Home to where I’d never been

I had written this post back in the Spring in response to a prompt for a writing workshop. I feel it is the backstory to my post from yesterday. Today Dr. Rex at “It is What it is.” Posted some beautiful pictures of one of my favorite spots on the island, Old San Juan and that prompted me to re-post. Since last Spring, I have updated the story and mined my memories for more content. I submitted the extended version last month for acceptance in an anthology of Puerto Rican voices coming out next Spring 2019. Wish me luck.

A Roze By Any Other Name

I came across this quote from North 20°54, West 156°14, a personal essay by Maggie Messitt on Bending Genre. “Maps are about boundaries and perception. They are about recognizing and being recognized.”
It is a beautiful place
One summer as soon as school was out, our parents took us to their little island in the Caribbean. It was the late 1960’s; it was the year my paternal grandfather died. It was unexpected. I don’t remember him, and I don’t think he ever met the twins. That’s probably why they made an effort to get us over there to meet the family now. I was apprehensive at first. My Dad was staying home, but we were going for the whole summer! I was starting my teenage years, which is a big deal in itself but on top of that, all I knew about Puerto Rico were the stories my parents…

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My color is Ecru Cream

Alternative title – A Roze by any other name is still a Roze

I Have Been Weary

The other day, Jill Dennison of Filosofa’s Word posted “A SHARED OPINION …” in which she shared an article by Charles M. Blow of the NY Times, titled “You Have a Right to Weariness.” As usual, Jill’s comments to this article echoed my own thoughts.  It is a great opinion piece for our time of unsettling barrage of news stories. I have been weary.”   It’s not in my nature to ignore world events around me.  My eighth grade Social Studies teacher taught me, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill.  Unfortunately, watching current events unfold makes me feel like I’m watching a train wreck about to happen, but I’ve no superpowers to stop it.

I thought I was Over It

As I attempt a smooth transition to my “Third Act of Life,” I am dealing with feelings and frustrations that I thought I had overcome or mastered years ago.  You see, I am a woman of color, I like to say it’s “Ecru Cream.” I describe Ecru Cream as a very light beige, like raw linen- almost white, but not quite. I lived most of my life that way-almost white.

I  am No One’s Anchor

I was conceived in Puerto Rico, and when my grandparents found out that their 22-year-old, unmarried daughter was pregnant; they sent her to Pennsylvania to stay with her married older sister, Evangeline.  Evangeline had migrated to the States a few of years before when her husband returned from his tour of duty for the US Army.  They bought a house and started a family.  My grandparents decided that Evangeline would be a good role model to help her sister in this situation, and so my journey of life began just outside “the City of Brotherly Love.”

No, I was not an “anchor baby.” My parents were born American citizens in Puerto Rico, and my grandparents were granted citizenship as young adults in 1917.  My grandfather was drafted to the US Military shortly after, just in time for WWI. Brooklyn

Nuyoricans “Passing” for an Opportunity

After I was born, my father came to see us at Aunt Evangeline’s house, and since my mother was “the love of his life;” we moved with him to New York City.  We joined his older sisters and brother who migrated and settled in Brooklyn. My parents seemed to quickly become accustomed to the new culture and way of life while maintaining and blending the traditional customs of the major holidays. We used to tease my mother that she learned how to be “American” by watching “I Love Lucy” and Days of Our Lives.”

My parents socialized very little with friends outside of work so that we spent our weekends and holidays with family.  For the most part, my family is very light skinned; my cousins and I grew up without accents, and our last names did not end in “Z.”  These characteristics gave people an opportunity to get to know us before realizing that we were just an illusion of whiteness.  Yes, we were “passing” as a means to have a chance.

In school, at the church and in the neighborhood, our friends were not Puerto Rican. Our friends were the first or second generation of immigrants.  They were Italians, Irish, French, English, Polish, Canadian, Brazilian or Middle Eastern. Most spoke a second language at home.  Together we navigated the Melting Pot culture of NYC and were absorbed into the American Dream.

Celebrity Magic Shows and Miracle Excelsiors

It wasn’t all easy peasy as my granddaughter likes to say and when I hear the rhetoric, I can’t help but feel a bit of fear and frustration.  I continue to say that DJT is not the problem. He is who he is and who he has been. He didn’t get more obnoxious on the campaign trail. He did gain more visibility. I was not a fan of his before, not as a businessman or as a celebrity. I never watched his reality TV show and rolled my eyes whenever he did a cameo in a movie that took place in NYC.  I was one of those that would have bet my last dollar that he would not get into the White House.  The American people would never vote a con-man into the highest, most powerful office in the country.  By Election Day, I had changed my mind.  I watched how Americans adored his bravado and his magic displays with smoke and mirrors.  I was not surprised by his win at all.  Mostly though, I was hurt.  I continue to feel betrayed by friends and family.

A Christian Education 

I knew race tensions existed, and I was aware the KKK was still alive and well, but the events of the past couple of years reach me at a very personal level. I am reminded of my years as a young adult, my first year away from home in a Christian Bible college.  It was a small Bible College in the North East, about an hour outside of The City.  In was presented as “interdenominational” in promotional events and material.  The leader of my city wide “interdenominational” Christian high school club recommended it highly.  Interdenominational meant that all Christians around the world were welcome. Even though Baptists founded it, the school welcomed students from Presbyterians to Pentecostals in all shapes, sizes, and color.  We had to include a photo with our application.

By the end of my first semester, I learned that indeed all that glitters is not gold and whitewashing walls is a quick, effective way to cover up dirt and imperfections.  We learned that the school accepted minorities and international students of color in pairs, one man and one woman.  It was preferable if they were already married.  One of our friends was “spoken to” because people saw her around campus accompanied by a Brown student.  To be truthful, I don’t remember what country he was from, but in my memory, I recall him as perhaps from India or Pakistan.  The girl was so upset by this situation that she did not return next semester.

The Founder and President of the school taught a class on Dispensations. It was in his class that I decided not to come back after my second semester. I did not go back to my local church either.  His beliefs did not resemble the Christianity I learned at home.  His lessons were peppered with digs and condescending, derogatory remarks about other denominations that were not entirely in accord with Baptist dogma. I questioned my beliefs, my faith.  It was years before I returned to an organized religious community.

Who Are My Friends?

There were many other things about the school that made me uncomfortable,but the most hurtful thing occurred after I left the school.  I had become close friends with my roommate and a few of the girls in my dorm.  Gwen, Margaret and I were inseparable.  Margaret and I made plans to visit our boyfriends at a Christian College in New England next semester. I continued to correspond with the girls by snail mail.  One day I received a letter from Margaret.  One line in the message hit me like a gut punch.  “Gwen and I miss you so much; we had to adopt another inner-city girl.”  Wow! I thought we were friends, real friends.  I thought she was my friend because we had a lot in common because I was smart, witty and fun to be around.  She saw me as an inner-city-girl who went to her school on a partial scholarship and lived in her dorm.

Disguised, They Came For the Immigrants…

Years later, I was working at a psychiatric day services program is a New England city nicknamed “The City of Immigrants.”  One day, after the clients left, and we were meeting to review the day’s events and planning.  There was construction going on around us, and the noise prompted a co-worker, Doug, to make some awful comments, similar to DJT’s views, about the men who were working on the project. 

The workers were mostly brown men if I had to guess they were probably from countries in South America and the Caribbean.  “I can’t believe you just said that,” I told him. His response to justify his words was worse. I explained that these men could very well be my cousin, brother, or father.  While he had never been disrespectful to me or made racist comments of our clients in front of me, it hurt me that he thought this way of these people he didn’t even know – just because of the color of their skin and their accents.

Doug was a man that I worked with for several years; we co-facilitated successful groups, we walked together at lunch, had our coffee together, I considered him a close friend.  He finally said, “I’m sorry, I  just wasn’t thinking.”  It didn’t make it any better if anything, it made it worse that he wasn’t thinking about the impact of his words.  Things were never the same between us.

Then They Came for Me…

People forget I am not “white,” I am a woman “of color,” Ecru Cream is my color.  If our country were to continue to erase all the progress made regarding equality for all people; if as a nation we lose respect for basic human rights what is left for us?  What becomes of me, of my family?  If someone comes knocking on my door and drags me away because of a flippant comment I made on Twitter, will my friends stand up for me?  Will they say, “Well, you shouldn’t have said that after all, he is our President.”  I remember the words of Martin Niemoller, “… Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

All this rhetoric brings all these emotions to the surface. DJT did not get to the White House on his own merits.  Witnessing day after day that our lawmakers condone and defend his actions is very draining.  I am reminded again: “…and when an experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — George Santayana

Hope for Rational Government

The recent elections bring some hope that people realize that the current events are not just politics and business as usual, nor are they healthy for our Democracy.  On the flip side, the recent election shows that there is still lots of work to be done. The numbers were too close for comfort, and there were too many mistakes and too much irregularity at the polls. Yes, I am weary, but I am hoping that tempered and rational thought comes with the new legislators to Congress before we resort to “Hunger Games” for the dignity and survival of the 98%.  

