Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 Calendars - Jewish-style

Since our tribe marks the passage of time on flimsy calendars provided for free by local Jewish mortuaries – and since those calendars start in September, we Jews miss out a ritual the rest of the Gregorian-loving world enjoys each year: Calendar shopping.

I found a few at my local bookstore that promised to teach me a new word each day.  A new word everyday! The only thing my Jewish calendar teaches me is what time the sun goes down on Fridays. That won’t do!

 As our people are never the intended audience for such ambitious collections, I felt it was incumbent upon myself to create a Jewish version of the word-a-day calendar. Of course, I’m lazy, so it’ll have to be a word-a-month calendar. Oh, and I made all these words up, so don’t, you know, use them in a job interview.

 Herein, your Jewish Word-A-Month Calendar for 2011:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Loved to Death

Sitting at my desk at my Jewish communal day job, I took a nice juicy bite of an apple. Too big a bite, my mother would say. A small bit of it evaded the search-and-smash mission of my teeth and headed down my windpipe.

Spastic coughing began, and, within seconds two well-meaning Jewish women raced toward my cubicle.

The first woman held water in one hand and held the other hand aloft, asking if I needed a good back-pounding.

The second woman insisted that what I needed was a chest-pounding. She also advised me to stand up.

No, insisted the first. Stay seated and accept the back-pounding.

On the contrary, said the first, being seated isn’t helping. If I can’t stand, then I should at least put my head between my knees (while still, somehow, getting blows to the chest).

While the two women debated the best way to prop me up and pummel me, the tiny bit of apple worked its way back up. I swallowed it, down the right pipe this time, thanked both women and smiled.

Like a modern-day Sir Isaac Newton, that apple gave me radical insight into forces greater than people had previously understood: Jews, I realized at that moment, are extremely annoying.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New York Remembered

I wrote this for a column that was published shortly after Sepember 11, 2001. With the anniversary coming up, I thought I'd re-publish it here.

She always smoked with the door closed, choking me in the jazz-club air of her tiny bedroom. Her mom bought cigarettes for her by the carton, so Julie wasn’t trying to keep telltale smoke in. She shut the door to prevent our secret escape plan from billowing out.

Two little girls of 17, bellies flopped down on Julie’s futon. Her stubby fingers tracing a map, plotting our trajectory from Southern California suburbs to Real Life. First, off to college – me in Chicago, her in Santa Cruz. Then New York. Manhattan. A giant, crowded city of possibilities. We’ll be roommates.

We have it all planned out. Inexplicable wealth. Amazing clothes. Successful careers in theater and journalism. Our favorite fantasy projects 10 years into the future, New Year’s Eve 2000, to be spent on the rooftop deck of our apartment overlooking Times Square. Me. Julie. A couple of bottles of champagne and a few men lucky enough to share our company. Manhattan glittering around us like a chorus line.

She drops the map, and I grab it to get a better look. It’s strange. Manhattan looks so small relative to anything in California. It’s not what I expected.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From Generation to Generation ... We Make Cock Jokes

I wrote this back in May for OC Jewish Life after reading A. O. Scott's Week in Review piece in the NYT. Totally meant to post it back then, but you know what slackers all us Gen-X types are. Anyway, enjoy...

I had no idea that I was in the midst of a midlife crisis until I read all about it in the New York Times. In fact, it hadn’t yet dawned on me that I was even in my midlife, but at 36, I guess the math kinda works out. And besides, when the media tells you you’re experiencing something – be it concussive xenophobia, a text-induced decline in interpersonal skills or an insatiable addiction to international adoption, you better believe you are experiencing it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Desk Job

Poor me.

That’s all I could think, as I watched Hubby and a man I had never met carry my desk out of my house and into the strange man’s car.

Poor me.

Sure, it had been my idea to sell one of our desks on Craigslist – along with an office chair, a bookcase and a sleeper sofa (still available - $300 OBO!).  But seeing my (great condition!) Crate & Barrel Drake Desk go made me pout involuntarily at the man who bought it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not Alone

The e-mail began, “My beautiful mom died yesterday.” 

The rest, all three lines of it, detailed the time, date and location of the memorial service that would be held for Lesley, a lovely woman who succumbed to congestive heart failure last month.

Lesley raised two successful, grounded daughters – one of whom was a close high school friend of mine. I was eager to be there for her.

Still, the memorial was at a church, and a little alarm went off in the back of my head as I drove through the familiar streets of my childhood to get there. It’s the same little warning that sounds whenever I’m invited to a church event. I am not Orthodox, but I do understand why some Orthodox Jews won’t enter churches: I so thoroughly and completely don’t belong in them.