~Thursday, October 31, 2013


I went to my book club last week. (We read Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, which was okay. I loved the characters, but hated the execution of the plot.) Katie and I were seated at a table for six in the corner of Café Intermezzo, a charming café that serves every possible variety of coffee, tea, and wine. On any given day, there is a choice of at least 30 fresh cakes of which you can get a giant slice for $7.95. 

The rest of the girls took their seats. The waiter came by and placed napkins in front of us. 

"Hello," he greeted us. He did a double-take when he saw me. "Oh! It's you! Hello! I know you've been here before!"

The rest of the table gave me the side eye. Why does this man know you so well, Sarah?

"I, um," [cough] "This was my go-to place when I was online dating," I rushed. During the height of my dating, I was here 2 - 3 times a week. 

The rest of the girls squealed in delight. I was a little embarrassed sitting there, haunted from ghosts of dating's past. 

"I'll have the hot chocolate with whiskey and Nutella." 

You know, the usual. 

~Friday, October 25, 2013

Wedding Dating

During the very first Intro to Judaism class, the rabbi addressed conversion, making it very clear that this was not a conversion class and we would not be Jews in five months when the class was over. That was up to our converting rabbi, who was not him.

"How many of you have converting rabbis?" he asked.

The entire class raised their hands but me. This was why I had tried scheduling the meeting months ago. The woman stood me up, and the rabbi had seemed very nonchalant when I had asked him, choosing instead to give me a brief overview over email.

Conversion takes a year, he had written me.

I'm not waiting another year from August, I had told Abraham.

"And I don't convert by wedding dates," he told the class. "It's too hard to plan a wedding and convert at the same time. Some of you may take the class and choose not to covert, and that's okay too. Just get married and finish converting when the time is right. You'll have to have a second ceremony to be officially wedded in the Jewish faith."

Abraham and I headed his advice, mainly because we were at his mercy, and removed conversion from our wedding date factors. There were plenty of remaining factors:

  • Finding a rabbi who will perform an interfaith wedding. Our rabbi made it very clear he would not.
  • Finding a Saturday during Daylight Savings Time when the sun sets early and thereby ending the Sabbath at a reasonable hour. Rabbis do not work or travel on the Sabbath. This alone eliminated 6 months out of the year, including spring and summer, when the sun would set close to 9:00 p.m.
  • Abraham was not getting married during football season, eliminating autumn.

Our other options were getting married on a Friday or a Sunday, but Abraham hated Friday weddings and didn't want to make people take off work. We tried Sunday of Memorial Day, but venues were already booked by people who had planned ahead. Sunday of Labor Day was too far away for me and too close to football season for Abraham.

That left us with January and February, the two cheapest months of the year to get married. The sun would set 6:00ish, so we could have a Saturday night wedding.

The ceremony would be Jewish, but I needed some of my culture reflected in the wedding too. I didn't want everything dictated by Jewish law. So I found the biggest, whitest antebellum home I could afford. It was built in 1870 and has 2-story white columns and a porch. It's everything I wanted, down to the green velvet curtains and working fireplace. It is so very southern. My heart was set.

It's booked for February 22nd.

~Thursday, October 17, 2013


"Careful Sarah, you're in danger of becoming boring."

My friend drunkenly giggled. It was after 1:00 a.m. on a Friday, and I was yawning and ready to go home from the bar. My friend was sitting in a booth between Schmoozer and his BF.

If my friend knew how much those words hurt, she'd be horrified. I never told her. At the time I think I muttered I had to get up early to work on Abraham's house. I had been working hard on it, trying to carve a life for myself there.

I watched my friend. She was sitting where I was sitting over two years ago, with the same people I would have been sitting with. Drinking with Schmoozer and his BF. And then I felt sorry for the three of them, having not evolved at all in the last few years.

My friend was new to town. She and her boyfriend broke up and she was eager to start fresh, so she moved to our side of the city. She knew Harvey and me and Jenna, albeit peripherally. We started inviting her out to things. She did what I did when I was new: she always said yes.

She joined my kickball team. I had been inviting my friends to join or come out for three years, and she was the first person to do so. She was warned that Abraham and I were partiers and that we would be out until 3:00 in the morning, yet she was the one who stayed behind after we left at 11:00 p.m. every week. Pretty soon the guys from kickball were coming up to her and hugging her while nodding at me from across the room.

