Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reason #237 You Know You're Crazy: You Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Jewish Geography

Reason #237 You Know You're Crazy:

You Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Jewish Geography.

As for me, I have an unnatural love of Jewish Geography. I'm not athletic or competitive in general, but Jewish Geography gets my competitiveness going. I really get into it. I get really excited knowing that I know Jews all over the place, and I like seeing the amazing connections you find. I've only lived in very small Jewish communities, but it's great seeing how us people in small communities get around!

However, it seems like most converts and BTs hate Jewish Geography. I can see why because I don't like "networking" in work contexts. But when you focus on the relationships you build, it becomes a lot more fun and a lot less like a stuffy cocktail party. Unfortunately, Jewish Geography is one of those things that mark when you've "made it" into the Tribe and can officially "pass."

To date, only one person has "beaten me" at Jewish Geography. He's like Rain Man; it's freaky. (Granted, I've never actually seen Rain Man, so I take no responsibility for false comparisons.) I've never known anyone who could know every single person he meets within 1 or 2 degrees! Even we knew each other to 1 degree!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shabbat Shalom, Ya'll!

Nothing too big going on in my world today. Just looking forward to the peace of Shabbat! I could use it!

However, this Shabbos is going to be either totally awesome or a little painful because I'm starting a new book: the Kosher Kitchen by Rabbi Forst. I think it's only meant to be a reference book, rather than the kind you sit down and read. But I need all the information, so sitting down and reading it I will be. Is clawing out your own eyeballs prohibited on Shabbat?

Reason #97 You Know You're Crazy: Orthodoxy Has Tripled Your Meat Consumption

Reason #97 You Know You're Crazy:

I don't know why this is, but most of the converts I know eat very little meat, if at all. Yet, by becoming orthodox, orthodoxy at least triples your meat consumption. That's how it was with me. I only ate meat in restaurants before I became kosher-observant. (My conservative beit din said I was totally backwards and should only be eating dairy out! But as a practical matter for you newbies, it's much easier to start kosher at home while still allowing yourself to satisfy cravings for a little while longer in restaurants.)

I don't know what it is with Jews and meat. I was told I was un-Jewish by preparing only dairy meals for Shabbat, even though my kitchen was dairy-only for several months. Meat's fine, it tastes great, but I much prefer dairy any day of the week. By default, I'm primarily ovo-lacto-fish vegetarian. Having fish with potatoes au gratin is much tastier to me than having roasted chicken, and that's how I prefer to honor Shabbat. Mmm mmm good.

But things being the way they are, I'm lucky enough to have meal invitations, and those meals will almost always be meat. And if I had observant guests coming over, I'd probably cook meat too. Some people actually claim that eating meat on Shabbat is such a long-standing minhag that it's considered a mandatory mitzvah. I'm not so sure about that, but I am more than willing to accept that it IS minhag for an overwhelming number of Jews. Hence, I better start saving my money to afford all that kosher meat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reason #643 You Know You're Crazy: Developing the Starbucks Habit

Reason #643 You Know You're Crazy:

If you live in an area without kosher restaurants, you develop a heinous Starbucks habit. Starbucks is the only "kosher" place I can go in town. Sure, the food isn't kosher, but many of the drinks are! (Please check with your LOR and rabbinic websites to find out which. I also recommend!)

Why have I developed such a heinous Starbucks addiction? Quite frankly, I'm not the best cook (though I've improved exponentially), and I'm not used to cooking. I go to Starbucks simply for the "pampering" that someone else is making something for me. Sure, it's only a nice drink, but I didn't have to make it! And this keeps me somewhat saner and less rebellious.

I'm a big fan of personal finance books/blogs, and the "latte factor" (coined by David Bach) is a frequent discussion in personal finance. I pretty much never went to Starbucks until finals loomed over me and law school started giving me gift cards to Starbucks. To be honest, I don't even like coffee. This is a big problem for me because "coffee is the great equalizer" according to Kvetching Editor, but most coffee shops aren't obviously kosher for the kind of drink I would like. Starbucks' fancy-pants drinks are like the gateway drug to coffee.

How can I afford this extremely expensive habit? Being on a student budget, the "Starbucks habit" was a big concern, but I've made it work. I go there an average of twice a week and some weeks not at all. But for about 90% of the purchases I make, I'm using gift cards that I didn't have to pay for! I have a very nice debit card reward program, which is where I get most of my reward cards. I probably get about $25/month from that. I can also get Starbucks gift cards from reward programs for legal research through one of the two major research companies (yay for marketing to law students!). Also, you begin to balance price v. enjoyment v. craving between the kosher drinks you know you like. Hopefully, I'm using my gift cards to their maximum benefit, even if that means less drinks total during a big "craving" time. Also, now I've registered my gift card, which means a free drink on my birthday, and a free drink for each 15 drinks I buy!

In the end, the little amount that I actually pay to Starbucks is worth every penny for having a little bit of "kosher" enjoyment somewhere else besides my own kitchen.

In retrospect, perhaps I should also be spending more time in bars drinking kosher alcohol :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Management Update: Chavi is learning how Blogspot works

So...I'm trying to learn how Blogspot works. I have to say, it's pretty amazing. I have used LiveJournal, and this is the space-age compared to LJ!

I finally figured out how to schedule posts for the future, so now postings will arrive as a regularly scheduled thing. I have one post scheduled for 7am Pacific time every morning. However, I may occasionally surprise you with a second daily post :)

Have a wacky Wednesday!

My Parents Have No Idea What I've Gotten Them Into by Converting to Orthodox Judaism

My parents have no idea what I've gotten them into.

My dad reads this blog, so he knows that I've told him this phrase so many times over the last few years. They just have no idea. But to their credit, they're willing to go with the flow and deal with the problems when they cross that bridge. All while being respectful and cheerful. I'm certainly luckier than most!

Thankfully(?), most of the "big" problems don't reach critical mass until there are kids in the picture. I just finished reading a book precisely about these kinds of problems: What Do You Mean, You Can't Eat in My Home?: A Guide to How Newly Observant Jews and Their Less Observant Relatives Can Still Get Along. This book is written for BTs, but is perfectly applicable to any convert. Having tried eating kosher in my parents' home when I had only been kosher for 2 months, I wish I had read this book first!

Jaffe identified the following areas of contention within families with varying levels of observance:
Shabbat and Holidays
Laws of Tznius
Orthodox Dating Practices
Gender Roles

I've touched all of these issues, at least superficially, with my family, but I'm going to focus on Shabbat and kashrut for this post.

My family is learning about Shabbat and holiday observance, but there's a lot more information to digest. Also, when celebrating Shabbat in my parents' house, it's mostly self-contained. I don't ask that my family change their routines, but I control my own actions. Their way of coping appears to be avoiding asking me to do anything on Shabbat and just let me do what I'm going to do. I also volunteer for activities I know I can do. I certainly have no plans to EVER spend Pesach at their home. Heck, I'm not even spending it in my own home this year!

Over time, they'll get a better feel for Shabbat. But what about when kids are in the picture? The book had the ever-present example of cousins trying to play together on Shabbat, but the non-observant (or non-Jewish, in some of our cases) children want to play video games or color. I wasn't as satisfied with Jaffe's answer because it basically came down to, "Eventually your family will realize what is and isn't allowed, and maybe they'll even start putting away the muktzeh before you arrive!" (That is a paraphrase from memory.)

Kashrut is even more difficult because it's every day! By myself, it's easy for me to take care of my own meals at my parents' house. It's actually much easier than I expected, even though I was still a kashrut idiot when I last visited. But kashrut is somewhat unfortunate since my dad is an excellent cook, and being a good Southern parent, food is a key way of sharing your love with your family (a very Jewish idea too!). I know it bothers him to not be able to cook for me, and quite frankly, I miss the amazing food! But, being luckier than average, my dad listened to my never-ending, poorly-explained halacha explanations, and he discovered a way to cook me a meal when I last visited! However, while kashrut can be easy in a non-kosher kitchen, it'll be a lot harder when there are more mouths to feed, meaning bigger quantities of food to prepare and keep separate.

Personally, I'm uncomfortable asking my family to accommodate me. Sure, they may eventually do these things on their own as a kindness, but there's a very fine line between doing it out of love and feeling like a bad person for not doing it (especially if they still think you think G-d will smite you for not following the rules!). I think both emotions will inevitably be present in any loving family, and that makes ME feel like a bad person for inconveniencing my family and giving them little to no choice in the matter. I have to follow the rules, and if I'm going to visit them, I have to be able to follow the rules in their house. No exception.

Jaffe emphasizes trying to host as many family events as possible within the home of the more observant person. Coming from a non-Jewish family, I know my family will complicate things for my children (though less than having a non-observant family, in my opinion), but I also think it is important for my children to see where I come from and experience Southern culture firsthand. There is something different about transplanting my family into my Jewish neighborhood. Being a frequent victim of stereotypes, Southern culture is not known for looking good out of context. It's also artificial.

