Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm in Denial and I Know It

"I don't care what he's 'doing,'" she said. "I just want to get married." 

I wonder about those sort of situations. Sure, I would really, really, really like to get married. But to have no standards or expectations at all?

My fellow females are not always so discerning. Sometimes it is blatantly obvious this guy isn't good enough for her; she is an absolute angel, he needs a swift kick in the pants.
Debbi Dickinson writes of her own tale of marrying down, and she knew she was doing it. But she was 28 (she's no youngster now, so this may have been when singlehood still had a blatant stigma) and she wanted to move on with her life, even if he was a liar. No surprise then when her marriage ceased to be. 

Sarah Berry's article references the need for brainpower, not just following the heart. 
When your gut grumbles, it's always important to listen says Christine Meinecke, PhD . . . "Instead of following your heart, use your head and trust your gut."
She says that while using your heart (along with your intellect and intuition) is important for forming a holistic picture of a person or situation, intensity of feeling can lead us to make hasty decisions.
Rather, good decisions are made when we take the time to listen to our intellect and intuition ("gut"). 
Meaning, what's the rush? If it is meant to be, a little time to ponder the matter can't hurt. 

The gal who professed her desperate desire for a husband got engaged, but the wedding was called off. I hope it was because she realized that no matter one's yearning for wedlock, one should still not sell themselves short while remaining realistic.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lip Lining

"I am coming over to your house and you will show me how to put on lipstick," she said. Ma obliged. 

Ma had barely begun—she was just lining her lips with pencil when the neighbor flipped. "But—but—you're drawing outside your lips!" My mother watched in bemusement as the neighbor stormed out.

As collagen injections have anything to teach us, many like to exaggerate the fullness of their lips.

When lip lining, draw slightly—slightly—outside the natural lip line. It's okay to cheat, providing no one can tell. Looking like Camille from Say Yes to the Dress is the danger point. 

If one is uncomfortable with such exaggeration, just be sure to color on the edge, rather than in the edge. If one is too cautious with the lip pencil they may just end up making their lips look smaller, so be sure to cover every bit of lip.

I never used to lip line; I was too lazy and I thought I could get the same effect without it. I was proven wrong.
Lip lining gives the lips a defined shape, and makes lipstick application more accurate. Before I lined my lips looked thinner, since I would apply lipstick "safely." Now when I line, my lips look fuller.

Filling the the entire lip with lip pencil will extend the life of the lipstick. 

Some mornings I'm in a rush, so I messily dab on lipstick, then use the pencil to make it more defined. The pencil will grab the color and let me move it around.

An "expert" once said that Wet n Wild's Color Icon Lipliner in 666 Brandy Wine matches all skintones (available at your local drugstore).
I am currently using Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner Pencil in Fuchsia 16C. It's a hot pink, and I like it because it disappears beneath my bright lip color rather than being an obvious line. The pencil consistency is great, gliding on smoothly without tugging or unevenness.

When applying lipstick (I prefer with a lip brush for accuracy) make sure to paint over, not in, the penciled lines; they should not be visible. 

While this video shows applying a red lip, watch how she lines and applies masterfully. Those sort of tips go beyond red lipstick.

(The bottom video's last five minutes or so are devoted to a photo of her lips with music in the background. ?)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Boyfriend as a Roomie

This is a concept that is not really relevant to our community, but I found it interesting anyway. 

Studies have shown that couples that live together before marriage are more prone to divorce, despite the prevalence of public opinion that it is the best way to go. The theory until now was that those who cohabit out of wedlock are nontraditional, meaning they would not consider divorce to be scandalous. 

But this article, written by clinical psychiatrist Meg Jay, presents another view. 

When couples decide to move in together, it's not because they have made a deep decision; it's more that going back to their own places to brush their teeth and change every morning is a drag. So they "slide" into living together for convenience. And their motivations are different; most women think they are a step closer to marriage, men think they are postponing eventual commitment. Their different interpretations already poses a problem.
Sharing a place has a host of economic benefits. Since a couple is splitting expenses, they can afford a nicer place, share technology, and save on a host of other things. But once in this situation, they can't get out. Splitting up is no longer a financial option.  

Now there is nowhere to go but forward, with marriage. Which leads to divorce all too quickly, since they weren't in the end a suitable couple, simply a casual fling, upgraded instead of tossed.  

I always wonder what it would be like to date with no specific goal in mind. I can't understand it. How do two people meet and not try to figure out if, on a deeper level, they were meant to be together? Wasted years are devoted to doomed relationships, all because no one made a point to be aware.

