Rosh Hashana: Sweet Hostess Gifts

Rosh Hashana: Sweet Hostess Gifts

My friend and I invited each other for meals over Rosh Hashana. They were bringing their family, and I insisted that they not bring anything more when they came for dinner – no food, no wine, just themselves. In return, they insisted I, too, not bring anything as a hostess gift when I came over for a meal.

As though I would listen, and show up empty-handed. Ha! I went to the store and bought a quart of apple cider. Something seasonal, a treat, and a sweet start to a – hopefully – sweet year. I showed up, gave them the apple cider. They were pleased, I was pleased, it was delicious.

The next day, the family came over – and brought a pomegranate.

A new fruit? Seasonal? A symbol that our good deeds should be plentiful?

Game, set, match: pomegranate for the win.

Next year, if you’d like to invite me over for Rosh Hashana, feel free to tell me not to bring anything. Just know, I’ll be showing up with a pomegranate. Good planning for a good year!


Tibet: Fear of Fear; Otherwise, Captive

With her dreadlocks and wide smile, Lateesha looked as if she wasn’t afraid of anything. But as she got ready to speak, her book propped open at the podium, Charles asked how anxious she was, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“At least a seven,” said Lateesha.

“Take it slow,” he said. “There are only a few people out there who can completely overcome their fears and they all live in Tibet.”

from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Pumpkin Cookies: The Taste of Someone Else’s Home

Pumpkin Cookies: The Taste of Someone Else’s Home

My parents don’t cook with pumpkin.

My mom only makes one cookie recipe.

That recipe is for chocolate chip cookies.

I don’t know the recipe because she memorized it, and never remembers to write it down.

I haven’t made my mom’s cookies since I lived within shouting distance of her.

So, I make other cookies. Lots of cookies. Lots of different kinds of cookies. Recently, I made these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and a guest could not stop telling me how they were a taste of home. While his mother doesn’t bake much now, she used to make them as a treat for her kids when they were young.

So, while I can’t have a taste of home without going there, I’m glad to try someone else’s home instead. Though really, I’d rather have my mom’s chocolate chip cookies.

Novel Approach to New York City

Novel Approach to New York City

Maybe I’d go back to New York at the end of it, maybe I wouldn’t. The thought of not having to fight so hard every day made me feel almost giddy. I had forced myself to love that place for so long. The idea that I didn’t belong there-that I couldn’t belong-had been so crippling that I’d molded myself into someone who did belong, sharpening my elbows and edges every morning before I left the house.

– from The One that Got Away* by Melissa Pimentel


*The blurb’s claim that this is a modern version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion is only true in the sense that if this book was written and you then put a gun to someone’s head and demanded to know which of Jane Austen’s books it was most like, your victim might say Persuasion.

Dry Cleaner: Are You My Mother?

Dry Cleaner: Are You My Mother?

Many people have thought that they are my mother. My boss tells me when to go to the doctor. The super down the block tries to send me off every day with a smile on my face. They aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last. But the only one who reminds me of my mom is the woman who runs my dry cleaner shop. A bustling and effective South Korean woman, the same size as my mom, my dry cleaner is always happy to see me and loves to chat. She clearly loves me, but if you might not know that if you heard us talk. Thankfully, I too say things with the assumption that my undying affection is a given, so we understand each other perfectly.


What She Says: Your coat is yellow! Like chicken feet!

Sounds Like: Your coat looks like it spends the day in the dirt.

Actual Meaning: Your coat is adorable and bright!


What She Says: You had your hair up last time? Looks better down.

Sounds Like: You look bad with your hair up; don’t do that.

Actual Meaning: You look cute today!


What She Says: You bring this in last June?

Sounds Like: You smell bad.

Actual Meaning: It’s been too long since we’ve seen you.


What She Says: Your buttons – too loose! Don’t want to lose.

Sounds Like: You don’t take care of your clothing.

Actual Meaning: I sewed in your buttons because they would be hard to replace, and I don’t trust my subcontractor to be as careful as I am.


What She Says: You have cash? Credit card has bank fee.

Sounds Like: Why are you oppressing small family-owned businesses, you out of touch plutocrat?

Actual Meaning: Help a sister out, like I know you want to.


And the reason I went to the dry cleaner’s? My mom took one look at my coat, and asked if I had a dry cleaner. Because, like my dry cleaner, she loves me and wants to make sure I put my best foot forward. If your mom isn’t here to do the same for you, head over to Sunrise Cleaners at 59 Nassau Street, and you’ll find someone who can help you out.

I’ll Kick Off My Heels, You Kick Up Your Heels

I’ll Kick Off My Heels, You Kick Up Your Heels

I stepped out of blaring noise of the wedding into the cool night air of the suburbs. Though presumably still in New York State, I wasn’t the one who drove, and couldn’t have sworn to my location. My ride told us to stay put while he got the car, so I was trying to spot the Big Dipper in the sky – impossible with the country club’s outdoor lighting – when I heard someone right behind me say that she had to thank me.

“I’ve been wanting to thank you for the last hour,” she gushed.

I smiled, sure she’d confused me for someone else. She picked up on my hesitation.

“You were the first to take off her shoes!” she exclaimed. “I just can’t be the first to do that, and no one else was doing that. Then I saw that you weren’t wearing shoes and could finally take mine off.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, and looked down at the topic of our discussion. The square-toed pumps may have been a little out of date, but remained a classy choice – and I complimented her on them.

“Oh, those are the problem,” she said. “They were my husband’s grandmother’s.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“She’s fine!” my new friend replied. “She gave them to me last time we visited, and while they’re a nice option, they pinch my toes. And the insides are shredding.”

“In that case,” I informed her, “next time, tell me you’re waiting and I’ll take off my shoes before the first dance.”