Posted by Mihal Levy
I don’t fit in a box…a Jewish box, that is. I don’t neatly fit into a category, classification or type. I am not a check box on an application nor can I describe myself in multiple choice, yet why am I constantly asked to do so?
Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservadox, Conservative, Traditional, Reform, Reconstructionist, New Age, a Jew for Jesus or even Space-Age Scientelogically Jewish. Can everyone be classified in neat little categories that identify complex beliefs or ever changing beliefs? Can’t one go from God-fearing to not even believing in a matter of minutes? Does that mean your classification should change with your changing thoughts? Are human beings not complex? Are we better understood simplified or stupified?
I recently have had the opportunity to meet different types of Jewish moms through homeschooling groups with my son. Everyone seems to identify with one precise category. I find myself changing mine wherever I go - because otherwise it would take hours for me to explain who I was and my belief system. It can not just be described with one word or type. I have even thought about the “elevator pitch” description of my affiliation - who am I? It would just have to be an extremely long elevator ride.
Isn’t it better, therefore to remain category-less, indescribable, even modest about one’s beliefs. After all isn’t modesty key in Judaism? What is so modest after all about wearing my belief on my sleeve (or long sleeves below the elbow, rather)?
Next time I am asked what my religious beliefs are…I will just answer, “Jewish” and that should be good enough…well, with hints of Buddhism and Existential angst of course.
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October 8, 2010 | 12:21 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I missed an episode of Glee this week and was disappointed, until I watched it online (most of it) and was even more disappointed.
I have been a huge Gleek and not ashamed to admit it. I have gone to great lengths to watch every episode. (Rushing to put my son to bed earlier and earlier even without dinner. Ok, shorter dinners or late lunches.) I have almost met the entire cast and have nearly kissed the ground Ryan Murphy has walked on (only was too embarrassed to do it at the time, as I was walking away from chatting with him.) I still am a fan of Ryan Murphy (although I have not seen Eat Pray Love, because I can not see Julia in a role other than a Beverly Hills call girl or cooking up pizzas – I just dated myself.), although I am not sure I am still a fan of Glee.
I cannot believe I said that, but now that it is out in the open, let me elaborate. I liked Glee last season for its themes; ‘love for the underdog’, ‘we are all equal’ and even ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be sexy’. Although the themes linger on, I am not sure the plot lines (when there is a plot) do it justice.
I think Glee’s writing is often brilliant. The one-liners, snarky comments and “I can’t believe they went there” moments are what keep it great. But this season it seems they are looking more to gimmicks than to character driven plots. And how much more can you do with Rachel Berry? Where does she go from here? Perhaps one will find out.
The season opener was mediocre at best. The second Britney Spears episode seemed like it was a random selection of Britney’s music and spoofy videos sans plot. I was thoroughly disappointed when I could not get into the third episode “Grilled Cheesus.”
In “Grilled Cheesus.” Finn makes himself a grilled cheese sandwich only to find an image of the big J (also known as the man who walked on water) on his burnt toast. Really?
I could not watch the rest of the episode after Finn and his holy toast go on a spiritual mission. Asking his holy toast to grant him wishes like getting to first base (or was it second?) with his girlfriend. I wish I could follow but everything after the J-toast made me a non-believer of the show.
I wish I could say that I was a Jewish fan, so that I could be considered a “Chew for Cheesus.” (What was amazing to me, however, was how they were able to get that image on the toast in the first place. I can’t get my $15 Mickey Mouse toast stamp from Disneyland to ever work.)
I want to continue my Gleekiness, but I feel at this point the Cheesusness has gotten a bit out of hand. I am sure the writers have not run out of ideas. But if they have…Murphy, Brennan and Falchuk, please call me…I have got some ideas. They do not involve grilled cheesus, though. I am a vegetarian and I do not do dairy. I hope you don’t mind.
October 7, 2010 | 10:30 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
I am a single mother for most of the time.
My husband is a professional musician, which also makes him a touring musician, therefore making me a touring musician’s wife, also known as a single mother.
More often than not, I am a single mother. A part time single mother. I am in no way comparing myself to full time single mothers (or single fathers), but thoroughly understand them and have always had a great respect for single parents, but even moreso now.
Presently my husband is on the road (which, for those of you who do not know, is slang for traveling from place to place by plane, van, bus, car and/or on foot faster than the wife at home can keep track of). He comes back tomorrow and leaves again Saturday night. The good news is that he will be home for a bit. The bad news is that he is home for only a bit. He is also not home when he is home, since he will be at rehearsals all day until late preparing for his leave again on Saturday.
What this all means is that I appear to the world as a single mom. I am starting to think of myself that way too. My son goes everywhere with me and of course I go everywhere with him (although I’m debating letting him borrow my car at the age of four so he can have some alone time from mom).
I attend most family functions, celebrations, dinner parties and father/son activities with my son sans his father. Last weekend we attended a kid’s birthday party together (my son and I). Every child was there with both parents, including one child who was there with both of his fathers. Where are all the single mothers/fathers? Hello?
Every decision I make is my own. There is no one to reassure me, help me decide, or blatantly let me know when I am wrong. No diverting to “Go ask your father.” And I have to do jobs around the house that frankly are not mine - like opening jars even when I can not, rebuilding broken Lego castles, teaching my son paradiddles on his drum pad and functioning as the bottom wrestler in a wrestling match when my son decides it is time to play rough. (Clearly a father duty –this one.)
I knew what I was getting into when I married my husband, only I did not think I would be wiping off the remnants of cupcake frosting from my keyboard at my job (left over from my son, not myself) while my husband enjoys specially cooked entrees at the venues where he performs while “meeting and greeting” people backstage at his.
It would not be difficult, however, if the people around me did not tell me that it must be. “It must be difficult.” “How do you do it? I could never do it.” “How tough for you.”
I may be teaching my son incorrect drum patterns and unable to eat olives from a jar that can not be opened. But the moments I spend with my son are worth it regardless of my olive-less dinners. Each moment brings us closer. It is just the two of us on this adventure together and I am enjoying every minute of single mommyhood…until my hubby gets home. And I know I will enjoy the time with my husband (and eating olives) when he comes home. When is this tour over again?
September 28, 2010 | 5:09 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
There I was at the usual place, usual time, and usual day of the week, doing the usual while watching the most unusual spectacle. I was at Target shopping for superfluous items on my shopping list (How many more windex wipes do I really need?), and there she was. A brand new Mama (I bet), feeding her less than four-month-old infant hand sanitizer. Yes, hand sanitizer.
An interesting choice of drinks I thought, just as Mommy yelled at the new born to “stop drinking the cleanser.” Did Mommy Dearest think that her daugther would know better when she was the one who inserted the ‘closed’ bottle of hand sanitizer in her mouth to stop her crying. What was she thinking?
I watched as Mommy Dearest interacted (or barely interacted, rather) with her daughter. I stood close by with my son who was browsing through the books. She was sipping her ice blended coffee drink, while awaiting her digital photos to print (what is it with these moms and their iced coffee drinks?) She was clearly more interested in her iced coffee than her child’s safety. Her daughter was getting restless in the shopping cart as she sat trapped in her car seat surrounded by miscellaneous items from Target. She started crying. Go figure. Boredom? Hunger? Claustrophobia? Or a little of all three?
Instead of reaching into her gigantic bag o’ goodies (a.k.a. her diaper bag), she reached into the cart and shuffled through the ruff until she found the perfect pacifier; a small bottle of hand sanitizer. (It was a closed bottle of hand sanitizer of course.) She placed it in the infant’s mouth and carried on shuffling through digital photos she was printing. I was in shock, but held back from saying anything. What makes me the all-knowing mother who knows what is right for someone else’s child anyhow? But, hand sanitizer? I kept my mouth shut, (barely) as I watched the infant soothe herself by sucking on the Purell bottle cap. I wanted to yank the bottle out of the infant’s little chubby fingers, but decided against it.
