Bronx Fire 2022!

WABC News Report 3 days later, after the fire

This fire really hit home for me, as a former long time Bronx resident. I was in residence for most of my life, from 1964 to 2011, w only time out for studies at universities. This tragedy occurred on January 9, 2022, in a high rise 19 story building in the Tremont section of the Bronx, a poor area. As of 3 days post incident, there r 17 confirmed dead, and many still at risk of death, in the hospital, critically listed. All of the dead were immigrant sounding names, but that does not matter, as we all band together in commiseration for the losses, of life, health, way of life, the homelessness of so many, w ruined homes, as u will see from attached pictures of this horrendous incident. It was due to a lousy space heater malfunction, which is always a risk, as many many Bronx buildings either lack heat, or do not provide adequate amounts of it, and the law states u must heat to a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit during day hours, 6am-10pm daily, when it’s below 55 degrees outside. And then the source apartment of the fire, on the 3rd floor, a duplex, had a space heater going during the night, too close to a bed, and boom! And then as they left, that family, some of whom survived, the outer apartment door did not close, as it was supposed to, thus putting the landlord and the City of New York on the hook for lack of maintenance, especially regarding non-closing apartment doors. The fire quickly spread up the stairwells, affecting every floor of the building, filled w deadly smoke.

All the dead died from smoke inhalation aged from 2 years to 50 years. Why does this touch me? Well, I have personal experience w fire, and near fire in my past, which was poor also. I was a child of 10 years when a fire started in my own kitchen, as my mom spoke on the phone in another room, and I watched TV, as the glass kettle kept boiling water going long past all evaporation of the water. On the stove also was stored wax coated paper cups, which distributed ash all over our 2 bedroom apartment. And the kettle smashed from the ongoing fire, and the fire was close to the window curtains as well, but by then, we knew what was happening, and put the fire out ourselves, despite the terrible risk. We were actually very lucky, unharmed after this incident. Even tho there was damage…

And then I was an adult, still languishing in that kid’s small bedroom, long since painted dark purple, in the Bronx, the same apartment that had this fire, and I found a problem, in that there were not enough built in electrical outlets in any room of the house, so we ran an extension cord in my bedroom, stupidly under a rug! And the heat of the current going thru that cord was a danger: the 3 outlets opened on the extension cord had in fact melted (!) and was about to start a fire! Under my carpet, which was partly under my bed, in a small room, w only one means of egress, the room door. Which would have all gone up in an inferno, but we caught it just in time, avoiding that fire! Whew!

And as poor Bronx residents, like these victims were also, so many years later, we also owned a space heater, w major warnings about not running it on an extension cord, but we had not enough outlets, and some outlets were in fact substandard, not even the modern kind that takes all plugs. And it was a regular thing to have no heat or hot water, particularly in January and February, the coldest of the year, and I would get sick every winter as a result, in chilling misery. All in substandard housing that cares not for its residents. It was a 6 story tenement, built in 1930 actually, and improvements did not happen while we lived there, not really. Just emergency repairs, when the ceilings fell down, due to persistent leaks. And the cold, the bitter cold of winter, and stress, food desert living too, and illnesses that were even life threatening eventually…this was my reality for far too long.

And so, I feel it, for these victims too, very viscerally. The burns, the smoke inhalation, the homeless, the dead, may they RIP in the Heaven as the Earth and its inhabitants cared not for these immigrants either. But some of us do, in the aftermath: we donate clothes, food, money, services for the displaced. But NYC is inhospitable too, in that there is insufficient affordable housing. And that which there is, usually upkeep is lacking also, so u trade one prison for another. It’s just tragic. We must do better, no matter what money people have. Many of us would not even be here now, were it not for the Grace of God, and His mercy upon us, in the distant past, in a miserable Bronx childhood and adulthood too. Glad I escaped alive, even if I am also damaged somewhat from this past.

It is frankly ridiculous to me the vision of the Bronx that my father and uncle Sidney had, when these things happen…u can often see that which u want to see, not the reality. It’s like melting people much as Salvador Dali did melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory, which is also applicable here.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A waterfall and field is so much better to visualize…and The Persistence of Memory is at my local Museum of Modern Art.

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)

A Look Back at 2021

Wow, what a year it has been! As we end this calendar year, I realize I have been more fortunate as an individual than most. Why? It’s all in how u interpret the data, dispassionately analyzing it. I conjure up my beloved Data, a character on Star Trek, The Next Generation, mostly, who is played by brilliant Brent Spiner the actor, and several other dual roles, in that series, and others as well, as a Guest Star. But he was incapable of emotion, most of the time, unless being manipulated by his evil brother Lore, or any of the incarnations of Dr Soong, thru several generations of creation of a sentient android. Apparently, Data has taken on a life of his own, as I bring him into real life discussions of sexual robots, who employ artificial intelligence, and already exist! Maybe I live too hardily into Star Trek, a bit, but I digress. This is a year end essay, looking at what has happened, January to December 2021.

While we continued a winter hibernation pattern, there were plans made, and actually carried out this past year. To wit, I resumed going to church and theater, movie houses, concerts and glorious travels! And meeting friends for the holidays, all together, w our vaccine passports in hand, and also family, once again, feeling less vulnerable, at the Newmans, still at the house in West Orange, tho not much longer…and one guest out of 12 of us turned up sick w COVID after the Thanksgiving…but no transmission to anyone else. We were 10 people at Christmas dinner too, and none the worse 4 it. We quizzed each other on vaccines, boosters, exposures due to lifestyle, offered help as needed, and when travels got cancelled, we made alternative plans. WE WERE RESILIENT! Hard working, well meaning, looking out 4 each other, thinking of the many whom inflation hit hard, and donated to charities who do so much good, in times of good and bad. When we were going into people’s houses, we went to get tested 4 COVID, in order to protect your hosts and their family, so as to not spread contagion.

Waited 3 hours and 40 minutes for said tests too, in the freezing cold, w a bad back aching, and my desire to look inconspicuous, so I was not as warmly dressed as I should have been, in fur. And a lone portable toilet for thousands of people on line at Laguardia Airport! The line snaked around the parking lot…and eventually, a nice staff member got me a folding steel chair, which was also cold, but much welcomed! All came out well, no COVID at all, not rapid test nor PCR. I stay alone much of the time, so I am officially low risk actually. I currently know personally 6 people w COVID at the end of the year!

This year saw my 40th anniversary of high school graduation, and we were merely 5 alumni getting together privately in person in Manhattan, plus ZOOM celebrations of various types, and the Alumni Foundation had us all scheduled to meet in person, then called it off, without notification to anyone, just issuing refunds! We were outraged at the lack of courtesy of doing it that way. After protests to the sole Foundation representative, we were told it was because of COVID worry, that they called it off, and it was all classes, not just ours. And we were our own reunion committee, not even consulted about the Foundation led reunion, which turned out to be 1 week apart from our own planned but not contracted event! What a comedy of errors! And then they canceled their plans too! Wow. U can’t make this stuff up.

