What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

I recently had a weird dream that was all jumbled up, but I recall that the question shrouded me in regret and remorse:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I jumped out of bed, grabbed my journal, and wrote it down.

Then I tossed and turned, asking myself the question over and over again.

It was a fitful night, and I finally gave up trying to sleep and began writing this blog post.

What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

What would you do?

Rosh Hashanah, a time of repenting and forgiveness, begins at sundown tonight—Friday, September 18.

There it is—that number 18. It always manages to creep up and in, whenever I’m soul searching.

“The days of awe,” also known as the “ten days of repentance,” include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days in between, during which time Jews reflect on how we cycle through the year, bring it to a close, and begin again.

I don’t know about you, but I could really use a new beginning.

In the old days, when I would attend Temple during the High Holy Days, I would recite the same prayers every year. Year after year, the same tedious prayers. But this year is like no other year.

In thinking about what has happened over the past twelve months, I am regretful that I ever thought the prayers were routine—or worse, boring.

So, I pulled out the prayers today. And yes, they’re the same old familiar prayers, but in a calming, rejuvenating way.

Like all of you, my circumstances have forever changed.

The past twelve months have brought and wrought a harrowing narrative coupled with a Groundhog Day corona-routine that has rocked my world.

I looked back in my journal to remind me of all the things that happened over my past twelve-month life. If only I could go back to a simpler, safer time. If only I could go back to twelve months ago.

Last September 18, I had a Me Too awakening that left me with a glorious sense of acceptance. Finally. And of course, it happened on the 18th.

In October, I drove with my husband to Manchester, Vermont, for a wedding. The wedding was terrific, but it was the hours of driving, exploring, and conversating that reminded me of why I love spending time with my guy.

In November, I flew to London with my daughter, and we had an unforgettable ten days. I had never been to the UK, and will probably never get there again. I wish I would have known that back then.

On December 31, I threw a New Year’s Eve party, and we all cheered and celebrated the coming of 2020 with steak, lobster, and champagne. Happy 2020! Happy New Year!

In January, my grandson turned ten years old! And I recall thinking that it seemed like yesterday that I gently held his tiny swaddled body at the hospital. Back in the day when I assumed that I had all the time in the world to spend with him.

In February, I celebrated my daughter’s birthday in Brooklyn, New York, at an annual Peter Luger’s extravaganza with her two best friends. Porterhouse, thick-cut bacon, and an ice-cold martini, oh my!

And then, well, everything changed.

On March 7, I went into quarantine. I haven’t left my house since.

I remember the date, not because Coronavirus happened, but because it was the birthday of a special someone. A someone I’ve never met and who is a beloved and integral part of what I would do if I weren’t afraid.

On April 3, I corona-celebrated my 67th birthday. How the hell did 67 happen? But the day is seared in my memory forever, not because I turned 67, but because my Aunt Mary and one of my best friends I affectionately called Annie Pannie, were both buried that day.

On May 10, I got to see my daughter for the first time since we celebrated her birthday in February. The best Mother’s Day ever.

On June 21, we spent Father’s Day with two of our grandchildren, albeit socially distant. We hadn’t seen them since the prior November. And wow, how they had grown.

On July 21, I was fired from my executive director job by the deputy mayor of Cedarhurst, New York, because I asked to sit out the promoting and organizing of the annual summer Sidewalk Sale, which in the past years brought thousands of people to the shopping village. Sorry, not sorry, but I didn’t see anywhere in my job description that it was okay to kill people.

In August, I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary with my husband corona-style, i.e., I warmed up whatever leftovers I had in my fridge, followed by a two-hour television binge of Married at First Sight.

And now, here we are on September 18, 2020.

I’m contemplating what I would do if I weren’t afraid—to reach out, and ask a most treasured person for their forgiveness.

I recently read that in asking for forgiveness, we often overlook the balance between the one who asks for forgiveness and the one who forgives.

I find it difficult to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made. And even though I recognize that I’m a work in progress, I continually beat myself up over events I wish I could go back and change.

I desperately want a do-over. A chance to make things right and put the mistakes and regrets behind me and out of my life forever.

I would ask for a second chance—that’s what I would do if I weren’t afraid.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve asked this person for forgiveness many times.

So many times that I’ve all but given up.

I said, “all but.”

Before I was Jewish, I was Catholic and taught that I was born with original sin. I always took that to mean that I was predisposed to making mistakes—a lot of them.

And I learned over the years that sh** happens. But it’s never too late to make amends.

