Tag Archives: politics

Cutting Comedy: Passover Greetings from Jared and Ivanka (Not Really)

This is Norma speaking: Tonight is the first night of Passover. We will all be praying, regardless of our beliefs, for liberation from this on-going affliction we call coronavirus. A dear friend in Philadelphia (I know her from Oaxaca) writes comedy. She doesn’t publish it, except to send her pieces out periodically to friends and family. I am swooning in admiration for her cutting wit and genius. This is all her original material. She needs to be hired by Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, I received her permission to post — anonymously. She doesn’t want to receive hate mail. You can send hate mail to me.

Passover Greetings from Jared and Ivanka

As you may know the Jewish Holiday of Passover begins today, April 8, at sundown. As a public service I am pleased to turn this newsletter over to the best, most fabulous, amazingly Jewish Jew, Jared Kushner! Jared will explain to us the meaning of Passover and the seder plate, as he, Ivanka and 25 members of their family gather, at the home of top Jew and white nationalist, Stephen Miller. 

Great to see you all, especially without those unattractive masks! As Dad would say, you women look like COWS in those masks! Anyway, Passover is a time for family, for gathering around a table and expressing gratitude for our freedom, which is a luxury not afforded to many people around the world, such as those children in holding pens at the border, forcibly separated from their parents and exposed to a pandemic. 

The story of how the Jews became free from slavery in the land of Egypt is told during the seder, a ritual service and ceremonial dinner. One of our customs is to open our door and set out a cup of wine for the prophet Elijah who arrives to announce the coming of the Messiah and to encourage the Jewish people to do what’s right and to STEER CLEAR OF FALSE GODS.!!!!!!!!!! This year Elijah will be coming from Sweden or Norway; prophets from sh—h— countries will not be welcomed in or given wine. This year is also special because we are waging war on an insidious enemy! As Churchill said during World War ll: “ We will fight them on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields; in the streets and in the hills—and we shall never surrender!” Yes—we will be fighting the CDC, the environmentalists, the free press, and every  adult in the room!!! We will fight them in the Supreme court, in the halls of the Senate, on the golf courses and in NATO if we have to——and we shall never surrender!!

Traditionally, the youngest child asks the 4 questions, that inquire “why is this night different from all other nights?” If you don’t mind, I will just skip ahead to the answers on this one. The main answer is that this night IS NOT DIFFERENT FOR ME!!!!! As the Senior, most Senior grand poobah, Little Prince, special, most special, best special, more than special, special advisor to the TROLL-IN-CHIEF, I am conducting BUSINESS AS USUAL!!!!!!! That includes:

*first and foremost, continuing to file eviction and debt collection lawsuits at my properties!

* bringing peace to the Middle East (any day now. I’m personal friends with Mohammed bin Salman and schmooze with  him all the time on WHAT’S APP)!

 *studying for my on-line medical degree (I already know everything there is to know about the coronavirus, I just don’t have that piece of paper!!)

*checking to make sure that Dad is still #1 on Facebook!!!

 *making sure that the supply of masks, gowns and other protective gear needed for a pandemic are SAFELY STORED UNDER LOCK AND KEY in “our” Federal stockpile

 *getting a federal coronavirus response website up and running in time for effective prevention and the saving of thousands of lives

 * submitting Dad’s name  and paperwork for the Nobel prize

 * scouring the country to recruit more entitled whitebread misogynistic, fratboy candidates for future Supreme Court positions! Lots of meeting with Mitch McConnell on this one!!

 * trying to get Mary Barra, the CEO of GM to make ventilators. I think she can do the job because she is not as bad looking as Carly Fiorina. 

 * working to expand the recent voter suppression efforts in Wisconsin to other states!

* teaming up with Stephen Miller on a new print and online newspaper, “FAKE JEWS”!!!!!


So, back to Passover. In the Bible, plagues were rained down on Egypt for not releasing the Jews from slavery: stuff like locusts, boils, blood. In modern lingo these plagues are climate change scientists; Nancy Pelosi; the free press; Socialists– who are receiving food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, or federal unemployment extensions; LGBTQ people; unattractive women; the English language; empathy; compassion; and common sense. We will fight them on the beaches, etc. etc. The worst plague was the smiting of the firstborn son in every household. The Jews were spared because they knew in advance to put an X on their doors so the Angel of Death would Pass Over their homes. Except for the Jews, all the other firstborn sons were slain!!!!!!!!!!!!! In modern times, the first born son would, of course be Andrew Cuomo!!!!!!!!!! Enough said, if you get my point!!!!!!!!

So now i will walk you through the meaning of foods on the seder plate. They are all symbols meant to remind us that the Jews went from slavery to freedom.

