Sunday, November 30, 2008

Behaving Badly

For the most part of my dating career, both before and after divorce, I have been a mentch. Really. I have dumped people gently, kindly, and in an adult way. I have never cheated on anyone. I have never really been mean to anyone. I have never degraded anyone.

Except, er, twice.

And both incidents stick in my craw, because I was that yucky to the poor guys. They are both married with kids and it's years and years later. Actually, decades. Seriously. And both these guys are my Friends on Facebook.

What do they have in common? For starters, neither one is frum. I think part of the reason I gave myself permission to act like a total b___ to them was because I really had no business going out with them in the first place.

One of them I've talked about here. I was really quite horrible to Ethan.

Then there's Matt.

I have to admit, the Matt thing bothers me. Still! It happened in freshman year in college. First of all, I'm not even sure we were actually going out. We might have been just friends. Not sure. I think it was headed in that direction though. Matt got tickets to an REM concert for both of us. Then he asked me to reimburse him for mine, which got me thinking that we were just friends. Then I decided that I didn't like Matt anymore, very suddenly and quickly, so I told him that I "sold" my ticket to my friend Lisa. Just like that. He was stuck going to the concert with someone he didn't know, who basically had other friends going to the same concert, so she didn't even hang out with him. So what could have been a totally fun evening was him going to a concert alone. Matt was pretty hurt. We weren't really friends after that. I behaved abominably.

So I was trolling through FB recently, going down the list of people who graduated from my college in my year, and there he was. He looks good. Turns out he is now a writer in the midwest. I Friended him and surprisingly, he accepted the Friend request. He probably doesn't even remember me and thinks I am a fan or something. Or something.

He does look quite good. And he writes quite well. And he is quite married. And I am quite an ass.

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The Shame of Divorce and Childlessness

It's a rainy, miserable, cold day in the Big soggy Apple. I'm catching up on my volunteer stuff (which is always the first thing to go to the bottom of the todo pile) and sorting through papers. I'm always drowning in papers. There will be an inbox on my grave. And it will be full.

I have recently had a major influx of Friend requests on Facebook from old high school and college buddies. It goes like that...someone spots you on a new Friend's list and the requests just avalanche through their network(s). I like it. I like re-forming old acquaintances. It makes me feel connected and nostalgic. But this doesn't mean that I want to rekindle any old friendships. The hardest thing for me is when an old friend messages me on Facebook and says "Hey what's up with you? Are you back in NY? Write me and fill me in on your life." This has been happening pretty frequently. and I just pretend not to get the messages.

I have to think that most if not all of these messages are just innocent requests to reconnect. Everyone knows I got married and moved to Out-of-Town and they now see me on Facebook with my maiden name, living in NY, with a single status. Duh. I'm sure they can figure out that I got divorced. But you know what? I don't want to talk about it. They are all still married. Their kids are in high school or even college. They are posting bar mitzvah pictures, family vacation pictures, joining Facebook Groups like "Yeshiva tuition costs too much." I wish I was struggling to pay Yeshiva tuition.

There is tremendous shame associated with being divorced. There is also shame associated with being childless. I know, this shouldn't be so, I shouldn't feel this way. Neither condition is irreversible. Neither condition was really "my fault," sort of. But I am ashamed. I don't want to hide, but I don't want to share either. I'm fine about getting in touch again, but don't ask me questions. I have such a sense of failure about my sad, barren marriage. I feel like no matter what I do with my life, no matter how much I might ever contribute to my community, my family, my friends, the world, klal Yisroel, etc., I have failed. I have failed at being me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Celebrating Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving. I cannot tell you how annoying I find it when frum people don't celebrate Thanksgiving "b'sheetah." Grrrr.

My Dad emigrated to this country after leaving the infernos of Europe. He thanked Hashem every day of his life for bringing him to a place where he could wear a yarmulke and keep Shabbos and kashrus and not be persecuted for it. Freedom of religion is something we take for granted when we spend twenty, thirty years in Brooklyn/Lawrence/Monsey/etc.

