After spending the better part of three days repairing my website after changing hosts, it’s back.
My daughter, Sarah, experienced a heartbreak a couple of years ago.
Friday, she got a new puppy.
Last I heard, it had no name.
If we could forget about the politics and see it purely as theatre, then Sarah Palin’s problem becomes obvious.
She forgets her lines.
She needs more rehearsal.
It seems obvious that she memorizes answers to certain questions and then freezes up and gets lost. But it’s live, so she has no choice but to blast through to the end.
I’m sure she does much better in rehearsal.
I can almost picture it. Bristol holds the script. Our Tea Party hero starts. She gets off to a good start. Slides in a zinger. And then… she forgets. You can’t hold it against her. She’s had very little time with the script.
She asks for help.
“Sputnik,” says the daughter.
“Sputnik,” says the former governor. “WFT.”
And so it goes.
Alas, the task calls for improv, and this is not her fortÃ©.
When the camera finally rolls, with no book in hand (unless it’s on her hand), she starts out fine. She looks great. And then forgets a line. She panics, cobbles together a few random keywords from the script, and then, after a moment, detours into some familiar territory. Anything. Pulling it together for a strong, coherent finish (on a completely different subject).
There once was a Palin named Todd
Who may have been loose with his rod.
A paper’s reporting
That he’s been cavorting
And thus shot both his and Sarah’s wad.
Both of them are great entertainers. Personally, I would have to give Michael the nod, since he did such groundbreaking work with Monty Python, has had such a long, distinguished career, and produced an enormous body of funny work.
But Sarah’s ascension to the heights of politics and TV and humor is also groundbreaking. She may be catching up…
Who’s your pick?
My daughter, Sarah, posted this on her Facebook today:
“It was sad saying goodbye to the family today in Charlotte. Now I’m safe back in the Banks. Hello old man winter, pleasure to see you again.”
When she says “the Banks,” she’s talking about Fairbanks, Alaska, where the average high in January is 0. The average low is 19 below. Average!
She’s hoping to be back in June for her sister’s graduation.
She’s happy living there. We all had a wonderful visit. Her trip home was safe.
But we had a quiet, very sad day here in Salisbury.
Last night, at midnight, Sarah asked me to tell a story about the day she was born. We were in the kitchen — along with Matt and Aaron.
So I told her the story:
Alicia’s contractions began on the morning of September 26, 1982. We were good Lamaze students, so we knew not to rush to the hospital, but to call the doctor and wait until they were x number of minutes apart. I can’t remember exactly how many minutes.
We went to T&F Barbecue for breakfast. I remember seeing Charles and Norma Goldman there. Two tables of Jews in a barbecue restaurant on the eve of Yom Kippur.
As we waited for our eggs and toast, I remember her taking a few cleansing breaths and saying something like “That was a strong one.”
And I replied, “They’re five minutes apart.”
And I remember somebody in the next booth giving us quite a look. Sort of a “why-the-hell-aren’t-you-rushing-to-the-hospital” look.
That was before children. We were pretty calm back then. In fact, at that point in my life, I did yoga every single day. Then, after we had children, my practice was extremely sporadic for twenty-five years and I was a nervous wreck. Now that they’re all basically grown, the daily yoga habit is back again.
Alicia was all packed. I had packed a bag lunch. So we had breakfast, and later that afternoon went to the hospital.
When Dr. Parada entered the room, he remarked on the unfairness of me eating an apple while Alicia was laboring. He told me he had just had a nice lunch with his whole family. I smelled wine. Then he told me this joke:
“A southerner was a freshman at Harvard and asked somebody ‘Where’s the library at?'”
“Son, this is Harvard. The sooner you learn not to end a sentence with a preposition, the better off you’ll be.”
“Excuse me. Where’s the library at, Asshole?”
Then he delivered Sarah.
When she was born, Dr. Parada told us she was a girl.
I guess I was sort of hoping for a boy — the family name and all that — and he saw this on my face.
“These are the best kind,” he said.
This happened at 7pm. A mile away, at our Temple, Kol Nidre had just begun.
Kol Nidre is a moving, melodic prayer that introduces the observance of Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion’s most sacred day.
All of my children have some connection to holidays. Two years later, on Bastille Day, Aaron would be born. Ten years later, on Rosh Hashanna, Emma would be born.
But Sarah certainly wins the day when it comes to holiday births. Yom Kippur, during Kol Nidre, is a particularly special moment.
The next day, my first day of fatherhood, I didn’t go to services, but I did fast. The next evening, I went to temple for the very end of Yom Kippur, in order to accept all the kind congratulations and eat some great food at the break fast. Ben Shapiro gave me a little glass of Schnapps to break the fast and toast the birth of Sarah.
And thus is the story — a brief recounting — of that special day.
My daughter Sarah, who we have not seen in almost a year, has navigated the highways and airways and airports between Fairbanks, Alaska and Salisbury, North Carolina — and is now home for a visit.
She’s presently taking a nap on our couch. It’s nice to have her home.
When I first saw her, it didn’t take but a few minutes before I said what I say almost every time I talk with her:
“Why don’t you move back here?”
I know she enjoys her life there, and the good work she does as an advocate for battered women. But is it a crime for a father to ask? It’s a long ways to Fairbanks, and we miss her.
This time, my timing was off. This afternoon, on September 24, it was 94 degrees.
“It’s too hot here,” she said.
She was sweating.
I had been out all day delivering papers, and I was pretty hot myself.
“This isn’t normal,” I said. “It’ll cool off in a few days.”
“You don’t believe in climate change?”
I told her that of course I believe in climate change (not because I know anything about it, but because I believe the scientists know what they’re talking about, and I’ve seen some of the evidence they’ve put forth).
“But this isn’t climate change,” I said. “This is weather.”
She said she flew over a lot of mountains that should have been snow covered that weren’t.
At one point, Sarah sent me a text message: “Aren’t you worried about us?”
“No,” I answered. “I worry about you in Fairbanks when it’s 40 below.”
This is not an exaggeration. I check the Fairbanks weather almost every day, and it’s not that unusual to see a high for the day at -20 and low of -40.
That worries me.
Thankfully, things are supposed to cool here off this weekend.
It’s great to have her home.
My daughter left this morning. She’s in flight now, to her home in Fairbanks, Alaska.
We are a close family.
I thought my mother kept close tabs on me when I was her age (or slightly younger) and lived a distance away. She sometimes called me more than once a week.
Thanks to our cell phone family talk plan, unlimited text plan, Facebook, and email, our family (as do many families) stays in touch on a daily basis.
Two parents. Three children. We see pictures and videos and status updates and listen to voice messages and talk in the car.
Nevertheless, Sarah has been awfully generous about using her savings to make trips home — and we’ve learned to really appreciate the time we have with her when she visits.
Each time she leaves, it’s sad, and usually quite dramatic.
In Fairbanks, it stays below zero all winter. Here in North Carolina, in early December, it’s a little cool — but still a perfectly pleasant day for golf or tennis.
It’s also a long, expensive flight.
So of course, when she visits, the subject of her moving closer to home comes up.
She’s been there three years and has her reasons for staying there. There are relationships, people, community, meaningful work — all the things that add up to “a life.”
But there are other reasons that one could call economic, even political.
The unemployment rate here is high. In Fairbanks, there are jobs — and she has one, with a non-profit that helps protect women who are victims of domestic violence. The work is meaningful and challenging.
And it provides health insurance.
This Sunday afternoon, as C-Span airs the U.S. Senate debate on health care reform, my daughter’s ability to move closer to her family in North Carolina — were she to choose to do so — hangs in the balance.
She has a need for health care — as we all do — and she sometimes uses her benefits.
It’s doubtful she could get a job here that provides health insurance. And it’s doubtful she could make enough money to pay for her own.
Nobody realistically expects true, socialized medicine any time soon, but the public option — obviously needed and such a hot topic — would be a good start.
Then, people could move where they want, do what they want, and buy health insurance they could afford.
People could try a different kind of work if they wanted — or start a business.
Presumably, the health insurance would be actual insurance, rather than what many people have now — partial insurance, overpriced, that can be cancelled at any time for those who use it.
The arguments against socialized medicine, and the public option, are “free marketplace” arguments.
Yet, this free marketplace limits the freedom Americans have to choose work and make changes in their lives.
The free marketplace is excellent when we’re talking about products and services that are optional — that people are free to buy or not buy, shop or not shop.
But health care doesn’t fall into that category. We’re not free to choose whether or not we need it. We all need it.
Wouldn’t health care for all — paid for by all — provide more flexibility (a.k.a. freedom) to us all?
Anyway, I hope Sarah is having a good flight.
It’s wonderful having Sarah home. Here’s a picture of her (taken without her permission or knowledge), asleep on our couch this morning with Jackie Mudpie. They are very close.
If it weren’t for Sarah, we would not have Jackie. We rescued this dog from a woman who had dozens, perhaps hundreds, of dogs.
We went there that day, looking for a puppy. We had just lost Honey, our previous canine family member.
My father drove us there, with my two daughters. We were disgusted by all of these dogs, the way they were being treated, and the crazy lady who begged us to “send help!”
The kids wanted to leave, and we decided to look elsewhere for a puppy. We were leaving, when suddenly an armful of sweetness appeared in Sarah’s arms.
“Look at this one,” she said.
“Jackie!” screamed Emma.
“Mudpie!” shouted Sarah.
“Jackie Mudpie!” they said, together.
Thus, for the past five years we’ve had a great dog that answers to the name of Jackie Mudpie.
Daughter Sarah is coming home for a two week visit. We pick her up at the Charlotte airport tomorrow night (tonight, technically, since it’s after midnight now).
According to my phone, here’s the weather forecast where she lives, in Fairbanks Alaska:
Here’s the forecast here in Salisbury:
She’ll probably be walking around barefoot, complaining about the heat and humidity.
It sure will be nice to see her and be with her.