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Those “Girls”

January 27, 2017

With all due respect to Mary Tyler Moore — God rest her soul — I just need to say that Mary Richards was not the first independent, professional working woman on television. While I loved Mary in both of her early TV shows and enjoyed watching her awkward grace and unique comedic timing, my favorite female lead was Marlo Thomas in That Girl. She lived alone, had a boyfriend and a respectable job, stood up to her manipulative but lovable father, and navigated the working world with style.

There was also Julia, played with quiet dignity by Diahann Carroll. She was a professional nurse and single parent — not because her husband was a deadbeat dad, but because he had died a war hero. While neither of these shows pushed the envelope as far as feminists and womanists wanted, they both still provided strong female leads who were making it on their own. In my mind, they probably paved the way for Mary.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was groundbreaking in its own right, with female writers and subject matter that made the network censors nervous. Without taking anything away from MTM, I would like to suggest that without Thomas and Carroll, Moore might have had a harder time getting the show she wanted on the air. And perhaps Moore kicked the door open wider for Mariska Hargitay and Viola Davis, and so on and so on.

While it is usually the younger generation that explores different gender roles and new ways to push the envelope, none of us should forget the work of the previous generations and how dependent we are on the accomplishments of those who came before us.

Mary Tyler Moore is one of those trail blazers. Tonight I celebrate her and all those women who dared to be different — and who succeeded.

Healing

December 27, 2016

I haven’t posted in a few months because of a bum shoulder. It has been a year-long degeneration that in the last few months has left me sore and frustrated. I have an automatic, so I can still drive, but lifting communion trays, moving tables and chairs at church, scooping ice cream, playing the piano or guitar, and sometimes even talking (since my hands seem to enter the conversation of their own accord) all put a strain on my right shoulder and arm.

Worst of all, it hurts to type, because, like the character Natalie Keener in Up in the Air, “I type with purpose.”

I’ve been to the chiropractor, the physical therapist, and my general practitioner. The chiropractor got me almost healed, but then the shoulder popped out again and was worse than ever. He insisted I get an MRI, which was a two-month-long process that eventually revealed no tears and no tumors. Good news, right? But if there is nothing obvious to fix, how does my shoulder get better?

The orthopedic doctor told me to take it easy. Evidently, I don’t know how to do that, although I have tried. The pastoral intern helps quite a bit during worship service, especially during communion (God bless Lauretta). The congregation is marvelous at taking things out of my hands when I try to fetch and carry (God bless the church). And my beloved is the best at taking care of me without complaint (God bless Brian).

Best of all, after my first cortisone shot, my range of motion is beginning to improve. Maybe, one day, it won’t hurt so much to type, with or without purpose. So, forgive me for being a little lax in my posts until I heal. Or, until I figure out how to use the voice activated feature on my computer. This is, after all, the season of miracles.

A Cuppa With Honey

October 8, 2016

I now face a dilemma. I must decide whether to order a cup of hot tea with honey while dining out or take pity on the wait staff and simply drink water.

You see, I just read an article at Delish.com that listed “14 Things You Should Never, Ever Say To Your Server.” Number 3 on the list was asking for hot tea. Here’s the exact quote:

“It sounds simple but really it takes forever to pull together. Especially when there’s a basket of brews to choose from, a mug and saucer to balance, and a piping hot mini kettle to juggle along with it. Worst yet is when you honey *and* lemon with it.”

I had no idea that ordering something on the menu was a dining “faux pas.” I was also surprised that, although Delish.com suggested I should never call my server sweetie, honey, baby or sugar, they didn’t offer suggestions on what to do when my server addresses me by any of those endearments.

Some of their imperatives are no-brainers. Don’t whistle at the servers. Don’t be rude about the cost of the food. Don’t ask to be seated for dinner 10 minutes before the restaurant closes. But when they suggest that you shouldn’t request a particular seat or ask for any substitutions, I begin to wonder if they want us to enjoy our dining experience at all.

Oh well, it’s probably just another sign of the times. The customer is no longer right, service is not the first priority of business, and guarantees are a thing of the past. The treasured customer has turned into the “entitled” consumer, rude, demanding, and needing to be schooled.

Okay. I give. I’d rather get along than fight. From now on, I’ll order for the grandkids so as not to waste the server’s time. I’ll sit where they tell me to sit unless offered an option. And I will forgo my cuppa to save the server the hassle of pulling it all together.

Unless they call me honey, in which case honey is exactly what I will request with my tea. Sorry, Delish.com, but I don’t think I’d be able to resist the power of suggestion!

The End of an Era

October 3, 2016

It’s over. It’s hard to believe, but true. The silky smooth voice that I cherished for so many summer days and nights has called its last game.

Vin Scully has retired.

Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1950, has received many honors and awards in his career, including having a Dodger Stadium street named after him, so that the address of the LA Dodgers is now 1000 Vin Scully Avenue. Fitting tributes have been raining down upon this hero of the broadcast booth, especially in this his last year, and he has remained as modest as ever.

His closing address is classic Vinnie. No words I could write would eclipse his own, as humble and heartfelt as the man himself:

“You know friends, so many people have wished me congratulations on a 67-year career in baseball and they wished me a wonderful retirement with my family and now, all I can do is tell you what I wish for you.

“May God give you…                                                                                                                                        For every storm, a rainbow, for every tear, a smile,                                                                                For every care, a promise, and a blessing in each trial.                                                                          For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share,                                                                        For every sigh, a sweet song,                                                                                                                        And an answer for each prayer.

“You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know in my heart I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me. And I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day and, eventually, a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, oh, rest assured, once again, it will be time for Dodger baseball.

“So this is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon – wherever you may be.” 

Vinnie, thanks for your work. Thanks for being there when we needed you. Thanks for carrying on when others might have faltered. Thanks for being a class act. Thanks for everything. And a very pleasant good evening to you, too.

 

The Election

September 17, 2016

During a visit last night, where friends and I discussed current events, we came to the conclusion that, as far as presidential elections go, we haven’t had much of a horse race in many a quadrennium. As I drove home pondering our conversation, I began to wonder.

What if they gave an election and nobody came?

So I did some research. Do you know what happens if none of the presidential candidates get the required 270 electoral votes? In such a case, the task falls to Congress. Get that? Congress!!

The House of Representatives get to elect the President by majority vote from the three candidates with the most electoral votes. The Senate gets to choose between the two Vice-Presidential candidates with the most votes.

While I have been less than enthusiastic about the choices that will be on the ballot this year, I find the consequences of a stymied election a huge motivation to vote.

I hope you do, too.

 

 

Failing College

August 25, 2016

Just recently, I’ve heard talk that colleges across the country are finally beginning to do something about the rampant “rape crisis” occurring on their campuses. Their solution? Prohibiting hard liquor on campus. Those celebrating this news find their joy in the logic that decreasing access to alcohol will decrease the number of rapes.

Let me just clarify something: Alcohol does not rape. There are plenty of alcoholics who manage to get through a bender without raping anyone. Yes, cognition is impaired with alcohol, but there are plenty of impaired individuals who stagger around without disregarding another human being’s right to her own body. (Please don’t read this as a defense of alcoholism but rather an attempt to restore accountability.)

Rape is a crime of power and control, not a sexual act or a crime of Sex While Impaired. You can remove all the hard liquor you want and even come back for the beer and wine, but you will still have rape, because you will still have men who feel entitled to treat women like property. You will still have men who encourage one another to treat rape like a game or a hunting party, with women as the prey.

It is my opinion that as women become more empowered, men feel an increased need to act out in this shameful way, an attempt to put women in their place by dominating them sexually. Have you noticed that rapes on campus have increased since Title 9? It is a theory of mine that bears consideration.

If we truly want to make rape a crime of the past, we need to raise young men who are not threatened by sharing power. We need to teach our children that gender equality is a basic human right. They need to hear that sex is not a game or a sport. We need to stand up to the rapists and abusers in our midst to very clearly let them know that these kinds of actions are not acceptable.

If the colleges really want to make a difference, they should begin monitoring the actions of their students more closely and when a transgression occurs, remove the perpetrator — NOT the victim — from the environment. Until perpetrators feel there is a real, long-lasting consequence for THEM, rape will continue, alcohol or no alcohol.

Power seeks to retain power. And by the way, it is not the rapists who hold all the power. Power is shared by the administrative bodies of colleges, along with the wealthy alumni who influence decision-making. They are the ones who receive the failing grade from me, for abuse of power and for continuing to privilege athletes who “make money” for these institutions of higher learning at the expense of the safety of their female students.

Alcohol is not the culprit, it is the excuse. Rapists are responsible for rape, along with the colleges and universities that enable them. I give you an F- and insist you repeat all Humanities courses until you achieve that “higher” learning you espouse.

 

 

 

Calls

August 6, 2016

Went on calls yesterday. Visited a few church friends who are struggling with poor health and the changes it has brought to their lives. It is a subject my beloved and I discuss often. We are all a heartbeat away from life-altering circumstances and we see evidence of that every week in our respective lines of work.

It is enough, at the very least, to give us pause. At worst, it scares the daylights out of us. We recognize that we are already on the downward slide of life, where we will begin downsizing in preparation for physical disability that may prevent us from navigating stairs and doing yard work. We know that, if we live long enough, we may end up in an assisted-living facility, where our room may consist of a bed, a chair, a dresser and a television, our roommate may be the anti-Christ, and the food may taste like sawdust.

These and other similar thoughts were on my mind as I concluded my last visit. Exiting the hospital elevator, I found myself walking next to a young man in his early 20s. He was crying. I couldn’t help asking him if I could help. He said no. We kept walking toward the parking lot and I intruded on his grief again, saying, “I don’t want to bother you, but I hate to see anyone so upset. Do you know someone in the hospital?”

He began telling me about his grandpa, who was struggling with the same life challenges that had crowded my thoughts a moment before. Grandpa was never going home. Grandpa was never going to be able to go fishing, or bowling, or attend ball games. Grandpa was never going to be the same again. “What’s the point of it all?” he asked. “You spend your whole life working and then bam, it’s all over. What’s the point of any f—ing thing?”

As he talked about how much he was going to miss doing those things that he used to do with his grandpa, it sounded as if all his fun days were over, as well. It sounded as if he would never be the same again. I asked if his grandpa would want him to stop fishing and bowling and going to ball games. “Of course not” he said, “but that’s not the point.” “Isn’t it?” I asked. We talked a bit more about his grandpa’s legacy of fun and how he could continue that legacy by sharing it with others. After all, life isn’t about where we end up, but how we spend our days getting there.

I don’t know about him, but I felt better as I drove away.

“In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln