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Extra extra, read all about it! I’ve been reading about the comparisons to Steubenville for awhile. So it comes as no surprise that A) Anonymous has taken up the plight of two young girls in Maryville, Missouri and 2) the alleged rapists are football players. What is surprising, besides our government being open for business this morning, is that the Nodaway County Prosecutor who dismissed the case, has now asked the court for a special prosecutor to review the facts.http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/16/us/missouri-rape-case/

Nodaway County, nod.away, could the name get any more Shakespearian?

I won’t bore you with the facts as we know them so far. Except for the fact that the encounter was filmed, in a similar vein to Steubenville, but the video was erased that same evening and evidently cannot be retrieved. Maybe these football players are smarter than their Ohio counterparts…maybe the detectives at “Law and Order, SVU” should be called in? I’m not going to reiterate my previous opinions – that “NO” means “no” and  “…a rape is a rape is a rape, no matter who you are or where you live.” https://mountainmornings.net/2013/01/04/a-rape-is-a-rape/

What I do want to focus on here is the Holy Grail of high school, football. Because it’s usually not the captain of the chess club who finds himself hauled into court over a sex crime is it. I was reading a fascinating article about our American obsession with sports on the bike the other day, I know, the irony. Still, Amanda Ripley of the Atlantic makes an excellent argument against school sports in her article “The Case Against High School Sports.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/10/the-case-against-high-school-sports/309447/

Sports are embedded in American schools in a way they are not almost anywhere else. Yet this difference hardly ever comes up in domestic debates about America’s international mediocrity in education…When I surveyed about 200 former exchange students last year, in cooperation with an international exchange organization called AFS, nine out of 10 foreign students who had lived in the U.S. said that kids here cared more about sports than their peers back home did. A majority of Americans who’d studied abroad agreed.

This is required reading for everybody since Ripley dares to expose the tax money we Americans spend on athletics, which includes coaches, buses to away games etc (instead of say, math) and the culture that goes along with an adoration of the body and not the mind. She shows us what happens when administrators  in failing schools actually suspend sports – surprise, discipline reports go way down, while teachers’ salaries went up along with their students’ academic scores.

And here is my last lesson. As the budget talks are stalled on the Hill in a Hail Mary pass from a team of women Senators, and before we start slashing music and art budgets in public schools around the country, I think every single school board member from Albemarle to Marin County should find out exactly how much their district is spending on sports. Subs usually are hired for the days a teacher travels to a game, finding and maintaining playing fields can be costly. There are insurance costs and athletic supplies and trainers, a sports budget can also hide under other line items, you’ll have to dig deep.

Schools have been known to spend a quarter of a million dollars to install and maintain a running track around a football field. I know.

Because at the end of the day, if we want to compete on a global level and we want our daughters to feel valued, we may have to revisit a creeping patriarchy that began with private schools at the turn of the last century. The fear of new immigrants led Teddy Roosevelt to say about the American Boy – “Hit the line hard; don’t foul out; don’t shirk.” He should have added, don’t rape.

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Yesterday afternoon, a little boy was visiting so I turned on the TV to find the Disney Channel. Up pops CNN with a rugged, red-faced swimmer leaning on the arms of others, and everyone in my living room was instantly transfixed, even the three year old. We leaned in to hear her words, and in the middle of her second message (or “rules for life” let’s call it) our satellite went out. Maybe I didn’t hear her words in real time, but Diana Nyad spoke to me online with her three rules. I figured if a woman my age could swim from Cuba to Key West, I could listen to her.

I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.

This woman swam for 53 hours, without a shark cage and with only a silicone mask for her face at night to protect her from jelly fish. But what really got me, even beyond the fact that this was her FIFTH try to swim 110 miles, was that her strokes-per-minute never varied, she was a slow and steady 50 strokes per minute!

We’ve all heard of inspiration boards on Pinterest, and inspirational speakers who like to talk about their time as dare-devil Navy pilots landing on aircraft carriers at sea with only a 500′ runway. Yes, I sat through that one. But an inspirational swimmer, now that’s something!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/02/diana-nyad-swim-cuba-florida-complete_n_3856821.html

I just read about a woman who has a picture of Joan of Arc in her bedroom, she figures if Joan could change the course of history before the age of 18, she should be able to get out of bed.