Trips? Besides the usual trips to Wappingers Falls & Fishkill to see Susan and her family, and some friends also, I went also to Atlantic City twice, my 1st ever visit to Maine, to Bar Harbor, which was exquisitely beautiful, Acadia National Park, Seattle, Mount Rainier, another 1st, in Washington state, rented a house for the 1st time really, for me and 8 other friends to party on vacation together, in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Montauk, NY, my 2nd time there, staying anyway…and a new country too: Iceland, cruising w Vandy, from Reykjavik, to ports of Isafjordur, Akureyri, Seydisfjordur, and back to Reykjavik, as 2 other ports were impassable due to foul weather. WE met an extraordinary explorer woman there too, Ms Felicity Aston, the only woman who has ever traveled to Antarctica alone! On her own Vigur Island in Iceland. Quite the extraordinary trip! And we also did, 4 of us, Aruba together, the towns of Noord, Savaneta and Oranjestad. Truly a run of luck at their Stellaris Casino too! Daily winning! It was thrilling, unreal, and also very relaxing, despite the level 4 COVID Do Not Travel warnings from the State Department on both Aruba and Iceland. And also, Washington DC in March and Key West in Florida in August too. So I made my rounds. I like making up 4 lost time, and 2020 was a really hunker down year, w no effective treatment against the COVID. And no vaccines. Just massive death worldwide.

But we made it! Except for the ones whom we lost, directly to COVID, and also indirectly, due to enforced separation loneliness, and other reasons. RIP Aunt Marilyn, cousin Stephen Budow, cousin Gerald LeWinter, Anna Lyrist, Joanne’s best friend Tina…and so many others, known on social media. U r not forgotten. And remembrance of trips past too: this Christmas saw an extraordinary gift: a lit up, changing colors, 4 feet tall Eiffel Tower! Take a look. So beautiful!

And perhaps best of all: THE SCAFFOLDING CAME DOWN FROM MY HOUSE LEVEL! It had obscured my view from mid March 2020 until December 27, 2021, and now I can see the sun and sky again! And the Christmas lights outside too! What a little thing that was, and such a gift! Happy New Year, everyone! Keep doing good 4 people while u have the ability to do so. I wish u sunsets and moons of beauty, w refreshing cool waters in waterfalls and swimming pools on a hot summer day!

Paradoxes of Life

It annoys me that we r so inconsistent as a species of intelligent beings! We r wholly capable of paradoxes of thought and emotion; to wit, I both lament and am grateful about not being a parent. The sadness is certainly understandable, as we r hard wired to want to reproduce, and have little “Mini-Mes” running around us, and we probably have had a large dose of cultural indoctrination as to how important it is to continue our culture/way of life, and bring honor to the family. As women, we may have even been marginalized to understand that our whole function is to be baby makers, wives, subordinated and submissive to adults, our parents, then our husbands. Like we have been mere incubators 4 babies, rented out, that we might fulfill our purpose, a la dystopian “Handmaid’s Tale.” All choreographed in other systems of thought, like organized major religions, which enforce the patriarchy in various means of subjugation. We become accustomed to these normalized ways of thinking and behaving, thus we feel somehow lesser than, when we do not bear children in this life.

Even when we analyze ancestors, even our own parents, we can see that some of the women, even my own beloved mother, were given no implicit or explicit message but that of “u must marry and have children!” To do otherwise was to become a burden to your parents, and something of derision, an “old maid” it was called, and if u were an outlier, getting up in your upper 20’s, a woman, and God forbid, not married, u were subject to insults, and u absorbed that description, and felt shame. So by the time my mom was aged 27, and still not married, and my father was 35 (!), both never married, it was considered very late indeed, back in 1963. Their pairing was due to external pressures and they absorbed those life lessons, which hurt deeply, so they married, even tho very unsuited to one another overall. And both had intellectual disabilities as well, being under-achievers in school, w no real future prospects, except that there was a family business to fall back on, several actually, both a store and real estate businesses, so it was a go. Some way to establish a family w the salary given out. One income families were the norm then. Mom was going to be very busy w the agreed upon 2-3 children promised. Even tho it turned out to be just me, the one.

And of course, being the only child of this marriage, a lot of pressure was heaped on me, to achieve, and also, the all important admonition to go forth and marry, have children, after u establish a career. So I was also indoctrinated in this generational saga. But being a very sensitive emotional child, and being raised in a maelstrom of disharmony proved too much. There was abuse and violence, mental illness, sexual incompatibility among the parents, money issues, as to how to divvy it up, and who needed to go to work, a whole morass of disastrous miserable inputs to me, and I was not flourishing, but instead was having my own crises, even witnessing almost murder in that house. No one rescued me from being exposed to it either, as it was taboo to talk about it outside the home. So it went this way, and I spent my entire life to date now, both unmarried and no children. I did get help as an adult and came to terms w my torturous past. I am so much better now! I can even talk about it openly, and know I have been healed.

And so, it is understandable that I feel sad about not being a mother, also taken from me as a single mother, because I consider the potential child’s best interest, in that I have no person who would be appropriate to take said child, in case of my own death. I cannot subject anyone to that risk, as a potential parent, because u really throw the dice in a crap shoot when u take on a child. U have no clue what will be coming 2 u, except stress, because u will care about that child, and u will also know that u cannot control all aspects of life for said child. U may be responsible 4 that child well beyond the ages of 0-18, w illness and disability lurking, non gainful employment that will pay enough to afford an independent life…and the economy is also changing rapidly, so that inherent gifts a child has may not be enough in an economy that is doing away w so many “unskilled jobs.” Technology is eliminating many many jobs. My own parents and grandparents would not have been able to make it in today’s world w regard to making a living. And without money, no kids, no marriage, no nada. All u have to do is watch the current iteration of “West Side Story,” remade by master Steven Spielberg, now in theaters, December 2021, and tho it is dated in 1958, so very long ago, and the lesson is hopelessness and social problems may be intractable, and the result is premature death. No future, no hope. The film was made in actually Paterson, NJ, and it is known as a real life ghetto in some part of that city. Very convincing. Reminds me of what happened to the Bronx, where I grew up, actually.

But I am also grateful not to be a parent too, paradoxically. I escaped projecting my own neuroses on another generation, and can see very clearly the coming Apocalypse actually, re climate change, and humanity’s collective failure to deal w it in time to make a difference. I am glad that I have no direct descendant to deal w it, as it worsens in the 21st Century. I weep of course for the many who did bear children, and those who r younger than I am, as they bear the brunt of it. And several friends have aged themselves also, in worry for those children, in their own career issues, lack of money, serious illnesses, and assorted problems that r also intractable. And denial is out there too, on the part of the parents, because they fear that those same children they loved and wanted will become liabilities to them, long term, that they also cannot afford. I have a friend who is permanently disabled, and her husband is only doing work that doesn’t pay any money, not that that isn’t useful and appreciated, and they r the sandwich generation, w a living mother, and a young daughter…competing for limited resources. It all ages u. In comparison, I look relatively younger than my real age, because sleepless nights and worry r not part of my existence anymore. I did my bit, caring for aging parents and other elders. No more 4 me, so blessed freedom!

I may even live a long life because I do not have any of those pressures of being a parent. Even w my heavy body, I feel very alert and vital, grateful and happy overall. No one gets everything they want, after all. And I help to dole out to others, in giving thanks, and giving back, while I have yet a beating heart and working lungs…to make the world a better place, in any way I can. May God bless u all, and be an agent of God, of change. To have helped another person is to have seen the face of God!

Ancestors and Our Debt to Them

As the 2021 Holiday Season is now upon us, I find myself contemplative yet again. Looking back on a life well lived, full of joys and sorrows, love in many forms, thinking on what we r grateful for, and what is that which elicits tears, still. I am dedicating this essay to my ancestors, who have been gone from this Earthly realm some years now, and one last of that generation who died in 2020, as the Pandemic raged worldwide. Tho Aunt Marilyn was a sprightly age of 93 at her passing, the last day of May 2020, I felt a large weight of it, that event, as she was the last of that generation in our family. My last aunt, even tho she was not my blood, but by marriage, still that counts too. I have not seen my cousins, my only two 1st cousins since her funeral, in June 2020, but now we will gather again for Thanksgiving 2021, in West Orange, NJ, maybe one of the last times, because the selling of that house is on the docket by now…waiting for other life events like college graduation ceremonies, and gainful employment by the next generation, represented by Robert & Julianne Newman. There r others of course, but for the Newmans, this is it. And the younger Newmans r well on their way to bright futures, w careers in STEM beckoning, and also good fortune from those who came before. The house is not 4 sale yet, but we can see a day when it will be. And then, NJ will be no more, but instead FL probably. I stay in NY because my people r my close friends, and they r all centered around here, still. They have become my substitute family. I drive near and far to reach them. Good thing for a reliable set of wheels.

This Christmas is 11 years ago that my father died. He was a complicated father, w being the runt of the litter, so to speak, the youngest of 3 brothers. He was less fortunate w regard to his attainments educationally, and was pressured to be silent about his homosexuality. In the times of his life, u had to hide it, or else bring shame upon oneself or one’s family also. He died in 2010, some 5 years before the USA went all states legal for gay marriage. He was given only one option: marry a woman or else be single for life. And any man will tell u that a life w no sex is not much of a life! So he was quite in a pickle to discern these choices, as the one he wanted most wasn’t an option. Thus he married my mother in 1963, and the next year I was born. I was the only fruit of their union, which lasted a long 16 years of marriage. They were not good for each other in so many ways, but my mother also had no real options to escape her overly restrictive parents either. And when u r aged 27 and still living w your parents at home, u r pretty much at the end of your tolerance rope. In those days, an unmarried woman at 27 was called an old maid even, as in past hope of getting a husband, which was the end all and be all for young women in the 1960’s. And so, both under significant pressures, they deigned to marry, and have a child, which was very important in their joint Jewish culture also. My mother has passed from this existence in 2014, some 7 years ago now. She had a rough life overall, but there were some compensating attributes, and she was very grateful for having me, at least. And she was also reunited w her 1st born daughter, named Karen Fischler, through some very complex NY laws w social workers, adoption agencies, and they had a relationship from February 2006 until her death, some 8 years and 8 months later. Both of us were grateful for this reunification, as it was a life wish, to know what happened to this little girl given up at birth, in 1957. And so we found out, which is wonderful! Even if my half sister and I r hardly in touch anymore, I am grateful still, for this answer, and the relationship, however it remains to this day.

Going further back to my mother’s parents, who lived in the Bronx and Jersey City NJ for most of their lives, grandpa Harold was a men’s wear salesman, and amazingly, this was sufficient to support a family of 3 in an apartment, even tho it was not much of a career as that is understood today. Grandma Esther was a cook, a homemaker, a person w many talents, a baker, one who knitted and crocheted sweaters and booties for your feet…and her cooking is my inspiration to this day! My mother never took to it, but I was impressed and wanted to learn. And so, when I did Thanksgiving for my family and some friends here in 2015, I was grateful for her example. She was the essential ingredient to my being able to pull it off, for 9 people, even in an apartment. And I used my heirloom sterling silverware 4 it too, service for 12 it is. From Grandma Esther, who had it as a gift from her mother, great grandmother Fanny Krieger, of London. I have pictures all over my house of the ancestors. And I get some strange spiritual visits from the departed too, which is comforting to me, when it happens.

And on my father’s side, he had those two brothers, named Sidney and Robert, both older than he was. Robert married Marilyn and had 2 sons, my only two 1st cousins: Mark & Glenn. Glenn married Maria Grella and they begat Robert & Julianne, who r now in their 20’s. And we r the elders now: yikes! Top of the aged pyramid, w gray hair and wrinkles showing up in various combinations, even tho we r prone to dye our hair, and do other things to diminish these signs of aging. We refuse to accept senescence. Nope, not for a long time, so we r active, and resistant. We r Baby Boomers, all born between 1946-1964, tho not too old yet. Still some kick in these bones, and drive.

And further back, there were our grandparents Herman & Frieda Margolies, who became the Newmans. Herman made a point of consideration 4 me, upon my birth, to establish an account for my educational expenses, right then and there, in 1964, even tho it would go unused until I turned age 18, a full year into my college years, as I entered at age 17. And once that was done, sadly, Herman died, right then in June 1964. So I never knew him, but I was impressed that he would do this 4 me, just a newborn at the time. Grandma Frieda had a relationship w me until I was 8 years old, when she was stricken w a major stroke, and lived another 5 years after that event. I cringe at her suffering, even now, in memory. I went to visit her in a nursing home many times, and all she did was cry. I pray that her fate will not be my own, as I lead a kind life 4 others. I think that doing good 4 people taps into karma, and what u put out comes back 2 u, at least tenfold. At least that is what I tell myself, and I believe. So I do good 4 others, who r not my family for the most part, but rather, my adopted family of close friends. They have not been as fortunate as I have been, so I try to equal the life score, at least a little.

