Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Questions for the Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh who are throwing eggs, rocks and spitting

  • Why would you move to a place called “House of Sun” if you expected people to be all covered up?
  • There are plenty of perfectly nice Ultra Orthodox Jews. Have you considered wearing a different color hat from black so that you can be identified? Since your issue is with women, perhaps pink would be a great color.
  • Isn’t Hebrew a sacred language? Then how is it appropriate for you to graffiti buildings?
  • What happens if a woman sits in the back of the bus and is checking out your neck? How is that ok?
  • Can’t you come up with another name to call the police than Nazis? It’s really distasteful.
  • Wouldn’t you rather eat those eggs?  Israeli breakfasts are so good!
  • Didn’t “sinat chinam” destroy Israel before? Are you also supplying Iran with nuclear weapons?
  • How do you know that your wives are behaving modestly if you are outside harassing people?
  • Don’t you have PR Consultants? Right now you are being compared to the Taliban. You need to work on your image.
  • Why if you wanted to fight so much didn’t you just join the IDF?
  • Aren’t you supposed to be studying?

    To learn more:  http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4167668,00.html

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guided Meditation

This is not a great time of year for people with depression and anxiety. You are commanded to be happy and joyful, and instead it becomes a mirror into the fact that you are not.

Although I'm pretty happy right now, my mind races. At times, it is comparable to a the track during the Indianapolis 500. There were days and nights during my 20s, where my mind could have fueled NASCAR as well.

Often this racing serves me well. I am a creative thinker and can complete tasks rapidly.

Sometimes though, I end up exhausted and depleted.

For much of my life, I have employed various interventions to cleanse the pallet that is my brain.  I have found that the most helpful "medicine" if I am an acute situation is guided meditation.

This not to be confused with meditation. I cannot do regular breathe in breathe out meditation because for some reason it causes my already burning thoughts to turn into a forest fire.

But guided meditation seems to work for me. Occasionally a negative thought or two will invade the meditation, and so I do my best to get rid of it or them. If they won't go away, I will just complete more guided meditations until they do.

And they do.

Below I am listing guided meditations that I have completed. Now the disclaimer: I have no training in this sort of thing. This is not in place of a psychologist or psychiatrist. This also just might not work for you. Also, if you feel suicidal or that you are going to harm yourself or someone else call 911.

As for the people leading the meditations, I have no clue as to whether they are excellent practitioners or total quacks. I cannot endorse them or their beliefs in any way. I can just endorse the particular guided meditation that has helped me break the negative cycle of ruminative thinking.

Tip: Don't watch the video, just listen. Be seated or lie down in a dark room or at least close your eyes. Be comfortable.






If there are guided meditations that you recommend, please include them in the comments section. 



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Matisyahu Shaved his Beard


10.  He wants to be in Old Spice commercials for the Super Bowl.

9. Waxing hurts.

8. He had a bet with Mitt Romney that the Bears would win on Sunday.

7.  He got sick of being called a Rabbi.

6.  He had put on weight and people thought he was Santa Claus.

5. He just found out that you don’t need a beard to be religious.

4. The hair care products didn’t last long enough to cover the gray.

3. It was itchy.

2. He saw himself on this new Bravo show and thought it was time to rethink how he observes Judaism: 

1.  It's easier to eat a jelly doughnut without having to worry about it getting in your beard. 

Best of luck to you Matisyahu. I like your music with or without facial hair. I especially liked when you sang with the PS22 Chorus. I hope wherever your spiritual journey takes you, it takes you to the recording studio. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

The most drugs ever!




My latest post for OyChicago is on Dr. House, MD and drugs. Prescription Drugs. Check it out here:
http://www.oychicago.com/blog.aspx?id=20441&blogid=142 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Most important lesson to learn from Penn State


The Penn State saga has been terribly depressing on so many levels, and the world’s top writers have already sufficiently written columns condemning the football team’s leadership who at worst raped young boys and at best did the minimum to report it.

Investigations will occur, reports will be written, and fines will be levied and paid. Trials will take place and some of the victims destroyed by one man and those who aided and abetted his crimes may or may not speak, may or may not find closure in the justice system.

It is likely that this will trigger more reports of sexual abuse at other institutions where perpetrators weren’t stopped by those who “could have done more.”

While this calamity will teach lessons to the current leadership of athletic programs, schools, religious institutions and the military, what needs to be addressed is how to teach young people to not be bystanders when they witness wrongdoings.   

We have to teach them why it is important, why it is their duty, to speak out when it is so much easier to stay silent.

What we need is for every able bodied man, woman and child to stand up against abuse from sexual to bullying. High school and college students need to know you aren’t formidable because you can catch a football or make a basket. You aren’t cool because you can down eight beers without puking.

What defines you is that you can take the keys away from a friend who is about to drink and drive; you can report a friend who is bragging about what you know are euphemisms for date rape; and you can confront someone or call the authorities on someone who is bulling.

And of course, if someone’s life is in danger or a child is going to be injured, you cannot take the easy way out and say it’s someone else’s problem.

Facing History and Ourselves has numerous lesson plans and teacher trainings on these topics. However, using the Penn State story, or what happened to Lauren Spierer or resources on bullying, and clarifying the what should be universal value that it is not OK to be a bystander to injustice under any circumstances, is a lesson that can be taught by anyone, anywhere. 

Will you teach it, or let someone else bother with it? 


Friday, October 7, 2011

The struggle that is Yom Kippur

So few liberal Jews actually go to synagogue throughout the year, why do so many go on Yom Kippur? Is it because they really are worried that lightning will strike them if they don’t go, or is it for another reason?

I ask the question as much to others as I do to myself.

While I’m more active in the Jewish Community than most, my presence in synagogue is sporadic, and I struggle to focus on any kind of spirituality. Yom Kippur is a little bit easier because the fasting, I find, mellows my hyperactive soul (although sometimes it can have the reverse effect where all I think about is food).

But it’s also an easier holiday to connect to because of the Al Chet prayer which lists all of the sins, most of which I have committed this year to some degree or another. So standing before God and admitting those sins, asking for forgiveness, I can relate to and get on board with. I am culpable for wrongdoings which I am never held accountable for. This is the day when I am.

 There is one part of the service that is very hard for me to grapple with: On Rosh HaShanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, how many will leave this world and how many will be born into it, who will live and who will die... But penitence, prayer and good deeds can annul the severity of the decree.

