Tag Archives: tolerance

The Voice Brought Us Closer Together

Voice-shirtsMy boyfriend and I watch The Voice together every Monday night. And Tuesday nights. And Wednesday nights if it’s one of their extra special shows.

He’s become quite the music aficionado. This is coming from the man who didn’t know who Joni Mitchell was when we were first dating. Yes, I judged. And yes, my boyfriend corrected me, when I thought that Joe Scarborough was the NBC newscaster. He’s not, that’s Chuck Scarborough. My point is, we are learning from one another and that’s a beautiful thing.

When we’re watching the singers, he talks about their pitch, melodies and which one of the performers has the most commanding stage presence. I do believe that he’s even uttered the word “Diva” once or twice. My being a musical theater and anything singing and dancing, FAME inspired, dork (and sometime singer myself), it turns me on.

All of this is to say that music is a universal language. How interesting it is when two people come together, bringing with them two entirely different skill sets, tool boxes and cultural references.

In the past, it has sometimes shocked me all of the crap that my boyfriend doesn’t know. And in return, I sling my crap at him, which often leaves me scratching my head and wishing that I paid more attention in school, instead of practicing my autograph on the cover of my social studies book. (Cover courtesy of my mother and her adeptness with a brown paper bag)

Naively perhaps, I thought that everyone knew who Joni Mitchell was. Sorry, last time I’ll bring that up I promise. I am sure, although I’d have to ask him, which I’m not about to do because I’m too lazy, that he would’ve assumed that I knew what a “put” option was, as well as how hedge funds work. But alas, he would’ve made an ass out of the both of us.

I spent my entire life living with, and surrounded by, people that were in the creative arts; writers, actors, musicians, dancers, performers, onstage, offstage, on camera or behind the camera. Living in Los Angeles for as long as I did, cut me off from the outside world. It is not only possible, but it is almost a foregone conclusion that living in the city of angels stunts one’s growth and limits one’s peripheral view. It did with me.

It was all that I knew. As short sighted as it may have been, I had no reason to look outside the compound. When I met my boyfriend and his kids, I thought, “What the hell is this? Don’t you guys have headshots? A resume? Who’s your agent?”

It has taken me a long time to adjust, transition, and accept the fact that not everyone is in the entertainment business and that everyone does not know what I know. When I moved back to New York, it all hit me square in the face.

At times, it takes a lot of restriction on my part not to yell at boyfriend, “How can you not know that Streisand dated Don Johnson and that they made a record together?” (enjoy)  Sometimes it’s as if we speak two entirely different languages. I’ll say, “It’s a writing gig. (beat) No, I’m not getting paid but it’s great exposure.” My boyfriend will cock his head. “I don’t understand. Why would you do anything for free?” Other times, he’ll explain that  he has to, “Do the due diligence first, and see what my return will be on the 1039. It’s in the pro-forma.” My eyes will roll back into my head.

It’s about patience, tolerance and non-judgement, which no human being is an expert at. I’m not always on my best Kabbalah behavior, so when my boyfriend doesn’t know what a Movie of the Week is, I want to open a can of, “what rock have you been living under” on his tight Portuguese ass.

This is what I’ve learned. We do not know the same shit and it is a blessing. I keep my mind and heart wide open, and I learn. And just because my boyfriend doesn’t know how debilitating it can be when your muse doesn’t show up for her appointment when you’re trying to write, it does not make him any less of a person.

I’m choosing to focus on what we do have in common. The Voice. There’s also sex. We have that in common as well, which is also a universal language, but that’s another post for another time.

"Holy Menorah Moshe"

In honor of the first night of Chanukah, which begins tomorrow, I’m re-posting this adorable tale from last year. I know it borders on lazy, but I’ve got Latke’s to make and Gelt to buy. And it’s not like anything has changed. It’s as timely now as it was 12 months ago. Sad. But true. L’Chaim.

I live in a small beach town in New Jersey and the holiday season is upon us, as evidenced by Christmas trees strapped to car roofs, and strings of lights on every friggin thing that’s not moving. I get it. But what seems to be forgotten is that this holiday season also includes Chanukah. Or that kickass of all Jewish holidays, ‘the festival of lights’. All I know is that as a kid it meant eight guaranteed presents! It’s a cliche but, compared to the pomp and pageantry of Christmas, the festival of lights kind of blows.