And cousin Bill Michelson will also be at Thanksgiving, a 2nd cousin to me, Mark & Glenn, as his grandmother Rebecca was a sister to our grandmother Frieda. And Bill has a prodigious memory of the family tree, so I am indebted to him for spelling it out for me, in a Thanksgiving past, on a simple page of computer paper, handwritten, which puts our roots further back than simply the grandparents that I had direct knowledge of. And now, some of us r even on Ancestry.com, having given in to the genetic matching up, which had been resisted up until recently. I found some friends of mine even have some DNA in common w me, to call them distant cousins, or 4th cousins, 5th’s etc. I have a lot of cousins! So we can go further back, thanks to Bill.

And I have even met some of my 1503 cousins, tho admittedly, many simply have no interest. But one of them is a great one, who I keep in touch with, and even visit periodically. His name is Marc Juba, and he lives in Columbia, Maryland, and he is from my mother’s side, a third cousin to be exact, but I feel a kinship w him too. Very grateful for those genetic studies!

As any family has many many branches, I could go on and on, but why would that be interesting for my blog readers? Nope, not enough fun here, as I have purposely omitted the real meat & potatoes of scandals and deceit, murder & mayhem! I’m kidding. We r mostly good people as a group. We believe that u get back what u dole out, so…no AR-15’s here, no marauding, no salacious gossip. I know when to keep my trap shut. I did get myself an education, after all, and that too was thanks to my ancestors. I am truly grateful overall. And I can cook too! There’s way more than what u see in the pictures, and we r worth a 2nd look. Yup.

l-r: Robert, Julianne, Maria, Marsha, Glenn, Mark & Marilyn Newman, at my home.
Sam Bergner w Fanny Krieger, my great grandparents, w their 1st 2 daughters: Blanche & Esther, who was my grandmother.
Me, half sister Karen Fischler and mama Harriett Newman
Esther, Harold & Harriett, my grandparents and mother
Frieda Margolies & Herman Newman, my grandparents
My parents Gerald & Harriett w Harold & Esther, grandparents, plus aunts, uncles & cousins from maternal side; my parents w cousin Mark at age 13 is the 1st pic.

On the Subject of Children

I ruminate frequently, as I am alone much of the time, and that makes me quite unusual, in the grand scheme of things. Very few women at my stage of life have even a few spare minutes 4 themselves to indulge, sleep or even take a luxurious bath! Or to really cook, assemble complex dishes, of far flung ingredients, travel, or make plans for travel, for yourself, or occasionally, w others too, who r invited as guests. My female friends who r all around me in age, give or take 3 yrs, all of us from 56-60 now, r all mothers and have been or r currently wives, have had children…and this gives me pause.

I HAVE MISSED THAT BOAT IN LIFE. I tried, of course: dating, serious romances, even a one time Black gent who was angling for a coming inheritance, when he cared for my father in a hospital. He was about to take me to buy an engagement ring the next day…but I am alternately cursed w a deliberative nature, that looks at both emotion, plus the logic of the situation, and whether it is a good fit. After all, marriage is a multi-factorial decision, not easily taken into, on a whim, say, wow, I’m in love! That’s it! Let’s get married! Nope, Marsha is very discerning, and knows this is not her way. So that offer went to the scrap heap as well, rather quickly too. As u age, u pick up wisdom, and also knowledge about the big picture that life is. But back to kids…

Some of u know that I offered a close friend an arrangement, that is to be artificially inseminated, when I was but age 36, in the year 2000, still fertile, presumably…and that person was already involved w another person, but was also close to me, as a friend. That friend’s partner was not comfortable w the offer, and it was also scrapped, even tho my close friend and I both wanted to be parents…it was left in the air tonight…in abeyance, indefinitely. I have never forgotten that stance the other person took, even tho I can certainly understand that it would be uncomfortable for a lady friend to be raising a child that was fathered biologically w her boyfriend. An eternal triangle that clearly does not work. Two is company, three’s a crowd, yup. They could go on to have their own child, independent of me. Even tho that is not what ultimately happened. My friend and I both wound up childless, biologically anyway. The lady friend had had a child prior to knowing my close friend.

And I also explored adoption, twice over. Once had an accepted home study even, in search of adopting a girl, out of foster care, from mid child ages to age 12, preferred. But no child materialized that met our criteria at that time. And the 2nd time, post my mother’s passing, the adoption agency felt that I wasn’t in a good situation then, as to taking on another family member. So I was put aside, yet again. And there was always the issue that I did have friends, really good ones even, but not any of them could be a substitute guardian 4 me, in case of my own death…and that would be devastating 4 a child in my care. I would not put anyone in such a pickle, to be delivered up to foster care, and then thrown out on the street at age 18! Nope, that’s not Marsha either. My mom died when I was 50 years old, so it was getting to be too old already, legally, and I had to also evaluate my existing health at that time. U can adopt in NYS up till age 55, but I again was ill at ease, given my iffy health status at that time.

AND SO, I ACCEPTED MY FATE: NO CHILD 4 ME. U need to be a certain type to accept anyone who offers u such an option. I have a lady friend whose only criterion was that he be a Greek man, that’s it, nothing more! And if so, she would bear him a child. And that’s what they did, getting married after the birth was accomplished. Mixed blessings, that one…aging w a teenager at home…and flagging energy. I act as a virtual aunt to all my dear friends’ children, and they r many! Of all my close lady friends, there r a total of 10 children who r honorary nieces/nephews to me. That’s a lot. Especially w regard to needs they all have. I am not however directly obligated for any of them, and there is a certain freedom in that, especially when things go wrong. I can swoop in or out at my own volition. Help from time to time; they r not my direct responsibility. I actually see the downside to parenting, when your kids r growing into adulthood, and r not able to carry their own weight financially, which is increasingly the case these days. And the college fund is either inadequate or nonexistent. How will Junior support him/herself in an increasingly expensive world that demands skills that u don’t graduate high school with? Or go off to college, get into major loan debt, and be completely unable to pay it off after graduation? Increasingly the story for millions of Americans. Nope, no way out of the family house 4 Junior. No money, well, not enough, and the bitch of it is this Generation Z kid is maybe the 1st in American history to be looking at a downwardly mobile standard of living. That is that your parents r going to be richer than u can ever hope to be, on your own. Own a home of your own? Nope, with what kind of salary, and that enormous educational debt? Or that high school diploma, a ticket to nowhere…or marriage going the way of the dodo too, as tomorrow’s generation doesn’t see the value therein, just hitching up, living together, until one of them flies the coop…and the woman is left w the children too, to fend 4 herself and them also, w no paid child care affordable or even available…this is the US of A, right? No funding for paid parental leave, none!

