Well, here we r: 2023 A.D.

This annual ritual of celebrating the holiday season is getting boring to me, even tho I too like the eating of Thanksgiving much,

the over months long search 4 appropriate gifts 4 our nearest and dearest family & friends, and then finally ringing in a New Year w parties, drinking, dancing, maybe a feast, and generally merry making w a kiss at midnight, if we have a partner so inclined to be at our side. A proportion of couples will go further than a kiss at midnight, trying to make a baby for the New Year. But as the birth rate has fallen precipitously in these United States of America, and concomitantly the immigration rate, legal that is, has also dropped massively, because of politics, we have an aging population that is increasingly drawing benefit payments from Social Security, in large numbers, because of the aging Baby Boomer population, without a correspondingly high rise in the younger workers we need to offset those monthly payments.

Add in a larger cohort of people now who r also permanently disabled, who managed to qualify for Social Security Disability, which has a high bar to entry, and must present copious medical evidence of why u cannot do substantive work anymore, in the occupation(s) u have done before. Psychiatric diagnoses also count in this evaluation as well. If u r a nut job and can prove it to a judge, w legal representation, u may get your monthly check, frequently paid out in a huge lump sum initially, because it often takes years to collect your 1st payment, after filing and being refused, which is customary for about 96% of all eventual recipients.

We cannot have people faking their disabilities, and they must be sufficiently severe in number and severity, such that the former occupation is no longer feasible as a way to make a living for the person so afflicted. U need stacks of medical records to convince them that u can no longer do that job anymore, or even any reasonable accommodation thereof. I am not the only person I know who eventually secured the SSD (Disability) ruling, back in May 2018, it began for me, but dated back to December 2014 actually, to date when my disability was legally determined to begin. So my wait was actually 4 years long to get that approval, as u go further back and can only file when u have not worked for 6 months long, due to the alleged disability. When I was approved, they owed me in excess of $38,000 in back payments, for those almost 4 years wait. Medicare began 4 me immediately upon approval also, and I took all that it offered me, including Part D, prescription drug coverage, and a plan by AARP, American Association of Retired Persons, which covers deductibles and co-insurance payments not covered by original Medicare. U still have to pay over and above these amounts tho, in co-pays, and I keep my receipts annually, to add up in the New Year, for my accountant.

Every year feels like rituals repeated, but it’s ok. We do change over time also. Even if we have predictable bowel habits! I can guarantee u what approximate time it takes me to go to the lavatory every single morning of my life, and am envied for my regularity! Such r the considerations of advancing age…when do u move your bowels?! How often? Is it a full movement? My Yiddish language comes in mind, screaming “Oy vey!” (Which means, roughly, do u have to detail this 4 me?! I don’t want to know!) I do my “Oy veys” a lot these days, therefore, as u might imagine, being so expressive, and so succinct, at the same time. I like that. I acknowledge my Jewish cultural upbringing as a rich one, varied, and asserting itself even more forcefully as I age, even while I pay my homage to my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I see no contradiction in being both Christian and Jewish, actually, but I am unlike others: I call myself hybrid, much as Jesus Himself was, in this life He led in the flesh once upon a time. I also cite karma often to my friends, that which u do to others or 4 them, is coming back 2 u, often multiples of your acts of harm or kindness. I firmly believe that u know men and women by the fruits of their acts, as it says in the Bible.

I have been exceedingly blessed in this life, and recognize it daily, gratefully, doing my utmost to pay it forward to others, because what did I do to deserve the Lord’s favor? I do not know how I was this blessed, but I resolve to do good for my fellow man, in general, like w donations for natural disasters, support for worthy, vetted charities, educational institutions, health care organizations, social services orgs, fighting hunger, etc. I also help support my dear friends, whom I consider my actual family these days. I am particularly proud of having gotten two friends out of life & health threatening emotional and physical abuse situations, by providing funds that enabled them to establish separate living quarters from their abusers. This is life changing stuff, that makes it better for them and their children as well, who were also suffering.

When I will have to account for my life acts before my Final Judgment, I will acknowledge my mistakes and omissions, but also point to those things that changed lives for the better. Even when the situations continue w the abusers, in some fashion, at least it is better to have a place of solace, away from that man who caused harm, a place of refuge, of peace and quiet. A time and place to regroup. No more beatings, emotional torture that leads to serious physical illness/maladies, that over time will lead to life threatening conditions like cancer. One cannot keep being emotionally tortured without it affecting one’s health, permanently. And that is especially true when one is in one’s 50’s. It is a vulnerable life stage, that decade. I have also done other things too: provided for people’s homes, upgrading them, repairs, providing funds for cars, that were necessary to get around in certain types of towns, because mass transit is not functional 4 them. And the vacations, events like concerts to hot performers, Broadway and West End shows, countless gourmet meals, spa services, because that’s good 4 u too, gifts…and paying for pet care, medical expenses, home repairs, a whole plethora of support, that comes from the heart.

