Conscious Uncoupling

“It’s not you, it’s me.” “This is going too fast.” “I think I like men.” The first two comments were used several times on me in my dating life. The last comment should have been said to me by a certain fella but instead was something like “It’s not working out.”

Yes, breaking up is hard to do for lots of people. It certainly seems tough for celebrities like Gwenyth, what with all the tropical post-breakup vacations. So while she is mourning her loss via Pilates classes and Vegan Quinoa, I will take over her blogging duties. But instead of recommending $300 pillows, I will tell you about my awesome new bed in a bag set I bought for my master bedroom at the grocery store.

This week, Sam informed me my Facebook post about Rob Lowe on Ellen was “gross.” He told me it was too much info for me to share that Rob playing the saxophone was visual erotica for me. Little does he know that Rob playing St Elmo’s Fire on the sax has been my go-to imagine since I was a teenager.

Sam has been on Facebook since he was 9. Totally inappropriate, we let him create a fake account because he wanted to keep in touch with teenage friends he met in a show. It really was the only way for him to keep in touch because he didn’t have a phone yet. We waited until he was 10 for that. We are nothing if not discretionary.

Since that time, I figured out the Internet, and, as we learned from Avenue Q, the Internet is for porn. Not in my case, but, it has become a place to discuss things that our kids shouldn’t see. Especially Facebook as it is so easy to maneuver that my mom is on it. She is so impressed that my high school friends still “remember” her birthday.

So I feel now that it is time to do some breaking up of my own. With Sam. I believe I must de-friend my son.

Sam, you are almost 13, and apparently you are almost a man. So, I must release you from my world and send you off into a world of your own: Instagram.

I do not understand Instagram and I’m not planning on figuring it out. I have no room left in my brain to learn new things. Your friends are on it. Your showbiz pals are on it. And so is your 5 year old brother.

And so, Sam, I will see you again one day. In the kitchen, in the hallway, and even standing in the bathroom with me while I put in a tampon.

But not on Facebook, buddy. This place is all mine.

Note: you can check out my awesome new sheet set at Frys Grocery Store on Tatum and Shea in Paradise Valley, AZ. It was $34.99 on sale with my Frys card.

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Divergent

I type. When I am stressed or anxious or working something out in my head, my fingers automatically start typing into the air. I cannot control it and I don’t even know that I’m doing it. When I was younger, I used to do a strange thing with flicking my hair away from my face. It was always when I was needing to decompress. I now know that these are called tics.

This past weekend, we took our kids to see Divergent as part of Lauren’s 11th birthday celebration. The story takes place in the future. In the movie, upon reaching a certain age, each person must pick a certain virtue: Intelligence, Bravery, Kindness, or Truth. You do not get to pick more than one and you must only live, work, and interact with the people who have the exact same virtue that you do. The story centers on Tris, who is “divergent” because she realizes she has more than one virtue. In the future, divergent people must be killed because society is dependent upon keeping people in defined categories. I learned a few things during this movie: 1) This movie is not for 5 year olds and I will be paying for therapy for Aidan for many years to come, and 2)Based on this movie, Twilight and The Hunger Games, it appears that in the future, female teenage girls with thick brown hair will be able to kick everyone’s ass and land a really hot guy of their choice in the end.

This coming week, Arizona public schools plays its own game of Divergent called AIMS testing. It is our way of making sure that all of the kids in our schools are on the exact same level. No one must stand out or be different. If so, then you and your school is failing.

In preparation for the AIMS testing, the kids are told that they must do well on these tests, or, essentially, the world will end. They are given practice tests and questions. One such question is featured below. Lauren was told that her answer, Atlas, was incorrect and that j is the correct answer. I’m pretty sure that, unless these 5th graders lived in the 1980s, none of them know what a telephone book is. So, either these questions should possibly be looked at and updated, or we need to find a DeLorean this weekend so these kids can be properly prepared.

When we were told that Aidan should probably not attend the public school located next to our home, the reason we were given is that he already knew everything they were planning on teaching in Kindergarten there. And, unless he wanted to spend his year there “helping the kids catch up to him,” he should probably find somewhere else to go. When asked about possibly challenging him with some 1st grade work, we were asked “Well, then, what would we teach him in 1st grade?” We were told that the goal of this school is to make sure that all children “come out of each grade at the same level.” So, as many people in our area know, our beautiful house that we purchased only a few years ago is now for sale.

