“Mourning Celebrity Deaths” Club

“There have just been so many deaths this year,” I said to my therapist earlier this week as she tried to break me down and understand the root of my paralyzing fear of death.

“There are so many deaths every year,” she said, dismissing my statement. “It’s no different.”

Reflecting on the year, I’ve considered whether life seemed more intense because it was a leap year or because I was carefully documenting each dayThe list of celebrity deaths seem more prevalent than ever, but are we just chronicling and socially mourning more than ever?

It’s strange to mourn the death of someone you’ve never met, someone who you don’t depend on for your everyday life yet we collectively feel a dagger in the heart every time we get the CNN Breaking News alerts on our phones. Another death. Who now?

Yes, the potential for more “entertainment” from the celebrity is halted, but many of the deaths are of people who haven’t produced for many years. (At least David Bowie had the courtesy to leave us with one last album and Carrie Fisher was able to finish her Star Wars VIII scenes.) Yet our human tendency projects others’ dramas onto ourselves and somehow their deaths hold a mirror up to our own mortality.

Here is a comprehensive list of all 2016 Celebrity Deaths, but highlights include: 

David Bowie, 69

Alan Rickman, 69

Glenn Frey, 67

Garry Shandling, 66

Prince, 57

Muhammad Ali, 74

Elie Wiesel, 87

Garry Marshall, 81

Gene Wilder, 83

Leonard Cohen, 82

Florence Henderson, 82

Alan Thicke, 69

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99

Carrie Fisher, 60

Debbie Reynolds, 84

The media’s coverage of famous deaths can have us believing this year is worse than ever, but the real statistics tell us it’s all status quo on the rate of dead celebrities.

The way we grieve as a culture – within our local communities – or on the Internet is different now. Because of the abundance of over-sharing in our culture, we inadvertently partake in a public pity party with the invisible connections on the other end of our phones and keyboards. I’m not sure if it makes our personal grief lighter, but somehow we’ve taken on celebrity grief as real, even though their lack of physical presence will not actually affect our daily lives.

We’re not even sad for the dead person, we’re sad for ourselves; what was taken FROM us. As if we were entitled to them anyway, as if they were a possession. When our bodies depart this earth, who we’ve been stays behind. The us we’ve sprinkled into our partners, children, friends; through our creations and our jobs and contributions to our communities. The mark we leave behind will last longer than the time we have here.

We are a piece of meat flying on a rock in the middle of the galaxy. It’s a miracle we don’t explode and burst into dust. We can’t worry about the little things and certainly, celebrity deaths should be the easiest for us to tolerate. Notorious figures live on indefinitely in their art and in the ripple effect they have on the population as their fans absorb pieces of them by osmosis. We can’t leave actual pieces of our bodies behind and possessions will deteriorate eventually, but we can leave behind stories. We can leave behind memories. We can leave behind lessons. Celebrities are just the lucky ones who die with an eager audience waiting for their eternal endowment.

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“I Don’t Do Holiday Cards” Club

I don’t do holiday cards. I did once. No, twice. I feel the tug, though, as beautiful cards fill my mailbox. I desperately want to be part of the “Holiday Card” club, but find once again, my perfection paralysis prohibits me from playing at all. I’m chock full of ideas, but they usually involve hand making one of a kind cards, which doesn’t work well when the holiday card list includes everyone from the doorman to Aunt Sadie.

The first time I did cards was the year after my son was born. I purchased ice blue high-quality paper which I hand cut with crinkle-cut craft scissors to fit inside the quaint coordinating color (but not size) envelopes. On to each card I adhered a painstakingly, cut-out snowflake (from white vellum paper) with a thin white satin ribbon tied in a perfect bow on the (ruler-measured) top center of the page. Inside I attached my thoughtfully crafted holiday greeting, printed on the translucent white paper with the fancy shears. I hand addressed each envelope and each completed card felt like a piece of artwork. I saved one for myself and recently came across it. My brain had remembered all of the work its creation involved, but the final product felt lackluster. Maybe this is why I never ventured into the holiday card club again. I could never meet my own standards.

