Sunday, July 30, 2006
The Real Jews?

There's a group out there called the Neturei Karta. They're religious Jews - chassidim - against zionism. There's a place for them, and I respect their viewpoint. What I don't respect is their "we're more Jewish than you" attitude. I have seen literature where they say things like, "REAL Jews don't support Israel." Well, what am I? A fake Jew? And what about that little Yiddle eating her bacon? She's not a real Jew? Jews who aren't as observant as you, who don't believe like you do, aren't for real? What kind of narrishkeit is THAT? And here's another thing I don't like about these guys: They kiss Palestinian tuchas. They have no problem marching right next to Palestinian flags, being the "real Jews" that they are. Marching next to the people who want Jews wiped off the planet. Anyway, here's a little clip of these guys, and a "fake" Jew who taunts them. They ask him, where's your tzitsis? Why don't you cover your head if you're a Jew? I hate that attitude. Let me tell you something, you Neturei Karta "chassidim." You know what the Ba'al Shem Tov preached? Ahavas Yisroel. That's right, buddy. LOVE YOUR FELLOW JEW. Including the one who's not wearing tzitsis.

(P.S. I love the "fake" Jew. Isn't he a riot? Okay - he needs to show some Ahavas Yisroel, too.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Surrendered Wife:

I think I've written about this before. The wife allows her husband to be a man. To be her hero. Forget feminism. Forget egalitarianism. We're talking "Me Tarzan, You Jane." Well, Sort of.

Books like "The Surrendered Wife" and "Fascinating Womanhood" extol the virtues of gender roles in marriage, and the woman's role is definitely a feminine one. Don't boss your husband around. DO look pretty. Let him take control, make decisions. There's a Breslov publication in this vein, called "To Love and Cherish." It has advice to both husbands and wives. ("Don't be alarmed when your wife shrieks and yells. Remember, the sages taught it's a woman's nature to scream. So don't take your wife's hysterics personally.")

I remember, as a bride, taking classes. I was advised to look nice when my husband came home. Put on a little lipstick, a clean housecoat. Get off the phone before he walks in the door. SMILE! Have a nice supper waiting for my man, who worked hard all day.

Many times women steamroll men, and society has encouraged us to do so. I have been guilty of this many times myself. Like a couple of months ago, Yaakov wanted to change our Cingular plan. I wanted to change services completely. We bickered. He capitulated. We're still with the same expensive phone plan, and I won a hollow victory. I should've let him handle the whole thing in the first place!

I'm tired of micromanaging Yaakov. I'm tired of thinking I have to be in control. He's a capable man - I can let him be the captain of our ship. I can be first mate (ha ha).

P.S. Yaakov read this and said, "You can be first mate on my ship if you wear the outfit Princess Leia wore on Jabba the Hutt's ship."


Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Urban Legends.

We've all heard them. Or heard about them. And now that we have the world wide wonk, we get them via email. Yippee!

Like once I got an email that Starbucks was anti-semitic, because they were pulling out of Israel. Well, this is simply untrue. Israelis are used to stronger European coffees, and thought Starbucks coffee sucked. Plus, they would open a store right across from a popular cafe or coffee bar, a place that had steady clientele and loyalty. Israelis weren't interested.

And then there's the Nigerian scam, send your money to so-and-so in Nigeria and receive thousands back! Oooookay...

Today I got one from my grandfather. He's the grand-daddy of all things forwarded (well, maybe my landlady is - but I digress). Don't fall for the 809 area code trick! They'll call you and insist you call back! You don't know it, but you'll be calling the Bahamas, and when you do you'll be charged 2500.00 a minute!

This was the dumbest email ever - because in it was a link to the AT&T website debunking it! No, it's not the Bahamas, it's the Dominican Republic. And it's 4.00 a minute. Watch who you call, people, that's all.

I mean, Pop-Pop is an intelligent man. How could he fall for that crap? 2500.00 a minute? Are you calling G-d? And this he forwarded to everybody! Including my mom (and that guarantees that this urban legend will not go gently into that good night).

P.S. Dr. Gay confirmed the eczema, but said it was infected. More cream!

Monday, July 24, 2006
The Cleaning Lady.

