Motherhood in Black and White

My soul is crushed each and every time I hear of the senseless murder of an innocent person at the hands of law enforcement, but the murder of Stephon Clark has left me heartbroken in a different way. Stephon was the same age as my own son and I cannot wrap my head around the way he died, so close to being home safe with his two little kids. This one hurts in a way that feels personal.

Of course they are all personal because we live in this country together, and I cried for Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Gregory Gunn, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and countless others who were murdered but those who were meant to protect them, but I can relate to the Clark family in ways that bring it into my home. Had it been my son in the same situation at Stephon, I can promise you he wouldn’t have been murdered. This is racism, plain and simple.

My son would have been offered a conversation. A chance to explain who he was and what he was doing. My son wouldn’t have 20 bullets blown into him steps from the safety of his home. It is black and white. Stephon Clark was killed because he was black, and when it comes to black people in America, we shoot first and ask questions later. It is 2018 and being black is America is very dangerous.

My son is a proud Jewish man, but if he was in a situation where anti-Semitic things were happening, he could join in the rhetoric to remain safe and get himself out. He would be able to come home because he can become what he needs to be. That is white privilege. That is a blessing afforded my son. I am able to watch him go out into the world with a level of comfort black mothers don’t have.

Ever since my son was very little I would send him off to school or out with his friends with the words, “Be safe out there and make good choices”. Those have been my parting words to him for as long as I can remember. I don’t have to tell him to keep his mouth shut, put his hands in the air, or get down on the ground without answering back. I haven’t raised my son with a fear of authority.

I worry about him 24/7 because I am his mother, and that is what mothers do, but I do not have the same constant fear that black mothers have. It is exhausting to just think about it. I would never want my kid to go outside. It would simply be too big a risk. The black and white reality is that this is about black and white. I cry with every black mother who fears the death of their beautiful children.

We have many problems in this country that need attention. Tomorrow I will march with the students of Parkland in support of changes to gun laws. I will march knowing that Black Lives Matter. I will march because when we unite our voices we can make change. We have to do better. We cannot think we are the greatest country in the world when this keeps happening. Wake up and start keeping the faith.



Rainy Los Angeles is a Nightmare

It has been raining in Los Angeles and the simple fact is that when rains in LA, the city falls apart. Nobody knows how to drive to begin with, so a small amount of rain causes bad drivers to lose their minds. One would think it was acid falling from the sky and we were all about to die, but alas, it is just water. When it is raining in LA you can immediately tell who is from here, and who came from a place with real weather. Southern Californian natives stick out like a sore thumb. They don’t know how to handle their vehicles in even the lightest sprinkle of water. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

Personally, I could be a NYC cab driver. I grew up in Canada and learned to drive in the rain and snow. I am fearless and able to handle all kinds of weather. Driving is a privilege and if you suck at it, you shouldn’t be given a driver’s license. At the very least there should be restrictions on driving when it is raining. I propose two types of driver’s licenses. One to drive in dry weather, and one for the rain. Everyone takes two tests. Pass one and you can only drive in good weather, pass both, and you also get driving privileges in the rain. Brilliant plan.

I started a new job recently and my commute went from 20 minutes to over an hour. It is a nightmare for a great driver to be stuck on two different freeways and Sunset Boulevard with thousands of people who don’t know how to drive. I do a great deal of praying while I’m driving. Mostly I pray I will not become engulfed with road rage and lay on the horn or flip the bird to a perfect stranger. My son bought me a stuffed Buddha that plays meditation music when you squeeze him. I’ve had it for about 5 months and have replaced the battery twice, which gives you an idea of how often I use him to get some peace.

I often look at the people driving around me and wonder where they’re going. I think about whether they’re driving without prescription contact lenses or glasses. If they bought their driver’s licenses on a black market for people with no depth perception. I wonder how many of the people driving taught their kids how to be bad drivers. Mostly I wonder about how good it would feel to drive to work one day with only good drivers. Even if just for one day I’d love that experience, but it will never happen. Sadly, I fear I may be the only one of my kind. I have yet to meet another good driver in Los Angeles. We really should have a club.

I am at work looking out my window, watching the rain, trying to decide how long it will take me to get home. I figure about two days. We need the rain, and I am grateful we are getting some, but a couple days into the first weather of the season and I am about done. Watching the news of the weather back east, and speaking to my family about all the snow in Canada, watching my local TV weatherman speak of the “storm watch” for Los Angeles is hilarious. By hilarious of course I mean I really need him to stop talking. I’d be willing to bet he is a bad driver, always looking in the mirror to check his hair.

It never rains in California, until it does, and then all hell breaks loose. To my fellow Angelino’s, do us all a favor and just stay home. Call in sick if you need to, but for the love of God, do not get in the car if you are a bad driver. Not sure if you are a good driver? You’re not. Now you know. To those currently dealing with REAL weather, I am sorry. This too shall pass, for us and you. Be safe out there. Don’t drink and drive, text and drive, or talk on the phone and drive. Pay attention and when some cute lady gets annoyed and flips you the bird, just smile, knowing I mean no harm. I’m heading home and keeping the faith.









Kindness to Animals

The other day we found this little fellow sitting in the driveway at work. He was not moving, breathing heavily, and clearly struggling. My heart just broke for him and I never once thought about his being a rat, just that he was an animal in trouble. I wanted to help him and wasn’t sure how. By help him of course I mean take him home, introduce him to the cats, teach him how to speak English, and have him cook ratatouille for me. He was a sweet boy and I was on a mission to help.

He was trying very hard to walk, but kept tipping over. Bless him. We put him into a box and gave him some seeds and fruit. He was weary, but started to eat and seemed to be quite happy with his meal. He slowly started to regulate his breathing and within a half hour was walking around the box. He may have simply been in shock and terrified, rather than seriously hurt. We thought perhaps he had fallen off of the driveway gate and broke something, but he was getting better.

While he was eating and catching his breath, I called my local vet to see what I should do. I was placed on hold and then told by the receptionist she had spoken to the vet and he said to bring it in and he would take care of it. I was thrilled, until she clarified that by taking care of it, he would be euthanized. Not on my watch he wouldn’t. I get he is a run of the mill rat, but his life has value. I sound like the bleeding heart, liberal, vegetarian that I am, but whatever. He mattered to me.

The beautiful little rat ate his seeds and chilled out, then became restless and was trying to get out of the box. He got his footing back and was ready to go home, so we took him away from the street, up into the canyon, and let him go. He was given a stockpile of food, and simply sat there and ate. I think he was appreciative and counting his blessings. He looked at us with gratitude and it was special. I thought about going to check on him later in the day, but decided against it.

Mother Nature is powerful and she needs to take care of things in her own way. My job was to give another living creature comfort during a trying time, and I would do the same for any creature. Except perhaps a roach. I would not give a roach comfort. I would also not kill it, just run away screaming. I love animals, don’t eat them, and my heart breaks when they suffer at the hands of a human. Mother Nature can do her thing, but we must be kind because we are all in this together.

When you see an animal in trouble, help it. When you want to get a dog or a cat, get one from a shelter and give an animal who is sad and lonely, joy and comfort. Animals are truly wonderful and I am grateful for the interaction I had this week with a rat. I never thought I would say such a thing, but that is the great thing about kindness. It comes up in unexpected ways and will bring you profound happiness if you are willing to pay attention and are keeping the faith.


In Search of a Prayer During a Trying Time

Photo from Max Pixel.

Last Wednesday I had anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery done on my neck. Two of my discs were bulging so badly they were pushing on my spine. My arm had been numb for several months and even though I did physical therapy for over a year in an attempt to avoid the surgery, I could longer wait and the procedure was finally scheduled. Four hours and six screws later, I am recuperating nicely and the benefits of the surgery were instantly felt. I woke up with no numbness or tingling in my arm, and am thrilled with the results.

My procedure was done at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. When I checked in for surgery I immediately asked if I could see the rabbi from the Spiritual Care department for a prayer. I clarified that if a rabbi was not available, I would happily pray with any member of the clergy. I simply wanted to pray with someone dedicated to God, and the religious affiliation was not that important. As I sat with my son and told him how much I wanted for the rabbi to come and say a prayer, and he assured me it would be fine and we could pray on our own, but not to worry because someone was coming.

I was waiting for the nurse to arrive to insert an IV when Chaplain Phil Kiehl walked in. He introduced himself and said he stopped by as he had heard I wanted to pray with him. I almost started to cry I was so happy to see him. He sat with me and my son and took time to get to know us. He asked about the operation, who the surgeon was, who the anesthesiologist was, what my pain was, and what the goal was. After we chatted for a few minutes he joined hands with me and my son and gave what can only be described as a perfect prayer.

