Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day Without Rosie

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I should be at the Reservoir Tavern in Boonton, NJ, yucking it up with old friends but instead, I am in a state of total collapse, recovering from just a part of our pack and move. I am thankful that I had a place to go to collapse.

This is the first Thanksgiving I have ever spent without my mother. True, my trips home for this turkey of a holiday usually had to do with having the opportunity to gather with extended family and friends. But it was, in no small way, a holiday on which my mother always an impact.

As with other families, our immediate family always celebrated Thanksgiving at first my parents house and then, when the house was gone, and my mother moved to the West Coast, at my brother’s. While we were still in New Jersey, the turkey part of the program would consist of decorating a gingerbread house, setting the table, preparing the meal and eating, and revealing what we were most thankful for. After the main meal friends would come from near and far (mostly near), and bring dessert. There were a few colorful years where the celebration would start out just fine, and then my mother would have some kind of a ‘pause’ and we would end up at the hospital. I guess she figured since we were all together it was a perfect time to get sick – that way we wouldn’t have to travel to wherever she was for whatever the emergency.

After mom moved to Seattle we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving a week or two early and thus avoid travel and shopping problems. It was wonderful, except that it was too difficult for Seth and Joyce to make the trip, and of course, they were missed. We also missed the multitude of desserts brought by friends, but not as much as we missed the kids. Then on the actual day, Jordan and I (David if he was around) would go and sit at the bar at the York Grill, and have a great multi-course meal (also at the bar), and wander home for a good nap. Not bad, just not the same.
last year in Seattle
It’s amazing, without Mom around, how much I miss my kids, my brother and sister-in-law, my niece and my aunt Irene. It’s funny how, when you absolutely can’t celebrate the way you always did, how much you feel the absence of what was – even if it wasn’t always pleasant. It’s amazing how, when things change – that you didn’t want to change--how helpless you feel to do anything about the new circumstances.

Uh oh, is this turning into another giant whine – another “oh poor me.” No it is not. I am thankful for all my friends, old and new. Family, old and new. Life style, old and new. And new career – too long in coming. As I said, I am thankful for having friends and family who are there to support our efforts – no matter how half assed or ridiculous. And I am thankful to be able to enjoy all my children’s successes and even recovery from, what they consider failures. I never think what they do is a failure—just another learning experience…. And for the ability to believe that my children can never fail, I will be for ever grateful to my mom and dad. We’re just sayin’… Iris
Thanksgiving 2005: Seth,Joyce,Jeff; DB,Rose,Iris

Monday, November 15, 2010

Never Too Late To Learn

Remember the Beatles song that started, “When I get older, losing my hair.. many years from now..”….. well folks – yes, it’s that birthday, but I still learn something every day.

Today I learned that having supportive, loving friends/family is totally wonderful. And just how did I learn this? First of all, we went to a family wedding last night. It was a nice wedding. And the kids were so happy. But that wasn’t something I learned –I already knew that. What I learned was that, no matter how old you get, being with your family just keeps getting better and better.

