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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Barn-burning equal rights amendment rally? Next!


Age IV




        

“It is a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one loses one’s youth.”
-Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

           
          I’m sorry to begin with an apology, and I’m sorry to do this but I have to weigh in and weigh in heavy on the “are you too old to be of any good” type of question that was recently posed to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. I didn’t like Pelosi’s response much more than I liked the question. The question, verbatim, was: “Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term. What's your response?"
At the risk of trying to sound like I am much younger than I really am, I must say: “WTF. WTF. WTF?”  
        Pelosi’s knee-jerk, off-the-cuff, without-her-press-agent at her elbow response was: "Age discrimination!"




Literally and figuratively, Pelosi was backed by almost two dozen female colleagues all of whom look like 

they get their share of AARP mailers. All the women shouted, "Boo!"
Okay, that part I get. Pelosi tried to dismiss the un-dismissible with “Next!” and the women behind her applauded. This might have turned into an early seventies style barn-burning equal rights amendment rally revisit. But not likely with Pelosi in the driver’s seat.
“No, excuse me,” the reporter pushed ahead and supported the legitimacy of the question by reminding the speaker that she and two other members of the house were “all over 70. Is your decision to stay on prohibiting younger members from moving forward?”
WTF. WTF. WTF?
Before I set out to answer WTF, I decided to find out who owned this inquiring mind. 


     Holy copper wiring it was none other than not-a-chip-off-the-block Luke Russert, prince of nepotism, son of legendary and respected journalist Tim Russert. He’s a freken’ baby and I’m surprised he has a learners-permit to get himself to the press room. W[ever]TF happened to news and what was once thought to be media integrity happened a long time ago. Yet this level of idiocy, from both sides of the dais, and intimidation, from both sides of the dais, requires a little further discussion.
By the way, note to son-of-journalist: Have a lead question that is pertinent to lead announcement, e.g., when Pelosi announces that she is going to stay on the job don’t ask about her leaving the job. Having a prepared question is not the same as asking a tough question. 
     The fall-out and follow-up conversation was about the validity of the question. My short answer is: no (see note to son-of-journalist above). It was not a valid or pertinent question, not in that particular room. If Mister Russert was to stand outside of the chamber and ask every single member of Congress if they think a younger, more inexperienced body politic is better, more effective and more functional and, well, let’s just say it—hip, then we’d have a valid question. And, of course, if the question was posed by anyone other than a privileged, 27 year old, entitled, whippersnapper . . . well, then the question would not have been posed.
I didn’t find any discussions on the validity of experience through age, how “earned” is more respected and valued than “inherited,” and no one, to my knowledge, mentioned the value of not reinventing the wheel every time we need to change a tire. 
Boy Russert did not ask a valid question. To simply shout “age discrimination” at a reporter is not a valid answer (or solution). Pelosi made matters worse when she swiped away the pompous cub-in-the-lion’s-den reporter with “Next.”  She almost lent credibility to the idea that 70 might be “too old,” as if anything labeled “too old” by a 27 year old should be deemed credible. Pelosi needed to give the profession of reporter its due respect while seizing a teaching opportunity, had she remembered that women’s liberation re-educated the world before storming through doors. She could have embraced the all-so powerful “feminine” in feminism and very gently, very womanly, put the boy in his place. Instead, Pelosi reminded us that we have yet to break through any ceilings—glass or otherwise. She demonstrated a reactive-female with a short-fuse. I’m sorry, I don’t like stereotyping women anymore than the next sister-in-arms does, but I call it when I see it and Pelosi showed it.
If I didn’t need my reading glasses, I might be able to read between the lines of Junior Russert’s query. If I could, I might conclude that he’d like to see the likes of MTV VJ Kennedy at the helm of policy making. Even though a more unpleasant personality has not scratched my chalk board, perhaps it is Kennedy’s (and her generations) convenient and ill-conceived libertarian empty talk that Russert looks up to (since Kennedy, at 40, is technically older than Russert). But he didn’t say that and I’m projecting all that Kennedy stuff on to Russert. So who the hell does he think is capable of running the country if not a few older people with a couple of not-as-old people and so on? Did he think through his pre-prepared question?
Pelosi is about as much of a feminist as my chalk board is, but she is still a product of a feminist movement. We were never supposed to like everyone we just wanted to guarantee equal opportunity. Boy, did she miss a golden opportunity last week to pave a smoother path for people of age.
At times like these, my only wish is to retreat—I want to remove myself from all further thought on nonsense, move far, far away, to another galaxy perhaps, live off the land (as in rock-soup and mud-pies) and never deal with another stupid human again. But that’s not likely to happen and stupid people proliferate every day. I don’t have scientific proof of that but my many years of experience on this planet tell me that there is no shortage of stupid people. I'm not prohibiting any young leadership from making its mark in the world. 
I want to stand in the way of stupid people with microphones.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Not Much of a Bathing Beauty



Age III



People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. 
The rules are the same.  Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing
 and allow for room to grow.    –Erma Bombeck (1927–1996)



            I’ve never been much of a bathing beauty.

1963


I’m not shy, I’m modest. One thing that has not changed over the years is that it has never been easy for me to get comfortable going out in public wearing what really equates to fancy spandex underwear.  I failed miserably as a Beach Bunny and as a Surfer Chick
. 
            Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of UVB damage.


1995

In one of my yesteryears when I was hanging out at the Jersey Shore with some kids from the Honduras, I spent so much time in the sun that I got phlebitis. My legs swelled up like huge water balloons. Richard Nixon had phlebitis—but Nixon was like a hundred years old and I was just a stupid teenager.  These Honduran kids had skin like hot chocolate and I stood out like a marshmallow. By the end of the day, I was a red-hot mess unable to sleep, pee, or walk.  I cried all night, praying for something that I didn’t necessarily believe in: mercy. Relief eventually arrived in the form of a Valium and a shot of something warm and tingly. 

Today I regularly check my skin for signs of mercy from my misguided, and yet not regretted, youth.  

When I saw this Erma Bombeck quote I was struck by the similarity to one of my own “theories” in life.  Hey, put enough candles on the birthday cake and you too will have an abundance of theories to keep you warm at night. 

My theory, based solely on observation and conversation, is that some of us (if you’re reading this you are already “one of us”) will take better care of our cars than we take care of our bodies. Think about it. Or maybe it’s just an L.A. thing and I have lost all perspective of the rest of the world.


 For instance, I have a respected friend who is able to keep two cars running, insured, and up-to-date and yet his teeth are literally breaking down. He was lax on the necessary upkeep on the ever important pie hole, trap,yap, blower, word hole, whatever you call it—it’s damn important. My friend is looking at about two to three months of serious work and close to a 40K tug on his bank account. Though oddly, he told me that he’s been saving for this inevitability for quite some time.  If there was a way to calculate, I’d like to know how much he would’ve spent over the past couple of decades (just in dollars, not counting anxiety attacks) to do the necessary upkeep on the 'grill of his ride.’  Just a thought.

As an urban woman I am reminded on a daily basis the pure frailty and challenge of surviving much less having a full set of pearly whites. We are in scary times. Healthcare is a commodity, not a right.  If you really want to be smart, to be politically active, to be on the correct side of left—you need to make every effort not to become a subject of the very system that will eventually consume you and everyone you hold dear. Turn healing over to the machine that sees you as nothing more than a number followed by a series of numbers and the ever important bottom line number and your personhood will not matter.  You will no longer have a voice in the discussion about the quality of your life.

You’re a person not a number. If you’re anything at all like me, and I’m thinking if you’ve read this far we might have something in common, you’ll be mightily pissed off when you get treated like a number.  You’ll want to shout, “I’m an individual, I have unique needs and likes and dislikes. . . “ and on and on you’ll rant, but the number’s keepers do not hear you. Our best option in these tenuous times is prevention. Make our best efforts to prevent a crisis in health, automobile, relations, and anything else that spins your world. Times have changed since Benjamin Franklin’s days—an ounce of prevention could now be worth a lifetime’s fortune.
 

When I hung out at the Jersey Shore, long before Snooki and that gang were born, we didn’t know about sun protection and such stuff.  The closest we got to sun protection was making out under the boardwalk.  I don’t know if anyone makes out under the boardwalk anymore. Our world has become so polarized it seems everyone sits in their own corner with their own view.  We even have good SPF’s versus bad SPF’s.  

I don’t advocate a puritanical life of total temperance, room temperature weak tea and confections in the shade. I’m talking about exercising common sense, free will, and being pro-active with our health. Use the information that has come our way and knock that Snooki on the side of her over-tanned over-teased head with some good sense.  She won’t listen.  I know that because I wouldn’t have listened either.

In certain circles I also hear talk of excitement, adventure, risk, and to love with abandon. That’s all good too. But people are fickle and life can make us cynical so to counterbalance the thinking-about-life game, we mustn’t forget Richard Nixon, phlebitis, and all the other consequences that might await us.

My sun damage is already done and perhaps the dye has been cast on the future health of my epidermis.  That’s okay, I like hats. I like knowing that if my skin turns hard and blotchy I will have earned it the old fashioned way—by youthful indiscretion.  Put enough candles on the birthday cake and you too will have earned perspectives that are unique to the consequences of your youth of sex, drugs, rock, athletics, studying too hard, driving too fast, drinking too much too often, or sitting alone and never taking a risk.  

If Erma Bombeck was sitting here with me right now, I’d assure her that today I look for the same qualities in a bathing suit that I need in a man.  I look for flexibility with my flaws.

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