The Best Motto

Gd, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannon change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

You woke up this morning - Congratulations! You got another chance!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Emma Shapplin - Spente le Stelle


My Dearest Eh,

Because of the circumstances beyond my control, this is the first of your birthdays (and hopefully last) that we are spending apart. But being apart from you only made me think once again of all the things that make me love you so much.

We met when you were about fifteen minutes old. The delivery room only allows so many extras inside, so, while you were born, I ended up in a little visitors lounge trying to calm down your grandfather - who was making valiant attempts at making huge holes in the cheep floors of that lounge.

Your mommy didn't want to know in advance if she was having a little boy or a little girl, so, while you were swimming inside of her, you were just “Baby” - that is, till the first sonogram; at which point my dear sister declared that “Baby” looked like a little alien – and the moniker stuck. So, you were “Alien”, and then, being a real American, your mommy shortened it to “Alie”; she also claimed that the sound of your heartbeat was her favorite techno music. Meanwhile, your aunt (I), who always enjoyed escaping into her daydreams, for some reason kept imagining that Alie would be a little girl, and that both of us would become wonderful friends.

So, after that tiny scare that you gave us upon your arrival, your Aba came into that room and told us “It's a girl”; you can't begin to imagine the joy and relief those simple words brought to us. We all crowded into your mommy's room to meet the newest member of our family. My sister looked exhausted – and transformed by happiness. In her arms she cradled a tiny bundle; my first words were “ Oh, my Gd! That's Alie?” You looked red and wrinkled – in the best traditions of all newborn. You were sucking your whole fist, and your smart, beautiful eyes kept looking at all the people around you. And all the people in the room were forever transformed.

We ended up spending a lot of time together. I was your first official babysitter – the most neurotic one you ever had (so far). I made sure you were always very clean – and did your laundry with almost fanatical precision. I made sure to circulate all your outfits – and took at least one picture in each one. I had the precise inventory of all your toys in my head. I cleaned and emptied your stroller after every excursion outside. Sometimes I took you to Dr. Sima – and believe me, all those shots hurt me as much as they did you. You officially became a New Yorker when you took your first subway ride – and your dear aunt discovered the exact percentage of jerks riding that subway. Also thanks to me, you had your first brush with jury duty (but that is a separate story).

Even after I got an “official” job, I made sure to spend as much time with your as possible. You were an ideal baby – good tempered and extremely friendly; you used to smile at anything remotely resembling a human shape. You were not an exceptionally fussy eater (although you refused to drink formula under any circumstances).

It was you who first called me “Papi”.

After you got a bit bigger, we began to explore the city. Your MacLaren Techno saw more subway cars than any tourist. We went everywhere – The Met, Central Park, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, Toys R Us in Times Square, Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Columbus Circle, Borders, Banes and Noble - needless to say, the list is pretty extensive. Most notable among them was Dylan's Candy Shoppe – in whose subbasement you took your first unaided steps!! Those steps were duly witnessed by your mommy, your Papi, largish number of tourists, and half the floor of Dylan's overpriced, but fantastic merchandise.

It was on those trips when your presence literally saved me. You see, after surviving 9/11 and the year following it, Lower Manhattan was something that brought tears and an overwhelming desire to avoid it as much as possible. But when I started roaming with you, all of the sudden it was OK to go to Battery Park City. That park became our favorite destination. Your company in WFC, by the Famous Bull statue, in Whitehall – it just leached away pain. I saw you running in Winter Garden, dressed in your snappy pink outfit from Gymboree and waiving a piece of pastry – and the horrific picture of that place lying in did not bother me as much. Gd willing, when you get older, I hope you will understand just how incredibly special that was; how incredibly special you are, my Eh.

Because, you see, that is not all. When you were born, we didn't just get a beloved daughter, granddaughter, and niece – you were the first member of your mommy's family to be born on American soil; to be born free. Your ancestors survived it all – virulent anti-Semitism, Muslim and Christian persecutions, Communists, Nazis, Holocaust...When you started attending Jewish school – it was beyond triumph for our family. And when you excelled in your studies, especially Judaic Studies – we were beyond happy tears. That is how special you and your younger siblings are, Eh, – we triumphed over all that hatred and repeated attempts to wipe us out – and we were blessed by the Almighty with you!

You are beautiful inside and out. You clearly inherited your mommy's musical and artistic talents – with Gd help, you will grow to nurture these talents. You are smart and kind – and you clearly inherited our family's “love” for homework. You are a great older sister – although you don't always appreciate your siblings:).

May The Heavenly Father continue to protect you, your siblings, and your parents; and may He always bestow His blessings on us all!

Happy Birthday!

I love your curly, fluffy head,

Your Papi.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Previously, on Barb's World the following took place:
(Part 1)

I lost my job. I would love to say that my old company was a victim of current economic climate, and that would not be a lie – just not a complete truth. Our Upper Management, in the best traditions of Idiot Bosses, basically drove the company into the ground.

