Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Goals for 2014

1.  Take SJG A-Hole Alert global.
2.   Repeat 8th Grade Math.
3.   Relocate Happy Place.
4.   Paint myself out of a corner.
5.   Organize International Oy Vey Day.
6.   Improve miniature golf game.
7.   Recreate my birth in an Oldsmobile.
9.   Raise funds for "Gelfite:  A Passover Musical."
10. Self-publish "SJG: Irritable Bitch Syndrome."
Tell us something we don't know.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Gulping Gargoyles!

Uncanny!  Daniel Radcliffe and Allen Ginsberg 
The eldest son went into momentary shock last night.  As usual, the SJG had to come to his rescue with a cookie and a reassuring hug.  "It'll be okay, honey. It's just a movie." I did my best to warn him about "Kill Your Darlings." I offered a riveting lecture on the Beat Poets, a topic I know very little about, but managed to wing it, anyway. I put on my best beret, spouted poetry and snapped my fingers. Trust me, I was the epitome of cool, as I regaled him and the other two in the room, the youngest son, the hubby, about the time I interviewed Allen Ginsberg when I was a reporter on the Daily Bruin. Had I interviewed John Wooden, I think they wouldn't have dozed off. "Start the movie, Ma," someone hogging the sofa commanded. And so, after we accepted all the legalese and promised not to commit piracy, "Kill Your Darlings" began. A quick recap: Ginsie gets into Columbia, meets some iconoclastic dudes who dig Yeats, drugs, alcohol and ciggies. Allen Ginsberg goes from Nice Jewish Momma's Boy (nothing wrong with that) to Oy Vey, He's Breaking Into the Library. If that's not criminal behavior, what is?  Murder.  But that takes place later.  Not that murder rattles the eldest. He's been shooting at people since he first got hooked on violent video games like "Counterstrike" in the Early Aughts. (I know, I've done a wonderful job. Thank you for noticing.)  So, no, murder wasn't the issue.  Half-way through "Kill Your Darling," Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg locks lips with an alluring people-user named Lucien Carr.  At the moment they kiss, the eldest, an open-minded individual, took a sudden detour into, "Oh, no, he didn't," and cried out, "Harry Potter!  No!" I would've sent him to his room, but he doesn't live here anymore, a fact I'm still trying to reverse.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Raise Your Hands

If you're ready to bid adieu,
fare-thee-well, sayonara.
If you're ready to file it,
shelve it, toss it away.
If the low points, the high points,
the points in between,
Signal you're done with
Two-thousand-thirteen.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's So Involved Being Me

"Vengeance is mine," said a certain dog, after swiping my iPhone and posting this less-than-fetching photo of the SJG.  "You think the double cone of shame was my personal low point of 2013?  Well, check this out, bitch. I think we're even.  You, madam, have looked better."  Ouch. I hate when I'm outdone by Dusty.  But then, I did train him to stand up for himself.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Personal Low Point

What did I do to deserve this?
"The double cone of shame. A personal low point in 2013. From a fashion standpoint, I'd have to say it's a misstep. Definitely a 'what was I thinking?' moment.  A reminder that sometimes, decisions are made on my behalf without my paw print of approval.  In hindsight, I believe someone, no names mentioned, she knows who she is, went a little too far to stop me from licking myself.  Hello!  I'm a dog.  It's what I do. Okay, fine. Maybe I go too far sometimes, maybe I stir up a little trouble for myself.  But there must be a better way to enforce licking cessation. A helpful hint never hurt anyone.  A nice bribe.  But this?  This is all kinds of wrong.  Maybe someone, she knows who she is, should wear the double cone of shame for a day and get back to me. Maybe someone, she knows who she is, will feel ashamed times two for what she put me through, and get rid of this twin torture device. In any event, this is not how I wish to be remembered."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Timing Is Everyting

"Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard." Who knows who said it first.  Many have taken credit.  All I know is, Peter O'Toole said it in, "My Favorite Year." And yet, sometimes the reverse is true. "Comedy is easy. Dying is hard." So it goes in a condo on the Westside, every day a rewrite of the day before, another stage described in the hospice pamphlet.  The comedy writer was ready to go.  His bags were packed, his flight on time. He said his goodbyes, promised to keep in touch somehow. An occasional guest appearance, nothing too spooky, of course.  We lean toward panic. A flickering light. A fallen photograph. Maybe something a bit more dramatic. After all, he has a lot to live up to, in that regard. My mom let her presence be known during the eldest's bar mitzvah. As we said kaddish for her, we had an earthquake at the precise moment we said her name. That's a tough act to follow. And yet, for reasons that remain mysterious, just like life itself, the departure date keeps changing. Thank God for that, or whoever's up there, pulling the strings. As they say in comedy, timing is everything.  It's not his time. Not quite yet.  He's on standby. Settling in, resting up in his new comfy mechanical bed, one the few things he can still control.   "Sorry I'm such a dud," he said yesterday, fighting to keep his eyes open.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, Daddy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

When I Worked With Ralphie

Did I ever tell you about the time I worked with Ralphie?  Well, I did.  It was years after Peter Billingsley starred in "A Christmas Story," now playing on a continuous loop on TBS.  In the mid-90s, I wrote a CBS Schoolbreak Special called "The Writing On The Wall."  The once and always Ralphie was in his 20s, a real mensch, a total pro -- portraying one of three Swastika-loving teenage idiots who defaced a synagogue and rabbi's home, on the eve of Halloween. Based on a true story, no less.  What?  You think I make this stuff up?  The once and always Ralphie was so convincing as a punk who deserved to rot in hell, but changed his beliefs, courtesy of the very patient rabbi, that he got nominated for a daytime Emmy. Did he win?  Not so much. Hal Linden, who played the rabbi, won instead. Still, it was a kvell-worthy event. I'll always treasure my time with Peter Billingsley, the once and always Ralphie, who went on to produce and direct and turned "A Christmas Story" into a Broadway musical.  Merry Xmas, Ralphie.  Merry Xmas to you all.  Maybe I'll watch "A Christmas Story" again.  Then again, maybe not.  I've got a copy of "Her" waiting for me.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hi, Santa, It's Me, The SJG

Gee, Santa, that hurts my feelings.
Dear Santa,
Hi, it's me, the SJG. I'm living in Sherman Oaks now. When we first met, I had a Beverly Hills zip code. Those were the days, eh, Santa? I was living the good life up there at the tippy top of Beverly Drive, communing with the lizards and a bunch of shrubbery and trees that made me sneeze my little tush off. I think I asked you for a Barbie Dream House, not an endless supply of Kleenex. But listen, Santa, it's okay. Everyone makes mistakes. I am not bitter. Well, maybe a little. But enough about me, Santa. Do me a favor, would ya? Travel safely around the globe. I worry about you, Santa, schlepping around in that open sleigh, with only some red-nosed reindeer to guide you.  That sounds pretty dicey to me, big guy.  It must get chilly up there, too. Make sure you bring a sweater, and maybe some Advil. God forbid you get a headache or altitude sickness. I know, most people write to you and ask for something. But I gave up after someone in my house mentioned we were Jewish, and told me to stop writing to you. That was a buzz kill, Santa. I'm still not over it.  In fact, I've changed my mind. I would like to ask you for something, if it's not too much trouble. I'd like a gift certificate. Westfield. Visa. American Express. At this point, I'm not that picky. The amount is up to you, of course. $75 dollars worth of calm would be terrific, but I'll settle for $50.
xo The SJG

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Fulfillment Center

Dear Short Jewish Gal,
Thank you for entrusting your credit card information to West Elm. Unlike the schmucks at Target, we at West Elm are protecting you, in case, God forbid, some bad person should decide to hack into our system, go on a spending spree and bankrupt you.  West Elm is there for you. Please remember that, because, let's face it, you're not going to like this latest update. While the news isn't great, it isn't so terrible, either, when you put things into perspective. Here's the dealio.  The fancy-schmancy overpriced Moroccan headboard you have your fragile little heart set on is still in a State of Becoming. At some point, we're not exactly sure when, for we can't predict the future, but then, who can, the desired merchandise you're convinced will bring your bedroom together, decoratively-speaking, will arrive in our Fulfillment Center. When that happens, and just between us, you shouldn't hold your breathe, we will contact you, telepathically, and arrange for delivery.

We hear you're a very impatient person, under the best of circumstances, and hope you'll take enough Xanax and what other medicinal aids you need, to get through this difficult waiting period. We suggest you take time to reflect on the headboard, visualize its arrival, and God willing, it will materialize on your doorstop and all you'll have to do is assemble it.  We hear your hubby is a pro at such endeavors, with the exception of that desk he tried to put together years ago.  That's what happens when you buy from Staples.  Listen, failure is all part of the journey, but then, you're familiar with that concept already. You work in television.

Happy Holidays from your friends at West Elm. Wishing you fulfillment, or a close approximation. And please, don't call up and yell at us.  We have feelings, too, ya know.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

That Would Be Nice

He doesn't know where he's going, but he's ready to go.  He went back and forth about it, he really wasn't sure, as if he had any control over it. His whole life, he's needed to be in control of everything.  A man who can control the weather should be able to control when he goes. "When will it happen?  Why am I still here?" he says daily.  Hourly. "Your room isn't ready," we say. "It better be a nice room or boy, will they hear about it." He's ready now. Ready to go.  Ready to go wherever you go.  If you go anywhere.  He doesn't really believe it, anyway.  The old Brooklyn agnostic.  "I never bought into any of the B.S.," he says. "That B movie stuff."

But lately.  Lately, he's been thinking it over.  Reconsidering the beginning, middle and end. Wondering what if?  What if there's really a place we go? "That would be great, Daddy," we say.  A lot.  "What do you think it's like?" he asks. "What do you want it to be like?" "I don't know.  Just a nice place where you meet up with old friends." "That would be wonderful, Daddy. Who would you like to see?" "I'd want to see Mom.  My sweetheart. What a great gal. What a nice lady. I'd really like to see Mom." "I bet she's waiting for you, Daddy.  Maybe you need to change clothes, just in case."  "She always looked nice."  "Always."  "Maybe I should put on a nice sweater."  "Something from Dick Carroll's."  "Great store." "Who else would you like to see, Daddy?" "My mom and dad.  Such nice people. Wouldn't that be great if I got to see them again?"  "It would be wonderful.  If you do, tell them we say hello. Tell Mom, too."  "I will." "Anyone else you'd like to see?" "Abe Lincoln."  "Abe Lincoln?"  "Yeah.  I'd love to talk to Abe Lincoln.  Just go up to him and say, 'Hey, Abe.  It's Ben.' Wouldn't that be nice?" "That would be very nice, Daddy."  "Not that any of it's true.  But what if it is?"  "I hope it is, Daddy."  "That would be nice."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Starr Family Folklore

Starr Family Folklore, from my brother John, confirmed by my dad:  "My memory may be faulty, but before you were born Mom bought a Christmas Tree once and only once. I think Peter was 4 and I was 1. Grandpa saw it and refused to come in the house. I believe Dad had to literally drag the 'Hanukkah Bush' outside to the trash." 

The only shanda here is that John didn't embellish this story more, and that I wasn't alive to see this incident as it unfolded in our first house, high atop the little town of Beverly Hills.  The young and impressible SJG would've loved a Giving Tree that gave more than apples and branches.  An old and wise SJG is a harsh judge of such blatant commercialism.  Even so, how fun would it be to find a pretty tanenbaum all lit up in my living room!  That's right, I said it. 

When we moved to Westwood, plenty temple-going families on the block went through a brief Xmas tree phase in the early '70s, not that they'd admit it now.  Maybe they were being ironic?  John and I got swept up in the mania, and fashioned a Hanukkah Bush out of a ficus tree, hanging handmade foil decorations on every leaf.  Every day, we checked for gifts, but the bush brought forth bupkis.  So we returned to our beloved annual ritual -- checking every closet and drawer in the house till we found where Mom had hidden our presents.  If there's a tradition lovelier than that, let's hear it. (12-20-10)

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Thought That Covered It

My kind of party.  If only they'd invite me.
The SJG doesn't get invited to many Christmas parties anymore.  Year after year, I have no one to RSVP to, except myself.  I can't help but wonder where I went wrong.  Was it the time I organized the rousing hora around the tree?  I did yell "Timber" before it fell to the ground, followed by, "Clean up on aisle three." I thought that covered it.  Was it the time I dressed up like a naughty elf and recited my youngest son's Haftorah portion?  It got a standing O at his Bar Mitzvah.  I thought that covered it.  Was it the time I solicited all party-goers to give generously to the cult of the SJG?  I only asked for small donations, under a thousand dollars.  I thought that covered it.  And yet, I have a stack of citations for misbehavior and no filing system big enough to hold them.  Apparently, I've made a few strategic errors here and there, an innocent social faux pas now and then. I could use some clarity, and so, I turn to you, my peeps, for guidance.  Any thoughts on how the SJG might get back into the Xmas party scene?  'Tis the season, doncha know.  Feel free to share your ideas.  It's been so long since I've downed an entire punch bowl of eggnog.  I really miss the buzz. (12-12-10)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Attention Jews and Non-Jews

Searching for a parking spot during the holidays is like trying to find a Jew in a Christmas movie.  You may have to go out of your way to locate one, but when you do, you'll dance the hora.
Are you really sorry? 
After an exhaustive Internet search that lasted two long minutes, all I could find, in terms of  Christmas-Themed Major Motion Pictures, was this:
Yes, I know.  I'm kvelling, too. "A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas" offers not one, but two nice Jewish stoner neighbors, named Andy Rosenberg and Seth Goldstein, one of whom owns of a bong shaped like a shofar.  Somewhere, in another movie, his mother is sitting shiva.
Thoughtful.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Be Cool

"Major celebrity sighting," I whispered to the eldest.  He lit up like a Hanukkah bush and started scanning the restaurant.  "Where?" "If I tell you, you have to maintain. You can't make a spectacle of yourself.""I'll behave." "It's someone you're obsessed with... someone you idolize." "Just tell me."  "Look over at the next table.  Be cool.  It's.... Vanna White." "@#$%!" he said.  "It's Vanna."  Hubby and the birthday son, who just turned 22, although I refuse to accept this, and prefer to say he just turned 12, had their backs to Vanna. "What's going on?" hubby asked. The birthday son was too busy texting to care. "Here's a hint:  I'd like to solve the puzzle. "  Hubby smiled.  "Is it him or --"  "It's her," the eldest said, dreamily. By now you may be wondering why he's so ga-ga over Vanna. Or maybe you don't give a rat's patootie.  Seriously?  What kind of person are you? Whether you're invested in this key moment in our lives, or not, I refer you to a previous blog I wrote:

The big news in the SJG house yesterday? Nothing to do with politics or sports or even the fact Demi Moore is right down the street at Sherman Oaks Hospital.  No, the big news:  "Wheel of Fortune's" Pat Sajak revealed that he and Vanna used to get hammered at a Mexican restaurant during two and a half-hour breaks while prizes were loaded onto the set in Burbank. "Vanna and I would go across the street and have two or three or six (margaritas), and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet," Sajak said in an interview.  We are obsessed with this story, not just because it's an OMG of over-sharing and why are you telling the world this now and did you clear it with Vanna first.  We are obsessed because, in the eyes of the first born, Pat Sajak's margarita admission proves, once and for all, that... well, there's no way to phrase this delicately, so I'm just going to put it out there... Pat and Vanna have done it.  Yesterday was the eldest's  huge "I told you so" moment.  He even called his father at work to share his glee:  "Did you hear about Pat and Vanna!  They used to black out together.  This is basically a guarantee that they used to @#$%."  Hubby remains neutral on the matter.  This morning, I tried to clarify a few things with our son.  "Just because they got drunk doesn't mean they did it," I argued.  "Do I have to spell it out for you, Mother?" "I'd like to buy a vowel." "I'll give you a U." (1-27-12)

Can you blame him for being excited?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh, Deer

"Sherman Oaks is that way." 
Dear SJG,
I have a friend who has money coming out of her tush.  As far as I know, it's not a medical condition.   Every Christmas, she gives me an insanely expensive gift. Last year, she gave me a deer named Rudolph. For 365 days, Rudolph has followed me around, destroyed furniture, and eaten all the good bagels.  Sure, he's cute, with his red nose and spunky demeanor, but it's enough already. I've had it with him. Plus, he doesn't get along well with my dog. Will I rot in hell if I send Rudolph packing?
Sincerely,
Done with the Deer

Dear Done,
Don't look a gift deer in the mouth.
You're welcome,
The SJG

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oh, Sunday, Seriously

"We'll always have Sunday."
"That's not the way we rehearsed it."
If there's a greater day of the week than Sunday, the SJG would gladly sing its praises.  But there's no day as great as Sunday.  I'm not all that ga-ga over Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but I get through them just fine.  I like Thursday.  I like-like Friday.  I have an intense crush on Saturday.  But Sunday?  I blush just thinking about the way Sunday makes me feel.  I'm deeply, madly, hopelessly in love with Sunday.  This isn't  a recent development, I might add.  I've had a thing for Sunday since I was an even shorter SJG.  Childhood Sundays meant fresh bagels for breakfast and visits with my grandparents.  Every Sunday, without fail, ding-dong, there they were, the Russians:  my very tall grandpa and my very short grandma.  We gathered in the den, ate pretzels, sipped soda and spent an hour or so just talking, laughing, playing checkers and Gin Rummy.  Sometimes we listened to "You Don't Have To Be Jewish" or Nichols and May or Allan Sherman.  Sometimes, Steve and Eydie.  Sometimes my grandparents told stories about their early days in America, when they spoke zero English.  Every visit, my grandma said this, as she rose off the "fofa," her nickname for sofa:  "Give me a push, lover."  My grandpa would give her a gentle shove and send her on the way to the powder room by the front door.  When it was time to leave, I'd hide in my grandpa's coat.  "Where's Carol?"  "Has anyone seen Carol?"  And then I'd emerge from his coat.  "Oh, there she is."  Sundays in the home of the SJG still involve bagels and visits with grandparents.  Today we'll go see Grandpa Benjy and try to cheer him up.  I'm hoping one look at his grandsons will prove medicinal.  Mostly, though, Sunday it's just us, taking it easy.  Late afternoon, I take a detour to dance class, then I'm back for dinner and TV with my favorite boychicks.  Oh, Sunday, seriously, I love you so.  Don't ever change.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Disappointment of Another

The SJG never likes to let down a fellow human.  Ever.  Letting down a fellow human rests heavy on my soul. Let's just say the supreme disappointment of another is my least favorite activity. I operate on guilt and caffeine.  When there's an overload of either or both, I need to drop what I'm doing, eat a nice bagel and regroup.  Good thing the let down happened in a deli for this non-televised event.  "My finger is bleeding," my friend Jim announced, before I'd even sat down. "Don't panic, I have Life Alert on speed dial."  "I don't need Life Alert," he said, "I need a band aid." "How did you injure yourself, and is it my fault?" Guilt.  My go-to emotion at all times. "I cut it on something in the car," Jim said.  "An automotive injury," I said. "Will it require a blood transfusion?" "No, just a band aid.  If anyone has a band aid, it's you."  Well, now the pressure was on.  I searched through my hand bag for a band aid, knowing in my gut that I was on the verge of devastating my close personal friend, a self-described devastatingly handsome individual, a mensch responsible for my recent career bump into the Land of the Shockingly Employed. "I've got mints and gum," I said, to buy time. "Dental floss and a nail file.  Advil, Xanax, Ativan.  I can't tell which is which, they've all melted together." "Are you telling me you don't have a band aid in there?" Jim asked, every word bathed in distress. "I'm sorry. Can you ever forgive me?"  Jim looked at his wounded finger and smiled. "It's clotted.  Never mind."  Clotted or not, I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home, bought an assortment of multi-colored first aid items, and dumped them all in my hand bag.  Next time something awful happens in my presence, I'll be ready. As if I weren't already.

Friday, December 13, 2013

This Is Courtship?

