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”.

A Morning at the Museum

Yesterday, POB (partner of blogger), SOPOBAB (son of POB and blogger) and I joined HOSOB (husband of sister of blogger) and FOB (father of blogger) went to the Met to look at the Kubla Khan exhibit (everyone now spells Kubla in a more authentic way, but it was 10am on a Saturday and that kind of information will not get absorbed into my brain).

SOPOBAB is studying Chinese and the information on a significant dynasty was appealing to him.  Also POB talked up the portraiture galleries which had pictures of Revolutionary heroes, etc.  SOPOBAB has read a lot about that, too, and seemed interested.

Great, I think, ancient Chinese dynasties and portrait galleries, could there be anything else I would want to see LESS on a Saturday morning at 10am?  Arms and Armor.  Ok, I am lucky I think.  At least no trifecta.

As a child I hated going to the Met.  It was an overwhelming place with furniture exhibits, armory and ancient Greek statues.  None of it mattered to me.  As an adult, I enjoy the Modern Wing and some of the African art, probably because I have studied some about the art in these areas.

I actually enjoyed the Kubla Khan show, most especially because I watched SOPOBAB find things of interest and talk to FOB and HOSOB about portions of the exhibit.  SOPOBAB, at 8 years old, is a young man who can navigate an exhibit at a museum.

The American Wing was closed for renovation.  The gods were smiling on me.  No portraits of American heroes.  Phew.  Waaaaaitt!!! Where are we going now?  Not to the diner for lunch?  no?  Arms and Armory?  Really?

Ok, so I walk through the exhibit that totally freaked me out when I was a kid.  All of this body armor.  I am a sport and try to focus and learn something.

I look at the body armor and read about the history.  And then, in a moment, the one sight that compelled a blog entry:

It is hard to see, but Kind Ferdinand of Spain needed a lot of extra space for his genitals.  No other body armor has this.  I think this was a message to his adversaries.

So, I learned that in every exhibit, there is something for everyone.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Long time passing.  Long time ago.

On our way to the beach last week, we listened to 70s music on Sirius radio.  “Afternoon Delight”, “Handy Man”, “Monster Mash”, “Young Hearts, Run Free” and all those other long ago summer time songs had POB (partner of blogger) and me screaming the words as our son looked on in horror and embarrassment.  (He also said, “E-mom, you should blog about this.”  I love my son.)

At camp, we used to sing “Anticipation”, “Circle Game” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Cruel War” at Saturday night campfires.  These and other songs made us both melancholy and grateful for each other in ways I didn’t understand then.

Since those days, we have all lived with not knowing about the days to come, the (stupid, stinking) painted ponies going ’round and ’round the carousel of time, and war and its cruel endings.  Life has, as it inevitably does, lifted us up, let us down and gave us a few battle scars along the way.  And, sometimes, songs sung when I was so young resonate with me now as, with each passing year, I spend more and more on an ounce of (alleged) skin rejuvenation cream.

I firmly believe that, if I slathered olive oil all over my body (instead of throwing gobs of money away on creams and potions), it would give me a more youthful (and, ok, smarmy) glow.  People might also like to brush up against me with chunks of bread.  Maybe if I used extra, extra, virgin (as in the driven snow) olive oil, I would look even younger.  I would do it, but for fear of the inevitable question from a colleague, “did you have salad for breakfast?” or, after a meeting, someone sitting next to me saying, “you know, I have a strange hankering for Greek food.”

Oops, there I go digressing again.  About camp.  Sometimes those memories make me laugh out loud or just give me a wonderful feeling and a lift to my step.  And it has been a gift to reconnect with old friends on Facebook about batik, peach pit rings, the Leoj, Plaque Night, etc.

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other’s gold.  Ok, campers, repeat in rounds (with Lodges 1 and 2 starting, followed by Lodges 4 and 5) and Lodge 3 please add the harmony.

Better than gold.  Really.

Really? Are ya kiddin’ me?

New York City is my home town.

Native New Yorkers (and those nearly native because they’ve lived here so long) abide by some neighborly rules.  For example:

  • Help tourists with directions.
  • Ask a blind person if he or she would like assistance (but never ask if he or she “needs” assistance).
  • Look the other way when your neighbor is sneaking a cigarette around the corner.
  • Always go to the green grocer on your own block because that is the store that stays open and keeps the neighborhood buzzing and safe at late hours.

