liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
[personal profile] liv
I left all the Pesach cleaning until the week before the festival, which was not necessarily the greatest plan. But I managed to do most of what I wanted to do, with a mix of practically useful spring-cleaning and religiously useful removal of leavened material from my house. I did completely clear out my office of miscellaneous piles of paper that don't really have a filing space, which made me feel a lot better. I ended up skimping on the bathrooms (incomplete spring cleaning) and the freezer (meaning I can't really invite any frummers to eat in my house this week, but for myself I'll live with having frozen pizzas around and just not open the freezer this week). I didn't manage to do any exercise at all, but I think Pesach probably is a valid exception to my routine.

Then I had an extremely relaxing evening on Thursday; I went out for a nice meal, both to reward myself for mostly completing the cleaning and to leave my kitchen pristine for the festival. And Friday it was gloriously sunny and I showed up at my parents' late morning, and we had a remarkably non-stressed day of preparing the seder meal. I mean, it was intense, we were pretty much on the go all day, but we finished with more than half an hour to spare and no last-minute panics, and nobody screamed at anybody else and it was a pleasant relaxed family thing that also resulted in preparing lots of delicious food.

By the evening we had Screwy, P'tite Soeur and her partner, [personal profile] jack and his mother, and a couple of guests from the Cambridge community. No Thuggish Poet this year as he'd abandoned the seder for a completely unmissable opportunity to go to Hawaii! We started early, and we ran through the liturgy fairly rapidly. It seems we've had a pretty narrow window between having to abbreviate things because there were children too young to appreciate an extended rabbinic discussion, and having to abbreviate things for a grandmother too old and in pain to sit through more than about 45 minutes of liturgy. I think that's probably about right; there's this platonic ideal of a Seder which is five rabbis (male, with no visible dependents!) sitting in Bnei Barak discussing detailed points of Jewish law until it's time for morning prayers, and then there's reality which involves families and is always messy and falls short of the ideal, and that's how it should be.

Anyway Screwy did an excellent job, and managed to stimulate discussion and thought without letting things overrun. I think it was probably a bit confusing for my poor mother-in-law as nobody really stopped to explain what was going on, but never mind. The food was wonderful as ever; I think Mum has got seder meals for 15 plus with various dietary requirements down to a fine art by now! And we had a very very extended discussion about the wrath bit after the meal, as well as indulging in what has become a tradition of doing imitations of all the characters in One Only Kid.

[personal profile] jack came for me mid-morning on Saturday, and stayed around chatting and hanging out with my lovely family for a little while before we headed back to Stoke. And second seder here absolutely worked perfectly. I've mentioned before that I love my community because they handle the practical things and leave me to just deal with liturgy. This is particularly evident at Passover when there's a lot of practical stuff to think of, not least preparing a meal for 30 people. Practical notes for the future: the community seem a bit confused about the handwashing thing, so it'll probably help if I bring things like ewers and towels. And they don't apparently own a havdalah candle... We had a couple of small boys present to read the Four Questions and enjoy the children's bits, and a handful of non-Jewish guests, and a good turnout of our regular members. The only thing missing really was anyone with any musical ability at all; we tried to sing a few of the most essential songs but it was a bit embarrassing.

I timed the pre-meal liturgy at exactly one hour, and wrapped up the after-meal part fairly quickly, though ended up needing to help the kids find the afikoman. I made sure to allow enough time for informal discussion or just general chat, bringing the community back on topic at appropriate intervals. I'm quite pleased with myself; I think I pitched it just right, with a clearly recognizable traditional liturgy but enough explanation to make it accessible to people who either aren't familiar with the traditions, or who know seder only as a fairly meaningless recital of some mumbo-jumbo. There were a few requests to do Friday night services the same way, with a fair amount of reading in English and lots of explanation. I am not very willing to do this, partly because it would completely uproot the community's Orthodox traditions but mainly because Friday night services are not meant to be pedagogical in the way that a seder is. But I do take that as a compliment!

After that I really really enjoyed a couple of days' break with [personal profile] jack. I'm slightly disappointed that Passover coincided exactly with Easter this year, making it impossible for me to go to Eastercon (I was getting pangs of envy reading tweets about the con), but on the other hand a wet, miserable bank holiday was just perfect for staying in with my betrothed and recuperating from the prep and the festival. And [personal profile] jack helped me rearrange furniture in preparation for our Bed which is arriving this weekend, including stopping pretending that a rather rickety pasteboard chest of draws can double as a filing cabinet. So in general my "habitat" (as the cool kids are calling it) is gradually improving.

I also took yesterday off work, allowing me to go to London and fetch my actual finished wedding dress. I really can not get over how amazing it is! Train ticket restrictions meant I didn't have a lot of time in town, but I did manage to return some of my makeup to the big Oxford Street Selfridges. Thank you all for the extensive and supportive discussions on my makeup panic post; I will try to get back to everybody now that the immediate panic of Passover is over. I think commenters on DW posts have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear, which is completely lovely and I do feel really supported, but in this case I am genuinely really conflicted, so it's not surprising that I got conflicted advice. But talking it through did help me to sort out in my mind what I really want, and separate some of the issues that had got tangled. So I think the best compromise was to return all the primer, foundation, blusher etc, but keep the good quality eyeshadow and lipstick. I think it was mainly having completely a smooth, perfect mask that smelled like makeup which was really freaking me out, rather than wearing makeup at all. And I realized I care a lot more about having my face match the awesomeness of the dress than I do about looking good in photos, and you've all reassured me I can choose to do one without the other. A smaller but significant thing is that I feel a lot less trapped by £30 worth of good quality eyeshadow and lipstick, than I did by £115 worth of assorted makeup I don't really know how to use. I haven't completely committed myself to wearing this stuff on the day, but I now feel like I either can or not and it's not going to be this huge drama. So, yay.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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