Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two things I have to get off my chest

1. My roommate, who is also recently divorced, seems to think I am her husband. No, not in that way, thank you very much. She'll come into my room and pointedly say stuff like "we need to buy ant traps at Home Depot" or "we need to drag the trash to the curb on time." I'll think to myself "thanks for sharing, but why are you telling me?" I feel like when something around the house needs to get done, just do it. I do. We are both adults. Why am I suddenly the one who needs to buy ant traps or drag the trashcans? I would also like someone to "be my husband" and change my damn lightbulbs, stomp on bugs, etc. but I suck it up and do it myself.

2. My personal trainer has horrible, horrible taste in music. She plays horrific stuff while we are working out, stuff with no melody, nauseating lyrics, bangy percussion, electro-Euro-dreck, just ichy, miserable rhythmic crap. As godawful as the workout music is, the warm-down music is even worse. Mariah Carey, Celine Dion....I would rather warm-down to nails scratching on a blackboard. And my trainer is so relentlessly bubbly and perky, I just want to slap her silly. For the most part, I hate working out. I hate lifting weights and I hate doing bicycle crunches. I am doing this because I hate being fat more and I am terrified of being old and flabby and unhealthy. I have made it clear to her that though I value her services, I wish she weren't constantly trying to cheer me up. The only way I will like working out is if she serves me french fries while we do it.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Thanks for listening.

Crosspost

Come visit my little Frumster rant on NJG's great blog, Attention Frumster Shoppers.

Smart, but does he live on this planet?

My friend set me up with a new guy, Rick. I spoke to Rick on the phone tonight. He is, to say the least, different. Rick is off the IQ charts. Rick is brilliant. Freakin' brilliant. He is the most well-read, learned, scholarly guy I have ever been set up with. I kinda like that.

Now the question is, can Rick be human? While I'm no dummy, I'm not in any way off the the charts. I like to talk about stupid, mundane things too. And I certainly have my well-nourished immature side.

I'm a little concerned about Rick's seeming inability to hold a conversation without footnotes.

But it's early. I'm intrigued. No fire yet, but I'm definitely getting my matches ready, and I really hope he calls me again soon. We're going out next weekend. More then.

P.S. I saw his picture and he's sorta cute. Not GQ, but definitely masculine and fit. So: cute and smart. I'm gonna run with this a little.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

75 Days to Go

I just watched the trailer for the upcoming 7th season of 24, or as a fellow addict puts it, "24, the Shmitah Year." It looks SO good, I'm hyperventilating. They are bringing back (from the dead?) Tony Alameda, for starters. That alone will be worth the wait. Horror of horrors though, AirAmerica blabbermouth Janeane Garofalo is going to be playing an FBI agent (??!!??). What were they thinking? Uch. On the upside, if they make her character a Jack Bauer love interest (like he could ever date a Liberal), we get the pleasure of seeing her, well, go the way of all Jack Bauer love interests, meaning, bye bye Janeane. We can only hope. Plotline spoiler: CTU is gone, but never fear because Chloe O'Brian and Bill Buchanan are still around to help save the world from itself and the Bad Guys.

Well, in Jack We Trust. So starting January 13th and onward, don't call me Monday nights.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yeah baby!

This cockatoo can rock. Do it, bird. Hot.

Conformity's Lament

Guest-posted by Nice Jewish Guy:

(Subdivisions)

In our High School Halls

In our shopping malls

Conform or be cast out

(Subdivisions)

In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out

-Rush, Subdivisions

"Conformity is an obsession with me." -George Costanza, Seinfeld


I'm about half way through reading Shalom Auslander's latest work, Foreskin's Lament. For those of you living under a literary rock, Auslander is the Philip Roth-esque writer of "ex-frum" fiction and nonfiction. He shares the genre with Nathan Englander, but Auslander's writing is much more bitingly funny and satirical. His latest book explores his dysfunctional relationship with God, fueled by a dysfunctional relationship with his parents, as he expects the birth of a son-- whom he wonders whether or not to circumcise. Rather than being an atheist or one who turns his back on God and forgets Him, Auslander can't stop obsessing about God, even as he abandons observance. To him God waits vengefully around every corner, at every traffic intesection, and at every prenatal doctor's visit. Auslander grew up ultra-frum in Spring Valley and Monsey, and manifests the axiom that, "you can take the boy out of frumkeit, but you can't take the frumkeit out of the boy". Unfortunately, what's left in Auslander is only the guilt. His book's title refers to his view of himself as a metaphorical foreskin, cut off and cast out from Judaism.

