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Archive for December, 2018

I’ve got black eyed peas soaking on the kitchen counter for luck. Yesterday, Bob and I ran away to a lake with our BFF Big Chill friend Al for a hike in the woods, and then delivered a little brioche cake to Grandma Ada and Hudson. We cheered on the losing Titans next door last night, and have been listening to the “sound check” for Nashville’s famous New Year’s Eve celebration all day, which will be right down the block!

And all that was after cowgirl boot shopping with my cousin/friend Anita, and finishing up at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red honky tonk for drinks. The end of 2018 has proven to be wild and wonderful, not counting our deranged Cheeto-in-Chief, and today it’s downright balmy out there, at 68 degrees!

Now y’all know I hate making resolutions, but I thought I’d share my one piece of exciting news – our gym (YMCA) is starting a Pickleball league in the new year! So here goes nothin. Wednesday morning, this old basketball, ex-tennis, racquetball, and recovering-paddle ball player is willing to give it a try – I will show up and hopefully not injure anything.

Better to look back while we can, as we slide into 2019 all bubbly and rain-soaked, and think about the top three personal accomplishments of the past year. Here are mine in no particular order:

  1.  Getting Great Grandma Ada and Hudson moved and settled successfully into town.
  2. Discovering our beautiful new niece Tamara and her family.
  3. Traveling to Italy with our oldest and dearest friends for our 70th birthdays.

2018 just may be a hard act to follow. But Bob and I got back into the gym this morning and we watched all the new members signing up with such hopefulness. I’m hopeful too: Pickleball I’ve got your number and we will be friends; hopeful that we can move this country back from the edge; hopeful that love and decency will win.

Come on 2019, Bring. It. What were your accomplishments?

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I’m listening to Terry Gross’ interview with Bo Burnham, who wrote and directed “Eighth Grade,” his first feature film. He’s talking about social anxiety and social media and the confluence of our hyper-connectivity and how it’s different growing up today.

Burnham was an early YouTube star, in high school, performing his own satirical songs in his bedroom. The songs went viral, he went to MTV, and the rest is history.

‘The digital gap used to be between those people who grew up before computers and smartphones and those who were digital natives. Now, there’s a gap between those who grew up with Facebook and those who grew up with Snapchat and Instagram.’

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/27/680356663/director-bo-burnham-on-growing-up-with-anxiety-and-an-audience

The Rocker was born in 1984, and I vividly remember taking him out to a greasy spoon breakfast in Little Silver, NJ. We ordered Western omelets, with a side of their special waffle fries and bacon. A group of middle school boys drove up on their bikes, dropped them in the dirt and plowed into the restaurant giggling and pushing and shoving. They sat down in a booth and flipped open their phones. The Rocker looked me in the eyes and said,

“Ma, I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones in school.”

He was home from college for a break. Having breakfast together again was a ritual I’d been missing. As a toddler, I would happily make him breakfast number 1, and breakfast number 2, because his motor ran fast. The future Rocker was always hungry for action and adventure, but mornings were sacred. His big sister would go off to school and we would have a slow start to a jam-packed day.

If he ate a great morning meal, or two meals, then food for the rest of the day was optional. Remember, my foster parents belonged to the “Clean Plate Club.” Food battles would not define my parenting style!

I can also remember that day on our deck, overlooking the Blue Ridge, when the Rocker told me that Facebook was so over. He and Aunt KiKI signed me up for Instagram – she took my picture in a sun hat and he picked my moniker – it was love at first sight.

So who could blame me if I thought our L’il Pumpkin should be the next YouTube star?

Have you heard of Ryan, the 7 year old making gazillions of dollars opening up toys, screaming with delight, and playing with them? His mama started uploading his videos to YouTube when he was 4, and by last year he had made 22 Million dollars!

“What’s almost as baffling as the amount of money that Ryan has made before his eighth birthday is why today’s kids would rather tune in to watch another one play with toys than play with toys themselves. The answer, it seems, is that today’s kindergarten set lives vicariously through Ryan.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2018/12/03/how-this-seven-year-old-made-22-million-playing-with-toys-2/#1ecce4d54459

He’s had 26 Billion views on his channel, “Ryan Toys Review” and now he’s got his own toy brand at Walmart. He is a part of what’s known as “Unboxing” in advertising slang; people who film themselves opening mostly tech things and demonstrating how to use them.