The idea that there is a sort of futuristic census book in Heaven doesn’t bother me. But the idea that we have some control over whether or not it happens to us or our loved ones is hard to fathom especially when each year we know someone who dies or some terrible illness or tragedy befalls a wonderful person who lives a life of, if not prayer, then definitely good deeds. Death, tragedy, illness, is any of it preventable? Do we cause it?

 Many people know what happened to the Berry family. The wreck killed both parents and severely injured the couple's two sons, Aaron, 8, and Peter, 9, who were paralyzed from the waist down. Their daughter, Willa, 6, broke an arm and leg. (Houston Chronicle) 

In the article, the Rabbi of their synagogue David Rosen, senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Yeshurun explained: "A terrible tragedy like that is not an act of God, but the tragic act of the one who crossed the line of the highway and crashed into their car," the rabbi said. "We hold that God created a world that is bound together by certain physical laws. Those laws enable us to live and function. Gravity. Physics. And ultimately these laws enable us to have a certain predictability." We know if we drop something it will fall, even if it's a brick from a high rise that then falls on someone and kills them, Rosen said. "Those are accidents and not events that were planned by God," he said. "We don't believe God singled out the Berrys any more than he singled out a poor child to be born with a birth defect. God doesn't cause bad things to happen, but God is the strength within us to endure what happens and causes others to embrace us and love us."

 I keep reading that and liking the interpretation, but it doesn't total explain what we say, “penitence, prayer and good deeds can annul the severity of the decree.”

I guess one who goes to synagogue every year has to focus on the word “can” and not “will.”

We also must shift the focus to the fact that we control so little of what can happen to us, but we do control so much of what does happen. Much of our destiny is in our hands, and we repent for the sins that ruin our full potential to live as good human beings.

I’ve had this quote in my office from Rabbi Wolpe of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, …”Shall we foster disharmony or peace? Banality of beauty? Will the changes we contemplate for the New Year contribute to the worthiness and holiness of our lives? That is our task; may it prove to be our destiny.”

My goal for this year is to make changes that “contribute to the worthiness and holiness” of my own life and the lives of others around me.

No matter how hard it is.

Have a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here is a short film review I wrote for the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema on The Matchmaker.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Have you ever been to a wedding in Israel? I went to my first one a few weeks ago. I wrote about the similarities and differences here: http://www.oychicago.com/blog.aspx?id=20269&blogid=142

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What are those free trips to Israel REALLY like?

What is the deal with those free Israel trips? Find out here! Our Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim participants tell you their thoughts about their trips unedited and uncensored: http://bit.ly/pdxmtU

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tribute to Aunt Natalie

When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that my dad’s family all sounded like aliens. Their thick accents and the way they said my name, I knew they couldn’t be from this world. This was especially true of how I viewed Aunt Natalie. To me she was really, really tall, like six feet tall, and very, very intimidating.

I may have felt that way for a long time, except for one summer when I was seven or eight. We were visiting “out east” when my mom took ill and had to be hospitalized. I remember waking up, Aunt Natalie sitting on the bed and saying, “Sharna (insert accent) your mother’s in the hospital and you’re going to be staying here for a while. That’s ok with you?”

I just nodded thinking to myself, do I have a choice?

Although I felt scared about my mom and a little lonely for friends my age, hanging out with my 50 something aunt and uncle proved to be really awesome. The first time I ever tried honeydew melon was when Uncle Don brought it home one evening. I learned that people drink milk with their tea in Cherry Hill.

I swam every day in the pool and read books. But the best part I remember was touring around Philadelphia, walking in the steps of Benjamin Franklin and wondering why they didn’t fix the crack in the Liberty Bell. I credit the time that I spent there for my love of history; and it’s probably why I majored in it in college and taught it for seven years to high school kids.

Last year when my niece Talia had her bat mitzvah, Aunt Natalie asked if she could stay with me for a week so she could tour Chicago. I told her, of course. My friends were astounded, “your aunt in her mid 70s is staying with you?????” I told them that Aunt Natalie wasn’t really in her mid 70s, that was just her age. Until this month, Aunt Natalie had way more energy than I did. When she visited, I was working, and Aunt Natalie took advantage of seeing all of Chicago. She took the bus!!!!! and saw the museums, took an architectural boat tour and went shopping. She told me the only requirement that she had for her stay was that I have coffee and sweetener for her in the morning. Besides that she didn’t need me at all. When she found out my spare bedroom only had a blow up mattress, I had to threaten her so that she would let me sleep on it and give her my bed. At night we hung out, meeting my brothers and their families for dinner, and took walks along Broadway, talking about life.

While she was staying with me, she talked a lot about Robert, her nephew and my cousin who passed away from a brain tumor. She helped him and his family out during his illness. She told me and I’m sure some of you about Robert insisting on taking her out to dinner to the Cheese Cake Factory. She told me that the she had called ahead and although they didn’t take reservations, after explaining Robert’s situation, the manager set aside a table for them. She talked about the kindness of this manager for a really long time and I wondered why she was so enamored by what had happened.

Something that I learned about Aunt Natalie is how much she valued kindness, both the kindness of others and what an important virtue it was in her own life. Before going to dinner with my brother Eric’s family, she insisted we stop somewhere to buy the girls stickers, notebooks, and markers. I told her that she didn’t need to do that, but she insisted. So we were late to dinner and got the kids the gifts. When we arrived she handed them to the girls and they had big smiles on their faces and played with them during dinner.

She told me when she was staying with me how sitting with Robert and good friends through their illnesses made her firm in her own decisions about how she would handle any end of life decisions. I told her to stop being so morbid and she should cross that bridge when she gets there. She told me she just wanted me to know and also to tell my father and anyone else.

I told her I would. But I didn’t think it would be less than a year after her visit.

I last talked to Aunt Natalie two weeks ago. She didn’t really want to talk about her illness. Instead she wanted to hear about me, my brothers and their families. I told her I was keeping tabs on Donnie and she told me that she really, really appreciated that. I really didn’t think it would be the last time I would talk to her.

But one thing I did do while we went on a walk while she was in Chicago was thank her for taking care of Eric and me during that summer over 25 years ago. Because as an adult, here’s what I’ve learned: not everyone can or will do what needs to be done, even for family. My dad needed someone to watch over my brother and me while my mom recovered in the hospital, and I’m sure Aunt Natalie didn’t hesitate to take on the responsibility, even though we were her alien niece and nephew from the Midwest. She provided a fun, safe environment during a difficult time in a child’s life. Aunt Natalie worked, she had adult children, tons of friends, but she prioritized our welfare and wellbeing. She could have given my dad the number of a great babysitter, but she didn’t.