So "Adios" to Margarita and "Hello" to Lisbeth, the new cleaning lady. I called Margarita the other day and told her things were "too hectic" right now with the new baby, and maybe I'd call her after the summer. (I'm too much of a wuss to tell her all the things about her that drove me crazy, let alone to fire her.)

So Lisbeth is slower than Margarita, which is a bummer. But she speaks english, takes initiative, and seems to have more brains. I did see some things that didn't thrill me (like not cleaning behind the faucets in the bathroom sinks, and they get really gross). I'm reminded of what the Rebbe said about cleaning ladies (which he encouraged women to get). He said; "Don't look in the corners."

But regarding the sinks, I'll have to just tell her when I see her again. I'm afraid to be assertive with my cleaning help, but with this lady I want to kindly and firmly tell her what I need. I'm paying her, after all.

I feel bad about letting Margarita go, she's really nice and was very helpful before pesach. But lately she's been unreliable, and her stupidity was wearing me down.

In other news, I have an appointment with Dr. Gay tomorrow. I begged and pleaded with the office staff to move my appointment up.

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Rubbed the Wrong Way?

I finally saw it. The infamous "Bush Backrub." And let me tell you, I think this has been WAY overblown.

I've read reports that this was sexist and childish. Inappropriate. But what I saw was a guy just being a jokester. He kinda crept up on her - Chancellor Merkel - gave her shoulders a quick shake, and darted away. You could see on Bush's face that he was pulling a prank.

Granted, you might say, "That was the G-8 summit, no place for tom-foolery like that." That may be. But I still think this has been overdramatized. First of all, to call it a backrub or massage is incorrect. He didn't touch her back. He did not massage her. He thought he was being funny. I thought it was. And Angela Merkel smiled, too.

Second of all, a week or two ago Vladimir Putin went and kissed a kid's tummy while doing a public appearance. He said something like, "He reminded me of a little kitten, and I wanted to kiss his belly." Hello? That's just weird.

Friday, July 21, 2006
Light Up the World!

To all my Jewish ladies; this one's for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah Head Honcho.

He looks like one of the guys in shul.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been...

This morning I had a memory:

When I was in the 7th grade, I sat at a lunch table with some popular girls. I never really fit in with them. I wasn't like them, I had different interests. I was kinda weird. I'm not sure how I ended up there, but one day I was asked to leave. "Please evacuate the table," the note read. Almost 20 years later, I remember my lunch-table pink slip like it was yesterday.

I remember thinking; "Evacuate the table? How can a person evacuate a table?" Nonetheless, I got the point. And I was very hurt. "What's wrong with me? I'm a nerd!"

I never really fit in in general, and at one point, I just stopped trying. I don't think it was a conscious decision, I just got weirder and weirder as the years went by. In my junior year of high school, someone told me, "Since you can't fit in, you try to "fit out" as much as you can." He wasn't saying it in a mean way. And it was true.

When I discovered the Grateful Dead, I found a home for my weirdness. I really blossomed as a person, I became beautiful. Becoming religious was like the end of that trip. After I settled into my yiddishkeit, I didn't have to assert my identity as much as I did when I was Deadhead.

I just became more of myself.

Monday, July 17, 2006
If I had a television...

Deedle deedle deedle doodle doodle deedle deedle do ("Fiddler" music),
All day long I'd sit vapidly and watch, if I had a TEL-E-VI-

'Cause that's what I did yesterday at mom's house - holed up in my brother's room, nursing. And flipping. He's got Direct TV - like, 50 jillion channels.

I discovered 3 black-friendly television networks, which I was basically glued to. I don't know what my fascination is with black people. I think I have an "inner sista."

I saw a documentary about the "Golden Scissors" show, which showcases black hair. I watched a woman belting out a song about how she was the Ghetto Queen, and she deserved to be treated right because she was a WOMAN.

But the greatest thing I saw was called "Mo'nique's F.A.T. Chance." F.A.T. standing for "fabulous and thick." It's basically a BBW beauty pageant. Firstly, I fell in love with this Mo'nique lady. She was so big and black and REAL. I loved all these ladies celebrating their size, and I could see why men are attracted to them. Why it's okay for other women to be large (but not me) is a mystery I've yet to solve.

I saw a show about a guy who had no legs. I saw a show about the Crusades. I saw a show about tattoos. I saw witty commercials.

