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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Microblog Monday - Defying belief

I am a Jew.
I am now hated by the person who is commander in chief.
   Don't think to tell me about how his son-in-law is Jewish and his daughter is a Jewish by choice. If the President really cared about jews he would not have made a Nazi his chief advisor.

I am scared.
I am terrified.

I am holding my child close because I worry that someone will say she is an undocumented immigrant.

I am encouraged by the protesting.  there was no organized German Resistance to Hitler.

I am encouraged that I am not alone.

I am scared however that one man will destroy in less than four years what took over 225 years to build.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's done then

He is now the 45th president of the United States.

I didn't watch.

I will be marching tomorrow unless Lotus' sneezes turn into a full-blown cold.

I will  be fighting for health care. I will be contacting my congressperson. I will be making big fusses.

I don't plan to go away.

I am frightened. I am scared. I am furious.

But I'm here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Microblog Monday - My Real Grandmother

Lotus is named after my grandmother.  My father's mother.

I adored her. I looked up to her--even though by the time I was 14 I was taller than her.  When I spoke of my grandmother, I meant her.

But I met both of my grandmothers. I met my mother's mother. She taught me how to bless the candles on Friday nights. She put dots of honey on my fingers and after I said some of the words right I would lick my fingers. She would read Torah stories to me. I remember her scent.

Grandma G. passed when I was around 7. I remember the funeral vividly. I remember my mother ripping a black ribbon as it was pinned to her suit. I remember that so well that when I was at my own mother's funeral, I flashed back to that day and broke down. It became real then.

But this isn't about my mom--or not really.

I came across a cache of pictures of my mother's parents.  I never met my maternal grandfather, he died before I was born. My then 42 year old mother thought that her missed periods and nausea was extended mourning. She went to the doctor and was declared 4 months pregnant.

There are several pictures of me with my grandmother. But the picture that stopped me cold was a picture of both of my maternal grandparents--taken not long before my grandfather's death.  In it my grandfather is smiling adoringly at my grandmother and she has--an almost shy smile on. It's the smile of a woman who loves the man she is with. It is a beautiful picture of two people very much in love.

I realized that while I had met my maternal grandmother--I didn't know her. Not because I was a child, but because so much of her died with my grandfather. This woman, with the shy, loving smile, this was my grandmother. The one my mother wept for. The one my mother knew.

Lotus met my mother but knew her less than a year. Afterwards my father had a lady friend who slipped effortlessly into the role and Lotus loves her. She knows and loves my father. He is Papa. He can't count. Every time he asks Lotus to give him three kisses he counts "one, one, one, one" He makes her giggle.

Today, I was looking through more pictures and I saw a picture of my father smiling so broadly with my mother in his arms smiling back. This is a lovely picture. I sucked in my breath as I realized I was staring at my real father. The complete one, the one with my mom at his side. No matter how long my father lives, Lotus will never know this man. My father, when he was complete.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Aunt and Uncle

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that some people have been in our lives for many lifetimes.

Here I talk about my Aunt and Uncle.  I'll just call them Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Phil. Both teachers--down to the bone. My uncle taught music. One of his students was Donna Summer with whom he exchanged birthday cards until her death. Her death took my Uncle Phil by surprise--and hit him hard. No teacher wants to outlive his students.

My aunt taught history. She still does when she can.

Both of them outlived younger sisters. Their last trip on a plane was to bury my mother.

They have been married for 73 years.  No typo.

They are 96 and 97 respectively.

And they are dying.

They taught me how to live without children, and it makes me feel terrible that once we had Lotus my contact with them wasn't as frequent.  Part of that was--well parenting.  Part of it was that my Aunt Phyllis would time travel in her head.  Most often she knew who I was when I called, but we were always about to get Lotus.  And my mother was alive.  Hearing Aunt Phyl talk about her in the present tense broke stuff in me.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that when they leave this earth they will wait for me and we will be born again together.

But right now, I just hope that if there is a merciful Gd, he will take them together.

And I hope that they will hang on until I get out there to hug them, one more time.