also means appreciating the many simple pleasures life has to offer. The restrictions she used to find shameful she now takes pride in. 

As for the Joneses? 
Many of my old friends are doing the same, cutting back on housing expenses or luxuries in order to make this new post-recession economy work. But others are not. They're living as they did before -- fresh-cut flowers and four-star hotels -- because it's the only way they know. They aren't saving, because they can't; every dime that comes in must immediately go out. And they appear to employ a collective magical thinking about the future: No matter how many times they're told what they'll need to survive their 60's, 70's, 80's and possibly 90's, they turn away.
A professor of economics, opining in Sunday's New York Times, called our national approach to retirement "ridiculous," saying most people are not capable of preparing for 30 years of living off their own savings . . . The people I'm seeing have spent their entire adult lives collecting experiences and living for the moment. And for the most part, IT'S ALWAYS WORKED OUT. They've been conditioned to believe that no matter how dire things seem, something will save them.
Not everyone who leads an opulent style can afford it. They want to pretend that they are still in their 30s, able to rebound from any financial setback. But one day we have to wise up, and realize that there may come a time when savings will be desperately needed.

The Sages ask, “Who is wise?” They respond, “One who sees the future.” — Mesechet Tamid 32a

I hope that when it comes to seeing around the bend, I have enough cash squirreled away. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Essie French Affair


Essie French Affair is an opaque pink, despite the fact that it describes itself as lavender. In some lights it has a lavender undertone, but to me it looks more pink than anything else.