Tag Archives: family

my modern love essay that the new york times didn’t publish

i know, i know. i kind of suck b/c i haven’t been blogging lately and you’re sick of seeing that androgynous goth person staring at you every time you visit to see if i’ve updated. (in all honesty: not a clue if that’s a man or a woman.)

i’ve been so busy working (pbbbbt! work! i know, right?!!) that i’m going to cheat and in lieu of one of my typically ridiculous entries, i’m going to share my modern love essay recently submitted to and politely and promptly rejected by the new york times. not a huge surprise they didn’t publish it, as i’m sure they get about a trillion submissions a month, but a bummer nonetheless.

the great thing is that essays like this don’t go to waste when you have a blog. so i am self-publishing my essay. please enjoy all the capital letters and proper punctuation and i promise i’ll be back soon…

You’re Gonna Meet a Prince(ss) 

Throughout my youth and adolescence, my grandmother predicted three things:

1. If I ate any more than 10 grapes (red or green, didn’t matter), I would get a “bellyache.” (This wasn’t just me, either. This was all people.)

2. I’d meet and marry a prince. A “Jewish prince,” she declared, despite my argument that Jewish princes hadn’t existed for at least a couple thousand years, if they ever existed at all.

3. That using a blow dryer every day would ruin my hair.

Which do you think turned out to be true? (I’ll give you a hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with fruit or princes.)

When she died nearly 11 years ago (she was 91, I was 21; “A babe in the woods,” she’d say), I probably had never eaten more than 10 grapes at any one time, and I was still on the fence about the hairdryer thing. But even in high school, I secretly knew in my heart of hearts that the prince she predicted I’d meet might actually turn out to be a princess. And who knows if she’d even be Jewish.

Losing my grandmother was devastating to me. Our coffee klatsch of two was now a coffee klatsch of one. I had lost my best friend.

Who would I have toasted bagels and lox with? Who would I call at midnight just to say hi? And now that she was in heaven, what would she think of the fact that her granddaughter was a rainbow flag-waving homosexual? Surely she would find out (after she hit the Heavenly Diner all-you-can-eat cheese Danish/macaroni salad/pickles and smoked fish buffet, of course).

I tried not to focus on what she’d think, and kept my head down and focused as a young community reporter in suburban Washington, D.C.

And then it happened: I met my princess. I met Holly.

It was an unusually hot April night in downtown Washington. We were both wallflowers at ladies night at a gay bar on 17th Street. Soon we were talking outside. She wrote her email address on a square napkin in blue ink. I emailed her a week later. She wasn’t Jewish. I went out with her anyway. I mean, how long could it really last?

That was 10 years ago.

Since then, we’ve been married twice (once “unlawfully,” once lawfully—both times in Washington, just up the street from where we met in 2001). We bought, gutted and renovated a boarded-up crackhouse in southeast Baltimore, which we now call home. Our life is one big adventure. I love her more than life itself.

While Holly never had the pleasure of meeting my walker-pushing, hell-raising, unfiltered Pall Mall-smoking grandma, I’ve kept her a part of our lives by reminiscing almost daily about our times together. Sometimes I’ll even call someone a bastard (“bas-tid” in Grandma’s Jersey-ese) in her memory. Usually behind their back, but not always. This would have made her incredibly proud.

I don’t wonder anymore what she’d think of the fact that I’m gay. She wouldn’t care. I don’t wonder what she’d think of Holly. She’d absolutely adore her.

My grandmother had four younger brothers. My 90-year-old Great Uncle Ben was the baby of the Leibowitz clan, and is the last sibling standing. He’s become like a grandfather to both Holly and I. He’s been our biggest supporter, and was up front and center—fresh off the plane from Fort Lauderdale—at our legal wedding in Washington in March 2010.

He is the male incarnation of my grandma—kind, funny, generous and always ready with a dismissive “ah-who-the-hell-needs-‘em” hand wave to anyone who does me wrong. I love him so much my eyes fill with tears when we’re together. We both do. And he loves us back.

Holly met him for the first time in August 2009, and he gave her a huge bear hug from his couch.

“My new niece!” he announced, holding her hand, his eyes shining with delight.

He took my parents, Holly and I out to eat that first evening. As he and I walked into the restaurant, he paused—his wheelie walker (the kind with the breaks) and south Florida humidity between us—and turned to me.

“Are you happy? Does she make you happy?” he asked, touching my hand.

“Yes,” I said, tears in my eyes. “Yes, she does.”

“Well, that’s all that matters. If someone doesn’t like it, they can go to hell,” he said. “Let’s eat.”

And with that, I knew. It wasn’t just Uncle Ben speaking. It was Grandma, too.

I’d like to think it was more than serendipity that brought Holly and I together that warm April night 10 years ago.

“That one,” I imagine Grandma saying from her regular booth at the Heavenly Diner, her mouth full of potato salad and beets and everything else she loved from Jersey diner salad bars that I couldn’t stand as a kid.

“She needs to meet that one,” she said, pointing down at Holly. “That’s the one. They’re going to have a wonderful life together.”

And we really do have a wonderful life together. I have my coffee klatsch of two again. Sometimes, when we’re lucky enough to all be together, it’s even a coffee klatsch of three—me, Holly and Uncle Ben.


it gets better

i’ve been tossing around the idea of posting my written contribution to dan savage’s it gets better project for a while now. my reservations about participating in the project are the same that kept me in the closet–namely fear, shame and embarrassment. all the same things that lgbt youth are feeling so intensely–especially after cruel, vicious bullying at the hands of their peers–that they’re killing themselves in shocking numbers.

i kept thinking: i want to share my story. i want lgbt teens these days to have a better experience coming out than i did. i want to help them feel a sense of hope that i never did. so they can see thru the despair, shame, sadness, hopelessness, fear, depression and head-spinning confusion they may be feeling right now and fully realize that, as the project mission states, “love and happiness can be a reality in their future.”

it’s been embarrassment that’s held me back. after all, as my blog readers, i don’t want you to view me as anything other than put together, funny, fun-loving, well-adjusted. happy. and i am all of those things. but i didn’t want to tell you about the hurt and heartache i had coming out. b/c i’ll tell you the truth: i gave myself such a hard time about being gay when i was younger, i am ashamed. but i shouldn’t be. b/c i see now it didn’t need to be that way. it doesn’t need to be that way. i want to keep it from being that way for teens and young people out there that are in the same predicament i was.

so i’ve finally decided to suck it up and take one for the team. if my story can save the life of just one teen, even just help save the sanity of a young person out there, or make them see that yes, they can have a normal life. more than that, they can have a happy life. then it’s worth it. so for once, i’m not going to joke around, and i’m going to tell my story.

if you’re a regular reader of this blog, or you know me personally, you already know that i grew up in a small town in northern new jersey about 25 miles outside new york city. i’m also jewish, not just culturally so, but i actually care about being jewish and have a firm belief in G-d.

i’ve also always been, as my late grandfather used to say about me as a toddler, “an arch individualist.” i cut my own bangs when i was 3. i asked for an atari for my birthday when everyone else was getting nintendos. i wrote elementary school fan letters (written in cursive pencil) to jon bon jovi beginning with “dear mr. jovi.” i’ve always done my own thing, and, luckily, was always encouraged to do so by my parents.

“different” was always ok. but by the time middle school hit, i’d say seventh grade, something started creeping up my spine and settled uncomfortably in my brain. it made me feel different in a new, uncomfortable way. it was a question without an answer, something so foreign to me as an 12-year-old in 1990, that i couldn’t even think about it.

am i gay? a voice whispered quietly. i didn’t even truly know what “gay” was. there was no “will & grace.” there was no out & proud ellen. there was no adam lambert. there was nothing, really. but i knew my feelings, i knew who i had crushes on, and i knew it wasn’t “normal.”

i kept my feelings to myself–because they felt wrong. after all, i had crushes on boys. i loved the new kids on the block the same way all the other girls did. but things were off.

i pushed my feelings way way down. packed them down so deep they turned into concrete in my stomach–and my heart. they plagued me day and night. what you’re feeling isn’t normal, they whispered. you’re not normal. you’re weird. you’re a freak. you’re different. you’re wrong. and the very worst one: you’re a bad person.

here’s the catch: no one else was bullying me. i was bullying myself.

year after year the feelings were there, as was the voice in my head. the self-bullying continued. the feelings got stronger. the voice got louder. the bullying got worse. i was my own worst enemy. i didn’t know it at the time, but i was destroying myself. by the time i reached tenth and eleventh grade, you’re a bad person morphed into you’re a bad person and a bad jew.

one by one, my dreams started crumbling. marriage. children. a happy life. i might be alone forever, i told myself. i couldn’t see my way out. i felt doomed.

a loop of self-made insults and self-loathing swirled in my head day and night. i joked around in high school, did well in classes and had plenty of friends, but i felt crushed and breathless all the time. instead of hanging out with my friends, i cried alone in my room, scared to death of my feelings. scared to death i’d be shunned by my family, shunned by my friends, shunned not only by an entire religious community but also by G-d. looking back at it from the safe distance of a happy, open adulthood, i don’t know where all the self-loathing came from. after all, no one in my family ever said anything bad about gay people. no one, absolutely no one, told me that if i was a gay, or had an attraction to anyone of the same sex, i would be anything less than a good jew. (and that’s the truth–for any religion.)

but you see, all of those feelings–those feelings of being wrong, being a freak, being a bad person–are indoctrinated in us as we grow. i’m a perfect example of that. i’ve always been a free thinker. i grew up in the new york metro area. my parents are open-minded. but i got the message from society at large: gay is different. different is bad. gay is bad.

and so i stayed quiet. i stayed quiet until i came out to my high school best friend in a fit of tears and shivers in the middle of the night just a few days before our senior year started. i came out to her b/c i literally was making myself sick. i had prepped myself for our friendship ending once she heard my secret.

instead she wrapped her arms around me and told me it was ok.

“really?” i said thru my tears. “you still like me? you still want to be friends?”

“of course i want to be friends!” she said smiling. “i don’t feel any differently about you. you’re still jessica. you’re still my best friend.”

a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. i had told someone and she didn’t care. she loved me unconditionally. but i was 16. and even though i wasn’t completely sure about my sexuality, i knew, deep inside, that i would have a long way to go. b/c i didn’t love myself.

i’d like to say that i replaced fear and shame with pride and happiness, and came out to everyone that was important to me, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. i didn’t feel any better about myself. and i would continue carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and continue bullying myself until i literally made myself sick–sicker this time–and finally came out to my parents when i was 18 and in college.  

and you know what? when i told my parents, they didn’t care either.

no one, not one person, who i’ve come out to in the years since–and i’m 32 now–has ever cared. they don’t see me as “gay” they see me as jessica. you see, when you’re a teen, you have a limited view of yourself and others: pretty. cute. smart. athletic. artistic. gay. straight.

oh but we are so many other things! if only i had known that–had really really known it. not just known it but truly felt it. gay, straight, bi, trans, queer–however you identify yourself. it’s simply one small aspect of who we are as people. it’s not the main course. it’s a side dish. you see what i mean?

if you’re struggling with this right now, i want you to go to the mirror, look at yourself and say “i’m (your name).” if the words “gay” or “bi” or “trans” or “queer” are on your lips, replace it with your name. b/c that’s who you are. that’s the core of you. i hope you can understand that. b/c it’s something i didn’t understand for far too long.

i wasted years–years!–feeling bad about myself when i didn’t need to. it’s hard enough when you’re a teenager. you don’t want to be seen as “different.” maybe different in the sense of you’re a cool dresser or exceptionally creative or something like that. for me, being gay was the last straw inside of me. i already felt like i didn’t fit in. and it pushed me over the edge. but it didn’t need to.

i felt so alone, so completely alone, when i was closeted in high school. but let me tell you something: when i got to college everything changed. everything! i started meeting like-minded people. i started meeting people of every sexual orientation and background. my world opened up. like a screen door in a windstorm–BAM! and suddenly i wasn’t alone anymore. and i started becoming the jessica i once was as a kid, before worries about my sexuality came along in middle school and high school. i started coming into my own. and i started to realize, hey, i am normal. i am totally and completely 100% normal.

and you don’t need to go to college for that to happen. once you expand your world–meet new people, go new places, graduate high school–things will start changing. b/c if you’re living somewhere now where people don’t accept you, or are bullying you, there are so many places where things will be different. you just need to hold on. even if your family doesn’t wind up accepting you, families don’t always have to be blood relatives. we can make our own families. and if you haven’t come out to your friends or family yet for fear of being rejected, give them a chance. they just might surprise you.

the it gets better project has focused on other people bullying lgbt youth. i was lucky enough to never experience that. but i think what i experienced was just as bad. i bullied myself.

if you’re bullying yourself, please stop. i promise you things will get better. go easy on yourself. you are a good person. and you will find your way.

if you’re religious, please know that G-d loves you no matter what. do you hear me? gay, straight or anything in between, no matter what. if anyone tells you anything different, ignore them. shut them out. b/c it’s untrue. do you know how many lgbt-friendly houses of worship there are? tons! and you’ll find yours one day, i promise.

life as an lgbt person can be happy, extremely, gloriously happy. and normal. when i was 22, just six years after i came out to my best friend in high school, i met holly, who would become my partner of now almost 10 years. she is the love of my life! we have so much fun together. i feel like the luckiest person in the world. we got married not just once, but twice. and you know what? we are ridiculously normal. as in: we fall asleep on the couch together and watch movies and go grocery shopping and do laundry and go to starbucks and make meatloaf. we have a home and its filled with love. and you’ll have that one day, too. you really will. i promise. you just need to have faith. and give yourself time. and talk to someone you can trust if you feel so hopeless that you’re considering taking your own life.

