Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Necessary Cattle Prod

This morning we went to do some errands. It’s a pretty hum drum activity for two people who consider themselves the edge of exciting. But we need to eat, and that requires us to buy food.  There really is nothing exciting about eggs and cold cereal, but almond milk is right on the borderline.

Anyway, there are certain places to go for certain things. Places where the meat is better, or the vegetables are fresher. This is the case for most people – except if you live in the middle of nowhere with no options. 

What is consistent however, is the way some people shop that can drive a person crazy. (I think there is a song by that name).  Let’s start with the way Men shop for food—and other things I presume. 
When Women wait on line they know when it’s their turn to empty their cart on the checkout counter. They keep moving forward. Men are still thinking about what they want when they get in line, and often prevent any movement at all. Housewives are not the only people who read the magazines on display. David does his best to read all of them.

Then there’s the people who stand right in front of the vegetables and make themselves big enough so no one else can possibly see what’s available. And if you do get to select your broccoli, the same people will look at you like your broccoli is exactly the broccoli they wanted. Such dirty looks. My mother would say,”You shouldn’t know from it.”

Moving on, if you are not prevented by the people who are so happy to see their friends that they gather in the middle of an aisle, with shopping carts blocking any possibility of getting through.  They see you standing there, ready to leap over the blocked area and they could care less. (This might be a consequence of people feeling entitled, and having no concept of things like space.)
And my favorite people are the ones who get in line before they finish shopping. So they either leave their partner in line or just start to check out and then leave their groceries while they continue to shop, hoping to return before the cashier finishes the mound of groceries stacked on the belt. The cashier is powerless to do anything but say, “sorry,” and wait.  This morning, there was a woman who left her husband in Line Three and continued to shop while he was checking out, and after he was finished.  And did she care?  Not  at all. Was he embarrassed, not at all.  It was just the way they shop.

Short of a cattle prod, and yelling “Fire”, there is nothing you can do that would make any difference to this kind of person.  Hey wait, maybe a cattle prod is not a bad idea.  We’re just Sayin’…Iris

Sunday, February 23, 2014

And Then There Was Sochi

In October of 1960, three years into the age of Sputnik, the space race, the math & science race, and a dozen years into the Cold War, the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev came to New York to speak at the UN. He demanded the resignation of Dag Hammarskjold, then UN Secretary General, and a few days later made what those of us in the 8th grade thought was the ultimate bullying threat. He took off his shoes during a speech by a Philippine delegate (who had accused the USSR of imperialistic maneuvering in Eastern Europe) and pounded the shoes on his desk.  Sitting comfy at home in Salt Lake, I took those threats seriously. I mean, who takes their shoes off and pounds them on a desk at the UN?  All the more so that Uncle Max (born in Russia, he was somehow my grandfather’s cousin, via one of those first/second marriage schemes which we later well understood about our Mormon neighbors, but less so in our own Russian roots from the 1800s) had come for dinner that Sunday.   He would have been in his 70s, still drove his Nash (the first reclining seats) and always arrived with a fresh roll of Cherry flavored LifeSavers, sharing them gleefully with the kids.  Those LifeSavers seemed to us to be way more amusing than the schmushy wet kisses the great-aunts proffered.  Though it had been years, Max still spoke and could understand his native tongue, and before the UN translators had begun their rather diplomatically monotonic translations, he was telling us what Khrushchev was saying.  It wasn’t really anything I wanted to hear.

I’m sure there were meetings in the Kremlin where the discussions centered around how to freak out Americans (decades before the term was in vogue) and just what kind of behavior would be not only acceptable, but play a certain role in making a threatening Soviet case to the West.  Of course things never go just as planned, and it was widely reported, although I forget by whom, that when Khrushchev first entered the Waldorf-Astoria elevators, zooming to a luxurious top floor suite, that he couldn’t understand why the elevators didn’t lurch wildly like the ones back home.  It was a time when every 13 year old American kid, especially one like me who’d spent several 4th grade afternoons staring west out of the Oakwood School windows, trying to see if we could see the ‘flash’ from an Atomic bomb test several hundred miles away in Nevada, pondered whether or not our fighters (F-102s) could shoot down their bombers (M-4 “Bison”) should it come to  a real confrontation. 

How it is possible for a lifetime to have passed by so quickly, I just don’t know.  I am now about the age that Max was when he came calling with the Lifesavers, and aside from a few stock Russian phrases (Spasiba, Orchin charasho, and Smotry! Volchunuk*) I am limited to nods, smiles, and the occasional French  “Pardon” to maneuver through the Sochi Olympic world. It is a Russia far different from even a few years ago.  The place is staffed with thousands of “volunteers” - the key to any successful Olympics, and they are by and large, smart, multilingual, helpful, eager to converse, and full of what I have to take as a hopeful sense of what Gorbachev called Glasnost and Perestroika (a two sided sense of increasing openness and reliance on the people instead of a centralized government for the propulsive energy of the society.)  I suppose Gorbachev is seen as the guy who let everyone down by dismantling the Soviet state, but as tough as it must be for many people, you have a sense that for a lot of Russians, they see a chance to succeed for themselves which rarely existed in the old regimes.  It is probably hardest on the folks my age who came to terms with the status quo in the 50s and 60s and probably thought it would never change.  All this stands in the face of those early press reports about the craziness of the not quite finished bits of the Sochi Games:  Toilets either 4” off the ground, or 4 feet,  rooms with doors that didn’t open, and stray dogs wandering through nearly finished buildings.  In the end, it all seems to have come together in a way that is surprisingly efficient, and pleasant.  In three weeks I have yet to meet anyone seriously contrary. I know that everyone is ‘trying harder’ but I have to say that what I have seen of the young people on this trip is impressive.  As opposed to our own kids, in addition to understanding how to program a cell phone, and operate in the neo-digital space we inhabit, I suspect more than a few of them know the names of the Bolshoi Prima Ballerina, and probably of a few modernist poets.  We are each, in fact, a product of our times, and I cannot forget the ongoing admonitions of Boris Badenov to Natasha in the classic  Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon series of the 1960s: “ What about Moose and Squirrel?”   If that can be the worst that is said of our two cultures, then we will all be the better for it.
you know it's getting near the end when the reporters take their chairs out of the arena
I can only hope that going forward their kids and our kids will have the same kind of chances to meet and mingle that we have had this month.  Beyond the excitement of the athletics, there is a wonderful quality of shared experience which the Olympics gives us, millions of viewers, thousands of in-stadium spectators, and that is something to cherish.  To hold on to it beyond the three weeks of the Games, aye, that’s the key.  But it’s worth being reminded every two years that these kind of rare get-togethers produce far more than mere glittering gold medals.  It’s the Gold Medal of the heart and soul which counts, and this week, I think there have been a lot of winners.  We’re just sayin’…. David

