I love POB (partner of blogger).  She is the better half of my soul.  She is extraordinary.

She is also “at liberty” these days, since losing her job in a corporate restructuring.  To my mind, she can rest on her laurels and eat bon-bons for the rest of her life. I want her to be happy.  But recently, I think she needs to have a job for her sanity and well, frankly, for mine.

A few weeks ago, I learned from POB all about the scam of recycling plastic bottles.  The bottles are shipped to China (add to carbon footprint) where the process of recycling those bottles causes noxious gases to be released into the atmosphere (EPA would not allow such recycling in our country) and then the recycled product is shipped back to us (add to carbon footprint). All this, over dinner, after a long day trying to woo clients and bring in business.

Last night, we were at dinner at a restaurant with friends and POB had questions about the fish special.  Was it farmed? Was it certified as “happy fish” before it was fooled by bait and impaled on a hook?  Where was it fished? (as in, was it fished in a place that is overfished?)  I had an extra glass of wine that had a huge carbon footprint.  I felt bad but the wine felt good.

But it was really the other week that I decided that POB needs a job, ANY job, with or without pay.  POB announced over a gluten-free, nut-free and (dare I say) taste-free dinner that we should get one of those apartment-size composting kits so that we can create fertilizer and then drop it off at compost-receiving stations in Central Park.  That way, the parks will be greener and we will be, too.  Ok, ok, ok, ok, at age 47, I am composting nicely, thank you.  I will disintegrate enough just in time for the worms, etc. to break down the rest of my cells at my death.  POB is not mollified by the knowledge that I am in slow-burn compost mode.

What, am I not compost enough for POB????  At long last, has it come to this?

Even more tales from the 60s

I mentioned to POB (partner of blogger) that if I don’t write down these memories, soon they will be lost because my brain is maxing out.

The 60s were not all days of wine and roses.  Some of it was very confusing to a little kid.

I remember when our Jamaican-born baby nurse was not allowed to go into a Sutton Place apartment building to speak to the mother of a boy who hit my sister. Even in our own building, she had to stare down the landlord who told her she had to take the service elevator. She took the main passenger elevator. I was wide-eyed and only later understood what happened.

And yet, for years after his assassination, our baby nurse reminisced about that day that then Senator Bobby Kennedy held the door open for her on his way to the tennis club in our building.   People born after those times don’t see how big that was.

Mom used to tell us that her secretary told her not to marry Dad because he was a Jew.  Mom had to break the news to her secretary that Mom was also Jewish.  To Mom’s credit, she continued to work with that secretary.

I look at it more practically:  Mom was dropping an intimidating Polish last name for a generic Jewish one.  In those days, it was also a question of: “pick your poison”.

Technology Upgrade

So, POB (partner of blogger) and I have been dancing around the DVR issue.  (To get a DVR or not to get a DVR?  That is the question.)

Why so resistant?  We didn’t want TLP (our son, the little prince) to become too attached to TV shows, etc.  We want him not to grow into a v-idiot who schedules social interactions around an episode of, let’s say, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

In short, we lost.  “It is only one TV show,” we say to each other as we slide head first down the slippery slope.  And it will make Friday nights around the dinner table with friends and godchildren less stressful if TLP doesn’t have to watch the clock until, as he says, he “must withdraw from society” and watch his program.  (Yes, my son speaks with a dramatic flair that is best left to an adaptation on Masterpiece Theatre.  Nevertheless, his turns of phrase are diverting, if head-scratching.)

I learned that a DVR is not a separate device, but an enhanced computer chip in a cable box.  Who knew?  (Two entire generations knew.)  Our friendly helpdesk person explained that to me and more.  “Sa-ay-yyyy you’ah watching O-O-prah, and you didn’t catch what they said, you can rewind a live broid-cast!!  It’s ama-ayyy-zing.  Not that I watch my programs live, because I am working the night shift here now since I lost my old job 15 months ago, but I’m just say-yin’ it’s possible.”

We chatted some, and I wished her well.  “It was a real pleasuhre talkin’ to you, [POB].”

Did you think I would give my own name?  Besides, the bill comes to POB.