because you need to be here.

you hear me?

you need to be here. you deserve to be here. i want you to be here. holly and i want you to be here. we all want you to be here. you might not know us but we’re out here. and the people closest to you that you might not think care–they care more than you know. you need to stick around so you can meet all the awesome, fun, impossibly sexy people that are going to help make your life not just bearable, but totally and completely awesome.

don’t bully yourself the way i did. don’t worry yourself about things that are going to work out just fine. i bet you’re not all that much different than me. and i’ve managed to figure it out. and you will, too.

i didn’t know at your age that it could get better. but it does and it has and the craziest thing? it just keeps getting better. it gets much, much, much better.

isn’t it crazy what can make you miss someone?

scientists say that it’s our sense of smell that can bring back our most poignant memories, but that’s usually never the case for me. usually it’s a song or a sound or just the look of something–maybe a combination of the two. it happens out of the blue, too, and almost always at the wrong time. and if the memory is connected to someone you’ve lost, it can really bring you to your knees.

we’re up in western pee-ay right now. we came here suddenly over the weekend. holly’s grandma–she’s 80 and still works full-time; she can actually run circles around people half her age. hell, she can run circles around us–had a bad fall at work. we jumped in the car as soon as we heard and made the five hour drive up. she’s ok, thank goodness, but pretty badly bruised on her face and hands. we’ve been staying with her while her parents are on their annual vacation (they go away just one week a year), and i’m so glad we’re here–she’s needed some tlc.

there’s so many special things about grandmothers. too many to count, really. if you lucked out and got a really great one–and had the privilege of spending many years w/her–you know exactly what i’m talking about. i’ve written about my grandmother quite a lot on this blog b/c she was, and still is, even almost a decade after her death, such an important part of my life. since i lost her in august 2000, i’ve sort of been…collecting grandmothers. holly’s grandma is now my grandma, too, and i take care of her as gently as i would my own.

i love spending time w/joanne (holly’s grandma), but sometimes it’s hard b/c it makes me miss my own so badly. usually the feeling creeps up on me. i got a huge, whopping dose of that sunday night while i was making myself a snack. i made toast. it was white bread (something we don’t usually keep in our house), similar to what my own grandma used to keep in her apartment. on one slice i put peanut butter, on the other, i can’t believe it’s not butter. ha. so cute, i know. my grandma didn’t keep that in the house. heck, i don’t even know if it was around back then. what she did have was tub margarine.

i used to go to her house on saturday nights when i was growing up. back when there was the saturday night lineup on nbc or abc or whatever it was. there was 227 and amen and empty nest–but the shining star of the night was the golden girls. omg how we loved the golden girls. hell if i could understand half the jokes back then (all sexual; most involving blanche or sophia calling blanche a slut or rose not getting that sophia was calling blanche a slut). i didn’t care about the jokes, tho. i  just loved being by her side. we would sip sugar-free swiss miss and eat white toast with margarine. i just loved it. looking back, i see that those were some of the happiest moments of my childhood.

i’m standing in holly’s grandma’s kitchen sunday night and i start spreading the butter spread on the toast. and something cracked in me. it was like…the looks of the toast, white bread with just a little golden brown, and the sound of the butter knife scraping against it. it was like i was whooshed back 20+ years in my own grandmother’s kitchen in new jersey. i was 10 years old again and my grandmother was in the living room waiting for me as our shows–our “programs,” as she would call them–were just about to start. it was just a split second but it split me in two and i stood in the kitchen and just started quietly crying and couldn’t stop. it just made me realize how something so small–just the look of a piece of toast and the sound of a butter knife scraping against it–can make you miss someone so badly it feels like your heart’s going to break in two.

it is so hard losing people. so so hard. i just hope that my grandmother knows how much i still miss her and how thankful i am that i had her in my life the 20 years that i did. i’m sorry this post is kind of a downer but it’s what i’ve been feeling and i try to write things here that a lot of ppl will identify with, happy or sad. if you’d like to share your thoughts on all this, pls do. you know i love it when you guys chime in. xo.

grandma would have been 100 today

and lemme tell you, i can say with great certainty that she’d be mad as hell.

if you’ve been reading this blog for the past few months, you know i was extremely close with my late grandma. she passed away eight years ago (it’ll be nine this august). she was born february 13, 1909. so this would have been her 100th birthday (!).

