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Re-Formation

“The other interesting thing that’s happened [in contemporary Christianity] is this splitting of church into two types of services: the smaller devotional congregations and then the arena entertainment-based congregations, which are much more outgoing and communal, like Abundant Life. And I would not presume to say that one is better than the other because I’m sure there’s good Christians in both, but my preference is certainly for the devotional side. If I’m going to go to a Taylor Swift concert or see a football game, I’ll do that. I won’t go to church.”

If you want to get anywhere fast in the South, travel on Sunday morning. That’s because most people go to church and the roads are empty mid-morning, unless you’re trying to cross the Cumberland River where a huge TV mega-church is located and traffic can back up for miles. As a full-fledged lapsed Catholic, I could never understand the pull of a church service over say breakfast in bed with a Bloody Mary on the side. I figure Sacred Heart School and St Joseph’s Camp for Girls just squeezed the religious life out of me for good!

Now that Great Grandma Ada has moved to Nashville, she’s met FIVE ministers! Imagine that, in the course of one week she has managed to get right with God because we know that she married a reformed minister herself. And I mean “reformed” as in an ex-Baptist Missionary Minister who spread the good word and built wells and hospitals in Ghana – that is, until he saw the light and recreated himself as a pastoral counselor back home. Then he mostly just married people and tried fixing their marriages later; when he wasn’t carving totem poles.

When I asked Great Grandpa Hudson what religion he wanted to be affiliated with, he said, “Orthodox Judaism!”

Well we all burst out laughing! Anyone who knows Hudson knows he was kidding. Orthodoxy, fanaticism of any kind is abhorrent to him. And just as modern Christians have split themselves into two camps – one being the extreme-Trump-show where anything goes, including separating families at our borders while quoting Bible verses, and the other being more reasonable, ie “devotional,” we Americans are splitting apart too. While Mr T dismantles and disrupts democracy from within, God-fearing Christians make excuses because all the while he’s appointing federal judges to advance their agenda. You know the drill:

You don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, because hey, it’s your religious right!

You want that tiny embryo to be declared a person, and criminalize abortion.

You love your AR 15s and want to buy as many as you possibly can, just because.

If you are a fanatical Christian, an evangelical holier-than-thou holy roller, let’s face it, you’re probably not reading this post. You’re watching Fox Entertainment “News” or listening to one of its subsidiaries. The one time I got into social media trouble was after posting an article calling out Mr T as a faux Christian…because when someone is “born again” everything can be forgiven. Everything.

And the Irish in me can’t always forgive. I was all ready to applaud our current First Lady for visiting a detention center for separated refugee children in Texas, until I saw her cheap jacket emblazoned with “I really don’t care. Do U?” graffiti on her back. I had an ounce of pity for her before, because I saw her hasty hand-swipe, and understood that she didn’t ask for all this attention. But she has become a fashion icon and would never don a piece of clothing like that, evah!

Her “Let them eat cake” moment was supposed to show us her softer side. And I must admit, I HATE it when the news cycle picks up on her clothing and not her words – did she really think these children could call, let alone find their parents? I can’t wait to see who will portray her on a future Netflix docu-drama. Meanwhile, a film you don’t want to miss is:

“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader’s austere, intense portrait of a Protestant minister coming undone in upstate New York. The movie, starring Ethan Hawke as the Rev. Ernst Toller, explores themes that viewers versed in Mr. Schrader’s more than four-decade body of work — which includes “American Gigolo” and “Light Sleeper” (as director) and “Taxi Driver” (as screenwriter) and the critical study “Transcendental Style in Film” — will surely recognize. This is not the first time he has delved into the existential torment of a man’s soul… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/movies/first-reformed-paul-schrader.

Tonight we’ll escort Great Grandma Ada to the Temple for some Jewish levity, or irony, or sanity in the South. We’ll re-introduce her to her tribe in the Reform Jewish tradition, which means I never had to promise to keep Kosher. Thank God! From one snowflake, an avalanche.

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Rosary Prayers

There was a time in my life, well probably more than one time if we count near-miss car accidents, when I thought I might die. It was a year between the births of my two children; the last miscarriage was brutal and I ended up back in the hospital with sepsis. My roomie was an older Polish woman who spoke very little English, still I understood her. She had me fetch her rosary beads out of her purse and asked me to pray with her.

The words flowed easily from my mouth, hailing Mary I thought about how comforting it was for her and me! And just the other day with Great Grandma Ada, I happened upon another set of wooden rosary beads. She told me a woman had given them to her in Africa.

But it was the picture this morning on my social feed of rosary beads that are being confiscated at the border of our country that sent chills down my spine. How can this be happening here? Will rosary beads pile up in an exhibition, like so many gold teeth or shoes in Auschwitz, in some future museum to our Central American immigrants?

When border patrol agents separate young children from their families, they are not just inflicting harm, they are telling the world that we allowed this…here. And I cannot.

Even though Mr T’s job approval rating has gone up to 45 percent with HIS “zero tolerance” policy, and who ARE these people…I cannot abide by it.

Even when Pro Publica released an audio tape of children as young as 4 – our Pumpkin is almost 4 – crying for their parents while a guard says,

“We have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.”

I will not accept this. We need to call Flake, Collins and every single GOP legislator with a phone and a conscience. We need to rally the White House. We need to give to RAICES Texas to help fund legal services for immigrant families! https://actionnetwork.org/groups/raices-refugee-and-immigrant-center-for-education-and-legal-services

We need to be the conductors of compassion and stop this insane policy. Because praying can only get you so far. We know that one young girl has been raped by a guard – https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/06/17/texas-deputy-accused-sexually-assaulting-4-year-old-threatened-mom-deportation-sheriff-says

When will a child die of an asthma attack in the heat, in a cage? Because we know this will happen.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/whats-really-happening-asylum-seeking-families-separated/

What will you do?

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We all know someone who is an expert at “Denial” – that psychological coping strategy that allows you to keep moving, to soldier-on despite obstacles both real or imaginary. That person who nevercatches a cold. Or maybe the one who insists on going river-rafting right after a death in the family. Jewish people know that would never do, you must sit around someone’s home for a week and sing the praises of the dearly departed; it’s called sitting shiva.

Well Great Grandma Ada just sat shiva for herself before moving to Nashville. She left rehab with a walker and a host of friends and family that wanted to send her off with a party every day. It was exhausting I’m sure, but everyone brought cake and goodies and regaled her with their fondest memories. She told me she got to go to her very own shiva and she’s right. Sitting atop a hill scattered with boulders, Ada accepted the accolades with aplomb. Like a Queen.

We are happy she’s here with us, her Southern family, and I really think she loves her new digs even though we are still in the midst of building some new Amazon-delivered furniture. A gorgeous daybed for her art studio/second bedroom, an entertainment unit for the living room. If you recall, she once told me to “Dress for dinner” in Yiddish, which means pick yourself up and hold your head high no matter what is happening.

Which is kind of like denial…

But I’d never heard of a “non-denial denial” until I read this article about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has perfected the art of dodging and weaving around the White House Press Corps. She’s been asked if it was true that she was leaving her job as Press Secretary? This is what she told the Twitter bird:

Does @CBSNewsknow something I don’t about my plans and my future? I was at my daughter’s year-end Kindergarten event and they ran a story about my “plans to leave the WH” without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS

Now the Bride happens to have a Kindergarten graduate at home this summer, and when she’s working her extended family take over some school activities. In fact, the Groom is now attending a special Father’s Day event at the Pumpkin’s pre-school! So excuse me for wondering about a Kindergarten graduation, especially when Sanders doesn’t actuallydenyshe’s quitting…

Yet she does not say that the report is inaccurate. She just says she did not talk to the reporter before the piece was published.

As David Cay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump, says, she is using a communications strategy that her boss, the president, often relies on.

“Her denial is: ‘I don’t know anything about this.’ She doesn’t say: ‘I’m not leaving’,” Johnston explains. “It’s what we call a non-denial denial.“”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44479635

This administration is very tricky, those are Trumpian tactics. Say something outrageous and deny you said it, and refer it to somebody else, and hope reporters forget about it with all the rest of the garbage your minions are spreading.

Meanwhile, back at the Grands new apartment, we have many more boxes to go through, because 50 years in one house creates many tchotchkes (aka trinkets, knickknacks, vintage items).  And even though Bob is at the opposite side of the tchotchke spectrum, I cannot deny their appeal. In fact, the more pillows, the merrier! The needlepoint elephant my sister Kay made, and the parrot is from the South of France.

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This morning I awoke to the sun shining through my windows and the birds singing. And the second thought I had in my head was, “Wow, I’m still alive!” I couldn’t stay up to watch the live coverage of the #TrumpKimSummit, and I’ve been too busy setting up house for the Great Grands arrival to pay much attention to breaking news. Suffice it to say, I feel as if I’ve entered the Twilight Zone – our Toddler-in-Chief throwing shade at our allies while shaking hands with our enemies.

Don’t get me wrong, denuclearization is a worthy goal.