True, the work for architects was not lying on the ground (no pun intended), but we were an old, established firm with good reputation for doing what we were doing. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the majority of Upper Echelon were not architects, and as such did not, according to my Big Boss, understand the unique financial pitfalls facing architects. So, they were spending money hand over fist, claiming that the turbulence on Wall Street will not touch them in Columbus, Ohio – and I am not joking or making this one up. After embarking on this particularly brilliant course, they lost a huge project with a major client – namely, Ohio State University. Now, the prudent course would have been to cut your losses, collect whatever money you could, and try to move on, mentally cursing the cantankerous client (I was not privy to the details, and as such can not really offer an opinion on who was the real wronged party in this situation – not that it really matters). Apparently, prudence (never mind logic) were not in the vocabulary of our Big Cheeses. So, they decided to sue the above-mentioned major client, and, in the course of pretty lengthy law suit, they also managed to stage periodic coup d'etats, during one of which our corporation lost a CEO (and ended up without one for about nine months).

Now, imagine for a minute that you are a hospital, or a major laboratory. You need to do serious renovations on one or more of your buildings, or build a brand new building. You put out official advertisements and are going through a bunch of colorful proposals submitted by major firms specializing in this kind of thing. A particular proposal catches your interest, and you decide to further investigate the company and determine if they are as good as they look on paper. Low and behold, simple Google search will produce a multiple hits, the first of which will state that the firm is currently in the middle of the law suit with a former major client, and the second hit will tell you the they currently have no CEO, and did not have one for quite a while (the order might be reversed, and you see the CEO business first, and the law suit thing second). After imagining this particular scenario, would you honestly tell me that you would hire this company (despite their long history of solid work)? Yea, it was clear for simple folks like you and me, and my co-workers, but not clear for the Upper Echelons of Stupidity, who kept excitedly announcing that we were short-listed for a project, and then dejectedly add a week or so later that the other firm got the job.

Obviously, such state of affairs could not go on indefinitely, as much fun as it was to observe. So, one fine morning yours truly was called into a meeting with Big Boss and his Right Hand. During this memorable powwow I was informed that I would be getting a pink slip in a few weeks – on Erev Rosh Hashana, of all days. Understandably, these tidings did not cheer me up; but, as this job was beginning to get to me, and I could not find anything else (this time thanks to the current regime), I pacified myself with the idea of couple of months' worth of stay-cation. Ha, if only that would be the case!

To make a very long and pretty painful story shorter – I ended up working a few months beyond the original plan at the reduced hours; in the process, we had to deal for a month without the internet connection; move to the smaller office for a month and a half; clean our office out of 30+years worth of accumulated garbage (thank the Good Lord I was not an architect, so I did not have to do much); put up with short tempers and temper tantrums of our remaining bosses, share desks, a phone (singular), and computers, etc, etc, etc. Towards the end, our most popular refrain was “when are getting fired already?” On top of all other delights, on the last week of December we were hit with a respectable-sized snow storm, so we were closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday morning started slow ( as usual); in the afternoon, the three remaining architects departed to job sites (and holiday parties), so the marketing coordinator and yours truly were left to guard our pathetic domain (with no clear plan of workday in site). We were in the middle of schmoozing and exchanging opinions on the burning topics of pop culture when I noticed a new e-mail popping up. It was from our Chief Council (who at that point was almost officially running the firm) with ccs to everyone of importance still left in the company. In it I was informed that my last day of employment, as anticipated, would be December 31; I was further commanded to co-ordinate the transfer of all projects and files I was responsible for, and was threatened with denial of severance payment in the event of non-cooperation.

Now, try to visualize this tableau for a second: it is 3:30 pm on December 30th; office is deserted aside from the two of us; and on December 31 we are officially closed; everyone knew that we would eventually get our pink slips, but nobody was aware of the time table...and now this luminary of jurisprudence was threatening me with the loss of severance payment that was promised to me only by the grace and persistence of our Big Boss and consisted of (are you ready?) of exactly one weekly paycheck. Of course I was tempted to use coarse language and tell her to go boil her head – and cc to everyone of importance still left in the company. But, as I lamented many times before, it is hard to live with my parents' upbringing; plus, “Miss Dickinson is a conscientious nurse”, and she likes to leave her desk tidy. Never the less, I got a bit of bile out of my system by pointing out to her (and to everyone of importance still left in the company) that I am a literal person and not a mind-reader, and would have appreciated at least a day, and not 2 hours of warning, especially in the face of snowstorm and the end of the year – with which I deliberately congratulated her (because she decided not to overburden her correspondence with such niceties).

Next week, I came into office for 4 more hours due to the above-mentioned reasons. The Right Hand, who, all in all, was a pretty decent dude, profusely apologized for the stupidity of the higher ups in Ohio and tried to get some kind of monetary compensation for those dratted 4 hours. I accepted his apology simply because it was not his fault; the compensation never materialized (which I am sure was not his fault either). I brought them donuts (because a cake would have been silly for 4 people); we hugged and promised to try and keep in touch (the usual promise that nobody usually intends to keep); and thusly that four-and-a half-year chapter of my life was closed; and I officially became a part of statistic.