Thursday, April 30, 2015

The "Sensitive" Get Their Day

In my years of observation, it became quite clear that all children are not created alike. Some simply bounce, physically and emotionally, off of hardship; others possess such fine skin that the merest tap, physically and emotionally, leaves a bruise. 
http://a.dilcdn.com/bl/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2012/03/2d291acbb9a9603db71f571038019f47.jpg
Via babble.com
Scientists have pinpointed that tendency to genes ("The Downside of Resilience" by Jay Belsky). The latter group of children, while naturally predisposed to getting crushed, can be saved through support and nurturing; all is well! However, the former group keeps on keepin' on with or without any outside help. No matter what care is provided, the end result will be the same. 

When my neighbor's son went off the derech, Ma asked the family guru how it happens. He replied that some children are very sensitive; in this case, perhaps he could not tolerate perceived hypocrisy in his upbringing.

Belsky's long-view hope, in light of this study, is to channel funds to target the most vulnerable and in need of help, while providing less expensive measures to the ones who will be fine in any case. 

In our world, such genetic sequencing anytime soon is not likely to happen. Perhaps, we can realize that there are those who can't simply "laugh it off." The more resilient can often be quite blasé about the sensitive's thin skin; they cannot be tougher, any more than the tough will suddenly become susceptible. 

There are children who crave structure and consistency, and suffer for lack of it; there are others who are mellow any which way. Being able to differentiate between the two types is the challenge, I suppose, of l'chanoch yeled k'darko.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Underlying Causes

Jane the Virgin, "Chapter 16"

Jane, our heroine, an aspiring romance writer, is currently blocked. She believes this caused by her worrying about her boyfriend, Rafael, who has been distant as of late. In an attempt to unblock, she attends a writer's workshop under the auspices of one of her favorite authoresses. However, she failed to read the back of the flyer, which stipulates that when feedback is asked for, it should be in the form of "compliment cards," not critiques. 
http://img1.nymag.com/imgs/daily/vulture/2015/03/17/17-jane-the-virgin.w529.h352.2x.jpg
She (like me) is a product of college writing courses, and scribbled down her feelings for Wendy's work accordingly. She realizes her mistake only as Wendy haltingly informs the group that her nervousness held her back from sharing her work for over a year. 

Amanda: Before we dive into our gentle discussion, why don't we shore you up with some more compliments?

Jane is shvitzing, and makes a grab at the pile of cards, desperate to get her own back. But (as is to be expected on television), hers is extracted and read aloud by Wendy. 

Wendy: "Good dialogue, but I wasn't rooting for for the couple. It's clear there's no real love there. They seem like they would be better off without each other." 

Wendy bursts into tears. 

Jane is desperately explaining her college training as Amanda shoos her out from the group. 
http://images.cwtv.com/images/c/photo-gallery/jane-the-virgin/01938890497_14de_1280.jpg
Amanda: Perhaps you'd be more comfortable in that kind of a cutthroat environment. We are builder-uppers, not tearer-downers.

Jane manages to salvage her place in the group by complimenting Amanda's books, then spends her evening writing up positive feedback for Wendy's work. She offers it to her the next day, but Wendy says that it's not necessary, because she wasn't crying about what Jane said about her writing; she wept because of what Jane said about her marriage. The couple in her story was Wendy and her husband, and Jane had said there is no real love, they would be better of without each other. And maybe they are.

The group, being of the romantic kind, vote for "grand gesture" to bring the love back (she succeeds). But anyway:

Amanda asks Jane if she would share her work next time, and Jane sheepishly admits her writer's block.

Amanda: The problem isn't always where you think it is. It's often further back.

Jane and Rafael are scheduled to meet for lunch, and he shows up late, claiming he sent a text which Jane didn't receive, then says that he can't stay, that he has a work issue. 

Jane: Aw, come on, that's not all it is. You've been . . . distracted and distant.

Rafael: I'm busy, Jane. This is life. It's not all flowers and fantasy. 

Jane: I know that. 

Rafael: Do you? 

Jane: That's not fair.

Rafael: I don't know what you want from me. 

Jane: I want for you to be present

Rafael: I asked you to marry me. How much more present could I have been? 