Dem Majority can set useful goals in the House

Great opinion piece by Ronald A Klain of the Washington Post.   Now that elections are over, the democratic party needs to focus on prioritizing the needs of the people to restore some kind of balance in our Democracy.  Its time now to “resist” the negativity by getting to work regardless of what Twitter spews from the WH.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-first-five-things-the-democrats-should-do-with-their-house-majority/2018/11/06/54e99b3a-e1fc-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?fbclid=IwAR1TX4qnil1EtkKn_uGfggPyS_4niz6d0xByaMElll1j8ChGpPE8MdmE22k&utm_term=.8791018d4f7f

Left Behind after a Death

A social media post reminded me the other night that it was a year to the day since my cousin, Joe died.  I’m sad I didn’t remember, I spoke to his mom earlier that day. We talked for an hour about all sorts of trivial things, but she didn’t mention him till we were wrapping up.  Even then, she told me it was his wife that missed him.  She said: “Lizzy called this morning and told me she had been dreaming of Joe.”  I’m usually more on the ball and can pick up things with my “third ear.” She called because she was sad, but I missed it. 

I grew up close to my cousin and his sister.  Our families would get together every weekend when we were kids in Brooklyn.  He was the best man at my brother’s wedding.  He went to prep school in New England on a scholarship, and after that, as the years past, we saw each other very little.  I know he was a family man; crazy about his kids and a good husband.  His son posted a sweet memorial that day and wished his dad would have been around to meet his first granddaughter.

When hurricane Maria caused chaos in Puerto Rico, Joe went to get his recently widowed mom and brought her back to stay with his family until he was sure things were better in her town.   It was November when he dropped his mom off at the airport. That day, Joe told his mom that he wasn’t planning to retire anytime soon.  He liked his job and was in good health.  “I’m in it for the long haul,” he told her. They said goodbye, and he went to work.   A few hours later, a co-worker found him slumped over his desk. It was his heart. He was 60 years old.  My aunt didn’t go to the funeral; she didn’t want to see her little boy buried.

trees in park

This incident got me thinking about how after death, life goes on around us here on earth. I remember feeling disconnected from everything and everyone whenever I’ve lost someone very close to me.  I sat at my desk one day holding back tears because I was in pain and the world keep spinning on its tilted axis.  The sun and the moon each came up as scheduled, people worked, laughed and played all around me as they had the day before and the day before that. I wanted to scream “STOP!  It still hurts, Can’t you see?  I’ve lost a part of me.” Intellectually, I know we all take turns with grieving one thing or another; and we all grieve differently, but at that moment, it hit me how personal grieving really is, but as they say, “the beat goes on.” 

Growing up, as an Evangelical in Brooklyn, I knew nothing of the “Day of the Dead” traditions.  In that fundamentalist religious culture, anything otherworldly is anathema, considered evil and would lead straight to perdition.  It is that way for Halloween and the “pagan” Gaelic origins in Samhain.  I find it interesting that both the Aztecs and ancient people of Scottish-Irish islands had similar celebrations before Christianity got to there. I was curious and learned that other ancient cultures in addition to China and Japan also set aside one day to celebrate or honor the dead ancestors.

 I found out later in life that my grandparents traditionally celebrated the Day of the Dead, but with a somber tone.  Even though they were not Catholic, they liked to be respectful of the family members who passed on before them. It was a day of quiet reflection for them. When I converted to Catholicism several years ago, I found the celebrations of All Souls Day and All Saints very comforting.  I’m glad that the Church did not erase the sentiment behind these “pagan” traditions.

In my family, we have lost many loved ones prematurely by today’s standards, but really who is to say how many days are in the itinerary for this journey.   Because we don’t know, we are encouraged to live each day to the fullest, to take every opportunity or to “make it a great day.”  What happens when things don’t work out the way we plan? 

A long time ago, I decided to embrace the idea that life or success is not a straight shot.  At least it hasn’t worked that way for me or others I have met along the way.  As I mentioned to someone the other day, getting to our goal is perhaps more like using the subway system or public transit to get our errands done at the different stops along the way.  Let’s say we have a “to do” list, and sometimes we forget or miss an item and have to go back, or we find something interesting but unexpected, and we are detained for longer than we planned.