* (Thank You,  Very Good,  Look! A Baby Wolf!!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whither Weather

It’s snowing again.  Word has it that in Central Park they have 44 more inches of snow than is usual.  It’s just about the same all over the northeast. In the south, where they never have snow, they don’t know because no one has measured snow amounts before.  And in the midwest, no one knows because no one can get out the door to measure the amounts.

That’s the bad news, the good news is that I can catch up on all the TCM movies I have already seen a million times – but this month is the Oscar month so all the movies have won awards.  It doesn’t matter to me.   The only thing that matters is if they still make me cry. With that in mind, today I watched “The Way We Were”. The blubbering has not yet ceased. Thank God “Dumbo” didn’t win anything or that would really put me over the edge.

The roads were terrible today (of course they were, it’s been snowing since my 5th birthday.)   But I was out of dogfood, so we went to Pet Smart because they have the designer food Ty eats.  He loves to go to Pet Smart. Actually he loves to go anywhere he can be social.  Today he met a 3 month old Pekinese. They are the cutest pretend dogs imaginable.  Ty just wanted to kiss him until he cried “Uncle”. Eventually the puppy needed to leave and Ty cried like they were best friends in the whole world. The removal of his new pal meant we had to find other ways to be entertained. So we looked at pet clothes. Under ordinary circumstances, they are pretty hilarious, but I bet you didn’t know that Martha Stewart has a pet clothing line.  For a mere $30 your pet can have a  dark blue wool pea jacket.  And is it gorgeous, you bet.  But even I wasn’t going to spend that kind of money on pet wear for a laugh. (This from a person who bought a leopard skin lounge for her puppy).

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 40 degrees. That will mean a major melt and flooding.  The newcasters recommended we check outside to make sure the drains and down spouts are not blocked. Just how do you do this under two feet of snow.  First you have to dig out and  you have to find a place to put the snow.  There is no place to put anymore snow.  There is no second, so don’t expect one.  The sun needs to come out. Especially for those of us who need the sun to behave as normal people.  It’s difficult for me to be normal under any circumstances – so you can only imagine.

Let me share this secret. Weather is not my friend. The heat does me in. And the cold is almost unbearable. But were I to chose between snow and a warm rain, I would opt for a shower any time.  Snow Snow go away, give the rain a chance to play.  We’re just sayin’…Iris

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sweetness

Once Upon a time Hallmark Cards invented a holiday  (they invented many), to celebrate Love and mostly to sell cards. It was OK because who wouldn’t want to celebrate Love and buy a card to show how much you cared.  Feh! (That’s not a word,  it’s a noise which I think my mother invented to show her distaste.for something). But yesterday I realized that Valentine’s day celebrates sweetness. Not just candy, but the sweet things that happen to all of us, which we may not think about everyday.

When people post pictures of their children and grandchildren, they do it because they are proud of their accomplishments or just because it’s a place to let all their friends know how much they love them.  Facebook  isn’t an intimate setting to share your pride, but it’s very sweet.

My family is always so supportive of the things we do.  They are interested in all the places we travel and all our activities.  Why not, you say, that’s what families are supposed to be.  But that doesn’t always happen.  We have family in a great many places, and almost without exception, they are inquisitive and supportive.  And they laugh at our idiosyncrasies.  That’s so sweet.

Our friends, are many. Even though we have been out of the loop for three years, whenever we say we are going to be in DC, or Salt Lake or LA, we don’t worry about a place to stay, or the fear of being lonely.  It reminds me of when Jordan used to come back from LA and she would send a message that she would be on the plaza in back of Block Heads on 51st street from 1-4, and her friends show up in droves.  For us, we like to meet at Mark’s Duck House (in Falls Church) for dim sum.  They go out of their way to join us – even if it’s just a drop by.  That is so sweet.

 And speaking of Mark’s Duck House, I love to bring cards to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The servers are so grateful for bringing them good luck in a little red envelope that they fall over themselves to make us happy.  It feels so sweet.

And David Burnett on Valentines day always sends me something you can’t eat or wear.  Usually it’s a love note in the newspaper, But this year, since he’s so far away, he sent me a picture of a heart in the snow, with some greens in the middle. He made it himself.  Now don’t get angry kids I truly love you, but David’s thoughtfulness  is the sweetest thing in my life.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Ambassador Sure Could Sing

It’s been the kind of month that there was so much to write about, I couldn’t focus on one subject… until yesterday when it was announced that Shirley Temple died.  Woe are we all. Or at least woe is me. To be Shirley Temple was my fantasy. Even today, if I know one of  her old movies is on TV,  there I will be, glued to the screen. And it’s not just the “Good Ship Lollipop” era.  Her teenage years, when she performed with the likes of Cary Grant, were remarkable.

Like every other kid who watched her movies, I wanted to be able to sing, and dance and act. And I thought I could.  If only my mother had allowed me to take tap lessons, I was sure I could have succeeded in the same way as Shirley,  But no. She wouldn’t let me go to Miss Gerties Tap Studio because she said I wouldn’t practice. My mother was soooooo wrong.  I could have been a star.  Oh well, once again, dreams smashed to smitherines.  (Not quite sure how to spell smitherines, but you got the picture.) 

What was most amazing about Shirley was that she, unlike so many of her colleagues, had no apparent pill or drug problem. She was not a diva, nor did she act out for public attention. At 21, she left the screen, had a relatively normal life and became a successful political operative and and Ambassador.  My life could have followed the same course. If my mother had only let me have those lessons.  Instead, I skipped the part where I was a star and went immediately to political operative. There was no Ambassadorship. Or any high ranking job where people would have had to address me with a title for the rest of my life – like Ms. Vice President, or Senator so and so.  I repeat, dreams smashed to smitherines. (Who cares if I can spell it).

David (with Ron Bennett and the Ambassador, before the 'gray hair era') at State ca. 1983
And speaking of Shirley Temple, (watch this transition),  last week I made a quick trip to LA for Jordan’s birthday and a very funny show in which she was performing. (I apologize to all my West Coast friends and family, but it was quick and I didn’t have a car.)  A good time was had by all. However, a strange thing happened. We had cocktails every night.  Not just an ordinary martini or a rum and tonic, but  things like “a ginger spice gum drop”.  People in LA like specialty cocktails.  Every bar and restaurant has their  own designer drink..  While I don’t make a habit of putting surprise liquid in my mouth, it was a new experience.

David is at the Olympics shooting for the Olympic committee. Shooting with his old cameras . If you want to see him  just look tor the big cameras  and the mop of gray (Editor's note:  Silver, not Gray)  hair.  No one else has either or at least, both together.  Ty is vacationing  at Oscar’s with his good friend Bosco, and I am sitting comfortably in a foot of snow.  Tomorrow is Valentine's day.  It was my favorite holiday, then it wasn’t and now, I think it is again.
Home or away, David makes everything special.  Hope you  all have a romantic day, whether it be with a partner,  alone with your favorite music, or  with a good friend who has always laughed at the same things you do.  Hearts and flowers, always a good thing.
We’re just sayin…. Iris

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Modren? Maybe Not...



The hotel was described as “Discreet.”  Most hotels described as ‘discreet’ provide a place for illicit afternoon liaisons. No sign on the door. You either know it or you don’t.  Not the case here. Discreet means it is unmarked.  There is an address on the door but no other way to know if it is a hotel.  When you walk in there is a long narrow wooden table, behind which there may be a person. If not, you walk around the corner and perhaps, you will find an attractive, enthusiastic concierge, who explains that the hotel is quite unique in philosophy.  They want you to feel like it’s your home. Not my home for sure.  I have telephones in my home -- there is no phone in the room. Instead, they provide an iPad. In order to get anything, like water  (they had to go out and buy me some), or coffee, you need to Facetime with a stranger.  It’s is intrusive to the max. However, if you don’t want them to see you in your underwear, they tell you to cover the camera with your hand. (Duh!)  It’s the future. OK, we are old farts, but a phone and list of services works for me.  


Low and sleek...
Moving along. Let’s say you can get into your room.  You have to have stellar coordination to do this, because the key pad on the door goes from red to orange to green and you have to turn the door knob when it’s green, which lasts for about 1 second. Needless to say, there was no way I could get in to my room. Each time we tried to get inside, it was like “the Final Spin” on Wheel of Fortune.




If you do get into your room, here is what you will find.  Everything is very low to the ground.  It looks sleek, stark, and everything has clean lines. There is a  40” flatscreen TV in the living room, but when you walk around the corner to the bedroom, there is just a wall. In our home, we have a TV in the bedroom so we can watch and snuggle until we fall asleep.  Not that we can’t fall asleep without TV, but we prefer to have the option.  TCM? (Doesn’t that stand for Truly Cerebral Motionpictures?)    



 Store room? No, that's the bathtub.  Very handy if you are a 7'2" b-ball player
Continuing the tour... there is a bathroom. But the heavy frosted glass door to access it is so heavy that if you are not a weight lifter, it’s difficult to open it.  As was said previously, everything is low, long and sleek.  The tub is 100 feet long and two feet wide.  We tried to take a “together bath.” Elbows were flying, water was every where -- We  almost killed one another trying to stay in and get out.  The shower was not much better. It was impossible to take a shower without getting totally soaked.  That’s the point, you say.  Not exactly.  You might want to keep your hair dry; that can’t happen here.  The sink is long and flat, so when you brush your teeth and spit, the yuk remains in place like the cave paintings of Lascaux.   Not my choice of a visual.  We searched for an hour for a place which had both a mirror and an electrical outlet. 


The Vanity feature... mirror and electric all in one place

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Yes, I am... I do.  We are seasoned travelers. (Yes I did have my own room at the Embassy. Residence in Paris when Pam Harriman ruled the roost -- OK that’s showing off. Amazingly, other people used it when I wasn’t there), But for us, convenience is the priority.  In a hotel like this, they opt for visually pleasant instead of what makes sense.  I don’t want a hotel to be like my home.... If I did I would stay at some kind of “suites” hotel, where I have a fridge and coffee pot.  It’s like going into a newly renovated apartment house, where they have designed the kitchen to look clean, but there are no cabinets in which to put, pots, pans, dishes or glasses.  

And in conclusion ladies and germs, (there are no germs here), this is a hotel for young strong people who like the idea of having a “personal” chef... for many persons, and who can provide their own entertainment.  Me, I like a fitness facility, a bar, a place with action so I can people watch.  Some places are “not for me” places. But as my mother always said, “variety is the spice of life”. I have no idea why that relates to this blob, but I always like to mention Mom when I can.  Needless to say, we changed hotels.  We're just sayin'... Iris

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Gov, The Bridge, Yougottaproblemwiddat?

