A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

I’m feeling oddly celebratory today. Maybe it’s because a mountain of stressful chaos has been hurled from our national shoulders.

But there’s more…

Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, all yummy food and no religion.

Maybe it’s because I submitted my first book query to a publisher yesterday — I’ve been dawdling for years.

Maybe I’m just so grateful (or “grated full,” as one of my former students once wrote) for my amazing two children and their loving, supportive spouses.

Maybe it’s my weekly stroll on Douglas Spring trail, where a cheery Tucson breeze had my back.

Or is it Dr. Fauci’s assurance that an effective vaccine is coming, and that my dream of traveling to Sicily will happen?

Could it be a photo of my older brother smiling, holding up a copy of Barack Obama’s memoir that I sent as a birthday present.

Maybe it’s Dan chatting with me this morning as he plays The Bobs’ fun a cappella tunes in the background.

Maybe it’s the great Netflix Korean TV shows, which show some gory murders but mostly portray complex characters, their shades of gray and commitment to kindness and goodness. These shows ruin me for mindless American TV.

Disdain for America’s black and white divisions seems palpable. Where are our shades of gray? I don’t expect unity. But perhaps a bit more compassion for all citizens, regardless of their bank accounts or lack thereof?

Although today feels like it’s mine all mine, this celebratory feeling is also the ever-present hope that ALL Americans can benefit from this rich society, not just a few.

Now for the last few episodes of “The Good Detective,” my current favorite Korean TV show. In a few hours I’ll read aloud William Steig’s “Brave Irene” on FaceTime.

Are you celebrating too? I hope so.

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A Somewhat Entertaining Political Dream

A typical Tucson blue sky sparkles above us. Sipping a glass of Prosecco with a few friends at a pop-up patio restaurant. Other twos and threes sit socially distanced at their tables, respectful of our limited lives during this never-ending covid pandemic. We’re happy to be among people, birds singing on their branches. These days, an hour socializing, these days.

“No one I know will attend Monday’s manic and panicked rally at the Tucson International airport,” I say in this dream of a few nights ago. “Why is he even coming here?” We three book-group pals shake our heads, repeating nasty words.

“I hope they fumigate the airport afterward,” one friend says. “It’s so icky thinking of him being here.”

“Tucson is a Democratic city. The Republican Party didn’t even pick a mayoral candidate in last year’s election,” I say. “They knew it would be a waste of money.”

Sipping more wine on such a pleasant afternoon, I feel lucky. I’m hopeful that a decent man and a smart, joyful woman will win the Nov. 3 election.

Oh please, please, please, my dreaming brain pleads. The dream — or is it a nightmare? — continues.

That’s when I see him. Moving from table to table with two big guys alongside him, their eyes darting in search of Antifa supporters, women with extra-large purses, or regular women like us with brains.

One of the Secret Service guys is carrying a stack of books.

“Who wants to buy a copy? I’ll sign it,” the make-believe president says. “Only $15 each for the most fabulous, biggest ‘Art of the Deal.’ This is your last chance. Who knows where I’ll be after Nov. 3! Putin says I can stay in his guest room for as long as I want.

What about Melania? you ask. She’ll return to our gilded NYC apartment. What’s that?

Oh yes, she’ll be wearing a mask, not because of the disappearing-any-day virus. Why would she want anyone to recognize her in that snazzy ‘I don’t care’ jacket. Yeah, she’s bummed about having to wear the same thing more than once.

Maybe I’ll return to the United States in around three years when we finalize our divorce. I don’t think Russia has an extradition treaty with us. But what do I know, right? Vlad will keep me safe. That’s what he says and I believe him. Such a great guy, so much more honest than Obama! Plus, he’s white!”

I’m staring at him in disbelief. I can’t stand it. Jumping up from my seat as soon as I finish my drink, I run past him. I want to kick him in the balls. Hard. Mostly I want to wake up instead of hearing his voice.

The Secret Service guys pounce. “I hate the fucker,” I keep yelling as they restrain me, thinking how lucky I am to not be Black. I’d be dead by now. I’m only a woman who’s had enough.

