Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My beef with J-Street

She’s more of a fan of Israel than I am.  To me, Israel was the place that stole my mommy for over a week where she got to make new friends, see amazing sights and fall in love with a new land, and I was left at home.  Needless to say, not all that enthusiastic about the country myself.  But it seems I’m in good company judging from the book we finished last night.  Or rather the book she read while I stared longingly at her sending subliminal messages: play fetch, play fetch, give me treats, give me treats.  I haven’t fully honed this skill but I’ll get there. 

Either way, the author seems to be in my camp about Israel, this head of J-Street Jeremy Ben-Ami.  I’ll give her credit.  My mommy doesn’t just listen to people who agree with her about issues she cares about.  She likes to know what the opposition is saying so that she can make up her own mind.  And make up her own mine she did with every page she turned. 

Seems that this “A New Voice for Israel” would be more aptly titled “A New Voice for the Palestinians” and probably wouldn’t bug her as much had he not touted himself as a faithful Pro-Israel Jew.  But like I said, she just got back from Israel, and is kind of touchy about those who criticize without solutions, water down Judaism, and speak out of both sides of his mouth. 

Example: One of Ben-Ami’s complaints is that the Pro-Israel lobby casts blame on organizations merely based on the fact that they don’t like the politics of their supporters.  So J-Street has contributors that the mainstream lobby doesn’t like and therefore J-Street must be anti-Israel.  Ok, valid complaint.  But then the guy has the gall to turn around and criticize the other side for the exact same thing.  His beef (ah, beef…. I’d like some beef…must find some beef) is that the right wing conservative Pro-Israel groups ally with the Christian Right on Israel while ignoring the fact that they disagree on many other domestic issues.  This from a guy that’s advocating programs with Muslim Americans, setting up rallies for the rights of Palestinians, and is in bed with donors who seem to only have negatives to say about Israel despite their self-proclaimed devotion to the country. 

Can we say hypocrite? Technically I can’t actually say it, but I’m thinking it!

Ben-Ami reminds the reader over and over that liberal Jews are turning away from traditional Judaism and that their voices are being shut out in the discussion about Israel.  Maybe he’s right, but we disagree with the notion that the solution is to water down Judaism, creating a “pick-and-choose” religion filled with alternative rituals, new-agey programs, and services barely recognizable as Jewish. 

Judaism is a religion. Have we all forgotten this?? It’s not a nationality or a stand-alone ethnicity.  It’s a religion and when people try to separate it out, to claim their heritage without shouldering any of the responsibility or commitment to the religion, it makes us a little nutty (ooh, nuts…I’d like some nuts…nuts…feed me nuts…feed me nuts…)

Like I said, I may not be the biggest fan of Israel, but perhaps if I could visit it myself, I’d fall in love with the country just like my mommy did.  And maybe Jeremy Ben-Ami should come with me because I’m not sure which Israel he’s been visiting all of these years, but it’s certainly not the one my mommy just came back from. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tales from a Hollywood outsider

We’re not LA girls.  We didn’t grow up here, she can’t parallel park, she gets lost on the 405, and neither of us could find San Diego on a map to save our lives.  We’re from Arizona, that forgotten desert to our south, where, at least in my book, it’s acceptable to go to the grocery store in your pjs, and it takes 15 minutes to go anywhere.  Plus we have great parking lots.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, and I can’t tell you who the celebrities are that are featured in the magazines by the checkout stand.  We’re both Hollywood outsiders, and I’m pretty ok with that.  I used to live in Malibu and friends would go gaga over the stars we’d see on the beach or be intrigued by the paparazzi swarms that flocked to Cross Creek.  I’d be standing clueless, not recognizing anyone and even if I knew who I was looking for, I didn’t know why he or she was famous in the first place.  This kind of ignorance isn’t really acceptable for a current LA girl. Well maybe I can get away with it, if I wag my tail and look especially cute but not my mom.   Especially my mom who writes for Hollywood Jew. 

