Monday, May 2, 2016

Sitting Down Is Not An Option ~ Part Deux

I was thinking Mies Van Der Rohe said, "The devil is in the detail," but I guess not; his usual attribute is "G-d is in the detail." Not that it matters much, but for the record, it's the devil.

This moving thing is draining. Not only am I living between two houses, I can't find stuff. I desperately wanted to make an egg cream last night and could not remember where i put the straws.  Maybe it was because the straws were in the bag with all the kitchen drawer stuff sitting on the kitchen counter of the old house because I forgot to put the damn bag in the car? And let's not forget to mention the U-Bet was missing. Maybe because I have yet to take stuff outta the fridge? So after Talmud class, I trooped over to the house to pick up the bag on the counter and take the U-Bet. And as long as I was there, I took some stuff outta the freezer, and the rest of the art sitting in the dining room, and a few other odds and long as I was there. And then I had to unload the car....which was made infinitely more pleasant because one of my new neighbors saw me and popped over to help schlep.  And then Senior son called because he hadn't heard from me in a while and was wondering if I was still alive. And then I had to put stuff away. And then I had to make that egg cream...... See what I mean?  

This is very distracting from more important President Obama's stellar turn at the Washington Press Corps Dinner. Or Trump accusing Madam Secretary of playing the "woman" card. After his little foray into mensuram aetatis with Marco Rubio, it's perfectly understandable why he would say such an immeasurably stupid thing to Madam. Ziggy used to say "A man's attitude toward women is inversely proportional to the size of his dick." Frankly, that explains a lot about Trump; the guy must have a peanut instead of whatever, because if he didn't, he wouldn't be braying about it the way he does. 

The campaign is so disappointing on so many levels. I've said this before. The GOP has reduced the process of selecting the next President of these here United States into some kind of reality game show. It's so twisted that it's pathetic beyond description. And although I have moved into the Hillary camp, I am devastated by the smears and personal attacks of the latest incarnation of the Democratic campaign. I desperately wanted them to stay above the fray. I wanted a thoughtful, intelligent, issue-centric campaign like we had at the beginning....but alas....even theirs has sunk into some Ring of Hell arena. Crushed, I tell you. I am crushed.

Trump's schizoid presidential-asshole-presidential-asshole pendulum is really tiresome. And what's worse, it's just plain stupid. His so called policies are ridiculous. They don't exist outside of the ether filling up his empty cranium. His rallies are borderline excuses for violence. And the inhuman-on-the-street interviews of his supporters harken back to pre-war Germany. Read about the fall of the Weimar parties where there was no liberal, middle class with enough support to stop Hitler. Read the timeline, there are too many parallels not to view Trumpism with concern. 

One of the biggest differences, however, is in the division of wealth. Whereas Hitler rose from poverty, Trump has not, and all his posturing will not made him Everyman; he is the poster child for elitism. He is anti-intellectual, a provocateur, and impulsive. And this is the guy a whole lotta people want talking to the rest of the world on our behalf? How quickly they forget. 

But some of us don't. This year, Yom Ha'Shoah begins Wednesday at sundown. Ostensibly, this is a Jewish holiday, but it isn't really: it's a world commemoration. Remembering the Holocaust is the responsibility of every person on this planet. Yes, it's about the everyone who died because of Hitler's madness, but that's not where it stops. It forces ALL of us to confront that genocide is still out there. That unless we remember, it will happen again and again. The last of Shoah survivors  are dying. We are losing their voices. Those of us who grew up in the last half of the 20th century bear our own version of witness because we were the first post war generation. We heard the stories from the Greatest Generation, and we heard the Shoah Survivors. We heard the stories of great bravery, and the stories of how others managed to survive the hell on earth that was Europe. For many of us, arms with numbers were not unusual sights and we all knew they weren't phone numbers. 

Those who are the children of survivors have a unique obligation: to be the voice of our parents. Those of us who did not have survivors as parents have an obligation as well, to tell and re-tell the stories we were told, the ones hesitatingly told by our parents in uniform who were there and bore witness. I have my dad's stories, and one day, I hope I will finally be able to transpose them into written history, but I'm not there yet. 

