Friday, January 31, 2014

Double D

De-clutter. De-tchotchke. These are the two D's that define my day, prompted by the most dreaded double D of all.  Dad's death. There's a condo to deal with now. A condo full of stuff, stuff and more stuff. And, oy gevalt, a storage bin, too.  How strange to be going through my dad's drawers.  I feel like a little kid snooping in places I shouldn't go.  To lessen the guilt, I talk to him the whole time.  "Oh, Daddy, look what I found.  Your wings.  So tarnished."  The things I find cool now must've lost their luster to him.  "What's with all the keys, Daddy?" Bags and bags of keys and tiny locks. "I'm tossing these," I announced. "They're history." And what about the calendars, the months-at-a-glance from 1994 - 2004. Appointments. Lunches at the Friars Club. Lunches at Factor's. Weekly lunches with Dan. Fun nights out with my mom. Dinner with Frank and Dorothy. Dinner with Arthur and Gwen. Dinner with Alfred and Paula. And then, after the spouses departed for parts unknown, dinner with Paula. Life captured in scribbles. Until he shifted it all to the computer. "Wait," he'd say, "let me check the calendar." "Sorry, Daddy, these are adios," I said, dumping the vinyl books in the shopping cart I borrowed from the garage.

After months of difficult decisions, I have more decisions to make. What to do with all his scripts?  Donate to the Writer's Guild?  Done. What to do with all the books?  Keep some.  Donate others.  What to do with his old tuxedo?  The wall of family photos?  The endless knick- knacks?  The art work, the furniture, the overwhelming everything? Well, there's a storage locker on Van Nuys waiting to be filled. Thank God I'm not in this alone. My brother John spends hours there, sorting through clothes, making piles of what to keep and what to give away. He's emptied the bathroom cabinets and hall closet.  Together, we've hardly made a dent.  Today, we're going over to do more.  Hubby, too. He took the day off to help.

We used to say, "I'm going to Dad's."  "See you at Dad's."  Now we just say the condo.  He doesn't live there anymore.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Welcome To The Orphanage

Dial it down, you're sounding desperate.
There are organizations for rescue animals. I admire those like crazy. What could be more noble than rescuing canines and kitties? I can think of one thing.  An organization devoted to the rescue of the SJG. That's right, people. The SJG is an orphan now. I never would've thought of myself as an orphan until various well-meaning individuals reminded me of my current status.  "You're an orphan, hon," and, "Sorry for your loss" go hand in hand, the twin sentiments of condolence. I think there's an untapped market here, a whole line of Hallmark cards. "Welcome to orphanage.  We saved you a cot." Well, I don't need a cot, but thank you. What I need is someone to adopt me.  Fifteen minutes a day ought to do it.  I need someone parentally-inclined to call me up and tell me I'm wonderful, every day around noon.  Better yet, I'll call you and remind you to tell me I'm wonderful.

No one can tell you you're wonderful like a parent, the elderly the better. When an elderly parent tells you you're wonderful, he's not just talking about the present wonderful, he's talking about a lifetime of wonderful. As an unconditional bonus, the elderly parent has experienced a dramatic dip in accuracy.  The elderly parent has conveniently forgotten about your worst childhood transgressions, your occasional bouts of all-consuming poutiness, brattiness, awfulness.  He has no memory of that time you locked yourself in your bedroom, stayed out too late, dented his car, said horrible things you didn't mean. All that silly stuff is gone. All he remembers is the wonder that is you. His child. The effs-up, the mishaps, the missteps along the way, all a non-issue at the end. So yes, I'm putting myself up for adoption.  Neuroses aside, I'm pretty easy-going.  I sleep through the night, except when I don't. I'm well-mannered until someone pisses me off.  I'm a safe bet, if you don't mind gambling on a 56-year-old.  Think about it. What have you got to lose? A chance like this doesn't come around very often.  So please.  All you elderly parents.  Contact me through the SJG Rescue Organization.  I promise to be wonderful... or at least give it my best shot.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wardrobe Choices

A pre-lunch conversation:
"I'm going to be a schlub-a-dub in jeans."
"You could never be a schlub-a-dub.  But I'm excited to join you in my daily schlep-wear."
Upon arrival at the Beverly Hills restaurant owned by an Actual Housewife of Beverly Hills:
"You don't look schlub-a-dub."
"Yes, I do."
"You look just as put together as always."
"Oh right."
"Yes, right.  You even threw on a scarf."
"Well, you look great."
"Oh, please, I'm completely schlep-a-dick."
"You are not schlep-a-what?"
"Is that even a word?"
"It's as much a word as schlub-a-dub."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Save The Boiler!

