Posted by Mihal Levy
Sometimes when I write - I wonder if anyone is actually reading. “Reading what?,” you ask. My point exactly.
It is like therapy - a one-sided relationship. (Although many therapists will argue that it is not one-sided. But when is the last time you heard about your therapist’s dilemmas or maybe they are just downright perfect? Possible, but not probable.) In therapy the client/patient (depending on your level of mental stress) talks while the therapist listens (usually) and interjects with an “aha” or “tell me more.” When a writer writes and puts their stuff “out there” (in this case - cyberspace) there is no confirmation that someone is actually “listening” with a nod, “aha” or even a pie in the face as confirmation. See, here I write and pause for a moment (pausing) - and walla…nothing! Not that I know of anyway. (Please feel free to leave comments if and when you read - only if you want to, of course. Hint - you want to, right? Ok, I tried.)
My own mother does not read my writing and for no good reason apparently (according to her), but the mere fact that she “does not know the web address.” I tell her every week that it does not change and is still the same. She will “try to make the time” to read my stories if I actually email them to her. So, I do and she doesn’t. If my own mother does not read my writing, how can I expect anyone else to. I try not to take it personally. (She’s only my mother, right? And in her defense, she has read a few that were emailed to her - because they were about her. Maybe that’s why she avoids them…hmmm?)
I started thinking that my mom isn’t much into surface-level articles/stories, she is into the much deeper stuff like the books she reads by Danielle Steel. Ms. Steel - how do you do it? You keep my mom interested in your writing and me…well, not so much. Bless Danielle Steel, by the way, for finding a way to intrigue readers once or twice a year with “bestsellers” of stories she recycles. Boy meets girl. He dies. She’s lost without him and ends up marrying his best friend. Of course how the boy and girl meet changes from novel to novel as well as the way in which he dies - terminal illness, war, murder, or self-inflicted ‘accident.’ Much more entertaining than my writing, I’m sure - that’s why Mom reads Steel’s writing and not mine.
Danielle Steel - if you are reading this (of course, why wouldn’t you be?), just know you have won my mom’s heart, I’m just sayin’. And I am not the least bit jealous (or inquisitive as to why). Also, would you be interested in co-writing your next novel? Maybe then my mom would start reading what I wrote. Only, do you think that we could add some humor to your novels and some altered plots like - he dies, she kills herself? A little more Shakespearean in nature perhaps? No happy endings?
I must admit that I am not the expert on D.S. novels, since I stopped reading them after I was old enough to stop sneaking my mom’s books and go out and get my own. I do think that not that much has changed in her style since I have stopped reading, however. I have the innate gift of reading only the first and last page of any book she writes and knowing exactly what happens between page 2-199, the way she had intended…to a tee. It is either my innate ability or the fact that her stories are just that predictable. Not that that is a bad thing. (Jew Mama sticks her foot in her mouth, incase Danielle is reading this because there is a greater chance that she is reading this than my own mother.) Note to Danielle - We are on the same page. (Hoping I didn’t blow a chance at adapting a D.S. novel for the Hallmark Channel, now.) Maybe it is a good thing D.S. is not reading this. My mom, however, that’s another story.
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February 24, 2010 | 12:29 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
The Oscars aren’t really about the films, actors, directors, producers and so on. Right? Well, maybe a little. It’s all about the red carpet style.
So, who wouldn’t want the chance to design a dress for the Oscars? (Well me, for one, because I woudn’t know what I was doing, but that’s besides the point.) Nine up-and-coming designers were selected by Patty Fox, Oscar fashion coordinator, along with an advisory committee, to design a dress for the “Oscars Designer Challenge 2010.” I was invited to attend the pre-Oscar fashion event that was held yesterday, February 23rd, at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, where the designers showed off their creations on the runway.
The designers hailed from Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Phoenix. The Los Angeles designers include Fernanda Carneiro, Phong Hong, Oday Shakar, Ari Sheuhmelian and Oliver Tolentio. Also participating are Elda De La Rosa from Chicago, Ivy Higa and Kelsy Zimba from New York, as well as Rania Salibi from Phoenix. Each designer was paired up with Los Angeles-based models, whom if chosen will be presenting an Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010.
