Monday, December 31, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Say your kid is 17, and you get up, say at 3AM to say, get a drink and he’s not where he should be—say, in his bed, sleeping.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Sruli’s Father passed away a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t want a shiva. He felt bad asking everyone to come and sit with him, trying to make small talk, trying to make him feel less sad.
I told him that I would add a no-obligation clause to the emails I sent out. He was still not convinced and still resisted. Strongly.
Wisely, Ilana wanted a shiva, so a shiva we had.
It wasn’t the most orthodox of memorials but it was wonderful. Lots of friends came. Lots of congregants from his shul where he is the High Holiday Cantor and Substitute Rabbi. A few from his “old” neighborhood, complete with black hats, wives with sheitels, and mumble-y cadences.
There was lots of cake.
I think it was healing but what do I know? Sruli is an inscrutable guy. He has a lingering love/hate with organized religion yet is seriously spiritual.
You should hear his sermons. Especially the one about God, the people of Israel and the Sabbath Queen. I bet in the history of sermons no Rabbi has ever said “ménage a trois” from the pulpit.
Once he told how his friends used to pass the ridiculously long hours in shul by playing the Chumash Game. You opened the book at a random page and tallied up the special notations. A rare cantillation mark was worth a certain amount. A large upside down letter Nun was worth a fortune ‘cos there were only two in the whole Torah and they appeared around only one verse.
Apparently his little friend Eliezer had a photographic memory and was unbeatable at the the bonus round of the Chumash Game. That’s when you declared a number of pages you would count from the originally opened page—counted and turned to that new page-- and took those points too. The kid had memorized the entire 5 books of Moses as well as that particular publisher’s pagination. Unbeatable. As Sruli told this story his congregation was howling with laughter. Of course right in that week’s parsha were the upside down Nuns.
It’s hard to run from all the stuff that’s inside you. Religion for him was endless—interminable days at shul, constant rules governing food, time, clothing, association, and thought.
A ménage of obligation, restriction, and boredom.
So he has plucked what is precious to him about religion—the kinder philosophies, the happier practices, and of course the magical mystical nigunim, the music-- and shoved them into his life.
The other day I was pushing the 3-year-old twins on the swings, practicing the Ma Nishtana (we will see how they do tonight!) —and, as the commandment commands, recounting the story of Passover, complete with musical interludes: “No no no, I will not let them go!” By the time I got to “Frogs here, Frogs there, Frogs just jumping everywhere” I was afraid Sruli would be annoyed that I was filling their head with narishkeit—myths, silliness. Charlie Re was enthralled. Tell it AGAIN Mommy!!!
I got home and told him, gingerly, that the kids loved the story of Passover.
Oh, he said. You must have told it better than I did. They didn’t like it so much last week.
Oy, do I love him. I don’t understand him, but I love him.
Maybe this is my shiva. Rest in peace, kind, and wonderful, Yosef Dresdner, HaCohen. I will take care of your son.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Last week I actually went to a Bridal Shower—as a friend of the 22-year-old bride. She is technically my son’s friend, growing up in my house over the years during those long Shabbos afternoons, me the alt mom, getting the good stuff we never tell our real moms.
The party was very elegant, from the smoked salmon to the lemon-curd pie (which takes 3 painstaking hours to curd) to the jewelry on the mostly middle-aged ladies.
I sat on the floor while the bride opened her gifts—her super-frum aunt dutifully tearing the pretty wrappings into strips to make the “shower hat.” Each gift was murmured over approvingly by the ladies who were otherwise silent except when they kevetched about how difficult it was to capture the moment on their phone cameras: a crock pot, a pasta set, fancy knives, glass tumblers, another pasta set, a challah plate with a sterling silver inlay.
I got her a black, somewhat see-through, boudoir ensemble with matching thong panties from Betsey Johnson.
It was the only lingerie she got.
Back when it was my turn, I got TONS of that stuff. Granted this gathering had more Monsey and less Queens but geez. The men had been banned from the house for hours and this was billed as a girlsy afternoon.
Purim, yesterday, brought me back a couple thousand years. Esther, our beautiful heroine, was also preparing for her big night. And there was not one practical thing about it. It was 6 months in the oil of myrrh, and another 6 in perfumes and cosmetics. Beautiful linens and soft garments. Ok, so the Megillah says she didn’t indulge as much as the other harem girls, but there was no mention of crock pots, electric or clay.
It was all about sex. What happened?