However, as an adult, I’ve come to dig the ceremonial candle lighting, now that I finally understand the meaning of Chanukah (it was lost on me until I had to explain it to my boyfriend’s son) And now, as the Girlfriend Mom, I spread the guaranteed eight presents tradition to the kids. Who’s their best Jewish friend now? My boyfriend’s son lights the candles, and it touches me. Deep down now I know that he does it because the matches and fire ignites his inner pyromaniac.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, my beach town. Lawn decorations are in abundance, as are those on porches and in storefronts. Those Christians sure do love ginormous inflatable Santas and nativity scenes. And god bless. If someone wants to inflate a baby Jesus, who am I to judge. I do not live in a Jewish neighborhood, although there is a teeny tiny temple tucked away between two teeny tiny streets, that was all but invisible until Hurricane Sandy took down some very large trees. Lo and behold, there is a Temple in my quaint little beach town. But my question is, would it be too much to ask to see just one inflatable Menorah?

People’s own homes are one thing, to each his, or her, own, but what about in public stores and restaurants? It feels strange not to see Menorah’s in the windows, or a friggin’ Dreidel. It’s unfair, especially since Chanukah usually starts before Christmas (as it does this year) or overlaps with Christmas, as it did last year. There’s a Jewish deli on one of the corners in town, and there’s bubkis in the window.

All holidays should get equal stage time.

Full disclosure. Accepting a Christmas tree and decorations in the house where I live with my Portuguese lover has been a process. Truth be told, from a style and taste perspective, I’m not a fan of standard fair tree ornaments or holiday pillows. I do like the lights, though.

Further disclosure. We, my Jewish family and I, used to celebrate Christmas. We were those reformed Jewish families that you might have heard about. We lived in a two bedroom apartment and my dad always brought home a tree, whose top branches brushed the ceiling. I never questioned this and I certainly didn’t question the Christmas presents under the tree. These were in addition to the eight Chanukah presents. Of course some of those Chanukah presents were things like, socks, gum, saline solution for our contact lenses, pencils, and film for our Instamatic cameras. You know, the fun stuff.

As the years marched on, our humungoid Christmas tree was downsized to a Chanukah bush. I never really understood that. The bush part I mean. Like a burning bush? Unbeknownst to me and my brother, daddio was slowly finding his Jewish roots, and we were slowly losing our Christian Christmas. If you were to ask my mom why we celebrated Christmas, she’d say that it was never a religious celebration but rather an opportunity to decorate. And wrap. The woman is an expert gift wrapper.

Away went the glass balls, that would break if you breathed on them the wrong way, and the tinsel. Gone were untangling the lights to be hung around the tree, that often brought about cursing, and stomping out of the living room screaming, “Why are we doing this? We’re Jewish!”

Out with the old, in with the artsy and whimsical ornaments, usually made out of wood, or clay. We had moved to a bucolic country town, and my mom thought that stringing popcorn and ornaments made by the Amish were less ‘Chistmassy’. She was in friggin denial.

By the time I was in college, Christmas consisted of stacking presents in an antique rod iron  sleigh. Mom was channeling her country chic-ness. My dad had had enough of trees and bushes. It didn’t feel right celebrating Christmas, so we found our way back to a Menorah, and only a Menorah.

Cut to present day. My brother married an Italian and Scottish woman, and my nephews now celebrate Christmas, just like my brother and I did when we were their age. And now I celebrate Christmas (just the decorating part) with my boyfriend and his kids. It’s an ongoing process of acceptance, in spite of my upbringing.

This is what couples do, right. I’m sure Katie Morosky and Hubbell Gardner (“The Way We Were”) celebrated Christmas and Chanukah. Of course they ended up divorcing, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t over a game of Spin the Dreidel.

If I can light the candles in my new bicycle Menorah, then my boyfriend can hang his climbing Santa, that rings, sings, rattles and shakes. Because we’re practicing tolerance and love here.