Friday, May 25, 2012

To Tone?

I always wondered about the point of toner. I never comprehended its purpose, but that didn't stop me in my teenage years when I would regularly soak a cotton ball of the stuff and swish it over my face after cleansing. 

Back then, when my cleaning ritual was not so thorough, the cotton ball would usually become grimy with residual dirt; nowadays, the cotton ball is squeaky clean, thanks to my face brush. 

I decided to google "purpose of toner," and this link shows a compilation of snippets from various publications, most stating that toner is unnecessary, except maybe in the case of very oily skin. 

My skin is combination, and it is the summers that unleash the facial oil; it is only during that sweltering time of year that I would use toner. 

One thing I've learned is that toners containing alcohol should be avoided; they just strip everything from the skin, and that is not the best way to go. 

Witch hazel is great stuff. For oily skin I would recommend Humphrey's Homeopathic Remedy Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Citrus Facial Toner. It contains no alcohol, I find it refreshing in the summer when I'm overheated, and I love the orange-y scent.
Always check the ingredients when purchasing toner! Alcohol can often manage to squirrel its way in there.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fiction is Food for the Noodle

I love books. It's actually something stronger than love; a deep, desperate need for the written word. I'm not that taken with non-fiction; it is when I have in my arms the poetic prose that is a novel that I become alive.
I find myself now rereading a book that I have previously devoured oh, say, five times. And yet I find myself postponing night-night, alternatively chuckling and being breathless with anticipation, despite my familiarity with the plot.  

And yet other perks besides entertainment arises from non-fiction fascination. 
Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.  
The parts of our brains involving the senses begin to perk up when reading about smells, descriptive objects, and movements.
The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated . . . Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings
And by the fact that we experience that which others' experience, we become more kind. 
It is an exercise that hones our real-life social skills, another body of research suggests . . . individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels . . . a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television.
Maybe if children were read books more they would be nicer to others . . ?
Fiction, Dr. Oatley notes, “is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect. Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Selective Pickiness

30 Rock, "K is for Kabletown":

Liz meets a guy called Wesley in the dentist recovery room, and they seem to get along great until the laughing gas wears off. Then they part ways, hating each other's guts. Except they can't stop bumping into each other.
Wesley: The universe wanted me to run into you again. And I finally think I know why.

Liz: Commencing eye-roll sequence.

Wesley: The universe wants us to settle for one another. Well, there has to be a reason why this keeps happening to us, Liz. I think fate is telling us this is the best we're ever going to get. We're each other's settling soul mates.

Liz: Settling soul mates? That is grim. And I've played Monopoly alone.

Wesley: I know it's not ideal, but we'd both benefit. Then I could open jars and kill bugs for you, and you could make look less gay at work functions. (He's British)

Liz: Look, I happen to believe in romantic—

Wesley: Don't even say, "romantic love." How many couples do you know that are actually in love that don't completely annoy one another?

(An old couple hobbles by)

Liz: Okay, what about them?

Old Woman: You wouldn't be complaining if you wore those shoes I bought you.

Old Man: You're an old _______. (It's not very polite)

Wesley: Why fight this? Grow old with me, Liz? In separate bedrooms?

Liz: No way. have a nice life. (walks away)

Wesley (calling after her): Think about it, Liz! It's what the universe wants! You'd have someone tell you when you're about to step in something!

(Liz promptly steps in something)
* * *
"And don't be so picky!" She wags a finger after me, a woman who could be interchangeable with any of my Babis.

I begin to fret; am I, truly, being "picky"? 

In terms of "settling" soulmates, I thought of Ponda Baba, who was constantly re-redt after I went out with him; I, too, thought that maybe his frequent re-occurrences was a sign from Above to just accept his unrequited advances. After becoming physically ill at the possibility of being his for life, I cast that fancy aside.

I thought of the romantic tale of my cousin, who was given up for spinster (late 30s). Her husband happens to be younger than her by a few years. 

At her vort, the groom's father said that his son never saw a girl twice. This went on for a decade. He meets her, and that's it: she's the one. No second-guessing.

Perhaps some of us are only presenting an image of pickiness . . . until the right one shows up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's MY Day

As a TCM aficionado, one becomes nostalgic for how life used to be not so very long ago. A world where men always wore suits and hats, women donned stoles and gloves, where children were attired in short-shorts even in the most frigid weather. 

