Movie Time

I love movies. Comedies, drama, and action movies – I like all kinds of movies. Must have entertainment. I like the whole movie experience – unga bunga, give me popcorn. So, it is no surprise that as I mentioned previously, I LOVE NETFLIX! I want to shout it loud. I want everyone to know. I think it is an awesome system. I get a movie, watch it, put it in my mailbox, and two days later I have another movie. I do not have to leave my house – all my entertainment arrives in my mailbox. They even use the word queue, a nice, dignified, and reasonable term, to note the list of movies I have waiting for me. Beau-ti-ful.  I just wish I had bought stock in the company a couple of years ago.

Summers are the time when I make my way through my queue sometimes seeing as many as 20 movies in the months of July and August. I catch up on movies that I was not able to get to the previous winter. So, seeing all those movies is a type of organizing. Well, I tell myself this as it makes me feel that it really is a good use of time. Also, I get to eat popcorn. Why does it taste better with a movie? I’ve watched movies just so I could eat popcorn.

What’s the point? This summer has been mediocre. Mediocre! Sing it with me. That’s all I seem to see this summer.  Nothing has been that kind of movie that makes you put down the computer so you don’t miss one line of dialogue. They are all reviewed by wife and me as “it was okay. Some good parts. No, Sara, you did not miss much when you fell asleep.”  I need more. So, can you help me? Do you have a recommendation? Please. The summer is almost over, and I need a good movie.  Darn Hollywood!

Quality Time

Everything is relative, at least that is what Einstein said. I don’t know the context in which he said that and based on my low science IQ, I probably would not understand it very well anyway. Yet, I do understand the quote as it stands.  I want to talk about 2 ½ hours. This would be short if we were talking about the length of a work day, the time it takes to write a full length novel, or how long Angelina Jolie acquires children. However 2 ½ hours to wait in line is a long time regardless of what you are waiting for.  

As a public school teacher, I am a city government worker. My mother and two of my aunts worked for the federal government. My mother hated it and took it personally when people made comments such as all government workers are lazy and incompetent.  I completely understand where she is coming from. I feel the same when people make negative comments about teachers, lumping us all together. On top of that, I am one of the few people who still defends snail mail. I think it is reliable (particularly when it comes to Netflix – btw, I LOVE NETFLIX – more on that another time) and reasonable. So, I have an appreciation or at least an open mind when it comes to government workers and their productivity.

I was in Lodi, New Jersey recently with my nearly 5 year old son. What were we doing there, you may be wondering? Well, I had to renew my driver’s license, which did not seem like a big deal to me. I got together proof of identity, filled out the paperwork, and made sure I had a form of payment. After doing the food shopping, we headed to the DMV around 11:00. After circling the parking lot and finally finding a spot ¼ mile away, we walked to the front of the line, where there were three cordoned off areas to stand. Now, there were no signs to indicate what each line represented, so everyone who walked up had to ask the people in back of the line to make sure they were in the right place. We found our way to the back of the longest line.  The line was outside of the building.

We eventually got into the building (cel-e-brate, good times, whoo hoo) where we waited in another line to give our information to the DMV worker. We then were given a number (not lucky 85) and told to find a seat (if we could – in this case it is so convenient to have a child) and wait for our number to be called. We had been waiting 45 minutes by this time, which was about the time I was anticipating the whole process taking.  This made it noon time – big mistake!!!. The wait to have my number called was stalled. While there were 14 stations to handle customer matters, only 1 or 2 were being manned. Over approximately 45 minutes, there were, at best, a handful of people who were being assisted. Are you kidding me? I understand everyone deserves a lunch break, but do they all need to take it at the same time?  Let them text each other if they want to catch up on conversation. Who planned this work cycle? The Politburo? 

After finally getting my license, my son (who behaved extremely well despite woeful planning on my part which, by the way, makes me management material at the DMV) repeatedly asked why do we have to keep waiting in lines? I think it was a brilliant question to which I had no answer. So long, 2 ½ hours.

Love Changes

My wife and I attended a wedding a today of friends of ours.  It is the second marriage of the bride, a mother of two, whose first husband died tragically. For the husband, it is his first marriage.  They are not kids and therefore go into marriage with a history which hopefully, they have learned from. Either way, a wedding represents a beginning filled with great hope and anticipation. It’s as if all is possible.

My wife and I were one of five couples at our table. We all know each other well and are on a friendly basis. One more thing that connects us is we all have young children. Anyway, as the speeches were being made and the talk came of love and family, our table was silent.  I think the silence was not just out of respect and decency, but instead, it was out of knowing. Maybe this is true of older couples as well, but I think you get to a point where you delude yourself again. Anyway, we all know that marriage is challenging with some days rougher than others. Life happens and with it comes joys, accomplishments, disappointments, frustrations, etc.  The years and experiences leave us changed and therefore, the love also has to develop, grow, and adapt. That love you feel on your wedding day and around that special moment, which is so awesome, is fleeting.  The love must change because the person you are changes as well.

My wife has said multiple times she does not believe in the old axiom don’t go to bed angry.  In my book, this does not make her cruel or unfeeling. Nope, it makes her smart. We are exhausted at the end of the day from kids, work, hectic, run-run – life. By the time we get to bed, it’s possible that something has occurred to leave us ticked off at each other.  Some of these reasons are valid and need attention, while others are simpler and are more easily handled. Either way, it would be nice to talk things out and make nice (yeah baby) before bed, but there are times when you just need the sleep.  However, I don’t need to have every day end happy to know that what we have works. Knowing that another day is coming which hopefully will find us refreshed or at least more energetic is often enough comfort and necessary. Therefore, I choose another axiom: everything can wait.

Oh, one more piece of advice. Know when to keep your mouth shut, agree, and, when necessary, lie.

Family Tonic

Someone forwarded me an article the other day which I happened to read. In my drive for organization, I often delete this type of item with barely a glance. I take great joy and feel a sense of accomplishment when my inbox is empty (unlike my gas tank).  Everything has been handled – ahh, relax. Anyway, the article is about a Jewish man who is 101 years old.  He and his wife lived in Poland around World War II. They left their one and a half year old daughter on a doorstep of a lawyer and his wife who did not have a child. They hoped that the lawyer and his wife wanted a child. They put a crucifix on her and a note begging that she be taken care of. What must that have been like – leaving your baby on the steps of a stranger ignoring her cries as you walk away?  I can’t imagine. Ultimately, the man survived the Holocaust, but his wife did not.  He also fought as part of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.  The article goes on to tell of the difficulties the man had in finding his daughter after the war and the life they made for themselves.

Yesterday was August 10th, the day of my maternal grandmother’s birthday. Actually, that is when she celebrated it.  Her birthday and the exact year she was born remain a mystery. Records were not kept in Russia when she was born, at least not for Jews.  It’s as if she and all the Jews did not matter all that much.  They could live on their shtetls and try to avoid pogroms and eke out a living, but as individuals they did not matter. Ultimately, my grandmother, along with three of her siblings and her mother, escaped Russia and after an extended stop-over in Romania made it to America where her father had been working for 10 years in order to bring them over.  A few years after arriving in America, my grandmother met my grandfather and the rest is history – well family history – as they say.  My grandmother chose to have her birthday on August 10th because that was also her wedding anniversary (Yesterday would have been their 81st anniversary. My paternal grandparents got married August 9th 80 years ago.)  I think that says a great deal about the kind of person she was. Birthdays are a time when an individual is celebrated – cake, presents, etc. However, she chose to forego all that and instead celebrate her birth on the same day as her marriage. My grandmother faced the difficulties an immigrant faces in addition to medical and financials struggles, but she and my grandfather got by.  Ultimately, for my grandmother it was about family, the kinder, – that was the most important thing to her.

My grandmother and the gentleman noted above come from a different world than the one we live in today. It was a world where Jews were irrelevant and much worse. It is easy to imagine that the drive to survive in a hard world could leave one bitter and angry. However, the tonic they found in family is one we can all look to today as well.