Saturday, November 29, 2014

Of Cosby and such

This is one of those blobs that will probably be a series of random thoughts.  It was one of those confusing days. Outside it was 70 degrees. Inside it was 150 degrees because most of the buildings in the city turned on their heat.  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 40 degrees and Wednesday it’s supposed to snow 6 inches.  And speaking of confusing…

Isn’t it just common sense not to be on your phone when you are walking down the street and there is a good possibility that you will walk into someone who happens to be walking on the same street. When the person (walked IN to)  happens to be me, at the very least, I expect some kind of apology. Isn’t that silly?  Instead,  the bump is usually accompanied by a dirty look.  Apparently, no one reads Miss Manners anymore.

Anyway,how about that Bill Cosby?   I might as well tell you here and now. Twenty years ago, on my birthday, Bill drugged me and we had sex. Or did we have sex and then he drugged me?  It was so long ago I don’t even remember if it was good sex.  But I do know that there has always been a casting couch, not limited to the world of entertainment.  Some years ago, there was a societal language change and the dirty deed transitioned from casting couch to sexual harassment. It. Never happened to me. There were hardly ever any guys who wanted to interview me on a casting couch..  If Bill Cosby did what these seventeen women said he did, twenty years ago, it was not out of the range of normal.  This is not to say that Bill Cosby deserves a pass. If all the allegations are true, it is despicable, and so is he.  So why did they all “come to Jesus”  so many years after their incident? Probably because powerful men expected young women to submit to whatever humiliation. In those days it was not out of the ordinary.  If you did what was expected, you got a job, a raise or maybe money.  But what do you do now?  What do they want from Mr. Cosby?  There are so many women coming forward that it unfortunately feels like piling on.

And speaking of despicable., there was not enough evidence to indict officer Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting.  They made the announcement at 9pm in a lengthy almost “Dancing with the Stars” kind of roll out about who gets  eliminated. The prosecutor knew they were not indicting at 3pm.  If they had made the announcement early in the day there might have been a chance for peaceful demonstrations.  And the split screen of the announcement and the rioting was horrendous.  The Prosecuter waited for the crowd to gather and then announced the result.  There is something wrong with the legal system in this country when the prosecutor represents the perpetrator rather than the victim.  But again, what, as a community, can you do to demonstrate your outrage?

I am not black or a powerful man of any color. The only time I was arrested was for posting political signs on telephone poles in New Orleans.  I just don’t get this wild west mentality that seems to permeate police forces throughout the country.  It is embarrassing for those of us who believe that people, no matter their color, have a right to be treated equally under the law.  And lately that hasn’t been happening. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Sunday, November 23, 2014

the (Face)book of Life

One of the things that happens when you log into Facebook is that you realize the pages in the book of life change before you have a chance to read the first chapter.  You see pictures of children who were 3 or 10 or 15 when you last saw them, who are now 15, 20 and graduating from college.  It is a reminder that time is moving too quickly and you have no way to slow it down.

People always say that you need to make the most of each day.  But just how do you do that?  There are 24 hours in each day and you spend 6 or seven of those hours sleeping. This leaves you about 17 hours about which you need to make the most. (I could spend 16 of those hours trying not to end my sentences with a preposition.)  And speaking of sentences, you remember how you learned to diagram a sentence? Well, maybe that’s what we should do with our days. That way we wouldn’t waste any time.

But wasting time is inevitable and that’s not what I wanted to blob about. Yesterday, we (me and Tyrone) got up at 5:30. A little early to start the day, but puppies have to poop when they have to poop. I did not take him outside. He went while I stood at the door.  It took him no time because it was really cold. By the time he was finished it was 5:35. It was too early to do anything but write or make coffee. Or read through Facebook. The Sklar kids who I last saw when they were children, are young adults.  Same with the Simon kids. The people who were young adults when they were an everyday part of our lives, are grown up and have kids of their own (The Sklar parents and the Simon parents who were, when we met,  young political interns or college students (mine).

It was then 8am. We packed it up, put on warm clothing and headed to Kohls to take advantage of the supposed sales. Kohls. The most wonderful thing about shopping at Kohls is that even when the sale doesn’t exist, they tell you how many hundreds of dollars you saved.  By the time we finished shopping it was 10am and I had saved $180.95.  But savings is not what I wanted to blob about.
Anyway, got home, checked email and made a bagel. (One half with an egg and the other with peanut butter.)  Checked Facebook and saw that all the babies in my world were now in elementary school.  So, I did some writing and some work on “Gefilte Fish Chronicles, A Musical”… it is a never ending attempt to celebrate family, mostly mine.