The Bride looked at me with horror. Her child? A YouTube star?? I guess it is different for kids growing up today on social media. Their parents are on a spectrum of embracing technology with them, to becoming Luddites. Forging an identity online, counting followers to validate your existence, finding out you missed the big 8th grade party on Insta.

IF you could live your life without an audience, would your life still exist?

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“Mama Pajama rolled out of bed”

Yesterday, since the Bride and Groom were busy saving lives in their respective hospitals, I told the Grands it would be Pajama Day! They cheered and ran around like I was Willy Wonka telling them they could eat all the candy they wanted in the world. The Bug was sporting flannel penguins all day and the Pumpkin was delighted to stay in Star Wars attire.

The only thing they had to do was brush their teeth, the rest was optional!

I had inadvertently left my cell at home, which is oddly freeing! We baked cinnamon buns, built a Legos airport, watched some Mickey Mouse Club TV, walked the dogs, and visited Great Grandparents Ada and Hudson as Secret Santas! Then I cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner!

“But turkeys are for Thanksgiving,” the L’il Pumpkin said. “I’m only cooking the breast,” I told him.

We’ve never done the Jewish Chinese restaurant thing. Maybe because it was always just the three of us while Bob manned his ER, or maybe it’s because I had never heard of it. Once we did take-out Thai on Christmas Eve though, and that’s a tradition I would love to continue…

Last night, my ER doctors told me why they tend to see a lot of congestive heart failure on Christmas Day – it’s because of the HAM. Yes, that big salt load will do the trick, so be careful people. Too bad it’s so good with horseradish sauce.

The roads were empty driving home, and as we pulled into our parking spot we said Merry Christmas to our Millennial neighbors Aubrey and Tyler. They were wearing matching onesie pajamas, and had been in them all day too! In fact, they had rear flaps like Dr Denton’s, with a reindeer motif.

iPhone back in hand, I realized that matching PJs is a funny tradition for some families; yet another holiday happening that has flown under my radar all these years. One family did super hero PJs, another did guys in red and gals in green. Then there’s always the easy to replicate lumberjack look. I haven’t told Bob yet, but I’m thinking maybe we should don matching PJs next Christmas along with the Grands?

Hope y’all had a Happy Little Christmas. One of the Bug’s Hanukkah gifts was a set of matching PJs for her American Girl Doll. Thanks to my friend Ellen for the idea.

Goodnight Rosemary, the queen of Corona!

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Last night I got caught up in a Twitter tirade. Katy Tur was on a plane bound for NYC with the Notorious RBG – people were wondering if she was drinking Scotch, some told Katy to be sure and put Ruth’s oxygen mask on FIRST, and I just had to chime in saying, “Make sure no one coughs in her direction.”

Later Katy Tweeted: “You wouldn’t have known. She was moving well yesterday and she spent the entire ride working.”

Today we learned that Ginsburg had surgery to remove two cancerous lesions in her lungs. Godspeed dear Supreme Court Justice, I know it’s not easy having surgery of any kind after the age of 80, in fact, I have that stipulation in my advanced directive – No Surgery After 80! Which means I have the next ten years to fix whatever is ailing me, and after that, all bets are off.

If I lived in New York I’d make RBG chicken soup. This is what we make when our loved ones are sick, also known as Jewish penicillin; it can cure the common cold and probably most every other illness known to man or womankind. The recipe was passed down to me during my conversion to Judaism in Pittsfield, MA. The secret is in the fresh parsley!

Meanwhile, we’ve been inundated with Christmas cheer, all while Mr T is losing his mind. So I thought a tradition had to be maintained; on Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. Today the Bride and I brought the babes to see the Nutcracker in all its TN glory! The Nashville Ballet adds a BIG teddy bear and some Native American Indians to its story, all while staying true to the original plot.

Clara has a dream and her toys come to life!

I had more fun watching the L’il Pumpkin stare transfixed at the stage. We watched the Christmas tree grow. He danced in his seat. He was transfixed by the “actual” snowfall in the theatre. And very much like his Uncle, the Rocker, he was quite interested in the orchestra! “I see the piano Nana,” he said. I pointed out the horns, and the drums; the violins were keeping the front row humming.

The Love Bug would like to study ballet, and her brother wants to learn how to play the piano. We are heading into a New Year. What miracles, what wonders will this new Congress deliver? Maybe the Sugar Plum Fairy will bring us peace…because when I asked the Love Bug what her Mama would want for Hannukah, that’s what she said. She wants peace.

