Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Atlantic’

Growing up, I was always told it’s unbecoming “for a girl” to show anger. In fact, one of my earliest memories was getting angry at my foster parents for one thing or another, running into my bedroom, slamming the door and turning the crucifix around on the wall above my bed. After all, I didn’t want Jesus to see me like that!

But later, as a young feminist, I learned to appreciate and harness my anger. Why should I have to come home earlier than my brothers? Facing any injustice, I would tap into that feeling, because I knew that it was like the wind before a storm. And after a storm, the air would be pure and clean.

Well I hate to admit it, but I’m getting angry again, just like everybody else who’s been paying attention. And it’s not only at cable news and social media or our Liar-in-Chief. This past week Bob and I attended 2 “holiday” ie Christmas parties… and  our local Planned Parenthood Center has stopped providing abortions:

In a statement, Aimee Lewis, the Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Development Officer for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi said: “We are 100% committed to meeting our patients’ family planning needs in Nashville, including abortion services. We believe that the ability to control fertility is fundamental to human health and well-being. We believe that your body is your own, and when it isn’t, you can’t be free, and you won’t be equal.”

They believe that statement, and I believe it to my core, except the clinic’s reasoning has been obscure – they are no longer accepting appointments for abortions since they are doing some quality control “…and will return with those services soon.”

Meanwhile the lovely state of TN has a 48 hour waiting period requiring 2 trips to a clinic. This is a costly and overtly Republican ploy to shame and humiliate women seeking such services. Nashville women will have to travel to Memphis or Knoxville twice.

And last night driving home from the Grands, I heard an ad on the radio about a convenient website for men seeking Erectile Dysfunction drugs – they could avoid the embarrassment of talking to a doctor by simply clicking on this wonderful website!!! A whole month of little blue pills will be delivered discreetly in the mail! How wonderful for men. I was almost surprised it wasn’t an App already.

So I say to myself, yes there will be more women in Congress next month. Michelle Obama wrote a wonderful book. The Love Bug told me she’s glad she’s a girl cause she won’t have to shave her face! Every night I list all the things I’m grateful for because I know that anger can consume you if you’re not careful.

The Atlantic published a compelling essay on the universal rage we Americans have been feeling for far too long. If the holidays seem a little too jovial about now, this might be required reading, “The Real Roots of American Rage” by Charles Duhigg:

Cable news, Twitter, politicians who now do more campaigning than governing—their every incentive is to keep us angry. But we own some of the guilt, too.

I’m not proud to admit that I know what it feels like to relish seeing an opponent get his comeuppance. I profess to hate what cable news is doing to the national conversation, but I still tune in. I decry the nasty discourse on Twitter, then check back the next hour to refresh my outrage. I deplore the nation’s rank partisanship, but I rarely split my ballot.

My anger has become a burden. Perhaps yours has too. And yet we can’t turn away. The anger impulse is too deeply encoded, the thrill too genuine. So where do we go from here? https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/charles-duhigg-american-anger/576424/

When they go low, you’ve got to fight as if your life depends on it. There is a storm brewing – suppressing our fundamental rights to vote, to govern our own bodies, to not get gunned down in a school or a mall. Are you angry enough yet?

This was a Victorian Christmas with our neighbors. I thought my 80s yellow leather jacket was a propos?!

IMG_4345

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve always said it’s easier for a woman in our golden years, or silver years, because we have always had certain routines. Centuries of domestic duties, child and elder care responsibilities. Maybe it’s just my generation, but for the most part we were the gardeners and the gatherers, we kept the home fires burning. Some men do, however, take up cooking and laundering once they retire, if they don’t find themselves “consulting” on a golf course.

Our last night in Nashville, I found myself frying up some catfish and shrimp for a crowd. And although I was in pain from a fall off a step, I was happy to be useful. Having a purpose, isn’t that the raison d’etre for woman and mankind?