Today I saw two short documentary films about children with autism. One featured a mom who decided to “cure” her child of his autism. She wouldn’t let him act in “that way,” because it was “weird.” (In one scene, she proudly showed how she kicked away the toy cars that he used to line up in a row because she didn’t want him to have any strange habits.) She forced him to be like all the other children who were “typical,” and the teenage version of this child is now “fine.” The other film, produced by my friends Heather and Jon Gould, featured their son Cory, who also has a form of autism called “Aspergers.” Their film showed how they have decided to love and accept their child for who he is. They are not going to change him, but embrace him for his exceptional differences.

When we look at the most amazing people in the history of our society, they are usually the ones who others would have considered “different” in their time. Do you think that the people that were around when Mozart, Alexander Graham Bell, and even Steve Jobs were growing up considered them “normal?”

Each of us is unique. Each of us has something about us that makes us different. If society cannot accept this, and must continue to make each and every one of us the same to keep running, then we will simply run out of inventors, scientists and entertainers. If we are not allowed to be divergent, then we will all eventually die out.

From my perspective, the boy in the first autism movie did not appear to be “fine.” He appeared to have some unique behavioral tendencies and some hidden frustration upon learning that his mother used such aggressive methods to make him “normal.”

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I, too, could have forced my child to be “normal.” I could have forced Sam to stay away from theatre, to choose another after-school activity. I could have kicked away his puppets and costumes and made him play with trains and dinosaurs. If I wanted him to be a “typical” 12 year old boy, I, too, could make him play baseball or soccer. I could have told him 3 years ago that auditioning for a touring show called “The Addams Family” is “weird.”

No one ever tried to stop my tics. I know my parents noticed them, but they didn’t try to make me “normal.” One of the other things I do when I’m trying to comprehend the world is to write. If they had taken away all of the things that make me different, would you even be reading this now?

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Techno-thank you

I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve been recovering from the deaths of so many good friends this year. From Homeland to the House of Cards, to Scandal and, most tragically, The Good Wife. I also am having a hard time believing Sue Sylvester actually succeeded in closing down the Glee Club for good. I really, really miss Rob and Rashida on Parks and Recreation. And I’m preparing to assist Sam tomorrow in his grief over the end of HIMYM.

But what’s really got me confused is the way we say goodbye to friendships in real life these days (not that Will Gardner wasn’t real. He was to me.) In the old days, we knew we were friends with someone because we hung out after school. These days, the friendships kids (and even adults), exist mainly in the virtual world.

If someone likes your post on Instagram or Facebook, it’s validation that they like you as a person. If they re-tweet, or pin something to Pinterest or snap chat you, I’m sure that’s a good thing too, I just don’t understand how those things work.

If you accept an invitation to Linkedin or agree to play Candy Crush, you are good buds. Playing words with friends with someone means that you are, in fact, friends.

This week, one of my kids noticed that a friend had un-followed him on Instagram. (I am withholding this child’s name as he feels I invade his privacy). This made him incredibly confused because when he last saw this friend in real life, all was fine. What did he do? Why is she not following him anymore?

I recently made my first bold virtual friendship-ending choice. I defriended 2 people on Facebook. It felt exhilarating, even though they may not notice. I feel better knowing our computerized relationship has come to an end.

I recently spoke to a friend who is getting divorced, so she took herself off of Facebook for the time being. And it made me nervous: how will she know what’s going on with me or vice versa? This, even though I have her phone number and we speak at least once a week. And the friends who are not on social media? Dead to me. Well, not really. But what am I supposed to do? Write them a letter?

Aidan, my 5 year old, was recently given his own mini iPad and texting capabilities as a gift for his upcoming 6th birthday. Yes, you read that right. And when all 3 kids went to bed that night, they had a virtual conversation from their rooms that ended in a virtual fight. I know spell check tried to get involved, but to no avail. To read the excerpts it’s quite hilarious. And it’s also sad. When I used to tell my sister I hated her at night, I would just yell it from my bedroom.