I’ve personally given plenty of loved one’s numerous chances. Some took full and loving advantage, and others did not. But I don’t regret forgiving.

So, I’m going to ask for forgiveness, even though I’m afraid.

And I know that if I’m forgiven—which I probably won’t be—we will never be able to get back to the way we were. Asking and receiving forgiveness doesn’t mean all is erased.

I’m not naïve.

I know that if I’m forgiven, it will never eliminate the anguish of the injury or the memory of the pain I caused. I’m just hoping to break the impasse—to unbreak two hearts.

And tonight, when I light the Sabbath candles, I’ll pray for a new beginning. Not just for me, but for all of us.

Because we are in a very dark time, and there is way too much suffering and human wounds out there.

And even though I’m afraid, I will send that email. I won’t call because I know I’ll never get a callback.

I’m hoping, but not expecting a response to my apology.

And until I draw my last breath, I will pray for the courage to keep trying and to never lose hope.

Even though I’m afraid.

Adagio for Strings

In 1971, I majored in music theory and minored in piano at a little known college with a decent ranking music department in Brevard, North Carolina.

My most memorable class assignment was to write an essay about the one piece of work I would share with a friend to try to hook them into loving classical music.

The assignment was to choose the piece, write about the composer, and explain how it hooked me in.

I chose American composer Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

I never found the original essay, but I recently found a practice sketchbook full of poems and random thoughts, including a couple of pages about Barber and his magnificent work.

The notebook was a real find, and reading through the part about Adagio for Strings hit my own heartstrings and prompted me to bolt to the computer and write this blog post.

Samuel Barber was a pianist and just twenty-six years old when he wrote the approximately eight-minute second movement to his String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 — Quatuor Diotima.

His inspiration was Virgil’s Georgics, a didactic poem divided into four sections.

This is the passage from Georgic III that was supposed to have inspired Barber:

As in mid ocean when a wave far off
Begins to whiten, mustering from the main
Its rounded breast, and, onward rolled to land
Falls with prodigious roar among the rocks,
Huge as a very mountain: but the depths
Upseethe in swirling eddies, and disgorge
The murky sand-lees from their sunken bed.

I can almost envision Barber’s epiphanic reaction to Virgil’s genius, and how he might recreate its awe-inspiring impact through a sorrowful musical quartet of strings.

Reading The Georgics out loud in English today, while simultaneously listening to Adagio for Strings, I rediscovered myriad layers of beautiful, melodic, heartbreaking, and inspiring verses.

Barber wrote the movement while living in Austria in 1936, as the world watched while Adolf Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles and marched 22,000 troops into the Rhineland, just east of Germany’s border with France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Adagio of Strings didn’t have its debut until November of 1938 when America was still reeling from the Great Depression, Europe was sliding into the chaos of war, and the Nazis were terrorizing the German Jews.

Now, I don’t know if I’m describing the musicality of Adagio correctly, but for me, it quietly starts with the stirring simplicity of a single note played by the violins. It mournfully sits alone for two long beats, followed by the viola and the cello.

The movement gathers momentum in a sequential cathartic pattern of notes.

The piece triumphantly reaches its heartbreaking prodigious roar of a climax at just over six minutes, and you think it’s over.

It’s so moving; you almost need it to be over.

But it’s not.

While you take in the climatic enormity of what you’ve just heard, the deafening moment of silence is interrupted by a chilling second entrance. From the pent-up depths, the movement comes churning up from the sunken bed and then softly fades away.

Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow.

The coming and going. Or is it the decline and regrowth?

Music aficionado Sally White of Westport, Connecticut turned me on to Adagio for Strings back in the late ’60s. The first time I heard it, Sally literally held me up from crumbling into a heap.

Adagio of Strings was an enormous comfort to me in tough times, and I long ago decided that it would be the last act at my funeral.

My college essay notes were just a bunch of words and dangling modifiers, but reading them today, forty-eight years later, I sadly know exactly what I felt and meant to say.

The nuance

quiet

powerless but powerful

every quiet changing chord

changes

the reminder

of me

the slight rallentando

the teardrops falling

watching them

drip drop

sadness, loneliness

hopeless

manipulated

robbed

the rubato, the manipulation, the robbing

transparent

I can’t hide

no one can hide

the moving intimacy

the heartbreaking immediacy

the poignancy

emotional urgency

heartbreaking strings

heartstrings

moving quartet

That melancholy entrance

the heartbreaking climax. At the very end, two chords

Two seconds, maybe three,

Seems forever

The end

The string family

tragic

The violin, the baby

the viola, the older sister,

and the cello,

the cello.

