Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Here Come Da Judge...

Flashback -- 1950. Imagine...

Here we are at a kid’s fourth birthday party. Lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Not many little children celebrating the double birthday, but there appear to be four, each expected by their proud parents to out do the other with a memorized poem, song or story. The mothers watch with eyes glowing, almost teary. The dads are trying to figure out why they are in party hats instead of golf shoes.

There is an infrequent fight over whose turn it is to ride the metal pony, but it is quickly over when it is time for another performance. The kids, anything but ordinary to their parents, seem to be having a pretty good time. There is however, one exceptionally bright (and incredibly cute) little boy who seems to excel at poetry recitation. Although not the youngest of the children, certainly the most dapper. His outfit, a white shirt, bow tie, blue shorts & socks, are child model worthy ... His parents own a men's clothing store, but that's not what makes him extraordinary. It is, rather, his three year old's determination to excel -- even without parental pressure.

Yesterday, I saw that same determination as Justice Andy Hurwitz, nominated by President Obama for a seat on the Federal Courts, testified before a distinguished Senate Judiciary panel. His wife Sally, younger brother Gary (now a Mandy Patamkin look alike), and his wife Holly, me and a few friends sat in the peanut gallery while Andy took questions from the Senators. There was no “gotcha” attitude although we were told later that there are a few Senators who hold up nominations simply because it’s what they do. But there were no softballs. They asked questions about judicial decisions he made in the past (unlike those asked on Friday nights after a game at Paul’s Diner), his answers were cogent, reasonable, articulate and thoughtful.

l-r: Andy, Sally, Holly, Gary, at the Senate

It was a wonderful proud moment for all of us who were there, for all the old friends who were not, and for all our parents watching down on us. I’m glad I didn’t kill him when he tried to get on my metal horse. He has made the world a better place to be. And given me a good reason to vote for (as opposed to against), President Obama. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's a Parlor, a Bee-you-tee Parlor

A few days ago I started a blob writing that there were three things I wanted to write about. Well, a senior moment or if you prefer, a brain fart, and I have no memory of the things I wanted to share. Lucky for all our loyal readers, there is never a time when I can’t think of something else.

When I was in high school, my mother, who was always colorful, decided that she should be a beautician. In our family, when someone decided they wanted to do something—it was never half-assed. Like my Uncle Lou decided it would be fun to have a toy store—in his basement. It was a virtual Toys R Us. My guess is that he bought all the toys he wanted to play with, after which he gave them to us. Or there was the time my Uncle Jack told us he had a silver mine…. Never mind, back to the hairdresser.

There was a “finished” basement in our house. Not fancy, but finished enough – I’ll get back to that. Anyway, it was never clear as to whether or not mom ever got her beauty license, but she was never one to stand on ceremony. She was, as I said, not one to do anything half heartedly. So she created the perfect little beauty salon in a space that was finished but other wise unused. We had a black salon sink. A pink chair that could be used for washing, dying, rinsing, and then setting. A 1956 hairdryer that looked like an old fashioned space helmet, (I have since made it into a very cool lamp which lights up when you close the plastic top) and a few chairs in which customers could lounge. Her customers were friends and family – no one who would ever turn her in to the authorities.

As it happens, she had quite a feel for her newly chosen profession. (There were a multitude of other kinds of work she attempted. But this was the most fun for me and all my friends.) Because when she wasn’t playing beauty parlor, we were. Talk about exciting. We practiced curling, and waving, and perming and we once dyed my friend Joyce’s hair green. She was not happy when she realized that despite our efforts to convince her that the light was making it look green, it was a pretty bright green.

Until yesterday, it had been a long time since I got to play beauty parlor. But thanks to my cousin Joan (an expert with a flat iron,) yesterday we played beauty parlor or hair salon – whichever makes you more comfortable. It was such fun we didn’t bother with the washing part of the program, but having had my hair curly for so many years, we skipped right to the straightening. I should mention that when I had my hair cut a few days before, my stylist did straighten it – so I was desperate to see if it could be done again. And yes it could. In fact when my stylist did it, it looked remarkably like a wig. When Joan did it, it looked absolutely adorable (my hair not my face).

