Sunday, October 30, 2005
Fortune Cookie Wisdom:

Still at Mom's. Spending the night here before I drive back to my sad, dark house.

Tonight we went to a local kosher Chinese restaurant. One of the fortune cookies read:

"Don't let your limitations overshadow your talents."
Lucky numbers 24, 35, 11, 7, 38, 5
Learn Chinese - fruit: shui-guo

"Where are you going with this?" - I'll bet that's what you're thinking. (Right?)

Okay, so here it is: I have a BAD attitude. I tend to focus on what's negative in my life and in my relationships. This is mamesh a plague (darker than the plague of darkness, you better believe it). I REALLY need to work on this. The fortune cookie reminded me - don't let the negative overshadow the positive.

One of my closest friends had problems in her marriage like you wouldn't believe. She worked SO HARD in her marriage to keep it together. What did she do? She shut all her husband's destructive behavior into a little room in the back of her head. Okay, her husband had his problems - mazel tov. She didn't allow those issues to run her life OR her marriage. She kept rolling along like Proud Mary. She worked tirelessly to focus on what was good and what was right.

I'll bet you're thinking now; "So, how did you get the name "Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven" anyway?" (That is what you're thinking, right?) Yaakov and I found these little yiddish poetry magnets - you know, the little word magnets that you turn into interesting fridge fodder. It wasn't really yiddish, it was more like yinglish. Anyway, my pieced-together magnet phrase was; "Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven. Did she try or just kvetch?" Oh man, I am a kvetcher like you can't believe - but do I try? Because complaining does NOT help you live longer, as Yaakov cheerfully asserts. I don't try hard enough to make meaningful changes in my life, paradigm shifts to engender healing and growth. I just complain. That's gotta change.

If anybody wins the lottery using my lucky Chinese numbers, you know where to find me. I'll be the last house with power in the whole friggin' state.


We lost power Monday morning, When Wilma hit. We still don't have it - our longest stretch yet. Mom just got power yesterday, so this morning I drove over (with mountains of laundry).

The hurricane itself was so intense, and it was only a category 3. We had a window break, and an oak tree fell into our back yard. My neighborhood is devastated by tree damage. Trees fell down on rooftops, on top of cars, through windows. Huge trees, ancient looking, just ripped up by their roots. Most of the palm trees made it, but many oaks and the heavier trees didn't. A stunning reminder of something I learned in both Taoism and Judaism, that one must be like the reed. Grow strong roots, anchor yourself, but be flexible. The wind is unbelievable, I don't think anyone can really understand unless they've been through a hurricane. Traffic lights completely blown away. Metal sign posts broken in half from the gusts. Power lines littering the sidewalks.

I've tried to be cheerful through this, but I think you folks know by now that I love to complain. Many times I've sung to myself "No power, no cry." (Guess which Bob Marley song I borrowed?) I've told my kids stories about Laura Ingalls, a little girl who was born before people even had electricity. Before computers, cars, and cell phones (Chaya: No cell phones? That's CRAZY!") . How Pa Ingalls would go out and shoot their dinner, and then come home and play his fiddle. How Ma Ingalls could feed her family when there was practically nothing. I thought to myself how sturdy and self-reliant those people were. How dependent we - as a society - have become on gas and electricty and machinery.

We have a barbecue, and an old kerosene camping stove (on which I made an excellent chicken soup for shabbos). We have a cooler with ice. We have a generator that runs an hour or two each day (and gives our fridge a little juice). So we're getting by. It's hard sometimes, and certainly inconvenient, but we're managing. I have heard that we will have power either by Nov. 8th, 18th, or 22nd. For sure by Thanksgiving, we're told. I'm trying VERY HARD not to be bitter that the rest of the state seems to be getting power.

The funniest thing is how much I miss blogging! I'll only be able to blog when I'm at mom's house, and I don't know how often that will be. I hope we get power soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2005
Here She Comes...

Wilma, that windy trollop.

I know we're gonna lose power. Every time it gets a little windier than normal, it goes. We have a very old (above-ground) power grid and a sensitive circuit breaker. A friend of mine reminded me of what our Rebbe said; "Think good and it will be good." But I can't help but be gloomy. We've lost power too many times. I'm so sick of hurricanes, we've had about 14 of them this season. It's hard. We're going into yom tov, and a hurricane on top of everything else.

