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Dress for Dinner

We’re back up in NY for a short time. There’s a slight chill in the air. One of us is going under the knife today and I wish it was me. 

That must be love. Wanting to take away every pain, to soak it into your own skin and own it. Wear it like a badge of unadulterated positive regard. Look, see how I can heal my beloved with a mere touch of my hand. 

I knew this was the kind of powerful love we feel for our children. I’ve spent many nights over the years trying to sap a fever away from one child or another, trying it on myself instead. Bargaining with God in some twisted take on Faust. 

I didn’t expect after 36 years to still feel such primitive devotion. Such tenderness. And I told him not to worry about me. Because I will always be alright. Whatever happens, we made a vow and I’m sticking to it. A deal is a deal 

Early this evening Ada told me to “dress for dinner” and I had no idea what she was talking about. We were heading out, we had just finished dinner. She looked at me and gestured toward her chin – the implication became clear. Whatever happens, I need to be strong. 

This picture is from 1992, somewhere on the Jersey Shore, when he had salt and pepper hair. We’ve been through so much over the years. And he’s always been my safe harbor. Now I get to be his for awhile.  

 

Yesterday was surreal. We heard helicopters flying around our house as if we lived in LA. A small news station in Roanoke, WDBJ, just an hour away from Cville had been broadcasting a fluff early morning piece at Smith Mountain Lake, when a lone gunman murdered the beautiful, young reporter and her photo journalist, live. It was an unthinkable act. They don’t kill journalists in America, do they? And while I was following the car chase via Twitter and a local news anchor, the killer posted his own video of the crime to social media. My oatmeal was getting cold, I’d lost my appetite.

This morning we are learning more about the victims, Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Two talented, rising stars in TV news who didn’t deserve to die yesterday while doing their job. And we’ve learned that the shooter (I refuse to use his name) was a disgruntled, ex-employee of the station. He’d been fired for basically not playing well with others at many different news outlets. He’d been encouraged to seek medical help. Let the chorus begin…mental health vs gun control. Only like most things in life, it’s not that simple; and it’s not really a political issue.

The ease of obtaining a gun, and the sheer abundance of guns in this country is a public health issue. Period.

The state of Virginia rates a “D” in the gun law scorecard of the Law center to Prevent Gun Violence. You can go to their website to rate your own state http://smartgunlaws.org/search-gun-law-by-state/  Here is what Virginia does not have on the books, some of our very own loopholes for people intent on gun ownership: We DO NOT

  • Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals;
    Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;
    Regulate the transfer or possession of 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
    Require firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms;
    Impose a waiting period prior to purchase of a firearm; or
    Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”).

Why are we blind to this? How can we walk away from VA Tech and Sandy Hook without confronting our national sin. Or the countless times guns are used in a suicide – or in a domestic dispute – or in an “accident” involving a child – are seemingly overlooked by the media frenzy for a mass shooting incident at a mall or a movie theatre. It’s easy to say, oh he was crazy, he was over the edge; because it’s always a “he” and it always involves a gun.

I knew a teenager at the height of the Iraq war, who was circling her bedroom with a crown moulding of names – the names of the soldiers who were dying there and in Afghanistan. I was breathless when I first saw this memorial border, and I thought how so much is ignored or buried or covered up in the news. At the time, only PBS was broadcasting the names of the dead. Remember we were not allowed to see the flag covered caskets returning to our shore, as if we are children who need to be shielded from the sight of dead soldiers. Maybe we need to start a long border of names, or a quilt of the US citizens who have been killed by guns in the past year. The children, the wives and mothers, the fathers and yes, the young people just going to work in Virginia at daybreak.

Every day on average 290 people are shot in this country. We have three times as many gun homicides as European nations. Three Times

Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. “Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/18/you-have-to-see-how-many-more-people-are-killed-by-guns-in-america-to-really-believe-it/

God help us all if we have come to a point where we can continue to eat breakfast and accept this kind of news as normal. cover_chamberguide_2014_final-page-001

Three years ago today we were in Nashville. We had noted, not quite celebrated, Bob’s birthday and were awaiting our first grandchild’s birth. The baby was breech, like her Mama was, and so the Bride was wheeled into the OR in the hospital where both she and her husband had trained. Suddenly, the Groom appeared with the Love Bug in his arms and I could feel a cosmic shift in the universe. Love was expanding.

Over the years she has proven to be very much her Mother’s child

  • She can stand with her hands on her hips and insist on macaroni and cheese.
  • She can be a tiny empath and wrap her little arms around anyone in need of a hug.
  • She can direct her dog, her dolls, her baby brother, and her friends in the nicest way possible.
  • She can organize her toys and plan ahead in a monologue that lasts through a long car ride to preschool.
  • She can swim like a fish, as if the ocean were only blocks away.
  • She can and will choose her outfits with an eye for design and color.
  • She is a tiny dancer and a mixed media artist of the highest caliber!
  • And watch out world, she is starting to sing! “A Bushel and a Peck” is our theme song.

Her party was Sunday, but she was born on this day, one day after PopBob’s birthday, three years ago, and she was exactly herself. Happy late summer Birthday to our Love Bug. You make my heart fill with joy each time I hold you. Sleeping Baby 20120828

Let’s break down the controversy around Hillary Clinton’s email debacle shall we?

But first, spoiler alert; I have just one email address and only one internet server, Century Link. Customer service seems to have not evolved since AT&T ruled the world because Century Link recently promised to boost our signal’s connectivity speed from 8 to 18 gigs (is that right, a gig? we replaced the old modem after another thunderstorm, but is it bandwidth or the router??). You can see how knowledgable I am about wifi – but a promise is a promise. And I was looking forward to instant internet gratification.

Anyway, they failed to show up twice and followed up with an automated call telling us we lived too far out in the sticks to upgrade! Thanks so much.

With just a little digging, I’d like to share what I found out about Hillary: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907

A)  She only had ONE email account while she was at the State Department!

And she says her motivation for this was “convenience.” I foolishly thought she had two, one for government and one for private stuff, like planning her daughter’s wedding, which we know can drive one to drink during the day. Not me of course.

She relied on this server, home to the email address hdr22@clintonemail.com, for all her electronic correspondence – both work-related and personal – during her four years in office.
She also reportedly set up email addresses on the server for her long-time aide, Huma Abedin, and State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
She did not use, or even activate, a state.gov email account, which would have been hosted on servers owned and managed by the US government.

OK, so this server isn’t in Chappaqua, it’s in a closet in Colorado but who cares? NOBODY hacked her emails while she was in office….this bears repeating since some country DID hack the State Department and  US Postal Service’s official server after she left State in 2014. And this cyber-warfare will only get worse in the future. Forget about embarrassing Sony emails or cheating husbands on that Ashley site, we’re talking serious espionage issues here. Has anyone said a small server in a bathroom closet in Denver may be more secure than the behemoth government site? No, they jump to the conclusion that it’s less secure, but where’s the evidence?

I get wanting the convenience of just one device – she now carries about four around in her bag – and I also get that she wasn’t breaking any rules at the time. Tech rules are fluid and fast changing. After the cyber attack in November of 2014, President Obama signed into law the “…Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments, which requires government officials to forward any official correspondence to the government within 20 days. Even under this new law, however, the penalties are only administrative, not criminal.”

B)  Hillary is NOT the only person to use private email for business. It was well known that government issue Blackberry phones could not juggle different accounts at that time :

Colin Powell, secretary of state under President George W Bush, told ABC he used a personal email account while in office, including to correspond with foreign leaders.
Outside of Washington, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush relied on a private email address (jeb@jeb.org). Like Mrs Clinton, he has selected which correspondence to make public.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, also a Republican presidential aspirant, faced questions over his staff’s use of private email addresses when he was Milwaukee County executive.

C)  So what’s the problem?

She complied with the current law by forwarding all official correspondence to the correct government agency where it was automatically archived. She could not control what emails came into her account – a fact that is tying me up in knots currently as I try every morning to unsubscribe from Pottery Barn Kids and Shutterfly. Hillary sent or received 62,320 emails during her time in office, which makes my head hurt. Still a general in the US intelligence community, Charles McCullough, told Congress during the Benghazi – yes you heard it right – hearing he had sent her TWO emails that were later classified “Top Secret” – now can you decide what appears in your inbox every morning?? Go ahead, I dare you!

It’s my opinion that she is being crucified, compared to Nixon and a certain cheating general, for political reasons. When she swiped her hand at a reporter, in a gesture to indicate her annoyance and limited understanding of wiping clean a server, she was revealing a certain imperious nature. It was a “staying home and baking cookies” moment, a “let them eat cake” affectation that will bring about her downfall. She is so close. It would be a shame if she doesn’t talk directly to the American people. She was hoping this email thing would go away, like a pesky mosquito. But we all know you can lose your vision when one of those buggers bites you.

