Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good Answer.

CNN Reporter Nancy Grace, 47, newly married for the first time and pregnant with twins, was asked: "how will you feel when you are 55 and your kids are only 8 years old?"

Nancy (with huge, laughing smile): "Blessed."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Interesting Blog

This 24 year old kid is in $300,000 worth of debt. Yes.

When I was 24, I:

  • Was four years out of college.
  • Made $30,000 in a dead-end job and lived paycheck to paycheck;
  • Rented a one-bedroom walkup dive in Brooklyn for $250/month;
  • Didn't even dream of owning a car;
  • Furnished my entire apartment from Woolworths (remember Woolworths?);
  • Did not have even a single credit card.
This kid has come a long way down the rabbit hole in a very, very short time.

Two Times Chai

Wow, a Jewish (secular) dating site for widows and widowers: 2xChai:

Join now to meet others and heal and grow together.
I can't put my finger on why this is so, but does this strike anyone else as just wrong? It sounds like a big old mutual wallow to me.

And Speaking of Roller Coasters...

From FiveCentNickel: keeping your nerve (and your investments) through the ups and downs of the stock market.

My favorite part is this:

From 1982 to 2001, the S&P 500 gained a 11.8% per year. Had you invested $10,000 at the beginning of this timeframe, you’d have $93,075 if you keep your nerve through the ups and downs and stayed in the market.
Hang in there folks. And look for buying opportunities.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Accounting of My Spirit


As Rosh HaShana approaches, I get nervous. This year, Rosh HaShana falls two days after 9/11, a very emotional time for New Yorkers (and all Americans, really) anyway. I will be flying on 9/11 this year. Gulp.

I take Rosh HaShana seriously. The whole cheshbon hanefesh thing...literally, the "accounting of the spirit"...shakes me to the core and rocks my world. This year, the year of my divorce, my move back East, my re-entry into singledom, has been one of the toughest years of my internal life. Externally, things have been going great. I am renting a roomy and pretty house in a quiet neighborhood, have a fabulous job that gives me a lot of freedom, creative opportunities and a nice paycheck, I've gotten back on my feet financially, and I'm working on getting my body back to the shape it belongs. I've been quietly and slowly reconnecting to my old friends, and I get to see my family all the time. I've counted my blessings, and they are many.

Internally, not so great. Of course, the ongoing lack of Mr. WebGirl is always going to be a hole in my life, but it's more than that. It's the complete lack of fire in my life. That kick, that heat, that passion. Absent.

Several years before I got married, I was living with my best friend, Vivian, in a dumpy little apartment in Brooklyn. What was interesting, not to mention convenient, was that Vivian and I were also dating best friends. But our boyfriends were also incredibly immature, disloyal, self-centered, and annoying. Ah, how I miss my twenties.

One night, after Vivian and I came home from mutually disappointing dates, instead of breaking out the ice cream and tears, we decided to drive down to Coney Island. We got there, parked and rode The Cyclone. And then we rode it again. And again. Six times that night, until the anger and sadness left our bodies and were replaced by the cheap thrill and exhilaration of riding that rickety old roller coaster, which never disappoints. Mind you, we still had crummy boyfriends and lives, but it just didn't matter as much. That momentary leap that my heart gives when I get to the top of the ride, that fire inside of me which is only kindled for a second, burned away the disappointment and left me with the energy to deal with my life.

This is not the greatest example of what I'm looking for in my life. I'm not saying I need roller coasters, but I do need fire. I need some spiritual fire, religious fire, mental fire, emotional fire...I need fire in my life. I need to rekindle my energy because I am so very sad about the direction that things have gone, and how ordinary and lonely my internal life has become.

