Archive for the 'Let’s Do This Thing!' Category

30
Aug
20

so tell me, did you, did you do, did you do all you could?

Nothing changes because we want it to, but only when we act.

But when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, and you’re not a scientist, what actions are available to you? I can wear my mask and avoid gatherings (oh how I miss people!) and take my temperature and check my pulse oxygen and take my D3 and my kelp supplements and paint my house and water my tomatoes. But those all just seem like waiting “things,” not doing “things.”

And what can I possibly add to everything that’s been said already? We have more time to notice things, we spend less money on gas and restaurants, less time driving around to this place or that. I actually was thinking it might be a good time to get and train a puppy for when our older dog is gone to keep our younger dog company, but how do you socialize a puppy when you can’t get within 6 feet of anyone? And while I’m grateful I don’t have young or school age children at home that I have to try to educate, entertain, and appease, what happens to all of those young and school age children out there who are missing out on these important socializations of school and play dates and learning how to share a sandbox or take turns on a swing at the playground?

Only Daughter lost almost half of her freshman year in college and will lose at least half of her sophomore year (still “going,” but it’s all remote/online) – the best time of your life in some really important ways. Every new class filled with new people to meet from a myriad of cultures and backgrounds, friendships to be made over textbooks and index cards and endless cups of coffee in the cafeteria. If I drive onto campus for something, it’s like a dystopian novel – abandoned, eerie.

I’ve heard it said that it’s like we’re living through the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, the race riots of the 1960s, and the Depression simultaneously. It’s not wrong. I would add the landscapes of Divergent, the disconnect between government and the people in The Hunger Games,and I Am Legend, without the zombies.

may-you-live-in-interesting-times

And while I know how lucky I am – I had MORE work this summer because of Covid, Husband’s job is secure unless one of the largest universities in our state closes down (not an impossibility I guess given the CANCELLATION OF FALL FOOTBALL [don’t get me started on the ludicrous dependence of a university budget on football ticket sales]), we have enough tomatoes in our garden to feed an army for at least a month, our children so far are healthy and housed and fed – I can’t help but instinctively pair that with grief for all the people who aren’t so lucky.

Now I recognize that a sign of mental health and stability is the ability to hold two conflicting ideas in your head at the same time. And I find myself consistently split 50/50 between gratitude and grief.

Why does this have to be so horrible? Why are so many people so angry? Why can’t we come together and recognize that, for what will hopefully be the only time in our history or future, we are all

In. this. together.

The divisiveness with which we in the U.S. are facing this is no surprise, really, given the baby man/menace who is in office and all of the spineless twits who care more about their hold on power than their duty to the Constitution and people they swore to protect. (And if you ask me, I’ll tell you what I really think.) But are we really so hopeless as a species that we need one leader to tell us what to do? (I’m asking this rhetorically, since the answer is Obviously Yes.)

We used to learn about our responsibilities as members of a society; I remember even in my children’s school days posters in hallways about civility and decency and sympathy and gratitude. And I’m old, but not THAT old, so it wasn’t THAT long ago. What’s happened to that? The end of everyone basically watching and reading the same news sources

the internet ruined everything

The availability of niche information markets that allows us to seek out and believe only whatever fringe theories–and I facetiously include mine in that distinction, as many others might, since I get my news from such liberal “dishrags” as the New York Times and the Washington Post–we are predisposed to believe? But it seems like so much more than that; willful ignorance, so precious to so many, so cultivated.

fox news

We’ve all been taught not to talk about money, religion, or politics. Is that maybe not such a good idea? I mean, we are told it’s vulgar to talk about money, which just allows our colleagues to be paid less, or more, for equal work; we don’t talk about religion because it’s “sacred” somehow (pun 100% intended), but the result of that is just that we don’t understand other’s beliefs or lack thereof, and just become even more firmly entrenched in whatever brainwashing we were subject to as children.

And politics. Ah, politics. I don’t bring it up right now because if I have a friend or family member who might still, for some completely incomprehensible reason, support our “President” Chump, I will lose all love and respect for them, so it’s better off if I just stick my fingers in my ears and sing really loudly.

wise-monkey-hear-no-evil

But what about in normal times? (Since these are decidedly not normal) Why not then? Because I do actually believe that most of us want the same things: healthy food, air, water; good schools; un-potholed roads; access to health care. Is it really so impossible to talk about our different theories about how we might have those things? And how we might make sure that everyone else does as well?

