Category Archives: New Year’s

Wearing trousers on New Year’s Eve

American passenger: So how was your New Year’s? Did you kiss a special dude?

Me: No.

AP: Did you kiss a special dudette?

Me: No.

AP: So what did you do?

Me: I wore trousers for the first time.

There is a moment in every Orthodox Jewish girl’s life when she looks to the High Heavens, fully expecting lightning to strike. For me, there have been two such moments. The first was June 21, 2001– the day after my Bat Mitzvah; the day I assumed full responsibility for all my sins; and the day I dared to sport a short-sleeved shirt in public. It was 90 degrees and humid, a typically painfully New York summer day, and if public nudity had been legal and I had been more comfortable with my body, I would have debated sporting my birthday suit.

Still, despite my commitment to overcoming heat stroke, I was also paralyzed with fear. Men would see my elbows, and what could be more seductive than my funny bones on display? There would be retribution; there would be lightning. And so after a few short moments in the public eye, I receded to my bedroom and opted for more modest attire.

Fast forward 12.5 years, and I make the bold decision to buy crazy, sexy, cool heathen pants. I am not entirely convinced I will wear them, but I use my discount code and go for the spiritual plunge: wearing them on New Year’s Eve in London.

Only once I am in London and surrounded by Jewish peers, I begin to rethink this somewhat bold move. Note: the last time I attempted to purchase pants, I broke down in tears in the GAP fitting room and ran a mile down Broadway shrieking, “Never again.” I wasn’t ready then, and I was beginning to reconsider if I was truly ready now.

But the joy of traveling with a quasi-small suitcase is that you don’t have lots of alternatives. Once you are 3000 miles from home, you must make do with what you have. And so reluctantly and fearful of an impending rain storm, I sported my newly purchased symbol of heresy and boarded a public bus to a fairly large party– where many people who knew my older skirt-wearing self would be amazed (and perhaps concerned) with my transformation.

Then the unthinkable happened. Nobody said a word. And not because they were silently judging my single lady ways, but because nobody actually cared. I was just another rowdy New Yorker in all black attire brooding silently over my beer.

In fact, the only comment anyone even made in reference to my clothing was, “You have a smart blazer.” And my beloved Zavi responded, “Well, obviously, she’s Yaffa.” Though her comment seemed benign, it meant the world to me. I was not defined solely by my exterior. There was a full package, and even complete strangers at the party could sort of see that.

So when I boarded my flight back to New York hours later, and the nosy American grandma quizzed me on the night before, I told her quite simply that I had worn trousers… and lightning did not strike.

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Tripping on a baby shoe.

Whenever I enter my childhood bedroom, I half expect to see myself sitting at my desk pouring over that night’s homework assignment. But instead I encounter an empty desk, a rickety old lamp, and a bed made of mismatched sheets. Then there are the shoes– the seemingly endless number of pairs that litter every part of my pink-carpeted floor– and which I inevitably trip on when I scour my room looking for a younger version of myself.

However, two nights ago when I arrived home to ring in the Jewish New Year, I tripped on an unusual shoe– my first baby shoe circa 1990. An off-white sneaker with streaks of red and yellow along the sides, it strongly resembled a bowling shoe. The kind that is only acceptable when you are rolling a ball down a glow in the dark lane. The kind a mother without a care in the world re: baby fashion would adorn her daughter’s foot with.

Now normally the shoes I trip on are only 5 or 6 years old, the pairs I wore in high school and in the early years of college. My baby shoes, or in this case single shoe, are not strewn about the room. Consequently, when I discovered it, I paused and wondered if it was even mine. How did it get here? Where did it come from? Why was it here? And most importantly, what did it want?

As my paranoia began to sank in, my mother called to me and asked if I had happened about a little childhood nugget. Indeed I had. And it reminded me of a quote I had put on my hoop during Wellesley’s annual hoop rolling contest: “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” (T.S. Eliot) I thought about substituting in coffee spoons for shoes.

Would 23 years of footwear capture my core? Would it reflect my transformation from platform-wearing aspiring Spice Girl to crime-fighting faux-heel wearing paralegal? Would it capture my obsession with all things Steve Madden and display my maturity and subsequent attachment to all things Cole Haan? Would it demonstrate my unconditional love for anything black and everything flat?

I suspected all of the above to be answered in the affirmative, and as I dipped my requisite apple in honey I began to ponder the ultimate New Year question– how would my new shoe purchases reflect my ever evolving personality in the year to come?

Drink L’Chaim, To Life!

As I mentioned in another entry not too long ago, I did not grow up in a household that endorsed or celebrated New Year’s. My mother, in fact, has always looked upon the holiday with a certain level of disdain. Unlike Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, secular New Year is not about self-reflection or improvement. It’s, and I quote, “an excuse to get riproiously drunk and ensure you start the next year entirely hungover.”

Needless to say I grew up in a stone-cold sober household, where alcohol was about as commonly consumed as pork chops were eaten. So when I got to college and suddenly discovered that New Year’s Eve celebrations were some of the most meticulously planned nights for inevitable inebriation, I was ill-prepared to participate in the raucous night time party.

And like a daughter with an umbilical cord relationship with her mother, I spent the subsequent four New Year’s Eves drinking lattes with my mom. This year I have resolved to venture beyond the confines of the womb, get dressed up in the best outfit the local consignment shop has to offer, and watch midnight fireworks over the park. If I am feeling particularly daring, I may even sip a 4 oz glass of champagne.

In the end, though, I hope my evening resembles the following–a tasteful (slightly tipsy) Kate Spade-inspired celebration:

My color is coffee.

2010– flight cancellations excluded– has been an all around romping good time. I planed an Oxford Ball, explored ten new countries, completed my first thesis chapter, and added a little color to my New York inspired wardrobe.

In 2011,  I subsequently resolve to:

1. Diversify my coffee interests– try new flavors, and perhaps even new roasts.

2. Venture into unchartered territories, literally and metaphorically. After all, I am the metaphorical mountain climber.

3. Allot one hour a week to listen to This American Life (instead of allowing my podcasts to collect dust in my iTunes vault).

4. Learn how to cook anything but baked goods. Bring on the artichokes and asparagus, baby!

5. Master the art of walking in heels. I might have to employ some inspiration.