Friday, November 29, 2013

Lip Brush Found

Lip brushes are vital for applying lipstick. Unlike eyeshadow, or blush, where the more blended, the better, lipstick is reliant upon definition and shape. 
 http://images.idiva.com/media/content/2011/Feb/lip_brush.jpg
I used to depend on a retractable lip brush which has since, most regrettably, fallen apart. I bought a replacement from Maybelline, but I had no success with it. The bristles were too malleable, unequal to the task of picking up pigment and applying it evenly. 

Silly goose that I am, I figured that there was something wrong with my skills, and simply did without, which left my lips looking . . . eh, okay. 

Trying to make a minimum $25 order to make free shipping on Amazon, I purchased for what-the-heck-ness a Revlon Covered Lip Brush
http://images.revlon.com/~/media/Images/Revlon/Products/Brushes/P_Brushes_Lip_CoveredLip_Premium.ashx
It wasn't my fault! It was Maybelline's fault! 

The Revlon brush is made from stiff, synthetic bristles, which easily picks up pigment and dispenses it. The brush has a cat's tongue tip, making it ideal for precise application. ★★★★★, and a thumb's up.
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Clone Wars

"Well, of course in order to get married one should be in a certain weight range." 

"In order to get married, one should have a certain career." 

"The only way to get married is to dress a certain way." 

Ma snorted. "I'm the last person who could be accused of being a romantic, but the conversation nowadays is ridiculous. Marriage is now a formula." 

True that.

"Men only like girls with straight hair." 

"Women only like men with square jaws." 

Generalizations abound as individuals are carefully placed into boxes, based on their gender, religious affiliation, and hair color. Following these shallow qualifications, we then lead into: 

"The reason you are single is because you are picky," said the person who doesn't know me from a hole in the wall.

When did we become a blank army of clone stormtroopers? 
http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/3/36657/1462945-stormtroopers.jpg
Melanie Notkin wrote of society's need to blame the singleton. She expresses well the theories people invent for her single state, but concludes, "You don't know what I'm thinking." You don't know who I am, or what I'm looking for.

"If someone is sick," my ill relative noted, "then it came from Hashem. If someone is single, then someone has to be blamed."

While we have a "crisis" for everything, we never say we have an "illness crisis," do we? People do get diagnosed regularly, but even if they didn't take care of themselves, or made bad health choices, we don't whip out the censure. We simply offer support.

Let us hold back the sharp retorts, the snap judgments, or smug satisfaction, and see and hear and recognize the individual. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shabbos Lamps: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I need to read before I go to sleep. By "need," I mean I won't be able to doze off unless my eyes have scanned words of some sort. Shabbosim, of course, would make that a tad tricky, and usually I would lie on the floor in front of the bathroom door with a pillow. 

Then these blissfully divine Kosher Lamps were available. Goodness me, my life was changed forever, now that I can finally read in the comfort of my own bed on a Friday night. O joy!
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0152/7913/products/shabbatlamp_grande.jpg?v=1373143658
But then, for the weekday, I found myself in no hurry to put back my regular lamp that has been with me since I was six. 

I had heard that studies show that artificial light decreases the melatonin hormone, which is fundamental for sleep. My usual lamp would fill the whole room with light; with the Shabbos lamp I can adjust it to shine only a crack of light directly on my book. I think it has helped with my sleep. 

I have become so attached that when I went to my brother for Succos, I took along the little fellow. Except Owen already had one ready and waiting.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Battle of the Bulge: The Brown Bag

I don't brown bag literally. But I do bring my own lunch to work.

1) Sodium is the reason for water weight. No take-out or processed foods, and five pounds are out of the equation. For reals. Same food, homemade, is always better. 

2) Quite frankly, kosher ready-made food costs way too much, and if it doesn't, you get what you pay for. Financially, brown bagging will save you a fortune. Never mind medical bills.

3) After someone who works in the food business told me that it is impossible to have a restaurant kitchen without roaches, I'm good. 

It's not like I don't have opportunities; my office is smack-dab in the center of many options. But my own food always tasted reliably better and I could spend my money at Sephora instead. 

The best gadget I bought was the Crock-Pot 20-Ounce Lunch Crock Food Warmer. It comes with a removable canister with its own snug lid. On Sundays I make up a gigantic pot of soup, and simply pour over some into the canister and take it to work, where I pop it into the Crock-Pot Food Warmer. By lunch I have a piping, satisfying meal, and I have found that soup is what keeps me full the longest.
 http://i.walmartimages.com/i/p/00/04/88/94/04/0004889404379_500X500.jpg
One can warm up whatever one likes in there.