My friend, Margie Newman, however, has started down that road. She has begun the arduous and painful process of writing a memoir. This is a project worth supporting...especially if you are seeking the courage to do something similar. Some of you know Margie from her writing, others of you know of her because she was my partner in protest behind the silent flash mob at Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit back in March of 2014. 

Once again, silence is not an option. We, the People, may not be able to prevent Donald Trump from getting the nomination, or running an independent campaign if he does not get the nod, but we can stop in the voting booth. To be silent is wrong. Not to vote is even worse. We, the People are the only ones who can save our own country. To be silent, to not vote, to be bystanders is just like giving this neo-Fascist a leg up. Don't do it. 

Wednesday night, at the beginning of Yom Ha'Shoah, stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say in your best, strongest voice, "NEVER AGAIN." If you don't say it, who will?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Standing up for what you believe is hard;
Going to the gas chamber for what you believe is even harder. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

When You Can't Tell The Toons Without A Scorecard

Well, I guess I moved this past week. At least I think I did. I'm sitting in my new kitchen at the moment, a bit peeved that there appears to be no water hook-up to the ice machine in the fridge. And here I had just gotten used to having a working ice maker again. 

There are books on the shelves in the living room, the crystal is back in the china closet, and my room is nice and tidy....just the way I like it. And since the clothes in the closet all seem to fit me, I suppose they are mine. But there are boxes everywhere else.

I've not been paying too close attention to the clown cavalcade on either side. This latest bit of collusion between Grandpa Munster and Governor Kasich to maximize the number of delegates they can pull away from Drumpf? Good plan, guys. That should be a real show stopper On the other side, I'm still smarting over the Democratic descent into politik hell. I had such high hopes....but alas. 

Oh, I'm pretty sure Hillary will be the Democratic candidate, and I will vote for her without hesitation or reservation. She will be a perfectly fine president. She will bring a new perspective and I'm sure she will do lots of things I like as well as lots of things I don't like. That's the beauty of democracy in action.

Democracy. That's the thing where you get to elect your government, and then, if they screw it up, you get to un-elect them. Right? It's the part where the people get to live under the rule of whomever they put into national office. Right? And it's the part where the citizens have to take a leap of faith to trust the people they elected will do the right thing to those, the people. Right?

Not every country gets to do what we do....listen to a bunch of crazies for umpteen months say incredibly naive and stupid things and then pick one of 'em to run the country. We have elected more than our fair share of addicts, abusers, and assholes, but somehow we've managed to survive one or two terms of idiocrasy without too much damage. It's as if this is a game show.....

Oh, wait. It IS a game show. This does not warrant further explanation  because we already know it's true. And maybe this is really the direct descendant of bread and circus. Maybe it's no surprise that ROLLERBALL, HUNGER GAMES, and SURVIVOR are all giant hits. Maybe it's because we really don't care anymore so long as we have a lifetime supply of nachos and batteries for the remote.

Back in the day, when the Senior Son was in 2nd grade, he decided to start his own school newspaper. The first couple of issues were great, full of 2nd-grader-deemed-worthy news stories about the teachers, his friends, Skeletor, you know, the usual fodder. But by the third issue, he was struggling to come up with new stories. We talked about doing some interviews, perhaps writing to his buddy Mr. Henson who would certainly contribute something for his friend. But there was a deadline to meet and there wasn't much time. When issue #3 came out, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But we did have a sit-down with him about truth in journalism. Looking back, I'm thinking this was nothing compared with some of the pro-GOP sites. 

You think I'm kidding? Here are a couple of samples. Read 'em and then tell me you think we're not in deep and serious doo-doo: The Political Insider, Florida Family Policy Council, and PRINTLY

My WTF-O-Meter went off the charts when I read the comments. The ones on PRINTLY are mostly the spam variety I get here all the time, Hi, I found your blog meaningfulness and want to share ideas for making millions with you because I am liking you so much. I am certain they are all Nigerian princes who want me to help them get their rightful inheritances. But the ones on The PI are downright scary. They are hateful, racist, anti-Semitic, and just plain vile. At least the ones without semi-automatic Glocks. That said, Anita Staver of FLFAMILY announced she was now going to shop at Target armed with a case she has to go into the ladies' room. Really? People write this stuff in a public forum and come off as nutballs beyond the lunatic fringe. Are they all harmless? I have no idea, but my guess is not all. 

