Archive for September, 2020

“…for I have sinned.”

Every Catholic school girl or boy can recite that phrase in their sleep. It’s been drummed into them since they could first kneel in a confessional to get a priest up to date with the following, “My last confession was (fill in the number) days ago.” We had to eat tuna fish casseroles and think up sins every Friday, some of us more than others. Disobeying your parents was always a favorite.

The Flapper wasn’t really a Catholic, but she married one anyway. In her later years, she surrounded herself with representations of Buddha, and belonged to a group called Science of the Mind. But lucky me, after our Year of Living Dangerously, I was sent to a very Catholic family to cement the dogma with a side of Sacred Heart School. It didn’t really take.

Last night, Bob and I threw away our sins for Yom Kippur. In Judaism, you only get one chance a year to make yourself right with God. In our family anytime between Rosh Hashanah and today is a good time for confession. We walked to the park with Ms Bean, and symbolically threw dryer lint from our pockets into the fountain. It’s called “Tashlik” an act of atonement, from Micah:

 “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

I’ve been thinking of how a woman, Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, sang in Hebrew and spoke at the Capitol for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s service. She said that the Justice, even in her famous dissents, was not crying about her defeats, but outlining a future blueprint for the Court. There is no finer example of this than the Lilly Ledbetter decision about equal pay for equal work. Ginsburg’s reasoning in her 2007 Ledbetter vs Goodyear dissent is stellar:

Tellingly, as the record in this case bears out, Goodyear kept salaries confidential; employees had only limited access to information regarding their colleagues’ earnings. App. 56–57, 89. The problem of concealed pay discrimination is particularly acute where the disparity arises not because the female employee is flatly denied a raise but because male counterparts are given larger raises.https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-1074.ZD.html

And RBG was there when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009!

And over this holy weekend for Jews, Mr T has said he will push forward a young judge to fill the empty seat on SCOTUS. If Amy Coney Barrett IS confirmed, she will be one of SIX Catholics on the High Court – one that has seen mostly White Protestant men over its history. But Barrett isn’t just any Catholic, she belongs to a fellowship called “People of Praise.” https://peopleofpraise.org/

She actually scares me because this is a fringe evangelical group – and anyone who is a zealot of any sort does not belong on the Supreme Court. Let alone filling such a profound woman’s seat in the midst of an election. Today is my birthday, and I just filled in my absentee ballot. My cousin has already voted in VA. I hope you have a plan for voting safely this year.

I wonder if Ms Barrett or Mr T have confessed any of their sins?

Read Full Post »

and it’s not just “The Florida Man.”

On our way back from wilderness camping (in a state park with an RV) to get away from it all, I made the mistake of checking in on Twitter. Gov Ron DeSantis has lifted all Covid restrictions, opening up bars and restaurants, allowing his state to enter Phase 3. He has also made sure that no local governments can do a run around – Florida is open for business!

Why am I not surprised? I mean the economy has to open up, funeral parlors have to make money. After 28 weeks in semi-quarantine, save our one trip to 30A in Florida, we were getting itchy to travel too.

Bob and I decided to try our luck with Nature this week. I’ve always said I’d rather call room service than sleep in a tent and cook over a fire. I mean I spent many summers sleeping in a cold cabin at Camp St Joseph’s for Girls. That was my idea of roughing it. Once we were married, I tried camping. Honest.

Great Grandma Ada and a whole other family of her friends invited us to the Catskills with them, there were about six or eight tents spread all over this forest. We gathered wood and built fires, it was primitive and smoky.

Without getting into the gory details, it just wasn’t for me.

But this week we packed up Ms Bean and tried glamping in a tricked out RV. I’d been having Covid-induced fantasies of chucking it all and hitting the road, nomad style. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon and that’s #1 on my Bucket List! A friend told me to watch the movie, “Lost in America.” There was something about a “nest egg…”

Note to self – listen to your instincts. It was great not having to deal with people, or I should say not having to avoid people; listening to the rain, and the bugs, watching the herons and the deer. And thankfully Bob did all the hitching and schlepping. We didn’t think about the virus, we didn’t wear a mask for days.

More importantly, we didn’t talk about Trump, not once.

Then we find out Mr T may not want to actually leave the White House, even if he loses. That Republicans are planning to install their own electors in swing states. That he thinks it’s all rigged anyway. Isn’t he just a typical Florida Man?

Here’s a neat game to play – Google “Your birthday (month and day) then Florida man.” This is what I found, a guy was arrested after neglecting his grandmother! To be clear, an actual Floridian told me about this game.

Who was it that said, “Wherever you go, there you are?”

Read Full Post »

The hypocrisy and misogyny of the GOP continue to flourish.

In the middle of an election season, when many states have already started early voting, Mitch and Lindsay would like you to believe that they did NOT set a precedent when they withheld Merrick Garland’s nomination to the SCOTUS. Telling then President Obama that the people should decide the next justice; right then and there, the Senate lost all credibility.

