april fools’

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April Fools’ on me is it is so nice outside and I am still recovering from recent surgery. So I have been restoring a quilt and reading. I hate to say I am tired, but wow I am tired.

Reading is a delightful luxury. Novels, back issues of The New Yorker (which I apparently first picked up as a small child for the cartoons according to my parents), and a newspaper column I have read some of online from Maine I find fascinating because I think parts of it would make great skits for Saturday Night Live….or a series of New Yorker cartoons.

I have a bunch of friends who are a combination of native New Englanders and transplants. A few are in Maine. So the “Mainers” talk about a columnist in The Portland Daily Sun named Natalie Ladd. Not because her writing is so fabulous but because ( and I marvel at this) that she has apparently turned being a master kvetcher into a column. It’s like if Erma Bombeck was a whiner, and was kind of sort of humor-free.

Part of me marvels at that because in my Walter Mitty dreams a newspaper or magazine offers me a column some day because they love my writing style. It’s not that far-fetched because when I first began my transition out to Chester County, for a while I was writing online articles for The Philadelphia Inquirer’s now defunct online Neighbors blog. It was so fun and I loved it. I would pick my topics and pitch them. And of course my other dream is to have a one woman photography show in some super cool Chester County gallery.

So I think “maybe some day” and keep honing my crafts.

But I marvel at this Natalie Ladd. She has made herself a career of sorts via her column which seems to basically journal her midlife crisis meets empty nester. There she is in her “headshot” for the paper a woman of a certain age and definitely older than I. She has the worst glasses seen since Sally Jesse Rafael left television. And she is clutching a baby bottle in one hand and a mortar board in the other. You are almost embarrassed for her until you read a few of her columns and then it hits you: she’s the woman you avoid in the grocery store.

Because blogging is a personal writing journey, I hope I never morph into the woman who can’t deal with the empty nest (or anything else) like I see in these columns.

I could see being a columnist and writing a few columns about being an empty nester, but not making it as a variation on the theme of your personal aging and your main kvetch.

I asked some friends who are almost and total “empty nesters” what it is like. My one friend loves it until the dirty laundry mountain comes home to visit …..and she has quality time with piles of dirty clothes and not the kids. Another friend said it was hard at first but then you have to view it as an accomplishment because you have raised these amazing human beings who are your children to be fine individuals in their own right and this is the natural progression.

I never asked my mother how she felt. My parents just seemed to go about their lives and my sister and I developed our adult lives. I wonder how I will be when my stepson hits the road for college. I think that I know I will miss him because he is a very cool kid and I love him, but the reality is I want him to spread his wings and explore the world. It will be his time.

So this to me, after reading this woman’s columns (not all, because I just don’t have the stamina or interest) this stems from not necessarily just the proverbial empty nest, but the fact that she is not one with aging.

Maybe I look at life overly simplistically in some regards now. I look in the mirror and yes, basically a 50 year old woman stares back at me and some days I am literally thinking “when did 50 happen?”

But what am I supposed to do here? Act like a teenager, dress like a teenager, and avoid aging and be generally embarrassing ? But then I step back and well ….there will always be someone older than me, younger than me, poorer than me, richer than me, bigger house, smaller house, and so on. That is like the balance of life. So why not just be more accepting and move on?

Another friend and I were talking this morning about how we have stayed together as friends and love our lives, our homes, our families. Nothing is perfect, it doesn’t have to be. We are grateful for what we have and for each other. We were once part of a larger circle, and the circle has shrunk as other women we know have changed and spread out into different circles that fit their lives.

We have seen some morph into cliques of mean girls in rather strange places like church groups. Who knew Sunday school meant mean mommy time? I find that sad. People using the church lady cloak to just be bitchy is so 1960s and the era of drunken cocktail parties.

We also marvel at the ones who worked really hard to get their goals (for lack of a better description) and who are so malcontented that they still can’t be happy. Ever. We all have those moments, but what happened that these people let it drive the bus? Life isn’t a Real Housewife franchise even if we like to watch that sometimes on television.