I'm telling you, if I owned a TV, I'd never leave my house.

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Yitzchok and Yishmael, AGAIN.

Israel and Lebanon: People in both countries are being attacked. People in both countries are scared. I'll bet many would find common ground right now, hiding in their mutual basements.

Saturday, July 15, 2006
What if G-d was a Girl?

I know G-d technically doesn't have a gender. But all the allusions to "Him" do. Within the Judaic framework, He is our "King," and our "Father." When I pray, it's to a male deity. This is not a conscious thing.

I know other religions have masculine godheads too. Some have revered women. Catholics have Mary. Hindus have Kali. But it seems to me the "Man Upstairs" has the most accolades.

I wonder how society would be different if we prayed to a girl god. How would this affect our daily lives, our speech? "Oh my goddess!" We might be heard to say.
Would we be kinder and gentler? I remember once learning in a history class that wars were fought for "God, Glory, and Greed." Would there be so much war if G-d was a girl?

There is such a thing as the "Shechina," the feminine aspect of G-d. The Shechina is a more mystical, hidden dimension of G-dliness.
This facet will be more prominent when Moshiach arrives.

I await you, My Lady.

Friday, July 14, 2006
The Wagon.

I fell off of it yesterday. Big time.

It started when I went to the midwife for a check-up. I got on the scale, and it registered a whopping
5 pounds higher than mine. This made me depressed. Of course, feeling depressed made me eat a bunch of potato chips that I brought for the kids to nosh on. And when I got home I said, "What the hell. I've already been a bad girl, how about I eat a ton of spaghetti? I'll be a fat blob forever." That's how my evening went. Not to mention the lush chocolate cookie.

Now I appreciate the loving comments y'all left about not worrying about my weight right now. I want to be clear; the WW nursing diet provides me with more than enough food for the day. I am not starving myself. I am just following a plan that will help me lose weight and keep me in control. I need to have set boundaries with food, otherwise I overeat. That's why I love WW. Everything is very controlled - you have x amount of points for the day. I am also obsessive, so counting points is perfect for me!

I am going to try really hard to let go of last night's indiscretions, and just move forward. Teshuva, right?

In other news, my midwife diagnosed my neck lesion as "weeping eczema." She advised me to put on the topical steroid cream Dr. Gay gave me for the dermatitis I had.

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yud Zion Tammuz

Today is a fast day. The day the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem. Today starts "the three weeks," culminating with Tisha b'av - the day the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. These are the darkest days in the Jewish year.

I feel so empty. Israel is basically at war right now - there have been missile strikes on Chaifa, Nahariya, and Tzfas. Not to mention Israel's offensive strikes at Beirut. Yep, the three weeks have definitely started.

The Rebbe said that one focus of the three weeks is shleimus ha'aretz, the "wholeness" of Israel. That's something to think about with the current events. Another aspect of the 3 weeks is teshuva (repentance) and tzedoka.

I've been thinking about how I torture myself with my past mistakes. I can't forgive myself and let go. Just this morning I thought, "How come the rest of klal yisroel can do teshuva? What makes me think that I can't? Why can't I forgive myself?"

So the missiles rage in Eretz Yisroel as I rage within. I hope I can use the energy of the three weeks to transform darkness into light. I'm tired of being "stuck."

Yet if I was really tired, I'd do something about it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Hi, I'm Post-Partum.

I have this thing on my neck, a red blotch and it's spread a little. It itches like crazy and it hurts, too. The earliest appointment I could get with Dr. Gay is August 2nd. Bummer. The good news is, my sheitl covers it.

The nursing hurts a lot, I'm working hard on getting good latches. I'm sure this will pass.

Zalman looks plumper and juicier, such a change from the plucked-chicken newborn he was 2 weeks ago! I put him in the Baby Bjorn with his legs out for the first time this morning.

Srulik is still being obnoxious, but I'm trying to love him up (I could try harder). Rivky is being difficult, too. Chaya loves holding the baby and is a big help, although I think she forgets how fragile newborns are.

Yaakov, skip this part: I am weighing myself too frequently. My tummy looks like a puppy hanging off my body. I feel like a blob. Yaakov, DO NOT HIDE THE SCALE.

