Monday, April 25, 2011

Our New Pet

Ok, so perhaps we haven't house-trained him (her?) yet, and perhaps she/he is still afraid of us, but I am counting this little Easter miracle as our first pet. Because out of nowhere little bunny foo-foo showed up yesterday to share Easter greetings. And I loves him/her.

Now, don't get me wrong, I actually think rabbits make horrible pets because they smell worse than the 6 train in July, and they don't fetch, and they poop indoors, and a whole host of other things that make them infinitely less awesome than dogs, but if you'll notice, we don't have one of those either, so this will be our pet from now on.

So now the question of names comes up. Much as I don't like the name Hershey for a chocolate lab, I would like to steer clear of any cloyingly adorable and eponymous names for foo-foo (though I'm not opposed to Foo-Foo) like Senor Cadbury. Sadly, wikipedia just told me that, for years, I have not, in fact, known the German word for rabbit. The word I have known if for rabbit stew, so perhaps it is tacky to name our new pet after food. Though I really liked the idea of calling him/her Das Pfeffer (which I now know means The Pepper since Hasenpfeffer is German for rabbit and pepper which equals rabbit stew - stupid Germans).

And it just keeps getting worse. The Boy and I, as children, referred to the bunny monsters in The Legend Of Zelda as Hassenpfeffers, but now zeldapedia tells me their given name was Pols Voice. Which is so lame. I'm glad we referred to them as rabbit stew instead.

Hmmmm, but maybe Stew isn't a horrible name. Or Terrine. Terry for short.

Obviously I need help, and since devoted partner spied the-bunny-yet-to-be-named again this morning eating our shrubberies, he/she is here to stay and will need a name. All submissions will be considered.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Passover Means To Me

It may shock you to discover that I have some, erm, issues with my religious upbringing. Not shocked? Oh, well, I guess I don't do a good job of hiding it, what with my references to Zionist Summer Camp and the like. But I do enjoy a good Passover. For only some of the right reasons. It was a holiday that both my parents always got really into and, during my early childhood, one they shared with their friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. As we children got older and my parents made friends at synagogue, the seders became more a gathering of the people we saw every Saturday. This made my father happy because he didn't feel like he needed to explain things to the assembled crowd, but it made, and continues to make, me a little sad.

Let me examplify: for years, my parents had a crudely written handbook for our non-Hebrew speaking friends. It was a detailed transliteration of the songs so that our repeat guests could learn to sing along without learning Hebrew. I have such immensely fond memories of seeing their friends sing along with us because they could. It was an incredibly inclusive pair of evenings. I also remember how colossally pissed off my father was when the rabbi of our synagogue said that Passover shouldn't include non-Jews; livid, actually, would be how I would describe my father's response. But then, somewhere along the line, our seders, year after year, were composed of only Jews. And in all honesty, I think we lost something.

Now we split the seders. My parents do one and devoted partner and I do the other. My cousin and her four children have been coming for many years, and it is their only exposure to Jewish tradition. I imagine it can be boring. Because in those years when the seder was all synagogue people, we upped the Hebrew, upped our religiosity, and lost those little transliterated songbooks. Yes, the kids remember a little bit from year to year, but I must remember to ask my parents why they haven't resuscitated the books. For my teenage cousins, it might be just the thing to make them more active participants.

Our seder is a little different. It is almost entirely in English and I think that reflects our family of two, one who can read Hebrew and one who can't, far better. We read the story in its entirety, but I skip most of the singing. Devoted partner knows the blessing for the wine and has, over these many years, picked up a bit of song here and there, but I would say that out seder is more about assembly and less about ritual. I'm not doing a fish course this year because a) I hate making fish but also b) it's not part of our personal repertoire.

But why do I like Passover. It's not the text which I find simultaneously simplistic and deeply resentful; it's not the commemoration which, after years of indoctrination regarding All The Bad Things That Have Ever Happened To Jews And Which Will Happen Again Especially If You Marry Outside The Faith, has about as much import as a Nicolas Cage movie; and frankly, it's not the food - dietary restrictions based on uncorroborated mythology strike me as especially non-essential in my post-religious world. No. For me, Passover has always been about our family and our extended family of friends. About making and sharing a meal together.

Judaism is not an inclusive religion, just try to join up and you'll see. While eradication of a people based on the stuff they think is never the answer, and while Jews and the passover text make copious mention of how everyone was always out to get them, you have to remember that until the 20th century, Jews were the fundamentalist Mormons of the world: weird habits, cloistered, unfriendly to outsiders. I don't think that's reason enough to want to dispose of them, but it's not like 15th century Jewish communities were ever, "hey, we're having funny flat bread dinner tonight, wanna come over?" Also, when in conversation religion comes up, no one likes to hear you bragging about being God's chosen. Just saying.

So I try to ignore all that crap. I try very mightily to ignore the text that, in the face of current Jewish political practices, is so hypocritical as to make me wonder why no one else is mentioning it. I try to ignore the pages upon pages of sucking up to God. And instead I like to think of it as Stuff Jews Do: An Open House. Come one, come all, and let's sit around a table together and read a story. I'd probably also enjoy an evening of grape leaves, ouzo, and spanakopita while we read D'aulaires Greek Myths (no, I'd definitely enjoy that).

