Phoning it in


On or about August 11, 2013, you came into the City to save me from the ravages of the Rings and promised to come in every few weeks to coach me in a new fitness regimen.  Your torture of choice? Running.  See, further,

SIDEBAR: Since you are a lawyer and a litigator, no less, I can indulge that lawyer-istic bull shit that makes non-lawyers sooooo annoyed.

It has been almost 45 days (don’t count, I will not be moved), since you have come in to run with me and save me from the curse of the Rings.

Since then, I have run three miles twice a week and I have completed the Rings.  Ok, not with the finesse that I imagined, but now I can fine tune my skills, having accomplished my goal.

I let you know whenever I am running. Which is a misnomer.  I schlep, I pant, I look like I am heaving my last breath.  But you would not know.  Because you are TEXTING it in, with “go! go! go!” and “you are amazing!”.

Even the family is wondering, “where is CLSFOB?”  No, no, really.  We are good with it.

OKOKOKOK.  Lots of Wingaters are going to read this. And, dear CLSFOB, you are first and foremost, a camp friend.  OMG, you are in serious trouble.  Once a month, could you come in? Also, there is a reunion coming up in November in NYC and be there or be talked about.

And, you are the one who spread the rumor about whether I had face work or a boob job.  Even a camper I NEVER knew at Wingate knew there was a “controversy”.

And it took Janet2OB —  who had never felt another woman’s breasts and didn’t really know what she was feeling for — to announce that mine were real.  And Wingate campers who are now doctors (we are so proud, Sam and Julia, among others) knew there was no ‘face” work.

No, really, I am good with it.  And I am even honest about how much I run. Nah, I am lying.

So you have until the next reunion to make me into a marathoner, or I will master the finesse of the Rings. And it will be discussed and parsed at that reunion.  Worse still, live on in the annal of Wingate alumnae FOREVER.  And Goldie may even be in town for that November reunion.  Your choice.

But this texting it in?  Gotta stop.  I would rather work on SOB’s peach pit ring.

Wingate love,



The Rings.


The temptress and the source of my undoing. And I vowed that I would champion the Rings by summer’s end.  But I had practiced only once in more than three weeks.  I was sure to fail miserably.  And I was almost out of time.

And then it happened today.

I did all eight rings.

When I grabbed the eighth, I swung there for a little, enjoying the moment.

SIDEBAR:  On Facebook, IFOB welcomed me into the Pan genus (chimpanzees).  One might be offended at first.  But, hey, no issues about hair, clothes or weight, no professional pressures, and they apparently have sex all the time.  There are worst things than to be a little Pan-like.

I was so sad that my trainer Wendy couldn’t be there.  No video. No witnesses.  Nothing.  I texted her immediately after my moment of glory.

Then I saw an email from another of Wendy’s trainees:

From: GymFOB
Date: September 21, 2013, 9:54:15 AM EDT
To: Blogger
Subject: [Blogger], is that you by the exercise rings?

We just drove by.  Sent from my iPhone

I did not read the content, just the subject line.  OMG, where are you, GymFOB?

I looked really hard (without my glasses) at those doing Tai-Chi near the Rings.  Then I looked at the women who were playing beach volleyball, even though I didn’t think GymFOB would be there.   Worse yet, I was trying to recognize GymFOB’s body type, so I was looking at women for more than a brief second.  One of the women was staring back at me.  Oy.  I inadvertently started “something”.  You know, that eye contact “thing” that can be meaningful only if both people have 20-20 vision.  I did not.

OH, SHIT.  No victory lap for me.  I ran to get my chalked encrusted glasses and my other stuff and started to jog from the Rings, looking for GymFOB.

I sent an email:

On Sep 21, 2013, at 10:02 AM, [Blogger] wrote:
Where are you?


On Sep 21, 2013, at 10:10 AM, [GymFOB] wrote:

West Side Highway.  We just drove by on way to NJ!

Sent from my iPhone

 New York is a small town.  And I am the Lady of the Rings and a member of the Pan genus. And today, September 21, is the official end of summer.


And the FOS Award goes to . . . .

Before I tell you about the award and the winner, there is (of course) a back story:

It begins in WWII, when American Jews were angry with FDR for not bombing the railroad tracks to the concentration camps.  Let’s be honest, in 1945, no one really liked Jews.  And the war was not to save Jews, but to stop a tyrant’s domination of a continent.

Before that war, there was the annihilation of Armenians at the hands of Turks.  No one said anything.

And before that, so many atrocities dating to the Crusades and earlier.

And, a thousand years of slavery.

And, then, so much that it is impossible to list.

And, the the brutality of colonialism.

