November 17, 2018

Motherhood 101 – Travelling

My son Charlie is wrapping up a 17-day vacation in Japan. He is with one of his best friends, and they are traveling around the country not only seeing the sights, by experiencing the culture and meeting the people of Japan. They have encountered nothing but kindness and generosity. I am impressed with the beauty of not only the country, but her people. Thank you to this enchanting place and her residents for taking such great care of my son.

Charlie has taken me with him on his trip, which has been simply thrilling. Thanks to modern technology I have walked through the bamboo forest, seen a sumo wrestling match, watched a blue fin tuna auction, fed monkeys and deer, and lit a wishing stick in a Buddhist temple. I have been on a bullet train and strolled in the rain through busy and exciting streets. I believe seeing the world is important and am so happy my son is able to have these experiences. It really expands your world view to actually see the world in person.

Sidebar: Important to note that while I’m sure I sound like a supportive and loving mother when it comes to Charlie traveling, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know I am actually a crazy person. I track the movement of his flights and train rides, I ask him to text me when he is in for the night, and I have asked him 422 times if he has his epi pen with him.  Each time he goes away I relax a little bit more, but I am a Jewish mother through and through and the truth is there will ever never be a trip where I don’t worry and that will be not only with Charlie, but with his wife and kids too when come along. Luckily he takes it all in stride, humors me, and includes me in ways I haven’t even demanded. I am thankful he is such a good boy, and grateful for vodka.

I am sending best wishes to the people in Japan who are dealing with the heavy rains and flooding. I hope you stay safe. To my Charlie, enjoy the last few days of your wonderful trip. Be safe, have fun, eat strange things, be kind, take pictures, and be aware of how blessed you are to see the world. I am so thankful you have included me on your adventure. I really enjoyed Japan and can’t wait to see Scotland with you this fall. Travelling is a wonderful reminder to keep the faith.

 

 

Blogging 101 – Happy Anniversary

I wrote my very first blog for the Jewish Journal on July 9th, 2009. It is hard to believe I have been sharing my life here for nine years. When I started my son had just had his Bar Mitzvah, which was the catalyst that got this blog started. Charlie becoming a man changed how he viewed me, and how he viewed our life together. He turned 13 and immediately became concerned with taking care of me. I had been a single parent since he was a baby, and he felt his Bar Mitzvah marked a change in our relationship. He was going to be the man in my life.

He was very vocal about being worried about my being alone. At 13 he was looking ahead to a day he would be grown up and moving out, and he didn’t want me to be alone. He had a well thought out conversation with me, explaining that I needed to find a good man. He had clear ideas about what type of man it should be, and did not hesitate to share his opinions with me. It was sweet and kind and lovely. It was also daunting, intimidating, and stressful. There was now a clock ticking for me to find love and so I started to not only date, but blog all about it. I never could have known it would last this long, and am surprised it has.

There were good dates, bad dates, and nightmare dates. There was hope, love, and heartache. I have learned a lot about myself during the life of this blog. I became a better mother, a more grounded Jew, and an increasingly vocal liberal. By sharing my opinions about things, and inviting people into my life with Charlie, I discovered I was a great mother, and a decent and kind human being. I am a survivor of many things and have written with bravery and freedom. There is nothing about my life I have not shared here, and that is both empowering and scary.

I have often referred to this blog as a love letter to my son, and it really is. I have written with sometimes painful honesty about my life. I have no regrets about anything I have shared and am blessed beyond measure to have had people share their stories in return. I have built a family here of people who have become my teachers, friends, advocates, protectors, and cheerleaders. I have received real love and unbelievable hate. At the end of the day the good always outweighed the bad, and I know how lucky I am to have this platform.

Thank you to the Jewish Journal. They have encouraged me to share without fear. Rob Eshman is my hero and I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me on board. David Suissa is my celebrity crush and inspires me to write. My writing brings David headaches with demands to fire me. Important to note that every time I say Trump has dementia and his supporters are morons, there is a call to fire me, which only makes me want to mention Trump is a loser and his inbred supporters are garbage every time I write, even if the blog is not at all about Trump.

As I begin my 10th year with the Jewish Journal I am hopeful that this will be my last year. I have said I would write this blog until I found real love and got married again. I honestly thought that day would have come long before now, and thought I was close a couple of times, but here I am. Charlie is now 22 and currently on vacation in Japan. He calls me every day, and video chats me from places he thinks I would like to see. Yesterday we looked in amazement at the bamboo forest, walked along the flooded river, and fed monkeys and deer. I am truly blessed.

Thank you to my son, who is the love of my life and the most incredible person I know. Thank you for letting me write this blog and share our lives Charlie. You are an amazing young man and I am proud of you. Keeping the Faith is for you. I love you. To my readers, there are no words to properly express my thanks to you. You have held my hand for nine years and I am grateful for all of you. You make me laugh, wipe my tears, and embrace my voice. Thank you for reading and thank you for reminding me to count my blessing while keeping the faith.

 

My Immigration to America

When my son was a baby he went to daycare. I was a single parent who had to work, so while it broke my heart to not be able to stay home with him, I found the best possible daycare I could, and went to work. He did well and thrived with the lovely women who took care of him. It was very hard on me, but not so much for him as he was only six months old and unaware he was in daycare. One day when Charlie was a little shy of two however, I took him to daycare and he was not having it. He had what can only be described as a catastrophic meltdown.

I tried to calm him down, they tried to calm him down, and before long we were both crying and inconsolable. The owner of the daycare came and tried to help, but it was a mess. After about 20 minutes they literally had to peel him out of my arms. He looked at me while screaming his head off, calling for me, and his eyes begging me not to go. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and spent the next hour talking to the owner of the daycare, telling her I was going to quit my job and Charlie would not be back. She told me it would be fine and said I should go to work.

There were no camera phones or video chatting back then, so I just had to leave, not able to see him or he would have lost it again. I waited out of sight for another two hours until he stopped crying. I then went to work and cried for the rest of the day. I could hear the seconds ticking away in my head like a time bomb until I was able to go get him. The recollection of that day for this blog makes me cry. I cry for my young self, newly divorced and raising a baby on my own, and I cry for all the mothers and fathers at the borders who are having their babies ripped away.

I had nightmares of my son screaming for a long time, and he was home with me. Imagine what the mothers and fathers at the borders are feeling not knowing where their children are. What are the children thinking while they are alone, on concrete floors, in cages, without their parents? It breaks my heart. I am devastated by what is happening at our border. Devastated as a mother and as an immigrant. I have been an immigrant 3 times in my life. Once when my parents left Israel after the war for England, and again when my family moved to Canada to build a life for us.

The third time was when I immigrated to the United States at the age of 24 to start my life over after surviving a violent crime. Important to note that I came here for vacation and never left. I stayed illegally for a year. Because I was from Canada, nobody batted an eyelash. I lived here in Los Angeles, worked illegally for cash under the table at a doctor’s office, and nobody ever asked me a single question. I then got engaged, got married, and was issued a Green Card. It was easy because of where I came from. I blended in and  would do it all again to have left Canada when I did.

I understand why these people are risking their lives to escape from their homelands. I understand it, and frankly I support it. I believe people should be able to start over in a place that is safe and welcoming. I would do the same thing if it meant I could give my child a safe place to grow up and pursue his dreams. As for the people who say they are all dangerous killers and rapists who are taking our jobs, I can only shake my head and feel sorry for you at the same time I want to punch you in the face. Trump and his cold, heartless cult followers are crazy.