I need fire.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Financial Boot Camp

I am well aware that when it comes to personal finance, I am a little obsessive-compulsive. Why is this the case? For starters, for the entire five years of my marriage, my husband refused to let me handle our money and I watched our situation bounce around from bad to mediocre to bad again. I don't ever want to be in that situation again. It is empowering to understand and control your finances. When I was single (meaning before my marriage) I was in situations where I lived from paycheck-to-paycheck, where I had no savings, where I invested foolishly and aggresively and lost my shirt, and also where I was so flush with cash from lucky stock market investing I thought I could retire early, where I had saved so well I could quit my high-paying powerjob and start my own risky business. Etc. I've been all over the map. What have I learned? A lot. But primarily that having money is better than not having money.

Here are some rules I like to live by:

1) It is important to invest. This goes for retirement money and non-retirement money. You simply want to have your money working for you. Don't know squat about investing? That's fine; sit down with someone who does and invest in a low-risk mutual fund, or better yet, an index fund.

2) Never invest more than you can afford to lose. If you stick to reliable funds, you probably won't lose in the long run. But there are no guarantees. At the same time, it's very important to invest.

3) Make sure your savings account is paying you 5% plus. There are so many banks doing this now that I can't list them all. Don't know of any? Write to me and I'll hook you up.

4) You must have health insurance. Even if you are a healthy, young strapping thing, you gotta have this. If you can't afford it, buy into a cheapola HMO. It is incredibly irresponsible not to.

5) Save for a house but don't buy one prematurely. Real estate is always a great investment, except when it isn't. It is nice and wonderful to own the place you live, but don't rush into buying real estate. Make sure you have that 20% down. Make sure you have crunched mortgage calculators and have enough left in savings to cover mortgage payments for a year if you lose your job. Make sure you aren't buying a house for all the wrong reasons. Throwing money away on rent is painful, but foreclosure is more painful.

6) Save, save, save. Pick a number and sock it away every single month and don't touch it unless you really have to. I don't like saving by percentages because I think it's more satisfying to stick to a number. Pick a realistic number so you will be able to do it.

7) If you have a mortgage, pay it on time. Without fail.

8) Use credit cards for points and rewards, but pay down the entire balance every month. If you can't, you are spending too much and you've got to rein yourself in.

9) You must, absolutely MUST, put away money for retirement every year. This comes before buying a house or an Ipod. Even if you don't max out your IRA or 401(K), (which you ideally should), please throw a little money in every year, invest it and watch it grow. You don't want to be working when you are 90.

10) Give charity on a regular basis. For those of you out there that are frum, you know about the imperative to give 10% of your net income. What I'm saying is, even if you can't give anywhere near this, give something, every month. If you have BillPay on your online checking account (and if you don't you should), set it up to go out automatically so you won't need to think too much. Just about everyone I know can buy two less restaurant meals a month and give $54 to charity. So do it. At the very least, it creates connection.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wigged Out

Back of the Hill at DovBear et al has this post on sheitels. Like every other mitzvah that is not bullet-proof, DovBear bloggers takes their best shot(s).

You wanna make fun of sheitels? Make fun of this.

Let's just assur up anything and everything that might make a sheitel look half decent. No, it's got to look like a freakin brillo pad or it's treif treif treif. And btw, snoods? Not kosher either. Headband or
hat falls? You pritzusdik harlot! Hats with sheitels? Only if they look like crap. Lifelike scalp? You whore. Baseball caps? Chas v'shalom! What are you thinking?

"The peak-cap, or more accurately the baseball cap, has a very sporty look to it and also imparts a distinct masculine type of appearance -- both of which are negative features which detract from the refinement of the woman, although she may not realize it. In addition, with the baseball cap, hair from the area around the ears often peeks out and remains uncovered."
The horror! The horror!

The Jewish world is coming apart in so many important ways that WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO, and I'm reading a treatise on why the front of my (former and G"w future) sheitel can't be too flat because it might look too good? Aaaarrrrghhhhh.

Focus people! We ladies are trying to do a really hard mitzvah out there. Please cut us some slack here and for Pete's sake, get help for that OCD.

