Category Archives: News

Hearing voices

Driving in my car the other day, I caught WAMC’s Joe Donahue conducting an interview with a woman whose name I didn’t catch, having tuned in mid broadcast. As I listened to the conversation I realized the woman’s voice was familiar…it was my friend, Sally, who works for the University. How cool! I turned up the volume and enjoyed listening to the smart and compassionate conversation about important things impacting college students today, like food insecurity, stress and mental health.

From what Sally said, there are many resources available to assist the population with which she works. The Campus Center seems to be the hub for where students can physically access this support and I hope the various programs in place are able to work to their capacity. They’re doing good work.

I imagine the two perpetrators of last weekend’s mass shootings were each of the age the resources of Purple Pantry and related services are designed to aid. If they weren’t currently students, there were probably community programs to assist with mental health issues available to both young men. I know, from a meeting I sort of* attended at the Savoy last month, that the city of Albany offers referrals to numerous low cost or free counseling and other support systems for those in need and I would think most communities offer something along these lines, right?

Let’s just argue, though, for the sake of arguing, because that’s what we do when we’re afraid and hesitant to make hard decisions, and say that there was no possibility for either of these cold blooded killers to access any resources which might have improved their lives, and potentially avoided the taking of dozens of innocent lives.

Ok, if that is indeed the case, why in the world were either of these two young men permitted to purchase weapons and ammunition that would allow them murder people at a rate of approximately one every 8 seconds? Why are the laws in place so inadequate that a man who caused his high school to be placed on lock down, because of his threats to classmates via lists of whom he wanted to kill or rape, is permitted a few short years later, to purchase guns capable of wreaking that kind of carnage?

I’m starting hear more and more people coming to the same devastating conclusion – this is who we are. This is America, land of the free, home of the gun. If an arguably not for profit organization, like the NRA, and its demands trump the expectation that our children, siblings, parents, lovers and friends should be able to conduct lives in schools and stores and offices and concert venues and festivals and places of worship and not be gunned down…well, I guess it’s time to either own it or fix it. Because next time it just might be you or yours.

A last anecdote – a friend, who owns a local food business and vends at many markets, shared the following:

You can bet that’s my new Starbucks’ name.

 

*The room was packed and I couldn’t get in to the meeting. Closed circuit tv allowed for viewing from the bar.

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Filed under Albany, Local, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, Schools

Don’t worry about a thing

Wednesday evening when Stephen Marley sang that lyric I wanted to go there with him to a place where there are no worries. Releasing the weight of worry sounds amazing. All that energy previously occupied with fretting about things beyond one’s own control can be put to use so much more productively. Instead of creating scenarios of doom, our brains could be creating something beautiful. God, that would be such a nice change from beginning the morning with the latest shit Twitter storm and then being consumed with the responses and breaking news for the remainder of the day.

The Right and the Left, along with the Socialists when they’re able to participate in the war of  opinion overload, are producing so much information that it feels like an assault, a mental and emotional injury almost. It hurts.

Turn it off, you say? How does one do that? It feels to me like we’re living a reality that we’ve read about in history books, very pre-WWII. I stay connected to media because I don’t want my grandchildren to ever ask me what I did during these dark and divided days only for me to respond with “I ignored it.” Digesting, processing and trying to understand news and information these days is an excruciating job, but as invested humans we have to make an effort.

I looked around the Plaza and saw so many different and unique looking people, all together enjoying great music on a beautiful summer night. As you might imagine, “Every little thing is gonna be alright,”* is certainly a statement in which I’d like to believe. Maybe I’m focusing on the “wrong” things, universal health care, access to quality education, the acknowledgement of everyone’s equal civil rights, instead of the unemployment rate and the performance of my 403B.

Is it me or are you worried too?

*Confession: I inserted “once Trump and his ilk are gone” after every verse.

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Filed under aging, Albany, concerts, Events, musings, News, Observations, politics, stress, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I want my country back

Nearly every day there’s another anxiety inducing situation or remark delivered courtesy of the incompetent and corrupt Trump administration. There is no end in sight and I’m growing increasingly concerned about the state of our country and what the future may hold. To be perfectly blunt – shit is scary and I find myself frequently on the edge obsessing over the direction in which the President seems to be leading us. It is really bad.

As a librarian, I was trained to evaluate information and seek multiple perspectives on topics and I try to apply those skills in my personal media consumption. I sometimes listen to conservative radio when I’m in the car and have made a point of checking Fox and other media outlets to get the “other side” of the story because I really want to understand their position. I truly don’t want to only absorb opinions that match my own, but when I listen to right wing commentators I feel my heart start to race. How are we interpreting the same actions in such radically different ways?