 
Once you are a Jersey Girl, you are always a Jersey Girl.  It doesn’t matter if you move to California, Massachusetts or Honduras. (Has anyone ever lived in Honduras?)  If you are from New Jersey, (and it doesn’t matter what exit off the Turnpike -- we don’t identify ourselves with an exit), having suffered endless teasing, you are always particularly protective about other people from New Jersey.  And the fact that you never have to pump your own gas at a service station.

That being said, I have been asking myself, (no one else cares, so I ask me a lot of questions), what do I think of Chris Christie and all the hoopla about lane closing and excessive advertising expenses.  

Let me say upfront, there are often high level staff people in any administration who try to be too smart, and too cute, with political decisions they make.  Anyone who has worked in politics has come face to face with these yahoo’s.  They think that they will win favor with their boss if they find a clever way to make a point.  Closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge is neither cute nor smart --- so let the investigations begin. 
There is hardly a person who has worked at a senior level in any Administration who doesn’t think, at some point, that they are smarter than the Principal.  They are usually wrong, and more importantly, when things don’t work, they might get fired, but they will inevitably really screw things up for the person to whom they answer. Staff doesn’t suffer serious consequences.  The loss of a job is just the way they will learn their lesson.

It’s a fact that I don’t agree with most of what Christie believes is the right direction for the State or the country.  But, I understand why staff people do stupid things.  Do I believe that the Governor didn’t know about what his staff was doing?  It doesn’t pass the laugh test. But what’s more important to me is that he went to the Mayor of Fort Lee and he apologized.  He has apologized again and again. Even in the State of the State.  That will make a big difference to the people who he represents. Jersey girls and boys alike.  Personally, I don’t care who knew what when. Other people will figure it out.  When you get seasoned, (not old), you just have a different perspective on political decisions.

Now, let’s briefly talk about the excessive payment for the advertising agency.  First of all, payments to all advertising agencies, are excessive.  Of course the Gov was in the commercials, hey, He’s the Governor!  And did the commercials give people an upbeat sense that the future of the State and all those devastated areas was on the mend? Yes.  And did most of the people in New Jersey feel comforted by the Governor’s involvement? Yes.  Christie is a no bullshit communicator.  All you have to remember is “get the hell off the beaches!”

I do not mean to be too forgiving, but we just need to keep this country and New Jersey, moving forward.  I remain a very wised-up Democrat, who maintains my sense of self and humor.  We’re just sayin’... Iris

Monday, January 13, 2014

the Pervert Bridge


At my college Reunion, it doesn’t matter which one,  we were reminiscing about 100 Beacon Street, which was ours, and the main dorm at Emerson College in Boston.  It was a colorful place to live – with a great view of the Charles River.  There were two pay phones – which we all had to use to receive and make phone calls – (obviously there were no cell phones), and none of us had enough money to make long distance calls home. That is until we learned to hot wire the phones. This enabled us to call home and spend about two minutes to fill our parents in on whatever we had done.  
It was a very different time.  Parents did not need to be in touch with their children every minute of every day.  In fact, when we called home for just a few brief minutes, our parents did not need any updating, they were simply happy to know we were alive.   And they pretty much assumed we’d make it another week till we called again.
In addition to making a few phone calls, we received endless calls from perverts. Perverts provided us with endless hours of entertainment.  When they called the dorm, we played a game called “get the pervert to hang up first.” You can only imagine a bevy of 18 and 19 year old girls, on the phone in the hall, grossing out the pervert of the day.  We had many laughs figuring out what would gross out a pervert. (I will not get into detail about what was said, but when I think about it now, I can’t do so without blushing.)

Back to the college Reunion.  We stayed in a hotel that had a big map of Back Bay in the lower lobby. And at some point we started to talk about things that happened at the dorm. One of the things we loved was when the house mother (Agnes) would get on the intercom and say,  “Under no circumstances should anyone in the dorm, (which was all girls), go to the back of the dorm and look out the windows.”  Of course, everyone in the dorm would immediately race to the back rooms to see what we knew didn’t want us to see – the.... 

Pervert on the bridge over the esplanade, with his fly open and his shlong hanging out. 

So, there we were in front of the lower level map and I realized that there was nothing on the map about what we called, the Pervert Bridge.  With Pen in hand, I remedied the absence of that important location. Afterall, some people thought about the location as where the Boston Pops played, and the local residents could think of nothing other than the perverts.
Here it is years later. 100 Beacon Street is an upscale condo, and there is no one who lives in that historic building who will remember the college lore about the bridge. Nothing remains the same. A close friend of mine, who lives in Omaha, has an uncle who lives in the top two floors of 100 Beacon, and they didn’t even know it had once been a college dormitory.  So, mostly, only the memories of just a few former college students remain. But, if you want to visit the Pervert Bridge, go to the rear of 100 Beacon Street, facing the Charles. And if you’re still not sure, visit the former Hyatt on Washington Street, and look at the map.  We’re just sayin’... Iris

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Noo Yeaz Eve -- Plus Thirty


Team "We're Just Sayin'..."   circa 1983

Sure, last night was New Years Eve, but more importantly, the Were Just Sayin team celebrated the 30th anniversary of the day we got engaged.  30 years, who would ever have believed that we would last 30 years.  David asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate this momentus ocassion. When we lived in Virginia, we would have gone out for dim sum with as many friends as possible.  And thats what I wanted to do. (We have no friends in Newburgh, just family and that works very well.   I apologize, David may have friends here, he, like our puppy, wants to meet and find some good, everywhere he goes). But thats not what I want to blob about. So we went to Washington and although we didnt tell anyone, we had a secret (it was our secret)  anniversary party with our friends, at our favorite Dim Sum restaurant. We knew that not all our dear friends would be able to make it so we made separate stops to see them.

