Jew-ish

October 18, 2013 § 6 Comments

Author’s Note:  I wrote this a couple of years ago for my local Patch blog.  In light of “The View’s” recent “discussions” and comments about Jews – you can read about it here and here – I thought it was worth re-publishing.

Me with a tiny man outside tiny synagogue, outside Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. June 1990.

Me with a tiny man outside tiny synagogue, outside Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. June 1990.

Perfect!!!  I thought of this about a month or so ago as a way to describe my religious life/beliefs, such as they are.  Jew-ish.  “Ish!”  It’s right there in the name!  I’m a Jew.  Ish. Kinda in the middle – sorta…

That helped me crystallize some of the ways in which I am a full-fledged Jew, and ways in which I am kinda, sorta – you know, Jew-ish.  Hope you don’t mind my sharing. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Why I’m Cheering for “Popular Science”

October 4, 2013 § 6 Comments

2012/04/12 Tracey

A little over a week ago, Popular Science published an article called “Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments.”   In it, the magazine announced that, from now on, it would no longer allow comments on stories it publishes online.  An old friend from college posted the article on Facebook, tagging me and a few others asking our opinions on the decision.  My response was this:  “You had me at the title.  I don’t even need the ‘Why’ at the beginning of it.”

I can imagine the protests to come – calling the decision outrageous, violations of the First Amendment, cowardly, etc.  To those accusations I already had my pat reply: that what is really outrageous is the online culture of stupidity and meanness so pervasive in what is attempting to pass for internet discourse.  First Amendment rights do not entitle people to say whatever they please behind the anonymity of their computer screens about whatever they please and be heard by a particular organization’s audience.  Cowardly is more accurately descriptive of spambots, trolls, and first-generation-uprights who take every opportunity to sabotage any semblance of conversation begun by an author’s original piece. « Read the rest of this entry »

You Must Buy A Gun! Except, Not Really.

September 28, 2013 § 1 Comment

Gun target

I learned by watching Bill Maher, that not one, but two towns in Georgia have laws requiring – requiring – heads of households to own a gun.  Kennesaw, GA has had its law on the books since 1982.  In a city of almost 30,000 people, the following law states:

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sympathy and Advice for the Now-Infamous “Mrs. Hall”

September 21, 2013 § 4 Comments

Girls at beach taking selfie

This was written in response to an open letter that circulated a few weeks ago, written by a mother of boys to their friends who are girls.  Please read that here first.

Dear Mrs. Hall,

I’m going to guess you’ve had a tough week.  Here you are, a small-time blogger (like I am) and one of your posts blows up in your face.  I’m not going to lie – I have very mixed feelings about you, the open letter you’ve written, and the support/backlash you’ve undoubtedly received as a result.  I’m not sure either the praise or the e-lynchings are entirely called for (although I tend to side with the critics on this one) but, hey – that is the risk we take when we write an open letter to the internet public and hit publish.

I’ve never met you, and my only impression of you is this one FYI letter you wrote to the girls in your sons’ lives – just like you have never met some of the girls whose photos you check out, and to whom you address your public letter. I can see from your blog you’ve received hundreds of comments in support, that you’ve got THOUSANDS awaiting moderation (just do yourself a favor, and close the comments) and that you will delete comments you consider rude. Since, however, you have become an internet phenomenon by doling out unsolicited advice, I can only assume you, yourself, would be open to unsolicited advice from a fellow mother, woman, and writer. « Read the rest of this entry »

Modern Race Relations 101: A Primer for White People

August 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

courtesy of samurai racer

courtesy of samurairacer.blogspot.com

Well before the Trayvon Martin verdict, I had seen, heard and read about white people dismissing the racial context of the case.  Some do this artfully and skillfully; others, not so much.  I’ve been wanting to explore some of these maneuvers more closely for a while now. « Read the rest of this entry »

Banana Bread

August 26, 2013 § 15 Comments

So, you know how so many people post Facebook status updates the night before the first day of school?  “Lunches are packed!  Kids in bed!  Backpacks ready!  Forms filled out!  Relaxing with a glass of wine and hubby!” And it’s only 8 p.m.?  Some dear friends of mine – and I hope they still are after reading this – but please indulge me in a rare public bitchy moment.