A Quiet Morning

I can’t wait until our son becomes a sleep-until-noon teenager.  Until then, as part of our Saturday ritual, he comes barreling in at the crack of 9am to watch cartoons.

POB (partner of blogger) gives him the paper to bring in, and she follows with coffee (and yes, I am spoiled and I am grateful every day).  Our son does remember to give me a kiss before he says “controls” with his hand held out expectantly, like a Grey’s Anatomy surgeon says “Metzenbaum scissors”.

Every other Saturday, POB and our son trek off to Hebrew School downtown and leave me to putter or go to the gym or read the paper with more leisure than usual.

As much as I love my family, I am reveling in the quiet.  I am focused on not letting the political mayhem, global suffering and warring intrude on these moments of personal calm.

I wish everyone, everywhere, could have a moment of calm and recalibration of priorities.  It won’t turn Ahmadinejad or other tyrant into a dove, but it might ratchet down the fervor of his followers. It might even act like a balm over the “Progressives” (on my side of the political spectrum) whose high-pitched whining is indistinguishable from their counterparts on the right.

Ok, maybe those people — the mean, the evil, the obstructionists, the liars and the screamers of every nation and political viewpoint — need a month-long medically-induced coma.   Then everyone else could spring into action:  air-lift food and medicine and doctors and teachers to areas in need.  And, we can show them that we achieved more for humanity while they were asleep than in all the years they were awake.

A month is not long enough.  Maybe the calm of this morning is sending my brain into “kumbaya” mode with psychedelic rhythms.

Still, everything good starts with a dream and ends with a “kumbaya”.

I still don’t get ending Daylight Savings Time

POB (partner of blogger) is an early riser.  She LOVES the end of Daylight Savings Time because now a few rays that illuminate an otherwise dark sky in her mornings.  

Except it is still dark when she gets up to go to the gym.  So dark in fact that when, on Monday night/early Tuesday morning, she gets up and goes into the bathroom and starts brushing her teeth, etc.,  I could not imagine what she is doing.  I hear her moving around our room.  Drawers opening and closing.  I sit up and see a fully clothed POB in gym gear.  I turn on the light and look at the clock and look at her.  She looks at me and then looks at the clock.  It is 12:17am.  I look at her.  She looks at me.  We look at the clock.  We take turns looking at each of the three clocks in the room, all of which miraculously show the same time.  This continues for what seems like hours but was in fact only seconds or nanoseconds (because everyone was back in jammies by 12:20am). 

Finally, POB says, “Ok, I did just get ready for the gym in the middle of the night.  But it IS usually dark out when I get dressed.”  (As a post-script, she got up and went to the gym on Tuesday morning — she is truly amazing.)

Then, on Wednesday I have to leave the house by 6:30am for a flight to Chicago.  It is barely dawn.  I spend the day in Chicago, which is an hour earlier, but still it gets dark at 4:30pm (not that that is relevant).  This morning I have to leave the hotel at 6:30am in Chicago for my flight back to New York and yes, you guessed it, dawn was just breaking.

My son gets up at 6:30am for school.  It is dark.  Most people I know get up around that time for work (I, however, do NOT). 

So, remind me again, how many more people benefit from the early morning daylight that justifies the sad feelings when twilight comes at 4:30pm?

Blogcation Year 2, Day Whatever – Too Much Information

So, on vacation, one can lose track of days, especially when one has drowned one’s blackberry (accidentally).

Our G-d daughter and her life partner came over for a couple of days.  We gave them the downstairs bedroom (with two full baths – go figure) and POB (partner of blogger), our son and I took the two bedrooms upstairs (with one bathroom to share).

As is often the case on vacation, everyone’s toiletries bags are open and strewn around the bathroom.   I was downstairs with our G-d daughter and her partner talking, and POB and our son were upstairs so he could get ready for bed.

Our G-d daughter’s partner overhears our son’s question to POB, “Mommy, what are Tampax?”  She repeats the question to us.  I jump up and ask, “[POB], do you need help?” “Ye-e-es” she responds in a way that says I am too tired to deal with this.