New York City is ruined by those who come here thinking that New York is so anonymous that they can give way to their worst or selfish impulses with impunity.

Yep, you guessed it.  I had a run-in or two today.

Some guy sees me waiting for a hypothetical cab that might be free at 6:20pm on a weekday in midtown [hint: chances are better that you won the mega-millions lottery].  I know he sees me.  We make eye contact.

What does he do?  He walks down the block to try beat me out of the still hypothetical, available cab.  Since he is being rude with me, he goes for double and cuts another woman.  The woman then walks further down the block to cut him.  As you can probably tell, in order to get to win this way, one has to be moving further in the exact opposite direction of one’s intended destination.  We are on Sixth Avenue (or the “Avenue of the Americas” to those who arrived in the Big Apple after 1970) which goes north.  These two people are walking further south to get a cab ahead of each other.

I have my righteous indignation going.  Not at the woman; she did not see me.  The guy is the target of my wrath.

Of course, I have to walk a block out of my way (the man and woman were leap-frogging each other for the still hypothetical, available cab).

I catch up to the guy and call him out on his behavior.

He responds in a are-you-for-real look, “it’s New York” with a twang in his accent and a “f”-you shrug.

He did whaaaaaaat? He told ME, ME, a New Yorker for 46 years, what IS and IS NOT New York?  Is he kidding me?

Ok, I lose it.

I say, “Don’t you tell me about the rules of this town. I was born here. Did you ever hear of manners?”  (Actually, the “did you” came out like “didja” and the “ever” came out like “eveh”.  When I am angry, I lose “oo”s and my “r”s.)

The guy shows me the universal hand signal for displeasure.

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So, next I go down to the hotter-than-hell subway station, where everyone is letting loose.

And it doesn’t stop even when we are packed on the subway like sardines.

A woman with FABULOUS hair is flipping it all over everyone and my scalp immediately starts to itch from the contact.  No, no lice, but, hey, you never know.

There is a woman who looks TWELVE MONTHS pregnant standing while young people are sitting.

There is the guy who sits “wide” and takes up one and one-half seats and is also hunched forward so that he takes up the standing space in front of him.

A woman is screaming that some man is sweating in her personal space.

I turn to the incredibly pregnant woman and ask in an ordinary subway voice (i.e., yelling) if she would like me to find a seat for her.  She says she is ok in a way that suggests “I can take care of myself and who are you?” but she decides I mean well and smiles.

Someone gets up to get off at the next stop and then people insist that the pregnant woman sit down.

It was just the neighborly thing to do.

A Gym Moment

I stopped off at the gym for 20 minutes of cardio (how does someone with a family find time for more).

I bumped into my sister (one of the things I loved about the City being my hometown).  She was on her way to the locker room to take a shower.  Not a bead of sweat on her.  And every time I see her, I think cows sweat, men perspire and women glow.  But, SOB (sister of blogger) has a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes but no glow on the skin (other than the fabulous skin courtesy of our mother’s genes).

She passes me again as she leaves and I am on the recumbent bike, sweating.  SOB remarks, in that genuine way that only an utterly charming, yet clueless person can pull off, “Wow, you’re sweating!  Isn’t that wonderful!” as if this a discovery of an as-yet-unknown by-product of exercise.  Being the doctor, her knowledge comes from the results of clinical trials reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (that mag rag, as I’ve named it) or CHEST.  CHEST is really a medical periodical and not a late night pay-per-view show.  Only doctors don’t see the irony of the logo on the t-shirts distributed at conferences: “CHEST” written right across, well, er, the chest! OK, I digress.

Back to SOB.  I have seen her exercise and I can confirm that she never experiences sweat as a by-product of exercise .  She does the least she can do.  It is remarkable.  She should be able to deduct her gym membership as a charitable contribution on her taxes.

Our memberships in the same gym give us a common point of reference.  For example, the other day, I asked SOB if she saw the young woman with the BIG curlers preening NAKED in front of the mirrors.  I see this woman every time I go to the gym.  She has fake boobs and fake hair color and wears “come hither” panties as she struts in front of the mirror.  We had a communal “EWWWW” moment.

A sister-bonding moment.  Worth paying a lifetime membership at the gym.  And more.

