Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Glimpse Inside My Head

Every year, during the sefirah I have a song, or sometimes an entire CD playing in my head, over and over.
(Little kite tell me, for I can not fly)

Sometimes I wonder if there is some way to chose the song. Because some songs are much better to listen to continuously than others.
(I'm a hippopotamus, from my top to my bottom-us)

I mean, if you have to listen to one song straight through the sefirah, it should be an enjoyable song.
(Why does everybody make so much fun of me, don't they know how it hurts me so?)

So this year, as I listen to the songs of journeys 1, 2, 3, and 4, over and over and over, I wonder if I am glad about this turn of events.
(...and my '67 buick has still seen better days...)

Oh, and I'm listening to marvelous middos machine too, courtesy of spending chol hamoed with the grand kids.
(Middos are the way we act and how we think and feel, the Torah shows us just what we should do)

Those songs are the ones that really make me realize what a genius Abie Rottenberg is. I seriously like the values they teach.
(I ignored your advice, now I'm paying the price, I went with all of my a store!)

But all in all, I think I am lucky. I don't remember ever getting to listen to so many songs in one sefirah.
(Never mind the calories bring on the table Viennese, the next morning they can start to watch their weight!)

So I sit here, trying to lull myself to sleep with one of the slow songs from journeys 3.
(I lovingly hid it, deep inside my drawer, where it would be, safe as can be...)

But it isn't working. Instead, I keep hearing the fast songs.
(But I just happen to be a woman, and it's that time of year again)

So I press skip on my internal music player, and I to onto the next song. Now, I hear the very distinct voice of Shwekey singing...
(Mama Rochel cry, for us again, won't you shed a tear, for your dear children)

(and I was the one, who squished your hat)

(he wears a fur hat when it's hamsin outside)

(Do you know the joy of friendship, of caring and of love? Somehow I get the feeling that you do)

(Thats why Hashem gave is two lips to keep our mouths shut tight)

(But now they call him chaim'l, and on shabbos he wears a streimel)

(A fantastic amazing miracle)

(The Torah says be humble, in everything you do. Of you're strong of tall or beautiful, it's not because of you.)

(and of our mouths were filled with song, like the vast and mighty sea)

(it's what I believe...Ani Ma'amin!)

(Do you think it's fair, to even us the score? The Torah says Nekamah's wrong and always leads to more!)

(We're gonna spend the day together with the holy one)

I have this weird memory for these things. I know all of the words, although sometimes I get these random snippets into my head.
(And he'd say Riboinoi Shel Oilam, could have a little bite to eat, cause you sustain all mankind...)

I'll tell you the torturous thing though. Sometimes, I get stuck. I simply can NOT remember the next word in the song. On a normal day, I'd turn on the song, and skip straight to the part that I am up to. But during sefirah, I can't do that.
(But dear Malach'l no, please don't make me go, I'm not ready to go with you, where you'll take me I don't know...)

So when it happens, I do the next best thing, which is skip to the next song in my head.
(The Rabbi sent Yankel to learn in yeshivah, they all thought he'd lost his sanity)

And then, when I exhaust my playlist, we go back to the beginning and start again.
(Step on board, take your ticket, no two are the same)

Am I the I the only one who has an internal playlist that will not shut off, the entire sefirah?
(They danced round and round in circles, as if the world had done no wrong)

So much for my quiet...
(You gotta be neat, you gotta be clean, let mommy take a break from her washing machine)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Living Your Life For The Sake Of Shidduchim?

A friend of mine is a little...different. I mean, I'd definitely say she is another little blob of something other than the fluff that the other girls are made of. We are the ones who dress up together on Purim, or even on regular days. (Shhhh! Don't tell the shadchanim!) We are the ones who aren't scared to step out of the line, the ones who aren't scared to be slightly 'unusual' to most tastes. We are the ones the the MOTS girls look at with a mixture of amusement and horror.
Well anyway, she's engaged. We had this discussion the other day. I believe it took place as she was singing out loud, along with the wedding music. "You know," I said, "it's a good thing you are engaged. Some people might think you are being weird." She wholeheartedly agreed with me. "I must be an inspiration to all the weird girls out there. If I got engaged, they can too."
I was wondering about this...
I can't grasp the concept of people living their lives around shidduchim. I mean, obviously, there is a lot of talk about this. But to what extent do people really allow their fear of stigmas in shidduchim to actually control their lives? Is it all just talk, or do people really suppress their true selves for the sake of getting dates with guys who wouldn't date their true selves? Am I the only one that sees this as being pretty twisted?
If you suppress who you are, and only then will the guy go out with you, what have you accomplished? Will you go on suppressing your true self for the rest of your life? Or maybe the guy was only acting the way he was acting because girls wouldn't date him otherwise?
Wouldn't it be better if we'd all just act how we want to act, do what we want to do, and date people who are ok with it?
Or is that what we are all doing anyway, and the "it's bad for shidduchim" line is just a boring person's excuse for lack of individuality?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Psychosis or Paranoia?

