My family has class… in very small doses. And will do ANYTHING for dessert!

As I’ve learned over the past couple of weekends, there IS such a thing as too much family time.

 

Okay, I already knew that, and I would usually claim too much family time as anything over five minutes every three months.

But last weekend, we had my mom’s birthday (a dinner) and a Memorial Day barbeque that we tried to combine with the boyfriend’s family’s barbeque (fail—two separate barbeques, one Sunday, one Monday).

Then this past weekend was my grandfather’s birthday, which had to be split into two separate celebrations because of my uncle’s ultra-orthodox (cough believes-Obama-is-a-Muslim-and-everything-else-Fox-News-says cough) wife and children. So there was a (not-kosher) dinner Saturday night, followed by a (super kosher to the point where I wasn’t allowed to bring anything even though my grandmother doesn’t keep a kosher house either and made stuff for it) brunch Sunday morning.

All were mostly legitimate enterprises, and I understand the inherent value in celebrating the extended life of my mother and grandfather, even if I disagree with the fact that it necessitates two separate celebrations.

I can even almost handle how much of my free time it destroyed.

That wasn’t the problem. The problem is that THAT much family time results in the boyfriend having WAY too much overexposure to my family in WAY too short of a time period.

Mom’s birthday was lovely. It was just me, him, and my parents at a nice restaurant. Yes, there was some food sharing, but all preceded by very polite offering of food or asking to try a bite.

The barbeque the next night was a little less civilized, with my grandparents and Rosie now in attendance. My grandmother is notorious about feeding Rosie from the table. I always warn her not to and she always SWEARS she would NEVER feed Rosie ANYTHING without asking my permission first.

Then she gives her anything and everything.

Like the time I left Rosie at Grandma’s house for an hour to run some errands. Grandma had complained about not seeing her “only great-grandchild” frequently enough (we’ll ignore the Jewish guilt inherent in that complaint. If it were up to her, I’d have married a random Jewish guy years ago and have already popped out a small army of babies named after her parents and siblings).

When I came to get Rosie, Grandma informed me that Rosie had been starving. “How do you know?” I asked, eying her untouched food bowl that I had filled before I left her with my grandparents.

“Well, because we were eating steaks and she kept crying for some, so I gave her one.”

“You mean you gave her a PIECE of steak?”

“No,” my grandma said. “I gave her a whole steak. And she ate the whole thing. You clearly don’t feed her enough.”

Not to mention the time I left the table at a family dinner during dessert and walked back a minute later to see my grandmother holding Rosie up so that she could stick her entire face into a container of Cool Whip.

So that barbeque meant that Rosie was in a chicken coma for the rest of the weekend because I’m pretty sure my grandmother fed her AT LEAST double her body weight in chicken.

But okay, the boyfriend wasn’t scared off yet. He loves my grandparents and even played tennis with my dad the following morning. And we had the barbeque with his aunt the next night to balance everything out.

Then came Grandpa’s birthday. It was the boyfriend’s first time meeting a few of the people there, including the uncle who, after shaking my boyfriend’s hand, immediately offered us an old crib he has in his attic. A little premature (and no, I do NOT want a deathtrap crib from the 1960s, thank you). But he handled that with grace and we all sat down to dinner.


 Remember the food fight scene in Hook?

That looked civilized compared to Grandpa’s birthday dinner.

And sadly, it was one of the nicest dinners our family has ever had out. It was a much larger gathering, with aunts, uncles, and cousins of varying ages.

Which consisted of everyone reaching across the table to eat off of everyone else’s plate, my uncle taking the lobster claws off my grandfather’s plate and pinching people with them, then my grandfather still eating the meat out of them, half a crabcake disappearing off of my plate and onto someone else’s while I wasn’t looking, and my mother basically whoring herself out for a bite of Boston cream pie.

I’ve gone to dinner with the boyfriend’s family. The men wore jackets. There were no cell phones at the table. People used the appropriate forks for the appropriate courses. No one wore a lobster bib. There were civilized silences (which I’ll admit, scared the crap out of me. But apparently they like to enjoy their meals in dignity. Who knew that existed?). And no one—NO ONE ate from anyone else’s plate.

At one point, during Saturday night’s dinner, it got so bad that I turned to the boyfriend and asked if he still loved me.

To which he replied, “Yes. But now I see where you get it from.” Which made me feel like a total barbarian. Yes, he’s accused me of “Cookie Monster eating” before—not because I shove food in my mouth at an abnormal speed, but because I lack the coordination to always ensure that food stays on my fork.


