WHAT GOOD FORTUNE!

#FastestDeliveryEver #ComputersAndConsumers

OMG! In keeping with my promise to report on Consumer Advocate Affairs, I am here to tell you about the FASTEST DELIVERY SERVICE EVER.  Today, I decided my dad needed a break from his frozen dinners that he finally learned how to heat up in the microwave. (For a former engineer, microwaves, cell phones and iPads are still challenging. My brother says give the man gears and he’s fine, but anything digital is beyond him).

Anyway, dad had already eaten all the dinners that his gal Friday cooks and leaves for him a few times a week. So, I decided to send him Chinese food from Golden Hunan in Northridge. I thought he’d enjoy the change of pace.  A few days ago, I ordered a salmon dinner for his birthday from Outback Steakhouse. He is an enthusiastic salmon eater, but unfortunately cooking is also not his forte. Thank God for Outback. It was a good week for my dad gastronomically speaking.

Wowsa! I tried ordering the Golden Hunan eggrolls and chicken with vegetables online at first, but it looked like there might be a problem explaining to the computer app that the delivery address was different from the billing address/ zip code. I called the restaurant to ask if that was okay to type in both, before I entered the website of no return, since Door Dash had just deactivated my account for the same issue. (Now I am skittish).  Stephanie, of Golden Hunan, told me she would just take the order since I was already on the phone and that she could deliver it within 15 minutes. I was stunned. She took my payment and seriously about 8 minutes later, I got a call from her. She was watching from her car to ensure my dad picked up his food off the porch and brought it in. What a doll! He doesn’t hear so well so I don’t give out his cell number to restaurants.  I want them to check in with me if there’s a problem anyway.

UNBELIEVABLE!!

 After Door Dash infuriated me two days ago regarding another order and I battled them for over an hour, I suddenly remembered what attentive Customer Service actually meant thanks to Stephanie!!! So, Door Dash was on my naughty list, but Hunan was as great as Outback had been earlier in the week. When I ordered his meal from Outback’s curbside delivery, I mentioned that he was celebrating a milestone birthday. When I went inside dad’s house and plated his dinner, I saw that Outback had added a complimentary piece of cheesecake with a birthday greeting. That was so sweet!!!! Northridge has got it going on with Outback Steakhouse and Golden Hunan! Good work guys!!!

Now Door Dash…Ahem. On the same day that I picked up dinner for my dad’s birthday, I tried to send a nice lunch to my daughter to celebrate her birthday too. (Yes, it’s the same day ). Door Dash got confused apparently because I had been sending out food and groceries to a few different relatives and friends at about four different locations and my daughter had just moved within the same zip code. Then I had the “audacity” to use different credit cards albeit they are all in my name. I guess the Door Dash computer app didn’t understand that I sent hearing aid batteries to my dad one night at one address with one credit card, and that I tried to send a fancy birthday lunch to my daughter at a new address. I blew up the app!! The computer decided I was engaging in fraud and then my account was terminated. I called the bank who said my credit card account was fine and there was nothing wrong with the charge…. except it turned out that it didn’t go through on Door Dash’s end.

When I called Door Dash I got a couple of really rude “customer reps” one after another, who basically told me that I was being fraudulent and that the “computer made the decision to delete me.” That’s just great. As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, 2021 was off to an ominous start as I was now determined to be disposable by a computer. The implications were freaking me out. What if this computer had other computer friends at an ambulance dispatch company or the bank that gets the mortgage payment or worse- with one of the vitals monitoring machines at the hospital? (We’re in a pandemic after all). I mean they could all talk to each other. It wasn’t entirely implausible.

I tried one more rep and he also said I was engaging in fraudulent activity although he stressed that he didn’t call me a liar, when basically he was calling me a liar.  I kind of wondered if my laptop was in on it all because I admitted before in a previous essay that I do yell at it a lot-especially after I watch the news. (I don’t take out my fury on people. I just yell at inanimate objects).

Well, the short version of this is that I gave the customer service guy a soliloquy on the merits of real customer service which fell on deaf computer parts, whatever they are these day- not vacuum tubes or integrated circuits-whatever their guts are. And then I wrote three emails to Door Dash customer service about how they better be careful who they call a liar and a fraud because some people sue over that. I was mad. In the meantime, I found other services that could deliver from the stores near my dad because I figured that I was not using Door Dash again even if they made up with me.

This morning I awoke to an email from a Door Dash supervisor who apologized for the error. He didn’t explain it, but he said I could use my account again. Ha! It’ll be a cold day in Outback country before I use Door Dash again.

This evening, I’ve been walking around with dread about how easy it was for a computer to just decide on its own that I wasn’t a good “community member” and then it terminated my account and PEOPLE defended the computer. Jeez!! All those creepy sci fi stories are going to come true because people are just passive followers. Only now they’re following a computer.

I fear what could happen next. I tried to talk myself into calming down as my pulse increased remembering the ramifications of Asimov’s I,Robot. Come on, I thought, dad got a couple of nice dinners, Hunan was great, and Outback understands customer service too. So, two out of three companies understand customer service. Right?

And then just before I went to bed tonight, I turned out the lights and I could swear I heard my laptop laughing at me. If I see in the morning that it left me a fortune, I’m donating it to Goodwill…

WTH?

I DON’T THINK DEMOCRACY IS DEAD

Yes, democracy is fragile. So are people. But we’re still here.

We have a raging pandemic and a would-be authoritarian. But we’re still here.