We live in the most amazing country on Planet Earth. I love Israel, but for a whole different set of reasons. I am a raging Zionist, but I will be the first to admit that the government of the State of Israel is freakin mess. Our government has its issues too, but this country is so blessed by God and the American people are so incredibly fortunate. Let's never lose our awareness of that, and let's take this Thursday to celebrate and say thank you to the Boss. My family used to sing Hatikvah and the National Anthem and Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and America the Beautiful at our family Thanksgiving table. Corny? Yeah, but oh, I gotta tell you, faithful reader, on Thanksgiving, my heart is full.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. May God continue to shine His countenance on all of us. May we always reach up to Him and say thanks. And may the turkey not be dry.

Happy Thanksgiving Now Have Some Stuffing

Last year I posted my recipe for pareve pumpkin pie. This year it's stuffing. Ta die faw.

1 lb. box of matzoh or 1 large challah
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shelled chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup craisins or finely diced dried appricot
1/2 envelope onion soup mix (without MSG...I use ShopRite's)
1 large onion, diced
8 button mushrooms, washed and quartered
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups boiling water

If you're using the challah as a base, slice it and cube it and let it dry out on your counter for two days. The "emergency challah" that's been sitting in the back of your freezer is fine for this...freezer burnt works well because you want your base dried out, like croutons. If you're using the box of matzoh left over from Passover, put all the matzoh in a ziploc and crush it into inch-long shards.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little oil. Saute the onions and mushrooms for about five minutes in the oil, then put them in a bowl and set them aside. Add a little more oil and fill the skillet with either your matzoh or challah. Doesn't matter if the whole skillet fills up. On medium heat, keep turning the matzoh/challah over and over until all of it is browned. Remove the matzoh/challah from the oil and spoon into a baking pan (most of the oil will have been absorbed...what can I say, Thanksgiving is fattening). Mix in the mushrooms, onions, pine nuts, chestnuts, craisins and onion soup mix. Mix well. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir again. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour.

When you are ready to make the turkey, you can either put this into the turkey cavity and then when the turkey is done, scoop it back into the baking pan and bake again for another 10 minutes. Or you can skip putting it into the cavity, roast the turkey, and then mix 1/2 cup of turkey gravy into the stuffing and bake for another 10-15 minutes. If the stuffing is too wet, leave the cover off. If it's too dry, add some more gravy.

BTW, regarding the chestnuts...Israeli stores sell Galil roasted chestnuts, already shelled, for a song. Highly recommended shortcut.

Delish dahling. Gobble gobble.

Monday, November 24, 2008

$100 Newport News Gift Card for $75

If you click through Ebates first, you'll get another 3% off, so your $100 gift card will cost you $72.75. Once you've clicked through Ebates, go here to activate the special deal on the gift card. This is a sweet deal. Newport News has a lot of tsniusdik stuff, like this denim skirt, and they also have some not-run-of-the-mill accessories, like this beaded bag.

If you'd just like to buy stuff from NN and skip the gift card, take 25% off your purchase (till midnight 12/1/8) with promo code 538.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Free Dr. Pepper, this Sunday only

Go to DrPepper.com, click on "Promotions," then "Free Dr. Pepper."

I dunno why they are doing this, but you know how I feel about free stuff. Actually, it has something to do with Guns n Roses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please hold.

I had a great-aunt, Aunt Iris, who was not exactly senile, but, let's just say not all of her neurons were firing in good order upstairs. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. She was also funny and sharp, even in her most confused moments. In later years, she had this awful habit of calling, and then the moment you picked up the phone, asking you to hold on so that she could please use the ladies room. I would hold for about 10 minutes, then she'd come back to the phone and chat for about 5 minutes, and then say goodbye and hang up.

She did this to everyone in the family. It became sort of a family joke. Because Iris was the sweet, kind soul that she was, we all put up with it, even though it became somewhat of a nuisance at work, even after I got speakerphone. During one of these phone calls, I gently suggested to Aunt Iris that perhaps she should use the facilities before she called me. She said that that was chutzpadick for me to point it out like that, and she hardly ever did that, why this was the first time really, and that she was an older woman and needed to use the bathroom more often than she used to, and I would see when I got to her age, etc. I apologized.

What I will put up with from dear Aunt Iris, I will not put up with from anyone else. The other day the phone rang. Caller ID identified it as "Share Group Inc." Interesting. I picked up. A robotic recorded voice told me "Please hold. This is not a sales call. Someone will be with you shortly."

Are you kidding me? You called me and you are putting me on hold? Oh this was not acceptable.

My first instinct was to hang up immediately (which, by the way, I highly recommend in these instances). But I actually wanted to see which bozo was employing this obnoxious technique to solicit something from me, mostly to write down his name and information and report him the Do Not Call Registry police (er, whatever), since I am long-time no-call list member. What I forgot was that non-profit 501(c)(3)s were exempt from the no-call list restrictions. After about three long minutes, some poor guy named Craig came on the phone, and started to solicit me for a local Jewish charity.

Poor Craig.

"Let me ask you something, Craig. Do you think it is the smartest idea, when you are cold calling people to ask them for money, to call and then put them on hold immediately? Without even identifying yourself? Do you think that will endear you to them, so that the minute you get on the phone, I will want to whip out my credit card and fork over a few thou? Do you think that's a winning strategy, Craig?"

"I-I just work for this call center, I don't know..."

"So what you're telling me, Craig, is that you aren't even a volunteer for this charity and you probably don't even care about it? You're just a hired hand bothering people in the middle of their only free time in the evening, asking them for money, right after you made them stay on hold for five minutes? Is that working well for you? Did you make a lot of money so far?"
Craig hung up on me.

Oh well.

This is really something else. Calling people and then putting them on hold when they answer is beyond rude. If you're not Aunt Iris.

BOGO at Borders

Best Borders fiction sale so far...buy one, get one half off. Getcher Chanukah gifts here. This is in-store only.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse...

I haven't checked my stats in a while. Wasn't I surprised that, other than subscribers and regulars, the number one way for people to click over to this blog was to google "Tefillin Date." Yup. Google it. An old posting on TRT comes up as the number two hit. Yup.

Kill me now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walgreen's coupon

$5 off $20, tomorrow only

Finally, a reason to live...


The Jack is back. Oh yeah. November 23, 2008.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hell, I didn't vote for him, #1

Barack Obama. A Man of His Word.

President-elect Barack Obama, who vowed during his campaign that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House," said through a spokesman yesterday that he would allow lobbyists on his transition team as long as they work on issues unrelated to their earlier jobs.
Yah. Right. Click.

Hosting Travelers and Traveling

I've been traveling quite a bit lately and still have some more of it coming up. Here are some ideas that I've picked up:

1) When inviting someone for a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal (or, any meal), never ask if (s)he "needs a meal." No one needs a meal. I can cook. Thank God, I can afford to pay for food. Asking if someone needs a meal highlights the fact that they are alone and needs company for a meal. Would you ask a married couple if they needed a meal? Ask if that person would like to join you for a meal instead.

2) In your guest room, keep a bottle of (The World's Greatest Invention for Travelers,) Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It's inconvenient to keep a bottle in my suitcase because it tends to leak and make a mess, so I always end up buying a bottle when I arrive somewhere and then tossing out most of it when I leave. One of my hosts keeps a bottle in the guest closet....I thought that was very smart.

3) Other nice things to have in the guest room: full length mirror, blowdryer (which can be bought for $10 nowadays), nail polish remover, tampons/pads, bedika cloths (that was something I remember from my single days), disposable razors, pen and paper, a few bottles of spring water, a few small plastic garbage bags (for gathering dirty clothes, etc.). When I was married, I used to collect all of those little bottles of shampoo and soap and lotion from hotel rooms or from free samples sites and put them in a basket in my guest bathroom.

4) If you have an old laptop or desktop that you don't use anymore because it is too slow, create a guest profile on it and put it in your guestroom so that your laptopless guests can check their email. I have an old IBM Thinkpad that is probably too slow to even donate, and my guests are so happy to be able to get their email and tool around on the web.

5) When I come back from my trips and unpack, I usually put a few dryer sheets in my empty suitcases before I put them in the basement. That keeps them from getting all musty and yucky smelling.

Safe travels, happy hosting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Michaels 50% off

Click here for 50% off any regularly priced item, good till 11/15.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get some paper clips and envelopes

15% off at Office Depot. Can't be used on software or electronics.

Free Nikka Costa mp3 download

I have no idea if this artist is any good or not, but if you give me something for free, I'm always willing to give it a listen. I'm at work now, but I will download this at home...we'll see if it's listenable. Download the mp3 here.

40% off Borders cds.

40% off of all cds at Borders and Waldenbooks (limit 3 cds, but wow). Today and tomorrow only. Free shipping with $25 order.

Buy those Chanukah gifts now...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Well

I got nothing.

Yeah. Last night was bad.

Ok, one thing...I hope everyone will be willing to take responsibility for their vote over the next four years. If you voted for Obama, be prepared for what ensues, good and bad. If you drank the KoolAid, be prepared to digest the KoolAid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Four free NBC episodes on Itunes

From Facebook. Here.

Now if I just cared about these shows, this might be worthwhile. Eh, it's free. Free is good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And now for something totally unrelated to the election

Beauty hurts. Feminine beauty hurts like hell. Anything that has to do with, say, hair removal, high-heels, itchy nylon stockings, body-cinching undergarments, etc. all hurt, but help us girls look our best. So we suck it up and do what we need to do, because we like to look good.

But gentlemen, we have been keeping a secret from y'all. There is one beauty ritual that we go through that not only doesn't hurt, but oooo, it feels great. That is

The Manicure/Pedicure.

Yes, the manicure/pedicure. I go, more or less every other week to a small, Asian-run nail place a few blocks from my home. For $15 plus a $6 tip, I am treated to an hour of pure pampering. I am always amazed that a manicure/pedicure is so cheap. Let me explain the details.

First, I sit in a Sharper Image-type leather massage chair and set it to run for a full cycle. I put my feet in a scented mini heated whirlpool bath that has tiny little bath beads spinning around in it. After a few minutes of this, the pedicurist alternates taking each foot out and removes my old polish, cleans, trims and files my nails, applies cuticle oil, pushes back and trims my cuticles. She pumices my heels and soles, and razors off any yucky calluses. She applies a mild scrub to my legs and exfoliates me. Then she applies scented lotion to my feet and calves and gives me a vigorous five minute leg massage. She puts my feet into little paper slippers with separators between my toes, and puts on four coats of nail polish, clear-ballet slipper-ballet slipper-clear. She does this to each foot.

While my toenails are drying, she does my manicure. I alternate soaking each hand in a mild moisturizing solution. She removes old polish, expertly files my nails so that they are all even, applies cuticle oil, pushes back and trims my cuticles. Then she applies scented lotion and massages my palm and forearm. Then she applies four matching coats of nail polish. When I am all done, she walks me over to the drying area (carrying my purse), and I sit under heated hand and foot dryers while she gives me a five minute back and neck massage.

Did I mention this costs $15? Understand now why I give them a 40% tip?

Mani/peds are the cheapest treat of a lifetime. I also think nothing ages a woman worse than dry, brittle looking hands, and a mani/ped is part of good grooming. Your hands are the only part of your body to actually lose weight naturally as you age. While I hate talons and think they are classless, I also think short, naked, bitten, stubby nails and dried out skin is very unfeminine. And guys notice hands, ladies. They do.

So when you're done biting your nails over this election (I had to work it in somewhere), go to your neighborhood nail salon and treat yourself. It's your feminine right. It's so worth it.

Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote

Free stuff for voting:


Good grief. I even got this email from 9 Inch Nails today:
Next Tuesday we will elect the next President of the United States. The result will have great consequences for the nation.

This election offers a choice is between two men with dramatically different visions of the future. We have strong feelings about this choice. But we feel even more strongly that all Americans, regardless of political preference, have a stake in the outcome and should vote in this critical election.

This is likely to be a close election. Your vote matters. Please use it and make a difference.

Sincerely,
Trent Reznor
I mean, how hard is it to vote that we need to have free coffee, ice cream and NIN urging us on?

Sharing America's crayons

Ahem.

Senator Obama, here's the difference between charity and socialism. Ready?

When you share your crayons with the other children, that's charity and generosity.

When the government forces you to share your crayons with the other children, that's socialism, and eventually, fascism.

School's out. Keep your hands off of America's crayons.

The Gestalt of Shopping

God bless Macy's. No matter how fat or ugly I feel, I always seem to find something to buy at Macy's that makes me feel a little bit less fat and a little bit less ugly. Not sure if it's the huge selection, the decent (not cheap, but definitely decent) prices, or the fact that they don't count how many items you bring into the dressing room (which is always clean and nice-smelling), but the whole shopping gestalt at Macy's is just pleasant.

I'm not exactly a fashionista, but I do follow style, and I do care about what I wear. I will spend more money on clothes and accessories for an occasion, but not ridiculous amounts. I actually got my wedding gown, doubtlessly the fanciest dress I've ever worn, from a gemach. I hate it when I'm wearing something that everyone else in shul is wearing. But I also don't like to be too different. I certainly go for conservative over daring. Because I sew a little, I'm always trying to think of ways to make bought clothes a little better, by adding a little trim here, changing out the buttons (which can absolutely transform a suit, by the way, for very little money), adding or subtracting length, or swapping out a ruffle. I love accessories, and I spend far too much money on bags, shoes, belts, hair adornments and jewelry.

I get most of my basics (shells, sweats, tshirts, denim, pencil skirts, simple sweaters) online. Between online coupons, programs like Ebates, and the ability to compare many different sites, I do extremely well online. I buy my basics very, very cheaply. But for stuff like coats, jackets, suits, dresses, Shabbos and date clothes, I head to department stores. I've bought nearly all my coats at Lord & Taylors. I wear coats for multiple years, so I generally go for classic styles and spend more money on them. Most everything else comes from Macy's. It's just a great store. Tonight I got two cashmere twin sets (forest green and pumpkin) for, after all my discounts, $65 each. I got an outfit for a wedding for $80. I got a cream colored silk shell for $25! Macy's is one of the few stores where it pays to have their credit card. You always seem to get 15% or 20% off when you use it, and on days when they don't run those specials, I have tons of coupons that they send along with my bill.

Then there is the sheer feminine joy that is the ground-floor of Macy's. I love trying on new makeup, perfume, hair-clips and jewelry. I love ogling the overpriced Italian handbags, the pashminas, and the elbow length leather gloves. It is Accessories Heaven. If I buy anything on the ground-floor, it is generally an impulse buy, as I can get all that stuff more cheaply online if I do a little research. But every now and then, I indulge.

God bless Macy's, capitalism and shopping. I do occasionally revel in shopping. I am, if nothing else, a girlygirl.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vote Early. Vote Once.

So this Tuesday evening, we'll know. Hopefully. After all, remember what happened in 2000. Don't want that again.

It's going to be a very, very close election, which still amazes me. All the mainstream media outlets keep crooning that it's over and Obama has won, but since many of them have basically served as Obama campaign workers over the course of the year, I wouldn't worry about what they say. They are saying that because 1) people who are on the fence like to vote for winners if they can, and 2) to discourage McCain supporters and workers and take the wind out of their sails and 3) to keep people who might vote for McCain at home, since they will be lead to believe that it doesn't matter anyway.

I am on everyone's mailing list. I get mail from MoveOn.org and John Kerry and the Democratic party, and believe me, they do not really believe this campaign is over. Far from it.

The voter fraud is really freaking me out. There is the ACORN fraud, which is frankly astonishing. Then of course there are the places where there are more registered voters than adults of voting age, in Alabama, Indianapolis, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Gee, do you think something nasty is going on there? But if McCain wins, I'm sure there will be cries of disenfranchisement, and how Republicans suppressed the African-American vote, blah blah blah, and stole the election, etc.

I'm going to be out of town on Election Day, which is one of the reasons I voted via absentee ballot. I'm trying to muddle through all the election noise and figure out how this election has changed me. I have surely become more partisan, much more Republican and conservative, or at least, I feel more vocal and clear about my beliefs. I started the year as a Democrat, and when I had to fill out my voter registration in New York, I did hesitate before I checked the Republican box. After all, I've been a lifelong Democrat. It was a little bit of a paradigm shift for me to declare myself that way. Now there is no hesitation. I am so repulsed at some of the actions of the Democrat party, particularly of their politicians and pundits, that I have been driven over to only side that makes any sense to me.

I posted a little Road Taken election poll on the upper right side of my blog. It is very sharply in favor of McCain. It tells me something about my readership. To the 29 people who are voting for Obama and are still reading my blog, thank you for staying with me and for reading a blog with which you don't agree. I do that too, and I think it's really good for your character. I try to be fair. I know I'm certainly not balanced, but I do try to be fair. And for the 53 people who are voting for McCain, thanks as well.

Vote Early. Vote Once. (Vote for McCain.)