Posted by Mihal Levy
I can understand the concept of a nanny when there is no other choice, but when there is one it just seems a little too much. A few days ago, I encountered another one of these “situations” and again I was horrified, or better yet: nannified.
There I was with my son again at the Lego store in Glendale. My son was building a Lego wonderland at one of the play stations when out of nowhere appeared two well-behaved boys (less than one year old and probably a little over two years old) who began playing alongside my son. Soon after the boys came in, a woman followed who I thought was their mother (I never know these things; I just assume that once in a while one can witness children with their mother at the mall), and I wasn’t disappointed because right behind THAT woman was Jamba Juice-sipping, Urban Outfitters bag-carrying mother.
The nanny quickly rushed to watch the boys play alongside my son. The boys’ mom took a seat at one of the Lego stations searching her Blackberry and sipping her juice. The nanny looked tired trying to keep both boys from fighting with each other over the Lego pieces. All of a sudden, mom walked over to the nanny. “Did you feed them their peanut butter sandwiches?” The nanny responded that she hadn’t yet, because she hasn’t had time and thought it would be better for them to eat after they played. The mom responded casually with an “Okay, whatever you think is best.” And explained to the nanny that she would be sitting outside of the store because she couldn’t handle all the noise. All the noise? There were a total of three children in the entire store (my son and the two boys) who were playing quietly and building.
The nanny smiled at the mom. “Sure,” she said. “Please relax.” But her smile soon faded after mommy turned and walked outside. I glanced over at the nanny and smiled. She did not smile back. I could not imagine what was going through her mind. (I really wanted to know.) The mother came back a few moments later and asked the nanny, “Do you think they have played long enough?” The nanny responded that they needed some more time to play. WIthout saying a word, almost robotically, Mom walked back out of the store.
There was never any interaction between Mom and the boys, not even a mere “hello” or hug. Mom was in her own world of crushed frozen fruit, apparently. The nanny looked tired and angry. Was it really necessary to bring a nanny along to the mall? Could she not have had the day off since Mom was around with time to assume responsibility? And why was it necessary to even have kids that you have someone else look after? I couldn’t understand. I never really get it. Why have a nanny if Mom is around? When does Mom get her duties back and nanny gets the day off?
If moms have nannies when they don’t really need one, shouldn’t nannies have nannies when they do? I never see moms with their children in public any more. Am I the only one? Just then, my thoughts were interrupted as the nanny was leaving and glanced over my way, “We have a tough job, us nannies. Don’t we?” I guess that answered my question.
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July 27, 2010 | 11:00 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
When it comes to marriage, it’s true what people say…it takes work. Sometimes a lot of work. Especially early on, even before the actual wedding. But knowing that is half the battle. I wish someone warned me before I got into this mess. And by “mess” I don’t mean my actual marriage to my husband, but all the extraneous stressors from extended family. I thought I would share with you some simple pointers so you don’t make the same mistakes I made.
1) When your fiancé explains that he wants to skip the fancy wedding and just elope on some romantic secluded island, just the two of you, accept his proposal and make his wish come true. Because after every one and their mother joins in with helping you plan your wedding (without permission), the extra guests THEY would like to invite and the embarrassment they cause you at the actual wedding is just not worth the hassle. Especially that family member you bend over backwards for when she wants to include a few extra guests that she doesn’t even acknowledge throughout your wedding - guests you don’t know and who don’t even bring a gift. In the end she is probably not worth bending over backwards for, because she most likely won’t even acknowledge you at her wedding or save you a piece of cake. (Who wanted it anyway? It probably had cat hair in it.)
2) Know that early on in the marriage when you try to please everyone else in your family to keep the peace that you shouldn’t. There was never any peace to begin with. It was just covered up better when they were trying to impress you at the beginning.
3) When you partake in extended family dinners and you are not served like everyone else there, don’t take it personally and wonder what you did to upset that person, just leave…and never look back.
4) Know that the one person in your extended family is and will always be the center of attention, even though it’s due to that person’s drama-stirring abilities. Allow that person to take center stage while you and your husband vacation in Mexico or as far away as possible.
