Friday, March 30, 2007

This time of year is terrible for me. The house is basically clean for pesach, yet it's not pesach yet. The kids are eating rice cakes and kosher l'pesach food, but I still get anxious about the crumbs. The only food I have in my house right now is kosher l'pesach nosh (only for erev pesach, we don't eat it on pesach itself). Last night we got a pizza and had a picnic outside on the grass, but not without me worrying about all the crumbs. We ordered 2 pizzas so the kids could eat pizza for breakfast - I kept the pizza in the laundry room (wrapped in a garbage bag). When my kids were done with their pizza picnic, I washed their hands, took off their clothes and stuck them right in the wash. I don't mess around. Lest you think this is mad OCD, many women I know get this way. Last night at a bar-mitzvah we were trading "freak-out" stories.

While I was at the bar-mitzvah, Yaakov kashered and covered the kitchen. The plastic he got this year to cover the countertops is black. We also use black plastic to cover the cabinets, stove, etc. When I came home from the bar-mitzvah, Yaakov said, "Check out your Darth Vader pesach kitchen."

I love that man.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Yechi Charlie!

I called a friend tonight at her engagement party.

Friend: Guess who's here?
Me: Who?
Friend: Charlie Buttons!
Me: Charlie? That's awesome!
Friend: You wanna talk to him?
Me: Yeah!

So Charlie gets on the phone and I talked to him for about 5 minutes. He told me all about his physical therapy, sang a few of his trademark songs, did his schtick. It was such an honor to talk to him!

Charlie is a Crown Heights character - a fixture at simchas. He comes with balloons and makes balloon thingies for everybody. He always wears his trademark denim overalls, covered in buttons.

I personally sought him out and hand-delivered my wedding invitation to him, not that he needed it. Charlie finds his way to every simcha - brissim, l'chaims, shalom zochors. You name it, Charlie's at it.

Many think he's a lamed-vovnik. You never know...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Pot = Kitniyos?

My brother sent me this...

Erev Pesach.

My house is insane. Because I'm pesach cleaning, most other tasks have fallen to the wayside. The laundry is a big mountain, the dishes are unwashed, the table is covered in groceries. Lots and lots of stuff is piled all over the couch. Five bags of stuff made it to Goodwill. Zalman has a bad rash and always wants to be held. Srulik has regressed in his potty training. The bad news: poop. The good news: disposable gloves.

All my kids will be home for the rest of the week. Tomorrow we will go outside and scrub chairs/play in the sprinklers. Thursday is Charo-day. Thursday night Yaakov will turn over the kitchen. Friday I'll get my fleishig order. I know by the time we sit down for the first seder, my house will be sparkling. Little by slowly, I will make it. (Insert Gloria Gaynor song here.)

I am comforted that other Jewish women are likely in the same, messy boat. I reach out to them in sisterhood.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here's that
beautiful pie...

...And here's what we found behind the couch while pesach

random random random....

It's 3 a.m. - I should be sleeping.

I pesach-cleaned 4 bookshleves tonight while watching Star Trek on Yaakov's laptop. All hailing frequencies open!

For shabbos I made uber-yummy chocolate cream pies (with strawberries!) I was proud of them - watch for pictures.

I hid in my room this morning while Rivky and Srulik raged on each other - I refused to come out until they solved their problem. Half an hour later...

My father-in-law's BMW caught fire tonight on I-95. He escaped. The car is incinerated. (60 years later and they're still trying to kill us?)

I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow and I have so much to do. Waaah...

Thursday, March 22, 2007
¬°Muy Bueno!

I got a cleaning lady for next Thursday. ALL DAY. Erev Pesach.

Guess what her name is?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Rage Against the Machine.

Zalman does not have a social security number. Today I went to remedy that.

Yaakov did all the homework online. I had Zalman's birth certificate with me, which is what the website said we needed. I had my ID's. I had the application filled out. Ready to roll.

