Hail, Julia’s

“I won’t grow up- I don’t want to go to school- Just to learn to be a puppet-And recite a silly rule- If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree-I won’t grow up, won’t grow up, won’t grow up- not me! Lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oh, Peter Pan- if only we could fly.

So on a Monday morning, as summer begins, we get ready to head home. “There’s no place like home,” especially when it’s the place where our journey began. So enter- The Juila’s – group of childhood friends who traditionally meet for lunch or dinner, several times a year.

The Julia’s, as we call ourselves is an acronym for “Just us Ladies into Aging. Yes, ladies it is now in existence for several years and going strong. We know we are lucky, and not surprised at how good it stays. We are holding court some fifty odd years later. We skipped rope together and through time, haven’t skipped a beat. 

We sit down, look at the menu, (although we know too well what we are ordering) and first off- make sure we are all doing well. Phew! 

With a most blessed familiarity we put quarters into the jukebox of time. Oh, listen they’re playing our song. “Could this be magic,” as we traverse through “the tunnel of love,” down in Palisades Park. In spin the bottle like fashion, we kiss hello and reluctantly hug good-bye. We tie the laces on our saddle shoes and shine the penny that will prominently shine thru our Weejuns. Hello Debbie Lark.

We bring to mind the tenor of our childhood homes. How my dog Cuddles barked all the way through Laura and Luke’s wedding. We talk about how Mrs. Dietz’s brownies were the perfect chaser to our Rutt’s hot dogs. Jill’s house down the shore comes to mind and I get nostalgic as I recall listening to “On the Street Where You Live,” at Gail’s house- because Dickie Kane lived on The Boulevard too. Hey do you think Mrs. Bromberg still chews Wrigley’s spearmint gum as she still sits knitting away? We look over to Barbara and eulogize Daren Scott- may she R.I.P. Wow that’s a rough one.

So with an ironclad grip, we hold on to this moment. We make our way through the not so ripe and in this case, incidental cantaloup and cottage. We come to recount our primordial beginnings. Early friendships, first kisses and walking home from school with our books held together by thick red rubber straps. 

“We had a moment, just one moment. That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime- We are the lucky ones- Some people never get to do all we got to do- Now and Forever- I will always think of you! Carole King- you got that right! 

Pro- no good choice?

Trustworthy vs. Competent? Bottom feeding through to elect a leader for the land of the free, because of the brave. Uber drivers who opened doors are now crossing the borders illegally, so we find out for a job. Just who is opening the doors? So Trump was reeled back in and pandered his way through telepromoter. Albeit more contained, he still got in his nasty philbustering against his opponent. On and On and on to what? No class president? When a competitive race becomes a blood sport, is cauterizing the only mode of termination? 

Are we watching housewives of The United States of What?

Enough- on to Eugene O’Neil, so don’t stop now. On Tuesday Eve we gazed through glorious moments as Jessica Lange portrayed Mary Cavan Tyronne in Long Day’s Journey into Night. She characterized a woman struggling through a lingering drug addiction as a result of loosing a child. With guts, no glamour she goes from one day into the next in a stream of a semi-conscious existence.

Her depiction of character fostered by a startling actorial pedigree, was palpable and award deserving. “When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired” only then does transitioning have a chance. She was sick and indeed tired but change never seemed available. In the case of Eugene O’Neills heroine her only means of survival was to put herself in a medically induced case of insouciance. The sub-plot of the play was of a family in distress and ultimately glued together through tragedy. 

How tragic when families can’t glue their way back to whole. Often chemistry has very little to to with genetics or blood. With no mandate for family vows even “crazy glue” won’t work when the going gets tough. When you’re connected by lineage and bloodlines the sense of immediacy and bonding would seem apparent. Often the weight of dysfunction at the helm bears too big a burden for group repair. When the option for emotional survival is scaling the bottom for survival crumbs or starving for hugs, you learn to dive deep. Wow- just saved some time in a languid therapy session.  

