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Does wisdom really come with age?

Or is it just another word, in a cacophony of Tweets by this President, meant to deflect our slow but steady march to impeachment? Bob has been saying for days that starting a war would win him the next election. But after trying to tarnish his front-runner, Joe Biden, and watching Bernie Sanders succumb to an MI, maybe Mr T thinks abandoning our allies in Syria will turn the tide.

After all, we’re not talking Ukraine today.

Today, my 92 year old neighbor and friend, Berdelle, will be meeting up with 95 year old President Jimmy Carter to jockey a nail gun with Habitat for Humanity. Sporting a black eye and 14 stitches from a recent fall, this ex-President has more wisdom in his little finger than the current inhabitant of the West Wing. He arrived in Nashville yesterday with the much-needed rain:

“Country music singer Eric Paslay performed “Deep as it is Wide,” a song he penned about the hope for something bigger and better than us.

“In a land full of songwriters and singers, we’re always trying to say I love you in a different way,” he (Carter) told the Habitat volunteers huddled under a white tent and sheltered from the morning’s storms. 

“… It’s amazing how Habitat shows love to the world. You can say I love you, but when you go out with your hands and your feet, that’s the strongest way. You don’t even have to say anything.'”  https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/10/08/president-jimmy-carter-nashville-habitat/2432826001/

Actions do speak louder than words. And my way of showing love to my family has always been with my cooking. Ever since the temperatures have started to fall, I’ve been making soup. There’s just something about a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove that says comfort food. Since I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, yesterday I made the Bride’s special Peanut Soup! Mostly it’s carrots, onions and sweet potatoes, with a kick of ginger and peanut butter.

Bob delivered said soup to Ms Berdelle while they were planning a Fall garden. I had never heard of a “Fall garden,” planting vegetables like kale in October. My past Yankee experience was limited to planting bulbs in the Fall. Wisdom comes with so many lessons; love is in the details. Like spreading seeds and plants throughout your urban neighborhood. Like getting up when you fall, and fulfilling a promise to build homes in Nashville.

This is what true leadership and wisdom looks like.

Hands building homes instead of typing off Twitter tirades. I mean, if the Lords of Twitter can block you for hate speech, or trolling a celebrity, or showing your breasts, then why can’t our Golfer-in-Chief be blocked for spreading lies? He’s threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy, while polling for impeachment climbs to 58%. I was wondering what might convince his Republican comrades he’s run amuck.

The chaos Mr T’s Twitter feed has created is unmatched in history. I prefer to chop up the holy trinity of onions, celery and carrots for a soup base, and maybe add fresh sage for wisdom.

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I’m listening to Terry Gross’ interview with Bo Burnham, who wrote and directed “Eighth Grade,” his first feature film. He’s talking about social anxiety and social media and the confluence of our hyper-connectivity and how it’s different growing up today.

Burnham was an early YouTube star, in high school, performing his own satirical songs in his bedroom. The songs went viral, he went to MTV, and the rest is history.

‘The digital gap used to be between those people who grew up before computers and smartphones and those who were digital natives. Now, there’s a gap between those who grew up with Facebook and those who grew up with Snapchat and Instagram.’

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/27/680356663/director-bo-burnham-on-growing-up-with-anxiety-and-an-audience

The Rocker was born in 1984, and I vividly remember taking him out to a greasy spoon breakfast in Little Silver, NJ. We ordered Western omelets, with a side of their special waffle fries and bacon. A group of middle school boys drove up on their bikes, dropped them in the dirt and plowed into the restaurant giggling and pushing and shoving. They sat down in a booth and flipped open their phones. The Rocker looked me in the eyes and said,

“Ma, I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones in school.”

He was home from college for a break. Having breakfast together again was a ritual I’d been missing. As a toddler, I would happily make him breakfast number 1, and breakfast number 2, because his motor ran fast. The future Rocker was always hungry for action and adventure, but mornings were sacred. His big sister would go off to school and we would have a slow start to a jam-packed day.

