Because Chad just ordered a giant (three feet long) bright yellow fiberglass duck for Mulberry’s Home, and because we’re all reeling from a bitter election season that has descended so far into satire that a Missouri senate candidate’s poll numbers are surging due to an ad featuring him assembling an assault rifle blindfolded, I’m turning this week to lighter, more duck-oriented topics from July of 2015. I planned to write about the long-lost principle of representative government, and how the whole point of voting used to be selecting the candidates who you felt were best prepared to represent your interests and values. Then came PussyGate on the national front and ominous warnings from Those-Who-Won’t-Be-Named about ‘special interests’ taking over the PUSD on the local front, and it all started to seem as ridiculous as, well, a duck face.
I detested William Safire’s politics, yet his “On Language” column used to bring me great joy most Sunday mornings. Case in point: way back in 1998, he gave an insightful play-by-play on how a word we can’t seem to escape from this election season won the race to describe the opposite of ‘opacity.’ According to Safire, if things had gone differently, we might be complaining about Hilary Clinton’s ‘frankness’ or pointing to Donald Trump’s continued refusal to release his tax returns as part of his ‘verifiability’ problem. Other contenders back in the day? Openness. Scrutability. Diaphaneity. Pellucidity. Visibility.
If there are Piedmonters out there who plan to vote ‘no’ on Measure H1 on November 8th [full disclosure: I share a bed with a Measure H1 Co-Chair], I haven’t met them yet. But I’m guessing I know a few things about them nonetheless. (more…)
I realize that my occasional self-righteousness can make people angry. (Vaguely related side note — best line in Kelly Corrigan’s Nantucket Project closing remarks: “self righteousness feels good for a minute, like pee in your pants feels warm for a minute.”) For years I’ve known my driving can make the most mild-mannered citizens irate. And I’m well aware that my tendency to not quite shut drawers makes my husband furious. But I only recently learned that my punctuation might be ticking people off.
I’ve heard there are people in the world who are not Bruce Springsteen fans. I’ve even met some, for example my brother-in-law, who has spent most of his adult life in New Jersey of all places. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not even a super fan. I’ve only seen the Boss in concert three times and probably know fewer than half of his songs. But still, I’m writing this racked with anxiety hours before the first presidential debate, and the fact that the same world which produced the vile, repulsive Donald Trump could also produce a man of such beauty and truth is giving me tremendous comfort.
My daughter was at college for exactly five days and just a single Saturday night when the first campus-wide alert was sent about a late-night sexual assault. Coincidentally, I’m binge watching House of Cards and just reached the episode where Claire Underwood ‘outs’ her freshman year rapist during a live interview on national television. Not to mention the horrifying Brock Turner incident. Even realizing it’s most likely increased reporting rather than increased incidence, it does seem as if campus sexual assault is everywhere these days.
I spent most of last week on the Mass Pike, where I noticed something for the first time. It appears that every decent-sized patch of land adjacent to the freeway has been taken over by tidy little ‘farms’ of solar panels. Doesn’t that make you wonder why we don’t have those out here? Sure, we’ve got the windmills on the Altamont Pass you see on the way to various (absurdly early) tournaments in Manteca. But let’s be real. It’s barely even sunny in Massachusetts! So if they can make solar work, how come we don’t have panel farms all over the place out here?
Amid the avalanche of articles and blogs and well-meaning advice I’ve consumed about surviving my oldest child leaving for college, the most helpful was something Amanda Docter offered at a PPN meeting last spring. She said she’s come to think of her kids’ departures as the end of a really good book. A book she’s enjoyed immensely, one she had a hard time putting down while she was reading it, but one she can no longer deny she’s finished. By turning the last page and placing it in an honored spot on her very favorite bookshelf, she gets to choose a new, exciting book to read next.
I’ve officially entered The Week I’ve been dreading for months. Within a few days I’ll deposit both daughters and a significant part of my heart on two beautifully groomed campuses all the way across the country. I’m out-of-my-mind excited to see what comes next for each of them, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m also bruised by the raw sadness of them leaving.
There’s nothing like utter Olympic domination to throw shade on the prevailing idea (prevailing amongst opportunistic know-nothings, that is) that “(the US) is weak and ineffective” “our enemies are eating our lunch” and “nobody respects us.” Seriously, was there ever anything as powerfully demonstrative of the superiority of openness, meritocracy and diversity as the 2016 Olympic games?
Hands down my favorite fictional character of the summer was a grumpy Swede named Ove. Recently widowed and unwillingly ‘retired,’ Ove is furious about everything: computers, Audi drivers, consultants, people who don’t know how to repair bicycles, clowns. But most of all, he’s exasperated with the frivolity of a world where no one bothers to brew a proper cup of coffee at home.
While A Man Called Ove made me laugh out loud more times than I can count, I can’t get on board with Ove’s anti-café mindset. Besides the fact that it threatens our family’s livelihood, it goes against my deeply held belief in the life-affirming value of institutions that serve as ‘third places.’ It was that stubborn belief that led to the unlikely birth of Mulberry’s Market.