Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coming Home: Again

Don’t you think it’s amazing that Rick Perry has nothing better to do than call the Texas legislature back so he could still abolish abortion. OK, maybe amazing isn’t the right word. Maybe idiocy works better.  Or maybe, the question is better asked by saying, don’t you think that horse’s ass, the Governor of Texas….  It is unbelievable that,  after the Senators heroic filibuster to prevent the passage of that legislation, anyone but a moron, would still forge ahead.  Who says there is no war on women?  Whether it is managed by the government, by the military, or by a general population of the men who actually don’t know better, there is an ongoing war against women.  But that’s not what I wanted to blob about.

David was invited to be the narrator of a terrifying Photography in War, exhibit at the Corcoran Museum.  It is not to be missed if you are in the area. And it should be a must for every member of Congress, because it does not whitewash the consequences of war.
But that’s not what I wanted to blob about either.  Anyway, as long as David was going, I decided to see my dentist. (As I was due for a check-up).  People think I’m nuts to still have a dentist in DC.  But Brad has been my dentist for over 30 years and he has promised me he won’t  retire until after I’m dead.  (This is part of the, “can you go home again,” blob, but only a part, because it’s not easy to find a good dentist, and I consider his office, part of my home away from home – in terms of overall health care.) 

It is always my intention to spend as much time as I can visiting with friends.  People who live in DC, always ask if I miss it.  No, I don’t miss Washington and all that means, but I sure miss my friends.  We managed to see Jane for dinner, the ageless Sara Ehrman for a drink, Mary, Jim and Dennis, at the Corcoran, and today I met with Marthena, Rick, and Ann at the State Department.  Which led to a conversation about “taking” a meeting.  I couldn’t remember if you “take” a meeting in the government, the theater, or  television/movies.  (Any help answering this question would be greatly appreciated.) Then, as I was walking back to the hotel, I stopped at the bank and saw Katherine, who lost her husband recently and we hadn’t been in proper touch.

With hope that I would see other friends, I texted, emailed, and called everyone who I thought might be available.  (Oh, one of the special things that happened, was that we rediscovered the old “Match Game” with the ever amusing Gene Rayburn on the Game Show network. That was a big part of going home for us, because when we lived in Va. we watched it everyday at about 3am.)
Moving on…   Is it possible to go home again?  If you work hard to keep your friendships with people you leave behind, alive and contemporary. Yes it is.   Because I think friendships, make a place a home. 

We live in a world where you easily keep in touch through many different kinds of communication. And does all the available technology keep your friendships ongoing?  No. While it simplifies the ability to communicate, you actually need for whatever friends you want to keep in your life, to understand that you want them in your life.  The communication can be surface or superficial, or it can be meaningful and add to your life.  There is no right or wrong, but if your relationship is deep and rewarding, then you won’t need to go home.  You are already there.  We're just sayin'... Iris

Monday, June 17, 2013

Trending: No, Really

It was Father’s day this past Sunday.  It was Mother’s day last month.  Every so often there is a birthday, anniversary, death, engagement, marriage, or a variety of holidays that we used to acknowledge with a card.  Now much of the greetings we send are on line. Anyway, cards are expensive, but I do prefer any kind of card being sent, to an e-mail. But that’s not what I wanted to blob about.
This year I decided to give David his Father Day cards.  Not just this year, I always give him his cards in person, because I see him with great frequency and why waste the 45 cents on a stamp.  As has become our tradition or habit, we send funny, rather than mushy cards, and we always write a little something special.  Two years ago I found a card that was so funny I laughed all day. Last year, I chose the same card.  It made me laugh all day again.  But when I gave it to David he said it was just as hilarious when he read it this time as when he read it the year before.

After that experience I made a decision never to sign a card I bought for David.  This new approach to holiday celebration is much like the practice of re-gifting, but with one major difference.  We don’t try to hide the fact that we have used the card before.  In fact, not only is it practical for couples who want to save money, but if you are off to a party or a dinner and you find yourself without exactly the right  card, chances are you will have at least one carefully chosen very funny card available, because you gave it to your beloved, but you didn’t sign it. 

You are probably thinking, a card that you give your husband, wife etc.? It may not be appropriate for someone who is not as close to you.  But funny is funny for whomever gets it.  So, this is what we are going to do .  We will buy a special card, appropriate to the occasion.   We will not sign it.  We will say little loving things to one another in person. Then we will put it away for use next year or for an emergency.