The second time I attempted holiday cards was with my husband, the year we moved into our current apartment. This will be the 12th holiday season my husband and I spend as a couple, and we’ve only done the one card. My husband (Christmas Card Scrooge) agreed to do cards because I lured him in with the challenge of using his creative design skills to mastermind a dual function card: part “Happy Holidays,” part “We’ve Moved.” With some graphic design ingenuity, my husband laid out the cards to say Happy Holidays on one side and We Moved when flipped. His inner poet also stepped up to write a clever Dr. Seuss-like poem, creating a relic of holiday card genius. Perhaps this creation has left him feeling insurmountable. I, on the other hand, feel he’s limitless; we can create holiday card gems yearly. Here I sit next to an artistic ball of ideas and talent and he doesn’t want play in the holiday card game.

The truth is writing every day this year has monopolized any free moment, and even bubbled over into non-free moments. Holiday cards are the extra credit I didn’t have time for this year. I’m aware I don’t have to be so extreme about it. I could have settled on a happy medium by sending out purchased cards. Only I’ve never done well with mediocrity, which sounds and feels and awful lot like medium, so I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.

Next year, I have big plans, though. Huge.

“Tattoo” Club

When I first got my first tattoo I didn’t have the same thoughts about ink as I have now. I was a carefree 20-something feeling slightly rebellious and wanted in on the “tattoo club.” I didn’t consider what my skin adornment would look like when I turn 50-something, 60-something, 70-something, or beyond if I’m lucky. IF you know me you might be surprised to hear my life motto is: “I’ll deal with the future when I get to it” and I imagine it’s a good problem if you get old enough to be concerned with how a drawing on your skin has aged.

As I’ve experienced the privilege of slowly aging, I’ve witnessed mysterious additions to my skin I didn’t solicit. Freckles, moles, skin tags, wrinkles, sun spots … all in places I didn’t select and permanently on my body. Tattoos are no different from the scars of life: souvenirs of living, a reminder of a moment, a person or pet or symbol. After my thyroid surgery, I had a scar across my neck as if I’d been slashed. After my emergency c-section, I gained a perforated abdomen – all of which I had no control over. Tattoos are everlasting imprints we make to OUR BODIES by choice. (Correlation between tattoo lovers and control freaks?)

Tattoos serve different purposes to different people; fashion, wearable art, self-expression, therapy. Studies have found multiple tattoos can strengthen the immune system. A Harris poll in 2012 found that 21 percent of adults (1 in 5) have at least one tattoo, but there is still plenty of stigma, especially in the conservative corporate world. 

My 40-year-old friend got a tiny heart tattoo on her wrist to commemorate her daughter’s birth. She’s had it for over seven years and she still covers it with a cuff bracelet or a watch whenever she sees her parents or goes to her finance job. I too hid my tattoo from my parents for a few months. The first time my mother saw my lower back piece, a match to the one my sister now also sports on her lower back, we were in our childhood backyard where my mother still lived. We had planned on going swimming and my sister and I both lifted our shirts at once, which added a dramatic flair, apparently so much so, my mother’s heart almost gave out on her when she realized the tattoos were permanent. She threw two glass plates against the deck, shattering them across the entire yard. Heavily buzzed, she began cursing us out. 

I was 24 when I got my first tattoo, the one matching my sister’s. It is a tribal sun with the Chinese symbol for “big sister” in the middle (hers has the symbol for “little sister”) and within the rays of the sun, our initials (G & R) and symbols of our zodiac signs (Leo and Capricorn). We got the tattoo at the shop where my sister’s boyfriend worked as an apprentice so he observed while the lead artist worked on us. This would have been fine, but a second overly chatty apprentice stood over me, incessantly whining and complaining about his girlfriend as I tried to breathe through the pain.

