Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home, home again. I like to be there when I can.

After a week at the in-laws, 2 days on the road, and an overnight stop at a friend's place, we are now back home. Barkley is back to being normal and quiet, like he never is at other people's houses.

Last night while staying at my friends place, B and I somehow ended up at a pre-production planning meeting for a ghost story investigator show, starring quiet girl's sister as the main ghost story investigator, and my friend who we crashed at last night as one of the back up team. Quiet girl's sister is like a pixie version of quiet girl...they talk the same way and use the same gestures and look very similar, only her sister has a pointy-er face and dreadlocks.

The meeting itself was interesting- they will be investigating local ghost stories, and were coming up with a list of stories they could check out. This devolved into looking at ghost videos on the internet and this dude telling ghost stories about some supposedly haunted paintings at his house (they mysteriously appeared in a crawl space!) and a picture he took of a 'ghost' (it had a weird light in the middle of the picture!). There was a newcomer to the group, who will probably be on a side ghost-investigation team. He was first asked about his views on ghosts (skeptical) and his religious views (raised christian, now agnostic). The key members of the show (2 people on the main 'team' and the producer) clearly believe in ghosts to some extent, and spent a long time discussing the sound equipment they could use so they could pick up 'real' ghost sounds, unlike the other ghost hunting shows, which are clearly faking it and have too much white noise or something.

The meeting took place in the office of this producer, who so far has been a record/music dvd producer but wants to move to tv. They are going to shoot a couple of episodes, his office will do production things to it, and they are going to pitch it to a local tv station as a ghost hunter show specifically investigating local stuff.

Other then that, spent maybe 7 hours on the road yesterday and another 6 hours today. Barkley wasn't bad, I ate a lot of junk food, and very happy to be home and putting stuff back in order. We brought basically all our clothes to my in-laws to do laundry (hey, I'm still a student!) so I have to hang up a stuff, but I'm leaving that till tomorrow. We unpacked most of the other stuff and put it all away. Realized we left one of our gifts at the in-laws...oh well, we'll get that in a half a year or so I guess.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Abandoning Eden...In Print! (real life print!)

Frankly I've been hesitant to post this, in part because it contains a bit more identifying information than I have shared before on this blog. The Rockland Jewish Reporter recently published an article about jewish blogs/bloggers, which they interviewed me for. They quote me several times in the article.

It's not a very well edited article, some of the info is inaccurate (for instance I was raised right-wing modern orthodox, which is close, but not the same, as "ultra orthodox") and the author yanked a photo from my blog and printed it without crediting me or asking for permission (which I believe is against copyright law and it was a photo I had only posted for a few days before taking it down).

I also want to state for the record that I had stopped being religious before I ever started blogging, so the journalists' portrayal of blogging as contributing to me being less religious (which I think is what she meant, although it's a bit unclear) is inaccurate. I have another (private) blog that I started at the very end of 2001, while I stopped keeping fully keeping shabbas and kosher in 1997ish (although I continued to partially observe holidays and shabbas and kosher for years afterward due to living with my parents). The subject of my private blog was never exclusively judaism, although I talked about it on rare occasions (excerpts from my private blog are compiled in the first few posts on this blog- I tried to repost everything I said about judaism in my private blog, although I just noticed that I seem to have forgotten 2004, the year I completely dropped observance of almost everything Jewish except a few holidays here or there).

I only started blogging about Judaism in earnest when I started this blog- which was shortly after my grandmother's death in 2007, when I was dealing with my anger over my father using 2/3rds of the eulogy to talk about how he has to honor his mother's memory by making sure his children turn out to be religious. At that point I had already been dating my (non-jewish) husband B for about 6 months, which my parents knew about (and they knew he was not jewish), and my parents had known I was not religious for at least 7 years.


Since I found out this article was In Print and has a picture of me, I've been rethinking whether it was a good idea to agree to be interviewed. The newspaper/newsletter/whatever it is, is distributed in jewish venues around rockland county, and my father frequently is in rockland county for business purposes, and frequents kosher restaurants where they carry this newsletter. It's possible he will see it, or a friend will see it and forward to him, and as a result he will find this blog.

On the other hand, it's damn cool that someone thought my blog was significant enough to write about in an article In Print, even if it's just the Rockland Jewish Reporter.

If he does find this blog I guess my message to him is: A lot of things in this blog are unflattering to my parents and to my family. I stand by everything I have said here, and while he may not agree with my depictions of events, or remember things going differently, I write them the way I remember them, I do my best not to exaggerate in any way, and I try to say my feelings as I truly feel them. On the other hand, I don't want to intentionally hurt anyone. I didn't write this blog to hurt my dad or my family, but to deal with his and the rest of my family's reaction to me going OTD/starting to date B by writing about it, in an effort to work through my feelings and reach out to other people having similar experiences. My dad and members of my family were never the intended audience.

It's also possible that as a result of this newspaper some people from my high school years will find this blog, since it's published in the county where many of them live. If so, hello! I've changed a lot since back then, as you can probably tell. But I would love to hear from you if you're reading!

If anyone is coming over here after reading that article In Print or on one of the other blogs that posted it, hello! Feel free to ask whatever questions you would like! I'm thinking of putting together an FAQ at some point soon, since I get asked the same questions over and over again, so if you want to ask some of those questions you would actually be helping me to compile them.


And now for something completely different:
The hubble telscope advent calandar. 25 pictures from the Hubble telescope, very cool.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Penny (my sister in law's beagle) and Barkley are now bffs and follow each other around the house.

Christmas may be over but I still want to buy this flying spaghetti monster ornament I just found on the interwebs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Is the chirstmas tree referenced in tanach?

According to my husband it might be. In Yirmiyahu 10:1-4, the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) has this to say:
2. So says the Lord: of the way of the nations you shall not learn, and from the signs of the heaven be not dismayed, for the nations are dismayed from them.
[AE note: This might refer to the classical period practice of trying to interpret the will of god by the position of birds in the sky, which I learned about in a class I took on "magic and science in the ancient world" back in college]

3. For the statutes of the peoples are vanity, for it is but a stock that one cut from the forest, the handiwork of a carpenter with a small axe.
Rashi:a carpenter: Heb. חרש, a craftsman.

[AE Note: note that it's statute with a third 'T', not statue the way I first read it]

4. With silver and gold he beautifies it, with nails and with sledge hammers they strengthen them so that it does not bend.
Rashi: and with sledge hammers: A hammer; it does not bend: Heb. יפיק, it does not kneel with its knees. Comp. (I Sam. 25: 31) “a stumbling block (פוקה) ” ; (Nahum 2:11) “and tottering (ופיק) of the knees.”

5. Like a palm tree they are beaten, and they do not speak; they are carried for they do not step; fear them not for they will do no harm, neither is it in them to do good.
Rashi: Like a palm tree they are beaten: He hammers them with a hammer until it has an upright stature like a palm tree.

[The christian version can be read here.]

So according to Yermiyahu, the non Jewish craftsman of his time would cut something from the woods (presumably a tree) and do some kind of handiwork with it (trim it?), adorn it with gold and silver and hammer it until it doesn't totter around and stands straight. I don't remember ever learning this part of tanach, but this sounds like they can be referring to either a Christmas tree or some kind of idol/statue that they built out of wood.

Certainly the tradition of decorating an evergreen tree around the winter solstice predates Jesus. Via wikipedia:
The ancient pagans, Druids, Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews celebrated the Winter Solstice, (Dec. 21st), the day of the year that the Sun begins its ascent in the sky, thereby ushering a fertile time of planting and bountiful harvests. Hence, the evergreen tree represented eternal life and the promise of replenishment during the cold winter months. Apples and other fruit were hung upon the tree to represent the plentiful food to come. Candles were lighted to symbolize the warmth and brightness of the sun. While the Christmas tree is generally associated with Christ, it predates this religious figure by many centuries.

Ancient Hebrews celebrated the winter solstice? what? I know it's wikipedia and totally unreliable, but....what?

Does anyone know what the Jewish interpretation of this passage is? I'm guessing it has something to do with idolatry.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Erev Christmas!

We are safely at my in-laws place in *Not very popular midwestern state* in an exurb of *only large city in state*. We drove here Monday and Tuesday (Stayed overnight at a lovely motel in Bumblefuck, Ohio on Monday night), and Barkley came with us. He was actually really good in the car, although he went a little crazy with barking in the motel and our first night here- I think he was just confused and discombobulated a bit. The motel we stayed at in Ohio had a box of 'hunter's rags' at the front door, which I did not look too closely at.

