Lazy Sunday–The Week in Pictures


Mille torbidi pensieri mi s’aggiran per la testa se mi salvo in tal tempesta è un prodigio in verità

 

My son pitched 3 innings yesterday and had 6 Ks. I missed it! I was working on  a project long overdue. I’m trying to learn a computer language at the same time so that I don’t have to look for as much outside help next time. That is, assuming that there is a next time.

I’m a bit too verklemmt for any real thinking. So, instead of working on less than a thousand words that I will struggle over, I will dispense the value of 8,000 words. Time-saver.

 

18 cents at the Hanscom Air Force Base Commissary
18 cents at the Hanscom Air Force Base Commissary

 

 

Because children don't already have enough incentive to consume sugary drinks
Because children don’t already have enough incentive to consume sugary drinks
I'm living at the Air Force Inn, Hanscom AFB. It's kind of small. I share it with my cats, Zoot and Dingo. I named them that because I cannot tell them apart.
I’m living at the Air Force Inn, Hanscom AFB. It’s kind of small. I share it with my cats, Zoot and Dingo. I named them that because I cannot tell them apart.
Remember I had to retain the  lawyer? This is where I sent the check from. It's near where I work.
Remember I had to retain the lawyer? This is where I sent the check from. It’s near where I work.
Marmota momax
Marmota momax
Broken guitar I'm going to take apart, and a craft my son made when he was younger. There is a place near our house called Whimsy, where kids can do various types of art, and when he was little there were a lot of birthday parties there. We have a lot of painted dolphins, my son's equivalent of Kandinsky's rider.
Broken guitar I’m going to take apart, and a craft my son made when he was younger. There is a place near our house called Whimsy, where kids can do various types of art, and when he was little there were a lot of birthday parties there. We have a lot of painted dolphins, my son’s equivalent of Kandinsky’s rider.
A very worried patient of mine from last week, prior to undergoing her ovariohysterectomy.
A very worried patient of mine from last week, prior to undergoing her ovariohysterectomy.
Do not consume
Do not consume

The New Year Arrives!


A Good 5775 to All of You!

Yes, 5775 years from Creation according to the Hebrew Bible. A short time, indeed, for the Grand Canyon, dinosaurs, the carving of the Great Lakes, etc!

Tough one to swallow in this day and age? You’re not just whistlin’ Dixie, buddy.

And get ready, ’cause for the next 10 days, you’re really gonna have that semitic noodle of yours twisted in a Gordian knot.

Why? Because we are,

once again, at

 the most difficult time of the year.

That season when we Members of the Tribe are stuck in synagogues all over the world, wondering 1) when the cantor will finish and 2) just what in tarnation it means to be  “One of the Chosen.”

nixon

A confession: I do not have faith. I find that not only can I not believe the information in the first paragraph of this post, there are a whole host of other things that are tougher to swallow than unrefrigerated gefilte fish.

Among those other  things I do not believe:

1) That a Deity gave to Moses a law on Mt. Sinai,

2) That He also  gave Moses both a Written Law and an Oral Law, and that the Oral Law was later codified in the Mishnah and the Gemara.

3) That the aforesaid Deity said “Don’t cook a kid in it’s mother’s milk” so that we had to eat off of different sets dishes for cheese and for chicken livers.

This time of year gets to be a pretty rough row to hoe, sometimes, especially since I have no intention of giving up being Jewish.

FAITH

I have no problem co-existing with so-called People of Faith, at least when they are not passing discriminatory or theocratic laws, engaging in mass destruction, cutting off heads, waging jihad or or going on Crusades. All in all, I’d also rather they leave the nativity scenes off of public property, but in those cases no one is dying or even getting bruises, so I do my best just to look the other way and remember that in a few weeks all that red and green annoyance is going to be in garbage cans awaiting removal, and the United States will start getting ready for Presidents’ Day sales. Apparently, Big Religion is not going away, so I will have to console myself by the thought that a lot of the time POFs can be the world’s greatest neighbors. As I am unwilling to renounce my Judaism, either as culture, history, or as my personal choice of mysticism,  I still voluntarily place myself in the midst of my coreligionists.   Hell, my best friend, zichrono livrakha, became a POF in the last decade or so of his life, and he was truly a mensch. (He was a mensch, though, before his tshuva.)