 We have half the country furious with the other half. But we’re still here.

 We think democracy is dead but it’s still here.

It didn’t have the **** kicked out of it because some asshats stormed the Capitol. It went down for the count and then it got up. And democracy logged one against the authoritarian today because he’s the obvious target and the instigator. BUT he did not rush the Capitol or steal a lectern or carry zip ties to intimidate a member of Congress or worse. He may have fueled that anger and used it, but he didn’t totally create it.

Where did it come from?

Where is it going?

Did we, the other side have a part in culling that fury too?

Do we feel like pulling out a few guns and zip ties of our own? Do we just not give into that baseness because we have higher standards?

Why?

 Why does some cop take selfies with the guys who broke into the Congress?

Why?

Why does a rioter beat a cop with a flag on a pole in the name of liberty no less?

Why?

How do we deal with the fury on both sides and purge it without escalating a terrible situation? Yeah, I’d love “to break a chair” over one of those Trumpster’s heads, especially the anti-Semites with the stupid shirts. But that’s not going to make me feel safer the next time I’m in Orange County or Simi Valley. And- that’s not really my M.O. (I just talk tough).  I scream at the computer or the TV when I am upset about politics. Everyone on the block knows that. Too bad. (My therapist said it’s healthy). I don’t wear buffalo horns, paint my face and break through windows in government buildings. I scream. At inanimate objects that do not scream back. I do not beat policemen or threaten to hang the VP.

Where in the hell did that come from???

The way I see it, we either have to split up the country literally and take different states OR we have to take a deep breath and come to the table to figure out what is really breaking up our family.  Do any of the Trump supporters have legitimate gripes, albeit they need to learn to express their anger like dignified adults and not mad hoodlums if they expect anyone to hear them. I don’t know what they want or what they are afraid of because all I’ve heard for the last four years is Trump’s voice, not theirs.

They want less taxes? I want less taxes too. Great we are in agreement about something? Is all of this fighting about taxes? And abortion? Because that’s no one’s business but the woman who’s pregnant and I don’t think there were any of those ladies climbing through the windows on Capitol Hill the other day.

So, what else? The Trump followers don’t want their jobs shipped off due to globalism? They need to get with the program and update their skill set then. That’s a good use of government money- retraining citizens to be current on marketable skills. I’d like that too. But I’m not going to tie up poor Nancy to get a word with her about that.

They’re not crazy about the economy being shut down. No one is but we are in the midst of a public emergency and we are figuring it out as we go.  If a lot of people die that will only help the funerary and the refrigerator truck industries. We kind of have to wait this one out until the cavalry comes in and it’s on the horizon.

They have a beef with “Fake News?” I think they’ve been lied to for four years and fed a steady diet of you know what BUT surely we can objectively review newscasts side by side and all study how propaganda has been used to bring us to exactly this point. Who does this schism benefit? That’s also something to review.

Ok so there are some concerns. But killing people because you want less taxes, you don’t agree with the anchorman or you don’t condone abortion is a little twisted. No. It’s a lot twisted.

Is this anger for anger’s sake or is there something else here?

“It’s the People’s House and that means it’s my house” yelled one of the fury-ridden, bile- spewing rioters yesterday. Really Dude? Is that how you treat your house? You get mad and throw trash on the floor and rip up papers and break windows? You threaten people’s lives? Nice. Remind me not to go to your house.

 Wait.

 Maybe that’s exactly what’s wrong. I haven’t been to your house and you haven’t been to mine.

You probably have some family pictures up on the wall just like mine.

Your kids are probably doing their homework, just like mine.

You’re probably steamed about the price of groceries just like me.

You probably think that Congress gets paid too much just like me.

Whoa…. we might actually have something in common if we could just sit down and discuss it.

I’m sorry I called you “bile-spewing rioters”. See how that works. I lost it and then I apologized. BUT I didn’t shoot anyone or threaten to hang them. Got it?

I think the people who trashed Congress need to go back supervised and clean it all up…. again….and again….and again….and again until they understand that you treat the “People’s House” with respect. Then they should pay for all the reparations and donate to the families of the people they killed. Donate until it hurts like “sign over their damn house” donations.

Then serve time.

BUT while they’re there in the clinker, they need to literally come to the table. We need to hash out what we need to fix. But we need to talk to each other and not through a middle party. I don’t want to talk through a Congressional Representative or Trump. I want whoever broke into that complex first to sit down at a table with the other side, calm and collected and lay out his grievances one by one. Then I want the other side to lay out theirs. Then we get to see if there’s a Venn diagram in there somewhere with an intersection of any of these things that we are all angry about; that maybe we can fix together.

I’d like to say to those people who broke into the Congress, that Trump doesn’t care about them or empathize with them or understand them. Whatever made them angry wasn’t worth killing someone over. But something is clearly terrifying the people who acted out last week.

What is it? Evidently, they hate Jews and Blacks and accomplished Women and well they are going to need some intensive therapy to get on track about that. (Do they know any Jews, Blacks or accomplished women?). I hear that people hate what they don’t understand and people they don’t know. Do you think that could be fixed?

They think the election was stolen? There were over seven million votes for the other guy dudes. Your buddy lost. The reason the voting process is split between the states is to protect voters from widespread manipulation. But if you need to go through the details again, then let’s go through the details about how this works.