Of course, sometimes the train malfunctions and we need to rethink our strategy.  The problem is out of our control, but we need to get things done.  What do we do?  We get out and walk, take the next train, find other means of transportation or look at how we can rearrange priorities to maximize our time.  

I’ve been fortunate to have great role models.  Grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles who taught me that is possible to overcome obstacles.  I have heard stories of any one of them who was helpful to someone in need, even though they may have been confronting their own struggles.  People remember them with love and admiration. 

None of them were famous or of great wealth, but they left a mark that they were here.  During these days of celebrating life and death, I didn’t light candles or put out food for their visit, but I remember them and honor their lives every day.  And if there is a bridge or door or whatever for the spirits of our loved ones to visit, I hope they are pleased with how their seeds have grown and flourished. 

I loved the movie “Coco” #Disney magic.

 

Why Bring Flowers?

Used to be Love, Flowers, and Goodbye

adult blur bouquet boy

Tildie slowly exhaled and closed her laptop.  Every morning after meditations, she checked her emails and social media. Now and then Tildie would come across the story of the eighty-year-old man who walked five miles to have breakfast with his wife in a memory care facility. When people asked him why he continued to go daily for so many years if she didn’t remember him; his answer always gave Clotilde “Tildie” Delsapo reason to pause: “She doesn’t remember me, but I remember her, and I haven’t forgotten how we used to be.”

Tildie dressed this morning with an old Barbara Streisand – Neil Diamond duet on her mind. The song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” had taken on a new meaning for her. On rough days she would sing it fighting back the tears.

Today Tildie decided to stop on her way and buy fresh flowers from the garden nursery. She knew Sergio could still appreciate the beauty and perhaps the sweet fragrance would trigger a memory.  She would make sure there were sprigs of lavender with hopes that somewhere in his new world he would find her.

At one time Sergio and Tildie were two spirits bound by love flying high above the clouds and earthly troubles. It wasn’t all rainbows and chocolates, but she had chosen to file the bad memories in a separate place. Tildie remembered the laughter, the tenderness and the adventures they shared.  She remembered their late night talks. In her arms he was able to unlock the complex emotions he kept hidden from the rest. Tildie recalled how finding a smiley face on a post-it note in her notebook, kept a silly grin on her face for the rest of the day.  

Sergio Miviere taught her many things about the world, about love, about herself.  He helped her believe in her talents and pursue her dreams.  Sometimes as they ate ice cream by the seashore, they would people watch. They would sit close together and whisper stories. They could build on each other’s imagination to create vignettes about their surroundings.  “How do you come up with this stuff?” he told her often as he giggled like a small boy. 

He had a scholar’s mind and could rationalize or give explanations in great detail about anything.  Teaching was second nature, everything was a life-lesson, and she loved to hear him talk about the world around them.  Yes, she thought, intelligence IS sexy. 

She first started to notice a problem, when he talked to her of people she didn’t know, or he would say, “Remember the other day we were at  …” but she had never been there.  He had been there for business or with friends. She wanted to ignore the signs, but others started to ask concerned questions. 

By far the saddest moment was when Sergio finally put aside his pride and acknowledged that his difficulty went beyond distraction or the stress having a lot on his mind. She watched him change before her eyes as he became angry and fearful of what was to come. Tildie promised Sergio all her love; to be with him forever. 

In the years that followed they took extra care to cherish every moment.  Every sunrise and sunset marked another day they were together. They received each day in gratitude, but little by little Sergio went down a path that left Tildie behind, alone to make difficult decisions.   

brown moth hovering over lavender flower

The day Sergio moved to the care center was just another day of muddled talk and confusion for him. He stared at the ceiling as they helped him to bed unable to find words to ask questions. In that bed, Tildie left a shell of the man she loved, but also a piece of her heart.  That night she couldn’t sleep, and the next morning she was at the Center by his bed before he awoke.  He didn’t know who she was, but she knew him.  She remembered who they used to be, Sergio and Tildie. 

On good days Tildie thought there was a flicker of recognition. He would let her lay in bed with him. She liked to believe that his spirit remembered hers. She held him and sang to him “May I have this Dance?” until he fell asleep. 

Blog bouquet of flowers by Amelie Ohlrogge on UnsplashToday there was a vase of fresh flowers on the desk by the window with sprigs of lavender.  Sergio’s eyes widened, perhaps in recognition of a memory they shared, but he no longer had the words. These moments had become Tildie’s life.  How could she learn to say goodbye?