But for young women today, the roles are not so clearly drawn. We raised our daughters to believe they too could be President one day (say this aloud again and again please); women could bear the babies and bring home the bacon. Anything. Was. Possible. I told the Bride again and again. Books advised them to Lean IN, and maybe their pay wasn’t quite up to par, but opportunities were endless! Of course, money helps…

And wealth, a staggering amount of wealth may not bring you happiness, but it certainly helps with childcare. Strangely enough, I understand how Ivanka Trump could praise her daddy at the Berlin G20 Women’s Summit. Next to the leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, Ivanka spoke of empowering women everywhere, and said she thought the media was giving her father a bad rap. It’s not his draconian policies or paternalistic pugilistic attitude toward women, it’s the big bad media.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive. I grew up in a house where there were no barriers to what I could accomplish,” Ivanka told a German panel. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39704840

She actually grew up in several houses, with many helpers, cooks and chauffeurs and a daddy who treated her like a real princess, in a tower. He left her mother when she was ten years old for a younger model and shipped her off to a boarding school five years later. Which is most likely why the German audience audibly groaned when she defended her father and her upbringing.

After all, how many women are struggling single-handedly to raise their children and put food on the table in our country? At least in Germany, parental leave is a tangible thing – 14 months of paid parental leave after having a baby, for both or even one parent… And once they go back to work? The German government is dedicated to provide childcare for its children, so that women and men can return to work. In fact, if there are no available kinder-spots, parents can actually sue the government! https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/german-childcare/512612/

Of all the president’s men, I am at least slightly optimistic about Ivanka. She talks a good game about empowering women, and I want to believe her. She has her father’s ear, though exactly what her role will be in the White House is anybody’s guess. Remember that FDR was born to the carriage trade, but had the courage to steer us through the Great Depression and understand the working class. Maybe Ivanka will help us pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which just passed in Nevada this March without much fanfare.

Or will Mr T, like King Lear, give away our kingdom to the highest bidders and his two sons, turning away from Cordelia/Ivanka in the end? I hope she comes back from Germany soon, to steer her aging father away from the precipice. And his Twitterfeed.

Here is Nana doing preschool pickup, #beforethefall.    IMG_0360

 

Read Full Post »

How else can one explain what is happening in China over the last few years? Mr T Tweets at 3am, and now he’s calling the Taiwanese Prez, which is like snubbing your nose at your big (or little depending on your POV) brother or sister. Only this sibling doesn’t sleep, and could suffocate you with his or her pillow all while continuing to pollute our environment.

Remember back in February when I recommended a compelling non-fiction book about China? “Age of Ambition – Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the new China” by Evan Osnos. https://mountainmornings.net/2016/02/27/mj-fever/

If you’re not one for the long read, how about a couple of articles in this month’s Atlantic, “China’s Great Leap Backward?” Kisssinger explains China 101 and tells us how to avoid a trade war, among other things. And James Fallows tells us that freedom is even harder to find in the new China; “It has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution.”

We Americans have been asleep. We don’t want to wake to the nightmare of last month’s election, and why should we? We would rather come home from work, open a craft beer, and watch Netflix. Only the latest sci-fi series I told you about, Black Mirror, is actually coming true in China! https://mountainmornings.net/2016/10/25/feeling-twitchy/

If you need a respite from politics, and all the mud-slinging of this election, I have a Netflix show to recommend from England. “Black Mirror” (a trope to our attachment to the smart screen) is about how technology is changing the course of human history in a very scary, sinister and smart way. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Season 1, created by Charlie Brooker, but if you are wondering where our dystopian obsession with devices is going, tune into the future.

So that’s what I said in October…and now China is creating a nightmare for its citizens with their tacit consent.

It is collecting “Social Credit Scores,” in other words, the dragon has a highly developed Big Brother with a big pillow under his head. All electronic purchasing data, social media networks, and algorithmic sorting devices are being collected to give each citizen a score between 350 and 950. This system not only monitors whether or not you could pay for your apartment. but how compliant you are politically, and what kind of spouse you might make! If you hit a score of 700+ you are allowed to travel to Singapore…

Black Mirror is no longer science fiction, it is becoming fact. The Regime can now keep a tally of any message with a mention of Tienanmen Square for example, which would not only lower your score, but those of your friends and family! All of the scores are available to everybody in China online, and strangely enough like salmon swimming furiously upstream, citizens have embraced this system.

