Monday, December 31, 2018

The Repurchased! VII Skincare

It took me a long, long while, but I FINALLY found a vitamin c serum in pump form, as opposed to dropper. I was never keen on the dropper. It exposes the serum to the elements, to air, to contaminants, decreasing the potency over time.
I was adamant about a pump or tube, and now that I've found it I go through it like matzah vaaser. I also love the consistency; most vitamin c serums found on Amazon performed well, but other options—including a very expensive one from Sephora—was sticky, or did not melt into my skin, or left an orange(!) residue.

In the mornings, I use witch hazel toner with a cotton pad (instead of washing my face) to prep my skin, then apply the Kleem (on top goes SPF, then makeup). 
The above are the ones I have tried and loved. Additionally, there is an Essential Renewal Gel (10%) for oily skin types, and an Enhanced Renewal Cream (12%) for dryer skin.

I have been a fan of this line when it was still called Alpha Hydrox. These are anti-aging treatments of various percentages that do lovely work. I rotate them with my retinol products (but I haven't yet tried their retinol cream).
For those who are new to AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), it would be wise to apply a layer of Cetaphil moisturizer first, then this on top. The serum, for instance, is so potent that it stings if I put it straight on my face.   
Differin, at 0.3%, is still prescription; this one, at a lesser strength, is available over-the counter. While it is referred to as an "acne treatment," the main ingredient is a retinoid, which means it's for anti-aging too.
The same premise applies as with the AHA; apply Cetaphil first, then this on top. (A dermatologist told me to do that, by the way.) 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mamma Lushon

Every family has their own language, and that unique vocabulary can live on. 

In my family's case, cutely mispronounced baby words can cling for decades. For instance, as a toddler, Luke said "dahngess" (which is actually Yiddish for "worries") instead of "downstairs," and to this day, we say "dahngess." Then the next generation of kinfauna left their mark, and in short order. Luke's now 6-year-old son used to say "chapach" instead of "garbage," and I seem to be stuck saying the same. 

Then there are the European pronunciations from my parents' backgrounds. "Interasant" for "interesting"; "stoordy" for "sturdy"; "banant" for "banana." 

Then, when one marries, the spouse introduces their own family language. One of the reasons why I feel like I can be completely myself with Han is his ready acceptance of my verbal quirks, as this vocabulary is so much a part of me that it's unthinkable that I can let it go. 

"Shoin nisht the vaaser," Babi would say when washing hands. "Frozen meat doesn't rot," Zeidy would say regarding the health benefits of frigid weather. Quoting my grandparents, my parents, my siblings, the kinfauna—it's comfort, it's continuity. 

I thought of this while reading Deborah Tannen's "My Mother Speaks Through Me." Her mother died nearly 15 years ago.
I was grateful to be reminded that whenever I open my mouth to speak and my ears to hear, my mother is still with me.
Luke is a scientist; he told his kids that Babi will always be with them because they carry her DNA, she is literally in them. DNA can be seen in action, I have noted. I look like my father's side of the family, but Luke constantly says my mannerisms are like Ma's. When I echo her words, when she quoted her parents' Yiddish and Hungarian, I feel as though she is not gone, but with me. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

"Main Hoon Na"

(For those who haven't yet seen last season's black-ish, stop reading now.)

The last few episodes from black-ish season 4 got rather dark. I mean that literally. The screen became dim as we witnessed the fracturing of Dre and Bow. 

No reason is shown. Sure, he attacks her for "always doing this" and she counters with him "always doing that," but is that reason enough for him to get a new residence? 

They are on the road to divorce until he gets a call in the middle of the night. Bow is sobbing hysterically that her father died, and Dre's immediate reaction is, "I'm coming over." And he stays with her. And stays. And stays. He has no desire to leave, nor does she want him to.
"Main hoon na," the Indian declaration of love, is not "I love you," but "I am here for you." Avraham said "Hineni" to Yitzchak, even when he believed he would be slaughtering him in a matter of hours. He would be there for his son. (As opposed to Hagar, as I heard from Rabbi Fohrman, who cast Yishmael under a bush, abandoning him because she could not bear to witness his demise.)

Love is not merely an emotion. Love is action, in presence, in commitment. When Maria Shehata and her boyfriend sought out couples' therapy, they were advised to end their relationship. But they chose not to. 
I asked my Ukrainian therapist to weigh in. She didn’t even look up from her phone when she said, “Only fools marry for love.”
She is probably right. If we do get married, it won’t be for love. It will be because we stuck it out and built ourselves up as a couple until we had huge relationship biceps and triceps from all the times we were there for each other.
Main hoon na.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hey, They Said It, Not Me.

In today's secular culture, it would be considered odd to say that working and socializing with the opposite sex is uncomfortable. But survey says: Yes, people are uncomfortable. 

"When Job Puts Sexes Together, Workers Cringe" by Claire Cain Muller (that was the print title) describes how there are enough individuals who are very much aware that it is not a simple thing to be alone with someone who is not a significant other or family member, whether in an office or a bar. 

Today's world likes to operate on the "ideal" mode—in an "ideal" world, I can do such-and-such and there won't be any negative consequences. But the world is not ideal.
After the rape of Tamar by Amnon, the rules of yichud were enacted. That incident occurred, what, 3,000 years ago? Do any of us think that human nature has changed all that much? Not really. The women quoted in the article are leery of sexual harassment. Just having the awareness that a door should remain ajar is enough to cast a different tone on a man-and-woman meeting. 

I haven't been to any mixed-seating weddings since my marriage; prior, there were times when I was placed at a mixed-singles table. It was always disastrous. Making conversation was sometimes confused with romantic interest, leaving me wishing I could bolt from the festivities before the main course. 

I don't know if it is my quasi-Boro Park upbringing, or my own personal squeamishness, but it makes me nervous when there is too much . . . friendliness between unconnected men and women. Sometimes it can look rather similar to flirting. Lines can get crossed faster than one realizes. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Repurchased! V, Eyes

I was shocked that I haven't done one of these in a long while. Well, no time like now, when I've recently restocked during Sephora's annual November sale. 

This puppy alone gives monster lashes; applied with the Maximizer, then followed by two coats, leaves one devastating. I've tried the other versions of Diorshow but only this one stole my heart.
However, it is not a good option for Shabbos Face. It clumps if it comes in contact with a pillow. 
I'll admit, it took me time to warm to this product, even though everyone loves it.
I recently became further enamored because unlike my previous eye pencil love, this one does not diminish in creaminess and pigment no matter how long I've had this unpackaged. Creaminess means less tugging when applying (I buff it in with an eyeliner smudge brush), and pigment means it stays the same deep black always. 
Whilst called a "concealer," I treat it like a "color corrector." As I have repeatedly mentioned, I have monster, epic, terrifying dark circles. Concealer alone usually leaves the area looking gray.
The peach tone in this powder neutralizes the purple of the circles, and then I apply the concealer on top. (I've been using powder concealers as cream ones tend to make my eyeliner smudge horrifically.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Your Story is Not My Story III

The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. Illness has no rhyme or reason, striking the health-conscious and the McDonald fressers both. Perfectly capable individuals struggle with parnassah, while seeming incompetents ride the money train. The loveliest of couples can clash with their children, while the most clueless of parents will be respected by awesome kids. 

Yet, singles are all the same. The entire group is simply too picky.  

A friend WhatApped me a letter written by a 36-year-old single where he reveals his recent epiphany. He is quick to list (more than once) his wonderful merits, and how he expected the most wonderful woman in kind. If she actually had human flaws, she got her marching orders. 

However, looking back, especially considering the unpalatable shidduchim being suggested to him now, he has discovered he could have married so many other women who would have been "good enough." If only he (Mr. Perfect) would have deigned to overlook their lack of perfection, he would at least be wed and a father by now (he seems to assume that all these "good enough" women wanted to marry him in turn). Don't do the same thing as me, etc.

This letter left a bad taste in my mouth. 

Some may view his enlightenment as a good thing, as the picky man is reborn into a pragmatic one. As all singles are picky (it has been established) they should all become pragmatic too, like him.

But, again, we aren't all the same. This single came to a personal realization—and is still single, mind you—but since when are personal realizations meant to apply to an entire demographic? 

This chap even writes that those who aren't looking for perfection, but who have a few criteria, are being too picky. This is one serious pendulum swing. His policy wasn't correct before; it does not follow that a 180—for EVERYONE—is now the only answer. 

In my case, the few men that I was interested in seeing again—and they were all quite human, as I am—were not interested in me. No one else was a viable possibility at all. Han was so different from anyone else I had ever gone out with, even the ones I was willing to see again, that I could never say that I could have married "many" other men. Or even any other man.

But this is my case. This was my situation, my experience. There may be others like me, but I do not assume all singles are me—not even Han. 

We are INDIVIDUALS. We are DIFFERENT. Singlehood could be a self-inflicted state—or, it could simply be that not everyone is supposed to meet their soulmate in their low 20s. 

Our community likes these epiphany letters. It makes things seem so clear, so simple—and promulgate the stereotype that singles are their own worst enemy. After all, this guy figured it out! He was being too picky! As you are, obviously! 

