Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pull Over, Ma'am

When my mother was 84 we suggested she stop driving. It wasn’t without cause. She had taken out a few parking meters and the passenger side mirror more than once. Initially, we suggested that she consider not driving, but finally after a series of what we call pauses (it’s like fainting for brief periods of time and then recovering, unaware of what happened), I insisted she give up her keys. Her response was pretty much what we expected.

“Then you might as well kill me,” she said calmly.

We thought she was overreacting and responded with something equally sensible.

“Mom,” we said, “either you are going to kill someone or yourself, and we were thinking we would prefer not to be paying off a wrongful death suit for the rest of all our lives.”

“As an alternative”, I told her, “We will find someone to drive you anywhere you want to go.” She was not a happy camper. But we mistakenly thought that it was no big deal.

Recently, because I’m spending so much time in NYC, I was curious about now not driving would effect my life. And now I understand how my mother felt. It took away her independence. Always having to depend on someone else to get where she wanted to go made her feel like an invalid. Even now, at age 90, she has never forgiven me for what she still considers “unnecessary measures” to save her life. Quite the contrary. She is convinced that if I had simply minded my own business and had let her keep the license, she would not have aged so quickly.

That got me to thinking again. (It happens so infrequently that I am always aware of the infrequent visits of my brain). Someone, maybe me, needs to write a book for all the boomers which addresses the issue of age and driving. The decision not to drive, whether it is self made or forced upon us, should never, as older people, be based soley on convenience. For example, if you cannot drive without causing people to flee when they see you coming, do you want to retire to a place that is beautiful, but in the middle of nowhere? How to you shop for food without using your car? Do you want to be in a house that has stairs you may not be able to climb? Are there interesting activities in which you can participate located convenient to you?

There was a time when people got old and their loving children wanted not to deal with their own mortality, so they put them in storage. It seemed their lives went from steerage to storage. Some smart person noticed that this didn’t happen in Eastern cultures or where people had a conscience, and they created the concept of Independent and Assisted living facilities, where they were served three lovely meals a day, snacks and hundreds of activities. It was like social camp for the elderly. My mom lives in a retirement community where she has her own apartment, 3 meals a day and some activities. The difference between assisted living and retirement communities are the spices on the table, and attitude toward the words assisted and retirement. Otherwise they are places where for our older relatives, who can’t live alone but, in an attempt to make them feel like they have not been stored or dismissed, we ask a stranger to provide the care.

So what’s going to happen to the “boomers” when they get to be 80? Lots of people are buying large homes together and committing to take care of one another – or hire someone to take care of all of them. They buy a van to provide transportation and they live out their lives at ‘home’ with at least a smidgen of dignity. But there are a great many of us who have yet to grasp the concept of “aging.” So what will the future bring for us? We have time to plan, but don’t think it’s an issue with which you never have to deal. Unless you are friends with Dr Kevorkian, or you have a desire to be a vampire, it’s worth giving it a bit of thought. Don’t, however, drive yourself crazy. We’re just sayin’…Iris

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hey, Stanley

Tonight I had one of those phone calls which, in a Leave it to Beaver World, would be something you would always look forward to. Someone comes to mind who you haven’t seen in years, decades, perhaps. It’s always some little and unlikely suggestion – a car color, an over heard accent, some minor hint of another time, and usually, a person from that past. I have those moments all the time. Probably it results from a combination of a desire to keep the past nearby, and a realization that every day we live, at a certain point of our lives, begins to be a number that actuarials throw around like popcorn. I’d been asked by TIME to transfer from Washington DC, where I had begun my “adult” photo career in the autumn of 1968, to the Miami bureau. After my first six months in DC, Charlie Jackson – the Time Picture Editor -- called me to his office, and as I marvelled at his amazing bushy mustache and broad suspenders, he proposed I move to Miami – there was a new bureau chief there, and I would probably find a lot of work – giving up the sure thing that DC was, for the slightly more adventurous world of Miami and the Caribbean.

I entered Dade county, and had a sandwich at the very first Arby’s I’d ever seen on March 28th, 1969 the day that Dwight Eisenhower died. I looked around for a place to live, having no idea what neighborhood was what, and ended up in a cute little garden apartment in Miami Springs, a green and flat neighborhood just north of the Miami airport (handy for all that travelling I’d be doing.) The highlights of the ‘hood were a friendly little camera store called The Camera Stop whose manager, Julio became a close friend, and a bar – one of a chain across south Florida – called Big Daddy’s where it was allegedly far easier to pick up chicks than any of my experience would validate. The apartment was located on the edge of a public golf course, and eventually I would go with a few apartment pals to poach 3 or 4 holes at sunset, on a fairly regular basis. Didn’t do much for our game, but it was fun, and until we were nabbed by the Pro one night, cheap. The menagerie of residents was something to behold. It was truly 1969.
Me, 1969
All white, with one or two Latinos, in the 40 or so apartments. I lived on the second floor in a small one bedroom (it was furnished, too!) A little galley type kitchen on the left as you walked in, a nice sized living room, and a bedroom with bath attached. Pretty snazzy for $ 165 a month. The resident manager was a taciturn Italian fellow who had a double apartment: for his expectant Austrian wife, and his mother. His day job was working as a mechanic at the airport, just down the road, and he commuted on a small Yamaha motor scooter. Other residents included Al, the divorced businessman who lived there with his 18 year old son Tim. The three airline stews, Jeanette, Halina, and a lovely Viennese blonde whose name escapes me, but who I ran into by accident on a Mondale trip to Eastern Europe in 1977. There was Jim the used car salesman, from Chicago, who introduced me into various amusing, but no doubt law-challenging practices designed to separate a potential car buyer from an extra coupla’ hundred bucks at closing. Two doors over was Les, who must have already been in his late 50s, who sold Pontiacs, and definately got more than his share of “action.” He was the one who confided to me his technique of trolling for vacationing midwest teachers... “the ‘good girls’” as he called them, who by the third or fourth day of their week in sunny south Florida were looking for someone to show them more of the town than their brochures would allow. Les was always ready. He used the word “man” way more than about anyone else I’d ever heard. Everything was “man” with Les. As in, “you know, man, a good bottle of Scotch is not something you should ever waste.” And my favorite was Vic, who moved in with his lovely wife Patty, and shortly there after her brother. Vic was working in the airline maintenance world, but his previous career, the year before, was that of Top Fuel Dragster pilot. He’d often run in the 5’s, topping in the mid 250mph range (in a ¼ mile!) It was, like most residential teams, a good candidate for “a ship of fools” kind of script. Other than racially, it was mixed: all parts of the country, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, and ages from early 20s to early 60s. I suppose it’s what we might have considered “diverse” in a 1969 sort of way. We had a lot of ad hoc bbq cook outs; once you saw coals being jammed on the grill, you’d grab something and go out and join whomever had started the fire. Soon enough, Al would show up with a plate of carrots and cucumbers, with a side of Blue Cheese dressing (Ranch only went national in 1972.) I often think of those folks and what fate had in store for them. Most had names which were not nearly singular enough to give a hint in a Yahoo search where they might be.

Halina was an airline hostess, short, pretty, and virtually no accent, for a girl who had been born in Eastern Europe and come to the states as a very young kid. She’d grown up in Connecticut, and seemed to be entralled with whatever level of glamour Miami seemed to hold. That, plus working for one of the big charter airlines, meant she was all over the world on a regular basis. In the spring of 1970, my last year there, her 17 year old little brother came from CT to spend a few months with her. I guess it must have been seen as a way to try and get him – Stanley – a look around the country, and a chance to find a job. He was, even to an aging 23 year old like me, very much a kid. Full of energy and youthful exhuberance, I think he probably viewed it as a vacation in the tropics. Of course the thing I remember most is the day he borrowed my bicycle, and brought it back un-rideable. I don’t remember the exact issue, but it was either brakes or a flat tire, or something silly. But those are sometimes the little things which you remember. My theory about interpersonal behaviour has to do with the unsynchronized process of memory: to wit – the things you most remember about someone.. are in all probability things which that person has absolutely NO memory of at all. Essentially, those things we notice about someone may never even make it to that persons own archive of things to remember. So, tonight when I tried to find Stanley, after some forty years, I put that bicycle issue out of my mind, and tried thinking only of the little amusements we’d shared around the apartment. I did a search on Yahoo/People, which found a half dozen persons of his first & last name. But you have to try and do a little detective work (can you imagine just how weird it would have been to be a detective and NOT have the internet?) Finally, I saw a name in upstate New York, and dialed the number.

From the first “Hello,” I knew it was him. Same jaunty timbre. Same speed of speaking. I explained (which is all it usually takes) that I was the photographer who lived next door (Oh!! Time Magazine, right?) So here we were, now 57 and 63, looking back in a matter of a few minutes over what the most important forty years of our lives had been. When he said, very matter of factly, that he’d been homeless but was now living in an apartment, my heart nearly fell to the floor. Nothing I suppose that I could have done would have really impacted on his life all this time, but the jolt of reality was something I wasn’t ready for, even though I don’t really think I imagined him married to Donna Reed, with two smiling kids in a ranch home in the “development.” I asked if he’d been in the Army, and he said he’d done a tour in Korea in the Army in 1972. He’d had orders to go to Vietnam, but never got further than Seoul. And what of all those years? I didn’t get a lot of details but the way in which he spoke of his former homeless condition almost made it sound less terrible. “I went to the VA several times, but never got anywhere. Finally, I was put in a program, and started to come out of my funk.” So today, recounting it with a voice lined with all the enthusiasm of a 17 year old, but darkened and graveled up by forty challenging years, I felt that four decades compress. I guess we are the first generation who has so much leisure and “extra” time on our hands that we are able to ponder the these kinds of existential elements in our lives which our forebearers didn’t have the luxury of. Until this generation, most of human kind’s resources were spent trying to make shelter and grow food. They didn’t have time for Facebook or Wii. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have nothing to worry about, as much of our lives is just dealing with extra-complicated structures which we have invented. Stanley sounds OK, even if a little ragged of voice. And the next time I’m upstate, I will definately try and see him. Our lives, other than a couple of months in south Florida, have never had much in common; but the traces of those early years remain planted. In the end, when you do the math, we’re talking about the majority of our lives, what was probably the highest periods of creative energy. But we’re not dead yet. And if Stanley can rebound from his troubled life, then maybe there is much hope for all of us to find that ongoing spark of youthful energy. Still even though I don’t know where it will end up, you can find me late at night, and some weekends trolling through the fonebooks of the Internet in search of the other distant souls in my life.

We’re just sayin’ ... David

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Driving Miss Crazy

Driving Miss Crazy.

Where to begin? Over the last few months, I’ve been working in NY and not using my car. So I wondered if I could survive without wheels. In NY there are many people who don’t have a driver’s license, but in Virginia I figured it would be impossible to survive—but why not try.

We had a wonderful weekend visiting and cooking with the kids, (we cooked enough to feed a small army and managed not to eat every bit of it.) We made Challah, mandel bread, (cinnamon raison and peanut better and jelly), Italian meat sauce and I think blueberry muffins – but who knows. It was a terrific non-stop food marathon, something we hadn’t done for much too long. Anyway, we made our way back to Virginia for some work, play and to catch up with friends. We were nine hours in the car and I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to see if you could get along without a car for extended time. So, like the urban romantic I have always aspired to be, I took the metro.

How does one explain the difference between the NY subway and the DC Metro? If you don’t want to know, stop reading now. But you will be missing some pretty valuable information. .

There is a different dynamic. For example, in DC you can get arrested for eating on the Metro. In NY you can get killed if someone wants what you’re eating on the subway. In NY, someone might actually get up and let a disabled or elderly person sit. It is never assured. And it is never because you ask. In Virginia, when an older or disabled person gets on and needs to sit, that person will actually ask, whoever is sitting in the specially marked seats, to get up. In NY, if you asked someone to give you their seat, they might fall off the seat laughing, but that’s the only way it is going to be yours. Cell fones work on the trains in DC. “No Service” in NY.

In NY people on the subway are anonymous. In DC people are removed, almost arrogant. I guess it’s because everyone in DC thinks they are too-too important and are entitled to some courtesy – without ever being courteous. David always yells, “didn’t you take civics?” Generally no one listens, but we all know the answer is a negative. In NY there is an assumed etiquette about the way you conduct yourself. Like, you wait until everyone gets off before you get on. And you stand to the right and walk to the left on the escalator. In DC, people block the doorways, and push on and off. If someone wants to stand in the middle of the escalator they will do it and never think a thing about inconveniencing anyone else.

Maybe it’s because the people in NY are more practiced about being underground. Or maybe it’s because New Yorkers are serious about the trains and buses – which has nothing to do with cleanliness. NY’ers want things to work and when they don’t there is always a way to be accommodated. In DC, weather of any kind is paralyzing, (I think I wrote about the lack of snow removal.) Their model of a great ride is not that there are enough cars arriving in a timely manner, but that no one sitting next to them is drinking a soda

I could go on and on, which I am oft tempted to do. But people in Va. Md, and the District are so nuts when there is, even a drop of rain, that I would like to hire someone to drive for me. My brother says it would be material for another show—but this one needs to be called “Driving Miss Crazy”. We’re just sayin….Iris

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Am I Happy?

John B, my new friend and in fact, business partner, asked me if I was happy doing the “Theater thing.” Just to catch you up, having started to spend more time in NY merely months ago, I am now in the midst of producing at least five musicals.  Yes it’s hard to believe that a only months ago I was in DC, trying to figure out which Under Secretary  in Government I did not want to be.   And Voila! now (according to my friend Pam T),  I am the Under Secretary for Broadway.  Who cares if anyone else knows about this prestigious Big Apple appointment. 

So, back to the “happy” question but not without a little more rambling.  There really has never been a time when I was not happy – except my first two days at USA Networks when I had neither office nor desk,  anywhere near the rest of my department. I was sitting somewhere on the Tenth Floor and all the people who supposedly worked for me, had space on the fifth floor. It was inconvenient at best – it was untenable at worst.  Eventually, I found space on five, and even though it wasn’t “commensurate” with my position, it was better than being in Siberia.  Once I was settled in, I started to enjoy all the new tasks and certainly the people.

Hang on.  Let me peruse my mind for an awful work memory.

When I was in high school, I packed and stacked handbags at the family factory. (I started out in the  office but they moved me because they didn’t understand why, when I couldn’t find a file, I simply threw the paperwork away. ) The packing and stacking bags was mindless but the people who made this their lives were lovely and most kind to me – the time passed quickly. When I was in college I taught speech at a Catholic elementary school,

When I was a young married person (the first marriage) and needed to be an income provider,  I worked at a Chinese restaurant—and a coffee shop.  The Chinese place was fun but I couldn’t understand what they asked me to do, so they asked me to leave.  After that I worked as counter  help in a Jewish bakery (until one Friday when I had been pushed and beaten beyond my level of tolerance, by the old ladies who thought I wanted to make it my career), I threw in the towel.    Then I worked at the corner drugstore and was so bored that, just like when we were kids at my Uncles drug store, I pretended to be a spy.  That was way beyond my comfort level and I found a position as a job counselor  at the Snelling and Snelling Employment  Agency. Among all the jobs I had, that was the most humiliating. You had to change your name so no one could find you and kill you if they hated the work to which you sent them.  (That wasn’t the humiliating part)  They fired me because they said I should be a social worker, not in the placement business – and it didn’t matter if the client liked the their placement.  Enough real world, I decided to apply for a teaching assistantship and go back to graduate school. 