Are we too dependent on technology to function in this world on a personal basis? Could I have just had a verbal confrontation with these 2 people and resolved our issues that way? I know there’s bad stuff going on in the world like in Russia and Crimea, and also where the hell is that Malasyian plane? But then I think, did James really have to die? Poor Cyrus. And what will Alicia do now? She doesn’t love Mr Big like she loved Will.

I don’t know the answers. I could call someone or ask Craig sitting next to me what his thoughts are on all this new technology and does he think it adversely affects interpersonal relationships?

But this conversation seem likes a lot of work. I should probably blog about it and discuss it with the many people who know intricate things about my life, but whom I do not know in real life.

Nah, I’ll just Google the answer. It’s a lot easier to do it that way.

**below are some of the kids nighttime chats. Aidan’s comments are in blue. You can see how he clearly hates his sister and lunch, but loves Webkins and can type the B word.

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The Bad Luck O’ The Jews

Green is not a good color for me.  I have been told I am a winter or autumn and green is really more for the spring complexion folks.  Which is why I have never been a fan of St. Patrick’s Day.  I have also grown up thinking that anything that is green on a piece of food that is not a vegetable is actually mold.  This is an Irish holiday, and everyone used to make their names Irish for the fun of it on this day growing up.  This was fun for the Jennifer Smiths and Steven Jones’ of the world, who could add that O to the front of their last name and laugh at their new Irish last name.  Not for me, though: Allyson O’Ochs. 

Why do the Irish get a holiday where they celebrate how lucky they are?  I grew up in a religion where we were always told how unlucky we are:  The Jews were sent away to wander the desert, the Jews were always being persecuted, the Jews have big noses and unruly hair.

We also have our own language, called Yiddish.  Yiddish is basically a way of saying how awful everything is, in words that only Jews understand.  This is similar to games that children play when they are talking poorly about another child, but they don’t want anyone else to know what they are talking about.

And so, I have created my own holiday to honor my people.  It is called Oy Vey Day.  A Yiddish phrase, it means “oh, how terrible things are.”  It will be held on February 29, because it only comes around every 4 years, and why should we be so lucky to celebrate something EVERY year? 

The color for this holiday will be black.  Why?  Because it is slimming.  And it matches everything.  And if you see someone not wearing black on this day, we will not pinch them.  We will just stare at them with silent judgment until they feel bad that they picked out the outfit that they are currently wearing.

We will drink black wine.  Why?  Because beer…. feh.  It’s goyish.  Wine is classier.  We will also not eat anything that has food coloring in it.  Why?  Because it is chazeri (food that is awful, junk or garbage).

Our leprechaun? The ShemendrickHe steals all our fun with his bad news and bad manners.   

Our four leaf clover?  Luck?  We don’t just find luck out in the forest!  We have to work hard.  Our people have always have to work hard.  We make our own luck by making sure our children go to good schools and get good jobs so we can brag about them. 

How will we celebrate this holiday?  We won’t.  We will complain and feel bad for ourselves until the next Jewish celebration: Purim.  This is where we dress up in costumes (because we can’t celebrate Halloween-those people also persecuted the Jews),  then we will have carnivals where children win goldfish, and we make them feel bad if they don’t take the goldfish home.  Because they will die if you don’t. 

GAY GA ZINTA HATE: Go in good health. Often said in parting but can be spoken with irony to mean, “go do your own thing.” So, you people go enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day.  We will just sit here.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re fine. 

 

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Jesus Christ Superstar

I spend a lot of time pondering. I ponder whether I can get a prescription for medical marijuana for the medical condition called “kids on spring break for a week.” I wonder how I would look in Pharrels hat. Not so good, I imagine. I don’t look good in hats.

But mostly I have spent a lot of time wondering about Jesus. Jesus, who was, I am learning, apparently, quite a disapproving, judgmental fellow. And this confuses me because I know my Christianity facts. I saw both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell on Broadway. I thought Jesus seemed like an ok dude. He even looks like he could have been one of the Brothers Gibb. What went wrong? What made him decide to be so judgmental? Why is he so angry with everyone? Why are people preaching hatred and violence in his name?

But then it hit me: Jesus was Jewish. And at some point, he was like, ugh, I can’t take it anymore. I’m done being a Jew. I gotta start my own religion. This religion is tough. And I gotta say, I agree with you a lot these days, Jesus.