But harmless does not matter. They are out there. And they will vote. And there is not much anyone can or should do, other than campaign harder. If We, the People who do pay attention to the details are serious about stopping this game show from becoming a reality show, then not voting and not doing anything is not an option. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The first thing to do when the moving van leaves is make your bed.
Have someplace sane to lie down at the end o'the day. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm late, I'm sorry.

I sat down on the bed last night at 6:53 to catch the very end of News Hour on PBS....and woke up at 6:10 this morning. I think I was tired. 

If Passover is about the journey from slavery into freedom, this year it will also be personal journey from care-taking to ......something else. Not a clue what that something else is, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. But it starts with a new kitchen that's already pesadik. Junior son, Ms. Junior, and Little Miss helped me affix the first mezuzah on Sunday morning. I'm ready to go. 

As I write this last episode ....originally started in the study and now being finished in the kitchen, I wonder what it will be like to write it in the new house, looking out a new set of windows. Will I see things differently in a house without the the ghost of most of my adult life? In pitching so much of its ephemera, it was like losing Ziggy all over again. I cried, I tossed, I had You've Got Junk three times...all in an effort to pare down my life into something manageable. I'm close, but not there yet.

Since this is Tuesday morning, not Monday night, I will get there tomorrow. The moving van cometh at 8:30. While it's taking the billion boxes of books and the furniture, Cousin Laurie and my friend Bill have been helping me move the other stuff, lovingly tossed into baskets and bins to be immediately off-loaded in the house....including the endless stream of crystal. It's all in the new house waiting for the china closet to come over.

Since the house is not yet sold, there is more stuff to bring by my regular kitchen stuff, and it will come after Pesach. But come over it will.

The departure from Egypt lasted for 40 years until all the old slaves were gone and an entirely new generation born into freedom could return to the land of Israel. Moses could see it, but he could not enter. It was not for him. In a odd way, that mirrors one piece of this journey for me. Mom was to come to the first night Seder at Cousin Laurie's house. And I'd promised I would bring her to the new house on Sunday. For the last month or so, Mom poured over the pictures, we talked endlessly about what would go where and whether or not the dining room set would come with me. In the end, sadly, she was only  able to look. 

Even though none of them, not Ziggy, nor FIL, nor my folks will ever see the new place, I will have them in my heart. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Always try to  move right before Pesach, then you only have to pack the kitchen once. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Have I Mentioned...?

Have I mentioned that I'm moving? 

This morning ended the period of shiva (7 days) for my Mom. It's very strange not to hear her voice on the phone, and not to call her when I hear something of interest. I have had her voice in my ear for over 6 decades, so I guess I'm allowed a little bit of time to acclimate to the idea she's not there. Not having either Mom or Dad is excessively weird. 

Have I mentioned I'm leaving Chez WP for a smaller, more manageable domicile? I am closing on the new house on Friday. This barn, however, is still up for sale. 

Meanwhile, back at Rancho Politico, I can't say I'm too happy with the Democratic candidates these days. I loved the early days of that race, when facts were facts and uncivil behavior was being trademarked by the GOP. I love it when candidates actually talk about the issues and their own differences. Now, they have descended into junior high hell. I also get the distinct impression that Bernie does not do his homework as thoroughly as he needs to. This is a problem for me...and rumor has it I'm not alone with this concern. 

Have I mentioned that even though I got up from shiva for Mom, I continue saying Kaddish for Dad, which means I'm doing a double header for the next seven months? My Dad did it for his parents. It can be done. 

Lots of things can be done. People do stuff every day.

And so I will. I'll keep you posted.

The WP

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dinner With Dad

Well, my mother...who never met an event she could not organize....organized herself into having dinner with my Dad...and probably the rest of the gang was there, too. All last week she'd been saying she was ready to meet Dad for dinner. After the Junior Son and I called the Senior Son late Friday night to tell him to come home and we told her we'd called, I think she decided to wait for him to arrive. 

