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Last year, we traveled to Italy with a group of our old friends. I wrote about the sheep bells and the wine tasting; it was by far one of our best adventures. But you probably didn’t know that Bess, our chief archivist and amazing photographer, was the editor of our high school yearbook back in 1966. Underneath my senior school picture was a quote, “Where’s Bobby?”

It was funny at the time. Teenage Bob was a bundle of energy, always on the move. His knee like a jackhammer under my desk in French class.

This year it appears that dredging up old yearbooks is trending. I first cringed at the suggestion, in Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS hearing, that one of the girls in another Catholic prep school was an “alum” of most of the boys in his class. So we learned that he and his cohorts objectify women, and love to drink beer. It was all there in black and white, not just in his yearbook, but on every calendar he kept locked away in a drawer.

I get the embarrassment of our teenage selves. When my kids came home with their high school yearbooks I was usually not “allowed” to look at them. It wasn’t so much what was printed on those pages – the Rocker was voted “Most Changed” because he came in like a little surfer dude and left like a heavy metal rock star. Instead, it was the impromptu pen to paper musings of their friends and so-called friends, the doodles and yearnings of years of adolescent angst.

But we all went to school in NJ. Is the South still grappling with our nation’s collective scar of slavery?

VA’s Governor Ralph Northam handled his shameful, KKK and blackface medical school yearbook picture poorly. First, he sort of apologized, and then he said, “It wasn’t me.” The wistful Michael Jackson moment was tone deaf! Then yesterday, I read that VA’s Attorney General Mark Herring has said he wore “brown makeup” to a party.

What is going on in my lovely state of Virginia?

I asked the Bride if she still has her medical school yearbook. After all, she went to UVA and Duke undergrad in NC, maybe I could find a clue. Are elite Southern schools still harboring a vestige of white ‘good ole boy’ entitlement? Northam graduated from med school over thirty years ago, I was eager to compare. Unfortunately, if there was a yearbook for the Bride and Groom’s class, they never got one.

Stacey Abrams from Georgia countered Mr T’s State of the Union this week with this: “We continue to confront racism from our past and in our present, which is why we must hold everyone from the highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds and call racism what it is, wrong.” 

We are living in a transparent world, anything you might want to know is just a Google moment away from our fingertips. Horrible, racist, anti-semitic, misogynistic words that were once uttered behind restricted, whites-only doors, and sometimes found their way into yearbooks, are once again finding fruitful soil in our great country under the guise of “America First.”.

The image of hateful men wearing white shirts and khaki pants, holding tiki lights and shouting, “You shall not replace us,” on Thomas Jefferson’s campus has been seared into my memory. The confederate statues In Charlottesville are still standing.

For a more visceral understanding of our racial history, I’d like to recommend a book, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi. It is not an easy book to read, I finished it on vacation; it covers 300 years of the African American diaspora and follows two half-sisters, one captured and sold into slavery, another who stayed behind in Ghana. https://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/480477931/homegoing-is-a-sprawling-epic-brimming-with-compassion

Until we can achieve true socio-economic justice for all our citizens, until black mothers can stop having “the talk” with their sons about racial profiling, until images of the Jim Crow South can be placed within the context of what it was, a vile chapter of our history, until every single monument to the confederacy is placed in a museum,.. only until then will we be able to reconcile our past with our present.

Dig up your old yearbooks, they are a time capsule into our souls.

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“Green deck for landing, conditions CAVU.”

John McCain’s son Jack tweeted a tribute to his Dad this morning – conditions are great, “Ceiling and visibility unlimited!” Jack is a Navy lieutenant, a helicopter pilot who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009. The military is in their blood, and flying into danger was part of their family legacy. Now that the great Senator from Arizona is being laid to rest, his service to our country stands in stark contrast to the current occupant of a gold (whoops, “golf”) course in Bedminster, NJ.

As many of you know, Bob is a private pilot. Although he’s never landed a fighter jet on the prow of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, I like to think I could trust him to land a passenger plane if needed. He likes to follow our flights around the globe on his iPad. I may be reading my Kindle all scrunched up in coach while he happily points out our descent and predicts what runway our Southwest pilot will land on, depending on the wind of course.

Flying around in his old four-seater Piper Arrow, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw those three green lights on the console light up, meaning the wheels were down – a very important part of the approach pattern. Kind of like having a green deck for landing!

