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The Neurotic Individual

“I don’t know where he gets it from,” She said half laughing. “It’s not me, and it’s definitely not my husband.” We were talking in the teacher’s room about our children, and where they pick up their fashion sense. “My son shakes in front of the mirror watching the creases in his pants and how they sway. If they move too much, get thee to the cleaners!”

We laughed, and laughed again when the next teacher told of her 18-month-old, with no hair to speak of gazing adoringly in the mirror smoothing out her “tresses” with a brush. But the swaying pants, it struck me, and reminded me of someone else – my little brother in law.

At 19, he’s super put together, and polished. I always wondered what it was that made his lines so crisp; it couldn’t just be his Brooks Brother’s collar-stays, because my husband has those too. Then one Shabbos meal, while waiting for my husband to finish washing and return to the table, I observed my brother in law, in those few idle moments, what did he do (I’m a people  watcher, sorry).His shirt cuffs were preoccupying him. He tugged at them a little, one edge of the cuff, was a millimeter off, not completely aligned with the opposite side. He adjusted it, then readjusted his cufflinks, which had moved a “ma – she –hu” in the tweaking. It took seconds, but I knew in that moment that I would never be it. I would never be super polished, and sophisticated, with my sheitel perfectly coiffed.

And then there’s my sister-in-law, who of course I love dearly, that really solidified my despair of ever being the enviable “How does she do it” Superwoman. A little before her wedding, she gave me a tour of her soon to be inhabited apartment. It was brand new, and really pretty, even without her little touches. I really liked her kitchen; there was a lot counter space, and two sinks, none of which my own apartment possesses. I absentmindedly reached to turn the water on.

“Don’t” she said quickly.

“What? Why?” I asked, “Worried about waterbills already?” She laughed,

“No, it’s just that I dried the sink before you came and I don’t want to do it again.”

My eyes squinted.

“Dried the sink?” I wasn’t familiar with the concept, wiping yes, drying, no. And I’d been running my own kitchen for a very long time by then: six months.

“Ye, I don’t like water droplet in the sink, so I dry it.”

And I knew then that my kitchen could never look like hers.

Yes, I can dry my sinks too with an extra strength Bounty paper towel if I choose to (and I do on occasion, it makes such a difference, it’s crazy). And if I were a man, I can sway in front of the mirror, and realign my cufflinks. But it’s all expo facto. I saw them do it, saw the results, and I’m just imitating. I’d have never thought of it on my own. And the thing is—they  didn’t think of it either; it came naturally. These small idiosyncrasies, they weren’t planned, developed and executed. They evolved out of the person’s need: a need for presentation, for cleanliness, for structure and symmetry. There’s a kind of neuroticism they possess for the areas they excel in, an attention to detail that the average person would never even think to address.

And I’m not that. Or maybe I am I realized after I received quite a few phone calls that sounded like this:

“Esther, I’m looking to buy a buy a double stroller; I know you just bought one, tell me all the makes, models, reviews, features and which one I should buy.:

or

“Esther, I’m looking to buy a drill.”

“Drill? I’m not Bob the Builder, I don’t know Adam about drills.”

“Ye, but hypothetically, it you were buying a drill, which one would you buy.”

“Hmmmm…Challenge accepted. Call me tomorrow.”

People call me up to help them research products and decide which one to purchase. I’m not trying hard when I read all reviews, comparisons, the maintenance, the warranties, understand the components, the everything. I just do it. I enjoy it. I don’t know any other way. Nor do I particularly want to.

So is that what other people experience when we gaze at them in astonishment and thinly veiled green eyes, just the wonder of them being themselves?

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Slice of Life

 

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My Animal Instinct

Today’s post is brought to by Plinky. I answered today’s question, of which animal I’d choose to be:

If I had to choose which animal to be, I think I’d go with the American Bald Eagle.

They are lookers.

They are strong

They are powerful.

They are respected.

They are talented.

They are smart.

They are also an endangered species, so anyone who messes with them is instantly considered a jerk.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Musings, The Sporadic Side

 

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Hosting A Question

Yes, this is my guest bedroom. Yes, I am kidding.

It is the human condition where people believe their beliefs, perspectives, and attitudes to be among the average consensus. Meaning, most people will agree with what we say and do, or at least understand it.

Obviously this is a very flawed logic and condition as evidenced by the amount of frivolous strife a person encounters each day. Arguments over who’s turn it is to take the garbage out, that the driver ahead of you should have made the light, that your mother in law should keep her comments to herself – none of these would have happened if all people were synced. We’re not, yet we still hold ourselves to be normal.

So, I pose a question. We’re all individuals, yet societies norm and averages make up consensus of what is acceptable or not, what falls under the umbrella of the bell curve, and what is beyond standard deviation; I speak on the topic of hostesses, and guests.