Listening to my voice mails today, I came to a scary realization.

First, a note about me and voice mails. We don't go together. I detest voice mails. If you need to reach me, call. If I don't pick up, either I will call back, or I really don't want to talk to you, in which case, the most urgent message in the world won't make me call you back.
If you have something really important to tell me, and I don't pick up my phone, text me. If you don't text- tough. Get with the program. This is the 21st century after all.
Anyhow, I am generally happiest with a full voicemail box. Therefore, I don't listen to messages, rather, I let them accumulate. At some point, my voice mail box fills up, and people are unable to leave me messages. This is a very joyous state of affairs for me. Unfortunately, what usually follows that is an email from my boss saying something along the lines of "I tried to reach you bit your voicemail was full". Sometimes the trouble manifests itself through my father telling me, in a very grouchy tone of voice, that it is highly unprofessional, not to mention annoying, to let your voicemail get to the point where people can't leave messages on it. So I listen. It can be painful, with over 20 messages at a time, but I did it today.
And that's when I realized that I know some people who exhibit severely psychotic behavior. Yeah, I know that sounds scary, but how else can you explain the following scenario?
I was out with some friends. And believe it or not, me, the queen of being reachable, left her phone in the car. In truth, it was half on purpose, because we were spending quality time together, and my friends have been known to confiscate my cell phone on such outings.
So we got back to the car, and I had a joyous reunion with my cell phone. The missed alerts light was blinking, so I took a look. Suddenly, I felt enormously popular. After a mere two hours, I had 19 missed calls and six voice mails.
My ego took a big hit when I realized that they were all from one person. No, I am not making this up, nor am I exaggerating. Seriously, she had something to ask me, she deemed it urgent. And so she called. And called. And called. And called. Nineteen times.
I can't help but wonder what her thought process was at the time. Did she think that I was avoiding her calls, but if she called enough I'd get the hint and pick up? Like, on the eighteenth call I still didn't realize she was desperate to talk to me, but once she called nineteen times I got the message. Shame she didn't call twenty times in that case...
Did she think I couldn't find it in my bag, and it took nineteen cycles of rummaging to the musical accompaniment of my ring tone till I found it?
Did it honestly not occur to her that I simply did not have my phone in the car with me, and that calling nineteen times would kill my cell phone battery, but not make my phone fly out of the car and into where ever I was?
And if you think this is a solitary occurrence, or a fallacy committed by only once acquaintance, you are sadly mistaken. Obviously, this is an extreme example, but this happens all the time. I leave my phone charging for an hour, and come back to find four missed calls from the same person. Four? What in the world did they think they would accomplish with the second third and fourth phone calls?
I am not a psychologist, so I won't try to diagnose my friends, but seriously, think about this. Is it sane behavior? Am I just paranoid?
Can anyone else try to make heads or tails of all this?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rethinking the Technology Issue

This post is dedicated to Bas~Melech, my coworker, my little sister, my mother, and all other people who hate hanging around with me in places that have wifi.

As my little sister said: "if you had to chose between your cell phone or your ipod touch, what would you chose?" She thought for a few minutes and said... "You'd probably chose death." I'll have you know that I resent this, and that I am perfectly fine without my touch...for a bit. ;) It takes a few hours for me to start feeling 'out of touch'. (Get it?)

And as funny as this cartoon might be, it is sadly coming true. I was just speaking to a girl who teaches pre-school, and she said that she has students hide their cell phones under their shirts to go out and call their mother. Five year old kids who are already learning to conceal their phones? Scary...

I wrote about this once before, but I am starting to think I should have added a post-script to that post. I wrote that I am all for technological advances...but I am shuddering at the thought. I think back to my day-camp counselor days and imagine my campers who could barely talk and had just gotten toilet trained...on cell phones. 
It's a scary world I tell you...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Superior Stamina?

Did you ever notice this?
The music stops, signaling that the dancing has ended and the wedding will soon come to a close. Glance around the women's side, and you see the kallah's friends, limping around the room, nursing their injured feet. You might nod your head in sympathy, telling yourself that it makes sense. After all, these girls had really been mehudar the mitzvah of being mesameach the kallah. They danced all night, for all they were worth.
But then it hits you. From the other side of the mechitza, there is joyous singing and dancing. First, you start to think that they simply didn't notice that the music has ceased. But you reason that they most likely DID notice, and that they are simply enjoying themselves.
Strange contrasts, huh?
"The boys must have superior stamina" you conclude.
But deep inside, you know this doesn't ring true. Women are the ones who stand on their feet cooking, cleaning and sorting laundry. Women are the ones who manage to bathe a kid, mop the kitchen floor, mediate a fight between two toddlers, and bake a cake all at the same time. It's women who stay up half the night with a screaming baby, and then get up and go to work for eight hours.
So the answer can't be in the difference between men and women. What is it then?
Look down.
No. That's not a diversionary tactic. Look down, and you have your answer. Look at the shoes worn by men, as opposed to the torture devices that women wear under the guise of shoes.
And it all becomes clear. While the women have endured self inflicted torture for the last few hours, the men have merely danced. And so the man are more than happy to keep dancing but the women can barely limp to their cars and swerve home.
And so I ask you, women, why do you do it? Have you ever tried attending a chasunah with round-toed-flats? I have. Trust me, it's a different experience. And it's your chance to prove, for once and for all, that women really are more resilient than men are.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The False World Of Expectations

I am in a fairly serious mood today, and a bit of introspection led me to the following thoughts.

(I once heard this mashul from a friend of mine who has diabetes.)

Imagine if Hashem had created people differently than they actually are. Imagine if the skin would repel dirt, dust, grime, sweat and smells. Imagine if people's hair would stay clean and fresh-smelling always. In short, imagine a world where showers would not be necessary. People would not hear of the concept of a shower. Bathrooms would be what we now know as "half baths." It may sound far-fetched, but please try to imagine such a world. 

Now, imagine if there were some people who were born with skin and hair like we all have. They would need to wash their body, their hair. Imagine how tough it would be for those people. They would have to have special devices (called showers) installed in their homes. They would have to watch out for dirt and things, lest they get dirty and people would realize that they have this 'condition'. And each night, while their sisters and brothers were being put to sleep, they would have to first be washed. Imagine the ramifications it might have on shidduchim!

You'd probably feel pretty sorry for this person, huh? So why don't we feel sorry for ourselves? We all need showers! Simple. We don't feel sorry for ourselves, because this is the way the world goes. Everyone needs to take showers. 

Now, lets go back to the world of needing showers, and imagine a different scenario. Imagine if Hashem had created human bodies in a way that they would be unable to process carbohydrates properly. Instead of eating carbohydrates and forgetting about it, you'd have to check your blood sugar level, count the amount of carbohydrates you are eating, and give yourself an injection of insulin to help your body digest the food.

Would we all feel bad for each other? Would we all think we led this miserable existence because we had these steps to execute before we could eat? Surely not! Why? Simple. Everyone would need to do it, and it wouldn't occur to us that there could be an easier way.

Yet, often times, people look at those who have diabetes with pity. "Nebach, look what she has to go through." Or worse, people with diabetes pity themselves. "Why should I have to do all this?" Why? If the rest of the world were checking, counting and injecting, how would it make my life easier? 

It's the sad and awful truth, when you realize that all of our dreams, hopes, and feelings are built around the immensely fragile and volatile world of our expectations. Looking around at all our friends, neighbors and relatives, we come to the amazingly false conclusion that there is a better way. That we don't have enough. That we could be having it easier. That we should be having more fun. And yet, what are those expectations built upon? An entire chain of people looking back over their shoulders at each other. 

And so this becomes normal, because others do it, while that remains out of bounds because nobody else does it. And we all want these things, because the rest of the world has it. Yet, we would never contemplate buying that because nobody has it.

But imagine how much happier everyone would be if they could stop looking over their shoulders, stop trying to keep up with the rest of the world. I might be lacking something that you have, but surely you lack something of mine. And most importantly, I have this for a reason, and you have that for a reason. 

Other people's situations and happiness should not, no, will not affect my happiness. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Which Type Are You?

There are a few different factions of Jews during the Sefira. Not being able to listen to music is the pits. We all know it. So, during this mournful time of year, when we can't listen to joyous tunes, different people develop different strategies to tide them over until the happy days return.
There are some people who become very spiritual during the sefira. Because they can't listen to music, they play Shiurim instead. They suddenly become the biggest fans of sites like and This was me last year. I actually joined a new gym during sefira last year, and was all enthusiastic about going. Suddenly, I found myself listening to three to five shiurim a week! Impressive, no? (Are there any shadchanim reading this? Please contact my PR rep at 1-800-AWESOME.)
Then there is another kind of passing time during the sefira. Listening to the radio. Or, in some cases, you can get specific. For example, in some past years, during the sefira I became the biggest Yankee fan this side of the Hudson. I would not only listen to games, but, when I wanted background noise, I'd turn on some sports talk-show and hear them hocking about what they THINK is going to happen in tonight's game. Up until lag beomer, I'd be able to recite batting averages for all of the Yankee's batters, as well as ERA's for the pitchers. Thankfully, I've gotten a life since then.
Which leads me to the next kind of sefira-Jew, which I am trying out at the moment. This year, as I got into the car, reached for the power button on the car's audio system, I came to a realization: It's ok to have quiet sometimes! What a revelation!
Problem with that is...sitting in a quiet car gives me more time to think...which can lead to posts such as these. ;)

Anyway, which type of sefira-Jew are you?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Peach Flavored Chain of Tradition

My father has a theory about peach flavored sparkling grape juice. I touched on it already, but I will now explain.
Believe it or not, there is only one bottle of peach flavored sparkling grape juice in the world. The bottle was created one fine day in a factory somewhere off the coast of some river. From there, this grape juice, or PFSGJ, was taken by truck to a heimishe store on a busy street somewhere in a busy Jewish neighborhood.
Meanwhile, it's been a hectic day for Mrs. Fefferkorn. Her food processor broke halfway through making her potato kugel. Her two year old, shmuly, fell off his chair and got a nose bleed. Her four year old, rivky, not to be out done, had a tantrum over the fact that shmuly got a Popsicle and she didn't. At the same time, the guy from the dry-cleaners came to pick up some stuff, the UPS guy had a delivery which needed to be signed for. Both phone lines were ringing. Just as the noise reached a crescendo, 8 year old Yanky pipes up "ma! I'm going away for shabbos, remember? I need to bring a present to my hosts!"
Mrs. Fefferkorn, being the true eishes chayil that she was, kissed shmuly on the cheek, told rivky to stop howling, dumped the clothes in the hands of the bewildered dry cleaner guy, scribbled something for the UPS dude, and handed Yanky some cash to run to the grocery store on the corner and pick up a bottle of sparkling grape juice.
Perhaps if Shmuly had chosen some other time to get his nose bleed, and Rivky had chosen some other time for her tantrum, and the dry cleaners guy and the UPS guy had missed the light at the corner and been delayed by a few minutes, the mistake would not have happened. But it did. And now the world is paying the price. You see, in her great haste to solve multiple crisis at once, Mrs. Fefferkorn made a vital mistake. She sent Yanky for some sparkling grape juice without specifying which flavor.
So yanky went to the grocery store, determined to buy some sparkling grape juice as a gift. The storekeeper, a normally erliche yid, who would never cheat a young boy intentionally, saw a loophole in this boy's naivety. "Aha!" he thought to himself. "The boy didn't specify a flavor!" And that is how Yanky Feffercorn came to be the proud owner of PFSGJ.
Yanky carried the bottle home carefully. Surely his mother would shep nachas at her little son's independence. He showed his mother the newly aquired bottle of PFSGJ. Yet he couldn't understand why her face fell.
Left with no choice, Mrs. Fefferkorn sent the bottle of PFSGJ with Yanky to his friend Shimmy Huffenenmyer. Yanky presented the present to a gracious Mrs. Huffenmyer, who just barely managed to conceal her disdain. Mrs. Huffenmyer buried the bottle in the back of her cabinet, and forgot it was there. Until the day that 12 year old Yenty Huffenmyer reminded her mommy that she needed a gift for her friend's mommy, because she was going to her for shabbos. With an evil grin, Mrs. Huffenmyer wrapped up the PFSGJ and passed it onto Peshy Finkelstein's mommy.
Mrs. Finkelstein placed the bottle in that back of her cabinet, as well as her memory. She forgot about it so completely, that it remained in the back of the cabinet until Purim. You see, Mrs. Finkelstein is a very organized person. But somehow, she miscalculated the number of cleverly themed shalach manos she needed. And that's how it came to be, that she rummaged in the cabinet and found the bottle of PFSGJ. She put it in a fancy little bag with a box of hazelnut flavored presidor wafers, tied it with a color-coordinated ribbon, and dumped it, as graciously as she could, in the hands of the little girl at the door: the daughter of her old neighbors, the Fefferkorns.
And that, my friends, is how the cycle completes itself.
And so, for years now, the bottle of PFSGJ has made the rounds of Jewish homes across America. Nobody drinks it, why, that would be a disturbance of our entire system! So next time someone passes the bottle on to you, do not despair. Recognize your vital role in the chain of peach flavored mesorah
Just smile. And pass it on.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Happens When You Vacation With A Fellow Blogger? (Part II)

After leaving the [undisclosed location], we turned to Peshy, and begged her, in our nicest tone of voice, to find a park for us. Together with her pal B~M, she pointed out a great place. Immediately, she got busy. "Arriving at destination!" she chirped. We all looked at each other on confusion. ("Get your eyes back on the road, SD!") Correction, B~M and BL looked at each other in confusion. "That looks like a patch of grass or concrete to me," was the common consensus. 

So we asked Peshy (very nicely) to try a little harder. She steered us to the next park. That's when the joys of English made their mark. "We're looking to park, SD," was my instructions. Shame they weren't clear enough. A minute later, I heard screeching. "That was a parking spot you missed!" I was pretty confused. "Why would I park?" The others couldn't even understand my confusion. "Because we're looking to park!" Sigh. And here I thought we were looking for a park! Silly me.

So eventually, we found our park, AND a place to park. "According to Peshy," bragged B~M, "this park is even on the water." I looked around, noticing the complete lack of anything resembling a river, and made sure Peshy wasn't listening. "Peshy's been wrong before, you know?" But B~M was insistent. 

So we packed up our matzah and headed into the park. "Uh, Bas~Melech, I don't see any water here, but maybePeshy should have come along to help us find a nice bench." B~M got a little upset at the insinuation that her little friend was wrong. She wanted to get a second opinion. "Why don't you ask that man," she said. "He's got a dog and a kid, he must be nice." It took the man a few seconds to turn around, and about as long for us to realize B~M's mistake. (In retrospect, B~M insists that it was intentionally loud and she does things like that for kicks.) He heard. And I guess he didn't want us guessing as to whether or not he actually is nice. "Do you need help?" was his 'nice' comment. Then he looked at the three of us, doubled over in laughter, and he got a little nicer. "Well, I know you needHELP, but aside from that..."  

Naturally, it was SD who composed herself enough to choke out a response. "We were wondering of this park is on the river." He looked surprised, wondering if that was all. "Sure, right over there is the tinylittlenoname river!" He pointed in the general direction, but SD and BL were too busy looking with wide-open mouths at B~M, who smugly asked the man for more specific directions to this elusive river. We never did find the river, which makes me wonder if the whole thing was really a conspiracy between B~M and the 'nice' man. 

We sat down on a bench, which, according to directions from the 'nice' man should have been right near the river. Having finished her food, SD noticed something interesting. The park may not have been near a river, but it was near an open wifi network. SD and BL had a nice little argument about who's email should be checked first, while B~M decided that we should probably be going back to the car 

Back in the car, it was time to head back. B~M issued some dire warnings to SD about her driving, who issued back some even more dire warnings about backseat driving comments being included in the blog post. And then we were off. A couple of sleepy hours later (no, Bas~Melech, I'm totally kidding! I was NOT sleepy! I was WIDE awake.) we reached our exit. Here is why I say it was sleepy. At some point along the way, Peshy went to sleep. WithoutPeshy's trademark 'ding' when we reached the exit, and without her glasses, SD didn't see the exit. It was an interesting twist of fate that had us roaming the wrong way down the same wrong street as we had in the beginning of our trip.

Thus, it was a bit later than planned that I finally arrived home, and had a minute to contemplate. What DOES happen when you vacation with a fellow blogger? I'd say lots.

What Happens When You Vacation With A Fellow Blogger? (Part I)

My trip started quite a bit before the others'. Well, it was only a figurative trip, sliding down the slippery slope of my ego. I begged and pleaded, cajoled and cried. And I got the car. That was imperative, because B~M's father had set a mile limit, and the [undisclosed location] fell a few miles out of it's radius.

But, finally, with my hard-earned car, and my harder-earned passengers, we were off. Well, no, it wasn't that simple. As Bad4 warns us , B~M doesn't take kindly to waking up at unearthly hours. Neither did our other passenger, (a blog-lurker who will be called BL from now on). Good 'ol SD woke everyone up though, so all was good. 