Months before the tattoo I asked anyone I met with a tattoo what it felt like; the same way pregnant people suddenly become interested in everyone’s birth stories. People told me it felt like tiny ants biting or like shots or hits or cuts and none of those explanations turned out to be accurate. It was my sister’s second tattoo so she was more experienced. The tattoo artist insisted I go first and later confessed that he thought if my sister went first and I saw her, I would cop out. I knew, though, once I started, I’d never stop. Also, when I selected the lower back (sexy, hip, trendy) for a tattoo, I never considered which areas of the body hurt less, I simply knew where I wanted it. Turns out, lower back: very painful. Two hours later, though, the euphoria is indescribably addictive, which clearly explains the $2.3 billion revenue of the tattoo industry

My mother has never seen my second tattoo, a tribal heart on my lower abdomen, now intersected by my caesarian section incision; a sliced scar I didn’t choose cutting through my perfect heart.

Before my first tattoo, I said I’d only get the one, but this was before I experienced the adrenaline and the coolness factor of the Tattoo Club. My second tattoo has my son’s initials on it.  It’s been over six years, I have a daughter now and no ink yet branded on skin in her honor.

I’ve promised myself a tattoo as a present to celebrate the end of my 365 project. My writing project has been my marathon achievement and I want to document the accomplishment permanently – only not with numbers because that reminds me of the Holocaust (I don’t want to be the Jew who voluntarily tattoos numbers on her wrist). Lately, I’ve thrown around the idea of a word (duh: writer) and I’m considering “writer” in typewriter font … or else just “breathe.”

I have 14 days left to decide and a lifetime to live with it, love it and look cool doing it.

“I’m the Human Version of the Pop-Up Video” Club

I’ve recently realized that I’m the human version of the VH1 pop-up video. This thought dawned on me when I found myself whispering “extra or background information” into my son’s ear in the middle of watching Moana. Talking during a movie, sacrilegious, I know, but I really thought I was adding to his experience, just like a video thought bubble.

This blasphemous cinema behavior got me thinking about other times I might exhibit this questionable behavior. There are the movies and TV shows at home, of course, when I, usually in command of the remote control, pause at my discretion to inform other watchers (husband, son or daughter) of something related to the plot, show, actor, actor’s girlfriend or children, or occasionally have nothing to do with the show at all. Sometimes I inadvertently need to deliver this information in the middle of a crucial scene where I’ll pause mid-word because it has suddenly struck my fancy to discuss next week’s play rehearsal schedule or ask my husband if we remembered to add “return grout” to the Home Depot list.

Likewise, in the car, mid-soundtrack or chorus, I’m the first one to pause (once or a dozen times) to discuss something.

The thing is, I value the human dialogue above all else and merely use the media as background noise or conversation starters. What’s the point of looking at a field of tulips in Amsterdam if you can’t turn to the person next to you to say, “Isn’t that the most fucking beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”

The constant interrupting is a souvenir of my “old” habit of interrupting conversations, which I did entirely out of well-intending reasons. I never meant to imply my comments trumped whoever was speaking, I purely struggle with vocal restraint. (Think Kristen Wiig’s ‘surprise character’ from Saturday Night Live.) My patience is immature and when I think of something pseudo-interesting to say, I tend to blurt it out right away. PS: I also hate surprises.

The other night at dinner, we put on the Moana soundtrack for entrainment, and the music ignited conversation about the movie: where it took place, how many years ago, from which Disney universe did it evolve, and my son, my disciple, demonstrated that he too had inherited the “pop-up bubble” gene. He paused almost every song to provide pop-up insight. I could tell my husband and daughter were annoyed that he kept stopping the song in the middle of the crescendo, but I totally got it, dude. When the thought strikes, pop!

“My Daughter is the Only Jew in Her Class” Club

My daughter came home from school the Monday after Thanksgiving to find her classroom delightfully decorated by her teacher, whom she adores. There was a Christmas tree, garlands, stuffed Santas, snowmen, and reindeer, and Christmas gel stickers adorning the windows. “What do you want for Christmas?” was the talk of the day and on our walk home, my daughter admitted she felt “uncomfortable” because no one else celebrated Chanukah. (She was the only one to raise her hand when they asked if anyone observed.)

Christmas trees, community tree lightings, Rockefeller Christmas tree, stores restaurants bedecked with evergreen needles topped with a star or else baby Jesus and trimmings grace front lawns, garlands wrap banisters, ornaments in every shape, size and color hang on railings, doorways and trees. The Christmas spirit explodes on the scene like a tidal wave and tries to rake in as much moolah as it can in its wake.

