Monday, March 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Loving My Neighbor

Growing up, our next door neighbors were our dearest friends. I called them Aunt K and Uncle B. If my mother wasn't home when I got off the bus from school I went next door and played in their basement. Uncle B. taught me how to hammer a nail--including how to swear if I missed and hit my thumb. I was told that the words "Shit! Goddamnit! Shit!" in that order was the only way to respond when I missed the nail and hit my fingers. That being said--those words were only for that occasion. I believed that until I got to middle school.

Our neighbors were Catholic and we were Jewish. Every Christmas morning for years we went over there for breakfast where Santa had dropped a bunch of gifts under their tree. Because my parents were on vacation out of the country, Aunt K and Uncle B knew that I became engaged to D before my parents did. I grieved when Uncle B passed away and I still stay in touch with Aunt K.

Because we had such wonderful neighbors I learned how to be a good neighbor. Our across the street neighbors (our house was at the end of a street) were not as wonderful. They loved leaving their car right behind ours even though multiple cars could and did fit into their driveway. They were snobs and told my mother to "watch out for the silver" when I invited my multi-racial group of friends over. But they were our neighbors. Many was the time I would come home and mom had made chicken soup. On the kitchen table was one or two extra containers filled with my mom's chicken soup. She'd tell me to take them next door or across the street because they were sick. If there was death it was a macaroni casserole with our name in masking tape at the bottom of the Corningware pan. This was reciprocated. When I was sixteen, I vented to Aunt K about my crush and how he didn't know I existed and on and on and on.  After giving me a wonderful and nonjudgmental ear, I came home on a very cold day to see a pint of Haagen Daaz chocolate chocolate chip ice cream on our front stoop. "In case of heartbreak," the note read. "open pint. Take spoon. Ingest."

I am lucky that the streak has continued. We have wonderful neighbors. Our next door neighbors teach Lotus about flowers and plan to teach her about gardening. Across the street comes over with their snowblower--often--to dig us out. We say thanks with chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

Love your neighbor is at the center of just about every religion. Help your neighbor.Take care of each other. This is why the Republican Health Don'tCare plan astounds me.

Republicans are supposed to be moral. Where is the morality of telling people that if you aren't white you don't deserve health care? Where is the morality of taking health care from people who need it most. Republicans are churchgoers far more then Democrats. Were they absent when they taught that page from the Bible?

Health insurance is moral to me.  If I am healthy I want the money I pay into insurance to go to help someone who is sick or who, God forbid, has a sick child. If you want health insurance to only cover you, and not your neighbor you have no right to call yourself a good person--regardless of religious denomination. One man asked why men need to be paying for pre-natal care. Was he immaculately conceived? Isn't it a good thing as a nation to have a healthy populace?

I will be calling my congressman and senators and explaining that I want my neighbors healthy. I want my family healthy and I will work like hell to unseat anyone who votes for this bill. I hope all the Americans reading this.

That being said--what are other neighborly things that you like to do?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Microblog Monday - If you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught

For the past year, one of the ways  I have been earning money is by tutoring.

I love it. I love talking with the kids and listening to them.

My favorite pupils are siblings.  The boy is a seventh grader. The girl is a high school sophomore. They are wonderful. They are first generation Chinese immigrants and after they learned that I am raising a Chinese daughter, we set aside five minutes from each lesson so they can teach me "things that a stupid American wouldn't know to teach her Chinese daughter."  (Their words, not mine, but I'm not offended.)

They also talk about how they feel and I am watching them grow, and change.

The boy. I'll call him, Rob, was monosyllabic when we met. Now he talks to me in multisyllabic words. Part of that is trust. I say with only a little pride that he trusts me. I've watched him going from regular teenage boy to activist. We cut tutoring short a few weeks ago so he could go protest at the airports.

Another boy I tutored will run for President of the United States. This is what he says and I believe him. I would vote for him--he's more mature than the person in the White House now.

Then there is the teaching of a little girl which is part of my job as mother. Since I'm not earning as much we've cut down on her Pre-K classes. She goes 3 days a week and then the other two we have as "girls days." Sometimes we sit cuddled in front of the TV.  Sometimes we go to the playground. Often we go to the library. And then there are days I teach her. I teach her about baking. I teach her about mitzvoth. I teach her about me.

And I learn.

I learn that sometimes she misses her China Mommy even though she doesn't remember her. Sometimes she wants her China Mommy, but she wants me too. I learn that sometimes it's okay just to be sad for a while. I learn that hugs are really great.

I've been debating of turning this love of individualized teaching to teaching in front of a classroom and I'm not sure. Until I am though, I like what is happening now. I like helping the kids through frustrations and I become hopeful that they will make the world they inherit better.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - Amazing Grace

No, I'm not going to start singing.

I have a good voice and it's a fine if over-sung song but that's not what today is about.

Yesterday there was an award show. The Oscars.

At the end of the award show--the Best Picture award, the most prestigious one, was mistakenly given to La La Land instead of to Moonlight.  People rushed onstage and after some awkwardness (best shown here) things were straightened out and Moonlight got to take its deserved victory lap.

I've attached a (not very good) video here.

The most extraordinary part comes around 3:19.  Jordan Horowitz has announced that there has been a mistake. Jimmy Kimmel tries to joke around things and Jordan Horowitz, like the adult he is, said "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."

Wow.

When you think of our political discourse and how it would take a ladder to raise it to the sewer.  To see this grace in the face of horrible disappointment--well it makes me proud. It makes me proud that these artists can remain friends.  It makes me proud that there is still such amazing grace in people.