And to top it off, I haven't showered in 2 days.

Monday, July 10, 2006
This should be the worst of my problems...

My cleaning lady is a fruitcake. I mean, if she weren't, she'd be a brain surgeon and not a cleaning lady, right?

She uses up way too many cleaning products. She doesn't follow directions, and she leaves chemicals sitting around (when I constantly remind her it's unsafe with my kids). She frequently stops and has these little chats with me, which I find terribly annoying. I want to tell her to shut up and just clean, but my spanish isn't good enough to be polite about it. She doesn't clean so well, either, and lately she's been cancelling on me. She was supposed to come this morning...

I've been unhappy with her for awhile, but I haven't been assertive enough to A) fire her and B) find someone else. It's hard to get cleaning help around here. But this morning I thought, "If I'm paying her 11 bucks an hour, she should be great." So I called a friend who knows another cleaning lady.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Step-shvigger did not come to Zalman's bris. She went to New York.

A little history: step-shvigger and daughter were emotionally estranged for 6+ months due to family drama. Step-shvigger comes to meet Zalman when he's 1 day old. Step-shvigger is reminded of her other grandson. Step-shvigger decides she MUST book a flight to see her daughter that very next weekend.

At first I was very graceful about it. I accepted that step-shvigger was operating from a place of pain. But as the days went by, I started to feel really upset. Six months she doesn't talk to her daughter, and all of a sudden she HAS to go the weekend of the bris?

A therapist once told me; if something painful comes up in a relationship - and gets "stuffed" for the sake of peace - the relationship gets constipated. That being said, neither myself nor Yaakov is willing to confront step-shvigger.

In other news, we got a check from the grandparents yesterday. I'm totally lame.

Friday, July 07, 2006
Fancy Schmancy Greedy Maven?

Every time we have a kid, my grandparents have asked, "what's his/her english name?" And each time we've patiently answered, "S/he doesn't HAVE an english name!"

Right after Zalman's bris, my grandfather - the sandek - popped the same question. I don't know why this bothers me so much. You would think, after 4 kids, they would get the point already, nu?

And here's another thing that ticks me off: No gift from the grandparents. And they're loaded! No gift from the aunt and uncle, either, and they're way loaded. I mean, Pop-Pop got to be the sandek, that's a HUGE honor. In the Brooklyn Ghetto, there's a chossid who pays the family 1000.00 for the zechus. We could use the extra gelt!

Besides, whenever the grandparents give our kids money, they say - "That's for the college fund." College fund? Hello, my kids are not going to college. That money is going towards our grocery budget, thank-you-very-much. You just helped feed your great-grandchildren this week.

Anyway, there's a part of me that's ticked off over this whole thing, and a part of me that says; "Just let it go. You have a healthy baby, that's all that matters." Another part says, "Chutzpah! You ask for more? You have enough already! Look how so-and-so is struggling."

Poseach es yadecha - "You open up Your hand" - G-d takes out His big ol' wallet and provides for us all.

Thursday, July 06, 2006
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Every Thursday night, for more than a decade, a Grateful Dead band has been playing at a local restaurant/bar. They have a big open area outside for all the dancing, spinning revelry. The band plays other nights, but Thursday night has always been THE night.

Well, tonight is the band's last gig there. The place is closing. I can't tell you how sad this makes me. I feel like Thursday nights have been an institution - even though I haven't seen them in awhile. I would love to go, but that's not possible. Yaakov will - he and the guitarist are buddies from way back (and the bassist usually lets Yaakov sit in for a couple of tunes).

When I was younger, I would go every week. Oh, the fun we had! All the characters were out. Alley Cat and her crochet hats, Miracle with her long brown dreads, Tommy selling his crystals and pipes. We'd all sneak off to the beach between sets and get high, and then come back and drum or dance. (I left my drum with a Brooklyn percussionist, waaaa).

I feel, in some weird way, that I grew up there. Such good times, such great music. I'm really sad it's over.

It's like the end of an era.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I don't get out enough...

This morning, after Z-Man sent his third blanket into laundry-land, I found myself singing to him, "And another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust!" This prompted a big burp. That's what he thinks of Freddie Mercury.

I also find myself singing, "Pass the baby to the left hand side," a la "Pass the dutchie on the left hand side." Remember that song? This is when I switch sides during nursing.

