Archive for December, 2010

Old Beaus

December 31, 2010

Old Beaus

In the last month I’ve heard from most of the guys I’ve dated in the last two years. I don’t know what nostalgia drives them. Is it that I was so wonderful that now they regret breaking up with me? Or it’s the time of year when people grab at anything to relieve loneliness?

A friend of mine In Phoenix dated a guy from Show Low last winter. Christmas Eve she was sick in bed. About ten a.m. there’s a knock at her door. It’s Mr. Prescott. She is nonplussed as she’s now in a meaningful relationship. He wants to come in, but she explains that she’s sick. He hands her a present and insists that she open it. Of course she has no present for him. She lets him in the door and opens up the gift: a new toilet paper holder. (The one in her guest bathroom was forever unhinging.) She thanked him and gently pushed him out the door. Later her current boyfriend, Mr. Right,  showed up and saw the toilet paper holder. She told him who it was from. The next day, Christmas, Mr. Right shows up with a toilet paper holder, explains in detail why it is better, and installs it for her.

I got an email from a fellow I called the Hot Tamale.  We dated more than two years ago. We had a torrid affair for a few months. One Saturday, driving up to my cabin, I asked him to join me. I never heard from him again. So why was he emailing me? Does he think he had a chance for a booty call? I never emailed him back.

I got a Christmas card from a guy I dated two years ago. We went out for nine months, I even thought I loved him. He brought me roses every week with a poem attesting to his love for me. Then he dropped me like a hot potato. The reason rang false. He called me once, a few months later, to explain with another lame reason. He wrote me a few months after that to try to get back together. Please! Would I ever trust another guy bringing roses and poems? The Christmas card I recently received tried to pique my curiosity. “Someday I will tell you the real reason why I decided to go in a different direction.” This from a fellow who eschewed game playing. I didn’t send him a holiday card.

I got a text message from another guy who dumped me. He was the only honest one, so I think of him fondly. I replied and wished him “Happy New Year.”

Maybe next year I’ll find someone who appreciates me and I him for more than nine months. Is there a chance for love?

How Jews Spend Christmas

December 26, 2010

How Jews Spend Christmas

            Being Jewish in a Christian country makes me feel like an outsider sometimes. When I was a little girl, the Bible was read at the beginning of each day as well as “The Lord’s Prayer.” I felt on the outside not because I was Jewish, we read the Old Testament, but because my parents were not theists. I insisted on going to Sunday School because my best friend Linda was Episcopalian and went every week. My parents put me off as long as possible, and then found a Sunday School that was Jewish but not attached to a temple. It was sponsored by The Workmen’s Circle, a Jewish labor organization. I learned how to read, write, and speak Yiddish, not Hebrew. I learned the history of the Jews. There were no bar andb at mitzvahs, only Hanukkah parties where we performed scenes from Sholem Aleichem and Purim parties where we dressed like Esther, Haman, King Ahasuerus, or Mordecai.

            My mother’s best friend Pat was Christian. She and her husband Abe, a Jew, had integrated Riverton with my parents, being the only white in a middle class apartment complex in Harlem. When my family moved to the suburbs in New Jersey, we continued to go to Pat and Abe’s every Christmas Eve. A large Christmas tree was always ready for us to decorate. It was a magical time for me. Many years I slept over on the pull-out couch in the living room, watching The Million Dollar Movie until I fell asleep. A few times my brother or sister stayed over, too.

            In the morning, I awoke to find presents under the tree. I wasn’t allowed to open them until my family drove in from the suburbs. Santa always brought me the most amazing gifts. I got a real printing press when I was in fourth grade and used it to put out a neighborhood newspaper. One year I received a giant green blackboard. It was probably four feet by six feet but I thought it was the size of a wall. For several years my sister, brother, and I played school. My sister, who was four years older than me and six years older than my brother, taught us the algebra she was learning in school. My brother, being a genius, ate it up. I loved practicing my printing and my cursive. It took me until I was an adult to figure out that Pat was a doctor and had no children, so she had the funds to buy us such extravagant gifts.

            After the presents were opened, we would go visit our old friends in the building and the adults would catch up on news while us kids played with the toys. I felt totally included in Christmas.

            I felt out of the mainstream when those visits shortened to just Christmas Day. The holiday no longer seemed to belong to me.

            My first husband was Jewish but his parents lived in a small Ohio town and they always celebrated Christmas, not Hanukkah. So I got the tree back and Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner without guilt. When he and I moved to Arizona, we celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. I got to make and buy ornaments for the tree. I had an Open House on Christmas Eve for all the people we knew who were far from family.

