Archive | December, 2014

My Bubby the Maccabee – A Eulogy

23 Dec

My Bubby died. Friday afternoon if you want to be technical. She wasn’t in good shape for a while but it was still a shock to the heart, I guess you always expect death to happen in tiny increments like filling up a measuring cup to the line you want – bit by bit by bit by bit until you’re at a whole complete measurement.

But it’s not like that. It’s alive. Then gone. Alive. Gone.

And it’s strange to think that she’s just not here anymore for me to call on Friday afternoons before Shabbat to hear her tell me she loved me. That there will be no more Florida visits every June which I’ve been doing every year for the past five years. She was 90 years old and I seem to keep focusing on what she might never see, as opposed to all the amazing things she had the ability to witness – a gift that was denied to many not just in her generation, but in her own family.

Today was the funeral. The whole day was an exhausting mix of hugging visiting relatives, crying, laughing, eating, hugging, reflecting, more eating, running out to Starbucks after the funeral, more laughing. So many friends and family came, I whispered to my sister that if Bubby were here she’d be demanding to know why all these people came here – how did they get here? Who invited them? And then she’d wave and smile and blow kisses to everyone, adoring the spotlight. I assume she’s bending God’s ear with these interrogating questions and comments now.

I had offered to speak at the funeral. For those of you who asked, I have put it here. For everyone who texted, called and FB messaged me sweet thoughts and condolences I thank you from the bottom of my heart – I am so lucky to have caring and considerate friends and family. I’m sure Bubby would agree (and then tell me that it was time to say goodbye to those friends since my husband was my only friend now).

Here is what I said at the funeral:

“I’ve never given a eulogy before.

But then again, there’s a lot of things I’ve done this year that I’ve never done before. I graduated college, I got married, I got various jobs. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without my grandmother, my Bubby.

I don’t just meant that in the sense that if she had never been born neither would I but in the sense that Bubby believed that I could do anything. That all her grandchildren could. You could tell her you were going to be a doctor and she’d say “Great! You can operate on me,” or “Bubby I’m going to be an accountant” and she’d reply “Wonderful  – you’ll make a lot of money and send some to me.”

My Bubby was friendly. She had to stop and talk to. every. single. stranger, neighbor and waiter. If only to tell them that her grandchildren were visiting….and maybe did they have a Shidduch in mind for us?

My grandmother was also stubborn. She refused to accept the fact that if you turned on the TV during a thunderstorm you wouldn’t get electrocuted – or that men could competently take care of babies.

I believe that she survived the Holocaust because she was too stubborn to do what Hitler so wished she would do – give up her life and heritage. He only made her dig her heels in harder.

In that way, my Bubby was a maccabee. I truly believe she would have fought right along side Matityahu – as long as it wouldn’t ruin her manicure. Bubby was all about having perfectly painted nails.

It’s almost fitting that she passed on Hanukkah because there is a story she once told me that I have come to associate with the holiday.

When she was a young girl  in Czechoslovakia, she told me, she had found a bag of gold coins and gave them to her parents. Instead of spending it responsibly on food or shoes for their five children, they took them to the circus – a rare and wonderful treat for the poor family. Years later, when the Nazis and fate had taken their shoes, taken their food – she still had those glorious memories of that happy day at the circus – that was something no one could ever take away.

During Hanukkah – when the Jews found the small jug of oil that would only last a day when they needed a week, they could have done the “responsible” thing and just lit a tiny bit each night to make it last but they didn’t. They spent it all and hoped for the best. They decided that the inspiring and wonderful sight of the menorah burning was more important to a tired and torn family – that sometimes people are more important than protocol.

My Bubby was a Macabee but she was also a flame. She warmed others with her food and her home. Her smile lit up when family and friends visited. She kindled Shabbat candles.

She might’ve burned too hot at times or scorched those who didn’t deserve it but Bubby was like that stubborn menorah flame that refused to conform to logic or nature.

In the circumstances surrounding her birth, she should have lasted only one generation but instead lasted many more.

And like the miraculous oil, only once she saw that her family and the Jewish people were going to be okay did she finally fade into a small spark and leave this world.”

My Bubby was a complicated lady who could be difficult and impossible sometimes. But she taught me that it’s good to have convictions, it’s even better to have something to fight for, its important to have family, it’s vital to have confidence in yourself but sometimes all you can do is try, and have faith that everything will work out in the end.

And it’s essential to always have perfectly manicured nails.

 

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More Bubby posts, here.

Happy Holiday! It’s an Olog!

18 Dec

 

 

 

Well, it’s finally come to this. An Olog (the CORRECT term for video log, since a blog is a weBlog a video log should be an videOlog. Shira knows what I’m saying)

 

Happy Holidays you weirdos!

Street Life Part 2

3 Dec

Buckle in for a long blog post sailors because things. are. happening.

Some weird. Some uncomfortable. Some delicious. And it aaallll started way back yesterday.

I had four supermarkets to stand in front of giving out protein bars, mostly in the Upper West Side. It was strangely warm out and people were pretty receptive to someone shoving protein bars in their face. Well most people. One scowling dude stomped down Columbus and when I held out the free sample he grabbed it and threw it on the sidewalk. So rude. But I let it slide because really, I don’t know these street people – as much as they desperately try to tell me their life stories.