 

 

The more I write, the more I become aware of my process, and I’m beginning to see patterns in my writing.  Even though I don’t post every day, I make it my business to sit down and work on something. I wrote this piece for my critique group this week. It’s flash fiction, and my challenge is trying to stay within the 750 words. I looked at some things in my drafts folder and started a few other stories, but nothing seemed to motivate me enough to put energy into it. 

I went to see the new “A Star is born” last weekend. It was excellent on its own but some aspects still reminded me of Barbara Streisand. I started playing some of my favorites and was inspired to write this story with limited knowledge on the subject. It was well received in the group. Coincidently, another writer shared a personal account and a few poems about the same topic from a different point of view followed by some interesting discussion.  I got some great suggestions which I will work on in the future, but it will certainly be more than 750 words. 

(Pictures are not my own. Borrowed from Pexels on WordPress)

A Book Review from a Writer’s Book Club

shallow focus photography of couple ants holding book figurine
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The focus

I joined a new book club because I like to read and discuss books with likeminded people. A book club offers the opportunity to explore books and authors that wouldn’t otherwise catch my attention, and I was glad to find this one through my local writers’ group. The club’s focus is Twentieth Century Classics from a writer’s perspective.   This month’s pick was “Quartet in Autumn” by Barbara Pym.

I have been writing and making up stories all my life, but it has been within the past few months that I’ve decided to own the title of “writer,” or “unpublished writer” to be exact.  It had been a while since I had participated in a book club group and I liked the idea of reviewing the book as a writer to determine what makes it a classic. 

The author and her book

The author, Barbara Pym, introduced the Quartet, the four main characters, at a 1970’s London office where they create an ensemble of unremarkable and unmarried middle-aged office clerks waiting to retire.  Working together for many years, they develop a vague relationship bordering on friendship, but the characters, accustomed to living alone, can’t imagine crossing the line from co-workers to friends.  The book has moments of British humor and elements of surprise.

I had never heard of Barbara Pym.  As I began to enjoy the story, I looked her up to see what else she’d written.  It turns out she has quite a following, and she often is compared to Jane Austen.  There is even a Barbara Pym Society.  While her writing has similarities to Austen’s stories of everyday English life, one book critic in a 2015 New Yorker article points out that Pym’s novels don’t have the fanciful happening ending.  In “Quartet in Autumn” however, the story of these unassuming characters leaves one with this message from Letty Crowe: “But at least it made one realize that life still held infinite possibilities for change.”   

How it relates

I liked the book from the beginning and considered it a page-turner as I read with anticipation trying to guess how the writer was going to play out the lives of the low-key characters in the story.  You may have noticed that my tagline “Verbal Snapshots of a Simple Life.” That is precisely what caught my attention about “Quartet in Autumn.”  It triggered an interest in more books by Barbara Pym especially after I read critics describe her work as “comfort food.” That’s precisely the feeling I would like to create in my writings. The book speaks to my conviction to treat each person with kindness because I don’t know what they struggle with in their life.   Her stories focus on people doing mundane things, as everyone does in real life.  If we take the time, we can notice that each person has a story and as I’ve learned, each person is the star of their own movie. 

Six people besides me attended the book club meeting; three didn’t like the book at all, one was lukewarm, and the woman who recommended the book is a member of the Barbara Pym Society.   Discussing books in such groups highlights the power or magic of the written word.  It reminds us that how we receive a book or a story depends on where we are in our own lives.  Is the writer tapping into a universal truth? Can the reader identify with the characters, why or why not? Is there anything familiar in the storyline such as time, place, occupation, relationship or social nuance? 

For example, half the group thought the main characters were mere “blobs.” They saw the characters as grey people in a dark room and read the book with no expectation that it was going to offer anything more. Their final synopsis was that the novel was boring and depressing.  I think however that the author’s intention was just the opposite.  I think she wanted to show that we adapt to changes in our lives and find unexpected opportunities where we thought there were none.  Sometimes life forces us to find alternatives to suit our personal evolution.

Writing style and expectations

It is not surprising those folks that found the book boring appeared to be of the mind that an adventure is around every corner and if it’s not there, one is obligated to find it. Fortunately, not every writer is a Hemmingway or in need an adrenaline rush to make life appear worthwhile.  I tend to enjoy finding treasure in simple things. I don’t mind a quiet walk in the mornings. I do enjoy exploring and experiencing new adventures, but I am content with living a simple life where each day may or may not bring new opportunities for drama or swashbuckling pirates for example.   

In the interpretation of the book, beyond the printed word, one realizes that the people portrayed in the story are not monochrome at all; they all have a particular story, and their backstory brought them to where they are in the present.  The characters dreamed of different plans for their life. They didn’t envision themselves in a backroom office waiting to retire, but life happens, and they made it work for them.  Even at this stage of life, they found as long as one has breath, it’s never too late to change course, and make a difference one person at a time.  That is a message that I want to send in my writing as well.

Recommended

I would recommend this book to curious minds like myself, willing to discover what’s beyond that which you expect to see. I would challenge the reader to see the value and worth in others that may not be like you but have a place in your world.  Take a good look at the people in your neighborhood such as the clerk at the deli counter, the valet at the parking lot, or the maintenance man in your building.  Say good morning, thank you or I appreciate your service.  It means I see you; I recognize the humanness in you is the same as it is in me.   I believe if we can regain that human connection we make the world better one person at a time. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review.  I’m planning to continue to share my impressions and let you know what I’ve learned from these great writers.  It will be my turn soon to pick three classics for the book club to choose.  We have a list, but I’d like to hear your recommendations.  Thanks for stopping by.

Here’s a little more about my writing style.  https://rosalind.life/2018/04/19/letter-r-reality-and-beyond/

pile of hardbound books with white and pink floral ceramic teacup and saucer
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

Why it Matters

The Question

During Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Kamala Harris asked Judge Brett Kavanaugh the question that crossed my mind while hearing his opening statement.  “Do you agree that men can be friends with some women and treat other women badly?”  To which the Judge responded, “Of course, but the point I’m trying to emphasize is…” At which time he brought up the 65 signatures of women who have been his friends since he was fourteen. 

Here is a segment of Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement:                                                  “Dr. Ford’s allegation stems from a party that she alleges occurred during the summer of 1982, 36 years ago. I was 17 years old between my junior and senior years of high school at Georgetown Prep, a rigorous, all-boys Catholic Jesuit high school in Rockville, Maryland. When my friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually with friends from nearby Catholic all-girls high schools: Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross. Dr. Ford did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms, and she was a year behind me. She and I did not travel in the same social circles. It is possible that we met at some point at some events, although I do not recall that.” Judge Brett Kavanaugh at Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The Belief System

For several years I co-facilitated groups on Family Violence Prevention, specifically working with men who batter.  The educational model centered around the dynamics of power and control in relationships.  As part of the curriculum, we explore belief systems that present one person as inferior to the other and as such may imply permission to abuse another person whether physically, verbally or emotionally. 

One of the belief systems we addressed centered on the Christian teachings of the two Marys of the mentioned most New Testament. The belief dominates cultures based on strong Catholic traditions which include the Catholic Mariology dogma of a pure virgin, the Mother of God – Blessed Mother Mary.  The New Testament also highlights the story of Mary Magdalene, who according to tradition was a prostitute until she met Jesus Christ, and she became a vital figure in the community of believers.

During the educational sessions, our groups explored how these traditions are passed down through generations creating a belief that categorizes women in two roles; chaste, sober women as mothers and wives, while every other woman is of less value. One group of women is protected while the other is dehumanized. Strong language I know, but I think that during the past century we continue as a nation to figure out the boundaries and social norms in response to recognizing a women’s equal human rights.  I think the people in power feel threatened on many levels and in the effort to turn back the clock, we have lost that vision of justice for all.  

It is my opinion that this deep-rooted belief system may be the reason why there is a detachment from the events in Judge Kavanaugh’s memories; the reason he has no recollection.  In his introductory statement, he mentions the kinds of girls he chose to socialize with, girls from other Catholic Schools in the area.  I’ll bet that these probably were also the daughters of his parents’ friends or the sisters of his “brothers” at Georgetown or Yale.  He added that Dr. Ford “did not travel in the same social circles.”  One could wonder if that perhaps that made Dr. Ford a “non-person” to young Billy Kavanaugh and his social group.

