Potluck, hibernation, and a little dating advice

Potluck and hibernation are the main themes here, but dating as a topic is also going to make an appearance.  I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures this week, but the dating bit is at the bottom, so hopefully that will keep your attention even without illustrations.

Last night was the first Grad Network Shabbat dinner of 2011, and I’m pretty thrilled about the whole thing.  For one, Emily is an extraordinary hostess, and she insists it was no trouble and that she wants to host again (and soon!).  For another, the dinner proved that people are really willing to step up and provide enough deliciousness that no one will go hungry (and leftovers will abound!).  And finally, there were people there for whom this was their first event, or at least their first Shabbat event, which means that mixing up our format for these things attracts different people.

I made rice and lentils with caramelized onions, and it was definitely not the start of the show.  As thrilled as I am about Veganomican, my newly acquired cookbook that the recipe came from, it just wasn’t that great.  Plus I was a little bitter that it dripped all over me on the way to the potluck…

There was some amazing food last night, and again, the fact that there was plenty to go around made this a potluck to remember.  Mattea’s challah and Edward’s tzatziki were especially memorable, and I heard that Suzanne’s peanut butter brownies were out of this world.  Resident wine expert Jonathan also reported that the wine selection was pretty decent.

Emily’s lasagna, though.  Wow.  It especially gives me joy to talk about her lasagna, because the first time I made lasagna that turned out really well, Emily was there cooking with me.  It was also one of the first times we spent any time together, so us and lasagna, we have some history.  She made two versions: eggplant and spinach.  In both cases, she reports the secret to her success was roasting the veggies (cherry tomatoes, onions, and the eggplant) before putting them in with the sauce and cheese.  She also used no-bake noodles, which, we both agree, is the only logical way to make lasagna.  So, roasted veggies, noodles, sauce and cheese.  At 375 until it’s browned and her apartment smells amazing.

Today was kind of a quintessential winter Shabbat day.  I managed to sleep nearly 12 hours last night, which means by the time I woke up, ate some leftover rice and lentils (much improved by adding hot sauce), some of Emily’s leftover lasagna (still amazing), and some homemade ice cream (we’re down to only 3 flavors in the freezer, and one more in process), Shabbat was nearly over.

Which brings me to one of the reasons I wanted to write this blog in the first place.  Shabbat can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it works for you. Plenty of people left the potluck last night and went to a bar.  Others drove home, while others walked and wouldn’t be using anything electric until 5:40 pm tonight.  And it’s all Shabbat, and it’s all great!  I’m not new to this job or organizing in the Jewish community, but it’s still incredibly special to me that so many people with so many different understandings of Shabbat (and of kashrut for that matter) can come together and cultivate a feeling of rest and inclusiveness while sharing a meal and a few calm hours.

Ok, so about dating.  (No, this is not especially Shabbat-related, but it is Jewish community-related and relevant to oh so many people I interact with, so thanks for indulging this departure from my main theme.)  After a winter break hiatus, I’ve gotten back into GradMatch this week.  In the last week, I also read a book by Patti Stanger (of Millionaire Matchmaker fame), so I’m a little fired up right now.  Plus I got to have a lovely (and hopefully helpful) conversation with some wonderful woman last night about dating.  In the course of all this, I realized another niche that needs filling: online dating profile critique/coaching.    While I would, truly, be happy to read your profile and give suggestions to anyone, in case you don’t want to take me up on that, here are a few helpful hints:

1.  Share only your best qualities when you write about yourself.  If you get to know someone better, they’re going to learn your flaws, so there’s no need to advertise all (or any) of them up front.  And if you’re not going to get to know them better, why bother badmouthing yourself?  It’s your great qualities that will attract the person in the first place.  Your flaws they’ll learn to live with.

2. Don’t put up a picture that you wouldn’t want to be the first thing your future mother-in-law sees of you.  That is, put up something tasteful but attractive, and if possible, post more than one picture.  These pictures should be of you, and only you.  No cropped arms of best friends (or, worse, former significant others), no pets, no babies.  And please no bikinis or bare chests.

3. Get someone to look over your profile before you post it.  This person should not be your mother or your father.

4.  When you write about what you’re looking for in another person, keep it positive.  A list of things you’re NOT looking for is going to translate into other people NOT being interested in you.

5.  Realize that online dating is completely different than meeting someone in person, but try to use the same social skill set.  If you meet someone in person, the first things you find out about him or her are not age, body type, and typical synagogue attendance.  But those might be the first things you read on an online profile.  Yes, you see the person, but the way you perceive someone’s body type standing there in front of him or her might be different than the description you’d see online.  Allow for human variation.  Allow for attraction even if the person’s type doesn’t fit into the box you clicked on your profile.  People are a lot, lot more than the sum of an online questionnaire.  Online dating is a great tool, but it pains me that this last bit seems to have gotten lost in the process.

I’m sure it will not surprise you to know that I could go on, but instead, I’ll get off my soapbox and head to the kitchen for some more leftovers.

A note about next Shabbat: the Gershman Y is having a community Shabbat dinner Friday night, and Minyan Tikvah is hosting services and lunch on Saturday.  And there will be a lot of sushi at lunch.  I’m just saying, you might want to be there…  Shavua tov – have a great week!

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