Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Mishmash of different things

1. I read Away with my book club. I liked it, and so did the roommate. No one else did. It was my first book club meeting, which was interesting. A varied group of people, and just like in class, there are some people who are smarter or more intellectual than others, and you can't tell the others to shut up because they are adding nothing to the discussion. I really liked the girl who was leading the discussion, though. If I remember correctly, she's a teacher.

At any rate, you should all read it and let me know what you think.

2. A little while ago, Esther Kustanowitz emailed me (and her whole list) a blog posting by XGH about how Esther missed the point in dating. Or she isn't dating correctly. I found his piece to be very interesting (no, seriously) and it made me think about a couple things:

A. We're told from childhood that we're "special" and "unique" then we grow up, are thrown into a new environment (often a city, it's easier to date and get married in a small town/small pool) and told to find someone like us. It's a pretty large order, especially for those who don't have a tight-knit community and the automatic filters of Orthodoxy. It can seem so overwhelming, so people HAVE to define boundaries, (like I want someone who covers her hair, but wears pants) if only to be able to start selecting.

B. We're also told that we shouldn't "settle," but also that "no one is perfect" and that "people can change" but "you shouldn't try to change someone." So what are we supposed to do? Pick someone whom you like the way that they are, but maybe they could be better, but they have to be pretty good already, or else you're worried that you could "do better." It is all a bit confusing. When people are "too picky" I think it comes from a place of not knowing HOW to choose, and making, sometimes arbitrary decisions.

As a corollary to that: while the characteristics that XGH lists (looks, money, family, etc) shouldn't be the only ways that you measure a possible mate, neither should you ignore them. For instance, I have an ex whose family was totally crazy. It wasn't just an issue of when we saw them, but also the example it set for him in terms of interpersonal relationships. He was really nice most of the time, but didn't get that when you're angry, you can't make personal attacks against someone you love. Well, you can, but you shouldn't. It made it impossible for me to be around him anytime that he was frustrated or angry, because I'd be worried that he'd take it out on me. I found myself avoiding conflict, etc, etc. Same sort of deal with looks. If you aren't attracted to someone, you just aren't. That is fine. You shouldn't canonize some ideal of beauty and look for that, but if you happen to have a thing for redheads (as I used to), or smaller women, or whatever, that isn't a bad thing. You have to build a life with someone, and that includes an intimate life. If you aren't attracted to them, your relationship, no matter how spiritual it may be, is not complete*.

C. I believe that if you are unmarried up to the age of 30, that it is possible that it just didn't click for you (I also believe that, on some level, everyone has the love life that they want, but we can talk about that later), but after 30 maybe you should start looking at yourself. The longer you stay single, the more set in your ways you get. That said, I'd rather be single at 35 than compromise and marry some guy just for the sake of getting married. XGH and I might disagree on whether or not marriage is an end in an of itself. I don't want to be married for the sake of being married, I want to find the one for whom my soul calls out (NB: CJ and I have been dating for a year, this week), and I don't think that, that is unreasonable.

*This assumes that you are attracted to other people. If you're asexual, go for it. Also, you don't need to be THE MOST attracted to your mate, but there has to be something.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

At Last My Love, At Last

I went to Chicago. It was beautiful. The weather was warm, but not hot, clear, and gorgeous.

I had two goals:
1) Take public transportation
2) Eat at Ken's

Sadly, I accomplished neither of those things. I was on a business trip, so I either walked or took cabs (but one of my co-workers, who lived in Chi-town gave me the grand tour from the cab), and I ate a lot of salad, but no Ken's. Stupid co-workers who eat stupid treif.

At any rate, I did walk around a lot. I had a drink at the top of the Hancock building (95th floor) and saw all of Chicago laid out for me in lights. I drank some local beer (and non-local tequila) and heard a great deal about aforementioned co-worker's love life. I also spent a lot of time in hotels, in meetings, and in a business suit (which makes me look like an old lady). This, however, was not Chicago's fault.

I called CJ from my hotel room to let him know that I loved the city. His response: "That's nice. You can love it from New York." LAME.

Don't worry though, I am still gathering a group of friends who will all move to Chicago together in a few years. I actually have 10 people who've committed. We'll see how well it works out, seeing as I can't even get anyone to move to the East side.

Oh well. I can dream.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do you know what happens when a Jew is struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.

Well, Well, take a look at this:
In short, Halle Berry made an anti-Semitic comment that was poorly edited out on the Tonight Show. Now, I certainly don’t have any problem with the comment itself. Guess what everyone, the secret is out. Some Jews have big noses. As far as negative stereotypes go, there are far worse things to be saddled with. Off the top of my head I’m having trouble remembering them, but I’m sure I’ll think of some as soon as I’m done brushing my teeth of the blood of Christian babies.

No, the real concern here is that Halle’s Berry’s poor decision making has now hemorrhaged out of her ability to pick a good script and into her sense of humor. After Monster’s Ball it has indeed been a slippery slope for Miss Berry; Gothika, Die Another Day, Catwoman, Robots and Perfect Strangers. FACT: If you added up all the dust collected on copies of these films at your local blockbuster you could give the entire state of Texas asthma. Thank goodness for all that good country air.

Oh, and she’s also the weakest link in the X-Men movies.

At least she had enough common sense to ask Leno to cut the bit. What’s kind of damning in all this is her excuse:

"What happened was I was backstage before the show and I have three girls who are Jewish who work for me. We were going through pictures to see which ones looked silly, and one of my Jewish friends said [of the big-nose picture], 'That could be your Jewish cousin!' And I guess it was fresh in my mind, and it just came out of my mouth. But I didn't mean to offend anybody. I didn't. I didn't mean any harm."

Don’t you see? It’s ok, because the joke wasn’t Halle’s at all. It was one of her Jewish friends/assistants. Despite this tired old equation of having “x friend=not prejudicial against x”, I honestly don’t believe that Halle Berry is an anti-Semite. Unlike some other celebrities I could name (but I won’t because it would be apocalyptic…o), Halle Berry doesn’t strike me as having an agenda of any kind. She’s just an actress with a steadily declining career that, in an effort to promote her sub-Paul Haggis Oscar bait, slipped up. I don’t think people should be banned from making off-color comments in service of comedy, especially if they’re satirical. What irks me is that it’s such a staggeringly unfunny bit. Facial photo morphs? Really? Didn’t we all get over this when Goo came out in the early 90’s. I’m not offended as a Jew, I’m offended as a funny person. And believe me, I’m funny. My black friend told me so.

Friday, October 19, 2007

thank me later

First of all, if you have never heard of Dinosaur Comics click this now. Seriously. So hilarious especially for the dorkier set (not to make any judgments on our readership, but I think I am changing lives). I thank my buddy science guy for the revelation. Heres a taste:

joking, of course.

PS. alternately, this could just be another thing you all already love, or harley has already posted on, and I could as always just be behind the curve. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Smoke, Mirrors, and Sexy Witches

Stop telling me what to do! Seriously, STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!!

"Sexy should be the way you define it--free from peer pressure and the influence of a junk culture." How about free from the endless commentary from all sides about how we should and shouldn't dress ON HALLOWEEN, for hell's sake.

Last year (wow, really, a whole year ago), Annie blogged on Jews and Halloween and how we love it (or don't, actually, love it at all). I'm astounded that I didn't blog about Prettyboy's infamous Halloween party or the costuming I witnessed there.

For the record, there was more skin there than at market day in a nudist camp. There was even a young woman in assless chaps. 'Nuff said.

I went as a gangster, with a cigar and fedora and suspenders. Perhaps my lack of decolletage (and did I mention the assless chaps?) is why Prettyboy claims I dress like a nun (I don't, for the record, dress like a nun). At the time, I thought to myself: I can be sexy without being a sexy nurse or cat or witch. I can even wear pants and be sexy! Plus, it's Halloween! Who cares if I'm sexy (well, um, I did. Prettyboy and I had just started casually dating and I'll admit to wanting to be the hottest chick there. I didn't anticipate assless chaps, but I think I pulled off my own version of hot. My own, much more covered, not purposefully attempting to make that statement, version of hot.)

Yet now, upon reading Debra Condren's Huffpost post (redundant), all I want to do is slap on a pair of chaps and go marching through Times Square. Look at my ass! It's Halloween! Woo-hoo!

I probably won't, there are appropriate times to remove one's clothing and inappropriate times (no comment from the peanut gallery on this one, please). Likewise, I define how and where I want to be sexy (the answers: in any way I damn well choose and anywhere).

I think that's the point.

Sexy isn't about what you wear, so all this endless chattering about clothed and unclothed is all distraction from the real issue: the commodification and objectification of women's sexuality. I know, big words, I'm sorry, but it's true. These commentators aren't talking about clothing, they're talking about women. And in only addressing one aspect of a women (her body parts, her outfit), they're removing her humanity.

Do the endless commentators on women's dress realize that they're compounding the problem by objectifying us? Condren claims that women are disempowering themselves by wearing revealing clothing on Halloween; that the true way to be empowered is to cover up. Yawn. Wasn't there just a book written on the subject?

Once again, it's all how men perceive us:
Single and looking? Consider the type of partner you want to attract when you're
contemplating how you'll present yourself to the world, even for just one night.
Remember: the brainy, fully-clothed-yet-somehow-mesmerizing-librarian look attracts a totally different animal than does the Playboy Bunny who has nothing substantive to say or do. Think about it. Step out as Tina Tequila and you'll attract a like-minded buffoon.
Does no one else see the irony of arguing feminist values from "dress like that and no nice man will want you"?
Think about the issue in terms of discussions about hip hop lyrics. Talking heads mouth off endlessly on their crassness and violence, without addressing the race and class politics underlying their creation. It's a way of pretending to talk about the issues without actually addressing the root of the problems. It's about perception of propriety by the powerful and not about the content of the words and the actions (the language of the music and the wearing of provocative clothing).

So if the issue is that women are only valuing themselves insofar as they attract men, then let's address that. If the issue is that women are objectified and sexualized far too young, let's address that. But let's throw out the smoke and mirrors bullshit that is the discussion of sexy Halloween costumes.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go try on my sexy mental patient outfit.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jews Are Not Perfectionists, According to Some

If you haven't heard about it already, politically reactionary demagogue Ann Coulter was on Donny Deutch's talk show last night, and she told him that his being Jewish was okay and all, but he'd be "perfected" if he let Jesus into his heart.

I'm not too troubled by this. Any moderately (small-c) conservative version of the liturgy keeps the Aleinu and similar statements that, eventually, the rest of the world is going to wake up and say, like the Rowan Atkinson sketch about hell, that the Jews are right. So if other people are harboring the hope in their hearts that I will suddenly accept the Bahá’u’lláh into my heart, as long as it's not a major part of my interaction with those people, I do not care.

My favorite response is from New York Post editorialist (and son of the author of a famous neoconservative article on African-American/Jewish relations) John Podhoretz, who said:
If I could be assured that conversion to Christianity would instantly cause me
to lose 80 lbs., give me infinite patience when my daughters wake me up at 5 in
the morning, allow me to read 100 pages an hour with total recall, feel complete
indifference when some @$%&^ cuts me off in traffic, grow my hair back on
the top of my head and make it disappear from my ears, and keep me from checking
my Amazon ranking when I have a book out, I would seriously consider it.

I second that.

I wish to close with a piece of trivia. While discussing Ms. Coulter's inability to avoid proseltyzing cable talk show hosts, Emily2 and I got into a tangential discussion about the legal concept of "perfecting" secured debts under American law, which allows the person with the perfected debt of getting first proceeds out of the house, car, stock, etc. when it's sold at foreclosure. I set forth that perfecting people has been illegal in the U.S. since the Thirteenth Amendment, to which Emily2 pointed out that most references to Jews being perfected as chattels come from antiquity, with the most famous example ending in a whole mess o' plagues.

Just FYI.

Know Your Jewish Community: Simchat Torah, a little late

This was my first year spending Simchat Torah on Manhattan's Upper West Side. I knew that it was a scene, so, last year, fresh off an awful breakup, I avoided it.

That was a good choice.

Unfortunately, this year, CJ and I were not so wise. We decided to stay, made plans for meals (I hosted two, he hosted one, and we were invited out a lot), and accepted invitations to parties. In general I don't love chag* parties, I don't find them to be in the spirit of the holiday, and I don't really enjoy drinking all that much. It's fine, I'll do it socially, but it isn't really how I like to spend my time.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I had an awful time. Instead of recapping, in gross detail, everything that went wrong, I'll give you a few highlights:

1. Simchat Torah night: no women dancing. At one point it was me, my friend, and three little girls. Their mom actually thanked us for ensuring that there was SOME dancing in the women's section.

