Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading and Survival

There is a reason I didn't end up pumping gas in Sandy Creek, New York. I have to thank reading for that. From the time I was seven I was knocking off a book a day. But there were limits. Because I've had ADHD ever since I can remember, the books had to be able to take me out of my own life. If I couldn't go somewhere else and experience "suspension of disbelief," then the runaway train that was always rocketing through my body would be in control. A lot of nice people had written me off until I got in the 99th percentile in verbal on my SAT.
Lately, because of my reading, my mind has been living in northern England's Lake district. Of course, just when it was almost too late to matter, I finally got diagnosed with ADHD and received medicine that slowed down that railway train inside my body.
To explain what it had been like most of my life: I had written my doctoral dissertation in Syracuse University's Byrd Library, where I could concentrate for 20 minutes and walk around for 40 minutes looking for people to talk to.
So nowadays I can knock off one or two novels a day, but histories take longer.
When I was UPI reporter in Concord New Hampshire, Ted Sorensen had come up to meet with me and the Associated Press reporter. Sorensen, of course, was famous for writing Pres. John Kennedy's inaugural address where he said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He was arrogant and quite sure of himself when he said to us that Bobby Kennedy would not run for the presidency in 1968. I always believed after that that Sorensen had lied to us and was really pissed.

It wasn't until I read in another history that Kennedy had earlier made a deal with Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago that somehow later got abrogated which  allowed RFK to run. If I hadn't taken a lot of time on that particular history, I might still be angry today.

So while I'm enjoying Jon Meacham's great biography of George Bush, I think I need some time with Baldacci or Grisham before I can return to my careful reading of his large tome.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Parenting and Principles

When you're in the process of bringing up a daughter, your long-term goal is to create a self-confident, self-reliant' autonomous human being. You want her to be able to stand on her own feet and be secure enough not to be pushed around by a sweet talking guy who requires a submissive woman.

In the end, you want someone autonomous, not someone who will spew your own prejudices and fears in some kind of uncomfortable obeisance.

When my daughter was in second grade she told me her hero was Martin Luther King. Since 30% of my college students were African-American, it gave me a good feeling. But I didn't necessarily expect it to guarantee a core belief in the  equality of man. My attitudes were formed by the Sunday school song that went: "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Brown and yellow, black and white, all are equal in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world." I always believed that was true. However, I knew my daughter should find her own truths.

That's why when she was making up a chart of core beliefs in her Marriage and Family Therapy Masters program, I was thrilled to see the words "Black lives matter."

It's good when you're daughter becomes autonomous but it's even better when somehow she ends up endorsing your own principles. However or whenever that happens.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Star Wars, Canes and Walkers

We were driving into the parking lot in Westwood village that I use when going to the pharmacy. The first thing that surprised me was that all the disabled parking places were taken. This was the first time I couldn't slide into a spot on the ground floor for a quick exit onto the street.

When we went back it was almost impossible to exit our parking place because the line of cars trying to leave the structure just sat there, seemingly immovable. It wasn't until I remembered that "Star Wars" was playing a block away that I understood what was going on. The movie had just finished

After all, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is in his mid-70s. These people, just like me, probably could still remember the first "Star Wars," and had lusted after Carrie Fisher.

Since I'm in my dotage and have been hanging around Kings Landing looking for a way to get knighted, I was just glad none of them were white walkers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A President's Tears and Outrage

Recently, my daughter got to shake hands and talk with Barack Obama. My daughter, who is a registered independent, told me that she believes the president is really a good man. Since she's a counselor and deals with people from different backgrounds all day, I trusted her instincts.

Although I've been disappointed in the way the president has handled the Middle East, his speech today on gun violence really connected with me. When mentioning the Newtown, Connecticut slaughter of first graders his eyes teared up.

He is taking executive action on closing guns show loopholes and implementing the other limited efforts that the executive branch can take without the support of Congress. He truly believes that too many Americans are dying because Republicans want to get reelected.

I'm tired of the violence and in the way the legislative branch is too frightened to make a difference. In those tears today I saw one man's attempt to hold back the vicious tide consuming America.