Wednesday, June 20, 2007

15 Years Ago Today, I Became a Woman...

On June 20th, 1992, I became a Bat Mitzvah at Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley, California.

I know what you're thinking. Wait a second, your birthday is in September, why did you have your Bat Mitzvah in June? Well folks, in the Reform movement, any parsha is fair game. My parent's picked a weekend that they thought would be good for a party and we went with it. I was three months shy of my 13th birthday. I like to think that we were some semblance of frum even back then. They wanted me to have my Bat Mitzvah at 12 like most tradional people do. Also, I think the Beverly Heritage hotel was booked the weekend of my birthday.

There will be a screening of my Bat Mitzvah service this evening at my apartment on Pinehurst Ave. On it you will see all the requisite Bat Mitzvah stuff. A speech, read by me, written by my father (corny jokes and all). Me fumbling over my laining which was 100% memorized, just like my dad did at his Bar Mitzvah (he was so proud, Hi DAD!). The bracha from the Rabbi (which in my synagouge was a mix of a bracha and a shoulder massage). Little Susanne sitting on the bimah in her little pink tallis (which my mom still has in her china cabinet, assuming she'll give it to my daughter, I told her, well, she can give it to my son for his Bar Mitzvah, but I have a feeling he won't wear it). My three brothers in the front row making funny faces and fart jokes trying to get me to mess up on the davening. And most importantly, the beaming parents and grandparents sitting in the front row. I rocked that service!

Since my reception wasn't until Sunday evening, when services ended my family drove home and there was lunch (deli of course) for all my out-of-town relatives. I wasn't feeling well so I retired to the tile floor of the downstairs bathroom for a few hours. Everyone just thought it was my nerves finally kicking in. Nope, it was full blown stomach flu. So basically, as punishment for something I did in a past life, God decided to let me get through my impossible Bat Mitzvah service, but did not want me to partake in the party devoted to me. So Sunday we headed to the hotel where the ballroom was decorated with a 30 foot banner bearing my name, a live band, cardboard cut-outs of the Archie gang (as was the theme and second most important thing in my life back then, the first being softball, but I didn't think sports was an appropriate Bat Mitzvah theme, I was a huge tomboy, but even I knew that would be pushing it), and an almost perfect replica of Pop Tate's Choclit Shoppe. My mom is the ultimate party planner. She rocked this party. Stay tuned for my wedding. I know, we're all waiting for that one, myself included. But of course, I was unable to partake in any of this, because I was busy puking. My friends told me later that it was totally awesome and it was (I know that from what I saw on the video since I missed most of it while I was puking). I couldn't enter my own hula hoop and limbo contests. I couldn't eat my chicken finger dinner. I couldn't visit the all-you-could-carry candy store. I couldn't even keep a smile on my face. The reception video makes me look maniacal. Everyone around me is singing and dancing and smiling. You see me glaring at people, um, you don't seriously think you're going to put me up on a chair and throw me in the air do you? If I had puked on my chair holders, I'd still be in therapy today. I have two extremely distinct memories of that evening: 1) the candle lighting ceremony when my dad came up to light his candle with my mom, he also carried an empty ice bucket for me to run out of the room after I lit my candle and puke in the hallway and 2) after I retired to our hotel room AT 9 PM I awoke after midnight to find that my mom had already opened all my gifts. I haven't let her live that one down. But Mom, good news, 15 years is the statute of limitations on being pissed off about something that happened at your Bat Mitzvah, so you're off the hook. Not that I won't bring it up numerous times in the future, but I'm no longer angry about it.

So that was my Bat Mitzvah, Parshas BeHaAloscha, 19 Sivan 5752.

Now this is funny...

Bill and Hillary in a Sopranos finale spoof. Hysterical.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Why didn't we ever go to Applebee's when I was a kid?

All we ever went to was Sizzler and all the serve are wine coolers. I missed out man....

Toddler gets sick after California Applebee's accidentally serves margarita in his sippy cup

Antioch, Calif. (AP) — Kim Mayorga was confused when her 2-year-old started making funny faces and pushing away the apple juice he had ordered at Applebee's. The explanation came when she opened the lid of the sippy cup and was hit by the smell of tequila and Triple Sec.
The restaurant staff accidentally gave Julian Mayorga a margarita Monday. He grew drowsy and started vomiting a few hours later and was rushed to the hospital.

"I wasn't going to make a big deal about it," the mother told the Contra Costa Times on Thursday, "but then he got sick."

The apple juice and margarita mix were stored in identical plastic bottles, and the manager mistakenly grabbed the margarita container to pour the boy's drink, said Randy Tei, vice president for Apple Bay East Inc., which owns the franchise restaurant and nine other Applebee's in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Mayorgas will be reimbursed for their medical bills, and Tei said the franchise group's restaurants will no longer serve apple juice and margaritas in similar containers.
"We absolutely believe it was an honest mistake," Tei said.

The serving appeared to have been accidental, Antioch police Lt. Pat Welch said. Mayorga said her son is now doing fine.

She said the company has been very apologetic and offered free meals, but she added, "If they think I'm going back there, they're ridiculous."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What do Susanne and Tom Cruise have in common?

Not much. I'm tolerant of other people's religious and philosophical beliefs and have never threatened Matt Lauer. Tom believes only his credo is correct and that Matt is glib. But being such a high rank in the Church of Scientology apparently makes Tom a candidate to officiate at weddings, something that I, as an associate pastor in the the Church of Spiritual Humanism am also able to perform. Women's Wear Daily reports that Tom may perform a wedding for a friend, Australian heir James Packer, one of the church's richest benefactors this weekend. Now only if I can get my hands on some of those gourmet cupcakes that Katie Holmes Cruise has been buying for her film crew. After all, her husband and I have stuff in common.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Softball and Presbyterians

I originally sat down tonight to finish my Spain post which I've been toiling over for the last three weeks that I've been home. I took detailed notes so I could fill you in on every interesting tidbit. But I cannot find my notes anywhere because my desk is an f-ing disaster zone. So I'll hopefully finish early this week.

Anyhoo, today I had my Sunday softball games. For the last couple summers I've been joining a group of young Jews from around the city in a pick-up softball game every Sunday afternoon. Word spread and it has over time grown to have a great deal larger crowd in attendance every week. That includes a few too many people with bad attitudes. Guys complaining about umpires, bases, line ups, etc. If its not important, the guys are screaming about it. I complain too, but only when the teams are SO unbalanced that the game looses all its fun and just becomes an extended batting practice or safety is at stake. Both of those issues have come up numerous times. But what really grinds my gears is how damn sexist most of these guys are. Its like Jewish boys have been brainwashed by their single sex Yeshivas into thinking that anything they can do a girl is incapable of doing better. For example, call me pompous, but I know I am a good ball player. I have twenty-two years experience playing with very competitive people, boys and girls. I know guys who were on my Little League teams who now play in the majors and girls who I played with who have played in the Women's College World Series and in the Women's Pro League. Yet, without fail, every week, myself and the two other female regulars (also extremely capable players) tend to be picked last. In fact most of the guys picked before us tend to drop the most routine pop-ups. Last week, one of the other girls made an excellent defensive play at second to make an out and a guy on the other team chided his teammate about how embarrassed he should be cause a girl got him out. Sure, boys do that all the time. Boys. This guy was in his thirties...Whats his excuse?

Last week at the conclusion of the pick up game I wandered over to a game that was getting ready to begin. I noticed it was a co-ed team and they were short a couple ladies. In the mood for a more competitive game I asked if I could be of service. They happily welcomed me to their team. Each person came over to introduce themselves and welcomed me with a big smile. There are guys in the pick-up game I've played with for two years and I still call them by the position they play. Turns out this team was part of a Presbyterian Church league and they have games each Sunday in Central Park. They were impressed by my skills and invited me to join them for the rest of the season. I played with them again this afternoon and they were happy to see me. The players who missed last week had all heard about me from the other players and were excited that I had joined them. That made me feel pretty good. As the game was set to begin, the captain from the other team came over and invited everyone to join him in a prayer. I was like, sure, why not, I'm religious too. He asked God to watch over everyone and make sure no one gets hurt and that each and every one of us maintain a positive attitude throughout the course of the game. I was touched. Here I came from an informal pick-up game where everyone was fighting, and screaming, and complaining and these guys in a competive league game with an umpire, real bases, and uniforms and they're asking God to just allow everyone to have a good time. Score one for the Presbyterians. I can't wait until next week.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This sounds familiar...

