My name is Irene Zion and I have been writing for TNB for quite a while. I’ve been married to Victor for 76 years, or thereabouts. Victor practiced retinal surgery for decades and I taught junior high and high school, but mostly I raised the oodles of children in my house. Some of them were mine. Now we are retired and living on Miami Beach. We are blessed with good health and stamina. We are thankful for the discovery of powerful antacid medicines, so that we can continue to enjoy foods that would otherwise eat right through our stomach linings. I am still hoping for a cure for chicken neck, but all things considered, we are content and peaceful. Life is good.

Victor and I went on a long trip to Africa recently. Yeah, but that is way too long and complicated to get into here. Never mind. You should just be aware that we do a lot of weird traveling. Our aspiration is to go everywhere and see everything. We have plenty of time, since we aren’t planning to get any older.

We have at least five kids that I can remember off the bat. They are frequently characters in my stories, so you should know a bit about them. In age order there is Sara, who is an anesthesiologist. She is married to Tushar and has our phenomenal and only grandchildren, Stella and Oscar. Then there is Lonny, who is married to Sara. Tim is in the middle. Then comes Lenore, (you know her, right?) Last, I think, is Ben, who is married to Kate.

Sara, Tushar, Stella and Oscar moved from one state to another recently. Their new house came with an elevator and a fish tank. The elevator is exceptionally safe. You could walk up the stairs backwards and blindfolded, carrying a porcelain toilet, and get there far before the elevator does. The fish tank is teaching the children about death.

Lonny proposed to Sara at our annual Thanksgiving festival. Two years ago, Ben proposed to Kate at this same festival, thus setting in stone the tradition that when a child of ours gets engaged, it is at our house, during the Thanksgiving weekend, surrounded by family, friends, dogs and sushi. Strange things seem to happen at our Thanksgivings, ask around.

Sara and Lonny followed our sensible family custom and eloped. They are now a typical newly married couple, complete with a practical house and enormous debt. Sara obviously has magical powers, since she actually retained a teaching position in Los Angeles, which is nothing to sneeze at. Now we have two “Sara Zions,” the resulting confusion being perfectly Zionesque. There was an outside chance once for another “Kate Zion,” but she turned out to be a closeted creepy psycho-stalker, so we had to jettison her, but I would need permission in order to tell that story.

Timothy is now getting a Masters Degree in Accounting. This required him to buy and use a PC. He keeps his beloved Mac in working order and occasionally buys it a new Mac toy in order to assuage his conscience and mollify his Mac. Tim is allergic to cats and he can’t have a dog in his apartment, so I’m pretty sure the Mac is his only pet now. After spending close to nine years in Hawaii, Tim is having a difficult time leaving his flip-flops home and putting on warm shoes in the cold and snowy Chicago winter. I think that it would be a safe bet to make that, after he finishes his degree, he might very well relocate to a place that is flip-flop-friendly.

Lenore was in the original crop of TNBers; I assume you’ve read her stuff. She has only a matter of months remaining in her Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She, not unlike other Zion children, is collecting degrees. This one will be her fourth. She also has two in Creative Writing and another in Psychology. These degrees have so far landed her a short stint at Blockbusters. We, as a family, look extremely good on paper. Unfortunately, we do not excel in actually landing gainful employment.

Lenore is working on what we euphemistically call the “last draft” of her novel. She will be out in the job market again at the end of August, given that she has not already appeared on Oprah, before the show goes off the air.

Benjamin and Kate also live in Chicago. Benjamin will finish Law school at the end of the summer, after which he is determined to land the elusive position in Law. I am concerned that this search is unlikely to bear edible fruit, so he may soon be adding yet another degree to his résumé. We hope the next one will lead to a real job for which he might get actual cash money. Kate just began Medical School. She is usually holed up in their tiny extra room studying. She occasionally sleeps and eats.

Our four-year-old Golden, Brooklyn, tore her second ACL and had her second Tibial Patellar Leveling Osteotomy. We were relieved to hear that ACL tears can only happen on a dog’s rear knees. Since both of them have been repaired, we should be good to go now. She has a staggering amount of titanium connecting parts of her body together. She won’t be pulling any sleds in the Iditarod, but she gets around just fine for what she needs to do. In March she will have healed enough from her latest surgery to limp back to her therapy dog work. Kimchee, our two-year-old Golden, is almost finished her therapy dog training. She is a goofy and delightful dog, perfect for therapy work, if she will stop peeing and wagging her tail in it every time she meets someone new. So far as I know, being sprayed with dog pee is not considered therapeutic.

For reasons that are unclear to us, we have had five attempted koi suicides in our atrium fishpond this year. Alas, four of the suicides were successful. One fish was saved in the nick of time by quick action by Victor, who ran through the pond to retrieve the muddy fish off the dirt and hurriedly placed him back in his element. It has been some months, and this particular fish seems to have had a change of heart. We think he has chosen life. Bravo for him.

