From my bottomless pit of quotes that sound wise, yet have no discernible meaning, here’s one from the poet Ovid. It sounds appropriately abstruse. Full of the wisdom of ages and sages. But … what does it mean? Only the Master knows … and he’s not talking.
Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid to the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of the Emperor Augustus.
Born: March 20, 43 BC, Sulmona, Italy Died: 17 AD, Constanța, Romania Full name: Publius Ovidius Naso
In recent months, Garry and I have logged a lot of hours watching the political year unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “the millennials,” young folks in and around my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me,” which is a direct quote from my granddaughter.
I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.
The world into which my generation — the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” — was born was not composed of silver spoons and red carpets. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted.
Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare, no Medicaid. If you lost your job or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.
People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever and no one was hungry. But only if you were triple white. White collar. White skin. White picket fence. If you were anything else, you lived a different reality.
Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never much different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. Because the ramifications of “getting caught” were so perilous (and frequently against the law), we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.
We hid our lives from “the grownups” who were also frequently “the enemy.” Child abuse was not only not illegal, it was ignored or approved of. Beating your kids was merely “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids. Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just tells them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.
My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice. We changed the world — not as much as we hoped we would, but a lot. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but we got old.
It’s your turn now.
Things are a lot better for you in many ways. Not perfect. Not without problems. There’s plenty more work to be done. I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is too hard. Good jobs are scarce. I know because I’ve heard about it … a lot.
Life — real life — has always been hard and good jobs have never been easy to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.
Despite the complaining, your generation is reaping the benefits of what we fought for. It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down the phone. Go into the world. Fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. And all the work we did will go down the tubes.
Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.
I just had an exhilarating creative experience! In order to appreciate my euphoria, I need to explain my writing life a bit. I write blogs on my own but I also write audio theater scripts with my husband, Tom.
Tom and I are part of an audio theater company called Voicescapes Audio Theater. We write, produce, post online and perform live our repertoire of original short theater pieces. They are fully produced with music as well as live and recorded sound effects. You can read more about our group on our website: http://www.voicescapesaudiotheater.com. On the website you can also listen to some of our comedy and dramatic pieces, mostly written by Tom and me.
We are currently writing very short, one to two-minute comedy bits to post online. We are hoping to put these “Snippets” on our Facebook page as well as our website to create some buzz and name recognition for our group.
That’s a long-winded introduction to get to a very simple story. I wrote a short, allegedly humorous “Snippet” involving two women talking about how stressed out they were about getting to Yoga class on time. Humor, by the way, is much harder to write than anything else. Tom read it and said that it wasn’t really funny and that it didn’t sound like a realistic conversation between two humans. He suggested we scrap it. He said that sometimes you have to just let something go when it doesn’t work.
I felt strongly that there was a germ of a good idea in there somewhere. I advocated for trying to work on it some more and Tom agreed, probably just to humor me. In the process of our discussions, we honed in on where the humor was in the piece and where it wasn’t. Tom was still skeptical but said I should try to reshape it around the funny parts.
I tweaked and cut and rewrote and finally presented him with a new draft. I left it on the kitchen table when I went to bed. I came down for coffee in the morning to find my piece with these words written across the top “This is funny!” Those were the most beautiful and exciting words I’ve seen in a long time. I had such a sense of accomplishment!
It is so rewarding to work well with someone else on any kind of creative project. Tom and I combine our sensibilities and styles to create a viable hybrid entity. This entity has parts of us both but also has the separate identity of “us”. We both write on our own. But something special happens when we write together. And it’s nice to be able to point to something concrete and say that we did that together.
Things are changing. I don’t mean this allegorically. I mean it very literally. Physical things are moving around, moving out, moving in, and being replaced by other things.
The big dracaena in the dining room has left, replaced (in spirit) by a nice Philodendron hanging over the sink and in front of the windows. The little hutch in the dining room has been replaced by a lovely, Victorian secretary with a glass display top. And the big sectional downstairs has gone to a new home, as has my oak roll-top desk.
Less is definitely more. The house feels better with less stuff in it. Like there’s finally room to breathe.
Moving things around inevitably results in a lot more work than anyone expects. The new secretary has three shelves, but none of them are as tall as the two shelves on the previous hutch. That meant that tall things needed to be moved to different shelves, but small things moved “indoors” … behind glass. In the process I rediscovered music boxes, pottery, little brass boxes and one big porcelain unicorn.
A child came to visit and went home with five dolls — a 14″ Tony with auburn hair and two Mme. Alexander “Cinderellas” — poor Cinderella and Cinderella at the ball — and two giant rag dolls, Raggedy Ann and Andy. I was made inordinately happy to find a home for a few dolls where hopefully, they will be played with and enjoyed.
I spent hours last night cleaning a music box and kaleidoscope (it’s the same item with two pieces) using q-tips and that cleaning stuff you use for electronic gear and cameras. The q-tips weren’t small enough and no brush was soft enough. Very old things are so hard to clean. Everything that can break, will … even when you are being as careful and delicate as you can.
I’m not done yet. There’s so much stuff. But I made a dent in it. A pretty big dent. That’s something, right?
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