Thursday, January 31, 2008

And the jackpot goes to...

Unfortunately, the world is full of ignorant, disturbed and stupid people (all different things). Also very unfortunately if you take the New York subway, you are bound to meet all three kinds fairly regularly. And sometimes you hit the jackpot and meet someone who possesses all three of those attributes at once. And I got lucky yesterday!

As I was walking on the subway platform towards a train, some black man stared at me and said with smile and pleasure, “Heil Hitler!” I am usually lost for words on such occasions because, even though I have been using the subway daily for the past 11 years, I am just not prepared for unwarranted hostility. This time, however, my reaction was almost immediate. I looked at him, smiled back and said, “Idiot.” And I needed no proof for my theory - the guy did it for me. Because based on what I learned, Fuhrer had a special place in his heart for the black population of this planet, and that place was very close to the one held by Jews. How dumb/ignorant/disturbed does one have to be to not know that? But then again, he didn’t look like someone who paid attention to his history teacher.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What will countess Marya Aleksevna say to this ?

I went to a wedding this Thursday. It was one of my husband's old friends, who finally found his other half. I wish them happily ever after.

During the main course I took my little one to the restroom, where a woman heard me speaking Russian to DD, and in turn started a conversation in Russian with me. Turned out she was from Baltimore; we had a few friends in common. During the conversation this woman mentioned that Baltimore has a lot of available guys, and she wanted to know if I knew any single girls. I had a few names ready, and we were going through the regular questions: age, ever been married, where from, appearance. The last question inevitably led to the discussion of weight, at which point this woman sighed and said, "Guys nowadays only want thin girls." No kidding, I think I can write a book on the topic that could rival War and Peace in its length. (Don't worry, this post will not be that long.) At least this woman was nice about it and actually sided with us, pleasantly plumped female population.

This brought me back to about five years ago, when I myself made a call to some matchmaker, who was recommended to me by an older acquaintance from the synagogue. After a short introduction and a few questions, I was asked about my weight and was told that girls over size 8 needed not apply for her services. That included me. In a few very short words I was rendered unmarriageable and hopeless. In five short minutes my spirit was crushed without much consideration. There was no sympathy, apology or compassion in her voice. You are fat, you deserve to stay single. Sometimes I think that a convicted murdered would have received more support from this woman. After that conversation, I immediately called back my acquaintance, and very indignantly recounted what had happened. I was in for another shock. My acquaintance told me, "Call her back. Tell her you are size 8." "But won't she notice that I am not?" I asked. I got an exasperated, "Then you should get to size 8!" I expected more understanding, especially from someone whose own daughter struggled with weight. But then again, due to a medical condition my acquaintance never was an ounce over size zero, so she would never, ever understand what it felt like to be told to lose six dress sizes in two weeks, especially when you tried for the past two years. She would never, ever know how insulting it was to have had your personal worth measured in pounds and dress sizes. For the first time in my life I was grateful to come from a family of full-bodied women; I might have gotten a fat gene or a lifetime of bad eating habits, but I also had my mother's understanding in this area. Somehow, I think that the daughter of my acquaintance was sorely lacking it.

Now, after getting married, I got my own window into the male psyche. I once broached this subject with my hubby, and received a confirmation to my long held belief. There truly are men who cannot be attracted to a woman over a certain size. And there are others, greater in number than the first group, who might not personally object to the looks of someone size 12. However, they are concerned about their friends' opinions. Since thinness is "in", having a fiancee or wife over a certain size is a sign that they have settled for someone sub-par.

And there it goes: there are tons and tons of men in their thirties claiming to be willing to do anything to find their better half who all the while not able to risk dating someone not picture perfect. They are searching for years, not getting a clue from the experiences of their married friends most of whose wives gained a dress size or two (at the very least) after marriage. Not getting at all that maybe, just maybe they themselves are not greatest catches (often time themselves lacking in appearance department as well as other areas), and adjusting their (or actually their friends') expectations to reality might be the only way to ever get married. (By the way, most of these friends whose opinion is oh so important don't really care what the girl looks like as long as she makes the guy happy.) If you ask me, these morons are probably doing us fatties a huge favor by refusing to meet/date our kind. Because living a life where "keeping up with the Kohens" is a norm is not my idea of happiness. On the other hand, some women may prefer this over staying single...

But back to the guy who got married on Thursday. He was looking to get married close to ten years. He had his list, and would not consider compromising. I don't know at which point be broke down, but the girl he married is definitely someone he would never consider dating only three years ago. No, the girl was not overweight, but that's not the point. He finally got over the fear of what some people might say, and now found someone with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. So there are happy endings, and I hope that all my friends get their own happy endings too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From Guillermo, with love

Some people are blessed to sound sexy when they have a cold. I, on the other hand, sound like an angry elephant(when blowing my nose) or like a very old and rusty door (at all other times). I had made peace with it a long time ago...until today. Today I would pay to sound like an old rusty door...

I had called my husband wanting to share some news at the time when he apparently couldn't talk to me. It happens, so I went on my merry way putting the kids to sleep. Then five minutes later I heard my husband's distinct ring on my cell phone. Very impressed with him for not forgetting to call me back and taking my feelings into account, I picked up the phone and said a bit flirty, "Hello, dear." What do I hear back??? "Isaac?" I actually had to persuade the man, who was most likely borrowing my husband's phone, that I indeed was not Isaac, and that he needed to let my husband dial the phone number for him. He then hung up the phone...and called me back, calling me Isaac again...

When my husband came home and I heard the story from his side ( hubs, who was witnessing all these, "You are NOT Isaac?" bits of conversation and already having some mild fun, finally did get a chance to dial the number for the poor fellow. He then realized that the fellow was talking to yours truly, and at that point almost fell off a chair with laughter. In front of many, many people. Hubs did the same at home when he heard my side of the story.) No matter how funny it sounds, there's something unsettling when your flirty voice sounds like that of a Chassidic man from Boro Park. I don't think I would be able to get through this with my self-esteem intact without my husband's compassion - because there's no substitute for a loving man's comfort. My husband now walks around the house and keeps on repeating in a very low voice, "Hi dear." G-d bless his soul. He finally figured out what kind of comfort his wife needs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Murphy's back or no good deed goes unpunished...

Ok, it was good while it lasted.

Previously on this blog: My co-worker lent me her ID so that I would be able to catch up with my workload on the week-end. She was even nice enough to drop it off at my house.

In this issue: Petrified that I would lose/damage/forget somewhere her ID, I kept an eye on it at all times. Whatever the circumstances, I was determined not to seem ungrateful or reckless with her property. I had to return the ID, nice and whole, before the end of the weekend. I had remembered about seven times during the course of Monday to call my co-worker and find out what her plans were, so that I could come to her house and drop it off. I got distracted for the total of seven times as well. I had very good reasons and excuses: I had a cold, my husband had a very bad cold, the kids were tired and misbehaving…. Long story short: Monday night around 12.15 am I realized that I was still in the possession of the ID and with no way to deliver it to my colleague. Nice… It really isn’t like me. I am disorganized, but with certain issues I am very, very determined and reliable. Well, I can’t say that any more, can I?

So my poor generous co-worker got the bad end of Murphy’s Law this time. For going out of her way to be nice to me, she had to rely on the kindness of strangers to let her into our office. This stupid law probably rubbed off me. Serves her right for keeping me company.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rabinowitz's Law

After posting so many times about Murphy's Law, I feel obligated to report something opposite and positive, the un-Murphy's Law. What would be the opposite of Murphy? I thought Rabinowitz fits well, but if you have any better suggestions, they are mostly welcome.

I haven't posted much, actually anything in the past week, mostly because we are closing the year. Those who are not accountants will not understand, and G-d bless you! A lot of work means that I do not get to take lunch and have to leave office late, which leaves a lot of errands to be done at home and very few brains cells left over for anything remotely interesting, let alone witty to share. (I think I gave myself a compliment here, oh well...) But a lot of stuff has been and still going on. Crazy people on the train, demanding bosses, few interesting daydreaming sessions, rib mystery, Blog for Choice Day - just to name a few! There's so much that wants to be said and typed, but so little time is available.

How is it all related to Rabinowitz's Law? Let me explain.

Since there's a lot of work and the boss is demanding, the workload literally doubled if not more this month, and to add insult to injury, needed to be done in half the time. I am not kidding or exaggerating this time. Some people have managed to get it done (I suppose they don't have blogs, hehe), I was behind with mine. (Honestly, my work is very different from many people in the department, so there really are objective reasons for lagging behind other than pure laziness, and you saw, I didn't post much!) And the vultures, I mean auditors are coming very, very soon. All of this meant that I had to come in to work on the weekend. Luckily I had a choice between today and Monday. Unluckily, my ID/entry card doesn't work on the weekends, and I don't know whether it works on MLK Day. (It would also be nice to find it, but I am afraid it shared the destiny of my silverware and is now somewhere deep in my heater.) So I had to borrow my former boss' ID, whose access is not limited to normal working hours. Bad thing: it occurred to me that I needed her card five minutes after she left for the week. Good thing: she lives five minutes away from me (by car). It was decided that I would drop by and pick up the ID Saturday night.

Friday night my husband gets sick, and Saturday night he is still so sick that he refuses to drive. It is very cold, and my colleague's house is at least half hour away by foot. It is also very cold and dark. I call her on the phone to see what her plans are, mentally ready to make a very unpleasant trip, most likely with kids so that they wouldn't bother sick hubby. She is not home and does not pick up her cell phone. Great, I think. According to Murphy's Law, she is probably two blocks away from me picking up her kids from a sleepover, but doesn't know that I can't get to her. And even if she does call me, she probably doesn't have the ID on her. And in either case, I couldn't ask her to drive to me because after all she is nice enough to share her ID, asking her to deliver it to me would be just pure chutzpa.

And then - ta-da! Rabinowitz's Law at work. She calls me herself, and she indeed is not two, but about five blocks away, with her purse and ID, offering to drive to my house and drop off her card! How's that? I was besides myself with joy and relief. I love you, my former boss! And I love you, Mr. Rabinowitz, even though you are a product of my sick imagination.

P.S. one might say that going to work on the weekend is really an off-shoot of Murphy's Law, and some day I might agree, but for now shhhh. Let me enjoy Rabinowitz before Murphy comes back full force.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Save the Earth!

I just got the chain email from my mom about the importance of friends. It was very cute, but at the end of it I found this little gem:

Save the earth. It's the only planet with chocolate.

(Barb, you should attach this to you work emails.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dimarsky family update

Here's the update on the Dimarsky family situation and the answer to the question, "What can I do?"

I received this email from a woman close to the family.

Dear Friends,
This is an excruciating time for the Dimarsky family. Needless to say that Sherry's untimely passing is a true devastation for them, and everyone who knew her.
This is also the time when our generous donations can really help the people who have given their whole lives to others.

We can help Rabbi Dimarsky and the four boys deal with their large medical and funeral expenses and help get them through these financially-difficult times.
Let's show them that they are not alone in their trouble.
Please make the checks out to Heritage and mail them as soon as possible to:

6100 N Drake Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659

May our charity elevate the holy soul of Sherry (Sara Chana bas Naftali) even higher.

May we only hear good news.

Never say never or my Bridget Jones moment

During the last two weeks I had: two and a half episodes of vertigo, three gross pills to stop it, and about four hundred suggestions, insinuations, or simply direct questions about my possible pregnancy. Some people were friends, some were concerned colleagues and some simply couldn't imagine an Orthodox woman in her child-bearing years not pregnant. Incidentally the last group was the most obnoxious and was the least entitled to know the answer. (Up until very recently I thought that only Orthodox, Mormon and celebrities are subjected to this kind of belly scrutiny; apparently Dawn from Because I Said So, who is somewhat of a celebrity, but definitely not Orthodox or Mormon, had experienced the same avalanche of pregnancy questions after posting about her vertigo episode.) And it matters not that I have been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease and made this fact public precisely to avoid these situations. Young? Married? Orthodox? Lightheaded and nauseous? You MUST be pregnant! Don't even try denying it because you can't fool the all-knowing ME!

At first I ignored the insinuations and pretended I didn't understand what people were hinting. Then I got annoyed, and towards the middle of the week every glance in my direction was met with the evil glare and a hysterical shriek, "No, I am NOT!" (Turns out some people were looking not for the signs of life, but at my unzipped fly, which I only discovered at the end of the day, probably because people were afraid to approach me. Oh well...) And then towards Wednesday night the suspicion crept into my mind. What if I actually am? After all I AM young and married. And nauseous. And light-headed. And recently had a UTI, gained three pounds, became moody, had a bad headache .... the lists went on and on and on. So I decided to be sure and take an early pregnancy test (EPT).

The minute that decision was made, I felt the call of nature. How convenient, I thought. So I ran to the bathroom, gave my toilet one longing look, turned my basket with hygiene products upside down, but couldn't find the test. Hmm, I was sure I had one and it was there. Then I ran to the medicine cabinet - not there either. I urgently had to use the bathroom, but couldn't find the darn test. I thought of doing the logical thing - taking the test in a couple of hours - but the voice in my head that sounded like Homer Simpson (don't ask, I don't know why, but ever since I OD'ed on donuts, my inner voice sounds like Homer) spit out a line from the EPT instructions, "Need concentrated urine, need concentrated urine." So with that mantra, I was running around like a maniac, stopping in awkward poses to prevent an accident and simultaneously trying to find the test that I was sure had to be somewhere in the house. When my inner voice changed to that of Agent Mulder and told me to keep looking because, "The test is out there", I realized that urine probably got to my brain and I myself was getting kind of "out there". At that point I gave up the search and breathed the sigh of relief. And then I got to the toilet - just kidding...

Next day during my lunch break, I went to the pharmacy and bought a new test. Every time I shop for EPT, I amuse myself while waiting in line to pay with the recollection of the chapter in The Bridget Jones Diary about Bridget's experience with EPT. Of course the heroine never reads the instructions and thinks that one line on the test means she is with a child until somebody tells her that it is actually two lines, not one. After a few seconds, my mind always wonders off to different topics such as how Bridget managed to take her first EPT while well in her thirties, or why she wouldn't read instructions, and how such a thing would never happen to me because I waste oodles of time on reading and rereading the stupid labels and instructions to everything. At that point it is usually time to pay.

I was very tempted to do the test right away, but forced myself to wait until most people left the office. So I went to the bathroom, and while trying to open the wrapper, I dropped the test on the floor. When I bent down in the stall to pick it up, I realized that the woman in the next stall happened to be the one who was surer than anyone else that I was preggers. Sheesh, can't a girl catch a break from Murphy and his law?

So finally, the deed was done and I was awaiting results. Very, very quickly two lines appeared on the stick. TWO LINES!!!!! OMG, I actually was pregnant! All those people were right! I already imagined holding the baby, I could almost smell his downy hair (it kind of smelled like Lysol, but then again I was in the bathroom), got all mellow with a stupid smile plastered on my face - 3 seconds is a long time for daydreaming. And then I snapped out of it and remembered that this particular test requires a line and a plus sign for a positive result, two lines = negative. And then I remembered something else: I went through the same "two lines" vs "plus sign" thing the last time I took a pregnancy test. Hello, Bridget!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It was a hard week's night

Last week was a difficult one for me personally and I think for a lot of my friends, people in my community and Jews in general. I will not dwell on the obvious reasons for sadness in my community; my previous posts explain it all and at the same time only barely touch the surface of sadness and the feeling of tremendous loss. This post deals only with my experiences and feelings.

So here's my week in review. My great-aunt's husband passed away on Thursday, my grandmother was hospitalized with - guess what? - her first vertigo on Saturday, Rabbi Berenbaum passed away on Sunday, and on Monday I found out about Mrs. Dimarsky. This loss was the hardest to bear, still is. It was more personal. It was unexpected. It didn't seem right or fair. It raised a lot of questions, some more appropriate than others: why her? why now? what's next? what can I do? how can I help?

Right before I found out about Rabbi Berenbaum's death, I had completed a funny post. It didn't seem appropriate to post it then. It still doesn't seem appropriate to post it. It will have to stay in the draft form a bit longer. I was thinking of writing something about Sherry, but couldn't find the right words. For the first time in a very long time I don't want to be funny. Right now I just want to be sad, to ponder on the questions in my head, to think of the things that I can do to honor the memories of Rabbi Berenbaum and Sherry Dimarsky. And maybe reflect on why my week was surrounded by three deaths. Is this a message? A wake-up call? Or a simple reminder that I don't have all the time in the world?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Update for Sherry Dimarsky

Many of my friends (who also happen to be the readers of my blog) had asked what could be done to help the family. I have emailed someone in Chicago, and this is her response:

Her soul was too holy for this world and she is breathing much easier now. It's just devastating for the family and us.
There is something that we can do for the family and I will G-d willing send out info later tonight when I get it.
For now, they have a message board at and you can leave your words for the family there. I am sure they will really appreciate it when they see it.
May we only hear good news.
Stay strong.

There's also a beautiful tribute written by Sally Hazel on her blog, here's the link.

Pictures from Rabbi Berenbaum's zt'l levaya

This is the casket with the Rav's body. People walked with it for quite a few blocks, and then it was taken to JFK to be buried in Israel.

Many people came from upstate New York, New Jersey and different boroughs of New York. Many came by buses (you can see them in the background). My husband said that it was extremely hard to ride a car that time of the day because both Coney Island Ave. and Ocean Parkway were full of buses and cars all coming for the funeral. There were so many cars that there was no parking in the 10 block radius.

Many people spoke about the Rav's many deeds of loving-kindness and dedication to G-d, Torah and commandments.

I saw that many people visited my blog in the past few days. My best guess is that they were looking for the news and articles about the Rav. I am sorry to disappoint all of you. I hope that these pictures will serve as at least some consolation for the time it took you to come to this site.
B'sorot tovot.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Update for Sherry Dimarsky

I just received this:

It is with the greatest pain and sorrow that I am writing of the untimely passing of our dear friend Sherry Dimarsky, Sarah Chanah bas Naftoli. With her bright light gone, this world will be a darker and a colder place. No words can describe our loss. The funeral arrangements are not yet made, but it will take place some time tomorrow. May G-d comfort her husband, boys, parents and brother among all of the mourners of Israel.

I couldn't have put this better myself. I can't write any more because I don't see the screen through tears.

Plea fo Sherry Dimarsky - Sarah Hannah bas Bayla

I just got this in my email. I personally saw Sherry only once in my life, but she made a huge impact on me. She also remembers me to this day insisting to keep in touch. She is always on a look-out for a mitzva and seeks out ways to help, even to people she only saw once (this is from my personal experience.) I plead with all of you visiting this blog to get news about Rav Berenbaum to please say a prayer for this absolutely wonderful woman.

This is the email:
Dear all,
As you may or may not know, Rabbi Dimarsky's wife, Sherry, is critically ill. The lung that was transplanted 3 years ago is being rejected and the doctors give her a week (!!!! May we never know the horror of such statement !!!!) when she can still qualify for another lung transplant if a match is found. They are estimating that after that she will be too weak to go through such major surgery, which is the last chance, at least in our human view, for continuing to live a normal life.
Aside being a mother of 4 wonderful boys and a wife, Sherry is the most giving and community-service dedicated person I know. Being a lawyer, she chose a non-financially lucrative career and for many years headed an organization for abused women, giving it endless hours and her physical and mental efforts. Even while being very ill, Sherry spent all of her time helping, mentoring and comforting others. I and hundreds of others have been inspired and touched by her light. What she and her husband did for the Russian-Jewish community of Chicago is immeasurable and seems hardly humanly possible.
Sherry's parents are both Holocaust survivors who have already buried 2 out of 4 of their children. We can't even imagine what they must be going through at their old age with their 3rd and youngest child being so ill.
With that being said, we believe that the power of prayer can change a situation even as grave as this. We are asking everyone to say prayers as much as you can for Sherry's miraculous and speedy(!!!) salvation from her suffering and that of her family. When we pray for an ill person, we use their Hebrew name ( Sarah Hannah bas Bayla). Prayer doesn't have to be formal - sincere words coming from the heart are just as powerful.
Also, we are asking that people dedicate (mentally) mitzvahs-good deeds- to Sherry's salvation. It can be something simple that you are not doing otherwise (i.e. lighting of Shabbos candles, Torah lessons, giving charity, choosing not to engage in gossip, etc.) Please do something special this week.
May all of our communal prayers and good deeds break the evil decree! Thanks in advance for all of your help.
P.S. Please pass this on to anyone who might know the Dimarskys and is not aware of the severity of Sherry's current situation.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum, zt'l

I just heard this from my husband. Rav Raphael Shmuel Berenbaum, zt'l, had passed away today. The Jewish world had lost one of the greatest sages of our time. My husband said he had never seen so many grown men cry.

I never know what to say during these times, so I won't say anything... My heart goes out to his family, friends, students and anyone mourning him. :'(

Update: The levayah will be held at Mirrer Yeshiva starting 8.45 am until about 11 am, and then the body will be flown to Eretz Yisrael for burial.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ignorance is a bliss

We have an ongoing conflict in our house - the Great Pacifier Stand Off. Basically, my daughter only uses it when going to sleep, and at times she demands it when tired. For me it's a great cue that she's ready for bed. For hubby it's a great source of frustration. Unlike me, hubby is a man of rules, and pacifier should have been outgrown about two years ago. I don't approve of the pacie either, but I have yet to see a teenager with a binky. And since my daughter can contain her pacie usage to limited situations, it is not that big of a deal for me. I probably should do more research on this just to make sure. But currently things are in the middle: we want her to stop (without doing much, just the power of persuasion and prayer) and she doesn't want to give it up (without doing much, she's winning, of course.)

That's how thing were until recently. This Sunday my folks took the kids for half a day. At the end, our children were really tired, so naturally my daughter asked for her pacie. We couldn't find one in a car, but she would go on and on and on about getting one, and no amount of reasoning worked. This was when my husband uttered the historical words turning the Great Pacifier Stand Off into a Great Pacifier Battle. He said that since our daughter couldn't be rational about her pacifier, she lost her privilege to use it. And thus pacie was outlawed. And just in case I didn't get the full implication of this, I was told that we both would be in trouble if hubby found DD with pacie upon his coming back from the night class. (Which made me wonder what "trouble" meant for me: extra load of laundry? withholding of dessert? would I be grounded and not allowed to go to work? hmmm...)

Only a few days prior, the entire incident would barely register in my head. I would just nod in all the right places and do whatever seemed right at the moment. But not now. Now I was educated (i.e.completed two out of six parenting classes on a CD only last night), and my educational sources said that No should be No. Backtracking your No is big no-no. Even if made by another parent. Even if made in haste (another parenting no-n0). Even if you don't agree and weren't consulted. Even if you will ultimately pay the price of that No because the big genius and decision maker will be gone to his night class and you will be putting the kid to sleep, the kid who didn't spend a single night of her life without her pacifier.

Getting kids ready to sleep was hard and heartbreaking. My daughter wouldn't cry, she actually figured out that she lost her pacie because of crying, so every so often she would come and say, "Mommy, you see I am not crying, could you please give me my pacie?" But I had to be tough, and I was. I no longer had the freedom to do what seemed right at the moment because now I was educated. Giving in now meant behavior problems/neuroses/life of crime later. I actually started making peace with the situation; sooner or later this had to happen since there was no way DD would give up pacie on her own. Putting the kids to sleep was even harder. DD simply would not fall asleep without her dear pacie, but would lie in bed and quietly cry. Somehow she would also wake up her brother who all of a sudden discovered an overdeveloped sense of compassion. After about an hour I gave up and told the kids that their father would put them to sleep. At least I wasn't giving in and stood my ground in the Great Battle of Pacifier.

Then the decision maker came home. A smile, a hug, a kiss, a strategically well-placed single tear in those big gray eyes, and a solemn promise to never, ever cry about her pacifier again - within five minutes of hubby walking in the door DD got her pacifier back. _________!!!!!! Yes, you got that right. I suffered for two hours, and he gave in almost immediately. To my, "But all the parenting specialists say..." I got, "Parenting education is great (how would you know, you never did any???), but sometimes you have to do what seems right at the moment."

And I had to go along. Even if I didn't agree. Even if I wasn't consulted. Even if I was very tempted to strangle somebody... Because now I was educated...