We had been together and apart for five years prior to that night. Its unclear what happened that made him ask me to marry him, (except at Germaines suggestion I took everything that he had left at my house, and dropped it off at his one of his good friends. I usually say that I packed it up and threw it out on the street. And while that sounds much more dramatic, I lived near Dupont Circle and in those days it wasnt as upscale as it is today.  For example, I paid the drunks who hung out at the corner liquor store to watch Seth when he crossed the street to go to McDonalds. 

Anyway, I thought that was the end of a long and tumultuous five years. But not so fast, Fanny. (No idea where I came up with Fannyit just sounded poetic.)  He was away on one of those Days in a Life…” books. I think it was a Day in the Life of Hawaii.  Maybe he spent too much time in the sun, because when he came back, he took me to Georgetown and proposed there was no diamond exchanged, that came later.

That evening we had a New Years party at Germaines restaurant.  David had made some 3X5 cards, on which he announced our engagement. He handed the cards to Dave Kennerly and said, Im going to say whatever is on those cards in Japanese, (no he doesnt speak Japanese, so you can only imagine), and you read the translation in English.   Yes it was hilarious, but no one, including Kennerly had any idea of what was to come. On the last card he said that I had accepted his proposal of marriage.  Heres whats important, we were not kids and we knew if we waited to get married for more than 3 weeks, we would talk ourselves out of it.  But the third weekend was the Superbowl so we actually had to wait 4 weeks. Getting married was an excellent decision.

Last night (New Years Eve), we had dinner with family and reenacted the proposal. Yes, David spoke -- or didnt speak -- Japanese, and everyone enjoyed the presentationI hope.

"Happy New Year"  is something people just say when the year changes. It is a nicety. What of instead of "Happy New Year" we said something a little more substantive, like, "this year I intend to make your life happier by (fill in the blank).

 It's just a thought.  Now I have to make a plan about how to do that.  Were just sayin’…Iris

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pastrami and Other Holiday Delights

 
You know how, when you clean out the freezer, there are things that you don’t throw out because they sounded delectable or they were too expensive to just toss.  There has been a good portion of pastrami in mine for  months, maybe years and for whatever reason, it still remains in the freezer.  We are not going eat it, but this week I finally found a use for it.  When I fell last week and banged my knee, the result was swelling and a black and blue mark from right above the ankle to well up my thigh.  It needed to be iced, but finding one ice pack that long was nearly impossible, until I remembered the pastrami.  It packed flat so it was about 14 inches long and about 7 inches wide, just about the size of my injury.  No, I’m not going to eat it, but I am going to keep it frozen in case of another emergency.

After the pastrami story I hesitate to get serious, but I must.  There is a great deal of talk about media access to the President. There is a great deal of it but it is only of interest to a small circle of people who cover the President.  There is till a great deal of talk, but it probably is not your morning breakfast conversation.... unless someone in your household is assigned to the White House.

There is always a tension between the media and the communication people on the White House staff.  Over the years the Presidential staff has tried to limit the access of the media but  there is usually an outcry, so it hasn’t worked. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he confirms that there was this tension during the Clinton days,  but he says that it was Hillary’s idea to close off the Press Secretary’s office (which for decades was traditionally open to reporters.)  No matter who tried to do it, it did not work. Not until this Administration, for a number of reasons.  The Press continue to allow the White House to do what they want for fear of retribution, (the last Press Secretary threatened that “there will be blood” if the National News Channel didn’t listen to his foolish requests),   and the technology is so sophisticated that releases from the White House Press Office are picked up and reprinted by the media outlet as if it was their own. Writers can do this, photographers cannot. The public generally has no idea who did what. 

So when did this “no access”, closed press begin?  Probably on the day the Chief Justice had to swear the President in for the second time (you remember, he flubbed it on the first Obama inaugural.)  And all they had to do was get away with it once. From then on it was Closed Press event, after Closed Press event.  They even closed the event with the aging veterans of the Negro baseball leagues.  Why would they do that?  But a better question is, why did the league allow it?

This last trip to Africa for the Mandela funeral was a forty hour trip -- in the air. The only VIP who came back to talk to the press covering the event, was former President George W. Bush -- who had nothing to say but what he did say, he said off the record. Not that it mattered, but he made a gesture of good will,  and it was appreciated by the people with whom he spoke.  The President might as well have not been on the plane for all the conversation he had with anyone other than family and friends.  And since he has taken to ‘selfie’ photo shots, before you know it there won’t even be an official White House photographer to catch all the events no one else can.

And in conclusion, a few days ago we lost Tom Laughlin.  He wrote, produced and starred in the Billy Jack movies.  A folk hero of sorts, he was the first producer to advertise his films on TV, and he ran for President -- yes of the United States.  He had no money and no experience in politics. So what idiot would work for him -- you guessed it, this idiot. But that’s another blob.  We also lost Peter O’Toole, one of my favorite actors ever. While he is remembered for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, what he should be remembered for is his role in “My Favorite Year”, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” and, of course “Ratatouille”. He shamefully (for the Academy) never won an Oscar, though nominated 8 times.. And when asked if just being nominated was an honor he replied, “Second prize is no prize, thank you very much indeed." Now there’s a guy who should have been President!  Happy holidays

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh, the Holidays

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Last night I was walking the puppy when all of a sudden some black ice found it’s way under my feet.  It was 6:00pm, there was no light, and the ground was hard. Unable to stop my forward progress, I skied (without the benefit of ski’s) down the small hill in the front yard… fell forward, and landed hard on my left knee.  I yelled and yelled for David. In the meantime, the small flashlight slipped out of my hand.  The puppy picked it up and began to circle me. When David finally made his way outside, the light helped him to find me in the dark. Despite the obvious pain I was experiencing, it was hilarious.  Tyrone is applying for his Gaffer license.