I’m hanging a picture of Diana Nyad on my study wall. So what if I torqued my spine in water aerobics, so what if my yoga studio closed its doors, so what if my knee sounds like crepe paper. No more excuses! After all, if Nyad could swim from Cuba to Florida, I can…what? Dance again, maybe like the Flapper did after our Year of Living Dangerously. One beautiful stroke at a time.

Perseverance is a critical quality. Like the Love Bug crawling every day to the dog’s water bowl even though she finds the door to the mud room closed most of the time. She gets out of her giraffe chair, puts on her goggles and dashes across that kitchen floor in the blink of an eye. IMG_1786Still, she crawls. I think of Maya Angelou’s inspiring words:

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”

Diana Nyad

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I was listening to a program on the plight of the helicopter parent vis a vis sleepaway camp. One would think that summer presents the opportunity for a reprieve; parents might relax and let go just a little. Instead, camps today employ photographers who are tasked to just wander around the campgrounds taking pictures of kids being kids – preferably happy and smiling campers – to be immediately uploaded to said camp’s social media pages! And so the phone calls begin to camp directors: “Why is junior’s shirt so dirty, didn’t he get my care package?” Or worse yet, “Why are there no pictures of my kid?”

For many years, I dreamed of my camp experience. These were my most cherished memories. I attended Camp St Joseph for Girls at the age of ten for a full 2 months, and went back every year until I was finally a counselor-in-training (CIT) and waterfront boating and canoeing counselor on the lake my 16th year. In the years before Title IX, this was the one place that allowed me to excel at sports. It may be hard to imagine, but PE at Sacred Heart School consisted of jumping jacks next to our desk, when we weren’t practicing hiding under them in case of a nuclear attack.

Most school days found me just sitting at my desk, hands folded carefully in front of me, counting the bricks in the wall of a car dealership across the street, and the days left until summer, dreaming  about camp. About the first frozen chill of the crystal clear lake water, about the sound of jacks being played on the cabin’s porch floor, about the pungent smell of the auditorium at a basketball game. And about nuns singing Ave Maria in a sun dappled procession to Mary’s Grotto in the woods.

It was a place to forge friendships, to be empowered when I was shuttling back and forth between two homes. I guess I was sent there since the Flapper had to work, because in those days, only kids from “broken” homes or those who’s parents were so wealthy that they were always flying around the world went to sleepaway camp. So it was a mix of the well-to-do with the down-and-out. And at camp, we were all equal, our best and only competition was the color of the team we played for, each year.

We never received phone calls or packages from home. I might have been homesick the first week a little, but I don’t remember that. My only memory is crying my eyes out at the end of each season. I never wanted camp to end. One day was set aside for Parent’s Day, I remember one summer the Flapper bringing her new husband, the Judge.  We were  expected to perform our duties raising the American flag, horse back riding, shooting arrows, playing tennis or basketball – my personal favorite. The nuns were large and in charge, no one would dare ask for special treatment. We went to mass every morning of every beautiful day.

Camp was a haven, the one place in a changing world that expected the best of its girls, where the rules were clear and laughter was the our constant companion. Here is a montage of the few pictures I could muster up this morning, One at an ice cream parlor, a treat with the Flapper outside of camp. She is standing in the dark sweater, while I’m petting a puppy. I wonder if 11 year old girls today like having their pictures posted all over Facebook from camp? I feel sorry for parents who can’t let go, and let their children grow up.

I am 16 in the picture with the flip, and the confidence you can see is all due to Camp St joseph. Just don’t ask me about the altar boys, and the golf course between the boys and girls camp…

CLR Montage Web 20130808

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Women are making history left and right. Today Rosie Napravnik, a 25 year old Jersey girl, may just be the first woman jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. When she started out as a teenager, she was told to list herself as “A R Napravnik” in 2005. “A trainer suggested that listing so as not to advertise she was female and perhaps diminish her opportunities to get mounts. He said, ‘We can’t let anybody know that you’re a girl.'” Even after Julie Krone won a Triple Crown race in 1993 by finishing first at the Belmont Stakes; Rosie still had to go all Victor Victoria.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/jockey-rosie-napravnik-aims-to-be-first-female-jockey-to-win-kentucky-derby-aboard-mylute/2013/05/03/c0320c98-b3c1-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

And for another first, an American woman has landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List. Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur) was a Black Panther and later a leader in the Black Liberation Army. In 1979 she fled to Cuba after making a daring prison escape. She was serving a life sentence for her involvement in a police officer’s death on the NJ Turnpike. “The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1m (£640,000) for information leading to her capture, while the state of New Jersey is separately offering another $1m. FBI agent Aaron Ford said that the agency would ‘pursue justice, no matter how long it takes.'” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22397295

I’m figuring she must be a grandmother by now. In her defense, Chesimard argued that she was shot with her hands up in the air, and so she didn’t – or couldn’t – pull the trigger. The medical evidence seemed to validate her view of that fateful traffic stop. She was shot in the right arm and collarbone: “Dr. David Spain, a pathologist from Brookdale Community College, testified that her bullet scars as well as X-rays supported her claim that her arms were raised, and that there was “no conceivable way” the first bullet could have hit Shakur’s clavicle if her arm was down.” Still, in NJ to be an accomplice in a shooting is enough to be found guilty.

So all my feminist hackles have been raised this week, a first running in the Derby and a first to run from the law… and live. And I thought I’d share a chuckle from an editor at Upworthy, a talented young writer I’ve started to follow on twitter. Rebecca Eisenberg writes a blog called “Never Sarcastic.” She tweeted

“How to dress for your shape? Are you human-shaped?” which led to one hilarious riff back and forth regarding women’s magazine headlines. This was one of mine: “How to get a hot body? Run outside or take a hot yoga class.” http://ryeisenberg.tumblr.com/post/48204810905/agentotter-islandofmisfitt0ys

“Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body!” And RUN Rosie RUN!
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Yesterday brought me to tears, unexpectedly. I was replying to a friend on Facebook who had told me that her daughter was moving to Nashville, when I noticed a new tweet from Carol Costello of CNN about the bombing in Boston. Boston, my first foray into adulthood: attending Emerson College on Beacon Street; taking the MTA to Harvard Square for a Garbo festival; watching the swan boats in the Boston Common; walking to Filene’s Basement.

When Bob and I married, he accepted an offer in the Berkshires because I felt like a New Englander at heart. I wanted to go back, our children were born in MA. Bob was running the medical tent at the Josh Billings Memorial Run (aground) when the Bride was born. He tended to the usual ailments of elite and weekend athletes. He even entered a few marathons as well back then, when his back was cooperating. Last night as we watched an interview of yet another ER doctor, he said, “I know him.”

“From the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)?” I asked, since he was the MA chapter president. “No,” he said, “from Shock Trauma.”

This morning I am trying to make some sense of this horror. But the reporter in me gets frustrated. There are too many news organizations swarming over those historical cobblestone streets. Everybody wants a new lead to the story. It’s so close to the WACO anniversary, so maybe it’s a domestic terrorist. They are searching an apartment in Revere of a Saudi nationalist. And always the same question, why?

Does it matter if the “reason” is domestic, anti-government terror, or jihadi fundamentalism? One racist, religious group wanting to avenge a perceived danger in the US vs another racist religious group trying to dominate the Middle East? They both think God is on their side, and there is no reasoning with someone like that. Asking why makes no sense. An 8 year old boy died yesterday because?

Today is the 6th anniversary of the VA Tech shooting. It’s a reminder that violence is a thread that runs through every state, every country. Boston, our hearts are with you as you heal from this. Sandy Hook, our souls are forever yours, and Blacksburg, we are still in mourning. Yesterday I felt helpless, in the same way I felt when the planes hit the Twin Towers and I heard there was one heading for DC where the Bride had just started her new job. Tears came spontaneously, because now we are all Americans, united in every city, on every street corner. Here is the MIT green building sitting across the Charles River last night.
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There is a time for FIRSTs
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And TEN toes
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To lay back in the END ZONE
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Due to UNNECESSARY CUTENESS
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