And while we’re on the topic of “everyone else,” It never ceases to amaze me that there are people out in the world, people who are clean and well dressed and even polite in grocery store lines, who aren’t wearing a mask. What’s so difficult about this? We all wear shoes, and if you have AIDS and don’t tell your sexual partners and give it to them I’m pretty sure you can be charged with attempted manslaughter, or at least reckless endangerment. Hopefully you stop at stop signs and drive on your side of the road and don’t drink and drive – all things that could be argued inconvenience you in one way or the other, but are good for society, and we all recognize that, so we comply, or are ticketed or even arrested. You don’t go out with the flu or typhoid and cough on people; at least I hope you don’t. (Although I’ve had my share of parents bringing their sick children to my house for their piano lessons; one of the reasons I’m barely teaching anymore.) Wearing a mask means you recognize that you MIGHT be sick and that it would actually be infringing on everyone else’s rights to expose them, even unwittingly. Seems like a no-brainer to me. And if it’s the law, and a local sheriff declares he won’t enforce it, how does he or she still have a job? Are we that much cowards? (And while I’m speaking of cowards, how is it possible that it’s legal to carry a semi-automatic weapon into a state capitol? That just makes no sense.)

People argue that they “can’t breathe” while wearing a mask. I imagine that a mask is a lot less uncomfortable than a ventilator. I actually had someone on facebook arguing with me that it was his right to do whatever he wanted, and if he got sick, it was the medical worker’s jobs to take care of him. Zero concern about their health, their families; It. Was. Their. Job. People. Die. Every. Day. End of story. Such a lack of empathy is pathological, and not uncommon.

Alas.

People argue that at first they were told they didn’t need to wear one, and now that they do. So therefore no one knows what they’re talking about, so they won’t. That means they’re listening to the first thing, and not the second, which is ridiculous in and of itself. And this is how science works. We learn new things, and change our behaviors accordingly. People also used to think you got malaria from eating watermelons, that lightning meant that god was angry. Doctors also didn’t wash their hands before performing surgery, and when some doctors started arguing for it they were ignored, belittled, challenged.

The long-term consequences of this virus for many are certainly an argument for persistent care and consideration. Young, healthy athletes are debilitated with lung damage or myocarditis; people on ventilators for a long time suffer from all kinds of long-term physical effects of the ventilator and the drug-induced paralysis needed to have them on it. Is this really worth risking? For yourself? Your loved ones? ANYBODY ELSE ANYWHERE YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER? If you have it and don’t know it, and someone behind you in line at the hardware store contracts it, are you going to pay their medical bills? Support their families if they die? Because if you’re not, and you’re not wearing a mask, How Dare You?

And while we’re talking about healthcare (I was, really), let’s talk about healthcare. Here’s an argument I wish someone would make: what would it save employers if we had universal healthcare? From tens of thousands to millions of dollars a year, amiright? This would free up money for better salaries, to hire more people and give them full time work. This in and of itself would seem ro make up whatever extra we would have to pay in taxes to have it. And wouldn’t it be a nice thing to know that if you or a loved one needed long-term care during a long illness, or at the end of their lives, that you wouldn’t have to choose between not providing it and bankruptcy? I realize that people have a real aversion to “give” anything away

bootstraps

part of the same argument against free college tuition [“I had to pay for it, so do you”] or food stamps, but if it’s universal, and everyone’s helping pay for it, according to their own resources, it’s not actually a giveaway. Just think how much less of your income you’d have to save for your child’s education, along with the insurance costs? It seems to me like a win-win.

Now I recognize the benefits of capitalism, and that the motivation for money often drives ingenuity and many of the things for which we are grateful. Nobody’s saying we shouldn’t make sure that this ingenuity isn’t to be rewarded. But do CEOs of health insurance companies fall into that category? Do they really need to be paid millions and millions of dollars? “Insurance” as a profit-making enterprise is, in fact, an endeavor rife with inherent conflict of interest. The point is we pay into a pool so that when people need it it’s there. If part of that pool is going towards crazy salaries and big fancy buildings THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE POOLING IT FOR.

And while we’re here, let’s talk about racism. In this case I’m probably not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but I’ll say it anyway. Slavery aside, which is obviously a horrible injustice, alongside Russian serfdom, sexual trafficking and exploitation, what we as a nation did to the American Indian and what the Canadian government did to their First Nations people , the continued misogyny to varying degrees in almost every culture against women, the confiscation of passports of immigrant workers in Saudi Arabia, all belong to the same category. (The fact that black slaves were considered 3/5 of a person for census purposes, and then black MEN were granted the right to vote* long before WOMEN were [so what does that make us, 2/5? 1/5?] never ceases to get my goat, so to speak, but I digress. Again.) The treatment of people, humans, as anything less than human, is abhorrent, should be recognized as such, and every step necessary to alleviate it should be taken at once and in perpetuity.

