Category Archives: musings

The Deep State, Habitualization and the Trump supporter

Every once in a while I hear something, generally on the radio, and it is so damn timely that I’m stopped dead. It can happen in two ways – I hear a phrase or word and suddenly I seem to encounter it everywhere. The most recent example of this is the word “deep state” used when referring to long term, career public employees.

The right has begun wielding this phrase in a negative fashion, despite the popularizer of the term Mike Lofgrennever having presented it in that type of context. His book, titled The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of the Shadow Government, used the phrase to describe the entanglement of large institutions and government and the subsequent lack of ability for politicians to affect meaningful change. “Deep State” was a bipartisan condition, observed Lofgren, a long term Republican who has vowed to not vote republican again until “they demonstrate to me that they’ve purged Trumpism.

Trump and his supporters have elected to use the phrase deep state as “shorthand for Democratic-leaning bureaucrats who want to undermine Trump.” This “out to get us” stance is consistent with other methods of dividing our population which are you used with great success by our present federal administration, as well as those from fascist groups throughout history. When experienced people, be they bureaucrats, journalists or educators, are perceived as the enemy, we’ve got problems, people.

The instance of a term overheard can also serve to succinctly define a phenomena or situation which had been puzzling me, as in what occurred today. Listening to WAMC, I caught a Ted Talk, featuring Khasfia Rahman. The theme of the broadcast was Risk and Rahman described research she had initially begun as a high school student. Fascinated by the tendency of young people, particularly those between the ages of 13-18, to exercise poor judgment when making decisions, Rahman devised a study to explore the phenomena after observing her peers binge drinking, experimenting with drugs and generally proceeding through life in a reckless fashion.

Her question grew into one about brain development. If the brains of teens between the ages of 13-18 were immature and the cause of their risky behaviors, she posited, why weren’t the choices made by even younger people even more potentially hazardous?

Rahman determined that habitualization was the most likely cause of this phenomena. As she explained, young people who are repeatedly exposed to an unsafe or unappealing situation can frequently be observed moving from initial feelings of disinterest and rejection to an openness to explore, and eventually embrace, dangerous and risky activities. 

She provided an example of this behavior relating to tequila shots. As Rahman witnessed, young people with repeated exposure and access to shots of tequila become less fearful of the negative consequences of indulging in illicit drinking and grow increasingly accepting of the experience. The brains of these young actually people change.

I see a similar thing occurring to the brains of people who support the current president. As we are assaulted, seemingly from every angle, by information which clearly demonstrates the complete lack of integrity or qualification of Donald Trump, his followers continue to adapt their beliefs to allow for his outrageous and irrational behavior.

It begins as a denial and then evolves into an acceptance. Faced with evidence of Trump’s corruption, his believers deny the truth with which they have been presented.  After an onslaught of continued evidence, they transition from rejecting the facts, to minimizing the risks involved with ingesting them.

They swallow.

Anyone else need a shot of tequila?

 

 

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Filed under aging, Boys, musings, News, Observations, politics

Past peak

Jeter and I went for a little run the other afternoon. It was little because my body is currently in protest mode, refusing to run more than 3 or 4 miles without demanding a stretch or moment’s walk. The discomfort has shifted from being exclusively felt by my feet and hips to a more general sensation radiating from my rear pelvic region, hips and glutes. A joy it is not.

We ran one of my favorite routes – down the yellow brick road and around the perimeter of the big field down by the Normanskill Farm. Jeter swam for the last time of the year (again) and I chugged along the path, consoling myself with the view as I tried to focus on the positive. Like the view.

The trees remained beautiful, despite the scarcity of the leaves clinging to their branches in their shades of orange, yellow and red. I thought about a recent meme I had seen.


I considered the irony of reaching peak beauty only to release your stunningness and watch it fall to the ground.  I chided myself for not having the same grace, for not being as capable when it came to letting go.  Why was I occupying my mind with thoughts of how much easier this run once had been instead of celebrating the fact that I was simply out there doing it?

Wasn’t it unreasonable of me to expect to remain the same physically despite the passing of time?

Maybe I was past peak.

But, if I am, so what?

It’s not like a tree losing its leaves dies. No, it just shifts into a different season, one in which it strips itself bare and hunkers down until the eventual snows melt. In spring it returns to life with the coaxing of the sun. It’s probably not exactly the same in its new year as it had been in its past, but it really doesn’t matter to a tree, does it?

It shouldn’t matter to me either.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Gardens, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, running, upstate New York

Navigating through life

Before Waze and Google Maps, I often found myself lost, unsure of the direction in which I was driving. I was way too cool for a dashboard mounted compass or anything like that, so I recalled my Girl Scout training and tried to orient myself with the sun, with varying success. Most of the time, though, I was content with simply knowing that I was traveling in the right direction. It was enough.

 

Parenting can create a similar emotional state. Yes, there are plenty of tools to offer guidance, and there are some large beacons to indicate if one is on a reliable course, but the bottom line is you just never really know exactly where you’re at when you’re a parent. 

 

So, you look for signs along the way and try to keep your eyes on the road. In the past couple of weeks I’ve observed a few things which have me feeling pretty positive about where my kids are going, literally and figuratively. Please allow me to share.

 

My oldest son recently returned from his first solo vacation. When he initially told me he had purchased a plane ticket and made hotel reservations, in all honesty, I was kind of concerned. He has a tendency to be impulsive and, while I was excited that he had shown initiative, I feared he might have paid more than he should have for his trip. I don’t know if it’s a firstborn thing but he is resistant to asking for help with anything, which frustrates me.  While I’m not interested in micromanaging his life (I swear!), I do wish he would seek advice sometimes.

 

Turns out he did a wonderful job of making arrangements and planning his time in Florida. He managed to spend time with family, utilized public transportation effectively, planned his theme park visits really well and returned from his week away happy and confident in his abilities. 

 

This week my middle son is heading to London for a long weekend with friends. I’m sure there are parents who would find it crazy that I would be enthusiastic for my child to take time off from work to jet to London for 4 or 5 days, but, I couldn’t be happier for he and his friends. Their plans sound perfect – walking, eating and skateboarding. Bon voyage, my son!

 

Last month my youngest son started high school.  His explorations are of a different type than those of his brothers. Instead of finding his way geographically, he’s doing his best to navigate socially through what we all may recall as a confusing, and sometimes frustrating, time.  He is an emotionally sensitive kid, but I have been so proud of his realizations relating to how he should expect to be treated and what a young adult friendship should look like – a fun addition to an already enjoyable life. 

 

I continue to wonder where we’re each going to eventually wind up, but I’m confident we’re all moving in the right direction.

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Filed under Boys, family, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, travel, vacation

Columbus Weekend Discoveries

What a weekend, friends! I went into it with very little planned and I couldn’t feel more satisfied by what had to have been one of fall’s finest weekends. It was truly spectacular, far too nice to stay inside the house dealing with anything beyond the most essential of chores.

Except for a yoga class or two, that is. I popped into one on Saturday morning  that was a lovely slow paced practice and stretched my muscles after Friday’s late night run with Jeter. It’s been a long time since I ran with my boy because our paces don’t necessarily align and I get impatient with his need to sniff everything, as well as his remarkable ability to take frequent dumps.

I’ve been forced to back off running due to discomfort, and it felt really great to get out under the moon with my favorite four legged fellow. My feet, particularly my left one, have been giving me problems and I’m currently in a place I consider to be somewhere between my first and eventual second cortisone shot in my foot. Plantar fibromas suck.

The yoga class I took on Monday, an intermediate level practice called Hot Core Flow, was 75 minutes of focused challenge. Sally is a beast and the class absolutely kicks my ass. It’s tons of core work, something I’m consciously working on after being diagnosed with a tiny hernia in my abdomen, and the planks just kept coming. We moved through a couple of series of plank to forearm plank to plank to forearm plank repeat and the sweat was just dripping off me.  It felt amazing.

As things became difficult, I reminded myself to return to the breathing with which we had started the class. Deep inhale, deep exhale. Again. Repeat. Controlling my breath helped me feel strong in way that was similar to when I run. As I consider what my body and brain are both comfortable with, in terms of aerobic exercise, I appreciated this familiar sensation.

Running isn’t about legs nearly as much as it is about breathing and heart.

You know it’s a hard class when half pigeon, despite my hips were screaming for the duration, felt like a resting pose. It was totally intense, but somehow exactly what I needed – to be pushed first, then encouraged to relax and soften.

As we settled into shavasana, Sally offered a reading, excerpted from here,
that was as perfect as her playlist had been all class long.

Your journey
Your path
Your purpose

Crossing an ocean in a boat isn’t the only way to explore new things. Even if I can’t run exactly the way I’d like to, maybe I’ve discovered some else.

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, friends, Local, musings, Observations, running, travel, upstate New York

All you can(t) leave behind

E848DC09-C1C0-4467-B16D-194572CBD1EA.jpegHave you ever been reluctant to end or leave something* because you were convinced the minute you did would be the same moment that things finally turned that corner of which you never could catch more than a glimpse? You believed you should stick with it, especially when you reminded yourself of your tendency, in pre-Waze days, to not reach a destination because you were convinced you had somehow missed it, when in fact you hadn’t yet gone far enough.  You’re no quitter, are you?

Back in those days, you were that rare combination of optimistic, trusting and honest. Now, you know you’ll never surrender as completely to those same instincts ever again. Not in this lifetime at least.

That knowledge leaves you feeling equal parts sad and relieved.

Walking away from a situation that isn’t working should be easier. We all have free will, right? Not being happy or respected or rewarded for giving our best, should make the decision to move on a simple one, yet, that has not been my experience. In fact, it’s been the one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

I remember when I quit smoking cigarettes. I was tired of being a smoker. It was gross and unhealthy and I didn’t like the taste in my mouth. I wanted to take up running after struggling to run a mile in a P.E. conditioning class I was taking as an undergrad. I wanted to feel better and not get bronchitis. Yes, there were distinct moments when I did enjoy a cigarette – with a drink, after a meal, late at night, but those occasions were fleeting.

Trading my health for those moments wasn’t a good exchange. I needed to quit.

It wasn’t easy, but I relished my improved senses of smell and taste. I could run longer distances without gasping. I felt lighter in a way not at all related to weight.

Life was better without cigarettes.

My dreams, though, were filled with cigarettes. I wasn’t smoking in my dreams but, I was exposed to cigarettes and the dreams always ended as I was considering lighting one for myself. I would wake up wishing that I could have had just one drag, how I knew that would have satisfied my craving and I could have moved on. Let go.

This cycle of dreams and waking yearning continued for quite some time, maybe years. The last time this dream paid a visit, it was different. I made it to the end and watched myself smoke an entire cigarette – and I looked so happy. I saw myself inhaling and thought about how nauseous I would be if I ingested all of those chemicals and nicotine into my lungs. I knew dream Silvia had made the wrong choice and I was so disappointed with her.

I woke up crying.

My takeaway – It’s better to eliminate what only brings limited pleasure in favor of choosing what brings a more consistent and positive happiness. Even if the craving remains strong, giving in ultimately brings more sadness than joy. It isn’t worth it.

But, I am.

So are you.

PS. I haven’t had the dream since.

*a job, situation, relationship, etc

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Filed under aging, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, running, secrets

Catch up!

Believe it or not, DelSo is nearly ten years old. It’s been a pretty interesting run for me. Writing and sharing my life with people who take in my words, without looking in my eyes, is a sometimes odd experience.

My original concept, an inspired idea without much planning (aka The Silvia Story), was a community blog with neighborhood things and local events. I had birthed the sometimes hated name, DelSo and, for some weird reason, it stuck. I’ll never stop smiling just thinking about “DelSo” appearing in some official city mailings and on Google Maps. Kids, you can make up your own language!

Anyway, my idea was to explore happy hours around town and write about it. Low key, kind of insider foodie stuff. Fun. You know, light.

My life changed and the blog changed. There was a lot of emotion and readers responded. I grew to accept that the stories I shared were, in fact, mine to tell and if my transparency revealed the shadows of others, it wasn’t my intention.

DelSo has been a consistent outlet for nearly a decade, something I never imagined. Since last spring I’ve also been publishing pieces on a new platform, CivMix. Some of the topics are similar to things I’ve written about right here, but they’ve been tweaked a little differently. Truthfully, I sometimes wrestle with where to publish what. It feels like some weirdo writer’s infidelity thing. Whatever.

Here are some recent posts I’ve written over at CivMix. Hope you enjoy them – S

Travels With Sons

 

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-school-year-…chers-confession/

Why Own When You Can Rent?

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-waterboys-ca…-theater-9-19-19/

Beach birthday – Jersey Shore Weekend

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, Events, family, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, travel

Jersey girl birthday

Or, The Story of the 35th Anniversary of My 18th Birthday, Jersey Shore Style

F7603EE7-FF2E-4B6C-9287-B2717F42DEA6I sought this photo out for a post over at CivMix and every time I look at it, I can’t help but smile. What in the world gave that high school dropout with zero prospects the nerve to look over her shoulder with such an assured gaze?

For the life of me, I can’t remember feeling half as confident as I appear in that photo. I was in love. I know that. M1 was making me smile and I was happy, not knowing where I was going, but glad to be exactly where I was.

I’m fairly certain that picture was taken in the summer of 1984. I know it was on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. My hair was permed and glazed. I believe the shade was called “fuchsia plum” and my hair looked wild under the bright lights.

That was the last time I was on the beaches of New Jersey, until last weekend. Thirty-five years later, I was finally back on the beaches of “the Shore,” which was what we called the New Jersey coast where I grew up.

F306957B-791C-41CF-AB3B-1288B73BD5B9On this recent trip I felt more so much established, certain of my value. I knew I was a catch for far more than a coquettish glance. The swagger in my step currently comes from the knowledge that I am, without a doubt, capable, independent and resilient. My gaze is direct instead of coy and, while my hair may be fading into silver, I feel more confident in myself than ever before.

I look back at that photo and can’t help but consider all of the decisions I’ve made between then and now. Some good, others not so great.  I’m so happy to know that I wouldn’t alter a single one of those choices because, if I did, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and it’s a damn good place.

Sunday, the day after my 53rd birthday, I laid on the beach soaking in the rays of the sun. I wore a two piece bathing suit, something I wouldn’t have done when I was 18 because I would have been concerned with how I looked to others.

On this particular day, though, I realized I didn’t really care how I looked in a bikini, because it was all about how the sun felt on my skin. And it felt great.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, girlhood, musings, road trips, Summer, sunday