Bravo Moonlight.
Bravo La La Land

Bravo Jordan Horowitz.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Microblog Monday - We have something in common. We can build on this.

Hey Trump Voters.

I'm not going to ask you how you feel about your choice.
If you're happy and you think he's doing wonderful things and you like the idea of the United States being a part of Russia--nothing I say is going to change your mind. Nothing you say is going to change my mind and the best we can do is wish each other a great day and start talking about the Mets. (I'm really liking their chances this year--just saying.)

But maybe there is someone out there who voted for Trump who is maybe not feeling too happy about their choices. Maybe we can talk.

In the words of David Addison of Moonlighting.

Hey--let's talk about books. Me? I read left to right--how about you?
And when I'm in temple I read right to left--you?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's talk about eating. I like to eat.
I have food allergies. Do you know someone who has food allergies?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's get deep and talk about sex.
Who would have guessed it! I like sex too!
I think everyone should have plenty of sex with whoever it is that they love.
You?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

I'm not talking about people on the far right and far left-- they are forgetting that there are more people in the middle. I am in the middle. I want to talk to others in the middle.

If we don't--that is when America will die.  It won't be because of the current President. It won't even be because of the current Congress  America will die because we forgot that the people on the right side of the aisle cries tears when they are hurt--the same way those on the left side of the aisle do.

I live in New Jersey. I love my child with every breath in my body.
I believe that the woman in Kansas loves her child with every breath in her body

I am a Jew and my religion fills something in my soul.
I believe that Muslims and Christians find something in their religions that fill something in their souls.

I am a woman and I am deeply in love with a man.
I believe that love is so deep that it transcends gender.

We have something in common. We can build on this. Let's start to try.










Monday, February 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Trust Me

I'm going to start out by saying this is not what I mean to be writing about.

I planned to write about how parenting Lotus is both easier and harder now that she can assert her opinion.

Then I saw an article that a friend linked to on Facebook. Then another friend and another. It was a headline guaranteed to make me see red and start pounding at walls. Then I planned this whole other blog post about how terrible things are today with lawmakers trying to roll us back tot he stone-age.

Then I did my due diligence on the article.  No, I will not link to it. Because--it isn't completely true.  In fact it is mostly untrue.

Is the law talked about in the article reprehensible? Yes.
However, it isn't happening.

With 45's constant and consistent attempt to discredit the media and his reliance on news sites that is demonstrably untrue--though he doesn't see it or acknowledge it--it has been difficult to know where to trust.

I refuse to be like 45 and say "I heard." I have to back it up.  I have taken a page from Mel and trust a few news sources. But I also read other sources so I know what other people are talking about--and in this case, there is enough wrong stuff, it doesn't merit my linking to it. Moreover it doesn't merit my anger.

I miss being able to trust what I read on a news site. But unless it is in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, or NPR--I just can't. I trust these sources because I know how hard it is to meet their journalistic standard.

What news sources do you trust? And why do you trust them?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why kids don't like to read - Microblog Monday

Since one of my contracts ended I have been making ends meet as a tutor.

I love it more than I thought possible.

One part of my tutoring is something I like to call reading counseling. Where I talk to the kid--most often 7th/8th grade boys and I match a book with their personality and keep trying until something sticks. I am very successful at this.

Tonight I was reading The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems to Lotus. She was giggling all over it--and I think I realized why kids are having so much trouble finding something to read.

We have collectively lost our sense of humor--and think kids should too.

Tell me, seriously, what was the last Newberry award winner where someone didn't die?  Or even if all the named characters made it through alive--was there humor?  Brown Girl Dreaming was beautiful--but it wasn't a happy story.

How do we expect kids to escape into books when the stuff in books is as depressing or more than what they are escaping from?

I know of some books that are fun and funny and escapist, but they are looked down on by teachers. Reading these books don't "count" as much. If you put the fun back in books--you'll have more people reading for fun.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Broadway music saved my life--now it is saving my sanity.

Broadway music saved my life.

More than once.

When I was in sixth grade I had a horrible teacher. Think Snape--except without the forgiving back story. I was depressed. I was suicidal.

My parents were fairly oblivious. I didn't think I could tell them anything.  But they knew I was unhappy. They sent me to my aunt and uncle for a week. Where my aunt and uncle saved my life.

They took me to a show. A national tour of Man of La Mancha. While I had seen several musicals--growing up in a suburb of New York City-- this was the first one I climbed in and lived in. After that, no conversation was had without me bringing up Man of La Mancha. Which was my favorite song today? Then I would play it over and over --rewinding the cassette a myriad of times (because of course I had it on cassette since MP3s were decades away). I memorized the entire book of the musical. I read Don Quixote (a fairly bad translation) when I was 12 years old. I read biographies of Don Miguel de Cervantes.  I took comfort from the fact that even when everyone laughed at Don Quixote and beat him and turned away from him--he still followed the Impossible Dream.  It made me believe that I could go on and do it to.

I got through the rest of the school year. I think part of it was that I told my aunt some of the stuff my teacher said and things got better at home. Things got better.

I'm in a dark place lately. I want to just hold on to my daughter because she makes me laugh. She hugs me and makes me comfortable in a world that has grown increasingly uncomfortable. I then thought of what I used to do when I was uncomfortable and I thought of Man of La Mancha. Got the CD and listened to it. '

And today, today, it is helping me go on. Helping me say that I can follow the quest. No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

Below is Brian Stokes Mitchell in what I would say is the best version of this.
I will strive with my last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars.