Category: Mulberry’s Moments

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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…)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.   

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There’s a saying in Boston that every lifelong Democrat gets one mulligan. Mine went to Bill Weld in 1990; I have friends already planning to use theirs on the miraculously bipartisan Charlie Baker’s reelection. In the hope that Republicans have the same concept, I’m expending a lot of emotional energy these days trying to convince the diehard GOP women in my family – swing state voters, all! – to use theirs for Hillary.

Truthfully, I can’t understand why every woman isn’t supporting her. How can we not? Granted, it’s easier for lefty liberals who already agree with Hillary’s policies to tap into the feel-good feminist frenzy her candidacy is generating. Sarah Palin or Carly Fiorina might be tougher for me. But here’s the thing: Sarah Palin or Carly Fiorina would never make it this far. The painful truth that the ‘sure, I want a woman, just not that woman’ camp won’t admit is that Hillary Clinton is not one of many options we’ll be presented with to elect a woman to the most powerful position in the world. For the foreseeable future, she’s the only option.

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I met Piedmonter Freda Zeitlow at a lovely event she organized last spring for a group of professional women. Over a delicious lunch, Freda gave a thought-provoking talk about happiness, specifically about the ‘U-curve’ theory of lifelong satisfaction.

The pattern, confirmed over the past decade in dozens of international studies, shows that most peoples’ happiness and life satisfaction over time follows a ‘U’ shaped curve. In childhood, people generally report being very happy, but happiness and contentment begin to fall in the teenage years. Happiness hits a low point somewhere in middle age, but begins to climb again in the last few decades of life. So a 65 year old might feel as happy as she was at 25, a 75 year old as joyful as a teenager. This U-shaped curve remains when you control for factors such as physical health, income, number of children, marital status, and education.

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