This is not an “oh! poor me”, blob.  It is rather a reflection on mankind’s vulnerability.  You know better than to believe that for a moment, I hope. No, this blob is about the pithy and insightful thinking I do.

Yesterday, when I was shopping for a table on which to set up the new record  player, (it’s a real old time player that plays and transfers music from LP’s, 33, 78 and 45’s to a computer – we have thousands of these vinyls  but haven’t heard them in years.) I was thinking about what happens when my generation of cousins is gone.  It wasn’t heavy thinking all that. In fact it brought back memories of pretty funny stuff.   Like, who will be there to remember that when Aunt Helene laughed, she always laughed so hard she peed in her pants.  Or when Aunt Fritzie made kippers, the house smelled like fish and onions for three weeks.  Or that Aunt Betty bought  all our sexy lingerie when we got married.  Or that Aunt Sophie bought plastic tablecloths, fitted them, cut them, and if she didn’t like the way it looked, returned them – in their original packaging, (no easy task).  Or when anyone needed advice, Aunt Peppy happily offered it – even when not asked. And the advice was always colorful.

With some work, (as shown in The Gefilte Fish Chronicles)  memories, recipes,  and traditions,  are passed from one generation or the other, there are some things that you cannot pass on. The sound of a voice or laughter, the smell of perfume or after shave, or the feel of a hug. If you didn’t experience those things in person,  it is almost impossible to duplicate.  When mom died, her helper at the retirement home asked if she could take a bottle of the perfume she always wore.  It was her way to keep mom in her life. But she couldn’t duplicate the look she gave us when she was aggravated.  We can reproduce the tea and jelly grandpa made for us. And  we can retell the stories Aunt Sarah told us.  But we can’t see the expression on their faces.  It’s a little too much reality for my taste.

People often offer diametrically opposed platitudes.  Some of my personal favorites are,   “Life must go on,” or “Never put off anything you want to do, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”  And “you need to wait for your turn and good things will come.”  That’s pretty much like,  “Save today, because you cannot predict the future.”  All this is to say, -- We should all be encouraged to live our lives with good memories of the past, and enormous hope that we will be remembered in the future.  What I want people to remember about me is that I was kind, funny,  honest and had a clear sense of who I was.

When I write one of these blobs, I never know how to finish them.  So I will leave with this thought.   Once you have tasted the grapes of wrath you will ever be satisfied with bananas.  Happy Holidays.  We’re Just Sayin’… Iris

Monday, December 09, 2013

A Penguin Xmas

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Ah, the holiday season. Lot’s of foolish spending, too much eating, parties we never get invited to, and millions of nutty people gathering at Rockefeller Center to see THE TREE.  Which looks exactly like it did last year and the year before-- for as long as it’s been lit by LED lights.  But visiting the tree is something that must be done, especially if it’s not inconvenient.  All of the above translates into making NYC, the happiest place in the world -- Except for all the Disney Properties.

This morning I had a meeting on the West Side.  I did not revisit the tree. But as I came up from the subway, there were at least fifty Christmas trees chained next to a fence.  The trees were all tied up.  My first thought was that there was no need for that because they wouldn’t escape. Silly right?  But they looked so sad for green feathery inanimate objects.  Of course they were chained and tied because otherwise they would have been stolen.  Holiday season or not, the thieves are still sitting in waiting for an opportunity to walk away with something for which they have not paid.  

But that’s not what I wanted to blob about. In fact, I’m not sure what I wanted to blob about except people’s reactions to Mandela’s death.  When someone of his stature dies, everyone needs to say something.  That’s OK, he was a great inspirational hero. So his passing necessitates a remark or two.  But politicians that say they were inspired to “model their lives” after this wondrous human being, are pretty much full of crap.  What political person in this country is principled enough to spend 27 years in prison. Is there anyone who you can think of who has the leadership qualities, yet alone the courage, to live their lives like Mandela.  I don’t think so, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Every year we try to make plans for the holiday.  We used to have Christmas with friends and New Years at my house with friends.  I don’t like to be in crowds, so Times Square is not an alternative. (Kidding, I would rather be covered with honey in a place where the ants could have a picnic), but there has to be a better plan.  The nicest places we have spent New Years have been the homes of out friends who live on the west coast.  I doubt that we will be able to do that this year, but we are open for suggestions -- in a pet friendly environment.  

And speaking of pets, the other night we were at an event where they had the most creative hors doevres.  I thought I would share this with our blob readership because they made me smile. In fact I took a few and named them -- then we ate them, but such is life. And if you want to put a holiday smile on your face just take a look at these -- and figure out what they are.  Happy holidays and see you next year on the internet.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK + 50

 
Everyone who was alive and a functioning human being remembers where they were when President Kennedy was killed. It was one week past my 17th birthday, and I was hanging out at the student government office with many of my friends.   The Principal announced it over the sound system, and we were stunned, and in those days, confused.  Why would anyone shoot a President who was  so valuable to the nation’s happiness?

President Kennedy was young, and as far as we knew vital. We all wanted to graduate and spend time in the Peace Corps, or at least find a way to give back to the nation. Remember, we were the generation, who after the assassination, wanted to dedicate our lives to the cause of human rights and to the end of a war we all felt was  an injustice.

But back to November 22.  It was already a week past my birthday. So when everyone yelled “surprise,” in the basement of my house, I was truly surprised.  And now when I think about it, my friends opted not to cancel the surprise party. And because we were 17, and without a sense of how really devastating the assassination was, we partied like we always did, without any sense of anything outside the periphery of our everyday lives.

Now, fifty years later when everyone is writing about where they were on the terrible day, it occurs to me that it is not important where we were. Because what is really important is that we lost not only the leader of the nation, but we lost the spirit of what this country could be if governed by someone who understood the potential of what this nation could have been.