I mean, Jesus: Did you have to have a bris? What kind of a religion forces a mother of a newborn baby boy to have to host a huge party at your home 8 days past childbirth. During this legally required Jewish party, they circumcise your baby boy on your kitchen counter. Even if its granite. The sleep-deprived new mom with mussed up hair and 25 extra pounds, who is in agonizing pain due to stitches in her nether-regions, with milk spontaneously shooting out of her boobs, must, by Jewish law, provide deli trays, cookies and challah to the entire neighborhood. With a smile. I had 2 baby boys. I had to do that twice. I still have PTSD from the experience.

Oh Jesus: did you have a bar mitzvah? Us Jews force our prepubescent children: awkward looking, pimply faced, and seriously confused about who their real friends are, to hold a massive 13th birthday party. We make them memorize a whole bunch of words in Hebrew (that they dont understand), then stand up in front of everyone they know and recite those confusing words. We all laugh at them if they don’t pronounce them correctly. Then, by Jewish law, we most host a huge party. With a theme. And a DJ. And there must be fantastic food. Or there WILL be talk.

The Jews love their food, don’t they Jesus? Every event we have focuses on the food. But we must not eat it. It is fattening.

I’m planning a bar mitzvah now. It’s in 2 months. I’m so stressed out and it’s not me up there singing ancient songs off key. But I would rather stumble through Hebrew again wearing a training bra then deal with caterers and invitations.

Jesus: Us Jews sure know how to celebrate the seasons, right? In the fall we starve ourselves for a full day while simultaneously preparing a large feast. Our winter fun involves pretending we are not jealous of everyone else’s Christmas joy while eating potato pancakes. Then we celebrate spring by eating cardboard paper with horseradish for 8 days.

So yeah, Jesus. I get that you were bitter when you left Judaism. It is not that great. I get that you wanted to start your own deal. That Easter Bunny and Santa Claus thing sounds a lot more fun than what you used to have going on as a Jew. But what’s with all the hatred? Are you still pissed about the matzoh? Did you ever try butter on it?

And if you are not super angry, why do people keep using your name to justify doing bad things and hating people who are different? It’s like you’re the cool guy whose name they keep dropping to make their point. “Jesus said we should.” I used to use that excuse too in high school when I came home past curfew.

I just think it’s not fair to pin it all on you. Take it from a Jew who knows guilt and shame like the back of my hand. These words of hatred did not come from you. They come from people who need a celebrity spokesman to make their point. It’s like Proactiv using Adam Levine to sell their zit cream.

Well, Jesus all I wanna say is this: we might cut off your foreskin at 8 days old and make you throw a party when you are your worst age ever, but we would never say you told us to do it.

Nope. The Jews would never say that a historical religious figure could have forced us to do or believe or feel something we otherwise wouldn’t. We Jews have a much better and easier scapegoat for our religious shenanigans: our parents.

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Quick note to Matthew McConaughey

Hi Matt, (may I call you that?)

I watched your acceptance speech last night and I’ve got a question: What happens if I catch up to me in 10 years and I don’t like what I see? What happens if 52 year old me is cranky, tired, overweight and going through menopause? Can I just say hi to her and then run backwards? Can I spend every day for the rest of my life running away from me in 10 years?

I’m glad you won the Oscar. I saw your movie at 11 am by myself on Friday so I would be fully prepared for my pre-Oscar viewing. My only issue is this: you are a man. You can just decide to lose 100 pounds for a movie and it will happen. Women our age just can’t do that. We can’t even lose the 10 pounds we are trying to lose for our son’s bar mitzvah. So although I’m very happy for you, it’s kind of not fair on many levels.

And finally, although you were probably as shocked as everyone in the musical theatre world was when John Travolta called Idina Menzel the wrong name, I just have to say I sort of feel bad for him. He’s old. He had a “senior moment.” I know that I myself keep calling my kids and my friends by the wrong names, can’t remember why I went to the grocery store, and never know the date offhand when I’m writing a check. I think that Adele Dazeem is probably a Scientology term and he thought he was at a church service.

So, I hope you enjoyed that pizza slice from Ellen. I’m sure you could have had 10 and have been able to button your pants just fine the next day. I know Jennifer Garner sitting behind you probably just looked at that slice, sadly sighed, and chewed on a piece of sugar-free gum to tide her over.

