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Archive for May, 2013

Let’s raise our glasses, or our coffee cups, to the French! Today Marriage Equality is de rigeur in this predominantly Catholic country. Legalizing same-sex unions wasn’t easy, even though the mayor of Paris is openly gay. In fact it’s the biggest shift in policy since abolishing the death penalty in 1981…I wonder if SCOTUS is listening? I am ecstatic, and hoping for a complete overhaul of the wedding industry, which could use a touch of LGBT creativity.

But it’s not just the business of getting married that may be overhauled as state after state grants gays the right to marry. A recent article in The Atlantic posits that we heteros may learn a thing or two from gay marriage.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/the-gay-guide-to-wedded-bliss/309317/

“Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers.”

Liza Mundy has gathered most of the data from around the world on the sociological complications of straight vs gay marriage. Who will pay the mortgage? Who will run the kids from school to tennis? Who cooks and who will do the laundry? There is even a study where researchers threw a bunch of toys out on the floor with a child and its parents to see how parents interact during play…sure enough, it was the hetero dads who played lincoln logs in the corner by themselves.

I was in a bank line that wasn’t moving the other day, so I struck up a conversation with the dad and a stroller directly in front of me. I told him about my Love Bug, and he told me all about the same age baby girl he was caring for, his daughter, who was happily smiling at me whenever I looked at her. By way of explanation he said she was getting fussy so he thought he’d venture out. Then he volunteered that his wife was finishing a fellowship at UVA and they were moving to Seattle in just a few weeks. I said that must be exciting, and told him about my son-in-law’s fellowship in Nashville. But he didn’t seem very excited about moving cross country, and then the line started to move and he was gone.

I didn’t ask him “What do you do,” as I know some others might have done to try and pigeonhole his motives for staying at home to care for his daughter. I could see very well what he did, he had a clean, smiling, happy baby with him. I love to see young men caring for their children, during the week, when it is obvious this is their role for now, while the wife earns the money. Religious zealots, who fear gay marriage for whatever reasons, should take heart to learn that gay men are just as likely to denote one partner to stay-at-home (“specialize”) in their marriage as heterosexual partners. According to the latest Census:

“32 percent of married heterosexual couples with children have only one parent in the labor force, compared with 33 percent of gay-male couples with children. (Lesbians also specialize, but not at such high rates, perhaps because they are so devoted to equality, or perhaps because their earnings are lower—women’s median wage is 81 percent that of men—and not working is an unaffordable luxury.)”

Maybe this fact alone should put an end to the “mommy wars?” My friend Lee was an assistant DA in MA, a high powered attorney. She found a wonderful nanny, from France in fact, and had a very supportive husband with more reasonable working hours. It never occurred to us, both feminists, that we might be at war because I chose to stay at home!

So look out all you newly married heterosexual couples. Gay marriage just may have a profound effect on our culture, in a very good way. The old playing field is getting some brand new sod, and everything you may have once thought was traditionally your duty in marriage, is up for debate. Now, Bob, about that cooking class in Italy…

First French gay couple wed

Meet the first French couple – Vincent Autin, left, and his partner Bruno Boileau sign a document during their marriage in Montpellier, southern France, on May 29, 2013

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/05/29/meet-frances-first-married-gay-couple/#ixzz2UmudbzoC

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“There are people who make an art form out of not being intense. They can remain on an amusing yet completely repetitive level. I can’t operate that way.”

Do you remember when I said I wanted to join a writer’s forum, and the only way to log in was with a twitter account, so I joined the Twit-o-Sphere? Well, it’s through that writer’s website, “Medium,” that I found myself reading an important essay this morning on friendship: “The Games Women Play: Part 2” By Lauren Mechling (author, editor and saint).

The author interviews another author, Susanna Sonnenberg. about the ebb and flow of friendship.  She Matters, is a memoir  of Sonnenberg’s twenty most important female friendships done as a chapter-per-friend. They talk about neediness and intimacy, about expectations and loss. https://medium.com/the-lauren-papers/a30ac0d4b1d0

Sonnenberg asks, “What do you want out of a friend?” Mechling says she wants somebody she can call on the phone any hour of the day or night. Which means she wants her friend to answer her calls, and be there if she

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needs her. I had a different take on that question, although maybe it’s in the same general category.

I want a friend who knows where the spoons are in my kitchen.

For me it’s about the comfort of showing up and listening. My BFF Lee from MA showed up at the Rocker’s bris with armloads of flowers from her garden. No one asked her, she just knew what I needed and she always knew the right thing to say, to bring me back to myself. To help me see my best self, and even coax me toward grace when I was listing away. Here is Lee to the left at the Bride’s wedding; and the Bride’s Duke roomie Sally on the right, who just had a baby last week!

Obviously, no one person can fulfill every longing we may have for a friend or a mate for that matter. Is she intellectually curious; fun to be around; supportive in a good way; adventurous? We all know the sunny-day vs rainy-day friends paradigm. It’s a rare and wonderful thing when that type combines – it’s the lottery of friendship! And yes, things do change once our identity shifts into motherhood. There can be rifts, and ruptures, not all friends can stand the ebb and flow, the test of time.

Like a good marriage, a good friend will still love you with all your faults. “If I show you this, will you still love me? If I show you this, will you still be with me?”

Honesty and loyalty, pretty much says it all. Like the authors, I need to have a certain intensity in order to fuel a friendship, we need to go deep sometimes, soul-baringly deep. I feel lucky to have found a few good friends at this stage of my life, in my empty nest. ps The spoons are to the left of the kitchen sink.

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It’s a weekend for sales. It’s a weekend for barbeque. And it’s a weekend to remember our fallen soldiers; only this time instead of waxing on about our military might, and the bravery exhibited by countless men and women in uniform, I thought I’d take a different tack.

I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed by: 1)  the crop of sexual harassment charges popping up in all forms; 2)  I’m super-shocked at the continuing hunger strike that is going on at Gitmo. But now I have to think that the pint-sized para-militray operation known as the Boy Scouts of America is taking one tiny step in the right direction. So it came as a bit of a shock to read that 3) Justice Antonin Scalia, a weekend scout leader for decades, has resigned!

“Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined.Ruined.” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2013/05/scalia-resigns-post-as-scoutmaster.html

Let me be clear. I always wanted to be a Brownie. My foster mom didn’t drive, so it was a given that I couldn’t join those coveted ranks and wear that precious uniform with the beauty pageant-like ribbon decorating my chest. I had to sit in sacred Heart Church, in the noxious maroon uniform of Catholic school girls everywhere, bow-tied tight, and just watch as the Brownie troop entered, marching in time, stage to the right of Mary Mother of God. It was unnerving.

And except for finding out that the youngest little Girl Scouts now have a troop called “Princesses” in Cville, I’m delighted to find out that this largest of all organizations dedicated to All-Things-Girl has always had an all-inclusive policy when it comes to their members’ sexuality:  “Girl Scouts of the USA and its local councils and troops value diversity and inclusiveness and do not discriminate or recruit on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, or physical or developmental disability,” reads a statement on the organization’s blog. http://www.advocate.com/youth/2012/12/19/3-big-differences-boy-scouts-versus-girl-scouts

Hurray for Girl Power! Now, I’m not sure about that SCOTUS article, since it did seem rather tongue in cheek. But if Scalia did resign, well that is his right. I personally, on this chilly May morning, couldn’t imagine cuddling with him around any campfire, ever!

Thank you President Obama for having the courage to send out the message that this war on terror is not sustainable. That our military needs to be focusing on other things, and that terrorists throughout the world are better caught by intelligent spying and good old fashioned police work. Self-radicalizing nut jobs are becoming much more of an issue world-wide. If a soldier can be hacked to death in broad daylight in a London suburb, why did it not surprise me that a woman, who is a cub scout leader, talked him out of killing anyone else? She said it was better her, than her child who was on the bus with her. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329236/Woolwich-attack–Moment-heroic-woman-tries-remonstrate-knife-wielding-soldier-killer-police-arrived-scene.html

Now that’s what I call courage.

