Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Adventures Working Retail

Random old guys.

     I was organizing a display when an old man came up to me and began complaining about the price of our store's items. This happens so often. It's as if customers think I actually have control over product prices. 
     "Is too expensive!" he said sternly. "All this... cost too much!" He had a serious look in his eyes, and, this being my third day, I was unsure how to respond and fell back on the default sales-associate smile and nod. That seemed to invite him to banter on. "You know," he paused dramatically, "Some people have houses for two million dollars. Two million! There are people so low and people up in space."
     "Whoa," I replied. "People are up in space now?"
     "No no, not in planets," he sighed. "My English is not very good," he shook his head. He talked at a slow pace, uttering each word with heavy care. "Some people live on one dollar a day. I know these things because I went to university." At this point, I was kind of staring at him like, why are you talking to me? I work commission, and I'm trying to sell things to people. All these paying customers are waltzing buy. Ugh, so many lost sales. You are obviously not going to buy anything.
       "Where are you from?" I asked.
      "I am from Iran. Do you know it?"
      "Is that where people speak Arabic?" I asked. I'm definitely not as worldly as I'd like to be.
      "No no, Arabic is for Egyptians," he gently corrected. "I speak Farsi."
      "How do you say 'hello' in Farsi?" I inquired.
       "Salaam," he said with a smile.
       He then continued his depressing train of thought, "How much you have to work to make 1 million dollars?" I made my guesses, to which he shook his head. "Five years if you spent your money on nothing else." If this conversation couldn't get any more depressing, he started talking about how "People...there are so many dying from sickness!"
      To which I replied, "Oh yeah, Ebola's pretty bad right now."
      "Yes, Ebola," he stretch out the word.
      "And some people just die from diarrhea because of unclean water," I added. He proceeded to discuss his own illnesses.
      "I have convulsion. I am shaking," he noted his arms. I had noticed them, flesh withered with age, vibrating uncontrollably. "My body is shaking. I am seventy-five years old. I have diabetes," he sighed.
      "Well, at least you don't have Ebola."
      "Ahahaha..." he laughed for the first time in our conversation. Yes, he has a sense of humor!
      I replied, "It's a good things I don't have diabetes because then I would be so sad. I love ice cream."
      "Ice cream," he laughed. "Cookies, cake! I eat everything you eat and more even though I have diabetes."
      "That's not good for you!" I replied.
      "Not good!"
       "Do you recommend any Persian desserts?"
       Baba... I woman called across glass bays of fine jewelry.
       "I'm here!" he said. "My daughter." He mentioned to a woman in her mid-thirties holding multiple shopping bags. She looked rushed and modern, a contrast to her patient and rustic father.
        "Baba, let's go," she commanded.
         "Salaam," I told him as he was being shuffled away by his daughter.
          He smiled goodbye and said, "Try. try the.." (I didn't catch the last word, but I think it was the name of a Persian dessert.)

Personal shopper.

     A peppy Asian mom was flipping through our sparkley costume jewelry. I approached her as I did most customers with a "Hello! What are we shopping for today?" I was glad that she did not respond with the classic *sigh*/glare/"Just browsing." Instead, she was eager for advice. "I'm looking for jewelry to go with my dress. I am going to a wedding!" After showing me an image of her dress, a black midi with gold detailing, I led her to our gorgeous selection of gold jewelry with radiant crystals. I immediately pulled my favorite pair of earrings and the matching bangle. "I love your taste," she laughed.
     "I love your purse!" It was a nude Kate Spade hand bag in a classic, round silhouette. I told her that it was nude and would match with anything. She also wanted new shoes for the occasion, and I suggested a nude to match the purse and also be versatile for everyday. She was so pleased with my advice that she asked me to help her out in the shoe department (yay, my first time branching out of jewelry.)
     Her son arrived at the store as we were browsing heels that were "too high!" for the wedding and definitely to be a comfortable everyday pair. I then pulled a chic pair of Via Spigas. They were nude (I am a big believer in versatility!), comforatble (low heel), and just trendy enough with a modern open sandal detail and cross ankle straps to impress at a wedding occasion!

    After I rang her up, she put her right arm around my left and started guiding me out of the mall so that I could help her shop at another department store! Her son joked, "Mom! I don't think we can take her with us!" I laughed as I had to tell her good-bye. That ended my short run as a personal stylist.

You don't polish gold.
     I was helping a kind woman find a pair of everyday gold-colored hoops. She was quite happy with my suggestion and was nearly ready to check out. "I think I'll just browse this section a bit," she said and I was about to tell her about the sale promotion we were having on that brand when all of the sudden, another woman called out to get my attention.
     "Do you work here?" she snapped.
    "I've been waiting here for like... ten minutes already and no one has offered to help me!" I looked around the department, and it was obvious we at a busy hour. All of my coworkers were occupied.
    "I'm sorry," I replied cordially. "We are quite busy right now, but I'm sure someone will come to you as soon as they are done."
    The woman I was helping find hoops graciously said, "It's fine. You can help her. I'll just be browsing, and I'll come to you once I'm ready."
    "Thank you," I smiled. Then, I proceeded to help the other woman.
    "I'd like to see these earrings," she demanded. I took out the pure gold pieces and handed them to her. Her brow furrowed, she eyed the earrings speculatively. "Could you polish these? I think this one might have a scratch. Actually, are there anymore in stock? Like in the back. Untouched."
     "Let me check for you," I replied. I checked our system, but unfortunately, there were none at our store location. I told her this, and she demanded I give her a polishing cloth. The only polishing cloth I knew of was the one used to clean watches. It was a bit yellowed from age. As I handed it to her, she glared and said, "I feel like this polishing cloth will scratch the earrings" but proceeded to polish the pair anyway. As she inspected them, the woman who had gone to browse came back. At this point, the woman holding the polishing cloth retorted, "You go help her. I'll just wait." I quickly rang up the woman's hoops, and she gave me a look of genuine sympathy as she left. I proceeded to continue helping the woman inspecting the gold earrings.
     "I'll take them," she said. "They're a gift for my daughter."
     "Oh," I said. "That's sweet. These are beautiful." I rang up her total and asked a coworker about fine jewelry pouches. She pointed toward some drawers so I proceeded to search through them. I could not find the fine jewelry pouches, at which point my customer exasperatedly said, "Did you find them yet?"
     "No," I sighed. "I'm so sorry for wasting your time, but..." Thankfully, two of my coworkers came to my rescue. They helped me find the proper pouch, but that did not stop the customer from yelling, "You shouldn't be selling jewelry!" She proceeded to demand a fresh polishing cloth, so we had to take one from the stockpile of the only brand that came with them.  She then argued with us about our records policy. I had given her the price tag of the item, when we were supposed to keep it in our file. The woman contested, "But she was just about to give it to me!"
     My coworker replied, "Yeah, but she's new!" Needless-to-say, the customer left furious.
     I was so down afterword that I had to take a ten and sob a little in the bathroom. The customer was literally terrifying and sunk my moral. Her comment "You shouldn't even be selling jewelry!" replayed over and over. Back on the floor, I evidently still looked down. One of my coworkers came up to me and asked if I wanted to talk for a bit because I looked upset. I continued fussing over the jewelry displays as she said, "Don't worry about that lady. She's just like my evil Aunt! Some people just make others feel bad. I bet she'll forget all about it and be mad at someone else really soon." I smiled and she continued being a total sweetheart. "You're a great salesperson, and you can't let her bring you down."
     Later, I told my manager about the situation and said I was so sorry if the woman would complain about our department because of my unfamiliarity with the fine jewelry procedure. My manager replied that next time, I should call her if I ever feel like a customer is getting upset. Also, gold does not need to be polished.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Foodie Find 1: Bingsoo

     According to Wikipedia, "A foodie is a gourmet,"  (Oooh... a gourmet. That sounds so fancy.) "a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger." I'm not sure I'm a "gourmet," but I definitely make a hobby out of trying new foods!