When you are a child, it’s nice to see relatives -- occasionally. When it happens, you usually have a good time but you never think – I just can’t wait until the next occasion to see all those cousins again. If it happens, it’s nice. If it doesn’t, you figure it probably will sometime down the road – but it’s not necessarily something you know you will miss if it doesn’t happen soon. What I know now, is that I will feel an absence not seeing my cousins and my mother’s twin sister. It’s too bad we don’t know that when we are young, but yesterday I learned that it is never too late to have the realization.
the kids cousin brigade
The correspondence I received today was, for the most part, loving. Friends from all different times in my life sent messages and wishes for a happy birthday. Note, I said for the most part. Allow me to explain (Of course, I knew you would). For the last few weeks I have been sending notes asking for tax deductible financial support for “Gefilte Fish Chronicles: The musical – which I must say is going to be a real winner. (Yes mom, I just spit three times to avoid the evil eye.) I decided, however, not to send letters to family because I’m always asking them for something – and I know it gets tedious. Don’t want my dream to turn into their nightmare. (Despite not asking, a few generously offered to help). Much to my surprise, I got one disturbing note from an old friend who got one of the letters. Let me also say that I sent a note before the letter explaining to everyone that they would receive an appeal from me but not to feel it was either something they had to do, nor was whatever they decided, going to change our relationship.
Aunt Peppy and the cuz's--Table 14
Anyway, one friend was outraged that I even asked them to support something that was neither an issue or a disease. The final sentence was something like “you are the only friend we have ever had that asked us to support something that was not a charity.” It was unexpected because I think supporting the arts is, if not a charity, at the very least, important. And a project that addresses critical issues about keeping a family connected is, although not a charity, at least worth considering. But that’s what I think. It never occurs to me that other people might be offended or even angry about what I think. And yes, I am sometimes nonstop, unrelentlessly determined, but most people who know me find it’s part of my charm (she said modestly.)
Bill gets the real story from Peppy
Which brings us to another thing I learned today. Not everyone is going to think everything I do, is worthwhile. Additionally, not everyone is going to approve of the methods I use, to do what I think is worthwhile. It’s a hard lesson to learn this late in my life because I thought I walked on water. But now that I know I don’t. I guess I’ll just have to face the fact that if there is no ice to walk on, I just might drown. And I have absolutely no idea what that means – so don’t ever ask me to explain. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Just A Life

We’re moving. We don’t know where, so maybe I should say, we’re packing. And as I go room to room and look at all the stuff we’ve collected over the years, I think – Geez, what a lot of crap. But along with that I think, there are so many memories. How do you throw away those items which brought you so much happiness and at times, so much pain. Then I think, but they are my memories. Jordan and Seth will have no idea what they should do with anything – except the pictures, and maybe the recipes. Matty Selman, the wonderfully talented, dare I say, genius, who is writing the music, lyrics and collaborating on the book, for “Gefilte Fish Chronicles: The Musical,” has written a song called “Just a Life”. A child, whose mother has died, is going through all her mother’s things. It is a daunting task. To her surprise, her mother appears and tells her that none of her possessions means anything –it was only a life, and the only thing the daughter should save are the treasured pictures and recipes and things that will keep the memory of all who have passed on, alive in their hearts.

Which made me think about the next generation of family. Who will remember and who will treasure (good or bad), the memory of previous generations? And I felt pretty good about it. Jonathan used to come and make matzoh brie with the great aunts on the morning after the Seder. He can take that with him and teach his children. Madison made the horse radish, and even if she doesn’t remember how, she will remember that she was covered with beet juice. Stephanie and her daughter Sydney have always been a part of the preparation for every family occasion – they know how to do it. My children and all the second, third, and fourth cousins know how valuable it is to treasure and pass on the photos and stories of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

We have quite an array of talented kids. We have Doctors, (eye and body) and, especially important, one is a psychiatrist. We have business owners and business experts, who make a real difference giving guidance to people who don’t have their expertise. We have actors, artists, chefs, real estate mavens, nurses, builders, writers, musicians , activists, and home makers, We have any number of lawyers, and Louis (named for his great grandfather) just passed the Bar. Mazel Tov! And God knows, we have an adequate supply of Indian Chiefs—that’s genetic. They are, for the most part, self starting, determined, adults, who are taking great care to make sure they pass on the important stuff to their kids. They are sensitive, feeling, adults who have always responded to whatever the previous generation asks of them. Whether it be “come to dinner” or “come and help.” One of the most touching examples of this is the support the younger (younger than me), cousins have been in the development of Gefilte Fish Chronicles: The Musical. Among some of the sweetest responses, one apologized for not being able to give enough, and one asked if they could help finance the production on a monthly basis. They understand how important it is to have a family legacy and they want, very much, to be a part of it.