I got a sneak peak at the dresses and trends for the 82nd annual Academy Awards. According to Fox, this year the trend will be shapely silhouettes and exposed necklines. And silhouettes and exposed necklines were definitely apparent in the beautiful designs created by the participating designers. All the dresses were beautiful and designed for one night only. Fox stated, “The true definition of couture: one gown, for one body, for one night.” Fashion expert Carson Kressley was also on hand with his fashion expertise. He made it clear that he liked the sparkle dress.
All the gowns were accessorized with diamonds (of course, what else) by Martin Katz. Although all the dresses were beautiful, the dress that stood out the most for me was a simple, yet elegant black chiffon mermaid gown designed by Fernanda Carneiro. The simple elegance stood out for me, as well as the 56-carat diamond chain belt that was worn with it. Another stunning gown was designed by Oday Shakar - a metallic French lace gown over one shoulder. (Although I am not a fan of the one shoulder gowns, because I am always wondering what happened to the other strap. Lost in a fight? Maybe it is just the OCD part of me.) The dress was covered with Swarovski crystals that looked amazing under all the lights. Shakar explained that the inspiration for his dress was “an evening of stars” - very apropos.
There was even a sustainable dress made of ivory pineapple and abaca fiber by designer Oliver Tolentino. It was adorned with freshwater pearls from the Philippines.
You can see these gowns for yourself at Oscar.com and vote for your favorite. The competition can be viewed on Oscar.com between March 3-8 on “Behind the Dress,” a web series. The winner will be announced during the Oscars red carpet arrivals on March 7 at 5 p.m. PT. Be sure to vote for your favorite to see it on the red carpet…so that your choice will be there, if you won’t be. You can still feel like you are part of the action.
February 23, 2010 | 12:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
When it comes to nature, I pretty much have a fear of it - like Monk (the Obsessive-Compulsive Detective that was played by Tony Shalhoub). I am sure there is a name for that sort of thing. Ok, so maybe I exaggerate a little. It is not so much a fear of nature, as it is the fear of being outside in nature and being eaten alive by a mountain lion or bitten by a poisonous snake or coming face to face with Jack the Ripper who goes out on hiking trails to find unsuspecting victims. So, I guess those are more my fears than nature itself, although nature has proven to be quite scary at times. I.E.: tidal waves, earthquakes…you get my point.
Also, my past experience on hiking trails has not been so pretty. (Which probably adds to my fear of ever hiking again.) For example, when I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico years ago and joined an “easy” hike, it turned out, well, not so easy. We had to walk across a “narrow bridge” (or as I like to call it, a “tightrope”) that hung about fifty feet over roaring rapids. Everyone made it across, thankfully, while I had to be dragged and carried by two tour guides. That was not the end. Then we had to simply jump across stones in a river. Again - everyone made it across - let’s just say I made it “through” and was very, very wet.
Then there was my time camping in my early twenties. All was well (better than I had expected) until bears circled our camp on our second night there for the food we had left out accidentally. I also returned from that trip beet-red, covered in blisters. Turned out I had third degree burns even though I went through at least three bottles of SPF 80 or so for the two days that we were there.
So, with these ever so wonderful experiences, you can imagine how uncooperative I have been with my husband throughout our marriage whenever he suggested nature hikes. (And he looooooooves them.) We would make a plan, I would actually get there, take five steps and head home. (Sorry, hubby.)
My idea of the perfect hike is a trek uphill through crowded streets like in Downtown L.A., or a walk from the Upper West Side to the East Side of New York City. Anything that involves paved roads (most of the time) and no mountain lions in sight. City life is my idea of “nature.”
So, much to my surprise (well, not really), my husband had had enough of me and told me it was time to “take a hike!” Of course he meant the scenic kind with him included. So, the opportunity arose and I ventured out on my first hike in years.