Alright, alright, alright.
Allyson

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Meatballs

I always have a running list of my top 10 favorite movies. I will take one off and add some new ones depending on what has come out that year. Since I was about 8 years old, there has been one movie that has never come off that list: “Meatballs.”

There are many quotable lines and speeches. But the best one, by far, is “It Just Doesn’t Matter.” In that scene, head counselor Tripper (Bill Murray), tries to rally up his campers who are in the midst of their yearly Olympiad with their rival team The Mohawks. Morale among campers is down and even the staff points out that the Mohawks have beaten them every year for 12 years in a row. In an attempt to rile up the campers and staff, Tripper gives them a battle cry speech in which he tells them it doesn’t matter if they win or lose:

“That’s just the attitude we don’t need. Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they’re terrific athletes…IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!” The entire camp starts chanting this chant and it ultimately fires them up to prove Tripper wrong. What they do does matter. They fight harder for the rest of the Olympiad games. The result? They win. They beat the Mohawks. It’s the best.

Arizona SB 1062, the “Anti-Gay, Pro-Discrimination” bill was vetoed today by Governor Jan Brewer. Sure, it’s a minor victory. Yes, we saved ourselves from additional national embarrassment. But at what cost? The Hispanic National Bar Association canceled their 2015 convention that was to be held here. We were made fun of by every single news outlet in the nation (and world-wide too I’m sure, except for in Russia who must have thought Arizona was awesome). And everyone knows that the only reason why she vetoed the bill today and not last Friday when it originally passed in both the House and Senate was because The NFL threatened to pull the Superbowl out of Arizona this year. It took the fucking Superbowl to make her do something. (Which, as many of you remember, is the only reason why Arizona agreed to celebrate Martin Luther King Day here in 1992.)

So now is our moment Arizona. You feel beaten down by the government and you don’t think you can fight anymore? You think that they are bigger and stronger than you are and you will never beat them. That you will never win?

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER

You want to keep voting for these same people who are currently in office? To keep voting on these party lines because that’s how you have always voted? Our Arizona Republicans (and let’s not debate this…every single Republican in the House and Senate voted yes for this bill) told us exactly how they feel about equality, about religion, about anyone who does not believe or feel the way they do. They were put in office to represent how their Republican constituents would want them to vote on every issue. Are you a Republican who was not in support of this bill and who put these people in Office? Then your interests, your beliefs, were not properly represented. So three of them changed their minds. Big flipping deal. They voted yes at first, setting this whole thing in motion. Changing their minds because they might lose their jobs is not bravery. It’s the very definition of cowardice.

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER

Arizona is now synonymous with bigotry, hatred and homophobia. She vetoed it because we were going to lose business. That doesn’t mean she didn’t support it. She allowed SB1070 to go through to allow for legal discrimination based on a foreign appearance. If the businesses didn’t speak up so loud this particular time, would she have vetoed it or let us have two bills based on hatred?

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER

Do you still think that you can’t change things or that “nothing can be done.”? That one little person can’t change the way things are run? I know that I educated most of my followers about this bill through this blog and the only reason I heard about it was through an out of state Facebook friend. The media, the newspapers seemed to hide this story until it could no longer be hidden. Do you think that if all of us did not join up together and shout that it must be stopped that it actually would have?

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER

If you think that our younger generation shouldn’t get involved, that it is too upsetting for them, think about this: my 5 year old helped with the lyrics to our “Just Say No” video. I explained the bill to him in words he could understand and it made him angry. My 10 year old and my 12 year old filmed and edited the video. We all watched Gov. Brewer announce her decision tonight to veto the bill and we all jumped up and high-fived each other. Our little family may have helped kill a bill. The people at Schoolhouse Rock would be proud. My kids now know, for the rest of their lives, that they don’t have to stand for things that they think are unfair.

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER (sing along with me, Arizona!

In the end, we can beat the Mohawks. We can make smart voting decisions. We will all be informed about the laws by reading newspapers and watching the tv and the internet. We will teach future generations what is right and what is wrong. We just need someone to tell us we can’t. And then we will fight harder than ever to make sure we never lose again.

*Dedicated to the memory of Harold Ramis, co-writer of “Meatballs”, who died this week at age 69.

It Just Doesn’t Matter scene from Meatballs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9mf3Bypyk8

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