Then the infant began sucking louder and louder. Hoping to have her lunch, be it sanitizer even. Then she began to cry. (Why wasn’t this new bottle working?) Mama needed help. I tried to stop staring at the spectacle as I read with my son now. Finally, Mommy Dearest reached into her huge diaper bag (what was in there and why wasn’t she using any of it for her daughter?). She pulled out a large bottle of formula and waved it in front of her daughter’s face, as if teasing her. The infant reached for it and kicked her legs with glee. (I was about to do the same.) Mama placed the bottle in her mouth for a mere five seconds. And just when the baby seemed to settle, Mommy yanked the bottle our of her hands, recapped it and placed it back in the diaper bag. Instantaneously the infant starting crying again, only this time it was much louder. At this point I was not sure if the infant was crying because she actually wanted the milk bottle or had just realized that she was stuck with Mommy Dearest for the long haul.
Mommy reached back for the bottle of Purell and placed it in the child’s mouth. I was livid. Why couldn’t she drink the milk? Why did she tease her with it? Was she saving it to add to her own Frappuccino later? I had to say something. (I kept telling myself: Mihal, don’t do it, don’t do it.) So, I didn’t….not yet anyway.
I didn’t have to. Surprisingly, (not really) the Purell bottle cap flew open and the infant stopped immediately as she had her first taste of hand sanitizer. (Surprise, surprise.) Without any remorse for having literally fed her daughter the sanitizer, Mommy yelled, “Now look what you’ve done.” (What she’s done?) The mom wiped the baby’s chin of Purell (luckily she hadn’t swallowed its entire content). The infant screamed louder and louder. I had to butt in now. “Hold on, hold on!” the mother kept shouting.
I placed my son in the shopping cart. And since there was no Purell in sight to entertain him, I let him choose a book to read instead. I headed over to Mommy Dearest angrily. All the while thinking about what I was going to say. Perhaps, “Excuse me, but maybe next time you should try the hand sanitizer and give her your Frappuccino instead.” But instead, I walked over to the mom excused myself and said, “Now that she is sanitized, perhaps it is finally time for that bottle of milk. I’m just saying.” I didn’t wait for a response.
Mommy gave me an angry look as she reached in her gigantic bag for the bottle again. Mommy was clearly angry, but baby was finally happy…and so was I.
September 27, 2010 | 10:35 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
What better way to know if a movie is child-worthy than to hear it from a child? My son reviewed the movie Alpha and Omega as we left the theatre ten minutes early for a refill on popcorn that was clearly more interesting than the movie itself. I will let my four year old son’s review speak for itself.
Before the movie, he was excited and hopeful: “I can’t wait to see Alpha and Omega. They are cute wolves - I hope they end up together and not separate, though.” (I wanted to guarantee him that would probably happen, but I did not want to spoil the movie.)
Here’s what mini-Levy had to say (A Q & A with my son):
Jew Mama: “Did you like Alpha And Omega?”
Son: I am disappointed. The movie isn’t what I thought it would be; no funny parts, no music and not so many cute characters. Really, you know, I think it was boring. Why did they have to hurt the wolves and take them away? It makes me sad. This should be for kids, but I don’t think it is.”
JM: Why do you think it was boring?
Son: I don’t know. You have to ask the people that made the movie - they made it that way - boring!
JM: What would you tell other kids if they asked if they should see the movie?
Son: I would tell them - No…but the popcorn was tasty.
See, I told you so…but why take it from me? Take it from a four year old.
September 26, 2010 | 11:00 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
With each passing day, my son astounds me more and more. Where does he come up with the things he says? I used to write it all down, as I am sure every mom has at one point or another, usually during the child’s first year when everything is so exciting. “He smiled.” “He rolled over.” “He grabbed his rattle.” “He ate his first solid meal…” Then something gets lost in the second, third and fourth year of life (and so on and so on). It’s just too much trouble to grab a pen and write it all down. There are too many other things taking up Mommy’s time. There are so many excuses and not enough time. I regret not keeping track of all his “milestones” and quotes for a while.
This week, however, I decided to pay attention and keep a record.
Here are some quotes from my son this week, along with the milestone of eating his first hot dog ever. (Isn’t that considered a milestone?) Well, not a real hot dog, according to some, but a tofu dog. I just don’t believe that nitrates and extraneous ground-up animal parts thrown in a bun should be included in a four year old’s diet (that’s just my opinion, however). There will be plenty of time for him to disagree with me later, I am sure.
Enough about the hot dog, here are deep thoughts by my four year old:
1) “Mommy, I wish you were four years old, like me, so we can play together, get big together and marry each other when we are old enough.” How Freudian of him and right on target.
2) “After we reach one hundred years old, do we start all over again from one and become babies?”
3) “How come doctors can’t help everyone…like your Daddy? They should help everyone, really.”
Then there are negotiations:
4) “Why do I have to do things that I don’t want to do? If I don’t want to become a fireman, I don’t have to, right? Then if I don’t want to eat broccoli, I
don’t have to, right?”
5) My son: “I’m not done yet.”
Me: “When will you be done?”
My son: “I will let you know.”
Me: “Will it be a long time from now?”
My son: “Maybe forever…like when I ask you to play with me and you don’t because you are not done yet…and you are still not done now.”
And quotes about the future:
6) “I want to be a superhero when I grow up, so that I can save the day…even though super heros are not real.” And lastly…
7) “When I grow up I want to be a rock star, but I don’t want to be in my Daddy’s band, he can be in mine…if I let him.”
What’s in store for next week? Hot dog #2, perhaps.
September 16, 2010 | 12:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I feel like a bad mother. I put my son in harm’s way. I took him to the L.A. Zoo. I know the animals are caged, but what about the bees? Bees at the zoo? Who knew?
According to the warning sign at the entrance of the zoo, there were bees. “Stinging bees.” And for some reason, I decided to purchase tickets anyway. What was I thinking?
Since my son was born we have been members of the L.A. Zoo, allowing us to go as often as we would like, so we did. I am not sure if I am a fan of caged animals taken out of their natural habitat, but we went regardless while I pondered this dilemma. We always had a good time walking around and seeing the animals. He loved it. This year for some reason we did not join the L.A. Zoo, mainly because we had a lot of other things going on and he is no longer at the age that I can just wear him in a sling, walk around, point at the animals, mimick the sounds they make (giraffes - that was a difficult one), take a souvenir photo and come home. Since it had been a while, I decided a visit was long overdue.
We got to the zoo and it was hot, not scorching hot, just hot. I figured with sunscreen, hats and lots of water we would be fine. I didn’t think to wear a hooded bee veil and suit and to dress my son in one either, but probably should have.
We got up to the ticket window. I paid the admission and saw signs that read “Beware of STINGING bees.” I don’t know why I did not take this seriously and ask for a refund then and there. We continued on to the entrance. I asked the attendant about the stinging bees. She said they were only around the trash cans. I explained to my son that we were not going to throw away any trash, but instead bring it all back home with us…thinking this would keep us safe. On our journey into the zoo, we were welcomed by a swarm of bees buzzing around that seemed to follow us throughout the park. I know you are not supposed to, but I was swatting them away from my son. How else was I supposed to protect him from the bees? Oh, right, leave the zoo.
As we made our way toward the animals, signs were posted everywhere that animals were either sick or hiding due to the heat (or was it due to the infestation of bees?). At this point, I figured I would take him to the play area, eat the food we brought and call it a day. As we neared the playground, I saw bees everywhere. Parents were swatting them and grabbing their children, moving from one side of the play area to the other. We were surrounded by bees as well. I decided this was enough. How were we going to make our way out now with all the bees around? They were not just around the trash cans, but also around our packed hummus pita sandwiches. (Did they have a thing against Middle-Easterners?)
I plopped my son into his stroller and literally ran out of the park down the hill. My theory was that if I was faster than the bees, they couldn’t sting us. (The heat was really getting to me, as you can tell.) We made it out of the zoo after we had spent maybe a half-hour there altogether. A half-hour too long. In our half-hour struggle, we failed to see any animals except for one meerkat and some flamingos that probably escaped the wrath of the bees. The smell resonating from flamingos must have deterred the bees. Maybe I should have hung out next to them the whole time, or maybe I should have trusted my instincts and not gone in at all. Thankfully, we escaped unscathed and un-stung, but obviously unimpressed.
September 15, 2010 | 12:50 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I think I am ready to tell my Vegas story now. What happens in Vegas truly stays in Vegas…on the bathroom door of the hotel room, apparently, which was the start of my Rosh Hashanah/birthday week in Vegas.