We have two first-time attendees to our seder and that makes me happy. I like that devoted partner and I have created a tradition where our guests don't have to pay to play. I don't know what we'll do if we make small ones (it occurred to me last night that I have no intention of wasting their neurons on learning a language as relatively useless as Hebrew, but that means I'll need to write up some of those transliteration songbooks), but I do know that I grew up in an environment where everyone was welcome at the Passover table and I'm immensely pleased that devoted partner and I continue that admirable tradition.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where There's A Will, There's No Effin' Way


In fairness, The Gap is liberal with its sizing.

Yesterday, a dress I had been lusting after went on sale and the store at the White Plains mall had one left in stock. In the size I wanted. Clearly the universe wanted me to have this dress. Now malls perplex and frighten me and I try to keep our interactions to a minimum, but since malls force you to pass by 1000 stores prior to arriving at the one you were searching out, I found myself in the Gap. Which was good because the Gap jeans I was wearing were officially getting too big.

I grabbed one size down from what I was wearing in every style and hustled into the dressing room. But there was a problem. The one size down from the style I was currently sporting went on without a hitch. You might think this is good, until you remember that jeans now have a bit of lycra in them and if it fits in the store, it will be hopelessly and oft-times irretrievably stretched after a single wearing (I know from experience that chucking one's too big jeans in a very hot dryer only stays the inevitable - that is throwing the jeans out - for a moment or two). With a mixture of disbelief and euphoria, I got the next size down. A size really only reserved for Kate-sized people and their ilk (as an aside, devoted partner and I have started referring to our combined weight loss as "we've lost a Kate"). But even the Gap salesperson agreed that these were the pants I wanted to buy. Because they were a little tight in the dressing room meaning they'd be good once a day's wearing had been accomplished.

I was a little giddy as I checked out, but also sanguine: after all if the Gap is saying that a size 4 is a 27" waist, then it makes sense that my 28" waist would snugly fit. It's just that I don't believe the real world has the same sizing.

So across the mall to the store where my dress was being held. Part of me just wanted to buy it and flee the mall (harder than it seems, actually, as the access to the parking garage is limited to only certain floors - it took me about 10 minutes to get back to my car), but I decided to try on the dress before buying it - especially as the last time I had tried this dress on, it was a size larger and I was only guesstimating that I would need the smaller size.

And then it happened. And dear readers, I can only imagine how bored you are by now. Please forgive me. It's just that I'm continually amazed by my body's changes. It really isn't bragging, and I hope it doesn't sound like it, it's disbelief. Because even when I dreamed of what smaller me would look like, she looked bigger than I am today.

So I had a little cry in the dressing room. Because the girl in the mirror wasn't fat. Not even a little bit. The girl in the mirror was normal. The girl in the mirror could choose to stop dieting right now and it would be fine. The girl in the mirror is losing another 8-10 pounds out of vanity, not necessity. It is, without reservation, BANANAS!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Different Kind of Before and After

Apparently, I don't look as good as I think I do without makeup. Here is me before my bridal makeup trial. No makeup whatsoever.

And here are the afters (in case you are, for example, a man, the difference between these is the shade of lipstick):



Let us, for the moment, ignore the fact that I seem incapable of taking a picture without my right eyebrow lifted. I am now willing to concede that having someone do my makeup for me might be worth the money. I very much like that Maria, my makeup woman, permitted me to let some of my flaws show. I didn't want to look like I had been airbrushed, I just wanted to look like a more polished version of me.

Now if only I could think of something to do with my hair.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Time Has Come For A Reckoning

I freely admit that I don't warm up to your friends all that quickly except in rare cases. For the most part, I hold you in such high esteem that there's a pretty insurmountable bar for the other people in your lives. It's not that I don't expect them to live up to it, it's just that you deserve the best and I feel antipathy towards those of your circle who seem unworthy of you.

Which is why I am proposing a cull. You see, in the past couple of weeks, a number of you have sent messages to a large group of your friends via Facebook. And a COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE NUMBER of those friends have had the poor taste to reply-all. To my mind, reply-all is the Hindenburg of our technological age: ambitious, but ultimately a complete and utter disaster. The only only only time I have ever used reply-all is at work when, for example, I receive an email addressed to, say, 4-7 people about something we're all working on that needs a response everyone can read, and I maintain that's the only time it should be used. If you send out an email that says, "does anyone know a good place to get a taco in St. Louis?" I don't need to see EVERYONE's response. Only you need to see that. So my getting 5-6 million responses that range from "El Tacqueria on 7th and Main" to "nope" to "i like tacos :)" makes me a little homicidal.

Why are your friends like this?

Are they mentally challenged? Blind, perhaps? Are they all such egomaniacs that they think their little responses are of interest to the rest of the distribution list?

I propose a test: send out a mass email or facebook message and see which of your recipients replies-all; then unfriend those that do, virtually and in real life.

It will make my life much much better, and it will go a long way towards ensuring that you surround yourselves only with those people worthy of your company.