Neurotic Owl

flying through clouds of uncertainty on wings of existential dread

Just what I needed, a new hobby.

Weeell a new form of a hobby I already had, since it’s still needlework. I fell down a rabbit hole of watching Morgan Donner’s Youtube videos (10/10, highly recommend) and there was one where another seamstress teaches her the basics of making tape lace and my fingers started itching.

No photo description available.

First attempt with whatever bullshit supplies I have on hand – there were supposed to be two wings but I ran out of thread and didn’t care enough to change colours.


Aaand then this. Is it chaotic insanity? Yup. Do I kind of like it? Yup. I’m strongly considering working it into a mesh top of some sort for Pride. I’d thought before about rhinestoning a bra to look like bi flags, but I am unlikely to be comfortable in nothing but a bra top so maybe black powermesh to make a back and shoulders and set the heart into the back? I dunno, for now it’ll just lie around with other projects while I try to go back to my other WIPs instead of starting a cat applique with the black soutache and thread I have lying around.

IN OTHER NEWS it is Passover and can I just ask everyone to pour out a little Manischewitz for on-campus college students with shitty meal halls? Ok, probably less of an issue this year than most. BUT STILL. I was once again explaining the origin of LeavenFest to someone the other day and I’m not sure I’ve told y’all about college and Pesach so buckle up, it’s about to get wordy.

First, since I think most of you are goyim, an explanation. As you may or may not have heard, for the eight (or sometimes seven) days of Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened bread. Sounds pretty easy, right? But we are Jews, we are allergic to easy, so what that actually means is no eating wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt in any form other than matzoh or things made from matzoh.

Slightly harder but still doable? Correct.

But see, when I was a kid, there was more. First of all, Ashkenazi Jews generally don’t eat rice during Passover (Sephardic Jews do and these days so do I). But also, there is a category called kitnyot which includes corn and legumes, all of which used to be forbidden on Pesach. They I think still are for Orthodox Jews? At some point the Conservative Rabbinate declared that there was no halachic reason to avoid kitnyot, and even after that info trickled down to me it was quite a few years before I was comfortable with adding those foods back in. If you spend 20+ years following a rule, it feels weird to just stop even if it’s entirely legit. I’m pretty sure my mom still doesn’t eat kitnyot, although I think she’s less careful about it that she used to be. The thing is, cutting out corn and legumes is a HUGE DEAL. No corn oil, corn syrup, soybean oil, peanut butter, soy sauce; it’s hugely limiting, and those are the rules I was still following in college.

SO. My first Passover at school has arrived and I am actually really excited because I have moved from Houston, Texas to Long Island, and I’m sure there’s going to be Passover food EVERYWHERE. It will be so easy, the grocery stores and meal halls will be amazing, I will have no worries!

What I didn’t realize was that neighborhoods matter, and Garden City at that time was (I think) largely Italian and Catholic. The grocery store within walking distance of school had a few boxes of matzoh, but that was about it. There were very few Jews at my school, and all the others I knew except for my friend Amy were either WAY more observant and keeping kosher (and I think generally commuters), or totally non-observant and just didn’t fuck with Passover rules. So Amy and I were ride or die Pesach buddies and that was that. There was shit all in the meal hall. They slapped a box of matzoh on the counter at the deli station and called it done. There was a Sbarro’s on campus with a Jewish manager, so every year he kept the matzoh pizza flowing. Do you know how sick you can get of Sbarro’s pizza toppings on matzoh? ONE YEAR, there was a Jewish woman working in the main meal hall who, out of the kindness of her heart, made a big pot of matzoh ball soup at home and brought it in it serve to the Jews. Her manager decided it wasn’t enough to go around to anyone who might want it so he ADDED NOODLES, making it inedible for the people it was intended for. Sigh.

So anyway, Passover was a slog, and since we were fucking sick of pizza by the end, our tradition was to order in Chinese to celebrate at sundown on the last night. Noodles! Eggrolls! Rice! Soy sauce! LEAVENNNNNNNNN.

These days Chinese is one of the few takeout things I can eat during Passover as long as I order carefully, so I celebrate with pizza, but the spirit of EAT ALL THE FORBIDDEN remains. I started turning it into a party with friends a few years back, when it became inadvisable for me to eat a whole pizza myself, and anyway having a LeavenFest party to end the holiday is a blast, highly recommend. Your friends have never seen joy like the joy of a Jew eating her first crouton in eight days. Anyhow, that’s LeavenFest. Not sure if I’ll be doing it with friends this year (I’ll be one week short of being fully vaccinated but they both are already so we’re weighing risks)- my mom has volunteered to fill in otherwise — but I look forward to it as always.

5 comments on “Just what I needed, a new hobby.

  1. Lisa B.
    March 28, 2021

    I ended up reading your whole post out loud for my husband, who cracked up at the appropriate points. (Just thought you would like to know that.)

    And thank you a LOT for clearing up a weird misunderstanding (on my part)–years and years ago, a coworker was explaining how during Passover, she couldn’t eat leavened bread, and what that meant. Well meaning me, feeling that I had leavened/unleavened down, forced myself to Shut. Up. when I heard myself explaining to a practicing Jew what she could and couldn’t eat. I’ve been perplexed about this for years.

  2. naralesser
    March 28, 2021

    It is COMPLICATED. There are a million variations, you can literally never assume you know. My family was pretty strict but we did always make Pesadech rolls, sponge cake, all sorts of recipes with matzoh meal or cake meal instead of flour and eggs instead of leaven. An Orthodox Jew almost certainly wouldn’t do that, and some are so careful that they won’t even let matzoh get damp in case it rises slightly.

    • Lisa B.
      March 28, 2021

      Not unlike Catholics who go to mass on Christmas and Easter, I think, some Jews practice the parts of Judaism that feels personally important, maybe? Musings from a non-practicing Catholic married to a non-practicing Jew…

      Anyway, when I heard myself arguing with her that eating wheat in and of itself wasn’t the problem, I forcefully told myself, “Shut up. Lisa. Just shut it. Right. Now.”

      In my own head, though, I’ve continued to argue with her. It’s stupid, but shit like that sticks with me. Thank you for cutting me free!

      • naralesser
        March 28, 2021

        Eating wheat on and of itself is absolutely forbidden.

  3. Creatively Sustainable
    March 29, 2021

    I love your Pride top idea and the heart you made. Looking forward to seeing what else you make.

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