The book resonates because it's authentic; Auslander shows us the inside of a chareidi world from the perspective of a native. I also spent time in chareidi yeshivas. His descriptions of black-robed and long-bearded Yiddish-speaking rebbeim, and the tunnel vision suffusing the overall chareidi Yeshiva culture ring true. I also wonder where I'd stand today if my childhood was as difficult as his was.

One hallmark of chareidi culture is conformity. One need only look as far as the local kollel-- Sh'or Yoshuv, Lakewood, Ner Yisrael-- to see that this is evident in how they dress. The uniform is black or blue pants, white shirt. Tzitzis out, black velvet kippah (no srugies or leather, Heaven forbid!), Borsalino or Stetson hat-- the wider the brim the better-- and sometimes payos tucked behind the ear. When I was in Yeshiva, in beis medrash, even the car you drove spoke to your ability to conform: the "in" car was usually an American 4-door sedan, like a Chevy Caprice or Mercury Grand Marquis, or if you weren't as shtotty, a Buick or a Ford. Me, I drove a 1975 Plymouth two-door with no FM radio, no A/C, or power anything. But I digress.

Chaim G., guest-posting on DovBear, talks about the cruelty of S'dom (Sodom), and mentions the well-known Talmud in Sanhedrin 109B that discussed what exactly the Sodomites' sins were.

”and they had a bed. They’d ask wayfarers to ‘climb in’. If the guest was too
long (i.e. tall) they would (surgically) shorten him.(decapitate him or
amputate his feet) if the guest was too short they would (surgically) lengthen
him.(stretch him on a rack until his bones broke).
(Interestingly, he points out that this closely parallels the Greek myth of Procrustes and his famous bed, and makes one wonder which story came first. But no matter.)

He states that whether this practice actually occurred or not (and the likelihood is that it is metaphorical), the real sin of the Sodomites was forcing people to conform. That kind of social pressure exerted on contemporaries is cruel; people are individuals, and by forcing people to mold themselves into someone else's box sacrifices some of their humanity. In Orthodox Judaism, whether its a mode of dress, a nusach of tefillah, or minhagim, differences in one's "style" can have serious social consequences; and this is nowhere more starkly obvious than shidduchim/dating. True, this is more of an issue with the younger and never-married population, but I believe that problems with younger shidduchim often cause a secondary shidduch crisis-- the divorce crisis-- later down the road.

I rather like this interpretation of the Bed of Sdom (or Procrustes, for that matter)- it goes deeper than just physical cruelty. Let's face it, people have been physically torturing one another since there were other people on the planet to torture; murder and torture, while evil, don't seem to merit special Biblical treatment. Psychosocial mischief, on the other hand, seems to be regarded by God differently. We are taught that the Noahide generation was flooded out of existence because of cheating, lying, and stealing, rather than mere physical violence- and it can be argued that the former begets the latter.

We as a people would do well to learn to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities- so that we can all learn to live together in harmony: Yeshivish with kippah sruggie, Chasid with misnagid, shtreimel with spudik, and white tablecloth and china on the Shabbos table with placemat and plasticware.

Friday, October 26, 2007

In search of the perfect pair...

of boots.

I love boots. As soon as I put my summer espadrille tie-ups in the storage closet, I put on boots and spend the whole winter in them. I have at least 5 pairs, snow boots, rain boots, everyday boots, dressy boots and perfect boots. Yes, I already own the perfect pair, but they are two years old, and are due to be put out to pasture and replaced. Ladies, you know which ones I mean. I am looking for a pair that comes up very high, right up to my knees, and hugs my calves pretty tight. I want something with at least a two inch heel but not as high as three (two, two 1/2=elegant; three=slutty). I want a narrow toe, but not pointy (again, elegant vs. slutty), gorgeous, supple black leather, and no ornamentation. The perfect pair.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I got dumped. (Except we weren't going out?)

The phone rang this morning.

9:45 am.

