Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Our Experience...

This will probably go down in the history book as the most devastating hurricane to hit the northeast. They gave us plenty of warning. Many were skeptical that it would be so bad because we have never lived through anything as bad as this storm, in terms of damage. The fact that it was a category 1 storm was deceptive because the totality of the situation created more of a category 4 type of destructive flooding. I am still trying to absorb all the problems being reported in the news this morning.

We live in inland, in an old house. I imagined the shingles flying off with the 90 mph winds being forecasted. I was most worried about the two side by side trees in the backyard. They are very tall with full branches and if they came down they would land on my daughter’s bedroom. After hearing me worry about the trees enough times, my daughter agreed to sleep downstairs, on the couch, out of harm’s way. All we could do was watch and wait the entire day. It rained lightly all day, but around 7 PM the winds started howling, the windows rattling and I even felt my bed vibrate. Still it was nothing compared to what was happening along the coastline to so many others. 

We had an early dinner in case we suddenly lost power. My brother, who lives not even a mile away from us, lost power. He was not prepared for the storm. He was irritated. He called me on his cell. We had a couple of conversations. This is how it went. 

Vin: My power went out.

Me: Your power always goes out, I told you to get a small generator.

Vin: A generator needs to go outside and only lasts eight hours.

Me: Do you have candles?

Vin: I bought some at the dollar store that were supposed to last 25 hours and I’m lucky if they lasted three.

Me: Oh brother. Do you have a book to read to pass the time?

Vin: What am I supposed to do? Read by candlelight?

Me: It was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, it should be good enough for you.

Vin: (losing patience with me): I’m not doing that. I took out my little DVD player, I had it charged, but the battery is dead now.

Me: Can’t you charge it with your desktop computer?


Me: Oh, I forgot.

Vin: I don’t even have extra batteries home.

Me: Well tonight you better make a list of all the things you need to do for the next storm so you aren’t so unprepared.

Vin: Yeah okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Me: Okay, bye.

My family stayed in the living room, where there are no windows and more importantly, the large screen television and the girls’ laptops and phones. All life’s necessities were there and a short distance from food and snacks. 

I watched the news all day, until I got a headache. Some areas were already under water while we were still waiting for the storm to hit here. At least I was in peace knowing that my husband and girls were home and safe. There is nothing more worrisome than to have your family out and scattered during a storm of any kind and waiting for them to get home. My younger daughter actually starts work next week, so she was able to spend yesterday and today and who knows how many more days, with her sister. I actually don’t remember the last time we are all home together and it wasn’t a holiday or something. My older daughter’s new job is on the block with the falling, dangling crane. Yeah, can you believe that? Her block was evacuated because of that. The crane will probably be easier to fix than the subway flooding. We don’t know how or when she will be able to get back to work right now.

I went to sleep, surprisingly. My daughter did honor her promise to sleep on the couch. I woke up at midnight from an emergency service call of some kind…then they called again at 2 am. I finally pulled the plug out of the wall. I suppose some needed those calls, but I didn’t. I got up this morning. The trees were intact, the shingles were still on the house. My daughter was on the couch at 5:30 am. I woke her up and finally made her go up to her bed so she can sleep in. The girls are still sleeping. I called my brother, who is still without power. I told him to pack whatever he needs to charge and bring it over. I can feed him lunch and dinner while he occupies himself with the internet. He tells me maybe he will come…never gives me a definite answer, but he has nothing else to do.

We got away with murder, to say the least. The next order of business is figuring out how my brother and daughter can get back to work. My brother will be totally preoccupied with his lack of power, but I think it will take a while to fix that. I am guessing they will send all Con Ed employees into Manhattan first.

That’s our story. I’m glad I don’t have anything major to report. I guess I will see how the devastated parts of the city affect our lives in the days ahead. For now we will pray for those impacted the most by the storm...and there are too many of those.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

9/11 Attacks On Benghazi…

No one asked my opinion, but when has that ever stopped me from talking? I’ve been reading about the recent develops, the leaked emails, Tyrone Woods father’s comments, etc and it’s like putting together 1,000 piece puzzle in the dark. I have had many family members and friends serve in the military throughout my lifetime. I have been blessed in that none of them came to any harm and after serving their country; they all came back home to us safe and sound. But, if any of them had been hurt or lost their lives, you can bet I would want to know the complete and unaltered truth of what happened, every detail of it. And, I would want those, who have all the pieces, to put the puzzle together for me and fast.

Now when I first heard about the attack, the only thing I heard was that it was being blamed on a, anti-Islam film produced here. I have to say that this bothered me. I know it doesn’t take much to provoke a terrorist attack, but I wondered why the attack took place where it did. Why that embassy? Why over a film? Why were these particular Americans killed? Something didn’t sit well with me about it all. 

During the debate, it was brought out that the day after the attack that President Obama said we would not put up with terrorist attacks, but he did not call this incident a terrorist attack. Instead, we heard a lot more about this film in the days thereafter. At the time I suppose I thought that our intelligence had good reason to believe the attack was in some way related to this “movie” and they were taking steps to find those responsible for the murders. 

In the past couple of days, emails have been leaked, and they indicate that a terrorist group took credit for the attack. It’s been reveal that there was communication with the people at the embassy, during the time of the attack, and that they were asking for help. I won’t pretend I know all the facts, because I don’t. What I do know is that four Americans were killed, there was reason to believe it was a terrorist attack, no help was apparently being sent and that military personnel may have even been ordered not to go into the area. There has to be a lot more to it. But what exactly? That's my issue, the truth.

I dislike it when facts are twisted until you don’t recognize them any more. I detest lies. I am not satisfied that the truth about this attack has been revealed. I am not happy with the time it is taking for all the details to come out. The victims families deserve to know the whole truth about how their loved ones died. How much was our government aware of, and what was done or not done to protect them or to try to save them? If it was my family member, I would want to know the truth. And, the American people deserve the truth about our enemies. 

