The Dryer Story

When we were kids, my mother’s surveillance was constant.  My parents never went out.  We never had babysitters.

Once — literally, just once — my mother needed to make a brief excursion and had no choice but to trust my father to watch us.

We snuck into the laundry room.  We knew we were not supposed to go in there.  But we were not supposed to do anything.  Except sit quietly looking at books that we did not yet know how to read.  But we were kids.  With a natural curiosity.

Anyway, we thought it would be a good idea to see if one of us could fit in the dryer.  I was not the largest.  I was not the smallest.  It is likely I was the boldest.  For the sure I was the dumbest.

Clothes Dryer imageSo, with great excitement, I climbed into the dryer.

It was a front-load tumbler with a large circular window.

My brother closed the door…

Space Capsule imageI felt like I was Judy Jetson riding in the space capsule!

These were the days of the Apollo moon landings.  Rocket ships were everywhere.  Including my dream of the previous night.

Actually it had been a whole rocket factory in my dream.  With “about a hundred” rockets.

My brother turned on the dryer…

It was warm and blue and the rotating drum kept lifting me up one side, but then I just kept sliding back down to the bottom.  Over and over and over.  I didn’t spin around the full 360° of the circle like the way the clothes make a complete orbit.  Something maybe to do with gravity?

People tell me this story helps them understand me better.  I have no idea what they mean.

© 2017 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.



A professional associate called to let me know that upon Googling me, he found my business specialty listed as rhinoplasty.

In the first place, I informed him, I was raised to marry a doctor, not to become one.  And secondly, I continued, had this been my occupation, my nose would be smaller and my income larger.


© 2017 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Curb Your Mercedes

My insomnia is of the world-class variety, the kind that gets you qualified for the most selective treatment programs.  This does not make me feel special.  It is not like getting accepted to the Ivy League.

So sleeping, and the consequent dreaming, are just not a regular part of my life.  But last night, I had an incredibly vivid dream.  Really true to life.

In the dream, my car dies.  There is no hope of resuscitation.  I would like to get a Prius or some other environmentally-conscious vehicle.  But I am completely broke.

My anonymous boyfriend — his face is actually pixelated in the dream, like on TV to protect the identity of the whistleblower — tells me he will come up with something.  And he does.  He brings to me an adorable but older vehicle.  He brings to me a small delivery van.  He brings to me a German car.

Now, you should know that my practice of Judaism tends to be more in line with the spirit of the law and not so much the letter.  And my priorities, they are not terribly logical, even by my standards.  I make no judgment, but there are some traditions I would never violate.  I would never eat of the pig.  I would never tattoo on my body.  And I would never drive a German car.

Anyway, back to the dream.  I tell the boyfriend that I would not drive a German car.  I am thinking that I must have told him this before, probably many times, but even if I didn’t mention, he really should just know.  I tell him we have to take it back.

I instruct him to get behind the wheel.  Just sitting in the passenger seat is bad enough.  OK, we go in the car and make the beeline.  Right into the telephone pole.  I am sure we deserve this fate.  I mean, what were we thinking?  Driving a German car?

He asks me to wait while he goes to the nearby service station.  So I stand beside the car in the heart of downtown, where you always bump with the people you know.  I try to hide behind the car.  All I can think is G-d forbid somebody sees me by the Hitlermobile.

Let’s face it, I have some real problems in my dream.  My bank account has no money.  My boyfriend has no face.  My car has no insurance.  But my biggest concern?  That someone should think I am not a good Jew.  And then it starts to rain.

This morning, I recount the dream to a friend who laughs heartily and tells me the dream reminds him an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

On the show, Larry and Jeff really like this Palestinian restaurant.  But they know their Jewish friends would feel to eat there, it’s a terrible affront on Israel.  And the place is next door a Jewish deli, so they worry someone should pass by and see them.

As for me, guess if you’re gonna live a sit-com life, you’re gonna dream a sit-com dream.

© 2017 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Winter Camping

My first job after graduate school.  Me and my boss are polar opposites in every possible way.

She:  a tall quiet blonde with short straight hair
Me:  a short loud brunette with long wavy hair

She:  from Minnesota
Me:  from New York

She:  liked to stay home and listen to NPR
Me:  liked hit the clubs and hear live music

You get my meaning.

So anyway, one day, we are driving to a client meeting.  She is very excited to tell me about her upcoming vacation.  Winter camping, she says.

This is something I never heard, but before I could think, it pops out from my mouth: “Wait a minute.  You are taking the two things I hate most in the world, winter and camping, putting them together, and calling it a vacation?”

She was very offended by this (and by most other things I said).  But I didn’t mean any disrespect.  Vive la différence!

© 2017 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Persuasive Lips

Mrs. Townsend, my 11th grade English teacher, once defined kissing as “the uptown persuasion for the downtown invasion”.

I do not recall which great literary work we were studying at the time of this declaration.  Perhaps it was the scandalous Scarlet Letter.  I doubt it was the interminably morose Look Homeward Angel.

