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This morning I woke up faced with a giant quandary: I didn’t have a kick ass idea for this week’s post, and also I needed to get started making dinner… lunch… and breakfast.

And then it hit me: what kind of a maniac makes dinner at the same time as breakfast and lunch? The answer is me… you… and all of us. After all, there are only so many precooked chickens one can eat before sprouting feathers, and ordering in adds up.

In the great buffet of life, capturing and cooking food is a heaping portion of angst served up daily on our collective and overflowing mental plates. Today we want things healthy but quick, easy but complex — and it all feels so oxymoronic… emphasis on moronic. And it explains why we’re all prone to have massive existential crises while in line at Trader Joe’s.

So what’s a bitch’in Betty Crocker to do?

First off, you fill your kitchen with cheap yet time-cutting tools:

– A mini- prep food processor (you can find ’em in cute colors for $40 or less) read more

Last week I shared my wake-up call with y’all — what started as pesky, persistent dry skin patches and other random symptoms, like feeling plum out of steam, ended up with my needing to engage in a full-on confrontation of what brought me to this place. Bottom line: it was all about some sorry-ass lifestyle choices I’d made along the way.

And while the thing you’ve been ignoring, avoiding, and sadly putting off for way to long may not on the surface appear to be health-related, I’d argue that the chance of success when making any major life change is much greater if taking care of yourself is factored into the equation. In fact, you should make it the primary factor.

The crap we throw down our gullets as we run the gerbil wheel as fast as we can is not adequate fuel. The trick is to slow the pace enough so that you can be mindful of everything that you put in your mouth (!); this is a crucial step towards bringing you to not only better health, but also to an awareness of what being kind and nourishing can do to a person. Especially when that person is you. read more

This time of year, there is a rapid-pace blur that starts with pumpkin, black, and skulls, and then rolls into the winter white holidaze. But for a fleeting period of time in between, we get the burnt orange acorn haze of Thanksgiving goodness.

So I submit to you that now is the perfect time to take stock in the soup of life.

Before you start daydreaming about turkey, mashed potatoes, football games, and the Macy’s parade, take a moment to think about what the holiday is really about…


I’m just kidding! In a way. Because pouring something smooth and comforting over the lumps, bumps, and charred humps of life isn’t such a bad idea.

And maybe the sauce that makes it all go down easier is good old fashioned, well, thanksgiving.

Deep, heartfelt gratitude for all you’ve got. I know that sounds preachy, and believe me, when someone tells me I should be grateful for something, it ends up feeling artificial. And I believe that being truly thankful for something isn’t a feeling at all — it’s an attitude. read more

The sound of a Greyhound bus pulling up makes you totally bipolar; it’s either your greatest joy (going to camp) or your most tear-stained misery (leaving camp).

You love nature, but only really if you can still operate a hair dryer for socials.

You used to have white clothes for Friday night services, but by summer’s end they’re an unidentifiable grayish-pinkish color called, “Camp Laundry.”

You lost your virginity trying to get up on one waterski.

You recognize the significance of your bed-choice: top bunk says daring loner; bottom says wimpy socialite.

Bug juice is your beverage of choice.

You own a trunk, a house-sized duffle bag, or both.

You await the mail each day with baited breath and secretly pray there’s a care package from your mom with candy and gum surreptitiously taped to the pages of comic books and Teen Beat magazines. Nothing says love more than a parent complicit with breaking all the camp rules.

Seemingly useless trivia is your bailiwick.

You hate stuffed animals in real life, but at camp you have enough to make a snuggly line-up to chase away the homesick blues. (Or, conversely, as you move into senior camp, to explain various sexual positions that are tough to verbalize but make complete sense when illustrated by a teddy bear and a stuffed elephant.) read more

Are you ready to have your best year yet?

A wise woman once told me that the magic amount of time for anything significant to occur is one year.

One year to get used to a new neighborhood.

One year to get out of the infant woods into the forest of personhood possibility.

One year of grief and mourning.

One year with a romantic partner and the relationship is something real, a keeper.

One year from dalliance to hobby to practice to commitment.

One year ago, I wrote my first Bitch’in Suburbia blog post.

The inspiration was a recently completed novel and a desire to get it published. But authors need a platform before anyone will take them seriously. So just like teaching your kid to read to get a jump on Kindergarten or naming your baby “Beckham” to ensure s/he’s not a bench warmer on the peewee soccer team, I launched Bitch’in Suburbia. The marketing vehicle for the in utero book.

That was then, this is now.

Actually, nothing has changed in terms of the ORIGINAL goal. I just like to say, “that was then, this is now” — it reminds me of S.E. Hinton, one of my all-time fave writers. read more

’Tis the season to be… busy. Holiday parties, marathon shopping sessions, tree trimming, latke making, holiday baking, family visits, visiting family, on the run and on the go with a ho, ho, ho!

If I have learned one thing as a parent, it’s the best laid plans are guaranteed to change. And the most predictable predicament lies at the intersection of seasons: holiday vs. cold and flu. So is it any wonder the first sign of Santa, I run for the Vitamin C? While the old guy looks well fed and jolly, it doesn’t escape me that the dude always wears gloves and has a bushy beard as a germ catcher.

Last weekend, my daughter and I went to the local mall’s tree lighting ceremony. While others were cheerfully singing along to Jingle Bell Rock, I had a surreal out-of-body experience. First of all, I hate being squeezed in with the rest of teeming humanity — ye olde panic disorder rears her ugly head. Secondly, I didn’t need special 3-D glasses to see germs dashing through the air on a one-nose open sneeze. A sniff here, a cleared throat there, and suddenly I understood why germaphobes wear surgical masks in pubic. Pass me the plum pudding scented antibacterial gel; I’m starting to panic. read more

I love holidays, and especially ones that have a killer back-story. And I literally mean killer — nothing better than ancient blood and gore that in modern times is celebrated with costumes, candy, presents, hearts, and flowers. And while I enjoy a pagan festival or two (Halloween, Valentine’s Day), nothing really beats the Jewish holidays for equal parts tragedy and triumph.

As a kid I was very struck by how the Jewish people have faced annihilation hundreds, maybe thousands, of times over the centuries. It actually made me a little nervous, and I was happy to just skim the surface and skip to the part where David slayed Goliath, the Israelites hightailed it out of Egypt for the relative safety of 40 years wandering around the desert, and the Nazis were defeated.

But as an adult, it’s my job to pass the word along to the next generation, and so finding the deeper meaning in the well-worn tales has been really interesting. Lucky for me, I’ve had ample opportunity over the years to dissect the most kick ass Biblical tale of all, as I am…. the Chanukah Mommy. read more

The countdown to Thanksgiving is on, despite the fact that retailers would like you to choke down your turkey and fixin’s so you can dash off to stand in line for Black Friday sales. To me, though, they are so missing the point: Thanksgiving is by far my favorite day of the year and should be savored and enjoyed. A holiday that celebrates gratitude, includes the most natural, deepest sleep-inducing ingredients (red wine + tryptophan = better than Ambien), AND has the best leftovers? Perfection.

Yet there is one lil’ caboose in the Thanksgiving party train that can send the whole damn day swinging off the rails: family. You know, the peeps who put the “fun” into dysfunction. My earliest Thanksgiving memory encapsulates exactly that: it was the early 1970s, and an aunt of mine had just had her legs amputated due to complications from diabetes.

As her husband wheeled her into the house from her new tricked out van, every single grownup in the room started to cry. Not discrete tearing up, mind you — heaving, loud sobs. As a huge fan of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I was terrified: Sendak’s vision of monstrous, horrifying aunts, uncles, and cousins was coming to life in my own living room! Thankfully, my aunt’s hippie sons had the wherewithal to whisk me out of the room and give me a little pre-Channukah gift: Sea Monkeys and the newly released Led Zeppelin IV. Although it would be years before I understood any of what I’d experienced, I always associate Sea Monkeys with shimmering tears, and to this day can barely listen to hauntingly ironic lyrics of “Black Dog” (“Hey, hey Mama, said the way you move…” — crap, not so much.) read more

I’m a sucker for new beginnings, so the idea of celebrating two new years — one on January 1st, the other sometime in early fall — the Jewish New Year — is very comforting to me. It’s also a good excuse to let other things grind to a halt, take a little stock, and eat high cholesterol foods* that I normally try to avoid.

As a kid, religion was something that demanded my attention a couple times a week, when creaky Hebrew teachers and earnest, guitar-strumming youth group leaders tried to teach me about my faith. Twice a year at the High Holidays, we did the marathon prayer sessions that were most notable for the amount of times I could ditch to the bathroom, and also as a better-than-Vogue’s-September-book sneak preview of what the best dressed in my town were wearing that fall. I felt superior when Chanukah fell right around Christmas and the gifts spanned eight days, so I was still collecting loot as my block was littered with drying out pine trees waiting for trash pick-up. Ahhh, the benefits of being one of The Chosen. (Conversely, when Chanukah came early, the whole chosen people thing left me cold, like so many leftover, oil-soaked latkes — almost too much to bear.) read more

Ah, Facebook — the ultimate documentation of seasonal shift. As I scroll past scores of smiling kids dressed in matching t-shirts and clean shorts, posing in front of Greyhound buses and overstuffed duffel bags, there’s only one time of year it could be.



Once upon a time, that ecstatic face belonged to me, the result of counting down 299 days until that moment. I look at those happy children and a warm wash of nostalgia comes over me, like peeing in my bathing suit during second period swim class. And just as quickly, that pleasant sensation gives way to a consciousness that underneath my calm surface lurks a deep, murky feeling as green as the muck in the lake.


Is it so wrong that more than three decades later, I would do anything to go back to camp and despise those happy children who have taken my place on the camp-bound bus?

My parents shipped me off every summer for two months from the time I was ten. Today, that seems like a long time, particularly by West Coast standards. But back then, that stretch was almost not enough for the Witness Protection Program of my youth, aka camp. There in rustic cabins, around dining hall tables, up at the stables and down by the lake, all sins were forgiven, as campers’ true identities were erased, and with a fresh slate we reunited with friends who knew and loved us in the best possible way: just as we were. read more