What bothers me too is Hillary Clinton’s statement about the emails that were recently released. She cautioned against "cherry picking one story here or one document there" and said it is critical to look at the totality of information before coming to any conclusions. There may be some merit in her comment, but where are all the documents? Where is the “totality of information?” What is being held back? Why are we waiting until after the election for a committee to review all the information? Will the truth change the outcome of the election? Are they waiting until they have captured all those responsible? Is withholding the information a matter of national security? Why was it being blamed on the film when there were strong indications this was a terrorist attack? Why are we being left in the dark to draw our own conclusions? 

I don’t take terrorism lightly. Having lived through the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City was a life changing event. Our lives are still being affected by it today. “If you see something, say something,” is our city’s slogan for citizens who see suspicious  packages or people. Airport security is horrendous. We can’t even bring enough toiletries with us to last a week. My daughter’s bag was even being checked daily at the subway station a couple of months ago. So, when there us an act of terrorism, why aren’t we being told about it and why is it being blamed on a film?

I suspect that the truth will come out. I think there are more emails in the wings waiting to be exposed. It would have been better to deal with the truth head on, at the time of the attack and let the chips fall where they may. Now it appears, for whatever reason, that we may have been mislead, the facts misrepresented, the truth concealed. I can’t help but ask why? The conclusions I am being forced to draw are not very good.

I hope and pray George Woods and the families of Glen Doherty, Chris Stevens, Sean Smith get the answers they are looking for. They deserve at least that much. They have been the most affected by this tragedy. They should not be mislead or misinformed or lied to. They have suffered devastating losses. It’s appalling that Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, has to wonder and say, “Just tell me the truth... I look at TV and I see bloody hand prints on walls, thinking, my god, is that my son's? I don't know if he was shot. I don't know.” Somebody knows. Stop “cherry picking” what you tell these families and tell them the truth.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Donald Trump’s 5 Million Dollar Offer Refused

A friend of mine was curious about my opinion regarding Donald Trumps five million dollar offer to President Obama. Trump says he would give five million dollars to any charity of the President’s choice if he produces college transcripts and his passport. Frankly, I would have taken him up on his offer if I were the president, because certainly the information is readily available. However the president might be a little busy these days and have time to entertain the pathetic meanderings of an attention seeking, faux-celebrity who is attempting to distract everyone’s focus from the election and issues. So Trump made an offer that the president didn’t fall for and wisely refused.

Why would Trump make such an offer just days before the presidential election? There is a ton of speculation. I think he made the offer to get media attention for himself, and he succeeded. Five million dollars may not be a lot of money to Trump, but to most of us it is a huge sum of money. It’s enough of a story to have media sources clamoring. Why else might Trump have made the offer? Trump was the most annoying voice demanding to see President Obama’s birth certificate. Now that the birth certificate has been produced, he is trying to stir the pot again, with the same doubting voters, asking for the release of other documentation. However, I read somewhere that even the Republicans are not happy with this transparent ploy. Trump is bringing up an old strategy that has been put to rest, while the GOP has moved on to making the economy their main issue. So Trump is like an annoying fly, buzzing around and making noise and distracting people from the main issues in order to bring attention to himself. And, as Trump is associated with the GOP, he isn’t doing anything to advance Romney’s cause with this ill timed, feeble gimmick.

Now, here is where I have to make a confession. I was reading and skimming various news items quickly and, being distracted by personal issues of my own, I misread: Trump, 5 billion dollars and Romney. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was a joke, because what I actually thought I read was Trump Offers Romney 5 Billion Dollars if he will release 10 years of tax returns. Yes, that is the God’s honest truth. That made more sense to me that the actual facts, even when they were pointed out to me. Now, what we need is a wealthy democrat offering a similar deal to Romney. If Romney will produce his tax returns they will give five million dollars to the 47% of the country he insulted. That is, before he switched to running for president of 100% of the country. 

So what did Trump accomplish? He didn’t hurt President Obama, who laughed off his offer, along with most of America. He made Romney and the GOP look bad. And, he made a laughing stock out of himself.

With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Cousin Lenny...

Yesterday, my cousin Lenny passed away. Len was like a second father to me, even though he had five children of his own. He loved kids, he loved his family. He was a family man above everything else in life. He will be greatly missed.

Lenny was a big man, over six feet tall and over 200 pounds. He towered over us when we were little. He was the biggest person on my side of the family, but what was even bigger than his outer physique, was his heart. He always put on a tough exterior, but inside he was kind, sensitive and gentle. He was easily hurt and moved to tears. You had to really know him well to know that about him. What made him happiest was having his family all around him.

When he was 18 and out of high school, he enlisted in the military. It wasn’t long before he called his high school sweetheart and asked her to marry him. She went to meet him and they married near where he was stationed. It was a small wedding, no family members were present. In 2006, I went to their 50th wedding anniversary. Their children put together a wonderful slide show of the years they spent together. A montage of all the people who were important in their lives. It was very touching and brought many of us there to tears.

My cousin Lenny was my mother’s nephew, not just in name, but in personality traits, attitude and looks. He could have been her son. My brother and I would spend our summers with his family when we were teenagers. He lived in the suburbs and we lived in the city. He always welcomed us with open arms. It was our home away from home. My mother and father would visit us there every weekend and it was really a special time in all our lives.

I have so many thoughts and memories swimming through my head this morning, like how he loved those Nabisco dark chocolate graham crackers. I loved them too. There were only 15 in a package and he would eat them all, with a quart of milk, at one sitting. I remember how he would come home from work in the afternoon, open the mail and ask if anyone called and then eat a whole Entenmann’s cake right before dinner. The nights he was home watching baseball, he would snack on things, but mostly I remember the huge bowls of Breyers ice cream that he loved most. He loved his sweets.

It wasn’t easy supporting five kids either. He insisted that his wife stay home to raise them, so he worked three jobs to make ends meet and pay the mortgage. He had a full time job in the day with the railroad, worked at a local gas station at night and at his father’s dry cleaning store on Saturdays. It was a struggle at times. 

I remember the first summer I went to stay with Lenny and his family. In was in 1967 and they had three children at that time. I was supposed to be staying for a week. But, during that week he went out and bought a four foot swimming pool for the backyard. He had it assembled by the time I was supposed to go home. He asked me if I wanted to stay an extra week so I could enjoy the pool. Truth be told, I was homesick and didn’t care for pools, but I felt bad to say so. I called my mother and asked if I could stay another week, she agreed. If not for that second week, I may not have gone back summer after summer. It was during that time that I really got comfortable and over my shyness, felt at home and part of their family. 

Sometimes I think my cousin Lenny didn’t consider himself a “successful” man. He had ordinary jobs, made average salaries and he worked hard every day of his life. But, in my eyes, he was one of the most successful men I have ever known. He had a long marriage of 56 years with a wife who loved him and catered to his every need. He had the love of five beautiful children, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. He was big, but gentle. He was hard, but sensitive. He was tough, but loving. He had his priorities straight from the very beginning…family first. He instilled his family values in his children. 

If the true measure of a man’s life lies in the capacity of his heart for love and kindness, providing for his family, the love and respect he has inspired in his loved ones, his hard work and honesty, and the many hearts he has touched, then my cousin Lenny was a great man. He will live on in his children and their children. He will be missed and never forgotten.

Rest in peace, Lenny, I love you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Brother, My Friend...

My brother was born when I was two and a half years old. I may not remember what you told me yesterday, but I remember the day my mother and father brought him home from the hospital.

My mother left me with my three aunts and grandmother when she went to give birth. It was a lousy day in February and my uncle was afraid to drive her because of snow and ice, so she had to call a car service. My aunts took care of me for the couple of days she was away. The day she walked through the door, she was holding my brother in her arms. She took one look at me and put him down on the couch. As she came to give me a hug she said, “What the hell did they do to you?”  From what I could gather, she didn’t like the way they had my hair or how I was dressed. My mother always had my hair brushed so every strand was in place and I was clean and nicely dressed. I guess all of their care didn’t measure up to her standards. I didn’t care about any of that, I was just glad to have my mother back. Those couple of days seemed like an eternity to me.

The next weeks and months I watched my mother as she did all the necessary baby things. She washed diapers, sterile the bottles in a huge pot and then filled them with formula. What ever she did, I was right by her side. My brother was cute. Sometimes he would laugh in his sleep, and that kind of scared me. I enjoyed having a baby brother, at least for a while.

My brother soon grew into an annoying toddler. He never wanted to play with his own toys. Instead he would constantly try to take my dolls and doll carriage away from me. He would cry and I would complain to my mother, but it was always the same, “let him play with it, he is just a baby.” Whenever we got in trouble, it was always me on the hot seat because I was “older and should know better.”  However, he wasn’t so bad after he outgrew this stage.

Before long, I had to go to school. It was a big change in my life. I really didn’t like the idea and I would cry for my mother to take me back home. My mother, who is no stranger to lying, thought up a clever ruse. She told me my brother was sick and she had to go home and call the doctor. What five year old can argue with that? So off she went and there I stayed. This went on for a couple of days, maybe even a week. I don’t know how I fell for it, because I was a very smart kid at 5. I think I just blindly believed everything my mother told me. I did ask her, “Isn’t he ever going to get better?” But, eventually, my mother dropped her story and I adjusted to going to school.

My brother and I played together more than most brothers and sisters might have throughout their childhoods. We were raised in a four room, railroad apartment until we were in our twenties. We played in front of the house and in the backyard. We went to the same schools and had many of the same teachers. We’ve shared just about everything in life. We can tell each other anything. The one thing my mother always tried to instill in us is that we should always love and care for each other. She would make that speech every now and then. She told us one day she and my father wouldn’t be around and we would only have each other. We understood what she was trying to say and her prayers were answered. My brother and I love each other unconditionally and we have always been there for each other no matter what. I know he loves my girls as though they were his own. He has always been good to me and my family and he visits us nearly every Sunday afternoon to tell us a lively story or two about the pet peeves in his life.

I have tried to instill the same thing in my own girls. They are also very close. They always have been, growing up together almost the same way my brother and I did. They have gone their separate ways since hitting their twenties. College, jobs, their social lives have caused them to spend less time together, as happened with my brother and I. But they make an effort to spend time together, to share similar interests and I love it when I hear them laughing together. I know there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. I never had to give them my mother’s speech. I know nothing will come between them, just like my brother and I. And the certainty of knowing that gives me great peace of mind.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Toilet Training...In One Easy Session!

My memory goes back pretty far, to when I was two years old. I may not remember what you said yesterday, but I have some vivid memories of my past and one of them is of my toilet training. As always, my mother didn’t read Dr. Spock when it came to parenting. She always had her own unique and sometimes unorthodox style of handling various situations. This is one of them. I am going to share it with the world!

My mother got married late in life. She was 36 years old when she married and had me when she was 38. She already lost what little patience she might have had and her biological clock was ticking away. She got pregnant with my brother before I was two and was due to have him when I was two and a half. Back then there were no Pampers, just those cloth diapers that you had to wash. There was just no way my mother was going to wash diapers for two! She made up her mind that I should be toilet trained before my brother got here and she made sure it happened.

One day she takes me into the bathroom and sits me on the huge toilet and tells me to make “poop” or whatever she called it back then. Now, mind you, she didn’t buy a cover for the toilet seat to make the hole smaller or get me a little step stool so my feet could feel something solid under them. You have no idea how high up a toilet seat is or how big the hole seems to a petite two year old girl. I might as well have been sitting over the Grand Canyon as scared as I was. But, I knew enough not to complain. I was a smart toddler. I was so frightened sitting there, half in the hole with my feet dangling, not knowing what to do. So, I held on to the sink with my right hand and to the hamper with my left hand, for dear life, and just sat there. It seemed I sat there for a very long time. It’s kind of hard to get motivated to “go” when you are a bit terrified of falling down a hole. I didn’t want to get flushed down the toilet if I fell in! That's all I could think of. So I sat there. My mother would check on me every once in a while to see how I was holding up. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, I complied with my mother’s “on demand” request, and she was very pleased at the results. I was relieved to get off the “hot” or “cold” seat, depending how you look at it. I couldn’t wait to put that traumatic experience behind me. Goes to show you how little I knew…

My mother put a little pair of white underwear on me. She smiled a big smile and told me, “Now you are a BIG girl! You tell me when you have to make #1 or #2, so you can use the toilet. And, if you ever go in your underwear again, I’ll kill you.”