I headed to Las Vegas with my mother, husband and son last week to ring in the new year and celebrate my birthday, because what better way to atone for one’s sins than in Sin City itself? By the way, whoever says Vegas is crowded on New Year’s Eve was wrong, at least that wasn’t my experience for the Jewish New Year. (That is what they were talking about, right?)
We arrived in Las Vegas with plenty of time to settle in before the chag, so that we could truly spend some time celebrating. Not in the way others probably celebrate in Vegas. Does spending time in the Apple Store almost every day at the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops count? Thanks to my son and the heat, that is where he and my husband spent most of their time, while I snuck over to the MAC store across the way.
We checked into our hotel and made the mile trek from the parking lot to our room. My son, husband and I settled in…well, almost, until I made my way to the bathroom. And there it was: remnants of something I probably should not have witnessed. The bathroom door was splattered in…wait for it…what appeared to be….dried blood. Yes, dried blood. I am making an educated guess here, because I would only get so close to the door itself. (Mind you, we stayed in a well-known upscale Vegas hotel. I can’t imagine what one would find at a dive motel.) I stared at the horrid splattering of blood and instead of calling the front desk to have us moved, my mind wandered. There has got to be an interesting story here, I thought. And I will spare you the details of where my mind wandered as I envisioned a night in Vegas in the hotel room. The possibilities were endless. Thankfully, my thoughts were interrupted by my husband, since there was not enough time to write a screenplay, novel or short story (and TV and film are inundated with vampire sagas already). There was a lot to be done before the holiday. My husband called the front desk and we headed out for another half-mile hike with our suitcases to the registration area.
We cut in front of the line of anxious tourists wheeling in their suitcases, itching to gamble their Euros away. We felt our issue was more of a priority at the moment. (My apologies to the French folks we cut off, who were trying to come up with a coherent sentence while using their electronic phrase books. I would have helped translate, really, but I took Spanish in high school.)
The front desk attendant greeted us. He must have had short-term memory loss because he had greeted us only moments before when we checked in, but nonetheless he greeted us yet again. “Hi, checking in? How can I help you?”
“We’d like a new room. There is blood on our bathroom door.”
“Blood on our…”
“No, I heard you. I just…let me call my manager and see what I can do.” What he can do? How about changing our room? An upgrade? A complimentary post-traumatic therapy session? And then he returned. “Ok, we have a new room for you. Sorry about that.” And he handed us two new room keys.
‘Sorry about that?’ How Vegas of him to apologize for evidence of some crime scene and blow it off as if we had just complained about our pillows not being fluffed enough. But what could I expect? The line of anxious tourists were waiting to take in breathtaking views of smoke-filled casinos, brightly-lit marquees and ads above taxis advertising guns, discounted women and buffets.
Needless to say, we did not let the incident stand in our way. We had plenty of time to have fun in Vegas, and by fun, I mean walking from hotel to hotel comparing the shops and imaginary skylines. We even had time to take in the games at Circus Circus for my son, of course, since according to him, “there are too many adult games and not enough kid ones.” I would have to agree with him. I enjoyed watching my son play games and win stuffed animals that he really did not want in the first place and I don’t know what to do with (I am not going to call it the precursor to gambling). I would have enjoyed my time more if I did not have a fear of clowns and circuses in general (but that is a whole other article). I am happy that we did manage to keep my son away from all things typically “Vegas.” He missed the blood-splattered bathroom door and ads for discounted “women.” (Yes, that is not a typo. Perhaps due to the recession, there needs to be a discount on those services as well.) He also missed the gun ads, the half-naked women on marquees and Barry Manilow. I am thankful that in the end, this trip did not turn into homeschooling about gambling, drinking and the oldest profession around. To him, Vegas was “cool.” Vegas was Circus Circus and the Apple Store.
He was disappointed, however, that on my birthday, my husband ordered a vegan carrot cake from a local bakery instead of a princess cake. (So, we will have to order one of those soon to make up for that Vegas trauma.)
Overall, we had a great time ringing in the new year and my birthday as well, without leaving any money behind (to be honest, I did leave some at the MAC counter, but that doesn’t count).
With the exception of my new eyeshadow and a collection of stuffed animals that will end up collecting dust somewhere in our home, everything else truly stayed in Vegas…as it should.