A Little Christmas Magic

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When I was a little girl (I don’t remember exactly how old) I was spending the night at my grandma’s house on Christmas eve. I’m not sure how I got the idea in my head that something very special was supposed to happen at midnight on that night (perhaps it was from the Christian kids in my public school?), but I was trying very very hard to stay awake as long as possible.

Luckily this particular grandma was the type who was somewhat easily persuaded to do things like play endless games of gin rummy with way-too-young-to-be-up-so-late little girls, so we stayed up until 8, 9, 10, and then 11pm. Some time after 11 my grandma finally had enough and decided she needed to go to bed, but I was not to be derailed by something so mundane as an overtired grandma. I checked her bookshelf, but this particular grandma was also the type who read mostly Harlequin romances- hardly the type of thing that sparked my interest at whatever tender young age I was at the time. I think I ended up inventing some sort of game with poker chips and clear discs I found in the game cabinet, and about midnight I was rewarded for my efforts with one of the coolest experiences ever.

It was a cold Michigan night and my grandma lived in a basement apartment, so when you looked out of her windows pretty much all you could see was the pavement covered in snow. If you looked at the correct angle you could see the rooftops of neighboring apartment buildings, also blanketed in fluffy white snow. The sky was clear and the night was silent. Literally at midnight on the dot, though, sleigh bells started ringing. From somewhere- who knew where?- bells began to jingle. Nobody was visible, and nothing else changed, but I believe that the stars twinkled just a bit while the bells were sounding. Then, just as suddenly as they started, they stopped.

I had no expectation of bells, nor even really of Santa. After all, I was a Jewish kid without a tree or a stocking, or a Christmas holiday or any such traditions. Sure I watched the Peanuts Christmas special, and of course the Grinch (both of which made me cry), but that was about as far as my official knowledge base extended. But in that moment, I was a believer. Not of Jesus and Christianity, but of the beauty and majesty of the season. Of the whole peace on Earth and tra-la-la-la-la thing.

If you had asked me if I had harked to hear angels singing, I just might have said yes.

I know some people get a little crazy about not wishing people a Merry Christmas. There are people who are careful to only say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” or other sanitized generic non-wishes. But who are they kidding? Do most of those people (don’t kill me here- I said MOST!) hedge their bets because the person they are speaking to may celebrate Kwanzaa and they don’t want to offend? I don’t think so. Chances are if you are in America the person you are speaking to celebrates Christmas, and chances are that if they don’t, they won’t get offended if you wish them a Merry Christmas by mistake. It’s not like I go around shouting Christmas wishes in everyone’s face this time of year. But if someone wants to say Merry Christmas to me, I’ll admit that it always makes me remember that night at my grandma’s house all those years ago and how magical it was to hear something so special that seemed meant only for me.

Until now:)

Merry Christmas.

Some Humor- Why Not?

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So why did the chicken cross the road?

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he’s a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: Let me be perfectly clear, if the chickens like their eggs they can keep their eggs. No chicken will be required to cross the road to surrender her eggs. Period.

JOHN McCAIN: My friends, the chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make why the chicken crossed the road?

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don’t really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or against us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where’s my gun?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken’s intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won’t realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he is acting by not taking on his current problems before adding any new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross the road so badly. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I’m going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he’s guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way the chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer’s Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I’ve not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn’t that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heartwarming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2014, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2014. This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Another One Bites The Dust- Literally?

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http://commondreams.org/views/2015/08/04/my-township-calls-my-lawn-nuisance-i-still-refuse-mow-it

A Couple Square Feet Of Carrots

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I was looking at the Facebook page attached to this blog, and one of the comments about the last post observed that I started an outrage movement over a couple square feet of carrots. I thought that was an interesting point, and one I wanted to address. First off, I will set aside whether it is a correct premise or not that my story/this blog began over vegetables or something bigger. But I think the crucial difference, and where I think I am consistent between the Cecil story and my own, is that as soon as people started making threats against the city planner in my case I IMMEDIATELY called for them to stop. I in no way condoned violence against him or his family, nor did I solicit people to commit vandalism against him or the city, nor did I call for criminal charges to be pressed against him (which, by the way was a hotly debated topic at the time about both him and the prosecutor…).

I am grateful to people who pointed out areas of the Cecil story where I may have been wrong (for example the amount of money that actually goes to local people where safaris take place), but the main outrage I had was over the idea that a story like that could spark violence against a person and take over the news. I haven’t heard one story discussing better protection for animals as a result, nor have I heard anyone talking about Zimbabwe tightening up any laws- all I have heard about is this dentist (many conflicting reports about his history of hunting) and all of the bad things being done to him or being contemplated about him.

If we want to get personal, I could say it reminds me of the people who said I really should have gone to jail over my garden, although in truth that never crossed my mind until someone else drew the initial parallel. I thought I was within the scope of the law (as did the dentist, from the stories I heard, although reading through the comments it seems that several readers heard different versions of the story…), and then I got blasted by an over-eager bureaucrat, as now the dentist is by those calling for his extradition to face criminal charges.

Anyway, I don’t want to belabor the point. I just thought it was an interesting observation and I wanted to comment. Have a great day.

I Hope My Lion Ears Deceive Me

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The recent uproar (pun intended) over the killing of Cecil the Lion has upset me on so many levels it is outrageous. The first few times I heard the news story I assumed it would quickly fade, to be replaced by something of actual substance.

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last few weeks, the problem that has disrupted the flow of chi in the universe is that a dentist from Minnesota (who has a vacation home in Florida) went on safari in Zimbabwe and killed a lion. This Lion was in a sanctuary of some sort, but was lured out by the leader of the safari (not by the dentist, mind you) and was subsequently killed.

Why this is shocking I don’t know, since safaris in Africa have been big business for as long as money has been printed. There are certain types of people who will pay- and pay a lot- for the chance to kill big game and do weird things with the bodies as trophies. It’s not my thing, but it brings needed money to local economies and I’m not about to debate animal conservation or the merits of hunting. In any case, loads of animals have been killed over time with nary a peep out of anyone, yet here comes Cecil the wonder-lion and everyone falls apart.

At first the story was just about the horror of the Death Of Cecil. I thought that was crazy in and of itself. Then it escalated to the demands for extradition of the dentist to face criminal charges and I was incredulous. When next I heard that the dentist and his family had to go into hiding due to threats against them, and that his home had been vandalized by the people who are so full of love for their fellow creatures that they couldn’t bear to see an animal hurt I just about lost my mind.

Okay, first of all, there is real news happening in the world. There are legitimate things to get outraged about. Women are being abused and raped and children are being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. How about some moral indignation over that? People are killing each other over trivialities so petty as to be incomprehensible to outsiders, yet Americans are up-in-arms over the death of a lion? The media seems angry about Cecil, but I’m angry about this “news” story. I think Joe Average Citizen needs to adjust his moral compass if he thinks that threatening someone’s family over a hunting trip is an okay thing to do, or he just might find his own family a target of similar violent rage the next time he does something randomly unacceptable, like running his air conditioning or eating fast food. I’m not sure that we have evolved as a society if we care so much about animals that we fail to care about humans.

And again I have to wonder why this is hot news. I wonder if in other countries people are sitting by their radios with rapt attention wondering about the fate of Cecil’s cubs (News update: he has 12 offspring who may be killed if a new male takes his place in the pride. News flash: it’s the animal kingdom; that’s how things work. Males fight for dominance all the time, and sometimes there is bloodshed and death. This is not unique to Cecil and could have happened whether the dentist came on the scene or not. Grow up, people. Nature is harsh.).

It would be great if there was no killing, no death, no genocide, no bad dreams, etc etc etc. But it would also be great if people wouldn’t act like idiots and stupid stories wouldn’t monopolize the news.

Just sayin’…

Hello, Jesus

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Last week *h was in an airport in the Midwest when he found himself standing next to a man in a T-shirt that said “Jesus”.

I told him that he should ask for his autograph, since he had never met Jesus before. That’s a pretty big deal, right?

*h agreed in theory, but before he could put our plan into action, he found himself surrounded by multiple “Jesus” claimants. Then hoards of “Jesus”. It seemed the airport was full of “Jesus” pretenders.

But then something even more perplexing happened. A bunch of folks appeared on the scene with shirts that read, “If found return to Jesus”.

So I asked *h, “Does that mean they want someone to kill them?”

Because if you believe Jesus is God and you want to be returned to him, doesn’t that kind of imply you want to, um, meet your maker?

Clearly *h is not the type to kill random strangers, much less in an airport in the Midwest, but it was odd that on an ordinary regular day everyone seemed to have a Jesus fascination.

It turned out that the two groups belonged to competing Jesus camps, which still didn’t completely clear up my confusion as to what the shirts were about. Was the first camp called Jesus, or were they encouraging the campers to rename themselves, or was this a camp slogan? And was the second camp located in a place called Jesus, or was the head counselor perhaps Hispanic, or was this just something a Jewish family would never understand?

All I really know is that was a lot of Jesus for just one day, and after thinking about it for over a week I am still no closer to untangling the mystery and none the wiser after knowing there were camps involved, although that seemed to put *h’s mind to rest somewhat. If I wear a shirt that says “Michael Jordan” I obviously don’t think I am Michael Jordan, but if I go around claiming to be the son of God people just might think something is a bit off with me.

For what it’s worth, though, I still think *h should have gotten an autograph, because in this day and age you just never know who you will meet in an airport…

Julie In The Hood

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Some of you raised some interesting points in the comment section of the last post, which I plan to go back and address. But for now I want to try to shed some light on how I feel about Detroit (and the surrounding areas). By the way, if you have an inkling of where exactly we may be moving, I will just ask you now to please not mention it by name on the blog for the sake of my family’s privacy, either to ask me if you are right or to just drop the name… I would prefer to keep the exact location private, at least for now, and I hope you will respect that…

My love for Detroit is somewhat akin to some people’s love of their first car. It may have been a beater, with dents and rust, but they will always look back fondly on that car and what it represented to them. Similarly, I will always hold an unnatural love in my heart for Detroit (and yes, even Oak Park).

Forgive me if these places mean nothing to you, but they mean a lot to me. I learned to drive on Woodward Ave. I went on dates to Rudy’s Chicken Lips. My friends and I went to Belle Isle on hot summer nights to sit on our car hoods with the rest of the ghetto kids who had nothing else to do but watch each other watching each other. We scoped out houses in Sherwood Forest and pretended one day that we would all be successful something-or-others and buy houses there, and then we went home to whatever crappy housing projects or lower-middle-class suburbs we really lived in and called each other and talked til all hours of the night. I went to divey bars in Cass Corridor to hear my friend’s band play and another friend’s poetry slam and see another friend’s art exhibit at a gallery he started. I remember the magic of driving to visit someone on the East Side, even though I was a West Side girl and as a point of pride we never actually crossed Woodward…

We skipped school at Taco Bell in Ferndale and shopped at Northland Mall back when Swatch watches were cool, but only the white kids in the suburbs had them (read: not me or any of my friends😉 ). We thought we owned Oak Park park, but only certain sections (we weren’t greedy, and we never would have monopolized toys that little kids needed), and we definitely owned the library (but only the nerdy ones of us, and the ones who had no way home after school. I had my first kiss, my first crush, and my first of pretty much everything in either Oak Park or Detroit proper, and there is no memory that shaped who I am as a person that doesn’t harken back to some place in Michigan.

There is nothing about me that doesn’t carry the stamp of my home state. I am every bit a Midwest girl, from my speech patterns to my mannerisms to my expectations of other people’s behavior. And the West Coast just has never lit my fire.

My kids were all born in either Detroit or a suburb of Detroit, and now like baby turtles it seems they are finding their way back to the place they were first launched.

I have missed Detroit like a Victorian lover missed her beloved. Chastely but pervasively. I have yearned for it and idealized it and built it up to be more than it is. I have become more of a Detroiter in Seattle than I ever was in Detroit. I have bought shirts proclaiming my Detroit-i-ness and renounced ties to Seattle at the slightest provocation (sorry, Seattle). I have forgotten my early happiness with the simple pleasures of Seattle and vastly over-rated the delights of Detroit. But that’s how it is with past loves. They are always especially ensconced in your heart.

But truly I am Detroit and Detroit is me. We have been separated for too long and it’s time for a reunion. I need to be where I am the most wholly myself, for better or for worse. Each of us has a foundational element to who we are, and if that foundation is somehow corrupted then our essence does not shine its brightest.

It’s time for me to shine again.

I hope Michigan will welcome me home:)

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