And we Democrats, why did we go along? Because we thought Hillary would be elected? That’s why the Notorious RBG held on as long as she possibly could. She was waiting to step down and have the first female president fill her seat. And so, here we are.

Ready for a woman to be VP at least.

Meanwhile, the DOJ and Mr Barr have designated New York City, Portland and Seattle as “Anarchist Jurisdictions.” Which means the federal government can withhold funding, delay grants, and generally screw with the mayors’ budgets.

“Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. It calls for the abolition of the state which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.” Wikipedia

Reality check – WHO are the anarchists? I submit that people who like to undermine our institutions, and carry AR-15s into state houses and Starbucks are anarchists. People who think wearing masks in public treads on their precious individualism, that they are feeling coerced. Anarchists need to breathe, and infect anyone they please. They cannot help being vigilantes, shooting their guns and shouting out racist slurs.

But hey, let the government tell a woman what she can do with her body. AMIRITE?

Some of us can differentiate between peaceful protests and vandalism. Some of us know when the police shoot an unarmed Black man in the back it’s called murder.

“All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” RBG

“…the DOJ cited New York City’s rising gun violence, cuts to the NYPD’s budget, and moves by various district attorneys not to prosecute charges related to protests earlier this summer.”

My sister Kay lives on the Upper East Side of NYC. She said yesterday the skies were blue and she had lunch at an outdoor cafe with her girlfriend for her birthday. It was glorious. Also everyone in her neighborhood wears masks! She was an airline stewardess when she had to be weighed and measured like cattle. Kay was one of the first, a beautiful Lipstick Feminist that Justice Ginsburg would be proud of; she had to hide the fact that she was divorced and had a child in order to work.

Paternalism at its finest is evident in this discriminatory threat by our Toddler-in-Chief to withhold money from the cities he thinks are behaving badly. And after our beloved RBG died on Rosh Hashanah, to insist that the GOP didn’t mean what they are on the record saying is ludicrous. Moms everywhere know this ploy. It’s called lying. As Anand Giridharadas said on Twitter this morning:

They want your back and feet to ache. Your dreams to die. Your business ideas to go nowhere. Your adult children to live with you forever. Your debt to haunt your dreams. Your body under their control. And they know they need to steal that seat to do it.” https://the.ink/p/they-want-to-steal-this-seat-for

Rest in Power Ruth. This is a photo I manipulated of my sister’s self portrait.

Read Full Post »

Tonight a New Year begins for Jewish families around the world. It’s a time to reflect on our joys and sorrows, a personal reckoning of sorts that will culminate on Yom Kippur. But first, we celebrate the sweetness of life by dipping apples into honey.

I’m very happy to turn the page on this year. Bob and I had planned to explore Costa Rica. My brother and sister were finally going to come to Nashville for a visit this past summer. And next month, we were supposed to travel to Corsica with Marco and Claudio, our chefs du cuisine, international diplomacy and exuberant friendship. But there is always next year…

Happily, we managed a small, pod-isolated beach break with our Nashville crew. The Groom survived his bout with Covid, and the Bride still works in the ER, caring for any one who walks through the door. She is participating in the Moderna study for a vaccine – she had her second shot on her birthday! This summer, the L’il Pumpkin learned how to ride a bike! And our tiny neighborhood has grown closer, we look after one another, staying in close contact during tornado watches.

I almost forgot the tornado. Please God, make this tornado and wildfire business stop.

Tonight the shofar will call us to Temple but we cannot go. Instead a good friend is bringing Shabbos dinner to Great Grandma Ada and her cohorts. I’m baking my famous triple-layer toasted coconut frosted carrot cake. Bob has baked a round challah to symbolize goodness without end. Unlike his usual sourdough, this bread uses yeast and eggs and he must roll and braid it into one delicious mound of yumminess.

That’s another thing I’m thankful for this year – a husband who bakes bread. Taking the time to sew masks, bake bread, and generally sit around and actually talk has been enlightening. We have slow dinners on the Bride’s porch. We host “cocktails” in our garden. We seem to have learned the names of all the neighborhood dogs. Bowzer and Penelope are favorites.

The Black Lives Matter movement became a touchstone in 2020. Evident and inextricably linked to a legacy of systemic racism. And I’m hopeful that out of the pain and suffering, out of a public execution of a Black man in the streets of Minneapolis, and a young woman murdered in her bed in Kentucky, and so many more, that real change and peace will heal our history of racial violence.

All of our Fall birthdays have come to a close with Aunt Kiki yesterday. She is a shining light in the fog and fires, in these pandemic days with our son in California. I still think of her as that 19 year old Irish dancer who took the Rocker’s heart and breath away, only to return more love and laughter to our family. May they and their friends and everyone in the path of these wildfires out West stay safe.