* SHANK BONE  symbol of the special sacrifice made by the Jews on the eve of the exodus from Egypt. In modern terms, this commemorates the special sacrifice made by Dad to close Mar-A-Lago and also for sharing some rolls of toilet paper with close members of the White House staff

*HARD BOILED EGG represents the continuing cycle of life and the  will to survive of the Jewish people. This  is so appropriate for my wife who has the will to survive the temporary closing of her handbag and jewelry manufacturing factories in China. Hard boiled eggs also reference her DD breast implants. 

*BITTER HERBS remind us of the bitterness of slavery. In modern times, this refers to the bitterness of the crybaby governors who are not nice to Dad!

 *VEGETABLE, usually parsley, that is dipped in salt water to symbolize he tears of slavery, as well as spring and the spirit of hope and faith in the future.  We don’t have parsley, so i just shredded the money we would  pay our cook, our nanny, our driver and our cleaning people who would normally be coming in to work but now they aren’t. Shredded bills really look like parsley!! yay!

SWEET PASTE/HAROSET  usually made with apples, walnuts and red wine,  it represents what Jewish slaves used to make bricks and mortar for their overlords; it also stands for the sweetness of freedom. In modern times this stands for the bricks, mortar and  gold leaf of the Trump Hotels; it also stands for the sweetness of freedom still enjoyed by the all the maids who work there who have not yet been detained or deported by ICE!!

And finally, some of you may want to know why we eat matzah on Passover. Well, when the Jews had to flee Egypt, they had to take off in a hurry, before they had time for their bread to rise. So today we eat matzah, which is unleavened bread, and is also called the bread of affliction. And Ivanka and i know from affliction. We had to cancel a pre-paid ski vacation because of the impeachment trial!!!

At the end of the service it’s traditional to say: Next year in Jerusalem!!!

Signing off with love, the most special of all the special advisors who have ever been  and will ever be special, Jared and Ivanka

Ivanka at “take your daughter to work day!!”  Soooo proud!!


An Immigrant to Mexico, Not an Ex-Pat

This year, I will live in North Carolina for only a few weeks. I will be here to vote. That is mostly why I bought my apartment condo in Downtown Durham, though you could say I could vote absentee ballot.  But to do that, you need a permanent address. A post office box will not do.

I’m prompted by this fact to remind myself that I am a Mexican immigrant and not an ex-pat. I will explain.

Read this important definition: Ex-Pat or Immigrant

I am here, too, because I have good friends, dear family and a need to have one toe in the water, even though the water now is scalding hot. We are getting burned.

You haven’t heard from me in a while and there’s a reason. My return to Durham was interrupted by Hurricane Florence and the aftermath of clean-up and tragedy, babies loosened from the arms of their fleeing mothers, ripped away by the torrents of rushing water, lost forever. The news captured me. Saddened me.

Then, the drama of the Senate Judiciary Committee interviews of Christine Blasey Ford and a Supreme Court Justice nominee called Kav permeated every fiber of my being. I watched the entire day of testimony from start to finish. Big mistake.

Now, I’m in recovery, big time. I’ve been in near isolation for three weeks. Not much to write about, it seems, in comparison to the big events called politics in the United States of America. I understand why people want to escape. Go on a cruise. Eat ice cream. Not vote. The aftermath disgusts me.

SOLD. intricate embroidered blouse, San Bartolome Ayautla. $265. Size L-XL

In the meantime, I was asked to write a chapter for a book about ex-pat women from the USA who moved to Mexico. Did we flee a god-forsaken nation hell-bent on self-destruction or what?

I procrastinated. Then, I finally sat down to write it. As soon as it’s published, I’ll share it with you. But the most important kernel for me is that I came to realize I’m an immigrant, not an ex-pat.

The distinction is subtle and also simple. The standard definition: An ex-pat lives outside her/his home country. The standard definition: An immigrant claims their adopted country and intends to live there indefinitely.

Immigrants put down roots and embrace the culture, consider that the place they have moved to will always be home. Makes some attempt to learn the language and interact with the local community. Realizes that humility goes much further than arrogance. Defers to local customs. Waits for acceptance.

Ex-pats in Mexico are snowbirds, needing a warm and affordable place to spend the winter. Ex-pats might also be those testing the waters of retirement, determining where to live on a fixed budget that will stretch farther. They are far away from home in the USA or Canada, but for most, replicate that sense of home in a new place, sequestered in gated communities, attached to tennis clubs and those who speak the same language.

If I am being judgmental, please share your opinions.

This discussion gave me pause to think about where I fit in the definition, and part of the ultimate question we all must ask ourselves from time to time: Who am I? Where do I belong?