And then there are the friends who are just lost. There is a sadness when we discuss them, because we miss the people they used to be.

Life and relationships are work. And maintenance and selflessness. Life and relationships are fabulous and messy and wonderful. And we age. Like it or not as someone in my house likes to remind me, we aren’t 18 anymore.

Good, because I don’t need to be 18 again. It was fun, but that teenage girl is not the me of today. Parts of her still live within me I suppose, but I kind of like where I am. I am happy and I am loved….and I have a big garden all my own that I can create and a house that is perfect for my family.

Does that sound simplistic ? Maybe it does or maybe through life experience and my aging I have learned what is important. Part of my life experience has been breast cancer. That is why I also write a breast cancer blog. But the odd thing about having breast cancer is in a lot of ways it has freed me. Maybe why I don’t fear turning 50 and beyond is because I know I could have also NOT been that lucky to attain 50.

In closing today I share New Yorker cartoons. One from their March 17th edition and one from their March 24th edition. Although the grown up in me reads the New Yorker for the fabulous articles and solid writing, the child I once was still loves the cartoons.

Thanks for stopping by today.

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political apathy.

There are some mornings you just think you should go back to be and start the day over.  This morning is one of those mornings. No Mitt Romney, today is not a good day for America.

Mitt Romney just picked his running mate.  Actually social media leaked it out a few hours ago, while mainstream media is hawking it as breaking news.

It’s not breaking news, it’s bad news.  Mitt Romney has chosen his running mate and he might as well have chosen Sarah Palin. He has chosen Congressman Paul Ryan. 

It is official, the politics of extremism will be running the elections in the U.S. this November.  Sign me one frustrated Republican.  Romney, like Obama, panders to small factions, pockets of extremism.  Like Obama, he does not speak to the average, nor majority of Americans.

The majority of Americans are in the middle, they try to belong to a political party and are trying to desperately believe in  anything and anyone, yet both political parties worship at the extreme sides of their respective parties, leaving little in reality for the Average American to grasp or hold onto.  Let alone believe in. Is the United States becoming a rudderless political ship steered by warring extremist political factions?

This choice by Romney makes me like a woman without a country. There is NO place in this election for voters in the middle of either party.  And Paul Ryan certainly won’t respect my right to choose as a woman.  And I am not saying what my choices are incidentally, only a Romney-Ryan ticket might as well have me proverbially speaking being barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. And silent.

Obama has done nothing for me, and truthfully what has Obama done for the majority of Americans?  The answer is nothing. He has been four long years of BTLA – big talk little action.  He’s good at talking, but while he is fiscally fine, can you say that for the majority of people in this country?  What is so fabulous about what he has done with healthcare? Has he reformed the actual healthcare companies? Look at bibles of wasted money like the largely uninterpreted Dodd-Frank Act?  Has there been sensible Wall Street  reform with rules people can actually follow?  Or has it merely given the Securities and Exchange Commission a bigger bully stick that comes complete with selective enforcement versus creating a better system through rule making that can actually work and not just grow their workforce?

Our country is an economic cesspool and the problems that existed four years ago, still exist today, only worse.  We might as well be in a depression.

Romney unfortunately is in that class of super rich who are out of touch with reality.  And his running mate is too extreme.  Ryan’s policies are too extreme and would punish everyone in this country except the infamous top 2%.

So where does that leave the rest of us?  We are not better off.   If anything, the Average American is more pissed off.

Romney’s Palin for Decision 2012 (Paul Ryan) may just hand the election back to Obama.  So I guess we had all better hope Obama can actually do something to benefit all not just select factions the next four years, hadn’t we?

I am so tired of the politics of extremism in this country, that I truly might not vote this November.  I have never said that, never done that.  I was going to volunteer at my new poll.  Why bother?