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Growing up, I was always told it’s unbecoming “for a girl” to show anger. In fact, one of my earliest memories was getting angry at my foster parents for one thing or another, running into my bedroom, slamming the door and turning the crucifix around on the wall above my bed. After all, I didn’t want Jesus to see me like that!

But later, as a young feminist, I learned to appreciate and harness my anger. Why should I have to come home earlier than my brothers? Facing any injustice, I would tap into that feeling, because I knew that it was like the wind before a storm. And after a storm, the air would be pure and clean.

Well I hate to admit it, but I’m getting angry again, just like everybody else who’s been paying attention. And it’s not only at cable news and social media or our Liar-in-Chief. This past week Bob and I attended 2 “holiday” ie Christmas parties… and  our local Planned Parenthood Center has stopped providing abortions:

In a statement, Aimee Lewis, the Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Development Officer for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi said: “We are 100% committed to meeting our patients’ family planning needs in Nashville, including abortion services. We believe that the ability to control fertility is fundamental to human health and well-being. We believe that your body is your own, and when it isn’t, you can’t be free, and you won’t be equal.”

They believe that statement, and I believe it to my core, except the clinic’s reasoning has been obscure – they are no longer accepting appointments for abortions since they are doing some quality control “…and will return with those services soon.”

Meanwhile the lovely state of TN has a 48 hour waiting period requiring 2 trips to a clinic. This is a costly and overtly Republican ploy to shame and humiliate women seeking such services. Nashville women will have to travel to Memphis or Knoxville twice.

And last night driving home from the Grands, I heard an ad on the radio about a convenient website for men seeking Erectile Dysfunction drugs – they could avoid the embarrassment of talking to a doctor by simply clicking on this wonderful website!!! A whole month of little blue pills will be delivered discreetly in the mail! How wonderful for men. I was almost surprised it wasn’t an App already.

So I say to myself, yes there will be more women in Congress next month. Michelle Obama wrote a wonderful book. The Love Bug told me she’s glad she’s a girl cause she won’t have to shave her face! Every night I list all the things I’m grateful for because I know that anger can consume you if you’re not careful.

The Atlantic published a compelling essay on the universal rage we Americans have been feeling for far too long. If the holidays seem a little too jovial about now, this might be required reading, “The Real Roots of American Rage” by Charles Duhigg:

Cable news, Twitter, politicians who now do more campaigning than governing—their every incentive is to keep us angry. But we own some of the guilt, too.

I’m not proud to admit that I know what it feels like to relish seeing an opponent get his comeuppance. I profess to hate what cable news is doing to the national conversation, but I still tune in. I decry the nasty discourse on Twitter, then check back the next hour to refresh my outrage. I deplore the nation’s rank partisanship, but I rarely split my ballot.

My anger has become a burden. Perhaps yours has too. And yet we can’t turn away. The anger impulse is too deeply encoded, the thrill too genuine. So where do we go from here? https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/charles-duhigg-american-anger/576424/

When they go low, you’ve got to fight as if your life depends on it. There is a storm brewing – suppressing our fundamental rights to vote, to govern our own bodies, to not get gunned down in a school or a mall. Are you angry enough yet?

This was a Victorian Christmas with our neighbors. I thought my 80s yellow leather jacket was a propos?!

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It’s the happiest season of all, right? But what to do if you’re not Christian, or even a lapsed-Catholic or Christian-light, or maybe Jewish or Muslim? Well, child psychologists can always tell us what to do, and lately they’ve been taking all the fun out of December.

First it was, teach your kids they don’t have to hug Aunt Fannie – that relative you see maybe once or twice a year who insists on a hug and a kiss. And now, we are being told to spill the goods on Santa – don’t lie to your kids about Santa!

“Do you believe in Santa Claus Mommy?” the Love Bug asked my daughter in the car the other day. Why do they always come up with such earth-shattering questions in the car? Of course I wanted to know what she said, but the Bride only said she stalled, making me feel like somehow I’d failed. Because even though Bob and I were raising our children in the Jewish faith, I never gave up on Santa Claus

I mean I didn’t leave him milk and cookies. We didn’t have any naughty elves sneaking around our bookshelves. There were no blinking trees in our living room either. And they never knew when Santa would arrive, silently gliding down our chimney – it might happen during Hannukah, or maybe on Christmas morning. But I felt it viscerally, that memory of a big, kind guy in a red suit visiting children all over the world to fulfill their wishes. And I wanted to keep that magic alive in my family.

