Posted by Mihal Levy
Helping is overrated, at least that is what Mr. Nice Neighbor thinks.
I am all for women’s liberation and believe that women can hold open their own doors and carry their own shopping bags, but just because we can, doesn’t mean help wouldn’t be nice. (And holding the door for anyone is just plain polite.) So, after my trip to Old Navy followed by grocery shopping to feed a small army (I still don’t quite get the concept of buying for my son and I only), I had enough for the day and headed home.
I parked in front of my place and decide to grab all the bags at once, as well as my son. Why? I haven’t figured out the logic quite yet, but I believe if I had more than one trip home, I would have to leave my son alone for a few minutes and don’t know what kind of mischief he could get into during those thirty seconds I was gone. So I hauled eight or so heavy bags including a winter wardrobe for my son, a gallon of milk, bottles of water and all the other essentials.
As I headed out of the car and took two steps, I had to place the bags down to take a break. I looked ahead of me and it seemed as though home was miles away, but it was just a few yards. Just as I picked up my groceries to begin the trek again, my son chimed in, “Uh Oh!”
“Uh Oh, what?” I asked, as I waddled and grimaced all of another three steps.
“I need peepee. Hold on peepee, hold on peepee…don’t come out.” He repeated. (I knew I should not have kept asking if he needed to go when we were out and just taken him to the restroom.)
As if on queue, my neighbor appeared. I dropped my bags in relief. Great, a little help, that would be nice. But instead of stopping to help, he waved and muttered, “Have a nice day,” as he strolled by.
I am flattered that he thought I had it all under control while panting a measly two steps from my car, but I assumed he would ask if I needed help anyway. As I have grown accustomed to say, “No thanks, I’m good,” I would’ve thrown the groceries at him and replied, “Uh…Yeah!”
This was not the first time Mr. Nice Neighbor ignored me or my situation. When my son was about a year younger, he fell and scraped his knee on the curb and again I had groceries strewn all over the sidewalk as I ran to pick up my son. Mr. Nice Neighbor literally stepped over my groceries and walked home. But, of course when Mr. Nice Neighbor’s son was playing out front and almost ran into the street to get his ball, I stopped him. Looking back, maybe I should’ve let him run into the street after all.
So, I did what any good mother would do and carefully picked an egg out of the carton to throw at Mr. Nice Neighbor’s door. Well, no, not really, but I really wanted to. I picked up the important things first; Old Navy shopping bags, my purse…and my son and rushed towards my front door, with the rest of my grocery items hanging out, and on the curb.
Luckily we made it in the nick of time. My son headed straight to the restroom. I ran out and grabbed the remaining bags, two in one hand and six in the other. I waddled quickly this time.
I don’t know what day Mr. Rogers was talking about when he sang, “it’s a beautiful day for a neighbor,” but today wasn’t that day. I am just glad we made it home in the nick of time with all grocery items in tact…and ourselves.
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December 11, 2009 | 5:33 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Although Hanukkah is not the holiday of questions, I still have one. I know why this night is different than all other nights. But, if a little bit of oil went a long way, oh so long ago…why must I purchase vats of oil for a deep fried supper tonight? I’m just asking. Shouldn’t a little go a long way? After all, a miracle happened where a little oil lasted for longer than expected. Perhaps to keep with tradition, using less oil would be a more appropriate way to celebrate the holiday? Aren’t there plenty of things to enjoy that aren’t fried? Ok, maybe not many, but still.
Every Jewish holiday revolves around food, every holiday for that matter come to think of it: Memorial day-barbeques, 4th of July-barbeques, Presidents Day. (Ok, maybe not Presidents’ Day.) But, Hanukkah is exceptional as it revolves around a vat of oil. Everything during Hanukkah is deep fried. Myself included. By the time Hanukkah roles around I feel like I’ve been deep fried, dipped in batter and deep fried again.
