Those Four Dreaded Questions

Pretty much every Jewish kid has had to face them at some point and, under duress, recited the stupid things in front of a bunch of ogling old people. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the Four Questions are a vital part of a Passover Seder. They are traditionally sung by the youngest person present and since everyone ends up being the youngest person at a Seder at some point you end up getting stuck doing it until you can convince a pair of adults to produce a younger sibling or cousin or something.

I thought I would be able to get out of it by the time I was around 8 or so since I’m an older sibling.  But NOOOOO, my younger brother would wuss out every year so now I’m 27 and still doing it.  I remember as a kid getting this sick feeling in my stomach (and Dayenu stuck in my head) as springtime rolled around because I knew what was coming.  A few days before Passover I’d sit by my bookcase with my children’s haggadah, practicing with shaking hands and dreading the moment when all eyes would be on me.

It’s not so bad these days as our Seder is usually pretty small so I don’t mind it so much.  Many years ago however, when I was probably around 11-12ish, I found myself in a Four Questions Worst Case Scenario that I was wholly unprepared for.

We had been invited to a seder held by some people my mom knew from Temple.  They had a grandson who was my brother’s age so it was decided we it would be a good idea to go.  I say “we” but really I had no input on this decision. I figured I’d at least get out of the Four Questions that year since a) we were not hosting the Seder and b) there were going to be multiple other kids there younger than me.  My suspicions were confirmed when we got to the house.  There was a whole plan set out for dealing with the Four Questions which involved splitting the younger kids up into groups with 2-3 kids per question.  Even my stupid brother agreed to participate! I was asked if I felt left out to which I quickly and vehemently responded that I certainly didn’t.  They asked if I would help the kids out if they got stuck or something and I agreed.  I was in the clear. It was a good thing too since there were about 50 people, most of them strangers, in attendance.

About 5 minutes before we started that section of the Seder everything feel apart.  The kids were gone.  All of them. They just ran off and were happily playing in other rooms of the house.  Not a single one of them was around to do the Four Questions and I HAD ALREADY AGREED TO BE THE BACK UP.  The host came over and told me I would have to do them myself.  I wasn’t really given an option to say no.  I was supposed to be too mature for that. I couldn’t let EVERYONE down.

I remember standing up from my spot at the now empty kids table.  I remember seeing the whole room of expectant adults looking at me. I remember turning away from their oppressive gaze and down to the book and….and.  I wish I could say at this point that I sung it beautifully and without mistakes. It would even be kind of fun to say that I made a fool of myself and it’s a funny story now.  I can’t say any of those things though, because I have no idea what happened. I remember looking down at the book and then the memory stops.  After that point I have absolutely zero recollection of what happened in that room. Sometimes I wonder what it could have been.  Other times, I think maybe I was never meant to know.  Whatever it was that happened there, I may have forgotten it for a reason.

 

I Feel Old: Turning 26 Edition

Last year around this same time I wrote a post  inspired by my quarter life crisis and the sudden realization that at 25 years of age I was an actual adult.  Today I turned 26 and in the past year I have had a bunch more moments in which made me think, “holy sh*t, I’m a grown-up now!”  Here is that list:

  1. Not only did I have a checkbook but I actually used up all my checks.
  2. A friend of mine from high school just had a baby intentionally. Like she’s married and decided to start a family.
  3. I like split pea soup now.
  4. I have a 401K.
  5. I made my birthday cupcakes with whole wheat flour.
  6. I actually kept forgetting when my birthday was because I was busy.
  7. I was texting with a friend the other day and she mentioned that we’ve been friends for over ten years.  I realized that I’ve actually known nearly all of my closest friends for at least a decade.
  8. I don’t put sugar in my tea anymore.
  9. In less than six months I will be someone’s wife.
  10. I use a self inking stamp at work. (My mom had one when I was a kid that I was never allowed to touch)
  11. The girls in shampoo ads are now younger than me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please be Kind

On September 11th, 2001 I was 11 years old and in middle school. I lived in a town within a commutable distance from NYC so you could say it hit us pretty hard.  This isn’t a story about that day.  This is a story that happened a few days later.

I was in the cafeteria sitting with my usual group.  It was the same group that had sat together on the 11th trying to figure out what was happening based on the limited information our teachers had given us.  We had comforted each other in worried whispers.  We had all been scared but be had tried to be brave for our friends.

About half of our table was already sitting down with the other half trickling in when one of our friends dashed in in tears.  I won’t put her name here to respect her privacy. Of course the rest of us immediately huddled around her asking all at once what was wrong.

She told us that some boy had come up to her in the hallway and asked her angrily, “How could you do this to America?”

This friend was a Muslim and was wearing a hijab which I hadn’t really thought of as a big deal up until this point.  I was livid.  How could someone say something like that to my friend who I had never seen be anything but nice to everyone? How could someone make an 11 year old girl cry and feel okay about it? I tried to find a rational explanation, so I started asking her about a billion questions.

“Who was he? Did you know him? Could he have really said something else?” I thought maybe it was a mistake. Or maybe he was just doing it to be a jerk.  I was wrong.

“Some 8th grader.  I don’t know him.  Why would he say something like that? I love America.”

I felt totally helpless.  My friend was sitting here crying and there wasn’t really anything I could say to help.  Yes, that kid was a jerk.  He was 100% wrong and there was no reason for him to say that to her. Of course we knew she loved America, why wouldn’t she?  But we couldn’t tell her it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t know if that was the first time that something like that happened to her but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t the last. This sweet girl was growing up in a country where she was bound to face discrimination because of  her religion and as much as I wanted to protect her I could only do so much.

I wanted to find out who this boy was and shout at him and tell him how wrong he was.  I wanted to tell everyone.  I couldn’t understand how someone could think like that.  I was 11 and I didn’t know very much about the world.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m choosing to tell this story now. In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris a lot of people are scared.  That’s reasonable, something terrible happened.  But please, don’t let your fear get in the way of your compassion.  Don’t direct your hate at people who aren’t really your enemies.

Those refugees who are desperately trying to escape Syria are running from the same people who are attacking the citizens of Paris.  These refugees are regular, everyday people. People just like you who are simply seeking safety and a place to live where they won’t be the next victims of violence.

It can be so easy to demonize others when you’re scared, but before you say something next time please stop and take a closer look at the situation and think before you speak. It may be that the person you think is an enemy is actually just a young girl who just wants to hang out with her friends at lunch.  She’s not scary at all and your harsh words will hurt her more than you will ever know.

 

 

 

Getting Engaged In A Way That Fits Us

Corinne and Luke: Engaged

As probably many of you have noticed, we just got engaged! And by “we” I mean Corinne, the writer of this blog and Luke, the guy she’s been with for like forever.  Something people may have also noticed is that we did this in a somewhat non-traditional manner. We figured that some people might have a few questions as to why we decided to take a different route when it came to kicking off our engagement so we figured we’d use this space to lay it all out. Keep in mind that we aren’t judging anyone else for doing it the traditional way, everyone is different and we believe that things like this are up to individual couples to decide what works best for them and for everyone else to respect that. When it came down to getting engaged for us we felt that the traditional “Man buys Woman a ring and asks her THE question” format didn’t fit well with our ideals and didn’t reflect the fact that this was a really important life changing decision that we were making together.

Environmental and Social Responsibility

We have always been people who care about the environment and the welfare of people around the world. It is important to us to involve those values in any important decisions we make and, as it turns out, when diamonds get involved it can get a little tricky. Diamond mining companies have a long and messy history of mistreatment of both people and the planet. This includes a wide variety of human rights violations and other shady practices including child labor,  using profits from the diamond trade to fund violent conflicts and a serious lack of concern with  environmental impact. While there are ways to find responsibly sourced diamonds, we weren’t really sold on the idea that we needed one anyway since especially true since, historically speaking, it’s a relatively new requirement.

A Diamond is… Forever?