I'm sick of yom tov, too. I'm sorry to say it, but I am. Tired of all the cooking, cleaning, preparing, yada yada. Tired of hours alone with bored, hyper children while Yaakov is in shul. Tired of not being able to turn on a video for them or take them on a car trip because it's yom tov. I know I'm being complainy, but it's my bloggy and I'll cry if I want to.

My house is totally trashed and I am so tired. I'm really not interested in cleaning it. I need to, because it has to look nice for yom tov and I can't have no power and a messy house, besides. Yaakov joked, "Why can't it just look like a hurricane blew inside, too?" He thinks he's pretty funny sometimes.

So if I'm incommunicado for awhile, remember: yom tov is coming and Wilma is too.


Saturday, October 22, 2005
Rebbe Nachman m'Breslov

I am not a Breslover Chassidiste, but I love Rebbe Nachman. He was a grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov, and quite a Rebbe in his day. The Chassidus I have learned from him is so sweet. Plus, I love those little books that are given out (for tzedoka) in Brooklyn. When I feel down, I always go for them ("All Will be Well" is a favorite). One time I saw a Breslover distributing those books here, and I got SO excited! I owned every book he had, but Yaakov and I still gave him money.

The one thing that I really apply in my life from Rebbe Nachman is Hisbodedus. This is talking to G-d in your own words. Aside from our daily prayer "requirements," it means just reaching out to G-d in a loving and conversational way. Telling G-d your problems, hopes, fears - anything you want. Rebbe Nachman says a person should do it every day for half an hour, but I don't do it that often. Truthfully, I should - whenever I do it, I feel very close to Hashem.

Anyway, tonight I had a special opportunity. Srulik fell asleep in the late afternoon, and Yaakov decided to take Rivky and Chaya to shul with him. I decided to clean my house and go talk to G-d. I went into my sukkah and plopped myself down in a plastic chair.

I thanked G-d for the beautiful sukkah, and asked Him not to blow it down with Wilma. I talked to Him about some issues I've been having lately. I asked Him to bless the big pregnant lady who came to us for shabbos today, for an easy birth and a healthy baby. I asked G-d to stop giving my best friend so much aggravation. I asked G-d to help me fight the negative and improper thoughts that seem to plague me so much. I thanked Him for my beautiful, healthy family.

I asked G-d to help me open my eyes and heart, to look upon those close to me with gratefulness and unconditional love.

Friday, October 21, 2005
The Hebrew Home for the Aged

That's where me and the kids went this morning. Along with a friend and her kid. I wanted my kids to see the beauty of reaching out to other Jews, I wanted them to cheer up the old people.

Not all of the people were "Hebrews." Some of them weren't so old. Some of them were plagued with obvious mental illness. One lady was cradling a plastic baby doll. I went up to her and said gently, "What's your baby's name?" and she told me. I felt sad.

We went to shake the lulav with them. My friend asked one resident if he was Jewish, and the man said "Yeah, but I've been trying to escape." My friend said to me, "Do you think he's really a Yid?" and I replied, "Of course! Only a JEW would say that!"

I met a little old man and I asked if he was Jewish, since he seemed bewildered by the lulav and esrog. He answered, "Am I Jewish? Shema Yisroel..." I was so touched that I went to stroke his little bald head. Then I stopped myself. "Oh wait," I thought, "I'm shomer negiah. I can't touch this man, even though he's a thousand years old."

Then I met this guy from Poland, he had one leg. He was so excited to see us, so excited to see the lulav and esrog. He told me in Yiddish that he had 4 children and 4 grandchildren. And when he heard my kids' names, he sighed. "Ah," he said, "Yiddisher nomen."

So it was beautiful, and it was sad. Rivky was a little weirded out by some of the old people, and I was too. I felt sad that the nursing home was so run down. But I felt happy to reach out to people, and happy to help other Jews.

Then - to escape the melancholy? - we went for pizza.

Thursday, October 20, 2005
Happily Ever After

There's a blog I read pretty regularly written by a certain girl in Manhattan. She is married to a man from England. She's a good writer, too.

This couple has the happiest life ever.

She met him and fell madly in love (I read all about it). They arranged a U.S. visa for him. Seven months later, they were married. They just celebrated their first anniversary.

I have seen all their pictures online. Her trips to England. Their wedding at city hall. Their apartment (recently re-done by IKEA). Their first Christmas. All their friends. Her recent posts about how she can't wait to spend the rest of her life with him.

I want to puke. I am so jealous.

Yaakov and I have been married almost 7 years now. We have our interesting story. We've had our ups and downs - count on it. But when I think of us, I think of Archie and Edith Bunker. Plus, we have 3 kids. Our life is, well...schleppy.

Then I get mad at myself. How can I compare my holy Jewish marriage to this stupid blog I read online? And another thing, who says that marriage is supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine? I remember once a religious friend of mine talking to her father about why her friend had gotten a divorce. "She just woke up one day and realized she didn't love him." "WHAT?!" her father yelled. "That's a reason not to stay married? You think you don't love somebody?"

The bottom line is, Hashem has His reasons for Yaakov and I. I can either embrace them, or be petulant (insert Edith shriek here).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Sukkos Haikus:

Sukkos with Lulav
Esrog too, Jews together
Diverse but still One.

Beware: bugs near food
For sure I ate way too much
Watch out, Mister Scale.

Yom Tov can be long
Yaakov in shul - by myself
Three kids, BANANAS!

Tishrei half-way gone
Almost time to think about
Pesach 'round the bend.

Monday, October 17, 2005
Erev Sukkos

I'm hiding from my kitchen. I was heating oil to fry up fish patties, and I over-did it. Smoke everywhere. Yaakov opened windows and turned on fans. I'm still nervous.

Yaakov built a beautiful sukkah yesterday, and today crowned it with lots of palm schach. In Brooklyn, we used cedar. Ahhh, I remember the pungent smell of cedar wafting through the sukkah. The cool, late autumn winds blowing through. In Brooklyn, our sukkah was on our roof. We could hear all our neighbors singing from theirs. I miss that.

Our sukkah in Brooklyn was a gift. My husband was in kollel, and we were struggling. Yaakov went to a sukkah store with someone, and one of the employees offered to sell him his old sukkah. "Okay, let me talk to my wife," Yaakov said. I thought the offered price was out of our budget (everything was out of budget). So the sukkah man called, and Yaakov told him it was still too much for us. "No problem," he said, "My wife and I understand you're in kollel. We decided to give you our sukkah for free." So that's how we got our sweet little canvas and metal Brooklyn sukkah. Every sukkos since, we have made a l'chaim to that kind man. Tuvia Ben Sarah, may he live and be well for his chessed.

In chutz l'aretz, We have a wood one, with lattice panels. It was very nice. We kept it up all last year (until Katrina blew it down). But it's back, and better than ever. Bigger than last year's.

Yesterday in Wal-Mart, I was on line and I saw a Jewish lady. "Excuse me, are you Jewish?" I said. "Yes, how did you know?" "You have such a sweet Jewish face," I told her. "You know, tomorrow night is sukkos, and it's a big mitzvah to be in a sukkah. Just to be inside of one is a mitzvah! It's the only mitzvah that literally surrounds you." "Really?" she said. "Yes," I answered. "Try to get in a sukkah." I would have invited her to ours, but it's an hour away.

Time to attempt the fish patties again.

Sunday, October 16, 2005
Love for Sale

The kids and I left early today, so Yaakov could build our sukkah without interruptions. I drove down to my mom's, and saw her neighbor was having a garage sale - with strollers! I need a new stroller.

Anyway, there's a story behind the garage sale neighbors. I grew up with these people, they live 2 doors down (and they happen to be the only other Jewish people in the neighborhood). We were very close at one point, when I was in college. But those days are long over. I crossed a big line with her.

She has a son who married a non-Jewish woman, and had a child with her. The mother did not want to have her son circumcised. So neighbor lady said to me, "Can you believe it? My daughter-in-law is refusing to give my grandson a bris!" I replied, "Don't worry, the child is not Jewish."

