Wednesday, July 27, 2016

For the Friends of Single Women

“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child.” Jennifer Aniston 

I couldn’t agree more. I am not an actress. I am not a model. I am not a celebrity of any kind. I am a single woman. I have no children 

Like Aniston, I too want to participate in the larger conversation on how society views women. I particularly want to focus on the societal view of single women. And like Aniston, I too am fed up. Fed up with the prevalent societal belief that a woman is incomplete without a mate. Fed up with friends, family, co-workers, casual acquaintances insistent on “fixing” my single status. This sends the message that a woman should not be single. That it is unnatural. For a variety of reasons, I am a woman in my forties who has never married and is childfree 

My single, non-mom status is shocking, contrary, even wrong, according to some people in our society. Yet by all accounts, I am a productive, model citizen. I have been gainfully employed my entire adulthood. I vote – knowledgeably. I am a mentor. I have never been in jail, sued, or had any legal problems. I own a home. I have a dog. I spoil my nieces and my nephew. Still, for manymy life is incomplete.  

Shouldn't I be the one to decide if my life is incomplete? Don't I, as Aniston articulately stated, get "to determine (my) own ‘happily ever after’ 

So, please stop asking, “how ‘bout that guy?” every time we are out to lunch, dinner or drinks. Please don’t make my love life the central topic of every conversation we have. Please talk to me about my work. Talk to me about my community involvement. Talk to me about my writing, or hiking, or golf or other interests. When you ask me what I have been up to and there is not one mention of a man in my response, please don’t continue digging for the reason behind the life sans man or mate – if I want to discuss it with you, I will bring it up. My love life is not a game. I can see how you might think so, however, what will all the recent reality TV shows and phone apps on the subject 

The lives of single women, celebrity or not, are our lives. Assuming that what makes you happy, that what makes your life complete is indicative of what is lacking from my life is what is known as projecting. Projecting is ascribing your feelings, thoughts, and attitudes onto others. By definition, these are your feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. They are not necessarily mine. Nor are those feelings, thoughts and attitudes necessarily shared by your other single or childfree friends, cousins, sisters, niecesdaughters or co-workersSo, please, let us determine 'our own happily ever after'.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghost Girls Rule

With my buttered popcorn and a Diet Coke I settled into the cushioned theater seat, snuggling into my favorite cotton sweater and eagerly awaited the opening of the Ghostbusters reboot. Summer movies are always filled with promise. Action packed or comedy, their promos promise an exciting diversion from the summer heat. Summer reboots often bring an extra special anticipation. Like a summer festival or family reunion. There is the promise of seeing old friends or distant, sometimes eccentric relatives. And like any family reunion, it sounds like a good idea, but in reality it can go either way.

I took in the Ghostbusters reboot with high expectations. After seeing the original no less than fifty times (I spent 1988 babysitting a four year old) I was anxious to see how the new heroines would fair against those slimy spirits. In the original, it was Bill Murray’s dry deliveries that got me through repeated viewings. If I had to do it over again with the reboot, it would likely by Kate McKinnon in her role as the mostly silent, but always moving, quirky and mad tech savvy scientist, Jillian Holzmann, who would get me through endless rewinds.

All in all, the cast delivered. Melissa McCarthy, an established powerhouse, didn’t disappoint, despite the lack of story line for her character, Abby Yates. Overall, the storyline lacked depth. The writers spent much of the screen time explaining the gizmos created by McKinnon’s Holtzmann, instead of working them into a story. This had the effect of dragging down the action and momentum. The less than stellar script was somewhat compensated by a solid cast. Kristin Wiig looked every bit the super hero flying through the vortex to save her friend and colleague Abby. And Leslie Jones turned in a solid performance in her first major film role as the positive believer turned Ghostbuster, Patty Tolan. 

The fun of a reboot, is always the cameo appearances by original cast members. The performances by Murray, Potts, Aykroyd and Hudson didn’t disappoint. In particular, the drive-by showing of Aykroyd, “I ain’t afraid a no ghost.” In fact, I was left wanting to see more of the original team. The post-closing cameos are also worth sticking around to see.

Personally, I always enjoy a little subtle humor in my movies and while this script lacked much of that, the beginning tour guide does get it in a few jabs, including, “This is where P.T. Barnum came up with the idea to enslave elephants.” For the most part, the Ghostbusters reboot is a fun summer diversion.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Be Kind

Last week I sat down to write my blog which was going to be about my latest dilemma: Hulu or Netflix – which one stays and which one goes? But then, all hell broke loose. Two more black men gunned down by police officers. Police officers overseeing a peaceful demonstration in Dallas gunned down by a sniper. My original blog topic was now rendered beyond trivial.  