I love to play hostess, and rarely have an opportunity to be on the other side, but when I am, this is my modus-operandus – blend in. I don’t like to have my presence shouted from the rafters. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, leave thing undisturbed, and if I do disturb them, to put them back so no one need know that I was here. Some people may perceive this of not liking my hostess, or being intimidated by them. I think it’s a sign of respect. I’m in their home, I play by their rules. Mostly this sort of thing comes up in the bathroom and kitchen, where most guests need to take of their needs, big or small.

Every home has some sort of system as to where every item belongs, and even if there is no system, but a haphazard dump, the things are generally dumped in the same vicinity time and again. The mugs in one cabinet, the towels slung over the oven door handle, the shower curtain drawn shut, the shampoo up in the caddy etc. and guests interact with these items, and use them as they see fit – which is wonderful. What arises next is, what does the guest do with the item once finished with it. Does he place it where he found it, following the order of the home he’s visiting, or does he put it where he finds most convenient – usually in line with the system he has running in his own home?

I’ve already stated that I do the former. All my guests are among the latter. Naturally I think I’m of the standard opinion. Statistics seems to indicate my minority status. But I’m not sure that it makes sense that ALL my guests follow their own system, my view is not that radical that no one else I know subscribes to it. I must therefore draw the conclusion that I am such a wonderful hostess that my guest forget they’re guest, think they’re home, and act accordingly.

So the question, what do you do when you’re a guest in someone else’s home. Will you make me a part of the masses, or further isolate me in my marginal status.

(I realize this post may seem like a chastisement of my guests. It’s not, it’s just a commentary on different perspectives. If a bathmat out of place has me banning guests, I probably have bigger issues.)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Humor, The Sporadic Side

 

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Take it From Me

Kach es Sheli, from Avrhom Fried’s new album has got me thinking, and once again recognizing the pathos of my mindset.

He sings,

“Rebono Shel Olma, Ani Yodeiah, ShBais Hamikdahs Hashlishi aino bunoi mei avanim, hu vunoi me demaos, v’im cul ma shatah tzaruch rok dmaah achas, kach es sheli”

Creator of this world, I know that the third Bais Hamekdsh is not being built from stones, but from tears. And if all that you need is one more tear, take it from me.

When I listen to it, I feel inspired, like I can do this, we are close, redemption is near, and I can be a part of it.
But then I look around at my life. I sit and complain all day, about the smallest the thing. The driver that doesn’t know to ease into the intersection when making a left turn, the secretary that misplaced my papers – again. When it takes me more than thirty seconds to decide what to make for supper, when my kid gives me a run for my money when I try to change his diaper.

Kach Es Sheli?

Who am I kidding. I can barely handle day to day stresses gracefully, appreciatively, what nerve do I have asking Hashem to make me cry for my benefit. I’m not even appreciating the tears he gives me on a regular basis, am I an idiot? A glutton for punishment, asking for more?

It’s a beautiful song, but if I’m very honest with myself – that Kach Es Sheli – let him take Avrhom Fried because, well, I’m a baby who cries from everything, but I’m not an idiot who attempts a muscle to look strong and says “punch me” hoping the other person won’t take me seriously.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Musings

 

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Instead of the Concession Phone Call

A long time ago, I became friends with Jennifer. You know Jennifer, she leaves nice comments on this blog, and makes me feel like someone is actually listening to my drivel.

It’s a funny story how we became friends. Well, not really funny, ha ha, but more like, unlikely. She wasn’t my type, I wasn’t hers (still is that way). Aside for “types” we really have a lot in common, reading, writing, drawing, Harry Potter and a wicked sense of humor (well, mines not that awesome, her’s is).

She was G.O., main part in play, nah, I shouldn’t tell you that about her, you’ll get the wrong picture, thinking she was this uber-glamorous, popular charmer who we all secretly hated. No, Jennifer, was – no still is, one of the nicest, kindest people I know. Can never say no to anyone. Really generous, sweet, smart, eager, and all those kind of qualities, the REAL nice girl qualities, she also happens to be super-talented, but it’s so by the way with her, that we were able to forgive her her awesomeness.

Anyway, in 9th and 10th grade, while I frittered away class time, sleeping, making extraneous bathroom trips, and being an overall failure, Jennifer diligently took notes, answered questions, and was of course a model student. Except when she wasn’t – which was when she was writing stories with me. We’d write a paragraph or two, and pass ‘em back and forth, waiting to see what twist the other one threw, stretching the imagination. A lot of them were Harry Potter fan-fics, and we once wrote a story that was a lot like Mean Girls, but Mean Girls hadn’t come out yet – it did later, and I felt cheated of intellectual property, but never mind that. We wrote a lot stuff; it was fun, we each have some of it stashed somewhere in our parents’ houses. And we made a bet, with no real stakes, just a mental competition, of who would publish a book first.

Well, this past Thursday, Jennifer won. “Not My Kind, I Don’t Mind” published by IsraelBookshop, available online and in Judaica stores is written and sorta illustrated by Jennifer (she made all the clay figures, and then a graphic artist placed them nicely on the page).

“Not My Kind, I Don’t Mind”, is a really cute story about acceptance and love, with a nice moral at the end, a moral that I learned in 9th grade when I became friends with Jennifer. Maybe if the book had been around when I was growing up, I’d have made friends with Jennifer a little earlier instead of moping around with an attitude problem.

Check out the book, and even better, buy and enjoy it!

It being a success will keep my ego in check ;)

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Slice of Life, Writing

 

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I’m a Woman (hear me roar)

English: A Lenovo X61 tablet laptop shown in t...

Image via Wikipedia

“Hi, Lenovo customer service Tina speaking, how can I help you?”

“I bought a computer from you less than three months ago, it’s non-functioning now. I don’t want it fixed, I want a new one! It shouldn’t start falling apart so soon.” (Harumph!)

“Oookaay, well I need a tag number first to process a replacement. You can get one from tech support, would you like me to transfer you?

“K.” (Grumble)

Fifteen minutes of elevator music on repeat – it was the same 30- second preview over and over again I swear.

“Hi this is Dan with Lenovo tech support, how can I help you.”

“I need help, I just bought my computer less than 3 months ago, and I’m having such issues.” (Pitiful)

“Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do…

20 minutes later hang up with no new computer, and a need to back up my files for further repair.

What the heck? I wanted a new computer! I told that to the woman. All of a sudden a guy tech comes on, I lose my resolve and turn into a damsel in distress?! I’m an embarrassment to my sex.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Humor, Slice of Life

 

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Profiles in Personality

Every year I teach, somehow, Don Marquis poem “Takes Talent” comes up, and I end up reciting it to the delight of my students, who aren’t from the era of memorizing your favorite poems, or prose (they’re not even from the days of memorizing the preamble to the Declaration of Independence or Gettysburg address).  Sometimes I tell them how I first read this poem when I was in 8th grade, and have been quoting it ever since, sometimes I tell them I recited on a bad date and the guy conceded that he was of the first kind described in the poem. Sometimes I tell them it was written on the wall of bedroom (when I was single), and sometimes, I just tell them about Archie the cockroach who Marquis wrote under the guise of, skipping my personal connection. The poem is a follows, for those of you (most of you, I’m assuming) who are not familiar with it.

 Takes Talent
by Don Marquis

there are two
kinds of human
beings in the world
so my observation
has told me
namely and to wit
as follows
firstly
those who
even though they
were to reveal
the secret of the universe
to you would fail
to impress you
with any sense
of the importance
of the news
and secondly
those who could
communicate to you
that they had
just purchased
ten cents worth
of paper napkins
and make you
thrill and vibrate
with the intelligence

Every time without fail, I always end up thinking about two friends of mine, sisters, who, while I wouldn’t totally confine them to the paper napkin variety, as they do possess a mass quantity of intelligence to balance them out, however on day to day interactions, there is always something of dramatic interest to relate. There’s no such thing as an average day, or just a conversation, when walking away from any interaction there’s always something to say and comment on. And sometimes I walk away questioning myself, and my interpretations in life, who is right? Am I an unobservant, middle-road, never too extreme kind of person? I don’t think so, with most things, but relative to them, I’m a stick in the mud.

One time, after an interaction with the princpal she turns to me,“Hello, she was furious with us, did you see her eyebrows?” Eyes wide, her eyebrows perked up, and mouth open in intense question. Ummm…well, I think, she wasn’t happy with us, but she didn’t seem too upset, yes, she sugarcoated some words, but the situation is workable, as for her eyesbrows, I dunno, she pencils them in, they’re always extreme.

Telling over one story from our road-trip, “Hello, it was miserable, we’re sitting there, on the side of the road, cars just flying by, too fast for us to wave forlornly at them, and them, and then it hit us, like DING, call AAA. It must have been at least an hour, maybe longer, when AAA showed up, but then in like seconds we were up an’ running. But seriously, until they came – despair!”

Yeeeeaaah, I was there. We were singing every children’s song we knew, and having  a blast, eating all the mike and ikes, and then AAA showed up, and we were on the way. Ye, we might’ve flipped for a moment when the car broke down, and we weren’t sure what to do,  but it was a minute, really. Calling AAA is common sense, not genius, why are you exclaiming, “ooh, that’s so smart” when she tells you we called them?