None of this is what I wanted to blob about.  But if enough people do it, it will become a new trend.  What does it take to become a new trend? I was curious to find out exactly how to use the word trending?  First of all, what used to be a verb  (there is a new trend to re-gift cards),  has become an noun,  (What are the hottest topics in trending).  I get the hottest topics.  We used to say, what are the hottest topics in the news?  But now you have to fight your way through a plethora of social media, (twitter, hashtags), before you can figure out something as simple as, what’s going o   Sometimes I just feel like people who try to make a living by inventing, yet another way, to be trendy i.e. confusing.  Whether skirts are long or short is a trend. Eating cicadas dipped in chocolate every seventeen years, is a trend - or just stupid.  My mom always said, always set the trend, never let anyone else determine what’s in or out.  And with that my friends, go get yourself a card and don’t sign it. It’s the latest trend.  We’re just sayin’…   Iris

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

On Valentines Day, from the time I was about five, my dad always brought me a mini box of candy in a heart shaped box, which was decorated with lace and ribbons. He was working in New York at the time. So he would travel by bus, or maybe car and I would sit in my room just waiting for him to walk through the door.  At first he would pretend that he had forgotten it was Valentines Day. Then he would hide it behind his back and do a little dance.  But eventually, he would reveal what I thought, was the most gorgeous gift anyone could possibly receive.  

In the summer my grandparents rented a small bungalow on Long Beach, in NY. My mother and I would stay there all week, and my dad would come on weekends.  It was ok during the week because my grandfather was a pro at spoiling his "little jewels."  On the weekends, when my dad was there, it was like camp. We would dig all the way to China for crabs, ( that how deep the holes were), swim, and have races along the shore.  Just me and Milty, unless a cousin or two appeared with their mothers  for some R and R. My brother was not yet part of the picture, and my father was still walking, running, dancing, and vital.

When I was six, when my brother Jeff was born, I was ripped away from my twin cousin Stevie, (we had lived together in the same house from the time we were born). And my dad was diagnosed with MS.  My brother doesn't remember Milty walking without assistance. But Stevie and I watched him go from one cane to two canes, to a walker, to a wheelchair. No one ever thought of him as sick. He just couldn't walk.  But he never lost his spirit, or his sense of humor.

My parents spent a great deal of time traveling and looking for a cure. And lucky for us, we had enough other mothers to make it easier to be without them. We did not have other fathers. There was only one to fill the void, Uncle Phil.  On weekends he would take us horseback riding, to museums (he was a talented artist), out for lunch, to the movies, and anywhere we wanted to go. We missed the active dad we loved, but because we had Uncle Phil, we were never lonely. 

On fathers day, especially since they are both gone, I miss them, to the moon and back. I think about all the good times, and I think about the painful episodes, like when I was in college protesting the war and I called Uncle Phil an idiot because he thought the war was honorable.  Or when I said vile things to my mother and, because my father couldn't really move, I had to stand in front of him so he could spank me.  

Milty and Phil. They loved us despite the fact that we were always making mischief, and we knew were connected by a friendship so deep that it couldn't be explained with words. Being a parent is always complicated. Milty and Phil made it look easy at a time that was very difficult. And I miss having them both in my life. I am comforted by the fact that they are together, eating hard salami, drinking some good Scotch, Milty smoking his pipe,  and both of them thinking, “those are our kids -- where did we go wrong?”   We’re just Sayin’.. Iris

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movin' On

It occurred to me yesterday when I was driving somewhere and back, our entire lives are spent moving on.  For example, when we were kids, our mother prepared our breakfast, usually not lunch – unless you were my mother who left those wondrous tasks to Helen Costello, her housekeeper and our, for lack of a better description, our savior. 

Breakfast was usually some kind of hot cereal, which she cooked and cooked and cooked.  Here’s the good news, hot cereal doesn’t dry out (you have to keep adding water), it gets better. (Editor’s note: it was Fantastic!) But most of us moved on. Moved on from those days with morning time before school. There’s never enough time.  If we have cereal, it’s usually cold or instant.  No one would sit and wait for my mother’s hot cereal—it took forever.  Well worth the wait, but no we’re always in a hurry.

When we were in high school, we studied things that today would seem totally irrelevant.  But our social lives were worth remembering.  There was so much drama, and so much fun. The music, the heartbreaks, the dances, (where Howie Hubler and Kenny Kida were the only boys who danced), the elections and the selections . All worth noting, but we moved on.   There’s no time or interest in high school adventures, for most people.

Yesterday, (this has nothing to do with anything—or maybe it does), I went to Costco to pick up a few things among which were new dimmable LED lights.  When David saw them he said, “well they should last for a few years,” and I said, “On the package it says 22 years,” And he said, “But how will we know.” It’s something to think about.  But moving on…

Sometimes we move on from a mode of transportation, sometimes it’s a food, often, it’s a place where we lived or a place we enjoyed dining.  Life changes and it’s necessary to move on.