There are those moments when you are so comfortable in a simple situation, that you wonder why you can’t always feel that way. It might be when you are eating a peanut M&M, giving a hug to someone special, holding hands, trying on old clothes, or playing beauty parlor with some product and a flat iron. For whatever it’s worth, those moments and feeling like you are smiling inside as well as out, are the moments that make everything not so great, OK. We're just sayin'... Iris

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hike it to ME!

With football season coming to an end, I do have a confession. I will miss it. Over the years my loyalties to different teams have changed, and now come full circle, but like many people who love watching the game, if it’s a good game I just like to watch it.

Some people think my adoration for the game can be credited to my high school boyfriend, who eventually played for Miami, in the Super Bowl-- several times. But this is not true. Although I did drool over him long before I liked the game, I continued to like the game even when he married someone else and even when he wasn’t involved.

There was a time, in fact, when we had Patriots season tickets, first when they played at Harvard Stadium, then at Boston College, and finally in the old Pats Stadium, (which I might add, was horrible). In those years, when the Pats played the Dolphins (and usually lost), my high school beau would get a sideline pass for my X. He and a few of the players would come over to my house the night before the game and have dinner—usually pizza and scotch, because we were very poor. One dinner is even mentioned in a book the hero wrote, when he recounted how, during a particularly nasty rainy game, he reminded the guys who had been to dinner to “keep their mouths shut when they got tackled, because it would be a crime to ruin the good scotch.”

The truth is, I like to root for someone. If there is a direct connection even in college football , (my niece went to Michigan and my best friend and ‘ludafisk’ sister lived in Wisconsin), but the connect has simply provided me with an excuse to pick one team over the other. Some team that allows me to yell at the TV. My male friends always thought my football watching behavior was obscene because I behaved in exactly the way they did – cursing when there was a bad call, muttering when I was unhappy, jumping up and down, and screaming when the team did something good—or bad.
As I said, I just like the game.

And I love that my grandchildren and my friends grandchildren get as excited as the rest of us – what joy, what pain, what purpose.

So what’s going to happen tomorrow, in the final games before the Super Bowl (which, for whatever reason, is hardly ever a good game). It’s a silly question. Last week I rooted for Green Bay. That was an embarrassing game. While I wanted them to win, I didn’t mind that they lost to the Giants. Because, I want to see the match between Giants and the Pats go to the Big Game, starring – yes… Madonna! Then, I am rooting that the Pats will have the victory they deserved (yes, and screwed up), in the last match between the two. This forces me to watch the game alone or take a great deal of crap from my New York family. But this is the price one has to pay for loyalty – and remember, the joys of full circle. Oh, and because I’m easy, if the Pats lose tomorrow, my heart won’t be in it but, I will be behind those Giants at least 65% -- in honor of all my NY cousins. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Friday, January 20, 2012

The First Topic...of Three

There are three topics I wanted to address in our moving and oft prophetic blob, and I will, but they are just too much for one sitting. And so I will begin with a memory.

Jordan was a bit under the weather, and thinking about how far away she is, and my inability to be with her, took me back a long way. It is unclear to me whether this was something the female members of my family did, or it was something that happens in every family. But when we were kids (OK and adults), and we didn’t feel well, the first thing our mothers would do was to put their lips on our keppie’s (foreheads) and use them as a thermometer-- to see if we had a fever. There was hardly a time when they would use an actual instrument to measure the heat in our bodies. “Feh, what for,” they would say. They didn’t trust us to keep a thermometer in our mouths and we ardently refused to have one inserted in our ‘tuchas’. It’s funny, but whenever I’m out of sorts, I can still feel all those lips on my keppie. Hope my kids can as well.

The other day I was in a rush, but I needed to do some bank business and there was only one person in front of me. How long could it take, I thought. My answer came when 15 minutes later, the woman was still in line, but she wasn’t doing business. She was chatting with the teller like they were old friends. The conversation was not quiet so there were a few things that became apparent. 1. The teller had never seen her before and 2. The woman was lonely and had no where else to go. No place to be. No friends with whom she could converse.

