Two Invitations

At a recent Bar Mitzvah, I got chatting with a friend who was recently returned from Israel.  Our conversation started with what’s become the typical post-service discussion of who tutored the Bar Mitzvah boy, how many months did they work together, and how wonderful the young man did with his service.  My friend related to me that in Israel, orthodox families don’t think much of needing to prepare for their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The child has been hearing and saying the prayers their whole life, they already know how to read tropes, and as the Torah portion they read is directly related to the day they were born, the family knows the portion upwards of 10 years before the child’s actual service, giving more than enough time for the child to perfect all the chanting.  A few weeks before the event, the parents speak with the Rabbi to discuss who will called up for certain honors, and that’s it.


Theoretically, that means a parent or other family member could chant a young child’s Torah portion (and Haftarah) to them at night, as a sort of lullaby. To a young child, those musical notes and syllables would come to mean “I am loved” and “I am safe”.  The kid would learn it as a comforting lullaby, building an unbreakable connection with whoever chanted and sang those words. Ten years later, having to chant a Torah portion in front of the community wouldn’t be something to make you nervous, you’re simply singing the song that you’ve always known.


When a Jewish child is born, they receive an invitation to two very special clubs.


The first club is comprised of all the other Jewish children being called to the Torah as B’nai Mitzvah that same Shabbat. All of those students learn the same Torah portion.  In this club of having something in common, everyone shares the unbreakable bond of having been called to the Torah for the first time to read the same Torah portion.  Chances are, many of you share the same birthday as well.


The second club is comprised of people you may not have anything in common with. In fact, no one from your first club will be part of your second club.  Everyone in this second club was called to the Torah for the first time for a different portion than everyone else. There may be 54 people in this club, but more likely there is somewhere between 156 and 162.  You each bring a different Torah portion to the table. Which means that when all of you are together, you literally have the entire Torah amongst you.


Jewish children of the world, the day you were born you received two invitations.


The day you were called to the Torah as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah you answered both of those invitations with here I am.


Getting to know someone again

Remember I set up a pity date with The Red Cross?  Seems to have worked, so far.

I recently reread one of my favorite novels, The Habitation of the Blessed, by Catherynne Valente.  There are some characters who are immortal, and to keep from boredom and stagnation, they have a lottery every three hundred years. You get a new occupation, live in a new town, have a new family, and whatever you get, you are stuck with it for three hundred years until the lottery comes around again. People you knew in your old life, you are supposed to try to forget them, and if you see them on the street you are supposed to greet them as one would greet a stranger.

Because I am an anxious person, and because I apparently enjoy scaring the shit out of myself, my brain took this idea in a very dark direction.  Ok, so what if you had this lottery thing, and you did meet up again with your best friend. You both know that you knew each other years ago, but you follow the rules, and get to know each other again, having greeting each other as one would greet a stranger.

You introduce yourself to each other.

You decide to spend some time together.

After spending some time with this person, you both realize you don’t like the other one very much.  By getting to know each other all over again, you end up learning all these things about that person that you don’t like.

Thinking about that was very sad for me.

Pity dating the Red Cross

I am thankful that I am healthy enough to donate blood.  On and off through my 20s and into my early 30s, donating blood through the Red Cross or MI Blood was easy breezy – a few times a year one of those organizations did a blood drive at or right near my workplace, and I could arrange for a family member or friend to drive me home.  I’d wait for the flyers to start showing up at work, I’d reserve a slot, the phlebotomist would poke me, and someone would drive my sleepy drooly ass home.  Oh, you’re fine after donating blood? Yeah, I’m not.  I feel like headed and drunk for a minimum of 2 hours afterwards. But, I still donate.   It’s a small positive change I can make in the world.

Due to a crazy work schedule I went a few years without donating. About 5 months ago, I was able to start donating again, and I’ve done two Red Cross blood  drives since February of this year. Yay me!   I currently work an hour away from home, so unless I want to take an entire afternoon or a full day off from work it is only feasible for me to do a blood drive that happens on the weekend.

I did those two blood drives, and now I’m on the Red Cross’s radar.

and they call me.  Constantly.  I get on average 10 calls a week from the Red Cross. I wish I was kidding.  Sometimes they hang up if I don’t answer, sometimes it is a recording of someone saying they are in dire need of my blood type.  Am I an asshole, or is ten calls a week just bit extreme?