This past Shabbos there were guests, and as always in such a case there was a groaning fridge that needed to be emptied following their visit. I chopped up some greenery (lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, snap peas, scallions, etc.) and topped it with sliced sweet chicken and the apricot jam mushroom sauce as dressing.




Here's a simple salad dressing that is the only one really used in my house: vinegar, light olive oil, black pepper, and garlic powder. 


I always feel like I need something refreshingly sweet following a meal, so I scour the stores for in-season fruits. If one looks carefully, now there are some very good Golden Delicious apples (matte exterior, a perfect blend of green-yellow with a blush of red, and very freckled. Those are the best ones).  

Mark Bittman of The Flexitarian is also on a quest to revive the brown bag, metaphorically. Does my audience think I am unaware of the potentially "nerdy" connotations of toting tupperware? Tough. The Frumanista has spoken. 
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4AEABe4Qv4Q/TeYmL7hO4jI/AAAAAAAAA-w/DN3nnUDz5HY/s1600/DSC_0138.JPG
Via ladygouda.com. Très Chic.
I have managed to concoct for Ta a brown bag system that, I believe, has kept his health on track. More on that in another post. But every other man his age that I know is on some sort of medication; baruch Hashem, he is not. Eating out only rarely has to be a health benefit.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vive La Différence

Just to reassure my audience, no, I do not make a point of shadchan-hopping. But when a cousin calls up saying she's sorry, but a "shadchan" wants to meet you, what are you gonna do? 

Her: This guy likes hiking, and camping . . .

Me, faking a pleasedMmm!

Her: Do you like hiking and camping?

Me: No.

Her, initially troubled face, which clears with dawning comprehension: But you'll go hiking and camping anyway! 

Me, pleasantly smiling: No. 

Her: But

Me: No.

Look, I'm not exactly a newbie when it comes to relationships; I've been observing my siblings' marriages since I was a tween. For instance, my brother and sister-in-law love skiing. Except they are not the ones that are married to each other. 

Luke lives to ski, and Owen's wife enjoys it. Luke goes off on ski vacations with buddies with Orgiana's blessing, while Owen potters about the lodge with a baby slung over one arm and a sefer in his other hand as his wife hurdles down the slopes. 

He can hike and camp and all that crap—I mean, jazz. All that jazz. Just I will be at home, or in a mall, with a level ground beneath my feet and air-conditioning humming away. I'm fine with that.

  
I don't put on my information, "Seeking man who enjoys shopping sales. Must be willing to sift for hours through discount merchandise."  The same way I know most men prefer to spend their time otherwise, so to with me. Have a little imagination, man. 

He can go camping. When he comes back, there will be a suit waiting to try on. 

Vive la différence, vive la variété.       

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Uniforms

This video has been going around: 
While it is lovely to have some good media about our world, what still niggled with me is that how the chassidim interviewed did not express anything differently about how they live as opposed to the observant Jew who is not chassidish. Except for the shtreimel. 

We're all the same! The video should have been about observant Jewry in general, not simply chassidim. Because we are one, and when it comes down to it, our beliefs are one too.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Shmeck Even . . . Git-er?

As I mentioned in my first perfume post, I have very sensitive sinuses. I can't spray just anything on, or I could be treated to a day-long headache. 

I had received as a gift Carolina Herrera CH, and to my surprise a few months later the rather large bottle was empty. A winner! 
http://elfashionista.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CH_GardenPartyLtdEdition_Bottle-764213.jpg
I prefer citrus scents; CH boasts "bergamot, lemon, pomelo, melon, jasmine, orange blossom, rose, cinnamon, praline, cashmere accord, cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, suede, amber, musk" notes. A neighbor even grabbed me in shul and pressed her nose into my hair. "Oh, you smell delicious," she enthused. 

