Monday, January 17, 2022

Fathers Are Also Parents

I was scheduling a doctor's appointment, and the only time that was available was after Ben's school hours. "I'll have to see if my husband can babysit," I said automatically. 

I paused. "No," I corrected myself,"if he can parent." 

As Ali Wong observed in her Netflix special Baby Cobra

It takes so little to be considered a great dad, and it also takes so little to be considered a ****ty mom. . . People praise my husband for coming to all of my doctor’s appointments with me.

Guess who else has to go to those doctor’s appointments? Me! I’m the star of the show. There’s nothing for the camera to see if I’m not there, but he’s the hero for playing Candy Crush while I get my blood drawn!

On one of the online groups I belong to, a new mother posted, saying that she wants to do something nice for her husband as he's been "so helpful" since the baby was born, so understanding that she can't give him as much attention as before. 

Whaaaaat? The baby is not some random interloper in his life, it's got 50% of his DNA! IT'S HIS CHILD! Of course he should be freakin' helpful, he's the baby's PARENT! 

A local paper used to feature a sort of "Ask Abby" column. This was years ago, but one question and answer has stuck with me. A woman was writing that her husband works very hard, he has two jobs, while she is at home with the kids. But she still needs help at times. 

The columnist responded that there is a difference between housework and parenting. Anything that is parenting he should help with. So cleaning the kitchen shouldn't be his problem, but bathing the kids and putting them to sleep is.

Because news flash: fathers are PARENTS too. 

Mishpacha had a short story a few weeks ago, and while this wasn't the point of the story, a couple of sentences really irritated me. 

The protagonist was 7 months pregnant, and was technically on light bed rest. But she has three other little kids, so that's not exactly realistic. Her husband comes home, and she "guiltily" confesses to cramping, at which point he tells her to lie down and puts the kids to bed:

He's an angel, my husband. And concerned about my health, and our unborn baby's. 

Putting the kids to sleep does not make a father "angelic." He's being a PARENT. If he came home and let her huff and puff with the kids when she should be lying down, that would make him a jerk. It's not "angelic" to care about your wife and children! It would mean he would be a sociopath if he didn't! (BTW, his "angelic" help wasn't enough, as she goes into premature labor that night.)

The bar shouldn't be so low.

I started watching Bosch, a detective series on Prime. There is the side plot of Bosch's personal life: he shares a daughter with his ex-wife, who is remarried. She was living overseas for the past few years, but now is back in the States. Their daughter is now 14. 

The daughter is a passenger when her friend, a minor, gets in a car accident. She's fine, but Bosch tells off his ex-wife as though their child is her responsibility only, which she rightfully shuts down. 

When their daughter hops a bus to visit him (the distance is not close) without telling her mother, Bosch is waiting for her by the station. Her mother flies in that night to retrieve her. 

"Thanks, Harry," she tells him when she arrives. 

"What for?" he replies. "She's our daughter." 

YES. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Mask+Lipstick=FAIL

There was an article about lipstick that lasts under a face mask, and so, excited at the prospect, I purchased two. 

Both were of a style I don't particularly like—liquid lipstick that is applied with an applicator. 

This format has never worked for me. Invariably, there is a blob of product at the end of the wand, which means more ends up in some areas, less in others. Because of this heavy application, it tends to end up outside the environs of my strategically placed lip pencil. 

Meaning, the results don't look very . . . polished. More like an amateur. 

But hey, more than one article recommended them, so I decided to try again. I bought one by Fenty and one by Sephora Collection (there was a sale, you see). 

The Fenty one was not the right shade—too dark—but I decided to wear it anyway under a mask to see what would happen. The only clean one available that day was rather small and hugged my face. Which meant the lipstick went EVERYWHERE. I looked like Nolan's Joker, and I spent five solid minutes attempting to mop up the damage in an office building hallway in front of a mirrored wall while Ben looked on, entertained. (Should I mention I did not realize the damage until I passed said mirror? Meaning PEOPLE saw me like that first?) 

But the Fenty did go on well, and managed to stay somewhat within the pencil. The Sephora option was also too dark, but went on so badly I had to take precious time first trying to fix it with a q-tip, then giving up and reaching for the makeup remover. 

I am not meant for liquid lipstick. Not happening. They both went back to Sephora. 

While masks are back and I miss my lipstick terribly, I am sticking with my standard lipstick and lip brush. And it's also better to go without than to look like Nolan's Joker. Shudder.  

