samedi, mars 01, 2008

Snow globe

A wonderfully challenging day in which my friend Kris and I went to Bear Creek and skiied with my son, AKA Mr. C. She took him under her wing-and he listened to her. Eventually they took off happily for the intermediate trails, while I graduated from the bunny to the easy (but still quite bumpy) hills. Mr. C is not encumbered by this kind of self-doubt, and he could have spent all evening on the slopes. But he fell asleep in the car on the way back.

It took me quite a while to learn to listen to my body again, and trust its responses.

But when we stopped at a diner on the way home, after an afternoon and early evening of skiing, I remembered the beauty of the lamps glinting off the snow, the rush of my edges cutting through the powder, and the satisfaction of facing my discomfort and thought-darn, why don't I do this more often?

How about you?

vendredi, février 29, 2008

I suppose there are people who transcend, or mature beyond, or build a psychological wall between them and their family of origin. If you knew them at 30, say, they might bear little outward resemblance their parents or siblings.

Sometimes these evolutions are a blessing, as when a child survives dysfunction and abuse, and goes on to lead a healthy life, find lasting love, do meaningful work. Other times, however, as with divorced couples, many spend years in an endless dance of rejection and ambivalence. In those cases, progress is only illusory.

I've been pondering the nature-nurture conundrum. On the surface, it is an odd subject for a middle-aged woman. You would think I'd figured this one out, and made peace with it, decades ago. But as I view my own decisions, and watch my kid's personalities become more sharply etched, I see a heritage of pessimism and hope, trust and skepticism. I wonder perhaps if they are not a product of biology as much as of choice. There's nothing morally wrong with either.

Perhaps the skeptic has it right-the world is full of conmen and hustlers. You have only to check your spam filter to know the truth of that. Being a pessimist in a world in which people are so often indifferent or cruel may be closer to reality in a universe of school shootings and Darfurs.

And yet how can you help heal the pain of the wounded, or even your own, if you don't believe that people are capable of change? Everyday I see the choice before me. Sometimes I choose to have faith in the goodness of the human spirit. Other times, not so much. But, like my mother before me, I find it tempermentally easier to believe, to hope, to trust-than not.

mardi, février 26, 2008


There are a lot of people who have ticked off Democrats in Congress. Administration officials, current and former, are high on the list of those being asked to explain themselves-or face a citation for contempt.

We are likely to see a full scale Constitutional war erupt between Congress and the President over a few of those citations.

In the meantime, however, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens is about to be put in the stocks. Up until now, Democrats have been gunning for him-and Republicans attacking his former trainer as a pusher and other types of pond scum.

He is likely to be called in to testify about whether or not he lied when he said he didn't take performance enhancing drugs. Former trainer Brian McNamee says he gave Clemens the shots of human growth hormone. Teamate Andy Petitte, also under the microscope, corroborated the trainer's rap on Clemens. The pitcher denies that he took steroids-and so may be liable to perjury charges.

If McNameee and Pettite are being candid, then Clemens is in a heap of hot water. Frankly, he's not a guy it's easy to like-so I doubt he's getting a lot of sympathy.

But one also has to ask: are they going after him because he's prominent and they might not get Harriet Meiers on the contempt charge? Sports corruption charges are usually fascinating theater-and a diversion.

Will they be as diligent in chasing down the smaller fish? What else does Brian McNamee know?

And is it merely a coincidence that Clemens has played for the New York Yankees for much of his career? Is this part of a Red State conspiracy?

What if there is a "Clemens" curse? Yikes-does that mean New York won't win another World Series for almost 90 years?

PS-Take a look at the story linked above. Congress has asked the Department of Justice to look into whether Clemens made false statements to them when he testified in the aftermath of the investigation by former Senator George Mitchell. Until now, it seems that Republicans had been supporting Clemens and Democrats his trainer, McNamee. To the outsider, this degree of partisanship seems silly-on the verge of being ludicrous. But let's not forget-this is the United States Congress we are talking about.

Ten more months

Following Dick Cheney's logic, and that of 305 of his friends in the brief filed with the Supreme Court, we should abolish all Federal and state gun regulations.

The Washington Post editorial (linked above) is right to use the "s" word-selfish

It is total insanity to allow unregulated access to handguns in DC-or Philadelphia-or even the suburbs. In Philadelphia, we just lost a teenager because of a snowball fight. But, of course, the people who die are usually young, and black, and often poor-or college students.

Let's give this a try in that bastion of American democracy on Pennsylvania Avenue.

How about we allow people to come into the White House packing pistols? Why not? After all, they are only protecting themselves-aren't they?

lundi, février 25, 2008

Madam, He's Adam

Take a look at this wonderful article from The New Republic.

The author, John Judis, describes Obama as a new Adamic figure-one that is essentially American in his iconography. Unlike the far older, and oft jaded nations of Europe, we seem to have a great desire to renew ourselves in the sunny demeanour of politicans who promise us hope and a new birth-or more accurately, perhaps, renewal.

While I agree that Obama is an Adam figure, and that he has great precedent among American male politicians, I'm not sure I think voters are naive enough to believe the country can start completely anew. At least, I hope they aren't.

Although Hillary Clinton doesn't fit this particular archetype, it is interesting to speculate what women in our nation's history have summoned up this kind of yearning. Suffragettes? Revivalist preachers? Talk-show hosts like Oprah?

As the writer comments, such politicians have often faced thorny cultural issues, like slavery-and have had to give in to the powerful projections and defenses of the partisans.

If I was forced to chose between skepticism and hope, it would be a struggle. I am old enough to have seen many promises unkept.

Yet even this skeptical journalist hopes Obama succeeds. The cordial he offers has been off the shelves for so many years most of us have forgotten what it tastes like.

dimanche, février 24, 2008

Behave yourself

"Be a good sport."

"Always say please and thank you."

"Ignore your sister (or brother or the neighbor, or the bully on the back of the bus). He/she is just trying to get your goat."

"Eat your vegetables."

All of these venerable soundbites have come out of my mouth many times-although I don't get to give advice about sportmanship as much as I would like. My daughter shows no interest in team sports, and I leave the advice about hitting and catching to Colin's Little League coaches.

But recently I've been feeling a little edgy when I hear these aphorisms tripping off my tongue.

After all, how many of us adults are always good sports? Parents who attend their kids games frequently present very poor examples to the young athletes-not to mention to other mothers or fathers.

How many of us always graciously receive gifts we may not need or particularly like?

How many of us are hurt by the words or actions of a parent or sibling, a colleague or a partner?

I know there are many times I'd like to ditch the greens and eat only chocolate-how about you?

I wonder why we ask children to act like little adults-when adults find it so hard.

And, on a related topic-am I the only person who doesn't think spending $1,200 in a month at Dunkin Donuts is excessive-for a national campaign? When else is one going to get to indulge such childish fantasies?