Yes, the conversation was not only desperate it was embarrassing. The teller wanted this customer to move on, but that was not to be. At this point, rushed as I was, I couldn’t tear myself away. The woman was married with children. Her husband had disappeared years before and her children were never around. “They have their own lives,” she offered. She lived alone in a studio apartment which was rent controlled but she had no income anymore. She had been a secretary, but the older she got, the less interested the boss was in keeping her. There were minimal savings, no health insurance, and no possibilities for a future of any kind. It was very sad, but people were anxious to cash their checks, make deposits or argue about a charge with which they did not concur. What I realized was that, this was not the first time I had been in a line where a customer ahead of me, just wanted to talk to someone. And if they bought as little as a cup of coffee, they would have a captive audience – the server – until they were forced to move on.

I’m the type of person who talks to everyone. I’m friendly – good with people. David would say, “You think every person is just another person who you think needs to know you.” Don’t they? I think. (My kids are the same way—as is David, but he pretends the stranger makes the first move. ) Anyway, there has never been a time when I bared my soul to a stranger while in line at a Sonic, or Dunkin Donuts. But most of us have other ways to share our lives.

There was a time when people depended on their community (family, neighbors, business associates), to share concerns. But we have become a society which depends on anything but face-to-face communication for a relationship. Social media has nothing to do with being social. It is convenient and it is easy, but what have we lost by depending on it so heavily? Well for one thing, we no longer know what those lips feel like when we’re feverish or blue… and that feeling can not be replaced by an e-mail or a server at a fast food restaurant or even a bank. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Talent Added: Photojournalism

I just wish I’d known it would be that easy. Some things just fall into place. Others, well they need a little work. A little concentration, a little effort. When I first signed on for the Yearbook (the “Olympian”) staff in high school, I was 15 years old, looking for , as my mom reminded me any number of times, something that would qualify as an ‘extra-curricular’ activity if I had any hope of actually getting into college. You couldn’t simply own a decent GPA, attend classes dutifully, and hope to be able to get into a good school. As a member of the first class of the Baby-Boomers, competition was fiercer (more fierce?) than we ever thought it could be. So I suppose I had secondary interests in the back of my mind when they accepted my yearbook application, and I had to fill in which staff I thought would be appropriate for me: Literary, Business, Art, and Photography. I ticked off – in a negative way – each of the first three, and ended up, with some ambivalence, as Photography got my vote. I had no idea what it would entail, but it was the least uninteresting of the lot. When I finally received word weeks later that I was accepted on the Photo staff, I was excited to see what it was all about. I was a pretty good Chemistry and Physics student (yes, I could fire a steel ball-bearing from a spring on a bench, and calculate how far it would go before it hit the floor – oh, that gravitational constant!) The first day of school the following autumn found me with several other newbies in the darkroom with our advisor , Mr. Blackham ( a rotund but very game Math teacher) huddled around a not yet antique Omega enlarger, watching him project a picture of the French club onto a sheet of white photo paper. His hands moved in a few phantom patterns (I would eventually discover what burning and dodging was ) over the photo paper, and then the enlarger light went dark. Mr. Blackham then lifted the paper out of the easel and slid it into the Dektol. In a room bathed in the yellow glow of a safe-light, I saw my very first photographic image appear, magically, like some kind of sorcerer’s alchemy, on that piece of photo paper. No tongs for him, Mr. Blackham reached in and grabbed a corner of the picture…. Shaking it gently, as the tones slowly went from light to dark gray, and some to black. It really was magic.
a school crisis, the "leadership meets," 1964
A few days later, I was given a roll of Tri-x and a Rollei, and told to go shoot a Friday afternoon football game. I wandered out to the field, looking around, trying to figure out where to stand, how to hold the camera, when it dawned on me I had NO idea how to set it. In one of those scurrying moves, where you can feel the sweat starting to ooze through your pores, I raced through the halls of school, trying to find George Carmen, one of those kids whose dad had gotten him started in photography in Jr. High, and who I knew would be able to guide me in the mysterious world of Shutter Speed and Aperture.
the Graham Special at the Salt Flats, 1963
When I finally did find him…. he helped me set both, and back I went to the game. It was one of my first days as --- dare I say it – a photographer. And if you carry on the idea of what I was doing that day, it might have even been my first day being a photojournalist. I don’t think I was even aware of what ‘photojournalist’ meant or implied. Sure, like most families we subscribed to LIFE and LOOK, those magazine stalwarts of photographic storydom. The twenties and thirties saw the birth of photo magazines, first in Germany, and England, and later in the U.S. The idea of taking cameras out of the drawing room, and using them to photograph actual “things and events” was quite new. It was the birth of what would become Photojournalism. And let’s face it, there is a bit more cachet to ‘photojournalist’.. working on a ‘reportage’ than a photographer working on a mundane ‘assignment.’
George Romney (Mitt's dad) speaks about his Presidential aspirations to the Utah Legislature, 1967
In the beginning I counted myself among the latter, until sometime in college – my Senior year after I’d had a summer internship with TIME in New York – some snotty NewEnglander kid a bit my junior was explaining that his older brother was busy creating, as his Locust Valley Lockjaw might have put it, “reh-pour-TAHZE.” I had to admit that his way of putting it made it sound pretty cool. It took years, of course, for the rest of the world, and the rest of the business to use “reportage” on a daily basis. I still feel a little funny when I use the word “reportage” but, it sounds way too groovy not to.
Bobby Kennedy speaks at BYU, 1968

All of which leads me to think, that given my forty plus years of photographing ( O M G, next year it will be fifty! Don’t tell anyone!) and feeling that even now as I’m learning something about my chosen field everyday, that this is a world of unending possibilities. I write this on a plane flying across the country, and in the seat pocket in front of me, are copies of Pop Photo, and Shutterbug. There are a zillion cool things inside of each, little techniques, little hints of things yet undiscovered. You never really know it all. Every day is full of new possibilities, new ways of expanding your personal vision. So it was all the more amusing when I recently received in my email inbox one of those updates from LinkedIn, that crazy, billion dollar company (how did THAT happen?) which advised me that one of my LinkedIn contacts had updated their profile, and added “Photojournalist” to their list of talents. Apparently they are already working as a photojournalist somehow, somewhere, but forgot to mention it when they filled out their profile. The most amusing part of the message was the imploring by LinkedIn, to me, that I add the talent “Photojournalist” to my own profile, and that it would … well.. make me a Photojournalist. Damn, I had no idea it was that easy. Just add it to your list of attributes and you’re IN. Like many of the misunderstandings which clouded my early days in the photo world the lights went on more quickly than I could keep up with them. In 1969, when I moved to Miami to be the TIME contract photographer based in the SouthEast/Caribbean, I had a card printed up. I had already poached what I thought was a cool line from Norm Betts, an AP shooter I’d met the previous winter. My card read

David Burnett
655 Eldron Drive
Miami Springs, FL

“Matthew Brady is alive and well, and living in Argentina”