I can’t even tell you how often people complain to me about their love lives. Both husbands and wives have confided over the many years about how the other was unskilled, unresponsive, or uninterested. How they lie there, unsatisfied, night after night. How embarrassed they were to even talk about it, how they didn’t even know how to talk about it, how, you know, everything else is great, but um, That.
I don’t care how much your husband likes your chulent; nothing is great if That’s not great.
I am no therapist but I have given, shall we say, tutorials, and I know all about being too busy and too worried and too stressed to make pleasing and pleasure a priority.
I also admit that I should be soaking myself in some figurative myrrh more often—in my case at the gym.
But That really matters to me. And besides, Purim is my absolutely favorite holiday.
So I want to tell the bride to be like Esther—make him so crazy from you that after one night he is forgetting about all the other girls, giving you a golden crown and up to half his kingdom.
Keep his royal scepter (ha!) pointing up.
Start from the bedroom, not the kitchen.
The bride’s mother winked at me afterwards. I knew I could count on you for that, she said.
Of course, I said. And I was not winking.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
We had been driving straight for eight hours—eight hours—all through the night, with a pathetic nap on the side of the road when we couldn’t keep our eyes lubricated—to get to Ilana’s KlezKamp friend in North Carolina so that his toddler brother could meet her toddler brother and sister.
It was our only stop on the way down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We were five minutes away from their house—five minutes.
And little Johnny went AAAH!-- and threw up all over his car seat.
And then—count to three—AAAH!—and little Charlie threw up all over her car seat.
I went AAAH!—and pulled over. I looked back at the two of them covered in puke, turned to Sruli, and busted out laughing.
So we spent the first day of our vacation at a local laundromat as I painstakingly stripped down the kids and Sruli painstakingly stripped down the car seats and everything cloth went around and around in the wash.
So the babies are sick. Ilana is sick. Sruli is sick. I am not sick, of course, but I am not eating anything (!) prophylactically.
Oh, and here in Myrtle Beach is the coldest it’s been in ten years.
Yet all in all, not too bad, because the hotel is beautiful, there are loads of palm trees, and we got a suite for insanely cheap (Sruli is a wonder at the internet), there is a ginormous indoor pool complex and the first night I floated down the Lazy River with Johnny on my belly.
Today we saw some pelicans on Murrells Inlet—just like in Nemo, Mommy!
And, on the way to the pelicans, Sruli stopped for not one—but two—bead shops while the babies watched Barney in the car. He sat right outside the parked car on a bench by the door of the shops, waiting for me, playin’ his bones.
Clickety clack clack clack.
The ladies in the shops were all tsihitst—what is that sound? Oh—they peeked through the shades—there seems to be a “gentleman” (they are so gosh-darn polite here in the south) doing something unusual right in front of our store.
Wait, said I blithely, bead shopping all the while, he will also take a solo on the sheep-dog whistle.
Sure enough: Wooo wooo wooo-eee, Clickety, clack, clack, clack.
The ladies stared at me. I found some lovely pink stone hearts to make Ilana earrings. Oh yes, I said, not looking up, I married him and had children with him. We are musicians, you know.
Tomorrow we plan to go to the Aquarium to see the sharks—just like Nemo, Mommy!—and then a major expense—Pirates Voyage which is like Medieval Times only with Pirates.
And meantime, city moms are calling to see if there’s any room left in our Presidents Week Mini-Camp next week. It all seems so far away—this Shabbos, Sruli is the Rabbi again, we have a freylikh Yiddish Dance Day at the JCC and a nice concert in Brooklyn on Sunday.
Yesterday on the lazy river, I decided I am finally going to do it— I’m going to St. Petersburg for my big birthday next year.
One makes momentous decisions when one is on vacation. Momentous decisions and mundane discoveries,
Like sometimes love smells like puke.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
The party we had planned for five and a half years, the planning of which had kept us going—and connected-- through the dark ages was, if I say so myself, a smash.
She was radiant in a (oy a shande!) short short black velvet dress with a very elegant beaded décolletage and high high heels. Her crown, her refulgent hair, curled and luxe.
People came from all over to share the poignancy—her KlezKanada homegirls and boys, school friends, as well as our friends, musicians, artists, professors, Yiddishists—and lawyers-- from Toronto and Boston and Syracuse and Philadelphia and DC.
Her friends spoke about how much they loved her. Aaron likened their siblinghood’s bond to a hydrogen atom or something that couldn’t be broken even by free radicals. Zachary composed a song, which he and Aaron performed.