It was kind and honest and made me feel very safe in my faith. It was a prayer of compassion and blessings. When Phil left the room, me and my son turned to each other and both said it was the most wonderful prayer and had left us feeling happy and at peace. I went into surgery feeling comfortable with my medical team and embraced by God. The following day as I rested and waited for the doctor to give permission for me to leave the hospital, a woman from the clergy office stopped by. Her name was Rebecca Stringer and she was paying me an unexpected visit to check in on me as she heard I was leaving.

She had a beautiful smile and a warmth I could feel. Her soul was visible and I was profoundly moved by her. We spoke about prayer and the importance it has in both of our lives. We spoke about our children and she shared she had lost a child to cancer. Her beloved little boy had passed away and she spoke of him in a way that painted a picture of love. This angel has a remarkable mother who is rooted in prayer and faith. She helped me more than she could ever know. We did not share the same religion, but we shared a life of faith which was respectful and embracing in a way that I wish it could be for everyone.

She held my hand and said a prayer that made me cry. I will forever remember her generosity of spirit and the feeling it gave me. Her words brought me real healing. We may practice different religions, but we pray to the same God and our exchange was special. I am a woman of faith and have experienced many blessings, but this was a rare moment of an authentic spiritual connection to another human being. We were sisters in prayer and I felt God holding onto us. When you can connect through God, without the judgment of religion, it is remarkable.

When Rebecca left my room I had a feeling of gratitude in the wake of her grace. My surgery was a success and I thank Phil and Rebecca for their kindness. Prayer is personal and mine is generally private, but my prayer this week had company and it was lovely. There is power in prayer and when voices join together it is wonderful. I feel great and am getting stronger each day. I was terrified going into the surgery and am relieved it is over and went so well. Life is good and good health is a blessing. I am grateful, happy, healthy, and keeping the faith.

Ilana Angel writes the Keeping the Faith blog at

Motherhood, Surgery, Reflection & Faith

I’m having surgery on my neck tomorrow, and look forward to finally feeling better. It has been a long road to get here and even with all the challenges and difficulties I have faced, this is the first time I feel scared and nervous. I kicked cancer’s ass, but screws in my spine is daunting and has thrown me into a place of deep reflection, mostly about my job as a mother.

Motherhood is a remarkable thing. I remember the moment I was told I was pregnant. I made all these promises to myself about the kind of mother I wanted to be. I had so many plans and dreams for my son before he was even born. I wanted to be a mom from the time I was a little girl and always thought I would have a lot of kids. Life can change dreams.

I have one remarkable son who is a truly wonderful human being. Both because of me, and in spite of me. I am proud of him and it has been my greatest honor to watch him grow up and become a good man. He is 22 years old and has a very bright future. He is a smart kid, but I worry he’ll never fully understand how much I love him. Perhaps he won’t get it until he is a dad.

The anticipation of my surgery has me thinking, and no good can come of that. I remember every time I was unkind or impatient. Every mean thing I ever said about his dad. The times he took care of me because I was sick. The times he watched me cry because my heart was broken. The times I couldn’t afford to get him what he wanted. All of it is vivid and feels heavy.

He will drive me to the hospital and be there when I get out of surgery, which makes me feel both grateful and sad. It is my job to take care of him, but over the past few years he has been taking care of me, and that is hard for a parent to come to terms with. I don’t ever want to be a burden on my child. I want him to be free to live his life and follow his dreams.

I want to hold him tight and tell him a million things, but that seems somewhat morbid. I’m not dying, I’m just having surgery. It is a procedure my surgeon has done hundreds of times with great success. There is nothing to worry about, and tomorrow when my neck is repaired and I feel amazing, I will have forgotten about how scared I was and focus on my blessings.

I will check in with you over the weekend when I am home, and appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I asked the hospital if I could have a rabbi come say a prayer with me before the procedure and they were surprised. Apparently they are not allowed to offer a clergy visit because it is an invasion of privacy, which is a shame. I pray and welcome the visit for a prayer.

The hospital said they would make the request. I let them know if a rabbi wasn’t available any member of the clergy, regardless of their religion would do. I just want a person of faith to pray with me. We all pray to the same God and I asked for an act of faith not religion. How different would our world be if people were able to have faith without religious judgement?

If I can get through the day without crying it will be a miracle. I feel emotional and happy, yet at the same time feel sick to my stomach and am unhappy. To be expected, but not at all a comfortable feeling.  I am going to count my blessings, believe everything will be fine, trust my brilliant son knows how much I love him, and hope he knows he is the reason I am keeping the faith.







Dating 101: Three Strikes

In the never ending madness that is my dating life, I’ve been asked out by three men this week, and it is only Thursday. It would be fair to assume the odds are in my favor for at least one of them to be worthy of meeting for a cocktail, but when you remember it is MY dating life we are talking about, you must know that each man was stranger than the one before him, and I struck out three times.

Man #1 is 54 years old, Jewish, divorced, and estranged from his three grown children. He is coming out of a long term relationship with a woman who has a young child. When I asked how long it had been since they broke up, he said he was actually in the process of moving out of the home they shared. He was at their house when we spoke, taking out her garbage. Dear Lord, I simply can’t.

He assured me that even though they technically still lived together, he was moving out and their relationship was long over. I quickly realized he mentioned her a lot, so I started to count. For the next three minutes he referred to his not-really-ex-girlfriend by name 26 times. He then explained that in the interest of full disclosure, he wanted me to know he voted for Trump, and would do it again.

His living situation was no longer the grossest thing about him. This man is a personal mess and a political nightmare. No good can ever come from dating that combination. We ended our conversation and that was the end of that, which brings me to man #2. This man let me know he had been divorced for three years, but was still living with his ex-wife. They have four kids, one of them still at home.

Rather than disrupt her life, they agreed to live together until she went to college, which would be this fall. He assured me I didn’t need to worry about dating him, because they had a system in place. She slept in one room, he slept in another, and they took turns dating on weekends. To clarify, they alternated weekends at the house so they could both pursue fulfilling sex lives with other people.

On his weekend at the house, his ex-wife and daughter sleep at her parent’s home. Then when it is her weekend, he goes to his mother’s house with his daughter. Really? How can this be a thing? I think this is going to screw up that kid in worse ways than a divorce would. I don’t want to judge, and everyone should do what works for their family, but I’m going to have to say no on this one. No.

Man #3 is 58 years old, not Jewish, educated, handsome, and the father of five kids. Important to note he has never been married and his five kids have four different mothers. Interesting fact, two of the kids were born sixteen days apart. Yup. His kids range in age from 8 to 36, and he would really like to have more. Fun fact: he has two grandchildren who are older than his youngest children.

I don’t have any women in my life who would find his story attractive, but bless him for sharing it so proudly. Ugh. I have struck out without ever having even made it to bat. All I can do is laugh because at the end of the day it is funny. There is someone for everyone though, so I’m sure all three of these men will find love. I’ve got 20 bucks that says they will all find it before I do, which is hilarious.

I find my dating life to be very entertaining, which is a good thing or I may want to impale myself. One day my prince will come and the only things I am certain of, are that he won’t live with his ex-wife, have multiple kids from multiple women, or think Donald Trump is anything other than garbage. So until my bashert finds me, I will continue to be entertained and remain hopeful, while keeping the faith.


Three years, seven weeks, and five days after I was first told I had cancer, I am cancer free. I feel happy and relieved, but will forever feel nervous every time I don’t feel good, that it is cancer. That said, at the end of the day I am a rock star, and cancer is my bitch. My son came home to celebrate last night, and having him stay the night and sleep in his old room filled my heart with joy. Less than a month after cancer stole a dear friend, I feel blessed and am counting my blessings.

As I waited for test results, while marking the anniversary of the passing of my beloved dad who died from cancer, I thought about my life and my place in the world. I watched the painful news out of Florida and cried as I watched a mother beg for the government to keep our kids safe. It left me with a need to say a few things, about a few things. This may piss people off, and that is okay. God Bless America that I am able to not only have an opinion, but share it freely.

