Friday, October 29, 2004

Baby Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

This is not my day. Maybe someone killed a fruitfly in Malaysia, and it disrupted the cosmic balance. Whatever the reason, I have been completely out of it all week, and it's all come to a head today.

This morning, the bus doors tried to kill me. Once I wrestled them open, I almost fell off the bus. I don't even know how it happened. One moment, I was on the bus. The next moment, I was hurtling towards the ground. However, my catlike reflexes enabled me to land on my feet.

When I got to work, I showed the security guards my house keys instead of my ID badge. I don't know what I was hoping to accomplish. So then I had to fish through my rather large shoulder bag in search of my ID, while the guard tried not to snicker.

Five minutes ago, my boot heel fell off. I sat down at my desk, and it just slid off the end of my boot. I could probably fix it with SuperGlue, if I had any. Since I don't, I used clear nail polish instead. It works on panty hose, but I don't have very high hopes that it's going to hold my shoe together.

At least it's almost shabbos. And Allan comes into town motzei shabbos, and I haven't seen him since May 2003. Maybe my bad karma is coming to an end.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's Pathetic Because It's True

My blog has become boring. I had a feeling that this was the case, but I was enjoying a pleasant state of denial. Until the other night, when a friend IM'd me to say "Ye gods, your blog is boring!" Or something to that effect.

Going back through my archives, I realized that it's true. Either my life has become boring, or my capacity for lunacy has severely diminished.

Cara's World is on a new mission. I'm going back to the Land Beneath the Sofa. My craziness was last spotted cavorting with the dust bunnies. I'm going to try to lure it back out into the daylight, using only Fruit Loops, a moose, and a piece of string. If I don't return, remember that I've always loved all of you. (Even you, Mr. Blore!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Lesson of the Day

Do not try to eat a pear and type with both hands simultaneously. The pear will always fall into your lap.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Luke Ford Has Good Timing

"He's just not that into her."

Yep, that's what I read on Protocols today. Coincidence? Probably. But it still gives this single blog a chance to rant and rave some more on her new favorite theme.

Luke cites a remark of Dr. Janice D. Bennett, relationship coach, which ends with the amazing (and insulting) comment that "Coaching is the only solution to help healthy singles figure out how to finally get themselves married." Coaching? You've got to be kidding me!

There are plenty of us healthy singles out there who do not need "coaching" to help us figure out "how to get [ourselves] married." We know how to get married. You start by giving up on the guys who aren't into you enough to date you. Then you go find someone who is that into you.

Luke ends his post by saying that "smart men realize that they are more attractive to women if they are not too available". I pondered this for a few seconds. Is it true? Do we really find men more attractive if they're not too available?

I think Luke is wrong. (Shocking, I know.) In my own life, the men who make it clear that they are available to me are most often men that I'm not interested in for myriad other reasons. Their availability is not why I'm not attracted. Sure, that whole chase thing is fun at first. Nothing that's easily had is worth having, right? But if he's stays too unavailable, it stops being fun. He stops being so attractive, and you and your gal pals stop referring to him as "Captain Wonderful" and start referring to him as "Captain Can't Dial A Phone". In other words, once you start making us doubt whether you're that into us or not, we stop being quite so into you.

"Smart" men may know that not being too available can initially make them seem more attractive. But smart women don't waste their time on guys who play The Game that way.

Hebrew Word of the Day

I signed up a while ago for an email "A Word A Day" program, to help expand my vocabulary. Now, I still can't carry on a conversation, because I can't conjugate verbs, but that's a whole other matter.

Today's word was magash, which means tray. In explaining the root of the word, the email said that magash is derived from the word "to serve". Furthermore, the word for "to serve" really means "to bring closer". Hence the idea of a tray- it is an object that you use to serve others, by bringing stuff closer to them.

But this word "to serve" is also used in the context of "to serve a meal". Now we're no longer talking about inanimate objects, but about people. When we "serve" others, whether its a group of friends gathered around your shabbos table, or whether you're "serving" them through volunteer work or even through your career, what you're really doing is bringing people closer. Maybe it's just because I haven't fully woken up this morning, but it seemed like a really lovely perspective on what it means to serve others. All from a vocab email.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Book Review Part Two

Ok, I just finished the book. And while I still don't think it's the sum of all wisdom, I'm still very glad I read it. I stand by my assertion that every single chick should read it as well.

The simple truth is that I, like most woman, make excuses for whatever guy I'm currently interested in. I sometimes still make excuses for guys that I haven't been interested in for a long time, because it's somehow easier than facing the reality that he just didn't feel the same way about me that I did about him. The whole purpopse of this book is to get us single chicks to stop making those excuses and get on with our lives.

He's kinda seeing someone else? Then he's probably just not that into me.
He's still with his ex? Well, he's obviously just not that into me!
He's scared of relationships and committment? Nope! He's just not that into me.
He doesn't want to damage the friendship? I think I hear this one most of all. Yeah, right. More like he's just not that into me.
The timing is off? This is the second most common one. Just got out of a relationship, has a lot on his plate, blah blah blah...they all boil down to one thing. He's just not that into me.

You'd think this would all be depressing. Strangely, I find it to be exactly the opposite. I mean, if I have to spend all this time and energy trying to figure out if a guy is actually interested in being with me, he can't actually be all that interested in being with me. Because if he were, wouldn't he make that crystal clear, so that I don't go find someone else?

Now, of course, one must make allowances for circustamces and whatnot. I don't think life, dating, or men are ever as cut-and-dried as this book makes it seem. But the important thing to remember, ladies, is that we're good enough, we're smart enough, and doggone it! People like us. So why do we waste so much of our time on guys who don't know how to show us that they like us?

Cara's World Book Review

He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

I haven't actually finished reading this book. Nor did I buy it. It was given to a colleague, and I skimmed it while chatting in her office. Then I decided to borrow it and read the whole thing. I do not normally read this kind of book. But right now, I'm hooked.

Written by a writer and consultant from Sex and the City, which happens to be one of my favorite TV shows, it makes it very clear, in a very funny way, just how stupid we ladies can be about you men. Now, I can't say that I fully buy into everything the book says. I still have faith in you guys. But it's still an eye-opening book anyway.

For the Single Ladies in the Audience: Read this book. Now. You will appreciate it, because there is probably some guy in your life right now that you are wasting a lot of time and energy on, by analyzing his every word and making excuses for why things aren't working out between you. Put down the chocolate, and go read this book instead. It's amazingly liberating, and I don't normally go in for feminist crap.

For the Single Guys in the Audience: I'm on to you now. Do you realize how much simpler life would be if you were just a little more honest? I know that blunt truth can be hard (previous thoughts on the subject), but we'd all be far less crazy if you'd just tell us the truth. Really. It might suck to hear you say "I'm just not that into you" or some variation thereof, but we can handle it. Quit being so nice about it. Don't give us b.s. excuses, because we usually manage to twist things around so that we hear whatever it is we most need to hear. Just be honest about it. We won't fall apart. You'd be surprised at how easily a pint of Ben and Jerry's can make the pain go away. Particularly a pint of Phish Food or Chubby Hubby.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My Big Date- Part Two

I had a delightful evening.

After work, Becky and I went to way too many stores, looking at and trying on all the wrong things. Naturally, we found her a lovely dress at the last store we went into. And it just happened to perfectly match the hat we'd bought during our lunch break today. This confirms what I've long known...I really am good luck. In fact, I'm magical.

When Becky and I parted ways, it was time for me to embark on My Big Date with my brain. I took myself to coffee, and amused myself with a book for half and hour or so, and then I went across the street to the movie theater. Having extremely eclectic taste in foreign films, I simply bought a ticket to the next available show, which turned out to be a Taiwanese film called 'The Missing.' Not only did I get a discount because my bank happens to be a sponsor of the 40th Chicago International Film Festival, but I only had to buy one ticket. Brains get in free. (Either that, or the ticket was for my brain, and the rest of me got in free. Not sure which way that works).

Brain and I picked out a nice comfy seat, and settled in to watch the film. Another nice perk about foreign films is the lack of loud and/or giggling teenagers. But no previews. I guess no movie-going experience can be perfect.

"The Missing" is a really interesting film. Although the plot centers around two characters who are searching for family members who have gone missing, you realize through the course of the movie that it is they themselves who are lost. It's really a film about lonliness, and a self-imposed lonliness at that. Yet it's not actually a sad film. Thought-provoking, certainly, for it emphasizes how easy it is to be alone in a city fulll of people, and how unaware we are with respect to what goes on around us. But somehow it's not sad. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I would only recommend it to aficionados of very foreign films. Not only are the film techniques, and the directing and editing styles, far different from what comes out of Hollywood, but there is also a strange recurring theme of scenes that take place in a bathroom. I still haven't quite figured out the symbolism of that. There were also references to George Bush, Saddam Hussein, and SARS (though not in the same scene), which I'm mulling over.