Meanwhile there are SO many presents downstairs, and normally we open them on Christmas eve but this year my sister in law has kennel duty (she's a vet tech in training) on Christmas eve and won't be getting in until Christmas afternoon, so no presents until Christmas after dinner! Ahhh!

OK, am I like a 3 year old or what? Well, this IS only my third Christmas. :) B and I had a lot of fun wrapping presents yesterday..he wraps them so much better than me, mine also look like a 3 year old wrapped them. :) Seriously though, there's like a mountain of gifts downstairs and there's only 5 of us and the youngest (my SIL) is 23...although Barkley and my sister in law's dog (Penny, a beagle) also get gifts. We still havn't decorated the tree though, guess we will be doing that today. Tonight we have B's family traditional Christmas eve dinner which is made up entirely of appetizers, and tomorrow we are having a big prime rib dinner, followed by the gift opening of course. We all sit in a big circle and go around the circle each opening a gift one at a time until we run out.

Ooh and my mother in law also said we can have her old giant fake tree once we have a bigger place that it will actually fit into (it's too big for them to handle setting up every year anymore), and said I could pick through her ornaments and take a bunch home for our table-top tree- my father in law worked for hallmark for many years so she seriously has the best ornaments ever. :)

Meanwhile the people must not have much to do around here, because nearly every single house on the block is decked out in crazy lights...there's a house a couple of blocks away that has a crazy light show that is coordinated with music you can play on your radio (they are broadcasting it from their house), we drove by to visit the other night and there were like 20 cars just parked outside their house watching the show. :) Apparently they won an award for having the best christmas lights in the *only large city in not very popular midwestern state* metro area.


I was chatting with my brother's ex girlfriend today (we run in the same circles so are still friends even though they broke up like 5 years ago), and she was saying how she remembers when she was dating my brother how so NOT into holidays and family I was back then, and she seemed surprised I was so into christmas now. But the holiday experience is so different between my family and B's family (apart from the obvious, that I celebrated different holidays at my parent's). Holidays at my parent's house were always full of yelling and people fighting (always about religion and politics) and people saying racist/super-conservative things that made me want to throw up. Last time I went home to a family thing, around a year and a half ago, my Aunt spent the entire dinner trying to convince me that Obama was a muslim and how we can't have a "shvartza" as president (*vomit*). I mean it wasn't all bad, and people of my generation were generally nice and not judgmental/racist, and there wasn't a huge dramatic fight EVERY time we got together, but it happened on a fairly frequent basis.

Also ever since I was a teenager, going to family holidays meant being criticized for my religious/personal choices, usually openly in front of everyone. My grandma used to always say "IMPROVE" instead of goodbye when she was leaving, people used to stare at my piercings/hair/whatever and openly criticize me -I have 3 earrings in each ear and had an eyebrow ring for about 6 months a few years ago that I don't think anyone in my family ever got over. I also had dreadlocks for a year, which- you guessed it- led to more racist comments.

While at B's place, everyone gets along and is nice to each other and genuinely just enjoys each other's company and likes each other and acts like normal human beings. I love thanksgiving at his cousin's place too. Maybe it's cause I am new to the family and so they are on their best behavior- but I don't think that's it.


Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oy gevalt

Nearly a year ago, my youngest brother E called me from Israel to tell me that he had talked to his Rabbi about B and I, and his rabbi told him that one of 3 things would happen within a year; either B and I would break up, B would convert to Judaism, or B would die.

Clearly none of those 3 things have happened, and I'm pretty sure they are not going to happen anytime soon (although I suspect that one day B will die...but if all goes well that won't be for decades). I'm not sure if he meant within a year of us getting married or a year after talking to that Rabbi, so I'm waiting until our first year wedding anniversary to send him a letter pointing out the stupidity of that phone call.

Meanwhile, I found out today that for the second year in a row, my brother will be spending his entire winter break (about a month) in Israel, learning with this very same Rabbi.

I wish there were a book or something I could send to him that he would read and suddenly magically realize that religion is a crock, and that these people are leading him wrong. I know I will get flack for that because blah blah blah respecting other people's beliefs blah. But really. I feel like my brother has been preyed upon by these people. I feel like he has been brainwashed by a bunch of people who do not have his best interests in mind. He has given up all his hobbies and things he used to enjoy in order to learn all the time. He used to be a huge movie buff, and would make his own short films. Before he went to Israel for a year, he was planning on going into the film industry. Last year (right after he got back) I sent him a dvd of animated short films, the type of thing he would have been all over before he went to Israel. When I talked to him around 6 months later he told me that with his schedule he hadn't had time to watch it. He also told me he was thinking of becoming a rabbi. A rabbi!

Now readers, you don't know my brother, but last I heard being a rabbi involves public speaking, which is the exact opposite of a job my brother would be well suited for. My brother is extremely shy, and a little...well, when he was a kid there was a question of whether he was on the autistic spectrum or not. Only they didn't have words like "autistic spectrum" back then, and my dad managed to find some shrinks who said he was ok so that the school wouldn't leave him back. Had he been born 10 years later, I think he would have been diagnosed as on that spectrum.

Which makes him perfect for these brainwashing asshats, who seem to prey on people like this- people who don't have the best social skills, who don't have things entirely together. Maybe for him religion is actually a good thing, since it gives him structure. But I don't know. I really worry about him going off to these places and having his head stuffed full of lies. I worry that he has given up the things he used to love, what made him unique and awesome, to have more time for religion. I worry that my parents are complacently letting this happen because since me and my other brother ended up non-religious, they think that enabling my other brother become a fundy (because who else is paying for his trips to israel and his yeshiva fees in the states?) is the only way to keep him jewish. I worry about how our relationship will be going forward, and I worry about him, because even if we have no relationship going forward, he is still my brother, and I love him, and I worry that he is being led astray.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top 10 albums of the 2000s

Given that the decade is nearly over, I've decided to share with you my top 10 albums of the decade. This list is of course heavily biased towards albums I've been into recently, and I've avoided the tiny bands that no one reading this would have access to.

1. Radiohead- Kid A (2001)

This followup to OK Computer which can easily be listed among the best albums of all time is my pick for the best album of the decade. It's hard to say exactly what genre Radiohead is a part of other then "alternative rock" which is really a catch-all, and can only be described as "Frickin Awesome". This album is best listened to as an album, as like many classic albums the tracks sort of blend into each other. My favorite songs off this album are Idioteque-> Morning Bell. I was however disappointed with the version of Motion Picture Soundtrack they chose to include on this album, as I thought it was overly produced.

2. Beck - Guero/ Guerolito (2005)

Beck is another one of my favorite artists, and Guero is one of his best albums. But what is even better than Guero is Guerolito, which includes all the songs of Guero remixed to even greater awesomeness. My particular favorites are the remix of Girl and Que Ondo Guero.

3. Radiohead- In Rainbows (2007)

You can probably tell I'm a big Radiohead fan. When they came out with Hail to the Thief I was a bit disappointed- although that album has some great songs, most of them were..not as great. But In Rainbows definitely made up for it. My favorite In Rainbows songs are 15 step, Nude and Videotape. Bonus: They did an awesome live video recording of their songs from this album (along with some weird band stuff that bands like to do) here that I highly recommend.

5. Sleater-Kinney- All hands on the bad one (2000)

Ahh, the feminist punk movement, how I miss you. This album reminds me of playing diablo 2, and was one of my favorite albums when I was a wee baby feminist in college, just discovering that some music was about how awesome women are! My favorite tracks are #1 Must Have, which brings up my righteous feminist rage, and Ballad of a Ladyman, which should be my theme song. Sample lyrics: I could be demure like/ girls who are soft for/ boys who are fearful of /getting an earful / but I gotta rock! / I'd rather be a ladyman!

6. Franz Ferdinand- Tonight (2008)

You might know the song "No you girls" off this album, which was popularized via an ipod commercial when this album first came out. The album is chock full of classicly awesome songs, my favorite being Ulysess, What She Came For and Bite Hard. There's also an album of remixes, and I really like the remix of No You Girls and Lucid Dreams.

7. Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes (2008)

This is a new indie band that has recently arrived on the indie band scene. They have kinda a Simon and Garfunkel/CSNY sound to them, with lots of harmonies and some epic lyrics. My favorite song is White Winter Hymnal and Blue Ridge Mountains. You can see an awesome live performance of them here.