  • The murders in Florida this week must not be blamed on mental illness, but rather blamed on the fact that a teenager can legally buy an AR-15 firearm in America. The President of the United States is a moron and anyone who thinks prayer is the answer to this problem, is mentally deficient. I am a woman of faith and I believe in prayer, but I have had enough. The NRA can shove all the prayers up their asses and fire them into space. We need to get a hold of the guns and stop making senseless murders so easy.
  • Aziz Ansari is a pig, he is not however a sexual deviant who needs to lose his career, just because he was a loser on a date. Dear Lord. The woman “Grace”, who wrote about her date with Mr. Ansari did more harm than good to a movement that is trying so hard to do good. There is a witch hunt mentality happening, which I suppose is to be expected under the circumstances, but as women we have a responsibility to each other to be honest and fair so that appropriate action can be taken against those who deserve it.
  • I have written that the last two men I dated were lovely and it simply did not work out. Here’s the thing though, they were not lovely, I was lovely. They are assholes and I am tired of taking the high road when it comes to my dating life. I am far too nice, and the truth is that I was kind to both of these people, and they were dicks. At the end of the day I am a great girl who is worthy of a great man, and if you voted for Trump or are 53 and never married, you’ve got too many problems for me to take you on.
  • I cried when I read that Amy Schumer got married. I don’t know her, but I like her and respect how she uses the platform fame has given her, so I found myself inexplicably happy for her. She was a beautiful bride and I hope she has a loving and wonderful marriage. I’m not really the fangirl type, except for Celine Dion of course, but there is something about Ms. Schumer that puts me squarely on her side. She makes me laugh and has the gift of bringing light to darkness. Mazel Tov Amy. Thank you for you. #totalfangirl.
  • It turns out that I was correct when I shared with you all long ago that I am the only person who knows how to drive in Los Angeles. I was rear ended this week by a young man with no car insurance. He was texting on his phone and I saw him getting closer, but had nowhere to go so I just waited for the hit. We were not going fast and the damage was only cosmetic, but it pissed me off. I felt bad for the kid for about 30 seconds. He could have cared less about what he did and texted the entire time we were talking. Whatever.

I am very happy it is Friday. I am welcoming in Shabbat with an open heart and a tired mind. It has been a stressful, yet joyous week and I am going to have a couple Cosmos tonight. I know they will be delicious because I’m going to make them myself. I plan to order in Chinese food, put on my fluffiest pajamas, and enjoy the Olympics. I will undoubtedly go back and forth between the excitement of Korea and the news, struggling to make sense of things that will never make sense. I feel stuck. I am unsure what to think or feel when I am so happy, and so sad.

To the families in Florida who are experiencing unimaginable pain, you are on my mind and I send you love. May your loved ones rest in peace, and may you know I will join my voice to yours until somebody listens and gets the guns. I am sorry for your losses. Shabbat Shalom. Be safe out there everyone. We live in a scary place and the only way we will ever survive is if we start to take care of each other. Be kind to one another, use your vote for good, and scream as loud as you can that you want change. Be brave, be hopeful, and remember to keep the faith.



Miss You Dad

February 13th is the day my father passed away. It is a day of sadness and reflection, but also joyous memories of a man I loved very much. My dad was a wonderful human being and I miss him. He was my go to person for everything, and it is impossible to understand he has been gone for 17 years. I wonder what he would be like if he were alive today, and turning 80 this year.

This is always a strange day. I started with a few tears, lit a candle, said some prayers, and headed to work. On the way in I received an email from a man online. I decided to reply since he wrote on this day, and perhaps my dad had a hand in it. We exchanged numbers and by the end of the afternoon we spoke on the phone. He didn’t seem like a match, but I tried to find common ground.

He is Jewish, divorced, 53, and felt compelled to tell me he does not like blow jobs, so I can date him with the comfort of knowing I don’t have to worry about that. As I listened to this truly tragic man spend five minutes explaining his sexual do and don’ts, and how they would make my life better, I started to laugh. Not a chuckle, but hysterical laughing that made my stomach hurt. Perfect.

My dad totally had a hand in that. I ended the conversation with the man and thanked my dad for the laugh on a sad day. By ended the conversation of course I mean I hung up on him when he got to his thoughts on anal sex. Oy vey. My dad sent a true idiot my way, to make me laugh on a truly sad day. I am now having a Cosmo, sitting on the couch with the cat, thankful for many things.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I will have dinner with the love of my life, my son. We will raise a glass to my dad and hold the memories of him close on a day that shines a light on love. I will look across the table and see my father in the eyes of my son, and count my blessings. Thank you for the laugh today Dad. We all love you and know you are watching over us. You are missed and we are all keeping the faith.

Dating 101: What is a relationship?

I woke up this morning feeling like a loser. Not a loser in life, because I’m a rock star at life, but a loser in dating. I can’t seem to get it together when it comes to sharing my life with a man. I historically date good men who are simply not the right men for me. There has been an occasional asshole of course, but that is how love works sometimes. I’m good at counting my blessings and finding silver linings, which is why I look at past relationships without regret. There is some anger, and certainly some bitterness, but not regret.

I don’t think things happen for a reason, but I can pinpoint the reasons some things happen. Does that make sense to anyone other than me? I woke up this morning thinking about my life and wondered why I am alone. I’m not alone alone of course, but I am not sharing my life with a partner, and that is sad to me. I don’t need a man, but I would like to have one. More importantly, I want a man to want to be with me, not need to be with me. I also don’t want anyone to settle for me or talk themselves into me.

I have been “dating” a man for a few months and yesterday I asked him if we were friends or dating, and he said he wasn’t sure. We talked about our relationship for a quick minute, but when I got home I cried. Not sure why exactly, but it made me sad that after so many months he was unsure what we were. It would have been easy to say we were dating, if we were, but he viewed us differently I guess. His answer was fine because it was his truth, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. I told him I didn’t want to see him anymore.

It is sad because he is great. I don’t think he thinks he is great, but I am a genius and I know for a fact that he is great. Here’s the thing though, if I spend four months dating a man and he is unable to say whether we are dating or not, he is confused because that is dating. Furthermore, if this conversation had happened between a girlfriend of mine and a man she was dating, I would tell her to walk away. If we don’t see our worth, then the men we are dating certainly won’t. It is not about how he sees me as much as how I see myself, and I am quite fantastic.

I will miss this man. We have settled into a comfortable relationship, even though it appears he is not sure we even had a relationship. He makes me laugh every time we speak on the phone or are together. He is educated and witty, clever and sensitive. He is also completely unaware of how lucky he would be, were I to love him, and that is the goal when dating isn’t it? I don’t think it is hard to get laid, or have a man buy me a drink or dinner. It is hard however to find love, but that is why I date. I am shamelessly looking for love.

I spoke to my “friend” last night before I went to bed, and again this morning. Ugh. That will be hard to stop. He is the person I go to for things, my date for events, my sounding board, and in the end a really good friend. He is not however looking for a relationship where he can give and receive love. I think he is worthy, but I am not a therapist or a mind reader, and I don’t know what he wants. I do know me though, and I want more. Want it, need it, deserve it, and certain I will find it. The search continues so I am keeping the faith.

Sadness to Happiness

I have a friend who is feeling sad. They’re not exactly sure why, but there is real sadness. I’m not sure how to help, so all I can do is tell them I love them, and things will be okay. Sadness is tricky because it can easily turn to depression. I embrace sadness when it comes my way, knowing it will pass. That knowledge took me a long time to learn, but I know it will pass, and that gives me the strength to ride it out. My heart is heavy for those who seek the same kind of strength.

I am blessed sadness leads me to gratitude. I imagine it is exhausting when sadness leads you to darkness. I don’t want my friend to be in the dark. I want them to hold onto my hand and allow me to lead them to the light. It may be a long walk, but we will get there. There is nothing wrong with sadness. I have been dealing with sadness since a dear and close friend passed away. I miss her in ways I wasn’t expecting and find exhausting.

When my friend passed away I was sad and lost. I hung onto my son a little tighter and he led me away from sadness. He was my sunshine on a cloudy day, and I hope I can be the sunshine on my friend’s sad day. Life is good and we are blessed. Carl Jung said “The word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” I hope my friend can appreciate the importance of sadness in one’s happiness. They’re going to be fine and this too shall pass. I know it.

I know this person well. I know their family, job, joys, and sorrows. I know they are a wonderful human being and destined for greatness. These are things I know, and while I appreciate sadness plays an important role in our lives, it is not in charge. To my darling friend, I love you. Know it. You are going to be fine. Know it. This too shall pass. Know it. You have been my sunshine, and I will be yours. Know it. It will make it easier to keep the faith.








Rest in Peace Cookie

Last week my remarkable friend Alli passed away. She was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, Hollywood superstar, and wonderful human being. I loved her very much and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of how much I am going to miss her. We knew each other for almost a decade and there is no aspect of my life she did not touch and make better. She was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.

Alli taught me patience. She bided her time and waited things to be as she wanted, rather than accept something that was less than she deserved. She taught me forgiveness. She forgave me for things I may not have been able to forgive her for, because she knew it would bring peace. She taught me self-kindness. She would not allow me to punish myself when things out of my control went wrong.

She was an entertainment powerhouse who left her mark on Hollywood. Every person reading this blog loved at least one of her movies. From American Pie to The Bourne Identity, The Hunger Games to Cinderella, Rogue One and the upcoming Han Solo, Alli loved the movies and it was an absolute privilege to have a front row seat to watch her work her magic. She was a truly brilliant producer.

Allison Shearmur was a lot of different things to me. She was my boss, friend, confidant, therapist, life coach, mentor, sister, mother, and sparring partner. We laughed and cried, got along and butted heads. She was my go-to person for absolutely everything. She knew every single thing about me. We kept each other’s secrets and never judged our choices. She was my family.

I worked for Alli for many years, and when I decided to move on to a new job, she said she would not accept my letter of resignation because there was a typo in it, and so it did not count. When I told her I was looking for a husband, she told not to find a husband, but to find an Ed, who was her beloved. When I questioned myself as a mother, she assured me I was doing great and my son proved that daily.

She taught me the importance of spending money on good bedding and pillows. She made me buy something just for me once a month. She valued honesty, kindness, and faith. We shared a Jewish worldview and spent the high holidays together. She respected and encouraged the role Judaism played in my life, and we often talked about our religion. We spoke of wanting to pass our faith onto our children in ways that would inspire them to embrace it.

Alli loved her children, husband, family, home, and career. Allison Shearmur also loved me, which makes me a very lucky girl. I will spend the rest of my life looking forward to seeing her again. I will talk to her often and have her in my prayers always. Our last words to each other were I love you, and she will continue to guide me. I love you Alli, and until we see each other again, I will be keeping the faith.

Happy Birthday Son

Today is my son’s 22nd birthday. I don’t really remember what my life was like before he was born, and every single day I have been blessed to be his mother, has brought me joy. I have not always done a great job, but he has always been a great son. He is a true blessing to not only me, but to everyone who is lucky enough to know and love him. In honor of this special day, I would like to share 22 things I love about this wonderful human being. In no particular:

  1. He makes me laugh daily.
  2. He is a fantastic chef.
  3. He is compassionate.
  4. He is talented.
  5. He is funny.
  6. He reminds me of my dad.
  7. He is socially aware.
  8. He works hard.
  9. He appreciates me.
  10. He follows his dreams.
  11. He is going to change the world.
  12. He respects women.
  13. He is a Dr. Doolittle.
  14. He is fearless.
  15. He respects the planet.
  16. He is brave.
  17. He makes good choices.
  18. He is a great friend.
  19. He is my sunshine.
  20. He lets me take a lot of pictures of him.
  21. He forgives me when I misstep.
  22. He is a feminist.

Happy Birthday Son! I love you very much and am proud of you. I hope this year brings you all you wish for yourself, plus more. Having a front seat to your life is my greatest blessing and I can’t wait to watch your dreams come true. Thank you for everything. I wish you health, happiness, and peace. Mahashooshoo. Always remember that life is better when you are keeping the faith.

Dating 101: Dinner at McDonalds

Yesterday I was running some errands and headed into a shop. I was on the phone and didn’t pay too much attention to my surroundings, but did see a homeless man sitting to the right of the door asking for money. Before I left the store, I looked in my wallet for a dollar to give him on my way out. I stopped to hand him the money, he said thank you, then asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. It made me laugh. I thanked him for the invitation, declined, and headed to my car.

As I was walking away I continued to laugh and realized this man had made my day. He was sweet to ask me out for dinner, and while I didn’t know if he was unwell and potentially dangerous, I knew I needed to go back. I approached the man and said that while I was not able to have dinner with him, could I buy him something to eat. He looked wary for a quick second, then said he would love some dinner. I asked him what he felt like eating. Without hesitation he said McDonalds.

I asked if he wanted to come with me, and he said he’d wait. I assured him he could come with me, but he said I’d be better off not talking him as people get nervous. That made me sad, then it didn’t because the truth is under different circumstances, he would make me nervous. So I went into McDonalds and bought him a Big Mac, fries, coke, water, apple pie, with a Quarter Pounder and some cookies as back up. When I got back he looked surprised to see me.

He said he didn’t think I was coming back and opened the bag with joy and relief. I told him to enjoy his dinner and stay safe. He looked me in the eye and locked my gaze. It was a lovely moment of thanks and compassion. I smiled and told him I needed to head home. He asked me what my name was, and when I told him he thanked me by name, introduced himself, then asked me out for dinner one more time. I laughed again, and without overthinking it, I told him I’d be right back.

I went back to McDonalds and got myself some fries and a drink. I then joined him for dinner. We sat at a bus stop and shared a meal. We chatted about the weather, and he told me about himself. It was lovely. I enjoyed talking with him and was happy about how happy he was with his dinner. He told me he knew we’d have a date. I assured him it wasn’t a date and just dinner because I would never go on a date to McDonalds. He laughed as he watched me eat the best fries ever.

I grabbed a blanket and umbrella out of my car and gave them to my new friend. He said it was his lucky day and I was an angel. It was all very sweet and I left him with a smile on my face. My goal for 2018 is to ask people to share their stories, and view everyone as a human being who shares the planet, not just people who are different. It is empowering and inspiring to look at all people with compassion. I am setting aside fear, making room for bravery, and keeping the faith.

Religion in an Uber

I love a cocktail, and because I am a complete lightweight, I use Uber. It is easy and inexpensive, as long as they don’t nail you with their bogus surge pricing. Important to note that if you book an Uber and it cancels on you, then you rebook it 30 seconds later and there is surge pricing, complain to them because that is both lame and unethical. This however is not a blog about Uber pricing, but rather about my recent Uber driver.

If you are interested in people’s stories, talk to your Uber driver. I have met some wonderful people while riding in their cars. I’ve been driven by a Drake lookalike who was so handsome I stuttered when we spoke. There was a grandmother making extra money to help her single mom daughter, who was so great I moved to the front seat. There was a woman who is raising 9 children and drives to get a break from her kids. Uber is great.

Saturday night I went out for dinner with a friend. He drove to my place and we took an Uber to sushi. When we got in the car there was something in Arabic playing and didn’t sound like music, as much as chanting, so I asked if he was listening to prayers, because that is what it sounded like. He told me it actually was prayers, I told him they were beautiful, and somehow we went from prayers to not all Muslim’s being extremists.

I’m not sure if my positive reaction to the prayers made him open up, but he felt compelled to say not all Muslim’s were bad, and many speak out against extremists who are bringing harm to their faith. He wanted me to explain to him why the media never talks about the brave few who are willing to speak out. I didn’t have an answer, which I think made him sad. I appreciated that he wanted to be heard, and felt bad the ride was so short.

We live in a time when it is difficult to be a lot of things. Life has levels of complication when you are gay, black, Jewish, or transgender, to name just a few. It makes me happy when people are proud of who and what they are, so it was great that this man was comfortable enough to play prayers for strangers. He asked me at one point if I was Muslim, and I said no. I didn’t tell him I was Jewish, which I am ashamed of.

I’m not sure why I didn’t say I was a Jew when he asked me if I was Muslim. I’m not sure why I would even have said I was Jewish in that moment. I am proudly and openly Jewish. I say openly because I have many Jewish friends who are quiet about their faith.  It struck me as odd that I would choose this moment to be quiet and not share. I respect his bravery, but am sad for thinking it requires bravery to speak of religion.

Religion has always been something we need to be careful with I suppose. It brings people together, and tears them apart. If fuels love and hate on both small and epic levels. At the end of the day I’ll continue talking to Uber drivers, because connecting to a fellow human being matters, and exchanges about religion can be enlightening if we allow them to be. Sometimes talking to a stranger inspires you to keep the faith.


Appropriate Dating

A man on a dating sight clicked that he liked my picture. I checked him out and his profile didn’t make my back spasm, so I thought it might be nice to chat. I sent a message, he sent one back, we had some good banter, and phone numbers were exchanged. It was a Wednesday. On Thursday we talked on the phone for about 30 minutes, and by the end of the call had made plans to see each other on the weekend.

I had plans on Friday, he had plans on Saturday, so we made plans to meet on Sunday. I sent him a text on Sunday morning to check in and see if we were still on to meet. He told me he had a date the night before and it went really well. He said he wanted to see where it went and was going to focus on her. He hid his profile online and made plans to see the woman again because their date was so good.

It was lovely. I was happy for him that he met someone he wanted to invest in, and was happy to have an appropriate dating exchange. It was wonderful that he was respecting the woman he met, the woman he was blowing off, and ultimately himself. I am often told I romanticize dating, and have unrealistic expectations of what a relationship should look like, but this made me think maybe I don’t.

Of course I do really, but for a moment while communicating with this stranger, I felt that my desire for decency and kindness while dating was a possibility. I was comforted by it and it was nice. It was very romantic for this man to step away from dating while he was dating, and I hope the woman he is interested in knows that he made a romantic gesture on her behalf, because it truly matters. Bravo to this man.

It turns out that I suck at dating. My history has left me brave, but damaged just enough to have my bravery occasionally come across as a little crazy. I really do mean well, and my intentions are good, but recently I saw the crazy through someone else’s eyes and it was sad and embarrassing, but also charming. Seeing myself from a different perspective, has left me hopeful that the right person will see beyond my crazy to my heart.

I deactivated all my online dating accounts today. I met someone great and was so scared I would blow it, that I lost my way. I was so focused on getting somewhere, that I forgot to pay attention to how great the ride there was. It happens. I will be more careful next time. By next time of course I mean I am hoping I will be given a do over. A girl can dream, and I am a girl who likes to dream big.

It is not hard for dating to be appropriate. It simply requires some basic kindness. Kindness and an occasional do over. There are many aspects of our lives that would benefit from kindness. I decided today that I am going to be kind to myself. My first act of kindness is to step away from online dating. It is time to slow down and enjoy the ride, which will leave me more time for keeping the faith.





Dating 101 – Bring on the rain

I started dating someone late last year and even though I totally thought we would be a thing, in the end we are not the thing I had hoped for. I really like him and we are friends, but it is a shame it didn’t become more. The simple truth is that at this stage of my life, I want to be with someone who is ready for a relationship. I have a wonderful life to share, and I am a wonderful human being, so there is no energy or point in spending time convincing someone to be brave.

If I don’t value myself, then how can I expect someone else to value me? I have had my heart broken, more than once, but I have never let that pain stop me from trying.  Love is grand and I am not going to let hurt influence my happiness. The memories of heartache certainly shape my heart, but they do not have the power to change what I want and what I believe I am worthy of. I hope this man gets to a place where he knows he is worthy of a good woman who values him.

Dating is not fun, but if you view it with the knowledge that even a misstep gets you one step closer to love, you’ll be okay. I had a date this weekend with a man a friend set me up with. I was told he would make me laugh, so we made a plan to meet for breakfast. He was handsome, on time, had a job, and fantastic green eyes. We said hello, settled in for the dance, and it was going well. Then he decided that he was going to call the waitress a bitch. Not once, but twice, to her face. We were done in just under ten minutes.

There is no world in which I am going to be okay with this behavior, so I went in. I started by apologizing to the waitress. She was lovely, which made his treatment of her even more disturbing. I told him he was rude and I was not only not interested in staying on our date, but he needed to apologize to the waitress. It was then that he told me I was, wait for it, a bitch. I got up, “accidentally” spilled my iced tea on his lap, and headed home.

I was sad for about five minutes, then it was just another step in my journey.  There is someone for everyone. The man I met for breakfast will meet a woman to spend his life with, and I’m hoping she ends being a total bitch. The man I was dating will also meet someone, and she will inspire him to risk getting his heart broken again. He will see her worth and that he is better beside her. I will be that woman for someone one day. Just not today, and that is okay.

It is Monday morning and raining in in Los Angeles, which is a great thing. The universe is washing away the weekend and allowing the week to begin fresh. I will keep trying because that is half the battle. You can’t be sad that you are alone if you are not trying to meet someone. How we try is not important, as long as we try. We are all worthy of love and if you want a relationship, you will have one. Be brave, take a risk, know your worth, believe in love, and keep the faith.



Make a Diffference

I wake up every morning and check the news. I do it with caution of course, because I never know what I’m going see, but I still look. I want to be informed about not only what is going on in Los Angeles, but the world. We are all in this together, and I want to be involved. I am curious by nature, and feel it is my obligation as someone who gets to share this earth, to be aware and help make the world better. We can all make a difference and seemingly little efforts still matter.

As I listen to what is going on in the world, and specifically in my own country, I can’t help but worry about the future. Things are a mess and we live in a political environment where we are also in danger. The unknown is scary and this administration worries me. I worry about what the future looks like for my son, who is about to turn 22, and is just starting his adult life. I worry about what the world will look like for the kids he will have one day. It is all very depressing, but needs to be thought about.

I am comforted and inspired by people who want to make thing better for all of us. I read something bad, then read about someone who is trying to make it better. I read about people doing bad things, then make sure to read about someone doing good things. I have to balance out the information I take in myself because I can’t rely on the media to do it. When we are surrounded by bad news, we owe it to ourselves to seek out good news. It makes life better when we are able to see both.

When I listen to my son talk about the world I feel better about things. He is a good man and is determined to not live his life on the sidelines. He is passionate about a lot of things and it makes me proud that he is making a difference. He is an inherently kind human being who cares about who he shares the planet with. On the darkest of days, I have hope because I know this young man will stand up for what is right and help those who need it. The good news is he is not a lone soldier.

I have a new assistant at work who is the same generation as my son. When we talk about things that are going on in the world, his view gives me hope. He sees the future in much the same way as my son and that makes me happy. This generation is frustrated and annoyed by what is happening in the world, and that is a great thing. They worry about their futures, but it is with determination to use their voices and talents to make things better. I am certain these young people will make things better.

I am going into Shabbat today with a sense of calm. I listen to the news and know there are people who will fight along side me for change. Our voices will join together and make ourselves heard. We can make things better if we the choice to do something, rather than just read the news and sit back and do nothing. We’ve got this people! Everything is going to be okay, just know it will get better, quicker, if we all step up. Have a great weekend. Think positive, be hopeful, do something, and remember to keep the faith.




Writing Out Loud

I’m not one to make resolutions because they set us up for disappointment. Rather than put all my eggs in one basket on January 1st, I simply try to do my best each day. I say a prayer, cross my fingers, and try to be brave enough to take leaps of faith. It is easier said than done of course, but as long as I try I am proud of myself. It doesn’t matter if I accomplish everything I set out to, but it does matter that I put myself out there.

The past year was full of challenges and blessings for me. I have no complaints because everything led me to blessings. I am thankful for the life I have and grateful to have this platform to share myself with all of you. I have discovered over the many years I have been writing for the Jewish Journal that my life is better when my readers relate to my words and share theirs in return. We are all in this together and I value your input.

In 2018 I will write about my always entertaining yet pathetic dating life, my lack of a sex life, my empty nest, my weight, my fascination with the train wreck that is Leann Rimes, my faith, my religion, (faith and religion are not the same thing), becoming a vegan, my son, my cat, my hopes, my fears, my cancer, and everything else that comes along because there is nothing I won’t share with an open heart and a shot of tequila.

I am going to write more often, and not only about what is going on in my life, but what is going on in the world. There is a lot to say and while I have always been open and honest, I’m going to take things to a whole new level and really blog out loud with no fear and no filters. I am excited about a lot of things and sharing them with you is a blessing that continues to inspire me to keep the faith.



Dating 101 – An Invitation

I spent yesterday afternoon with my son. We went shopping to get a few things for his apartment, then had an early supper. It was great and while I am always a little sad when he leaves, I was looking forward to my evening. The plan was to stay in for a much needed night at home. I made a perfect Cosmopolitan and snuggled up on the couch with the cat to binge watch season one of The Crown.

I was very content and as I watched what can only be described as one of the best programs television has ever offered, I was sent an email by an online dater. He introduced himself by name, and then went into great detail to explain what he was looking for. I say what rather than who, as he was clearly looking for something, more than someone. He is on mission, bless him, but alas, no.

This man is in his 50’s and has been happily married for 22 years.  He and his wife have a teenage child who is currently away for year one of university. They live in the valley, he works in insurance, and she stays home. She has MS and is not as mobile as she once was, but is fighting the fight and doing the best she can. The email was in fact from not only this man, but also from his wife.

They are looking for a woman to join their lives. Not for dinner or the movies, but for sex. Important to note that he did mention sex can include movies of course, porn, and dinner in so far as there are a variety of food items they like to incorporate into their sex lives. It was fascinating, absurd, creepy, hilarious, disturbing, and in the end rather tragic for him, her, and me.

As the year ends, this couple have brought me one step closer to my cat lady status. The good news is I have mastered my favorite drink, have lovely conversations with Fiddles the cat, and am enjoying the entertaining answers Alexa has for all of my questions. If it weren’t so funny, it would be sad. Or perhaps if it weren’t so sad, it would be funny. My dating life is ridiculous.

Good things are coming however. I am certain of it. I don’t know what the good things are, but I know they are coming. I am blessed in many ways and even though I may not have be in love, my life is filled with love, and so I am grateful. In an attempt to clear the slate, I will not go on another date until next year! Until then I will be brave, stay hopeful, and keep the faith.

Despite a Year of Anxiety, a Note of Hope

As 2017 comes to a close, the weariness and exhaustion generated by the Donald Trump presidency seem everywhere. Dinner conversations inevitably come around to dreary discussions of Trump’s latest tweets, his disregard for democratic norms or his fantasyland distortion of demonstrable facts. Family gatherings have a pall cast over them as people contemplate three more years of disarray and mendacity.

It is easy to be depressed and assume the achievements of past decades — under both Democratic and Republican administrations — on issues of tolerance and intergroup relations are being undone by a president who has no shame in targeting minorities and the most vulnerable in overt, insensitive and mocking ways.

Despite Trump, I remain hopeful that, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” If one steps back a bit, it seems that America has banked enough goodwill and broadly inculcated notions of tolerance that the body politic can withstand the fevered emanations from the Oval Office.

The vote in Alabama is one indication that even in the reddest of states, Trump’s act is wearing thin. His disdain for the norms of modern American modes of conduct helped sink the Roy Moore candidacy. Despite Trump’s entreaties, some 350,000 to 400,000 Alabama evangelicals did not show up at the polls this month to support Judge Moore in his bid for the Senate.

Evangelicals are the core of Trump’s support. If they are seeing through his pseudo-religious veneer, many others will, as well.

Despite his distancing of himself and his office from minority groups and his assault on them during his campaign and since his election, Americans haven’t forgotten what work remains on the intergroup front.

In summarizing a recent poll, the Pew Research Center said that “growing shares of the public say more needs to be done to address racial equality and see discrimination against Blacks as an impediment to this.”

Sixty-one percent of the public (81 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Republicans) say the country needs to continue making changes to give Blacks equal rights with whites. Support for that proposition among Democrats is at a high mark since 2010 and within 3 points of the Republican high of support from 2015. The Trump effect hasn’t blinded Americans to the work that remains.

Even on the local level, racial groups get along, despite the Trump effect. A study earlier this year by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles found that 76 percent of Angelenos believe that “racial groups in Los Angeles are getting along well.” That compares with 37 percent in 1997 (five years after the riots), 48 percent in 2007, and 72 percent in 2012. Angelenos have equaled the most positive assessment of race relations at any point in the last 25 years.

In terms of particular groups in L.A., African-Americans think we are getting along “well or somewhat well” at 73 percent, Asians at 79 percent, whites at 81 percent and Latinos at 72 percent.

The barrage of bad news is rarely contextualized and set in its historic context.

These findings, though taken early in the Trump presidency, suggest that groups can distinguish between the rhetoric of a president who cares not a whit about whom he ostracizes, condemns or harms and the real world. They have figured out that their lives are independent of the show in Washington, D.C. Even Latinos, a particular target of Trump, have a positive assessment (at 72 percent) of how we are getting along in L.A.

On a more global scale, there is reason for optimism. In a post-Trump election interview posted on Vox, Harvard’s Steven Pinker (author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature”) warned about getting too concerned with the headlines of the day and the media’s “given wisdom.” The fact is that well-established trends and attitudes transcend the vagaries of one election.

“More generally,” Pinker said, “the worldwide, decadeslong current toward racial tolerance is too strong to be undone by one man. Public opinion polls in almost every country show steady declines in racial and religious prejudice — and more importantly for the future, that younger are less prejudiced than older ones. As my own cohort of baby boomers (who helped elect Trump) dies off and is replaced by millennials (who rejected him in droves), the world will become more tolerant.

“It’s not just that people are increasingly disagreeing with intolerant statements when asked by pollsters, which could be driven by a taboo against explicit racism. [Seth] Stephens-Davidowitz has shown that Google searches for racist jokes
and organizations are sensitive indicators of private racism. They have declined steadily over the past dozen years, and they are more popular in older than younger cohorts.”

If you want to see the dark clouds on the horizon, there are plenty. The next three years will continue to be very rocky. The nightly news will stream awful stories and troubling facts. Yet, the barrage of bad news is rarely contextualized and set in its historic context. By most measures we and the world are doing better than we ever have, if not as well as we might.

David A. Lehrer is president of Community Advocates Inc., which is chaired by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan.

Dating is Intense

I went out for a drink last night with a gentleman friend. He is funny, smart, handsome, educated, and kind. We have been dating for a few weeks and I enjoy his company. He makes me laugh and I find myself wanting to write down some of the things he says because they are so clever. He’s a writer, so technically that would be stealing, but I think about it. He is the first man in a while that I have been on a second date with. I may date a lot, but it is with purpose. I don’t date just to date, and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including my own.

I suppose one could say my dating life is somewhat intimidating, particularly if you don’t date much, but I am simply trying. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to keep trying, and when you add a blog into the mix, it can be a lot for someone to handle. I write about what is going on in my life, and I can’t not include something, because that would make me a fraud. I date, think Trump is an ass, am starting to love my empty nest, and have made a choice to pay attention to other people’s stories. That’s what is going on, and so that is what I write about.

I haven’t really been dating much lately because my heart is still a little stunned from the last go round, but I found myself feeling lonely and wanting to try again. I am the most optimistic person I know when it comes to love. If you look at my dating history it would make more sense for me to get a bunch of cats and let go of that part of my life, but at the end of the day love is grand, touch is important, and so I keep trying. Praying and trying, but mostly praying. Praying and vodka. Even amounts of prayer and vodka.

I care about people’s feelings and always appreciate when someone is interested in me. Dating is hard, and exhausting, but it takes someone special for me to invest in for longer than a drink. I like this man I’m dating for many reasons, and some of those reasons are new to me, which is wonderful. I think that perhaps my hopeful, unfiltered, and grown up perspective may have freaked him out because last night he told me I was intense.

I would prefer to be viewed as difficult rather than intense, and it hurt my feelings. In a rather unfortunate turn of events, it made me cry. It was of course mortifying, but it is what it is, and luckily I look pretty when I cry. I would call myself a lot of things, but not intense. I simply do not see that about myself. I am an advanced communicator, and not afraid to say what I think or feel, but that makes me a grown up. I suppose it can be perceived as intense, so I guess I’m going to die alone, with 18 cats.

Important to note I know the definition of intense and while one could say it is good to be intense in some situations, it takes on a different note when said in the context of dating. Unless you are referring to your sex life, intense is not a good word to describe a person in a relationship. I’m not even sure it works in terms of sex. At the end of the day I guess i just think it is an unkind word to use when speaking to someone in a personal exchange because whether or not someone is intense, calling them intense is personal.

He was not trying to be unkind. He is actually never unkind, and was surprised by my reaction, which I felt bad about. I suppose it boils down to being tired. Tired of the dating dance, and while I can certainly cut a rug with the best of them, in this particular dance I have two left feet. Last night made me wonder not only if I had gotten it wrong, but what was wrong with me? How can I be so certain I am being one way, when I am being perceived as something completely different? It must be because I’m so intense!

This man is wise and I value his opinion, so I am left wondering if he was right, and I am intense. It has left me sad, which is sad, because what it means is that in my attempt to be brave in how I approach my relationships, I ended up being someone I am not, which has been interpreted in a certain kind of way, which is horrible. Perhaps I am more embarrassed than sad, but sadness is winning right now, and so I cried and then had a restless sleep. It’s not the end of world, and life goes on, but it is a drag.

As someone who dates, it is hard to face the fact I suck at it. One would think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. I’m still trying to navigate the waters of dating, and just when I think I have a handle on it, an intense wave knocks me on my ass. I will recover of course, because I always do, but I wish it wasn’t so hard. It would be a pleasant surprise if bravery could be met with bravery. How refreshing it would be if instead of getting spooked, one would be inspired to also be brave.

I’m not one who thinks “bad timing” plays a role in relationships, but I do think time helps figure things out. It would be nice if we figured this out together because he makes sense to me. We make sense to me. It’s all a crap shoot, and there are no guarantees, so all I can do is live and learn. Every step I take gets me one step closer to where I am going. As for where that is, I have absolutely no idea. I really need to be done trying to figure that out. I just need to walk forward, with my focus on keeping the faith.

A Little Perspective

When I was driving to work yesterday I saw a car pulled over on the onramp to the freeway. I noticed the car as I started on the onramp because there was a lot of traffic and we were moving slowly. As I started on the loop I could see them at the other end right before the entrance to the 405 freeway. The man was in the driver’s seat and looking frantically from the freeway to the woman he was who was leaning out of the car to vomit.

I wasn’t sure what to do as I watched people looking and slowing down, but nobody stopped, until me. I made the decision to pull up behind them and see if I could help. I climbed out the passenger door of my car because I was scared of the cars on my side, and went to the woman. She was initially startled, then said she was fine and didn’t need help. I looked at her, looked at him, and told her I wasn’t there for her, but him.

She smiled, laughed for a second, and vomited. I rubbed her back as he said thank you and looked so tired. I simply smiled, told him it was going to be okay, and nothing else was said. The woman was better after a few minutes and when she was well enough to sit up and get settled back in the car, she introduced herself. She is 37 years old, has two kids, he is her wonderful husband, and she is having chemotherapy for breast cancer.

