Life lesson from my mom: Jewish women cannot vacuum. And apparently she’s right.

My mother, all-knowing fount of wisdom that she is, has long maintained that Jewish women cannot vacuum.

Now, I’ve always believed that her hypothesis was somewhat along the lines of my hypothesis that Jews do not go to Walmart. In theory, I’m sure some Jews have been to Walmart before, but because I don’t want to go to Walmart ever in my life, I use that as my rationale for not going. My mother has no intention of vacuuming, so I assumed she says that she can’t to avoid it.

But I, on a poor, pitiful teacher’s salary, cannot afford a housekeeper. And my mother, for no reason that I can understand other than sheer meanness, refuses to pay for hers to come clean my house.

So from time to time, I find myself required to break her dictum against our people using that particular household instrument and actually use a device that sucks the dirt off of my carpet. (Which only came after what basically boiled down to my losing a giant game of “Not It!” against the boyfriend to determine who had to vacuum. We’re very mature at Casa De Goodman.)

So, being adaptable, I dusted off the vacuum, brought it into the bedroom, plugged it in, and pushed the power button.


At which point absolutely nothing happened.

Well, that’s not exactly true. The power on that entire wall went out. Both sides. Meaning I no longer had cable, internet, power to either the bedroom or living room tv, my laptop, or any of my other entertainment providing devices. Not good.

But I’ve lived in my apartment for seven-and-a-half years now. I’ve had power issues before with only two resulting fires and one near-death electrocution incident. So I consider myself quite the expert at finding the fuse box and flipping the circuit breakers. But no breakers had tripped. I tried flipping them all anyway. Which meant I had a trembling dog perched on top of my head because Rosie is terrified whenever the power goes out and starts shaking uncontrollably. Then she either needs to find the highest ground she can (ie the top of my head) or hide behind the toilet. Apparently those are the two safest spots to be in an electrical emergency.

But it didn’t fix the problem.

Meaning it was time to call in the pro—my dad. I called him and began explaining the problem, but he cut me off before I could finish. “Wait,” he said. “I thought Jewish women couldn’t vacuum.” 

I sighed and continued, pretending I couldn’t hear my mother in the background yelling, “See? Jewish women CAN’T vacuum! Look what happens when we try!”

“Flip the circuit breakers,” he advised. I told him I had already done that. “Well, then you’re f*****.”

Thanks dad. Really. Thank you. And thank you for then leaving the country for Mexico instead of coming over to help with the problem. Particle astrophysics conference my ass. I think you went on vacation to avoid rewiring my house!

But I digress.

And unfortunately, because my father and I have a good relationship, I don’t have daddy issues. So instead of finding a guy just like my dad, meaning a physicist, the boyfriend is an English nerd like me. And apparently so are my building’s maintenance guys because after doing the exact same thing I’d already done (flipping the circuit breakers), and some head scratching, they told me to call an electrician.

Which, I suppose, is better than what I expected them to do, which was put a giant hole in my wall trying to fix the wiring. I was one-hundred percent convinced I would come home from school on Tuesday to find a gaping vortex in the drywall and no sign of Rosie except the scraping sound of her little gremlin feet inside the walls and a creepy voice saying, “Carol Ann, go into the light!”

So okay, I called the electrician that my maintenance guys recommended. Three days, multiple phone calls and voicemails later, he still hasn’t called me back. My current theory is that he too went to Mexico to avoid fixing my wiring, or else is stuck in someone else’s wall vortex.


But the more pressing issue was that I hadn’t gotten to watch Mad Men from Sunday night yet. And the clock was ticking! If I didn’t watch it soon, I was going to go insane and start killing people.

Not to mention the fact that the maintenance guys made it worse and cut the power to my entire bedroom, so I was stuck without cable, internet, OR lights.

The boyfriend didn’t seem to care. Having spent three years living in his aunt’s cabin in District 12, he’s used to surviving without power or television. And without those basic necessities, I began to realize that Katniss doesn’t volunteer as tribute to save her sister. Oh no. She volunteers for the chance to get the hell out of the boonies and be able to freaking watch Mad Men like a normal person!

Several recommendations later, I placed calls to about six electricians, and the one who called back first and was able to come to my house that afternoon won. He fixed the problem with ease (making me wonder, what the hell am I paying such an exorbitant condo fee for if my maintenance guys can’t figure out something so simple that, had they not scared me about touching the wiring, I could have done myself?), and at minimal cost.

But we had to move some furniture to get to the outlets.

Which is when we found the mouse poop.

Ah, the joys of owning a condo.

But at least I got to watch Mad Men, so all is right with the world.

And I was able to say definitively to the boyfriend, with an abundant amount of evidence and an electrician’s bill to prove it, that Jewish women cannot vacuum, and it is therefore now his job when we clean the apartment.

Which, in the end, was worth the hassle.

But not the mouse poop. Be warned little mousie, I’m investing all of my resources into the war on mouse terror that I’m now launching and I’m far more efficient than the US at destroying terrorist cells in my land!

Game on.

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What would Don Draper do? Scratch that, what would a NINJA do?

My parents recently discovered that the best way to watch television shows is to wait until they’re about six seasons in and then buy the first five seasons and watch them in a row without commercials.

Which also means that my parents are now shut-ins who haven’t left their house in six months except to forage for more complete seasons of Dexter, Mad Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Gossip Girl (don’t ask. Trust me).

At first, I found this amusing. Then sad. Then amusing again. Then sadder. And then horrifying.

Because my parents tried to lure me into their shut-in, complete-seasons-of-television-watching lifestyle by offering me the dvds when they were done with them. And as they dangled free shows in front of me like a carrot in front of a horse, it dawned on me that this is how cults begin.

But I fell for it anyway, because free stuff is free stuff. And until my book takes off, I’m poor. In fact, because I buy so many pairs of shoes, I’m SO poor that I can’t even afford the whole word “poor.” I’m just po’. Which means that my shopping addiction has even cost me my ability to speak proper English. I’m three more pairs of shoes away from just being p’.

So primarily to keep myself from thinking about shopping, I started watching Dexter.

Three days later, I had seen every episode. Some of them twice.

Four days later, I was caught up to the current season of 30 Rock. (I’d never seen an episode before that. Too many shows are on Thursday nights to dvr them all, so I stuck with the ones I was already watching. Plus I used to have a life.  Now I have Liz Lemon.  It’s a fair trade.)

And I’m now working my way through Mad Men.

However, I encountered a major problem.

My parents are ALSO working their way through Mad Men. And I’m caught up to where they are. And they don’t want to let me watch the third season before they do. Which is COMPLETELY unfair. I mean, yes, they paid for the dvds, but they’re not chronic insomniacs like I am and therefore waste precious hours that they could spend watching Mad Men sleeping. Which I think makes them fair-weather fans and therefore they should forfeit their right to the third season until I’ve watched it. And besides, what am I supposed to do when I can’t sleep if I can’t find out who Don Draper is going to be sleeping with in the next episode?

So I asked myself, what would Don Draper do in this situation?

Which wasn’t all that helpful. He’d steal someone’s identity, then lie for twenty years, and then cheat on his wife with someone new once a week, all while drinking an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and coming up with the perfect campaign for a new Sterling Cooper client.

That wasn’t going to get me any dvds.

So I asked myself, what would Betty Draper do?

That wasn’t very helpful either. I drank a lot of wine, chain smoked six packs of cigarettes, and tried to look the other way.  Then I snapped and broke a chair.

No dvds in that strategy.

What would Peggy do? Well she’d be really frumpy, then get really fat, then turn out to be pregnant and not tell anyone for two years.

No thanks.

Joan would work her feminine wiles, but I’m 100 percent sure that that wouldn’t work on my PARENTS. And it’d be beyond icky if it did.

So even Joan failed me.

Then I wised up and realized that acting like a character from Mad Men wasn’t going to get me any closer to season three.

So I asked myself, what would a ninja do?

Jackpot.

I spent the next three days learning martial arts on demand (seriously, they have EVERYTHING on demand these days. I took a break from my training montage and learned how to make crème brulee, change a tire, and churn Amish-style butter, all courtesy of on demand programming). Then I dressed in all black, painted my face black, dyed Rosie’s fur black, and snuck over to my parents’ house in the dead of night.

Once there, I climbed up onto the roof and lowered myself down the chimney Mission Impossible style to steal the dvds.

Maybe I should have just let myself in the front door. I mean, I do have a key. Or maybe I shouldn’t have brought the Mission Impossible theme music with me. Or it could have been because I brought Rosie and apparently schnauzers don’t like being dyed black then lowered down a chimney in the middle of the night, even when they’re highly trained ninja schnauzers.

But whatever it was that I screwed up, somehow my parents figured out that they were being robbed, which resulted in my dad chasing me through the house in his underwear with a baseball bat until he realized that it was me. Not a pretty sight.

Of course, when he realized that it was me coming to steal the third season of Mad Men, he woke my mom up, she grabbed an axe, and then they BOTH chased me while brandishing weapons.

And as I learned the hard way, apparently learning to be a ninja from on demand television does NOT actually prepare you for combat with deadly weapon-wielding parents who are defending a complete season of Mad Men.

My parents won that round.

But I didn’t give up. Oh no. I’m no quitter.

They thought it was the snow last week that knocked out their electricity. I’m not saying that I went over there with a pair of wire cutters. I’m just not saying that I DIDN’T go over there with a pair of wire cutters.

No, not really.  I had nothing to do with the epic failure that is Pepco.  They managed that all on their own.

What really happened is my dad went out of town and my mom wasn’t going to watch the third season without him, so I convinced her to let me borrow it on the condition that I return it by the time my dad comes home.

Which means if I don’t get through another two discs by tomorrow night, my parents are going to launch an attack that’s going to make the situation in Egypt right now look mild. We’re talking cutting off the whole country’s internet, looting, extreme political unrest, the works. 

Hell, they’ll probably make the biblical problems in Egypt look mild, complete with rivers turning to blood, locusts, frogs, cattle disease, slaying of the first born, and (horror of all horrors) the destruction of my entire shoe collection.

In other words, I’m potentially endangering the free world by taking a break from watching Mad Men to write this. See how dedicated I am to you? Feel special.

And I get to go through this all again when season four comes out on dvd.  Which leaves me a few months to perfect my ninja skills.  This time, I WILL defeat my parents in the epic battle.  But until then, it’s back to Mad Men

Shh.  It’s starting.