GROWING UP BOOMER

My generation — the post-war baby boomers — had an unusually high percentage of dysfunctional relationships with parents. I thought it was a self-selecting sample. I had a pretty awful childhood. My father was a sociopath who should never have been allowed near children, much less to be a parent. Maybe I was just attracted to kids like me.

1963. I'm in the front, in the middle, arm on my knee.

1963. I’m in the front, in the middle, arm on my knee.

Blogging has given me a broader perspective. Younger generations have issues with parents, but they can talk, if both sides try. In my growing-up years, not so much.

“The Generation Gap” was a laugh line for comedians, a mantra for the young. Most people blew it off as media hype. It was not all hype. My parents, Garry’s parents, most parents of the boomer generation grew up during the world wars. With the Great Depression in between. They learned to be alert, to hoard goods, and food. You never knew what might happen. Be prepared for everything.

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They believed in America. Righteousness would prevail. They were solid citizens, responsible soldiers, dedicated parents, dependable workers. They determined to pass these values to us. Working hard and doing the right thing would always pay off.

They didn’t talk about family values. They lived them. They believed. Even when they weren’t good at expressing their beliefs in positive ways — or expressing feelings at all. They wanted their kids — us — to be an expression of their lives. The work that never ended. The house they bought, even though both parents had to work two jobs each to keep it.

If they were religious, they went to church. Or synagogue. Or whatever else was their place of worship. Minorities taught their non-white and Jewish offspring to keep their heads down and fit in. Don’t be conspicuous. Talk the talk, walk the walk. Go to college. That was how to get ahead.

Racial mixing terrified parents on both sides. Terrible things happened to mixed race couples.

Our parents had formative experiences in the Depression and World War II. The emergence of my generation in the early 1960s coincided with a vast wave of change. It engulfed America. So great was the change our parents were left in the dust. Clueless, unable to understand what was happening to their country, their world,  their children. War had been the ultimate righteous cause, and now there was Vietnam.

Rebellion? At home? How could that be? “We gave them everything! We worked our fingers to the bone to give them all the things we never had.” Except we didn’t want those things — not yet, not the way they wanted us to own them.

Marilyn 6th Grade class

Many of us eschewed a safe, job. We wanted freedom to find our way. To discover values based our experiences. The world was flying by at warp speed. We boomers didn’t agree that America was on the side of the angels. We weren’t sure there were any angels.

Our music was strange. Clothing, haircuts were aggravating or worse. But the culture was the bridge they could not cross. The willingness of a generation to experiment with sex and drugs. To “try anything once” when they had been largely unwilling to try anything at all.

Some parents found a way to communicate with their kids. My mother got there eventually though by then I was an adult. A dollar short and a decade late. To her credit, she never stopped trying. If she had lived a few more years, she might have discovered she liked the new world.

96-Me Young in MaineI always told Mom I was more her daughter than she would ever understand. She was no wimp. Dutiful insofar as she gave up the education she wanted to get a job and contribute to the family. Otherwise? She did her thing. Joined the Communist Party, but the boys were cuter at the Socialist club. So she dumped Communism for a better social life.

She was an atheist and a cynic. She didn’t think much of the human race and even less of my father — the one thing on which we always agreed. She loved me, in her way. It wasn’t what I wanted or needed. She didn’t give me appropriate advice or protect me.

1972

1972

Eventually, as an adult, she supported me. I wish that support had been available when I was young and fragile.

Being a parent to adult children today is easier. We understand where they’re coming from. We may not think they’re on a productive path. It’s hard to watch them make mistakes they’ll pay for later. Nonetheless, we “get” the world they live in because we live in it too.

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There are generational disagreements (assuming there are no religious issues), but not unbridgeable chasms. I get my granddaughter even if I think she’s behaving badly. I figure we all behaved like jerks, and it’s her turn. I hope she’ll skip the worst things I did. Save herself some pain and agony, but it’s her life.

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My mother didn’t understand “it’s my life” as a concept. Most parents of her generation never got it. They disapproved of us. Their faces were wreathed in permanent frowns. We couldn’t do anything right. Whatever we were doing was wrong by their standards.

Grandpa-Samuel-Seiden-web

We couldn’t bridge that gap. Couldn’t yell across it. Love wasn’t enough to break the barrier. Not all, but most parents did the best they knew how. They were flawed, damaged, believed stuff we find peculiar in 2018, but they meant well.

I think I finally understand. It only took a lifetime.

BRILLIANT BUT NO LONGER FORLORN

Yesterday was a day for sadness and being forlornly. It was a day for mourning the loss of our dearest, the end of jobs, marriages, pets — and a shot at the World Series.