5) Don’t state your opinion ever to extended family members, because your opinion will always be wrong.
6) Don’t answer any “How do you feel about this?” open-ended advisory questions. Your answer will be wrong.
7) When you follow your heart and do as you feel, don’t. You will be wrong. (i.e.: If you send that birthday gift out, do not expect one in return or an acknowledgement that yours was even received.)
8) Guilt may play an important factor on your end, but not anyone else’s.
9) When you are asked to arrive early for family pictures at a family function, know it is to watch others get photographed. Bring an iPod or Sudoku.
10) Love the one you’re with…because that is what truly matters.
July 15, 2010 | 10:00 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
You know those uncomfortable moments when you cringe after having just said something that you probably should not have, but it just comes out? Those moments where you wish you could just hit rewind and take back what you just said? Well, that moment is magnified when it is your child who has perfect comedic timing in a given situation, where you don’t know if to laugh, laugh it off, or run for the hills. (That’s of course if you care what someone else thinks at the moment.) My son and I tend to have a lot of them. I just think it is comedic genius, others not so much.
I bought my son new sand toys before we headed out to our Jewish park day to socialize with other homeschooling parents. I thought coming in with new sand toys might help the other kids acclimate quickly and even help me fit in with the other parents. Apparently my plan worked, because as soon as we got to the park, the other children ran over to the perfect pail to make soup. Mud soup of course. My son was accepted quickly. Myself, however, that was a different story. (I don’t know what they had against me. They just preferred not acknowledging me…ever. )
My son gladly gave up his pail to the older kids when he was ordered to, as they sent off the other four and five-year-olds to gather the “ingredients.” The little kids left and came back with the ingredients they collected for the soup. Rocks that were apparently vegetables, sand granules that were anything from spices to chicken to soap (go figure) and then my son’s ingredient: ham.
Ham? My son ran over to the crowded pail and handed over his ingredient and said, “Here you go. Ham.” The kids stopped what they were doing. The moms now glared at me with an “of course” look in their eyes. They were observant women and there I was in pants (not wearing my affiliation on my sleeve or my pants for that matter) with a son adding ham to a soup. They looked at me as if my son had just told them he was Mel Gibson.
I looked at my son in great surprise and started laughing because I thought it was perfect. I already stood out like a sore thumb, regardless of the many times I tried to fit in; what was one more point against me?
He surely did not get it from me. To begin with, I am a vegetarian and practically raise him as one as well. He has never seen ham, or had ham. We would never bring ham into our home. Now the moms grew furious at my laughter. I couldn’t imagine what was going through their heads. Maybe they were thinking that I really wasn’t Jewish after all and that it was all a setup just to be part of their park day. If I fed my son ham, what else must I be doing? Reading out of the Satanic Bible? (No, that was during my teenage years.) They now had good reason not to associate with me. After all, I must’ve fed my son ham and that would make me a very bad Jew. Did they fear that I would try to feed ham to their children at the park? I was very much an outsider before, and now fully. Would I be banned from park day?
I was just as curious as they were. Where did my son learn about ham? So I walked over and pulled him aside. For one, to thank him for his perfect comedic timing; and two, for giving the observant moms a real reason to hate me. (Besides my pants.) And I dared asked, “what is ham?” To which he replied, “a food.” I further probed, “where did you learn about ham?” He replied with a straight face, “from Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham.”
I wanted to tell him not to put the ham into the soup, but it was too late. The ham (a.k.a. sticks) made it into the soup as the other mothers made their way out of the sandbox. One mother even went as far as saying, “Now we can’t eat it.” Was she going to eat it before? It had soap in it. Who was the wise one that threw THAT into the mix?
It was good to know that at least my library days were paying off, as opposed to Jewish park days, as evidenced by my son’s comedic genius.
July 13, 2010 | 12:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I bought myself a new pair of shoes. Character shoes. It had been a while since I owned a pair, and I had an audition for a musical. (Not Glee.) It had also been years since I auditioned for anything, so I did not know what to expect, especially for something of this caliber.
