Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On an Unwelcoming Universe

David Brooks ("It's Not About You") speaks of college graduates entering a universe that they are not ready for, and which is not ready for them. He finds these young people to be ill formed, overprotected and unprepared. He paints a less than flattering image of them as children, and by extension, of us as parents.

The truth is that nothing looks right in the world these days. When times are difficult, as they are now, dreams and passions seem silly and inconsequential. Mr. Brooks would suggest that these graduates wake up and face the reality of their limits and the of boundaries that the world will impose upon them. I would suggest that Mr. Brooks should not be so cynical and depressing.

These graduates will learn, as all the generations before them did, that everything and everyone does not revolve around them. They will discover, on their own, that dreams and passions are fluid, that they change and re-form, are damaged and often disappear. They will come to know that the world can be unforgiving and challenging in ways they now scarcely imagine. But, Mr. Brooks, just because times are bad, don't tell them to stop dreaming, to stop being passionate. Don't take away the fire in their bellies and the light in their eyes. Don't advise them not to be special, not to be unique. Give them at least the chance to believe they can make a difference. Give them a chance to learn who they are and who they will become.

Yes, the world is hard, and it is particularly hard for the college graduates of today. Don't make it any harder.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Toupee

The toupee sat atop its styrofoam head in the bathroom. Its job was done for the day, and this meant that my mom and dad had gone to bed for the evening. If I knocked on the door and entered in my parents' bedroom to wish them a good night, my dad would drape his arm over the top of his head, as though trying to hide the truth of his perceived imperfection.

I am 59 and I will soon mark the 32nd Father's Day since I last saw that toupee. It always surprised me that my Dad chose to alter his look. For when I viewed him, I saw a handsome, funny, articulate, productive, passionate, protective, supremely bright man who needed no tweaking, no revisions. How could I imagine that he would have some of the same insecurities and doubts that plague most of the rest of us? Only after his death did my mom speak of my dad never believing and understanding all that was so exceptional about him. Only after his death could I gain some comprehension of why that toupee entered his life, and mine.

I am a numbers person, but it is hard for me to fathom that so much of my life has been spent without seeing that toupee. Each day I still fervently wish it served a purpose and rose to spend time with someone who showed all of us the best this universe has to offer.

The last time I saw my dad before he passed away, he was lying in a hospital bed. He was too sick at that moment to care how the world viewed him. The toupee was no where in evidence, and he did not cover his head with his arm. It was an image that haunts me over 3 decades later.

So, on this 32nd Father's Day that isn't, I remember that toupee with much fondness. It gave me many a laugh as it sat motionless, staring at me in the bathroom. I only hope that it appreciated the greatness to which it had attached itself. On a December day in 1979, the toupee firmly upon my father's head, was laid to rest.

If I could tell my dad one thing on this Father's Day, it would be that he never needed that toupee to cover his faults, for in my eyes he was perfect without it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Has Anyone Seen My Photo ID?

("G.O.P. Legislators Move to Tighten Rules on Voting")

Give the Republicans credit for being relentless. Here we go again with the voter fraud scare. It doesn't really rank up there with death panels, but it is hard to hit a home run every time at bat.

Untold thousands of elderly, as well as impoverished African Americans and Latinos lose the privilege the constitution guarantees them due to the misdirection created by the Republican machine. As reported in the NY Times, an investigation from 2002 to 2007 by the Justice Department, initiated at the request of then President Bush, found a total of 86 convictions for this crime (" In 5 Year Effort ,Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud", April 12, 2007) . Most reported incidents related to mistakes in completing forms or in understanding eligibility requirements. There were 122 million votes cast in the 2004 election. In short, it was the problem that wasn't then and isn't now.

While elections are immensely impacted by Republicans who stuff the pockets of candidates with vast amounts of corporate monies, while gerrymandering runs rampant, while voter intimidation is sure to keep many away, and while confusing or misleading ballots will further effect outcomes, the Republicans try to divert our attention from all of this.