Fantasy Football Undone

Remember the intro to “ABC’s Wide World of Sports”?  The announcer gravely intoned, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

Fast-forward 30 years, as I sit with my young son after an awesome first half of the Jets-Colts game.  Awesome because the Jets were ahead and it was his team!!  He does like Peyton Manning, the Colts QB, but my son IS a New Yorker, after all.

Then came the frustrating second half in which the Colts players showed themselves to be too much for our Jets.  Aggravation, disappointment and helplessness in a sports game generally means that older boys (as in 20s and up) drink away their sorrows.  Not so for a 7.5 year-old.  He has to have a tantrum the old fashion way — whining, being obstreperous, fresh and generally miserable company.  At some point, he pushed enough of my buttons — some I didn’t know I had.  I maxed out on the tantrum and matched his yelling with my yelling.  At this point, POB (partner of blogger)  — G-d bless her — ushered our son out of the room and said, “I have to separate you, two.”

So, there it was.  POB actually has two children but only one is really able to use age as an excuse (hint: not me).  Ok, so my homework is to figure out how to help my son channel his agony of defeat in a way that works better for him (and me) and how to stand tough when my son can’t.

Fantasy Football and Real Life

My son’s best friend is wild about football.  So, my son is now, too.  This is an awesome event because my son has had trouble connecting to peers in the past.

So, football.  Ok, two women raising a boy and he wants to watch football.  My son, who learns through reading — books, websites, whatever — said to me, “E-Mom, we need to fire up the iPod with serious football apps!!”  Ok, how did he know there were football apps?  So now we have THREE football apps on two iPods but because they are not iPhones we cannot play together.  Uh-oh.  I am feeling an upgrade on the horizon.

When kids want the next new gadget (or at least the gadget they’ve recently discovered) and are feeling extra deprived (as only spoiled children can feel), they no longer make references to the Stone Age or pre-WWII Europe, like we did or our parents did.  My parents would quote their parents, as in, “when we were starving in Europe, we only asked for food and water” to which I remember responding, “gee, sorry, can I get Frye boots anyway?”

No, our kids say things like, “we’re being raised like the Aaaa-mishhhhh!!”  As I remember, Kelly McGillis was very hot in that movie with Harrison Ford, “Witness,” about an Amish boy who witnessed a murder in Port Authority or Penn Station.  Ok, so I am missing the point of the intended scathing analysis of our child-rearing techniques.  Never mind.

It is important to listen to kids because they are experts in being children and being childish.  If they are happy all of the time, then you are a push-over, the moral equivalent of a chump, and, ultimately, a bad parent.  I hear tell of a magical zone where good parenting meets the right level of whining for proper childhood development.  This may be a myth (actually, I know it is because I just made it up). But there are books written about errogenous zones that exist only on runway models and elixirs of youth, so maybe I have found my way out of the daily grind by discovery a new theory.  Hmmm. 

What does this have to do with fantasy football?  Work with me here.  My son is into football and I have a fantasy that he and I will both survive his childhood and adolescence as high-functioning individuals in environs more luxurious than Amish.   Also, part of my fantasy involves my brother-in-law watching the football games with my son.  Here the reason why it is a fantasy: he is an artist and in touch with his animus and anima (I think these are Jungian terms) — that is to say, he is too evolved for football and in touch with his feminine side as well as his masculine side.  Bottom line — he is not a chest beater or head-butter.   Which makes him wonderful in general but useless at football.  Maybe he is a closet alpha male.  (Don’t tell SOB — sister of blogger — because she will un-alpha him in a NY minute.  She IS tough but gentle and uses her powers for good.)

I am rambling because my mind goes to crazy places on Friday nights as the work week winds downs and cartoons cometh in the morning.  I feel a good kind of tired — the kind that comes from playing with my son — tackle football, of course, and “keep away” and monkey-in-the-middle with POB.  Then as we wind down to bed time, we have pretend adventures — because my son has an incredible imagination — I am a British tourist to Oregon (who would not set foot in the former colonies) and only goes to place that revolted against the French, Spanish and Dutch and my son is my uncle George.  Then I am a Kenyan who travels to Jamaica in hurricane season (because the airfare was cheap).  Where does he get this stuff?.  Soon to be followed in a slightly altered Fred Flintstone voice as I reprise my “Big Tuna” role in an undersea world where I have a talk show and he is my little ramora whom POB, as Secret Agent Swordfish (don’t ask), saved on her nose as he fell off a whale.   I am exhausted to my core.

