Tag Archives: jewish

did i tell you how holly cut her fingertips off on christmas?

oh, i didn’t? yeah that’s right because i tried to and then i fainted.

warning: if you have problems with blood (like i do) i suggest you stop reading and go watch funny cat videos.

really. right now. do it.

(i know you’re still reading. i can see you.)

(fine. keep reading. but don’t say i didn’t warn you. i’m dizzy and i haven’t even started writing yet. just try not to hit your head on anything on the way down.)

so it was just an average christmas in butler, pennsylvania (or “pee-ay” as the locals say). and by average i actually mean less-than-average. a ray of light in the darkness was holly’s fancy new french au gratin recipe, which she saw on the cooking channel, her second favorite tv channel after bravo.

she decided she’d try it out on christmas day. i should note that holly has a habit of trying out new recipes on holidays, when we’re having visitors, on special occasions, etc. it doesn’t always go so well. but i digress.

this recipe, it’s actually called, get this, pomme de terra a la boulangere, french for “potatoes a la bakery,” which is equally as vague, if not slightly ridiculous. it calls for a lot of thinly sliced potatoes and onions. a whole lot of them. especially onions. so holly packed her oxo brand “v-blade” mandolin slicer and off we went to pee-ay.

at the time, holly had only used this slicer (pictured below) one time. and the entire time i felt myself getting dizzy and paced around the downstairs saying things like babe, we really don’t need julienned beets. i can do without the damn julienned beets just come here so i can hold you.

the slicer features an alarming array of sharp blades, all of which could easily slice off and/or shred one to four of your fingers and/or digits. what i’m saying is: just looking at this thing makes me picture pints of my blood on the floor, which, in turn, gets me light-headed and forces me to frantically search for a hard candy in one of my thousand purses to distract me and raise my blood sugar, which drops in times of severe stress. (hard candies are a jewish thing used to treat all ailments. kind of like windex for skin problems in my big fat greek wedding. don’t ask me, i don’t get it either.)

oxo v-blade mandolin slicer

anyway, holly and i are alone in her parents’ kitchen. the rest of her family is downstairs in the basement hanging out. as she’s slicing onions with the mandolin, i’m peeling potatoes with an ancient peeler repeatedly inquiring about how many i should peel. i should note that holly was not in the best of moods. she really shouldn’t have been using anything sharp and dangerous. (and i probably shouldn’t have been asking her annoying questions.)

i hand her potatoes and she slices them into gorgeous, even, thin slices. things are going well. she double checks the recipe, and it turns out she needs even more onions. she switches from slicing potatoes to slicing onions, reducing the depth of the blade since they’re thinner than the potatoes. this is the move that probably saved her fingers.

she’s in a hurry and grabs the onion and begins slicing it without the guard. if you’re familiar with mandolin slicers, you may already know that the first rule is to use the damn guard. that’s why they make it! the guard (the round thing in the photo above) attaches to whatever you’re slicing, thus protecting your hand and fingers from complete annihilation.

i’m not sure how long it took for her to hit the blade since i’ve already repressed the memory of almost the entire afternoon. all i remember is her suddenly shouting F*CK! F*CK! F*CK! then jumping up and down holding her hand and me shouting WHAT WHAT WHAT!

i went into panic mode immediately, ran to the sink and put on the cold water, shouting PUT YOUR HAND UNDER THE FAUCET, which, of course, didn’t help at all seeing how she had just cut both nail and flesh off her left middle finger, ring finger and pinky. (i had done something similar, in the very same kitchen, over the summer, cutting off a significant chunk of flesh off the right side of my right thumb with a (*gulp*) apple corer, and the first thing holly did for me was put my thumb under cold water. i almost fainted but couldn’t since her little nephews were there, so we played “i spy with my little eye” in order to keep me conscious.)

by the third “F*CK!” her younger sister, heather, thank G-d, ran up from the basement, followed by her parents.

there was a lot of blood, most of which i didn’t see because i had to turn away. as holly’s stepdad (once a cop, always a cop) went through the sliced onions looking for fingertips to put on ice  (she didn’t cut off enough flesh to reattach; all he found was (ugh) fingernails), heather and holly’s mom tended to holly’s bleeding and i ran around in circles panicking.

it was quickly decided holly would go to the emergency room to stop the bleeding and for a tetanus shot. holly, of course, was fairly calm. she was mostly a) in an extreme amount of pain and b) irritated at the thought of getting a tetanus shot–and the fact that she had had the accident at all.

i, of course, was far from calm. this was not the type of health crisis that called for a hard candy.

after handing holly–who was standing near the door waiting to leave–a superfluous amount of paper towels to replace the blood-soaked ones she was holding and promptly running away from her, i ran around the house in tears looking for what she’d need on the way to and at the hospital.

i grabbed her cell phone, a charger and her driver’s license. remembering she hadn’t eaten lunch yet, i also found the rather large square of what could only be described as artesian caramel we purchased at the wexford, pa whole foods the day before. because when you’ve chopped off both nail and flesh in a mandolin slicer the thing you really need most is artesian caramel.

“heather,” i said to her sister, who works in the medical field and who was therefore acting normal, unlike me.

surely i had ramona crazy eyes by this point. the fact that heather did not run from me is a testament to her love for her older sister.

“here’s stuff holly’ll need at the hospital: her cell phone, charger, driver’s license,” i plopped everything down in her open hands.

“and caramel. she hasn’t eaten and her blood sugar’s probably low.”

heather looked at me, blinking. she may have laughed a little, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

then it was time for holly and heather to go to the hospital. i couldn’t hold it together any longer. i grabbed holly around her neck and blubbered something about how much i loved her, i’m so sorry this happened, i’m so worried about you, i love you so much, i love you and i love you and etc. i swear you’d think she was about to go into battle.

her mother may have had to pull me off her. again, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

once they left, i sat down on the couch and sobbed into my hands. it was a crap week and this was the cherry on top. she was bleeding and in pain and i couldn’t do a thing to help but hand her sister a piece of artesian caramel.

her mom told me that it was ok and not to worry, that’d she be fine. susan (her mom) and frank (her stepdad) threw out the onions holly had been slicing, cleaned up the accident scene, finished up the recipe, and went to visit with family downstairs.

i stayed upstairs, immobile with worry. incapable of doing anything else, i picked up my phone and played words with friends, then walked around in circles. honestly, i don’t really remember what i did until they came back. luckily they weren’t gone for long (about an hour).

when i saw holly’s fingers (below), of course i burst into tears again.

holly's fingers after her mandolin accident

as instructed by heather, i met them both at the door with two glasses of guinness –and a rather large shot of whiskey for holly.

soon, more family came in for christmas dinner. despite her cooking injury, i’m pleased to report that almost everyone ate the pommes de terre a boulangere. the ironic thing is that most people thought it was “too onion-y,” so i guess holly didn’t need to cut up all those extra onions after all.

i can say with great certainty that this was our worst christmas ever. however, there is much to be thankful for: her injury could have been much, much worse. if she had been cutting the potatoes, she would have sliced off way more and this would be a much different blog entry.

since christmas, holly has changed her bandages many, many times, and, now that the bleeding and oozing has stopped, i’ve forced myself to take a deeeeeep breath and look her fingers and i gotta say: it’s pretty damn bad. seeing them kind of makes me want to hold her and tell her to never slice or julienne anything ever again.

when she got home from the hospital, i told holly we’d be throwing out the slicer. but frank said it was “operator error” and that there’s nothing wrong with the slicer. it was, in fact, the operator. which was holly. so, despite  my pleas, we brought the damn thing home.

last week, when i was upstairs, and holly was downstairs and therefore unsupervised, she secretly julienned zucchini and yellow squash for a pizza. i got kind of mad that she was using it again, but what can i do? she’s a chef, she needs to express herself through her culinary creations and has vowed to never, ever use the mandolin slicer without the guard again. i, on the other hand, am investigating blade-resistant gloves.

this concludes what i hope will be the bloodiest lunch at 11:30 post ever. if you fainted, you can wake up now. here are two funny captioned hamster pictures to help ease you back into consciousness.

funny hamster picture

funny hamster picture 2

haha. until next time! happy 2013! and if you need to use a mandolin slicer USE THE DAMN GUARD.

p.s. if you live in the baltimore area, be sure to pick up the current issue of baltimore bride, which features my essay, “Four Weddings And a Referendum: A love story about two women and their many weddings,” which chronicles our multiple nuptials (including some of the less-than-perfect things that happened on the way to our first wedding–the BFGW, if you will. kind of like the “dvd extras” you never got to read the first time around.) the entire issue is pretty goshdarn gorgeous and i’m honored to be a part of it. (plus they drew a picture of us!)

holly and i as CARTOONS!

us! as cartoons! (look at my shiny hair! FABULOUS!)