As far as my memory serves me, I was toilet trained from that day on, so help me God. Mission accomplished!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Eggs Don't Break...

Many years ago, while visiting my cousin in Florida, we were having a lively conversation around the kitchen table, that turned into a debate. My brother, my mother, my cousin and her brother and I were all in the kitchen My brother brings up the fact that you can’t break an egg in your hand, no matter how hard you squeeze it. My cousin’s brother didn’t believe it. This went on for several minutes until the inevitable happened.

My cousin’s brother got up from the table and went to the refrigerator to get an egg. He walked over to the sink and held the egg in the palm of his hand. He asked my brother which way do you want me to hold it. My brother and I are standing right there to watch “supposedly” nothing happen. My mother and cousin were across the room, still at the table chatting about how stupid we were. 

The moment of truth arrives as my cousin’s brother announces he will now crush the egg. He applies pressure, the egg breaks and the contents go flying! Some of the egg got on the curtains above the kitchen sink. However, the bulk of the yolk went flying across the room and landed on my mother’s head…prompting a cursing streak from my mother and hysterical laughter from everyone else. My cousin was not too amused, after she stopped laughing, because she had to wash her curtains.


Another egg story, also many years ago. As a teenager I was fascinated with eggs. My mother broke them so perfectly that when you joined the two halves together, you could not even see the crack. Sometimes I would use Elmer’s glue and glue the halves together for the fun of it. This was well before we had iphones and computers and had to use our imaginations. This little pass time of mine got me an A on a college art project when I cut out a large egg shape from white cardboard and filled it with empty glued eggshells. The art professor loved it.

Now, my mother had a mischievous thought one day. We were going to visit a friend of hers that we hadn’t seen in a long time. She tells me to glue a few eggs together for her to bring to her friend’s house. After all the “hellos” and hugs, and while her friend, Mary, is distracted taking our coats to another room, my mother put’s the fake eggs into her refrigerator with her other eggs. Mary comes out and they start chatting. My mother tells Mary that she learned how to juggle eggs. Mary laughs. I laugh. My mother goes into the refrigerator and removes the fake eggs to show her how she does it. Mary starts saying, “No, no!” My mother begins throwing the eggs into the air and they all land on the floor. Mary is looking all over for the yolks. My mother is dying laughing. Mary is calling her crazy while exclaiming, “Where are the yolks? I can’t find the yolks!” It took a good while to calm down enough to be able to talk and tell her it was a joke. My mother had a spare egg to show her what we had done. My mother then took her broom and swept up the shells.

I have to say that these were two of the most funny moments in my life! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

American Horror Story: Asylum, Welcome To Briarcliff, Ep 201

I have to say that I was riveted by season one of American Horror Story, though I found it confusing and hard to follow in the beginning. I wished I had blogged it because I think I would have appreciated it even more and understood what was going on a lot sooner. I am going to try to blog the important events as best I can. I find myself confused and lost once again this season. Forgive me if I get a few things wrong.

The “Asylum” is called Briarcliff Manor. We get flashbacks to the 1960’s, when it was open and run by Sister Jude. The setting is creepy and very dark and worse still are the “patients.” The official description of the series reads: “A church-run haven for the criminally insane, ruled with an iron fist by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), a nun with a troubled past… From Nazis and serial killers, to mutants and aliens, no one is safe inside these walls.” I could never have summed it up so well!

The story opens with newlyweds, Leo and Theresa, taking a romp inside the very old, run down, and empty asylum. Why a newlywed couple find that intriguing is beyond me. However we find the couple is very compatible as they both get turned on by the unsettling atmosphere and decide to get intimate in the “Death Chute,” an underground tunnel where they would get rid of dead bodies. However, they never really consummate their plans because Leo’s arm gets ripped out of it’s socket when he sticks it through a cell door, and Theresa runs around screaming and trying to get out and get help. 

Theresa’s screams lead us to a flashback to the 60’s, where we meet Kit Walker aka “Bloody Face.” Kit runs a gas station in the south and has a black bride, which was frowned upon in that era. After a session of love making with his bride, she goes off to make him dinner and an extremely bright light flashes into the bedroom. Kit runs out of the house with a shotgun. He hears his wife scream and when he returns into the house he is confronted by the blinding white light, deafening noise and is pulled up to the ceiling.

Meanwhile, at the asylum, Lana Winters, a reporter, pretends she wants to do a story on the asylum’s bakery, but she really wants to meet “Bloody Face.” She is greeted by one of the residents who she believes to be harmless. However, the creepy looking, insane, deformed drawf-like creature has killed her sister’s baby and cut it’s ears off. Lana meets with Sister Jude and tries to get her to agree to letting her talk to “Bloody Face” for three minutes. “Bloody Face” is due to arrive at the asylum within minutes where he will remain until his trial. Kit “Bloody Face” Walker is supposed to be a serial killer of women and has gotten his name from the fact that he wears a mask made of human flesh. Sister Jude is annoyed with Lana for trying to “con” her and if we know anything about Jessica Lange’s characters, you do NOT cross them! 

Then we meet Grace, the asylum resident who takes a liking to “Bloody Face” and befriends him. There is a good looking priest, Timothy Howard, who considers Sister Jude his right arm. At dinner he tells her when his is promoted from Bishop to Cardinal to Pope, she will be going right along with him. Sister Jude loves that idea, but she loves the idea of screwing Father Tim even more, and fantasizes about it at dinner. We are also introduced to Dr. Arthur Arden, who Sister Jude doesn’t like at all. She accuses him of doing something with the four bodies, who died without family, and mysteriously disappeared. He blows her off. Not the best idea to tick off Sister Jude, but I am the only one who picked up on that! I get the impression that Dr. Arden is a modern day Dr. Frankenstein and is creating his own “monsters” in the asylum, as if there weren’t enough of them already in there. 

Dr. Arthur finds himself alone with Kit Walker and performs a procedure removing a foreign, spiderlike implant from his neck. The implant is alive and takes off and I’m sure we will see it again, don’t you?

And Lana can’t seem to take no for an answer, so she returns to the asylum and sneaks around, trying to find “Bloody Face” only to get caught. Who could have seen this coming? It seems good old Sister Jude has managed to blackmail Lana’s lesbian lover into committing her.  Lana is now a permanent resident of Briarcliff. 

And so ends episode one. I am going to try to catch it on demand and watch it again. I just know I missed some fascinating little twist, turns and foreshadowing! What did you think? I think Asylum is off to a great start and can’t wait to see what happens next week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clink of a Glass…

For the Clink of a Glass…

Yesterday was Sunday and, as usual, my brother Vin pays us an afternoon visit. With every visit comes a story. This week the story was one that I relate to and I am going to try and do it justice here. 

My brother knows a co-worker of German descent, we will call her Greta, who is married to Sean, of Irish descent. He tells us that Greta always has stories of her in-laws every week. The closest he can get us to understand this is to compare it to Everybody Loves Raymond. He says the in-laws have two sons, one who they didn’t care if he got married, and Sean, who they didn’t want to marry Greta. My brother says that Greta worked for a long time helping Sean, while he was building up a new business and it started to make money. Then they had two little girls. Sean’s father works for him in his company. 

Vin was talking to Greta this week and she tells him about the “clinking of the glass” incident. Apparently, Greta and Sean were at some kind of family celebration and when it came time for the toast, Greta unintentionally did not “clink” her glass with her mother in-law. The mother in-law took this oversight as a huge insult. Suffice to say that the in-laws have not been talking to Greta and Sean for quite some time. Greta has been telling Sean just apologize if that is what they want and be over with it. 

Now as it happens, Greta and Sean’s daughter had a birthday recently. You might be wondering if the in-laws made an appearance? No, they did not. The feud continues and the father in-law dropped off a present for his granddaughter in Sean’s office. Sean was understandably upset because now he has to try to explain to his daughter why her grandparents won’t be at her birthday. All for the clink of a glass!

Greta tells Vin that they have always alternated holidays and this Thanksgiving is her turn. She wonders if her in-laws will be coming. Then she tells my brother, if they don’t come, she will invite “us” over (my brother and our family) because she really wants to meet us. Turns out Greta and Sean live right in my neighborhood too. There is something about Greta I really like! 

Okay so if Greta had her own blog, this would make a great story. But all the while my brother was talking, I looked at him in wide eyed amazement. I kept saying are you sure her in-laws aren’t Italian? I have never a story like this, that could have easily happened to me word for word! My brother laughs and says no, they aren’t Italian. My next thought goes to a nice Thanksgiving dinner that I don’t have to cook! All for the clink of a glass!

Now aside from the fact that this story sounds like an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, or a page out of my book, the situation is actually very sad. People waste so much precious time with petty foolishness. Who knows what tomorrow will bring or if anyone of us will wake up tomorrow? Is this the way you want to spend the last of your days, if your time is suddenly up? Sometimes people need a wake-up call, an adjustment of their priorities, or a smack in the head! Get over the clink of a glass!

PS My brother adds this post-script:

She called the mother in law and told her she was sorry about the incident and that it was unintentional and her mother in law called her a liar. Her mother in law said that she has always been rude to her. She tried to tell her that she had a $15 martini in her hand and that she did not want it all over the table.

She called her husband and told him what happened. The father was there and was happy to hear about the call but didn't know what his wife had said. The husband is going to call the mother tomorrow.

The mother thinks its best if she keeps her distance. That includes the grand kids.

Mom would be rolling over in her grave right now. She never had enough time with the kids.

Oh well...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rewriting History..Without Slavery

Wouldn’t it be great if we could rewrite history and take out all the bad things that happened? It would be better still if they never happened at all. Now that’s what some educators have been trying to do in the states of Texas, Tennessee and God knows where else. They want to remove slavery from the history books in school, or if not, at least put a good spin on it. I was stunned to read a few articles on the subject this morning. I wasn’t aware that this expunging of slavery was going on, although I have heard it said quite a few times, that there are people who don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened, even with raw footage of the atrocities from WWII Germany posted all over the internet.

Whatever happened to the saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?” (George Santayana). How are we going to remember it, if it’s existence is eradicated from books?

There are some of the things I have read in total disbelief.  In Texas they want to rename slavery as “Atlantic triangular trade” in their children’s history books. Later this was changed to trans-Atlantic slave trade. They want to eliminate slavery, minimize it or “white wash” it. To add to this, from what I have read, the state of Texas buys so many textbooks that it will greatly influence what publishers decide to put in ALL textbooks, which may impact children’s education all over the country.

In Tennessee, the Tea Party, wants to protect the “reputation” of the founding fathers, so they want to edit out that they owned slaves . They also want to “adjust” how Native Americans were treated. In other words they want the founding fathers to appear “perfect and flawless,” or at least look as good as possible. Basically, they want to replace true and well documented historical events with lies and deception, and then teach this altered version in the classroom. Are we going to teach our children lies? 

Why is this happening? Well, there are certain groups who believe that the history we have learned for decades, has a “liberal slant.” The fact that slavery existed, our founding fathers owned them, that Native Americans lost their homeland, and that both groups were very badly abused, and so much more, is just a “liberal slant?” And these are just some of the most shocking and radical of several changes planned to be implemented over the next decade.

Recently, Republican Representative of Arkansas, Jon Hubbard, wrote in a self-published book, that slavery was a “blessing in disguise.” His reasoning? " ... the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth." (Pages 183-89)  He says many other ignorant things, including: "Wouldn't life for blacks in America today be more enjoyable and successful if they would only learn to appreciate the value of a good education?" (Page 184) Read more here: http://www.arktimes.com How wonderful for African Americans! Makes you wonder why they have been angry for over 200 years! (Insert sarcasm).