My only explanation for our divergent viewpoints is differing motivations and priorities. Personally, I’m not particularly motivated to accumulate money, so the purported tax break doesn’t impress me. I’d be much happier having any reduction of my tax burden being redistributed to people who need it more than I. The popular technique of demonizing refugees and other people seeking safety and opportunity isn’t very effective either. I’m not afraid of people who don’t look like me or who have skin of a different color. I’d like to think that I’m evolved enough to recognize that if fear of “other” was compelling me to behave in a particular way towards certain people, I would know that it was a deficit in myself, and not them.

The things in life that are most important to me, my priorities, are things like clean water, breathable air, a stable home, and access to food, education and health care. I’m not interested in building walls. Instead, I want to know why in a country as rich in resources as ours, there are people who do not have their most basic needs met. Why are there families who have to choose between food and medicine? How do low and middle income families ever get ahead? Hard work no longer reliably gets rewarded in our society. How many people do you know who work their asses off 40 or 50 hours a week to, at best, barely hang on to basic necessities?

Speaking of bare necessities, we can agree that these include a place to safely sleep, essential hygiene products like a toothbrush, and linens suited to the environment are essential, can’t we? I’m disgusted to know that employees of the federal government are in a position in which they must either:

A. seriously argue that a blanket is not a required item for a child sleeping on a concrete floor or 

B. actually resist that avenue of thinking and, perhaps, even decry the kind of fucked up logic that is currently being put forth by the Whitehouse and refuse the task.

I’ve always refused to allow fear to be the reason behind the choices I make and resent the Republican game which makes this emotion such a central part of their playbook. I have to admit, though, that I am afraid. Our government is becoming something I’ve never before seen in our country and there does not seem to be a bottom to our fall. I’m tired of hearing about the economy and I don’t care how well anyone’s portfolio is doing. It doesn’t mean anything to me if unemployment is at historically low rates, either. You see, those highs and lows mean nothing if our souls are bankrupt and the expectations for our elected representatives are satisfied by the quality of the people currently in those positions. It’s time to get involved and resist. I want my country back.

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Alabama getaway

I am so tired of the abortion debate. Not like too exhausted to continue to fight for women to have control of their own reproductive choices. No, that isn’t it at all. I mean, like so weary of having to argue with people who believe that they have the authority to dictate what any woman can do with her body. The kind of tired that makes a person angry and liable to snap. Like hangry on a massive dose of steroids. Yeah, like that.

Circa 1982

 

 

To me, taking responsibility for an unintended pregnancy as a teenager meant terminating because I knew I wasn’t responsible enough to care for a child. I had no education, no career and no partner with whom I wanted to raise a child. My life style then was far less moderate than my current one and the pregnancy, as I said, was unplanned. That eventual child would not have been provided with its best start and caring for a infant, with potential birth defects, certainly would have been far beyond my capabilities as a high school student. My choice was the best one in my situation.

It was no body’s* business but my own, and only my soul, if there’s such a thing, will bear the scars of my choice. Just like it’s my body, it’s my karma or damnation. It has nothing to do with you, so don’t try to make it your business.

It’s not about YOU or God. Not everything is.

I’ve never claimed to not wonder, or think, about what that embryo may have grown to become. I’ve always been convinced that the aborted baby was a girl and, after being fortunate enough to birth three sons, I’m ok with the universe fucking with me like that. That being said, I have zero regret about my decision and I truly believe that the energy that was gathering cells together within my body, went somewhere else in the universe. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have a close female friend who is essentially the same age my child would be and I appreciate that her own mother was in a position to welcome her into the world in a way that I could not. She is a gift.

So, while I’m more than tired of hypocritical politicians, men who seek to exert control over a woman’s reproductive decisions and people who care more about the life of an unborn child than they do of one that is living in horrendous conditions, I will not ever rest on this issue. Promise.

*get it? MY body

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Filed under girlhood, News, Observations, politics, Rant, secrets

The rich are different – Meghan Markle’s baby shower and the college admissions scandal.

Do you think the wealthy live like you? There have been a couple of news items recently that, to me, have very much demonstrated a fundamental difference between those who are financially rich and those who are not. First example? Meghan Markle’s recent baby shower in NYC, an occasion which seemed to truly piss people off due to the extreme cost of the event. To all the people who expressed disgust at the indulgence of a baby shower which cost more than most people make in multiple years of full time work, I ask this – are you sincerely shocked that Meghan Markle had a baby shower hosted at The Mark Hotel’s penthouse aka the most expensive hotel room in the country?  What were you expecting? Crepe streamers and ice cream cake at the Elks Club?

While the act of becoming pregnant and birthing a child may be one that is practically universal (sorry, dudes, you do not have the power), how that whole process works on a socio-economic basis is quite varied. If you’re poor, black or uneducated your odds of having a well tended and healthy pregnancy are dramatically lower than what the Duchess of Sussex will experience. Focusing attention on the expense of her shower, which was paid for by her wealthy friends, deflects attention from the real issue – there’s an incredible disparity in health care and opportunities between the wealthy and most of the world’s population.  That being said,  I don’t begrudge her the joy that comes from bringing a new life into the world and I don’t believe you should either. Save your energy and outrage for the women who don’t get prenatal care or postpartum support.

Now, about this college admissions scandal…how is anyone surprised by this situation?  Rich people have been buying access to various institutions forever. If you’re wealthy, you can afford to invest in tutors, test prep, and other unearned opportunities for yourself and your children. No real shock there, right? Of course it isn’t enough that the offspring of the affluent don’t ever have to consider, much less worry about,  the expense of the college application process or getting a summer job to pay for books.  Nor will the onerous financial burden of student loan debt* be something that will ever be a part of their lives. Yet, apparently, those benefits of being wealthy aren’t quite enough, so a number of celebrities kicked it up a notch by ensuring their children’s admissions to elite schools by making large donations to educational institutions, buying their children better test scores and bribing coaches and athletics officials. Because, you know, all the advantages that come with white privilege aren’t enough when one can seal the deal with a generous check.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so focused on an extravagant celebration of an upcoming birth. Perhaps it’s time instead to direct our attention toward what children are being taught by their parents after they’re born.

 

*Which, by the way, is currently estimated to be $1.5 TRILLION.

 

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Filed under Education, News, Rant, Schools, Uncategorized

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Currently OBSESSED with The Gianni Versace miniseries. It is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. And that’s really saying something because I have to close my eyes a significant amount of time during nearly every episode. Darren Criss portrays the murderer, Andrew Cunanan, as squirm inducing in the worst possible. Andrew is intensely dislikable, yet able to inspire an iota of pity because he is just so friggin insane.  He literally makes my skin crawl.

I vaguely remember when Versace was murdered, and the tragedy of losing another wildly talented artist, but no real details beyond that it occurred in Miami Beach. Maybe it was because I was so recently in that exact area, but this retelling of a famous crime has really hit me and it’s a struggle to ration episodes. The front steps to his villa, currently a restaurant and boutique hotel, remain as they were the day he was shot down. People take selfies on them.

That Andrew Cunanan was so damn crazy. I guess we don’t really know how many of the details have been fictionalized, but the conversations between the characters are so riveting. Penelope Cruz slays as Donatella Versace and Judith Light brought as the wife of a men who hires Cunanan as an escort with bad results. The soundtrack is familiar dance tracks from the early 90s and eerie mood music that causes me to shudder. Don’t watch this alone in the dark.

At this point, I can’t decide if want the series to be over or never to end. I can be a real glutton for sensation, even when it hurts. Time to go run the golf course.

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Filed under Fashion, favorites, ideas, News, Recommendations, television, Uncategorized

Thank you, President Trump for…

*showing the world how to unleash the racist, misogynistic, homophobic and anti semitic members of society.

*being such a dramatic contrast to the previous administration and its ability to lead with grace, intelligence and respect.

*speaking so bluntly and conveying your thoughts without an iota of decorum or presidential dignity.

*convincing your base that immigrants are “vermin,” instead of humans desperate to escape their violent and often corrupt homelands.

*directing your venom towards the media as you spread propaganda and distribute falsehoods throughout our country and the world.

*helping to create an economy that has resulted in positive gains in my investments at the expense of health care and other social programs that benefit those who have far less than I do.

*appointing and supporting judges who will have the power to eliminate reproductive and civil rights for our citizens.

*denying scientific evidence with regards to climate change and the impact it has on the world and future generations.

*causing many to question the definitions of Patriotism, Nationalism and Socialism as they relate to our country.

*finally getting my brother to register and vote.

 

 

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Filed under musings, News, Observations, politics, Rants, Uncategorized