A Four-Year-Old’s Guide to Racial Issues

A four-year-old’s guide to race relations.  I  grew up in a mostly white, mostly Jewish suburb outside Washington, D.C.  The only black person I knew was our maid, Lottie, who came weekly to

Day 98_ support

Day 98_ support (Photo credit: Frerieke)

clean our house.  One day I informed my mother,  “Lottie is black because she doesn’t wash.”  My mother was really shocked and burst out laughing when I said that.  What do you expect for a four-year old?  She corrected me, “Oh no, that is not right.  People are born with different color skin, just like you have brown, curly hair and your friend Essie has red straight locks.  Essie has freckles and you don’t.”

Now nobody in our family smoked, but Lottie was a heavy smoker.  Although my family did not allow anyone to smoke in our home because they disliked it and especially because I had asthma, you could smell the residue of smoke on Lottie’s clothing, and it was in her hair and breath.  I am sure she took several smoke breaks outside during her work day.  So, I interpreted that smell as lack of cleanliness.  Putting two and two together, Lottie’s unusual smell and her different skin tone made perfect sense to a preschooler.  May we not approach people in the same simplistic and errant manner now that we are grown-ups.

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Stunt Thinking: A New Extreme Sport?

Thought Bubbles

Thought Bubbles (Photo credit: Michael Taggart Photography)

I know people who love wild roller coaster rides, and the more adrenaline producing the descent, the better.  Some enjoy thrilling, yet dangerous activities like hang gliding or less dangerous but too strenuous for me hobbies like water-skiing or crossing the street without looking both ways.  I won’t even watch Fear Factor.  Sushi is my favorite food, but I don’t go for the uni or the other more challenging menu items.

So, I am taking this course called, “Stunt Writing,” and the idea is to explore something unfamiliar or outside your comfort zone and write about it.  I like the quote of Eleanor Roosevelt the instructor shared, “Every day I do something I am scared of.”  But the assignment was not as scary as it appeared at first.  The instructor, Erin Jourdan, a graduate of San Francisco State‘s MFA program, shared that her stunt was visiting a shooting gallery, and she even took along a skillful, experienced marksman for support and assistance.  So, it wasn’t going to be so bad; I wasn’t going to have to eat something horrible or go parachute jumping.  Some chose as their stunt reconnecting with old friends, visiting religious services they were unfamiliar with or examining a painful time in their past in hope of discovering healing and closure.  It was a lot less “stunt-like,” than I imagined.  When I think of a stuntman/woman, I can see someone jumping off a cliff or diving into shark infested water.  Soaring off creativity cliffs or diving into waters of shark-infested ideas is more my idea of risk-taking.

One thing I’ve learned is that if I believe I have received some sort of inspiration for a wildly creative original idea, someone has already thought of it first.  Look, with more than seven billion people on this earth, its bound to happen.  I remember how difficult it was to try to find a name for my husband’s former business.  Every available clever, unique, yet applicable name was already spoken for.  And that was 25 years ago.  I was trying to help my son and his potential business partner with the same, and days of brainstorming could not yield anything both unique and attention-getting.  So finally it happened.  I thought of ZynByn (pronounced Zine-Bine.)  Since so many domain names are already either in use or squatted on in hopes of a sale, many well-known company names are made up, such as Google and Zemanta.  But ZynByn is a sort of typically slurred, fast speaking pronunciation of the Israeli slang phrase, “zayin b’ayin.”  Literally, a zayin is a weapon, but colloquially it refers to the male organ.  You can see how this understanding might have come about 🙂it is not profanity, but something akin to the English slang, “your equipment.”   “Ayin,” means eye.  So the phrase could be translated, “a penis in your eye,” which might be spoken when your boss or your mom tells you to do something and is a shorter replacement for, “and you and what army are going to make me do that?” Israelis with their anti-hierarchy cultural bent apparently do not evidence a great deal of respect for either bosses or moms.  I was so excited that I emailed darling son my thoughts immediately, expecting a happy and grateful response.  But it was not to be.  “Mooom, why do you always have to think of something cutesy and humorous?”  Then his erstwhile business partner picked something that was rather boring and number one son was okay with that.  At least he didn’t tell me, “zayin b’ayin.”

However, I googled, “stunt thinking,” and it doesn’t exist.  Yeah!  “A year of writing dangerously,” (book title) and, “A year of thinking dangerously,” (blog title) are both out there.  “Stunt-Blogger/ing is also nothing new.  I heard of an interesting contest among wine-bloggers, an interest of mine, where one blogger would pick a theme, and entrants would write on that theme as it relates to wine, even peripherally.  Following voting, the winner would pick the theme for next month’s contest.   Wouldn’t it be fun to have a contest where entrants randomly get assigned to write a post for another entrant’s blog, sort of like picking a topic out of a hat?  Maybe that’s already been done too?

So, how about, “Think Without Fear?”  Perhaps, “A Day of Fearless Thinking?”  Someone already did that.  But we can do it too; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  In googling, “Thinking Fearlessly,” I came up with this interesting post:  http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2010/02/20/thinking-fearlessly/

Okay, so what is your most outrageous thought?  What thoughts would you explore if you had nothing to fear?

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A Page of The Asperger’s Chronicles

I Think I Love You

I Think I Love You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This essay was written for my Behavioral Economics Class.  It was supposed to be 500-800 words.  That is really difficult and a challenge to write a bunch of stuff and then have to delete it down to the bare bones.  They give you a break and allow 880 words; but if you go over, you cannot save and submit your essay.  Makes sense, as the graders don’t want to receive tomes.  But (don’t tell anyone) I sort of cheated.  A couple times I used dashes and other ways to link words together without a space and so stay under the minimum.  Where there’s a will and a bit of chutzpah; there’s always a way.

Intro:  I understand this assignment is supposed to be a structured essay with citations.  There was a time when I did this well, but it has been thirty years since college. So, if my style of conversational tone and humorous outlook bleed too much and deviate from the parameters – oh well.  Now that I am old, I can wear purple and do just about anything else I want.

I am the mother of an 18-year-old with Asperger’s.  Joshua * is a high school senior headed to University in the fall.  That teens are stubborn is common knowledge and one hardly needs a research study for documentation. Teens with Asperger’s are all the more stubborn due to their difficulty adjusting to social environments, awareness of thoughts and feelings of others and sensory difficulties. This is counterproductive, because acquiring social thinking skills and accepting feedback from capable mentors may be the difference between (1) a young adult who completes their education, becomes gainfully employed, lives independently and enjoys relationships (2) a 35-year-old who plays video games all day, still lives at home and whines on social media about how unfair the world is.

So, while an overall goal for my son prior to leaving the safety and support of home is to help him grow into a (1) and avoid the fate of a (2); one current goal is to work on his appearance self-monitoring.  Joshua is meticulous about hygiene in the area of his bodily cleanliness and clothing.  However, he is recalcitrant in regard to shaving regularly and completely, dressing appropriately and keeping his enviable curly, golden brown locks styled or trimmed. Could a new decision=changed default preferences?