Barber suffered from depression and alcoholism and died of cancer in 1981, at the age of 70.

Fast forward to 2005, when Dutch DJ and producer Tiësto turned Adagio of Strings into a dance extravaganza.

When I first heard it, I was beyond skeptical.

Tiësto started his repertoire with a thud thud thud.

I thought that the heavy pounding was no way to honor Barber’s classical movement.

And then Tiësto brilliantly stopped and paused for a second before throwing in the original Adagio angst.

I weirdly yelled out, YESSSSS loudly.

Then he shouted, “Make some noise,” and broke into a fist-pumping feel-good anthem that was invigorating and filled me with hope and recovery.

Tiësto took Adagio of Strings from its original heartbreak and conquest to liberation and salvation.

Make some freakin’ noise.

Like BAM—try as you might, nothing is going to take me down.

Ever.

The full String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 (Quatuor Diotima) by Samuel Barber. 

Winter Is Coming

I am deeply entrenched in a two-person pandemic pod with no outdoor possibilities at the end of the tunnel.

And my plus-one solitary confinement doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.

I check out Facebook for proof of outside life. And it distresses me to see so many people living seemingly normal ones.

Not because I’m not happy for them. But because I’m not ready for normal. I don’t think that normal as I once knew it, will ever exist for me again.

I’m feeling awkward and downright anxious about socially interacting with others. And the thought of returning to my normal life terrifies me.

It took just six months for my values to upend themselves. The person I was BC (before Corona) has disappeared.

I’ve become a pro at mani-pedis. I’m okay with my greying hair. I read more, I write more, and I love that I know every single ingredient that I put into my mouth. I‘m not only eating healthier, but I also have a consistent and successful workout routine. It took a plague to reach my weight goal.

I watch the birds build their family nests, I revel in my dollhouse projects, and yes, I literally smell the roses in my back yard—a lot.

I grew tomatoes and scallions for the first time, I’m adept at pruning my trees, and I’m okay with scrubbing our four toilets. Scrub a dub dub—my house has never been cleaner.

But there is a dark side to my confinement.

The longer I stay in, the less I want to venture out.

The mere thought of having to go to my doctor for a flu shot causes my heart to pound.

And I haven’t been to a grocery store in six months.

Let me rephrase that: I haven’t been anywhere in six months, and I have no immediate plans to leave my house before spring.

Well, I take that back. I plan on getting a flu shot, no matter how stressful. And come hell or high water, I am going to vote.

I watch what’s happening in the real world through the lens of my living room bay window.

Day in and day out, I obsessively observe outside life from the safety and security of my inside life.

I see a ton of thirty-something families walking and socializing together.

Without masks.

I see young children playing together and teenagers walking with their friends.

I see cars coming and going.

But what I don’t see are any old folks. And I don’t see any older adults visiting the young families on my block.

Although I recently saw an elderly couple get out of their car and wave to the family across the street from us—one measly sixty-something couple.

My young neighbors apparently just had a baby, because the mommy carefully and proudly held up her bundle of joy for the older people to see.

Watching this family blow socially distanced kisses to each other brought me to tears.

It also made me think about the logistics of how and when my husband and I would re-emerge from our self-imposed confinement.

Would we take the outdoor plunge together? What if he’s ready and I’m not? I shuddered at the thought and forced myself to put it out of my head.

From the confines of my property lot, I have wistfully watched spring and summer come and go.

And I am mentally preparing myself for winter.

To quote the motto of House Stark: “WINTER IS COMING.”

The meaning behind the Game of Thrones mantra was to prepare for the worst. It was a dire warning combined with persistent vigilance to be ready for anything that could happen. And whatever happened was always BAD.

The Starks, who were the rulers of the North, ceaselessly prepared for the coming of winter, which inevitably hit them devastatingly hard.

The word winter was used as a metaphor to convey the dark and cold season and the imminent danger, destruction, and death.

When the words “Winter is Coming” were uttered, it was always right before the sh*t was about to hit the fan.

As I gaze out my bay window and watch the leaves turning brown, I’m hoping for a brave new world.

But in my heart, I know winter is coming.

And I’m not ready.

When the Moon Meets the Sun

This past Saturday marked 25 weeks since I have self-quarantined with my husband.

Day in and day out, all I have is Zoom, my husband, my cooking, my blog, my dollhouse projects, and the television.

Watching the protests from the safety of my home has hit me in a way I have never felt before.

At 67 years old, I’ve finally figured out that the legacy of slavery continues to devastate black lives.