So, I run upstairs, my mind blank about the “Tampax” issue.  I get to the bathroom and say (because my son is a bit of a bird nerd), “You know how birds make nests when they are ready to lay eggs?  Well, imagine that we have nests inside us.  If we don’t produce an egg, then the nest has to leave our body and we use Tampax and other products to avoid the messiness that ensues from the nest disintegrating.”

He’s 8 years old

From Ben to Bust in 234 years

Benjamin Franklin, a rock star of his generation, said, when signing the Declaration of Independence, “United we stand, divided we fall.”  Our founding fathers and the colonies, united, defeated a great and mighty empire.

Throughout our brief yet notable history, the cities of our nation were known for the dog-eat-dog way that fellow citizens treated their neighbors, eschewing the cornerstone of religious faith, all the while claiming to be part of the most upright of Christian nations.  But, outside the cities (or so I would like to think), neighbors helped each other and generations of families lived together, all working to keep everyone afloat.  Maybe it is the romantic myth of the heartland.  But, I am buying it, lock, stock and barrel.

Today, we live in a society where people are more worried about their morning lattes than they are about ending our two wars, reducing our crushing debt and the stopping all politicking, all of which threaten to bankrupt out nation.

There is no silver bullet cure for our woes.

I heard today that people say that the Congress should not have saved the 300,000 teacher and firefighter jobs because their unions are too strong and teachers earn too much for doing too little.  Ok, so, make the unions feel some pain, but does that justify keeping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  The illogic is frightening and delusional.

So the great experiment started in 1776 is rounding the drain because of greed and me-first-middle-and-last mind think.

Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I will forgo my Bush tax cut that I never wanted and didn’t need to pay for health care and to start reducing the deficit.

How about this:  we make giving up the tax cuts voluntary.  Just like the optional $1.00 gift to Wildlife Preservation (or is it public campaign finance?) on our tax forms.  Just put a line item on the 2010 tax return that says, “This is how much more you would pay if the Bush tax cuts lapsed.  Do you want to pay this amount (a) to reduce the deficit, (b) to pay for health care for the uninsured or (c) 50% to each?” and publish the list of people who contribute to these funds.

Maybe neighbors will embarrass neighbors into paying the money (because if you’re not on the list, either you’re selfish or you don’t make enough) or we have a pledge drive and use positive peer pressure.

Either way, Mr. President, I am with you for letting lapse the tax cut I never wanted and our nation couldn’t afford.

Hillary and me

Today, I was walking near Times Square, dressed not exactly in a pant suit, but complementary bespoke pants and blazer.  So, I was feeling pretty good in my outrageously expensive clothes, made to my specifications in order to hide my — er — “lesser” qualities.

I walked past a Rasta guy hawking his CD and, as my eyes turned to him, he said in a sing-song-way-dontcha-know, “How about some of my music for Hillary Clinton?”  My eyes must have widened in the shock that someone compared me, a 46 year-old, to a 60-something year old.  As I passed by, in a “no-way-am-I-buying-your-lousy-CD” walk (which I learned from living in Morningside Heights — the positives of diversity), he yelled after me, “I meant Hillary in the best sense!” (I noted, he had no Rasta accent, so he was as phony a Rasta as I was a Hillary impersonator, but I digress.)

Ok, ok, ok, ok.  I love Hillary Clinton.  I think her intelligence and focus are wildly sexy.  I just don’t want to look like Hillary when I am AT LEAST 15 years her junior.  Whoa, what a reality check as to what I look like to the 20-something and 30-something set.  There is no hiding a woman’s aging process, unless you want to look like an extra-terrestrial (e.g., Joan Rivers).

I am ok with aging — more or less.  Except that I am fixated on my 25th college reunion.  But I will not color my hair or have unnecessary medical procedures.  I just want to look good for my age.  And looking like the over-worked, 63 year-old Secretary of State who endured at least 25 years of trials and tribulations both public and private, is not — can I be clearer? NOT — looking good for 46.

I hurried to the gym and worked out extremely hard, as if one day will make the difference.  I will probably not be able to get out of bed tomorrow.

