12 December 2007

WordPress is frustrating me. I’m moving to Blogger. The last few posts have been moved over…please update your links! The new site is: See you over there!


Surprising myself

11 December 2007

Tonight I did two things that totally surprised me at first.

Backing up…

Boston Boy and I hadn’t chatted in several days since he was on a business trip. Rab Boy with a crush on me was told in no uncertain terms by mutual friends that I am not interested. In the meantime, my friends arranged a Shabbat lunch for me to meet a guy who is getting a math PhD. I’d met him ever so briefly at shul a week ago, then we were at the same table this past Friday night at a dinner at shul. Lunch was fun, Math Boy is a great guy, though he is on the quiet and shy side. He may or may not have noticed that I am, y’know, a girl. But we are hoping he will sort of ease into the idea of being interested in me. I made the chocolate mousse pie in this post, and I got the eggs right this time so it worked out much better.

Saturday night, I went to the lovely Samantha‘s pre-party, then to a fabulous holiday soiree. We were all dressed up to the nines, which is always fun. The party itself was fun but not quite my scene — the music wasn’t music I could really dance to, and the only people I knew were S. and her friends from the pre-party, and I’m not so good at meeting new people in such a huge venue. So I left on the early side, came home, and then went to my friend’s Chanukah party two buildings down from mine. It was very chill and relaxed, and nobody minded that I was overdressed (they were all in jeans, and I was still in my party dress).

Sunday was low-key, I slept in and stayed inside almost the whole day, then went to a surprise retirement party for my boss’s boss’s boss, in Pasadena. I carpooled with a coworker of mine who is my age. He worked at the company for 6 years (straight out of college), left for business school for two years, then came back over the summer, just a couple months after I started in my current department. He knew more people than I did at the retirement party, since he has more tenure than I (and had been in/near our current department all along, whereas I used to be in a very separate dep’t), so he introduced me to a lot of people. We arrived together, sat together, walked around together, and left together. And apparently, people commented that we made a really cute couple. Of course, he’s not Jewish. And he’s got a significant other. And, oh yeah, he’s gay. So…people are a little clueless. We were both very amused to hear the “gossip” this morning…

Anyway, all this leads me to tonight. Boston Boy and I had a video-chat. He’d found plane tickets for $300 that would have him arriving in LA around noon on Thursday 20 Dec., leaving at 1 p.m. on Tuesday 25 Dec., and he wanted to know if he should get them. We ended up having a long talk about religion. He grew up modern Orthodox, had some miserable experiences with day school and organized religion, was a “devout” atheist for a while, and has now settled into agnosticism. He keeps kosher, goes to shul once in a while…but he doesn’t know if G-d is real, he certainly doesn’t think G-d has any place in his life, and he still has a lot of resentment toward institutional Judaism. If he hadn’t been born Jewish, he thinks he’d be Buddhist or Hindu.

And I have issues with that. If he were actually here in LA, it would be worth it to meet him and see how things might go. If he were in Boston but were closer to me religiously, it would be worth it. (And on top of living in Boston, he has two cats, which is a deal-breaker for me anyway because I’m awfully fond of breathing.) But in the end, I said that I thought the proposed visit would be a bit too much too soon — five full days this early on seemed like more than I could handle. He thinks I’m the bee’s knees, and he would like us to stay in contact and maybe have a slightly shorter visit (like a 3-day weekend) in the future. I am OK with that for now.

And after that, I did what I think I should have done last week. I called Rab Boy and told him why I’m not interested in dating him right now (the timing in his life, as I described a couple posts ago), but making it very clear that I think he’s a great guy and I would really like us to be friends and keep getting to know each other. He was totally cool with that, and we ended up talking for a long time, which was nice. I could see him being an important person in my life — whether it’s just as a friend, or maybe someday as something more.

No word from Math Boy yet, but I am hoping…

Tomorrow night, for the 8th night of Chanukah, I am going to have some friends (including Rab Boy) over to light candles and eat pizza. I figured pizza is greasy, even if it’s not a traditional “fried-in-oil” Chanukah food. And one of my friends is going to make latkes because she said she is tired of frozen latkes and latkes from mixes.

And since Boston Boy is not coming to visit, I plan to go forward with my Christmas Eve cocktail party. I would love to put up mistletoe, but that would be just a little weird considering everyone will be Jewish!