(Which, to be fair, we can blame my parents for. Anyone who remembers eating at my house when we were kids remembers the sporks. They got them in the 70s, when apparently anything went, which also applied to multi-functional silverware.)

But I wasn’t like the rest of the family, I argued! Although my case would have been stronger had I not tried to make that argument with a mouth full of half-chewed french fries pilfered off a neighboring plate and a fistful of fried clams stolen from a family friend at the other end of the table in my hand.

I may have also kissed the family friend’s husband on the cheek to taste the Boston cream pie. But that’s neither here nor there.

Like mother like daughter I suppose.

Advertisements

Thanksgiving may only be my 5th favorite holiday, but I’m still thankful for it

Ah, Thanksgiving. My fifth favorite holiday.

Mostly because it gets me out of school for four sweet, glorious, sleep-filled days.

Well not this year, because I’m going to LA at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning (literally. The VERY crack of dawn), and coming home on the red eye Saturday night because my dad is a complete and utter psychopath and the antithesis of sleep.

Why is it my fifth favorite holiday? Well Purim is the clear winner because you get to dress up in costumes and (they don’t tell you this part in Hebrew school!) you’re SUPPOSED to get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Jews know how to celebrate a holiday.

 Of course, all of our holidays are basically about the same thing. Someone or something tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.

Hanukkah is number two because I love presents. And the hot firemen who show up when I almost burn my house down every year. That alone makes it an awesome holiday, even though it’s a little weak on the religion side.

Thanksgiving probably used to be higher on the list, but the combination of crazy family drama (my desserts aren’t kosher enough for the very recently ultra-orthodox branch of my family. Hypocrisy at its finest considering how often I’ve seen them eat shellfish, but I digress.) and the major weight loss this year that makes me feel that food is my absolute arch enemy has lowered it in the ranking. Now it’s somewhere in between Rosh Hashanah (I like apples. I like honey. Win.) and Tu B’Shvat (which I think is the tree holiday. I’m not really sure what it is, but it doesn’t require that I do anything and I can claim it’s a holiday so I don’t have to do work).

I get to avoid the majority of the drama this year because we’ll be in LA, but that makes this year’s celebration a religious experience for my parents. Their religion? Adamism. They will be spending the long weekend worshipping at the altar of my brother’s feet, while I gag in the corner and try not to incur the wrath of Adam’s most fervent followers while looking at all the yummy food that I no longer eat.

Oh joy, rapture!

Sorry, do I sound bitter?

I’m really not.

And to prove it, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the things that I’m thankful for this year.

1) Bruce Springsteen is alive and well and touring. I know it’s an odd thing to be thankful for, but it’s been a hell of a year for me and Bruce! The future of the E Street Band looked uncertain at this time last year because of Clarence’s death, but I did four shows in the same week in the spring run, and then had my own personal Courtney Cox moment when I got pulled up on stage to dance with Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. Seriously, one of the best nights of my life and I’m thankful that I got to experience that!

Hugging Bruce. Yeah.  It happened.
Dancing with Jake. Because he rules.
Campaigning with Bruce.  I still don’t know how this wasn’t the official Obama campaign ad.
Yup.  Just holding hands with Bruce Springsteen.  Typical day in the life of Sara Goodman.

2) My newspaper kids—I promised them a shout-out! It’s no secret that I was pretty miserable at my old school, and I still don’t want to be a teacher when I grow up. But my newspaper kids are the ones who get me out of bed in the morning. Okay, technically, my psychotic addiction to exercise gets me out of bed in the morning, but my newspaper kids are the ones who get me to school. Love you guys!

3) The new version of the Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio in it.  Leo + Gatsby? Oh, there aren’t words to describe the level of thankful that I am for this combination! If there was just a Bruce song in this movie, it would be the most perfect thing EVER in the history of mankind. Just saying.

4) Obama winning! Woohoo! I don’t have to get my ass back in the kitchen and make you a pie!

5) My super awesome boyfriend, who I am sending home for Thanksgiving with a pie that I made. Not because I had to because Romney won, but because I WANT to. See the difference? (But seriously, I’m thankful that this year, when I have to deal with my family, I’m no longer the sad, pathetic, schoolmarm-ish spinster. Not that I ever was, but I was treated that way, which was almost as bad. He seriously quoted Springsteen to me at 7am yesterday. Epic win.)

6) Rosie. That little furball ruined the carpet in my apartment, pretty much destroyed my leather sofas, and has basically destroyed everything else I love. But she’s my baby, and I’m grateful that the little demon is in my life every day.

7) My parents. They annoy the bejeesus out of me. They call me every three minutes with absolutely nothing to say, try to run my life, yell at me constantly, and are generally pretty mean to me. Because they love me very much. They won’t SAY that. But they show it through the constant need to talk to me and the presents they buy me instead of saying they’re sorry when they’re REALLY mean to me (or in my mom’s case, when she creeps me out by picking out baby clothes. STOP IT MOM!)  But my mom did FIND me number 5 on my list, so thanks for that too… JUST STOP BEING CREEPY!

8) That my best friend’s divorce is final. Seriously, I did a little happy dance when that came through. She’s the best and deserves the best and now she has a chance to find it, which I am VERY thankful for!

9) The people who buy and read my books! Someday, when I’m a famous author, you get to say you were reading me before everyone else. You’re my Obie (the Bruce fans get that one) and I appreciate and love you all!

10) Cake. Do I need to explain this one?  (The people who got the joke just died laughing, I promise.)

11) RGIII. Again, no explanation needed. He is the Luke Skywalker of the DC area. He is our hope. He is our future. He will hopefully not kiss his own sister like Luke Skywalker did. But if he does, it’s okay. Because the Redskins suck significantly LESS with him in town.

12) The block feature on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of you know why I’m so thankful for this one. And to Verizon, yes even Verizon, for allowing me to block phone numbers when stalking gets scary.  Thanks guys.

13) Apple products. They all just work, and they work together, and they can do anything and everything. (Hint hint Nick.)

14) Black Friday sales. Because losing weight was REALLY a ploy to get my mother to buy me new clothes. It’s working beautifully.

 

15) Sushi. I’m a newbie, but I’m obsessed. It rocks.

Obviously this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it’s a start. And thinking about what we’re thankful for is really what this holiday is about.

That and carbo-loading for all the Black Friday shopping! Stock up on that stuffing and cornbread now! You’re gonna need it to keep your strength up for tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Good news: I have a boyfriend! Bad news: My mom wants grandkids. NOW!

I believe that today marks the end of my blogging career. And most likely the end of my life.  

Because my mom is going to murder me for this blog. And now that she and I are the same size (that’s right, I said it, I can wear size two jeans! Bring it Mamadukes!), it’s definitely not a fair fight, and I’m pretty sure she can take me.

So why, you might ask, is my mother going to kill me and quite possibly mount my head on her living room wall? 

Easy.

I did exactly what she asked me to do.

Since my prodigious birth not so many years ago (screw you, I’m not old! I don’t care what you say or when you claim to remember me being born, it wasn’t that long ago!), my mother has held great expectations for me when it came to my romantic life.

Then, as I got a little older (and my eggs apparently a little less fresh… which yes, sounds like the start of some horrible commercial on Lifetime. Side note: Is anyone else secretly excited for the Lindsay Lohan Liz Taylor movie? Like I refuse to watch Lifetime under any circumstances, but I’m so planning to cover my windows with light-proof paper and soundproof my apartment so no one knows what I’m up to and watch the hell out of that! The two greatest Hollywood trainwrecks of all time colliding in one Lifetime movie? There hasn’t been a collaboration that awesome since Ben met Jerry!), her criteria devolved to one word: Jewish.


 
This point was reached when I turned approximately seven.

But mom and dad screwed up and sent me to a public high school that had a Jewish population lower than post-Holocaust Germany. (Can I make that joke? No? Okay, sorry. A Jewish population lower than the audience in a Mel Gibson movie? Happy now?) So I never knew Jews growing up and never learned how to bond with them. So by the time I DID meet some in college, I might as well have been a shiksa. But I have a theory on why shiksas are so appealing to Jewish guys: if you tell your Jewish mom that you’re dating a Jewish girl, there’s all this pressure. If you tell her you’re dating a shiksa, no pressure at all. In fact, you’re WAY too young to be serious! Don’t even THINK about getting married yet! Grandkids? Nah, we don’t want ‘em, be young. Enjoy yourself.

I lacked that appeal. So the Jewish boys stayed far, far away, and I viewed them much as one would view a unicorn: a mythical creature that some weird girls claim existed, but that I was pretty sure was never real. Or if it was, Noah didn’t take it with him on the Ark.  

There were family setups over the years, as there always are in big Jewish families. And they were such epic disasters that decency (and my teaching job) prevent me from going into full detail here. Let’s just say that I saw something that I shouldn’t have seen before this one dude who my DAD gave my number to even kissed me! (And to this day, I’m still trying to figure out what my dad said about me to make this guy think THAT was appropriate!)
(The video below sums up the situation quite nicely.) 

And there was the guy who my great aunt thought would be perfect for me who looked like Quasimodo but without his endearing qualities.

And the one who told me on our first date that he thinks books are dumb. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this winner said that TO AN AUTHOR/ENGLISH TEACHER AND COULDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY I DIDN’T WANT TO GO HOME WITH HIM THAT NIGHT.

Finally, I think my mother gave up on me.

Okay, I knew she didn’t. But I chose to believe that because I developed a convenient case of complete and total deafness whenever she mentioned giving my number out to anyone. And as anyone who has ever tried calling me knows, I screen my calls pretty heavily in case she (or my grandma, who has developed an equal case of deafness when I say no to giving my number out. And in general. Talking to her now requires a megaphone, one of those old fashioned ear horns, and the Let’s Get Ready to RUUUUUUUUMBLE guy. It’s difficult at best.) ignores my state of non-hearing and gives my number out anyway.

But for whatever reason, I agreed to ONE LAST setup.

Which, somehow, turned out to be awesome. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sara Goodman has a super cute boyfriend. And he’s Jewish. And he reads. And he loves my books. And he grew up with miniature schnauzers. And he’s taller than me in heels. And he’s super into music.  And he’s smart.  And funny.  And thinks I’m awesome.  And treats me well.  And he makes me happy.

Awww look how cute we are.  And yes, he’s wearing a Great Gatsby t-shirt.  Which I plan to steal.  And which he plans to let me steal.  Because he’s awesome like that.

I’d go on, but I can hear you vomiting from here.

So, I also hear you asking, once the retching has stopped, why is Mama Goods (as he calls her—so cute!) going to kill you?

Easy, because she’s being a total creepy psychopath about this entire situation, and I’m now exposing her for the yenta stalker that she is. At first, it was funny. I used information about us to get her to buy me stuff. But then she started tricking me. Like when she called me crying hysterically because the caterer had screwed up all the food for my grandparents’ anniversary brunch, and the world was ending. So to make her feel better, I gave her some free information. Then when I showed up at the brunch, the world had not ended and the food was fine. I had been outwitted.

And then she started picking out baby clothes. Literally. We went on one of our, “I’ll tell you this if you buy me that” shopping trips, and she starts PICKING OUT BABY CLOTHES.

Not okay, mom.

And when I let her talk to him when she called me one day and didn’t know he was over, I turned to him after and said, “You know she just bought us a stroller, right?” (Sign that he’s a keeper? He laughed at that instead of running away so fast that there was a Bugs Bunny-style hole shaped like him in my door!)

But when I talked to my mother later, and she went on for 18 ½ minutes (the exact length of time missing in the Nixon tapes. Coincidence? Hmmm…) about how awesome and amazing he is (which I agree with, but I find it odd that my mother keeps trying to sell me on my own boyfriend. I’m already dating him. I know him better than you do, mom. Stop it.), I finally cut her off and was like, “Mom, return the stroller.”

 “What stroller?”

“The one I know you bought after you talked to him on the phone.”

She laughed. “I didn’t buy a stroller. It was a crib and a mobile, silly.”

Operation Mama Goodman Wants Grandchildren has begun. To the point where I’m pretty sure that if I were on the Pill, she would have snuck into my apartment and replaced them all with TicTacs already.

But the good news is, until she kills me for writing this blog (or arranges a Rosemary’s Baby-style fertilization ceremony. Seriously, these are the things I have to worry about these days), I’m actually really happy.

So mom, please don’t kill me or implant Satan’s baby in me. Because I love you and you’re very thin and very pretty (even though you’re acting like a complete and total nut job right now!).

Love you, mommy. And thanks for bribing me with a new leather jacket to go on that date. TOTALLY worth it.

(And for actually finding me a good guy.  I was told I had to put that in here or I WOULD be killed for running this blog.  So thank you mom.  Now stop creeping on us and NO FREAKING BABY STUFF, k?  Thanks.)

         

I’m leaving on a jet plane… if I make it through airport security in time for Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving. Everyone’s second favorite holiday.