Two Top Eight Lists

Reasons I Wish I Were Married

1. It took a girlfriend and me three hours to put together a gas grill tonight;
2. Taking out the garbage;
3. Sleeping alone (where "sleeping" is a euphemism);
4. Waking up alone (where "waking up" is a euphemism);
5. Car maintenance;
6. Everticking !#$%&* biological clock;
7. Frumster and SYAS
8. My last date (see above)


Reasons I Thank God Almighty I Am Divorced

1. My bathroom and kitchen are sparkling;
2. My bank account is no longer gasping for air;
3. I bought this bracelet and this watch and no one yelled at me;
4. I don't have to eat meat for dinner seven days a week (or at all);
5. I report to no one and go where I like;
6. If I am lonely, it is because I am alone, not because I am with someone who makes me feel lonely all the time;
7. I am not a slave to housework, yet my house is orderly;
8. I don't have to soak, scrub, and scour my entire body once a month.

Missing Dad

This time of year, I start thinking about my father, ah"s. I lost my father a few years ago and the truth is, I never really recovered from the heartbreak of watching cancer eat him alive. Pretty soon, my siblings and I will go and pay him the mandatory pre-Rosh Hashana kever visit. When he died, I was still married. I wonder if he knows that I am alone now.

Hitting Children

One of my greatest fears about having kids is that I will over-discipline them. I think that many of my friends spoil their kids rotten. Two things annoy the hell outta me: 1) negotiating with a kid - sweetheart, if you take 4 more bites out of your chicken, I'll buy you a toy, etc. You don't negotiate terms with a four year old. You give him his options. Sweetheart, you can finish or you can go to bed hungry. You cannot have pasta for dinner every night. 2) threatening punishment and never delivering. If you don't pick up your game pieces, we are not going to the movies. Take your feet off the table or you will not watch tv tonight. I think kids need to know that you mean what you say. If you don't mean it, don't say it, because you look weak and they know that if they whine/cry enough, they will wear you down. And that's a terrible lesson for them to learn.

I am also a big believer in spanking. Yes. I was spanked. But by spanked, I mean something very specific:
1) never, ever in anger. If you are doing it in anger, don't do it.
2) only with an open hand and only on a kid's bottom. No belts, rulers, hangers, feet or fists. No knuckles, backs, legs, arms or faces. No twisting, tweaking or punching.
3) it should never ever leave a mark or God forbid hurt a kid. No bruises, sprains, broken bones. It should hurt just a little on impact.
4) it should not go on for more than 30 seconds tops.
Spanking teaches a kid that there is going to be a moment of physical pain associated with unacceptable behavior. And children are behavioral creatures, especially when they are very little. If you are three and you run into the street even though Daddy says not to, and you associate a quick swat with that behavior, you probably won't run into the street again. I also think spanking is for little kids; once kids enter the age of chinuch and reason, spanking is inappropriate.

I was babysitting my nephew once when he was two. I was playing with him on the floor of his room and I went into the living room to answer the phone. I was gone about a minute. In that time, he made his way into his parents' bathroom, climbed up on the sink, opened the medicine cabinet, pulled out his Daddy's shaver (which was plugged in) and started winding the cord around his neck and pulling. Then he flipped the shaver on. And when I walked in, he was laughing his cute little head off with that "I know I'm naughty" look on his face. In horror, I grabbed the shaver, unwound him, pulled him off sink, crouched down, looked him square in the eye and with my meanest, most serious aunt face, I said "Ari NO! The shaver is dangerous." He laughed at me. I tried it again. He laughed again and even playfully tried to reach for the electric razor again. I was clearly not getting through but he was so cute. I swept him up, carried him to his room, and swatted him on bottom three times. He wailed. I felt like hell. I said "Ari, no shaver, NO SHAVER!" and left him in his room to cry himself to sleep. As soon as I was out of the room, I burst into tears myself. I love that kid so much and it took so much out of me to spank him. I hated doing it. When I told my sister what happened, she said, "I hope you spanked him for that!" and I told her I did but that I hated it. She said "look WebGirl, sometimes, you have to be hard on a kid in order for them to learn and to be safe."

