30 September 2010

How Many More Must Die?

If hypocrites didn't preach damnation of gays while engaging in same-sex relationships...

... would two students have thought it appropriate to broadcast videos of their classmate kissing another boy?

If Congress wouldn't keep stalling on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...

... would a college student think there was shame in being seen kissing another boy?

If gays could marry...

... would a young man have been so upset by the broadcast as to jump off a bridge?

If gays and lesbians had full legal rights, acceptance would follow, slowly in some quarters, never in others, but inexorably across the nation. A generation or two hence, we might even elect our first gay or lesbian president.

In the words of Melissa Etheridge,
If not now, when?
If not today, then...
What about tomorrow?
What about tomorrow?
Meanwhile, my heart is broken for the family of that young man.

29 September 2010

Week Five: NOW

(That means, by the way, that it's week four of the semester. How has it gone so fast?)

This week: two round-trips by train. All the time sitting in traffic last week got to me. Plus, the time riding the bike along the East River bike path at one end, and along quiet NJ streets at the other, and getting work done in between, makes taking the train as often as possible a no-brainer.

How long can it go on? Who knows? It's not just last winter's mystery illness; the chronic asthma means that when I come down with a cold, I'm almost always in for a few weeks of bronchitis, which brings activity to a grinding halt.

Still trying not to think about that part. Trying not to think about the classes I can't teach and the meetings I can't attend when that happens, trying not to think about all the slack my colleagues and The Mate end up picking up while I'm lying around catching my breath.

Trying to focus on NOW. NOW, I can ride, I can walk, I can do my work, I can walk The Pet at the end of the day, I can teach my classes, I can run out to the bodega for bananas, I can walk The Offspring to school.

When -- If -- I have to make adjustments to what I can do, I'll cope with that THEN. And I'll try to do so without the guilt.

27 September 2010

Facing Down Fear

As the fall semester gets underway, I'm living with an undercurrent of fear.

It's not necessarily a reasonable fear: if I do get sick again this winter, I'll know about a lot of things that it isn't, and I'll certainly try antibiotics right away even if it doesn't look like other people's bronchitis or pneumonia.

A good life does not require good health; I've known that for a long time.

Having a chronic illness, especially one that's reasonably well controlled through medical care available by way of good health insurance, may limit certain activities. The Mate's medication means he has to avoid alcohol. The Offspring's food allergies make life interesting. My own asthma, often triggered by allergies, means I can't go places with cigarette smoke, cats, or a fireplace.

Fortunately, these are relatively minor restrictions.

I'm trying to stay focused on this: right now, I'm in good health. If I get sick, then it will be time to work on getting better again. For now, fear is doing me no good.

23 September 2010

Week Four

It was dicey this week. Wednesday is usually my train day because I have lots of meetings but no classes, and I can usually make the day a little shorter.

But yesterday my first meeting started at 10 a.m., and my last one didn't end until 7 p.m. If I were going to take the train to work, that meant getting up at six so I could get out the door at 7 -- just as The Offspring is waking up -- and then not getting home again until 10:30 p.m., long after the boy's bedtime.

So I drove. It took me more than two hours. Which was only a little longer than it took the previous day. So in two days, I spent well over an extra hour trapped behind the steering wheel. And I had stuff to read for classes today, and I just couldn't face getting in the car again.

So after my last meeting yesterday, I walked the two miles to the train station in New Jersey. I got on the train and looked out the window: STORM! Impressive lightning and lots of rain. I looked at my dry-clean-only clothing and wondered about the likelihood of actually getting a cab at the World Trade Center, at the other end of the commute.

(No: no umbrella, no rain gear. I hadn't thought that far ahead.)

But when I got off the train in Manhattan, it was just drizzling. So I carefully folded up my blazer and tucked it into my backpack and started walking toward the subway stop. It stopped raining altogether within five minutes, so I just went ahead and walked the two miles home.

Oh, and I got most of the reading done on the way home, and finished on the train on the way back to school this morning. All of that left me feeling much better than I feel after a drive. And the timing of the rain storm left me feeling a little charmed.

19 September 2010

September Hike

Seen on Dunderberg Mountain today:

turkey vultures, drifting overhead on the breezes
blue-tailed skink
black rat snake
various dragonflies
one big hornet's nest
a tree suspended in mid-air where it fell between three others
small turtle
two unused rail tunnels, one unfinished
New York City in the hazy distance

No pictures to show for it. Just a great day out with The Offspring.

16 September 2010

Picture .... 1000 Words....

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine created this graphic a couple of years ago:

Don't like that use of your tax dollars? Write to your representative. Get your friends to write to their representatives. It's the only thing that will have any impact against the food lobby.

15 September 2010

Week Three

For all of the obvious reasons, I'm trying to limit driving. But I've got this pesky commute of 55 miles, one way.

For the last several years I've spent a night, sometimes two, in a hotel near the office each week as a way to eliminate one of the round-trip drives, but that has the drawbacks that I don't get to go home, and there's the environmental impact involved with washing sheets and towels and cleaning a room, all for one night's use.

Enter this:
... which folds up into this:
It was, as I like to tell anyone who will listen, a Mother's Day gift from The Mate.

This semester, I've made a commitment to myself to take the train to work round-trip at least once a week. What that means?

I leave home at 8 a.m., ride the little bike to the World Trade Center Path Station, fold it up for a trip on the Path (excuse me... the PATH) to Newark where I switch to New Jersey Transit to get to Long Branch, and then unfold the little machine again to ride to my office, arriving around 10:40.

Yep. It's a long sentence. And it's an even longer trip. And at the end of the day, I turn around and do it backwards. But I do get to read, nap, or just stare out the window, rather than having to drive my car.

This week, I made the trip for the third time this semester, if I get to count the department meeting before the start of the term. I'll post updates occasionally about my success, or failure, at keeping this up in the weeks to follow.

11 September 2010

How Many Times...

In the early twentieth century, Americans demonized eastern European Jewish immigrants. In the 1940s, Japanese citizens and legal residents were interned in camps. In the 1950s, it was anti-Communist fervor.

Today, Muslims.

I'm finding it painful to be an American, to hear the current discourse at various levels of American society that equates Islam with terrorism and claims Muslims don't value human life.

I feel as though I'm complicit with that discourse at any time that I'm not actively countering it.

Will we ever learn from our own history?