She was so happy to see him when he walked through that door. 

When the phone rang at 8:20 Sunday morning as I was getting ready to leave for morning minyan, I saw the word SHOLOM and I knew. I cannot say I was surprised or shocked; I think it was almost a relief. She said she was ready to go, and she was. Her body had come to the end of its ability to bounce back even if her brains thought otherwise.

Mom was lucid until the end. She told people she loved them. She seemed to have made peace with herself and her own world. When I kissed her goodnight late Saturday night, she did not respond as she usually did, and I think I knew this was my last goodnight kiss.

It was hard to see my mom, that grand tower of strength and defiance, lying there, breathing softly, and not responding to my kiss on her brow. She looked so frail, so weak. Not much like my mom. 

During the last few months of my Dad's life, she was Tiger Woman, defending the love of her life as he slowly slipped into the Olam ha'Bah, the World to Come. She could be fierce and demanding, but I never saw her in that attitude when it was not warranted by what she determined to be Dad's needs. I also listened to her say some unkind words about people she believed had wronged our family in one way or another, and once her respect for you was gone, it was unlikely to ever be fully restored. She was staunchly loyal, but rarely blind. I learned a lot from her this last year... lessons in being strong, lessons in compromise, lessons in how to bend but still manage to get your own way, lessons in how to live with yourself after disaster. 

She cared deeply for many causes, and even on her last day, Mom asked me to turn on the news. I did, she listened, and then asked, "What? Trump isn't dead yet?" I know she meant his candidacy, but it was pretty funny all the same. Her stalwart support of Hillary Clinton never ceased to amaze me. She was always the leftist in our family, so I thought for sure she would be feeling the Bern, but no; she wanted to live long enough to see a woman president. Not too long ago, she told me she had three goals: to be there for Little Miss's second birthday in October, to dance at the Senior Son's wedding a week later, and to vote in the 2016 Presidential election a few days after that. "I don't wanna see Daddy until I can tell him I voted for Hillary, and that Hillary won." Dad would have apoplexy ... even in the Olam ha'Bah....and she knew it. 

We, her family and close friends were well aware of her follies and her foibles, her impatience with incompetence, and general dislike of laziness. Like the man she married, she was an ethical human being who was, in matters of civil rights for ALL, way ahead of her time. Her intolerance for intolerance was a running theme this last year, and she was pretty vocal about it. I think this primary season really upset her more than she let on....except when it was just us sitting around her room...and she would let the TV-news anchors have it. 

The boys knew their Bubbe as their very first, very bestest friend. She was always ready for an adventure, there was always time to talk. She wanted to hear anything and everything they had to say. Bubbe was comfort, she was advice, she was present. There was nothing Bubbe could not make happen, and even when they were kidlets  no more, Bubbe was still the foundation rock. It was the Junior son who pulled the plug, so to speak, on their condo living and convinced them to come to Minnesota. He and Mrs. Junior Son dangled the carrot called Little Miss....and north they came. Even the Senior Son, albeit in that other state next door, was in driving distance of Bubbe and Zayde...and saw them more this year than ever. This year, this gift, of having them close at hand, marveling at the wonder that is Little Miss....priceless. 

When someone dies, people always try to say nice things about them. And Mom's is no different. Lots of people, over the course of the last year, have talked to me  about what a great presence she was, her tenacity, her ability to help others, her kind and loving words to so many people. This morning, as I was in her room picking up a few things, there was a constant stream of Sholom staff telling me what a difference she made in their lives, and at Sholom itself. Everyone told me how she always asked about their lives, their kids, their challenges, and how she always had follow-up questions when she saw them again. That she remembered and asked made them love her to bits. She knew everything about everyone, and kept it close. She was not a gossip.  On the other hand, we called it being nosy when she did it to us. I guess we never realized how precious that made her to others. 

Mom was far more than just the sum of her parts. She was many things to many people. In the end, however, only one thing mattered to her: she was our Mom, our Bubbe, our friend, our defender, and we would take her forward in our hearts. No doubt about that. 

