Oh, Rush, please don’t go

Rush Limbaugh, please stay in the United States.  I know you threatened to go to Costa Rica if Obamacare was upheld, but what did the Costa Ricans ever do to you?

We already export fast food, inane television shows, and grotesque materialism to the rest of the world.  I think your bile and insane rantings would make the US a true pariah among nations.

You spent years berating Democrats as being unpatriotic because they protested Bush/Cheney policies they didn’t like.  Now you don’t like something and you are going to “self-deport” (to quote Mitt).  Now, who is being unpatriotic?

When you are talking to your friends in the Congress, could you please tell them that they need a remedial course on the Constitution and constitutional law.  Since Marbury v. Madison, it has been well established that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of whether a law is or is not Constitutional.  Senator Rand Paul doesn’t seem to know that.  And, if he doesn’t understand some basic principles about how our founding fathers set up our system of governance, then maybe he is unfit for his job.

But you are perfectly suited to being a shock jock on talk radio.  You are crass, bellicose, incendiary, pig headed, and an ego-maniac with one or more personality disorders.  That you are popular says more about us than about you.  And that is truly the pity.

But stay here, Rush, because other countries have enough problems without you.  Not that you were really going anywhere.  Because you really are too much of a hypocrite and meglo-maniac to give up your fame and fortune for principle.

Principles can be soooo inconvenient.

Something. Anything.

Some days (ok, weeks), I feel in suspended animation, waiting for a sign, a direction, something.  I don’t think it is just me alone; the news, the economy, the pundits all talk about uncertainty and the absence of bold action.  Universal stagnation.

The Eurozone has been on the verge of collapsing, or recovering, for months.  Every day, European leaders are frantically accomplishing nothing while “contagion” threatens to spread.  

And who let Cyprus into the euro-zone?  Aren’t Greece and Turkey still fighting over that island?  Does it really need a bail-out or did it just get in line because it didn’t want to be left out of all the fun?

And, of course, we on the other side of the big pond are frightened and our markets volatile and businesses unsure. 

So we sit.  And we wait.  This is like watching a documentary on the Black Death Plague in slooooooow moooooootion. 

And the Supreme Court doesn’t often hand down a landmark decision that also tosses a curve ball into a presidential election (ok, other than in 2000) and so the Supremes are teasing this out to the very last day.  Ok ok ok, Messrs. and Mses. Justices, we all agree that you are so fabulous and powerful.  Now, give us the f%@#ing decision, ok?

So we sit.  And we wait.  And I wonder why some of the Justices don’t like broccoli so much, and why that seems absurdly relevant to the court decision. 

And then there is Taxmaggedon: the economic cliff that our nation slides off on January 1, 2013.  We spent too much on our national credit card and still no one wants to admit that, first, we need to pay the bill and, then, we can shoot the spendthrifts.

So we sit.  And we wait.  And I wonder why every event has to have a catchy (or actually not-so-catchy) name in order to signal that it is a big deal.  Taxmaggedon is apparently catchier than “elected officials not doing their jobs and compromising for the good of our nation and our economy”.  I think “Operation Nero” might be better, althought Congress is playing with something other than its collective fiddle.

And then there are Syria and Iran.  Syria has a vague “window of time” until it implodes with civil war.  Iran has a vague “window of time” before it can explode a nuclear bomb.  What should we do?  And when?

So we sit.  And we wait. And what does a window have to do with time, anyway?  And if it turns out we blew that window with Iran, do I really need to keep saving for retirement or going to the gym?

I could go on.  (No, really, I could.)  And I fear that either the resolutions that won’t come or, if they do, they give rise to more questions and more uncertainty.  

Sooo, I’m sittin’ and I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’ . . . .


A Morning at the Museum

Today, we went to the Met to see Buddhism along the Silk Road: 5th–8th Century.  SOS really wanted to go.  No joke, and he isn’t even 10 years old (soon).  When I was 10, you could not tear me away from watching cartoons or fighting with BOB.  A museum?  Nevehh.

It was a win-win all around, actually.  I wanted to walk on a beautiful day (to the museum).  DOB was game for something to do on a quiet Sunday. POB was grateful for extreme air conditioning (in the museum).

SOS has so many books and DVDs on the history of the Silk Road.  He is fascinated by the spread of religion and culture through the trading corridor as well as the particularly harsh climate conditions along parts of that ancient route.  Actually, all of us were interested in the subject matter, in varying degrees.   But mostly, the rest of us marveled at our little guy’s enthusiasm: “[Blogger]-mom, let’s pack all of it in today!”