It was about 9:25, only one hour late, that we pulled away from BL's house. We were armed with two different sets of directions, and Peshy . We were confident that we would not be getting lost, nor would we be having any trouble finding anything. My father always says, "In war, overconfidence breeds disaster." Apparently, that goes for vacations too. 

We learned the hard way. It was 10:00 and we were no closer to getting anywhere than we had been at 9:25. When 10:15 came and went, and we were still going in circles, we realized that it was time to start getting some real info. BL called her brother, who snorted and told us to ignore two sets of directions and our friend Peshy and go the other way. Oh, gee! How silly of us to blindly follow all these directions...

Once we realized that there were two bloggers and an avid blog-reader experiencing this trip together, things went from exciting to even more exciting. Suddenly we were arguing over each and every occurrence. "Who gets to blog it?" SD was composing blog posts in her head, and sharing them with her passengers. Bas~Melech was countering with her own blog post ideas. 

By the time we reached our destination, our blog-lurking friend had enough. "If I had a blog, and were writing a post about this trip, it would say 'SD and Bas~Melech spent the entire trip planning their blog posts.'" Sadly, she wouldn't be exaggerating all that much. 

Well, thanks to, or should I say in spite of, our deluge of directions, we arrived safe and sound at [undisclosed location]. In we went, happily anticipating the blog-post-fodder that we'd gain from a wondrous place such as the one we were at. Our joyous smiles lasted about three minutes, or as long as it took for us to realize that it was not an optical illusion, and that the line really DID stretch back around the other side of the room and up the stairs and around the pillars. Luckily for us, they were in the process of showing their once-hourly outdoor show just as we settled in to wait on line. Unluckily for us, the show ended before we even figured out that it had started.

So, lacking something to look at, our conversation, naturally, reverted back to blogs. (Is there really something else to talk about? Gosh! Why didn't anyone TELL me?) Bas~Melech was happily participating in our conversation for the first fifteen seconds, or as long as it took for someone to come stand behind us in line. Bas~Melech took one look at the frum lady and her 12 kids that had materialized behind us, and turned a brilliant shade of green. "Will you STOP THAT right now!" She asked through clenched teeth. Understandably, Bas~Melech, who is a true Bas Melech in real life, did not want to give off any mistaken impressions about her refinement. 

So, we managed to divert our conversation momentarily, as we made the most important decision of our lives. (Thus far.) Do we pay the extra $4.50 for the IMAX? After much deliberation, and a little bit of counting out quarters and dimes, we were came to the definitive conclusion that we were going to see the IMAX. At that point, it was our turn to pay. B~M was happy to discover that her student ID would save her $1 on her admission. SD was happy to inform her that if she'd go there daily, it would only take two or three or twenty years for her college tuition to pay for itself.

Then came the best part. I soon realized that going to [undisclosed location] with a teacher is awesome. Bas~Melech could barely contain her enthusiasm. While SD and BL were eagerly trying out some interactive exhibit, Bas~Melech was happily reading the explanations to anyone and everyone who would listen. And if the [undisclosed location] didn't explain things well enough, Bas~Melech was happy to explain further. And I have to say it really worked. I came away from this trip with a far greater understanding of how a teacher's mind works than I ever did before.

We paraded around the [undisclosed location] with an air of delight.Who cares if the place was a mob scene? Who cares if there were enough frum people there to have separate chassidish, litvish, and sefardi mincha minyanim running constantly in the front? We were there to have FUN. 

When we walked in, the general agreement between B~M and myself was that we would post the actual name of the place we went to, unless we met someone we know. You can imagine my dismay, therefore, about an hour into our stay, when we hear a loud voice calling from across the room. "Oh, hi there Bas~Melech! I haven't seen you in a while!" Sigh. Then of course, her companion smiled at me. "Oh, it's you SD! What's going on?" what's going on? I'll tell you what's going on. I just lost my ability to write a proper blog post, thank you very much. What's going on with YOU?

The rest of the day proceeded pretty smoothly, or at least it did until we settled into the comfortable seats of the IMAX. That's when SD discovered the wifi. And, probably not coincidentally, that's when B~M got angry. "BL, can you grab that thing from her?" She said, just as I was knee-deep in unread emails. "Absolutely NOT!" I countered. "I've been feeling out of 'touch' all day. I finally got wifi!" Poor BL, sitting in the middle of us, was too jealous to act impartially. "Can I PLEASE check my email?" Some people, so tied to their email... So I signed myself out of gmail an handed my precious toy over to BL, one seat closer to the evil clutches of the sacrilege of B~M, who showed an absolute disregard for the feelings of something FAR more more important than Peshy

Luckily, the IMAX started before things got too heated. And luckily for me, Bas~Melech was two seats away and didn't notice that I checked my email during the show. Or that when they had a link on the screen, I checked out if it was a real link or not. (C'mon Bas~Melech! Don't kill me now! You KNOW I wouldn't be able to enjoy the show if I couldn't check if the link was legit! It was, btw.)

We wandered around the [undisclosed location] for another while, thoroughly enjoying the commentary from our resident teacher, until the place had the audacity to close. 

So we headed to our car, paid the obscene price to release it from the evil clutches of the valet parking service, who had parked it but refused to retrieve it, and then charged extra for the hour we spent looking for the car, and finally left. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kids Are Smarter Than You Think!

My niece is smack in the middle of that super-inquisitive phase. The two most common phrases out of her mouth are "what's that?" and "why?" She was in my room over yom tov, inquisitively looking through all my things.

3YON: Who's that?
SD: it's my friend.
3YON: what's she wearing?
SD: a gown.
3YON: why's she wearing a gown?
SD: cuz she's a kallah!
3YON: why's she a kallah?
SD: cuz she got married!
3YON: SD, why do your friends get married?
SD: I don't know cutie. I never got married. You better ask your mommy. SHE'S married!

(My sister-in-law still hasn't spoken to me since I made her explain THAT to a question-everything three year old but I'm hoping that by the time cutie starts high school...)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Memory Of Bedikas Chametz

I remember it like it was yesterday. Bedikas chametz night came. The entire house was gleaming. Delicious smells were emanating from the kitchen, as my mother stood there, looking utterly exhausted.
My father made the Bracha, and began to search the house. An hour or so later, when the bedika was done, my father complimented my mother. "The house looks beautiful. Thank you." my mother, in turn told my father that all the children had helped so much. Eager for attention, the children would all clamor for a chance to tell my father what THEY had done. A little girl of about five or six, I happily told my father "....and I scrubbed the wall in the hallway!" My father smiled at me, and I felt so special. I had contributed greatly to the pesach cleaning efforts! I felt great. The feeling lasted about five seconds, or long enough for my sister to pipe up "do you really think that mommy needed you to scrub the wall there? Puh-lease! She was just trying to keep you out of the way!"
That comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Me? I did a task that was useless? How could it be?
I thought back to how I spent over an hour of my life going over and scrubbing the same square foot of wall space that only got dirtier as I went along. And I thought about the puddle of soapy water I had sat in, the puddle that grew larger as I 'cleaned.'
And I was incredulous. Could my sister be telling the truth? Could it be that I really had been USELESS? I was crushed.
Looking back, I feel silly. Of COURSE my mother was cringing as she watched me mess up her floor with a puddle of soapy water. Of course my mother had no reason for me to scrub the wall.
But the lesson I learned lived on. My mother made me feel so good, so useful. And even after my sister blew the whistle and exposed my mother's trick, Mom managed to smooth it out, and make the 5-year-old SD feel better.
Because, looking back, I realize that there
is no better feeling in the world that that of being useful, of being needed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The True Hero of Erev Pesach

I had really promised myself that I am not blogging about pesach cleaning anymore. I already wrote three posts on the topic, and, as my father likes to say, that's your limit. (Well, he really says it about making jokes, and we all know that there is nothing funny about cleaning for pesach, so I guess I am ok.)
But either way, this topic seriously begged a blog post, and so, here I am...blogging about pesach cleaning. It'll most likely be a very short post, cuz I can really sum it all up in one line. Don't worry. I won't.

Our cleaning lady does not work for us full time. She comes to our house once a week. The poor woman gets some awful tasks, which we save all week for her. I can't go into further detail, because I am kinda embarrassed. Anyway, we never really think much about the other days, and where she goes to clean. Not until recently, anyhow. See, she was busy cleaning our kitchen, when I noticed something strange. This Spanish cleaning woman is more machmir than we are! That's when I realized....she must work for someone very strict on the other days. Maria (is that Spanish for cleaning lady?) was taking toothpicks and cleaning the cracks in our fridge. She was scrubbing parts of our kitchen that I never even knew existed!
Funny, but that is how it goes. She sees craziness in one house, brings it over to the other...and next year I'm sure we will consider sticking toothpicks into cracks of the fridge an elte minhag from our elte zaideh...
It's funny though, cuz cleaning ladies have an important roll in cleaning for pesach, and it's not what you think.
As pesach gets closer and we are stuck with things that we never wanted in the first place, such as sparkling peach flavored grape juice (which reminds me that I need to write a blog post about this, someone, please remind me..), decorative boxes of chocolate mints, mini packets of flavored oatmeal, individually wrapped hazelnut flavored wafers, and other assorted junk, we have a problem. We hate to waste food, not to mention the fact that a are bound by the mitzvah of Baal Tashchis. Yet purim is strategically placed just one month before pesach. It is G-d's way of issuing us an ultimatum. Get rid of that junk or spend pesach in a hotel. We chose the former. And that is where the cleaning lady comes in. I can just imagine conversations between various cleaning ladies on erev pesach:

CL1: my employers gave me 3 huge bags stuffed with food!
CL2: huh! You think that is anything? My employers gave me FOUR BOXES of food. And a ride home. [smug]
CL3: ok, listen. I beat you! My employers gave me FIVE boxes of food, a ride home, and an extra dollar per hour!
CL4: I have better employers than any of you! I got 12 boxes of food, a ride home, an extra 2 dollars an hour and THIS tee-shirt! [Proudly holds up ripped tee-shirt with hebrew words that say something along the lines of 'yehudi lo megaresh yehudi' or perhaps 'ani ohev hakadosh baruch hu'. Other cleaning women hang heads in defeat.]

Point is, we don't only need our cleaning ladies to clean. I mean, it's nice that they do, but more importantly, they take home our chometz, and, if we ask really nicely, they even take home the junk that we unearth in our spring cleaning endeavors. But, most important of all, the cleaning ladies are there to spread chumras from one Jewish house to another. Because everyone knows you can never be machmir enough when it comes to pesach.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Where the REAL Chometz Is

It's funny, ya know? People go crazy over cleaning for pesach. So crazy, in fact, that they start to forget what the POINT is: to get rid of chometz. Yeah, I know it's a real revelation. 
So the other night, as I was cleaning my desk drawer for 'pesach', I was thinking about the irony of the whole thing. I never, not ONCE, ate in my drawer. On the other hand, I glanced over at my laptop, and I saw a couple of crackers resting on it. I mean, cleaning is hungry work!
And then I realized that most likely, the three most chometzdik things I own are my laptop, my cell phone and my iPod. (In that order.)
And yet, they are neglected in the spring-cleaning frenzy we impose on ourselves. But the more I think about it, the more I understand this thing I once read. It was the account of a technical support representative, which I will paraphrase here.

"A customer called complaining that her brand new keyboard stopped working. After trouble-shooting for a while, I could not find anything wrong. I probed a bit, until I finally discovered what had happened. The customer had decided to clean her new keyboard. She soaked it in the bathtub overnight, and then she removed each key and cleaned it individually. Then she couldn't figure out why it was no longer working!"

When I first heard this story, I laughed. I mean, how silly could someone be? But now it all makes sense! Obviously, this was a very machmir customer, who simply could not use their keyboard without cleaning it properly. And if it breaks. What could you do? All in the name of a chag kasher v'sameach!

And so, if I disappear for the entire week of pesach, you'll know that I've sold my laptop with the chometz, rather than soak it overnight in the bathtub. Cuz I've learned my lesson already... ;)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For Those Unaffected By The Shidduch Crisis

My father has a chavrusa who is a source of amusement to MP and I. My father insists that he is one of the most brilliant people he has ever met. Mind you, my father is an extreme genius, who works in an intellectual field and thus deals with some seriously brilliant people. So trust me, when my father says someone is smart, they are.
Why do we find this man amusing? Well, it's because he is a 22 year old belzer chassid.
And he has 2 kids.
No, that wasn't a typo. He got married at the age of 19, and now, three years later, he has 2 kids. It's a little weirder when you put into perspective. He is the same age as MP! (And naturally he is a lot more worried about our respective states of single hood than my father is.)
Something he told my father recently made me really laugh though. He told my father the following joke. Belz considers themselves to be a very open minded chasidus, as opposed to Skvere (New Square), which apparently, is considered quite the opposite. So he said:
"In New Square, they get married so young, when a couple has shalom bayis problems they come and give them each a lolly pop."
Yeah, it's especially amusing coming from a guy who got married at 19, huh?
It got me me, this man is pretty extreme. He got married really young. To him, I'm a spinster with absolutely no hope of ever getting a semi-decent shidduch as a result of my age. And a guy (bucher;) from new square who gets married at 18 is extreme, getting married so young.
Isn't this the way it always goes in life? Like they say about driving: "everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster is a maniac."