The call was for 2:00 pm, and anybody who knows theatre auditions knows that “on time” means “late” and “early” means “on time,” so I figured I would be “on time” and get there forty five minutes early or so (just not to look too desperate). When I got there, however, I realized that looking desperate may have worked to my advantage and that pitching a tent the night before may not have been a bad idea either.
After driving around the block outside the studio for what seemed like hours, I found a spot - only it was trash day in the neighborhood, apparently, and two huge recycling bins were blocking a great parking spot (only six blocks away). So, I did what any late auditioner in character shoes would do. I got out of my car and moved the bins out of the way. Only now the bins were blocking someone’s driveway. (I’m sure they would understand.) I grabbed my things and ran to the audition after realizing that people were making their way to the studio (easier said than done in my shoes).
I got in and shoved my way through the crowd, signed in and got my call number: #335. How was that even possible? I was forty five minutes early. It was going to be a long day.
The room was filled with dancers that could sing, singers that could dance, actors that could sing, and well…me. I wasn’t sure where exactly I fit in, but there I was, amidst what I later learned were over eight hundered girls (and guys) auditioning for the female lead. I looked around to judge my competition, as did every other girl in the room. My odds were getting worse by the minute because even the guy sitting next to me in black leggings, jazz shoes and a cropped bright pink tee was prettier than me. (He later gave me make-up pointers and I took notes.)
I started contemplating my decision to have breathed and lived this audition for the past week and subjecting my son to my audition backing tracks in the car and at home. (Note to my son - I promise you can hear your music in the car from now on and don’t have to sing along to my audition backing tracks with me. No more musical theatre in the car…for now. Daddy will be happy, too.)
Just when panic set in, I watched a girl who was clearly over six feet tall (mostly all legs) in short shorts and character shoes (the only thing we had in common; her shoes) stand on one foot and lift her other leg vertically to touch her nose and meditate for what seemed like an hour. (I can see how this position was meditative and relaxing…ok, no I couldn’t, but maybe that was why I wasn’t calm.) Just then I heard my name being called by one of the crew. What? Why me? My heart started racing…there were 334 girls before me. What could they possible want from me? If he wanted me to stretch like Miss Long Legs…I was clearly out of the running…since I was a good foot or shorter than her to begin with. He asked to see my music. He was randomly selecting individuals to start the weeding out process before we actually got to audition before the Wiz, a.k.a. the casting director himself. I handed him my music. He approved of the sixteen bars I had chosen and asked me to sing right then and there a cappella. I thought he chose me because I had the look of fear in my eyes and couldn’t stop staring at my competition. I was in trouble.
I began singing, but could barely hear myself over the loud thumping of my heart. I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t centered, I didn’t have my moment. He hadn’t even collected my headshot first. I stopped singing and all I heard was “thank you very much,” which is not at all a good sign when you are auditioning. Then he asked for my headshot and I thought he was going to tear it up. He said, “great,” pointed and told me to sit along the wall with the rest of the auditioners that were “moving on.” Moving on? Oh, moving on in the audtion. It took a while, but I realized it was a good thing. I took my place on the dance floor next to Long Legs. A few moments later a group of us were taken into another room. (Like cattle, I followed everyone else. And for some reason a vision of Auschwitz came to me. I didn’t know what awaited in THAT room.) We were introduced to a choreographer who quickly ran over a routine and in groups of ten we kick ball changed, grapevined and pirouetted across the floor. I, however missed the latter. Apparently they weren’t looking for a pirouetter because I made it through that round.
Then we were returned to the holding area. It was a sight out of the movie Fame (the original, not the newly released version), where the students were stretching, dancing and doing vocal warmups. I decided to look busy, too, and grabbed my iPhone and Googled, “character shoes and blisters.” One dance number and my left foot was blistered, now I would be limping for the rest of the audition, which I am sure could only increase my chances of making it. I was thankful that I had made it through the first round. (And shocked, honestly.)
Apparently there were girls who did not, and I only knew that from the sobbing on their way out the door. I knew I wouldn’t sob on my way out. I wasn’t expecting to get the role, so I would probably sob in amazement if I actually did.