The Fog of Politics

The Fog of Politics

Over the weekend we had a friend come for dinner. While sitting on the deck at twilight, sipping VA wine and gazing out at the mountains, she noted the lack of bugs. Which of course led to my narrative on life at the Jersey Shore, how Monmouth County was the epicenter of tick/thug life, and eventually my experience as a West Nile survivor.

It was the summer we were packing up the Rocker for college. We lived in a tony swamp, on an estuary of a river. I’d have to swat mosquitoes off my hands in the middle of the day while hanging laundry outside on my clothesline. Let it be said, I love hanging towels, sheets and everything else in the sun and wind for that smell. It’s become a meditation of sorts.

For a full week I suffered with a blinding headache and a fever. But I carried on, never seeing a doctor because why bother, I lived with one.

Not until my eyes had turned as bright red as stop lights, and I could no longer read. That’s when I went to the first eye doctor. The one who told me to go home and wash my hands, I had conjunctivitis…

Then Bob took me to the “good” eye doctor, my savior, the one who realized right away what was going on. I remember distinctly his feeling of – what? Pity, sympathy – no doctor has ever looked at me like that before or since – and I was off to Bob’s old ER on the river for tests. Dropping steroid drops in my eyes every hour, swallowing steroid pills while packing up my son for his next great adventure. And eventually, I was an empty-nester who had lost my right-mid and lower-quadrant visual field; the peripheral vision of both eyes. My daughter’s favorite medical term, I think just because she liked the sound of it on her tongue, became my final diagnosis; Homonymous Hemianopsia. Say that five times fast!    

When i think about it, that’s most likely the reason I fell to the right in the bounce house. It’s the reason I jump when someone approaches me from the right. Most likely I abhor crowds because of my brain injury and it’s why I turn my head to the right so much while driving. All because of a little bug.

Which is why this recent headline caught my eye, “Orange horse is first West Nile equine victim of the year.” 

Orange is not the color of the mare, it’s a county one field away as the mosquito flies. “In 2014, there were seven cases of West Nile virus in humans in Virginia and three equine cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The human cases occurred in August and September and the equine cases occurred in September and October.” http://m.dailyprogress.com/news/local/orange-horse-is-first-west-nile-equine-victim-of-the/article

So even though we live in the mountains now, in a relative bug-free zone, I guess these are the months to spray bug repellant and light citronella candles. Makes me long for the Berkshires.  IMG_3030

Spaghetti Western

Granted I’ve been alive a long time now, and for some reason, I never knew what the term spaghetti western means. Is it a bunch of movies made in Sicily? Does it refer to cowboys who will only eat pasta? Is it a genre or just a passing fad?

Turns out spaghetti westerns are a sub-genre of movies about the wild wild west, mostly filmed in Spain with Italian directors in the 1960s and 70s. Here are its most common characteristics according to Urban Dictionary:

1. Level of Violence (Usually more than American made westerns).
2. The Music (Often scored by Ennio Morriconne and Bruno Nicolai).
3. Sound Effects (Particulary the gun and horse sounds are different from the ones used in American made westerns).
4. Religious imagery, symbols and names.
5. Filmed in Almeria Spain.
6. Italian and Spanish names in the credits (It is highly likely the director will be named Sergio).
7. Out of sync dubbing (Even the Italian versions are dubbed).
8. Stereotypes (Mexicans as theives, women as whores).
9. A shitload of alternate titles.
10. Banned in several countries.
11. Often they star Franco Nero, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Klaus Kinski, Luigi Pistili, Mario Brega and other spaghetti regulars.

It should be noted here, that as a girl I remember distinctly running out of Dover, NJ’s Baker Theatre to throw up on the street during the chariot race in Ben Hur. And it was the gruesome depiction of dying horses that did it for me, and we all know this was long before they started running “No animals were hurt during the filming of this movie” credits. Between that, and my big brother, Dr Jim, scaring the life out of me by taking me to horror movies at the fancy Community Theatre, where we had to wear our little white gloves, it’s a wonder I ever went to another movie again.

On the bright side, Dr Jim and I spent some great Saturday afternoons at the Baker watching 007 double features! This helped me develop a certain taste in films, long before censors or a rating system developed for parents. I hated violence, which meant I missed lots of the great Vietnam films, but thought sex was totally normal and fine. Bob and I have been called “outlier” parents before, and this may be one of the reasons. The Rocker’s friends knew I’d sneak them into “R” rated films anytime.