Only if you’re a Jewish kid witnessing this glitterati holiday world replete with Santa, elves, and toys galore, are you made to feel like a Christmas’ Cinderella.

Chanukah, which isn’t even a religious holiday is definitely not the Jewish Christmas it has been made to be. It is a Jewish celebration which happens to land closest to Christmas, like other pagan holidays pre-religion set around solstice time. Because the Jewish calendar fluctuates each year, as opposed to the western calendar, Chanukah is also not on a stagnant day, so while occasionally it may fall around Christmas (like this year), other years, it jumps around the month of December as Christmas’ pathetic shadow or less potent pre-show.

It has ironically never bothered me much despite the fact that my parents came to the United States so I can have the freedom to be a Jew. This life move has inadvertently created a subtle hovering pressure on me through my life. While I felt compelled to proudly declare my religion, I felt conflicted as I was raised with my father telling me he doesn’t believe in god because he believes “we are an alien experiment gone wrong” and my mother saying she doesn’t believe in God because it was “beat out of her.” My paradox went further and here are some of the reasons:

  • I love Chrismas songs. In junior high school, I joined the chorus and for the holiday season, we learned dozens of Chrismas songs (and two token Chanukah songs) and would sing them at  our school assembly, at the mall, at the Pan Am building (now the MetLife building), and even once at Carnegie Hall. I love the music and the feelings (not of Jesus, specifically) which come along with it.
  • I love the holiday smells. The pine tree fragrance and the cinnamon mixed with nutmeg is a recipe for winter warmth and joy. The aroma is the best part to me so the idea of a fake tree is ridiculous and I wonder if a fake tree also negates some of the symbolism.
  • In the former Soviet Union, they put up trees for New Year’s rather than for Christmas or Chanukah. It was called a “yawlka,” and had no religious connotation. It was winter season and it was decorated. My father would describe from his childhood mandarin oranges, small candies and the garlands of chestnuts. This is the tradition with which my parents grew up and before we left the Soviet Union, there was a black and white picture with me in front of a tree every year. It had nothing to do with American Christmas or Jesus, but when we arrived here, it was considered sacrilegious for Jews to put up a Christmas tree. Over the years, this attitude has loosened and people happily put up “Chanukah bushes.” Also, Christmas has long ago gone the extreme commercialism route, over-shooting religion by miles, and it’s become a part of the American culture as much as it is part of the Christian one. Religious activists, the same people who rally over what color coffee cup Starbucks has during December, began plastering the phrase, “Jesus is the reason for the season” in case any of us jumped on the Christmas bandwagon looking for a pine tree with a present sans the church.
  • From the time I landed in New York City, fresh from the Soviet communist send-off, I never felt antisemitism. Thrust into a multicultural city, at the very crux of the melting pot, I happily attended a mostly immigrant school and never thought otherwise. Some kids had Christmas trees and some had menorahs and we all got presents. In fact, Jewish kids got gifts for eight nights rather than the one night of Chrismas and still the red and green trumped the blue and white. It didn’t matter to my family that we were the underdog; at least we were allowed to cheer. At least in America, we were allowed to wear gold stars of Davids around our necks and light our menorahs in the windows. Who cares if we were the secondary holiday when we came from a country where it was illegal to celebrate all together? Forget happy festivities like Chanukah, in the Soviet Union, my parents weren’t allowed to get married under a chuppah, as customary for Jewish couples. None of the life cycle events could be celebrated under the banner of the Jewish religion.

My husband, on the other hand, feels directly opposite of me. He cringes at our Jewish friends who get “Chanukah bushes.” For him, it’s the equivalent of hanging a cross around their necks or on their door instead of a mezuzah. How can we as Jews be the ones to wipe away our own cultures, minimizing them, discounting them as not being as “fun” as other religions? My husband tells out kids “Chanukah was created out of trying to preserve our religious freedoms, Santa came from Coca-Cola–how can we compete?”