And then, the United States used Napalm against civilians in Vietnam.  CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  Our use inspired the international treaty against using such heinous weapons.

Fast forward to the atrocities in Africa.

And the mess in the former Yugoslavia.   President Clinton ordered the bombings of the bridges leading to those death camps.

And then President George H. W. Bush who took a moral and geopolitical stand against Iraq and its use of chemical warfare against its neighbors.  GHWB showed American willingness to smack down an ally who commits atrocities with weapons that we sold to it.

And then there was the Shrub, the little Bush, who didn’t find chemical weapons in Iraq (those reviled WMDs), because they had been transported to Syria.  But we destroyed that country anyway.

And no one called George W. Bush an amateur or a waffler or a liar or a cheat.  And he led us into a war with no strategery (his word) for the way out, let alone a reason to go in.

And, atrocities occur every day, all over the world, in every corner.  Most particularly against the children, women and the enfeebled — those who have the least power in society.

So, here we are with Syria, under a credible threat of force from the United States, telling the world that it has chemical weapons and agreeing to disarm.  And Russia is taking the lead, as Syria’s ally, to make sure that America doesn’t bomb Syria.  Pretty good outcome so far — an admission that eluded GWB, an effort to dismantle Syria’s WMDs, as the US armed forces are on stand-by if anyone doesn’t deliver on promises made.  Others are doing the work because a bombing mission would shake Russia’s influence and bring down Russia’s ally in the region.

Not a bad outcome for “amateur” President Obama.  But no one gives him credit [this is for another blog]

And yet, all I hear from the pundits is: how the President faring politically and whether it will affect his domestic agenda, and how there is no reason for us to stop the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Ok, this is not about a president.  This is about children.  It is not about politics.  It is about whether or not, to use a “quaint” analogy, to bomb railroad tracks to death camps.

I don’t know the right answer.  I don’t think there is one.

But this I know:

If you thought that FDR should have bombed the tracks leading to Auschwitz and you don’t support saving children from lethal gas, you have lost your moral authority;

if you ever thought that Napalm was one of the most heinous acts against humanity, sit down and shut up because you have lost your moral argument;

if you wanted George W. Bush to go into Iraq, G-d help you because you have no moral judgment and should “self-deport”;

if you are a “Progressive” in today’s politics, you have no backbone, and if you are a GOP hawk, you are just saying no because Obama is president, so you wouldn’t know a backbone if your doctor showed it to you on an xray;

if you say that there is misery and brutality the world over and why are we not protecting civilians in Africa, you have an excellent point;

if you don’t care about Syrian children and civilians (or Afghanis, or Kurds or African tribes), I ask, (paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if you are only for yourself, who are you?

if you say that there are too many risks to this action, when we have soldiers the world over, I ask (against paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if not now, then when?

And so, the Full of Shit (FOS) award goes to . . . . all of us, from the UN to Geneva to Oslo, from Wall Street to Main Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from MSNBC to CNN to FOX, from me to you.  I don’t know what the right answer is, but I know we are asking all the wrong questions.

The right questions take guts and require that we talk about who we are and what we are willing to sacrifice (in lives and taxes) to do all the things we say we ought to do, until the moment comes for action. 

May G-d bless the children of Syria, the children of all countries and, please, let them no longer be the fodder of war, the currency of politics, and the blind spot of the world.

Please watch:

Hope and Change

Yom Kippur ended just two hours ago.  Jews fast on Yom Kippur as a part of penance and as a sign of the solemnity of the Holy Day.  And as part of our petition to G-d to save our lives and inscribe us in the Book of Life for the coming year.

The fast is from sundown to sundown.  Actually, it is longer.  It starts when you last eat before you rush to synagogue to get good seats (our egalitarian synagogue does not have assigned seating) until you eat again the next night — at least 25 hours later, when there are three stars in the sky.  But really, this is New York.  You can’t see stars and you can’t immediately break the fast. First you have to push people into the street to steal the cab and make your way to your break-fast meal.  Because no time like the present to start sinning again and, if you are going to start, you need to do it in a spectacular way, like stealing that cab from people who, only minutes ago, you hugged and kissed and wished a happy and healthy Jewish New Year.

But, I digress.

SOS wanted to fast this year.  He is only 11 years-old and I was not a fan of his fasting so young.  He was determined, and at points during the day, miserable to be around.  But he was steadfast and resisted my entreaties to eat.  He spent the whole day in synagogue with us, until the Shofar (ram’s horn) blew at 8pm, ending the Holy Day and the fast.  We didn’t start eating until after 9pm.

As we walked to the restaurant for our break-fast meal, SOS said, “I won’t survive another minute!!”

