where the crawdads sing and the theory of acceptance

I have been re-reading the Delia Owens book Where The Crawdads Sing. The book was optioned for a movie and I wanted to reread it before I see the movie, which is now newly released. Not that I am going to rush to see the movie right away, but I will eventually because I love the book.

The cover of the book declares it “a murder mystery, a coming of age-narrative, and a celebration of nature.” That is practically a dumbing down of the novel. It is so much more than the obviousness pitched on the cover to sell copies to the masses. It’s also about isolation and acceptance.

This book took the author a decade to write and has been sitting for 168 weeks on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. It’s a haunting book, and a twisty-turny one for sure. But there are so many nuances. The main character is Kya.

Kya is a product of a dysfunctional Southern family riddled with issues and abuse. Her father beats everyone and is a crazy alcoholic and World War II veteran whom today probably would have been diagnosed at a minimum with PTSD. Eventually, Kya’s multiple siblings and her mother leave. They leave a then rather little girl with a dangerously abusive man, her father. Kya is also treated horribly by her community at large, a victim of nasty small town gossip, prejudice, and bullying. She is a poor white kid in a small town who lives in a marsh.

This Kya is called all sorts of names. Marsh Girl, missing link, marsh trash, dirty. She goes to school for like a day and runs away from it because the kids are so horrible. She is an outcast, an outsider. A few befriend her including member of the small black community who know all well the reality of prejudice and racism, and that is how she learns to read, take care of herself. Through these people she is introduced to a book publisher as she gets older because of her nature watercolors and accounts of wildlife living in and around her on the marsh. Her life experience, what she knows.

A lot of the book shows you the aching loneliness of a human being who only wants to be seen and loved. Her friends whom she actually trusts are the wild things in the marsh. Kya grow up naïve, world weary, mistrusting. Always the outsider looking in and so alone. People like that live among us every day. The people most don’t take the time to get to know.

The undercurrent of any human being’s need for acceptance is something that flows throughout this book. That got me thinking.

I remember growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit. And I was by no means an outsider or outcast. I began to contemplate it when I was at Shipley, which then was predominantly WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) and some of the people I went to school just came from these families with insane money and pedigrees going back centuries. I was average middle class and had a vowel on the end of my name and was Catholic. Where many were blonde and blue eyed with adorable figures and killer equestrian and other sporting related genes, I had dark hair and was distinctly average. And it wasn’t that people weren’t nice, most were even if some weren’t. But it was sometimes it was like, where did I fit? Or was I just thinking too much and over-thinking? Probably. It may have been the experience before Shipley that caused that.

I had experienced that whole not fitting most acutely and didn’t know really what it was when we first moved to the Main Line from the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. My parents plunked me in Welsh Valley Junior High School, part of the esteemed Lower Merion School District.

Welsh Valley in my day was a hot bed of some of the meanest mean girls who walked the earth to this day. I wasn’t called “Marsh Girl” but I was called “City Girl” with derision and often. And I was bullied a bit. Even as I made friends, I was bullied and simultaneously watched the girls who were friends with me get a hard time sometimes because of association with me. And for what? I was new, didn’t fit into their then molds of having all mostly known each other since kindergarten. It didn’t just happen to me, and I knew many girls and boys they were just as miserable to. These were girls who literally just did this for the sheer sport of it.

I actually didn’t buckle to those girls, although the one who went to school with me but was a year behind me did make me come close in Sunday school. Yes, Sunday school. We lived in the same neighborhood at one time, and everything was fine until my mother bought me a pair of French jeans and a narrow wale corduroy jumper from a store in Ardmore where young to mid- teen and tween girls shopped. It’s been so long I forget the name. It was down the street on Lancaster Avenue from the Army-Navy.

I had not seen the clothing on anyone. These were styles everyone was wearing, and pretty much every girl I knew or knew of then shopped at this store in Ardmore. So I wore the jumper to church and Sunday school one Sunday. This girl literally came after me during a break in Sunday school. I remember I just kept moving to get away from her. She was yelling at me, trying to hit me. She was taller than me too. Yelling mainly that I was a copycat (‘take it off”) and worse. Yes…she happened to be wearing the same jumper…in a different color. I had never seen her wear it. Our mothers must have bought it at the same time. She had a sister in my class. She was a quieter more calculating version of her younger sister. They left me alone in school, and came after me in Sunday school. I remember my mother thought I was making it up at first until other parents kind of said “Oh THOSE girls.

This was just one example.

No one ever stopped them. The other mean girls were the Monday through Friday variety. They were even worse. They were especially delightful during lunch period and gym. I was grateful that my parents let me go to Shipley. There I found my fit and my footing, but sometimes I just felt odd man out, like I didn’t belong. But Shipley at least gave me the courage to see the junior high bullies for what and who they were. And I remember being very amused by some of the attempts of a few of them to quasi friend me when I was a junior and senior in high school because one of the cute high school jocks they liked to chase was my neighbor and we were friends. Of course, that was a foreign concept to them to be friends with a guy. For the most part, they were what my friend’s grandmother would describe as being fast and having round heels. I didn’t quite get the round heels reference at first. Like I said, I was naiive. But I knew enough to be amused by the false offers of friendship, and to keep my distance. However, I did learn a valuable lesson then: throughout your life there will people who will always need you more than you need them.

This whole not quite fitting at times doesn’t end with middle school or high school. It exists with adults and has become more prevalent in the age of social media. Take for example, this woman who is all over social media and in her business model about how important it is to lift up and support other women. Anyway, she is on this thread mocking another woman, a stranger to her, over a local fundraising calendar that was like the UK movie Calendar Girls. The comments are nasty, sexist, ageist, sizeist. Their target was a woman who is not size four skinny with Botox, breast enhancements, tons of makeup always, hair extensions, or Come-F-Me pumps. She is an actual real woman who is truthfully pretty, smart, and nice…but outspoken.

Outspoken always gets punished. Outspoken never quite fits and I know that first hand. It’s like yawn, why be so predictable…yet they are predictable and practically run off of a script. Similar to sniping at me, another stranger from a strange land to them.

These are the people in today’s world in general who seem to find it their mission to make everyone not them not fit. They are the only ones whose acceptance in this world should matter. Basically pick a year, a decade, a century and you will find people, especially women like this. They exist to wound. Be mean. You don’t fit in whatever notion they have of the big, wide word and society.

A couple of years ago I heard a story of a woman who was then a new breast cancer survivor who had horrible complications. Another survivor, supposedly a “friend”, offers her clothes she was finished with because she lost weight. But she was neither nice nor kind about it. More like “Here I won’t need these fat clothes any more.” Took my breath away hearing that. Just gratuitously mean, and again from a woman who supposedly likes to tell people how wonderful she is and supportive of other women.

As an adult, I have experienced the don’t quite fit at different stages of adulthood. First when I was among those who didn’t get married and procreate right away. It just wasn’t in the cards at first, and guess what? Some of those who were the harshest of that brand of critics are now all divorced at least once. And about the having no kids naturally out of my womb of it all? Couldn’t have them. Knew that early enough on in my life. It bothered me at times, but then it just didn’t because it was simply beyond my control.

Then I experienced the don’t quite fit when I moved to Chester County. At first it was because I was new and some folks had been around forever between their lives, and the lives of family members. Then it was because I was living with someone and not married. Yes, really. How do people have so much time on their hands to do this crap to other people?

Slowly over time, I have been accepted by some, not all. Ironically those who accepted me first are a lot of the people a generation or two above me who are long term residents of Chester County. Just nice, decent people. Also slowly over time you learn to let go of the negative feelings caused by the non-accepting. But you also learn over time it is O.K. to stand up for yourself and tell them what they are doing is not acceptable if you want.

But still, not everyone is accepting. It’s life. I ran into it again recently. Very hurtful, and caught me by surprise because it was unexpected. But it’s mostly because they have never met anyone like me that can’t just be put into a comfort category and left there. I am also outspoken. I stand up for myself. Standing up for myself is something I learned to do. You can thank Welsh Valley Junior High School in Lower Merion Township for that. When you are going to a school that is sometimes like a literal Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies or bad Darwinian theory, you learn.

What it comes down to is simple: if you aren’t from someone else’s precise world, people may or may not be comfortable with you. It just is what it is. Where The Crawdads Sing definitely delves into this and the question of acceptance within a community and how isolating people changes them and you. That is also what I think plays into the realities of racism at times.

Today, in the USA we live in a world of extremism. Politically, socially, financially, and oh yes climatically. It’s sad and tiring. I wonder what other countries think of us? Maybe I don’t want to know because maybe it is just too embarrassing.

If you haven’t read Where The Crawdads Sing, you should. And before you see the movie because I am told sadly the movie still doesn’t capture all the myriad nuances of the book BUT that doesn’t surprise me. It would have to be a Netflix or Prime series, not just a two hour movie to capture it all.

Where The Crawdads Sing has also reignited a murder mystery surrounding the author. That is another fascinating aspect of the book, and does make you just wonder.

What happens when you don’t quite know how you fit? In the end it just depends how strong you are and if you are willing to be human as well. People always say “be kind” but they should add also don’t be fake. Being genuine goes a long way.