The good u do 4 others is coming back 2 u too, at least tenfold, in my experience. But beware also the ides of March, which is to not malign March, but alas, recall that karma is also a bitch to those who do ill to others. Lots of criminals and evildoers forget that. But Rod Serling knew it well: another cherished ritual each New Year is watching some of The Twilight Zone, which aired around 1960, and went on for many years that decade. An evil man will reap what he has sowed, and that goes for women too.

The Psychology of Diamonds

What kind of title is this?! There is no psych to buying diamonds! But in fact there is, as many men lack the knowledge of the symbolism of diamonds to the women in their lives. As 4 me, it’s particularly convoluted, my coveting them as much as I do: it goes back to a father who was stingy w family resources, and that included anything that was a want, not a need. Dad was loathe to buy even an oil seascape painting to decorate our living room bare walls…much less something costly like a diamond. So the more u couldn’t get something like that, the more u wanted it. U know that old life trope, wanting is more pleasing than having, right? But yet u seek that which is rare, beautiful, and indicative of strong love…as a child who had not enough love from dear old Dad, as he was unaffectionate…and withholding of many things…so the desire of diamonds grew as I grew up. An exception was dear old Mom’s engagement ring tho: Dad had his mother pick it out and pay for it too, and she understood how important a symbol it had to be, to show how her son, my Dad, was a man making good money, thus a good catch…and to cement the marriage to come. Who knew that this beautiful 2 carat ring w begets on the sides, was going to go for $2800 some 20 years later, or so, after the divorce? Mom’s mother took it to the Diamond District in Manhattan to sell it, as money was more necessary at that time than this beloved symbolic ring, of a marriage dissolved. Mom and I both cried at the losses, and the recriminations inherent in a bad divorce settlement. The engagement ring was just one more casualty. But while my parents had had the love of their marriage, it was a particularly beautiful thing to behold. And so rich looking, because Grandma Frieda knew of how it spoke volumes about how serious a man was, and how he was a catch also. And how it would seem to the woman receiving the gift as well. So it had to be big, as close to flawless as possible, round cut, nice clear color. I remember it, even now, so many years later.

But diamonds can be given in other forms than the quintessential engagement ring. And have been, in time immemorial…especially by my mother, to me, because she also understood the power of diamonds, to show love to someone, unconditionally, in gratitude for services given, or just for being a good daughter. Repeatedly, my mom bought me different jewels, over the years that she had some money, from an inheritance from dear Aunt Rae…of which I was the executrix of that estate, beginning November 1997, when she passed away. So many beautiful things including from Tiffany’s, earrings, rings containing clear diamonds of superior quality…which had the effect of flabbergasting me w their extraordinary beauty. But no engagement ring was acceptable, not from my mom, of course not…it had to be from a man who would come to love me, some day in the future…still hoping, and waiting on that one…but ok, I am still free to do as I please! No controlling behaviors of men in my life. I observed this this past weekend too: a man w his long time girlfriend, who lives w him, and he clearly controlled her behavior: he indicated when it was time to leave the restaurant, even tho she clearly wanted to go home, which was a long distance away. And it was getting late to go back to Massachusetts at 7:15pm…and he drives too fast also. Yup, to be controlled is not desirable. U r ignored as to your own desires, especially irritating because it has to do w safety. This girlfriend was wearing a diamond cocktail type ring w blue sapphires flanking the center diamond. I took pix of it, wondering if it was a cheap engagement ring, but I concluded it wasn’t. I didn’t think it appropriate to ask.

A man who was trying to claim me in 2010, was a nurse’s aide at a hospital, actually caring for my father at the time, in the Bronx, and he said he would take me to a jewelry store the next day, to go get an engagement ring…but I saw the light of him, and ran away, that same night, from a Yonkers hotel…as he was scheming, and I saw it for what it was. Good riddance! No ring, but better off without it and him. And then, over the years, I amassed quite a collection of jewelry, of many interesting things, eclectic, beautiful, from many parts of the world as well…as some dear friends have a jewelry store they manage in New Canaan, CT, a tony New England town, so pretty to look at in the holiday season…and I often find things to love there, and do buy. I am lucky to have some very rare pink diamonds from them, in a ring, several years ago bought at a great price! Other beauties as well. One day, my jewelry will be divvied up by my executrix, who will consult a listing which is incomplete, of jewelry that has been appraised, and who should get what, but at her discretion. And if she chooses, she can even sell the whole kit and kaboodle, to have cash on hand, to operate the condominium, and pay the monthly common charges due, before it gets sold off itself. It takes some time to empty an apartment of many belongings, sell off what isn’t wanted, and prepare the condo for sale, so it looks good to prospective buyers. I know of all this, as I have been an executrix repeatedly in my own life. It’s a lot of work! I served for 5 different relatives. None of these people owned their own apartments, or were in need of relinquishing real estate, at the time of passing. I merely became a landlady upon my father’s passing. Co-owner w uncle Sidney. One day, my cousin Glenn took over Sidney’s estate, and then we decided that we were going to sell off the considerable real estate holdings that the 3 of us owned, at that point. And Glenn’s son and daughter also had a piece of it too, to help w their college costs, a smaller percentage.

