Sunday, June 28, 2009

On Mormons Et Al

For whatever reason, I've always been a magnet on the Mormon radar. Everywhere I've travelled, worked, etc., they've found me and given me the tap dance routine.

So I always wondered what it was about me that attracted that element. Did I look particularly alone and in turn vulnerable? A thinker (since I'm invariably lost in thought while taking public transpo)? And then this afternoon it hit me that's it's not me in particular. It's my essence.

What attracts Mormons and other evangelicals is precisely the innate holiness I carry within me, like all yiddin. It's that they pick up on and that they try to convert over to their side.

Sometimes, the answer is so obvious, and yet we just don't see it until it bangs us over the head...

The Bubbe Speaks

I let it slip this week to one of my "families" here in Flatbush that I'm planning to ditch the Greater NYC area in the next several months to return to my native land. My declaration met with the expect New Yorker incredulity. I mean, who leaves NY, right?

Anyhow I had the pleasure of eating lunch at the said family's yesterday, and even more importantly, the opportunity to catch up with "Bubbe", the matriarch who has inspired quite a few posts. I just love her, and not only because she is a fellow Yekki. Well, okay, maybe that explains the meeting of the minds, but she is just a very wise old woman- and I mean that as the highest compliment. The topic inevitably turned to my planned relocation, and Bubbe weighed in with her two cents.

Basically, the gist of her comment is that I should stay in New York for the next year or so in order to find a shidduch. If you want to find a shidduch, New York is the place to be, and I should find a partner and then move. I explained to her that it was precisely because of the dating pool in New York that I felt I will need to search elsewhere. I've been thinking long and hard about what I want my life to be like, the one I want to share with any future anyone, if Hashem should be so kind as to eventually send such a person my way.

And I've realized a few things about what makes me happy. Now, obviously marriage isn't about happiness per se; it's about sharing your life with someone, about building and growing with someone. That said though, I want to try to get back to the things that ground me, because without that, I'm never going to be ready to start dating again. I need to get myself back to a happy and healthy self physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And I truly believe that for me, that means leaving New York, and returning to Canada.

Problem is, Bubbe is a very wise lady. So now I'm thinking about what she said. Any thoughts, people?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

End of an Era

I can hear the typical Brooklyn comment already: "They're goyim. Who cares?".

As a child of the '70s, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett creeped into my childhood and adolescence. True, I knew I could never be as pretty as Farrah, and I didn't listen to rock or pop until I was into full-blown adulthood. Yet their personas defined the era in which I grew up.

To have them pass on the same day really makes me feel like a chunk of my early life has been laid to rest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hunting Expedition

Growing up in Canada, everyone had at least a 6-pack of beer in their fridge. It was basically de rigeur, up there with common etiquette, e.g. offering someone a coffee or tea as soon as they entered your house. And you generally socialize over drinks, be it beer, wine, or my favourite as a twenty-something, Canadian whisky.

Yet when I moved to the US, my alcohol consumption came to a slamming halt. The shift was partially due to my moving to the right of the frummie spectrum, but even more so due to the appalling quality of the beverages available. I am no fan of bourbon, vodka is okay but not fabulous according to my taste buds, and well, imported whisky was just plain expensive. As for beer, it was bad enough that all I could find was Miller, Budweiser, or Corona, but it was unfathomable to me that the said beer came in a can, not a bottle. I mean, a can? That's just tacky.

So I've kept my imbibing to some dry wine every once in a while. But the last few weeks I've really been hankering for a beer. Really. The groceries around me though have only offered the usual suspects, with Heineken thrown in for good measure. I decided today to turn things up a notch, and followed the advice of numerous friends to look in the convenience stores around the neighbourhood.

After ambling along for over an hour, I finally found a great spot on Avenue P. Not only did the shop offer mainly imported beer, but the guy also sold a gazillion types of cigarettes, cigars, etc. , aka it was a true beer joint. I even found a new Molson beer. After learning that I could break up a 6-pack if need be, I took my bottle up to the counter. The guy looked at me and said "Only one"? I told him I didn't know if I'd like it. That's when he almost cracked a smile and nodded. He could relate to my sampling. Obviously a beer drinker himself. :)

Since I now had my beer, I figured I needed some type of salty snack. So I bought some type of cheesy crunchie, and home I came. My loot is sitting in the fridge, awaiting the proper moment. All in all, one of the best hours I've spent as of late. There's nothing like discovering more about what's in your neck of the woods, you know?