She knew her grandson wasn't Jewish, on the deepest of levels - she KNEW. But the reality of having a non-Jewish grandchild was too much for her to bear. She had to create a gentle denial for herself. And then I had to be the one to drop the bomb. I didn't do it on purpose, I wasn't even really thinking. It was just a casual, truthful remark. So she hates me now. The nerve of me, to tell her that her grandchild isn't Jewish.

I find this all to be tragically beautiful.

I haven't spoken to her in years, but every Rosh Hashana I send her a card. And today, I went to her garage sale. She barely said 2 words to me. Her daughter was also not so nice. We were friends all our lives.

I tried to make light remarks. "Wow! a book about Mr. T! I have to get that for Yaakov (I love you please don't hate me)." "Oh, too bad this stroller doesn't recline all the way, it's so cute (we are sisters and we share a soul)." "I just love garage sales (I miss you and I'm sorry for causing you pain)."

I bought an embroidered pillow, the Mr. T book, and a little plastic doll for the kids.

I wished them a sweet year.

Fancy Schmancy Insomniac Maven

It's 2:15 in the morning:

I was laying in bed thinking the most bizarre, disturbing thoughts. Like, if I could take my girls on a plane to New York, what if it was going to crash? How would I explain that to them? "Okay girls, Moshiach is definitely here. Let's say shema together."

I took a shabbos nap late this afternoon, but I didn't sleep so long. I am tired right now. But I was just laying there, laying laying laying there, not falling asleep. Listening to Yaakov snore. Thinking my weird thoughts. Wishing for some scullcap tincture.

My cell phone sometimes lights up when it's on its charger. It's eerie. It starts to glow for about a minute, then fades into darkness. It really creeps me out. That happened about 10 minutes ago.

My amazing dad reads all these self-help books. He underlines things, highlights things, makes stars next to things he thinks are important. Sometimes he writes stuff down on index cards. Anyway, I'm reading my own self-help book now. So what did I do? I wrote some important points on an index card. And highlighted them. Then I realized who else did that.

The shabbos cholent was amazing today. I put in a spoonful of peanut butter. And barbecue sauce. And a huge package of stew meat (under hashgocho "Y," ha ha). Anyway, I make cholent in an interesting way. I turn the crock pot on "low" during the 18 minutes.
This is halachically acceptable. I spoke to my rav about it - it's okay even l'chatchila. (Sorry, shy_smiley and Dinosaur Mom, I know you're really lost now).

So The guests were raving about the cholent, and I told them the ingredients (plus the whole 18 minutes thing). One of the guests insinuated that maybe this wasn't the highest level of shabbos observance, and maybe a more strict Rav would have answered another way. Let me tell you, that ticked me way off. "What are you saying, Mister?" I thought to myself. For sure, I can do better with keeping shabbos (I could stop picking at my fingernails, for starters). But don't mess with the Brooklyn Ghetto Beis Din.

I am so tired right now. It's time to try sleeping again.

Saturday, October 15, 2005
Spring Chickens

My grandparents are pretty old. Grandma is 88 (I think) and Pop-Pop is 93. I can't help but jump when the phone rings late at night, or on shabbos or yom tov. I always think it's gonna be "The Call."

A lot of their friends die. One day they were playing cards with somebody, and the very next day the guy died. That FREAKED my grandparents out! I read an article once about how the psychology of gay people had changed. Everybody was dying of AIDS, and their culture had become one of death and mourning. I think that can be applied to old people, too. Old people die fairly regularly. As a community, they have to integrate death into their lives and psyches.

They make jokes about it. "We don't buy green bananas," they'll say. It happens to be that their respective burial plots are right across the road from each other, next to their original spouses. Grandma says "You know, my Sid will let me visit Pop-Pop from time to time. But your grandmother will never let him go. He'll have to lie to her and tell her he's going to play cards or something so he can come visit me."

When I call them, they both get on the phone at once. They listen in from different rooms. When I first started to do taharas, I told them.

GRANDMA: You do what?
ME: Taharas. Prepare bodies, for kosher burials.
GRANDPARENTS: ...silence...
GRANDMA: You touch them?
ME: Yeah, but I wear gloves. Two pairs.
GRANDMA: I'm not shaking your hand.
ME: Okay, I won't shake yours either.