I really hope the party at Aunt Ruth's last night was one giant shindig. 

May her memory forever be a blessing.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
That's all.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Penis Measuring, Rat Copulation, and What Really Matters

Friday, my mother announced she was ready to go have dinner with Dad. I told her to forget that plan, because she already has hotel reservations for the senior son's wedding next fall. 

Meanwhile the blog was the farthest thing from my mind. Good thing I had written down a really scary thought. I'll get to that in a minute. 

Much has been written this week about how the GOP is imploding, and usually, I think this is just business as usual for them, but penis-measurement contests followed closely by Ted Cruz all but admitting he's a rat-fucker who has no desire to "copulate with Donald Trump," (that's a quote folks) makes me think there might be something to the rumor they are killing themselves. 

Here's is the rat-fucker episode up close and personal. You have to see it to believe it really happened and that it wasn't some weird-ass mash-up. it is not:

Oshkosh, Wisconsin  -  March 25th, 2016

Now, in this singular instance, I happen to agree with Ted Cruz; the Trump campaign teaming up with the National Enquirer is a parody of electioneering. It's beyond disgusting. But you cannot escape that line,  
"Well let me be clear: Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him." 
I'm pretty sure that didn't come out right, because it sure sounds like Senator Cruz just admitted to being a rat-fucker. 

That line is problematic on so many levels.

So, forget for a moment how it plays out here. Pretend you are a student in Beijing who looks at America as a dream county. Or imagine you're in the Sudan where you hear about education in America and can only dream that one day you can get some of that. Or from the perspective of Kim Jong-un. When he gets up off the floor from laughing, he can go back to playing with the nuclear bomb models. Nuff said?

But how about this? How about looking a little bit down a very dark and windy road at a Trump presidential candidacy. Who is his running mate? That's the real scary question, isn't it?

G-d forbid there is a Trump presidency, rest assured it won't last long. Six months in, he will be bored with a Congress so obstructionist it make President Obama's version heigh-ho-off-to-work-we-go Mouseketeer happy-go-lucky by comparison.  This Congress is not gonna move one muscle to shore up Trump. And most of the clowns will be running office pools on how long until gets bored. Once he figures out the power part is pretty empty, he will lose patience with being president....just like Sarah Palin got bored with being governor of Alaska. When he realizes being POTUS is not the same as being chairman of some television bored room, he won't stick around. 

However, in the unlikely case he does stick around for a while, he is a target for all manner of people who already hate him. To that end, any Veep has to be an insurance policy against such an unlikely event. I mean, if Ben Carson was next in line, wouldn't you be loathe to see Trump neutralized?

I'm not 100% in either the Hillary or the Bernie camp, but I can tell you I enjoy their debates because there are ideas involved. You don't have to agree with them to find their discourse compelling. And that G-d sent Bernie a real-live tweet is, you have to admit, a bit of a bonus. That bird was great. I have no idea how he got there, but that was the best bit of street theatre I've seen in decades. It was just perfect. 

And that brings me back to Mom. I tried to explain about the bird. I showed her a picture. She looked at it, and said, "Gotta be a trained bird." She has stopped watching the news, and when I asked her why, she told me it's depressing. "This is not why my father had an election machine brought to the hospital," she said. "This is a shondeh. This is not what I want for my great-granddaughter."

Mom may be 93, but she pretty much has all her marbles, and probably a few extra. The best thing in her world right now is hearing, "Hi, Bubbe!" when Little Miss comes through the door. She holds Bubbe's hand, then brings her Star Brite Pony and quarters. Those moments of exchange are the most precious. Even though Little Miss barely understands the importance of sharing, much less the impact she has on her great-grandmother, the rest of us get it. And every so often, we manage to capture the moment with one of our i-Whatevers. 

The gift of time we have been given these last 10 months is an amazing gift I never thought I would get. Seeing my mom holding her great-granddaughter's hand makes me wanna get up and go ring doorbells for whatever candidate is going to restore order and dignity to this election. Just like my mom, I do not want Little Miss to ever be exposed to such base and childish behavior by adults. It's unbecoming.

