Tag Archives: families

Constant Vigilance!


5 Feb. 2017.

This morning when I woke up (at 5:32 am.) I took a look at the news on my i-Phone. It’s what I do these days. Since Nov. 9 2016 the counsel of Alastor “Mad-eye” Mooney has been my m.o.


If something bad is going down, and let’s be honest, a lot of bad has been going down, I want to be among the first to know.

The news wasn’t as awful as I’d expected. No war has been declared, no martial law, Judge Robart’s stay is still in place, time to take a deep breath and check my Facebook page.

What showed up in the notifications list caused my heart rate, breathing and b.p. to enter a seriously dangerous range. One of my cousins, who is in fact a lovely person and a lot of fun, liked a number of alt.right pages, including a video by your man, Milo. What to do? Unfriend? Discuss? Mock?

There’s literally an ocean between us. I decided to ignore it. Because the cousin in question is a good person at heart. Because I am not in a position to confront my cousin in person and ask what I am dying to know: What are you afraid of?

Some conversations just can’t be held by phone.

I want to know this because my cousin and I aren’t so different. We are from the same crazy family, the same economic background and we grew up in the same general region of the United States. I want to know because I am not afraid and cannot understand where the fear is coming from.

Because we live in a small town with a good sized Muslim population and quite a few refugees and I don’t have a problem with either group. Fact: Baklava is better than most of what passes for Dutch cake and if you can get it home-made instead of store bought, it’s even better. Store bought is ok in a pinch.

Because I’ve worked with and am friends with people of all faiths and nationalities and they don’t hate me for the military actions taken by the United States in the name of “freedom” which worked out badly for them personally. True story: I walked into the women’s center where I worked in the early 2000’s one April morning after a laser guided missle went stray into an Afghanistan civilian area and the first person I saw was Prof. W. (a refugee). I don’t cry easily, but at that moment I burst into tears of remorse and shame for what my country had just done to hers. That woman, whose infinite grace and dignity I admire to this day, put her arms around me and said, “It is not your fault.”

By the same token, it is not the fault of people seeking refuge from war torn areas that a group of nutjobs who happen to claim the Muslim faith decided to pick on the United States on Sept. 11 2001 with devastating results. The little Syrian boy who was too shocked to cry after he was pulled from his bombed home is not a threat to anybody. The families of brave interpreters who helped the United States forces are not threats to your safety. The “dreamers” have a lot to offer, let them show what they can do.

Because when I walk into the Turkish grocery and say “Merhaba!”, the clerks who don’t know me start telling me all sorts of stuff in Turkish and don’t realize that “Merhaba” is one of the few Turkish words I know. They see dark hair and eyes, olive skin and they make assumptions. Then I look confused and we laugh and switch over to Dutch.

Because people want to share their culture doesn’t mean they want to replace your culture with theirs.

Because of algebra, baba ganouj, Hasan Minhaj, Najib Amhali, Malala Yousafzai, Nizar Qabbani, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Iman, Justin Amash (Republican, but I like him), astronaut Anousheh Ansari, M. Asador, my Syrian tailor, and lots of other great humans with Muslim roots or from the 7 countries falling under the (currently stayed) travel ban. See more below:


Because you’re more likely to be shot by a toddler or killed by a DUI than harmed in any way by an immigrant or refugee. Refugee does not = terrorist, nor does immigrant = terrorist.

Because people standing together despite their differences are better than and will triumph over hatred.

Because it started with “jodenhaat” in the 1930s and I’m counting on the good people of the world not to be so stupid as to let that happen again. Anybody could be next.

Constant Vigilance!


Amenhotep, King of De Nial



My father is dying. I know, we’re all dying by inches, but my father has a timeline. Weeks, if he’s lucky months. Lucky would be the other way around, trust me. The man has been busy dying since my mother passed away in 2005. I’m just hoping it happens as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You would think if you were told that your number is coming up really soon, that a person might have a bit of a meltdown, perhaps a big meltdown, but after that it’s time to see to practical matters, get one’s affairs in order and when that’s done, raise a little hell.

Not my father.

My father should be called Amenhotep because he is truly the king of De Nial. As with any other occasion or situation in his life which has proven difficult to handle, unpleasant to him, or a bit of a hassle, he choses to ignore it and believes this will make whatever it is go away. He lets other people deal with the mess, because the world revolves around him and we are there to serve.

My younger brother, aka The Prince of Darkness, has had power of attorney since 2007 when the pharaoh was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s also executor of our father’s estate. This is unfortunate. The Prince of Darkness is a wonderful guy but his organizational skills are nil, he cannot use a computer, he has difficulty dealing with bureaucrats (who doesn’t), and he isn’t really clear about what having poa or being executor of an estate means. I do. I understand all this and what needs to be done. I even understand why Amenhotep “arranged” things this way. It is another one of his power games. I think his biggest regret might be the fact that he’s going to miss any unpleasantness he’s worked so hard to orchestrate between my brother and me when he’s gone. He’d be disappointed; the Prince of Darkness and I stopped doing sibling drama about 20 years ago.

I was disinherited since before 2000. It’s happened on and off all my life and is one of my father’s favorite power games. It is not a big deal. We’re well off. I don’t need or want any inheritance and wish my brother all the best. My father named him as executor to slap me for saying I wasn’t interested in his money. He was fully aware that I would not let my brother struggle with this burden alone, eventually step in and do all the actual work that goes along with executing an estate. I told the Prince of Darkness that I’d help but I want expenses and the executor’s fee being that I’ll have to travel to the US, stay there a while and I’m not getting anything else out of it. The Prince of Darkness is cool with that.

The financial doodah, however, is not the worst part. The worst part is that Amenhotep refuses to make plans for hospice or palliative care. He will not discuss health issues. He will not discuss plans for his funeral. He talks about his “illness” with friends and family as though he’s going to get better. His illness is end stage leukemia. The man was offered aggressive chemo, which would probably kill him before it cured him, and (understandably) refused. Bone marrow transplants are not an option. It should be patently obvious to him that this is the end of the line, but he refuses to deal with reality. He thinks that if he does not plan he will not die.

But he is going to die and the few things within his locus of control, getting his affairs in order and making his wishes known regarding end of life care and his funeral are out of his line of vision. True to form, he is going to make this the most dreadful, painful and inconvenient process none of us who have to deal with him care to imagine at the moment.