In G-d’s hands

3 December 2007

I don’t actually remember the d’rash from Friday night — but I remember what I took away from it. I’m in a good place, have been for a couple of weeks now, kind of like how I was back around Labor Day and High Holidays. I don’t know how long it will last, but for right now, I have decided I’m putting myself in G-d’s hands. I’m going to try to stop fighting and struggling, and just trust that G-d is leading me on whatever path G-d wants for me. I am hoping / praying / believing that G-d has a plan for me. And if takes me longer than it took others to reach certain places on the path, well, I’m trusting G-d. G-d knows a whole lot more than I do, and maybe G-d thinks I need more time than others do to be ready for wherever this path takes me. If my path is meant to lead me to Boston Boy (who has looked at plane tickets but hasn’t booked anything; we’ve logged at least a dozen hours in total IM/phone/video-chat time), great. If it leads me to the JDate guy in LA I’ve e-mailed with a couple of times, great. If it leads me to the guy my friends are hoping to set me up with at Shabbat lunch this coming week, great. And if it leads me somewhere else completely — that’s great, too.

The d’rash on Shabbat morning was really cool. The rabbi who gave the d’rash said she wanted to focus on a small bit of the text that is often overlooked in favor of the bigger stories (Joseph’s coat, his dreams, being thrown in the pit, sold into slavery and sold again, rising to power, resisting Potiphar’s wife, being thrown in jail, more dreams, etc.). What she focused on was a mere three pesukim (verses) – Gen. 37:15-17, as follows:

15. A man discovered him [Joseph], and behold! — he was wandering in the field; the man asked him, saying, “What do you seek?” 16. And he said, “My brothers do I seek; tell me, please, where they are pasturing.” 17. The man said – “They have journeyed on from here, for I heard them saying, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

This “man” is believed by some commentators to be the angel Gabriel. He plays an important role. His question — “What do you seek?” — is a question we could all ask anyone and everyone we meet. And by telling Joseph how to find what he seeks — that is, where his brothers have gone — he sets into motion all the rest of the Children of Israel’s destiny…if Joseph hadn’t found his brothers, he wouldn’t have been put into the pit; if not for that, he wouldn’t have been taken by the Midianites; if not for that, he wouldn’t have been sold to the Ishmaelites; if not, he wouldn’t have wound up in Egypt; if not, he wouldn’t have saved Egypt from the famine; if not, he wouldn’t have saved his family from the famine; if not, Jacob and the rest of his children wouldn’t have moved to Egypt; if not, the Children of Israel wouldn’t have been enslaved; if not, Moshe wouldn’t have arisen as a leader; if not, the Children of Israel wouldn’t have been redeemed by G-d; if not, there would have been no revelation at Sinai, no Ten Commandments, no wandering through the desert, no deliverance into the Promised Land.

And yet this man, this ish, is given no name in our narrative; and the speculation that he was Gabriel is merely that: speculation. Each of us can play either role in the story. We can encounter people who are our angels, who set us on the right path toward our destinies, even if our interaction with them is brief and seeminly insignificant. And we can encounter others and be their angels; the words we choose to say, the questions we choose to ask, the answers we choose to give can shape the lives of the people with whom we come into contact. In any moment — in every moment — it is possibly that we are acting as the agent of the Divine.

So. For the moment, at least, I am opening myself to G-d’s will. I will try to be aware, be present, be mindful in each moment, lest I miss the sign beckoning me toward my destiny. And I will try, too, to play my part in leading others toward the paths they are meant to travel. Godspeed, all of us.

The multiplicity of one-ness

28 November 2007

Last post, I wrote:

“Must not get too attached to Boston Boy. (Too late!)”

Well, apparently I’m not alone. We IM’ed for a while this evening, during which time he wrote:

In all honesty, I do think this could be the beginning of something more substantial then just entertaining flirtation.

From there, there was a bit (a very little bit) of discussion of that concept…during which he worried I might think he was nuts, to which I responded, “Not nuts, and I’m glad you said it first.” There was also a bit of discussion wherein we found that we both believe that there is more than one “The One” out there for any given individual. And we both acknowledged that “The Multiplicity of Ones” was clearly the title of a math paper just begging to be written.

Still not really holding my breath. Well, maybe a little.

But anyway, it put me in a super-good mood. And now I am exhausted, so off to bed I go.

This, that, and the other thing

28 November 2007

Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful, of course, because I got to spend lots of quality time with my parents. I got a haircut while I was there — my first-ever experience with layers — and continued my streak of having good things happen when I go to my parents’ synagogue. Back when I lived in New York, I went to shul with my folks and first met a friend of theirs who said, “You’re single, and you went to the big H, and you live in New York? I have a nephew who has all three of those things in common with you. If you’re interested, give me your card, and I’ll have him call you.” Minutes later, I met other friends of my parents who said, “We were planning to go to New York for our anniversary, and we bought to tickets to Madame Butterfly at the Met. But then we decided to go to Israel instead. And our opera tickets are non-refundable. Would you like them?” So I had not just a date, but a place to go with said date. (The opera was wonderful. The guy was pretty good — three or four good dates — right up until he disappeared off the face of the earth.)

