Tag Archives: life


Dharun Ravi at trial. File photo, AP.

It’s time again to talk about bullies.

Yesterday, a jury in New Jersey found former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi guilty of most of the 15 counts against him, including anti-gay intimidation, a hate crime. Ravi is the former roommate of the late Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi was using a webcam to view his encounters with other men. Clementi was gay.

Now Ravi is a convicted felon, facing at least a few years of jail time and possibly deportation to his native India after he serves that time. When a firm nationwide policy of zero tolerance arrives for the bullies — and it now seems it will — it will probably look like this. Continue reading


An End, a Beginning

Why does the Western idea of the year end (and the next begin) in the dead of winter? I  mean, I know how cultural the thing is: Pope Gregory XIII decided on ours, in Islamic culture it’s in spring, Judaism places it in fall, and here again the Chinese have the edge on us, both in solid terms of years lived and really good origin stories. And of course North Korea passes recorded time in a very Kimilsungian way.

If we measured the year in terms of our own entry into life (birthday to birthday), that would be so American. Many already do this, if unofficially.

2011, the year I lost my Dad, got me thinking about the whole journey of life: not just how it begins but how it ends. Continue reading


People had waited for this one. The baby would be a boy in a family of two adults and one perfect little girl, who was so excited about her brother’s arrival she’d named him “Abby’s Boy”. She also was taking on a new role in the games she played: Big Sister. If you were lucky enough, she’d gift you with this role, and be Mommy herself. “Big Sisser, it time for bed,” the little Mommy would say, and off you’d go, to five seconds of sleep on the carpet.

As for the baby, he was enjoying his time with the real Mommy. My sister had to induce: and here’s an odd thing about life, that someone else can choose your birthday for you. Obviously, someone can also choose your date of departure, but that’s much less legal, not to mention little cause for celebration.

Very early on the morning of the summer solstice, I joined my sister, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law on the trip to the hospital. On the sunlit trip through the sleeping town of Matthews, we passed under a sign strung across the street: the community theater production of “The King And I” was about to open.

It was the best morning of the year. We were all so excited. I remember looking at that sign, thinking: Shall we dance?

Honestly, I could have. Continue reading


People had feared this one. My parents have six children, twelve grandchildren, and nieces and nephews, and all of us knew the end was coming for my Dad. On the last day of the first month of the year, he’d had a massive heart attack, which he survived. But that event had finally given us all the map to what was going on inside him: a series of small strokes (doctors traced the first to about 2009; I’d put that one at least a year before), progressive dementia, and now the thing with his heart.

Dad struggled to understand it himself. Months later, we would find handwritten notes he’d made. “Hart attack,” says one, dated February 17. “Thank them for the gifts,” it adds. “Flowers and fruit.”

As his children recognized the enormity of what had happened (was happening) with Dad, we planned the annual family gathering with more attention than usual. It was understood that no one would make the mistake of sitting this one out. No one, that is, except Dad.

He just never spoke about it. August. San Diego. My mother would talk to him about these things, but he never really responded. To Dad, it was as if they did not exist.

Of course he was right. That event simply wouldn’t happen for Dad. We didn’t want to hear anyone say this, but it was true. Continue reading

What Not To Drink Now

Ladies, countrywomen, friends. The Skinnygirl Margarita probably won’t make us “skinny”. Even if it could, it doesn’t taste good. If it did, the boys would tell us.

Found, on page 38 of the February Esquire Magazine (helpfully headlined We Try It So You Don’t Have To):


Say the cute little four-year-old down the block made a bowl of lemonade but instead of sugar used Splenda and instead of lemons used lemon flavoring and put it in a big bowl filled with ice and set it in the sun so all the ice melted and the “lemonade” got kind of hot and she got bored and went inside and a Labrador retriever came along and lapped some up and then stuck his head in the bowl and got the stuff all up his nose and sneezed uncontrollably into the bowl for a while. That’s what it tastes like. On ice.

Ladies, fruit is good. In 2011, let us make a pledge to one another, to life, to fruit: we will let ourselves have the real thing, not fake doggy-sneeze mixes like this.

Limes don’t cost much. Sugar and salt aren’t that bad.

Let’s live a little.

This Is Who They (We?) Are.

United States of America, meet some of the people you consider your leaders.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

[I] have deep concerns that some, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that [threats of violence against Democratic leaders during the 2009-10 health care reform hearings] incidents be used as a political weapon.

Eric Cantor, March 2010

Michele Bachmann, R-MN:

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue [of the energy tax] because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing’, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.

Michele Bachmann, March 2009 Continue reading

Things That Happen in Airports

Been there, done that, threatened arrest, got the t-shirt.

It hasn’t been a fun few years for flying, has it?  First with the shoes in the bins, then with the liquids, now with the pat-downs:  security screening is easily the worst part of going anywhere by air.

But there is something hysterical in the complaints over what the Transportation Security Agency is doing lately.  The now-infamous Don’t Touch My Junk blogger from San Diego got so much attention — first for doing what he did, then for saying what he said — that many in this country are now taking seriously the idea of scaling back TSA’s power and procedures.

As of today, a Florida airport has dropped TSA as its security provider, and will be going with a private firm instead.  Dude:  That’s some second-world, reactionary, throwbacky stuff right there.

I can’t support this, and I’m pretty sure it won’t end well.  Not with things like this still making the news. Continue reading