SOS’s knowledge is broad, deep and thoughtful (forget that he is so young).  Every now and again, I try to throw in something I learned from my travels in parts of Asia.  It is a little like a klutz trying to jump double-dutch.

“Hey, bud, over here!!, look at this awesome wood carving from an entrance to a stupa. A stupa is place of worship that —-”

[Blogger] Mah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahM, I know that a stupa holds a Buddha relic,” said with more than a little exasperation.

DOB, watching this exchanged, looked at me and smiled.  It must be a little fun for him, after all, he and MOB survived three smart-aleck kids.

But then, just then, I heard him telling POB that the Bodhisattva sculptures were all depictions of the Buddha.  Aha!!!  I could tell that not all Bodhisattva sculptures were in fact depictions of the Buddha. So, I whipped out my iPhone and logged into Professor Google and read that that he was a correct to a point — the term has morphed so that it also refers to people recognized as enlightened in their time, hence very different faces of Bodhisattva.

“Hey, buddy, did you know . . . .”

Gee, [Blogger]mom, thanks for the info!!!”

Paradise regained. 

Sidebar:  Until he is old enough to read this blog, he doesn’t have to know how I knew, right?

Then, off to brunch, where parents re-assumed the mantle of superior knowledge and power.   SOS looked to us for Talmudic rulings on whether he could eat the home fries that came, unbidden, with his omelet and whether, if he ate some of the home fries, would it count against his weekly French Fries quota.

Paradise affirmed.

And the strong and brave parents, POB and I, deserve a nap.

We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Miss It

In the 1980s, ACT UP used to chant, “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!!”  It was a rallying cry in the City for civil and social rights.

By the mid-1990s, there was a cartoon in the New Yorker, that featured two men on a couch, with one talking on the phone, responding to the caller, “Oh, no we aren’t going to the Parade. It’s just that we’re here, we’re queer, we’re used to it.”

I laughed when I saw that cartoon.  We were young and childless living a gay cultural mecca. We were still lovin’ it.

By 2002, POB and I were more interested in “Mommie(s) and me” groups than tea dances or gay events.  We huddled with our straight friends with children and talked about the best baby strollers, or how to get our child into the right “twos” program that would feed into the right pre-K program that would feed into the elementary school, and so on, so that the only angst was in paying for our child’s trajectory into happiness and financial promise.  (Actually, life doesn’t — didn’t — really happen that way but more about it in another entry.)  There were playground parties, play dates, and child-centered socializing schedules that rivaled even our single days being “out, loud and proud”.

Our son is 10 years old and he is more independent. So, POB and I can start to dream again of having an adult couple’s social life.

Still, yesterday, an Op-Ed in the New York Times decried the “death of gay male culture” as a little like the “exaggerated” reports of Mark Twain’s death.

Today, I was on a long run to meet the family at our synagogue’s Gay Pride family picnic.

Sidebar: Ok, the “run” involved running, walking and taking a cab, because this ol’ broken down body was “running out of time” to get to the picnic.  More on that later.

There was a real energy as I jogged into Chelsea and then into the Village.  It felt good.  I wished I were wearing something with a rainbow.

I realized as I mingled at the picnic, we are NOT assimilating; we are NOT over being gay.  Being gay is different.  And that different is good.  We are just on hiatus while we raise our kids.

And when you have kids, NAMBLA (National Association of Man-Boy Love) is a little scary.  Let’s just be honest.  I don’t need to take my young son to a parade where NAMBLA members are also proud and marching, rather than being on trial like Jerry Sandusky.

But, in 2020 when SOS is 18 years old, watch out, because two recently emancipated 56 year-old lesbians will be tearing up the dance floor, celebrating Gay Pride, all-out, all loud and all proud.


Quinoa, STILL?

POB and I are married.  We fit into those dresses.  So Philly Cheese Steaks, Chipotle Steak and Bean Burritos, French Fries and red wine, right?


POB is, as we speak, cooking (as in on a stove) in the scorching heat and humidity some healthy, fat-free, vitamin-rich, protein-filled, anti-oxidant cleansing, meal.

I am drinking red wine and lazing on the couch and blogging.

POB asked me to set the table.  So, I yelled, “[SOS], time to set the table!!!!”

Maybe POB is wondering why she married me.

Me?  I have the Ketubah (the Jewish marriage license) and the New York State marriage license.  POB is stuck with me.

I am living the dream.  Except, instead of salmon and quinoa and whole grains, I really, really, want some Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream. To go with my wine.

But, I get it.  I am lucky.


Reading Tea Leaves

In my desperate attempt to see a path for business growth in these tumultuous times, sometimes I read the FOMC meeting notes (or the comments on them, which are boring enough to masquerade as the actual minutes), or my Yahoo! horoscope (it was really a sad day when Excite stop publishing the personal, love and career energy meters), or hospitality news and daily real estate digests.

I might as well read tea leaves or coffee grinds.  Because I am as good as Ben Bernanke or Angela Merkel or Mario Draghi at forecasting and certainly no worse than the deranged homeless man who “lives” on 109th just off Broadway.

In fact, the preacher man who sometimes cries out in the subway, “Jesus Christ is coming!! He is coming today!!” has a good chance that one day he will be right.

Sidebar:  At least, as to the part of his predictions that inherently require an apocalypse; the savior part of his story requires really going out on a limb.  I am not ready for that level of commitment.  Marrying a mortal is about as far as I can go with a full and open heart.

Look, I don’t need to be rich.  I just need my savings when I am ready to retire.  And, I don’t even need all of my savings.  I just need to keep my righteous indignation at companies like Walmart without secretly hoping that when I am 80 years old there will be a “greeter” job available at a nearby store.

But I really need that righteous indignation.  I really can’t retire without that.




New York City is one of those crazy places where you can spring for a happy hour of drinks and appetizers for three colleagues that cost $200 and then get into a cab with a young man who left the Kandahar province of Afghanistan the year before the war began.

Sometimes I feel that the chasm between driver and customer is enough to explode the world.  Like fission or fusion or whatever the scientists try to do with the atom.

My cab driver can only meet his Afghani family in Pakistan because he, as an American citizen, is no longer welcome in his home town.  He is now “the other”; the one responsible for civilian deaths.  I know, without asking, that he is also “the other” here, in his adopted land (as is often the sentiment of naturalized citizens).  One has only to read the papers to realize the message we give our citizens of foreign birth and then to realize how that is magnified “on the ground”.

He is a displaced person even though he does not live in a United Nations tent city somewhere in Gaza or Tashkent.

My grandparents never had anyone left in the old country; those that stayed did not survive World War II.  They also had no desire to go back and visit a country that didn’t want them.  So, while not being “of America” had its drawbacks and prejudices, there was no other place to call home.

But this man, a son of Afghanistan, who needed to leave for economic reasons, can never go home again.  He loves America.  But he cannot go home to Afghanistan, his ancestral home, where his grandparents are buried.  The place of his birth, the place of his people, his language of origin.

War doesn’t just kill; it scars the living and the survivors.

Oh, the pain we have wrought.

Vision and Sight

Sometimes I wonder about Judaism.  Some laws are aspirational; others acknowledge the base nature of humanity.  For example, “don’t talk unkindly about the deaf” or “don’t put a stone in the way of the blind”.

Nevertheless, a good reminder.  But there is a greater imperative: guide someone who is blind if requested, or if you think that the offer of guidance would be well-received.

I went to the gym for exactly one-half hour.  (SOB is wearing off on me.)  I stopped at the wine shop because I deserved a treat after so much (okay, so little) exertion.

I overheard a conversation between a man and a woman.  The man was describing the stores to the woman.  He was very formal, as if they hadn’t met before.  I looked back and I saw that the woman had a blind person’s walking stick although her eyes didn’t have the tell-tale signs of long-term blindness.

I slowed my gait to listen.  The man, Richard, was turning left on 97th Street, and the woman, Debra, was continuing on.  On the northwest corner of 97th Street, I introduced myself to them and asked if I could be of assistance.

Debra and I walked along for a block and I described the new stores and the general scene.

Then I asked, “It seems that your blindness is recent.  May I ask what happened?”

“Glaucoma.  It was gradual.  I can see big objects, but I can no longer read.  I am what people call ‘legally blind’.  But I can’t just sit at home.  I have to make the best of it.”

We continue along and I describe the stores and our relative location.  Of course, I can’t ever remember what the new store replaced.  Because I don’t have to rely on my memory rather than my sight.

And people don’t get out of the way of a blind person.  They really need to read the basics of the Hebrew Bible.  Mostly because I was ready to rain down vengeance all over them.

She asks, “is the Starbuck’s still here?”  “Is the jazz club still here?”

I answered her questions.  We talked about family and kids.  She is 61 and her mother is still alive and is inconsolable about her daughter’s glaucoma.