Victor still volunteers at Fairchild Tropical Gardens doing backbreaking work on palm trees in the beating sun with two of his highly educated friends who also nevertheless inexplicably do hard labor. He and his friends are all of a certain age. Virtually every week, one of them throws out his back or injures an eye.

We also found out that Victor is allergic to every variety of ant in Florida. Aside from making him itchy, he looks uncommonly nasty after these allergic reactions. Luckily for him, he couldn’t care less how he looks. He also doesn’t care how I look. This used to annoy the bejezus out of me, but the older I get; the more this quirk of his is working in my favor.

Victor also teaches basic math and reading skills at a men’s homeless shelter. If you know Victor, you may be surprised to hear that he has an unflinching faith in humanity and the right to a second chance. (I know! He seems so cynical, right?)

I continue to play with children confined to their beds at Miami Children’s Hospital. I also cart Brooklyn around so she can do her various therapy jobs, since, although she is uncommonly clever, she does not have the opposable thumbs needed to drive a car.

I continue to paint peculiar portraits in oil when I am able to dislodge Victor from my leg.

It pleases me to write stories on line at TNB, for which I am grateful to its creator, Brad Listi. I write non-fiction. In doing so, I try my best to embarrass as many family members as possible. From time to time, a serious story slips in to my site. That’s your one and only warning; Ben Loory, (also known as “son of Loory,”) was right. Virtual gold stars are sent out to everyone who comments. The repugnant and offensive comments are especially fun to read, so, please, have at it!

Now that we have officially been introduced, we wish each of you good health and contentment in your life.

And a dog.

We wish you each at least one dog to love you regardless of what life throws at you.


Photograph Legend:

Humans:

Back row, left to right: Tim, Sara, Lonny, Ben, Victor, and Tushar.

Middle row, left to right: Kate, Lenore, Irene and Sara.

Front row, left to right: Stella and Oscar

Dogs:

Back left: Kimchee

Front right: Brooklyn

Fish:

Survivors of the multiple piscatorial suicides are swimming Shiva and declined to be photographed at this time.

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IRENE ZION has been married to the same curmudgeon for 40 years. She has 5 children, none of whom sufficiently appreciates her. The one you probably know is Lenore, who frequently gives her mother hives. Irene paints oil portraits and makes her own frames. She has been described as an outsider artist. Most of her paintings creep people out, especially her family. She finds this to be greatly satisfying. She writes non-fiction for TNB and loves every minute of it. She is writing fiction now too, but is too chicken to show it to anyone. She has two golden retrievers who will inherit anything of worth she leaves behind. Her kids will delight in dividing up her famous cork collection and her notorious stockpile of bubble wrap.

139 responses to “Meet the Zions: An Introduction for the New TNBers”

  1. Anon says:

    I loved everything about this but “swimming Shiva” was funny enough that I may have soiled myself….

  2. jmblaine says:

    I predict this will get 787 beautiful comments
    because now people that love you
    will love you all that much more

    Except me
    because you knocked me off the main page.

  3. D.R. Haney says:

    I seem to have read a version of this elsewhere, Irene.

    Maybe we should all write something along these lines. “Hello, I’m a TNB contributor. I don’t even know if I’m being read by anyone other than some of my fellow contributors, but if I am, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the recurring themes you’ll be encountering, so that you can make sense of inside jokes and that kind of thing.”

    In any case, Greg may have kicked off a new TNB trend.

  4. Frank says:

    “…doing backbreaking work on palm trees in the beating sun with two of his highly educated friends who also nevertheless inexplicably do hard labor. He and his friends are all of a certain age. Virtually every week, one of them throws out his back or injures an eye.”

    I resemble that remark!

    -Frank

  5. Zara Potts says:

    I love Lenore’s yellow cardigan in the picture – in fact I just love Lenore full stop!

  6. Greg Olear says:

    The Zions are the Kennedys of this site, and Miami Beach our Hyannisport. Loved this. All that’s missing is backwards writing.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Oh Greg,

      There are such drawbacks to typing, aren’t there?

      (It’s way too cold up there in Hyannisport. Won’t catch us up there for long.)

  7. ksw says:

    I found this article RETARDED. Now please note, I use the word only in the “Limbaugh” usage and not in the “Rahm” insensitive manner. My usage is Palin approved, I have a document I can share with you, but I digress. What if there are stalkers reading this who will now use the information you have provided to harm your loved ones? What if someone comes to your home and steals your dogs, or even worse the koi? What is the fish name? He must not be “the fish that has no name”. Anyway, he can now perform in Monty Python and sing “I am not dead yet”. May the record show that this response is extraordinarily long for me(since it is more than a phrase). Now for the really relevant criticism: Did you see Tiger Woods” mea culpa today? If you only accepted Buddhism in your life, none of the bad things would happen. Of course, it does require staying centered, which can be a problem. You could spin out of control and fall down like Mars in the Jimmy Dean breakfast commercial. LONG LIVE THE ZION’S AND ALL OF THEIR PROGENY, PETS AND PISCES.