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner, part 2

the fourth and final installment of the “what i did this summer” series.
[part 1 (shot guns/cooked a fish) is here. part 2 (flirted with siri) is over here. part 3 (took a 30-minute flight without xanax, made a scene) is over there.]

you may recall my post a few months ago in which i met my literary idol, new york times bestselling author jennifer weiner, and promptly turned into a blubbering idiot, scaring her by saying things like, “i think i’m going to faint.” and the very unique “i’m a writer, too.”

it was my mom who wound up rescuing me from myself, miraculously and stealthily popping up behind my shoulder, announcing in a way that only a jewish mother can that i really was a writer, making me look far less crazy and perhaps only emotionally deranged.

when i found out that jen would be stopping by the philadelphia public library on tour for her fab new book the next best thing, i called my mom immediately on her new iphone (that she bought at best buy for $49; please oh please don’t ask her about her iphone–more on that later) and told her we needed to go. a longtime jennifer weiner fan, she immediately agreed.

we got to the library and there was already a line to get into the auditorium. once the doors were unlocked and everyone filed in, it soon became absolutely packed. despite the crowd, i knew with great certainty that i was still jen’s #1 SuperFan.

what i’m saying is: if she had a fanclub, i’d be president and i’d make holly treasurer and we’d hold bake sales. i’d make holly bake everything, of course. and we’d name the baked goods after her books, like Good in Bed Brownies and Fly Away Home Flan (ok wait: flan’s probably not good for a bake sale.)

my mom and i found seats towards the front right, and after this funny library guy gave an introduction, jen walked out and the crowd went wild. well, as wild as a library crowd can get.

she started speaking and five minutes later, i see my mom covertly open her purse and unearth a small mass of chocolate chips. and they’re wrapped in plastic wrap. she “secretly” unwraps them, then begins sneaking them out a couple at a time.

she’s trying to be quiet, but it’s no use. she’s the kid in synagogue trying to wrestle a hard candy out of a crinkly wrapper in the middle of the torah service. (if you’ve ever been to synagogue you know this isn’t a good thing.)

mom,” i whispered.

“do you want some?” she whispered back. (and by “whispered” i mean not whisper. jewish mothers are not renowned for whispering. it’s like an evolutionary mechanism to protect their children from wild animals and cold weather.)

“they’re ghirardelli,” she said, pushing them in my direction. like the fact that they’re a name brand was going to make me want to snack on chocolate chips during a jennifer weiner event.

“no thanks, mom.”

then she informed me she had “cheese wedges,” in her purse, too, which i could only surmise meant laughing cow cheese wedges, which are actually meant to spread on crackers at home or at the office, or even at a picnic, not enjoy on their own in the philadelphia public library’s auditorium during a jennifer weiner event.

“mom, what? cheese wedges?” i whispered, my eyes wide.

“well, it’s protein,” she non-whispered back . “and carbohydrates.”

“oh i am so blogging about this,” i told her.

“do you want one?” she asked, trying not to laugh.

“no, mom, i don’t want any cheese wedges!” i said, trying not to crack up while simultaneously trying to remember what she was saying, since i knew i’d be writing it down.

then she offered me chocolate chips again, which i declined–again.

after jen’s talk, (which was hysterical–you can listen to it here) all us superfans ran out and got in line for her to sign our books. i guess the problem with sitting in front at an author event is that you’re pretty much dead last in line for the signing.

i really didn’t mind, as i feel a special kind of kinship with other jennifer weiner superfans (JWSFs). i quickly befriended my fellow line waiters, thrilled to discuss my fave JW books without holding back. we also animatedly discussed jen’s foxy new look, which featured glamorous extensions and fabulous shoes.

my mom joined the line, also thrilled to be part of the JWSF excitement. i don’t know how it came up, but one of my new JWSF friends started talking about coupons and wouldn’t you know, my mom has an app for that. on her new iphone. that she got for $49 at best buy.

“i have the greatest coupon app!” my mom told my new friends. (this from the woman who never figured out how to use a VCR–and yet she’s mastered the world of apps. i know, i don’t get it either.)

“i got my iphone for $49 at best buy,” she continued.

mom,” i implored, gently touching her shoulder. but it was too late. the levy broke. the i-got-my-iphone-for-$49-at-best-buy-yes-i-really-did-no-i’m-not-kidding speech had begun.

“…you see? it’s a real iphone. yeah i really did get it for $49. i can’t believe it either.”

“i think you’re calling someone,” one of my new friends, i think her name was emily, politely informed her.

“what? i am? how can you tell?”

“look, the call counter’s on,” i said, pointing to the screen. “it’s ruth.”

in her coupon app excitement, she had accidentally called her friend ruth. i love ruth.

she held the phone up to her ear.

hello? HELLO? ruth? hello?”

when it comes to cell phones, jewish mothers have no volume regulator. it’s only loud or LOUDER. it’s like they think whomever they’re talking to is connected to their cell phone by a piece of string and if they don’t speak loud enough the other person will not hear them.

“i think she hung up,” she told us.

then my mom did what any sensible jewish mom would do after accidentally calling her friend ruth while waiting in a jennifer weiner booksigning line at the philadelphia public library: she called her back.

“ruth? HELLO, RUTH? hi, it’s susan! IT’S SUSAN. right, i called. by accident. uh-huh, i’m at the jennifer weiner event right now with jessie. oh it’s so fun! yeah. ok i can’t talk. but i’ll…what? what? i think we’re…hello? right i’ll call you, i’ll call you back. ok, talk to you later.”

“that was ruth,” she said.

“i know,” i said.

i think everyone in line knew it was ruth.

the line was moving at a decent pace. before i knew it, it was our turn.

jen greeted us warmly, and i mentioned that i was the crazed SuperFan that blogged about meeting her months earlier.

“and this is my mom. again,” i said, smiling, proud of my effervescent champ of a professor mom that, if i invite her, will come with me to any and all jennifer weiner events in the philadelphia area, come hell, high water, or chocolate chips. she will get there three hours early with me to sit in the front row (like she did last time), and she will stand in a book signing line with me for who knows how long, make friends with other JWSFs, and educate them on handy, money-saving apps.

jen laughed and said it was nice to see us again and yes, of course she remembered my blog post. (how could she not? if you had a psycho fan write a 1,000-word blog post about how she met you for two minutes, you’d remember it, too.)

then she asked me why i was so nervous about meeting her the last time.

i blubbered something about…oh hell. i actually don’t remember what i said because i’m probably repressing it as it most likely sounded mentally incompetent or at least slightly demented. however i do remember saying something about madonna. (i have the unique ability to insert the topic of madonna into any conversation.) 

jen announced that i needed a beach towel. before i knew it, i was holding a huge JW towel.

then she mentioned something about thinking about her when i was hot and steamy just out of the shower and then i really forgot everything i planned to say.

in my JWSF stupor, someone handed me a JW tote bag. then, tote and towel in hand,  i waved goodbye to jen and my new JWSF friends–just another 30-something emotionally deranged superfan with her sensible mom.

i put my JW beach towel in my new JW tote and stepped into my dad’s waiting highlander, amped up from the delicious combination of literary celebrity, community, and free fan merchandise.

suddenly i felt my blood-sugar dropping.

“mom, do you have any of those chocolate chips left?”

of course she did. and man was i glad they were a name brand.

as the chocolate chips melted in my mouth, i held my new JW tote close and thought about all the fun things my mom and i have done over the years: playing hooky when i was a kid to hit the MET and the hard rock cafe on a school day (YES REALLY!); getting miraculously bumped up about a hundred rows closer to barry manilow when he played madison square garden a few years ago (yes i took my mom to a barry manilow concert; it’s called love, people–and besides, he still has a voice like buttah and moves very well for a man his age); countless mall outings, coffee shop chitchats, and trips to buy me bare escentuals make-up and warm winter coats (jewish parents live to buy their children warm winter coats).

i suddenly kind of wanted a cheese wedge, too.

