Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twists and Turns

Twists and Turns

The new television season is well into its second week and I’m not in love with anything new. Although, I have watched “The Event” twice, while intriguing, I haven’t a clue as to what it is about. That’s not a bad thing. SciFi is one of my favorite genres. It’s kind of like when I saw the latest “Star Trek” movie. If you asked me to tell you what it was about, or more specifically, give you a synopsis, I couldn’t do it. The only thing I knew was that I loved it. It doesn’t have to make sense. There were a great many people who felt the same way.

The thing is, I don’t want to start to love a series that is going to be cancelled. So, I like to give it at least a few weeks to see what happens. For example, “Lone Star” has pretty much ‘bit the dust’, “burned itself out” and ‘taken a hit’. It was tempting to tune in –there were some adorable guys playing ‘rough and tumble’ parts. “Law and Order,” to which I am clearly addicted, will survive in LA, but it doesn’t me. How much of a good thing can anyone stand? And NCIS is now broadcast as the same time as “Glee,” thank God I can record them. But that presents another problem. What happens when the recording device is full? As soon as I see 77% full, I get nervous and start to delete. But I want to watch everything I record so first I have to view the programs. Which means, I am up all night trying not to miss a thing.

The top shows for the week of September 20th, were Sunday and Monday Night Football. (Who watches them?) Then “Glee”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Modern Family”, followed by “Dancing With the Stars,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Family Guy” and “The Office” .I watch all of two of these and half of another. My favorite shows, “NCIS,” “Cold Case,” and “Bones” rank after 15 on the list of popular shows. They better not disappear!

If you ask most people how much TV they watch, they will say “not much” and they actually believe that. When I think about how much TV I watch, I never consider the things I tape of the programs that just happen to be on in the background.

All that being said, I did happen to catch the new “Hawaii Five-0”. Perhaps I thought I would watch it and not like it. That it would disappoint my expectations, because I loved the old one. It was really fun. If shooting, killing, bombing and blood can be fun. When Jordan and I use to watch Law and Order SVU, we would look at one another and say, “can you believe we watch this, and we like it?” But H50 was filled with action, beautiful people, an enemy you knew they would defeat, and a happy ending. For me, everything is OK as long as there’s a happy ending. It’s funny because I can’t watch shows which are horror or too suspenseful. Twist and turns, make me anxious. And when I want mindless, I don’t want any tension.

Anyway, It is my hope that the shows I like will keep getting renewed. I could care less about the shows I don’t watch, duh, even if they keep gaining popularity with the public. Oh and all you have to know is that “Jersey Shore” is in the top Five for ages 12-34. Gee, I’m glad I’m not young. We’re just sayin’….Iris

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sophie's Choice

A few days ago I heard a story that made me think (not something that happens with great frequency) about my kids. But in a very different way.

We take for granted that they will always be part of our lives. That there is nothing that could possibly shatter the blood connection that exists. But of course that’s fantasy. Kids grow up and move away, start lives of their own, and sometimes you even have a disagreement. But this story was not about those kinds of life circumstances. I’ll try to retell it in the best way I can.

During the pogroms in Eastern Europe (Russia/Poland or any country where there was flagrant, acceptable, Anti-Semitism) the Czar’s soldiers rode into a small village and rounded up 50 children and put them in the village synagogue. There were about 100 young people in this town, so half of them became prisoners. Of course there was chaos. And the Rabbi, being the wisest and most respected member of the community, tried to be as comforting and calming as he could be.

The soldier in charge, seeing that the Rabbi was the leader, decided that the Rabbi was the best person to talk to. The soldier approached the Rabbi and calmly informed him that they were going to burn down the temple -- with 50 children inside. However, they did not have to be the children already held captive. A Jew was a Jew and it didn’t matter to the soldier which 50 children died.

The Rabbi gathered everyone together and presented them with the horrific news. Fifty young Jews were going to die in the holy place, but it didn’t matter which 50 – so the whole village needed to choose which children should live and which should die.

At this point in the story, I was really angry. “Why did they let this happen? Why didn’t they fight the soldiers? They were about to lose their most precious possessions, what did they have to lose. I also insisted that if my kids were inside, they needed to be traded for a luckier two, still free. In my mind, a Jew was not a Jew, and I would absolutely try to free them all, or die trying. Yes, no question, I would have been shot.

When the time came to make a decision, the Rabbi approached the soldier and told him there would be no trades. One Jew was not the same as any other Jew, but only God could decide which children were worth saving, which he felt most valuable. The community had decided that they would not to choose one life over the others . Each life was equally sacred.

This story does not have a happy ending. The soldiers burned the temple to the ground --with 50 children inside. Amongst these children were the Rabbi’s two youngest. Then they rode off satisfied that they had met some kind of a quota. The community never recovered from such a severe loss, They buried the dead in this sanctified ground, prayed for their souls and rebuilt the temple in another spot.