grandma, if you’re getting the internet version of the Heaven Newsletter (you probably are), i want to wish you a happy 100th. and i want you to know that even tho you’re not technically here, and you never really wanted to (read: didn’t) make it to 100 in the first place, i am very much thinking about you today. well, to be honest, i think about you a whole lot every day. (but i think that’s in the newsletter, too.) and even tho it breaks my heart that you’re not with us anymore, i’m relieved that you don’t have to deal with all that elderly “crap,” as you would have called it. plus all the, yes, even tho you told me not to say it, bastards, down here. (oh, and there are quite a few of them.) i couldn’t really think of a way to mark this day. but i figured a lasting tribute on the internet would do just fine.

to all my readers, my apologies i’ve been less than…what’s the word i’m looking for…well, i haven’t really been around. not writing so much. i guess i’ve just been feeling uninspired. just bogged down by the weight of the daily grind and everything that comes with it. (prolific! that’s the word i was thinking of.)

and to my late grandma…oh, grandma. happy 100th! thank G-d you were born. thank G-d you were in my life for as long as you were! i will brew a pot of coffee (in the perculator you gave me) tonight and toast a piping hot cup in your honor. i hope you have a permanent seat next to the unlimited pickle/olive/potato salad/cheese danish/lox/bagel/cream cheese bar in heaven. and that you’re smoking all the unfiltered pall malls you want. b/c, after 100 years, you sure as hell deserve it. love you!


something old

my cousin liat just sent me the most wonderful photos for my “something old” (something new, something borrowed, something blue…) category. they’re of our shared late grandma, the one i wrote to the other day (subsequentially throwing ppl into fits of tears from coast to coast, it seems; but believe you me, i was crying hardest of all) and i swear, they’re gonna throw me into another fit of tears. actually, they already kind of did.

unfortunately, i never got to see my grandma completely able-bodied. she broke her hip when i was just a toddler, and never quite recovered. my grandfather was a rabbi. (you can see him below; he smoked cigars, wore bowties and a 10-gallon hat. he was very cool) he passed when i was about two years old, so i never got to know him. [he, however, had me down to a tee, labeling me an “arch individualist” (who? me?) when i was still a wee lil thing.]

i love these photos. they make me sooo happy. this was the woman still very much inside the older woman i came to know and love. and looking at her here, i can see me in her. thank you, cousin. you’re like a sister to me, i love you. can’t wait to see you so soon…


my grandma


grandma & grandpa

so here’s a gay story

but first i want to say omG i’m sorry i disappeared. honestly, i’ve had a rough coupla weeks. lots of headaches, but more than that, five million deadlines and a bad cold to boot. colds suck. plus i’m a baby. hollys says to me when i’m sick, “you’re worse than a man!” i can soldier thru migraines that would make the average person drop to their knees, but give me a sore throat and a bad sinus headache and i turn into a blubbering mess.

ok, time for a story:
(and i meant to tell you sooner–and actually started to write an entry–but, alas, couldn’t finish it b/c i didn’t feel good enough)
so last weekend was this big baltimore marathon. we only remembered when we were midway thru a walk down to starbucks in canton and saw all these streets blocked off. we get to this main road and there’s a cop parked in the middle of it, just directing traffic around the park, leaning up against his car. (i know i told you this was a gay story, but i’m afraid it’s not that type of story–tho that does kick off a potentially interesting storyline but ANYWAY i digress) so we say hi, howyadoin, and walk across the street. (we always chat it up w/police officers b/c holly’s stepdad and step-brothers are all cops) so all the sudden he pipes up with something along the lines of, “ACTUALLY i’m NOT doing fine!” and starts laughing saying he’d rather not be directing traffic on a saturday morning and marathons stink and etc. so we walk back to him and joke around. i notice his hat says “detective” as we’re walking away, and say to holly, hey, he’s a detective, maybe we should talk to him about that drug house? (seems like every neighborhood in balitmore has one of those. ours doubles as like a brothel or something. nice!) so she’s like, good idea! we walk back and start asking him questions about what we can do, since when we report it, nothing happens and sometimes–you know, when things get really exciting and the pimps are breaking bottles on each others’ heads and no i’m not kidding but hotdamn that sounds funny(!)–the po’po don’t even show up.

after frankly explaining (and we do appreciate frank explanations) that really and truly, baltimore has so much bigger problems and they can’t always do much about these things (no comment on all that, i’ll just move on), he suggests that we go down to our district’s police station. like, just walk in. b/c they’re likely to actually listen to us there. then he sort of looks us up and down and well…ok, so here’s some context:

we had just woken up. we left the house shortly after 8am on a saturday. i was wearing my favorite t-shirt from the baltimore tattoo museum, jeans, (dorky but solid) running shoes and a baseball-style (but much cooler, ‘natch) black hot (from hot topic, also ‘natch–and hello! got it for 50% off, sha-weet!) with pink skulls and flowers on the top. holly was wearing adidas running pants, some kinda nike t-shirt, sneakers and a (real) baseball hat (pittsburgh pirates!). so he says something like, “now, i’m gonna go out on a limb here and i’m gonna say something that, well, could be a little offensive. should i go ahead and say it?” and we’re like, friggin a, what the hell, w/out even looking at each other. i totally knew what was coming.

“sure,” we say. i knew holly knew, too.

“i’m gonna go out on a limb and venture to say that you two are in an alternative lifestyle?”


and we’re like, sigh, “yeah.”

and then he goes on about how we really ought to go into the district station together b/c you know, since we’re in an “alternative lifestyle” and all, they’ll take us more seriously b/c of (gulp) hate crimes (G-d forbid, omg) and whatnot. and he’s black and heck, he “plays the race card” and everything. and we’re just like, what???  look, i mean the guy was nice but geezohman, right??

so we finish up the conversation and we finally get across that doggone street and i take a deep breathe and say to holly, “WELL GEEZ DO I REALLY LOOK THAT GAY??!” and we both start laughing and she’s like, “i knew that was gonna be the first thing outta your mouth!” she blamed herself for his…brave guess, we’ll say. “dead giveaway,” she says. and i have to agree. b/c her outfit, admittedly, was a little gay. she assures me that if i was walking by myself no one would really think that much of anything. [not that looking “gay” is bad, per se. but iJs. (i’m JUST saying)] i mean, even when i go to a gay club no one thinks i’m gay. just the bi-curious straight girl along for the ride. to, you know, experiment.]

anyway, we’re walking along kind of in shock about the whole thing. first off, we were like why didn’t one of us say (w/our blingy engagement rings on, i may add), “what the HELL are you talking about??? that is my COUSIN, officer! and my boyfriend’s gonna be PISSED!!!” but as all of you know, i’m sure, we usually think of those great comebacks way after the fact. then we’re like, wtf!!! ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE?!

note to all non-gays reading this: if you want to piss someone gay off, just call their LIFE an “alternative lifestyle.” oh now i’m gonna go on a rant. a well-intentioned person casually (and earnestly) asked me over the summer, “so, what do your parents think of your alternative lifestyle choice?” and i’m like, w-w-w-what? no, i didn’t flinch actually. but interally i did. it’s like a punch to the gut. here’s why:

first off, “alternative” is, like, being a satan worshipper or a vampire or something. tell me: what’s so friggin alternative about falling asleep with holly on the couch on a friday night? and the fact that we, um, cook dinner together? and like, go grocery shopping and stuff? WOW THAT’S SO ALTERNATIVE! and if you’re, say, a swinger, that’s a “lifestyle.” and both of those are CHOICES. being a gay is not a choice. let me repeat: BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE. why would i CHOOSE to spend the majority of high school crying alone in my room b/c i felt like such an outcast? why would i CHOOSE to feel ostracized from my community, religion and family? why on EARTH would anyone CHOOSE to be the butt of jokes, to be marginalized, to not be able to visit your partner if he or she is in the hospital? why would a coupla average girls like holly and i CHOOSE to travel up to PA this weekend and, w/our hearts in our throats, have to “break the news” to her grandma that we’re getting married, half-expecting her to cry?? why would CHOOSE nearly two years of heartache re: this wedding when we ought to be celebrating? no one would choose this. don’t get me wrong, i’m happy w/my lot in life. but saying that i live an alternative lifestyle? and one that i’ve “chosen,” no less? sorry, but notsomuch. not. so much.

ahem. so. clearly there’s a lot of issues at play here. and that cop should have never said what he did b/c, well, it was just inappropriate. (and trust me, i’m trained as a reporter. i do remember things and i’m very good at getting ppl on the phone and making them listen to me and i could very easily report this entire incident to the city police force. but i’m not going there and honestly, i really don’t think he meant anything by it. he was just trying to help us in his own way.) and i refuse to believe i looked all that gay. (ok, now i’m laughing.) and all my ranting above.