If he ate a great morning meal, or two meals, then food for the rest of the day was optional. Remember, my foster parents belonged to the “Clean Plate Club.” Food battles would not define my parenting style!

I can also remember that day on our deck, overlooking the Blue Ridge, when the Rocker told me that Facebook was so over. He and Aunt KiKI signed me up for Instagram – she took my picture in a sun hat and he picked my moniker – it was love at first sight.

So who could blame me if I thought our L’il Pumpkin should be the next YouTube star?

Have you heard of Ryan, the 7 year old making gazillions of dollars opening up toys, screaming with delight, and playing with them? His mama started uploading his videos to YouTube when he was 4, and by last year he had made 22 Million dollars!

“What’s almost as baffling as the amount of money that Ryan has made before his eighth birthday is why today’s kids would rather tune in to watch another one play with toys than play with toys themselves. The answer, it seems, is that today’s kindergarten set lives vicariously through Ryan.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2018/12/03/how-this-seven-year-old-made-22-million-playing-with-toys-2/#1ecce4d54459

He’s had 26 Billion views on his channel, “Ryan Toys Review” and now he’s got his own toy brand at Walmart. He is a part of what’s known as “Unboxing” in advertising slang; people who film themselves opening mostly tech things and demonstrating how to use them.

The Bride looked at me with horror. Her child? A YouTube star?? I guess it is different for kids growing up today on social media. Their parents are on a spectrum of embracing technology with them, to becoming Luddites. Forging an identity online, counting followers to validate your existence, finding out you missed the big 8th grade party on Insta.

IF you could live your life without an audience, would your life still exist?

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I was watering my herb pots yesterday when I heard a distinct whirring sound, even Ms Bean was looking up. I knew the sheep were still in Tuscany, and so is Bob! Because as I write now, he is cleaning a vintage pasta machine our neighbor gave us; did you know that you cannot allow water to get into the steel gears? Google told us!

“Now I’m gonna make some spaghetti,” Bob said.

It’s difficult to write in the middle of an open concept townhouse. But back to the strange sound in the sky, I looked up to see a drone whizzing by and even though I was dressed in yoga/gym appropriate clothes, I felt distinctly vulnerable. Taking cover under the porch’s roof, I watched as the drone hovered very close to my herb garden – the parsley, pineapple sage, rosemary and thyme seemed to cower in technological despair.

I know that some realtors use drones for their sales, and even Google Earth may deploy one, or Amazon might start delivering small packages. Drones can bring death in other countries, or a new iPhone to our doorstep. In my jet-lagged state, I felt invaded. Can privacy honestly be a relic of past generations? Will that smart phone we palm become an imbedded portal to our brain, teasing us with targeted advertising all the time?

On the nine hour flight home I watched two movies and finished one book on my iPad. Maybe I was feeling twitchy because the book was Dan Brown’s latest, “Origin.” The acclaimed author of “The DaVinci Code” brings back to life the Harvard symbologist, Tom Hanks, whoops, Robert Langdon. Set in Spain, of course there’s a beautiful woman engaged to a prince but the most unlikely new hero is an AI named “Winston.”

What I find interesting in today’s context was the Loyalty (with a capital L) Winston the AI displayed to the scientist who built him – I had to ask myself, can a machine demonstrate loyalty, or can people write a code for that? The book revolves around the age-old argument of science/evolution vs religion/creationism and taught me more about Gaudi and in particular, his unfinished cathedral The Sagrada Familia, than I ever needed to know.

“Where are we from and where are we going?” is the central theme of the book, and as I watch the debate over Kavanaugh and the idiotic tour of North Carolina by Mr T asking about Lake Norman because he has a golf course there, I’m wondering the same thing. This president considers loyalty to HIM as sacrosanct, he doesn’t give a fig about where our country is headed or how our allies are increasingly isolated. And his followers seem to be OK with his contradictions, calling themselves good Christians while $260M is moved away from cancer and HIV/AIDS research to pay for the care and custody of 13,000 immigrant children – with 1,500 children HHS could still not locate!   https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/20/politics/hhs-shifting-money-cancer-aids-immigrant-children/index.html

When I asked Italians what they thought of Mr T, they said they liked him UNTIL he started separating children from their families.

Hate and Fear are powerful motivators, but I have to believe that Love is the best by far. So my New Year’s resolution is to spread some love around, like a drone flying overhead, surreptitiously. I will turn the other cheek, so to speak. We will make ravioli, and work to register voters and pray for a miracle in November.

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law will be enforced in the EU beginning today. It gives people “The right to be forgotten,” which I assume means you could wipe out all online information about yourself. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It is also quite a nuisance for American companies, since some of the biggest tech giants have their European headquarters in Ireland. But let’s face it, in an age when our Facebook data can be sold to Russia for their treasonous purposes, we’d all like to see “Privacy” right up there with Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms.

As we were driving home yesterday, Bob said that some electronic billboards will be set up to read your car’s license plate as you meander by, and then custom design ads for you! If you’re driving a Beemer, you’ll get a Tiffany ad – a Jeep might get an Orvis ad. Remember that Tom Cruise 2002 sci-fi movie Minority Report, where he plays a cop who gets the data about an intended murder, and so he arrests the guy?

I remember a scene in the movie where Tom’s walking down a street and the ads are changing as everybody passes them, it’s like that. Now.

But back to Ireland and the soul-searching companies like Google are faced with, here’s an answer: if the Irish vote to repeal the 8th Amendment that bans abortions in the country, then stay and change your privacy laws. Today is the vote. It’s that simple because women’s rights are human rights. Disney told the state of Georgia they would move production to another state if they didn’t comply with LGBTQ rights. Why can’t ethics become a major component of big business? When our governments fail us, capitalism may be able to right our ship.

And in other news about Tom Cruise, the Rocker just finished scoring original music with the theme song for Mission Impossible 6 Fallout. As a kid, I loved Mission Impossible, it was exciting and you never knew if someone was who they say they are. They might rip off a face mask and ta da! Like our Pumpkin tearing off his Hulk mask and showing off his muscles, transformation is a big part of the American Dream. But let’s face it, we are all changing – retiring, traveling, downsizing, aging – transforming our empty nests to at-home gyms.

“This message will self-destruct…” now that was one good privacy feature.

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Reddit bans guns sales. YouTube kicks gun fanatics off its site. Florida legislators have raised the age to 21 for buying your first gun, and on and on. Why is this different in our country’s national debate over common sense gun reform? It’s the messengers.

Teenagers have reframed the question; it’s not some esoteric debate about Second Amendment rights, they are simply asking not to be shot in their 5th period Chem class. And if you remember what it felt like to be 16, they actually think they can change the world!

I was 15 when JFK was shot. I was playing field hockey on a grassy high school lot when the milk man stopped to tell our gym teacher what happened; it’s forever embedded in my memory, even though there’s a Walgreens on that site today. We were all in shock, our parents and teachers were grieving. We didn’t see his brother Bobby and MLK’s assassinations in our future.

We didn’t know our generation was about to change the entire American culture with the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements. We didn’t even know about Vietnam, yet.

We walked out of high school over a dress code.

Today teens are digital natives. And Parkland students are leading the charge on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram to point out hypocrisy in all its many nuanced layers. The latest Associated Press poll tells us 7 out of 10 Americans want stricter gun controls. And look what happened just a few days ago, right after the Bride and her colleagues wrote a certain letter to the editor! http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/379563-republicans-agree-to-clarify-that-cdc-can-research-gun-violence

Republicans agree to clarify that CDC can research gun violence

And so it begins, your grand daddy’s rifle is NOT the same as an AR-15. #ENOUGH is enough and after tomorrow’s March For Our Lives in DC, I believe the momentum will continue. Country music fans and elementary students didn’t stand a chance. But high school students around the country are weaponizing social media, for the good of us all. If Facebook fueled the Arab Spring, imagine what this will do.

Maybe we should put these kids in charge of the Russian hacking problem? I have no doubt they would tell Putin a thing or two!   image

 

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Bob has returned from the sexiest city in the country. The Emergency Department Benchmarking Alliance (EDBA), a group that looks at ED performance, held their summit at Caesar”s Palace in Vegas! One of the young doctors at the conference told Bob that his book on ED management was her bible during her first tour as a director. Last night, Bob said he just doesn’t “get” that city, it’s all fake news. Plus, he doesn’t gamble.

We kissed hello, and I said goodbye. The Bride and I were off to a family forum at the Love Bug’s school on “Raising Sexually Healthy Children.” The Groom was still at his conference so I was invited, and of course I was the only Nana in the group. There were only a few dads; still, we represented a diverse range of opinions and concerns about sex. Ranging from the nitty gritty of “What and When,” to how can we keep them safe in the age of smart phones and social media.

My take-away for raising a sexually healthy adult (ie imagine your child at the age of 35, which of course, I didn’t have to do) is that you stay positive about anything they may ask  you. For instance, instead of immediately saying, “Where did you hear that?” in an accusatory voice, you begin a dialogue with your child. Staying available and open as a parent means they will keep coming to you for advice instead of their peers and/or porn. At least until they turn 16.

Ideally, you should present the facts to them in an age appropriate way.

Our culture has a way of making sex shameful. In fact when the Bride was young, she had exactly one year of sex ed in school, and it was all about STDs and HIV/AIDs. Bill Clinton and Ken Starr were duking it out when the Rocker was in middle school. One fundamentalist Christian mom looked at me and said, “We can thank our President for teaching our children about oral sex.” So I guess we can thank Mr T for teaching our grandkids what…?

Do you know what the average age of first sexual intercourse is in the USA? I didn’t! It’s 16.7; but I guess that depends on what the definition of “Is” is… The speaker recommended a book to start this journey on positive/holistic sexuality with your child titled, “It’s Not the Stork” by Robie H Harris for 4-5 year olds. If your child hasn’t been curious about sex by the age of 7, this is a good way to start the conversation.

The Groom returns home today triumphant! He was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine as the lead author in a study on the use of saline vs balanced crystalloids in the ICU. He’s been interviewed on our Nashville NPR station and the local news programs, and if that’s not sexy. I mean. It’s like winning the Oscar in medicine!

I remember the Bride twirling around at 3 in her twirly skirt, saying, “sexy” over and over again. I asked her what sexy means, and she said “Beautiful!”

My favorite flowering tree, the tulip magnolia, is in bloom and spring is in the air.  IMG_2318

 

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Lucky me. Bob and I are flying today and even though we traveled to DC to obtain a Global Entry pass, and we are TSA pre-checked, I was randomly selected for “additional screening.” Which means Bob sailed through the metal detector while I told the nice TSA guy I won’t be scanned in their machine and had to wait for the female pat-down agent.

Life is funny that way.

I was talking with Great Grandma Ada about the crossroads we take in our lives. She had the chance when she was newly married to Bob’s father, to move to a lake community in NJ and join a country club. Her friends were building something new because in those days almost all clubs were “restricted.” That meant no Jews allowed.

Because her father owned a small bungalow colony with a big Victorian house for her sisters and their families, she opted out of the lake house. And looking back, which we tend to do as we age, she wishes her sons had learned to sail on the lake.

Instead they made different memories – skating on the frozen pond with their grandfather and tending to a bountiful vegetable garden.

There were a number of crossroads in my life. The most important may have been when I decided to stay in NJ and work as a semi-social worker. I’d been dating a guy who was a friend of my brother, and he was heading to California for a doctoral program. I was living near that lake at the time, and he asked me to go with him.

My foster father Daddy Jim was dying and I said “No.” That’s when Ada saw me at the hospital, visiting my Dad every night. Driving back to the lake from Jersey City. And the rest is history.

If I were religious, I’d say nothing is random. If I were scientific, I’d say chaos is inevitable. I’m more of an agnostic, and I try to learn from the universe.

Here is a son teaching his 93 year old mother a few tricks on her iPad!  C35B0D13-F3DF-43D9-B59A-309A1AC9B1CF

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