But back to diamonds. This desire is deep, to have the love of my life, who is but a figment…give me that love that is wanted above all things, because love is life after all….and the most important thing in life. Without love, the flower withers, and dies. The flower is my heart and soul, which hopes for the love of my life, and gives it hope to go on…as this desire is my way of going on, for time immemorial, unending, infinite love, like the babbling brook, ageless & evergreen. Like a diamond. There is no better thing that elicits tears of joy, to love and be loved, mutually. But in the meantime, there will always be diamonds, which r forever, as sung by Shirley Bassey, in a James Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever.” Or Carol Channing singing “Diamonds r a Girl’s Best Friend.” Yup. In loving memory of mom, who gave me so many of them, dainty and beautiful, kept till my dying breath, 4ever. These pictures show the young lady w the live in boyfriend, who was visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, and the butterfly diamond ring was bought this weekend from my good friends in New Canaan. Her diamond ring looks not quite blue sapphire at the sides now, see? What stones r they? Guess we won’t know. The babbling brook is near my house in Forest Hills.

Of Menses, of Being a Woman

I kissed a boy and I liked it! Both then, in the past, and now, far in the future. The kisses differed, but were reminiscent, and heartfelt this time. Back then, probably just horny teens. Way far back, under a song like “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” I had many troubles as a youth, even thinking myself pregnant as a teenager, and never actually finding out if I was. I was however in crisis then, and contemplated suicide, because it was just impossible, the guy I was with then, being unsuitable for matrimony, and myself being merely 16 years old at the time. I had a playbook ahead of me, and having a baby then clearly did not fit.

So I guess myself somewhat lucky that a stranger I called in the Bronx, randomly dialing an exchange in Co-Op City, I told this stranger my story, and why it was good for me to die right then and there, because of the violence in my home, the alcoholism, the poverty, the struggles, the mold, bad housing, regular leaks flooding, ceilings falling down, posing risks to life and limb, and I might have been pregnant w a guy who was two-timing me, at the time. A neighborhood guy w no prospects either. It was getting to be a ghetto already, back in 1980. The kind stranger convinced me not to commit suicide. A few days later, my period did arrive, but it was unlike any period I had ever had, w hemorrhaging going on, and I was scared. To this day, I think that was my gift from God: a miscarriage. But again, it is not provable, because I did not seek medical care at the time. I think I was however pregnant maybe 3-4 weeks along, because of nausea, and increased pain in my body, increased appetite…things that signal pregnancy. And then, that big bleed that came, and lasted for 8 days long. My periods as a young woman were hellish tho, so u can’t really know. They were in fact irregular, coming not every month, and some were awfully heavy. I suffered a lot in being a woman in this life. All 4 naught: I never bore a child, not then, not ever. I had my period of fertility from April 1976 until May 2012, and menopause is counted officially one year later, w no more periods, done at age 49. It was all as well 4 me, as I said I had suffered a lot, during those years. I had even once fainted from blood loss, and was regularly anemic as well. I had tried to give blood often, but as often as not, I was too anemic to donate.

And the cramps! OMG. I was on industrial strength meds, and no Pamprin or Motrin would do 4 me. I was always way beyond the normal level of discomfort. At some point they put me on a drug that received a black box warning as dangerous to health, because of side effects: Bextra/ Valdecoxib. It was removed from the market voluntarily because of death effects of this drug, in 2005. So I escaped yet again, from a bad fate. I credit God watching me for saving me over and over again. But I did have very bad cramps, incapacitating pain, such that it might be impossible to go to work even. And drugs were the only way to make me function.