But after reading how we Americans are so ill-prepared for a nuclear attack; https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/06/11/would-you-know-what-to-do-during-a-nuclear-attack-218675 I started thinking – just what would I do if my cell phone alarm started screeching about an incoming ballistic missile and not an amber alert? How far away from a major American city would one have to live to survive that mushroom cloud, cause obviously within a certain range there would be nothing to worry about. Literally nothing. To calculate your chance at survival try NUKEMAP.

Here is what one of my favorite author’s wrote: “I’ll immediately buy my first pack of cigarettes in 32 years—Camels, unfiltered. Then a 2 lb bag of M&M’s. I won’t drink again in case it’s a false alarm.” Anne Lamott (Ms Lamott is a recovering alcoholic).

Like that false nuclear alarm in Hawaii last January, that paradise that is melting under lava at the moment? OK here are my three things:

  • I’d immediately start drinking, white wine cause it’s easily potable.
  • I’d conference call my kids, the Great Grands, and my brothers and sister.
  • Ms Bean would be sedated by a drop of hemp oil on her morning biscuit.

Although the M&Ms sound good, I’d prefer Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, just in case I had the luxury of actually shopping for candy. Surprisingly, if we are exposed to a survivable nuclear event, our government does actually have some advice, besides “Duck and Cover”:

It turns out they (instructions) are located on page 66 of a 130-page document compiled by a federal interagency committee in 2010 known as “Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation.” It reads: “The best initial action following a nuclear explosion is to take shelter in the nearest and most protective building or structure and listen for instructions from authorities.”

This week has been surreal in so many ways. There was an attempted armed robbery in my neighborhood, shots were fired shaking my sense of security to the core. Between shopping to furnish Great Grandma’s new apartment and setting up her new home with Great Grandpa Hudson in a very secure building, I found out that Waterford crystal is now made in Germany. And this morning we have the handshake, between Mr T and Un.

Look, I have eyebrows! Will wonders never cease?

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Reality can be a bitch. Reality TV, on the other hand, isn’t really REAL; it’s like a stuffed bunny you can place in any position, ears back, head up and now pour all your painful yearnings onto its fake fur. Fancy housewives all over the country rarely actually flip tables, giving us a glimpse into their true selves. But Anthony Bourdain was somebody everybody liked without knowing him personally – his TV personality and his writings were so authentic, so real.

Yesterday, in a storm of furniture shopping for Great Grandma Ada’s new digs, the Bride and I paused for lunch and sat in the sweltering heat outside of Whole Foods. It was better to glow a little than freeze to death inside the store. We watched as two young people with headsets kept putting grocery carts in the parking spaces right in front of us, talking to their own heads all the while. Finally the Bride had had enough, she asked the purple-headed girl what they were up to, since she could smell a film crew.

They were setting up for a reality show!

Not wanting to be a backdrop for their fantasy, and speculating on just which reality show, we proceeded to the next store where I fell in love with a chair. Yes, this thing can happen with me. Bob just doesn’t get it, he could live out of a suitcase in a hotel anywhere and be perfectly happy. Which is exactly what we thought of Bourdain on his reality travelogue “Parts Unknown.” We all watched with awe as he ate Vietnamese food with President Obama. We saw him dive for shellfish that he discovered had been planted just for his camera by a fisherman.

Here was a guy who pulled NO punches. He was fearless and indestructible, a Hemingway of a man! And like Hemingway it seems he took his own life at the age of 61 in a hotel room in France. Coming on the heels of Kate Spade’s suicide, aka Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan, we mere mortals are left wondering just what makes life worth living? When does our public persona stop aligning with our true selves?

Great Grandma Ada will be moving to parts unknown soon, and although I sense she is ready, many of her friends and extended family are not eager to relinquish her wise and comforting presence. She will be missed. But a long time ago she lived in the South and raised two little boys here when her first husband, the one who shall NOT be named, was serving in the military. And her family lives here, in reality and with alacrity! With basketball games, hockey teams, the ballet and symphony a short Uber ride away. The Frist Art Museum is right down the road! http://fristartmuseum.org

We are always asked to reinvent ourselves as we grow, to adapt to new surroundings. To bloom where we are planted. I have no doubt our matriarch, with the true love of her life the Grand Marshall Great Grandpa Hudson, will make Nashville home.

If you or someone you love has been experiencing suicidal ideation, you can text:

HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/06/07/u-s-suicide-rates-rise-sharply-across-the-country-new-report-shows/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a4373b154417

Cville Wedding Tastings 055

Monday’s can be hard, let’s face it. You need to wake up early and get back to work, if you’re still working. You might just be a tad hungover from a fun weekend. And then, to top it off, many restaurants are closed on Mondays, don’t ask me why. So you return to your castle and slap together a sandwich or order pizza for dinner. But if you’re of a certain age, Monday can seem just like any other day.