Sweet Spot

Given that this week has thus far consisted of "cold call" emails begging for jobs, rejection emails, and multiple legal issues, I was really needing a pick-me-up yesterday. So I decided to experiment in the kitchen. Here is my original creation.

Cocoa Truffles
3/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Unsweetened)
10 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup oil (I used pure olive oil)
2-3 tbsp milk

Combine cocoa and sugar. Gradually add oil. Mix very well then add milk 1 tbsp at a time. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Chill in fridge for several hours (I put it in the freezer for two) until hardened. Shape into balls and roll in cocoa. Store in fridge.

I think a dash of cinnamon or vanilla would go well with these, eh? Anyhow, I'm enjoying them plenty as is. :)

Happy chocolate fix to you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Immediate Hangup

I decided to do the proper thing a couple of weeks ago, and in the midst of my pre-Shabbos calls, rang my hostess from that second day Shavuous/Shabbos lunch to thank her. After all, the last time I had been at her house was years prior, and it was nice of her to invite me upon my calling her up out of the blue.

She picked up the phone, obviously busy in the middle of her preparations. Her tone, however, conveyed most emphatically that I was some type of weirdo for making the courtesy call. The upshot? She said "Thank you" and hung up. Immediately. No "Good Shabbos". No social niceties. Just the ol' dial tone in my ear.

Now, I get she was busy. I also get she never thought I would be calling anytime soon. But if someone calls to say "Thank you", shouldn't you indicate that the call is ending in some fashion versus simply hanging up?

It was the perfectly ending to the whole saga, and oh so very Brooklyn.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hair Today...

I had three incidents this week regarding my hair. Since every aspect of a woman's appearance is scrutinized here in Flatbush to ensure she is "up to standard" for tznius purposes, I thought it might be useful to contemplate these happenings. I should stress that all three episodes happened within a 48 hour period, so I guess hair really is important after all.

I was most relieved when my ride came to pick me up and mentioned that she hadn't recognized me for a moment without my sheitel. I was even happier to hear her rave about the colour of my hair, as she used to be in the beauty business, i.e. her opinion counts for something. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that her enthusiasm helped pave the way for a rousing evening, because one always enjoys oneself more when they know their appearance passes muster.

Then yesterday I was at the BPL to pick up my hold, and decided since I had the time to get my new card. When I produced my driver's license, the librarian was thrilled by my picture: "You look so pretty with blonde hair!", she exclaimed, and even called over the other librarian behind the desk to review and concur. Since the blonde hair was in fact a sheitel, I didn't bother to elucidate the disparity between my now dark locks and the fair halo in the picture. I just went with it. I personally also like myself as a blonde, because it reminds me of when I was younger and a perfect example of German colouring. Makes me think of my Daddy too, olev hashalom.

So, two thumbs up in the hair department, and I was feeling really good. And then the third incident happened, which was downright hilarious for its predictability. You may recall my previous mention of the two "standards" ladies in the neighbourhood, one who deems nail polish heinous and gave me a glare when she saw my uncovered head a few weeks ago? The other is equally notorious for her comments on both the sewed up slit in my skirt and my lipstick. In any event, I of course ran into the latter female within a couple of hours of the library incident. Her immediate refrain (after "Hello", to be fair), was "What's with the uncovered hair?". Her response to my explanation? "But don't you have to still cover your hair?".

Now, yes, one could give her the benefit of the doubt, and say that she was truly ignorant for why I might be able to uncover my hair and asked the question out of curiosity. But believe me people, such was not the case. And in my mind, as par for the course with her personality, such questions are necessary to communicate that my choices are unacceptable.

To which I respond, thanks for acting as the tznius police and trying to ensure that I don't wind up in Gehinnom. But you could try to say with more tact, to say the least. Or even better, to wait until you're a true tzeddeket before weighing in with your lofty level of tznius. Because, as we all know from Pirke Avot, until you've walked in someone else's shoes, keep your big pie-hole shut!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meow Fest

The kitty cats have been mainly quiet the last month or so. Maybe they're adjusting to the new neighbours and the guitar playing too, lol. When I caught a glimpse of brother/sister grey and white cats across the street today, it was my first sighting in a while.

And brother, do I wish I had a camera to commemorate what they were doing. Sister cat and Brother cat were each perched on the stairs' two pillars. Sister cat watched Brother cat as he kept moving his head back and forth, perusing his terrain. A few seconds after I started staring at them, they switched their venue to the driveway, where they continued in their respective roles.