I am embarrassed by this administration. I am worried about the people who are being detained. I want to welcome every single child waiting to be reunited with their parents into my home for a hug, a bed, and simple kindness. I want to hug every parent who is praying to get the children back in the same way I was hugged at daycare. I want to understand how it is possible that people support this president and his dangerous and clearly failing mind. There but for the grace of God my friends. One of the blessings that comes with being blessed, is sharing your good fortune. As a county we should welcome people to share in our random good luck of being here already.

I’m guessing some dumbass Trump supporters will read this and contact the authorities to have me deported. It’s happened before and it will happen again. I find it quite entertaining. Almost 30 years ago I was an illegal immigrant so if they want to come for me, come on. I’ll wait here for you. You can reach me at angel@jewishjournal.com. Oy to the vey with these people. We can do better America. We are better. The only shot in hell we have to turn this around is to vote. VOTE. My message to those who were lucky enough to build a life here, remember your journey and where your family came from. We are a nation built by immigrants. We are what makes America great, so use your voice to vote. Make the journey easier for those coming after us, so they can keep the faith.

Dating 101: The Trump Test

I cannot date a man who thinks Donald Trump is a good president. I simply cannot do it. I have tried, but at the end of the day it doesn’t work for me. Hands that voted for Trump do not deserve to touch my breasts. My boobs are fabulous, and Trump is a shmuck. Not happening. I can tell you I love this country. I am an immigrant who is living the American dream. My son was born here and I am blessed to call America home. My disgust for the president is about the man who is currently in the position, not the country. Donald Trump is truly dangerous.

This is not about my political views however. It is about my dating life. I am looking for my bashert. I believe he is out there and while some days I believe it more strongly than others, there is always hope. Remaining hopeful is the biggest struggle with dating because if you give up hope, you give up. I am currently dating online and in my profile I have written the following: Important to note that if there is anything about the current president that you are not offended by, we won’t be a match. It matters to me, so I put it out there.

Today I received an email from a man in Woodland Hills. He sent me the following note: what are you talking about? Trump is for Israel and Obama nor Hillary are. Trump moved US embassy to Israel on its 70th anniversary. Trump is for the Constitution. Hillary is not. How can you be against a president that recognizing enforcing the freedoms of the Constitution? Oy vey. Stupid is exhausting and I don’t have the time or patience to deal with someone this stupid. Does he think the US just put an embassy in Israel? I can’t.

I am trying to break old patterns when it comes to dating. I want to be happy and I am smart enough to know that I don’t know what my person will look like, or what he does for a living. I am looking for kindness, honesty, laughter, loyalty, and great sex. That’s my list and I am not willing to compromise on any of it. The Trump test is frankly pathetic, but necessary. I can’t respect a man who respects this president, and I’d rather be alone than with a Trump supporter. It is a blanket statement, but I am sticking to it.

I am writing this blog while I watch the new dating show The Proposal, which proves that my dating life is not that bad. The thirst is real and the desperation of some women is suffocating. It is also hilarious. At the end of the day it is a crap shoot and finding love can take a long time, but love and luck go together, so I hope I am lucky. The only thing I know for sure is that the man I fall in love with will not be a Trump supporter. To the charming man who wrote me today from Woodland Hills, I wish you well because life must be hard when you are so stupid. Bless your heart. I am laughing, hopeful, and keeping the faith.

Introducing my Son and The Father Complex

I have been writing Keeping the Faith for almost a decade. During that time, I have shared my life, including and most importantly, I have written about being the mother of a wonderful human being. Over thousands of blogs and columns, I have never once mentioned my son’s name. He has approved every word I wrote about him, but there have been no photos or words to say who he was. I have always been careful to protect his privacy because writing about me has been my job and my choice.

My son was 13 when I started to write for the Jewish Journal. He was a big part of why I started this blog, and the reason I am fearless with my sharing. It has been a love letter to him, and a documentation of my life as a single mom. It is a window into my heart, soul, world view, fear, hope, joy, and sorrow. It is a never ending search for things to help me keep the faith. My son doesn’t read every post, but one day he will, and he will understand the profound love I have for him.

My son is remarkable. Even if he were not my son, I would still think he is remarkable. He is funny and smart, kind and fair. He believes in equality and justice. He does not judge anyone based on color, religion, or sexual orientation. In fact, he simply does not judge. He is generous of spirit and works hard to make the world better, even if it means helping one person at a time. I am proud of him. I am impressed by him. I have watched him grow up and find his way. He is amazing because of me and in spite of me. I love him with every fiber of my being.

I never thought I would share my son’s name or face here. In fact, I was sure I wouldn’t. Until today. The funny thing is that many people who read my blog have seen my son, they just don’t know he is my son. He is an actor and has done a lot of commercials, guest stared on Nickelodeon, and been in countless student films. He is a talented actor, writer, and producer. He has perfect comedic timing and is a brilliant improv performer. He supports himself in his chosen profession and even though faced with rejection, has never given up on his dreams.

My son met his best friend in middle school, which means they have been best friends for as long as I have been writing this blog. They are like brothers. They both attended a performing arts middle school, then the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts together. They have been collaborating on projects since they met. The first time they performed together was when they sang Michael Jackson’s Black or White at an open house at middle school. They have been fiercely loyal to each other and always chased their dreams together.

Last summer they told me they were going to make a movie together. Not surprising, so I simply wished them well. Things have changed since they casually mentioned a movie in my kitchen. Since then they travelled across the country making their film. Today a trailer for the film The Father Complex was released. It features Tyler Cole and my son, Charlie Burg. The film is directed by Tyler and produced by Charlie. It is being released in partnership with Jaden Smith and his team at MSFTSrep. These boys have made a brilliant film and I’m proud of them.

I cried when I watched the trailer. I cried with pride at what they had accomplished. I also cried because I immediately understood that with this film, things would change. I will continue to write about my life, but my mentions of Charlie must be different now. With this film people will know I am his mother, so there is no more keeping it private. My son, Charlie Burg, will now be known on his own terms, by his own art, and his stories will be his to tell. I will watch his career with pride, finally sharing his accomplishments with all of you here.

It is my distinct honor to share the trailer for the film The Father Complex. It will be released later this year and I am excited for people to see it. It is a wonderful movie and I marvel at the talent of these two young men. It has been a blessing to have a front row seat to the process of making this film. To my beloved Charlie, this is the beginning and the end. The beginning of a wonderful new road for you to travel, and the end of your days being known as Snickerdoodle. Thank you for letting me share our lives here. I appreciate your endless kindness to me.

You never complained I shared too much. You never asked me not to post something. You stood up for me when trolls appeared. You held my hand when I shared personal and difficult things. You lifted my spirits through cancer. You promised me I would find love after my heart was broken. You never asked for anything when money was tight. You only ever asked me to spend money on myself when it wasn’t. You have been my child, friend, teacher, and inspiration. You are my heart. You are my sunshine. You are the reason I am keeping the faith.

 

Happy Father’s Day

I have been a single mom since my son was a baby. I was divorced before he turned one and while his father lives close by and has a relationship with our son, I raised this boy with no financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical support. My son is a wonderful human being because even though he has a dad, I have been his mother and father. Being a single parent is a remarkable job for remarkable people.

I taught my son to ride a bike, took him on his first fishing trip, passed on my faith, comforted him through loss, explained sex, taught him to respect women and himself. I encouraged him to follow his dreams and that no dream was impossible. He was raised to help those less fortunate and embrace everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, the name of their God, or who they love. He is a good man.

Being a single parent is as difficult as it is rewarding. I raised my son in a city where I had no family, so I created one. I leaned on my friends, temple, Rabbi, teachers, parents of his friends, and employers to help raise this remarkable human. I did not and could not lean on his dad. In looking back at my life as a single parent, I am proud of myself, wish it had been different, and am grateful for our life together.

When my son was one, my father sent me flowers for Father’s Day. He told me he was proud of me and said I was a great mom and a wonderful dad. It meant a lot to me that the man I loved and respected more than any other man in the world acknowledged I was doing everything and being everyone for my son. I raised a boy to be a man on my own so Father’s Day is interesting for me.

Life as a single parent is full of blessings. There is an us against the world connection. As single parents we cry harder, laugh deeper, worry more, and pray longer because we are alone. Life is loud because it is just you listening, and life is silent because you are by yourself. It is a life of sacrifices and rewards. I am a strong and proud single parent because the title makes me a super hero.

This morning my son made me breakfast and bought me flowers for Father’s Day, then he went to spend the day with his dad. He always makes this day special for me and I appreciate it. It makes my heart swell that he understands the roles I have played in his life and honors me, I am wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, and to all the mothers who are sometimes father’s too. Enjoy this day.

Happy Father’s Day those who have lost their dads and wish they were still here. Happy Father’s Day to sons of single mothers who are the men in their mom’s lives, and to the moms who are everything for their kids. Happy Father’s Day to men who are going to become dads for the first time, and dads who are raising their kids alone. Do right by your kids and respect the women who made you fathers.

To my own beloved father, Bob Angel, I love you and miss you every day. I want to call you and tell you what is going on and have you guide me. I will never be too old to need you, and I will never stop missing you. Your children love you and your grandchildren are perfect pieces of you, carrying on your legacy and keeping you alive. We love you Dad, and we know you are watching, so we are keeping the faith.

 

Motherhood 101: The Jurassic Movies

The original Jurassic Park came out in 1993. I remember seeing it and being scared to death. I’m not one to see big budget action/adventure movies like that, but it was a big deal movie so I went. It was the only one of the trio I saw in the theater. My son was born in 1996 and I watched Jurassic Park 1, 2, and 3 with him at home on VHS tape beginning when he was about 5 years old. 

I thought he was too young, but we watched, he held onto me occasionally, but overall was more fascinated than scared. He thought the dinosaurs were everything. He became an instant fan and obsessed with the T-Rex. We bought books, action figures, clothes and posters as his love affair with all things Jurassic began. I was even scared watching it years later on TV, but my son was mesmerized. 

When the first one came out I was working at Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, which was located on the Universal Studios lot. My son waited a long time to meet the height requirements for the park’s Jurassic Park Ride. When he was tall enough he rode it a lot. By a lot of course I mean the operators knew my kid by name. He would ride 10 times in a row. I could manage 3 rounds, then he’d go over and over again by himself, waving as he plummeted down.

My son had seen the Jurassic Park movies countless times, but never on the big screen until Jurassic World. It is a moment in my motherhood I treasure because we saw it together. Now with the arrival of Jurassic World 2, I can tell you we saw it last night and it was great. I jumped a lot, but my son simply sat in wonder. It is a very good movie, Chris Pratt is great in it, and I recommend seeing it.  It makes me happy that these movies continue to be something special that is just ours. Ours and a gazillion other people, but you know what I mean.

With so many movie franchises during his lifetime, there were some we went to, and others he went to with his dad, but Jurassic has always been just ours. We have shared these movies together and still talk about watching them when he was little. He still has some of the toys from his childhood, and remembers his dinosaur themed birthday parties. I remember like yesterday when he realized Barney was just a Jurassic Park wannabe.

It feels like just yesterday that I watched Jurassic Park with my son and I can recall with real clarity his expression of wonderment as he never once took his eyes off the screen. I remember buying him Jurassic Park toys for Hanukah and him being so excited he screamed out how much he loved me and jumped up and down saying he could not believe what was happening. I have a real affection for these movies as they have helped define my life as a mother.  

My baby boy is 22 years old now, but when I look over at him watching the dinosaurs, I will flash back to him being 5, sitting on the couch, holding my hand, and staring in wonder as if they were real. He may never understand how important seeing these movies is to me, and probably thinks I’m ridiculous for insisting we see them together, but that is okay. My heart will be full, my pulse will be racing, dinosaurs will arrive, time will stand still, and I will be keeping the faith.

Chicken Run

Last week as I began my drive to work, on the same route I always take, I made a right hand turn and almost ran into a chicken. I thought it was a joke at first and looked around to see where the hidden cameras were, but all I saw was another chicken, just hanging out on the street. I put my hazard lights on and got out of the car, where I was quickly met by a rooster and another chicken. They were just walking around, talking quietly amongst themselves, and not at all spooked by the cars or people who had gathered to stare at them.

There were now three cars stopped, all trying to shoo the chickens off the road. They were the cutest things and I wanted to put them in my car and take them home. As we looked around trying to figure out where they came from, I thought about the movie Chicken Run and wondered if they were trying to escape. If you have not seen that movie, you should. It is fantastic and all I could think about as I followed chickens up the road. I looked around the neighborhood, and even knocked on the door of the house they were outside of, but no luck.

There were now 7 chickens in the street, so I called LA Animal control to ask what I should do. I was told there had been no other calls about them, but if people started to call that they were a traffic hazard, they would send someone out. I asked what would happen to them, and was told they would be euthanized! I quickly hung up, certain the chicken killers were tracking my location, and tried to get the chickens off the road. After about 15 minutes of chicken wrangling, I sadly needed to leave to get to work and was bummed to leave them.

I have been worried about the chickens, but am certain the owners realized they had flown the coop and have them safely back at home. I have been a vegetarian for about ten years and after encounters like I had with the chickens, I am glad I am. Every morning I take the same route, hoping to see them again, and next time I will be prepared. I have a bag of bread crumbs in my car, and if I come across them, they will get a snack. Should one accidently jump into my car, what can I do? I’ll take it home, introduce it to the cat, and keep the faith.

Dating 101: Curse of the Blog

Last night I met a man after work for a drink. We met online, emailed once, exchanged numbers, and spoke yesterday. It was a fun conversation and I found him to be very entertaining. In the interest of not overthinking and being spontaneous, we decided to meet for a drink. He came to my neighborhood, which I always appreciate. I arrived first, found us a spot at the bar, and waited.

He arrived and any interest I had going into the date disappeared. Oh dear. He looked like his pictures, and was clear on how tall he was, but the issue was that he arrived from the gym. Not a big deal, unless he opts not to shower or change clothes. He was soaked with sweat, smelled like a pig, and had the balls to go in for a hug. I extended my hand and cringed when he went in for cheek kiss.

He smelled horrible and I was truly surprised he thought this was an acceptable way to turn up to a first meeting with a woman. The weird thing was he never mentioned it at all. He simply asked what I wanted to drink, placed an order, and jumped into casual first date conversation. I was grossed out, but slightly amused, so I asked him how his work out was. He said he had run to our date. Literally.

