Tuesday, 27 December 2016

10 Things That I Seriously No Longer Give a Fuck About

**Warning: I plan on cussing extensively in this piece. If you can't handle the language, I suggest you click someplace else.**

2016...yeah...good riddance to bad karma.

I am ready to turn the page on this tortuous trip around the sun and to kick its ass into the netherworld of history. May your misery forever be confined to far-flung recesses of the internet and perhaps the occasional black hole.


I am so over much of what this year has wrought, that it would be impossible to state in just a few paragraphs how little fucks I have left to give to anything right now. This year has so fucked with my psyche that it is kind of amazing that I'm not in a permanently drugged-addled coma. That said, I thought that before my next birthday (Thursday. Get your gift orders in early) I might share those things that have permanently left my "give a fuck about" list in 2016.

10 Things that I Seriously No Longer Give a Fuck About..Thanks 2016!

1) Meetings. Really. I mean it. Don't invite me. I probably won't show up anyway. I am well past my organizational "best-before" date and I have very little left in the tank. I am over it. Let somebody else deal with the shit. I'm kind of done.

2) The Bathroom Scale. I threw it away. I did. Really. And I refused to let my doctor tell me my weight when I went for my recent physical. Unless there is a medical reason for me to worry (and my clothes still fit)...Fuck it!

3) Worrying about eating breakfast foods for breakfast. I hate breakfast foods. I loathe oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, cereal, yogurt, and the like. I want to eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it. So I've started eating leftovers from dinner and Ben and Jerry's vegan ice cream for my morning meal. My metabolism has never been better.

4) Assholes. I have come to the conclusion that my life is simply too short to put up with the toxicity that comes from dealing with miserable farbissenas. (Yiddish. It basically means assholes.) You know that person complaining about their burger at the community BBQ that you spent all week planning? Yah...fuck 'em.

5) Rationalizations. Stop explaining your bullshit to me. If you feel so guilty about your decision that you have to constantly defend it to me, you probably made a poor one in the first place....and you know it. I simply don't care about your guilty conscience. Deal with it.

6) Bigots, racists, and misogynists. Fuck you all and the leaders you've enabled. Corbyn, Le Pen, Bannon, Leitch, Ford, Putin, and.....PEOTUS. Miserable people all.

7) Positive affirmation statements. (And while we're at it...mantras!) If you need them, keep them to yourself. Stop sharing them on social media. Stop posting those fucking idiotic memes. I prefer my realistic view of the world and that includes sadness. It makes me appreciate the happiness even more.

8) Clickbait and fakenews sites. Left and right. They both suck. You know it's bullshit if you haven't seen it in a real newspaper or on a real newschannel. Stop polluting the atmosphere with your fucking sea of information flotsam and jetsam.

9) Junk science. If you come at me with your bullshit, unscientific, and unsupported crap, I will shut you down faster than you can say homeopathy. I just don't have time to give a fuck.

10) People who don't give a fuck about me. I will go to the ends of the earth for those whom I love and care about. If you demonstrate to me by actions, words, or deeds that you aren't one of those...we're done. No anger, no misery, no hostility. Just done. I'm too tired to care about those who don't.

Did I offend you? Sorry...not sorry. If 2016 has taught me anything it's that life is too short to worry about the bullshit. I simply no longer give a fuck.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

There is No Such Thing as Chrismukkah..so Just Stop It!

I had an opportunity this morning to spend some welcome "alone time". Just me, the sun, the wind, the water, and my thoughts. Here are some of those thinks that I thunk.

I am certain that for those who celebrate, Christmas morning is a whirlwind of family, traditions, food, maybe a bit of faith, and hopefully much joy. I wish much yuletide spirit to those who observe and for those who just relish in the connectedness. And while we Jews have had the unusual experience this year of having our Chanukah holiday coincide nicely with this holiest of Christian days, the fact still remains that despite the fun, frivolity, and festivity, our holiday is a minor one both in comparison and in general on our calendar. That said, it is impossible in our Western culture to avoid the season and so Chanukah often gets dragged along as the "Jewish Christmas" and as such we party, gift, overindulge, and like Jews on any holiday... oh boy do we eat.

But, as I sat quietly alone on this Christmas Day/First Day of Chanukah, I was very starkly aware that my holiday is not their "holy day". We who do not celebrate Christmas live on the fringes and in the shadows of this season. We peer through festive windows as outsiders and we watch holiday fare on television with a foreign sense of awe and a bit of wistful pleasure. And you know what? That is perfectly okay with me.

