Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scary movies of my youth

With Halloween only 24 hours away, I gave some thought to which movies had scared the be'gibbers out of me. I instantly came up with two: House on a Haunted Hill was number 1. I saw this film with I was young. My older brother and I attended an afternoon matinee. House on a Haunted Hill was one of the first movies that you had to wear 3-D glasses to really appreciate. There were 13 ghosts who were invisible unless you dawned on the cardboard glasses. I don't remember much about the plot . . . other than it scared my brother and I so much, he got hives, and I spent the night awake. One scene in particular was of a beautiful lace covered canopy bed and a person blissfully in dreamland. THEN the music swelled and the canopy came down. The person woke up, but only long enough for the scene to end. YIKES!
#2 Tales of the Crypt. I'm not talking about those remakes . . . I'm talking about the original. Two girlfriends and I (Nancy and Donna), were in the mood to get scared, so we went to see it. Again, I don't remember much of the plot. There were three short stories, but one of them was about a person who was granted wishes. This sounds lovely, but think carefully. There was an accident and someone was dying. The person who was granted the wishes wished that the injured person would not die . . . and they didn't. BUT the wisher forgot to ask for a healthy recover, so the victim remained in horrible pain FOR ETERNITY. When the three of us came out of the movie, we interlocked our arms and filled with terror, walked to our car.
I don't watch scary movies anymore. Life is tricky enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giving my house an up-do

There are those persons who love to redecorate. They enjoy visiting endless tiny little shops, picking up just the perfect this or that to enhance their home's beauty. THAT'S NOT ME! But, even I have to admit that my house, circa 1980's needs a re-vamp. So earlier this year, January to be exact, I began repainting, re-upholstering, re-everything my house. There were those who said that my goal of completion by November would be NO PROBLEM. To them I say YEAH SURE! The plaster man showed up when he felt the urge, which held back my painters. When the walls were finally ready, the painters came in. Now, the painters, who are doing a great job, are soooooooooo slooooooooowwwwwww. The upholsterer, who is very good, finished covering my old, out of style living room couch beautifully, BUT the family room couch, which she is building from scratch won't be done until Thanksgiving. And there still are other rooms to tackle. But I am tired and will take a few months off to rest. For those again who are contemplating fixing up their homes, tread carefully.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My husband and his blackberry

I want preface this by stating that I love my husband and understand that he works very hard. And that work occurs all times of the day and night. BUT, he and his blackberry are attached at the hip. We can be out with friends, in a movie, having dinner, playing with our grandchild and that darn blackberry makes it's sound and he is no longer truly with us. He is reading, texting and forgetting all about those around him. But he is not alone. How many of us, and I too sometimes overuse my iphone, will stop speaking during dinner conversation, only to allow a virtual someone to substitute the living person who is seated across from us.
I love the electronic world that we all live in, but I do remember a time when we weren't so accessible. And sometimes, I miss those days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ice cream, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Ice cream - with the exception of a few (odd) persons, who doesn't like ice cream? Ambrosial, delectable, heavenly, mouthwatering, yummy frozen stuff.
Why do I bring it up? Well . . . a Facebook friend - a male photographer - was giving in to a craving for a scoop of Mint Chocolate chip. In a flash there was a flurry of support from others who were joining in with this tantalizing suggestion, and now hoards of people were off to Baskin Robins for an ice cream scoop of their own.
I've always been partial to Jamoca Almond Fudge. My daughter likes chocolate chip, but actually prefers Thriftys because their chips were smaller. My grandson likes green ice cream. And let's not forget Gelato, which I have to be honest is only truly available in Italy.
I guess we develop our taste for cone or cup when we are young. Sometimes frozen yogurt can be substituted, but it will never replace the real stuff.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween - I love it!

We all know why children adore Halloween . . . Snicker bars, M&Ms, Almond Joys(my favorite), but it's more . . . much more. There's the great costumes, the walking around and knocking on doors of strangers. There are throngs of people everywhere and the decorations. WOW!
But why do adults love this holiday? I can only answer for myself.
It is the abandonment of my inhibitions, not that I am all that inhibited. I am permitted to wear overdone makeup in obscene colors, rat my hair, if I want. Put on a black cape and try my hardest to scare children.
When my own children were young I would dress up as a mixture of Vampira and Morticia Adams. I wore a black vampire outfit and had my son's black and white rat scurry up and down my arm. She was friendly, but children were caught off guard. Years later when the rat died, kids would ask for her, but I would have to tell them gently that the rat was no more.
My sister and I even tried to replicate a Halloween scene from Roseanne. She'd hid in a box with only her head popping up from under a bowl that I kept lifting whenever a child would come to my door. She'd scream . . . the kids would scream - it was great.
When else can do you this . . . never! Just during Halloween.
I want to wish everyone a happy, scary, chocolate filled Halloween.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am proud to say I am a Grudge holder

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine and she told me that interesting, pivotal, enjoyable blogs reveal something about the writer. So far I have been telling you about what the writing process is like. Cheryl, my friend, told me that that wasn't what readers wanted to read. You wanted to see how I differ from the mansy-pansy other writers who are out there. She reminded me that I am SLIGHTLY opinionated and asked why I wasn't showing that portion of me. Well, get ready to meet the inner me.

I thought I'd start with a trait she mentioned I have, that she wished I didn't . . . Grudge holder.

I don't know why people say holding a grudge is bad. In this world, where there are so many people do we really need to turn the cheek over and over again? I say no.
I say that when a person has been selfish, inconsiderate, uncaring and just plain mean that we dump them and remember the reason we discarded them. Some call it a grudge, I call it culling the herd.

I am fifty plus (Sad to say) and really, how much time to I have to waste on those that are just takers? I want equal, supportive relationships, so when someone lets it be known that that is not one of their traits, I kick them to the curb.

I guess the GRUDGE portion is that I won't allow for change. That's because change doesn't simply come from talk . . . it takes action. Show me first and then I'll think about reconsidering, but I have to say . . . I've not been proven wrong yet.

The flip side of a grudge holder, in my case, is that I am very very loyal. And I think a loyal person can have a side to her that is grudge filled.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Down time and Writing

I had a procedure to remove a bump on my forehead which means I had to say fairly quiet for the past few days. Not wishing to waste time, I've watched endless repeats of Glee and the Michael Jackson special. That might not sound like good motivating background for writing, but as a person who need noise and chaos to work in, I have written like a fiend. I am working on a fictional prequel to my first book and I have to say I am having a blast. There's something about writing anything you want. Allowing the story to kind of come alive in your brain and have the characters do whatever you want them to do. It will demand lots of revisions because I follow no pre-determined story line, so I have to go back and make the beginning match the middle and they have to match the end. I am about 2/3rd and I can't wait to finish and begin the real meat and potatoes . . . . the re-writes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's in a name . . . . alot

I know this is premature, but I am beginning to mull over titles for my next book. But what to name it. Pint Sized Partisans was a working title, but I was told it wasn't catchy enough. How do you capture the essence of a book in a handful of words. In that handful how do you create instant interest? Wow this is a hard one. If you have any ideas I'm more than willing to listen.
The book in a nutshell if the fictional prequel to Broken Birds. It's about a young girl who is a partisan in the forests of Poland. She comes of age, falls in love . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah. I can't tell you everything, you wouldn't want to read the book.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Article is in the S.D. Jewish World

The last generation fought, but the new one has found each other

By Jeanette Katzir

NEW YORK — In 1960, he was 5 and I was 6. That was the last time I saw my cousin Paul . . . until this past week.

Some people are blessed with large extended families. Holiday tables spill out into other rooms with an almost endless line up of chairs and a bounty of dishes. There are grandparents, uncles, aunts, and lots and lots of cousins. For our family, the table was small. My mother and her brother, my uncle, were the only two members of their entire family to live through the Holocaust. With gold hidden in the heels of their shoes, they boarded a ship and made their way to New York City.

My memories of a 1959 Brooklyn are filled with snowmen I built with my brother David, the swing sets of Milestone Park in Bensonhurst, and subway rides to everywhere. There are also images of a forest-covered Woodridge in upstate New York and the Ferris wheel in Coney Island. I can remember the delicious flavors of potato knishes that I shared with my cousin Paul and how my mother would talk in Yiddish to my uncle Isaac.

My mother had a falling out with her only brother, and my father suggested we go to the west coast, where the sun always shined and snow never fell. We moved away from New York, leaving behind the only extended family we had.

I don’t remember our parting scene at the New York airport, but I do remember the family’s final trip to Coney Island. It was May, and the salty smell of the ocean drifted up through the planks of the boardwalk. My older brother, my cousin, and I feasted on thin crust pizza and potato knishes, promising to write, and write often.

My family moved into a rental home in Boyle Heights, California, and we tried to get used to the never-ending sunshine. As promised, I wrote Paul every week. “When are you coming to visit?” I drew a small heart in the lower corner of the envelope and waited for his response.

Weeks turned into months, which turned into years, and then we just stopped writing. I never did go back to New York, and he never came to Los Angeles. I got married and had children, and he got married and had children.

Whenever I’d ask Mom for their address, she’d always conveniently forget to give to me. She felt it was best to keep the two families separate and even refused to tell my father where they were. Mom had a strict code of loyalty, and her brother had breached that code.

