The Health Care Debate

Let’s just hold this space for my rant, once I get it under control.  Setting aside what you believe, there are people in the country who have behaved so abominably in the tactics they used and the violence they unleashed.  And they are maybe worse than unpatriotic, because what they did undermines our system of government and our society.  I believe that these people are traitors to our nation and its government because they want to win at all costs, without thought to the preservation of the union.  In contra-distinction, those opposed to government action under the Bush-Cheney years did not physically and verbally attack lawmakers who put us in debt for generations, have rifle scopes put on where lawmakers live, and say things like, “you’re a dead man!”

Sen. McCain wants to repeal some of the very things that were part of his platform, until he changed with the direction of the wind.  Some maverick.

Many of our representatives have breached their oaths of office.  And in the process, they have stoked class warfare and racial distrust and enabled fringe groups to deny the legitimacy of Barack Obama as president of the United States.

But, still, I haven’t gotten my thoughts together yet, so stay tuned.

“Youthful” moments at the gym

Why, at the gym on a Saturday morning, are cartoons playing on two the TVs?

My son watched these cartoons as a 4 year-old.  4 year-olds are not allowed to work out in a gym.

So, let’s be like Glenn Beck and just go with that.  Hmmmm.  Then, we are a nation of tall, strong, vibrant 4 year-olds.  4 year-olds so strong and impressive that they look like they are between 25 and 55.  That’s why we don’t need universal health care because our youth, if left alone, will thrive.  Ok, I have freaked myself out enough.

Setting Glenn Beck aside, does the scene I describe say something about the mental and emotional ages of my fellow Upper Westsiders?  Actually, the networks had news shows on until 10, when the cartoons start. But it is 11am and no one has asked to change the channels.  In a place where people routinely quarrel about the stations on the big screens, this is indeed odd.

Notes from Aboveground

I am on the Acela from Boston to NY. I came to Boston for a business lunch and am now going home. It is what you do to build business.

You might think that the “Quiet Car” sign is self-explanatory. It is not. I think we’ve diluted the meaning of our words so much that no one believes signs without adjectives. “Free gift”: when was a gift something other than free? Or does “free gift” reflect the cynicism in our society that nothing is without strings? But then why do people fall for too-good-to-be-true scams? But I digress (of course).

Back to the Quiet Car. So maybe we need signs like: “Quiet-like-a-church-mouse Car” or “No kidding: no cell phones or whispering-at-the-top-of-your-lungs Quiet Car”?

Why is ok to expect a call and then leave the Quiet Car as you are yelling, “hello? hello? hello?”

I might have to take a real chill pill to deal. Another reason why it is dangerous to unleash me on the populace.

A Night at the Museum

Last Thursday, I had the honor and pleasure of attending a celebration of the Iranian/Persian New Year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  As we walked into dinner in the magnificently lit Temple of Dendur, I was overwhelmed by the beauty, power and the antiquity of the objects in the room.

Of course, most of the night I was thinking that I looked and felt like sausage stuffed in taffeta. I have this great dress; it looks so beautiful on someone else. Unfortunately, I was wearing it. I wore the dress a year ago and, well, I learned that strapless doesn’t work on me. Let’s just say I have too much to expect a poor little dress to hold up.  Since last year’s event was my sister’s wedding, there are plenty of photos about which I will be embarrassed for decades to come.

I had straps sewn into the dress for this dinner to avoid flashing anyone and possibly forcing them to recoil in horror and into the shallow moat surrounding the Temple.  Still, a little too much cleavage. Next time, I will wear a nun’s habit.

I also couldn’t see because my black purse is small and I had to choose between my blackberry and my glasses.  My blackberry won.  Now, I can’t wait to go back to the Museum and read about the history and customs of the Persian New Year, without the kaleidoscope effect that happens when your vision is blurred and mascara is creeping into your eyes.

A New York moment

Ok, no one is going to believe this. But I think it is clear already that I attract the bizarre and inane like mosquitoes to carcasses. But POB (partner of blogger) is my witness. (And she agrees that I have a certain magnetism that I might want to have reversed.)

A woman is walking ahead of us on our street on this beautiful spring day. She is shouting into the phone. I look over because my attention is drawn to the noise. At that moment I notice:

that toilet paper is making a paper tail from her pants.

She feels something flying around at just about the same time and looks around as she is grabbing the toilet paper.

Our eyes meet for what seems an eternity. I think of Gilda Radnor doing a 1970s Roseanna Roseannadanna (Saturday Night Live) skit about Princess Lee Radzwill (Jackie O’s sister) with toilet stuck to her shoe. Except in this case, IT WASN’T STUCK TO HER SHOE!!

I am also shell-shocked.

She keeps yelling into the phone as she grabs at the toilet paper and her slightly horrified look dissipates.

Another New York moment.

The STUPID, STINKING, painted ponies

In an email with the subject line, “and the painted ponies go up and down,” my college friend told us others of the group that her father is dying.     [reference to Joni Mitchell’s song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5HXT0bn7QY].