People argue that crimes are committed by a higher percentage of blacks than whites, so therefore things like racial profiling and discrimination in sentencing and the inherent fear that drives much of police brutality is warranted. But discrimination and brutality are never warranted, never okay, and isn’t racial profiling just a form of discrimination?

Post 9/11 I was traveling with First Husband and our Three Children and we were flagged to have all of our luggage inspected, by hand, at every gate in the airport. While I thought it was ludicrous that a family a five would be considered viable candidates to possibly perpetrate terrorism on airplanes, I also recognized that I couldn’t argue that only people who looked Arabic were. And if we want to get to the root of the problem, and talk about what it would COST to alleviate racism – social support for drug addicts and single mothers, truly equal schools, proper training for police officers – wouldn’t all of this cost less than what it costs to imprison tens of thousands of people a year? I guess the problem is at this point we would have to pay for both. But what about releasing people who were non-violent? Imprisoned for selling marijuana, since it’s mostly legal now anyway? And spending the money that would cost to imprison them on job training and education instead?

bleeding heart

So many of these problems predate Chump. And I can’t really be angry at him – he’s one man, and only ever been exactly who he is. There have been no surprises here; he has behaved exactly as any thinking person would have expected him to. What really concerns me is all the people who voted for him, and continue to think he’s doing a great job so will vote for him again. What is he providing that might be found comforting? Reassurance that your own racism and misogyny are okay? That greed is good? That we should all just take what we can get and the devil can take the rest?

I guess I could take some comfort in the fact that only 19% of eligible voters voted for him in the last election. How many this time? As far as I’m concerned, 5 votes is too many, although I imagine he and his equally narcissistic spawn

trump and his spawn

could be counted on for at least that many. I would be very curious as to who Melania voted for.

I felt sorry for her at the inauguration,

I don’t any more. I think she’s not any better than the rest of them

I really don't care

So all of these thoughts are going through my mind as I go about my business – listening to piano exams, teaching my small handful of students, writing my book, painting my house, watering my tomatoes. Grief and gratitude, gratitude and grief. My Sangha holds me together on weeks I can face two more hours on Zoom; I miss my pottery class, some new friendships that were forming there. I miss the world. I’m healthy, my recent mammogram was normal, my broken ankle has healed, I have enough to eat. So many don’t. So many things to hope for, so many to mourn. All we can do is our best.

 

Wear your mask. Be kind to your neighbors. Share your tomatoes.

And Vote.

Blue.

 

No Matter Who.

 

 

* I do wish more people took their right to vote more seriously. Not just the actual voting, which would be great, but only if they’ve also taken the time to educate themselves about the issues and the relative stances thereon. The fact that Chump LOST the popular vote (a topic for another time I guess), and won with ~ 19% of Eligible Votes, is shame on us big time.

 

03
Jan
17

Adventures

Husband, Only Daughter and I will go to Brazil for four months, leaving March 2.

I have started a new blog: https:120diasaosuldasfronteiras.wordpress.com, (120 days south of the borders), to chronicle our adventures.

I expect to continue posting here, as well, but my focus may shift a bit as I attempt to chronicle our travels, my teaching (and learning), our explorations of South American cuisine, etc. etc.

Any recommendations re: places to visit, foods to eat (or avoid), etc. would be extremely welcome!

19
Nov
16

What he said

He’s right. We as a country are trying to do something that might go against our tribal natures. And I see so much evidence of people standing together and trying to do it better. Like the adage says — if you’re going through hell, keep going. Let’s do this, together, and come out that much better on the other end.

11
Nov
16

Now what?

Many of us are horrified by the news of the racist attacks and brutality being visited now on people of color, gays, immigrants. What has the election of this man unleashed? We saw the videos of his rallies, and were appalled and frightened by the no-longer-latent racism, cruelty, hatred, that we heard coming out of the mouths of our fellow Americans. Donald Trump’s petulance, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, has given people permission to say things we have spent the last 50? 100? Years telling them they can’t say. And people who haven’t learned the lessons of civility, history — that there are, in fact, things that should never be said in civilized society, that there is no actual difference between you and any other person based on the color of their skin, that the world is actually safer when we work together (Alliances, people! Every good board game knows this, why don’t we?) — want to drag us back to some good old day where men were strong and women were good looking (and if not were dismissed as being unworthy of sexual harassment, #nowthereisagift #IhopeIama7) and knew their place and kept their mouths shut, and everybody they knew looked like everybody else. 

Hatreds and bigotries and horrible acts are being perpetrated, now, many like we haven’t seen in a long time. It is my hope that these are the death throes of a dying culture. We’ve spent the last eight years building — gay rights, protesting brutality against unarmed blacks, providing insurance for people who need it — and we can still fight against tearing it down. We must. People may feel they have permission to behave like animals, but they don’t. We can’t allow it. We must stand together, make sure our fellow Americans and the people in the world who are watching very closely right now, many with great fear and trepidation, that this does not represent all of us. We’re better than this. We must show it. And if we do, maybe we can actually make something good, and lasting, out of this debacle.

What to do if you see someone being harassed.

Part 2

#Warren2020



Shame on us


01
Mar
16

somebody save us from ourselves

Will this help?

01
Mar
15

education and equality

An interesting article about a school system (Finland’s) that seems to be much more effective than the American one.

Knock three times if this description sounds familiar:

“Instead, the public school system’s teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.”

And we decided this wasn’t working because. . .  ??? (Seemed to work pretty well for me. And I’m not THAT old.)

Probably can’t make that fly here, though, because, despite everyone’s recognition that money gives other people’s children advantages we can’t necessarily give our own, we must preserve that right, just in case someday we’re one of the people with money.

(Apologies for the circular argument.)

Alas.

 

22
Jan
15

Bill Moyers and the need for campaign finance reform.

Here.

Where do I sign?

And of course, it’s no surprise that there isn’t a SINGLE REPUBLICAN sponsor to any of these bills. That should speak volumes.

10
Nov
14

the disease of busyness

Read this.

I believe it, I agree with it.

I also feel that there is too much time spent in “pursuit” of something, and not enough time left to create. People don’t sit and stare and watch the world and think creative thoughts — what happens to our poets and playwrights, our composers and artists, when every minute to spare is spent being entertained by our phones? Parents drive their children to take more and more AP classes and to be on every academic team available and to prepare for way too many standardized tests, but don’t support their school district’s music and art programs and, as soon as the child gets “too busy,” discontinues their music lessons, even though this is probably the ONE area of the child’s life that involves personal expression, investigation, long-term discipline and artistic creativity.

I’m aware of this almost daily when I contemplate how much more financially comfortable my family could be if I were willing to work more hours and realize that I really don’t want to. That my time for yoga and reading and knitting and weaving and sitting on the couch every night with my husband watching hockey or Netflix movies or worthwhile TV series on DVDs (currently The Good Wife, although we’re almost out of discs — any recommendations?) is as or more important to my and my family’s comfort and happiness than a few hundred more dollars a month in our checking account. And then I’m SO grateful that I have that option, that I get to make that DECISION rather than being forced to work 2 or 3 minimum-wage jobs just to pay the mortgage and buy minimal groceries — a situation I know is true for many.

But many of these choices that lead to what I’m going to call Diseased Busyness ARE choices. Even Only Daughter right now has 3, 14-hour days each week because of extensive Nutcracker rehearsals. She leaves the house at 7 a.m.; is home for half an hour and then at ballet until 9 (if they let her out on time, which they rarely do), at which point she comes home and eats dinner and does her homework. She’s not getting enough sleep, she’s stressed half the time, she’s probably not eating enough, but this is just for a couple of months, so I accept it. Even though I don’t think it’s particularly good for her in a short-term sense, I believe it is in the long-term, but only because it is short term. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I fear this lack of “down” will exact a cost on all of us, on society, ultimately on our success as PEOPLE (not automatons, not worker bees, but thinking/feeling/creative/compassionate people).

I believe it so much I’m going to do something I don’t usually do, but post this on BOTH of my blogs, and link to it on my personal AND professional Facebook pages.

Let’s start a rebellion. Let’s not over schedule. Let’s not pull out our phones when we have less than 10 minutes to wait for something. Let’s try to maintain a balance for ourselves and our children of work-, hobby-, and creative/artistic pursuits. Let’s leave our houses dirty and eat dinner together. And when we ask someone how they are, ask how their heart is — not about how many awards their child has won or how many committees they are on, but really ask — How ARE you? And then take those minutes (since you’re not going on your phone anyway, remember?) to really listen to the answer.

22
Sep
14

More better feminism

Emma Watson at the UN. Well written, well said.

She’s not “just” Hermione Grainger anymore, although I was a fan of Hermione as well — smarter than the boys, and not afraid to say so.

31
Aug
14

What the 1% don’t want the rest of us to know

And it’s not just that they make a wholehelluvalot more money than we do.

It’s not too early to start our own Progressive movement.

Firstly, we all need to stop protecting the rights of the 1% just in case that clever gadget we thought of and are going to get around to getting a patent for as soon as we have time ends up becoming the Thneed That Everyone Needs and earns us a bajillion dollars that we want to make sure we can hand down to Junior, even though by then he’ll be spoiled and entitled and lazy.