There was no President who ever had the kind of favorable ratings that President Kennedy had. We were all convinced that he would not only guide us, but he would protect us against outside sources who want to destroy us.  I remember that after the Cuban missile crisis we all covered our heads when we went outside. But there was never a time when we said, “this President is an idiot, what is he doing challenging the Russians.” Never. We thought if  he was going to challenge the Russians, it was the right thing to do. And we would all follow his lead.

His lead… He was an inspirational leader and a man with a quick wit and a determination that we have not seen since.  So yes, when I was seventeen, I was saddened by his death and the funeral and the devastation of the family.

But his death was the end of a dream we all had about the great nation we could be.   After his death we were on our own to do what we thought was right, without much guidance,. But to do it with great hope and determination, and to make a better future for all of us and the families we were yet to have.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's a Girl

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In years gone by, like when I was born, fathers did not participate in the birthing process. Dads either went to a bar and got drunk,  they went home to await the birth news, or they waited at the hospital and paced.  Mothers did not have a natural childbirth, unless they were poor or surprised.  The pregnant woman went to the hospital and the doctor administered some heavy drugs. The only thing the mother knew was that she went into the hospital, (with or without husband), went to sleep, and voilå, a baby.  In my case, it was a baby girl.

My birth was not without controversy. My grandmother wanted the baby to be a boy.  Apparently, she went on and on about it .  My dad didn’t really care, and rumor has it, he wanted a girl. My mom was so out of it, she didn’t even know she had a baby, but being one of seven girls, there was no surprise about what it was like to deal with a female. 

When I was born, everyone said I looked just like my dad, who had a mustache at the time. So the doctor, being of good humor, drew a mustache above my lip, and the result was astounding. I did look just like my dad.  My grandmother (his mother) was still disappointed, but at least I looked like him. My other grandparents, (my mother’s parents), were delighted by my arrival. And they, having had seven girls and one boy, assured my parents that my birth was a gift, and perhaps, one day they would be blessed with a boy.

What’s really interesting is that in my professional life, I have mostly had jobs that were traditionally jobs given to men. So you could say that I was compensating for the way my grandma felt by trying to prove that I was good enough, but that’s not the case.  The simple fact is that my dad always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. He said that I could do whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard and stayed on course. Thing is, that when I was in middle school I wanted to take shop (fixing cars and making wood things)  instead of home economics (cooking and sewing)  and they wouldn’t allow it.  It was my first run in with the injustice of gender inequity.  I was not going to settle for being denied a something I wanted, just because I was a girl….and that’s the story of my life.

It’s a few years past where I expected I would be professionally. But I’ve had an eclectic professional history with the only consistency being that every four years I have worked in Presidential politics, and the years in between, I have worked in great places in media, academia, government, and who knows what else,  but politics was my true love.

This is not a political blob, but after the first Obama victory, I left Washington, government and politics and started to produce musical theater.  It sounds like an unlikely transition. It is not.  There are so many kids in politics that I no longer belong. But mostly, this administration, about which we were so hopeful, does not make any personal sense. An administration, much like a human being, must transition from speculation (the campaign) to real life (governance), and this administration didn’t. But this woman did.  I am surrounded by family and friends. Tomorrow is my birthday and I would not change a thing. I have a wonderful family, a wonderful home, a wonderful career, and a life filled with positive expectation. No regrets, only hopes. What a lucky birthday girl am I.  We’re just sayin’.. Iris

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Upon the Ocean Blue

 
It is hard to imagine what some people find attractive about a dog or any pet. Yesterday we took Tyrone to the vet. He had tushy issues. When we walked in there were at least 10 dogs waiting for emergency service, each one less attractive than the next, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.  When you have the cutest dog ever, you can afford to be a little judgmental. But don't take my word for it. Every staff member fought over who would take care of our cuddly little schmendrick. That is not to say that he's a perfect pet. On the contrary.  Sometimes he is as loveable as is possible, and then, in less than five minutes, he becomes a combination vampire-turned-terror.  He nips, (we are told he will grow out of this), and he disregards any command we give him. 
Since he is being trained by a friend who trained police dogs, we try to use a manly man voice, but to no avail. He looks right at us, and does exactly what he wants to do.  We have learned that we must never let him off a leash when he goes outside because he has places he wants to visit.  At least he is house broken, or we are not sure which is truer.
The Cruise was so much fun.  We did only a little touring, but what we did was meaningful and usually included shopping.  We got up in the morning and had a leisurely breakfast.  Then we walked around whatever port where we happened to be.  While in port we looked for a place to eat lunch and find free wi-fi.  This was not as easy as we thought it would be.  Even when we had a password there were places that just had the sign up (“Free Wi Fi”) and no actual wi-fi.  After lunch we walked around a bit, but not for very long because it was time to relax.  We would return to the ship to lay out on a lounge and read. Thank G-d there were staff people who made sure we were comfortable and required no drinks or eats.  I would go to the gym around four and if David was guest lecturing we would go to his performance. Next it was time for drinks and music in the panorama room.  This was followed by dinner and occasionally a show. Whew. A week of doing nothing. The biggest decision we made was where and what to eat for dinner that was exhausting. 
coffee on the veranda, Capri in the distance

a line of 25 Ferraris at a rally in Sorrento @ the Excelsior Hotel

a 600 year old mural over your morning coffee? not a bad idea
                                            Iris and Kerry dining at Gino's in Rome
the elevator with the mirror that went to infinity...

The problem with an extraordinary vacation that requires a time change, is the jet lag, as well as getting over the fun.  But we are safe home, and glad to be here.
This has been a busy month for your friends at Were Just Sayin
It began with three weddings in 10 days.  Two of those weddings were Gay marriages. The couples were married legally by a judge but for the celebration, friends performed the ceremony.  Jordan performed one of them. All the weddings were beautiful. And the wonder of them as that they were exactly what the bride and groom and groom wanted.
So I read, with horror, the NYTimes article about gay marriages. What was really horrifying was the fact that Rabbis will perform same sex weddings but they are reluctant to perform mixed religion ceremonies. So, having waited for years and years to have a religious wedding, if you are a mixed faith couple, you are simply sh*t out of luck.  It may be me, but I think there is something wrong with that picture. Sometimes religious rules are simply stupid.  We’re just sayin’…Iris

Monday, October 14, 2013

One More Princess!!