At 106th Street, my turn-off, I decide that Broadway and West End converge in way that is difficult to navigate.  I decide to take her to the Rite Aid on 110th Street, which is her destination.

“Why this Rite-Aid?” I ask.

“I grew up in this neighborhood and now I have moved back.  But the last time I was here was five years ago.  I figured that Broadway on a Sunday in the summer was quiet enough that I would try an adventure.  To be honest, I was relying on nice people in the neighborhood who might help if I needed it.”

I walked her into Rite-Aid.  She blessed me and my family.

But I felt blessed.  Blessed that I don’t have her impairment.  Blessed that two strangers can walk along amiably for a half-mile and both leave the encounter feeling very positive, even if for different reasons.


Fat Deposit?

I have this bump on the palm of my hand.  I wouldn’t have noticed it except I do push-ups (and other torturous exercises to stay in shape), so I am aware of this constant bruised feeling,

I mentioned in passing to POB that the bump hasn’t gone away and the bruised feeling remains (probably because every time I work out with my trainer, I exacerbate the problem).

“Maybe it is a fat deposit.”

WHOA.  I know we are lesbians and we have to fight that creepy urge to merge into one being and all, but who, WHO, said it was ok to suggest that I might have a fat deposit?

In fact, I reviewed our wedding vows, both in Hebrew and in English, and I did not find any authority whatsoever for the proposition that POB could safely (and thus without consequences) intimate that I have a FAT deposit wherever found in my body.  Not even in the innocuous place like the palm of my hand.

In all honesty, I do have some deposits in other parts of my body, which are increasing at the same exponential rate as oil reserves are being depleted.  (Why, oh why, can’t modern science suction cellulite and use it instead of fossil fuels?)  But this is AFTER the wedding, AFTER I fit into an unforgiving dress, AFTER I wore body armor.  So, go on, make my day.  Get a GET (a Jewish religious divorce) at your peril.

I know, I know, POB didn’t suggest I was like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (Chunky Monkey) or suggest the FAT DEPOSIT was in a place that would offend my inner diva.

Ok, it is in my palm.

But it is a fat deposit.  So, POB has to climb out of the ditch on this one.

Maybe I will send her out for Chunky Monkey.  Ahhh, a Pyrrhic Victory if ever there was one.

But a VICTORY nonetheless.  And when you are 40-and-over, every victory counts.


Training Day

In recent weeks, SOB has taken note of my quasi-buff arms and POB’s outrageously buff arms arms, and decided to inquire about FTOB (fitness trainer of blogger).

While I applaud her desire to tone and strengthen her core muscles, I worry about her gentle internal ecosystem.  SOB does the least she can do at the gym. Really. SOB doesn’t even break a sweat on the elliptical machine, which she does (ir)religiously for a “really long time” before she can’t handle the monotony of it.  In real time, that means 12 minutes, tops.

“How long can an hour-long training session be, 45 minutes?” SOB asks innocently.

Sigh.  Doctors, even non-psychiatric ones, think in different time intervals than the rest of us.  And she is a New Yorker.  So if a New York minute is less than 60 seconds, then a New York hour CAN’T be one hour.  The logic is valid, but SOB has no idea what is about to hit her.

FTOB is wonderful and “quirky”.  She dances during breaks; she uses words for parts of the body that creep me out.  In a moment of Zen, I just thought I will let SOB experience it all, without the usual warnings I might convey.

And, yet you can understand my worry.  I am delivering my dearest SOB into the hands of a fitness freak.  While I can handle FTOB, my gentle big sister may be consumed by the sweat and exertion of it all.  I knew it could be a moral crime, but I needed to check whether wanton disregard for the attention span and general fitness profile of a loved one was a punishable offense under New York law.  So far, there is no crime on the books of New York State for accessory to a fitness event.


SOB was happy that I “happened into” the gym about 30 minutes (a New York 45 minutes) before her first training session.  (Of course I was on hand for the momentous event.) I made the introductions, even though I already gave FTOB the talk (hurt my sister and you are dead meat).  As I left, I did the “I am watching you” hand signal of touching my eyes and then pointing to FTOB.

So, I lurked about to make sure that SOB wasn’t crying or leaving mid-session.  Imagine my surprise when FTOB said, “walk this way” and started doing something out of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks (www.youtube.com/watch?v=wippooDL6WE), and SOB did!!

SOB made it to the end of the full hour and then made arrangements to start regular sessions.

Me?  Turns out I was just a stalker without a cause.