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Archive for March, 2023

Some people go to church on Sunday.

Some fry wings and watch college basketball, and some bundle up for a hike in the woods while their kids are in Hebrew School. Yesterday our whole family, armed with cleaning products, walked over to a neighbor’s newly built house to erase the black spray-painted hateful messages they found on the white brick siding. It was reassuring to see so many people coming to help, to see the police presence along with a few news outlets.

“A search is underway for two individuals who spray-painted swastikas and hateful messages onto five homes in Sylvan Park. Metro Police released Ring doorbell footage on Twitter from one of the residences where the individuals can be seen spray-painting the messages on Sunday. Police say the incident took place early Sunday morning.”

https://www.newschannel5.com/news/suspects-sought-after-spray-painting-swastikas-and-hate-messages-onto-five-homes-in-sylvan-park

My immediate reaction was to stay home.

I thought Nashville had turned its back on winter, but there had been a frost. Searching for a puffy jacket seemed useless. Moreover, I felt useless and demoralized. I’d done my fair share of picketing and organizing, and yet tonight TN will again pass THE MOST EGREGIOUS ABORTION BAN in the whole country.

What good would come from a nana who was just learning how to walk again without pain? My second immediate reaction was to bake something. Baking always helps; it helps me and it helps the recipient. But there was no time. The Bride and Bug would be stopping by to walk with us, and the Groom would join us as soon as the Pumpkin’s’s soccer game was over. Bob started packing the mineral spirits and sponges…

On Saturday we strolled around the local Farmer’s Market. Yes it was cold, but I remembered Margaret Renkl imploring us not to buy grocery store flowers. So I stood in a long line for tulips. There were not many left, but after picking out my colors – deep dark magenta, pink and white – the young man behind me said, “You’re a very smart shopper.” I thanked him for the compliment and said I was always an “outlier.” But he wasn’t referring to my choice of colors, he meant I’d picked only flowers still in bud!

To think how happy I was that day; petting dogs in the sun and picking out French radishes only 24 hours before five homes in my neighborhood were vandalized. On Sunday I thought this must be a bit how it feels when African Americans see a Confederate flag or a Confederate general on horseback adorning the state capitol grounds. I felt hunted.

It’s not as if I’d never seen a swastika before, but it was always within its historical context – a documentary about the Holocaust, a book by Elie Weisel. I’d never stood witness to this hateful symbol IRL, in real life, only in two dimensional film or paper. Anti-semitism to me has always been a remnant of our collective past, after all Shakespeare wrote about it. Still, every year the ACLU sees an increasing number of crimes committed against Jews.

Hate crimes in general have been increasing in numbers across the country. But ever since Mr T was elected, his followers have felt free to say aloud what had previously remained silent. In 2021, the FBI reported 7,759 incidents. The problem is, one can’t assume that every police department reports its hate crimes to the FBI.

“The numbers released this week represent the hate crimes reported to the FBI last year by 15,136 law enforcement agencies across the country. Some experts¬†say the true number of hate crimes is likely higher, since not every crime is reported to law enforcement, not every agency reports its data to the FBI and many agencies report no incidents.”While these numbers are disturbing on their own, the fact that so many law enforcement agencies did not participate is inexcusable.”

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/31/1032932257/hate-crimes-reach-the-highest-level-in-more-than-a-decade

Of course, I went with my clean-up crew. I met the owners of the new house, an architect named Oscar and his wife and two small children. They had just moved in three weeks ago, and he designed their home. Yes, Oscar drew the plans for their forever home. I felt like crying on his sidewalk. People kept coming to help, all in all maybe a hundred neighbors stopped by to erase hate. I made a poster, “LOVE WINS” and met a beautiful black lab named Olive.

I saw footage of my daughter last night on the local news, one of many washing off Oscar’s home, which happens to sit next to a church parking lot. Watching my Grands scrubbing that wall felt bone-crushingly sad. Didn’t I deal with my children being harassed enough because they are Jewish? The swastika drawn into the condensation on a school bus window. The swastika drawn in a notebook.

I try not to be cynical. Today, I will be grateful for the tribe of helpers that showed up with buckets and power washers… and for my tulips which are just starting to open.

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BANG! BANG! BANG! Hello anybody home?

And a fine cold March morning to you. Today we are replacing the old, dilapidated wooden fence that encircles our backyard. At 8:30 am on the dot, they started tearing down the fence. It’s supposed to take just one day. This is one of those times I wish I had a noise cancelling set of headphones; I guess I could make like a younger person and head off to a coffee shop to write, or I could try the Bride’s house down the street.

But, this is Spring Break week, so the Grands are home. Between my babies and the bulldog over there, and the BANGING over here, I doubt any cogent thoughts will appear on this page. I guess Pandemonium must be happening at every house with young children this week. After all, there are always Star Wars contraptions to build with Legos. My Ps and Qs (peace and quiet) will have to wait!

After scanning the usual papers on screen with my coffee, it seems like there’s nothing new to report: Mr T is blaming Pence for January 6, isn’t it incredible we are still talking about the twice impeached ex-prez? Regional banks are rebounding, and Russia is still fighting a war it cannot win. The new George Lucas museum is going up ever so slowly in LA. Speaking of LaLa Land, did you see the Oscars? One bit of good news – for the first time in years, Bob and I managed to see the winning movie, “Everything Everywhere All At Once!”