Secondly, we need to realize that there are worse things than a social safety net. Actually, we need to realize that the benefits of the social safety net make society better for everyone — whether we “need” it or not (we do), it helps us.

I wish people would talk more specifically about the literal costs to us caused by our relatively low tax rates — pay to “play” (sports, drama, music, chemistry class),  constantly deteriorating roads and the resulting depreciation of our vehicles; medical costs despite having what would be considered by many to be enviable health care ($1,100+ for each of Only Daughter’s 2 CAT scans this summer; $385 for Second Son’s cavities filled — and this is WITH dental insurance), college tuition — $7,605 per year, average public university in US in 2010; $4,524 in Canada; in France you can expect to pay an average of €452 per year — yeah, that’s right, €452 (that’s around $585) for MEDICAL SCHOOL.

(I actually love it when people compare us to France, making France sound like such an awful alternative. Yeah, there are all those vacation days and maternity leaves and universal health care; I TOTALLY see what the problem is. And that’s not even taking into account the wine and cheese.)

Anyway, these two will say it way better than I do.

 

21
May
14

screaming out the window ’til my face is hoarse

Yesterday I started Robert Bly’s Sibling Society — a book I bought a long time ago and just rediscovered in a pile of dusty, unread books. He’s writing about what’s happened since the 50s to change us from a slightly paranoid while still seemingly optimistic society to one where children grow up expecting their parents to solve all of their problems for them and teachers struggle to get students to even CARE about learning.

I haven’t gotten very far, but it makes a lot of sense to me, based on what I’ve observed in the past dozen years or so of teaching-while-raising-children (a notable subgroup if ever there was one).

One of the things he addresses, albeit briefly, is our need to share, to speak, to rant (this was written, I think, before Twitter was Twitter or blogging was popular). As I recall he’s talking about how misguided this is; how, if we were striving to know ourselves rather than to feel that we were known by others, we would spend a great deal more time “talking” to ourselves in terms of self-reflection, self-improvement, self-awareness, etc. (And notable, at the risk of repeating myself, because this was written before Twitter was Twitter &c &c)

And I find myself wondering why I’m blogging.

Do I “find” myself by talking to you? Or am I (somewhat deliberately albeit subconsciously) missing the point?

I’m SO tired of and frustrated with the media’s portrayal of women; with the lack of support for equality in every respect in society and our government; in the ridiculousness that provides 9 year olds with smartphones and Only Daughter (in SEVENTH GRADE) coming home with stories about her “colleagues” talking about participating in various sexual acts that none under the age of 17 should even know the name of. Of course, we don’t know if any of them are ACTUALLY participating, or if it’s just a bunch of bravado — but shouldn’t the BRAVADO be something none under the age of 17 even think of? The government is being run by who can raise the most money, which means it’s not representing any of us without it, our roads are falling apart, schools spend too much money on unnecessary technology and fancy buildings and too little attention on whether my child is actually learning to think creatively, to problem solve.

But does my getting upset about any of these things, and ranting  writing about it, actually change anything?

Even when I decide that I’m tired of the sound of my own voice, and I go looking for other things to read, I’m just reminded about two things: how much blather there is out there (blogs with followers in the tens of thousands if not millions that are writing about how to organize your purse or the best recipe for lemon curd) and how much ridiculousness. Even Upworthy makes me feel sad/mad/angry/frustrated. I love Jessica Valenti, but she’s screaming out the window until her face is hoarse about the same things I am, but nothing changes.

I’m also becoming less and less comfortable with the “Me! Me! Pay attention to me!” nature of blogging. Maybe it’s my age, but I think maybe I need to spend more time listening, wearing muted colors, and practice speaking in a softer voice.

Maybe I should experiment with turning the blog over to you, my few but faithful readers. Introduce a topic, invite a conversation (civilized discourse only, of course). I know that might be asking for trouble. Internet/blog commenters are not known for their tactfulness or restraint. But you all aren’t the average internet readers/commenters, are you.

Hmmm.  Where should I start.

Suggestions anyone?

 

 

30
Apr
14

This needs to change. Why is it so difficult?

Just attended an active-shooter-response “training” session, required, at the college where I teach. It’s so depressing, and traumatizing, that we even have to talk about this stuff. Our K-12 schools have to have THREE lockdown drills a year. This must be fun for the children.

It’s so awful that we spend all this time and energy teaching our children, and ourselves, what to do if such a terrible thing happens; it’s even more awful that it’s more time and energy than we seem to spend trying to prevent it from happening. (And by this I don’t mean installing locks on the outside doors and having everyone go into the school through the office. I’m talking about our insistence that everyone has a right to buy a semi-automatic weapon and keep it, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, in their homes.)