     Patbingsoo ("beans with ice" in Korean) is a shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings. I tried my first bowl at Mealtop, a mall food venue. The cashier offered me two small samples, one in the classic milk flavor poured over shaved ice and one with strawberry topping. The milk ice topping tasted like vanilla ice cream (yum!), but I decided to go with the strawberry order because it was sweeter (and I have the taste buds of a sugar-addicted child). At Mealtop, all bingsoo treats ($4.95) come with a small side of red bean paste and mochi!
     I used to eat similar shaved ice treats a different mall shop with my middle school friends, so eating at Mealtop definitely made me nostalgic. It was a little different because they used flavored ice blocks instead of adding a topping to plain ice shavings.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June Haul

Me a month a go: "Oh, I'll just bring a carry-on suit case. I'll only be able to carry back to uni what I need, so I'll be motivated to control my spending!"

Then, I got a job at one of my favorite stores (which meant 1) 20% discount and 2) baby needs to buy work outfits), I was facing post-breakup hollowness (and what's better then some retail therapy?), I tend to go shopping with people who are as much of a shopaholic as I am (thanks, Mom and Tiffany), and there are so many cute summery trends I haven't tried yet, and they were on sale... so

Ladies and gentleman, the demise of my wallet:

Clothes for Work: business casual/ trendy

Tesori Boots (Nordstrom Rack) $44.97 → discounted to $36

Sam Edelman 'Felicia' Flat (Nordstrom Rack)
Originally $99.95 → $59.97 → discounted to $45

bar iii dress (Macy's)
Originally $79.50 → $20.98

Frenchi chiffon blazer (Nordstrom) $58 → discounted to $30

J, Crew flounce tank top $49.50 → $34.99 + 50% off → $17.99

Anthropologie Dress $148 → $25

Forever 21 Love 21 Dress $27.30 → $18.99 

Random clothing

Forever 21 $FREE! (Buy one, get one free)

Forever 21 Romper $15.90

Forever 21 Dress $12.90

Forever 21 High-Waisted Shorts $12.90

Free People Skort (Macy's) $98 → $72 + 50% off ONE OF A KIND discount → $36

Abercrombie and Fitch Soft Pants $58 → $9.99 (Memorial Day Sale)

Paige Denim Jacket (Nordstrom) $199 → $104

Cold Shoulder Blouse by Decree (JC Penney) $20 → $9.99

Lululemon Run Speed Short $58 → $42

American Eagle Blouse (Hand-me-down from a friend)

American Eagle Skirt (Hand-me-down from a friend)


 Left to right: Forever 21 Y-Necklace $5.80, Oyster Alex and Ani in Silver (gift from Adib), Vintage Alex and Ani  (Nordstrom Rack) $38 → $15

 Dogeared 18'' Necklace (Nordstrom Rack) $48 → $18

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's in My Makeup Bag? (And mini-reviews of my favorite products)

I like makeup because its a socially-appropriate way to draw on my face. 

Oldie but Goodie: Maybelline Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Eyeliner $8 + 
This bad boy had been in my makeup collection for years. I'm pretty sure I bought the product (photograph below) when I was fifteen. There is still a decent amount of product in it, but makeup does expire (collects bacteria, in the case of mascara the formula gets gunkier), so I figured it would be best to repurchse from the lovely Target. Typically, if I keep an eye product for too long, my eyes show irritation in the form of redness and tiny zits. 

Why I love it: It barely fades and does not budge or smudge on your upperlash line. It does smudge a bit on the lower lash line, but I don't really use it down there. Brown gives a nice, natural look and brings out the brown in my eyes. 

Gel Eyeliner after ~4 years of use (not daily, but often for light lining on upper lash line)

Ratchet brush after ~4 years of use and much washing

My eye brush + liner collection
Elf Eyeshadow Brush ($1 from Target)
EcoTools Flat Shader Brush (purchased in a pack 5+ years ago)
Estee Lauder Shadow Brush (gift from mom)
Max Bronze Eyeliner ($3 from grocery store. Fun to line lower lash on a summery day)
Sephora Eyeliner (gift from mom)
Maybelline Ultra Liner Waterproof ($6-7 from Target, not the best. Can flake off a bit, but overall makes thick opaque marks. I use this for dance performances or going out.)