I frikkin’ HATE those status updates.  They shouldn’t, but they make me feel like SUCH a loser mom – I rarely, if ever have my shit together like that.  For one thing, it’s  usually 10:47 p.m. when I read them, and the kids are all still awake and I’m about to go grocery shopping (sometimes at the gas station “convenience” store) for the first time in 10 days so they don’t eat uncooked ramen noodles for lunch on their first day of school.

Not this year.  It’s payback time, beyotches.  This year, I AM THAT MOM.  Last night the youngest was in bed by 10 p.m. (unshowered, but hey – you can’t have everything,) grocery shopping was done (4 days earlier,) and I was in my pjs (unshowered, but hey – you can’t have everything,) – do you hear me???  I made banana bread* batter (the only bakery item I know how to make from scratch,) stuck it in the fridge, and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get it into the oven.  Let me tell you, by 7 a.m., that sucker was PERFECTION.  I had it buttered and lovingly arranged on a Bounty paper towel for my eldest to have on her way to school.  Right next to her bottled Starbucks frappacino.  Then, after some Marx Brothers-like confusion and car-jockeying because we hadn’t figured out yet which one of us was going to drive her to school, she was off for the first day of school.

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Never mind that my eldest is almost 17, and I’ve been on Facebook for five years now, and that I am only NOW boasting about something of this nature.  But I’m BOASTING, BABY!!!!!  SUCK IT, LOSERS!!!!

(Cue thunder and maniacal laughter)

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

*********

*A little bonus story:  I’ve been making this for years – got the recipe from Dave’s mother.  When we were married for less than a year, I did something similar – waking up early to get the banana bread in the oven for him to bring to some office potluck. Then I showered and attempted to wake him up.  He was immovable.  So, I stood next to the bed and said, “Hey, Dave.  There’s a naked woman in front of you and a banana bread in the oven.”  He raised his head up, lifted an eyebrow and said, “Banana bread?”  

Vacation Hangover

August 18, 2013 § 20 Comments

photo

Well, there was no Captain Steubing, and it was not the Love Boat, but we sure loved the boat that took us on vacation.  Here’s a random re-cap.

1.  No wi-fi and/or texting is a blessing.  The end.

2.  Just kidding!!!  There’s more!  Angel (pronounced “Ahn-HELL”) was our dinner waiter, and Marko was his assistant.  I learned halfway through the trip (and that was too late) that I should not ask Angel his opinion about more than one entree.  This is because he would proceed to bring me each. entree.  Five of us at the table, and we routinely had at least seven entrees on the table at one time.  By the end of the week it had progressed, we never arrived at dinner without at least one appetizer already on the table because he wanted us to have them, and it was not unusual for six or seven desserts to appear by the end.

3.  Related to #2 above, our rooms were on the 2nd deck.  The pool was on the 9th.  In an effort to stem the tide of flab resulting from #2, I did use the stairs almost exclusively.  16 steps to get from one deck to the other.  Yes, I counted.  Thankfully, the nearest bar was on the 4th deck.  But even with that, I managed to log at least 20 flights of those steps every day.  Because ping-pong on the 9th deck, that’s why.

4.  Don’t bother with the “Shopping Talk” before you dock.  It is interminable, and almost exclusively about the jewelry you can buy in port.  As with Angel and entrees, I realized this way too late, and was already committed to hunting down a couple of really cute, but expensive watches. Once in Bermuda, I was on a mission, I tell you.

5.  It’s true what they say.  Unplugging from the internet truly does unclutter your mind.  Think about how much multitasking your brain must do – how many times it must change gears, simply going from one friend’s FB status update to the next.  How many times do you click on a link they post to read about revolution in Egypt (of which I remained blissfully unaware) to the next link of a cat wearing a shark costume riding a roomba?  See?  I’ll bet you just clicked on that link.  And now your brain has to go from being all cuted out by that cat to reading my blatherings about my vacation.  Or maybe you didn’t come back…did you come back?  COME BAAAAAAAACK!!!!  Darn it.