The argument that if you don’t like guns don’t buy one, (this argument has actually been made to me personally by someone I’ve known since childhood), is ludicrous. I doubt the children at Sandy Hook, or Newtown, or in movie theaters or fast-food restaurants, were only affected by guns if they owned one.

Why is it, given that more people think we shouldn’t have such easy access to weaponry than think we should maintain the status quo, that we can’t change this?

A woman at my table asked whether the presenters, both law-enforcement personnel, had any statistics regarding the frequency of this in other countries. The answer was that other countries have these problems, too, in the forms of bombings and chemical attacks; that they build their schools like bunkers; that we live in a more open society and that this is the price we pay. I wanted to shout “bullshit,” but I didn’t want to make a scene.

This article points out that there are countries where fewer guns are owned but more people are killed — principally in South America and South Africa. I would have to point out the obvious – that these are relatively politically and societally unstable countries, and that we should hardly be feeling good about a favorable comparison to Johannesburg.

This article states that Americans are 20 times more likely to die from gun violence than their European counterparts, including the claim that “. . .the United States, they found, has more firearms per capita, the most permissive gun control laws and a disproportionate amount of firearm-related deaths from homicides, suicides and accidents. ‘The United States had a homicide rate 6.9 times higher than those in the other high-income countries, driven by a firearm homicide rate that was 19.5 times higher than those in the other high-income countries,’ the report says. ‘For 15 year olds to 24 year olds, the firearm homicide rate in the United States was 42.7 times higher than in the other countries.”

We as Americans think of ourselves as people for whom our children’s safety is one of our most important jobs. Something must be done. And we must stop just saying that, and doing it.

Anybody with any ideas how?

She thinks so, too.

24
Apr
14

Beware of Images

http://www.upworthy.com/this-guy-went-from-making-beer-ads-to-making-memes-to-change-how-you-think-about-beer-ads-3?c=upw1

 

Send them money on kickstarter here.

16
Jan
14

alas

Man killed in movie theater, for texting.

Some really excellent comments below the article, making my points for me.

We won’t even bother with the fact that the theater was still showing the previews.

Someone lost their life, the only one they get, in an argument over an annoyance, over something that really doesn’t matter. So yes, I guess we should mention — they were still showing the previews!

Even if they weren’t. . .

It’s like we’re still living in the dark ages.

A retired police officer, someone who apparently has lived 71 years of his life as an upstanding citizen; a “good guy with a gun,” lost his temper in a movie theater, took another man’s life, ruined several others, including what’s left of his own. At least we can hope for the latter. Someone suggested he could use the “stand our ground” defense. Against popcorn? Although it is Florida. . .

We’re temperamental, inconsistent, unenlightened people.

Maybe it’s time we all recognized that there is no such thing as a “good guy with a gun.” Certainly not a “good twelve-year old” with one either.

Why don’t these things happen in other countries? Or do they? What have they figured out that we can’t? Where can I go? Do I really want to live in a country where I’m afraid to signal with my horn if someone’s about to cut me off in traffic, or need to remind my daughter (before the movie starts) about doing her homework?

People who work and write in the guns and ammo “business” lose their jobs if they suggest that it might be time for a thorough and nuanced discussion of gun control laws. But if not now, when?

It’s time.

And maybe we need to bring some “heat” of our own — write or call your congressmen/women (oh how I wish there were more congresswomen) — not only ask for a thorough and nuanced discussion of gun control laws, but demand it. And threaten THEM with what really scares them — voting them out of office if they don’t see it through.

Here’s a good place to start.

If not now, when?

It’s time.

 

01
Jan
14

gratuitous new year’s day post, no resolutions included

I laid in bed last night, well, this morning, actually, as the “old folks” managed to stay up past midnight to (quietly; no tin whistles, no confetti) welcome in 2014. (I want to say that next year there will be banging on pots and pans, and shouting, but that sounds suspiciously like a resolution. Hmmm. . . .)  I listened to the furnace shut off the last time before the Big Cooldown we have programmed into the thermostat (59˚ overnight) and to Second Son rustling around a bit in his basement bedroom (nice alliteration) and marveled at how well I could see out the window given that it was overcast and there are no street lights in our neighborhood — radiant light from the snow, I guess.

The trees were vague, foggy pencil lines against the gray sky. The house made its other noises. Husband snored quietly beside me.