It took a coronavirus pandemic for me to realize that there was already a pandemic in America. A plague way worse than the coronavirus.

How naïve I’ve been to think that we were all in this together.

Together? No. Not so.

I watch the news, and I see the hateful Facebook posts from people that I thought I knew, and I wonder if blacks will ever achieve racial equality in this country.

My husband discovered the Americana girl band Our Native Daughters while listening to an Israeli radio station on his nightly walk through our local park.

Their song Moon Meets the Sun inspired him so much that when he got home, he excitedly searched YouTube for me to hear it.

The lyrics were haunting, and they made me so mad.

They made me want to help somehow, but I’m stuck in my house, and I’m afraid to venture out.

The longer I stay in, the harder it is to make a move.

I want so badly to fix something.

Anything.

But I can’t even leave my house, so how the hell can I fix racism?

When the day is done, the moon meets the sun, we’ll be dancing. You put the shackles on our feet. But we’re dancing. You steal our very tongue. But we’re dancing. You steal our children. But we’re dancing. You make us hate our very skin. But we’re dancing.

Please listen to the song.

The sun and the moon align every 18 years.

My lucky number is 18.

The Hebrew word for “life” is (chai), which has a numerical value of 18.

And over and over again, the number 18 and multiples of 18 have had an eerie significance in my life.

I thought about the number 18 as it relates to what’s happening to our country and how 18 might fix it.

And then I thought about all those 18-year old kids that need to vote.

They need to fix us.

I pray the kids will make the change.

When you’ve finished listening to Moon Meets the Sun, there is another YouTube video by Our Native Daughters titled Barbados that you must watch. The link to it is at the bottom of this blog post.

Barbados left me remorseful and covered with goosebumps. It’s more of a poem than a song.

And it got stuck in my head.

So much so, that I needed to share it with someone, somewhere out there.

Barbados

I own I am shocked at the purchase of slaves
And fear those who buy them and sell them are knaves
What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and groans
It’s almost enough to draw pity from stones

I pity them greatly, but I must be mum
For how could we do without sugar and rum?
Especially sugar, so needful we see?
What? Give up our desserts, our coffee, and tea?!

Besides, if we do, the French, Dutch, and Danes
Will heartily thank us, no doubt, for our pains
If we do not buy the poor creatures, they will
And tortures and groans will be multiplied still

I own I am shocked at prisoners in the mines
And kids sewing clothes for our most famous lines
What I hear of their wages seems slavery indeed
It’s enough that I fear it’s all rooted in greed

I pity them…

I pity them greatly, but I must be mum
For what about nickel, cobalt, lithium?
The garments we wear, the electronics we own?
What? Give up our tablets, our laptops, and phones?!

Besides, if we do, the prices will soar
And who could afford to pay one dollar more?
Sitting here typing it seems well worth the price
And you there, listening on your favorite device
This bargain we’re in, well, it’s not quite illicit
So relax, my friend, we’re not all complicit

Please watch Barbados

 

Disillusioned Trumpite Blues

Woody Logan, who wrote this poem/song, reached out to me last Saturday.

I’m not bragging when I say that I get a ton of emails, story ideas, songs, poems—a whole gamut of emotional material.

But I have to say that when I read Woody’s lyrics, they got to me on so many levels.

And the guy is so humble and wants you to know that “Admittedly I sing horribly. Perhaps somebody can do it better.”

His singing ability was of no relevance to me.

His words, his plight, his poetic verse showed me a side of the “other side” I have never understood, or dare I say, embraced before.

Woody has laid his poem down as a blues song in two versions. The Short Sampler (3 minutes) and the Full Epic (21 minutes), both of which I have included at the end of this blog post.

I’ll let Woody’s poem/song speak for itself, except I can’t help but highlight the lyrics that hit me the hardest.

Like:

“Throughout the ages, when the gap between haves and have-nots. Gets intolerable, and the blue collars don’t have a lot. There is a revolution, that puts the privileged on the trot.”

Or:

“I’ve also realized, I was becoming a person of hate. But hate’s not a human condition, it springs from a fearful state. So facing our challenges with courage, can make our Nation great.”

And:

“Our man promised he would even out the quid, yes we knew he’s evil, but that’s how desperate we had slid.”

And this:

“T’was on a Fox news program, that I saw something on his wall. It was a gilded frame, there to see for all. “Kill The Messenger” in big letters, for me it was a wake-up call.”

I ask you to please take the time to read the poem in its entirety by the talented Woody Logan.