There are some that say insist that racism is over in this country. There is no need for any Affirmative Action. Really? I am not black, but I know there is still plenty of racism. A few years ago, when a friend was here visiting me, we took a walk to a neighborhood store. We picked up a few items and brought them to the counter. I paid for mine with my credit card. My friend took out her credit card and was asked to present her ID with it. I wasn’t asked for ID. My friend is black. She took notice of this little “slight” and mentioned it to me. I felt embarrassed for even taking her into that store.  The is just a tiny example of how ingrained racism is in many in this country. It may be so ingrained they may not even be consciously aware of it. But it comes out and shows itself in plenty of situations. Why do we need to have laws against “racial profiling” if racism doesn’t exist? 

And now, there are those that are comfortable with eliminating and/or rewriting history to say that slavery, as we know it to have been documented and have been taught, didn’t exist? How does any school system or group of educators reach this conclusion and think it is okay? How do you deny the truth? How does one deny the lynchings, the whippings, the rapes that took place? Someone please explain to me how this is okay? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comparing President Obama to Hitler…

Anne Frank, just one of six million Jews who did not survive
the Holocaust. She died at 16.

As unbelievable as that sounds, I’ve actually seen quite a few sites trying to make an argument that President Obama is like Hitler. To say that shocks me, is an understatement. I wish I was well versed in history to list all the atrocities committed by Hitler, but the death of six million Jews alone, should speak for itself. This man is quite possibly the worst human being to have ever walked the face of the earth, and yet somehow people feel justified in comparing him to our president.

Maybe we should revisit some of the crimes that Hitler was responsible for to show how wrong and ludicrous this comparison really is. Hitler has been referred to a “madman” because of the extent of his evil acts. He knew exactly what he was doing and it did it enthusiastically. His crimes were atrocities against Jews and mankind. Not only did he ordered the deaths of six million innocent Jews, men women and children, he caused World War II. Countless lives of all nationalities were lost in that war trying to stop his reign of terror. Does anyone remember the concentration camps, the mass graves, how body parts were put into baskets and later used to make soap?

Once, when I was in high school, I had a young, Jewish English teacher, Miss Dodes. I really liked this teacher a lot. She was enthusiastic and it was contagious. One day we were discussing the book, “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell. It was an allegorical book using symbolism to describe World War II. We were each given a symbol and told to explain how it relates to this historic event. One of my friends gave her speech on "Hitler’s Germany" and, when she was done, the teacher asked, "What about the killing of six million Jews? that had been left it out of her report. My friend answered, “I didn’t think that was important.” Miss Dodes blew a gasket! She took the comment to mean the girl didn’t think the Holocaust was important, but what she meant was that the Holocaust wasn’t depicted in the book, so she didn’t include it. Never-the-less, Miss Dodes would not let this rest because, like all Jews and many others, she believes the Holocaust should never be forgotten. The following day she brought in a very long, black and white documentary of actual footage of the Holocaust, from World War II Germany. It described and showed in graphic detail, the despicable, evil, unimaginable things that were done to the Jewish people and their corpses. If I forget everything that I ever learned in high school, I will never forget that video.

I know that everyone wants to make the opposing candidate look bad so their candidate will win an election. They will pull out every skeleton in their closet; drag their family through the mud; twist their words around and take them out of context; they will lie about them; they will contribute huge sums of money to their campaign; they will volunteer for their campaign…all in a collaborative effort to get their man elected. Both sides do it. It’s nothing new. But, when you try to demonize a man, any man, by comparing him to Hitler, you have crossed a line. Is anyone in the history of the world comparable to Hitler? Not in my mind. What little history I have learned throughout my education, no one even comes close to his crimes and reputation.

But, that’s not even the worst of it. What is worse and sadder still, in my opinion, is that while some are busy trying to demonize President Obama with this comparison, they are at the same time minimizing and trivializing the crimes against Jews and humanity by Hitler. They are disrespecting and insulting those who died in the Holocaust. How many Jewish people do you think would be happy or agree with this comparison? How does anyone agree with this comparison? I have no idea. None.

Joe Gandalman, a Jewish writer, doesn’t agree with it. He writes, “Several times before his 1973 death my grandfather Abraham Ravinsky would open his family photo album and show me pictures of men, women and children who had been our relatives in Russia who were among the many exterminated by Hitler. He’d point: “Killed by Hitler…killed by Hitler…killed by Hitler” He’d look at me, then go on, telling me a murdered relative’s name. I still think of those doomed little kids.”

And here’s another thing that occurs to me. There are those who may be trying to gain Jewish votes with this tactic, but their strategy will backfire. Comparing President Obama to Hitler is not going to score points, quite the opposite. They are touching on a very real, and still very painful nerve, mentioning Hitler. They are opening up old wounds and making them relive a tragic part of their history. It’s all very disturbing to me and I’m not Jewish.

And when I hear these comparisons being made, I remember one of my favorite books of all time, The Diary Of Anne Frank. It's the story of a 13 years old Jewish girl, whose family went into hiding in Holland. I had the inspiring privilege of visiting “The Annex,” where her family hid during World War II, when I was visiting Amsterdam many years ago. Her diary is well worth reading and you can find many graphic videos of the Holocaust online, similar to the one I saw in high school, if anyone is interested. I’m posting a short video of Anne Frank’s Diary below. Anne Frank did not survive the Holocaust, but thank God her diary did. It's been reported that, after the Bible, this is the most read book worldwide.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mugs For Christmas…

Every year I run out of gift ideas. It’s not easy, even with a short list of people to buy for, to come up with ideas everyone will like. Last year I decided to give everyone a nice, new mug. CVS was having a special on 15 oz. mugs for $11.99, if I remember right. I decided to look for some special pictures to put on each of my gift mugs and they were a hit last year.

For my husband, I selected a picture of his favorite Beatle album cover, which is Abbey Road. He listens to the Beatles all the time and I knew he would enjoy seeing that image on his mug every morning. My younger daughter was a little harder. She is not a long term, die hard fan of anything. But I happened to catch her watching reruns of “Sunny In Philadelphia” every night before dinner. It was obvious she was a fan of the show, so I found a picture of the cast, with the name of the show, for her mug. My daughter and her boyfriend had just taken a trip to Paris and London. I rummaged through their pictures and found one of the two of them with the London Bridge in the background. I made two identical mugs of that picture for the two of them.