Tonight, Mom managed to eat a whole mini-ice cream cone. First thing in 3 days.  I hope this is a sign of some recovery.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
When you get to be over 90, you can eat whatever you want. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Being Esther

March 21st, 2016 is drawing to a close.  Used to be this was the first day of spring, but we're too scientifically advanced for that now. It was also FIL's birthday....he would've been 95 today. I called his brother, Uncle Erv, this evening. I wanted him to know we hadn't forgotten it was Franny's birthday. 

And FIL would've been going crazy from the news. I would've been walking into Rant o'Sieg every night because he would've spent the day listening to the radio. This campaign would've sent him over the edge. I'm almost relieved he's not here to hear it. 

Today, the candidate parade was over at AIPAC. For the record, and let me be perfectly, bluntly clear about this, I am an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. I'm not going to write about that, only to say that I still toy with the idea of making aliyah one day. I believe in Israel's right to be in Israel, and that we are no Johnny-come-lately to the scene. We've been there continuously for over 4.000 years despite endless efforts to move us off our land. 

Now that we have that out of the way, I will also admit that I am not a fan or supporter of AIPAC or J-Street. I pretty much believe all lobbyist groups are tainted and should not exist. They are power brokers and I don't care for power being brokered by anyone. They are created to manipulate, not seek out the will of We, the People. Even when you hear the word lobbyist, you cringe. You think of the NRA, the oil lobby, big pharma. You know exactly what mean. And none of it's pleasant. 

On the other hand AIPAC is a big deal in the Jewish community. I understand that a lot of people think AIPAC speaks for all American Jews; it does not. I get why the presidential candidates speak at AIPAC. I think it's absurd, but I get it. There are those that will tell you that the strong relationship between the US government and AIPAC is fundamental in helping to protect Israel. There are others that will tell you AIPAC aids and abets a seriously flawed Israeli government that is undermining Israel's relationship with the rest of the world. There is great disagreement about whether or not AIPAC is a viable spokes-organ for the Jewish community at large. 

In its attempt to be relevant, AIPAC hosts a candidate forum. The major party candidates book appearance time. This year, those attending included Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. They all pandered to the lobby. They all forcefully declared their pro-Israel stance. Trump fed the gathering his usual line of bull-oney, and ended it by reminding the crowd, “My daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.” I don't think Secretary Clinton happened to mention her daughter also married Jewish. Still, this must be the new version of, "Some of my best friends are Jewish." Frankly, I think they all fed whatever lines needed to be fed, and I really don't believe any of them, anyway.  

A group of rabbis, including my own, Rabbi Morris Allen, formed a group called COME TOGETHER AGAINST HATE and planned a walkout on Donald Trump's speech. The issue was not policy, it was not about positions, it was about the campaign itself. As Rabbi Allen said at the rally:
We are here right now because in truth we are also people who cannot and will not tolerate hatred, misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism, and calls to violence as a means for reaching the highest office in the land and perhaps the most powerful position in the world.
No matter what you think about AIPAC, Rabbi Allen is spot on. We speak volumes even in our silence, and if we do not stand up as a unified front against the hate being fomented at the campaign level, we are no better than the ones who stood in silence in 1932. 

When I was a kid, we used to tell each other we would never have let the Nazis drag us away or put us in camps. We talked about how we would fight back. When I watched SCHINDLER'S LIST with my sons, I silently wondered if my boys would have been resourceful enough to survive. Now I am a savta with a granddaughter, and suddenly I am worrying about what happens if.....

Wednesday night is the holiday of Purim, when we read the Book of Esther. Here's a story about one woman who could have easily remained silent and did not. Whether she was bullied into approaching her husband by her Uncle Mordechai, or if she really was the heroine we want her to be, it does not matter. In the end, she stands up against hatred.  

Perhaps, instead of dressing up as Esther this year, we should work on being Esther. Let us all stand up and say, NO to hatred, misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia, and anti-Semitism. 

The time to be counted is now, not when we are scrambling for passports. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wanna read a good book, and a different take on Esther, read this:
I highly recommend it.