Come to think of it, going to the movies was one of the many “action and adventure” dates I’d plan with my son. I dressed him up like a little Ninja Turtle for the premier of that movie, much to his bigger sister’s chagrin. When he was thirteen, I picked him up from his one camp experience in PA, and we stopped to see the first Men in Black movie on our way home! Long before that, I’d catch him working with his best bud Alex for hours in our garage on a stop-action film with their tiny Star Wars action figures. Alex later became the drummer in his first band.

Cut to today. Since moving out to the Left Coast, my son has been determined to score music for the film industry, while flying back and forth to NJ to fulfill his commitment to his band of brothers. And this week, he and his collaborators at Ignition Creative in LA have released the trailer for Tarantino’s eighth movie, “Hateful Eight,” in the style of a spaghetti western. I’m guessing the horses were treated well. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/hateful-eight-trailer-quentin-tarantino-1201568499/

Sometimes the universe just aligns.

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

Bad Girls

While watching part of the GOP debate, I started to feel like that Angry character in the movie Inside Out. The one with fiery hair and a voice like Lewis Black. In the continual news coverage of Trump’s performance, I thought something is missing. Now we hear Hillary calling it out, the unbelievably, unimaginable gall of Rubio to tell us all that his Catholic faith informs his public policy – ie sorry no abortions ladies, life begins at conception, oh and btw, that he would make no exceptions for rape or incest.

And so we see again, ten men discussing womens’ private parts. But as Elizabeth (yes we’re on a first name basis) said, did they fall down and hit their heads and wake up in the 1950s? Because I lived through those years, when young women were butchered in backyard alleys, when they were sent away in shame to deliver a baby and hand it over for adoption, when they were rendered infertile and sometimes died. When women had no voice at all, none. Some women did the “good” thing and married the guy at 17, if he was amenable.

Today, young women are supposedly given condoms in school at a certain age and told how to use them. Of course this is all according to a state-sanctioned sex-ed/health curriculum, that varies from California to New York. Some states prefer to teach about waiting for marriage. But, girls can walk into a drug store and buy a Plan B pill if the condom failed…in fact, they still could walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic and get a shot a patch or a pill to prevent conception. But not if these ten men on stage have their way, clinics will cease to exist for reproductive health care – in other words, it’s the poor, the marginalized, the girls who could never in a million years talk to their parents about sex, these are the girls who will suffer.

Then this morning I read this: “Letter to Our Daughters: Do Not Be Good.”  The author, Megan Bergman, is writing about becoming a teenager to her pre-school daughters: http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/letter-to-my-daughters-do-not-be-good/

You are entitled to the Dark Poetry Stage, and although it’s going to hurt like hell when you push me away, it’s necessary. (I hope I’m there to be pushed, and return doggedly.) I’m raising you to be independent beings, not fleshy basement-dwellers who play video games and pound energy drinks while the sunny world goes by. Or girls who try to appease my ego by being conventionally “good” and who then have to forge a secret rebellion. No! Rebel in the open.

I want you out in the world getting the good stuff. I want sun on your skin and banned books in your backpack, and when I’m old and diapered I want you to walk into my house, turn down the George Michael songs, and tell me about all the incredible discoveries you’ve made about the planet and yourself. I want you to tell me about your mistakes, heartbreaks, dreams, and plans. Those things are your engine. In my life, failure has been a much better engine than success. Artistic and personal.

George Michael doesn’t do it for me, maybe the Stones? My generation of women wrote the Book “Our Bodies Ourselves” because if we can’t control our body, how can we take control of our own lives?  We don’t need to cover our hair, we can dye it blue. We can go to a movie like Trainwreck and celebrate our badasses.

Because being good isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: when it limits our choices; when it keeps us subservient; when it cancels our dreams.

We don’t have to take typing in school and end up in a Mad Men office anymore. We may even get equal pay for equal work soon! I went to Catholic school AND camp. I was taught to be good above all else. And believe me, throwing off those shackles felt amazing. Rubio and his ilk would like to put those chains back on, but he doesn’t know that young women today will never allow that to happen. After years of being dressed in a beanie and uniform, I allowed the Bride to wear whatever she wanted to school. It was the late 80s, think Dirty Dancing, and she was killing it!

Note to my daughter – remember your grandmother was a Flapper, remember this when the Love Bug turns 11, it’s a magical age.  Cute Kids

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