I have never quite understood this need for inclusive equality around this season. I am uninterested in generic holiday greetings. I happily wish anybody and everybody a "Merry Christmas" if they choose to bid me the same. Strangers aren't at all interested in my Judaism and I frankly have zero interest in enlightening them. I am perfectly content to leave the "Happy Chanukahs" or the "Chag Sameachs" to those who know or understand.

Christmas trees? Not in my home, but perfectly fine in the public square.

Santa? He's certainly not a universal symbol of ecumenical giving, but do I really care if he shows up at the local mall without a menorah erected as a token beside his village?

I am averse to ugly Chanukah sweaters, Chanukah gingerbread houses, Mensch on the Bench, blue and white door wreaths laden with gold chocolate gelt, Chanukah bushes, blue and white lights strung across garages, eight nights of gifts, Chanukah Harrys, dumbass Chanukah songs without context, and any other Jewish appropriation of Christmas that you might come up with. I am not waging war on Christmas. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am giving their holiday its appropriate due and its proper standing. I feel that when we Jews engage in such an egregious elevating of our minor chag, we are in fact being disrespectful to the true meaning of Christmas.

Look. It is perfectly fine for us to celebrate Chanukah in a manner befitting the holiday. Light the shit out of those candles. Eat fried foods until your pores clog. Be joyous with family and friends and revel in the light. But remember that it is Chanukah and not the "Jewish Christmas". It demeans all of us of both faiths to wrongly equate the two.

This morning, I was alone on Christmas morning. I often am on this day. There was no excitement and no frenzy. The Husband was upstairs tapping away on his computer, my parents were luxuriously reading the paper like they do every Sunday, and at home, my children were making plans with each other to go to the movies. And even on this first day of Chanukah, all around me, Christmas was happening. Children were in their homes opening gifts, parents were planning breakfasts, and church-goers were dressed in their finest. For the first day of Chanukah, it felt an awful lot like Christmas....just like it should....for those who observe it.

Merry Christmas to my friends who observe.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Somewhere Out There

When I was a young mother way back in the era of presidential blowjobs, (Ah...those were the days.) it wasn't uncommon for me to find myself play-acting the part of single parenthood. As part of his job, The Husband would travel each week to Boston while I stayed home and took care of the boys. This arrangement went on for well over a year and while it was a challenging time for all of us, it was what we needed to do to stay financially afloat. We were both miserable. The Husband and I, while perfectly capable people as singles, much prefer our lives together than apart. We actually like each other and love spending time together, even if it is in the mundane activities of the every day. When that Boston contract came to a merciful end, we both promised each other that we would attempt to minimize the time spent apart as much as we possibly could.

We have pretty much kept that promise over the years to the best of our abilities. Yes, of course, there have been boys' trips and exclusively girls' excursions throughout the years and yes, I have flown home from Florida for work many times and he has as well. We understand that time apart is just as important to our marital success as is our time together, but we like to minimize those periods as much as possible. And...we always always always call. Every day. At least once. No matter what time, no matter how late and no matter the time zone. And a big high-five to the brains behind texting, Facetime, and Skype.

When I retired and decided to spend as much of the winter as possible in The Southern Home, we both understood that he would come and go as his business demanded. Over the past few winters, he has managed to flip the script and is now hoping to spend more time this year without snow than with. But, he still will have to travel north on occasion and one of those trips was made this week.

He has been infatuated with the moon-risings since we have been here and as we approach the winter solstice, I must say that I understand his attraction. The clear southern skies have made for some fairly spectacular images and this week's full moon reflecting off the water was simply stunning. I have been sending him pictures all week of the lunar waxing and waning. Last night, he returned the favour from his perch in our Northern Home.

I posted my photo on Facebook and he followed suit in the comments. My favourite real estate agent/friend commented: "Nice to see you two can share the moon when a couple thousand miles apart."

It was honestly one of the nicest things I had heard or thought of in a long while. It isn't Facetime, texting, or Skype that has us linked, but rather it is knowing that we can still share an ordinary splendour even though we are at opposite ends of the continent. 

I immediately thought of this clip. Yes it is hokey and yes it is mushy, but give me a break. 2016 has been such a tortured trip around the sun, that sometimes hokey and mushy are exactly what we need. 

We will reunite this weekend, but I don't think that any moonrise will equal the one we shared this week. Sometimes, togetherness can happen at a distance. Thanks to my Real Estate Agent/Friend for reminding me.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dare I Say It...A Company With Heart

I have spent a great deal of time ragging on major corporations and their lack of what I have laughingly referred to as "customer service." Airlines, cable companies, cellular providers, and the like have all found their way into this space as the recipients of my "one thousand lashes with a wet noodle' brand of personal retribution. In most cases, these large companies have been deserving of my wrath and so much more in the way of legally acceptable punishment, but I feel it only fair to offer up a positive story of big business catering to its customers, even if that occurrence is so very rare.

Case in point.

Upon our arrival at the Southern Home, The Husband and I determined that it was time to replace the chairs that had been occupying our balcony for the past fifteen years. Sun, salt, and water had aged the old furniture, and while we didn't want to spend an ungodly sum to replace it, the balcony is our place of refuge and was deserving of an upgrade. I suggested that we consider gravity chairs similar to the ones we used to enjoy when we had the pool. The chairs, while probably not the most artistic or beautiful pieces ever designed are reasonably priced, aesthetically adequate, and truly the most comfortable things I have ever sat in. For a woman of short stature with incredibly short legs, this statement is one you should all take seriously. Seating spaces are usually of great discomfort for me. The Husband was totally onboard with the plan, and after making arrangements to donate the old chairs, he went about the task of ordering the new.

Online shopping is either one of the greatest inventions of the twenty-first century or the one of the most aggravating, depending on individual case studies. In this example, it proved to be the former rather than the latter. The Husband found exactly what we were searching for at Amazon.com. Now before you all wail and moan about your miseries with Amazon and how they are the devil's spawn, hear me out. The Husband ordered a package of two chairs for a charge of about $68.00, delivery and tax included. The chairs showed up two days later perfectly intact and ready for lounging. I was so impressed with them that I suggested to him that the balcony could really handle two more. He readily agreed and went back to his original order and placed another for two additional chairs.

Here's where the story gets interesting.

The second delivery arrived the very next day, even though there were no Prime directive nor special delivery instructions involved. The Husband was amazed by the service and I was thrilled with the new chairs. Until...

Later that evening The Husband informs me that he had just received an odd email from Amazon informing him that our order for two gravity chairs had just been shipped. Remember now. We had just received that order in the morning. Could it really be possible that yet another two chairs were on the way?

The Husband went back into his orders and it was very clear that he had only made TWO purchases. He has no idea how a third order might have been placed and there was absolutely ZERO evidence that we were being charged for three rather than two. We decided to play it cool and hope that the third shipment was an erroneous email.

Well...It wasn't. On Saturday evening the third shipment arrived. I relayed the story to several friends here and they all laughed at our good fortune. Let's face it. Errors in our favour rarely happen. Enjoy the windfall, they said.

But...I just couldn't do it. It simply felt dishonest and I could not live with myself unless we made it right. The Husband felt exactly the same way, and while we had decided to keep the extra set, we needed to rectify the situation and pay for them.

Easier said than done. Upon looking at the emails we received, it became clear that Amazon outsources these chairs to a third party, and given that the orders were so close together, we have no idea which party sent the extra set. The Husband decided to send Amazon's customer service an email in an attempt to sort it out. Here's an excerpt.
After the first order, I decided to reorder as I liked the product. Interestingly enough, the second order (done with 1-click reorder) was fulfilled by a different seller at a slightly higher price. This was not a problem for me. 
However, I actually received 3 deliveries. Clearly, one was in error, but I don't know if the one sent in error was from the first or second seller. I'd like to pay for the extra order since returning it is a hassle, but I don't know which seller the extra delivery came from?Can you help? 
Within two hours, yes two hours on a Sunday, he received the most amazing response. Here's an excerpt. (Emphasis is mine.)
We always like to hear from our customers, and we're glad you took the time to write in; we appreciate your loyalty.
I understand your concern that you've received an extra item.
Please understand that we wouldn't want you to get charged for the extra item. I request you to please accept the item as a goodwill gesture from our end.
We wouldn't want you to go through the trouble of returning the item. You're welcome to keep, donate or dispose of it--whichever option is most appropriate and convenient for you.
It is our privilege to have you as our valued customer & we want to make sure you are always taken care of.
I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Now I am not deluding myself that Amazon isn't merely writing this off as the cost of doing business, but it is important to note that there was tremendous decency in the response. And while we have decided to keep the chairs, we are also making a donation for the cost of them to a charity that provides furniture for women who have fled from domestic abuse and are now setting up their own homes.

It is easy to be cynical in this world of nastiness and pettiness. This week, a little glimmer of positivity from a major corporation managed to remind me that sometimes the world isn't as shitty as it seems.

Friday, 2 December 2016


As I checked out the calendar this morning in preparation for Shabbat, I was struck by the realization that this week is Parashat Toldot. This week we will read the story of Jacob and Esau, the twins. It is a Torah portion that has always carried special meaning for me for a number of reasons.

Years ago, when I was tutoring B'nai Mitzvah students in preparation for their special days, I had occasion to teach a young man who was recently recovering from a devastating family loss. Because of the turmoil he was facing at home, I suspended my normal practice of having students come to me for their lessons, and instead I went to him. Being a young mother, I would bundle up Younger Son and take him with me. He would busy himself on the floor with toys and books while the young man and I went about the business of learning Parashat Toldot. Many weeks later, Younger Son and I were driving somewhere and as would often happen, I would hear him singing to himself from his car seat. When I listened even more closely, I could make out that he was chanting the first Aliyah of Parashat Toldot, words and trope completely and stunningly correct. He was six at the time. Osmosis-learning is powerful and real, folks

I have often pondered that story of Younger Son with a special nod to the potency of this particular Torah portion and the depths to which I identify with it. Jacob and Esau bore the scars of a traumatic and difficult birth throughout their entire lives. Their mother Rebecca did not have an easy pregnancy, and the twins wrestled each other within her for dominance and birth order. As they were delivered, Jacob had a firm grasp on his older brother's heel as if to say, "This fight between us is far from over."

The boys were as different as they could possibly be. They seemed to share little in common and were always vying for one parent or another's attention. The rivalry between them culminates in theft and deception as Jacob steals from Esau, first his birthright as the inheritor of his father's property and with a final decisive blow, the blessing from father to son.

Jacob, knowing the depths of his duplicity, runs from his brother in fear. When in later years he finally decides to confront his twin, he comes home with an army for fear that his brother has held his anger close. Esau, firmly putting the past behind them, greets his brother with a kiss.

I have often wondered about Esau. As Jews, we spend much time trying to rehabilitate Jacob, mostly because we are the "Children of Israel" and having our dirty laundry aired through this our patriarch is patently disturbing. But what about Esau? I wonder what the brothers' lives would have been like, what they could have had, had they simply succumbed to the unexplainable relationship that is twindom. How much more could they have achieved as a team, rather than estranged?

I know very well the power of this relationship. I lived it. I loved it. I was a part of that special bond that only twins have. My mother and my aunt shared something that is absolutely indescribable for anybody who wasn't a close party or witness to it. Their husbands, children, and grandchildren were adopted into their orbit and together we are the privileged few that are part of a family that is strong, tight-knit, and resolute. Problems? Sure. Difficulties? Absolutely. Nothing on the scale of Jacob and Esau, but unlike them, we have done our level best to weather those storms together.

It is with some degree of irony that this week of Parashat Toldot marks the third English anniversary of my Other Mother's untimely passing. Due to the quirks of the lunar calendar, the Hebrew yahrzeit will be observed later this month. Her absence is still a cavernous hole that will never be filled. There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of her in some way. It could be her handwriting on a recipe or her voice in my head when I watch a favourite movie. As we begin our winter down in the Southern Home, I am finding her presence here more personal and real. Here was where she was profoundly happy. Here was where she reveled in the warmth and sunshine. Here was where she got to spend so much more intimate time with my mom, probably more than they had since they were kids.

Mom and I had a discussion this week about the emptiness she still feels. She has managed to somehow carry on with her life these three years, but it was a final act she readily admits she never anticipated doing without her sister. She described the ache she still feels as if it were a bone that has badly mended and stings in the rain. That bond that she still shares with her is bigger than even she understood. The power of these twins, my twins, is found in their unbreakable closeness and the legacy of their family that has been their birthright and blessing.

I am left wondering how much stronger we Jews could have been had Jacob and Esau been more like my Mom and my Other Mother. What could they have accomplished had they done it together? What would we as a people have been like had they embraced rather than fought their twindom? The possibilities seem limitless.

May her memory always be for an abiding blessing.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

I Miss Those Days

Two very minor and rather trivial incidents close to home this week have made me really think about decent and civil human responses and compassionate interactions.

Incident 1: On Tuesday, I sat with my dad and listened to him argue with the local newspaper delivery service line as to why he hadn't received his home delivery for the past several days. Now before you all start ragging on me with comments about "how very 20th Century it is of him" to still receive a home delivered paper, understand that some habits are difficult to discard after a lifetime of application. He likes his newspaper. He likes to sit outside and read it with his coffee. He appreciates the flyers and he likes the tactile nature of the act. I get it. I am exactly the same way minus the coffee. No matter how many sources I read online, I still enjoy the local morning paper. I feel as though I am, in some small manner, helping to keep the industry afloat with my subscriptions. I know it isn't true, but I don't mind the fantasy for twenty minutes every morning.

But...back to Dad.

After over an hour of haggling, three or more disconnections, transfers to supervisors, angry epithets hurled at probably distant phone bank operators, promises made and promise broken, my dad was no further ahead than when he started. He still did not have his daily newspaper, did not at that time yet secure a promise to credit the missing periodical, and was thoroughly frustrated by a repeated script-based response to his problem. He never did receive his paper that day, even though it was promised to him several times, and in the end received two papers the following day as if yesterday's news somehow matter to him at all. The last I heard, he was still working on getting the credit.

Incident 2: Regular readers of this space are probably sick and tired of my constant complaints about cable companies. Our miserable experience dealing with three separate telecoms trying to facilitate our move during the summer has enough material for several folk songs. These companies have you by the short and curlies and take absolutely no responsibility for any foul that may occur. As conglomerates, they are amongst the worst that big business has to offer as they have totally diversified their customer service departments so that nobody can contact anybody about any problem ever. Try getting a direct phone number for a supervisor. Go on, try! I dare you. It just cannot happen in their world.

But...again...I digress.

Today, we awoke in The Southern Home to discover that after two weeks of smooth sailing, our cable company which shall remain nameless, (hint: It rhymes with Momfast) had decided to switch off our cable and internet access for no apparent reason. After several online chats, two separate phone calls, and a prayer to the Spiritual Deity, The Husband managed to get our internet access back online. Our TVs are another story. He has spoken with no fewer than four separate customer "service" representatives and has had two separate online chats, and the only thing that he has been able to discern is that somebody at MomFast decided to put our account on a vacation hold beginning today and ending tomorrow. When the absurdity of the situation was pointed out to the fine idiot-savants working at MomFast, they openly acknowledge that yes indeed, the interruption in service was indeed their error, but they have no idea how such a thing could have occurred and that we would have to...wait for it...wait 24 hours for the service to resume. It took them all of 3 seconds to disconnect the fucking thing, but apparently, it takes longer to flip the switch on than it does for them to flip it off. (Sidenote. I've been flipping them off all day.) The Husband has tried to be polite and civil in dealing with a wholly impolite and uncivil customer service experience, but I think the moment that sent him careening over the edge was this short exchange this afternoon.

The Husband: "I have been trying all morning to get somebody in authority to talk to me, can you please connect me with a supervisor."

MomFast Zombie: "I'm sorry, but there isn't anybody else for you to talk to. I can escalate the situation for you."

The Husband: "You mean to tell me that this has been your non-escalation mode? Are you seriously telling me that there isn't a supervisor with whom I can speak?"

MomFast Zombie: "Well those people are very busy and have no time to talk through this matter."

The Husband: (Now beet red with rage and the decibel level in his voice at about a 9 1/2) "Busy!! Are you kidding me? (I kind of wish I could put cuss words in here, but to his credit, he didn't swear.) I have spent over three hours already dealing with this garbage. I have taken time off of MY work to deal with your mistake, and you're telling me that they're too busy? Their job is to service ME!"

He was transferred to a MomFast Zombie in Atlanta (we are in South Florida) who told him that the TVs would be on as of 3:00pm this afternoon. They weren't and still aren't. He is presently back on the phone again trying to solve the problem. I am not overly optimistic that anything is forthcoming.

The overtaking of our society by massive corporations hasn't just made us a more robotic society, it has removed the compassionate human element from our daily interactions. There was a time that if you had a problem with a service or a company, complaints would be dealt with by experienced personnel who understood not only what their companies actually do, but that you the customer are paying their salaries and contributing to their profits. Today's drones working in "customer service" are merely phone answering script readers designed to get you off their backs as soon as possible. You the customer simply don't factor into their bottom lines. Solving your problems isn't high on their priority list, so inevitably insulting the consumer, whether intentionally or unintentionally, becomes a natural part of their person to person interactions.

I have been trying to get a better handle on exactly why people are so very angry these days. I have seen folks argue over parking spots, yell at each other in line at the grocery store, and almost come to blows simply because they were on the same path and bumped into each other. I get that there is a myriad of social conditions and factors at play and that every situation is different depending on the circumstances and the people involved, but it cannot easily be dismissed that the lack of care we take with one another has led us to the precipice. We have allowed a denigration of common civility and an inherent lack of understanding that everybody is here for a common purpose to dominate our everyday intercourse. Thus, it becomes perfectly acceptable for our leaders to spew hate from a public pulpit and for total strangers to call me nasty names like "libtard", "leftist hag", or even worse on social media when all we really have is a simple difference of opinion.

Our TV situation will eventually be fixed and I am certain that my dad will solve his newspaper issue, but I am not so sure that we will ever be able to return to a time when civility was a natural part of our discourse and that differences could be settled with a handshake and an understanding nod. I'm sorry about that. I miss it.