Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Talk About Inappropriate

Note: The following post is not about my situation with my landlord or living condition. Everyone has already chimed in ad nauseum regarding that situation, and I admit that I will need to move in the near future, aka when I am able to start repacking, etc. Therefore, please keep any comments to the noted conversation.

Last Friday, after listening to my fridge making very sad sounds, I called my landlord's father (aka he who told my DEH that I'm a bad wife). As previously noted, the said father is supposed to operate as the stand-in for my dearly departed landlord during the latter's extended absences.

My phone call found him surprisingly agreeable. "Just tell me what time on Tuesday to be there, and I'll take care of everything then". I told him noon, hung up, and hoped that this obvious rash of good cheer was due to chagim- because maybe then it would last.

This morning, at 12 PM sharp, the buzzer rings. I let him in. That's when the charade begins. I had told him on Friday that the fridge makes a sound like the motor will die for several minutes, then click into regular motor sound for a few more minutes, before the whole fridge goes quiet. So I had expected him to at least look at the back of the fridge, right?

Alas, no. He instead thumped the fridge several times while reiterating that the fridge was new, under warranty, and even if it should die, they have another one to replace it with. So just give him a call. He also mentioned something about the electricity, and that motors don't gradually die; they just conk out. Anyway he's going to Israel on Thursday, do I have the rent cheque for him?

You'll note that today is a few days prior to the end of the month. I gave him an incredulous look for a moment, then went to get the cheque, which I had prepared last night in anticipation of him (ahem) fixing the fridge. As for the window that has remained pending for several months, the part the landlord ordered to fix the window a couple of weeks ago still hasn't arrived. Hmmm.

As he was leaving, the unforgivable part of the episode occurred. He took the rent cheque from me then stated that my problem was, quote, "that (you) don't have a man around". That, my friends, was the end.

It's the day after Yom Kippur. So I forgave him for the comment, chalking it up to cultural difference. But the not knowing when the repairs would be done, and what appeared to be an outright lie (saying he'd fix everything Friday when today it seemed like he only showed up to collect the rent)...that got me. So I called him a little while ago. He immediately became defensive when I asked him a question (the usual course of our conversations unfortunately) and started yelling at me. I asked him to please stop yelling, at which point he managed to subdue himself for a few moments. So I again tried to tell him what I didn't understand, at which point he started yelling over me again. The end result was of course him telling me that if I don't like it here I can move.

I told him to have his son in Israel, aka my landlord, to please call me, since the father and I can't seem to communicate. Why, oh why, Hashem must I deal with this man????

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just a Thursday in Brooklyn

Today was an interesting day, Brooklyn-wise.

In the morning, my davening was tested by a motorist who decided he would lean on his horn- for full 2 minutes. Like, HELLO, this is a mixed-zone neighbourhood. Some of us actually live here, and are trying to conduct our lives in peace. As for the rest of the yahoos who conducted the routine honking, I've said enough on them for a lifetime, so I'll leave well enough alone.

This afternoon I ventured off making deliveries: cookies and candy to those I'm visiting on Shabbos, my remaining stash of ginger almond cookies to my friend S (who loves ginger cookies), and my cheque to the Rav as per the gabbai's plea on R'H'. When I made my deliveries, none of the recipients were home. Yet as I made my way about the neighbourhood, I happened to see my host for Fri night, my friend S picking up her kids at the school bus drop-off, and the Rav's wife doing some shopping. I even ran into a friend of my coming home from Avenue J. It really was the first time ever that I felt like I was part of the neighbourhood. I have to admit: it was a nice feeling.

The evening was slightly less warm and fuzzy. I made the moronic decision to scoot into Moisha's to procure some Starlight Mints (since I had just given away my Organic Lollies in my care packages). The entrance aisle was barred by a woman who was reviewing the babka so carefully that she oblivious to the fact that her cart was preventing more than 10 patrons from moving.