When I was younger, I could not wait for Hanukkah (maybe it had something to do with the gift-giving), but today I wait hesitantly with a bottle of Pepto Bismol on hand. Why is it that when you are sixteen, you can down a whole pizza and liter of soda, fast forward to your thirties and just the thought of greasy foods sends one into an acid reflux frenzy?
Acid reflux or not, I join in the holiday fun. Because, in the words of Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof), “Tradition, Tradition! Tradition!”
December 9, 2009 | 4:15 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
On the road once again, my husband, not me. It seems that I am always the one driving everyone else to the Flyaway, LAX and back, but never really going anywhere. I even help pack the suitcases that are not my own. Once again, I’m here…at home.
They say “home is where the heart is” and “home is where you hang your hat.” But no matter what they say; you never really appreciate your home until you come back from a vacation, probably needing another vacation. I need a vacation.
Of course my need for a vacation happens to fall around the time that everyone else is going on vacation as well. So, is that really a vacation? Going away to some tropical or weekend destination, just to find that everyone else had the same idea? It just defeats the whole notion of vacating for me. Getting away. Are you really getting away, if everyone else is coming with you?
So, I have decided that I am going on vacation. I don’t know where to or even when for that matter, but just the thought of it makes the mundane every day tasks seem a little bit less…well, mundane, because “Ha…I’m leaving soon.” No laundry for me, bill-paying, traffic jams (because there are never traffic jams on vacation, right?), angry holiday shoppers, deadlines, responsibilities and text messages. Just a place with sunshine, waves and a three course meal of pineapple, mangos and coconuts. I am not thinking of any place in particular just somewhere remote, away from it all with the smell of coconut oil in the air.
Mommy needs a time-out, that’s all…and a tan. I won’t be long…just a week or two or three, depending on how many pineapples I can tolerate. Dad is on the road (as professional guitarists usually are), and although it is not mangos, coconuts and sunshine for him, it is also not laundry, dishes and solitary confinement (maybe I exaggerate a bit) either.
I might even start packing my bags in anticipation. I am not sure quite yet what I will be taking with me, but definitely know what I will be leaving behind; bills, laundry, dishes, iPhone, Laptop and any other LoJack-like personal tracking devices.
From the looks of my iCal, my vacation probably will not happen any time in the near future (what else is new?), but I will still keep the thought of it in my mind. And if you or anyone you know needs help packing or a trip to the airport, I am not available. Perhaps I will be looking for a ride myself soon…one can only hope.
December 3, 2009 | 2:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Where can you find your exes, pervs. and estranged family members in one place? Facebook.
It is not all that bad, or is it? I don’t know how often I get a request from someone who is simply single and looking for someone to date. Ok, no problem, right? I just politely reject the person because I am married. But what about the times that these people try to “add me” as a friend with comments about the size of one of my body parts (two parts actually) (that you could not possibly guess from a profile picture) or where they would like to go on a date (not describing a date at Starbucks anyway). Now, even if I were single, I have to let these guys know…this strategy just does NOT work. Am I supposed to be impressed? Not really.
Then there are the six-degrees-of-separation-suggested-friends that usually include an ex or estranged family member. I am not saying there is anything wrong with “suggested friends” that you can simply choose to reject, nor is there anything wrong with befriending an ex on facebook, but what about the ones you just do not want to see and have long since forgotten until now…thank you facebook. Maybe there should be a “seek therapy” button, in place of “block” or a “block anyone in this category, ie. estranged relatives or pervs” button.
Facebook has been both a blessing and a curse. Reconnecting with people from my past and keeping up with family as well as old and new friends (the ones I care to keep up with), but when it brings up people that just remind us of what we choose to forget I just want to click “the end” on my facebooking.
November 30, 2009 | 8:55 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
It is 5 A.M. and I am wide awake, which is a first for me.
Although I would like to take credit for being an early riser and so on top of my day that I woke up early to start it, I can’t. I still have not gone to bed since last night. Let me rephrase that, I have gone to bed, numerous times, in fact, just not able to actually fall asleep. I did fall asleep for a half hour and then up again. After staring at the ceiling for what seemed like hours and thinking about anything and everything, I decided that maybe sleep wasn’t having me tonight.
