Friday, July 1, 2016

Politics, Sex and Religion

Those were the topics I was told to avoid.  Those were the topics Miss Vicky reminded us to avoid.  And yet, onward we plunged, fortified by the alcoholic beverages we were toting at 3 in the afternoon.  A margarita with Amaretto, a beer in a pilsner stein, and one red wine of indeterminate vintage fueled the far ranging discussion of ethics and would you go there? and how can they say that?  and though we weren't all on the same page, we were in the same chapter.

There's not a good choice.  #Settling4Hillary.  How could anyone be so ignorant, so unaware, so incurious?  We've known each other for more than a decade.  We've hiked and we've bowled and we've dined and vacationed and shared friends and friendships and I'm always interested to hear what they have to say, what they've been up to, where they're going next.  The conversation flows smoothly and gently, with jibs and jabs as appropriate.

No one has ever walked away until this afternoon.

"It's time for me to leave."  

We turned, and she was gone.

We smiled, because she's often abrupt and we know that and love that about her.  She says what's on her mind, and so do the rest of us, and that's why we are friends.  She gave me a "Pull Up Your Big Girl Panties and Get Over Yourself" pillow when she thought I was overplaying my hand. Enough excuses.  Get on with your life.   It lives on my couch to this day, reminding me that I have friends who are loyal enough to tell me the truth.

So, I worried when she didn't immediately return to our merry band of three, choosing to smile but stay put with a new group.  It was a cocktail party for The Happy Ladies Club, so moving on when you were done with a conversation wasn't rude at all.  But we were worried.  We wanted her back.

Being intrusive and unwilling to let things be, we encircled her and smiled at her and reminded her that we were not arguing, we were sharing thoughts, and we were very interested in hers.  We knew that she was smart and thoughtful and we were delighted to have the opportunity to have a conversation instead of a screaming match.  We didn't plan to tell her she was wrong on this any more than we would have on any other topic.  We were interested.  We valued her opinion.

Or, at least, tell us that we were still friends.

At that, she had to grin.

We left politics behind, and moved on to how our dilemma was exactly the dilemma facing America today.  We have lost the ability to disagree in a civilized fashion.  There is no conversation.  There is only rhetoric, shouted from the rooftops, filled with the belief that The Other is bad, wrong, deluded, and to be avoided.  It's too risky to take a chance, to voice your opinion until you are certain that your interlocutors are on your side.

That's not who we want to be, and yet here we are.  At least we four could hug and know that our friendship is strong, even though we might think some of us are total fruitcakes when it comes to politics.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Snippet from Big Cuter

Our typical Wednesday evening call covered lots of deaths this week and Turkey is showing a lot of gumption, opening the airport so quickly and a snatch of politics before my son raised an interesting question:
Is there a button somewhere we can push and just reboot 2016?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

RIP, Pat and Buddy

Daddooooo sat in this iteration of a Windsor writing desk every morning.  We called it the Jefferson Chair, because Thomas Jefferson is said to have composed pieces of the Declaration of Independence in a similar chair and that must be true because we saw the same kind of chair at Monticello and it was something on which my parents agreed.  There was no reason to examine something that didn't cause an argument.

But, I digress.

After his breakfast of oatmeal and hot tea, he'd take the New York Times to the Jefferson Chair, open to the death notices, and begin to read.  Why?  "Just checking to be sure that most of them are older than I am," was his standard reply. "

Lately, I've begun to understand his reasoning.  He used those obituaries as a measuring stick; he was still young if the newly deceased were older than he was.  As he aged, he began "checking to see if I know anybody."  It must have been reassuring to find himself on this side of the abyss; I know it makes me happy to find myself here.

And so, when I awoke to find that Bears' defensive coach Buddy Ryan (yes, he did other things but that's how I remember him) and Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summit were dead, I had a Daddooooo moment.

Buddy Ryan was 82, but he's frozen in time for me in 1985, 50 years old and ornery.  Pat Summitt had been sick for a long time; her release from early-onset Alzheimers felt sad but not tragic.  Neither death should have been surprising, but they were.  Neither should have shaken me, but they did.

Little Cuter was a newborn when Buddy's Bears won the Super Bowl.  I conjure baby pictures of her in the same imaginative frame as I find those football players.  It doesn't feel that long ago.  And yet.... if Buddy Ryan has aged, then so have I.  

I had no idea that Pat Summit and I shared the same birth year; she always seemed so much more mature than I.  Yet, there it was on the screen this morning... and I came face to face with the fact that I am at the age when it's not my parents and my friends' parents and actors from the 1940's who are dropping like flies, but my friends and my friends' friends and famous figures from my time.

I'm not complaining.  I'm glad to be here.  I just don't like being reminded of my mortality.

Take good care of yourselves, denizens.  I'm not in the mood for any more bad news.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Random Thoughts - Politics 2016

Is Elizabeth Warren Native American? Here's the Mass. Senator's Heritage Explained
There they were, in matching blue outfits, with matching blonde coiffures, sporting the same big grins.  Two women commanding the stage in the race for the Presidency of the United States.  Why was I so fixated on the visuals?

