Words that moved me during year 47

Wordle: Untitled

Another year around the sun complete. Some words which moved me – to smile, to laugh, to think, to cry. Life is full. Times passes quickly. Each day is a gift.

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The earthiness of love

What he said

It must have been the unfortunate choice of Pandora station – U2’s Running to Stand Still, that prompted my run to be filled with thoughts of love. Many of the songs were familiar, but I forged a new understanding of them as the lyrics relentlessly pounded me for 5 miles.

As my mind sought an escape from the music, which was a combination of cloying and consolatory, some thoughts I recently had, began to knit themselves together. There must be water. If there’s a lack of oxygen, one can’t breathe. Light encourages development. A little dirt and fire are required. Love is earth.

Love is organic. It makes me believe in science in a way that my high school biology class failed to do. In fact, nothing has convinced me that human beings consist of atoms and electricity so much as love. From the moment those individual particles attach themselves to those of another, there’s no denying the force. There is an almost pungent scent from pheromones, palpable and intensely intimate. I’ve smelled it.

I’ve come to believe that we each possess an internal well which needs to be continually replenished. What fills the well for each of us is marvelously unique and ever evolving. Sometimes it’s a shower of loving words or shared thoughts which soothe our soul. At other times salty tears. There also needs to be a balance of air and light to enable growth. Without oxygen, there is suffocation. In the dark, love withers and fails to reach its true potential. Fresh air and sunshine truly are the antidote to sorrow. I know this to be true.

Dirt and fire can bring excitement and exhilaration to a union. Getting a little messy together, in whatever fashion you mutually appreciate, can be joyful. The heat of passion can meld two into one. I’ve felt this.

If these individual elements are absent, or present yet unbalanced, instead of desirable rich and earthy soil, mud or dust may result. We become bogged down or inclined to be blown away. Equilibrium, damn it, it’s about creating a positive balance between these individual essential fundamentals. It’s true about the earth, it’s true about love.

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Filed under aging, love, musings, running

Censorship

image: anh-usa.org

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. The longer you live, the smaller the world becomes and the more likely it is that the individual spheres of one’s personal world will begin to overlap. Last night I helped train our new server at the Wine Bar. She is a former student. Sigh.

I obviously share a lot of my personal life and thoughts here, but it mostly feels anonymous. I don’t really know who reads this stuff and thus am often surprised when I meet someone in real life who knows about me or my adventures and antics. I do think, though, that I’ve done a decent job of keeping my day time school life separate from my night-time restaurant life. Until yesterday, that is.

I kind of pride myself about being ‘Me” wherever I am. That doesn’t mean, though, that I necessarily am comfortable being my blunt and sometimes bawdy self behind the bar with a young woman who used to attend the school where I teach. Must I now censor myself?

As I consider what I can  and can not say while in the presence of a former student, why don’t you take a moment to ponder the First Amendment and the right to free speech on a literary level?  Next weeks marks the  American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week.  While I figure out the best way to say what I want, you can maybe read a book by authors who have used their words to freely express themselves.

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Red light, green light, one-two-three

Did you play that game when you were a kid?  We usually alternated between Red Light and Mother, May I? on autumn evenings which grew more quickly dark as each day passed.  They were fun games to play during times, which I recall as, much more simple than today.  No batteries or cords necessary.

These days, I run for fun.  Unfortunately, negotiating my way around the streets of Albany isn’t always fun.  I play a different game now – Green light, red light, one-two-three.  Are you familiar with it?  It’s where you watch the light cycle through from green to yellow to red and then count “1, 2, 3″ before approaching the intersection.  If you fail to follow the rules, like the scofflaw driver blowing through the red light, you’re likely to get run over.  Really.

There isn’t a single time I’ve been out getting some miles in, when I haven’t observed drivers running red lights.  It is no joke.  I can appreciate the frustration with Albany’s lights which sometimes seemed timed expressly for making me late for my destination.  I get it.  But, seriously?  Is it really going to be worth running a person or animal over?  Drivers in Albany really need to drink a big old mug of slow the f*ck down.

Red light cameras are controversial and considered by some to be invasive, but I truly believe their value in potentially protecting lives exceeds their threat to privacy. Folks are concerned that the company which will be monitoring the cameras will be aggressively doling out tickets because they are a for-profit entity. So? Don’t run red lights and it will cost you nothing.

Albany is a fine place to live.  We have invested in schools and libraries and crosswalks.  There are cool new places to shop and eat and our mayor is committed to the arts.  Wouldn’t it be great if families felt comfortable moving into our city because they knew that public safety was a genuine priority?  I’m all for quality of life tickets a la Giuliani, jaywalking, bike riding in the wrong direction on the streets, drivers failing to respect pedestrians in crosswalks and red light runners.  Give them a warning then give them a ticket.  If the ticket comes from a camera monitored traffic light, give them the picture, too.  It’ll last longer, right?

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Filed under Albany, Local, News, Observations, politics, running, upstate New York

When everything changed

In January 2002 I hosted a dinner party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was a Monday night and we had a wonderful evening of laughter, food and wine.  As the night progressed, I began to anticipate how tired and cranky I would be the next morning when my alarm roused me for work. I hate being off my game because of lack of sleep.

As I moved between the dining room and my guests, and the kitchen with its dish filled sink, glancing at the ever later time on the clock, a thought occurred to me: September 11, 2001 had been a Tuesday. Something inside me clicked with such force that it seemed impossible for the internal noise to have gone unheard by those sharing my evening.

We never know when our last night on this earth will be.

I knew, without a shred of doubt, that if the next day was when I met my end, I would rather die with a bellyful of celebratory food and the echo of an evening’s laughter in my ears than 8 hours of sleep. No regrets.

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My primary problem

I’m a teacher and a member of NYSUT.  I’m not always a fan of my union or some of the marketing with which they provide me.  Things like solicitations for rental car companies and insurance opportunities don’t seem like benefits as much as they feel like invasions of my privacy and personal information.  I don’t like it.

My union, however,  provides support to me and my peers when we are threatened with disciplinary action or termination.  Neither NYSUT or my local union guarantee me retention of my professional position in the case of an issue, but they do ensure my right to a formal process thanks to tenure.  On some primary level, they are working for me and I am appreciative of that benefit.

Our current governor, Andrew Cuomo, began his “tenure” with great promise.  The vote to pass gay marriage in the NYS senate was a thrill to witness and I have a number of friends who finally share the same right to wed that I’ve had my entire adult life.  An unequal situation has been rectified and all residents of New York now enjoy the same fundamental right.  Unfortunately, that’s the only example I can provide as an instance of when our governor worked to ensure that all New Yorkers shared the same opportunities.

Since that auspicious beginning, I have grown completely disenchanted with our arrogant and bullying governor.  Maybe it wasn’t completely his initiative, but during his administration, education was “improved” by instituting a new professional evaluation rubric, a new comprehensive curriculum was adopted and layers upon layers of new testing mandates were created. Along with a new tax cap, of course. We all know how easy it is to do more with less, right? His mishandling of the findings of the Moreland Commission was the “adult” equivalent of taking his ball home and quitting the game when the rules (or more accurately, findings) failed to go his way.  His recent behavior when approached by the politically unconnected professor who is challenging him in today’s primary, revealed his true colors to me in a manner which I find despicable.

Far from being the man who can clean up Albany, Governor Cuomo has instead contributed his own smear of dirt and mud on the political process and government of my state. Tuesday, 9/9, is the day when registered Democrats can send him the message that they don’t like what he’s doing to our state.  We can vote for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu and enjoy the sensation of bubbling in the circle(s) on today’s ballot next to those fresh new names. Even if they don’t win today because of their lack of experience and membership in the good ol’ boys’ club, it will be a pleasure to vote for someone, instead of against someone else.  I’ll never vote for Cuomo again.

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Filed under Albany, Education, politics

Claws out over catcalls

I’ve noticed some reporting recently about cat calls, social media buzz word stuff.  I haven’t yet had a moment to click through and read any of what has been written, but intend to momentarily.  Before I read what the discussion is, I wanted to express my own experiences and opinion without influence.I don’t remember when I personally received my first catcall, but I do know that each time I hear one these days, I laugh and wonder if it will be my last.  Catcalls don’t bother me.  They don’t make me feel objectified or threatened.  Usually, they make me laugh, once when I was about 8.5 months pregnant hard enough to almost pee myself.

Maybe I should define “catcalls.” I’m talking about a couple of complimentary words spoken in an appreciative tone of voice, not a barrage of filthy language.  That I most definitely find offensive.  I don’t know, maybe it was growing up around NYC or something, but a construction worker giving me a “Hey, pretty lady,” doesn’t  feel like harassment to me.

Ok, now I’ll go read some of what’s going on.  I’m back.

This seemed to be the article which helped to ignite the current conversation about catcalling.  The author must have been writing an ironic piece because I can’t imagine that a woman would truly encourage attention on the street in the way she did.  It had to have been intentionally hyperbolic, right?

This was written in response to a segment of some television program which I’ve been fortunate enough to have never had inflicted upon me.  The writer makes some excellent points and I can understand her perspective.

The focus here was primarily on Kirsten Gillibrand’s assertions regarding inappropriate comments made to her by other members of Congress.  The examples she provided were outrageous and demonstrated a complete lack of propriety and common decency, but I didn’t perceive them to be “catcalls.”  They were personal criticism and commentary about her physical self and as such were deplorable.

My conclusion after this minimal amount of “research?”  Well, we all have differing thresholds for what we are willing to tolerate.  In my mind there’s a vast difference between a light “Looking good” and detailed descriptions about “what I’d like to do to you, baby.”  Does this sort of reasoning strip me of my feminist crown?  Is it somehow demeaning to all women that one of my favorite moments as a young woman was when I received a standing ovation from a roomful of cadets at West Point, something I was given in response to how I looked and not related to my intellectual capacity?  Does the pleasure I felt at that moment somehow diminish me as a woman?  Only if I let it.

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