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.

Winter may be coming, but winter break can’t come soon enough!

Tomorrow begins my least favorite month of the year.

Stop calling me a Grinch! It’s not because I hate Christmas!

And for once, I actually have a boyfriend, so Christmas this year will not be spent sitting in a darkened room with my parents and grandparents watching Rooney Mara get anally raped.  

 
 (No, Goodmans don’t typically celebrate Christmas with voyeuristic sodomy. My family made me see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with them last year. And I had to watch that scene sandwiched between my mother and my grandmother. It was worse than the time my dog rolled in another dog’s excrement. We’re talking THAT level of bad.)


And it has nothing to do with my complete and utter lack of understanding of Christmas decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas. (Although I still don’t get why Christians make up random characters to go with their holidays. Jews have the Maccabees and Mordechai and Esther and all, but they are actually related to the holidays they go with. We don’t let a random fat man into our house to lure our children under a tree with presents. Nor do we send our kids to go sit on a strange man’s lap at the mall. Seriously, how does no one recognize that Santa is creepy? And wtf is up with a giant pink bunny hiding eggs? Bunnies don’t even lay eggs! That’s just confusing and equally creepy if it’s the same guy in the bunny suit as in the Santa costume!)

No, December is my least favorite month for three reasons: Hanukkah, cold weather, and school.

Let’s go in order, shall we?

Hanukkah is the world’s worst holiday. And the world’s best holiday because my parents still get me eight wonderful night’s worth of presents. And Sara loves her presents. (Hint hint loyal readers, my shoe size is 8 ½, Ulta gift cards are lovely, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just saying.)

But Jewish guilt then demands that I make sure that my parents both have presents to open for each of the eight nights. Stupid? Yes. But I’m not telling my parents that it’s okay to not give ME a present for any of the eight nights, so they need something too. Even if it’s something little. And my dad hasn’t purchased a present for my mom since I was 12 (in some indeterminate year in the 1990s. I will give you no more clues to my age than that!), when he started dropping me off at the mall with a credit card and saying “buy your mother something nice.”

The problem? My mom hates everything. Like she’ll literally pick out a present, tell me she wants it, send me all over creation to find it, then decide she doesn’t really want it and make me return it. She doesn’t return it. I have to return it.

Add in that I hate malls, hate the Christmas music that blares in malls at this time of year incessantly (except the Bruce versions, which are acceptable year round), hate holiday shoppers, and hate crowds, and this time of year becomes the stuff of nightmares.

This year, I came up with a solution to the What-to-Get-My-Parents problem. I sent them the following email.

Okay parentals, we have reached the point where you need to give me Hanukkah ideas. I have one tiny present for dad, nothing for mom. Failure to respond to this email with ideas for yourself and/or each other will result in me getting a tattoo of “Mom” in a heart on one butt cheek, “Dad” in a heart on the other, and I will personally deliver and show off said presents at your respective places of business. So please give me some ideas because I really don’t want that crap tattooed on my ass. K thanks bye.

Mom replied that she would work on it.

Dad didn’t reply.

And when I called my dad to tell him that I was on the way to the tattoo parlor to get his present, he said “Cool. Have fun.”

Thanks dad. Really. That was helpful.

Worst holiday ever. And therefore the panic attacks leading up to it when I have to come up with eight things to give my mother (she wants a grandchild, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have decided that if we DO have a child in the future, we are naming him Jesus Nixon the Baptist III, just to piss my parents off. But that’s one present she’s NOT getting any time soon!) make December the worst month ever.

And even worse? It’s cold out. I’m a warm weather girl. I drive a convertible. I love the beach. And I REALLY hate shivering in the freezing pre-dawn air waiting for my dog to sniff out the one and only spot that she finds worthy of receiving her bodily excretions. (As a teacher, I’m not supposed to use profanity in my daily life, so I need to find creative ways to explain the process my dog uses in finding a spot to shit. Oops. Sorry mama.)