Guy: Hey!
WebGirl: Hey!
Guy: smalltalksmalltalksmalltalk.
WG: I gotta go. My trainer will be here in ten. Can I call you later?
Guy: Well, I wanted to talk to you about something.
WG: Can it keep? My trainer will here in ten.
Guy: It's kinda important.
WG: Ok, but my trainer will here in ten. If it's important, I don't wanna rush. Call you back?
Guy: Can we just do this now?
WG: I don't...
Guy: I just want to ask you, how do you think it went yesterday?
WG: I think it went well. I had fun. (pause, instinctively starting to protect myself) I take it you didn't?
Guy: No I think it was fun too except for the sucky weather.
WG: Yeah, the weather.
(Pause) (Pause) (Pause)
WG: So....
(Pause) (Pause)
Guy: So I think we should start seeing other people.
WG: (speechless, but not for the reason you think).
Guy: I wasn't sure how to say that to you.
WG: Um. Okay.
Guy: Oh. I thought we could talk about things a little more.
WG: My trainer will be here in five. I can't talk about things right now.
Guy: This is kinda important.
WG: Can I call you back at 11? That's when the session is over. I'll even call you before I shower.
(Pause, pause)
WG: Look, I gotta go. I want to talk to you more, but I really do have to go. I will call you the minute my trainer leaves. Okay?
Guy: Fine.

11:04 am. I call back.

WG: Hey!
Guy: Hey.
WG: Why are you mad?
Guy: I'm not mad.
WG: Ok, you are, but I'm going to pretend you're not. Look, I have to be very honest with you. I don't know how else to be.
Guy: K.
WG: When you said you wanted to see other people...
Guy: I'm just not sure I want to continue to see you exclusively
WG: See that's the thing...
Guy: I like you a lot, but I'm not sure I want to go to the next level.
WG: Next level? Can we take a step back here. I just...
Guy: talkingtalkingtalkingtalking
WG: PLEASE hold on for a second. Please.
Guy: I just need to get this out.
WG: LOOK. I didn't know we weren't seeing other people.
Guy: What?
WG: I didn't think we were seeing each other exclusively.
Guy: We've gone out 8 times.
WG: (thinking, scrambling, doing the math: We have? We have not! We have?) I know but we never talked about this.
Guy: 8 times means you're not seeing anyone else. I mean, are you in this for the fun or for tachlis?
WG: Well, I guess I didn't realize we'd gone out that much.
Guy: What!
WG: That came out wrong. I meant, well, usually, when I decide to see someone exclusively, it's because we have a talk about where things are going and then we mutually decide to see each other exclusively.
Guy: Have you gone out with other guys?
WG: Well. (Deciding whether to lie. Deciding not to.) No one special. But I've been dating here and there. I'm not going to lie to you.
Guy: You know what, forget it. You're not taking me seriously and I don't need this. I just want to tell you this was really disrespectful.
WG: Whu? Huh? Wait!
Guy: (SLAM)
WG: (thinking: did this just happen?)

I'm still a little blown away by this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My keyboard bought the farm

I purchased my black Micro wireless computer keyboard about three years ago. Over the last year, the labels on the keys a, s, d, e, c, r, backspace and enter have become completely worn down to the point of total erasure. (What am I over-typing? SAD CARE? DECREASE? CRASS DEAR? SEED RACE?) I have probably spilled the equivalent of 18 cups of coffee, forty cans of Diet Coke with caffeine, and 5 gallons of Poland Spring into the keys. The v key has always stuck. And still my keyboard persevered. While I am borderline OCD about protecting my hard drive, I don't sweat the small stuff, like stupidly dumping beverages into computer peripherals, because they are so cheap and manufacturers come out with slicker, more efficient versions of everything each year.

But I think I grew attached to my worn out keyboard, with its missing letters and sticky vee and its stubborn will to live; got used to it like a broken-in pair of Nikes. I know that's a little funny, but I'm a funny girl. Finally this evening, after coming home from The World's Longest Day Date Ever in the History of the Universe, I settled in to deal with my work messages, and my keyboard went bipolar on me. The d key typed n, the y key typed a comma, the g key skipped four spaces and then spat out its g. Etc. It was wild. I checked to see that all my settings were okay, logged in, logged out, hard-rebooted twice, but alas, my keyboard was CRAZY, man, and then it choked and well, baruch Dayan emet. I had finally killed my poor, tired keyboard with its sticky vee. So sad. (SAD CARE?)

I raced out to Radio Shack to grab me a new one before my boss had an aneurysm, and I got a sleeker, more ergonomic wireless Logitech. It's purty. And cheaper. And what was the first thing I did once I got the shiny new thing talking to my computer? I spilled a little mint tea (I have a sore throat) on the number pad. And so it begins.

I can't bring myself to throw out my old keyboard yet...that'll be tomorrow, maybe. It's not going to be easy to say goodbye to my old friend.

SAD CARE. DECEASED.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Facebook and LinkedIn

I am so addicted to Facebook and LinkedIn.

