Sunday, January 18, 2009

grade school lessons

When I was in grade school we had a monthly assembly where two awards were given to students from each class. One was for middos and one was for davening. Month after month I aimed for an award, waiting to hear my name announced to the school. Although I was always a fairly well behaved kid, towards the time of the assembly I especially made an effort to appear to concentrate better on my prayers or to behave extra fine. But slowly the months passed as did the years and I never once received the award. It was a simple photocopy pasted on a sheet of colored paper, but I coveted it as if it were of great value.
Fast forward many many years. Somehow I am still bothered by this story. I blame the teachers for not seeing that all kids need to receive that extra attention. I blame the school for thinking they hold the power to decide who has proper middos, who has proper kavana. Yet recently I started to think of this story a little differently. Maybe it was merely preparing me for life. Here I am, older and single. Waiting to be “good enough”. I do chessed, I daven extra, I go to shiurim. And part of me is still waiting for someone to say- you deserve an award. This time I am hoping someone will notice my goodness and have a shidduch for me, a little more valuable than that sheet of paper. But the lesson I have learned is the same as the one in my grade school story. It is not up to others to decide what I deserve, who is doing enough, who is davening correctly. I do what I do because Hashem wants me to. And Hhe is the only One who can properly reward me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

shabbos as a single

Most people dread Mondays. They are psyching up all week towards the weekend and on Monday their mini vacation must come to an end. For me, and many like me, Thursday is my Monday. It is looked at with dread. For me Thursday has come to mean the last chance to make shabbos plans. As the week moves on the dread gets stronger and stronger. What will I do this shabbos? Where will I be? Where will I be the most comfortable? Or should I just go with the least uncomfortable? Some weeks come easy, invitations come well in advance and they are the ones which seem worth accepting. During other weeks it seems like there will be no plans at all. And sometimes it seems that staying home alone may be the better alternative to accepting invitations.
There are always outsiders offering their opinion (like with everything in life). Their take is usually against staying home citing reasons such as it being depressing. But are they offering another option? The longer I am single and the more weekends that come without plans, the less energy I have to make things right. I’ve been advised against “getting used to it” but at times I see no other choice. I’d rather sit home in my non-shabbos environment than face the degradation involved in calling to self-invite. Of course, these well meaning friends who I self invite to are the ones who “open their homes” and let us all know that we are always welcome and to just let them know when we want to come. At times this works well, but that depends on the friendship, the family situation and if the host has first invited in the traditional way. As a rule I do not call to invite myself over if I have never been there before. But if someone constantly extends invitations then I know they really mean it. I also see a trend that those who only offer open invitations usually have an excuse when i finally call. Is the open invitation just a way for them to assuage their own guilt? does it make them feel giving without having to actually give?
Then there is the question of why they are inviting me. Do they see my need and therefore invite me (which makes me feel pretty pathetic yet I am grateful that at least they do that). Or do they invite me for what I have to offer. Am I wanted for my charming personality or for their guilty conscience? That is the question.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

hubby sharing

Is anyone happy with where they are in life? Singles can’t wait to trade in their “independence” for a joint life. Yet the married women I speak to yearn for some time for themselves, time away. The childless women ache for a baby while my friends who are mothers are overwhelmed by their lot. It seems like we can’t wait to get to the next level in life but when we do we look back at the last one with envy. I appreciate that I do have a certain sense of freedom which my friends may not have but at the same time they have a sense of security that I lack.
I was thinking this over while driving and suddenly the perfect solution came to me. As with many new ideas it is actually regressing. Let’s go back to multiple wives. It satisfies every aspect of these issues. The singles have more opportunities for marriage. By adding the married men to the eligible pool more singles can find their mates. And if the wives viewed these “other wives” as team players rather than competition then their own lives can be simplified by it. Want the benefits of marriage without the constant stresses? Who wouldn’t? Now when one wife needs “time off” the other one can stand in. Take a week off from cooking and cleaning and know that your family is still being taken care of. And even child rearing can be viewed as a shared venture.
Finally! Motherhood is an institution that can offer benefits such as vacation time or leave of absence. And the best part is they will have to hold your position indefinitely.
Be a team player, send your husband on a date!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


While recently attending a kiruv organizations shabbaton I had a hard time digesting the fashion show taking place. Seemingly frum women were prancing around in stilettos and outfits too fancy for a wedding. Who are they trying to impress? And how does this obvious focus on materialism and physicality mesh with a life as a torah jew? Can they really coexist? When married women have to try so hard- constantly changing outfits and always “being on”, I cant imagine who its being done for. If its for the sake of their spouse then one look should be enough to please him. He knows what is in her closet, he doesn’t need to see it all on her over the course of one weekend. And I cant imagine its for the other women there- they are too focused on their own appearance to really care what anyone else is wearing. Maybe its for the husbands friends- let them see what a trophy he married. And if its really being done for themselves, I pity them for needing to always appear perfect to bolster their self esteem. While I believe a bas yisreol should always present herself as such I think there are limits. A nice appearance says I care. An overdone appearance says I care too much. In a world of economic turmoil flaunting your purchases seems wrong.

Monday, January 5, 2009

lost a friend

I lost my best friend to technology. We spoke daily for the past ten years or so. Then came facebook. Suddenly she was able to go online and have “friends” that she can keep up with by just posting a sentence here and there. People she hadn’t seen or heard about in years were suddenly being talked about in conversation though in truth still not one word had been uttered between them. Friends of mine were now friends of hers. As I am not on facebook I still received phone calls, yet not as often as before. Then came the killer. My friend got a new phone. A blackberry, with a full keyboard. Now she could be in touch with anyone, even me, without ever speaking a word. And so, I now receive a text which is supposed to sum up an entire day or a “wazzup” meant to convey “im thinking of you”. Yet I remain of the old school of thought. If you are thinking of me, talk to me. make an effort. Show me that you care. The written word is worth a lot but cant take the place of a real live conversation.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I went out for lunch recently with 3 friends. After a very satisfying meal we picked up pastries from the bakery and headed to my house to eat them while playing a game. It was during the game that I looked around me at all these thin girls with the realization that they all just ate the same amount as I did. Yet they all had the bodies considered ideal while I, lets just say, don’t. They are able to eat without a thought, they don’t exercise and while I try to make wise food choices and exercise religiously, I will never be as thin as they are. Which made me think… why am I expected to work to look like their body type? They are built one way, I another. Why is theirs considered superior? Why are men allowed to expect me to look this way? Why do I feel guilty when I eat what they eat freely? I try to stay within a healthy range, and exercise to keep my heart pumping but more than that is just getting caught up with what society has dictated to be right. If my body is unable to process foods in the same manner as theirs why am I looked on as if I did something wrong? I hate that we have all become so weight conscious and that at times I still allow myself to get swept up in the madness. But my daily struggle at this point is not to cut down on high calorie foods but rather to stop caring about its effects.