Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Ms. Tech-Challenged has a dream (and more tech fun) :)

There I stood, remote control in hand, trying to turn off a television.

I pressed one button, then a second one, then a third, then a fourth.

Gornisht (nothing).

Finally, I walked over to the television and pressed the On/Off/Power button.

Naturally, the TV shut down immediately.  :)

Only a technology-challenged person could have a dream like this.  :)


Speaking of televisions, they used to be a lot easier to hold onto.

Big, old-fashioned TVs--the kind that were much bigger from front to back than from side to side--could be forced to behave (more or less) by an equally old-fashioned method--all one had to do was to place one's hands on both sides and give the TV a good whack.  My sister and I, having taken an ancient family TV to New York City with us for the short time that we were living together, managed to keep that old thing running--more or less--for about 16 years before we finally declared it officially and permanently broken.

Good luck trying that on a wide-screen digital television.


Why is it that one can buy a good old-fashioned landline telephone and have it for ages, but a smartphone has to be replaced roughly every two years?  Our son tells us that technological devices must be replaced more often because technology keeps improving.  Our budget could use a short delay in technological progress, thank you.


Last, but not least, is my pet technology peeve.  Once upon a time, we paid probably not more than $200 for a manual, or even an electric, typewriter, and when it broke, we simply had to pack it up in its carrying case and take it to a repair shop, where the employees repaired it for us and handed it back, in exchange for a fee, completely repaired.

Now, we pay from several hundred to over a thousand dollars for a computer, and, when it breaks, we have to spend literally hours on the phone while the technical support/Help Desk staff talks us through the process of repairing the darned thing ourselves!  Exactly how is that fair?


Monday, March 18, 2019

I'm still on the fringe, after all these years :(

You might as well start with my Tuesday, August 07, 2018 post, "Observance vs. the freedom to make my own decisions."

That's a pretty good summary of the intellectual reasons why I decided not to become observant.

That and the following major details:

~ My concept of G-d is somewhere between collective effervescence and agnosticism--I can't prove that G-d exists, but I can't prove that G-d doesn't exist, either.

~ Longtime readers of my blog--assuming that there are any left--know that I believe in the Documentary Hypothesis, rather than in Torah Mi-Sinai.

But if you want to know the emotional reasons, you should start with my Wednesday, November 07, 2018 post, "Community."

There was a point in my life, perhaps seven to ten years ago, when I was really trying hard to become at least some reasonable semblance of observant.  Unfortunately, this effort put me in a rather anomalous position.  On one hand, by seven to ten years ago, most of the observant members of our congregation had died, making me one of the few members of our synagogue who prayed three days daily.  On the other hand, I was also almost always the only woman in the congregation who prayed while, as they might say in current parlance, "wearing a tallit and tefillin while female," a practice that generally does not endear one to most observant Jews.

In theory, the Conservative Movement should be the natural home for "halachic egalitarians."  But, in practice, I, personally, haven't seen much evidence to support that theory.  As someone who grew up in a Conservative synagogue and who has been a member of another Conservative synagogue for over 30 years now, my personal experience has been that most halachically-observant Jews are not egalitarian and most egalitarian Jews are not halachically observant.

In the final analysis, I gave up trying to become observant because I got almost no support from my own community, and, even though I'm a long-time tallit-and-tefillin-wearing woman, there's a limit to how much I'm willing to "go it alone"--being on the fringe gets lonely after a while.

See also my May 5, 2019 post, Seeking a more-joyful Judaism.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Book review: "Fed Up--Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward," by Gemma Hartley

"Emotional labor, as I define it, is emotion management and life management combined. It is the unpaid, invisible work we do to keep those around us comfortable and happy. It envelops many other terms associated with the type of care-based labor I described in my article: emotion work, the mental load, mental burden, domestic management, clerical labor, invisible labor. These terms, when separated, don't acknowledge the very specific way these types of emotional labor intersect, compound, and, ultimately, frustrate. It is work that is mentally absorbing and exhausting . . . " [Page 13.]

. . .

