Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kissing the single life goodbye at Hershey tonight with Bruce

Tonight marks my 39th Bruce Springsteen show.

I actually bought tickets to numbers 39 and 40 during the most recent onsale, then the fiancé and I decided that we couldn't miss that much school and gave the Hershey Park tickets to my parents.

Then a bit of a family emergency struck and we realized we weren't going to make it to the Mohegan Sun show, and my parents, knowing what Bruce has meant to me, offered us the Hershey tickets back. The fiancé now couldn't make it on a weeknight, so it's me and my dad making the drive tonight.

Which I think serves as a great bookend to a certain era of my life.

My journey with Bruce shows began eleven years ago in Richmond on the Rising tour. My brother had suggested that we get my dad Bruce tickets for Father's Day the year before, but we never managed to get our acts together on that. And his birthday was in February, so the following year, I found excessively over-priced secondary market tickets (I didn't know any better yet!) for behind the stage in Richmond. My brother couldn't go, my mother didn't want to on a school night, and so dad and I went alone.

I was still in school. We left after my last class of the day, driving down in my father's car, joking that as we arrived in his BMW convertible, I looked like his midlife crisis wife or girlfriend, not his daughter. We listened to a compilation of songs I had put together based on recent setlists and I remember my father joking that we were passing "the part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop." And I asked him what song he most wanted to hear that night. He named "For You," which we knew was a long shot.

I was in one of many rough patches that year.  I had fallen out with my entire crew when my best friend of the last six years and I stopped talking. It was that relationship, not a boyfriend, that inspired Beyond the Palace a few years later. That's the one relationship in my life that left a permanent scar. And even now, it aches to remember that loss. It was necessary to cut each other loose, but I was lost after that for a very long time.

But something in me clicked that night when the lights went down. For the first time, I felt something that fed that "hunger you can't resist" that Bruce sings about. I know the people who haven't felt that are shaking their heads at me, but the ones who have are nodding. And I know they're out there because I've met them over the last eleven years. I've made some amazing friends because I discovered that there were other people who felt the same loneliness that I was engulfed in and who felt it lessened with each show. They are the rabid fans who can pick themselves out in the videos, who were there when I danced on stage in Charlottesville, who read Beyond the Palace and who wanted desperately for me to be Laura, not understanding that the reason they connected with the book wasn't because I was Laura, but because I was Ben.

At first, it was me and my dad because it was our thing. My brother had annual ski trips with him, but the concerts were mine. My Uncle Mike joined us from time to time and started being my date to shows dad couldn't make it to. He was the "real fan" in the family, with more than 200 shows under his belt, and I remember his friends quizzing me on lyrics and classic shows on the drive up to Shea Stadium in 2003 before deeming me worthy of the ticket my uncle shared with me. I treasure the memories of my shows with him as much as those with my dad. It created a bond between us that is unshakeable, and he is responsible for some of my favorite concert memories and a few key scenes in Beyond the Palace as well. And he claims that it's in his will that I inherit his Bruce collection, because I'll appreciate it more than my cousins could.
Uncle Mike in his "Born to Run" shirt, holding me as a baby

In 2008, I was in another of those impossibly rough patches. I was drowning at school, and it was just months after we lost my Uncle Jules, to whom Beyond the Palace is dedicated. He gave me a typewriter when I was eight years old and told me I should be a writer. And losing him hit the whole family with the destructive force of a hurricane. I did a double header of shows that August, going back to Richmond with some friends and then skipping the first day back at school for teachers to go to Hershey Park with my dad. And as was now our tradition, we picked the song we most wanted to hear. We had luck with "For You" at that first show, and even "Santa Ana" in 2005, which will be the song my dad and I will dance to at my wedding, as the "giants of science" line has always reminded me of him. But that night was my 20th show, dad's 10th, and somehow we hadn't seen "Jungleland" yet. And at the opening notes that night, I began to cry. It was one of the most cathartic moments of my life. It was the first time in a long time that I could believe things would again be okay. And my dad put his arm around me without saying a word; without needing to, because he understood.