Point of View: Privilege or Tradition

My theory can explain why her name did not get noted in his calendar and why he says he does not remember.  We tend to keep memories that are important to us.  It was a significant memory for Dr. Christine Baisley Ford but not for Judge Kavanaugh or any of the others.  The others did not feel trapped or fear for their lives.  It seems that for the others at the gathering, it was as Dr. Ford described it, just like any other “spur of the moment” gathering at someone’s house.  The other teens may remember it vaguely one of many chances to have a few beers, and if one got “lucky,” maybe get a piece of a$*.  Dr. Ford’s friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, came forward in support of her friend although she didn’t remember the event. We don’t know what she experienced that day. There were, after all, enough “friends” left in the house for another “triangle” –two boys and a girl.

During his testimony, Judge Kavanaugh made excuses for underage drinking.  Reports say he lied about the drinking age in Maryland at the time of the incident in question. Various online news sources point out the law was changed seven months before he turned eighteen in January of 1983.  A couple of times he mentioned that seniors at Georgetown Prep could buy alcohol because they were of age, but didn’t own the fact that he was seventeen when enjoyed his beer.  Is his view based on privilege or traditions and beliefs that “Boys will be boys?”  He avoided many questions with indirect answers, and instead repeated practiced statements to take up time.  Do we remember that he had coaching sessions before the hearing?   

Emotional Response

The Family Violence Prevention program also had an educational unit that discussed how people use angry outbursts to intimidate and get situations under control and to turn in their favor.  We see that displayed with Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Lindsay Graham, who I believe had additional reasons for his show of unbridled rage.  Kavanaugh started the afternoon as I saw many men in our groups, angry, blaming others and indignant that they were accused of such terrible things.  I would have had more respect for him if he had at least owned the allegations from his friend or his roommate, that he drank severely and that these circumstances presented so often, it was difficult to tell one from the other.  Instead, he belittled his friends in an attempt to make their recollection of him void, without importance or significance.   One he described a drug addict and the other disgruntled roommate – so much for loyalty.

How about those tears?  Was he ashamed or remorseful?  I’ll bet, not because he hurt these women, but because his future and the persona he worked hard to create was getting challenged.  The world was learning about another side of Judge Kavanaugh.  I believe Mark Judge’s testimony is in his book Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, in which he described what life was like in the elite schools in the suburbs of Maryland.  In it, he has a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” As a writer, I rename any character based on a friend or family member.  I play around with the names, leaving clues for some readers to recognize the person.   I believe Mark Judge did the same but put little effort into concealing the name to protect the innocent.  I wonder why?

Why it Matters in 2018

He was just a teenager in high school, a red-blooded young man in college, why does it matter now? Has it been an issue in his professional life before now?  Somehow the Judge Kavanaugh that we see now, managed to effectively play the game he was trained to win early on.  Could it be that his character was never questioned because he had the right credentials or the right pedigreed?  The current line of questioning centered on his professional experiences, until the allegations were made public.  After so many years in Washington DC, he was privy to the types of questions and then like a good athlete or debater, he began to practice and build muscle.  Besides the fact that there appears to be a cover-up of his character flaws, if we look back at his decisions in lower courts, we will notice patterns of consistent rulings or dissentions based on his beliefs and conservative politics.  In my opinion, they are not necessarily based on the merits of cases in front of him.  

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I will briefly summarize points that caught my eye as they pertain to issues that are important to me.

-He has demonstrated that he does not favor separation of church and state. A 2015 dissent indicating ACA infringes on religious freedom and that organizations should not be mandated to offer contraception to their employees.  He has suggested that he is open to widening the flow of public funding to religious schools and during a CNN appearance in 2000 he predicted that the court would one day uphold school vouchers. 

– He wrote a 2016 opinion saying employers can require workers to waive their right to picket in arbitration agreements. 

-In 2014 ruling over an EPA rule on toxic mercury from power plants, he wrote in a dissent that EPA had acted wrongly in not weighing costs when it first decided to write a regulation. 

-He said the 2010 Dodd-Frank law had wrongly placed “enormous executive power” in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s single director, which Republicans and the banking industry want to replace with a multi-member commission. 

-In 1999 wrote on behalf of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes race-based affirmative action in college admissions.

Character matters

I believe our core-self develops early on.  Definitely, by high school, our personality and character can reflect how we deal with what life brings our way. I am a firm believer that people can change. We mature, we evolve we come to terms with our beliefs, our strengths, and weaknesses. We remove or replace behaviors and make modifications in our lives to become better persons.  Likewise, of course, some people go in the opposite direction based on personal experiences that negatively mark their lives, but I have found they live with hope to change.  In either direction, in order to improve, we must acknowledge there is a problem.  There must be something we want to change. 