So this time, I met an allergist friend of my parents, who said that my being allergic to nickel and unable to wear even 18K or sterling silver earrings didn’t mean that all was lost…He recommended I try titanium earrings, which are apparently super-duper-hyper-hypo-allergenic. I haven’t worn earrnings since my brother’s wedding 4 years ago. Generally, I wear earrnings once every several years, and then only for a few hours…and then my ears are red and painful for the next 3 or 4 days. But I’ve been wearing these 24/7 since Sunday morning, and my ears look fine. I desperately want to take them out (they hurt a bit, and I miss sleeping on my side), but I’ve essentially re-pierced my ears, and “they” (my parents and the chick at the Piercing Pagoda) agree that I need to leave in the earrings for several WEEKS. I suppose I must suffer for my beauty… ;)

Tonight I caught up with Boston Boy for the first time since the phone convo I wrote about before. We talked on the phone for an hour or so…then realized, we both have computers with web-cams, so we video-chatted on Skype for another hour and a half. SO much fun. He has a fatal flaw, though (well, besides, y’know, living in Boston) — he has two cats. And I am super-duper allergic to cats. And, really, anything with fur. That’s in addition to nickel (which translates to, I’m allergic to cheap jewelry, which honestly isn’t so bad). And one antibiotic. And certain vegetables. And laundry detergents with fragrances in them. Yeah, it’s fun to be me.

Anyway. Must not get too attached to Boston Boy. (Too late!)

Closer to home, there’s a rab student with a BIG crush on me. Sweet guy, but not really ready for a relationship, I’m thinking. He converted to Judaism (not sure when, at least a few years ago though). He recently – like a couple months ago – ended a 4-year relationship. Then he kinda went crazy with the drinking and the partying and such. Then he took a Nazarite vow (no meat, no alcohol, no haircuts — think Samson, as in “and Delilah”) for a month to cleanse his system. That month ended just recently. So I’m thinking, he needs to get to know himself again, and figure out who and what and where he is in life. But he invited me to a party on Sat. night, which beats spending $36 for a Federation Chanukah party with a bunch of people I won’t know (this party will be a bunch of people I do know, plus some I don’t know).

And now I must get back to cleaning (well, straightening up and putting stuff away) in preparation for my super-duper cleaning dude who comes tomorrow.


22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all! I called my sister this morning to wish her a happy T’giving, and mentioned that I’m a whole lot more thankful this year than last. I am grateful for my amazing family, my incredible friends, my supportive community. I am grateful to G-d for giving me the strength I needed to survive the past year. I’m grateful to my ex for calling off the wedding, because if he hadn’t, I suspect we’d be divorcing. And I am grateful for the many, many blessings in my life.

And in other news, I’ve been tagged by the lovely Samantha.

Here are the Rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog.

OK, here we go…

1. I hate walking less than about 10 feet behind someone. I will put on a burst of speed and pass the offender. Often when this happens, I have a racetrack commentary in my head: “And Midnite99 is closing in…and she takes a commanding lead!” Bizarre.

2. I was once in a fight, in junior high school. I use the term “fight” loosely, because really I was knocked around a few times; I suspect I did absolutely nothing defensive or offensive in said “fight.” Some girl a year ahead of me (and at least two years older than I, since I am young for my year) and somewhat bigger than I made lewd, insulting comments about my sister at lunch. I said, “You can’t say that about my sister.” She said, “Who’s gonna stop me — you?” I gulped, swallowed, and said, “Um, yeah!” None of my friends were in my lunch period, because they were all in band or chorus and had a later lunch. So this girl led me out of the cafeteria into the anteroom that had racks for books and backpacks, and she slammed me into it a few times, then walked away, laughing. I stood there, stunned, for a few minutes, then went to the principal’s office because I didn’t know where else to go. He asked what had happened and I told him, though I refused to repeat what the girl had said (to this day, I’ve never told anyone). Apparently, he called my Mom at work and told her, “Your daughter Midnite99 was in a fight today — and we’re so proud of her!”

3. I have a terrible short-term memory. If I don’t write it down immediately, I will forget it. This is true at work, at home, etc. If I have to do an errand after work and it’s not on my usual path, I will sing a song about it over and over and over until I’ve turned onto the proper street or what have you. For example: “I’m gonna get some gas today, gas today, gas today. I’m gonna get some gas today, before my car runs out.”