He ran the 9.5 miles from his place to the bar. He said he ran to me thinking if we hit it off I could drive him home. He then proceeded to tell me he is an avid reader of my blog and was sorry I had been dating so many losers. He told me I was funny, smart, pretty, and worthy of a nice Jewish guy. He said perhaps he was the one to turn it around for me. He said timing is everything and this was our time.

I sat looking at a man who was literally dripping in sweat, marveling at his chutzpah, when he asked me if I wanted another drink. As I contemplated whether I could manage one more round with this strange man, he told me my hair was beautiful and he looks forwad to “pulling it while we make love”.  I was shocked by what he said and he took my moment of silence to mean I wanted another round and ordered.

I pulled myself together and told him I didn’t think we were a match, but appreciated him coming out for a drink. He then gave me a passionate speech about my blogs and what he thought about my dating life. He mentioned men by name, told me what was wrong with them, what I did wrong on my dates, and concluded by telling me I’d be a better dater if I was having sex as it would make me free.

I sat in wonder as he rattled off his opinion of the last year of my life. It was as fascinating as it was creepy. It was interesting to hear a man’s perspective on my life, until I snapped out of it and realized I was not listening to man as much as I was listening to a pig. He concluded his lengthy speech by saying if I didn’t want to date him, we could just sleep together so I’d be more attractive to others.

I thanked him for the insight and told him that while I appreciated the offer of sex, I would have to pass. I wished him well, payed for my own drinks, and told him I needed to go. He then said he was going to pop into the restroom and would be right back so I could drive him home. I think I actually laughed out loud at that point and told him I would be gone when he got out of the bathroom.

The most interesting thing about this date is that is was the most interesting date I have had in a long time. It is not every day a man offers to have sex with you in order to make you more attractive to others. This is the curse of the blog. As I approach my tenth year of Keeping the Faith, for the first time I see an end in sight. I’m not sure if it will be the end of the blog or the end of my dating, but change is coming. For now I will keep dating, keep writing, and keep the faith.

Morgan Freeman: Good Man, Bad Flirt

I think Morgan is a pervy old man who innocently flirted with women. Based on the news we are hearing, I simply do not think he should be taken down the path of being a man who has sexually assaulted women. By comparison, I think Donald Trump is a sexual predator who has no boundaries. I mean no disrespect to any woman who has been assaulted, belittled, manipulated, intimidated, raped, or had her career damaged by men who abuse power, but we are walking on a tightrope and damage is done with one accusation, so we must be clear on not only what we are saying, but how we say it. These are sensitive times.

There is a difference between being a man who does not know how to flirt, and a man who knows what he is saying and doing is wrong, but does it anyway. In watching interviews with Mr. Freeman where he is accused of harassment, I just don’t see it. I don’t see how anyone would see it as anything other than an old man flirting. I’m not saying he should be excused because he is old, but there is something charming about what he said and the way he said it. At the end of the day he is rich and famous, but he is also just an 80-year-old man and the CNN reporter has made ridiculous accusations.

Sexual harassment is not what Mr. Freeman did, and CNN is trying to spin nothing into something, but the something is nothing. I hope this story goes away and Mr. Freeman is not adversely affected by this desperation. I welcome Mr. Freeman to flirt with me and would happily flirt back. Only difference is that I would be good at it. Bless him. Important to note I am in no way trying to dissuade women from coming forward, or questioning a woman’s truth. I am simply saying that for this particular man, and this particular instance, there is nothing to see here folks. I stand with women and also stand with Morgan Freeman.

We live in a time when people are encouraged to be brave and come forward with their experiences. It has been a long time coming and for someone who dealt with this 30 years ago, I am in awe of these changes. Thirty years ago I was the victim of a violent sexual assault and the experience of going to the police, pressing charges, and going through two trials was ultimately more difficult that the actual assault. I marvel at the strides we have taken, but know we have a long way to go. I am a woman of prayer so I will pray for those who come forward, pray for those falsely accused, and pray we continue to move forward while keeping the faith.

 

Memorial Day 2018

Every single day, including this Memorial Day, someone will die or be injured while serving this country on our behalf.  It is our duty to remember this weekend is about the troops, past and present, and not just about a BBQ or day off of work. It’s important to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our armed forces.

Remember those who are overseas.  Remember those here at home.  Remember those who are coming home injured. Remember those who are getting ready to go.  Remember every single person who has ever put on a uniform and served the United States. They dedicate their lives to service so we can live ours. To every man and woman who is serving in the armed services, every mother and father who has a child serving, every child who has a parent serving, every family who is waiting for someone to come home, and every family who has lost a member of their family, thank you.

There are kids serving who are younger than my own child.  There are men and women serving who are missing their kids.  It is a huge sacrifice to be in the military.  I can’t wrap my head around what it must feel like to be on a plane heading overseas, or on a plane coming home, but I imagine heading in either direction is scary.

If you see someone in uniform stop and say thank you. Let them know you appreciate what they do for us. Thank you to everyone who sacrifices every day to make this a great country. Your bravery and sacrifices are valued and matter. You are in our hearts, we are waiting for you to come home, pray for you, and are keeping the faith.

 

Dating 101 – The Last Word of Caution

I have written a couple of times this weekend about Benjamin. He is a man I spoke to for a week, made plans to meet, and then I was 30 minutes late for our first in person meeting due to insane Friday night LA traffic. After letting him know I’d be late, twice, and chatting on the phone while I was stuck in traffic, when I arrived he stood up, gave me a hug, sat down, and told me he was pissed off I was late and was leaving. Our meeting lasted about 40 seconds. This is after we spoke for endless hours on the phone before the meeting.

I drove 2 hours in traffic to meet a Frisbee player for 40 seconds. Annoying to be sure, and it totally hurt my feelings, but I took comfort in the comments I received from my readers when I wrote about it. People were kind when he couldn’t be, which was wonderful and made me feel better. It is impossible to have an experience like this and not take it personally. We’d been getting to know each other, had a great connection, then he saw me in person and bailed. I was late. I didn’t stop to kill someone on my way, I was just late. I don’t get his reaction.

Important to note that we met at a place between our two homes in the valley. I drove 2 hours from the Palisades, (Sunset Boulevard was a nightmare), but he drove to the meeting from his home, which in horrible traffic was about five-minutes away. I could assume he saw me and changed his mind, but that doesn’t really make sense, and why does it need to be something about me that made him go? The honest truth is I am beautiful, funny, and kind. Having a cup of tea with me would have been easy. He simply made a choice to be a douchelord.

Or, maybe it wasn’t a choice, maybe he is just a schmuck. Maybe he is rude, elitist, selfish, weird, and emotionally stunted. So different from what I thought about him BEFORE we met. This is the guy who is going to blame you for everything. He is controlling and intimidating, confusing and scary. He did me a favor by leaving, even though it wasn’t him who left. I got up and left. He was still sitting at the table when I drove by. Perhaps waiting for his next date. This is not a nice guy and I didn’t see it at first. Or did I?

Reviewing our conversations before we met, I thought he was great. Thinking back on our conversations after we met, he said some strange things, but I didn’t hear it because I heard what I wanted to hear. There is a lesson in this humiliation. We need to pay attention when dating. If there is a red flag, don’t tuck it away in the hopes you are misreading it. If you sense something is off, believe yourself. When you are dating it is easy to talk yourself into something you know in your gut is not good. I am embarrassed he was done after seeing me, but I don’t think it was me. He was enraged I was late and he took it as disrespectful. That is scary.

