vendredi, août 05, 2011

On spectating less and acting more

Sometimes I feel as though I spend a lot of time observing -- apart from the crowd.

Sitting on the sidelines of the Colosseum, pen (or iPad) in hand, I watch, and wait, and chronicle.

And oh yes, I think. I do a lot of analyzing, picking up the big questions (and sometimes the smaller ones) that confront us, and taking them apart.

Today I gave some thought to jobs, stocks, marriage and pornography -- when I really should be organizing my list of editors who may have freelance work - and then contacting them. That actually should wait until next week, when I am back in the company of my p.c. at our home.

And I mowed the lawn, almost always an escapist activity for someone who prefer dreaming to daring (sometimes). And put off the book review I could write now, as opposed to later (isn't later usually better?)

I also avoided making a phone call to reschedule a date that I should have made, and waited for one that I am hoping will come.

Not presuming, mind you.

Forgive me. I'm still climbing out of a ditch, and I'm a little scraped and bruised in places.

But not for long, or not for much longer, anyway. I might miss a few phone calls, but I'm not avoiding them anymore.

Here's half a smile for September, the active tense...

and hope.

jeudi, août 04, 2011

A-Rod on the verge

When I saw the story about the Yankees ace hitter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez online last night, I happened to be watching the Yankees clobber the White Sox.

I was impressed, particularly by the performance of the very talented Mark Teixeira (who, like Rodriguez, also began with the Rangers).

Who apparently can achieve wonderful things without, as far as we know (sad to have to asterisk everyone) using performance-enhancing drugs.

Nor does there appear to be gossip about Teixeira showing up at illegal poker games with Hollywood sleaze...oh, sorry, stars.

A-Rod, who has already admitted using steroids with the Rangers, is still in potential trouble for using banned substances.

If the doping allegations are found to be true (and they are still under investigation), it is sad on many levels.

Yes, he does seem to choke under pressure -- but that's a human failing. He's still a great player.

But is he a great man? No way. Like Bill Belichick of the Patriots (behind football's Spygate), he is under a cloud. A cloud that will continue to linger. A cloud that mars the image of his team.

If the allegations are true, a lot of us will be asking: how could he be so venal? How could he be so arrogant? And, most of all: how could he be so dumb?

Say yes! Say yes! but no is o.k., too

When you are considering dating someone, a lot of things come into play.

One of them, clearly, is whether you share some common values.

Obviously, common values include everything from whether there is a God to whether the Phillies can win the World Series, whether you love living in the city to whether beer is a food group.

And the answer that, of course, is: it depends on the beer -- and whether you've just seen the value of your stock portfolio plummet.

(By the way, I just listened to a financial program on CNN and heard that brewing is one of the worst long-term investments one can make. They said nothing about drinking).

But do you want someone who is going to agree with you, most of the time? Are you seeking a partner who will bolster your point of view, and help you hang out in your comfort zone?

Are you seeking the merge lane or the challenge of parallel parking?

A lot of folks are looking for life in the comfort zone -- and there's nothing wrong with that. That's what the little checklists on dating sites are for.

I find myself meandering somewhere in the middle -- looking for a guy who will sometimes agree, sometimes question my ideas and beliefs -- even my most cherished ones.

Obviously, I'm right most of the time, so he shouldn't waste a lot of energy trying to change the basics.

But in all seriousness, I am aware, as are you, dear readers (c'mon, c'mon, admit it) that there is more that one side of a debate, more than one story to be told, more enlightenment to be found.

I want someone who admires my intelligence (as I would have to admire his), but doesn't take my word as final. I like the debate, the spark, the give-and-take. Frankly, there's something exciting, even sexy about it, if it's all in good fun. Serious debate is good, too - sometimes I'm impulsive and need to be reined in.

I'm happy to leave mindmeld to those who find tranquility and comfort in those quiet fields.

Let's go for a spin -- who knows WHERE we might end up?

mardi, août 02, 2011

Calling out the bigots

After watching the crazy spectacle of American politicians competing with one another like toddlers on a playground, I confess that I was already in a cynical mood.

Whether you believe in debt-reduction, jobs creation, responsible government, or any combination of the three, this was shockingly, disgustingly irresponsible behavior. Pollsters tell us that most Americans feel the same about mud-throwing and name-calling that went on, bringing us this ridiculous agreement (which makes no one happy).

Seeing Representative Gabby Giffords walk into the House chambers brought tears to my eyes, as I'm sure it did to those of many Americans (perhaps including you).

But the fact is that Representative Giffords might not have gotten shot if we had gun laws that at least attempt to prevent people with mental illness from buying and owning weapons.

So yes, I was already incredulous.

In it, Princeton University professor Tera Hunter addresses the myth, currently being revived among some folk, that African-American children were more likely to grow up in two-parent families among antebellum slaves than under the leadership of President Barack Obama.

Who just happens to be a black man. Coincidence? You make the call.

In this commentary, Hunter takes apart the implication that black families were either healthier or happier living in slavery to whites. Hunter terms it a "broad and deliberate amnesia" about racial injustice and inequity.

This claim was taken out of the document, the Marriage Vow, signed by Presidential aspirants Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. But why was it in there to begin with?

To the politicians and others with a desire to appeal to the baser instincts of white privilege and stir the class warfare pot in tough times, I say -- cut it out.

We will not LET you go back.

We will not fight your warped, twisted, malevolent battles over skin color.

We will not let you turn us against each other.

I'm sure it struck others, as it did me, that most of the faces (with the obvious exception of Obama) negotiating this latest deal were white, older and privileged.

We don't live in a society that looks so mono-colored anymore. Apparently, that's scary to some. Very scary.

Blacks fought and died for the chance to live as free men and women. Many of our ancestors, including mine, marched and picketed and risked the rage of others so that we could work to achieve a society where skin color didn't matter.

We will call you out, again, and again, until we expose your myths for what they are-the last gasps of a fearful, soon-to-be minority.

May I suggest you do some work on your own families, instead of wondering whether those treated as subhuman were actually happier?

I'm sure they could use some help -- that separate but unequal strategy is SO 1860.

lundi, août 01, 2011

Facebook: It's just like high school!

Bantering back and forth with a seminary friend (yes, we found each other again on Facebook, after happily living our own lives for decades) yesterday, I came to the realization that we were part of a complex social system.

And not only THAT -- but this system was, in my world at least, remarkably like one many of us had experienced when we were a lot younger.

High school -- only without the books, the disinfectant, and the awful cafeteria food.

Well, think about it a minute.

There are the popular girls and boys - I have one Facebook "friend" who has more than 3,000 other "friends."

I don't feel special, but I bask in his reflected glory.

The teens, twenty-something and thirty-somethings with huge friend lists don't count -- for them, friendship is often a virtual relationship, and they also often have (let's face it) wider social networks.

I'm happy with my 259 BFF's, most of whom I have actually either met or spoken with -- only I'll be happier when I achieve 260.

Then there are the nerds (which implies nothing about physical appearance, as it did in high school). I was thrilled when my pal Katie quoted, or adapted, the poet William Carlos Williams last week -- although I have to admit, at first I thought "is that Wallace Stevens?"

Put me in the aspire-to-smart category. Apparently you don't get in free simply by being left-handed and near-sighted.

Of course, then, you have the jocks, usually guys. They are often rooting for, or against, various teams, or talking about people you have never heard of , and can only find in some obscure dusty corner of the Internet.

I've tried to join this group, too -- but I don't know enough, I'm not passionate enough, and I am a little faithless.

You've got the artists, posting photos, yakking it up about plays and inviting you to their performances in the gym (I mean, at the local repertory theatre).

Writers of all sorts, posting their stories, and trying to be just-so-clever (yes, we thought we were deep and witty in high school, too).

Student council? I've got more than a few politicians, present and former, as friends.

It doesn't hurt to be attractive -- we're careful, many of us, to put our "best self" up on our pages.

Then, my dears, there is the "ex" factor. Before my ex-husband actually got off Facebook 'cause he was bored (how could he have been BORED?) I "friended" his first wife. She seemed to think it was pretty funny.

After "unfriending" a relationship gone south a few years ago, I vowed not to do that again, unless the person was a psycho. It's just so "sophomoric." But I'm willing to bet that a lot of you have former girlfriends and boyfriends on your Facebook page.

The Internet age also allows us to check out new boyfriends, trophy wives, and flings -- and to guess which will last.

And that brings us back to my seminary friend. Just like some of us did after we left high school, some of us actually improve with age. Maturity, weight loss, Botox, that condo in Montana -- who cares why?

Which can lead to all sorts of interesting situations -- situations that might have been avoided if one person hadn't said to another -- "do you remember the evening when..."?

Facebook can be a dangerous neighborhood -- just like high school.

So watch what you say, or claim that you did. Your privacy settings might not be as good as you think they are! You don't want your reputation to be damaged by behaving like a "bad boy" or "bad girl."

Don't diss your best friends online -- they have friends.

Wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident.

One other thing -- eat your peas.

Class dismissed.

dimanche, juillet 31, 2011

A season of weeping

I was working with a substitute editor, and somehow David Gibson's quote about Breivik ended up getting credited to me, not to Gibson. I'm embarrassed, and trying to get that fixed and acknowledged.

My Lancaster column, in which I argue that the Breivik case, and a massacre of innocents, has become the occasion for another proxy culture war between American liberals and conservatives.