Monday, December 28, 2009

Fly No More

Perhaps we won't come home. I cannot imagine standing in the airport for hours and hours to have my body searched, bags checked- no books? I mean... no books??? Hello? I have two six hour flights ahead of me and I'm not to read a book?

OHHHHH, but you can buy one once you are past security. Whatever.

Can I take my medication with me? Should I stash a few in my wallet? Look like some crazed drug addict when in fact, I'm more worried about getting stuck somewhere... Can I bring a toothbrush? I always have a toothbrush in my briefcase just in case. I long ago gave up on toothpaste- too much hassle and most hotels will give you a little tube if you ask.

I'm surprised they aren't having everyone take off their pants and put them through the xray. It would be a boon to the underwear industry- I mean, please... you couldn't get caught with old underwear.

I'm sick of it. It's all stupid. For one, no one is going to get away with something nutty on a plane- I think this was a good case in point. People will DO something now. People DID do something.

Instead, we will change the rules, some businesses will figure out how to make a ton on people's panic, and we will be no more safe than we were before. Why don't we try, I dunno, better foreign relations and an ounce of common sense? Instead, we'll get more guns in airports held by security forces that won't make us more secure.

Once, a long time ago, I loved to fly. It was magical to me. You were served food- even in coach- stewards were polite and lovely, and your friends or family waited for you to arrive at the gate.

No more. Sit still, god forbid you get sick in the bathroom, and soon the seatbelts will lock into place.

And send another few thousand troops to the middle east. That'll do it. That will make us safer.

Maybe we'll just start looking for a nice little house here instead.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I am in Hawaii. It is beyond beautiful. I cannot begin to explain, so I will start taking a lot of photos to show. It is my first time and when Jeanine went for work last year, she said, oh, we have to go.

I know. I live a very blessed life.

Walter, the kids, Jeanine's Mom, are all with us. We rise with the rooster crowing- it's just so funny that there are wild chickens on the island. It's as if this gentle land only has one evil to throw at you... wild chickens.

Um... ok.

We arrived after what felt like the longest day in history- up at 3AM eastern standard time, finally arriving here at 8pm Hawaiian time. Dazed and a little confused, we all stayed up till about 9:30pm, to try and adjust to the time as quickly as possible.

Have I mentioned I don't do well with the lack of sleep?

Yesterday was a day of pool, beach, pool, beach, pool. We ended up in Hanalei, at a little restaurant for dinner- The Dolphin. It was fabulous with fresh fish, sushi, ceviche, and of course, chicken for the Weezie.

By 7pm, though, Jake was falling asleep in his dinner. (This seems to be a pattern for him!) We drove back, and the older boys went down to the pool with Jeanine, Walter and I.

The place was empty, but the ocean waves were great and we were all talking while the boys swam. Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, a wave of nausea went over me. I got sick. I'll never be annoyed with Ben for not making the toilet again, because I didn't. It was the change in time, the sun, the lack of sleep that caught up to me.

I went to the ladies room.

There was an older gentleman attendant cleaning the ladies room. I was in no mood or shape to wait.

He said the all too familiar refrain, "This is the ladies room..."

Now, in better spirits, I would have flashed him the bad girls and let him know I belonged but I was in no mood.

I know where I am, and I belong here and please leave now.

He did, but then poked his head back in, certain I was a man in the ladies room- mind you, there was not another soul at the pool. Did it really matter that much?

I said, LEAVE, thank you. Now.

He did.

This is a beautiful place. My heart is so full with my family here, enjoying the warm, the sand, the ocean. But paradise? Paradise would be a place where no one asks me if I belong in the ladies room.

I guess this isn't quite it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Countdown to Meltdown

Now I am having a total and complete meltdown. Little over than a week till Christmas and then we leave for a long vacation.

I cannot find my reservations.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to find nice, fun little things for kids stockings. I have come up empty. I'm lost.

Jeanine slipped on the ice the other morning and hurt her back horribly. She's been unable to walk for two days. Two days of no work for Jeanine makes her beyond miserable.

I have people who want me to actually concentrate and DO THINGS. PEOPLE! I CANNOT FIND MY RESERVATIONS!

Or stocking stuffers.

Or get the cousins gifts.

Or pay all the bills before I leave.

I'm frozen with panic right now. Must go fold laundry... must. I'll wait until Jeanine wakes up from her drug induced doze and ask nicely for her to figure out all the mess I've made online. She never panics.

I hope.

She will be annoyed, however, as she asked me for once, to take care of reservations. Always her job. Why? Because she can keep track of it all. I can keep track of how long before the roast is done, when to start the broccoli steaming, and... um... that's about it.

Zachary asked me this morning if I was excited about Christmas. I smiled. Or was it a grimace? Of course! I lied my ass off.

He kept asking every five minutes so I'm guessing he didn't buy my answer.

You know there are only seven more days until OUR Christmas, he reminded me. We leave on Christmas day.

I know, I know! Very exciting.

I have a built in countdown clock, every morning. Countdown to meltdown. I think there is only about 35 minutes and 15 seconds left on that clock.

Fold laundry, take shower- no, I haven't done that yet today- calm down. It'll all work out. No one will cry.

34 minutes and 10 seconds...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time...

It's that time for complete and utter panic. And no, I'm not talking about the marriage vote in New Jersey. Fifteen- actually, fourteen for us- more days until Christmas morning.

Can I convert now? Oh wait, I'm an atheist.

Zachary, ever the thoughtful one, asked me why I celebrated Christmas if I did not believe in God or Jesus.

Well, I said, I do believe Jesus lived and was a great and thoughtful man. I think he said a lot of good things about how to live life. That is worth celebrating.

I didn't say because your mother makes me.

I've yet to haul out all the decorations- that's tomorrow. The tree will go up and the energy level of the kids will soar. Funny, though, when I hear the song "it's the most wonderful time of the year..." I think about the Staples commercial with the dad dancing through the store buying back to school supplies.

THAT is the most wonderful time of the year. In my humble opinion, of course.

I was at a holiday party last night for Mass Equality. Our lovely host has two adorable little boys. Still so sweet and plotting to get at the cookies in the kitchen.

I miss having babies. No, I am not going to have one, but I do miss them. Once, about a month ago, Jake came downstairs in the morning and snuggled in my lap with me. I miss that quiet time, when you just hold them, no words, with only the soft clang of the radiators filling in the room.

I have a long wait till grandchildren. Until then, I'll just coo at babies anytime I see one. Drives Ben nuts- MOM! Why do you have to do that? Of course, he's the one who points out any baby that passes by. Especially ones that are crying because I only have to make eye contact to get them to stop. Dunno why, just a baby whisperer, I guess.

Ah, you see, I'll do anything but get ready for Christmas. Take the dog for a walk, a long run on the treadmill, heck even laundry sounds good. And babies? Please, I really do know better.

If my sister was freaked about my mother's china at Thanksgiving, wait until she sees the Madonna. My mother gave it to me years ago because as a kid, I swore I heard the piano playing one Christmas eve. I ran into my sister's room and slept with her because I was so scared. The joke was that the Madonna must have been playing it.

I know, an atheist with a statue of the Madonna.

This has been a hard year. My sister's illness and surgery. The time I spent in Georgia with her before bringing her here- dead puppies and kittens. The loss in Maine that ripped my heart out.

The loss in New York that made me furious.

But through it all, there has been great joy, too. Walter's Chihuly find, Zachary's love of his new school, Jake's growing ability to read, Ben's maturity to where he is buying gifts for his friends- he is becoming a young man right before my eyes.

My wife's beautiful smile and celebrating our 19 years together.

It is the time of year to soak it all in, reflect and appreciate. Celebrate the good, change what I can, and keep working for a better world.

But first? I think I'll go take that long run.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

War Distraction 101: Call Tiger

How do you divert attention from an endless war in Afghanistan? Call Tiger Woods. It seems we are all too busy counting mistresses than troops being sent overseas. Less than a week, and our attention is diverted.

Um, hello? People? Focus. Let's get focused. Who the hell cares about Tiger Woods. He's a golfer. I cannot even call a golfer an athlete- look at John Daley. He hits a little ball really well and makes a ton of money. Great. He's cheated on his wife. Not so great. But really, compared to 21,000 troops gone earlier this year and an additional 30,000 troops that is putting a major stress on our military, is it at all important?

News at 11.

Oh, wait, it's not on the news at eleven. It's not on the news at all. Just Tiger's mistresses, paraded out one by one. During the Vietnam war, we were given nightly updates. Of course, they were all lies, but at least it was being covered.

I've been challenged on Bilerico that I do not know what's really going on. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps no one really knows what's going on over there, except the soldiers themselves.

Perhaps we will have to wait for the history books to outline our mistakes, missteps and war crimes. There has never been a war that was perfect or completely noble. There never will be.

Another story- oh, yes, I am full of them, feel free to question my honesty. As a writer, I'm always listening- it's my job. I was sitting on a plane recently, going out to meet my wife for my anniversary. The gentleman next to me worked in construction- specifically, in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the head of a part of a company that did a lot of work around the world. I asked him what he thought, thinking this sixty-ish year old white guy would be all pro involvement.

He wasn't.

I've been there a lot, he said, over the years. We need to get out. We will never fix what is going on over there because we don't understand their culture.

He went on to say he had personally made a lot of money doing the work, but the cost was too high. He was there the day of a huge explosion in Baghdad (I'm sorry, I do not remember what he said was blown up). Almost none of his crew showed up the next day.

Too scared, he said. I don't blame them. I was, too.

Maybe I don't know diddly squat about the war.

Maybe none of us do.

It is time, though, to ask hard questions and listen to those who have been there.

Not the latest on Tiger Woods.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

We Lost in NYS

24 to 38 the Senate voted down marriage equality.

I'm too upset to begin to even write about this. The war... now this...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

30,000 More Troops

30,000 more troops. 30,000 more men and women to Afghanistan. England is sending another 500. Not us, no no. We will take care of this mess, now won't we?

I'm stunned by the number, by Obama's decision. Not surprised, mind you, because when he went and did the salute to the dead soldiers coming home, I knew that was a photo op to prep us for this moment.

Eight years, soon to be nine, we are in this way over our heads. My 14 year old son will be signing up for the draft in four years- all 18 year old males have to even now. I don't see us done with this one in four years. The conflicts there are centuries old. Our Western notions will never work there.


We all wring our hands about H1N1, shortages of vaccines created by big pharm to make us think we're all going to die without it. We debate Michelle Obama in shorts, Oprah leaving, and whether or not Tom Cruise paid Katie Holmes to have his babies.

How many US servicemen and women are in Afghanistan now? How many in Iraq? How many are dead? How many wounded?

When is Oprah's last show?

Which gets more news coverage?

I wrote about meeting a young serviceman in the Atlanta airport last winter. He was on his way to report for duty after having finished basic training. He was confident he would not go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Besides, he said, if I don't like where I am, I can ask to be moved.

He was all of 18 years old. He believed every word the recruiter told him. Wonder where he is now.

30,000 more friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. Will it never end?