It would be everyone’s FIRST favorite holiday if we got to eat like pigs AND got presents.  But without presents, it tends to come in second place.

I’m actually pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year though, because my family is going to LA for my brother’s first Thanksgiving as a California resident. So I’ll be a guest Thursday night instead of the forced slave laborer that I usually am when my parents host it.

A normal Thanksgiving for me starts about a week in advance, when my mother tells me what I’m expected to bake (aka all desserts, bread products, and usually about six other things that I’ve never heard of, but am expected to have recipes for anyway).

Then the epically futile search for a non-horrible, non-dairy cornbread recipe begins. My parents keep kosher at their house, so none of the things I make can have even a hint of dairy in them. I’ve tried soymilk cornbread (horrible), non-dairy creamer cornbread (not so bad), chicken-broth cornbread (drier than eating chalk in the Sahara), and vegan non-dairy/no-eggs cornbread (AVOID AT ALL COSTS).

My parents aren’t super kosher, so they have no problem with dairy products making a cameo appearance in the desserts, but after the debacle a couple years ago when my Israeli aunt ran around making her children spit out my cookies because they were made with butter and regular chocolate chips instead of the paerve ones from Trader Joes, I now have to make my desserts completely non-dairy as well (or at least lie and say I did). Which means margarine instead of butter and no store-bought pie crusts.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always a big reunion night, as everyone who’s back in town goes and hangs out with their old high school friends. But I can only do this if I’ve gotten enough of the baking for Thanksgiving done. Which, short of taking the entire week off of school and renting out sixteen extra ovens, is not humanly possible. So instead of me going out, my friends tend to descend on my place before THEY go out, not to see me, but to sample the goodies I’ve been baking. Which means I have to bake twice as much as I would otherwise.

This year, nothing is expected of me at all as long as I get myself to California. Which, because my dad is morally opposed to waiting in any line ever, is always an interesting experience. We’re not allowed to check bags when traveling with him.

Even if we’re going somewhere for six months. It’s strictly what we can carry, because if we have to wait for baggage claim, he’s going to leave us at the airport and we’ll never see him again. True story. I’m an expert at Charles de Gaulle Airport because I was abandoned there for a week while my dad enjoyed Paris. In fact, the movie The Terminal was actually based on my life. You’re welcome, Tom Hanks.

And because there could be nothing worse in my dad’s world than facing the lines inherent in traveling today, we’re leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning instead.

My parents will be staying in a hotel, but I’m staying with my brother, which should be fun, because I haven’t seen him since he moved to Santa Monica in July to do his residency.

I’m NOT, however, looking forward to staying with his cat. If it looked like Hitler, it’d be one thing, but it doesn’t.

And I don’t care how cute he says it is, cats are evil. Even The Simpsons made a statement about that this week.

And nothing that’s on The Simpsons could be wrong. Just like no one who speaks German could be an evil man, right Sideshow Bob?

But overall, I don’t mind the idea of traveling. I’m kind of interested in seeing what all the fuss is about with the full-body scanners. Although if I get selected for that, I might just pick the pat down. Not because I really care if anyone sees me naked, but because it’d be the most action I’ve gotten in awhile.

I also happen to REALLY like airports. I know, I know, I’m weird. But I like people watching. Which is why I’m kinda bummed that we’re flying tomorrow, when it’ll be less crowded instead of today. That’s why I hate the terrorists so much. Not because of all of the new security regulations (honestly, if they want to dig through my bag, I don’t care that much. I can’t fold to save my life anyway—if they rifle through it, it’ll probably be an improvement on my packing job—although it IS annoying that I can’t bring a bottle of water or Diet Coke with me and have to pay six times as much to buy one after security… fail), but because I used to like going to pick people up at the airport so that I could sit at the gate and people watch.

Now, people watching at an airport is boring, because the only people at the gates are the people who are actually flying. And if they’re not greeting people or saying tearful goodbyes, it’s just a lot of staring at people as they flip through magazines, bang away at their laptops, and sip coffee. Watching paint dry is more fun than people watching at an airport these days.

I’m excited to see my cousins in LA though, and I’m looking forward to being a guest for once.

The redeye Saturday night flight home, however? Kill me now.

But I’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And if you ARE having deep-fried Turkey, try not to burn your house down.

Because I don’t care if it’s the holiday season, you’re not crashing with me unless you cook and clean, in which case, you can move in as soon as I get home Sunday morning.