Disillusioned Trumpite Blues

When it comes to voting, I really don’t have a plan.
There’s nothing to consider, just go vote Republican.
That’s my obligation, and so I just do what I can.

But now I’m having trouble, thinkin’ ‘bout who I did choose.
I was all for him, didn’t want the man to lose.
What have I done, got the disillusioned Trumpite blues.

First it was funny, not one journalist figured it out.
Why he was elected, what was it all about.
If they had studied history, there was no need for them to pout.

Throughout the ages, when the gap between haves and have-nots.
Gets intolerable, and the blue collars don’t have a lot.
There is a revolution, that puts the privileged on the trot.

This is the main reason, we voted just like we did.
Because our man promised, that he would even out the quid.
Yes we knew he’s evil, but that’s how desperate we had slid.

Like a good Republican, he was the master of the FUD factor.
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, he deployed like a skilled transactor.
Journalists and politicians, spent every day trying to decipher.

Even though psychiatrists, predicted it in a big book.
That his narcissism without empathy, was very much like a crook.
He kept them running in circles, just by spouting gobbledygook.

While government in America, was like a three-legged stool.
Executive, Congressional, Judicial, that’s how we did rule.
He made it one leg, two-braces, that’s how he did retool.

He’d disagree with what you said, and your right to say it.
Refitting facts to his words, was something he did quite a bit.
This pleased the Trumpites, who said he had a lot of grit.

Manipulating the media, was keeping his base entertained.
Even though his credibility, was getting very stained.
That’s why we loved him, and why our loyalty remained.

Slowly but surely, the wool has been pulled from my eyes.
I started to see a glimmer, that Trump was not all blue skies.
His promises aren’t being delivered, no matter how hard he tries.

T’was on a Fox news program, that I saw something on his wall.
It was a gilded frame, there to see for all.
“Kill The Messenger” in big letters, for me it was a wake-up call.

As a born-again Christian, conflict crept into my mind.
“What would Jesus do?” was absent, I started to see, where once I was blind.
We Trumpites are good hearted, but our leader he is unkind.

I started paying attention, to what the “others” did say.
Things like the following, filled me with great dismay.
I started to question, had I been led astray?

We Trumpites need to ask ourselves these questions, as time is running out:
+ Is he a national health crisis? Psychotherapy is up 400%.
+ Is he smarter than any general?
+ Did he never mature beyond 14?
+ Does he use circular logic or irrational logic?
+ Will it take decades for America to recover?
+ Are decades of social and civil advances being reversed?
+ Have hate crimes quadrupled since he took office?
+ How is he doing on promised deliverables?
+ Did Mexico pay for a wall?
+ Is the way to defeat the virus to stop testing for it, as he said?
+ How many of his efforts have been reversed, cancelled, or overturned?
+ Is he all talk and no action?
+ Does he belittle everybody who has a different opinion?
+ Why does he claim no responsibility for anything that happens?
+ Is he showing symptoms of mental deterioration?
+ Are we being led by a lunatic?
+ Are all of his problems self-induced?
+ Why do his enablers do it?
+ Does he believe exercise is bad for you?
+ Are we Trumpites just jingoistic flag-waving sheep?
+ Does America really not have room for refugees?
+ Is restricting voter rights a good Republican strategy? Must we cheat to win?
+ Has he earned the right to another four years?
+ Can America move forward while looking backward?
+ Did he make America great?

Then I heard the report, from his wives all three.
Their marriages were never consummated, on wedding nights you see.
He’d just sit on the edge of the bed, and tell them how good it would be.

“He’s a blithering idiot”, said my friend who is no chump.
What does that mean I thought, I really was in a stump.
When I looked it up in a dictionary, all it said was “See Trump”.

Then did I finally notice, reoccurring before our eyes.
With each and every issue, regarding Trump that did arise.
A 3D plan of action: Deny then Distract then Decriminalize.

What’s wrong with me I wondered, with conflict in my mind.
Look up “Cognitive Dissonance”, said a caring friend of mine.
And that human condition, pretty much explains it fine.

It’s said he never reads a book, nor listens to anybody around.
So when he marched to a church, and held the bible upside down.
I had to wonder, is he the biggest hypocrite in town.

We Republicans for years, have claimed the moral high ground.
But Trump preaches intolerance, not the love we consider sound.
What are the consequences, are we no longer heaven bound?

I’ve also realized, I was becoming a person of hate.
But hate’s not a human condition, it springs from a fearful state.
So facing our challenges with courage, can make our Nation great.

I’m not saying that I’m well now. Mixed emotions carry on.
But I’ve switched to Independent, and to you I call upon.
Be a free thinking person. Be smarter from now on.