I wouldn't say this is a good date movie. Certainly not for a first date. But Brain and I had a wonderful time. In fact, it was the best date I've had in a very long time. (The only one in a long time, but we'll focus on the positive for now)

This blog gives its Big Date with Brain an enthusiastic two thumbs up. I had such a good time that I even took Brain home with me at the end of the night.

My Big Date

The Chicago International Film Festival is running through Thursday of this week. It seems like prime date opportunity to me. There were numerous films on Sunday alone that I wanted to see. Sadly, I have no one with whom I can share this week of interesting, intellectual movie-going fun. Then I had a brilliant idea.

I can take myself to the movies! And so, tonight, after shopping with Becky, I plan on taking my brain out on a date. I think this is a fabulous solution. After all, my brain provides me with an endless source of amusement, so I know I'll have a good time. I don't have to worry about which movie to pick, because I already know my brain's tastes and preferences. Admittedly, my brain is a little crazy sometimes, but that just keeps things lively.

Why do I need a companion, let alone a male companion? I'm my own hot date. Maybe I'll even buy myself Twizzlers.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Quote of the Weekend

Blog: They spend a lot of time on their backs.
MJE: Well, they have to spend their time someplace.

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Perfect

10/17/04, 17:20
As usual, Cara was correct, and I was wrong.
Signed, MJE

Truer words have never been written on a cocktail napkin. I think I should frame it, and treasure it forever.

(For those interested, my buddy Mark wrote this down after several instant replays made it clear that the pitch was completely outside the plate, and that the Astros' batter should not have been called out. I may not know much in this world, but I do know my baseball.)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Chesed and Gratitude

An email conversation with a friend prompted me to think a bit harder than usual about chesed and gratitude. On one hand, I think too many of us (with the exception of this particular friend) forget to express our appreciation to and for the people around us. "Thanks" is easy to say. So why does it sometimes seem like such a rare word to hear? Or to hear it said with sincerity? On the other hand, I, personally, get embarassed when people thank me frequently. I have no idea how to handle it. I don't like being taken for granted or taken advantage of, but at the same time, I don't really like being thanked overmuch.

The explanation for the second part (I can't really called it a reason, since there might not be anything reasonable or rationale about it) is that acts of chesed, little or big, make me happy. I enjoy helping someone out, whether I know the person or not. It makes my day better. It makes me feel better about me. It somehow seems selfish (for lack of a better word) to accept gratitude and praise for something that makes me feel better about myself. Now that I think about it, shouldn't I be thanking other people for giving me the opportunity to help them out, since it results in an increase of my own happiness? If someone gives me the chance to do a mitzvah, I should be grateful to them. Not the other way around.

Where is the balance? Being thanked too much makes me feel embarassed and somehow selfish (for accpeting gratitude/praise over something I was happy to have done). Not being thanked at all, however, means I'm being taken for granted, which I can't stand. And how did an act of chesed come to be all about me, anyway?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Sum of Somethings

A little over a week ago, I expressed my frustrations with my own limitations. More specifically, I was unhappy that I was unable to do more to help a woman who obviously needed help. It's about time that I posted a follow-up.

It took me longer than I'd thought to track down the name of the management company. I thought my alderman's office would know, but they only keep lists of condominiums, not rentals. I hunted around online (if I were truly as smart as I pretend to be, I would have simply picked up the phone and called one of my two friends who live in that building. Guess I'm not so smart after all...), and finally found the number. So I called. No answer. I didn't want to leave a message, since it would have sounded extraordinarily convoluted, what with me not being a tenant and all. So I called again later. No answer.

A few days ago, I got an email from one of my friends in the building. She'd seen the elderly woman again, and she seemed just as confused as she had the week before. Another one of the tenants was helping her. So my friend called the management.

The next day, I got another email from my friend. She'd talked to the management. Turns out that other tenants had called as well. The management had gotten in touch with the woman's family, and arrangements were being made for her to have a full-time nurse.