We chatted for a minute, exchanged information, and this weekend I am going to go visit her for a cup of tea. She and her husband are special people and I feel blessed to have crossed their path. I’m looking forward to spending time with them. Sometimes it takes a chance meeting with a stranger to give a little perspective. It is very important for us to not get so wound up in our own lives that we stop noticing the lives going on around us.

Interaction matters. We are all in this together and when you open your eyes and see people, rather than just glance past them, good things can happen and you can make a difference. Kindness matters and the simple acknowledgment of another human being can impact not only them, but you. I am looking forward to spending time with my new friends. It will be good to step out of my life to embrace new people and experiences.

I crave humanity and want to connect in different ways. I’ve been looking for something, and meeting these people makes me feel like I am on the path to finding it. They opened my eyes in a profound way, which is strange seeing as our interaction was brief, but I’m opening my eyes and my heart. I am open to love, purpose, kindness, and connection. We are surrounded by blessings and we owe it to ourselves to try and see them.

I am someone who is always searching for something. Not because I’m not satisfied, or need anything, but more because I like learning, and meeting new people. I like stories and when you are able to not only write your own, but be a part of someone else’s, that is very special. I am going to pay more attention to what is happening around me because when I do, I discover things about me that make it really easy to keep the faith.

Big Apple, Little Time

I flew to New York City last night on the red eye, and am leaving today at 1:00. I will be in the city that never sleeps, not sleeping, for 30 hours. I am here for a quick catch up with my Aussie Posse. A remarkable group of friends from Melbourne, Australia. We met at a wedding and this is our third year together to welcome in the holiday season. They are like family and I love them. By family of course I mean they are my ridiculously entertaining and attractive drunk uncles.

I don’t know if it is all Australians, or just this group in particular, but they can drink. They perfectly time the ordering of their drinks so that as they take the last sip of one cocktail, the next one arrives without skipping a beat, or a sip as it were. They are wonderful human beings and being with them makes me happy. It also makes my liver want cry. I love a cocktail, but these people are on a whole other level. They drink three drinks to every one of mine.

I arrived yesterday at 7:00 am and have not slept. I arrived, met a friend for breakfast, did a little shopping, then a bit of work, then lunch with another friend, then the debauchery began. We had a private area at the rooftop bar at The Standard Hotel. It was gorgeous and the service was perfection. I drank 3 cosmos, and no good can ever come of that. Particularly since the truth is I lost count after 3. I drank like it was my job and I was employee of the month.

We stayed out until only about 11, then I came back to the hotel, while the Aussie Posse went to a nightclub. I took a shower, put on my super cute pajamas, and crawled into bed. As I started to doze off, the nightclub seemingly relocated to the hotel. It started off as a couple of people talking quietly in the living room, then it became a few more voices, then it became a full on rave. There were over 100 attractive, young, gay men in our penthouse and I was amazed.

I was inspired by their beauty and their bravery to live their lives out loud. By out loud of course I mean with no clothes on. There was a whole lot of naked happening and I marveled at all of it. People were everywhere and I must say as the one old lady in a sea of young gay hotness, these men had impeccable manners. As they continuously came into the wrong room and found me in bed, they apologized, offered to get me water, and told me my hair was fabulous.

Eventually I gave in and embraced the fact that I was not going to get any sleep, so I joined the party. I chatted to a lot of people, got eyelash tips from a beautiful man in a dress, learned how to tape my boobs for perfect cleavage, and saw more bits and bobs than I have ever seen in my entire life, because apparently one’s bits are an important piece of wardrobe when you are a young, fabulous gay man in New York City. It was an evening of wonder and enlightenment.

I’m happy around this special group of people. I feel safe and pampered. They are generous of spirit and my time with them makes me see the world in a new way. They work hard, and play harder. They are unapologetic about their excesses, while remaining humble. Jayson and Stephen are the poster couple for relationship goals, and should either one of them decide they wanted to shake things up and marry a Jewish old lady, I’d push and claw my way to the front of that line.

Justin is the social director of the group and I love him like a son. Andrew is the Grande Dame and nothing but kindness. Laura is my soul sister and I want for her all the thing she wants for herself. I am blessed to be a part of this family and cannot speak of them without a shout out to my beloved Gamble, who brought us all together. Even though it is kind of nutty to travel so far for such a short time, I am very happy I came to celebrate Jayson’s birthday in the big apple.

I was meant to join everyone for a Drag Show brunch at 2 and take a flight home at 8:30 tonight, but I’ve decided to take an earlier flight and head back to LA. This experience made me feel young in some ways, but old in others. I’ve never been a stay up all night kind of person, and so this has taken a toll. I am tired, and probably still drunk, so I need to get home so I can go to work tomorrow without looking like I’m in need of some serious medical attention.

I learned something new about myself over the past 24 hours, which is always a good thing. I discovered I want to come back in my next life as an attractive gay man, with a loving and supportive family, and a dentist as my husband. Thank you to Jayson, Stephen, Justin, Andrew, Claudio, Laura, Jacek, and Kassidy for an amazing time. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and cannot wait until we are all together again. Safe travels my darling friends. Be safe and keep the faith.

Dating 101 – A Poem

He asked me out for a drink.

I agreed to meet after work.

He arrived on time.

I was five minutes late.

He was dressed nice.

I was having a good hair day.

He was the age he said he was.

I was hopeful.

He was the height he said he was.

I was still shorter in my heels.

He had a job.

I was impressed by his manners.

He had hair.

I thought the grey was sexy.

He was missing a bunch of teeth.

I prayed he was a hockey player.

He had never played hockey.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask about it.

He never mentioned it.

I stayed for 46 minutes.

He asked me out for a second date.

I went home to impale myself.

He will find a nice girl with missing teeth.

I will never understand how dating works.

Three front teeth people!

I am jaded, but  keeping the faith.

My New Reality

Last week was the first time in as long as I can remember when my schedule was not dictated by reality television. As someone who has blogged about reality TV between 2 and 5 times a week for years and years, it was liberating and brought me real peace and happiness. I did not rush home to watch a show, I did not interview a reality celebrity, and I did not spend any time with Jose Cuervo.

I went out for dinner with friends, I went on a couple of dates, I spent quality time with my son, and I wrote about my own reality. It has truly been life altering and I found myself wondering why I didn’t retire Keeping it Real sooner. I did not realize how it had consumed my life until I stopped doing it. I watched a couple of the shows I used to write about, and enjoyed them more as a regular viewer.

The most interesting discovery is that while I enjoyed watching, I did not feel invested, or have any great need to watch them again. It is fascinating how important I thought these shows were. Not only are they not important, they are not particularly entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking reality television, I am just viewing it differently now that it is not part of my job.

It turns out my reality is much more interesting than what I was watching. From my dating life, to exploring my faith, to my newly empty nest, to wanting to spend uninterrupted time with my son, my life is reality television worthy. I would never do a reality show of course, even though I have been asked, because some crazy blogger would come and share her unsolicited opinion of me, so no thanks.

Last night instead of watching Real Housewives of Atlanta, I watched 60 Minutes, and I must tell you it feels better. I have not engaged in social media other than to post pictures of sunrises, sunsets, cocktails, and food. It is a whole new world and I am happy. Instead of waking up and checking my Twitter to see the reaction to my blog, I woke up and celebrated the announcement of a new princess.

Keeping the Faith has been a very important part of my life, and she has been neglected due to the demands of reality television. That stops today. I look forward to posting often and welcoming you back into my life in a bigger way. My longtime readers have been through a lot with me, and I take comfort in knowing you are out there, wishing and praying for good things to come for me.

You carry me through. I went back to read Keeping the Faith over the years and it is wonderful to see how many people have come into my life through this blog. People who matter to me in profound ways. I’ve made friends, dated readers, battled hate, embraced love, and defined who I am as a Jew, mother, friend, daughter, and partner.  My life is truly blessed because I am keeping the faith.


Happy Thanksgiving Jose Cuervo

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

This time of year inspires people to reflect on their lives. We take the time to say thank you and count our blessings, even if it is just for a day. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, but as a woman who gives thanks each and every day, saying thanks is just a small piece of the pie. In the spirit of the holiday however, each year I like to pick one thing or one person in my life that has gone unappreciated, and say thank you. This year’s selection happens to be both a person and a thing.

My son has moved into his own apartment and it’s been hard. Even though we talk all day and I see him regularly, I miss him so much it aches. I am not ashamed to share I have cried every day since he left. I have also slept in his room twice, and sat in the middle of the floor weeping. By sitting, of course I mean I was in the fetal position while looking at baby pictures with my boyfriend. By boyfriend, of course I mean Jose Cuervo, which leads me to my special thank you for 2017.

Thank you to Jose for helping me through this difficult transition in my life. I have spent almost 22 years preparing my son for this moment, but sadly forgot to prepare myself. The truth is that even if I had prepared myself, I still wouldn’t have been ready. He stayed at home longer I did when I was young, but I could have used a little more. Another five years would have been nice. Pathetic to be sure, but still nice. It has been him and me for so long it feels strange when he tells me he is going home after dinner, but it is not our home.