 
Let it be known, I am not a curmudgeon, I am just operating on Disney over load. That being said, this morning I had a revelation. If I had to see one more little Princess skipping happily down the street, if I had to give one more high four when I left the hotel or if I needed to get on one more bus that took me to another bus that took me to a boat, I was going to stand in the middle of the street and scream ENOUGH! Loud enough to get arrested. OK, that is out of my system. Now I can blob about almost anything.

How about politics?  It is impossible to watch CNN or MSNBC, without wondering how the talking heads got so smart. They seem to know everything. And if they present questionable information, no one seems to care.  It's too bad that my "political time" has passed, because I am such a good story teller, it would be great not to feel compromised by the facts  -- some might even call it the truth.

Anyway, over 40 cities have immigration demonstrations this week. (Am i sure it was 40? No, but who cares.) One of the demonstrations was in DC, which I found curious since the Government is closed.  There they were, our Congress and their friends arm in arm, marching for truth? Justice? And the American way?  That's without question what Superman, or rather the voice over said, for Superman, on the Old television series.

Think about it. Then think about the shut down, then think about how to define those three question marked elements. If definitions don't roll off your tongue, I might be able to give you some assistance. Let's skip over the first two because truth is defined by how something is perceived. Justice mostly doesn't exist unless you can buy it.   But the American way is obvious. it's when a crazy person is allowed to go into a school, a bank, a grocery store or any public venue, with a machine gun, and shoot as many people as possible.  It's when some courageous person speaks out against a law that is so heinous, the majority of a constituency support common sense, but one maniac in a senior government position can just override good sense.  Probably I should have said, some maniac who wants to make war on women, is allowed to come at us (women) with guns blazing.  Do I sound cynical? Choose one answer:    Yes, No, or I meant to.

This blob is too depressing. I need to tell a funny story. OK here goes.  When we arrived at the airport this morning, some little kid, not in a Princess outfit threw up.  Not funny yet? Just wait.  It reminded me of every time we took a wee Jordan on an airplane and she threw up. Usually just before landing, but there was always a chance that mid flight she would connect.  We learned to pack three or four sets of clothes. The last time it happened, she was about 6 and we were coming back from Disney. When we landed at Dulles she had made it the whole way without an accident.  We were giving one another high fours (it was Disney) and celebrating a new day in the Burnett household. We took one step onto the Dulles people mover and voila, she threw up all the way to the terminal.  Not funny enough for you?  Sorry, it's the best I can do today.

Here's the good news, (you knew there would be some since I am normally an upbeat person),  my puppy awaits my arrival. It's been so long since I have seen him that I'm not sure he will remember me. But I am as hopeful about that as I am that some day my Prince will come.... Probably straight from an airport.  On a bus.   We’re just sayin’…Iris

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Magicalist Place on Earth

Let me say upfront, there is no way and place where 5 gazillion people gather in one limited space that can be considered “magical”.  Last night as I walked to the buses with all 5 gazillion, was my worst nightmare. That being said, Walt Disney World has  become a remarkable kind of vacation for people from all over the world.



The decision makers in the company, realizing how their customer base has changed, transitioned to policies that made good business sense. Without Walt, who was homophobic and I think a little bit of a racist, Disney World has opened it’s arms to people who are different colors, sizes, ethnicities  Gay, Lesbian,  and whatever I forgot.  We are at Disney World for a most joyous occasion. Our friends, Tevy and Scott, wonderful young men are getting married.  They couldn’t officially get married in Florida, because they are not allowed, (what a sadness), but they took their vows at the Wedding Plaza, and celebrated them in the park.  Cinderella transportation included.  The grooms looked gorgeous.



It is a month of weddings for us.  Last week we went to a family wedding in Miami. The bride and groom looked gorgeous, (yes they all did). The ceremony was outdoors on a balmy Florida evening, and then the party began.  We all danced and danced and danced -- the younger people danced til dawn. We didn’t dance til the sun came up, but we held our own. The sun was coming up somewhere, probably Ankara or Ibiza, but dance we did.




The new trend in weddings, which is to do whatever the happy couple want to do, is most refreshing.  I remember at my first wedding, which was incredibly stressful, we did whatever our parents wanted us to do -- making it their wedding not ours.  For example,  an orthodox Rabbi conducted the service. It was a service not a ceremony, that went on and on  and on. At one point,  the Rabbi was saying some blessing, holding a glass of red wine  and he was not paying attention.  It was aimed directly at my dress.  As he spoke the wine came closer and closer. Every time it came closer my mother pulled me back, until finally, by the end of the service, I was at least three big steps away from the groom.  The guest list was constructed by the parents. And the food -- well as my friend Mark said, “I think this was the roast beef I left from the wedding last week.” 



The wedding was not without it’s memorable moments.  My cousin, in whose car all my luggage for the honeymoon resided, got a little tipsy. He fell in the pool, lost the keys, and they had to break into the trunk. Then my uncle, at whose apartment we were staying in Miami, decided that we would have more fun if he went on the honeymoon with us.... and he was right. 



Anyway, I got over it and married the right person on the second try.  That wedding deserves it’s own blob.



Next week we are driving to Maryland for another wedding and we are sure it will be grand.  A few days ago I was trying to explain how I felt about all this and I decided I can only be described as this:  Mother Slut has become a Wedding Slut. I always wanted to be a slut and, at least this way, I can be one happily every after.  It’s Magical.  We’re just sayin’…Iris