I am very angry at the people who descended on the Capitol and terrorized our country. I can’t believe that baseless rhetoric led to people being killed. I am furious at Trump. I’ve been furious at him for four years. I don’t want to see the country blow up this week literally because of all of this collective misplaced fury and anger. But if this were my family and we were all so angry at each other, we would go to a psychologist, an objective third party to help us work through it.

And much as I am embarrassed by and furious at the people who did this, they are Americans. They are my family. And I am theirs. We share a profound history and a country that we truly love, even with its problems. I can only hope that we as a country can learn from this. I pray the families of those who died have our support and condolences. And I expect that we will somehow go forward together because we can’t ever let this happen again. It didn’t just happen to supporters of this side or that side. It didn’t just happen to families who lost loved ones. It happened to all of us…. together. We need to fix it together. Without our family, we are just states. Together we can be a crowning jewel of freedom and democracy and a beacon of hope for the world. Our tiara was just kicked across the floor.  It’s going to take a while to get that back.

TERMINAL DEGREE. DEGREE OF TERMINAL.

I AM HAVING A CRISIS.

It is poor timing to have the audacity to stoke a personal crisis in the middle of a pandemic. Is it still the middle of the pandemic? I guess we won’t know that until the end. And what exactly is the end of the pandemic? Does that mean no more people are dying from Covid or just fewer people are dying? If so, what exactly is the acceptable number of people dying from Covid? I guess the president thinks it is around four hundred thousand, but we clearly disagree.

Does it mean that hospital beds will be available for other problems too? How have we collectively asked our bodies to stop having strokes and heart attacks because it just isn’t a convenient time to mosey into the ER? Did I miss something? I wouldn’t be surprised.

 I can only handle Wolf so much now. And although he and Anderson have actually made my “coveted” fantasy dinner party team, I’m just a wee bit sick of seeing both of them rattle off numbers that are just getting worse. And if fantasy jail “teams” are a thing, then Trump, Pence, 11 Senate Republicans and Kirk Cameron belong in mine. I would love to see, well not actually, just know, that they are cuffed in a cell battling each other over one open latrine. (From my thoughts to God’s ears).

You know I’ve heard ambulances all day, but no one on social media has mentioned fires which we are unfortunately prone to in this area. I don’t think those are sirens for fires. I think those are different sirens now.

Today I faxed my hard-of-hearing dad a news article about how bad it is in California right now and how paramedics are not going to transport patients to hospitals if they don’t reach a certain percentage in the survivability matrix. Actually, I marked the fax in big letters and told him to “Stay the f**k inside” because “this isn’t a game.” I have a VERY stubborn almost 90- year- old father who thinks that since he survived the three notorious childhood diseases, that he has superman genes although the rest of us might be doomed. He has a big ego and doesn’t listen to reason, so I go for the shock effect to make a point. (The obscenity is usually an ice breaker. He calls back to say that isn’t appropriate language and then I try to educate him (again) on the perils of the plague). He is incredibly stubborn and “omnipotent”. I am but a lowly mortal who also has the audacity to be female. None of that ranks high in his world. Hell, here’s hoping he does have the last laugh. As I write this, though, he might be walking up to the corner with a crooked, used mask to get more fax paper because he can’t stand waiting for anything not even a delivery, once he has his OCD sights set.

Sigh.

 I do a lot of that lately.

So why am I having an existential crisis? I mean I’ve got a book to finish, that would be writing not reading, accounts to reconcile, P and Ls to complete and 1099s to mail. I am busy. So why am I letting this get to me? Human, I guess. That’s part of it.

My youngest daughter is moving home this week because school is remote anyways and the roomies are getting on each other’s nerves. She’ll be here and we can get on each other’s nerves which I guess is an improvement. Well, it is in the wallet department. And maybe I can coax her into some fun activities like hiking with the dog or remote tap dance lessons.  She’d like to be going out to parties and bars. We’d all like that but at least we got to do that in our twenties. It must be very hard to be a college kid right now.

Anyway, yesterday she asked me why she was knocking herself out to battle senioritis to graduate in the arts when she knows she’s going to have to fight for a career doing what she wants to anyway. She really wants to know if we’re going to drop dead from Covid and if so, why is this how we are spending our last days. My husband and I are trying to be optimistic, but the vaccine roll out is a definite ____________. Fill in the blank yourself. The audacity factor of congressional disbelievers who partied hardy and rolled up their sleeves first is, well my blood pressure is increasing thinking about that, so I’ll cool my jets. She’s right.

I am applying for jobs because our company is at a standstill. We have bought talent and produced concerts and live events for many years. There just isn’t a lot to do right now, so I dusted off my resume and started applying for jobs. Thus, the reason for my existential crisis. I do not like accounting, and it feels like the universe is blackmailing me, because that is what I am most qualified to do. I look at creative writing jobs and financial writer positions and I send in my CV but I’m not getting many bites.

Then I look at the political jobs. They don’t pay as well, but they look a lot more interesting. While I see job skills that translate to these positions, I’m not so sure this will be the view of the potential employers. After submitting ten resumes tonight, I saw a particularly interesting activist position for families with children.  They asked why I was interested and in lieu of writing a five-paragraph paper like Miss Hayley taught me to in A.P. English, I simply said I wanted “meaningful work.” Ha! I must be losing it.

So anyway, I reviewed the old grad school websites again. I’d love an MFA or a Masters of Professional Writing or perhaps a degree in Humanities. I long to study astronomy, photography, the classics, Latin or Comparative Literature.  But these don’t necessarily pay, albeit the programs cost mucho buckaroos. And I need to eat.