However, when POFs want me to believe, I think that they fundamentally misunderstand their own faith. Say you’re dating someone, and then on the 3rd or 30th date, she says, “I love you.” You might think, OK, hmmm, what does that mean? Or you might think, Oh, I’m so happy! You may even blurt out, I love you, too! It’s possible though that  you may instead think, Uh-oh, this is not going to end well. Imagine, in addition to that that the person making that confession adds on the imperative, “Love me! Love me like I love you!” Now you are really starting to get upset. Because while it is nice to be loved, being loved does not make you love. You can’t make yourself love someone. Neither can Bonnie Raitt.

Faith is the same thing. You can put hold a knife against someone’s throat, a gun to his head, his feet to the fire, but you can’t make him believe. You can make him say he believes, but it’s like that couple: you know you’re lying, she knows you’re lying, you know she knows, but for some reason–because it makes life easier at the moment–you just go ahead and say it. People who don’t believe are not going to believe no matter how many times they say it. The deed does not shape the heart. There are people who could go to church, synagogue, mosque, whatever for the rest of their lives, and no amount of prayer or observance is going to change the fact that they will not believe. They’re just not made that way.

So believe this, People of Faith, you do not want People Who Don’t Believe to say that they are believers. You do not want to consign them the 8th circle of Inferno. You do not want to require faith. Fortunately, we Jews have long tolerated the skeptics among us, and excommunicated heretics like Spinoza are paradoxically admired. I can dwell with the Believers, and we accept each other.

(Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.I am large,  I contain multitudes.)

PS: I am still hoping that G-d strikes Eric Cantor with the inability to speak.

 

 

 

 

La Bruja Continues A Costly–Emotionally and $$–War of Attrition


 

not cute
“Bless you, fair shrew.”        Twelfth Night, Act I, scene iii

 

 

Aren’t we done with this shit?

My friend’s cousin is from the Caribbean,and when she heard stories about the ex she just started referring to her as La Bruja. It wasn’t as if she said, I will call her La Bruja! or, She is really a bruja. Rather, the next time she referred to her it just came out in passing, as in, Is La Bruja watching the kids? There was no question as to who it was.  I rather prefer it to saying her name–one, because I have, alas, grown to dislike her name, and secondly, it seems more descriptive than derogatory.  I never say it around the children. By this point, I’d rather have nothing to do with her and not to have to refer to her at all.

But the need for punishing me in any way possible goes on, no matter the collateral damage.

Today I had to retain a Parent Coordinator–one is specified in our divorce agreement for the purpose of settling disputes concerning the children (there goes my son’s summer camp). You see: last year the kids were with their mother and her family in MA for Thanksgiving. This year, of course, was Dad’s family’s year– they were supposed to be in Chicago (which they look forward to) with my mom, sisters, etc.(whom they love immensely–my nephew is my daughter’s favorite cousin), but the edit that I put in the divorce agreement (the years were reversed )somehow got deleted before the final version. I should have looked closer, but the other edits were in and I must have overlooked it.  A purposeful trick, I’m sure, especially as La Bruja flat-out lied to me, saying the kids were in Chicago last year, as if that couldn’t be verified, as if the children don’t know. Anyway,  she refuses to do the right thing.

My remedy is going to the Parent Coordinator, at $275/hour, and the war of attrition continues. I would rather spend this money on my kid’s summer camp, but I cannot take away my 79 year-old mom’s time with her grandchildren.

Or can I ? What is this about? I hope it’s not about winning, but about the children. Is it about not letting someone get away with a purposely nasty act? Not letting a precedent get set that this won’t be tolerated? Shouldn’t I just suck it up (again!) so that my son can go to camp? Why should he suffer (additionally) for our idiocy (mind you of course, I’m responsible for only 49% of the idiocy)?

The Birthday Party, part 4


DRAFT

 

In spite of being separated for over 2.5 years, being divorced all summer, and the on-spot observation that both my ex-wife and I are better human beings when not in each other’s presence, my daughter wanted to have dinner with both of us. She is 11. I get it. When she took a long time on her birthday wish before blowing out the candles, I could only guess at what she was thinking. She has not held back for a moment on letting us know at every moment what she is thinking and feeling (including reconstructing the former version of the family). She does not wear her heart on her sleeve, but displays it on a large dirigible that is constantly circling overhead.

When she is angry, it’s not much fun, but at other times, when she is feeling generous, compassionate, kind and loving–which is quite often, actually–she is a contagious source of happiness.

So, in a way, even though she can be volatile, doesn’t worry me. I know what she is thinking. I know what she is feeling. And because I know these things, I can (usually) work with what I have with some sort of solid footing. She wants her mom and me–and her brother–together with her on her birthday. I can do that. I can behave, be sociable, and suppress the gunpowder when the ex either intentionally or unintentionally goes to light the fuse, which is easily ignited around here.