I’ve been part of Oaxaca for 13 years. Not so long in the scope of my life. But long enough to know it is home and I will live there indefinitely.

Next Monday, Omar arrives. He is the youngest of the Chavez Santiago children. He is bringing beautiful hand-woven rugs for sale and teaching cochineal dye workshops. After Durham, we are going to Philadelphia together where he will be hosted at five different venues. You’ll hear more.

Then, for me, I’m back to Mexico on November 8. After I’ve voted. It won’t be too soon.


Oaxaca #DAYOFDINNERS Raises Funds for MALDEF

Twenty-two Oaxaca, Mexico, residents and visitors came together yesterday in Teotitlan del Valle to share food and community, think and talk about injustice, what being “the other” means, our vision of hope for the future, and what divides us and brings us together as human beings.

Our Oaxaca, Mexico #DayofDinners Group

The #DAYOFDINNERS was organized in the United States as a way to address the polarity and viciousness that has taken hold of the nation.

Welcome to Oaxaca Day of Dinners

Partners included Women’s March on Washington, People’s Supper, Take on Hate, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, I am an Immigrant, United We Dream, The Movement for Black Lives.

Our clean-up crew: Jacki, Merry and Roberta

Jacki Cooper Gordon and I chose to co-host this potluck supper as a fundraiser for MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. We raised over $200 USD. I am certain they would welcome your donation, too, and it’s tax deductible (USA).

Yummy food, great company, conversation

A discussion guide was sent to me by the Day of Dinners organizers, and we used some of the questions as a launching pad for conversation. We were urged to keep our conversations personal, to share our individual stories, provide space for each of us to speak and be heard, to curtail the rant about dysfunctional political leadership.

We raised over $200 for MALDEF

For me, it was a wonderful time to better know friends and acquaintances who make Oaxaca home, and welcome visitors.  I was especially grateful that we had a mix of men and women, native and foreign-born, to gain perspective about culture, tradition, politics and privilege. Can we reconcile differences? How?

Teotitlan del Valle tamales with chicken, mole amarillo, made by Ernestina Chavez

Guiding principles and conversation teasers: Give us your life story in 1-minute!

Hosted by Norma and Jacki in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

Pineapple white mousse cake to finish it off!






Being a Oaxaca Host: Lessons for People and Nations

My friend Debbie from North Carolina came to visit me in Oaxaca this week. It was a fast three nights and two-and-a-half days. We packed a lot in as the news of the world was (and continues to) unfolding, raging, tangling itself up around us. I wanted to show her my world here.

Archeological sites. Markets. Weavers. Mezcal and candle makers. Mountain vistas. High desert.

Amidst Zapotec-Mixtec ruins, San Pablo Villa de Mitla church

Debbie is more than a friend. We share the sisterhood of once living together as neighbors in a co-housing community that was based on consensus decision-making.

Our relationship developed amidst all the attending struggles within a group of having to reconcile differences and come to agreement about how to live with respect, caring and intention. This is not easy, not natural and takes practice.

Evening respite, chiminea aglow, on my casita patio

We were part of a women’s group that shared reading material, discussions, intimacies, success and disappointments. We comforted each other when there was loss.  We celebrated together when there was joy. We lost a friend in this group to cancer that took her fast. We mourned. Picked up. Continued.

Debbie wrote a blog post about how to be a good guest:

Learning to Be a Guest

The counterpoint for me is how to be a good host. Give comfort, security, food. Offer activities, entertainment and quiet. Make introductions to friends. Sit and talk. Understand the then and now. Have fun. Create discovery. A lesson how to be a good host should be a taught to the USA’s new administration.

Fresh carrot/beet/pineapple juice alongside Jugo Verde, Teotitlan del Valle market

This is not only about how to stay in another person’s house. It is about how we live/visit as guests in a country other than our own. It is about how we welcome people in, consider their needs.

Even for those of us who make Oaxaca or Mexico home for several months or the entire year, even for those of us who have taken up permanent residency, we are the other, the guest.  In that capacity, how do we behave? How do we interact with the local community? What do we contribute? Are we observers or participators in local customs and traditions? What is our footprint?

Debbie in the shadows of ancient archeological site

This week, in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave, at the end of the first week of the 45th president, we have closed our borders and threatened our immigrants. We are at risk of sacrificing our civil liberties out of fear and isolation.

The country of my birth, where I also make my home, is rampant with xenophobia, arrogance, and has retreated into becoming a very bad host. The risk of losing values — that of welcoming the huddled masses yearning to be free — brings me despair.

Mexico, land of the free and home of the brave, too.

