Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lice Free and On the Bus

I have spent every free moment during the last week sticking tiny little name labels onto underpants and flashlights and shower shoes. The campership Gods were generous and the Murphy boys have returned for another summer at Jewcamp in Malibu. Last year, the then 14 year old, wrote a series of terse desperate letters the gist of which were, "I hate it here. Everyone’s an asshole. Come get me immediately." I was assured by the camp administration that this would blow over and it did and when we went to fetch him he said that it had turned into a wonderful experience and that he wanted to return this year. In the last several months his mind changed and he’s been bitching and moaning and negotiating about a second summer at camp. It wasn’t until I saw him in line to board the bus that I stopped being frightened he would bolt.

Spuds loved camp and looked forward to returning, although he was slightly apprehensive about attending a later session than last year because he’d know fewer, if any, kids. He helped me organize the many items in his duffle and spruced up with a new crew cut which makes him look like a little thug, albeit a cute freckly one. I could see he was getting some butterflies about leaving the night before camp when he requested we leave a really exciting Dodger game early. After I had the duffels in the car I got a real sense that my children would not be with me for three weeks. I know this will be quiet and sweet for him and myself, but slamming the trunk, I became bereft and terrified. I attended the same camp thirty-five years ago and I know the value of a three week break from family life and how in a pack of peers/strangers there is a wonderful liberty to be(come) yourself. I send my children away (from me) to give them this gift. I took them to their favorite deli for breakfast and the fifteen year old was focused still on his anger at me for insisting he go. Spuds and I didn’t say a lot but we were both conscious of avoiding eye contact with the other, knowing we’d both start to blubber.

The drop off point for camp was way the fuck out in the valley at the Milken North Valley Jewish Community Center. This part of the valley that was virtually the country when I grew up in Van Nuys is now dense with strip malls and acres of gated home communities. Our friend John O’Malley won an enormous suit against billionaire Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson at the time when I was completing the camp scholarship forms. Adelson made his money on gambling, profiting on human degradation and is now probably the largest donor to Jewish causes in the world. Michael Milken, a valley native, was the junk bond king and spent two years in a federal prison for racketeering and some ninety other charges.

When Milken was released from prison his net wealth was over 2 billion dollars. He has devoted himself to philanthropic work in the areas of medical research, education and Jewish communal life. Maybe Milken was actually a great guy before the bust too and he got so caught up in the bond trading juggernaut that he simply lost sight of the moral implications of his business practices. Would he have become one of our nation’s great philanthropists if he hadn’t been arrested? Milken launders his dirty money by throwing large amounts of it into good causes. Is his motive the rehabilitation of his name after a public humiliation or the product of a true spiritual epiphany? I wonder if Milken even knows this himself. The boys are going to camp on the dimes of lots of benevolent folks in the Jewish community and inevitably a lot of donations are generated from profit gleaned by things I find reprehensible. I do know that the far valley complex that bears the Milken name is spectacularly ugly. The jury is out on whether Milken is a sinner or a saint but he will win no medals for commissioning design and architecture. Let there be as much stucco as possible and let it be brown.

The Milken Center is only about four miles from where Buford Furrow, nine years ago, shot up a J.C.C. preschool. Since then, the Jewish Federation has paid for us to have a security guard at high holiday services at the tiny temples we attend. These guys wear polo shirts and help the old folks up the steps and join us for the Kiddush. The Milken Center has an enormous security staff. There were incredibly beefy guys with crew cuts in black suits with headphones and lots of others in military type uniforms. There is a metal detector and x-ray machine at the door and we were subjected to scrutiny before being allowed to enter the parking lot. I spent about an hour and half in the center and except for when I was in the bathroom, there were always several security personnel in my line of sight, moving briskly and speaking with urgency into headsets. There was one particularly large and fearsome bald, bulbous eyed security man who appeared to have a gnarly jagged scar running down the back of his neck. I realized it was his communications wiring.

The foyer of the building has large Jewish Federation posters with huge blown up snap shots of youthful and innocent faces imploring us to remember the Jewish martyrs of the Intifada. I know that there must be similar poster displays of fallen young Palestinians somewhere in the world where children see them. I wanted to tell my boys that for every child murdered in an act of religious intolerance, there is a mother. I kept my mouth shut though. The security was too heavy.

My kids have spent time in tiny temples and the funky Silverlake JCC. They were unsettled by the Milken Center. It occurred to them that the presidential level security was in force mainly as a reaction to the Buford Furrow shootings and they became even more unsettled. I didn’t have the wherewithal to remind them that Buford Furrow was a mentally ill loner and that as far as I know, there is no organized conspiracy against Jews in our country. We registered them and they were sent to stand in line. A short squat kerchiefed woman donned rubber gloves and examined each child carefully for lice.

It was time to line up for the buses and the kids shepherded me out of eyeshot to say goodbye. We didn’t end up crying but it was a crap shoot so the selection of a private (except for the security camera and half dozen guards) spot to exchange our final hugs was prudent. The boys joined the line. I turned my back, leaving them with a free of lice bill of health in that ugly place, and I wept to have children so precious that I cannot let them go and I cannot not let them go.

I returned to my office and while my boys rode the bus, the earth shook and God reminded me again that every beautiful and wonderful thing we depend on can be torn away in a nanosecond. As nominal as I am in my Judaism at this time, so inconsequential in the history and the future of time, I am reminded of the fragility of everything I cherish and that the most urgent requirement for any of us is to show love. And to trust.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Knotted Panties? Stay Positive.

Harry posits “panties in a knot” as it refers to that brittleness that is often a consequence of fraught feminine sexuality, in reaction to my railing about the big dick that’s conquered the universe. I self edited the phrase from a piece last week because I am unable to visualize what consequence to physiognomy would result in that configuration of undergarment. Men have their own, and different brittleness about sex but for “panties in a knot” I will ascribe to the feminine incarnation of sexual fraughtness. This is a condition, the descent into which Kaz refers to as “dangerous onto self.” And onto others too I will add. It is a chick thing. From my knotty place springs harshness, giving honesty lip service, when I aim to be tender and loving and less doctrinaire about my own perception of truth.

The new Hold Steady cd, a limited edition with 3 extra tracks thanks to Himself’s diligence, arrived at long last. Our home listening system is unrestored since remodel and I have never been encouraged by my family to use it anyway. I eagerly grabbed the new album en route to car with my brood and all three noticed it in my clutches and returned immediately to house for IPods. I haven’t given it a fair listen but can say that it builds on the three previous recordings in a satisfying way. The verdict is out as to whether it is of the same quality of the previous releases. I expect, at the very first blush that it is. There is however, a harpsichord, an instrument I particularly detest, on one track which I will most likely forgive and if not, a number of my favorite records have a track I automatically skip. The album is aptly titled STAY POSITIVE.

I picked out affordable and stylish and slightly too large clothing for camp and for as long into the school year as growth sustains, at Target. I honestly don’t know if Target is really any better for the world than Walmart but I am a sucker for the cheap designy stuff they push. Clothes are a big thing in my family. In a lifetime of photo albums, my parents were always dressed, for better (the forties and fifties) or for worse (the sixties and seventies), in the mode, The fifteen year old and I have not seen eye to eye very much lately about fashion sensibilities and his most recent purchases were made on-line after a circuitous and agonizing series of compromises. I did not look forward to this prospect and we don’t have time to order camp gear online anyway. With enormous trepidation I picked out a few garments that I thought the 15 year old might not find humiliating to wear. I purchased jeans and shorts and a few shirts, intrepidly risking the return line at Target.

The fifteen year old eyed the bags suspiciously and then began fingering the garments like some potentially contaminated alien scat. I double checked that the receipt was in my wallet. The fifteen year old held up a pair of shorts, “These are cool.” There was one sort of combo Chinese/Russian comrade hat that was relegated to Spuds, but the rest of my choices were approved and a new sweatshirt made its debut at a teen party in Silverlake before I’d even had a chance to write his name in it. He even compromisingly accepted a pair of pre distressed denim jeans which were not horrible and only cost 9 bucks, as being o.k. for camp. He pointed out a hole and I know we were both visualizing fifty thousand pairs of jeans all being manufactured, each with an identical hole. It is comforting, after recent wardrobe skirmishes, to know that the tight pants phase will be over soon and that the fruit of my loins is refined enough to detest anything faux.

I bribed Himself with his favorite pizza in exchange for accompanying Spuds and me to see Wall-E in Glendale, U.S.A. We’d paid for our tickets when we discovered that it was Cruise Night , a huge car show with performances by Herman and the Hermits and the Surfaris. I would have been tempted to skip the movie if I’d known there was a sea of cherried out old Chevys for me to drool over but parts of the latest Pixar creation were staggeringly beautiful and I was grateful to see it on the screen. The only real flaw to this exquisite and disturbing post apocalyptic fable is that the genre requires a happy ending, which at least was followed by one of the most breathtaking closing credit sequences I have ever seen. Glendale is walking distance from Silverlake but 54% of the population is foreign born and 51% are registered as Republican. In Wall-E, the metaphor for the catalyst of earth’s ruin is the central ruling entity Buy N Large. The Glendale Buy N Large recently opened and it is called the Americana. It nearly conjoined to the behemoth Galleria, boding perhaps to crush commerce in that huge edifice and render it a pollen free, level walking course for the elderly.

The Americana is an open air shopping center with stores slightly more upscale than many of its Galleria counterparts and a number of medium end chain restaurants. It is sort of quaint and cutesy and meant to have a convivial public space feel, ala Universal City Walk and The Grove. For all of the square footage it occupies and the crowds it’s attracted for the last two decades, the windowless Galleria mall never provided any sort of satisfying sense of community. Himself strongly objects to public social interaction, particularly when it is intermingled with commerce and if he we had been born in another millennia, he would have sent me off solo to the agora for provisions and gossip while he was sequestered at home reviewing the Iliad for Amazon.

I find the Grove to be rather pleasant and enjoy the live music and hustle and bustle there. I also respect that the project came to fruition and the adjacent Farmer’s Market was preserved, completely intact. I get more gaga over local weekly farmer’s markets where I actually engage in the social interaction of buying food and meeting neighbors. I stay out of the chain stores at the Grove and am merely a passerby and not a participant but these evening gathering places have young sex in the air and provides one of my few opportunities to observe mating rituals. I couldn’t put my finger on why the Glendale version left me a bit chilly, God knows the hormones were flowing heavy, when Spuds pointed out that Americana is really just a clone of The Grove.

City Walk is an anathema to me because it is noisy and rowdy but I admire the concept, in the same way that I admire California Adventure. Each project, with no sparing of cheesiness, is an homage to Southern California, which for better or worse captures that special Hollywood thang. Similarly, the Grove feels like it fits with its charming neighbor, the Farmer’s Market. The Americana is, as Spuds astutely observed, simply a prefab soulless copy of the Grove, anchored by nothing and about as organic to Glendale as Big Ben or the Eifel Tower would be. Why can’t it friggin’ just stay in Vegas?

The post apocalyptic city in Wall-E and the blandly cynical Glendale Americana remind Himself of the general fuckedupness of things. And at the homestead and office and out in the world, there is much to put my panties in a knot. Himself thinks I am silly and trivial but cheap cute clothes and convivial commerce restore my flagging faith. It’s a chick thing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Playing Field is Not Level

Himself pissed me off in the car as we drove to the Atheneum at Cal Tech. There was traffic, due to a huge sink hole on the picturesque original Pasadena Freeway. The graceful beauty, with its curvy meander through the Arroyo, is crumbling from the ever increasing number of cars that cram onto it. The New Yorker cartoon came into the late-in-rush-hour traffic discussion, Himself having yet to read my post below. I have said clearly, in conversation and via blog, that I am not enchanted with Obama.
From actually reading the magazine’s article instead of merely the caption of the cartoon, I am less enchanted but I am also captivated by his cunning and particularly by his cunning transparency about his cunning. I have never known of a politician to admit, at least in a public forum, that there are election strategies that should probably be illegal, but are clearly not, that he is knowingly taking advantage of. Yet, he spares explicit level playing field and better good rationales and astonishingly owns up to these decisions.

Nevertheless, my husband has branded me a Silverlakian bubbleheaded goofball bleeding heart Obama slavering liberal although I’ve said nothing much stronger than “I think Obama will be a better president than Bush.” And he even AGREES with this himself and still is making sport of implying that I am a bumblebrained ditz. Himself and I achieved dĂ©tente and enjoyed a lovely alfresco dinner with Colleen and Geoff and Ryan. During dinner we mentioned that we had both almost completely stopped buying books, availing ourselves almost exclusively of the local library and publisher’s copies and that also our music purchases have also been radically curtailed.

I picked up a couple of CDs at Amoeba almost a year ago but have purchased no other tunes for many moons. The Hold Steady, my admiration for which I have made no secret of, has a new recording out and I did ask Himself to order it for me. It has been well reviewed but I am trying to maintain realistic expectations. If nothing else, it will be a great summer pleasure to simply have something new to listen to and I am giddy with excitement, rushing in from work all week and asking first thing if it’s arrived. . I will be missing the local concert supporting the album because I will be in Toronto with my intellectual and cultural superior.

KCRW, whose hipster music folk consult all over town and are considered trendsetters, has gotten as bland as KOST. It’s the friggin’ QUIET STORM flaccid dick music that won’t offend or rankle or merit the attention of anyone anywhere. There are no CDS in my car that any of my family will listen to so on the ride home from the sanctorum of nerdulent genius, the evening dj on the NPR station we love to hate, played Bob Segar’s Hollywood Nights. It is ham fisted and shallow but has a throbbing and urgency that make it a great rock hit. Stupid but sort of satisfying in that Tom Petty guilty pleasure sort of way. It would be fun to play on Guitar Hero after I nail Slow Ride.

I was still smarting from his Obama Silverlake ninny rant when Himself blasphemed and snidely compared The Hold Steady to Bob Seger. He knows how much I admire the former and this just felt cold and mean. What’s worse is that the fifteen year old seized upon the opportunity to diss Mom, mimicking his father in putting down something I find moving and beautiful. The car windows were all steamed up when we got home and doors were slammed.

I know this snarky sarcasm is a transparently hostile big dick thing. I tantalized the big dick and am now personally and uniquely responsible for children and thankless job and mortgage which impinge so on reading time. However, prior to the enticement into the female lair of evil, there was lots more time for jacking off and that, I think, that has a lot to say about the paradox of people with dicks. The paradox of people without them is that while we laugh at the big dicks as we multitask, we are tender. We know that it is our tenderness you really want. And we forgive.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Booed off the Stage

My boys usually sleep until the afternoon, snoring in their beds and grazing through the day on frozen pizza and leftovers and stone fruit, the pits of which they leave wherever it is convenient to leave them. I endure the greater wear and tear on the abode as it is a change in routine from the tyranny of driving carpool. The fifteen year old is on the move and sleeps at friends houses more than he sleeps at ours. When he does sleep at home it is usually with a convivial guest of good humor and oft of large appetite. He and one such friend left at 6:00 in the morning, wildly excited to transverse three trains to Universal City and wait in line for twelve hours to receive free tickets for a premiere of the new Batman film. Spuds partook of the free 7/11 Slurpee day at 8:00 a.m, and I suspect partook again, several times later in the day, as did his brother partake too. Here, in the middle of the possibility fraught days of summer, my boys are filled with glee and delight and will rise near dawn for the thrilling thrill of free stuff.

A Slurpee wouldn’t drive me from the early morning balminess of a summer bed and if I do see the Batman, I’ll pay the ten bucks and see it at my leisure. But I am embarrassingly delighted by $5.00 coupons from the Fresh and Easy Market. There was also a two dollar coupon for Depends in my wallet which may remind my children of their fleeting youth should they rummage there, lacking further free offers for them to avail themselves of.

I found the ideal alternative to those pricey day camps for Spuds. No lunch to pack and no driving either. For $77.00 including shipping, I purchased the Wii game Guitar Heroes, Legends of Rock, from a buy-it-now eBay auction. Spuds has barely surfaced since the contraption arrived and he moves around like a real rocker as he thwacks the thing. Himself wouldn’t go near the little plastic guitar with color coded push buttons instead of strings and frets. I was game but was “booed off the stage” in the parlance of the game, three times while attempting to play Slow Ride. I can see why kids would play this for hours and yet there is something about it that repulses me and it’s not just sour grapes after the Slow Ride humiliation. The whole thang of it has a cheapness to it. A plastic guitar. Graphics that make it look like we haven’t progressed much since Pac Man. Pretty icky songs. The vulgar and tawdry seduction of a cheap harlot.
But they said rock ‘n roll wasn’t music and guitars weren’t instruments. Perhaps there is potential for real music to be created by the part of the brain that determines whether or not you are good at Tetris. I used to be very good at Tetris. Once in a while I try a game for old time’s sake but I have never been able to find the simple interface that I was used to and the newer versions overwhelm me. I don’t think I’ll ever again pass another hour playing Tetris but sometimes I imagine the zen like “right” feeling I’d get when I was able to manipulate the pieces to fit together, and I miss it. Maybe someday that special thing that comes from our Tetris place will generate truly beautiful music. Maybe when I nail Slow Ride. I’m stocking up on those jumbo battery packs for the Wii from the Costco. Too bad they won’t redeem that Depends coupon there.

The New Yorker arrived with the cover that parodied how stupid Americans are towards Islam, particularly and weirdly on the eve of the election of the first Black president. Obama called the cartoon an affront to Muslims. Is he, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, being coy and pandering to the ignorant masses and feigning ignorance to the true poignancy of the cartoon? In an NPR interview with Latina McCain boosters in Texas, the women questioned uniformly believed that Obama was a fickle Muslim who had already abandoned one faith and they felt therefore that his stalwartness as a Christian “convert” is suspect and that Obama may return to his “original” faith. We have seen BARAK OSAMA bumper stickers. The masses are ignorant. The masses don’t have to be ignorant and maybe I am ignorant myself to believe that if nothing else, Obama is the better education candidate. The many pleasures of this summer in memory will always play in counterpart to the sting of the (brilliantly calculated) cynicism of the election’s summer chapter.

The technological miracle of my own fifteenth summer was a turntable that allowed for the stacking and continuous play of 10 different lps, enabling me to remain in bed most of the day. I ate stone fruits and spat the pits out the torn screen and pled innocence when my mother discovered a six foot apricot tree outside my bedroom window. In 1972, less than a decade had gone by since I’d stood at attention on the blacktop at Riverside Drive Elementary for the announcement that the president had fallen. Only four years had passed since RFK and MLK and Chicago and I saw the nightly news of Viet Nam and glowering, cynical Nixon in color for the first time at a cousin’s.

I roused myself several afternoons a week and then in September, every day after school, and rode my bike or took a bus to the McGovern for President Headquarters on Van Nuys Blvd. I stuffed envelopes and answered phones. I have never volunteered for another candidate. My mother underestimated the impact of my single foray into electoral politics. Years later I saw her housekeeper’s son wearing my maroon “McGovern 1972” t-shirt. I made him take it off. I still have it. I wish Obama could fill me with the same hope for a new order that George McGovern did as I rode my bike through the valley proudly wearing my campaign t-shirt, then as new an innovation as a stacking turntable.

Maybe Obama will be president and maybe national priorities will shift to more closely reflect my own. The selection of a vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton, who was discovered to have had electric shock therapy for chronic depression, cost McGovern the election. My mother and sister were mentally ill and because of minimal understanding and stigma, never received effective treatment. I am lucky to have disavowed my legacy and Leslie would be disappointed if I did not add that there is a good degree of personal vigilance to this, and not just kismet. My older sister was not lucky or vigilant and her mental illness ravaged our family for decades. If it weren’t for my nieces Cari and Marlene I don’t think I could even bring myself to think about my sister’s life. She is buried in an unmarked grave in Las Vegas. I have never seen it and furthermore, I have neglected to provide a headstone. My sister’s granddaughter Marlene turns 21 this week and will vote in her first presidential election in November. My sister’s granddaughter is at that impossible young stage of adulthood when she can do everything but rent a car. She has a job she likes and a cute and funny boyfriend and she reminds me again and again that beauty, like a spectacular phoenix, can rise from the saddest of sad things.

Obama might turn out to be the greatest president this country has ever had. You can bet his running mate will not have had electroshock therapy. The campaign bums me out but I pay attention because as calculated and insincere at all seems, I suspect some good will come. A world with free Slurpees makes this easier to believe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Home now after ten days. Himself and I are always changed by visits to the north and this trip was no exception. We stayed in Mount Hermon, in an ancient cabin, vacation home to several generations of the same family and chock a block with artifacts of days passed in a sacred place. We walked in Cowell Redwoods, bequeathed to the people by Henry Cowell who made his fortune in lime kilns and lumber. Cowell is reported to have been private and little is known about him except perhaps for a hint about the family’s differentness in their unhappiness. It is said that upon his death, his daughter ordered his mansion demolished but for years maintained a crew of landscapers to maintain the lush gardens surrounding the rubble.

When we arrived I made a shopping visit to New Leaf, the local hippie gourmet health food overpriced market in nearby Felton, for provisions. The staff is almost entirely white and most of the employees are my age or a bit older. If not for this, I could have been shopping L.A. I had a full cart but the cashier commented on an overflowing bag of wasabi almonds from the bulk bin because she found them too spicy and on the dimensions of the rolling papers I had chosen because they were atypically wide.

