Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Quick, Pretty Nails

I do love color on my nails. I prefer to do my nails myself, and sometimes I don't have the time to wait between coats and for drying. Then, there is the ravages of Shabbos prep—happily wielding my knives, my beautiful manicure can get sliced and diced.

I used to think that if I wasn't applying any color at all, then what would be the point of a clear, quick-drying topcoat? Ma used to encourage it, but my interest was not piqued. 

This past Erev Pesach, it seemed a shame to enter the holiday without tending to my ravaged nails at all. So I pushed back the cuticles following a shower, shaped them with my trusty glass file, and painted on two quick-drying, supposedly nail-strengthening topcoats. 

Oh, how pretty.

Huh. There is something to it. 

It doesn't take much time, and the steps can be broken up whenever one has a few minutes (glass files, I noticed, don't make loud, raspy noises like standard files, making them unobtrusive when on public transportation).  

Also, if they get chipped, no one can tell. Plus my nails seemed to crack less considering I spent first days primarily washing dishes.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: IX

We like to think we are above petty jealousy and envy. But we are sooooo not. At least, I'm not. If you are, move along. You'll glean nothing from this post, and you are awesome. 

Once, in my single days, I was walking down a Manhattan street and I passed a frum couple. His arm was around her shoulders; they were smiling blissfully at each other.  

A shot of envy surged through me, so violently painful that my head, of its own accord, jerked away. Seeing such joy, so out of reach, was like a knife in the heart. 

It wasn't much different every time I heard of an engagement. If the couple was "older," then I had the graciousness to be happy for them; if younger, I was a tad despondent. 

Chevi Garfinkel, bless her, addresses such reactions to others' bracha by advocating "dancing in others' rain." Rain is bracha. Marriage, she reminds us, isn't an achievement. It's not from one's efforts. It's a bracha. Ergo, if someone is so blessed, rejoicing with them, while they are showered in bracha, means you will be showered too. 
https://travelinspirecreate.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/learn-to-dance-in-the-rain.jpg?w=568
We aren't all the same, Chevi reminds us. We each have our own paths, our own twists and turns, our own milestones. Someone getting married before me has nothing to do with me. That's their path. Mine is another. 

Luke asked me if marriage was worth the wait. I can say, looking back, that YES. I may be a decrepit 32, but yes, it was totally worth it. My time on my track, learning, changing, progressing—if we had met when I was 20, or 25, heck, maybe even 30—it would not be the same. 

I know of a woman with an older single daughter. But every time she hears of an engagement or wedding she smiles with true happiness.

Did I achieve that madreiga in my single years? Heck no. I knew, cognitively, that my envy was my enemy, but I couldn't quite let go. But I tried, and when I tried, I certainly stayed sane.

Friday, April 20, 2018

True Romance

I repeat, I have never been typically romantic. Even when I read trashy Regency romances (I was a teenager, they were fun, and I would read them again), the usual fantasized scenes involving a sprained ankle and a horsebacked savior (that one is courtesy of Jane Austen) were mentally absent. 
https://reginajeffers.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/s2526swilloughbymarianne.jpg
I believed, from an early age, that romance doesn't really mean much. It isn't proof of love to buy someone a bouquet from the drugstore while picking up antacids. It's not effort. It's a sweet gesture. At the end of a breakup, no man complains, "But I bought you flowers!" 
http://theromantic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/giving-girls-flowers-first-family-date.jpg
I would actually prefer a bunch of parsley. More useful.
Due to divine timing, to quote my mother-in-law, Han and I had "the trial by fire." When someone is there for you when your world is falling apart? That's romance I believe in. 

As does Heather Havrilesky.    

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How to Begin

"Eating healthy" can be very confusing. As my brother-in-law dryly noted, many a recipe claims to be "healthy" when they are drowning in sugar, fat, and salt. 

Some people really don't know how to begin. My journey began at 17, when, for some reason, I decided to eat healthy. I started by cutting out most processed foods, and as the years passed I heard more, researched more, learned more, and numerous items were continuously dropped while others were added. 

And I still have a long way to go! Does anyone here know how to go to someone's Shabbos table, be a good guest, and not go home hating herself? Anyone? 
https://www.joyofkosher.com/.image/ar_16:9%2Cc_fill%2Ccs_srgb%2Cg_faces:center%2Cq_80%2Cw_620/MTU0MDM3OTY4ODYyOTc5ODM1/shabbat-table.jpg
For a little education, here are a few articles: 

Monday, April 16, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: VIII

Before I began dating, I was a wide-eyed, gullible innocent. I grew up, B'H, in a wholesome home. I was truthful to the point of self-incrimination. I truly thought that the world was the same. 

Well, I learned otherwise soon enough. 

Even though I had been bullied and teased in school, I associated that behavior with children, not adults. I didn't realize that "grown-ups" are just as capable of interacting with others by less-than-noble means. 

I also naively assumed that those who called up redting had my best interests at heart. It was more like "good enough for yenem." He's a wonderful boy! For you! Not my daughter! No way! But for you, perfect! 

Slowly, to avoid post-date barfing, I began to toughen up. I knew I could no longer believe anyone—and I mean anyone. The self-proclaimed stranger shadchan certainly didn't know me. But when close family and close friends began messing up, that's when I knew I was pretty much alone in this.

It doesn't mean I morphed into a hard-eyed, tough-talking jade. I like to think I maintained my composure, refinement, and dignity (in public, at least. I ranted enough behind closed doors, to fellow single friends, and on the blog). 

Staying politely firm to one's convictions by straightening the backbone can be a challenge. 

Han says that who, in the end, gets the happy ending, the title of "hero"? It's the person who didn't give in. That remained true to his (or her) values, struggling through the obstacles, and emerged—muddy and sweaty, valiant and triumphant—at the top.

Those who gave in, those who "settled"— they don't get the closing movie credits of swelling violins. Would you root for the character who sold out? Not likely. 

The shidduch world barriers are different from ToughMudder, but no less exhausting. Your supposed advocates may turn on you and call you "picky." You will be harassed by complete strangers to go out with their suggestions, who on paper, are totally cray-cray. You will go on dates that you knew were fruitless, and may have to hurt and reject and feel like scum. You will develop heightened senses for detecting potential false information. You may have a frustrating dating drought, and then when a shidduch finally comes your way, wish you were back in that drought.  

I probably left out a few other givens, but you get the point. 

Discover your strength. Not bitterness. Strength. The strength that comes from self-belief and self-conviction.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Krazy" Kallahs

It is a complaint of feminists that females are often straddled with different labels for similar qualities than males are. Like how little girls are "bossy," while boys are "assertive." I will concede my niece is bossy. But her brother is a dictator. I don't think the latter term has a more flattering vibe than the former. 

Kelsey McKinney takes umbrage at the moniker of "bridezilla." She claims that "everyone" has expectations that a wedding should be slam-bang amazing, but that the bride shouldn't be assertive in insisting on what she wants lest she be maligned by the above. 
http://www.chicagonow.com/little-merry-sunshine/files/2014/11/bridezilla.png
As someone who just experienced her own wedding, I beg to differ. 

I will concede that in the frum New York world, wedding planning is not as exhausting (even though it is pretty darn exhausting). Our society is set up for weddings, and many matters do not have to be micromanaged. And yet. And yet: 

I never dreamed about my wedding. I fantasized about married life, but not the wedding itself. I had visions of my gown, but otherwise, frankly? Eh. 
https://i.pinimg.com/474x/8b/8a/b7/8b8ab7e5f3d11c3fad0fb8127f66f512.jpg
Additionally, following Ma's passing, I simply wanted this to be a joyous celebration with my family, especially the kinfauna who have been badgering me for a wedding for a decade. In very few areas did I have a strong opinion to voice, and if I did, who says one has to be fire-breathing? What came pretty close to breaking me was seating arrangements, but that left me limp and GERD-ridden (maybe I was fire-breathing), not FURIOUS. 
My sister-in-law noted the difference between two simchos she attended. By Party A, everything was choreographed to perfection. But the hostess was so nervous that the negative vibes affected the guests' enjoyment. However, Party B had a major goof: the power went out. And the hosts laughed. (The electricity came back.)

Party B was a lot more fun than Party A, my sister-in-law said, because it really depends on the energy the hosts exude. 
https://i.pinimg.com/564x/94/42/9b/94429b944fdeb172b1f23a2298451edc--gatsby-wedding-wedding-bells.jpg
Of course there were a few wedding day hiccups. But I refused to let them overpower me or my family. We were going to be happy and mindful, dammit. 

Afterwards, I was surprised how many people told me the wedding was so much fun. Luke observed, "That's what happens when you don't give a—," well, I'll omit the impolite emoji he used. 

A party has to be planned, of course. But it should be enjoyed. By everyone. Including the bride.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: VII

A friend of Han's was opining about marrying young. He felt cheated, in some ways, of the experiences he could have had, like traveling child-free (maybe spouse-free?). 

I know when singles hear marrieds kvetching they want to smack them upside the head. But it shows there are pros and cons to every situation. 

I remind my audience of this post from a long while back. While I was self-conscious about my singleness, my wedded peers thought I was having a grand old time, free from financial responsibility and dirty dishes.

"The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where you water it." —Neil Barringham

I'm not saying that singles shouldn't work towards marriage. But if it isn't happening, enjoy yourselves. There will be experiences that married life may put the kibosh on. 

I'm not a traveler, so that didn't apply to me. But I had other entertainments (like nightly TV watching, cough) that I reveled in. I read a lot. I painted. I experimented in the kitchen. I shopped. I even traveled from time to time. I loved it. Now wed, I don't feel like I missed out on activities I could have done while I was single.

I got into painting because that was something I always wanted to try, but kept pushing off. After my Babi died, I thought, "What am I waiting for?" and signed up for classes. 

So, my singles, is there anything you always wanted to try? Tap dancing? Glass blowing? Deep sea fishing? Go for it. Now. Like, now

Embrace the perks of whatever stage in life you are at.   

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Beauty of Vegetables

I fell off the kugel wagon. In most cases, the vegetables have to be cooked, than baked again, doubling prep time. Whereas shoving them in the oven to roast and serving the results is prettier and less caloric. 

For Shabbos HaGadol I prepared my usual fare, which is actually perfect for Pesach; these veggies are beautifully colorful to boot, unlike the browns and beiges of cholent and potato kugel:

Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, seasoned with garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper.
 Kabocha squash, seasoned with cinnamon and sea salt.
Red and sweet onions, seasoned with sea salt. 
Cauliflower, seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. 

All were tossed in olive oil and baked at 350 degrees for differing times. Others roast their vegetables at higher heats.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It's a Long Chol HaMoed

Long time readers know that I am a serious aunt. I've been in the trenches. I've been up at night with babies, been barfed and **** on, and read Harry Potter until I thought my throat would never be moist again. 

But reading a child a book can be a lovely experience, providing one overcomes one's initial reluctance. Kids will do anything to be read a book. It's the best form of bribery that doesn't involve cavities (candy), next-day exhaustion (later bedtime), or screen addiction (tv). 
http://cdn3.momsxyz.com/2015/07/Mom-and-Kids-Reading.jpg
Mallia Wollian reminded me of this with "How to Read Aloud to Children." When the babies were old enough to be read to, I recalled the pitiful effort my siblings expended when they read to me. They would utilize flat monotones only, and rattle along at high speed. Plus there was always some form of quid-pro-quo. It wasn't enjoyable. Luckily I picked up reading skills quickly enough so I didn't have to rely on them. 

When I read to kids? The first time Han saw me smothered beneath children, holding up a Berenstain Bears so everyone could see the pictures, he cracked up. I go slowly and clearly. I do voices. I use inflection and nuance. 

Sometimes they do have to beg me, of which I am not proud. Then when I have that warm, trusting weight on my lap, eager to hear my take on Farmer Ben's southern accent . . . like I said, it's lovely.