As this most recent tour began, for the first time since March 6, 2003, I don't feel that deep-seated need to be at as many shows as possible. Maybe I've grown up a bit. Maybe it's because I finally have found that connection that Bruce has always said the characters in his songs are seeking.

Or maybe it's just been too long since my last show and I'll come home tonight and cry because my Mohegan Sun tickets are gone. I've warned the fiancé that that is a distinct possibility.

Thank you to my mother, for giving up your ticket to let me go with dad tonight. It's my last show that I'll attend with him while I still bear his last name. And while I'm sure there are more shows in our future, there's something magical to me in getting to go to this show with him.

And Bruce, if you're reading (hey, a girl can dream, right?), the song I want to hear most is "Sandy." It's what my parents will walk me down the aisle to next month as I begin this next chapter of my life.

Thank you everyone who has been a part of this ride, and I can't wait to start the next stage, where I can introduce you to my new husband at shows!  And I'll see you all further on up the road.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The wedding registry: One small step for man, one giant step toward being able to live together on a teacher’s salary

While I am definitely not a “wedding girl,” I have to admit that I’ve gotten into a few aspects of planning the big day. I have a venue, a date, a DJ and a photographer. And the fiancé has been wonderful and booked the honeymoon for us.

I even have a real wedding dress. It’s white and lacy and everything. It was obtained with ease at the second store that I went to. The first store was a horrific nightmare starring an evil witch who banished my mother from the dressing room, ignored everything I told her, and then kept forcing me into puffy monstrosities that made me look like a marshmallow Moby Dick until I sobbed that I was fat and didn’t want a wedding. Literally. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if she chased me through the store with a harpoon yelling, “Call me Ishmael!” The evil witch wouldn’t leave me alone until I squealed that I was a little piggy who didn’t deserve to get married.

Then I went to P. Lawrence in the Kentlands, had a lovely experience, and emerged an hour later looking forward to my wedding again.  

So with the dress ordered, I started to get excited about the idea of registering for gifts. I mean, this is pretty much the only time in your life when you can pick out the exact presents that you want and force people to buy them for you (ignoring the fact that I’ve hacked my dad’s Amazon Prime password and can therefore pick out presents for myself and order them, forcing HIM to pay for them with free two-day shipping… that’s a close second to a wedding in a lot of ways. But he screams at me and then changes his password if I buy anything too extravagant on his account, so that has to be used with caution).  

So on Saturday, the fiancé and I set out for the mall.

The end result of which was shockingly similar to the first wedding dress shopping experience, because I wound up curled in the fetal position, sobbing that I didn’t want a wedding.

Retail does not seem to be my friend these days.
What could have happened to turn shopping into something so horrible?

Well, to start with, I was completely overwhelmed. The fiancé and I are in the process of selling my bachelorette pad and buying our perfect suburban dream house. Which, shockingly, was much easier than I could have imagined. We found a buyer for the condo, fell in love with the perfect house, made an offer, and boom! We’re moving in a month! (Message me if you need the best real estate agent in the DC area. Seriously. He’s amazing.)

Which is all wonderful and happy and the birds are singing and I’m so excited about it that I don’t even care that the new Bruce album comes out tomorrow. (Besides, I’ve had it for three weeks. And stopped listening to it two weeks ago. Next.)

But it means we need a LOT of stuff. Yes, my one bedroom condo was pretty full, but it’s not going to make a dent in a five-bedroom house. And the fiancé has declared the new house to be an Ikea-free zone, so none of my furniture is making the trek with us.

AKA we need pretty much EVERYTHING.