    • Irene Zion says:

      I am totally at a disadvantage here, cause I don’t have the slightest clue what Limbaugh said about being retarded. I’ll find out though, I’m sure.
      I totally got the go-ahead with the stalker part. That may have NOT been wise, but only time will tell.
      (And probably really soon. Expect the worst, I always say.)
      The fish is “The Fish That Must Not Be Named.” (Duh.)
      I would love it if he could sing “I’m not dead yet.” It would be really cool. However, we have not had a singing fish yet, but I do not presume that to be out of the realm of the possible.
      For the record, I don’t think that you have ever commented more than four words, tops. This is really special, and I am duly noting it and appreciating it.
      Sorry. Last thing I watched today was Imus while drinking my coffee and reading the paper. I would venture to say that he apologized to Nike and all his sponsors first, though. Just a guess, though, not having watched it.
      Victor can stay centered. I’m afraid that I was born off-center. I’m spinning out of control as we speak.
      (Haven’t seen the Jimmy Dean commercial, but I do love his sage breakfast sausage, if that means anything.
      Aww.
      That was nice there at the end.
      Thanks, ksw!
      (Nice alliteration, too!)

  8. Christine W. says:

    “Virtually every week, one of them throws out his back or injures an eye.” I love this line.

    Also, swimming Shiva? Please convey my condolences to your koi.

    You guys are awesome. I’m glad we met Tim so many years ago.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Christine W.?

      All of that is true. These people should be rocking on the porch with their pipes and shooting the breeze, but they have to try to fool people that they are in their twenties!
      Just yesterday, victor tried to carry a butcher block table across the house. I am NOT making this up!

      They are very sad and observant fish. I visit every day. I don’t want to bother them now, but I will convey your condolences tomorrow.

      Vice versa, kid. Vice versa.

  9. Tim says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention my half-brother, Julio! Sorry, Julio. Mom can be a real bitch sometimes.

    • lonny says:

      mom doesnt like to talk about Julio
      her whole 2nd family is a poorly kept secret
      i dont think she should hang up her other family photos next to ours
      we will only believe ‘oh that is the picture that came with the frame’ for so long
      besides when there is a new photo every year it is hard to believe they got the same models again

      on another note – i certainly do believe that my wife sara is magical
      however the LA unified school district did give her a pink slip along with 8000ish other new teachers

      she has however been substituting for sick, lazy, incompetent, or pregnant teachers who do not fear for their jobs
      go team

      • Irene Zion says:

        Lonny!

        You KNEW?
        I was so sure I was pulling the wool over your eyes!
        I was only gone for half the time, too. I couldn’t very well leave the other family hanging, eh?
        Damn.
        I really thought you’d all believed the pictures were the models and I just liked the frame.
        oh well.
        You might all want to meet each other now.
        I’ll have to break it to them first.
        They don’t know about you all.
        They didn’t realize you weren’t models, being so beautiful and all.

        Don’t be knocking sick, lazy, incompetent or pregnant teachers! Sara has work because of them!

    • Irene Zion says:

      Tim!

      How did you know about Julio?

    • Sara says:

      I know! Think how understanding Dad has been through the years with all the illegitimate children he helped raise. Mom had serious “baby-daddy” issues. She was always running around with her Latin lovers and Dad was so freaking accepting. I’ll never understand that. So yeah, poor Julio. And Ricardo II. (I mean, Dad didn’t even say anything when Mom made a “junior” for someone else!) And Luisa. And George… It goes on and on. But really, poor Dad, who silently, stolidly, stood by his strumpet.

      • Irene Zion says:

        Now, Now, Sara.
        Don’t knock Latin lovers if you haven’t experienced any.
        (Whoo! I just got the chills there.)
        There are two sides to every story.
        You do remember that one of us was always with you, right?
        Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you this.
        I truly am.
        It appears that only you and Tim and Lonny have caught on after all these years,
        so, do me a favor and keep what I’m going to tell you under wraps.
        Dad, (I KNOW you think he’s long-suffering and perfect,) had TWO other families you didn’t know about.
        These mommies were heavy on the alluring and sexy side but light on the concept of child-care.
        I raised those children too!
        (Boy, was that a big house and a juggling job you can’t believe.)
        They are wonderful kids, mine and his, and they are the ones who come on Christmas.
        They still don’t know about you guys, though.
        It’s lucky we have them, too, otherwise our Christmases would be barren.
        They are the light of our lives on their visits.
        It might upset them that you are the “official” kids,
        so, please, keep all this under your hat.

        “Dad, who silently, stolidly, stood by his strumpet,” indeed!
        That could actually hurt my feelings.
        I was no strumpet.
        I was ultra-mega-responsible.
        (What’s in the water today with all the pointed alliteration?)

  10. Mel says:

    I’m glad to hear that the dog pees and wags his tail at everyone he/she meets. 30 years ago, that was Victor!

  11. Erika Rae says:

    I adore your family. I feel so honored to have been virtually adopted by you about a year ago. TNB without the Zions would be something altogether different. I shudder at the thought.