And so, my GYN history was checkered too: an ovarian cyst, that required surgery to remove, age 18; the uterine fibroid embolization, age 42; and another one, out of the blue: June 2020, uterine polyp removal under general anesthesia, outpatient at least, age 56. What more will hit me? Still a woman, always a woman to me…remembering Billy Joel’s song in concert, that one. This is the extent of my life’s surgeries to date, and even tho an embolization isn’t exactly surgery, it does kill the blood supply feeding an unwanted fibroid growth in the uterus. And fibroids make periods very heavy too, so there’s that connection too. Good riddance, I say! When u have periods like mine, u want them to die too, or mercifully stop. So if u look at it, I am somewhat fortunate how it played out. Don’t pity me my childlessness. It is far better that I dote on my friends’ kids, as the loving aunt figure, and have none of the responsibility of child rearing. I am free! I can spend time as I wish, photographing sunsets around the world, seeing shows, concerts, movies, taking a swim, a walk, a beach w the rolling waves…and give thanks for having made it this far, w a group of loving friends that both take and give in free measure, love and love, we all.

And there’s always another homemade lasagna waiting to serve my peeps. Thanksgiving is this coming week, and I always give thanks to my dear friends, who r my de facto family. I even explained the holiday in Spanish to our cab driver on the way to the airport in Puerto Vallarta, just yesterday. What it means to us, and what we give thanks for. We have much to be grateful for, and on the top of that list, is love given and returned, by some dear people I call friends as family. Love y’all! And do take care of yourselves too, so we can have some more years ahead. I am hankering for Aruba again and that lovely holiday season w u all.

The Grand European Tour: By Rivers

I have been never so busy w travel as this year, 2022! It started in my perennial favorite Atlantic City, NJ, in the beginning of May, and I go there usually twice annually. I have to maintain my Gold status at my favorite hotel, in order to use their Amphora Lounge, which gives u all u can eat and drink, alcoholic beverages too, for a mere $12.50 per person, but only 2 person limit per party. And that $12.50 is payable by your compensatory dollar balance from gaming, so it’s just a bonus to eat and drink like that: the food is really good, and occasionally, I like to get an Amaretto Sour. But I also go annually to the Star Trek Cruise, which runs from late February to early March, usually. So that one preceded, and every year, we get new ports of call on that voyage. This year, we went to Nassau, the Bahamas, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands & Philipsburg, St Maarten via the Orlando FL area, by Cape Canaveral. I always go ahead of the cruise as well, in order to escape NY winter more, and just relax.

This year however has been quite unprecedented, as the pandemic changes were coming due: some reimbursements and deals were expiring this year, or else u forfeit the value offered. So I was loathe to lose my prior on call monies in London, Royal Caribbean, and other trips postponed, one of them since 2018 even! The result was I was only at home for short stretches of time, sometimes as little as 1 week between trips. I went to a panoply of nations, several never before seen, others just favorites of the past. Here it went, both solo and also w other dear friends:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland: 2 hotels, on land only, a week there; June 2022. Solo.
  2. Edinburgh, Scotland: on land, The Glasshouse Hotel; June to July, w Vandy/Brad. Demanding excursions.
  3. Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden, w 5 countries in total, on trip, Cruise w Viking Star; w Susan, Max & Marna. We covered 3 weeks total, partly on land also, w pre- and post-cruise extensions. July into August. Countries: also Denmark, Poland & Germany. And we stopped at London Heathrow Airport on both ways, to transfer flights. Some demanding excursions, again.
  4. London, United Kingdom, England, on land only, w Vandy & Brad, a theater trip principally. Aug.
  5. Atlantic City, NJ: 6 days, same hotel, solo, beginning of Sept.
  6. Royal Caribbean Cruise to New England and 2 maritime provinces of Canada, solo. Went to St John, New Brunswick, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Boston, Portland & Bar Harbor, Maine. Mid to late Sept.
  7. Fishkill & Wappingers Falls, NY: visiting Susan & Max w Marna too, a weekend get together, Sept.
  8. Viking Aegir River Cruise from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to ending Budapest, Hungary, w post-cruise extension in Budapest. Solo. All 17 days in October. Other countries: Germany & Austria. They call it The Grand European Tour, and it was. Again, some demanding excursions, for me, who isn’t in fit condition.

Yet to come:

  1. DFW Airport Hotel 1 nt, then Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 7 nts, w John & Jerry, in November. Will be my 1st time in that city in Mexico. On land.
  2. Fishkill & Wappingers Falls, NY for annual Christmas gathering w Susan & Max, family & friends. Dec.
  3. South Salem, NY & New Canaan, CT: gathering w Vandy & Brad, for Thanksgiving. Nov.
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada: w Marna, for New Years; Dec. into Jan. On land.
  5. Star Trek the Cruise 6, plus Los Angeles area trip, mid-Feb into early March 2023. Solo, but I have CA friends on board the ship whom I socialize with. Also, Long Beach, CA + Beverly Hills, CA preceding cruise, on land, 2 hotels. Ports of call r Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan & Puerto Vallarta, all in Mexico.
  6. Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Cruise, Feb, w Susan, to Orlando, Miami, Nassau, the Bahamas & Perfect Day at Coco Cay, via Cape Liberty, in Bayonne, NJ port. Feb 2023. 8 days.
  7. Viking Sky Cruise solo, April to May, Italian Sojourn, w ports in Italy & also Croatia. Going to parts never visited in person on this one, including the city of Venice, Sicily, Messina, Bari, Crotone, Sibenik, Lake Maggiore, Como, Milan Airport also. 11 days total.