I wondered too, like my daughter mentioned, what if these were our last days?  I mean objectively. Not emotionally. How would I spend my last days if I knew that was my future?  I asked my husband if he thought that terminal kids should go to school like normal kids. What was the point?

The degree programs that I am most interested in are terminal programs.  You don’t necessarily get an MFA because you’re going on to a doctorate program.  I would personally like to tie up the rest of my days in a doctoral program. I would be thrilled to be a student. It is a lot less scary than out here in the real world. So maybe, I should find a doctoral program where I could spend the remaining years of my life expectancy. That sounds good to me. My daughter is rushing to leave school and I am dreaming about getting back in.

So that’s where I am right now.  I’m applying for jobs when I want a career. My daughter is afraid she won’t find a job in her career. And the ambulances just keep driving up and down Kanan Road next to our house. It is the main thoroughfare in our suburb. We are actually in Ventura County, so I guess a lot of the virus kind of ends two streets down where it’s officially Los Angeles County. Who knew it was so disciplined?

I think those traitors in my fantasy jail should be tried for treason. I hope we have enough collective strength left to do that when this ends, if we can figure out what that ending is. I hope that I am more optimistic tomorrow morning and that my daughter is looking forward to cleaner, more considerate roomies and help with groceries, meals and walking her dog. We will lighten her load a little so she can concentrate on the mental strength she will need to draw on to finish her senior year and maybe even have a little fun. 

I will figure it out this week. I will figure out if I am going for a terminal degree. And maybe someone will call me back about my resume.

In the meantime, I am going to get a glass of chardonnay and sit down and watch the Georgia races and hope to God that the Senate turns blue, because I don’t think our beloved country can handle four more years of division. I want America to go back to school too. Meaningful. That’s a good word. I want Americans to have a meaningful relationship with politics, social issues, history and our national identity. Oh, and the truth. I want us to have a meaningful relationship with the truth.

You know. I was wrong. I don’t think I’m the one having a crisis.

PANDEMIC ESSAY

Tonight, my beloved youngest daughter cried to me on the phone. She doesn’t feel well. She’s got severe cramps. She has a headache. And her throat is sore. Really sore. So sore in fact that the Kaiser Permanente nurse on call ordered her a prescription of amoxicillin without seeing her in person because if it’s strep they want to treat it. If, God forbid, it’s Covid, I guess the antibiotic isn’t going to make a difference.  They want her to come in for a Covid test tomorrow. She thinks she has the flu, but she had the shot, and she’s not sure.

She cried because she’s overwhelmed.  She’s quarantined with two “ghost” roommates that went home to their folks’ house but surprisingly (to me) re-leased the apartment together with high hopes that the university won’t be remote in Fall.  She cried because she still has homework and a new dog, online classes, and a boyfriend who just moved in and it’s all a lot and she doesn’t feel well.  She cried because she’s staring at the same walls over and over and there’s no fun sorority activities to look forward to. She cried because food doesn’t even sound good to her anymore. She cried because she’s a junior in college and sometimes the pressure of the quarantine is intense. She cried that she feels like a “pussy” because she’s had it.  She feels like she isn’t measuring up in the courage department; that she should be able to take it all in stride.

Meanwhile, my 95- year- old mother- in- law, who was one step ahead of the Nazis all through Europe, is alone in her home, watching TV reruns and chatting with various grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a handful of friends, a lovely, watchful neighbor and one of her daughters who comes over once a week to help with groceries and her home management. My mother-in-law still cooks for an army and always has a complete meal for twenty on hand. Thankfully, she is also great with technology and converses with texts and visits by FaceBook. She has had many challenges in her life, and this is one more under her belt. She’s alone with her resolve.

And my own 89- year- old father is also alone in his home, but he isn’t good with computers, so he is more isolated. My brother and I call him several times during the day and bring over groceries and some hot meals. I grab his laundry and bring it home to do. We try not to stay too long because although we wear gloves and masks, he is a stubborn, proud man and when we finally took away the car keys, he showed us who’s boss and walked to the corner market, sans mask and gloves, to pick up orange juice; something he ostensibly would die without because he couldn’t wait a day or so until we did his grocery run.  In other words, we’re not sure if he’s a possible threat to us or we’re a threat to him. So, we try to keep the actual time we’re in his home to a minimum. He is isolated along with his pride.

My oldest daughter came home for part of the quarantine to finish a project for work. Honestly we struggled with limits and boundaries because she  is a full-fledged adult and I kept falling back into old mothering habits. It’s a transition and I didn’t do a good job. I wanted her to stay so my husband and I could brave the dangerous grocery store for her. I bribed her with cooking. Actually, I bribed her with my husband’s cooking. I really didn’t want her to go home so I could protect her for as long as possible. Bubble wrapping both my kids during a pandemic still makes sense to me. My daughter is alone now, albeit in her lovely new apartment that she furnished herself with all new items right before the pandemic hit. My daughter is able to work from home; her home, the home she created. She’s alone with her privacy and ambition.

My sister- in- law lost her husband during the pandemic although it was not to the virus. But she couldn’t go into the hospital with him because of the virus and she wasn’t with him when he died.  She is lonely and mourning and probably still in shock. There was no service and no closure. We didn’t even have a card on hand to send to her right away. I assumed I couldn’t send flowers and felt funny about that anyway. I do not want flowers in my house right now. I don’t want anything in my house from the outside unless I need it to live and I supposed the same thing about her.  She helps her mother. She helps out her son and daughter -in- law too. She hasn’t been the most talkative right now and I don’t want to bother her.  She is buying a new house and selling the one where she lived with her husband. She is alone with her memories.