This afternoon, a friend and I were having a discussion about the Yeshivish world. It wasn't a great debate...we both agreed that the Yeshivish world certainly has its faults...the dogma, the uniform, the closed-mindedness, the lack of mentschlachkeit. We are close to the same age, and he grew up going to black-hat yeshivas and I went to modern ortho ones. But then he told me how the Rebbes in yeshiva inflicted corporal punishment on him. He was slapped, smacked with a ruler, beaten with a windowshade roller, kicked to the ground, for minor infractions like coming late, and ridiculous ones like going to a shoe repair store that had a video game in it (!), bitul zman during mishmar, etc. And this was all accepted as normal in those Yeshivas. My friends, this is not spanking; this is not normal. First of all, physical punishment needs to stop after a certain age (which is around 5 or 6 years old). AND, a teacher cannot hit a kid, period. If a teacher does not know how to discipline a kid without hitting him, he should not be a teacher. I was HORRIFIED. Listening to him describe these episodes brought tears to my eyes. How can this have ever happened? How can the Yeshivish world that I know and respect today have allowed this or worse yet, encouraged this? Olam chessed yibaneh. What the hell is this all about? Does this still go on today in black-hat Yeshivas? OMG, this is Yiddishkeit? NO!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Estimated Taxes


Are you self employed? Read this to see if you need to pay quarterly taxes.

Now you can pay those evil estimated taxes online, by clicking on EFTPS.gov. See you on September 17th...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Love? Nah.


Had an interesting conversation with a friend tonight. It's not a conversation that I haven't had a million times before, but maybe it's starting to finally make a dent in me because it has stayed with me. My friend Shmuel is frum and divorced, like me, and has been going out with his girlfriend for a few months. So I rib him about getting engaged to her and of course, he sweats bullets. So we start ruminating on the nature of love, soulmates and what the hell this whole relationship thing is all about. Like I said, it's not a conversation that I haven't had before.

When you've been married and divorced, and you know what the interior of a marriage feels like, you feel a weird dichotomy. You want very much to be inside the comfort of a marriage again, but you are afraid of being in the stifling, mediocrity that marriage can sometimes become. You want your marriage to be perpetually passionate, not just physically, but in its entirety. And you are in a real terror of making a mistake. How realistic is this? Probably not very. What's it like to go through life with your bashert, your soulmate? What if you find him and you don't marry him? Does lightning strike only once? I'm not 17 and I know that romantic love is fleeting. So what is passion? When I think about wanting my life to have fire, it's not just that physical fire that I crave, it's that intangible quality that I want so much.

What's it like to go through life with someone who isn't your soumate? Now that scares the hell outta me the most. But when I got married, I was very clear that the man I married wasn't. He was just a good man whom I loved.

I hate navigating these damn waters by myself.

More Free: MyPoints

Are you working in a profession where you are online most of the day? Why not get free things for doing nothing? I have been a MyPoints member for the last few years, and just by clicking through emails and shopping through their links (stuff I was buying anyway), I have gotten over $750 in gift cards. Literally.

The great thing about MyPoints is that they are reputable. While most of these point programs will fill up your emailbox with spam, MyPoints won't. I would still use a gmail address when you sign up.

When you sign up through this link, I get $2 per referral.

Piggybanking

I don't like depriving myself. No one does. When I'd like to buy something and it falls somewhere between "too expensive" and "it won't really kill me to buy it," I will work out a way to purchase it without completely blowing my budget.

Here's something I actually learned from my Mom. I'll call it "piggybanking." My Mom used to squirrel away a buck here, a buck there in three or four designated hiding places around the house. We had a ceramic rooster that was always stuffed with ones and quarters and a drawer with a little compartment in the back that always had a couple of dollars in it. Whenever my parents wanted to take us kids out for Carvel or I needed trip money for school or some other little expense, it came out of those "banks."