Yeah, I am living my best life thus, as I want to do as much as I am able, while I can. I am aware that your endurance and strength, health all change over time, especially when u aren’t in fit condition. But I do well, considering my limitations. I come back frankly exhilarated from most of these trips, amazed at what I accomplished. It’s remarkable, and much appreciated. Come look at some of the Grand European Tour pictures here. I have literally 1000’s of pictures, on both cell and on my trusty Canon camera.

So there r literally too many pictures on the Canon, some 1944 of them! Just from this trip, in datings from 10/6 to 10/18. I get disappointed about little things, like a video that didn’t upload to Facebook, from this musical scene at Marienplatz in Munich, Germany…because it would have been nice to share that. The bells ringing was quite fascinating to watch over the 10 minutes it did that, that day. We saw many parts of Germany never before seen also, although there was some duplication of ports, in the beginning: Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, both the Netherlands, and also Cologne, Koblenz, Germany. That was on the Rhine River, but then we diverged, to the Main River, then going to Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg port stop, on to Munich, Passau…and then to Austria, Scharding, Melk & Krems, Vienna, then on to Budapest, including some countryside, Szentendre, an open air museum called Skanzen, w animals on site as well…and a special ending folklore dinner in Budakeszi, which took a while to get to, on the night before we left on a red eye flight, into London, at 7:10am. I was so excited that I couldn’t even sleep that night, after getting back to the hotel. From the Main River w its many locks, we then entered the famous Danube River. Yup, it’s a good life overall, even w some limitations.

I know this is a privileged life, and am very grateful to both God and my beloved ancestors whose hard work made it possible. At least someone lived to enjoy it. I am also following my ancestors on these trips, as many of these countries r in my own genetic heritage, as enumerated by 23andme 1st, then ancestry.com. I feel the spirits of my ancestors sometimes too, on these voyages. And I give thanks always, but all honor and praise be to my Lord, from whom all these blessings flow. Amen.

Reflections of Self: Progeny

It may be trite to say that we r innately bred to procreate, no matter our sexual identity or fluidity thereof, even in today’s mishmash of teaching children in school, from ages 5 to 9, as in kindergarten to 3rd grade, about how we express ourselves in gender identity. This is a recent development in the USA, in defiance of historical norms of what it is to be functioning as a male or female in society. We see the nomenclature as saying “non-binary” and record numbers of older children r embracing the fluidity of being neither sex, as in ambiguous. So now u have to be even more specific as in sexual identity, and have public rest rooms that define not by one’s sexual organs, but rather what sex a person feels he is inwardly. So we have seen non-denominated rest rooms in public, in New York City, that admit people w opposite sex organs even, in the name of the rights and freedom of the “non-binary.”

One can almost see why this group is so misunderstood and even frequently rejected. Do u want your teenage daughter in a high school locker room changing for athletic practice in front of someone who has male genitalia, also stripping? It gets problematic for the girls, the person who has not transitioned, and their respective parents as well. I feel for everyone so encumbered, myself, but I am blissfully free of such considerations, not having had children of my own. But I bring this up as a case in point presently, as a social issue, because my point today is to look at the desire to reproduce, and what effect this has on one’s life meaning, and also when one has accomplished said goal, by having a baby, what does that mean later, as that child grows up, and also becomes an adult…my question today is: R we hard wired to reproduce in order to achieve our own immortality thru our children, and our grandchildren, and so on, as time goes on? Do these succeeding generations extend our own lives by the example we have given, and the values we have taught? Or does each generation move further away from us, in terms of lifestyle and ways of life? Do u feel any connection to your grandparents, or your great grandparents, if u were lucky to know them, at all? And what influence do aunts and uncles or cousins, have, if any? R we unique or just an amalgamation of our own life experiences?

In my own life, an interesting anecdote emerges. My mother had a 1st daughter, out of wedlock, in 1957, and was forced to give up said daughter in adoption, and was to bear the shame and ignominy of having borne said child, the rest of her life, in the eyes of her shamed parents, even tho she managed to marry and bear a 2nd daughter, in the traditional way, which was me. She married her gentleman, and I was borne a respectable 1 year and 4 months later. In those years, it was an outrage to find oneself pregnant and unmarried, effectively abandoned by the father of the child. So my grandparents sent my mother out of the home even, to work in a kind of halfway house, in Staten Island, until her pregnancy came to its conclusion. And she complied w the house rules, and gave that daughter up, having no means of her own to support said child. It was a bitter time for my mother then, at a mere age 21. Many years later, as I was approaching my own 42nd birthday, we made 1st contact w that 1st daughter, mom and me, as she was also searching for us too, finally. Mom had named her Wendy at the hospital, and she had contact w her newborn a mere week before the adoption people whisked her away. For reasons of privacy, we shall refer to this woman as Wendy, even tho that is not her real life name.