"Why didn't you answer my text?"
It's not often that the SJG is called upon to give relationship advice to the sons I lovingly birthed, in between crying out for drugs, but now and then, one of them will ask me for guidance. The challenge:  how to advise without sounding like I'm from the last century.  Oh, wait.  I am from the last century. The eldest is currently on a quest to meet someone special courtesy of a cut-to-the-chase "app." You check out each other's photo, and if you're both semi-intrigued, you fast-forward to texting. You text for awhile, and then maybe you work up the nerve to meet. This is courtship? The other day, the eldest expressed his frustration. The texting thing was going on too long.  He wanted to meet her already, but she was hesitant.  She'd been "burned before." Who hasn't?  I could tell his patience was running out and offered up this pearl of wisdom: "Why don't you call her, honey?" "What do you mean?" "I mean call her on the phone. Stop with the texting and call her. You know, actually talk to her."  "What's the point?" "Well, in my day, there was nothing more fun than waiting for a boy to call you.""I don't need to talk to her, I need to see her." "Okay, sweetie.  I just thought it was worth mentioning." "I'll give her a few more days, then I'm moving on." "That's another way to go."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Important To Look Lovely

Between being a caregiver-referree, a Life Alert call-reciever, a nighttime Xanax-taker, and an award-winning worrier, the SJG doesn't have much time for an elaborate beauty regimen, so what she does has to count for something. We sat down with the oft-exhausted blogger and miraculously-employed TV movie writer to discuss her daily routine, if you can call it that, which, just between us, is being generous.

"Well, my philosophy is really quite simple. It's important to look lovely, no matter the occasion. Even as recently as Saturday morning, around 4 a.m., I put on a little lipstick, a dab of concealer, a bucket of foundation, and a schmear of blush, before jumping in my car to get to Cedars. Why scare the nice people in the ER?  They deal with enough trauma already. I don't want to add to it by showing up looking like ka-ka. After all, the doctors and nurses are the ones who've been up all night. Until about 3:30 a.m., I was fast asleep."

Whether she's rushing to the emergency room, or heading out for an Important Hollywood Meeting, the SJG likes to wash her punim in imported water from the Dead Sea.  "I won't lie, it stings a little, but boy does it exfoliate like a mutha-eff'r. Once the top layer of my skin peels off, and the paramedics leave, I put on some nice moisturizer. They vary, depending on how many free samples I can get out of the Sephora gals.  Next I do a refrigerator-based eye cream and lip balm --  I find I Can't Believe It's Not Butter works wonders.  For makeup, I try to use anything that's not been sitting in the drawer more than five years.  If the tube has developed crust, it's not good.  Then I blush and bronze, I microwave and blend, and I'm good to go."

The SJG offered us a final beauty tip before hurrying off to the pharmacy to stare at elderly-inspired products she never thought she'd be buying, but what can she do, these challenging life moments tend to show up like an unwanted visitor from the Planet Poop. "Go to bed early, wake up looking the same, but maybe if you're lucky a little bit rested, which couldn't hurt."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Such An Honor

Oy, I'm humbled by all 
the attention.  Not really.
This just in:  The Short Jewish Gal of Sherman Oaks has been named Time magazine's Kvetcher of the Year for 2013.  Time's managing editor Shayna Maidela revealed the magazine's decision on NBC's "Today" Wednesday morning. The Short Jewish Gal, who gained world praise in 2013 for her extraordinary output of whiny, self-pitying complaints, ranging from major to minor, depending on the hour and number of calls from Life Alert, expressed surprise and delight when she got the news.  "I won't kid you, I'm happy. But tell me something, Time Magazine. Why did it take this long?  I've entered myself in this prestigious competition for 55 years in a row. Let's face it, if I had to win an award, 2013 was as good a time as any. Seriously, you have no idea what I've been through, what I've had to endure.  Most people would've crawled into a hole.  But not me.  I just stood there and took it. Oy, did I bitch like nobody's business. I turned kvetching into an art form. I internalized every injustice that came my way and let it fester. God only knows how many ulcers I'm developing as we speak.  I don't feel that great, by the way. My head hurts and frankly, I haven't slept well in some time.  I could use a nap and it's not even 9 a.m.  But listen, don't worry, I'll muddle through, I always do. Thanks for picking me, guys. I can't wait to wear my diamond tiara with pride. Wait, what is this? Cubic zirconia? Are you sh*tting me, Time Magazine?  Hello? Don't hang up, I'm talking here."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Organize This!

I'm trying, I'm trying.
Wanted:  Cerebral closet maven to re-organize the crowded mess that resides inside the SJG's delicate psyche.   Help isolate the turmoil.  Shift through the debris.  Separate the positive from the negative. Throw out the stuff that's lost its elastic. Donate the out-of-date thinking. Redistribute the worry.
Develop better filing system for guilt. Alphabetize angst.  Prioritize the past.  Re-direct tendency to dwell.  Salary negotiable.  Benefits include dental and mental.  Contact SJG immediately before her head explodes.
Don't bother me, I'm dwelling.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Well, That Explains It

The entertainment is here!
This morning's early morning call from my dad:
"Can you hear me?"
"Yes."
"Do I have to go anywhere today?"
"No."
"So I don't have to leave the house?"
"No, Daddy."
"Thank God."
"Are you okay?"
"Not really."
"What's wrong?"
"Everything is so eff'd up in this establishment."
"You can say that again."
"When are you coming?"
"In a few hours."
"Okay.  So I can just sit here and do what?"
"Relax."
"I don't have to do anything?"
"No."
"Thank God."
"Love you, Daddy."
"Love you."
An improvement over yesterday's early morning call about constipation.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gifted

I might as well confess.  So many years have gone by, I have nothing to be ashamed of, not really.  It was something I did, something I was good at.  Gifted, in fact.  Back in college, every Christmas break, I was a gift-wrapper for the goyim.  Not a sheet of Hanukkah wrap ever made it out the door.  I wrapped gifts in a tiny cubicle in the basement of a bookstore in Westwood, and it was hellish.  Why did I do it?  Why did I subject myself to such manual labor?  I wanted my job back.  In high school, I was a cashier at College Bookstore.  Other friends started waitressing or working in dress shops.  Not the SJG.  A spiller from way back, I knew, instinctively, that I would be the worst waitress ever.  I knew I would spill hot coffee, I would drop, I would break.  And working in a dress shop, which I did once, proved somewhat disastrous.  I was too honest with the customers.  "I wouldn't buy that, it's not flattering."