If someone said I looked like Susan Sarandon or Catherine DeNeuve, I would be walking on sunshine.  But in the real world, where unfortunately my mirror and I must live, I have to get used to the idea that being compared to someone who is sexy if you like smarts and determination ain’t so bad after all.  If only, Hillary (or I, for that matter) looked a little more like Susan Sarandon . . . .

(Just remember to suck in the tummy during the reunion . . . .)

25th Reunion

I have 5 weeks until my 25th college reunion.  I have 5 weeks to be slim, prosperous, toned and, maybe, un-gray.

Nothing like waiting until the last minute.  I was a crammer in college — I was still buying the books from the class syllabus three days before the final exam.  (And my GPA showed it.)

I am 46 and, with 5 weeks to go, here is my status:

Slim:  I am much slimmer now than I was in college, even though I have gained “more than a few” pounds in recent years.  I call it the Recession 8.  Better than the Freshman 15.  (I had come in with the pre-Freshman 30, so I don’t have college to blame.)  But, in truth, I look pretty slim.  So, in that box.

Prosperous:  Ok, things were better a few years ago, before people on Wall Street got stupid and greedy. But, while I don’t stack up to the crazy high-profile entrepreneurs in my class, I am really fortunate.  So, in that box.

Toned:  I want to be buff.  I don’t look bad, although there is a certain sag to the skin on my legs from my fat days.  And gravity does “weigh down” some erstwhile perky parts.  So no short shorts and no tank tops for me.  Anyway, after a certain age, a person looks ridiculous in that kind of outfit.  I lost this last week to having injured my hip and back (a little arthritis in the hip leads to compensating with other muscles that spasm which leads to crippling pain), and so I think buff is out of the question, but quietly toned is still possible.  So, X in this box (with an “*I don’t care anymore because I am not so shallow” followed by “**Does anyone outgrow that infantile sour grapes attitude? Surely not I”).

Un-gray: I am unconvinced on this.  Covering the gray requires upkeep even after the reunion. That is a huge commitment.  Still under advisement.  So put a ? in that box.

My son just walked in and kissed me.  He really wants to use the computer, but the kiss was also real.  That’s the things with kids — they take you as you are and they don’t put on the artifices that we adults do as naturally as we get dressed in the morning.  POB (partner of blogger) calls out to me and wants to know what we want to do for dinner tonight.  I remind her to call her dad about coming over for dinner tomorrow night with my dad and assorted relatives.

Now, I think, do I care if I am thin, prosperous, toned and un-gray?  Yes, but not because of reunion.  I am happy and I don’t envy anyone or want to be envied.  I simply want my family to be happy and healthy and safe.  I have that.  Add new box and put √ in it!!! (with an *”still would like to be slim, prosperous, toned and less gray”) .

[break for dinner out during which my son has a mother of all melt-downs and tests my resolve against spanking as a disciplinary tool.]

Ok, so my son was temporary invaded by an alien life form, and all because we cannot go to his choice of local restaurants (there were no tables available).  This is not my son (usually).   The following race through my mind: (i) aliens are clever, (ii) my parents grew up poor and would not abide such behavior in us, (iii) we knew not to exhibit such behavior and (iv) what have I done to create this monster?

Am I still happy and blessed?  Absolutely.  Am I pissed?  You betcha.  But keep the new box with the in it, and don’t forget the all-important asterisk.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina . . .

No, not “Evita!” the musical sensation of the 1970s about Eva Peron.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is living out loud and proud, trying to patch things up with his girlfriend.  It was all a misunderstanding — when we heard Appalachian trail, he said “Argentinian tail”. [see http://40andoverblog.com/p?120]

But, at least he isn’t lying anymore and he maintains contact with his government on his weekends away.  If only other “family values” candidates would be open about marital issues, gay issues and the tough stuff of life that affects all of us, maybe we can re-calibrate expectations of our politicians and ourselves.  I am not saying that infidelity and lying are ok. I am saying live the truth so you don’t have to lie.  So many less lives get shattered that way.

He behaved like a child but he is trying to live as grown-up now.  It is a good start.