We found out that Wendy had had a good life after being adopted, and grew up in Queens, in Bayside, and was also raised w a naturally born brother, to her adoptive parents. She grew up to be many things, of which one could be proud, but she was also gay, and I became this bridge to reconciliation between her and my mother, who was Wendy’s birth mother. My mother had a negative reaction to knowing that she had a natural daughter who was gay, because she felt like that had a reflection on her, in terms of genetics, or whatever it is that confers “ownership” of one’s children, even tho in fact no parent owns their child, but is merely given temporary custody of it by God. So I had to convince my mother that in no way does a child’s sexual identity flow from his or her genes, even tho that may be not entirely true scientifically. The jury’s still out on how much of sexual identity is genetically determined. There is a theory about birth order in boys born to a woman, and each succeeding boy has a greater chance of being gay, but that isn’t applicable here. In any case, I had a more modern take on how to treat an adult child who happens to be gay, and making that not a deal breaker for the relationship. I was successful w both Wendy and my mother, and we had a relationship together, all through those 8 years and 8 months that mom remained alive having both of us as her daughters.

But do u, my reading audience, who r parents, do u feel as if your children r little “Mini-Me” like in the Austin Powers movies? Do u merely want copies of yourself, or if not exact copies, instead some facsimile thereof? Do u feel like u go on infinitely, as long as your progeny hold on to some of your own values and traits, or even if there is some resemblance also? R they your key to the world, even after u have died? And if u get to have and know grandchildren, do they also reflect u, in who they r, and how they act, how they look? Is it primeval to our species to reproduce, and in the absence of it, to be sad, unfulfilled in a major life goal??

But then, there’s the obverse of the life coin too. What of it if your children do not have any kids of their own? Both I and my half sister lived out our lives without either bearing or adopting our own children, so did my parents fail because we did not reproduce?? Similarly, what of the parents who have had children w birth defects, major disabilities, or who had no chance to be considered desirable mates? I know of people who had no chance due to movement disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, craniofacial deformities, many textbooks of disorders that put them out of the running to find a mate, and reproduce…or going back to non-binary sexual identity, does that put them out of the running in order to have a baby? Who will reproduce w someone who is unclear about their own sexuality, or even the organs lined up correctly in order to facilitate that?

Sadly, some non-binary persons find themselves the victims of hatred and wind up killed even, or by suicide, and an over-prevalence of substance abuse disorders, which can become a means of suicide also. They absorb the hatred in society for that which is rejected and foreign. I personally wish people peace, freedom of expression, and tolerance for all. But I also have some semblance of having absorbed the lesson in my own culture that to not have reproduced is to have failed in life. Even if I reject that teaching as antiquated and hateful rhetoric of past generations of my ancestors. I know my life has had meaning even without having done these things. But u cannot escape your deeply held values either. So they coexist in my person.

I will go out of this life as some semblance of my parents, even some of my grandparents too, as in abilities that I have, and recognize that the line ends here. No more of my branches of the family tree. Even if it goes on w cousins I have, for which I am grateful. And some undesirable genetic traits also die w me, and that is a good thing, because I would not have wanted to pass them on either. I love children too much to inflict that on them. I pray for the next generation, that they be blessed and luckier than I have been. Even if I am greatly blessed in some other things as well.

And one final thought too: if your children have become doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, chemists, physicists, or mass murderers, serial rapists, arsonists, kidnappers, terrorists, does that also reflect on u as parents?? Have u provided the environment and seeds by which your children have become what they r?? And many permutations in between: what of the kids who never leave their parents’ home, who fail to grow up, who refuse to take responsibility? Those who had no chance ever because of racism in society, prevalent attitudes, historical incidents that wipe out communities, like war zones, or genocide, or teeming masses of illegal immigrants…many have had no chance from the get go, because of the color of their skin, or their having been born as a minority in a land that has no rights, but instead fascist dictatorship…a million little things go into the mix of a single life lived on Earth. And here I am, graphing out mine in pieces on a blog. Thanks for your time.

I heard on the news on the night of April 26th a real life incident/crime in Bridgeport, Connecticut: an 8 yr old boy who was neighbors w a 6 yr old boy, who had a history of bullying incidents w the younger boy, but who was also not disciplined as to how to stop doing that, a failure of parenting, in my opinion, had now committed a severe crime, an atrocity. The 8 yr old escalated it, by taking in hand a tennis ball soaked in gasoline, drenching the younger boy w the ball, and lit him on fire w a lighter, which resulted in 2nd and 3rd degree burns on the little boy, over his legs and his entire face…and the victimized family have started a GoFundMe, 4 lack of health insurance, and also needing to move away from the bully child who is a criminal now, but also not yet arrested, due to his age. And the parents of this 8 yr old perpetrator r also not being held responsible either! So r these parents responsible for not disciplining their bully child, and how did he become such a child? No child becomes such in a vacuum. But perhaps some sociopathic people start young, and that too can be genetic. My prayers r with the victim and his family. He will never be the same again, as even skin grafting leaves behind disfigurement, and frequently, also disability.

My paternal grandparents, Frieda & Herman.
My maternal grandparents Esther, Harold and my mom Harriett.
The Newmans together: Robert, Julianne, Maria, me, Glenn, Mark & Marilyn.
At our home in Queens, “Wendy,” me and mom Harriett.

Life Wisdom & Admonitions

Having reached a certain age and having taken considerable stock of my health and habits, I have some advice 4 u folks who think that u r too young to think about such things. Remember that every possible day u live could be your last. Keep in mind war-torn Ukraine, and despots who r crazed to even ignite World War III, before u dismiss the possibility. Also, keep in mind weather catastrophic events, even those that have hit near u, or your area, causing loss of life, devastation. Or the lunatic near u who is homeless and has a knife or a gun, or just doesn’t like how u look at him…all of these situations present danger. And even today, endemic COVID-19 1813 deaths on March 9, in the USA alone…take stock and be aware. U need to prepare if u have anyone who really counts on u. To not do so is to abdicate caring about someone, as u can leave and leave a bad legacy 4 your spouse and minor children, if u do nothing. So here is my heart thoughts and having witnessed plenty of devastation in my life already, in these almost 58 years now….

  1. If u r living with someone and r not married, but in a committed relationship, consider whether your joint home is yours, if u don’t have joint deed ownership of the property, or if u rent it. Will u be able to continue occupancy if your partner dies? In fact, in my lifetime, aunt Rae was living w uncle David, and because they were unmarried, the landlord took it upon himself to say that when David died (he had a brain tumor, inoperable), Rae was going to have no leg to stand on in order to continue renting the rent stabilized apartment they shared in Manhattan. So Rae had to get a clergyperson quickly to marry them in order to continue occupancy. Never mind that David was incoherent and unable to give consent to the marriage, it happened anyway, w great embarrassment to those assembled in their apartment, myself among them. Rae continued to live in such apartment until her own death in 1997.
  2. Execute a health care proxy and get consent from whom u intend to designate as your agent to make health care decisions. In the absence of a spouse, or parent, or adult child, u need to designate someone, and think about what u want done or not done, in order to preserve life, or what things r unacceptable 2 u. And write it down, also, w a witness, and preferably by a lawyer, or a/k/a a “living will.” U have to face that u may become incapacitated suddenly, or over time, due to dementia. If u r becoming forgetful as u age, that is your clue that u r approaching the time when u may need such documents and advanced directives. Best to have 2 agents, just in case one is unable to do it 4 u also.
  3. U may also need a general Power of Attorney (POA) to execute in case u cannot pay your bills, due to death, in which case your will and last testament comes into play, or if incapacitated, then your general POA is applicable. U don’t want to have your home in foreclosure or credit rating damaged in case something unexpected happens. U need someone u can trust financially, so cultivate close friends, or scope out trustworthy relatives…hopefully, u won’t need to pay a lawyer in order to do these things at hundreds of dollars per hour…
  4. If u r very isolated, w neither close friends nor family that is trustworthy, then u may need to pay someone in order to assume such duties 4 u. And when that is the case, u may be at risk of losing any assets u may have, as the person will get custodianship over u, and may decimate your hard fought for fortune. So it’s important to be a good person, recognize that no man is an island, and cultivate these caring, committed relationships that r worthy, who will look out 4 your best interests, and not become grifters, thieves, or worse. When that day comes that u realize that no one is committed 2 u, and u have no one to look after u or your best interests, then u recognize that your life has been an utter failure. I only cite karma in my daily teachings.

I know of both friends and family who r in jeopardy currently, and have no one who will look out for their best interests. The person who lives w you, who won’t marry u, is effectively saying that they do not care what happens 2 u after they r gone…even unto homelessness. U have no claim to their apartment or house, and by that date, u may not have any parents to take u in…and u may not have a job, or may have become disabled, living on savings…and your children may be estranged…or u may never have had any. There r a million permutations to personal chaos. I have reminded u today just in case u r living on such a precipice, not confronting same. Get people into your life who buttress your existence, or else u r lost.