    • Irene Zion says:

      I am so sorry, Erika Rae,

      I totally should have included you.
      You are just like my own flesh and blood.
      (Oh the guilt, the guilt!!!)

      • So Irene, it goes without saying that we ALL want you to adopt us. You can adopt my 3 kids, too, and I’ll be their sibling. Then I don’t have to boss them around anymore and can just laugh when they torment you.

        I feel so happy to have had a whole slew of Zions among the small batch of TNB-related folks I’ve actually met in person! And my fingers and toes are crossed for Lenore to come to Chicago so that we become the Zion hub of the universe. Would that make us Hyannisport?

        You guys are all so damn adorable! (Though I suggest any new-to-TNB folks go take a look at Lenore’s boobs in Duke’s most recent post for a different photographic take of the Zions . . .)

        • Irene Zion says:

          Oh my. I forgot that I adopted you and your kids too.
          My memory is not good since I have so many children everywhere.
          You all make the Zions a much prettier bunch, plus you add such talent!

          (Thank you for not linking the picture of Lenore’s bosom and her undergarment.)

        • Oh, I only didn’t link it because I’m such a technophobe, not because I was being considerate =)

        • Irene Zion says:

          Well, Gina,
          Thank heavens for technical butterfingers!

      • Erika Rae says:

        You are too funny and too kind. We all have Zion envy.

        So what’s for dinner tonight?

        • Irene Zion says:

          Shabu-shabu.

          It’s really fun to eat with guests.

          I have to use separate chopsticks to cook my pieces, though, and eat with different ones.
          I don’t want to be responsible for getting anyone sick.

          I wash my hands a lot and carry around that clear gel stuff.

  12. Phat B says:

    Hooray for powerful antacids!

    • Irene Zion says:

      Lordy yes, Phat B!

      These young ones don’t know there will come a time when they need medicine to eat their beloved garlic, anchovy and olive oil pasta!
      Better to let them think they will be passed by with this problem.

  13. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh, I love that photo – and yet, it is tinged with sadness due to the untimely deaths of the koi.

    Come on, fish. It’s never the answer.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Simon,

      It has just been so sad for the koi this year.
      One after another keep leaping joyfully out of the water and landing on the ground.
      I think their last thoughts are: “Why don’t my fins work well enough to pull me back into the water?”
      So sad.

      But hey!
      The dogs!
      Are they not the best ever?

  14. George says:

    You said,”Tim is allergic to cats and he can’t have a dog in his apartment, so I’m pretty sure the Mac is his only pet now.” Well, he can get a Sony Robot Dog. Then, his dog can play with Brooklyn, who has a staggering amount of titanium connecting parts of her body together. This is a win-win situation.

  15. Hi Irene:

    It was nice to get the lowdown on your entire family. But as I was reading I couldn’t help but thinking, “Is she ever gonna get to the dogs?”

    And you did!

    Mind you, I love all you Zions. But we sure can’t forget those Zion dogs.

    Ah, dem dawgs, dem dawgs.

  16. Lisa in the Grove says:

    You are the wittiest person I know east of the Mississip.

  17. Richard Cox says:

    Irene. Wonderful post. And may I please ask, without sounding like the most uninformed person on Earth, what a koi suicide is? I know what Koi are and I know what a Koi pond is, but I’m not clear on how or why they would attempt to off themselves?

  18. Irene Zion says:

    Richard,

    It is just the saddest thing.
    When it rains hard, the koi get all happy and jubilant.
    They swim around fast and do these dolphin jumps!
    Sometimes they misjudge their jump, kind of like Greg Louganis.
    They leap right out of the water and onto the land.
    If we are not home, or somehow unaware that it’s raining, they just can’t get themselves back in.

    Sometimes they get jubilant for other fishy reasons that we don’t know about.
    Then we don’t even have a chance of saving them.
    It’s really sad, eh?

    • Richard Cox says:

      Oh, I see. Unintentional suicide. Particularly sad that they die when they are jubilant. 🙁

      At work there is Koi pond in the courtyard, which is shallow at one end and deeper in the other. Maybe four feet. There is also a little waterfall that keeps the water moving around a bit. But when it was really cold in January, the pond froze over, and finally the waterfall even froze. I could tell the ice was getting thicker and thicker and I wondered how the Koi were doing under there. At the time I didn’t know how deep the deep end was, and I was afraid they would run out of oxygen and food. I would say ice covered the pond for almost two weeks. Every day as it melted I would check on them and finally it melted enough I could see in the water. They were huddled at the bottom and not moving very much, but they all survived. I was so relieved.

      I don’t think those Koi will be doing dolphin jumps anytime soon, though.

      • Irene Zion says:

        Richard,

        The unexpected cold down here in Miami Beach killed all the remaining fish in our outside pond. It was heartbreaking. We had Koi, Ciclids, Placostomus and some random other fish. Even the Placostomus died and they’d been with us for ten years and were enormous. I didn’t think anything could kill them. But I was wrong, the cold did them in.