There is a history of behavioral techniques that either did not work or would not be feasible long-term.  Hence the meme, “If you know one kid with Asperger’s, you know one kid with Asperger’s.”  Predictably, a lot of trial and error; hit or miss is involved.

Once the family was preparing to go out to dinner for my husband’s birthday.  Dad asked Joshua to shave and change his appropriate-for-lounging-around-the-house-but-not-for dinner-at-a-nice-restaurant clothing (even in casual Southern California.)  “Why does it matter?  I’m not hurting anyone,” Joshua insisted.  Dad explained that if Joshua failed to comply, he could stay home.  That seemed rather harsh, but Roland* has never been the disciplinarian, and when I got in the car, Joshua was triumphantly there too; ratty shirt, loose sweatpants, unshaven.  Josh knows his dad makes threats and rarely follows through.

Details about the facial hair:  A nice, well-maintained beard or even the two-day growth look which the Millennials consider sexy wouldn’t be problematic.  However, Joshua sported a patchy mess plus thick sideburns that haven’t been in style since I was in high school.

Research demonstrates that a teen is more likely to listen to a friend if they tune out family suggestions. So, I enlisted his best pal Will* to apply peer pressure.  “Dude, those sideburns went out in the 70’s.  This isn’t the Partridge Family.”  This was to no avail.

The next day I was shocked to see Joshua in the bathroom, electric razor in hand.  I waited until he was finished as I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of this magical moment.  “You look great!  I love to see your handsome face. I guess you got tired of the face fuzz?  I tried to sound casual.  “No,” Joshua replied.  He pulled some bills out of his pocket.  “Dad gave me $50.”  Perhaps this is stretching the parameters of Dan’s research a bit, but we know that when you pay someone for something that they would (or should) do for free, you have to pay them adequately.  But Joshua’s dad wasn’t thinking about the long-term implications of his incentive (read bribe.)  Once a financial reward or penalty is employed, withdrawing it can lead to a worse situation (daycare example).  Totaling the pain of paying, Josh needed to shave twice a week, which would add up to $100 per week, with a yearly expenditure of almost $5,000.00  At that rate, we could either afford to pay our son’s University tuition or keep him cleanly shaven.

Ready to tear my own hair out in frustration, a flash of insight appeared.  A few days ago I picked up Joshua wearing a hastily donned knit top from one of my thinner incarnations.  Currently, I am over fifty, carrying at least twenty-five extra pounds; and that is being generous.  Although hidden from sight, except for my son once he entered the car, Joshua expressed his displeasure, repeatedly with disgust,  at how unattractive my extraneous matter appeared over tight-not-so-skinny jeans, and evidenced discomfort with proximity, insisting upon a change when we arrived home, and that I agree to not subject him to such offensive exposure again.

I propose an experiment; a contractual arrangement.  Mom will cover the muffin top as long as Joshua achieves/maintains a presentable appearance according to negotiated standards.  However, if Joshua fails to comply with the grooming code, mom won’t either.  Instead of picking Josh up at the train, mom will meet him outside his last class.  No need to purchase materials for this research project; I have a closet full of size eights to stretch over my fourteen frame.

 

 

Ariely, D. & Norton, M. I. (2008). How actions create—not just reveal—preferences. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(1). (Working paper version.)

Recognition of faux pas by normally developing children and children with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism

S Baron-Cohen, (Essayist’s note: the first author is comedian Sasha Baron-Cohen’s first cousin, and an adult with Aspergers.) M O’Riordan, V Stone, R Jones… – Journal of autism and …, 1999 – Springer

“Growing up on the Spectrum,”  By Lynn Kern Koegel, Claire Scovell LaZebnik (Feb 23, 2010), p. 162

Parenting a Teen or Young Adult with Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder): 325 Ideas, Insights, Tips and… by Brenda Boyd (Oct 21, 2013)

The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum by Jane Thierfeld Brown, EdD, Lorraine Wolf and Ph.D. (Jan 10, 2012)

Thinking About You, Thinking About Me by Michelle Garcia Winner (Sep 2007)

Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Young Adults by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke (Mar 1, 2011)

Social Fortune or Social Fate by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pam Crooke (2011)

https://www.socialthinking.com/‎ Michelle Garcia Winner.

Warning – by Jenny Joseph. When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

A VISIT WITH MY MAINLINE COUSINS

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8/30/05

 

The year was 2002. The month was December. You may ask yourself, “Why is this so important?”

I assume that you, like myself, count the days, hours and minutes until Christmas vacation arrives. And why was this vacation different from all other vacations? The reason this vacation was significant is that winter, my parents decided I should visit my relatives. However, instead of going to see my grandmother in Florida and getting to go to Cape Canaveral and Disney World, or visiting my Uncle Prescott, who would take me to midnight movies; my parents, with a little pressure from my grandmother, sent me to my cousin Lila’s sweet sixteen party in Philadelphia.

You see, my cousins Lila and Elizabeth live in that blueblood bastion called the Philadelphia Mainline. My East Coast family are so far off from anything I can relate to, the only thing we have in common is our last name. My cousins come from a family that is very upper-class, very preppy and polite and very, very well-behaved. If social climbing were an Olympic sport, they would win the gold medal. They don’t keep up with the Joneses, they leave them in the dust. And they would be really upset if this ever got out, so keep this under wraps, ok?

I bet my Mainline cousins have never had their mom raid their piggy bank for gas money, never had their credit cards maxed out, never had their cable TV turned off because the bill wasn’t paid and never had to bring their own snacks into a movie theater.

They don’t sit on the furniture, they use the correct forks. They live in a world of country clubs and seventy thousand-dollar home equity loan sweet sixteen parties at the botanical gardens; a world of trophy wives and plastic surgery beauty. They are “nice.” They are boring.

On the other hand, I come from a middle-class, decently spoiled, rude and obnoxious family. So, a culture clash was inevitable, even though my grandmother did her best to spiff up the (relatively) poor West-Coast cousins so they would fit in. Grandma took us to a kid’s designer clothing shop. Aunt Nadine wondered why my mom had neglected to send us properly attired. I assume Aunt Nadine has never had her credit card declined. A designer winter wardrobe for two California kids was not exactly one of our spending priorities.

The owner served us attentively, as the Mainliner relatives were good paying customers. They picked out matching suits and shoes for my brother and me. At Uncle Roland’s suggestion, grandma took us to Pierre’s Styling Salon and Uncle Roland put in a call to make sure Pierre took care of us himself. I think he did my dad too. Pierre had us put on the suit jackets to make sure our haircuts fit with the line of the collar. This wasn’t Supercuts.

With a look of disgust, Uncle Roland took my dad’s off-the-rack suit to get it pressed. According to my dad, his brother and sister-in-law didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of “350 of their closest friends.”

My brother’s shoes were too small, but the store owner said they fit fine since he didn’t have a bigger size and grandma wanted us to match. My brother cried all the way over to the party that the shoes hurt, and he promptly ditched them under the table once we got there.