Oh, there was a phone number on there as well, and so I thought that once I’d printed up my card, and started passing them out, the phone would start to ring off the bloody hook with offers to shoot hither and yon. In fact, nothing was more frighteningly silent than my phone. It just refused to ring. But hey, I was a photojournalist. Eventually, thank God, things slowly began to change, and my career grew as I started to understand what it took to connect with editors, and make pictures which would be worth looking at.
the Vietnam "Moratorium" in Miami, 1969
Recently, we were saddened by the passing of Jim Atherton, who worked in Washington DC for UPI, and later the Washington Post. He spent decades shooting the pants off young’uns like me. Jim Atherton was one of those guys who really got it. He understood that elusive point where life intersects with the camera. That in fact, for the most part, we “make” pictures, not “take” them. We do all that is necessary to get our viewfinders in the perfect place where the pushing of the shutter button creates that moment in time, frozen forever. Unlike the rookies like me, who would arrive early, and look around at a Senate hearing room, trying to figure out how to spend the next three or four hours squatting on a knee-high bench, looking for some key image of a semi-famous person, Atherton would make the rounds of the Capital, usually arriving somewhere in hour 3 or 4. While the rest of us had so tired of looking, so fatigued we could barely see any longer, Jim would walk into a room, and like a sniper hunting his target, peer though his squinted eyes, sum it all up in a few minutes, and just BE where he had to be, to get a picture the rest of us usually missed altogether. Bang! Another time I’ve been knicked by Jim Atherton. He did it time and again, never settling for the obvious.
John Dean being sworn in at the Watergate hearings (1973), Jim Atherton bouncing in on the right for his exclusive
Atherton was a special breed. He apparently more than once corrected someone who called him a ‘photojournalist,’ saying that no, he was a News Photographer. He imbued the idea of “News Photographer” with something special, and though I doubt he was ever on LinkedIn (what, really would have been the point?) he was the quintessential definition of the term. It was his years of perceptive seeing, and listening, and watching and knowing. You couldn’t just add that talent to your resumé. No, it’s just not that easy. We’re just sayin’…. David

Friday, January 13, 2012

Assume you are making assumptions

Remember when you were a kid and you asked your parents for something specific and they either said no, or ignored you. You may have assumed that they didn’t like you or were just mean or stupid. And remember when your first true love broke up with you. When it happened to me, there was no e-mail or texting. So the only way to communicate was by phone. Sometimes I would leave a desperate message. And sometimes I would talk, but whoever I was trying to reach never responded with what I wanted them to say. Which was probably, “I made a mistake and can’t live without you.” (OK this happened with David but I convinced him that all the other women would never make him happy – which is pretty interesting since I had put all the precious possessions he had left in my care.)

Never mind, we are living happily ever after. I was right. None of those other women would have made him happy or given him the amazing kid I did. But that’s not the point of this blob. People make assumptions to fill in the blanks. You reach out, they reach out, if it goes on long enough the “fill in the blank” can become, “you don’t want to speak to me.” This need not be the case. Your timing was simply off. You didn’t hear the phone. You were in the shower. Or maybe, and this is totally rare, you just didn’t answer the phone because you wanted some time and space to be by yourself, (a concept unheard of in the 24/7 you can’t be by yourself, I must reach you), culture.

We all make assumptions. We do it because we always feel we need to fill in the empty space that lies between, “you said and I said”. Aye, there’s the rub…. Too much empty space. Or maybe what you said and I said. Or, maybe an assumption is made because no one says anything – what we meant to say, is assumed.

Tonight I had a conversation with someone I love. She was telling me about a friend of hers who, no matter what my friend does, her friend never responds. “I call and there’s never a return call.” , “I leave messages that never get answered”, “No matter what I do, I never hear back. I think she must be angry with me. I think I must have offended her. I don’t know what I can do to make it different and I can't find out.

This is why I should have been a life coach… “Maybe”, I said, “It has nothing to do with you at all.” Maybe, she is just not someone who feels like she needs to respond. Maybe, she has her own stuff going on and because you are her friend, she knows you will understand the lack of communication.

Now, back to the Presidential Primary Race. When did we even mention that you ask. You assumed I was not going to talk about politics because I was talking about assumptions. But that’s all Presidential politics is…. Someone assumes they can run the government better than anyone else, and they assume that they can raise enough money and build a good enough campaign to get elected. Then there is an assumption that people will like you better than anyone else and you can make their lives better. Whew, that’s a lot of assumptions. Personally, I would rather not assume that anyone knows how to be the President. It would just be nice if all the people who think they know better than the rest of us, would not make assumptions about our lives. If they would learn bout the people they want to lead, and follow a path that just makes good sense for most of us. Aye… there’s another rub. Good Common Sense. We're Just Sayin... Iris

Saturday, January 07, 2012

I Hate Goodbyes

When someone we love dies, and we think about their lives, we often think about the life in terms of us. It’s not really all about me, but we have memories that are ours and that’s what we remember. So forgive what’s all about me and share in my loss.

