Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resolute, Shmesolute

Back on topic I am having a SERIOUS case of the munchies.
(Yes, wiseacres, even though I am a professional musician I have never even TRIED pot so it’s not that.)
Today I added carbs to my pasta—butter beans, OMG!--extra peanut butter to my pumpernickel bagel and tossed back a few crackers to go along with my potato chips.
Whole wheat crackers and baked Ruffles, but still…
Not one salad or green thing the entire day.
Hey, it’s a snow day!
The shoveling (into my mouth) started this past week:
My darling Zachary turned 21 (legal! poopoopoo!!!) and whatsa good Mama do?
We took him to Altantic City.
At precisely midnight he ordered his first martini.

(I ordered one too—yummy yum—make sure they make it
with Bombay Sapphire…)

Then Sruli took him to the Blackjack tables.
He happily, eagerly, delightedly, gleefully, showed his ID to the bartender, the security guards and the dealers—that, of course, was the whole point.
And he won 15 bucks! (And walked away, smart boy.)
They have Wawa markets down the shore—my FAVORITE place to get food!
The mashed potatoes are amazing, and the Philly pretzels are so good even I stopped getting them—600 calorie (!) bastards…
Plus we were stuck in our tiny vacation shack. I know and you know that EVERYONE eats out of ennui…
Thank God we had to shovel ourselves into our driveway to park when we got back—the only exercise so far.
I also think that our new business venture is making me anxious so I eat to delay doing what I have to do, but I am also excited about it and I eat when I am happy.
Obviously this is not a good equation.
Ahh—and the New Year looms. Sruli is the Rabbi this Shabbos and I LOVE his sermons and Torah service—he really cracks you up and makes you totally rethink everything—he gives great shul.
That and the big boys will just be coming home from KlezKamp which means sleeping off an entire week of no sleeping, so I don’t think we will be going out a la New Year’s.
I am actually glad—the best kissing is done at home!
PLUS my fabulous sister-the-doctor just told me that the progesterone I still have to take (yes, you go have twins at 45 and see what meds light up your life) is causing my “distended abdomen.” No kidding.
As that New Yorker cartoon captioned recently over a picture of a woman doing the dishes in stretch pants while her husband is on the phone: Myrtle? She’s testing the tensile strength of Lycra.
Me too, this week, Myrtle.
Like in Atlantic City--sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down.
So-- my New Year’s resolution is-- be happy all the time. Won’t you join me?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tuesday the Rabbi said No

On my cell phone is the friend of a friend of a friend.

We don’t know each other and she is already crying.

Here’s the story: She’s 45. Remarried after being divorced and alone for many years. She has an older daughter from her first marriage and a poopoopoo young son with her wonderful and very religious new husband who learns half a day in yeshiva.

They’ve been trying IVF unsuccessfully, they are considering a donor egg, IUI, etc, and they are very frustrated.

They really, really want another child.

The Rabbi said no.

The Rabbi said no?

It’s not the right time, said the Rabbi. Not for you all those treatments. Not now.

Fuck the Rabbi, I say.

Did you ask him his opoinion when you got divorced? Had your first child? Had your second?

She laughs softly, No.

Her husband learns in one of those kind of yeshivas.

We’re not in that place, she says.

Not in that place not to ask, she means.

I remember my urge to talk to my shul Rabbi when I got divorced. But he had been to my house many times with his family, and us to his. He’d been out with my then soon-to-be new husband and me for drinks. And talks.

Although he was Orthodox, he was enlightened and he knew that his fiats could really affect people. He counseled, he didn’t coerce.

He also knew that a breezily given yes or no isn’t helpful. It’s cruel.

I ask the woman if there was another Rabbi she could ask. You know, one that comes more from her side of the family.

She says yes, that she actually already has an appointment to see another Rabbi in the new year. With my husband, she adds, gently.

I am cheered.

That rabbi also said not now, but that was 5 years ago.

I am floored.

It was too bad, she goes on, too matter of factly. Then, when I was 40, it would have been easier. That’s what the doctors say.

That’s what the doctors say because it is TRUE.

I’ve been through IVF. I saw those charts where my age was at the very bottom next to 3% chance.

I had a lot of help—a lot—and poopoopoo my beautiful twins are 21 months today.

I went to the doctor first. My Rabbi friends gave me blessings on the way.

I bite back the urge to rail against the arbitrariness of it. The misogyny of it. That this kind of orthodoxy has become a cage, a club, and a wasteful way to live. That she isn’t the first woman, or even the second or third who I’ve heard come up against a Holyman who doesn’t have the courage to say yes. Show me one orthodox Rabbi these days who says yes!

But here she is, on the phone with me, still crying, but less so.

I carefully spell out my doctor’s name and give the number.

True she asked the Rabbi. But she also called me.

There is a chance.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Last night we celebrated a once-in-two-lifetimes event—a 50th Wedding Anniversary.
My Mom and Dad’s.
It was glorious—becovidike--honorable, fun and full of warmth. They had gathered the people who meant the world to them—and everybody they invited came—and so so happily: from
Israel, Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey.
The last was us. My big boys in sleek black trou and glossy button-downs.
Our baby twins: he in a black velvet vest and she, refulgent, in a black velvet dress with satin roses—and RED SPARKLY SHOES!
(My first girl!)
French bread, Cabernet, beet salad, steak, fries, chocolate mousse cake--oh yeah.
Three other couples there—old friends of my parents, had also hit this milestone. I wondered if they had gotten married 20 or so years ago like I did, instead of 50 years ago, if they would still be together.
Betcha at least one of them wouldn’t.
There’s an old Jewish joke that starts with a guy waking up on the morning of his 50th wedding anniversary—and he is crying hysterically.
His wife wants to know what’s the matter. He says: That very first night—oy--I wanted to kill you—but my best friend told me I’d get fifty years.
He sobs. “I’d be a free man today!”
My Mother had her role—housewife, Mommy, pretty and accommodating hostess. Daddy was the breadwinner, the intellectual, the instigator of community contact. Mommy couldn’t really have a career—it would interfere with Daddy’s vacations.
We three girls were groomed to model ourselves after Daddy now, growing up-- and Mommy, after we got married.
Of course it didn’t work out that way.
But watching them both, last night, speaking lovingly into the mic that we schlepped up two flights to the party room of the glatt kosher steakhouse—
I realized that there is something to the acceptance of one’s place on the gameboard.
That when you have a happy marriage, the world looks different.
That Daddy really thinks that Mommy is the most beautiful woman in the world, and even though he sees every Scarlett Johanssen movie, he still thinks so, and it’s really nice for Mommy.
That they are really great people who moved with the times to accept our new relationships because they value happiness and are not jealous with it.
That when you live with someone for fifty years and that person gets a kidney removal operation you sleep on the chair by his bed in the hospital and neither of you would have it any other way because you are always together.
That your friends are just your friends—not His friends or Her friends-- because at some level you are really one person, one unit.
That you are fused.
And I realized that it might take 50 years which is an awfully long time and there
are no guarantees in life but my parents have something which makes 50 years
and all the risk worth it.
Mazel Tov, Mom and Dad.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eight Crazy Nights

1st Candle: We play for our absolute favorite senior citizens home EVER—we are regulars there, but there must have been some new residents.

I play my violin and sing my little Yiddish heart out. After the show an older lady comes up to complain to Sruli. He shleps me over. Lisa—this lady said you didn’t sing any Yiddish songs. Why don’t you sing a Yiddish song especially for her? She looks at us. “I don’t like Yiddish songs.” We stop. How about a Hebrew song? So I sing BaShana Haba’ah right there, just for her. “BaShana Haba’ah? Next year?” she says. “I need luck THIS year!”

A few minutes later an older man came over to complain that I didn’t play the violin.

2nd Candle: Two concerts— one at City College and one at yet another senior residence—yay! only encomium and eydlekeit.

Afterwards I crisscross the GWB twice in one horrifically trafficky hour to pick up babies and make it back to Family Chanukah party. Meantime

Sruli has a supervised (yes) visit with 16 year old daughter who tells him:

“she steals you from me, doesn’t let me speak to you for over four years even on the phone, lies to the judge, threatens me daily, fights with me physically, and now my mother gives me a new laptop for Chanukah and tells me I should love her.” The supervisor gives them an extra 10 minutes and they light Chanukah candles in the car-- together for the first time in 5 years.

3rd Candle: We play for the fanciest elementary school—Hogwarts in Long Island. My big boys come home for the night (Oy I am dreying from delight) and together we light-- as 20 month old Charlie Re say-- the “Chammika Candles.”

4th Candle: We play for an old shul with a new Rabbi and brand-new Cantor—5 blocks from where I grew up. It’s now a chulent of ethnicities, ages, and everything else—tough to make EVERYONE happy—but I must admit we rock the house. At the very end we sit on the in the middle of the dance floor with the remaining 10 kids skooched around us and play accordion and violin and sing. It was Sruli’s idea and it was magical.

5th Candle: We perform the service for a church in Englewood. Verrrrrrrrry loooooooong and sloooooooow Hasidic nigunim. You could hear a pin drop—just like back at the Young Israel of Scarsdale. Haha.

And I get to hear the word “chalice.”

6th Candle: We have sequential dentist’s appointments. My one and only filling (from when I was 12! Impressed?) is replaced with fancy white stuff. Afterwards, I go to the gym, drooling from one side of my numb mouth. Can’t eat, good for the diet.

7th Candle: My favorite: We play for a fancy synagogue in Queens—big Chanukah party. After the concert a woman comes up to me: “Oh! You were soooooooooo wonderful! But—there’s no toilet paper in the ladies room.” I tell her I will see what I can do.

8th Candle: We play our traditional Chanukah Concert for a senior residence in Westchester. Our big band includes “my son, the Baritone Sax player” poopoopoo, and his adorable friend the drummer. Zachary does a jazz version of Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn that leaves me crying with admiration and love. The residents eat him up. Seeing the juxtaposition of my physical future (decrepit and wheelchair bound) and my real future-- my strong and handsome and talented son (poopoopoo again) leaves me crying again—a Life is Beautiful moment that only a parent can have. I plow through my recently adopted atheism and thank God.

The last day of Chanukah we play for yet another senior residence and manage to make many people happy. I am truly happy—and not only because I have 2 days off before our next concert. That night in a lame-o attempt at girlish cuteness I up-end myself onto the sofa where Sruli is splayed—we had been flirting—and despite a week of latkes and fried everything and only one gym—the sofa stays totally put.

Now THAT’S a Chanukah miracle.