Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vox Pops

It's not just politics, you know.

The overwhelming cacaphony of bad news and sad news comes from a number of sources, and they all give me a headache. Politics, of course. The endless noise, the talking heads, the gleefully unprofessional media commentators and news anchors, the sociopathological candidates and their chanting sycophants, the dreadfully self-righteous print media, the misguided, vacuous, self-important celebrities threatening to leave this country if so-and-so wins, the everyday Facebookers inexplicably crazed by the political hype while rushing to repost unvetted dreck, and underneath it all, the terrible realization that while we lived through Nixon and Carter and Bush 43 and most of the Obama years, we may not have the strength to survive another 4 or 8 years under whichever sociopath weasals into the Oval Office. Yeah, politics not only give me an eye-popping headache, but a chest-cracking series of palpitations. I'm angry and scared and profoundly disappointed and disgusted. There is so much meanness out there, and not just in politics. And stupidity and bombastity and foolish pride and fiscal irresponsibility.

If I rely on social media to gauge the people of the United States, Americans are some of the meanest, cruelest, and greediest bastards around. Our government is chillingly corrupt and has been for many years.  Politicians, teachers, coaches, clergymen, celebrities, parents - crossing lines that should never be crossed, behaving like rutting animals towards the young, the helpless, the defenseless.

I am finding it hard to watch television ads; the constant haranguing for monthly contributions, every one of them a worthy cause, but they never stop. Each story, each picture, each wounded veteran and disabled child, each cancer victim, each mistreated animal, portrayed so heartbreakingly it's all you can do not to weep. But that effort costs dearly, the effort not to be worn down and overwhelmed by the profound sadness of life, and I for one internalize it, until it causes me physical pain. And I haven't even talked about ISIL, Iran, Russia, Syria, North Korea, the refugee crisis or worldwide anti-semitism.

This may be a direct result of a new medication, but all those sad stories on Facebook - even those with a happy ending - are sending me straight into depression hell. Never mind that even happy commercials (the ones that make you go "awwwww") make me tear up, especially the ones from Bright House, Suburu, and Publix.

The world's a mess and it's given me one hell of a perpetual headache.

Speaking of messes, I went to schedule an appointment with LabCorp, only to discover they don't accept AvMed. Huh? When did that happen? I'll gladly go to Quest, but seriously, a major lab doesn't accept the insurance carrier for the vast majority of State of Florida employees (and us COBRA retirees)? Things were different before the Dark Times ... before Obamacare ...

So this meme popped up on my Facebook news feed this morning, just a day after I'd been ruminating about the time my Pop had his heart attack.

We were living in Howard Beach. Here's where my memory get foggy; I always thought Pop was 62 when he had the heart attack, but that would have made it late 1970 - early 1971, and we were still living in North Woodmere.  So I did a little calculation - not easy, as it turns out that my math skills, never too great at any time, have gone down the fibromyalgia tube - and Pop would have been between 65 and 68, and I'm guessing he was closer to 65.  Certainly not a lot older than my 63 years.

Fortunately, it was not a massive attack nor heart failure, which actually made for some pretty funny maneuvering, as he had time for me to take him first to our doctor's office on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, and then to wait until he could be admitted to Brookdale Hospital on Linden Blvd., rather than being immediately admitted to Flatbush General, also on Linden, about 2 miles further down the road (why were all the hospitals in Brooklyn when we lived in Queens? Well, google a map for Howard Beach and focus in on 79th Street, a block or so off of Linden Blvd. County line, I've always lived right by the county line. Besides, Pop never really left Brooklyn, despite 11 years in North Woodmere and the 5 years in Howard Beach.)

My Poppy, Hy Morris, was my hero. I had loved him as a grandparent, and later as a parent, something I was never able to do with my grandmother, who became my personal Torquemada.

So his heart attack hit me hard, and for the first time, I realized that he was old. I worried about his mortality, then comforted myself with the knowledge that his father, Jacob Morris, had been 92 when he died, and that I would have Pop in my life at least another 25 years. (He died 7 or 8 years later from a vicious stomach cancer that made the last 16 months of his life unbearable. I had conveniently forgotten that his mother had died from stomach cancer a number of years before his father. Well hell, who wants to think about stuff like that? Just like who wants to think about the fact that my other great-grandmother, Gussie Sarif Albert Frey, had died of a heart attack at the age of 63?  I always thought of my sainted Grandma Albert as being ancient. Like I am now, I guess.)

The point of this rather disjointed story is that I realized, albeit belatedly, that despite 65 years, 2 bad marriages, 4 children and a heart attack, in his own head my Pop was still a very young man who had learned to drive a Mack truck when he was 14, loved the Yankees with an early 20th century passion, hung out with some of the Jewish Mafia, was born and lived in Williamsburg before it was cool and it was still mostly spelled "Williamsburgh", and who loved to gamble on horse races, spending far too much time and money at Aqueduct and Belmont. I realized it because it is my current life experience as well as that of my husband and all my friends from college. We never grew up, not really. We pretend to be mature and strong and indestructible for our children and families, but the truth is, in a our heads, we got stuck at 18 or thereabouts and so did Pop. When I thought he was old and mature and as serious as the heart attack he'd had, Pop was still a devil-may-care kid from Williamsburg, the youngest of 5 and terribly spoiled, running around the kitchen table to escape from the Rabbi who came by the house to teach him his bar mitzvah haftorah.

I think that is marvelous. I think that is what keeps us humans from mass suicide as the inevitable aches and pains and old age diseases make daily life so fucking uncomfortable. I think it's cool, like fezes and bow ties and disco and Williamsburg. I think it's my life, like Bon Jovi sings, and that is a Good Thing, as Martha often tells us.

Let's end this on a Cloris Leachman high note.  Much better than where I started today's post.

Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just wanna live while I'm alive ...

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