Tema Gouse
Next time around PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 00:00

Tema GouseTema GouseYou know you are truly aging when you find yourself thinking about how you would lay out your life if you had another chance.

Surprisingly – maybe because of my advanced years – my aspirations are not primarily material. Oh, I am narcissistic enough to want to have life’s luxuries and good times with minimum effort.  But as one birthday follows another, one’s values do undergo some modifications. There is one list of things that we would retain and another list of things we would change. Since little of it is within my control, I can dream.

Next time around, I will weigh 104 pounds and be able to eat whatever I like without experiencing weight change. I’d rearrange some pounds from one part of my body to another to be more aesthetically pleasing. I would have average-size feet, a straight spine, a feminine bosom and a cast-iron digestive system.  (It would also help if my genes did not harbor myopia so that my sons and grandchildren would not be stuck wearing glasses all their lives.)

And it would help if I could control myself from saying nearly everything that comes into my mind. Strong opinions (especially brilliant ones!) can be an asset, but they can also offend those you think you are impressing.

Transitions PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 June 2011 19:57

Tema GouseTema GouseMy dictionary defines “transition” as the passage from one state, stage, place or subject to another. My own definition is simpler and less abstract: We cannot always measure change, but it goes on constantly, with or without our input.

As the years go by, we are not always conscious of the changes in our lives. The physical aspects of daily living are usually (but not always) obvious. We know more about more things. We develop likes and dislikes. We grow taller; other physical developments occur, with or without our involvement. Most changes are beyond our control.

But let’s get more specific. The most obvious transition is from childhood to adulthood. It is accepted as inevitable by most of us – but not by all. The average preschooler is eager to go to school and wants more freedom of decision and activity. The average teenager tolerates school but feels entitled to make independent choices of freedom and activity. It is then that parents feel most anxious about giving up their control. When the kids were younger, those same parents were most desirous of losing their somewhat burdensome responsibility for those same children.

The biggest single change occurs when children and parents live apart for the first time. But that separation is probably the most significant advance in the development of any person. It is truly the time when one achieves adulthood, when the individual assumes personal responsibility for his or her successes and failures.

Warsaw revisited PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00
Tema GouseTema Gouse

Last week I watched a very interesting documentary on television – on PBS, of course. It was a collection of films taken by a German photographer under the jurisdiction of the Nazi government in the early 1940s.

Although Poland had already been invaded, the Germans did not at first imprison the Polish Jews. Instead, they herded them into Warsaw’s already overcrowded ghetto, where life was very difficult.

All of that was depicted, but the film gave no explanation of why the photographer created a pictorial record of the events of that time. The photographer hid all the films (or perhaps had multiple copies of them) and only recently decided to share them.

The grand plan for the Holocaust and the annihilation of all Jews was already under way when Germany invaded Poland. Most of the large Polish-Jewish population was evicted from their homes and their property confiscated.  And the Nazis’ “final solution” (plan for the destruction of all European Jews) ensued. The ghetto provided no protection against the mass assembling of families to be shipped off to concentration camps. Only the hardy survived – and not all of those.

This film, made nearly two generations ago, can still upset any feeling person. For me, it has great relevance. Not that I personally experienced any of the atrocities portrayed. No one in my family was directly affected by Nazi terrorism.  But I have other ties to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Irreplaceable treasures PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 April 2011 04:36
Tema GouseTema Gouse

Last Saturday my husband and I went to the local library because we had read that it was providing free shredding services. This made a wonderful assist to our marriage, because I have been noodging him for more than 60 years to throw away outdated papers that serve no purpose other than occupying closet space that no home ever has enough of.

I will not elaborate on what was involved in separating the essentials (to keep) from the non-essentials (to toss). That process was well worth the hours it took, because now when we are looking for the 1998 IRS tax returns (and can find only the 1997 and 1999 versions), we can place blame on our unusual disposal effort.

Every family is composed of individuals with varied value systems in regard to what merits being saved. Some of us are guardians of almost anything official or valuable looking. Others place higher value on neatness and consistently dispose of anything that is older than the fruit in the refrigerator.  Much of this is determined by how compulsive we are.

Movies are nothing but distant memories PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 April 2011 00:00

Tema GouseTema GouseIn 1927, I was in pre-school and very precocious.  When my sister (older by 17 months) and my cousins announced that Mom was taking them to the showing of the first movie with sound, I realized that I was not included in the invitation. After my usual outburst, Mom (as usual) gave into my tantrum and included me.

By my figures, that means that eventful day was 84 years ago.  I was well-behaved, but like everyone else in the theater, I cried through most of it. It starred Al Jolson, (who was an awful singer).  It was called “The Jazz Singer,” which is what the lead role aspired to be.  But, the papa, who was a cantor, only wanted his son to follow him in that role in the synagogue. Details of the movie elude me, but the experience was significant, establishing a long-term love of the movies.

In my middle-class Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, the established Saturday afternoon activity for 7-to-12-year-olds was to go to the movie theater nearby.  Each child paid a dime to see the movie (later a “double-feature), coming attractions, a “serial” which lasted for about eight consecutive weeks, news of the week, and a 10-minute intermission for attendees with small bladders.

This ritual lasted until I was about 12, when my tastes changed and admission was more costly – probably 20 cents! Later, I over-attended movies during the summer because camp days were over and jobs for teenagers non-existent.

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