Inevitably, in one form or another, a student in every class asks the question: “Miss, were you a hippie?” It’s a question that floats on their internalized images of the type, all flower-loving nonviolence, and the readings that hold sway in our content–readings by Michelle Alexander and Angela Davis detailing the human poisons of the privatized prison industry, articles about resource wars in Africa, about housing toxins and educational disparities. I sense their disappointment when I tell them that I came of adolescence after the hippie years under Jimmy Carter. Vietnam had passed; Jimmy Carter was kind. The hippies had a crisis of relevance. Continue reading
Category Archives: memoir
I was listening to NPR yesterday—an interview with Sir Tom Stoppard, screenwriter for the new Anna Karenina movie. When asked about the meaning of love he posed the question, “Are we born self-interested and we have to learn to be good? Or are we born selfless and merely corrupted by competition and institution?” I’m guessing there’s not any black or white answer to the question, though I was taught in my young religious days that we were born in total depravity with the need, of course, to be saved in an institution that just happens to make a lot of money off such doctrines—a truth that seems to belie the first argument in support of the second. Then there’s my own parenting that seems to betray the truths of corruption.
When my older son was five, he had a passion for Mary Poppins. He loved her magic, her command, her…
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I have a familiar ritual that follows the storms in my life. It goes something like this:
1. I cue up a song—one with mantra-like capabilities—and with a touch of a finger, instruct artist du jour to sing over and over and over again. For today, it’s Ingrid Michaelson:
Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size… That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?
A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf, 1929 Continue reading
I’m in East Texas, visiting my parents with my younger son, C2. If all goes as planned, I will be telling my parents I’m gay sometime before I leave here on Wednesday afternoon. It has been too long coming and I’ve grown tired listening to my own fears and excuses.
And yet… Continue reading
When my younger son C2 was five, he had a knack for finding the quiet corners of our house for his creative play, and, mostly, we delighted in his creations. I grin to see him in memory… his eerily perfect imitation of a velociraptor (after watching the BBC documentary Dinosaurs a gazillion times), a Caped Crusader ferreting out the bad guys with wicked Bat moves, his penchant for catalogue clippings, particularly at Halloween when he cut out any ad donning a ghost or witch or jack-o-lantern and taped them all (and there were hundreds) to the outside of our house. But once in a while, his love of solitary play left us all a little perplexed and thoroughly depleted. Continue reading