I should interject here that after they had been dating for about two minutes, Rafael proposed grandly and romantically, with Jane saying not a definite no, but a not right now, that it was too soon. Ever since then he had been nursing his hurt and anger at rejection by pulling away. Jane knew the problem went further back.

Jane: I understand that you're hurt and you're mad—

Rafael: I'm allowed to be! 

Jane: And so am I! Because you asked too early. Things were great! We were moving forward! Then you got this idea into your head to propose! This is not my fault. You were impulsive. If you has stopped to ask someone, anyone who knows me, you wouldn't have asked. And I wouldn't have had to say no, and we wouldn't be here. So stop, please, stop putting this all on me.

Rafael, chastened, remains silent as Jane gets up to leave. 

Narrator: And in that moment, Jane felt unblocked, as it were.

She trots off to fetch her laptop. 

Rafael then encounters his business partner/ex-wife (it's a telenovela, after all) and he asks her if he proposed too soon with her, after five months. She admits it was quite quick, but she understood his need for a family. 

Rafael seeks out the frantically typing Jane, and says that going back, his proposals have been rooted in that. 
http://media.cwtv.com/cwtv/digital-smiths/thumbs/2014/10/24/JaneTheVirgin-103-ChapterThree-CW-Stereo_b7be1371a_CWtv_720x400.jpg
Rafael: I did propose too soon. And it's like what you said, about going back? For me, it was all about family, and how badly I wanted a family. And so I tried to rush it, and I tried to lock it down so you wouldn't leave. 

Jane: I'm not gonna leave. That's the point. I'm here. We don't have to rush. 

The reasons why this episode resonated with me: 

1) Writing is art. If anyone has ever been to MOMA (voluntarily) there is no "right" way to do art. I believe the same way with writing. I can have my opinion, I can not like certain authors the same way I don't get certain "artwork," but there is no right or wrong. Ergo, why do colleges insist on critique? What would that achieve? Just because some arbitrary person doesn't like what I write means I have to overhaul everything I am? "Gentle discussion," all the way! 

2) Writers should write what they know. That's what makes stories compelling, in my view. Sure, Harry Potter is an insanely absorbing fantasy series, but it's more about the relationships that us Muggles also experience. And by doing so that we can mend any rifts in our own lives, by distancing ourselves and viewing it from another perspective.   

3) Often, in my interactions with people, I try not to focus only on the surface. If someone is upset about something, I try to think beyond my own feelings at this moment. Not "How could she say that to me? Is it really true?" but rather "What's going on in her own life that she would behave like this?" Jane thought she was losing her connection to Rafael, when pinkt fakert, he was trying too hard to seal their bond. 

4) Romance sucks. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't Keep It All In

We had a grand time, us two. When we first met, as single "older" gals, our conversations were loud, laughing, and enjoyable. The subject matter was pretty basic: Crummy dates and nasty shadchanim. It was the rich, succulent meat we bonded over, bellowing and shrieking and guffawing. It was great.
https://info.kaiserpermanente.org/info_assets/oncology_mid/images/mainimage03.jpg
"Companions in Misery" by Mariana Alessandri made me realize why. She begins that based on a study ranking satisfaction, it was concluded that New Yorkers are quite unhappy. She argues that "satisfaction" and "happiness" are two separate entities, and furthermore, negativity can have a bright side. 
In his 1861 essay “Utilitarianism,” John Stuart Mill carefully distinguished between the two, saying that a person can be satisfied by giving the body what it craves, but that human happiness also involves motivating the intellect. This means that happiness and satisfaction will sometimes conflict, and that those of us who seek happiness, and even attain it, may still be dissatisfied.
Perhaps that is why I am in the throes of emotional crisis. I do want to marry, but I don't consider myself unhappy. Do I have to be unhappy in order to pursue something I really want, such as a family of my own?  