My husband grew up in the heartland of America: Kansas City, MO. When he first told me where he was from, my reaction was, “There are Jews in Kansas?” and he came at me like a bull telling me about the close-knit, HUGE Jewish population in Kansas City (about 20,000). He explained how he went to Hebrew school three times a week until he graduated high school, after which he spent six weeks traveling through Israel with the other kids who spent their lives up until that point, in the Hebrew ward. (Note: I never went to Hebrew school; not even a trial class.) He was even in a Jewish Boy Scout Troop that would occasionally be asked to “show their horns” while camping in rural Missouri.

When my husband was in the first grade, the same age as my daughter, he was upset because his school was dressed up for the holidays but excluded any Chanukah decorations. Typical for the rest of the country and the area schools, they decked the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la. My husband was distraught and told his mother, who marched him in to talk to the principal about it. The principal shrugged and said they didn’t have any Chanukah decorations. He brushed them off suggesting they make their own Chanukah decorations and hang them around the school. Undeterred, that’s exactly what they did. They worked for a week with paint, paper and safety scissors (1977: pre-glitter and foam sticker days) to create Chanukah ornamentation to hang around the school. 

Fast forward many years and now we’re raising our kids in Fort Lee, NJ, a predominantly Korean neighborhood, and my daughter attends the local public school, where she finds herself to be the only Jew in her class. On the way to school days after her teacher decorated the room in red and green, my daughter expressed concern that the topic of what people would be getting for Christmas might come up again. I suggested she talk about what she will get for Chanukah. Her face sunk and she sadly confessed she felt alienated because no one knows what Chanukah is. I sent an email to the teacher asking if my daughter can bring in her own Chanukah decorations. I told her we’d be happy to come and hang them and while I was sending the email, I had a thought. Why stop at decorations?

I suggested to the teacher that my husband and I host a Chanukah party. We’d read a Chanukah book to the kids, show them how to light a menorah, and teach them how to play dreidel. We’d eat latkes, applesauce, jelly donuts (Israeli tradition), and gold chocolate coins (gelt) and the kids can decorate their own foam sticker menorah (hail foam sticker and boxed crafts).

My daughter was ecstatic. Not so much about the party, but to be able to share the fun, joy, goodness and celebration that comes with HER holiday, the Festival of Lights. I think she wants to not only showcase it but reinforce for herself, that her religion is not secondary or inferior or less fun. The clown daddy and I will come in and show the kids that we don’t need to create a Jewish version of the Christian traditions to feel adequate or celebratory. We don’t need a Chanukah bush, blue and white candy canes, a Hanukkah Harry, or even the male or female version of the Elf on the Shelf, Mensch on the Bench or Hannah the Hannukah Hero

We need education, love, inclusion and maybe a non-religious incantation of Kumbaya so we can all link hands, and play a secular game of Hokey Pokey and channel the Coca-Cola commercial from the 70s when all we wanted to do was “buy the world a home and furnish it with love, grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves … teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…What the world wants today is the real thing.” 

“I’m a Jew Who Loves Christmas Songs” Club

I didn’t grow up in a religious home; I knew I was Jewish and knew it was important that I know that. Together with my parents, I came to America as a refugee from the former Soviet Union in 1979. The anti-semitism drove my parents out; they wanted to live in a country where their religion didn’t prevent them from going to college or getting a job or procuring an apartment.

In New York City, home to over one million Jews, my parents felt free to wear Star of David and Chai necklaces but never stepped foot inside a synagogue unless it was mandated for a Bar Mitzvah or wedding. When it came time for the December holidays at school and kids did the “Are you Christmas or Chanukah” survey, I was proudly “Team Chanukah.”

In junior high school, I was in the chorus for two years (got in by singing the theme to the Brady Bunch) and had the opportunity to perform at the Staten Island Mall for the holidays and at the iconic Pan Am Building (now the MetLife building) as well as Carnegie Hall. In those years, I learned dozens of Christmas songs and loved them all, excited to be able to sing along to a month’s worth of radio as I wiped down counters at the family donut shop.

Initially, I felt a sense of guilt for loving the Christmas songs so much; almost like I violated my religion. I didn’t keep kosher so eating BLT sandwiches never felt as much as a breach of religion as how much these Christmas carols could penetrate my soul; Ave Maria and Silent Night get me every single time.