Ironically, I have an early birthday party to take my son to today. In four hours to be exact. Yes, a 9 A.M. second birthday party at the park. How that is going to happen, I am not quite sure this moment. Who does that? Have a birthday party so early? Ok, a mom who has five other children to get to school on time and is already up and making her rounds. But, what about moms who don’t have an early A.M. drop off (like me, for instance) or moms that have been up all night (like me again)?
Why is it that when we have to be somewhere early the next day, our bodies choose to simple stay awake the night before? An adrenaline rush? And although I am happy to attend the birthday party, I highly doubt that the anticipation is what actually kept me up. Sometimes my mind wanders (ok, often) at bedtime and I can’t help but recap the day, and find myself thinking about the next day’s to-do list (or next week’s, or next month’s). Tonight, last night, rather, my mind was on overdrive. I would calmly fall asleep somewhere between dreamland and wakefulness and dreams would start firing, images of crowded shopping malls, stories to edit, roller coasters and giant purple pancakes (OK, everything but the latter). I would wake up and look at the clock and a mere fifteen minutes had gone by, setting a world record for most dreams in fifteen minutes.
All the while I kept looking at the clock, counting the hours left to sleep and making excuses. “Ok, maybe I will get a good five hours of sleep. Three? Two?”
When I found myself spending more time focusing on the mathematics of how many hours were left to sleep, I decided to call it quits for tonight. I was hoping Googling “rapid fire dreams” and “racing thoughts” would help me get back to sleep, but instead just instilled a fear in me of how many disorders and diseases I may actually have. Something else to ruminate about? Great, not the outcome I was hoping for.
So, now what? And I can’t stop thinking about the darn birthday party. Do I just skip out on it after promising to attend? My son is looking forward to it and it is probably the only thing that finally got him to sleep. Do I still make my way there on no sleep? In my college years, yes, but now in my mommy years…I don’t think that is a good idea. In my college years pulling an all-nighter was nothing that three shots of espresso couldn’t solve the next day.
I thought I got over not sleeping all night when my son stopped nursing years ago, but I guess I was wrong. Sleeplessness finds its way into mommyhood every now and again. Now if I can just make it through the birthday party, the day and an afternoon nap perhaps? Who knows, with some luck, maybe I can still fall asleep before my family gets up.
November 27, 2009 | 8:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Black Friday shoppers, I salute you. No, really, I do. While you were out getting those great deals at midnight or three o’clock in the morning, I was tossing and turning in bed thinking about you, all of you. Probably because of the sugar high I was on from the pies, cranberry sauce and chocolate I ate throughout the day (I’m a vegetarian—I replace turkey with chocolate, and stuffing with chocolate and…you get the point). How does one leave the comfort of their bed to fight the crowds in the early a.m. for a deal? And how can you really be sure that you will be one of the first fifty shoppers in line?
Black Friday shoppers, I could never be you, but wish I was…I am sure you came home with lots of gifts for your friends, loved ones and yourself, of course. (If you braved the stores today, drop me a line…I really want to hear your story. Really.) I am a person that avoids shopping like it’s swine flu (if that is avoidable). Don’t get me wrong - I love gift-giving more than I do receiving gifts (seriously), and enjoy getting new things, but not if I have to fight through crowds or search racks and racks of clothes or piles of strewn boxes everywhere. What is it about Black Friday shopping that is so appealing? Is it the adrenaline rush, winning the race to get there first, great deals, an adventure? You must all be morning people to begin with, right? I could never get up at the crack of dawn to be the first in line at a sale. In fact, it never worked for me when I tried.
When I was a teen, there was a special early concert giveaway. The first ten people would receive an upgrade in concert seating or a backstage wristband, and there I was - number eleven.