Stop being narrow minded. Pull your head out from the sand.
Deploy your Christian values. History helps you understand.
Apply the golden rule, like Jesus did command.

If you are having trouble, thinkin’ ‘bout who you did choose.
We’re all in this together, what more can we really lose?
We can rise above the fray and stop those disillusioned Trumpite blues.

Short Sampler (3 mins) …… https://youtu.be/7g78vibyEe8

Full Epic (21 mins) …………… https://youtu.be/knYBFEENG4c

2020 Cedarhurst Sidewalk Sale: I Was Fired for Seeking the Truth

Yes, this blog post headline is sadly real.

I was fired on Tuesday, July 21, for seeking the truth about whether or not holding this year’s Cedarhurst New York sidewalk sale would be legal.

At least I think I was fired. I never received a termination letter or anything in writing.

Nevertheless, I’m definitely out of a job.

For over ten years, I was the Executive Director of The Cedarhurst Business Improvement District, and the centerpiece of my position was the annual Cedarhurst summer sidewalk sale.

Last year, close to 85 merchants participated in the four-day event, every parking lot in the village was packed, and thousands of shoppers participated.

Year after year, it was an event I had always been proud of organizing, promoting, and running.

But to bring thousands of people to Cedarhurst this summer, smack in the middle of an epidemic and an array of emergency laws and executive orders established as a result?

Not so much.

And unless the event was legal and permitted, I wanted no part of it.

Do I need to explain why?

One of my favorite quotes (by F. Scott Fitzgerald):

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”

Yeah, I have something to say.

To be fired for doing my job?  Well, that’s just flat out WRONG.

To be fired for seeking the truth? WRONG.

To be fired for wanting to ensure that the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District and the Village of Cedarhurst didn’t sponsor an illegal public gathering? WRONG.

And get this one:

I get fired, and the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District now decides NOT to move ahead with the possibly illegal August Sidewalk Sale?

So WRONG.

We are in the midst of a pandemic.

I mean seriously, do I need to remind anybody of that?

Health officials have warned against large gatherings. The larger the crowd, the greater the chance that someone in it will have the virus. As the size of the crowd increases, so do the chances of COVID-19 exposure.

Duh.

When I was instructed to start work on the annual sidewalk sale in early July, I didn’t know whether the event was legal or not.

Under the present circumstances, it sure didn’t seem like inviting thousands of people to descend upon a quarter-mile shopping area was the safest idea.

So, I got permission from my boss to make some calls to New York State and Nassau County to get a written statement as to the legality of the sidewalk sale.

Seemed like a no brainer, right?

Call your state and local government during a PANDEMIC and get the go-ahead. Or not.

Well, so much for a no brainer.

Over two weeks, I made at least twenty attempts to get someone in the State or County government to put something in writing.

No one wanted to put anything in written form.

Heck, no one wanted to give me their last names.

I had plenty of people willing to tell me verbally that the event was not allowed, would be reported, and a fine would be issued.

But not one of those government officials would put it in writing.

Why not? I didn’t get it. Were they afraid of something?

It seemed that the only one who had the guts to put anything in writing was me.

And once I sent a written report about my findings, things got u-g-l-y.

Heartbreakingly ugly.

I heard a lot of nasty stuff about me. My mental health, my unwillingness to do my job, finger-pointing as to my allegedly redacting and tampering with my workplace databases.

As if that weren’t enough, there were false claims about me being fired from my Executive Director position years earlier, as well as accusations that I lied about what state and county representatives recently told me.

Seriously?

BTW: ALL UNTRUE. And all of which I can prove to be untrue.

And as incredible as it may sound, there were also accusations about my daughter (yes, my daughter) concerning what I will refer to as Zoomgate.

There’s even supposed to be a taped conversation proving that despicable and untrue things were indeed said about me.

Unseemly, right?

I didn’t see anywhere in my Executive Director job description that said it was okay to kill people.

Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. Or maybe it’s not.

Because it’s no stretch that increases in new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in 43 states this past week. And hospitalizations from the disease also increased. And COVID-19 deaths rose for the second straight week.

So why wouldn’t I question whether throwing a sidewalk sale party was legal or not?

Apparently, questioning the legality of the event was not allowed.

And refusing to work on the sale event unless I knew it was legal, was also impermissible.

And that’s why I lost my job.

Honestly, I really didn’t want to write this blog post.

But I felt compelled because I have something to say.

The character assassination by the Village of Cedarhurst Deputy Mayor Ari Brown against me was devastatingly vicious and wholly untrue.