I hope all these issues don't affect my ability to visit my family in the future. At least I have plenty of time before children are in the picture, so maybe we'll settle into a comfortable pattern before then. But it's certainly a worry.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reason #2,421 You Know You're Crazy: Judaism Makes You Go to Law School

Reason #2,421 You Know You're Crazy:

You decide you'd like law school because you really like Talmud-based classes. And then you actually go to law school.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Question on Everyone Else's Mind When Talking to Converts

The Question on Everyone Else's Mind When Talking to Converts (especially female converts)...

"So...who're you converting for?"

I suppose I'm not totally one to talk since I'm technically a stereotype. Yes, an ex-boyfriend brought me to the Jewish people, at least initially (and much to his dismay). However, he didn't remain in the picture long after that point, and almost six years later after he was gone, here I still am.

Yet every conversation that reveals that I'm a convert always results in the other person asking, some people more subtly than others, whether I'm dating a Jew. And when it's inevitably revealed that I'm an eligible bachelorette (though not currently interested in dating), they begin the process of trying to figure out whether a Jewish man is responsible for bringing me into the Tribe.

This is equally true of Jews and non-Jews, but the Jews seem to be much bolder than the non-Jews. Me being Southern, perhaps a lot of the non-Jews feel restricted by silly things like politeness. However, a very kind Englishwoman suggested that the English would find these topics to be too personal. So perhaps it's an American thing too? I wonder if that geographic division holds true in the Jewish community as well, since I find that most of the Jewish community have absolutely no qualms about asking incredibly personal questions. Perhaps it has to do with me because I have such a friendly face and am very open about my life.

The weirdest part? Men and women are equally guilty. I always expected this to be the realm of gossip-hungry women, but the men ask exactly the same awkward questions. And usually, their questions are even more awkward. Occasionally, this results in really inappropriate comments. The inappropriate comments have a gender division: women tend to make the heartless comments, but men tend to make the vulgar comments (yes, really, though generally not in the observant community because of tznius). Pick your poison as to which is worse, I suppose.

Interestingly, none of the Jews I speak to (regardless of observance level) seem to think it's a bad thing for a potential convert to discover Judaism through an interfaith relationship. Of course, the observant Jews would probably react differently if they weren't meeting me as an orthodox convert. People are very supportive that a Jew introduced me to the Jewish people, and they always want to tell me about all the wonderful family members they've gained from the Gentile world (but they usually only tell me about the converted ones).

Perhaps these Jews think we converts are insane to be choosing Judaism, so there must be a more "practical" reason behind it. And if that's true, there's no reason for them to look closer at their own faith and practice. Ah, human nature and its desire for the path of least resistance. (I think this is true of all "kinds" of Jews, except the BTs who have already made this "crazy" choice.)

But let's look deeper. Why is this a stereotype?

I'll be the first to admit I'm more against interfaith dating than your average Jew. However, I realize that many converts begin in an "interfaith relationship." (I wish there were a better term since many of these relationships include people, even the Jew, who are not practicing any religion.)

However, someone (I have no idea who) once told me that he or she had a theory about this. Non-Jews who come to Judaism through dating a Jew weren't dating that Jew by accident. It's an expression of the "Jewish spark" in their soul; a way for that spark to draw us back to our rightful place within the Jewish people. Of course, most non-Jews dating Jews never consider conversion at all, so are those few incredible additions to the Jewish people worth the harms caused as a byproduct? That's not for me to say, and quite frankly, I don't know.

As they say, HaShem works everything out in the end, right?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Know You've Made It When Someone Mistakes You for a Born Jew!

It seems like all converts wait for the day when they won't stand out. I've always been a stand-out kind of person (and I generally like it), but I'm amazed that I get happy at the idea of blending in somewhere. Aka, being mistaken for a born Jew. Unfortunately, this goal is less likely for Jews of color because of the American Jewish community's insistence on white/Askenazi-by-default. Being a redhead can make me stand out in American communities, but like many Jews of color have said, this is all TOTALLY different in Israel. I fit in, and there were even a LOT of people who looked like me! It was amazing. Talk about really feeling like you've come home!

Well, back to my smallish town with an even smaller Jewish community: I was shopping for a new purse in Target, wearing my frummiest ankle-length jean skirt when I hear a curious, "Excuse me" behind me. When I turned around, what do I discover but our Chabad rebbetzin! I don't know her very well, but after the mutual recognition and some laughing, she tells me that she hadn't recognized me from behind and was going to ask me if I'm Jewish! FTW! And from a chassid, none the less! (I don't know if there's a female version of the word chassid.) I was unabashedly proud of myself. I passed.

And about 30 minutes later, I realized that this whole episode proves that I am a nutter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reason #254 You Know You're American: Food Brachot

Reason #254 You Know You're American:

You've memorized the before-eating food brachot, but you don't even know which one to use because you have no idea where your food comes from.

(Since two of the brachot require knowing whether the fruit/vegetable came from a tree or a bush.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shabbat shalom, ya'll!

Shabbat shalom, ya'll! I'll be off the interwebs until Saturday evening. But there are plenty of posts sitting in my editor, just waiting to be posted.

Proud moment of the day: Saw very obviously observant Jews at the grocery store who were also very obviously lost. I got to explain the weirdness of our 5 different locations for different types of kosher products! (For the curious: bakery, dry goods, meat, refrigerated items, and frozen stuff.) I was all helpful and welcoming and stuff! It was awesome.

"Chavi's dumb" moment: They asked if all the cheese was cholov yisroel. No idea. I'm not that good yet. I'm just glad to have the privilege to pay twice as much for my hechsher-ed shredded cheddar for my Shabbos enchiladas (between $4.50-5.50 for the regular 8oz packet).

How do I know I'm crazy? I realized immediately after the awkward conversation had ended that I should have said something like, "I'm sorry, I'm still learning!" And I thought REALLY hard about finding them in the store to tell them that. I didn't. I'm not sure if that's a victory or simply embarrassment. I suppose we'll never know.

What are my Shabbat plans? I'm making enchiladas for dinner :) However, the combination of rain, chilliness (yes, I'm a baby and will die on the non-Southern East Coast), and a week of insomnia means that I'm going to crawl into my hobbit hole for Shabbat. I will be sleeping and reading all Shabbat. The joys of being a woman: it's ok if I don't wake up in time and have to daven at home :D

So until Shabbat arrives in an hour and a half, there is a bathroom just begging to be cleaned!

Reason #1 You Know You're Crazy: You're Suspicious of Kindness

Reason #1 You Know You're Crazy: You're Suspicious of Kindness

As any of you converts/converts-in-progress know, the conversion process, despite being an incredibly worthwhile, meaningful, and "religious" experience, can be soul-crushing when well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) Jews try to "discourage" you. Sometimes this discouragement can cross the line over into flat-out rude or cruel. My two favorite pet peeves are (1) setting meetings and "forgetting" to show up to them and (2) saying things like, "No one will ever marry you/eat in your house/believe you're Jewish/marry your children/etc."

These kinds of experiences can tend to make converts-in-progress suspicious of kindness from anyone in Jewish authority, especially anyone related to their individual conversion process.

So besides this possibly being, in my opinion, the worst problem with conversions today, why am I bringing this up? Quite frankly, things are going too well, and I'm freaked out. I expect to end any interaction with a conversion-related rabbi with a good cry in the privacy of my own home. Yet I switched to a new beit din for moving reasons, and they're all just being too darned nice. It's terrible to say, but I feel like I'm being lured into a trap. What's this, rabbis are treating me with respect, kindness, and common decency?? They're returning my emails, they're not "losing" my applications, and they don't treat me patronizingly? I'm waiting for the floor to fall out and for the status quo to return.

On the other hand, perhaps I'm where I was always meant to be :)

If nothing else, conversion will give you middos you never thought you'd ever have. Ones you kinda wished you didn't have to learn the hard way.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reason #201 You Know You're Crazy: Unpronounceable Hebrew Names

Reason #201 You Know You're Crazy:

You chose a Hebrew name for yourself that you can't pronounce correctly with any consistency. In my case, I chose Kochava, which has that guttral "ch" sound smack dab in the middle of the word, which is even harder than pronouncing it when it's at the beginning or end of a word. Hence, Chavi :) I still can't pronounce it right on a regular basis though.

Reason #84 You Know You're Crazy: Orthodox Conversion is EXPENSIVE!

Reason #84 You Know You're Crazy:

An Orthodox Conversion is EXPENSIVE.

Really. My conservative conversion cost me nothing other than one required paperback book for my Introduction to Judaism class. I think I bought it on for 5 bucks.

To get to my first meeting with an orthodox beit din, I spent approximately $1,000 for a 25 hour trip.

$300 Application fee
$350 Last minute flight (They could see me within 2 weeks, and I jumped at the chance!)
$85 Hotel room
$75 Charge for a different hotel room because my reservation was screwed up (still fighting that one!)
$30 Airport parking for "2" days
$84 Dog boarding for "2" days
$95 Lost wages for missing a shift of work at two jobs
3 classes missed

...And they told me I should be working with a different beit din.

But at least they gave me a reading list, so I've been working through that list ever since. I dropped about $350 later that day on books (and I got a great deal from a VERY awesome and kind rabbi!). I was frustrated at the time, but it has actually worked out quite well, minus the financial costs. I haven't been able to afford a personal meeting with the new beit din yet, so I'll be meeting them in December. But I'll be much closer to them next May!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reason #483 You Know You're Crazy: Don't Mess with the Zohan

Reason #483 You Know You're Crazy:

You were SO excited to see Don't Mess with the Zohan because you really wanted to know what stereotypes American Jews have about Israelis. And you sat there with rapt attention. But then discouraged your non-Jewish family from ever seeing it.

Kiruv and (Non-Orthodox) Converts

I tried to get some Hebrew reading help from a kiruv organization that offers free tutoring to any Jew. Interestingly, they will work with gay Jews, intermarried Jews, or any other non-Orthodox Jew. However, they will not work with a convert who has had a non-Orthodox conversion because we are "not Jewish." Of course, they said it may be possible to work with me once there is an approximate Orthodox conversion date planned. That was one of those conversations where you default to only saying "ok" because you don't want to lose control of your emotions.

I understanding limiting services to "Jews," but a friend summed it up best: "Denying a non-orthodox convert these services is like denying a reform Jew of patrilineal descent. He's not 'Jewish' either!" I don't know if they allow or deny patrilineal Jews from their services.

She also had a great point that kiruv really shouldn't ignore non-Orthodox converts. They're affiliating Jewishly whether you like it or not, they will "intermarry," and they will produce "Jewish" children. (I hate using all the quotes, but I don't know a better way to get the point across.) If kiruv organizations want to increase Jewish observance, why are they discriminating against the people usually the most passionate to learn? It seems like once you're affiliated with the Tribe, kiruv should be interested in bringing you to The Dark Side of observance.

Oh, adventures in being Jewish but not Jewish. The status wars continue...

Changing from Jeans-and-T-Shirts to Skirts-and-Sleeves

I’ve always been a jeans-and-t-shirts kind of girl. Very low maintenance. So much so that I didn’t even know I have an obsessive compulsion to color-coordinate until my freshman year of college! Beginning to work in a professional field had partially ruined this tendency, but in April 2010, I switched full-time to knee-length or longer skirts and elbow-length sleeves or longer. I don’t always wear shirts that cover my collarbone, but I do keep my necklines exceptionally high to make sure no cleavage could ever show. I’m very top-heavy, so this is a challenge.

The following are my observations on changing from a lazy girl-dresser to wearing skirts full time. I’ve always been pretty modest with my shirts, so that was less of a big deal to me, though as you’ll see below, even my shirt fashion has changed.

Most Expected Hassle: Having to shave my legs more often and in all seasons. I suggest having a healthy stash of long skirts for those days when you really don’t care anymore.
Less of a Big Deal than Expected: Getting the skirt caught in the car door. Sometimes it might look silly to outsiders, but it never makes my skirt dirty. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Also, now I almost always remember to sweep my skirt inside the car automatically.
Best Perk: Always looking somewhat dressed up to a secular POV. I work in a professional office with business casual dress expected, but even my jean skirts fly as being “dressy” enough. I now own one wardrobe for all my needs, except business suits. This. Is. Awesome.
Hardest Clothing to Get Right Without Looking Frumpy: Business suits. Still working on that one. Unfortunately, I work in a field where business suits are a necessary evil. Also, shells under a suit are considered “dressing poorly in a suit” in my field, which prefers women to wear button-up shirts with one or two buttons undone. And of course, buttoning up all the buttons makes me choke and looks vaguely like those women freed from the Yearning for Zion compound.
Best Surprise: The change really wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Even better, I always feel prettier, so my self-confidence has actually sky-rocketed! I was amazed how much time I spent worrying about wedgies (or their frontal equivalent) with pants. If I have a wedgie now, I now I can make it to the bathroom without anyone being the wiser.
Biggest Double-Edged Sword: Skirts are a lot more forgiving when you’ve gained a few pounds. The other-double-edged sword is that, when you lose weight, almost no skirts are made for wearing with a belt.
Biggest Gripe: Skirts. Need. Pockets. kthanxbai.
Not Looking Forward to: Winter. Thankfully, I live on the sunny west coast, but winter comes here eventually. I need to go shopping :(
Most Surprising Moment When I Didn’t Cave and Wear Pants: Moving! I loaded the UHaul, moved the boxes, and deconstructed/reconstructed all my furniture, all while wearing a skirt. However, I suggest a knee-length skirt, preferably blue jean, with pockets. You need the pockets for obvious reasons, and you don’t want to step on your skirt. I accidentally did, and it “pantsed” me. Thankfully, no one was looking! Also, a jean skirt is much easier to clean if it gets dirty, which it will.
Biggest Fashion Change: Going from few bottoms and lots of tops to wanting fewer tops and tons of bottoms. I’ve shown a tendency towards bright-colored plain tops with funky (or plain) skirts. I’m a fashion purist, so I won’t mix patterns, and I make a big effort to color-coordinate (even the shoes and glasses! But not purses. That’s silly.). I’ve tended to wear items of solid bright colors because solid colors almost always go together really well without clashing. For instance, today I’m wearing bright red glasses, bright purple shirt, bright yellow watch, green purse, jean skirt, and purple plaid Airwalks. If those were patterned, somehow I don’t think they would match as well. Yet instead, I’m funky frum!
Biggest Fashion Hurdle: Shoes. I now own a lot more shoes, and I think simple flats and Airwalk-type shoes go very well with skirts, but I will wear pants again before I would wear sneakers with a skirt. Just. Looks. Bad. Beauty hurts, ladies. However, I surprisingly almost never wear heels, even to work. And my skirts apparently let me get away with my purple plaid Airwalks at work. Skirts FTW!
Unexpected Reactions from Other People: Both men and women open doors for me CONSTANTLY. Being a Southern belle, this doesn’t bother me. And it gives me a chance to say thank you and smile at a stranger J I think it makes me a happier person, and also gives me a chance to brighten someone else’s day with returned kindness.
Biggest Change in Myself: Because of the aforementioned feeling of prettiness and self-confidence, for once, I finally take pride in making fashionable choices! Basically, I have a lot more fun getting ready in the morning!
In sum, I really like the changes in my life caused by switching to skirts. And almost all of them have been unexpected!

The Best Part of Converting

You know the best part about converting? Preparing for a mitzvah IS a mitzvah, so I will eventually get "credit" for all the things I'm doing pre-Conversion 2.0.

Why is this awesome? It means that even my most awful, stupid mistakes are actually a mitzvah in themselves rather than being a chet that might turn into a lesson, and through that teshuva, become part of a mitzvah. At least, that's how I understand things :) But I'm always glad when I make mistakes because I know that the mistake had to be made at some point, and I'm glad it's not when I'm legally Jewish. And that hopefully, I've learned from it and won't do it again!

This is most applicable to my kitchen. For the first time in my life, I'm cooking. A lot. We don't have a kosher restaurant (ours lost its certification), so I've been mostly cooking my own food since June. Granted, I use a lot of frozen foods for my "lazy student" days. And never before in my life has a place full of inanimate objects made me feel like such an idiot. I know I must look like an idiot to my landlord because old yellow post-its label all my cabinets and dishwasher as either dairy or meat.

I rarely eat meat, so I didn't even have a meat section until I moved into the eruv in September. Now, I'm mostly watching my stupid mistakes so that I can make a full list of what I still need to complete this change-over. I think I've got another week or two until I feel comfortable going to stock up on all the stuff I didn't think about before!

Of course, buying anything makes me antsy because I'm getting rid of nearly everything I own in April for the cross-country move. Necessary evils!

Mandatory Introduction

Here is the mandatory introduction.

As any Jewish convert/convert-in-progress knows, when you're converting to Judaism, sometimes you just wanna know you're not crazy.

This will hopefully help keep me accountable to my learning, as well as sharing those funny little moments when you wonder if you're crazy. Disclaimer: in all areas of my life, I tend to attract the most insane situations, so I have no doubt that my conversion process has been even crazier than normal people. Perhaps this makes me a good example because if I'm not crazy, then you CERTAINLY aren't crazy! (I promise you aren't. Well, you probably are, but not in the "bad" way.)

In summary: You're not crazy. I'm not crazy. But funny/insane stuff happens. And I need a place to share my Jewish thoughts with like minds.