All Mixed Up at ccMixter

Friday, November 24, 2006

My Father's Wife

My mother died on July 2, 1984 after a protracted illness. I graduated from UCLA two days before she died. I turned 23 years old two weeks after she died. My mother was 43 years old when she died.

Within weeks after my mother's death, my father started bringing women home. At the time, I was living in his house, having moved back during the last few months of my mother's life. My father's room was right next to my room. I could hear him having sex with these women while sobbing about my mother. One night, I could not take it any more and I chased the woman out of the house.

In the autumn of 1984, my father met S. in the waiting room of his psychologist's office. She was also a patient. They started dating. She started spending more and more time at our house. She would leave her young children at our house while she went out with my father. I remember seeing her little girl, who was 5 years old at the time, sitting sadly in my father's bed room watching tv and having no idea where her mother was.

She was a born again Christian and would not sleep with my father unless they were married. By May 1985, they planned on getting married. My brother and I were appalled. This woman was nothing like my mother who was intelligent, emotionally sophisticated, Jewish. At the time, all we could think about was what a horrible lack of respect to our mother, to us. We felt betrayed and abandoned by our father. My father just could not tolerate being alone. He needed a woman to take care of him.

I was told I had to move out of the house. I was not emotionally or financially prepared to move, but I had little choice. I felt like the princess in the fairy tale who was forced to leave the castle when the wicked step-mother took up residence.

In July 1985, the same week that my mother's grave was unveiled, my father married S. I did not speak to him for years thereafter.

When I became pregnant with my first daughter, it was important to me to repair my relationship with my father for the sake of my child. My father agreed to go to family counseling together. We had sessions alone, with my husband, my brother, S. and her children. Without getting defensive, he was able to listen to how his actions hurt me. My father's ability to tolerate my anger was tremendously healing. I developed a great respect for him after that experience.

We worked out a plan -- every Sunday, while S. was at church, my father would meet us for brunch. (We did this for many, many years until the kids became older and started having sports and music lessons on Sunday mornings.)

While I did not have any love for S., I endured her at family functions. I could never look her in the eye however, because the sight of her upset me so much.

Several years ago, S. was diagnosed with Huntington's disease. Ironically, my father again found himself in the position of caretaker for his wife. S.'s condition steadily deteriorated. About 18 months ago, she fell and broke her back. She has not been home since as her care requires more than my father can handle on his own.

Throughout her illness, S. has been positive, uncomplaining -- rather inspirational actually. Despite her disability, she attended family functions. She could hardly walk, but she had her hair and nails done regularly. Until she became totally debilitated, my father took her to the beach or to the movies, to church. We all recognized that her belief in Jesus was fundamental to her positive spirit and were grateful that she had religion.

I still did not have any love for her.

My father and S. come to my house every Thanksgiving. I also invite my S.'s children. She has two sons (one of which is married with two babies) and a daughter. This year, her daughter asked if she could bring S. "Of course," I said. So the daughter and her friend brought S. in her wheelchair from the nursing facility.

Everyone who was here for Thanksgiving thought S. looked good. I thought she looked terrible -- frail, bent, her hair grey. Even though I still do not have any love for her, her frailty touched me -- having a sense of my father's hardship saddened me. Seeing S. made me cry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my family for close to 20 years. My parents used to host Thanksgiving. Our home was open and filled mostly with friends -- their friends, our friends, friends of friends. Food was plentiful, as were various substances with which to imbibe. Music was always playing. People were always laughing. The house was warm, inviting and full of life. I hope I've maintained that tradition.

Many of our friends who regularly join us are unable to come this year due to illness or travel or other familiy commitments. That makes me rather sad. Even so, we will be at least 20 around the table.

This year's menu consists of:

  • Roast turkey
  • Tandoori style turkey breast
  • Simple stuffing with celery and onions
  • Stuffing with carrots, dried cranberries and pecans
  • Sweet potatoes (either roasted or sauteed with mustard seeds and warm spices)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sauteed Brussels sprouts with fennel, shallots and walnuts
  • Roasted beets
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Pureed cauliflower and carrots
  • Steamed green beans
  • Carrots (not sure yet how I will cook them)
  • Balsamic glazed squash with pine nuts
  • Port glazed onions
  • Green salad
  • Spinach Bhajee
  • Traditional pumpkin pie
  • Coconut pumpkin pie
  • Low-carb, gluten free pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Pear pie with glazed ginger and figs
  • Chocolate chip pie
  • Mandel Brot

I think that's enough.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I have good intentions, and secrets too secret to mention
gathering dust
because I lost the references.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I am not a big tv watcher. We have two televisions in our household of four. Up until a year ago, we had only one small television we kept in our bedroom. We do not have cable so we need to use a rabbit-ear antennae to get any reception. Even with the antennae, we do not get channel two. Because my husband and I could no longer stand to have the kids in our room when they wanted to watch their television programs which we could not stand, we finally relented and bought a small television for one of our kids. I watch the morning news on a daily basis to catch the traffic and weather reports. While I sporadically follow a series, I do not do so regularly, except for "Lost."