Except yesterday was exceptional in a number of ways. First, we had the Love Bug delivered to us early because her parents were working and she’s out of school for the summer! Her brother’s pre-school in Belle Meade is still in session. Our little Kindergarten graduate showed up looking like Mata Hari with a long paisley scarf wrapped around her head.

I’d already watered the potted herbs, walked Ms Bean and started a load of laundry so we were free to play all day. But shopping for Great Grandma Ada took precedence, so we spent some time v e r y  s l o w l y riding different lift-recliners at our local surgical supply store. After that, we strolled through the Farmer’s Market picking up our favorite peanut butter and a bath bomb shaped like a heart. Pretty soon it was time for lunch, and Pop Bob told her, “Today, we’re having dessert first!

She ordered strawberry buttercream ice cream with sprinkles, I had fresh cherry and goat cheese while Bob stuck to his fave, butter pecan.

Little did I know that a hatchet murderer was on the run from a fitness center in Belle Meade and the L’il Pumpkin’s school was on lockdown. Our Sonos was tuned to classical music while the Love Bug and I started a paint-by-numbers present of the Bat Building for the Great Grandparents’ new Nashville apartment. Happy as clams while chaos unfolded just a few miles away in a genteel part of town.

The killer it seems had it out for the man who had fired him from his job a year ago. So it’s a workplace related homicide, which is only slightly reassuring, but there had been signs. For instance, he had been stopped in his car by Metro DC police for coming too close to the White House – and refusing to leave. He’d also referred to himself as “The Sun of God” on his Facebook profile… https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/06/04/police-man-attacked-hatchet-belle-meade-strip-mall/668606002/

The Agatha Christie in me wants to make this more than just a paranoid schizophrenic nightmare for these families. Create intrigue where there is simply raw hate, anger and resentment; still I wonder if one law actually worked. Was the killer unable to buy a gun because of his previous run-ins with the law? Or did he just prefer  to terrorize a neighborhood and inflict pain on his victim?

Our Pumpkin returned home without ever knowing what was happening or why moms and dads seemed especially anxious while picking up their kids early yesterday. He always looks me straight in the eye, saying “I knew you would come,” and that always melts my heart.

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Students want their loans forgiven, and rightfully so, since many attended for-profit, predatory, technical “colleges” without any real-work-force training. Betsy DeVos was willing to partially forgive the loans at one school, but that would have left students on the hook for the rest of the money.

“A federal judge has banned the U.S. Department of Education from using earnings data to grant only partial student loan forgiveness to defrauded borrowers who attended defunct for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/05/29/courts-halt-devoss-partial-student-debt-relief-plan/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c9287cdd8a13

Female comedians want forgiveness for using expletives and racial slurs in their monologues; and let’s not forget Kathy Griffin who was banished from our kingdom by her severed head routine. I must admit when I heard Samantha Bee’s rant on my phone I was surprised, then I thought, “Wait a minute…” once we actually OWN a word, it loses its ability to shock. After all, calling someone a “prick” isn’t quite the same, is it?

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

And just like that, “Pussygate” was born and all the high-and-mighter-than-thou folks forgave Mr T. Think about it, evangelicals had to forgive him that locker talk in order to push their agenda. Our Commander in Comedy was taped on a bus in 2005 using a more pleasant term for female anatomy, one many of us owned by donning pink knit caps while visiting the nation’s capitol.

Should we forgive our old Congressman from VA? He has decided not to run for office and instead will seek treatment for his alcoholism; he’s begging forgiveness too, for not showing up to town meetings, for voting with Mr T all the damn time, oh NO, wait –

“Garrett’s announcement came two days after POLITICO detailed allegations from four former staffers that Garrett and his wife had turned them into his part-time gofers. They were ordered to pick up groceries, clothing — even the poop of Sophie, the couple’s Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix and a fixture in the congressman’s Capitol Hill office.”

Apparently, federal and state employees are not supposed to be minions. Although this did make me think of a Seinfeld bit where he imagined an alien looking down on the earth, seeing humans picking up poop after their dogs, and deciding not to invade.

It appears to be Theatre of the Absurd time. One minute the summit with North Korea is on, then it’s off, and then it’s on again. We see a different Kim, a Kardashian standing next to Mr T in the Oval looking like an Addams Family Gothic portrait. He received a very BIG letter, that he’ll never read.

And here at home, the TN State capitol is glowing like a clementine on #WearOrange weekend. We have one of the nation’s most lax gun laws, but it’s OK since a little stage lighting may help honor those suffering from our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Heck I wore orange yesterday, it was literally, the least I could do.

And I hope you’ll forgive me, I look better in pink, eating a frosted cream-filled donut, because ya know, yesterday was National Donut Day!

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