What is it about Brooklyn cats that makes them so hilarious? Or am I just sinking to the level of Cat Lady (mock horror!)...


Last night I found myself in Williamsburg at a wedding, and boy I had such a blast. First, I really enjoyed the whole process of getting ready. Sometimes a girl just wants to feel like a girl, you know? I mean, when was the last time I wore powder and blush...uhm, never? And I forgot how much fun it is seeing everyone all decked out. Everyone looked stunning.

Second, it's always nice when there are a few people you know at your table. Plus it was a friendly crowd, so our loud conversation caused others to chime in. It was great. And lastly, I had fun dancing. No, I wasn't in the lines with the 19 year olds; I learned that lesson long ago, the hard way. Although a girl did step right on my big toe with her heel right after I entered the hall, so even if I had wanted to dance like a lunatic, I would have had to taken a pass. I even did a little twirl with one of my friends as we were going out to the car. Yeah, some people shot us a look, but to heck with them, I say!

All in all, a really nice night out. My only complaint is that my ride wanted to leave before dessert. But, always resourceful, I just had a fruit plate when I got home. :p

Monday, June 15, 2009



I finally got around to seeing "Little Miss Sunshine" just now, and I have not, I repeat, NOT laughed so hard over a film in years.

That one is definitely added to my favourite list. If you've seen the film, feel free to comment. And if not, take the time to watch it... I'm sure you'll be happy you did!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

At Last

(No, the kid downstairs isn't quiet yet. That would constitute a miracle...)

I had two amazing things happen this week. And to be clear, what was amazing about them was that they happened in Brooklyn!

Wave 'Em In
I was walking down Avenue M for some reason, and waited at a corner for the light. Two elementary school-aged boys were waiting on their bikes at the opposite corner, and asked if I would supervise them crossing. I agreed, and when I remarked that they had to dismount and walk their bikes across the street, they did so. That two young children listened to their parents teachings and didn't just dash willy-nilly across the street was heart-warming. That they listened to me was downright astonishing.

The Line That Worked

I was waiting at the Dollar store when a second worker opened up an alternate register. Since there was a gentleman ahead of me also waiting, I asked whether he was tranferring to the other register. As we were conversing, the Russian gentleman behind me made a hasty dash to the newly opened counter. The gentleman ahead of me told me he was sticking with the current line, so I proceeded to the alternate counter. As the cashier was still opening up the counter when I arrived, Mr. Russian had not yet been served. I decided I would speak up, and gave him a polite yet firm "Excuse me". He gave me a "Yeah sure" in a tone that definitely stated b*tch, but I couldn't care less. More to the point, the cashier gave me a sly smile, pleased as punch.

For both instances, I gave Hashem a mental "Thank you" for making my day. :p

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Step Away from the Eggplant!

Returning home from the GP yesterday, I thought I would pick up a few items at a different green grocer than my usual one, since it was on my way. I actually used to frequent the one from yesterday, but had stopped when my regular one opened up shop.

Within seconds of entering yesterday, I remembered why I had stopped shopping there. The aisles are narrow beyond belief, the place is always packed, they only have baskets that weigh down quickly with your items, and the line is typically out-the-door.

As I was waiting in the long line to the cashier, the Russian lady behind me decided to chat me up, despite her meager English. She consequently took to touching me to get my attention and otherwise specify what she was trying to convey. However, when she wiped her nose then touched my eggplant and asked why I had only bought one, I almost snapped. It's one thing to infect my eggplant; it's another to question my purchasing habits.

I shrugged then let her go ahead of me so I could be rid of her. I think I'll be staying with my current green grocer from now on...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Got that booster shot this afternoon. I managed to impress the GP by providing "diphtheria" when he drew a temporary blank on what the non-tetanus part of the acronym stood for. Tee-hee. That almost makes up for how much my arm hurts right now. :p

Back to the ice pack I go...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pigeon Brain

Due to my having felt under the weather the past week, what with the concussion and all, I didn't give much thought to my allergies. I mean, sure I was suffering like everyone else, but since I've been trying to avoid taking medication for it (the medication exacerbates some of my other health issues), I assumed I should continue to refrain.