And I know, because of her, if anyone needed me to do the same I would.

Aunt Natalie, I am really going to miss you and will always remember the unconditional love you provided to a scared little girl a long time ago. May your memory be for a blessing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How we Mourn in the age of Social Media

This is my July post for Oy Chicago. It's about social media and the affect it has on how we mourn. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.oychicago.com/blog.aspx?id=9575&blogid=142

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dreams from this Weekend


I honestly don't know if this is compelling or not. But I do think my dreams are crazier than most people's. I won't be offended if you don't read.

If you have any analysis, feel free to share. :)

http://swordsweeperlady.blogspot.com/2011/07/dreams-from-this-weekend.html

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting Play List

My dad always says "it is what it is." This is only comforting if you know "what it is." Some of us are better at waiting than others. I'm not very good at it and as the waiting continues my psyche is deteriorating (see last post on being dramatic). Music is of comfort, as are ice cream bars, so with the help of several friends, I came up with a play list of sorts of songs about "waiting."

Enjoy or ruminate. Either way.  Thanks to Joe W., Marc W., Pat R., Jamie K. and Sean M. for your help compiling the list.

P.S. I feel guilty that I don't have any music by women or minorities. I guess for some reason these angsty white boys are clouding my mind. Don't they always?

P.P.S. If you have any additions (I cut out some bad 80s music from the list) place them in the comments section.

Hate it Here
Wilco




The Waiting
played by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and sung by Eddie Vedder!


I'm Waiting for The Man
Velvet Underground

Patience
 Guns N' Roses



Not Dark Yet
 Bob Dylan


Waiting
Green Day



This God Damn House
 The Low Anthem

With or Without You
 U2



Somewhere Only We Know
 Keane


Under My Thumb/ I am Waiting/ Paint it Black
Rolling Stones




Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes


I am the Walrus
The Beatles


Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
Jack Johnson (with Ben Harper)


Waiting for a Miracle
Jerry Garcia Band




Oh God Where Are You Now?
Sufjan Stevens


All of the trees of the Field will Clap Their Hands
Sufjan Stevens



Somebody to Shove
 Soul Asylum


Waiting for the Sun
The Doors


I'm the One Who Wants to Be With You
Mr. Big






Waiting for Somebody
Paul Westerberg


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Excavation Part 2

So first of all, I can't believe I wrote about this in April. I thought I last wrote about this last month. I think since I've been traveling so much lately that months and dates mean little to me. This may seem funny to my friends who know that I throw away food the second it says that it is expired.

I can honestly say until I looked down at my computer date clock just this second I had no idea what the day was.

Another reason time is unimportant is because I'm in my own purgatory right now. My coworkers will laugh at that term. "You're so dramatic. You're such a drama queen." And I am in my own way. I don't cause drama, or seek drama, but I tell stories or recall events in a very dramatic fashion. Just last week (exactly I think) I was at the airport in Warsaw, Poland telling a story. A random man stopped me and said, "I can tell you are a great educator because you are so dramatic in the way that you speak to your students." Then he gave me a thumbs up and went on his way.

Maybe he was my guardian angel, but I don't really think I have one, and if I do, it's not a random guy in Poland, rather my grandparents who I sometimes envision at my side holding me up.

I had that kind of vision was when I got engaged. He and I were walking around Lakeview, telling various  people who were most important to us in person. Through my smile I was terrified. Of what exactly, I don't know. Or maybe I do know and I did know. But through that terror, holding his hand, I could feel my Bubbie and Zadie holding me up. I know it sounds freaky, but it's what I felt.

There was a time during our engagement when he told me he didn't know if he wanted to get married anymore. It was an awful time. It was, well, purgatory. But every day I went to work, and every afternoon (almost) I went to the gym, and every week I talked to trusted friends who supported me every step of the way.

In the end, when it didn't work out, as I said in my previous post, I fled my apartment into a condo where I put boxes and boxes of things without sorting them. Since last July, when the relationship I am in now, was progressing, I began cleaning out those boxes albeit fearing what I would find that I haven't seen in seven years.

So I took down a plastic storage container tonight. It looked innocuous. Bills, and such. And then there it was. The book he made me. A bound book with emails from our relationship that ended with "Will you Marry me?" Inside the book were three pictures. I remember why I saved the pictures and the book. I remember thinking that one day, when my son or daughter's heart was really broken, I would tell them the story of my heart being obliterated (dramatic) and let them know that they would be better some day, just like I am.

One of the pictures is of him telling me something at a family bar mitzvah, and me laughing very hard. The second was of us at a friend's wedding. In both pictures I look very, very happy and beautiful. There were other pictures, too. One of me signing a friend's ketubah and me at her wedding. They are some of the few pictures I have of myself wearing the engagement ring that I gave back to him on a beautiful May day seven years ago.

Finding the book and  finding the pictures were something I feared for the last seven years. So how did I feel?

I felt like I was looking at artifacts. I liked seeing that smile. I liked the evidence that what happened to me was true, even though so many people encouraged me to forget about it. I'll never completely forget about it, even if should. I won't. For those who have memories that fade easier than mine, perhaps you are blessed. Although I don't think of myself as cursed.

Right now, this very second, I'm going through something similar that I went through when I was engaged and my exfiance told me he wasn't sure he wanted to marry me anymore. Actually, it's not similar at all, but in my head it feels similar.

I am waiting to hear from the U.S. government if my potential roommate will get his Visa. It is totally out of my hands. I am completely powerless. The decision is in a sealed envelope. When it is opened I have no idea what it will say.

Every single person (including him) is confident that it will be positive. I have spent the last 10 days carrying the same feelings I carried seven years ago: preparing for the worst. I've been increasing my trips to the gym, I've been meditating, and sometimes I will let someone know how much I'm suffering (dramatic) with anxiety

As for  that book and those pictures, I put them away. Because deep in my heart I know that I will someday have that conversation about heartbreak with my son and daughter during another excavation, at another time, in another home filled with love.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

21st Century Nervous Breakdown

Skype me
Follow Me
Blog it.
Comment!
Update!
Order it!
Are we Linked In? 
Invite me to Google +
Add as a friend
Become a fan
Add me to your circle
Wish me a Happy Birthday
Look at my photos.
Remember THAT?
Have you seen this?
Did you see it on Youtube?
That’s hysterical! Youtube it.
Submit an IREPORT.
IM Me.
Nintendo DS?
Wii.
GET AN XBOX
or a Playstation 3
an ANDROID!
Touch screen
Come to my event
Dig it
Favorite it
Pandora them
Save it in your Cloud
JDATE?
Eharmony?
Match?
Okayyyy Cupid!
Do it all online!
Share a spreadsheet on Google Docs
Add this app to your smart phone
Click here to donate to my charity
Click here to show your support
Follow The LATEST NEWS
Follow THE LATEST SCORES
Buy a MAC
Buy a PC
Buy an IPAD 2.
Kindle my Nook.
Just text me
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Livestream it
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Update your Software
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Suggest to your friends.
Hash tag #hunger to save the starving children!
Click! Groupon! Half Price! Now!
Tivo it.
DVR it.
Nextflix them.
Redbox where?
Sync. Sync. You need to Sync.
Don’t click that YOU’RE GOING TO GET A VIRUS
You must update.
You must restart.
You must shut down.
Fatal Error.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emotions and Social Networking Sites

In honor of Google +, I've tried to think of every possible reaction to postings on social network sites. Let me know if I missed any.  
Your baby is cute.


I’m so glad you moved.

You are funny, except when you insulted me on our first date.

Interesting article.

I love YouTube.

If it weren’t for your name, I wouldn’t remember you.

Drink plenty of fluids.

You are still married?

Good job!

No, I don’t own that.

Maybe I should change MY profile picture.

How do we know all those people in common?

That sucks!

I think your sprinkler might be on.

That’s great you got published. I’m still probably not going to read it.

You totally save the world.

You did NOT say that.

Feel better!

Did Hitler REALLY do that?

I’m not posting that on my profile.

It does suck that it’s closing.

You are moving? Again?

The situation in Syria is so messed up.

Everything now ends in geddon.

Is that a poorly veiled drug reference?

Man, your wife is a lucky woman.

She settled.

I totally went out with her new boyfriend from jdate.

She always posts great quotes!

Why are you writing in ALL CAPS?

Stop complaining. YOU wanted to move to the suburbs. That’s what you get.

Happy Birthday!

Yes, I do have recommendations.

So tragic!

I’ve been to that beach!

Man, I could never do a half marathon.

So, true, about the weather.

Why is that coming up on my profile?

Wow, I really don’t care.

Stop the misspellings!

Yummm, I love that place, too.

I don’t get it.

It must really be hard to be you.

You are reliving college.

You were always so nice in high school.

I don’t give a flying *#&@ about Harry Potter.

I am not an expert on electronics.

That looks like fun.

CUTTTEEEE

Yeah, I can go.

Do you think that maybe you’re an alcoholic?

You couldtotally sell that photo on Craig’s List or EBay.

I’m glad you like your cat.

I want that.
You are a fan of that team. Loser.

SHE’S on Facebook?

I’m glad that religion eases your fear.

Good job!

You always go to cool places.

I bet you are a good mom.

I’m not opening that photo album.

Have fun on your vacation!

Good night to you, too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

20+ books that I've enjoyed

This post is dedicated to Jennifer  Galet who has been a good friend to me for 13! years despite the distance between us. Her birthday is July 5, but I will be in Berlin, busy with 18 teenagers, so I don't know if I will be able to get in touch.

Jen is has asked me before for book recommendations (and she has given me many, too, one on this list was from her, I believe). So I thought this would be an ok gift.

So here's a list of books that I still think about. Many are new reads for me, some are not.

Happy Birthday, Jen!

And to my other book worm friends, I love you, too!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford
Historical Fiction

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Aimee Bender
Fantasy

Safe Haven
Nicholas Sparks
Quick Read

Stieg Larsson's books
Crime, Adventure

Fly Away Home
Jennifer Weiner
Quick Read

Little Bee
Chris Cleave
Novel

This is Where I Leave You
Jonathan Tropper
Dude Lit

Every Man Dies Alone
Hans Fallada
Historical Fiction

Women, Food and God
Geneen Roth
Self Help

Testimony: A Novel
Aneta Shreve
Quick Read

A Lesson Before Dying
Ernest J. Gaines
Historical Fiction, Civil Rights

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards
Novel

Will To Live
Adam Starkopf
Holocaust Memoir

Mila 18
Leon Uris
Historical Fiction

Unaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri
Short Stories

American Pastoral
Philip Roth
Novel

The Runaway Jury
John Grisham
Quick Read

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Anne Fadiman
Non fiction

The Inheritance of Loss
Kiran Desai
Novel

The Heidi Chronicles
Wendy Wasserstein
Plays

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde
Classic

Bread Givers
Anzia Yezierska
Historical Fiction

Taking Back the Artichoke

I struggle with my weight. I mean, I really struggle. I struggle too much, one (anyone) might say. I once told someone that if I had taken all the time I had spent worried about my weight, I could have cured cancer. (Put in there my mother, grandmother, aunt, cousins, we could have all cured AIDS and another couple of fatal diseases)
But the reality is I am a petite person who can’t eat as much as everyone else or I will be obese.

So, I struggle.

The best “diet” book I’ve ever reading is The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler.

What he says is that part of the problem with the American Diet is that we’ve taken foods and turned them into unrecognizable substances that create abnormal dopamine responses in our brains which leads to addiction.

I read the book a couple of years ago, so I’m not sure if he used this example, but one that would fit would be Spinach Artichoke Dip.

I don’t mean to diss on Spinach Artichoke Dip. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I could eat it, and eat it, and eat it. It’s so good. But it’s also fairly bad for you. Of course, it’s fine in moderation. But when one struggles with eating in moderation, spinach artichoke dip becomes a thousand calorie affair.

Spinach Artichoke Dip takes two healthy vegetables and devolves them into a high calorie, fat filled, mind blowing for some, indulgence. (Google the words "artichoke" and "recipe" and you'll only find the fat filled dips)

So today, I am taking back the artichoke. One reason I write is because artichokes are everywhere in the grocery store right now. I’m a little too lazy to cook an actual artichoke, but a lot of people enjoy the process.

Some people like artichokes in their salad, or marinated in balsamic vinegar. I can tolerate eating them like that, but I usually skip over them at the salad bar.

My first exposure to baked artichokes was in Israel during Passover at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. The food was delicious and I had never tasted artichokes that were so good without hot cheese. I asked my boyfriend’s mother how to make them. She told me and I replicated them tonight. They did not taste as good as hers, but they were yummy nonetheless because they are warm (like the dip), and have a fantastic texture.

Baked Artichokes

Ingredients:

17 ounces of dry artichoke hearts (2 cans)

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons paprika

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir.

Pour the mixture onto the artichokes (which should be in a separate bowl. All of the artichoke hearts should have some paprika on them.

Bake for 20 minutes. Pour into serving dish including any of the mixture that is left in the pan.

Serve. Side dish for 4.

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jonathan Pollard

Before you start demanding that President Obama allow convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to attend his father's z'l funeral, I want you to answer the following questions.

1. What was Mr. Pollard's relationship with his parents before he was incarcerated?

2. Has he spoken to or refused to speak to his parents while has incarcerated?

3. How did he respond to his parents lifelong attempts to grant him clemency?

4. Has he allowed his parents to visit him while he was in jail?

5. Did he petition George W. Bush to see his mother while she was on her death bed or to go to her funeral?

6. Before his parents were deathly ill, did Jonathan Pollard allow them to visit him in prison or wish to see them?

7. Who are the family members making the death bed requests?

7. Do all prisoners, no matter their status, have the right to a. visit their parents on their death beds  b. attend their funerals?

Answer the above questions. After learning the answers, please protest or don't.  Dr. Pollard was a brilliant scientist. His scientific findings were never based on "truthiness." I think he would expect the same from his son's supporters.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Tribute to Mr. Gross

As a young history teacher, I was always using the latest teaching techniques/overcompensating for my youth. Meanwhile, next door was Mr. Gross, telling the students about the Constitutional Convention as if he had been there and reading from the Gettysburg address as if he had given it. While I taught about WWI he presented the Civil Rights Movement as a primary source, someone who had heard Martin Luther King’s  most famous speech perched from a tree on the Mall and rode buses South on “Freedom Rides,” literally risking his life for a cause he believed in.

Mr. Gross and I were cosponsors of the U.S. Politics Club. While our own political movements were being quashed, we still watched with glee as our students developed a love and passion for politics.

Mr. Gross loved the Chicagoland Jewish High School. When the school moved to Deerfield I could not manage the commute. Mr. Gross, twice my age, arrived at school for morning minyan every day on time with his tefillin wrapped waiting for the first student to say the first prayer of the morning.

I imagine many of the prayers spoke to him. For Mr. Gross, the school was Ma Tovu.

How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!
And I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You.
O Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory.
Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.
But, as for me, may my prayer to You, O Lord, be in an acceptable time. O God, with Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation.

For him the blessings of the morning also must have held significance, particularly the Birkot Hashahar. While I could not, would not, relate to the blessings, I now read them from Mr. Gross’ vantage point, and understand his piety from a different perspective; from the point of view of someone who had seen our own country during the turbulent times of the 1960s.


Praised are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe,
Who enables His creatures to distinguish between night and day.
Who made me in His image.
Who made me a Jew.
Who made me free.
Who gives sight to the blind.
Who clothes the naked.
Who releases the bound.
Who raises the downtrodden.
Who creates the heavens and the earth.
Who provides for all my needs.
Who guides us on our path.
Who strengthens the people Israel with courage.
 Who crowns the people of Israel with glory.
 Who restores vigor to the weary.
 Who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids

Working for a new school has its ups and downs. Mr. Gross rarely complained, if at all. While many of the teachers (I) and students griped about everything and anything, he quietly fulfilled his duties in the classroom and more, attending many of the boys basketball games and other after school activities.

But he always told me when I came to visit the school how much he missed me and how much I was missed. No one else really said that because it’s just not something you say when a teacher leaves a school, unless it’s for retirement or they move. Mr. Gross always expressed his admiration for my spirited discourse while I envied his calm wisdom that I knew that I lacked.

Mr. Gross touched the lives of so many people, including my own. I still owe him five bags of chocolate candy that I took from the bowl sitting on his desk.

And to his students who are very sad today, you should know, he loved you all, no matter your academic prowess. And to Michael, Victor and Danny, he felt blessed to have such caring students who tried to help him with his health. You probably gave him, and all of us, more time, which is incredibly precious.

I would say that if Mr. Gross wanted anything from his students it would be to live a righteous life as he did, and in the face of adversity, to always do what’s right.

And to fulfill your dreams.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

May her Memory Be for a Blessing

When I was a teacher at the Chicagoland Jewish High School, one of the many classes I taught was Western Civilization. The students in the class weren't the most academically excited (at the time), but they were all smart and unique in their own ways.

We had the best time in this class. And I was a hard teacher. I made them write in-class essays, in-depth research papers, and learn a ton of history. One of the students in that class was Skye Miller. Skye was 4'10 or 4'11, which I liked because I am 5 feet tall. She was a vegan and would frequently come to class with egg and dairy free cookies and brownies that tasted like heaven.

Skye was smart. She didn't always apply herself, but she was very aware of that. When she didn't do her homework or didn't study for a test, she didn't make excuses, she just explained that she had other priorities, whatever they were. Some teachers would call this chutzpa, I liked the honesty. When she focused, she learned at a high level. When she was prepared, her writing was insightful and elegant. She was a wonderful student to have in class.

I really got to know Skye as the advisor of the school's literary journal. Skye and her brother bought an authentic hipster element to the class (Skye would think that description was an exaggeration) that we all craved but couldn't provide. One of my favorite memories of her was taking charge of Open Mic Night, helping with the decorations. With the help of others in the class, she took the old student lounge and transformed it to a poet's paradise. The room was serene yet lively filled with colorful pillows and lava lamps.

The atmosphere was one of openness, so much so that I, who never really does or did so, read something that I had written in front of the students. It was a memorable event, like her, one that cannot be replicated in time or space.

Skye decided to transfer to a different school. She needed a change of scenery. I didn't agree with but did support Skye's change of venue, recommending her to an advanced humanities class at her new school.

When I learned of Sky's illness, a rare Cancer, I visited her a few times and spoke to her a few times, although not enough and I regret that.

But I know Skye wouldn't want me to dwell on my guilt. "It's cool, Ms. Marcus. It's ok." That's what I hear from her on this sad night as I picture her beautiful blue eyes of kindness that shone upon all of us for too brief of a time.

 Skye and I liked some of the same music. This is the song that comes to mind as I think of her now.

If I Could by Phish
Take me to another place, she said 
Take me to another time 
Run with me across the oceans 
Float me on a silver cloud 

If I could I would, but I don't know how 
If I could I would, but I don't know how 
If I could I would and I'd take you now 

Stay with me till time turns over 
I want to feel my feet leave the ground 
Take me where the whispering breezes 
Can lift me up and spin me around 

If I could I would... 
Hear you laughing as we go 
Flipping backward through the doors and through the windows...
I'm melting into nothing
 If I could I would, but I don't know how If I could I would, but I don't know how
To Skye's wonderful family, who cared for her with so much love

HaMakom yenachem et'chem b'toch shar avay'lay Tzion vee'Yerushala....
May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blog of Dreams

This may be a big year for me. I also am a person who has a lot of crazy dreams. I think this equation will be many more crazy dreams. So I will chronicle them here: http://swordsweeperlady.blogspot.com/

I don't think I will advertise this as much as Scarpeta, because my dreams are really intense and crazy.

However, they will be here (I hope I follow through) for you to read.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sex

One of the best parts of Judaism is sex.

It’s not forbidden and there isn’t as much guilt around it as there is in other religions.

It’s a good thing, because sex is everywhere from relationships consummated on t.v. with the couple blissfully wrapped in sheets to internet pornography that shows more than everything and anything.

However, despite sex as an entertainment phenomenon, and religiously sanctioned, what is still lagging behind is truthful understanding and frank conversation about the actuality of having sex including the physical and emotional complications.

Sex in the City brought women’s sexuality to a place on the table that it had never been, but again, besides Charlotte’s first marriage, sex was as easy as cake.

The expectation that sex happens as it does on t.v. or in pornography just isn’t realistic and sets couples up for failure and a lack of tools to cope with dysfunction in a female or male.

Why is sex, and I mean real sex, still not talked about? It may be studied at places like the famous www.kinseyinstitute.org/, but studied and discussed are separate entities. I wonder if there are no forums to discuss sex because everyone assumes everybody knows everything from popular culture.I’ve started reading an anonymous blog entitled http://unconsummated.blogspot.com/ . It is written by a young woman who is 24, a virgin, and is unable to consummate her marriage. She has been married for a year and is suffering from a condition I had never heard of before called Vaginismus. She explains this all in her blog, but what’s clearer than the problem itself is the isolation she has felt for most of the year she has been suffering from it and the lack of preparation she felt before having sex for the first time.

Some of the readers have blamed this on her religious upbringing. I don’t agree with that. There are so many men and women who suffer from sexual dysfunction whose religious morals don’t dictate their sex life.

I’m not a scientist or therapist, but I have a very open relationship with many of my friends and this is what I most frequently hear about:

sexless marriages
inability to orgasm
male impotency
lack of female desire

I also didn’t mention that I’m not 100 years old either. I’m in my 30s and my friends are my age and younger.

Where is the discourse? Who do you turn to?

Some might answer http://drruth.com/ or http://www.talksexwithsue.com//. Others might recommend http://www.shmuley.com/.

The truth is, I’m not sure anyone can solve their sex problems from a web site, book or magazine. This may be an issue of a breakdown in community. Who can you talk about these things with when most of our non-partner human contact is through Facebook? Also, it’s hard to find a place where people aren’t putting up fronts and will be honest about their sexuality.

What’s my non professional suggestion? Sexual dysfunction can be caused by a medical problem, so it wouldn’t hurt to consult a doctor. However, expectations regarding a doctor’s ability to provide emotional support should be kept to a minimum. They are not trained to increase your sexual self esteem.

To combat serious problems in the Chicago Area, the following program was recommended by someone who trained there. It is a Sex Clinic at Loyola University Hospital:

Since its inception in 1972, Loyola's Sex Clinic in Loyola Outpatient Center has treated approximately 3,000 married couples and has trained more than 3,000 professionals. Married couples with sexual problems are provided seven weeks of couples counseling by a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, including specialists in psychiatry, psychology, gynecology, urology, family medicine, nursing and social work. Single patients also are counseled individually or in a six-week all-female or all-male, small-group setting. To schedule an appointment with a Loyola physician, call toll-free (888) LUHS-888 and ask for extension 6-3752 (ttp://www.loyolamedicine.org)

And this is just a great clip from a great movie.
 
 

If Alanis Morissette were to write a song about Israel...

I’ve been in Israel a lot lately. It’s very much a privilege that I get to go so often for work and for personal reasons. A lot of people I know have never been here. They always ask me, “what’s it like?”


Israel is amazing. But there are probably more than a million people who can tell you about that and why, and I think I’ve even written about it before, too.

However, after a while you begin to note the ironies and paradoxes here that can make your head spin. Better writers than I have written prolifically on this subject. Consider this a medium quality addendum to their literature and poetry.

In Israel…

Men in their 20s and 30s drive on motor scooters driving out of control fast (even on the sidewalks) while the elderly speed in their wheel chairs down busy streets causing traffic jams.

An entire country will stop to mourn a fallen soldier, yet a young person killed in a traffic fatality is just another Friday night.

Interracial harmony exists between Jews and Jews. Less integration exists among Jews and Arabs except in the hotels of Jerusalem.

Women feel underdressed in Jerusalem wearing jeans and not a long skirt and overdressed in Tel Aviv without a tank top and short skirt.

The cleaning woman doesn’t speak Hebrew, but speaks fluent English.

The doctor treating an only English speaking patient only speaks Russian and Hebrew.

Stores are never open, except when they are.

The God of everyone lives in Jerusalem, but everyone has a different prophet and he is the best one.

A woman dressed in full Muslim garb practices driving with the Hebrew letter lamed (learner) prominently displayed while her sister in Saudi Arabia is arrested for even trying to drive.

Doctors strike yet continue to provide great medical care, in a socialized health care system.

Some tourists intensely listen to their tour guide while a few think about when is their next chance to hook up, get drunk and/or become more tan.

If you drive in Jerusalem on Shabbat you will get screamed at by little Haredi kids yelling, “Shabbas.” Yet still they and their parents move to the side and let you through without incident.

Gay marriage is recognized, as long as you get married somewhere else where gay marriage is legal.
The boy you danced Stairway to Heaven with at a BBYO dance is now unrecognizably right wing and lives in a settlement.