Like so many people in the 60’s, I thought I was making a difference in the world.  History, I thought, would look back on my generation and treat us kindly.  One day, when I was haranging a young friend about his lack of interest in protest and outrage against the war, he said, “You don’t get it.  We read about you guys in our history books.  You’re history man!”  So I guess  the rest is history – or maybe history, politics and government aren’t the same thing.  It gets so confusing.  Nevertheless most of my professional life was spent in teaching, politics, and government.  Always communication related but certainly not in my life plan.

While all my political and government jobs were amazing, and I had unbelievable opportunities, none were planned as a career.  My dream, my passion, had been to do something in the theater. Never a talented performer, but always an exceptional organizer, I wanted to run a  theater, direct a theater company, or produce… anything.

And now, after just a few months and a few courses, I am involved in producing at least five musicals.  Am I happy?  Giddy with enthusiasm and excitement might be a more accurate description. Am I “happy”  doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel about each day.  We're just sayin'...Iris.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Life: A Bowl of Soup

Is the testing period over? Well, it’s never really over, it’s just delayed. I knew that. But there are days, and today is one of them, when it SEEMS the testing is over. That long, makeyououtofbreath winter snow storm day watch, the ones the Weathermen go bonkers about to remind you that Snowmegeddon is Near, that kind of day which you makes you wonder if you will ever see the sun again, is briefly banished, to let us feel the faintest of today’s warm breezes. That cold day is over. Today in DC it is just beautiful. Spring-like, dare I say. You can wear a moderately heavy coat, but you don’t need to. All of a sudden you’re wandering around looking like the Michelin Tire man, shoulders and arms all puffy and plump. You realize the simple little jeans jacket would have done the trick. Those are the kind of moments which make you feel that spring might be on the radar, if not yet upon us. There are still a few large pyramids of ice encrusted snow in the back yard and the north side of the house which gets no sunlight. It makes you understand how in the days before refrigeration, a well marshalled hunk of snow and ice could have helped keep that slaughtered buffalo meat a little longer in the basement.

I do feel like the northeast was tested this winter. Lots of cold, lots of snow, and lots of – inspite of all the bellowing weathermen – surprizes. Having grown up in multiple-feet-at-a-time Utah snow, I always was shocked and dismayed at how the capital of the Free World (their title, not mine) was so ready to succumb to a mild flurry as if it were the Black Plague, itself. Deserted streets, untended schools. Food stripped from grocers’ shelves. This was always what happened when one of the little storms would drop a couple of inches of snow on the DC area. In Rochester, you would have been ashamed to react so meekly. But here, it was always the way... make a run on the grocery stores...because there is no food left in America. And get ready to stay home for days at a time because – so goes the thinking -- unlike every winter for the last 300 years, there will be a snowstorm. The relief from that kind of “woe is me” panic which grips this town is palpable, and today I saw the actual proof of it.

The carwash on Glebe Road was open, and cars were lined out two blocks waiting to get in. A clean car in the post salt-and-sand storm environment is a joy to behold. And it remains one of those reminders of how this country has changed so much in a generation. As you pull into line, an “all-business, no guff’ Latina takes your order, writes a symbol on the car windshield denoting Silver/Gold/Platinum service, and as the car makes its way down the washeria, you go inside, pay an Ethiopian woman on the cash counter, take your receipt and hand it to the Salvadorean crew chief (of ‘last step’ hand driers), and then hop in your car, and away you go. This, after a modest lunch of spring rolls (steamed not fried) and a bowl of wonderful Phø at the Tay Ho Vietnamese soupeteria. Where half the clients are Asian, half Latino, and a few native English speakers like myself. It truly is a melting pot wherein the pot contains a soup which is sublime.

Last night I attended a dinner downtown with nearly two dozen former Vietnam War reporters. Most of us had fallen into other more modern aspects of our lives, yet all retained a certain fondness for Vietnam, and perhaps its people, and our own lives, as they were lived there. Just a year ago, one of the more colorful members of this group, a no – bullshit Dutch photographer named Hugh Van Es, had a cerebral hemorrage, and was taken to hospital in Hong Kong, his home since the end of the war. As he lay several days dying in his bed, messages about him, wishes to his wife Annie, his medical status updates, and maybe most importantly stories about him began to circulate amongst a small group of reporter friends. That small group kept growing on the internet, the way the internet does those things, and within a few days, almost 300 people were sharing their memories of Hugh (all you need to know is that he had his own stool at the Foreign Correspondents Club bar in Hong Kong. That and the fact that amongst the many fine pictures he did, was the photograph of the last helicopter on the roof of the apartment building, the one everyone knows, that final gasp of indignity, as the US officially departed Saigon) After he passed away, all these newly rediscovered friends ended up on a Google group bulletin board. It remains a wonderful venue for speaking about lost friends, issues during the war, and sometimes how Vietnam does or doesn’t engender parallels to Iraq and Afghanistan. The board has taken on a life of its own, moderated by a former AP reporter living in Sydney, and it remains one of those modern day online wonders. In the era of blogs and very little reporting of the old style, this group of journos remains the last real bastion of true journalistic reporting. Next month will be the 35th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh and Saigon. The “end” of the wars in Indochina (not really, but for the Americans anyway.) There will be a large contingent of former reporters (the group is aptly called “Vietnam Old Hacks...”) who will gather in both capitals to meet old friends, and no doubt ponder what the worlds of Cambodia and Vietnam are like, 35 years later. Would that in 2045 we will all have a pleasant four day stay in Baghdad, or Kabul, sitting in small cafes, nibbling on honey-drizzled sweets, and remembering what the “oughts” and “teens” were like. Last night in DC a small contingent of that group gathered for dinner, most of us for one reason or another unable to attend the April reunions in Asia. There were a few well known scribes (Bernie Kalb/CBS and Richard Pyle/AP) as well a number of folks I had never met there – they all having worked in Vietnam years before or after I did. But as Bernie Kalb so sublimely put it, “ DNA is powerfully filled with Vietnam. I dont let go of Vietnam, and Vietnam does not let go of me...” (Here is a little video of everyone introducing themselves last night..)
the hacks....

That wonderful lunch that I partook of today, those amazing Vietnamese rice noodles in the world’s greatest broth might never have existed had we not had all the twists, turns, tragedies and sadness of the War. Perhaps the families who settled here, opened soup cafes, and raised their kids as the archetypal “new” Americans, would have been able to somehow maintain a life in the Vietnam of the 70s. The war had a lot of after effects, not the least of which are the hundreds of little cafes which now dot the American landscape, and which provide a place to sit for an hour or so, and savor something so simple as a bowl of soup. I’m sorry for the war, for all the killing and destruction of a culture that took place. But I’m not sorry that in it’s aftermath a new generation of Americans includes the kids of those Vietnamese expats. And on a spring day like this marvelous Sunday, as we all try and ponder where we’re going I feel the gift of their arrival here.

We’re just sayin’.... David

Friday, March 05, 2010

Killer, Killer

Who in the world would want a job with “Killer” in the job description? You know like “Needs to be skilled with killer whales” or “Must have experience dealing with Jewelery distributor, Bob “the killer” Schmendrick. Or, has to understand killer storms”. It’s just one of those words that indicates that a some point, there are bound to be some problems. Actually, I can’t think of anyone (by name), except Kirstie Alley, who has made a career of disastrous life decisions. First she was fine, then she got to be a TV star then she disappeared, then she got really fat, then she was the spokesperson for the “Jenny Craig” weight loss program and she lost plenty of weight, then she got fatter than she was, and now she is doing some kind of a reality TV show – where she is the horrible reality.

Anyway, there are always people who want to be challenged by their work, but who are not satisfied sitting in an office, behind a desk, or photographing plants. People who work as zookeepers, lion tamers, and the young women who die at the fins of a mammal like Orca the “killer” whale. And he was, and he did, and it was inevitable that there would be continued disaster. Orca did have four incidents of violence before he finally succeeded in killing someone. One question is, did he do it intentionally? Another is, should wild beasts be kept in places like “Sea World”. There are those who say that places like Sea World are educational. Oh Pleeeze! They are not kept in small puddles because they are teaching anything to anyone. They are captives because they can jump and play on command. It’s the usual controversy about animals and zoos. Is it humane to take them out of the wild and keep them contained in cages? Probably not. But then there are experts who say that animals don’t breed in captivity unless they are happy. And further that since they were born in captivity they cannot survive in a natural habitat. And it is not only whales who are mistreated – it’s every kind of animal from elephants to tigers to giraffes to other enormous fish and “once were wild” animals.

To be honest, there are so many serious problems in the world, I am hesitant to expend any energy on a “Whale” of an environmental controversy. I care deeply if people can’t feed their families because they don’t have jobs or lost everything to Bernie Madoff. (Obviously, I don’t feel as bad for the latter.) At some point we need to pick and choose our battles because there simply isn’t enough time to fight for everything – although it seemed like there was in the 60’s. But time has changed so many things. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dog and I once had a parakeet, who if he hadn’t had a nervous breakdown, I also would have loved.

Exactly what is my point? I have no idea. It’s just that I get tired of silly, when there is serious. And I think it’s important to have priorities – like health care for children, food for destitute people, a clean environment, and a healthy economy. As I mentioned previously, it is difficult for me to get excited about the death of an animal trainer who knew that if “Killer” was mentioned in her job description – and if the animal had a history of “accidents”, there was likely to be trouble.

People who have the luxury of advocating for pets and wild life, are to be admired for their hard work. And as my mother would say, “It’s a way to spend the day”. But I prefer to advocate for issues that will make the world a better place for my children and grandchildren. Let’s get real – animals in cages (while unfortunate) is still not on the same level as starving children or parents without jobs. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Monday, March 01, 2010

Swirling, Curling

Well, the snow is almost gone it NYC, but it had an amazing impact on “New Yorkers”. They were seemingly paralyzed and in a bad mood. You see, usually when it snows in the city, it either melts or is taken away –almost immediately. But this storm kind of snuck up on the city –big flakes, not sticking and then all of a sudden WHAM, it was so icy on the sidewalks you could hardly balance. If people had salted right away, it might have been OK. But, it was nothing and all of a sudden it was impossible to see 2 feet in front of wherever you were walking.

The snow was kind of like the Olympics. First there was nothing and then there was curling. Admittedly, I don’t get curling. It’s shuffle board with brooms. Do we think that whatever it is they brush in front of the puck really makes a difference in how far it goes? It’s kind of like first there was no curling or at least it was obscure at best, them all of a sudden it couldn’t be controlled. There was so much curling that you couldn’t shovel your way out.

It reminds me of when Jordan was little and we sent her to a Montessori kindergarten. At some point I visited the class and they were learning how to dust and wipe a table properly. And honestly, I thought, this is fine… we’re simply raising a generation of cleaning ladies it’s an honest profession. I thought that these people might know something I didn’t know about how kids learn, and to me that is curling. They must know something I don’t know. There’s a reason that the kids should learn to clean a table and there is also a reason why perfectly intelligent people can watch other perfectly intelligent people can push a puck over some ice and really care how far it goes.

Anyway, I guess just to tie everything together, both the cleaning and the pucking are much like the state of health care reform today. I know you are thinking, now this a stretch, where could she possibly be going. And if you’re not thinking that, you certainly should be. Watch this. Health care, like curling and learning to clean (as an integral part of your education), when you are 5, simply can not be explained in any rational way. If you talked about health insurance reform, learning to move forward with the help of brooms, or not allowing children to make an indiscriminate a mess, all these things would make sense. But, as I may have said before they are not that easily explained.

We are all grateful for diversity -- different ideas, tastes and different opinion about the impact on what is overall good. But, once again, as with cleaning, curling, and health reform I am sure, that a Presidential executive order about eliminating childhood obesity, (while it might be for the good of the people), simply doesn’t send the same signals as an executive order about “Don’t ask don’t tell”, real change in the economy and health insurance reform, and an ability to deal with the Congress. Again, there are so many things I don’t understand that sometimes I think maybe it is me – but I know it’s not