This was about him not me, but it doesn’t make the embarrassment any less. Dating is hard, and there are no guarantees, but it should not be hurtful. If someone is unkind, walk away. If someone talks unkindly about an ex, walk away. If someone blames you for things that are not your fault, walk away. In the course of 6 days this man charmed me, made me think I had been rude, made me think I needed to apologize, then ended our first meeting after 40 seconds because I disrespected him by being late. That is crazy and I can hardly believe it happened to me. For a minute I thought about taking down the blogs I wrote about him and simply erasing the experience, but that isn’t how I roll. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am a smart girl and it is fascinating I didn’t catch the red flags when they first appeared. Someone might read this and think I am overreacting and it was just a bad date, but I don’t think so. This is a horrible guy. This is not about having the last word, as much as it is about sharing words of caution. We are all in this together and as a woman searching for love, I sometimes stumble. My readers have picked me up every time I’ve fallen, and so I am swallowing my pride, exposing the ugly side of dating, and hoping it helps someone else keep the faith.

Dating 101 – Timing is Everything

This morning I posted a blog about a man named Benjamin. We have been talking for a few days on the phone and made a plan to meet for coffee after work today. I was looking forward to spending time with him all day. I found him to be clever and quick and I was excited about meeting in person. When we made the plan last night on the phone and I immediately had a flash of worry about the time.

There is a lot of traffic on a Friday afternoon and my ride home is long on a good day, so I should have made the plan for 6:30, but I wasn’t really thinking about it being Friday and agreed to six. Traffic was a nightmare and I was running late. I texted him to say I was would be 15 minutes late because of traffic. I should have called, but I was on the phone with work, so I texted.

I was in a bit of a panic about being late. As soon as I got off the phone with work I called Benjamin to say I was stuck on the 101 and crawling to him. I decided to get off the freeway and take surface streets, but I was still very late. I arrived to our 6:00 meeting at almost 6:30. Painfully late and rather embarrassed about it, but when I saw him I quickly forgot about how late I was.

He stood, we hugged and began to chat. He then told me he was pissed off that I was late not only once, but twice. I was late when I pushed to 6:15, then late again when I arrived at almost 6:30. He said he was going to leave. I was stunned for a second and apologized again, telling him it took me 2 hours to get to him, but he was done. He had no interest in talking or spending time with me.

I said I was sorry again, and then I left. I walked back to my car and when I drove past the restaurant I saw him sitting where we had met and I burst into tears. I am now home, still crying, and mad at myself for all the crying. I simply do not understand the need to be mean to someone, particularly someone you don’t even know when we had been having a lovely time getting to know each other.

I have arrived to a date and had someone be late, but I stayed. I have arrived to a date only to find a quadriplegic with a breathing tube, but I stayed. I have arrived to a date with a man who failed to mention he only had one arm, but I stayed. It is kindness. It would have taken no effort to put aside his anger at my tardiness and had a cup of tea. His decision was simply mean and hurt my feelings.

It could have been that he saw me and used my being late as a way to cut the date off. Perhaps I was too short, or hated my blog, or simply found me unattractive, but he still could have had a cup of tea. We had spoken for hours on the phone and twenty minutes more over a cup of tea would have been nice. Perhaps he would have forgotten about my late arrival, or not, but it would have been kind.

I am sad because I like him. It is that simple, I like him. When someone shows you who they are however, you must believe them the first time, and he has shown who he is. That said, I get it. It is a sign of disrespect to be late for a meeting and perhaps my nerves caused me to act like I didn’t care about being late, but that could not be further from the truth. I respect him, his time, my time, and I am sorry.

At the end of the day timing is everything I suppose. I am sad, but it won’t last. There is nothing like a real life fairytale wedding to give me hope. Mazel Tov to Meghan and Harry. Dating is hard and while I am feeling a bit sorry for myself right now, I also feel sorry for Benjamin that this was his choice. He lost out on me, and I am fabulous. This too shall pass, so I am keeping the faith.

Dating 101: Jaded but Hopeful

This week I was asked out by a yet another man in a dress, one in his eighties, one who posted jail pictures, and one who has a dog named Ned. By Ned, of course I mean his name is N.E.D. as in No Erectile Dysfunction. Important to note when he wrote to tell me what NED stood for, he spelled dysfunction wrong, which I found to be sad and hilarious. My dating life continues to be entertaining and pathetic. I’m exhausted from all the eye rolling I do.

Over the weekend I received an email from a man we will call “Benjamin”. Benjamin wrote me a short but sweet note. I responded, we briefly emailed, then moved on to phone calls. He is entertaining, funny, educated, open, honest, Jewish, a dad, good with banter, and attractive if he actually looks like his pictures. Over email he was very clever, which I find appealing. He drew me in with a wonderful combination of boyish charm and sarcastic smartass. I was interested.

He is very aware of who he is, what he needs, and how he is going to get what he wants. He is articulate and not afraid to speak his mind, which I find to be very attractive. He is a lot like me to be honest, which is interesting and strange. I like who I am and there are parts of my personality I think are wonderful, and the more we talk, the more I see similarities, which is fascinating because we are very different. It makes him both intriguing and intimidating.

I have been down this “pre-dating” road before and as you all know, and it never turns out well. I have pre-dated men who I was certain I was connecting with, only to meet them and have there be no connection at all. Pre-dating is tricky, somewhat necessary, yet useless. I’ve been divorced for 22 years. I have dated, had three important relationships, and had my heart broken. I want to believe each experience got me closer to my bashert, but that isn’t always easy to do.

I want to find love, share my life, go on adventures, and have a partner. I want my son to see me in a relationship with a man who loves me in the same way I love him. I want my son to see me happy in a way that he wants for himself. I have a wonderful life and sharing it is the goal, but it is a hard game to play, so goals can be elusive. I remain hopeful, which is frankly a miracle because I know many who have stopped trying. But enough about me, let’s get back to Benjamin.

We were texting and he responded to something I sent in a way that hurt my feelings. I wrote back with what I thought was a clever reply. I suppose I was thinking about only my feelings, so it never occurred to me that my response was anything other than funny and charming. What I said however, rubbed him the wrong way and he was put off. This is why texting is not good when you are getting to know someone, as interpretations are most often wrong. I am not a fan of texting and try to avoid it whenever possible.

Then yesterday something funny happened and I wrote to tell him about it. (We don’t know each other well so I wasn’t sure if I could call him the middle of a work day, thus the text.) He wrote back telling me to give him a call. I called, we chatted for a minute, then he said he wanted to talk about the text exchange. He told me how he interpreted my text, which was not good. He thought it was rude and condescending, which of course was not my intention, but in retrospect I could see how he might have thought it was. He then explained how he thought I had interpreted his text, which he understood, but felt was wrong.

It is truly interesting to be dealing with a grown up. He didn’t sulk, he didn’t disappear, he wasn’t an ass, he simply wanted to talk about it in a kind and open way. He is an advanced communicator, as am I, which I appreciate. We talked, each taking time to explain ourselves, both apologized for the miscommunication, agreed texting is not a good way to communicate, and moved on. He handled the situation with maturity, which I respect. It was a pleasant surprise to hit a bump, talk about it, and have it be done.