Is it winter break yet? OH WAIT, I still have three full weeks of school to teach in the worst teaching month. Because as kids get closer to time off from school, their behavior gets exponentially worse until even the best behaved students turn into something out of Lord of the Flies, complete with a conch shell, spears, hunting a beast, and killing a fat kid. Add the possibility of snow? You don’t want to think about that. Add in the fact that they KNOW a break is coming, that they’re getting presents, and that it might snow?

If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my desk, rocking like an autistic child. Just 75 more classes to teach after today until winter break. FML.

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend, Ary!  Love ya!

An iPhone screen is like a heart: easily broken and expensive to fix

The thing that I have been dreading since I first got my iPhone finally happened last week.

I broke the screen.

Now maybe I’m looking at this calamity the wrong way. My dad always says the two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys his first boat the day he sells his first boat. Maybe breaking an iPhone is just a rite of passage that all Apple-addicts must go through at some point in order to reach full emotional maturity.

Or maybe I’m just a freaking idiot because I broke it while walking Rosie. In stilettos. Which, in hindsight, was perhaps not my smartest plan. She saw another dog and took off, and I flailed wildly to keep my balance, in the process dropping my phone. Face down. On the concrete.

But even then, I didn’t panic. As a major klutz, that was not the first brush with concrete that my phone has suffered. And in each previous plummet, it survived unscathed, with perhaps a scratch on the screen protector.

But not this time. This time, the entire face was shattered. And with it, any veneer of cool that I had possessed that day.

So I did what I always do in times of emotional and financial crisis: I called my daddy. Who patiently waited out my sobs, then postulated the theory that the evil goose that’s been stalking me was really to blame for the broken phone.

Then he told me that it really wasn’t so bad in the long run. My grandmother broke her ankle walking Rosie last year (which, to be fair, was because she insisted on walking over a patch of ice to try to find Rosie some un-snow-covered grass to pee on, despite my repeatedly telling her that Rosie LIKES peeing on snow), had surgery to correct it, got a MRSA infection in the bone, and almost lost her foot. A year later, she’s FINALLY walking on her own and doing fine, but in the grand scheme of things, a broken iPhone is NOT the worst Rosie-related catastrophe in the world.

Who knew the face of evil could be so cute?

And while he’s probably right, I’m broke. And don’t have a landline. And use my cell phone for EVERYTHING under the sun. Literally. It’s a phone, an internet device, a mobile hotspot, a music player, a camera, a mirror, a coaster, a Frisbee, etc.  Seeing me without my phone in my hand would be like seeing my dad without a Starbucks cup. Like seeing my mom without makeup on. Like seeing Jesus without his crown of thorns. Like seeing Dan Snyder without his cloven hoofs and devil horns.

It would just be confusing and wrong. And while the phone still technically worked, every time I looked at that cracked screen, it broke my heart a little.

So under my dad’s advisement, I went to the Verizon store and lied through my teeth. Which, I’ve found, is ALWAYS the best policy when dealing with Verizon. My mother and I are still on a family plan together and I’m technically not allowed to do ANYTHING with the account, so lie number one was that my name is Carole.

Which, because my mother refuses to deal with Verizon AT ALL under ANY circumstances, is a lie that I’m used to. I now know her social security number, Verizon account password, bra size, the vision restrictions on her driver’s license, the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow and any other random information that they might ask for to access the account.

Then came lie number two, which was a result of my cardinal rule when dealing with Verizon:  NEVER admit to breaking your own phone. If you do that, you’re not getting a new one, even with the insurance. Instead, I decided to play two truths and a lie. I said that I’m a teacher (true), and a kid was playing with my phone at school that day (also true), and that the kid dropped it and it broke (LIE). Then I batted my eyelashes and asked, in my best Blanche Dubois, “I have always depended on the kindess of strangers,” damsel-in-distress way, if there was ANYTHING that they could do to help me.