L’Shana Tovah and may your next year taste sweeter and shine brighter. May your name be a blessing. And when we recover from this plague may we keep those lessons we’ve learned: about friendship; about stillness; about equal justice for all, about love.

Read Full Post »

It’s a famous movie quote, when Jack Nicholson curls up his face in a courtroom and shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!”

And it’s what Mr T would like us to believe, that he didn’t warn the American people about the coronavirus in February, that he downplayed its threat, because he didn’t want us to panic… Underneath the infantilizing nature of that phrase, is contempt, is patriarchy. And when it became obvious that Black and Brown people were suffering and dying to a greater degree, Mr T’s mishandling, his ignorance became more racist. More terrifying.

We are Brutal Truth Tellers over here. Bob has always said it’s just easier to tell the truth than to get caught in a lie. We had a family rule when the kids were little – if you tell us the truth, you may not get in trouble. BUT, if you lie to us, there will be hell to pay! You might say that parenthood is like the FBI, you NEVER lie to the FBI.

According to the Washington Post, Mr T has LIED or “Made False Claims” over 20,000 times! https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/13/president-trump-has-made-more-than-20000-false-or-misleading-claims/

He must think the American people are really dumb.

We have 50 days until the election. Does anyone think our votes will be secure? With social media espousing conspiracy theories right and left, mail boxes disappearing and Mr T telling people to VOTE TWICE (which btw you cannot do), it’s a wonder anyone has faith in our electoral system. And then, I read this morning about a young woman, a patriot, named Reality Winner.

Oh, you never heard about this Air Force vet, former translator for the NSA, Millennial woman with a weird name who had the courage to leak (she was actually a whistleblower) ONE document in 2017 to the press who is serving five years and three months in prison? She is currently in a federal medical center facility in TX and has tested positive for Covid-19. https://theintercept.com/2020/07/21/reality-winner-coronavirus/

“Winner spends most of life in de facto solitary confinement, barred from going outdoors, limited to one trip to the cafeteria, and served two meals in her cell (bologna sandwiches) that, as a kosher vegan, she cannot eat.”

So because Winner thought we need to know that the Russia government was spear phishing, actively interfering and hacking its way into our voting infrastructure, and because she told the truth and took a plea deal, she just celebrated her 28th birthday behind bars.

Yet Paul Manafort received a compassionate release from prison after lying about his meetings with Russians in the run-up to the 2016 election. It would seem that one golden rule, about telling the truth, has no place in this president’s politics. Ask any T-rumper about anything, and all they can say is, “You liberals lie!”

I #StandWithReality

Read Full Post »

I know there is an election, and a lot of news about Mr T courtesy of Bob Woodward’s new book: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/09/us/politics/woodward-trump-rage-takeaways.html

But did you know there was a horrific fire this week in a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece? 13,000 people were living in squalor before the fire, and now 10 EU countries have accepted some 400 unaccompanied Moria children. While I was reading this article I couldn’t help but think of that ship of Jewish refugees during the holocaust – neither Cuba nor the United States would give them safe harbor.

They were sent back to Germany to be killed.

The Rocker called us yesterday while he was walking our granddog Leo. Even though the wildfires are hundreds of miles from LA, he told us the air was pink and orange and you could taste the smoke in the back of your mouth. Temperatures out there reached 115 degrees last week. Bob told him that our sunsets were supposed to be spectacular now because of the wind carrying that air all the way to Nashville.

Did you know that every fire has its own name? https://www.sfchronicle.com/projects/california-fire-map/ Just in September California has had the ElDorado, the Valley Fire, the Oak Fire, the Willow Fire and of course the Creek Fire. Not to mention the 17 fires that started in July and August! One supposedly by the pyrotechnics at a “Gender Reveal Party?” Isn’t having a baby shower enough; why must couples go to extremes about the X or Y chromosome?

Today is a solemn day. Sometimes I forget September 11th. I look at the calendar and fill in all the “Christmas Party” birthdays – my two Brides, my sister. I leave the porch door open in the morning because there’s a chill in the air. I deliver tiny apple pie snacks to the L’il Pumpkin because he’s finally going to IRL (in real life) Kindergarten.

But I remember that acrid smell when I visited my sister in NYC to celebrate our birthdays nineteen years ago. It’s a smell like no other. I remember that strange sky, and the firemen dusted in grey crowding into Irish bars for lunch. Their big, black boots on the brass footstool. Working on “the pile,” recovering the remains of lives lost.

I remember trying to shop for the Bride’s birthday that year, the year she graduated from Duke. She was in DC at her first job in a government building; would planes still fly? I roamed around an empty store, feeling numb. Looking at other eyes devoid of feeling. I decided on a sweater to keep her warm, I would FedEx her gift.