Yup, maybe I dodged a bullet when my time ran out on having a child. Even tho I wanted one, rather badly even. And in memory of my mother, who died on Halloween, she died w two daughters being alive and no children from either of us. She cried long and hard, as did I, for the losses of this life, as I would have been a really good mother, overall, even w my unusual ways of looking at the big picture. I always put the child’s interest first, as I did in caring for my elders, as they aged also. I did what was in their best interests, looking at it logically, even dispassionately. But I also ponder how good a grandmother she would have been, and never given that chance. In Memory of Harriett S and Gerald Newman, my parents. The bloodline ends w me, although one 1st cousin had two children, who continue as the Newman lineage.

And also, in hopes for the lady friends who did bear children, and have yet to see any grandchildren: I hope that day comes 4 u, as I do not wish to see u weep, as my mother did, at the knowledge that there will be no more of your lineage. These r very hard times we r living through, and forces beyond our control r engulfing us, simultaneously. It’s no wonder that the younger generations r disillusioned and somber. They have reason to be. Count yourself lucky if they can make it on their own, even in an apartment somewhere. And not have to ask u 4 money every month. This is increasingly a magic trick that only some few people will get.

The Law of Reciprocity

How is it that I am allowed to be happy, yet being alone much of the time? How is that even possible, given that we r a very social species? Well, I have a unique viewpoint, and varied experiences, and not too much responsibility even, beyond the ordinary things of self-care, household upkeep, functional chaos, doing things for others, commenting on current events, being a trip arranger, or a limited travel agent, a blogger, a photographer of travel, nature lover, a sometime Fairy Godmother (so anointed by Susan & Marna, and given a T-shirt to that effect).

I especially LOVE doing things that change lives tho. That’s the big kahuna 4 me. Like home improvements, getting rid of people who r harmful to my peeps, via divorce, or other means, but no, not murder. Even tho we think of killing our enemies, yet we do not seriously entertain same in reality. Just a little too much of The Sopranos or their ilk peeking through here. Watching this is the not the same as arranging a hit, or killing someone. I am just a sweet little pussycat actually, but be careful, as I have a leashed temper. Or doing good like getting someone out of a toxic household, and establishing her own apartment, pride of ownership, even if it is rented. Hey, when we got out of our parents’ home, what did we do? We rented an apartment, many of us. Our own little piece of the world, our space, our pride at having made the leap. Or we got another friend out of another apartment, so that her young child could mature in more peace, away from an abusive father/husband. Give her a chance of better development, my honorary niece.

I have a list of places I have taken people, over the years that I have been given, many of them “trips of a lifetime.” On this list is repeated trips to Hawaii, several islands even, but more Oahu than any other place. On the islands list: Big Island Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Oahu; Volcanoes & Haleakala National Parks; Sydney, Australia and vicinity; Rhine River in Europe: the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland; Italy all over: Rome, Naples, Venice vicinity, Burano, Murano, Tuscany: Castiglione del Lago, Cortona, Florence, small towns, other castles, wineries; Greece: Athens, Corfu, Mykonos, Katakolon, Oía, Santorini, Heraklion, Crete, Rhodes; Croatia: Split & Dubrovnik; Spain: Salamanca, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Barcelona, Valladolid; United Kingdom: just London & Windsor; Monaco: Monte Carlo; France: Paris, Colmar, Obernai, Strasbourg, Marseilles; Germany: Cologne, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Speyer, Black Forest, Koblenz; Switzerland: Basel, Lucerne, Einsiedeln, Schwyz; Netherlands: Amsterdam, Kinderdijk; Israel: Jerusalem, Haifa, holy sites of Judeo/Christian belief; Vatican City: all of it, including historical sites therein; within the beautiful, vast USA: Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown MA, Boston, North Adams, Chicago, New Orleans, LA, Dallas, TX, Charlotte, NC, Seattle, WA; Mt Rainier National Park; Issaquah, Snoqualmie, WA; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Victoria, B.C, Canada; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Walt Disney World, Miami, Key West, drove the Keys of FL; Ft. Lauderdale & towns thereof; Kissimmee; Boynton Beach, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando; Los Angeles, San Francisco, Carmel Mission, Monterey Bay, San Diego, Muir Woods National Park, Sausalito, Laguna Beach, Anaheim; (Walt) Disneyland; Atlanta, Vicinity of Pooler GA; Richmond, VA; Washington DC; Columbia, MD, Annapolis, Baltimore; Las Vegas many times; Phoenix & Mesa Arizona; Alaska: Skagway, Juneau, Hoonah/Icy Strait Point, Seward, Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Mendenhall Glacier; Ketchikan; NJ: whole state pretty much: Paramus, Cherry Grove, Atlantic City, West Orange, East Rutherford, Parsippany, Clifton, Jersey City, Freehold; NY whole state too: Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester, Syracuse, Garden City, the Hamptons, Montauk, Dix Hills, Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Utica, Wappingers Falls, Fishkill & Poughkeepsie, Whaley Lake, South Salem, Mineola, Massapequa Park; Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Allentown, Warren, the areas of the Amish & Mennonites, Lancaster, Hershey; CT: New Canaan, Bridgeport, New Haven, Uncasville, Ledyard, Stamford, Greenwich; Vermont, Maine: Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park; Mexico: Cancun, Ensenada, Limones, Costa Maya, Chichen Itza; the Caribbean: Aruba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana; Curacao, US Virgin Islands: St Thomas: Charlotte-Amalie; Honduras, Belize; Cyprus; and last new one: Iceland! Iceland ports: Reykjavik, Isafjördur, Akureyri, Seydisfjördur. Truly incredible experiences all, and so lovely. But the love is what makes it all worthwhile. And on the menu for next year as well, to escape the winter some, and to journey onward & upward…always planning, both solo and also w friends.

And then there r the days that make u weep also. In the midst of happiness comes sorrow. A dog dies. A parent dies. A sibling dies. Damage due to mudflows, earthquakes, tidal waves, flash flooding basements under water, cars floating away on rivers that were streets…illness, disability, death. Always death. No one gets out alive. But it’s all in your viewpoint too: is it merely a door to walk through, to enter a new life that is free of turmoil? Is it a veritable Heaven? Or did u contribute to making this imperfect life Hell 4 others? I hold on to Karma as a teaching, insofar as God is just, and I personally know He exists, for He has revealed Himself to me, His lowly servant. I fantasize super powers like the fictional Vulcans have on Star Trek series: that would it be so that I could mind meld w other humans, to get them into my brain, and to thereby prove that God does indeed exist! Because I met the Lord at the holy site in Jerusalem, at The Wailing Wall, where I wept, knowing how unworthy I was to have that experience of being in the Light and Very Presence of God, even tho I was stained by sin. I brought mementos of others there, as a pilgrimage, pictures of those who left us before in this life…and words of prayer. It was the greatest moment of my life on Earth, and I hunger to go back there. But I will do as the Lord wills me to, for I imitate His servant Queen, the Virgin Mary, who also pledged obedience to Him.

