Monthly Archives: November 2008

I’m Doubting It All

I thought I believed in Women’s Lib, but I think I may have changed my mind.

 This Shabbos has given me a week’s worth of posts, but I’ll start with this.

 My friend’s parents went to the Agudah Convention this weekend, and left her home alone. This of course means one thing: PARTY IN DA HOUSE!!!!

 Actually not.

 We are good Bais Yaakov girls, so we settled on a “Girl’s Shabbaton” (Tons to write about that concept, but later)

 So being the good girls we are, we needed a D’var Torah, or a Jewish Word as my mother calls it.

 I tried to get away with a “Shalom” (That’s a Jewish word, right?)

 But my Yavne Chossid of a friend would not have that. She took out a Chumish, found some obscure commentary, read through it, and then told a beautifully complex D’var Torah which segued into a great discussion on Ahava, Yeara, Bashert, Free Will, Vicissitudes of life etc.

It was really nice and fun and engaging

But I was very disconcerted with my friend’s ease and familiarity with the Chumish. She navigated it like she read it every day (and she doesn’t). In my head that level of skill is reserved for boys. Is it necessary, and useful and natural for a girl to have these skills?

Then again I’m totally jealous of her. I want to be able to do that (I have a the worst kriah and Hebrew in the world, I can understand most concepts presented to me, I just can’t read them in their original context)

 What do you think of girl’s learning skills?


Posted by on November 30, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Reigning the Road

I never understood Road Rage.

Then I got behind the wheel.

Yesterday, my car was streaking along the streets of Boro Park. I had no gas in it, and no money on me to fill up. So I was trying to get home ASAP and let the next family member to drive the car collapse in it (very nice and considerate of me, I know, go tell the shadchan).

I was going to make the light. Note the word was, which indicates that I was supposed, but I didn’t, because had I made the light, number one, I would have written, I made the light, or actually I wouldn’t have written anything because nothing would have happened. But apparently something happened that caused me to miss the light and therefore I chose to write was… Sorry for the suspense, I’ll let you in now.

The red hand had started flashing, indicating that the light was to change soon (don’t get me into the hand and the person signals, what was wrong with walk and don’t walk, if you can’t read, you can distinguish between red and white, and pick up social cues and figure out which one is which…decomposition of our society, no expectations of education, dumbing down society instead of trying to lift it up…blah blah blah) I was 4/5 through the block, and had more than enough time to make it through the light.

As I approached the corner, the second car off the street decides that now is a good time to not look and check on coming traffic and begins to slowly obstruct my path…which caused me to break, honk my horn, and get very irritated. THIS WAS MY LIGHT!

At that moment, my phone rang, it was my friend who I proceed to yell at. If I recall correctly, I called the driver, a cocky, duty, pishy, head. My friend laughed hysterically and proceeded to tell me how cute and funny I was when I’m annoyed.

The red hand was still blinking, and my car was still beeping and this ——– couldn’t decide if he wanted to turn or go straight. He paused, the light turned yellow, then red, and he was in the middle of the intersection and I was stuck behind the light. YAY.

Truthfully, it was 30 seconds that I waited for the light to change, and it didn’t really make all that much a difference. It’s a good thing I made all the other lights after, or else…but that’s not the point. The point is that it was my turn, MY RIGHT. He was rude inconsiderate, selfish, piggish, slow, indecisive and and and…Yeah!


Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Ipod Patience

I’m in the kitchen; my Ipod is hooked to the stereo, set to random. I don’t like three quarters of the music on my Ipod. I don’t know what three quarter of the music on my Ipod is.
When I flip though it manually I can never decide what to listen to, and when I do, I’m never satisfied.

When it’s on random though, I find myself liking more songs, and if I don’t, I can tolerate them until they’re over. I have that patience all of a sudden.

I’m not sure why that is though.
Is it because I’m realizing I don’t not like a song as much as I thought I did, so I can stick though it.

Or maybe I don’t mind because I didn’t choose.

When something is not my choice, I can handle it being lousy, silly, boring, or plain old not enjoyable. It doesn’t reflect on me. Nobody can say I have bad taste; no one can blame me if a song skips, or a singer doesn’t sing, well, all that well.

When I can defer it to someone else’s decision, then everything is easier to deal with.

Not just music, but life too.


Posted by on November 24, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Stress Compressed

I’m under a lot of stress.

If I make it to Friday, I hereby declare myself SuperWoman.