Which is fine. I’m my mother’s daughter, so I’m a pretty freaking awesome shopper. No, I’m not quite at her level, because she can walk into stores and basically have them pay HER to take clothes (or at least that’s how she explains her purchases to my father, a trait handed down from my grandmother. You can buy anything as long as it’s a bah-gan (bargain with a Gloucester, Massachusetts accent). But I’m good. So picking out all new stuff that I don’t even have to pay for? Piece of cake.

Or it would be, if I was just shopping for myself.

Here we reach a problem—I have pretty much the only fiancé in the world who not only has a distinct opinion about every single thing we put in our house, but he was also raised in a much wealthier area than I was. So while he wouldn’t characterize his family as “rich” per se, the idea of shopping anywhere below the level of Bloomingdales is as abhorrent to him as the idea of shopping below the level of Target is to me. Like I’m pretty sure he equates Bed Bath and Beyond to Walmart or Big Lots.

And I didn’t understand that prior to Saturday.

So savvy shopper that I am, I figured, okay, we’ll start at Bloomingdales. He’ll see how absurd the prices are, laugh, and say okay, let’s go somewhere reasonable.

I like Bloomingdales. It’s one of my go-to stores when I need a really nice formal dress. No, I don’t buy anything else there. But formal dresses, if they’re on sale, are doable at Bloomingdales.

Unfortunately, my plan backfired, because when I laughed at the absurdity of spending $750 on a duvet cover before even factoring in pillow shams or anything else to go WITH the duvet cover, my fiancé said, “Wow, that’s a good deal.”

I laughed harder, and he looked at me uncomprehendingly. “What?” he asked. “It’s on sale. It WAS $1200.”

And suddenly, I realized that he wasn’t screwing with me. He actually thought $750 for duvet cover was a good price. And that a $3,000 set of four pieces of cookware was a steal. You don’t even want to think about what he was willing to spend on towels. I did a quick tally in my head and calculated that at the prices he was considering, a casual dining set would cost more than our combined gross income for two years.

It was time to regroup. If we registered the way that he wanted to, it would take all of our guests combining their gifts to buy a full set of bedroom linens, before we even got into anything like dinnerware, cookware, glassware, or silverware.

So, faking a deathly allergy to Chanel perfume, I dragged him out of the store.

We tried Crate and Barrel, which he conceded was tolerable, despite having never heard of it (how has anyone never heard of Crate and Barrel? I wanted to register there for my bat mitzvah, but my mom wouldn’t let me!), but we honestly didn’t know where to start. And when he began admiring the $3,000 dressers, I debated tattooing the words “Teacher’s Salary” across my forehead.

And then I took another page from my mother and grandmother’s book. Bribery. I had come prepared with Reese’s peanut butter cups in my purse, which are the fiancé’s kryptonite. Just as I can be placed under a hypnotic spell by pretty shoes, peanut butter cups allow me near-total mind control over my beloved future husband. A man’s secret weakness is necessary for any woman who plans to spend her life with him to know, as long as it is only used for purposes of good, not evil.

So a handful of peanut butter cups later, we got to Bed Bath and Beyond. Where he insisted on registering for a $200 sheet set in Exorcist-vomit green.  

Which I took as progress. One small step for man, one giant step toward being able to live together on a teacher’s salary. That kind of thing.

And at least I can modify the Bed Bath and Beyond registry from home.

But when we turned in our scanning gun to go home from an eight-hour day of shopping, the guy manning the registry counter looked surprised. “Still getting married?” he asked us.

Apparently we’re not the only ones who found registering to be a complicated process. But at least they sell peanut butter cups there, for future registry excursions.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear everyone: Stop asking me where the ring is. If I knew, it would be on my finger, not in his sock drawer--I mean--wait--what?

Sorry for the lack of blogs lately folks—it’s been a whirlwind of activity at Casa de Goodman between getting an awesome agent for my newest book (which is currently “out for submission”—love it!!!), school starting back up, and, in much sadder news, my grandfather dying.

I considered writing about him, but this is a humor blog (For anyone who may be new to my blog or who may have missed the fact that the entire thing is intended to be funny, that’s what I’m here for—entertainment value only. Most of what I do here is satire, designed to exaggerate and make fun of myself. The narrator of my blog is a caricature, not an accurate representation of me as a person.  I take events from real life and twist them out of proportion to make them funny through hyperbole.), and Grandpa loved nothing better than a good laugh, so I figured the best tribute I could give him was to stick to my normal posts.

(This was referenced in my uncle's eulogy because my grandfather was, in fact, buried with his five wood.  And Grandpa would have been laughing the hardest of anyone in the room at the reference.)

And there IS something else big going on at Casa de Goodman right now. I’m just not supposed to know about it.

The boyfriend and I are rapidly approaching the one year mark of our relationship. In common parlance, known as an “anniversary.” And while prior to meeting him, I was staunchly in the school of advising everyone to wait before committing to anything, I’ve switched teams and now hit for camp “When it’s right, it’s right.” (Did I mix too many metaphors there? I feel like I’m yelling, “Hit a touchdown!” at a baseball game… oh well…)

Maybe it’s because I’m a little older. Maybe it’s because everyone I see is checking my left hand with unabashed frequency. Maybe it’s because six (yes, count them, SIX) of my Facebook friends currently have profile pictures of themselves kissing their significant other with an engagement ringed-hand in the shot. Or maybe it’s all of my relatives repeatedly asking “So nu ven?” (Which is apparently Yiddish for, “When’s it gonna happen?”.)

But whatever the reason, I’ve turned into the girl I never expected to be. The girl who is absolutely DYING to get engaged.

I still don’t want a real wedding. My dream wedding is still Rabbi Elvis in Vegas with NONE of you invited. But my best friend has vowed to stalk me and bring both my mother and grandmother to Vegas with her if I elope without telling her, and I am fully aware that if my mother and grandmother are not at my wedding, the level of Jewish-guilt/wrath will make the ten plagues look pleasant. So I’ll probably do some version of a real wedding, but that’s not what I’m interested in right now.

Right now, I’ve turned 100 percent into Gollum (but with better hair and makeup… although I may go on his diet plan if my mother plans to force me into a puffy white dress), desiring nothing more than that precious, precious ring.

Which probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t happen to know that he already has it. Yes. Sorry, honey, your secret is out.

You see, like all good Jewish girls, my grandma (or bubbe if you will) has a jeweler friend who has been telling me since I was five to go to her when it was time to get engaged. Actually, she’s probably been saying that since before I was five, but I only remember it starting then. I’m picturing her cooing into my cradle, Sleeping Beauty-godmother style, “And when she’s old enough, I’ll give her the gift of a gorgeous diamond at a wholesale price.”

And while my grandmother claims she’s able to keep a secret, with all the hullabaloo surrounding my grandfather being in the hospital, there was no keeping the secret that she and the boyfriend went shopping.

So now, because I know he has it, and because he knows that I know he has it, the boyfriend has begun an active campaign of torturing me. Okay, maybe it’s not an active campaign, but it feels like it. Because whenever I try to get any kind of a hint as to when he’s going to pop the question, the only answer he’ll give me is that he loves giraffes and monkeys that throw poop.

Like he’s started texting me with emojis of monkeys and poop.

Actual text from the boyfriend.  Which I interpret to mean, "Kisses to you, my angry chicken baby, monkeys throw poop and push penguins into volcanoes."  Perfectly logical in every way.
Which yes, makes me laugh, but I’m not even sure if he’s ACTUALLY saying these things or if my weirdo girl lizard brain has gone completely Gollum-style ring crazy and if I’m just hearing utter gibberish whenever he ISN’T talking about the ring.

It also doesn’t help that there are a very limited amount of hiding places in our apartment, and when I can’t sleep at night (which is a frequent occurrence), I feel like there’s this odd, pulsating, diamond-like object calling to me from his dresser. I won’t get near it, because I know the pull of the One Ring is strong. But I can sense its presence.

And the only thing that he WILL tell me is that he’s planning something special. And I want to let him do this his way and let him make it special.  So I know better than to go looking, and I’m trying not to talk about it too often.

By which I mean that I’ve limited my questions about when we’re getting engaged to three times per hour. Relationships are full of compromises, people!

Lucky for him, my romantic standards are notoriously low. For which we can thank my parents, who got engaged when my mother told my father to “defecate* or get off the pot.”
*”defecate” was not the word that she used.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the super romantic story of how my parents formed the union that created me. So I’ve warned the boyfriend that as long as I don’t have to use that particular expression, anything at all that he plans will be magical and wonderful and romantic.

Even if it DOES involve monkeys throwing their poop.

Thank you, mom, for instilling me with such low expectations when it comes to romance.

Which means that until he decides to make his move, I’m planning to wait patiently. Okay, as patiently as I can. But at least he knows I’ll say yes.


 K thanks!

(And if you still haven’t gotten the message that this is satire and are sitting there reading this thinking, “Oh my God, her poor boyfriend! Why does he put up with that girl?”, you should know that he reads my blogs before I post them, totally gets my sense of humor, and loves me for the crazy weirdo that I am—just like I love him for the crazy weirdo that he is. It’s a match made in crazy weirdo heaven. Which makes sense, since my crazy weirdo mom* and his crazy weirdo aunt* set us up. Crazy weirdo yenta-devised love all around!)

*Neither of you is a crazy weirdo. Please don’t hurt me. I love you guys! <3

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The NSA wants my cell phone data? Meh. Most of it is on Facebook anyway!

So this whole "the government is going all Big Brother on us" thing is everywhere right now, and I’ve come to an important conclusion about it all.

I don’t really care.

Like I know that, as an American, I should care that my Fourth Amendment rights are potentially being violated. But honestly, I had to Google what the Fourth Amendment even was. And considering that we’re talking about an amendment written so far before the existence of cell phones that it was fifteen whole amendments before women were allowed to vote, I’m not sure that it’s actually being violated here.

In talking to a lot of my friends, I found many of them (except for the extreme righties, who are still protesting the amendment that gave my kind and people of other races the right to vote and who claim creationism is the only thing that should be taught in schools) don’t care either.

But Sara, you freaked out over all of Bush’s Homeland Security stuff! You’re such a hypocrite! You’re only saying this stuff is okay because you support Obama.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong.

I DO support Obama. I’m the freaking poster child for supporting Obama. I own a sparkly Obama tank top.

And wore said tank top on stage with Bruce Springsteen. Because that’s how I roll.

But there are several key factors that I feel aren’t being addressed here.

For starters, I’ll admit, when the idea of Homeland Security stuff was first introduced, it sounded scary. It felt like the Harold and Kumar 2 version, where the dumbest possible people were going to look for the worst in everyone and we’d all end up with Big Bob in Guantanamo if we even said the word “bomb” within thirty miles of an airport.

Want to know how much my daily life has changed since then?

Not a whole lot. Is it annoying that I have to check my luggage to go anywhere because I’m incapable of packing my toiletries in small enough containers to carry on? Yes. But I don’t travel that often. And if we’re being entirely honest, that is the full extent to which the NSA has overall interfered with the quality of my life.

So with that said, if the government has already been monitoring my phone records without my knowledge and it hasn’t been a problem, I’m fine with them continuing to do so. If they start sending the SWAT team in every time I text my best friend that I’m going to kill my mother (which I would NEVER say, mom, honest! Please don’t hurt me!) then okay, I feel my Fourth Amendment rights are being violated.

But, at least as far as we’re being told, they’re only monitoring who people are contacting, not the content of phone calls or text messages. So the government now knows that my dad calls me every three minutes for approximately nine seconds, that my best friends and I text a lot, and that my mother calls me every single afternoon at the very second that she leaves work/as soon as I start working out. Oooooooh. Seriously important stuff here people!

The truth is though that for law-abiding citizens, cell phone records aren’t exactly super incriminating. Sure, you don’t want your significant other getting ahold of them if you’re cheating. But the government doesn’t care if you cheat. The media does, if you’re famous, but the government practically condones cheating.Hell, so many people in the government itself cheat that they’d probably cover for you, if that’s what you’re worried about!

It’s also worth noting that anyone who thinks they have any privacy, yet uses a smart phone/has a Facebook or other social media account/uses a cell phone at all for that matter, is an idiot. Even if you DON’T walk around in public having excessively loud cell phone conversations about extremely personal matters (which most of us do), it’s super easy for people to hack cell phones. Not me, because A) I don’t have those skills and B) I don’t care, but people who DO care can hear your conversations if they want to regardless of who they are/if they work for the government. And if you’re updating your Facebook with what you ate for dinner every night, you’re broadcasting your every move to the world anyway. Why do you really care if the government knows WHO you’re talking to when you’re putting all that info out there on your own?

And to be totally honest again, even if the government actually WANTS to listen to my conversations and read my text messages, it would be a HUGE waste of their time, but I don’t care that much.

Want to know what they would learn?

Here’s the conversation that my mother and I have every day.

(Phone rings) Me (without even looking at the caller ID): Hi mom.

My mom: (Depressed Eyore voice) Hi Sara.

Me: What’s up?

My mom: Ugh, I’m just leaving work. (Pause) Are you at the gym?

Me: Yup.

My mom: I should go to the gym. But I had such a long day. Blah blah work blah blah feel fat blah blah work blah blah your father blah blah work blah blah blah you’re a horrible person and fail at life blah blah.

Me: I actually had something interesting happen today. I—

My mom: I’m pulling into the garage, gotta go, bye!

Me: Sigh.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. I pity the government agent whose job it is to listen to that EVERY DAY. Really. I do. But if they want to, cool. Good for them.

And if they want to read my text messages, they’ll see a lot of conversations with Ary about the zombie apocalypse (don’t ask), a lot of emoji combinations that are code for “I’m going to jump off a building” and “I super lesbian love you” between me and Darya, messages telling the boyfriend that I’m heading to the gym and asking what he wants for dinner, and ten billion pictures of Rosie. And a bunch of pictures of Rosie pooping, which I send to the boyfriend. Yes, I’m a weirdo. But he laughs every time I send those, so it’s really okay. And he even makes up little songs about her pooping. We really are the perfect couple.

But I’m getting off track. If the government wants to see all that, then yes, they too can see pictures of my dog defecating. In fact, I’m happy to send those pictures to them if they want (I even have a few politicians topping my list of people whom I’d like to send pictures of Rosie pooping to! John Boehner, be ready!) Now if they start coming after me to see if I scoop the poop based on those pictures, I’ll start yelling about my Fourth Amendment rights, but until then, I’m cool.

Yes, I would be much more freaked if we were still in the Bush years. NOT because I’m a diehard Democrat (see pictures above) and being a hypocrite, but because I trust the Obama administration to not misinterpret what they see in my messages. I’m half convinced that the Bush administration went into Iraq over a text acronym that someone intended to mean, “Where’s My Dinner?” or something along those lines. With Obama, at least I’m not worried that an army of NSA SWAT guerrillas will come swinging in through my windows screaming about “Weapons of Terrorist Functions” if I text my best friend and ask her WTF she’s talking about when she starts saying where we should hide when the zombies come for us.

Although, maybe the government SHOULD be reading our conversations. I’d rather be safe than sorry when the zombies DO rise up. Which, according to Ary, is happening any day now.

Which actually concerns me more than Verizon’s cooperation with the government.