And just like the American 12 year old I overheard bragging about how many Instagram followers she had, I am finding this brave new world frightening. After all, we have Google and Amazon and Facebook et al collecting our data, but our government isn’t quite yet in cahoots with them, is it? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

It’s enough to make me want to crawl right back under the covers and hibernate the winter away. But first a prayer for what it’s worth, please God, let Mr T pick Romney over Giuliani for Secretary of State. We don’t need any more bulls roaming free in a China shop. Let me know when it’s time to wake up and get off the grid. From an exhibition in LA at the Broad Museum – this is Jenny Holzer 1979 – it’s strangely prescient

img_5663

 

 

Read Full Post »

Alright folks, it’s been a week and a half. According to President Obama it’s time to stop all our belly aching and get back to work. At least that’s what he told his White House staff after the election – moping shall cease and desist, like they’ve been on one long, communal shiva call with the rest of the country. Even though Hillary will win almost 2 Million MORE votes than the comb-over, it’s not a Popular Vote contest, is it?

“We probably have about 7 million votes left to count,” said David Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report who is tracking turnout. “A majority of them are on the coasts, in New York, California, and Washington. She should be able to win those votes, probably 2-1.” By mid-December, when the Electoral College officially casts its ballots, Wasserman estimates that Clinton could be ahead by 2 percentage points in the popular vote. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/clintons-popular-vote-lead-will-grow-and-grow/507455/

So what’s a girl to do, besides sign up for the Million Women’s March on January 21? Watch a little Turner Classic? Walk your dog? Meditate to a new mantra; #LoveTrumpsHate? Find things for your newly retired hubby to do, like throw out half the spice cabinet? Cook up some comfort food? Well, sure all of the above, plus I’m reading a good book of historical fiction to take me back in time, way back, to the island of St Thomas in the 1800s.

“The Marriage of Opposites” seemed like a good title, since Bob and I have always said no modern day algorithm would ever make us a match. And I love Alice Hoffman! Because it’s now in paperback, this book has been a perfect traveling companion, from NJ to Nashville and back again. What I didn’t know is that she is telling the story of a certain French Impressionist painter, a real life Sephardic Jewish man born on St Thomas who was destined to take over his family’s business but wanted instead to paint.

He was born Jacob Abraham, but instead used his French name “Camille” Pizzarro; perhaps Hoffman has changed the spelling from Pissarro to keep this a fictional tale? I was well into the book before I realized who this last child of Rachel Pomie would become, the “Father of Impressionism,” the man who married his mother’s maid and began painting outside. The friend of Degas and Monet, he preferred living in the French countryside and was influenced by Gustave Courbet. His paintings “…dignify the labor of peasants in communal villages, reflecting the socialist-anarchist political leanings that the two artists shared.”

And in synchrony with my rebellious mood of the moment, it seems Pissarro is one of many early Colonial artists currently on exhibit at the New York Historical Society: “The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World” opened November 1st and runs through February 26. The first Jewish settlement of the New World was in New Amsterdam in 1654, when Brazil expelled 23 Jews to this early Dutch Colony of New York. http://observer.com/2016/11/colonial-jews-who-knew/

The curator said that during this time, Jews were not seen as “invisible outsiders.” They had certain freedoms in our new country, to worship as they wished and to flaunt society’s norms. It seems unimaginable that almost 4 centuries later, a man has won an election by preaching about discriminating against our current invisible outsiders of the moment…Mexicans and Muslims. He even dreamed of punishing women who would seek an abortion. Is this the America we all learned to love in grade school?

Once I was stung by a bee under a clothesline of billowing sheets. It is my earliest memory, the first time I felt as if I didn’t belong. Nell was not my mother, my name was different.   Today the feeling remains.

woman-hanging-up-the-washing-1887

Woman Hanging up the Washing, Camille Pissarro 1887

Read Full Post »

Call me crazy, but yesterday I picked up the latest, golden-colored Atlantic magazine with a picture of the Donald on the cover. “The Mind of Donald Trump” is the cover story, all about how a psychologist would dissect the Trump brain, what makes him tick. Since he had recently entered my dream life, yes folks, Donald gave me six million dollars for a book deal, In. My. Dreams., I figured I owed myself a reckoning. But I didn’t read that story, I read the one about kids, and achievement, and toxic stress. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/how-kids-really-succeed/480744/

It seems we are now a country with more than 50% of children living below the poverty line, requiring free or reduced lunches at public schools. Once I got over that shocker, I read on…educators are looking beyond standardized test scores to predict why some poor kids fail and some thrive in school. They are looking into the character traits that contribute to a child’s academic success…

“…often referred to as noncognitive skills, or character strengths—that include resilience, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control, and grit. These capacities generally aren’t captured by our ubiquitous standardized tests, but they seem to make a big difference in the academic success of children, especially low-income children.”