Mascara and Friend:
Covergirl Lashblast in Waterproof $8+
Why I love it: It's waterproof so it holds my curl. It does not smudge at all! I would not say it's totally water proof (will smudge if you swim with it haha) but its great for everyday. It lengthens and does a good job of thickening. Not as dramatic as Maybelline's Falsies, but its a lot easier to get off with makeup remover (Falsies formula is so difficult to get off! It's so much of a hastle, I stick with Covergirl even though I find Falsies' brush more volumizing). 
Sephora Eyelash Curler $17
Why I love it: Way pricer than I'd usually go for a curler (drug store curlers are typically $4), but it is the best curler I've found for my eye shape. Does not pinch, and fits an almond (Asian) shape. Can't quite get the outler lashes in one squeeze, but if you do two pinches (one for inner/middle and one for outermost) you'll get a splendid curl.

Benefit World Famous Neutrals $30
Why I'm "Meh" about it: The packaging is cute, but inconveniently bulky in an unnecessarily thick box. The colors are nice neutrals but there's nothing special about them. Decently pigmented and nice for everyday. I really like "it's complicated" and the small shimmer shadow pots. I use this on the daily, but I wouldn't repurchase it for $30. 

Miscellaneous Makeup Pallets:
Claire's Glitter Duo (gift from my friend, Alissa)
Estee Lauder (free gift)
Lancome (free gift)
Wet & Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio in Walking on Eggshells $3
Stila Snowflake Holiday Palette $5 (Nordstrom Rack)
Why I love it: Super silky shadows. Great for neutrals. Nice, dark pigmented browns. 

Neutrogena Chapstick with SPF 15 (free with banana boat sunscreen purchase)
Lush Bubblegum Lipscrub $9.95
Estee Lauder Lipstick in Bois de Rose (part of gift set)
EOS Lip Balm $3
Sonia Kashuk Lipsticks $8 each (in Coraline and Sheer Orchid)
Burt's Bees $8 (Rose tinted)
Why I love it: It's lipstick with the texture and feel of chapstick. It gives your lips a noticable red tint and moisture. Great for an everyday color. 

Bath and Bodywork Pink Passion Fruit Hand Sanitizer
Nair Hair Remover Mini
Revlon Nail Files
Elf Eyelid Primer $2
Why I love it: Keeps eyeshadows and liners on my lid! Does crease after a long day, but it gets the job preserving a look. For $2, its totally my go-to base under natural makeup looks. 
Revlon Tweezers

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion

 "Sioux" Bracelet by Aurelie Bidermann
142 "Chinese New Year Sheep Clutch" by Kate Spade
kate spade new york Hello Tokyo Coin Purse,Kinetic Turquoise/Metropolis Green,One Size"Hello Tokyo" Coinpurse by Kate Spade

Are you excited or offended?

I have some friends who are very fervent about cultural appropriation, arguing that if you are not of the culture, you should not be sporting their culturally-connotative goods. I see how this argument makes sense. I kind of cringe when non-Indian teen girls parade in Native American headdresses. It's a misuse of a cultural status symbol as a fashion accessory. The act reeks of ignorance and disrespect for a culture. I cringe, but is it wrong? It carrying a "Hello Tokyo" kitsch coin purse offensive to Japanese culture? Just because its stereotypical in design does not mean the object intends to offend or cheapen the culture. Native American-inspired jewelry is often considered wrong because it makes money off of "stolen" tribal designs. Ideally, Native Americans alone would profit from their style of tribal design. But is it really "stolen?" Who decides a design's source? What makes something original and something appropriated? And when something is appropriated, when does appropriation become an offensive act?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Up in the Air: The Best Phrase To Describe My Summer Plans

 Welcome to my office! (Aka my bedroom where I blog and search for a summer opportunity.) 

At the end of my sophomore year of college, it seemed like everyone had an internship or summer research... well, everyone except me. And its not like I wasn't trying to find an internship. I applied to two biology research programs, a scenic design internship, six graphic design internships, a fashion design internship, and a summer assistant job. I was rejected to everything aside from the summer assistant position. I was happy with the summer assistant position for about an hour. I'd be staying on campus, spending the summer with my friends doing research, and still make more money that I had to spend for on-campus housing and food. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I did not want the job. "Summer assistant" meant a full-time job of filing for the entire summer. I would have appreciated the money, but the thought of sitting alone at a desk and filling until the sun went down each day killed me inside. I need a job that allows me to be creative and interact with people.

After the summer assistant offer, I finally received interviews for some of the graphic design positions I had applied to and coveted. So, I decided to turn the summer assistant job down in pursuit of real-world experience.

The first job sounded pretty neat. The work dress code was business casual and I'd actually get to work on design projects with the team. 

The second job was absolutely perfect. It was a graphic design opportunity based at an Ohio coding company. After interviewing over Google Hangout with the co-founder and Graphic Designer, there was nothing I wanted more than to work for them. They asked the best interview question, "How weird are you on a scale from 1-10?" And they were offering a paid internship for someone to just help them create a plethora of content: posters, brochures, info graphics, and everything else. 

Unfortunately, taking the risk to interview instead of staying cozily with my summer assistant opportunity did not pay off. For the first company, I was pretty nervous over the phone and ended up getting denied a second-round interview. The second company in Ohio never even notified me that I'd been rejected, but after two weeks of no contact, I stopped hoping for a reply.

This all occurred between spring break and finals week (basically the most stressful stretch of my life). There were essays, exams (three between April 1 and 2), ballet rehearsals for Dancefest and the Spring Showcase, club meetings for MSA and OASIS, event posters and brochures to make at work, and a sprinkle of cheer practices. Days went by too fast and by the end of the week, I'd be too tired to go out with friends. Luckily, my lovely boyfriend would keep me company during the weekend nights I just wanted to be a hermit. 

Meanwhile, everyone asked, "So, what are your plans for this summer?" This time, it was asked by a well-spoken, boat-shoe and pink-short wearing boy from suburban Connecticut.
"I don't know yet," I laughed.
"How do you not know what you're doing yet?" he seemed genuinely confused. "I'm working as a medical assistant in a hospital."
"What does that mean?" I replied.
"I don't actually know..." he stated, perplexed. 

The school year ended and I was jobless and intershipless. I was tired in general and tired of rejection. The last thing I wanted to do was apply only to receive more words trying to let me down easy.  March 31st (email) "Thank you for applying... Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer you a position at this time..." March 16th "All the positions have been filled. Thank you for your interest." April 18th (voice mail) "Thank you for applying, but we decided to go with another intern..." May 5th (email) "All of the positions have been filled with candidates that more appropriately fill our current needs at the time. We encourage you to apply again in the future. Wishing you all the best with your search..." April 30th "I'll be in touch with you early next week regarding next steps." (No emails were sent two weeks later).  

I told my boyfriend I didn't want to apply to anything anymore. He replied, "That's too bad." 

"Why would you say that?" I spat. "Stop making me feel guilty for not wanting to be rejected AGAIN. I've faced enough rejections this summer." 

"I got rejected too. No one got summer internships. Everyone I know is doing independent research." 

It was then when I realized how spoon-fed I'd been my whole life. I'd been so used to getting on tracks, the "AP" track, "extracirriculars" tracks, and "A" tracks got me into college. Though I didn't know which college I'd get into, as long as I stayed "on track" I'd get in somewhere. Now, there isn't a track, and a few weeks ago, I was crying, anxiety-ridden, and on the verge on giving up because I'd gotten into my head that there was a "track" for getting an internship. Something along the lines of, if I get good grades, have a great portfolio, resume, and coverletter, and nail the interview, I'd be in. But its different when you job search. You could be the most qualified person, but someone had a better interview presence or had a network advantage. No matter how many jobs you apply for, you might not get any, even if you are qualified.

It's morbid, but it's reality. And another reality is that I'm too stubborn to give up fighting for my dream. I don't have an end goal and I don't have a path. I simply know that I want to keep exploring graphic design.

My boyfriend (the Econ major) always tells me that it comes down to "cost-benefit analysis." Basically, how does the cost (rejection) compare to the benefit (possible graphic design opportunity)? If the benefit of applying for internships and jobs outweighs the cost, I get positive utility (happiness) if not, I get negative utility.

Now, I'm at my desk searching for more things to apply to. I'm sailing my resume and semi-similar cover letters into the void of the internet. Hopefully something good will happen.

Stay tuned for updates of my summer journey.


5/11/15 Just received an email from one of the graphic design internships I recently applied to for an interview. It's a non-profit (unpaid) and 36 minutes away, but I would be able to help the company with branding and webdesign! *fingers crossed*

5/12/15 Just heard back from the internship in Ohio. Unfortunately, they could not follow through with the internship position because their company was short of funding. :( However, I did hear back from a second non-profit (also unpaid and 32 minutes away). Now, I have two Q&A sessions with start-up CEOs between today and tomorrow! Even though neither opportunity is paid and both require quite the commute, I am eager to speak more with each founder and hear more about their companies. Hopefully I get a graphic design position! Both promise hands-on experience, which is what I've been searching for.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Shabbat Experience in the Chabad

On the Road Again
We were on our way to the prayer and dinner. Amanda's flying to Botswana in a few months. Discussion of this led to discussion of airlines. Of course talk of Malaysian airlines occurred, and then Josh brought up the Korean airline accident.

Josh "Yeah, the Korean Airline plane accident was on the news, but no one proofread the information. So they said the names of the pilots were 'Wi Tu Lo,' 'Bang Ding Ow,' and 'Ho Lee Fuk.'" We all started laughing except Amanda. 

Amanda "Wait... I get the last one. But can someone explain Wi Tu Lo and Bang Ding Ow?"


Mama L. "Well, these are the names of the pilots, so the first one is about the plane...We too low?"
Amanda "What?"
Me "The plane was flying too low!"  
Amanda "Ohhh.... And what about Bang Ding Ow?"
Me "Those are noises you make when you crash!"
Josh "Bang! The word that follows So! Ding a drop of golden bread! ♫"

Nice to Meet You

The Chabad Amanda goes to set up so that men sit on the left and women sit on the right. Girls are required to wear skirts (knee length or longer) and men wear yamakas. Amanda's parents began introducing us to some of the adults, and one Jewish man wearing a bright cranberry yamaka and whose skin was tan, thick, and dotted with several moles took particular interest in me. (Later, he told me he fought in Vietnam aging him to about 70.) His name's *Harry.

Harry "Where are you from?" 
Me "San Jose, California."
Harry "Hmm?"
Me "California-"
Harry "Oh, California! Not somewhere like... South Korea or Vietnam?" (He chuckles to himself.) "Well I know many Asian women." 
Me "I bet you do." (I smile big and chuckle to myself.) (Sometimes I can't control my sarcasm.)

Thank God prayers started. 

There were around 15 women and 15 men. Between the rows of seats was a six foot tall wooden book shelf serving as a divider. Apparently, women are not allowed to sit in the same seats as men because they may make the chair dirty (if they're on their period). The Rabbi began singing in Hebrew. He had brown hair atop his head and cascading down his face in a thick beard. In place of a yamaka was a black hat, and he wore a long coat. I tried to follow along with the (many) songs in the prayer book. It was exciting trying to keep up (luckily, the symbols were also written in sounded-out-english). 

Following the prayer, we went to the dining room and sang more. We drank grape juice out of tiny Daisy brand cups. Then, the Rabbi recommended we wash our hands. The sink was located outside; it was a faucet that flowed into a large black marble bowl. Next to the faucet, there was a long handled cup. I turned on the sink and let water flow about half way. Then, I poured water over my right hand 3 times and over my left hand 3 times as well. 