so we are indeed driving up to PA (“pee-ay”) this weekend to talk to holly’s grandma. we’re not looking forward to it, but it must be done. we’re (huge gulp!) less a month away from the wedding and holly just can’t go on not telling her anymore. i mean, look. when you get right down to it, we’re really just a couple of downright good girls who happen to love each other. we hold hands in the car. we fall asleep on the couch together. she brings me advil when i have a headache. i make her chocolate milk before she leaves for work in the morning. not so different, not all that alternative. i’m absolutely crazy about grandmothers, holly’s especially. and holly loves her like crazy. so please think good thoughts for us. b/c when you’re sitting in grandma’s cozy, carpeted house, hands cold as ice w/the one you love sitting next to you on a floral-print sofa, the last thing you want to do is break her heart.

funny, i don’t *feel* 30 yet

is it, um, supposed to happen sometime soon? b/c i’m officially 30 today and i still have that nagging perpetually-15 feeling. maybe it’s my bangs, or shameless addition to pop culture, denim and, um, gum. or the fact that i can’t concentrate on anything (these days, at least) for more than, like, five minutes. or, come to think of it, the fact that i still say “awesome” like i’m still livin’ on a prayer in jersey circa ’88. or that i still say “like.” also that.

i remember when i turned 20 (holy CRAP 10 years ago, what IS this!??), i was over the moon. omg, you have no idea. i was SO EXCITED to exit teenagehood, b/c honestly? it sucked. honestly it did. yeah, i’m not quite as excited to say goodbye to my 20s. but, it’s kinda like, i really don’t have a choice (!). and it’s good this way. b/c as i said in a previous posting, turning 30 is most definitely (ok, world’s biggest understatement here) better than not turning 30. so all in all, i’m thrilled, just absolutely thrilled. i am one to count my blessings, and i definitely have a lot of those. way too many to list here. so! happy birthday to me and i shall now switch to another subject:

so after seven+ yrs of hearing about each other, our parents finally met on saturday at our wedding shower. and you know what? yes, you guessed it: our collective world did not shatter. (those who know me know that i’m constantly expecting my world to shatter) in fact, they really liked each other! i was like *blink blink blink* do i *blink blink blink* really see our moms sitting across from each other t-t-t-talking? and our dads standing around makin small talk? really, it was just too awesome to believe. sometimes i get what neurologists call “let-down” headaches after a stressful time. that didn’t happen this time around. but what i got was an friggin awful stomachache! at my own shower! now, it could have been all the fresh melon in the fruit salad (ok, now i’m an old lady: OY FRESH MELON GIVES ME INDIGESTION) or just the fact that i was so relieved everything was ok. but i was poppin rolaids like it was going out of style and kind of doubled over at our funny “head table,” which really, was a bit sad but mostly dorky. (not the table, me. haha.) (note to self: steer clear of fruit salad on wedding day.) 

so in honor of my 30th year, i say the following:
wtf idk. iJs.

here’s to a helluva lot more birthdays. onwards!

i’ve got to tell all of you

that, according to wordpress’ wonderful and all-knowing stats page, the most popular search terms folks use when they stumble upon this blog usually go something like this:

“song trying to catch your heart”
trying to catch your heart is like trying to catch a star”

“how to say gay in russian”

and of course there’s always:
“gay man in past life” (tho that was only once)

hey, whatever works! you know i love me some new readers.

so think good thoughts, everyone, as our worlds gently…collide? no…ummm….greet each other this weekend. after our parents meet, we need to go to PA (in a couple weeks) to tell holly’s grandma that we’re tying the knot. we don’t know how she’ll take it. she kind of gets that we’re together but kind of not? my chiropractor told me today that i ought to write a book about all this. never a dull moment, i tellya. that’s prob. why i’m at the doggone chiropractor so much. also popping migraine meds.

happy weekend, all! i know you all need it as much as i do.

november’s coming like a freight train

and our parents are meeting for the first time this weekend.

did i mention i’m turning 30 on monday?

send help! my life is becoming a ben stiller movie!

meet me at the tractors

before i begin writing this entry, it’s essential that you know that holly’s hometown of butler, PA (“pee-ay”) is NOT a farm town. it’s actually a big place, a city, really, and much bigger (and a helluva lot less snotty) than my hometown of caldwell, nj, (OLD-SCHOOL Z100 SHOUT-OUT TO ALL MY JERSEY PPL IN THE HOUSE SAY HOOO-OOOOH! say ho! ho! now screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam!) but there are farms in the vicinity of butler, PA–and a lot more green than baltimore, dc or northern jersey–which means big animals, four-wheelers, huge lawnmowers, tractors and yes, farm shows.

the whole family went out to the butler farm show saturday night, a dusty, sun-filled extravaganza of fresh-off-the-‘tater fries, trucks, squeaky/wildly-blinking rides (that you could only get me on if you killed me first–fyi, totally not just saying that), smelly (but awesome) animals and also peach (and apple) cobblers drowning in fresh vanilla softserve (hold me down, omg. so good). as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words, so, without further ado, here’s a brief tour:

first we got our hands stamped with sticky acrylic paint-type stuff. that's holly's arm on the left, mine on the rigiht. (i know, you all were dying to see what our arms look like.)

first we got our hands stamped with sticky acrylic paint-type stuff. that's holly's arm on the left, mine on the right. (i know, you all were dying to see what our arms look like.)

first we saw some animals. they were adorable, if not a tad smelly. i found it really funny that they were there at all, i mean, just for us to look at and stuff. 

heeeeeere, chicky chicky chicky.... (i said come HERE dammit, omg wtf why don't they LISTEN?!)

heeeeeere, chicky chicky chicky.... (i said come HERE dammit! omg wtf don't they LISTEN?!)

cows, less than thrilled to see us. (WAIT, *this* is where milk comes from?? omg i'm totally not drinking it anymore.)

farmers...or secret lovers?? (or both?) haha, i know, i'm terrible, right??

farmers...or secret lovers?? (or both?) haha, i know, i'm terrible, right??

wheeeeeeeee! (yeah, like i said. if you wanna get me on something like that, you're gonna be dragging my cold, dead body w/ya. good luck w/that.)

wheeeeeeeeee! (yeah, like i said, if you want to get me on one of those, you're gonna havta carry my cold, dead body w/ya. good luck w/that.)

butler beauty school representin'!

butler beauty school representin'!

well, now that i know John the Greek has welcomed me to the fair, i guess i feel really...welcome! (found this near one of the fair's many gyro stands)

well! now that i know john the greek has welcomed me to the fair, i feel so...welcome! (found this adjacent to one of the fair's many gyro stands.)

well dip me in batter and drop me in hot oil! i'll take 15 fried oreos, please!

well dip me in batter and drop me in hot oil! i'll take 15 fried oreos, please!

good to know considering i just--burp!--ate 15 fried oreos. (found this gem of a sign at a indoor church booth. it was above a funhouse-type mirror. and *yes* i looked wide, omg.)

good to know considering i just--burp!--ate 15 fried oreos. (found this gem of a sign at a indoor church booth. it was above a funhouse-type mirror that, yes, did, in fact, make me look quite wide.)

by the time we were finished at the farm show, my black pumas were thoroughly dusty and i was uncomfortably full of assorted fried delicacies–something i do not partake of often but i do enjoy (that is, until about two minutes later when the requiste guilt and stomacheache kick in). the next morning (yesterday), we all went to celebrate the baptism of baby brennan, holly’s newest nephew. i volunteered to be the family photog. this is something that started, let’s see, two summers ago at the baptism of landon (one of holly’s other nephews, both belonging to her twin sister). it must’ve been august then–or september?–and holly’s mom asked if i could do it. i shrugged and said, sure, why not. i felt a sense of pride that she would bestow such an important task in my hands–hands that, at that point, were not all that accustomed to digital cameras. i felt weird enough, being in a church at all, had never been to a baptism and taking photos to boot? but i rose to the challenge, as they say, and before i knew it, was zooming in on the holy water like a pro. this time around, holly’s mom didn’t even ask me; i brought her camera along and got up with holly, her two sisters, niece and brother-in-law when the pastor called them up to the front.

i mean, here’s the thing: i’m just a jewish girl from new jersey. and, really, it was just a coincidence that i didn’t wear all black yesterday morning. usually i feel like i stick out like a sore thumb, not only in holly’s town, but in her family. it’s been tough-going w/both our families over the past seven years. but holly’s family, they’re tight. they fight hard, but they love even harder. getting used to “us” (and me, esp. me) has been a process. and i’m the first to admit that i’ve been a giant pain the ass (i’d blame it more on culture shock vs. actually being a pain in the ass, tho i can def. be one of those, too) but being up there, involved like i was, my fear of being at the front of the church, in view of absolutely everybody, to get a good shot, my hesitation of not actually being a “real” part of the family…it all sort of slipped away. in fact, i don’t think i’ve ever felt more like a part of the family. in the midst of it, i turned around to look at everyone in the pews, and holly’s mom and i locked eyes for a moment–and we both smiled at each other. it put a lump in my throat, it really did. b/c in that moment, for the very first time, i felt like i really belonged there. i wanted to be there and ppl wanted me there. seven years in the making and not a moment too soon. welcome to the world, baby brennan! i’m aunt jessica. nice to meet you.

holly (aka, the Baby Whisperer) and brennan, post-baptism.

holly (aka, the Baby Whisperer) and brennan, post-baptism.