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.

You know District 12 from the Hunger Games? Apparently it’s in Western Maryland. And it’s scary.

Be warned: this will come as a huge shock to everyone who knows me, but I hope that you will all still love and respect me for the person I am, despite what I am about to admit.

Brace yourselves.

I am not an outdoors person.

I know, I know, it seems like I would be between the high heels, manicured nails, twenty-three hours logged in the gym daily (which is tough to do when I also work full time, but I manage!), and general lack of survival skills. But alas, nature and I do not get along.

In fact, nature and I seem to be mortal enemies.

I am the victim of near constant animal attacks (particularly birds. I don’t know why they hate me so much, but they do. Maybe I was a chicken farmer in a past life? No. Definitely not.), would gladly do away with dirt if I could, and, according to YouTube, the quickest way to get rid of me is to present me with an insect.

And of course the boyfriend has a cabin in the woods out in the furthermost reaches of Western Maryland. So far, in fact, that it’s part of Appalachia. Or as it’s called today, Hunger Games District 12.

 
(But not District 11, which seems to be the only district that has black people and is ALSO the first district to start rioting and looting. Then they turn fire hoses on them. AND the dude from District 11 was the first one that the weird dog things went after. Did anyone else notice how insanely racist that was? No? Just me? Well it was.)

And out there, apparently Maryland might as well be West Virginia. Like they were excited when they got a Walmart. Now, I’m not a nature girl, but I’ll go camping Survivor-style before I’ll set foot in a Walmart.

I’ve been to peopleofwalmart.com and that’s as close to seeing the inside of one of those bad boys as I’m prepared to get. And that’s the Walmarts around HERE. I don’t even want to think about what a District 12 Walmart looks like. Oh wait, is that where Katniss goes to trade her squirrel? Probably. But as I neither have a dead squirrel to trade nor need a mockingjay pin, I’m fine with not going there.

But the boyfriend loves it out there. So like a good girlfriend, I too, must learn to love the cabin. Despite the fact that it snowed there two weeks ago. In May. Because District 12 is also the land that Global Warming forgot. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a plesiosaurus swimming in the lake and have some local say, “Oh that? That’s just Creeky.** She’s a big ol’ fish ‘round these here parts. She won’t hurt ya none, lil missy.”*

*Note: I have no idea if District 12 people actually talk like that. The few locals I’ve met had such unidentifiable accents that “moonshine” was the only word I caught.

**The boyfriend would like you to know that out there, where people “warsh” their clothes, that’s pronounced “Cricky.”  And he claims she’s harmless.

So last weekend, he and I made the trek out to the mountains, crawled under the non-electrified electric fence, and ventured into District 12. The boyfriend got right to work enjoying himself by chopping some firewood.

(No really. His idea of a good time out there is chopping firewood. This is my life now.)

While I sat down, safely indoors, with my laptop to start work on my next book, currently titled “The Great American Novel.” (As I always say, go big or go home!)

Then realized I hadn’t brought my power cord.

Tech savvy genius that I am, I used my phone to search for the nearest place to get a Macbook charger. (Thankfully the cabin does have wifi, because 3G doesn’t exist out there. And 4G? Oh you’re funny!)

At which point, I discovered that the closest place where I could get a charger for a Macbook was LITERALLY MY OWN HOUSE. Seriously. The closest store that sold one was further from the cabin than my house is.  Because District 12 is not Mac friendly.  Maybe THAT’s why they have so much trouble getting a winning tribute.  Just saying.

Houston, we have a big freaking problem.

So working on the novel was out of the question because my handwriting looks like something Michael J. Fox wrote with a vibrating pen while riding a roller coaster. No seriously, it’s that bad. Ask my students. Even though they don’t know who Michael J. Fox is, so don’t ask them that part.  It’ll just confuse them.

And I definitely was NOT about to go help the boyfriend chop firewood. Not my scene.

But I’m adaptable, I can entertain myself. And by entertain myself, I mean read and then spend hours torturing Rosie. Who, like her mommy, thinks the cabin is filled with danger and comes from the Mad-Eye Moody school of protecting herself and me with CONSTANT VIGILANCE! So it’s really fun to jump around corners at her and watch her try unsuccessfully to escape because her little paws slide all over the wooden floors there.

Okay, I’m an evil mother. But Rosie loves it, I swear.

All that running around corners and scaring Rosie meant that I needed a shower though. Which was fine. The boyfriend swears the water up there is better anyway, so I got in the shower. All was well. I shaved my legs. Then the GIGANTIC FREAKING SPIDER that pulled back the shower curtain Psycho-style stuck his eight legs out and asked if I minded shaving those as well.

I, obliging the Psycho-style of the curtain pull, screamed my head off, then refused because I’m pretty sure that the spider’s legs were longer than mine and shaving all eight of them would completely dull my razor blade.

Taking my advice from iconic song lore, I decided to wash the spider down the drain. However, a minor tussle ensued because the water pressure was not quite sufficient enough to force this particular spider down the drain because this spider was not so itsy bitsy and was bigger than the actual drain. It took the boyfriend, his firewood chopping axe, six moonshine-muttering locals, and Creeky herself to sort the situation out because Spidey was not going quietly into that good night.

Apparently, when it comes to my boyfriend, it’s love him, love his cabin.

And that cabin comes with an unkillable shower spider.

But at least it doesn’t snore as loudly as he does, so I’ll learn to deal with it I suppose.

And who knows? Maybe the spider will be selected at the Reaping ceremony to represent District 12 next year. A girl can dream, can’t she?

The Devil Inside wasn’t scary. So here’s a list of things that are.

I like scary movies.

I’m not talking about the crazily gruesome Saw/Human Centipede variety. You couldn’t pay me to watch those.

But genuine horror movies, when done well, are awesome.

A good horror movie doesn’t just make you jump during the film—it does that too, don’t get me wrong—but a REALLY good horror movie will keep you scared LONG after you leave the theater. If you’re not cowering under the covers with the lights on for a week, the movie didn’t do its job.

Stephen King is, of course, the master of horror. The movies of his books didn’t really scare me, but I’m still haunted by some of his creations. I first read The Shining when I was twelve years old, and to this day, I STILL have to turn on the lights when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night to make sure that the chick from the bathtub in room 217 isn’t in MY bathtub.

Paranormal Activity didn’t scare me THAT much until my calendar fell off the wall about an hour after watching it. But it succeeded because I definitely debated putting baby powder around my bed to see if a demon stepped in it that night, and made Rosie sleep on the outside of the bed, just so the demon would eat her first.

The same thing happened with The Ring. I wasn’t particularly scared at the time. But when I fell asleep with the tv on a week later and woke up that night to snow on the screen, then realized it was EXACTLY seven days after I’d watched the movie, I went diving into my roommate’s room and insisted on sleeping in her bed. Turns out the cable was just out, but I wasn’t taking any chances!

But there’s nothing worse than a failure of a horror movie.

Trust me. I know from experience.

Because I saw The Devil Inside Friday night and it was the second worst movie-going experience of my life. The first being having to watch the anal rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sitting between my mother and grandmother on Christmas day. Seriously. It was up there with THAT level of bad.

The problem? There wasn’t a single truly scary moment in the whole movie.

Literally, the scariest thing that happened in it was when the characters walk past a fenced-in yard and a dog jumps out and starts barking from behind the fence.

I’m not kidding.

And considering that the previews looked super-scary, I don’t understand how it can have epic-failed as much as it did.

People in the theater actually booed when it ended. I’ve never seen that happen before.

I could summarize all of the reasons why it completely sucked, but I’m not even going to dignify the movie with that level of description. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of things that scare me MORE than The Devil Inside.

1. Stink bugs—I almost crashed my car on four separate occasions when I noticed stink bugs in my car. MUCH scarier than that movie.

2. ET—That little alien scares the crap out of me. I mean, he appears to me made of brown leather, his heart glows, he hides in your closet and eats all of the Reese’s Pieces. NOT okay.

3. Twilight fans—these tweens are going to be running the world someday. Be afraid.

4. Joan Rivers’ face—do I need to explain this one?

5. Lady Gaga—I like her. I do. But I’m also scared of her.

6. Peeing on the third rail of the Metro—granted, I’m a girl and would have to literally be right on top of it to try this, and I have no intention of ever doing it. But if you really COULD get electrocuted from peeing on it, that’s scary as hell.

7. Cats—pure unadulterated evil. Except the ones that look like Hitler. They’re ok in my book.

8. Walt Disney’s frozen head—okay, say they find a cure for whatever killed him and bring him back. He’s just going to be a semi-defrosted head. I think if you’re dead, you need to stay dead. And if you’re frozen, STAY FROZEN.

9. The MVA—Call me sheltered if you will, but I never realized the scum of humanity that exists until I went to renew my driver’s license. I’d stay in the Overlook all alone for the winter over going back there, ANY day.

10. Those condoms that are advertised as being 40 percent thinner—I don’t know about you, but when it comes to something that’s supposed to be protection against AIDS, less is NOT more. I feel like if you use those, to quote Mean Girls, you WILL get pregnant and die.

11. The old ladies who walk around buck naked in the gym locker room—Like okay, I understand you need to change your clothes in there. But do you need to dry your hair naked? Or try to have a conversation with me? It’s disturbing!

12. The lion and tiger habitats at the zoo—every once in awhile, you hear those stories about the jungle cats just deciding to leap over the wall. And I know they can. So the lesson here is, do NOT taunt the tigers. They CAN eat you if they want to.

13. Walmart—I’ve never been there and I have no intention of going there. But looking at peopleofwalmart.com means that I know Walmart is scarier than that movie was.

14. The Loch Ness Monster.

15. Pennies–No, they’re not scary. But neither was The Devil Inside.  Then again, my brother swallowed one once.  So next time you’re handing a penny, just remember, someone might have pooped that out before you touched it.  Come to think of it, that’s pretty scary.  And gross.

16. The fact that someone actually green-lit this idiocy of a script and MADE THIS MOVIE. Seriously. Our society has reached an all-time low point now.

All I can say is the The Woman in Black better be actually scary, despite starring Harry Potter. Because I’m planning to see that one, and if it’s even half as bad as The Devil Inside, the creators of those movies are going to have something REALLY scary to fear.

Me.

Because I want a refund on both the money AND the time I wasted watching that crap.

What do Yogi Bear, Bullwinkle, and Santa have in common? No idea, but they’re all on your lawn!

I’m just going to come right out and admit it: I don’t get the whole Christmas decorations thing.

I know, I know, you think I’m just being Grinchy because I’m Jewish. But it’s not that, I swear. I actually really like Christmas lights…when they’re tastefully done.

I’m not a huge fan of all the random Santa stuff everywhere, but I could see the appeal of putting Santa and reindeer on the roof of your house, especially if you have young children. And I’m not going to lie, I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who spends their money on a truly funny Christmas display. Yes, it probably scars young children for life to see a Santa peeing off the roof of a house, but is it really any worse than the idea of Santa making out with your mom?

What I DON’T understand, however, are the insanely tacky OTHER decorations.

It’s no secret that I can’t figure out what a bunny and eggs have to do with Easter (especially because rabbits are mammals and therefore do not lay eggs… mammals, in fact, that are known for excessive fornication… NOT exactly the message that the church usually tries to send), but I honestly think that the Easter Bunny makes more sense than a thirty-foot, light-up Yogi Bear in a Santa hat on your front lawn.

Maybe it’s me.

I mean, I AM a little rusty on the whole meaning of Christmas after all. I must be forgetting the part of the story when Jesus is born and then Yogi turns to Boo Boo and said “Heeey Boo Boo! Let’s go steal a pic-i-nic basket full of frankincense and myrrh for our Lord and Savior!” I mean, if that’s actually part of the story, then by all means, put Yogi in that Santa hat and use enough electricity to fuel a third-world nation for a year to make him light up bright enough to be seen from space.

Otherwise, maybe Yogi should be used for a different holiday.  Or maybe there’s just no place in organized religion for Yogi Bear.

Of course, Yogi is far from the worst of the Christmas decorations that I’ve seen.

For example, I understand the desire to put up a nativity scene. Technically, it’s even a lot more appropriate than all of the Santa stuff. But when I see a nativity scene comprised entirely of Rocky and Bullwinkle characters, I have to wonder if the house actually belongs to a Jew who’s mocking the whole season.

Because kids today don’t even know who Rocky and Bullwinkle are. I mean, I probably wouldn’t know who they were either if not for Cartoon Network and my ex-hippie parents. But even I’m slightly offended when I see Boris and Natasha as Mary and Joseph. And I mean, Peabody was wise, but casting Sherman as one of the Three Wise Men is a stretch. Not to mention Dudley DoRight. And I’m not even going to get into the fact that they had a moose as the baby Jesus.

When I was a kid, I remember pouting and stomping my foot and telling my parents that I didn’t want to be Jewish if it meant that I couldn’t have Christmas lights. But driving around and looking at how ridiculous some of the displays are now has finally made me side with my parents on this one. If I celebrated Christmas, I’d seriously debate destroying some people’s decorations just to stop them from bringing shame on my entire people. Because trust me, if you have inflatable cartoon decorations that are taller than your house, you ARE bringing shame on your entire people.

Because I’m the daughter of a scientist, I always try to find formulas to explain the oddities in the universe. And after many years of study, I finally solved the mystery of the tacky Christmas decorations.

Are you ready? It’s about to get intense. You might want to get some paper and a pencil to follow along with my calculations. Just warning you.

The tackiness of a Christmas display can be calculated by taking the income of the house’s resident, divided by the distance (in miles) of the house from the nearest Walmart.

In layman’s terms, that means that the poorer a person is and the closer he or she lives to a Walmart, the more ostentatious and ridiculous his or her Christmas display will be.

It may seem counterintuitive, because logic would imply that the more money a person spends on a Christmas display, the more disposable income he or she has. But when it comes to Christmas, it just doesn’t work that way. So if you want to appear richer, don’t buy a knockoff purse or a used BMW. Just go minimalist on your Christmas decorations. Like you paid someone else to do it because you’re so rich that you just can’t be bothered to do it yourself.

And if you ARE going to go overboard, do us all a favor: take the decorations down by January 2. If you leave them up until July 4, I personally will not be held responsible for any vandalism that occurs. Even though it will probably be me doing the vandalism.

Just kidding. For legal purposes, I feel it’s necessary to say that I will NOT be vandalizing ANY Christmas decorations this year. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Enjoy celebrating Christmas. Which, if a drive through the neighborhood behind Walmart is to be trusted, is the holiday when we celebrate the birth of our Bullwinkle J. Moose under the star provided by a flying Rocket J. Squirrel, while a Santa-hat wearing Yogi Bear and Winnie the Pooh look on and an overweight white guy lands on a herd of reindeer on your roof.

I’ll stick to my movies and Chinese food to celebrate the holiday.