8. Phish- Joy (2009)

No studio work of Phish can ever come close to the awesomeness of their live performances, but Joy is a pretty great album nonetheless. Stealing time from the faulty plan is one of my favorite songs off this album, but I gotta say- the recorded version plays it a little slower then they play it live, and I like the live version better. Time turns elastic is a great track, as is Twenty Years Later

9. Arcade Fire- Funeral (2004)

Another album that the genre is hard to pin down, this album can only be described as "epic" and "haunting." Particular favorites include Neighborhood #3: Power out, Neighborhood #4: Kettles and Rebellion(Lies)

10. Danger Mouse - The Gray Album (2004)/ The Beatles- Love (2006) / Easy Star All Stars- Radiodread (2006)

Technically none of these are original albums, which is why they are sharing the 10th place.

The Gray Album is a mashup album of Jay Z's The Black Album and the Beatles The White Album. It sounds bad on paper, but it's actually a great and oddly compelling album. I don't think you can actually buy this album legally though, it used to be only available over the internet. My favorite tracks are Encore (Which samples Savoy Truffle and Glass Onion) and Allure (Samples Dear Prudence).

The Beatles- Love is also a mashup- this was an album put together by the Cirque De Soleil people, who mashup Beatles songs with other Beatles songs (or sometimes with other versions of the same song), for their Beatles show. I never saw the show, but the soundtrack is awesome- I believe they had access to the original masters and it was produced by George Martin, who produced the original Beatles albums. If you are as huge of a beatles fan as I am, this album will mess with your mind and blow you away. My favorite tracks are Drive my Car/The word/ What are you doing,
Strawberry fields forever, and Come Together/ Dear Prudence

Easy Star All stars- Radiodread is a cover album of Radiohead's Ok Computer that records the album in Dub Reggae. The first time I heard this album was at the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in 2006 while drinking a mojito, and I remember saying "This album is like my have some limes and some mint, and you think they won't taste good together, but they actually taste great together, just in a weird way." Mind you, that was my third mojito.

So there you have it. Soon to come: Top 10 movies of the 2000s.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh christmas tree

Oh Christmas tree
Oh Christmas tree
I have a tiny Christmas tree!

(pictures soon maybe)

Last night B and I bought our christmas tree, which is the first christmas tree I've ever had! (other then the ones we decorate at the in-laws, but those are their trees, not mine). It is a table top fake tree, and has these neat LED light things that change colors. Very psychedelic. We also got some of those generic colored glass ball ornaments, an ornament that kinda looks like Barkley (actually we got that one a few weeks ago), and one that has a space for pictures (B! I hope you are getting on that right now!) and says something like "first christmas together." Even though as B pointed out like 20 times in the store, it's not technically our first christmas together, but it's our first christmas together as a married couple, so yeah.

Anyways, I LOVE having a little tree in my living room! Somehow it makes the room all homey and festive. We also hung up some lights on our sun porch and we've been turning them on at night.

Growing up I obviously didn't celebrate was always this thing that seemed happy and full of awesomeness to me, but was forbidden and was something that other people did. Later on I started celebrating it in a stereotypical jewish way- for a few years I had big parties on christmas for all my jewish friends, and a couple of years I did the chinese food and movie thing. My first *real* christmas was 2 years ago, at B's house.

I really really like it. All the lights and trees are really pretty, and I love how my neighborhood looks now with all the houses lit up. I love the gift exchange, and buying/making gifts for people is almost more fun then getting them! Getting a bunch of gifts at once is pretty awesome too- growing up my family wasn't much of a gift family, and getting a bunch of gifts at once is something I never really experienced until I started celebrating christmas (maybe at my bat mitzvah, but that's it). I would get maybe one present at my birthday, but usually would just get money to buy my own present, my parents would give gelt (money) for chanukah too. At a certain point my parents stopped giving anything at all to us, and started making charitable donations in our name around Chanukah time. They still do that in fact- I spoke to my dad a few weeks ago and he is going to donate to a battered woman's shelter in my name. Which is pretty awesome, I admit (Last year I asked him to donate to footsteps, but I don't think he actually did that). But you know what? Getting gifts is just nice dammit! And getting a bunch of cash is totally not the same!

I love getting together with family for a big meal too- B's family traditionally has a meal made up entirely of appetizers on christmas eve, followed by present opening, and then a big meal on christmas day. Having grown up in a Jewish family, and having a big meal every Friday night and Saturday afternoon, I really enjoy getting together for a big multiple-course meal. With only two of us at home, we don't really have a lot of opportunities for that, although we usually have a big breakfast together on Saturday mornings and we eat dinner together every night. But we don't even have a real table to eat at, so it's not the same. Once we have kids I'd like to start doing some kind of weekly big special family meal, along with having regular dinner together every night of course.

Is it weird that I feel no desire at all to celebrate any of the holidays I grew up with? I still like thanksgiving, which I grew up with, but all the jewish holidays...they just don't really hold any meaning for me. I guess becuase I always felt they were an obligation, or a restriction on things I couldn't do, but I don't remember feelings of excitement or joy about Jewish holidays that were similar to the way I feel about Christmas. I love Christmas!

Meanwhile I know chanukah starts sometime this week (which I found out from my calendar), but I have no desire to light my menorah, play with dreidles or eat latkes or sufganiot(jelly donuts). And I probably won't do any of those things, unless I happen to run into a chabadnik on campus giving out free latkes (because as a jew and a grad student, I can never turn down free latkes). On philosophical grounds, since Chanukah is a celebration of religion over Secularization/Hellenization, it seems someone wrong to celebrate it.

Also for those who eat latkes and also eat at mcdonalds- are the hash browns at mcdonalds breakfast totally the same as a thick latke or what?

Please no comments about how I'm a nazi/horrible jew/might as well convert to Christianity cause I'm such a goy now. You also can read about The true meaning of christmas over at B's blog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I guess I haven't been posting a lot lately, but it's been a pretty busy semester.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel! This week I have to grade about 50 final papers for the class I'm TAing for. I hand those back to my students a week from today, and after that I am FREE of this class until January! (When we will be meeting up to grade the final exams, at which point I will be free for reals). Tomorrow I teach my last 2 recitations of the semester, and while I'm a little sad that I won't be teaching again for a while (I'm taking next semester off to finish my dissertation), I'm not unhappy to be done with this class in particular. I don't want to go into detail on a public forum, but lets just's been rough. I'm really looking forward to getting my weekends back, as this whole semester I have spent at least 1 weekend day (and usually both of them) reading and grading for this course. The prof required something due every week (either a quiz or an assignment) so every weekend I've had 50 of something to grade. Bleh. But after these 50 papers, and the 50 quizes they are taking tomorrow, I have nothing to do until the final exam! :)

In part to celebrate the end of this horrific semester, B and I are taking a road trip to Virginia from Friday-Sunday to see the Charlottesville- Phish show on Saturday night, and will be staying by good friends of ours who we haven't seen since the summer. On the way we will also be taking a detour to visit the National Mall area of Washington DC, and another detour to visit the ever-awesome Quiet Girl. We will have Barkley with us, so we can't go to any museums in DC or anything, but we plan to visit the Washington and Lincoln memorials and walk around outside the White House. Hopefully when we visit Quiet Girl her American Bulldog Bella won't eat Barkley, as I hear Bella likes to eat other dogs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today's Dinosaur Comic

(Click on the comic to make it bigger)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drinks of years byegone

Two of my favorite drinks have been discontinued for several years.

Snapple Tru Root beer didn't taste like any root beer I've had since then. It was clear, and the taste was somewhat lighter than most root beers, but also somewhat spicier. It had a twist off cap that was hard for me to twist off when I was a kid, and it was kind of shaped like a bottle of vinegar. I think they stopped making this drink sometime in the late 90s.

Fresh Samantha's was bought by Odewalla, and they still make some of their drinks. But they don't make my favorite one, which was the Fresh Samantha Soy Shake. It had this taste like milk but dryer, and had some vanilla in it maybe. I was introduced to it by this vegan friend of mine in college who also introduced me to a great bagel shop that I went on to use regularly for 4 years, tofu cream cheese (sounds weird, but I actually like it more than cream cheese!) and a store right near my college that had puppies for sale in the window. We were great friends my first semester in college when we took 3 classes together and sat near each other and then walked to the subway together after class. After that he dropped out of college and I never saw him again. I don't even remember his last name to look him up on facebook, and I'm not sure he would be on there. it's weird how people come in and out of your life like that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On lying

You know that feeling you got when you were a kid (or an adult) and were caught lying? That mixture of dread and shame at disappointing someone, and fear of what your parents are going to do when they find out?

I had a problem with lying when I was a teenager. I don't know if it was really a *problem* though. Some OTDers are of the opinion that if your parents will never accept you for who you are, it's ok to lie about what you are doing. And that lying is a good thing in that case, becuase you are preserving your relationship. My brother is of that opinion, which is why at 26 he still gets to live at home, even while secretly dating someone not jewish. I was honest with my parents and was told I could not move back home after college.

But not all of us are great liars- I'm not. Or at least I wasn't at first, although I got better with age. I learned that the best lies are the ones that contain some or most of the truth. In fact, you can tell the truth and sometimes people will think it's a lie.

Once when I was around 19, my brother and I had a secret party while my parents were away on vacation. We had maybe 30-40 friends over, did the usual things college students do when they have an open house (drank a lot of beer, some people hooked up, felt like badasses for breaking the rules, spent an entire day cleaning up afterward). When my parents came home from their vacation, my mom found a few chips on the floor somewhere that we had missed and asked - did you guys have a bunch of people over while we were gone? My brother, not missing a beat, answered "Sure, we had a party with like 40 people when you were gone." And my mom..get this...thought he was being sarcastic, and said something nasty like "ha ha there's no way you guys have 40 friends."

But there was a time before that, before I figured out how to lie effectively, when I got caught lying a lot. When I was 15 I had a secret boyfriend. He was 16. I was just starting to experiment with going OTD, and had secretly been eating non-kosher food and breaking shabbas for a few months. I also was secretly hanging out with my boyfriend. I would tell my parents I was taking the bus to the hospital where I was volunteering that summer, and instead would take a bus that went in the opposite direction, right to my boyfriend's house. Where we would make out (mostly just kissing) and feel like badasses for breaking the rules. It was pretty innocent, compared to what most kids our age were probably doing. Just exciting. I was just growing out of the extremely geeky stage I went through for..oh..all of my life up until high school (ok I admit, I'm still actually a geek), and this was the first boy who had ever showed interest in me. And he was nice and charming, and cute. He was on his own path 'off the derech' and bragged to me about setting his black hat on fire.

One weekend my best friend had a great idea- I would go visit her for shabbas, and then her boyfriend and my boyfriend would stay at her neighbors house, and we would all meet up for shabbas meals and hang out!

By that point my parents already suspected I had a secret boyfriend, and they made me promise he wouldn't be there if I went to this girl's house for shabbas. They didn't think I should be dating until I was ready to get married (Dating for "tachlis"). I of course said he wouldn't be there, because otherwise they wouldn't have let me go.

So..we went there for shabbas, we all hung out, it was good times. Then Sunday morning my dad showed up to drive me home, and my friends mom asked if he could give a ride home to my boyfriend.

And there it was. That feeling, in the pit of your stomach, when you know you have fucked up really really badly and things are about to go really really wrong. And it did. Since that moment, I have never had a good relationship with my parents again. When we got home from my friends house (my dad did NOT give my boyfriend a ride), after a long and awkward 40 minute drive in which I was freaking out and my dad was completely and ominously silent, my dad grounded me indefinitely. Which ended up being about 4 months with no tv, no phone, no computer, no stereo, just me and my thoughts and school. Which led to a weak-ass suicide attempt and some self cutting, which they never found out about. But that's a whole other story.

After that day, my parents approached our relationship as if I were their enemy. After locking me up in my room for 4 months, they put spyware on my computer that took pictures of what I was doing- which I found out about when my dad confronted me for saying things over instant messenger of a sexual nature (I think it was a joke about whipped cream or something) to my boyfriend (different boyfriend) a couple of years later when I was 17. They put even more rules on what I could or couldn't do. My dad kept trying to get me to sign "contracts" (probably not legally binding since I was a minor and he made them up on his computer) saying I wouldn't do things like date my boyfriend anymore- as if, at 15, signing a piece of paper my dad forced me to sign meant anything. He loved those damn contracts. I think I broke every single one he made me sign.

All these rules led to more lying on my part. I didn't break up with that guy when my parents caught us- we kept on having a 'relationship' (in which we didn't actually see each other, but talked all the time), for months afterward. I learned even more elaborate ways to lie to my parents. When my parents forbade me from using the phone, I would stay up until they had all gone to sleep and call him from a portable phone. I would hide in a room my mom used for storage while calling him, since at the time my cousin was living in our house and sharing a room with me (and my parents asked her to keep an eye on me).

Which led to that feeling all over again, when my parents picked up the phone mid-convo once and figured that out. Which led to them taking away all portable phones in the house so I couldn't use them in other rooms. After they did that, I would walk from school to a local pay phone and somehow call him from that payphone..I don't remember the details, but in my fuzzy memory of this is something about calling the payphone at his yeshiva and he was there at a certain pre-arranged time. Eventually I dumped him though, since he went and held hands with another girl.

Anyways what was I talking about? Oh right, lying. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are caught in the lie. Maybe in reaction to that, I am very very honest at this point in my life. I'd rather piss people off for what I am doing, then be caught in a lie about what I'm doing. But it took me a long long LONG time to get over that shame feeling. I kept lying to my parents throughout most of college.

I still feel that feeling whenever I tell members in my family about what I'm doing with my life. Not that I'm ashamed about my life...but I know they are disappointed in me, and it's hard to constantly be telling people things that you know disappoint them. Even when you strongly believe that their disappointment is misplaced. But part of it is that whenever I tell a relative or friend that I'm not religious, that I'm married, and that my husband isn't jewish, I'm also telling them that I have been lying to them for years...for all those years they thought I was religious, when I wasn't. So every time I 'come out' to a relative, I have to admit that I've been lying this whole time.

It's funny though that now the whole thing is kind of used to be that I was ashamed for not being religious and covered it up by lying. Now I'm ashamed about the lies that I told that implied I was religious, when I wasn't.

Meanwhile, my grandfather recently had open heart surgery, and while I want to call him (and feel like if I don't call him now, I'll probably never talk to him again), something is holding me back. That something is that I will have to go through this whole process of telling him that I'm not religious, that I'm married, and that my husband isn't Jewish. I know my grandmother knows, so he probably knows, but I would still have to talk to him about it. Every time I have to say it, it's a painful reminder of all the years I have lied about who I am, and an admission of those lies, mixed up with all the disappointment I know my family feels whenever they hear it. And right now I can't bring myself to make that call and do it all over again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy birthday B!!!

Today is B's 26th birthday (so now he is only a year younger than me again, instead of two years younger!) (technically he is almost exactly one and a half years younger than me).

Anyways yesterday we went to trader joes to stock up on yummy birthday food- for lunch we got a bunch of sushi and some lobster ravioli that I'm going to make a goat cheese sauce for, and we have filet minion and baked potatoes for dinner, with chocolate lava cakes for dessert.

For presents, I got him a super awesome beard trimmer that has some magical vacuum thing that vacuums up beard hairs RIGHT FROM YOUR FACE (crazyness!). The entire time I've known him, he's been trimming his beard with a scissor, which makes his beard look all patchy right after he trims it. Also I got him a movie he has been talking about for's funny, cause I got this movie for his birthday almost 2 months ago, and then a month ago we were at a borders and he was like "let's go look for that movie!" So we went to look for it, but thankfully they didn't have it. (the whole time I was like "oh no he's going to ruin my present!") Then like a week ago B was like "hey if I download that movie, would you watch it with me?" and I've been pretending like I don't want to watch it so that he wouldn't download it...and we finally made it to his birthday so I can give it to him!

He doesn't know any of this though, cause he's still asleep. :) But I hear him starting to wake up, so it's present time!!!! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thoughts on the election/ republican party/ gay marriage laws

1. Jon Corzine losing New Jersey is not a "referendum on the Obama Agenda". It's a referendum on him being a shitty and corrupt governor

2. A practicing pagan dude /republican won a seat on the NY city council. What does he do first? Diss the atheists:

I don't think any of this is really relevant to the City Council race. It's like talking about what church you pray at. That you understand the divine is the most important part.

Important part...except for 20% of the country. Asshat.

3. A republican was running for a seat on the house of representatives in NY. Rethuglican leaders decided that since she was pro choice and actually a moderate, they would throw their support behind a socially conservative third party candidate. So basically, this republican, who won the republican primary, was not given public (and no doubt financial) support of her own party because she did not support socially conservative views. As a result, she dropped out of the race a few days ago, threw her support behind the democrat, and the republicans lost another seat in the house.

It's funny, one of the few viable social movements right now is this socially conservative movement- they are the ones out on the streets making noise and holding protests. Mostly involving pictures of dead babies. But still. Meanwhile, they are screwing over the republican party by undermining the traditional (since the Reagen years, if that can be called traditional) alliance between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Yes, it's not all them, and Bush and his complete lack of fiscal conservativeness is partially to blame. But now they are taking it a step further, and actually undermining democratically elected party candidates based on social views. This undermines the democratic process itself, because now candidates elected through the democratic primary system are falling prey to those who are supported by grassroots (and not representative) efforts. But in doing so they are also sowing the seeds of their party's ultimate destruction. Because ultimately, there are not enough socially conservative people out there to win elections. The republicans have become an older (on average) white man (and to a lesser extent older white women) party, and due to demographic changes in the United States, if that is the only social group they appeal to they will soon not be able to win anything. Of course that is the group with the most money, and they have the most to lose by democratic changes that might actually help non-whites and non-males get ahead. But I think if things keep going this way we will see the demise of the republican party in our lifetime.

4. So, Maine repealed their gay marriage laws. You all probably know my views on this by now (If not they they can be summed up as: Tyranny of the majority against the minority! we should not put discrimination up to a vote!). But interestingly, what no one is talking about is that Maine ALSO yesterday established by vote that the state should start approving medical marijuana dispensaries and expanded the types of illnesses for which you can be prescribed medical marijuana- and this won by 58%.

As far as I can tell from the internets, medical marijuana laws were first passed in 1998. Gay marriage laws were first passed in 2004, although there were legalized gay domestic partnerships going back as far as 1997. In the 11-12 years since these laws were first passed, 5 states have legalized gay marriage, and an additional 10 have legalized some kind of civil union or domestic partnership for gay couples. In roughly the same time period, 10 states have passed medical marijuana laws, and an additional 7 have quietly decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. I wonder which issue will pass in all 50 states first?

Not a lot of major legal change on the state level has happened since I've been alive, or at least since I have been following politics (which started some time around 9/11). I was born in 1982, right at the beginingish of the Reagen era.

Prior to my birth there was a lot of legal and social change. In the 1970s there were major changes in divorce laws that slowly spread through the states, making no-fault divorce legal. In 1970 California was the first state to legalize No-fault divorce: prior to the 1970s if you got divorced, you would have to go to court and prove that someone had did something wrong that fell into 4 categories- abandonment, abuse, adultery or a spouse had committed some kind of felony. In 1970 California passed no fault divorce laws, which made it legal to divorce no matter what- and you did not have to show one spouse was at fault in order to get divorced. By 1977, 9 states in total had passed no-fault divorce laws. By 1983 (1 year after I was born) all but two states had passed no-fault divorce laws (interesting fact- NY never did pass one of those laws).

In the 1950s and 1960s something similar happened with anti-miscegenation laws (laws that made it illegal to marry someone from a different race)..these legal reforms slowly spread throughout the 50 states until the ones that were left were struck down by the supreme court in 1967.

In my generation I think the same type of social change will happen with Gay marriage and Medical marijuana. These two issues are slowly making their way around the states. For now it seems very frustrating, and change is slow. But it's happening.

This is from the wiki on anti-miscegenation laws:

Most white Americans in the 1950s were opposed to interracial marriage and did not see laws banning interracial marriage as an affront to the principles of American democracy. A 1958 Gallup poll showed that 96 percent of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. However, attitudes towards bans on interracial marriage quickly changed in the 1960s

96% disapproval rating in 1958! That is WAY higher then the disapproval rating for gay marriage! And yet by 1967 the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virgina struck down all anti-miscegenation laws. And even though this was less than 10 years after 90 freakin 6 percent of white people disapproved of interracial marriage, by 1967 when they struck down those laws, it only affected 17 states (all in the south)- because 33 states had already struck down the laws all by themselves.

There is hope. We are on the path towards the just conclusion. How long it will take, I don't know, but if history is any indication...probably another 10 years at least. It's exciting to watch social change in motion. I hope that 20 years from now I will be teaching my students about the spread of gay marriage laws and the massive rise in incarceration rates in the 1990s and 2000s, followed by a decline in incarceration rates after the decriminalization of non-violent drug use in the 2010s. I truly believe this will happen within our life times. Now go out there and make it happen!

Monday, October 26, 2009



"I'm only a dolphin ma'am"

"A dolphin? Well ok.."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dogs are awesome!

According to CNN dogs can help kids learn to read. Who knew?

In doggie news, this Sunday is our doggie Halloween parade at a nursing home. Barkley has his shark(ley) costume and we've been having him try it on and then giving him lots of treats. He seems to be ok with it. Hopefully we'll get a few pictures to post. :)

Also in doggie news on Monday B came back from the dog park with a stray black lab he had found wandering in the middle of the street. We took him to the SPCA so he can hopefully get cleaned up and adopted out (I mean really, would they euthanize a purebred black lab that only needs a bath and some flea medicine to be adoptable? I keep telling myself no, but I'm not sure). Man I wish we could have kept him...I love giant dogs, and black labs are totally my favorite. But there's no way we could have him in our tiny apartment right now, especially with Barkley and our other 3 kitties. Speaking of which- our kitties all get along fine with Barkley now, but they were NOT happy at all when the black lab came in for a few minute before we took him to the SPCA. So it seems if ever get another dog we will get to go through the whole fun 6 month adjustment period again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When parents are too toxic to tolerate

When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

Published: October 19, 2009

You can divorce an abusive spouse. You can call it quits if your lover mistreats you. But what can you do if the source of your misery is your own parent?

Granted, no parent is perfect. And whining about parental failure, real or not, is practically an American pastime that keeps the therapeutic community dutifully employed.

But just as there are ordinary good-enough parents who mysteriously produce a difficult child, there are some decent people who have the misfortune of having a truly toxic parent.

A patient of mine, a lovely woman in her 60s whom I treated for depression, recently asked my advice about how to deal with her aging mother.

“She’s always been extremely abusive of me and my siblings,” she said, as I recall. “Once, on my birthday, she left me a message wishing that I get a disease. Can you believe it?”

Over the years, she had tried to have a relationship with her mother, but the encounters were always painful and upsetting; her mother remained harshly critical and demeaning.

Whether her mother was mentally ill, just plain mean or both was unclear, but there was no question that my patient had decided long ago that the only way to deal with her mother was to avoid her at all costs.

Now that her mother was approaching death, she was torn about yet another effort at reconciliation. “I feel I should try,” my patient told me, “but I know she’ll be awful to me.”

Should she visit and perhaps forgive her mother, or protect herself and live with a sense of guilt, however unjustified? Tough call, and clearly not mine to make.

But it did make me wonder about how therapists deal with adult patients who have toxic parents.

The topic gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature, perhaps reflecting the common and mistaken notion that adults, unlike children and the elderly, are not vulnerable to such emotional abuse.

All too often, I think, therapists have a bias to salvage relationships, even those that might be harmful to a patient. Instead, it is crucial to be open-minded and to consider whether maintaining the relationship is really healthy and desirable.

Likewise, the assumption that parents are predisposed to love their children unconditionally and protect them from harm is not universally true. I remember one patient, a man in his mid-20s, who came to me for depression and rock-bottom self-esteem.

It didn’t take long to find out why. He had recently come out as gay to his devoutly religious parents, who responded by disowning him. It gets worse: at a subsequent family dinner, his father took him aside and told him it would have been better if he, rather than his younger brother, had died in a car accident several years earlier.

Though terribly hurt and angry, this young man still hoped he could get his parents to accept his sexuality and asked me to meet with the three of them.

The session did not go well. The parents insisted that his “lifestyle” was a grave sin, incompatible with their deeply held religious beliefs. When I tried to explain that the scientific consensus was that he had no more choice about his sexual orientation than the color of his eyes, they were unmoved. They simply could not accept him as he was.

I was stunned by their implacable hostility and convinced that they were a psychological menace to my patient. As such, I had to do something I have never contemplated before in treatment.

At the next session I suggested that for his psychological well-being he might consider, at least for now, forgoing a relationship with his parents.

I felt this was a drastic measure, akin to amputating a gangrenous limb to save a patient’s life. My patient could not escape all the negative feelings and thoughts about himself that he had internalized from his parents. But at least I could protect him from even more psychological harm.

Easier said than done. He accepted my suggestion with sad resignation, though he did make a few efforts to contact them over the next year. They never responded.

Of course, relationships are rarely all good or bad; even the most abusive parents can sometimes be loving, which is why severing a bond should be a tough, and rare, decision.

Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, a trauma expert who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said she tried to empower patients to take action to protect themselves without giving direct advice.

“Sometimes we consider a paradoxical intervention and say to a patient, ‘I really admire your loyalty to your parents — even at the expense of failing to protect yourself in any way from harm,’ ” Dr. Herman told me in an interview.

The hope is that patients come to see the psychological cost of a harmful relationship and act to change it.

Eventually, my patient made a full recovery from his depression and started dating, though his parents’ absence in his life was never far from his thoughts.