Yesterday I asked Bob where he was on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed on the Moon. We had broken up in college, and he was planning a trip to Woodstock. I was living in a basement apartment in Cambridge, MA with a roomie named Alicia. His parents were away on a trip, and there were lots of friends crashing at Great Grandma Ada’s house on a hill. I asked him if he remembers calling me then, during the moon landing. It’s strange the memories our brains choose to store and those that fall away.

We were reminiscing because I’d played the first trailer of the Rocker’s new company, TOTEM. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/movies/first-man-trailer-ryan-gosling.html

Bob isn’t on social media so I have to keep him up to date with the millennials in our lives. Our son did the sound design and music for the trailer of the film “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong landing on the Sea of Tranquility, taking that first small step. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html

Flying into the unknown, into clouds or out of earth’s orbit, takes courage and training, knowing a thousand different variables could go wrong. Starting your own business today takes a leap of faith and a lot of talent. And while staying calm under pressure is a reasonable trope for men and women who choose aviation as a career, it could also be said for young entrepreneurs. An image of a Tesla in space comes to mind!

In fact, this morning astronauts on the International Space Station are having to deal with a leak probably caused by a tiny high-speed meteorite. How did they find it? By passing a finger along the wall. How did they fix it temporarily? Using a sealant and duct tape! https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45364155

So big congratulations to my son and his partners in TOTEM. Your parents are over the moon happy and proud of you! https://www.totemmx.com

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“What you’re seeing is not happening…”

Well, I thought to myself, now THAT’s rich! Mr T was speaking to a group of veterans, he actually told them not to believe anything they see or read! Coming from our Serial-Liar-in-Chief, I could only hope my suspension of disbelief will hold out, at least until November. Because, “Winter is Coming.”

And who knows, in this Hall of Mirrors Presidency, if Putin is coming here with his cyber-security force, or Mr T is going there. But it feels as if we are stuck in a midsummer nightmare with indictments raining down and audio tapes stuck on rewind. And worst of all, the possible nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court, which would swing the pendulum to the right – I can only hope the federal appeals judge will face an extremely rough confirmation fight.

Because while Latin American countries and even Ireland have started to repeal their archaic laws banning abortion, the US has slowly and insidiously been restricting women’s rights for years. In the last decade 29 states have introduced laws restricting a woman’s access to an abortion, either by overt TRAP laws that make clinics close because they cannot comply with their regulations, or covert laws that make a woman view the untrasound and wait a certain number of days.

Read up on the anti-abortion zealot Judge Kavanaugh https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/brett-kavanaugh-roe-v-wade-697634/

I’m only in the middle of the first season of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but it seems that dressing up as a mix of the nuns at Sacred Heart School and St Joseph Camp for Girls and Little Red Riding Hood has become a thing! And it’s not just in the good ole USA to protest abortion restrictions in Ohio, or a visit to Philly by Vice President Pence.

Red-coated women are popping up all over the world to fight for our human rights.

The Handmaids are marching in Croatia, Northern Ireland, and England. They stand in silence in Poland and Argentina. Their white-bonnet heads are bowed in Italy, where abortion is legal but70% of doctors refuse to perform the procedure due to their Catholic faith. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-44965210

I wish I didn’t believe this MAGA movement, this dystopian disruption of everything we progressives hold dear. But when the GOP tells you who are they are, believe them. And since a bunch of conservative Republicans could impeach a president for pulling down his pants in the Oval Office, and then lying about it, what are they waiting for now? Mr T is a serial liar, only it’s not about sex mind you, or maybe it iskinda – it’s not all about payoffs to porn stars and knowledge of Russian help in the election; it’s about collusion and obstruction of justice.

The same conservative Cville blogger who left court this week yelling anti-Semetic epithets at reporters on Town Square, has filed a petition to hold another “Unite the Right” march in DC next month on the anniversary of Heather Heyer’s murder. A young woman who wanted to spread compassion and peace. A modern day martyr.

Next month is the Rocker’s birthday, and then Bob’s and the Love Bug

Next month the Great Grands will go on a Cumberland River cruise

Next month I will have a patch of squamous cell carcinoma dug out of my hand

And next month, I’m hoping this midsummer nightmare will end.

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When I was the Rocker’s mini-league soccer coach, my brother Mike told me that soccer will never take over American Football in popularity. Of course wrecking cranes were tearing down the Berlin Wall at the time, and nobody would have predicted that either. However, the 2018 World Cup fever was electrifying and made me wonder just how viewership compared with the Super Bowl.

My whole family was cheering for France to win, and when they did “Mon Dieu!”

Then I happened to see a clip of the Daily Show where Trevor Noah, who is South African, congratulated “Africa” on the World Cup. I thought it was pretty funny, which is the point, but Oh La La, that hit a nerve in France. The French ambassador to Washington, Gérard Araud, wrote to the network saying Mr Noah had “misunderstood” the cultural model of his country. Well, either that or Mr Araud has no sense of humor.

Immigrant or first generation, like Great Grandma Ada who was born in Brooklyn to parents fresh off a boat from Russia, when is it OK to identify oneself as an American, or a French man or woman for that matter? In light of Mr T’s latest ploy, reminiscent of McCarthy era tactics, to denaturalize American citizens, to eliminate birthright citizenship and ship these children off to their parents’ countries by executive order, it would seem to be a timely question.

Declaring a person stateless isn’t really new; it was initially how the Nazi government was formed by stripping “certain” people of their rights.

In 1922, Albert Einstein said in a speech in Paris: “If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/world/europe/mesut-ozil-germany-soccer.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=5&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F07%2F23%2Fworld%2Feurope%2Fmesut-ozil-germany-soccer.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

This morning I read about a German soccer player who quit his national team because of racism. Mesut Ozil had the bad judgement to pose for a picture with the Turkish leader, President Erdogan, and then performed poorly at the World Cup. He wrote on Twitter, “I’m a German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.” Ozil was born in Germany.

Let’s not forget that Mr T got his start in the game of politics by questioning President Obama’s citizenship, and by fomenting fear of immigrants. He tweets absurdities about NFL players who choose to take a knee on their field of dreams.

My midsummer night’s dream is to register as many new voters as I can, naturalized or otherwise born in the USA, in order to reverse our country’s slide into the MAGA dustbin of history. Great Grandma Ada made this necklace with carved African totem beads, Russian amber, and turquoise from the American Southwest – our diversity can only enhance our politics, and our sports teams!

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Videotapes?

As pundits are aTwitter over Mr T’s comments in Helsinki – and don’t get me wrong, they were outrageous, even traitorous – on Monday a 29 year old Russian spy named Maria Butina was arrested, or should I say indicted and taken into custody by a federal grand jury. She’s a pretty young thing, with as luck would have it, red hair. And one of the things mentioned in the slew of papers is that she attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast. TWICE.

The National Prayer Breakfast was initiated in 1953 by a Methodist minister, Abraham Vereide, who had been leading Congressional prayer groups for a decade. The annual breakfast now attracts close to 4,000 participants and is hosted by members of Congress. But the real force behind the event remains Mr. Vereide’s Fellowship Foundation, also known as “The Family,” whose fundamental mission is to create a ruling consortium of Christ-centered political and community leaders. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/opinion/maria-butina-putin-infiltration.html

Interesting right? To read about the far-reaching effects of this secretive, leave no notes behind “Family,” I give you this: “The Secret Political Reach of the Family” https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120746516

It’s enough to make a conspiracy theorist out of me! Remember that men-only/drum/circle/weekend/campout President Underwood attended in House of Cards on Netflix? That series was getting stale mostly because our reality star president was thought to be more entertaining. When he threw a soccer ball via Vlad like a hot potato to Melania on Monday, I was wondering if the secret service had pre-approved the move. And if Baron would actually ever hold that ball.

But why ask Vlad if he would deport those 12 Russian agents to America, when he already offered to send over his special cyber-security team to help us out. I hope the State Department confiscated Butina’s passport.

The intersection of a world-wide anti-LGBTQ agenda (fueled by nationalist extreme Christian right politicians) with lobbying efforts of the NRA has resulted in the spectacle we saw in Helsinki. Mr T is in Russia’s pocket, and it’s lined with sable, or maybe chinchilla? And if he’d like the American people to believe he “misspoke” about believing Putin had nothing to do with the hacking of over 500,000 votes… I am reminded of the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Only in this case, I’m hoping there’s an independent voter who can spot a sociopathic liar in Finland.