“i love you, mom. thanks for coming with me,” i said.

“i love you, too, honey. i had a great time. i knew you’d eventually want some chocolate chips. that’s why i brought them. here’s a cheese wedge. the chocolate’s not enough. you need protein, too.”

aw, mom.

——–

this concludes the what i did this summer series. it was a busy summer full of mystery and intrigue: grilled cheeses. guns. flirting with female robots. a 30-minute flight to pittsburgh without xanax. literary celebrities. moms. chocolate chips. free totes.

special thanks to jennifer weiner for once again being a good sport with her more…excitable fans. and the towel. and the tote, which i proudly tote around, proclaiming my superfan-ness.

an additional special thanks to jen’s fab assistant meghan, who not only remembered me, but didn’t run away when she saw me coming towards her. i believe she orchestrated the free towel and tote, but i was too excited to understand it at the time. love the towel, love the tote, love that you didn’t kick us out for chocolate-chipping. (do you want some? i’m sure my mom has more.)

next up: tacos with the in-laws. and how i thought i just scratched my throat with a corn shell but wound up coming down with a two-week cold that’s resulted in me becoming an alcoholic.

hurricanes upset my hiatal hernia

(a breaking news interruption in the what i did this summer series)

like most jewish girls in the 21st century, i’m not known for my hearty nature. my straightened hair frizzes easily, my joints tend to ache before rain, and i need to eat every three hours or my blood-sugar will drop severely and i will undoubtedly act out.  (trust me, you don’t want me to act out.)

i also have a hiatal hernia that gets irritated during stressful situations. so you know i wasn’t happy to hear there was the worst hurricane in like 50 years headed our way.

to be quite frank, even before sandy’s arrival, i’d kind of had it with the natural disaster type things around here. we’d already had two hurricanes and we’ve only lived in baltimore since 2006. oh and then there was THAT EARTHQUAKE which i mistakenly thought was an underground gas explosion, which propelled me to make the wise decision to stick my head out of our second-floor bedroom’s wide-open windows and shout at the jackhammering work guys outside WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING MY HOUSE IS GOING TO EXPLODE.

as luck would have it, a drugdealer across the street looked up at me and shouted EAAARTH-QUAKE!!!!!! oh so it wasn’t a gas explosion, i thought as i my socked feet slid across the rumbling floor. relief quickly turned to guilt, as i really gave the confused-looking workers a verbal lashing. i kind of felt like a dumbass but whatever. it could have been a gas explosion. what the hell do i know? i’ve never felt a friggin earthquake before. this isn’t california, it’s maryland. so i did what any jersey girl would do: i threw on my sneaks and jean jacket, grabbed  my purse and ran the hell out the door. it doesn’t matter that it was 90 degrees out. hell if i’m going to let our house crumble on my very best jean jacket.

anyway, as soon as i heard about the hurricane, my hiatal hernia started acting up. (have you ever had bad gas pains? yeah, it’s kind of like that but higher and it burns.) i put on my brave face (and yes, my jean jacket) and went to safeway friday afternoon to buy water only to be confronted by soviet-era empty shelves, then promptly threatened to cut a girl and pull out her weave for two bottles of smartwater. (no i actually didn’t do that but i could have don’t tempt me)

i bugged holly all weekend about getting ice, buying more drinks, buying more food, making sure the gas tank was filled, recharging all the rechargeable batteries we bought before the last hurricane that we haven’t used yet. i also bugged her to cook me hearty hurricane food like guinness beef stew and chili even though they would probably all upset my hiatal hernia.

i finally remembered to fill up the bathtub sunday night, when the hurricane was already well under way, of course. i’m not exactly sure why you should do that? because storms make the water go out? and then you use it to flush the toilet?

whatever, they kept mentioning it on the news and it was stressing me out. so i turned on the tub then went downstairs and started doing dishes until, panic-stricken, i remembered OH MY GOSH I LEFT THE WATER ON BABE TURN IT OFF HURRY!

“oh i love how this is my responsibility now!” holly shouted as she frantically ran up the stairs.

i knew she was right but i was also in the middle of doing dishes. sue me, i panicked and she was closer to the stairs. anyway, in those moments before she got to the bathroom, i had visions of the tub running over and telling people, yeah we had a really bad leak and our ceiling collapsed but no, it wasn’t because of the hurricane, it was because i left the bathtub on for like 30 minutes.

“IT’S OKAY!” holly shouted downstairs.

i breathed out, eternally grateful for our oversized tub.

i rewarded myself for getting through such a stressful time by drinking some cranberry-lemonade honest-ade, which we bought in case the water went out and/or became poisoned, so it was strictly off-limits. i took a few gulps and irresponsibly encouraged holly to do the same.

then we decided to go downstairs to our children-of-the-corn basement, which, yes, once smelled like dead people but doesn’t anymore, to check how much water we were getting.

we quickly discovered that we’d sprung a new leak, which was saturating the ceiling. i immediately started worrying about how much it would cost to fix and would it lead to structural damage, simultaneously patting myself on the back for even knowing such a term. then i realized holly had been talking to me for like a minute asking me to help her pump the water out of the basement through our street-level basement window.

while we were pumping, all i could do was think about how much i wanted to wash my hands and would i get a spider bite and would patient first be open and what if i needed antibiotics?

we went back upstairs to the living room, and by then the wind was really going. between the howling winds, the leak downstairs, and pounding rain, i doubted i’d be able to fall asleep.

suddenly holly was next to me on the couch in her pajamas wanting to watch one of her dumb comedy/action movies. you know, the kind where one thing after another goes wrong? (this one was “the sitter,” which, though kind of annoying and crude, was also kind of funny.)

she’s always stealthily changing into her pajamas. seriously, i turn my back for a minute and the girl’s in her pajamas. i don’t even know how she does it but it never ceases to amaze me.

“you really want to go to sleep in your pajamas?” i asked her wide-eyed. “what if we need to run out in an emergency in the middle of the night? i’m sleeping in my clothes. i’m not even taking off my bra.”

“what kind of emergency?” she said, trying not to laugh.

“well…like if the windows break. if the wind blows the windows out and we have to run out of the house away from flying glass!”

“i think we’ll be ok,” she said, settling into the movie.

i gave her the evil eye, jealous of her cozy pajamas. my jeggings suddenly seemed restrictive, and my ironic flannel shirt felt too hot. but whatever. i was prepared. she’d be the one sopping wet in her pajamas outside with the neighborhood perverts if our window blew out, not me.

when the movie was over, we went to bed. i decided to wear sweatpants to sleep because hell if was going to run out of the house in the middle of the night in boxer shorts amongst the perverts and whatnot. i had a moment of hesitation regarding my bra but decided i could put it on while running out of the house if need be.

i’m happy to report that besides the new basement leaks, our house withstood the wind and rain. and i did manage to sleep. and there were no emergencies causing us to run outside in the rain amongst the perverts. i was relieved i didn’t have to put my on bra on the run. to be honest, i’m not sure if that’s even possible.

my heart is heavy for all the folks that lost their homes, lost everything, even their lives. i spent many happy times with my family at the jersey shore. but, as a one-time jersey girl, i have to say: new jersey folks are damn resilient. if anyone can rebuild, it’s them. the same goes for those in queens.

last night i thought about posting this entry, wondering if it was too nonchalant considering the damage that’s been done. but then i decided everyone could use a laugh right about now. and what better way to cheer up than to read about my multiple neuroses (and my hiatal hernia) during a hurricane? exactly.

in unrelated news, if you love lunch at 11:30, and i know you do!, please help me win best personal blog in the baltimore sun mobbies competition. signing up takes about…5 seconds. and voting takes about the same! just click on the badge below and look for lunch at 11:30. you can vote once a day, every day! not to try to bribe you or anything, but i’ll totally send you leftover halloween candy if you vote for me. i promise it won’t have any needles in it. promise. and no raisins. i don’t believe in giving out raisins. or pennies. just candy. THANKS.

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

not taking xanax on my 30-minute flight to pittsburgh was a really bad idea

the third installment of what i did this summer.*

*(two to three more installments to follow.)
**(part 1 is over here. part 2 is over there.)
***(can we start now? good.)

if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that just over a year ago, i bought a holiday sweater from chico’s, got a prescription for xanax, and boarded a plane to san francisco for my dear friend nicole‘s wedding.

(then i proceeded to wear that sweater–which was both unseasonal and inappropriately sparkly–to her pre-wedding party, burning out several people’s retinas in the process. SORRY ABOUT THAT.)

anyway, a couple weeks before leaving, i called my doctor saying i was nervous about the flight and could she prescribe something gentle and extremely low dose to help calm me down before and during my trip.

“xanax,” she said without skipping a beat.

she explained that it was the lowest dose available on the market, and i could even just take half.

i picked up the little white pills at the pharmacy later that day and stared at them. LORD, i thought. i must really love nicole because i do not want to take these pills nor do i want to take this flight. 

(and i do love her!!! hi, nicole! mwah!)

i decided to do a “test run” at home, and took one (well, half, ok i’m a sissy and actually only took half) on a sunday afternoon as holly and i were watching a movie on the couch.

my immediate urge was, of course, to gag myself and throw it up. but alas, as a neurotic jewish control freak, i avoid throwing up at all costs, so gagging myself was not an option and i was stuck there on the couch with the xanax melting in my stomach.

i immediately started to panic. kind of like that one time i took caffeine pills i found in a freebie welcome-to-college pack when i was a freshman and collapsed on the floor next to my sleeping roommate.

“it’s ok, babe,” holly said, her eyes fixed on whatever annoying action-comedy she had chosen. “you’ll be fine.”

and…i was fine. i was actually fine! it felt more like my old migraine medicine, but better. it just sort of…took the edge off. and it worked perfectly on my flight. except for when it wore off somewhere over colorado but we’re not going there right now.

so when holly bugged me til i agreed to let her mom book me a flight to pittsburgh a couple months ago–while holly was there helping her gram–i was like, ok, yeah sure. i can do this. i’ll take a xanax, i’ll be fine. 

but then i started thinking stupid things like: wait. do i really want to use xanax as a crutch like this? it’s just a half-hour flight. i can do it. i want to see how i actually am on a flight. maybe i’m not that bad anymore. it’s just half an hour.

folks, this was deranged thinking. a half-hour flight is still a half hour flight! you still have to board the friggin plane, sit the hell down, wait a long time for it to take off. then you have to take off (omg i hate taking off), fly and land.

i woke up at 5am nervous as hell, even though my flight was at 4pm,  so i started off my day by downloading a bunch of songs from itunes on my new iphone to calm me down on the plane. they were what some might call comfort songs. the musical equivalent of…toast with jam. a slice of your favorite pizza. birthday cake. ok carbs. they were the musical equivalent of carbs.

here’s what i purchased:

(i’ve had) the time of my life (yes, from dirty dancing)
waiting for a star to fall (yes, 80s)
so emotional (yes, whitney houston, yes, 80s)
i wanna dance with somebody (yes, whitney, yes more 80s)
bette davis eyes (and yet…more 80s!) (that is one DAMN GOOD SONG btw)
hammer and a nail (yes, indigo girls; yes, very lesbionic of me, i know)
now or never (gotta throw a little dance in there, too) (also a GREAT SONG)

so. i get on the plane. and i get a seat right in the middle on the wing like i wanted. and this businesslady is sitting next to me. she’s in sales and flys all the time and i’m totally making her talk to me even though it’s clear she’s really not interested.

i mention that i’m a nervous flyer but decided i didn’t want to take xanax.

“i just don’t want to use it as a crutch, you know?” i tell her.

she looks at me and smiles politely, as if to say: lady, i really wish you would have taken your xanax. i’m really doubting my decision to sit next to you.

she assures me that the flight is short. you’re up, you’re down, you’re there.

then it starts to rain. hard. and i fear there’s lightning. there’s only one thing that scares me more than flying and it’s lightning. but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

anyway, the storm passes and we finally move onto the runway. convinced the roar of the jet engines will cover it up, i start doing deep breathing exercises. we lift off the ground and suddenly i realize:

THIS WAS THE STUPIDEST IDEA OF MY LIFE. I REALLY SHOULD HAVE TAKEN XANAX.

i start frantically searching for my homeopathic stress spray and dammit i’m out! i’m spraying it in my mouth and…NOTHING. JESUS MARY JOSEPH WHY DIDN’T I BUY MORE OF THIS WHERE THE HELL IS MY XANAX.

and then, out the window, maybe a few hundred feet from the plane:

LIGHTNING.

HOLY G-D GET ME OFF THIS PLANE I AM GOING TO DIE.

at this point, i think the grumpy-ish sales lady begins hearing my deep breathing exercises and so she starts to make conversation with me. this helps a little. i thank her and start to calm down.

they make an announcement that we can turn on our electronic devices so i bust out my new iphone and my brand-new, never-before-used earphones.

i decide i’m more in the mood for dance music, so i choose “now or never.” (don’t ask me why, sometimes pounding dance music calms me down.)

i put in my earphones and crank up the tunes except for…i can barely hear it.

man these damn jet engines are loud, i think as i turn it up. and up. and up. til it won’t go up any louder. DAMMIT I WANT TO HEAR THIS SONG WHAT THE HELL.

a guy turns around in the row in front of me and gives me a dirty look. i glare back at him as if to say WHAT MOTHERF*CKER?! YOU NEVER HEARD A JEWISH GIRL FROM JERSEY DO DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES ON A PLANE BEFORE? I JUST SAW LIGHTENING I’M ABOUT TO FLIP MY SH*T DON’T TEMPT ME I LIVE IN BALTIMORE NOW AND I WILL CUT YOU AND PULL OUT YOUR WEAVE.

never mind that he wasn’t wearing a weave. but if he was i would have pulled it out to set an example for the plane.

i feel a tap on my shoulder. it’s the grumpy-ish saleslady.

she leans towards me.

“we can hear that,” she says, smiling.

i look around the plane. everyone’s looking at me. this one lady across the aisle, she’s looking at me, smiling as if to say, sweetie, it’s ok. we all know you’re nervous. you obviously don’t know how to use your iphone yet. 

my face gets hot. ohmygosh. i didn’t have my earphones plugged completely in my iphone. MY PHONE WAS BLASTING DANCE MUSIC AT FULL CAPACITY.

it was really loud. i can’t emphasize this enough.

i quickly hit pause, take out my earphones and explain to the saleslady that i got an iphone like a week ago and i was still figuring out how to use it. there are still a lot of people looking at me. i suddenly feel bad about thinking how i was going to cut that guy and pull out his non-existent weave.

i thank her for alerting me, push the earphones in and start listening to “waiting for a star to fall,” wishing i could disappear.  i’m suddenly extremely grateful i hadn’t been blasting “i had the time of my life.” i mean, can you imagine??

not even five minutes later, they announce we’re starting our descent into pittsburgh and to please turn off our electronic devices.

the grumpy-ish saleslady has her eyes closed with her head back and she’s still laughing. i kind of want to pull out her weave but her hair looks real.

we land in pittsburgh. my half-hour ride is over. i’m chilly with sweat. i vow to myself: never ever again without xanax. never. again. without. xanax.

what i did this summer (part 1)

well hello, readers. it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

last time we spoke, holly  had just left for a sunday-night-thru-thursday night summer taking care of her gram in western pee-ay. and i was here, at home, making grilled cheese and doing copywriting. which is what i do for a living. copywriting, not grilled cheese. (honestly, making-then-eating grilled cheese for a living doesn’t sound half bad though “my figure” would suffer.)

well, folks, i have news for you. while i mostly worked and missed holly–sleeping with my gemstone mace out of its gemstone case (gasp!) right next to the bed–i did do a few new things this summer.

here’s a sampling of some highlights.

i…

1. cooked a fish.

ok, actually, i cooked half a fish.

this was actually not meant to happen. holly was supposed to cook it, as i, as a rule, don’t cook anything that looks too much like its original source. not very “farm-to-table” PC of me but whatever. you want to picture your food with its family, that’s your business, not mine.

anyway, we bought two rainbow trout fillets a day before holly left one week. but we never cooked them. suddenly i was by myself in the house with two fish fillets in the fridge. i was like, even though i’m really grossed out by the idea of it, i’m going to have to cook this fish bc i’m not going to let it die in vain. plus it was five bucks. and i am nothing if not thrifty.

so i called holly, she was in the car driving back to pee-ay, and i was like, babe. what do i do with this fish? is there a way i can cook it without actually looking at it?

and she was like, babe. you can do this.

so she coached me on how to pan fry the fish. i had my “operators are standing by to take your call” home phone headset on. and the phone was clipped to my jeggings. oh i was a sight to behold, let me tell you.

i tried convincing myself that it wasn’t actually a fish, but there was no denying its fish shape, fish skin, fish flesh, etc. i placed it on the skillet and it sizzled and of course i overcooked it bc i’m scared of food-borne bacteria. then i forced myself to eat it, telling myself this is good fish! you cooked it yourself! good job! see? you don’t need holly here all the time! you can totally do this type of stuff on your own! 

i told the voice in my head to shut the hell up, put my fork down and decided the other half of the trout would have to die in vain bc there was just no way i was going to eat the other half. i almost texted our friend and neighbor dilini to see if she wanted the other half. but who drops off half a raw fish at a friend’s house? i mean, really. plus i wasn’t about to get mugged for the sake of a fish. so it was almost like the fish cosmically gave up (half of) its life to save mine. or something. anyway, next!