            When my husband and I divorced after twelve years of marriage, my daughters kept Christmas with their dad, but I lost it. By this time I had joined a temple in Phoenix and the kid were being raised Jewish. I spent a few Christmases serving food at St. Vincent De Paul Charity Dining Hall. I spent one at the Grand Canyon with a boyfriend. But I was an outsider.

            When I married the second time, it was to a Christian. He and his two sons, who lived with us, had many Christmas traditions which I promptly adopted. It was my holiday again. I learned to make popovers for Christmas morning. Even though our son was raised Jewish, he celebrated Christmas with his dad and his brothers. And we all celebrated Hanukkah. The kids were no slouches. They figured out right away that it meant twice as many presents.

            After fifteen years of jolly Christmases, I again found myself divorced and looking in from the outside on Christmas. My sons spent it with their dad. I spent some years with friends, but always felt like an outsider. Sometimes a Jewish friend would have an Open House on Christmas. That felt better.

            These past few years I’ve come back to the fold and done the Jewish thing at Christmas: go to the movies then go to a Jewish deli or a Chinese restaurant. Yesterday I went to see True Grit with two friends and one of their mothers. I enjoyed the movie on the big screen at the Cine Capri. We went to Goldman’s Deli for a late lunch. The place was packed! Nothing says Christmas like matzo ball soup and cheese blintzes. Happy Holidays.

Grandchildren as the Elixir of Life

December 23, 2010

Grandchildren as the Elixir of Life

            When things are not going well, when I’m just plain sad about the past, or frustrated about the present, there’s always a place I can go to restore my joie de vivre (joy of living): my four year-old granddaughter Abby. She is not a part of the sad past or a part of the frustrating present. She is unadulterated heaven on earth.

            Last week I took her to see Tangled. I picked her up at preschool. As soon as she spied me, she jumped up and ran into my arms. That’s the best feeling in the world:  unconditional love. She went to the bathroom and I quickly gathered her things. After she was strapped her into the car seat, I put in the Raffi CD and we sang “Five Little Ducks” and other favorites.

            We went to the new Ultra Star Theater where we luxuriated in padded leather recliners at a bargain price, $11.00 for both of us since she’s a child and I’m a senior. We gobbled down the contraband cookies I’d sneaked in and a juice for her. She doesn’t like soda!

            After the movie we met her parents at McCormick Railroad Park for Members’ Night. My son stood on line and we joined him for the train ride through the lights. I took pictures as Abby high-fived Cookie Monster, Elmo, Frosty, Pooh,Tigger, and The Cat in the Hat.

Abby and her mom greet the Cat in the Hat

            The waiting time to see Santa was thirty-five minutes, but it was worth it to see him all by himself in the old railroad car. This is the first time Abby agreed to sit on his lap. Luckily she asked him for the bike her parents had already purchased.

Abby hugs Santa at Railroad Park

     We drank hot chocolate and my son and his very pregnant wife sat and rested while I took Abby on the merry-go-round. A thoroughly enjoyable day.

Abby enjoyed the merry-go-round.

     This week I baked cookies with Abby and my neighbor Donna and her two grandchildren. I had made the dough the day before. Unfortunately I didn’t label the different doughs and tried to roll out the butter cookie dough. By the time I realized my mistake, it made a mess in the cookie press. We just spooned the butter cookie dough on cookie sheets and the kids loved putting the colored sugar on to decorate them.

     The roll-out sugar cookies were also a challenge, but after the kids got the hang of making sure there was flour on the wax paper and on top of the dough, it worked out better. Each of the grandchildren did different parts of the job, depending on their developmental stage. The grandmas did much of the transferring from the wax paper to the cookie sheets.

     The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were not impressive looking, so the kids dolled them up with the red, green, orange, and yellow sugar crystals.

Abby making cookies     After the sugar cookies were cooled, the kids ice them and put more colored sugar on them. Donna noted that as the kids sampled more and more of the cookies, the more hyper they became. I also think they got bored with the project. We re-engaged their interest when they cut out the wax paper circles to put in the cookie tins to separate the layers of cookies. They were proud of making presents for their parents and other relatives.

     For me, this baking was part of the circle of life. My mother made cookies every year as presents for my teachers and the neighbors. I’m proud to carry on the tradition.

Resonating at the Rhythm Room

December 11, 2010

Resonating at the Rhythm Room

            Pinetop Perkins played the blues at the Rhythm Room last night. He’s ninety-seven and he still has it. His voice was strong and his keyboarding resonated in my soul.

            I went with a friend who’s enduring a bad time in her life: breast cancer and a nasty breakup with a guy she was engaged to for eighteen years. He got married a few months after he ended the relationship. My opinion is that she escaped both with her life and has a chance at more joy.

            First we went to dinner at Hula’s and sat outside near the fire pit. It was a great place for her to just talk about all that’s been going on. I’m a good sounding board because I no longer feel it necessary to “fix’ other peoples’ lives. I can finally be compassionate without offering advice. Well, I have to admit I still do, but only if advice is asked for.

            The twenty dollar cover charge for the show at the Rhythm Room was steep for me, but turned out to be well worth it. We got there a half an hour before the show, but the place was packed. There were no more seats. We picked a spot to stand behind some people who were seated.

           The Rhythm Room All-Stars took to the stage first for a short set. They rocked and I found myself dancing in place which is more fun than trying to dance in a chair.

            During the break, my friend and I talked to some younger fellows who were standing next to us. She knew the people who lived next to one of them in central Phoenix! One man told us not to miss the Walter Trout concert that was coming up. We had a nice chat without any of the “looking each other over” stuff.

            When he band started up again, the people sitting in front of us went out on the dance floor. After one number, Pinetop Perkins joined the band. People stayed out on the dance floor and watched the concert from there. We got to sit down and had a perfect view of this Blues legend. I was mesmerized by Pinetop Perkins. The whole place rocked! I bought a CD of his music and have been playing it all morning.

            Before last month I rarely went to music venues with friends. The women I had been asking didn’t want to spend the money. I think they also didn’t want to expose themselves as single and “looking,” even though most of my single friends have given up on finding a guy or a relationship. It’s great to have a friend to share this experience and not be on the lookout for guys. I see more live music in my future!

A Year in Review: A look at Last Year’s New Year’s Resolutions

December 9, 2010

 A Year in Review:  A look at Last Year’s New Year’s Resolutions

      I’m looking at last year’s resolutions to see if I kept any and what to change for 2011.

     My Number One Resolution was to lose weight. Nope, I didn’t, but at least I didn’t gain any. I’ll have to put that back on the list of resolutions. It’s a perennial.

     Number Two was to live within my budget. My budget is further out of control since my son came to live with me. He’s on probation and the costs attached to that are unbelievable. And there’s his $165.00 a month probation fees, his health insurance, his car, and his car insurance, not to mention food and the extra summer utilities. He has a job but he was hurt after two weeks and they haven’t said anything about workmen’s comp. And he has Valley Fever.

     Resolution Number Three was to be less judgmental. I think I made headway on this one. I’ve accepted quirks about my family without making value judgments. They have different paradigms. Not a bad ones but different from mine. I still have to work on this one.

     My next resolution was to define boundaries with others. I‘m still adjusting to my youngest son living with me. I caved in on the rule that my son couldn’t live with me if he smoked. Then again, he has been courteous in smoking only outside and emptying ashtrays. I’ve had some success in setting boundaries. He knows not to use my computer or come into my room without permission. He cleans up after himself and does not expect me to do his laundry. I refused to let him get a dog and he knows I mean it. I try not to nag him about what he needs to do, but this part still needs work. My new resolution will be not to nag.

     Resolution Number Five was to believe in the possibility of finding a partner. I had two romances this past year. The first fellow let me know right away that I wasn’t “the one” so I made sure not to get too emotionally involved. The second romance was a fun summer fling. I didn’t have the opportunity this year to find out if I can find a lasting partner and trust on a deep level.

     Laugh more was another resolution. I do think I accomplished this. I took myself less seriously. As proof I offer up that I played a twenty year-old on roller skates in Leading Ladies in the Munds Park production in August.

     As for new resolutions, I have three. I’m going to get my novel published and my play produced. I like the writing part of being an author and hate the marketing to get it published part. I’m going to bite the bullet and send out a query letter once a week. I’ve had my query letter critiqued by a master, so I know that won’t be the reason for a rejection. And I resolve to follow up on query letters, too. And I’m going to submit my play to the Pinewood Players for consideration for the 2012 season.

     My second new resolution is to find a new part-time job. Spring 2011 will probably be my last contract with ASU. They’re changing the model of supervising student teachers.

     Another resolution is to enjoy live music whether I’m dating or not. Although I’m not afraid to do it alone, it’s more fun with friends.

     I hope you all have fulfilled your last year’s resolutions and are making new


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