In other words, who has true grit? Lo and behold, research has shown that this stuff cannot exactly be taught. It takes a combination of forces, all environmental (although if you ask me, nature plays an important role here as well) that combine in the right way during early childhood, and can be enhanced by a certain pedagogy. And most importantly, if a child is raised with “toxic stress,” he or she will adapt to school in a way that makes learning nearly impossible. They will close off and become “behavior” problems.

Toxic stress is defined as severe and chronic stress, the kind a child living in poverty is more likely to encounter. Is it safe for them to play in the street, or walk to school? Do they see loved ones routinely, are they consistent when they do ? Are they hungry, can they sleep at night? Are their needs being met? Imagine a child growing up in Syria, or Chicago. Stress baths a developing brain with all the wrong signals.

In a way, they are learning not to trust the world, or anyone in it.

“When those signals suggest that life is going to be hard, the network reacts by preparing for trouble: raising blood pressure, increasing the production of adrenaline, heightening vigilance. Neuroscientists have shown that children living in poverty experience more toxic stress than middle-class children, and that additional stress expresses itself in higher blood pressure and higher levels of certain stress hormones.”

Yesterday I also got a note from the Bride telling me that a certain Principal was moving from their neighborhood school to a magnet school. Yes, in Nashville there are public elementary schools where one can be immersed in Chinese and learn to stand and speak in class, into a microphone, with impunity. Students grow their own veggies and feed into the very best high school. The problem is getting into those schools is a matter of luck – it’s a lottery system. Which in my mind seems cruel and unusual.

It’s one thing to abandon “No Child Left Behind,” which arguably didn’t work anyway, but then to offer the best practices at only some schools in the country is a piecemeal approach to the problem. Fostering a feeling of belonging, a willingness to learn and resilience almost always comes down to each individual teacher.

Let’s train and teach our educators, ALL of them, to foster true grit in their classrooms. Failure is OK, keep trying. Don’t say to the boys who sit at the back of the class with their caps pulled down covering their eyes, “We know who the losers are in this class.” Let’s make every school magnetic, with high expectations for every student and : “…less lecture time; fewer repetitive worksheets; more time spent working in small groups, solving problems, engaging in discussions, and collaborating on long-term creative projects. It’s a style of teaching and classroom organization that is relatively common in independent schools and in wealthy suburbs but quite unusual in inner-city public schools.”

School is almost out for the summer. It’s time to raise a child who feels her or his world is a safe place. Let’s work on our children’s resilience this year, a little indomitable spirit never hurt anyone. It’s takes a piece of grit to create a pearl.  IMG_4265Yesterday, the sun came out.

 

Read Full Post »

Bob alerted me to an article in November’s Atlantic magazine, “Remember the sexting scandal in Louisa this Spring?”

In fact, I didn’t, but I was all over our town’s famous crime novelist, John Grisham’s blow-up on Twitter about his interview with a British magazine. The one where he said our prisons are too full (true!) with normal, old, white guys downloading child porn (what?). Then he steps in it further by differentiating between 16 year old girls and 9 year old boys…

But that’s not the hot button issue Bob was talking about. He had listened to an NPR interview http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/15/356393531/why-kids-sext-describes-nude-photos-as-social-currency-among-teens

…on his ride to the hospital yesterday with the author, Hanna Rosin, of the Atlantic piece on teen sexting: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

Now we all know that teenagers do crazy things, and every generation has to prove their worth by totally rebelling against their parents – with their music, with their language, with a scathing look, or the ubiquitous word of dismissal, “Fine!” Sheer insolence has no better bedfellow than a teenage girl. Still, it’s one thing to grow your hair long and straight, shorten your skirts to the mini-mum, and listen to the Rolling Stones. Or as the Flapper did, bind her breasts, cut and bob her hair, and go out the window to dance to the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

“You come from a long line of rebels,” Mother told me more than once. But of course, we didn’t have smart phones.

