Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Apologies

I'm sure my audience knows that I wouldn't neglect the blog unless something was up. 

And something is up. Two somethings, actually. One very very bad . . . and one very very good. I wouldn't leave this wonderful outlet for the latter, but the former is inhaling all my time and mental energy. 

So I will have to take an unwilling hiatus, but believe me when I say "This is not farewell, but au revoir!"

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ode to Persian Rugs

The Hungarians have a . . . well, how shall I put it? We are known for liking pretty, opulent things. Aesthetic complex? Although I don't see why it is such a terrible crime to have a chandelier in a bathroom. It's my bathroom, after all. How does that impinge on anyone else? 

Creating a beautiful home, daubed in bright paint and bird-themed throw pillows, is a lovely hobby. One's surroundings are a balm to the soul, an uplifter of the spirits. Every time I walk into the living room (from which kinfauna are banned), I sigh in delight. For reals.
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Mario Buatta is Ma's favorite decorator.
There is a school of Jewish thought that frowns upon such attachment to physicality. Yet are we not also told that this world is for enjoyment? I heard in a shiur that simchas yom tov for men is in the food; for women, it is in clothing and bling. Good thing too, since I'm not partial to red meat. 

Currently, "minimalism" is in; sleek, functional, modern houses full of sharp corners and cold floors, not a cuddly spot to be found. There's that tidying-up book from Korea that went platinum. People are eager to toss out the unnecessary. 

Yet I am not the only one to find such an outlook unappealing ("The Oppressive Gospel of Minimalism" by Kyle Chayka). 
Part pop philosophy and part aesthetic, minimalism presents a cure-all for a certain sense of capitalist overindulgence. Maybe we have a hangover from pre-recession excess — McMansions, S.U.V.s, neon cocktails, fusion cuisine — and minimalism is the salutary tonic. Or perhaps it’s a method of coping with recession-induced austerity, a collective spiritual and cultural cleanse because we’ve been forced to consume less anyway. But as an outgrowth of a peculiarly American (that is to say, paradoxical and self-defeating) brand of Puritanical asceticism, this new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all.
Have you noticed that minimalism allows only comes in white and gray? Why can't being minimalist be cerulean blue? Does minimalism mean that it can't be attractive at all?
Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones?
That's why I'm lame at cleaning out drawers or closets; there could possibly be a use for this item in the near future. It always seems that as soon as I donate something I come up for a use for it next week. 

For me, clutter can be delicious. Providing it passes the Hungarian "pretty" test.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sorta Shidduch Lit

Anything by Austen is automatic Shidduch Lit, because it describes a time when courtship and marriage consisted of rules and regulations ("dating" was strictly for marriage, etc.). Yet I have read two books that tackle the other aspect of coupledom—the thought processes, the motivations, why we choose. 

The first is a recommendation from TooYoungToTeach, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. I know it's quite a mouthful, and I'm sure I'm mispronouncing "Guernsey."
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It is a collection of "letters" (this is a novel) between various individuals (as well as our delightful heroine, Juliet) in post-World War II Britain, as the nationals were dusting off the dust of catastrophe and plowing forward into the future. It's historical enough that "dating" still had some restrictions, so we can work with that. 

The second is a recommendation from an anonymous commenter on my post swooning over Liane Moriarty: The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. It takes place in contemporary Dublin, and there are certainly no rules and regulations to be seen. Cough, cough, this book is definitely UA ("Un-Aidel"). 
https://pictures.abebooks.com/isbn/9780670021406-us-300.jpg
A few, not just one, couples are featured in this book, and their specific personalities and quirks are described in but a few words. Their needs as individuals, and how that would play out in a relationship . . . mesmerizing. 

There was also a message embedded in there that is my (newish) mantra: You can't make others change. They have to get there on their own. You can only change yourself. (Another reminder to the optimistic souls who think they can heal the broken, angry men with their love.)     

I was offended to see that goodreads parks Keyes' work under chick-lit. How insulting and derogatory. 

What is very important to note is that both books are quite funny while still relaying seriousness. Humor and wit are my catnip. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Actual Requirement

It's really not my intent to talk smack about my Bais Yaakov. Yet so many years later I'm still untangling myself from the binding knots of misinformation. 

Like what a woman is required to daven. 
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Maurice Minkowski
For years I nourished—and that's on me—an "all or nothing" approach to prayer; for years, on weekdays, I only managed Birchas HaShachar, since if I only had a few spare minutes (as opposed to thirty) I believed that saying something as opposed to all was "no good." 

It was only in the last couple of years I recognized my folly, and I made an effort to ram in what I could—at least birchas Sh'ma, Sh'ma, and Shmoneh Esrei—but feeling like a sub-par Yid in the process. 

And then I hear this shiur

How could us gals have been so misinformed? Ashkenazi women are only required to say Birchas HaShachar, Sh'ma and Shmoneh Esrei. Zeh hu. Not even P'sukei D'Zimra. 

In the old country, mothers would begin davening on Shabbos from Nishmas. I must shamefully admit that when I first heard this, I smugly thought how "they didn't know better," when, er, they knew far better than me, with my official Jewish education. 

I had learned from the family guru about "skipping"—that if, say, arriving late to shul, it is more important to daven with the tzibbur as opposed to starting from the beginning (while everyone is answering Kedusha). Yet as soon as leining began, I would catch up there. But it would seem that I don't have the requirement to say P'Sukei D'Zimra, so it would be more important for me to listen by leining. 

Of course I shlep around Jewish guilt baggage, what I could do better, how I messed up . . . and all this time, I was beating myself up for something I didn't even do wrong. 

When you know better . . . 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Clayface II

"Ooh, you must get this face mask," she gushed. "It makes my skin sooooo soft." 

I went very, very still. I was, of course, proud that my niece was taking care of her skin, but I was reminded how a once integral part of my routine lapsed in practice. 

Products have to be user-friendly, or else they won't get . . . used. When I posted about face masks, I was currently using one in a tube—simply squeeze and apply. But shortly thereafter I purchased the internet-acclaimed Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

Which has to be measured out and mixed with liquid. Even when using official measurements, it never came out right. Too thick or too thin. So I gradually stopped using it, unwilling to wrestle with it, but since I officially had a mud mask in the house, I didn't purchase an alternative. 

Until the recommendation from the teenager. As soon as we parted ways, I fumbled open Amazon and desperately searched. It had to be in a tube—I had bought one once in a tub, and it dried out—and preferably from the Dead Sea. I love the Dead Sea. It's a skincare addict's dream. 
http://dead-sea.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/800x355_4.jpg
There were two I settled on to try. The first is by Adovia, and it spread on easily, sank in, and did its job. After washing it off in the shower—golly! How bad of me to fall off the mask wagon!

This review echoes my experience too—that while it gets nice and tight, it "gives" enough so it doesn't flake like mad when dry. So I can talk with it on.
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Via cosmeticsanctuary.com
The next (I like having backups), for one day soon, is by 27 Minerals. But times may change, and new products available by then. (Yum yum!) 

Now, I can breathe easy at not being sandbagged by kinfauna. . . until next time.