My husband and I are functioning.  Our dog seems suddenly sick and we are worried about her. She is 15 years old and an integral part of our family. My husband and I both have some medical issues and neither one of us will go to the doctor right now. I was scheduled for some important tests as was my father frankly, when the shelter-in-place directive came down. And all of us are sitting it out right now. The problems are on hold.

My husband and I go to buy groceries only with great planning. I typed out the last list in order of the store aisles to cut down on our exposure time. We wear 95 masks that are getting battered. We had leftovers from the fires that came within 100 feet of our home last year. We wear gloves, carry sanitizer, wrap the phones in a plastic bag and I top it all off with a face shield and my hair hidden under a sweatshirt hood.

We compare the quarantine to the weeks after we survived the Northridge earthquake, but unfortunately our house didn’t. We’ve been through a lot, the two of us, in 28 years of marriage. We’ve been through a lot. And a couple of months ago, we woke up to a virus that destroyed our industry and our business that we have been building since 1993. Gone. Over. We lost thousands of dollars in one day when one of our big concerts was pulled. And still we cook up new recipes, and make phone calls, and look at new potential partnerships and bake banana bread and challah and talk to the utilities about deferred payments and splurge on green olives stuffed with bleu cheese. We’ve been through a lot. We are alone, together, with our grief.

Today we saw on the news that people went out and about and acted like they were immortal. They are selfish and cruel. We have done our part. We have stayed in as asked except to venture out to the grocery store or my dad’s or the P.O. box. That’s it. For Weeks.  And now these selfish, cruel people have wandered out and crammed beaches and pools and parties. And if they wind up in the ICU at the same time as me, or my husband, or my sister- in- law, or my father or my mother- in- law, we will not be the ones who get the ventilators. It won’t matter that we stayed home. We are too old. We have an expiration date. That’s been made very clear.

So, my 20 year- old daughter was crying on the phone tonight and telling me that the quarantine is too much; that she feels weak. And I told her that I am very, very proud of her and her boyfriend. They are only kids. They are by themselves in this unprecedented event in our lifetime and they are living. They are finishing classes and running a household. They are taking care of another living being; a new dog. Her boyfriend is completing his final classes and interviewing for jobs. He’s starting a career hopefully, but sadly missing graduation.

They are just kids. My comfort is limited to FaceTime and encouraging words. My daughter is not weak. Her boyfriend is not weak. They are resilient. Crying is OK I tell her. She would be crazy not to be scared; not to be overwhelmed. She is strong I tell her. She is really strong. I say it again. I hope she is hearing me through the tears and garbled crying. She understands, I hope, that one can be strong even if one is afraid.

I am proud of my family.

I am proud of them all.

I bought industrial toilet paper from China, MREs and backpacking dinners. I got cans of food, hand sanitizer and masks galore. I stocked up on gloves and frozen food but deferred the car payment. We signed up for unemployment for the first time in forty years and managed to secure a small PPP loan. I don’t know how we are going to get through this as I perceive that we are still in the middle of it. And now it’s been made longer by people who had to run outside without masks and gloves and forgot what six feet looked like or worse; it appears that they just didn’t care.

Thanks.

I won’t be in line for a ventilator. I won’t even be considered for one.

I still have a lot of things I want to do. I haven’t been to Israel. I haven’t gone skydiving. I still want that advanced degree. I want to try being a stand-up comic- at least once- even if I have to pay the audience to come! I want to finish writing my book. I want to travel to the national parks with my husband in a spanking new Sprinter. I want to see my kids get great jobs, and maybe get married and have kids if that’s what they want.

My wishes don’t have an expiration. Which one of the selfish people in the pool yesterday got to decide that my goals have an expiration?

I just called my daughter back to check on her.  She’s holding off on getting the prescription until the morning. She sounded a little better. I pray her test is negative tomorrow. I hope she realizes how strong she is and how honored I am in knowing her.

And if I wind up on a one-way ticket to the emergency room, during this pandemic, that I probably won’t survive, I hope she’ll let me go gracefully and with dignity and know that she will never really be alone.

Her zeide, grandma, aunt, sister, father, and me her mother, her other aunts and uncles and cousins galore; we will always be with her. We will always be with her, in her strength and in her solitude.

She will never be alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN HONOR OF 9/11, AN OPEN LETTER TO OSAMA BIN LADEN WRITTEN IN 2001

I would be surprised if you ever saw this. And then again, maybe I wouldn’t. Information can be transmitted so easily now; although I don’t know if you get AOL or newspapers in your cave—assuming you are still there.

But since you found a way to send a message to this PTO mother of two, who was quietly raising a family and trying to figure out a way to save for college educations and retirement and contemplating what job I would return to when my little one was old enough for pre-school; who scrambled to call anyone and everyone I knew in New York and Washington; whose family members were stranded by your actions; whose husband lost his job because of you; whose friends are shaken to their core; who is afraid to gather in public or fly or send my children to religious school; who cries inside for so many who can not cry now for themselves—I thought I’d send you a message.

You got my attention. Blowing up thousands of my countrymen, who were quietly raising their families and who went to work one day to save for their children’s college educations and their retirements; that got my attention.