Then late in the day yesterday I noticed that I was running low on sugar, so I decided to got to ShopRite. Without taking Zyrtec. I am officially a dodo, because within seconds of exiting onto the street, my eyes were tearing up so much that I could barely see. How I walked to ShopRite, procured the sugar, and walked home is quite the mystery to me. Almost as much a mystery as how, upon returning to my apartment, the tearing abruptly ended.

I think I'll be taking the Zyrtec from now on, no? :p


Call it Yad Hashem, but I'm having quite the up-down day.

First I woke up at 7 AM, aka too early considering my lack of sleep due to last night's unofficial neighbourhood party (see Inspired). Anyhow, since it was actually quiet enough for me to think (for once), I proceeded to claim my first week of UI. That's when I found out that I have to place my latest job on my old, existing claim, which will expire shortly. Given that previously I have wound up being left out in the cold because I *GASP* worked and therefore keep having claims expire, I decided that I should call Albany and find out where I was holding. The critical question was how long can I actually expect to receive payments, with the short amount of time remaining before the current claim expires.

As a sidebar, I have been shocked twice in as many weeks by speaking to UI agents that were exceedingly pleasant and cordial. What a difference from previous years! Today's lady was thankfully most accommodating, and allayed my fears about getting cut off. She even took the time to inform me that Governor Patterson just implemented new extensions, so I would surely be alright for quite a while (bli ayin hara). In short, the day started off on a pretty happy note, complete with an excellent cup of iced coffee (I've started drinking whole milk and am loooovvvvving it) and a nice chunk of Hershey's Special Dark. Breakfast of Champions, people!

The day continued on a nice upturn for a few more hours. I applied to a new job posting, got a recommendation for a job I worked a few years ago, and went for coffee with my DEH, his best friend, and his best friend's son (the latter two being in town for a short visit). The problems actually began prior to my exiting the house for the stated coffee klatch; I was going through some boxes of unpacked stuff, looking for my old Hot Wheels collection. As I was rummaging through everything, trying to find a Ferrari to give the boy (who at age 5 is the perfect age for such a treasure) and I stepped on a nail. Between last week's window incident and today's nail, I'm wondering what my problem is these days.

Since my last tetanus shot was in 2000, I figured I should call my GP to see if I needed to come in. I was expecting, this being New York, that the doctor would say I should. After all, they all want their money- who cares if a booster is good for 10 years and only 8 1/2 have passed? They said the doctor would be calling me around noon, and because I know how it goes here in Brooklyn, I didn't even bother waiting in and went out for the coffee with the three guys, as planned. Sure enough, no answer by 4 PM, when I called again and got confirmation to come in. Sigh. Another co-pay in one week.

Then the real tragedy happened just a few minutes ago. Last week I had taken RiteAid up on their king-size Hershey Special Dark for $1. Due to my having polished off the last piece of the first bar this morning, I went to open the remaining bar fora well-deserved nosh (I spent two hours this afternoon doing my filing for the past 6 months). Would you believe? I opened up the wrapper, and the entire bar fell to the floor and smashed to pieces.

A nail in the foot is one thing. But wasting an entire bar of chocolate? Oh the horror!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Spurred on by Moshe's comment earlier today, I finally had my rite of passage. Yes, tonight there was some type of party going on at the neighbours behind me (the ones whose children shriek like they're being murdered, chasve shalom, all day long), complete with Israeli band. After an hour of having the windows closed, earplugs in, and fans running, and still feeling like my head was going to implode, enough was enough already.

So I called the local precinct.

They must have stopped by a few minutes ago because, while the noise is still at an uncomfortable level, it is better than it was earlier. I'm interested to see what happens after 10 PM.

I can't wait to get out of Brooklyn. I'm thinking Montana...wide open spaces...nobody around for kilometre after kilometre. Boy, am I ready for it!

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

At a time when President Obama is "walking the fine line" with the Arab world, it makes me so very proud to contrast the President's tactics with those of my fair land's Prime Minister.

Granted, PM Stephen Harper is an evangelical, so his position is pretty knee-jerk. However, taken in light of the pernicious anti-semitism that has dogged Canada since the country's inception, his staunch support of Israel and his blatant stance against anti-semitism is nothing short of remarkable.
And my all-time favourite:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lessons of Nachshon

Having now undergone a full week of unemployment, my mind is level-headed enough that I am forcing myself to do things properly: I daven first thing in the morning, learn when I'm bored, think before I say a beracha about whether I need to use negelwasser, etc. etc. So I actually have a tidbit to share. Pre-Shabbos. Amazing, eh?

When mentioning the offerings that the leaders brought, Ohr Chachaim brings down two interrelated points concerning Nachshon from the tribe of Yehudah:
  1. He is only indicated as a leader in the introduction.
  2. He is the first to go and provide offerings.
As for the first point, Ohr Chachaim explains that it alludes to Nachshon's supreme modesty/humility, which leads in turn to the second point. Hashem had indicated to Moshe that the leaders should bring their offerings individually, on separate days, in the order of the tribes formations (see It's The Company That You Keep). By extension, that Nachshon came first combined with his great humility demonstrates that the reason for this ordering is in fact his personal merits. When a person provides an offering to Hashem, not only does Hashem consider the physical offering- He also considers the offering of the person themself, namely their spiritual level.

Since physical offerings can vary based on one's material means, I wanted to reiterate a point that I feel relevant to our lives today. Throughout the millenia, the level of prosperity amongst individuals has varied based on what Hashem deems is the requirement for the particular individual. Some people require much in order to feel secure enough to serve Hashem properly, while others do not. More importantly, if one is blessed with wealth from Hashem, the recipient must use that wealth appropriately, aka to serve Hashem by doing for the community. Thus, if one enjoys material prosperity, it is because that person cannot serve Hashem fully otherwise. The money/property in turn becomes the vehicle for the person to learn to value what they have and to help their fellow Jew. One without such material blessings is one who does not need to learn this lesson.

And some from Nachshon's humility and personal merit, we are reminded that all that we have is all that we need, because in the end, Hashem values what we have spiritually above all else.

Good Shabbos!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Over The Hill We Go

I was feeling a bit bummed out the other night, so I finally broke down and watched "Twilight". While very much a teen, if not tween, flick, I have always had a soft spot for vampire movies. I suppose it's the reformed goth in me.

The film was, as expected, not fabulous. However, to be fair, it was very well done for a teen flick, and as the first part of a series, it stood up pretty strongly as a standalone flick (as opposed to the Golden Compass, which you'll recall I was terribly disappointed by). So I give it a pass on those terms. All in all, I found it an interesting twist on the whole high school angst/first great love theme, and the shots of the Pacific Northeast were just GORGEOUS. Seriously people, having lived out in those parts back when I was younger, I strongly urge anyone and everyone to visit that region one day. It is positively breathtaking, if mountains and greenery are your thing.

The reason for even mentioning the film at all though, is that once again my favourite character was one of the parents, specifically Bella's father, played bang on by Billy Burke. Yes, I wanted to like Bella, but she struck me as basically just a nervous, run-of-the-mill, smart girl with the poor judgment that plagues those in her age bracket (heck, the film is about her becoming obsessed with a vampire who goes to her school). And please, if any of you are fans of the film, you'll excuse me, but I just don't get the fascination with Robert Pattinson. The man has only average looks, imho, although I admit that he has that beautifully translucent skin that Brits tend to get. Hence the casting as a vampire...I did like a few of the teen characters mind you, specifically the other Cullen teen vampires and Jacob...just not the main ones, lol.

Anyway, back to Billy Burke. The man basically worked as the comic relief, and his timing was perfection. The point when I realized that I was no longer the target audience for the film is when, near the end, Bella apologizes to her dad in hospital. But do we see the apology? No! Because to tweens/teens, that's unimportant to the story, and who wants to see that embarrassing moment anyway, right? So it gets mentioned and not shown. And there I was, left feeling cheated because, gosh darn it! I wanted to see the girl apologize for putting her daddy through the emotional ringer!

That's when I knew I was just plain old. Still, I'm happy to report that despite my sad realization, I also realized that I can still enjoy teen flicks. As a solid addition to that genre, including a pretty massive soundtrack (as befitting a love story in the Romeo/Juliet tradition), I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Feel free to judge for yourself...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Doctor Doctor

I spent most of the day yesterday at the ENT. After the usual poking, prodding, and even a hearing test, he diagnosed me as having an acoustic concussion. Yes, that's right, an acoustic concussion and don't try googling it 'cause you won't find squat. It would seem that the confluence of 1. the noise while at the green grocer, and 2. the window falling on me on Sunday upset my equilibrium. So my right ear is affected, and I'm consequently off-balance (as in, my entire right side feels heavier and longer than my left side), and disoriented by sound/light, much as one is with a regular concussion.

So I've been vigilant with the ear plugs, avoided using the phone (since I can't hear much any way), and have been napping as necessary to deal with the constant sensation of vertigo. He claims it should go away within a few days. Hopefully that means by Shabbos I'll be back to normal. Then again, if not, I suppose it gives me carte blanche to be a lazy bones.

That's the latest. I'll make sure to keep you all posted.


I got this in my email earlier in the week, and have been having so much fun with it, I figured I would post it here. It's pathetic, I know, but I really do find such emails valuable because you find out little tidbits about people you would never learn otherwise.

Four, Four, Four, Four...
  1. Four places that I go to over and over: Green Grocer (Rossman Farms), Walgreens, the little room to blog on my laptop, the kitchen.
  2. Four people who email me regularly: Silky, Ed, Irit, Barb Chansky (via comments on our blogs).
  3. Four favourite smells: Lilacs, cookies baking, vanilla, the Body Shop's Brazil Nut Butter.
  4. Four places that I would rather be: Bed, Canada, California, with Ed McMahon winning the lottery.
  5. Four people I think will respond: Limor, and then it's anyone's guess. :p
  6. Four TV shows I watch: Lost, Gossip Girl. But if you had to ask that, you probably don't know me too well!
Feel free to share your answers!

P.S. Silky commented that I'm so Canadian because I said green grocer. I told her I couldn't think what Americans say instead- fruit stand? Farmer's market?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The List

The first day of Shavuous, I was treated to a wonderful surprise: Barb Chansky showed up to lunch! I was literally hopping up and down in excitement. Any meal with Barb is a meal worth eating!

While we were sitting on the couch catching up, as is our minhag when we bump into each other at our gracious hostess, Barb dropped a real pearl. She pointed out that I had reached my "boiling point" where Brooklyn was concerned. Barb, as usual, you hit the nail right on the head!

So the past few days I've been thinking that I need to start thinking about remaining in New York on a short-term basis. To that end, I need to decide how long I need to be in New York, where I should go next, and what I need to do in my remaining time between point A and point B. Because as much as New York has so much to offer, let's face it- I never have the simultaneous time, energy AND money required to partake in any of the many exciting things going on here. As much as I love museums, and music, and the parks, I never get around to any of them, because it's too much of schlepp just to get there and back. So instead I live in New York and basically just work, cook, clean, and sometimes sleep. Not much of a life.

So I've begun to really think about what type of lifestyle makes me happy. And I'm making my list of Things To Do Before I Leave New York. If anyone has suggestions for fun stuff to do, feel free to post your comments...or post your comments regardless!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Lunch that Almost Wasn't

I was invited for lunch last Shabbos (aka Day 2 Shavuous) to a family I went to but once soon after arriving in Brooklyn. The reasons for my only going the one time were that 1) their lunches are a bit of a social scene, complete with many older singles, 2) I had already met and then subsequently married my DEH sooner after the single chow down, 3) they're located pretty much at the other end of Flatbush. Quite the schlepp any time that the weather isn't temperate, which as you all know means basically ALWAYS in New York.

Anyhow, one of my friends recently suggested that I should be socializing more, so I figured a good place to start was a lunch that would contain 50 people. Given that I like to refer to myself as an extroverted introvert, such lunches aren't generally my cuppah, but I decided that there's no time like the present to try to branch out, right?

The first snafu began when I arrived early. Lunch was called for 12:30, and I made it there by 12. I had been banking on someone being there within half an hour prior to the meal, since with such a large number of guests preparations would surely be underway by then. Alas, such was not the case. I knocked a few times, and then resigned myself to standing on the stairs (there was nowhere to sit, at least nowhere that I could sit without being unlady-like in my suit) and waiting for signs of life.

Just when I was about to give up and head home to eat a nice meal of matzah and cabbage, a neighbour very kindly came over and asked if I wanted to wait inside her house and/or have a drink. I will admit that she restored my faith in Flatbush, which had begun to really flounder with each long, hot minute that I was standing there waiting. I politely declined, and after she reiterated her offer a second time and departed, I reckoned it was time for one final knock before deciding what to do. This time, the hostess's mother swept open the door and ushered me in.

I was quite perturbed to see that the family had been home for quite a while, but had deliberately let me wait outside because they weren't ready yet for guests. Given that right inside the house they had a nice couch available, I found their decision quite rude, albeit understandable. I offered to finish setting the table (my favourite Shabbos activity), and that's when the circus began.