Meanwhile, back in the Music City, I’ll be going to the museum today with the Bride, the Bug, Great Grandma Ada and our newly-found friend Kathy – the redhead will be in pre-school!

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We all know someone who is an expert at “Denial” – that psychological coping strategy that allows you to keep moving, to soldier-on despite obstacles both real or imaginary. That person who nevercatches a cold. Or maybe the one who insists on going river-rafting right after a death in the family. Jewish people know that would never do, you must sit around someone’s home for a week and sing the praises of the dearly departed; it’s called sitting shiva.

Well Great Grandma Ada just sat shiva for herself before moving to Nashville. She left rehab with a walker and a host of friends and family that wanted to send her off with a party every day. It was exhausting I’m sure, but everyone brought cake and goodies and regaled her with their fondest memories. She told me she got to go to her very own shiva and she’s right. Sitting atop a hill scattered with boulders, Ada accepted the accolades with aplomb. Like a Queen.

We are happy she’s here with us, her Southern family, and I really think she loves her new digs even though we are still in the midst of building some new Amazon-delivered furniture. A gorgeous daybed for her art studio/second bedroom, an entertainment unit for the living room. If you recall, she once told me to “Dress for dinner” in Yiddish, which means pick yourself up and hold your head high no matter what is happening.

Which is kind of like denial…

But I’d never heard of a “non-denial denial” until I read this article about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has perfected the art of dodging and weaving around the White House Press Corps. She’s been asked if it was true that she was leaving her job as Press Secretary? This is what she told the Twitter bird:

Does @CBSNewsknow something I don’t about my plans and my future? I was at my daughter’s year-end Kindergarten event and they ran a story about my “plans to leave the WH” without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS

Now the Bride happens to have a Kindergarten graduate at home this summer, and when she’s working her extended family take over some school activities. In fact, the Groom is now attending a special Father’s Day event at the Pumpkin’s pre-school! So excuse me for wondering about a Kindergarten graduation, especially when Sanders doesn’t actuallydenyshe’s quitting…

Yet she does not say that the report is inaccurate. She just says she did not talk to the reporter before the piece was published.

As David Cay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump, says, she is using a communications strategy that her boss, the president, often relies on.

“Her denial is: ‘I don’t know anything about this.’ She doesn’t say: ‘I’m not leaving’,” Johnston explains. “It’s what we call a non-denial denial.“”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44479635

This administration is very tricky, those are Trumpian tactics. Say something outrageous and deny you said it, and refer it to somebody else, and hope reporters forget about it with all the rest of the garbage your minions are spreading.

Meanwhile, back at the Grands new apartment, we have many more boxes to go through, because 50 years in one house creates many tchotchkes (aka trinkets, knickknacks, vintage items).  And even though Bob is at the opposite side of the tchotchke spectrum, I cannot deny their appeal. In fact, the more pillows, the merrier! The needlepoint elephant my sister Kay made, and the parrot is from the South of France.

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Resolved: That I will march with women and like-minded men until:

  • Women everywhere receive equal pay for equal work
  • Our reproductive rights are no longer threatened
  • Women make up 50% of the House AND the Senate
  • Women are appointed to the Supreme Court and Federal Judgeships in equal number
  • The ERA is passed; Women’s Rights are Human Rights
  • Rape, sexual harassment and physical and/or emotional abuse are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – and YES, we know the difference between a “bad date” “consent,” “enthusiastic consent” and sexual misconduct.
  • Women of every color, indigenous Native American and LGBT women are no longer marginalized
  • We stop sexualizing young girls in the entertainment industry and end sex trafficking

Yes, I’ve been at this a long time. Writing about it, donating to progressive candidates, arguing with others and begging people to go out and vote for our democracy to survive.

My Nana couldn’t vote when we women won that right because she was married to an “illegal alien” aka an Irishman fresh off the boat. I felt the sting of patriarchy as a college student, unable to purchase that new birth control pill, because I wasn’t married. I marched in 1978 for the ERA, and I marched with Planned Parenthood when the Bride was 12. I marched last year in DC and I marched this year in Nashville. And to be honest, I’m getting pretty damn tired of all this marching.

But the pendulum will swing back, way back. Because we women are a great force, we are life-giving and life-affirming. And we cannot be stopped. Notice our little basketball player in pearls.

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