I wouldn’t say that I’m more retrospective on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day than I am most other days of the year. I often think that if I spent less time “navel gazing” and more time looking out at the world I might even be able to release some of my mind-fuck obsessions and be, if not “happier,” more content in the world.

Coincidentally, though, we were wanting to recreate our New Years Eve dinner of a couple of years back, so I found myself paging back through this blog looking for the post–unintentionally exceptionally retrospective I guess. I had thought it was just last year, but it was two years ago, so I ended up reading a lot of other things, including some poems that were actually kind of not awful (and that I don’t actually remember writing), and watching some video clips of some pretty powerful performance art, etc. etc. A not-entirely unpleasant, short walk down memory lane.

It seems that I’m not ranting (or posting, for that matter) as much as I used to, and now I’m trying to figure out why. I’m a little more tired, I guess, or possibly (finally!?!) realizing that my ranting doesn’t really change anything. I’ve gotten pretty busy, although I was pretty busy when I was posting almost every day and averaging hits in the hundreds per day, rather than the single digits as I am now. I upset some people a few months ago, and felt badly about it, so didn’t post for a while, even though I thought they were kind of missing the point. I guess it’s as much my fault for not making my point clearly as it is for them not “getting” it — what is the writer’s job if not to communicate clearly and well?

I miss it, my daily commune with “my blog” and you, my readers; but I don’t seem to “love” it like I did.

All those words shouted out into the ether (until your face gets hoarse, ani dif.), never really sure what I’m hoping to hear in response. Validation? Empathy? The knowledge/awareness/hope that whatever I’m thinking or feeling, I’m not the only one? And why does that matter? I find that I want to write less and read more, but even then, I have the vague sense that l am (persistently) looking for (and never finding) the answers to life persistent questions. Caroline Knapp (Appetites) speculates that all a woman needs is a good boyfriend, a good job, and a good apartment. (relationship, financial, and domestic security). I have those things, but still feel I am looking for something (what kind of paradise am I looking for? ani dif. again)

Caroline Knapp, (and the writers of Serenity), speculate that the wanting, searching, the sense of lack, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what gives our lives purpose, direction, keeps us moving forward rather than resting slothfully on our laurels munching grapes and watching bad television.

And yet I can’t help but be disappointed when things are less than I think they could be, or less than I hoped.

Again, Caroline Knapp writes of how, maybe, it is the moments we must treasure — of pure joy, contentment, ease; maybe in the afterglow of a great conversation/connection (even if brief) with someone we love, or with someone with whom we had no expectation of having a great conversation/connection; when we feel gratified or appreciated by that one person at our job; when the laundry is done and the dishes are washed and we sit on a comfortable couch in a cozy room after a delicious meal.

I can’t help but wonder (shades of Carrie Bradshaw) if those moments could be more often, or at the very least more easily held on to, if one could come to terms with the fact that there is no perfect, persistent joy. Maybe that’s the kind of paradise I’m looking for. Maybe, in this year where I, by the end, will have actually turned 50 (gasp!), I finally stop.

Now, someone else’s resolutions:

It’s still cold outside, we’ve had too much pecan pie and bad fudge, the family circus is performing, and we’re not sure what to make of this year that was pretty brutal at times, amiright? Take a long, belly deep breath. Feel your feet flat beneath you. Pull that core tall. Smile inside your mouth and feel your face soften. Put your head up, point your eyes forward. You with me? Listen … When your perceived troubles make you brood, it makes you a joy cannibal. Cut it out. We’re trying to have holiday spirit here. Maybe you’re bobbing along in the ocean of wherever you ended up. Pick a point, create a purpose, and move (ever slowly sometimes) towards it. Every day is the right day to reassess, make a map, rally the stakeholders to your own life, show up for someone else, and build capacity to be a better fucking human being. This is why love matters most. This is why you’re alive. This is why life is so painfully short and your sucky attitude is a waste of fine time. Break down the barriers you’ve built between you and the love of that god, that man, that woman, that child, and that person inside yourself you bully. Fly up to your own big picture. It’s a challenge to be honest with yourself, stop rating other people’s sins over your own, and steer your own damn boat. Change only comes with challenge. You can still be what you gave up on back when. You are in control of your own reaction in each moment and nothing else. Stand tall, breathe deep, smile softly, and forgive yourself for all that shit you won’t let go. Now is the time to put it down because it’s stupid heavy and you have a light heart. Get out of the harbor. Stop gripping the [buoy]. Be magnanimous, even when they don’t deserve it. Because you don’t sometimes, either. We’re all recipients of everyday grace and fear of hell isn’t what gets you into heaven. I don’t even believe in hell. Does that make you mad? Why? You are worthy of love and have so much to give. We all could work our hearts whole. Don’t be scared when someone loves differently than you, when their big plan isn’t like yours, and when their drive makes you ashamed at your own dog paddling. Pick a point, start a new year, and don’t look back. Head up, eyes forward.

