Friday, May 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

At which point absolutely nothing happened.

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

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

But it didn’t fix the problem.

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is when we found the mouse poop.

Ah, the joys of owning a condo.

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

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

Which, in the end, was worth the hassle.

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

Game on.

Friday, May 24, 2013

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

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

Brace yourselves.

I am not an outdoors person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then realized I hadn’t brought my power cord.

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

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

Houston, we have a big freaking problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that cabin comes with an unkillable shower spider.

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

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

Friday, May 3, 2013

The new Gatsby movie is my favorite movie of all time! And I haven't even seen it yet

The big day is finally almost here!

You know, the one that every little girl spends her whole life dreaming about and planning.

No, the Boyfriend didn’t propose (much to my mother and his aunt’s dismay—both are starting to talk about retiring and I’m terrified that the combination of two out-of-work yentas will result in my being forced into a giant white puffy dress and hustled down the aisle. And that’s the BEST case scenario, in which there isn’t a Rosemary’s Baby-style, drugged up impregnation attempt to force me to bear them some grandchildren/great nieces and nephews before I’m ready).

I’m talking, of course, about the release of the new Great Gatsby movie!

Yes, I’m the girl who spends hours fantasizing about how amazing that will be. Who needs a wedding when you have Leo in an F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece?

 (Okay, okay, yes my new dream wedding is no longer Rabbi Elvis in Vegas.  Thank you, BuzzFeed. )

Yes, I’m an English nerd. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is already my favorite movie and it isn’t even out yet.


Oh, if you have to ask that, you have no idea what you’re missing!

First of all, The Great Gatsby is easily one of the greatest novels ever written. It’s not my ALL-TIME favorite (nothing will ever quite displace Gone With the Wind. It was my first adult novel, my first love, and will always hold that special place in my heart. And yes, it was the theme of my bat mitzvah. English nerds for life, yo!), but it’s easily number two.

It’s just one of those perfect books. Perfect prose. A perfectly tragic story. Perfectly flawed characters. And the most perfect part of all is how well it captures the modern mentality of life today, nearly ninety years after it was written. I would argue that of all the English canon, it is the one that best transcends the gap between when it was written and life today.

 Yes, Romeo and Juliet captures the teenage angst of first love well (and the way too dramatic suicidal tendencies of bratty teenagers who are denied everything their little hearts desire), and Pride and Prejudice aptly portrays the desperation of my mother—I mean A mother—to marry off her aging daughters. (Don’t hurt me mommy, I love you!) But nothing, and I mean nothing, captures the desperate ennui of finding yourself a third of the way through your life with nothing to show for it but a hollow marriage and a desire to recapture the youth that seems to have vanished overnight the way that Gatsby does.

Not to call anybody out, but I look at some of my friends and see the marriage between Tom and Daisy. I see the Jordan Bakers, floating through life without bothering to worry about anyone else. I see the Myrtle Wilsons, thinking that an unavailable man can rescue them, not able to see that he wants nothing more than the physical. And I see the Gatsbys, wanting nothing more than to grasp that green light, only to find that it has no substance to it. And I’ve been those characters at different stages of my life as well. I may not live on Long Island or have money to burn (damn teacher’s salary!), and it may not be prohibition, but I still find myself, each time I reread Gatsby, nodding to myself and thinking, “That’s my life. Right there. That line.” And any novel that can accomplish that NEARLY A CENTURY after its publication amazes me.

But I’m not here to talk about the book.

I’m here to talk about how freaking unbelievably awesome this movie that I haven’t seen yet is.


Because oh my God, is it going to be great!

First of all, we’ve got Baz Luhrmann. Okay, as a teenager, I thought that his version of Romeo and Juliet was the second coming (first coming? I’m Jewish after all…). There was nothing better until Leo boarded the Titanic. But that same insanely driven over-the-top energy that he poured into Romeo and Juliet and later Moulin Rouge is EXACTLY what the story of Gatsby needs. Gatsby isn’t the cool, filmed-through-gauze world of Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (god how I hate that movie!). No! It’s the lush, colorful flapper days of the Roaring '20s, and Baz Luhrmann is the filmmaker best prepared to present that story.

Then, of course, there’s Leo. I won’t go into too much drool-inducing detail about why he’ll be so spectacular in the role (mostly because I still want the Boyfriend to take me to see the movie opening night and he already hates Leo because I expressed my belief that Leo and I would have beautiful babies), so I’ll just show you some stills from the movie instead.

I feel that proved my point adequately. Even in Nick Carraway’s initial description of him, he’s described as there being “something gorgeous about him.” Who better to play that part than Leo?

No one, that’s who!

But now, because I still have a week to kill before the movie comes out, it’s time to plan the premiere.

First of all, I need to dress the part. I wanted to go in full flapper regalia, but the Boyfriend refused to dress in a '20s style suit to match, so I’d look silly. Instead, I’m planning to just wear the flapper style headband with an ostrich feather with my normal clothes. Don’t laugh, I already bought one! But I decided against the cigarette holder (which I already had, from my Holly Golightly Halloween costume. We brunettes need someone OTHER than Dorothy to go as for Halloween you know!) because I don’t smoke and it just looks stupid without a real cigarette in it.

Next, I need to find a really old yellow Rolls Royce to take me to the opening. Yes, I live a block away from the movie theater, but it’s still important to arrive in style!

And finally, it’s set in Prohibition! I need a flask and some hooch!

Just kidding, I’d never drink to watch Gatsby! I want to remember every breathtaking scene. And then I’m going to see it again. And again. Like a boat beating on against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.

God I can’t wait to see this movie!