In geometry, a tangent is a line that touches a curve in one spot but doesn’t intersect it anywhere else. So we digress for the sense of unity. We try to regain some sense of connection as animalistic creatures and then call a friend and make a plan for lunch. So when the operative question, who we are voting is replaced with can you believe he/she was elected what will Morning Joe, Howard Stern or Rachel Maddow have us thinking this hard and this long about then? 

Just In Time

“There a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem- That’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout group short a child, Khruschev’s due at Idlewild- Car 54 Where Are You?”Toody, Muldoon and Officer Schnauser- where are you when we need you? Indelible visuals of their caricatures implanted in our minds. We only wanted them to get back together as partners. Oh, their chemistry, it was really strong. My go to is Barbra with an A. “Was it all so simple then or has time re-written every line?”

Interesting when the going is good, in euphoric recall fashion, I remember the days of no wine, maybe sweet sixteen roses. We drew the hopscotch board on the part of the sidewalk that was flat. Throwing my skate key as my hopscotch shooter was so exciting- where would it fall? Happy to land with two feet on 3 and 4 or 6 and 7 (double squares). Biggest worry was that the street light would go on before I found my skate key en route home to watch the latest episode of Dr. Kildare( Richard Chamberlain ) was very cute . We loved playing stoop ball- loosely based on baseball, only you used a Spaulding and retrieved it from the stoop steps. So enjoyed the game of Jacks, even though I was often left with scrapes on the side of my hand from my pinky to my wrist. No worries- bacitracin and band-aids were big in my house. The boys on the block played Stickball, (baseball with a stick.) 

Johnny on The Pony was a fave, rough housing at its best. Great memory and first glimpse into early on-set competition was watching the kids play skully. Remember, flicking bottle caps into a chalk made skully board. Object not over-flicking–nope it’s on the line. 

And then came the Whistle. I think my father practiced it a few times before we heard it coming as a “it’s time.” I did not look forward to hearing that sound at all, and in the middle of a game -ugh! But Daddy we aren’t done. “Please, just a little bit longer.”! Denominations of time didn’t matter. 10 more minutes would have done. I cherished these after dinner nightly reunions. Iris Stoller and Linda Widensky were becoming my two best friends. I just got my new jacks set and they wanted to play with me. The crescendo of childhood memories was getting the baby bead bracelet with the letters spelling my name encased in gold. My piece of the sky, indeed. 

So with resignation and dismay I left the street. Bath time, Dr. Kildare and maybe some of Pinky Pinkham( Dorothy Provine) singing a few turnes at the Charleston Club. So like the corners of my mind- with skate keys, red licorice and connecting with childhood friends on Facebook- I wish every Daddy and Grandpa a Happy Father’s Day. And what I would give to hear that infamous whistle beckoning me to come in just one more time- And Daddy this time I would come in right away!

Zen Garden 

When G-d grants you the “serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference”- you poll vault into that spot. Lessons hard learned and satisfied reap the biggest of rewards.We didn’t burn our hand this time- oh yeah! 

We live the “life on life’s terms” more so than ever. When there are lots of players and lots of comings and goings we adjust our emotionality around the excitement of the pick ups. 

We have many, many young friends. “The Greatest Love of all is happening to me”–GRANDCHILDREN. They are climbing the ladder and we are there to give them a hand up, be a safety net if they tip backwards and cheer with bated breath as they achieve milestones.

Yesterday we were so lucky to be at Fourth Grade Zimiriah 5776. Our two oldest grandchildren sang their way toward middle school. With tears in my eyes I looked over to see my husband wiping his eyes too. “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there yeah, yeah.”

We have come to realize with italicized definition “what you reap, is what you sow. 

“If you did good things in the past, you will get good things in the future.”- Mama said there’d be days like this- so mama if you can hear me they’re here.

On Wednesday we took Zachary- (and if you ask he will tell you thru a wink and a smile he’s 5 years old)- to the Botanical Garden. He and his two older brothers add Venus Fly Traps to our resplendent terrace. We rode around on the tram and added commentary to the tour guides words. He/we loved every moment. The cloud formations presented in grand feather-like shapes. Mama was smiling. I know. We took the plants, (yes they eat and chew thru teeth) home to the terrace. As we fed them and shared that knowing moment- an epiphany occurred. As obvious as we feed the plants, water the tomatoes and lettuce that Jack planted- watch the peppers grow huge- yes Alexei- you’ll see them later and I am running on in this sentence, marvel at the watermelon seeds which have blossomed for James. The alarming message was accepting the things we cannot change because, just for right now, we wouldn’t. #luckyus- indeed!

Un- titled

Mea culpa- I give up, give in and admit to my shortcomings. For everyone I’ve wronged I am sorry, for anyone I might have inadvertently pissed off I am regretful. Fair is fair and then you make an amends no matter what.So we show up, shoes shined and try our very best. Some of the people, some of the time as it goes. When you’ve  boomed ur way to the top of the roller coaster you get a broad spectrum view. The ride up the longest, the stay at the top the shortest, the ride down the quickest. We get one ticket! Profound as that may seem. L’shana tova tikatevu.

With the threat of stepping off a curb, being at the mercy of the other side of the weapon or drawing a bad luck health card –celebrating everything until further notice rings true. Doom and gloom- I think so. We are riveting with a hangover from just the “latest” tragic event. 100 plus people were on the way to the forum on a beautiful Saturday night. How grandly pathetic!

With no genius to the insight that we are a country riddled with time bombs for disaster, where do we begin? How does this end? So we begin today mourning and praying. There is hope that the there will be physical recovery for the survivors. And then what- a lifetime of emotional prison? Increments of healing that have no repair, just resolution.

We need to look after each other. Once again my beloved Bubby’s words come to mind. “Mamala look the other way-” if you get too close everyone smells (always chuckled at that one). “Forgive everyone everything” — well? We all have strengths and clay feet. Find your milieu and become a charter member of that club. Share your jacket with a friend in a cold movie. Give the last piece of cake and hug your dear ones – heart to heart- shout out to Aunt G. When there is one ticket left for the ride at playland – that too, give away. Embrace the knowledge you’ve done your best- and pray that it’s contagious. Go to the pulpit, bow your head and I repeat- L’ shana tova tikatevu.

No “Pulse” Nightclub- Orlando, Florida – Today Las Vegas

“That certain night , the night we met, there was magic abroad in the air. There were angels dining at the Ritz- “And a Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square.” Words by Eric Maschwitz, music by Manning Sherwin. The song was written in 1939 in a French fishing village Le Lavandou right before the outbreak of the Second World War. Fast forward— On a steamy week-end eve you get dressed, put on your lipstick, turn off your music and walk out the door. You look forward to debriefing the week with a friend and meeting some new friends. You’re all set to chill in a high energy, safe haven club, on your local Barclay Square- the nightingales were singing. Dry martinis, familiar faces and music you listen to at home and know every word to. A perfect design for a five-star time. One would think. And then the World According to Garp doesn’t happen. No Lin Manuel, THESE senseless acts of tragedy are what is “promised.” Our promised land nearly 70 years after World War Two- on the the doorstep of World War Three. “Praising Isis, Gunman attacks Gay Nightclub, leaving 50 dead in worst shooting on U.S.Soil”– the headline in today’s New York Times. Yes, on U.S. soil, the same dirt that has a potential presidential candidate who made this horrifically designed tragedy about him. We scream in horror, we cry in disbelief as one more lunatic walks into one more gun shop and puts down one more stolen credit card. We then pay dearly for the laws that govern the strongest nation on earth. We pray for the insane and fund them in jail after they take away our freedom of choice, as to which place to dance the night away–that takes our Life away. In concentration camp like fashion we become prisoners of the loose cannon, suicide bombers who live to die. The adage of ” do guns kill people or do people kill people” is one big oxymoron. One avenue for slaughter is people buying guns. How long is congress on sabbatical from revising laws on buying over the counter rifles in a store that houses beef jerky too? Dear G-d please look in our direction. We need our backs covered and we are willing to double down for this.