One last happy note: my dear friend M. did finally sign up 4 life insurance, because she has a minor child and also a disabled husband. Bravo, M! U took the steed by the horns this time. Next stop is that custody arrangement 4 her child, who is presently 13 yrs old. A last will and testament is necessary. Just to show love and concern. No one knows the day or the hour of their death, so pray, and make preparations, in order to establish control. U can only do that while u still have your wits! And also, have an actuary estimate your life expectancy while u r at it…if u r heavy, smoke, take narcotics, drink to excess, etc…your lifetime is apt to be less than u think. Also, evaluate your stress level as well. Altogether, u can self-estimate given your own parents’ lifetimes and age at death…and extrapolate your own remaining time. And an extra caveat is that COVID is not the last pandemic we shall ever see…and it took many people way before their time would have been, in its absence. Keep that in mind too. And long COVID also caused both cerebral and coronary damages as well as pulmonary, of which we shall see many co-morbidities arise in the intervening years after 2020…and psychiatric is only one of them. It’s way later than most people think.

PREP NOW or else u abdicate control and caring!

The Lady Diana Spencer (A/k/a Princess Diana)

I have just finished watching a brilliant film called “Spencer” and it has prompted me to write about this much loved “People’s Princess.” No wonder the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has chosen Ms Kristen Stewart as a nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Bravo! We who r American used to adore the Princess and liken it to a fairy tale life, to be swept up into the arms of the man who would be King someday, Prince Charles. And she had it all, we imagined: the breeding, the exceptional beauty, excellent figure, to have captured the Prince’s fancy! Ahhh, but all that glitters is not gold, as we have observed. We have familiarized ourselves w the damned tabloids, and the paparazzi, even unto death, death in a limousine, by a drunken chauffeur, chased even then in Paris, to her death at a tender age of 36 years…

But Spencer does not deal w the later years. It is a study of a short period when William was about 12 years old as the elder son. And Harry is there too, 2 years younger, and Diana is unraveling in front of the royal family, and the servants r spreading how the Princess is going insane, w self-abuse, including self-cutting, the bulimia, the moods, even looking at horrible dreams, of the past, of Anne Boleyn, contemplating suicide, hatred of the wretchedness of being unwanted, and knowing her husband is getting away w the affair of his heart, while still married to her. It is a veritable destruction of the self, as barbed wires get cut, in a kind of escape to a home she used to have…now boarded up, uninhabited, w a rat the only live thing within. Comparing oneself to a pheasant, so pretty w its feathers, about to be served up as dinner! This is the Diana we see in the film, and it is stark, and melancholy. We can imagine being in a gilded cage, waiting to be guillotined by the rules, the schedules, the unholy monotony of it all, and never an escape!

I think that this performance is worthy of the Oscar, but I have yet to see Penelope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers.” I am reminded of this lousy trait we tend to have, and dislike in ourselves for having it: schadenfreude, which is a joy we get in seeing other people suffer some fate that we begrudge them. As if we r all envious of he who gets things that we cannot. So we want to see them suffer in their situation. No one is entitled to everything after all! And the royal life is wholly apart from any life we live, that is certain. All that art, crowns, servants, Rolls Royces, wheel on the right, fabulous couture, even gigantic pearls upon that dainty neck, so beautiful, rare and yet despised all the same, because Charles gave it to Camilla as well as Diana. At the same time! As if mocking her.

Royal watchers: be sure to eat up this film, as it’s a gobsmacked dessert of rarest fillings and fluff. And u may have a side of schadenfreude w it too, one lump or two. I miss her too, the real Princess. Signed her book placed in Harrod’s at some point after she died, w my condolences to the Royals for their loss. There is a lovely garden in her memory in Hyde Park, London. We visited that too, me and 2 friends, all Americans visiting London, a favorite city. I found myself thinking of Prince Harry, w Meghan his American wife, living in the USA now, w their 2 children, and imagining it is very hard to be Prince Harry, looking at this film, which tho fictional, uses elements from Diana’s life as it actually was, and finding it painful to dissect the trap Diana found herself in, to be tied to basically no one except her sons, and a fired but rehired servant, and they all clamp down on her, like a rat in a trap actually, dour faces w disapproval coming in waves of torment…I feel for Harry. He lives in this country now, and it does differ greatly from the life he had before. And he must find a way to reconcile the history w the truth.

He will not let Meghan suffer the fate that almost befell Diana, from which there was no real escape at one point, but perhaps suicide. May the Princess rest in peace and her descendants find a way to exist within the confines of that gilded cage. And the song by the Boomtown Rats is playing in the background, very apt for this movie, tho not in it: “I Don’t Like Mondays.”

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.