Today, I am always squirreling away a little cash here and there. I used to do that when I was married and over the course of five years, I had several hundred dollars in little nooks and crannies all over the place. It was not money that we missed and if I hadn't piggybanked it, we would have probably absorbed it into the Money Sponge that was our checking account.

On a larger scale, I take a few side jobs that don't pay my rent or any of my other expenses. These are jobs that I absolutely do not need to do. Some of them are not related to my main profession, i.e. the other day, someone paid me to do some fancy embroidery on some hand towels...stupid things like that. At a very tough point in my marriage where money for extras was very tight, I started buying $5 pocketbooks at Walmart and embellishing them with trim and pretty fabric and reselling them on Ebay for $85. I piggybanked that money too. That is the money I spend on fun stuff, the stuff that falls between "too much" and "not gonna kill me."

Everyone should do a little piggybanking. It's important to be able to treat yourself every now and then, guilt-free.

Losing It

Losing weight has proven to be an interesting challenge at this age. It is definitely coming off much more slowly than, say, in my twenties. I have been exercising my brains out and following a new eating regimen (as opposed to dieting). I've been "frontloading" my meals, eating a big breakfast and lunch and almost no dinner. Not eating at night is a killer for me but it's one of the few things that works. I've also cut sweets completely out until I reach a certain goal, which makes me a little sad.

Don't worry, chocolate. I'll be back.

Why am I doing this? Because a) I want my pre-marital body back b) guys like slim girls c) as the Ferocious Forties loom scarily on the horizon, I want to hold on to my health d) I want to do more. It's hard to do fun athletic things when you're fat. I want to hike without wheezing.

I'm obsessing much more on the exercise portion of my weight loss program rather than the diet, and I wonder if this is a mistake. I'm fascinated to see changes in my body, i.e. instead of my upper arms doing the "flap thing," I can actually see a little definition. Weird.

So I'd rather not post weight and measurement, etc. but let's just say that if my journey to health and losing weight is a number line marked 1 to 10, I'm probably at point 2. At point 4, I'm eating a Hershey's kiss. Go ahead and judge me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Do You Like Free Things?

I like Free Things and I have actually done ALL of the following. So they work. Scoffing at $100 here, $25 there? Not counting free samples, I have collected ~$1,200 in signup bonuses this year. Most are taxable, but I'll take that.

  • Click here for a $25 bonus for opening a 5.05% Savings Account on Etrade. Fine print: $25 will be credited to your Complete Savings Account within 30 days of the account being funded with a minimum deposit of $1. Payments will be reported as interest income. Accounts must be opened by 8/31/2007 to quality for the $25 offer. Must be a new account opened with new funds. Offer applies to one new account per customer. Not good with any other offer. This offer is not valid for E*TRADE FINANCIAL employees.
  • Click here for a $25/$50 bonus for opening a Wachovia account. $25 for opening, additional $25 for a direct deposit.
  • Click here for a free Ipod Shuffle, just for applying for a Discover Card and making one purchase with it.
  • Click here for a free Ipod Nano, just for opening a new Keybank Checking account.
  • Free Folgers Gourmet coffee sample. (Warning: music plays on this site.)
  • Free Dove Hair care sample.
  • Free Pantene sample.
  • Free Walmart samples.
  • Free Ipod (yes, for real and legit) when you open a Keybank account.
  • Free Dove sample.

Life and Money

How long will you live? Run this calculator. According to this, I'm living to 87, bs"D. Or I will get hit by a truck tomorrow, cv"s.

So you have enough saved for retirement? Run this calculator. I will run out of money when I'm 80.

Time to marry rich. Heh.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Classic


While I was on YouTube today, I clicked to my old favorite from last year: the amazing OK Go Treadmill video. OK Go is one of my favorite bands...they are relentlessly athletic, in-your-face gaudy, and their music is clever, funny, and rockpoppy. How did they coordinate this thing? Love this.