Sign me disgusted by American politics, and if Romney had chosen more wisely and chosen someone like Tim Pawlenty this might be a very different blog post.

But what do I know from American politics?  I am not of a religion that believes in magic underwear, after all.

The Wall Street Journal has some Ryan sound bytes:

WSJ: Paul Ryan Excerpts: ‘We Can Turn This Thing Around’

August 11, 2012, 8:42 AM

“I represent a part of America that includes inner cities, rural areas, suburbs and factory towns.”

Dude, you don’t represent me or my part of the country and the USA is pretty darn large.  Wisconsin is not representative of who I am as a Pennsylvanian.

REUTERS: Romney campaign confirms Paul Ryan as running mate

By Steve Holland

NORFOLK, Virginia |         Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:08am EDT

NORFOLK, Virginia (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, the Romney campaign confirmed on Saturday.

“Mitt’s choice for VP is Paul Ryan. Spread the word about America’s comeback team,” a Romney campaign mobile phone application said, confirming widespread reports he had selected the 42-year-old Wisconsin lawmaker who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee…..

Conservative leaders, increasingly anxious over the state of Romney’s campaign, had urged him to pass over reliable – but not particularly inspiring – figures such as Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and instead go for Ryan.

The Wisconsin congressman is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party, an anti-tax, limited-government movement that helped Republicans take over the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010.

But Ryan’s selection immediately draws attention to a budget plan he proposed as House budget chairman that would include controversial cuts in government health programs for the elderly and poor…..

By choosing Ryan, Romney effectively adopts the Ryan budget, which includes proposed cuts to Medicare, the healthcare program for the elderly, long considered to be politically taboo.

Ryan would set up a voucher-like system for the program to help beneficiaries buy private health insurance or give them access to the traditional fee-for-service plan.

Another controversial portion of Ryan’s budget is a plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid, the federally backed healthcare plan for the poor, by turning it into a block grant program for states.

Several Democrats have said that among the potential running mates for Romney, Ryan was the one they would most like to face because of his budget proposals.

And d’oh Romney just did his speech and goofed – he just asked people to welcome the next “President” of the United States and then had to correct himself.   Well every campaign needs a Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle. Ironically, Obama did the same thing when introducing Biden.

Also check out The New Yorker on this.

August  9, 2012
Posted by

As you may have noticed, I’ve largely avoided speculating about Mitt Romney’s  choice of a running mate. That’s partly because I don’t have any inside  information and partly because of something I learned back in 1988, when I was a  young whippersnapper covering the Presidential election for the Sunday  Times of London. At the Republican convention, in New Orleans,  Vice-President George H. W. Bush stunned almost everybody by picking Dan Quayle,  a young senator from Indiana, as his running mate.

After a string of gaffes on Quayle’s part, following questions being raised  about his résumé and lack of experience, the Bush campaign sent in the heavies  to shore him up: James Baker and Roger Ailes….Quayle was irrelevant….In 2008, Sarah Palin reprised the role of clueless running mate, providing the  press corps with even more entertainment than Quayle had done twenty years  earlier. But Palin, like Quayle, didn’t have much, if any, impact on the result.  By the middle of August, before John McCain announced his choice of Veep  candidate, Barack Obama was already holding a steady lead in the polls, which he never relinquished….

Now there’s another veepstakes, with speculation that an announcement of the  candidate’s name could come as early as today. Rather than trying to make  predictions, it may be more productive to assess what Romney’s choice might  mean…..But my hopes would be tempered by the memory of Quayle, Palin, and all the other  Veep candidates who garnered acres of newsprint and didn’t count for much on  Election Day. In fact, here’s a challenge: Can anybody think of a running mate  who made a substantial difference?

I am not a Tea Partier and I am not a Democrat.  There is no place for me in this election as a voter.  It also makes me wonder where there is a place for average Americans in American politics at all.  Paul Ryan is not a choice. He’s more political extremism.

The politics of extremism will ruin this country if we are not careful.