Friday, July 29, 2016

What I'm Reading (and Listening To) on the Internet...

I have been blessed in this life to raise girls. I always wanted girls, for as long as I can remember. I was so thrilled when I married Nick that he already had a son because I knew, deep in my heart, that I was going to have two girls.

It is a privilege that I don't take lightly, making sure that my girls know that they are capable of anything in this world. Betsy hopes to become a pediatrician and Felicity's goal is to become a hairdresser. Both of which I so hope happens because it would be wonderful to have my own personal doctor and my own personal hairdresser. But I promise, I will be thrilled with whatever they chose to be. I never would have dreamed when I was in college earning my English degree that I would end up being the water/sewer billing clerk for the Village of New Concord, but I am and I love my job.

This week I read these two articles that highlight women and the struggle that lays ahead for all women, everywhere,to be considered equal to their male counterparts.

In Pakistan's Heartland, A 'Perfect Storm Of Obstacles' To Protecting Women

I am blessed to live in a country where I can at the very least expect my girls to be valued as human beings. This article serves to remind us that is sadly not the case everywhere. No woman should live in fear for her life simply because she is a woman. No woman should ever live in fear of being raped as a punishment. We live in a world where this happens. We live in a world where the solutions prove as hard as the problems themselves due to cultures and education and just different world views.

For Olympic Boxer Claressa Shields, Round 2 Brings New Expectations

This is not your typical gold medal story. Claressa won gold in London. She will most likely win in Rio."Everybody was saying, 'You should be signed with Nike, you should be on a Wheaties box, how come you aren't in this magazine?' It got to the point where I just shut everybody out. I can't hear that anymore. I really can't dwell on what I didn't get," she told me.
Why didn't any of those things happen?
"I don't know why it didn't happen," she said. "I take it as I wasn't ready for it, I guess. I wasn't the ideal woman. I wasn't the pretty girl who wears her hair straight. I don't know. I guess I wasn't what they were looking for." Why do we not celebrate this young person of color? Because of her sport? Because of her home life? Because we want to believe our athletes heroes and when they don't conform to our boxes we shut them out and ignore them?

Why LaCroix sparkling water is suddenly everywhere
This has nothing particularly to do with women. But it is a fascinating read.

And lastly, I have fallen in love with a lead singer. As I am known to do from time to time. He's not Freddie, but he's damn close. Luke Spiller. Sigh. Enjoy.

The Struts-Put Your Money On Me

Monday, July 25, 2016

What I'm Reading Monday...

The Girls by Emma Cline.

This came highly recommended. It is a basic retelling of the Charles Manson murders, albeit fictionalized and slightly changed.

I somehow was first introduced to Charles Manson on Dateline sometime in the 1990s. He scared the dickens out of me. Still does.

But of course it wasn't really about him. It was about his followers, those girls who had done his killing, and who smiled through their trials with nary a thought to the people that they had murdered.

It is those girls, now grown into women the age of my mother, who have become model prisoners, who have obtained degrees and mentored others in the prison system and who all claim to be remorseful, who claim to have been brainwashed by a madman, and who want nothing more than a life outside a prison wall for the last few decades of their life. This was denied just two days ago to Leslie Van Houten despite recommendation by the parole board to allow her her freedom, as California Governor Jerry Brown declared her a danger to society.

This novel imagines the life of those girls, and of one in particular who is at the edges of the fuss, but still intrigued by their smiles, their purpose, their seeming happiness.

It's one of those books that you don't really see the genius of until it is completely finished and you set it aside and realize what world you just emerged from.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Goodbye grey skies, hello blue...

The first show I ever loved was Happy Days.

That is not entirely true. The first show I ever loved with all of my heart was Sesame Street. But Happy Days was the second and I loved it with a fierceness that still endures today. I honestly think that it is the absolute best sitcom ever in the history of time.

I say this as (at least a former lover) of television. I don't really watch much television anymore other than the news and sports, but once upon a time I loved tv so much that just threatening to take away one television hour was an easy and productive punishment in my world.

So, yes, were I to make a list of great sitcoms, it would include all the best-I Love Lucy, Cheers, Seinfeld, All In The Family, and on and on until we eventually even would get to Homeboys In Outer Space because yes, I used to watch literally every episode of television on the air.

But the top of my list is reserved for Happy Days.

I was born in 1978. Fonzie had jumped the shark by then. But I loved him. And Joanie. And Chachi. Oh, how I loved Chachi.

The Cunningham home was a place of love, where Joanie and Richie's friends were accepted no matter the situation. Potsie is constantly referred to as someone who is disliked by his own father, but he has a heart of gold most clearly seen in the episode in which Joanie develops a huge crush on him and he is forced to let her down gently. So many faces make their way through the Cunningham's house-from cousin Roger to Jenny Picalo to Flip and K.C. Silly comedy highjinks ensue, but the characters always come home to a place of acceptance. When Richie blows the final shot of his high school basketball game, Howard is there to offer him a life saver.

I wanted to live in that world, where the biker was really a sweetheart scared to have his tonsils out, where the dorky Ralph and Potsie made even square Richie look cool, and most of all where I could meet and fall in love with a boy who always wears a bandana tied around his knee.

The world that Garry Marshall created was just a happy world where funny things happened. And today everyone is talking about how he made these sitcoms that were like comfort food for a decade that had seen the end of an unpopular war, the rise of an urban environment, the birth and death of disco, the maturing of hippies who left Woodstock to raise families in the suburbs-children who would grow up just in time to become teenagers in the mall loving, Reganomics eighties, abandoning those notions that the seventies presented as truth, the idea that all we needed was to read a lot and love each other and messy things like unequal pay for women could be swept away by passage of the ERA.

And to a degree, I agree with that. Garry Marshall was a genuinely nice guy who set out to make a show of what life was like in the 1950s. And another that was full of two women doing physical comedy to rival Lucille Ball. And yet another show that introduced a comedy legend to the world in the guise of an alien.

But he also introduced characters that wouldn't have been welcome on television a decade before. The idea of a leather-clad biker being the heart of a sweet family sitcom would have been unheard of in the 1960s. Two single women sharing an apartment and having active dating lives in which they talked often about "vodiododo." In his way he changed the face of television.

So allow me to add my voice to the chorus today saying goodbye to Garry Marshall, to say thank you for all the hours of joy from not only television, but so many movies and even characters in shows that he didn't create (Stan Lansing, I am looking at you). Thank you for making my childhood a happy place. And for Chachi.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What I'm Reading (On the Internet Version)...

I read a lot. Lots of books, newspapers, magazines. If it has words, I read it.

I read a lot of cool articles on the internet. Here are a few from the past couple of days:

Doctors Must Overcome New Red Tape In Struggle to Treat Veterans

I have been doing all of these pushups in an attempt to encourage people to learn about the issues facing veterans when they come home. Pro Publica and NPR recently did an entire series of excellent articles on veterans healthcare, with this article in particular being illuminating. I highly encourage you to read it, to contact your representatives, and especially to show patience to any veteran in your life having to deal with this healthcare system.

I Was One of the Interns Reading Your Lit Journal Submissions

The publishing world is a scary place. While I used to have dreams of working in publishing and finding a gem hidden among mounds of poorly written Mary Jane pieces, this is surely a more accurate picture. Submitting is chilling. (Said in a Chuckie Miller voice. I heart Seth Green.)

1984: The Year We Unwittingly Stopped Watching Movies and Started Watching Franchises

I love movies. If you follow me on social media, you surely know this. I am mostly not a fan of sequels, but that isn't entirely true-I love Grease 2 nearly as much as the original, and all of the Parent Trap sequels, which were all made-for-television movies. It all really depends on how old I was when I saw said sequel. Anyway, I am totally jazzed about the Ghostbusters reboot, mostly because I adore Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

An Important Timeline of Everything That's Happened Since Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris' Breakup

Because I love Taylor. A lot. And she seems to have jumped into this relationship. It's concerning. I have issues. It's okay. I'm aware.

I wrote most of this post Thursday, July 14, before the terrible tragedy in France. So allow me to say that I am so sad for all of those affected. I was in France and Spain exactly 20 years ago and am sad that in the world that I live in 20 years later I express sympathy every single week for some horrible atrocity that has occurred in the world. I believe with all of my heart that most people have good hearts. Love and forgiveness and kindness ultimately must win.

Monday, July 4, 2016

What I'm Reading Monday...

My sister and I read a lot. We like absolutely none of the same books. April loves mysteries, series, Jane Austen, and most especially anything concerning World War II.

World War II is extremely important, and I love many books concerning it. But last year we read The Book Thief on the heels of Life After Life and The Secret Keeper and I just had to have a break. Reading so many at one time makes them all swirl together in my head. And there is just a breaking point within me where the sad just cannot keep going-the Holocaust is surely the absolute worst atrocity of the modern age.

But today I pulled out my copy of Night and spent my holiday of independence reading about the horror of one boy's loss of his family, his faith, his humanity really. Night is brutal in its depiction of death, of terror. That human beings are capable of such brutality is one of the scariest of thoughts, and we really do require constant reminders of exactly how inhumane people can become when they begin to think of anyone as "other."

It has been a very long weekend of reading and movies for me. I hope that someday I look back on this time in my life-this time of such aloneness-and feel that I spent it wisely. Everything that I do anymore, from morning until night, is in an attempt to become a better person. I suppose if we dug down deeply into that we would discover my belief that somehow I can fix whatever was so wrong with me that the person who was supposed to love me forever decided that fifteen years was enough. But, at the same time, becoming a better person is surely also a noble endeavor. So we will hope that I am going about this healing correctly.