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!" 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scene: Dining Room

Amanda, Adib, and I are studying in the dining room. Papa L. is cleaning the dishes in the kitchen while Josh is singing in the living room. Mama L. is coming down the stairs.
Mama L.: "Now they have to wait till it's this late to fight over the bathroom! Vlad, tell Maddie she should shower in the morning!"
Papa L.: "MADDIE!" (Shouts to upstairs) "YOU SHOULD SHOWER IN THE MORNING!"
Amanda: "UGH!" (Trying to do homework in the dining room) "Can everyone be QUIET?"
Maddie: "I need to brush my teeth!" (shouts to downstairs)
Papa L.: "Isn't that a benzophaliene?" (Looks at Amanda's homework)
Amanda: "Dad! That's not a benzophaliene! That's a cephlophaline!" (those aren't actual words)
Mama L.: "The benzenes are always greener!" (to the tune of Under the Sea)
Amanda: "Can't we just have some silence?! I'm trying to do my homework! I should have asked for noise-cancelling headphones for my birthday!"
Me: "You got pants!"
Mama L.: "Amanda! Take your pants off the counter! They'll get cat hair on them!"
Amanda: "I said I'd do that later! They don't have cat hair on them now..."
Mama L.: "But they're new..."
Josh: "This is the SONG THAT NEVER ENDS!" (sings and clanks crutches to the floor)
Amanda: Can you just stop singing! Why isn't there a place in the house that is completely silent!?!?
Adib: I can take everyone's noise. It's Amanda's complaining that makes me annoyed!
Josh: (Turns on sink. The wall starts thumping rapidly.)
Mama L: Josh!
Josh: That's not me! That's Maddie turning on the shower!" (Josh turns on the faucet more and the thumping gets worse)
Mama L: "Josh, STOP THAT!"
Amanda: Why does everyone in our family have to sing?
Papa L.: "You know I got BOSE headphones. From my work. They were doing constructions at the office and I got angry so they got me $300 headphones!"
Amanda: "Can I get headphones? Cause I'm getting ANGRY!"
Amanda: "Shut up, Mom!!!"
Me: "Amanda... don't say shut up to your mommy...."
Papa L.: "Aw.. pumpkin."
Mama L: I'd like an apology. And why don't you talk to your grandma!"
Josh: (singing under the sea)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

That time I went through a storm for a long-sleeved crop top

Brandy Melville is a CA girl staple store. This means a girl in search of the 90's grunge-inspired, laid-back, cool girl effect will wind up with a BM top in their repertoire. I'm obsessed with the trend. I'm not the trendiest gal, but after finding a cozy long-sleeved one-size fits all (which usually is a pain, but worked delectably this time around) grey stretch-fabric number at a gently-used clothing store over Winter Break, I re-fell in love. I'd been into the trend summer 2013 when it was obsessed with floral crop tops and loose hoodies. After months in middle-of-know-where upstate NY college, seeing the Brandy Melville word art on a window caused me to relapse HARD. But not hard enough...

I saw this cute semi-cropped ribbed marble-colored long-sleeve top and tried it on immediately. The sleeves were stretchy and the top form-fit in the best way. But it was $21 and eh... do I really need another basic?

My lovely Bostonian-native friend and my boyfriend continued our journey through the Boston shopping district. We went through a comic store (nerd paradise!) and Nike (where my boyfriend was in awe by the funky-colored sneaks). However, after each store, my thoughts traced back to the Brandy Melville top.

It fit like a glove. Why didn't I just buy the damn thing?

"I want to buy the shirt!" I announced to my friends at the library. By this point, we were a good twenty-minute/ten block distance away. But the sun burst through the breach of cumulus in the sky and the Asian beat boxer was outside doing his thing (beatboxing through his speakers a combo of Barbie Girl and dubstep) and I felt all the good vibes. They said they'd wait at the train station.

So I started trekking back toward BM. And suddenly, the sun disappeared. I felt a raindrop on my head.


Then, it started raining. Pouring. Hailing.

Everyone was caught off guard. A pair of Korean girls in hood-less sweaters were drenched. A mom pushing her baby in a stroller was disdainfully sipping her bubble tea. A man was waving around a half-bent umbrella that grew more tangled as the wind gained speed. I felt like I were about to be blown away! Outdoor mannequin displays toppled down the cement stairs. The American Apparel sign fell over as I passed by it.

I finally entered the store. The supervisors were gossiping about the weather's bipolorness. I got the last Breanne Crop Top in the store. It was the top hanging as a display.

Angel's Winter-Spring Transition Style Picks

The weather is ranging from the 30's-40's. That means the colored-khaki shorts and cropped Lulus have reemerged from Colgate student's closets, haha. For all of you who don't believe the 30's qualify as shorts temperature, you should know that last month was a rough time-- basically, everyone would cheer when the weather surpassed the negatives...

The best part about this weather is that I can finally wear my leather riding boots again! It's not quite time to store my heavy-duty 'Joan of Arctic' winter boots for good, but it's nice getting those clumpy shoes off my feet for a while.

Here are some of the cute things I love to wear during the lovely transition time between Winter and Spring in Upstate NY.

My Go-To Outfit
When I don't know what to wear, here are the basics I need to build a quick outfit.

1) Cozy Cardigan or Structured Jacket
2) Layering Tanks and Tees
3) Leggings/Jeans
4) Boots (Riding/Military/Booties/all the boots!)
5) Dainty Accessories (My personal everyday accessories are my jade studs my boyfriend gifted me from a Native American jewelry vendor in New Mexico, my Alex and Ani lady bug bangle, and my blue elephant bracelet by Cruciani.)
6) A neutral everyday bag

Transition Time Lust List

Cozy Cardis 

Apricot Long-sleeved Shawl-Inspired Cardigan by Sheinside (only $20 right now!)

Structured Jackets
Troopa Jacket by Talula, Aritzia ($130)
Talula Troopa Jacket, Aritzia ($120)
Talula Troop Jacket, $110
Talula Akasaka Jacket, $120... okay, I'm apparently obsessed with all of Aritizia's Talula line jackets

The Downtown Field Jacket by J.Crew $148 (I bought this in Navy when it was on sale in Fall! I wear this thing to death. And Michelle Obama has it)

Layering Tanks and Tees
American Eagle Outfitters ($34.99)
AEO Embroidered Eyelet T-Shirt
Fluttered Top by Anthropologie $88
Fluttered Maya Blouse
Dusky Ombre Denim Top Anthropologie ($78)
Dusky Ombre Tee
Eyelit Hem-stitched peasant top by Madewell $88
Eyelet-Hem Stitched Peasant Top
Rivet and Threat Chambray Peplum Top Madewell $98
Rivet & Thread Chambray Peplum Tank
Brandy Melville Breanne Top, 21 (I actually bought this from the Boston Shopping District today!)

Lululemon, $82
Wunder Under Pant

Schuler & Sons Chelsea Boots ($69, were $188) Anthropologie
Schuler & Sons Chelsea Booties

Also, warm socks :)
TNA Birken Socks (haha) from Aritzia $15

Dainty Accessories
American Eagle "Opal" Necklace ($9.50)
AEO Gemstone Necklace - Buy Two, Get One Free!
Full Swing Bracelet by Madewell $16.50 (was $24.99)
Neutral Bag
Willa Hobo Bag by Anthropologie ($249)
Willa Hobo Bag