For the People, By the People

When we get a part along the way, feeling thankful is appropriate and then taking center stage is dignified. Push aside the dialogue, the cluttered rhetoric and own your role. In 2007 we saw a movie directed by the artist Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The movie tracked the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor in chief of the French fashion bible Elle Magazine. At the age of 43 he had a devastating stroke which damaged his brain stem. He was left bearing the sentence of a condition called locked in syndrome. He was almost completely paralyzed except for the singular ability to blink one eye. His mind was in tact and thinking and feeling his blessing and curse. We watched him suffer thru a living under water like state. He suffocated in body and mind. At the time we saw the movie my mother was dying. I sat there with one eye closed, writhing in emotional distress. My artistic license saw this through my mother’s eyes. I too closely related to this stagnation through strangulation. We left and I was drenched in mind and body. The idea of never being able to act on impulse , click our heals together and leap to our next activity –a form of death beyond imagination. When our spirit is stifled and our ability to grow exists only in concept we are anesthetized and left numb. With no hope in sight and the view of our plot terminal, it is then that we redo the metrics and doggy paddle our way out from under. Ah, freedom! In thru your nose, out thru your mouth.Fast forward to last nights victory speech. Distinguished with the countenance and bearing smacking of Madame President, Hillary took over center stage. With a fervent stance she portended the prototype of “temperamentally fit.”

Fair and square, no air brushing, no fixed numbers at the polls and no competition Hillary dazzled us with no bull–. Sighing relief, we marveled in the sincerity, fluidity and kindness of her words. We blinked both eyes and started gaining our visions back. Looking ahead with foresight, we could see the final act of debate ending. The curtain closed on this Wagner opera. The Macbeth of politics was circling the drain. She hugged her daughter and “presumptive”grandchild. Bill mouthed of his pride for her. “Forgive us Our Trespasses.” Religion and Politics and there we are.

L’dor v’dor

From one generation to the next. Traditionally books are passed down to the next generation. We gave Toby-8 yr.old a beautiful book that my husband had on New York Landmark Buildings. Toby is curious, and extremely well versed in a lot. The beauty of this as I see it- he Feels how intellectually endowed he is. Oh, Toby, I kvell. So he proudly carried this large, rather heavy book out the door with a smile that sang to us. He proceeded to tell us that passing on books is traditionally what families do. Out of the mouths…The play was thrown on summer. Ok let’s do it. Good time to clean closets and do a Karma cleanse. As long as we keep following seasons and don’t limp into third base we’re good. Change is inevitable and the transition zaps energy and certainty. So we try to stock up on sleep, keep social connections tight and tie the laces on our sneakers. We sell homes, kids move on and 10 year old boys don’t want soooo many hugs. Ah-men! We try to pay attention so we don’t miss the opportunity to take a joker on someone else’s tray. Luck is recognizing opportunity as we have come to see.

And I quote- “If Plan A isn’t an option, kick the crap out of Plan B.” This piece of advice was given to Sheryl Sanders (COO of Facebook), by her dear friend. One year ago, while on a family vacation her husband Dave Goldberg died suddenly. He was on the treadmill and a heart arrithymia took his life. Her heart stopped beating as well. 

Adages galore come to mind. Life on life’s terms. Life doesn’t always go in one straight line- only the good… so we fall down seven times and we get up eight. 

When we are on the movie line and the sign goes up “this show is sold out,” 

 We view it as an easy paradigm for plan B. Next time we will order tickets on line and walk right in. We kicked in an alternative and appropriately watched La Cage Aux Folles. Our take away song because “we are who we are,” was 

“The best of times is now- so hold this moment fast, and live and love as hard as you know- as for tomorrow we’ll who knows, who knows, who knows. Wednesday we will start with watering the plants-they need us!