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Posts Tagged ‘Charlottesville’

When the Rocker was in Middle School, we hopped a train into NYC to see Chicago. He brought a friend along and we had exceptional seats in one of the side boxes next to the stage. We could see the sweat on the dancers’ faces. And when they broke into the Cell Block Tango song “He Had it Comin,” I laughed till I cried.

Well this morning I just wanna cry in my coffee.

Though jet lag is behind me, the American news has been assaulting me daily. Mr T was a little too chummy with a Russian diplomat named Lavrov, the same guy Flynn resigned over, and the one guy left on the Hill with any credibility at all, HR MacMaster, is trotted out to deny any classified information was leaked – even though Mr T admitted/tweeted he had every right to do it, which he may have done, though who cares, right?

He had it comin so to speak…

He had it coming
He only had himself to blame.
If you’d have been there
If you’d have seen it
I betcha you would have done
The same!

Our President has been playing at his role, learning on the job, and demonizing the press. But this news today, allowing only Russian media into the Oval and then handing them classified information on ISIS, like a child showing his buddy the cute frog he just caught, is not only just damning, it’s possibly treasonous. To put it into Broadway lingo, he didn’t just break a leg, he shot himself in the foot. And he only …”had himself to blame.”

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.804daaaa5484

When will the GOP wake up and realize what is happening? When will they appoint an independent prosecutor? What about his Taxes?? Is anybody listening? We heard all about Hillary’s emails to Huma regarding creme brulee, but Mr T can fire his FBI Director for dubious reasons and keep playing at a reality show/game of How. Friggin. Much. Can. I. Get. Away. With…

In the musical Chicago, there was a guy named Alvin Lipschitz. He was very artistic and went out every night to “find himself.” Mona, one of the dancers in the cell block tango, didn’t take too kindly to all the women and men he found himself with, so she broke up with him, in the worst possible way. Her defense was artistic differences, and she swore he had it comin!

A free press will not be barred or barricaded away from this White House. We the people deserve an investigation into how Russia colluded with Mr T’s campaign to swing our election. He also has it comin – he should be facing impeachment hearings for his pure and utter incompetence.

Let’s just say we have irreconcilable artistic and public policy differences.

And just as a welcome back to Cville, this past weekend found a “white heritage group” bearing torches and chanting Nazi-like slogans at Robert E lee Park. Lots of guys in khaki and white button-down shirts with Confederate flags. We have some stylist differences as well. Hate speech has a free hand today, disguising itself as freedom.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/14/528363829/richard-spencer-leads-group-protesting-sale-of-confederate-statue

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Hold the applause and pass the champagne for our little coterie of writers in Cville. This past weekend I attended another writing workshop on Memoir at The Writer House. Our fearless leader, Sharon Harrigan, helped us dig into our past, crystalize our vision and discover a theme that might shape the story of a life. This town is a veritable estuary of literary types, it seems I have found my people!

Although I’m not crazy enough to think my life story gives me the right to run for President, for instance, I wondered if it’s worthy of a book, I thought that delving into my past could help me structure the fictional story I’ve been working on for years based on the life of my Flapper. You see, I didn’t really get to know my biological Mother until I moved in with her at the age of 12, and I never knew my birth Father. He died of a brain tumor when I was seven months old.

I could write a scene about the automobile accident three months later, on July Fourth weekend in 1949, our family’s Year of Living Dangerously, only through the eyes of my sister Kay. It might start like this scene in a drugstore in Scranton, PA:

Robert P. Norman’s name was emblazoned on the door and he was always happy to see us. I’m the oldest, and only girl at home, so I’m the sugar in his coffee. Only lately, Daddy was having trouble moving his left arm, and sometimes he had headaches, headaches that sent him stumbling towards his office in the back. I was heading there to see if he needed me when I heard my name.

She was fourteen at the time and is currently my living archive. She helped our Father pound chemicals into pills in the back of his pharmacy. After the accident, she was in a coma for a month. She had to care for me that summer and her brothers, and eventually the Flapper when she was discharged from the hospital, her dancer’s legs broken in so many places she would never walk normally again.

But first I had to get to know myself better. Sharon had us make a list of our quirks, which was a fun exercise and kept me busy jotting down things like:

  • “I need to keep my hair short, or I’ll twirl it all the time;”
  • “Small talk is painful, but I’m told I’m good at it;”
  • “Sleep will sometimes elude me for no particular reason;”
  • “I stop for stray dogs.”

I was getting discouraged, my quirks didn’t seem quirky enough. Then someone said we should ask a friend or family member to list our quirks. Genius!

“You have to load the dishwasher a certain way,” Bob said. Now that is true, and it did show up at the end of my list. I’ve even been known to return to a dishwasher only to reload it, if someone else was kind enough to “help” with the dishes.

I’m also pretty particular about hanging clothes out on a line. One of my very first memories is of getting stung by a bee under clouds of crisp white sheets floating above me on a clothesline.

And I love to dance. The Flapper signed me up for ballet at Phil Grassia’s studio in NJ. I chased a dream in high school and commuted to Martha Graham School in NYC to study modern dance. I continued to study all types of dance under Bill Bales at SUNY College at Purchase.

And when Bob, who never liked to dance, wouldn’t take me to our Junior Prom at sixteen, I asked our good friend Bernie. Because I was that girl who had two Mothers and was never afraid to ask for what I wanted. I guess that was pretty quirky in 1965.   Junior Prom 20151111

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The city of Charlottesville has been ordered to halt the enforcement of an ordinance that prohibits panhandling on parts of the city’s Downtown Mall… a federal judge Thursday ruled the ordinance violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

Back in the day, I used to have to rack my brain to think of something to give up for Lent. It would usually be something like soda, or pizza, or ice cream. It just didn’t count if it was something you didn’t like to begin with, like liver. And yes we were very literal, it was always some form of food. Nobody gave up playing basketball for instance. I’m guessing it was the Christian form of fasting, like Yom Kippur or Ramadan. We Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays all year long, then we’d get marked with Ash on Wednesday and asked to stop eating something we loved for 40 days leading up to Easter. Lots of sacrifice, that was us.

Call me crazy, but I’m trying to square this with a federal judge’s ruling about a City Ordinance that Charlottesville enacted in August of 2010. In an effort to appease the business owners on the Historic Downtown Mall, the city created buffer zones to restrict panhandlers/homeless people. The city’s attorney argued this was a safety issue, but Included in the ordinance which distanced solicitation from certain areas on the Mall, was language saying that they could not approach people for money.

Lo and Behold, an attorney representing five homeless people filed their appeal based on constitutional law – saying this restricted their right to free speech. And US District Judge Norman K. Moon agreed with them “The City offers insufficient justification (much less a good explanation) for the fifty-foot measurement of the so-called buffer zone,” he wrote in a 25-page opinion filed Thursday. “There are other laws that permit the City to protect the public safety.”  http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/judge-rules-charlottesville-s-panhandling-ordinance-is-unconstitutional/article_c2ed6ff2-b89e-11e4-a872-e391736e6826.html

In striking down this ordinance, people standing or sitting, holding cardboard signs asking for money with dogs and a duffel bag by their side, are now not only allowed to be wherever they please, they are allowed to approach anyone and ask for money. Because the ordinance was not broad enough, limiting the free speech of pan handlers alone and not, for instance, political petitioners. Since I was once on the Mall hawking my view about the Affordable Care Act, I get it. It does in fact appear discriminatory.

Yesterday, on my way to unfreeze a hot water pipe, I passed by a homeless man standing on the corner to the bypass. I could barely see him, he was covered in rags from head to toe and my car thermometer read 16 degrees. I wondered about his life, what brought him to that corner, and I was strangely glad he didn’t have a dog with him. Because it’s one thing to expose yourself to such weather, and I fantasized for a minute about asking him to get into my car, bringing him to a restaurant for a meal. But the light was changing and I didn’t stop, someone would have plowed into me.

The city has a program for the homeless in this weather, different churches open their doors. But do we follow up with housing for the mentally ill, developmentally challenged all year? Where are the social service programs helping families one rental payment away from eviction? What is the role of government? Let’s not ask what we should be giving up after Fat Tuesday, but how and what can we give back to our community. Existential questions require more than a lawsuit that will pay out a “six figure” sum to the lawyers and the homeless defendants who had their right to free speech violated. IMG_2160

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Months ago I heard about a nifty new strategy for robbers and thieves. They would roll up next to your car at the gas station, and while you’re busy filling up your tank with gas (just ignore this my NJ peeps, everyone else in the states has to pump their own gas) the bad guys will drive up next to the passenger side of your car, and in one swift move jump out, open up your door and boom, snatch your purse right off the seat! Seems like easy pickins, right? So I’ve been locking my car doors while gassing up ever since, just in case.

But one time in Nashville I didn’t see this hustle coming. The Bride was outside her car filling up the tank, while I stayed inside in front talking to the Love Bug in the back seat. All of a sudden there was a young girl at my open window telling me a sob story about how she had to get somewhere and just needed a few bucks for gas. Naturally I gave her a five dollar bill for gas, and later the Bride told me I’d been had. In retrospect, she did look like a meth addict, but hey.

But I was not surprised this past week. In the middle of my zombie/like/9hour/driving/trance on my way back from Nashville at a Sheetz, I was struggling with the monitor on a gas pump. It took my credit card info and I was about to enter my zip code when it asked me if I wanted a car wash??? Normally I’d press the “No” button – only there was NO “NO” button! So I’m trying to figure out how to get back to the initial screen, when all of a sudden a man who I can only describe as a lunatic is staring me right in the face.

With my car locked and only a gas hose between us, he starts telling me how he needs some money to get back to West VA!This guy, who looks like the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart, hauls a big red gas can up for me to see and what? fill it up for him? I can’t even get my own gas, which is what I start yelling at him – “I can’t get this damn thing to work, so NO…” and he gets out of my face in a hurry. Probably the first crazy Yankee nana he’s ever encountered! As I drive out of the Sheetz, I notice a beat-up van with a woman who looks like the wife of the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart sitting in its open door. She’s holding one of those cardboard signs with a message I didn’t read.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice? In retrospect, maybe I should have called the police. But I’d already called them on my drive to Nashville about an aggressive driver who almost ran a car off the road right in front of me. I didn’t need to become known as the interstate watchdog/vigilante/nana, so I found a Starbucks, which is like finding an oasis in the desert on that trip, and refueled my engine. One non-fat, Chai tea latte later, and I was home free.

"Yeah so then what happened?"

“Yeah so then what happened?”

They are searching in Orange County today for Alexis Murphy and another missing girl. The last place Alexis was seen was at a gas station. Maybe NJ has the right idea after all?

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In Nepal they have stopped searching a famous Himalayan trekking route for the hikers who went missing in a storm. Last week’s tragedy was unprecedented with 38 people dead, and still only 25 have been identified.

In Charlottesville, a city with a vibrant Nepalese refugee community because it is said our Blue Ridge is similar to their mountain home, another search has been called off. A team from Chesterfield County, near Richmond, found the remains of a body on a farm just a few miles from the area where Amanda Harrington was found, near Old Lynchburg Road.

In last night’s news conference, Chief Christopher Longo only said that he notified Hannah’s parents, but that it would be up to the medical examiner to identify the body. Forensic tests will be done and I can’t imagine that those parents will have to view the body, will have to look at her clothing or hold a piece of jewelry. But we all know this is Hannah. People that have signed up to search and deliver food to the volunteers today have been told they will not be needed.

I wonder if they have put a suicide watch on Jesse Matthews?

I wonder if the FBI will begin searching Walnut Creek Park with cadaver-sniffing dogs for the other missing girls?

I wonder if Matthews knew Randy Taylor who was convicted of Alexis Murphy’s death, without finding her body

Or will any other forensic evidence tie him to other unsolved cases? http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/12/us/virginia-murdered-daughter-familiy/index.html

I’ve been thinking about this, IF Matthews had been charged and prosecuted for those two rapes in two separate colleges, years ago, would we even be here? As a society we need to address the failure of our institutions, and our justice system in dealing with college sexual violence. Calling something “date rape” is purely a semantic way of demeaning attacks on young women, placing some blame on the victim because she may have been impaired. Our culture needs to stop ‘slut shaming’ our girls, using terms like “the walk of shame.” We need to empower our girls to use their voices, say their names, and prosecute rapists, even if it gets ugly.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/virginia-wesleyan-rape_n_5940404.html

hannah

Hike Cancelled

Today, on this beautiful crisp Fall Sunday, Bob is busy saving lives at his hospital. I think I will go the Mall where Hannah was last seen and find some Buddhist prayer flags for my deck. And I will support the Help Save the Next Girl Campaign in any way I can.  http://www.helpsavethenextgirl.com

 

 

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Imagine yourself fresh out of high school. Someone tells you that you can make 79 cents an hour, but he can’t tell you where, or what exactly you’ll be doing. It’s the middle of WWII, and your family had just survived the Great Depression; 79 cents an hour is really good money. Would you say goodbye to your family and friends, pack a suitcase and get on a train the next day?