People have jobs that we thought might be forever, (not me, I have never had an actual go to work from 8-6,  get a paycheck and have weekends free kind of jot that lasted for more than 4 years). But a lot of people have jobs that they thought would be forever, and then the economy changed, tastes changed, technology changed, they got old or bored, and they moved on.  Do they keep in touch with people they left behind?  I really don’t know the answer to that question unless a number of people they knew went with them. David never moves on when to comes to people.  Even my people.  A few years ago he called my third grade boyfriend who lives in Denmark.  But he still calls friends he had in grade school who he hasn’t heard from in 50 years. I try never to disconnect from people who I loved, even in grade school. But here’s the problem with me.  There are so many dear people that are still in my life, it is really crowded.  So I have to move on from people who are not nice, or that I don’t care about.  There was a time when I wouldn’t move on because there was a history. Rule of thumb, if you can only talk about the past and have nothing in common for the future,  you must move on.

In fact, the only thing that you can never move on from are the people who are precious to us. It doesn’t matter if they are alive or dead.  They are always a permanent part of your life.   We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Friday, June 07, 2013

Top Secret, Part Sank

Having heard about ad-nausea (I know it’s not a word, it’s a condition) in the past few days, Top Secret may not be what we all think it is.  Yes, once again I have a story – but they are always so entertaining.

In 1977 I was working in the Carter Administration, as the Director of the International Visitor Office.  It happened that with my job came Top Security clearance. It was probably because we were bringing in persons of questionable character – like military murderers, but anyway, they gave the Office Top Security Clearance.

One day, as I was sitting around trying to figure out how to rid the Office of Military Murderers, (which I eventually did), some security person placed a Top Secret Communication on my desk.  To tell you the truth, when I saw it, I didn’t know what to do. The first thing that come to my mind was, “how do they know they can trust me with National Security secrets?”  I am a person who, when I have information that no one else has, I not only want to share it, I want to rub everyone’s nose in it.

Anyway, since I didn’t know, I put the papers in my underwear, and took the bus to Main State (aka “The State Department on C Street)  to find my Deputy, Pauline. (My office was in a building in Rosslyn across the river, and Pauline was a Civil Servant who I knew would have an answer to this security quandary.).  I called her out of an important meeting, (if anything can really be considered important at State), and explained the predicament.  “Don’t you think we should open it before we make a decision?” she suggested. And so that is exactly what we did.  Not only was  it not a Secret Document, it wasn’t even for me.  So yes, I put it back in my underpants, took it back across the river, and called the Bozos who mistakenly delivered the wrong document to the wrong person.

For the last week we have learned of Top Secret leaks about the Government spying on the public through their phones and internet.  The scariest part of this is not that they have access to who I may speak to and what I may write (I hope they are as entertained as the blob readership) but that they have no idea what they are doing. When someone has no idea what they are doing, the likelihood of screwing up,  is far greater than when they do.
Reread your e-mails and review your phone calls.  Is it not possible that something you wrote or said might be misconstrued by people who have no idea about your sense of humor, your intentions, or -- you should excuse the implications -- your politics.

Here’s what ticks me off.  The President is perfectly OK with this.  This Democratic President doesn’t think this is a big deal. Surely he must be kidding, or so clueless that he doesn’t get what the consequences of this policy can be, After perusing millions of e-mails and phone calls, they found one potential terrorist who was such a dope that before blowing up the subway he sent a message to another terrorist to ask for the instructions, which he had forgotten. This is not a bad thing. Although I am much more frightened about the young U.S. citizens  who want to shoot children, students, and just plain folks on the streets of whatever small town or city, for no apparent reason. Here’s what I want to leave you with.  My underwear was the only thing in jeopardy when I got my Top Security letter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is other underwear that will suffer from the same stupidity. We’re just sayin’….Iris

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Yesterday I was walking on Third Ave and happened upon a protest of some sort.  There were about 30 people with hand painted signs gathered on a corner.  They were in front of a restaurant, and they were shouting, but it didn’t appear to be an organized protest. And when I finally saw the sign, it said something about being “yuckey.” Maybe it was a protest because the place they appeared to be picketing was dirty, in violation of some sanitary codes, or maybe it was an eatery that received a low rating. On the next block, I saw a police officer, so I asked him what was so “yuckey” that 40 people showed up.   He looked at me like I was nuts (which should come as no surprise to anyone).  “What are you talking about?” he said. 

“Those people”, I said, “With the signs.”

He looked and started to laugh.  “Not Yuckey,” he said, “They are protesting about the violence in Turkey.”   See what can happen when your eyes don’t work anymore…..

Anyway, I have an Addendum to my blob about friends and reunions.  I don’t believe there are any bad friends.  It’s kind of an oxymoron… with the emphasis on the moron.  If you look at a definition of friend, you will see a whole list of things, like ally, pal, chum etc.  If there is someone on your list of friends who you would define as a bad friend, then they shouldn’t be on your list. Remove them, never speak to them, write them a goodbye letter, whatever, life is too short to waste on someone who simply isn’t going to be there for you.

Moving on.  There are a few things that either confuse me or piss me off, even if I am medicated.  On the top of the list is violence against women.  And I don’t mean just in the U.S., the U.S. military, or in the rest of the world – whether it be India, the Middle East, the north, south, east or west, or anywhere in between. I seriously don’t get it. Why do men, (as it turns out, all kinds), feel like they have the right to intimidate, beat, rape, or otherwise behave in a physically or emotionally threatening way toward women, or girls.  It makes me want to provide women and every little girl, who is born anywhere in the world, with weapons and instructions on how to use them to defend themselves.  And, as a peace loving Liberal Democrat, I mean that in the nicest possible way.  And of course the panels of mostly white military males, cannot make decisions about sexual impropriety in the military – because they have no idea what that means. In the words of the female Senator from New York, “they don’t know the difference between a slap on the ass and a rape.” 

If you have ever tried to drive in New York City you will notice that the streets are a mess.  It’s like a third world country.  The Mayor, who is so worried about how much sweets people drink, and the placement of cigarettes in stores, has done nothing to improve the condition of the roads, the sidewalks or the noise and disruption from the endless construction.  Rental bicycles in the city – a plan. But no concern about the space they take up, and the inconvenience to the people who actually reside in the city and pay taxes.  Bike lanes close to the curbs, with cars parked in the middle of the streets. Understand this, I am not anti-bike.  I love bikes,  However, when people think that they can fluctuate between being a bike and a car, it can only end badly. My favorite thing a biker does is either pay no attention to the lights (because they are a bike), or when the light turns red, they stop and pull up in front of the first car,  and force the car to follow behind them.

So, that’s what pisses me off today, you can be sure there’s more to come in the very near future – and that’s not yuckey.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Monday, June 03, 2013

...That Brilliant Display....

Upon reflection. 

A few years ago I disappointed a friend about something, like forgetting   about her wedding.  OK, it wasn’t nice. And truthfully, it just happened.... no drugs or alcohol were involved. There were so many weddings that summer/fall, it just slipped my mind. 

After the wedding she composed a letter to me which started,   “Thank you for your brilliant display of friendship....”   It was almost a half century ago and I still remember it.  It took her ten years and many miles to forgive me, but eventually she did.   Maybe. 

This weekend was my 45th college reunion. If you are asked how old I am, please decline to answer. It’s not that my age is embarrassing, it is unbelievable.  How did it happen, and so fast?  My grandfather used to tell us, in broken English, that life is like a train:  for the first half of your life you are on the Local, and then somehow, you change to the Express.  Lately, it is impossible to remember what month, day, or year it is. It is equally impossible to remember what is suppose to happen every day. They all meld together like a colorful abstract painting.

This is not meant to be a whiny blob, because my life is full, adventurous, sometimes exciting, but usually fun.  It helps to be surrounded and supported by people I love, and I am grateful for that. But that’s not what I wanted to blob about.  What I wanted to blob about was friendship, new and old.

I’m not going to talk about new friends in this blob, but I’ll get there sometime.

There are  people who you have known for 50 years.  If you see them once a year, it’s enough.  That is not a bad thing. You love to know they are fine, doing well, their kids are thriving, and enjoying whatever life they chose to live.  So many of my college friends studied one thing in school but their lives took a turn and they are doing something entirely different.  It’s interesting to find out how that happened and nice to catch up, learn about their families and even the difficulties. Although at reunions, you mostly brag about the good and skip right over the bad.  It is surface conversation. And it’s lovely.

Then there are people who you may not even speak to once a year.  But when you run into them, it’s like you saw them yesterday.  You still have stuff to talk about, and it often revolves around more important subjects, like who they love and who they lost, and had any of their dreams come true. You hang on to those relationships because you know that if you need to, you can turn to them (or they to you) in a crisis and it won’t feel like an intrusion. You knew one another as children and there is a special bond. 

Lastly, there are the people, who no matter how much time you spend apart or how infrequently you are in touch, they are a solid part of your life.  You watched them grow into the people they are. You know their families, their pain, their joy.  It would never occur to you to do something important in your life and not include them. When you are together you pick up any conversation, from where you left off, but over the years the conversation has grown and developed and become much more intimate.  You might start by talking about things that happened in the past, but you move right into the present and the future.  It’s never boring, and surprisingly, no matter how long you’ve known them, it’s never the same.

The wonder of reunions is that you remember how precious and probably tenuous these connections can be. And you know that no matter the kind of friend they have become, you never ever want anyone of them to start a letter or email to you with, “Thank you for your brilliant display of friendship...”    We’re just sayin’…. Iris