But she’s learning.  She now has the TMZ app on her iphone and we’re becoming acquainted with reality TV.  She peruses Huffington Post Entertainment and has bookmarked the Hollywood Reporter website.  It’s a crash course in the Hollywood scene, and we’re cramming.  Why should we care? What is it about these actors and musicians and producers that make them worthy of our time, worthy of taking up space in her already crowded brain? Why should it matter who married whom, who’s getting divorced, who’s wearing a red dress to yet another awards show? Does it matter?

And the answer is of course it does.  It matters not because of the red dress, but because of the influence these people have.  It matters because they help shape the culture where we live, contribute to the atmosphere of creativity, set the standards that so many try to live up to.  It matters because they are living the dream of so many Hollywood hopefuls, and they need to be more than two-dimensional, need to have a human face tacked on to their red carpet images.  It matters because there seem to be a whole lot of people who care a whole lot about what these celebrities eat for breakfast and what kind of pets they tote in their purse.  We don’t happen to care, we like dogs of all sizes, but we aim to please!
It matters because we all matter, whether we are the leading lady or the girl who takes 15 minutes to fit into the parallel parking spot.  

So we’re studying hard and taking notes from celebrity gossipers. And slowly we’re learning how to put our finger or paw on the pulse of the Hollywood scene.  In her pjs. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One of those days

It’s one of those days where she’s in one of those moods for no good reason.  I’m kinda feeling sluggish myself so either it’s contagious or we both woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  Either way, we’re not happy campers today.  This drives my master mom insane.  Me – I’m ok with having a lazy sunny Saturday filled with park and not a lot else. 

But she doesn’t do so well with crankiness.  She has her aforementioned list, so feeling tired and crabby just doesn’t fit into the schedule for today.  Plus, she hasn’t figured out how to take a mental health day.  She still goes about her day and tries to muscle through her carefully planned out activities which inevitably lead to her being snappy with someone she loves, resenting someone she loves, or losing her patience with me.  I personally prefer the first two options.

It’s not so much the crabbiness that bugs her but more the ‘for no good reason’.  I get it.  I like to have something to point my tail at, an understanding of why I’m unhappy – usually in my case it’s pretty clear…lost treat, hungry, disciplined for trying to steal dropped food, etc.  So it’s just one of those days where we’ll power thru and pray for bedtime.

Or maybe she could take some cues from me and spend the day napping in the sun, cuddling with me, and taking some alone time to muddle through the hours in quiet relaxation instead of washing the car, going grocery shopping, searching for a duvet cover, writing birthday cards, vacuuming, and cleaning the kitchen stove. 

Let’s cast our votes for what to do today… 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Empty baskets on Black Friday

It’s black Friday, although I’m not entirely clear on the name since the sun is out here and it’s a beautiful day.  But nonetheless, people have already taken to the stores and are busy waiting in lines and swiping strange plastic rectangles.  I’m not such a fan of shopping, unless it’s at places that a) sell dog treats, b) drop a lot of food – i.e. food courts, or c) are filled with people eating who might share. 

I’m grateful that my mom doesn’t seem to be a shopper either.  She’s like a speed racer – running in, scanning the racks, and then running out, often empty handed.  She’s funny.  We’ll get in the checkout line with a basket of stuff, and one by one as we inch forward, she manages to talk herself out of each thing until our basket is empty and we don’t have to wait in line anymore. 

It seems to be something about need versus want.  There are few things she needs – and those she’s always good about stocking up on.  But then there are all of those things that she wants, and those seemingly are taboo.  I guess the rule is you’re not supposed to want things that you don’t need because that makes you spoiled or selfish or greedy or materialist, all very very very bad things apparently. 

It makes sense not to buy things that you might not use or if you have no money and are living in a box, then clearly just stick with the need items.  But we have this cozy apartment and since she spoils me with new treats and toys, I would think that she could get at least the same treatment.  Plus, she’s always good about buying gifts for people – even ‘just because I love you’ gifts but again, for her not so much. And yet, things that she wants she doesn’t like to admit.  She likes to appear want-less, bordering on need-less, as if that makes her a better person.  

But it’s a lie.  I know it because I see how she can fill up shopping carts with cute sweatshirts and new hats, journals and trinkets.  Not that we come home with any of them because they all fall into the category of want and therefore end up back on the shelves. 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled we weren’t lined up at 3 am to cash in on black Friday sales today and I can think of better ways to spend a weekend than in the mall.  But still, I think that my mom should get to have wants and still not be spoiled or greedy. 