“Sweetie, I promise you will.  You are hungry but you won’t expire.  Some people live like this.”

“E-Mom, do you know that there are so many kids like me who live in the City  and go to sleep hungry?  I have never felt this hungry before.  This is horrible.”

“Can you imagine being this hungry and going to sleep at night or having to go to school?”


SOS gripped my hand tighter.

“We have to do something about this.”


When the Laughter is Gone

Laughter comes from understanding irony, timing, and the unbelievable, but true, life situations.

All my life, Dad loved to laugh.  He loved to bask in Mom’s aura and take in her stories.  He tried to tell a good story (not always so successfully).  He loved to play with kids and he laughed and smiled and shared in a child’s delight in playing the hokey pokey.  Ask any of my cousins.  (But he wasn’t always light and fun, I promise you.)

Dad also appreciated a good story or that welcomed relief from the pressures of the mundane, when you look at the world with your head tilted to the right or left and laugh at the sheer madness and irony of life.  Those “no-one-will-believe-it-but-it-is-true” episodes that life hurls at us.

And then, one day in this past year, and I don’t know the precise day, Dad stopped laughing.

It wasn’t the immediate result of his fall and brain bleed.  But the trauma probably accelerated, over time, the deterioration of his mental faculties and his logical reasoning.

Laughter is also the last stand against despair and the mundane. And now, Dad, when he needs that relief the most, it eludes him.

But, I will always remember his laughter, even if he can’t any more. 

Life in No-Fi

We all await the excitement of that moment — that one moment in time — when we are actually in the “4G air space” so we enjoy the rapid connectivity for which we pay extra every month, but never actually receive because we live in a “3G” world.

But I don’t always want to be connected.  I also dream of “unplugged” time during which I can relax and think deep thoughts and ponder the universe or my navel (whichever), over wine, music and a barbeque.

And then I spent a year one week in Wainscot (a sub-township of East Hampton) where Verizon has no “G”s at all.



Not a “G” within miles.

To get one bar of “G”-ness, I had to go north, cross a highway filled with aggressive sports car drivers and go in the direction of the North Fork.  I am glad that Verizon services the crunchier, family friendly North Fork, but Verizon must take pity on those souls who do not, by choice (rather for familial obligations and homesteading), inhabit the tonier side of the highway.

For work-related calls, I had to drive around for connectivity and then find a safe place to park.  I got so desperate that two bars of connectivity was a G-dsend.  When asked where I was — just to have idle chit chat until all parties to any given call dialed in — I simply could not mention that I was parked in the lot right near the King Kullen supermarket and, as luck would have it, in front of the liquor store.

Yes, yes, the Hamptons can be glamorous.  For some.

Being disconnected was not so bad, except for the essential people whom I needed to call or with whom I needed to be in contact.

But talking on the phone was unbearably like that commercial, “Can you hear me now?” except there was no “good” following the answer.

Only, “You are breaking up.  Text me.”

Which even worked for SOB, one of the most technically un-savvy 50-something year-olds I know.

But not for almost 93 year-old Dad who isn’t so great on the phone anyway.  Even when I had THREE bars in Montauk, it wasn’t enough for Dad.


Hey, Dad! It is [Blogger]!


Dad! It is [Blogger]!



Yes, darling, how are you and everyone there?

SIDEBAR:  If he can’t hear, then he can’t remember.  So, he didn’t really remember where I was or why or with whom.  Then everything goes to shit.  I get why the phone is hard on the elderly.

We are great, Dad.

Who is there?  Where are you?

Dad, we are away for a week.  There is bad reception.  Can you hear me?


DAD, DAD, I will text [SOB] and she will call you and let you know what I said.  ok?

Ok, sweetheart, where are you now?  Hellooooo?

CALL DISCONNECTS.  My heart sinks.  I have only confused my Dad, not helped the situation by checking in.

I text SOB.  I must speak to Dad through an interpreter while I am in No-Fi land.

No-Fi land.  A land of legend and dreams.  Of gods and monsters.  Of serenity but also of being with the person you have become.  Good, bad and, sometimes, ugly.

Still, I yearn for this land.

Or so I think.

No-Fi is in the future — when I don’t worry about parents but my loved ones and children (who may be aliens, depending on age and stage) are with me (which may mean building a compound for the multitudes).  But therein lies the rub.  If I am not worried about my Dad (or aunts and uncles, or fake aunts and uncles), then that means they are gone.

So, I guess I would rather live in Wi-Fi for as long as I can.

No-Fi is not uncomplicated.  It is a place you go to heal after life’s journey relieves you of some of your most beloved companions.  And the quiet forces you to think about who you are and what you want to become.

Yes, it is easier to be connected.