Thursday, February 26, 2009

New blog for your attention

Written by a woman who is watching her mother die of cancer: Daughter of Cancer.

In her most recent post, the blogger lists all the things that people say that just make things worse. I found myself nodding as I read. Because sometimes, there is nothing to say. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just shut up, and listen.

So please head on over, shut up, and listen to her.
It is official. My friends and I have decided to do a 5K run on May first. This would make me a Runner. Like any good runner, I have a training program. I designed it all by myself. It goes something like this:
  1. Get up in the morning. Before I do anything else—take my Eltroxin, drink coffee, whatever—I put on sweatpants, the Uniboober bra, a t-shirt and running shoes.
  2. Actually, the above is not entirely correct. The very first thing I do is to brush my teeth. I cannot do anything in the morning until I have brushed my teeth. If I were to wake up one night and find my house burning down around me, I am pretty sure I would make a mad dash to the bathroom to clean the pearly whites before I got around to escaping the house.
  3. Drink coffee and eat a banana.
  4. Prepare my food for the day
  5. Spend an hour putzing around: reading one of the fifty books I have lying about; surfing the net; doing household chores which I normally hate doing—but if they get me out of exercise, sababa! and many other random time-wasters.
  6. Look at the time. My! Is it that time already?
  7. I have no time to go running now!
  8. I have to go to work!
  9. What a shame!
  10. Take off the running gear, shower, get ready for work, and go.

Call me a pessimist if you will, but I suspect that this may not be the most effective training plan out there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A friend is undergoing fertility treatments. Today, she was to pick up the donor sperm. I offered her a lift to the hospital. On the way there, we passed an agricultural school. I (of course) thought it was the hospital and started to turn in there; my friend corrected me and we continued on our way. We then proceeded to have the following exchange:

Friend: I could get goat sperm there.

Me: Cool! Then you could have a freaky goat baby! And you could sell it! And use the money to buy an apartment!

Friend: starts laughing hysterically.

Of course, on the way back from the hospital, Friend kept the container with the donor sperm as far away from me as was humanly possible. I think she was worried that my weirdness DNA might infect the sperm DNA by osmosis. I am no medical doctor, but I am pretty sure that is not how the whole DNA-sharing thing plays out.

Anyway, just thought I would toss that idea out there, in case one of you is looking to take advantage of plummeting real-estate prices, but is short on capital. I do not know how much a goat-human baby would go for, but as one of my co-workers noted, you could probably make a killing on Ebay. Then again, while waiting for Friend at the hospital I saw a woman who I would swear is half-woman and half-fish. I would not pay anything for her. FRIGHTENING!

I ran my cunning plan past another co-worker. Her response: I need a vacation. Crazy woman! What I need is a surrogate mother and some goat sperm. And then I will become a real estate tycoon! Yahahaha! Power and wealth is all within reach!
At what point did "you've lost weight" cease to be an observation made based on empirical data (namely, person has lost weight and is thinner) and start to be a standard greeting? Every time I see some of my friends, they greet me with a pleasantly surpised "you've lost weight!" If this were actually the case, by this point I would be hospitalized for aneorexia. Instead, I have gained about a million kilos.

Confusing, indeed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Am I missing something here?

Just received this from Saw You At Sinai:

This Purim, send your Basherte a beautiful Purim basket from Choose from an assorted array of elegant Purim baskets at affordable prices. Picture the joy when he or she receives this basket from You can also take this opportunity to show your appreciation to your matchmaker (shadchan). These Purim baskets will surely make them keep you in their minds. Shipping to USA, Canada and Israel.

Ummm...forgive me for pointing out the blindingly obvious, but if I had a Bascherte to send shit too, I would not be on the Saw You at Sinai mailing list.