2. shot a gun.
ok, it was three guns: two rifles and one handgun. (crap! did i really just write that?) this was in western pee-ay. holly’s twin sister’s in-laws have guns. they also have a lot of property. holly wants me to learn how to shoot a gun, as we live in one of the most dangerous cities in america and..yeah, fill in the blanks. i did not want to do it. however, she wore me down and i knew she was right.

so i went to the local rite-aid, bought ear plugs, then to my sister-in-law’s in-law’s. i promptly froze up and started crying (and shaking) saying babe, i don’t want to do it! they’re loud and i’m scared! i took a deep breath (ok, about 20 deep breaths) and, with holly’s sister’s father-in-law by my side, i pretended like the…tree stump across the way was an intruder and i said in my mind f*ck you motherf*cker! you’re in my house and i’m gonna kill you before you kill me! then i pulled the trigger. then i did it two more times with different guns. then i had enough.

(somehow i feel like my favorite black jeggings from new york and co. with rhinestone flip-flops wasn’t the most sensible choice for this outing but what can you do. you can take the girl outta jersey, but you can’t take the jersey outta the girl…)

then holly convinced me to let her seven-year-old nephew take me on a ride through a wooded trail (oh! it was actually the same wooden trail i got stuck on a couple years ago! the one where i almost gotten eaten by a brown bear? you can read that here, it’s a doozy) on this elaborate four-wheeler. i was like WHAT. and she was like, “he’s a good driver!” then i figured, what in the hell, i just shot three guns, i cooked half a fish last month, i can do this.

so i put my arm around little landon (that’s his name) and said, “please don’t go too fast, ok, honey?” and to his credit, he was indeed a very good driver and he did not go too fast. then he and his four-year-old brother desperately wanted me to jump on a giant trampoline with them. and i did it for like two minutes and then the old jewish lady in me said OY ENOUGH WITH THE BOUNCING YOU’RE IRRITATING MY HIATAL HERNIA. (do you know i actually have one of those? it’s like, the jewish hernia.)

guns. four-wheelers. an excessively large trampoline. it was like a country song. except for it was my actual life and no beer and/or dogs were involved. taylor swift was there, however. no she wasn’t. yes! she was! (no she wasn’t.)

3. took a plane to pittsburgh without xanax
this was a mistake. to be continued.

4. talked to siri
she doesn’t flirt back and i think she’s anti-semitic. to be continued.

5. got a haircut, learned how to use a barrette
YES REALLY. to be continued.

6. gave a quote about the jewish new year to the baltimore sun
HOLLA!

7. bought high-tops i’ve wanted since i was, like, four (yes, that means styles from 1983 are back)
then wore those high-tops when i…

8. SAW MADONNA!
to be continued.

9. got a bad cold, gave it to holly
sorry, babe!

10. met jennifer weiner again
my mom “secretly” snacked during her talk and then accidentally called her friend ruth on her new iphone. which she got for $49 at best buy. as she told everyone there.
to be continued.

YES REALLY YES. all TBC (to be continued). come back to find out how i managed a half-hour flight without xanax. it wasn’t pretty. i wish i was kidding.

if you say you don’t have a crush on kate middleton you’re lying

claire danes, who played angela in the short-lived mid-90s drama "my so-called life"

i can’t believe i was jessica’s crush in the mid-90s. it’s so…so…unfair i didn’t know her then. i’m going to have to tell ricki the next time i see him in the girls’ room.

first things first: yes, i kind of abandoned you. kind of like when i went to under armour except this time i didn’t dropkick any ladies’ rooms bathroom stall doors and/or split my pants down the middle, then have to take a boat home, then have to go out for pizza with holly with my underwear showing. (gosh that was kind of funny now that i think about it.)

no actually i just felt severely unfunny the past couple months. so instead of turning this blog into an episode of my so-called life (omg loved that show; loved angela (loved her too much, probably), loved jordan, loved ricki & his eyeliner in the girls’ room, even loved rayannei decided to step back and “let the storm pass.”

so yeah, the storm passed. and one day i’ll write about it in a sensibly priced e-book. until then, i’m back to help you procrastinate to the best of your abilities. so here we go!

first: a number of revelations i’ve had over the past few weeks. let’s start with kate middleton.

1. kate middleton:  yes, if you say you don’t have a crush on kate middleton, you’re absolutely 100% lying. or else you’re of a grandmotherly-type age–or you’re actually a grandmother–in which case it feels quite wrong to crush on a real-life 30-year-old princess. but i’m not a grandmother yet so i’m just going to say that i suddenly noticed it’s probably almost impossible not to have a crush on her.

she’s just so…so absolutely heartbreakingly lovely. not only is she beautiful, she’s graceful and loves children–and they love her back! she’s the type of girl that, if she were to, say, walk into a forest–which i imagine she would once in a while, as she seems like the outdoorsy type–animals would gather around her feet. like bunnies and deer and baby animals in particular. puppies, especially. i know puppies don’t live in forests, but they would sense her presence and run into the forest to find her.

anyway, i’m not going to deny my feelings anymore. instead i’m embracing and sharing them and suggest you do the same.

2. facebook: i took a two-week hiatus from facebook and i kind of loved it. i felt so…so 90s. it kind of made me want to listen to some gin blossoms and…pick up my home phone and call someone. (of course i didn’t. but i could have. except for i’d text them first to tell them i was calling.) it was like: i wasn’t bombarded with 10,000 pieces of information every five seconds and i actually started liking people again. but then i got back on and got disgusted and started hating people again. it’s really a catch-22, facebook. i’d say more about this, but i have to go check my notifications. kthanks, brb.

3. growing out my bangs: ok, i’m back. speaking of the 90s, i’m growing out my bangs. yes, growing out my bangs. i should note i’ve had bangs since 2003 so this is major for me.

in hindsight, i’m noticing that bangs kind of held me back. like, creatively. now that i’m nearly sans bangs (that’s fraaanch. “sans” means “without” and no, i don’t remember anything else from five years of french, so help me, what a waste of time that was–i should have taken spanish so i could communicate with all the hispanic guys that probably say such nice things to me in their native tongue) anyway, without the baggage of bangs, so to speak, i’m able to do all sorts of fun things with my hair now: flipping it this way and that, using hairspray and clips and all sorts of things.

note: i haven’t used hairspray since the early 90s! i feel like buying some guess jeans, pegging them, splashing on some jean nate (pronounced GEEN-naTAY; also fraaanch) and doing the running man to some c+c music factory. i probably won’t. but i might. then i’ll go to friendly’s and get a fribble. WHAT. get outta here. i totally would but it’s 2012 and most of the friendly’s have closed down. i also don’t have to peg my jeans anymore. that’s what jeggings are for! 

4. the blue angels: the the blue angels came to baltimore and omg. we watched them practice and perform from our roofdeck and holy crap wow. seeing and hearing them so up close and personal from the comfort of home was like this big free gift wrapped in a bow dropped on our house–like a big ol loudass exciting present for persevering in this hot mess of a city. who knew a neurotic jew like me was an airshow fan! instead of complaining oy it’s so loud! oy they’re so close! OY ARE THEY GOING TO CRASH INTO OUR HOUSE CALL THE SISTERHOOD WE HAVE TO PUT THIS IN THE NEWSLETTA!  i was like HELL’S YEAH DOGGIE BRING IT ON!