At the end of the day I have no idea what I am doing. I am jaded but hopeful, and blessed that hope is in the lead. I am old enough to know exactly who I am and I am searching for someone who is secure with who he is, so that we make sense. Benjamin seems like a good guy, but also very complicated, so we’ll see how it plays out. We are meeting today, and I have no idea how it will go, but there is pre-dating flutter that is lovely. I could be wrong, as I most often am, so all I can do is just roll with it, relax, and focus on keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

When I woke up this morning I went into my son’s old room, crawled into his old bed, snuggled up with his old cat, and let my old body go back to sleep. It was fantastic! This is the first Mother’s Day in 22 years I didn’t wake up and see the face of my delicious boy. He has his own apartment now, but will be here any minute. We are spending the day together and I cannot wait.

He is taking me out for lunch at the beach, followed by some painting at Color Me Mine (our Mother’s Day tradition), then we are heading to the LAFC game. He has it all planned out and I am excited for every minute we will be together. I love my kid. I have raised him on my own and it has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. He is a wonderful human being and my absolute favorite person.

I have learned to love my empty nest, but look forward to his coming home. I am blessed that he comes home often, usually with laundry, but that is cool. We are very good friends, always have been, but have managed to keep a respectful line drawn in the sand that maintains my role as his mother. I am a very lucky girl, but also an awesome mom. Yay for me! Yay for moms on our day!

To all the mothers, enjoy this day! Be kind to yourself. We can be tough on ourselves, and are our own worst critics, but we must take time today to be proud. Proud of not only our children, but of ourselves. Being a mother is hard. Being a single mother is tough. Being a Jewish mother is exhausting. We are remarkable. Happy Mother’s Day! Be safe, enjoy your kids, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment

Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Laura Ben-David

Laura Ben-David
“HOPE,” 2014

A farewell party in Manipur, India, for Bnei Menashe Jews who were about to make aliyah. “Hope” is part of the international exhibition “Passage to Israel,” at the Sagamore Hotel in the South Beach area of Miami Beach through May 30, as part of a three-month “Peace 70” initiative (passagetoisrael.org).

Recycling & Spaceships

Yesterday morning as I headed out to the farmer’s market, I came across a man rummaging through my garbage. He looked up as I approached, made direct eye contact, and said good morning. I said good morning in return, and kept walking. It was a little awkward and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I carried on. When I got in my car I noticed a water bottle in my cup holder, so I grabbed it and went back to the trash. I approached the man and gave him the bottle for his recycling.

He thanked me for the bottle, told me I was a nice lady, and said he hoped I had a good day. I felt an odd need to speak with him, so I asked if he was having a profitable morning. He explained he had been out collecting for a couple hours and was doing fine. He said he believed in recycling, but appreciated when people forgot to recycle and he came across a lot of bottles. He said he was surprised people don’t recycle better, seeing as we were in the state of California.

We ended up speaking for about ten minutes and it was really interesting. We talked about the weather, the president, cruelty to animals, and how important a good pillow is for your neck. It was a little strange, but also lovely. At the end of the day we were the same. Two people who work hard, have opinions, and have value. It was enlightening and I felt connected to a stranger, which doesn’t happen often, but is always a possibility. Our time together somehow felt important.

I told him it was nice speaking with him and asked if I could give him some money to get something to eat. The question immediately changed his demeanor and I felt that he was now irritated. I panicked a bit and told him I didn’t mean to offend him in any way, and was sorry. He looked confused and closed his eyes. I was now a little frightened and told him it was okay and de didn’t need to take the money. He then thanked me for the offer and asked if he could save the money.

I told him he could do whatever he wanted with it. I explained it was a gift and he could spend it, save it, or give it away, because it was his money. I reached out and passed him $10.00. He thanked me with sincerity, smiled, and was relaxed again. He then told me he would save it and eat on his next visit because he didn’t have time to eat as he was worried he would miss the spaceship that was coming to pick him up. I smiled in return and wished him well with his work and his travels.

I haven’t stopped thinking about him since we met. I’m glad we spoke and even though in retrospect it was perhaps dangerous to have engaged, if I’m scared to talk to strangers, my life would be very different. I like people. I particularly like people with stories, so I will always talk to strangers and always try to help those less fortunate. It is who I am, and who I have always been. We are all just one space ship ride away from crazy, so we should just be kind and keep the faith.

Dating 101: Highs & Lows

I had a date with a man I found to be physically and mentally attractive. He is a lovely man who is 51, never married, and has no kids. He’s worked at the same company for 30 years and is dedicated to his job. He is fiercely loyal to his friends, and has a great sense of humor. I liked him very much on the phone, and we spoke for a week before schedules allowed us to meet. When we finally managed to find a night to go out, we decided on dinner and a movie.

We met at the restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised to see he looked just like his pictures. He said he was 5’11”, I’m guessing he was closer to 5’9”, but since I’m only 5’3”, it wasn’t a big deal. We ordered a couple drinks and settled into easy conversation. We had a great time over dinner and then went into the movie. We held hands, which felt wonderful. I had taken an Uber so I could have a drink, and he offered to take me home, which I felt surprisingly comfortable with.

We left the theater and walked towards his car. We laughed together, had a kiss, and it was nice. It was a regular date, with a regular guy, and I was feeling good about it. He is not Jewish, but I am trying to think outside the dating box I have built for myself, because I’m not having luck dating within the parameters I have drawn around myself. It is scary to try new things, but I am trying, and that is what matters. One good date can change everything.

So we are strolling to the car, I’m thinking we will make out a little bit, and feeling good about the whole night. Then we got to his car and it was over. I am not a materialistic person, and I don’t care about what a man does for a living or what kind of car he has, but I simply cannot date a man who drives a purple El Camino with hydraulics. If that makes me shallow and judgmental, when then I will receive that and try to better myself, but I cannot get on board with that car.

We spoke about the car, the car groups he belongs to, the amount of car shows he goes to a year, the friends he is close to through his car club, and how his social life is woven into the car. No. I am not spending my weekends at car shows. I am also not putting my new bionic neck into a hydraulic car parade. I appreciate that this paints me in an unflattering light, but after almost a decade of sharing my life here, I am not going to start leaving stuff out just to save face.

Bumps in the road make me think I should stick to Jewish men, or just get another cat, but I need to be brave and not let this be a setback. I’m embarrassed the car was a deal breaker, but in the end it wasn’t the car as much as the lifestyle that came with it. I know who I am and what I want, so at this point in my life I need to stay true to me. One hopes each first date gets you closer to your last first date, so I am hoping and keeping the faith.

Musical Tables & Ladies Night

Last night I went to meet some ladies for dinner and drinks at Craig’s in Los Angeles. My friend Siggy Flicker is in LA from New Jersey and she always gets her LA pals together. They are lovely, accomplished, women and I enjoy spending time with them. It feels good to be in the company of smart women in a social setting. We laugh, catch up, and are supportive of each other.

I walked in ready for a Cosmo with the girls. I told the man at the front desk I was there to meet Siggy and was told she had arrived and was seated. I followed him to the dining room and saw a table with 5 women and an empty seat. One lady was looking away from me, but had long brown hair, so I assumed it was Siggy and plopped my myself down while saying hello to the group and looking for a waiter to get me a drink. (It is getting harder to find a good Cosmo in LA now that I’ve mastered the perfect one at home!)

It took about half a second to realize I had sat down at the wrong table. The women were lovely and told me to make myself comfortable. They thought it was funny I had made the mistake, and since I was already there, I decided to hang out for a minute and say hello. I explained I was meeting my friend Siggy and one of the women said she knew Sig. To my surprise, she then said she knew me too.

As we went around the table introducing ourselves, we figured out where we knew each other. Several years ago I was without plans for Thanksgiving. My friend Michael invited me to go with him to a friend’s house. I didn’t want to crash a party of people I didn’t know, but ended up joining him and having a wonderful time. The woman across from me, was the woman who hosted Thanksgiving!

I had not seen her for a few years, but she remembered me, which was lovely. She knew Michael was bringing me, knew I was a vegetarian, and had made sure there were things for me to eat. She welcomed me into her home like I was family, in the same way she welcomed me to her table at Craig’s. Lisa Gastineau you are a doll and it was great to see you again. Thank you for once again sharing your table.

I visited with Lisa and her friends, who were great, and as I was chatting to the fabulous actress Lisa Ann Walter, Siggy noticed me from her table, and came over asking what the hell was going on. I hugged my friend and told her I sat down at the wrong table and was visiting. Lisa got up to greet Siggy and it was all quite funny. We had a reunion and made introductions all around.

After about 20 minutes with Lisa and her friends, I joined Siggy and her pals at their table. Surrounded by some NBA players, Dame Joan Collins, and an actor I see in everything but never know his name, our group of 8 had a fantastic time. Craig’s has great food, terrific service, and a very good Cosmo. It is always a fun place to go, but even better when you are able to play musical tables.

Siggy is my Israeli soul sister and I love her. I’ll see her again tonight for dinner and will try to not sit at the wrong table, unless it is a table of gorgeous men. Important to note if I did sit at a table of attractive men, I can assure you it wouldn’t be by accident. I had a date this week that might take me a couple days to come to terms with. My dating life has always been entertaining, but last weekend it became unbelievable. Bloggable, but unbelievable.

I am back in a writing mood and excited to get back on track to share my life and opinions. There is a lot to talk about. I will catch you all up on my perfect Cosmo recipe, my dates, my son, my growing disgust with the President, and my plans to return to Israel for the first time in 30 years. Life is good, I am blessed, blogs are coming, and I am keeping the faith.

Cocktails and Motherhood

When my son turned 21 we went out for a drink. It was strange to have a cocktail with him and it didn’t feel as cool as I thought it would. I watched him drink a beer and all I could see was a baby drinking. It actually made me a little sad. When you have a drink with your kid you are forced to see them as a grown up, which is bittersweet. It was uncomfortable to drink with him, but at the same time I was proud my delicious baby was now a remarkable man. I am blessed to be this human’s mother and I thank God for every single moment we have together, but drinking with him was a hard pill to swallow.

I turned 52 last week and went to San Francisco for the weekend with my son. We walked, ate great food, and had a few drinks. I love a cocktail, as my readers know, and since it was my birthday, I enjoyed several libations. I started with a drink at the airport and ended with a drink at the airport. My son drank too, but it was different this time. He was still my baby, but also my friend, and it was lovely. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoys big boy drinks. His cocktails of choice are a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour. I think they taste like cough medicine.

We sat in great bars and talked about life, love, politics, and plans. We laughed and debated, and were also happily quiet together. I love him very much and he is simply my favorite human being. He makes me happy. He makes me think. He makes me grateful. He makes me want to be better. He makes me feel better. He heals me. He eases my sorrow. He is my sunshine. He is my closest confidant. I trust him. Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is really hard. Having a 22-year-old son allows me to celebrate not only my child, but also myself.

I have spent over twenty-two years being his mother and he is a wonderful human being both because of me, and in spite of me. I have had moments of real greatness as a mother, along with moments of epic failure, but all of them led to now, and now is good. My son is terrific and he loves me. He enjoys my company, asks me for advice, heeds my advice, and makes good choices. I won’t make a habit of having cocktails with my boy, but when it does happen I will embrace the moment. We worked hard to get here and having a cocktail with my son is all about keeping the faith.

 

 

Racism at Starbucks

I go to Starbucks most mornings during my work week. I order my drink via the mobile app and drive by before jumping on the freeway. My Starbucks of choice is very close to two schools and on any given morning there are a lot of kids there. For every one kid that orders a drink, there are three kids just hanging out. They don’t buy anything, just sit, loudly, and wait for the one kid who is getting a drink.

They use every chair, unaware of anyone but themselves, white, and loitering. In the years I’ve been going to Starbucks I have not only never seen anyone get arrested, I’ve never seen an employee of Starbucks ask one of these annoying kids to leave. I have personally waited at Starbucks without buying a drink many times. I’ve waited for friends, or a blind date, and never been asked to leave or been arrested, no matter how long I sit there.

I have watched the video of two young black men being arrested at Starbucks in Philadelphia and it makes me sad. Sad for not only them, but for every black mother who watches her kids walk out the door, scared of what will happen to them. It is heartbreaking.  I am proud of those two young men for walking out with their heads held high during the humiliating and blatantly racist arrest that happened to them.

I was not there, and I do not know the motivation of the phone call to police, but I am not going to Starbucks this week. It is my way of supporting these two young men. It may seem silly, but it is a way for my voice to be heard, and that is what we all need to do. It is dangerous to be black in America and that should break all of our hearts. Skip going to Starbucks this week. Rise up and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

Am I as happy as Leann Rimes?

This blog is lovingly sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

I retired my “Keeping it Real” blog in 2017 after 8 long years. I wrote about pop culture, celebrity, and reality television, and it was frankly exhausting to keep up with everything going on in those worlds. My life changed for the better when I put it to bed. My schedule is no longer controlled by television, and I don’t pay much attention to celebrities. I write Keeping the Faith, and it is wonderful because I LOVE that blog. I have been chronicling my life and sharing my world view for almost a decade and it makes me happy to know my son, and one day my grandchildren, will read everything. It will provide a clear understanding of who I was, what I believed, and my world view. Keeping the Faith matters to me and while I sometimes miss Keeping it Real, not writing it does not mean I am not still keeping it real, which brings me to today’s subject, Leann Rimes.

I used to write about Leann Rimes quite often for Keeping it Real. I find Ms. Rimes to be an interesting subject to write about. Not that she is particularly interesting, but her mental health is truly fascinating. She has been in the public eye for decades and when you look at her when she first became famous, you cannot help but wish good things for her. She was ridiculously talented and painfully awkward. A sweet little girl with crazy parents you just knew were undoubtedly going to screw her over. As she grew up, and had scattered moments of success, I hoped she had come out of her childhood unscathed, but in the end she was damaged in ways that have caused her to unravel as an adult. Sadly, she was too simple to keep the madness private and instead decided to invite us all along for the ride. Bless her. Leann Rimes is brilliantly unstable.

What I find most fascinating is that after she chose to share her tragic choices with the masses, she began to get upset when people had opinions of her she did not like. I happen to think she is delusional, and since she is the one who gave me that impression, I wrote about it. Important to note I wasn’t the only one to write about her in an honest and perhaps unflattering way, but I was the one she targeted for revenge. Leann Rimes read my blogs like her life depended on it, and let me know in countless ways that she was trying to make me stop. When I think about Leann thinking she was the reason I stopped writing Keeping it Real, it makes me feel warm inside and laugh hard. She had nothing to do with why I stopped, and everything to do with why I am bringing it back today for a special bonus blog.

Recently an old blog I wrote about her resurfaced and some people read it for the first time. When I saw it going around on social media I read it too, and thought it was quite great. I am a gifted and funny writer on a bad day, but rather brilliant on a Leann Rimes day. About an hour after the old blog was retweeted, I started to get messages from Leann Rimes fans and they were not happy. By “they” of course I mean I think it is actually only one person, with several accounts, who may or may not be an employee of Ms. Rimes. Allegedly. This person went in and let me know I was a talentless and disgusting human being who was so jealous of Leann Rimes I could not function properly. Apparently I can only dream about being as happy as Leann Rimes is. It got me thinking about Leann and our history together. It led to this blog and the question of the day: Am as I happy as Leann Rimes?

It is a silly question of course, because Leann Rimes is not a happy person. She is miserable and lives her life with a constantly broken heart. She desperately wants someone to love her, and someone did, but she chose to give up everything for a man who is, as I write, not thinking about her. Not even a little bit. Allegedly. I have loved a man that much and had him not love me back, and it is crushing in a way that is hard to recover from. I can understand her staying in it rather than have it be over, but her instability is about a lot more than her marriage. Her issues stem from everyone wanting something from her. She does not matter, allegedly, to the people in her life and so perhaps the bigger question should be: Is Leann Rimes as happy as I am? I would actually love to talk to Ms. Rimes about happiness, but even thinking about talking to her might get me arrested.

I am not only happy, I am blessed. I have survived cancer, twice. Just had surgery on my neck with a remarkable outcome. I am mother to who can only be described as a truly wonderful human being. I am beautiful, funny, talented, and have the best hair! I have a great family, terrific friends, and an amazing job. I believe in love and search for it with an open heart, not an open wallet. Important to note more people read my blog than attend Ms. Rimes parking lot concerts series or buy her albums. One would think she would be smart enough to save and invest her money, rather than spend it on legal fees to try and shut me up, but I think we have established she is not a particularly bright girl. Bless her. I have nothing against Leann Rimes. I am just a writer, one she isn’t a fan of, and therefore when bored, she obsesses over me. It is kind of sweet. Bless her.

I wish only good things for Leann Rimes and my door is always open to her. I would happily chat with her so she can understand I am not the enemy and she gives me far too much power in her life. Instead of “reimagining” songs from 30 years ago, she should look forward and dream bigger for herself. Instead of wasting money on cease and desist letters, she should get a divorce lawyer and save herself. Instead of spending time in parking lots over the summer, she should spend time in a wellness retreat rediscovering her value. Instead of dreaming about being a mother, she should become one and even do it on her own. Instead of wasting her time obsessing over me, she should obsess over herself. Am I as happy as Leann Rimes? No I am not. Thank God.  Is Leann Rimes as happy as me? No, but she could be. I am counting my blessings, heading back to Keeping the Faith, and keeping it real.

Happy Shabbat Birthday to Me

I am turning 52 this weekend. While not one to make a big deal about my birthday, this one feels important. It has been an interesting few years. By interesting, of course I mean difficult and enlightening. I dealt with cancer, neck surgery, my son moving out, changing jobs after a decade, and a very close friend of mine passing away after a valiant fight. It was all rather exhausting and to add insult to injury, as each challenge was tackled and overcome, another challenge was placed in front of me. I am a tough girl, but even I was brought to my knees on more than one occasion.

April 7th, 2018 will mark a new beginning, and it has been a long time coming. As I begin my 52nd year, there is nothing looming over me. I am completely healthy for the first time in three years. I am embracing my empty nest in ways I never thought I would. I have learned the important lesson of never coloring my own hair or cutting my own bangs, instead leaving it to the professionals. I have mastered the art of making the perfect Cosmopolitan. I am aware of my own worth. Most importantly, I know I am a wonderful human being,  terrific mother, and getting better with age.

My life is blessed and I have nothing to complain about. How awesome is that? I am going to go to services tonight and pray with my rabbi because she brings me real joy. Tomorrow I will celebrate my birthday in San Francisco with my son. We will explore a city that matters to us, have an amazing dinner, do some birthday shopping, and have dim sum lunch in Chinatown. A 24-hour getaway with my favorite human. I will walk in the rain, and pause long enough to count my blessings between the martinis I’ll be enjoying. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Birthday to all who celebrate this weekend. Be safe and have fun. I will enjoy the weekend while keeping the faith.

Passover with the LAFD

Last Friday was the first night of Passover.  I got home from Seder, after hours of cooking and cleaning, and settled into a luxurious bath. As I soaked in lavender bubbles, feeling completely relaxed, my smoke detector started to beep. For a quick second I thought about ignoring it because the bath was so good, then snapped out of it and jumped out to see what was going on.

There didn’t appear to be a fire, so I changed the batteries in the smoke detector. When the new batteries were in it resumed beeping, only this time it detected carbon monoxide. I thought perhaps the unit was simply not working and took the batteries out, thinking I’d deal with it the next day. As I got ready for bed I worried I made the wrong decision.

I called 911 and was transferred to the Los Angeles Fire Department. I explained what had happened with the smoke detector and asked what they thought I should do. They told me it was better to be safe than sorry and were on the way. I worried I was taking their time away from someone who was dealing with an actual fire, but was grateful they were coming to check things.

I waited outside for the firetruck to arrive and when it did I was a bit overwhelmed. It is intimidating to have them come to your home, and when they get off the truck and each one is more attractive than the one before, it takes your breath away. I simply do not think there is such a thing as an unattractive firefighter. Each one of these men were absolutely gorgeous.

As they walked in the lead firefighter told me I had a beautiful home, and it made me feel proud. It has been hard getting adjusted to my empty nest and I have slowly been turning my home into a place that reflects more of me as a woman and less of me as a mom, so to have him acknowledge that it looked nice, mattered to me and I felt happy. It was kind of him to say.

They told me it was good that I called because people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. They assured me it was their job to check what was going on and I should not feel that I had bothered them. They were inside my home for about 10 minutes, confirmed there was no danger, but that the smoke detector was malfunctioning and needed to be thrown out and replaced.

I appreciate the work these brave men and women do. I slept well knowing I was safe and there was nothing to worry about. I hope everyone had a safe and happy start to Passover, and I send my thanks to the Los Angeles Fire Department. To the ridiculously attractive men who came to make sure I was okay, it was a pleasure staring at you. Stay safe out there and keep the faith.

Weekend of Faith

This weekend marks an important time for people of many faiths.  It is Passover and also Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I am someone whose life is made easier with faith. I’m also one that does not judge people based on faith. The way I see it, faith allows us to lean on something bigger than ourselves, and if it gives us peace, then how we view the higher power doesn’t matter. Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing. It does not need to always be about religion.

I hope those who celebrate the holidays of this weekend will find peace within their faith.  For me, the weekend is about prayer.  Prayers of thanks for my Jewish life, prayers of thanks for my blessed life, and prayers of thanks for the health and happiness of my family and friends. I’m counting my blessings, embracing the history of my people, and taking comfort in the power of so many human beings on the planet praying at the exact same time. It is quite beautiful.

Take time this weekend to be kind to a stranger. Share blessings with people in need and let your faith inspire you to bring light to someone in the dark. Listen to a child laugh, reach out to someone you miss, ease someone’s sorrow, know struggles will pass, make a new plan, love someone, be aware, be happy, be brave, cry tears of joy, hug like you mean it, and enjoy the delicious holiday food. Enjoy the weekend. Celebrate, reflect, and keep the faith.

 

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 jewishjournal.com.