And so, it goes on, and I see the infirmities creeping up in my bones and joints, and I rejoice, that I am nearing that stage of senescence, of passing from this life, in peace, even strangely grateful that I have not borne children, even tho very much wanted, it was a paradox of my life…to both want, and yet not want, because the coming Apocalypse is going to be awful, and I will not have a direct descendent in it, yet I also weep for those who will. I weep for the young ones, as we enter this maelstrom of calamities, growing worse even now, and even still, foolish Humanity does nothing to stop or even slow it! We know what’s happening, even as it engulfs us, right in the present day! And yet, people choose death, by not getting vaccinated, by not caring about the climate catastrophe, by voting for those who condemn us to a swifter, more horrible future, for failure to have leadership and vision. Ye shall reap what ye have sown. And I have my little patch of real estate at Woodlawn Cemetery, awaiting my arrival, some day…beside my beloved mother, now gone 7 years ago this month.

And so, if we live by God’s will, so shall we die in it too. I have no fear about that. I have been a force for goodness and light in this world, and am satisfied w that simple fate. May u also be so delivered, my loving friends and readers, in a kind of fabled Rapture. Spread your wings and fly freely, in sunlight that does not burn, and refresh in clear lakes of streaming water, cool, to wash away iniquity. And be free to make good choices, for yourselves and others. This is the goal. That which u give out, u will also receive, usually in multiples.

Meaningful Ancient Giants Among Us

These people r all aged 83 and up, as of today, 10/4/2021. I had one name on my own list that has died, and I did not know. That was Neil Simon, at age 91, 7/4/1927-8/26/2018. The rest of this list is still living.

Celebrities Date of Birth Current Age

  1. William Shatner 3/22/1931 90
  2. George Takei 4/20/1937 84
  3. Nichelle Nichols 12/28/1932 88
  4. Walter Koenig 9/14/1936 85
  5. Jane Goodall 4/3/1934 87
  6. Sir David Attenborough 5/8/1926 95
  7. Mel Brooks 6/28/1926 95
  8. Bob Newhart 9/5/1929 92
  9. Jimmy Carter 10/1/1924 97
  10. Tony Bennett 8/3/1926 95
  11. Dick Van Dyke 12/13/1925 95
  12. Dame Julie Andrews 10/1/1935 86
  13. Clint Eastwood 5/31/1930 91
  14. Jack Nicholson 4/22/1937 84
  15. Sir Anthony Hopkins 12/31/1937 83
  16. Dame Angela Lansbury 10/16/1925 95
  17. Queen Elizabeth II 4/21/1926 95
  18. Giant Sequoia Trees ! 1000’s of Years Old
  19. Burt Bacharach 5/12/1928 93
  20. Estelle Harris 4/4/1928 93
  21. Harry Belafonte 5/1/1927 94
  22. Sir Sidney Poitier 2/20/1927 94 (reported dead on 1/7/2022)
  23. Eva Marie Saint 7/4/1924 97
  24. Bob Barker 12/12/1923 97
  25. Norman Lear 7/27/1922 99
  26. Betty White 1/17/1922 99 (died on 12/31/2021)
  27. Nehemiah Persoff 8/2/1919 102
  28. Marsha Hunt 10/17/1917 103
  29. Stephen Sondheim 3/22/1930 91 (died on 11/26/2021)
  30. Carol Burnett 4/26/1933 88
  31. Woody Allen 12/1/1935 85
  32. Louise Fletcher 7/22/1934 87
  33. Ellen Burstyn 12/7/1932 88
  34. Dame Joan Collins 5/23/1933 88
  35. Diana Muldaur 8/19/1938 83
  36. Edward O. Wilson 6/10/1929 92
  37. James Lovelock 7/26/1919 102
  38. Rita Moreno 12/11/1931 89
  39. Hector Elizondo 12/22/1936 84
  40. David McCallum 9/19/1933 88
  41. Dame Judi(th) O. Dench 12/9/1934 86

And that’s an American slanted list, if there ever was one. But I write what I know, and this is my own list of who’s significant to me, who has managed to withstand the COVID Plague, and keep on trucking…I deliberately left out worthy contenders for the list, because they r not yet aged 83 or up. I have many such names to add in the years to come, but this is just a snapshot of a day in time, linear.

How to Make a Gangster or a Rock Star!

Man and woman in love, kiss kiss, hug tightly, let nature take its course, then marriage.

Procreation, due to love chemicals in your brain, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, youth and attractiveness, no thoughts about anything else, just that heady feeling of being in love, and their feeling the same way…kismet! Historically, that was the deal, as social mores went, and it was natural to go w that feeling, as being enough, to engage in marriage and procreation.

Except it wasn’t enough, and this becomes clearer over time, that that heady love mutually satisfied by lovemaking is not the end all and be all that u need in order 4 marriage to work. Marriage is supposed to be 4 the long haul, w no one else, just u and him, locked 4ever, enslaved to one another, even when the chemicals subside, and they do. Interesting word in Spanish: esposa means both wife and handcuff! Do u see the connection? Like in English, ball & chain!

Well, as time goes on, u recognize that that initial feeling is gone, and u r diverging, and your values and important life goals do not coincide. One partner takes control over the other, and makes it anywhere from uncomfortable to hellish. And here comes that beautiful baby, that gives u hope 4 the future, thinking the baby will bring u closer, because it is a new life brought forth, sharing of the lovemaking. A blessing, a goal achieved, even if the values and lifestyle r already diverging.

In the USA, where I live, the mainstream population may fall into this pattern even now, thinking being in love is the ticket, and happily ever after…but all too often, u will find that people r not living up to their full potential, as in educational achievement on the way to a stable, prosperous job/career, and being a good choice 4 a mate, as in your children will not be condemned to a life of want, poverty, poor health, bad or even insufficient food, shacks and vans instead of condos and well constructed houses. The disparity today is even more wide than in years past, w the rich getting exponentially richer, and the poor merely arriving by the 1000’s daily to our teeming shores, because of that same want and poverty that drove them from their homes of origin.

And the citizens of the USA, and permanent residents, they too r at risk of being duped into the “love is all u need” paradox made famous by a Beatles song. The lack of education, of self awareness, of wisdom, and the intensity of the feelings, they all work together to create poor and severely bad marriages, and consequently, maladaptive children as well. Multiply this by millions of people here, and u can see “we have a problem, Houston.” – Jack Swigert, Apollo 13 NASA quote, 1970. Millions of children growing up in homes where money is scarce, resources needed, and not provided, values not shared, arguments becoming violent, domestic violence ensuing, and the lure of easy money by criminal activity. When u do not achieve money by good old fashioned hard work, and preceding a good education, that leads to such jobs, the alternatives become inviting, to a point where poverty = criminal enterprises = jail or death, prematurely. Of course u might choose to beg, or emigrate illegally, taking your chances that u will find some rainbow in another land, but that’s just a mirage.

Millions of people just succumb to that feeling, and live w it, no matter how much it sucks later. Mostly, they stay if the money coming in is legally obtained, and stable. They no longer feel that rush of the initial attraction, and may have long since given up sex, due to boredom, lack of libido, physical issues of declining blood flow as we age…u name it. They stay because the money is stable and they know what they have now. But when u don’t achieve that pinnacle of middle class lifestyle, and your future is all whether u spend your life in an orange jumpsuit, up at 5:30am to work a job for pennies an hour…or just lose it all, in a single gunshot from an angry person who lost his way in life.

The good of this is u might take your childhood trauma from badly matched parents and channel it into creativity…becoming a musician, a writer, a comedian. Many occupations result from childhood emotional trauma actually. The best entertainers often have the best stories and anecdotes, but they r often borne from internalized pain. When u study movies, TV, Broadway shows for material, u start to see that the traumas have metastasized into art, which is a worthy cause, giving your internal pain some meaning. Like how your parents didn’t accept u as is, how they wanted u to be, no matter what u wanted…u had no voice, just a mini-me, treated as an automaton effectively, and u rebelled at that! Of course u did! What other option was there?!

And the cycle starts over again, as u move on, get the hell out of your damned parents’ house, and their lousy marriage, that fucked u up totally, so that u need psychotherapy and a virtual lobotomy to understand and correct…if u can. And then u fall in love, and forget everything contained herein, because u didn’t get a proper education when u were young. And no thought as to whether u and your lady friend have the stuff u need to determine if u have the right stuff to stick it out over the long haul. And repeat this cycle over the eons, as it’s easy to get caught up in that bright musical tune pumping: “I Saw Her Standing There,” – The Beatles, originally 1963. “My heart went boom!” Except u live to regret it, as u watch the detritus pile up in mentally ill children, unable or unwilling to seek treatment, who become mentally ill adults, who do not learn, don’t achieve, and keep making babies…

And BTW, the Mafia isn’t restricted to Italians either. They exist in many major ethnic enclaves all over the world. And it’s a symptom of this cycle too. Can u dig it, people?! I broke the cycle by not marrying, and not having children. And am I happy? Yeah, occasionally I am. And that’s enough 4 me. I write, therefore I am. So my words will exist after my exit. I am one of the millions of people who survived a bad marriage of my parents, trauma, of many types, and lived to tell about it. I am glad to not inflict my damage on another person, especially not one as fraught as my theoretical child. I think I made sense of my situation, w hard work, but some symptoms remain, and maladaptive coping is in there too. At least I remind myself that prophecy is fulfilled in these words from Luke 23: 28-29: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'” It is a paradox as written back then, in the ancient times, because women have always been valued for their childbearing ability. Jesus Himself said this quote, and it is coming true in this Apocalypse we r either in, or r approaching. One day soon, also, the living will envy those who r dead before them, because when all hell breaks loose, it will be bad for those who r still alive. Picture no jobs, no law, no food or water, just guns and crazy people all over, like a Zombie Apocalypse!

Yup, I see it. But don’t listen to me; I am just another educated lunatic who writes and takes pictures all day long. Counting our days off…as California burns, and Louisiana and Texas flood.

THE SUMMER OF ESCAPES!

As if I cannot bear either the twin menaces of our time now, whether the Pandemic Blues or the Climate Change fiasco playing out all over our beloved Mother Earth, instead I am on a quest to show that life is indeed worth living! Indeed, if u cannot find true love with someone mutually, at least u can revel in the true love of friendship, poignancy, familial love in the form of deep friendship w several close people. It has to be enough, because this is what is available to u.

But ahhh! This summer is making up for lost time, as we did travel, albeit much closer to home, last year, when the Pandemic was still new, and killing people by the thousands here across the USA. And we avoided planes, trains, any kind of mass transit, due to risk of contagion. Well, all that deprivation has swelled people’s desire for travel far and wide this year, and I am no exception to that.

This spring, beginning early May, I have traversed the following destinations, both in my car, and on a train, in March, and by planes. March began Washington DC; May Atlantic City, NJ; May Bar Harbor, Maine; June Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; July Atlantic City, NJ 2nd time; then New Canaan, CT, South Salem, NY, Montauk, NY, plus the Hamptons; then Fishkill, Wappingers Falls, Poughkeepsie, NY; August Key West, FL, and yet to come, only days away, Aruba and Iceland, carrying into September as well. Still on the calendar: October in Seattle, Washington.

Both Aruba and Iceland have entered the State Department’s Do Not Travel list, and I am now in the 5th month since my last COVID vaccination was administered, on March 25th. So as of September 25th, I should get a booster shot. I am playing the game of caution, w regard to infection control, even tho I am deathly tired of living in this contagious soup, especially because it isn’t necessary, if people would only comply, for the greater good. Even when their very children r endangered, because no vaccine is available yet to those who r under age 12. It boggles the imagination that people would risk their children’s lives, in political gobbledygook such as refusal of vaccine is, in the vast majority of cases. Fear and ignorance, defiance and ineptitude. Some governors have even ordered no mask mandates whatsoever, in public schools, and anyone who countermands the order will not be paid their salary! And again, this is happening in a twist on totalitarianism, where u must submit to laws that r enacted on a partisan basis, or else starve! Yeah, most people get by on their salaries, right? So no money, no food. And evictions have begun again too.

America the Great! America the Beautiful! America the Dead. Well, if I die, at least I go out w a bang! I crossed off another item on my Bucket List: met beautiful Rhett & Scarlett, close up, flamingos! At the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, which was just magical. I floated thru the aisles of plants, trees, flowers, the beauty of this place! Observing rainbow finches, turacos, quails, many butterflies, one of them landing on and staying on my friend’s back…and I was enchanted and in love w them, and their adorable honking. They can touch u, but not u them. They rule the roost, Rhett & Scarlett do! No hatchlings tho from them, even tho mated in captivity, and they r 9 yrs old now. It says they may live up to 50 yrs in captivity, but they need to be exposed to rain in order for them to reproduce. In the Conservatory, they r not exposed to rain. But they do enjoy interacting w the humans during “the Flamingle.” They can get on u, your hat, your shoes, even perhaps poop on u! But we r cautioned 1st about that, and told what to do to avoid that happening. None of us got pooped on on August 5th.