It was hot and stuffy at the party, and the perfume and cigarette smoke gave me a headache, so I went outside without any jacket. I had never played in real snow before, so I had a blast. Some of my cousin’s classmates from her Ivy-feeder prep school (by the way, Cousin Lila was valedictorian and has been accepted to Harvard) told me I was crazy. Do you think I cared?

Later, my dad took us to see the Liberty Bell and we heard a gang shooting. That was pretty exciting. But, I am never going back. Would you?

About chaya1957

Claire is a fifty-something pseudo-intellectual San Diegan writing whatever magically appears on her keyboard because she is now old enough to do stuff like this.

Old Poem I Dug Up – Imagine Poetry about the Rational World vs. the Irrational World?

I don't feel comfortable in
 a world of irrationality;
 it feels unsafe as it is 
too chaotic for my tastes. 
 But a world of only rationality 
lacks color, warmth 
and meaning;
 it is hard, unyielding
 and resistantly cold. 
 A cold that cannot be 
warmed.  
 
Perhaps surety and 
appointed sages are
 a safety net
 for some in the
 world beyond the natural senses,
 and for many, 
it is a short tether 
 to the mother ship.  
 
I don't want to snap the tether and
 go hurtling out into the depths of space, 
but I would like to extend the tether
 and venture out without fear. 
 In him we 
live and move and have our being, 
but perhaps we fail to live to the extent
 we can and 
our movement is limited and 
our being is diminished. 

 Maybe I don't even need 
 the protection of the space suit,
 for the unexplored 
 is a realm 
where I was designed 
 to dwell and I just need 
to learn how to breathe 
in this I know 
divine protection for the core of 
myself that is beyond, 
and if it is dangerous
 to my flesh, so be it.
  When my flesh is gone, 
I will not die;
 I will be more alive. 
Now I am becoming,
What I will be.
All my days,
Before they emerged.

Time and space
Constrain my body
Still I can touch
Eternity in my heart.

Revenge of the Jezzie

We didn’t intend to be gone so long, as either I would be admitted and T would go back to the house and take care of Jez, or I would be treated quickly and return home.

Actually none of the above happened. My neighbor picked me up around 3 pm, and after we got everything packed up, Jez went into her crate with food, water, treats, and toys. I couldn’t even leave, “calm the doggie while you are away” music from YouTube as I wanted to take my laptop. Yes, I have low-level technology somewhere in the closet but didn’t feel like hunting for it. I hope she won’t be too sad, but at least she will be safe, along with a lot of other things.

And let’s just say she seemed rather traumatized when we returned around 11 pm and didn’t as usual, jump out of her crate and on me and try to get into something new and interesting, but sat there looking rather dazed, like she was saying, “What the #$#%#$ did I do to merit 8 hours in prison. I couldn’t have done anything that bad. Mom abandoned me and now she is back with that neighbor I don’t like. You know why I don’t like her? Don’t think I didn’t hear her call me, “ugly cute,” and it is very rude to comment on the appearance of even a lowly non-Sapien in their presence, and then she had the audacity to diss my puggy-whatever mix people by saying I looked like I was an alien, although I might accept it as a compliment that the kid who came home from university said I looked like Dobie the House Elf from Harry Potter, as I acknowledge a bit of resemblance, but it doesn’t apply to the personality of that sniveling submissive to humans thing.

So, while driving down the 15: “Claire, do you know how to get to the hospital?”

Me: “I thought you had GPS? I would have looked it up?”

T: “It doesn’t have wifi, you have to have a hotspot”

Me: It didn’t occur to me that T didn’t know how to get there. “I know it is on Genesee.”

T: I know how to get to UCSD

Me: Kid said the hospital is less than two miles from the university.

This is low-tech driving. We drive to the university, and T stops a student and asks how to get to the hospital. (Hooray for vintage driving direction methods.) It is a couple turns and we see the signs.

After two previous increasingly traumatic experiences, T parks and picks up a wheelchair from a lined up group. We go in. Immediately I am triaged and then with no wait I am in a comfy room. “Is there anything else I can do to help you,” asks the first of many hunky, young residents?

I am shaking. “I am kind of cold.”

“Here, let’s try this.” He wraps me up in a blanket. Wow, this is a five-star hospital. Dare I look to see if there is a Godiva chocolate under my pillow? After I am warmed up, hunky, young resident helps me change. A nurse comes in and asks permission to draw my blood. Do you mean you are not just going to stab me?

Everything is just done so bang-up top notch here, I will have to go home and write a bang-up review on Yelp. I may not be good at a lot of things, but one thing I can do is write scintillatingly glowing reviews on Yelp, and likewise write devastatingly critical reviews everywhere, and this is with the crust over my eyes from this pinkeye obscuring my vision. There is something to be said about perseverance as a character trait. This is not like those one-star reviews that say, “I only gave this one star because there was no zero star option, no negative =100 star option and they block profanity.”

And for a certain person who for whatever convoluted reason does not seem to respect the requirement of clinical pharmacology for certain subsets of the population (vague enough?) and fails to follow through on reasonable medical advice or even make said appointment, I assume making a public spectacle of satirical mockery of some of our apparently esteemed establishments until one enters these denizens of multiple code violations, without even mentioning codes of sanity and common sense must be evidence of paranoia because they are just doing their jobs (doing their jobs mean the patient leaves alive, at least 87% of the time.)

Such very Ashkenazi Jewish style kvetching about anything and everything is clear and uncontroverted evidence that the described author must be having a steroid psychosis like your mom did in the hospital at the age of 90 and that people are laughing at the stuff you write so you must be in a state of bipolar mania, doesn’t get that little kiddie ditty that when you point a finger at someone else you are pointing three at yourself? You didn’t learn that on the playground? What were YOU doing on the playground; I don’t think I want to know.

Thank you to my caregiver (the great one, not the sheltered workshop candidate who couldn’t even comprehend that when you knock on the door of a person having health problems, you wait a minute, not leave them to arrive at the door and think it must be Amazon but fail to see a package, and then 2 minutes later you hear a knock that must be coming from the garage (when has anyone ever knocked on my garage) and you explain that the door was left unlocked for the very purpose that I may not be able to arrive at such door and left that message with your agency that the door was left unlocked for that very reason and just please come in and don’t make me try to get out of bed and struggle with my walker to the door? You said the door was locked? Well, did the agency ever bother to include in its training program that you turn the handle?

Jez, I’m sorry. I know we should not make fun of people who can’t help their limitations. I have nothing against these brave souls. My beef is with their bosses who should know better than to attempt to pull one over on me, clearly being aware of my needs and their employees’ stringent limitations, and not think they can charge me top dollar (rather than pay me) to train and supervise their employees with, um, special requirements, like hand-holding, constant direction and encouragement and the ultimate in sensitivity to their delicate emotional state. If someone were to expect me to train, supervise, hand-hold and provide emotional support to one of their employees, I would be the one doing the billing, and that is not even my thing so I would refer to someone who would find this line of work more fulfilling and have the skills to accomplish. I know you are aware I am not some kind of stupid, but you might think I would be too polite and compassionate to complain. I rarely do polite, but can at times do compassionate, but not at $24 an hour. Do you think I am joking? The minute she finally manages to get in the house, she makes a bee-line for my bathroom.

Nobody uses my bathroom. My bathroom must be left open like a fire lane, with dire consequences for blockage, and often it isn’t exactly guest friendly. Okay, at times Jez sneaks in to unravel the tp or try to find and chew shampoo bottles that I might have forgotten I now have to only put on the upper shelf, and now our lower-shelf is non-functional, unless you want every item covered with teeth marks, if indeed it doesn’t get absconded away for dining at a nicer location; my bed. I tell her to use the other bathroom, and she asks me how to flush the toilet? Yes, the handle is a bit busted until we can find the time to replace it, but tape and a rubber band on a toilet handle doesn’t alter the method of use. In addition, I would rather she not even bother to flush the toilet, which some more competent person could easily do, in fact, I have seen dogs trained to flush, so that may be Jezzie’s next training goal.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am massively supportive of providing employment opportunities for persons with limitations and disabilities. I read about a restaurant in Jerusalem run entirely by a staff of persons with Down Syndrome. They are so genuinely proud of their products and joyful in serving customers that customers leave them humongous tips, and would never dream of complaining, but joyfully welcome every wrong order, mix up and slightly imperfect entree. But this is a restaurant where customers know what they are getting.

Dinner is one thing and one doesn’t risk life and limb even by having a bad meal, but you wouldn’t send these enthusiastic employees to the house of a seriously ill person with the understanding they would provide high-level professional care that the customer is paying for. And she didn’t even exhibit the personable qualities of these waiters, cooks, and hosts/hostesses with Downs. She came in looking like a frightened toddler that had lost her mother in the Walmart, or a scared rabbit that got separated from the pack in the county park, and was quite nasty and sullen when I perceived she couldn’t understand me and asked what language she spoke. “English,” she said with an extremely nasty snarl at my lack of political correctness to dare to ask such a question as she didn’t appear to comprehend simple instructions in the language.

The next thing she did was ask where to put her food. It was an endless list of questions, and I should have just called to agency to come remove her right away, but I had this fixation that I had to get to a professionally run medical establishment today for both my physical and mental health, and had some deluded idea that she could at least drive and arrive at our destination safely. Thank you, Ter, for offering to take me, when all I did was ask if you could make sure puppy survives if I was admitted. That still would have been a disaster, as I doubt she could have completed the basic tasks of driving 30 miles, parking the car at the hospital, finding a wheelchair for me and getting me inside without a 2-year course of instruction that my critical situation lacked the time to provide. You may have heard jokes about people who can’t find their tuches with both hands and a compass? Well, I know a number who we could add to that list continually and detailed instruction and correction. Don’t they have an app for that yet? As you may have noted, patience isn’t my virtue.

You know that your reward for such kindness is hubby is buying you a new laptop since your old one went phooey. Oh, he doesn’t know it, at least not yet. He never reads my stuff on FB although he has said, “Send it to me,” just to shut me up when I have sought to share something I found brilliant and humorous which of course I think so because I wrote it.

Now Jez, hubby thinks the reason mom is a bit more high strung than usual is that she has been off her meds, her legal CA medical cannabis meds that is. Well, given my respiratory problems with asthma due to cold from hell were sufficient to put me on that nasty Prednisone, I don’t think vaping would be okay; I never smoke. While not eating, I don’t think even the tiniest bit of medical cannabis chocolate bar – and they make them really good you can’t even taste it if you buy the high-end stuff and we always buy high-end weed, what kind of family do you think we are, low class? So he wanted me to call our local delivery guy and purchase something that I could use given all my conditions, like a liquid or gummy edible. The local guys who deliver weed like pizza, with the only difference is that their minimum is usually around $60, so hubby would need to bring me $60 in cash, which he was happy to do, so happy, or so eager to keep me comatose that he brought back $200 in cash and presented it to me, strongly pressuring me, “When are you going to call the weed guy, I suggest you do it now.”

But I thought the better of it, as with all my ailments and meds, I don’t need to take a chance on creating more problems than I have, especially with any interactions with that nasty but life-saving drug Prednisone, that the doc at UCSD insisted I stop tapering and remain at 20 mg at least until my specialist appointment on Tue. In addition, I think all I need to validate Mr. Inconsistent’s narrative that I am the crazy one is for me to have some nasty interaction, and then he has proof; mommy is not only crazy, she is a substance abuser, albeit one legal in progressive CA. So I gave Ter the $200 to care for the dog, and said she gets to keep it even though I wasn’t admitted to the hospital. Buy yourself a new laptop, and she said she would like one like mine, and we will keep it between us where the $$$ came from.

I asked, “So, how am I going to deal with this insomnia?” I asked the shortish but CA surfer cute doc that was likely in his mid-thirties, and of course, quite buff. I don’t know if the US Dept. of Labor is aware that the tony community of La Jolla has a secret, “gentlemen’s agreement,” (you really ought to look up that other nasty scandal if you have time) which requires all hires to be a 9/10 in appearance. This has been repeatedly supported via longitudinal studies and has been published in respected journals.

He told me he would write me a prescription for a controlled substance, really a pain in the tuches as I learned from the nurse all the stringencies required for those meds. They cannot phone it in so it is ready, you have to take the prescription in yourself. And she didn’t think I could send my caregiver in to pick it up for me, although I recall hubby was able to pick up my Schedule whatever meds when I was released from the hospital.   It turned out my caregiver was able to pick everything up for me.

“Can I get it here?” I was told no, the hospital pharmacy was not open on Sunday. That is because the state religion is beach volleyball and frisbee, and it is the dominant local sect that one disses at one’s peril.

He was also going to provide me with a prescription for the nasty Prednisone as I wouldn’t have enough if I stop tapering, but 20 appears easier on the body than the 40 that royally snafued and balaganed (know this is not the correct Hebrew verb form) it.

I was told that my wonderful caregiver who could only spend 4 wonderful hours with me because she already had plans with her husband, and sadly wasn’t available the day they sent the walking disaster instead (she could walk, I will give that to her, which is more than I can do at times) was their, “rock-star.” I suspect by, “rock-star,” you mean that she is perhaps your ONLY employee that is both competent, self-motivated, has excellent interpersonal skills and is genuinely a fun person to be around, for me at least. No, it is not just a matter of a good fit. A good employee is a good fit no matter what, and it is the person being paid that becomes the fit, not the paying customer. Maybe they don’t teach this in business school, but I would think it common knowledge.

And it is a crime that you likely pay someone like this minimum wage, so you can profit off her extraordinary skills (hey, if she is your, “rock-star,” how about you pay her like one?)) My parents pay their part-time caregiver for my mother with Alzheimer’s $15 an hour, which is the going rate in the DC/Metro area, and I suspect about the same here, but CA tends to be a bit more.

See, I have already offered rock star my one digit size clothes which I doubt I will ever get into despite the fact that I haven’t eaten for more than a month and have lost 25 pounds. No please, do not try this diet plan at home. I have this closet full of stuff I haven’t worn in ages because I have been too lazy, even when well, and it hurts me to give away some really nice stuff, including business attire which I will never wear again as I plan to never work in that environment again. I will only work in an environment where I don’t need to even get dressed or brush my teeth until I feel like it, and can lounge around in comfy gowns.

Not only that, when I feel better and can eat I will take her out for sushi. There really is a connection to find a Mexican who doesn’t really like Mexican food because she likes healthy food. Well, guacamole is pretty good, and some of the fish dishes. I know my kid likes Mexican food, even after choking on a burrito led to a quick trip to the ER – the same one I went to. I shudder at what might have transpired had darling son gone to zero stars third-world shithole hospital ER. I am so proud of my courageous son, who informed me he ate his first post-endoscopy aided digested burrito.

Sorry, forgot, rock star finds sushi disgusting. Okay, there is a place called, “Pita Guys,” nearby that serves this excellent, inexpensive fresh and healthy Mideastern themed fare. My husband loves the place, their sport tv thing, and the staff, even though we are Jewish and they are Arab terrorists. One thing I admire about crazy husband is he has this ability to get along with anyone, which I sorely lack. And he doesn’t like me to call them, “Arab terrorists,” because they are assimilated Americans. But some brilliant idiots are not aware that the little necklace they wear around their necks is not a demonstration of a history lesson, it means we want to drive every Jew in their Palestine into the sea because poor and starving fish deserve their dinner just like everyone else.

I doubt they know that both mom and older son are ardent advocates for Zionism, and we don’t mean those nutcases going around doing violent stuff, and they do it to us too. They don’t know that (umm, I may get in trouble for this, because my kids have informed me that I may write about stuff they did when they were kids, but not current stuff) but I think this is pretty common knowledge, so need to know applies here.

My older son was in serious negotiations to enter the IDF and he wanted to join an elite unit after graduating university. If he spoke Hebrew, and the lazy little twerp refused to learn, even basic stuff, he would have been an officer and m’faked. See, the word in Hebrew for commander is m’faked. I bet English-speaking recruits recognize what that sounds like. What a great language Hebrew is, that you get to call your military commander a F@@@head! But lazy kid told me everyone speaks English, and during his two months in Israel following Birthright, he learned only two Hebrew phrases, “Ma shlomcha,” which means, “How are you,” or literally, “how is your peace,” and, “ben zonah,” and the latter term is found in the bible describing Rahab’s profession with the phrase translated as, “son of a whore,” and is heard commonly in the streets, which is probably how my son picked up these two phrases that one might commonly find heard equally and often one following the other.

I even asked my parent’s assistant rabbi, who I have had numerous wonderful dealings with if he would write a letter saying my son is Jewish on synagogue letterhead, despite the fact that he has never met my son, who could be a Hari Krishna for all he knew. Rabbi Safra graciously agreed, saying he had done this many times. The rabbis at my son’s university refused, directing him to find an Orthodox rabbi in San Diego, but we don’t know any. I knew a few nice guys online, but that doesn’t exactly fit the bill, for me to ask them, no matter how good FB buds we are, to write a letter on their letterhead claiming my son who they have never met is Jewish because that would require that his mother who they have never met is Jewish.

We don’t even belong to a synagogue, and I might have attended High Holiday Services at the local Chabad, not because I am into their culture and halacha, but because the rabbi and his wife are so nice and his wife is an incredible cook and their kids are so sweet and smart, even if they pull the succot lights requiring the services of the friendly neighborhood Shabbos goy lest we spend the rest of the dinner in darkness. I tactfully explained that I have an extreme anxiety disorder, due to my UC, of finding myself in a packed environment where there is any chance of a bathroom line. He noted he understood and didn’t ask any further questions.

However, the fact that we have little formal connection to the San Diego Jewish community, I am very active online, and hubby faithfully davens every Shabbat at Beth Golf or with the doctors from work, including lots of Jewish ones, so I think that might be something akin to synagogue membership.

Back to the IDF. (I am sooo going to get in trouble with this, with demands that mom delete it right now. Freedom of speech son, includes the rights of moms to write about the shit their kids do and say at any age, although you know I, just out of courtesy, omit issues of sex, drugs and accidentally allowing your cell phone and cash to fall out of your pocket in a taxi and then said taxi driver you hunt down acts like he doesn’t recognize you, and I will take your word that you only had two beers when this occurred.

Darling son had the brilliant idea of finding a doctor near his university who had no access to his medical records and thus wouldn’t be aware of his Rheumatoid Arthritis to do a physical because this is mild for him and I doubt a typical physical would discover this. How did I manage to raise such a brilliant son that didn’t imagine that week one of Basic Training, when he is on a 25-mile hike carrying a 50-pound pack, he and everyone else wouldn’t notice something out of the ordinary? “I can get in shape,” doesn’t cut it I think, even if that means those hard two workouts at the gym daily. IDF training is probably the toughest in the world, and it doesn’t consist of working out at some swanky gym with a juice bar.

Although new IDF recruits sign a document that recognizes that false information on the intake form is criminal, fibs about physical stuff might just get the person kicked out, or transfer to a jobnik unit, which means one’s tasks are limited to packing parachutes or driving some local macher around town.

But here is where you can get into a real balagan. Lying about psychiatric illness can create a risk of prison, but perhaps for political reasons, I doubt it often happens to Americans. See, I know things have changed a bit, but stigma and practices regarding mental health issues and even garden-variety neurosis and relationship issues are recognized differently in the two societies. In Israel, seeing a therapist, a psychologist or God forbid a psychiatrist is viewed as a person being potentially a danger with a gun and uniform. In that culture, rabbis hold to that role and it doesn’t preempt you from military service, or your bartender, with equal results.

I wonder if Israelis get that in the US, probably at least half, and potentially more Americans who have decent health coverage will see some sort of mental health professional at some time in their lives. In many cases, the reason is not mental illness of the serious variety, but because they desire a paid for friend they see weekly to help de-stress, find support, validation, and encouragement, (often for their own bullshit narrative, relationship advice where your treating professional will agree how horrible your spouse/kids/parents/siblings, friends/coworkers/bosses/plumbers treat you, and of course it is all their fault and not yours. They will spin to your pleasure and the only way to get this paid by for by insurance, this 50 minutes of verbal prostitution service is to make it fit into some DSM code, vague stuff like anxiety, depression, maladjustment – everyone is anxious, depressed, maladjusted or has some personality trait that could be spun as pathological, so why not just dump that large book, it takes up too much space?

Getting back to eating establishments with subtle expressions of support for registered terrorist groups, I wonder if they are unaware, or at least pretend to be unaware, that my ardent Zionist son’s car has several pro-Israel bumper stickers on it. Once I was driving his car to one of their other establishments, and bought a large amount of food to take home for the family. When the polite partner – it is a family owned business, offered to help me carry all this stuff to the car, I had to say no although I really wanted to say yes, due to the bumper stickers that once got my son’s car keyed and tire slit. That was actually dangerous, as his tire blew just as he was about to turn out of his campus lot onto a busy street and could have led to an accident. The community college said they would charge this as a hate crime if the culprit was discovered, likely impossible because there are no cameras in student lots as students don’t count for shit, unlike staff lots that are well lighted and camera-ed.

I figured the culprit must be Palestinian or someone who knows Hebrew, as while there is a Star of David and a small Israeli insignia, the bumper sticker is written in Hebrew, and says, “Kol hakavod L’ Tzehal,” or something like, “Way to go (high five) Israeli military.” “Kavod,” literally means, “glory.”

Now, I got rid of my own car because it would cost more to meet smog than it is worth, plus the air conditioning was busted and would cost $500 to fix for hot CA summers. So I sadly (not really) parted with a very old car that still ran well for $1500 from a government program to get old cars off the road and am currently driving dear son’s college crappy but running car with the offensive to some bumper stickers. I should threaten to sell such car if the kid does not return to at least pay mom a visit and wanted to buy a more adult car, like a Nissan, Toyota, Kia, all at least mid-price and preferably used higher end model. I loved my gas guzzling Avalon that I bought at a great deal for like 10K a long time ago and it was stolen when our house was robbed around 2007.

So, rather than buy a car of equal value with the insurance money which was more than I paid for it, my wonderful neighbor Teresa who is so talented at this sort of stuff saw the old Nissan for like 4K in the neighborhood, but it was all freeway miles by a stewardess for American Airlines who drove it regularly to LA. Tell you a secret, well a sort of open one: I used the balance of the money, plus more milked from my dad to have an abdominoplasty, not covered by insurance, along with an incisional hernia repair which was covered by insurance that went all the way back to my C-section when my second son was born. This was more than cosmetic, as who wants to have their belly hanging down despite all the exercise and diet in the world due to muscle separation from two pregnancies where I sort of gained too much weight, 38 pounds with first and 40 pounds with second, and much of that never came off, at least the second time around, no matter what they tell you.

In addition, if you are from an upper-middle class background, you are as likely to have some form of insurance paid mental health care regularly that is really an opportunity to have someone agree enthusiastically with your views on the biggies of politics, sex, religion and that his kids are ingrates as you are to pick up coffee at the Starbucks drive-thru.

Once I had a psychologist suggest that I not use such hot-button terms like, “crazy,” or even the more medical or scientific term, “irrational,” when referring to our nearest and dearest that clearly exhibit such traits. What, pray tell, did the brilliant doctor think I should use in place of these terms. “Inconsistent,” he said. That is rather weak and innocuous sounding. But I guess it can accurately describe a person who is inconsistent in getting their head out of their tuches, at least enough to consider the needs and requirements of others, so inconsistent with telling the truth that one must make the assumption that everything is a lie and then be pleasantly surprised to discover one or two truths, and completely inconsistent in dependability that what one said yesterday holds true today, because they no longer feel it.

I am so good at rabbit /rabbi trails, so back to the rock star. Yes, you know she is a JW and believes honesty and integrity is critical, not like my Chicago Jewish big macher doctor boss and all-around great guy who left us too soon, who told the agency he got me from after two weeks that he no longer required my services, and then promptly hired me for double what those shitheads were paying me. To me, that is an example of integrity, which includes putting the needs of poor, debt-ridden recent college graduates above the legal maneuvers of corporate slaveholders.

Now the rock-star, and I hope she doesn’t mind me speaking of her on my page, I think was somewhat reticent about letting me know she was a JW. When I asked if she could (please, please, please) come on Sunday, she explained she was going to church. “What church,” I asked, out of curiosity, not to pry. She told me rather circumspectly that she attended a church in Oceanside. When I queried, “What church,” she noted quietly that she was a JW.

I really don’t care what religious beliefs or non-beliefs a person has, I only care about their integrity and character; how they behave. Well, that might be as long as none of her friends show up knocking at my door, especially if I am sleeping. We discussed what I am well aware of regarding JW’s which few other brands of Christians and some idiot Ortho Jews appeared to be unaware of when they crashed a JW convention in Israel because some other jerk rabbi spread a false rumor that the convention planned to publicly baptize hundreds of Jews, leading to a near-riot, that the JW’s were the only religious group as an organization to refuse to capitulate to the Nazis and many died in concentration camps along with my people.

I don’t agree with much of their stuff, but I believe what they have right is the concept that patriotism and nationalism is akin to idolatry, and we are not referring to active and good citizenship. I am talking flag waving, we are better than others, we are the greatest country in the world bullshit, and we can bomb the you know what out of anyone who doesn’t agree. Greatest? Greatest at what? The dumbest math students with the highest esteem regarding their math abilities? The largest percentage of citizens incarcerated in the free world?

I bet most in other major denominations (I know you don’t consider JW’s Christians, but this is not my battle, not my circus not my monkeys,” are blissfully unaware that their great Nazi era sages Bonhoeffer, Niemoller and Barth supported the Nuremberg Laws. In case some of you need a history lesson, these laws prohibited Jews from the professions and fired any so employed, forbid Christians from frequenting Jewish establishments, marrying or cohabiting with Jews and demanded churches turn over any evidence of Jewish background found in their marriage and church membership rolls. Bonhoeffer begged to differ that the only item he would excise from the plan would be interactions between Christians and Jews for the purpose of sharing the love of Jesus like they did such a good job at that? It did take major US Lutheran bodies until the 1980’s to apologize for and denounce their Martin Luther’s famous violently antisemitic tome often used as fodder for Nazi propaganda, “The Jews and Their Lies.”

Look it up sometime. Funny you don’t find that info in any books written by any of their pundits, and I doubt this is taught in any religious seminary (I don’t mean academic religious seminaries.)

Excuse the interruption. When I am writing something, I would rather not interrupt the flow of ideas. But Jez had a flow of something else and the smell was overpowering. Now, while offenses like pottying in inappropriate places that can be easily cleaned up, like tile or floor, are against house rules but mostly ignored like a bad parking job, pottying on mommy’s carpet is a crateable offense, especially as she then had the audacity, to not bother to clean up after herself (okay my kids to this too) but proceeded to go from bad to worse and commence to return to that old substance abuse habit of hers – power cords. Okay, it is only 7:30, but early nap time it is.

I decided I would try to save my life and preserve my sanity by using the money I had saved to buy a nicer, more age appropriate car, as I am too sick to drive now anyway. Thanks Teresa for finding that used Lexis for 10K and you know I could bargain them down, or I would leave that to Ter, who is the most Jewishly talented, in that area, for a first-generation Italian American I know. And Italians, especially my friend who is Sicilian, are often more effective at negotiation than Jews because Jews will be lawyered up and file lawsuits, but Sicilians will make such expensive and time-consuming activities unnecessary. I recall Ter was at my home and chopping onions or something with a very sharp knife, and one guy sitting at my table dared to disagree with one of her opinions about, I don’t recall, I just remember how she held the knife, and sternly warned him, “You don’t disagree with a Sicilian holding a sharp knife,” as the better part of common sense.

I’m tired, so will finish the rest of the post tomorrow. But this experience helped me ponder a deep philosophical question: Between being carried on a stretcher by hot, young fireman or helped to undress and dress by hunky, young residents, after much deliberation, I think I’ll go with the residents, because as an elitist, I prefer spoiled, entitled brainiacs, they possess so much more of a cheerful disposition, and we can discuss something besides the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction, of which I am barely aware (pun intended) and sports, which, sorry, I am not only not aware who won, I am not even interested in who is playing. I am a sensitive soul who actually finds the hooting and hollering one experiences at games deeply unpleasant.

I wonder if I will join the ranks of the super-straight in high school and college, who turn into wild old ladies…….Already had the purple hair. But those wonderful highlights that got me so many compliments, especially from young people who saw me as the cool mom, made my hair break horribly, so until a more feasible solution is discovered I am back to brown, and this is when I am well enough to get to the hairdresser, as I failed to be well enough to make my pre-holiday one.

Sorry I got off-track. Wait for the continuing story of Jez, and how after my friend left, she managed to knock me over along with my walker, and while I was considering how to manage to get myself up with no one to help, and I am aware some persons with disabilities have service dogs that help them up rather than knock them down, and wouldn’t dream of sticking their little noses in your fresh, hot chicken broth and imported Japanese green tea. Think about that you little monster.

Don’t think I didn’t notice my glasses out of my purse where I always keep them (from YOU) as thanks to Wanita Panza for warning me about her doodles that have chewed up three pairs of expensive glasses, and did I ever give you permission to friend such bad company on FB and chat at night while you think I am asleep?

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Wanita Panza
Wanita Panza Glad you are home, Jezzie is alive and well and you got a hunky orderly to assist you 🙂

Wanita Panza
Wanita Panza I saw your text last night and breathed a heavy sigh of relief that you got into the UC hospital.

My Brilliant Psycho-Political Insight: crafted with the hope of freeing millions infected by POCD (POTUS Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Apologies to my friends who went to the protest today without my gracious scintillating company, and I understand you created some considerable traffic making it difficult for my helper to arrive here in a timely manner, but we survived, even though Jez pooped in her crate and I was too loopy from the meds they gave me to dare to take her out when she was whining to go at 2 am, and as Jez has never pooped in her crate although she peed a couple times when she was a younger pup, I didn’t think she could stink me out of my own room no matter how much eucalyptus and other random eo’s I frantically applied. But she did.

So, for those of you quaking in your boots at the latest twitter feed by the real guy or one of his many surrogates, please take a deep breath before your natural emotions and the survival skills that are hardwired for the purpose of, duh,” survival, lure you right into the master plan set by He Who Shall Not Be Named, The Abomination that Causes Desolation, the firstborn of the Zombie apocalypse and all around 100% pure schmuck and his bevy of nasty little toady, sociopathic henchmen and kiss-ups.

No, he is not stupid, even though he plays one on tv and whenever that act is beneficial, but not really smart in an academic sense, but he is brilliant at manipulating media and must have an intrinsic understanding of human psychology, what drives people and how to play so skillfully on both desires and fears, which you may have discovered is endemic to your friendly neighborhood sociopath, but this one just has the money, influence, connections, megalomania and all around chutzpah to do oodles of damage, and most of this he will do through us, both those who voted against him, those who voted for him and those lazy irresponsible persons who didn’t bother to even vote.

As an aside, for those enthusiastic fans who mommy dropped you on your head on the concrete as an infant (perhaps deliberately, but I can’t say) or maybe daddy threw you out of the truck because he had a vision of what you might become, in case the Yiddishisms weren’t enough of a clue, (((Claire))). Okay, does that make you feel better? Now you know.

Prior to allowing yourself to be infected by the Zombie virus via his latest tweet, and often if you do just a bit of research or speak with someone knowledgeable in that area, you will discover he is mostly spinning a bunch of bubbe-meises (old grandma’s tales) with just a dollop of truth thrown in, and so why are you succumbing to the latest sky is falling fear and trembling virus, because this distracts you from real issues and hijacks, drains and derails you of the mental and emotional, as well as physical energy you will require to think, organize and act effectively in the days ahead, rather than running around like the firstborn of the undead has a cattle prod up your tuches.

Don’t feel too bad, because this is how humans like us are hardwired, for survival, and when our survival is threatened or appears to be threatened, a switch in the rational part of our brain auto-flips over to manual response to emotion.  Just think about our ancestors living on the African savanah likely wouldn’t have lived long enough to procreate if they sat down and considered the philosophical implications of a dangerous animal, dangerous person and as well friendly persons and food sources. I am sure some academic type evolutionary psychologist, or expert in Behavioral Economics, or Consumer Neuroscience could explain this much better. Briefly, we act, even unconsciously, in ways that will allow us to survive and pass our genes on to our offspring, and care for them until they are able to go and do likewise.

Your neurons, synapses, other organic brain parts, nervous system as well as how all these cooperate effectively or don’t, usually allows fear to hijack your higher functions, such as the ability to think logically and rationally, absorb and scrutinize information, and a host of other things you might want to ask someone with a higher pay grade in the sciences, as I took all the easy classes in that genre in university and while the MOOC is on my list, I haven’t gotten there yet.

You have a built-in radar that scans for danger and threat, as well as an on-board radar that scans for good stuff like food, friends and mating opportunities. That is why so many, following activation of the fear/survival module, especially in those so prone, can lead to things like – well just review a history book.

But just a warning that you can learn from history, humans survived as social creatures due to the ability to cooperate, hold to common stories including imagined and intangible realities, (like money, governments, political boundaries) and intersubjective realities like marriage and employment situations. You can read Yuval Haririi’s books, his older one, “A Brief History of Humankind,” and his new book, “Homo Deus; A Brief History of Tomorrow,” or take his excellent Coursera MOOC if this interests you, and he has lectured on both history and futurism on YouTube.

Some of you may have seen the meme showing Nazi’s marching, with the tagline, “Beware of stupid people in large groups.” But I believe that is a wrong description, as it might have warned us to beware of fearful people in large groups or desperate people in large groups or those seeking to raise their status and sense of self-worth in large groups.

And don’t think there aren’t psycho-sociopathic types and groups rubbing their hands together in glee that the emoting, fleeing hoards will run right into their ever so welcoming corrupt arms, as just what we need is to fuel another brand of extremist, rather than cool heads who might not agree on everything cooperating for the common good instead of not letting a good crisis go to waste because it may be a great opportunity to carve out or enlarge their own little fiefdoms. Shame on you!

This is not my field of expertise, but perhaps you can speak with one of my psychologist friends, whose phones are ringing off the hook with clients and not yet clients seeking appointments for anxiety, fear and trembling related to the prospect of the firstborn of the undead and his lovely trophy wife (but not yet, this might be interesting to see the first presidential blow by blow nasty divorce) occupying the White House, and now that day has arrived.

That is if they have not caught the alien invasion virus themselves. Out of curiosity, I wonder how they are going to bill insurance for these services, although I know my therapeutic friends are quite clever with these things, but as far as I know (and what do I know BTW?) there is no DSM code for Paranoid Tyrant Putin Wannabe Anxiety Disorder, but I am sure you will find something that sticks for reimbursement.

I finally got the brilliant idea to move the crate (it was on wheels but not easy to push across carpet) to my son’s empty room (please don’t tell him, it has been cleaned and refreshed.) I opened my windows and dumped out the rest of the 6 oz bottle of eucalyptus and it was survivable, as I thought I would need to hang out in the living room. As I was not quite awake, it took me until morning to get it through my head that I could remove the puppy from aforementioned stinky crate and put her in her carrying case; These are actually designed for airline travel but work for the vet, especially if they don’t want to go.

Back to the reason people are out in swarms, and quite angry too. I just hope this energy gets channeled into something useful.

For those who have philosophical or religious reasons against voting, and I am not referring to you lazy shits even if the powers that be did set out roadblocks purposefully.

Your roadmap to political involvement, the sane kind hopefully, not an equally hysterical and blindly unthinking response, is a process known in Judaism as Pikuah Nefesh (to save a life.) Okay, I know you may not be Jewish, but hear me out, okay?

According to the teaching of Pikuah Nefesh, and there are people who can explain this to you far better, Pikuah Nefesh enables a person to violate any law, tradition or prohibition both civil and religious for the purpose of saving a life, with the exception of adultery, blasphemy, and murder. A life is precious and one may ( I know this sounds awful) lie, cheat, steal, violate existing chains of command, social structure, familiar loyalties and religious prohibitions and sensibilities of all types, except the aforementioned. If you are an atheist/agnostic but some ingrained morals or cultural ways are binding you, maybe think on this.

Seriously, 5 trips to ER since Jan and I don’t need to be concerned about the latest diarrhea coming out of his mouth. At least mine comes out the preferred end. So, I will leave the future of the free world, our nation, our environment and all the anxiety, speculation and attention all in much more capable hands, yours.

(Think please, about how toddlers know how to pull out all the stops to get attention when they are being denied such.) I recall hearing that hubby had taken my older son, then 2 to a local independent coffee shop called La Costa Coffee Roasting, that roasted its own coffee and the smell was heavenly, not even mentioning the coffee. This coffee shop was filled with all sorts of cute ceramic nic nacks – I think you know where this is going.

As he was prone to do, dad got into a long and interesting conversation with another patron, or was it an employee? I don’t recall, but one thing he was doing was ignoring a 2-year-old who said he was tired and bored and wanted to go home. So, what would any upset, angry and frustrated, likely nap-deprived toddler do to get dad’s elsewhere attention? He grabbed the nearest item, a cute little ceramic spoon, and flung it onto the floor. A piece of said cute little spoon broke off, bounced up and hit a customer in the cheek, giving him a slight cut and fortunately missing his eye.

The customer was immediately attended to by the manager with a first aid kit and sent home with a couple comped pounds of his favorite coffee (I hope he picked the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee @$35 per pound, and yes I know there is top flight stuff that is more than $300 per pound but even though this was an upscale place, it wasn’t THAT upscale. The spoon retailed at $18 and the staff informed dad that they would charge him their wholesale price $9.00 for damages, so he got off cheap. Does any of this seem familiar, I mean, outside of the limited injury, responsibility for damages and quick and easy resolution? Now, the kind staff did not say that my toddler was persona non grata at their business until he graduated college, but I think that message got across.

So, I have some suggestions on how to navigate this present darkness, but it may be unique to me and not work for you. I recently took an excellent online course via YIVO, on the history of Ashkenazi Jews, mostly concerning their lives over centuries in Poland. My family came from Russia, Poland, and Romania, and they didn’t even want to talk about the old country, except perhaps in Yiddish profanities because they wanted to put these things behind them and embrace their new life.

Despite all the insecurity over whether one was going to be alive and successful today or downtrodden or dead tomorrow, via changes in political or religious leadership and attitudes, these people led full, effective lives leaving behind much in the way of art, literature, science and other fine arts, despite what was lost to us, including the cut off generations.

I have Jewish relatives from Iran, although most emigrated due to the Revolutionary Regime, they had thriving, full and successfully happy lives despite living under corrupt dictatorships with much instability.

So, my suggestion, and think of it like a diet, is to limit your exposure to news, and especially the latest fearmongering on social media and otherwise, and limit yourself in regard to discussions of such. You may feel this is therapeutic and helpful, and while I can’t say what might help another person, if you are already having symptoms that are affecting your family, work, and life, you may need to go cold turkey, at least for a while, and cut yourself off. This is especially true of fake or highly biased news sources, even if they are the ones you agree with. A good site for media vetting is, “The Smell Test of Media,” and you can look it up yourself.

To replace these behaviors that are, for most not so well vaccinated and protected, such as professionals in the field, I suggest filling your time with studying something that is meaningful as part of your own religious or philosophical tradition, but if this includes conspiracy theories or the aforementioned fear mongering and use of fake and highly biased media; drop it for your own well-being and avoid contexts in which these things are promoted, especially without allowing counter-information for enlightenment and little things like free speech and free flow of information which can only enlighten us all by shedding light on darkness, things hidden due to taboo or social scorn and shunning for non-conformists.

I suggest reading classic literature in your own area of interest, and listening to audios is something I have discovered works when I am tired. Take advantage of hundreds of excellent free online courses via Coursera, edX, and others. Pursue your favorite hobbies, as Joseph Campbell famously said, “Follow Your Bliss,” that is unless your bliss is something dysfunctional and anything that produces fearmongering. Seek out those things which you find nurturing and comforting within your own religious and philosophical traditions, but if these things are driving you into a dark place, jettison them for your own well-being, and that of those around you.

As you fill your mind with good things, even in the midst of what is apparently bad news, but much may be hype and not as bad as it sounds. Think: If he really had to power to do all these nasty things, like certain banana republics and third-world dictators, he would have done it already and quietly rather than be crowing about it. Don’t you think?

The way I roll is that quality information helps me to manage my anxiety, and when my younger son was diagnosed with autism, I immediately sought out every book, website, parent and professional to fill my knowledge base, with most of it good and some of it not so good.

If this is your bent, I highly recommend the books and lectures of Jonathan Haidt, Yuval Hariri, and I love that line of Dan Ariely, “What is the best lie? It is the one you already want to believe.”

Some oldies but goodies are, “Escape From Freedom,” by Erich Fromm, and, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” by Richard Hofstadter, “The Fundamentalist Mind,” by Stephen Larson, which has been highly recommended although I haven’t read it, I have seen some excellent excerpts, the most notable comment that a mass movement doesn’t require a God/god, but it does require a devil, in other words, it needs an enemy, a boogieman to elicit fear and hatred as well as a need for a powerful leader (the alpha male syndrome) who will provide protection, make everyone obey, (authoritarianism) and provide a place where those deemed of lower status in society with no way out, a road to raise their self-esteem, as they are now part of something big and powerful, and take on that status.

I discovered an intriguing book in my son’s room, which leads me to surmise this was required reading. The book is titled, “All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, by Hubert Dreyfus & Sean Dorrance Kelly. The book has a glowing blurb by David Brooks of the NYT, “A smart, sweeping run through the history of Western philosophy. Important for the controversial advice it offers on how to live.” I just love controversial, don’t you?

This may move to the top spot on my very full reading, Audible and YouTube lists.