My brother’s favorite movie is “Brokeback Mountain.” I have been wanting to get him a mug with a picture from that movie for a long time. There were tons of great pictures online and I picked one. I have to say everyone was really happy with their mugs. All I had to do was go online to the CVS site photo department, upload the photos and have them delivered to the store. It was so simple and the mugs turned out great. The best part is you can put just about anything you want or can find on a mug and make it very personal. Some mugs even let you add two different pictures, one on each side. If you like the idea you have plenty of time to do your homework…I thought of my idea at the last minute last year, but still got them in plenty of time.

I’m already scratching my head for ideas for this Christmas, but I just wanted to share this idea because it went over so well for me last year. Everyone needs a new mug every now and then.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Girls & Unemployment...

College kids today go through four years of school, accumulate massive debt and end up back on their parent's couch. Unemployment can be very discouraging. It's not just that they can't get into their field of study, but there aren't even other jobs to be had while they wait and look for their dream jobs.

My older daughter had a tough time of it when she graduated three and a half years ago. Not only was the job market in dire straights, but her majors in television and English weren’t getting her very far. The media is a very competitive industry where interns are desperately willing to work for nothing for school credit. Employers can afford to be choosy selecting employees and pay little. My daughter did find a “freelance” position with Time Warner. After several months they cut her hours due to budget cuts, and rather than sit home much of the time, she took a temporary job. This temporary job led to a full time job shortly after. It was at a plumbing company doing administrative work. They love her there, but because she is a quick study and very efficient, they began giving her too much to do. Every time they would give her a new job, they would never take away the old one to give to someone else. However, to keep her from leaving, they gave her healthy raises and bonuses, making it impossible for other employers to match. My daughter hated her job more and more every day. She has been looking for a new job for months, in the media industry. Finally, while we were in Florida, she gets a call from a production company. After a couple of interviews she gets the job. She is happy that today is her last day at the plumbing company, but she is taking a huge cut in pay to pursue her career. She can only afford to do this because she lives at home. Hopefully, she will be happy and productive at her new company. Money isn’t everything.

My younger daughter graduated this May and has been looking for work ever since. She majored in Medical Technology, which is supposed to be in high demand. After many months of sending out her resume, she was beginning to get concerned and discouraged. She graduated with honors and passed the licensing test with flying colors, but no job offers were coming her way. It’s frustrating after working so hard for four years. She had been told she will be a hot commodity after becoming licensed and then nothing happened for her. I shared her concern and prayed for her. I encouraged her even though I was worried. However, today she has a very promising interview at a state of the art laboratory that has facilities all over the world. She has two more interviews scheduled on Monday with two great hospitals. I really feel hopeful that she will be offered a job this time around.

When I graduated college back in 1976, the economy was a mess and there were no jobs to be had. I sent out a hundred resumes and cover letters, all typed by hand because we had no computers and printers. Out of that came two interviews, one at a big retail store in Manhattan, which I totally blew. The other interview was for a teller trainee at a bank. Thank God I got the second job because no other calls came for interviews. It wasn’t my ideal job, but it was a job. So, I understand how difficult my girls had it looking for work and how sometimes you have to take a job you don’t necessarily want until the one you want comes along.

I’m proud of both of them. They kept trying, even when discouraged. They networked with friends who had jobs to see if there were any openings available where they worked. And even at the worst of times, they were better off than most college graduates. They always had a roof over their heads and food on the table, no loans to pay off, no bills piling up. I think many kids today might take advantage of the situation and just freeload until they get the job of their dreams. But my girls always wanted to work and be independent. They worked very hard in school so that when they graduated they would be well prepared for their chosen careers. Unfortunately, the economic times made it very difficult, but they persevered.

I am anxious to see how my older daughter likes her new job. She starts on Tuesday. I am equally excited for my younger daughter, who may soon be able to put all her skills and education into a new career. As hard as they have worked, they deserve to be happy and working for someone who appreciates their strong work ethic.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When I Look In The Mirror...

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a democrat or bleeding heart liberal. But, when I look in the eyes of some of my friends, that is all I see in the reflection of their eyes. I’ve been reduced down to one element of my whole being. The casualties of the 2012 election are not over. So far, two friends unfriended me because I posted a quote about Romney’s money when I should have been posting about more serious issues. One “friend” called me a moron for agreeing with an article I posted. The same person called a friend of mine the “C” word and then went back and edited out the “u” so he didn’t look so “bad.” Then he had the audacity to tell my friend she should move out of “his country.” I generally don’t unfriend or block people, but I had to unfriend him.

Yesterday there was a discussion on facebook that I joined. The Obama “O” was being called a symbol while the Romney “R” was referred to as a logo. If you google Obama logo and/or symbol you get the “O.” If you google Romney logo/symbol, you get the “R.” I stated that they were both logos and a logo is a symbol. To which a friend of mine replied with the middle finger like so “┌∩┐..how's that for a symbol?” and her comment was promptly “liked” by another one of her very astute friends. Now what did I say that was so wrong? I have never been told, “F*ck you,” in my life by anyone, let alone a “friend.” I have never even said those words myself to anyone and it’s not because I never had good reason. However, I find it troubling, insulting, vulgar and rude. I would not respond in kind. But this incident gave me pause to think, because these are not the only people I am having issues with this election.

I have been online, chatting and talking to people I have never met or even spoken to on the phone, for years now. I can’t tell you how many of these people I feel I have been a good friend to. I am not trying to toot my own horn. I am just saying that I value people, I care about them, and would go out of my way to do whatever I can to help. Now I am going to mention a few things I have done, without mentioning names, because some of these acts were private and will always remain so. I help anyone, democrat or republican, I don’t consider their political views when I extend the hand of friendship. That’s who I am, not just a democrat. When you were unable to pay for a pet’s operation and I donated to the cause, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. And when I helped some of you provide a nice Christmas for your children when you weren’t able to, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. And when you were overwhelmed by some medical condition and needed someone to talk to or research doctors or remedies, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. When your expensive, new cell phones fell in the toilet and I offered you my old one, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. When your house had an eviction sign on the door and I helped stop the proceedings, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. When you needed someone to drop everything and listen to your problem, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. And when I offered good advice that made your life a little easier, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. When I tried to help you find financial aid for your daughter’s college education, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. When you requested prayers for yourself and family, you didn’t mind my being a democrat. But now, my being a democrat is all you see? It’s sad, if that’s true.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a democrat. I see a mother. I see a wife. I see a daughter. I see a sister. I see a friend. If you are reading this and all you see is a democrat when you look at me, I have a huge favor to ask of you. Please unfriend me now. It’s easy. Just a click of a button. Please don’t waste another second. Because when I look at you, I see a friend, not a republican. I give 100% to all my friends. I don’t “love by halves, it’s not my nature.”

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” 
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

If you don’t feel the same way, then I invite you to leave and I promise no ill will or hard feelings. It will allow me to better focus on those who appreciate me being in their lives. Those who like it when I praise their accomplishments or their children’s. Those who love my sense of humor. Those who know that if they ever need someone to talk to they can count on me for advice, prayers, help, whatever it is in my power to do. That’s who I am, and that’s who I see in the mirror.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Mother’s 80th Birthday…

Today would have been my mother’s 96th birthday. She left us seven years ago, when she was 89. My mom never really enjoyed celebrating her birthday. I can recall a couple of times when we bought her a cake, flowers or a gift…she really didn’t appreciate the gift or the thought and, she would say, “it’s just another day.” But her 80th Birthday still stands out in my mind and in a few other minds too.

About three weeks prior to my mother’s 80th birthday, we were all at my cousin’s house celebrating her baby daughter’s second birthday. There was a large crowd of friends and family there that day. My mother went around, in a boasting sort of way, making it known that her 80th birthday was just a couple of weeks away. An 80th birthday is, after all, a pretty big accomplishment, no to mention the fact that my mother had been telling us she was on “borrowed time” since she was 50! Well, after the party, we went home and didn’t think any more about it.

The day of her birthday, my cousin calls me to say she wants to see my mother for her 80th birthday and will be driving in that night with her family. I begin to have two conversations…one with my cousin and one in my head. “Oh that’s nice of you, she’ll be surprised!” (In my head I am thinking, oh great, my mother hates surprises and celebrating her birthday.) My cousin says she will bring the cake. I reply, “No, I have a bakery right here, I will get it and bring it to my mother’s tonight.” (In my head I am thinking, how am I going to tell my mother that she will be having a houseful of company, so she can brace herself.) My cousin says she will be there at 6:30 and can’t stay long because the kids have school the next day. I say, “Great, I’ll see you at 6:30.” And now I have to call and tell my mother!

“Hi Mom,” I say, as she picks up the phone. “What do you want?,” she answers. “I have to tell you something and you aren’t going to like it,” I reply. “Why? What is it?,” she asks with an attitude. “Well Maria is coming down tonight with her family to wish you a happy birthday and she wants it to be a surprise,” I explain. In an agitated state, my mother answers, “I don’t want to celebrate my birthday, it’s just another day on the calendar. Tell them to stay home!” “I’m not calling to tell them to stay home when they are trying to do a nice thing for you!” I reply. “WHO THE HELL TOLD THEM IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY?!?” she demands to know. “You did! You told everyone at the party two weeks ago, and now they want to do something nice and come see you tonight. If you don’t want company, you call and tell them.” I answer, “and if not, remember to act surprised!” 

Well of course, my mother doesn’t call my cousin to cancel the party and everyone arrives at 6:30 pm to wish my mom a happy birthday. A few minutes into the “party,” my cousin suggests that we call another of our cousins, who lives downstairs, in the basement apartment of my mother's house, and tell her to come up and have a piece of cake. No one knows what time she comes home from work, but there are times it’s late. My cousin, Ann, who lives in the basement, is a bit illogical in her thinking, so I volunteer to make the call, as I communicate very clearly. And, when I call at 7 pm, I get her answering machine. I leave this message: “Ann, Maria and her family are here to celebrate my mother’s birthday. We have a cake. Maria has to leave early because the kids have school tomorrow. If you get this message in time, and you want a piece of cake, you are welcome to join us.” 

Now, we continue to talk and visit and my father puts up the coffee pot. My mother, despite her complaining, actually enjoys being the center of attention and being made a fuss over. At 7:45 we sing Happy Birthday and cut the cake. There are 13 of us present. Everyone is chatting, eating cake and sipping coffee, when Ann walks in at 8 pm. She wishes my mom a happy birthday and says hi to everyone. The she turns to me and says, “You always do this to me! You couldn’t have waited until I got here to have cake?” I say, “I left a message saying Maria couldn’t stay long, the kids have school tomorrow and we had no idea what time you would be home.” She says, “you did not say they were leaving early.” I get irate. I chose my words carefully to avoid this argument and she still didn’t get it! “I did say they had to leave early, that was the point of the call,” I answered, in a not so nice voice, “I know what I said!” “No you didn’t,” she insists. Now I am about to have a real stroke, so I say “Let’s go downstairs RIGHT NOW and play the message!” She answers, “I deleted it!”

Well, I am seeing red and I started yelling at Ann. I tell her she arrives late to every party, no matter how much advanced notice she is given. Sometimes she shops for a gift the morning of the party. Is everyone supposed to wait for her? I keep it up until I see the frightened look on all the children’s faces and the stunned expressions on the adults. I stop, quickly try to compose myself and apologize for my outburst. And this is how my mother’s birthday ended. Because it was now 8:30 and it takes Maria at least a half hour to 45 minutes to get home. 

Sixteen years later and I remember it like it was yesterday. My girls, who barely remember anything much of their childhood, have vivid memories of this occasion. In fact, I’m sure everyone remembers it well. In case you think I am nuts, my cousin Ann has a very long history of poor communication, poor judgment, and no logic. My explosion was a result of years of being subjected to her irrationality and also from the fact that I took great pains to be clear to avoid any misunderstanding that night. On top of all that, I am my mother's daughter, and the apple didn't fall far from the tree! Oh well, at least it was memorable.

Happy 96th Birthday in heaven, Mom!