Many people assume that the tradition of giving a diamond ring as a necessary part of the engagement process goes back forever but actually it only dates back to the 1930’s. While diamond rings were sometimes given as part of a proposal before then, it wasn’t that popular and certainly not considered a requirement until a very successful marketing campaign changed everything. In 1938 De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., which essentially controlled all of the world’s diamond trade, had a problem. They had too many diamonds and not enough people willing to spend money to buy them. So they set out to manufacture the demand and hired N.W. Ayer, a New York ad agency to boost sales. The campaign worked. Through ads, school assemblies and carefully placed “fashion experts” talking about the new trend in diamonds, they were able to convince young adults and if they liked it they needed to put a ring on it. The concept of “a diamond is forever” was invented as a marketing slogan and boy did it stick. For us though, this marketing concept seemed rather unromantic and, combined with the ethical issues, convinced us to skip the ring.

SHE Said Yes

As feminists we felt weird about the fact that in the traditional engagement process a man spends a large amount of money to buy a pretty ring and then surprises the woman with a romantic gesture of popping the question. This means that the man has time to think about marriage and what he wants and when the right time might be and the woman just has to wait until she gets put on the spot and has to very suddenly make a very big decision. We feel that a marriage should be an equal partnership and that includes every part of it, even the very beginning, which means that this was a decision we felt we should make together.

The Importance of Partnership

We feel that this is something that needs to be discussed in depth and over time to continually make sure everyone is on the same page and that is exactly what we did. We spent many hours over the course of our relationship talking. We talked about the future, about where we wanted the relationship to go, about where we wanted to live, about how and if we might raise a family and a variety of other topics we felt would probably come up in a marriage. We wanted to make sure that this was the right choice for us and that came through a LOT of communication. This was a decision that we made together as a team which is how we want to do everything. That’s why we wanted to get married in the first place, we make a fantastic team.

So What’s the Alternative?

Once we decided we weren’t going the traditional route we had to decide what we were going to do instead. We decided that instead if Luke surprising Corinne with a question we would create a cute infographic about our relationship together and share it with our friends and family as a fun announcement. We still got the fun of a big surprise but in this case we both got to be a part of it. It was really enjoyable getting to share something we worked on together and watch everyone’s reactions to our happy news.

Dear Winter, It’s Over

Illustration by Luke Mosher

Illustration by Luke Mosher

Dear Winter,

I hate that I have to write this but it seems that there is some confusion in your mind and I want to make one thing absolutely clear: we are OVER. I thought that we already had this talk. I thought you got the message. I thought we had agreed to move on with our lives. It appears you did not get the message.

I know I said we could still be friends and maybe that was my mistake. The situation we have right now is not working; you aren’t giving me the space I need. You’re waiting outside my apartment every morning, you bother me at work and even tried to hang out with me while I was out of town visiting my parents over the weekend. None of this is okay! And that snowstorm you gave me on Friday; not cool. Yes, there was a time (December) when I would have found it sweet, beautiful, romantic even, but to do it now is completely inappropriate. I don’t understand why you can’t see that. You need to let go. I HAVE MOVED ON.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re a great season. Lot’s of people really like you and there were a lot of things I really liked about you in the beginning. I was instantly attracted to your warm cozy sweaters, your hot coco, your sledding, your sparkling icy trees and your soft fresh blankets of snow. It was magical at first but eventually I realized that I didn’t really love you, I loved the idea of you. It was only fair to the both of us to end things when it obviously wasn’t working out. You deserve to be with someone who appreciates you for you.

I honestly wish you the best and I truly hope you find some happiness. Maybe someday we will be able to be friends again, but not now. Please stop trying to win me back and please do not attempt to contact me again.

Goodbye and Good Luck,

Corinne

Oh Dear God, Am I an ADULT Now?