The numbers that call me up to four times a day include:




I’ll get a call, they’ll hang up after 3 rings, and then they immediately call back.

I finally answered one of the calls today.   And there was a real person on the other end!! Part of me wanted to reach through the phone and punch this woman for calling me for the 10th time this week, but by the time she’d gotten through her 3 minute script I’d cooled down. I wasn’t frustrated with her, I was frustrated with the Red Cross constantly nagging me over and over and over and over and refusing to take no for an answer.

What do you do with someone who is harmless but is nagging you constantly? They won’t take no for an answer, but they are too nice for you to tell them to fuck off before you get a restraining order? One option is to go on a pity date with them.

Once I was finally able to get a word in edgewise with the actually very nice Red Cross lady, I explained my situation that I am now only available to do a blood drive on the weekends, and I have to arrange ahead of time for a family member to drive me, and if there is a blood drive coming that will accommodate my schedule, I’d be happy to sign up for it.  She signed me up for a drive that in about two weeks and said she’d send me an e-mail confirmation. My phone was pinging that I”d gotten the e-mail before she even let me get off the phone.

The first Saturday of August, I’m going on a pity date with the Red Cross.  At least I’ll feel good about about it and maybe get some yummy cookies.

The big question is will the pity date stop the phone calls.   I will be ineligible to donate for 56 days after the donation. Will it be 56 days of 10 fewer spammer phone calls a week? I’ll tell you in September!








Two more Summer Salads

No pics of these delicious salads, sorry.

I’m always making “salad concoctions” in the summer (ok, I do this all year long). It’s usually some kind of legume, something crunchy, something sweet, something salty, lots of veggies, and a vinaigrette dressing.  Rarely does lettuce make an appearance. and no kale!

This past weekend, I made a Lentil Quinoa salad and a Greek Yogurt based apple salad.

For the Greek Yogurt Apple Salad I combined:

1 cup greek yogurt

1 granny smith apple, diced

1 cup red grapes, sliced in half

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 rib celery, sliced thin

1/2 tsp dried dill

Seasoned salt and black pepper to taste (first time I’ve used seasoned salt, I’ve been living in the midwest for 30 years, and I finally fell like a true mid-westerner!)

combine all ingredients in a bowl, chill for 1 hour. Enjoy. This is a high protein, high fiber salad that makes for a delicious and filling lunch. Do not tell your family members you have made this, as they aren’t going to get any anyways.

The Lentil Quinoa salad is a little more complicated and quite a bit more time consuming. It probably took an hour to put together, most of which was cooking the lentils and quinoa.  Chopping all the veggies only took about 10 minutes. If you don’t care for Lentils, or don’t want to heat your kitchen up any more than is absolutely necessary in this ridiculous heat, swap out a can of drained chickpeas.

1 cup green lentils, simmers on the stove until tender, about 25 minutes.

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions

1/2 English cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 sweet pepper, diced

2 ribs celery, sliced thin

1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup craisins, chopped, or a little more, to taste

optional: shredded lettuce

salt and black pepper to taste

3 tbsp olive oil (or a flavored infused oil if you desire)

2 tbsp balsmic vinegar (or a flavored balsamic, if you desire)

Combine the cooked lentils and quinoa in a large bowl with all other ingredients except the oil and vinegar.  mix well.  While the mixture is still warm, drizzle over top the oil and vinegar.   I like to add the dressing ingredients while the grains are still warm, I feel like the dressing adheres better to warm ingredients better.

Let sit at room temp for 15 minutes, and then chill for an hour before eating.  This salad tastes best at room temperature.   The lentils are earthy, the quinoa is nutty, the cucumber is refreshing, and the salty sweet combination of kalamata olives and craisins/sweet pepper can’t be beat!

This is the first time in a long time I’ve put lettuce in these kinds of salads! The grocery story had these beautiful green leaf lettuces, I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy one!


We also made some incredible lemon infused meatballs for dinner the other night. If you’ve never put lemon zest in meatballs, OMG, it is a gamechanger!










Use this old weird trick to safely* and quickly get rid of your zits

that “one weird trick” phrase is never going to get old for me.  Use this one weird trick to tie your shoes!  Use this one weird trick to roast vegetables!  I don’t know why I find that phrase so funny, but I do.