Just read this article in the New York Times. A dating site that tells you exactly the height and occupation of your ideal suitor would be handy in the frum world. But if you are reading this and are a 5'10" Frum Optometrist, send me a message. You're just what I'm looking for...

So apparently South Koreans meet for dates in hotel lobbys. Unheard of!

Traditional Korean Marriage Meets Match on the Internet

Published: June 6, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea, June 5 — Sitting in his office crammed with files and boxes, Lee Woong-jin, a 42-year-old entrepreneur, talks enthusiastically about his latest moneymaking plan: merging the age-old Korean matchmaking tradition with the vibrant South Korean Internet culture.

His company — which allows subscribers to search for mates online — is one of a growing number of matchmaking services in South Korea, where families still arrange many marriages. Many of the services, like Mr. Lee’s company, rely heavily on the Internet and bill themselves as being more scientific than one-person shops that use social connections to make matches.

One of Mr. Lee’s customers, Kim Su-jong, a 29-year-old pharmacist, recently listed more than 330 pieces of information about herself — including her height, weight, blood type, drinking and smoking habits and monthly pay. And, in a twist that shows how much weight the society places on the standing of a spouse’s family, she also listed the jobs and academic credentials of everyone in her immediate family.

Within seconds, the computer program produced a marriage consulting report advising her that it would be most realistic for her to get married next year to a 33-year-old dentist or herbal doctor between 5 feet 7 inches tall and 5 feet 8 inches. If she believes in horoscopes, the computer said, August would be the best month to marry, but March and September should be avoided. That information cost her $21.

For an extra charge the computer will scan a pool of 25,000 clients and send her the names of one or two men whose profiles appear to make them suitable partners.

“We built our system by analyzing the marrying patterns of 10,000 couples married through our agency,” said Mr. Lee, the chief executive of Sunoo. “Our site is not a place for Cinderellas — people with illusions of finding a prince or princess. Our emphasis is on being scientific and practical.”

More than 1,000 dating agencies operate in South Korea. They include one-person operations run, typically, by middle-aged women who seek top graduates of prestigious universities and single doctors and lawyers and introduce them to rich families with eligible sons and daughters, and the corporations like Sunoo.

With the South Korean birth rate among the lowest in the world, demographers are casting friendlier looks on these agencies, which are banned from advertising on television.

“Our low birth rate is more than a crisis, and it’s because fewer people get married,” said Cho Nam-hoon, director of the government-funded Center for Low Fertility and Aging Studies. “The government should encourage the matchmaking industry. Perhaps it should start its own matchmaking service.”

Marriage is becoming optional, not a rite of passage, for South Koreans, with more men insecure about their jobs, and more women favoring work outside the home over rearing children. In 2005, 51 percent of South Koreans in their 20s and 30s were unmarried, five percentage points higher than in 2000.

In traditional Korea, where Confucian mores frowned on the mingling of the sexes, young people were brought together by matchmakers, usually old women in their villages.

Even now, marriage is widely viewed as a contract between two families, and parents often take charge. They check a candidate’s looks, education, income and horoscope. On weekends, young men and women might face each other awkwardly in a hotel restaurant after being dragged there by their parents for a matchmaking session.

“More than half our 10,000 clients were brought to us by their parents,” said Hong Kyung-hee of the Daks Club agency who has helped 100 couples tie the knot. “South Korea remains very conservative when it comes to marriage.”

For parents concerned with “saving face,” an agency can take care of the awkward business of checking backgrounds and, perhaps, rejecting a candidate introduced by friends.

For singles, using the agencies can reduce the risks of a blind date by screening potential suitors.

Leading companies like LG Electronics and Samsung ask agencies to organize group blind dates as a benefit for single employees. And major banks vie for rich private customers by offering free matchmaking for their children.

“We still find it hard to approach members of the opposite sex,” said Cha Hyun-seok, 34, an employee at LG Chemicals, who attended a recent matchmaking party organized by a dating agency. “There must be a go-between. So this is a useful service for me.”