Archive for January, 2011

Letter From New York January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

It has been the long Martin Luther King weekend; a wonderful holiday, coming shortly after Christmas, an opportunity to gather strength for the months ahead, while we are mired in the depths of winter. As I write this, I am curled up cozily in the cottage, classical music playing, laptop on my lap, having listened all afternoon to reports of another storm descending on the region. When I arrived home on Friday, two fresh feet of snow were on my deck and young Nick arrived on Saturday to dig me out. The cold was deeper than usual and it was good to be home, a small fire in the Franklin stove, the lights of the Christmas tree twinkling, reflected in the great sliding doors to the deck. Indulgently, I left the tree up feeling as if I was not yet finished with my joy in it.

Like many, my thoughts over the weekend went to Martin Luther King whose assassination when I was a teenager was another coda in the violent symphonies that were the 1960’s. The year he died, 1968, was the year both he and Robert F. Kennedy were killed by an assassin’s bullets. When he died, I was shocked and saddened, like many, most others. I do not remember how his death was noted at school. I do remember that I asked myself the same question then that I asked myself when John F. Kennedy had been shot five years earlier: what kind of country are we? It was the question I asked myself later that year when RFK was shot and killed in California.

And, of course, it is the question I have asked myself since the shootings in Tucson a week ago. What kind of country are we? I didn’t have an answer in my adolescence when the Kennedys and King were killed and I don’t have an answer now.

I know some things about what makes this country tick, observations gathered from now more years than once I could have imagined. We are a good people. We are violent people. We have our fair share of crackpots, quacks and just plain crazy folks – the man who shot Representative Gifford and eighteen other people, killing six, seems to be just plain crazy, a young man who demonstrated enough evidence of trouble that his school called in his parents to tell them he must have help or he could not attend school. He didn’t get help; he dropped out of school to avoid it and I don’t know what his parents did to respond but now they will live with his actions for the rest of their lives. The photos of him leave me feeling unhinged.

In the shocking aftermath of the killings and the woundings, there has been a quiet that has come across the land. Representative Gifford was the apparent target of the man and her near death has resulted in all sides of the political spectrum to ratchet down the volume of their voices while standing united behind one of their own, whether or not they shared her beliefs.

A billboard in Tucson that described Rush Limbaugh as a “straight shooter” has been taken down. And, once again, the gun laws are being debated while the gun used in the shootings, a Glock, seems to have become very popular, notoriety not a bad thing for sales. The number of requests for gun permits has bumped since then, a result of some fearing that gun laws would become tougher. [Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen.]

Sarah Palin made a speech; I didn’t listen. But some pundits think it may have done her in as a Presidential hopeful. Obama made a speech in Tucson that has caused his approval rating to spike – and for some to remember his glowing oratory of the 2008 campaign with Democrats hoping this is the moment he returns to focus.

Perhaps Tucson is another coda, a finishing of another symphony in our history. But like others, it must be filled with prayers for victims, living and dead.

Letter From New York January 13, 2011

January 14, 2011

Are you still there?

You may have noticed that some time has gone by since there has been a letter from New York.

The great quiet started on my birthday, last November 18th. I had written a letter, all full of musings about birthdays, aging, the gift of life and all sorts of other things of grand import, I am sure. It still sits on my desktop, a reminder of the day the laptop began to die. A MacBook no less. I thought MacBooks were invulnerable, indestructible – an illusion created carefully by those folks at Apple, purveyors of fine electronics.

Alas, it was not true! On my birthday, no less, the faithful MacBook began to slide into eternity. I could not send out my letter, my mailing list was in a piece of frozen software.
A wonderful Mac technician, Manca, struggled mightily to save it. First there was one new hard drive. I rebuilt my mailing list but alas, alack and more to be pitied than censured, that hard drive died a premature death. The MacBook was rendered useless and I had fallen far down the queue for the tech team’s rescue response. They had grown deaf to my strident calls for HELP!

Eventually, with the MacBook gone, really gone, unable to even limp bravely forward, I found myself in the possession of a new MacBook PRO. But because there is a small debate going on within the office about what software should be installed upon the new machines we’re all getting [moving to an all Mac office are we] that a temporary software solution was installed which is – oh, I don’t have words to describe my feelings about what it does and doesn’t do. It’s virtual you see, software that really isn’t there and one of the things it doesn’t do is build email lists.
Tossed out into the wilderness on my own, I searched for a solution and quickly came to the one used by many a small email list – Constant Contact and once more I plunged in and rebuilt my list, with hope that with it now living in the cloud it would always be there for me, so long as I paid my bills.

So you are receiving this letter because in my memory you once upon a time received my letter. You’re getting this because I have made my best guess as to who was on the list and if you don’t want to be [oh, here I fear rejection but it must be so, say the rules of the game (be brave, Mathew)] let me know and I will remove you from my list and the Letter From New York will only be digital dust as far as you are concerned.

Seriously, thanks to those folks who did miss it and let me know. It will be back next week in its usual vein, tempered I am sure by my having been silent for a bit, freed to think and after having progressed through one of the finest holiday seasons of my life.

Hope yours was too.