My father, the Jewish comedian

A couple of weeks ago, my 71-year-old father had a chance to participate in an open mic variety show in Charlotte. He did a 5-minute stand-up routine doing the Jewish shtick I’ve heard my whole life, but that he had never done in front of an audience before. He’s quite good, I must say. I nudged him to post this video on YouTube, which he’d never used before. I told him it will go viral. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and I’ve tried to manage expectations.

But, do I have a new blog, or do I have a new blog, right?

So go ahead and click on it and like it and share it. It’ll be a great Father’s Day.


Two Degrees

The holidays are a funny time. One remembers things such that he is only two degrees separated from ___ ___.

I have very few living blood relatives, but among them is a second cousin whose $100,000 Bar Mitzvah I attended at a posh New York City hotel some twenty years ago. In recent years, until very recently, he was romantically linked to one of the biggest superstars on the planet.

Somehow I had forgotten this. Not that it matters in any way whatsoever, other than having a ready anecdote when asked that question, “What celebrity connections do you have?”

I won’t fill in the blank, because that would result in a bunch of unnecessary Google traffic. But damn, it’s quite odd just how juicy it all is, and how it had completely slipped my mind.

The most untoastiest week

I used to write about deeply personal matters in a protected LiveJournal. I haven’t been doing that in awhile. I had become addicted to the notion that at least few people were reading it and cared, and gradually I realized that these few people either didn’t care or cared in a way I was uncomfortable with. That leaves me with this blog. I go out of my way regularly to mention the purposeful lack of focus and probable lack of relevancy to it. It’s my way of trying to insulate myself from the inevitable, “Why do you think anyone cares?” comment or unposted thought. My hope is that most readers simply skip uninteresting posts and stop looking all together if the ratio of interesting to uninteresting gets too low.

So this is a post for purely egotistical reasons. I’d rather not know what anyone thinks. No comments allowed for this entry, and I’d prefer no comments on unrelated posts or emails.

I had enjoyed a nice break last weekend, a (queue Barry Manilow) Weekend in New England. Travel is always tiring, but I felt fine upon returning home on Sunday. I woke in the middle of the night between Sunday and Monday with some horrible kidney pains. There is the chronic discomfort I’ve been trying to cope with, but then there is, once or twice a year, an episode of far worse pain. The likely cause is an infection, a cyst rupture, or both. Treatment is a regimen of painkillers and antibiotics. No relief yet four days into this. The doctor said, half-seriously, that one option would be to remove the kidney causing the pain, which probably looks something like the kidney on the right (with a healthy kidney on the left).

Of course, removal of one kidney when overall kidney function is at 22% would result in a need for immediate dialysis. I’m not planning on having to do dialysis for awhile.

The far worse discomfort this week has been the passing of my grandmother. Her health had been in decline for a couple of years and acutely for the past few months. She knew her time was short, and I was able to say goodbye in person a few weeks ago. Her last couple of days were spent in hospice care, and she did die in her sleep. But prior to that, she was in terrible pain. Truly, the last few months of her life were terribly unpleasant.

I am off to New Jersey and New York shortly for the funeral and to be with family.

Above all else, my grandmother wanted her family to take care of themselves. She worried that we weren’t, and she was right. So I’m trying.

My grandmother and I (August 2006)

Never seeing home again

Imagine that you spend your whole life in one city and nearly half of it in one apartment. You hope to be able to die in this apartment. One day, an emergency causes you to have to leave your apartment. You realize you may not be able to return to your apartment soon. You may not even be able to live there again. But all your stuff, a lifetime of stuff, is there, and you imagine you’ll have a chance to go through it. But then, with little warning, you’re shuttled away from where you’ve spent your entire life and told you’re never going to see your apartment again.

As I began to write about this scenario, I realized it sounds an awful lot like I’m talking about someone in Southern California whose home has been lost to a fire.

Actually, I’m talking about my 86-year-old grandmother. With a variety of debilitating health problems, she’s been in and out of rehab centers and hospitals for the past four to six weeks. This follows a period of two years of somehow surviving mostly on her own following the passing of my grandfather. She will learn tomorrow morning that she’s neither going back to her apartment in Brooklyn nor a nearby nursing home. Instead, she’ll be brought to a nursing home in Central Jersey, where my weary mother can better watch out for her. It’s a great facility. My paternal grandmother spent several years there until she passed away 16 years ago. My mother tells me that my grandmother makes friendly quickly, and that she’ll like it. In truth, it is absolutely terrific news that there’s space in this facility for my grandmother.

But tomorrow, she’s going to face the reality that she’s never, ever again going to step foot in her home of 40 years. She has lived for 86 years in Brooklyn. Unbeknownst to her, today is her final full day there. She’s going to die in New Jersey.

I don’t really have a point. And I’m surprised that I’m posting this to Toastiest. This is more the type of writing I’d do for a very limited audience, in the old Livejournal account. I still don’t have an intelligent response to the question, “What do you blog about?” It’s an exaggeration to say “everything”, and it’s obnoxious to say “whatever I feel like blogging about”. It would be false modesty claim to answer “nothing important”. It would be arrogant, though, to claim that anything I write about IS important. I blog because…I’m creating connections with other people, even if they are mostly anonymous, superficial connections. No one wants to live in a vacuum.