Of course this was before the days of online ticket-purchasing and shopping. Maybe being number eleven has haunted me for life. No matter how hard I tried, I never won a raffle or got a free gift with a purchase; there was always a catch (that I missed, of course). I recently subscribed to a magazine because I liked the handbag they were giving away with the subscription (and I enjoy the writing in the magazine as well, but the handbag sealed the deal). Six weeks later, my first issue arrived sans handbag. I was livid. I had already purchased a matching wallet elsewhere to go with it. So, I called customer service to take care of this urgent matter, immediately. Surely it was on its way or lost in the mail.
After the phone tree from hell, I finally got a representative. I could barely hear her over the shuffling of papers, phones ringing, and people muttering, “Hello, how may I provide you with excellent service today?” echoing behind her. I explained the obvious mishandling of my handbag and asked her if there was a package tracking number or a replacement that could be issued. She apologized and read ever so seriously from the obvious script in front of her, “Ma’am, we apologize, but the handbag we featured in our ad was of limited supply. Unfortunately, we no longer have this promotional item in stock. Thank you for understanding.” Thank you for understanding? Understanding that I thought when it read “while supplies last,” they were sure to have enough supplies for the people that sent it off the same day? Did they only have five in stock? So, now I was stuck with a magazine I was on the fence about subscribing to in the first place, and a mailed monthly reminder of yet another deal I fell for, making me feel like number eleven once again.
With all this, how could I ever face a mall, shop, or department store on Black Friday? Certainly I would be the one person who forgot to bring the coupon code with her or was standing in the wrong line for a free gift with purchase. I am always the one who spends fifty dollars at a clothing store (Naartjie gets me every time, as I love their clothes for my son). They always have “spend $50 now and receive 25% off your next purchase of $50 or more”-type deals. Naturally, I fall for them every time and head over to Naartjie with mailer in hand to get the deal. I finally narrow down my $50 of clothing (which is more like $75) and expect to get twenty five percent off on the spot. Then I realize it’s another one of those “Save Later” deals ( I don’t know if the excitement overwhelms me so much that I read what I want to read, or that I should really lower my caffeine intake). In any case, I am already at the register, ready to pay. What do I do now? Turn around and leave? Of course not. So, I purchase my clothes (my son’s clothes, I hate shopping for myself - would like to be able to have a personal shopper for that one day). I place the coupon in my wallet, so I would have it for my next purchase of fifty dollars.
Two weeks later, I decide it is time to put the twenty five percent off coupon to good use and head back to Nartjie. While my son’s patience wears thin, I collect my $50 worth of clothes (Another $75, it’s 25% off, though this time…so it works out). The cashier rings up and totals my items. I proudly hand her my coupon while grinning, as she kindly says “Oh, I’m sorry this was only good for three days last week. Sorry, you missed it.” Again? What is it with the fine print? What is it with me? Me and fine print? I hand her my credit card and take the clothes anyway. I am already here and he needs them. Another failed attempt…
...until today. I have been waiting for a pair of boots to go on sale, so that I could purchase them eventually, hopefully some time before Spring. It has been a few months since I first laid eyes on them (because I am never in the mall, really, except twice for Nartjie). And lo and behold I receive an email this morning that goes into my junk mail folder (that I happened to check). “Today and today only - Black Friday sale 40% off all items online.” I don’ t know if I was more excited to hear they were forty percent off or that I could purchase them online. Regardless, I purchased them. With shipping/handling and tax included, the forty percent off almost didn’t count, but I didn’t care. I avoided the mall, the lines, the mess and still shopped on Black Friday. Maybe next year I will attempt to face my fears and head out to shop…just to see what it is all about. (And I’ll be sure to read the fine print.)
November 25, 2009 | 3:40 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Thanksgiving is here, but are you prepared? And I don’t mean, “have you prepared the cranberry sauce in advance and hauled home the fifty pound turkey?” But are you really ready? To reconnect with family members you have not seen since last Thanksgiving? To give Aunt Sarah the run down on your love life? To explain why you only get together with family once or twice a year?
Here are some Thanksgiving day survival tips:
-Keep a topic of conversation on hand for those uncomfortable moments with family and time-to-change-the-subject moments.
