Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wildly Inappropriate

I'm not one of those women who doubts her beauty and ability to attract men. In the last 10 years of my dating life, I've picked up men at the gas station, the grocery store, a gay bar and now on an NJ Transit train. Being naturally gregarious and just good-looking enough to be approachable but not too gorgeous to be intimidating, my friends frequently delight in my stories of new guys, even if absolutely no one can keep track.

And yet, despite my magnetism, I seem to generally attract, for the most part, the most wildly inappropriate men. Oh you have a PhD, your own apartment and a good relationship with your mom? Yeah, you're just not going to be into me. You'll be my good friend but you will never imagine a future with me. But are you marginally employed in the shadow economy with an illegitimate child and a Tina Fey-esque, never-to-be-talked-about facial scar? Then clearly you will fall in love with me after just a few short encounters.

I started writing this post a few nights ago and just didn't have time to really flesh it out. Then, the reason for the delay became all-too apparent when I checked my FB inbox...
With the bizarre and grammatically-incorrect subject line of, "i love the way you smiles, dear readers I give you... Kenneth.
"good day (my first and last name) how are you doing today? i hope that you are cool.i m very happy with your profile its very interesting that is why i will love to know more about a beautiful and shining star like you. so tell me what are you doing for a fun mostly? i love reading , going to a beach as well listing to all kind of music.i will love to chat with you on yahoo messenger because i only come to face book often, here is my im for chatting (his IM) what is yours? i can,t wait to talk to an angel like you. i hope to hear from you very soon.

Were Kenneth a Liberian war orphan, I might be able to excuse his astounding creepiness and appallingly poor command of the English language. However, according to his Facebook profile, he's a native of Jersey City and a widower with one child who apparently is desperate to find "a god fearing lady to be (his) soul mate."

If this is what I attract, maybe it's just as well that I'm single. Luckily, I don't have this woman for a mother and my grandmother's Internet skills just aren't that good.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Open Letter to AZ Governor Jan Brewer

I left this on the Governor's comments page...

Governor Brewer,
You make me ashamed to be from the State of Arizona. While New Jersey (where I live now) may have challenges with corruption and high taxes, at least we don't make people illegal and violate their 14th Amendment rights simply for being of a certain skin color or country of origin.

I sincerely hope you realize the error of your ways and quickly change your mind about SB 1070. You humiliate the Grand Canyon State and have turned Arizona into a mockery in both the domestic and international communities. It's despicable.

No human being is illegal. By signing SB 1070, you have essentially made it illegal for anyone of Latino descent to leave the house without fear of gung ho law enforcement officials. God forbid any immigrant actually is a victim of a crime, because you certainly have eliminated their rights of safety and access to the legal process. They will no longer cooperate with law enforcement or serve as witnesses for fear of you and your xenophobic goons.

When will Arizona realize it cannot function without immigrants? Who would mow YOUR law? Who would cook for YOU in any restaurant? Who would drive the citrus and cotton industries so essential to YOUR state's economy?

When you figure that out, let me know.
A disgusted former Arizonan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whose Addiction is this Anyway?

Why the minutia of Tiger Woods' daily life was any of my business before or after his wife tried to run him over, I have no idea. All I know is that now that it's happened and he has issued a trite mea culpa cum admission of addiction, I have to hear about him every damn day. Maybe the folks who feel especially disappointed by his infidelities are the same people who worshiped Bo Jackson, Larry Bird or (gasp!) OJ Simpson in their youth. They ascribed super humanity to their superheroes, forgetting the inherent corruption we all face as we mature and confront various moral and ethical dilemmas.

Simultaneous to the Tiger Beat-Off... (yeah, crude I know, but I had to get that in there!), has been a similarly epic media blitz on John Edwards and his baby mama drama. Come on people! If you're going to sleep with a celebrity, use protection. One would hope the money, fame and fortune come with a few condoms. I'm pretty convinced there's a special place in hell for John Edwards and that both his wife and his mistress will be there too.

But what annoys me more than the ridiculously callow behavior of these people is our fascination with it AND in the case of Woods, our willingness to excuse it as a form of addiction. Yes, I'm sure there are people legitimately struggling with sex addiction. However, when it comes to celebrities claiming it, I find it incredibly hard to believe.

Look at our history of political figures and celebrities in this nation - Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ray Charles - HUGE womanizers! Drug addictions, ample (and sometimes interracial) extramarital affairs, illegitimate children abound and yet, we don't dwell on those issues when studying the legacies of this important men. None of these guys felt the burning scrutiny of the 24-hour news cycle and so they got away with their philandering. And I have to say that even the most stand-up guys I know who aren't celebrities would have a really tough time remaining faithful if 1000s of attractive women were flinging themselves at their loins on a daily basis.