I am happy being again more often w my dear friends’ posse this summer, and so have little time to write on this blog. My travels r so frequent that there is nary a day I can meet my responsibilities and also write this, tho I do miss doing that. The Martha’s Vineyard trip was 9 of us! In a big luxurious house in tony Edgartown. I have actually NEVER rented a house before, except for a summer session in college as an undergraduate. We also took concierge services from an agency, hiring an in home chef for 3 dinners that week, chartering our own Captain on a sailboat, sunset sail, although I was disturbed by no bathroom access on the boat…not a good thing as we were out of the house for 3 hrs, w difficulties finding the Captain on his dinghy, to get us to the Sea Witch boat, 4 and 5 at a time. It was an adventure!

I am fortunate in this life, being unusual, having neither spouse, nor children, nor responsibilities for other elders, all gone now. I see the careworn looks on some of the people who have had such responsibilities, and at least I look younger than my actual years. I get more sleep and less aggravation now. And I like sharing the bounty too! God bless us all, as we journey hither and yon, checking off Bucket List items as we go. I love u all, my friends! And we will try to make it a good life 4 all of us, w changes and doing good 4 others, which revitalizes our collective spirit.

And I got to see the Hemingway House in Key West too, and need to order “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” I like the ominous title, as Ernest suffered his way thru life too, and left behind a rich legacy of writing and even films made of his works, that we might be warned and entertained thus. He had a remarkable home, which was constructed and done by 1851, which looked quaint and well preserved, it being now 2021, some 170 yrs later. He lived from 1899-1961. I need to learn more than I have so far, regarding his works.

Is Sex a Need?

So I was ruminating on the eternal recently, and was stumped on a particularly funny aspect of Abraham Maslow’s famous psychological writing of a Hierarchy of Needs. His pyramid put the Physiological Needs at the bottom of the pyramid, its base, onto which all other needs r subordinate. When I was a college student, much younger, I laughed myself silly that only a man could equate the need for food, water and oxygen w the need 4 sex! Such balderdash to my younger self! Clearly u have time limits on to which death will occur in the absence of oxygen (the shortest interval), water and then food. But sex?! One could go years on end without having any sexual activity whatsoever…

Or so I thought, back then. Now that I am older and wiser, w a lesser need 4 physical sex, due to changes in my endocrine system, I am considering that sex is indeed a physiological need, and that Maslow was right! Maybe not so immediately needful, as in food or oxygen, no, but in that realm of things one MUST have. And why must we have it? Well, a life without a permanent partner is by definition lonely. That is not to say that even partnered individuals r not lonely, but a person who is alone, truly alone, much of the days of their lives, w only occasional get togethers w friends or family is of course more alone than most of us r.

And when u r lonely or more serendipitously engaged in pursuits that r best accomplished solo, thereby u r engaged in solitude, which is a wholly different connotation than the aforementioned loneliness. Solitude implies that u r alone by choice, in order to accomplish some goal. It is a good thing to have, solitude then, because u r engaged in something that gives u pleasure, or accomplishes a major life goal, like for example studying for an advanced degree. Many study pursuits r done solo, even tho there r some tasks best laid out in study groups. But back to sex, as a need.

When u do go an extended period of time alone, u start to crystallize what things in life r truly important, which r needs, and which r wants. So sex as a physical need can of course be fulfilled by most persons in the guise of masturbation, that is to let off the steam build up inherent in having an active libido. But of course some people have been raised in such a manner to think that masturbation is a sin, or dirty. To be avoided. Many religions have some prohibition against it even. So maybe masturbation is NOT an answer 4 those people, so indoctrinated. I am fond of saying that if a man has a struggle between God and religion and his penis, the penis will usually win. I’d peg it at 85% odds in favor 4 the penis winning the war, and getting its objective.

And then, knowing that God created Man and Woman w the innate sex drive, He allowed and consecrated as Holy Marriage, that sole remedy that is allowed under the heading of God and Religion. In my faith, that is the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Marriage is a sacrament, to be highly respected and revered, and unbroken in all but the serious cases that allow for Annulment. And has been such revered for thousands of years by even early humans. And so, u have but two options in this life: either this wholly heterosexual marriage 4 life w one partner, or to be virginal, without stain, until death arrives. We know the prohibitions as if they r written on the Tablets of the 10 Commandments. Even tho the writing there is but brief. And of course, there r other options too: to deny oneself the comfort of a mate, to undergo Holy Orders, which is to be a priest, but only if u r a man, w the specified organs commensurate w the designation. If u be but a woman, u may choose to abjure yourself also, as a nun, but that is falling out of favor these days, only to be a worker 4 no pay, and to have only other women in a cloister 4 company, for life. Sounds like a self imposed jail to many, and very very few women choose such a path.

So your choices r few, if u want to remain in good standing, under your religious background. It is the same for many other religions as well, tho there r variations as to what u must give up in order to remain in good standing. Does religion go against a physiological need that we all have then? R we constrained to be virgins until marriage, and then wholly faithful to that one partner who is one’s wife or husband, for life? Yes, that is what is required, to be in good standing. And what of the needs as they evolve, from first blush of marriage, wedding night, to the long years of child rearing, work, toil and limitations imposed by finances, as to how many children one family can afford to have? Over time, the desire and the ability to have sex wanes. Either in one or both partners. And when the partners are not in sync, what then? Back to masturbation and confession, serial confessor admission? Is that enough?

We live in the United States of America, a country which is pluralistic, claims freedom 4 all religions, but we have a curious dichotomy here of Puritanism (a kind of slavish tyrannical set of practices that limit permissible expressions of sexuality, or of breastfeeding as another example) and also the love of sex, a kind of Kama Sutra of the TV, movies and songs culture of America. We r 4ever in this argument between the two, which r diametrically opposed to each other! Which is it! Do we comply w religious dictates, confess over and over again the same sins, or do we go hog wild w unfettered sex, even polyamorous sex?! As in orgy sex, or Plato’s Retreat, a sex club in the 1980’s, now long closed. Do we have a right to our sinful natures, as it relates to sex? That we do not conform to the very narrow dictates of monogamous marriage?

And what of the women, yes, mostly women, who lose out, who never marry, or have children, who age gracefully alone, unloved and only pitied, for having lost the small window of opportunity to catch a big fish? What of us who cry in the night, for a man who captured our heart long ago, and far away, who has no chance in a frozen hell of coming to warm her bed? Is sex a need? Yes, it is. And the absence of it leads to a maelstrom of a kind of tornado, to whip her away from this lonely life. Adieu, my dear friends. I have loved u much, but not in the sexual meaning of that word.

One last rumination: unfulfilled love and sex may lead to emotional eating, perhaps at times uncontrollably, in substitution for that which must be had, and cannot be. It is ineffective coping, but many will understand this sentiment. And cry.