Saturday, September 30, 2006

In Your Heart, You Know You're Right

You are right.

You've known it for a long time, but it's now becoming crystal clear. Leaders of the Republican Party are not only corrupt (Abramoff scandal), incompetent (Katrina response), war-mongering (Iraq, Iraq, Iraq) racists (George Allen anyone?), torture lovers, but they now are known to shield child predators from the public (Mark Foley, Congressman from Florida).

How'dya like them apples? In just over a month, this country might be free again. But we still have way too many days left till that doofus leaves office.

Saturday Morning

Good morning to one and all. It's a beautiful blue-sky day in our fair state, and one of the best advertisements for living in New England. Nothing much on my radar screen for today, at least in terms of work or errands. However, I am feeling some change in the air, which is probably a good omen for the future.

Of course, there's been change on my job front, which I've documented ad nauseum here. But, like always, that change isn't necessarily all bad because it has opened some unexpected doors. This week I had several interactions with different women in the corporation where I work, and the results have been heart-warming and affirmative.

Part of my job is to train colleagues to build their department websites for the company's intranet. This week, I met with a woman named Pam, to help her build a site. We were working together in her office, which had several photographs on the wall, and I mentioned how much her son had grown. Knowing that 15-year-old Michael is the light of her life, I figured that the discussion would also lead to her daughter, who died suddenly of a still-unknown disease about five years ago. The daughter's picture also was pinned to the wall, but it's starting to age and yellow a little bit. We laughed about how she herself never ages and will always remain 22 years old.

Pam then told me a great story about her daughter and butterflies. Ever since her daughter's death, she has found butterflies in unusual places - flying around her house, sitting on her car, all kinds of unexpected places. She firmly believes this is her daughter's way of comforting her...letting her Mom know she's ok. We both teared up a bit, but we were connecting in such a human way that I took great comfort from it.

Pam's story resonated with me because I have had similar experiences with my deceased parents. A few years ago, my husband faced significant medical issues that, at the time, seemed insurmountable. One day, I simply put his future in the hands of my parents, asking them to please help me. I was sitting in my office at the time and looked out into the blue sky as I made this request. Just as I did so, two large birds flew by, in tandem. Although my parents disagreed on much during their lives on earth, I took solace that the two of them were letting me know they would do what they could.

The result? This week it will be two years since my husband's major surgery. He's probably in better health now than he was before the medical problem occurred. While he's worked hard to get himself healthy, perhaps there are other reasons that cannot be so easily quantified. And that's the secret, and beauty, of being human.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Cape of Cod

Took a little day trip to Cape Cod with two recently laid off co-workers and another friend who is still stuck on the job with me. See if you can figure out which is which in the picture below:

OK, from left: Susan, Joan, Ethel. Of these, Ethel remains my comrade in arms. Had an enjoyable day exorcising the demons and now it's time to move on.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Little R&R Today

As part of my rehab from last week's corporateness, I am taking a couple of vacation days this week. Today I started off at the Y, where I swim laps three times a week for an hour. I don't usually have the luxury of starting the day off with exercise, but it seemed like the best way to begin the new week. You let your mind wander and it's a great way to sort through some thoughts...or make some observations of people I don't normally see on a regular basis.

When I first got to the pool, the elder set was doing their hydro-cize, a sort of gentle bobbing and walking through the water, designed for the geriatric set. They look like they're having a great time, with lots of laughter, as they move around in a circle at the shallow end of the pool.

During the hour that I swam, these ladies gave way to the Mommy/Baby set, who also formed their own circle in the water with their ponytails bobbing and their babies clutched in overprotective arms. As I swam back and forth next to them it occurred to me that my generation never had a Mommy and Me swimming lesson time. When it came time for us to learn to swim, we were given a suit, a bath towel and a pair of flip flops (that you wore all summer until they wore out) and pointed in the direction of the town pool. You signed yourself up, as far as I recall, and went there at the appointed hour a couple of times a week. No such thing as holding Mommy's hand and having her do all the work. (Sounds a little curmudgeonly, but I think we were a much more independent generation.)