        We lost many fish in the Atrium pond also, although most of the inside Koi survived.

        The koi are jumping again, so I guess they are feeling jubilant again. Every time we hear a splash, I run to look now. The Koi did better with the cold than some of the others. But then again, they are the jumpers….

        • Richard Cox says:

          I’m so sorry about your fish! That is heartbreaking. How cold did it get?

          Do you have any explanation for our Koi? The water under the ice had to be 33 degrees. Limited oxygen, no food. Do they hibernate??

        • Irene Zion says:

          Okay, this is the story.
          Koi are NOT tropical fish. They live in Japan in pretty cold places and they can take it.
          Ciclids and Placostomus are tropical. It got down to almost freezing here and they just couldn’t survive.

          The reason the outside fish didn’t survive is that there were two incidents.
          First, someone working in the yard left the city chlorinated water running and forgot it. You can add a bit of city water to the pond, but if it runs all day, which it did, the chlorine kills most of them. That’s how we lost the outside Koi. The chlorine over-dose, not the cold.
          Then, when the unusual cold hit, that’s when the rest of the remaining outside fish, which were all tropical, swam their last swim.

          Inside in the atrium, the only fish to survive were the Koi. They can’t survive being over jubilant, though. They just can’t get back into the water, if they miss. They jump all the time, but sometimes, they just miss.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I see. That makes more sense about your Koi. I had no idea about city water being that way. You can tell I don’t have any fish.

        • Irene Zion says:

          When we lived in the Bronx and only had two kids, we had a fish tank. We did everything we could think of to keep them clean and happy and fed correctly, but they kept randomly floating belly-up. That’s why we think a fish tank is a good way to introduce the concept of death to kids. They’re not THAT attached to them, not as they would be to a dog or cat, and yet they get the idea.
          I would like to point out that the people living at this particular house already have the concept of death down pat. We no longer need lessons in death. (If anyone powerful is listening.)

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Even though it wasn’t about your own household, the bit about fish tanks teaching children about death was right on. (Well, the whole piece was right on, too…).

        • Irene Zion says:

          Actually, Don,

          My kids learned about death from a fish tank also.
          This may be a universal, if unintended, thing.

  19. Mama Z,

    I love the pic. I never would have suspected Victor altruistic activity. Is he a double agent? And you with the poorly kept-secret family… I think you two are giving Mr. & Mrs. Smith a run for their money.

    I Have the pictures of Kimchee and Brooklyn hanging in my office above my desk. I love them and I look at them everyday.

    I’m so glad you’re here on these pages.

    XO

    • Irene Zion says:

      Megan,

      That is just slander on family #1’s part.
      Family #2 has been treated just as fairly.
      It’s only that they may be two dimensional, which is hard to mix with the three dimensional family, you know?
      There have to be boundaries!

      (Aww. That is just so sweet. You are officially adopted too, like it or not.)

    • Irene Zion says:

      Now, Megan,

      You got me all discombobulated!
      I forgot to address your astonishment about Victor.
      NO ONE knows him well enough.
      He’s more than Double.
      Much more.
      Surprises even me, after nigh onto a hundred years!

  20. Becky says:

    Yeah, okay, Irene, this is all very convincing, but I still don’t believe that you, or Lenore, or Victor, for that matter, is real.

    That there could be a whole family full of your collective brand of hilarity, good looks, apparent good will and shocking social prowess is utterly beyond my otherwise formidable (if I do say so myself) capacity for understanding.

    In my meta-narrative, I am filing the Zion family under “shit that has GOT to be bogus in order for my life to make sense.” You will live alongside UFOs and Urban Legends. Because that’s how the alphabet goes.

  21. What a great, fortunate hazing for the newbies!

    • Irene Zion says:

      Hey there, Matthew Gavin!

      Glad you came to visit.
      I wish you’d write me a poem, though,
      one day.
      I do.

      • I love a challenge. Give me a few days 🙂

        • Irene Zion says:

          Oh now, Matthew Gavin,

          You just take your time there.
          I will be both surprised and honored to have a poem of yours
          here
          on my site!

          (Louisa is a lucky woman, married to a man who forms the words you do out of the beautiful things you can see. It’s as though you have a special pair of glasses that no one else has.)

        • Irene,

          My vision is 20/-1080. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five. Thick ones. Contacts since age 9. I used to walk around my parents house in the dark, practicing blindness…

        • Irene Zion says:

          How lucky to be born in a time with corrective lenses!

          The glasses I meant are the kind that allow you to see things that others do not.

  22. Irene Zion says:

    Well, Becky,

    It’s funny you should say that.
    Actually we are “shit that has to be bogus,” know why?
    Cause Brad made us all up out of whole cloth.
    None of us were real, at least in the beginning.
    He did such a convincing job creating the characters, though,
    that each one has taken on a life of its own.
    And together
    we’re a family.
    Sometimes we’re just on paper, but sometimes we get out for a good frolicking.
    We’re out for one tonight,
    but, alas,
    we only have managed a few hours a day of freedom from Brad.
    He has such a domineering way, you know?
    We’re getting stronger and stronger, albeit slowly.
    We’ll escape from his pen one day
    and he won’t even know where to look for us!