And, in front of all her Ortho high-school peeps, who sat quietly listening for over an hour, grownup after grownup said she was their hero.
I spoke too, first about Sruli. About the hell and humiliation he went through and about how I wondered why—and how—as he watched every precious thing being taken from him, that he didn’t just jump off a bridge.
And how he was one of the lucky ones. Sruli’s friend from his law school days was there, too. This was the friend who took him in and let Sruli sleep on his couch for two weeks when the judge told him one fine afternoon that he had fifteen minutes to take his stuff from his house and get out. The friend had had the same judge. This friend, a successful tax attorney, looked out at the room. I haven’t seen my kids for six years, he said.
The Angels spoke. The musician angel whose voice broke as he talked about his own broken childhood. He had testified at the trial. The artist angel who provided the safe house on that fateful last night when her mother sent the police looking for her. The lawyer angel who brought her to court and whose passion and smarts are the only reason she is free today. I had to rescue the princess who was trapped in the tower, she said. Indeed.
And Sruli, the real Daddy from this fairy tale spoke and cried. I have never seen him like this and I hope I never will again. It was raw and ecstatic and naked and frightening. He thanked me—which I deserved, hey!—and held his daughter tight as he looked around the room at the village who helped raise his child from the dead.
Then a hora with an all-star band, really, and special sno-cone ices a la New Orleans, and then the DJ rockin’ the house. A party.
At the end of my speech I told everyone how for 6 years-- 5 lawyers, 4 judges, 3 police departments, 2 forensic psychiatrists, 2 court appointed supervisors and 1 multi-millionaire mother conspired to keep one little red-head girl’s life a nightmare until she turned 18.
I told everyone how, on that last night, she was barely one step ahead of the police and the court forensic whom her mother enlisted to forcibly commit her to a mental institution. An institution that would finally cure her of loving us.
I didn’t say how she might never have escaped that institution since the mother would have had complete control over her fate for the rest of her life (“Can you imagine what I had to do to my own daughter” she would say piteously, as her sedated and medicated daughter turned 18, and then 28, and then 38) and that’s what delusion and anger and immaturity and paranoia and a crazed sense of vengeance can do when it has millions to spend.
I told everyone that my fairy stepdaughter had run out without her shoes, her clothes, her stuff, her books, her papers.
She has no more trust fund. She has no money for college.
She has nothing. Except happiness, pride--and all of us.
And—for all of us—for our happily ever after--it is enough.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Two weeks into the New Year and already they’re telling me to give up. No way to lose weight. Gotta be superhuman to do it. My leptin is fighting with my ghrelin; my peptides and genetics are consigning me forever to shop in Women’s.
A pox be upon you. I am determined to be determined.
I once went to this diet guru who told me that she has to dress like a movie star every day. I guess it’s how she tells herself she’s worth it.
Growing up, my sense of worth came with mixed messages—as the daughter of a professor and scholar I felt it unseemly to focus on the superficial; it was embarrassing to be the kind of girl who “takes care of herself.” But I’m sure there was a bisl envy mixed with disdain for my glisteningly blonde friend who treated herself to manicures when she was only fourteen.
I discovered Neutrogena sesame body oil at a sleepover once—it felt amazing on my naked skin after a shower. But in the store I discovered that the bottle was like, 9 dollars and even later when I was making a fortune in advertising, I couldn’t fargin myself.
Of course, 3 pregnancies later and no body oil, guess who has stretch marks?
Meantime I’ve been getting up earlier and getting on the bike. I’ve been shlepping to yoga and risking all kinds of kooky injuries to mimic that tight-girl next to me. Who the hell can do the “Crane?” Jeez.
I consider myself an optimistic gal, though Sruli assures me that anyone who grabs the first possible parking spot like I do, rushes to get to a movie as early as I do, and bids as frantically high on Ebay as I do isn’t a half-fuller. Nevertheless I made him promise me that if I fit into a certain red dress (I know--me! Red!) by Valentine’s Day, he is going to take me someplace good. Overnight.
And I am trying to count my blessings: superficial—good hair, good skin, good teeth (poopoopoo) and the not so superficial—good health (poopoopoo) and to recognize that although age has brought a stubborn midsection, it has also granted a smiling patience. It has taken all of me a long, long time to get here.
I am going to try to be kinder to myself.
Neutrogena sesame body oil is $7.99 at Target. I am planning to spring for it.