When we were kids, me and my cousins lived pretty close together—geographically. We all lived not five blocks away from each other. And our parents expected we would bond [as they had done growing up in the 20s and 30s]. But we were 10, 6, 3 years apart so we always had different priorities.

There were always rules when we were at Aunt Fritzie’s. (For whom Jordan is named). Whatever else we did, Stevie and I were not allowed to touch our (older) cousin Larry’s stuff. It was like an invitation. We would run into Aunt Fitzie’s, go directly to Larry’s room, and touch everything we could find. Then, of course, when we saw him we would sing “we touched all your things.” Oh My God, he would chase us until we dropped and then he didn’t know what to do with us, so he would say, “you stay away from my things – or you die!”

Larry always had the best stuff. Clothes, toys, and cars. His cars were amazing. Always a Corvette or some other incredibly hot vehicle which no woman could resist. There was one day when Stevie and I were in Hebrew School, and Stevie put a pencil under my tush as I sat down. It broke off and I had to go to the doctor. For whatever reason, the Rabbi was unable to reach anyone but Larry. He took me to the doctor, but made me sit on my knees. Not so the pencil wouldn’t go deeper, but because he didn’t want me to bleed on the car’s upolstery.
Eden and I, touching Larry's Corvette (circa 1958)
Yesterday, we said our final goodbye to my incredibly entertaining, outrageous, and yes, courageous, cousin Larry. Larry was the first of the biological first cousins to die. Our beloved Elaine died years ago, and Allan, a second cousin did as well. Both very serious losses. But for those of us who grew up with Larry as an integral part of our lives, this was very “there but for God go I.”

I don’t want to minimize the loss the family has suffered with anyone. Larry, however was such an important part of my life – he could decide if we lived or died -- that the fact that as adults, we got to know one another and actually like “us” as adults was incredibly special.

So I say, without any regrets, I loved my cousin. I am glad we resolved all those problems of youth. And I will miss the Larry I just started to know. Goodbye my friend. I’m going to Atlanta and touch all your things. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Eye Oh Aye

It’s 5 till 7pm. The Iowa caucuses are about to start. David has been meandering around bemoaning the fact that he’s not yet (or hopefully ever will be) involved in this political campaign season. I, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier. Especially about not being involved in Iowa. When I went to Iowa with a Presidential candidate—it was my worst nightmare. Let me share a story, then I will tell you who I think will win. (I’m not giving you dates – just remember, cell phones didn’t exist, we had no Blackberry’s, there were no fax machines. We used radio’s when they were available—if we had the money. And a telecopier, which was then new technology, was so new that the campaign got more people to attend a telecopier briefing, than a campaign event with the candidate.

Iowa is extremely cold in January. While we thought it would be fun to travel all over Iowa in a campaign bus, after the first day we realized we were incorrect. It was just cold, and tedious, and cold, and exhausting and cold. At that time I was traveling with the Candidate as part of his personal staff. This meant that it was my job to make sure his wife (who was hilarious and smart) did not get drunk and humiliate the Candidate. In addition, when the Press Secretary, may he rest in peace, got drunk, I became the press secretary. And the highlight of my job was to babysit the Candidate’s children (who, as adults, did not ever need a babysitter.) At most, they needed a briefing about the campaign events.