I recently became active on these sites. Through them, I reconnected to:

1) an old girlfriend from college who transfered out to Harvard junior year and is now a marine biologist in Marin county, L.. We spoke on the phone for three hours last night. What do I have in common with this girl? Absolutely less than nothing, but we have so so much to say to each other. I just love this person. In college, we were inseparable and got into a LOT of trouble together. It's funny, you would never put us together...she's not Jewish, not religious, very very outdoorsy, liberal, blond, does yoga, parties likes its 1999, into the environment....but we have such an easy friendship. Got me thinking about my approach to meeting men....maybe I am looking for love in all the wrong places? Next time I am in California, L. and I are going to hang.

2) an old mentor of mine, A., who was my manager on the first job that I ever held in the profession related to the one I am in now. Turns out he is a VP at a very hot firm on Wall Street and said that any time I was interested in returning to the Street, I had a job with him. Wow! And, sugar on top, he thought of a guy for me.

3) an ex-boyfriend from eight years ago who hired me to do a little freelance work for him. Easy job, an extra three thousand dollars that I didn't have before. I haven't spoken to this guy since our breakup. I barely remember going out with him.

4) an old intern of mine, R. from a previous job, ten years ago. He's an Indian guy, very sweet and introverted when he worked for me. I hired him because I thought he was smart and clever, even though everyone else on my team thought he was nerdy and shy and wore funny clothes and my teammates all fought me on R.'s hiring. We got together for coffee and caught up. R. is now a CFO (!!!) at a Wall St. firm, married and oozing confidence (and money) and wearing $2,000 suits. I am so proud of him and what he has done with his life. He told me I was the first person to hire him out of college and take him under my wing and he would never forget that. I never thought of him that way, but it felt great to hear it. Karma.

Brilliant sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are supposed to be networking sites to enable you to form lucrative future connections. It's funny...for me, they have been all about the past. I had a really good past, punctuated by really good people. I often forget that, given that my future seems a little bleak sometimes.

The Wisdom of Crowds, or 4+3=852

Okay, so here are some thoughts that aren't really fully formed yet.

This year, the Shabbos Shuva drasha in my synagogue was about prayer. The Rabbi was very articulate. Among many other things he discussed was the power of communal prayer. He pointed out that one of the many benefits of davening in a shul vs davening at home was the "merit of the kehilla"....in other words, the collective prayer of a group can be greater than each of the prayers of the individuals belonging to the group. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the power of the minyan.

Every yeshiva kid learns this in grade school...the power of the klal outweighing the power of the individuals that compose it. I have always found this to be counterintuitive. How can a group hold more sway than the individuals belonging to the group? Let's say, you had a group of runners, ranging from not-so-great to unbelievably-good. The average running stats for the group will always be less than the unbelievably-good runners, by definition, right? So then how can a collective be more powerful than all the individuals belonging to it? Does this apply to even the strongest individuals in the group? If Joe is davening in a group, and on some hypothetical spiritual rating, Joe is on the spiritual high end of the group, wouldn't the collective tefilos in the group bring Joe down? Wouldn't Joe's own prayer be much stronger without being "watered down" by others who are lower down on the spiritual scale?

I'm listening to a GREAT audiobook on my Ipod now, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. His thesis is that groups of people are generally much smarter than each of the individuals in that group, including the smartest people in the group. He gives example after example of groups outdoing individual group members, in decision-making, in answering difficult questions, and in resolving dilemmas where there was very little data available to help reach a solution. He gives a wide range of documented examples where collective intelligence consistently outdid the intelligence of even the most extraordinarily bright individuals belonging to the group. This is another phenomenon where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I find this idea so counterintuitive. And yet, it bears out scientifically. It's one of the strongest rationales behind the idea of a democratic society, where everyone gets a vote, no matter how ill-qualified we might think them to make decisions. Society as a whole is smarter than the sum of its parts.

I'm still listening to the audiobook. This is one of those books you read that makes you wish you could talk to the author.

More to come as I digest this stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Attention Frumster Shoppers


Nice Jewish Guy (whoever the heck he is) and I are mixing it up and swapping blogs for a post or so. It's not really a fair swap...my four and a half readers to his 27,000 or so, but what the hell; we're bored. So look for an honored guestblog post here soon. Now, what shall I write on Frumster Shoppers? Something really different.... Maybe I should brush up on my haikus. Be afraid. Be very afraid. (Kidding NJG. Really.)

The Next Mr. WebGirl is:


Who am I looking for?