The most sophisticated electronic device in the cabin we rented was a VHS player. I warned that it might be difficult to find VHS tapes to rent but I took the kids to the local video store and was surprised to find that about one third of the inventory is still tape. Rows and rows of sun faded numbered shrink wrapped video boxes line the shelves and plastic chips are attached to titles which are in stock (most of them) and these are matched up from the backroom inventory of brown or navy hardshell plastic cases. There was a large computer on the counter but this seemed mostly used for invoicing and membership and not inventory and our receipt was printed by a dot matrix printer onto fan fold paper. There were two women in their early sixties running the store. I don’t know if they were employees or owners. One had a scary emphysemic wheeze. It took the two women about forty-five minutes to sign us up for our complimentary membership and to locate the tapes the kids had chosen. The rental period was three days and being that it was two-for-one day, we rented four tapes for $3.50.
The population of Felton is fewer than 9000. There are two video stores. There is even a bead store. I am stymied by small town economics. I visited the New Leaf again to shop for dinner on our last night. The cashier hoisted my bag of wasabi almonds on the scale and queried, “Did you already finish the other bag?”

I watched my beloved devour some toast and a bowl of cherries while reading a withered magazine under a ring of giant redwoods. His face was the soft one that our yogi expects, even when we’re contorted like pretzels or porn stars. I walked behind him and Bob through the Redwoods, hearing and understanding only bits of conversation but I felt their intellectual and spiritual engagement. How satisfying it would be for both of us to grow old within walking distance of Chris and Bob. And to be able to cook in my own kitchen, which would have a dishwasher. Three days in a small town and it is already public knowledge that I am a pothead and that I am addicted to wasabi almonds. I will miss the impersonality of the city but, when it is time, I will trade my anonymousness to see the face of my beloved illuminated by rays of light through the ancient trees.

It is our custom when traveling with the lads to rent vacation homes instead of hotel rooms. The place I’d selected in San Francisco was not available but the agency offered instead a nearby apartment it represented on behalf a family who was traveling. It was a handsome apartment and filled to the rafters with an urbane selection of books. The family must have known before they left for Europe (their calendar was left prominently on the refrigerator) that others would be paying to stay in their home but there were no allowances except for a huge basket of toilet paper in the bathroom. The agency representative came over and dumped some of their clothes to make us a tiny bit of space to unpack but the bathroom, while completely absent of soap, was filled with used toothbrushes and dirty hairbrushes, foot fungus medication and a pair of rubber thong sandals hanging in the shower. There was something sort of sickeningly exhibitionistic about it. The transparent condition of the house made it easy to glean that the lady of the house is French. The kids ascribed the lack of soap to that.

We had our third meeting with birthmother and birthstepfatherinlaw. It is lovely to spend time with them. Himself and the woman who gave birth to him have many questions for each other, and inevitably some of the answers are wrong. We accompanied them to a 4th of July buffet lunch at their Episcopal retirement coop. She introduced Himself as “my son” to all of her friends there. She has made no secret of her sorrow that my beloved has chosen not to maintain formal ties with the Catholic Church and I get how core this is to her. She has shown that she is full of pride at his other accomplishments and she is smart and sophisticated. It must be friggin’ huge to have the approval of such a formidable mother after having been reared by well meaning adoptive parents who were nevertheless on an utterly different wave length. I am trying to be respectful of fervent Catholic devotion. I know it is complicated for her. She was counseled by a priest to never tell her fiancĂ© that she’d given birth and surrendered the child for adoption. She followed his advice for over forty years. Yet, my husband consciously ardently diligently struggles to live with faith, a challenge given his legacy and the world we live in today. I look forward to the time when she recognizes and honors the accomplishment of maintaining any sort of faith at all.

I made Himself put down his book and remove the wife cancelling headphones which have been reprised after a several month period of IPOD malfunction while we drove home from the north down Highway 5. He is generally miserable about the condition of the world and has a much more concrete understanding of it than I have. I know that he believes in science but also that we came to exist due to some spiritual imperative. I asked him if he didn’t think that the same spiritual thingie which brought the world to be in the first place would override all that mankind has wrought to doom the planet and he looked longingly at the wife cancellers.

Bob and I met while teaching at Lincoln Heights Adult School. He just completed his PhD in Education and has taken a position running one of the largest adult education programs in the country. My hope for the world is restored when Bob reminds me about the potential for education to insure a future more glorious for mankind than we can imagine. We have fucked up the earth. We have mocked the light that brought us into being by creating big dick run religions and governments and institutions. But I believe we came here in grace and that through education and faith we will bring about Tikkun Olam, the healing of the world. I know that my beloved’s faith in this is often tenuous and his skepticism helps me articulate my prayers. And I am blessed to have a friend like Bob to remind me that these prayers are not in vain.