Monday, May 18, 2015

Teenagers are the worst: A Bat Mitzvah Review

Cousin Em was Bat Mitzvah'd this weekend in Chapel Hill. I've been looking forward to this for over a year now. Em and I have always been close; when the husband and I first moved back to NC and weren't working, we'd stay at her house for weeks at a time and babysit. I've been making jokes for awhile that I'll probably cry at some point because "Sunrise, Sunset" in Fiddler on the Roof:

I was *shocked* to find that Miss I-turned-13-last-week is suddenly a TEENAGER. And not just any teenager, but a teenage girl. And even worse, a spoiled teenage girl. She was a nightmare! Simpering one minute, playing hilarious "pranks" the next. Noodles in my hair. Wet paper towels thrown over the bathroom door. Sassiness out the hoohah. After dinner Friday, I was ready to skip the whole thing and just go home. I'd spent so much to make this weekend special and she didn't appreciate it or really seem to care I was there.

Her party was fancier and larger than my wedding. Her parents rented out an entire museum for the occasion and had the party full catered (including, awesomely, dinner from local food trucks). There were hundreds of people in attendance. Em was dolled up (the old lady in me wanted to scold her for the blue eye shadow) and outfitted in a fancy dress.

As I watched her interact with her friends, I begin to think about my own eventual children and how this is not what I want for them. I know that 13 year old girls are probably rarely delightful, but think about how much worse it is when you give them EVERYTHING THEY WANT plus some. Of course the family is proud of Em becoming a bat mitzvah, and of course there should be a celebration. But renting out a museum and inviting hundreds of people? It's a bit extreme.

I don't know if my children will even be bar or bat mitzvah'd... but I do know that if they are, we won't be using Em's weekend as a template. Except for a hour we spent at the synagogue Saturday morning, there was no meaning attached to anything except gimme, gimme, gimme for Em. Even her mitzvah project, helping coach her little brother's sports team, didn't seem significant. Was Em ever taught to give back in a meaningful way during this experience? Did she understand just how lucky she is to belong to a community that loves and supports her, and a family that shows their love in such a public and expensive way?

I imagine a low key bat mitzvah experience. I see a celebration, but not one that costs the same as my graduate degree. A small dinner with family and close friends, a mitzvah project that will have a lasting impact on the child, and a limit on gifts. Perhaps the child could pick a nonprofit and donations could be made instead of the kid getting another piece of jewelry that she won't be allowed to wear until she's older.

Cynical is my middle name and all, but I'm feeling morose that I was left with such a bad taste in my mouth after a family event. Em has a wonderful family and I adore her mother. I know that she felt very special all weekend and that she'll never forget this experience. I just want more than that for my kids, if they choose to participate in Judaism.

Plus, a party that size on a social worker's salary? Never happening, sweet child of mine.

Further reading:
"But I am a little concerned about the big picture. What’s the point of having a bat mitzvah—a symbolic ceremony marking the time when a girl becomes a Jewish adult, fully responsible for her own actions and choices—if she’s going to focus more on the clothes and the party than the ritual? Why choose to do exactly what everyone else does, with the only individualization being the theme colors, the degree of showiness, and the amount of pupik shown by both the bat mitzvah girl and her mother? The ungapatchka same-sameness seems particularly sad when you consider how hard individual girls and women worked to win the right to celebrate this milestone at all."
From Tablet Mag

Million Dollar Bar Mitzvah Parties

Friday, May 8, 2015

{7QT} Things My Cat Should Get Me For Mother's Day

This is the love of my life, Giles.

He's not quite a year old, sassy, snuggly, bitey sometimes, and so freaking adorable that it's our favorite topic of conversation. "Isn't Giles soooo cute?" "He's SO cute." "I just want to eat him, he's so cute." Andddd, repeat.
I've been asking the husband for days what Giles has planned for Mother's Day for me. I might not have human babies (yet) but I'm definitely his mama. I have a feeling this isn't enough to warrant a card and gift, but here's 7 things that my cat should get me for Mother's Day if he wants me to continue dealing with his vomit and antics.

1. A custom illustrated portrait... how adorable is this?
InkLaneDesign on Etsy
2. A hot stone massage... but a good one. Not from a chain like Massage Envy, no way. I want the spa experience. I really love Hand and Stone Massage in Greensboro/Winston Salem.

3. A tiny embroidery necklace... I love Call Her Happy (Etsy) and even purchased a custom rosette necklace for my grandma for Mother's Day. This cat necklace is so sweet and would remind me that despite his obvious goal of infecting me with cat scratch fever, Giles loves me.

4. An "Avengers" skirt... no, this movie wasn't as good as the last, but I for whatever reason am super into the Avengers. I especially love Black Widow and it pains my heart that we don't have a Black Widow film because I need to see it. I need to know her story! I guess I could probably just google it. This cheery print would make me feel happy and silly and like I too am a crime fighting superhero.

From the Etsy shop PicknMix
5. Uninterrupted time to watch Orphan Black... I'm in the middle of the second season (streaming for free on Amazon with Prime!) and it's one of the best series I've ever seen. Cults, bioethics, clones... it just keeps getting more and more interesting.

