Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The world is safer now than it ever has been

A friend of mine recently posted this on FaceBook in response to a status about the war and chaos in the Middle East, compounded by the plane being shot down and a variety of other events that make the news one of the most frightening things to watch.  I am a total knowledge geek, product of a father who made me look up anything I asked him about that he did not have ready answer for, so of course I had to check that out for myself.

I did and study after study  - no not Op Ed pages but actual journals and organizations that are legitimate - seem to have been studying world violence trends for years.  Who knew?? After all these people obviously do not have any influence on the news which deals in gore and anger and rarely on this amazing statistic.

How could that be ??  Venezuela is a mess, Libya is a slow burn, Syria is on fire, Iraq has Isis and a host of other problems, the Taliban is doing it's deeds all over Afghanistan,  Palestine and Israel - who cares who started it how about we all go on to who ended it??!!!  We move on to Russia who has a finger in many of the above and a rocket missile launcher that may have crossed into Ukraine to shoot down a plane, full of the civilians including the loss of 100 or more HIV/AIDS specialists.

So the world is safer then ever????? It is but the news is more dangerous.  There is very little reporting done these days on paper, internet or tv.  Most of it falls into op ed masked as reporting or sensationalized kind of like TMZ for politics and conflict.  In that mix there is no room to report that even with all of these events which are horrific in so many ways - the loss of life, the loss of hope, the creation of more hatred between these factions, the rise of fanaticism cloaked in religion, the use of massive amounts of money not for education and improvement of their own people but to aid in the destruction of them along with whoever they are targeting.

How about if the news reminded us that the mother of a child cries when her child is injured or killed on both sides of those rockets, that the rest of us with children applaud the world for being less violent.  If the news took the time to report rather than try and tell us what to think - giving less time to a zealot or a serial killer or a gunman and just the facts without the making those criminals the star - maybe we could focus on what we need to do together instead of what "wrongs" we perceive as done to us.

So for me I choose to tell my children of these conflicts that somewhere a child has been spared but that his parents sleep with one eye open.  I tell them to be kind to others for that kindness is what has led to the overall reduction in violence.  I hope for them that the trend continues and that maybe someone can remind those places that right now are in conflict that the majority of us and the majority of them can do so much more if we listen to the doves of peace rather than the hawks of war.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From rubber ducky to Nautica body spray

 I remember when my first son was born and I looked at him the day after I gave birth and was amazed that he was mine, that he was so perfect and that I was bowled over by the love that I felt for someone who had yet to do more than peep at me and eat.

It is probably among the most common things people say to new parents .. "watch out it all goes so fast".  Yet in those first few months - you know the ones where at day one as you walk out of the hospital after you gingerly took at least 10 min or more to dress child (because before you have children that hand knitted outfit with buttons seemed so adorable for picture taking - and as you did it you were afraid the nurses would get some sort of beep as you tried to put child into it, who was not still, and you did not want to break them getting them dressed).  You took at least another 10 min putting them in the car seat, was their head really supposed to drop like that - I mean you bought the baby neck pillow but was that suffocating the child?  You accomplish all of that and you walk out of the hospital with your bundle of joy.  I, of course, had to sit next to the car seat in the back, installed by the police station in town because that too looked a bit daunting when out of the box, to make sure 1) child was breathing 2) held my hand under said wobbly head because that neck was way to little for what was obviously a design flaw with such a heavy head.   That took me a while to write and those first few days, few months all seem to go somewhat fast but really long too.  There were sleepless nights - my particular bundle of joy enjoyed sleeping either on top of my chest - which translates to child sleeps and you breathe or with us in bed which also translates to me and my rather sizable husband having a sliver of the edges of our bed while small person took over the middle.  Sleep deprivation sure skews how "fast" things go.

As they go from those odd little tubs you put in the bathtub to wash them to rubber duckies and other toys - most of which involve splashing you - you start to think well maybe it goes a little fast - after all the design flawed neck/head issue resolved quickly, the sleep situation took about 2 years to move him out you know just in time for his brother to move into the spot (see above as same layout).  You watch those milestones like a hawk and let me tell you if they don't hit them within a time - well time is not going so fast then is it?

Suddenly just as your back has finally straightened back from having walked in a semi crouch as they learned to walk, navigate stairs and you were a human shield for this super fast person - another design flaw - the balance thing obviously needs some rethinking - they walk they fall you pick up -- repeat oh about a zillion times.  So they are walking, having playdates, you made some friends with the moms, you may even start going out once in a while with friends without fear of having say spit up on your shirt or having to design Patton worthy plans for your husband to follow while you are out.  My friend Dori and I sat dutifully front row as we learned about Pre-K and signed up our little ones and then there they were holding hands, backpacks bigger than them and off to school.  They finished and as we took them to lunch - sigh it did seem kind of to have sped up.

Second children seem to go even faster I think - maybe because of all the multitasking - no time to consider sleepless nights and wobbly neck issue as much and somehow they are hitting those milestones - rolling over just in time to not have slightly older sibling use them as a landing post - ahh self preservation.

I find I am so busy that while I feel that time is flying it is also packed with all that I want to do with them and all that I need to do with them that I do not have that much time to ponder the "it all goes so fast" unless somehow I feel I need to impart this bit to a newly pregnant mother.  This past weekend suddenly though - WHAM!!!! put on the brakes.  No I mean seriously slow it down, down shift, or whatever it somehow went from 60 miles an hour to the Daytona lap 499.  My 10 year old son who has mentioned that he is noticing girls, not those in his class who are still friends only, but 18-21 year olds are "smokin'".  He doesn't talk much but I like to make sure that I let him know we can talk and that he can say smokin' but understand the difference between compliment and creepy.

This past weekend he was bit tongue tied when we went to eat at this place on the beach - he was looking around at the pretty girls in the bikinis and a part of me just wanted to have him still play w the theme bag all the kids got with their meal.  My baby is going to be move from baby to toddler to child to ohhhhhh no close to 'tween and then da da daaaa teenager (sigh, eye roll, fear).  On the way home from the weekend place we stopped at an outlet mall and he asked for Nautica body spray because he knew cologne was not happening with me.

It goes to fast - did I miss anything - how would I know I was busy enjoying them, doing for them, you know all the stuff I just wrote before and am repeating because how did we go from rubbery duckies to Nautica?????  I guess I just have to do what I have always done - deep breath - happy memories and enjoy the new ride.  It is all part of the amazing men they will be.  I love looking at their pictures with the faces so cherubic, toothless gums showing in a smile and remember for every back ache there was double the great moments we shared as we moved forward.  Even in writing this blog I realized that it may have gone a little slower at the beginning but I blinked and we went from 3 years to 10 years old in that moment. 

So yes I bought him the Nautica - and full disclosure admit that the nice smell also did this weird thing where I remembered boys who I liked wearing a similar scent when I was a girl (that seems to have gone fast too) - and I look forward to helping him stay on the racetrack, eye on the prize and enjoying the speed.  I will always be his Pit Boss  in the race - there to make assesments, change necessary tires and provide guidance through the parenting headset -- but in the end the whole point is to go fast and enjoy the ride as much as the moment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The King .. Thank you, thank you very much

 My memories seem to usually be more about summer than other seasons mostly because it is my birthday during that time and it is so much my favorite time of year.  

I associate summer with the usual things beach, vacations, beach, long days, beach, songs and dancing at beach clubs, beach... you get the picture.  The other memory I have of this time of year is of Elvis.  One of my first and, still now looking at pictures, forever crushes. 

It was my 2nd year in the States and my parents were able to actually take a vacation too.  They had previously used their limited funds, they came to the States before me, to get settled and mostly to get me out of Romania ( don't care what else you think of him big shout out to Pres Ford whose visit to Romania led to my getting to be with my parents).  Their budget was limited so off to Florida we went - in August.  Did you all just shudder - the heat, the humidity, the fact that all those displaced East Coasters go back to their Northeast areas from their Florida homes ... yeah we were headed for it.  Did I care or even think of that ??? NOPE.  I was happy to be with my parents after being kept apart from them for so long.  I was happy I was 10.  It was the summer of long, lazy days playing outside on my street until they came home from work so this was great.  

We packed ourselves into the family car .. a silver with burgundy top Buick LeSabre.  The thing was as big as some yachts.  Now I have teased my mother that the parents of people of my generation, growing up in the 70s and 80s, tried to kill us but that is what makes us stronger.  They drove in those cars without seat-belts, infant car seat was her lap in the front, with cigarettes in closed windows,  my parents bought the car in part for the feature that I could lean between the 2 bucket seats (you know which would propel me through windshield in case of accident), no sunscreen and hours in sun.  My friends and I survived. Let's face it the front of that car was made better than styrofoam current models and was about a mile long - so chances that I would do more than slide slightly forward on the couch size back seat were unlikely.  I could lay down in the back and not have to scrunch my legs at 10.  The 8track my dad so proudly had played everything from Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Ray Coniff (think that was name), Englebert, Tom Jones, Bee Gees, and many other songs that were the sing along for this only child. He of course played Elvis.   

So here we were our first family vacation since we had been reunited, driving through Georgia and it's Welcome to Georgia rest area that gave out peach juice.  The car had A/C -- funny story when my parents first came to the States in 1973 they saw all these people driving with windows closed in the heat of summer .. they thought Americans were a bit odd - open the windows.  My parents of course ascribed to the fear of the draft - popular among Europeans which implies that sitting or being near a draft will cause anything from ear infections to Bell's Palsy (I kid you not) and no amount of science can trump the myth of the draft that persists for many to this day.  Still they were willing to look the killer draft in the eye if it meant driving in the heat with windows open.  Their first car was a convertible red Mustang -- killer gorgeous until it was stolen.  The 70s and New York - not so purty.  It was only when they found out about a/c in the cars that the closed windows made sense - and if it was new my dad had to have it. 

We woke up in Howard Johnson's - that was about as high up the hotel chain as my parents could afford and back then these were actually pretty nice.  They were clean, had a pool and who can forget the Howard Johnson ice cream sundae...in today's world that 10 year old me would have given it high rankings on TripAdvisor.  The TV was on and Elvis images kept popping up.  The room was painted a gold color with orange and brown breadspreads -- I did mention this was the 70s.  My father used the remote control, that would be me for you kiddies who do not know a time before remote controls.  He told me to get up and turn up the volume.  

They thought maybe it was his birthday before the sound came on but no it was the news that he had died.  He seemed pretty old to me then - am mortified at how young he was now.  My mother cried - so did my father.  I cried too - mostly cause my parents seemed so sad.  The world cried - even cold hearted USSR leaders sent regards .. this was big. 

Elvis - he in many ways is the American dream - poor to rich - struggling to success. To the cynics he is a warning of too much of everything that leaves you empty - to the optimists he is the hope that anyone can achieve.  Elvis is the music - the sex - raw emotions and those hip gyrations that a new generation needed to free them, to move them - to start them on what would come next. He is rock and roll - something the world thanks the US for giving them even now - well except those in the world who won't listen to music  - tells you everything you need to know about them, can't like or trust a person who won't listen to music for it is the beat of our hearts metaphorically and physically.    

Elvis - his voice still moves me, his lips still looks beautiful, he is always going to be part of my childhood and part of the adult that needs music to move, to hear my feelings, to be taken away, to be returned to a past, to help me cry and most of all to make me smile.  Though for years people kept thinking he was still alive, while they meant literally I agreed with them conceptually - he would never and has never died because of the impact he had - along with others who impacted the world through music, art, science, medicine, discoveries - he was made immortal. 

He is forever to me black leather clad Elvis, not fat Elvis, the dream and not the aftermath.  That moment when we as a family - newly arrived to the land that my parents had known partially through Elvis  - united in our sadness for the loss yet filled with longing for what else we could accomplish. That Elvis summer was also the time when my parents still had a marriage that they enjoyed.  My father and I had a tumultuous relationship - especially as I got older - but in music, and with Elvis, we always had the best of times.  

For that as we are moving toward the anniversary of his death I say "Elvis - Long Live the King - thank you, thank you very much"

Welcome to my world 
Won't you come on in ..... Elvis

Wise men say only fools rush in 
but I can't help falling in love with you .... Elvis

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bicontinental baby


I am one of those immigrants who loves being an American by choice.  I get weepy at the Star Spangled Banner - ok must add exceptions do not like it when it is sung as a pop song, country song, rap song or badly it is hard to sing but sing it like it was written -- and Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful.  I get angry at politicians who make choices that go against the things I love about the US - democracy and that amazing piece of paper the Declaration of Independence.  I think most Americans by birth or choice are actually these incredibly welcoming people not the gun totting fundamentalist cuckoos who somehow have hijacked the media.  I guess after all it is kind of boring to have news articles about people who are just trying to get by, not interested in more than their or their children's futures -- much more catchy to show the outcasts.  

Besides being an American by choice I am actually a New Yorker - NYC and I, we are pretty much in each other's DNA as far as I am concerned.  I like many parts of the States but none come close to NY from city to beaches to the amazing mix that is Queens and quirkiness that is Brooklyn.  

I guess maybe all of this leads up to the fact that somehow as soon as I land in Italy, nope not drop of Italian in me unless you count bazillion years ago when a Roman colony settled Romania (Jung's collective unconscious comes to mind), I somehow immediately feel at home.  I like many places in Europe but Italy is my favorite by far.  

I easily change my internal speed to sit down meals that will take hours -- to friendly smiles and unreliable time assignments.  The sing song language that envelopes me and makes me feel somehow comfortable and slightly sexy.  I love the history and let's not pretend the food is not a big part of this ... oh my they do it so well - yep all of it.  

I could live in Italy - there is a part of me that is never fully American and never fully European but that could be bicontinental in some way ... ok not really an option but boy would it be nice.  There are things that I know would annoy me  - shower curtains for one - can we please stop making bathtubs so tall that I am doing weird moves to straddle over and get actual shower curtains.  I am pretty fond of clothes dryers that actually dry clothes and not in 3 days for one thong .. what is it an emphysema laden motor in these ?  The closing of shops for unknown amounts of time and the weird way that trying to get a schedule for the metro/internal train requires cold war era spy maneuvers to steal as they don't print them.  All of that aside the beauty of being surrounded by monuments built BC and the incredibly welcoming nature of Rome would get me over it ... if not the great wine that is available or limoncello would also do the trick.  

So having said that I know as I found out when I last tried to leave NY the leash does pull me back - the hustle and the craziness of NY - the variety and insane pace -- the we got it done even without the BC foundation approach - it is what makes me tick.  

Maybe having a schizophrenic need to live in these two places is not unusual for a child born in Europe - to a Communist regime - who at 8 got on a plane by herself to meet her parents across an ocean in a place that was the home, Capitalist center, of so many others who came also from a place of history to a place where they could make their own history.  There is much about NY that has my heart - places and of course certain people - but oh Roma I hear your siren call even a few days after I just left you.