I love "Lost." On Wednesdays, I organize my day around "Lost." I do not schedule any activity for Wednesday evening, for myself or my children. I make sure dinner is cooked, consumed and cleaned up well before the 9:00 starting time. I prefer to watch "Lost" in bed after changing into my night clothes, brushing my teeth and washing my face.

I do not accept phone calls while watching "Lost." One night when "Lost" was on, the phone rang. My kid, knowing I won't pick up the phone, answered the call which was from one of my dear friends, who apparently was not yet attuned to my devotion to "Lost." My kid said, "You'll have to talk to her later, when "Lost" is over." When I called my friend back, she said "At least you admit it."

"Admit what," I asked.
"Watching Lost."
"Yeah, so what," I replied.
"Well aren't you embarrassed."
"Why should I be embarrassed. It's a really good show -- intelligent, suspenseful with good plot and characters."
"It's not a reality show?" she asked.

I spend an inordinate of time perusing "Lost" blogs. My favorite is which is an attractive, comprehensive and accessible blog. I also recently discovered which summarizes the story of each character, a feature I particularly appreciate.

As far as I'm concerned, "Lost" is the pinnacle of hump day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Of The Stones In My Foundation Of Guilt

When I was about four years old my mother got into a car accident and I thought it was my fault. At that time we lived in Fountain Valley which is in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. In the early 1960's Fountain Valley was a sprawling developing land of contained townhomes and track houses. We lived in a small house that had no living grass that I could recall. There was a metal swing set in the backyard. I hated going into the backyard because the dirt was hard, the grass was dry and there were gopher holes every where. I did not know that a gopher was just a small rodent. To me a gopher was a monster that lived under the ground and made the swing set a dangerous place so I rarely went into the backyard.

I went to nursery school which I don’t really remember too well. My mother told me that I loved nursery school and that the teachers loved me. I was a charming little girl with big round deep brown eyes, an easy smile. I was bright, learning easily and participating readily in any activity that presented itself to me. I was a good girl too. I did not make many demands, I listened to the adults and did what I was told to do. I still have my nursery school diploma pasted in my baby book. I always did well in school – even nursery school, I guess.

The day of the accident, my mother brought me a gift when she picked me up from nursery school. She brought me a porcelain figurine. The figurine had a little booklet attached that explained who she was. We were driving home in my mother’s pale blue station wagon. I was sitting in the front seat next to my mother. I asked her to read to me what the booklet said. She read to me as she drove. We approached a cross-walk where a woman was crossing the street. My mother somehow noticed the woman, even though she was reading to me, and she hit the brakes but there was not enough time for the car to stop before it struck the woman. The woman made it to the sidewalk where she sat on the corner crying, a rag wrapped around her bleeding ankle. My mother was shaking. I was shaking. We later learned the woman was a nurse and she was okay.

For years I thought the accident was my fault because my mother was reading to me as she drove. It was not until I was an adult that I learned that the brakes went out on the car and that it was the car did not stop. By then however, guilt was the foundation upon which my personality was formed and the knowledge didn’t really help to absolve me.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Life's Bottom Line

I'm pretty sure I have body dysmorphic disorder. I have no idea what I really look like. There is a huge disconnect between what I see when I look at myself in the mirror and what I see when I look at myself in photographs. The truth is, I am not particularly photogenic. Even my friends tell me, "Oh, you look much better in real life." I am not ugly. I am just disconnected. Always have been.

I am fortunate that my husband thinks I am an attractive, sexy woman. But I do not really think of myself as a sexy woman. I think I can muster enough style and poise to get away with attractive. . .but sexy? Sexy is the purview of the thin, the bare, the confident. What does it take to feel sexy -- particularly if you are fat? What does it take to be sexy -- I mean really "be" sexy, not just act sexy? As I developed into a woman, being "sexy" was such a mandate. The media, populated with images of "sexy" looking women gave no real direction about what it mean to "be" sexy. And what is so important about being sexy anyway? It all comes down to being loved.

We all just want to be loved. Post 1960's "sexy" = "lovable." What a superficial analysis. But that's it really -- to be connected, to be loved. It's life's bottom line.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I have been sick all week and will post properly upon recovery.