samedi, juillet 26, 2008

Middle Aged Deliquents

Mr. C is going to sleep-away camp for the first time this summer. His dad thinks it's past time. His mom knows she's going to cry buckets when we drop him off at the church-related camp about two hours away from here. But our boy doesn't seem a bit worried-it will be an experience, Mom, he said to me when I brought it up. Knowing this next step is about him, not about me, I listen carefully, but try not to say a lot. But if you read the article in today's NYT (linked above) you can see that for many parents, the going away camp experience really is all about them. They give their kids two cell phones so that when the camp takes away one, they will have an extra to call mom and dad. They "forget" to send up the medications their child routinely takes at home for ADHD or other disorders. They call every morning to ask how their child is doing. Sometimes it's hard to figure out who is the parent, and who the child. It's wonderful to be protective of your children. Many parents aren't nearly protective enough. They allow their kids to surf the Internet or spend hours alone watching television without making the effort to get out and throw a ball or go bowling, or do something that interrupts their own routine. But constant vigilance from afar makes sleep away camp an anxious experience, not only for the parent, but for the child. Is that really why we send our children away for a week or two? To make them more dependent on us? Or to help them find the inner resources to be strong and responsible when we aren't around to care for them? I won't be calling the camp to check up on Mr. C. But I am going to talk to the counselor about making sure he puts on his sunscreen, my freckle faced, fair skinned boy. Then I'm going to get into B's car, and cry-but only when I know he can't see me.

mardi, juillet 22, 2008

Desire: is it solely for the young?

(Granada TV Image)
I'm counting the days until the new movie adaptation of "Brideshead Revisited" opens Friday. I'm old enough to have seen and fallen hard for the Granada TV version, with Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, and Diana Quick as Charles, Sebastian and Julia. My-oh-my, that was 27 years ago.

But who could forget the stunning Jeremy Irons?

Thinking that his lustre might have tarnished, I found a publicity picture of him online, shot more than 25 years after the series-he is still the thinking woman's sex symbol.

The Brideshead of Waugh's world-castles, wealth, middle-class longings and blighted love is so separate from anything I have ever known-except in imagination. But imagination is a powerful force, is it not?

Desire, and secrecy, guilt and grace are themes that surface again and again, both in the television adaptation of the 1945 book, and in the novel itself, of course. Listening to the soundtrack today, I realized how little I allow myself to feel desire.

I'm not talking solely about sexual desire. It's that hunger for experience, a longing to know more about beauty and marvels, an unsatiated wonder, that opens gates of the world for us. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, we don't forget it.

When I do allow myself to want something badly, it is mostly directed towards what I crave for my children. That's more instinctive, and undoubtedly more precious.

I wish I had allowed myself to experience more willingness to be open to the unexpected illumination of mystery and knowledge and desire when I was younger. Possibly, though I am no longer that dreamy young woman, there is still time.

lundi, juillet 21, 2008

A free market captive

Instead of the label of global superpower, let's try on the monicker of debtor nation.
It might be helpful in giving us a dose of reality therapy.
Do you know that our national debt is in the arena of 9.4 trillion dollars?
Do you also happen to know who owns most of that debt? That would be China, Japan and the Persian Gulf countries.
If you swilled the KoolAid of total free market capitalism over the past seven years, you might be feeling a little stupid right now.
That's because, when the hand was called, the United States caved-and intervened to save not only the investors at Bear Stearns but also the companies that own almost half of US mortgages, Fannie and Freddie Mac.
Our pure as the driven snow (and she too has drifted) elders in the Bush Administration decided that they had to do something, instead of letting the virus of failure spread.
Of course, we will pay for it, either through increased taxes or through inflation.
Which leads to a few other frightening questions?
How long are our bondholders in Asia and the Gulf going to continue investing in the US?
How long will it be before our currency becomes devalued enough so that they ask us to pay up?
Fiscal discipline and free market orthodoxy are uncomfortable bedfellows. But if we don't find a way to curb our reckless borrowing, and make wise choices both individual and corporately, we might find ourselves looking more like Eastern Europe than like yikes....France or Kuwait.
That's because they sure as heck don't want to end up looking like us.