All I wanted to do was sell books, to soak up literature, to bath in the glory of words.  I'd only been there a few weeks when the owner came in and saw me at the register.  "How old are you?" he asked.  "I'm 16 and a half," I said, trying to sound mature.  The next day, I was fired for looking too young.  "The owner thought you looked about 14," they told me.  "We're so sorry."  I'm pretty sure it was illegal, but in 1974, I couldn't afford Gloria Allred.  So every Christmas, I'd audition to get my job back, to show how responsible I was, and it worked.  I always got hired back in the summer.  Hours of wrapping books during the holidays taught me a harsh lesson about people.  Sometimes, they're not so nice.  "I'm sorry, we can't wrap those for you," I told the a-hole standing there with a huge bag of toys. "Why not?"  "For starters, you didn't buy them here."  "So?"  "Store policy."  "Place is probably run by a bunch of cheap Jews," he said, storming off.  Gift wrapping brings out the anti-Semitic nasty in some folks.  Who knew?  Now I just gift wrap for fun, not profit.  I'm still good at it, too. Thanks to those hellish cubicle days at College Bookstore, the SJG  knows how to work the ribbon and the scotch tape, and most importantly, how to stick it to the putzes of the world.

(Reposted from a few years ago, due to SJG Exhaustion.  Send caffeine.)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

There's A Kind Of Hush...

... All over the canyon at 4:30 a.m.  I'm rolling along, sipping a thermos of coffee hubby has kindly prepared, to make sure I'm awake, and I'm thinking, well, if you have to get somewhere fast, better to do it at this time, when the smart people are sleeping.  So there I am, like I said, rolling along, not-so-merrily, 'cuz, let's face it, there's nothing merry about another outing to the ER to meet up with my daddy, and I'm sort of boasting to myself, practically bragging about how quickly I'm going to arrive at my destination, when about midway down Beverly Glen, I encounter a Dramatic Obstacle, in the form of barricades and police cars and flashing lights. And now, I must make yet another decision.  Sit and wait?  Stare blankly?  Take a quick nap?

To add to my personal discomfort, this barefoot hippy chick materializes, and looks at me, plaintively, as if to say, "It's the '60s, man, can you give me a ride?"  Well, mean SJG that I am, I give her a look back that says, "Uh, sorry, gal, unless you want to go to Cedars, you'll need to hitch another ride."

I do a nice U-turn, drive back up the hill and call hubby with the latest update.  "Now what?" "Benedict Canyon," he says.  Good call.  What a pretty street, I say to no one.  I haven't been on Benedict Canyon at 4:30 a.m. since... never.

I arrive at Cedars, the place my grandmother used to call "The Hotel," and greet my sweet, discombobulated father with a kiss, and wave hello to his evening caregiver, who just rode in an ambulance for the first time.  "Here I am again," my dad says.  "We need to stop meeting like this, Daddy."

The good news:  it was only a bloody nose, a bad one, but still, not life-threatening, as we seem to say a lot these days.  The bad news:  I manage to insult the nurse, unintentionally, of course.  Sometimes I just open my mouth and things happen.  As I sign the release form, I notice the date.  "Oh, it's December 7," I say.  And out it comes:  "A date which will live in infamy."  Only then do I notice the nurse is Japanese. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finders Keepers

Oh, delish.  Can you smell that?  The scent of buttery kugel wafting through the air?  We have a winner, my friends. A selfless person, a natural-born giver, a people-pleaser since birth, not to mention,  a fine humanitarian, took time out of a jam-packed day of pacing and hand-wringing, to locate the elusive, threadbare-yet-beloved, old nightgown that went missing. And for that heartfelt effort, a slice of kugel, maybe two, depending of this particular mensch's level of will power, which lately, has been teetering toward zero, goes out to the limelight-avoider in question, who wishes to remain anonymous.  Well, good luck with that, honey. This thing is so kvell-worthy, it's about to go public. Get ready to gloat, you good-deed-doer. Hold your applause. Here comes the kugel-recipient right now, ready to collect her prize.  Go on, gal, don't be shy. Say something.

"Wow... I'm so humbled, I'm not sure I can eat this whole kugel by myself, but I'll try. What's that?  I only get a slice? What sort of crap prize is this?  Hang on, you're filming this?  @#$%! Can I get a do-over?  Thanks. Take two... Wow, I'm so glad I was able to find my nightgown all on my own, without help from anyone, not even the unnamed family member who found me weeping in the corner, bereft over the loss of my cozy nightgown, and stepped over me on the way to the bathroom. Really? Is that how you want to roll? What sort of genetic group is this, anyway?  Doesn't anyone care about me? What about my needs, huh? Don't I matter, too?  Is it only about you, you, you? Oh, wait, sorry, can we start over?  This isn't coming out right. Take three... Wow, I'm so glad I took another look in my closet and found my nightgown.  I'm not sure how it wound up crumpled in a ball behind a handbag I haven't used since 2004.  Let's just say, I didn't put it there, okay? Obviously, some a-hole decided to eff with me and play tricks with my mental status, which is shaky at best on a good day, and... Oh, wait.  Let me give this another try.  Take four..."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have You Seen My Nightgown?

(Sherman Oaks) Investigators are looking into the disappearance of the SJG's favorite cozy nightgown, which apparently got up and left on its own, and hasn't been seen since. "It was there in my closet, and then it wasn't," the not-so-famous blogger told the police. A desperate, door-to-door search for the missing nightgown turned up bupkis. "Haven't I been through enough?" the SJG asked, rhetorically.  "Why am I being punished?" "Better you than me," one of cops said.  Over coffee and a nice coffee cake, the SJG described her beloved nightgown in mind-numbing detail: "It's gray and long, and flannel, but not so flannel that I wake up overheated in the middle of the night. The perfect length, too. I never trip on the bottom," she said, pausing to weep, uncontrollably. "My mother-in-law gave it to me some time in the '90s. Who knows where she bought it. She's a shopper. She buys things and puts them away for months at a time.  It could've come from Macy's, Bloomies or Ross Dress For Less.  There's no way of knowing.  She cuts the tags off. All I know is this.  It is... oh God... must I shift to past tense... was the best nightgown ever.  I want it back. Whoever took my nightgown, I'm begging you to return it. Just leave it at the door, or maybe pop it in the washing machine, it's probably dusty after you dragged it all over town. What kind of person takes a ratty old nightgown, anyway?" Anyone with information on the SJG's missing nightgown is urged to contact her immediately, if not sooner.  She promises you a freshly-baked kugel and a big hug.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caregiver Wars

"Caregiver Wars," a new reality series set in the high-stakes world of eldercare, aimed at rapidly-aging boomers making rapid, life-changing decisions, debuts tonight on SJG-TV. Witness a standoff between two testy caregivers engaged in a shoving match in the hallway of an exclusive Westside condominium complex. Who emerges as the victor? Who reaches the SJG on her cell phone first? Who gets fired on the spot? Call the toll-free 800 number at the bottom of the screen and render a decision. The SJG has no brain cells left. She needs your help negotiating schedules shifts, not to mention, a revolving door of characters with names she can't spell, let alone pronounce. How long before the SJG cracks? Two days? Two weeks?  It's anybody's guess. Get your votes in via text or carrier pigeon.  Set your DVRs.  Tell your friends.  Contact your attorney. This is the entertainment you've been waiting for, people.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rules To Live By

1.  Never take a first-row seat at a bris.
2.  If you can't say something nice, say it in Yiddish.
3.  One mitzvah can change the world; two will just make you tired.
4.  No meal is complete without leftovers.
5.  If you don't eat it, it will kill me.
Jewish Olympics
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Humor/Set1/set1.html

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Everything Is Beautiful

Matthew Bourne's "Sleeping Beauty"
... At the ballet.  Which is why John and I are hauling our tired tushes there today for a nice escape.  We need to put our keppies on pause and watch the pretty people perform "Sleeping Beauty" just for us. Fine.  There may be others in the audience.  But we know it's all about us.  A tough week calls for ballet -- modern ballet, to be exact -- even if neither of us is ballet-inclined.  Sure, we both love to dance.  John is all about dance -- he's a tapper, a disco God, born with rhythm in his veins. But ballet?  Not so much.  My first intro to dance as a little girl was ballet class.  My mom's mom, aka Grammy, was always saying, "Up on your toes!" to me, urging me to be a tiny ballerina.  So basically, I got guilted into it.  I gave it a shot... one that lasted maybe a month, maybe two.  My mom would wake me up early on a Saturday morning, and I'd give her the same look my kids used to give me when I woke them up early for anything. "Who are you, and what do you want?" My mom would hover over me, and whisper, "Wake up, you have a ballet class, honey." I was nine. I wanted to sleep.  I think I liked the idea of ballet much more than the actual learning part.  Ballet was too serious for the SJG. Too much pointing of toes and perfect posture and classical music I was already struggling to play on the piano.  What exactly was I aiming for?  Carnegie Hall?  That was going to take a lot of practice.  I didn't like to practice.  So, adios ballet class, and within a year, piano. Too solemn, too elegant for the likes of the SJG.  Hello Modern Dance, where you get to go barefoot.  Hello guitar and folk songs and Joni Mitchell.  Give me a head roll, give me some jazz hands, give me a couple chords and some, "Don't it always seem to go."  Still my comfort zone.  Still my happy place.  And yet, everything is beautiful at the ballet, including a couple angsty siblings.  Let the dancers stay up on their toes.  We'll just sit there and watch... and not make any life-changing decisions, at least for a little while.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

House Calls

"Daddy, guess what?
"What?"
"A doctor is coming over soon."
"A real doctor?"
"Yes."
"That's nice."
"Daddy, guess what his name is?"
"What?"
"You won't believe it."
"Try me."
"His name is Dr. Goy."
"Dr. Goy is coming to the house?"
"Yes."
"That's funny."

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Friendly Public Shaming

Nothing nicer than going to my cousin Andy's gorgeous home for Thanksgiving.  Delicious food, a lovely setting, and best of all, I don't have to do anything but show up and eat and of course, at some point, endure a brief public shaming.  If your relatives don't feel comfortable shaming you, mercilessly, and vice versa, it's time to find a new group. Just latch onto some random folks and see if you fit in or not. Bolt if no one is laughing.  Get out while you can, these people aren't going to bring you comfort and joy.  Oh, look, the SJG just made a Christmas reference.  Please forgive me, I'm still digesting my food and too tired to throw a driedel reference your way.

Speaking off dreidels, I didn't see any at Andy and Allison's house. What's wrong with them?  Frankly, I'm a little bereft. But they did light a nice menorah, which triggered my first brief public shaming.  On the phone with Andy Wednesday, he told me he was going to a First Night of Hanukkah party.  I actually questioned the logic of that. "Why? The first night isn't till Thursday." A heated argument between cousins followed, filled with ridicule and the lightening-fast arrival of fancy Internet links to prove the SJG was wrong and helpful suggestions to go back to schul for a refresher course.  "You can't make me," I said, and hung up, only to be shamed about my lack of Hanukkah chronology during the Second Night lighting ceremony.

My next public shaming, a lengthier one, I might add, came later, when a critical topic arose and the SJG was once again out of the loop.  "Hey gang, let's watch 'Glee,'" someone else I'm related to said.  "'Glee' is on?!  Oh eff, I didn't record it." Cue a spirited lecture, delivered simultaneously by Andy and Allison and their adorable, recently Bar Mitzvahed son Levi, about Season Passes and Apps and Hulu and iTunes and Apple TV and God only knows what else, I stopped listening. The essence of this group rant was that clearly, from a global media standpoint, I deserved a friendly flogging.  "Just... leave me alone!" I said, in self-defense, shoving more pie in my face to fill up the emptiness inside. A few hours after I waddled out the door, Andy tried to undue the shaming via text.  "'Glee' sucked." Nice try, Cuzzie.  Nice try.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Even Then

Even at Cedars, with a gash on his head after a stunt man fall,
Perfect for a bar room fight in an old western,
Not good in the hallway of his condo.
Even at 5 a.m., with the ER doctors and the orderlies
And the beeping of machines.
Even when he's in and out of it
And not sure what's what...
Even as the cute blonde nurse calls him pet names,
Like pumpkin and peach and sweetie pie.
Even when this latest turn of events
Lacks a punchline.
Even then, my 92-year-old dad is still funny.
"Are you comfortable?" the nurse asks,
Propping him up with a nice pillow.
"I make a living," he says.
Even then, he makes me laugh.
For that, and so much more, I'm grateful.
Exhausted, worried, angst-ridden,
And yet, still grateful.
It's one of those Thanksgivings.
We've had a few of them before.
A serving of bad news
Between dinner and dessert.
Even on days like this one,
Thanksgiving means Thanks Living.
So, what else can I say, but...
Happy Thanksgiving,
And Happy Hanukkah,
To you and yours.
Eat a latke.
Light a menorah,
And a turkey-shaped candle.
Save me a wishbone.
I'm looking for a miracle.
Praying my favorite altacocker
Lasts a lot longer
Than eight days.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Funny You Should Ask

Dear SJG,
How long do you plan to milk the whole Thanksgiving-Hanukkah coinky-dink?
Fondly,
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I plan to milk it for another two days.  Then I'm done for at least 75,000 years.  Promise.  In the meantime, I cordially invite you to shove a sweet potato latke up your butt.
You're welcome,
The SJG
Dear SJG,
I've been spritzing my Hanukkah bush religiously with Manischewitz, per your instructions, for an entire year, and it still hasn't sprouted gelt. What am I doing wrong?
Hugs,
Disappointed

Dear Disappointed,
Your first mistake was listening to me.
You're welcome,
The SJG
Dear SJG,
My friend told me if I bury a dreidel in the backyard, I'll wake up to find a giant Golden Menorah.  Should I try it?
Sincerely,
Susie Shamash

Dear Susie,
It couldn't hurt.
You're welcome,
The SJG
This cat scares me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

That's Just Silly

Oh, Turkey Day!  Oh, Turkey Day!
Don't act like a schnorr-ah
Scarf all the stuffing
Beg for some more-ah
Gather 'round the kitchen
We'll give you a knife
You carve the birdy, ignore your  ex-wife

And while we are fressing
The oven is burning low
Who made this pie, who started that fight?
To remind us that you need to go-oh-oh-oh!
Who made this pie, who started that fight?
To remind us that you need to go

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oh, Turkey, Turkey, Turkey

I have a 12-pound turkey
I brined you for eight days
And when you're moist and ready
I'll gobble you Thursday

Oh, turkey, turkey, turkey
I brined you for eight days
And when you're moist and ready
I'll gobble you Thursday
Impress your people with a festive Hanukkopia