There's obviously a limit to what one person can do in certain situations. A phone call, a helping hand...they can seem like such little acts sometimes. But when you add up all those little acts, made by many people, it turns out you end up with a lot. Sometimes something really isn't enough. But a whole lot of somethings...that's a different story.

We can make a difference. We just can't always do it alone.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Important Announcement

It has come to my attention that I have neglected to inform you, my devoted audience, of a very vital piece of information. I have been depriving you an important Fact O'The Universe:

Avi makes awesome hot wings. He is also the Guru of Cholent.

Now you all know. What you choose to do with this crucial piece of knowledge is entirely up to you.

My Quest For Computer Independence Part 2

I'm Free! My laptop arrived today. With the help of my wonderful maternal unit (let's be honest...she did all the work. I watched "A League of Their Own" with my paternal unit in another room entirely), my quest for computer independence is almost complete. I don't know exactly what she did to the computer (or what the previous owner did that had to be redone), but she's currently getting it set up for wireless internet. No Western Union scams for this smart shopper! AND the computer is under warranty still, so even if the previous owner screwed it up badly, I can get it fixed.

I have a piece of machinery to call my own. I feel so grown up now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Meet Me In St. Louis

My chag was delightful. Almost perfect, really. I'd forgotten just how beautiful St. Louis is this time of year, and just how heimisch the community there is. As I got on the plane on Tuesday afternoon, I found myself thinking (as I always seem to do), 'Why am I going? What am I doing?' But as soon as I got off that plane, I remembered why I was going and what I was doing. I was going because that community is as much home to me as my native Chicago, and I was visiting friends who had become family during the years I spent with them.

When I got to St. Louis, I had no plans whatsoever for any of my yontif/shabbos meals. By the time my friend Chasiah and I had lit our yontif candles, we had 4 out of 6 meals taken care of. We'd planned on cooking those remaining two meals and inviting people over. Instead, we ended up accepting invitations from other families at shul, despite the fact that I'd bought enough food to feed the entire populations of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia combined. And I sadly had to turn down invitations from other families who had not known that I was coming into town, and therefore did not have an opportunity to claim me in advance.

I can't remember a Simchas Torah when I drank less and laughed more (not a single drop of bourbon...go figure!). I think I had a goofy, glowing grin on my face for the entire 25 hours. I danced so much that my legs didn't want to move the next I went to shul and danced some more. I sang until my voice was shot, and kept on singing anyway. I played with babies and kibbitzed with the sisterhood. I raided the box of taffy apples (they store the box in the same place every year...) and helped in the kitchen. I saw old friends and made new ones. Much thanks and love to Chasiah, Aaron, Corey, Sheryl, the Shafners, the Fredmans, the Nemuses, the Katz-Orlows, The Novacks, and the entire Bais Abraham community.

I wish everyone in my shul in Chicago would be able to spend a shabbos at Bais Abe. It's such a remarkable place. You have a little bit of everyone: Lubavitch rabbis, women in pants, college students who are shomer negiyah, college students who aren't fully shomer shabbos, old men whose native language is Yiddish, families with small children, you name it. But there are little to no tensions or politics. The biggest arguments seem to be about the use of the kitchen, not about who is too left-wing or who is too right-wing. Those tensions just don't seem to exist. That kind of negativity is a foreign concept. It's so beautiful to be a part of, and very difficult to leave behind. It's a shame that a shul so lovely is such a rarity.

The rest of my weekend was equally delightful. Motzei shabbos, I left Chasiah's and relocated to Tabitha's. We contemplated going out on the town and having a bit of crazy girl fun, but instead decided to stay in. We settled down with some wine, some chips and guacamole, and season 4 of Sex and the City, and stayed up talking until 4:30 in the morning. I haven't had a night like that in a very, very long time. Slumber parties are wasted on children. Sunday was late and lazy, and ended in meeting Helen and Scott for coffee before heading to the airport.

All in all, my trip was phenomenal. A perfect and much-needed break from the balagan that is my life.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Happy Happy! Joy Joy! #10

My Shabbos crew in St Louis used to insist that I, of all the ladies, would be the first to get engaged. I, however, said that Rebecca would be the first to go. She had a distinct advantage over me in the form of a serious boyfriend, willing to travel to another city to be with her after graduation, whereas my love life bore fewer identifiable signs of life than the surface of Pluto.

After a year and a half, we finally have an answer.