EEAAO is not for everyone; I’ve heard mixed reviews from friends. For me, it is a movie about LOVE and the ties that bind us all in this dimension. I’d choose to do laundry and taxes with Bob again. Michelle Yeoh was nothing short of excellent at the job of mothering. After the last couple of years, I’m sure many of us have been rethinking our parenting skills, and trying to time travel.

That night, as I was getting into bed, I asked Bob if he thought I’d be a different person if my father hadn’t died and my mother never took that car ride to Wilkes Barre July 4, 1949. I imagined growing up in Scranton, PA surrounded by cousins and grandparents, a place where our ancestors are all buried. I would have become a good Catholic girl. I would have grown up with my sister Kay and my brothers. We would have read comic books in the front of my father’s drug store. But I don’t like to dwell in the past.

Bob is busy building a dog gate for the Bride’s front porch. Then the next project for us, after the new cedar fence, will be refinishing the old floors in this new/old house. The contractor had to plane red oak to match our 1920’s floors to patch up the old hearth spots. And in order to do that, I will have to empty my Snug?! Since I use a file by pile approach, this my friends will not be an easy task.

There’s a break in all the action outside. I’ve done a walk-about to see what flowers, herbs and shrubs survived this past winter. All our front foundation hedges are brown unfortunately. The whole row of lavender I meticulously planted last spring is dead. Rosemary didn’t survive either. One tiny ornamental grass did pop up, and the lilacs are starting to bud. And the Grands have arrived to watch the fence go up!

I gave them an assignment with my phone. The Pumpkin will be the Artistic Director, and the Bug will be Head Camerawoman. I asked for pictures from the metaverse of our yard, anything artistic about fence building? I think we can find art everywhere if you’re willing to look. And you won’t need a pair of googly eyes either. We’ve never lived behind a fence before, but I’ve come to treasure our privacy in the backyard.

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When I was at Camp St Joseph for Girls, I sang “If Ever I Would Leave You” in drag. I was maybe 13 or 14 and the nuns thought nothing of it. Since I was the tallest camper who could carry a tune, I was dressed as Sir Lancelot in Camelot. Is it called drag when girls dress like boys and perform musical comedy hits, like Victor Victoria? What about Shakespeare, where men always played women?

Back in the day, I’ve witnessed many a guy on stage dressed like a Hawaiian Hula dancer. The trope is funny, with coconuts on their hairy chest. Mostly it was the big, brawny football types who felt secure enough in their own masculinity to don womens’ clothes. I’d never even heard of drag until I was in my 30s and we went to a bar in Key West. Our Big Chill group took up a sizable part of the audience and we had tons of fun.

And now here I am in Nashville with a Drag Star Hair Stylist!

Tennessee is the first state in the union to ban public displays of drag to “PROTECT” our children. What exactly are we protecting them from… ? TN Republican legislators say drag is “harmful to minors;”  They called it an “adult cabaret” that would “appeal to a prurient nature.” My hair stylist in his alter ego, aka The Britney Banks, attended one of the protests. He/she held a sign that said

“Trust Politicians PARENTS”

I absolutely cannot trust politicians to keep our children safe. Safe from what, from learning their own history in school?

Safe from what? reading books that may make them uncomfortable?

Have politicians kept our children safe in their schools? Yesterday, I bought three purple Columbine plants for my garden, and every time I say that word, Columbine, I feel that tragedy deep in my bones; when two teenage boys killed 13 students and teachers and wounded more than 20 in 1999.

Politicians however, have voted against enhanced background checks after Sandy Hook, where six adults and 20 CHILDREN were murdered. They did nothing again after Uvalde, where 19 children and 2 teachers were gunned down. Children are simply pawns to be sacrificed on the altar of Republican Greed. If you haven’t heard Jon Stewart parry with Oklahoma Republican State Legislator Nathan Dahm you’re in for a treat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCuIxIJBfCY

It’s a bit long – they must go through a series of free speech and 2nd Amendment chaos – but wait till the end. Stewart asks Dahm if it’s true that he doesn’t like drag queens reading to children. Oh my, well of course that’s true. Then Stewart, with righteous indignation in his eyes, asks him why it’s OK to infringe on free speech but not OK to regulate firearms? And Stewart’s trick question is, “DO you know what the leading cause of death is for children?”

It’s not drag queen readings. It’s GUNS!! Yes, now guns surpass motor vehicle collisions, and unlike adults, where the majority of gun deaths are suicides, “…for children, 65% of firearm deaths are homicides and 35% are categorized as suicide.” I guess there is the occasional accidental suicide when a toddler finds mommy’s gun in her purse and shoots himself, but honestly 65% of firearm deaths are murders! And our leaders cannot even reinstate the Assault Weapon Ban?

Why can’t we treat a gun like a car? I used to ride in the front seat with my Daddy Jim. Every time he braked, his arm swung over and pushed me back in my seat. I even did it for awhile with my kids, who used to sprawl all over the back seat to and from the beach with towels and dogs running rampant. Kids are not dying in cars as much anymore because politicians have passed regulations that require parents to take certain measures and buy car seats and not even let them sit in front until they reach a certain height…

Bless Gov Lee’s heart, his priority is not exposing children to Drag Queens, but hey, the more guns the merrier! I wonder when his Christian cohorts will want to end bachelorette parties in Nashville? Or Purim costumes for that matter at a synagogue, where a man recently dressed as Queen Esther. Are we going to infringe on religion? You get my drift. These two know and love my aforementioned hairstylist, and I’m more than OK with that!

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