To be clear, I would have been willing to let the false accusations go if Ari Brown would have apologized.

Anyway, too late for apologies.

Because Ari Brown was the one who engineered my removal as Executive Director, so now the stakes are a whole lot higher, don’t you think?

For certain men, their actions aren’t a matter of principle. Their actions are a matter of power, and of winning—at any cost.

Even if it means trying to ruin someone’s reputation; in this case—mine.

My grandmother would always say that the only thing you have is your reputation and your good name, and to never let anyone take that away from you.

But that, my dear deceased grandmother, is easier said than done. But I’m working on it.

All I can do at this point is to feel pride at having done my due diligence.

And I can tell my grandkids that during the pandemic, I sought the truth in order to protect a village, the merchants, the shoppers, and the community at large.

And for that, I was fired.

I’ll take it.

I’ll proudly wear that badge of honor.

Why Bullies Trigger Me

I am continually asking myself:

Why do I allow bullies to trigger me?

Long ago, I should have learned that bullies have no power over me. And most importantly, that bullies have no power at all.

But trigger me, they do.

I was bullied for way too many of my younger years.

Bullied because I didn’t have a father.

Bullied because my mother was a child.

Bullied because I came from a broken home.

Bullied because my mother was excommunicated.

Bullied because my grandmother was excommunicated.

Bullied because I wore boy’s shoes.

Bullied because I was too tall, too skinny, awkward, scrawny, and homely.

Bullied because there was nothing special about me.

There I said it. So what?

There are millions of bullied kids out there with far worse problems.

And okay; so what if I wore boy’s shoes?

I had big feet.

And anyway, that was what was left in a bag on our Huron Street doorstep fresh from Goodwill.

Be thankful, was what my grandmother said.

So yeah, when I’m bullied, I lash out.

And I often go from zero to 100—just like that.

I have no tolerance for bully behavior.

And between us? I often feel regret for my aggressive response.

But then, I don’t.

I feel vindicated.

I feel like I’m making up for all those years that I was torturously bullied.

I decided a long time ago that I could be the heroine in my story.

Sometimes the story works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.

My Coronavirus Dollhouse

Back in 1975, my baby sister got a dollhouse for Christmas.

It was a classic white clapboard house with a black shingled roof and black shutters. It had eight good size rooms and was a replica of the house she lived in, so I dubbed it “The Blind Brook House.”

I was a Delta flight attendant, living in Miami at the time, but thirteen hundred miles didn’t stop me from being obsessed with all things dollhouse. That Christmas, I spent a fortune on furniture for Blind Brook and spent countless hours helping my sister set it all up.

I loved that dollhouse more than she did, and for whatever reason, it never caught her attention. By the following Christmas, it was relegated to the attic, where it languished for sixteen years.

In 1991, when the attic got cleaned out, the house was rediscovered, and I became the proud owner of the Blind Brook homestead.

The dollhouse was dirty and cobwebby and needed a paint job.  My daughter was three years old at the time, and I figured she would love it. But like my sister, she didn’t have much of an interest in it at all.

Ironically, it was my seven-year-old son who loved Blind Brook. He helped me paint, carpet, and install stairs. We cleaned off all the furniture and set up the rooms according to his layout.

Soon after, my son lost interest in the dollhouse. So once again, it ended up in an attic—this time mine.

When we moved in 1996, the dollhouse was yet again rediscovered.

I wasn’t sure where we would put it, or if we even had room for it, but there was never a doubt in my mind that the Blind Brook house was coming with me.

At the time I dusted it off, and even though it needed a paint job, no one was interested in working on it with me, so I stuck it on a table in my daughter’s room with the front of the house facing forward, and we all forgot about it.

In 2017, my two granddaughters discovered the house and asked me what was behind the front door.

They were obsessed with it and wanted me to turn it around so they could see it from the back. I had all but forgotten that the house was full of furniture, and they loved it.

My oldest granddaughter wanted to know where the family was. Had they gone out? What did they look like? How many were there? Was there a cat?

Family? Cat?

I’m not sure why, but Blind Brook never had a family in it. Or any pets.

The strangest part is that I never even noticed the house was without a family, nor did anyone ever ask for one.

But my precious granddaughter wanted a family in that house, so I ordered one online—a mom, a dad, a little boy, a little girl, and a newborn baby.

The next time my granddaughter played with the house, she asked for a cat. So, I ordered a kitten. And a dog.

Fast forward to January 2020, when my husband and I bought her a dollhouse of her own. And she insisted that I buy her the exact family I had in my dollhouse. And of course, a cat of her own. And a kitty.