Oh, how the SJG loves a good cause.  I've spent 56 years trying to save myself and now that just seems a bit self-involved.  So I'm grateful to have finally found an important issue I can embrace, the kind of big ticket humanitarian enterprise that Angelina Jolie has shockingly ignored. This one's mine, AJ.  All mine. Turns out, Queen Elizabeth's royal reserve fund for emergencies is, dear God, no, down to its last million pounds. You heard me, the royals are struggling to stay royal, royal. I don't know about you people, but I'm distraught over a particular household situation. The boiler in Buckingham Palace is 60 years old and causing major tsouris. Her Majesty relies on this piece-o'crap ancient relic to heat the London palace. If that's not a shanda, what is? And why am I italicizing my Yiddish?  The question is, why are you bothering me with this?  I'm in the middle of a pledge drive.  Now I've lost my train of thought.  Hang on, it's coming back to me. The aging boiler means crazy utility bills and epic environmental shame. But before they replace the royal boiler, methinks we should save it from the metal heap. Let's repurpose the royal boiler into something fabulous.  Let's turn the royal boiler into a cause celeb.  I'm seeing merchandising.  I'm seeing tee shirts.  Mugs.  Really dumb hats. Tweets. Bumper stickers. Theme parks.  I invite you to help me perform this Torah-worthy mitzvah. Stay Calm and Save the Boiler. Unless you have something more important to save.  Like yourself.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Despair, Or Go Ahead, Despair All You Want

This morning I traveled back to an Internet-free zone.  I couldn't connect with the worldwide web.  I'll be honest with you.  I didn't like it.  I felt adrift, much like Robert Redford in "All is Lost."  Much like Sandra Bullock in "Gravity."  Much like other movie references I'm sure I could make if I had more actively-firing brain cells.  But I don't, so I went looking for people to blame.  "What did you do to the Internet?" I asked hubby.  "Nothing," he said.  "Can you please fix it?" I said.  He can pretty much fix anything.  A clogged sink.  A drooping bougainvillea.  A vehicular deficiency.  Why not this?  I stood back and watched him type in secret codes and flip switches and do all sorts of sophisticated wizardry he's picked up during his career in TV.  Well, I'm sorry to report the results were less than spectacular.  They were non-existent. He fixed bupkis. Next I blamed Dusty.  "Did you bury the Internet in the backyard?"  "Woof."  "Go out there and dig it back up, you bad boy."  Dusty returned moments later with a half-eaten walnut.  "Does this walnut get AOL?" "Bark."  "Yahoo?" "Bark bark."  "I'll take that as a no."  No Internet left me an empty shell of myself.  (See what I did there?)  I was riddled with despair.  How would I see the atrocious outfits worn at the Grammy's?  How would I check email?  How would I survive?  And then, a miracle arrived in the form of the tech-savvy youngest son.  I threw myself at his mercy. "Help me, son.  Help. Me.  Help me get the Internet.  Get the Internet back for me.  Get it back!" "Geez, Ma, calm down.  Just use Google Chrome."  "Google Chrome?  Do I have that?"  "Probably."  Not bad for 7:45 in the morning.  "Thank you, my son.  Thank you."  I ran to my office, which currently resembles a dust bin of neglect and random dog hair, not to mention a dog crate, which explains why I'm always sneezing, clicked on the magical button, and here I am.  And here is my half-baked blog.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Go Home