6.  With my uncluttered mind, the only thing I could do between feeding my face and listening to the abundance of live music aboard was to either:

a.  read, or
b.  play Polar Bowler on my phone, since it was the only thing I could do on it that did not require internet.

Fighting the powerful pull of a polar bear shooting down a bowling alley made of ice,  I did manage to squeeze some reading in there.  Of an actual book.  With pages.  NOT on an electronic device.

7.  Here, I’m really letting my geek flag fly by confiding in you that the book I spent time reading was… “George Washington’s War (The Saga of the American Revolution)” by Robert Leckie.  My dad gave it to me with high recommendations, and, well, what the hell, right?  Amazingly written, its sentences have craploads of information in each one, which required me to actually read things more than one time.  If you know me, that is NOT my style – I’m kind of a speedy reader.  But I did read it slowly, and some of it several times over, because the writing was so beautiful and artistic.

It’s also filled with frikkin hilarious descriptions of the people in it.  Here’s how he paints Augusta, mother to (future King) George III.

Although Augusta was not beautiful or gracious, but plain with a long neck and awkward long arms, she was nevertheless well endowed with an amplitude of Germanic charms, both before and behind.

In other words, bag the face, but she had tits and ass.  The book surprised me on a regular basis with stuff like that, and I’m sure I raised a few eyebrows sitting by myself and snorting with laughter.  I only got to page 43 before vacation ended, but I will keep going, as I’ve got a renewed affection for reading a book rather than reading a Huffington Post article or a Buzzfeed list.

8.  Karaoke is hard.  No need to go into the sad, ugly details of that one.

9.  It was fun, fun, FUN having my niece, Katie, and her friend, Danielle onboard the ship with us!  (They had tickets – we didn’t smuggle them.)

10.  Most of the ship’s talent was extremely entertaining and skilled.  For example, one of the show nights had music by the decades, and the duo who sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” brought tears to my eyes, literally.  However, some of the ship’s performers lip-synced, which I found distracting and annoying.  And on a show night featuring Broadway music, I wanted to strangle whoever decided it was a good idea to change the time signatures of “A Boy Like That” from West Side Story.  Don’t – DO NOT – mess with Bernstein’s time signatures, is that understood?  Gah.

11.  I break the rules when my kids aren’t around.  One of the days in Bermuda Dave took them snorkeling, and I went to St. George to further geek out on history.  I walked all around by myself, taking in the whipping posts from the 1800s

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and brick-lined streets, and ended up at the Unfinished Church at the top of a hill.  They began building it in 1874, and abandoned it when they ran out of money.  Anywho, there was a flimsy sign that told me not to enter,

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but this other chick found a way in,

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and her cab driver seemed unconcerned,

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so, naturally, when she left I decided I couldn’t go back to the boat without trying to get inside this place, either.  I slunked around the outside of the church, and finding this weak point that would allow entry, I began to climb.

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I got a few scrapes, and landed a little harder than I would have liked, but I got in!  (Through the window behind me in the picture!)

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It was pretty.

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It was harder to get out than to get in, but I managed to climb up that gate a few pictures up and squeeze over the top.  And now I can say I’ve trespassed in a church.  Awwwww, yeah!

12.  Showers can be perplexing.  Picture a triangle 2′ x 2′ x whatever length that makes the 3rd side.  Then picture one of those shower heads at the end of a hose, propped up in a flimsy clip that was just a leeeeeeeettle too big for the hose.  Then picture it without warning popping out of that clip and flying (water on full-blast) all over the shower stall like a balloon with the air just let out of it.  That may have happened to me.  I cracked the code around 5 days into the cruise on how to keep it in the clip, but I still kept turning around to check it so it would know I was keeping my eye on it.  Also, picture, if you will, the act of shaving one’s legs in such a shower.  Somewhat akin to Ralph Maccio in The Karate Kid.  Only with a razor in one hand and a shower head whizzing all around you because it has popped out of its clip.

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(photo courtesy of http://www.myfoggybrain.com)

13.  I am totally going on another cruise.  The family was dreamy, the downtime was downtime, and the water was so, so blue.

 

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