Saturday, December 31, 2005

It's just another new year's eve, another day like all the rest

I just don't know what to say.

All day I've tried to come up with something to blog about.

I wanted to write about new year's eve and how it's importance has changed over the years. For years it was imperative to have a plan for the evening. People would ask for months prior, "what are you doing for new year's eve?". And for many years, I was sure to have an answer to that question.

I remember in my teens and 20's, the anticipation was great...dressing up, going to wouldn't be caught dead without a plan.

In my 30's and married, it was still important to have some kind of plan. We hosted several parties where people would arrive and depart at various times throughout the night. One year, we spent the entire night watching Monty Python's Meaning of Life because we just couldn't get enough of the big guy spewing. (Obviously, that was the beginning of the downfall of my new year's eves!)

Through my 40's, still with young kids, we began a tradition of going to the movies and out for dinner with several families. Treasured time with my children I wouldn't trade for the world.

And now I move gently into my 50's.
Don't feel old.
Hell, I don't even look that old (or so I'm told)
But age and years have changed what I value.

I noticed something different this year...when someone asked me a few weeks ago "so what are you doing for new year's eve?"...I realized not only did I have no plans...I hadn't even thought about it. It didn't seem to have the same importance.

We ended up seeing King Kong and going out to dinner tonight. We were home by 7:30, and of course I'm waiting to see Dick Clark.

And, I'm happy. I'm home safe and sound with my family...going to eat some icecream...content.

I still don't know what to blog about.

So I guess I'll just wait til tomorrow...maybe then I'll have something to say.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Be seein' you at the movies

Geeeeeez... can somebody please tell me when going to the movies became a pain in the neck?

The other night, after my husband and I sat down in our seats...two women sat down next to us...okay, big deal.

The lights go down and they both decide it's time to they go. Now, it doesn't really matter that we have to shift the general direction of our legs and coats, and miss half of what's on the screen, because the next 15 minutes were to be spent watching COMMERCIALS. (Isn't that why we go to get away from t.v. and the bombardment of advertising?).

The commercials end, and the previews begin...okay, not so fact, previews are actually fun. But the two women come back. We untangle and shift again, as they slide past us, only this time they are armed (and dangerous, I might add).

The smell of hot dogs and onions go wafting by us...I'm about ready to "blow chunks" as we used to say in college.

The hot dogs are rapidly eaten, and all is right with the world again, right? WRONG!

The woman next to me has her entire internet with her. Not just a cell phone, not just a camera cell phone...she has the the world wide web at her fingertips. The light of her blackberry is blaring, as she frantically pushes buttons.

Behind me, someone is practicing their daily kickboxing routine on the back of my chair.

Two rows over, a baby is crying.

A few seats away, a man snorts every time he laughs. And he laughs everytime his wife tells him what's happening next...Thanks, lady...I didn't really want to watch the movie and discover the plot on my own.

Suddenly all seems to settle down. The baby stops crying, the man is no longer snorting, just an occasional throat-clearing. The kickboxer seems to have knocked himself out, and all problems have been solved on the world wide web. It's quiet!

Or so I think...the lady in front of me decides it's time to pull out the candy...candy wrapped to achieve freshness until the year 2010. The sound is deafening as she begins to unravel layer upon layer of cellophane wrapping. Only saving's CHOCOLATE! (and smells good, no more feelings of chunk blowing at least)

I used to love going to the movies. In fact for years, we went almost every Saturday night. It was our escape for a couple of hours from the grind of the week.

It seems that really great movies are few and far between though. DVD's have become preferrable in many ways...watching a so-so movie at home doesn't seem to be as much of a loss as watching a so-so movie on the big screen.

But there is still something about the magic of the big screen. Some movies, and certain scenes in particular, are just meant to be viewed that way.

So, if someone can please tell me where the theatre is that doesn't allow cell phones, blackberries, crying babies, kickboxers, plot spoilers, and snorters...I'll be there.

Okay, I'm done ranting.

Thank you.

I went to a Garden Party, to reminisce with my old friends...

Last night, while eating icecream (of course), I was flipping around the dial when my remote came to a screeching halt. Larry King Live was interviewing the family of the late Ricky Nelson.