So they can joke about death, but the reality is harder to deal with. Yesterday, I made my erev shabbos phone call. Grandma was out, so I talked to Pop-Pop.

POP-POP: We had somebody over to break-fast on Yom Kippur. He's pretty upset, his lady friend is in the hospital.
ME: His lady friend?
POP-POP: Yeah, they've been going together for 12 years.
ME: "Going together?"
POP-POP: Old people don't get married, they just live together.
ME: (startled) Hoo Ha! They LIVE together? That's pretty crazy. Do you guys throw keg parties when your parents go out of town, too?
POP-POP: (laughter) She only has one lung, and she had pneumonia. She was in the ICU for 3 weeks, they didn't think she was going to make it.
ME: Whoa.
POP-POP: So we did our mitzvah by having him over.

So there you go. Illness, hospitals, death, losing friends. It's all there, all the time. I hope Moshiach comes soon to change their reality. Mine too.

Friday, October 14, 2005
Holding My Breath.

I just emailed a Rabbi whom I greatly respect. He is a powerhouse of Chassidus, and he is also a writer. He has no idea who I am.

I told him about my blog. That I'm afraid it's turning me into an egomaniac. I asked him if it's appropriate - as a religious Jewish woman - to write my private thoughts to the whole online universe.

I told him that I write a lot about G-d. That I write about my struggles.

I told him that it's been therapeutic for me. That Yaakov knows about it. That I write anonymously.

I told him I'd hit the delete key if he thought it would be best.

Thursday, October 13, 2005
Broken Hearted.

Today was my worst Yom Kippur ever. EVER.

But I realized, if Hashem can forgive me of all my sins, maybe I can learn to forgive myself too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Erev Yom Kippur:

There's a story from Reb Levi Yitzchok Berditchover:

There was a chossid - let's call him Beryl. Beryl was asked to make a fancy coat for a rich gentile. The gentile gave him 100 pelts to make the garment. Beryl made the coat as specified, and 2 pelts were left over. As was custom at the time, Beryl kept them as personal profit. When the coat was presented to the gentile, he became infuriated. "THERE'S 2 PELTS MISSING!" he shouted, and proceeded to beat poor Beryl up.

On his sore walk home, Beryl said to Hashem; "Look, there's only 2 people who knew I kept those pelts - You, and me. Somebody must have told the gentile that I kept them, and I know it wasn't me. I don't want to have anything to do with You anymore."

It was erev pesach, and Beryl did not help his fellow chassidim make matzo. He did not do anything to prepare his home for the festival. Time went by, and still he did nothing towards his Yiddishkeit.
As far as he was concerned, he and G-d were through.

Until Yom Kippur rolled around. Erev Yom Kippur, Beryl poured 2 l'chaims. One for him, and one for G-d. "Look Hashem," he said. "I forgive you for telling the gentile that I took the pelts. Now You forgive me for ignoring You all this time." With that, he drank his shot and drank G-d's, too. Then, he poured another round. On and on this went, until he finished the bottle of vodka. Then he went to shul.

Kol Nidre approached, and Reb Levi Yitzchok just stood there. His chassidim realized he was waiting for something. Finally, the Rebbe said, "Nu, you behind the door there. Come out." A sheepish and shikkur Beryl emerged. The Rebbe announced; "Come up here, Beryl'eh, and tell us what you did today." So Beryl went up on the bima, and recounted his farbrengen with G-d. The Rebbe smiled. "Do you hear that, G-d? Beryl forgives you. We all forgive You for making our lives so hard, for keeping us in golus for so long. Now You forgive us for any sins we might have committed."


Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Tikkun and Teshuva.

Chaya brought home someone else's toy from school today. A camera, with all the Disney heroines in the viewer. *Click!* Cinderella! *Click!* The Little Mermaid! *Click!* Sleeping Beauty! YAY!

Yaakov and I do NOT let these ladies into our home. They are an immodest bunch of shikses (especially that mermaid girlie). I don't need to fill my kids' heads with love and romance, either.

Not to mention the fact that it brings up a lot of stuff for me, personally. When I was a child, my all-too-liberal parents had tons of inappropriate things in their house. They didn't even bother to hide it. I feel like my childhood innocence was robbed from me. Not that Disney movies compare to my parents' stash, not by a longshot. But there's a lot of baggage there for me.

