Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Search of...the state of our union

The President gave his annual State of the Union address last night, and despite my snarky jibes about Democrats and Replublicans sitting side by side, eating Smoores and singing Kumbaya, it in fact was a different tone than any other State of the Union that I can remember.

Contrary to the catchphrase that the administration wanted to parlay into its choice soundbite, "winning the future," I thought there was a better phrase - "We do big things." Yes, it is hard to say in the face of our current economic hardships that the state of our union is strong. It would be ridiculous to look at our failing public schools and say that our future looks bright. Or that with the recent events in Tucson, that we can feel safe and secure even under the most innocuous of circumstances.

So the President did what he was needed to do - he set out to motivate, encourage, and inspire us to reach for something greater, to aspire to big things. And though I have been in a bit of a funk lately, I found myself wanting to soak up his optimism. I'm not sure whether it's because I believed him when he said that America was "not just a place on a map, but a light to the world," or because I merely wanted to believe him. But I believe that he believes it, and for now, that must be enough for me.

I don't pretend to think this new era of faux civility will last in Washington. I don't pretend to think that John Boehner will be enjoying a happy hour with Nancy Pelosi any time soon - although I do imagine that John Boehner has enjoyed many a happy hour. Yes, I can only hope that some increment of statesmanship will find its way back to what used to be a truly civil enterprise in Washington. I hope that somehow, somewhere we can find common ground for the sake of our common good.

So it's a new day, and here's hoping that it's one of untold promise and unexpected opportunities. Here's knowing that the state of our union is as strong as its people are resilient, and to that extent, it could go either way. Here's to a day when we sit side by side, not for show, but because we really want to. Yeah, yeah, I know...Kumbaya, love is all you need, and God Bless America.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Search of...a Monday blog

It’s the day before the State of the Union address, and I thought it would be a good time to set aside partisan politics and…oh, who am I kidding? We are not setting aside anything. It’s a sham, a ruse, a momentary dramatization of a cohesive country that can set aside its differences. But in truth, as the economic gap widens and the middle class disappears, we cannot set aside our differences, nor should we. For as long as the rich get good healthcare and the poor die, or the heterosexuals have the monopoly on marriage, or opposing views to corporate greed get fired from nightly news programs, we are not living in a cohesive or a truly free country.

I was going to blog today about how much more I like American Idol this season, how refreshing it is to see people in the judges’ seats who have accomplished the very thing that they are judging. I was going to say that I’m happy Blue Bloods was switched to a more visible night and time slot, even though I have to suspend a lot of belief to think that one family can in and of itself solve all the crimes in New York City and protect its citizens. I was going to reiterate how The Good Wife is still the finest hour of television that there is, and how the new show Fairly Legal is cute but the lead actress is more believable as a lingerie model in her stilettos than a mediator.

Yes, it’s frigid here on the east coast, and I am longing for something to warm me on a core level. I am seeking a modicum of fairness in an unfair world, of karma coming home to roost. I am wanting the meek to friggin’ inherit the earth already!

Perhaps there is a pill to make me feel better about Keith Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC, or give me the desire to leave my house instead of wanting to curl up in a little ball. I have not found that yet. No, instead I am watching, reading, and listening to motivational people in the hopes that they will, well, motivate me to get up off the couch and try to make a difference.

So perhaps it’s best for me not to comment on the state of our union. Still and yet, I do have running water, indoor plumbing and garbage removal, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Plus, I woke up this morning, so that’s a good thing right there. And I don’t have to wear a burka See, the world’s looking better already.

So as Democrats and Republicans sit side by side tomorrow night, roasting smoores and singing Kumbaya while listening to the President speak, I will hold out the hope that it is the dawn of a new era in which we will create a level playing field for everyone. Ah yes, hope springs eternal, even for the cynic in me.

Happy Monday to you all. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, January 14, 2011

In Search of...the right way to mourn

So there I sat last night looking at the open coffin of a man I called Uncle Vinny. No, I don’t actually have an Uncle Vinny, but my friend Anthony does, and since I’ve spent so much time over so many years with his entire family, including Uncle Vinny, I thought it only right to pay my respects.

There were many things that struck me about this wake, but the most overwhelming was the decibel level. It was LOUD. The room was overflowing with family and friends, and none seemed intent on keeping it somber. To the contrary, were it not for the absence of food, it could have been a party, which I’m sure Uncle Vinny would have loved. Oh, rest assured there will be time for solemnity and tears, but for a few hours, it seems more appropriate to reflect on a life that was joy-filled.

Of course, me being me, I had to ponder what I’d like my own funeral to be like. We Jews don’t have people hanging out in front of our coffins for a few days before burial. We’re more a “get ‘em in the ground right away” kind of people. Then there’s time for grieving and, of course, food.