Anyway, somewhat more recently, though still very long ago, I attended a party at a firehouse —

In my memory it was a firehouse, but that doesn’t make much sense.  More likely, it was a warehouse.  Well, it was some kind of house.  A big one.

So, the band playing the party was named Persuasive Lips.

During a break, I chatted with the lead guy, and when the group returned to the stage, he called me to sing backup.  With a microphone.  A working microphone.

I sang and danced and played tambourine for the rest of the night.  It is something very special to make music with other people.  It is a joyous thing.

After that night, I formed a girl group, The Jackets.  A Go-Gos, Bangles sort of thing.  I should probably mention, this part was all in my head.

At the time, I did play the guitar.  With great frequency and enthusiasm and a very solid intermediate level of proficiency.  Now, I don’t have sufficient fine motor skills.  I haven’t in years.  To be honest, I have trouble even to make my fingers press the right numbers on the cell phone screen.

I did used to sing, too, all the time.  Bosses would tell me it was good for morale.  Strangers in stores would remark how nice my voice.  Now, people actually ask me to stop.  I just can’t seem to control my vocal chords.  Linda Ronstadt isn’t able to sing anymore, either.  But, by her, it’s a loss.

You know what they say.  It’s never too late.  Lemons?  Lemonade!

So I’m starting a new group, The Arthritix.  I’m soliciting women over 45.  Must play an instrument poorly and/or sing off-key.  We’ll practice at my place.  Bring your own noise-canceling headphones.

© 2016 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Come Saturday Morning

When we were kids, we rarely got to do normal Saturday morning activities because we had to go to shul.

Five times a week we had to go to shul, but Saturday mornings were the most painful.  The services were interminably long and conducted almost entirely in Hebrew.  Even worse, in those days women and girls were not allowed to participate.  At all.  Unless you count setting out the herring and schnapps for kiddish.

So, while the goyishe kids were doing goyishe things like playing sports and —

Actually, we did not know how the goyim spent their time besides playing sports and trimming trees.  Nor did we know why they had to trim trees that had been chopped down dead and could not possibly grow any wayward branches.  Anyway, while we were stuck in shul, we were sure the goyim were having all kinds of fun.

We did know one thing the goyim got to do on Saturday mornings.  They got to watch cartoons.  Hours and hours of cartoons.  And word on the street was that these Saturday morning cartoons were sooo much better than the “classics” rerun ad infinitum weekday afternoons.  Bugs Bunny?  Please.

Back in such ancient times, there were no VCRs, much less DVRs or TV web sites, so the only way to see these shows was to be at home on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, there were only two reliable excuses for missing shul: vomit and blizzard.  Alas, these two events were as unlikely as they were undesirable.

Truthfully, we could do without Fat Albert and Scooby-Doo.  My mother had already conditioned us to abhor all human adipose and adore only small dogs.

No, it was The Jackson 5 we were dying to see!  Of course, Michael danced even better in real life than in cartoon life, but he was darling either way and certainly this girl’s pre-teen dream!

So it turns out the complete series of animated Jackson 5 videos is now available by DVD. But somehow it doesn’t interest me.

When the show premiered in 1971, my demographic profile made me the ideal target audience.  Today, not so much.  And it’s kind of sad to see Michael as an innocent youngster now that we know the unfortunate details of his adult life.  Besides, the forbidden fruits of childhood, mostly they don’t age so well.  SpaghettiOs?  Panty hose?  Tiny nose?  No!  No!  No!

Maybe it’s best we leave the past in its place.  Still, just a little taste, it wouldn’t hurt…

Oh, darling, give me more chance!  Oh, Michael, you and me both.

© 2016 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

No Surrender

The stoop to my building has become a favorite outdoor smoking lounge for nearby office, shop, and restaurant workers.

Of course, it is terribly unpleasant to breathe the toxic fumes upon arriving or departing home.  Worse still, the smoke drifts into our apartments though the windows and the vents.

Anyway, it is against the law to smoke within 25 feet of a property entrance on the streets of downtown Palo Alto.

So, when I encounter smokers, I politely ask them to move, and until today, the offenders have always left peaceably.

Until today.

There is a young woman smoking.  I courteously request that she step away from the doorway.

She refuses.  She says she is not going anywhere.

I gently remind her that it is illegal to smoke in the current location.

She looks me in the eye and screams:

“Get out of my face you little bitch before I punch you!”

Now, I am not a violent person.  I can’t even do kickboxing class at the gym.  When I took self defense, the instructor called me a pacifist.

And my body is not really built for the fight.  Even a small child can take me down with ease.  And besides, I just had my front teeth reshaped.

But, something suddenly comes over me.  I can’t explain.

I take a step closer to the woman.

I throw back my shoulders, chest out.

I look her in the eye and calmly say:

“I am not the least bit afraid of you.”

I would like to think she was intimidated by my physical presence.

More likely, she thought I was a crazy person.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that she walked away.

I felt satisfied for standing my ground.

And lucky to be alive.

What was I thinking?

© 2016 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.