"I tried to explain the mental load and why delegating was such a big deal.  I tried to explain how the mental and physical work of running our home and our lives compounded in such an exhausting manner.  I wanted a partner with equal initiative. I couldn't continue to delegate and pretend that we were maintaining an egalitarian, progressive relationship. Divvying up the household chores when I still had to remind him to do his share was not enough.  That still left all of the emotional labor as my responsibility, and that, I told him, was what needed to change . . ."

In the end, the author concluded that learned gender-based roles had created a situation in which woman had been trained not only to do it all, but to be perfect in doing it all, while men had been trained to believe that this simply wasn't their job, meaning that they were "helping," rather than doing their share. Women have to give up wanting everything to be done "our way" so that men have a chance to learn how to assume their share of the responsibilities of maintaining daily life. And when men assume their share, they find that they are closer to their kids now that they're packing the kids' lunches, and closer to their wives now that they're sharing the responsibility of buying gifts for the family. 
For a more thorough review, see here.

Here's a personal illustration of the Emotional Labor imbalance:  As Ms. Hartley stated, because "family-maintenance" work is considered women's work, men tend to be praised for "helping," while women doing similar work tend to be ignored--our work is invisible.  My husband frequently cooks dinner, and I try to remember to thank him for that.  But when I wipe off the stove-top and scrub the sink, all I usually hear is "crickets" (silence).  Either we should both thank one another, or we should just assume that this is the way things should be done, but for one to be praised while the other is ignored when we're doing related jobs makes no sense.  We're working on this.

Another example is what I describe as the Peter Pan problem.  Decades ago, when we were both employed full-time and my husband frequently worked overtime, I used to spend hours on Sunday cleaning the toilet, sink, tub, floor, kitchen counters, stove-top, kitchen sink and floor, and vacuuming the entire apartment.  By the time my husband was ready to go folk-dancing, I was almost always too tired to go with him.  Finally, I went on strike--I handed off the vacuuming responsibilities to my husband, and decided that the bathtub would be cleaned about once a month.  Now, I describe our apartment as "sanitary, but not necessarily clean"--but I'm free to go folk-dancing with my husband almost every Sunday.  I have a life, and he has someone to join him on the dance floor.  That works much better for both of us.  Wherein is it written that Peter Pan and the Lost Boys get to have all the adventures while Wendy gets stuck at home mending their clothes?

Finally, there's a Peter-Pan-related problem, namely, the infantilization of men, which Ms. Hartley described in her book--males are often raised to be perpetual children, dependent on women to take care of them, while women are often raised to mother not only their children, but their husbands, as well.  Why should I have to remind a 77-year-old to take his cell phone and at least one packet of tissues?  Does anyone remind me?  Yet I can't remember the last time I got all the way to the subway station without realizing that I'd left my cell phone at home.  We're working on that, too.

For the record, not every woman is a wiz at emotional labor, learned gender-based roles notwithstanding--while certain types of emotional labor have been, until now, "my department," there are other types that have never been my strong suit any more than they have been my husband's.

A gaffe for the gluten-free gang to avoid

Never eat whitefish salad in a kosher restaurant.

I love the stuff, but it's both high-fat and salty, and must be eaten on some type of cracker or bread.  The problem is that, in a kosher restaurant, one is not allowed to eat or drink anything that isn't purchased in the restaurant, lest one accidentally bring non-kosher food or drink into the restaurant.  So there's no taking one's stash of rice crackers out of one's backpack.  :(  Just thought you'd want to be forewarned.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

"Birthright While Black," by Shekhiynah Larks

I read this article in the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel, but when I did an internet search for it, here's where I found it.

For me, this was the most important part, because it really helped me understand the perspective of a Jew of Color:

" . . . one of the architects of Birthright, Avraham Infeld  . . . began with an anecdote about how when he made aliyah, his cousin said to him the same thing the soldier had said to me: “You’re in Israel now, stop being so Jewish.” He then explained Jews in the diaspora separate and create unique spaces for themselves to share collective memories and to pass down the covenant so our community will not be forgotten.
This helped me understand some of the disconnects I had with fellow American Jews. It’s hard to be seen as part of the group when externally you look so different. In the U.S. especially, because Jews create safe spaces for themselves, looking like you might be an outsider comes with questioning. In an effort to feel safe, they want to make sure that I am really like them."

I strongly recommend that you read the entire article--it's well worth it.
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