I arrived at the social security office and got my computer generated ticket (#548, 10:16am). I brought my siddur, so I settled in to daaven. 45 minutes later, I hear an announcement: "If you are applying for a minor, a birth certificate is not a valid ID. You will need blah blah blah." Uh oh. That's not what the website said. That's not what the literature in the office said, either. I went to the window. "I don't have the ID's you asked for. The minor I'm applying for is 9 months old." "You'll need a vaccination record." "He's not vaccinated, what else can I bring?" "You can bring pediatric records that verify his date of birth, and an insurance card with his name printed on it." Okay, I thought. I moved to the side, formulating a plan. I'll run to the pediatrician's right now! I searched my wallet for our insurance card. Uh oh. Only Yaakov's name was on it.

I went back to the window - the lady was helping someone else. "Have the security guard call the supervisor," she said. I turned to the security guard. "Ma'am, can you call the supervisor for me?" "No, sit down and wait for them to call your number." I inwardly groaned. You give these losers an inch of power, and they become Stalin. I didn't sit down. "Ma'am, the lady behind the window told me to ask you."
I wasn't about to wait another hour unless I got the ID situation cleared up. She said no. She asked me to sit again.

I don't know exactly when I decided on civil disobedience. I refused to sit down. I just stood there, talking to Yaakov on my cellphone, staring at the presidential portrait behind her shabby desk. There's no law that tells me I have to sit, I thought. You wanna be Stalin?
I'll be your Trotsky, baby. "Can you please call again," I asked. She was livid. She told me - not too nicely - to sit down again. Then the door to the office opened and I pounced on the employee that emerged. I explained my whole ID problem. She told to me what I needed to do.

I punched myself another ticket and flew to the pediatrician's. The only record they had with Zalman's name and date of birth was the insurance confirmation. They copied it for me. Then I flew home and picked up our "special envelope," the one with all our legal documentation. I wanted to have every piece of information available. If they wanted to see my kesuba, they could. I left no margin for error.

I ran back to the office - it was after 12 at this point - and they still hadn't called my original number! The security dominatrix was nowhere to be found. 15 minutes later, I was called to the window. The woman behind the counter peered at me. "Why doesn't your 6 month old have a social security number?" "He's 9 months old. It's because he was born at home." So there! And he's not vaccinated either! So shove it up your - "Yes ma'am, I do have his birth certificate."

He was approved.

Monday, March 19, 2007
Bathtub Chatter!

Rivky: Did you pee in the water?
Chaya: No, did you?
Rivky: Me neither! Now we can drink it!

(I can't make this stuff up, folks.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007
My life in a nutshell.

I currently have no cleaning help and my house is trashed. I need to buckle down and start pesach cleaning, but I can't do that when my house just needs cleaning in general. I'm also terribly lazy (you heard it here first!), so that doesn't help. If you saw my kids' bathroom...

Last night I had a dream that Yaakov died, G-d forbid. I grieved so much in the dream, only to wake up to the sound of him snoring. It was comforting.

I haven't been writing as much, Yaakov has been working from home a lot and using the computer. Right now he's in the backyard with the kids. I should be cleaning, right?

Chaya is learning how to write and sends me love notes all the time. "I love you mommy and you are so cute." Today she wrote, "You are so fancey and you wear fancey erings!" Rivky is also learning - she comes home with worksheets from kindergarten talking about "number recognition" and "hand-eye coordination." I end up throwing them all in the garbage, but not without a stab of guilt.

Srulik has regressed in his potty training. It's been pretty crappy - and I mean it.

Zalman has been running a fever for a couple of days, with 4 top teeth coming in. He's miserable. It's hard to get stuff done, I'm holding him all the time.

Other than that, we're great!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I went to the bank to open accounts for the kids. Thank G-d I only had Rivky, because it took a reallllllly long time. If I had the whole gang, they would have gotten restless and wild. As it was, Rivky was dancing around the place.

So I'm sitting there watching their TV. CNN was showing footage of a poor 101-year-old lady who got beat up by a mugger. They showed it over and over again. I couldn't help but wonder if CNN liked showing this footage, or if they thought John Q. Public enjoyed watching it. Anyway, seeing that made me glad - once again - that I don't own a TV.