Well, it’s the middle of the great Virginia Book Festival http://www.vabook.org/index.html/ and this glorious, spring-like afternoon I found myself at the New Dominion Bookstore on the historic Downtown Mall listening to Denise Kiernan talk about her book The Girls of Atomic City. I learned something new today. The race to build an atomic bomb wasn’t just happening in New Mexico. Over 80,000 people were assembled in Oak Ridge, TN – a town that was built for the sole purpose of enriching uranium. Only no girl knew exactly what they were doing there. All of their jobs were so well compartmentalized; plus they had been advised not to talk or write home about their work, or they would be fired. http://www.girlsofatomiccity.com/the_book.html

I wanted to ask her, after she explained how she had interviewed some of the surviving women now living in an assisted living community at Oak Ridge, if they felt any remorse when they found out what they had been working on, in their later years. But I didn’t because the bookstore was packed and I was squeezed under the stairs on a stool. I’m just going to have to read this book myself, and draw my own conclusions. Or maybe I’ll email the author and ask her!

I love the Book Festival, it’s quintessential Charlottesvillian. There was a beautiful carousel that was whirring in the middle of it all, and gown and town were mixing it up with alacrity. I bought the Love Bug a few books naturally, and visited with Anita and Skip who come over every year from Richmond. I told them how we had just seen the movie Monuments Men. I learned a few things during that movie as well. And who doesn’t love George Clooney? Plus his dad does a cameo at the end.

This was a week to go back in time, to the 1940s. Of all the programs so far this weekend, I can honestly say Ms Kiernan was the best. But I doubt I’ll be attending any other festival events because poor Bob has finally come down with that flu-like illness I mentioned earlier. Not to worry. I just made him some delicious Jewish chicken soup, he should be feeling better in no time.

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On a morning when most of the news involves the ecstasy of Russian Olympics and the agony of its bordering state, Ukraine (where the city of Kiev is about to implode), the ratio of 1:5 is what sticks in my craw. According to the White House, one in five women in college will be raped. I don’t know about you, but I found this to be rather alarming.

Equally infuriating is that one in three teenage relationships has experienced dating violence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26263171

Our little town has been singled out recently for two contradictory things: 1) Charlottesville has been voted the second most “Friendliest” small city in America http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/friendliest-small-cities/; and 2) the One Love Foundation has developed a new App to help students and their friends assess their level of dating danger http://www.joinonelove.org.

Just weeks before her graduation from UVA in 2010, lacrosse player Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Her mother and sister have started the One Love Foundation in order to address dating violence and educate students about the signs and symptoms of a relationship on the brink of chaos.

The “One” represents the number Yeardley wore on her jersey during her high school and college lacrosse career. The number has since been retired by the University of Virginia in her memory.

The Bride volunteered at a rape crisis center on her Duke campus. And I’ve just found out that my cousin Anita, in Richmond is being trained as a volunteer advocate for rape and abuse cases in her local hospital’s Emergency Department. I was surprised at my immediate reaction to this news; I was proud of her at once, while knowing deep down I could never do it.

It pains me to admit it, but I know I would want the women to immediately leave their abuser, to get a restraining order, to go into the witness protection program if need be and move to Arizona. I’d buy the plane ticket! This is most likely the same reason I could never see myself becoming a psychologist, like my MIL Ada or my brother Dr Jim, it’s just not in my DNA to suffer for days and weeks and years on end vicariously with patients.

It’s not that I don’t feel compassion for the abused, but I would have trouble feeling empathy. I cringed when I wrote this, so I had to look up the word – empathy “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” And I guess it’s true, because I myself would be the first one out the door if a man ever tried to hit or rape me, I can’t really identify with women who stay. I learned to love from my foster father Jim Mahon, and it never included a raised hand or a harsh word.

And I get that the abuse comes on slowly, that the abuser is so remorseful and kind after the incident and soothes his victim into thinking it will never happen again; he just has to stop drinking so much or she just has to make his eggs a certain way. I know it’s a slow insidious dance of death – if not physical, an emotional disconnect from her family and friends that strangles any hope of salvation.

I wonder if an App can help a victim understand she is in danger, or can it help one of her friends in our friendly city to alert her parents or a counselor? If it can, then I applaud One Love, which means more than just a number on a jersey. If we never learn to cherish and love ourselves, we can never expect others to do the same.

yeardley

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