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.
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February 15, 2010 | 12:28 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 | 3:00 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 | 4:52 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 | 3:12 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.
February 3, 2010 | 3:05 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I do not believe that you become a mom just because you have a child. The same way you do not become a grandparent becaue you have grandkids or an aunt or uncle because you have nieces or nephews. One must earn their title.
It’s quite simple; you become a friend when you are worthy of that person’s friendship and time. You become a boyfriend or girlfriend when you have reached that level in the relationship of mutual respect. So, what makes it right to call mom “Mom,” just because she birthed you?
There are all kinds of moms in the world and after becoming one (I can only hope I earned my title, however) I have had the opportunity to meet plenty. I have come across neurotic moms, busy moms, working mom, stay at home moms, holistic moms, religious moms, secular moms, self-absorbed moms, great moms, not so great moms and more. (Of course it is subjective.)
Of all the moms I have met, it is the self-absorbed moms that get to me the most. For me, it is an oxymoron, because once you hava a child, how is that even possible? These moms prove however that it is still possible and have yet to wonder why their children (young or old) are not attached. Of course this is subjective, but isn’t your child the best judge of character?
I can only hope I earned my title…only time will tell and I am sure my son will let me know as well.
February 1, 2010 | 2:45 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
As the wife of a professional musician, the future of the music industry is pretty important, as you can imagine. For creative reasons…and for our family’s livelihood, of course. But, after the Grammy Awards last night, I think we may both have to pick up a couple of day jobs or my husband will have to write songs with lyrics that are profound to a fourteen year old, like:
(“You Belong With Me”, by Taylor Swift):
You’re on the phone with your girlfriend, she’s upset
She’s going off about something that you said
She doesn’t get your humor like I do
I’m in the room, its a typical Tuesday night
I’m listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like
And she’ll never know your story like I do
But she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts
She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers
Dreaming bout the day when you’ll wake up and find
That what you’re lookin’ for has been here the whole time.
In other words, we are probably doomed.
Just to clarify - congratulations to Taylor Swift on her win (four, actually). From a mom’s perspective, there is nothing wrong with a wholesome pop icon whose lyrics are clean and messages are simple: you don’t have to wear short skirts or be a “team captain,” just be yourself. (Haven’t heard that before.) I guess she can be compared to Debbie Gibson or Tiffany back in my day, the late 80’s. I can see why fourteen year old girls wold be drawn to her type of music: girl power and inspiring messages having to do with teen angst, popularity contests and boys. But what about the rest of us?
What happened to the good old days (I know, I sound like old folk), when popular music could be enjoyed by ages fifteen and above? Are we all fourteen year old girls? And album of the year? Does it really have much to do with the album, or more about who is the most popular singer among teens? But I must be getting old, because I am more interested in the “earlier this evening” awards that are not televised.
So where is the future of the music industry headed? Good question. Ask the CEOs and business moguls. As far as the artists are concerned, I’m not quite sure. For my husband’s sake, I say he focus more on selling out than selling art. After all, isn’t that what pays the bills?
January 27, 2010 | 2:38 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
What is it with the carts in the mall that want me to try their dead sea products, hair-straightening irons and switch my cell phone provider over to theirs? How come I can get their attention, but I am not worthy of the new fragrance spritz in the cosmetic section of a department store? And why is it that I have to wait for almost twenty minutes at the Mac counter to pay for the eyeshadow that I chose myself and found boxed behind the register? If I could just ring it up myself - i wouldnt need them at all in the first place.
You would think I have other things to worry about. Not that I truly do care in the first place…that much. Why does it get me every time when I am ignored at the makeup counter? (Which is not often, since it is pretty rare that I go to one.) I guess it could be worse - I could get stopped by the Proactive cart - acne care products endorsed by Jessica Simpson.
Usually when I hear someone speak of Mac, I think of the computers first and not a trendy makeup counter with sales personnel (both male and female) clad in all black with rainbow-hued eyelids. When I think Mac, I think of rainbow colored iPods, not eyelids. But i guess it does get to me now and again when I’m not worthy (or so they make me feel) of girly pleasures (not that Macs also known as Apple are un-girly, but I spend more time using my iPhone and MacBook, then the times I do shop for, put on and remove makeup altogether).
The scary-looking-peacock-eyelid-goth salesgirl finally rang me up as if she were doing me a favor. I didn’t need the eyeshadow thaaat bad. I debated putting it back to spite her, but figured the other two I had at home were so old they probably wouldn’t look pretty under a microscope.
I can’t even remember the last time I bought makeup. What I do remember, however, was that it was a traumatic experience. I remember running over (not literally) to the mall for some tinted moisturizer. You slap it on and go…literally (the perfect makeup regimen for me). No need for all those layers that I read about in fashion and beauty magazines that tell me that for a natural look I need base, powder and all the stuff that goes on before it and after it. Who has the time or patience? Not I. Anyway…back to the trauma of the tinted moisturizer….
I headed straight to the makeup counter with my son…once again helping myself, I headed directly to the boxed product on the shelf, grabbed one and waited at the register to pay. The next thing I know, I was sitting on a stool by the makeup counter with an impatient son (for good reason), getting a tinted moisturizer color check. (How she talked me into it, I will never know? I thought that if I caved, maybe it would send a message to all other makeup counters everywhere to stop ignoring me. (As you can see from the Mac eyeshadow purchase, it didn’t help.) So, I sat on the stool and told her it was ok, and that I know that color works for me because I have used it for years. (I’m not big on makeup…or change.) Next thing I know she is using a cotton swab that reeks of lavender to remove the makeup I am already wearing, but I wasn’t wearing any. To make matters worse, I am allergic to lavender. I stopped her and jumped off the stool hoping that my cheek wouldn’t swell into the size of a bowling ball. She still went down her list of recommendations for me. I told her I just needed to pay and probably take a Benadryl or two. She wasn’t happy, but my son was. I would have been happier if my cheek didn’t start to swell. (Two Benadryls later - I was fine.)
Then there was another time that I tried getting a “makeover” at the Mac counter to surprise my husband. When he took one look at the “new me,” he laughed which was appropriate since I looked like a clown (clowns scare me, but they make him laugh).
I can’t seem to win. I guess I am not lucky when it comes to makeup counters and it is probably even better that they won’t help me.
So maybe it’s best that I avoid makeup counters all together in the near future, or at least until they have self-checkout lines like the ones in the grocery store…until then I will just be hanging out at the other Mac store.