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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Is This Night Different?

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I got the phone call. My mother called me the other day to ask if we'd be able to come up for Passover Seder this year. For those of you "goys" or non-Jew readers, Passover is a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jews' escape from Egypt following their persecution at the hands of the Pharoah. Seder is the meal eaten at Passover. This is pretty much the gist of all Jewish holidays: 1. Jews are persecuted. 2. God helps us overcome our persecutors. 3. We eat.

Passover is a particularly groan inducing holiday. Prior to eating the Passover meal, one must participate in the Seder ceremony. This ceremony includes many blessings, readings, odd foods, hand washings, songs, rituals, and thankfully, glasses of wine. Now, being raised in the "Jewish Light" tradition, the Passover Seders of my childhood were typically no longer than 30 minutes and usually left out songs (no one knew them), more than one hand washing (except for my obsessive compulsive uncle), and many of the readings (snore...) As I was often reminded, "back in the day," Seders often lasted over 3 hours, were conducted entirely in Hebrew, and children had to sit through the entire ceremony before they could eat anything. I guess this was supposed to make me appreciate the shorter duration of the boredom and oddness of our Passover Seders.

I do remember fondly one year when I was about 11 or 12 and had a migraine. My mother gave me one of my prescription painkillers before Seder and then I had the requisite 4 small glasses of Manischewitz kosher wine with the Passover meal. After about the 2nd glass, I began giggling at what was not really a funny passage in the Passover Haggadah (the "script" you read that has the blessings, stories, etc.) My inappropriate behavior continued until somewhere in the middle of dinner, I fell out of my chair and lay on the floor in hysterics, at which point my mother stated, "I think she's drunk." Ah, holiday memories...

Then there is always my uncle to contend with at our family holiday gatherings. I believe his lifelong goal is to demonstrate every symptom in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, and he is succeeding quite well thus far. We never know whether he will arrive in a depressed state, a manic state, with obsessions/compulsions ablaze, with a disordered personality leading the way, or as some wild card. Or he may not show up at all because he is in jail. Again. I have one particular childhood memory of my uncle unexpectedly bringing a "friend" to a family holiday (Thanksgiving this time). This "friend" was a skinny, young, blond kid (I pray he was at least over 18) with stringy hair and dirty clothes who would not make eye contact with anyone. My uncle announced that they were going to the red light district of a nearby city after dinner, so he hoped we would eat early. Then he told my mother that his friend wasn't comfortable eating in front of other people (great choice to bring to a family holiday meal, Uncle Inappropriate!) So, while the rest of us ate turkey at the dining room table, "friend" took a plate and sat by himself in my brother's room. But, back to Passover...

Unfortunately for us, the Seder has grown longer as my parents have grown older. I attribute this phenomenon to 4 things: First, both my brother and I married non-Jews, so I think my parents feel the need to make sure some "Jewishness" remains in my life and in the lives of their grandkids. Second, as all old Jewish people must, they have moved from their house to a condo in an "over 65" community, which is comprised of many other old Jewish people. This, by unwritten Jewish law, must be done if one does not move to Florida. Thus, they have become more involved in Jewish "stuff." Third, I think they are trying to hedge their bets with God as they get older. And fourth, there is always "the Guest."

"The Guest" is a non Jewish friend invited by one of my parents, usually my father, who makes the fatal mistake of expressing some tiny modicum of interest in the Jewish culture. This person then gets issued an invitation to Seder so that my father can educate him or her about the Passover Seder, its meaning, and its rituals. This can make the Seder drag on and on and on. Much ado is made of the fact that "The Guest" has never been to a Seder, and meaningful glances are cast in the Guest's direction during the service to make sure he or she is appreciating the significance of this occasion. Several times during the Seder, my father likes to add little tidbits of information to enlighten "The Guest," many of which are factually inaccurate, such as "We often fry matzoh (the unleavened bread eaten during Passover) in oil to commemorate the Miracle of the oil in the Temple," (no, that's Hanukkah.) "The Guest's" job is to nod solemnly and act impressed.
Last year my daughter and I suffered through Passover Seder at my parents' house. My husband wrangled his way out of it by working or something and still owes me big for not having to attend. We initially amused ourselves by kicking each other under the table and then surreptitiously trying to tap each other without the other one noticing. These amusements only entertained us for a minimal time. We spent the rest of an agonizing evening listening to my parents' friends complain about various aches and ailments, rail about the faults of the Obama administration, and brag about their son (recently divorced and also present at Seder.) My daughter and I dubbed this son "The Mumbler" due to his exasperating yet entertaining habit and beginning a sentence, only to have it trail off into incomprehensible mumbling by the tail end of it. We couldn't comprehend a single thing he said all evening! He could have been the most brilliant man on earth or he could have been confessing to a string of murders; we couldn't tell the difference!

So it looks as if come April 19 I will be subjected to the funfest of Passover with the parents once again. Because I have to drive over an hour in heavy traffic to reach their home, I won't even be able to get myself snockered on the wine and let the evening pass by in a Manischewitz soaked blur. Why go, you ask? If there's one thing we Jews understand better than persecution, it's GUILT! I couldn't live with myself the rest of the year knowing that they were disappointed in me. I just hope they don't read this!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can You Say L-I-T-I-G-A-T-I-O-N? Let's Say It Together!

Oh no! I've committed yet another horrendous parenting mistake by my flippant ignorance and disregard of societal expectations. I fear I may have condemned my poor daughter to a life of flipping burgers at the local MacStupid's due to my lackluster attempts at choosing her preschool 12 years ago. I visited the one my friend's kids had gone to, liked it, and sent her there. How careless and neglectful of me! Not once did I ask to see their mission statement. Never did I question how the preschool would prepare my daughter for the "high stakes" testing to come during her later school years. I was so uninformed that I didn't even scoff at the toys that were littered around the room! Can you imagine? TOYS?!! I only hope that my daughter's innate intelligence will compensate for my parental shortcomings. We can't all be as vigilant as Nicole Imprescia, my new role model.

Ms. Imprescia, of NY, is suing her daughter Lucia's preschool for $19,000, which is the cost of tuition for the private preschool. Little Lucia was pulled out of said school after only a few weeks because her mother felt that her daughter was not being well served academically. Specifically, Lucia was "dumped" in with 2 and 3 year-olds who were learning about shapes and colors. Ms. Imprescia claims that the preschool, York Avenue Preschool, did not fulfill its promise to prepare Lucia for the required entrance exam that is needed to get into New York's most select and elite elementary schools. Additionally, she claims that the preschool teachers did not do enough to help prepare Lucia for the Ivy League. "A toddler who takes the wrong first step could ultimately trip up his or her chances for acceptance into an Ivy League college and for earning a higher income," the lawsuit states. According to Imprescia, York Avenue Preschool was "one big playroom."

How awful! Can you imagine a bunch of 2, 3, and 4 year-olds in a big playroom learning about shapes and colors?!! It's amazing that someone hadn't reported these charlatans to the Department of Education, Social Services, and the police before now! Thank God little Lucia was rescued from that hell hole before she was damaged any further! Who knows what may have happened had she been allowed to stay. She may have been taught songs, and not in a foreign language either! She may have been made to touch Play Doh! Or finger paint! The mind reels with the horrors that she could have been exposed to had her mother not saved her from this plebian pit of a preschool. 

There is one remaining problem, however. Now that it has been publicized that Lucia's mother is a litigious bitch on wheels, I can't imagine that there is an elementary school, public or private, that will want to accept Lucia now. If they don't have her solving calculus equations by kindergarten and speaking and writing fluent Mandarin by 2nd grade, Ms Imprescia will be bringing in the lawyers. And Lucia had better not be in a class with any glue drinking, nose picking, crayon scribbling "kids" either. That's so beneath her. 

Even if such a school were to exist, would they welcome a child whose mother just brought a lawsuit against another school? Perhaps Ms. Imprescia has actually harmed Lucia's chances of being accepted into the school of her (mother's) choice by her actions. Perhaps now those competitive, top notch elementary schools will shy away from poor Lucia because her mother cared too much. And if she can't get into an elite elementary school, what are her odds of acceptance into a select high school? This episode in young Lucia's life may ultimately result in her complete inability to be accepted into an Ivy League college and earn a higher income! If I were Lucia, I would sue my mother.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

By now you've probably set all of your clocks ahead one hour for daylight savings time, right? Me neither! Those wall clocks are a pain, and those little decorative clocks that just sit and gather dust and look pretty I will get around to one of these days. If you want help setting your clocks straight for DST or after a power outage, however, don't count on Time anymore. That's Time, with a capital "T." As in one of the first telephone numbers I learned as a child after my own home number: T-I-4 and any 4 numbers. This was well before you had to dial an area code. Now, you must dial a local area code with the Time number, but in our area, Verizon has provided the Time service for more than 70 years. Ditto the weather. Weather's number is W-E-6 and any 4 numbers. That is, until June 1, 2011. On that sad date, Verizon will discontinue both the Time and Weather services.

If you call either of these numbers now, before the chipper recordings of someone helpfully telling you the exact time or what the current temperature and the daily forecast is, you will hear a somber announcement informing you that come June 1, you can say goodbye to these services. Now I know that there are many people, many, many people who had no idea that these services even existed and don't care a whit that they're being discontinued. They may say that with cell phones, satellite programmed clocks, PDAs, weather channels, and computer sites, there is no need for a telephone service for Time and Weather. To these people, I offer an offended "Hmnph!" Some of us have older TVs and clocks and don't care to keep our cell phones, TV, or computers running 24/7. Sometimes a phone call for me is the quickest and most convenient way to find the information I need. I know, I'm a relic. I still have a landline. Deal with it!

I can't believe that it costs Verizon all that much to maintain this service. I, for one, will be writing to the company to voice my outrage at the diminution of customer service. If anyone out there would care to join me, you can e-mail Keith at and call Verizon at 1-800-VERIZON. If you don't have Verizon, check out your area and see if you have Time and Weather. Then see if someone is trying to take it away from you without you noticing. Then speak up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Lynnaima,, Bodhirose and verseinanutshell nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Two were for Mouse Droppings, my poetry and prose blog, and the other was for Rants From the Hormonally Challenged, my therapeutic venting blog. I humbly thank all bloggers very much for this honor. The Rules to accept the award are as follows:
  • Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post.
  • Tell 7 Random facts about yourself.
  • Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers.
  • Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it.
So, 7 Fun and (Maybe) Interesting Facts about Me (Lolamouse)

  1. I'm a leftie 
  2. My favorite candy is Twizzlers
  3. I like the East Village, egg bagels, and Johnny Depp
  4. I hate Times Square, stinky cheese, and Giada DeLaurentis
  5. I started writing stories and poetry for a literary magazine in junior high
  6. I've had birds, fish, guinea pigs, and dogs as pets
  7. I've had migraines since I was at least 7 years old
Now, for the difficult part: 15 new found bloggers. There are so many bloggers who already have this award, but I will try to find 15 new ones. I nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:
  1. moon stones small poems with big thoughts
  2. Inside My Poem Book Uma writes poems, prose, and has a weekly poetry challenge to explore different poetry forms
  3. life whispers  poetry that is sometimes political, sometimes personal, always thought provoking
  4. Lost In LaLa come on Laynee's journey of self-exploration-you never know where she'll take you!
  5. Art Projects from MN Art Gal here is a teacher who is definitely NOT burned out! inspiring art projects for the kiddies or yourself!
  6. EveryDayIsAwesome Paul Overton teaches us how to tame nastiness without being "hippie-dippie" and annoying (I'm a slow learner!)
  7. Few Miles  talented writer of prose and poetry, host of annual haiku contest, check out the many blogs of Someone Is Special (SIS)
  8. Reflections Of... beautiful poetry, prose, and pictures
  9. Coffee with a Hint of Self Delusion cool poetry, thoughtful thoughts, photos, etc. from one cool chick
  10. The Simple Life Odie's blog is a happy mix of personal anecdotes, inspirational but not preachy messages, photos, and fun
  11. Appetite for Words  poetry- sometimes funny, sometimes not, always good
  12. Kim Nelson Writes art, photos, poetry, writings from one talented gal!
  13. Shay's Word Garden  awesome poetry! check out fireblossom's other blogs as well-good stuff!
  14. Pics and Poems Dave King is an extraordinary poet and artist. You may even learn some history reading his poetry!
  15. 120Socks poetry, photo journal, thoughts, and lots of other goodies! maybe you'll even find your lost socks!
Congratulations to all of the award nominees! You all rock! And thanks again to the bloggers who nominated me! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Texas Bill 1202: Is It a Riddle or Just Hypocrisy?

All American gal, Debbie Riddle source
Thought the Civil War ended slavery? Texas Representative and tea party darling Debbie Riddle wants to bring it back! Under a bill she proposed (House Bill 1202), hiring an "unauthorized alien" would constitute a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, unless that is, they are hired to do household chores. ¿QuĂ©? Rep. Riddle reportedly wants Texas to institute an immigration law similar to the law in Arizona making it illegal to hire undocumented workers. However, there would be a loophole large enough to drive a truckload of illegal immigrants through for undocumented workers hired to provide maid, caretaker, lawnworker, or houseworker services. So, Texans don't have to fret about being fined for having houseslaves! 

Justifying this absurdity, Texas state Representative Aaron Pena stated that it is so common for Texans to have illegal immigrants working in their homes that it is "overlooked." He further explained that if the proposed law were to apply to all undocumented workers, including domestics and yard workers, "a large segment of the Texas population" would end up in prison. Thus, if undocumented workers wish to clean toilets or shovel fertilizer, the good people of Texas are okey dokey with that. After all, Americans don't want those jobs. If, however, they wish to find a skilled job with prospects of decent money or advancement, they can go back to where they came from. Do I have that right, Ms. Riddle?

Make no mistake: the loopholes created for this law are NOT to protect the undocumented workers. They are to protect the upper class who feel entitled to have their housekeepers and yard workers and nannies but not have to pay them decent wages or benefits. It is to the benefit of their employers that these workers remain illegally in the country so that they can be paid less than minimum wage and work under conditions that no legally hired worker could be subjected to. Because they fear deportation, they have no avenue for complaint if they are not paid or are abused. It's Gone With the Wind, Texas style.
¡Bienvenidos a Tara!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Thin Mint Defense

In Florida last week, a woman was charged with aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for attacking her roommate over a box of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. Seems that Hersha Howard (31) became distraught upon discovering that her Thin Mints had been eaten and went into her roommate's bedroom to confront her. She woke the roommate and accused her of bogarting the cookies. The roomie denied the charge, claiming that she gave the cookies to Howard's children, who had awakened hungry that night at 1 a.m. The roommate offered to pay $10 for the box of cookies, but Howard refused. The two women began to argue, and it became physical. Despite intervention from the roommate's husband, Howard was able to grab a pair of scissors and attack the roommate, who fled down the stairs. Howard then struck the roommate with a board and continued to attack her as she fled outside the house. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!

If I were the judge on this case (oh, how I would LOVE to be the judge on this case!), I see several ways to place the blame for this unfortunate, yet entertaining, incident. Let's start with...

1. The Defendent: Hersha Howard: OK, I understand coming home at 2 a.m. with a mondo case of the munchies, looking forward to stuffing your face with your Thin Mints to find only a box of baking soda and some sad looking onions in your fridge. You were angry. And hungry. But does this warrant an attack with scissors and/or a board? You could have taken the $10 your roommate offered and bought yourself 2 more boxes of cookies plus had some money left over for beer. Do you think you'll have Thin Mints on the women's ward in the Florida State Pen? Take a chill pill, sister. Buy yourself a Snickers and think about it first.

2. The Victim: Roommate: Sorry, honey, but I really don't feel all that sorry for you. You're a couple of crayons short of a box. Anyone who has lived in the United States for a year or longer knows that Girl Scout cookies are a coveted item. Steal someone's cookies at your own risk! I, for one, know what it's like to have a jones for Thin Mints. You wait all day for that moment when it's just you and those chocolately, minty cookies. You know you shouldn't, but you get your drink of choice and sit down to "do a sleeve," only to find that your cookies are gone! I, too, would feel homicidal.

Wait, you say! Roomie claims she fed the purloined cookies to Howard's hungry children when they awakened at 1 a.m. I say, YOU CALL THAT A DEFENSE, LADY?!! First off, everyone knows that you don't give Girl Scout cookies, which cost a whopping $3.50 a box, to a bunch of snotty nosed little kids who don't know the difference between them and a piece of cardboard coated in sugar! You give the kids the cheap, store brand cookies, you idiot! Second, unless they still require the breast or a bottle, the proper response to children who wake up at 1 a.m. and say that they are hungry is not to offer them a box of Thin Mints. The proper response goes something like this: GET YOUR ASSES BACK IN BED RIGHT NOW AND I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN UNTIL MORNING! Basic Parenting 101. So, victim shares some of the blame here too.

3. The Girl Scouts of America: The Girl Scouts organization itself shoulders some of the blame for this Thin Mint melee. As devotees of Girl Scout cookies know, one can purchase the cookies for only a few weeks out of the entire year. Unless you stock up (and who can really afford to stock up at $3.50 a box?!!), your Thin Mint window of opportunity is limited. Thus, the organization itself creates crazies like Hersha Howard who go ballistic when their supply is interrupted. What kind of crack-like substance do they put in those cookies that gets us hooked so quickly and so thoroughly?

Also, why is it that for $3.50 a box, only about 50 cents goes to the scout troop itself? The rest of the money goes UP the ladder to various councils and offices. The Girl Scouts themselves get a badge (ooh!) and some lame ass token gifts depending on how many boxes of cookies they sell. "Hey, I sold 300 boxes of cookies and got a genuine imitation zirconia necklace that turns my neck green!" And who exactly sells those cookies anyway? If you've ever had a daughter in Girl Scouts, you know that it's Mom and Dad who do the cookie whoring. You send out the emails; you post the flyers at work; you call relatives; you collect money; you drive around town and deliver everyone's cookies. And what do you get for all this? Ab-so-fuckin'-lute-ly nothing!

What does all this have to do with Hersha Howard assaulting her roommate over a box of Thin Mints? I just felt like railing on the Girl Scouts while I was on a rant! Now I think I'll go get my Thin Mints and have a snack. And they had better be there (I like mine cold from the freezer) or somebody's gonna have to hide the scissors!!!