He was six months old when I got divorced and so our bond is special. It has been him and me against the world so long, I guess I’m just scared about how I will do it on my own. It would keep me up at night if it weren’t for Jose. He relaxes me so I can stop thinking and get some sleep. I love him. Important to clarify I don’t love him so much that we are together all day, but I do love him some evenings and imagine it will be a couple more weeks before me and my tequila boyfriend cool off.

Being a mother is the highlight of my life and most important job I will ever have. I am proud of my son for taking this milestone step in his life, and proud of myself for raising such a wonderful human being. He is living his best life and his successes are mine. I respect and admire him. I also trust him. He makes good choices and that is because of me. He is fearless, compassionate, aware, and kind. In the interest of full disclosure, it has not been all bad. There are blessings.

My home is always clean! There are no clothes on the floor, there are no dishes in the sink, and there is something quite liberating about walking around your home naked, just because you can. I am actually writing this while naked on the couch with Jose. I’m not sure I will ever get used to my empty nest, but with Jose by side I will learn to embrace it. Happy Thanksgiving! Count your blessings, acknowledge someone worthy, and raise a glass to keeping the faith.

Happy Birthday Dad

Today, November 22, 2017, marks what would have been my father’s 79th birthday. He passed away when he was only 63, and I often wonder what he would have been like had he been blessed with old age. I wonder how my life would be different had he been here to guide me, and how different my son would be, had he had his influence for longer. It makes me sad and I feel cheated by his dying so young.

Robert Angel was an amazing man and I loved him very much. He took care of me not only when I was a child, but when I was an adult and had a child of my own. He and was the kind of dad who always had a story, or an answer, or a solution, and a joke. It did not matter what was going on in my life, he was able to help me, even if it was just to listen and offer quiet support. I miss my dad more every day.

My son reminds me of my dad. They have similar mannerisms, the same sense of humor, and the same full head of fabulous hair. I can look at my boy and see my dad, which is a blessing. I am thankful my father got to meet my son and get to know him a little bit. He has eight fantastic grandchildren, but sadly didn’t get to meet them all, so I am lucky I have memories of my dad and son together.

My father loved my son and they had a lot of special little things together. He would have been close to my boy had he lived to see him grow up. He would have been the grandpa with pictures on his phone, ready to show anyone who wanted to see his grandchildren. I am certain that just like me, he would have watched my son on television and cried. He was strong, bold, and brave. A wonderful human being.

I will go out tonight and raise a glass in my father’s honor. I will say his name out loud, and thank him for watching over me. I will talk about him with my son so he never forgets him. I will be happy to have had such an amazing dad, and sad to have lost him too early. Happy Birthday Robert Angel. You are loved, and missed, and still the head of our family. I will see you again, so I am keeping the faith.

I Think I Love You David Cassidy

I grew up watching David Cassidy on television. I bought his records and sang in front of the mirror with a hairbrush to his songs. David and The Partridge Family are a piece of my childhood I not only remember, but still smile about when I hear one of his songs. David passed away today at the age of 67.  He was a talented guy and when he lost his way along his journey, I never stopped loving him, just kept him in my prayers.

Thank you for the happiness you brought me David. I don’t think I love you, I know I love you, and always will. Rest in Peace and keep the faith.

Keeping it Real is Going to Bed

I have been writing this blog for longer than I ever thought I would. It was started out of a need for some escape from the stresses of life. It was fun to suspend my own reality, watch reality TV, and write about it. Many opportunities came my way because of this blog, and I will always look back at this work with pride. I was honest, funny, harsh, opinionated, and fair.

I met a lot of interesting people along the way. By interesting, of course I mean mentally unstable. Reality television is a crazy world and after having a front row seat for many years, I am writing to share that after much consideration, and with the blessing of my new editor, this will be my last Keeping it Real blog. I am putting this baby to bed and walking away from the madness.

Watching hours of reality TV a week is exhausting. Having to then write about it, can occasionally be soul crushing. I have been praised and attacked endlessly. I have been invited to fabulous parties, and received death threats. I have made lifelong friendships with reality stars, and alienated others. I have attended weddings and interventions. It has been a fascinating ride.

I have been wanting to end this blog for months. I felt the last season of Real Housewives of New York City was perfect reality TV. I loved every second and wish I had ended this blog with that season. I kept going however and started blogging New Jersey and Atlanta. Oy vey. A few weeks in and I’m sucked back into the hole. I tried to blog both shows this week, but simply couldn’t do it.

For the trolls who will spin this in their own ridiculous way, good luck with that. It is mind boggling how many people hide behind their computers and spread hate. I use my real picture, and real name, and stand by my words. I’ve made mistakes along the way, apologized when needed, and moved on. I have never been as invested as some would like to think I am, because it is just TV.

Yesterday I met with my editor to let him know I decided it was time to end this blog. He was supportive, and actually quite happy because reality TV is strange and often doesn’t quite fit in with the Journal. I also spoke to my son who gave me permission to walk away from something so successful if it meant it would bring peace into my life. It has been a big decision and I have not taken it lightly.

I am a writer. A talented and successful writer. My Keeping the Faith blog is a piece of my heart and a love letter to my son. I will continue to write that blog with a new sense of joy and purpose. I will contribute more to The Jewish Journal, and I will watch reality television because I want to, not because I have to. It is a big decision, but I am walking away with absolutely no regrets.

It was fun, until it wasn’t, and so a new chapter begins. To the millions of people who came to The Jewish Journal to read Keeping it Real, I thank you. Thank you for not only reading, but for inviting me into your homes and engaging in a dialogue. I appreciate you. To the haters, you’ll find someone else to pester from the shadows, so I hope for their sake you remember to take your meds.

To my liver, you are a champion and I thank you for the sacrifices you made to this blog. As you all know,  I love a cocktail and my enjoyment of shots grew with the popularity of this blog. That is how Jose Cuervo actually became my boyfriend. Occasionally we would invite in a certain Grey Goose and have a threesome, which was magical. My liver is exhausted and looking forward to the break.

This is the first Friday in a long time I am going into Shabbat with actual peace and quiet. I’ve been on this rollercoaster for 9 years and I’m tired. I will still watch these shows on occasion, because let’s face it they are as addictive as crack. I won’t however engage in drama or read blogs. I may tweet as I watch to stay connected with you, so on behalf of me, Jose, and my liver, thank you for keeping it real.

Friendship Goals

I am blessed to have wonderful friendships. People I care about in profound ways, who have become family. Some I’ve known for decades, and others for a short time, but they are all people I love, admire, respect, value, and depend on. They are an eclectic group and truly matter to me. They know who they are, and what they mean to me. This blog is about one woman in particular, who will be beside me for the rest of my life. I am blessed by my friendship with Gamble Breaux.

I met Gamble online about three years ago. She read my blog and sent me an email. We started corresponding, and a friendship began. In the beginning I was dealing with cancer, and Gamble was going through some stress at work. For some reason we found each other and without having met in person, became a support system to each other. I was sad, and sick, and Gamble saved me. With no hesitation, reservation, or exaggeration, I can tell you she swept into my life and saved me.

We had been writing for a few months when Gamble got engaged and was planning her wedding. I had been through surgery, was feeling nervous, and had lost my way a little bit, but Gamble would not let me feel sorry for myself and insisted I come to her wedding. It was a big decision not only because I was dealing with medical stuff, but because I live in Los Angeles and Gamble lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was a long way to travel and I wasn’t sure I could make the trip, but Gamble was.

She kicked me in the ass and would not allow me to miss it, so in an attempt to be brave, I agreed to go. I was going to fly to the other side of the world, to the wedding of a woman I had never met before. I got the blessing of my son and my oncologist, and I was going. I have never done something so spontaneous, but I felt inspired and supported by Gamble, so it was happening. From the moment I met Gamble in person and we embraced, it made sense. We were bashert.

I don’t know how it happened, but our connection was instant and our friendship goes deep. We spent five days together celebrating her wedding, then I went back to Australia to celebrate her son’s 21st birthday. When I was nominated for Blog of the Year by the LA Press Club, she came to LA to be my date to the awards ceremony. Then when my son was moving out, she came back to LA to hold my hand and wipe my tears. She is one of my best friends and I love her.

She eases my sorrow. She makes me feel better. She makes me laugh. She gives me clarity. She believes in me. She nurtures our friendship. She is like a sister to me. There is no time of day that I could not call her and she would not pick up the phone. She is my knight in shining armor and my hero. She is the kind of friend everyone deserves to a have. Thank you for always making things better Gamble. I love you very much. You are the kind of blessing that comes from keeping the faith.