2. All of the people who came to services to socialize, not to pray. I couldn't even hear the Torah reading on Simchat Torah morning.

3. The people who got falling down drunk, and then were loud and obnoxious in the streets/hallways, causing me to hear the remark from a doorman that "I hate this holiday, it's worse every year."

4. Anyone who thinks that it is ok to get drunk and make out at a chag party is incorrect. Make out at home. Ew.

5. The lack of spirituality. I came to dance, and to pray, and it seemed like I was the only one.

Long story short, next year I'm going back to Washington Heights.

*Chag is the Hebrew word for holiday.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Great Scotts!

The Scottish have way better senses of humor than we:

(Hat tip: Queerty via Dan Savage, who is unquestionably NSFW.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bragging Rights

Not to brag, but my friends are cooler than yours.

That's right, a close personal friend of mine is part of the documentary team that created Up at Lou's-the Fulton Fish Market Documentary (but in the interest of maintaining my secret identity, I won't tell you whom-- hint: it's not Ed Koch).

Do you like fish? Do you like documentary film-making? Then go see the most amazing documentary about the Fulton Fish Market EVER TO BE MADE!!!!

Friday, October 5, at the Millenium Theatre (66 E. 4st St) at 8pm.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Or How My Day Couldn't Get Worse)

Today is offically the second day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Ladies, please eat your greens and walk briskly. Also, don't forget your monthly exams.

And read all the articles to thoroughly freak yourself out about risk factors.

Most of all, educate yourselves.

Meanwhile, I'm going to spend the rest of the month under a rock.

i just kant...

Blah. Sorry for the lack of participation (and general rabble rousing usually found in my contributions), but grad school is totally nuts. I have recently started divinity school, and let me just tell you... the fun here is definitely dead. Plus Christian theologians totally love to prove why Judaism is lame... and there's nothing that makes me more "Jew-ish" than reading old white men say how Jesus is the only way to go, and how Jews are lacking in the morality department. Throw in a lot of Kant and you can witness my crankiness. Plus evidently everyone in the MA program already knows the topic of their PhD dissertation!! what!

Alas, I would be lying if I said I wasnt having fun. Not actual fun, but student fun. You know, reading until your eyes hurt, debating for enjoyment, dropping names of dead philosophers... totally a good time. Email me if you want to talk about free will or your noumenal self! wooo!

On another note, the trees here are lovely and cars slow to ensure they do not hit me as i cross the road. People hold doors when my arms are full and my building actually has a perimeter. Life is nice, if not lonely without the "family."

... and i promise to write more (often and interestingly) when i actually have internet! woo

(and tent dresses are totally dumb and look bad on everyone... harley is 99% always right :) )

Another Letter

Dear Security and Assorted Men at My Building,

I'm really flattered that you take the time out of your busy schedule to hit on me every morning. When I wake up in the morning, I think to myself, "All I really want today is to feel awkwardly uncomfortable upon entering my place of work. Please, please let someone much too old for me compliment my outfit!"

But seriously, please stop. I don't mean to be bitchy, which is why I've always been sweet in the past. It's not that I don't think you're very nice guys: I do, really. But please stop with the compliments and the telling me to 'smile.' If I'm not beaming when I walk past you on my lunch break, keep in mind that we're not out at a bar, but, in fact, at our place of business. I could have something business-related on my mind (I don't) or just be really really cranky that I'm at work (I am). And, by the way, that's not flirtatious, it's creepy and annoying.

Also, it's very nice that you like my outfit or think that I'm looking "goooooooood" today. I appreciate the sentiment, really, but it makes me very self-conscious. In fact, it makes me not want to walk through those lobby doors even more than the fact that I'm going to work makes me not walk through those those doors. Who would have even thought that was possible? So, in the interest of my comfort, please keep that one to yourself.

Couldn't we just be cordial? How about a "Hello, how are you this morning"/"Fine, thank you" perfunctory relationship. That way, I can happily ignore it when you stare at my chest and you can go about your business of harassing delivery men.

Please? Or do I have to bring Prettyboy in here and get all kung fu on your ass?

Thank you.


P.S. Could you give the hot UPS guy my number?