I've lost interest in the words; Donald Trump has nothing to say to me and Hillary is still #WrongWithinNormalParameters and listening won't change anything.  Yes, she is moving to the left, touting affordable college and a rise in the minimum wage.  Yes, he is promoting his golf course and misspeaking about Scotland's Brexit vote.  I don't really care.  I'm #SettlingForHillary.  My mind is made up.  Now, I can focus on the spectacle without worrying about the content.
TBG thinks Hillary seems more relaxed when Elizabeth is on the stage.  I couldn't get past the matching blue outfits and the hair and the nodding in synchronicity.  The notion of an all female ticket is intriguing, though I'd rather have Senator Warren in Congress than flying to state funerals in odd parts of the globe.  If adding her to the ticket motivates those who felt the Bern to take a more active role in getting out the vote, then I will be able to relax until November.

Every time the news reports that Mrs. Clinton has a double digit lead I begin to panic.  "Don't tell them that - they won't vote," screams the little voice in my head.  I worry that young people may feel disconnected from the two rich white people trying to run the country.  I worry that complacency will overtake common sense and right thinking people will stay home.  I know that the Trump contingent has gotten this far by putting their votes where their passions are; I have no reason to think they'll stop now.
George Will is no longer a Republican, because he can't stomach Donald Trump.  Scott Brown is trying the birther argument on Elizabeth Warren.  Bernie Sanders is still campaigning even though he admits he cannot win.  The facts are absurd.  I'm sticking with the visuals.  Can you blame me?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rest In Peace, Mrs. K

She left us 12 days before her 102nd birthday.  She was cosseted and loved until the very end, surrounded by family, in familiar environs.  She was cogent and very much herself, reminding her daughter-in-law that reaching her next birthday "was never a goal!"

She was ready to go and she went. It was her time, and, like G'ma, it's sad rather than tragic. But there's a hole where she existed that won't be easily filled.

There are lots of holes, in fact.

She played bridge with the children of the women with whom she formed the group, decades ago. They drove her to the games and helped her fan out her cards, but she beat them all on her own.

She was Gram to two girls who doted on her... and she returned the favors, in spades.  Her pride, her joy, her love and concern were written in Sharpie boldness on her face.  Her voice took on a different cadence when she was bragging on her grandkids; had I heard about nursing school and teaching English in the Far East and the impact her girls were making in the world?  She was never without a story to prove that her grands were the grandest.

It was easy to agree; I've known them all their lives. Their fascination with others, their open acceptance, their eagerness to grow and share their new found knowledge, their interest in the world around them.... it was all there in their Gram.

I met her in graduate school, when her son took us home for a real meal.  She greeted us with cocktails and a table cloth and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  No one had treated me that well in ages, and there she was, feeding me and wondering why I'd chosen UofChicago and what I hoped to do with my education and where I grew up and would I be willing to stay and see the pictures of their latest trip.... and I was in love.

The love never faded.

She was in charge of her own existence, widowed and alone but not diminished.  She made her presence known.  She took the condominium's shuttle to the hairdresser when she gave up her car; I can't imagine her looking anything short of elegance.

As Not-Kathy said on her Facebook post, "I wanted to be her when I grew up."

So did I.  I'm still trying.  And, in that, she will always be here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm Very Happy Right Now

The conversation is changing.  There is stridency and there is resilience and there is moral outrage and then there is a sit in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  On the actual floor, denizens.
Image result for rep john lewis on floor
This makes me very happy.  I'm no longer a voice shouting into the wind.  Social media fueled the Arab Spring and it fueled the furor over the lack of action to stem the rising tide of gun violence in America.  

#NoBillNoBreak flew over the interwebs, as supporters rallied outside the Capitol for a semi-pre-planned vigil.  Something was coming, and our side was preparing the troops in advance.  Local Survivor Leaders were traveling to Washington, D.C.  My thoughts went to the Million Moms March. I imagined a candlelit row of supporters holding pictures of loved ones gunned down by weaponry which has its place in the hands of a well-regulated militia and no where else.  

I never considered that House Democrats would pull such a stunt.  Paul Ryan can complain about fundraising during the event, but that's a Campaign Finance Reform issue I'd be happy to debate with him at a later date.  I would rather not be distracted from the message that Rep. Lewis sent, loudly and clearly.  He tweeted
We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.
Rep. Mark Walker said the stunt was an insult to Woolworth's.  Sure, I'll buy that.  Following his analogy, his House of Representatives runs the lunch counter at which Christina-Taylor will never get to sit.  You go right ahead, Rep. Lewis and colleagues.  Insult them all you want.  The rest of us will be watching and remembering at the ballot box come November.

You've made my day, my week, my month.  I've wanted to feel the Bern, because I missed the passion of my anti-war days.  Seeing you on the carpet, holding hands, doing what needed to be done to draw attention to what needs to be done.... I'm smiling, big time, right now.