Last week my daughter came home from her musical theater class telling me they were working on a Christmas song, “Don’t worry mom, it doesn’t have any Jesus or Santa in it, it’s just about winter.”

“Oh that’s OK,” I said, “I love Christmas songs!”

“You know,” my husband chimed in, “many Christmas songs were actually written by Jews. The song you’re doing, Winter Wonderland was, as well as Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, and the one of the most famous ones, White Christmas, which is the best selling single ever.” 

“You know, our teachers asked if there is anyone in the class who didn’t celebrate Christmas and I raised my hand,” my daughter explained. “Then she said, ‘Really? No one in your family celebrates Christmas? Not even your parents or grandparents?’ She was so shocked and I said, ‘No, no one at all.’”

I laughed. It’s funny in 2016, living in such an urban multicultural area, with plenty of Jews, there are still people shocked to learn Jesus’ birthday doesn’t mean anything to us. We don’t feel nostalgic for three wise men or yearn to sing hymns or gather around the table, heads bowed for grace. It’s just a day off, no more sacred to us than Columbus Day or President’s Day.

The songs, though often deity specific, cross religions and cultures by creating a feeling of camaraderie, warmth, celebration, and joy. I say cheers to Christmas carols. 

“I Celebrated Halloween” Club

The first memory I have of dressing up is in second grade when my mother attempted to transform me into a gypsy by layering me in multiple scarves, an oversized skirt, and a multicolored blouse. She added several fake gold necklaces and too many coats of dark black mascara and red lipstick. “What am I?” I remember asking her and she told me a gypsy, which meant nothing to me nor to any other second grader dressed as Superman, Barbie, and a witch. It was totally an immigrant take on costumes, but I give her credit for even playing along. I mean, it’s a ridiculous concept to dress up in costumes and beg for candy. 

In eighth grade, I was at the apex of my coolness and threw a Halloween party in my wood paneled-lined basement. I was a mime (funny how I ended up marrying a professional clown) but the costume contest winner was a bag of jellybeans, made up of multicolored balloons inside an enormous clear garbage bag. Now I’ve seen it replicated for 30 years and it seems outdated, but at the time I thought it was unique as heck. Someone came as a bunch of grapes, which their mother painstakingly sewed and she looked exactly like a character from the Fruit of the Loom underwear commercials. I remember a cowgirl, a Cleopatra, a cat.

It wasn’t until after college while living in New York City that the sexy Halloween costumes began to take root. There was a sexy version for every typical costume: a sexy pirate, a sexy devil, a sexy police officer and lines around the block formed to get into at Ricky’s Drugstore which turned out to be a costume wonderland for two months of the year.

One year my sister and I were sexy mummies together; we ripped up white pillowcases and wrapped ourselves sloppily, leaving gaps of skin. It was my first Halloween post divorce and the only white shoes I owned which went with the mummy costume were my wedding shoes. There was a certain irony to walking around in those shoes for the second time in my life, on a flirtatious holiday, scantily clad. There wasn’t much thought or emotion put into the shoes; it was merely a matter of convenience and practicality. Also, I paid $200 for those Stuart Weitzmans, I was thrilled to lower the price-per-wear on them.

Another year my sister and I went to Las Vegas for Halloween and we bought the smallest costumes we felt comfortable wearing. They provided slightly more coverage than a one-piece bathing suit; but only slightly. We thought we were rebellious but we were more covered than 90% of the female costume wearers.

As a mom, I have a newfound perspective on Halloween. Even though I’m married to a performer, and we love the opportunity to don a couple costume, the holiday has become all about the kids. They pick a costume and we work a cast of supporting characters around them. Last year it was Inside Out; my daughter was Joy, I was Disgust, and my husband was Bing Bong. This year, it’s Alice in Wonderland. I am, quite appropriately, the Queen of Hearts, my daughter is Alice, and my husband is The Mad Hatter. 

I’m sure there will be a period when our kids are all done dressing up but we continue on – or else maybe they’ll be just like us, forever embracing the last day of October to spend a day being someone else and eat candy.

“I Watched the Third Debate” Club

When I worked in the corporate world, we had lots of meetings; I developed a habit of “meeting poetry” to pass the time. Here’s my version of the debate:

You wait as if you’re watching live theater – but the actors are a bit drunk and have all slept with each other.

I know Donald Trump’s little idiosyncrasies will turn into Saturday Night Live sketch later in the week. He sniffed again, adjusted the microphone.

Hillary Clinton supports the second amendment but just wants to eliminate some of the senseless 33,000 gun deaths a year in America.

Donald Trump wants to overturn Roe vs Wade. He said women should be punished for having abortions. Scare rhetoric.

The US Government should not regulate women’s health.

Wall versus no plan for supporting border.

We need strong borders to keep the drugs out of the country. I want to build a wall. We all want the wall. Get all the drug lords. Bad bad people have to go out SNIFF. Bad hombres need to get out.

Carla’s parents might be deported and Hillary doesn’t want to separate parents from children.

Donald takes a drink.

We would have to put people on trains and buses to send them out of our country.

Deport violent people!

Who’s paying for the wall? Not the President of Mexico, who is a very nice man. Nafta is bad and it’s Bill’s fault.

Undocumented labor to build Trump tower. You complain? I get you deported!

Obama has deported millions. It happened “bigly,” Donald says. He said it again. Is he saying “big league” or “bigly?”

$225K to Hillary for talk to a Brazilian bank. (How do I get speaking fees like that?!)

Quoting from WikiLeaks. Uh oh.

Russian government engaged in espionage! Always the bad Russians.

From Putin himself! 17 of our intelligence agencies have concluded Russians are doing this from highest Kremlin to influence our election. Gasp! The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

She wants open borders! People are coming from Syria! From everywhere!

He wants to end Radical Islamic Terrorism and she is ignoring the whole concept!

He doesn’t know Putin but thinks it would be nice to be friends.

Putin rather have a puppet as president.

Russian cyber attacks!

Putin has a favorite (and it’s not Hillary?)

17 agencies! 17 agencies! But he believes Putin.

Does Donald condemn interference? Of course, he does! Putin is not Donald’s best friend! (But it would be nice.)

Donald says, “If we have them, why don’t we use them?”

Ice cream break (me not them).

Families making less than $125K/year should not get a tuition bill if they go to a public college.

Trickle down economics on steroids? Eek. We don’t want ‘roid rage.

Twenty trillion dollars in debt? I thought I was bad! Oh and Obama cut the deficit by 2/3! Worst inherited debt ever!

We’re going to terminate NAFTA and make a new deal! America is dying with a 1% GDP! India growing 8%, China growing at 7% and us … so bad! Our country is stagnant. We lost our jobs and our business and we don’t make anything. Products are pouring in from China and Vietnam and all over the world.

No tax raise for anyone making less than $250K.

Not top down, middle up!

The Trump hotel in Las Vegas is made with CHINESE STEEL!

She has 30 years experience. He says he did a better job because he started with a one million dollar loan and built a phenomenal company.

Hillary gave us Isis! But don’t worry, she’s going to get rid of Isis.

Talk about grabbing women. Nine women came forward and said they were groped and kissed without his consent. Why did they make this up since you deny this?

Trump says he doesn’t know those people. Stories are totally false. I didn’t know any of these women. Hillary’s campaign did it! All lies and fiction.

Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger.

Let’s demonstrate who we are and who our country is and what we expect from our next president. Do we want to pit people one against the other or lift people up and make our country even better?

Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump. Those stories have been debunked.

She criminally destroyed 33,000 emails! What happened to FBI? I don’t know. She’s lied to people, to Congress, to the FBI! She’s getting away with it!

Talk about that – not fame or fiction from her campaign.

Denying responsibility. Never apologizes.

WRONG Donald interjects with duck lips.

A pattern of the divisiveness of dark and dangerous vision of our country where he incites violence. That is not who America is!

WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY ARE WE GOING TO HAVE?

Uh oh, Hillary took lots of money for the Clinton Foundation from bad people. She should give it back, Donald says. Huh?

Oh and Donald still hasn’t released his tax returns. Donald has not paid a penny in federal income tax.

We’re entitled to take massive charges on depreciation because of her laws.

Donald says the election is rigged and Hillary is stealing it from you. She should never have been allowed to run.

Google “Donald Trump Iraq”

WRONG Donald interjects with duck lips. (He does this many times.)

There was a lot of arguing about Iran and I fell asleep.

Good night and good luck, America.

“Facebook as a Link to My Youth” Club

My 14-year-old son laughs if I ever open up Facebook. “No one uses Facebook anymore.” The unspoken underlying statement is “young people don’t use Facebook.” I started thinking about why.

I use Facebook mostly as a means to reconnect with people from my past. People I went to college and high school with and fellow colleagues I collected from a decade of corporate jobs and there are even a few stragglers from elementary and junior high school. What’s interesting about having all these connections in my digital world is they don’t make me feel like I actually have that many friends; in fact, I have few true reconnections with the pool of people from my past.

For the past nine years, I’ve collected these hundreds of “friends” and while they’re some of my biggest writing supporters, happy to click “like” on most things I share, strangely, I never see these people in real life. Even after rekindling our “friendship” sometimes twenty years later, there is no more than the obligatory “friend request accepted.” They’re not the people I would call in the middle of the night if the shit hit the fan. Let’s “face” it, these are people I dress up for, clean my apt for, and take a fake picture for; not the people who see me in my pajamas without makeup. In an ironic twist, they are the ones who witness my life through the bits and bytes, words, stories, and photographs I carefully curate for their consumption.

So why keep it up if it’s superficial phony baloney; part exhibitionist, part voyeuristic? To a degree, it is a connection to my youth. I maintain a constant pulse on the ‘where are they now’ of my past. A rekindled friendship, even if only virtually, is still a bonus; like getting a [good] sequel to my favorite movie. Also, these peripheral Facebook Friends have branded themselves in between the coils of my brain and somehow anyone of them can trigger a memory from my past; essentially helping me keep it alive.

It’s a strange phenomenon to watch an entirely new culture emerge based around social media. It’s interesting to see the younger generation perceive Facebook as the “older person’s social media platform,” even though according to ebizmba.com, it’s sill ranked as number one. The kids are all about Snapchat and Instagram. They live in the now, want to share in the now, and have no qualms about deleting it all. They don’t value nostalgia yet; they’re creating it by living it and will go foraging for the forgotten bits twenty years from now. My generation has grown old enough to yearn for the past, desperate to dive back into a sentimental wistfulness far away from the realities of adulthood.

“I Use My Horn” Club

Having two children at two different schools in two different states means I’m doing a lot of driving. Living next to the busiest bridge in the country, my many hours in the car is often accompanied by intense traffic and angry, frustrated drivers.

I use my horn often, but not to be a bully, just to communicate. Often, though I’m misunderstood and occasionally even pursued by a vengeful middle finger wielding maniac coasting on road rage. My horn is a like baby’s cry; it’s not just to indicate sadness, it has a whole range of things it needs to be able to convey, but I’ve only got the one-beep!

I’d love a horn modification where there are various sounds available on my steering wheel.

The Hierarchy of Horns

  • The slight double beep (like a double click) to say, “the light has changed, please go because the green arrow only lasts 15 seconds and you can check your Facebook later.”
  • A longer, albeit still friendly, 5-second beeeeeeeeep when the initial, polite double-beep yields no response.
  • A double, 5-second beeeeeeeeep when the previous two notifications have been ignored. There is usually a phone involved which translates to distracted driving and this will often lead to the next honk. 
  • A 10-second angry beep is reserved when a driver is doing an illegal maneuver on the road, especially when you see different people replicating this erroneous scheme day after day. This is the “I’m the mayor of the road” attitude because this horn is to indicate, “Hey Shithead, I’m sick and tired of assholes cutting me off on the line every day.”
  • A 15-second alert horn when someone is about to plow into you. Also, can be used for anyone texting and driving.
  • An emergency signal, in a different decibel, reserved for when you see someone falling asleep on the road.