And the truth is I’m not sure that the people at the top of my government are sure that you did this.  I’m not sure that I am not being manipulated in some ways by the media.  But I am sure that you had some hand in this or some influence and for that reason, I am sending this letter to you. To the Taliban. To Sadam Hussein. To the PLO. To any terrorist anywhere. And for that matter to the Christians and Protestants who continue to blow each other up in Ireland.

I do not care about your ideology. I do not care about who is living on whose land. I do not care about which G-d you pray to; if you do at all. Did you ask me about my ideology? Did you ask what I care about? Did you ask if someone on the 105th floor of Tower One believed in Allah just like you?

What exactly is the message you were trying to send? Surely, if you are that wealthy, you could have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times or perhaps the Washington Post.  Maybe CNN could have hosted a round-table discussion for all you holy warriors. I would have listened. I would have tuned in to your opinions. You could have opened up the phone lines for a poll.

Do you know what I care about? I care about gray children lying in streets, who cannot raise a tiny bit of precious food to their cracked lips. And women who can’t read a book, much less feel a breeze on their naked face for fear that they will die gruesome deaths. I care about families who cannot find each other.  I care about young boys, babies still, who are forced to become warriors and then have their legs blown off.

I care about people telling the truth. I care about mothers everywhere who have witnessed horrible things that I don’t even want to pretend I understand.

I think I believe in G-d. But I think that you cannot even begin to comprehend a Supreme Being. Because nothing that is higher than mankind would encourage such horrid acts on its behalf. Nothing…. no one. I do not care what name you call it. I do not care if your G-d is someone’s Son or Father. Destruction is not holy.

When do you see G-d? When you crash a building down on thousands of unsuspecting people whom you’ve never questioned about ideology? When you have diabolically convinced someone to become a human inferno?

I see G-d when I bathe my beautiful children; soapy and silly and giggling.  I see G-d when my babies sing to me; when they draw a picture for me; when they share what they learned at school…. when they speak to me of tolerance.

 I am not violent. I do not pray for your destruction. I would not pray to a Supreme Being for the destruction of another human being.  I am angry. I am furious. I am beyond fury. I pray that you will be captured and jailed and treated miserably in solitary confinement for a very long life in silence and darkness.  I pray that impoverished people will be fed and kept warm and educated. I pray that other mothers, everywhere, will be able to enjoy bathing their beautiful babies—soapy and silly and giggling.

I pray that mad men will not ruin more lives….

If making me afraid makes you holy, then you are holy. And I will freely admit that I am afraid. I am terrified. But I will live.

I am pushing aside the fear. I am stomping on it. I am screaming. Can you hear me yelling at you? Because I am not alone. I am almost 300 million strong. You will not make me a prisoner as you have done to others. My husband will find work. We will go out in public. We will take a trip by plane. I will smile at the strangers I may have ignored last week. Because they are Americans too…. And yes, my children are going to religious school. They need G-d ; a G-d of caring and compassion.

Do you know what else I am doing?  I am trying to read your Koran.  I am looking for some way to comprehend what you have done.  But I don’t think the answers are there.

With all of your money you could have tried to help the people around you by repairing roads and buildings. You could have taught your warriors to repair lives. Instead you have destroyed souls and families.

If you have children, I hope they are safe and warm someplace. And I hope, no pray, no there is no word for what I am doing tonight…I am asking the Almighty to protect my beautiful children.  I am bargaining. I will never ask for anything except the grace to see my children grow up in safety.

G.

 

 

 

I WANT MY BATHROOMS BACK!

I know there are much bigger news stories at the moment but this has been bugging me. 

I get the intent about gender- unbiased bathrooms but while clever corporate MBAs, lawyers and COOs were figuring out that changing signs cost less than building new bathrooms or remodeling existing ones to squeeze in a new space, my rights were violated. And I know it isn’t PC to complain about this but I call them like I see them especially after I dragged my wobbly, elderly father out for a night on the town- Mexican food and home to have the lights out by 8. You can imagine the bathroom issue was a little confusing to explain. He didn’t know which one to use—not enough choices. And yes I digress, as my good friend John would say, because this isn’t about politics or being a consumer advocate; the supposed focus of my blog. 

But in a way it still is. I eat out a lot. I work at home with my husband and we need breaks.  Eating out while running corporate errands, is sometimes deductible and always cheaper than renting office space.  So yes, I use public restrooms- a consumer service. 

So anyway, in a rush to be ahead of the ball, sorry no pun intended, somebody forgot about my right to privacy. I do not like sharing public bathrooms with men.  Yuck!  I will spare you the details.  And I know women are no saints either but there is a difference. 

I feel like Erica Jong who wrote a chapter on the idiosyncrasies of international toilets. After having marveled at the self-cleaning toilets in the sparkling Hong Kong airport and freaking out about the hole in the floor with the two painted feet at Club Med in Korfu, I am somewhat knowledgeable in this area too. In fact I think it’s clearly a better way to measure civility, travelability ( yes I made that up) and hell GNP. It’s true people.  You CAN judge a nation by its plumbing—but not people by their’s. 

I don’t care if women who are changing into women want to use the same potty space, different stall please, but guys who think they’re still guys, could you go back to the old way? I live in fear that the next time I duck into Starbucks and I don’t know if the lock works well,  that some guy is going to accidentally push open the unisex door. (If you have dealt with man spread in public, you know men tend to be a little more aggressive about things, including apparently knocking first on a closed door as opposed to brutely pushing it in ). Hey I know it’s sexist that I don’t care as much if it’s a pushy or desperate woman, even if  that’s embarrassing anyway. If it’s a strange guy I would be mortified until my dying day.

In the world of public restrooms sometimes there are family bathrooms and that’s a cool invention, although my kids are grown and the only way I will personally benefit is I ever have grandkids. Human ones, because I don’t take the grand-bunny shopping at Macys. But I don’t begrudge families that improvement. 

I agree that we shouldn’t worry about people transitioning and which bathroom they use in public in general. I would however be uncomfortable if I was a middle school girl asked to share my locker room with a boy who is contemplating changing his sex or is it gender?

I’m so confused. When did this get to be such an issue? I mean people had this angst when I was coming of age right? What did they do then??? Read that with empathy because I really do wonder how they managed.  

Then there’s the norms in TV land. Where do the firemen and women change in Chicago Fire because it looks like they share a locker room and that freaks me out? It literally gives me anxiety. 

Also, why was there an eight -year -old boy running around the ladies room  yesterday in that aforementioned Mexican restaurant? You know men designed ladies rooms, halfheartedly and without much consideration. We don’t have urinals next to each but there are always huge gaps in door jamb hinges in public women’s bathrooms and I’ve never understood it. They couldn’t make the stall doors and the frames FLUSH? ( You can laugh now). At some point young boys do not belong in the ladies room. Eegads! I want a little privacy please. 

Digressing again, I must share that my daughter laboriously wrote out a whole chart for me about genders, binary and sex and I really am mystified. She said people needed it spelled out so they could identify and be identified correctly. Now I am even more mystified. Honestly I don’t care if people are bi gendered fluid whatever. Just be neat, clean, honest, fair; the things that matter. Have a good solid handshake and wash those hands in whatever public restroom you use. What you do in your bedroom or your own bathroom with whomever you choose is your business as long as it is between consenting adults who understand that chart a whole lot better than me. 

So I ask you, if people don’t want to be boxed in why are they putting themselves in boxes? 

 Maybe we just need a ton of partitions everywhere. It’s kind of like our all-encompassing use of social media, unrestricted and unfiltered. How can we be our best selves in public if we don’t have a little private space sometimes? Oh yes, that is definitely a metaphor. So happy public rest-rooming! May yours be single sex, er… gender, uh ….clean. 

FANCY FOOTWORK VS. FOOTNOTES

 

The political warmongering will be heating up soon and frankly there is a lot at stake. I see 2020 as a battle between the survival of our democracy and an autocratic wanna-be dictator but then that’s just me….(or maybe not).

As we file in to the ring to watch these gladiators duke it out for the next 20+ months, I am making my request known.

This is what I want from EVERY candidate:

FOOTNOTES

I don’t care if they publish them in a written version of the speech concurrently, text them out to attendees, show them on a webpage or run them on a video screen in the back of their podium while they give a speech.

EVERY TIME A POLITICAL CANDIDATE OR OFFICE HOLDER QUOTES NUMBERS, STATISTICS, OR ANY FACTS AT ALL, I WANT TO SEE OBJECTIVE, UNADULTERATED, UNBIASED FOOTNOTES CONCURRENTLY WHILE I AM WATCHING AND REACTING TO THE SPEECH.

I want to know who said what when. Who produced the study? What were the prerequisites? What exactly is “a lot?” Who exactly are the “people who say”? What makes up the demographic tested or polled? What was the purpose of the study? Did it prove its objectives? Was the methodology standard?

In essence each thesis is supposed to be built by the scientific method. The evidence should be organized and every statement should be referenced to or supported by a published work. Every statement should be correct and easily defended logically with facts.

I resent the manipulation and propaganda spewed forth daily by the current occupant of the White House and he owes me, nay all of us, at least the consideration of proof of his “facts.” I don’t want to read a summary two weeks after the speech. If the speaker can’t prove the facts, he shouldn’t be allowed to say them. It’s intellectually lazy and contemptible to constantly muscle in on veracity and squelch it into subordination.

The unprecedented lying in the Oval Office is clearly emotional abuse. That’s right, we are being emotionally abused by the guy at the top.  I can only imagine what he did to his wives and children. Every day he tries to rule by tweets, giving in to his impetuous snarkiness, while literally influencing the lives of over 300 million people in this country alone. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US that we allow him to continue his assault on facts? And he is not alone, clearly, as we can see what happens when other politicians debate or hold a public hearing.

Tump’s fancy footwork dancing around lies and half-truths doesn’t make him intelligent or me gullible. I, as many other Americans, literally hunger for the truth. And I don’t think I can hang on for another two years while he and his cohorts strangle the truth at every turn. Is there nothing more precious, flaws and all, than the beauty of knowing the reality of an event? We are free to make our own opinions and vote on policy, but we are never liberated if all of our decisions are based on fraud.

So that’s my request. I want citations and documentation. I want journalists to hash out the studies and confirm that they are valid.  If our high school English teacher insisted on accurate footnotes and annotated bibliographies, why would we expect anything less of our political candidates and oh yeah, the guy with the bad haircut in the Oval Office?

 

 

WTF? LEAVE PLANNED PARENTHOOD ALONE

I didn’t “de-virginize” at 16. I waited a while and explored the world. I got a degree, worked in my chosen field and traveled solo. I had my own apartment that I paid for. I bought my own car and I paid for my own health insurance. I went out after work almost every night. I had a roaring good time throughout my twenties but I was responsible.

I dated my now husband for five years or so before we got married. Today we’ve been together for the better part of thirty years and oh yeah we had our wanted kids a respectable two years after we were married. I’ve had no unwanted pregnancies. I’ve had no abortions. I had health care and have always gone to the doctor and respected my body. I am, in short, “a woman of merit” in the eyes of the freaks who seek to control women’s bodily functions through propaganda and politics.

And I– wait for it– went to–hold your fire, PLANNED PARENTHOOD willingly and on more than one occasion. I went to get information on contraceptives because I didn’t want to be forced by circumstances into a marriage I didn’t want or wasn’t ready for.  I went because going out and having fun, and growing up was a lot more important than being someone’s mother at the time. I went because I wanted to control my reproductive health. I went because it was a welcoming, educational and supportive environment to get information about my own body. MY BODY. Not yours and equally not that of some old grey-haired jerk of a congressman who thought he knew more about my vagina than me.

I remember trying to learn how to use a diaphragm and how the nurse and I cracked up when it flew across the room.  I wasn’t embarrassed. She was more like a big sister who put me at ease and waited patiently for me to master the skill. I remember seeing a short film and then watching as another bona fide nurse showed me and a group of young women how the then-available barrier methods worked on a plastic medical model of the female reproductive organs. It was a much better lesson than what I learned in the mandated public school sex ed class and certainly more informative than anything my mother could have taught me. At the time, I didn’t want to take birth control pills so I was happy to get more knowledge about my chosen method. I couldn’t get that in school. There was no internet at the time.  A book wasn’t quite as helpful as a nurse and a plastic model. And the HMO wouldn’t have given me the time or the personal attention I needed to make that decision.

I didn’t feel judged. No one cared if I was married yet and no one asked. No one queried me as to if I had considered abstention. I was a perfectly normal young woman in a perfectly normal relationship that wanted some perfectly normal information about my own body.

WHY WAS THAT ANYONE’S BUSINESS BUT MY OWN?

Today I have two lovely daughters. One is working hard on her career, having graduated from UCLA over a year ago. The other is a sophomore in another great college. We have maintained open communication about this facet of their lives. I know more about them than my mother knew about me. (Sometimes it’s too much to be truthful). I told them about Planned Parenthood and how helpful I found it. They use the HMO but they at least know that there’s another option out there if they want or need other services. They take responsibility for their lives, all aspects of it, and they don’t need some grey-haired geezer of a congressman to make decisions about their vaginas either.

Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization, provides education and services including birth control, STD testing, well-woman exams, cancer screening and prevention, abortion, hormone therapy, infertility services, and general health care. In short, it’s a clinic for women who need medical attention.

It is 2019 and it seems like it is 1719 when it comes to the patriarchy still trying to control women. Give it up boys.  Frankly they can take their misplaced anti-female religious conservatism, their homophobia, their male–dominating power lust and their all-encompassing misogyny and …….

I wish the rest of us had a barrier method against them.

 

 

LIFE’S GOOD. WAIT, NO IT’S NOT.

My LG washing machine went on the fritz two days ago and for a germophobe like me who can’t leave the house if there’s a pile of dirty laundry, that’s a major household event.

So I called the Geek Squad at Best Buy, where I bought the LG/ HE washing machine and as it’s six years old, they routed my phone call to the Philippines Out- of -Warranty Department to set an appointment for a tech to come out on Wednesday. It took a lonnngggg time to get routed correctly and set the appointment.

AND they insisted on charging me $125 over the phone for the labor /service charge. I thought this was a little unusual but they assured it wouldn’t be charged until after the appointment, which of course didn’t happen as it showed up on my bank credit card account this morning before I ever saw the tech. Wow I wish I could charge $125 just for driving out to your house and telling you about my services.

Now the repairman was nice, clean and considerate and changed out the water pump relatively quickly. But I signed the phone receipt without seeing the invoice because it was emailed to me. I was told the repair was $103 for the water pump that I took to mean the price of the new pump.

When I got the invoice I was livid. The pump was $34 and the labor to install it was ANOTHER $65. The tech was here for just shy of an hour. I called the corporate “Customer Service” phone number on the invoice and was told that I got off cheaply as labor runs $65 per fifteen minutes to a total of $175! This was in addition to the $125. So the tech who came out charged $190 to change out a $34 part and had he stayed a bit longer, my labor charge would have been $300 THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS to potentially replace a $34 part.

I’ve gone to doctors who don’t charge me $190-$300 an hour to tell me what’s wrong with me.  I think this is outrageous. It doesn’t cost $125 for a tech to drive to my house and run a computer diagnostic on a washing machine. There are smart-phone apps that you can download to do this now. I complained to LG Customer Service and I’m sending them a copy of this blog.  They simply do not care about their customers.

I am a supporter of Capitalism. But I am a supporter of fair charges too. I don’t rip off my clients. Stupid me. I expect the same treatment. So remember to think about the repair price of the exotic items you purchase in the future….like washing machines. And ask for the ten-year warranty….  (That’s a joke. Just making sure you knew that).

On the Gayle Scale of 1-10 with 10 being OUTSTANDING, LG rates a 9 for their repairman’s abiltiy to diagnose and fix the problem BUT LG gets a dismal 1 for their charging policy and “customer service.”