And if I had opposable thumbs and my own strange plastic card, I’d help but until then, I’ll just hope she learns how to give herself “just because I love you” gifts.

Weight gain plan

We’re on a weight gain plan at our house, which suits me just fine.  Really I’ve been a subscriber to this plan from day one, but it’s my mommy’s twin, the evil master who always foils my plans.  I mean really, I find perfectly good pizza crusts and chicken bones that fit right into my diet, and then she steals them from me.  Actually prying open my jaws and snatching the food.  That’s just not polite! I’d share if she’d ask nicely but she’s not usually a happy camper when I have my jaws clamped down on a leftover chocolate bar, so then I don’t even want to share!

But seriously, this diet thing has gone on long enough and I’m hungry.  I know, I know, it’s better for my joints and I have a ton more energy now that I’m not overweight…all the better to race away in search of food!  But I’m always up for a tasty treat or really anything remotely edible, and I don’t get why she doesn’t feel the same way.  She’s even skinnier than I am, and has a fridge stuffed with food.  What’s the problem? Why doesn’t she want to eat it? It’s right there and I don’t have opposable thumbs so no one’s going to prying open her jaws. 

And yet, she sits down every day to salad. Salad three times a day.  Literally lettuce and dressing and sometimes some toppings.  Let’s be clear – I’d eat it if she’d let me but really, I’d almost prefer leaves and mud…more flavor.  I watch her nibble when we’re out to dinner, and smile politely while passing on dessert and I don’t understand.  What’s wrong with this girl? Why is so scared of that machine with numbers in the bathroom? Is that her evil master? 

I want to be spry and painless but I’d be fine with waddling! So since she’s my mommy and obviously perfect, I figure it must be the human world that’s broken.  Because in doggy land, we like food.  We eat food whenever and wherever we can.  So maybe there’s different rules in the human world? Is that it? So I have some choice words for this human world. Stop telling my mommy that skinny means success, and thin is better and the boniest is the winner.  Stop giving her messages of not good enough, too much, too big, doesn’t measure up.  Be nicer to her.  She needs more pats and cuddles and less critical training.  She’s got the lessons down pat.  She’s too well trained, as are so many humans that I run into on our walks and at the park.  I think my mommy needs to take some cues from doggyland.

  1. Food is delicious and meant to be eaten.
  2.  Eat desserts first because someone else might come and steal them.
  3.  Bony means uncomfortable laps to sit in and not enough padding for cuddling.
  4. Healthy doesn’t mean fat. Healthy is having energy for lots of walks and games of fetch.
  5. Lettuce is yummy every now and then but really it’s for the rabbits, and neither of us qualify.

Needless to say, I’m a very willing participant in this weight gain plan.  I just hope her evil master lets her join me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I don’t really think she’s going to have a hard time with this homework assignment.  Let’s see…I was disappointed when she didn’t share her stir-fry dinner, when we left the park, and when she stole the crust I found on our walk.  Done.  Disappointed three times…that wasn’t so hard!

Humm…the wise man she pays for advice might have said, “disappoint three people” but then again, if he wasn’t counting me as a person, then he’s not that bright after all.  Still, she may have a bit more work to do this week. 

But I will agree with her.  Disappointment is way worse than anger.  Anger is fleeting. Anger seems justified.  There’s an event, a misstep, a sharp comment that warrants the anger.  It’s because of something she or sometimes even I do.  Example: yesterday at the park some fairy godmother had strewn pound cake all around the base of a tree, clearly a treat for one miss Gracie Joy.  I went to cash in, and my evil mommy pounced on me, dragged me away from my gifts, and then made me sit and say to ponder my disobedience.  I was angry! Well, also disappointed, but more mad.  And then I got over it and she gave me lots of kisses and pats and slices of carrots and all was good. 

But when someone says that they’re disappointed in me, that feels personal.  That’s because of a character flaw, some inherent badness in me and not just because of a behavior.  Hence on the balance sheet, disappointment definitely outweighs anger.  But is it merely a matter of semantics or is there really a difference? Does one say they’re disappointed and another say they’re frustrated and they mean the same thing? Nope, disappointment still feels worse.  It’s a word that’s laden with history and judgment, a global assessment of coming up short.  An in-your-face statement of not being good enough.