And then there was the time one of them got me a job giving private swimming lessons. I’m very capable of doing it, and I did a good job, but I wasn’t looking for the job, she just happen to meet someone by a pool we were swimming by who commented she was looking for someone to teach her 4 year old swimming basics. I swam by, doing my umpteenth lap, and heard my name being called, and then as if I wasn’t there, she went on singing my praises – I was a lifeguard for years, taught tons of kids, my whole family is major swimmers, and on and on. All of it was true, but I would have never phrased it that way.  She also kept using words like, amazing, and the best, and bashert that we had met up today, which I wasn’t comfortable with. Yes, I’m good, I’m skilled, but really, the best, I don’t think so. Amazing? What does that word mean anyway in this context.  But the woman was sold, and I had a side summer job. I’m not complaining, but but—

The other night I was working with one of them on a project – changing the lyrics of a musical to fit a play we are working on. I think we did a good job in keeping the core of what made the song great in the first place, not perfect, there  are a few rough spots, and I don’t like all the transitions, but overall, really good, and I’m not embarrassed take credit for it. She though, was ecstatic, “It’s beautiful,” she tells me, “You’re so good at this,” “That line is brilliant, I don’t know how we did it”, and“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited about this!” I really think we may win a Tony now.

I feel like they’re living on a different plane of existence, even if we are experiencing the same thing, the way we interpret them and relate them, the dichotomy, is the clichéd night and day. To them a day is never a day, there’s always something fabulous, stupendous, horrendous or dreadful. You will talk to them, and you won’t think they’re drama queens, they’re not, they just know how to talk. And you will listen, and wish you had been there with them, or done when they did when x,y and z happened.

Am I missing something?

I ask my student’s if they could choose only one of the personalities presented in the poem, no in between balance, which would they choose? Most couldn’t decide if they wanted the intelligence, but no one caring to hear a word they said, or to talk total fluff and have everyone’s neck craned forward to hear your next utterance? I try pressing them for a definitive answer, but then they ask me for my choice, and I can’t decide either.

Good thing mutually exclusive things don’t come along that often, and that there is balance to most things in life…but still…if I had to choose… Is it really about how you talk, or how you experience life, which affects which?… If I had to choose…

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Teaching

 

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The Runaway Bride

I have disappeared. I will acknowledge that.

 

 I don’t post on my blog

Respond to emails

Call my friends back

Return my students quizzes the next day

Do basic chores

 

I don’t exist or function as a human being.

 

My friends call me a Blissed-Out Bride.

 

I’ve turned into the worst cliché.

 

Now I’m not here to excuse myself, but rather explain.

 

I think I’m functioning.

I think I’m responding

I think I’m being responsible

I think I’m still all here.

 

But looking at my performance of the last month objectively…I’m not.

 

The thing is I THINK I am.

 

It’s not intentional. I want to do all the things I’m supposed to do; I mean to do it. I really mean to write, to call you back, but the time just disappears and I didn’t do anything, but space out.

 

It’s the weirdest phenomena.

 

And even weirder is how not me this whole thing is. I’m not the googly-eyed, gushing, glowing, giggly type. I’m the analytical, unemotional, detached, logical type.

 

My behavior goes against all my principles.

 

And it’s a great thing.

 

My apologies again. J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2009 in Weddings

 

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Copping Out

I’m suffering from a quasi writer’s block. So I’m copping out and posting a MEME that Tembow tagged me in a while ago. It’s half serious, half, well, not so.

Basically I had to complete the sentences…I’m not tagging anyone, but feel free to complete it in the comments section.

1. I wish I could…always be consistent in my thoughts and actions, and go sky diving

2. My biggest fear is…to live the life that happens to me and not the one I make, and that my bangs will turn me into helmet head if not blown properly

3. I hate to…doubt myself and sit at computer screen blankly watching the cursor blink on and off and I don’t know what to write

4. I love…getting answers, and being right

5. Today I will…read, and eat, and sleep

6. Yesterday I…slept A LOT

7. My hair is…the best ever, you should be jealous of me. Really

8. I will never…be stupid, or cute (I became cute to my students because I’m young butthat doesn’t really count.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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I Like Me (Ergo)

We were having a discussion in class about choices,

 mistakes,

decisions,

second chances,

and if you could do it over again

would you?

 

So many of my students said

they’d love to start over

Do it again.

I didn’t want to.

I can think of so many things that when they happened,

I wished had gone differently.

That I had said something else.

That had known something.

That some things just didn’t happen at all.

 

People always ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

and then the defeating

answer

“because they can handle it and Hashem loves them.”

(that answer never satisfied me)

 

I don’t know if I’m a “good” person

or if I “handled” it…

Hashem loves me,

that I do know,

but I’m here today because of everything,

I’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,

experienced…

                    for better or worse,

                    the good with the bad…

 

I am me, because of it…

 

And I kinda like me.

                                                              

                                                                                 So no,

                                                                                 I’m not gonna go for a

                                                                                                              do over.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Poems, Teaching

 

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