For those of you who don't know, back in the '50's (yeah, yeah, I know, some of your weren't even born yet) the first "family" sitcom produced was "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet". It was a t.v. show using the real life characters of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson (who had been a band leader and singer, respectively) and their two sons David and Ricky.

It was a typical '50's (who wore pearls to vacuum), dad (who no one ever knew what he did for a living), and the antics of the two boys. The show was on for 14 years...and the boys literally grew up before the audiences eyes.

As Ricky became a teenager, various episodes became a "showcase" for his singing and guitar playing. He became a figure close to that of Elvis...girls fainting and swooning all over the place when he sang.

His records hit number one and, as I learned last night, he sold almost as many records as Elvis. He had made an indelible impression on the music industry, but more importantly, on the fans who grew up watching him and loving him.

Twenty years ago, on new year's eve...while getting ready for the evening, the t.v. was on in the background. I heard the announcement..."Ricky Nelson, dead in a private plane crash". I couldn't believe what I was hit me hard for some reason. I remember it like I remember hearing about Kennedy (and yes, that's President Kennedy).

And, as I watched Larry King Live last night, it hit me hard again. There sat his four children, talking about their sweet, talented dad, who they missed terribly.

In his later years, he found his own voice and writing skills, having written the song "Garden Party"...becoming a huge hit and an answer back to his audience who didn't want him to grow-up and change.

As I sat there watching his four children talk about their dad, I tried to figure out what it was that had hit me so hard.

Several thoughts floated through my brain. When someone is a part of your childhood, it's hard to shake off the impression someone makes on you. He was such an endearing kid and irresistable teenager, and because we watched him literally grow up before our very eyes, it felt as if he belonged to us, the audience.

He had a sweet, genuine way about him. He seemed to have a gentle soul, with a voice and a manner that was calming and mesmorizing.

Each one of Ricky Nelson's children, heard the news as I announcement on the t.v. And as if that wasn't bad enough, there was an ongoing (untrue) accusation of drugs on board, being the cause of the crash. That accusation floated around for months, maybe years. (It was a faulty heating system leak that brought the plane down).

So I guess, in the end, Ricky Nelson made an impression a few different ways in my life.
First, as a little girl, mesmorized by this good-looking singing teenager, swooning his way into my heart and the hearts of young girls everywhere.

Most importantly, he was a dad (or "Pop", as his kids referred to him). A dad whose life was cut short, much like my own father's. Maybe that's what hit me so at the time. I knew he had young kids, whose lives would be forever changed by this one event. And even worse, they had to do this with the public looking on. He was only 45. And in his short 45 years, he was loved by millions.

Ricky Nelson touched many lives, but none were as touched as the lives of his children. I understand the loss that remains with them. I understand their lifetime of trying to make sense of such a senseless ending. But they can take solace in knowing that his legacy will not go unforgotten by millions of fans.

Although famous people touch our lives in an obvious way, it is the everyday people that I hope make a difference as well. I like to think that my dad made a difference in the lives of his students. That being an elementary school teacher, there are children out there whose lives were changed, maybe just a little bit, because he had been their teacher.

So thanks to the famous, and the not so famous, who mark the moments in our lives that make lasting impressions in our memories and in our hearts.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Whose line is it anyway?

Saturday afternoon, which was of course Christmas eve, my husband and I did the unthinkable...we went out to the local mall. Mind you, we had no shopping to do, we just enjoy spying the masses running around, desperately trying to fulfill the dreams and requests of their loved (and not so loved) ones.

We were calmly strolling through the mall (well, bobbing and weaving might be a more accurate description), when quite suddenly we came upon a very long line of people. We both exclaimed at the same time, "Wow, what's going on?"

Well, I immediately thought, "maybe they're selling lotto tickets". No, that wasn't it.

Okay then, "they must be giving something food no doubt...I'm in". No, that didn't seem to be it.

"Ohhh, of course...the line to sit in Santa's lap!" But nope, that wasn't it either.

Upon careful examination, we finally realized that this long, winding line, easily made up of 60 people, was for none other than...THE READY-TELLER!

I couldn't believe my eyes. The line for the ready-teller was longer than the line for Santa Claus.
My husband and I looked at eachother in utter amazement.

What in the world was happening here? What happened to the old fashioned way of gift buying...running your credit cards up the wazoo? Were these people out of their minds, actually considering replenishing their cash stash and continuing on their merry gift- buying way?

What an eye- opening shocker this was. I just wanted to stand there and yell to the masses..."what's wrong with you people? Have you forgotten the American way? Have you forgotten the true meaning of run your credit into the ground only to give gifts that will be hated, returned or re-gifted within a few days"?

I felt like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life"...As though I had completely lost my way, nothing made sense, nothing was recognizable...I needed a Clarence the Angel to remind me that all would be okay.

And, then, as if by magic, it happened. As we continued our journey through the mall, every turn we took, every kiosk we encountered, was another person asking to buy here on credit. Another sign money down, pay in 2 years.

My faith had been restored, all seemed right with the world again. I knew that America hadn't completely gone insane.

Buying on credit was still alive and well! But I knew, that visions of people lined up at the ready teller, actually choosing to use cash over credit...would haunt me.

And that Christmas 2005, would be a year I would not soon forget.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I want to say just one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? PLASTICS!

When I was a little girl, we would often visit my grandparents in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. They were Russian immigrants who came here by way of Canada to New York and finally to lovely Los Angeles. In those days, L. A. was filled with dreams of Hollywood, orange groves, blue skies, and year round sunshine. They lived in several places before I was born, but the place I remember was their apartment near Fairfax.

What I remember most about their apartment was... PLASTIC! Every sofa, every chair, was dressed with a specially sized covering of clear PLASTIC. Now, as if that weren't enough...even the carpets were shielded with plastic runners.

My formative years were spent trying to figure out why. What would lead these two little Russian immigrants to such strange behavior?

Was it for comfort? I don't think so...considering that trying to pry yourself off the couch without leaving the skin from the back of your legs was no easy feat...I don't think it was for comfort.

Was it for cleanliness? Perhaps...I suppose there's alot to be said for being able to hose down your furniture at the end of each day.

Was it for status? Maybe...The 60's was a time for PLASTICS, as was so aptly pointed out in the movie "The Graduate".

Was it for protection? Could be...we know the '80's was all about "protection"...maybe they were just ahead of their time.

Whatever the reason, I do know this...that plastic covered furniture is a memory I now hold close. My grandparents lived a hard life. They left their home to come to a land of great promise...promises that were in many ways fulfilled. But they had to live through the death of their only son. And I can't remember a day where I felt their anger, resentment, or the unending pain that I now know they must have felt.

My grandfather lived to the age of 93, writing love letters to my grandmother 'til the day he died. Not a visit would go by, where he didn't tell me the latest joke. And, although my grandmother complained that she hadn't slept in 50 years, she lived to the age of 89, dying only a year and a half after my grandfather.

Maybe, in the end, the reason for the PLASTIC was this...Preservation.

It preserved the furniture that to them meant they had "made it"...they had achieved the American dream. And within that dream they preserved a marriage, a family, a life together for 63 years. I'm grateful for those memories and the model of a long lasting marriage made of ups, downs, hard work, humor, love, and loyalty.

Maybe that guy's advice in "The Graduate" wasn't so far off the mark after all.

(post inspired by Danny Miller)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tis the Season...for memories

Yep, that's's 1962... I'm 7. I'm a nice Jewish girl, sitting on Santa's lap. I'm bundled up in my jacket with the faux fur hood, because, afterall, this is Los Angeles...and a brisk 75 degrees outside.

When I look at that little girl I think, she looks sweet and content (okay, a ridiculous hairdo for a 7 year old...but it's 1962, what do you expect).

Little did I know that soon, my entire world would come crashing down. It was right about this time that my dad...a handsome, 38 year old elementary school teacher, was diagnosed with what would begin a 3 year battle with Leukemia. My mom and dad (at my dad's request) had decided to tell only a select few about his brother and I were not one of them. My dad was proud and strong, and didn't want anyone to treat him differently because of his illness. And so began my parents silent struggle to raise 2 children... work, love, and play... waiting for that unknown moment when everything would come tumbling down.