When I walked back to the dining table, some adults began haphazardly covering loaves of bread with paper napkins. Amanda's dad explained to me, "We drank the wine first. The napkins are so that the loaves of bread don't get embarrassed! We don't want them to think they're not important." 

There was more singing, and we ate the bread. (I ate a tiny piece because the gluten free thing). Then, we went to get food. I was so excited to eat the salad and beef patties because I was ravenous at this point. In addition, I really wanted some Diet Coke, so I began walking up to the other side of the table. Unfortunately, Harry caught up to me.

"You know, I love Asian women." (Oh, dear God in heaven.) (I smiled awkwardly). "I work with a girl who's an immigrant from Vietnam. Genius! Fullbright scholar. Went to Stanford. Grad school at Duke. Post-doc at Harvard. But she has no street smarts!" 
"Oh, haha.. wow," I replied.
"Her name's CJ. Her actual name's Cynthia but she HATES that."
Then he started telling me a story about how they play tennis. "She has an arm like Serena Williams! But sometimes she just falls over."
"Oh no!" 
"Yeah, you know I've been to Vietnam!"
"For vacation?" I ask.
He stares at me dumbfounded. "No! I was in the war!"
"Like, in the seventies?" I ask.
"Yeah, well the treaty was signed in 75 so early 70's. But anyway, I can tell you lots of stories about the war!" (Please don't.) (He didn't because more prayers were about to happen.)
"Oh, wow..." I feigned interest.
"What your name anyway?" 
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA." (He actually tilts back and cankers out these howling HA's.) 
"You're literally the rudest human I've ever met!" (Just kidding, I didn't say that.) "Why are you laughing?" (I had to ask.)
"Oh, it's nothing." (He chuckles). "Well, you should eat."
"I was going to." (I chuckle because I'M STARVING. Then, I reach past him, steal the Diet Coke bottle, and race away.) 

I wasn't the only one who got subtly smacked by racism. Amanda's dad was verbally tickled as well. He was talking to two adults who asked where he was from.

"I'm from Russia."
"Oh, no! Really? You don't seem to have the accent," said the well-meaning husband.
"He does. I can definitely hear it," the wife interjected. 

Stump the Rabbi
Everyone introduced himself/herself and then asked the Rabbi a question. Adib asked a good question about Jewish laws and whether they can be changed. Others asked about forgiving dead souls and what makes a soul so evil that after death, relatives should pray 12 months instead of 11. I asked about the significance of a Rabbi's beard. (He was kind of tipsy at this point and told me "It's like a uniform... or a costume!" An old man at the table looked at him quizzically. "You know, like how you can tell a firefighter from a police officer.") And Amanda's mom asked about whether g-d will be okay if she doesn't clean the entire house because Mr. Broken Leg (Josh) is making life more difficult to handle. She and Rabbi's wife started gabbing about cheerios getting everyone! The Rabbi's wife "Yeah, my kids like to spread their... love everywhere." She has six kids and definitely knows the feeling. "I'd say do your best. It's the effort g-d will see. I tell my kids before tests, 'Put in the effort. As for the grade, worry about that later.'" Rabbi "I think you just gave her a free pass!" Then, Amanda asked about how evolution fits into the story of creation. (Bio nerd!)

"If Jews believe the earth is 5,775 years old, how does our religion explain dinosaurs?"
Rabbi "Good question- this can be explained because God created a mature earth. You know dinosaur bones can be carbon dated to millions of years old, it's because Earth already had them. Like, when God created the Earth, you could take a tree and cut the rings because the tree was already create thirty years old. It was mature." 

Then, Maddie asked, "Who decided it was 5,775 years old."
Rabbi "God created on the first day 5,775 years ago-"
Rabbi's wife "That's not what she's asking. She knows that creation began that long ago, but who.. kept track."
Rabbi "Oh.... well... in the same way, it's like, how do really know today's Friday? But that's... hmm..."
Old man "I think she stumped the Rabbi!"