I recently turned 25 and, according to all the crap my friends of a similar age post on Facebook, there are two important things you are supposed to do around that time. The first is to freak out and the second is to write lists about turning 25 and all the things you should have done by now, or should start doing or should definitely stop doing and then post the lists on the internet so 24-year-olds who haven’t reached their insightful list-making phase yet can share them on social media and say “OMG so true…” Not wanting to feel left out, I made a list of my own.  I’ve noticed that when you get to be my age certain things start to change and you begin to have these bizarre and terrifying moments when you start acting all adulty. You know it’s right but it feels so wrong. So here is a list of recent moments that made me think “Oh God! I’m an adult.”

1. When I meet new people we often ask each other what we do for a living. Like our jobs. Not our major or our weird hobbies. We all have jobs now. Real jobs.

2. I make a really big deal about going to bed on time.

3. My mom bought me an electric hand mixer for my birthday because I had mentioned that I needed one. When I thanked her for it over the phone she said that she felt bad since it was such an unexciting and practical gift. I explained that this did not count as practical since I would only use it to make utterly frivolous food like cake and not the nutritious dinners I usually cook.

4.  One of the top things on the list of “stuff I would get if I got a bunch of extra money” is a better vacuum cleaner.

5. I watch Jeopardy on a fairly regular basis.

6. I didn’t even have to Google how to spell Jeopardy.

7. While visiting my parents I realized that my loft bed, though cool, is really uncomfortable and makes my back hurt. I’d rather have a real bed now.

8. Certain kinds of candy taste too sweet to me now.

9. I drink almost exclusively water unless I’m giving myself a little treat in which case I drink herbal tea.

10. Sometimes I see people in TV commercials who I feel like are probably celebrities to the kids these days but I have no idea who they are.

11. I had to Google what the hell “fleek” was.

12. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of all my monthly expenses.

13. I hang out socially with people over the age of 30.

14. My LITTLE brother turns 21 this May.

15. I own more than one blazer.

16. I wear heels more often than sneakers now.

When to Unfriend

Sometimes I’m on Facebook and I realize that I should probably whittle down my friends list a bit. I mean how many of these people do I actually communicate with on anything like a regular basis? How many of them are actually even friends? I don’t “friend” anyone who I don’t know in real life but do I really need to keep track of that dude I met for like 5 minutes this one time in college and we’ve literally never spoken since? I don’t know that guy. And I’m pretty sure that guy doesn’t have any clue who I am.

I feel like the cut-off should be this: If I saw this person in real life, would I go talk to him/her or would I hide and avoid eye contact because I’m pretty sure they’ve forgotten I exist and we haven’t talked in years. If it’s the second thing I feel like they should probably get the axe.

But then I get the weirdest feeling…. If I delete these people, I’m really deleting them. Chances are that unfriending them means I’ll never see these people again, they would be 100% out of my life. I could even forget them completely if, as in most of these cases, I didn’t know them that well in the first place. In my mind they will have completely ceased to exist. I’LL HAVE REMOVED AN ENTIRE PERSON FROM MY BRAIN! What if I’m wrong? I can’t handle that kind of power!  What if we were always meant to be friends but now I messed everything up? What if they find out that I deleted them and feel sad? What if I feel sad but I can’t even remember why? What if they get a really adorable cat and I never get to see pictures of it? THERE ARE JUST SO MANY WAYS THIS CAN GO WRONG!

So in the end I almost always decide to keep them around and just wait until a day comes when I feel like playing God.


Tweets

  • RT @GeorgeTakei: A few points: 1) That Pershing story is untrue, 2) You're praising a war crime, 3) Your causation is illogical, and 4) I c… 1 hour ago
  • RT @OhNoSheTwitnt: Congratulations to Trump on being so repugnant that people are siding with George W Bush, Mitt Romney, and the Juggalos. 1 hour ago
  • RT @pleatedjeans: Why do spiders have to be the thing inside houses Why can't it be hamsters Why can't I open a drawer & see a tiny hamst… 2 days ago
  • RT @kumailn: 12 out of 292 @GOP members of Congress have condemned Trump for defending white supremacists. 4%. Worse than Gigli (6%) on @Ro2 days ago
  • @oftarth Don't spend it all in one place! 2 days ago