4. I’ve more or less given up my infeasible dream of being an astronaut, because (even post-LASIK) my vision isn’t good enough, and I don’t know any astrophysics. But if I could do absolutely anything in the world and not have to worry about money, I would want to try my hand at being a writer.

5. I’m still sort of semi-secretly hoping that, living in LA, I will eventually be discovered and cast in a movie and become a star.

OK, here’s where I’m supposed to tag 5 people. But there aren’t so many people who have blogs of their own who know about this blog, so that will be tricky. But I can do three: Stacey, Loverville, and Michelle — tag, you’re it!

Oh, how the years go by

4 November 2007

Wait, where did October go? How is it November already?

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Let’s see…the week before I left for vacation was awesome. Monday night I saw a Broadway concert with a friend; she has declared me her new theatre buddy, which totally works for me. Tuesday was the night I was officially declared not-single. Wednesday was…um, a blur of packing and cleaning and such. Thursday night was girls’ night — several of my friends came here first for appetizers (port which was SO yummy, crackers, gruyere and blue cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, baby carrots), then we met up with the rest of our crowd at a nearby sushi restaurant. There were a dozen of us total, and the meal cost less than $20 per person on average (including an 18% tip!). We had a blast. And I realized, looking around the table, that of the 11 women there, only one had been a close friend of mine a year ago. Five were people I knew a year ago, but only casually. And five were people who only moved to town within the last year (4 only arrived during the summer!). Yet they’re now all friends of mine. I’ve been to meals at almost all of their apartments, and have had most of them over to mine. It’s amazing how much can happen in a year.

And on the Friday that I was leaving (on an 11.30 red-eye), A. e-mailed me at work to say he could come over to say goodbye before I left, and he offered to take me to the airport. So I cancelled my SuperShuttle reservation, made us a last-minute Shabbat dinner, and got to spend a couple extra hours with him, which was nice. Then off I went to the East Coast, where I saw my brother, sister-in-law, and niece in NJ; two friends from work, one friend from college, and an old family friend in NYC; friends from college in Bethesda and DC; and friends from LA in Potomac. Good stuff, all around. My friends rock.

A. picked me up from the airport Sunday night, and we hung out again on Monday night. On Wednesday, I had a long-overdue dinner with Samantha and got to catch up with her, which was so good. A. was coming over after dinner, so she met him, and I am very glad that at least one of my friends has met him in person! She left, and A. and I just hung out for a bit before he went to a Halloween event at a club where a friend of his was DJing around 11.30. That’s past my bedtime, though, so at his recommendation, I opted out.

After services on Friday night, I had dinner right near Universal Studios, at my friend D.’s brother’s condo. D. is a friend from USY and from college; he lives in Boston but was in town for a conference. I hadn’t seen him in about three years. I got a bit lost on the way there, twice — first, somehow I totally missed Highland and had to backtrack, then I found Highland and got on Caheunga but somehow (without turning) ended up on some totally dark street that dead-ended in a chain-link fence and gate that said, “No Public Access.” Then I remembered that I have a GPS, so I plugged her in and let her guide me the rest of the way.

Saturday morning, I led the first half of services, and later went to lunch at a friend’s apartment. She has a cat, and before I go to her place I always medicate heavily, which gets me through for about an hour to an hour and a half. Saturday night, A. taught a friend of his (the one who’d DJed on Halloween) to make sushi, and her girlfriend and I got to reap the fruits of their labors. I didn’t want to show up empty-handed, so I made truffles (see below) which were a BIG hit. The girls also live right near Universal, and I managed not to get lost, which was a plus.

After dinner, I followed A. back to his place so we could hang out for a while, taking advantage of the fact that although it felt like 11, effectively it was only 10 because of changing the clocks. I have so far changed my watch and my microwave clock (and the car’s clock), but haven’t yet hit my alarm clock, the spare room alarm clock, or the clock and old digital watch in my bathroom. The cable box, computer, and cell phone are all smart enough to change themselves.

As you might have guessed, things with A. are going well. I am trying (a) not to jinx myself, (b) to stay in the moment and not get too far ahead of myself, (c) not to make up problems where none exist. I told my friend D. on Friday night that I hadn’t heard from A. since Wednesday, and normally we e-mail daily. But when D. heard that I’d seen him three times that week already, and had plans for Saturday night (though I didn’t know when or where), he said that for sure I shouldn’t worry. His advice was, “As long as the next date is planned, you definitely don’t have to worry.” Good rule of thumb.