LMAO

I know this has been out for a few months, but I can't stop laughing (or singing along): "I Can Be Your Facebook Stalker..."

Note to Self

Dear Self,

Please remember the following about guys on Frumster:

  1. if you catch them in a lie, chances are they are lying. Don't make excuses for them in your head;
  2. if they seem to steer the conversation/chat/email chain towards the topic of sex every time, run for the hills;
  3. if they talk incessantly about infidelity, they are simultaneously talking to many other girls on Frumster;
  4. if they seem too good to be true, they are. Not true.
  5. if they complain that most girls on Frumster are gold-diggers they are most probably unemployed.
Best Regards,

Self

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gelt

So here's where anonymity is helpful in allowing me to say some very un-PC things I'd be loathe to admit if you knew who I was.

I like money. I love capitalism and free markets. Sue me. I am very fortunate and grateful to God in that I work in an industry that allows me to be creative and still earn a comfortable six-figure income.
I used to work in the financial industry and I learned a lot about investing and finance. I also pay attention when wealthy, clever people say things, and I ask a lot of questions. I am open to learning smart new ways of building wealth. I think blogs like this one are brilliant. I think everyone should learn the basics of finance.

I like that I can afford funky Dooney & Bourke handbags and this bracelet and working out with a personal trainer. I couldn't do any of this when I was married because my workaholic, control-freak husband wouldn't let me be involved in our finances and was a miserable money manager.

To those of you who are now mentally putting me down for being shallow and materialistic, I will proudly tell you that this year I am able to give close to 15% of my net income to charity. Yes. I like making money, buying things and giving tzedakah. They all make me feel unabashedly good about myself. I work very hard for my money. I drink a lot of coffee and don't sleep as much I should. But I'm not a classic workaholic. I will take the day off to go to the beach or to help my parents or take my niece to the movies, and if I am ever blessed with kids I will slow my work down to a grinding halt. I work now because it makes me feel connected and empowered.


Over the course of the blog, I am going to talk about some things that I do to either spend less or make more. I don't understand why the whole world doesn't do these things, if they can. Here's the first one:

FNBO Direct is an online bank that currently offers a savings account that yields a 6% apy, compounded monthly. Sure, it's an introductory rate until the end of September, but they have been known to extend their rates, and even after the rate expires, they offer very competitive 5%+ rates. They are legal, safe and FDIC insured. It takes between five and ten minutes to open an account. No minimum deposit on the account and you can withdraw your money or close the account at any time. You can hook up this account to three external bank accounts, which enables easy transfer and savings. What is the downside here? Why would you keep your money in a regular 2%er savings account? That's stupid stupid stupid. Do the math. Tell me the truth: don't you like money too?

Jewcy Chinuch? Oy.

I'm not sure how I feel about this article. I think I like it. It took me 5 years of living in a community outside of New York to learn just how Jewishly uneducated the secular Jewish world really is. And yet, here in NY, we continue to argue about whether or not the Internet is kosher, about bugs in the water, about nonsense, and the Jewish world at large is drowning in a quagmire of ignorance and assimilation. Yes, I know God is in the details, I know, I really do, and I still check my lettuce and worry over all sorts of halachic minutiae. But we've lost our focus. How can we be a light onto the nations when we don't give a damn about ourselves? We New Yorker frummies don't seem to understand that most Jews don't know squat about Judaism, or at least, we don't seem to find this alarming. We are a sinking ship, my brothers and sisters.

Memory Almost Full


The new Paul McCartney album, Memory Almost Full, is wonderful. My favorite so far: Dance Tonight.

Funny how technology has completely reshaped my purchasing habits. I didn't even bother buying the cd; I just downloaded the whole thing from Itunes.

