Saturday, June 25, 2011

Call me Corny

Last night New York became only the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize marriage between same gender couples. The Empire State Building was lit up with rainbow colors, crowds took to the street to sing and celebrate throughout Manhattan and the five boroughs and according to the New York Times, Marriage licenses could be granted in late July, barring any attempts to block the new law.

Throughout the week there have been opponents and proponents of the law all over television throughout the U.S. and commentators have been abuzz on the web. Friday morning I watched a three minute segment from Keith Olbermann and was overwhelmed by the way he just cut to the heart of the matter.
"[Gay marriage] won't destroy the democracy; it doesn't destroy the family; it strengthens the institution of marriage and its principal premise of fidelity; and it increases the number of people living in stable and loving homes. ... This is, corny as it seems, not about politics or religion or power or lobbying. It is about love. In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is already yours. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want: a chance to be a little less alone in the world. And your acceptance of their love turns out to be your own expression of love to your fellow human beings."
It's true that in 2011, the idea of love and marriage has become a bit corny yet here I am newly remarried myself and tearful at the thought that some of my dearest friends might someday be able to wed as well, for better or worse. There is a lot to be cynical about if a person just goes about life with everyday sort of expectations. Greenhouse gas, violence and war throughout the Middle East, Africa, and almost everywhere else, AIDS, poverty, illiteracy, and the rise of celebrityhood as a proper profession, are all good examples. Yet, there are perhaps 10 good reasons for hope to replace each and every negative image and idea you can come up with, including Paris Hilton.

Most days I care for an assortment of adult patients with cancer. Many are older and simply interested in comfort, some are younger than I and hope for remission and the chance to dance with little girls at their grown up weddings, or see young boys become men themselves. Those that are most hopeful are usually the least self motivated of the patients I meet-motivated by their abiding love for others, rather than fear or selfishness for one more moment of their life. Their life is no longer about them, but about those they love.

To be sure they are enduring often brutal treatment for their health, but they are inspired by the love they give and receive. The kind of love that is exponential and grows stronger with each exchange. I remain grateful I have that kind of love in my life, from my children, my family and family of friends, and yes, my husband. That kind of love allows me to wake up and go forth to work in an emotionally draining and physically taxing job and come home to a messy house and hungry children, stinky turtles and shedding dog. To sleep at night, worry about bills and taxes, contemplate graduate school and professional writing, and what mark I might leave on the world.

CNN Sports Anchor Nick Charles died today at age 64 after a two year battle with bladder cancer. In one of his last interviews with Dr. Sanjay Gupta I was struck not by his gaunt appearance or loss of his trademark curly locks, but by his continued optimism and his committment to living a life based on looking forward and remaining positive in the face of terminal illness. "I wake up every morning expecting it to be a good day." Corny? Maybe, but living a life based on love and optimism is what really allows the world to keep moving forward.

Tonight I toast the people of New York who choose to be hopeful about the state of the world and the institution of marriage, despite all the negative and nasty the world can dish out. I'm grateful to be loved, grateful for the lump in my throat when I hold a new baby, hear a love song, hold my child close. Grateful to be one of the corny, sentimental fools who keep Hallmark in business. I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weiner on the Grill

In what can only be described as some type of self fulfilling prophecy related to childhood name calling Representative Anthony Weiner finally confessed what everyone else in America has known for days... that he was showing off his little weiner to the world via his Twitter account.


Sad to say, this almost makes Arnold look classy. Especially when Rep. Weiner inferred that he had not been unfaithful to his wife by sending pictures of his privates to other women. Presumedly this is because he did it before they were married (only engaged) and he never actually met these other women. It was simply a consensual exchange of lurid material to get himself and the other unknown woman some sort of sexual healing of a kind most people who behave like this manage to get in the shower or with a Playboy while their mother is standing outside the bathroom door wondering why little Johnny is suddenly so interested in personal hygeine.

Here's just a couple of quick facts for the Representative:
1. If you are sending pictures of your genitalia to anyone other than your spouse or significant other-it is in fact, inappropriate.
2.If you are in fact stupid enough to take pictures of your genitalia and send them to women other than the previously mentioned spouse, perhaps you should send them from a phone, not download them to your Twitter feed.
3.Thank you so very much for bringing such a lovely tenor to dinnertime conversations around the country between flustered parents and curious preteens and teens. You just can't imagine how delightful it is to discuss why a man might want to send photos of his erection to strangers and how this same man might be qualified to hold public office.

Good times.

Honestly, whatever happened to discrete dalliances? Is it too much to ask in this multitasking tech savvy world that if people are going to cheat on one another that they do it without involving all the rest of us? I do not want to see your crotch or listen to your repeated and increasingly stupifying rationale for sending said pictures out into the known universe.

I do not want to know what you or your wife think about your behavior, I simply do not care. It's your mess, clean it up, wallow in it, whatever, but please leave the rest of us out of it.

I imagine when reelection time comes the people of New York will have more to say about the issue. They are a forgiving lot, but frankly even this may be pushing the boundaries of good taste. Time was you could count on politicians to have a lover on the side, but you could also count on the discretion and inpenetrable wall of denial as well. Representative Weiner seems to have missed those pivotal conversations in his orientation to political office and instead is clinging to the belief that the more details the American public receives about his indiscrete behavior, the more likely we are to understand it and absolve him of any wrong doing.

Here's the thing. There are many marriages that recover from infidelity and indiscretion, many well known political ones in point of fact. It really isn't anyone's business how or why a couple chooses to muddle through a mess, even one of their own making. What is the business of the American people, and in particular, the voters of New York State, is what kind of judgement their elected officials display day in and day out and in this particular instance Representative Weiner has displayed the poorest, most self serving type of judgement of all by arrogantly presuming that his behavior is no big deal.

It is a big deal when someone that voters elect to make decisions for them cannot exhibit enough self control in his own personal behavior to keep vulgar pictures of himself from being seen by complete strangers. It is a big deal when the same elected official fabricates and attempts to blame others for this same lack of self control and poor judgement.

Most importantly it is a very big deal when a man who must negotiate decisions that effect those who put him office and their day to day lives chooses to lie repeatedly to avoid accountability for his boorish behavior and then expect the media and his constituents to excuse and ignore it.

Representative Weiner would do well to excuse himself from the political dialogue in New York and look for a new job. Maybe he could get a hot dog cart and manage to profit off his ill chosen behavior and moniker.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cymotrichous and Other Powerful Words

Couldn't have even spelled it on my hand, but the lovely Sukanya Roy, age 14 and a seasoned academic competitor nailed it and won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The word itself means having wavy hair and the Miss Roy actually recognized the word which is a feat in and of itself. Most 14 year old girls in the U.S. are obsessively texting and deleting unnecessary vowels and consonants in a faux effort at cleverness. More and more our society is opting out of full length conversations in person, by phone, by mail and I worry the loss of so many lovely words.

Cymotrichous is one that I made all the way to 42 without ever hearing in conversation and yet I have known many people with cymotrichous hair, and even mine can get a little cymotrichous when it is longer and I go to sleep with it damp.

For many years now I have made it my habit to compliment the boys on their use of a new word,"Nice vocabulary there buddy." So much so now that they will prompt me,"Nice one, huh mom?"

I love using words to paint a picture both verbally and in writing and I dread the loss of real conversation to all of it's abbreviated forms. To be sure I love the internet and facebook, and email, but I also love the heft of a book in my hand, the feel of stationary under my pen, the joy of a 50 point word in Scrabble.

Beyond the spelling bee this week I have seen or heard 3 or 4 news stories regarding words coming under fire as in the "F" word (faggot) and the "R" word (retard). The new PSA with Jane Lynch and her lovely young costar from Glee who happens to be a person with Down's Syndrome is short and to the point-and really takes your breath away when you hear the streak of vulgar names in quick succession.

My mother would have preferred I used the word F*ck at the dinner table than to have ever heard the word "Ni**er" cross my lips. Having been raised in Northern California she was horrified by the lingering racism in Texas and reinforced that there is no time ever to use such a hateful word. As I became a parent there are words I reinforce with the kids that "we" do not use, ever.

Yet, there seem to be few parents like me at my son's middle school because this week the "G" word  crept into my house and knocked me down in the kitchen. "That is soooooooo gay," I heard from the livingroom. "Pardon me?" "Oh mom, you know what I mean." "Yes, I know exactly what you mean, you mean it's stupid and I'd like you to go call one of the many gay people we know and love and tell them you think they're stupid." (Heavy sigh) "I got it mom."

So I'd like to offer a solution to both of my concerns. In order to air out the Thesaurus and the treasure trove of words within it and correct the use of inappropriate pejorative put downs I am now going to require anyone around me to give me 5 other words to replace their offensive one...should the offensive party in question be an adult who refuses, I will offer up five suggestions.

For example, "That is" "No, no I think you mean witless, doltish, inane, imbecilic, or idiotic."

Just doing my part to change (adjust, advance, correct) the world.