Yep, the carousel of time.  And when someone steps off the carousel, there is no changing it.  No making up for lost time and no more opportunities for mended fences or kumbaya moments.  And when it is the end — contrary to movie moments — the focus is on the person dying and his/her comfort.  And the person is not always lucid or with energy to have those special moments that Hollywood assures us we will have.  And the person doesn’t step out of character for his or her final scene.  And, at the end, there isn’t a whole lot to say.

Forget Hollywood, death is wrenching, messy and doesn’t pause for a commercial break.

I am glad my friend has a big extended family and support network and, of course, she has us — the group of friends from college — although some live far away.

120 is a stretch, but I won’t accept any less than 90

My dad is 89 and 5 months.  As with young children, so, too, with the aged, the months matter.  89 is different than 89-1/2 which is different from 90.  The body ages as rapidly at that age as kids develop between the ages of 6 months and 3 years-old.

Today, after seeing my son’s Spring Festival performance, my father experienced chest pains, elevated blood pressure and dizziness and presented with a pallor suggestive of serious heart failure.  He had to be taken by ambulance to my sister’s hospital.  Of course, I knew that it had to be serious in order for my father to expose my son to this episode.  Still, as a mother, I thought, “you couldn’t catch a cab outside?”  Imagine my thinking my father should grip his heart in a state of distress and schlep out to Amsterdam Avenue to go to the hospital lest my 7.5 year-old child be exposed to trauma.  The power of motherhood is that you think these thoughts.  Fortunately, my psychotic moment gave way to remorse and the knowledge that if I didn’t repent, my mother — in Heaven — would send a lightning bolt to warn me to tread carefully.  (Our Seder theme this Passover is “where is there evidence of a loving G-d in the Hebrew Bible?”; however, wrath of G-d or Mom can really keep a person in line.)  Of course, my dad would never subject his grandson to trauma if he could avoid it.

My dad is ok.  I called my son (through his baby sitter’s cell phone) to tell him that Grandpa is okay.  “I was worried about Grandpa, E-Mom,” he told me, “but I really did a good job in the play!!”  I want to cry because my son can accept (and yet not understand) the simple and the complex simultaneously and in the same priority, in a way only children can (as long as they feel safe).

My dad has low thresholds of pain and discomfort so I thought this was one of those false alarms.  Still seething slightly from having my son subjected to an emergency, I kept in “radio-contact” with my sister, the doctor, who was in the ER with Dad, but I didn’t drop everything and run to his side, as I had done so many times before.  Then, all of a sudden, I thought, “I am being selfish and petty and he will die.”  As I was about to run up to the hospital, my sister called to say he was being discharged and it was something, just not a heart attack (even though my father is technically in heart failure).

I called Dad about 45 minutes later.  He was discombobulated; he hung up on me and then when I called back he didn’t realize what had happened.  I called my sister, who called him.  I waited.  I called again.  He was fine and he said, “I just spoke to POB [partner of blogger].  FOPOB [Father of POB] asked me to tell her that [insert random information].”  Ok, all is back to normal.  My Dad is my Dad.

SOB [sister of blogger] is calling BOB [brother of blogger].  Maybe he should come visit sooner rather than later.

When my Mom died in early 2003 at age 76, I made my father promise he would love until 120 (like Moses).  He would just have to make up the difference.  Life is unfair that way.  But I am starting to understand what that entails.  My father always tried to be there for his children, even if it wasn’t always what his children wanted or demanded or expected.  That is the way — we are the parents we always wanted to our children and our children will be the parent they always wanted to their children, and so on and so on.  Neither our parents nor we will be the parents that our children wanted.  That is the human condition.

If I relieve my Dad of his promise, will he think that he is dying?  Will he go more quickly because his promise is forgiven?  How can I tell him it is ok to let go when I really don’t want to lose him?  And it is not time for him to let go.  Life is more constrained than it was, but it is not the end game yet.

So, now I hope he makes it to 90 in good health.  Ok, Dad, just 90.  120 is negotiable.  But less than 90, that is a deal-breaker.  Are we clear?

The Acupuncturist

I go to a wonderful acupuncturist.  She knows that I don’t necessarily believe in the power of my “chi” and that I am a western-centric client.  But, I am open to ways to feel better and balance my body.  That’s why my acupuncturist is terrific.  She doesn’t try to change me.  She works with me as I am.  And I have mellowed over time.  I now take vitamins, fish oils, have healthy foods in my office, etc.

When I leave my office for these appointments, I tell my assistant, “I am going to get pricked like a pin-cushion.”  I keep my blackberry out during the sessions — a negotiated concession from my acupuncturist — and, in response to a flurry of anxious emails, I emailed to my colleague, “do you need me to pull out the needles and run back to the office?”   I was perfectly willing to do so because I am a professional first and a pin-cushion second.  And I knew my phrasing would make my colleague queasy and weak-in-the-knees (for which I get a slightly perverse kick).  This colleague asked me once if I believed in the good effects of acupuncture and I responded, “Nah, but it can’t hurt — too much.”

I have gotten to know my acupuncturist some, and so I need to know about her life and if she is happy.  So, I have to ask, “so, are you seeing anyone?”  Her response: “I still haven’t found the right person.”  The use of “person” means (i) she is being politically correct/sensitive to my being gay or (ii) she is intentionally obfuscating whether she is looking for a man or a woman.  But, the vibe is definitely hetero.  Still, I ask, “man or woman or gender irrelevant?” because I might know someone for a shitach (a match) and I want to get the gender right.  And my gaydar has been wrong in the past.

And, once, years ago, I was talking to a “straight,” ultra-religious woman who started a conversation about finding a husband (for her).  In the midst of the conversation, she said to me, “how hetero-centrist of you to think that I am only interested in men!”  “But you are interested in men,” I said as I was thinking something is off because she knew I was gay. “To marry, yes,” she responded.

After about a two-second pause, I realized the implications of the statement and that it was time for me to run, run like the wind.  And I did.  All the way home to my beloved.  I am my beloved’s and she is mine. There are no ooky parentheticals or provisos to that statement.

What did this last story have to do with my acupuncturist?  Nothing, really.  But where I end up is rarely related to where I started, at least when I am not being a lawyer.

Life – one week later

Yes, to answer one comment from an everyday reader, there were sufficiently crazy things that happened in this last week, but, in my pledge not to alienate family and friends who read this blog, I must hold back.  Think of a big

CENSORED

where blogs about this last week ought to have been.   Maybe I will write about going to the acupuncturist.  Mañana.

So, we start again with today:

When we were kids, our dad used to take us on more-or-less yearly pilgrimages to Paragon Sports on 18th Street and Broadway to get outfitted for the Spring and warm weather sports (we also did an ancillary run in late June, just before camp, but it was epic in a different way). We all grew over the winter (why do kids grow over winter?) so the prior year’s gear didn’t fit anymore.

For me, this was our family’s official opening day of Spring.  Passover was religious but this was visceral. The promise of warmer, longer days leading into endless summer.  I still hold on to the fantasy even though I am 45 years-old and haven’t had a summer of play in 28 years. I bet my siblings don’t remember this, but I do. My father, in his hat that looked vaguely Russian, with a dress coat and wing-tipped shoes, in a sports mecca.  In fact, I would bet money that my brother doesn’t remember these excursions because he can only remember that Dad dressed him in a Mets outfit at a Mets game (in 1969 when they were the champs).  But you have to remember that my dad wore wing-tipped shoes on the weekends until the mid-80s, so the man did the best he could.

In truth, since my siblings were 3 and 4 years older than me, these outings probably lasted until I was in 8th grade, after which it was impossibly embarrassing to shop with my dad. Maybe in my mind’s eye, these trips loom larger than they really did, although I associate Paragon with Dad.  Also, in the 1970s, to schlep from the upper east side to 18th Street and Broadway with kids in tow was not for the faint-of-heart because Union Square was a needle park and there were many unsavory characters all around.  And in these 28 years, that area transformed, so it is not like going parent-and-child into a combat zone.

Maybe today it felt like a Family Event because my son and I made the trek to Paragon, this time from the Upper West Side.  My son wanted to stay home because it was raining cats-and-dogs (which is one of the stupidest expressions ever) and the wind was howling.  No way we are staying in.  We are going on a pilgrimage, young man.  You have outgrown all of the sports gear you have.  And, now that you are interested in football, hockey, baseball and basketball, we are going to get you the right stuff.  Yes, sir.  You may have two moms, AND you are going to have the right sports gear.   Even if you NEVER use it.

My son is more of an intellectual sports fan.  He likes facts and information and he likes to watch others play.  So, this trip was a little, eensy, bit more about me than him.   Never mind, one of the joys of parenting is that you can thrust your desires upon them and then pay for the years of resulting, required therapy.

We get to Paragon, which has gotten bigger over the years, but it essentially the same store (ok, I have been back over the years, but it is amazing how much the same it is).  A young man, Vladimir, helped us get the right size baseball mitt (I got one, too), basketball, soccer ball and football.  Also a solid, well-made baseball and an air pump.  I inquired about oil for the glove and how long he needs to sleep with the ball in the glove under his pillow to mold the mitt.  My son was browsing the sports jerseys for his favorite teams.  Ok, this really was all about me.

I did not get him hockey gear because there is no way he is playing that insane sport.  Oh, and, football, you ask?  Only two-hand touch, thank-you-very-much.  I did not bring him into this world to watch him go out on a stretcher.

I wanted to play with everything once we got home (even if doing so violated the house rules I set).  He wanted to play Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the computer.   Ah the picture becomes even clearer, you think.

At one point, I worried that I bought all of this gear and didn’t get my son a “cup”.  Then I realized that I am the only one who will be playing with this equipment and I need different protective gear, including some for my ego, my heart and my hopes of playing ball with my son.