Today, because we bounce from word to word with the energy of one of those magic super bouncing balls, we are brilliant.

I am personally brilliant. I know this because at P.S. 35 in Queens, New York, I got a look at my I.Q. score which was so ridiculously high, it made me feel inadequate about the entire rest of my life. Discovering you are supposed to be a genius when you are ten can ruin the rest of your life.

All the other geniuses with whom I went to elementary school and thence Junior High, High School and eventually, college, became doctors and physicists. They studied law, became judges. At the very least, they made oodles of money. A few wrote novels … the kind that get published by actual publishers. A couple became Rabbis and others became Deep Thinkers and got jobs as professors where deep thinking comes with a salary and benefits.

I, on the other hand, messed around. I worked, but work never was my central thing. I wasn’t ambitious in any properly American sense of the word. I never expected to be promoted. I was surprised that I got paid so well. I might not have been ambitious, but I was really good at what I did, which was write the crap out of anything technical or sort of technical. Whether it was an article for publication or a manual for users, I wrote it and made sure anyone with half a brain could understand it. And I got paid to do it, which was nice.

Unfortunately, being the least corporate person on Planet Earth, I never got to work for the big companies where they did cool things like provide a pension. I worked for venture capital companies where someone had pitched a great idea and gotten the money to start a company. The companies inevitably lasted exactly as long as the money. When initial funding ended, they fired everyone who wasn’t a family member.

The owners went bankrupt which didn’t mean they were out of money, but rather that they reorganized and restarted under a new company name while the rest of us went job hunting.

So brilliant? Maybe, but what exactly does brilliant mean? It is no guarantee of success in the world. Brilliant may give you ideas and concepts, but it doesn’t necessarily give you business acumen or the kind of diligence you need to make an organization successful … or even make your own financial life a success. I am proof of how brilliance on an I.Q. test is just that. Great at taking tests … but as for the rest of life? That’s a different game entirely.

Yet — I’m a hell of a Trivial Pursuits player and I can write. I can even take pictures. And I can talk you to death. That’s sort of brilliant … isn’t it?

A Reason Not To Worry What Others Think – Reblog With A Concept

Sometimes, when I’m convinced the world hates me, I realize it doesn’t. It doesn’t — on the whole — even know I exist. I’m not sure if that is comforting or the exact opposite, but it reminds me to not worry about what “they” think because they aren’t thinking about me. Whatever they ARE thinking about, I am very far from their main focus.

Except for Garry and our dogs. They think about me. Yay family!

ScienceSwitch

We constantly worry about how we must appear in the minds of others. But the truth is that nobody cares about who we are, what we’re doing and how we’ve messed up.

We are at the center of the galaxy only in our own tortured minds.

Video via – The School of Life
Further Readings and References: What Others Think of You – and The Fall of Icarus (The Book of Life)

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WORLD SHARING IN A COLD MONTH

Share Your World – January 8, 2018


Do you prefer a bath or shower?

I would like to take the occasional bath, but I can’t extract myself from the tub. Gravity gets me down into it, but my sky hook is broken. Nothing will get me up, so showers it is and will be.

What do you do to make a living or during the day? If you are retired what mostly occupies your day? Or if you are a student what are you studying?

Homey scene of me and a camera, two matching Scottish terriers, and sunshine through the picture window. A post-Christmas painting of life in the country.

I write. I take pictures. I process pictures. I read and then I read more. I cook. I pay bills. I organize Life.

I do not believe my dogs are the cutest animals on Planet Earth, but really they are. Bonnie and Gibbs all snuggled up on the sofa were beyond all previous levels of adorable. I took pictures. Garry took pictures. The problem is, the moment you try to get to your camera, they move. Garry crept across the room to grab his and mine, which was just below my arm at the edge of the sofa , but sadly had the wide-angle lens on it. We did the best we could.

I make phone calls for both of us since Garry can’t and even if he could, he won’t. He hates the telephone. He hated it long before mobile phones were invented. You might say he was a pre-technological telephone hater,

Together, we go to doctors – his, mine and of course, the dogs,

Too cute for words.

We laugh at the dogs, watch some TV and united, we wait for the world to thaw, spring to arrive, and a sane government to come into office.

Is there a stuffed animal in your bedroom?

There are a few stuffed animals in the bedroom, but there are a lot more antique dolls including a bunch of historical and Hollywood figure dolls.

See Pluto on the ledge above the bed.

My favorite stuffed critter is a beanbag of Pluto, the Disney dog. He always makes me smile.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  

I’m still appreciating getting my oil delivery. The house is warm. The roof doesn’t leak. The driveway got plowed. There’s food in the freezer and we have lots of coffee, half & half, and I baked a fresh gingerbread. The dogs are content and basically, so are we.