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To the town of Moore, OK – Please accept my sincerest apologies for Wolf Blitzer. Did you see the part where he asked a young woman with her 18 month old if she thought God was with her on Monday because she had the guts to get out of her bathtub and get into her car and drive south, away from that tornado. And when she didn’t answer fast enough he kept pummeling her with this most important question, “Was God with you?” Finally, she smiled and said, “Well actually I’m an atheist.” Sorry Wolf, guess God didn’t run that twister into 2 elementary schools for kicks and giggles either.

This is what I was starting to write about on Monday night; not the sounds of a tornado and the bloviating sounds of carnivorous reporters. I was going to tell you about the sweet country sounds of Spring.

I have a beautiful sister, Kay, who has lived alone in NYC for far too long IMHO. When she visits me, the silence of the country is deafening. No taxis, no jackhammers (well there are the woodpeckers), no gun shots or calls for help. I take that back, we do have hunters shooting in the woods on occasion. No, really, she finds our little mountainous region a bit too serene for her taste. Not much to do, except maybe go to the Earlysville firemen’s spaghetti dinner, or the farmer’s “City” market in Cville. Well not anymore.

This morning I was helping Bob plant a few fig trees in the lower forty. By “helping” I mean I was directing and supervising and cleaning up. Our soil is Albemarle red clay, as hard as bricks and mixed in with flint rocks as big as baseballs. Added to that, I have a bum right shoulder. Lifting and hauling my beautiful little 20+ pounder Love Bug around the last couple of visits has taken its toll. Some physical therapist should invent the grandmother workout – prepare your body for the most lovely, intense physical labor ever! And Jane Fonda should NOT do the video. Here she is very proud of herself for pulling herself up in her crib after a nap! 264582_10200580364125708_198299485_n

Anyway, I was in the woods with Bob when I turned and saw these big, ugly, larvae-looking brown bugs clinging to a small evergreen. I dropped everything and insisted that Bob get his glasses and get a look at them. It’s happened. The cicadas are here!

I’ve been hearing about it on the news, every 17 years la de da. I really didn’t pay much attention, but sure enough, here it is in black and white: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/05/13/theyre-here-cicadas-are-emerging/

It’s been raining for days and the ground temperature must have just hit 65 degrees. Bob said, “Listen.” So I listened and screened out the  usual noises of tree frogs and crickets and those pesky woodpeckers and various birdsongs, and underneath it all was this whoosh. Whoose Whoose Whoose. It’s like I wanted the Rocker to come and record it, it was that good. It was like a helicopter getting ready to take off in the distance…it’s the cicadas…

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And that, coupled with the magnificent red cardinal who’s been banging his head against my guest bedroom windows for almost a week now, should put my sister at ease. His mate must be nesting nearby, and he’s telling that mirror reflection of himself to go take a hike. He sits on the sill, then will fly up, wings extended in glorious crimson and attack the window! It’s the territorial imperative at its finest. I thought about that for a second. We could really end all war if we could just get over this territorial thing.photo copy

So please Kay, come back to Virginia. We love you and want to see you.

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Today I’m baking mini carrot cake muffins. The last time I made these the Bride was graduating from college, and I had to feed a few tents full of people in our backyard. And it was about that time, in 2001, that we heard about the first cell phone related car accident, It happened early one morning in Shrewsbury, NJ; a school crossing guard was hit and killed because a commuter was rushing to work and dropped his phone.

Nashville is where medicine and music meet, so in honor of  National Trauma Awareness Month this May, I thought I’d post this music video the Bride sent my way. There are a few of her colleagues in the Emergency Department shots. When I drive into Nashville, there is a huge sign that spans the highway telling drivers how many people have died so far this year on the road. Automatically, I slow down. Needless to say, distracted driving is something we’ve all been guilty of, but let’s all pledge to stop.

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/05/vanderbilt-county-superstar-tim-mcgraw-share-important-message-regarding-dangers-of-distracted-driving/

“In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.”  Here are all the myriad ways we can lose our focus while driving:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Many of you know that I was raised by foster parents due to a drunk driver Don’t drive drunk, or tired and don’t drive to distraction, please. http://www.distraction.gov/index.html Thanks to Tim McGraw and  Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Vanderbilt LifeFlight, Vanderbilt University Hospital and the Adult Emergency Department. Distracted-driving-pledge1

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While all the top shops are hitching onto the Gatsby trend in their ads, this morning I’m shocked to find out that only ONE American manufacturer has signed onto a safety pact for garment workers around the world. And which company would that be? Not Gap, not Walmart, somebody I never heard of – PVH

“PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod, announced it would sign the deal, an expanded version of a proposal that PVH had already signed. The new plan lasts five years, while the previous one was to last only two. PVH also announced on Monday that it would contribute $2.5 million to underwrite factory safety improvements as part of the new plan.” http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/retail-biggies-safety-pact-in-bangladesh/article4716342.ece

In Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza disaster has finally galvanized world-wide pressure on huge chains, like H&M a Swedish company, to improve woking conditions. But once again, our big brands are standing apart from the collective consciousness. We must look like such bullies to our planet, like we did when we refused to sign the Kyoto Agreement.http://www.climate-concern.com/Kyoto%20Agreement.htm

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to boycott the Gap, and Walmart lost my trust ages ago…and I’d like you to think. When you shop for clothes, remember the “blood diamonds.” Think about the conditions that women are working in, for it is mostly women and sometimes children in these factories. Think about the 19 year old seamstress, Reshma Begum, who was found alive after 17 days in her factory’s tomb.

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The word for today on Dictionary.com is “Quacksalver.” I love it when I’m unfamiliar with a word so I eagerly clicked on its meaning:

Noun  1. a charlatan. 2. a quack doctor.
Origin: 
1570–80;  < early Dutch  (now kwakzalver )
Of course, quacksalver is onomatopoeic. Someone who is hawking his snake oil cure-all from the back of a pioneer wagon, someone who’s home made salve promises to do everything. Someone who is not who he appears to be, like Jay Gatsby.
Bob scooped me up on Mother’s Day from my self-induced TCM mom/alone/coma, and deposited me in our town’s newest movie theatre symposium. We didn’t see Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D version of The Great Gatsby, which was screening later in the evening, but we sat through 20 minutes of previews until F Scott Fitzgerald’s characters materialized onscreen in all their digitized glory. I’m so glad I waited until the next day, on the bike at the gym, to read one critic’s take on this classic American novel turned screenplay.
Fitzgerald coined the phrase, “The rich are very different from you and me,” and this was his most subtle way of proving the point. It was the Jazz Age, skirt lengths were going up while the price of bootleg liquor was going down. The reason the love story of Daisy and Jay has lasted so long is because it’s a pretty universal one. Boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl for a myriad of reasons (like class or clan differences) and chaos ensues. But more than a romance, it’s a morality play. Fitzgerald’s genius is in his elegiac prose:
“It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Gatsby creates an empire and holds lavish parties at his Long Island mansion with one thing in mind, winning Daisy back. But he didn’t go to Yale with Nick and Tom, and he didn’t graduate from Oxford or Cambridge. He will never fit in with this polo-playing crowd; Gatsby created an image of himself built on his shadow world of respectability – a precursor to the celebrity culture of today. Old money vs new money. Like Juliet or Zelda or Anna Karenina, Daisy Buchanan could never be his happy ending.
I was 23 in 1972, attending SUNY College at Purchase when I drove to one of those “cottages” in Rhode Island with a friend from the Dance Department to audition for the ballroom scene in The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. My friend Nadjia made the cut, they told me I “…didn’t look the part.” Little did they know that I was the daughter of a real Flapper, a Dime a Dance girl, who shimmied with Cab Calloway at a speakeasy. But then again, I didn’t know that either. My Mother kept a few secrets too.
When the Flapper was in her 80s, my brother Michael arranged for Cab Calloway to surprise her at a party on Lake Minnetonka. And I realized that my Mother must have felt very much the same way I did my whole life, the way Fitzgerald felt:
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“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

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