What was going on in this country was big. Important.  

Like many Americans I’m tired of the sadness. Tired of the angerTired of the same debates over and over again with no change.  

Inevitably, like driving past a car accident, I can’t help but glance at the posts and comments on social media. I know I shouldn't. I know it will haunt me for the rest of the day, but I can't help myself. The comments demonstrate just how much we view, perceive and understand the events in our society based on our own experience with society without ever trying to look at the events from another person's point of view. Take this the response to a GiF advocating dialogue about the racism in our society. One commenter didn’t believe racism exists, if it did, she questioned, how did Oprah and the hundreds of other "celebritiespilots, directors and other elite minority” (not sure what that means) achieve success? In her (white) view it seems that those who complained about racism “felt entitled and did nit (sic) want to work".  

I don't know what all Oprah Winfrey, or other African American "celebrities, pilots, directors and other 'elite minority'" people experience on their way to become who they are. But I am convinced that their experience in our society is vastly different from my own. also don't know what any of the students in my classrooms, or my neighbors, or the woman who rang up my items at Target have gone through in their lifetimeI don't know the experiences of all those million Americans who struggle to make ends meet, who worry about where their next meal is coming from, or the experiences of those who don't have housing. I don’t try to guess. I don’t make assumptions about people who drive up to social service offices in new shiny cars – maybe they work there, maybe they are there for services and borrowed a car, or maybe they are there for service and do happen to own a new shiny car. What difference does that make in my life? It does me no good to make assumptions.  

really don't know a person’s will. don’t know another person’s experiences. can’t know what any other person, black, white, brown or red, has gone through on any given day or in their lifetime. It is pointless for me to try and make assumptions about these things. To what end?  

What I do know is this. That when I am patient and kind with those I encounter on any given day – whether it be in traffic, in an elevator, in my work or in my home. When I don’t make assumptions about their motives, or how they are out to get me, or how they must feel entitled and how dare they? I know that when I approach people with kindness and patience I often get kindness and patience in return.  

I challenge anyone reading this to give this a try. Just for one week, when you get your morning coffee – or if you’re switching back to soda due to the price increase – be kind to the barista or convenience store clerk, don't judge the Taurus driver who cut you off in traffic, or the co-worker who has been in bad mood for the last twenty-five years. Be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know what kind of day they are having, you don’t know what happened to them the night before, the day before, the year before. Do you want them judging you? Making assumptions about how you came to be the way you are? I don't.  

I challenge you, don't judge, be kind, be patience and just see how others react to you.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Super Tuesday left me Super Afraid

Author's Note: (This was written in the early morning hours the day after Super Tuesday primaries.)

I couldn’t sleep. Trump victories on Super Tuesday kept me awake worrying about the future of our country. Did that really just happen? People actually think someone who has called himself "The Donald" will make a good leader of the free world? It left many with many questions.

First, how will he maintain diplomatic affairs? Part of being a super power is maintaining positive relationships with other countries. He seems to alienate (and offend) everyone. He insults anyone who disagrees with him, or challenges him. This is not diplomacy. This is bullying.

Second, are we (Americans) so swayed by sound bites and hyperbole that we use our one voice to vote for someone who has not explained how he will address any of our problems? Again, I’m not talking about sound bites “we will make America great again” “build a wall”, I’m talking about HOW. How will these things be done. What tactics, what strategies will be used? Who will you get to help you in this endeavor? These are things I need to know before I cast my vote. That once voice, that one lone act that allows me to participate in the leadership – and future direction – of my country is too precious to waste on mere sound bites and fear mongering.

I believe in listening to each candidate before I make up my mind. I read news articles – many, not just from one source – I read commentary from those who spend their days immersed in the world of politics – surely, they have picked up a few insights – and then I go to the candidate’s website to read how they describe the issues. This tells me which issues they view as important. I visited Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s website recently. Under his Issues tab, he lists four categories. I visited Hillary Clinton’s website, she lists 28 issues and describes how she will address them. Marco Rubio breaks issues down into around 30 categories – he lists Russia and China as issues instead of lumping foreign relations under a nice tight umbrella (nothing wrong with that, I guess). He also lists “immigration” as an issue and has a separate category for “Sanctuary Cities” which could easily fall under immigration. But whatev. These are the types of nuances that, to me as a voter, I find worth looking into. I look at what candidates have to say under these headings. What is the substance? Do they convince me that they have studied this issue, that they understand how to solve the problem? Or are they just strewing key words together like “discouraging corporate inversions, adding a huge number of new jobs, and making America globally competitive again ( What does this mean, exactly? What jobs? What number is "huge" exactly? Give me something meaningful.