Alessandri writes that as a born and bred New Yorker, complaining is a cultural constant that has nothing to do with happiness. She was disconcerted during her years OOT when whining was whacked into Pollyanna cheer. 
In a less insufferable way, the ancient Stoics also proposed that we stop complaining, that we minimize negative emotions like sadness and anger in order to maximize joy, tranquillity and peace of mind. The former set will lead to a miserable life while the latter will lead to a good life “in accordance with nature.” They believed that misery is rooted in trying to control things that are out of our hands (wealth, honors and reputation) instead of working on those things that we do have control over (desires, aversions and opinions).
I'm apparently a Stoic. What does complaining get me? And yet, why were my sessions with my fellow single associate so enjoyable? All we did was kvetch. "Could you believe it that's what he actually says on a date? Like, what planet is he from?" "I know! Would you believe what this one said? I was, like, 'Waiter!'"
But what if my worrying and complaining aren’t an attempt to change the laws of nature? Can it be that my negativity is still useful, that it can get me somewhere?
Alessandri continues that complaining isn't about wanting to change unchangeable circumstances. 
The 20th-century Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno didn’t recommend banishing the negative emotions or “keeping on the sunny side of life.”
http://www.sigueme.es/docs/autores/foto-452-a-1325752765.jpg
Unamuno believed that a life worth living consists in communing with others, and that this happens most genuinely through negativity. In “My Religion,” Unamuno wrote: “Whenever I have felt a pain I have shouted and I have done it publicly” in order to “start the grieving chords of others’ hearts playing.” For Unamuno, authentic love is found in suffering with others, and negativity is necessary for compassion and understanding. If we try to deny, hide or eradicate the negative from our lives, we will be ill-equipped to deal with people who are suffering.
Where did I hear this before? Ah, yes, mitleid-freude

Alessandri's husband tells their crying toddler in the back seat that crying won't get them there any sooner, but she says:
My son is not crying in the car to get home faster; he is crying because he is trapped. When I get trapped in crummy situations I too cry, whine, complain. I get it out. I vent. I do these things because they are useful, but not the kind of useful that people usually have in mind. Usefulness doesn’t exclusively mean undoing what we don’t like about our situation; it can also mean dealing with our situation creatively. I use negativity both to change myself — to release disappointment, anger and frustration — and more important, to connect with others.
That's how New Yorkers bond, she continues, by kvetching.
Two strangers complaining on a subway platform can end up cracking a smile or laughing, and though it would hardly be considered the beginning of a lifelong friendship, it is still neighborly. Just because the topic of conversation is negative rather than positive doesn’t mean we are unhappy, and oftentimes the opposite is the case. A funny complaint from the person next to me can quickly lighten my mood, and hers. But the possibility of someone’s being a happy complainer gets lost when we equate dissatisfaction with unhappiness. . . 
http://ep01.epimg.net/diario/imagenes/2006/04/15/babelia/1145056635_850215_0000000000_sumario_normal.jpg
From the outside, the image of dissatisfied and complaining New Yorkers might seem to exemplify Schopenhauer’s portrait of humans as prisoners “paying the penalty of existence” . . . But Schopenhauer’s portrait of us as broken beings sentenced to life together leads him to ethics instead of individualism. Instead of twisting free from our fellow inmates, Schopenhauer suggests that we stay put and serve our sentence collectively. . . That we are all condemned to the same Sisyphean fate ought to make us compassionate instead of competitive, work together instead of in isolation, and rely on one another instead of just ourselves.
We spent hours together complaining, she and I. Instead of my having to downplay the frustration and exhaustion of dating, like I have to do with everyone else, we were able to give shrill voice to the annoyances, commiserate, and comfort each other. Then we were both quite happy. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Morning Cuppa

I had been hearing about lemon water for some years now, and after a FB cousin posted this article, I was game.

My immune system hasn't been operating so well. Miss a couple of nights' sleep, and I get a cold. Contracting a lingering fever in winter is now so common, everyone thinks I am a hypochondriac (I can't walk. I'm not overreacting). Once I'm over a fever, then another bout of the cold. 

Last winter I took up with raw garlic, and it kept me hale and hearty, even when I was surrounded by disease carriers. But it's a complicated enterprise, especially with the eyes streaming and the breath stinking. I managed to work around those two issues until this most recent winter, when I started getting sick, even with garlic cloves in me. 

I was now open to lemon water. I wondered, for a time, if I was just a gullible weenie, but thankfully the news has backed its potency, albeit in terms of digestion and skin health. I'll take that. 

I don't add in the raw honey; it's a pain to get it out of the glass. I occasionally lick it off a spoon.   

Daily, I squeeze out the juice from a half a lemon, then warm up the room temperature water with some boiling water, and sip it through a straw to spare my teeth. I love the taste of lemon in general, so it's refreshing as well as collagen- and immune-building . . . I hope.  

Time will tell. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Until 100, At Least

Dan Buettner researches longevity. He has discovered certain "Blue Zones," in which the populace enjoy 100-plus years of life. He recently came up with a follow-up, Blue Zones Solutions, to his earlier Blue Zones
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00309/108849517__309991c.jpg
One could think, "Sure, but Sardinia, Icaria, Okinawa? Isolated places, maybe it's something in the water." But there is a Blue Zone in the U.S., in California, an enclave of Seventh Day Adventists.
 
By emulating these Zonies, we can prevent illness, as opposed to treating them (and destroying the body in the process while going broke) after they come into being. 

There are a number of factors that Buettner has pinpointed amongst these Zonies, and as Jews, we meet most of them. Religion, red wine, prioritizing family, lock down a life purpose. 

But we suck in one area: Food. Seventh Day Adventists, following Beraishis, consume a plant-based diet. Humanity was only allowed to eat red meat following the Mabul; it didn't become mandatory. How many of us restrict our red meat consumption only to Shabbos and yontif? (The other regions probably have very little access to red meat in general, and ergo can't binge on it.) 

https://stuffjewishyoungadultslike.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/brisket.jpg
And on Shabbos, only ONE piece should be enough.
We eat TOO MUCH and BADLY. That, I think, is one of our major struggles in how to adapt to too much blessing as opposed to the previous too much suffering.

Each Blue Zone has different superfoods to their region; the U.S. version is salmon and oatmeal (I'll be selling oat bran in another post). Change is frightening, and hard, but if done slowly and gradually, you too could subsist on vegetables . . .  the way I do, wink wink.
http://www.thewannabechef.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/May-13th-009.jpg
Via thewannabechef.net

Buettner's plan is to subtly alter our environment to casually encourage healthier behaviors; non-exercise exercise and better choices in restaurants. A mayor of a meat-crazed town in Texas is attempting to apply those measures. A doctor in Finland rescued a region from themselves, but they didn't even notice the methods he used to do so. 

There is in our world a steady, yet slow rise in awareness that we have to alter our diet. It is a commandment to take care of these bodies we were given, and it is a violation to harm them in any way. But as we see from ineffectual takkanos, it cannot come from a distant authority, unless he has a magical way of enforcing it. 

On FYI's Arranged, the Roma parents that are marrying off their 18-year-old son cheerfully say that the age of 70 is considered ancient in their world, because their food is so unhealthy. Yikes.

Start with small, incremental movements. Pick one, stick to it for a while, then try another: Drink only water, as opposed to investing in soda and juices. Have red meat only on Shabbos. Cook a hearty and tasty bean soup once a week. If dining out is a regular habit, be smarter with the menu, or cut back a few times a month. Experiment with spices and herbs, abandoning salt and soup mixes as primary seasonings.
http://media3.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2015_15/480631/sardinia-minestrone-soup-today-150406-01_3a6731f0cf7c36c22dea3e15a41d4cbb.today-inline-large.jpg
The Sardinians live on this soup.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. In a short while, you'll see food differently, and feel better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hey, That's My Testament!

"Like my pastor says, 'You just gotta wait for your Bo-az.'" She pronounces the last syllable as though she was saying "ax," so it took me a second to place him. "Do you know Bo-az? Is he from the New or the Old?" 

"He's from the Old," I hurriedly confirmed. It was around Shavuos-time; all the shiurim I had been listening to about Rus was coming to good use. 
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Julius_Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld-_Ruth_im_Feld_des_Boaz.jpg
My co-worker is divorced, and in the dating field, oh, that dreaded place. "Ruth waited, and waited, and then she found her Bo-az," she said. 

"Well, um, according to the commentaries, Boaz was a lot older than her, although he was rich, if that helps. Er, some of the commentaries say, he, cough, he died on the wedding night." 

Her eyes widened in shock. "What?"

Yeah, that is kind of a bummer. 

Also, Rus didn't exactly trip over him either. Naami sent her to that field quite craftily, and then cooked up the means for yibum to take place by providing Rus for her nighttime attack. There's a great shiur by Esther Wein in which she shows that in the Yehuda-Melech dynasty, there are a lot of women seeking out their mates as opposed to the typically ancient method: women = binah, men = chochmah, binah + chochmah = daas. In the Davidic line, binah tends to hunt down the chochmah. 

But, I digress. My initial point is that who knows what messages others will find in the same sagas that we hold dear.   

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Big Fat Imaginary Wedding

I have some plans for my as-yet-to-be-realized wedding. Flowers: Pink and green. Gown: Slight drop waist, exploding into a multitude of tulle layers. Family color theme: None, but there should be a riot of jewel tones, sapphire blues and emerald greens. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_FyhesOSNEpY/TIQl3K0i5XI/AAAAAAAAEHk/c18W3V-GJ3Y/s1600/IMG_0077.JPG
Via sprout-flowers.com
I like to plan ahead. In our world, the time between dating, engagement, and marriage can be a matter of months. Might as well have some idea of what one likes, no? But I don't think of my wedding with any sort of deep yearning; I don't consider a bedazzled do to be imperative. 

When I think about a wedding, I think of it as a separate entity from marriage. When I think of wedded bliss, I picture myself looking like hell in an apartment with too little kitchen space, yelling at my spouse to kindly take out the garbage.

Unless one was royalty, weddings were modest affairs. Couples in old movies would get engaged, then walk around the corner to city hall, wet and bedraggled from the romantic rain they were just soaked in that made them see each other in a whole new beloved light. 

Once two people decided they were for each other, that was it. No party-planning. No gown-shopping. No talk about princess- or emerald-cut. Marriage was . . . marriage. Unglamorous, everydayish, but still special to the couple alone.  Even with the garbage. 

I'm not sure who started the big-wedding-trend—5-year-old girls toting nuptial scrapbooks?—but from reality to reality shows, "the wedding of the century" is in. We are into it, too. 

Abby Ellin reports in "Blame the Princess" of women who have no guy, but wedding plans (oh, like me, gulp). 
Never mind the bleak statistics on marriage (about 45 percent end in divorce). Many women still dream, feverishly, about their wedding, even those with no groom or boyfriend in sight. They pin photos of fantasy event spaces, dresses and flowers on Pinterest; they design their ideal engagement rings on sites like Ritani.com; they turn to MyKnot, Lover.ly and Project Wedding for ideas on invitations, gift registries and seating charts. . .
A 2014 study conducted by Brides magazine found that approximately 25 percent of its readers are not yet engaged. In 2013, 37 percent of the brides who visited TheKnot.com did not have a fiancé.
Not such a problem, I would think . . . until they ask the bummer experts. 
Women are planning the show before the script is written and “before the leading man shows up,” [Dr. Sue Johnson] said. She understands the desire for companionship. Marriage, she said, “speaks to our longing for connection and our fear of aloneness.” But, she added, the emphasis on weddings and marriage is also somewhat dangerous . . . 
“Weddings are moments when gendered ideas become really clear,” [Emily Fairchild, sociologist] said. “A wedding is a coup for women, because they’ve met their gendered expectation. By having a wedding, you prove your worthiness, your womanness, in a way that a man doesn’t need to. A man can be a man by having a job, in ways that aren’t tied to his family.”
But Dr. Patrick Markey is less alarmist. 
“Women tend to be more selective when picking a mate and have a greater desire for monogamy and a stable relationship than men,” he said. “Thus, they are more likely to dream of a wedding, which symbolizes this desire.”
The wedding-minded women in the article are quick to blame Disney. Every girl wants to be a princess, and all Disney princesses married. But Disney didn't invent the fairy tale. They've been around for hundreds of years to keep women meek and biddable (be a good girl and be an unpaid servant, and maybe one day a gorgeous, rich man will rescue you). 
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/grimm/cinderella/images/cinderella_pop.jpg
Not so long ago it was the dream of every women to marry, gain social status as a "wife," and run a house of her own with the support of a good provider, as Professor Ruth Bottigheimer observes.

The fuss over marriage isn't new. It's the fuss over weddings. 

Here's the clincher: 
“If I don’t get married, I’ll feel like I failed. I have career goals and my own personal goals, and they are important to me, but on my deathbed, if you asked me whether I wished I’d been on Broadway or had a family, I’d say 100 percent had a family.”
Yeah . . . but you don't need a destination celebration in order to have a family. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Thou Shalt Teach Them Diligently"

"Down a sunny dirt road, deep in Bear Country . . ." 

So went the first days of Pesach. I own nearly every The Berenstain Bears book (I recommend classic Stan & Jan over later Mike versions), and was doomed to read them all. 
http://vegbooks.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/978-0-394-87217-9.jpg
But how could I be remotely irritated when two cuddly little boys are snuggled into my sides, immobile, rapt? Us three were tucked beneath a down cover (that I thoughtfully fetched) on that chilly day for quite some time. My childhood memories of my siblings' rattling monotone when they would read to me ensured that I availed my voice of inflection; I made sure Farmer Ben was reenacted with a Southern drawl. 

"Lea read us a billion books!" one excitedly informed his mother. 

"A billion and one," I corrected. 

"Lea's so cute," he cooed fondly. 

On the second days, Luke's near-three-year-old discovered the stash of sturdy "board books," and he, too, sagged into jelly on my lap as I read and read and read. 
http://thewhimsicalsweet.com/whimsical/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/boynton.jpg
A few weeks ago there was an Op-Ed piece urging women to donate their breast milk to mothers who are unable to provide it, especially in light of studies showing higher academic achievement amongst those who were breast-fed. But, there was a letter from a pediatrician. She wrote that while it is a nice idea, the financial resources needed to screen and distribute the milk would be better spent encouraging mothers to read to their children. 
With scarce national resources for many families in need, and while recognizing that “breast is best,” increased intelligence and opportunity might be facilitated more effectively by community support of the extraordinary nutritive factors in the close, exploratory contact engendered by reading between mother and child.
There is more than one way to increase a bond and to pump up intelligence. The Berenstain Bears are available on Amazon. I have not yet met a child who didn't like them, mussar regardless.    

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Links

1) As a the only idiot who volunteered to sweep the classroom during lunch, I think that our schools, which tend to hemorrhage money, could kill two Stormtroopers with one laser blast by following the example of this private, faith-based school in Tennessee.
http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Video/__NEW/2015-04-12T22-58-10-833Z--1280x720.nbcnews-video-reststate-640.jpg
For one thing, students wouldn't make the mess in the first place if they are the ones who have to clean it up.    

2) David Brooks, one of my favorite thinkers/writers, came out with a new book called The Road to Character, which I plan on purchasing in the immediate future. He was interviewed in a number of places, including Charlie Rose. He quotes Rav Soloveitchik, giggle.
http://www.jewishjournal.com/images/featured/AllieKrause_DavidBrooks-12-590x402.jpg  
In the first few minutes of the interview, he talks about moments when one's heart opens up, "when time stands still, when reality overspills its barriers, and you experience a wave of gratitude . . . you become aware of a higher moral joy that is better than anything you get in career." 

For him, it was when he arrived home on a beautiful sunny day and sees his children playing on the green lawn; for me, it was a beautiful sunny day last summer, when I held Luke's son near a fish pond so he could watch the shimmering orange movements beneath the water. 

The sunshine touched his straight golden hair with a tender hand as he, a small toddler, stood enraptured by the surface. My nose pressed against his ear, I felt such happiness, and completion, in that moment. 

I remember it still, and appreciate it.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Battle of the Bulge: There is No Comfort Here

Pesach is my holiday. Amongst my favorite foods, hent matzah and potatoes are close to the top of the list. Happy happy joy joy as I consume it, idiot idiot idiot as I wobble out the yontif week. 

Comfort food? According to a new study, no such thing ("The Myth of Comfort Food" by Jan Hoffman).
“People have this belief that high-calorie foods are the path out of difficult feelings,” said Kelly D. Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, who studies obesity and behavior and was not involved in this research. “But the assignment of the word ‘comfort’ to these foods implies there is a relationship between ‘comfort’ and ‘food’ that may not exist.”
I have noticed it myself. Following an atrocious date, I don't find any joy in mindlessly stuffing my face in cake. It doesn't make me feel any better. It's more along the lines of "Why bother watching myself?" If anything, because I'm in a bad mood, my favorite food doesn't taste as good as it usually does. 

But I would see cartoons of weeping, jilted women tunneling through ice cream tubs, and I figured I must be missing out on some sort of magic cure.
http://www.totalorlando.com/slideshow.asp?Img=162&Type=ParkDining
The study points out that bad moods tend to end, without the help of the freezer section or candy aisle. 
Dr. Mann said the study’s findings helped demystify the belief that comfort food is uniquely comforting. “Let’s not say we’re allowed to eat something because it will make us feel better about whatever we’re suffering,” she said. “People are looking for a justification to eat something unhealthy. Just eat the ice cream! It’s not magical. But it is yummy.”  
So it is. So it is. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two Sides to the Story

Woman 1: She's an intellectual, well-read . . . and I don't think he's her speed. He is very nice, though. 

Woman 2: So send her his information. Let her be the one to choose. You never know. I certainly didn't expect to end up with the type my husband is. 

Woman 1: True. Me neither. 

Woman 3: Same here. 

Woman 2: See? That's what I think the "problem" is. People make the decisions for singles. Let them decide. Let them choose. 

Woman 3: Except . . . except, for some, it puts them in an awkward position. When I was single, I never said no. And I had disastrous dates, because I didn't have the confidence to refuse. Once my neighbor asked to set me up with her cousin, I said, "Ooo-kay," and I could tell from the phone call that it was going to be bad.  And it was. So it's not really fair to singles in making the suggestion in the first place.

I was all for cheering on, if not hugging, kissing, and buying a fruit platter for Woman 3. She understands what it's like. When I get a suggestion, I assume (chances are erroneously) that the other put a lot of thought into this idea, and if I say "Thanks, but no thanks," I am dissing her efforts.  Or, if I say no, then it is proof that I am picky, pedantic, and doomed to die with only cats to my name.

As a result, I have gone on many a horrendous date, emerged angry, resentful, and suffering from PTSD. I have lost faith in mankind (the guy) and womankind (the shadchan), and now bear her a massive grudge for humiliating me via a meeting with an ill-mannered, inconsiderate jerk, or a dim, pitiable nebach. 
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However, I never quite saw it from Woman 2's perspective. Yes, stranger things have happened. There are couples out there that not only could I not comprehend, no one else who knew them couldn't, either. Who am I to state, for sure, that he and she could never be we?

I guess . . . I guess I have to take it a little easier on shadchanim. But, in turn, they have to take it a little easier on me.    

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"An Ounce of Prevention"

When I would watch the evening news when little, the medical report would usually finish off with: "This condition can be treated with medication." 

In the last number of years, however, the conclusion is different: "This condition can be treated with diet and exercise." 

As Jane E. Brody reports in "Prescribing Vegetables, Not Pills," those struggling financially can get "prescription" produce as opposed to cheaper, unhealthy food. Obesity can launch a laundry list of expensive illnesses, and providing the cure before the disease is a win-win on all fronts. 
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It has become an invocation in my household, while consuming delicious vegetable soup or heavenly roasted parsnips or luscious grapes, to moan, "Medicine. Absolute medicine." 
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thekitchn.com
Before anyone here rolls their eyes at the idea of scrumptious prevention, there was absolutely no talking at the table during Pesach lunch—and I'm including the 6-year-old here—after the zucchini soup was served. There was only the chime of spoons scraping the bowls.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pareve Chocolate Chips

It was a great tragedy (so I hear) the day that the hechsher on Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips changed from OK to OK-D. I was new to Trader Joe's (and chocolate chips) myself when it occurred, so did not realize the seriousness of the switch. 

I was browsing one day on Vitacost, searching for high percentage cacao chocolate bars, when Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels popped up. Miraculously, it contains not only 69% cacao, it is pareve (cRc) to boot. The Enjoy Life brand markets itself as being allergy-free, which means no nuts, no eggs, and no dairy. 
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Ma started adding these to her staple brownie (which does not call for chocolate chips) and the audience is quite pleased. These chips add a satiety factor; instead of binging on cake, one feels satisfied after one or two pieces. The biggest testimony of its yumminess is Luke's acceptance; he tends to be a purist (he hasn't touched the bundtcake since the recipe was altered fifteen years ago).

I've also used these chips in granola bars. The kinfauna did not complain of the lower level of sweetness.  

If opting for a (slightly) sweeter option, there are also Semi-Sweet Mini Chips and Semi-Sweet Mega Chunks.       

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Guest Post: Brevity is the Soul of Wit

"It is the people that are content with ordinary living that are truly extraordinary." — Eilu v'Eilu/Luke 

But, for the purposes of according proper credit, it should be clarified that he hammered out this concept with Ma's brainstorming.