Admittedly, I did not make the most of the rest of the day, until dinner, which I had with my cousin Joan. It was lovely, and we passed the time savoring stories about the things that used to be, and things we hoped would be.

A big part of the way we use the time we have is talking about the past.. remember when this happened or that happened? Or “this used to be a quarter and now it’s a dollar” or gas was $1.25 and now it’s over $3 a gallon. Just stuff. But its one way we turn the pages.

My grandfather always said that life was like a train. Early on you were on the local. Then, as you got older you got on the express.  The good news is that the seats on the  express are hopefully more comfortable and cost of the ticket never changes. There is no bad news. Our days pass too quickly, our birthdays come too soon,it seems  our monthly medication needs to be refilled before we take the first pill and  children grow up too fast.  But that’s not bad news because it just makes the book  more interesting.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, November 20, 2014

You, I Love

Sometimes,when while riding around, usually doing errands or some equally unimportant thing, a song comes on the radio, there is a familiar smell, or some unexpected feeling takes me to a place that is not easy to understand.  It generally feels OK, although sometimes it is accompanied by a wave of sadness or a memory that is not exactly unpleasant but it is uncomfortable.

Last week when Jordan was home, she came into my room for no reason and she noticed that the TV was tuned into the Hallmark channel.  It would have been possible to say that I wasn’t watching but,  that felt like a betrayal. Why, because my mother never missed a Hallmark movie… and there wasn’t always a channel dedicated to a celebration of sappy, sweet, always familiar plots and dialogue. She also watched Judge Judy , every game show she liked and always “The Golden Girls. “  But Hallmark movies were her favorite.
Hallmark movies don’t make you laugh or cry. They just exist and are usually produced by Larry Levinson and Robert Halmi, which is pretty ironic because you never hear anything nice said about them.  But that is irrelevant with regard to this masterpiece – which by the way was written yesterday and lost. This is a rewrite and will hopefully be equally brilliant.

When there is a Hallmark movie available (24/7) it’s like my mom is with me.  She comments, and makes appropriate sounds.  It’s easy to reproduce them in my head. As long as there is a Hallmark movie, Mom remains an active part of my life.

But there are other things as well.  My amazing friend Beth died much too early. She was a whirlwind of activity and stories. She collected people all over the world.  When she signed off in a letter or on the phone she always said, “You I love”.  Isn’t that terrific. Because it wasn’t just an “I love you” goodbye. It felt so much warmer and more personal.  So I have decided to do the same thing to keep her alive and always present.

When the leaves change, when there is weather of any kind, when I see people who have been strangers for much too long, or when I see a gift that I would buy for a specific person, or when I hear a song that I sing very loud whether or not I know the words. It always triggers some memory. But it’s more than memory.  It is a feeling that makes me smile, or maybe cry.  It is a feeling that comes over me and takes me to a place where I would like to be. It is not a matter of going back to some specific time. It is rather a feeling that elicits a feeling I had in the past.  It is a feeling that makes me want to go forward and yet not forget all those previous memorable emotions.

It would be dishonest to make a list of what happens, and when, because it is  unpredictable.  It is difficult to explain in words.  I just don’t have them. But suffice it to say, “You I love.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Rain In Spain ... and Then Some

The rain in Spain falls..... Who cares about the rain in Spain? In NYC, the rain keeps falling.  You know how when it rains really hard you say, “It can’t keep raining this hard. It’s going to pass.”  Well, not today. It keeps coming and coming and coming.  We need the rain, not as much as California but everyone need the rain. It prevents a drought, which could mean you can’t water your lawn or wash your car, except in California where they do all those things -- but of course they are delusional in California.

Anyway, when it rains in Metropolitan NYC, people lose their minds.  It’s not quite as bad as when it snows in the DC Metropolitan area. People in the south do not know how to drive in the snow. There is no reason for this because  DC is not the south.   It snows every year -- so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
There is no snow removal so people have lots of time to practice driving.

Back to NY and the surrounding areas. In NYC the highway on the west side, the Henry Hudson, as well as the highway on the east side, the FDR, both flood. As do the streets. It is almost impossible to walk without suffering the consequences of backed up sewers.  It’s gross. The cars and trucks go flying by without any concern for the people standing on the sidewalks being splashed with filthy water.  But pedestrians are not the point of this blob.  Drivers seem to lose their minds along with the ability to drive. And to make it worse the deliverymen on bicycles weave in and out of the traffic so the cars keep swerving, so as not to hit them. These people have no experience even  with swerving, it’s the city where there are millions of cars and terrible traffic so people go straight ahead.