My understanding is, my dad never really faced head on, the fact that he would die from this disease. Perhaps that is why he defeated the odds of 40 years ago, and lived with Leukemia for 31/2 years...unheard of at the time.

When I look at this picture, I vacillate between resentment and contentment. Resentful that... until the day my father died, I had no idea that I would never see him again. Content that...I could be a 7 year old girl, with a goofy hairdo, bundled in a ridiculous coat, sitting on Santa's lap, happy, and sweet...because I had no idea that in just 3 short years, I would never see my dad again.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hanukah, Shmanukah...let's have a "Holiday Party"

Last night was our annual Hanuk (oops, sorry) "Holiday Party". Friends and relatives seem to look forward to our party each year...and why not...we provide ambience, plenty of libations, free food (as my husband says, if you feed them, they will come) including homemade latkes (well from the box, but, let's face it, who wants to peel 50 potatoes when Manischewitz will do it for you).

The evening plays out the same each year...I spend the day setting up tables, chairs, decorationg, filling vases with flowers, finding places to hide all the crap laying around the house so people will actually buy that we are clean and neat.

After spending 8 hours readying the place, I rush upstairs to shower and easy feat when you are now 50...just in the nick of time to greet our family and friends. In they swarm...suddenly the house is filled with 40 people (small this year in comparison to the ususal 55).

When everyone has arrived, it's time to unveil the beautiful Brent's deli platters. Suddenly the room stops, they look, and then it happens...they's the wedding scene right out of "Goodbye Columbus" all over again. Now for those of you who don't know...Jews love their deli...nothing comes between a Jew and his deli. My husband swears he can hear the music from "Jaws" playing whenever the crowd hits the food. Within 10 minutes, the latkes are completely devoured...deli is strewn about everywhere. People's clothes are half torn off from being pushed and pulled out of someone's way. It is not a pretty scene. But it's a scene that takes place, year after year, for the last 16 years.

When the feeding frenzy ends...a quiet, yet eery hush befalls the room. That is the sound of 40 satisfied's a beautiful and, may I add, gratifying sound.

A little time passes, and the guests begin to come to life again. Feeling satiated and replenished...we are able to move on to the next festivities of the evening...the "$5 gift exchange game". That's when everyone is assigned a number. When their number is called, they choose a gift. The next person called, can either pick a new gift, or steal from another. The frenzy begins again...40 adults become ruthless over a box of Jelly Bellies, or a Starbuck's gift if the future of their life depended on getting that gift. By the end of the game, everyone has a cheap $5 gift in hand, and once again the crowd is subdued and satisfied.

Next, a little dessert is in order (a "little" meaning 4 cakes, 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 3 dozen brownies, a chocolate cream pie, and plenty of candy). Don't worry, I didn't bake all of that. Several guests were kind enough to contribute to the dessert brigade.

Soon the party ends...kisses and hugs abound everywhere. The door closes...and the clean up begins. On comes the Christmas music for clean-up inspiration (oops, did this nice Jewish girl say that?...well, I did already admit to this a few postings ago).

Now, I have an amazing husband, who has the joint cleaned up in no time. This man is from the "take no survivors" school of clean-up... "toss out everthing that isn't battened down"...I'm lucky he doesn't toss me out. So, within an hour clean up is complete.

Time to debrief about the party...but we're both too tired to say much...we just live with another year of satisfaction, knowing that we are responsible for sending 40 Jews back out into the world with a full stomach and a crappy little $5 gift...the true meaning of Hanuk (oops, I mean "the Holidays")

Friday, December 16, 2005

Songs in the Key of Life

I love music...songs are like tiny threads that make up the tapestry of our lives. Just 3 notes of a song can send you spiraling right back to a memory...first kiss, graduation, high school dance, college, or the day you applied for your first job.

I remember the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan... when I hear those songs, I feel eight years old. Put a Chicago album on, and I'm a 16 year old going to her first concert all over again. Without Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, I may not have made it through college. I actually lived (and danced, and even more frightening...dressed) through the disco era. Anyone dumped by a boyfriend knew every single word to "I Will Survive".