This new president, whom I call Mr. Orange Menace, has a lot to learn about hospitality, although he seems to run hotels. But, oh, yes, they are for the very wealthy!

Ancient Zapotec temple carvings, Teotitlan del Valle church

Here in the Mexican village I call home for much of the year, I am a guest. I try to remember that daily. I live here in respect for my hosts, the indigenous people who are my neighbors. I know many by name and they invite me into their homes to visit, for meals and celebrations. As a good guest, I try to be helpful and not overstep. Keep my footprint in sync with theirs. I live in a small casita and drive an old car. I am not worried about living in the campo.

Sharing mezcal with weaver friend Arturo Hernandez

With the tone of discourse between Mexico and the USA at a low point, with the bullying and bluster of wall-building on the border taking on fearful proportions, I can’t help but wonder if that will have an impact on how I might be treated here.  I can only imagine these parallel universes between cross-border immigrants. Respecting minority rights is a basic principle of humanity, of democracy.

And, all I want to do is say, I’m sorry. 

The high desert gives forth life, prickly though it is




From Oaxaca, Mexico: Feliz Fiestas y Navidad, Merry Holidays, Chag Sameach

Wishing you all the blessings of peace, contentment, safety and good health at this joyous time of year when we think of renewal, looking beyond the Winter Solstice as the earth turns, the days grow longer and all is well in the land.

Feliz Fiestas from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Poinsettias. Mexico’s gift to the world.

We are dormant now. Slower. More thoughtful, perhaps. In ancient cultures our attention might turn to the spring planting. May our seeds of new life bring forth all the richness of life that we each deserve.

Christmas in Mexico Photo Gallery: Mexico Travel Photography

Barbara and David Garcia’s magnificent Christmas Tree, Chula Vista, California

For all my Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Parsi, Buddhist, Bahai, agnostic, atheist friends around the world, and those whose religions I do not know, it is my fervent hope that 2017 becomes the year of reconciliation, cross-cultural acceptance and understanding. We have the opportunity to act locally to make change and bring us together.

Whew, I’m finally home in Oaxaca!

Honoring the altar/manger, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca Christmas

After a long night of delayed flights due to weather in Tijuana, a bumpy ride, followed by a five-hour nap, and a late night of traditional Christmas Eve celebration with my beloved Chavez Santiago family in Teotitlan eating stuffed turkey laden with plenty of tryptophan, I am awake to a new day. Almost normal.

The last posada, Christmas Eve, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

I’m drinking a great cup of strong Oaxaca coffee. The sun is up and it’s going to be a glorious day.

Celebrating Mohammed’s birthday with Salim Wazir and family, Bhuj, Gujarat, India

This year, Christmas and Hanukkah converge once more. Feliz Navidad. Chag Sameach. Two weeks ago, in Bhuj, Gujarat, India, I celebrated Eid and Mohammed’s Birthday with Salim Wazir and his family. We sat on the floor around a feast covered tablecloth and ate together. My Muslim friends wore white, a symbol of purity.

Boundary line, border crossing, USA and Mexico. #No wall!

My son Jacob and I crossed over the bridge linking the USA to the Tijuana, Mexico, airport. I met a 16-year old returning to Oaxaca who hasn’t seen his mother and sisters in four years.

I said to him, I bet you have a story to tell.

Yes, he nodded.

I could only imagine.

May love and an open heart prevail as we move into 2017.

I saw a mix of people carrying USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua passports going home for Christmas to visit family. I am reminded how connection is so important in our lives. How the Berlin wall fell. That walls cannot break us.

Sparklers light the way for La Ultima Posada, the last posada, on Christmas Eve

In Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, this morning I awakened to cojetes — firecrackers — and the sound of music. Christmas music. Tunes we are familiar with — Silent Night, White Christmas, Joy to the World and Feliz Navidad — sung in Spanish, blared out over a loud-speaker from somewhere in the village. Tunes whose origins are German, American, Latin, religious and secular, some composed by a Jewish immigrant Irving Berlin.

Bedecked for the holidays on the Zocalo, Oaxaca, Mexico

In the past thirteen years since I first started coming here regularly, it seems that USA popular culture has infiltrated our local villages more and more. Blinking holiday lights, reindeer on rooftops and x-Box games on big screen TVs are more prevalent than ever.

Oaxaca’s radish festival. Even Porfirio Diaz got kicked out.

Change happens. It is neither good or evil. It is to be discussed, explored, researched and understood. Whatever the next Man in D.C. tries to do, I defy him to build a wall that separates families. He is not my president.

Another babe in arms. Zocalo, Oaxaca, Mexico

This is what dads do in Mexico. They kiss and hold their babies. They don’t want to be separated.