But according to this BBC article, if a child is old enough to ask about Santa, they are old enough for the truth. No, Virginia, there is nobody.

“You shouldn’t lie about Santa because you are encouraging your children, usually with made-up proof, to believe a morally ambiguous lie. I’m not alone in being devastated learning of my parents’ elaborate deceit about Santa, leaving me to wonder what other lies they had told.

Santa supposedly encourages imagination but, as noted in this article, and others, you’re really asking children to suspend criticality and believe a fiction. As this piece suggests, fantasy and imagination work because we choose to believe what we know isn’t true. Far from promoting wonder, the Santa story encourages children to be consumers of others’ ideas.” http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181211-why-you-shouldnt-lie-to-your-children-about-santa

Today is the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Newtown Elementary School. Those children, who were the same age as my grand daughter, will never have the chance to ask about Santa Claus. They will never go caroling again with their parents. When our government failed to pass any meaningful gun control legislation after that, long before Sandy Hook, I lost my faith again. Only this time, it was with our country.

Last night we read about a 7 year old Guatemalan girl who died of dehydration and exhaustion at the border of New Mexico. She was in OUR custody with her father for more than 8 hours before seizures began. This actually happened last week, according to the Washington Post:

“The ACLU blamed “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP (Customs and Border Patrol)” for the girl’s death. “The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.”  

So maybe we should tell our kids the truth, always. Because buying into a fairy tale, quasi-religious belief that leaves Mrs Claus at home in the North Pole while her husband gets all the credit for one night’s work does seem antiquated. Maybe we must be brutally honest with ourselves first. And not expect falsehhoods to turn into facts simply because a great, orange-headed beast keeps repeating them…

It’s almost like selling someone a bill of goods about fossil fuels, and promising to fulfill all your wishes, just because you have your name on a few buildings.

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Do you miss Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV? All the silo-loving, shiplap-using, funny marriage-banter of their show “Fixer Upper?” Not me; I see their “Magnolia” housewares in my local Target, and I follow her on Twitter.

Last night was “movie night” in their farmhouse. All five kids (including the newborn) were piled up in their meticulous Master Bedroom bed, with a fire going in the fireplace and a Christmas tree in the corner. It almost looked too good to be true.

There is an undercurrent of unrest in Waco, TX. Housing prices have skyrocketed and tourists have been flooding into town to catch a glimpse of the happy Gaines’. Rumor has it, the Evangelical couple belong to a church that shuns LGBTQ people. And all those beautifully rehabbed homes, many have been spotted on AirBnB.

Now Waco is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

“Jacob Walter Anderson, 24, faced charges of sexual assault after allegedly attacking the woman at a fraternity party two years ago.

But after agreeing to a plea deal on a lesser charge, the former Baylor University student was given three years’ deferred probation.

The woman said she was “devastated”.

“He stole my body, virginity and power over my body and you let him keep it all for eternity,” the woman told Judge Ralph Strother in a Waco courtroom after he agreed the deal, NBC News reported.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46519600

This is the THIRD time this judge has approved a plea deal for probation after a rape in the past two years, all Baylor University students. Anderson drugged and raped a young woman repeatedly and left her outside to die. But we wouldn’t want to “ruin” this white boy’s reputation, after all he is a former fraternity president and may one day want to serve on the Supreme Court.

He will not have to register as a sex offender, and his charge was knocked down to “unlawful restraint.” In Texas, if you’re white and wealthy, you are obviously above the law. At first Anderson was facing 20 years for rape, now two years later, his lawyers are celebrating; “No Jail Time” screams the headlines!

Great Grandpa Hudson graduated from Baylor a long time ago. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a frat boy since he had served in the Navy during WWII first, and later became a missionary to Ghana. Bob recently accompanied him in an ambulance to the Bride’s ER. It seems he fell and conked his head, which immediately gets you all the bells and whistles, even though he never lost consciousness and all his tests were fine. Hudson is one indestructible old sailor!

As for Baylor Alum Chip and Joanna, I’m pretty sure their white-washed, religious life will have its share of ups and downs, like any marriage. But unlike most, they are still in the spotlight. At least her bedroom Christmas tree wasn’t blood red, like a certain immigrant from Slovenia!

Here is the girl who recently lost her first tooth and her Great Grandma the marriage counselor. That’s a Mona Lisa smile if I ever saw one!

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