11
Oct
13

something worth fighting for

We’re fighting over whether we should pay for budgets that have been approved and laws that have passed.

We should be fighting for this:

http://www.upworthy.com/watch-this-incredible-young-woman-render-jon-stewart-speechless?c=cp2

Education, and fair treatment of women, everywhere.

06
Sep
12

Well?

Watched Michelle two nights ago, Elizabeth Warren (honk if you’d like to elect HER president in 2016) and Clinton last night, Obama tonight.

Reveled in the diversity in the audience.

Cried a little (I’m a big fat baby, but still).

So just one question remains:

21
Jun
12

We can all, actually, have it all (but who wants it?)

Kristin Howterton posted recently on the underlying tension of gender roles in the pursuit of an egalitarian marriage. You can read it here.

The underlying premise is that, despite our (meaning, mostly women’s) efforts to find equality in both the home and the workplace, many women still feel guilty getting home to see their husbands cooking dinner with a crying toddler on his hip or wonder whether it’s fair to expect that men should PROBABLY contribute to the household chores if their wives are working outside the home.

I know, right?

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but this kind of thing does not make me feel guilty.

I responded at length, including replies to other commenters.

Most substantially:

I think we all learned the lessons of our childhood, and watching our parents, and have to struggle with these lessons, maybe just a little. But when I read these two sentences:

“When I walk though the door and see him cooking dinner with a crying toddler on this hip, I get a gut check that says, ‘Oh dear. I should be doing that.'”

and

“I think people our age have wised up to the idea that if a woman works, then the husband should probably step it up and help with some of the domestic duties as well.”

I just want to weep.

You think you should be doing that, but he shouldn’t? And the husband should PROBABLY step up? Ugh.

It’s his household as much as yours, his children as much as yours; and even if they’re not “his” children, but, say, maybe even “only” his stepchildren, his marriage to you makes him an equal partner in domestic needs if he wants to be an equal partner in domestic bliss.

I think there are ways people can balance things. I knew a couple once where the mom stayed at home, so the “housework” was her job, but when he was home, the childrearing was shared. That seemed fair. I guess you could do a proportional thing: he works 40 hours per week to her 30 so she does 60% of the housework. I guess you could even divide it proportionally to reflect the amount of money brought in, but I think that’s a terrible idea and think I shouldn’t even suggest it. (The jury will disregard the last statement.) My husband make 50% more money than I do, but my scheduled work time far exceeds his, so he does most of the cooking, laundry, and shopping. I clean when I can get to it. It works for us.

No shoulds, no probablys about it.

Fortuitously, Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in the issue of The Atlantic about “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

It’s a very good article. It’s long, but worth it. Some of the best stuff is at the end.

Her arguments could be summarized thusly:

Women can have it all, but only if there is a radical paradigm shift, including if men start demanding the right to have it all, too. Meaning that it’s not a sign of unprofessionalism or a lack of commitment for ANYONE to want to take time to take care of their children, their aging/ailing parents, or even, GASP, themselves.

The idea that women who take a different track so as to raise their own children are NOT less ambitious; the realization that one of the biggest challenges is that the hours of a school day continue not to coincide with the hours of a work day (we won’t even talk about the havoc wreaked by snow days and 2-hour delays); the fact that women have to make trade-offs that men do not — these are realizations that can and should trigger real change, change that requires an effort by the majority of us out there, male AND female, or they won’t.

Ms. Slaughter ends with a goal, if not a challenge:

I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. My husband agrees, but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women–to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing besides us.

We’ll create a better society in the process, for all women. We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart. But when we do, we will stop talking about whether women can have it all. We will properly focus on how we can help all Americans have healthy, happy, productive lives, valuing the people they love as much as the success they seek.

That’s the ticket.

Where do I sign?

13
Mar
12

Horrifying

Read this, and watch the clips.

Take a good look at the young woman who is faulted for having “too big” of hips.

And then refuse to buy a single magazine with an underage, emaciated, and/or exploited female model in it.

Who knows, it might actually make a difference.

24
Oct
11

a plan that just might work

Got this from facebook today.

I think this is a brilliant plan. If they’re going to make laws, they should live by them.

If you agree, share it.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there
is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

……
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why? Simple – the people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address
list and ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really
should be passed around.

_*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by CPI or 3%, whichever is lower.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen/women; Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, it should not be a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work – our Presidents do.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. You may not agree entirely with all these points, but this is a start – don’t you think it’s time?




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