I'm going to like going into the 4th of July with this attitude.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

There's a Lesson Here

The well dressed businessman, the one who knew it was Tuesday because he was leaving O'Hare for work, boarded with four others who looked just like him.

The rest of us, First Class and Elite and Sapphire and Gold were a motley crew. In full Summer Vacation Mode, we moved at a different pace. We were free.  He was not.  

TBG and I found ourselves seated next to him, aisle and middle to his window. He was not displeased. 

Then a mom with two pre-schoolers hoisted her roller bag into the bin above us and swiftly, cleanly, with little muss or fuss, settled herself and the kids and their snuggles blanket and backpack-cum-bear and Snow White into the row behind us. In complete sentences, the big sister was narrating the experience with the delighted excitement only a four year old feels while anticipating the Food Cart. 

The worker bee by the window sighed a sigh which could have propelled the plane on its own.

The mom was smiling and gentle and in charge so the girls were just fine. The cell phone was used to call Daddy, awaiting them in Tucson.  The little one wanted him to help her right now, and her sorrow was palpable, but the Food Cart Fan soon distracted her.

Their chatter, amusing and loud and giggly, was soothing to my just-left-FlapJilly soul. Obviously, not everyone shared my opinion.  My businessman showed his indignation by pulling down the window shade, appropriating the entire shared armrest, and falling asleep.

The girls rattled on as Mom handed out surprises, discussing their relative merits while answering their constant stream of questions.  It was delightful and distracting and they were definitely in my personal space... and then I sneezed.

I sneeze in threes.  Not earthshaking but certainly noticeable, three let's-all-turn-on-our-air-vents-at-the-same-time dust storm dry sneezes put three distinct aachhooos out there. I stopped, and then, from the row behind me, after a decent pause, came a friendly, high pitched, heartfelt "Bless You!"

I returned the favor with a "Thank You!" and then the engines started and no one could hear anything and I sat back and realized that I'd just been taught a lesson.  

In our increasing interconnected world, where we all seem to share one another's social spaces, it's easier to be friendly and polite than to tilt at windmills and pray that a mom and two kids don't sit behind you on your Tuesday morning commuter flight.  My sneeze was in her space as much as her Food Cart Obsession was in mine.  As long as we accepted that and were respectful to one another, we'd have no problem.

I think My Businessman must have felt the vibe, too.  He crossed his arms snugly around his chest, leaving some of the arm rest to me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Little Brother

Niece The Youngest is moving to Chicago, so Brother drove out to pick her up at O'Hare.  Drove out from Maryland (see below) and spent a lovely evening with FlapJilly and her parents

and Sunday after noon with TBG and me added to the mix.  He's thoughtful and funny and dropped off a 300 pound piece of machinery to people who are moving within the next month or two.  I could not leave 3 glow-in-the-dark headbands because it would be one more thing to move,  but such is the wonderfulness of Uncle Brother that SIR was thrilled.

I love these random encounters with him.  He plots his travels to buy a belt at a leather shop in Indianapolis, after visiting a fraternity brother in Southern Illinois.  He found the machinery on Angie's List in a community vaguely along the way.  He's right up there with the most interesting people I know, and his birthday post deserves a re-posting.

Pause a moment and wish my younger brother a Happy Birthday, would you?  Aim your thoughts towards Maryland, at the Metro's last stop, and lift a glass in his honor.

A nice beer or a cheap beer, whiskey or a glass of NYC water; he's easy to please.

You might mention the full facial hair experience he's been sporting for the past year or so.  We saw it first when he drove all the way to Illinois to welcome FlapJilly into the family; he drove me to the airport as he left the young family for SIR's Scout's Seats at the White Sox game.

SIR drove home in the middle of the morning to drop off the tickets.
This part of Little Cuter's family is well worth the effort.

Did you notice that he drove half way across the country, rather than hopping on a plane?  He has notions about the ability of metallic objects to remain in the air while he is encased within.  He has other notions, too.

Balance is the key, he told me.
Family, Work, School, God, Sex - each has a place and a piece.

He has consciously, thoughtfully, often (I imagine) painfully, reinvented himself.  He's created an extraordinary human being - funny, smart, purposeful, talented, giving, loving.

... a person whose footwear is never anything but sneakers.

He is himself.  He's wonderful.  He's mine.

Happy Happy Birthday, Brother!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Another Day Off... and Another

We are babysitting.  We've been to music class and carried a sleeping baby into the house afterwards. We had mac and cheese and blueberries and salami for lunch, then blew bubbles, then took naps.

There's not much to report from this end and my brain is baby mush.

I'll be back on Wednesday..... I'm having too much fun to think.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Travel Day

The Cavalier's won and the series returns to Oakland for game 7.

FlapJilly shared The Lion King with grandpa.

We're off to the shores of Lake Michigan tomorrow.

Life is good.

Politics and personal safety will be worried about anon. I'm taking this weekend off.


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