We joined another family we had met and brought our son as well. We took a hike and I actually liked it.
Of all places, it was in the San Fernando Valley. Ok, above it. Who knew a view of the good ol’ San Fernando Valley could be so beautiful after the rains (there was actually no smog).
We simply took Reseda Boulevard south - way south - past Ventura Boulevard until we hit the trail. It was a beautiful hike up the Santa Monica Mountains. Wow! My son loved it as well. Hubby was a given. The trail was a little steep at first, but great. No mountain lions in sight or cannibals (that I knew of) - just runners, bikers and families like us.
What a great way to start the day. A way that every day should start. I enjoyed my time well-spent in nature (of all places…for me) with great views, great company and a great nap I was hoping would follow, but never did.
So, now when my hubby tells me to “take a hike,” I will - well…if it is the nature trail-type he is talking about…and only if he comes along, of course.
February 19, 2010 | 3:07 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
In the midst of a great picnic at the park with my son the other day, a feeling of gloom engulfed me. I realized my son is doomed…if his future relies on my lunch-packing skills (and we all know that it does).
Staring down at the browning apple slices in a Ziploc bag in his little hands, I let out a shriek and thought, “I’m becoming my mother.”
I had flashbacks to lunching in elementary school and chewing on brown skinless apple slices, while my friends enjoyed their bags of Lays potato chips and canned soda. I tried to enjoy my apple slices and warm thermos-held orange juice…I really did. I just didn’t fit in (and of course it had to do with the uncool lunches I was eating, why else wouldn’t I fit in?)
I was born in Los Angeles to two Euro-Israeli parents, who found a way to keep the Euro-Israeli tradition alive through me, my lunches and the way my mom dressed me to school; very FOB (Fresh Off the Boat…or camel). Not that there is anything wrong with that style, except when other kids are wearing Vans to school and you are wearing Naot and red ones for that matter. ) (Naot -an Israeli clogs/sandal company.) And clogs were just not in in LA in the early 80’s. Clogs were hip among the Israelis and Dutch, but there weren’t many Dutch or Israelis at my elementary school in Van Nuys.
Just like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and her “Moose Kaka” lunch, I had my “Who Moos?” lunches. Hummus (Not pronounced HUM-Miss, by the way.) My mom would pack gigantic pitas stuffed with “Who Moos” (as my friends, or those that made fun of me, called it). In addition to the heaping scoop of hummus, there were also sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with a side of olives and Middle Eastern pickles in a sandwich bag (not the cool dill pickles that all the other native kids were eating). By the time I got around to my lunch in a pita, it would be soggy from the cucumbers and tomatoes. The hummus would turn a little brown and crispy (but that all ended when Mom realized this and packed my sliced veggies separate in Tupperware dishes and added Blue Ice to keep my lunches cool.) (How could my lunches ever really be “cool?” ) I might as well have had a stamp across my foreheard that read “FOB” but who needed the stamp - when my lunches said it all…oh yeah, and the shoes. I was born and raised in LALA land damnit! Doesn’t that count for anything?
To make matters worse - it was not only the contents inside my lunch box that were humiliating, but the box itself. For starters, I had a Donny and Marie Lunch bag (If you don’t know who they are because I am waaaaaaaaaay older or you were just not into fabulous variety shows in the late 70’s, just look them up on Wiki or something.) It was not that I was a fan of Donny and Marie (but who wasn’t back then, right?), but moreso that my mom was. I have got nothing against the Osmonds, but while my friends had Wonder Woman metal boxes (that I actually was hit in the face with because they assumed I was well, uncool. Weird, I know, right?), I had a soft purse-like Donny and Marie lunch box. I was the only one in the entire school that had one. (I actually found a picture of it online and added it to this post for your viewing pleasure and free publicity for the fabulous duo, now a Vegas act.) Just a side note - (no, I never digress and add parenthical after parentical statement) when my brother was born, my father told me his name was Donny, I immediately asked if they were going to change my name to Marie, all because of my lunch
Ironically, no one liked my “cool” lunch bag, but it was stolen one day. I guess someone did like it, or they really wanted to put me out of my misery. So, whomever it was -I thank you. They are probably sitting in jail today for grand theft auto. Yes, Van Nuys wasn’t a great neighborhood back then either, go figure. (After the year of the stolen lunch bag, I was thrown into private school - a much better experience in a corrupt private school that I’m surprised was never shut down, as they washed children’s mouths out with soap and made us march and sing to their theme song daily - Pinecrest. If you know the song join in- “Pinecrest is the very best…”, but it wasn’t.)
Again, I digress. The good news is - that after my D & M box was revoked, retired or stolen (however you look at it), I was given a replacement. It was all downhill from there. How could it possible get any worse? But it did. I got a new bag, not box, because I had enough of the metal box deal with the scar that was forming at that point on my face from some little Camobodian girl with a strong swing and a cool Wonder Woman lunch box. My new bag was shipped directly from, yup you guessed it: Israel. Woohoo! I couldn’t wait to open the package my Aunt had sent. And there it was. A shiny new red leather purse? To match my tacky shoes? I flipped it over. On the other side it had a picture of a “Sabra” (an edible cactus delicacy in Israel - what else does one eat in the desert -sand?) and if that weren’t enough, it read : From Israel With Love. Come on! If Donny and Marie left me a scar for years on my right cheek (yes, I still remember which side it was on) what now, did my family want me to get shot. (Cambodians obviously weren’t fans of Donny and Marie, what would make my mom think they would be fans of Israel?)
So, this red leather purse was a lunch bag that one was to wear draped across the chest and one shoulder. Picture the Euro-Man look with his man purse. (Not that there is anything wrong with that…IN EUROPE, not here.) (Besides, all Italian men are exceptionally good looking, well, most of them. They can wear a Tutu as far as I’m concerned and look “manly”...but I’m still not a fan of the man purse.) Now I had one IN RED, to carry my lunch in.
So, I did as I was told, cheek scarred and all. I carried my soggy hummus pita bread sandwiches, browning apples, a banana and if I was lucky, Ruffles potato chips in a sandwich bag that often smelled of the banana packed along with it. If I was super lucky that day, I got fifty cents for the coke machine to buy a Welch’s grape soda (that went perfectly with Mid-Eastern cuisine).
Thankfully my red leather lunch bag was never stolen and other kids actually thought it was cool or was the word “neat” back then? Really? Ok. It didn’t matter to me that they weren’t cool themselves, of course. My aunt has never sent me another package since then, either. Go figure.
I have long since forgiven my mom for her choices of lunch items and taught her the ways of the white bread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Costco potato chip variety pack (I think it was Sam’s Club back then or Fedco…I know, I am OLD).
I can only hope that I don’t traumatize my son the way my mom did. At the same time I’m also thankful to the new veggie movement and Trader Joes for making Hummus mainstream. I’ll just pack it for him in between two slices of white bread. And for the record - it is not pronounced ‘HUM miss.’ Please let Trader Joes know. Thank you and thanks to the little Cambodian girl that taught me that different isn’t always good…but sometimes it is.
February 15, 2010 | 1:28 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I never thought I would do it. Join a group? Not me. Even a group such as Holistic Moms that goes against the grain (no pun intended) is still a group. And groups are, well, just not my thing. Once someone joins a group, there is no end in sight. Then there are twelve steps, sponsors, and life long addictions to groups that well outweigh the initial addiction the person came there with in the first place. Is there a “Groupies Anonymous?” (And NO, I am not knocking twelve step programs or twelve-steppers in any way, shape, or form, just to clarify.) As an ex-psychotherapist and group therapist, I guess I have developed an intolerance for “groups” or needing to become part of something to feel I belong, but even I caved in and joined a G-R-O-U-P.
I joined the Holistic Moms Network. (Now when I say I am going to “my meeting”...I can keep everyone guessing - “Is she an alcoholic, a drug user?” No, just a mom - and a holistic mom now, officially).