So instead of reaching out from a place of love, I lashed out from a place of fear. "That's inappropriate! Give the camera to me, NOW! I'm putting it away!" I was fearful, and it manifested as anger. Me, afraid of the Disney wenches. Me, projecting my childhood onto Chaya. I could have, should have
come from a place of warmth and love.

Next time, with G-d's help, I will.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My husband and I, Baruch Hashem, have struggled a lot financially in our marriage. We've had several bouts of unemployment (when dot.coms died). Mountains of debt. We've received tzedoka. Often, we've quoted the old saying; "There are 3 brochos in life: gezunt (health), parnosso (sustenance), and nachas (pride in one's children). Rarely does G-d give all three." We would always add, "At least we've got the ones that matter."

Well, now G-d seems to be changing His tune. It all started a few months ago when someone sent us a thousand dollars (cash!) anonymously in the mail. Then a relative offered to help us defray our debt. Then Yaakov got a better job (with a signing bonus)! I should be on my knees thanking G-d for His kindness, right?

But I'm not. I'm nervous as hell. I'm USED to struggle, why all of a sudden all this money? Is G-d going to take away another brocho for giving us this one (chas v'shalom)? Also, I'm simply not used to having money. It's weird to be able to want something and have the money to buy it! I've gotten a couple of luxuries (believe me, I feel guilty about it). It's strange to be able to buy more groceries, too, and not count everything out to the penny.

Mind you, the problem has nothing to do with G-d and everything to do with me. Why can't I trust G-d to take care of me however He wants to? Do I have to think He's going to shortchange me?
Can't I just accept His blessings and say "thank you?" I know this ties into deeper spiritual and emotional issues, but I'm not going there right now.

Paul Simon sang, "Can't get used to something so right." Man, can I relate.

P.S. Canada-friend called me yesterday and said, "I just want to let you know, I would totally eat in your house" It was a ray of light in a very dark afternoon.

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We see in our da'avening that natural disasters are a part of G-d's Revelation. It's part of the Ultimate Redemption.

"...Fire will go before Him and consume His foes all around...the Earth will see and tremble...mountains will melt like wax...the nations will tremble...the rivers raise their raging waves..."

So I guess - on some level - I should be happy about this current disaster. It fits the biblical bill. Moshiach is on the way, right?

All I see are dusty, crying women.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Before I was frum, I had all these beautiful clothes. A handmade dress from Afghanistan, a corduroy patchwork number, loads of tie-dyes and flowing, spinning skirts. Not to mention jewelery! Hemp necklaces, beads, crystals, and bells. Truly, a sight to behold.

When I was first becoming frum, I had a certain role model who was VERY aidel. I would go shopping and try to buy clothes that I thought she would wear. I'd hold up a skirt to a friend and say; "How does this rate on the Shprintza Kreindel scale?" Eventually, I found my own place and my own style, something that is evolving all the time. I think it's safe to say that I dress fairly conservatively now, and - with G-d's help - modestly.

The hippie clothes all got given away. I couldn't save them, they were so beautiful. I had to pass them along. As a part of my own personal growth, I had to let that part of me go.

There's a certain style of frum girl, maybe you've seen her. She's the hippie princess waltzing around Tsfas (and Massachussetts). She wears beautiful Israeli scarves on her head, flowery tiered skirts, eclectic jewelery. She might have a pair of Naots or Birks on her feet (with socks, of course). That is the woman I might have become, if my Journey in Yiddishkeit took me another way. When I see this girl, I ache a little bit. I love her clothes, I love her style, I love her. She makes me mourn the girl I was. I want to reach out to her and say, "Hi, I'm YOU!"

Strangely enough, when I would go to Borough Park, I'd feel the same way about the ladies there. You know who they are. They have their lovely weekday suits on, like they're going to a chasuna every day. I love their modesty, their simplicity, their aidelkeit. I love those classy Armani scarves they wear on their heads (with the foam piece underneath to give them a perfect round shape). I love that beautiful Borough Park woman. I want to reach out to her and say, "I'm YOU, too!"

Is that ironic?

Saturday, October 08, 2005
My Daughter, Myself.

This morning Chaya was da'avening out of a siddur she made in school. I sat with her, beaming with pride and wonderment.