  23. J.M. Blaine says:

    THE ZIONS ARE THE KENNEDYS OF TNB.

    Rich.

  24. Marni Grossman says:

    “We are thankful for the discovery of powerful antacid medicines, so that we can continue to enjoy foods that would otherwise eat right through our stomach linings. ”

    Oh, Irene. You’re the best. I’ve said this often because I mean it. Fervently. I love my family desperately, of course, but I would still like to be adopted by yours.

    Inspired by your example, I attempted to volunteer. First I called Meals on Wheels. Supposedly they needed drivers. They didn’t need them badly enough to call me back though. Then I wrote a very enthusiastic e-mail to the volunteer coordinators at AI DuPont Children’s Hospital. I wanted to join their program reading aloud to children. I used to do Read Aloud Delaware and so I figured I’d be a shoe-in. Apparently, they have more than enough volunteers already.

    Is this bizarre or what? People are actually refusing my help when I offer it gratis.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Marni,

      I think I already adopted you too. I really should have kept a list. You’ll all be at the house picking out the things you like best when I shake off this mortal coil.

      Seriously, they NEVER have enough people at old-folks homes. It’s a different sort of depressing because you can see, first your older loved ones, then yourself in their position. It’s REALLY hard to do.
      Kimchee could do it because she doesn’t have the radar Brooklyn does. Brooklyn walks in and immediately gets sad and hangs her head. She does great around kids though. She works with sexually abused children. She can take that. Perhaps she reads my vibrations and my fears of ending up in a line of wheelchairs in front of a flat screen TV playing shows in a language I don’t know. And the thing is, you get attached to some of them and then they up and die on you. Brooklyn knows when one of her favorites isn’t downstairs and pulls me to the elevator to go to their rooms. She just walks in and climbs into bed with them and lies down. I couldn’t do it without her. It’s hard on both of us, but if it isn’t hard, I don’t think it counts.

      Whoa. Way to bring down the humor level, eh?

      • Marni Grossman says:

        Nursing homes are incredibly depressing. We’re in NJ three times a week visiting my grandmother. I said to my Mom, “it doesn’t matter how nice a place it is, it’s still a nursing home.” Which is to say that there are still people wandering around shoeless and hopeless and calling for help.

        I can understand why Brooklyn doesn’t want to do it.

        • Irene Zion says:

          The smell, Marni.
          I can’t get the smell out of my head for hours afterwards.
          Oh, that smell.
          I don’t want to be there
          making
          that smell
          someday.

        • Irene Zion says:

          When my mom was in one,
          I would spend the day with her after the kids left for school
          Go home for the kids
          and then come back to mom after dinner
          she would tell people I never came to visit.

          The thing is.
          She believed that I didn’t come, even though I was there every day.
          I’m saving pills.
          Not going to get to that point
          not ever.

        • Jude says:

          You’re a good woman Irene… and a brave one. Going into ‘old peoples’ homes is not usually at the top of the list for most people. It can be the most saddest and pitiful place that you can visit. All those once vibrant people tucked away from society’s eyes so we don’t have to confront what may eventually happen to us.

          Many years ago, I regularly visited my aunt who was suffering from Alzheimers. It broke my heart every time I went there.

          There are not enough people like you who are willing to ease the suffering of old people. And if you share with them your wonderful humour, they must surely love it every time you visit.

          Bravo my darling!

        • Irene Zion says:

          Oh Jude,

          I have one lady who has a short term memory deficit. Every time she asks me how old my dog is and that she had boxers and she loves dogs. I tell her how old she is and ask about her boxers.
          I’m a totally new person each time she sees me. The dog is new each time. Then she asks me how old my dog is. Then I tell her. Then she asks me again. She appears to be perfectly normal on the outside, but her brain is just not keeping up. She’s healthy and will probably live forever too. I have so many stories. So many.

  25. Irene– you may or may not know– that large families hold a certain appeal for me. I suppose that is a tiny part of the reason why I wrote a book about one. Although I might disagree with all the Kennedy references– doesn’t sound like it gets any better than being an “original Zion” dogs and koi included.

  26. mary shideler says:

    ever thought of writing children’s stories?

    • Irene Zion says:

      I’d have to change hats, Mary, that’s for sure.
      Don’t want to be scaring the bejezus out of little kids.

      I never thought of it.
      Thanks for the idea!

  27. mary shideler says:

    why are you sick? i mean the physical kind…………..

  28. Tawni says:

    Swimming Shiva made me giggle. That seems like it would make a good book title or something, doesn’t it?

    Thank you for this entertaining introduction to your family. You are all absolutely beautiful people, including those sweet puppies. 🙂

  29. Irene Zion says:

    HA!
    Yeah, let’s not talk about my mental problems, eh?