What could be better?

TOO MUCH NOIR – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Dark, rain-glistened streets. Ominous shadows hover in trash littered alleyways. Cats screech in the distance. Gunshots ring out and a body slumps into the gutter.

The world of film noir.

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As a kid, these were the second show in an afternoon at the movies. The “B” movie. Always in black and white, less than 90 minutes. Featuring the nearly-stars such as Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Linda Darnell, and Sterling Hayden.

The titles were straightforward. “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, “This Gun For Hire”, “Kiss of Death”, “The Street With No Name”, “The Narrow Margin,” and “The Killers” among other small films now considered film noir classics.

The people were familiar too. The P.I. (Private Eye). He usually had a five o’clock shadow, chain-smoked, drank cheap whiskey out of the bottle or a paper cup. He worked in a dingy second floor office. The client? Usually a husky voiced, chain-smoking, heavily made up siren out of the Mae West Drama Academy. The P.I’s secretary? A snarky, but good-natured woman who didn’t take crap from her boss, the cops or hoodlums. The Bad Guys? Sleazy, menacing, and homicidal. Think young Richard Widmark, William (Pre-“Life of Riley”) Bendix, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, and probie villain, Lee Marvin. These guys loved to kill.

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There were no happy endings in these film noir classics. The female lead usually was a two-timer who got killed or took the fall in the closing minutes. Mary Astor’s Brigid O’Shaughnessy was straight out of central casting when Bogie’s Sam Spade turned her over to the cops in “The Maltese Falcon.” Spade liked her, but not enough to risk a bullet in the back one lonely night.

Robert Mitchum’s Phillip Marlowe wondered  “Why does everything I touch turn to shit?” in the 70’s reboot of “Farewell, My Lovely”.

I loved the fatalism of these movies, far removed from the glossy romantic dramas featuring Gable, Tracy, Flynn and other major stars of old Hollywood.

For a while, we were watching Netflix’s stable of dark crime dramas. They come from around the world. All share a world-view including lots of death, depression, depravity, brutal murder, and minimal — if any — humor. Locale doesn’t matter. It could be Los Angeles, Denmark, the English countryside, or Sweden. It’s one, dark grim world, everywhere you look.

Recently Watched imageSometime last year, a new streaming service popped up and Marilyn decided it might be just the thing. At $50 for a year, it’s also one of the less expensive streaming services. It shows you everything you might want to see from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and England. Some stuff from Ireland and Scotland too. Heavy on the Australian and Kiwi stuff.

Who imagined we’d get addicted to an Australian soap opera, or fall in love with George Gently? Or become entranced by Murdoch’s Mysteries? But we did. From “MidSomer Murders” to “A Place to Call Home” and “Doc Martin,” we have happily gone deep into British empire dramas, mysteries, and even a few comedies. I can almost understand a New Zealand accent. Almost.

One of the really sweet parts of all of these shows is that they have wit and humor.

Characters develop, change, and grow … something that has become far too rare on American series. And I have to mention the music. American shows mostly have music that is closer to Muzak. There are exceptions, but a lot of the shows — especially from Australia and New Zealand — have amazingly good music. It’s not just background noise. It’s beautiful, evocative, singable. I think they haven’t yet raised the price on Acorn yet.

Acorn is a winner in the streaming market. I don’t know if it shows up on Amazon or Apple TV, but Roku lets you decide what you want to watch instead of telling you what they want you to watch. I highly recommend the Roku, too. The good one with the remote you can point up your nose but it will work anyway. It also works by voice (yours) but I’ve never bothered to “train” ours. I hate arguing with remote controls.

I still love those dark and dangerous film noir folks. But these days, real life is sufficiently grim. I prefer my murders with a bit of laughter.

Cheerio!

Trump Cabinet invokes 25th Amendment

Fresh from “The Dissociative Press,” it’s the truth you yearn to hear …

Views from the Edge

25th_imageNEWS RELEASE

The Dissociative Press
January 7, 2018

Today White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced the decision of the Trump Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald J. Trump from office.

The decision to begin the process of removal from office follows the Cabinet members’ review of the report of the president’s medical examination by an Army physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, a report and decision that move the country closer to  a constitutional crisis.

While the Cabinet was acting on the Army physician’s conclusive medical findings of a personality disorder, rapidly progressing early dementia and other evidence of cognitive impairment, President Trump sent out a series of tweets calling the Walter Reed report a conspiracy by the military, the FBI, and the CIA, the equivalent of a military coup, and declaring he will not…

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