Here is another way to see what I’m trying to say.  rosalind.life/2018/09/29/with-the-mouth-she-kisses-my-kids/

Will he be confirmed if nothing catastrophic shows up in the investigation this week?  All things are possible.  After all, DJT is President, MRP is his Vice President, and the country is littered with government-sponsored zoos that exhibit human children in cages for their safety. 

Get out and vote on November 6th!

With the Mouth She Kisses My Kids

From the movie Analyze This                                                                                                 (Robert De Niro as a mob boss Paul Vitti and Billy Crystal as a psychiatrist, Ben Sobel)

Dr. Sobel: What happened with your wife last night?

Paul Vitti: I wasn’t with my wife, I was with my girlfriend.

Dr. Sobel: Are you having marriage problems?

Paul Vitti: No.

Dr. Sobel: Then why do you have a girlfriend?

Paul Vitti: What, are you gonna start moralizing on me?

Dr. Sobel: No, I’m not, I’m just trying to understand, why do you have a girlfriend?

Paul Vitti: I do things with her I can’t do with my wife.

Dr. Sobel: Why can’t you do them with your wife?

Paul Vitti: Hey! That’s the mouth she kisses my kids goodnight with! What are you, crazy?

I wanted to add the clip for a better understanding but I couldn’t isolate the clip of this scene. I’ve just added the dialog.                                                                                                   

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Think about that in light of the events of this week.  The situation is not a joke.

Stay tuned for my next post to see why it matters

There is no magic to forgive and forget

broken heart love sadI read another sad post the other day about relationships and the conundrum/riddle of forgive and forget.  I believe one can forgive someone for hurting us and continue life without resentment or hold a grudge toward that person. Without going to any textbook explanation, but rather based on pure personal observation, I believe that not forgetting what has hurt us, is merely an instinct for survival.  We need to remember danger to learn to avoid it.

My dog hates medicine for her ears, it fizzles in her ear as it goes down.  It has been years since she’s had an infection, but if she hears me shaking a bottle with liquid, she stands by the stairs waiting to see if I am going to come after her. If she sees me taking a step in her direction, she runs up the stairs and under my bed.  If I give her a piece of cheese or meat, she will smell it first to make sure there isn’t medicine in it. She had a treat in her mouth once, tasted the medicine, promptly spit it out and ran up the stairs and under my bed.  I also have a seven-year-old niece that has severe allergies that sometimes cause anything from severe swelling to seizures.  From about age three and a half; she understood that some foods make her feel very sick.  Before she orders at a restaurant or any new environment she will say: “I have allergies, does this have…” It is truly a matter of survival for her.

While the breakdown of the relationship can refer to romantic partners, parent-child, siblings or best friends, the premise is the same. One person hurt another, and a trust was broken. Does it really matter why?  I believe that to expect a person to forget is selfish and would appear that your wishes, personal need to feel better or comfortable with the situation, are more important than the other person’s healing process. 

I often hear “I apologized and promised not to do it again. I’m trying to make it up to him.  What more does she want? Why does she/he keep bringing it up? ”  News flash, It’s not about you; it’s their healing process. They want to be OK. They want to stop hurting,  to heal, and be able to trust again.  You can’t speed it up, and you can’t make it better.  The process needs to come from within the person.  If you are honestly doing all you can do, keep doing it and wait it out.  There is no quick fix or magic potion.  Sometimes on the other side healing, that person may decide they are OK, but they don’t want or can’t be OK with you, and you will need to accept that.   

We are all selfish to a degree. I like the analogy that we are all protagonist in our very own movie.  We all wish life was perfect; that the sun would shine brightly every day and that it rains only on our flower beds.  No one wants to feel pain, and we all wish that our happiness is all that mattered to anyone we encounter.  Even the most loving, giving person hopes that someday, out of the blue, someone would do something special for them in appreciation.    

I believe time does heal but doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were. When a broken bone heals, there are signs that healing took place.  When something is mended, the repair makes it stronger; but sometimes it continues to be weak in that area.  Some people do manage to find that special place again but it takes work, and it takes time to rebuild that trust and with it to restore that loving feeling. 

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I used to hate it when my friend would say “It is what it is. There is no magic.”   One year I gave her ruby-red slippers and a magic wand from the costume store with a note that said “BELIEVE” written in fairy dust sprinkle.  I still believe in the supernatural power of love but sometimes, it is what it is, and there IS no magic wand.