Monday, January 10, 2022

The Jewish Heart

Unlike Han and my father, I do not "do" Holocaust books or films. There are a few exceptions, as there usually are in life, but I do not actively seek out their company. 

But since I'm the one who reads the Book Review, I introduced Han to Dara Horn's People Love Dead Jews, and Han is smitten (I might actually make PLDJ another exception). He prefers audiobooks, and he played me a segment he found interesting. 

The essay he played I was able to find online, on the Smithsonian website

Anne Frank's memoir has been insanely popular, worldwide. While it is about Jews hiding from the Nazis, it doesn't really deal with the genocide currently taking place. Other memoirs, that do recount the acts of horror, are not remotely as popular. 

Horn cites the work of Zalmen Gradowski, a Sonderkommando who was later killed in a failed uprising. Reading a passage Horn inserted into her essay, I was breathless at how a man who was forced to be a part of such indescribable crimes can not only remain religious, but recount the murders of his charges with compassion. 

Any other soul in such a position would have numbed himself, refusing to connect to the acts he is forced to commit. but Gradowski even details an example of a young woman who not only defies a Nazi official but manages to hit him too before she is taken away. She was no sheep led to the slaughter (a metaphor I have always disliked). 

Sonderkommandos were dead men walking, on limited time (they were killed every three months and replaced). And yet, Gradowski managed to hold on to his humanity and faith, to use beautiful language to describe ugly actions. His empathy remained, even while the Nazis tried every way to burn it out of him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Queen Anne

I recently read The Jane Austen Society (the book was simply okay, in my opinion). 

Two characters were discussing their favorite characters. One said (obviously) Elizabeth Bennet. Another countered with Emma Woodhouse. 

It made me consider who my favorite character is. 

I am not sure if it's allowed to have a favorite Austen character if one has not yet read the book (I have only the 1995 film adaptation to work with at the moment) but mine is Anne Elliot. 

I first saw it in my youth—maybe in my tweenhood?—with Ma. It was on Masterpiece Theater and I had taped it. I then rewatched it, as I was wont to do with my favorite films, many many times. 

Anne does what has to be done, even if no one appreciates her for it. She gets no parade—if anything, she is merely scorned by her own family for her efforts. But she keeps soldiering on. (That's why Wentworth is an ideal mate—he's an actual officer in the navy, complete with stiff back, who knows what it means to keep soldiering on).

Removed from her oppressive household and placed in fresh surroundings, she blossoms. Kind and receptive company brings out her qualities. And yet, a common-sensical creature, she never loses her head. As various crises arise, she is the one who wades into the fray and calmly takes hold of the situation (like the captain of a ship?).

Anne's "error" was for not accepting Wentworth's proposal when she was 19—an understandable mistake, considering how he was penniless at the time and her only trusted source was Lady Russell. But she does not make the same error again. Nor did she compromise in the interim. 

Elizabeth Bennet, while highly admired for her wit and sparkle, makes quite a few boo boos. She messed up big time by believing Wickham's lies so readily, especially in a society when tattling is considered déclassé. But then, she wanted to believe the worst about Darcy, so she did. 

Anne herself is capable of a retort, perhaps without Elizabeth's delivery, but because of her stillness her response is more likely to be heard and accepted. 

Emma—well, a bit of a self-important meddler, wasn't she? She nearly ruined Harriet's life, and she was cruel at times to boot. 

Elinor Dashwood is a close second for favorite (I read the book, but must say the 2008 adaptation was infinitely more enjoyable), but Anne has my vote.  

Monday, January 3, 2022

No More Dark Circles?

Continuing my quest to expand my current cosmetic horizons, I decided my concealer game, which is decidedly lame, needed an upgrade. 

As I have mentioned, one genetic bane is my epic dark circles. In previous years, I've tried all the touted concealers, which didn't conceal much—even the sacred Clé de Peau Concealer didn't do the job. 

I therefore concluded that perhaps my circles were uncoverable. 

But, with a Sephora sale, it can't hurt to experiment, right? 

I squinted at the endless options, and decided to try IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Concealer in 10.5 Light (peering at the swatch online it looked like this shade had yellow undertones, which is what I have). I selected IT for a few reasons: it says it's for under eye, and it comes in a tube, not with an applicator like most concealers do. I don't want an applicator constantly touching my face then contaminating the rest of the product. 

Initial reaction: WOW. This stuff COVERS. All you need is a pinprick (I am not exaggerating) of product and it really COVERS. And brightens! 