Louisa is a sleepy country county, between my edge of the Shenandoah and the big city of Richmond, a mere 10 minute drive. Think Friday night lights on football fields, and the occasional DUI. So it was baffling to local law enforcement to find out A) that they were collecting more and more cell phones because each kid knew 5-10 kids with naked pix on their phones, it was non-ending, and B) that the kids didn’t seem to care at. all.

For the most part, the laws do not concern themselves with whether a sext was voluntarily shared between two people who had been dating for a year or was sent under pressure: a sext is a sext. So as it stands now, in most states it is perfectly legal for two 16-year-olds to have sex. But if they take pictures, it’s a matter for the police.

There is no easy takeaway from this article. Girls take great care in posing for their pix, like Kim Kardashian and her selfie book saga. Boys just point and shoot. And there are those who feel pressured by boys to send sexts, and those who are in a relationship and this just seems to be a part of the mating ritual, no.big.deal. For some boys, the number of naked pictures on their phones is akin to “social currency,” like collecting Pokemon cards.

But for some girls, the less confident, more marginalized girls, their pix are shared without their consent and humiliation follows; certainly setting up an Instagram account on the web takes this into felony territory. But even here, law enforcement wanted to know was this just two brothers playing a prank, or did they have a more salacious motive?

When we over-schedule our teens, when their only free time is spent texting their friends in the middle of the night, then we know something is wrong. Romancing in high school, while no longer done at the corner drug store sharing an ice cream soda, should not be done alone, after midnight, with a cell phone. Parents, teach your children well.

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Read Full Post »

For another day I’ll be the same age as Bruce Springsteen. Tomorrow I’ll leap ahead of him and catch up with Bob, who has a birthday the day after the Love Bug in August. My sister Kay already called, my MIL sent me the usual Chico’s gift card (thank you Ada), and my son already posted on Facebook. This year it feels like people are jumping the shark on my birthday, let’s all take a breath. I’m in no hurry to age.

I had to pick up the latest Atlantic magazine because it was all about aging. You can’t miss it. The cover is an old geezer on a skateboard, doing an ollie with his socks slouching down around his ankles.  The cover story is, “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” Good question. I started reminiscing about skateboarding down a parking lot ramp in my old hometown of Dover, NJ. I was one of very few high school girls who had the nerve to do this stuff, and I never got very good at it. But I remember the woody station wagons, the street lights, and blaring the Beach Boys while I tried to “hang ten” without wiping out on asphalt.

Then I was back in real time, reading, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/why-i-hope-to-die-at-75/379329/

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal

This morning I chewed my gummi multiple vitamin and my calcium chocolate candy. I popped my supplements for my psoriatic skin condition and my swiss-cheesey, osteopenic bones, and then to top it off, I swallowed a Claritin for my allergies. I’m not taking any meds for anything serious, I’m blessed with an Irish peasant’s good DNA so my heart and blood pressure seem to be doing fine all on their own, knock knock.

What I’m not doing is sticking to any sort of diet whatsoever, and I don’t think I’m obsessed with exercise, though at one time in my 40s I may have been.  Still, I’m not willing to give it all up in a mere 9 years! I kept reading. Is this guy for real, or is he writing satire for the Atlantic? Could this just be Gulliver’s Travels for the well-heeled, senior set?

The author, Ezekiel Emanuel, talks about how modern medicine has managed to prolong life, and asks the  important question, “But as life has gotten longer, has it gotten healthier? Is 70 the new 50?” Let me warn you, if you are over 70 and prone to depression, do not read this Atlantic article! You may as well hang up the cleats, or stilettos, now. The inevitable stroke or stent is lurking right around the corner.

So, let’s hope we are all outliers who will experience a healthy old age! And if you are one of my readers who is crying their eyes out already because the last chick has left the nest, take heart. Let’s end on a positive note, let me count the ways being an empty nester has improved this old gal’s life.

  1. I can get into the hot tub, naked, anytime I want
  2. I can eat ice cream for dinner if I feel like it
  3. I can sleep in (until 8am  sometimes)
  4. I can listen to my music in the car and YES Bono I’ll download your free album!
  5. I can sing anytime, anywhere with impunity without using the “right” words

Oh, and I can still search for flea market finds and transform them into tiny treasures for the grand baby!  IMG_1143

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: