Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Do People Go On Vacation?

Ever wonder why we go on vacation?

Maybe we like the drive? I mean, at first it was nice. We commented on the beautiful trees, mountains, water on clouds. We got an easy mitzvah saying "Ma Rabu Ma'asecha Hashem." But at a certain point, the trees start to blend together into a mush, the water starts looking murky, and the clouds burst and release a torrential downpour onto the very road which you are driving on. So you think to yourself, "it can't be the drive. That's just a means to the destination."
Many long hours of traveling finally brings you to your (rather nice) hotel. Perhaps this is the reason I am on vacation, to relax in a comfortable hotel room. So we unload the car, shlep the luggage up through the elevator into our room, and start to fight. When I was younger, and I was traveling with my family, the entrance into our hotel room would be like this: mad dash into the room. Everyone scrambles for something. One of us grabs the mini soaps and shampoos, another grabs the pad and pen imprinted with the hotel name, and the rest pout all night because they weren't quick enough to get any freebies. Thankfully, we have grown past those days. Tonight, we made a mad dash into our hotel room and staked out the better beds. Being a real talmid of Aharon Hakohen, I took the pull out sofa, which is probably part of the reason I am sitting on this chair at the computer instead of sleeping in a comfortable queen bed. Either way, I don't think the hotel is the reason I am on vacation.
For starters, there is the mess. I can't handle when things are disorganized. I like things to be in their place. I like things to be exactly where I put them, and where I find them when I need them. Looking around the room, at the suitcases strewn about the floor, the food packages strewn about, the myriad wires for every one's cell phone chargers, iPods, laptops, and cameras, the cooler lying in a distinctly hazardous manner across the entrance to out "suite", the towels all over the bathroom floor, and the half empty water bottles everywhere, I have come to the conclusion that it's a GOOD thing I am sitting facing the wall.
Then, there is the noise. I have had my own bedroom for as long as I can remember, and really don't like roommates. I am sitting here listening to one of the others snoring, and I am realizing that the only way I will sleep a wink tonight will be what I call the "seminary system." I haven't employed this method since my seminary days, but I will be sleeping with headphones blaring some slow music, such as Shwekey Behisorerus, or perhaps Project Relax.
And while the others might be feeling very vacationed in their queen beds, I don't see how this pull out couch with a mattress the Israelis would be jealous of is supposed to make me feel more relaxed.

I guess it's like the story of the guy who went complaining to his Rabbi that his house was too small. After first taking in, then removing, all of the animals on the farm, his house was much bigger. I think that by the time I get home, I will appreciate it so much more.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Men are From Where?

I had a very enlightening discussion with my family this past Friday night.
First, let's set the stage: there were four of us at the meal, not including my parents. MP, myself, LT (little tzadik'l, who is anything but little), and LMM. My father was engrossed in a Sefer or something, which, conversationally left LT the only male at the table.
He was telling us women a story that happened the previous summer in camp. Basically, without going into too many of the boring details, some guy in camp made up a nickname for one of the janitors. Not that it was a brilliant nickname, but this boy decided to confide in another janitor, and tell him that the guys were calling the first janitor "it". It turned out to be a bad move, as janitor number two goes and tells "it" about his nickname. When "it" found out, he went and hunted the little bucher'l down, and beat him up.
That was basically the end of the story, and by the time he had reached it, LT was in stitches. He could barely choke the words out, amidst hysterical laughter. He looked over at us, his very own sisters, and his very own mother in shock. Why weren't we laughing? This was probably, to guys, the single funniest event of their summer.
Then, the conversation went on, and suddenly, LT was discussing swirlies. For the females reading this, who are reacting as we did, ("huh?") a swirlie is when you stick another guy's head in the toilet bowl and flush.
If your reaction is one of horror, please know you are in very esteemed company. MP was completely horrified at the thought of this. Personally, I was chocking over my Diet Dr Pepper, and couldn't stop laughing long enough to formulate an opinion on the matter.
So the conversation went on, and we all had lots of questions. Had LT ever been swirlied? And had he swirlied any other guys? How does it work?
It was in complete wonderment that the females at that table listened as LT promised that he'd never been swirlied, and that he had only given another guy swirlies once, and that there is a particular toilet in his yeshivah dorm that is especially suitable for swirlies. When we had finally managed to close our mouths, my mother commented. "Its times like this that I wonder why we don't say shelo asani ish."
Then LMM, my lil sis, turned to MP and myself, with horror written on her face, saying "and you two want to MARRY one of those?"
MP was busy wondering what people think of LT when he does things like that, and I started to plan my blog post. ;-)

Men and women are completely opposite. Men don't find the same things funny as us women do. Women don't consider stuffing their friend's head into a toilet bowl an appropriate display of friendship. Men don't see why a woman would need five pairs or shoes, crocs, Chinese slipper, and 'regular' slippers an appropriate way to pack for a week long trip. On the other hand, women don't understand the logistics of eating a lethal combination of beans and barley at ungodly hours. And men don't get why a woman would care about things like 'mauve' and 'Burgundy' and 'lavender'.

But then as one person put it, so succinctly, "Men are from earth, women are from earth. Get over it." While we are total opposites, we have to date, with the goal of living harmoniously for the rest of our lives. Isn't that hard? Honestly, I'm not in the position to speak about this topic, as firsthand dating experience is not something I have mug of. But how does a man and a woman even find topics of common interest? Men don't want to hear about your shopping excursions, and women don't want to hear about their run-ins with janitors, especially not those that ended with blood and a cast.
What is there then? How do people do it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I Hate Summer

I just remembered why I hate summer. I knew I didn't like it, but the reason why was totally evasive. For the life of mine, I could not remember. And so, all winter long, I waited with dread for the summer months to arrive and flaunt their hate-able glory.
First, I thought it was the temperature. I am not one of those people that enjoy the hot weather. I don't find sitting on a hot beach, baking in the hot sun, wiping sweat rivers off of my face to be a relaxing way to spend my time. In fact, if I was forced to chose, I would prefer to sleep in a room that is 60 degrees than a room that is 80 degrees. But as I retreat into my air conditioned home, and prepare to become a recluse for the next three months, I realize that heat alone can not be the reason behind my utter hatred of the summer months.
Then, as I stare in consternation at the rip all down the front of my brand new tights, I think this might be the reason behind my abhorrence of the summer months. But deep down I know that isn't the reason either.
Then, as I stare at this itchy, red bump on my forearm, the reason starts coming back to me. But it's not until I hear my little sister running out of the bathroom screaming hysterically about something in the shower, that I remember...

Gosh, I hate them bugs. From the tiniest little mosquito, that flies inconspicuously around, sucking my blood like its life depends on it, to the enormous flying spiders that seem to love our upstairs shower, bugs just creep me out.
Now, without going into the sordid details, I'll simply tell you that I have a lot more reason to be afraid of bugs than most other people. ;-) So as I listen to massive bees buzz around my head, I feel a little guilty. I mean, G-d made the summer, and I should be happy for it. I should love the heat, I should love the bugs. I guess I need to work on myself, but it's hard to work on myself with these bugs flying around my head and these itchy spots all over my skin.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bailing Out The Stimulus Packages

Everyone knows that advertising has to be clever, memorable, and of course original. Sometimes I see advertisements that make me scratch my head and wonder why that company's advertising director isn't out looking for a job. And sometimes I see ads that make me smile and say "whatever they are paying this guy it can't be enough." Obviously, a business owner aspires to have ads of the latter variety.

An important factor in advertising: it's gotta strike an appropriate balance between the three factors I mentioned above. I mean, there is this beer ad that my family and I saw on the Superbowl YEARS ago, and it was funny, so I remember it, but in truth, it wasn't original, so to this day none of us remember which beer company the ad was for. Similarly, there was a soft drink ad in which the salesman scorned his own drink, and chose the competition. While the ad was done in a funny way, it was a real waste of time, because I have no idea if he was selling coke and chose Pepsi, or vice versa. In essence, all that ad did was highlight the enormous similarities between coke and Pepsi. If you ask me (don't), that's an advertising failure.
If someone says "But I do have good news," it's almost unnecessary to say "I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance by switching to Geico." As annoying as some of their ads may be, it is obviously a very effective strategy, because people have learned to associate good news with Geico. It's a similar story with US window factory. If someone says "we told you so!" an an annoying enough tone of voice, you automatically think of US Window Factory. So whether the ad is enjoyable or not, they have succeeded (isn't getting mentioned on BOSD the height of success?).
Why then, one might ask, do companies still think of themselves as super clever when they re-use the same stale advertising strategy that graces at least five different ads in the Mishpacha Magazine each week:
The Economic Stimulus Package.
Seriously, when will these companies realize that they are no longer clever or memorable? And when will these companies realize that they are about six months and many companies too late to be anywhere in the same zip code as original?
Whether they are throwing a free tie in as a stimulus package for customers who purchase hats, or they sell a pre-cut wig at a reduced, or stimulus rate, or even if they sell a box of red, white and blue ices for cheaper, it's enough stimulation! The jokes about bailing out the bagel shop and providing stimulus packages of tomato dip are so old, so dead, it's laughable.
Seriously, enough! I don't even WANT to be bailed out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brido-Sapien: The Aftermath

Sometimes, I'm scared to get married. It stands to reason that I'm scared of getting engaged. I've discussed the scary things that happen to a kallah in enough detail already. (ie: the way her brain decomposes, and gets replaced with a tape recorder that plays a continuous "my chosson" narrative.)
But I always thought that the wedding solves that. Being the brilliant strategist that I am, I thought of a plan, even though I am nowhere close to having that problem. (In trying-to-impress-people-with-my-knowledge-ese it's called the refuah lifnei hamakah.)
I'm going to have a short engagement.
Simple, but effective. While I realize that the shorter the engagement, the greater chances I have of becoming a bride-zilla, I don't care. I'd rather have a greater level of suffering and get it over with. (Plus I think I'll be too out of it to care. I pity those around me though.)
But lately, I have been noticing a terrifying phenomenon, one that even a brilliant planner like me has not been able to find a solution to. Simply put, after the wedding, some of my friends don't go back from the 'brido-sapien' to the good ol' homo-sapien that they were before some individual of the male species came along and fried their brain.

It gets worse though. Let me give you an example.

Remember the friend of mine who's normalcy (in my sense, not in the MOTS sense) inspired the post about living your life for the sake of shidduchim? Well, she was a seriously normal kallah, as they come. I mean, sure she talked about her chosson all the time, but at least it was in a human sense, not in a my-chosson-is-the-most-unbelievable-guy-oh-my-gosh-I'm-flipping-out-and-did-you-know-I'm-getting-married-and-look-at-the-ring-my-chosson-gave-me-isn't-it-stunning-and-do-you-wanna-see-pictures-of-my-chosson kind of way.
Best of the evils, I think to myself. Inside, I'm plotting to be a little like her. A 'brido-sapien', but a managable one.
But then...it's not too long after her wedding, and I got a text from her, the newly married gal, and freaked out. Did her phone malfunction? Is her husband, who is equally lovestruck texting for her? I wanted to write something along the lines of "who are you and what have you done to my friend?"