This woman was the definition of chutzpah, and not the Brooklyn kind (I'll refrain from identifying her nationality). Figuring that everyone had carts except me, I crammed myself between her cart and the next patrons to get her attention, and asked her if she could please move so that the patron coming from the opposite direction could pass, thereby clearing the aisle for the remaining patrons who were waiting. Her response was sadly predictable. She told me that I could wait a minute. I politely pointed out that several people were waiting to pass, and that's when she unleashed the litany.

Are the Yom Tovim over yet? Because brother, the law of the land here is sure wearing me out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Highlights from R'H'

A few moments worth noting from the last couple of days:
  1. Had a tender reunion with the elderly Holocaust survivor I had the pleasure of sitting next to last year (see A Rare Honour). I was thrilled to see her. As for why her face lit up to see me... :) Anyhow, over the two days, similar to last year, her tefillah bolstered and inspired me.
  2. Fought the urge to cry Day 1 as it was Shabbos. I managed to refrain from letting the tears spill over. Day 2 though I was simply exhausted and couldn't rekindle my enthusiasm. Hopefully Hashem took notice on Day 1.
  3. Ate dinner with the "Mussar" host et al. Due to the small crowd (5 guys and me), he limited his berachas to everyone in general and left the personalised mussar for another time. As with my previous visit, the part of the evening that I enjoyed the most was communing with the women in the kitchen. I met the hostess's daughter, who was a breath of fresh air. She uttered the most memorable line of the chag: "I knew you were from out-of-town because you don't look miserable. You're too happy to be from Brooklyn". Classic.
  4. Listened to the shofar today, with various interruptions (more on that in a separate post, bli neder). The funniest moment was when two cute kinderlach were obediantly sitting crunching away loudly on their nacho tortilla chips as Mommy tried to hear shofar. The CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH was surprising loud in the otherwise quiet shul and almost overshadowed the blasts. I tried to keep from laughing as I attempted to determine what message Hashem was sending me. :p Aside from "Pay better attention", of course.
  5. Walked to the beach to do Tashlich. Saw at the Sefardi shuls along the way large throngs of people surrounding either wading pools or basins filled with water (and a few token leaves). The scene struck me as hilarious. I mean, how far were these people from the beach? So I assumed it's some minhag born from living in the desert hundreds of miles from water. Then again, maybe not. Inquiring minds want to know!
  6. Made it to the beach just in time to do Tashlich (6:20 PM). I had forgotten however that the paper that I printed off a few years ago uses odd abbreviations. The end result is that the last few years I have problems deciphering what I'm supposed to say in spots. I'm sure I made the usual mistakes this year. Now the question is do I have to do a repeat visit to the beach?

That, along with a lot really terrific food, pretty much sums up my chag (While the terrific comment refers to the various meals I ate out, I'm pleased to report that my salads turned out fine after all). Hope everyone had a great chag and that it was the beginning of an excellent New Year!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Every once in a while, Hashem throws you an undeserved treat.

This past Friday afternoon, I did a bit of shopping online. I picked the standard shipping option, and looked forward to receiving my new long-sleeve t-shirts (in very pretty colours) just in time for Rosh Hashana. Well, this morning, at 10 AM, my doorbell rang and the happy UPS man delivered the said t-shirts into my delighted little hands (why can't the USPS guys be so happy?).

Prior to placing the order, I had contacted Customer Service by phone to ask a few questions, and the phone CSR told me I qualified for $5 off the shipping charges. Since the shipping labels didn't have pricing details, I decided to call the company to see what my credit card had been charged. The CSR I spoke to informed me that not only had I not received the reduced shipping, but that I should have received additional savings on each item. (I still don't know how I qualified for reduced pricing, but hey, I'll take it!) The end result is that I got a refund of $8 on my order.

Now when your Monday morning starts like that... :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Smells of Rosh Hashana

This morning I had an early morning appointment. Yes, very bad planning on my part, given that I was up until 4 AM due to Selichos.

But in the end my Shabbos nap proved restorative enough, and I found myself full of energy as I bounded about Flatbush, running my miscellaneous errands. It didn't hurt that it was absolutely perfect weather- or that my purse was stocked with a nice baggie full of Jelly Bellies, courtesy of my friend S! In any event, it felt really marvelous to be out, and my shopping was relatively uneventful.

The only snafus in my day regarded my outfit. First, my favourite long-sleeve t-shirt wound up with two nice holes, and then one of the nose pieces on my glasses broke. B'H' I have a few pairs of contacts left. I wonder why the confluence though...Maybe to give me the kick in the "pants" to go get my eyes examined?

But then again, when you have spent an afternoon outdoors in the beautiful sunshine, smelling all the delicious foods that the Flatbush women were cooking today pre-Rosh Hashana (brisket anyone?), you can't help but stay happy, no matter what. Maybe it was the effects of Selichos, or maybe of my only having time for one cup of coffee this morning. Whatever the reason, it was the most pleasant day that I've spent in Flatbush in a very long time. Here's hoping that today is the start of a trend. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breslov Love

Earlier this week, I found myself on Avenue J. As I was returning home, I saw a Breslover Chassid carrying his books, and tried to get his attention so that I could give him tzeddakah. But wouldn't you know it? I guess wearing colour AND a jean skirt screamed "untznius" to him, because he literally turned the opposite way and walked away from me. Strangely I wasn't offended, only disappointed that I had been unable to give him the tzeddakah.

But then this afternoon, after waiting for the non-stop honking to cease for a few minutes, I ran across the street to do some shopping. I was most thankful to find that the shop was half-empty. (Don't worry though: the honking resumed shortly thereafter, as did the mob scene in the shop.). That's when I was approached by a Breslover Chassid.

I enthusiastically reached for a dollar to give him and after waving away one of the many pamphlets I already own, asked if he had a calendar. He then proceeded to give me at least 6 pamphlets that I hadn't read yet, as well as a book that supposedly you keep in the house as a segulah (Does anyone know about that latter one? I've never heard of it before.). True to form, all the pamphlets he chose are eerily pertinent to my life right now. That he gave me one for my basheret I expected (my hair is uncovered after all), but the rest? Spooky stuff, as usual.

Anyhow, I gave him an extra dollar to make up for the other Breslover earlier in the week and because he was just so pleasant and friendly at a moment when I really needed it. Why can't all my interactions with yiddin in Brooklyn be so pleasant? :p As the saying goes, it starts with you, so maybe if I read my pamphlets enough, those interactions can start improving. Hey, they call it emunah people!

A Tree Falls in Brooklyn

Since the playgroup has morphed into a school as of Tuesday, I decided yesterday to have a conversation with Basement Lady. Basically, I asked her to provide me a time frame for when the children would be outside; I figure this way we all have a schedule and can amicably work around each other. She told me a one-hour slot, and although the time was probably the worst hour of the entire workday for me, I decided that for the time being, it would have to do. After all, if it wound up being a problem, we would just have to converse a bit further, right?

However today, the hour wound up being an hour and a half. And while I understand that with children you can't be exact, it was too much already. To come out 15 minutes before the agreed-upon time? Fine. To extend past the allotted cut off point? Not cool. So I had no recourse but to take the loathed route, and call down to get her attention.

In typical Flatbush fashion, the assistant made out like I was from Mars by responding with the anticipated "But they're children". To which I mentioned that we're all trying to make some parnassah here- at which point Basement Lady conveniently became available and took over the conversation. Yet she also seems to speak Brooklynese also, because our conversation consisted of her repeating that she had given me a time, and me trying to point out (without actually saying the words in an effort to remain civil) that the time frame had been over for a nice while already. Much to my relief, she wound up taking the children in shortly thereafter, and I was able to proceed with job hunting calls I had been waiting to make.

While I know that the whole situation is pointless and I really need to just move already, I still felt lousy about the "incident", because who wants to be on bad terms with another yid, especially in Elul? Sure, I'm fed up with being accommodating, especially when she seems to unwittingly take advantage of it. I just wish I didn't have to come across as the Nasty Upstairs Lady.

I suppose I'll have to simply suck it up for the time being, and hope that I can find work outside the house. Until I can eventually move, of course.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Thoughts

A few thoughts that have been rolling around in the old noggin this week, courtesy of the influx of people returning after the summer.
  • Honking: Why, if they see that the roadway is completely blocked so that no cars can negotiate moving, do drivers insist on leaning on the horn? How about a smidgen of patience people? Since last Thursday, the symphony of honking has been a non-stop, all-day/night affair. Give it a rest already!
  • Staring: What's with the open-mouthed stare anyway? I was wearing white this past Sunday, and two teenagers gave me the Brooklyn double-take, complete with the over-the-shoulder look. Since when is white assur? I decided to let the Satan win for the moment, and catching their eye over-the-shoulder as well, gave a loud "RUDE!". Seriously...
  • Schooling: What's with the half-day on the first day of school? Is the only reason because the teachers need the afternoon to try to garner their outstanding pay from last year? And by the way, school is now officially what the playgroup downstairs is being called. Because yes folks, it is now a year-long affair!

I think it's time I have another peanut butter brownie, eh? Maybe with a little swig of something stronger than tea to take the edge of my nerves. :p For everyone's sake.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So I celebrated my birthday recently. And yes, I did in fact celebrate versus do my typical hermit routine, because my friends surprised me with a mini-party layl Shabbos. Thoughtful of them, eh? Anyhow, when did I feel old? On my birthday? Nope. As people sang "How old are you now"? Nope.

Instead, yours truly clued into how old I am (read: penultimate to a milestone) when I listened to this song and realised it was a hit in 2001. That's eight years ago. Here's the short version, although true to my trance roots, I prefer the Armin Van Buuren remix. Hope it brings back some memories for someone other than myself. ;)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ah, Memories

Back when I was, ahem, off the derech, my musical tastes ran the gamut. But I have always had a soft spot for techno, specifically trance. To quote my friend H, techno is happy music. And in my mind, techno was to the '90s what the love-in was to the '60s. How can you resist all that peace and love?

Pre-Shabbos, I happened to be in techno mode, and played a few of my fave tracks. It was kind of a rave for one. :) But tonight, when my friend D gave me an opportunity to hit YouTube and spend an hour or so getting back into technoland...well, that was something special. And it left me inspired.

So for D and H (and any other reformed speaker girls out there!), here is a sampling of my "go to" techno songs. Hope you enjoy!

ATB featuring Paul Van Dyke
Two powerhouses collaborate. Could it get any better? I think not...

ATB featuring Miss Jane- One Fine Day
Are you sensing a trend here? :p

Fragma- Toca's Miracle

Ian Van Dahl- Castles in the Sky

Melanie C- I Turn To You

Paul Oakenfold- Send Me An Angel
This one is representative. The man is simply a genius and I love almost everything by him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Can't I Just Be Frum?

I heard recently that one of the latest questions that shadchanim ask a girl is whether she sleeps in a nightgown or pyjamas. Supposedly nowadays, as opposed to when I was growing up, the thought is that pyjamas are actually more tznius- despite consisting of pants. Perhaps they mean does the girl wear pyjama bottoms under the nightgown? All I know is my Mom had me sleeping in a nightgown at a pretty young age. And duh I wore something in addition to the nightgown, albeit not pyjama bottoms. So does that make me less tznius?

Which brings me to the point of this post. There I was yesterday, enjoying a little impromptu shopping in NWL, trying to decide whether I am now supposed to be buying PJs instead of nightgowns or in addition to nightgowns. And that's when I reached my limit. Why on earth should I be wasting mental energy trying to decide if nightgowns are now assur? WHO CARES?

It would appear though that Brooklyn cares. A lot. So here comes my question of the hour:

Why can't I just have a relationship with Hashem, without it becoming the business of everyone else in this and every other frummie neighbourhood? Why should anyone feel comfortable enough asking me what I wear to bed at night? How I stack my dishes on Shabbos and/or if I do? If I wear colour or only black and white? As long as I'm shomer mitzvos, show ahavah to my fellow yid, and try to continue to foster my relationship with The Creator, why must I be subjected to the questions/comments/looks?

Can't I just be frum and have that be good enough already?