  • I have 11th grade memoirs to mark.
  • A Thematic Unit to create for a college course
  • A ten-minute presentation on my independent study project to put together for Tuesday
  • A section of my thesis is due for review on Tuesday
  • Marks for first term are due on Tuesday
  • 10th grade is handing in their short stories on Tuesday (which means I’ll be on a marking marathon to get the marks in by Thursday)
  • I’m giving a quiz tomorrow which I have yet to make up
  • I’m starting a new work of literature with my class, I need to review it and refresh my memory
  • I’m starting a new unit of study in writing, and need to construct the actual lesson…and lessons for the week.
  • I have a wedding
  • I have to tutor
  • My great-aunt is in the hospital
  • I have two lesson logs to create for tomorrow
  • I have to figure out my student loan situation by the end of the week.
  • I have make up two practicum sessions (not my fault, kid didn’t show too many times)

And then I was talking to my married; she was pairing socks.

I think I’ll keep my life…for the time being.


Posted by on November 24, 2008 in Teaching, Uncategorized


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Anticipation Dissipation

I was reflecting on my first ever date…and decided to write a short memior on the experience…enjoy.


I was hoping for it to be a memoir, I really wanted it to, something I could relate to my children fondly, nostalgically in years to come, but it didn’t turn out like that.

The last few minutes are the worst. I was in the back of the house just waiting, pacing. My chest ached, my stomach traveled upward and clenched and unclenched itself in varying intervals. My body would randomly freeze and then slowly unfreeze itself. I was fine, really I was.

I looked down at my shoes. I was wearing my brown Aldo cockroach killers. They made my ankles look awesome; pretty impressive with such a low heel, only two inches, nothing compared to my usual 3 ¾ inch stacked pumps.

Suddenly, I didn’t know how to walk in heels.

Why didn’t I walk out of the shoe?

How did it stay on?

How do I walk in a straight line?

What about balance?

Funny, my walk in heels is legendary, I’ve taught so many friends how to keep themselves poised, balanced, and elegant in heels, yet, I was now a pubescent 13 year old taking her first teetering steps. I could almost hear the awful grating of the heel against pavement.

What was wrong with me?

How would I not fall?

What should I do about the threshold, how high do I have to raise my foot?

Three more minutes to D-day, literally. D, meaning date, my first, EVER.

It’s the oddest thing really, because it’s just not my type. I’m the cocky confident, never-get-phased girl. I’m the girl who actually walks out of the classroom when the class agrees that if the teacher kicks one of out, we’d all leave. I’m the girl who runs up the down escalator, and stops soldiers to thank them for their service to our country. I don’t get affected by these things.

I am not a cliché-I refuse to be.

And there I was, quivering in my size 8 heels.

These things come out of nowhere. One day you’re a little girl imagining, dreaming of your first date, what you’ll wear, what you’ll say, how you’ll act, what to say, what not to say. Then there is a phone call. It can be a cousin, an aunt, a family friend, a friends mother, a professional shadchan, anyone really. In my case, it was my grandmother’s first cousin, I’m not even sure of the technical term for our relationship, something something removed. Probably. In any case, I went from girl to women in seconds; it was scary. No more fantasies, it was now an anticipated reality.

They said yes already, and for the next few days, it was just a flurry of phone calls. I heard the name, but tried not to focus on the fact that it actually represented a person. Everything sounded good, and I started to listen to what they were saying.

“He’s a budding Talmud Chacham”

“He’s brilliant”

“Very opinionated and worldly”

“Not your typical, excellent middos”

Everything I was looking for.


I tried his name on for size. It didn’t sound so bad, maybe even had a certain je ne sais quas.

The more information, the more I tried on.

“He’s very articulate.”

“If his family wants you, grab it”

“Finest people”

By the time my parents had given a yes, a date had been arranged and I was dressed waiting for him to arrive for our first date, we were married with five children.

The doorbell rang.

I froze.

My father calmly went to answer it; I’m his third girl and he knows the routine cold. I heard padded footsteps on the carpeted stairs.

My chest was closing in.

Breathe, I told myself.

I counted down five minutes to myself, that was enough time for my parents to interrogate him, right? I inhaled deeply and stretched my arms out in front of me. They creaked. I practiced my smile in bathroom mirror. It reflected a pale fake. It was amazing how not me I was. I took a few hesitant steps toward the dining room. In my head I was saying,

“Oh my G-d, Leah, you loser, it’s a date for G-d sake.” So much for a pep talk. My pace picked up as I put on my “confidence walk” as my friend calls it. It’s really more of a strut, and I made my entrance.

The moment I entered, and saw him sitting there awkwardly at my dining room table, our five kids were gone, and instead my vain self went Oh G-d no!

So much for the nerves, the anxiety, and anticipation.