Music can bring you up or down. Nothing evokes emotion more.

Think about how different a movie would be without it. Without the music, you may not know to be frightened by the impending shark in the water. Without Harry Connick Jr. singing in the background, Billy Crystal running through the streets of Manhattan to get to Meg Ryan might have looked ridiculous (well, okay... maybe he did anyway, but you get my point).

Next time a certain song comes how you change, perk up or go down. Just curious...What are the songs that make up your tapestry?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

If you "right" it, they will come

Why write a blog, anyway? How do you get it right, so people will want to comment? What makes me think that what I have to say is worth reading? I suspect, that no one will be reading this... except me.
I have been following blogs for about 9 months now...fascinated with the writings and lives of people I will probably never meet. Almost feels voyeuristic at times. It's such a strange phenomenon. If it isn't already a sociology college course, it should be...The study of blogging 101. I suppose it's the equivalent of the pen-pal, only instead of penning with one person, you pen with 100's (ha, who am I if 100 people are reading this...well of course I recently found out that 87 people did!)
I don't know if I will continue this pursuit or not. As I said in a previous post...positive reinforcement works well for me. If I get no comments, I probably won't continue. But then again, that brings me back around to the original question...why write a blog anyway?
If it's for positive reinforcement from others...I better quit now! But if it's for myself, to discover what creative talents might be waiting inside...then I guess I'll hang on for a little while longer...(but a little reinforcement would be nice).

Single twist of fate

Have you ever wondered how one event changes the course of your life?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Coming out of the Closet (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Alright, it's time I come out of the closet...I love Christmas music...can't get enough of it. A few years ago a local radio station started playing "All Christmas, all the time" from Thanksgiving on. Perfect! For some reason it takes me back to my childhood. Walking through malls gently playing the songs of the season. But, my childhood was spent celebrating Hanukah, not Christmas. We never had a tree, or lights, or Santa Claus. We never woke up Christmas morning to the anticipation of presents under the tree. I loved going to my next door neighbor's house to admire their tree, twinkling lights, and Rudolph on the roof. And yet, I never felt left out or resentful that I didn't have a tree. My parents made sure that Hanukah was, latkes, presents, decorations. Whatever they did, it worked. To this day, I do not crave a tree, or lights, or Santa for that matter. For 16 years, our home has been Hanukah party central...providing the next generation with warm memories to take along with them. But when the party is over, and we're cleaning up the chairs and tables, and mopping the floor...a little Nat King Cole doesn't hurt!

Positive reinforcement really works

Okay, since I've actually gotten 2 comments (2 more than I ever expected), I am compelled to enter another post.
Last month I turned can that be...I can remember my mother turning can I be 50? But it's not necessarily a bad thing. I can buy senior tickets at the theatre, because let's face it, a 16 year old doesn't know a 50 year old from a 60 year old. I can go for the early bird special at my favorite steakhouse (even though I haven't actually been to a steak house in 25 years). I can speak my mind and nobody will care, they'll just write it off to "look, the crazy old lady has lost it again". So, you see, it's not so bad turning 50. And, as a friend of mine said to me on my birthday, "We baby boomers are not going down easily". After all, we brought the world The Beatles, Jazzercise, Woodstock, and Ben and Jerry's...what could be better?

Monday, December 12, 2005

You like me, you really, really like me

Something strange happened today...I originally set up this blog-site so I could comment on other people's blogs...yes, it's true, I am a lurker. I lurk around and give my 2 or 3 cents to various blogs out there in the blogoshere. Just by happenstance, today I decided to link onto my own site...and low and behold, I noticed that 87 (count 'em...87) people have "hit" this thing! Who are you? Why did you hit this site? Is it because you had to see who this big-mouthed lurker is? Is it because you're looking for someone to cruise with? Are you looking for a mom who cruises? I can't figure it out. If you would like to let me know if you are one of the 87 people who have checked out this site...please tell me why...maybe it's just because you like really, really like me!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

first blog

here is my first blog