This nightmare must end on Nov. 3.

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Fake News!!!

That’s what the crook in the White House says…is anything in the news ever true?

Not to him. Only Fox News.

I picture him lounging on a gold-bordered couch in the WH living quarters, still donning his pajamas at midday, admiring his expensive bleached hairdo in a mirror by his side.

Watching TV for hours when he could get the most up-to-date real reporting at a moment’s notice.

Damn. Then he would have to read it, oh no!

What about his supporters? Do they mind paying more taxes than their mafioso cult hero? I doubt it.

What about Congressional Repugnicans who are unusually quiet today? I wonder what he has on them, his most ardent enablers.

We don’t yet know about his accountability to Putin. Perhaps the $400 million due on his debts during the next few years are tied to his best autocratic pal?

Here’s the thing: If the New York Times is lying https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html, as he claims, why not release his tax returns to show “the truth?” Easy peasy.

I’m feeling less angry at the NYT than I’ve been for the past four years. In 2016, they kept condemning Hillary for her damn emails, ignoring Trump’s criminal activities. What a great businessman…the most money he ever made was as a TV star on “The Apprentice.”

He belongs in jail and he knows it. That’s why he’s wreaking havoc on the 2020 election.

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Live History

Historic statues and landmarks may beckon some. Usually not me, but visiting family in Minneapolis a few weeks back I had to see it: Chicago Avenue where one George Floyd was put to death for being Black. His life kneed out by a white cop.

That part of Chicago Avenue was blocked off by the City of Minneapolis as a memorial, although the police kept trying to reopen the street, or so I was told by a few activists handing out water to “tourists.” The Minneapolis City Council has jurisdiction over the police and the two are at loggerheads.

Hanging out in front of the convenience store on the corner were two young men smoking cigarettes, observing the scene as they’ve probably done for years. When this man George Floyd lived and breathed like the rest of us.

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Black Lives Matter signs are ubiquitous around Minneapolis.

Two Black men, one old and one young, stood in the middle of the street arguing.

“What makes you think you can take over a street?” the older one raised his voice, gripping his perfect Siberian Husky’s leash.

“We’re oppressed,” the younger man, wearing an African motif scarf around his neck, hollered. “We’re oppressed!”

“You haven’t answered my question,” the retired cop, or perhaps a professor, said. “If you’re oppressed does that allow you to take over a city street?” The two men went on like that the whole time we were there. As a former reporter I wanted to interview them, but my former journalist son urged me not to interfere.

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My 3 1/2 year-old grandson walking around the makeshift memorial. Yes, he wanted to know what it was all about.

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to “end policing as we know it.” According to this Aug. 8 New Yorker story we know that Black Lives Matter has shifted public opinion more quickly than any activist organization in the last fifty years.

I like to think that protecting all human life matters more to Americans than spewing hate, that as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in his acceptance speech, we’re poised to move from “this season of darkness.” Let’s hope so. We’ll soon find out.

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‘Good Trouble’ makes me feel better

I felt better as I watched Real President Obama eulogize John Lewis today. “We Shall Overcome,” belted out at the end of Lewis’s memorial service in Atlanta. Jumping to my feet dancing, clapping, and singing, I recalled participating in 1960s demonstrations.

On this day that the historical aberration in the White House floated the postponement of the November presidential election, this woo-woo thought popped into my head: Did John Lewis know the Oglala Lakota quote “Today is a good day to die?” Did he know that during his memorial service Obama and others would push the absolute necessity of voting on Nov. 3?

Who was this man, a saint of American History? I’m not religious but I believe in the sanctity of John Lewis. His head was bashed in marching for voting rights in 1965. Marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Marching across a bridge named for a KKK leader.

Marching for equality every day of his life. For more than 30 years as a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, engaging in “Good Trouble” to right 400 years of inequality in this country. Who else would have led a sit-in for support of gun control legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives?

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Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.(seated left), Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (center) as they participated in a sit-down protest seeking a vote on gun control measures in 2016, after 15 hours. (NPR)

A few years ago I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Alabama. Halfway across I felt the presence of those ’60s Civil Rights activists. So powerful was the sensation, I turned around and walked back to where I started. I felt better. Had a few of my memory cells traveled back and mingled with the marchers, somehow adding support to their cause?

In a remarkable NYT op-ed destined to be published the day Lewis died, the voting rights hero encouraged young people to “[lay] down the heavy burdens of hate.”

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of living in a shithole country.

I feel better aligning with John Lewis’s optimism. I feel better imagining a Democratic electoral landslide on Nov. 3. I feel better visualizing a Democratic U.S. Senate takeover, so that some “Good Trouble” can create a new normal for all Americans.

 

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“History has its eyes on you…”

I’m angry. It’s one thing to denigrate political opponents who expect it. It’s another to cast doubt on an accomplished scientist who has saved numerous lives over a decades-long career.

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If anyone will save us from this pandemic it’s Dr. Tony Fauci!

How will history judge a criminal president who has done nothing to save Americans from Covid-19? He’s an aberration, to be sure. When I and my friends compare him so negatively to Richard Nixon you know we’re in political hell!

I’m a little OCDish about politics. I pay attention to the incompetent one’s tirades. If he wasn’t so dangerous his outrageous lies would be comical. Yesterday it was some gobbledygook about Joe Biden’s energy plan, that it would be the end of windows and suburbs?

Millions of Americans, I’m sure, feel the same way. How can we make it through this terrible one-of-a-kind time?

As a history person (former U.S. History teacher), here’s what I do to deflect my anger, even convert it to a more positive state.

   Self, I say, We’re living through a historic time. We have no idea how this pandemic and presidency will turn out. In a way, it’s exciting to watch and hope for the best. Soon we’ll have a new, nice president. Instead of deteriorating in a Herbert Hoover do-nothing phaseof our history (but way meaner and more corrupt), we’ll move forward into a 21st century FDR phase, helping and caring about all Americans

Thinking of History as surprise helps.

 

 

 

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SCOTUS, WTF?

Wearing masks during a pandemic violates their rights, say right-wing naysayers. Taking away contraceptives from women who work for religious employers that disapprove of birth control doesn’t? Why does a boss decide if a woman can afford birth control?

Justices Kagan and Breyer sided with the conservative justices that the case should be sent back to the lower court. Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayer dissented.

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“Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” Ginsburg wrote.

Viagra is covered in health insurance provided by religious employers because it’s for erectile dysfunction. Perhaps more men will be able to impregnate women if they take the drug? And that’s a good thing for Catholics and other religious types.

I’m guessing that many men sure as hell don’t care about adding more babies to their families. Well, maybe if they snagged young trophy wives and hope to show the world they’re capable of impregnating them.

But WTF?? It’s hypocrisy to claim that men consuming viagra generally want more children. Some do. But some women take contraceptives for reasons other than birth control, severe acne for one.

I don’t care if men take viagra or not. This Supreme Court decision deprives women of their reproductive rights. The war on women’s health care continues…

 

 

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America WTF?

Today’s NYTimes editorial says it all. All the policy changes to bring about the promise of America, what white Americans have mostly paid lip-service to these past four-hundred years.

Read through the list of essential societal changes, such as NO Child Left Behind, Health Care for All, Affordable Housing, Equal Pay for Equal Work, and more. I would add Learn American History. Check out Harvard history prof Jill Lepore’s The Last Archive podcast.  “Who stole the truth?” is a recurring theme. I can’t wait for each entertaining radio-like history mystery to show up every Thursday.

So, I’m adding a new category to my blog posts: “AMERICA WTF?”

It will include questions, musings, new directions for our traumatized country, in my humble former journalist, former educator, former bookstore owner view (Please scroll down for a few superb titles.)

With liberty and justice for all? Nope. Not yet. But Americans are in the mood for change. The Pew Research Center reports that 67 percent of Americans polled support Black Lives Matter.

And haven’t we had enough of the biggest mistake in American History? An incompetent traitor watching Fox make-believe news instead of reading his daily briefings? And his  slumlord son-in-law Jared and daughter Pocketbook Ivanka (necessary to carry a bible for a photo-op, after spraying peaceful protestors with tear gas)?

I want a nice president, don’t you?

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Wish I had gotten this young woman’s name when I accosted her for a photo at Starbucks pre-pandemic.

DISCUSS: Would you support reparations for Black Americans, and if so, who, what, when, where, and 

FOR FURTHER READING/Black History:

Fiction — “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett, “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

Nonfiction — “The Warmth of Other Suns. The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson

Kids — “Pink and Say” by Patricia Polacco, picture book, age 8+

“The Antiracist Baby” board book by Ibram X. Kendi

*I’m not thrilled by the illustrations, plus I tend to think that board books don’t require serious messages. Not totally decided.

 

 

 

 

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Pandemic Choices

Sabino Canyon was packed this morning. Umpteen Cars lined the road. A scary scene because half the walkers, in my experience, don’t wear masks or practice social distancing. I don’t know what they’re thinking, that they’re invincible, that nearly 100, 000 American lives lost from Covid-19 is a lie, or that the United States can beat a virus despite our unpreparedness (We’re number 1!).

    Because an incompetent president announces that the virus “will go away without a vaccine?”

Not true, no matter what politicians tweet. Mother Earth is stronger than politics.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Twisting and turning every which way,  relief from Covid-19 and the future of the economy are inextricable.

I chose to avoid the gaggle of humans and set out on a trail not taken. No mountain lions, no rattlesnakes, no bipeds anywhere.

Unadulterated nature is my peaceful place.

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Back at the overflow parking lot and in my car, I turned on NPR. Dr. Anthony Fauci was being interviewed. He sounded a little excited speaking of Moderna, a Cambridge-based biotech company. Their very early Phase 1 positive results for a vaccine included only eight subjects, which some news media and doctors are pooh-poohing.

Fauci noted that Moderna’s quick announcement was only a press release, and that a full peer review of their science will be available within the next few weeks.

The Good Doctor is optimistic about the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine being ready by the end of December or early 2021.

I choose to listen to Dr. Fauci.

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Finding Common Deliciousness

Ahh Istanbul…the city swirls in my memory. Three years ago, my magic carpet ride across the Atlantic landed me in an epitome of contrasts: secular or religious, ancient or modern, hijab or no hijab?

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On my way to the Grand Bazaar these Turkish tweeners pegged me as an American, and asked me to take their photo. I’m not sure why. 

I passed a Starbucks, Gap, and Coach stores on the street leading to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest markets in the world, constructed in the 15th century to please an Ottoman sultan.

Five hundred years later the bazaar is closed, part of the worldwide battle against the coronavirus.

Our Tucson social distancing crusade includes an occasional takeout dinner from a neighborhood restaurant. My favorite is Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine, run by a local Turkish family.

A few days ago I hopped into my ocean blue Prius to pick up our treat: Dan’s Istanbul plate, consisting of a giant homemade lamb sausage, a crisp Middle Eastern salad, tasty rice pilaf, pita bread, and the yummiest tzatziki sauce made of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh dill and other spices.

I chose chicken skewers this time, which came with all the same sides. They were good but not as flavorful and tender as the lamb skewers. The chicken and lamb were similarly marinated in lemon juice and spices. So much food, and so reasonable! My dinner lasted for two nights.

One of the two brothers, who’s holding down the fort, came out to deliver my order. Chatting, both of us wearing masks, I asked how business was.

“Next week we’re opening inside,” he said excitedly, acknowledging that Trump had visited Phoenix that day.

“We’ll keep ordering takeout,” I said. “Gov. Ducey announced the opening of restaurants because he’s Trump’s puppet.”

The brother mumbled something. He may support Trump for “economic” reasons. Perhaps opening indoors will bring the restaurant more business, I don’t know.

He and I disagree about the need for continued social distancing.

We agree that a delicious dinner brightens any day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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