Ooh. That’s a big one for her.  Not being good enough.  I’m still not clear on for whom this applies.  She’s good enough for me, although she’d be better if we lived at the park and I could eat whatever I want, but aside from that, for sure good enough.  And yet, there’s this standard of perfection: eternal happiness, banned from crankiness, pleasant and smiley, successful and witty, energetic and accommodating that seems to set the bar insanely high. 

I, on the other hand, am more than good enough.  I look cute, wag my tail, come most often when called, listen occasionally, and am enthusiastic 100% of the time in anticipation of food.  I know sometimes I fall down on my obedience skills, but I also know that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough.  Even my mommy wouldn’t say that.  She says I was distracted, I couldn’t hear her, I was hungry, or I wasn’t feeling well that day.  She always has excuses and justifications for me, but they don’t seem to apply to her. 

How come she doesn’t get to be crabby or tired, sad or angry? I know there are days when she’s distracted, hungry, lost in her own head, and tired but still she doesn’t seem to be able to remember the excuses or reasons why that’s ok.  Instead, she becomes NOT GOOD ENOUGH all around.  Maybe we’ll start small.  Just like training when I used to get a treat just for looking up when she said my name (God I miss those days!), maybe she could practice not being good enough just in that moment instead of globally.  Or even one better, she could just recycle the justifications she uses for me and apply them for her.

See, she doesn’t need to pay someone for advice.  I’ve got all the answers right here.  And for the right treats, I will gladly share my wisdom.

Grateful to be a dog

It seems funny to set a day aside to be grateful.  I don’t really get it.  I’m pretty grateful all of the time, and I show it by excessive licking on the people I love the most.  They don’t always appreciate my gratitude but I think they get the message anyway.  But I know that there’s this Thanksgiving thing where everyone gets all in a tizzy cooking (which by the way I am happy to help out with leftovers, dropped morsels, or even plates left unattended!) and speaks about being thankful for their blessings and grateful for the gifts in their lives.  Sounds great, but shouldn’t that be an every day thing?

My mom used to write every night in this little book five things she was grateful for.  Obviously, I was usually at the top of the list, along with friends, family, and other small joys like the warm sunshine, feeling energetic, having legs that can run and eyes that can see.  It was a good practice, but for some reason she doesn’t do it anymore.  I don’t think it’s that she doesn’t like those things anymore. Rather I think that she forgot that it was important amid the cachophony of daily living. 

It seems to be due to something called “stress” and “anxiety” which I don’t really understand.  Well, I take that back.  When I’m wandering towards spotted food at the park and my mom is yelling for me, I feel a moment of stress at the impending trouble I’m going to be in when I ignore her command to “COME!! RIGHT NOW!!” but then I’m happy-go-lucky as I trot off in search of my hidden treat.  But my mom, also known as Lauren to other tall beings, seems to feel “stress” and “anxiety” even when no one is yelling at her to come!

She has this list that never seems to end.  Her list is like her leash, always tugging at her neck, pulling her back from good smells and grassy fields to explore.  I hate the list because a) it makes her “stressed” b) I have to wait in the car sometimes while she runs errands to check off on her list and c) we have to leave the park to do things on the list! And it’s not even my list!  You’d think that we’d finish the list and then we’d get to be done, but no…this is a magic list that never seems to end.  The to-do list that rules her days and yanks on her neck. 

So maybe the gratitude list helped with the stress and maybe it didn’t.  But I’m voting to instate gratitude on a daily basis and not just one day a year.  And today I’m grateful for:
  1.   my mom
  2. the park
  3. yummy food
  4. my doggy friends: Tillie Lou, Parker, Coltrane, Moose, and Navarre
  5.  treats
  6.  playing fetch
  7. dropped food
  8.  my aunts: Tammy, Shalene, Linda, and Lise
  9.  treats
  10.  anything edible (sense the theme??)

I get to walk off leash in the neighborhood and at the park I roam free.  I wonder when she gets to take off her leash…