    I really thought I was immune to viruses. I haven’t been sick in ages and ages, well, except the kind of sick you get when you are a totally clumsy buffoon and trip and break your ribs kind of sick.
    Everyone always talks about getting sick from being on airplanes, but I never do, except this time. The coughing is not doing my ribs any favor and my head probably weighs 5 pounds more from all the mucus taking up space in there.
    (Poor pitiful me!)

  30. Irene Zion says:

    Thanks, Tawni,

    The puppies are the big draw!
    By the bye,
    I’m afraid that I covet your hat.
    I really do.
    It’s fabulous!

  31. Ben Loory says:

    it’s good to be right! give em hell, iz.

    sorry about the chicken neck.

  32. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Aw man! I was hoping this might have inspired an epic Lenore/Irene Flyting. It’s been too long.

    Back to the regularly scheduled comment, then. It’s courtesy Bob Marley.

    I’m on the rock, (running and you running)
    I take a stock, (running like a fugitive)
    I had to run like a fugitive just to save the life I live
    I’m gonna be Iron like a Lion in Zion (trumpet flourish)
    I’m gonna be Iron like a Lion in Zion
    Iron Lion Zion, Iron Lion Zion, Iron Lion Zion
    Iron like a Lion in Zion, Iron like a Lion in Zion
    Iron like a Lion in Zion

    OK. Now once more, in your best Koi voice…

    • Irene Zion says:

      Oh Hi Uche!

      Did you see you were voted the smartest person in the world on Greg’s blog? It’s not so easy to find since he has two thousand comments.

      Down here in Miami Beach, we have learned to treat our name with respect. We meet people who, when they find out our name, pause and tell us we are blessed. It’s true. We are blessed. There are some really smart people down here.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Well, of course. It’s a marvelous name. Bob Marley’s usage ties down to the Rastafarian belief based on their claim to descent from Solomon and Sheba, eventually through Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (The titular “Lion” to whom Marley was making allusion), who made the same claim. In their mythology the poverty and oppression of Jamaica’s colonial past and variegated present is represented by the Babylon, famous for the episodes of Israelite captivity (cue another obvious musical reference from Psalm 137). To Dreads, Zion represents the opposite of Babylon. It represents their spiritual homeland, which is represented among Dreads as a virtual rather than a physical location (i.e. a better Jamaica), even though the mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews (again from the supposed Solomon/Sheba liaison) to Israel around 1990 gives the entire story a bit of complexity in terms of a Zion bound unfortunately to actual land.

        So Zion is indeed a blessed place and state. I do disagree with the vilification of Babylon, and in particular I have the deepest respect for their worship of the whale-goddess of poetry Rahab (turned disrespectfully into a whore by the Biblical authors) and Pazuzu, who represents the true and defining mischief of life. That does not mean that I do not also admire aspirations towards Zion, towards peace and betterment, and in particular to the fellowship of the eponymous clan that brings such aspiration home to their TNB neighbors.

        So sorry if I didn’t explain it carefully enough the first time. I hope it’s unmistakable now that my allusion to the song was entirely respectful.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Uche,

          Thank you so much!
          I knew it was an important word, but I didn’t understand the whole history.
          Victor and the kids will be happy to learn this also.

          (There must be SOMETHING you don’t already know….)

  33. ksw says:

    actually the second circle of zion is pretty good also!(AS opposed to the original zion) You could absolutely write children’s books,, in fact I have heard oral versions…Thought you were on to a cure for that kicking problem love ya caw

    • Irene Zion says:

      csw,

      You are one of the few people who have met all the “families” because we trust you.
      I’m working on the kicking problem, but people keep kicking me off the page, and it’s hard to turn the other cheek.

      Yeah. Children’s books. Have to think about that.

  34. The fish suicides still puzzle me… I had a suicidal hamster once, but I just never pictured fish that way.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Wait!

      David, what exactly does a hamster have to do to be considered suicidal? We’ve had all manner of animals, but never a hamster.
      (Lenore had an attack hamster once when she was in school in Miami, or was it that little prickly little hedgehog? I think it was the hedgehog. Nasty little thing.)

      • I had two hamsters when I was in university. One of them was suidical. He would climb to the top of anything high, and throw himself off. Strange, I caught him almost every time. Whenever I didn’t catch him he just found out that hamsters are very bouncy animals, and that falls don’t do much to them.

        That hamster was an idiot… but he figured out how to use a CD player. The problem was, he’d always play CDs that sucked. I have no idea how he did it, but he did.

        Also, I used to have two hamsters in Korea, but my cats ate them. Or rather, one of my cats probably ate them. The other is too sweet natured to do that sort of thing. Also, the hamsters used to punch one of the cats through the bars of the cage, and she was scared of them.

        Anyway, this is a round-about want of saying “Don’t change the trend and buy a hamster… They’re really shitty pets.”

        • Irene Zion says:

          David,

          The fact that hamsters bounce is a very, very weird thing to know. Bouncing hamsters.
          Oh my, that is strange.