The other night Chaya started crying over nothing, so I belted out "Tears on My Pillow," by Sha-Na-Na. I sang it really theatrically.

Driving home from Zalman's doctor appointment the other day, I found myself singing "867-5309," and wondering if anyone, anywhere, had requested that phone number for their very own.

And then there's "Lucille," by Kenny Rogers. I randomly sing that one for no particular reason.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Life in the Slow Lane:

Zalman and I are trying to get our act together in the nursing department. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say I'm in a lot of pain. I have a great lactation consultant so we're working on it.

Srulik is having a hard time adjusting to a new sibling. He constantly asks me to sit down and read "Yossi and Laibel" to him (a children's book series he's fond of). Whenever either parent retreats into the bedroom with Zalman, Srulik stands outside the door and cries. I feel so bad for him. It's worse because he hasn't been napping lately, and gets loopy with exhaustion.

Chaya and Rivky started a local camp yesterday, 9:30-3:30. Srulik started a little playgroup, 9-1:00.
It's hard for me to let Rivky and Srulik go - I worry for them. This is the first time (in a very long time) that I'm basically taking care of one child. Next week Yaakov goes back to work, and I have no idea how I'll manage.

I'm getting a little stir crazy, being in the house so much. I worry that I'll never get out of the house again.

I have to lose 30 pounds, oy vey. I put myself on the Weight Watchers nursing diet - I've already lost 2 pounds. I've done WW after every baby since Rivky. I don't go to meetings, I just go back on the plan. And for you WW mavens out there, I have 35 points a day to work with - I'm definitely not starving! I'd like to go for cardio-walks, but that would entail leaving the house...

Rav Plony asked Yaakov yesterday, "How come it took so long to bring the baby for the bris?" That made me feel guilty.

In other news, Space Shuttle Discovery launched today, woo-hoo! Yaakov, Srulik and I watched it via internet. What a beautiful lift-off.

Sunday, July 02, 2006
The Bris:

I arranged to stay with a family who lives close to shul, so I wouldn't have to walk the 7 blocks to get there.

On Friday night, children from the neighborhood came by and said shema and the Rebbe's 12 Torah passages with the baby. The little guy slept through it all - amazing, considering their enthusiasm. I was very touched by the whole thing.

Shabbos morning I figured I had until 12:30 to get to shul, as the bris was after mussaf. This week Rabbi Speedy Gonzales must have led the da'avenen, because there was a knock at the door at noon - "Time for the bris!" Like hell! I just settled down to nurse him and was still in my housecoat.

When I finally got to shul I was surrounded by gaggles of ladies all eager to talk to me. I felt like a movie star or something. I asked someone if I could have a glass of wine, and a yenta harrassed me for having a drink. "You're nursing!" she said sternly. I told her one glass of wine was not going to hurt him - besides, he would soon be shikkur himself.

I was terribly nervous and very reluctant to hand the baby off. I started crying right away and busied myself reading names of couples who wanted to have children of their own. I was supposed to read it while in labor, but my brain had left the building with Elvis and I completely forgot. I figured reading the names at the bris would suffice.

Lots of screaming. Rav Plony held the baby for the naming. "Zalman ben Yaakov!" More crying from me. Yaakov stuck his head through the mechitza - "Are you okay?" he mouthed. I nodded. I finally got the baby back and he nursed himself into a stupor.

When the mohel came to check the bris 2 hours later, I got very upset. So much blood! Way more than with Srulik. Srulik's bris was done by a mohel who is flown around the world to attend brissim. He's quick, gentle, and there's barely any blood. So when I saw the bloody bandage on Zalman, I freaked out. After that, I couldn't listen to the mohel going on and on about what to do and what to watch for. He must have said at least 10 times, "It's not that much blood!" I was overwhelmed and angry. "Never again!" I hissed to Yaakov. "If we have another son we'll fly in the Brooklyn Ghetto mohel!"

Several hours later I had calmed down. Every kid is different, I rationalized. Plus, I had turned down the vitamin K shot when Zalman was born, something Srulik received. Maybe that had something to do with it? It could be lots of things - the mohel has made many brissim and is very experienced.

I'm still squeamish with the diaper changes, though.