I don't know this guy from a hole in the wall. I'm not taking life advice from him. But I do know me. So I will do what I have to do. Without insisting that EVERYONE else follow suit. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Chicken Soup

Ma would make a big batch of chicken soup and freeze portions for a few weeks. I used to use her ancient pot (below, on left) but I became exasperated how quickly I needed to allot a Sunday to make another one. So off to Amazing Savings, and I got myself this baby (on right).
I don't make soup exactly how she did. Well, her method was always changing. My brother-in-law's friend was scandalized that she didn't use leek, so in leek went. My sister's sister-in-laws were laughing she didn't put in a tomato, so in went a tomato. Then she heard somewhere about chucking in a golden beet for color, and it does add a lovely shade. 

I've messed around further with the method. My sister, whose brood are deadly serious about chicken soup, has had to hone her skill finely. She simmers it overnight, so I now devote an entire day to its construction. 

I read in an article about browning the chicken before adding in the water for deeper flavor. Cool. 

But I added my own step to cut back on the necessary skimming of gunk: I pre-boil the chicken in the smaller pot for about five minutes—not too long. Then my soup is a lot cleaner. (It's naaaasty what's left behind!)

I personally love the vegetables from the soup (my in-laws considerately keep it for me). I use not only the aromatics (onion, celery, carrots), I gleefully add parsnip (not too many, Ta's not crazy about the flavor), turnips, and rutabaga (oh, rutabaga, mmm). 

My niece commented that my soup tastes like Ma's, and her mother said that's because I use dill. 'Cause I love dill. 

Ma used chicken legs, but for all that merciless simmering, I use chicken bones. I add turkey legs too, but keep on the skin because that's where all the fabulous collagen is. 

For seasoning, I definitely undersalt (still can't escape Ma's high blood pressure, even though she ain't here no more). Peppercorns, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, bay leaves, fresh parsley, and again, fresh dill. Mmm. 

Straining is vital. Cheesecloth! Or at least use a fine mesh strainer. 

Behold, nine to ten weeks of golden joy. I try to let it cool as much as possible before pouring it over into plastic, then into the freezer it goes.

Friday, December 7, 2018

TGI Chanuka

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"The Old Consciousness"

One of the difficulties of the current modern age is the application of contemporary perspectives to that of, say, biblical times. 

For instance, Torah detractors grumble about a number of incidents that, by today's sentiments, are brutal and sexist. 

We have a lot of mass murder at the hands of the shoftim and melachim. Dovid, our paragon of divine servitude, was up to his eyeballs in blood. Women don't seem to get a fair shake either (Pilegesh b'Givah? Shiver).
While reading a book review of a novel retelling The Iliad from the female perspective, the reviewer, Geraldine Brooks (a favorite of mine) notes: 
Henry James famously warned historical novelists never to go back more than 50 years beyond their own era, since “the old consciousness” would surely elude them.  
Brooks herself writes of historical characters, and she does say she does not concur with his opinion. 

There are a rare few who can go back and see, but the rest of us have limited imaginations, I think. 

Feminists often cite the Bible or Jewish law as being sexist. Yet that is their misapplication of modern sensibilities. The world, in general, was crueler—to everyone

In another fifty years, society will probably view us as being more brutal and sexist as they are. I'm not saying everything was awesome millennia ago, but it was different. It is not fair to see their norms through our eyes, for they knew things that we don't anymore. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Shidduch TV

Yes, I know, I'm about ten years behind the times, but I'm now watching Srugim
I asked Han if he had ever watched it, and he said he had started to when he was single, but found it too depressing. 

I totally get that. 

The show does bum me out. It cuts a little too close to home. It also doesn't help that I don't really find the characters . . . likable.  

Reut is humorless and sharp-tongued. Nati is self-absorbed, casually churning through dates without care, frightened of any "real" connection. Yifat is hard yet brittle, mooning over the nonreciprocating Nati.

Even the ones who are nice(ish) make pretty bad mistakes. Hodaya, who comes from a home more to the right (rabbi's daughter) than the life she's currently living, is constantly operating under a cloud of embarrassment. She dodges family members on the street, afraid of their reaction to her jeans. She's equally ashamed to tell her chiloni boyfriend that she's religious, even when she breaks up with him over it. 

Amir is a recent divorcee who tries to do the right thing, but is finding it frustrating as women are turned off by his previous marriage. That also leads him to goof up. 

I realized while I was talking with Han about it why it's a bummer: it encourages the notion that singles are screw-ups (they do say "dofek" a lot). They're single because they can't get their acts together. Which isn't fair to the rest of us screw-ups. Sorry, singles.

And yet, I'm addicted. It does remind me, all too keenly, of those years of unknowing, when you're not sure what you are "supposed" to be doing, flailing and praying. 

Maybe because us frummies have few entertainment outlets that display our lives that I'll take it and run.