I was so looking forward to playing dollhouse with her. But then life changed, and all we could do was Zoom.

I began to look at Blind Brook from a whole other perspective. I was in quarantine, and so was my Blind Brook family.

As news of the virus got worse, I pulled out walls, and the staircase, to make larger rooms so that more people could fit into them.

While ordering corona supplies on Amazon, I threw in a miniature television and water cooler for my dollhouse. I wasn’t able to find real people toilet paper, so I ordered lots and lots of miniature toilet paper instead.

 

When the coronavirus death toll spiked and took my Aunt Mary, I bought another family—a husband, a wife, a little girl, and three more babies.

There were no ventilators, no masks, and no federal government leadership.

As I listened to the grimmest of grim reports day in and day out, I would take a daily reprieve from reality. With scissors, glue, and tape in hand, I went into fantasy mode.

I couldn’t do anything about the horrors outside my house, but I was in complete control of Blind Brook.

I added lighting and wallpaper, flooring, books, a dining room table, dishes, sandwiches, a menorah, bowls of tomato soup, and some beer on ice.

I tried to stay away from the news and binged on Dead To Me. By the time I finished Season Two, we were at 100,000 dead.

What could I do? What could I do?

I set my mini self up in the Blind Brook television room and invited my friend, Robin, and my sister G for some wine and cheese, and potato chips. I sat back with Robin and we watched Dead To Me together, side by side, while my animal-loving sis played with the kitten.

But the lonely would not go away.

so I went for a bike ride and wore a mask, but I couldn’t breathe.

Build a fire. Think happy thoughts.

And then came the murder of George Floyd. He couldn’t breathe either.

But not because of some stupid mask.

I shut down and drank too much wine.

I installed windows in every Blind Brook room to let in the light, and I bought a kitchen clock and a grandma and grandpa.

As the protests raged, I sat on the floor, staring at my therapeutical masterpiece.

I was then that I noticed that the clock on the wall was set for 8:18. Or was it 8:17?

At 1:12 scale, it was near impossible to decipher the exact time. I wanted it to be 8:18. For anyone who knows me, 18 is my go-to number.

When I messengered a friend about the systemic pandemic within a pandemic and my thoughts on 8:18 vs. 8:17, she quoted Luke 8:17:

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

That’s when I decided to pull myself together. I reminded myself that I had come out the other end of a lot of bad stuff.

I was a warrior.

Covid-19 wasn’t going to be the straw that broke my back.

So, I added another six women, two men, a dog, a birdhouse, and a teenage girl who’s still on backorder along with my real people toilet paper.

It finally felt like enough.

Blind Brook was full of family and friends. Lots of togetherness despite my fourteen weeks in isolated quarantine.

My sister Georgette thinks my dollhouse needs its own Instagram account.

I think my Blind Brook family needs a real life again.

A Time to Kill

The 1996 film A Time to Kill is about Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), a heartbroken black man whose ten-year-old daughter was brutally beaten and raped by two white supremacists.

As the two men arrive at court for their trial, Hailey takes the law into his own hands and shoots and kills them.

He hires Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), a white rookie lawyer to defend him, but getting him acquitted in the small segregated town of Canton, Mississippi seems unlikely.

The chain of events following the death of the two rapists and the subsequent trial of Hailey is fraught with racial tension and revenge by the Ku Klux Klan.

I will never forget Brigance’s closing argument because it profoundly affected me in a way I did not expect.

And it forever changed the way I thought about a lot of things.

You might be asking, how is that possible?

Here is what he said:

Now I want to tell you a story. I’m going to ask y’all to close your eyes while I tell you this story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves.

This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl.

Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field, and they tie her up, and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on her, first one then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure — vicious thrusts — in a fog of drunken breath and sweat. And when they’re done, after they killed her tiny womb, murdered any chance for her to bear children, to have life beyond her own, they decide to use her for target practice. So, they start throwing full beer cans at her. They throw them so hard that it tears the flesh all the way to her bones — and they urinate on her.

Now comes the hanging. They have a rope; they tie a noose. Imagine the noose pulling tight around her neck and a sudden blinding jerk. She’s pulled into the air, and her feet and legs go kicking, and they don’t find the ground. The hanging branch isn’t strong enough. It snaps, and she falls back to the earth. So, they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck, and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge and pitch her over the edge. And she drops some 30 feet down to the creek bottom below.

Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body, soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood — left to die.

Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl.

Now imagine she’s white.

The defense rests your honor.