Our wraparound technologies also make finding willing and able sexual partners that much easier. From AdultFriendFinder to Craigslist, even the average schmo can be big pimpin' any time he pleases. One can only imagine how much easier it becomes when money, power and celebrity enter the picture.

In no way do I condone the behavior of Woods, Edwards or any other idiots out there who essentially commit perjury against their own marriage vows. But at the same time, I simply can't understand why anyone thinks it's news.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary... to Me

I reached a rather intriguing and potentially day-ruining milestone today - I have officially been single for a year. At one time in my life, this would have been cause for a tub of ice cream and a good cry. Yet, I've actually been pretty happy about it. I can't imagine accomplishing half the things I've done in the past year if I were in a relationship.

Not that my ex wasn't a nice, supportive guy. But I'm not sure that he, or any of the other men I've seriously dated, fully understood or appreciated my ambitions. I joke about my plans for world domination (don't worry, I fully plan to be a benevolent dictator), though I'm not always 100% kidding. Those delusions of grandeur you have as a kid? I never got completely over mine. And what I've discovered during the past year, is that it's a helluva lot easier to accomplish your goals without being in a relationship.

When you're dating someone, weekends often are spent in bed, or watching movies, or doing something obnoxiously cute like walking through a botanical garden together. But when you're single, you have entire weekends to devote to crazy things, like launching a nonprofit organization. Note from the voice of experience: it takes a LOT longer than a weekend. Being single affords one the opportunity to do as much or as little as one wants. And for a compulsive doer like me, that generally means you're gonna get shit done.

Celebrating a year of being single just a few months after turning 30 has also been easier to well, celebrate, because the selection of men hasn't been so astounding lately. Sure, I've enjoyed a few nice evenings and dinners in the company of relatively interesting guys. But not so many second dates. Maybe my standards have gotten higher in the past year. Simply put, I have great friends, a good job and entirely too many fulfilling hobbies. I'll gladly make time for a guy, but he has to be pretty damn fantastic.

Who knows what the next year will bring? Hopefully the ride will continue to be exciting... well maybe not quite as exciting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Belle Curve

I love Christina Hendricks. She's one of the best reasons to watch Mad Men not named Matthew Weiner, Katherine Jane Bryant or Jon Hamm.

Her portrayal of secretary extraordinaire Joan Holloway is so incredibly fantastic, I dressed up as the character for Halloween and I credit her for the resurgance of dresses and high-waisted skirts in my closet. She's unapologetically voluptuous and her curves are utterly sensual.

The media is also all too enamored of La Hendricks and here she is on the cover of New York Magazine. Totally has made my morning. Every few years, a new "real" woman captures our attention simply for not being a stick figure - Kate Winslet and Jennifer Hudson, anyone? Hopefully, this time it's not just a spectacularly luscious flash in the pan.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Platonic Love is a Many Splendored Thing

Having recently joined that enviable demographic of single women in their 30s in the New York Metropolitan area, I decided if you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

For the past two years, I've had boyfriends on Valentines Day and while nothing terrible happened either time, nothing especially spectacular happened either. We had quiet dinners at home, one boyfriend cooked, the other one gave me a CD. Just another day.

This year, Valentines Day came just a few weeks before the one-year mark of me being firmly single, a milestone that hasn't bothered me as much as one might guess. Maybe it was the relatively grander shock of recently turning 30 that desensitized me. Regardless of the reason, I decided this year to proudly celebrate Valentines Day as an unattached person rather than cowering in a corner of woe and loneliness. But to truly do it in style, I would need a team.

As has become my custom in the past seven months, I convened my friends - this time just the single ones - for a potluck feast dedicated to Platonic love at my apartment. Foods infused with garlic, greens that might stick in one's teeth and messy desserts were completely welcome as none of us came expecting to snag a date. No lonely hearts set-ups here. We were single and fabulous, exclamation point!

More than a dozen guys and gals gathered to sample our spectacularly tasty culinary creations, to send really hokey puppy & kitten-themed grade school valentines and to play dirty Jenga. And it was the best Valentine's Day I've ever had.

It made me wonder why we get so stuck on having just one significant other, just one certain kind of relationship, just one version of love at this time of year. Not that those relationships and loves aren't mind-blowingly fantastic and the stuff of song and legend for good reason. But why not love love no matter who it comes from?

Luckily we have 364 days until the next Valentine's Day to embrace love whether it's love of our friends, family, certain sports teams or just a certain someone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let them Eat Cake

Unless you live under a rock, it's hard to escape mention of the obesity epidemic plaguing America's children. Reduced time for physical education, the relative cheapness of unhealthy food, ubiquitous video games and plain ol' abundance have led many children to reach dangerous weights while they languish without exercise. Some groups, like Parents Against Junk Food, also point to the availability of foods like Pop Tarts, NutriGrain bars and Gatorade in nearly every cafeteria as a major culprit in the expanding waistlines of kids from Tacoma to Tampa.

