Tag Archives: jewish

Love and Guilt

I’m an atheist Jew and my boyfriend is an atheist Christian. So, what’s the problem?

“So he’s not Jewish?”

“No, he’s not. And you know I don’t really care about that”

No response.

“Mom?”

“Well, your father and I would prefer a Jew.”

[from my pseudonymous column at The Gloss]

Part Zombie

So that’s three courses of antibiotics in two months, if you’re keeping track at home. I think I’m part Jewish, part Zombie.

Have Yourself a Merry Jewish Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through house not a creature was stirring except the Chinese delivery guy.

I’m a terrible Jew. I haven’t been to synagogue since 1998 and I make a point of eating shell fish on Yom Kippur, the most holy of holy days.

So what? I’m a Jew when it counts. I go home on Christmas, sleep late, sit in a car for with my parents and older brother for 45 minutes to travel to the movie  theater in Westchester and then go out for Chinese.

This year we all watched Slumdog Millionaire.

After the trailer for Revolutionary Road, my grandfather turned around to my brother and me and gruffly said, “Boy, that looks like my marriage.” The whole theater giggled.

After the movie, which was deemed universally very good, but not excellent by my family, we argued over dinner. Last year’s Chinese restaurant was a disaster. My aunt wanted to go to the Kosher delicatessen, my brother wanted sushi. I stick firmly to tradition, and demanded lo mein.

We ended up at a different Chinese restaurant, and spent most of the dinner discussing the tea, which was too hot for my mother.

On the ride home, in the cold, cold dark of the winter, I leaned my head against the window and felt small again. My mother spoke quietly to my father, who was absorbed in the ballgame on the radio. My brother was silent. I put my headphones on and peered out into the black white snowfall and watched Westchester go by.

Like a Real Deep Sharpie

I don’t have a tattoo. It’s wild in New York to say that. Even worse? I don’t have any piercings. None. Not even my ears. So a part of me, and god this is foolish, always feels like a virgin. The other parts of me just feel afraid. Not of pain, no-no, nor of some made up Jewish law, but of permanence. There is nothing I fear most.

Another Boring Come-On

It’s Sunday afternoon. Michelle and I are terribly hung over and strung out, languidly lying down in the grassy park of Stuy Town trying to sunbathe as best as two pale girls can. After a good hour or so, she packs up to go to the gym. I decide to stay out a bit longer and stretch out in my two-piece. I feel uncomfortable. I lie out as a social activity, not for sport. I will be a chunky red-head until my dying day, and nothing about the summer will change my pasty finish.

The sun hits the back of the trees and shadows begin to creep up my feet. A good half hour has passed. I am bored, cooling down, and obviously uncomfortable with my partially naked solo act on the lawn. I begin to pack up. I slip on my shorts and fold up the blanket when I spot a man across the lawn eying me. I am uncomfortable, sure, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. I can’t help but look back.

He gets up and dusts off his pants. I get nervous. I quickly put my tank top on and pack my books into my bag. The man makes his way through the crowds of hard-bodied NYU students in their triangle-bikinis and stops at my spot.

“Hi,” he says, and I flush. Thankfully, I have now reached fully-clothed-ness. “I know this is weird, but would you like to join me for a glass of wine?”

Two thoughts enter my mind: The first is how awkward this situation is, and how weird it would be to accept. The second is the hilarious story that will emerge from saying yes. I inevitably choose the later, of course.

I walk with him about twenty yards away to his make-shift picnic and he pours me a plastic wine glass of chilled white. I taste it, expensive, and look at his accoutrements: a worn copy of Moby Dick and a bound court case. Exciting.

“Listen, I know this is weird, but you live in Stuyvesant Town, right?” he asks.

“Yes. I mean, I have been lying out….” I say, and swallow a heavy gulp of wine.

“Right. Well,” he pauses. He looks nervous, and his wine-cup may or may not be shaking in his hand. It is hard to tell in the waning light. “Well. I saw you walking yesterday.”

I frown. “You saw me?”

“I saw you. Yesterday. It rained all morning, and then it cleared up and the sun came out. You were walking in on 14th and A and I was behind you, and there was a puddle –”

“There was a puddle?”

“Yes, a large one. Do you remember?”

I nod. I think there was a puddle, and I had definitely emerged from the L around 5ish when the skies has cleared.

He rubs his forehead and smiles. “So you were in front of me, and there was a big puddle, and you — I know this is weird, but you stepped, you leapt over the puddle, and it was so beautiful, you, you were so beautiful . . . and then I saw you on the lawn right now. And I decided if I didn’t ask you to come have a drink with me I would hate myself for the next month.”

“You would?” At this point, I begin to chug the delicious glass of wine like a tall boy of Coors.

“Yes. See, my brother was supposed to be here, but he got busy.”

I see. I see how very quickly a 33 year old Jewish lawyer with a copy of Moby Dick can turn into a creepy man with a crush on a 24 year old girl in a rush to get home from Brooklyn. And when he asks for my number I say no, and sweetly provide my email address.

Coming soon: New chapters from “Insightful Emails from Rejected Suiters: The Lawyer Edition”.

The Doctor Is In

A new week, a new complaint.

Perhaps this can be explained by my Jewish habit of kvetching. There’s that old joke that goes like this:

An old Jewish man riding on a train begins to moan: “Oy, am I thirsty; oy, am I thirsty”, to the annoyance of the other passengers. Finally, another passenger gets a cup of water from the drinking fountain and gives it to the old man, who thanks him profusely and gulps it down. Feeling satisfied, the other passenger sits down again, only to hear “Oy, was I thirsty; oy, was I thirsty”.

But perhaps I’m prone to physical harm. Right now I’ve finishing up antibiotics to treat a sinus infection, scheduling an x-ray for the pinched nerve in my upper back, have a fair amount of mysterious black and blues on my hips and legs, and a monster hangover-induced headache. And now…

This time it’s my foot. What I thought was just an umcomfortable wedge and a long walk has morphed into a a sharp pain on the top of my foot made worse when I stretch my big toe in any way. Day two I noticed there was swelling on my foot and the pain was worse. Walking up and down stairs was agony, and I hobbled slowly up and down to catch the L.

I decided another self-diagnosis was in order. As I’ve said before, my track record for these diagnoses is impeccable. I go to the doctor with my symptoms, my ailments, my causes, and a treatment plan. I’ve done this recently with my sinus infection and pinched nerve. I’ve also correctly diagnosed the hormone disorder three doctors refused to believe I could have. So, after careful research, I’ve got my answer.

Extensor Tendinitis. A common sports injury! Me — the most unathletic kid in the world! To be fair, I walk at least thirty blocks daily as part of my normal work commute. I’m self-medicating with my prescription strength ibuprofen initially useful for my back, icing my foot, walking less, and comfy shoes.

Yes, I have insurance and a doctor. But why bother when I can diagnose and treat myself? There’s less paperwork and much better waiting room.

For now, cross your fingers I’m correct. Because if I’m wrong then I’m got a stress fracture, but I refuse to believe this pain will lead to a big, embarassing foot cast and months of kvetching.

Metamorphosis

I used to be in therapy.

I’m a neurotic New Yorker who was raised by overprotective Jewish parents. Of course I used to be in therapy. Not my whole life, mind you. But I was a depressed teenager, miserable and ugly and overwhelmingly threatened by my own intelligence and subsequent lack of friends. But so what? It’s a popular history, and yes I use that word ironically, that I share. So in college I went back and forth, seasonally, to see a man who looked and acted exactly like the Big Lebowski. He would lean back in his chair and stare at his Dali-style melting grandfather clock, look back at me in the big, black leather chair on the multi-colored shag rug, and shrug. “Yeah, kid,” he said, “You’re depressed. I mean, come on. You smoke a lot of pot. Hell. This isn’t the prettiest campus. So I don’t know. Yeah, depressed, of course. Maybe you should write that book, kid.”

When I graduated from college I spent a summer at home in Dutchess County, New York, alternately lounging in the hot tub and applying for jobs. I drank a lot at my father’s bar and took my old black lab on long walks down the cul-de-sac.

I got a job at a publishing house that August and moved to Manhattan that weekend. A few weeks later, my beloved dog passed away. My then-boyfriend, who was planning to move to New York, called to say he had been accepted into the Peace Corps. I was back in therapy before you could say long-distance-relationship. The boyfriend moved to Manhattan to begin a long and miserable five month break up process. That November, my aunt passed away from cancer. The boyfriend left for Ukraine in March. Later that spring, my grandmother died.

Desperate times call for desperate crying jags on the couch of a woman I paid $100 an hour to see. And she was fantastic. By the summer, I had picked up the pieces of my fractured heart and surged ahead with my life. I was promoted at work, reconciling my losses, dating again. So I stopped going to therapy. That was about a year ago.

I think the people who end up in therapy for years use it incorrectly. When I saw my last therapist, I talked nonstop about everything. Childhood, college, drugs, sex, jealousy, ambition: All of it was on the table. And while my therapist meant well, it was mostly me who was able to name the answers to my problems, the explanations to my quirks. The more I talked about everything, the more epiphanies I experienced.

Now that I’m not in therapy, I rely on the very closest of my friends to listen to me talk. My dear friend Chana listened to my drunken musings on my relationship with my mother after a drunken book club went down hill after our third cocktail. My wise friend Darren helped me realize the reason I cut off my ex-boyfriend was not out of principal, rather, my own desperation to gain control over a situation in which I had none.

I also use this blog. This blog, which was started as a sort of easy device for me to copy the drunken poetry from my moleskin notebook, has recently taken the shape of a diary of sorts. I cringe to admit it has taken the form of a real, ugh, blog.

Indeed, I remember a “friend” in college who had a blog she advertised in her away messages. A notable posting was intended to ameliorate her isolation, I’m sure, yet listed all of us, her “friends”, and explained why she was too cool to hang out with us. Ah, that blog post kept us going for years. I never understood why a girl who was lonely would trash the only friends she had in a public forum. I never wanted anyone to read my diary but the select few entries I deemed appropriate and grand.

This is not a diary. I don’t know what it is, but I am not stupid enough to make this a diary. And while there are friends of mine who are aware of its presence, the bulk of my people have no clue I have this rinky-dink word show. In fact, my friend Chana brought it up at my book club, which contains five of my best friends, and one of my oldest friends from college was struck by my secrecy. And it wasn’t that I was hiding it from her, per se, rather, I never want a stupid collection of paragraphs and sentences that are most always written at one in the morning (it is currently 1:26am) to define me or isolate me or generate anything but perhaps an amusingly slight self-understanding. It keeps me writing.

So I hope this makes more sense to the 20 some-odd readers of this humble, self-indulgent creation. You are, all of you, so much cheaper than a good therapist, and twice as lovely.