And as for trying to cozy up to the shadchan...let me see if I have this straight. My personality, my brains, my neshama, my appearance etc....none of that is enough to make me noteworthy. But a Purim THAT is enough to lurch me into the stratosphere of Eligible Bachelorettes?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

For me, one of the down-sides of growing up and now living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (in my case, PDD NOS) has been missing out on some of the coming-of-age events, phases of development and life cycle events that the people around me, the normal people, have experienced. I mean, I have milestones. They have tended to be rather different than those of say, my sister. Compare if you will, the following:

Sister at 13: Flawlessly executed Bat Mitzvah attended by beaming family members and scads of friends

Me at 13: On August 21, 1983, after a two-year stay, released from the National Children’s Rehabilitation Center (now Graydon Manor). This milestone was quickly succeeded by weeks in which I begged to be sent back to the Center, as I came to the conclusion the people were nicer there and the real world sucked big time.

Sister at 16: Went off to the Junior Prom!

Me at 16: Finally kicked the obsessive shoplifting habit!

Sister at 18: Graduated second in her class from High School! Jetted off to the Rice University, the Harvard of the West where she enjoyed a fantastic, storybook, college existence. (Or not. I mean, I never really asked her. I am just assuming.)

Me at 18: Graduated High School! Moved out of the house and started working the midnight shift at Dunkin Donuts! Enrolled in and then flunked out of Community College! Avoided become a pothead or a single mother only because my social skills were still so pathetic that even the potheads did not want to hang out with me and not too many men wanted to sleep with me.

So yeah, I missed out a bit. Every so often, I go through phases where I mourn over what I lost. I moon about, feeling all sorry for myself. When talking to friends, at random intervals, and without any connection to anything we are actually talking about, I will spout some melodramatic drivel about how they experienced x, y or z and that I did not. Because of the PDD-NOS. And how now I will never, never, ever experience it because My Youth Was Wasted on Mental Illness. That Ship Has Sailed. I am forever deprived. And then I sigh. Loudly.

Anyway, now that I too am one of the normal people and everything, I have decided that the time has come to stop my whining and take matters into my own hands. Missed Opportunities? Hello! Is that not what a midlife crisis is for? To relive and improve upon one’s now vanished (and probably misspent) youth? Hell yes! If a 40 year old man with a combover and a potbelly can go out and buy himself a muscle car and a trophy wife so he can make up for being a loser in High School, is it not just and right that I should also be able to make up for some of my own lost time? Of course it does! Accordingly, I decided to ditch my mature, responsible, thoughtful nature and become what, in a normal, non-PDD NOS existence, I would have been 20 years ago.

A slut.

Alright, not really a slut. Just sort of. You know what I am talking about, right? You go off to college, go to frat parties or a pub, get drunk and have random sex with some guy or some girl you met at the party or one that you knew before and kinda had a crush on and were too shy to do anything about it but, hey, now you are drunk! The next morning, you wake up and shriek (or groan, if you are a guy) “Oh my GOD! I cannot believe I slept with him/her! Man! I was, like, SOOO drunk!” At this point, your friends, will nod vociferously and agree that , Man, you were, like, SOOO drunk. The next week, you do the same thing over again.

I completely, totally missed out on this part of the college experience. By the time I finally went to college, I was 22. I still had no social skills to speak of, and to top it off I had become a sanctimonious bore. I had been on my own for four years, was working my way through school and considered myself to be far more mature and serious than my fellow students who were (clearly) all spoiled and immature and unappreciative of how lucky they were to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Unless you count Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman and his wife Ronnie Sarah of the University of Delaware Chabad House, I had virtually no friends. And if the truth be told, the Sneidermans were probably nice to me more out of a sense of religious obligation than actually enjoying my company. Given this, that and the other, frat parties and drinking games and nights of wild abandon were in rather short supply.

But that was then, and this is now. I am normal now and gosh darn it— I want my wild and crazy Animal House experience! The only question left how to achieve it. Midlife crisis or no, I simply cannot see myself crashing a frat party at this point in my life. (I am old enough to be the mother of an 18 year old; the thought of shacking up with one simply does not do it for me). For guidance, I decided to hit up my friend Ellie. Ellie is NOT a slut. However, not only did Ellie live in Manhattan for many years, she also owns at least one pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes—the same type of shoes favored by the women of Sex and The City. In my eyes, these two factors are enough to qualify Ellie as A Woman of the World. Over breakfast a few weeks ago, I shared my dream with Ellie. To reclaim my lost youth and to live the wild life I should have had in my 20’s.