In our last conversation, he said, "Go home, honey." "Can I finish my yogurt?" "Of course. But then, I want you to go home.""Okay." "Don't be mad," he said.  I was a little mad, a little hurt, until I understood his request. He was trying to protect me yet again. He felt badly that I'd seen so much, that I'd had to make so many tough decisions. He never meant to put me through all that. I kept telling him I didn't mind. He'd taken care of me my whole life, and now it was time for me to do the same for him.  And so, per his request, I kept going home... and coming back. I'd stay and stay, my brother John on one side, and me on the other, each holding his hand, telling him to let go, it was okay, we'd be alright, and then we'd both go home.  And come back the next day, and then go home.  Last Sunday, we left at 4:30 in the afternoon.  A half hour later, he left, too.  He didn't want us to see him go.  So he waited till we went home.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Visit To Neptune

"If you've heard this story before, don't stop me,
because I'd like to hear it again." Groucho Marx
Lately, I feel like I've told the same stories to the same wonderful people at least 182 times, and all of them are too kind and tolerant to point it out to me.  Somehow they seem to understand that the SJG Brain, currently under investigation for violating Federal Sanity Codes, can only remember so much on any given crappola day. Or, these wonderful people are using valuable cell phone minutes to do other things while I gab on on on.  This is why Face Time is a bad idea.  Better not to know what the person on the other end is doing.  Dozing off, for instance.  Or rolling their eyes while you launch into the same story.  Again.  "Did I tell you about my visit to Neptune?" I asked my close friend Dan.  "No," he said, politely.  Either he wasn't aware that the SJG has a fondness for space travel, or he was just too menschy and well-bred to say any of the following:

a) Oh, dear God, not the Neptune story again.
b) I beg you to stop repeating yourself.
c) I'm hanging up now.

Now then. This story which some of you have already heard isn't about the planet Neptune.  It's about the Society. Both my parents wished to be scattered upon the sea and signed up for the honor in 1997.  And I had the honor of going to the dimly-lit, vaguely funereal Sherman Oaks headquarters to sign a few hundred forms.  I'm not trying to make you jealous, but these are the fun things I get to do at this moment in time. Out of curiosity, I asked the lady who smelled like cough drops how much this whole thing costs.  Not that I had to pay.  It was already taken care of "pre-need."  She revealed the price tag and told me my dearly departed daddy had signed up for the "travel package."  Well, you know me too well.  I started to laugh, which is better than weeping profusely.  "Go on," I said, wondering what sort of postmortem travel was promised, and why my parents got talked into purchasing it. In case you'd like to sign up... if you plotz anywhere in the world, the nice Neptune people will come and fetch you.  For a fee, anything is possible. My parents must have anticipated plotzing in some exotic locale, or on safari or while climbing the Alps. Two years later, my mom's passport got stamped from Beyond.  (I refer you to the oft-mentioned family credo:  Life is Life.) And yet, I applaud their adventurous spirit. Thus ends my Neptune story. If I regale you with it at a later date, don't stop me, I'd like to hear it again.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Go Away, JB

It pains the SJG to resign my presidency of the Sherman Oaks chapter of the Justin Bieber Fan Club, but I can no longer endorse the dumb-ass behavior of the young Canadian artist and hair trend-setter.  Even hubby feels extreme disappointment. "They should deport that putz." Yesterday, the rapper known as Scott D took time out of his busy college day to text me the following: "Bieber ratted his mom and said she gave him the Xanax and he didn't know what it was!  What a great son he is." "You'd never rat me out, would you, honey?" I texted back. "Never, Mom. What's for dinner?" Next time I see JB terrorizing Calabasas and other parts of the Valley I call home, I will convey my displeasure with his egg-throwing, bucket-pishing, mug-shot, drag-racing snarkativity. I will tell him I'm no longer a Bieleber. I will tell him, point blank, that he needs to go back to Hebrew school and relearn his Torah portion.  What's that? The Biebs isn't a nice Jewish boychick? There's still time for him to convert.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Good Grief!

Yesterday my friend Jim checked in with me and asked for my address. I assume he wants to return the luxury time machine I loaned him a while back. I told him I'm currently residing on Planet Grief. This is a planet I've visited before.  It's a little mushy up there, a little unpredictable. One minute you're okay, and the next you're stepping in a big pile of kaka. And so it goes. You're good, you're not so good.  This is how we roll on Planet Grief, where there is no dress code. Thank God. I'm wearing my least flattering sweatpants at the moment.  Not that anyone has ever created a flattering pair of sweatpants.  Expensive sweatpants, yes.  But flattering?  No.  Please don't argue with me.  I feel strongly about this and I'm always right.  This morning, I did a bit of scholarly grief research, for which there is no government grant, just a bunch of pithy quotes by Shakespeare and other smarties that don't really sum up my state o' mind.  So I made up my own silly quote which I urge you to drop into conversation today and report back to me how many blank stares you garner:

"Grief is a thief that steals a loved one right out from under you, and leaves behind an empty spot in your soul that only chocolate can fill."
 -- The SJG of Sherman Oaks, currently looking for a larger pair of unflattering sweatpants.  What did you expect?  You keep bringing me delicious cookies and bundt cakes and other bakery items.  Stop that.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

That's Life

A boy grows in Brooklyn
Ben Starr, 92, beloved father, friend, all-around mensch and veteran comedy writer, passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 19, 2014. He was born in Manhattan on October 18, 1921 and grew up in Brooklyn, an adventurous boy who loved to play street hockey, climb roofs, hang from telephone wires, throw snowballs and the occasional rock at the enemies on the other block.He attended City College in New York and graduated from UCLA, after working at a donut factory in Los Angeles to help out his Russian immigrant parents, William and Sara. After Ben’s stint at the factory, he never ate a donut again.
The WWII Navigator (back row, third one)
Ben was a second lieutenant navigator in WWII, stationed in England, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.” 
It was during the war that Ben exhibited an uncanny ability to make it rain so that his squadron could avoid flying dangerous missions over Germany. He maintained his talent for rainmaking (and rain-stopping) throughout his life. He also had a gift for finding parking spots in impossible locales.
A horse is a horse, of course, of course.
Ben enjoyed a wonderful and successful career as a comedy writer, starting in radio, where he wrote for Al Jolson, George Burns, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He went on to write for TV (“Mr. Ed,” “Andy Griffith,” “All in the Family,” “Diff’rent Strokes”), features (“Our Man Flint,” “Texas Across the River”) and the stage. One of his plays even made it to Broadway. Ben is featured in Donna Kanter’s documentary “Lunch,” about comedy legends who gather at Factor’s Deli to kvetch, tell jokes and eat whatever they shouldn’t.
Under the chuppah with Gloria and Ben,
Sheldon Leonard and Jerry Lewis
Ben was married to his beloved wife Gloria for 50 years, who passed away in 1999. Then he took up with the lovely Paula Sheinwold, his girlfriend of 14 years.

An avid reader, movie-goer, news junkie and Laker fan, Ben brought joy and laughter to his family and close friends, including Dan Harrison, his lunch buddy (900 meals, but who’s counting) and personal computer guru. Ben’s favorite expression was “Life is life.” Truer words have never been spoken. He will be deeply missed by his children, Peter Starr, John Starr and Carol Starr Schneider, as well as his son-in-law Howard Schneider, his grandchildren Billy and Scotty Schneider and Ben Starr, and his nephew Andy Kaplan, his wife Allison and their children.
No funeral planned but deli will be consumed in Ben Starr’s honor.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

The sniff test
Lately, the key word in the SJG vocabulary is comfy.  The hospital bed was never called the hospital bed.  Everyone was under strict orders to call it The Comfy Bed.  There was a reason for this.  There's always a reason, unless you find yourself in limbo, and then there's no reason at all. But the reason for the euphemistic reference:  to trick a certain someone who didn't want a hospital bed.  It worked.
A tentative first step toward comfy
This whole journey with my dad has been all about keeping him comfy, right up to the end. "Does he look comfy?" I say, a thousand times a day. "Yes," whatever nurse is on duty tries to reassure me. "Does he look comfy to you?" I ask my brother John. "I think so." "Maybe he needs to be moved a little." This is the wrong decision, I've learned the hard way. An epic mistake. A blunder. When someone is comfy, particularly someone heading to another place -- and if you could please describe this place to me, and give me an approximate locale, I would be much obliged -- it is best not to eff with them, despite what the last nurse on call instructs.  The slightest re-positioning brings grumbling and otherworldly noises that will haunt me for quite a while. "I shouldn't have told you to move him.  He was comfy," I said yesterday.  John gave me a look. "Don't feel bad.  I'm booking you a guilt trip." "Great.  Put me in first class."
Full-out rejection
I'm learning so much about comfy. Everyone's definition is different. And some people, often the ones we love the most, the ones we can't bear to say goodbye to, don't want to let go of their comfy place, and honestly, can you blame them? Some people get so comfy they hang on for dear life. Until they finally lose their grip.

Friday, January 17, 2014

There'll Be No Blog Tonight

None of your beeswax, bitches.
There'll be no blog tonight, no, no
The humor won't sound right
The universe is being impolite
And I can't blog tonight, don't make me
No, I can't blog tonight

I guess I'm just a Jew
Who's short and so confused
I'm wondering why this must continue
And all I can act is blue, I really mean it
No, no Merlot will do

There'll be no blog tonight, no, no
The humor won't sound right
The universe is being impolite
And I can't blog tonight, don't make me
No, I can't blog tonight
(apologies to Phoebe Snow: forgive me, Phoebe)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

All About Me Day

Last night, I informed hubby that I'd like to shift my birthday to another day.  Maybe next week.  Next month.  But apparently, like so much these days, I can't control my date of birth.  So I plan to have a birthday today.  Wouldn't be my first choice.  Still, there must be a few things to celebrate.  The love and friendship and support of my friends and family.  That's a big one.  And of course, the fact I'm 40 years old. Again.  Well, 40 plus 16.  Both good years for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,
You have a very sick sense of humor. You want an example, fine, I'll give you one.  Yesterday I went to the Post Office.  I never go to the Post Office.  I equate the Post Office with things I tend to avoid, like day-old kreplach:  The DMV. CVS.  But I went there, Universe, because you forced me to renew my passport, in case I actually go somewhere. First I did my homework. I filled out the forms, I got the most hideous photos taken.  Seriously. I achieved a whole new level of hideousness.  I even got an authentic copy of my birth certificate because some a-hole at a government passport hotline told me to, and I follow orders.Sometimes.

Here's how it went with the lady behind the counter, a lady more suited to other work.  Guard at a women's prison comes to mind.  As I handed her my forms, she went postal on me. "I don't need these... You filled this out wrong... Why did you bring a birth certificate?  I don't want your four hideous photos.  I only need one..." "But -- " "I don't need your sarcasm."  "But I'm -- " At some point, in between her pops of cruelty, I managed to say, "Please be nice to me, my father is dying." "Really?  My mother just died, so we're even."

Well, Universe, clearly, this particular human was having a bad day. So I picked the path of least resistance. I shut the eff up.  And then... you won't believe it, Universe, she apologized.  I took her hand and said, "I'm sorry about your mother."  She said, "I'm sorry about your father. I hope he has his affairs in order... because my mother didn't."

Alrighty then, Universe.  What else you got in store for me? Tomorrow's my birthday. I can hardly wait for the next offering.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Answers May Vary

May or may not be the bearded guy in question.
What did the bearded guy in the car call out to the SJG as I was walking Dusty?
a.  Beautiful Lab!
b.  Nice abs!
c.  Lookin'  fab!

What did the SJG say in response?
a.  Uh, thanks.
b.  I know, right?
c.  I'm genetically enhanced.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Missing From This Photo

1.  The birthday girl who ordered this assorted high caloric cookie platter.
2.  The birthday girl who nearly singed her fringe on this incendiary celebratory device.
3.  The birthday girl who thought this incendiary celebratory device would last longer, much like her youth.
I've never looked lovelier, or blurrier.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Table For Four

Twice a year, for so many years I've lost track, the four of us go to the Ivy to celebrate our birthdays.  Val and I take first position in January.  Kyle and Elena come next in March.  We order the same thing every time:  grilled veggie/chicken salad.  We sit among the rich folk, the occasional celebrities.  We look over quickly, return to our warm bread rolls.  As the years go by, the famous ones matter less.  It's our own lives we'd rather dissect.  We talk and talk, we laugh and open gifts.  We go home happy and full. We met in junior high, the four of us.  Emerson Jr. High.  The early '70s.  We started 7th grade together, the first year girls were allowed to wear jeans to school; the first year of busing.  The four of us, we got through it all, somehow, thanks to each other.  The early disasters, the growing pains.  We've been there and done that a few times over:

Boyfriends and crushes.  Sneaking into R-rated movies.  Getting our periods.  Getting high.  Getting drunk.  Boys.  Long hair.  Short hair.  More boys.  Some nice, some not-so.  Desert boots.  Clogs.  Birkenstocks.  Platform shoes.  Foot surgery.  Hip-huggers.  Hot pants. Hot flashes. High-waisted pants.  Granny skirts.  Peasant tops.  Tie-dyed shirts.  And boys.  The flirtations.  The aggravations.  The highs and lows and in-betweens.  

Virginity.  Lost virginity.  Raging hormones.  Lost hormones.  Learning to drive.  Learning to let go.  Weight loss.  Weight gain.  Weight Watchers.  First dates.  First cars.  First apartments.  First houses.  First everything.  The four of us at UCLA.  New guys.  The same guys.  Men.  Good ones.  Questionable ones.  The best ones of all.   Falling in love and out of love.  Finding love again.

Marriage.  Divorce.  Remarriage.  Pregnancies.  Miscarriages.  Labor and delivery.  Child-rearing.  The terrible twos, fours, fourteens.  Teens learning to drive.  Teens text-messaging.  Off to college.  Back from college.  Loved ones lost.  Loved ones in hospice.  Rapidly aging parents.  Rapidly aging selves.  Everyone's getting older.  The cycle repeats.  One year and then the next.  We're at the Ivy again.  Make a wish.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The SJG Gift Registry

Dear SJG,
What should I give you for your upcoming birthday?  I'm in a generous mood that probably won't last.

Dear Dusty,
Please drop the credit card you stole from my wallet.  I said Drop It.  My credit card has its limits, and so do I.  It's not fair to tease me with gifts I will never receive.  You are a cruel, yet adorable doggy.
The Woman Who May or May Not Have Given Birth To You

Dear SJG,
We understand you've set up a gift registry for yourself.  Even though we find that unbelievably tacky, and even though we never buy you a gift, we let Dad take care of that, we wanted to ask you what's on the list of things we won't be getting you.
The Sons You Actually Gave Birth To

Dear Sons,
I've registered for the following items.  Feel free not to buy me any of them, so that I can guilt you later at the party you won't be throwing me:
1.  Neverending nachas from the both of you. That's Yiddish for joy, blessings and pride from your children. As opposed to a greasy platter of nachos.  I hear there's a shortage of Velveeta cheese, so I wouldn't want to trouble you to get in your cars and find something that gooey and goyisha.
2.  Your eternal devotion to me and only me.  Dad will understand.  I think.
3.  I want you should each go on one date with a Jewish girl.  Give it a try. What's the worst that could happen? You fall in love, get married and give me grandchildren, and later invite me to a bar or bat mitzvah?
4. Put one of the many dishes you use and recklessly discard in a dishwasher.  It doesn't have to be our dishwasher, it could be a neighbor's, or a distant relative's.
5. For the week of my birthday, that's right, I deserve an entire week after what you've put me through, and I say that with love, banish the word "fart" from your vocabulary.
Your Favorite Mother

Friday, January 10, 2014


Now that the sons are mature young adults, capable of ordering their own alcoholic beverages and tying their own shoes, the SJG has to face reality, something I prefer to do only on a limited basis. Apparently, I need to stop with the theme birthday parties. If only I'd gotten the memo sooner, I might have avoided last night's near-fiasco.The eldest didn't respond all that well to the flurry of merchandise-related characters who greeted him at the restaurant. "Surprise!" I said. The eldest took two steps back, and attempted to vacate the premises."Where are you going?" "Not where you want me to go." "Which is?" "Back in time." "What gives you that idea?" "All the people in costumes." "What costumes?"  "The place is full of Teenage Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too." "I'm so glad you noticed. They're all your favorites." "Not anymore." "What?" "I've moved on, Mom." "You're moving home? That's wonderful.""I'm not moving home." "Oh."  "I'm 26, not six." "In that case, should I cancel the guest appearance by Spider Man?" "Please." "What about the Pokemon cake?""Is it chocolate?" "Of course." "Keep the cake.""What about the laser tag after-party?" "I'd prefer paint ball."  "That's the after-after party." "You're the best, Mommy." "Tell me something I don't know."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mellow Out

