Benihana is Kosher for Pesach Right?

04.6.12

At 7pm we realize that we are hungry and there’s no way in the world I’m cooking dinner. In other households this might not be a 7pm revelation but in ours we are constantly surprised by our hunger at the dinner hour.

Noting that it’s both Good Friday and the first night of Passover we think Benihana! because it’s impossible to go there last minute on any other night and planning for Benihana would be downright depressing. If I’m going to plan a steak and lobster dinner it’s going to be BOA not a cheezy but oddly delicious chain.

It takes me until almost 7.20 to get my act together and logon to their website but we have success and score an 8pm table for four. Alexander’s little buddy is spending the night and we walk into the most goyisha night ever.

The boys are chatting and Mr. G and I have a few minutes for adult conversation. It’s interesting because even in a noisy place we’re able to tune the rest of the world out and just be us. Half a lifetime later and I still can’t get enough of him.

We’ve got some big decisions to make as a couple and Mr. G is asking my advice and I realize that I don’t really have any to give. I’m in this bizarre situation of being married and being half of a household with no actual ability to keep said household afloat with anything but family dinners and purchasing decisions. I mean technically I have a career but it’s just not the one that could support the life we are living.

So I sip a second or perhaps a third glass of wine and tell him that I’m not sure that what I’ve done is smart. I say, “We’ve spent a small fortune on private schools for Jane and it’s only going to get more expensive and what if she goes to college and then to grad school and then she decides that she’s just going to stay home and support her husband’s career and be totally out of control of what comes in?”

And Mr. G looks at me and says, “What if Alexander finds some rich girl and decides not to work.”

“That’s not what men do.” I say while emptying that uncounted glass of wine.

“You’re a chauvinist.” He smirks.

And I am. And I realize that I’ve beaten the odds with almost 15 years of marriage in a very unequal household. It’s dumb, on paper I’d never recommend that either of my children commit their lives to this. I’d be horrified if my son decided against a career but only worried if my daughter did. In reality I can’t imagine my life any other way.

Seder tomorrow. Benihana tonight.

 

Oprah Wants My Life and I Do Too

04.4.12

Last week I met Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She was everything I expected and my expectations were high.

While in St. Louis six of us were allowed to interview Oprah except we didn’t have cameras or even paper and pen. The team from OWN ran video and I’m hopeful that it will air as part of their behind the scenes features online.

Everyone introduced themselves to Ms. Winfrey and it became abundantly clear why she owned the airwaves for the more than two decades. When Oprah sets her sights on you she pulls the most relevant details out of you as if there’s a string attached and one tug from her unleashes everything. She is a remarkable woman embarking on a remarkable journey.

When Ms. Winfrey made her way to me I told her I was a blogger. I’m thinking that I was the only one in the group who didn’t have a related career. She said to me, “So you just sit around and write all day?”

“No I can’t just sit around and write all day. I have to actually do something so I have something to write about. I never miss picking my kids up from school and I never miss tennis.” I explained.

Oprah’s head whipped around in search of Sherri Salata and she said, “Sherry do you hear this? She never misses a tennis lesson. I think we’re doing something wrong here.” And then she turned to look at me and said, “You don’t need LifeClass you’re living the dream.”

And I knew she was right, because I am living the dream. The adjusted dream. The dream where we live modestly and my husband loves me and I love him just a little bit more than that and the kids love us but we secretly know that we love them more than they could ever love us because that’s the secret all parents share.

That dream.

I had a question for her and she gave me an answer I think I’ll remember for for as long as I blog. I asked Oprah how she dealt with negative feedback. I started to explain that bloggers get a lot of grief in comments and on places like twitter and her answer stunned me.

Oprah Winfrey went to on talk in detail about a woman who was mean to hear on twitter. She mentioned her name, twice. She went on to talk a little bit about the solution and quoted her friend Maya Angelou:

No one can hold a candle to the light that God shines upon you.

I think I got that quote right. It was really quite beautiful when Oprah told it to me and what struck me was that with all of her success and millions of people saying, “Oprah you changed my life, you made me better, you made my life happier.” Ms. Winfrey would still remember the name of one detractor on twitter and this made me love her a little.

