Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Adult Friendships Should Be Value Added. Full Stop.

Brevity is the soul of wit, which maybe is why I’ve been shying away from longer-form blog posts lately. That, and they’ve kind of fallen out of vogue as a medium, and also I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and uninspired.

But I’ve been thinking more and more about the role of friendship in adult life; what we as adults need (and don’t need) from our friends; and what we should seek from our friendships.

I can remember a time, mostly in adolescence and young adulthood, when nothing mattered more to me than my friends. I spent a lot of time fretting over who was “mad at me” or who was on the outs with whom or how I could navigate every little social interaction to maximize the goodwill of my peers. It was insanely stressful and occupied a shitload of mental real estate, which, at the time, I could spare.

But as you get older, your priorities shift and your social circles narrow. The perils of adulting rush in to fill the void previously occupied by friend drama. You start to contemplate your own mortality amid piles of bills, professional conflicts and setbacks, marriage troubles, and child-rearing. You find that you lack the bandwidth you once had for friend bullshit, because there is enough other more pressing bullshit to go around.

I realized a long time ago that I needed to adjust my expectations of friendship for sanity’s sake. That no one person can be all things to all people; that some friendships will always be one-way streets; that moments will arise when a person’s character emerges and you learn who your real friends are and who could really give two shits about you. I long ago gave up caring who was mad at me for no good reason and decided that my standard for friendship would be based on personal boundaries and mutual well-being.

The basic metric now is value-added. Adult friendship should support and buoy the rest of your life. It should add value. It should make life easier, not harder and sadder. It shouldn’t be a drain on an otherwise stressful and chaotic existence. It should be a refuge and a harbor—not yet another storm.

Here’s to calm seas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Does Everyone Eat Like Vultures? Or Is That Just My Family?

I’ve often wondered about this, but of course I know it’s not just my family, because I’ve seen it elsewhere. At the risk of stereotyping, it’s pretty much every Jewish family I know.

Our approach to food is lurkingly ravenous, like we haven’t seen a meal in a week and know for a fact that we won’t see the next one for another week more; even though there’s a refrigerator full of food that’s being constantly monitored and inventoried by my mother: 

“We need more cheddar cheese.” “We’re out of cookies.” “I’ll start a list.” Let’s go to Fred Meyer!”

Seriously my parents beg me to take them to Fred Meyer the way I used to beg my parents to take me to Toys ‘R Us. Except instead of an E-Z Bake Oven™️, it’s Tilamook Mountain Huckleberry ice cream and a pair of Carharts.

Like where does this come from? Is it the epi-genetic trauma borne of thousands of years of wandering in a desert, eating nothing but matzah and camel jerky? Maybe hummus if we were lucky? Is it some hold-over from the lower east side tenements where we lived off pickles and kept karp in a bathtub? Is it the competition for resources inherent in urban living?

Whatever the cause, the effect is the same: when a spread of food emerges, we descend on it like vultures, circling around and periodically dive-bombing a tray of brownies or a chicken carcass. There are quite a lot of people who don’t behave this way around food. I’ve seen it mostly west of the Mississippi: people at weddings and parties and such lining up in a calm and orderly fashion for buffets. And in my head I’m just like, why aren’t they throwing elbows and taking more of a locust approach? Or at least a vulture?

No, they come for those little mini-quiches with the laidback vibe of the undesperate; like they know there will always be more mini-quiches where those came from WHEN ANYONE WITH ANY COMMON SENSE AT ALL KNOWS THAT THE ONLY HORS D’OEVRE THAT FLIES FASTER THAN THE MINI-QUICHE IS THE PIGS-IN-BLANKETS AND IF YOU DON’T GET ON THAT SHIT STAT THERE’LL BE NOTHING LEFT BUT GRAPES AND CELERY STICKS! 


Friday, February 15, 2019

16 Real National Emergencies (Hint: Not a Wall)

1.  Climate change.
2.  Income inequality.
3.  Military-grade weapons for sale to kids at Wal-Mart.
4.  A quasi-dictator who creates fake emergencies to expand the reach of his power.
5.  Citizens who are complacent with their heads in the sand.
6.  Citizens who ignore other people's suffering.
7.  Citizens who remain silent.
8.  Citizens who shrug and say "it's not my problem."
9.  Citizens who don't vote.
10. Citizens who make up every excuse imaginable for their total inaction.
11. Citizens who willingly execute the illegal, unconstitutional orders of people in power.
12. Citizens without empathy.
13. Citizens who don't question the source of the information they are receiving.

14. Citizens who think they're not next.
15. Citizens who put their heads down and do busywork while waiting for this all to pass.
16. Citizens who refuse to take real risks for the integrity of their governments.

Most of the national emergency is behind a mirror, not a wall.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

It Will Not Surprise You to Learn That I Played Rizzo in the Camp Production of Grease

“A hickey from Kanicki’s like a HAWLMAHK CARD!” 

I still remember that line from my one and only tread across the boards in my tour-de-force role as Rizzo in the 1989 sleepaway camp production of Grease.

Today, as I reflect on what must’ve been the mindset of the teenage counselors who cast me in this role, I realize it wasn’t my captivating voice or embodiment of character that won them over. Nor was it the undeniable chemistry between me and Kanicki, ably played by my best friend, Chuck, who grew up to be a professional actor and thus quickly eclipsed me in the acting arena.

Quite the opposite: Those counselors viewed me as a promiscuous semi-delinquent troublemaker, and they thought the role wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. 

In retrospect, I’m not sure how kosher it is (at least by today’s standards) to type-cast a 12 year-old girl as a chain smoker who accidentally gets pregnant? And her solo is literally just bullying another girl for being a sober virgin who doesn’t curse? And her biggest laugh line is about hickeys? All in 50s lingo that sounds super dated and weird? Like that wouldn’t fly today, right?

I didn’t ever WANT to be bad though, is the thing. I actually wanted very much to be GOOD. I tried hard to be good, but my refusal to shut up was the thing that always did me in. I liked to rile up my friends with silly stories and one-woman showmanship. I got kicked out of class for talking almost every week, it felt like. I hand-wrote stinging, poison pen letters to my romantic rivals. In short, my words got me in trouble then and they get me in trouble now.

But you know what they say. Once a Rizzo, always a Rizzo.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled is Convincing Kids That Adulting is Okay

Real Talk: we were all sold a bill of goods on adulthood, and at 41 I see why. If anyone told kids how God Awful™️ adulting is, most kids would probably lose the will to live. I mean ... let’s be honest ... the gap between what you’re told adulthood will be and what you experience as an adult could not be more vast.

WHAT YOU’RE TOLD: Follow your dreams! You can be anything you want! Maybe even an ASTRONAUT or a FIREFIGHTER! You’ll be able to make all of your own choices and have freedom to chart your own path! You can travel the world and get married and have kids and live happily ever after! YAY!

WHAT YOU ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE: Oh hi! It’s way too late to be an astronaut. You failed calculus, remember? Also you’re not brave enough to light a wood stove much less fight a structure fire in 89 lbs of equipment and an oxygen tank. Did you know that in addition to carrying your crippling student loan debt until cremation you need cost-prohibitive health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, malpractice insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, fire insurance, and maybe even avalanche insurance? Also when you have babies you will bleed for eight weeks, be unable to shit for three, and leak milk from your titties for 52. Enjoy the heartburn from that Beta blocker you swallowed without water because you were rushing to adult daycare for toiling capitalists (aka work). Here’s some mail—so sorry it’s not a present from Santa. It’s a magazine from Costco and your utility bill and a reminder to schedule a colonoscopy. What’s that smell? Carbon monoxide? Wait, carbon monoxide is the one that doesn’t have a smell, right. It’s the silent killer. Like ovarian cancer. How is that motherfucking smoke alarm STILL CHIRPING? Oh look. The dog must’ve thrown up on the carpet again. Why do we have pets anyway? Also who is this person you’re living with, whose voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard and whose very socks you hate and want to burn and the sound of whose footsteps make you cringe? Uh oh the car needs to be serviced again for its 300,000 mile servicing and the dentist is saying the kids’ fillings aren’t covered by insurance even though we paid for it isn’t that something? Hahhaha. Also your boss is an asshole because that’s in the job description for being a boss, amirite? I wonder if today’s headache is a brain tumor or just the feeling of existing ...?

It’s a fact, fam. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing kids that adulting doesn’t blow donkey nads.