In the Torah, if a wedding and a funeral procession meet on a street, the funeral must stop for the wedding – because life takes precedence, always.

The Rocker left high school that day to watch the smoke from the Towers drift over the bay at Sandy Hook. It was the most glorious sky that morning, a Tiffany blue with no clouds. We wondered how could a small plane hit the World Trade Center on such a beautiful morning, until we saw the second plane.

Climate extremes and gender reveal parties aside, today the refugee crisis in Greece is directly related to us, to what happened to us on 9/11. Most of the migrants there were fleeing Afghanistan. We are trapped in Dante’s circle.

Read Full Post »

Happy Labor Day everyone. You know the old saying, “A woman’s work is never done?” Well, why is that? It’s actually from an old couplet – “A man can work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” And in fact, even today, research shows that women do carry the lion’s share of unpaid childcare and housework.

In 2019, more than 72% of women with children under the age of 18 were working outside the home. Even though gender norms have started to change, and some fathers are staying home with young children, it seems that in a pinch – when the school calls, or a child is sick – it’s the mom who steps up.

Of course, in a pandemic everything changes.

Parents are expected to work from home and help their children manage online school. This week, for instance, our L’il Pumpkin will actually get to go to the old brick and mortar school for half-day Kindergarten, but his sister will have to stay behind on Zoom calls. The Groom has gone back to the Medical ICU, and the Bride is back in the ER, so this next week will take a bit of juggling.

On this weekend we celebrate the workforce, unions, and all those essential workers who are keeping this economy running. The Bride and Groom’s garage has turned back into a red zone where they can decontaminate before walking into their house. They just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on their front porch with take-out and a tiny wait staff!

Lately I’ve been lost in my Ancestry profile. I figured out how to put pictures in the icons and I’ve poured over very old census records. Please, please let the census workers finish their jobs! In the past women would have, or at least my Irish ancestors would have 10-20 children! So it’s no wonder they would list “Keeping House” as their job on a 1910 census.

Then I came across my paternal Great Grandfather, the one who sailed over here from Ireland in 1854. The man who started out as a laborer and eventually made his fortune dealing cattle, bought a farm of over 200 acres in Pennsylvania and opened a butcher store. His obituary read:

” (insert his name), a well known farmer and huckster!

My immediate thought was oh NO, am I descended from a mercenary, con man Like Mr T? Doesn’t it imply something illegal or dishonest? But it turns out the historical definition of huckster is actually to sell small things, so instead of selling cows I guess my Great Grandfather was selling cuts of meat.

It has been with us for over 800 years, and it derives from the Middle Dutch word hokester, which in turn comes from the verb hoeken, meaning “to peddle.” “Peddler” (or “pedlar”) was first attested in the 14th century, and this sense of “hawker” has only been appearing in English texts since the early 1500s.

Whatever your career choice, today is a day to lay back and barbeque at home, in the comfort of our lawns, with no more than 10 socially distanced friends or family. Or maybe even order in? I personally think any kind of childcare is essential, but we can let the dishes soak.

Read Full Post »

Did we learn anything new about Mr T’s psyche in the Atlantic article, “Trump: Americans who Died in Wars are Losers and Suckers,” by Jeffrey Goldberg? We knew how he treated John McCain, the things he said about Gold Star families, his obsession with his hair. But put it all together in one short essay and we are shocked still. His contempt for our military is palpable.

T started losing veterans in June when he pulled his bible thumping stunt at a church in Lafayette Square, and General Mark Milley later apologized for participating in his camos; claiming ignorance. He didn’t know that peaceful protesters had been gassed so that T could have a photo-op.

But ignorance is not an excuse:

“As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched, and I am not immune,” Milley said.

“As many of you saw the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there,” Milley continued.

“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

I wonder if we have learned anything from the shooting yesterday of Michael Reinoehl. He was an Army veteran, the father of two children, and he was suspected of shooting a “Patriot Prayer” boy (ie a far-right, white supremacist T supporter) – Aaron Danielson last Saturday in Portland. Reinoehl had claimed self-defense, saying he thought he and his friend were going to be stabbed.

But there is no video of the “fugitive task force” of Federal Marshalls and FBI agents gunning him down in a parking lot yesterday. They said this avowed far-left Antifa supporter had a gun, yet none of the agents were injured. Reinoehl was first shot in his car, and then in the back while trying to flee. We don’t even know how many shots were fired.

It’s been three years since we moved here from Charlottesville, VA. Three years since Heather Hyer was killed. It feels like the wind before a storm – anti-immigrant, antisemitic and racist forces are swirling around a president who talks “Law and Order” but despises war heroes.

Great Grandpa Hudson went to Okinawa. My brothers went to Vietnam, one an Army Intelligence officer (Dr Jim below in our Zoom call) and the other a Med-Evac helicopter pilot. They know a sucker when they see one. #VeteransAgainstTrump

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: