Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day of Remembrance. And contemplation

I am having a tough time this month with dinner conversation. The news is so complicated. Trying to explain the economy, or why Blago does what he does and is indicted (try explaining Grand Jury to an 8 year old) but Mayor Daley can lease off the parking meters and nothing happens to him. See we have spent years and lots of temple dues involving my kids in moral and ethical education so my kids really want to believe that the person making the most money or the person in charge DESERVES to be in the position they are in. They totally get the idea of justice. They want the world to be fair. Just. Righteous.

But then about when they grow a prefrontal cortex capable of abstract thinking, you have to explain to them how the world really works. The world ISN’T fair. Things rarely work out the way they are supposed to. Evil exists and goes on for a while before it is stopped. Good should but does not always win. Good people are not always the ones in power—I learned this at an early age in the world of work. I have worked since I was 11. I can count on one hand the number of good bosses I have had. Some were well meaning but incompetent, some were certifiably insane, some were just mean spirited. Mostly what I learned is do a good job anyway, no matter where you find yourself. We want to believe that the folks in power are better than we are, smarter, better, something, and that makes the fact that they can control us ok. But then you find out that mostly, they were just luckier. They may have been born higher up the food chain, they may have gotten more lucky breaks, they might be a man or a better color, or born prettier, so they get a better deal than you.

Grimm’s fairy tales are very good at the truth of this. Children in those tales survive truly horrible ordeals by being clever, or getting lucky by meeting a (usually magical) help mate. It always helps if they are nice people—being kind to the ugly old crone pays off. But those magical help mates are pretty sparse these days. Unfortunately, in real life, spoiled brats often lead privileged lives. Some bad people lead very nice lives.

And then there is the Holocaust. Today is Yom Hashoah, the day of remembrance for the millions of Jews, gays, people with disabilities, gypsies and people who just tried to help. My family attended the opening of the new museum in Skokie, dedicated not only to telling the story of what happened but to challenge us not to let it happen again. And we watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame about Irena Sendler. Even Elie Wiesel told us you cannot really answer the question why. Why is the world the way it is? I don’t have answers, and my children are full of questions.

Best to discuss the weather at the dinner table.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My face

I did not think about it much.
Twas a fine one.
Attractive enough
To get modeling gigs
When my mind was not adequate
To pay the bills
In my artistic youth.

I never spend time
Looking in mirrors and am
Known to go to work
With Racoon eyes
Not noting that the mascara
Left circles in the bags
Under my exhausted eyes.
Not a big one for makeup
Or treatments,
My face was just a way
Of looking out at the world.

Even as gravity
And the slow march of time
Took their toll,
I did the sunscreen and alpha hydroxy
And ignored my face,
Until a cellular improvisation
Furrowed the doctors brow
And a piece needed to come off
Of my Vermillion Border.

The potential of cancer
Is never welcome news
But the alteration of a face
I have gone so used to that
I can take it for granted
Toppled my gyrometer
And made me self conscious and cringing.

All may be well—
A skilled surgeon’s hand
Focused its work on my flesh.
And if the cells are malignant
I would certainly rather them gone,
I now no longer
my face
for granted.

Update: Scar is hardly visible, but I cannot whistle.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Snippets On Post its

Found while cleaning out my winter purse
stuck on the bottom near the pennies.....

The Parent as Sisyphus.
Halfway up the hill you discover
It is an Egg
Not a rock
That you are rolling
And it hatches
With claws and teeth
And just when you think
It will roll back onto you,
The Beast
Flies Away

Good Read

Suddenly, the book appeared.
It was more than 50 years old,
and the tale it told was absolutely necessary
At that moment.
We could not remember
Ever owning
The Book before.
We argued: it was purchased at a house sale
Handed down,
It bore a library pocket from
Trinity Texas.
Yet, tellingly, it also bore
An address sticker from my childhood home
Indicating ownership of decades.
But I had never seen it before,
never read it.
How did it arrive in the pile by my bed,
What compelled me out of the blue
To fish it out
and finally read it?
Sometimes the universe
is trying so hard to get through to us.
In all things, timing is essential.
For it was only at the moment
When I finally opened The Book
And began reading,
That I was ready
For its story.