It is coming up on nearly a year since my divorce. I have dissected my divorce and my marriage ad nauseum. I was out of love with my ex long before the ink was dry on my get. I have been making excuse after excuse...I need to lose weight; I need to recoup financially; I need to get used to being with other men; I need to get used to being single; I need I need I need....everything and anything but face the fact that I am no closer to where I need to be to find the next Mr. WebGirl. I work 12 hours a day with my Ipod strapped on so that I don't have to think and then when I feel lonely, I go out with girlfriends or safe guys. I have been filling my whole year up with girlfriends and safe guys. When I go on dates, I am a robot. A charming, animated robot. I am frozen solid inside.

"What are you looking for?" My close friends sincerely try to set me up, introduce me to people who might know people etc. etc. My Frumster and SYAS profiles are pathetic and shallow; I routinely reject guys I meet through them, mostly out of terror or pickiness or Idunnowhatanymore. What am I looking for, indeed. He's got to be religious but modern, but not too modern, but not Yeshivish, but he's got to learn, but he's got to work and have his act together, and I prefer someone divorced because he'll understand what I went through, but not a lot of baggage or a lot of children or a wacko ex-wife, and he's got to want to leave NY but understand that I can't leave right now, and he's got to want kids and he has to be smart but not overly analytical and he has to be kind and giving and appreciate me but still have an edge to him and he has to he has to he has to.....it's endless and I listen to myself whine and prattle and say the STUPIDEST things ever and I can only come to one conclusion:

I have no freakin idea what the heck I want. I am so scared. How did I get here? OMG.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why I Am Not Chassidish

I can't tell you how incredibly blown away I am by this article by Rabbi Manis Friedman.

It basically says that children who are not conceived naturally, specifically mentioning IVF/assisted reproduction, are somehow spiritually defective or deficient in some way.

Let me deviate for a moment by saying that the fact that this article is offensive and insulting to the thousands of parents who conceive via assisted reproduction is not enough. I don't mind when a Jewish writer/speaker/leader/Rav goes off the beaten path and says something that is not Politically Correct. If we describe something as not PC, we generally imply that while it is not popular and may offend a minority, it is probably at least partially true and we even assign possible courage to the speaker for having the guts to say it. What Rabbi Friedman said certainly was not PC. Yes, it offended.

But it's much more than that. It's horrible. It's wrong.

Rabbi Friedman takes leaps in halachic logic and exegesis. He quotes the Talmud as saying that a child whose parents did not want to conceive him or were distracted at the time of his conception or were not in love with their partners might be spiritually harmed in some way. He extrapolates from this that if a lack of proper intent in a conception that involved physical intimacy yields a spiritually deficient child, kal va'chomer, a conception that doesn't involve any physical intimacy must be even worse for the child. Oy. Where do I begin?

Could it be that the Talmud was saying that it is better for parents to conceive their children in love? It is! Could it be that the Talmud was saying that it is better when parents want to conceive than when they don't? That it is better for parents to be in love with each other, to want to have children with each other, to try to make every physical union good and wholesome and aimed at procreation? That the children of unions like this will be better off than products of unloving, unwanted unions? Ah, what a wonderful world it could be....

The Talmud had it right! It is great and ideal to have all of these things going on. May every mikvah night in klal Yisroel be like a wedding night. May frustration and performance anxiety and marital discord become things of the past. May every husband be like a chosson and every wife be like a kallah, all the days of their marriage. I MEAN THIS.

But, is it like this? I mean, I had an unhappy marriage, so I can't judge this properly, but IS IT LIKE THIS? All you happily married couples out there, swimming in children, is it heaven on earth every single solitary time you and the spouse get together? Are you never thinking about work? Is you never just letting off of some tension? Is it sometimes done out of guilt? Are you never distracted? Are you completely focused on your spouse and never thinking of something/someone else? Was each and every one of your kids conceived in pure love, the height of emotional intimacy? Did you ever have any "little surprises" perhaps? And so, the $64,000 question, are any of your kids spiritually deficient because of this?

Let's jump to the Tanach. Let's look at the origin of Dovid HaMelech, the ancestor of Mashiach. Did Yehudah have complete kavanah when he laid with Tamar, thinking at the time that she was a harlot? Hmmm. Go back even further. What of the conception of Moab (the nation of Ruth), who was the product of drunkenness and incest. Oh my, what kind of conception are talking of there? And yet, one of the strongest lessons of Megilas Rus is that the origins and conceptions of our Malchus and ultimately, our Redemption, were extraordinarily humble! Now, does this mean we advocate harlotry, drunkenness and incest? Of course not. Was Dovid HaMelech spiritually deficient because of his origins? I will leave that answer to you. Let's just say, may we all be as spiritually deficient as the great- etc. grandfather of Mashiach.

Now on to assisted reproduction. How on earth can you make the leap from what the Talmud says about "circumstances where the parents are distracted or otherwise disinterested while conceiving" to assisted reproduction?

Let's quote Rabbi Friedman:

"If it is true that a compromised intimacy hurts the child, what happens when there is no intimacy at all?

With the new reproductive technologies, we are looking at the creation of a child in very mechanical ways, without benefit to the child of the focused intimacy between mother and father. In fact, some of the new technologies allow for the creation of a child with no intimacy at all between father and mother."
How do you come to this leap? What is the relationship between, say lack of physical intimacy and infertility? Parents who conceive "via mechanical ways" may love each other very much, and these parents have demonstrated their desire to have children by going through the incredible financial, physical and emotional challenges of assisted reproduction. So, Rabbi Friedman, are you saying that because at the exact moment that the sperm is entering the egg, the parents are not reaching the heights of physical and emotional initimacy, the fetus will somehow be spiritually defective?

Good grief. Hashem, are You listening to this stuff? Are we fulfilling Your will here?

And so let's say, for argument's sake, that this was true. What would you say to the thousands of couples who cannot have a child without assisted reproduction? Not to have one? Because they are bringing spiritually deficient children into this world?

I have no more words. This is precisely the sort of thing that drives people off the derech.

Read more on this at Wolfish Musings, here and here and Onion Soup Mix, here and here.

The Switch


I'm no saint. Believe me. Far from it. I can be selfish, withdrawn, completely introverted. I can be. But mostly, I'm not. With all false modesty stripped away, I try to be a giving person as much as I can. Though I am the youngest in my family, I am, in many ways, the eldest. My siblings rely on me for a whole variety of things, and they are not always grateful. That's okay. My friends and colleagues get a whole bunch of "freebies" from me, both in terms of professional favors and just run-of-the-mill favors. That too is okay, and in many ways, these are reciprocal. In many ways, though, they are not, and once again, that too is okay. If you do things for people for gratitude or reciprocity, you will ALWAYS be disappointed, and ultimately end up bitter. I know people like this, people who gave almost too much and when it wasn't given back, or they didn't receive proper thanks, they turned the opposite way and became very closed, selfish people. I refuse to be like that.

I don't do things for my family or friends for gratitude or for reciprocity. I have worked on myself long enough and have enough self-awareness to understand that I cannot have these expectations. But I can't help but have the expectation of acknowledgment. This is different from gratitude. I don't want to be thanked. But I want the recipient of my kindness to at least let me know that he understands what I have done. Of late, this has not been forthcoming from my family members, who sometimes seem to be endless askers of favors. After losing my father a few years back, I vowed to try to give more to my remaining family members, and so I am truly happy and grateful to have family members to do things for. This is why I refuse to expect gratitude or reciprocity. But then when I am told that I am not doing enough, I get upset. And I stop giving.

For friends, it's a little weirder. It's not so much that I want them to acknowledge what I am doing, it's that I want them to give up the expectation that I will always do it and that I will sacrifice in order to give precisely the way they want it. Their demanding, their getting upset when I don't deliver exactly on time, when and where they want it....these are the sorts of things that get me upset. And I stop giving.

I take my family and my close friends very seriously. I value them, treasure them, am unbelievably grateful for having them. I am never afraid of "being treated like a doormat" because I know that they love me and don't want to hurt me and I truly enjoy being able to give to them. I think giving is one of the greatest joys in life, or it can be. I don't often give voice to this frustration, not verbally, at least. But I am getting to the point where the giving seems to going into bottomless pits, and then a switch flips. And I get upset.

And I stop giving.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Acceptance


In my ongoing search for the elusive Definition of Love (whatever the hell that is), sometimes I'll pick up up a little snippet of it just by listening to something differently. An old song came up on my Ipod as I was getting dressed this morning, The Pretenders Stand by You:

Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less.
Yeah, that's pretty much it.


Three Excellent Reasons Why I Have Not One Iota of Respect Left for the Nobel Peace Prize

1. Jimmy Carter
2. Yassir Arafat
3. Al Gore

Thanks, Al, both for inventing the Internet and for completing this particular trifecta. And by the way, Al, you're a pompous, self-aggrandizing, total idiot. In a world where people are flying planes into skyscrapers, you are trying to convince us that our single greatest danger is global freakin warming? Oh, okay.

Mazel Tov on the Nobel.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with this important announcement

That's it. I am officially retired from trying to blow-dry my hair straight. I give up. I'm done. I'm tired of the fight, the mousse, the gels, the sprays, the mess, the frizz, the whole gesheft. Boys, give up on your Jennifer Anniston fantasies (hah! yeah, like I even remotely resemble old Jenn). It's over. My hair is long and curly and huge. I embrace that. Hair, you win.

Fabulous women with gi-normous hair who make me feel better about myself:



And for those of you curious as to what my mess looks like, I slapped my head down on the scanner tonight. No, I'm not drunk and no, I will not be xeroxing any body parts. So as I preserve my anonymity, here's my hair:



And so gentlemen, I'm sorry. I will grow it. I will highlight it. When I start to go really gray, I will color it. But I will not straighten it. Bring back The Eighties. Bring back Big Hair. With respect and reverence, I am laying down my blowdryer. Long live the curl.

Uh, is the interview over yet? Did I get the position?

I had another date tonight.

I am really tired of being interviewed on my dates. Really. Really. Tired.

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
When you lived in _____, where did you daven?
Which high school did you go to?
How frum are your parents? Your siblings?

Did you cover all of your hair when you were married?

Now these are the questions that make my eyes glaze over. Who cares? Who really, really cares? Shutup. Shut the hell up.

Then there are the incredibly intrusive questions.

Why did you stay with your ex-husband for so long if you were so unhappy?
Did you and your ex-husband have financial issues?

And my personal favorite:

Why didn't you have any children when you were married?

Mind you, we are not talking about someone that I'm close to, or have even known for a month. We are talking about a guy I've dated a few times, known maybe two weeks. It's none of your damn business, Guy.

How about trying some fun questions? How about trying to figure out how I tick from some quirky questions that don't involve any interrogation techniques? How about a little old fashioned 5th grade truth or dare stuff?

If you could "be" a particular rock star, which one would you be?
If you could have one day where you could commit three non-sexual sins, (guilt- and punishment-free) which three would you choose? Ok, now include sexual ones...
Your captors have informed you that you have 24 hours to live. You may listen to anything you like on an empty Ipod, up to 10 songs. Those ten songs would be... (variation on the classic desert island question)
What was the last book you really enjoyed reading?
Do you sing in your car when you're driving alone?
Are you a right-lane person or a left-lane person?
Tefilos I don't really like: _____
Stuff I collect: ____
My favorite comic book when I was a kid: ___

It is so hard to form any real, true connections to people. Why not try to de-detach? Guy, if you want to be The One, be different, be interested in ME, not my trappings. Maybe I will really let you in.

Why can't dates be light and fun and make you feel young and interesting? Why is every date a job interview? Why must we be so old and dead? Guy, do you REALLY care how frum my siblings are? Do you? Really?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Five Free ITunes Downloads

1. Join Facebook (free)
2. Join the "Ticketmaster Live" Group (free)
3. Get the code for 5 free songs on ITunes.

This code only works once, btw. Enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

For fellow 24 addicts, my favorite Jack Bauer jokes:

  • When Jack Bauer becomes President, he will protect the Secret Service.
  • When Jack Bauer works out, the machine gets stronger.
  • Guns don't kill people; Jack Bauer kills people.
  • When bad things happen to good people, it's probably fate. When bad things happen to bad people, it’s probably Jack Bauer.
  • Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.
  • The only thing we have to fear, is...Jack Bauer.
  • Jack Bauer's parents threw him a surprise birthday party as a child...once.
  • The credits at the end of 24 aren't the cast and crew, they are the people who died during the making of the episodes.
  • On Jack Bauer's tax returns, he has to claim the entire world as his dependents.
  • Jack Bauer would have gotten the ring to Mordor in 24 hours.
  • Jack Bauer doesn't sleep with his gun under his pillow, he sleeps with his pillow under his gun.
  • One day Jack Bauer was pulled over for speeding. After a short period of time, the policeman left with a warning.
  • Surrounded by terrorists and nerve gas, and handcuffed to a table leg, Jack Bauer laughed to himself and said, "I have them right where I want them."
  • Upon hearing that he was played by Keifer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland. Jack Bauer gets played by no man.
  • Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk.
  • The number one cause of death in Middle Eastern men is Jack Bauer.
  • If Jack Bauer was in a room with Nina Myers, Osama bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein and only had 2 bullets left in his gun, he would shoot Nina Myers twice.
  • Superman's only weakness is Kryptonite. Jack Bauer laughs at Superman for having a weakness.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sweet Love.

I've been in love a few times in my life. "Love," whatever the hell that is. I think.

I did love my ex-husband when I married him. For the purpose of this little posting, I won't differentiate between "love" and "in love." I won't even differentiate between, say spousal love and parental love. Obviously they are qualitatively different (in normal people) and sexual expression in romantic love makes them very different, but quantitatively, we are still speaking of very deep, abiding feelings, of the enormous drive to take care of someone, make that person happy, fill their needs, sacrifice for them. And then the drive to change yourself, be better for them, be worthy of their love, get and give and get and give forever. Love is so friggin powerful.

So, yes, I've been in love a few times. My ex-husband, a bunch o' boyfriends, a college professor (never told him), etc. But I will differentiate between being in love with these dudes and, well the one time I was

really, nauseous, crazily, wildly, insanely, unaccountably, irrationally in love. Sweet, sweet love. Gorgeous, stark beautiful love.

It was in 1994. I remember that, because it was the year before Windows 95 came out. He was 6 years younger than I was. Yeah, he was cute, but not gorgeous. He was funny but not hilarious. He was smart, but not brilliant. But he was everything. I don't know what it was...it was like lifting the lid on a box and boom, there was my soulmate. We were in heat. And I don't just mean in a physical sense. I mean in the chemical sense. The geshtalt was just beautiful. I felt brighter, lighter, beautiful, brilliant, powerful, all the time. You know what? I was. I had men hitting on me like nobody's business that year, and I ain't no beauty queen. But love gives you confidence and joy and it makes you glow and kindle. That year, I was a beauty queen. Talk about fire. I burned. We both did. My God. I don't know how I breathed in 1994. I don't know how my heart managed to remain in my chest.

It went on for the better part of a year. I won't go into any details on why it never went anywhere or why we ended up married to different people. It was the right decision. We kept in touch plutonically and sporadically after the big breakup wrenched my heart out. I survived that, btw, and I healed, pretty quickly, actually.

I am very grateful that God granted me this experience. I don't know if everyone has had access to this level of intensity. Even though our relationship didn't work out, and ultimately, the most important relationship of my life, my marriage, was a failure, I am still so grateful for this man's love. I believe I am a better person for it. Sometimes I'll hear a song or I'll remember a little detail, and it will bring me back to a time in my life that I treasure.

Thanks for the love, B., wherever you are. We will build our lives with other people, but you

you were The One.


And when all of this is over
Should I lose you in the smoke
I want you to know
you were the one

And may my love travel with you everywhere
Yeah may my love travel with you always.

(Tom Petty
Have Love, Will Travel)

It's what you cause.

The Rabbi in the synagogue I attended on Shemini Atzeret (not my regular Rabbi/synagogue) gave an uncharacteristically moving Yizkor speech. This Rabbi tends to give more intellectual, text-based shiurim.

The upshot of the drash was "it's not just what you do in this world, it's what you cause in this world." Meaning, it's not just one's actions that are important, but the ripples that come off of one's actions, the effects of your language and behavior, the influence on other people, that are just as important as what you do.

Why does it say in the Talmud that someone who says Amen to a blessing has done something greater than the one who spoke the blessing? You would think that the one who went to the trouble of actually making the blessing has done something greater, yes? No. Because anyone can express an idea, but when you "second" the idea by saying Amen, you have created a community of two that supports this idea. The Rabbi expounded on this notion...why creating and affirming community was so important.

Hmm.

If you are married and have kids, fulfilling these concepts is a no-brainer. What community is more vital to affirm than that of the Jewish family? What greater ripples can you create in this world than passing down Jewish values to your kids? What more important team can you develop that that of you and your spouse?

But how is this supposed to work if you have no spouse? If you have no children? Am I to be deprived of my community and my ripples?

It's not just what you do, it's what you cause. Oy. How am I supposed to find my place in this world and contribute to the klal if I am alone?

I feel so lost.

Good Stuff

Just some good miscellaneous urls I've come acrosss recently:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New

Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur were both life-changing to me this year, as they should be. I made some resolutions about my life that I intend to keep. My healing time is over. Time for the next part of my life to commence: the part where I begin again. No more excuses...it's time to live.

For J.

My yesterdays are all boxed up and neatly put away,
But every now and then you come to mind.
Cause you were always waiting to be picked to play the game,
But when your name was called, you found a place to hide,
When you knew that I was always on your side.

Everything was easy then, so sweet and innocent,
But your demons and your angels reappeared.
Leaving all the traces of the man you thought you'd be.
Leaving me with no place left to go from here.
Leaving me so many questions all these years.

(Always on Your Side, Sheryl Crow)