The Biggest communication problems with your boyfriend’s parents is not being able to communicate with them in Hebrew.

Eating high calorie breakfasts feels healthier than eating nothing for breakfast at home. ( Although I haven’t stepped on a scale.)

A Chicagoan is happy that it’s hot out, but stays out of the sun for fear of skin damage.

Some men over 40 wear earrings, sport ponytails and wear kippot.

The liberal Rabbi preaching tolerance says in the next breath he wouldn't attend a mixed marriage wedding, even if it were his brother's.

Young Haredi girls wear clothes for a Chicago November on hot scorching day.

Rabbi Shmeli Boteach is the only person The Jerusalem Post could find to defend Barack Obama.

Journalists are free to cover the Syrian conflict from the safety of Tel Aviv.

There are Shabbat Elevators so people who observe the Sabbath don't have to actually press any buttons. Only the elevators are so loud, that it's hard to rest because the doors are opening and closing constantly.

You can put anything in a pita, except pasta.

What would you add?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Excavation

In July or August, God Willing (sorry to get religious on you, but I’m not certain it will happen until it happens) I will have a “roommate.” And although I have had roommates before, I haven’t had one in seven years and never one of this sort.

To prepare, I have been going through old things and throwing out what I need and don’t need to make room for said roommate and his belongings. However, he won’t have many belongings, so this task isn’t actually physically necessary, but more spiritually so.

Cleaning for me is like losing weight. If I plan to do it, I never will. So I take advantage of spurt of energy and motivation (which is usually just procrastination of something else I don’t want to be doing) and go through the large plastic cartons I must have bought from Target years ago.

I hate moving, and for someone my age who is not married, I haven’t moved all that much. But when I moved seven years ago I felt like a fugitive. Very quickly I had to leave a place where I was living with roommates (one who was my brother who was getting married and moving into a house with his wife) find a somewhere to live and settle in. The funny thing about this is that for at least six months prior, I knew I’d be moving, but I thought I’d be moving to Israel with my then fiancĂ©. However, I never made a plan for the interim, which I don’t understand. I had no plan from June 1-September 1.  This makes me wonder if this is yet another sign that perhaps deep, deep down I knew I wasn’t going to be moving to Israel and I wasn’t going to be getting married.

[In honor of the last day of Passover, perhaps the Hebrews deep down knew they would be fleeing from Egypt, but still put bread in the oven just in case Pharaoh changed his mind again.]

So when I moved out of my brother’s condo in June of 2004 I didn’t clean out much of anything, just placed unnecessary remnants in plastic containers, and maintained this pattern since. I’m not a hoarder or anything, but as I sort through the big plastic boxes of documents, bills and sometimes random items, I’m forced to confront my past.

Since I started cleaning (which was embarrassingly enough last August – I know, I know, like I said, it’s not my strength) the boxes are (not surprisingly) stacked in order of years like an archaeological dig. This is accidental, because if I had an organizational prowess, I wouldn’t have the stacks in the first place.  So today I cleaned 2007. What I found (of interest):

1.  My parents’ trusts
2. All of the manuals to my kitchen appliances and car
3.       A pearl necklace. The box makes it look like it’s valuable. Who gave me a pearl necklace in 2007?  
4.       A wrist radio that I worked out with (I know that sounds like 1997, but it was in there).
5.       The medal from riding the M.S. 150.

This week In Israel, my roommate-to-be explained to me the process of construction in the country. (I knew this already, but because he is a tour educator he sometimes adds interesting facts, which he did.) Because there are so many artifacts, all construction is stopped and delayed if any antiquities are found during the process of digging. Once the site has been properly excavated and recorded, construction can continue. This makes the process of building anything in Israel long and arduous (also add in the nightmarish bureaucracy)

It makes me laugh to hear people complain about the amount of time it’s taking to open a Trader Joe’s on Clark and Diversey, just as it makes others laugh that it’s taken me 7 months to go through four years of boxes.

What can I say? I guess I’m on Ramses II's time table.  


Friday, April 8, 2011

An idea for Health Care Reform that won't piss everyone off



Health care reform in the not for profit community (NFP) is a hot button and divisive issue. However, no matter the cost, many people prioritize health insurance. Many organizations, often to their financial peril, offer health insurance to their employees. Some simply cannot due to their small size.

However, over the last decade, health care costs have skyrocketed, which have put all NFPs in a difficult decision: fund the goals of their mission or fund their employees’ health benefits. It’s a sad predicament, one that drives people out of the NFP sector or if they have benefits, keeps them at a job too long because even though they are burnt out, they can’t move to another NFP that doesn’t offer health insurance.

NFP professionals, who at least in the mid and lower levels have always been women, at some point were probably expected, with a few exceptions here and there, to use their husbands’ health
insurance plans for medical care. However, as social paradigms have changed (women aren’t married, or are marrying later) and the economy has faltered (men don’t have benefits either), the stress of health
insurance could, sorry for the bad pun, make someone sick.

Until health care reform is resolved either way, why can’t we pool every (insert state) NFP’s resources into one health insurance plan.  The premiums would then be divided among every NFP throughout Illinois based on the number of employees insured.
If this conglomeration is too large, at least allow NFPs to band together until they reach 100 employees to be able to offer affordable health care. This could allow groups from across the NFP spectrum to reduce their health insurance costs and not have to decide between educating 10 more children or insuring their employees.

Since this concept is illegal, and it shouldn’t be, perhaps that is a public policy we could all agree on. (If not, let me know why, I’m curious).

What do you think and how can we make this happen? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What do you think of this plan for Israel?

I met with a 73 year old Israeli who is an expert in the Middle East. He was there in pre state Palestine during the Jerusalem siege; he fought in Abu Tor during the Six Day War. He was a tour guide and an outstanding person. Much of this is what he thinks this should be the final peace between Israel and the Palestinians and to keep the state of Israel a modern state.  There are some elements of this that are from other people as well. I may or may not agree with these ideas, so don't attack me personally, please. I'm just putting it out there.

What do you think?


  • Pre 67 borders with a few adjustments (Maale Adumim)
  • Jerusalem run by its local population with IDF security for 50 years
  • All international border security controlled by IDF for 50 years.
  • Settlers  financially  incentivized  to live in the North or South. All moving costs covered.
  • Jerusalem home owners must either live there or have renters. Show proof of habitation at least 8 months/year.
  • High Speed Train from Gaza to West Bank.
  • Israeli Arabs can stay with full citizenship rights.
  • Creation of Civil Marriage.
  • Only 1800 yeshiva students exempt/year from army or national service.
  • In order to qualify for child tax credits, incentivize Haredim to work 20 hours/week.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Answers to your questions: what it's like to be 35 and single

Today marks seven years since I was given a new lease on life. It also coincides with one of the worst and saddest days I've ever experienced.  However, sometimes the worst personal calamities are - long term - life's biggest gifts.That's not to say that the pain from that that time didn't linger, It has at times it mutated like a antibiotic resistant bacteria, hardly recognizable from the original disease, but clearly originating from the primary sickness.If you were to ask me seven years ago, I would have told you that for sure after the breakup that I would bounce back, fall in love again, be married, and have kids by now. For a myriad of reasons, that hasn't happened. And as I approach my 35th birthday, the gulf that divides me from my married friends, those of my parent's generation widens and widens.
I asked for people's questions about "what it's like to be single and almost 35" because I do sometimes feel like a freak to my friends and to my parents' friends - a lovable, cute, funny freak, but still a freak. So I thought I'd answer some questions to bridge the divide.  I requested questions from my Facebook friends, twitter followers and Scarpetta readers. Here are their questions, and here are my answers. I don't speak for every single woman, just myself.



I have a few single friends in their 30s. In my 20s I used to set them up with single guys all the time just in the spirit of going out and meeting someone new. Now I figure if they want to be set up they'll ask. Is this the best approach.

I think one of the biggest issues with set ups is that sometimes married people set up single people based on no evidence of compatibility other than the fact that the two people are single. If you set up your friends thoughtfully, I think it's welcome whether you are 25 or 70. 



I have a question...when I was single I drank a lot more than I do now that I'm married. Do you drink as much now vs. your 20s?

I have reduced my drinking considerably over the past two years, and specifically over the past year. One is for financial reasons and two is because I found that almost every poor decision I have ever made was while inebriated. I rarely have more than 1 or 2 drinks if I go out. Not drinking also has it's negative side. It has definitely made me less "fun" and I go out less. This leads to a bit of isolation, which isn't great either. 



As a 35 year old never-been-married single mom, I find that I don't really fit in anywhere socially. I can't hang out with my old friends who don't have children because their schedules are completely different and we no longer have anything in common. Then the married with children couples I meet, tend to shy away from me. I'm still a little baffled by this rejection, but it continues to occur. I'm guessing people only want to be friends with people exactly like them, meaning 3's a crowd. What do you think?

I'm not sure why married people wouldn't want to hang out, but I know I'm guilty of not wanting to hang out with married couples with kids frequently. A very small part of it is jealousy induced depression. My friends are living the life that I thought that I would have. Part of it is that it's hard to have a conversation with someone who is only half listening to you because their focus, as it should be, is on their husband and kids. My friends who are married with kids are cognizant of this and sometimes I'll meet just my girlfriend out for dinner, or my girlfriend and her husband, and sometimes I come by their home to hang out with them and the kids. It's all about balance. As for married people who don't want to hang out with a single mom, I have no idea what to tell you. I think focusing on the mom friendships vs. the couple friendships would make more sense. 

I do wish I spent more time with my married friends who have kids. I miss them, a lot. 


To what extremes have you gone to get a date (online, speed dating, etc.)?

I've been on jdate, eharmony, match, some Jewish set up service. None of them were for me, but I think they are great and a lot of relationships come from them. I don't think any of these things are considered extreme anymore, though. My current relationship is with someone I was friends with first for a year and then we moved into something more. 



Biological clock concerns?

Yes, of course I have them, but I'm not driven by them. I would like kids, but I realize with every passing year it will become more difficult to have them naturally. I hope that I will be blessed with them, but I don't know that I will take it into my own hands (sperm donor) or adopt without a partner. I can't rule anything out at this point. 



Why don't you just write about how being a single-ish woman in your 30s has ceased to have negative cultural cachet?

I'm glad that you think it has ceased. In my (Jewish) community, though, that is not the case. It is antithetical to Judaism to not have a family when the first commandment in the Bible is to procreate. There also isn't room for celibacy like there is in the Catholic Church with nuns and priests. It's not that single women are ostracized, but we are looked at like we are suffering from a disability or disease. 


I do think in the Bourgeoisie secular world, being single and in your 30s isn't that big of a deal and is even glamorized. I don't reside their much, though. 



Maybe you can discuss how social media/fb has impacted being single. Like, how one just used to hang out with people with similar lifestyles/interests and now everyone's "friends" post annoying (well, what i can only assume is annoying to non-kids people) updates on their kids. Oh, and someone in your comment thread mentioned that the married are probably envious of the singletons. I don't think that generalization is any truer than to assume that singletons are jealous of married and/or parents.

I know that there are people who are single who have quit Facebook because they get too depressed by seeing all of their friends documenting their married lives with beautiful children etc. I also know married people who aren't or won't join Facebook because they aren't in happy marriages and/or they have difficult kids and do not have the energy to put up a facade. I also know people who are unhappily married with and without kids who post on Facebook to provide more false documentation of a happy life. 


I personally like to see my friends who are married and with kids on Facebook. It's fun to see how my friends have evolved as parents, and because I love kids, I like to see the pictures and read the cute things their friends say.  What I find most annoying from someone who is single or married is a lot of bitching about their lives. 


I agree, generalizations aren't great to make. But I would guess the adage "the grass is always greener" is probably true, at least some times. 



All I know is that there are so many women in this situation and don't want to be in it...How much of the problem is with men, in general, who don't want to commit? And, how much falls on the shoulders of women who give men too much in hopes that they will commit -- only to be let down? It's very frustrating for all my single girl friends...

There is an article that was written by Tracy McMillan titled Why You are not Married. I know it offended a lot of feminists, but I found that for myself it was pretty much dead on. I realized some of what she said before I read the article, but I wish I would have realized her points a long time ago, or at least embraced them. 


As for men, I don't pretend to understand why they will or will not commit. If I were to guess, I would say that sometimes they just don't like a woman that much or find her too clingy or annoying. (I myself have been guilty of being too clingy). But usually, I would say, that the answer to that question often has very little to do with any individual woman that they are dating and rather where they are in their own lives, baggage from their parent's marriage, or other self esteem issues.  



If anyone agrees/disagrees with anything I've said, I welcome your comments. Or if you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer them.