I headed to my first meeting and knew I was in the right place as I pulled up to the Prius-filled lot. I was glad that even though I did not own a Prius, at least I wasn’t pulling up in a gas-guzzling SUV or minivan. I was hoping I was just holistic enough to join. At that point, I thought I should’ve ridden up on a bike, instead, but hopefully they would not notice as I quickly got out of my car and headed inside.
I had met a few moms from the Holistic Moms Network at an Eco fair a few weekends ago, and we hit it off…I was just hoping that these moms were just as cool. And lo-and-behold, minus one mom who yelled at her kid as I headed up the parking lot (who as it turns out was not part of the group, but leaving the building the meeting was held in), all the mothers were great.
I was happy to have found a group that thinks the way I do. Now, my far-out ideas about knocking out “cookie cutter preschools” were not so far out. And when I say I am eating a bacon cheeseburger, other moms understand that there is no bacon, cheese or even a burger in my sandwich, but merely “facon,” soy cheese and a veggie burger. I found other moms that felt the same way and that I could actually share my Trader Joe’s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with (besides my son and husband – they enjoy them as well). Where have these moms been hiding? Because they obviously don’t hand out at the same parks that I do. I haven’t had any luck at those. I must have been hanging around all the wrong parks.
So, all my attempts to avoid groups has proven me wrong. Does that make me a groupie? This is just the beginning…
February 12, 2010 | 4:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means. Overpriced chocolates and flowers? Yes. But even more so – yet another Jewish dilemma. (Another one? Of course.) To celebrate or not to celebrate…that is the question. And I have the answer…well sort of.
Wikipedia states (and we know that Wikipedia is a valid resource…sometimes) that “The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD.”
So, does that make Valentine’s Day a non-Jewish holiday? Perhaps as it was once intended to be, but thanks to good ol’ Hallmark, 1800 Flowers and See’s Candies, I somehow think the original meaning has been lost.
Valentine’s Day has since become a day of frazzled boyfriends, husbands, or partners scurrying about to find that last minute heart-shaped box of chocolates, overpriced roses and even dinner reservations at the eating establishment of their significant other’s choice with a preset dinner menu at a hefty price just to prove their love and affection. (Because how else does one prove their love and affection if not with chocolates and on Feb. 14th every year.)
The way I see it; if you have any doubt that celebrating Valentine’s Day is for you (and why shouldn’t chocolate be eaten the other 364 days of the year as well?), celebrate it anyway. Why not? Celebrate it the day after. Your significant other will still think it was sweet, if he/she is not already upset, thinking that you missed Valentine’s Day. And just think…you can even purchase your flowers at regular price (actually afford a dozen) and get your chocolates at fifty percent off. In fact you won’t be a step behind everyone else, but a step ahead. You weren’t the fool who paid full price…but it is what everyone else is doing, so if you want to fit in…you may want to sport the extra money for a bouquet the day of.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day or rather Happy Good-Luck-Getting-Dinner-Reservations, Finding-Affordable-Bouquets, Heart-Shaped-Boxed-Chocolate-Eating, Robbins-Brothers’-Engagement-Ring-Blow-Out-Sale Shopping Day. And for those that do not celebrate it – Happy Singles Appreciation Day or Happy February Fourteenth with love and heart shaped things – Jew Mama.
February 8, 2010 | 5:52 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I can’t believe my next door neighbor finally put up blinds. What was she thinking? Who would look in anyway at her spotless counter tops, orchid centerpiece-clad dining room table and awesome bright green mixer that I’m sure actually holds eight cups of flour when making challah dough and doesn’t droop over the sides like mine?
Who would look in and notice her late night cleaning frenzies, duster in one hand, Pledge furniture spray in the other, dressed in Juicy Couture sweats clearly not made for dusting and home cleaning?
