Escape from North Carolina – A Passover Exodus

As many of you may know from personal experience or from my 2017 blog post, The Holiday Where We Enslave Ourselves to Celebrate Our Freedom from Slavery, Passover is….. challenging. The cleaning, turning over your kitchen, food shopping, and meal planning contribute to a distinct level of stress not present with the celebration of any other Jewish holiday. It really is such a challenge that this was actually a factor I considered when we were talking about moving to North Carolina. That might seem ridiculous, but let me explain….

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Closer, But Still Not Florida

About a month ago, I made my first trip down to Florida since moving to North Carolina. I was lucky enough to be able to fly down to Florida and surprise my best friend for her bridal shower/bachelorette party weekend. We crammed so much fun into 48 hours, it was insane. I even somehow managed to get the special bonus of having a short pit-stop with my parents. This weekend had everything I needed, and while I was a bit tired from the going-going-going as I waited in the airport for my flight, I was content with how everything had turned out. But then, after I was finally on the plane and the flight was in line to take off on the tarmac, I started to get a bit choked up.

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There’s a Reason I’m Not a Fashion Blogger

Exhibit A as to why I’m not a fashion blogger: I love this dress with the passion of 1,000 suns.

 

Oh yes, my friends, those are cats.

This post is in no way sponsored by Modcloth, I am just a sucker for and love to share strange cat things. The dress can be found here if anyone is interested, but unfortunately $79.99 is a bit too pricey for me, so I’ll be waiting until this [hopefully] goes on sale.

“You’re from Florida? Aren’t hurricanes like your thing?”

While we can now pretty safely say that Hurricane Maria won’t be a threat to us here in North Carolina, about this time last week when I was preparing for both Rosh Hashanah and going down to Florida to surprise my best friend for her bridal shower & bachelorette weekend, my stomach was in knots wondering if the storm would be making a bee-line for us. Looking at the forecasts, it had the potential to be a repeat of Irma where I would be away from the friends and family who were taking the brunt of the storm – this time, I would just be in Florida instead of Japan. How was this happening again???

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My Special Rosh Hashanah Gift to You

It’s that time of the year, my friends. No, it’s not just that time when the Days of Awe and the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are upon us. It is also the time when someone inevitably busts out a bottle of migraine-generatingly sweet Manischewitz wine to celebrate the yom tov.  Whether it is because no other kosher wine is available for the occasion, a yet-uninitiated guest brings it as a gift, or we just have a slightly masochistic flair for tradition, Manischewitz always seems to find its way to the Rosh Hashanah dinner table. And not only that, because hardly anyone is eager to down one full glass of the wine, let alone multiple, there is usually plenty left to spare after the holidays pass.     

So, what to do, what to do? Well, I have a solution for you and I call it the Mani-spritzer. 

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This Chair is Making My Butt Hurt and Other Reflections on My First Month of Working from Home

When Jason and I started announcing the news to everyone that we would be moving to the Raleigh area for his job, I think one of the questions that most frequently ensued was, “What’s Joey going to do?” And by “most frequently ensued,” I mean it was pretty solidly the first question everyone spouted. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t expecting that reaction and I was thankful that I had an answer for them other than just, “I’m not sure, we’ll see” (which, the psychology of that is a whole other can of worms for another post at another time, I think).

One large factor that we considered when first deciding on Raleigh was would we be able to make it down there on one income? Yes, it is cheaper to live in North Carolina, but would it be cheap enough that we’d be stable even if I didn’t have a job for a while? We thought about this for some time and ultimately decided it was feasible, but even with it being feasible, we were going to look into some avenues where I could still bring home a paycheck. The obvious first option was to see if my current job would let me continue to work for them remotely in North Carolina.

I sat down with the managing partner about a month before what would be my last day to let him know about the move and I had a whole pitch in my head to sell him on my working remotely. Before I could even get going on my pitch, though, he brought up the possibility himself and the rest is history. 

I would say I have never really worked from home. I mean, yes, I can remember one snow day, one day where I had a networking event smack dab in the middle of the day and it didn’t make sense to go into the office, and there were some weekends where I emailed myself things and worked on them on my laptop at home. But I have never been a telecommuter or someone whose official work home base is, well, their home. 

Now, I have officially been working from home for one month and I thought it was time for a post about how it’s been going. 

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Journey to the Center of the Bagel

Even though much of Florida could be considered Little New York (can you say Boca?), I admittedly did not grow up in the land of the bagel and did not know what I was missing until I moved to New York.  You just can’t know and, in fact, I don’t even know how to put into words what makes bagels in New York better than bagels anywhere else. They just are.

On a brief side-note, some people say it is the New York City water, but I don’t believe that because my favorite bagel shop of all time was my local Bagel Boss in Oceanside when I lived out on Long Island. And trust me, while 2 of the 5 NYC boroughs are technically on Long Island (Queens and Brooklyn), they are not Long Island. Learn this now or get severely berated by a New Yorker later. It is your choice. I learned the hard way and just thought I should pass that pearl of wisdom on to you.

But I digress. When we were deciding if the move to North Carolina was right for us, I did actually think about the fact that I would be giving up New York bagels. I’m a loser, I know, but I did think about it and accepted it as a cost of getting back a few things that, in the long run, are more valuable to me. (Sanity, financial security, central air – ya know, the little things.) 

And just as I knew I would be leaving the New York bagels, I knew there would come a time when I would be craving a bagel and I’d have to begin the journey to find an acceptable substitute. 

That journey has begun. 

I had my first non-New York bagel.

It was horrific.

I’m sad to say, my 8 years in New York made me more of a bagel snob than I ever could have imagined. 

I ordered an everything bagel with plain cream cheese:

First, the bagel was much smaller than any New York bagel I ever ate. Some shops do mini bagels and it was about that size – probably about the size of the palm of my hand. 

Second, who the hell puts oats on an everything bagel? Even Panera doesn’t do that. 

Third, the texture was sub-par. There should be some crispness to the outer shell of a bagel, but this one didn’t really have that.

Finally, the flavor overall was just lacking. 

I thought I was going to be prepared for my first bagel in North Carolina – I deliberately set my expectations to low – but sadly, it was even more underwhelming than I imagined it would be. 

So, the search will continue. Maybe I will do a little more research on my next bagel shop so that hopefully I can have a better outcome. (The one I went to was just a place I see on the way to Jason’s office.)

Stay tuned for the next installment of Journey to the Center of the Bagel.

After all this time? Always.

When I woke up this morning, I saw that one of my cousins had alerted me via Facebook to a very important anniversary:

Twenty (yes, 20) years ago today, the first Harry Potter book was published.

I know, half of you are probably rolling your eyes and getting ready to move on to the next website now (or possibly back to Facebook) because I mean, come on, it’s a book series about WIZARDS.

The other half of you, though, are nodding your heads very enthusiastically and in complete agreement with me that this is, in fact, an important anniversary. And on this very important day, I have a confession to make:

I was angry, nay furious, at my mom when she got me the first three Harry Potter books for my middle school graduation.

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Re-adapting to the Norms of Human Contact in the South

One of the things the South is famous for is its hospitality. Going hand-in-hand with that, it is generally known that people are, on the whole, friendlier here. Random strangers on the street will smile and wave at you, whereas in New York City, if you are walking on the street, your primary goal is to not make eye contact with anyone. Put in your earbuds, even if you’re not listening to anything, and if someone approaches you, ignore, ignore, walk faster, ignore.

I have to say, in my almost 8 years of living in New York, I got pretty good at the eye-contact avoidance, but I could never bring myself to ignore someone who was very clearly talking directly to me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t stop and strike up a conversation with them, but if they were trying to hand me a flier, I at least said, “No thank you.” (Still no eye-contact of course.) So, I guess I half-way adapted.

Honestly, I don’t think I knew how good I had gotten at public social avoidance until we moved here. The realization process began when I noticed I was avoiding looking people in the eye. This included both people around me – no eye contact with this person coming toward me in the grocery store aisle – and people who I had a brief contact with, like the guy who apologized for bumping into my cart at the grocery store. (Big social hub, that grocery store.)

I think the first time I noticed something was a bit off I was at a Sheetz and a young gentleman held the door for me as I was leaving – he looked directly at me and smiled. I said, “Thank you,” of course, but as I was walking to my car, I all of a sudden had this feeling that I had just been rude to that man. It was a strange feeling considering I had engaged in the required niceties, but then I realized that I hadn’t looked at him when I said thank you. Do you have to stare people down when expressing thanks for a small gesture? Do you have to make eye contact every time? Are you socially deplorable if you don’t make the eye contact?!!! No, of course not. But when you really want to convey thanks to someone rather than just throwing it out as a formality, you make eye contact. Anyway, while I dragged this 2-second experience into a whole paragraph, the thought process about this experience didn’t take more than 5 minutes, and then I put the situation out of my mind.

That is until a few other things started happening. 

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