The texture is thick and tacky, and is supposed to be warmed by the fingertips. While I should probably apply it by bouncing it on with a makeup sponge, that's too much work for a standard weekday morning; I tap it on with my ring finger to spread it on, then set it with my regular translucent setting powder. 

Until now, I thought I had to use color corrector and top that with concealer, but with one product I can do both!

I think that IT's a keeper!  

Now, it's not a perfect solution. It probably needs more patience and time in application that I don't give it. But its pros outway cons.

There are products better than Clé de Peau? Ma wouldn't believe it.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Expanding My Mind . . . or Makeup

Between Ma and I, I used to be a Sephora VIB Rouge member (that meant I spent a small fortune during their sales). But hey, I was unmarried and had few hobbies. Plus Ma really liked the Algenist eye serum. 

With marriage, Ben's arrival, and COVID, my makeup spending shrank to . . . nothing. I had stockpiles of makeup to last me through. 

I stopped researching products. I stopped researching application methods. I was focused on other things now, like sleep. 

But as COVID masks came off, and family simchas began again, I started to feel the loss. I still loved makeup. I still wanted to wear it. But I felt a little . . . outdated. 

I've always believed that you can't get complacent. If you don't learn anything new, you regress into ignorance. The new TorahAnytime app has been a delight. My phone is chock full of bookmarked recipes that sometimes work, but mostly don't. I don't mind the failures. I exult in the new discoveries.

My under eye lining, for instance, is in sad need of improvement. I like a nice swath of black liner along my lower lash. But because I need like ten layers of concealer, the liner tends to run. Not cool. 

It's hard to find tutorials about such a subject, because most focus on dark circle concealing only, or lining the lower lash, but not both. So it takes some time to stumble across the right literature and guidance. 

I dipped my toe in, and found an interesting suggestion: When setting undereye concealer, don't swipe; press the powder in with the brush instead. 

Ah! Not a total solution yet, but progress.

Then, I came across an article about lipsticks that stay on under masks. Yay! 

So when Sephora had their sales recently, I cheerfully purchased some oldies and some new goodies too. Which I will try, and then return if needed.

I'm still a frumanista, ha ha ha. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Five Minute Face as Shabbos Face

 In my single years, I was a regular shul goer. Nearly every week, I would spend precious minutes before lechtzin hair styling and makeup applying. 

Now, that makeup routine was serious stuff. It was practically bullet proof. 

With Ben's arrival, however, the previous enjoyment of shul waned. When he was tiny, being up at night with him meant I stayed in bed in the morning. When he got older, and COVID became less worrisome, he would whine and complain while I struggled to get dressed, then he continued to whine and complain while I struggled to get him dressed, and by the time I finally made it out the door we were both sweaty and tired. 

When I would arrive at shul, he would refuse to go to groups, and after having my own davening disturbed too many times by youngsters I would refuse to bring him in, hovering outdoors and feeling rather stupid. If Han insisted on taking him in, I spent the time wincing whenever he emitted a peep. 

Or, if I didn't time it right, I would have spent all that effort getting it together to find shul is over and I got dressed and ready just to walk Han home. 

Blah. 

I decided instead that I would spend Shabbos morning going for a leisurely walk. I can't do that in the afternoon lest Ben dozes off in the stroller and is then unable to sleep at night. So morning it is. 

Well, do I really need a bulletproof Face just for a walk? When I'm wearing sunglasses? Through a pretty deserted route? 

Enter weekday Five Minute Face

Surprisingly, the above stays on rather well through Shabbos morning, giving my ego the slight boost it needs to be seen by strangers in public. When it fades (when you have a toddler, it will fade) it does so gradually, not patchily. Which is nice.

Lipstick will need to be of clingier stuff, though. A long wearing one.

Makeup doesn't have to be all or nothing. There's plenty of room in between. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"Deserve"?

"Deserve" is a word that makes me nervous. 

It's a word that is bandied about a lot nowadays. Strangers on social media, for instance, exhort that all of the individuals amongst the faceless masses "deserve" love.

I hear parents say that their kids work so hard in school, they "deserve" a vacation. 

This mentality is one that I find disturbing. As we very well know, life on this earth is not based on merit. Hello, how many children were murdered in the war? How many innocents were slaughtered over the millennia? That's not counting good ol' fashioned disease and famine and whatnot. 

But today's generation likes to say, "You deserve!" 

Judaism is about responsibility, not rights. We have to do our part; there's no guarantee we'll be thusly "rewarded." Kids still have to do their homework even if they won't get rewarded for it. For me, one of the last line of Koheles says it all: "The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man." A Jew gotta do what a Jew gotta do. That's it. 

In the Wall Street Journal, Crispin Sartwell expresses similar misgivings in "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" He lists all the things he's been told he deserves, by people who don't even know him, and observes: 

. . . if I believed that I already deserved all good things, I might stop trying to improve. After all, I couldn't become worthier or more deserving than I am right now. Nor could you or anybody else. . . some quibble that praising everyone in exactly the same terms makes saints and monsters morally equal. It's about time, is all I can say to that. Even the worst person in the world deserves the most reliable 5G network. 

Wait—can that be right? 

Constantly being told what I deserve puts me in a state of anxiety. . . I'm not entirely sure I deserve . . . I reflect on all the things I've done wrong . . . 

Sometimes I worry that I actually deserve to be penalized rather than awarded . . .  

He's being sarcastic for most of this piece, obviously. But you get the point. The world doesn't operate on a merit system. 

I was listening to a shiur about Dina, about all the various commentaries and their takes on it. This one says it was her fault, this one says it was Yaakov's fault, this one says it was Leah's fault. But the Abarbanel says: It was no one's fault.  

Following contemporary tragedy, we don't try to find causes or reasons. The good die, or live. The bad die, or live. There's no cause to be found. Dina was abducted and raped the same way many women have been since the dawn of time. To put it crudely, **** happens, and there isn't always a message to be learned. There isn't always a way to prevent tragedy.

And we definitely do not get what we think we deserve.  

Monday, December 20, 2021

Singles Shame, Continued

Iliza Schlesinger, Confirmed Kills

". . . The moral of that story is I was in a relationship and I wasn't happy so I left the relationship. I'm not advocating leaving the person you're with. What I am advocating for is this: If you're not happy, there's no reason to stay out of fear of being alone. 

"We like to scare women. And I'm sure there are men that feel this way. But we like to scare women when they're single and we like to be mean to them and we label them. We say mean things to them. She's a spinster. Old maid. 'Really involved with animal rescue.' We have names like that. 

"And we like to question them, as if there's something wrong. 'Why are you single?' 'Because the last one was a **** and I'm not stupid.' Like, that's why you do it. Nobody wakes up married. Nobody is born betrothed to someone. We have to be kinder to women and stop doing it. 

"And we have the audacity to have magazines, self-help books, articles, posing the question, 'You're single. Now what?' 'You're single. Now what?' What do you mean, 'Now what?' Now I shave off an eyebrow and take up with wolves. What do you mean, 'Now what?' What do you mean, 'Now what?' I got a mortgage! It's so stupid. 

"What upsets me is that women spend so much time and energy flogging themselves mentally for being single, and changing, and trying different methods, and looking for guys. And men don't have to do that. They have the luxury of relaxing because they don't have eggs. There are no articles in GQ like, 'You're single. Now what?' There's none of that."

Us frummies really do think, when it comes to the singles, that we are in a unique position. That the secular world doesn't have to put up with this hooey. That we are alone in our seemingly endless quest to find a good man to be a spouse, and if you don't put his ring on it, then there will be no one else for you.  

It happened to me often enough. "Well, you said yourself he's nice, so how can you say no?" But I feel nothing for him, except a burning need to to walk briskly away in the opposite direction. "But you're single and he won't beat you" is not a good enough reason to marry someone. 

Maybe that would have been sufficient reason to marry three hundred years ago, but hello, people, we ain't in the shtetl no mo'. We need more from our relationships, and that's not a bad thing. 

Browbeating a single girl into a yes isn't helping anyone. It doesn't solve anything. All she would know, going forward, was that she is not in this relationship because she wants to be. So why postpone the inevitable, when she finally can't go forward and breaks it off after the 15th date or an engagement? 

Singles aren't mental defectives, or children (for the most part). They don't need to be told ghost stories in order to get them to commit out of terror. 

They may just be waiting for what is right for them. 

(And by the way, Schlesinger married 2 years after this special, at the age of 35, and is now expecting.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"Too"

And you will always be "too much" for some people. Too kind. To friendly. Too sensitive. Too giving. Too loud. Too quiet. Too loving. Too hopeful. Too passionate. Too scared. Too frigid. Too soft. Too much of this and too much of that. Too much every single thing that makes you the person that you are. Don't change yourself because you are "too much" for people who are too little. Just remember that your "too much" will never make sense to those who put boundaries where there should be none. — ruby dhal