Ellie: You want to be a what?

Me: A slut. You know. Wild and crazy and all that.

Ellie: Okay, I get it. Some women go through that in their 20’s; some women go through that in their 40’s. I am with you.

Me: Exactly! So…how does one go about doing this?

Ellie: I do not think you will like it. You would have to go to bars.

Me: Oh. I do not like bars.

Ellie: I know.

Me: Would I have to drink?

Ellie: Of course. That is an essential part of it.

Me: Aaaahhhh right. The alcohol is the Get Out of Jail Free Card. You can do anything, so long as you have a drink in you.

Ellie: (Nodding) And you would have to wear Fuck Me shoes.

Me: What are those?

Ellie: Shut! Up! You do not know what Fuck Me shoes are???

Me: (embarrassed) ummmm…no.

Ellie: Really high heels with pointed toes.

Me: I cannot wear pointed toes. I have wide feet.

Ellie: So they do not have to be pointed. They do have to be high though.

Me: (A bit discouraged by this point). Anything else?

Ellie: You need to wear makeup. Vamp it up. Liquid black eyeliner and red lipstick.

Wow. I could see that this was going to be a lot more difficult than I had expected.

Rather than quit, I decided to start with the easy part—the makeup. On my way home, I bought a tub of liquid black eyeliner. That night I put it on. My eyes started tearing up. I was allergic.

Right, scratch the slut bit. Back to the drawing board.

I bet my stupid sister can wear black eyeliner. Sigh……

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Election Calculus

First, a disclaimer. I just got contact lenses (or in my case, one contact lens). I am in the “wear it for a few hours to get used to it” stage. At least in my case, this is the stage where you spend as much time to get the lens in your eye as you do actually wearing it. After about an hour of effort, I finally got the lens in. And now I can barely read my computer—even with the text magnified to 120%. I am not sure if this is because my eye is adjusting, the prescription is off or I put the damn thing in backward. (Correcting the last item would require I take the contact out and put it back in again. And I do not have an extra hour). Whatever the cause, please forgive me if there is an abundance of typos.

And now….the elections.

Last week, a friend and I discussed the elections. She told me that her husband is voting for Lieberman. She is not particularly happy about this.

Me: Wow! Is he that right wing?

Friend: No, he is not. But he says that, if you want the government to move slightly right, vote far right.

Welcome to the world of Election Calculus, where one’s vote is based on pretty much everything BUT the issues.

Who do you not want to see in office? Which ethnic, socio-economic and religious group would you like to either support or screw royally? Whose influence do you want to block? Who is likely to end up forming or being included in the majority coalition? And, most importantly, who is everyone else voting for? You might switch your vote from Meretz to Kadima if you feel that enough people are going to vote for Livne (Kadima) to allow her to form the government. Alternatively, if you feel that Bibi (Likud) has this election sewed up, you might vote Meretz, in order to ensure a more solidly left opposition. Worried that Livne might outstrip Bibi? Leiberman (Israel Beytenu) is willing to sit with Livne or Bibi; a vote for him will ensure a right-wing slant to government no matter who is on top. Alternatively, switch your vote from Lieberman to Bibi—give Likud that extra edge. Perhaps you are not particularly impressed with Bibi or Livne, but really want to see Barak (Labor) as Defense Minister. Vote for him—if they get enough seats, they will join the coalition, and Barak has already said he would take the Defense Minister portfolio if Labor gets 20 seats. Bibi already expressed interest in having him.