When we were children my grandparents taught us the importance of being charitable. Not only with strangers and not only with money, but with time and with family, with pictures and no shortage of stories. The Dubroff clan (Minnie, Abe and all their children) have done a wonderful job in making clear that everyone has “ just a life”, and what’s important is to treasure each moment we live and each moment that has passed. We’re just sayin’.... Iris

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Let me tell you what I did for election day. No I didn’t watch the results until well after the last ballot was counted and the last smudge was erased. Word has it that the Republicans took over the house (Nancy will have to give up her big fat gas guzzling jet), and Harry Reid, (who made his acceptance speech with all the warmth that emanates whenever he makes a public appearance (this time on an stage unfettered by enthusiastic support), is going back to his leadership role in the Senate. So now you know what I didn’t do. Let’s see how I passed the time.

First thing this morning I went to the fitness club where I worked out on the elliptical and then lifted weights. Now that (as opposed to the election) deserves a big whew. Next I showered dressed and ate a cupcake, some Italian Wedding soup, and a peanut butter granola bar. It gets worse. While I did not eat any dinner, I did eat an entire dish of French fries from “The Edison CafĂ©”, which is in the old Edison Hotel –a place that remains old, but has hand cut French Fries and great soup. It was not my intention to go to the theater, but as I passed “the board”, in Times Square, “Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse” was available at half price. It was too much to resist.

We are big Pee Wee Herman fans but David was out of town and Jordan is in LA, so I went alone. It was cute, but not a show you should see alone. After the show, I walked home, cleaned up the apartment a bit, and ate three vanilla Oreo cookies –my favorite new sweet. It’s 3am and yes, I have looked at the election results. Russ Feingold lost. That was a shocker. He is a good Senator and, has been responsible for big cuts in government spending. His absence will not go unnoticed. And Rosa DeLauro was reelected, now that’s a whew!

Oh, and here’s a birthday shout out to Joe Cowart and Stevie Kaufman, in whose honor I turned on the radio and jumped on and off the couch. Perhaps I should say leapt from sofa to sofa –but given my age, that would be a slight exaggeration.

Every pundit is commenting on the election so my opinions are less than pithy. All I can say is, unfortunately, I don’t think it will make any difference. The Administration will not take any responsibility for the loss, and now there will be even more people who do not understand the rules or the bureaucracy trying to make change without understanding how to do get anything done.

That being said, I wanted to mention that the Capital of our great nation just can’t get it together to function like a big city -- with grown up coordinated decision-making ability. If you are unfamiliar with the greater DC area, it includes DC, and ‘close in’ Virginia and Maryland. The metro system is shared by these two states and one district. When there is a big event, that’s how they urge you to travel.

During the inaugural (President Obama’s), people were thrilled with the results of the election and it seemed, everyone in the world was credentialed to attend. Getting a ticket for something, and being able to actually get there are two different tasks. People got credentials through their Congressmen, who never want to say no to a constituent. Based on the number of people who tried to get to the Capital, very few elected officials refused to say no to anyone who lived in their state or Congressional District. The results, even when a large crowd anticipated, is total disaster, It happened during the inaugural and it happened again last weekend for the Stewart/Colbert rally. Not enough cars on each train, and not enough trains. When you encourage people not to drive, and to “take Metro,” there is an implicit understanding that there ought to be enough space on the cars for FOR THE PEOPLE TO STAND! Not a big, complicated, Einsteinian theoretical. Just make the trains 8 cars instead of 6, and send them every five minutes in stead of every ten. Then it might actually be able to deliver a couple of hundred thousand people to an even, whether Sanity is the theme, or not.
nary a place to stand!
So what’s the good news? The election is over. Those ads are over. Take the phrase “and I approved this message because the people of ----fill in your favorite location---- deserve better….” and file it away. We will not have to watch, think about or listen to any campaign blathering for two years. Whew! We’re just sayin’…. Iris