Posted by on November 21, 2008 in Shidduchim


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Normal is…

I was speaking to my friend, and I can’t remember the course of the conversation, but I ended up mentioning something I had heard on John Schaefer’s “New Sounds” podcast. It was at this point that my friend told me that I needed new pastimes, normal ones. No podcasts, no blogging, mo more drawing on my walls, or researching random topics, like the origin of tea bags. She then laid out a week’s pastime schedule that a normal person has, challenging me to follow it, for just the one week. I politely declined (well not so politely, I laughed hysterically and snorted profusely).


I figured though that the rest of you would be curious as to what is expected of the “normal” ones out there, so I’m posting her weekly schedule as dictated.


Sunday- Wake up late and go to the city. You have to go to the conventional stores, H&M, Gap, Banana, Zara’s, Ann Taylor Loft, Macy’s Daffy’s and if you can afford it, Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s. No boutiques in the MeatPacking district or thrift shops in the village.


Monday – Call two friends, One married, one single, and talk to each of them for two hours


Tuesday – College night: So during class, text every third person in your contacts. This must be done very “subtly” with you sitting in the first seat right in front of the professor, your cell-phone hidden covertly on top of your desk. You must then glance furtively around the class, ascertain that no one is paying you any attention, surreptitiously slide your phone into your sleeve and urgently exit for the bathroom. Stay there for the next 15 minutes. (My friend couldn’t tell me how to occupy the 15 minutes, just that that was the required timeframe to be considered normal)


Wednesday – Go useless shopping with a friend for stuff like, shells, nail polish remover, and toothbrushes.


Thursday – In a public place, like the library, computer lab, or the kitchen of your house, log onto ABC, NBC, CBS, or any other network that let’s you watch previous show episodes, and watch a show. The catch being, you have to shut down the site anytime anyone gets within viewing range and open up something kosher, like OnlySimchas. My friend says this can take up to two hours.


Friday – Get your nails done. Wait the full 15 minutes for them to dry.


Motziah Shabbos – Get together with friends. Either go out to eat by Café K, Sunflower, or like establishments. Or sit in your car, outside her house for two hours talking and then go home.


Wow, I’m so envious of normal people!


What are your pastimes?


Do you qualify as normal?


Posted by on November 19, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Melave Malka Mincings

My school had a Melave Malka last night, fascinating sociological observations.


First off, there are a few rules concerning how one is allowed to procure food


1)     Never go alone. You must go with at least one other person, even if she just stands next to you without making any motions to take food herself. (If you go by yourself you must be a fat loser…or you will be soon)

2)     Figure out the proportions of your plate – the salad must be taking up more place than the pasta. You can spread the salad thin, and compact the pasta, so really you have more pasta than salad – it’s alright, as long as it looks like you have more salad.

3)     You cannot go back more than 2x’s. Period.

4)     If you go back more than once, you must take a new plate. Carrying a used plate makes you look gluttonous.

5)     Do not be over eager for food. This means waiting your turn, letting people ahead of you, even if they finish off what you really wanted.

6)     You must whine about how much you ate, and how fat you are before each food you serve for yourself


Second, I was able to identify the different types of personalities and their expression in the dance form.


1)     The uninhibited crazy dancer – she doesn’t necessarily have the best moves or grace, but she makes up for it in exuberance and shrieks.

2)     The overconfident cocky girls who know all the organized dance sequences and execute them methodically with perfection.

3)     The in-between girl. She’s relatively uninhibited, but she has little rhythm, and just following the steps a second after everyone else started it. She’s constantly looking at others and herself to make sure she’s keeping pace.

4)     The girls who dance and try, but they hold back, unsure and end up looking stupid because they don’t commit. They think they’re preserving their dignity and poise, but they really end up looking as self-conscience as they are.

5)     The girls who stand on the side- too cool, say it’s stupid, say they can’t really express/dance the way they want to because the principals are watching, but they really wish they could just let go of their inhibitions.

6)     The girls who clean up.

7)     The girls who stay home.


And then there was me, getting a premature experience.


I now know what it’ll be like in about 30 years, standing around at my niece’s, nephew’s, friend’s daughter/son’s wedding watching from the sidelines commenting.




Posted by on November 16, 2008 in Food, Teaching


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I Am Who You Think I Think I Am

I’m trying to identify the signs of “cool” “nerd” “wannabe” “different” and “rebel”, but I can’t. I just know it.


You walk into a classroom; they are all wearing the same uniform, many of them the same hairstyle and accessories, but I can pick them out and identify them correctly based on really nothing: a posture, an eagerness in the neck, an eye roll, a furtive glance, an idiosyncrasy like pen tapping, taking off shoes, sitting on feet, biting lip, making hair…so much more than what they say and what they wear. I can’t tell you which is which, because a blinking eye on one person is innocence and chutzpah on the other.

But I’m right, usually always.


Every girl can be whatever type they want to be –no one is “locked in” based on looks alone, but I know they feel that way. Either way, I’ve seen ugly popular girls and beautiful nerds


I am who you think I think I am.


(I don’t need to hear that I shouldn’t be judging students; I’m not. I’m just making a sociological observation)


Posted by on November 14, 2008 in Teaching


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You’re Never Too Old

I met my eighth grade teacher yesterday. She had an appointment in the school that I teach in. I was sitting in the office marking papers, and I heard her voice.


All of a sudden I was back in her classroom. I could smell her musty clothes; see her sincere smile, wide with enamel stripped teeth. I didn’t like her classes, but I liked her. She was one of the good ones, those who cared, and even when they had no idea what to do with you, but still stuck around, when you slapped them in the face after all their efforts, were still there.


I haven’t seen her since 10th grade, when I met her while walking past my elementary school. We exchanged pleasantries, but not much more. Meeting her now was interesting; I’m a different person. I’ve made something of myself, I’ve come a long way since that purposefully annoying, inquisitive child that I was.


So she was standing right outside the office, and I heard her tell the secretary.


“I’m Mrs. Schwartz….”


My back was facing her, I turned around and said,


“Hi, I’m TooYoungToTeach, I don’t know…”


She cut me off,


“I knew you looked so familiar!” she paused with a small smile. “Don’t tell me you’re teaching here?!”


I smiled broadly and said, “Yup.”




“Yeah,” I continued, “that’s the reaction most people have. Something’s gotta be wrong with the system if I’m teaching.


She shook her head,


“No I can see it, I can see it,” she repeated. “What do you teach?


“English and Writing, 10th and 11th


“That I can really see, right up your alley!”


I nodded fervently, like a little kid, lapping it up.


And then she went into meeting, and I went back to my marking.


We never grow old of approval.


Posted by on November 11, 2008 in Teaching


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Discounting Pride

It’s a paradox that I’ve yet to come to terms with. The people who I am secretly jealous of, but at the same time utterly mortified by.


Let me explain.


I went out to eat with my friends. I ordered a salad (very original) and she fish with creamed spinach.


I got my salad; it had no taste.


They took their merry time bringing my friend’s creamed spinach, and when they did; it was cold. My friend then proceeded to send the creamed spinach back, and then asked for a drink on the house for her troubles. And when they granted her requested, and she then realized she didn’t like anything on the drink menu, asked for a free dessert instead.


She got what she wanted. Good for her.


My salad wilted.


I wish I had big mouth that I could open up, demand, have no problem asking for things that aren’t coming to me.


I’m jealous of the audacity, the real chutzpah of it.


At the same time, so embarrassed for my friend. It’s so degrading asking for discounts and freebies. Be a lady. But then again, she gets what she wants and nobody looks at her any less, and I’m the one left with a lousy overpriced salad.


Both my brother-in-laws possess this trait of having no busha.


Any time they go shopping they ask for a discount, whether there is an advertised sale or not. One of them reasons that in a department store associates are authorized to give a certain amount discount, it’s worth a try to get it.


My other brother-in-law actually went into a suit store and told the salesperson he had a hundred dollars exactly, what did he have for him. The salesperson responded nothing, and when my brother-in-law turned to leave, the salesperson called out “Wait!” He scurried to the back and found  a gorgeous suit for him.


Then while he was waiting on line to pay, he saw someone he knew exchanging a tie. The store had just finished a sale where if you purchased a suit, you got a free tie. This man had bought a suit, gotten the free tie, his wife didn’t like the tie, so he came back to get a different one. My brother-in-law seeing this piped up that he had come for this sale. The salesperson informed him that the sale was over. My brother in law then said “I came in from Lakewood for this sale.” The salesperson sighed, and gestured to the tie section, indicating that my brother-in-law can have his pick of a free tie.


So my brother-in-law got a $200 suit for a hundred and a free tie to boot.


I wish I could do that, but you should have seen my face when he told me the story. My mouth was agape, hands covering my eyes, cheeks burning, with embarrassment for him. He was proud as a peacock.


Both my sisters are mortified by their husband’s antics, and when they get into the “metziah” modes, they walk away pretending not to know them. But they get to reap the benefits, and preserve their pride; have their cake and eat it too.


I guess I just need to find meself a husband like that.


Posted by on November 10, 2008 in Uncategorized


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