samedi, mai 05, 2012

For now...

As I wrap up my Mormon series (for now) I take a look back at what I did -- and what I could have done better.

There were times, to be candid, when I felt like I was writing in the middle of a huge wind tunnel, being swept too and fro by the strong feelings LDS practice and theology provoke among denomination members and critics.

As with my series on pagans, I will continue to want to examine denominations and people who integrate and blend strands of American history in ways the reflect our fascinating spiritual and political ancestry. The fact is that we all do -- the Episcopal Church, for example, continues to be a rebellious stepchild of Anglican relatives (and let's not even speak of the Aussies). 

I'm eager to move on, at least for now, to less fraught territory. 

But I'm pretty sure I'll be back.

jeudi, mai 03, 2012

What babyboomers have in common with John Edwards

It's the freaking self-indulgence that gets to me.

I rarely tune into the John Edwards trial.

Sleaze isn't my drug of choice.

With his hubris, affairs, and alleged tendency to play fast and loose with other people's cash, John Edwards seems to be a toxic dump for sleaze at the moment.

And damn it, I'm not going to let the Edward's family break my heart again.

But Edwards and his family, with all of their tragedy and ambition, are  also a cautionary tale for my generation, the baby-boomers.

Read this selection from a recent McClatchy Newspaper pool report by Anne Blythe. Then imagine yourself as Cate Edwards.

"The Edwards' eldest child, Cate Edwards, a 30-year-old lawyer who has sat stoically through her father's trial, became visibly upset during a break in Reynolds' testimony.

Her father leaned over and mentioned to her during the break when the jury was out of the room that he did not know what was coming next.
Defense attorney Abbe Lowell had just objected to what prosecutor David Harbach was asking Reynolds. Judge Catherine Eagles sent the jury out of the courtroom for a brief break.
Cate Edwards said something inaudible to her father, left the courtroom in tears as her father quietly called after her, 'Cate, Cate.' "

Your father on the stand for allegations of money-laundering. Your mother and brother dead.  Your siblings growing up without a mom and with a dad who may end up in prison.

As ghastly as it is, this is a tale that my generation must own. My generation, with its multiple divorces.

My generation, where children shuttle between parents. Or when dad or mom doesn't want to be bothered, left to raise themselves.

My generation, riddled with self-important, self-absorbed, deluded parents who move seamlessly from one romance to another, little knowing the effect on their children.

As a parent whose children are being raised in two households, I can speak with some authority on this issue.

And as a split family, we actually do a pretty decent job, sharing birthdays, ball games, school conferences and holidays. We fought like hell to keep our marriage together.

 But I have no idea what the ultimate effect will be on our children.

I do have some sense on how this instability has affected Gen Xers and the Millenials, many of whom simply don't know how to construct a relationship that will last.

There are so many Cates -- and to them, I say, I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry.

There are still role models for long-term marriages around you.

Happiness and stability is not a dream. Healing is possible.

Just don't look too close to home, my dear.

mercredi, mai 02, 2012

I'll be your fantasy...not

Friends (mostly those who have never experienced the horrors of middle-aged Internet dating), have been trying to persuade me that I am too much of a cynic, a pessimist, and a fool for not believing in the possibility that love will find me.

Quietly, I put my profile back online -- more as an experiment, than with anything hopeful in mind.

I am convinced that a lot of single or divorced folks my age are broken, bruised and bent by prior romantic disappointments.

If they recognize how messed up they are, and how many mistakes we've made, as I do -- perhaps they have a chance of creating something lasting. If they don't, they simply spin on the wheel of endless intoxication and subsequent disappointments.

Then there is the fantasy factor provided by the Internet. It can seduce even those of us who know that they know better.

Today I received an email from a potential beau. We'd already chatted a few times. As is usual with me, I tried to be positive, and to be gentle when I told him that I didn't think it would work between us. Distance was only one of many factors.

Written in Italian, the email told me that I was the only one he wanted to know. Then he gave me his phone number.

I doubt he wants to know me anymore. Though I tried to soften my response, I told him that the person he saw online was a fantasy --morever, if I had to guess, a fantasy that he'd added to and recreated for his own purposes.

I encouraged him to seek women closer to his geographical area -- and to surrender his fantasies about me.

Of course, I have no control over what he thinks or doesn't think. And I have no idea whether he will take my advice -- that's up to him. 

I don't do the moony fantasy romantic thing. Having it pop up in my inbox is a little disconcerting, to say the least.

Sometimes I wish I was a little softer. Then I think about the trouble I'd be in right now.

Adjusting the quills, I walk back into combat. I mean, back in online conversations -- just a little harsher and suspicious than I was before.

Some call it wisdom.

lundi, avril 30, 2012

Dating & Working-class guys: what no one will talk about

 Sitting in the bathtub last night, I had one of those "d'oh" moments.

I'm about to wade way into politically incorrect territory right now, so feel free to talk back at me. 

I would have slapped myself on the head, but then my hair would have gotten wet, and since the purpose of taking a bath is not to get your hair wet...

Then the inner light-bulb glimmered on.

I finally figured out part of the reason online dating has been so frustrating for me.

 The majority of men I encountered online had either blue-collar jobs or work that was white-collar but ruled by routine.  Mechanics. Factory workers. Plumbers.

Again, and again, they would put in their profile a sentence about how they were eager to retire.

The yearning for the condo in Florida seemed quirky to me -- why on earth would someone contemplate giving over the last twenty or thirty years of their life to golf and beers with the buddies?

Then I realized something -- many of these guys have very, very tedious jobs.

I'm not talking craftsmen.  I'm not talking artisans. I'm not speaking of creative folk who simply never got around to the college degree.

How would you like to do a task of stupefying boredom, day after day, month after month, until you hit your golden years?

Right.  Recall it was a bunch of intellectual revolutionaries who glorified that kind of labor -- and consider where it got them.

The work a pipe-fitter does is valuable and crucial -- more so than the work that many of us do. And some of them are paid very, very well (as those of us who can't fix our own plumbing know). Unions have lifted wages for many working-class jobs beyond what some of us genteel poor people make.

And yes, social workers, teachers and many other professionals aren't well-compensated. They aren't bored to death, either.

But that doesn't make retiring guys good partners for me.

Unless forced to by matters beyond my control, I can't see retiring for decades.  Life is way too interesting.

And the thought of having a guy around, frankly, expecting to be amused, simply terrifies me. Been there, done that (with children).

So I don't see dating a guy with sand and a putt (or a motorcycle) on his mind.  But I do have empathy for them.

Presidential candidates will make a heavy pitch for working-class voters this fall. Expect hypocrisy much. 

If we really believed in the nobility of the assembly-line, we'd pay the men and women on it enough to give their kids all the advantages that ours have had. 

But then they might be competing for our jobs. 

Better, and cheaper, to praise them.