Thanks for stopping by.

“adults” and social media

The more I learn about the way people behave, the more I realize there are a lot of messy people in this world.

Lessons learned this weekend from “adults” and the log book of kiss kiss and bless your hearts, haters:

You can’t say Nancy Fuller from Food Network is “annoying AF”, because it’s “unkind.” Please note she’s not some neighbor’s mom or grandmother, she’s on TELEVISION, and she’s not Julia Child and is even more annoying than Martha Stewart or Paula Deen can be. I will occasionally share the woman’s recipes, I just can’t watch her live either on a Facebook video or some show she’s in because she grates on me. It’s kind of like people whose music you like but you don’t want see them perform in person. Above all else? It’s just one opinion.

Yes that really happened. Up pops this woman in a Facebook cooking group I run. This woman couldn’t just say that she disagreed with how I felt about a Food Network TV personality, no she had to be extra. This person had to say how terrible a person I was, my pizzas were repetitive, no one likes me or my cooking group. (I am still trying to understand how pizza entered the conversation because we were not talking about pizza.)

All of this because I said I thought a television personality was annoying A.F.?

But wait, there’s more. Next this woman private messages me. She has to make the extra point to tell me that I am a horrible person and everybody hates me and everybody makes fun of me.

Oh yes, the invisibles/nameless shamers and finger pointers in life. I thought I left them behind after high school. Apparently not. People you don’t know, don’t know actually exist, who want to define you. (A perennial favorite with me, can’t you tell?)

Seriously, like we’re young teenagers. Also, this is someone I literally don’t know, I have never met nor had a conversation with. Quite literally a stranger who happens to be in two of my Facebook groups. And she did a similar thing with me in my Facebook gardening group a while back which I let slide.

Allow me to circle back and make sure I have this correct: according to her, I am a terribly horrible person who apparently knows nothing about anything, yet she stays in my groups for years? How is this a normal person?

Alrighty then. I am a shameless hussy. Next?

Maybe it’s yet another Facebook phenomenon in the category of Stupid Human Tricks. Facebook is as we all know, fun to be on with friends, but often a really weird place ruled by inconsistent algorithms and full of super messy people. There are people you meet who are completely different in person, versus on a social media platform. Then there are people who pretend to be other people even though you know who they really are. And that’s their business and their story to tell, I just don’t understand it at times.

Sometimes the way purported adults behave on social media leaves you with a case of the why, why, whys. Another example? People you don’t hear from very often who won’t be Facebook friends with you in case “certain” people see who message you only when information seeking. That always cracks me up. But that’s their comfort level.

Facebook, however, is not the real world, and neither is Instagram. Some people use both platforms to post about their world. but for others it is just a playground for narcissistic behavior. I use both platforms to stay connected to friends. I post a lot about gardening and cooking, because those are two of my passions. I share what I write. Once in a while I post a selfie, as opposed to some people who all they do is post selfies or photos others have taken of them, professional or otherwise. Yes, I really find it amusing when people constantly have professional head shots and other photos taken for their Facebook profile photo and other posts. That is “Look at me, I am Sandra Dee” syndrome.

It’s all fairly ordinary. Until it isn’t when you encounter one of these virtual human land mines like I did…in a cooking group over a less than important TV personality. Encountering people like this is something that just makes you world weary at times. It makes you sit back and wonder why you bother to try to do anything. But then it comes back to what my Pennsylvania German grandmother always used to say: “consider the source.”

So I am considering the source, but I just find it puzzling and bizarre behavior. It makes you almost feel sorry for this woman, except it doesn’t.

I will never ever say “why can’t we all get along?” I am a realist, and I don’t think it’s possible. But what I don’t understand about these mostly women on social media platforms, is if they have such an intense dislike for someone on social media, why be in their groups?

What did I do in the end with this woman? I removed her from my groups. She doesn’t have to be my best friend, but life is too short for attack rats.

Thanks for stopping by.

the new feminism or revisiting old issues?

I don’t know if any of you are watching the HBO/MAX series on the life of Julia Child called “Julia”. I have always been a fan of the French Chef, and I love to cook and I have a bunch of her cookbooks so I really enjoy the show, which began before I was even born. I also enjoy the show and the way that it has blended the era in which she started in TV with the world around them.

In one of the episodes Julia Child has an encounter with Betty Friedan. My research indicates this encounter never actually happened. But another article I read said that the show was perhaps exploring Julia’s brand of feminism versus Betty’s. And that made me think of how do we define feminists and feminism today? The show makes valid points, it also makes you ponder sometimes why as women we are our own sex’s worst enemies.

When I look back on life, you naturally start when we were growing up. Especially if you grew up in an area like the Main Line, which isn’t necessarily the real world. Graduating high school in 1981 meant sure we were being groomed to have the big female careers, but conversely we were also still being groomed to be lovely hostesses in our husbands’ homes. And no one told us or showed which choice was the right choice for us as individuals.

My career was not some giant six-figure career with fancy cars and penthouse apartments. I think that was harder on my mother for a lot of years as opposed to me. Just like it was hard on her when I was single, and sometimes she made me feel like that was a huge flaw in me as a human being. I liked what I did. Never wanted to just be with a partner or date, or even marry just so I could say I did that. I wanted it to be right.

But what I discovered when I got what should have been a career dream job is I didn’t really like it as much as the other things I had done all the other years. But it was an accomplishment. I will note that I was definitely deserving of a six-figure salary for a lot of those years, and I honestly never attained it. However, you know what? That was fine. I wasn’t a millionaire but I had enough money to take care of myself most of the time, and sometimes it was tight and I managed. And the truth of the matter is, employers are cheap. The key to their particular brand of success is not making you wealthy, but making them wealthy. Just another version of plantation mentality.

I have also always been opinionated. Sometimes that’s welcome in a corporate setting, sometimes not. as I entered into my 30s I began to realize there were other things out there. There wasn’t just being on socially correct junior committees and going to the right parties and being seen with the right people. There were the things in life that you took a look at and made you realize that all the people you were on committees with would always need you more than you needed them.

Gradually I became active in my community. I became kind of a community/grassroots activist of sorts. But sometimes who I was clashed with some of the people I was a community activist with, as well as people I grew up with . And sometimes these two sides of me clashed within myself. It took me until I was well into my 40s to understand that I could be both of those people.

And then there is the whole me as I have gotten older. I married later than a lot of people, and when I was marrying for the first time a lot of people I know were not only divorcing but onto subsequent spouses. Sometimes in that part of my world I felt judged. And I don’t really know why I think it’s just because I kind of did me all of these years. Not always easily because as we grow we learn more about ourselves. Especially as women.

Sometimes now, I feel myself judged by an entirely different generation of women. I am a stepparent and I never had my own children, somehow that goes against you and I don’t quite know how. It would’ve been nice if I had been able to bear my own children, but medically that was never possible for me, and it just never would’ve presented itself as an opportunity in the more traditional “childbearing years.”

And there’s the whole idea of feminism and having it all. But at on the eve of 58 I still wonder if you can have it all? Or is what makes you happy in fact actually having it all? I think it’s that. I think having it all, is being content with your life. And maybe that runs counter to feminism. Maybe I personally run counter to feminism because I like to do things like garden and cook and keep my house. I don’t think for years you were supposed to admit that out loud.

I look around me and we all spend a lot of our time as women in general, telling everyone else what they should do with their lives. And now once again we are coming full circle to wondering if a bunch of folks in judicial robes are going to be telling women what they should do, and more importantly what they should do with their bodies?

Oh yes, readers, I am going there. No matter what my personal choices are vis-à-vis my own body, I have never believed it was my place to tell another woman what she should do with hers. And I have always resented it when those in clerical robes and judicial robes have tried to tell us what it meant to be a woman. And I resent most of all the politicians who take this issue on on both sides and pander.

Feminism in the 60s and 70s gave women the power to be whom they felt they should be. We have in a sense, enjoyed that since then. But we’ve all gotten lackadaisical and somewhat complacent. And that’s men and women, and look where it’s gotten us in this country? Politically, we are a cesspool.

I also get tired of those who go around proselytizing in political campaigns and even within our own communities telling us what our families are supposed to look like, and what our family values according to them are supposed to be. They also want to tell us what our sexual preferences and gender identity are supposed to be, and there’s no room for anything else because it makes all of those people uncomfortable.

All of this behavior has extended itself into our schools, our libraries, our daily lives. The ultimate echo chamber is social media and certain social media groups. And what they don’t understand is they are free to have their opinions but rights are not subjective and they don’t get to foist their opinions on us and tell us that is what we are supposed to do.

All of these people want to tell you that their First Amendment rights are of more value than ours. They also want to tell you how the life during the last political administration and president was so wonderful, and today is a mess. I am wondering if they will ever be able to pull their heads out of their collective asses and realize everything they are bemoaning as a mess today is a result of what we went through with the last administration? Do I think that the current administration is doing a particularly fabulous job? To be honest no not all of the time, but then you look at realistically what they were left to deal with. Also politics has gotten ridiculously reactive and over-reactive. Being a moderate is like a four letter word.

