Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right

So, today I had a small birthday get-together. I invited almost everyone I knew in Madison, and three people showed up, but a party with four people is better than a party of one. I made a salad, an orzo dish, a rigatoni dish, and bread pudding which was a major hit, and one of my guests brought cake, which was nice. I served the food buffet style. The wine and the conversation were flowing nicely, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.

With how busy everyone’s schedule is these days, it’s getting harder and harder to get two people together, let alone four. I miss the days in the Land Before Facebook; where people just got together and did stuff like this. Scented candles, folding chairs, and plastic tablecloths.

I like to play host.

It’s actually the one time I enjoy cleaning up and doing dishes, knowing that my friends are full and happy.

Party for Everybody Dance

Once upon a time, in 2011, a group of grandmothers from Buranovo, Russia, decided to form a singing group.

They called themselves Buranovskiye Babushki.

Their goal: Eurovision glory.

On their first try, they didn’t go very far.

On their second try, however, they sang a song called “Party for Everybody” and there was literally a party for everybody when they beat out past Eurovision winner Dima Bilan, among others, for a shot at Eurovision that year in Baku, Azerbaijan. The song was mostly in Udmurt with one phrase in English. At Eurovision, they scored a healthy second place to the incomparable Loreen. Good going for a group of grannies.

Here’s how singer Elena Ekimova reacted, as well as Dima Bilan and his team. Note the stark contrast.


Is There An Explanation For This?

For these past few days, I’ve been running on adrenaline and the occasional bite from the Chabad House; doing a presentation and having three days of holiday will do that to you. I think I did okay on my presentation. I’ve been so tired though, and was just going to skip posting today until a weird sound woke me up from half-sleep, and now I’m wide awake.

So, last week I went to the optician to have an eye exam and get a new prescription for contacts. The eye doctor was wonderful and friendly, and thanks to my health insurance, fees were minimal; I only paid for the contact lenses themselves, and knew I’d be paying something.

A few days later, I get a letter from my insurance company. I dig out my checkbook and prepare to write a check as I open the envelope, only to see…

An Explanation of Benefits.

Basically, a bill marked “THIS IS NOT A BILL” with no return envelope (the actual bill, which looked exactly the same, arrived yesterday. I paid it today).

What is the importance of this Explanation of Benefits document, then?

Health Insurance Company, why did you have to kill another tree to mail this useless piece of future recycled paper to me? Especially when it is the exact some document as the bill I’ll be receiving in the mail IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS? Am I supposed to have a backup copy in case the original goes missing? Will your office cease functioning without my payment of $18.96 – money which, because I read the bill which tells me where it will go, I know why I’m being charged what I’m being charged and where the money will go? It’s like getting a receipt at a grocery store, telling you what you bought, and THEN getting another receipt, which actually requires payment. Or something like that.

There is something about this that makes no sense, other than you sending me another false reason to get excited when I open my mailbox.

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Now that I’m turning my mind in little circles, I’m getting tired again. Please excuse me while I get ready for bed, unless I have to get ready to get ready for bed for first. Actually, that’s kind of what I’m doing right now.

Before I do, welcome to my first visitors from Luxembourg and Madagascar. Such fun and diverse visitors lately!

Making The Day Better With Gifs

Today was a rough day; not so much for me personally, but a lot of upsetting things happened elsewhere, so I do not feel like writing much. Instead, I am going to attempt to cheer myself up with some gifs.

Random Thought of the Day: Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving

Today, Canadians are thankful, and Americans are…thankless, to a degree.

It was a weird day.

Things I Like and Don’t Like About Cleaning

Much like Carol Channing’s famous monologue from Free to Be… You & Me, I hate housework.


Well, most of the time.

So of course, instead of spending last night and today on my homework, I spent the majority of the day cleaning my apartment.

Things I Like About Cleaning

  1. I like doing laundry. Like…I really like it. The smell of dryer sheets and clean clothes. The joy of watching stains disappear. The fact that I can fold clothes and watch TV/listen to music/talk on the phone/read at the same time. Feeling like a champion with a freshly organized closet and/or drawer.
  2. I like the pristine look of things the second that they are clean. Of course, then you have to stand, sit, spill, stain, and shove stuff on it, but for a second, it’s like a catalog.
  3. I like giving (and having) the illusion that my apartment is that clean, 100% of the time.
  4. A clutterless counter or table top is perfect for all kinds of ACTIVITIES.

Things I Don’t Like About Cleaning

  1. Dishes. Everything about them.
  2. Folding fitted sheets. We send a man to outer space and make a phone that’s thinner than a slice of bread but no one has figured out a foolproof way to fold a fitted sheet.
  3. Looking for things that were easily found in the mess, and having to wreck your whole apartment to find them ten feet away from where they were when your apartment was a mess.
  4. Resisting the urge to redecorate. Every time.

So SO Much Better

VIVIAN: Elle, this isn’t some little sorority thing -

ELLE: Oh, I know, this is a big sorority thing.

This morning, I woke up to some of the most pleasing and surprising news I’ve heard in weeks.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners were announced: First, 60-year-old Indian child protection activist Kailash Satyarthi


Wait for it…

Pakistani education, childrens’, and human rights activist, terror attack survivor, and all-around hardcore take-no-prisoners chick

Malala Yousafzai. 

At age 17, she is the youngest Nobel Laureate ever.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Malala Yousafzai and Elle Woods together in the same sentence? Actually…looking at what I just typed, it is kind of weird. Kind of like that comic strip panel with the bikini girl and the burqa-clad woman passing each other on the beach. One is very real and one is very fictional, but both women stand up for their rights. Both represent the underdog, and fight tooth and nail with their words to get what they wanted. And what they got was more than they ever expected. They defied the odds and are indeed “so much better” than before.

I don’t want to share too many details of what happened to me this week that deterred me from posting too much, but suffice it to say that this victory for man(and woman)kind makes me put the petty issues going on in my own life into perspective. There are people out there – some real, some on our stages and our cinema screens – who deal with problems that involve more people than just themselves, or their immediate friends and family. There are problems out there that affect communities, cities, ethnicities, and even entire countries, yet living in the microcosm that we inhabit, we tend to ignore the seismic issues going on around us in favor of the unimportant phantom tremors of crap that make us roll our eyes, grit our teeth, and stamp our feet. As humans, we should all look out for one another, not as friends, not as relatives, but as members of the same species that deserve a chance at life, at love, and at happiness. We do not know how much longer we will be on this Earth, but we’re fucked if we continue to spend what time we have remaining using warfare to tear each other down, whether it be physical, virtual, verbal, or psychological. Genuineness and truth of the heart are values that our society suppresses, yet without our hearts we would not be able to function.

Literally. We would be dead.

So let’s learn from Malala, and Elle, and what the hell, Kailash Satyarthi too. Look at all they have accomplished, in less than 100 years of life, collectively. If we really put our hearts, minds, and spirits to it, think of it – we could live three times the lives we have, it terms of quality and output. We, too, could achieve greatness, reach our own goals, whatever they may be. Let’s spend our time wisely, loving, caring, and looking out for one another, opening our hearts to a greater good.

It is kind of a cool ironic twist. Just last year, I posted an entry with my thoughts on Malala and my hopes that she would win the Nobel Peace Prize. And now that it has indeed happened, that’s one more door opened, one more light turned on, one more ray of sunshine beaming down on the planet we call home.

Dear Malala: I don’t know what you’re doing right now, but I hope it looks (and feels) something like this:

(PS: Welcome, first visitor from Fiji. And yes, I did make that last gif myself, thankyouverymuch.

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