About a month ago, I got the worst case of acne of my adult life. Sure, I had zits as a teenager, but they mostly went away in my 20s and into my 30s. I’ve never had good skin, I’ve always battled a few zits here and there.  And don’t be asking me stupid questions like “are you washing your face?” “are you eating too much chocolate or greasy food?”  I just have easily clogged pores and very sensitive skin.

This stuff has been my go to zit fixer for years:

clean clear advantage

Smear a little on my face before bed and again in the morning, and within a few days I’m back to my regular “only a few zits instead of a lot” face.

but this breakout I had about a month ago? It was insane. I had zits on top of zits. On my hairline, on my cheekbones, on the side of my nose,  under my eyebrows for goodness sakes!

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Farmer’s Market Funk

Every year around this time, I always say to myself “I’m going to go to the Farmer’s Market every weekend this summer!”.  beautiful tomatoes, sweet lettuces, fruit, mushrooms, peppers,  local meat and cheese, food trucks, what could be better? Not much is right!

But it never seems to happen.  Saturdays go by, and I always say “I’ll go next week”.

there are two beautiful Farmer’s Markets not far from where I live. The “original” one is hidden in a neighborhood, smushed between a bingo parlor and the train tracks.  The place is packed, whether you get there at 6am or 1pm. Parking is a mess, with about a thousand people trying to park in a tiny neighborhood of narrow streets.  I’ve had some great experiences there, I’ve had some negative experiences there.  I don’t do well in bustling crowds, and this place is crowded and chaotic, so that could be part of my problem.

The “newer” Farmers Market is down south in the suburbs. parking seems fine, and the market is set up so that the bottlenecks are few and far between. there are picnic tables set up, there is no chaos whatsoever.  There are not that many booths (or at least not that many booths selling things I want to buy. How many booths of vegan doggie treats does a market really need?), so it seems a long drive for not much.

Am i terrible person that I’m perfectly OK buying my fruits and veggies at the grocery store most of the time?

Well, now I have to see Alien: Covenant

So, I’m a HUGE fan of the Alien movie franchise.  I can not believe my Dad let me watch the original when I was like 10 years old. How did I ever sleep again? Anyway, it was love at first xenomorph, and I’ve been a fan of the franchise and of H.R. Giger ever since.

I don’t care how stupid Alien:Resurrection is, it is one of the funnest action-y horror movies in the world, and if you say it sucks I will punch you in the face, and then I will make you sit next to me while I watch it and every 5 seconds I’ll say “isn’t this movie wonderful? I love this movie so much!”.  (Actually, I’m kinda afraid to watch Resurrection again, because what it if actually does suck?)

A handful of years ago we got Prometheus. I had high hopes.  I nearly walked out of the movie theater because that movie was so bad.  Like the 2nd Chris Pine Star Trek movie, it basically wrecked the Franchise (do not get met started on Star Trek. Do. Not.).  Prometheus had one thing going for it: Michael Fassbender.

If I have an ideal man, Fassbender is he. tall, toned, intense, confidence, a smile that with the tinest incremental change can go from sincerely happy to sneaky to looking like he’s thinking something dirty.  Prometheus was all about the Fass playing an android who uncanny valleys all over the place.  Yes I am all about the Fass.

Anyway, a review of Alien: Covenant on included this beautiful Fass filled paragraph:

There’s only one character Covenant is interested in, and that’s Fassbender’s David, who has spent the 10 years since Prometheus growing out his blond locks and working on the best way to emerge out of the darkness while wearing a hooded cape. Like Walter, his double, David is a human creation, but he’s a little too human. The relationship between these two Fassbenders is at the heart of Alien: Covenant, and it’s one of the few things that really entertain on a level beyond the technical. Prometheus was nigh on a visual masterpiece, especially in 3-D, but it was hollow at its core. Covenant is a more by-the-numbers exercise in giving the people what they want, right down to a climax that feels like it’s cobbled together from the ends of Alien and Aliens, but at least it’s got some tender Fassbender-on-Fassbender action, including a scene where David teaches Walter to play a primitive flute and offers, “I’ll do the fingering.”

omg, where do I buy tickets for this movie.