Archive for the ‘Parenthood’ Category

The Trip of a Lifetime   Leave a comment

So, my wife and I just returned from our first-ever trip to Israel to attend our older son’s wedding. I’ve shaken off the jet lag, I’m just getting over the airplane flu, but I’m still getting up at two or three in the morning, which is OK because it facilitates texting with overseas friends.

I had a really wonderful time, went through a transcendental kind of change, and had what you might call a couple of personal epiphanies. I’m keeping my experiences separate from my politics, hence the Israel Trip page on the nav bar up top, whereupon you’ll find short paragraphs, vignettes, and observations, with a lighthearted tint.

Please check back on that page from time to time and read an apolitical kind of view of a place that after only a very short time felt like home, and may one day become home, depending on how things go in the next few years.

I’d like to give a special thanks to all the people who enabled this trip of a lifetime on the GoFundMe page we put up, without whom we would never have been able to attend our own son’s wedding. G-D bless all of them, and there were many.

 

 

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If I Sentenced Oscar Pistorius   12 comments

I would, as an American, half a world away from all the action and media frenzy, if any, be almost a sequestered juror. Some of you who have read my prior coverage of the trial may doubt that, but I challenge any of you to cite any examples of my reporting something that had not yet been testified to in court. As I said: sequestered. Almost.

Not only can’t I discern the accents of the South African newscasters, the so-called best of the best — and there are numerous accents, not just one — but the technical acumen exhibited by SABC, as an alum who’d made it to the NFL might say, “THE South African Broadcast Network (goofy smile),” can only be equated to the middle-school TV production done by my younger son’s seventh-grade class in 2001.

As compared to most of the developed world’s media, whatever story they try to spin on one side or another (if any) is completely overshadowed by the comical presentation of its production teams. I have been, for all intents and purposes, a sequestered reporter. I have watched reporters gargle, towel off, blot their underarms, button their blouses, fix their hair (or dearth thereof), and scratch their balls.

As to sentencing. In matters of domestic violence, as a husband who has never lifted a hand to his wife of nearly 35 years, I tend to err on the harsh side. Therefore, I would not blink, and I would give him 25 years, the maximum allowable sentence for the crime of which he was convicted. (Note to Judge: He is no longer the accused; he’s a convict. YOU convicted him!) I would make this concurrent with the gun charges, because an out-of-shape 60-year-old Oscar Pistorius would be of limited danger to women or anyone else, and he would have very limited earning power at that age as well. He will have paid for his crimes.

The witness the other day who argued that prison was an improper place for Oscar Pistorius because “they have condoms there” was still silently cracking people up Friday morning when Roux first opened his pie-hole to argue Mitigation. So the jolly old weasel defense attorney played the “Oscar the Handicapped Victim” card to the max, and tried to soften up Judge Masipa by using his whiny, condescending offerings of paybacks and deterrents to society that would pay not even lip service to the real victims in this case, whining about how the killer’s debt is to society. Society, society, society. Then he brought up Ubuntu, and quoted a story in it of a goat. He equated Reeva Steenkamp with a fucking GOAT. The man is insane. Get this goddamned turkey away from the microphone. If Roux ever slept with a female of his own species, he’d know the difference between Reeva Steenkamp and a fucking goat!

I think the final undeserved slap in the face to the Steenkamps was the claim that Pistorius be given leniency was because although there were no shower rails at either the convict’s home or in the prison’s showers, his home shower came with a stool or a bench so he could wank freely between the two, and in addition be able to balance on his arse while using one or both hands, hence keeping his arms in shape to continue to work out all of his upper and lower appendages and limbs, or what remain of them. And that’s being nice to him.

On the dark side, Pistorius, with his snake-like eyes, knew VERY well who and what part he was shooting at. He’d accused her of messing around on him, even though she’d had very few (and longer-term) relationships compared to him, she’d reportedly been heard or commented to a friend that he had recently raged at her, “go ahead, fuck them all if you want,” or words to that effect, which is why he was shooting at that height. Do you think he was trying to hit a fucking pygmy in the head? If he were shooting at an adult’s chest, he’d be shooting at about 48″ off the ground. His first shot, the one that hit her in the hip, was 34″ from the floor. All shots were about the same height, within three inches. Isn’t anyone curious about his target? His first one was pretty close – the one that hit her in the hip. Just a couple of inches off target.

I was honestly very surprised to hear Gerry Nel request a minimum sentence of ten years. Even if he wants to squeeze Masipa for 15. This was a heinous crime, and the spolled, pampered little shit who committed it deserves some serious time. I figured a guy nicknamed “The Pit Bull” would have looked to rip off a bigger bite than that.

I’ve got friends who did more time than that in tougher prisons for simple possession of a joint.

What the hell kind of deterrent is ten years supposed to be? The suggested punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crimes. Let’s remember, we’re talking about multiple felonies. He’s now got three strikes on him. In many states, he’d get mandatory life without parole under the “Three Strikes You’re Out Law.” Three felony convictions, you’re out of society, and in for life.

 Your comments are requested. Please note this was published IN ADVANCE OF the Tuesday morning Oct. 21 session.

Only a special kind of mother could possibly know this   2 comments

A couple of my most beloved friends lost their baby last week. It was neither totally unexpected nor do I believe was it totally unwelcome, given the other possible outcomes of this tragically ill-fated pregnancy that began on an otherwise magical night in the most #becausefutbol moment of both of their young lives. (If you haven’t seen the ‘maternity ward’ commercial that ran on ESPN during the World Cup, find it on YouTube, then apply it to the NFL.)

This piece is about the mother. The word – mother – doesn’t seem to carry the weight to justify its mass, sitting there on the page, or the monitor, whichever. Less so on the monitor, because the black type means a small array of switches have been set to zero; their circuits have been broken; their value nil.

I would imagine that in a way my friend must somehow feel the same, although God Himself knows she’s got no reason to. She’d spent most of the spring preparing her body; her heart and her nature, her soul if you will, and her mind have always been prepared. She’s been mother material for longer, I’m sure, than the decade or so that I’ve known her. And, to be perfectly honest, we’re so diametrically opposite in just about every way, if we were really close friends, I’m convinced she would hate me. I just love her because she’s always had this aura or something. Maybe she gives off a maternal pheromone; I have no idea.

Other than family, I’ve only met one other woman in my lifetime, really, whom I would describe in those terms. While the one central to this event has been fortunate – she’s always been put on a pedestal by her husband, and rightfully so; the other, not so much — sadly, she was abused by virtually every male who ever got within arm’s reach of her. You wouldn’t know either one’s background by the way they love their children, the way they hold their heads up when they’re with them — their blessings, their treasured gifts. Interestingly, they both have three. I love them both. I just hurt for them in different and indescribable ways.

Now, I need to interject that through the winter, we’d found out my younger son’s wife was pregnant with their first child, a boy, whose gender we found out at an ultrasound the morning after the Super Bowl in February. So I was pretty excited that I was going to be a grandfather for the first time in July, which I did, B”H, on July 7th.

Back to the end of April, when my friend central to this story told me she was pregnant, I had somehow sensed (divined?!) it for no apparent reason, and I was wild with excitement, because I’ve got a sense for that (and earthquakes – don’t ask), and I posted this on my Facebook page:

I’ve been thinking [friend – not named] is pregnant for two full weeks now, and didn’t want to impose by asking her or her husband, who’s also a friend. The last time I had this premonition was this morning, oddly enough in the shower. I wasn’t thinking of her (she’s like a sister, people, come on), but I got that feeling again, and she just confirmed that today, without my having to ask. The oddest thing is, I’ve done that with one of her previous kids. She’s the only person I’ve ever been able to detect twice, but about the 10th-12th person I’ve been able to make the call on just out of thin air.

By the time May came around, I’d expected to hear or see, in the form of a cute Facebook post, what my friends’ baby’s gender was going to be, and I enquired and was told they believed it was a girl, but there were problems and the outlook didn’t look good either way, pending some more tests. I tried to swallow my heart back down. Prayers and requests for same go out immediately, literally around the globe. Older son in Jerusalem to Western Wall, holy sites in Hebron, other friends to mosques and churches….

More painful days of even more painful tests told them their baby had a “not uncommon” (1 in 6000) genetic disorder, and would likely not survive until birth, but a small percentage may live as long as 10-12 years, require 24/7 care and have the mental capacity of an infant. This could have a permanent effect on their family, their three kids would be scarred for life, and they could end up among the least fortunate, God forbid. The kind of stuff that runs through your mind when there’s absolutely not one blessed thing you can do to make any kind of constructive difference….

I was dying to give her the one thing I could, but I couldn’t! It was only a suggestion. The suggestion every single woman I spoke to about this said they would give their daughter, and what they would do themselves! But being a progressive — being in favor of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, all I could do was shut my mouth and respect her decision to follow her own beliefs. She’s a smart woman, has graduate degrees; she’s a scientist. She knows her options. But if she follows her beliefs as religiously as she does, with so much conviction, then I have to follow my belief, which is a woman’s right to choose, as religiously as she does hers. What an incredibly difficult real-life test for a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool, blue-state progressive liberal Democrat from Brooklyn named Levine. I hope I never have to take one like it again.

That aside, I tried to put myself in her place when her husband told me, knowing her child had died inside her, going into the hospital and being induced (as my son’s wife had been just days before), going through I don’t know how much painful sweating, agaonizing labor and having a natural birth (as I witnessed my wife do twice) and knowing that after everything she and her body and soul put into it, there was nothing more than a lifeless body that never breathed the air, a child she loved and now had to bury without ever hearing him cry, I don’t think I could survive something like that. I would be a total and complete wreck. Just give me the needle and don’t take it out. Where on earth does one find the strength?

This is the kind of stuff that a special kind of mother’s character is built on. The heroine doesn’t need a name, she doesn’t need a philosophy or a specific belief or anything, she doesn’t need a background. This is about a woman’s – a mother’s – superhuman strength of mind, body, and character. This goes so deep into the makeup of her character, it is an eye-opening, mind-expanding, cathartic thing for me, as a male, to really sufficiently identify with in any kind of way. All I can do is try to imagine what it must feel like.

Except I can’t.

 

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