Normally, that works.

And had it been ANY other kind of phone, it would have worked in this situation as well, but unfortunately, Apple is its own entity unrelated to Verizon. And the Verizon store can’t give me a new iPhone, no matter how cute I am or how pathetic my story is.

At which point, I dropped the “oh please help me Mr. Big Strong Man” act and was all business.

Which meant calling the Apple insurance company, telling them the same lie (hey it MIGHT have worked this time around. Plus the Verizon store guy was still there and in case I needed to pull the damsel-in-distress thing in the future, I didn’t want him to know I’d lied), and finding out that iPhone insurance means you get a BRAND NEW REPLACEMENT PHONE THE VERY NEXT DAY.

I was ecstatic! I did a little happy dance! I cried tears of pure joy! I hugged the Verizon store guy!

Then they told me about the $200 deductible.

Of course, with the way my mind words, I hear $200 and immediately convert that into two Springsteen tickets (or one plus Ticketmaster fees).

Then I convert it into the number of pairs of shoes I could buy (3-4). But I’m not giving up either of those, and I couldn’t live with the cracked screen, so it was better to give up two weeks worth of groceries instead. I’ve been losing weight for summer anyway. Who REALLY needs to eat?

New iPhone it was.

And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, the next day, when I got home from school, a BRAND NEW IPHONE was waiting for me, ready to use! It wasn’t even a refurbished one like when you have to go through Verizon for the insurance. And, because unlike all things PC, Apple does NOT suck, restoring it to the old, broken iPhone’s backup was a piece of cake.

And all was again right with the world.

The new phone, however, does have a far more protective case on it. And I suppose the real lesson that I should have learned is to change my shoes before I walk Rosie after school. Which, let’s face it, probably isn’t going to happen. Because, as the old 80s Saturday Night Live Billy Crystal sketches always said, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”

Guns don’t kill people, I do. With my mind.

I think my next-door neighbor died.

Now before you get all, “aww that’s so sad,” on me, I should warn you, he was basically Mr. Heckles from Friends.

But meaner.  He was mean and cranky and used to slip anonymous and insulting notes under my door saying that my tv was too loud and he was going to report me. Of course, I got one of those notes when I hadn’t even been home for several days one time, so I so don’t think that my tv was actually that loud.

He’s also the reason why my dog, Rosie, had to wear a bark-control collar that shocked her when she barked. He’d left a note under my door saying that he was tired of listening to her crying in the morning after I left for work and if I didn’t do something about it, he was going to report me.

I went out that day and spent $100 on a shock collar, then left him a note saying that I’d taken care of it. The next day I got a letter from the condo association saying that I needed to get Rosie’s barking under control.

Because he told on me the same day he issued the warning.

Clearly, he was not my favorite person in the world.

In fact, whenever I talked about him, I usually would conclude with something along the lines of “God, he’s so awful, why doesn’t he just go die already?”

Which is why I felt pretty bad when I came home from school three weeks ago and saw ten paramedics who weren’t in a hurry and who all took the time to talk to me and pet Rosie before going into his apartment. They didn’t tell me what happened, and I didn’t want to be creepy and stand out in the hall, but logically, if the paramedics were going to someone who was alive, they A) wouldn’t need that many of them, B) would be hurrying instead of flirting with me, and C) wouldn’t want dog on their hands.

Ergo, he is dead.

And the worst part is that my first reaction wasn’t to feel bad. It was to assume that Rosie had tunneled through the wall Shawshank Redemption style and killed him to retaliate for the bark collar situation.

My second thought was that now I can watch tv as loud as I want. Which was pretty fantastic. Because it was a Tuesday.  Glee was on.

THEN I felt bad.

And I realized that I’m pretty much going to hell.

I’m also not looking behind any of the pictures in my apartment in case Rosie DID dig a tunnel through the wall. If she’s guilty, I’d rather not know.

But I started thinking about it. I’d spent a lot of time and energy wishing him dead. So if Rosie DIDN’T kill him, it means I did. With my mind. Which, if I can channel that power, would be awesome. I decided to test this theory out and spent a few minutes concentrating on the thought, “I REALLY wish Bruce Springsteen would show up at my door.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t work. I think I need to practice with this power if I want to use it for good (or for evil—muahahahaha).

But until then, I’m never saying that I hope anyone dies ever again, even when I’m kidding.

A lot of people have been asking me why I don’t just go knock on his door and see if he’s alive. Which I would probably do if he wasn’t such a crotchety old codger.

But right now, my desire to not have any interaction with him is slightly greater than my desire to know if he died or not. So I’ve been trying to come up with passive aggressive strategies to see if he’s alive or dead. 

Strategy 1: Look for an obituary. Negative. But in the five-and-a-half years that I’ve lived in my current house, I’ve never seen anyone other than him go into or out of his apartment. So who would have put an obituary in if he DID die? That was therefore inconclusive.

Strategy 2: Run to the door and look through the peephole anytime anyone walks by. The laundry room is right across from my door, so if he’s alive and wants clean clothes, he’s got to pass by there sometime. But no luck… which points toward him being dead because not only do dead men tell no tales, they also don’t need clean underwear or socks.

Strategy 3: Find a phone number and call him with my number blocked. No luck. If he has a phone, he’s not listed. Which makes sense, because why would a mean old man want people to be able to find him? Again, inconclusive.

Strategy 4: Stick a camera on a pole and hold it out over my balcony to take some pictures into his house and see if anyone was moving. One of my students came up with this plan, and I liked it, but it has two MASSIVE flaws: 1) if he IS alive and caught me doing that, I’m pretty sure he’d press charges (and an arrest record is frowned upon when you’re a teacher… even if it’s NOT for doing something super shady), and 2) what if he IS alive and is one of those sick, twisted individuals who walks around his apartment naked? I’d have to gouge my eyes out, Oedipus-style and then kill myself. I mean, it’s fine if I walk around MY apartment naked, but I’m not an old man. And my desire to not even take ANY chances that could result in me having to gouge my own eyes out is FAR stronger than my desire to see if he’s still alive or my desire to not talk to him. So that plan was out.

Strategy 5: Engage in all the activities he usually complains about. I’ve been cranking the volume on my tv every night, fully aware that if he IS alive, he would DEFINITELY complain about the noise, but I haven’t heard from him. Which, other than the paramedics and the fact that I haven’t seen him since before Christmas is my strongest evidence that he’s dead. Because threatening me seemed to be his sole source of entertainment in life.

I thought I lucked out on Wednesday night, because the condo association put notes on everyone’s door about some construction that’s going on. I figured that would be useful, because dead men can’t take flyers off their doors. And when I came home from school today, his flyer was gone. But so was the flyer on the door of the empty apartment down the hall. So again, inconclusive.

Of course, as several people pointed out (because I’ve been live tweeting my attempts to find out if he’s alive or dead), if he IS alive and reading this blog/my Twitter updates, I might wind up being the dead neighbor. But I’m not scared of him. Unless he IS dead AND is reading this, in which case, I’m very, VERY frightened.

But the moral of this story is simple: don’t piss me or Rosie off. Because one of us might have the ability to kill you. I just don’t know which one yet.

I have the best dog in the world… but she’s an evil super genius.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m obsessed with three things. Shoes, Bruce Springsteen, and my dog, Rosie.

Well I already wrote about shoes, and I pretty much wrote a book about loving Bruce (Literally. Beyond the Palace. Go buy it. It’s awesome even if you don’t like Bruce. I promise), so it’s time to talk about Rosie (whose name is short for Rosalita, and she likes to eat my shoes, so she does tie in to my other two big obsessions as well).

One of my biggest fears was always that I might someday turn into a crazy cat lady. You know, those old women who live with a million cats that they call their babies (and which, on The Simpsons at least, they use as projectile weapons).

This fear was compounded by the fact that I hate cats. A lot. Like more than I hate people who can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re” and the Cowboys put together. Therefore, to become a cat lady would truly be a fate worse than death.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and avoid the cat lady destiny by getting a dog. I’d had a miniature schnauzer growing up and wanted another one.

When I told my parents about this plan, my dad laughed at me for about ten minutes, then finally said, “You can’t even keep a plant alive! What makes you think you could handle a dog?”

(It’s true. I can’t keep a plant alive. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I water them, I talk to them, I even name them. My favorite was named Robert. Robert Plant. Get it? Although I got a LOT of weird looks from people when I told them that I’d killed Robert Plant. And explaining that it was an ACTUAL plant, not the guy from Led Zepplin didn’t make people think I was any less bizarre. Oh well. I just don’t tell people that I stuck a sheet of paper on the wall next to Robert and named it Jimmy.)

But despite my dad’s objections, I stuck to my guns and got Rosie.

And quickly realized that I knew NOTHING about dogs. The last time I had a puppy, I was a year old. And I didn’t realize just how much puppies enjoy peeing on the rug. Or that when they throw up, they eat it. Fun stuff like that.

Of course, Rosie also turned out to be an evil super genius.

For a while there, I pictured her internal monologue as sounding like Stewie from Family Guy, because she made several attempts to kill me.

We would take naps together and I would wake up as she was lunging for my throat. She’s also taken the bathmat and bathroom rug out of the bathroom while I was showering, in a clear attempt at matricide.

She grew out of that phase pretty quickly. Then she entered her Houdini period. Rosie can somehow escape from anything. She can get out of her locked crate with no trouble at all (and eventually made locking it impossible by chewing the door out of shape. See? She’s smart). I used to keep her babygated in the kitchen while I was at work. But after a couple of weeks of that, every time I came home, she was sitting on the sofa.

And one time when I came home, she was in the kitchen, but she had somehow managed to leave me a little present in the dining room. Meaning one of three things: 1) she got out, pooped on the rug, then climbed back over the babygate into the kitchen to look innocent, 2) some other dog broke into my house, pooped in the dining room, then left, or 3) Rosie can throw poop. All three of those scenarios worry me.

I finally gave up on the babygate situation.

Her next phase was quite a test for me as her mother, but I hope that I passed it, because I accept her no matter who she is.

Which I’m pretty sure is a lesbian.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But I first got suspicious when she ate several holes in the carpet.

Next she started trying to eat my underwear. Like she literally ate a hole in my laundry hamper to get to them.

Then she became a peeping tom. Whenever I take a shower, I hear a little rustling sound, and then this cute little face peeks around the shower curtain at me. Which would be much cuter if I didn’t get the feeling that she was doing that because I’m naked.

She’s also been known to hump boy dogs. We had a little talk about the birds and the bees after she started doing that, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped the problem.

Rosie also seems confused about what type of animal a schnauzer is. She likes to lie on the back of the sofa and lick her paws like a cat. She won’t walk over a grate and eats grass like a cow. She likes to pounce on her stuffed animals and rip their throats out like a lion. And she walks on her hind legs a fair bit like a person.  She also does a pretty good impression of Batman.

But I think there’s a good reason for her confusion. She looks exactly like my dad.

They have the same beard. They make the same faces.

And he’s her favorite person in the world, which I think is because she thinks that HE is, in fact, a giant schnauzer and that she will look like him when she grows up. Which is entirely possible. Because I think she looks like him now.

I think my favorite thing about Rosie though (other than how cute she is!), is that she has a favorite tv show. House. She hears the theme music and comes running into the room, jumps on the sofa, and watches intently for the full hour. And God help the person who tries to shut it off while she’s watching. The cable went out one time during a rerun, and she bit me.

Not that I blame her. Hugh Laurie IS pretty freaking awesome.