Then you look at what we are dealing with today. You have the people who are saying that they are so against socialism and totalitarianism and they are true conservatives yet they don’t know the basics of the United States Constitution, our history as a country, and what it is to be a true conservative. Truthfully, a lot of those people don’t even realize that they are closer to socialism, communism, and totalitarianism than anyone. Sometimes I wonder if what the U.S. is experiencing today is actually closer to what Great Britain saw in post WWII England? That was some truly ugly stuff for a while. And it seems to be here today.

What we are living today is what it’s like trying to exist in a country full of political extremism. And as women in this country, I think we are feeling that acutely. And I think as women we are looking at a horrible future for future generations of American women, if we all don’t speak up.

And we as women all need to stop thinking that there’s always something wrong with who we are because of how other people see us. I realized that again this weekend when a lot of high school reunions took place. Ladies, we are who we are, and just because the “it girls“ from back in the day still think they are “it girls” it doesn’t mean they are ….it just means perhaps they are stuck in a time warp. Interestingly enough, most of them still do not know how to behave, which is something I find very amusing personally.

When it comes to women there will always be strivers. There are strivers in the personal sense of those who have amazing career goals and attain them. Then there are the strivers who are perhaps not as appealing. Like social strivers.

The social strivers are often the women who are trying to run as fast as possible from what they’re from. Instead of embracing what they’re from, they only wish to project essentially a fake persona and are often label conscious, trendy Wendy types.

Where women always will fall short in this world is not embracing that part of who you are based on what you’re from. And maybe what you’re from isn’t what you feel is socially acceptable, but it’s stupid to try to deny it because everybody knows it anyway.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t color her hair, doesn’t have plastic surgery, and doesn’t get Botox and other fillers every few weeks from not even their dermatologist half of the time, but a spa or salon somewhere.

Women as a species will always be competitive on some level with other women. It’s human nature. But the thing is it’s how you use that competitive nature, and ironically some of the most hyper competitive women I’ve ever met in my entire life I’ve also been among the most insecure.

I’m not saying we’re supposed to all stop shaving our legs and armpits and we’re supposed to sing Kumbaya around the campfire, what I’m saying is maybe as part of the brand of the new feminism we need to actually be real.

So what is the new feminism? I’m still not really sure. But I do think part of it is being able to speak our peace. And I think part of being real is actually acknowledging you don’t want to lift up every woman. Because sometimes there are just some women who piss you off, or irritate you, or you question their inherent value as human beings and just do not like. And that’s OK as a woman to actually say that out loud. You can be your authentic self without worrying about having to be perfect every five minutes.

Obviously I don’t have the answers, and these are just some of my rambling thoughts. I’m sure not everyone will like what I have written today, but these are things I’m thinking about.

Thanks for stopping by.

time passages

My husband loves Al Stewart’s music. I have always liked it as well. So every once on Spotify, I turn on some Al Stewart. One of his songs is running in a loop through my brain. Has been since I received some news that kind of upended me yesterday and today. The song is Time Passages. So that is why the video is in this post. Another song too has been in that loop. Supertramp’s Lord Is It Mine. Both my husband and I also love Supertramp. Also added a favorite Genesis song and a Steve Winwood too. Might as well do the full music I liked then and today. Music helps.

But…..Damn my age is showing. The music is all from “back in the [proverbial] day”. And this really has nothing to do with what I have been trying to write since this morning. It’s like if I write it out, it becomes more real. Music cushions the thoughts.

I have been sitting in front of my computer screen. I know what I want to say, but have been somewhat stuck in my own head since last evening when I received completely unexpected news.

One of my favorite people, a friend who feels like he’s been around literally since almost forever has died. Forever meaning I think we met circa 1976 or so. I know this is something I have to write about because it just needs to leave my brain. The memories need to settle and go back to happy, not swirl in my brain like an unhappy tornado.

Yes, a lot of tears have been quietly shed today.

He was hit by a car while walking. Just a freak accident a fluke. He wasn’t sick, he loved his life, was in the prime of his life, nice career, nice man. The kind of person you want in your life until we are really old and gray, only that won’t happen now.

Somewhere in a trunk I have photos from when we were teenagers and older. So many memories. Damn it David, I am not grown up enough for this.

I will start with one a friend reminded me of last night. Sitting in the middle of my parents’ driveway and David shouting “To the airport and hop on it!” when a VW rabbit went by. And that day multiple VW rabbits drove down our then quiet road. It was a hot car then. We laughed and laughed.

Another memory sitting in my parents’ library with him and three or four other friends. Don’t know why. It may have been after JDA (Junior Dancing Assemblies.)

Ahh what were the Junior Dancing Assemblies (“JDA”)? They were formal by invitation dances. The Senior Dancing Assemblies (‘SDA”) followed. They were held at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station. Every time it was my father’s turn to drive us kids, he got lost. I still get lost going there.

Girls in long dresses or long formal tartan skirts and an appropriate top. Note that appropriate those days was NOT short skirts or skimpy tops or even spaghetti straps or strapless. Somewhere I have the original invitation that had the dress code. It was a tradition starting to wane by the time we went. Sometimes it was a bad cover band, other times a D.J.

A few years ago, David and I had some serious giggles over JDA and SDA and that Gold Lamé dragon Mrs. Farber. She was the one who ran the dances. Seriously, she seemed to have an endless supply of Gold Lamé dresses that had these almost bullet bra tops and didn’t move anymore than her Aqua Net cemented hair do. She was terrifying. She dragged me into the service kitchen at Merion Tribute one night and called my mother on the kitchen phone to report that I wouldn’t dance with someone she picked out for me to dance with. Fortunately, David and another friend rescued me. I remember coming home that night and my mother wondering why THAT woman called her. And of course a resounding chorus of “Don’t do that again, you were lucky to be invited.”

We would camp out during JDA and SDA intermissions or breaks and hangout on the window seats at Merion Tribute House and the other seating areas and shove stale pretzels down the heater grates as we drank our slightly warm and slightly flat Coca Colas out of Dixie Cups. During those intermissions we would think up grand schemes never executed to torture Mrs. Farber. Mostly we wondered how her bras were so pointy, how big was that closet of Gold Lamé dresses, and what was actually in her hair.

And then there were our mischief night escapades. One year we took apart a split rail fence and created an obstacle course on the road. We almost got caught that year as we also toilet papered several trees. Another year someone (David) magically re-painted the tops of someone’s wrought iron fence from gaudy gold to black I think it was.

Another thing we did once in a while? Roaming around the back of the estate known as Dolobran in Haverford. Why? So we could peek in the windows of the ballroom. It was so cool. At that point I believe there was just one tiny old lady living there. That was back when said little old lady gave me a $20 bill for Halloween one year back then. I had dressed my dog up as a cat to go trick or treating.

During the high school years we all went to different schools. So there were parties at Kip’s house or Adam’s house. Then there were the Philadelphia Charity Ball Years. David rescued me a couple of times when I did not have a date and my mother said I could not go with “just friends.” So he really wasn’t my escort, but covered for me and another friend so we could go.

Eventually we all went our separate ways and wouldn’t see each other as often. While I stayed pretty much in the Philadelphia area, David and other friends were spread out all over the east coast, out west, down south. So then there was Christmas.

Christmas Eve for decades meant one Christmas party in particular for many of us in Gladwyne. So I always saw David and his family there. When we were younger, we would be with the kids downstairs in a big rec room for the most part. As we got older we migrated upstairs and would take over the hosts’ study.

Then at some point, we all stopped going. In recent years, David and I would connect by phone, email, and like so many others Facebook. We would occasionally see each other when he was up from Florida to see family still in the area.

David did things liked sent me little gifts sometimes for no reason. A couple of years ago it was a set of whimsical kitchen towels he thought I would like.

The last time we connected was his birthday….barely a month ago.

Hopping around: I remember when his mother died. April, 1978. Not too long from now is the anniversary. I remember when he called me. She was the first parent of someone I knew who passed away. His dad remarried a few years later, and his father and stepmother and siblings and family and friends all survive him. His stepmother is truly lovely. And I remember that was not easy coming into the world of three boys of various ages who had lost their mother.

My head is calmer now as I have written down some of these memories and allowed the memories of laughter wash over me. Today has been full of phone calls from some of our old friends, which is comforting for all of us. It gives us a chance to quietly remember someone who was just a wonderful person, one of our life long friends.

Telling my mother was no fun. She always adored David. My past is her past here. And his stepmother and father are still alive and such nice people. She said to me no parent wants to outlive their children.

Now David wasn’t someone who would want us to be endlessly sad. So I am celebrating him right now with a post traveling down a meandering multi-decade memory lane. The meandering includes music. What I have shared plus a favorite playlist from Spotify.

David gave his friends a precious gift one last time. And that gift is allowing some of us to reconnect. We will honor that gift and remember him. (Umm he also gave me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe and THAT is priceless.)

David, we will all miss you, and when I have my next glass of Rosé, I will lift a glass in your honor. Thanks for the memories, but it just wasn’t time enough.

The older I get, the more I realize loss is not for sissies.

Goodbye, old friend.

and just like that…even our t.v. characters age…and all of our lives change as we age and that’s o.k.

This morning I had a giggle. Sex & The City started on HBO in June, 1998. Cable was ridiculously expensive and I remember hunting the various COMCAST “special deals” just so I could have HBO. Nope, no Manolo budget here. I was single, watching the ultimate single girl television show.

Ok yes, I have talked about this show before, but come on? The original was a big part of all of our lives. Kind of like Star Trek for some of the guys I know.

I loved the cast, part of which was New York City. The clothes and the shoes I could never afford unless they were dumped at Loehmann’s or Daffy’s or Century21. And I could never walk in the shoes. The shoes I left and still leave to my sister (and her fabulous shoe closet/racks.)

This morning I had a giggle because I realized that way back when I used to watch Sex & The City in bed like my big single girl not so secret, sometimes with a glass of wine. Now I watch And Just Like That on Thursday mornings in bed with a cup of coffee.

Yup the 50s. Struck me as so funny. I don’t know why. Well maybe because I watch the new show drinking my coffee and then I go and clean up the rest of the kitchen and sort the laundry. Back then, in the Sex & The City Days, yes I did laundry and cleaned up the kitchen. Just didn’t admit it out loud.

So now I am a few episodes into the new show. I like it. It’s getting a lot of flak like the actresses were supposed to have been cryovaced and opened as their 1990s selves once again. Well gee, that would be a neat trick. They have aged, pretty damn well if you ask me and you can see a little “work” but at least they don’t have frozen face syndrome. I have seen a lot less of that frozen face syndrome since COVID started, but still, it’s out there.

Probably I am an anomaly. I don’t do fillers or injectables. No plastic surgery, still on my original body parts. If liposuction didn’t look incredibly painful, maybe that would be an option (I am actually joking) but I think I will just try to exercise more and eat less? I am not a perfect 10 now, wasn’t back then. After breast cancer surgery, people kept telling me about their favorite plastic surgeons. Well once you have had a couple non-elective surgeries that kind of hurt and if you hate needles, that is not really an option. Besides, ask your radiology technician sometime what they have to do to get a mammogram on ladies with glorious fake breasts. One word: contortion. Two words: no thanks.

Things about the show that still crack me up is they all still breathe the rarified air. They are mixing in more everyday kind of available clothes, but still the wardrobes and where they live. Pretty fun and fantastical. But those are ladies in menopause and I envy them their lack of hot flashes. Or they could just be like my mother was back then and simply not acknowledge their existence.

The conversations have shifted some with them. The hair coloring vs. not coloring crack me up. Oh I have had those because once I started breast cancer treatment I stopped experimenting with color. It was never much to begin with, just the occasional semi permanent color job. Now a decade plus later, my hair still has a lot of my original dark. I will admit some days I freak myself out because when I look in the mirror I see my paternal grandmother Beatrice, but for me I made the right choice. And my hair actually looks and feels better.

I am aging. I will admit to taking collagen supplements, but with age comes dry skin. But when I look in the mirror, except for the occasional glimpse of Beatrice and wondering how almost 60 years of life seem gone in a blink, it’s ok.

Now these television characters and the actors which portray them have all aged. I kind of like that they have aged right along with me. I think I would have been upset if the re-boot occurred with a new young cast.

I often wonder what women think as they age. We all know quite a few who aren’t doing it quite gracefully. The still too short skirts, tight pants, and short shorts. Overly carefully lit selfies and professionally taken social media photos. Some of these ladies have amazing figures, others do not. It’s just about aging gracefully, perhaps with humor. I mean we do have options other than mom jeans, right? I will admit to missing my leather and sued pants, however, and being able to wear strapless gowns.

Back then when the original show aired, I was wondering what this current part of my life would be like. I had a bunch of friends who married young, and I couldn’t see myself in their lives then. I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t about sowing the proverbial wild oats, never did so much of that, it was just about growing into myself I think. I wasn’t there yet. (However, I will tell you that back then, I still did cook, go antique and vintage treasure hunting, and garden.)

One of the best things for women about these shows is showing the relationships between the women and their partners, and the dating then and now. I was never much of a dater although I did it. I always found recreational dating much like the job interviews for the jobs I didn’t want.

But the characters the women’s characters dated in the original series? Cracked me up. I could see them in so many people my friends had dated and even I dated. Like Mr. Big. We all had one of those, I think. But we didn’t marry them, so it’s kind of no wonder they made her a widow. But I do know some young widows, so on the other hand I actually get that (and wish it on no one.)

And the Samanthas. We all had them, even if their clothes weren’t as good. But they grew up too, and not all friendships transcend the test of time. So no matter why that character is gone, I get it. I have a lot of my core friends, but I am exceptionally lucky. Some of the other friendships didn’t make it but it kind of falls into that saying about friendships being reason, season, or lifetime.

Truthfully I am glad to be me now, and that I am not dating in my 50s. I am grateful for my life and marriage. I know who I am, I know who he is. We aren’t ever perfect, but I know what it is to love and be loved, and there comes a point where that is just right and very lovely. Now granted, I know I am a very lucky woman, and I never take that for granted (or try not to.) However, I will completely admit it’s a little annoying that he can still imitate my high school self walking down the halls at Shipley carrying my book bag. So no, I do not get away with much, ladies.

Another thing I admire about the new series are the people they have around them. It’s not just bars and cosmopolitans. It’s the bitchy women’s committees and PTA savages. It’s the reinventing yourself when you thought you were all set, including sometimes starting over.

We can all relate. After all, I still remember the first time I did a car rider line, didn’t know where to go, and got in the wrong part of the line. I was literally surrounded by mini vans and had moms and dads who got out of their vehicles to SCREAM at me. Oh and the teachers and school personnel watched from the sidelines like it was a spectator sport.

And then there were the moms who wanted their high school kids to slow dance at their dances like “the holy spirit was in between them.” Had to bite my tongue with that one because did they actually know what their teenagers were up to and it certainly didn’t involve the holy spirit. But hey, whatever gets you through the day.

And now today add to the average and annoying PTA moms we have the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, conservative beacons of light who will save all of us from ourselves while searching for that perfect hair color shade. The new Stepford Wives.

And then you have the not Stepford Wives who are just amusing. Self-described social media experts because they have a few Facebook group pages. And they still copy their material from everyone else and don’t have an original bone in their bodies. And they still want you to think certain communities adjacent to the Main Line are the Main Line, and why? Is the Main Line all that and a bag of chips? No sadly, and hasn’t been in years, just like there is no real “society” left to photograph.

Thanks but no, I will take me, lumps and all. It’s ok to age. We have much better shoes to choose from these days, and you only have to have a rocking chair on your front porch if you want one.

Thanks for stopping by.

honey, it’s called survival

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SLATE: In the Name of Love
Elites embrace the “do what you love” mantra. But it devalues work and hurts workers.
By MIYA TOKUMITSU

“Do what you love. Love what you do.”

The command is framed and perched in a living room that can only be described as “well-curated.” A picture of this room appeared first on a popular design blog and has been pinned, tumbl’d, and liked thousands of times. Though it introduces exhortations to labor into a space of leisure, the “do what you love” living room is the place all those pinners and likers long to be.

There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? And who is the audience for this dictum?

Yes, this is an old article.  But it struck a chord with me. The author turned it into a book or vice versa. (Not really sure.)

A friend posted this on their Facebook page and it is an intriguing read. Even if I do not necessarily agree with a lot of commentary. I spent years doing what I did NOT love at that point any longer mainly because I was afraid to take a gamble on myself, and I had bills to pay.  Breast cancer freed me from that because I had to leave my old industry literally to reduce my stress or fear recurrence. (It was one of those times where your medical care team does an intervention, and like it or not, you have to or should listen.)

When the author of the article says things like the quote below it’s like she is mocking those of us who left the corporate hamster wheel.

“DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient.”

Doing my own thing is not elitist, well, it’s survival. I am 55. Corporate America does NOT like to hire women over 50. Or even in their mid-40s.  We are too expensive when it comes to things like healthcare and we are old enough to mostly know our own minds.  Knowing your own mine is a threat.  It’s far easier for them to hire women half of our age who can still sport short skirts without looking too old to sport short skirts.  And if they have a choice between hiring a woman my age who doesn’t color her hair and who hasn’t had “work done” and one who has? Botox and hair coloring win every time.

Ageism is a real thing.  It was a very strange sensation realizing I was no longer one of the younger ones in the room.  And since I stopped coloring my hair, I look in the mirror and I see relatives who came before me.  I loved every one of them, but I am still not sure how I feel about it some days.

Some days I wonder should I have had “work done” even a little filler like a lot of women I know? And every time I have this conversation with myself, it ends the same way: I am who I am, I can’t pretend to be someone else.

On some days I am fine with my age and who I am.  Other days it’s like where did my 25 year old ass and legs go?

Yet, the reality is me at 55 is a heck of a lot happier than me in my 20s.

Being in your 20s is exhausting.  The games with dating and learning to be yourself.  The games with who were actually your friends, and the hurt of the ones who betray you and you should have let go of long before that.  Or being in your 20s and to have a boyfriend cheat on you and they don’t understand why you couldn’t just move past it and not walk? And neither do some of your friends?