I'm delighted to send a Mazel Tov out into the void to Rebecca Belzer and Ari Elias-Bachrach on their engagement this past Sukkos. (And yes, Ari is the same serious boyfriend. Or was, before he had the good sense to become her fiance)

I love being right. So let me just say this once and get it over with...I told you so!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Prodly's New Officemate

To my great surprise, my office plant, Prodly, is still alive. I can't say that he is flourishing, but at least he's not dead. He now has a companion: a pretty fern that I inherited from Avi.

It's a lucky fern. Avi inherited it from a friend who moved to Israel. Avi just moved to Israel a year or so later. Now the fern is mine.

So I've named it "Tizkoret," which means "reminder" (which I guess makes the fern a girl-plant. Only fair, since Prodly is a boy-plant). My reminder of the friend who gave Tizkoret to me, and everything I learned from him. My reminder that winter doesn't last forever, and that summer isn't really that far away. My reminder that I will make it to Israel if I want it badly enough.

And my reminder to water the plants on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

When Something Just Isn't Enough

I had an unexpected experience this afternoon, and I can't get it out of my mind. I had been helping my friend Ronit carry some things into her apartment, and we were waiting by the elevator when a door down the hall opened. It was an elderly woman looking for a nurse to clean her up from an accident. After only a few moments, it became obvious that this women suffered from rather advanced dementia, and that she should not be living alone.

She has a nurse, but does not know the nurse's name or phone number. She has a son, but does not know his phone number. According to other neighbors, who had come back after trying in vain to find the super, the son had been taken away by the police, because the woman had complained about his treatment of her. She thinks she had a stroke a while back, but isn't sure. She's apparently left alone in a large apartment building, with no way to contact the outside world.

I went in to her apartment to clean her up and change her into a clean, dry set of clothes. She didn't know where her clean clothes were kept. Or if she had a laundry bin. She's confused and scared, and virtually helpless. And while I was there, she asked me if I would come back. "Will you come back and check on me?" she asked. "To make sure I'm not dead?"

I said that I would. What else could I say? But I have no way to get into the building, so I can't possibly check on her. I left her my name and phone number, which she misplaced a moment later. So I put it directly into her hand, although I knew that she'd either lose it, or forget who I am and why she's supposed to call me.

When I left, I called the Department on Aging. And I called 911, so that the police could check on her. I don't even have a way of following up and making sure that the police went over there, and that she is ok. I have no way of knowing if this poor woman is alright.

I know that there's little more I can do. Tomorrow, I'll try to contact the building management, and let them know that I'm the one who notified the police, and see if I can find out more about this woman, so that she can get the care she needs. My wonderful mother, who has been a clinical social worker for over 30 years, will call the Department on Aging and make a report as a professional.

Logically, I know that I've done everything within my power. Emotionally, however, I feel like I haven't done enough. I keep asking myself 'What else? What more?' But I have no answers, and the helplessness is eating at me.

The A-Train Has Left The Station

It's a bittersweet weekend here in Cara's World. My wonderful friend Avi is, at this very moment, on an airplane bound for the HL. It's a one-way trip. I am, of course, excited for and proud of him for going, because he's following his heart and his dream. And what more could one want for someone they love? I'm also sad that he's no longer here in Chicago. And incredibly jealous, because he's doing what I've only managed to talk about.

The Israelis have no idea how lucky they are. Avi is an amazing, inspiring person. If I didn't think it would embarrass him, I'd start listing the many qualities that make him so phenomenal. It would also turn this post into the Great American Novel, because that list is endless. I have much to be grateful for, and having Avi in my life is way up there. He's truly a gift from Hashem.

I've never really been very good with goodbyes of any kind. Someone who means a great deal to me is no longer nearby, and I miss him already. Missing a friend in Israel is acceptable. Being sad because of the void left in my life in Chicago seems selfish. After all, I hope to leave before 5765 comes to an end. How can I justifiably be sad, simply because he left first? How can I let myself cry and be gloomy over something that is making him so happy? Should my friends stay and bury their own needs and dreams just for my sake? That's absurd.

So, since I refuse to be selfish, I've come up with a solution: I did not say goodbye. The last hug and wave as he left for the airport simply didn't mean goodbye. Goodbye is so final. Goodbye is depressing. Instead, that hug and wave meant "Lehitraot". IM"H, we'll see each soon, and the next hug will be in Israel.