Anyway, while it’s true that all life is of value, and the community – having not made any life/death decisions, remained supportive of their decision and one another. But I could not imagine being able to deal with a loss of that magnitude. I can’t imagine a life without my children. I know how hard it is to lose a friend or a parent. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a child.

Kalhil Gibran (we all read him when we were 16), said Your children are not your children, they just pass through you on their way to their own lives. I guess he thought the female body was some kind of delivery system. Not a surprise.

Whatever else this story tells us about community and strength, value and love, I say grab your kids and run like the wind. We’re just sayin’…. Iris


This is the time of year Jews are supposed to reflect on their lives, repent for their sins and pray to get written into the book of life for next year. It is hard to explain, but the spirit and consequences of this holiday have reached almost mythical proportions in my psyche.

Take, for example, the story of my reunion with my life long friend Tina. For whatever reason, and I truly don’t remember why, after being inseparable (not geographically but emotionally) for the first 25 years of our live, we had a fight, and stopped speaking. She was in Wisconsin and I was in Washington, and we just didn’t speak for about eight years.

The passage of time did not make things better. It just amplified the distance we maintained from one another. Year after year my thoughts were with or about her. Her children were like my kids and I wanted her to know my daughter and son. I adored her husband and her friends. Yet, for whatever reason, it seemed too difficult just to pick up the phone and reconnect. Until the Yom Kippur eight years after the foolish separation.

That was the year the Rabbi’s sermon was a story about how he had a very close childhood friend who, after three years of college, was too troubled to return for his final semester. The Rabbi came home for a long vacations and, despite his mother’s encouragement, he never called his pal. As with most young people, he felt there was no hurry and there would always be another time. Over the years there were many opportunities to call or visit the friend because he was still living at home -- just a block away from the Rabbi. But he thought there was no rush. Maybe it was because his mother pestered him, maybe because he was embarrassed about his neglect or maybe, after all those years, he felt he had nothing to say. Anyway, one Yom Kippur while he was in Rabbinical school, he remembered how important their friendship had been to him and he thought it was time to play catch up.

When the Rabbi called home for his friend’s number his mother was almost silent. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “Bill died two weeks ago. He never seemed able to cope with life, and he’s gone. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think you would care.”

In closing the sermon the Rabbi shared his sadness and how he knew that had he been in touch with Bill, maybe there was something he might have done. At the very least, Bill would have known he had one friend who cared. The Rabbi then suggested that if we had been separated from a dear friend, no matter the reason, don’t wait for an opportune time. Just pick up the phone before it was too late.

I didn’t call Tina right away. I thought it would be uncomfortable for both of us. OK, I was stupid. But I did send a funny card about missing her. She responded, not as soon as she received the card, but soon after.

We never mentioned the argument. Truth be told, neither of us remember what it was about. But she did say they were on their way to New Orleans and if we could, we should join them. Which we did. Tina and Jordan bonded, (which I knew was important) and we ate a great many oysters. In addition to my missing T, I couldn’t imagine not having Jordan know this woman who so shaped who I was. But that’s another story. Let me just recommend that if you have a Tina in your life, do not waste another moment being apart. We have always been there for one another, and now we are again. Have a Blessed and beautiful New Year. We’re Just Sayin’… Iris

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Emis, 5771

(and yes.. Emis means 'truth'....)

In this the year 5771 (I think), the decision I have made is to find some truth somewhere. You might think this is easy. Surely there is truth in nature. And there is truth in our love of family – but that’s a bit esoteric. I’m kind of looking for people, who we trust to make decisions about our lives, and find some truth in what they say. But that’s not always easy because no matter how frustrated you feel about finding a message, sometimes you not only can’t discern if they are telling the/a truth, because you can’t understand a damn thing they say.

Take for example the Tea Party jargon. It begins with a simple premise; as a candidate or a member of the party you want to “ rid the country of the politics of destruction.” That’s what O’Connoll, the Tea Party nominee for Joe Biden’s Senate seat said at her primary victory speech. Which would be fine, if only we knew what the “Politics of Personal Destruction” means. And I think that is exactly the point. People are so frustrated about what appears to be the lack of leadership (not only in the White House – which simply needs to kick some Republican tuchas) but everyone from small town councils to the Congress—both houses.

We want too much to believe that someone else can make a difference for us, that we will listen to whatever they say, make it what we want it to be, and then have disappointed expectations when it simply doesn’t happen.

If you listen to what the newly created Tea Party is saying, you will find that it is no different from what most of the Republican Party is saying, but they are doing it without the endorsement of Sarah Palin. You would think the woman would be greatful to the Party for having dressed her up, taken her out of obscurity, having made her a national figure. But alas, when you have an ego the size of the State you once governed, you never think anyone did anything for you. Further, you want to be a big fish, no matter the size of the pond – like the Tea Party. And you certainly don’t want anyone to understand any message, because that would limit the kind of colorful rhetoric you use to get attention. There’s no truth in the rhetoric because there is no message –just clever phrases that will always elicit some response from the audience.

For me, the creation of a Tea Party, or any organization that defines itself by what they are not –Democratic or Republican – might win political races but never succeed. One lesson I learned working in two Presidential Administrations (other than duck and cover), is that unless you know how to work the bureaucracy, nothing can change -- because you have to be inside to actually understand how to get things done. You might call that the politics of personal destruction, I call it common sense.

Any person who wants to be a leader, or make a difference, cannot pick and choose from a menu of options. The Government is not a Chinese restaurant, one from column A and one from B. For example, you cannot want Government out of your life but then accept Medicare or a social security check.

In my never ending quest to figure out if candidates are saying anything truthful or even remotely sensible, I continue to get back to a place where I think we all need to take some responsibility for ourselves, which we do by voting. We also need not only to do some discriminating listening, we have to ask how something is going to get done – just how will the job be accomplished? The government can’t do everything for everybody –unless we stop policing the world. But we wouldn’t want that anyway. What we need is a definition of the words used by the people who want to run the government, so that we can understand where we are going and how they want us to get there. And that is Emis. We're just sayin'....Iris

T'ain't What It Was

Some of you might think this blob is a promotion for an airline, which it could be –but it is not. It is, however a story about travel. Today was college football season, and we watched Michigan wipe the field with the Huskies of Connecticut. The game, took me back a fe years to a game I attended at Penn State when I was in High School. (I was watching the game with Tracy, whose children all went or are going to Penn State,

It was September and a guy who I worked with during the summer invited me to spend the weekend in State College Pa. My parent, though reluctant to let me do that (I was still in high school), agreed that trust was trust, and if they trusted me it didn’t matter whether I was in Boonton or “Hondrikavah.” (It doesn’t matter how you pronounce it, it isn’t an actual location but merely a place created by my aunts, to make a point about a something being in the middle of nowhere).

The train took eight hours. When I arrived, Jay my friend, drove us to his apartment. It Hadn’t occurred tome that I would be staying alone with him – not in the girls dorm. He thought I was eighteen. This was not the case. (Are you getting the point). Never one to be found out, I did not tell him how old I really was. The lie continued, but I did confess that I was a virgin, terribly innocent, and intended to stay that way. He was annoyed but did understand.

He slept on the couch –or maybe I id. Who can remember? It was so long ago, I almost fell off the dinosauer on the way to the game. Penn State was playing West Point. Did I mention that when I was in high school we would go to West Point for dances and special events. (There were no women at the Point and so they imported us. My friend Joyce Mitcko – who was one year my senior had once gone out with the cousin of a Cadet and somehow she got on the special invitation list.) Anyway, having survived my first night alone in a boy’s apartment, and not paying much attention to anything but that, we arrived at the stadium. (Did I mention that I dated quite a few Cadets). In fact, it wasn’t until the third or forth Cadet, that we walked passed yelled “Hey Iris, are you here with the enemy?” that I realized Jay was not happy about what he perceived, as “a story” fabricated about my sexual innocence. “How is it that you know so many of them?” he said – implying that I had lied about the treasured virginity.

We stayed for the game. He was fuming. And I, having been wrongly accused of being a slut, rooted for West Point and never spoke to him again. That night, I slept on the couch.

As I mentioned – this was quite some time ago. It was a time when you got all dressed up to travel to anywhere – even ‘ Hondrikavah.’ It was a time when you wore white gloves, and a dress, to get on a plane, or train or go to the theater. Travel was glamorous, exciting, and enjoyable. Even an eight hour train trip to the middle of nowhere was fun.

Nothing stays the same. The airlines are thieves. A long train trip is expensive, and usually for large families who got a special rate, are afraid to fly, or who can’t sit comfortably in one airplane seat. And the cost of gas makes driving prohibitively costly. In other words, my attitude about traveling has changed considerably over the years, and I have come to realize, that I do not need to go everywhere I have not been. That being said, and making little sense at all, David is on his way back from Paris and Z got a new big boy bed. We’re just sayin’….Iris

(note, because of an editing error by the editor (editor's note: ME!), this post is a few days delayed from when Michigan won a football game.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

An Additional Burnett Blob to Keep You Amused

We're happy to announce that Jordan Kai Burnett, of late to be found in Hollywood (the California variety, not the Floridian) and her roomies have started their own blob. We thought it only fair to share the geographic and genetic richness, and would implore you all to check out which just went live a few days ago. Jordan Kai and her roomies rotate the writing, but the cool thing is they are pretty much all East Coasters, and their view of the Left Coast will surely amuse you. Thanks for having a look.... We're just sayin'.... David

I did fix the link, i think.. that is.. you may have to copy it. but it should work...