Monday, March 5, 2018

I wanted to help

We were in another town last night.

D has his general doctor's appointment and we met a friend for dinner.

We were looking at dessert when my friend's phone went off. She answered and I saw all the blood leave her face.

Her father had been in an accident and was taken to the hospital. D and I split up. I went with her. D took Belle and we went to the hospital. On the way there, my friend was told her dad didn't make it.

I sat with her for the first hour of so of the surreality of a loved ones death. We didn't talk a lot. There was nothing I could say or do. Also she's an old friend, we've filled silences in college and after. We've traded authors that we love. This wasn't the first time we've cried together, it won't be the last.

I wanted to hold her and let her cry. I wanted to tell her that everything would be okay.
But of course it won't. She has a dad-shaped hole in her life now.

I wanted to wave a magic wand and make it all go away. Moreover, I wanted to wave a magic wand and give her her father back.

People ask, "what can I do?" when someone dies. What I wanted, more than anything was for someone to give me my mother back and that's the one thing that can't be done.

The rabbi who taught me when I was growing up said that there were three great mitzvoth that were the most important.

Visiting (and cheering ) the sick.
Gladdening the heart of the bride and the groom.
Comforting the bereaved

I don't think that these mitzvoth are so important because they are easy. In fact I think these are the most important because they are hard.

Visiting people in a hospital is not easy. It reminds you that you can get sick. It reminds you of the frailty of life. It's scary. To see someone you care for, strong and vital--not so strong and vital.

Gladdening the heart of the bride and the groom, is easy--and not so easy. I mean there are groomzillas, bridezillas, and a whole lot of change that you have brought on yourself. While it is (or should be) a happy time, friends who cheer you--well then they are good friends.

Comforting the bereaved.
I am getting too much practice with this. Since 2018 began, my heart-sister lost her father--equally suddenly as my friend did today. My father's lady friend, the one who helped him through mom's death passed away. And my friend's dad. There are people who don't call or visit because they don't know what to say. So don't say anything! Let your friends and loved ones hold you and be held by you. Feed them. Invite a widow or widower out to dinner. The world is so filled with couples once you've lost your other half people sometimes act as if it might be contagious.

I wish I could shield her from the stupid things people will say. I wish I could shield her from the sounds of mourning. I wish I could shield  her from the reminders of loss which will be so sharp for the next 365 days. After the first years the reminders are still there. The sharpness is still there, but it isn't so frequent, and it is a microscopically amount duller.

I wish I could help.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I Believe The Children Are The Future

According to Facebook today is the day that my publishing job was "eliminated."

That was four years ago.

Since then I have done contract work. I have done freelance work. I have become a tutor. I have spent valuable time with my beautiful daughter.

While I no longer have any anger towards my former boss, I do have a bit towards the changes at the company that eliminated my job. I'm working on it.

Without it though I wouldn't be hopeful for the future. You see, I tutor.

I have a bunch of students ranging in age from 9 through 17. There's not one I dislike. They are all very different. Except this past week.

They all wanted to talk about the shooting in Florida.

The 9 year old had been shielded from the news, until that morning when her teacher talked about it with the class.

"Why would you allow someone who wants to shoot people to buy a gun?" she asked.
"You can protect yourself with a revolver." She said--using one of her vocabulary words. "You don't need an assault rifle."

One of the 16 year olds said, "I'm scared. I mean I'm seriously scared. I'm supposed to take the SATs in a month. What if someone comes in with a gun there? I mean seriously what if someone comes in to the SATs with an assault rifle? Fuck the NRA, I shouldn't have to worry about this when I'm studying all night for the SATs!" If she expected me to scold her use of the "F" word, she was wrong.

Three of the kids are, at their respective schools, organizing the walkouts and marches on Washington. (March for Our Lives, National School Walkout, and there's another one on April 20)  They are asking me if the colleges I've heard about will have issues with them walking out. I checked with my alma mater and they said absolutely not--as long as they will be peaceful.

We've been talking about the constitution. We've been talking about the amendments--all of them.

I'm so stinking proud of these kids. I'm so honored that they talk to me and ask me questions. They like it when I don't pull my punches. One of them said, "You know, I thought when you grew up and became an adult you had all the answers." I shrugged and said that wasn't the way it is.  My student grinned widely, "It's kind of nice to know that you guys can really screw stuff up too. I mean I figured it out since Trump was elected, but still--damn you know!" I couldn't have said it better myself

Were going through a dark time right now politically. Our leaders have lost their souls. Our leaders like the money they get from the NRA more than they like children's lives. Our leaders respect the right of people to own things that can kill them, rather than our right to exist.  I think that these kids will be voting differently in November.

I watch these kids and I have hope.

Monday, February 19, 2018

I'm hoping this time it is different

Another school shooting.

I've talked about my feelings here and that was nearly three years ago.

I'm heartbroken for the parents. I'm heartbroken for the kids.

But I have to say that this time I have hope.

The students of the school have decided that they are tired of waiting. They are organizing walkouts. They--the ones who will be old enough will be voting this November on an anti-gun platform. I'm quite proud of them. I'm hopeful that maybe this will change.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentines and Consent

Wednesday is Valentine's Day.

My five year old has diligently written out 25 Valentines to everyone in her class. She also wrote one for her teacher and her father and I.

She will likely receive 24 Valentines as is right in Kindergarten land.

But when does it stop being right?

Look at this school which tells all the girls (and the boys we assume, but it is unclear) that they have to say yes if asked to dance. They must dance with the person who asked them. This bothers me. Even in middle school if I had been asked to dance by some of my classmates, it would have been to somehow humiliate me on the dance floor. Should I have given the mean girls Valentines?

Are the kids still supposed to hand out Valentines to everyone? At what age do we just say, you do what you want. At what age do we tell them that yeah, Valentine's is kind of a crock. I mean if you're with someone who only tells you they love you on Valentine's day is that a good thing?

At the high school where D teaches, the kids have singing telegrams and carnations delivered, similar to my own high school experience. I remember well the Valentine's day when all of my friends had something and I had had nothing. I remember the Valentine's Day when I got a carnation from "your secret friend." To this day, I don't know who sent it, but it made my day.

As much as we want our children to be a part of things and to fit in sometimes they will be excluded. It's our job, as parents and people who help raise these kids to cushion the blow--not make it so the blow never lands.

As for us now, Valentine's Day means that I will make a yummy dinner. Then on the day after Valentine's Day my husband will get chocolate that is on sale.

That's love.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


My mother was big on mitzvot.

For those who aren't Jewish, mitzvot is the plural of mitzvah.
Mitzvah means a meritorious or charitable act according to Merriam-Webster.

That covers it, but it doesn't.

Mitzvah is doing something to help someone else.

Listening to a friend go on and on and on and on about the ex that she now wants back.
That's a mitzvah.

Helping someone move.
Cooking for someone who is sick or bereaved.

I can't count the times I would come home and see a (former) mayonnaise jar of soup on the kitchen table with a post-it telling me where it was supposed to go. Before I drove it was for a neighbor I could walk to. After I learned to drive it could be for a relative. Mom believed in mitzvot.

Today I did a mitzvah. One of Lotus' preschool teachers is battling breast cancer. She put a call out on Facebook asking if someone could drive her to chemo. I said yes.

It made me think of the times I sat with my mom at chemo. Lotus went with us and charmed the other people. I told her that she had done a mitzvah.

The thing that I want to talk about this is that for the time I was with her, I didn't think of myself and my lousy job prospects. I didn't think of the occupant of the White House and how he and the Congressional Republicans are ruining the country. I was there. Listening. I was present.

I think I need to do more good deeds. Then maybe if I do more good, the people I do good for will do more good deeds. Maybe we could talk about the good that we do and maybe it can be more than the sh*t that the congress does.


In the meantime I think that I will be trying to make this little corner of the world better. It can't hurt.

What is something someone has done for you?

Monday, February 5, 2018

We evacuated - Microblog Monday

"We evacuated."

That was my husband's simple text. I didn't even hear it come in, I just glanced at my phone and my whole body went rigid.

My husband is a High School chemistry teacher. The last time his school was evacuated was due to faulty chemistry equipment. But this wasn't anything wrong in the chemistry department.

It was a suspicious package in the students bathroom.

I tried to not think about it. I tried to make it simple--like the kids who were enjoying the break from normal school stuff. I wasn't too successful.

People seem to be belittling others for wanting safe spaces. I don't understand that. Do you want to go somewhere that you don't feel safe? Kids should be allowed to feel safe at school. I should feel safe sending my child, sending my husband to school. I don't. I worry where I didn't before. Schools should be safe, damnit. Schools should be safe from bullies--in the form of teachers or students. They should be safe that the kids aren't drinking contaminated water.

They should be safe from guns. They should be safe from bombs.

My husband is home now. Exhausted. The kids handled everything amazingly well--especially the kid who saw the suspicious package and went out and reported it. The teachers were calm and collected. They made the best of bad situations. We count on our teachers to keep our children safe and then decide that they don't deserve any respect for it. We act like they are "only in it for the money." Yeah. Right. And to be fair why shouldn't teachers get a good salary. We don't say about a doctor who saves our life that "he's only in it for the money."  Teachers are valuable.

Especially the one I'm married to.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tired of being tired of stuff - Microblog Monday

I stared at the computer screen for a while before writing this blog posts.

There are a bunch of things I felt like I should blog about.

The US Senate wants to ban abortion.
The occupant of the White House is making a speech.
I've read some good books.
Lotus is growing.

But I'm tired right now.

I'm tired of being angry a lot.
I'm tired of my husband being angry.
I'm tired of robocalls.
I'm tired of watching how much money we don't have.
I'm tired of worrying that some maniac with a gun will shoot up my husband's school or my daughter's school.
I'm tired of worrying in general.

I'm just tired.

I miss my mom.

I miss the way I used to think that people are nice and kind in general. I don't know that I believe that anymore. Yeah, Anne Frank lived during the Holocaust and believed that people were really good at heart. But she was better than I am.

I'm just tired.