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Friday, January 20, 2017

A Few Scattered Thoughts on Inauguration Day

Jan 20, 2017

Hello, Readers. If you’ve come to me for some insight into our country’s future, I got nuthin’. Ok, not entirely true. Maybe because it’s my name, I do have hope. Two steps forward, one step back. That’s hope, right? One step forward, two steps back? Cannot go there. This election may be one step back, but, as ass-backward a way to move forward as that little dance may be, it is still moving forward.  As I said to the college student over lunch at Psychedelicatessen in Troy, I can’t say there’s a time in the past I would like to return to. Unless it would be 2015, so we could redo the primaries. But era-wise, no thank you. I mean, c’mon, surely the existence of a bagel, sandwich, and coffee shop called Psychedelicatessen represents progress. Peace, love, acid, and bagels all mixed together and mainstream? 

If you’ve come to me for some solid tips for success, I got none of those either. But I do have a story. A little one. Last week I spoke to a woman I know whose granddaughter was going to participate in Miss Teen New York. Her granddaughter has been going on the pageant circuit. She’s been Miss Altamont several times and won many local and small, regional awards. Anyway, it’s a whole scene, the pageant scene, full of hairstylists and wardrobe people and make-up and photography and entry fees and accomations, all of it very expensive. This girl, who’s about to turn 18 made it to the state level. She earned all the money herself through hard work and GoFundMe and you name it. This week, I asked how the pageant went. Well, she didn’t make it to the finals. She was devastated. All that money and time she had spent came to nothing. 

But at least she learned something, said grandma.

Yes, she learned a lot. She learned how to set a goal, how to go about achieving it, how to take on a challenge. She also learned a lot about performance, dress, and self-presentation, as well as a bit about a particular industry. The outcome was not in her control, but she took control of the process and propelled herself as far as she could. Last, she learned how to handle disappointment. 

Which means, of course, going into a depression and getting therapy. 

No? Not always? Of course not, people! It means you put on that Chumbawumba song, pull out the inspirational quotations and get back up again. 

Maybe you follow my example and pull out the little foil package your sister-in-law gave you for Christmas, the little foil package containing a Korean face mask. You do this because you’re curious, and because you don’t want to wait for a special occasion to spruce up the ‘ole face. You figure any day’s a good enough day to try out this special face mask. 

Definitely didn't expect an actual mask!

If you’ve come to me for frivolity, then you are in luck. Because aside from working on my memoir, I’ve been busy with other things. Like watching “Auntie Mame” with the college student. Her suggestion, which was surprising in a way, since the whole family quotes from the movie quite often, and her father (the husband) and I do so almost daily. “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death,” is Mame’s motto. She’s clearly referring to Epictetus, mentioned in this post. For Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher living in the Roman Empire said, “Remember that in life you ought to behave as at a banquet. Suppose that something is carried round and is opposite to you. Stretch out your hand and take a portion with decency.” 

Thought. Auntie Mame, by the way, also abhored bigotry, racism, and anti-semitism. Even if she was a member of the East Coast Liberal Elite. Or especially because she was a member of it. Auntie Mame, in fact, is a fiction based on a man - Patrick Dennis - as anyone who has read Uncle Mame knows. 

Okay. Thought. 
Hate the system, not the person. 
Remember Rump is a product of our system. We have to change the system if we want to prevent Rump and future Rumps. 

The husband is reading a three volume biography of Winston Churchill. At some point early in Churchill’s career, he met with Bourke Cockran, an Irish American lawyer and congressman in the “Tammany Wigwam.” I am in no position to tell you anything about the Tammany Wigwam. I will have to ask the husband at a later date. At the writing of this post, he was dictating the following terrific and inspiring quotation to me:

In a society where there is democratic tolerance and freedom under the law, many kinds of evils will crop up, but give them a little time and they usually breed their own cure. 

Thought. I don’t know if Bourke Cockran, being part of Tammany Hall, might have been speaking about himself - I’m guessing the Wigwam was an anti-corruption unit of that corrupt institution, but that is just a guess - but Winston Churchill made note of it. He found it wise, and if Winston Churchill found it wise, I will hang my hope upon it. I encourage you to do so, too. 

Got my game face on. Let's march!

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