There was a time when any weather put me in a bad mood. Rain, snow, wind, fog, everything but sunlight and and 70 degrees. This may be an exaggeration but not much of one. I moved to DC where there was mostly no weather except for an occasional snowstorm which crippled the city. And the humidity in the summer -- but everything was air-conditioned.  When, after 30 years or so, we moved we moved to upstate NY, where the snow started early and lasted what seemed like forever.  This shouldn’t be explained in the past tense because it is where we live now.  It’s my least favorite of all the weathers.  So where does a person who doesn’t like the weather live?

It’s beyond my decision making ability.  Oh, and I hate to have to drive to places where there are things people need everyday, like the supermarket, or the drug store, or the liquor store (kidding).  So LA, where there is hardly any weather is out.  This means a city is a more likely place for us than a suburb. Soooo, if anyone can think of a Burnett paradise, we are willing to consider it. Just remember the parameters:   no weather, no insane drivers, and no right wing political fanatics.  I know I didn’t mention that before but where there is weather, you are likely to find political zealots even though there are no statistics  about this. In fact, I may have made it up. But it was snowing this morning and now it’s raining hard , so even the most outrageous statements make perfectly good sense to me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What About Birthdays?

Some people love them and celebrate for days. And some people just want them to go away.  The expectations that people have about their birthdays are often disappointing. There is an expectation of big parties, grand presents, and full time adoration -- at least for the celebratory days.  Yesterday was my birthday. My apprehension about my birthday started when I was 35.  Up until that point the day of my birth was to be tolerated if not loved.  But at 35, my closest friends decided to gift me with a massage, facial and hair appointment.  It was a nice gift.

Unfortunately, I had an allergy to the oil they used for the massage.  When the hives started, I begged the masseuse to stop. And she refused because she said it was impossible for me to be allergic to the product. It was all natural and mild so it must have been something else.  I got up off the table and said that if she even tried to touch me I would have to bitch slap her.  Next was the facial. Yes, I must have had a number of blackheads, but my face looked like a moon crater.  35 and I would have to wear a ski mask for the rest of my life.  In addition, I had to take Benadryl for the hives, so I was falling asleep.

On to the hair salon. You know how it is when you explain to the hairdresser that you absolutely, positively don’t want them to cut your hair. And they say they will only trim it and shape it.  In the end, they have come as close to shaving your tresses as is possible without taking off your ears.

Needless to say, it was the most miserable day I had ever had to that point.  Friends  who always told the truth even insisted that it “wasn’t that bad.” That was no ringing endorsement.  No one said it was “nice” or good or even OK. It wasn’t.   It was awful.  Moving on ......

Yesterday was my birthday. It has never been my favorite day ... until yesterday. Part of it has to do with all the wishes you get on Facebook. I  never had any idea how many people would pop up to wish me well.  There were, unexpectedly,  a great many of them.  Most importantly, Jordan, Clare and my friends were visiting from Nebraska. I adore them and their kids.  We all went out for brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup (it is exactly what it sounds like).  Kim, the mom and a former student of mine, as well as a close political friend, later “ordered in” and had a terrific evening.

There’s nothing wrong with being with surrounded with people you love, and get greetings from people who want to remain part of your life.  So maybe this birthday was a turning point in birthday celebrations.  From now on and forever more I will look forward to my “special day” and I will just hope to always be surrounded with the people I love.  Doesn’t that sound like fun.  We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Who Told These Folks What to Do?

Some random political thoughts.  The Democrats took quite a beating on the 4th.  It was well deserved.  There were so many mistakes made, I don't even know where to begin. Well let's start with the fact that so much money was spent on places that were not winnable, and states where there might have been a chance, went the way of a Chicken without a head --  they supposedly run  around in circles.  Actually, I never saw a chicken without a head but my grandfather once described killing a chicken. He was not unkind or insensitive — he made his living as a  butcher.  Which reminds me of a family story we were oft told... Don't you love the word oft? It saves so much time and sounds almost elegant.  There was a woman who was the wife of a friend. She was a nice woman but she was also a kleptomaniac. Every Friday, winter or summer she wore a big fur coat, went into the butcher shop, perused the supply of dead chickens, picked  the one she liked best and hung it by the neck between her legs on a belt under the fur coat.  Her husband and my grandfather had a deal. She would abscond with a chicken and her husband would pay for it later.  It's just another chicken story and I was trying to make point, but I forgot what the point was.  Probably something that had to do with absconding or running around in circles.

Anyway, there are plenty of pundits who said that the results were a result of Obama's policies, not the man.  Well, of course, that's just bull pucky.  Not only did the Republicans despise what they considered a lack of leadership, the Democrats felt the same way. The candidates ran away from an Administration always on the edge of disaster.  The African Americans were pissed that candidates denied any relationship with the President, and then expected them to turn out the vote.  There are lots of reasons why candidates ran from the President, but how stupid of them to think there would not be consequences.  "Strategists"  who determined that support for the President would be a death knoll for their campaign were just wrong.  It would have been easy for every Democratic candidate to say " I don't always agree with the President, but look at the deficit, jobs, saving GM, and health care."  People generally do not vote for people who have no courage, no common sense, and no loyalty.  It does not matter what the President did or did not do. People were ready for a change.  The Republicans might have been obstructionists but the Democrats were In the majority and nothing got done Sooooo...

The election was a referendum on the party in power. There was nothing that was going to change the outcome. And look at who now represents the Republican Party. The candidates were young, enthusiastic and diverse. A much more interesting group of politicians.  A female war veteran, more women, even some minorities -- some. Not your grandparents’ Republicans.

Now what happens?  The victors move into their small crowded offices.  They have to learn the language and the subtleties.  They have to be put on committees, and they actually have to determine what they want to get done. This requires outlining goals and most important picking a staff that understands the difference between campaigning and governing.  Something the President and his people never did.

The new elected officials need to put away the trivia and understand there is no shame in having political operatives as part of your team. These are people who know how to get things done.  And who  can find ways to move the country forward. The only shame is not meeting constituent expectations and failing to play nicely with others.

You want a bottom line, because I happen to have one. The President is not going to change. Like any kid who went to upscale private schools, he can't believe he did anything wrong. He generally doesn't like people, let alone Republican people.  There are few political strategists that are as cynical as am I. However, these next few years are going to be a long haul for the Democrats, a desert without any possibility for an oasis.  We all need to pull up our big girl panties and be cautious but optimistic about the future, especially those of us who want our children to have a future... Bad or good, at least a future. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Political Heroism

With all the garbage political ads on tv there is only one that makes any sense and showcases what it means to be a real political hero.  There are so many elected officials that give lip service to how important it is to work with the opposition, but none of them mean it, or for that matter,  know how to do that.  Sean Patrick Maloney, the Congressman from the 18th District in NY, defeated Nan Hayworth two years ago. His victory was a surprise, but it shouldn't have been. 
And though we like Sean and think his win is important for the district, he is not the hero about which I spoke.

Sean is openly gay, he has a husband and three adopted mixed race children. Nan has an openly gay son, who likes her very much and insists in a commercial, that she is not an extremist. In some of Nan's commercials she calls herself a radical. Maybe you can explain the difference between and extremist and a radical, but neither would be someone with whom I would feel comfortable.  Elected officials can be, and usually are Right or Left of center, but the radicals/extremists, like the Tea Party candidates, are ideologues who care nothing about moving the country forward. They are opposed to working with anyone who is not of like mind. And they admittedly do not like the government and simply want to get rid of it, without an alternative. The only issue about which they want the government involved is to prohibit abortion and women making their own decisions about their bodies.  Nan has repeatedly voted against human rights for women. And the level of her commercials is infantile. My favorite is when she has a number of giggling constituents calling Congressman Maloney, a phoney baloney.  Surely she should have thought that one through.  That commercial and the others she approved defend her record of consistently being out of touch.

The 18th District is fairly conservative and Republican. In fact, my choice of courageous hero is State Senator Bill Larkin, who is a Sensible conservative. Yes they do exist, but maybe not in the same way that Senator Larkin does.  In more than one of Congressman Maloney's ads Senator Larkin appears to say that Sean is a guy who crosses party politics to make a difference in the district he represents, and Sean has an excellent record on veterans’ issues.  There is no question that if Maloney is reelected he owes his victory to Senator Larkin, who makes the endorsement at his own political expense. But Senator Larkin cares deeply about the people he represents.  He is the real thing.  He is the elected official that everyone should want to call their own. Honest, visionary, a straight shooter, proud, and without any self-engradizing rhetoric, he says what he thinks and, it is always something we have have unfortunately very little of -- the truth. Oh and as an extra added attraction Bill Larkin is a good guy.  These qualities are sadly, not easy to find in many elected officials. The Senator is a hero. This from a liberal (but sensible) Liberal Democrat.

The idiocy of politics is that politicians think that in order to win they need to name call and lie about their opposition. Statistically, negative ads are more successful than campaigning with facts -- which is why we see so much of it. Wouldn't it be great if all candidates could cross parties and work together to make positive decisions about the future. If only we could clone Senator Larkin, the country would be in a much different place. We’re just sayin’… Iris