Basically, this is what it said:

":-) hi SD!!!!! :-) I'm thinking of u too! :-) ur so lucky ur there!! :-)"

(This in response to "I'm sitting in [insert name of mutual favorite restaurant] and thinking of you.")
After I blinked, pinched myself, and executed all other steps in proving that it was, in fact, a real text, really written by this friend, I answered, "well u could come join us here too. I'm sure ur husband wouldn't mind". Her response?

":-) haha ur so funny! :-) whats up? :-) how's life? :-)"

I was encouraged by the fact that she had the presence of mind to ask a question, but also scared because that first one obviously wasn't a fluke. So we continued in this vein, meaning, I continued hearing about the awesomeness of married life, laced with liberal quantities of :-)'s, in 160 character tidbits until her husband needed her...or something like that.

But that encounter has left me traumatized. Is that the norm for a girl who's been married about 2 and a half weeks? Is the brain-decomposition something that must take place,whether during the engagement or after? Can someone get the drug companies to work on a pill for this? How can we get our friends back?

Am I the only one who is scared of all this?

Monday, June 22, 2009

From The Motsville Daily Times

(click on image for larger print.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

That Was Easy!

Today I was standing in a dressing room in a non-jewish store. I was trying to help my friend make up her mind between two skirts, when I heard an obviously non-Jewish woman ask my opinion on a skirt she was wearing. Now, as I've mentioned before, my mode of dress is as conservative as they come, so I had a hard time telling her that I liked the purple and white polka dotted skirt she had on.
I found something nice to say about it, and returned my attention to my friend's dilemma: two pleats or four? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the general consensus in the dressing room was that the purple skirt just didn't do the trick.
The lady was obviously distressed. "It's such a shame. I have such a hard time finding nice skirts these days." My ears perked up. Why skirts? I didn't have to ask, the answer was forthcoming.
"I only wear long skirts you know." I wasn't sure who that was directed at, but I knew I could help. A lighted sign went on in my brain that said "Easy Mitzvah!" I grabbed it.
"Would you like me to tell you where you can find some nice long skirts?" She looked at me in surprise. "Oh, would you please?" So I told her to look in Orthodox Jewish stores. I discovered that she doesn't live too far from my house, and then gave her the name of two Frum stores in my neighborhood, both of which sell lots of skirts. She wrote them down, complete with directions how to get there, her smile increasing by the minute. When we were finished, she looked at me. "I can't believe how nice you are. Thanks so much for taking the time to help me." And so, as my friend headed to the front of the store to pay for both skirts, the lady continued. "I feel like I want to give you a huge hug right now."
The scene was surreal. This strange woman was giving me a hug in the dressing room of some store someplace in New Jersey.
I was thrilled though. Sometimes you think you made someone happy with orthodox Jews, sometimes you know you did. After explaining clearly that I am an orthodox Jew, and she needs to shop in our stores, I can proudly say: today, I know I made someone happy to have met an orthodox Jew.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some Fun Stuff

These are some awesome links that I have found lately and had to share. Enjoy!

1) After yesterday's baseball post, I figured it is only fair to share this awesome clip. If you have ever listened to baseball broadcast over the radio...you will find this sadly too true.

2) This is a rather popular link already, but if you have never seen the falling sand game, you gotta try it out. You might waste a ton of time on there so beware...

3) This is frightening. That is all I have to say.

4) As a gadget freak and an iTouch addict, I found this awesome.

5) BOSD Fiction is about to start, check it out! Also, BOSD One Liners has been growing, both in number of one liners and authors. Make sure to check it out too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who Is Cheering For You?

There was a famous baseball player named Joe Dimaggio. When he reached the ripe old age of forty, or somewhere around there, it was becoming apparent that he would soon be finished his illustrious playing career.
It was the last game, of what would be his last season, and everyone knew they were watching Joe Dimaggio play his last professional game. Ever. The stadium was packed. The air was electric. The fans were expectant. It was going to be an exciting game, regardless of how things played out.
Before the game, Joe's friends, family and managers told him to just go out and enjoy. "Don't worry about the game. Just go out there and enjoy your day. You've had an illustrious career, your reputation is amazing. Nobody will remember what happened today. Just go out there and enjoy it to the fullest."
And so he went out there, ready to follow their advice and enjoy the game. He came up to bat, and all around the stadium, excited fans were yelling his name, cheering him on. It was as if they were saying goodbye and thank you with their loud cheers.
The pitcher threw the ball. DiMaggio's "advisers" watched in amazement as he hit the ball out of the park. "Ok, that was a goodbye present to his fans," they thought. "Now he'll take it easy."
But DiMaggio proved them wrong. In the next inning, a ball was hit in his direction. It was a surefire hit, probably a double. But Joe raced in and made a spectacular catch, saving a run from scoring.
Again and again, throughout the game, DiMaggio made his presence felt. He hit the ball each time he came up to bat. He made play after play. All around the stadium, 55,000 fans cheered themselves hoarse. Here was their hero, giving them a show they would never forget.
The game ended in a victory, mostly thanks to Joe DiMaggio and his awesome plays. Reporters gathered around DiMaggio, excited to get one final interview with the legendary player. The questions being thrown at him were to be expected. "What will you do now what you are retiring from baseball?" And "will you come back to the game as a coach or a manager?" It was getting late, and Joe promised to answer one more question. One reporter pushed his way in and said, "Joe, weren't you told by all your family and friends and managers to go out and enjoy the game, not to strain yourself worrying about your last impression? What made you go out there and perform the way you did today?"
Joe DiMaggio smiled and answered. "I was planning to take it easy. Really, I was. I didn't expect to strain myself and do all that. But I stepped up to the plate, and all around the stadium I heard 55,000 fans cheering for me. They were saying "Go Joe! Go! Go Joe! Go!" I heard them cheering like that, and I thought to myself, how could I possibly disappoint them? I simply had to do my very best!"

I heard this story from Rabbi Naftoli Reich, and he added the following: "Forget 55,000 people! When I are faced with a challenge, and I am tempted not to do my very best, Hashem Himself is cheering for me! He is saying "Go! Go! Go! You can do it! Go!" When I hear Him cheer for me like that, I think to myself, "how can I possibly disappoint Him? I simply have to do my very best!"

I heard this story years ago, but it has remained with me. I'm in bed, and I suddenly remember that my mother asked me to shut off the computer. I didn't. I should. I don't want you get out of my cozy bed. But then I remember Hashem cheering for me, and I just can't let Him down. Or I am about to bite into my piping hot supper. I know I should check my blood sugar. But my meter is upstairs in my room. I don't want to get up and let my supper cool. But then I listen to the sound of G-d cheering for me, and I know I have to do it. Or someone asks me to drive someone to visit a sick child in the hospital. I don't have a good reason not to, but I don't have patience. So I am about to say no, but I don't want to disappoint Hakadosh Baruch Hu, who is cheering for me to grab at the mitzvah.
Because, after all, what is 55,000 fans cheering when Hashem is cheering for you?

(Please note: as I mentioned, I heard this story years ago, and I don't remember all the details, so the story may not be 100% historically accurate, but please don't let that stop you from appreciating the moral.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lost Opportunities and the Finals Frenzy

My house has officially been consumed alive by the "Finals Frenzy". I'm not really sure when we all got drafted into the service of a bunch of studying high school students, but every non-high school age member of my extended family is suddenly expected to be at the beck and call of our poor little study-ers.

"SD, can you make me lunch? I just came back from studying at my friend's house and I need to run out to a crash course in five minutes and oh by the way nobody else is home so you need to drive me. It's on Nowhere Street."

Seriously, we must all be crazy. We've been running out at all hours of the day and night to photocopy notes for the little pip-squeaks. And we are being treated to very-loud renditions of historical events that are generally found on the Global History regent. We are also having a grand old time waiting a month to use the phone, and longer to use the computer.

So I think back to my high school days and my studying methods, and I'm feeling cheated. I thought I was taking the easy way out when I didn't study. I enjoyed having MP one running to me at 11:30 on a night when she knew I had a killer midterm the next day, and BEG me to study. My protests that I will do it later resulted in further begging, and offers that she will drive to wherever the notes are, pick them up, copy them, drive them back, and then deliver them on a silver platter.

Naively, I honestly thought that this offer was an exaggeration. Why would any sane person ever do all that? It occurred to me that she might be willing to help, but only to an extent. See, God knew what he was doing when he placed me a year under her rather than over. While I hated stepping into classrooms each fall and facing the horribly lofty expectations set by one little miss perfect, imagine the reverse order. Poor MP, stepping into the reputations of a little blob.

My reputation was big enough to follow even her though. Most of my teachers had this love-hate relationship with me. I recently met up with my 9th grade history teacher, who struck up a conversation with me. I was shocked to find out that quite a number of years post 9th grade, and she still hasn't gotten over me.

HT: you know, SD, you were the only student that I ever had whom I allowed to sit in my class and not take notes.
SD: really? Wow! I mean, I remember fighting with you about the notes issue, but I hadn't realized it was so major.
HT: it sure was! I used to I insist that there was only one way to do well on the tests, and that was by taking notes. But you came to me after the first test, having taken no notes at all, and asked me if you would have done better had you wrote notes. I looked at your perfect 108% and I shook my head.
SD: cool! I forgot all about it!
HT: I didn't. It's been years, and I've had many students who insisted they could do fine without notes, but none of them get hundreds on every test I give...

I walked away with a huge grin on my face. This was the woman who had told us that King Henry VIII had VIII wives, and it was purely coincidental. And I was the mechutsif who had gone over to her after class to inform her that he had only six wives. She protested, saying that she was pretty sure that he had eight. So I sighed and listed off all six of them, in chronological order, complete with their kids and his method of terminating their marriage with him. She stood there open mouthed, but changed her curriculum. It's not that I'm brilliant. It's simply can't forget the little rhyme- "king Henry the eighth to six wives was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded." Ok, maybe I am brilliant but...

As I've mentioned previously, my learning style has been described as the osmosis method, where I sit there spacing out, while somehow absorbing the material. MP didn't like that. She was the student who got raised on her report card due to extreme efforts, and I'm the one who got lowered because I "didn't deserve the good grades."

Some of my teachers liked me for completely inexplicable reasons. Like the notoriously difficult and hard to please Peirush Tefillah teacher, who gave girls beis's for high nineties, simply because she didn't feel their tests were aleph tests. I think I didn't finish her test, probably because I got bored or something, but I got a fifty and she passed me.
Then there was my eleventh grade history teacher, who used to ignore the class and shmooze with me. I don't know why she liked me so much either. Perhaps it's because I had interesting things to say, but I dunno.
I know my twelfth grade English teacher liked me. In fact, she told me that I'm lucky she enjoys reading my essays so much or she would fail me for giving them all in two weeks late.

But in general, I squeaked by under the radar. The unspoken agreement I had with my teachers was something along the lines of "I won't bother you and you won't bother me."

But now, looking back, I wonder why I didn't study. It might not be all that fun, but look what my sisters are getting! "Mommy, I can't study unless I get ice cream!" That wouldn't have worked with me. She knew I wouldn't study with or without ice cream.

So as I grumble about the noise of studying that is taking over my house, and the ridiculous demands placed on me by a kid half my age and half my shoe size, I sigh at my lost opportunities. I could have had my family be my slaves for a month, every year, for four years. Instead I chose to sleep, read, play computer, bake cookies, and anything else that didn't involve squinting at barely legible notes, a copy of a copy of a fax of a copy of a fax...of pencil written words.

So who had/has it better?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Basar V'dagim and WHICH Matamim?

Over the course of numerous shabbosim I have spent away from home, in the company of many different people, I have come to the realization that there is only one common thing between all shabbos observant households; they all have a very specific way of doing things, and can't imagine doing it any other way.

The differences start before shabbos even begins, or perhaps I would say, when shabbos begins. Some folks absolutely MUST take shabbos in early. ("I can't get to bed so late. I'm just too tired.") And some never heard of it. ("What? You take shabbos in early? Do you end early too?" Yes, that is a real quote, and sadly, no, they weren't joking.)
Then, the men come home, whether early or late, and the next, pretty major difference comes up. Everyone has their own, very distinct way of setting the table. For some it's easy. ("We just put out grapejuice, a kiddush cup, and the challah. We'll bring out the rest soon.") For others, it's a complicated proposition. ("Here, put this crystal wine decanter in between the silver napkin holder and the mehogany challah tray. And let me show you how to fold the napkins correctly...")
Once the seudah begins, there is singing, which naturally comes along with the requisite differences. ("Barchuni leshalom..." or "Barchuni lechaim toivim u'leshalom")
Then we make kiddush, wash and the next difference is very clear. ("My challah has nothing but sesame seeds on it.") Some buy their challah, ("I tell you, there is only one place in town to buy really good challah!") and some would ONLY make theirs. ("This is a recipe that my family has been making for generations. We put these delicious crumbs on top of the challah, I tell you, it's the best way to make challah!") Some are healthy, ("Whole wheat challah is just as good as regular. Even my sons like it!") and some less so. ("I always use a little bit of margarine in my challah, it gives great texture!")
Then, there is the fish. And if you think we can do this all the same way...think again. Some are really typical ("Real Jews only eat gefilte fish on shabbos!") and some less so. ("Sushi is our weekly shabbos treat!")
Then there are condiments served with the fish, otherwise known as dips. Some don't really do the dips thing. ("My husband likes me to serve him a but of chrein with his fish.") And some like to have a really wide variety. ("I have tomato dip and red pepper dip and chummos and techina and olive dip and dill dip and chrein and matbucha and...")
Then we move onto the soup. At one point in my life, I thought there was only one type of soup which the Halacha allowed on shabbos. Now I realize that this is further proof of our single minded mentalities. I went to somebody's house for shabbos. They were bringing out the soup, and I was excited to have a good bowl of chicken soup. That's why I was shocked to see something that was obviously not chicken soup gracing our bowls. ("Hon, you gotta try it! It's delicious! It's Chinese mixed vegetable and beef soup with Chinese noodles.") Suprisingly enough, it WAS delicious. But even among the chicken soup eaters, there is such a variety. Everyone has a very distinct way of making chicken soup, and everyone is absolutely sure that there is absolutely NO other way. Some like it very clear. ("You boil your chicken soup for more than two hours and you RUIN it.") Some like it just the opposite. ("Chicken soup isn't good unless it's been boiled all night.") People also have very clear ideas about what goes in their chicken soup. (Just carrot, onion, celery and dill. Anything else kills the soup.") Some are sure that THEY have the right combination of ingredients. ("I put in loads of vegetables. As many as I can fit into the pot. And all different kinds.") Some only call it chicken soup, while in actuality it's something else entirely. ("My secret ingredient is beef bones.") Some people like a very CLEAN soup. ("I pour my soup through a cloth three times to make sure there is no peices left in it.") Others feel differently. The more 'stuff' the better. ("I don't touch the soup. Just boil it up and serve it like that.")Then of course there are the folks who have found a happy medium. ("I strain the soup to get rid of the big pieces.") People are also very set on specific orders of operation that are imperative when cooking the soup. ("First, I boil the water for an hour. Then I add the vegetables and cook it some more. Then, an hour or two later I add the chicken.")
Once the finished product is at the table, there is yet more to discuss. See, some people have nothing but kneidlach in their soup. ("I wouldn't miss a shabbos of making kneidlach.") Some people have lukshen ("It makes the soup taste better.") Some people have the best of both worlds. ("So what do you want, kneidle, lukshen, or both?") Some people add some more stuff to their soup. ("Chicken soup with out chick peas and Lima beans inside is just not the same.") It's oddities like that which shock the more ordinary folks. ("CHICK PEAS? in your SOUP? WHAT?")
Then we move on. Some people never differ one bit in their main course offerings. ("Baked chicken bottoms, farfel, and potato kugel.") Some absolutely won't have the same thing twice. (Lemon chicken skewars, Thai beef, and wild mushroom rice.") Some people are sickeningly healthy. ("What's that green stuff, dear?" "It's brocolli soufle!") Some people simply think that they're being healthy. ("Do you want some of my sweet tzimmes?")
Then of course there are the zemiros. Different songs, different tunes, different havaros. ("Havurois.") Some sing Shir Hamalos, and some sing the whole bentching. Some lead the bentching in one way. ("Rabosai nevarech!") Some do it other ways ("raboisai Mir vellen bentchen!") Some bentch over a kos, some bentch without. ("I'm simply too full to drink another cup of grape juice now.")

But there is one thing which stands out in it's respective state of uniquness, beyond any other tradition of shabbos. This is probably the most enigmatic of the gastronomical delights native to orthodox Jews. Simply put, this food is the title song of Country Yossi's famous song: Cholent.
Cholent is truly a mystery in so many ways. Perhaps a topic for another blog post, I will say succinctly that cholent baffles my mind in every way. And yet, there is one aspect of cholent that I want to discuss here, which is complete proof of the way everyone has completely different minhagim, and can't fathom how anyone would ever do it any other way.
Some folks are very picky about their cholent consumption. ("I'm sorry. I only eat my mother's cholent.") Some don't care, as long as it's cholent. ("No, I don't want eggs or liver, I want to save my room for cholent.") Some think it tastes best with an ice cold accompaniment. ("Can I get you some beer with that?") Some people have unwavering commitment to their particular mix of ingredients. ("White beans and flanken only. Nothing else.") Some are against a particular ingredient, ("Potatoes kill a cholent.") while others beg to differ. ("No potatoes? Are you even Jewish?") Some people like it sweet, ("I always put sweet potatoes and honey in my cholent.") and some find the very thought scandalizing. ("No way! Do you also put pinaple and chocolate chips in your cholent?") Some people take shortcuts ("I put bar-b-que sauce and ketchup in my cholent.") and there are those that do the long route. ("I sautee the onions for a long time, that's what gives it such good flavor.") Some are very choosy with their flavorings in their cholent. ("Just salt and black pepper. Other spices take away from the flavor of the meat.") And some are a lot less discriminating. ("I put in a little of whatever I find in the kitchen.") Some people cook it one way ("A crockpot is the only way to get of right") and others feel differently. ("You need to put it in a pot on the blech. Make sure there is plenty of liquid.") Some people add lots of things to the cholent pot ("potato kugel, lukshen kugel and kishke, which can I offer you?") Some people just put one thing in, ("chulent ayer anyone?") some people don't allow anything to mess with their holy concoction.
But, no matter how they eat, or what they eat, there is one thing almost everyone can agree on ("I'm going for my shabbos shluf now!")

What is your philosophy on cholent making? Chicken soup? What are some interesting minhagim that you follow/have seen?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Top Five Signs You Need More Sleep

1- You are immune to caffeine. I sat there dozing off midway through my second cup of coffee in the last ten minutes, and I realized something was wrong. Coffee is great but when it no longer helps you...you are beyond help.

2- You wake up in the morning and say TGI.......Wednesday?!? Only Wednesday? This can't be happening! I need a four day weekend right around yesterday. But instead, I'm stuck at work, with no sign of a break, and that's the scariest part.

3- Someone asks you your name, and you are stuck for an answer. This honestly happened to me yesterday. I found myself apologizing. "I really don't usually need to think so long to give my first name. My last name is a little trickier, but even that usually doesn't take so long...Basically, I'm tired." The girl looked at me with pity. Her look implied "of course you're tired! You're rambling as if you haven't slept in a week." Perhaps if she had actually said it, I would have told her how right she is...

4- Your voice takes on a whole new pitch: I never lose my voice. Ever. Even with bronchitis combined with a cold recently I managed to talk in a somewhat normal tone of voice. So when I lose my voice, to people who know me, it's like anouncing to the world: "I haven't slept enough lately!"

5- You have dreams about being tired: it's as if your body knows that you are going to wake up long before you feel properly rested. Or more accurately, it's as if your body knows that you will never be properly rested....or at least you feel that way.

Can anyone email me a massive dose of energy?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An Ode To My Chinese Slippers

(Er, pardon my silly mood.)

My Chinese slippers,
An ode to thee,
For the faithfully loyal
Way you've served me.
It was on canal street
That I first met you,
Searching for bargains,
And out of the blue,
I chanced on a bin,
Where you sat inside,
You didn't reveal yourself,
But chose to hide.
So I persevered,
I kept up the chase,
And then pretty soon,
A smile hit my face!
I found you there,
In your purple-y glory,
Your size was right,
And so that was the story.
I took you up,
To the front of the store,
I offered the cashier,
A dollar-no more.
She looked at you,
Then my eager face,
And said to me,
With lots of grace,
"Okee one dallah
Give to me now"
So I dug up some coins
Just don't ask me how
And now you are mine,
You'll be for a while.
Cuz I don't really care
That you've gone out of style.
Wherever I go,
You just follow me
No pressure, no worry,
Anivusdik as can be.
And it's really so special
You don't seem to mind
What some folks might view
As being unkind.
It's not out of spite
That I do what I do,
You understand I assume,
Why I step all over you.
But today I won't do that
Instead I'll say thanks
And let you know
That you've joined the ranks
Of things that I need
That I can't live without
And though I step on you
There's simply no doubt
That I like you a lot
And I'll keep you forever
Or at least until
That last thread will sever
Cuz then I must tell you
You simply must know
That back to canal street
Is where I will go
And I'll look through those bins
I'll look really well
Until I find a new pair
That looks really swell
But listen my dears
Until you will break
We'll travel together
A threesome we'll make!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Wake Up Call

Waking up in the middle of the night with a low blood sugar is awful. For the sake of anyone who has never experienced it, I'll explain what it feels like. In short, it's like this.
You wake up, shaking so badly you feel possessed. You try to move your hand, but you can't remember where your hand is. It takes some heavy concentration before you finally remember that it's right there, attached to your shoulder, and that it's that thing that's shaking so badly it's making your whole bed vibrate.
I could go on and on about the dizziness and the dis-orientation, but I will spare you. I will tell you about the insatiable animal inside of you. Your brain is screaming "food! food! food!" and it is incapable of dealing with any other thoughts. So you eat. And you eat. And you eat. And you eat. And then when you're totally sure you finished eating, you eat some more, mostly because you are still shaking like a leaf.
If you want to properly empathize with me and how all of this feels, try setting an alarm clock for 4:30 am, and then get up and eat the entire contents of your kitchen, and then some. If you don't want to try it, you'll just have to believe me that you would wake up with a killer stomach ache.
So motzei shabbos, or I guess you could say early Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:30, feeling exactly as I described above. I checked my blood sugar, and it was really low. (45, for those interested parties.) I got up and got food, then more food, and more food, and more food....and finally went to sleep, feeling stuffed, but still shaking.
I woke up in the morning, and immediately i knew something was wrong. I was feeling really awful. The events of the night before had come back in a flash. No wonder! My stomach was exploding, I had lost an hour of my already shortened night, and I felt all around terrible. But then I started thinking about it...

Yogi Berra once said, "if I didn't wake up I'd still be sleeping." Most people think that is just another malapropism from the king of malapropisms himself, but for people with diabetes, that phrase has some real meaning.
If I didn't wake up, or to be more precise, if Hashem hadn't woken me up just then, I would still be sleeping....I'd never wake up. So while that whole incident was something I would really not repeat, I feel almost glad that it happened. I feel like it was Hashem's way of sending me a personal reminder that He is looking after me, and taking care of me, and that I'm in His hands, and I shouldn't worry.
Like I've said before, it's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What The Stats Tell You...And What They Don't

Visitor trackers tell you a lot about the visitors to your site. For example, based on my analytics reports, I know that there have been three visitors from Barbados, and one of them came back for another look. And I know that there have been three visitors to my site from a google search for "wedding limosine hire". Whoever you are, congratulations on your wedding. Sorry I couldn't find you a limo.

But there is a lot that you don't find out from the stat trackers. You don't find out what happens when the person comes to your site. Do they smile to themselves and say "I agree"? Do they feel an inner sense of calm, having now gotten the inspiration they needed to continue through the day? Did they laugh, despite a deep state of depression that had been engulfing their entire being for days?

You also don't know what they look like, and who they are. While yes, I got two visitors from the United Arab Emirates, I have no idea why they were coming to my blog, and what they spent the average of 8 minutes and 32 seconds reading. And while I do know that someone found my blog on a google search for "should I marry someone with type 1 diabetes", I don't know what the end of the story was. After they spent over half an hour reading who-knows-what on my blog, did they say, "oh, looks like a person with type 1 diabetes can be a very happy and well adjusted person. I think I will marry them."? I like to think they did.

And that person who searched for "frum girl diabetes blog"...did they find what they were looking for? I mean, I am a frum girl, and I do have a blog. Does she have diabetes also? Or was it someone who knows me and somehow heard that I have a blog? And those people who spent an average of 18 minutes on my blog reading "funny shidduch stories"...what were they looking for? Were they just coming home from a bad date? Feeling old and left behind, and wishing for any date? And that person who was looking for info on the "shidduch scene", well, I feel kinda bad, because I obviously know nothing about it.

I also wonder what they were doing while they were looking at my blog. That person who was searching for fashion of navy skirts, well, were they sitting there in pajamas, trying to decide which skirt to put on? And that person that was looking for a dvar torah for their bridal shower...were they sitting there, all dressed and ready to go, when they suddenly remembered that they were supposed to say a dvar torah? (I was apparently not invited to that shower. I don't think I have ever been to a shower where they said divrei torah. But then again, it could be my fault, as she obviously didn't find one here.)

Then I wonder about their age. Google analytics might tell me that you come from somewhere like Malaysia, or Singapore, or Poland, or someplace that I never heard of, like Qatar, or even somewhere perfectly ordinary like Israel or United States. But it won't tell me if you are male or female. What you look like, what you do, whether you enjoyed my blog or not....stuff like that. Only you can tell me......

So please, do. :-)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Top Ten Things I Hate At Weddings

1- The Self Conscious Friend
I hate when there is a girl at the wedding that only knows you, and clings to you the entire time. After a while, when you've had enough of watching her breathe on your chicken, you tell her you need the bathroom. She of course, lacks the self confidence to go on her own, and assumed you do too. So naturally, she is nice and offers to accompany you. And that's when you lock yourself in the bathroom and vow not to come out for a week.

2- The Shleppy Chuppah
You know the kind I'm talking about. The one where everybody who can prove he is a blood relation walks down the isle. The one where they stop and play some version of "Im Eskacheich Yerushalayim" before the chosson steps on the glass. The one where the person that was "mechubed mit krias kesubah" reads really slow and carefully. Need I say more?

3- The Over Eager Waiter
This is true of all simchas, not only weddings, but I utterly despise when you are enjoying your vegetable soup, or your cream of chicken soup, and you put your spoon down for a second to pour a drink. Suddenly, in swoops the over eager waiter, and you are no longer able to enjoy that soup...

3- The Overly Tight Dance Circle
Now, this is bad for a number of reasons. Think: tripping over long gowns, getting stomped... But I have an extra reason to hate em. When I am dancing in a tight circle, and I feel the lady next to me's arm up against my stomach, and I start to squirm. See, that's the hiding place for my insulin pump, and her arm keeps rubbing it. And then...it vibrates, she jumps and looks at me like I'm wired for a bomb or something... Not fun. I preffer to stick to the outer, more spacious circle.

4- The Graceful Mom-To-Be
Nothing makes you feel dumber than dancing in a circle next to someone who is dancing exuberantly, while you shuffle along like a hippo, than a pregnant lady dancing exuberantly while you shuffle along like a hippo.

5- The Killer Heels
I've written about this before, but tonight at the wedding I had a scary thought. One day, someone is going to be rendered a lifelong cripple from the heels of an over-excited dancer, and they won't even have anyone to sue! How scary is THAT?

6- The Inconsiderate Dance Circle Talkers
You know those two... One person comes into the circle next to you. Suddenly she realizes that the person on the other side of you is her long lost friend. So she reaches across you, and yells a greeting over the the ear-splitting noise of the band. Her long lost friend yells back, and suddenly there is a conversation going on right over you, making you feel like chopped liver.

7- The Dizzying Kallah
These are the kallahs that make me vow not to have dancing at my wedding. I can't pin-point their problem, but somehow, the 30 seconds or so that you are dancing with her are bad enough to make you stagger out of the circle toward the nearest chair.

8- The Electrifyer
You are in a circle of merry dancers, minding your own business, when suddenly one of the Kallah's friends decides to shake things up. She barges in, right next to you, and starts kicking her feet and swinging her arms in an attempt to start this dance in your circle. The problems start when nobody in the circle knows this dance, and so they leave. Then you are left with The Electrifyer, proudly teaching the dance to two or three brave souls.

9- The Water Carrier
The Kallah needs a drink every now and then during the dancing, at least that's what my married friends have implied. But my close friends have always managed to signal to me or another friend, and the drink comes. But then there are the very thoughtful ladies who are sure that the kallah hasn't had enough to drink, and they tell you so. Worse though, is the lady who goes and gets the kallah a drink. So the kallah, being a nice girl who doesn't want to embarrass anyone, is forced to stop in the middle of dancing with someone, and take a sip of the well-meant water.

10- The Private Joke Shtick
This one is obnoxious. So much so, that I hate it even when I am in on the private joke. I mean, it's ok when the school friends have shtick, and the seminary friends and the college friends have shtick. But when two or three close friends of the kallah take a long few minutes for some private joke, I feel it's mean. It's a way of telling the rest of the people there "hey sorry but we are better friends with the kallah than you are."

That was just a start...I could go on all night, but I'll spare you.

What do you hate at weddings?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This Is Not a Post About Shidduch Resumes

The topic of Shidduch Resumes has been written about far too many times in blogsville. And, I would assume that most of the people who've written those posts have a little more insight into the matter, as they most likely have, at some point or another, succumbed to the pressure and made themselves one.

So I am not writing a post about shidduch resumes. I am writing a post about self respect and dignity. Well, maybe I am writing about shidduch resumes, but either way, I'm not trying to be insightful, so I guess I'm covered.

I was in my sister's apartment the other day, and I saw she had some girl's shidduch resume hanging on her fridge. Perhaps MP would be scandalized that it wasn't her resume on the fridge, but I was simply engrossed in the act of reading and mocking it.

The part that struck me as the most demeaning thing I've ever seen in my life came right after her name. It looked like this:

Shprintza Yenty Klein, 22
5'6", slim

Seriously? What the-? I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing. "Hey Ma! Let's make me a shidduch resume! It'll say: 'something different, 20(ish), 5'6"(ish), not slim.'"
You might think that sounds degrading, but honestly, is it really any worse? Is this like the girl's price tag? Skinny, slim, average, plump, and obese...what can you afford?

I guess the basic idea of shidduch resumes is not so bad. Like, here's a list of all my references. (See? I did a chessed and wrote it out for you! I'm such a tzadekes you should be extra impressed!) But there is a not-very fine line between a list of references and palpable evidence of a girl's total lack of self respect. And sadly...it seems people cross this line. Many times too many.

Also, if this were a post about shidduch resumes, I would probably mention something my friend just told me. She recently got married to a boy that is quite a number of years older than her, and thus, he had been in shidduchim for a while, and had probably been redt to every girl in North America at some point or other. He said that he has a looseleaf full of all the resumes from all the girls he's been redt to, and each one looks identical. Its as if someone had made a resume for girls to use in shidduchim and left blanks for people to fill in.
"_______ is a ___ year old bright girl with outstanding middos. Throughout her high school years in _______, and consequently her seminary year(s) in _______, she has been beloved by all of her teachers and classmates alike...."
I could go on, but I'm pretty sure I don't need to. You've seem the template, haven't you?

Anyhow, I have just composed myself a shidduch resume:

Something Different: Practically perfect in every way.

I'm pretty sure that's all they need to know about me.