Paul McCartney is a great example of a classic rock & roller who has aged gracefully and whose talent in songwriting has stood the test of time. David Bowie is another. I don't really feel like they've gotten old...they have evolved and they are not relics and they don't annoy me. Mick Jagger, now HE annoys me.

Organizational Ego

I went to a Modern Orthodox yeshiva high school in the New York Metro area. I get mail from them every other month or so, always asking for money. I happen to know that they are a pretty wealthy yeshiva (I was a scholarship kid). Why don't they use their mailing list for something else, like an Israel fund, or even a scholarship fund?

I served on the board of a yeshiva day school in a community outside of NY a few years ago. They viewed themselves as a "community school." Sure, they solicited for themselves, but they also sent mailings that showed that they cared for the Jewish world at large.

Why is the Jewish Communal New York world so narcissistic? I miss living in a real community.

Waaaah.....My Fellow Jews Won't (sob) Embrace My Intermarriage

Noah Feldman needs to get a life.

Stupid and Groggy

"The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected. The commonplace person begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marvelling how he has escaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions."
-E.M. Forster, from Room With A View
Why are musicians such hot tamales? I'm a pretty smart girl, but I get all stupid when I see or hear a guy playing or singing well.

About a month or two after my divorce, I hooked up with someone from Frumster who was very, very wrong for me. Mr. Wrong was a liar and very bad news. Of course, who knew this when I was dating Mr. Wrong? Not me. Mr. Wrong wasn't exactly handsome or super-smart. But Mr. Wrong played the guitar. And sang like Paul McCartney. When he whipped out that guitar, I turned to mush. And yeah, he worked that.

Very recently, I became friendly with a Safe Guy. He's got a girlfriend and is also going through some stuff that makes it clear he is not settling down too soon. He's one of those smart people that has made himself so chronically self-aware, he has missed the basics. I had no problem thinking about him plutonically. Until.

Until I saw him playing the piano. Then, OMG, I got a little hot under the collar. He was so intense, so focused and so (don't laugh) rhythmic. I watched his arms and hands moving around those keys and boy, he got me bothered. Damn.

What is it about a musician that turns me around and makes me all stupid and groggy? Hell, what is it about certain music that makes me all stupid and groggy? And why do I like being stupid and groggy so much?

Safe Men

These last few weeks, I have been forming new relationships with "safe" guys: guys much younger, guys with serious girlfriends, guys much less religious, guys much more religious, etc. I have been really enjoying myself with them, opening up and being all chatty and flirty and happygirl. I have gotten together with a few and had a grand time, doing fun "regular" things like movies or sushi or biking. A couple I've just gotten to know over the phone or online and I'm able to talk to them in such frank, honest, direct ways. It feels great. These guys all have a few things in common: they are very smart, they are funny, they are warm and they are absolutely unattainable and uninterested in me romantically, and I don't give a damn.

And then...

And then I go on a shidduch date. A Frumster thing or (God help me) a Saw You at Sinai setup. And suddenly, the other WebGirl comes out, the closed, guarded, anxious, beaten down WebGirl that graduated from the University of Deadness that was my marriage. Uch. That WebGirl is snotty, full of herself, and depressing. And ugly. Inside and out. And you know what's weird? The guys always seem to want to go out again, which says a lot about the state of frum dating today.

You don't need to be a shrink to figure this one out, huh.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stupid Finance

Why is it that such smart people are so stupid about money? My friend Sarah has worked for the same company for twelve years and never (yes) contributed to their 401(k) plan. Why? She doesn't want her money to be "untouchable." She thinks that if she puts money into a retirement plan, she won't have access to it.

Sarah.

Do I need to point out why this is incredibly dumb? Ok, I will.

1) You have other money to use. The idea behind saving is that you designate some money not-usable and not-touchable for some period of time.

2) You are leaving money on the table. By not taking advantage of your company's matching plan, you are saying to your company....nah, don't give me any free money. Why do I need free money?

3) Chances are, if you are doing this, you are probably not investing your money either. It is probably sitting in a 2% savings account. If your money is not working for you, you will not build any sort of wealth whatsover.