Ok, so I admit it. I have actually looked in once or twice…or more. I actually can’t help it, in fact – there is a clear, unobstructed view outside my front door, minus the greenery and hedges that guard as a gate between us. So I admit – I stare, but let me explain…it’s not without good reason and I don’t stare for long, afraid she’ll notice and think I’m a voyeur, which I’m not – to clarify. Hence the blinds purchase? Nah.
Let me explain (in case my neighbor is reading this and before she puts out a restraining order). I don’t really stare…ok, maybe a little. But it is clearly because I am jealous of her immaculate home and cleaning frenzies. Granted, she lives alone; no partner, children, pets, roommates or any others that I can see through her dining room window. So, how much of a mess can one person make, really? But still.
It all started innocently (my peeking in, that is). Many nights, my husband comes home late (or early, depending on if you see the glass half full or empty; like 4:00 am), being that he is a musician. I am left at home with my son and there is only so much straightening around here I can do after he is asleep. I am not a fan of cleaning, unlike my neighbor, so you can imagine my sense of awe when one night I stepped out of my front door to water my plants (at approximately midnight, because I don’t sleep) and saw her cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning what appeared to be an already spotless home. I will admit that it took me much longer to water my plants that night. As I stood there soaked almost knee-high in a mud puddle, I was inspired.
So I quickly returned home, trailed in the mud and started cleaning. (Starting first with the trail of mud, of course.)
From that night on, whenever I felt the need for inspiration or just simply felt alone (after tucking my son in for the night), I would head out my front door and water my plants that are now dying (can too much water kill a plant?) and stare, I mean - peek in to my neighbor’s, who just as I suspected was cleaning or cooking. I even thought of taking up smoking, just so that I had a reason to stand outside my front door for a good moment or two.
I didn’t think she ever noticed me…until now. The blinds say it all. Now, what do I do…where do I find the inspiration? I guess I will just give up on cleaning altogether or see if my neighbors on the other side are tidy. No…that would just be wrong.
February 4, 2010 | 4:12 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I feel that I owe my son an apology for yesterday. Although I didn’t do anything major as far as things go that merit apologies, I still feel I owe him one. (Yes, I will read it to him.) So here it goes:
First off, I apologize for getting up after you, whipping up a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and chocolate milk, only to lay back on the living room couch and doze off for a few minutes more while Handy Manny on the tube kept you company.
Then to make matters worse, when I got up I took an extended shower (although I did jump out several times to make sure you and Handy Manny were ok - even though our carpet was not - drenched from my sporadic leaps out of the shower). Of course I had to make up the time I lost under the shower head. I thank you and Handy Manny for your patience, and I apologize.
I am also sorry that after the shower I needed to fold and put away yesterday’s laundry that covered my bedroom floor in baskets. It probably would have sat around longer - if you and I weren’t out of clean clothes. The good news is you and I both were out of our pajamas before noon.
I also want to apologize that by this time, it was time to start preparing lunch. But first, I had to empty the dishes and reload the dishwasher with dirty ones. I know you really wanted to go to Universal Studios today (again with our annual passes) and that was the plan. I was trying to get things done as fast as I could, but during and after lunch I had to return a couple of calls and emails for work and ended up chatting for a little bit too long.
I also apologize for the time I spent on Facebook, but it was look-your-name-up-on-urbandicitionary.com day and I couldn’t help but be curious about my own name. Who knew that “Mihal” without a “c” meant - “one who eats butterfly wings?” But, I digress…again. By the time I was done eating butterfly wings and Facebooking (no, I don’t really eat butterfly wings…I’m a vegetarian), it was getting late.
It was already well after four o’clock and you were content playing with your Leapster - I didn’t want to interrupt and figured I could use this time to finish up a story that I was working on. And after all, at this point where would we go? Universal Studios closes at six. And it is almost time to get dinner ready, bath and bed time.
So, please please forgive me for yesterday and/or other days that end up that way. I don’t mean for them to, they just do. I apologize and I hope you can and will forgive me. I promise to take you to Universal Studios today…if it doesn’t rain and just as soon as I finish writing this.