You adore Moshe Feiglin? Pissed off at Bibi for pushing him back in the lists? Stick it to Bibi—vote for Ichud Leumi or Habayit Hayehudi or Leiberman. Lieberman is a good choice if you are pissed off at Arab-Israelis for supporting Gaza in the last war and looking for a day of reckoning. He might also be a good choice if you have had it up to HERE with the Haredim not serving and with the ultra-Orthodox community in general…but only if Shas is not in the government. And what are the chances of that happening? No, that was not a theoretical question. Seriously, what are the chances? How many people are expected to vote Shas? Is Shas willing to sit in a government with Lieberman? Is Lieberman willing to sit in a government with Shas? How many votes will the other parties get? Perhaps enough to form a coalition without Shas? Gosh, when you look at it that way, I mean, you normally are not a supporter, but still, maybe you should vote for Shas. To offset Leiberman and protect the religious—make sure that Shas is big enough that it cannot be left out in the cold. Alternatively, you could vote Hadash. Lord knows, you are hardly a big fan of Arabs, but still...a loyalty oath? That is a slippery slope, my friend. That is a slope we cannot go down.

How many people are expected to vote for Party X? Suppose you are a big supporter of one of the smaller, boutique parties. Say, Hayerukim-Meimad. You feel that their positions on the issues are spot on. The leadership shows integrity. You would vote for them…if only you knew for sure that they would pass the threshold. And if you knew for sure that not only would they pass the threshold, but that they would get enough seats to have some clout and be able to accomplish something. And if you were not worried that a vote for them and one less vote for a big party would lead to an unstable government. But then, at the rate things are going, the government is going to be unstable anyway. And lots of people—25-30% according to the media polls and about 90% according to a poll of your friends and acquaintances—are still undecided. Perhaps your little party can be the new Gimlai’im, the surprise win. And, let’s face it—all of the big names have had their day. They are all failures. Why do any of them deserve your vote? Fuck that! Make your vote a protest vote!

And besides, would it not be nice to vote based on the issues?

Because we have issues. Lots of them. Rampant government and societal corruption and incompetence–we are a nation of scofflaws whose national motto should be לי, מותר (for me this is permissable). An economic meltdown. A terrible water shortage and general environmental crisis. A crumbling educational system. Discrimination against and abuse of various religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups; who gets screwed depends on where one is and who is and who is not in control there. A moribund peace process. The security situation.

But how many people are going to vote based on the issues? How many people are going to vote at all? We have so many problems that we should be voting in droves. Instead, I suspect that many voters will share the sentiment I overhead the other day in a waiting room: there is nothing I can do. The candidates are all shit. They are all corrupt and self-serving. My vote will not change that, so why bother?

G-d, where is our Obama? Where is our reason to believe? Our reason to have hope? Why is it that the people who generate excitement in this country tend to be fascists of one stripe or another? Can we not elect a government based on what we want to accomplish as opposed to whom we wish to destroy?

It is now 10:30 AM on election day. I have read websites. I did the election compass. I have been listening to news radio every day on the way to work. I still have not decided who I am voting for.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another fun link

This week's menu is up at Give Peas A Chance.


First, Fern Chasida has some words from the wise to the foolish, or at least the well-meaning but clueless. Please do read and pass on.

Teacher Lady has posted some lovely recipes up at Give Peas a Chance (my joint blog).

Thanks to Ya'aqov for including me in Haveil Haveilim.

Friday, February 6, 2009

This week, I went to a wedding. I loathe weddings. In addition to weddings being really rough on diets--Roxie hates weddings almost as much as she hates weekends--and being bad places for the hearing impaired, weddings cause me to go slightly insane. I arrive at the wedding normal enough but within a short period of time I am halfway to suicidal.

This wedding was no exception and the depression hit hard. As I do at nearly all weddings, I started calling up all of my friends, from the huppa (wedding ceremony) to cry to them that I am old and decrepit and single and that I am never going to have sex again. Since my more savvy friends have learned to avoid my phone calls at these times, I had taken the precaution of not telling anyone in advance that I was going to a wedding. There you were, Friend, minding your own business, and all of a sudden the phone rang and it was me, calling from a wedding and generally a sodden mess (though a sober one--G-d forbid that this particular mess include any alcohol because I drove and the wedding was in the middle of nowhere and because I have no head for alchohol), tearfully asking you to please say something to cheer me up. At times like this, I ask you to remember one thing: my kick-ass oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. Oh—and another thing. If in the past, apart from agreeing with me that G-d is an inconsiderate bastard, there was nothing to say, this week Kayla finally found that elusive Something To Say. When I called her to whine, she responded with two words: "blog material". Genius! The rest of the evening I was happily occupied with hounding my fellow guests to help me come up with stuff I could put on my blog. Unfortunately, apart from the guy with the unnaturally small head (looked rather like Beatlejuice after his encounter with the witch doctor) there was nothing to write about. But no matter. Maybe the next wedding I go to will be chock-full of entertaining disasters.

As fun as that might be, avoiding the wedding is still preferable. Indeed, in the best interests of my sanity and that of my friends, I avoid weddings whenever possible. To clarify, this does not preclude me from being offended when I am not invited to a wedding that I feel that I should have been invited to. Suppose, for example, we are not friends and have never even had a proper conversation but we do have many friends in common and are part of the same "circle". Or I am friendly with the bride, who knows how much I hate gong to weddings because I have called her up in the past to enlist her advice regarding how to get out of going to a wedding of a mutual friend. Or perhaps I invited the bride or the groom to one of my mass-invite fundraising parties. Or perhaps they had me over for a meal over the hagim, because I was staying with yet another mutual friend and the mutual friend asked if she could bring me. Or maybe three years ago I had the groom over for a dinner at my house--an bona fide invitation-- at which time I discovered he was an obnoxious twit and I hated him and never invited him again. Or something like that. You must agree with me--in such circumstances, do I not deserve to receive an invitation to decline? Scandalous!

But sometimes I get an invitation and (like this week) cannot safely decline it. The deleterious effects of weddings linger long after the event itself. Take this week, for instance. In the last two days, I have signed up for four (4) dating sites: Jdate, SawYouAtSinai, Dosidate and Look4Love. This can only end badly. Either no one will contact me, and I will be depressed because no one contacted me and that means I am ugly and pathetic and the dateless wonder or someone WILL contact me and I will have to go out on a blind date. I hate blind dates as much as I hate weddings.

Why, why WHY do I do this to myself?

Whatever. I have done this to myself. And I need your help. I need to choose my SawYouAtSinai Shadchanim (matchmakers) and I am looking for recommendations—in both directions. What better place to start looking than on my blog? As an incentive, allow me to remind you that blind dates are frequently a source of good blog material. That means fun for me and (hopefully) fun for you. Remember that Shabbat dinner when my friend tried to set me up? Wasn't that fun? Yes? Good. Now, I realize that self-interest demands that you hook me up with really horrible matchmakers, in order to guarantee entertaining blog posts. Allow me to assure you that there is no need for that. I have already gone the Rogue Shadchan Route and I have a respectable collection of blind-dates-from-hell. (To summarize—it appears that many shadchanim believe that a poor sad heroic victim of terror is damaged goods, and is properly matched with the unemployed, the hopeless, the mentally ill and men with comb-overs. So yeah, I have material.)

Hmmmm….maybe I should have you guys help me write my dating site profile?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Minor Rant

To other bloggers out there.... Have you also been plagued with emails from:

1) Publishers and others who expect that, because you write a blog and are Jewish, you will naturally want to advertise their new offerings? Which are probably crap--religious publications being what they are.
2) Think-tank members who seem to believe that issuing you an invite to a conference will naturally result in your wanting to be added to their mailing list so that you can receive long discourses on their political views? (Start a blog. If I am interested, I will read it. )
3) Organizations and government bodies who assume that, because you write a blog and are Israeli, you will, as a matter of course, serve as willing hacks for said organizations and government bodies. (For more on that, see here).

Okay. I am done venting. For now.