This past Shabbat marked the 36th anniversary of the Library Minyan, the lay-led minyan at my shul. They had special services and a dinner and luncheon over Shabbat, possibly some sort of party last night, and speakers today. I did not attend any of it except Friday night services, since they were combined with the service I normally attend. When I saw the Exec Director on Friday night, she asked if I were going to the Sunday event, and I said no. She asked, “Could you stop by just to meet someone?” It took me a moment to understand, and then I sort of stumbled over my words to say, “Oh! Um, I’m actually seeing someone right now, so, um, no.” It’s funny, I am not at all used to having a boyfriend. But I wouldn’t mind getting used to it.

Last Friday, 26 October, I started the day with H. in Bethesda, then went to R. & J.’s place in Potomac where I was spending Shabbat. That day marked one year since the “disengagement,” which honestly only occurred to me a few times during the day. R. told me that she was so proud of me for the growth and self-awareness I’ve achieved during the last year. H. asked if I would ever have believed then, that now I’d be healthy and happy and healed, and totally ga-ga over a new guy. When I got back to LA, a friend e-mailed me to ask if he could give my e-mail or phone number to a friend of his in New York who is in a bad state after recently being dumped (out of the blue) by her fiance. My friend ended his e-mail with, “Just let me know. (And see what a difference a year makes?)”

In the last year, I’ve cemented a few friendships with people who were incredibly supportive; I’ve let a few friendships drift away with people who weren’t; I’ve become friends with people I hardly knew (or hadn’t even met) a year ago. Time really is an amazingly powerful healer.

* * *

Pumpkin Chocolate Almond Truffles with Amaretto

The original recipe was this.

1/2 c pumpkin puree
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp margarine
1/4 c amaretto (or kahlua, or other liqueur — strong cold coffee would probably work, too)
2 egg yolks (OR 2 Tbsp Eggbeaters — or in my case, 2 Tbsp Simply Whites)
1 c toasted almonds*, ground
2 c powdered (or superfine) sugar
Cocoa powder (for coating truffles)

1. Spoon pumpkin puree onto double layer of paper towels, cover with another double layer of paper towels, and press gently to squeeze out excess liquid. Leave covered with paper towels until step 4.

2. Melt chocolate and margarine in medium-to-large mixing bowl in microwave for 45 seconds and stir. Microwave again for another 45 seconds. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool a few minutes. (Use this time to measure out your other ingredients.)

3. Stir in liqueur and egg yolk. Whisk until smooth.

4. Add ground almonds, sugar, and pumpkin. Whisk or stir until smooth.

5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, refrigerate at least one hour.

6. Pour some cocoa (start with 1/3 cup, you can always add more if you need it) into a shallow bowl. Remove truffle mixture from fridge. Scoop with a mellon baller and roll into small balls (3/4 inch diameter, maybe?) and roll them in cocoa. Put in wax-paper-lined airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Made approx. 36 truffles.

*To toast almonds: either stir often in [ungreased!] saucepan over medium heat until golden brown, or bake at 350 on [ungreased!] baking sheet for 10-15 minutes and stir occasionally


I had to make a few changes and substitutions which I was afraid had rendered the mixture unusable — for one thing, I was planning to use two egg yolks’ worth of Eggbeaters, but my Eggbeaters had gone bad and all I had was “Simply Whites.” I figured the yolk was there as a binder to hold the mixture together, and I didn’t think egg whites would work, and indeed the mix was really gooey and sticky. But I managed to shape it into small balls, which held their shape after being rolled in cocoa powder, and they were SO yummy.

Also, I couldn’t find ground almonds (or almond meal, or almond flour) at the store. I had slivered almonds which I ground in the food processor, but I didn’t toast them first. I suspect that toasting them gets rid of their moisture, so that when they’re ground you actually get something like flour. Since mine retained their moisture, I got something a bit more textured than flour. I decided to add the word “Almond” to the name of the truffle — i.e., treat it as a feature, not a bug.

I didn’t realize when I began that I didn’t have any powdered sugar (oops!). I did have superfine sugar (which you can buy directly, or you can make by running an equivalent amount of granulated sugar through a food processor for about 30-60 seconds — if you do this, make sure you wait a minute before you open the food processor so you don’t choke on a cloud of sugar dust!). It seemed to work just fine.

I made a double recipe and got more truffles out of it than the 28 the original recipe indicated. I must have a smaller mellon baller or something. I’ve given the measurements and quantities that I used. Also, mine might be somewhat healthier since I used trans-fat-free Smart Balance margarine rather than butter.