One by one men arrived and I was introduced to each very eagerly by the host. It wound up that the lunch was a bonafide singles event, in which the women were vastly outnumbered to the tune of 3 to 24. I was appalled. The lunch wound up being a very depressing affair, since the majority of the attendees were 1) regulars who knew each other and broke out into cliques, 2) insecure or rude, because most refrained from speaking to us women at all, 3) late 40s or older, and obviously very much stuck in their bachelor behaviour. Compounding the atmosphere was the choice by the host family to sit by themselves at the head and mainly ignore their guests. The end result was that I felt like they were offering a venue for people to socialize, not that I partook in a fun meal with a bunch of people- including the host family. The cherry on top was the joke that the host made when the meal was breaking up: that there was still time enough time left for us to book a hall for a June wedding.

There were many other troubling parts to the lunch, but I will spare you all the gory details. On the one hand, I understand that my hosts see themselves as offering a valuable service to older singles, and I certainly applaud their efforts. They are doing much more than most people, who love to say "Meretz Hashem by YOU" without taking action to help their well-wishes come to fruition. That said however, I went away with a sour taste in my mouth. But I felt that the experience was worthwhile, if for no other reason than I was reminded of an important lesson: Don't listen to well-meaning friends who give you advice, because in the end, you know yourself, and what's right for you, better than anyone else. Period.

Please Repeat

Noise pollution. When you live in New York, there is no way getting around it.

My block features all the usual suspects: a family (hopefully neither frum nor Jewish) that screams at top volume all evening long (we're talking major "vocalizing" for hours upon end), yappy dogs who are incited by said family screaming, construction/weed wackers daily, the non-stop honking of the local impatient drivers from dawn until well past midnight, sirens (I'm near a Hatzalah station), the train running a few blocks away (I can see it from my window), my other neighbours who play electric guitar all evening long, etc. etc. My personal favourite? The occupants of the front apartment who scream to each other while their door is open and/or people stand in the doorway.

I typically combat all of the above by wearing earplugs to try and buffer some of the volume. Tonight's concert of screaming/vocalizing/guitar playing easily penetrated the sanctuary of the earplugs, but that's par for the course. I have half a mind to get a decibel reader so that I can chart the volume of each. Suffice it to say that with all this going on, after my 3 years in New York, I have definitely sustained some hearing loss.

Unfortunately, you have the times when the noise is just inescapable. Yesterday I went to the green grocer, and they had a speaker outside on top of the produce BLARING. It was excruciatingly loud, not to mention tuned to a rock station. My tinnitus went through the roof, but I didn't think anything of it, because I had blocked my left ear (the one closer to the speaker) while bagging the produce. Until I got home and noticed that suddenly my right ear hears significantly less than my left ear.

All day today I was vigilant with earplugs, but can't shake the blocked up feeling or the pain in my right ear. So I sucked it up and made an appointment for tomorrow at the ENT. Wish me luck. I figure I can make it a two for- maybe he can check out how my sinuses are doing during allergy season, post-sinus infection.

Anyhow, please wish me luck and feel free to daven for me.

Crash, Boom, Bah Humbug!

Late in th afternoon, after airing out the apartment all day and preparing to actually exit the apartment to run some errands (see Please Repeat), I went to close the kitchen window. This window has been malfunctioning since I moved in 3+ years ago, and has been unable to close fully for several months after its track disintegrated into nothingness. I have had to prop the window open a crack recently using a leftover slab of wood from the supply I have for propping up the air conditioners. Anyhow, when I went to close the window, the whole window popped completely off its frame...and onto me. I managed to injure my wrist, arm and thigh in the process. Although returning the window to the frame didn't really help matters.

Then last night, at 1 AM, I heard a nice crash. The window had been pushed out again by the wind. I once again wrestled the thing back into place (why are windows so cumbersome?). Aside from exacerbating my swollen wrist/arm/leg, not to mention stressing my mid-section, I felt really uneasy. Who's ever heard of a window popping out because of wind in New York? I mean, I lived down south, through hurricanes, and the most that ever happened is the screens getting ripped off and hurtling against the windows...and the windows withstanding the battering intact. So this was just bizarro bad.

This morning, the landlord's father came and popped it back onto the scraps left of the track. The landlord is supposed to come by later in the week to properly fix it. Here's to hoping that the whole thing just ends up being replaced, because it's time. Heck, while I'm hoping, here's to no more surprises, bli ayin hara!