About jaynezak

"I havent been everywhere, but it is on my list." I can eat anything raw. I can go to the bathroom standing up. I am fluent in hand motions and can speak Spanish in the present tense only.. Though directionally challenged, I can find my way in any airport to the gate and the luggage terminal. I must be an airport savant. I can cram more things into a suitcase than it is supposed to hold. If I have a few drinks, I forget that I cant speak the language of the country i am in. I still carry travelers checks for an emergency thought no one will cash them anymore. I make sure to learn how to say coffee with milk and no sugar in every language. I have accidently used tap water to brush my teeth in countries that you shouldnt and I am still here to write this. I have been to the gynecologist in Greece, the dentist in the Kyushu Islands in Japan and the emergency room in Edinburgh twice ( that trip was with my kids). Heels are my walking shoe of choice. (though I always have the appropriate shoes with me in case I need them) Ive perfected speed shopping and no matter how many bracelets i buy as gifts, it is never enough. Im afraid on small planes. I always have another trip planned (even if it is just in my head) before I return from the one I am on. Those are my credentials. Fly Safe JAZ

Freedom From And Freedom To – Not Taking The Vaccine In America

Image

Freedom From And Freedom To – Not Taking The Covid Vaccine In America

“You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

The vaccines are proven safe and accessibility is easier than ever but still I am in the position of trying to convince a loved one to take the vaccine.

I understood the hesitancy in the beginning. It was fast tracked and that was scary to people. They weren’t at risk or they were home most of the time anyway now so they did not need to take it. (I am talking about intelligent people – not people who politicized it). Right now, I am hesitant about the booster though I qualify for it. It seems like too many vaccines so close together. I will probably wait a bit and see how people do.

I happened to get an email from a holistic doctor who originally wasn’t pro vaccine, but the new Covid variant had changed his mind. I thought it was interesting and passed it on to her but she dug her heels in even more. It is much harder to convince someone when they are surrounded by a cadre of like minded people.

Some people in the holistic world took this vaccine. My doctor never came back to work in person. He did not want to take the vaccine but he doesn’t yet know how to keep himself and his patients safe. He is doing video chats. I respect that but I miss him. I am a fan of natural remedies and take many supplements but I took the vaccine as soon as I could, to get out of the house.

It seems like people who have held out, have their reasons and probably aren’t going to change them unless they or someone close to them gets very sick from the virus. A lot of the concerns aren’t based on facts, they are based on emotions. All these people had to take vaccinations to attend school.

I am at risk and my daughter is about to give birth so I don’t know when I can actually be around non vaccinated people, but it won’t be any time soon. Sadly, I have to draw boundaries. I support her freedom but her choice affects my health and the health of my soon to be born grandchild.

The world has experienced trauma and everyone copes differently. I am supposed to attend a wedding of 130 people where testing is not required. Chances are good that in a group that size, even with a requested vaccine, someone is carrying the variant. It feels like we just don’t want to help each other get through this.

We all wanted to not take the vaccine and have everyone else take it to develop herd immunity for us. I am angry because I am super allergic and have to consider yet another vaccine. Healthy people who won’t take the vaccine, keep this pandemic going. It isn’t just about a personal choice. It is hard to change minds when you are moving through uncharted territory.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Yom Kippur

Image

Yom Kippur

“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” Antonio Porchia

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is considered the single holiest day in the Jewish year. It is a somber and solemn day. It is the day we atone for our sins and set the path for the new year. Who by fire? asks the Leonard Cohen song. The day is most famously marked by complete abstinence from food and water for 26 hours. This restriction is, of course, lifted where there is a threat to life or a person’s health  (or in my case, God says it’s ok). Yom Kippur tends to be the holiday that Jews take the most seriously; most Jews attend synagogue for most of the day, and refrain from work

Fire and light are a comfort and a mystery. A light is like a person’s soul and Jews use candles to celebrate our deceased loved ones on the day of their passing and also on Yom Kippur.

I remember the scene in my house growing up. There are all these flickering candles in the dark for relatives that I never knew. I didn’t start lighting the yartzheit candles (as they are called) until my mom died. Traditionally it is only for your immediate family but you can light them for as many people as you want. My list gets bigger and bigger. I light one for each my parents, for all the people who have no one to light one for them, and my friend’s son who was the light of her life and died way too soon. After visiting Poland and the concentration camps and seeing all those abandoned Jewish cemeteries, I light one for all the people who died in the Holocaust. Last year I added the people who died of Covid 19 because we are all in this together. This year I add a family friend who also died way too soon. I see again all these flickering lights in the dark.

I’m sure there are fancy candles now but I prefer the old glass jar ones that I saw in my house growing up. I don’t find the candles morbid but it is comforting to see these old school candles as a connection between life and death.

I don’t know if there is a special prayer to say but I just think about them for a moment as I light each candle. I think about their memory and how their life has enriched mine. For the people I don’t know, I think that someone remembers you were here.

The candles burn for 24 hours. The whole day lends itself to memories of others and questions about how I want to live my life and how I hope I will be remembered. It’s a day to be sad but it is also ok to laugh if you remember something they did that was funny.

In my case, my mom will be saying, I’m so glad you paid attention and lit the candles for all of us, and so happy you gave your tickets away to the Banksy exhibit if you couldn’t use them, now go take a walk on the beach.

Happy Holidays

JAZ

.

9/11 Memorial

Image

9/11 Memorial

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” David Levithan

Maybe it was from a sense of obligation, to pay tribute to the lives lost; or a need to see the site of the World Trade Center tragedy to try to comprehend something that 17 years later is still hard to grasp. Maybe it was because I had just come from seeing Auschwitz in Poland. Maybe it was because I worked in Lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was being built. But while planning a visit to New York, there was never a moment I considered not going to the 9/11 memorial and museum.

Inside this immense expanse of the museum, you’ll find various artifacts on display such as pieces from the planes that struck the Twin Towers, one of many fire trucks which assisted in rescue efforts, a three-story metal beam covered with missing posters, photographs, and messages of resilience named the ‘Last Column’, as well as a retaining wall that survived the destruction of the original World Trade Center.

There are the smaller but just as significant artifacts like damaged fireman’s helmets, World Trade Center ID’s, faded subway cards, police uniforms, and dust-covered shoes.

The museum is thoughtfully divided into several exhibits, with the main two being the Historical Exhibition in the North Tower and the Memorial Exhibition in the South Tower.

The Historical Exhibition is filled with artifacts, photographs, first-person accounts, and archival audio and video recordings. This exhibit is made up of three sequential parts: the Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/11.

The Memorial Exhibition is situated within the original footprint of the South Tower, and contains portrait photographs of the almost 3000 people who lost their lives in result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

The Memorial is located where the Twin Towers once stood. There are now two large grey chasms in the ground from which water cascades down all four sides before gathering in a pool and finally plunging into a dark void in the middle.

On the brass rims around these twin pools you’ll find stencil-cut names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.

you are encouraged to touch them.

I did not know anyone personally who died that day. My son had just been dropped off for his freshman year in college in Boston. His father had taken that flight back to LA on American Airlines the week before. My mother who lived nearby had gone to a concert at the World Trade Center that Sunday. On September 11 at six am Los Angeles time, I was in the airport at American Airlines (three hours earlier than New York) waiting to get on a seven AM flight from LA to Boston because I had gotten a call a few hours before that my son was in the hospital about to have his appendix out.

“There but for fortune go you or I” Phil Oaks.

Fly safe,

JAZ

California Recalling

Image

California Recalling

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

I opened my ballot to vote last night and there they were – 46 of the strangest candidates to replace Governor Newsome – from Angelyne (an eighties sex symbol who always drove around town in a bright pink car) to Caitlin Jenner (who left campaigning to film Celebrity Big Brother) and everything in between. There were a lot of fringe Republicans as well. 

Whether you like Newsome or not, it did seem like a no brainer to keep him in office. But there he is – a Democrat trying to get Democrats to vote for him in the recall. 

My son is very concerned about the election so I texted a lot of people who I knew were Democrats to remind them to vote. I had a few surprises. I wasn’t looking to be Newsome’s defender. 

I don’t think you can blame him for the spike in Covid cases or the Delta variant. He tried to keep us safe.  I’m an at risk person so Covid safety is a big concern for me. There is no rulebook on how to govern during a pandemic.  Trump made mask wearing political. My personal belief is if Trump had taken the virus seriously from the beginning, we would be in much better shape, and he would probably still be president. Everyone made mistakes.  

I vote no on the recall -not because I particularly like Newsome. The second question is troubling. It feels wrong to leave something this important blank. My mother always said if you dont know who they are vote fist for the Democrats, second for the women (Angelyne?,  the yoga teacher? Caitlin?) and third for the Jews.  None of that seemed to work this time with these absurd, colorful candidates. I thought about writing in my dog or my boyfriend as both seemed better choices but it didn’t seem ok to make more of a joke of it either. 

So I left it blank. Not because I was asked to but because more than half of those people have never taken a Civics class and the ones that did, believe in Trump. My hope is to choose the lesser evil this time and work toward finding someone who represents the best for California in the next election. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Things I Am Good At

Image

Things I Am Good At

“Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome. “ Randy Pausch

You know what they say – low self-esteem is a self-fulling prophecy. The worse you feel about who you are and what you do, the less motivation you’ll have to do what it takes to build your self-esteem.

How do you stop this vicious cycle? One of the ways is to think about all the things you are good at. I just wrote my list. I feel better already.

Googling my ailments and then panicking.

Thinking about what I should have said.

Spilling.

Forgetting why I walked into a room.

Leaving items in my cart on Amazon thinking I bought them.

Writing super long emails and texts when i’m upset.

Running late.

Giving advice to other people.

Worrying.

Looking like I’m helping.

Using the find my phone app.

Making lists.

Stay safe,

JAZ

In The End We Felt Betrayed – Afghanistan And Viet Nam

Image

In The End We Felt Betrayed – Afghanistan And Viet Nam

“There’s never been a noble war except in the history books and propaganda movies. It’s a bloody, dirty, cruel, costly mistake in almost every case, as it was in this war that would end so badly.” Harold G. Moore

“In the end we felt betrayed” said a Viet Nam veteran who sees parallels between what the US did in Viet Nam and Afghanistan. There are stark similarities – a swift American pullout from  a military with little support left and an enemy defying peace deals and violently taking over. 

There it was this morning.  The same photo that was taken of American helicopters swiftly whisking the American diplomats out of Saigon was taken of the American diplomats being whisked out of Kabul.

President Joe Biden met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghanti (who has fled the country) in June and said “We’re going to stick with you, and we’re going to do our best to see that you have the tools you need”.  DIdn’t Nixon do the same thing in Viet Nam?

 Kabul just fell so quickly that there was no plan in place to help the Afghans who aided the Americans. They will kill them all. I can’t believe we have learned nothing. In Viet Nam, we spent a lot of money and lost many lives both American and foreign in a doomed endeavor. Handing the war over to our allies on the ground  as a cover for an exit strategy has a name – Vietnamization.

The Taliban are fighting for their strong religious beliefs with nothing to lose. They were prepared to sacrifice every single one of their lives for victory. The Afghan military is fighting for a corrupt government, now without help from the Americans. As we learned in Viet Nam, the most dedicated to winning at all costs, will win. Did America expect this tribal country to make their own peace in a place where we for ten years could not?

Just as the fall of Vietnam to Communist forces posed no real threat to the United States, the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is not making us safer — just creating a new generation of people who will hate America and who may grow up to become terrorists against the nation that had their dad or their aunt killed.

Fly safe, (Because you can)

JAZ

Israelis and Palestinians

Image

Israelis And Palestinians

“If your mother and father are fighting, who do you want to win? No one. You just want the fighting to stop.” Unknown

As with any war, everyone is fighting and no one is listening. The state of Israel  was created by a vote in the United Nations as a safe haven for the Jewish people who suffered from a history of antisemitism followed by the most horrific trauma of the Holocaust. They were given a piece of land the size of New Jersey. From the beginning, the Israelis have been attacked by the Arabs and had to learn to fight and protect themselves. Many of the early settlers were Holocaust survivors and they were not gong to let this happen again. Israelis learned to live in a state of conflict. Every house in Israel has a bomb shelter and a plan of what to do and where to go when attacked. People seem to forget their trauma  when viewing the more recent trauma of the Palestinians. 

How do you negotiate peace with a terrorist organization that wants Israel blown off the face of the earth? How do you negotiate with a terrorist organization that uses their women and children as human shields when Israel counterattacks? The Israelis drop fliers saying they will be bombing a certain terrorist weapon site so the civilians can leave and Hamas tells them to stay. How do you  negotiate with Hamas when it says in their charter “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad”.  Israelis have always been fighting for their lives and they have learned since 1948 to fight well.

Why does Israel constantly have to defend their actions of protecting themselves to the media? Why does every Jew in the world have to defend Israel against the liberal media who loves an underdog? The BF said based on the media he would be on the side of the Palestinians if he hadn’t actually spent time in Israel with me. 

The situation is a mess and the civilian population on both sides want peace. I don’t know what will happen but it doesn’t look good for either side. I do know that if Israel is eradicated, as in World War ll, no country will take the Jews. I believe no country will take the Palestinians either if it goes the other way.

One day i turned on an Israeli TV show in the middle. It was about Palestinian and Israeli college students who lived in the same dorm. Everyone was speaking Hebrew which I don’t speak so I would not know accents. I couldn’t tell who was Israeli and who was Palestinian. They were all going through the same thing at the same time and did not seem different. They had cast people who looked so much alike. You can tell that there is a shared ancient history there.

Pray for Peace and stay safe,

JAZ

To Kill A Mockingbird – Banned Again

Image

To Kill A Mockingbird – Banned Again

 “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Atticus Finch, Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird  has a long history with censorship.  It is one of the most challenged books in American Literature – from strong language, sex and rape to it makes people uncomfortable and now it is racist. 

The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her Southern hometown in 1936 when she was 8 years old.

Atticus Finch functions as the moral backbone of the story, a person to whom others turn to in times of doubt and trouble. His daughter Scout is the narrator and the story is told through the eyes of an eight year old girl.  Unable to abide the town’s comfortable ingrained racial prejudice, Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man with trumped up charges against him. After losing the trial, Atticus practices empathy and understanding and teaches this to his children Scout and Jem. He never holds a grudge against the people of Maycomb. Atticus accepts all people because he is an expert at “climbing into other people’s skin and walking around. “ 

My son calls him the world’s greatest dad. To Kill A Mockingbird is a book I reread often when faced with a moral dilemma. It has always been a lesson in doing the right thing for no other reason then because it is the right thing to do even if you know the outcome.

The story reflects the time and language of the South during the depression. Yes, as a child It made me uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable for the black people in my class also. I was also uncomfortable reading Anne Frank. Why did people hate us so much? 

Literature is not history. There is this wonderful moment in reading a novel where you think “You feel that way too? I thought that I was the only one.” I relate to Atticus Finch’s moral dilemma, Anne Frank’s fear and resilience, Hamlet’s indecisiveness, Holden Caulfield’s bad atttiude, Celie’s rise from nothing, Florentina’s love (In the Time Of Cholera) and Don Quixote snd Sancho Panza’s friendship. The list goes on and on. 

Having students read about racism is not an act of promoting racism. While some aspects of history can be “uncomfortable” to read, they are also thought-provoking and encourage important discussions on race. it provides students the opportunity to read and analyze the characters on their own terms and develop their own sense of morality.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn and other novels are being considered to be banned in California.  The banning of books sparks serious debate over literary censorship in the classroom. If we continue to ostracize and disallow certain texts to young readers, we are limiting their access to ideas and opinions which vary from our own. If we begin to exclude anything that may “trigger” a specific group, we will be grossly limiting our children’s education.

My boyfriend is rereading Hemingway. He said that  Hemingway is casually antisemitic and racist. I have no idea what that means. Further along in the book, he said, “It’s not so casual anymore. He is antisemitic and racist”. Is Hemingway next?

Read safe,

JAZ

More Of The Same

Image

More Of The Same

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln

if there is one thing that social media has shown me is that despite all our differences, Americans have many shared experiences that we all can relate to. At a time when we seem to be more divided than ever, I thought I’d share a few things that prove that I have more in common with the next person than you might think. If you think about it, you probably do also. 

I wear a size 8 shoe. That is an average size foot for women in America which means I am never far from someone I can borrow shoes from.

Pizza is my favorite food. If i have a rough day and come home to find even my dog is judging me, the comfort food I am going to reach for is pizza. Ninety three per cent of Americans have eaten pizza this month.

If i am angry, I rehearse arguments in my head. I think it might be a common thing to make you feel more prepared about confronting someone and it is definitely better when i imagine myself “winning”.

I worry about offending anyone with body odor or bad breath. I shower every day, use deodorant and brush my teeth as often as possible.  

i hate when I pocket dial someone and they call me back and i have to say I didn’t really want to speak to you.

i am very direct. I usually talk first and think later. Being assertive is generally seen as a good thing in America.

I like denim. I’m still not super comfortable with the double denim look. 

i had a Diet Coke addiction and now I drink it once in a while. I notice the while time is getting shorter. 

i am very careful around police officers. There are too many unstable human beings with guns. If they tell me to pull over and stay in the car, I stay in the car. I look directly at the officer smile and say,”What seems to be the problem, officer?” I never argue or avert eye contact. If you are from another country never offer money. If you are not white, try not to get pulled over. 

I have the right to pursue happiness. Most of us are not happy and our country is a mess because of this. It is actually written down that we can all be out for ourselves and pursue our own happiness. That is what connects us. 

Stay Safe 

JAZ

Am I Prejudiced In America?

Image

Am I Prejudiced In America?

“People who insist on dividing the world into ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ never contemplate that they may be someone else’s ‘Them’.” Ray Davis

I decided to repost this blog. Our culture is splintering. Racism is out in the open and as it is challenged on one hand, it is championed even more on the other. We are all in this together and until we understand this ourselves, we cannot begin to be healed.

Donald Sterling said he was not a racist after making racial slurs. This made me wonder how you decide if you are a racist. I took some online tests. According to the internet, I am not. But I already knew that.

The more serious question for me as a“tolerant” liberal is, am I prejudiced? And if so against who? There was a period in my life where I would only have pretty friends. Was I vain and shallow or prejudiced against ugly people?  My daughter told someone I would never have a fat dog. Does that make me a bigot where fat dogs are concerned?

In Germany, I loved the beer, sausages, pretzels, art and scenery. But I did find myself looking at groups of older Germans picturing them in Nazi uniforms saying Heil Hitler. Do I discriminate against old Germans?

Growing up in New York City, I was surrounded by different immigrant populations.  I heard many foreign languages daily.   In fact, my friend and I would often converse on the subway in a made up language and watch people try to figure out what we were speaking.  I have lived in LA and Miami so I am very comfortable around Spanish-speaking people. But how would I feel at Anderson Cooper’s family reunion (according to not reliable Wikipedia his ancestors have been here for a long time)?  Does that qualify as a prejudice against non recent immigrants or people who were here before the Civil War?

I think I would probably be fearful visiting a small town in the South or Middle America alone.  Would that make me intolerant toward Americans who don’t live in big cities?

I love intelligence, hate math, like creative types, dislike politicians and hate divorce. Does that make me biased against stupid people, people who leave their families, mathematicians, people with boring jobs and the government?

Many Americans have a bias against the elderly. Was I one of them? My mother once told me that people talked down to old people so I try to be aware of that.  I’m getting older. Now I look at them and think which one am I going to be? I’m definitely nicer now that it concerns me.

What about unconscious prejudice? Those are cultural lessons that we have learned over a lifetime. They can be passed on by mass media, parents, peers and other members of society.

Children as young as three can pick up prejudice without even knowing what it is. When my son was six he brought a New Kids On the Block lunchbox to school. Some of the older kids teased him and called him a faggot. He came home crying. I explained it as a very unkind word to my six-year-old. My three-year old daughter heard all of this. A few days later, an adult friend who she adored said he couldn’t come to her birthday party . She was upset and angry. She thought of the most unkind word she could think of, the one that made her brother cry and she called him a faggot. He happened to have been gay and though I tried to explain it, he never spoke to us again.

As a Caucasian person, I see racism in America as much better than when I was growing up. But the African-American , Latino, Gay, and Muslim communities say different things. So I listen, read and learn more. I try not to walk in their heads with my dirty feet as Leo Buscaglia would say. I keep traveling. The further out of my comfort zone I go, the more tolerant my world becomes. The tolerance along with education and understanding, is the beginning of acceptance.

Fly Safe,

JAZ