6. Expensive beauty products that I don't really need... specifically, I want Blinc mascara. It's more expensive than I spend on mascara typically but it also creates LITTLE TUBES AROUND EACH EYELASH. I don't even understand what that means, but I want to try it.

7. Snuggles without scratching... if you have a kitten, you understand. He's cute but deadly.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms! I'm taking my mom, grandma, and aunt to dinner Saturday and to the movies Sunday. Then I have another grandmother to visit who is in rehab after surgery AND the husband's side of the family. It's always a busy day!

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What We're Reading Wednesday

I recently finished a Veronica Mars binge. I somehow missed watching it as a teenager/younger adult but I still found it hilarious and oddly charming today. In the span of a few weeks, I watched the entire series, the film, AND read the two books.

If you watched the show, then you need to read the books. Each book was like watching an episode of Veronica Mars! I was actually impressed; I expected them to be lacking but they really weren't. I could really *hear* the characters through the dialogue and writing. Now I'm just recovering from learning that there won't be a third book. WHYYYYY?
Currently reading:

I want to like this book. It's written by Lorelai Gilmore Lauren Graham, who I loved on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. But... I've had it for 2 weeks and I've only read a few pages. For some reason, I'm just not excited about it. I'm going to try to finish it, I owe Lorelai that much.

This novel, on the other hand, has my full attention. It's a really interesting concept, and one that would have shaken my world if I'd read it as a young adult (you know, like it's intended). Vivian Apple is a unbeliever in a world that is obsessed with a made-up religion. Everyone from the President of the US, to her parents, to her former friends are believers and anticipate the rapture in the near future. The story explains what happens after the rapture actually happens. So far, Vivian has moved to a different city with her grandparents (also unbelievers) but I sense she's going to leave. What I found interesting from the beginning is that in a world of 90% believers, only a few thousand are raptured. What a smart point the author is making!

Linking up with the lovely House Wife Spice!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Summer Bucket List

Hello, there. I used to blog here, and I blogged here a lot last year when I was going through a particularly unpleasant bout with depression. Hopefully one day I can write in detail about it, but for now, I'm relishing in simply feeling SO! MUCH! BETTER! and working on rebuilding a few things I let slide during my depression- namely, my marriage and my career.

I've reverted all my old posts to drafts and hope to go back through and republish a few that I feel comfortable sharing. Maybe!

The truth is, I miss blogging. It's fun, and it's really helpful for me to share my brain and life with the lovely people of the Internet, and I missed it.

It's finally summer and here are a few things I insist on doing while the sun is still shining until 8:00 pm (also known as... an hour before my bedtime).

1. Spend a few days at the beach. (VA Beach, July) Not to get all cheesy, but the beach is really healing for me. There are nothing but good memories of the beach and spending time there with friends and family. My poor husband doesn't love the beach (he's a freak that way) but he'll suffer through a few days of sand and heat for me. I don't even have a particular beach I want to go to... I just want to go! Whatever is closest to us will probably be it.

2. Visit Grammy in the mountains. The husband's grandmother, affectionately named Grammy, spends her summers in Western North Carolina. This is the first time she'll be packing up and moving her home base hours away since her husband, our Poppy, died last Thanksgiving. So, I want to visit her for us (because we love Boone) and also to check in on her.

3. Read at least one nonfiction book. I read about 100 books a year, and I'd say 70% of them are young adult fiction. I used to be really into nonfiction, but it can be hard to read when you use books as a means of escape. I'd like to start and finish at least one this summer! I've checked out my Goodreads and found the following on my list of To Reads but I'm definitely open to suggestions!

4. Protest something at a... protest.
5. Whitewater raft at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

6. Spend a day at the museums in Raleigh.

7. Try at least two new restaurants. (July!)

8. Get some purple in my hair. Purple is my favorite color and I wish I was brave enough to have beautiful lavender hair. Alas, I am not and I'm also not wealthy enough to deal with the upkeep! But that isn't going to stop me from putting some purple in my hair at some point this summer!

9. Go two consecutive days without spending any money. I'm out all day from 9ish-5ish. It's hard to remember to bring everything I could possibly want to eat and drink during that time... so I spend a lot of money. It's really terrible! Today, for example, I've had lunch out and I'm having dinner out. It needs to stop!

10. Attend 3 different places of worship. As the "skeptical" in my name suggests, I'm an atheist. We're Jewish atheists, to be exact. I've always been interested in and fascinated by different religions and I've been to all kinds of places of worship. It's been years since I've been to a Catholic mass (and there's a lovely church down the street from work) so that's a given, and I would *love* to attend a service at Word of Faith Fellowship. They've been in the news recently for being batshit crazy and kidnapping a gay teen. Right up my alley. (Bat mitzvah service, 5/16/15)

11. Have a hotdog at a baseball game. I don't even like baseball or hotdogs, but something about the two together is magical. (Work event, May)

12. Learn something new. A fact, a skill, whatever.

13. Attend at least one book signing. I collect signed books and need to add to my collection! (Sara Benincasa, July)

14. Go to a drive in movie. This used to be a monthly activity during the summers of my youth. I want to bring this back!

15. Have a picnic.

Thanks for stopping by!