This Rabbit Disapproves of Your Paper

bunny mouth
Originally uploaded by Vagrant Aesthetic
So I am in a horrible mood because I just finished commenting on a huge stack of student papers and no matter how times I go through this process, it depresses me. There so much about the papers that depress me that I don't even the energy to write about it.

Except to say this. OK I came from demanding insane intellectuals one of whom was institutionalized so maybe we should reconsider his value system. And sure I went to one of the most academically competitive private schools and then onto, at the time, a fairly competitive college, but when, exactly, did students lose the ability to handle criticism? I'm not talking about those overwhelmingly negative I just want to make a student cry because I didn't get into art school type criticism. I'm talking about "Look this is what you need to work on if you want to get an A in this course" criticism. I mean, I used to get my papers ripped apart regularly. It never depressed me. I never thought, "Well that's it." I went home and worked and worked until I got an A. Luckily by the time I got though high school I was an ace paper writer, but I didn't start that way and I wouldn't have gotten that way if I couldn't handle some ink.

And no I don't talk to them that way. I give them the "Listen every one of you has the potential to an A on this paper." And I believe that, actually. What upsets me isn't the lack of potential in terms of ideas and ability, it's the lack of motivation.

Freakin' pansies.

My Cat, My Husband
So my cat has taken to watching TV. Not by sitting at a normal distance but by sitting in front of the cable box which with her gynormous and furry butt makes it impossible for me to change the channel. Perhaps not accidentally in the last year she has gained three pounds. Now we are both on a diet. I come homeand she bitches at me about her dinner, I bitch back at her about the cat hair left around the house. We both stare at each other and then go to our respective corners of the apartment.

Go on tell me we aren't married. I dare you.

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The Abe Vigoda Sighting is Not What it Seems

While sitting outside waiting for the Doberman to fetch me coffee, Abe Vigoda came shuffling up the sidewalk. I had watched Barney Miller with my Dad when I was young and was scheduled to see his brother AKA Uncle Schmendrick later in the day about the trust my father set up before he died. Seeing Vigoda, who I had seen on Broadway years ago in Arsenic and Old Place (he played Johnny-a serial killer), I thought it must be a good omen for the rest of the day.

I had scheduled lunch at a nice steak restaurant right by Penn Station in order to make things easier for my uncle. Now Uncle Schmendrick has raised literally thousands of dollars for children in Darfur. He has donated, by now, years of his life treating patients all over the world and still, well in his seventies, practices pediatrics. And so I feel incredibly guilty for the story I am about to relate to you, but I will. It simply proves that Michel de Montaigne was correct when he declared that human beings are not consistent. A brave man may commit acts of great cowardice. A benevolent may can commit acts of cruelty. And a man who is willing to help children in other countries may drive me to homicide out of a feud as old as I am.

My father hated his family. I grew up with barely any contact with my paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather died so young I actually forgot his name. (I thought it was Saul, but it was actually Samuel.) As for my uncle and his children, I met them maybe once that I remember. And so for most of my childhood, it was as if these people simply didn't exist. My mother was more than happy about that situation. My father's family, despite her conversion, was less than thrilled with her, and she was perfectly happy to let them and their dim opinions of her to be kept at a distance. Furthermore there was hostility between my uncle and my mother which stemmed from a single incident. When I was in the hospital with cancer, my uncle in a typical doctorish move tried to override my mother's decision to hold off on a very dangerous treatment. Convinced, as a pediatrician, that he knew better, he brushed her aside. Mere Lapin threw such a fit that until I was discharged every decision had to be signed off by her, even if my father had already approved it. My mother never forgave Uncle Schmendrick for this behavior.

After my parents divorce, my father suddenly immersed himself in his family. He dragged me on visits to see my now adult cousins, but I wasn't interested in these strangers. I was in high school, and I had other things to worry about other than these random idiots from NJ with whom I shared my blood and that was all. By then my father was well on his way to being institutionalized and spending time with him was unpleasant and strained. To add these strange people into the equation only made me more distant. If it wasn't for the trust set up upon my father's death, I don't think I would have ever contacted them after my father's death.

Before my father's death he set up a trust of which I was the beneficiary and my uncle the executor. My mother pondered the decision upon my father's death. Marv was crazy, but he was never ever stupid. The move had to have some purpose. On the other hand, I was only 19 at the time. My father hated my mother and he needed someone to be executor. Who else was there other than his brother? The brother who blamed my mother for the death of my father. As if she hadn't tried to save him. As if anyone could. As if my father wasn't the one to take himself off the heart donor's list. As if. As if. As if.

And yet, I know from my experience with my father that people believe what they want to believe. And so Uncle Schmendrick continued to think of my mother as the goyische pariah who killed Marv. And she continued to think of him as the presumptuous prick who tried to kill her child. And I continued to wish that my adoption papers would suddenly surface.

Uncle Schmendrick arrived at the lovely steak restaurant in an old t-shirt and track pants that highlighted his old wiry Jew physique. I suddenly knew, for the first time, what it was to be stared at for being "Those Jews." We walked amongst tables of quiet business meetings whose occupants stared and wondered. Uncle Schmendrick first delivered a dissertation on his, indeed, very noble charity work. To be completely honest, he has risked his life many times over to help children. He deserves praise for that. He then continued on about my cousins, two married with children. One even had a child named after my father. My father. She has a child named after my father. I have a killer rabbit. (The child's name, incidentally is Maya, which if memory serves means illusion. Very fitting.)

I ordered a second glass of wine.

Finally the discussion about the trust surfaced. He revealed a complete lack of real knowledge about how the trust worked. I explained how the trust was set up, how it worked. This man, who claimed to be watching over the trust closely, knew nothing of what I spoke. He didn't know what would happen to the trust if I died. And this man, who years ago asked to be taken off as executor of the trust, whose request I now said I would grant, then decided, based on an old feud, to question me. He didn't want to be executor, but he didn't want an independent executor. He wanted things to change, but he had in his mind the way that he wanted them to change"gradually." When I told him with how the trust was set up it wasn't possible, he suddenly shifted gears. He was worried that I would be taken advantage of, the money would vanish, even though of course HE didn't want it. His children were well off, he didn't want the money. He kept emphasizing even within families how these things happen.

These things, of course, being that my mother would embezzle the money.

After repeating himself several times that he was worried about hanky panky, he said he would call the lawyer about what I told him. The lawyer who wouldn't even speak to me until I spoke with Uncle Schmendrick. The lawyer Uncle Schmendrick insisted I keep on. Of course, old boys chatting with other old boys about what this little girl couldn't possibly understand.

And suddenly I knew why Marv had made Uncle Schmendrick executor of his trust. To drive me crazy....from long distance. And 14 years after his death, his brilliant plan was finally working.

But I didn't survive all those years with Whose Who in Mental Illness just let some philanthropic schmendrick keep me from what is rightfully mine. And the truth is his children will never get that money, I'll spend every dime of it first. I'll buy an apartment in Paris. I'll adopt a little Chinese baby (somebody call Angelina's adoption lawyer!).

So I was polite. I paid for lunch. Again people stared as we walked out. This angular stereotypical whiny older Jew being followed by the littlest ball of hate in the world. We said good bye outside and I commenced to call my mother and reassure her that Uncle Schmendrick was still a spectacular asshat and I had more asshatery from him to look forward too. I have no intention of ever seeing him again.

And now I lie in wait for the the battle to begin.

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