This girl had picked up my life where I had left it behind.

I say that with both with and without jealousy. I love Abraham, and I am very pleased with our life. I don't hate Home Depot as much as I thought I would. I like painting walls and creating something new in Abraham's home. I love that I have someone to share that with. I love even more that I have someone besides my mother who will always answer the phone when I call.

But it is with a pang that I take off my crown as the party girl. There is a certain amount of attention that comes with that title. The boys who would have greeted me with hugs don't anymore. People don't ask me to play the drinking games much anymore. My priority at kickball nights is now when I'm getting fed.

I quit the team. I don't think I've mentioned that. Abraham's (ex)roommate and I both joked that we found our husbands playing kickball, therefore kickball had served its purpose in our lives. But in reality I needed more downtime. I am working full time, planning a wedding, and going to my Jewish classes: I didn't need one more night a week blocked off by activities.

So I took off my party girl crown and bestowed it to my friend. I just didn't know with that I was in danger of being insulted and called boring.

~Friday, October 4, 2013


It's a little annoying how accurate Sex and the City was in regards to converting to Judaism. If my name wasn't already Sarah, it would be Charlotte to reflect all the times I've been called that.

"You're converting? Oh, you're Charlotte!"

Eye roll.

But in preparation for my classes, I did re-watch all of the Charlotte conversion episodes. I made Abraham promise I could shout at him "I GAVE UP CHRIST FOR YOU!" just one time while he's watching a Mets game.


Even though Lawyered's wife just finished her Intro to Judaism class at a local synagogue, I did not follow in her footsteps. For a while we talked about taking the class together and going through the process together, but she ultimately decided to go at it alone. Changing religions is deeply personal, and I think she wanted to keep it private between her and her husband.

She had ties to the synagogue she used; I did not. Instead I shopped for conversion classes like I shopped for shoes: online. I checked out most of the local reform and conservative synagogues' websites. I read their mission statements and about their Intro to Judaism classes. I listened to myself during the process. If I got a mixed feeling at any time, I would mark the synagogue off my list.

The class that felt right to me was the class at the local Jewish community center. It was non-denominational, so I felt like I would receive the most objective education instead of an education guided by a particular synagogue's beliefs.

But it was April and the class didn't start until August. Abraham and I didn't know what was involved in conversion. We didn't know how long it would take and what would be required. A class for sure. But what about counseling with a rabbi? Lawyered's wife had a write a God statement that detailed her beliefs about God. And then there's the mikvah, which is exactly like a Jewish baptism, but you have to be butt-ass naked in front of other people, like your rabbi with whom you spent all those hours talking about God.

We didn't feel comfortable setting a wedding date until we knew more about conversion. So I called up the woman in charge of the class and told her I had lots of questions and asked if we could schedule a meeting. So we did, on a Sunday morning in June.

Abraham and I got up early, and we dressed in business casual attire. We drove 30 minutes across town to meet her. At the Jewish community center we were told by the receptionist that the woman wasn't here yet. "Jewish Standard Time," Abraham nervously laughed.

We took a seat and watched men in basketball jerseys enter and leave the gym. I played on my phone until the battery drained. After more than a half hour of waiting, I walked back to the receptionist.

"Is she here yet?"

The receptionist pressed some buttons. "She still isn't in. Let me call her." She pressed some more buttons, this time on the phone. After speaking with her, she handed the receiver to me.

The woman forgot about the meeting, she told me. She told me to take a tour of the facility. She receptionist needed her phone back, so we hung up. None of my questions were answered. We were no closer to setting a wedding date.

"Just like Sex and the City!" my friends exclaimed. "When Charlotte knocks on the synagogue door and announces her intention of converting and the rabbi slams the door in her face!"

Abraham's father also thought this was intentional. "They make it hard for you so they know you are serious."

"There's hard. And then there's being malicious," I angrily shot back. "I want no part of any religion that would go out of its way to be rude to someone intentionally."

I did not like having the door slammed in my face. I did not like wasting hours of my Sunday morning sitting in this woman's place of employment while she was at home in sweat pants. It was too cold to be calculated, I think. I think she genuinely forgot. She sent me an email the following day apologizing to me.

But, just in case I was wrong, I never responded to her.