Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK + 50

Everyone who was alive and a functioning human being remembers where they were when President Kennedy was killed. It was one week past my 17th birthday, and I was hanging out at the student government office with many of my friends.   The Principal announced it over the sound system, and we were stunned, and in those days, confused.  Why would anyone shoot a President who was  so valuable to the nation’s happiness?

President Kennedy was young, and as far as we knew vital. We all wanted to graduate and spend time in the Peace Corps, or at least find a way to give back to the nation. Remember, we were the generation, who after the assassination, wanted to dedicate our lives to the cause of human rights and to the end of a war we all felt was  an injustice.

But back to November 22.  It was already a week past my birthday. So when everyone yelled “surprise,” in the basement of my house, I was truly surprised.  And now when I think about it, my friends opted not to cancel the surprise party. And because we were 17, and without a sense of how really devastating the assassination was, we partied like we always did, without any sense of anything outside the periphery of our everyday lives.

Now, fifty years later when everyone is writing about where they were on the terrible day, it occurs to me that it is not important where we were. Because what is really important is that we lost not only the leader of the nation, but we lost the spirit of what this country could be if governed by someone who understood the potential of what this nation could have been.

There was no President who ever had the kind of favorable ratings that President Kennedy had. We were all convinced that he would not only guide us, but he would protect us against outside sources who want to destroy us.  I remember that after the Cuban missile crisis we all covered our heads when we went outside. But there was never a time when we said, “this President is an idiot, what is he doing challenging the Russians.” Never. We thought if  he was going to challenge the Russians, it was the right thing to do. And we would all follow his lead.

His lead… He was an inspirational leader and a man with a quick wit and a determination that we have not seen since.  So yes, when I was seventeen, I was saddened by his death and the funeral and the devastation of the family.

But his death was the end of a dream we all had about the great nation we could be.   After his death we were on our own to do what we thought was right, without much guidance,. But to do it with great hope and determination, and to make a better future for all of us and the families we were yet to have.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's a Girl

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In years gone by, like when I was born, fathers did not participate in the birthing process. Dads either went to a bar and got drunk,  they went home to await the birth news, or they waited at the hospital and paced.  Mothers did not have a natural childbirth, unless they were poor or surprised.  The pregnant woman went to the hospital and the doctor administered some heavy drugs. The only thing the mother knew was that she went into the hospital, (with or without husband), went to sleep, and voilĂ„, a baby.  In my case, it was a baby girl.

My birth was not without controversy. My grandmother wanted the baby to be a boy.  Apparently, she went on and on about it .  My dad didn’t really care, and rumor has it, he wanted a girl. My mom was so out of it, she didn’t even know she had a baby, but being one of seven girls, there was no surprise about what it was like to deal with a female. 

When I was born, everyone said I looked just like my dad, who had a mustache at the time. So the doctor, being of good humor, drew a mustache above my lip, and the result was astounding. I did look just like my dad.  My grandmother (his mother) was still disappointed, but at least I looked like him. My other grandparents, (my mother’s parents), were delighted by my arrival. And they, having had seven girls and one boy, assured my parents that my birth was a gift, and perhaps, one day they would be blessed with a boy.

What’s really interesting is that in my professional life, I have mostly had jobs that were traditionally jobs given to men. So you could say that I was compensating for the way my grandma felt by trying to prove that I was good enough, but that’s not the case.  The simple fact is that my dad always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. He said that I could do whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard and stayed on course. Thing is, that when I was in middle school I wanted to take shop (fixing cars and making wood things)  instead of home economics (cooking and sewing)  and they wouldn’t allow it.  It was my first run in with the injustice of gender inequity.  I was not going to settle for being denied a something I wanted, just because I was a girl….and that’s the story of my life.

It’s a few years past where I expected I would be professionally. But I’ve had an eclectic professional history with the only consistency being that every four years I have worked in Presidential politics, and the years in between, I have worked in great places in media, academia, government, and who knows what else,  but politics was my true love.

This is not a political blob, but after the first Obama victory, I left Washington, government and politics and started to produce musical theater.  It sounds like an unlikely transition. It is not.  There are so many kids in politics that I no longer belong. But mostly, this administration, about which we were so hopeful, does not make any personal sense. An administration, much like a human being, must transition from speculation (the campaign) to real life (governance), and this administration didn’t. But this woman did.  I am surrounded by family and friends. Tomorrow is my birthday and I would not change a thing. I have a wonderful family, a wonderful home, a wonderful career, and a life filled with positive expectation. No regrets, only hopes. What a lucky birthday girl am I.  We’re just sayin’.. Iris

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Upon the Ocean Blue

It is hard to imagine what some people find attractive about a dog or any pet. Yesterday we took Tyrone to the vet. He had tushy issues. When we walked in there were at least 10 dogs waiting for emergency service, each one less attractive than the next, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.  When you have the cutest dog ever, you can afford to be a little judgmental. But don't take my word for it. Every staff member fought over who would take care of our cuddly little schmendrick. That is not to say that he's a perfect pet. On the contrary.  Sometimes he is as loveable as is possible, and then, in less than five minutes, he becomes a combination vampire-turned-terror.  He nips, (we are told he will grow out of this), and he disregards any command we give him. 
Since he is being trained by a friend who trained police dogs, we try to use a manly man voice, but to no avail. He looks right at us, and does exactly what he wants to do.  We have learned that we must never let him off a leash when he goes outside because he has places he wants to visit.  At least he is house broken, or we are not sure which is truer.
The Cruise was so much fun.  We did only a little touring, but what we did was meaningful and usually included shopping.  We got up in the morning and had a leisurely breakfast.  Then we walked around whatever port where we happened to be.  While in port we looked for a place to eat lunch and find free wi-fi.  This was not as easy as we thought it would be.  Even when we had a password there were places that just had the sign up (“Free Wi Fi”) and no actual wi-fi.  After lunch we walked around a bit, but not for very long because it was time to relax.  We would return to the ship to lay out on a lounge and read. Thank G-d there were staff people who made sure we were comfortable and required no drinks or eats.  I would go to the gym around four and if David was guest lecturing we would go to his performance. Next it was time for drinks and music in the panorama room.  This was followed by dinner and occasionally a show. Whew. A week of doing nothing. The biggest decision we made was where and what to eat for dinner that was exhausting. 
coffee on the veranda, Capri in the distance

a line of 25 Ferraris at a rally in Sorrento @ the Excelsior Hotel

a 600 year old mural over your morning coffee? not a bad idea
                                            Iris and Kerry dining at Gino's in Rome
the elevator with the mirror that went to infinity...

The problem with an extraordinary vacation that requires a time change, is the jet lag, as well as getting over the fun.  But we are safe home, and glad to be here.
This has been a busy month for your friends at Were Just Sayin
It began with three weddings in 10 days.  Two of those weddings were Gay marriages. The couples were married legally by a judge but for the celebration, friends performed the ceremony.  Jordan performed one of them. All the weddings were beautiful. And the wonder of them as that they were exactly what the bride and groom and groom wanted.
So I read, with horror, the NYTimes article about gay marriages. What was really horrifying was the fact that Rabbis will perform same sex weddings but they are reluctant to perform mixed religion ceremonies. So, having waited for years and years to have a religious wedding, if you are a mixed faith couple, you are simply sh*t out of luck.  It may be me, but I think there is something wrong with that picture. Sometimes religious rules are simply stupid.  We’re just sayin’…Iris