Often, when the hero professes his love for the heroine, the two gaze in each other's eyes, and trot off hand in hand to city hall to be wed.
The marriage of the Earl of Jersey and Virginia Cherrill, Chelsea Register Office, c. July 31, 1937.
Hold the phone. 

That's it? No desperate search for the wedding gown? No panicked screaming at caterers? No frantic fuss over flowers? 

The 1950 film Father of the Bride has Spencer Tracy agonizing over his daughter's "overboard" festivities: a church wedding followed by a reception in the house. Golly.,%20Spencer/Annex/Annex%20-%20Tracy,%20Spencer%20%28Father%20of%20the%20Bride%29_01.jpg
When did it come to this? And it's not even the first time a woman feigned illness to come up with a wedding budget! 

We, too, now take it as a given. I confess some perplexity how money can be raised and donated for a one-night affair, and be referred to as "tzedakah." It would be one thing if it was essentials for home, but to raise money for a professional photographer? If a couple is in such dire financial straights, don't they need the funds for something a little more . . . permanent? 

My friend says that all she cares about is the ring. She'll happily get married in a rabbi's study in exchange for the rock of her dreams.

Everyone has their own "rock." What would a woman rather have instead of a party that'll last for a couple of hours? An upgraded apartment? An awesome oven? Savings for future expenses, like, say, children? When "hachnosas kallah" is mentioned in Eilu Devarim, it doesn't say "chassanah"; I believe they meant providing a needy bride with homemaking basics (especially in a time when there was no such thing as takeout). 

What if we downplayed the wedding and made the marriage the focus? Our grandparents most definitely had more muted nuptials. My father's parents were married in a DP camp. Yet in no time at all we have made big shindigs a requirement.
These aren't my grandparents, but this is a photo of the first wedding in the Heidenheim DP camp, where they lived until the US would let them in.
Reality television is choking with wedding themed shows: Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, My Fair Wedding with David Tutera, Four Weddings, just to name a few. 

Did we come up with this? Or did they?

Monday, May 21, 2012

There's a Dog Involved

I was sure I had a specific novel criteria. Historical, mostly. I find that sci-fi is often hard to read, as I can never visualize what the author is describing, although there are always a few notable exceptions. 

Take, for instance, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Originally recommended to me by Bad4, she described it as a cross between Douglas Adams (love him!) and P.G. Wodehouse (could love him!)
Douglas Adams, may he be canonized.
PG Wodehouse
Frankly, I was still dubious while taking the book from my library, and blandly turned to the first page.
And laughed out loud.  

On the train. 


Never. Happens.

The book deals with time travel in a mind-boggingly amusing fashion. I was so excited that I had found an entertaining author; however, when I eagerly pounced on the library for more of Willis' works, I was disappointed to find them heavier in tone, dark even, and not remotely as hysterical as To Say Nothing of the Dog

It takes place in the future, after the development of time-travel, yet in order to keep their department financed, scientists are running around history on a scavenger hunt for their demanding patroness. A time-traveler finds himself in the Victorian era, and Oscar Wilde hijinks ensue.

That should be teaser enough.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why? Whyyyyyy?

I love mineral foundation. It covers beautifully, easily, and pretty flawlessly, providing a glow without being "dewy." But I have hit problems finding a match. 

The Sephora Collection Mineral Foundation Compact in D10 is how I left you guys last. I had swooned that it matched my neck, but on further contemplation it appears to leave my face ghostly-white. D25, the next yellow-undertoned shade, is too yellow/dark. 

I decided to experiment with mixing. I was peering at the available shades, hoping that maybe they came out with more color options, when a chirpy saleswoman offered assistance. I usually shoo them away, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask. 

"These come in primarily pink and yellow undertones, right?" 

She looked at me as would a deer in headlights. 

"Um, if you want a darker shade than D10, the next one is this," she hazarded, tapping R15, which is blatantly pink and so not for me. 

Oy, "beauty consultants." No help at all. I shooed her away. 

I purchased D25 to see if I could somehow blend the two together, providing a little warmth to the Edgar Allen Poe-pasty visage that D10 leaves. I just buffed a little of the D25 after applying the D10, and now my face isn't sickly white. In fact, it pretty darn nearly matches my neck.

I love that it's in pressed, not loose, form, which makes it easier to travel with and to apply, since it doesn't fly everywhere and up my nose.  

Of course, once I found out a product I like and how to apply it, it ends up being discontinued. Frick. Hopefully they'll bring in a new mineral foundation that is identical to this one. But in the meantime I stocked up on spares for $7 each instead of $22.  

My horde should keep me good for the next few years, but this now means I have to go looking for a replacement. Update soon on the search. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The New Age of Sacrifice

A gal I knew was in her mid-30s and single. She was lovely, wonderful, etc, etc, but, yeah, she was single. 

Her beloved grandfather suddenly took ill and passed away. During the shiva a guy was redt, and bing-bang-boom, a few months later they are engaged, then married. Beautiful. 

So, of course, there were those who say that her marriage came about due to her grandfather's heavenly intervention. 

Let me get this straight: In order to get married, I have to kill off my grandmother?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pretty Nails

As I mentioned beforehand, the premise of makeup is to highlight natural qualities. Lips, for instance, are often pink, so they should be painted pink or red, not purple. For those with lighter skin tones, brown is certainly not a true hue. 

The same with nails. Nails are pink, so the color that goes on them should be derivatives of pink as well. I am not a fan of these new stunty colors, like gray, black, or brown. I don't find them flattering. 

Now greens and yellows are "in" this season; blah. I am not the only one to think so - Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote an article bemoaning the loss of the natural nail. 
I think beautifully maintained nails — really nice cuticles and buffed, natural-looking nails — it’s the most beautiful in my opinion,” she said. “You can always add polish to it, but it’s not necessary.” Leave the riot of colors to the high-school kids, she said.  - Elizabeth Lata, the owner of Elizabeth Lata European Day Spa, an Upper East Side stalwart for more than two decades. 
I have seen some with blues, and silvers, but rarely are they caught in pinks or reds. A simple french manicure flatters all. 
Sometimes these trendy colors bring to mind other . . . unpleasant associations.

Stop a man on the street and ask him what he thinks of nails the color of Grey Poupon. Richard Dorment, a senior editor at Esquire magazine, about the yellow and green nail polish pouring off salon shelves: “It’s the color of mucus. It’s the color of infection. It’s the color of old piano keys.” For some observers, the trendier polishes can also call to mind pea soup, algae and ectoplasm.“It makes me think of the old Hi-C juice cartridges from when I was a kid and they had Slimer on them,” said Chris McLaughlin . . . Ky Henderson . . . said pale green polish “sounds like something a mythical creature from ‘Lord of the Rings’ might have.”
Via Yummy dinner, but not for the nails.
Pinks and reds are the only way to go.
Via, Essie French Affair (great color)

Mr. Henderson . . . thinks red is more universally pleasing than green, though he cautions against going too dark or inky. “It looks like you slammed all of your fingers in a car door or have a horrible vitamin deficiency,” he said.
In the end, to place so much emphasis on the nails, say by running out to get "trendy" nails, is unnecessary. I repeat, nails are not the fashion focus. Efforts would be better to be applied elsewhere.
Mr. Dorment, who conducted an unscientific poll at Esquire, reported that clear polish was the clear favorite. “It lets us concentrate on her face,” he said. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIE, Tweety, DIE!

"Shuuuuuuuuuut uuuuuuuuuuuuup," I groan into my pillow. 

Tweet. Warble. Cheep cheep cheep.

It's 4:23 am, and the miracle of nature has woken me up. 

I'm not one of those people who can roll over and go back to sleep. My rest is officially shot. I now understand Sylvester's frustration. 

At 6, I blunder downstairs, muttering curses and epithets. It's Shabbos morning, which adds insult to injury. I plan to get a gun.

My niece is scandalized by my violent impulses. 

"Lea!" she chides, "He's singing Shirah!"

What can one say after that?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Raisin Analysis

I have always needed something to read while I eat, since I was 5 and all that was before me was the cereal box. 

My breakfasts are spent pretty much the same way; happily munching and moaning over my high fiber twigs (seriously) and casually flipping through the morning paper. In times of extremity, I'll take anything. ANYTHING. As long as it has words. 

I am also guilty of mixing television and meals. It's just that while I love food (goodness, how I love it), chewing is not the most entertaining thing. 

My aunt went to a workshop for work where they distributed raisins and made the audience analyze it for ten minutes. She tried telling me about it, but I gave up after 20 seconds and ate the raisin. 

The NY Times Dining Section had to ruin it all for me. I do not deny that mindful eating is what I have trained myself to do over these past bulge-battle years, but they are pushing it. 

Meditate while looking at a plate of dinner? I'm just supposed to LOOK at my succulent paprikás, with the magnificent potatoes alongside, glistening under sauteed onions? Are you kidding me? 

The article mentions the raisin exercise my poor aunt was subjected to.

I chew. I make sure to eat only when I'm hungry. I do portion size. I consume healthy food. 

Do not make me take it a higher level.

At least, not yet. Maybe when I'm 50.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Take THAT, Wrinkles!

While AHA! is a good anti-aging weapon, there is a tougher means to fight wrinkles. 

Under the classification of vitamin A, there is retinol. Retinol is considered (by the all-knowing Drs. Oz and Roizen) to be, along with AHA, the only proven ingredient to zap wrinkles.

Skin has to be gradually introduced to retinol and other stronger anti-aging agents; my skin is not sensitive and I have been throwing all sorts of stuff at it for years. It is an individual situation as to what your skin will be okay with. 

April's Vogue had a whole write-up. 
Imagine for a moment that a revolutionary skin-care ingredient was discovered. It visibly smoothed out wrinkles and obliterated breakouts; it improved skin texture and tightened pores into tiny little nothings. It could lessen the look of brown spots and sometimes even helped reduce precancerous lesions. It quite literally turned back the skin's clock glowier, more luminous past. Imagine, too, that skeptics and researchers the world over and tested this ingredient exhaustively, scrutinizing it for decades to see if it really could be as potent as it appeared - and it was . . . Such an ingredient does exist . . . It's retinol.
"Vitamin A is the go-to-skin-care ingredient," says Jennifer Linder, M.D. . . . "The best anti-ager is sunscreen; the next is Vitamin A. Nothing else approaches it."  
Roc is a brand that is very highly recommended. 

There are other retinol-derivative products like: 

Derma E Vitamin A Retinyl Palmitate Wrinkle Treatment Moisturizing Gel is my favorite for summer nights. During the warmer seasons my skin doesn't need major moisturizing, so this water-based gel is ideal. It does leave a bit of a sticky residue, but I don't mind that.  

There is also a cream for drier skin types. Derma E Vitamin A Retinyl Palmitate Wrinkle Treatment Creme. Another one by Derma E has even more retinol potency: Derma E Retinol Vitamin A and Green Tea Wrinkle Treatment Creme. 

For convenient dosage, there is Perlabella Retinol Anti-Aging Face Pure Dose Pearls. These have .075% concentration of retinol. I'm not actually sure what that means, but according to a study found on Livestrong, that is enough to decrease wrinkles. I happen to find these pearls to be a bit of a pain to squeeze out, but the consistency is velvety soft and worth it. 

Watts Beauty Retinol Face Cream has a whopping 1.5%. There are a lot of oils in this so I don't use it myself since I fear breakouts, but Ma likes it. 

*Warning*: Retinol should only be applied at night, never during the day. UV rays degrade the retinol, which takes the skin along for a destructive ride. Remember: only at night!

For those wanting a serious kick of retinol, dermatologists can prescribe prescription-strength retinoids, which can treat practically any skin condition: aging, acne, my dreaded milia. Retinoids seem to be the answer to everything. 

A dermatologist gave me Differin, a retinoid, for my milia. It is an acne treatment, and he uses it himself in conjunction with other products to keep wrinkles at bay. This version can be worn in daylight. 

He advised that I should apply a moisturizer first, and he recommended Cetaphil. It's so booooring, but it does a good job if one is looking for a moisturizer for sensitive or reactive skin (no-comedogenic). It provides great deep moisture. 

My milia are obligingly moving along after years of frustration, while the grooves around my mouth are gone. I've become slavishly devoted to this wonderful, wonderful product. But I don't know how to go back from a life on retinoids.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Matisyahu's Sunshine

Thanks Prof for making aware of Matisyahu's single. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mixed Messages

My grandfather was one of eleven (six survived the war). In the old country, the eldest daughter (my great-aunt) would spend her day in the front room, sewing her trousseau and looking attractively marriageable, while the younger daughter had the less-glamorous role taking care of the rest of the children in the back kitchen.
Lladro Sewing A Trousseau
We are raised with a constant awareness of ayin hara; buying something in preparation for the unresolved future is frowned upon as it may ensure the implosion of hopes and dreams. Purchasing items for married life while one is not even dating seriously can be seen as a major attraction for the evil eye. 

Yet, consider—in the old world, there was no Bed Bath & Beyond. There were no registries. No Bloomingdale's One Day Sales. If one was betrothed and didn't have a prepared trousseau, she would have nothing for her home until she stitched it herself (after the war Bobbie took advantage of paying someone to do her sheets). 

If all those people back then married, it can't be that now, suddenly, the evil eye has come out to catalog our purchases and undo that which is bashert. 

So, therefore, I have decided that if I see a fabulous pot for little money, or if my favorite china pattern is about to be discontinued, or set of gorgeous linen by a sample sale, I will buy them. 

I have the money, I have the storage, and I have the faith. 

Anyone need a pepper mill? I have spares . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Educational AND Entertaining

One of the ways I got sucked into musicals in the first place when Ma got snookered into one of those MGM deals where one gets seven musicals for a penny each, then has to buy one every three months at regular price. Out of desperation, she purchased 1776, which I must say that at age 11, put me straight to sleep. 

There was just so much talking

I warily popped it back into the VCR when I was 18, and found myself raucously hooting with laughter.

While I can't get some adults to watch it (they also can't stand all the jabbering) others are entertained by the excellent writing and the hilarious lyrics. Such as this snippet from "But Mr. Adams":
Mr. Adams, I say you should write it
To your legal mind and brilliance we defer

Is that so? Well, if I'm the one to do it
They'll run their quill pens through it
I'm obnoxious and disliked, you know that, sir

Yes, I know 
John Adams, in the 1972 film, was played by William Daniels, who also played Feeny in the '90s show Boy Meets World. I happened to have known him from the latter before seeing the former, so that piqued my interest.
Broadway staged a revival in 1997, and John Adams was played by—wait for it, sci-fi lovers—Brent Spiner, also known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. "Blue Skies" in Nemesis wasn't the first time he sang, it seems.
His rendition of Sit Down, John! is on my iPod, and he definitely holds his own. 

But here is the magnificent original.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'll Show You Some Respect

There was an article how Asian-Americans, previously the intermarriage masters, are realizing the benefits of shared backgrounds when selecting a spouse. 

This passage jumped out at me: 
Ms. Le is a gregarious, ambitious corporate lawyer, but in her parents’ home, she said, “There’s a switch that you flip.” In their presence, she is demure. She looks down when she speaks, to demonstrate her respect for her mother and father. She pours their tea, slices their fruit and serves their meals, handing them dishes with both hands.  
The point of this anecdote in the article was how white boyfriends were freaked by this display of filial respect; Le eventually wed an Indian-American who implicitly understood respectful submission to parents. 

But for me, I was jolted, comprehending my suckiness in my own kibud av v'eim. Seriously, read what she does; everything I don't and should.
And talk about respecting elders!
Ed Lin . . . said that his wife, Lily Lin, had given him a deeper understanding of many Chinese traditions.“She brings to the table a lot of small nuances that are embedded culturally,” Mr. Lin said of his wife, who has also encouraged him to serve tea to his elders and refer to older people as aunty and uncle. 
I like to flatter myself that I know how to treat those older than me, but every time I want to refer to my aunt and uncle as "Aunt" and "Uncle," the labels stick in my throat. I even attempted using the Hungarian terms, Néni and Bácsi, which I always called my great-aunt and -uncles so easily, but for more immediate family I lamely wimp out. 

One thing's for sure, I'm not letting no article think that Asians have a monopoly on respect. Sure, their cultures have been around as long as ours, but two can play that game. 

So I challenge my fellow frummies: Let us remind the world who can do the real respecting. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

There Are No Picky Eaters

There are a slew of publications coming out arguing that French parents are the ones to emulate

I think it all comes down to the fact that the French understand that children are adults in training, so they don't make them into yoizels. They have to be socialized, it is about what the parent wants rather than what the child wants, and they take a more casual, rather than reverential, attitude towards their offspring. 

Take, for instance, Karen Le Billon's experience at a French home. It was naturally understood by the hostess that her child guests would consume what the "adult" fare offered, rather than whine "I don't liiiiike it." 

The phrase "picky eaters" is often used. It's one thing if a child is uninterested in food—then a mother will resort to all sorts of bribery—but if a child doesn't have to be coaxed to eat in general, then the world of food should be made open.

For instance, I thought I never liked blueberries until I actually tasted them—at 18. Same with sweet potato; I abstained for years because of childish whimsy. Although alfalfa sprouts never grew on me. 

Chefs feed their kids from another angle.
“The chef’s approach is much more about bringing children into your world of food,” said Ms. Aaron. "The thing they all had in common was an attitude toward feeding kids that was more engaging, to pique their kids’ curiosity and really share their own pleasure and enthusiasm of food with their kids."
Chef-parents don't think "What can I get my kid to eat?" It's more along the lines of "Here's dinner." 

On a recent visit, my nephew with celiac-disease found himself mulishly facing a bowl of quinoa with sauteed craisins and butternut squash. It is beyond heavenly; I can't stop eating the stuff.

"Try it," I insisted. His lips remained glued together. "You are not leaving this table until your mouth has touched it," I persisted. One lone grain of quinoa was eased onto a spoon, which was mutinously brushed against his tongue. "I tried it," he cackled, then bolted. 

You can run for only so long . . . 

Monday, May 7, 2012

All I Need is Me

Like anyone else, I enjoy music. I don't listen to it on a constant basis, however, since when not in a quiet room the volume has to be cranked up on the headphones and I would like to still have my hearing when I hit 40. 

But when executing some tasks I have become accustomed, nay, I require, the sounds of Led Zeppelin strumming away in the background. 

Take, for instance, cleaning. Scrubbing out a bathroom is less than entertaining, and wielding a brush to the sounds of Abba makes the time pass more pleasantly. 

Then 'twas two nights before Pesach, and I had to take care of that procrastinated chore. I decided, for some reason, to try scouring without any other distracting assistance. It's going to be sefirah soon, I thought. Let's see if I can go solo. So I hummed as I wiped and windexed, all without the tunes piping encouragement. 

I stopped some time later, unable to believe that the minutes slid by just as swiftly. And I now knew that I could do anything during sefirah, without the help of soulful crooning.

I don't always push myself. But when I do, the small, personal victories of discipline reinforces my belief in my own self-reliance.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

All Girls Club

The American culture's obsession with prom escaped me entirely. In high school I was certainly aware of the rite, but I never felt deprived.
Tharima Ahmed, organizer of the Girls-Only Prom
A Muslim girl, however, did. Attending public school, she and her gender-segregated friends decided to host their own prom. Raising money mostly through bake-sales, they were able to finance their own boy-free bash, where they could wear a prom dress, free their hair, and dance. Even their non-Muslim classmates were happy to attend.  
Shortly before 8, it was time for prayer, the spaghetti straps and empire waists disappearing under hijabs and abayas, a prayer rug taking its place on the dance floor. 
Maybe we should have our own prom! Sounds like fun—an evening devoted to satin, religion, and girlie relationships, without infringing males or shadchanim.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Match Made By Toddlers

"You're going to marry my uncle." 

"No, baby." 

My nephew nods firmly. 

His sister squeals, "Yes, Lea, you'll marry him!" 

"No, baby."

They both turn their black-lashed, bright blue gaze upon me, with the same smug assurance that their aunt, twenty years their senior, just doesn't know her own mind. 

Their uncle never was my type; he was 14 to my 15 when our siblings married, and we spent all that sheva brachos time insulting each other, using a lot of Shrek references. I find him as appealing now as I did then.

These shmoopies are 6 and 4; I suppose I can be understanding in their matchmaking schemes.

If only they didn't look at me as though I was being unreasonable.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mask or Me?

"Why does your sister wear so much makeup?" a neighbor asked my brother, with a distinct sniff of disapproval. 

In an interview with Lady Gaga
Belinda Luscombe If you think people should be themselves, why do you have the elaborate costumes that seem so much like a disguise? 

Gaga: Well, this is myself. How else would I maintain it every day? It may be perceived that my creativity is something I have to work on, when that's probably the most natural part of me. I think we should try not to be cynical about the individuality of others. Perhaps instead of disguise, people should see it as an expression.  

If others choose to keep their faces bare, that is their prerogative. If others (like me), like a little bright lipstick, that is also their choice. 

But can't we all get along either way?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bloody Shabbos

I was running breathlessly back to my sister's house, my screaming niece clutched in my arms. A red-stained batch of tissues was messily pressed to her head, and she oddly complained between screeching for her daddy that she can't see.

My white leather jacket was splattered in her blood.

I had taken her to the park, as I had been reassuring her I would since daybreak. Now, I'm sure many of you can think of a few park hazards that would warrant the services of stitches. Swings. Slides. Monkey bars.

Walking into a lamppost is not one's first guess.

She was ambling ahead of me, in all her three-year-old cuteness, fresh from a foray on the swings, insisting that she wanted to go on the other jungle gym across the park. She was idly looking over her shoulder at some frolicking children, and I saw the obstacle ahead of her. I called out her name, but she banged into the lamppost with a sickening thud.

I figured, judging by the noise, that she would be left with a hefty bump, and enfolded her into a comforting embrace, then pulled her back to see if there was any damage, simply to be greeted by a veil of red.

In all my years of aunthood (approximately 13) I have never had a child harmed in my care to such a drastic extent. While they have scars from stitches aplenty, the gashes were never on my watch.

Now, there was a distinct dent in her forehead.

Her father is in Hatzolah, and when I arrived on the doorstep, gasping for breath, I hollered for him, only he had, of course, taken his other daughter to a friend's house. And my sister had gone with them.

A neighboring Hatzolah member used his radio to have him summoned, and not ten seconds later he burst heroically through the door, lacking only spandex tights. At this point I was trying to read my niece Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now, trying to keep my voice from cracking. The metallic smell of blood was overwhelming.

My sister was, thankfully, not holding me responsible. "These things happen," she said, uncomprehending of my watery eyes and runny nose. However, I didn't blame myself; walking into a lamppost can be easily categorized as a freak accident. I also knew that head wounds bleed heavily. But I still felt shaky.

I took a baby wipe and mopped off the blood from my jacket. There was a trail down my sweater arm and a patch on my neck.

Three hours later the little babá was tucked by my elbow again, bandage over her stitches, happily fiddling with the pink hospital bracelets on her arm as I read, yet again, Marvin K. Mooney. She was fine, and would bounce back in the springy way toddlers have.

But that night, as I closed my eyes to sleep, all I could see was her screaming, bloody face and the red splattered all over my white leather jacket.

I thought my niece had emerged relatively unscathed from the incident, with only a shiny line on her forehead that will fade with time.

But a few weeks later: "Come, boo, let's go for a walk."

She scuttles away with frightened eyes. "I don't want to go to the park."

"No, baby, not to the park. Just for a walk."

"I don't want to go to the park."

"You'll be staying in the carriage! Just for a walk! We'll see some squirrels and cats and birds . . . "

"I don't want to go to the park."

Oh boy.

After its gory experience, I concluded that the best choice would be to give the white leather jacket away.

"You should give it away," my sister said. "You look like a mobster's girlfriend."

On second thought . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Prehistoric Phones are Cool

OK, maybe not cool, but they are intellectual. 

My ancient Morola Razr may not have many bells and whistles, the battery has increasingly shorter life time, and texting is a pain, but I will only give it up under duress.
These guys are sans Smartphone, all for pretty much the same reason: they don't trust themselves with it around. These chirpy devices make it so easy to tune other human beings out, to ignore to-do lists, to let personal discipline take a hit for the worst. 
Smartphones are especially pernicious because they “increase the ease of access to the Internet far beyond anything we’ve had with laptops,” Mr. Carr said in an interview over his land line (he also owns a dumbphone, as do the other family members). “You see a similar type of compulsive behavior” to computer-assisted Web surfing, “but it can go on continuously from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.
If anyone questions a personal decision to go technologically dinosaur, feel free to sniff condescendingly using the insights of Jonathan Safran Foer.
Jonathan Safran Foer, who jettisoned his smartphone after reading “The Shallows” and “finding myself checking my phone while giving my kids a bath . . . It can be nice to stay in touch, but smartphones necessarily redefine ‘being in touch’ to mean something that has almost no value. (What was I checking for? Tossed-off e-mails from people I barely know.)”
Has Mr. Foer noticed a change in his attentiveness when writing? “Without a doubt and dramatically,” he wrote.
And would he allow those children he bathes, if they were of smartphone-owning age, to have one? A resounding no. 
Take doctors, for instance. They are not immune from the tantalizing distraction that smartphones provide. A tad frightening, I would think. 
Moreover, in a field often entailing meetings with patients and families about serious illness or end-of-life issues, Dr. Epstein has observed how smartphones can endanger bedside manner. “I’ve occasionally seen younger doctors surreptitiously checking their smartphones, hopefully for work purposes, during those meetings,” he said. 
I would want my doctor's full attention!
Jim Harig, 24 . . . bought his waterproof and shockproof Casio flip phone four years ago . . . Like Dr. Epstein, he holds particular scorn for Angry Birds, which he played once on his fiancée’s phone. “I felt like I lost a half-hour of my life,” Mr. Harig said. “I said, ‘Never again, just take this away from me.’ ” And he also appreciates maintaining the distinct spheres of office and home. “It’s nice to disconnect myself once I shut my computer down at the end of the week,” he said. 
I least I can say that my trend of avoiding apps was written up in the fashion section.