In my capacity as babysitter, (which I finally found out was because there was no money for my housing), I shared a room with the Candidates eldest daughter. The daily schedule went something like, Wake up at 6am, schmooze with the national press – get them to get on your bus -- have breakfast on the run. Jump aboard the bus. Brief the Candidate’s wife about her schedule. Fight with her about what was on her schedule. “Move that bus!” Usually there was a campaign event with the Candidate. It was generally a breakfast speech, an elderly event (you could count on them to show up at their caucus), a speech with people committed to the Candidate, a coffee, a meet and greet of some kind and a press opportunity. (This was a time when the media had total access, if they wanted it.) . Then we would get back on the bus and go to the next town, where there would be a luncheon speech, a community event, a small fundraiser, and a press opportunity. Back on the bus. There would be a spouse press opportunity on the bus, where she would say she loved cooking and knitting. (She wouldn’t have recognized a knitting needle if it was stuck in her leg.) I would sit in back of her trying not to guffaw. In the meantime, the Candidate would do more people events, fundraising, and press opportunities. At the end of the day, we would reconnoiter on the bus and head out for our RON (rest over night).

We were on the bus for two weeks, but it seemed like a lifetime. There were some unforgettable moments. One happened on the first overnight. It was so cold, so windy and snowed so hard, that when we got up in the morning, there were three inches of snow in our motel room. You can only imagine how cold the room had to be for the snow not to melt when it came inside. The other was on the night we were all supposed to fly back to DC. We were all excited to be going home. But when we got to the airport we discovered that the Candidate’s brother had cancelled our campaign plane without finding out if there was any other way for us to get home. There wasn’t. I won’t get into the gruesome travel details, but it took months for all of us to recover. In addition to which, we were forced to pay for the rest of the campaign on the Candidate’s personal American Express card.

Needless to say, I don’t miss Iowa – or the Presidential primaries. So who do I think is going to win. Governor Huntsman, because the Iowa Caucus have settled nothing. But Huntsman (who never even went to Iowa), will do very well in New Hampshire and that will give his campaign a boost, and him an opportunity to be heard. Isn’t it terrible to think that the Republican candidate will be the person we are least afraid of. And the Democrat will not face any real opposition. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The New Year Beetle

Ordinarily, the last weekend of the year, I reflect on all that has happened, and try to make you laugh and cry, preferably at the same time. But not this year. It has been a difficult year but I’ve decided not to dwell. Instead I want to share happy family news, and then a story which has nothing to do with anything. The happy news… It’s Allegra’s birthday. For those of you who don’t know Allegra, (and if you did you would know that you know) I was there when she was born and thankfully, I was too young for it to have ruined my New Years. More happy news… we welcome to our family Elaina Turner. Amy’s first grandchild and the family’s first female great great great , Sorry the great great, great, tantes aren’t here to enjoy her… but we know they are watching to make sure whatever we all do is done the way they would do it. (It’s probably easier to explain her as sixth generation Dubroff. But as a regular reader, you know I never make anything easy, nor did any generation of Dubroffs.)

When we moved to Newburgh we were introduced to the most ridiculous species of Beetles. They are fat, and beige, and move in any direction that appears convenient. They don’t jump or fly. They wander aimlessly and seemingly without purpose, up and down the wall, shades, floor, windows, screens – anywhere they are able to go. (Yes, they defy gravity.) But here’s the thing. We never see more than one at a time. So we are now convinced that it is actually only one indestructible beetle that keeps appearing and reappearing, no matter what we do.

Squishing, flushing, suffocating, and freezing do not have the desired effect. ( I do not want to hear from any PETA people – the little bug has an indeterminate number of lives). Like the seasons, or a bad dream, it just keeps coming back. Some people may argue with us about whether or not it is only one beetle. But those people don’t live in our house. There is one beetle, whose sole purpose in life is to die a multitude of deaths. Why should this surprise anyone. A Cat has nine lives. Why can’t a beetle have numerous opportunities to keep getting reincarnated as the same beetle? (Does this make sense—probably not to a religious Hindu priest.)

The other good news is that 2011 is over. This means we can once again start with a clean slate. We can choose to be happy or sad, make wise or stupid decisions, go on a diet or eat like there’s no tomorrow. We can hope that our elected officials start to work for the good of the electorate. And we can pray that our family and friends have joy, peace, prosperity, and nice personalities. I love the idea of a clean slate. But in the words of one of my favorite people, I simply need to stop being a ninny. Happy New Year. Hoping a clean slate does not mean I forget all my entertaining words. We’re just sayin’…. Iris