A woman passed by and asked if the bars contained peanuts. No, I assured her, just cashews. “Well Im allergic to all nuts!” she yelled. “You should really tell people before you give these out.” To which I kind of nodded to but thought like, I have precisely one second to grab these people’s attentions – I don’t have time to read the label to them – also, if a stranger on the street was giving me food, I might take a second to glance at the ingredients if I was so deathly allergic, just a thought.

Some people act as if I’m their doctor and I’m prescribing them something horrible. An elderly blind woman stopped me to lecture me on the dangers of soy. I nodded for a while until I realized she couldn’t see me and was taking my silence as encouragement to keep telling me about how “Orientals, except the ones on the Western diet will DIE from too much soy! It enriches the blood! It clogs up the arteries!” Which was like, yeah problematic, but even more problematic because we were standing outside an Asian supermarket and I really didn’t want to be associated with the woman yelling about “Orientals.” I thought maybe I could just sneak away and she wouldn’t know. But I stayed and told her I was leaving. And then just waited until she was out of earshot to keep giving them out. Sorry America if I kill all of you with my soy.

Today I just had two supermarkets. I was on the corner of 23rd and it was chilly. But it didn’t stop people from coming over and talking to me. Around 10 a.m. a guy comes up to me and takes a protein bar and one for his wife. And says that she’s 75 cents short for the subway do I have change and I’m like yeah OK and he’s like thanks! I’ll help you with your bars. And then he walks up to some kid at the corner, gets in his face and goes “Hey man! Go take a protein bar from that girl! Now!” And this kid nervously takes one and the guy says “Now say thanks!” And then the man smiles at me and walks away.

At my last corner on 14th, a unkempt looking fellow came over and in a slurred semi-Italian asked me for directions. I tried to mime them out for him. He started speaking about a fire and showed me some bad burns on his arm. Not *quite* something I had asked for. I nodded while he said some more things. Then he leaned in (“Well this isn’t a red flag” I thought) “Can I kiss you?” he mumbled. “Uhh…no.” He leaned in and I hurriedly took a step back. He laughed and started walking away. “Be careful!” He yelled incomprehensibly. “It’s scary out here!”

(When I retold this story to my friend she replied “Didn’t he see the ring?!” Like, seriously, right? If I wasn’t married I would be macking all the dirty strange people who cross my path – curse the bonds of marriage!)

However, for all the weirdos I meet, there are a lot of very nice and pleasant New Yorkers I meet. Like the very sweet teenager who offered me gummy bears. Or the woman from Florida who was concerned about wether I was freezing my ass off. I wait for the day when HONY inquires about my insights into the NY psyche.

Yesterday was also the first of my stand-up class. It was at the Manhattan Comedy School. It was highly recommended by a comedian friend of mine who started out there. It was …interesting. It’s more of a workshop and then we have a graduation show at Gotham.

Stand-up is so different than improv – it’s so intense and personal. My class is about 12 dudes and 2 other girls besides me. At the beginning of class our teacher assured us that “by the end of 6 weeks we were all going to be very close friends.” I have to say that I doubt that. I really do.

Because not to be a cynical asshole I kind of hate many people in my class already.

There’s one kid who’ve I’ve met a million times. Maybe not *this* specific dude but you’ve met him too. He cant stand silence. He makes really loud jokes and then looks around to see if anyone laughed. He is always looking for approval and has the loudest laugh. There’s another guy who thinks THAT guy is amazing and will respond to every rhetorical question he asks.

Everyone else is kind of meh too. I may be judging them too early. Next week there is a “mandatory” bar outing hosted by the director of the school. I’ve never been to a mandatory bar event but maybe some alcohol is what I need for this class. No wonder comics are always drinking on stage – it’s part of the learning process.

I hadn’t had too much prepared for my two min at the mike. I had wanted to tell a story since a lot of my humor is anecdotal. I talked about my broken arm and some jokes about my job and Fox. I was shaky and faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr from amazing but some people laughed.

Mostly though, it was very different from a LOT of the stories other people told. A lot of older guys (30-40) spoke about how they live at home, hate their lives, don’t have girlfriends, are unemployed. It felt….sad. They’re self deprecation was a little too bitter. I totally believe that comedy can be found in pain and I really do hope this class is therapeutic for them but in my unprofessional experience it’s going to be painful watching them turning these heartbreaking stories into worthy material. One guy actually talked about how his dad yells at him, “You’re a fucking worthless piece of shit and I wish I never had you!” Hilarious?

Some guys told awkward sex offender jokes or groaned when the instructor “banned” rape jokes (“at least for beginners”). It’s a good thing I’m not this teacher – God bless her – because either she really believes everyone has potential to be successful or is a really good liar.

But back to me. This was the first time I ever did any sort of material in front of strangers. I would say it went better than I thought it would in my head. It wasn’t an open mic or a venue in ANY means but it’s been a bucket-list since I was 16 and would illegally download all the Comedy Central specials on my iPod and parrot them back to my friends.

It feels cool to kind of get it out of the way and hopefully onto bigger and better.

Tomorrow I’ll be at West Side Market on 76th and CP Yang on Columbus and 73rd. Come say hi! (And maybe save me from another conversation about GMO’s)

 

 

 

 

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