Then I saw a clip about a medical marijuana case. I strained to listen. The court decided that a terminally ill woman, whose doctor said her life depended on
it, could not use marijuana. It is legal to medically prescribe cocaine and morphine, but you can't smoke a joint. Is it me, or is this totally retarded?

I finally got to a bank person (after waiting an hour). His name was Shabbar and he was from India. He was telling me the benefits of opening one kind of account versus another, and I had a hard time understanding him due to his thick accent. I finally decided on the accounts to open, yet when we started he said, "Oh no, we can't do it this way because..."

Aaaaarghhhh!!! I wanted to bang my head against the wall. He was so hard to understand, and was taking so long. By the grace of G-d, my cell phone rang. I was so excited! Someone was saving me! It was a buddy in Brooklyn, calling to tell me she was genetically compatible with the man she's been happily dating. I was so excited for her, I wanted to jump and shout. But since it was me and Shabbar, I contained myself.

I finally left the bank, picked up the kids, and we went for pizza. Then off to the library! We had a really good time. The best part was their books-for-sale section - 5 great books for a dollar! One was even about the space shuttle!

Monday, March 12, 2007
Write on, baby.

Tonight I went to an event featuring a renowned graphologist. He happens to be a Lubavitcher, and a member of our community. He is known for accurate analysis, and for helping people correct personality flaws he detects in their handwriting.

He asked us to write a few sentences on a piece of paper (I wrote 4) and sign our names.

After I wrote mine he started speaking about a couples event he did once. He had the couples write on the same sheet of paper. A man with a full beard approached with his very modest wife, and handed him their paper. He looked at the paper and said, "Something is very wrong between you two. There's something really wrong here!" The couple quietly admitted they had stopped keeping taharas hamishpocha. He explained that when a person is doing something wrong, it can manifest in their handwriting.

So I was a little freaked out that this guy could "read between the lines." I felt very nervous that I had signed my name to my paper. What would he say to me?

The way it worked was that each person's paper had a number, and he would call the number out and give his assessment aloud to the group. Each person could hear her own analysis, and yet remain anonymous. I was number eight. After reading about 5 or so he took a break, as a guest speaker had arrived. Zalman was kvetchy, so I made my way into the hostess' kitchen with him. Lo and behold, there was the graphologist with all our papers!

Of course I asked him to read mine (wouldn't you?). He picked up the paper and raised his eyebrows. "You're very smart," he said, shaking his head and raising his eyebrows some more. "Very, very smart. What does your father do?" (my father?! he's a bi-polar kazoo player!) "He's a book salesman." "And your mother?" "She's a medical assistant. Phlebotomy, that sorta thing." "That's where it's coming from," he said. I heartily disagreed, as neither of my parents are particularly intelligent. But I didn't say so. He went on. "You're too holy." (Since when is that a bad thing?) "What I mean is, you set your standards too high. You're a perfectionist." He went on to tell me I needed to accept more, and have more faith in G-d. And not to be so strict with my kids. And to go easier on Yaakov. "Overall, it's lovely writing."

I asked, "Doesn't my writing indicate to you that I'm an anxiety maniac?" He took the paper back and scanned it carefully.

"I don't see that at all."

Sunday, March 11, 2007
Bli Ayin Hara!

So I didn't tell you how much the eye drops cost - $76.99. For one ounce. We did not buy them. I've continued using the Neosporin. (Just so you don't think I'm totally retarded, I was prescribed erythromyacin eye ointment in a petroleum base when I was pregnant.)

Anyway, Srulik has a fever. I came up with the brilliant idea to take him to the doctor, so I could mooch eye drop samples off them. I never take kids to the doctor for just fevers, but I had ulterior motives.

Wouldn't you know it, Srulik was just fine. But no eye drops. The doctor did write me a prescription for cheaper ones, though. We were just about to get in the car when my cell phone rang. I looked at the number. Brooklyn. "Hello?" An old man's voice answered me, "Hello this is the Rav..."

Oh. My. God.

I had my whole phone conversation plotted out. I was going to be holding Yaakov's hand, and I was going to ask the rav my scary pesach sha'aleh, the one that has caused me no end of grief and anxiety. But he was calling me in front of the pediatricians' office. I couldn't hold Yaakov's hand. I had to be a big girl, and talk to him all by myself.

Meanwhile, I could barely hear him, so I ducked into TJ Maxx. I started my conversation near the Ralph Lauren luggage, fighting to hear him over the cheesy soft-pop. I meandered my way into purses, and then blouses. He told me not to worry, that everything was fine. "
Ain simcha kehatarat hasefekot" - There is no greater joy than the resolution of doubt.

The second eye drops cost $6.85, so between that and the pediatrician we spent about $22.00. All that AND I got my question answered!

What more could an Anxiety Maven want?

Saturday, March 10, 2007
Don't try this at home...

I woke up last night and one eye was clouded by conjunctivitis. I was out of drops and couldn't find the eye ointment. What the hell - I thought - I'll use Neosporin. It's antibiotic, right? I put it in one eye. Tricky, because it was shabbos. I couldn't really smear it. Then I thought, maybe I shouldn't put it in my eyes? I read the package. Not for opthalmic use. Oh well. I'm not blind from it. I put it in the other eye. The good news is, it staved off the infection until after shabbos, long enough for Yaakov to get me drops.

Pesach is fast approaching - three weeks. My anxiety is fierce. It's not the cleaning, it's my fear that my home won't be kosher l'pesach. My anxiety is driving a wedge between Yaakov and I. I called a Rav in Crown Heights to speak to him about it. I do have a question that needs answering, but it's complicated by OCD garbage. Pesach is always a terrible time of the year for me.

In other news, my favorite imam was featured in the New York Times again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Thank you.

A friend told me once, "You don't have to be your mother-in-law's friend. Your place is simply to respect her." Well, my mother-in-law went back to Vegas this morning. She gave me a lot to think about.

I think I'm mature (and Jewish) enough to see that what bothers me about her are the things I dislike about myself. And I think that what I love about her are things that are special about me, too. It's weird how similar we are. (Yaakov, Sigmund is on the phone for you...)

I haven't had the chance to write so much lately, as mom-in-law has been in the computer room. Many things happened. But I will say this: She bought our shmura matzo. She bought us 13 pounds of matzo at 17 dollars a pound. She was with me when I placed my order. She kept offering to buy us stuff at the Judaica store, but I kept turning her down. She gave Yaakov the money later. Two hundred and twenty holy Jewish dollars.

I cannot say how touched I am. She was beyond generous on this trip, but the matzo...?

Such a mitzvah.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Two ladies in my community had babies last night. So I get a phone call today from Rebbetzin Plony; "Can you make food for the purim meal for Yosefa?" "No problem! Thank you for including me in this chesed!" I agreed to provide 2 chickens and a kugel. "Not too much pressure?" (Why, because I'm a nutjob?) "No, it's fine." "I know it's short notice."

So I ran out to the heimishe store to buy noodles for the kugel. I'm in my purim costume (the most obnoxiously loud shirt I could find and an electric green wig). I didn't mind going there, because they know it's purim. However, no noodles. I couldn't stop home first. I went to Publix. In my costume.

Meanwhile my kids took their costumes off so it's not like we're a unit, in costume. No. They just see me. I kept telling myself, I'm doing this for a mitzvah. Who cares if I look like a freakazoid. I need to cook for my friend who had a baby. It's purim.

I kept thinking of Reb Pinchos Reizes, a very fine chossid of the Alter Rebbe (not that I compare). Anyway, another chossid (Reb Shmuel Munkis) told him to go into the town square and play "horsey" on a broomstick, to humble himself in public. That's what I thought of, in Publix, feeling embarrassed. I got some stares.

But I made 3 Jews laugh.

My Photo Name: Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven
Location: Chutz l'aretz - Outside of Brooklyn

fancymaven at gmail dot com