          Hamsters that can turn on bad music on the CD player seem even more rare. Did it ever occur to you to get rid of the bad CDs? Or was the hamster slipping out and lifting CDs from some store?

          Cats gotta eat. It’s totally natural for them to go after prey animals like that. Can’t blame the cat.
          I would refrain from kissing him for a good long while though. Hamster breath can’t be nice.

          Never had one, never will. Worry not.

  35. LitPark says:

    Loved reading this. What a great and funny family. And this cracked me up: “We, as a family, look extremely good on paper.”

  36. Irene Zion says:

    Well, LitPark,

    The truth is the truth. We collect degrees in this family. We don’t necessarily work.

  37. Marcia, still in Illinois says:

    Irene, I figured out a solution for the suicidal koi in the atrium pond– a net around the sides. Or better yet– an invisible electric fence and give them little collars. Well, maybe that wouldn’t work in water. . .

  38. Irene Zion says:

    Marcia,

    We’ve really thought of everything. The atrium is thickly planted around the pond. there really isn’t anywhere to put up a fence of some sort.
    Jubilance has its price in the world of Koi!

  39. Slade Ham says:

    I don’t have a lot to add to the conversation, but I felt I should let you know that I had read this. I realize how little I know about everyone. I feel like quite the new kid on the block (though I’ve been here a while I think). Greg’s piece helped, as does this.

    It’s wonderful to get more insight into the people behind little gravatars.

  40. Irene Zion says:

    Hello there, Slade!

    Good to hear from you. I really like reading your work.
    You’re not so new as many of the newbies, I don’t think we count you as new.
    You’re sort of mid-range.

  41. Amy says:

    I feel like I know your family personally already, even though I have only met you and Victor. Oh and the doggies of course! Great insite into your world.

  42. kristen says:

    Hee. Though I’m not super-new to TNB, I still appreciated this helpful and hilarious primer. Thanks, Irene.

  43. Irene Zion says:

    Aw, Kristen,

    You’re not one of the newbies at all!

    Thanks so much for reading, sweetie!

  44. Ducky Wilson says:

    Irene – always a riot to read your work. And if you want a way to utilize your chicken neck, might I suggest taking up hip-hop dance?

  45. Irene Zion says:

    Hey, mellow Ducky,

    If I took up hip-hop dancing, I would trip again and break more bones.
    You forget, I am the most clumsy person on the planet.

    You need a gravatar!

    Ducky shouldn’t be an empty square. Just not right!

  46. Aaron Dietz says:

    Those fish suicide stories always get me. And since I feel like I’ve brought up my own a bunch of times (my own fish suicides, not my own suicides, of course), I’ll skip any further elaboration.

    Side-step: Loved getting a version of this in the mail, but you know that.

    Side-step 2: Why have I already said everything I want to say?

  47. Irene Zion says:

    Aaron,

    I am known to be on the demented side, but excuse me for not remembering that you had fish suicided too. Could you elaborate, since I have a large following of the demented? Did this happen when you were a kid? Is it happening now? I honestly don’t remember anyone mentioning that this weird thing happened to their fish also.
    You have my sympathies, though. Were they religious? Did you cover the mirrors for them?

    Also, where have you been? You haven’t written in ages and ages. I see that you have at long last written a piece, which I will get to reading as quick as a bunny. I have seriously missed you! I hope you were just on vacation or something and everything is fine.

  48. Irene Zion says:

    Aaron, that would be “suicides,” not “suicided.”
    Have you noticed that once your story is off the front page, they take your editing privileges away?
    This is a problem for me, since I am the klutz queen of typing.
    Seriously, you can’t edit in the comments and you can’t even edit at the top for the whole story.
    Why do you think that is?

  49. Lorna says:

    I love a writer than paints such a beautiful picture with their words. Oh and the humor. Love it. Yes, everyone should have at least one dog…. Well, except my MIL. But everyone else, yes.

  50. Irene Zion says:

    Isn’t it true, though, Lorna?
    A dog or two changes a person’s life.
    There’s always love, regardless of any untoward situation.
    (I don’t know what MIL means, should I? Yeah, I probably should. There are so many things I should know, but I don’t. I’m embarrassed.)

    Thank you for the kind words, Lorna, and I appreciate your reading my stuff cause no one in my family listens to me.

  51. Duff says:

    Gee thanks, I can see that I’m going to lose a whole days work reading everything on here…
    I just laughed out loud at my desk while a client was perusing the merchandise. Hopefully these unexplained bursts of laughter will enhance my quirky image.

  52. Irene Zion says:

    Hey Duff!

    Good to have you visiting!

    I wouldn’t buy art from someone who didn’t have a good sense of humor, and I’m pretty typical, I think.
    When you read the sad ones, it also helps, because people like a man who can show deep emotion by sobbing while trying to sell paintings. It will only enhance your image as artistic and, totally trustworthy. Can’t beat that for salesmanship!

  53. […] often writes about her family, the Zions, who are more interesting than your family, because they have funnier text exchanges.  This group […]

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