Oy. This is just beyond stupid. And yet so many smart people I know do dumb things in personal finance. What is that? They don't like money?

Senior Dating

I knew dating would be ahem, challenging, when I got divorced. Heck, it was a challenge even before I got married. For some reason, I remember enjoying it more back then. I'm probably eulogizing.

The guys I've dated recently mostly seem to be
old. What do I mean by this? They dress older, they talk older (medical conditions anyone?), they act older. Dates are all dinner and coffee...no more shooting pool or riding bikes. What happened to the fun first dates of my twenties? My dating pool seems to have crossed into a different zone, and I am not ready to be there yet. Maybe it's a sign of immaturity that I need to be dragged kicking and screaming into my forties, but I don't wanna go. Please don't make me go. I want the next Mr. WebGirl to make me feel deceptively younger, not older.

Blogs, blogs, everywhere and not a drop to read.

There are so many great and not-so-great blogs out there and I hate to add to the glut, but a girl's gotta sing.

I am going to at least start out this blog anonymously, and try not to lie too much to protect my anonymity. If some of you figure out who I am based on what I do reveal, round of applause for you, Sherlock. I am a Modern Orthodox Jewish thirty-something living in a quiet little corner of the New York Metropolitan area. I'm a native New York girl, but I spent the last few years living in the Wild West, and I've only recently come back East. I work in a great, high-paying and creative profession that requires me to be online most of the working day. My current outer life is rather dull by choice. I am so very, very tired. My inner life, well....that is something entirely different....

Here is what we will talk about today, class, or at least if not today, someday real soon, promise:

1) The three Ds.
Divorce.
Dating.
Detachment.

Divorce. I got divorced at the end of 2006 after a five plus years very sad marriage. I never thought I'd be here. I thought I'd be happily married (or at least as happily as everyone else) raising a brood of snot-faced rugrats by now. But it was not meant to be.

Dating. This is, at the very least, a challenge. There are not many plum catches in my age-appropriate religious level right now. I am being very, very sarcastic. Most frum guys in their early forties who are out there right now have, shall we say, an issue or two. Or perhaps it's me with all the issues. I am searching for the next Mr. WebGirl.

Detachment. I am having a hard time feeling things the way I used to. Just when I think I approach some ripples inside, I hear doors slamming and it goes away. I know this will pass, and I know this is a direct result of having gone through some sad stuff. I am not depressed; I just don't feel connected anymore. This in itself doesn't bother me. Not caring that I don't feel connected, that does bother me.

2) The three M's
Money.
Music.
Modern Orthodoxy.

Money. I am only recently starting to manage my money again, and trying to get back on my feet and build some wealth has given me an enormous feeling of empowerment. Being online all day helps; I can watch my investments closely and scout around for interesting little ways to feather my nest.

Music. I love music. It makes me very, very happy.

Modern Orthodoxy. Being a Modern Ortho Jewgal in the 21st century comes with many challenges.

3) Finally, the three F's.
Family.
Fitness.
Fire.

Family. Ah, the joys of dealing with parents, siblings, cousins, etc. each one nuttier than the next. But I love em.

Fitness. I gained some weight over the last few years of my miserable marriage and now that I am on my own again, I have decided I WILL NOT BE FAT. More than that, I crave health. Time to get moving.

Fire. What do I mean by fire? Maybe this is related to detachment or maybe I should have called this "feeling" or even "frozen." I want my life to mean something; I want to get some chemical reactions going, some fiery SOMETHING. I want to light a fire under myself and make a difference. I need fire.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Nuthin

So I wasn't as conscientious about posting to this blog as I'd thought I'd be, but what the heck, it's been busy. Writing a blog that's going to be honest and interesting is hard because if it will truly be honest, I need to preserve my anonymity. That means I can't tell you exactly what I do or other identifiers. Not so easy. Let's give it a try.