Monday, November 21, 2005


An Open Letter to my Sister’s Boyfriend

Hi there! We’ll be meeting for the first time at my parent’s home, in celebration of Thanksgiving. What a treat! The relationship must be going very well for you to be joining us for this festive occasion. You know, my husband wasn’t even invited to Thanksgiving until we were engaged. That can only mean one thing – you’re not a Jew.

I’ve heard a lot about you from conversations with my Sis. I’ve learned even more from taking a gander of your MySpace website. Apparently you have friends that go by names like “Das Faus”, and “The Dyslexic World of IB. Green” – whatever that means. But since “Biggie Dukes” wants you to “check out (his) page, (where one) can see (him) and you brawling… (where he will) show some chops on your punk ass”, you surely are a suitable match for my dear baby sister.

There is something I tell all of my sister’s boyfriends any time I have the pleasure of meeting one, and you will be no exception.

If you hurt her, I will hunt you down and kick your ass.

I don’t look tough, but if forced to, I will take you out. I was in a fight. Once. I defended my little brother.

All right. I was 10. And I won the fight because I bit the kid. And I embarrassed the shit out of my little brother. But no matter! My love runs deep! Do not hurt her unless you want my teeth in your flesh (and not in the nice way)!

Yes, I understand you are a professional wrestler. Well, my husband once body slammed someone into a piece of furniture.

All right. He was 10. And the person was his 6-year-old sister…but the power of the maneuver broke the bed! And I should know. 17 years passed before his parents replaced it, and I spent many nights at my in-law’s house sleeping on the floor. He is my ultimate Tag Team partner – we’re like Lita and Matt Hardy!

No. Probably more like the Fabulous Moolah and Captain Lou Albano.

Since you have now been read the riot act, I will pass along some friendly advice. I really want you to have as great an experience as possible in my hometown with my precious little sister and keeping your dirty hands to yourself. Thanksgiving dinner should be a blast!

1) If you use the bathroom in my parent’s home (you’ll have to eventually), you will notice that most of the ceiling is missing. Offering help to replace it will not go over particularly well. You’re better off not looking up. Focus on the basket of reading material left on the bathroom floor instead. My favorites: AAA Magazine and the publication sent from Bottle Buys (the local economy liquor store).

2) My grandfather will undoubtedly repeat the same thing to you several times during the night. He just gets really overwhelmed from leaving his house, which he doesn’t do often. Do not joke about the repetition. My sister and I are very defensive of our Grampy, as my husband found out last year. His ribs are still a little sore from the beating.

3) This year, Thanksgiving is my Father’s Birthday! He is King today. He can do no wrong. Bring a present. Sing the Birthday song when told to, and under no circumstances should you bring up Vietnam or Politics (my husband will because he’s a punk. Be happy you were warned – you will see what happens…)

4) Have a wonderful time! We really are a great family. My Grandmothers are warm and fun. My Mother will be overwhelmed, but when she calms down she is a delight. Grampy is a riot, if you let him adjust and listen very closely. Good luck with my Father and my Brother – you are going to need it.

That’s just about it. I look forward to meeting you, and hope you like football so my husband doesn’t have to watch it by himself.

Kind Regards,
-Aj

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Report from Reality: Ben Folds @ Radio City, Nov. 7th (sorry - late)

Ben Folds is my favorite musical artist, hands down, so of course this Report from Reality would be nothing but glowing. So to spare you the gushing and the drivel, I will instead share with you the story of the end of the concert.

Around 10:55, Ben is approached by a large, roadie type, who whispers in his ear. Ben proceeds to tell the audience that he will soon be kicked off the stage, and then started another tune.

The song ended, and as the crowd cheered he yelled into the microphone something to the effect that he was going to run off the stage, but that he and the band were going to run right back and this way, we could pretend it was an encore. He did exactly that.

After that last song, he was approached once more. Ben said into the mic that He would be charged $10,000 if he went any longer, and ended the show by standing on the piano, leading the audience in singing the 3 part harmonies from "Not the Same", then walking off the stage as the audience continued.

Once he left the stage, a wall of roadies took to the scene. The backdrop fell, revealing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Two minutes later, the instruments were gone. In five, we were pushed out the doors by anxious ushers.

The show itself was warm and fuzzy. Radio City was a terrible host. Thank you Ben, for telling it like it was and letting us in on what the rush was about.

BTW, the Orchestra from the RCCS settled their disagreement with Radio City, and will rejoin the show for the first time this season on Friday. If the way Ben was treated was any indication of the way RC management treats talent, I am not surprised that the orchestra went on strike in the first place.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

We buried Lola today.

Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. She was also our hamster and we loved her very much.

During a freezing cold February 2 years ago, we lost her. The ground was frozen outside our apartment, and we couldn't bury her. We were not going to throw her out, and we certainly were not going to flush her (that is only for fish, thank you). We also wanted her to be buried somewhere more permanent, like in the backyard of one of our parent's homes (that, and we don't have a shovel). But getting Lola back to New York would be interesting too...

So we put her in the freezer. Behind the bagels.

We would go back to New York for a visit and forget her. When we would remember her, the ground would be frozen again. She was out of sight so we would often forget to move her out of her "spot", and whenever we thought to do it we were afraid that she may thaw out.

Last week I was at my parent's home, and while transferring wedding gifts out of the garage I spotted a small garden shovel. I asked my Mother if I could borrow it.

So it is today, November 12th 2005, about 21 months after her passing, that my husband and I decided to bury her outside of our apartment. I feel badly that we didn't do better by her.

She was my favorite pet - which is probably why I was so paralyzed by thought and couldn't do what really had to be done. She was very friendly - a quality that dwarf hamsters are not known for. She loved her hamster ball, and never tried to break out of her cage. She never bit unless provoked, and won over the heart of everyone that encountered her. She was truly a very special hamster.

I'm sorry Lola. I hope we have finally done right by you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


My gym’s aerobic classes are much like a Sunday morning tent revival.

I enter the studio and sneak into the back row of the class. The others pile in, packing the room until one can hardly move – let alone move enough to break a sweat.

But who is The Gym to turn away those who want to repent for their weekly sins? Can I Get a Witness?

The Instructor comes into the room and receives a warm reception from the crowd. He knows many by name, and understands their transgressions. A CD is popped into the player, he steps up to the alter and begins with the confession.

My confession today? That I actually kinda don’t mind warming up to Donna Summer’s rendition of MacArthur Park. Please have mercy on my soul.

The main work out suddenly begins.

The room is so full that if you miss a step, you are likely to take a tennis shoe to the jaw. The group writhes to the beat, grunting along with the music and loudly counting out the repetitions. Nobody has asked them to count – they just do.

The strangest phenomenon that happens is among the fanatics in the congregation. There are many who, at the peril of everyone else, decide to scoot across the floor in random directions while flailing their arms and spinning in some kind of endorphin inspired rapture. I don’t understand them. I just want to come in, do my thing, and get out unnoticed –unlike the whirling dervish that just flung a fist into my stomach.

For the quite gym go-er such as myself (who this year plans on attending Gym only a couple more times other than the high holy days – January 2nd, November 25th and December 26th), I’d rather not have much to do with the parishioners. For this reason, the worst thing is about to happen.

After guiding the class in what might as well be a 45-part combination of kicks, jumping jacks and hi-bred cha-cha meringue moves, I realize I should have worn a more supportive bra.

The Instructor tells everyone to face left.

We repeat the entire combination, and The Instructor again tells us to face left.

I am now at the front of the class. Leading the 45-part rumba nightmare. And my breasts are everywhere. I feel as though I have been dragged up to the front of the congregation to be cleansed of my sins – to have the hands of humiliation laid upon me to remove all of the dirty, sinful dignity from my spirit. I am drenched in sweat and panting – mostly because there is not much oxygen left in the air to breathe because the others have already gotten to it.

Finally, after what seems like a purgatories’ length of time, the class is Instructed to turn left once more. My penance is over.

Class ends with a cool down – a meditation of sorts, which ends with fingers touching toes, then arms out to the sides, then a stretch to the ceiling. The Instructor looks up to the heavens, arms reaching out, euphoric. He then brings his hands together, lowers them to his chest, and finishes with a bow.

A bit melodramatic for aerobics, but the class seems to be with him.

As I drive home, I think of whether I am being too critical of the people in the class, and of the instructor. I decide that I have been too judgmental. What matters is that these people are doing what makes them happy – and that in itself can be a sort of salvation.

Just give me my salvation with extra spandex and an under wire.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I post with apologies - it has been far too long.

I plan to write weekly for a while for now. I'll try to pull together something on Thursdays to appear for Friday if you want to check in.

The weather has been beautiful in New Jersey, and I'm sure you really can't blame me for taking in as much warmth as I can until the winter hits. Tonight will probably mark the end of the beauty, so I'll be back indoors for a while.

Again, look for more on Fridays, and thank you for checking in on me.

Much love,
-Aj