Chaya is me. Even though she is 5 and I am 30, this child is me. When I was her age, I had the same curiosity, intelligence, and zest. So there's a part of me that's scared. What if this child - so much like me - pulls the same tricks I did? What if she grows up and makes the mistakes I made? G-d forbid!

I try to rationalize. I mean, as much as we're alike, my life was infinitely different at that age. I didn't even know what a siddur was when I was 5. My parents divorced when I was a baby, and I was raised by a single mother. I went to pre-school in a church, and at 6 had a new stepfather in my life.

Chaya has 2 parents who are committed. She goes to a religious school. She is growing up with shabbosim and yomim tovim, kosher food, shema and kisses at bedtime. Chaya is frum from birth!

Still, I worry.

Friday, October 07, 2005
Take out your No.2 pencils...

It's time for some self-examination.

Last night I was on the phone with Canada-friend, and we were talking about kashrus.

When I lived in Brooklyn, I would buy meat that was under hashgocho "X". It was easily available, that was the community standard, that's what I bought. Here, in chutz l'aretz, I generally buy fleishigs under hashgocho "Y". Basically everybody in shul eats "Y," and I feel comfortable eating it too. "X" isn't so readily available, and it's much more expensive.

Canada-friend eats only "X." I felt a stab of pain. Would Canada-friend not eat in my home? Is the friend that I am always "on the same page with" now a chapter ahead?

I feel disgusted with myself. I'm not sad over the fact that I have "lowered" my kashrus standards, G-d forbid. It's not coming from a place of piousness. I feel sad that I'm not "keeping up." It's coming from a place of ego.

Canada-friend also has a mashpia whom she is close with. When I lived in Brooklyn, I had a mashpia too. My mashpia lived right across the street from me. If I ever needed to talk she would walk over, or vice versa. Now that I live "out of town," it's harder to connect with her. I have "out of town" issues that I don't know if she could relate to. I don't have a mashpia now, and I am sad. I need one.

I would ask the mashpia about the hashgocho issue.

I would ask her to help me stop being so selfish.

Thursday, October 06, 2005
Odds and Ends.

My wig has been through a lot of rain and humidity lately. It looks like a fried cat.

I went food shopping today while fasting, and I broke down and bought RAMEN NOODLES. You know, the stuff I never let myself eat? Well tonight, it's party time.

A guy started hitting on me at the kosher bakery today. HELLO, don't I look married? I felt gross about it. And flattered.

Rivky saw someone working on his car yesterday, while walking to the river for tashlich. She started chirping, "That man is not Jewish," over and over again, louder and louder. It was a moment. An embarrasing one.

Here is something REALLY special:

I had to return something to the dry cleaners, because the way they pressed it made me look like Quasimodo. It was supposed to be a suit for yom tov.

I am so tired. Ma nishtana ha laila hazeh.

I just offered Yaakov some ramen noodles. He seemed offended.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I'm a Control Freak (and other Rosh Hashana Revelations):

Monday night went off without a hitch, it was just The Mavens and my mom. We were supposed to have other guests, who didn't show for various reasons.

The challah was okay. Everybody raved about it, but I like my old recipe better.
The fish head was horrendous, as usual. I closed my eyes and took my token bite. My mother was totally grossed out - she wouldn't try it, no way. The salads were great, the matzo ball soup was delish, the chicken was yummy. The sweet lokshen kugel was the winner of the night. I wasn't crazy about the texture of the honey cake, but everybody liked that, too. The cook is always the most critical, I guess. We didn't get to the zuccini shiitake dish or the tzimmes. I actually had a lot on my mind that night. I didn't tell anyone - not even Yaakov. I just put on a happy face. I finally got into bed at 10:45, when I heard Yaakov answering the door. My father in law, hooray. I crawled out of bed, put on my apron, and back into the kitchen I went.

Tuesday morning the kids and I trekked to shul to hear shofar, and then I took them home. I don't like going to shul, because it's hard to keep track of my brood. I can't daaven when I'm worried about where my kids are. It rained on the way home, and we had to seek shelter on somebody's porch. We finally got home and I'm all set to daaven - no machzor. I left it in shul. I went back and found it (so relieved). The Tuesday lunch guests were really nice, a new family in the neighborhood. I think the mommy and I are going to be friends.

Tuesday night, Mrs. Stein and her gang. All the kids were overtired and nutty, so The Steins left after the soup course. I sent them home with a nice amount of food, since they were leaving early. After they left (and the kids were asleep), Yaakov and I discussed what was troubling me on Monday night. He's a great listener, very compassionate. I can really "go there" with him, if you know what I mean. He gives great advice, too. He reminded me that "Der Aibeshter" is in charge - it is Rosh Hashana, after all.

Wednesday, Yaakov blew shofar for us. I stayed home until I had to go to shul to run the kids' program. That was fine, but I have come to the conclusion that the kids' program brings out the Anxiety Maven. There are kids everywhere, sometimes being unsafe. Not necessarily the kids I supervise, just in general. During the program I read to them, we daaven, we sing, we play games. It's when kids want to wander, that's when I get nervous. Anyway, we had the program and then we had to go back to shul.

I was by the door, and there were some little kids who wanted to run back outside. It was raining. I became the door guard. "YOU! Back inside!" I was putting out a very uptight vibe. I said to a friend, "I'm a control freak, aren't I?" I was trying to be self-deprecating. "Yes," she said firmly, "you are." Then she paused. "Not all the time, but sometimes. And you have good intentions." I guess that was to soften the blow, but it hurt nonetheless.

I tried to sort it out in my head. Why do I become a control freak? I talked it over with Yaakov on our way to lunch. I think I get anxious about certain situations, and then I try to control everything to minimize my anxiety. Child safety is a hot button issue for me. I CAN learn to deal with it though, without being anxious about it. Yaakov quoted a line from Star Wars; "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, The more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Maybe I should get Princess Leia to run the kids' program.

Monday, October 03, 2005

To my readers (the few and the brave, ha ha);

I want to bless us all in the coming year.

May we all have everything we need, both materially and spiritually. May we each be blessed with good health, sustenance, and joy from our families.

May we be blessed with the strength to grow and improve ourselves.

Please G-d, help each of us achieve real inner peace on our own terms.

May we all merit to recognize G-d in our lives, and to deeply internalize the concept of hashgocho protis (divine providence).

Moshiach Now!


Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven

P.S. My husband has a friend who is an Amshinover Chossid. He told us one year he called his rebbe, to wish him a good new year. The rebbe replied, "There's still time in this year to have a good year!"

Sunday, October 02, 2005
Paging Julia Child:

Rosh Hashana is fast approaching, and food is very much on my mind. I'm using a new recipe for both honey cake and challah. Some foods I rarely make, like tzimmes. There's a lot of food on the menu that I consider daunting! Anyway, here's a sample Monday night menu:

chummous and chatzilim
green salad with strawberries and baby corn
sugar snap peas with carrots, red pepper, and miso dressing
roasted zuccini and sauteed shiitake mushrooms
black olives
traditionals: pomegranates, apples and honey, fish head
breaded, baked gefilte fish
noodles (for the picky eaters)

matzo ball soup

honey baked chicken
sweet noodle kugel
tzimmes with meat

honey cake, cookies, tea

We're having lots of guests, so everybody say a little prayer for Chef Maven.

Okay, say a big prayer.

Saturday, October 01, 2005
Pity Party

I threw one for myself this shabbos - big time.

I don't want to go into details, but I was very upset and very overwhelmed. I started to cry in shul.

Rational Maven: This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Inappropriate and WRONG! Stop crying in shul! You're making a scene! STOP IT!
Pity Party Maven: I don't care, it feels so good to sit here and cry. WAAAAAH!!!
Egomaniac Maven: Everybody's comforting me, I feel so loved.

I kept apologizing to people, and I kept on crying. The show lasted for about half an hour, before I finally got my act together.

Two interesting things came out of it: This mentally ill woman was hovering around me, and I heard her say; "What is she crying for? She's not in charge of anything, G-d is. What does she have to cry about?" So that was pretty heavy. Then, a lady came up to me afterwards and said; "Let me tell you something - I lost a child 25 years ago. It took me a long time to say this, but I can honestly tell you that everything G-d does is good."

was even heavier.