Not really, Olivia.
The SJG may not radiate calm or strike you as a daily mantra reciter. But there was a time when I recited plenty. I meditated. You heard me. In the '70s, I did Transcendental Meditation. I closed my eyes, I said my mantra -- pipik, pipik, pipik -- twice daily. Did I emerge from my meditative state feeling overly mellow?  Drowsy, yes.  Mellow, not so much.  But I sure could use a dose of mellow right now.  Rumor has it that yoga is a great pathway to mellow. I've taken yoga before. All types of yoga. All I ever got was a weird muscle spasm.  What's that?  You think I should try it again?  Fine. I trust your opinion.  In the coming weeks, I will entertain the following yoga-related activities:

1.  Listen to people talk about yoga.
2.  Commit myself to yoga.
3.  Buy cute yoga outfit.
4.  Take yoga class in baggy sweats, so as not to appear threatening or show-offy.
5.  Remember I don't like the sound of other people breathing.
6.  Try to be more tolerant of others.
7.  Who am I kidding?
8.  Give up yoga.
9.  Wear cute yoga outfit on daily errands.
10.  Take up napping.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Birthday Exchange

I have no idea who these people are.
Hmm.  It has come to my attention that certain children I've personally birthed continue to get older.  What up with that?  Every year, there they go again with another birthday, another grab for attention.  Don't these children of mine understand that every time they get older, I get older, too?  While I want them to embrace the fun of turning, oh, let's pick a random number, 26,  don't they understand that this rude, unfeeling progression of time takes a toll on their favorite mother?  Can't they understand that if one of them turns 26, let's pick a random day, tomorrow, that means a week later, the SJG turns... oh dear God, how did that happen, 56?  How can I be turning 56 when I still feel 55? Why can't we employ a little movie magic, a switcheroo?  Let's make the son in question turn 56, and the mother turn 26.  Now that sounds like box office gold to me, much better than the crop of movies that came out in 2013.  No one gets stranded in space, no one gets held hostage. No one falls in love with a disembodied voice.  None of that nonsense. This is just good clean confusion on a personal level.  A mother and son share a nice birthday hug, and a freakish electrical charge occurs, which often happens in movies for no reason at all. A mother wakes up 26. A son wakes up 56. And hilarity ensues.  Maybe.  Come to think of it, I'm not so sure I want to be 26 again.  If I were 26 again, I wouldn't be a mom yet.  I'd have no one to drive crazy, other than myself, and hubby, and I've been doing that since we were 16.  Hmm.  Selfless gal that I am, I think I'll turn 56 next week, and let the eldest turn 26 tomorrow. That's just the kind of mother I am.  I give and I give and ask for nothing in return. Other than a nice birthday hug, no freaky electricity involved.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Good Time To Quote This Guy

"Where there is love there is life." -- Mahatma Gandhi
How many times have I promised to slip in a quote from Gandhi?  Let me think about that.  Give me a minute.  Be patient, you.  I'm not great with numbers.  Hang on, it's coming to me. I think I've made that promise at least... um... Okay, fine.  Never. I've never made that promise.  Not once have I ever said, "If only I could quote Gandhi, I'd feel more elevated as a human. And oh, what a spike in readers it would get me!" But now I realize, if there's ever a good time to quote Gandhi, it's this moment in time.  Chances are, it won't happen again. I'll quote Groucho Marx, I'll quote George Carlin, maybe Mae West now and then, maybe Miley C.  But Gandhi?  Probably not.  So why, why, am I quoting him today?  I'm so glad you asked.  I've always liked you best. That's just between us, of course.  Please don't tell my other devotees scattered throughout the universe. Just yesterday I got a fan text from Jupiter. I had no idea what it said, it was in Alien, but I'm pretty sure it said something like this: "We love your silly SJG blog so much on Jupiter, we're learning to make kugel." I know, I know, stop wasting precious time. Back to Gandhi already. Don't rush me, you. Sometimes I take a circuitous route. Gandhi popped up during a bedside chat with my personal comedy guru, Mr. Ben Starr, still waiting for the perfect punchline to go out on. In between bemoaning his Laker Boys, and questioning why he's coughing, we talked about our favorite topic. Love.  If there's anything out there better than love, let me know. Laughter comes a close second. But love. Love is ultimately what it's all about.  According to my dad, "Gandhi taught the world about love." According to me, Mr. Ben Starr has taught a master course on the subject.