To replace it, I ended up with Carolina Herrera CH L'Eau, which pretty much smells the same, I think. In any case, the nose is still happy. 
http://fimgs.net/images/perfume/nd.12001.jpg
I was idly flipping through a fashion magazine with quite a few ads for scent samples, and I yanked each tab open and shoved it into my face. "No . . . no . . . no . . . hell, no . . . mmm!" It was Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, which I had thought was more of a clean scent but actually contained a distinct whiff of citrus. 
http://ilovemylightblue.com/images/dolce-gabbana-light-blue-16-women.jpg
The notes are "sicilian citron, bluebell, granny smith apple, jasmine sambac, bamboo, white rose, cedarwood, amber, musk." At Sephora, I liberally sprayed myself with the tester bottle, and was gleeful that my head remained un-achy. It is definitely next on my list. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walking Toward the Light

I recently acquired a new friend, and one of the things I love about her is that she is always up for a stroll. When we meet up, we just walk, for hours, and chat. 
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/07/15/article-0-14125222000005DC-931_470x716.jpg
The only photo I could find of two women walking in skirts.
While both of us are keeping watch on our waists, there are also all sorts of health benefits to walking, never mind it being practically the lowest-impact form of exercise.

David Hochman's article "Hollywood's New Stars: Pedestrians" describes the L.A. love for automobiles, and how they are gradually learning to leave their cars at home. 

New Yorkers don't understand this, since driving in our clogged city streets is tantamount to suicide. Never mind Manhattan; my idea of hell is to drive into Borough Park on erev yontif

My neighbors find me a bit soft in the head for walking to public transportation in the morning. It's a little over ten minutes, not really enough to justify leasing another car. They slow down when they see me striding along, and beg and plead that I get into the car, weeping to see me move from Point A to Point B on foot. 

Hochman references Nilofer Merchant, who is trying, for our health and productivity's sake, to sell the concept of "the walking meeting." 
It seems my puny stroll twice a day does not cut it. But I don't think my office is going to sanction treadmill desks anytime soon.

Years ago I had a meh date, but because suitable locales for sitting and chatting weren't available, we ended up wandering along dark streets. I have to say, simply walking and talking took a potentially painful evening and made it bearable. 

Now to find a pair of date-appropriate footwear that won't blister my heels.    

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Biblical Living and Loving Man

Quite some time ago, a fellow by the name of A. J. Jacobs decided, for a book, to spend a year living biblically.
http://www.jewishjournal.com/images/thegodblog_images/Jacobs-777819.jpg
He is Jewish, but not religious; as a "stunt journalist," his original intention when undertaking this project was meant to, obviously, poke fun.  

He went above and beyond what any observant Jew would do; he refused to tell any lies, white or otherwise, which is certainly not what a Jew of today would do if he needs to spare another's feelings (Rabbi Hillel as our back). 
Unlike Norah Vincent (who wrote a book about passing as a man) and Eddie Murphy (who made himself over as a white man in a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit), Jacobs does not take the undercover spy route. Instead he lives out the biblical high life in his usual New York surroundings, among all his wanton, gossiping, blaspheming journalist friends. The result is that he ends up sort of like Kramer on “Seinfeld,” a big weirdo who interrupts the normal patter of urban life. Lots of comic relief ensues. He accepts a hug from a homeless woman on the subway, who then accuses him of harassing her. He contemplates taking his cute nanny as his second wife. He grows a beard of ZZ Top-like proportions.
What is irritating is how he seems to equate Jewish observance to his "interesting" uncle, who after trying everything from drugs, cults, Christianity, and Hinduism eventually settled on a chassidish lifestyle in Yerushalayim. 

The book reviewer, Hanna Rosin, points out that Jacobs is missing out on the true observant experience since he is doing this without a community. He is a solo religious practitioner surrounded by scoffers (including himself).

But in the end, the joke was on Jacobs. Somehow, all those odd, incomprehensible practices led to feelings of kindness and consideration for others. 
. . . toward the end, he deepens. A friend e-mails him a YouTube clip of a newscaster who gets smacked in the head by a stage light and falls over. Jacobs can’t bring himself to “lol” as his friends do. He finds it upsetting. He spends 20 minutes trying to track down the newscaster’s e-mail address so he can ask if she’s all right, while at the same time worrying that he’s become some kind of “overly virtuous sap.”  
Interesting. I can never watch America's Funniest Home Videos since they usually involve some sort of bodily harm. While maintaining seemingly unconnected chukim, his empathy widens. 
After a year of praying every day he becomes by no stretch a believer, but someone who at least accepts “such a thing as sacredness.” Sometimes he can even envision a God who might watch over him and care what happens. As a teenager he convinced himself that even when he was alone in his house, the girls he had a crush on could see him, so he listened to David Bowie and brushed his teeth in a “rakishly nonchalant manner” to prove he was worthy of their attention. This is how he experiences God now.
God as Mean Girl. It’s not exactly biblical, but it’s not nothing. 
It's a start. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Battle of the Bulge: False Sense of Security

I would say the most insidious words in the English language are: "But I've been so good . . ." 

They are, in essence, a gateway drug. 

"But I was at the gym the whole morning . . ." 

"But I haven't had cake in two days . . ." 

"But what can one little bite do . . . make that two bites . . ." 

Of course we all need some wiggle room when it comes to an eating plan. But there is a difference between rationalization and awareness. 
http://24.media.tumblr.com/fa4de603149959866bae468f43f593e5/tumblr_mno506vF4M1qj7db3o1_500.jpg
When "grazing" outside the sell-placed criteria, don't tell yourself "It can't hurt." Tell yourself, "Yes, I am eating this calorie-choked seven-layer. I am conscious of the gleeful fat swirling through my system. I will watch myself very carefully for the next few days to compensate." 

There is a trim man in his 60s in my neighborhood. If he overindulges one day, he spends the next only drinking tea. 

Yeah, that's not me. I'll just spend the following week on green soup instead.    

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Debunking Bashert?

Maybe it was because I had just gone through a whole emotional tug of war to choose not to go out with a fellow who really did not compute at all, but I found this article, that has been widely circulated over the last few years, to suddenly grate on my nerves. 

Not all points, mind you. Specifically 1, 2, 3, and 7. Reading it now, after beating myself up that I didn't go out with someone who had three major strikes against him, perhaps I may be in a delicate state of hypersensitivity, but what I derived between the lines was: "If you are single, it is because you have acted stupidly." 

1) No such thing: "Every person has a special someone." Since I was ten-years-old I have said it is impossible that of all the men that walk this earth, I can be happy with only one of them. I never was a romantic.  

Duh, I have known this since for-eva. And yet, in my cheesiness I stand alone. When I go on a date and I pinpoint the differences between my date and myself, I automatically think, "Well, no one is the same. I can't expect to marry my clone." Even then it hasn't yet worked out, either on my end or on his. So genug that singles are being persnickety. 

2) Singles sabotage themselves when it comes to so-called "timing." Again, some of us bend over backward to accommodate "timing." I bump into a guy in the subway and I think "Kismet!" And pfffffft.   
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m9a8kft2Gks/TWK5NtaPhxI/AAAAAAAAADs/u-gVrtJvWAc/s400/whenHarryMetSally3.jpg
3) You dumped the right one. Well, I am the sort of gal who, to ensure proper sleeping patterns, really tries to give fair chances. I don't nix a perfectly good relationship for petty reasons. So, you know what, I'm going with "I haven't met the right one yet." 'Cause I haven't. 
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VxGoIZT4DqQ/Tzoip_La5LI/AAAAAAAADLc/sqjKzRbuPSI/s640/Bad+date.jpg
I even gave him a second chance, but he said no.
7) Singles avoid internet dating because they erroneously believe it to be "pathetic" and "desperate." In my case, I prefer not to for neither those adjectives. Personally, for me, having anonymous strangers sift through my data feels an awful lot like finding the plumber rifling through my sock drawer. It's bad enough emailing my info to a faceless individual someone else told me about; but to select a stranger from a list of other strangers to "sell" me when she doesn't know me from a hole in the wall, or having "eligible" men click on my face at whimsy makes me feel, considering my prudish sensibilities, a tad, well, icky. 

I don't think that people who date online are "pathetic and desperate." I just choose not to myself.

In the end, people cannot make statements if they haven't been there; I know it all too well. I used to be the smuggest 20-year-old when it came "older" singles. Then I became an "older" single. Now I shut up. 

For the most part. 
 
It's bad enough I triple-guess myself in the dead of night when I had perfectly valid, iron-clad, bankable reasons to choose not to proceed with a certain fellow. I don't mean because his nose was off center.   

Give us "elderly" bachelors/bachelorettes a little credit.       

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Why do those who smoke, who have been harassed by terrifying ads of cancerous lungs and weeping parentless children, still smoke? 

My grandfather smoked. When the Surgeon General's warning came out in 1964, Ta showed it to him and begged him to stop. He did. Yet it has been nearly fifty years, and there are still smokers amongst us. 
 http://www.smokersinfo.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/tobacco_smoking.jpg
The price for a carton of cigarettes have skyrocketed over the decades, bans on public-puffing have banished smokers to chilly outdoor hidey-holes, and ciggies are still toxic, maybe even more so. Yet if one quits early enough, the chances of contracting a smoking-related illness are slashed considerably. 

So why do smokers still smoke? What primal, childhood-trauma, mental hand-wringing cause is there for those who fly in the face of fatal facts?

According to an article by Eyal Ert and Eldad Yechiam, it's very simple. Smokers have poor self-control. 

Er, that's it?

One theory before a recent study was that smokers are daring risk-takers, and that's why they smoke. But no. Smokers do tend to take risks, but why do they take risks? 

Because they just can't wait. 
So what accounts for smokers’ risky-looking behavior? Our contention is that smokers exhibit poor self-control in the face of immediate temptation — which can look like a willingness to assume risk.  
Smokers tending to indulge in risk has nothing do with being defiantly risky. They just can't hold out. Sure, I could develop a really painful and deadly disease one day, but man, this cigarette is so good right now

Yes, it's not just about smoking, there is nicotine addiction. But the authors of the article say that even so, smokers are very much capable of quitting. 

I have never smoked, that is true. But I adore eating. Always did. Plus I really love my sugar, like any red-blooded human being. Someone asked me recently what I do to maintain my weight, and she had the temerity to accuse me of "not liking food." I was quite offended. 

It's a cop-out to think that if someone isn't overweight it must be that they don't like food. Heck, I'd marry my pantry if I could. But I have other concerns beyond indulgence; my health, my clothing, my grandmother's wrath. Mostly my health. 
http://humanpurpose.org/humanpurposeorg/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/smoking.jpg
I weaned myself off daily sugar (you'd be surprised what a "hit" orange juice provides), trans-fat baked goods, and large, entertaining portions, all the while reminding myself of the long view, of what the distant payoff will be. 

Today, not only do I feel great, I actually no longer crave a Stella D'oro Swiss Fudge Cookie anymore (once I would have sold my soul for one); I've trained my body to seek out roasted parsnips instead. 

But I am still all too fallible. Too many times I mentally threw caution to the winds and fell upon a greasy delectable offering, or went for fourths, not caring what thirty minutes to the future will bring. I have always, always regretted it. 

Does everything in life come down to discipline?   

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Repurchased!

When it comes to cosmetics, I am always on the search for something newer, better, brighter. But often I am stung, and I back away to simply buy again that wonderful item that just stays wonderful.

  Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 in Finland. While this is too rich for my combination skin in summer, it makes the best daytime protective eye cream. Every SPF I've tried burned my eyes, but this doesn't. I dab this around the entire eye area, and it also serves as a pretty good lid primer and holds onto shadow all day. For the winter months (like now) my skin needs more moisture; it protects, provides light coverage, and doesn't clog pores.  
http://www.amodelrecommends.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/IMG_4827.jpg
 bareMinerals Broad Spectrum Multi-Tasking Face in Well Rested. This concealer changed my life. I have monster dark circles (thanks to genetics) and this is the easiest and most fool-proof way of neutralizing them. I apply this on top of the Nars TM using a fluffy eye shadow brush; I buff this powder concealer onto my dark circles. That's it. No creasing throughout the day, and it stays put until I wash it off. Complete with SPF, what more could a girl want? 
http://i48.tinypic.com/n2ls8p.jpg
 Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. It separates, it volumizes, it nourishes, provides a rich, chic black, and even stays pretty well over Shabbos with lash primer. I have bought this over, and over, and over. 
http://www3.images.coolspotters.com/photos/688075/tarte-gifted-amazonian-clay-smart-mascara-profile.jpg
 Maybelline Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick in Perpetual Peony. This lipstick shade is matte, and absolute perfection on top of a darker longwearing lipstick to provide the best Shabbos lips. I have gotten so many compliments for it. I am so hooked on it that I a receive a new one automatically every six months from Amazon's Subscribe and Save.

 Tarte EmphasEYES for Brows High Definition Brow Pencil in Taupe. This color is always sold out online, so I just buy one whenever I see it in store. It effortlessly provides a smart shape to my brows, making them look ridiculously sharp. Other eyebrow pencils tend to be too brown; the Taupe disappears into my brow hair, defining but not darkening. 

  Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum. As lash primers go, da bomb. The brush is of a comb-like structure, so it separates as it applies those scrumptious plumping fibers. Before yontif I layer on two coats before the eight coats of mascara, and whoa!
http://img.allw.mn/content/makeup/2012/05/1_diorshow-maximizer-lash-plumping-serum.jpg     

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honeymoon At Home

Romantic comedies have this premise from time to time; an older couple, embittered by day-to-day tediousness, have "lost their way," and one of the two (usually the wife) plans an amazing getaway where their love is rekindled, presumably forever. 

In Carrie Seim's article, "The Hail-Mary-Moon," real-life data does not bear conclusive success. While it works for some, it does not work for others. The uptick of such excursions reflect the current financial climate, where divorce can be obviously more expensive than pricey attempts to reaffirm a relationship. 
 http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/08/01/fashion/01LASTCHANCE_SPAN/01LASTCHANCE_SPAN-articleLarge.jpg
While they have supposedly assisted others, it can also be a means to effectively destroy the bond completely. 
Hail-Mary-moons can have downsides, of course. David M. Frost, a psychologist and assistant professor at Columbia University who studies long-term romantic relationships, warns that these trips are often quixotic and can easily backfire. “It’s highly unlikely that a vacation can be a magic cure-all — it might only be a temporary Band-Aid,” he said. Even worse, he added, the forced closeness might cause relationships to suffocate and implode.  
Today's generation seems to believe that throwing money at a problem fixes everything. Don't get me wrong; I like money as much as the next person. Maybe even more, because I know how to spend it (I kid. Sort of). But I am firm in my belief that it does not provide lasting happiness. 

My great-grandmother never left her hometown, in all probability. Maybe she made an excursion or two to a nearby city. She did not have Caribbean beaches or Northern Lights as an inspiration. 

What did she have? Discipline. 

In so many aspects of life, I have found the connecting thread is discipline. People make the mistake of giving in to personal whims in order to achieve happiness; but it is only through discipline that true happiness can be attained. 

Even though I am a terrible traveler, whenever I have dragged myself on such trips I am usually breathless with appreciation. I am grateful for the opportunity to climb atop "the wings of eagles" and experience that was impossible not so long ago. There is most definitely magic in distant vistas. 

But such sorcery is not permanent. Because it is impossible that money and distance from real life can be a lasting solution. 

Take the "The Honeymooners"; despite the inference of the title, the comedic couple rarely left the confines of their very small home. But "baby" was "still the greatest." 
http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/CLASS/130-110.jpg  

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm Going Mad

I had just stood up for Shmoneh Esrei on a Shabbos morning. I am not proud, but my gaze had wandered lazily across the room. 

A squirrel's head popped into view, then disappeared.  

I kid you not. 
http://cbsstlouis.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/rally-squirrel1.jpg
Via stlouis.cbslocal.com
I spent the entire davening shooing away new arrivals from the questionable territory. 

"Hi, um, there's a squirrel." 

"Okay."  

"I mean in the shul." 

"Aaaaaaah!"  

What exactly did they think I meant by "There's a squirrel"? That there is such a thing as a squirrel?

One woman didn't believe me. "Where?" she scoffed. She marched down the row, whacking the chairs with her booted foot until the squirrel chittered, at which point she fled. 

I'm a trifle annoyed she wouldn't take my word for it. I think that after all these years of davening in this shul, I have proved not to be an attention-seeker or an alarmist. 

My davening was worth absolutely nothing. My father leined, and I couldn't even enjoy it, mentally biting my nails. I simultaneously feared the potential diseases the rodent could spread, whilst pitying him for his diet of Laffy Taffies (as the scattered, torn wrappings proved).  

Needless to say, I shall be abstaining from my current place of worship for the next few weeks until I will no longer associate the area with rodents.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bad Day?

"Maybe he was just having a bad day," they said.

"And when do I ever get to have a bad day?" I reply.

"Suck it up" is such an integral part of my upbringing that I cannot understand it when someone goes on a date and uses a poor innocent as a punching bag.

There are some people out there who react exactly according to their current feeling, then when the emotion has passed, giggle and say "Oops, sorry." In my view "sorry" isn't valid as a constant cop-out. 

It's like batul b'shishim. If you didn't realize that you used a milchig spoon in beef stock, no worries, it's less than 1/60th of what's being cooked. But one cannot willfully use a milchig spoon in beef stock. It's only if one made an unaware error, that which doesn't happen too often.

We are, of course, human, and prone to mortal frailties. We all stumble. But from time to time, with a little awareness, we can leap over those barriers.

And when you are on a date, buddy, I want to see that "Shabbos Face." No, not my painted Shabbos Face. The other equivalent for "Shabbos Face" is the "Sucking It Up Face." That one has to pull it together. 
http://assets.diylol.com/hfs/bdb/1df/58d/resized/diagnostic-house-meme-generator-i-m-going-to-write-you-a-prescription-it-s-called-suck-it-up-df02a0.jpg
After all, dates are, for the most part, considered to be a relatively pleasant outing, in comparison to other aggravations that grace this planet

If he can't Suck It Up for a date, will he be able to Suck It Up when the baby keeps him up all night? When his boss lays into him? When dinner isn't ready?

How many of us have the luxury of indulging in a "bad day"? 

Ergo . . .  
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Lies Beneath

Ma rarely takes anything at face value. Whenever someone—including her children—say something, she automatically dives into the murky depths below. 
I want to be aware of why I say and do the things I say and do. But I don't want the why to be an excuse. I want to deal with the why.

A true writer must construct a character, complete with teeming emotions, quirky rationale, and favorite defense mechanism. As Amy Shearn expressed in "A Writer's Mommy Guilt," the absorbing process of an author can make the artist less available to the real world as she attempts to create a fictional universe.

Which could result in the Jewish pastime of guilt. 

While Shearn initially confessed to her feelings of maternal inadequacy, she realized a mommy-edge that her novel has provided: 
Then one day, my 4-year-old was having one of her regularly scheduled Scarlett O’Hara-ish nervous breakdowns. I found myself watching her from a writerly distance, dissecting her motives the way I would a fictional character’s. What hidden desires and fears fueled this particular tantrum? She wanted to wear woolen tights even though it was 92 degrees out, sure, but what else?
The tights had to be symbolic. In a story, anyway, they would be. Of course they were. Everything with a 4-year-old is symbolic. Really, she didn’t want to go to school. And really, really, she’d gotten wind that I was going to do something fun with her little brother while she was at school. This quick character study dissolved my urge to yell; suddenly instead of irritation I felt sympathy, and we were able to defuse the fit and move on in a matter of seconds.
Cool, huh? 

I have tried that with my own kinfauna—remaining neutral, breaking down the behavior displayed, and then cutting the crap. 

I once observed a father wrestle to get his daughter dressed; impatient, the five-year-old casually flung, "I hate you." The dad fell for it hook, line, and sinker. He froze, her shoe dropping from his nerveless hand. "But I looooooove you!" he wailed. Amateur. It's not about love and hate. She just wants you to pay for daring to put on an itchy sweater. Plus she pushes off the inevitable for a few more minutes.

It's the same thing when adults are swamped by illogical passion, whether it be anger or sadness or joy. They say all sorts of stupid stuff then that they regret. 

Years ago I was watching an interview of a long-married celebrity couple, so of course they were asked their "secret." One of them said, "We're both allowed to be crazy, just not at the same time." 

Don't take the crazy seriously. The crux is what causes the crazy.    

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reformed Yogurt

I have some news for you, and I don't think you aren't going to like it. 

Deep sigh. 

Yogurt isn't necessarily good for you. 

Really! 

When looking at nutritional labels, there is the amount of sugar in grams, but unlike the listed salt content there is no daily value provided. Meaning, it is easy not to take sugar amounts into consideration. 

Even those Greek yogurts, like Chobani, which claim to be oh-so-healthy, has in their flavored offerings 29 grams of sugar per container. Comparably, there 30 grams in an 8 oz can of Coke. 
http://www.eatlifewhole.com/eatlifewhole/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/sugarcomparison_yogurt-540x360.jpg
Never fear! There is an alternative! 

The secret is to buy Plain yogurt—wait, wait, hear me out!—then add sugar on one's own. 

One of the reasons why processed and take-out food is so bad is because sugar, fat, and salt are added indiscriminately, in amounts one would never use when cooking in the comfort of one's home (unless one is Paula Deen). 

So what I do is buy the big tub of Chobani 2% Plain Yogurt—which has only 9 grams of sugar per serving—(it is better to have a little fat than none because in order to compensate for the creaminess of fat, "something" has to be added, and that "something" is never diet-friendly) mix it with some maple syrup (agave is also a good option), and dollop it atop fresh fruit.


S-weeeet! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When Americans and Israelis Collide

I have an anxious, over-active mind. Some people would call it paranoid. Besides for thinking I'm being stalked when I hear the crunch of a leaf behind me, I rarely take any statement at face value. Maybe because any time my siblings gave me a compliment they followed it up with a babysitting request. 

Dating is a nightmare. Nothing is what it seems. "I had a nice time" can be followed by a "no." Bad behavior can be followed by a "yes." Wait, was he being serious when he said that? Oh, please let that be a joke. 

I'm guilty too. After all, one is "supposed" to be amenable. 

"No, I'm not hungry. Tea is fine." It's 6 o'clock. Of course I'm ravenous. 

"I can walk a bit, no problem." Although my shoes are trying to cripple me. 

"I'm not tired." I'm weeping inside for my blankie. 

Israelis, as we all know, don't futz around the bush, even in courtship. When these two cultures meet, as Orli Santo describes in "Extreme Inter-Dating," things can get a little hairy.
http://us4palin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Israel-Flag-American-Flag-II.jpg
In some cited situations, like Batya, the divide was too great. For others, it is refreshing change. 

Any Israeli-American couples out there? Concur? Disagree?  

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Face is My Own

She beckoned me close, and I proffered my cheek for what I believed to be a sentimental air-kiss. Instead, that crooked finger turned into an accusatory jab. 

"Your eye shadow is too much," she said. 
http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/y59M79XgyJY/hqdefault.jpg
Via youtube.com
I blinked. 

"People have commented on it," she continued, sotto voce

At this point I lapsed into my "good girl" act, merely smiling and emitting unantagonizing "Mmm!"s.

"I'm serious," she harangued. "You look so much better with less." 

"Mmm!" I hummed.

It is quite interesting that it did not occur to me to point out that the wobbly line drawn atop her lashes distorted the naturally lovely shape of her eyes—liquid eyeliner is difficult to get right, and unlike other styles it cannot be flubbed or fudged. It must always be perfect. But it would never occur to me that I should voice my observations out loud

"How dare she?" Ma hissed, having been standing behind me. "My child, living under my roof—does she think that I have no say in your appearance?" 

Ma blesses my Face as it is—she has only drawn the line, currently, at red lipcolor. Most of what I know about the Face from her, and being a good girl, I defer to her fashionable judgement in most things. Often there is a smug comfort in obeying thy parents. 

There was a plethora of three-day yontifs this year, and I decided to apply my lipstick in a manner that would survive for two days, not into the third, since by day three my lips would be painfully dry and flaking. Ergo, I pranced to shul with my eye makeup still going strong, but my lips were quite bare. 

"You look so much better without lipstick!" a woman enthused. 

"Mmm!" I thrummed, bored. 

"Really," she said, scooting into a closer chair, "People have commented," her voice dropped conspiratorially. "You could buy a clear lip gloss instead!" she suggested excitedly, warming to her theme. "You know, the ones that come in a roll-on?" 

I repressed the urge to laugh. (1) She was going to tell me something about makeup that I don't already know? If I wanted to wear lip gloss, lady, I would. I am well aware they are available for sale. (2) Her husband has been hounding me why I stopped wearing brighter lip colors on Shabbos. I smiled cheerfully at him instead. He appreciates me.

She turned to Ma, reproach in her eyes. Ma faux-sighed and faux-apologized, "She likes lipstick." 

My current Shabbos option is the tamest of shades, Maybelline Superstay 14-Hour Lipstick in Perpetual Peony. It is, like, the lightest color available. I have gotten a myriad compliments for its suitability, outweighing the few criticisms. "People" have asked how I achieve the look. 

Perhaps some are disconcerted when I dabble in vibrant palettes; but who am I offending now with the most innocuous of hues? 
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ApxwNtzo4Is/T0aK4YpgV0I/AAAAAAAAA7w/shyFCewRwjI/s400/peony.jpg
Via bohovanity.com
Out for a much-needed walk later that day, another stopped me. "You look so much better with natural lips!" she began. "People have commented," she murmured. 

"Mmm!" I was starting to get annoyed. 

(1) I find it highly unlikely that these supposed "people" don't have anything better to talk about besides my makeup. (2) I feel no need to comport with others as to any of their actual fashion and makeup flubs.

Oh Zeidy, you said it right. Deh mole mis gein. The mouth has to move.