Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Bachman’

Letter From New York

April 29, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun is setting but you can only tell because the light is fading.  The glorious weekend of sun and warmth in the Hudson Valley is ending in a curtain of grey that descended a couple of hours ago.  Below me the creek flows clear and clean, having glistened all weekend with sun sparkles dancing on its waters.  A magnificent bald eagle perched for a half hour or so on one of the embankment’s trees.  I watched him peruse the land before he spread giant wings and flew to the north, low along the creek, seeking prey I suppose.

Prey.  I wonder if that is how the Boston Bombers thought of the people that were killed and wounded?  Prey:  a person or thing that is hunted.  Prey is what people around the world have become, hunted by individuals who wish to do indiscriminate harm to a general population with whom they disagree for some reason.

Back in Iraq [remember Iraq?] the Sunnis are being preyed upon with lots of car bombs.  In Afghanistan, something is blowing up on what seems like a daily basis.  Syria.  Well, Syria is the whole caboodle – bombs, rockets, IUD’s.  Nerve gas?  May be.  The Israelis and the French say so and the Obama administration is carefully considering its opinion and its options as it once said: nerve gas use is one step too far, the red line, the Rubicon. 

Shootings go on unabated in this country – and elsewhere.  Italy had two policemen shot as the new government was sworn in. 

We have a cornucopia of violence in the world. 

After my last letter, a good friend asked me if all this made me angry as well as sad.  OF COURSE it makes me angry.  And what is frustrating is to whom do I direct my anger?  At Congress, for failing to pass background checks even though 90% of the country seemed to want them, according to polls.  Yes, I am angry at Congress and background checks are only part of the reason I am angry at Congress.  This bunch seems to be a particularly inept set of boobs but then Washington somehow has always seemed to attract an inept set of boobs.  Another friend of mine, in her brief time in Washington, sat next to a Senator only to realize he was one of the stupidest men she had ever encountered.  How do we elect stupid people?  And we do, not always, but we do.  How else do you explain Michelle Bachman?

And it is not just the U.S. that has this problem.  Every democracy seems to have this problem.  It seems one of the issues with democracy.  Go back to the Greeks.  I’m sure they had their fair share of elected boobs. 

Last night I was at a dinner and found myself silent while listening to people talk about gun control.  I said nothing because there was no room in what was being said for a dissenting opinion.  Minds were made up and I wasn’t ready to spoil a pleasant social gathering with a dissenting opinion in a room that had no space for it.  And that made me sad.  We’re polarized and unable to discuss opposing opinions.

Yet, interestingly, I found myself in all of this, a greater admirer of America than I usually am – and I have been aware of how fortunate we are since I was a kid, returning from Honduras.  There I was confronted with how lucky I was as a middle class American kid.  I had hot water every day.  I had my own bedroom, my own bathroom.  I had…so much, in comparison.

And despite all our faults, our boobs in Congress, our rapacious corporations and their lobbyists, we are still an amazing experiment in the history of the world.  Flawed and faulted, I admit, but still an amazing experiment still being worked on in the laboratory. 

As the night turns from grey to black, here at Claverack Cottage, I am hoping we continue to experiment and that we find success in the laboratory of history.





Letter From New York August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning…

Saturday morning when I woke up, the sky to the east of Claverack Cottage was painted a pale primrose red and I thought of the sailor’s warning. I had taken the 5:45 train out of Manhattan on Friday, headed north, to batten down the hatches, so to speak, for the storm of the century.

I filled my bathtub with water so I could, if needed, flush the toilets. I took, with the help of young Nick from Hudson, things off the deck and piled them in the shed. Turned over the Adirondack chairs and the heaters so they couldn’t blow over in the wind. Bought bottled water and checked to make sure I had enough batteries for my flashlights and pulled out the emergency suitcase with the wind-up radio. I was as ready as I could be.

It was not quite the storm of the century. New York City made it through pretty unscathed, though a friend told me there were downed trees everywhere. Large parts of New Jersey were under water according to Governor Christie. And we got off easily because it was so bad in North Carolina, according to CNN.

I am at the cottage and not sure when I will get back to New York as the trains aren’t running though things should be better by Wednesday latest.

So there was Hurricane Irene. Earlier in the week there had been an earthquake that rumbled things from North Carolina up to Maine. I was sitting in an Italian restaurant and didn’t feel a thing but most of New York did. In the restaurant, cell phones went off. It started a round of stories at every table of earthquakes experienced, mostly in California.

Jokes abounded toward the end of the week. Earthquake. Hurricane. Michelle Bachman. Rick Perry. Could we not interpret these as portends of the end of times? Probably. Perhaps it is the end of times. Certainly some evangelical Christians are saying these ARE the end of times. The Mayan Calendar ends next year around my birthday and there are those who believe that because the Mayan Calendar goes no further, it means we all will hit the wall.

Me? Well, it could be the end of times. I frankly don’t know. Can’t do much about it if it is the end of times. I am, right now, along for whatever the ride is.

Sometimes I think about that on very rough airplane flights. I’m there. I’m can’t do much about it; I am on for the ride.

But in the meantime, I am caught in the fact I am alive and death has not taken a holiday lately. My friend Chris Doyle, written about last week, is still gone. Another friend, Susan Panisch, once an executive at a network I dealt with, died last week, after the earthquake but before the hurricane. Well one day, diagnosed with lymphoma another, dead in three weeks. Will miss her.

Carolyn Chambers, once my boss, then my friend, gone too. Cancer also. Time takes our friends and colleagues, our relatives, our co-workers. It takes everyone, eventually, including ourselves, who live as if we will live forever even though we really know no one gets out of here alive.

But we do our best to live as fully as we can, at least I hope we do.

Though sometimes we don’t, just because we think we will live forever. I had a conversation with a friend this week; he had asked a favor of me. I told him I was glad to do it. I told him he was a remarkable human being. He was taken aback that I said it but I also felt the beating of the wings of the angel of death and did not want to leave unsaid what we so often leave unsaid, the beauty of the people we know and love.

Take heed of that, fellow travelers. Don’t look at someone’s casket and say: I wish I had told them.

Send flowers while people can still smell them.