The twenties and even your thirties was the whole additional journey of trying to find yourself as a woman and trying to learn how to be an adult.  Some days were better than others, remember? Remember the days you wanted to scream into an empty room?

Working in your 20s, or what I remember in the financial services industry (and friends who were in different industries had similar tales) meant learning to keep your back to the wall when some older male colleagues around and I even remember one temp job I had where my first day two women warned me not to get caught in the room where the copy machines were with one guy in particular.

Damn we all could have had our workplace #MeToo moments and a lot of us did to varying degrees. But we didn’t talk or tweet about it, we just survived.  Because we had to.

I had a lot of friends get married in their 20s.  In a lot of cases I should say the first time.  As I attended wedding after wedding sometimes I just didn’t get how you could go from being dependent upon your parents to being dependent upon a spouse without any chance to grow in between and learn who you were.

A lot of my friends were just on autopilot to marry and produce children.  We were partially all raised to be that way.  Maybe that sounds elitist, I don’t know. It is just the way it was.

I was a late bloomer so I did not marry until much later and I think the timing was right for me. I spent a lot of time feeling like I did not quite fit and didn’t quite know myself.  But it took years to even admit to myself that I liked spending time by myself.  I was at the end of an engagement where I had the epiphany that if I did end up just with myself I would be o.k.  That realization was very freeing and I think it was a key to opening me up to the woman I am today. Or who I might become.  Some days I still wonder am I there yet?

Career-wise I had a path that wasn’t necessarily the path I would have chosen initially but I liked it and it paid the bills.  Was it fulfilling? Nope. But it sure was eye-opening as to human nature.

Then came breast cancer.  I could no longer handle the stress, the hours, the mental gymnastics of cut throat and duplicitous people.  Being a woman in my old industry was exhausting on a good day, but after breast cancer surgery and treatment? I just couldn’t do it any longer.  And it had ceased being rewarding long ago.  And it’s an industry that still treats women like crap and always will.  And I would never be hard enough.

So breast cancer gave me the courage to look at things differently.  It was hard. It still can be hard.  People ask me why some days I do so much? The answer is I was in my old industry for so long, I forgot how to relax.  You were geared to getting so much done in one day. You had to.  You were subject to everyone else’s deadlines.

Doing more of what I love and being able to love what I do? It became about survival and starting to experience ageism.  And when ageism smacks you in the face, it’s a real bitch. So when people say do what you love (DWYL) is somehow elitist, well sometimes it is the path that opened for you. I wasn’t ready to be a greeter at Target or WalMart, sorry.

So I took a risk. I took a chance on complete change. It’s just as hard some days as putting up with crap as a tiny cog in the wheel of Corporate America, trust me.  Nothing is perfect, and those who pretend it is are doing themselves a disservice.

Let’s talk about other things in realm of ageism as a woman in the workforce.  I learned this in my 40s when I became a statistic in the layoffs done at Wachovia Securities before Wells Fargo came in.  Corporate jets were not expendable, but worker bees like me were.  Do you know how surreal it was having an HR folder full of accolades and customer testimonials as to how GOOD a job I did, and being fêted nationally by the company as a “volunteer of the year” for my volunteerism in my community to being a corporate pre-merger layoff statistic?  Seriously, the day I got my package they gave me a chart showing where everyone was getting cut in my region and whether they were male or female.

After being forced as part of a giant corporate separation package to take a time out (in case they decide to UN-lay me off and bring me back), I came back out into the workforce late 2007 to early 2008.  A completely crap economy and here I was a woman in my 40s. Why hire me when they could hire someone so much younger? And then there was the interview where the interviewer literally asked why I did not remember him.  Apparently I had turned him down for a job like 15 plus years prior and he never got over it? (Yeah THAT wasn’t too weird, was it?) And then there were the job interviews that were like marathons. Literally hours in one day like a perverse corporate endurance test.

And in this brave new world of interviewing a lot of the interviews were not even face to face any longer. And even if you sent a thank you note for an interview like you are supposed to, sometimes they just didn’t bother to ever reply. Most of the time they never bothered to acknowledge you even submitted a resume.

When I finally did land a job which on paper sounded amazing, among other things I was working for someone who did not offer even access to healthcare benefits, proper vacation time, or a retirement plan.  But I needed to work, I had to support myself.  So I took it.

This is the job I should have left three months in, but instead I stayed about four years. I left post breast cancer.  I was exhausted.  Because I worked for a company that offered no benefits, sick days, vacation days and never had a policy on sick or vacation days per say, I pretty much had my breast cancer surgery and came right back to work.  I had to work through my post surgical treatment.  I felt like I was in a white collar sweat shop and damn didn’t my ancestors work themselves to the bone a immigrants to the US so future generations like myself didn’t have to?

But I did not have the courage or faith in myself to leave.  Until my husband looked at me one day after the doctors had done their intervention and told me I had to get out of the current job that the stress would kill me, and said “quit.”

I looked at him like I misheard him. So he repeated himself and said “Quit. It’s not worth the stress and something else will come along.”

So I did what I never had done, I quit. And a weight lifted off of my shoulders. But this was the job that left me with Corporate America PTSD.  Not only didn’t I want to get back on that hamster wheel, I couldn’t.

So I changed everything. I had to. Has it been easy doing only for myself? No not every day because some days I feel like I have adult onset A.D.D. and for love or money, I can’t concentrate. But it’s nice to feel like me again, or to maybe even finally know who I actually am.

Growing up the choices were career girl or get married.  Even after the day of bra burnings, female empowerment, and women’s lib that was still pretty much it.  Today, in a lot of ways, it still is. And I am so sure a lot of women will read this and be enraged. Stuff it ladies, I am not breaking new ground here.

One thing I agree with the magazine article writer on is if you kind of want to “have it all,”  you might need to have lots and lots of lovely money to begin with. If you are just a regular person, that mantra is a little harder to achieve.  But I do believe that you should try to love what you do, or at least like it.  Otherwise it’s not worth it and weighs you down.

Women wear many hats in life.  We walk many tightropes. But somehow, we get there, don’t we? It’s called survival.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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a good old flowing stream of female consciousness

schlitz-1952-dont-worry-darling-you-didnt-burn-the-beer-660x330There is this page on Facebook I follow called Her Voice Echoes.  In their own words:

Her Voice Echoes presents letters, editorials, articles and other documents written by and, sometimes, about women. A few voices will infuriate you. You may even find them abhorrent. Others will uplift and enlighten. Some will make you laugh, others cry. Hopefully, we’ll learn from all of them what it means to be human and the struggles that we share across centuries, social class, ethnicities and nationalities.

They post some great stuff and sometime things I roll my eyes at ever so slightly. Today, or last night probably, they posted something from Oprah.Com called The New Midlife Crisis. It’s about women, for women and Hallelujah we’re finally allowed by society to have a midlife crisis? Is that what it is?

I do have a problem with the article in the context that it seems directed at Gen X women.  So yo do only Gen X women feel these things? I am 54 and I can tell you this article resonates with me.  And not because my life is so terrible, it resonates because of what a decade ago almost my life could have been.

As the author of the piece Ada Calhoun starts to dig into her article she indroduces us to who the article is aimed at:

As I cooked dinner the other night, I thought about the women I had been talking to. They’re just entering, slogging through or just leaving their 40s. They belong to Generation X, born roughly during the baby bust, from 1965 to 1984, the Title IX babies who were the first women in their families to go to college. Or go away to college. Or to live on their own, launch a career, marry in their late 20s (or never) or choose to stay home with their children. They’re a Latina executive in California, a white stay-at-home mom in Virginia who grows her own organic vegetables, an African-American writer in Texas, an Indian-American corporate vice president who grew up in the suburbs of New York, and dozens more. They’re smart. They’re grateful for what they have. They’re also exhausted. Some of them are terrified. A few of them are wondering what the point is.

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html#ixzz5fLptxLg0

Oh Ms. Calhoun? Umm Gen X women are not the only ones experiencing this.

Someone I know turned to me recently and said she felt like she had no purpose.  This almost broke my heart because this is a person whom I find to always have purpose, someone who has very quietly done some very amazing things.

I said to her that I think purpose as in our life’s purpose can shift and change and is always multi-faceted.  I also said I think purpose can change as we change and age and life situations change.  What might have been our intended purpose in our 20s isn’t the same as when  we hit our 30s. Our 40s. Our 50s. (and so on)

I also think if we stop to breathe, and open our minds and hearts, purpose can indeed find us.

The author of the Oprah.com piece Ada Calhoun continues:

The complaints of well-educated, middle- and upper-middle class women are easy to dismiss as temporary, or not really a crisis, or #FirstWorldProblems. America, in the grand scheme of things, is still a rich, relatively safe country. (Syrian refugees do not have the luxury of waking up in the middle of the night worried about credit card bills.) Although many women are trying to make it on minimum-wage, split-shift jobs (and arguably don’t have so much a midlife crisis as an ongoing crisis), women overall are closing the wage gap. Men do more at home. We deal with less sexism than our mothers and grandmothers, and have far more opportunities. Insert your Reason Why We Don’t Deserve to Feel Lousy here.