Now, my son who is my joy is in his jammies and reading an encyclopedia of something.  Because that is the way he is.  And I love him because he is kooky and loving and kind and imaginative.  And I can take no credit — I am genetically irrelevant to him.  He is like the most fabulous gift that keeps changing and challenging the recipient.  Sometimes, like tonight, I max out from his intensity.  But no worries, he will come charging at full volume into my bedroom tomorrow to wake me up.  Thank G-d POB is following with hot coffee.

I love my family.  I am blessed.  I am tired.

The Clan

On Sunday we gathered at my sister’s house for the traditional Jewish post-Christmas brunch, to go over the number of tourists who got in our way and the number of merry people who infected the usual ennui and bad humor that are so quintessentially New York.  Because we are open-hearted, if narrow-minded, my sister’s Catholic husband was welcomed to join. We sat down to a traditional meal — high in salt smoked fish oils and low nutrition and low in any nutritive value.  Not a vitamin in sight.

But something different happened this Sunday, and I have yet to process the event fully.  I saw — or else I would not believe this — my sister cook something.  Our cousin can no longer eat the usual fare that is our cultural comfort foods.  My sister, who had never before used her stove, made our cousin freshly scrambled eggs.

Last year, she got married to a wonderful man who is kind and always in a good mood.

This year she is cooking nourishing food.  I can see a trend, but I can’t yet see the trajectory.

For background, my mother and I had suggested to my sister, when she bought her apartment in 1999, that she just convert the kitchen to a den.  All she needed were a phone, a stack of take-out menus and a mini-bar fridge for diet coke. But she insisted that an apartment needed a kitchen.  So we suggested that she get the fiberglass demo version of a stove to save some money.  A few years after she moved in, my partner finally took out the plastic envelope with the care instructions and warranties and turned on a burner.  (I was horrified that she diminished the resale value for no apparent reason.)

I was nervous seeing my sister at the stove, thinking she might hurt herself.  Our cousin was so touched at my sister’s domestic effort once he realized that she never cooked anything for anyone, even her husband.  Also, our cousin is a life-long bachelor (save for a short-lived marriage a long time ago) living in a tiny studio with a mini-bar fridge, and therefore unaccustomed to home-cooking.  He could not stop complimenting my sister on the eggs.

We forgot to kvetch about the tourists or the merriment that interfered with our hardened and mean personalities.  Instead, at this brunch, we just all talked and were glad to be together.

Next year, we may be singing folk songs and a bonus round of kumbaya or maybe my sister will have knitted each of us something in seasonal colors.  I think I’ll read up on Ebenezer Scrooge, so I know my part and can be the standard bearer against the march of time and humility.  I hope Scrooge doesn’t get nice.  I don’t “do” nice.

You see why I am worried.

Fairy godmother/angel of love comes back

 

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Much to my relief, the fairy godmother/angel of love is a performance artist, which means while she is a free spirit she is trying to make money to survive.  Which also means that she is a good actress so she has talent.  When you put money in her bucket, she flaps her angel wings.  And she had a new message yesterday:

 

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Laughing is the best antidote

After a fitful night’s sleep, my son wanted to pretend we were trains this morning before he scampered off to camp.  After going to Penn Station to watch all of the trains recently (like one big electric train set), he wanted me to call out the Ronkonkoma, Long Island train station, in that sing-song way that the conductors do, while stressing the Ks:   “RON KONKKK KOMA!! RON KONKKK KOMA!!”  I am half asleep and yelling “RON KONKKK KOMA!” RON KONKKK KOMA!”  It makes my head pound but my son’s delight makes it worthwhile.

No turning over and napping after this day’s version of morning cuddle.  Coffee and aspirin.  Antacids (for the burning caused by the coffee and aspirin).  Repeat until fully conscious.

Once fully conscious, I turn on the TV to have, as Jon Stewart has said, my morning cup of sadness.  Today, RAGE accompanies sadness.  I blog my rant against Glenn Beck.  I feel better.

I shower and dress.  I even pack gym clothes.  Wow, amazing what a morning’s expiation will do.

I eat lunch with an old friend with whom I have recently reconnected.  We laugh all through lunch about everything and nothing and I feel like a weight is lifted.  Laughter is the best antidote to life’s sadnesses and ills.

Drink a cup of laughter next time you have the opportunity.