My son, on the other hand, is a cipher. In these past 2.5 years of separation and wrangling, he has only said one sentence about the divorce, in an aside to his sister. I have no idea what he is thinking. I do not whether he is angry, sad, OK with it, or–using his most commonly used adjective these days–annoyed.

I made it through the dinner. The ex-little woman made it through dinner (didn’t bat 1.000, but was close). I’m not in the unbiased position to judge my own behavior.

from extension.missouri.edu
from extension.missouri.edu

Unbelievably, It’s Available for Streaming


monkeybusiness


A Tale of the Search for a Formula of Youth

or that part of life which Grant’s character refers to as a period of

“maladjustment, near-idiocy, and a series of low-comedy disasters.”

 

OK, we all know that Netflix sucks raw eggs, even while we let it suck up half of the nation’s bandwith every evening. Given that most of the offerings are movies you’d never want to see, or bad cable fodder (which my 10 year-old daughter can’t seem to get enough of–she’s been through all of Cake Boss and Toddlers and Tiaras), imagine how surprised I was when the movie I wanted to see was actually available for streaming:

rogersgrant

Monkey Business (1952), a Howard Hawks comedy with Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and Marilyn Monroe. Thar she was!

Really, dahlinks, you must watch this. It is a brilliant comedy, at least for the first half, and a good one for the second.

MonkeyBusiness_Monroe2

The Birthday Party, Part 2: But I digress. .


 

 

So now my daughter is in fifth grade, and her birthday is almost upon us, but she has been worrying for at least a month about what we are going to do.

 

nixon birthday

This is tough. No dad wants to disappoint his children, even if when disappointment is inevitable, and even when the disappointment is good for them to boot. (No dear, we are not renting 2 stretch limos for you and your friends, and taking all of you on a whirlwind trip to Disney). Life lessons, you know. (Not that my daughter asked for that, but ya know, expectations higher than reality. Thank goodness we don’t live in Westchester County.)

Moreover, even though I’m divorced and have been living apart from my ex for over 2.5 years, this is yet another occasion where my ex’s and I  embarrassingly pitiful ineptitude  at co-parenting  will become obvious in exquisite detail to not only my children, but (alas) to anyone who ventures within shouting distance (the normal range of her communication) of my ex. Regrettably, she does not have a whispering distance,or even a discreet distance (example: my great embarrassment, with her screaming at me from across the lobby at the Middlesex County Courthouse, not to chastise me for one of my many defects, but just to relay her latest counteroffer; me, walking over,  trying to explain how the other hapless souls there were probably not all that interested in our divorce–except for the parts about Scarlett Johannson being an excellent step-mom–and that even if the others present were  somehow so bored with their own lives as to be interested in our very mundane fights, I did not feel like updating the small percentage of MA who had, impossibly, not heard my ex’s opinion of me, our marriage, our divorce, and my afore-alluded-to shortcomings as a parent, human being, etc. Meanwhile, the lawyers charge while we wait for the judge who is downstairs at, of all things,  a party, welcoming some other very average human being to the bench. So while they eat sheet cake–wait, do judges eat sheet cake, or do they get something nicer, the least he could have done was brought us up a slice, seeing as while he stuffs his cake-hole, we pay the lawyers, his little rush party costing us collectively over $1o a minute,  all the more annoying because nobody really seems to give a shit, the whole idea of containing cost is foreign to these right honourable  gentlefolk. . .)

And like most things, this party discussion will in all likelihood come down to a manner of money. My ex does not let a conversation go by without finding a way to dun me for some expense, from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous, from the petty to the vengeful (Yes, I did get the house in the divorce, but you should pay for the diseased tree removal because the tree was here while you lived here and if I amortize the benefit you received from its shade, and besides that I would really like to not have to spend all the money if I can get you to shell out something).

Anyway, we weren’t going to spend a  (relative) ton of money on the birthday party this year, most of our disposable income having gone to supporting our legal system (like our health system, the best in the world!). In the end, the ex caves to the kid, and I am left with a few bad choices, the least evil of which is contributing to a birthday party I cannot afford and which even has my daughter a bit nervous due to the social complications.

SO….

Indoor water park, here we come. Or rather, there they go. After last year’s birthday fiasco, I will send my money, but not myself. I will celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her in a less populated venue, with fewer guests and fewer complications, the week before.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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