5. middlesex: i finally read middlesex by jeffrey eugenides and woah. dude, that is a good book. i seriously felt myself getting smarter while i was reading it. also who knew a, ahem, love scene between a 14-year-old hermaphrodite and 14-year-old a red-headed girl could be so…special? oh shuddup. i’m not a sicko, just read the damn book, you’ll see what i mean. (p.s. I WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RED-HEADED GIRL, DAMMIT, JEFFREY!)

6. new jersey housewives: i know she’s kind of a bee-otch, but jersey housewives wouldn’t even have a storyline if it weren’t for teresa. so even if you don’t like her, i suggest you just deal with it or else you’re not gonna have a show to watch. also: i love rosie. and, i hate myself for saying it, but joe gorga‘s kind of a hunk. and if you don’t watch the show don’t worry about it, you’re probably better off without it, let’s go to the next revelation.

7. more with the hair: i need a keratin treatment. i tried to deny it. i said i wasn’t interested but i am. i’m going to get carpal tunnel in my right arm from straightening my hair in this damn humidity. put that in your sisterhood newsletter. no wait. don’t. my mom probably gets that newsletter.

til next time!
xxo!
jessica, i.e. the one in synagogue with the mouthpiece and all the hard candies

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner

if there’s one thing you need to know about me–besides my penchant for frosty lipstick, eternal love for madonna and the fact that i’ve married holly like 100 times–it’s that i’m a jennifer weiner superfan.

she’s pretty much my literary idol. so when i saw she was coming to philly’s head house books, i made it my personal business to rearrange my schedule so i could be there. two hours early. with my mom. and snacks in my bag in case i got hungry.

i introduced myself to the the bookstore worker, who proved to be both patient and kind as she listened to me blubber about how excited i was to meet my fave author.

“there’s only two people i want to meet in this world,” i breathlessly told her as she stood trapped behind the counter. “jennifer weiner and madonna. and i’m not sure if i even want to meet madonna because there’s a good chance she might be kind of mean.”

once that came out of my mouth there was no taking it back. i was that person. i was the overly excited fan waiting around to meet the star. but i didn’t even care.

“oh yeah! and this is my mom!”

yup. i really was that person. and i brought my mom! all i was missing was a star wars t-shirt and a juice box.

in my former life as a journalist, i interviewed rock stars, television personalities, politicians, federal officials, heads of state (ok i totally made that last one up but i know people that’ve interviewed heads of state–does that count??) and i’ve never, ever been as nervous to meet/talk to anyone ever in my life.

jen (despite my distaste for using nicknames when you don’t really know someone, i’m going to call her “jen” because everyone kept referring to her as that) and fellow fab author liz moore did a great job speaking to the audience, which had grown to fill the entire store.

as soon they were done, i made a beeline for jen.

“hi! i’m jessica,” i said, putting out my hand for her to shake.

“hi, jessica!” she said, smiling as she shook my hand. “it’s nice to meet you.”

don’t faint don’t faint don’t faint. do. not.  faint. i told myself.

a lightening speed battle between the dorky side of my brain (you know, the side with the juice box and star wars t-shirt) and the sensible side commenced.

this is your big chance! the sensible side shouted. this is what you daydream about! you’re meeting your literary idol! say something meaningful and witty about your writing background. don’t say “i’m a writer, too!” because hello, everyone tells their favorite author they’re “a writer, too.” make yourself stand out from the crowd!

say something cool! the dorky side shouted back. TELL HER YOU LOVE HER! wait! don’t tell her you love her because that would be weird because you don’t actually know her. maybe you should ask her out for coffee? no wait, don’t do that. wait…no, you definitely should. yeah, see if she wants to get coffee! there’s a great place just down the street!

no! absolutely do not ask her out for coffee! the sensible side advised. say something clever. be friendly but not overly friendly. pretend like you’re about to interview her. act cool, you’re a professional! 

so what did i wind up saying?

“ohmygoshican’tbelievei’mactuallymeetingyou. i think…i think i might faint. i’m a writer, too!”

niiiice.

dorky side: 1. sensible side: 0.

then i started to sweat and my mouth went dry, at which point the sensible side of my brain threw its hands up and left me alone with my dorky side, which took a noisy sip from its cranberry juice box, delighted to take over completely.

unfazed, she laughed, obviously used to weirdo superfans like me, and said no, don’t faint, it’s ok.

i felt the heat of the crowd behind me. i had to act fast and turn this thing around.

i told her i came in from baltimore to see her, that i was a former journalist, had a blog and brought my old paperback copy of “good in bed” for her to sign. then she asked me what kind of blog i had.

“it’s a humor blog,” i said, sounding completely devoid of humor.

this was a trainwreck. i watched as she signed my book. the clock was ticking. my time with one of the people i most wanted to meet in this world was quickly coming to an end and i had to make an impression other than Potentially Psycho I’m-A-Writer-Too! SuperFan. and, without warning, who comes to my rescue?

my mom.

suddenly she was over my shoulder–hell, i didn’t even realize she was behind me anymore!–and sang my praises as only a jewish mother from new jersey can.

“there’s something my daughter neglected to tell you,” my mom said in all her proud jewish mother glory. “she was in the It Gets Better book!”

YES MOM YES! i totally forgot about that! yes i was published in an actual book! that made me sound way less crazy!

jen looked up and said she loved the it gets better project, and that her and her siblings were going to be making a video. then she asked for my card.

jennifer weiner asked for my business card. 

i died a thousands small deaths. right there. i really did. i took a card out of my bag and put it on the table, at which point she tucked it away and said she’d check out my blog. 

the dorky side of my brain and my sensible side did one of those running/jumping shoulder-bump things that guys do. then the dorky side did the running man and the sensible side shook its head and walked away.

leave it to a mom to be your best publicist. she totally saved the day. not to mention a) happily agreeing to arrive at the bookstore ridiculously early b) tirelessly keeping me company while c) simultaneously not judging me for being overly excited.

since that day, almost three weeks ago, i’ve felt that special kind of peace that only comes with checking a life goal off your list. now all i have to do is go to a madonna concert (ACTUALLY HAPPENING THIS SEPT *goosebumps!*), have a baby and publish a book. oh and also go to england and ireland. and an organic spa with holly in arizona or new mexico (do those even exist?). and take a road trip with holly to visit my great uncle ben in florida. not necessarily in that order, but those are the biggies.

anyway, i may have acted like a complete dork, but at least i got out there, stepped up to the plate and met my number one superstar. so jen, if you’re reading this, thank you for your kindness–and for not backing away from me.

yours truly,
jessica leshnoff, superfan
baltimore, md

part four: connecticut kind of sucks, and not just b/c it’s almost impossible to spell

part 4 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

holly determined the best place for us to get married in connecticut was hartford. i just asked her why and she said she doesn’t really remember, which seems appropriate for a city that’s fairly forgettable in a state that’s not only nearly impossible to spell but can’t decide if it’s part of the tri-state area or new england.

yeah i’m bitter about connecticut. i’ll tell you why in a minute.

since holly’s not interested in giving me input here, i recall she zeroed in on hartford b/c of its central location and the fact that it was on interstate 91, a great but boring road that crossed thru all of our wedding blitz states.

so we get on the road just minutes after our first wedding of the day, our mouths and hands full of sandwiches and chips we bought near the brooklyn municipal building. i had both of our cellphone GPS systems going so two different julies were telling us where to go.

i call any sort of “GPS lady” julie after julie the automated amtrak lady.

(back when i used to call amtrak in the late 90s/early 00s, an automated lady used to come on and say “hi! i’m julie!” it was always kind of fun to scream “AGENT!!! I WANT TO TALK TO AN AGENT!!!!!” right off the bat. unfailingly chipper, she’d say, “i…think i heard you say you’d like to talk to an agent. is that correct?” and then i’d yell back, “YES! AN AGENT! I’D LIKE TO TALK TO AN AGENT, JULIE!”)

(this is what i did for fun before texting & facebook.)

(holy crap now i feel kind of bad bc i just googled “amtrak julie” and found this article. there’s actually a lady named julie that does the amtrak julie voice and she seems really nice! damn. now i kind of feel like a jerk.)

anyway, after about 90 minutes on interstate 91 with our two talking julies, we saw a drab skyline appear.

“babe!” i shouted. “that must be hartford! it looks…it looks…so…boring! i can’t wait to get married there!”

we roll into hartford and quickly find the city’s municipal building. as soon as we park, sketchy panhandlers came up to us asking for money. this confused me.

isn’t everyone in connecticut supposed to be rich? i asked holly, who shrugged, dodged the panhandlers, got a parking ticket thingy to put on our dashboard and told me to hurry up and finish putting on your lipstick already, we still need to get to vermont blah blah blah i blocked the rest out.

so we run past some kind of hartford PR event (oh i am SO glad i don’t do that for a living anymore!) into a room with a bunch of cashiers and tell the lady behind the glass we want to get married. she points at paperwork and we get to it.

we need a justice of the peace, so the lady gives us a few cards for local justices of the peace. yes, justices of the peace have business cards. it felt weird to me, too. 

as she starts typing everything up, we start calling the justices of the peace (ok, i’m just gonna stop and clear the air: “justices of the peace” sounds weird. it’s been the elephant in the room since three sentences ago) leaving voicemails like, hi, we’re holly & jessica and we need a justice of the peace in like five minutes. can you make it?

i don’t know where the hell all the justices of the peace were. it’s not like there’s that much going on in hartford.

once again, we start to panic. no actually i start to panic. holly doesn’t panic much, unless, of course, i push her to the brink of panic with my new jersey-induced neuroses, which i’ve never done so shut up. i’m jewish, it’s in my genes, i can’t even help it.

she tells me she’ll be right back and walks out of the room with all the cashier windows (what does one call a room like that? i have no idea). i refresh my facebook newsfeed every two seconds until she comes back five minutes later.

“i found a justice of the peace, babe. she’s meeting us outside in five minutes.”

you see why i keep marrying holly? INGENUITY. turns out there was a justice of the peace somewhere else in the building and she actually found her. leave it to holly to find a justice of the peace when you really need one.

just when everything seemed to be going so smoothly, we hit a snag. (cue the record scratching and the silverware clinking)

the cashier lady looks down at the paper and then back at us.

you’re already married to each other? she asks.

yes, we say. in washington, dc, and we got married again this morning in new york. 

not surprisingly, she goes to get her supervisor. who, of course, is unnecessarily grumpy.

grumpy supervisor: so you’re renewing your vows?

us: no, we’re getting married to each other. again.

grumpy supervisor: right, you’re renewing your vows.

us: no. we’re getting married.

grumpy supervisor: but you’re already married to each other. 

us: right. but we’re doing it again.

grumpy supervisor: why?

us: because we’re celebrating our anniversary by marrying each other in three states in one day.

grumpy supervisor: (confused look)

us: until same-sex marriage is federally recognized, we’re going to keep marrying each other in every state we possibly can.

grumpy supervisor: (still looking confused) well you can’t do that here. because you’re already married somewhere else. 

holly: but someone in this office told me last week we could.

grumpy supervisor: well that person didn’t talk to me. 

we went back and forth a little bit more until this we decided this woman wasn’t interested in taking our money and giving us a piece of paper.

that’s when i decided i didn’t like connecticut.

i mean, i never really had feelings about connecticut before, other than it seemed like a boring state that didn’t have much to offer other than…hell i don’t even know. it was kind of like skim milk: never really impressed me, would rather avoid it if i could.

fuming mad, we left the building. it was starting to rain and the justice of the peace was waiting outside for us, smoking a cigarette with an effeminate male colleague. (writing that just made me laugh. i don’t even know why.)

“you gals ready?” she said, raspy-voiced and smiling. she reminded me of ladies in our neighborhood.

we sighed and told her what happened. she furrowed her brow, blew some smoke and said that was ridiculous and that the city ought to just take our money.

she put out her cigarette and told us that by the powers vested in her by the state of connecticut, she pronounced us married.

so we were half-married in connecticut. it was better than nothing.

we said thank you and ran back to the car.

“happy anniversary!” they shouted, blowing smoke out into the rain. “good luck!”

(so many complete strangers wished us well that day. it was really touching.)

i mentally gave the entire state the middle finger as we drove away but then felt bad since connecticut actually passed same-sex marriage, which is more than i can say for our home state of maryland right now. plus i really liked the smoking justice of the peace (and her effeminate male colleague!) and she was in connecticut. so instead i gave it a ross & monica finger, which seemed not as bad, and told holly to step on it. it was already 2pm and we had to get to the brattleboro, vermont courthouse before 5pm.

ok i just lied. i’d never tell holly to “step on it.” (who even says that??)  i think i actually told her not to go too fast b/c i didn’t want us to get a speeding ticket. then she pretended not to hear me and went 80mph anyway.

ready to get your maple syrup on and get hitched in vermont? i asked.

hell’s yeah i am, holly said.

come hell or high water, we were going to have at least two weddings in one day. it was on like donkey kong, folks. we were doing this.

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.

this is me, at the hospital, on drugs

one week ago today, i made a mix for my ipod designed specifically to calm me down before outpatient surgery at john hopkins. the most logical thing to name it was, of course, “surgery mix,” (or “don’t bolt out the door mix,” “don’t barf mix,” “don’t look at the IV needle mix,” or, my personal favorite, “don’t think about the fact that strangers are putting you to sleep in order to probe your ladyparts and remove things from you mix”) but just the thought of “surgery mix” made me want to faint so i named it something  mysterious and vague only i could recognize: “new mix.”

“new mix” was a choice selection of what some in the “lite hits” radio industry might call the best of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. artist & song highlights included but were not limited to:

barry manilow (“daybreak” “it’s a miracle”)
billy joel (“say goodbye to hollywood” “new york state of mind”)
madonna (“true blue”)
fleetwood mac (“gypsy,” the appropriately titled “hold me” & more)
john mayer (“half of my heart”)
michael jackson (“human nature” “pretty young thing”)
roxette (“(i could never) give you up”)
dave matthews, steve miller band, prince, the b-52s, the list goes on & kind of ruins my street cred [b/c unbeknownst to most, i’m actually huge in the baltimore hip-hop/rap scene, so, you know, i need to keep my street cred and not tell you that go west’s “king of wishful thinking” was on there, too. (c’mon, i’m sure there are at least a few rappers that dig the pretty woman soundtrack)]

i’m telling you about my mix to drive home the point that i was a sweating, shivering, shaking nervous wreck last tuesday that did not want surgery and needed a mix so i wouldn’t bolt out the building in my gown and tan hospital socks (the kind with the rubber tread on them) and run home. (yes, technically i could run home from the hopkins campus, and, yes, holly and i once saw a guy in a hospital gown on baltimore street tho he asked us for a prescription for pain meds so i don’t think he was actually coming from the hospital.)

i was there to have a polyp removed from my uterus. nothing too serious, but serious enough that they had to put me under. despite the fact that they were going to put a camera and a vacuum and who knows what else inside me, it wasn’t the procedure per se that i was nervous about. it wasn’t even the forms i had to sign at a pre-op appt signing off on the fact that, you know, i could die while unconscious. it was the mere notion that they were putting me under with drugs.

i was confident that i’d be safe and come out, you know, alive. it just freaks me the hell out to be put to sleep. i suppose this is because  i’m a neurotic, jersey-born, overthinking jew that has to know exactly what’s going on all the time and can’t let go even for one minute. (G-d bless holly. i am living proof that even the most neurotic among us can find a mate and be happily married.)

i’ve been lucky enough to have surgery only one other time in my life. it was sinus surgery (oh man, won’t even go there) and i was so nervous about it that i actually gave myself a fever beforehand. once again, it wasn’t the fact that they were going up my nostrils with drills and whatnot. no. it was b/c i was scared shitless they were knocking my ass out.

as i lay there feverish and shaking (with holly and my parents looking on like three deer in headlights), the anesthesiologist noticed my fear (i think my fear that morning was visible from outer space), smiled and said he was going to give me “a morning cocktail.” i had no idea what he was talking about, but it sounded oddly comforting. (probably b/c i had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.)

before i knew it, he shot up my IV with who know what and, folks, lemme tell you, after an initial bout of dizziness (and my “initial bout” i mean i bolted upright in my wheely hospital bed shouting at holly, “HONEY I’M SO DIZZY”), i was FLYING. i don’t remember much but i do remember waving with my entire right arm–like i was at an 80s stadium concert (or doing the nkotb “hangin tough” dance)–back and forth, back and forth, shouting “BYYYEEEE! LOVE YOU GUYS!” as they wheeled me out the door.

while zooming (in my mind i was indeed “zooming”) down the hospital hallway, i had myself completely convinced that i was on “ER” and i was the star of the show. i felt so cool, you have no idea. (holly tells me she and my parents heard me laughing down the entire hallway.)

 i vaguely recall the OR team asking me if i could get on some kind of metal operating table (my body felt soooo heavy), then i saw an MRI on the wall and thought heeeeey, coooooool, that’s my skull. i woke up hours later holding this really pretty nurse’s hand (that’s how you know you’re really, truly gay–you have the hots for some random nurse while you’re coming out of anesthesia) with my nose and sinuses packed full of cotton.

yes, everything worked out just fine. but that was september 2004. i’ve developed a lot more neuroses since then, not to mention am much more aware of my mortality, and thus was much more nervous about being put under. and having an IV put in. and basically being at the hospital altogether.

things started to suck when i found out holly couldn’t come back and be with me while they put in my IV. yes, i am that much of a baby. then these two resident doctor-in-training dudes come by to introduce themselves and tell me that they’d be “observing” my surgery. they were nice enough, but what i really wanted to do with kick them in the teeth with my tan rubber-soled socks and tell them i didn’t want them there staring at my ladyparts while i was unconscious. before i had a chance to let my true colors shine, the nurse came by to give me an IV, at which point i plugged in my earphones, pumped up my “new mix” and pretended to be on a beach while the nurse punctured my vein (thump–oops sorry i actually just fainted while i wrote that).

shortly thereafter, holly and my mom came back to keep me company, which i was grateful for, but unfortunately didn’t help that much b/c i was pretty much inconsolable by that point. then another resident came by to tell me she was coming to watch the surgery, too. GREAT! HOW BOUT YOU INVITE YOUR MOM AND GRANDMA ALSO! INVITE THE WHOLE FAMILY. WHAT THE HELL DO I CARE, I’M GOING TO BE UNCONSCIOUS! then another resident came by, this time an anesthesiologist in training, introduced herself (tiffany–i remember her ID card) and, since she would be one of the ppl knocking my ass out, i proceeded to babble on and on to her about how nervous i was about being put under until i proved that i was certifiably nuts. or at least needed anti-anxiety medication.

she smiled and inquired if i wanted something to help calm me down before surgery. a normal person would say, “you know what, tiffany? that sounds like a mighty fine idea. yes, please. thank you for asking, that would be lovely!”

instead i said something about being anxious about taking anti-anxiety medication and maybe i shouldn’t take it but then again maybe i should. then the lead anesthesiologist and the OR nurse came by to introduce themselves (total count in the OR, including the doctor doing the surgery, was up to seven at this point) at which point i announced i had to pee.

a nurse helped me up and gave me instructions on how to hang up the IV bag on the back of the door. while i birdnested the toilet (hello, it’s a hospital but i’m still not sitting directly on the toiletseat) while simultaneously trying to both talk myself out of a panic attack and not see the blood collecting in the IV tube (what the?!), a young doctor-looking guy wearing a scrub-thing on his head and mask opened the door.

“oops! sorry!”

“no problem,” i told him.

hell, it wasn’t a problem. my modesty had gone to hell in a handbasket anyway, what with the entire staff of johns hopkins about to see the inside of my uterus and who knows what else while i was “sleeping.”

so i get back to my little pre-op area and tiffany wants to know what i decided about the anti-anxiety meds. she tells me she’ll just give me just half a dose.

“honey, it’s ok. you should get it. it’ll help,” holly said, holding my hand.

“no, it’ll just make me dizzy,” i said, more panic setting in.

before i knew it, i had agreed (tiffany was very convincing–she told me it would feel like i drank a cocktail) and she was dosing me up. it didn’t hit me til i got in the operating room.

“wooah, it’s BRIGHT in here,” i said covering my eyes as tiffany wheeled me in. “WOW I’M REALLY DIZZY.”

and i was–really really really dizzy. but instead of making me really really nervous, it seemed really really funny. everything just seemed so funny.

“it feels like i drank a wholelottacocktails,” i slurred.

“it’s supposed to feel like that,” she told me.

i remember looking at the big operating table under the bright lights, thinking, gee, the looks of this insanely large operating table under all these bright lights with alllll of these doctors and residents and nurses around should be making me nervous but instead it seems funny! this is all so funny!

then i saw the gynecologist that was doing the surgery. she had her hair back in a net-scrub-thingy and i remember thinking oh my gosh i know you! you’re the doctor! i recognize you even with your hair back!!!!! this, of course, seemed even funnier. i also felt very, very proud of the fact that i recognized her. i was high as a kite.

i got up on the table somehow and they told me to put my head in this head-holder thing, which, of course, seemed really funny. they asked me to “scoot down a little” (when you’re a woman and you regularly go to the gynecologist, they’re always friggin telling you to “scoot down a little) and i think i was trash talking the scheduler who arranged the surgery for me? (i think i slurred something along the lines of that mary, shhhhhhe’s reaaallly nice but she has noooo idea whaaaaat the hellllll she’s doing. (drugs = truth serum) and i think i remember the doctor laughing and saying she’d be sure to tell her that.)

someone told me they were going to cover me up with warm blankets. oooooh, those are so warm, i thought. they felt like the best friggin things in the world. i think i remember tiffany hovering above me saying…something. except i couldn’t hear her. your lips are moving but you’re not making any sound, i wanted to say.

then the head anesthesiologist told me they were just giving me some oxygen and put this clear plastic mouth/breathing thingy over my mouth or nose or both and told me to take a deep breath. i remember the air coming thru the plastic thing smelling bad. oooh that smells really bad, i garbled. then he held it above my mouth and told me to take some deeeeep breaths. that’s so nice he’s giving me oxygen before my surgery, that’s so nice i remember thinking. then i woke up two hours later in recovery. oxygen my ass.

i was in and out of sleep and so comfortable in recovery. and everything still seemed so amusing. things that would normally bother me (the guy across from me with a bowl over one eye; the guy next to me saying he was nauseous) didn’t. a nurse came by and asked me if i wanted some ginger ale and brought me graham crackers. this delighted me.

mmmmm these are delicious, i thought, still clearly under the influence. mmmmm this ginger ale is so nice and cold

the same nurse came by and asked me on a scale of one to 10, how much pain was i in? i said eight, which, honestly? i don’t know why i said that. i don’t think it was really an eight. then she gave me painkillers and came back some time later asking the same question. i told her three. then she asked me if i wanted some oxy-something or other and i was like, “no, that’s ok.” (thank goodness. i don’t want to ever take anything beginning with “oxy”)

i kept telling her i felt like i was bleeding and when could i see my family. then she put some weird hospital boy-shorts underwear on me and walked me into the next recovery station. another nurse came by and gave me more ginger ale and shortbread cookies (lorna doones!), which, yes, absolutely delighted me. the doctor came by and told holly and my mom–who had arrived by then–about my uterus and how they found two polyps and everything looked good and etc. but i don’t remember that. all i remember thinking is: man these cookies are soooooo good. num num num.

holly told me i looked pretty darn good (drugs) and i felt sooooooo proud i had made it thru the ordeal (again: drugs). when we were leaving she told me to take the remaining packet of cookies with me (we don’t keep fun things like cookies in our house) and when we got home i realized i had taken the empty packet with me. drugs, people. drugs.

i slept a lot when i came home and throughout the next day. as i came to, i told holly about everything. pretty much exactly what i just told you guys.

“maybe you didn’t think all those things,” holly said. “maybe you said them.”

“holy crap. maybe i did.”

i gave tiffany my card before she drugged me up, telling her that i’m not actually this crazy, i’m actually an established writer that’s really not nuts (beware of people that tell you they’re not crazy; they usually are. also beware of those that claim to be “spiritual” as they’re usually satan’s children) and that i’d be blogging about this. she pledged to check back and comment. so we’ll just have to wait and see.

i would like to thank the staff of the johns hopkins outpatient surgery center for doing such a great job. if i ever have to go under again, you guys are the crew i’d choose. and if i said something offensive to you while i was high on drugs, i apologize. i’m sure i didn’t actually mean it and you can blame it on tiffany for overmedicated me.