Fine. Let’s agree that this particular slice of Generation X women shouldn’t feel bad. And yet, many do: Nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers describe themselves as stressed out. A 2009 analysis of General Social Survey data showed that women’s happiness “declined both absolutely and relative to men” from the early ’70s to the mid-2000s. More than one in five women are on antidepressants. An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious and overwhelmed. What we don’t talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against them feeling any other way…..Part of the reason we don’t know much about women’s midlife experience is that the focus has often been on men. For them, the “midlife crisis” (a term coined by psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques in a 1965 journal article) usually involves busting stuff up—marriages, mostly—but also careers, norms, reputations….Other research suggests that women’s happiness bottoms out around 40; men’s, around 50. (Maybe that’s another reason the female experience isn’t much discussed: By the time men start thinking about these issues, women seem unaffected, but only because they’ve already been through it.)

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html

More than one in five women in the US are on anti-depressants I personally think  in part is because doctors don’t want to doctor, it’s easier to satisfy big pharma and prescribe a pill.

Goddamnitall women don’t just want to be given a pill, sometimes they just want someone to talk to and to listen to them because trust me they do not always get it at home.  For the first part of my 40s I often felt a panic because at that time I was in a relationship with someone who preferred the sound of his own voice to anyone else’s. Fortunately for me, that is not what my life held for me and that person exited my life…in a blizzard (I loved snow that year.)

-1950s-usa-kissing-sexism-the-advertising-archivesBut if I think back on it and that relationship in particular, taking into consideration this Oprah.com article did I subconsciously stay in that relationship far longer than I should have because of some unexpressed and somewhat unknown fear at the time of being alone or not doing what was sort of expected of me? I am thinking that is true because it wasn’t until that relationship was over did I realize again that I did NOT have to panic, I could survive on my own, and I had value as a human being.  And at that point, I began to breathe again and rediscover who I was.

I am not a Gen Xer as I was born the year before they designate the appropriate time frame (1965 to 1984). I will tell you that my friends and I feel like we were of the last generations of women groomed to be more highly decorative than highly functional.  If we were highly functional it was either a happy accident or an act of rebellion.

85d6c911dea88d1fab9d4bea935b0f23--vintage-food-vintage-adsNice Main Line girls were groomed at home, at school, at dancing class.  When I was at Shipley there was still afternoon tea. It was served in part by alumnae.  My late mother-in-law would even put in an appearance. Only she is someone who had I been given the opportunity I would have paid more attention to because she was independent and a maverick of sorts. I can still tell you what it was like when I watched her come into Shipley for trustee meetings, but I never actually met her then or had a conversation with her.  She carried herself like a cross between a dancer and a queen.

After Shipley, we girls were invited (or not invited but in those days people could not just dictate and shove their way in) to dance in the Cotillion of the Charity Ball.  Or if your parents had the money and the pedigree you could be a full-fledged debutante. If you had a proper Mayflower or Early American pedigree you also/or did The Assemblies.  As I had neither in my family tree, I was never sure which it was, only that until recently if you weren’t part of a select family you couldn’t attend even as a guest.

My two standout memories from the 1981 Charity Ball? My enforced blind date my mother chose photographed on a bench in the Bellevue reading the program book appearing in the 1982 Charity Ball Program with some sarcastic comment underneath it….and boy was my mother furious. The second memory is being ready to go out with my cotillion partner and praying Bobby Scott wouldn’t murder my last name. Seriously.

So we as girls/young women went to college, some on to graduate school, medical school and so on and so forth.  But the message was always confusing: were we supposed to be independent and strong women or bits of fluff that looked good at dinner parties? Or both?

Ada Calhoun further noted in her Oprah.com article the following:

Women our age sometimes romanticize the freedom we used to have as kids in the ’70s or ’80s, but sociologist Linda Waite, PhD, director of NORC at the University of Chicago’s Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, has done extensive national surveys of middle-aged people, and she says Gen X was at a disadvantage from the start. Our parents’ choices often led to instability at home. Four in 10 Gen X children were likely to have divorced parents (the divorce rate, which peaked in 1980, recently hit a 36-year low). The effect was both financial (when your father leaves, it’s much less likely he’ll pay for college) and psychological.

“If your parents are divorced,” Waite says, “you see the world in a fundamentally different way. You see the world as unstable. That left people cautious.”

If our childhood in the late ’70s and early ’80s was a time of massive changes—the first generation of latchkey kids, high crime rates in the headlines, missing children’s pictures on milk cartons, the AIDS epidemic beginning—our transition to adulthood was equally rocky. Many of us started our job hunts in the early ’90s recession, which was followed by a “jobless recovery.” If you were born later into Generation X, you might have entered the workforce around the 1999-ish stock market peak, but the tech bubble started to burst, landing us in the 2001 recession.

I did not have divorced parents, but sometimes I question where emphasis was placed.  I often felt out-of-place and unheard.  I was supposed to do what I was told. Period.  I will note that this is something my husband has felt on occasion marred my abilities as a step-parent because of what I learned by living through.

offending_deodorant2-e13893829729241In my house growing up there was very heavy emphasis on how you looked and how you behaved.  Ok fine, no one wants to be godless and immoral but what does this do to self-body image and self-worth? In the junior high school and high school years I could prance with the best of them, but it was often just a survival charade so weakness wasn’t smelled in the air by the mean girls.  To be honest self-worth was an epiphany when I was going to turn 50 and self-body image? I still struggle with it thanks to breast cancer.

Ada Calhoun talks about women our age  (ok I will just say “our” since I was only born a year before her age range) possessing a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money (almost a direct quote from the article) and I can’t disagree. And she points out that experts say social security may or will run out in 2040. Or when I am into my 70s. Lovely.  I pay my taxes, have paid into social security for years and in the end will the U.S. government just rip millions of us off? I do not think I will ever relax about money.  It’s a love hate relationship.  If you have ever worried about falling down a financial rabbit hole, you understand the fear rational or irrational.

When my parents were in their 30s and 40s they had a nice house and so on.  When I was in my 30s and 40s I was still struggling on occasion and shock and horrors, I was single.  I swear that is what was hardest on my mother, that I was not married.  I remember when my sister and brother-in-law threw my parents a fancy 40th anniversary party. I was told by my mother I could not attend without a DATE. Yes seriously. In the end I did indeed attend without a date and much to mommy’s chagrin I did not in fact turn into a pillar of salt or something.

But that whole single thing was stressful and depressing at times.  Not because I was upset particularly but because everyone else was.  Because I was single so long it was always funny to see things I was left out of. It’s like I was viewed as a freak or unnatural. Sometimes married couples viewed me as suspect. One time someone told me once they couldn’t include me at a dinner party because she didn’t want an odd number and she was sure I would understand.  No not really, that was kind of rude.

The article goes on to say that a lot of us feel stress and depression because we feel stalled in our careers.   I don’t quite see that for myself personally because when I survived breast cancer my doctors literally sat me down and told me I had to change my life, job, and reduce stress. That was when I left my former industry. Truthfully, it was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  It was scary because the unknown was/is  scary but it was incredibly freeing.

You could say I joined the gig economy after a fashion. A gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.  Otherwise known as freelance.  Sometimes it is frustrating, but it’s not so scary and it is doable. Sometimes you just have to hustle.

What was also freeing? Finding the relationship I had always wanted slightly later in life.  Knowing more of who I was and who my partner was made all of the difference.  We came together because we wanted to be together, not because it was expected to be so. My husband is an amazing man, and yes I feel blessed every day that he loves me and I love him.

That love and understanding for me has been all the difference.  I won’t say I still don’t have my occasional midlife panic moments but I am more grounded now I think and actually supported. When you feel supported as a human being, the panic of crisis points will subside.  You are not walking a tightrope without a net when you have someone you love and trust implicitly.

Slowly I am learning you are only as stuck as you allow yourself to be. I never truly knew that before.  When you run around in your head from thought to thought you do get stuck sometimes.

And from In Her Words a New York Times Column I subscribe to, I learned about this old column from 1931:

petty

Dean Douglass was certainly ahead of her time.  I also saw something else I took note of fly by on Facebook today also on Her Voice Echoes:

saw this

Also today and again from the New York Times In Her Own Words column? A snippet on early feminists from a larger article.

They refer to a letter written by one of my colonial favorites, Abigail Adams, to her husband John in March, 1776:

…I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. — I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.  Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend….

Doesn’t.That.Just. Blow. You. Away???

Where am I going with this post? Not sure at this point. It started as one thing, has segued to other things like a good old flowing stream of female consciousness. Sorry, not sorry I have a busy brain.  Sometimes it takes a while to turn it off.

The article on Oprah.com is huge and I think really interesting.  I will finish with one last quote from the article:

And I think of what my friend who grew up in Mexico once told me: “The 30s are the adolescence of your adulthood,” she said, “and when you reach 50, it’s a restart—empieza de nuevo—a second chance.”

Well dayummm. Like Miss Jean Brodie I am in my prime now I guess?

Thanks for rambling. Stay dry and warm this evening and Happy Valentine’s Day a couple of days early.

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are women really liberated?

lib1

I took this photo of the Woman’s Lib Barn in Malvern about five years ago (I think – it could be longer) from across the road. The colors have been played with courtesy of filters, so pardon the artistic license.

So. Are women really liberated?

Yes, I am serious. I was thinking about it last night and this morning.  And no, I am not and never have been a text-book definition of a “women’s libber”. Unless speaking my mind and being somewhat independent minded make me one?

As history likes to tell it, The Women’s Liberation Movement was a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism that emerged in the late 1960s. This movement was heavy into consciousness awakening and if you follow the historical timeline, grew out of civil rights.  The predecessor movement was the women’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century which enabled women by their hard work to obtain the right to vote. All of this had roots in a theory that social freedom was necessary for women to no longer be second class citizens.

And we were. But I have to ask if we are to an extent today or is it just a weird feeling because so much seems to be regressing right now?

Yesterday I wrote a post about politics and the mid-term elections which occur next week. The post centered around one writer’s article and another’s editorial. Interestingly enough, a lot of the greatest umbrage taken by my thoughts added to what others had written were from other women.

One woman said I was endorsing specific political platforms and vis-a-vis candidates because I suggested people read these pieces because I found them interesting. She went onto basically describe me as reprehensible for doing so.  I wasn’t telling anyone how to vote, I said it was an interesting read and what I was thinking about. They said specifically ““Well worth taking the time to read” is a political endorsement. Your message is not sharing information but suggesting endorsement of a political view that many in Chester County find reprehensible.”

The second woman came in via a rather strange comment and said : “You most likely have lost me as a follower. You sucked me in with Chester County Ramblings. I have enjoyed your writings over the past few years, until today. I want to hear about the history and happenings in the county that I adore. One thing I sure do not want to read are your political ramblings, pro, con, undecided or what you color you are wearing today. If this is route you plan to continue in your Chester County Ramblings, count me out. Ruined a good thing.” (I am guessing she missed the part where I write for myself and what interests me? Or that no one is compelled to read every little thing they stumble across?)

This is the stuff that blows my mind. The pretzel logic here is women are supposed to be free and liberated now for decades and allowed to express their opinions as long as their thoughts are sanitized with bubble water so everyone can float along on fluffy blue clouds?

So are women really free if other women feel the need to tear us down because we express our opinions and/or have an opinion they don’t care for?

This is some of what I was thinking about when I was in my garden working on my flower beds this morning.  It amazes me how quick women are to tear other women down.  That has always amazed me.  It’s so…well…high school.  If you do not conform to someone else’s comfortable notions you are bad.

Take an article which appeared in The Daily Local this summer about The Women’s Lib Barn:

….The Keegans plan on staying in the home they’ve loved for the past 50 years and have no plans on removing the unique message. They’ve had people ask about the barn, including a woman who recently asked for permission to make a painting of it, though they found it annoying when some bloggers posted stories on the barn without having all the facts.

“People today don’t understand it, they think all of a sudden it appeared. They don’t know it’s from the ‘70s,” Ronnie said.

“It isn’t women, it’s woman,” she stressed. “It’s my statement.”

I am guessing the lady is referring to this blog? What I have posted is what I have found elsewhere about their barn, including old articles but it got all lumped together seemingly at me? That baffles me.  Her barn is literally one of my favorites if not my favorite because it is quirky with its painted statement .

This barn was even part of my photography show at Christopher’s in Malvern a few years back in 2015. She sent me a note because one of my photos hung was of her barn. And to kind of criticize me for changing the meaning (in her mind) by cutting off the question mark at the end of her statement. (Well truthfully it wasn’t cut off, I did canvas prints and it was wrapped around the side.)

She invited me to come sit on her porch and she would tell me the story.  I emailed her back promptly to say I would love to hear about how the barn came to be the woman’s lib barn and that I would also love to give her the photo…and I never heard another thing.   I followed up again, and then just sort of thought “oh well” and went about my life. And then the reference to me (I presume) in the 2018 article someone I know wrote for the Daily Local. And then I again wondered if women were really liberated or just liberated enough to criticize other women?

Now when I ponder things like this, I do not extricate myself from the woman equation.  I can be as guilty as the next woman in the criticism of other women category.  But it does make me think again and again what are we liberated from exactly?

As time goes by and the seasons fold into one and other, I grow more at home here in Chester County and love the feeling of belonging.  I kind of love that I have shed my Main Line skin and enjoy the simplicity and beauty I have found.  I love my garden, my little house, my family.  The thing about Chester County which I have never felt anyplace else in my life is I can just be. Maybe it’s an age thing where I now realize I do not have to live up to everyone’s expectations, nor do I want to.

Yet occasionally I pause and ponder and marvel at the boxes women are still expected to be put into…even by other women. Like is the case with this blog and some of what I write.   If it’s my blog and I am the writer, aren’t I supposed to write about what I think about or enjoy or dislike? I am not a compensated blog, so I am not paid for my writing in this format of this blog.

I also wonder if my younger self was more of less free and liberated? Does this all vary with age and responsibility?

I accept that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s impossible to be that person because we are all different and it should be o.k. to be yourself not a mirror image of every other person around you.

Like many other women I find it irritating when people contact you just so you can tell your husband something for them.  Every time it happens I imagine myself as a 1950s housewife complete with apron and starched hair.

Or then there are the occasions when you are having work done inside our outside of your home. I have had those who preferred to speak only to my husband. Not because I couldn’t grasp the tasks at hand but because they wanted to deal with a man.

This summer I wrote a post “life in the land of women” – it seems this post has been a continuation of that so I will close with what I said then:

We can’t teach tolerance if we can’t be tolerant at least some of the time ourselves.

We can’t teach the value of individuality and independance if we constantly go after those the least bit different from us.

Are we really free if we are confined by the perceptions of others?

 

life in the land of women

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe that.

I have been really blessed in my lifetime friends. Some of them go as far back as grade school. (Including teachers!)

I have people who have come into my life for various reasons, and over the last 20 or so years a lot of it has to do with community things I am involved in or have been involved in. Or other commonalities. Or even through mutual friends.

And then there are the people who come into your life for a season. Those of the ones that can be the tough and bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t pretend to be perfect but I am a decent person and a loyal friend. Until you hurt someone I care about whether it’s friends or family…. or even me. I have let people into my life who have talked a good game and then used me. I have had people in my life who were just in the end disappointing.

It has been incredibly hard to learn to just walk away from these types of people. But as I get older, I’m getting better at it. Slowly, I am learning it’s life, stuff happens. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Sadly, I have experienced some unexpected negativity that I am choosing to work through by writing it out.

I have written over the past few years since my move to Chester County that although living here in this amazing and beautiful county, it has not been without challenges. Moving to a completely new area after living in one area for literally decades is an adjustment. It has had parts that have been hard.

As an individual when you have lived in one area forever, it’s sort of like Cheers. People recognize you on the street and in the grocery store. You’ve known all of your neighbors for years. When you go somewhere completely new, while a whole new adventure, it’s also when you realize things you may have taken for granted. Like the pleasant simplicity of seeing people you know in the grocery store.

When I first moved here I experienced old friend/neighbor drop off. It was like I had moved to Iowa, not Chester County. Some of them just stopped talking to me. Not because of an argument or disagreement, but merely for the fact that I was no longer geographically convenient.

One of the people who did this used to live around the corner from me and I was in her wedding party. That was very hurtful losss and took a couple of years to process because I was literally grieving a loss.

Other people made it easier. We invited them to get togethers in our home, and they just blew them off. No RSVP, just radio silence. Flat out rudeness. They made it easy to walk away.

But slowly I started to meet new people here in Chester County. That has not been without missteps as well, sadly. I kind of took it for granted that it would be easy. I didn’t honestly expect that it wouldn’t be as easy at this stage in my life as it was when I was say, in my 20s.

Over the past few years I have made the acquaintance and friendship of some truly amazing people. I have also met a few that have ended up not so amazing.

I have made the acquaintance of people running for public office that were all smiles towards me and friendly until they got elected. After they got elected, it is often a differentr story. One in particular told me that she couldn’t possibly be real friends with me because I was…. a blogger. I write, therefore I am walking poison ivy was the take away here.

Then there were the people I was warned about by other Chester County friends that there were these types who collected new people in order to use them, basically. I only really fell into this trap once and it was a lesson learned. Because sometimes with people like this when you don’t give them what they want, they can be quite unpleasant. But again their whole attitude, and treatment of fellow human beings makes it easy to walk away. However, it’s still disappointing.

Sprinkled in between were a few people I knew from before, but came to know again out here. Sadly, they weren’t keepers. Sometimes people whom you knew at a different stage in your life who were a lot of fun “back in the day”, but at this stage in my life were not completely palatable. So I chose to let them go. Not easy, yet not hard, and the right decision.

Recently I had another experience I shall not soon forget. Someone I met, thought was so fabulous and bright. I even had them as a guest in my home. Sadly, twists and turns in this person’s life have also resulted in my perceiving this person quite differently. Surprisingly they have ended up in the sad category of an adult petty mean girl. This one shocked me, truthfully.

It is a real grown-up lesson when you realize that although you know realistically that people come in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime that sometimes you end up quite surprised as to which people end up in which category.