After my swimming time was finished, I dressed in the locker room surrounded by the old ladies, many of whom were walking around stark nekkid. As far as I know, they're the only age group that does this at the Y (at least that I've seen) and I was kinda proud of them. I overheard one woman say to her companion, "I remember being with my mother-in-law and having to hold her up once in a while to keep her from falling over. Now I'm her!" As she was saying this, she was grabbing on to the locker as she was dressing. The ladies all chuckled and I wanted to join in and say, "Me too!" But I wasn't sure that a 50-something has earned the right to their least not yet.

Perfect way to start the day, wish I could join the old ladies more often. They seem to be having a blast.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's New?

The past week took a lot out of me emotionally...I don't know why losing my colleague by a layoff would have such an impact. Was it unexpected? Not totally. Was it the right thing to happen? Most definitely not. But there's nothing to be done, short of quitting my own job. Right now, it's not really a possibility.

I'll get over it. But, after 10 years together, fighting the corporate wars against the senior management and, most especially, the MEN, it will be hard to face the days alone.

OK, enough wallowing. Enough whining. At least about me. Here's a few more recent events:
  • Did anybody else catch Clinton on...FOX NEWS this morning? Oh, dear God, was it worth watching that ridiculous network to catch Bill ripping Chris Wallace a new one. Here's the transcript of the first twenty minutes. It simply rocks. At long last, a Democrat finally puts the media in their places in terms of the questions asked of both parties. It is fabulous.

  • So, whaddaya think? War with Iran before the election in November? Hard though it might be to believe, the Administration could just do that. Here's Gary Hart's post from The Huffington Post:

    "Were these more normal times, this would be a stunning possibility, quickly dismissed by thoughtful people as dangerous, unprovoked, and out of keeping with our national character. But we do not live in normal times.

    And we do not have a government much concerned with our national character. If anything, our current Administration is out to remake our national character into something it has never been.

    The steps will be these: Air Force tankers will be deployed to fuel B-2 bombers, Navy cruise missile ships will be positioned at strategic points in the northern Indian Ocean and perhaps the Persian Gulf, unmanned drones will collect target data, and commando teams will refine those data. The latter two steps are already being taken."

  • My guy, Deval Patrick, won the Democratic primary for Governor of Massachusetts. Polls apparently show him ahead 64% to 25% over his Republican challenger. Hmmm, looks like we might take the State House back this year, which would be a very pleasant prospect.

Speaking of pleasant...there will be more pleasant postings in the future. I promise.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Corporate America Sucks

Well, my best friend and most esteemed colleague at the office was laid off today. I'm pissed off, so no blogging tonight. Only a glass of wine and some de-stressing allowed.

My friend is going to do well because she is a smart professional, blessed with lots of talent and many years of experience. But after working side-by-side with her for more than 10 years, it will be difficult for me to move on. Like always, the actual process today was handled very poorly, and IMHO the company chose the wrong person to let go. But, as I learned a long time ago, life is just not fair.


Truth be told, I'm sort of jealous that she will have some time off and a chance to begin anew in her professional life.

Well, bon voyage, SMG! Keep an eye out for a job for me, ok?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Colin Powell Awakes From a Long Slumber


Many people have always harbored a notion that Colin Powell was actually one of us...a thoughtful, intelligent, non-conservative. However, he did his best to dispel this wishful thinking during the first Chimp Administration, especially during the run-up to the war. But today he finally snapped. Check it out here.

RIP, Governor

Here's a woman I've always admired, for her honesty, her openness and her natural sense of irreverance. I would have loved to have met Governor Richards, and now I guess I've missed my chance.

'Nuff Said, eh?

This cartoon stopped me cold this morning. I loved it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Olbermann Beats the Chimp Over the Head

Read this...shades of Edward R. Murrow and Thomas Paine, rolled into one. This was Olbermann's September 11 rant.

"They [the Republicans] promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fear and the Cuckoo's Nest

"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties."

At this very moment, the Chimp is giving us his very best scare tactics in his September 11 commemorative speech, but I decided to provide my own dream speech from one of our greatest Presidents, above.

On our TV, we'd rather watch our own version of the Bush administration..."One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Somehow it seems only too fitting. I'm feeling a lot like R.P. McMurphy right about now because I refuse to sit and be fearful of everything that happens, every "potential" problem, real or imagined. In FDR's case, he convinced Americans to believe in capitalism (for good or for ill) and bolstered our whole way of life with the mere force of his personality. And he did it without benefit of massmedia and spin doctors. So, while I like vegetables, I refuse to sit here and let the Chimp and his minions berate us all into behaving just as they want us to. Here's the line I just heard from the movie, when McMurphy is being interviewed by the administrator in the hospital to which he has been sent:

"They tell me I'm crazy because I don't sit there like a goddamn vegetable. Don't make a bit of sense to me. If that's what being crazy is, then I'm senseless, out of it, gone down the road wackoo. But no more, no less."

Let's hope we're all McMurphy now, and just a wee bit crazy.

Stealing September 11

Isn't it a shame that we can't all just grieve for the loss of life (or even loss of innocence) on 9/11 without it turning into a political statement? That just flat out pisses me off.

As we look back five years, I remember what I was wearing that day. I remember the weather that beautiful, sunny day. And I very much remember when a younger colleague came into my office and told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. Immediately, I thought about the small plane that hit the Empire State Building in the 1940s and figured this was one of those terrible, but minor, accidents. We all trooped to the TV in our office and were shocked beyond belief to see the black smoke coming out of one of the buildings. To the best of my memory I did not actually witness the second plane crash, but my recollection is that only one was burning when we first turned on the TV.

It didn't take long for a crowd to gather around the TV in our office, and it didn't take long to hear that at least one of the hijacked planes had come from the very same airport that was right outside our window. For what seemed like a long time (but actually turned out to be less than 45 minutes at max), we all wandered from the TV to our offices, making phone calls to loved ones, receiving emails and IMs from our colleagues from around the world. I distinctly remember a message from a friend in Belgium wishing us well and asking if it was as bad as he was hearing on the news in Brussels. ("It's worse," I remember telling him.) I also remember calling my husband to let him know we were leaving the office and I'd be home "when I get there." In my imagination, I expected some kind of nightmare scenario in which I'd have to fight my way down the Mass. Pike.

As it turned out, the traffic wasn't bad, but it was a heartbreaking ride in which I heard about the collapse of the World Trade Center, and the many rumors that were flying car bombs at the State Department, evacuations of the major political buildings in Washington, DC, and the actual plane crash at the Pentagon.

Eventually, of course, we all made it home from wherever we were that day, and none of us will never forget any of these details. It's a cliche of the highest order to liken the events of September 11 to remembering where we were when Kennedy was shot (I was taking a spelling test in 4th grade) and where our parents were when Pearl Harbor was hit. But another memory I have is of the unity we all felt, the real sense of "all being in it together."

Last night, we re-watched a 9/11 film done by a couple of French brothers who were embedded with a New York City firehouse. They were filming the fire fighters for a documentary, and ended up being swept up in the events of the day...including being at the World Trade Center when it collapsed. This show brought back the horror of the day, which I (for one) had begun to be too sanguine about. With the repetition of "9/11," "9/11," "9/11," by politicians of every stripe...with color-coded terror alerts...with taking off our shoes before going through security at the airports, we've all sort of assimiliated September 11, 2001 into some sort of acceptability. But watching the film last night and hearing the bodies drop onto the pavement brought the old feeling back...the one that had me weeping while I drove to work in the days after September 11th.

It also reminded me of the reasons why I bought a small flag on the streets of New York when we visited in October 2001, and why I was waving it madly when firefighters paraded past us on Fifth Avenue during New York's Columbus Day parade. Those of you who know me know I'm not the flag-waving type.

And it's why I'm pissed today.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Widow Responds to Ann Coulter

I've always admired Kristen Breitweiser. She's smart, capable and probably never expected in her wildest dreams to be a victime of the venom of Ann Coulter. I won't dignify that witch with repeating her comments, but I thought it would be good to feature Ms. Breitweiser's response here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Have You Contacted ABC Yet?

Both Bobbers and I have sent our emails to both ABC and Disney asking them NOT to air the dispicable "docudrama" about September 11, 2001, called "The Path to 9/11." In case you've been living under a rock, you know that this mini-series blames (among other people) Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger for 9/11.

Here's a link to a bunch of action items if you're interested in your children learning the truth about American history, and not some made-up version courtesy of the right wing.

Too Much "Big Brother"

Having a digital video recorder (aka "TiVo") system mostly allows us to keep up with "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," the Letterman show and Oprah! But, this summer, it also has allowed me to record my guiltiest of guilty pleasures: "Big Brother." I typically do not watch reality shows, but there is something about this show that interests me. Perhaps its because it is quite similar to office politics...when people get "evicted" from the house it's sort of the equivalent of a downsizing on the job. And I guess I also enjoy watching people lie to each other and just get away with it!

But anyway...I've been watching the show this summer and it's great to have it recorded because I can zip through all the crappy parts (the gratuitous bikinis and show-mance stuff). I get to stop when the houseguests are at their conniving and back-stabbing best. Why do I enjoy this? God only knows. But I do.

Last night, however, I realized I must be watching too much because I had a dream I was in a "reality show" situation with people being gunshot! When I complained to the HoH about someone else being killed, he turned the gun on me, which caused me to wake right up with a pounding heart! So I guess it's a good thing the show is only on one more night, eh?

(I was sorry to see Dr. Will and Janelle recently evicted...they played the game the best. I had predicted that Mike would win a few weeks ago, so I guess I'll keep with that choice, especially over the skanky Erika.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

Had a remarkably dry weekend in the Berkshires, considering we were supposed to be feeling the remnants of Hurrican Ernesto. Yes, it was chilly. Yes, it was overcast. Yes, it was windy. But we never once had to open our umbrellas, so we figured we did pretty well.

Even though the Berkshires are certainly located in the state of Massachusetts, they are a world away from greater Boston. While people in eastern Massachusetts summer at Cape Cod or Maine, western Massachusetts is rife with New Yorkers. And with those New Yorkers comes the dreaded MFY fan. Saw any number of NY hats and shirts and you'll be proud to know I didn't hurt any of them, and none of them harassed me with my own Red Sox cap on. Peace reigned in the valley.

On the other hand, I did hear a LOT of anti-Bush rhetoric. Walking through a number of shops I overheard people complaining about the state of things in the US of A. One memorable conversation had a shop owner saying to a patron: We need a miracle! (Personally I think we'll get it in November, but that's a topic for another post.)

On Saturday, we attended one of Massachusetts' finest arts resources, Tanglewood. This large complex out in the rolling, green Berkshire hills is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra plays concerts of all sorts throughout the summer, sometimes mixed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and other classical artists. Neither Bob or I are classical music fans, so we reserve our visit for Labor Day Weekend when Tanglewood features the three-day Jazz Festival.

The Saturday afternoon concert featured Marian McPartland, a grande dame of jazz piano, who I believe is in her 80s. She's still a feisty old gal, with plenty of fire and still plays a smooth jazz piano. She was having a live version of her NPR show "Piano Jazz" featuring as her special guest Elvis Costello - one of our favorite artists. For two 45-minute sets the two of them held court, playing lesser known jazz standards. At the end, Elvis's wife, Diana Krall (who at 41 is very pregnant), joined in and sang two songs with Marion. Biggest cheer of the day? When the sun poked through the clouds for about 30 seconds during intermission.

After a quick burger and pasta break between concerts, we returned to Tanglewood for the evening event, with a distinctive New Orleans flavor. First up? Wynton Marsalis's 5-piece band. They were a cool bunch, playing about an hour's worth of great traditional jazz. Loved seeing them, but the second half of the show was really why we paid the money for the seats we had. It featured Dr. John, Irma Thomas, John Pizzarelli, and many others.

Just as these great artists were really starting to cook, we noticed a very peculiar thing...people were leaving. It is an "outdoor" venue...a pie shaped "shed" with the stage at the pointed end and open air on most of the rest of the structure. But after each song, people were getting up to leave...more and more at each break. It was the oddest thing. And I have to say that the applause was quite tepid - not anything like I expected. We went to the concert looking forward to a solid and heartwarming New England welcome to some of the displaced artists of New Orleans.

We couldn't figure it out...was it because the typical BSO attendee is a rich, older white person? Was it because of what is sometimes known as the New England "cold" personality? I don't think so. I thinnk we had a bunch of people who attend these concerts religously regardless of who is on the bill. And clearly, people didn't understand Dr. John or have an appreciation of who Irma Thomas is and her place in the New Orleans jazz and blues constellation. We were embarassed for these people and certainly hoped the New Orleans contingent didn't hold it against us. I suspect neither the BSO or the artists will want to bring them together at Tanglewood again. However, WE will look forward to catching these artists at another less-upscale locale.

Here's my candid shot of Dr. John and Irma leaving the stage. They look reasonably happy, so I guess all's well that ends well.