Category: Uncategorized

Image of a hand selecting a red book from a bookshelf

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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I’ll admit it. I was a major grump when Pokémon Go exploded onto the scene in early July.  The graphics confused me, hearing the word “Jigglypuff” during bathing suit season made me sad, it was draining all our data, and I read that hapless hunters were being lured into unpopulated areas and getting mugged. Plus like all the other moms in the universe, I feel under constant siege by Phones and Snapchat and YouTube and all the other iThings that have sapped the ability of everyone under 18 to look anyone in the eye.

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The PHS Parents’ Club held its December meeting at Mulberry’s Home on “Giving Tuesday,” and it was an opportune time to feel thankful about the focus of all of our Parents’ Clubs. As Principal Daniels pointed out, we’re not in the position of other Bay Area districts forced to talk about escalating violence on campus, or an emotionally stifling, pressure-cooker academic atmosphere. Instead, we discussed professional development for the World Language department and the ongoing evolution of the math curriculum.

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Like that sad, neglected dish of creamed onions we feel compelled to make every year, this column has become a Thanksgiving tradition I can’t shake. I didn’t submit it last year and got some grief from folks on the trot that they missed it, so I decided to give it a record fourth airing. When you bow your head this year before your feast, please join me in giving thanks to the professional turkey ‘stimulators’ who have made your entrée possible.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  A common Mulberry’s Thanksgiving question (second only to “where’s your bathroom?” post-Turkey Trot) is whether we’ll be selling turkeys this year. We’d love to. We’ve looked into it, too, but realized that the logistics aren’t on our side. Turkeys are enormous. There’s space for approximately 4 ½ turkeys in our walk-in. So you see, we couldn’t have much of a program.

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