It reminded me how vulnerable we can all be. It reminded me as a parent that although I may congratulate Jane on her accomplishments the things that she may remember are the failures and the criticisms. When I talk to Alexander after baseball games I need to be more aware of the good plays because it’s clear that he remembers and replays the bad ones, he doesn’t need any help with that.

I spent the day Tuesday in New York City. I did the chazzerai tour of the Lower East Side picking up wasabi peanuts from Economy Candy, tees from Katz’ Deli (and a sandwich for myself), and bagels from Kossar’s. I stopped into Ross and Daughters but I couldn’t bring myself to schlep a smoked trout on the plane. In hindsight I could have, the flight was all Chasidim and I could smell deli food everywhere.

I went uptown and found a pair of shoes at Bergdorf’s and then headed across Fifth Avenue to grab Jane a little charm from Tiffany and Co. As I walked toward the third floor elevator a familiar voice said, “Jessica!” and we left Tiffany to have a snack and talk about our kids. It was my friend Jon who used to live in LA but now lives in one of the Carolinas (North I think?).

It’s totally normal to run into your friends 3,000 miles from home. Right?

I’m still digesting the messages of Oprah’s LifeClass. At the very moment it seemed totally irrelevant to my own life something would resonate deeply. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

Motherhood and Tummy Tucks

06.9.11

Recently the world had a collective tantrum when a mother pretended to us all that she was injecting Botox into the face of her eight year old daughter. There was the anticipated media frenzy as well as a full-fledged social media firestorm condemning the mother, condemning the pageant culture and calling for law enforcement to protect the child.

It was the reaction everyone expected. Children should not have Botox. End of story.

There are things that we do as adults that children cannot or should not do. We drink alcohol, we smoke cigarettes, we get Botox, Restalyne and Juviderm. Some people get tattoos, others spend a good amount of money removing them. We pierce our ears and we pierce our faces. There are implants to enlarge breasts, hips, buttocks, and penises. Vaginal rejuvenation is a popular surgery, though I remain puzzled by it.

When I was 27, newly married and trying to get pregnant I stopped smoking, I quit drinking soda, coffee and most processed food. I ate and drank only organic and I felt good about the decisions. My children were both born healthy and had a robust first years.

As the children separated from me physically I gave them organic baby foods, used nontoxic cleansers , guarded their sleep time and slathered them in sunscreen. I wanted to give my children the best possible chance to be physically well. At the same time I was sucking down coffee, sneaking cigarettes and never getting enough sleep.

I love my children. We love our children and we protect them. If only we could love ourselves.

At 35 I started noticing that my eyes looked a little tired and I started hearing women refer to “marionette lines” around the mouth. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw someone 35 looking back at me. I looked at my girlfriends and they looked refreshed.

Two years later they didn’t look just refreshed, they looked startled and fluffy faced. I’m not really sure how to explain what happens to a woman’s lips when they’re overly puffed up. It changes her face and as she loses clear definition of her philtrum (Cupid’s Bow) she begins to look ape like and distorted. At the same time she looks more and more like actresses of a certain age, and since they are celebrated for their beauty, this must be beautiful. We believe.

Now at 41 my phone rings. Not once or twice but a half dozen times my girlfriends call, they are planning tummy tucks and breast lifts. I suggest a really expensive bra and a girdle, but they talk about how having children ruined them and that they want to wear a bikini again. I suggest kindly that a full life can be had without wearing a bikini or that they should wear one anyhow. No one cares what we look like, we just think they do. No one listens to me and they make appointments to carve up their perfectly unbroken bodies.

Reaching utter exasperation I finally risk it all with a friend. One evening at night I let loose and lecture her. “I need you to do me a favor and go to your daughter’s bedroom. I want you to look at her while she sleeps in her bed and imagine now that while she is sleeping a doctor will cut a line around her midsection, discarding her belly button and then he’ll pull her loose skin up like a pair of pants and sew it all back together.”

She gasped. I continued, “Everything you do to your body your daughter will do to hers. Every time you disfigure yourself at the doctor’s office your daughter is watching. Does she look imperfect to you? Does she need to be fixed?” And then I went on to tell her that she was perfect and beautiful and valuable and that she needn’t hack her body to bits.

A year later she got the surgery.