Also recently I have experienced some rather odd types taking me to task over my blogging. Again, women.

One woman declared she was no longer following my blog because of my purported agenda of “liberal propaganda.” I am not sure she actually knows what that phrase means and it’s ludicrous. Those who know me well, know I am not necessarily liberal. My politics have actually evolved from being a life long Republican to becoming an Independent. I am beholden to no political parties. I blog about what interests me, and it doesn’t make me necessarily an internet vacation.

Am I supposed to be an internet vacation?

Another woman declared me a bad person because (if I have it right) I have a nerve to post news items, local issues and so forth while including my opinion. Ok do they know what a blog is? Or what blogging is?

A blog is defined as a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites. So yes a blog is something that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer/blogger.

That makes this first and foremost, my space. My blog has a Facebook page. That has similar rules.

Other things I think about?

I am not some bra burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. What I find astounding at this stage of my life is how awful a lot of women are to one and other. On a regular basis.

Where is the sisterhood? Where is the mutual support? Where is the basic human decency and tolerance of the difference of others?

Ladies we don’t want to be Stepford Wives….or do we?

But I choose to remain open. I appreciate all of you who accept me for who I am.

And for those for whom it is a virtual experience, I appreciate that you are supportive of how I write and what I chose to explore.

As for those who don’t or can’t ? Or those who are either super judegemental or think it is your job to “school” me? Well the practical reality is I can only control me and my behavior. I can’t control you and I am not responsible for your personal happiness, am I?

It’s one of those sorry not sorry moments.

But ladies, really. We can’t teach our children and grandchildren to be kind and to not bully or be mean if we can’t do it ourselves.

We can’t teach tolerance if we can’t be tolerant at least some of the time ourselves.

We can’t teach the value of individuality and independance if we constantly go after those the least bit different from us.

Maybe our current adult society is in part a reaction to the political climate in which we live? I’m not really sure, as I don’t have all of the answers. But it’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Time for me to garden. Enjoy your Sunday.Thanks for stopping by.

thoughts on ash wednesday

8614157810_f24ca9eb63_oThis is a post that some may have a problem with.  But it is my opinion.

Today is Ash Wednesday.  I am Catholic.  It is a very holy day, the first full day of Lent.

The voices of many priests float through my head “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

When I was a child, I loved being Catholic.  We lived in Society Hill and we had two amazing churches right in my neighborhood.  Across the street was Old St. Mary’s and down a little bit on Willings Alley, our church where our family pew still sits, Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia’s oldest Catholic Church founded by Jesuits in in 1733.

I was baptized and received my First Holy Communion at Old St. Joe’s.  I received my catechism from Father Drain, one of the Jesuit priests at Old St. Joe’s.  He was a marvelous man.  I still remember the room in the rectory – full of stiff and formal Victorian furniture.

The Jesuits were my foundation as a Catholic.  A couple of weeks ago, some fellow Catholics on a Facebook thread said Jesuits weren’t even really Catholic.  I found that sad and offensive.

As an adult, I have had a love hate relationship at best with the Church and with being Catholic.  I have yet to join a church in Chester County, as a matter of fact.  Maybe that means my immortal soul is at peril, I do not know.

My love hate relationship lives in the pomposity and hypocrisy I see today in the Catholic Church.  Let’s start with the whole sexual predator priest issue.  They excommunicated a priest and put him back in the neighborhood where I used to live and he roamed free for years until he was arrested a second time and went to jail on a guilty plea as a sexual predator.  Until he was convicted, we the neighbors had to watch him because no one else was.

Then there was the Monsignor from a parish in Wayne I was introduced to at a viewing.  He berated me in front of people at a viewing for the fact that at the time I had said that I would be choosing NOT to be married in a Catholic church and that I found modern Pre Cana to just be about the money.  He was awful. Ironically, he was removed a few  years later as a pedophile priest.

I move out here, and one of the first Catholic things I am hit with are exceeding graphic pro-life signs along the property of a large Catholic church.  Horrible glaring and angry signs.  Who is the God they worship? Is he mine? I don’t recognize anger commingled with religion as healthy.

Recently, attending a funeral of a friend, I was actually in a church that finally did not feel alien to me. Philip and James in Exton.  I found out later it was also designed by a friend’s late father.  It was the first church in years that felt welcoming and warm when I walked in.  And their stained glass windows were beautiful.  As a Catholic struggling with the faith of my birth, it was a really positive experience.

15217657474_a8fb2ac33d_oThen came the recent issue of Villanova University and the larger than life crosses over Lancaster Avenue.  It is something I have never understood and right or wrong, I think the university president is wrong.  It’s not about his legacy, it’s not about a Catholic institution, it’s about the multi-faith world we live in. And a public road, a state highway.

I came home from East Whiteland’s Zoning meeting and flipped on Radnor Township’s commissioners’ meeting.  What I saw was Villanova’s attorney in full Napoleonic glory brow beating Radnor into submission. Ok it is his job, even if he is always unpleasant when he represents Villanova.  However….

I am Catholic, and if this was solely on Villanova’s campus NO ONE would care. But this footbridge is going to cross a public road that gets public funds, and to build this they will get some public funds, correct? This is NOT being anti-Catholic or a being a bigot it’s a question of a PUBLIC road. Not everyone in the world is Catholic, so how others feel about this bridge being overtly religious over a public highway should matter.

I challenge everyone to look at the  bridge over City Line Avenue St. Joe’s University bult. It manages to be there without throwing Catholicism in everyone’s face.  But then Saint Joe’s is a Jesuit Roman Catholic University and Jesuits aren’t really Catholic, right?

We live in a world of many faiths.  I think if the bridge design featured crosses on the piers in bas relief, it would be in better taste. It would represent the religious foundation of the school without non-Catholics feeling as if someone else’s religion was being shoved at them.

As a Catholic I have always felt it was wrong to foist the religion of my birth on anyone.  I know who I am, and strangely I retain my underlying faith, so how is it I am a bad Catholic because I agree with the critics of the bridge design? Look, we are not living in medieval Spain or France, we live in a country that is a melting pot of religions. We can maintain our own religious identity while being sensitive and considerate to the religions of others, right? Or we should be able to?

One of the critics of the bridge of crosses is a very close friend of mine.  She is a senior citizen and a grandmother.  She gives more to her community in a year via her generosity than most people give in a lifetime.  Her comment about the bridge was that perhaps a more ecumenical approach to the bridge was better in today’s world.  She also had the thought of why couldn’t the crosses be more subtle, carved into the stone piers instead of challenging everyone over a public road.

My friend feels the frightening aspects of attacks on certain religious groups quite keenly as her 17 year old granddaughter works after school at a Jewish community center and is being trained on how to evacuate children and adults in the event of threats like the recent bomb scares.  This is the world legacy we are foisting on our children.  It’s the whole hate begets hate.

Because my friend was interviewed by some media and expressed her opinion publicly, albeit very gently and politely, she has been demonized and vilified. Publicly, including in the media.  She has even had conservative radio show hosts want her to come on the air, and I know damn well it’s not because they want to fairly represent her right to her opinion. It’s because  they know she would be ratings gold if they put her on the air so people could phone in an essentially abuse her without accountability.

So she is now branded an anti-Catholic and a bigot and “she must have a bunch of pink crocheted hats.”  She and others of a similar opinion, which I guess must include me are being compared to perpetrators of hate crimes. Hate crimes, you know like those horrible people who destroyed gravestones at historic Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. Now these same critics are saying that even more people are anti-Catholic because not enough media attention and public attention was paid to a similar desecration of gravestones at Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Philadelphia. Doesn’t matter that no one can control the if it bleeds it leads philosophy of what is newsworthy to television station managers and newspaper publishers, right?

I am sorry but do these people HEAR themselves? People with a different opinion are anti-Catholic? Even if they are Catholic?  Jesuits aren’t really Catholic even thought the current Pope himself is a Jesuit? It’s like committing a hate crime to say maybe rethink all those crosses on a footbridge crossing a public road driven by people of many different religious beliefs?

Religious pretzel logic.

Yes…religious pretzel logic.  I am sorry but it is upsetting.  And it’s why people struggle with being Catholic, or with any other faith when people are pushed to slavish devotion with no room for individual thought.

I was not raised to be this type of Catholic.  Have I ever felt people went out of their way to make me feel bad for being a Catholic? Sure.  How many Ash Wednesdays did I go to Our Lady of Victory in Lower Manhattan for ashes to return to my trading desk where I worked to have way too many people tell me I had schmutz on my forehead? And that continued for over a decade in my old office in Conshohocken every Ash Wednesday when I went to St. Matthews at lunch for ashes.

I found it offensive but I said nothing.  It was not worth getting into it.  I knew who I was.

But today after the past couple of days, I once again question the faith of my birth.   I just do not understand how people who call themselves Catholic and Christian can spout what I feel to be such ugliness at the onset of one of the most holy seasons of the year?  Maybe this is just a by-product of the ugliness of the politics that swarms our country at present.  Whatever it is, it is sad.

Norman Rockwell had a painting truly appropriate for this post.  Here it is:

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