Monday, January 6, 2014

SJG Whinery Opens In Sherman Oaks

Yes, please.
(Sherman Oaks) A short, semi-ambitious Jewish blogger/shockingly-employed TV movie writer has opened up the first and only known whinery in the world. In between stomping out her frustrations and performing a free-style tantrum, the founder explained the roots of her success: "For years and years now, I've been developing my own signature whine. Blending and experimenting, harvesting resentment, cultivating a crop of justifiable grievances. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a barrel big enough to store all this tsouris?  I had to have one made special just for me.  Cost me a bundle, too.  Let's just say the liquidation of some high-yielding Israeli bonds barely covered the expense. But hey, it was worth it. At last, I've achieved the perfect blend of full-bodied discontent and oak-tinged exasperation. Quite frankly, I've never been prouder, which is why I'm welcoming the public to come sample my exclusive SJG label and spend time in my sound-proof kvetchatorium.  So please, stop by, let out a nice primal scream or two, and get the hell out."  SJG Whinery hours:  Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 8:15 a.m.  Closed Saturday and Sunday.  Donations mandatory.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Love You This Much

At the end, nice people get nicer, funny people get funnier.  The other day, my dad gestured toward his own body, and reflected on its current state of epic failure. "Such anti-Semitism," he said. "It's not right, Daddy.  What should we do?" "Sue." "Wonderful idea." "Find me a good attorney." "Someone who makes house calls." "Even better."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The SJG Shopping Strategy

I confess. Kiosk people scare the #@!& out of me. Over the years, I’ve developed a strategy to deal with this untamed group. Yet there are times I get roped into their evil web anyway. Did you know that kiosk people are the most aggressive sales force in history? Well, it’s true. Avoiding these crazed product pushers requires determination. Walk quickly. Never look up. Never make eye contact. Once they snag you, it’s all over. Surrender your wallet and hope for the best. Kiosk people are relentless. And mean. They prey on your weakness. They profit from deflating your ego. Their industry depends on your dry skin, swollen eyes and myriad personal flaws. In record time, they’ll zone in on all your insecurities. They’ll say anything to make you spend your hard-earned cash on miracle gels, eye creams, acne solutions, hair extensions and aromatic, microwavable neck pillows. All I can say is: Run! Run as fast as you can and don’t look back.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This Meeting Is Now Called To Order

Always fun for the SJG to conduct a local meeting of the Phobic Society of America.  I go where I'm needed, people, and yesterday, it was the lobby of my dad's condominium. The nice hospice social worker-spiritual adviser named Angela arrived at my dad's door, sans nurse. "Darlene's afraid of elevators," she reported. "No problem, I'm on it." There's nothing a former freaked-out elevator-taker loves more than to help a sister out.  So I grabbed the keys, donned my special SJG cape, and rushed to the scene. "I'm not afraid of you, Mr. Elevator," I called out, as I traveled, non-phobically, three whole floors to the lobby. This would not have been the case years ago -- how many, that's none of your business, okay, at least 20 -- when elevators were the enemy, dark and coffin-like, not my transportation of choice.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sherman Oaks Countdown

Some wait for the ball to drop in NYC to herald the new year.  Others wait for the remote control to drop to the floor in Sherman Oaks, to indicate that they've slept through the big moment, yet again.  The New Year waits for nobody, not even the SJG.  Nonetheless, I wish you and yours a happy one, and please, remember to take a sweater.  It's chilly outside.