-If you are a guest on Thanksgiving, instead of a bottle of wine or flowers as a host/ess gift, bring a dish you have prepared for the holiday, in case there is nothing you care to eat at the home you have gone to, or they completely have overlooked the fact that you are a vegetarian (again). (“You can eat the stuffing. There is no meat in the stuffing, just chicken broth, not a whole chicken. Sheesh.”)
-If you are invited to family, there is always a way out (to leave early, anyway). “We promised (fill in the names of your choice), we would stop by their place for dessert. We would love to stay, but unfortunately, they are waiting.”
-If you are preparing the holiday, make sure you have prearranged seating arrangements. Group your guests according to categories; Chatty Cathies, Self-Promoters, Nosey Yentas…you get the point. (Note those that are enemies. Seat at separate ends of the table or separate rooms, better yet.)
-Have plenty of food on hand so there is no need for much conversation.
-Don’t have expectations about the holiday. Accept that it won’t be perfect; then if it is, you will be pleasantly surprised.
-Avoid topics on politics, how you are managing your home, work and children and reminiscing (not always a good thing) when family reminisces about just how many family functions you have missed in the first place. “Speaking of cousin Lisa’s wedding. You haven’t seen them since then and met their three children, have you?”
-Make sure buffer guests are included. These guests should be cheerful friends, not involved with your family drama, who always know how to keep the party going.
-Make sure you have a separate kids table so the kids don’t have to endure the topics of conversation and you can always retreat to that table when the going gets tough. (It’s always more fun with the kids. And they are honest - “I don’t want to sit by Michael. I don’t like him.”)
Whatever you do, enjoy it. The food, the family, the drama and the tryptophan effect and bloating of this holiday. And be thankful…it only comes once a year.
November 20, 2009 | 2:30 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Tinsel is hung earlier and earlier each year. Now, even before Thanksgiving we prepare for “the holidays.” Eventually, people will be stringing lights and frying up latkes in June to prepare. But, not everyone is frolicking in the holiday fun or mass conspiracy to shop-shop-shop-‘til-you-drop.
This time of year is anything but “fa la las” for me, or a time of miracles. Ten years ago at this time, while shoppers scurried frantically through malls to find the perfect wooly socks or kitschy gift, my mind was somewhere else and it has stayed that way for the past ten years. During this oh so joyful time, I lost my father.
Just like a Pavlovian response, when I hear holiday songs on the radio (including ONE Hanukkah song by Adam Sandler), I am reminded. “Sleighbells ring are you listening?” No, I am not. “Grab your harmonica, it’s time for…” No! Maybe if they just stopped playing those songs, it wouldn’t trigger memories. And could the malls please go easy on the display of in-your-face holiday decorations? These things would probably help…a little. And why must they start all the hoopla so early in the season? I know it sells more. But won’t everyone be sick of the holidays by the time they come around? Besides, it gets me all worked up for much longer.
Hanukkah is almost here, my father is still dead, ten years later. Sometimes I feel as though he will come back. Not in an eerie, resurrection, wake-from-the-dead kind of way, but simply because he has been “away” for some time and will just show up at my door. We would take off where we left off. Then reality kicks in (or a proposed notion of schizophrenia), so I stop myself from thinking this and snap out of it. He’s gone. Still gone, forever.
This time of year only makes it that much more difficult. You would think after ten years, it would get easier, but it seems to grow more difficult. Especially after having a child and being aware of the fact that my father will never get the chance to meet his grandson (and granddaughter; my brother’s daughter). My son will never know what it is like to have a special grandfather, who was genuine, gave without taking, who loved unconditionally and dreamt of meeting his grandson while I was hitting puberty, pulling my puffy socks over my stirrupped leggings and following the latest 80’s rock band, thinking of anything and everything but marriage and children. My father was already dreaming of becoming a grandfather, but never had the chance.
‘Tis definitely the season. The season of sadness, remembrance and sorrow…for me anyway.