In 2004 she died, and with her died the contact information for our family on the East coast.

This past year, I have been contacted through Facebook by some old friends, with whom I’d lost touch. Out of the blue an email would appear, and a friendship that had been allowed to silently fade away would be rekindled.

If Facebook could lead people to me, then why not use it to find my cousin? The last I had heard, he still lived in upstate New York. His name wouldn’t have changed, so I did a search. There were five persons with his name. But when I added the state, the choices dwindled to three. I posted an open letter to those Facebook accounts, telling them who I was and asking if he was the son of my uncle.

The first days . . . nothing. Then, I got an instant message. “Call me now.”

Contact had been made. Paul and I spoke for about an hour, trying to catch up and reason why we had lost touch. Speaking with him felt good. It felt easy. It felt natural. Listening to him made me smile—his accent reminded me of Al Pacino—and I wondered what I sounded like to him.

I probably spend too much time on the Internet, but the world is now at my fingertips, and every so often . . . something really good happens.

“We’re arriving September 9th, do you think you can pick us up from the airport?” I asked Paul.

“My brother and I will be waiting for you.”

I was anxious as I stepped off the plane. What if Paul and his younger brother Berni, held us responsible for our parent’s actions? What if time had separated us so much that we wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap? What if we couldn’t go home again?

We saw each other through the glass. “There they are!” we all said simultaneously. A moment later, we were together again, and it was all good.

We spoke about our mother (their aunt) and how she died 6 years ago. Then we spoke about their father (our uncle) who died years earlier. I brought a DVD with all the old family photographs I had. How young we all were once. How handsome our uncle was and how beautiful Mom looked back in the day. “You look just like your mother,” Berni told me.

Paul rummaged through his parent’s things and pulled out black and white pictures of our family. There were more snippets our past, more pieces of our family heritage puzzle to see. I could see both my sisters in my mother’s photo, and the cousins remarked how handsome Dad was.

Three days later, we left the serene beauty of Woodridge and journeyed to Manhattan, where the lights were blinding and the crowds unending. And even though it was raining, it did not deter four cousins from this journey back through time and into the future. We had dinner in one of those old delis, and over corn beef, tongue, and egg salad sandwiches, which could feed a small tribe, we talked even more.

We visited our childhood home in Bensonhurst. My brother was even able to locate the exact apartment. We walked up to our old front door, but didn’t knock. Memories quickly came back. I could see all of us walking down the street next to the wrought iron fencing and playing in the park near our old brownstone. I remember playing on the teeter-totter and sliding down the ever-so-tall slide.

Coney Island was another must see. I remember eating knishes with my cousin while my brother went on the steeplechase ride. The ride is no longer there, but the memories of that park and being with Paul and Berni made me smile.

As the trip started to wind down, a sadness about our upcoming parting quieted the air. We had just reconnected, just retold some of our stories and heard others; we weren’t ready for the trip to end, but it was time to go back home.

“Come for Passover,” I said over and over again. “Hurry, Dad really wants to see you.”

This trip, our cousins and NYC were better than what we could have hoped for. Once again, thousands of miles would separate us, but we will keep in touch by phone and post photos on Facebook. And hopefully they will come out west for Passover and share matzo ball soup and gefilte fish with the entire family.

Katzir is author of Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rainy Days and Hot soup

It's been raining here in Los Angeles for the last few days, but today it's really coming down (For Los Angeles). I really enjoy rainy days. It brings back memories of hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Of staying inside and baking cookies with sugar on top. Or of jumping into the puddles until I was soaked to the bone. The rat-tat-tat sound on the roof and the need to wear socks and warm pj's. It cultivates a feeling of safety and warmth, family and fun. I love the rain.
But HEY, this weekend it's supposed to be 90ish, so we'll be outside for bar-b-ques and t-shirts. Ahhh Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Missing your mother

Six years ago my mother died after a stroke placed her in a coma. The reason I bring this up is because tonight's episode of Glee touched on this very subject. God and death. It was poignant, moving and wonderful to cry to. I loved it and will watch it over and over again. Having music from Yentle, my all time favorite musical didn't hurt and Curt's solo of I want to hold you hand, had me to grab a hankie more than once. I love really good television!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Without my TV for 5 days

We started painting the upstairs portion of my house last week, and my husband disconnected the tv box. The house is unusually quiet, and I habitually walk over to the remote controls. I go camping and there's no television, but is seems wrong not to have one at home. I don't necessarily watch the tv, it just provides me with white noise. I am one of five children and need noise. Luckily I have a pandora on my computer so I listen to music that way. Some people like peace and quiet. I like noise and tzuris (Uproar in yiddish).