No wonder. Research on early attachment, both in humans and in nonhuman primates, shows that we are hard-wired for bonding — even to those who aren’t very nice to us.

We also know that although prolonged childhood trauma can be toxic to the brain, adults retain the ability later in life to rewire their brains by new experience, including therapy and psychotropic medication.

For example, prolonged stress can kill cells in the hippocampus, a brain area critical for memory. The good news is that adults are able to grow new neurons in this area in the course of normal development. Also, antidepressants encourage the development of new cells in the hippocampus.

It is no stretch, then, to say that having a toxic parent may be harmful to a child’s brain, let alone his feelings. But that damage need not be written in stone.

Of course, we cannot undo history with therapy. But we can help mend brains and minds by removing or reducing stress.

Sometimes, as drastic as it sounds, that means letting go of a toxic parent.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman is a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College

When people find out I no longer talk to my mother they make faces like it’s a really sad thing, and some of my friends occasionally ask if I have ‘made up’ with her yet. But I have no plans to resume contact with her. I don’t think I would have been able to cut her off if she hadn’t cut me off first. But our relationship was never great, ever since I told my parents at age 17 that I was no longer religious- and every time I talked to her I felt like she was trying to shame me. By cutting me off first I feel as if she actually did me a favor.

After this experience I feel a certain kinship to gay people…having been disowned and kicked out of my family for “coming out” as an atheist and having a partner who is also an atheist. At least now I know how to NOT treat my own children.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brief update on life

It's been a while, I know. I guess in Jew news, my uncle from Israel called last week. The one who called me the day of my wedding to say I was still in the family. That wedding day phone call was actually the first time he ever called me, so this was the second. We talked a bit about my dissertation (he actually also has a PhD in sociology, except he now teaches chumash (bible studies) to elementary school students), and he tried to convince me that I should go to shul with B for Simchat Torah so B can "check it out" and see how awesome Judaism is?? I told him I'd think about it, cause I still don't have the ovaries to just flat out tell my relatives no apparently. Need to work on that.

In money news, I finally changed my cell phone plan yesterday after waiting 2 farkin years for the old one to expire. See, two years ago some dude from my cell phone company called me up and somehow convinced me that it would actually be cheaper to get 2 phone lines and a 'family plan.' Why I bought into this I will never know, especially since at the time B hadn't even moved in yet, so what the heck would I need two lines for! So then I was trapped in this stupid cell phone plan for 2 years that cost me $80 a month because this dude lied and it was NOT cheaper once you took into account taxes.

Anyways, it finally expired a week ago so yesterday I got rid of the second line and reduced my plan for the first line- so instead of paying $65 + tax a month for 600 anytime minutes + free roaming + free nights/weekends starting at 7pm, I'm now paying $35 + tax a month for 200 anytime minutes + free roaming + free nights/ weekends starting at 7pm. Oh did I mention I also looked at my minutes usage for the last year, and I have NEVER talked more than 200 minutes a month during daytime hours? It seems that actually living with the one person I want to talk to on a regular basis (and keeping in touch with other friends on the internet instead of the phone) means I never use my phone minutes. I'm very pleased with actually having a bill go DOWN in price for once. Next to tackle is the cable/internet bill which has risen from $93 a month to $170 a month over the last 3 years (with no change in service) because my cable company is a monopoly and is full of bastards.

Anyways, the point of this whole rant is to say that these companies are full of shysters. The cell phone lady kept trying to convince me it would be cheaper to get a plan that was actually more expensive (The $40 a month plan that has more minutes), when it would clearly not be because of, well, math. Then she tried to tell me it would be $7 extra a month to have my free minutes start at 7pm, when I had the website open in front of me that said $5 a month. Then I had to talk to some dude, who offered me a $50 credit to keep my second phone line. Then he finally transferred me to some other lady about canceling the second line, who started off by being all "ARE WE IN DANGER OF LOSING YOUR BUSINESS TODAY?" in an accusatory tone, and then tried to convince me that I could still use a second line, even though I (lied and) told her I live alone! Are you farking kidding me? I'm getting much better at dealing with them though- two years ago I clearly was not great given that this dude convinced me to get this horrible plan, but in the meanwhile I've had 2 years of dealing with students trying to put one over at me, and those skills totally translate into 'fighting with cell phone companies' skills! :) Totally proud of myself right now! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pick Barkley's Halloween costume!

Our dog park is located on land owned by a nursing home. Every Halloween (and Christmas) a bunch of dog park members take their dogs to visit the nursing home residents, with all the dogs dressed up in costumes. We're thinking of going this year with Barkley (and also walking him around in the costume all day Halloween, cause hey, it's fun and it makes people smile)

So, help us figure out what Barkley should wear this year!

Here is our lovely Barkley.

Shall he dress as:

Lobster Dog?


Pirate Dog, AKA Captain Bark?

The Joker?

Vote in the poll on the right side of this page! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Loving your children unconditionally

The New York Times has an interesting article today about how making your love for you children conditional can cause long lasting psychological effects, and doesn't get you what you want anyways. Some excerpts:

It turned out that children who received conditional approval were indeed somewhat more likely to act as the parent wanted. But compliance came at a steep price. First, these children tended to resent and dislike their parents. Second, they were apt to say that the way they acted was often due more to a “strong internal pressure” than to “a real sense of choice.” Moreover, their happiness after succeeding at something was usually short-lived, and they often felt guilty or ashamed.

The studies found that both positive and negative conditional parenting were harmful, but in slightly different ways. The positive kind sometimes succeeded in getting children to work harder on academic tasks, but at the cost of unhealthy feelings of “internal compulsion.” Negative conditional parenting didn’t even work in the short run; it just increased the teenagers’ negative feelings about their parents.

the data suggest that love withdrawal isn’t particularly effective at getting compliance, much less at promoting moral development. Even if we did succeed in making children obey us, though — say, by using positive reinforcement — is obedience worth the possible long-term psychological harm? Should parental love be used as a tool for controlling children?

The snarky side of me wants to email this article to my parents (especially my mom), but I'm going to refrain.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My dad just called...

For the first time since April. Yesterday he sent me an e-card that said "Dear Abandoning Eden and B, Happy New year!" and "ps when would be a good time to call."

I was happy to see he actually typed out B's name in the happy new years card thereby acknowledging his existence. And that he included B in a card to me, thereby (in my view) acknowledging that B is part of my family.

So he called today and we talked for about half an hour. I told him about my awesome honeymoon, updated him on a bunch of stuff in life, he updated me on my grandfather (still senile) and on his Shul (moved to a bigger building) and we chatted for a bit. Towards the end he was all "I haven't called you before cause I was afraid you'd be angry, but you sound normal" and I was all "well I was pretty angry at you right after I got married, but now I don't really care" and "You know I can't come visit as long as you refuse to meet B, but you can call me sometimes if you want" and he was all "Well I'll speak with you again soon."

Also he said he's not stepping into my relationship with my Mom, and that "me and her will have to work that out." So yeah, for now, back to talking to dad I guess, but I don't exactly feel like working out things with my mom, since I can't imagine how that could go down...what am I going to do, apologize for getting married? Beg her to talk to me again? Um, no.

Meanwhile, earlier this week B burnt 3 of his fingers when he was pouring hot bacon grease into a jar (for those of you who don't eat bacon- you can't pour bacon grease down the sink cause it will clog the sink, so we pour it in jars and then throw out the jar when it gets full). You can see pictures of his hideous burns over at his blog (warning: they are seriously hideous). I can confirm his reports of pacing up and down and was really bad, and now he has blisters (aka second degree burns) on 3 of his fingers. But awesomely, I just added him to my health insurance about 3 weeks ago, so we were able to go to the doctor the next morning when one of the burns turned into what the nurse later said was "the biggest blister she had ever seen." They gave him some fancy burn cream and fancy non-stick gauze that's specifically for burns, and B went back this morning for a follow up appointment to make sure it is healing right. Thank jebus for health insurance, cause a month ago he would have toughed it out with regular sticky gauze, neosporin and bandaids.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bad dates of years past

I was commenting on someone else's blog about what exactly a dating 'horror story' is... I think her horror stories (the date only went on for an hour and a half! He only sprung for coffee!) are way too tame compared to some of mine.

Which reminded me. Last year I started a series of blog posts about past crazy dudes I have dated. I spent about 3 years single before I met my husband (apart from a couple of short 'relationships' here or there that never lasted longer than 2 months), and went on a lot of crazy dates in that time. But then I got engaged to B, and had other things to write about (a ton of wedding plans, for one) so I never really finished the series. And I don't think I ever will. But I think I can manage a few dating horror stories.

Here are my top three dating horror stories of all time:

The third worst date ever: The dude who, during the course of a 1 hour coffee shop first date, told me all about how he posted naked pornographic pictures of his ex girlfriend on the internet when she had a broken pelvis (i didn't ask why her pelvis was broken). I already posted about that story on my blog so you can read the details there if you care to.

The second worst date I've ever been on was the last guy I dated in 2005. Because of this guy I decided to take a year off from dating in 2006.

So this guy, he asked me out for a drink at a bar. We go to this bar, he pays for beer for both of us, and we have our drink and are enjoying each others company. Conversation is flowing nicely, and I thought things were going well. Then he says something like "Damn, I want to get us a second drink, but I only brought enough cash for one drink." and I said something like "Oh that's no problem, I can pay for a second round." And that's when the shit hit the fan.

This dude starts off angry and eventually starts YELLING in the very public bar, about how he was taught that women shouldn't pay for drinks, he just doesn't think that's right, and then starts going off on how feminists (or rather "Feminazis") are taking over the world, etc, etc. After about 10 minutes of this diatribe I got up and left.

Needless to say, there was no second date. Did I mention that last year at Thanksgiving my husband introduced me to his family as a "Professional feminist" since basically i am...I've published in two of the top feminist journals already, and all my research is on women and work. Yeah, that was never going to work.

I might also add that my husband self-identifies as a feminist, and every time he says something along those lines I get all gushy inside and love him even more for it. :)

Which leaves my best dating horror story of all time. Valentines day 2005. (Actually come to think of it, all 3 of these horror stories happened in 2005, which probably all contributed to my year off from dating in 2006).

Unlike the first two stories, this was not a first date. This was with a guy who I had been dating about 6 weeks. Things were going pretty well with this guy, although I had some reservations about him. For one, I was beginning to suspect he was an alcoholic. He had just a few too many stories about how he "drank 2 six packs of beer last night and passed out." Every date we went on involved alcohol in some way. In general I'm not much of a drinker- in fact, nowadays I hardly drink at all, and I can't even remember the last time I had something with alcohol in it (it was probably the champagne we had on our honeymoon 2 months ago). But I drank more in those 6 weeks of dating this dude than in any other 6 week period of my life.

Which brings me to valentines day 2005. We decided to stay in and watch a movie, and we got a pizza and he brought over some nice Italian wine. Only he brought over two bottles of wine, because he 'couldn't decide which one to bring.' So, we watch the movie, eat the pizza, and split the first bottle of wine. And then the second bottle of wine. At this point I was pretty much drunk, but he kept going. I had half empty bottles of jagermeister and vodka, left over from a new years party- he proceeded to finish BOTH of these off, on his own.

Then he dropped the bottle of vodka on the kitchen floor. Miraculously it didn't break- until he picked it up and dropped it AGAIN at which point it shattered all over the floor. So, I drunkenly started picking up the pieces of glass that were now everywhere. My date helped by drunkenly stepping on a giant piece of glass, which went straight into his foot. But I guess he was too drunk to feel it, because he didn't realize he was bleeding until about 10 minutes later, when he had already tracked blood all over my apartment (which was carpeted). At which point he drunkenly freaked out about it. He went to the bathroom, got the glass out and started washing off his foot in the bathtub (destroying my bathroom rug in the process- there was so much blood on it I had to throw it out afterwords). Meanwhile I tried to wipe up the blood stains in the living room- mind you, I was totally drunk this whole time, and wiping up blood is just not a fun thing to do even when you're sober.

Over the course of the evening a whole bunch of other fun things happened too:
a) He tried to pay me to let him smoke cigarettes in my apartment, even though the door to the outdoors was literally right outside my apartment door, and I lived on the first floor. He kept offering me more and more money until I finally convinced him to go outside.
b) I went with him when he went to smoke outside. It was pouring rain, but he didn't stay under the awning by the door. Instead he started running around the parking lot in the rain
c) then he started taking all his clothes off in the rain cause "he didn't like wet clothes." Outdoors. In public. In February.
d) THEN he started peeing against the wall of my apartment building...right next to the window of someone's basement apartment.
e) Also over the course of the night he revealed to me that when he was in Italy on a student exchange program about a year before this, he went on a 3 week coke binge
f) for which he was kicked out of his student exchange program
g) during which he spent $5000 on coke, all from credit card advances
h) and apparently the credit card companies were calling him every day and he had no way of paying them back so he was just avoiding their calls
i) also that night he told me he loved me for the first (and last) time. Awww...?

After he cut his foot, he spent the night moaning on the couch repeating over and over again "I'm dying, don't leave me" "I"m dying, I love you, don't leave me." I lived in a studio apartment at the time, so I got to hear him moaning until around 3am. I asked if he wanted to go to the hospital for his foot but he declined. In the morning he slunk away before I was really awake, and after he didn't call me back for 2 days (probably from the shame of revealing all his horrible secrets while simultaneously trashing my apartment) I broke up with him over instant messenger.

So kind readers, what are your craziest ever dating stories?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In recent news

No wonder B can't find a job...the unemployment rate in our city is now hovering around 11 percent! Now I'm sure that's not hitting the white male college educated folks as much as some other groups...but then again, recent college graduates and late 20somethings are one of hardest hit groups out there in terms of employment (or the lack thereof). Seems like the older baby boomers don't want to give up their jobs now that their 401ks have tanked. Speaking of which, I have a great idea, lets make it so that your job automatically invests your retirement plan in what is now essentially monopoly money! Assuming you have a job of course.

Meanwhile, I've seen the job market in our city as I've been helping my husband look for job postings, and what everyone wants now is several years of experience. Never mind if you have a college degree, if you haven't been a secretary for the past 5 years we don't want to hire you in our secretary job. Cause there's no way someone with *just* a college degree and no secretary experience can possibly be a good secretary. Besides, we have 300 recently laid off secretaries just lining up to apply! And good luck with any job with more status than a secretary..for that you need at least 5 years experience and a graduate degree.

Which brings me to the Obama speech this morning. Yes, lets motivate the young so they all stay in school and go to college, thereby ensuring a future job for me and my academic ilk. I like that. But meanwhile, what good is a college education anymore? What good is working your ass off for years, excelling at everything, if at the end of years of higher education you end up where my husband is now and where it's looking more and more likely I'll be a year from now (after a decade of higher education)- unemployed.

So yeah, Obama is encouraging the young kids to put in an effort. But he's also reinforcing the great American myth- the myth that if you just work hard enough, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and study hard in school, one day you will be president. Or at least employed.

I lost my faith in that myth long ago.

In general, I am losing the hope I had when Obama was elected, although not enough to take my Obama sign out of my apartment window. He has a chance to get it back though. If tomorrow he stands in front of congress, grows a pair, and declares that a public option for health insurance is necessary, it may restore a little of the hope I had for his presidency. If he even pushes through all the other reforms without a public option, I will be less happy, but I won't lose all hope.

If he doesn't, well, the sign is definitely coming down.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Taking Barkley for a walk at 10pm and not a human to be found a block in any direction. We pass two cats on their own adventures. Next week the moving trucks will roll in, and on Tuesday's walk I'll have my pick of no worse for the wear furniture. For now they wait at their summer hideaways, and the the ones who stay (who are older and more cautious) stay inside for fear perhaps of the fresh graffiti in front of my house that says:


But with Barkley watching my back I fear no vandal squa squad, so when I should have turned right I turned left. A block further and a group of grad students gathered outside a cafe that had just shut it's doors, taking advantage of the last weeks of warm nights. I turned back at that point, exhausted from a day of meetings and lesson plans and scanning and course websites and trying to squeeze in some last minute dissertating before the real work begins.

On the way home I found a fallen leaf, perfectly yellow. The first of the season.

It's coming.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh crap guys + brother stuff

I thought I was all clever a few months back when I created a new gmail account (Abanadoningeden @ gmail) and set it up to forward to my regular account. But I didn't realize until today that I actually DIDN'T set it up to send it to my regular account, which is why I haven't gotten any of your emails. And there were quite a few. Sorry bout that. I'm trying to respond to some now, although I'm going to skip ones that were sent pre-wedding that were all "good luck on your upcoming wedding!" And the one that was all "I'm a closet OTDer cheating on my wife with a non Jewish lady what should I do??" Yeah, not touching that one...

Speaking of which, it's our 3 month wedding anniversary today! Yay for quarter year anniversaries! (or something? whatever, it counts!).

Also, over the weekend I got in contact with my youngest brother E (the one who said B was going to die within a year...and it's already been like 8 months since he said that!) to say hi and what's up and update him on my honeymoon trip. He responded by catching me up on his life and then went on about something in the book of Ezekiel and how it talked about a city (Tyre) falling into the sea. Which it didn't actually do (the city is still around even), but which I apparently reminded him of when I told him about visiting Santorini and how people think it may be Atlantis- which apparently reminded him of this story in Ezekiel which he thinks might have been influenced by the myth of Atlantis.

It annoys the crap out of me when religious people try to bring the bible/Torah into EVERY conversation, but I didn't say that. Instead I sent him a link about Tyre the city, and maybe it'll encourage him to start looking up historical data to confirm biblical tall tales, and maybe he'll start thinking about which parts of the tanach might be myth. But meanwhile I'm not going to argue with him about Judaism anymore, which was the subject of a lot of our past emails.

In one respect orthodox people may have it right. I've read some advice they give to people with relatives 'off the derech' and one of the things I've read is how it's better to keep someone close to you and not discuss religion, instead of pushing them away with arguments about religion.

This is now my strategy with my super religious brother. I think it'll be better to keep in touch with him, and be nice to him, and not discuss religion, so if he ever comes to his senses I'll be someone he can come to for help. After all, he's only 21...plenty of time for him to change. And even if he never does, what good would it do to alienate my brother just because of his extreme and crazy religious beliefs (that I used to buy into)? Although I'm still going to call him out on the religious passive aggressiveness (like sending me "good shabbas" text messages every Friday...thankfully he hasn't done that in a while, since I sent him one back that said "I don't celebrate shabbas but happy weekend!").

But yeah, i feel better about that whole situation now that we are in touch an older sister I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure we have a relationship, and even though the reason we hadn't talked in a while was cause he was being a total dick to me about B, I think it's just better this way. I mean, maybe he was being a total dick to me about B in part becuase I was being a total dick about him being more religious? Maybe it's just a mutual general hostile dickishness that needs to change between us.

My new motto is "you can't change other people, you can only change yourself" and part of that is changing the way I react to my family. Like for one, not trying to convince my brother that he's a fool for becoming more religious and giving up on his dreams/hobbies to learn all day in a yeshiva...even if i think it's true.

My parents on the other hand, well I haven't talked to them since before the wedding, and I kinda like it that way. I may get in touch with my dad at some point, but I gotta say...not having my mom in my life has done wonders for my self esteem.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I dream of gardens

I dream of gardens. Yellow crimson watermelon, zucchini, asparagus bushes, red onions, red bell peppers, heirloom carrots, edamame, artichokes, sugar snap peas....these are all things I'm planting in my future garden.

Today I added on that yellow crimson watermelon to my future garden after trying one from the farmer's market. I love the farmer's market, there's always some unusual fruit or vegetable in season, that turns out delicious. A few weeks ago they had the most perfect cherries I've ever tasted; today along with farm fresh bacon and ground beef, we got some purple bell peppers, a zucchini, an assortment of potatoes (purple, red and white), an assortment of baby onions (shallots, baby white, baby red) and a yellow crimson watermelon.

I live in an apartment. Well technically actually I live on the first floor of a victorian row house that's been converted to apartments. I even have a front yard that I am free to use. My entrepreneurial neighbor (who has been unable to find a job since moving here so her husband can go to grad school) has cleared her half of the front yard and planted a vegetable garden. I'm jealous. But not jealous enough to put that amount of effort into a yard at a place I rent, a place I will move out of exactly one year from today when my lease is up.

Instead I watch her plants grow while I grow herbs in pots I put out front. This year I have italian basil and this mini basil plant, sage, a rosemary bush and italian parsley. This morning I chopped up some rosemary I had been drying for a few weeks and picked some sage to dry for burning at a festival next week. It smells nice and sagey when you do that.

Meanwhile I dream of the day I own my own home, where I can claim and fence off part of the backyard so rabbits and Barkley can't get in, and I will grow my vegetable garden. The first year I'll be sure to plant the asparagus bushes since those take 3 years until you can harvest them. Maybe I'll start off with things that don't need trellises to grow, since for all my dreaming of gardens I have little experience growing things that arn't herbs, so I'd like to start smaller. Maybe I'll start with zucchini and onions. Also I want to have some herbs that don't grow well in pots, like cilantro. Of course rosemary and basil since those are essential ingredients in my kitchen. Maybe oregano.

Also, I want sunflowers. And a willow tree. With a little bench under it. One that I plant when it's little and that grows up with my future dream kids.


Friday, August 14, 2009

putting it out there

When I first started going 'off the derech' as they call it, or 'stopped practicing Judaism' as I call it, I was terrified that other people would find out. It was a secret part of me that I could not share with anyone. Eventually I shared it with a very select group of people, but for years at the beginning, after I had started eating at non kosher restaurants (vegetarian at first, then fish, then meat years and years later), and after I had stopped keeping shabbas, it was something only I knew about. From age 15 to age 17 I was completely in the closet about it. In college i would leave my parents house in a skirt and change into jeans at the train station- the one pair of jeans I owned, that I would wash secretly when I knew my mom was going to be running errands all day. By the time I got home I was in a skirt again.

As I got older and became more integrated into the non-jewish world, my situation reversed- now the weird thing to share with only close friends was that I had grown up orthodox jewish. It took a long time to get to here though.

Coming out to my parents as an atheist was still one of the hardest things I've gone through to date. Equally hard was telling them that I was dating someone not jewish, that we lived together, that we had gotten engaged. I guess I never told them I was married, since they had stopped talking to me by then. I anticipate more hard times in the future, when I get pregnant and will probably feel obligated to tell them, if I have a boy and won't have a bris, etc.

If it wasn't for social networking groups like facebook I probably could have gone off to live my life, and never talked to anyone I grew up with again. But facebook does exist, as does a facebook group for my old shul that no less than 5 people have invited me to join, and the people I grew up with and went to school with are all on there, sending me their friend requests. And why deny their requests? We do know each other. We grew up together. So what if we have different religious views in adulthood? My religious views are just as valid as theirs fact, I personally believe mine are more valid and that their beliefs don't hold up to any scrutiny, although I would never say that to them since they didn't ask me, so it's just rude. But I also don't think I should be forced to stay in the closet with my beliefs, and that as a member of a group that is looked down upon (off the derech people) I have a moral obligation to come out to as many people as possible so that we can not be marginalized and forgotten about the way the still-religious people would like us to be.

It's one thing to say that though, and another thing to tell people who you know will disprove and look down on you that you are an atheist, and that you have married someone not jewish. Even if you know they are wrong, and that anyone who is a judgmental asshole is..well, a judgmental asshole, it's tough to face the constant rejection, and to constantly put something out there that you know will make people think less of you.

But I feel as if I'm getting better at it, and telling people about myself no longer carries the anxiety it used to. Today I got an email from S, someone I grew up with, who is now a rabbi (what? You can be a rabbi at my age?) and who presumably got my email address from my facebook page (since we are facebook friends) and added me to his "jewish newsletter" listserve. You know, those little newsletters some rabbis send out with a weekly dvar torah (mini sermon about the weekly torah reading) and some heartwarming story or something. I didn't read it thoroughly, I admit.

But I did write back- "Hey S. Nice to hear from you. However, I am an atheist and I no longer practice judaism, so I don't have any interest in receiving dvar torahs. Please remove my email from your list."

Turns out it does get easier with time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

photo alert

B Posted some photos of our trip to Rome over at his blog, go look over there cause I'm waay too lazy to sort through/post my

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jury Duty

I have it.

What the crap is with this "meet at the courthouse at 8:15" crap anyways?


Monday, July 27, 2009


A commenter calling themselves SatmarWhore had this to say about my husband getting in a car accident: "Too bad the fuck didn't die!"

I hope for the sake of satmar people that this self identified satmer whore is not indeed part of their religion, although sadly it would not surprise me if she was.

You know, my best friend in high school was Satmer (a Hassidic sect for those of you not down on the lingo). In my MO high school, we got along well becuase we were both outcasts in the school - her for being too religious (although she had been kicked out of more religious schools for her outspokenness), me for not being religious enough. It was an odd pairing, and we disagreed on many things, but she was the only person from my school that I kept in touch with after high school, and I know she would never wish death on another human being, no matter what their religious preferences.

At times, it helps me to remind myself that there are people like her, and that not all religious people are represented by the cuntloafs who hang out on the internets wishing death on random people's husbands. Because there are way too many religious people out there, and if they all were like this particular one, we would all be sunk.

As for you, satmar whore, I have this old yiddish curse my grandfather taught me:
May you grow like an onion, with your head in the ground and your feet in the air!