As a former chubby kid and currently voluptuous adult, I can sympathize with these kids and at the same time, I think their parents are idiots. Sure, school lunches shouldn't undo any healthy eating habits parents are trying to teach at home and for kids who get a bulk of their daily food from school certainly need nutritious meals with a minimal of processed ingredients, salt and sugar.

However, I have to draw the line at birthday parties. According to a recent report on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show, some schools are now moving to eliminate or significantly reduce foods like cupcakes and rice crispies treats from kids' birthday parties in the classroom.

Try to imagine elementary school without pizza parties! Sure you probably shouldn't motivate children (or adults) solely through food, but what about the lesson of moderation? I know enough people with kids to hear Elmo talk about "sometimes foods," like ice cream, candy, chips. What better way to teach kids about eating in moderation than telling them that parties are the perfect time to sample less healthy foods?!

All too often in American culture, and particularly in our food culture, we run toward absolute solutions. How often do we hear about raw foods (the elimination of anything cooked), Atkins Diet (the elimination of all carbs), or anorexia (the elimination of food, period)? On the other extreme we have holidays like Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day and the Super Bowl that encourage us to consume with abandon. There rarely seems to be that sense of a middle ground that exists in other countries where they may enjoy one glass of wine, one piece of chocolate but draw the line at a bottle or entire bar.

Perhaps rather than forcing the next generation to live within the constraints of hard and fast food rules, we can give them healthier choices while teaching about getting real pleasure from simple indulgences. Besides, with Valentine's Day on the horizon and all those candy hearts calling from the shelves, what better time to learn?

Friday, January 8, 2010

So that happened

Fastidious readers will notice my tricky backdating on this post, but everyone will hopefully just enjoy the following...

So it happened. I turned 30. No lightning bolt or spontaneous crow's feet. Not even too much shame from my grandmother at the ignominy of my enduring singlehood. Haven't exactly achieved lasting inner peace either, but at least I've gotten over the crying jags.

Since I set out a year ago with 30 separate goals to attain by this time, I have worked with varying degrees of success on everything from reading to travel and eating to blessing. While I can't imagine it's terribly interesting to listen to me banter on about all 30, I figured I would pick a few standouts and defend my actions... or lack thereof.

Items 1 through 6 were all devoted to activities and travel and they were overwhelmingly the easiest to accomplish. Dragging my ass out of the house has never been a big challenge, but I will say that I really appreciated the extra motivation to visit a foreign country, visit Queens (sometimes the same thing), or take a yoga class.

Item 15 - Eat in one of the umpteen New York City restaurants I'm always reading about & lusting over. This was actually the last thing I did on the list, and technically it was a day after the deadline, but when the item in question is eating a delicious brisket sandwich from the Second Avenue Deli, what's a few hours?

Item 21 - Submitting to five different blog carnivals each month seemed like a good idea when the year began. But then I got wrapped up in a relationship that left me without any fantastic inspiration. And then I got laid off and I had plenty of inspiration, but it was all related to finding a new job and starting a new business. Then I got a new job and decided around the same time to launch a whole other business that's still keeping me really busy.

This may seem like excuses, but I really think it says a lot about my growing maturity and my ability to shift my priorities and goals without beating myself up or feeling guilty. Or at least that's the story I'm sticking to.

Item 25 - I have absolutely no excuse for not getting an emergency kit in my car. Guess that one carries over into Year 30.

Item 8 - This started as an item on my list because I've always liked volunteering and I figured I would just try to hit up the food bank a few more times in the past year. Yet somehow along the way it morphed into me creating and launching my own volunteer group for Jewish young adults in New Jersey.

Jersey Tribe has become my new pet project, sadly to the detriment of this blog, but happily a tad more social and hopefully with greater reward for humanity (yes, my ego is that big). Our goal is to organize two events each month that weave together community service, social and philanthropic elements. In January, we're marking MLK Day in a big way with two events and February will bring both a Shabbat Dinner with Israeli Speakers and a Purim Party to Benefit the Jersey Battered Women's Shelter.

If you have any interest in these events - just post a comment and I will be in touch.

Summary - While I have no intention of abandoning Shtetl Fabulous in 2010 for newer sources of amusement, I probably won't be posting with the weekly frequency I aspired to in the past. Hopefully, I will be able to use the blog both to promote my latest ventures and to bring my insights on life, love and eating to the masses... all 10 of you.

I'm learning that it truly does take a village so any suggestions for posts are greatly appreciated. And if you want to help with Jersey Tribe, that's good too!

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in my 29th year and who has continued to be an outstanding friend as I enter 30. Couldn't have done it without any of you.