Then auditioners were taken in groups of ten (what is it with groups of ten?) to line up for the audition. Finally, three hours later, my name was called. My group was taken to the hall outside “the room” where we would be auditioning for the headmaster, the “make it or break it” man, the Simon Cowell of musical theatre (I know, bad analogy) and two others who looked over our headshots and resumes as he listened and glared at us in the center of this tiny room. Things were moving along and I felt calmer for some strange reason, since it was almost my turn.
I started contemplating the whole process again. Thinking about things I don’t usually think about. Was my hair still in place? Had the beads of sweat rolled down my face and formed puddles on my neck? Were my armpits soaked with sweat? Was I tall enough? Good enough? I don’t know what I expected. An answer? A sign? But all of a sudden, as if on cue, I got my answer.
I felt queasy and dizzy. I thought I was going to faint. I started to get concerned, because I actually felt calmer at this point. I made it through the first round. It wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought the heavens would open up, the ground would move under my feet. Then it did. The ground shook (as if on cue) and one of the girls shouted out, “Oh my God, earthquake!” (What could be more L.A.; earthquakes and auditions. Earthquakes while auditioning?)
Thankfully it wasn’t me, but the actual shaking of the ground and not my knees that made me queasy. The speakers above us shook, the windows rattled and I thought at that moment and asked myself “What is REALLY important?” It wasn’t if I was tall enough, looked good enough, sang well enough or all of that, for that matter. Did all this really matter?
Then the audition room door flew open and out came the casting director screaming at the top of his lungs that he had had enough. I guess the earthquake had gotten to him as well, only in a different way. He suggested the remaining auditions be cut and that the rest of us should just go home. That left about fifty or more girls in the hallway alone. The girls were furious. I was numb…after just having had my epiphany.
The screaming girls had influenced the casting director’s decision and he agreed to see ten more of us (I was number three), only if we cut our sixteen bars down to eight. He even joked that he had to make it home in time to watch So You Think You Can Dance. (Only I think he was serious. Furiously serious!) The long legged girl now in front of me, number two, said, “we are doomed.” And she wasn’t joking.
Girl number one was taken in and literally two seconds after she entered the door flew open and she came running out bawling. Apparently, the songs were played as you entered the room and you had to sing on the move quickly. I thought she was exaggerating until it was almost my turn and I could hear girl number two belt out and hold only one note from her song. I hadn’t heard anything that beautiful in a long time (that of course wasn’t auto-tuned on the radio) and then the door flew open; she was sent out quicker than she came in.
It was my turn, and my nervous, queasy, uneasy feeling came back to me now. Only this time there was no earthquake. I even looked up at the speakers to make sure they weren’t swaying. Nope, just me.
The door opened. They called me in. Everything happened in literally less than ten seconds. But it seemed as if it were all happening in slow motion. I looked around, all I could see in front of me was an upright piano with a very large old accompanist behind it who was playing something as I walked in. I walked over to hand him my music to him and forced a smile. I was quickly nudged by the assistant to move quicker. (But I already felt like I was jogging.) The accompanist grabbed my sheet music and said with piercing eyes, “I already played your song, you missed it.” Then the real me came through loud and clear and the musical theatre Mama went out the door. “How could you play my song without knowing what it was?” I handed him the music and asked him to please play my eight bars from where I had clearly marked “start” for him. Before I could finish my sentence he began playing loudly and quickly, rushing through the song, and to add to it started at the wrong verse. He added his own twist - a few extra bars for the introduction, and played it faster than I could even get the lyrics out. I hadn’t even had time to make it past the piano to be in the casting director’s view, but managed to make my way there by the end of my seven bars - he didn’t play the last one, but then I hit my final note, held it out and proudly smiled as my beads of sweat now must have looked more like streaming rivers at this point. I knew I hadn’t made it, I wasn’t given the chance. (And I am not just saying that because I am a sore loser.) The casting director smiled and said those words I heard earlier, but this time they meant something else: “Thank you very much.” I thanked him in return, knowing that he had chosen his lead somewhere between #1 and 50 most likely, and wanted to kick myself for not having arrived earlier and being given a fair chance like the three hundred or so other girls before me. I hadn’t even had time to introduce myself or the song, or make it to the center of the room for that matter.
I kept smiling; it seemed my smile was plastered to my face at this point. I walked over to the accompanist and bit my lip trying to hold back what I wanted to say to him, but I couldn’t. He angrily handed me my music with his piercing eyes and I stared him right in the eyes, only this time my smile faded. “Next time you should play a ballad as a ballad.” I told him. I know that wasn’t right of me; luckily, they were already pushing in the next two girls at that point and he was already starting the intro to their song before I could collect my things, so he didn’t hear me. (In his defense, I am sure he was miserable playing over three hundred show tunes in a row without a break, so I am glad he didn’t hear me, and hopefully he wouldn’t remember me next time…if our paths should ever cross again.)
I gathered my things outside of the room and began limping back to the car (note to self - bring a change of shoes next time). I couldn’t help but think of my day and the perfect timing of the earthquake. I truly believe that everything is meant to be (and I am not just saying that, because I didn’t get a call back).
Then I saw the casting director come out of the room to answer his cell phone. (He was, in fact, clearly done for the day.) I smiled at him and nodded again. Suddenly, he put down his phone and complimented me on my singing. Really? He probably just felt sorry for me at this point. Then he mentioned a Tokyo run of the musical auditioning in two days. “You should come out and audition for that one,” he said. Now he clearly was trying to make me feel better.
But, who knows? Maybe I will. I may make it in Tokyo. David Hasslehoff did, didn’t he?
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July 12, 2010 | 11:00 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
Not more than eight months ago, Mel Gibson and his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva (now his ex-girlfriend) welcomed their new daughter into the world (see earlier post, “Mazel Tov Mel Gibson”), perhaps marking a new start for the actor. An opportunity to set a good example as a parent this time around on tolerance, not hatred. Now eight months since his “new start,” Gibson is under investigation for domestic violence and has also proven that the only new thing about him is that he no longer discriminates against Jews only. His rants are no longer solely anti-Semitic, but racist and sexist in nature as well.
According to Radaronline.com, a taped conversation between Gibson and Grigorieva was released in which Gibson denigrated his ex with sexist and racist slurs. “You go out in public and it’s a f***ing embarrassment to me. You look like a f***ing bitch in heat. And if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers it will be your fault. Alright? Because you provoked it.”
Radaronline.com reported that on July 5, Grigorieva filed a domestic violence claim against the actor. The website also reported that according to a source, “Oksana had told police that Mel punched her on January 6, knocking out two of her teeth and was violent with her on several occasions.”
Gibson’s reps have not yet commented on the tape, however his agency, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, has reportedly dropped him according to the New York Daily News. According to NJ.com “Hollywood types are distancing themselves from the actor with more alacrity than when Gibson’s infamous anti-Semitic rant (to a police officer who pulled the actor over for speeding) hit headlines in 2006.” How many more racial and anti-Semitic rants before he is banned completely?
Perhaps it is time to call it quits, Mel? Maybe next time you think of slandering a race, a religion or a people, you should ask yourself one question: “WWJD?” (What Would JC Do?) I’m just sayin’...
July 1, 2010 | 10:37 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
We live in one of the most litigious countries in the world, if not the most litigious. What can be more outrageous than a country where people can pre-pay for legal services just in case they were to sue someone or be sued? How about suing your father? Well, Dana Soderberg, a student at Southern Connecticut State University, did just that - and won.
In 2005, Howard Soderberg signed a contract written by his daughter, Dana, promising to pay tuition and tuition-related expenses until she turned twenty-five. Two years later, Howard ceased to make tuition payments. According to the Chicago Law Tribune, Renee C. Berman (Dana’s attorney), stated that Dana needed expensive art supplies since she was an art major and that Howard was late in making payments which forced Dana to take out a $20,000 loan. (Some people put themselves through college, grad school and thereafter, Dana. I’m just sayin’.)
So Dana did what any loving, forgiving daughter would do and sued her father. The judge ruled in Dana’s favor for breach of contract and awarded her $47,000.
I will have to be much more careful now when signing contracts with my four-year-old son, or maybe I will just have to let him know that he is responsible for purchasing his own Legos from now on. It is good to know that you can actually sue a parent and win, however. Do in-laws count for mental anguish?
June 21, 2010 | 5:17 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Father’s Day has been difficult for me for the last ten years, since the passing of my father. The pain has lessened somewhat since the birth of my son by allowing me to celebrate my husband. Every year I still struggle to make peace with the day, find joy and let go. This year it was even easier with the help of my son.
We decided to celebrate with some close friends and their four-year-old son. A day at the beach? Brunch? Barbeque? I wasn’t sure what we would do. Then they suggested – Magic Mountain. How better to celebrate my conflicting feelings about Father’s Day than by turning my cliché into reality and celebrating with rollercoaster rides. So, of course we agreed. My son was excited about the idea of celebrating with “fast rides,” even though he had never been on one.
We headed to Magic Mountain, where I haven’t been since the creation of other roller coasters that make Colossus look not so colossal after all. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then as I expected, but the metal detectors at the entrance were an unexpected surprise. (Not that I was sporting weapons, but really?) Was it safe to even go? Of course it was, because there were metal detectors. And besides, our friends had annual passes and were frequenters of the park who brought us along as their guests. They are quite the non-violent type, so I figured we were good.
We spent our time in Bugs Bunny World and Thomas Town for the kids. (How else would we celebrate, of course.) Then my son asked to go on a kiddie coaster. I gladly stood in line with him until the ride operator remarked, “Ma’am, this is for kids only.” I would have to send him on a roller coaster alone, at the age of four? I guess the mother standing next to me waiting for her even younger child to get on must have seen my hesitation. “We all have to let them go sometime,” she joked. And she was letting hers go at least a year or two before mine.
My husband convinced me along with our friends that our four-year-olds would be fine. How could we disappoint our sons who were holding hands and jumping up and down asking to go on the ride together? (At age four, two boys holding hands does not merit much attention, but it changes somewhere along the line. At five?) How could we say no? I didn’t want to become that parent. Or was I already that parent?
Our sons got on and I stood close to the gate, only after I was told that I couldn’t stay within the gate. The ride operator was probably right. What good would that do me anyway? Would I leap onto the track to stop the coaster from derailing in case of emergency? I don’t know what I was thinking, but wanted to stay inside “just in case.”
So, the ride began and my son was cheering as they headed up their first hill. He didn’t know what was coming, but could not wait to find out. I watched my son as he followed the other children and raised his hands fearlessly in the air as the coaster speedily raced down the track. The ride lasted all of thirty seconds, but felt more like thirty minutes to me, at the least. I entered the gate (and was the only parent who did) to help my son out of the train, to which he replied, “I can do it alone!” I thought at that moment – “Yes, you can.” He and his friend were giggling as they left the ride, “That was fun and scary. Can I do it again?” And he did. Again and again and again… Each time got a little easier for me…as does each passing Father’s Day.
June 16, 2010 | 11:29 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
There is no such thing as a coincidence…which is what I believe, anyway. Everything happens for a reason. And I received a friendly reminder of this recently from a “reminder friend,” (Someone who serves as a constant reminder about what is important in my life.)
My “reminder” recently returned to my life seems to show up with precise timing. She is a wanderer, a searcher. Always seraching for the next best thing. (It is a wonder we are still friends. I am sure there are a lot of better friends that she could have.) Ironically, she is married with two children. Her children despise her and her husband has left her more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, but always ends up going right back.
We reunited a few weeks ago and all I kept hearing was who she met, who she knew and who the people that she met knew. (As if this somehow was supposed to impress me.)
During our last conversation, she spoke of what was important to her: status, wealth and freedom. I told her about the things that were important to me in turn: love, health, family, and feeling connected. She talked about her new car. I spoke of my son’s accomplishments. She even called from a vacation spot and caught me in the middle of a family function.
We are completely different, but she is always there to remind me of the things that are important in my own life. Why we remain friends, beats me. I know she must be in my life for a reason, the same way I am in hers. Everyone must have a reminder and she is mine.