I decided I would like music. Hell, if there’s any way people are going to remember me, shouldn’t it be with what I’ve spent the most time doing? Anthony was getting a little uncomfortable with my enjoyment of this pondering, but me, I like to be prepared.

Just the night before, President Obama spoke at the memorial service in Tucson, and the press had a field day offering up their invaluable opinion of even the minutest detail. I watched with my box of Kleenex at the ready. It was the first time I’d seen our President and First Lady that visibly moved, and I shared their tears. I thought the President’s words were brilliantly chosen, and while the pep rally vibe that the college students provided was a little distracting at first, I was okay with letting everyone be where and how they needed to be at this moment. After all, who am I to judge?

That brings me to the question of mourning. Despite the media’s attempt to give voice to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of anyone’s demeanor, grief is a very private business. Our obsession with voyeurism leads us to believe that there is a right way mourning should take place, but there are countless ways to grieve. Whether it is the loud wails of a newly widowed spouse, left to lead a life they never imagined alone, or the parents of a child who honor her by speaking of her virtues, and interests, and magnificence, or the silence of those for whom there are no utterances possible, they are all valid ways in which we each privately cope. I frequently choose to write, sobbing as I type, letting my tears imbue my words with meaning that surely they do not have on their own.

These are turbulent times we're living in, and I say whatever gets you through the day and on to the next one, that’s what you should do. So if you happen to be grieving right now for whatever reasons you are, I wish you comfort and solace and a return to lighthearted joy as soon as you're ready for it.

And as for Uncle Vinny, rest in peace. It was a pleasure knowing you.

Thanks for stopping by, dear readers. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In Search of...a Beatles song

Last night I went to see a Beatles tribute show on Broadway called Rain. I was certain there would be no plot to this show, and I was not disappointed.

In light of the past week's shooting rampage in Tucson, and more snow in New York, I wasn't really sure I could be enthusiastic about four guys who didn't look anything like the Beatles pretending to be John, Paul, George, and Ringo for a couple of hours. But I was wrong. It was exactly what I needed. In fact, I think it's what everyone needs in these troubling times.

As those of us who were assembled sang and danced along with song after familiar song, gleefully allowing ourselves to be transported to wherever it is each one of us individually wanted to go, I was able to take a deep breath for the first time since I don't know how long, and feel the sweet release of peace. Yes, music is better than any drug, and I'm sure the Beatles have tried most every drug. Music combines the seen and unseen worlds. It can uplift, inspire, comfort, and unite. What else does all of that at the same time? Nothing, I tell ya. Nothing.

So for a few brief moments I raised my voice with a room full of strangers to say things you never hear in today's cynical and snarky world - things like "give peace a chance" and "when all the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer - let it be." Yes, we all sang "we can work it out, " and "love is all you need," and "in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." And while it may be true that "yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away," it is also true that "we all want to change the world."

Whether a Beatles song brings you back to a time you remember fondly, or whether it simply makes you feel good, hopeful, and united with the brotherhood of man, whatever you seek can be found in the music and lyrics. So pull out your red and blue albums, and find your way to a moment's happiness in a crazy world.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Search of...meaning from the meaningless

So we’re a little over a week into the New Year and already someone has shot a Democrat in the head. Yes, the shooter was crazy, but that’s not the point. A crazy person bought a gun legally, which you can evidently do very easily in the great state of Arizona, and then he opened fire at a public gathering in Tuscon.

If you can just walk into a store and buy a gun legally, I’m not really sure we should feign surprise that an event like this occurred. It was really just a matter of when and not if, wasn’t it? And the ten year old who shot his mother with a rifle…again, really a surprise? What the hell was a loaded gun doing within grabbing distance of a ten year old? Take away the guns and you take away the gunshot victims. That’s my point.

And another thing, Sarah Palin, quit inciting violence overtly, subliminally, or any other which way. You can’t stand there and use the word “reload” and then deny that you are inciting violence. Just because you look pretty in a skirt on camera does not mask the ugliness which you embody by your choice of words and website pictures. I say that, of course, with all the love in my heart.

So here I am, in a world gone mad, clinging to the hope that some beauty can be found in the ashes - in the heroism of the man who sacrificed his own life to shield his wife from the gunman’s fire, or the people who tackled the shooter to stop him from killing more, or the nine year old girl born on 9/11 whose passion to get involved and help people motivated her to go meet a Congresswoman one fateful, tragic day.

If there is anything of value to cling to or to dwell on, let it be that for the one horrific, there was in the end the courageous, the righteous, the altruistic. The qualities we would like to think we possess, in fact, some of us do. And that is something which, in the wake of such staggering sorrow, can bring us all a little hope.

Thank you for stopping by. Please tell your friends.