Republican legislators speak of "preserv(ing) the integrity of the ballot box" by setting these voter eligibility requirements. Here, as in so many other areas, integrity and Republican seem like mutually exclusive terms. The only fraud committed here is by the party raising this issue

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Credit Undue

"Don't Scorn Paul Ryan" correctly asserts that controlling the costs of Medicare is critical. But the fact that there needs to be debate about this program does not mean that the debate should be centered where Mr. Ryan suggests. The Democrats were the ones who started this discussion in 2009 when they spoke of ways to rein in costs of care. They contended, and still believe, that the principal way to attack this issue is by study and a determination of where the waste can be cut out of the system.

For that, they were scorned and ridiculed by the Republicans who utilized the opportunity to completely misrepresent the motives and goals of the Democrats. The famous "death panels" that never were, became the rallying cry for those who tried to decimate, if not eradicate, what they derisively now refer to as "Obamacare".

Don't give Mr. Ryan credit for initiating a serious debate by merely attempting to shift the burden of spiraling costs onto the backs of the elderly. Mr. Ryan's proposal passes on these phantom savings to the most well-to-do by way of tax cuts, even though this trickle-down theory has proven ineffective time and again. Enough with the pat on the back for a good try. Mr. Nocera is right that Mr. Ryan may not deserve our scorn, but that certainly does not mean that he deserves even the most infinitesimally small amount of our praise.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An Open Invitation to Sarah Palin

"Palin to Begin Public Tour this Weekend"

Dear Ms. Palin:

I am so excited to learn of your "One Nation" bus tour beginning this weekend in Washington, and leading eventually to New Hampshire. Along the way we are told you will be visiting historical and cultural East Coast sights. For reasons only you know, the times and places of your stops are undisclosed. I hope it is not because you feel that many in this part of the country find your views unfounded and inappropriate.

Speaking of views, I have a proposal for a perfect stop in my neighborhood, Fort Lee, New Jersey. The Fort Lee Historical Park sits merely feet away from the George Washington Bridge. Your tour bus will certainly travel Route 95 and will pass within spitting distance of this site. If you disembark, you will (as the website reports) find a "bluff where the Continental Army positioned its batteries over the Hudson in 1776". Each year we celebrate a day where many garbed in the attire of that era parade through this park.

I know how much you like to enjoy beautiful vistas (like being able to see Russia from near your home in Alaska) and I can tell you that from this perch you will have an unimpeded and spectacular view of the New York City skyline. At that moment, you will be able to connect to a spot of great historical significance for this country, and gaze out at the greatest city in the world (unfortunately one that neither understands your politics or your attraction to so many).

While I know the thrill would not be the same as your shooting at animals from your perch in a plane, the next best thing would be to stand high above the Hudson, as the first leader of our country did over 200 years ago, and take pot-shots at your critics in the Big Apple.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you will accept my sincere invitation. Hoping to see you in my backyard, so we can celebrate together this Memorial Day weekend and discuss why you believe you would make an acceptable President for a country so in need of something other than extreme right wing politics and policy.

Where is the Bravery?

Mr. Brooks ("Medicare Survival Guide") writes of the Republican party being punished for being brave on the issue of entitlements. Where is the bravery in the Ryan plan? Where is the bravery in the party itself?

Who among them will address the hard issues like the hand outs to the pharmaceutical companies? Who among them has taken on big oil? Who among them is willing to stabilize an economy in trouble off the backs of the wealthy, not the old, the sick or the impoverished? Who among them has suggested that the Supreme Court went a step too far in the Citizens United decision? Who among them will say that the issue of raising the debt ceiling is not the time or place to play chicken with this country's well being? Who among them will be the first to govern not to bring down the Democrats but to bring up this nation? Who among them is willing to denounce the Tea Party for what it really is, intellectually bankrupt? Who among them is willing to govern from the middle and not the extreme right?

There was no bravery in Mr.Ryan's plan. There was just more of the old Republican theory of catering to the rich and leaving the rest to fend for themselves, packaged in a new box. No, Mr. Brooks, this was not the Republicans being harmed because they threatened to be different, but only because they refused to be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Less Than Universal Caring

("Gaining Upset, Democrat Wins New York Seat")

New York's most conservative district can thank Paul Ryan for this morning finding itself in Democratic hands. I applaud those life long Republicans who found that Mr. Ryan and his cronies made a serious error in judgment in seeking to attack and dismantle Medicare.

For many of those who otherwise consider themselves Republicans, their ballot yesterday was a call to preserve the government's expansive role in protecting a portion of our population from battling on their own against the ravages of an incomprehensible and unrelentingly harsh health care system. However, for these same people, permitting the government to protect the rest of the population in this country in a similar manner would be considered socialism and utterly unthinkable. Leave logic at the doorstep on your way in to this universe.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Guardian ( A Lullaby)

Rest now, and dry your eyes
Let sleep envelop you
Dream now, of better times
Lie still and be renewed

Rest safe here in my arms
Be silent and serene
Rest safe here from all harm
Be quiet and at peace

And when the night's descended and all around seems dark
And when there just appears no where to go
Know I'll be there to guide you and bring you to the light
Know I'll be there to bring you safely home

My darling close your eyes
I'm standing watch tonight
My darling still your cries
I'm here to make all right

When you wake I'll be there
Still on guard for you
When you wake have no fear
For I will protect you

For when the night's descended and all around seems dark
For when there just appears no where to go
Know I'll be there to guide you and bring you to the light
Know I'll be there to bring you safely home.

The Fear of Forgetting

"Our Irrational Fear of Forgetting" minimizes the devastating impact of memory loss. My mother is 93 and I have watched her disappear, step by agonizing step, over the past years. I look each day for the light that still shines within her, but it is often hard to find. She has lost time and place, and the world has become an unrecognizable blur to her.

Advances in modern medicine now allow our old to become ever older. The problem is that we are outliving our bodies and our minds. It is not anything that an attitude adjustment can fix. As my family copes daily with the hardships that have become a given in my mom's existence, it does make those of us who watch and suffer with her and for her, fearful. Burden is a harsh word, but it is something that my mother desperately wants not to be, and it is something that we hope never to be to our children.

Losing much of one's identity to a disease for which there are no answers does generate very rational concerns. I remember my mom, many years ago, before she exhibited any signs of noticeable deterioration, complaining about her inability to recall and retrieve. I always assured her it was nothing. But now, when I am unable to remember information, or my wife is unable to complete a thought, it raises the spectre of something much larger. Our children already have had discussions with us as to the scope of their role when we are in decline.

So, while "Forget Memory, Try Imagination" is a catchy slogan, it does not allay my trepidation. For those who have been touched by the tragedy of Alzheimer's or dementia, who watch mothers and fathers or grandparents diminish and fade away, fear is a natural, and very rational, response.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


(" A Summer to Simmer")

The recession that strangles this nation, does not appear ready to loosen its grip. We wake up each morning to the reality of yet one more day in which unemployment is rampant, health care is withheld from an enormous portion of our population while coverage for the rest is woefully inadequate and incomprehensibly complicated, housing foreclosures have blighted entire regions, and the imbalance between those who have and those who don't is monumental and growing larger.

The chasm between the fundamental beliefs of our political parties has stymied any efforts to make meaningful progress on so many fronts, and we remain in constant pain.

In a time such as this, events of the moment serve merely to distract. Recent seismic happenings in the Middle East, North Africa, Japan are of consequence today but only part of the landscape tomorrow. The personal failings of a former governor of California or the former leader of the IMF are just temporary fodder. When we are living under the weight of a population struggling to survive, everything else ultimately seems of little consequence.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why Put Off Til Tomorrow

If tomorrow is really the end of the world, at least I am at a Yankee- Met game tonight. My list of other things to do VERY quickly.

1. Get off this diet and have an enormous double cheeseburger, fries and of course a diet coke as I don't want to think I am really pigging out.

2. Write my definitive masterpiece. Sending 3 paragraphs to the NY Times often enough that they are sometimes compelled to put my words in print does not constitutes a masterpiece.

3. Visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Can I really consider myself a baseball fan if I have never even contemplated doing this?

4. Perform something profoundly good for the entire planet. Even though this would be of absolutely no long term significance, I have always believed that I had the capacity to be of assistance, and well, better late than never.

5. Promote world peace day. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our last day on earth was one was there was no killing?

6. Dismantle the Republican party.

7. Get laser eye surgery. It would be nice to wake up in the morning and be able to read the numbers on the clock.

8. Go see "Book of Mormon". Again.

9. Watch "It's A Wonderful Life". Again.

10. Be helpful around the house without me having to be reminded about what it was that I was supposed to do, and promised to do, but never did.

11. Get a good night's sleep, without being interrupted several times to have to go to the bathroom.

12. Post a notice on the door of my office that I am taking a short vacation but will return the day after tomorrow.

13. Learn how to operate a smart phone so I don't feel so dumb.

14. Have a "Last Supper" with everyone I love or admire, and anyone who has been willing to overlook my eccentricities. As long as I can eat a double cheeseburger, fries and of course, drink a diet coke.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Death by Numbers

I survey the landscape of death that now consumes the middle East and North Africa. Protests and killings have become a fact of life in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Kuwait, Somalia, Morocco and Jordan. We have been numbed to the death tolls in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan has become the most recent focus of an inevitable death march.

I was born in 1952. Where has death by intention, through wars and armed conflicts taken this world since I entered it? From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the Korean Peninsula, to Southeast Asia and Sudan we have seen battles where some estimate of casualties in each of these areas of the world approaches or exceeds 1,000,000. The Iran-Iraq war may also have the dubious honor of joining the one million plus club.

Genocides have decimated populations in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, Guatemala, Iraq, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Argentina, China and Zanzibar. Drug wars have eradicated thousands in Mexico.

Israel and its neighbors have been in a continual struggle since the time of my birth. Short and violent conflicts have dotted the history of this region. Death is always seemingly but waiting at the doorstep.

In my lifetime I have only viewed paintings of our world in the blood red of death by numbers. I wonder if I will ever see a canvas filled with the colors of peace.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Enemy Within

Some time ago President Obama made an unfortunate choice in his words, which he almost never does. He was chastised for referring to those on the other side of the political aisle as enemies. But the truth is that these people are enemies as they find every opportunity to threaten war, and raise the possibility of armageddon.

Whether or not to authorize the government to pay the bills it has incurred does not seem a rational battleground. To put the nation in harm's way voluntarily is contrary to the obligation of those that govern us. But the Republican party has long since abandoned rational thought as a predicate for their actions. We have no respect for a party which allows its most radical elements to mis-direct this into government by confrontation.

Mr. Krugman challenges the President and his party to draw a line in the sand. But the reality is that this President is a rational man who knows that we cannot risk the damage to our nation in a long and bloody fight over raising the debt ceiling. So, his economic policies, and the safety net that we provide to the elderly and the less fortunate among us, will continue to be the ultimate victims, as he sacrifices in the name of peace.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Graduation Day

This was an idea of her own making. She looked forward to the 20 minute car ride one night a week. At her destination, she climbed the stairs to the second floor classroom. She surveyed a landscape of teachers, nurses, graduate students. She was 12 years old. But she wanted to learn how to sign, and so, in this room full of people almost twice her size, and more than twice her age, she sat and listened. And participated. And learned. And fit right in.

She never lost that passion. So many of us cling to an idea of who we are, or what we are meant to be, for but a brief moment and then move on. Not her.

Her resume is filled to overflowing. From that first experience almost 15 years ago, to this Tuesday, when she receives her graduate school diploma and becomes a speech and language pathologist, she sought out opportunities to help. She has worked with the less fortunate, the less-abled, in as many settings as time and circumstance would permit. Each experience has brought wonderful reports from those who monitor her. She has been imbued with a generosity of spirit.

There is something significant about people who are not frightened or disquieted by difference, but are drawn to it.

Those who look upon my daughter on that stage will see only the culmination of all those years of effort and dedication. I will see that little girl walking out of the car, opening the door into her own universe.

I have told her that congratulations is not a word that remotely does justice. As a parent, and as an observer of everything that she is and she will surely be, I am filled with a most profound sense of joy and the deepest feeling of gratitude.

Friday, May 13, 2011


The morning was busy being busy doing what it does
The coffee ground and the tea kettled
From nothing there was motion and commotion all around
And she watched silently through it all

Inside her room, inside her head, inside her
There was a deep quiet
It clung fiercely to her like a passionate lover
And she watched silently through it all

The shower showered and the soap dispensed
There were things that mattered that couldn't wait, wouldn't wait
There were conversations hanging in the air
And she watched silently through it all

For her life exists in its own place
In the smallest parts the others passed right by
She would let them be what they had to be
As she watched silently through it all

And while the toast toasted and the jam jammed
As the door opened and closed again and again
When everything demanded attention and everyone attended
She watched silently through it all

For her life exists in its own space
In the smallest parts the others passed right by
She would let them be what they had to be
As she watched silently through it all

She knew more than others thought to ask
The answers resting at her feet
As they went about the business of being busy
She watched silently through it all.

For her life exists in its own place
For her life exists in its own space
For her life exists with its own pace
For her life exists

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Magical Golf Ball



The familiar sounds and sights would disappear overnight. There would be no more cursing, no club throwing, no excuses that are so fundamentally part of the experience. The mulligan would fade into obscurity. It would be as if hell was no more. If there was no darkness, how would one understand and appreciate the light?

"A Golf Ball That Won't Slice Comes with a Catch: It's Illegal" creates a world where achievement loses its meaning. Most often after I finish a round of golf, I am disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted. Last weekend, the stars magically aligned, and so did my stance and my swing. Normally, it takes a fistful of gimme putts and the bending and twisting of the rules of golf to fit my circumstances, to finish with a score that I can announce to an apathetic general public. But, for one magical afternoon, none of that was needed, and when the scorecard showed but 74 strokes at day's end, it was authentic and immensely satisfying.

Keep your Polara ball. I don't want to tee it up with Tiger and the others until I deserve it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On the Issue of "Assassinations"

The logic is bewildering. Mr. Douthat ("Whose Foreign Policy Is It?"), no more than a shill for those who have brought us 10 years of unrelenting bloodshed, now criticizes limited and defined actions intended to do damage only to those like Bin Laden and al-Awlaki who are our avowed enemies, and absurdly equates Bush's legacy with Obama's recent actions.

Rising from the ashes of 9/11 was a foreign policy which promoted indiscriminate death. Predicated on lies, we went into battle against those who took no part in our loss of nearly 3000 that one sunny morning in September. The Bush decision to invade Iraq was thoughtless, baseless and monumentally wrong

We were attacked, and continue to be subject to attack, by a confederacy of a small band of individuals, not by nations. In directing efforts, whether by Navy seals or predator Drones, to take down those individuals, we see the kind of action that is rational in purpose and targeted in ways that the Bush policy was not.

In answer to the question, don't lay the foreign policy blunders of Iraq and Afghanistan at the feet of a president who did not create but only inherited them. However, do give full responsibility and credit to President Obama for trying to limit the focus, and direct the power of this nation, at those whose stated mission is to seek our annihilation.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Gift from the Gods

My golf bag held much more than the 14 clubs. It was filled with the disappointing swings, the discouraging putts, the dismembering of my ego. It was a very heavy load to carry around with me. Last season was unrelentingly bad.

I had no earthly reason to expect what happened yesterday. This had to be divine intervention. It was to be my first full round of golf of the season. My only other attempt had ended, mercifully, after but 2 holes, as my aching back gave me an excuse to put away my bag, and all its excess baggage.

Now, the back, if not the mind, had healed enough to let me try it again. I stood at the first tee, renewing acquaintances with many old friends and bad habits. I made certain that I was in the last group, as I would rather the others not see what the next four and one half hours were sure to bring

And then all my diminished expectations, eager to begin their attack, lost their way. The first swing produced an acceptably mediocre result. The second one, and those that followed in succession, failed to locate the inner disgust that was waiting, just below the surface. Good holes and good scores walked hand in hand in this new universe.

My attempts to minimize what was occurring were met with disdain by my playing partners. Embrace your destiny was the message of encouragement. Don't live your failures but your successes was what they said, or at least in this embellished version, is what I heard.

Shots landed with unrelenting frequency near the intended target. The hole, which had seemingly chosen to vanish every time I putted over the last several years, reappeared, remaining in one place and growing ever larger.

When I counted up the numbers at the conclusion of the day, it seemed like I had forgotten to play several of the holes. The figure that stared at me, as I stared at it, made no sense. It was way too small to be attached to my name. But it was.

Whenever a gift like this is handed to me from the gods, my wife's admonition is to stop playing. It can only get worse she says. And while she is almost unerringly correct, I will trudge back out in future days trying to recapture what, for at least one day, I found.

I know that the bag will soon be filled to overflowing with 3 putts, mis-hits and mistakes of every size and shape, but like every golfer who has ever played the game, I live for the days when the only thing I see when I look into my bag is success.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mailing List

On Paul Krugman's "Fears and Failure"

"(Who sends out the memos telling people what to worry about, and why don't I get them)" is a very humorous aside. The answer is not nearly as funny.

During the course of the mid-term elections, we heard the Republicans pound continuously on the failure of the Democrats to deal with the massive unemployment problem in our nation. The mantra was that once they were given the opportunity, things would be different. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Once the mid- terms were behind them, the thoughts of the Republicans turned to 2012 and the course of the conversation shifted. If the economy continued to sputter, it could only work to their advantage. This, they will be sure to remind us in the coming months, is still a government under Democratic leadership. So, the Republican machine has misdirected us to theoretical disasters of tomorrow, rather than the actual concerns of today. The result is an anemic and stalled recovery, unrelenting unemployment, and a government that fails to address adequately the most urgent need of its population. If this downturn lingers, and it shows all the signs of doing so, the Republicans will lay blame directly at the feet of their opponents. The call for jobs, jobs, jobs, it turns out, was nothing but a con job.

One of the principle failures of this administration has been an inability to direct the discussion or choose the topics. In response to Mr. Krugman's question, the Republicans send out the memo, and until that ceases to be the case, he is never going to be on the mailing list.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Through the Fog

Her face was bruised and battered. Her upper lip was swollen, and the purple colored mustache served as further reminder of the trauma she had sustained. Her jaw was slightly misshapen, and a line of color descended from her mouth to her chin and towards her left ear. Behind this ear there was a bump and a bruise. The back of her head hurt to the touch. Her neck, at the shoulders, felt stiff and she was in pain if she turned her head in either direction. Her arm, just below the shoulder was giving her trouble. The middle of her back was tender. And her leg, just above her buttocks, was another area that had sustained damage.

As we sat in her kitchen, I gently tried to repeat to her the events of the last few days. The fall during the night, the call to 911, the determination that she was ok to remain at home; then the near fainting during lunch and another emergency call for help; the hospitalization and the battery of tests and her release 2 days later. And within a few minutes I repeated the tale again.

Yet somehow, with this latest episode have come some moments of remarkable clarity for my Mom, as she senses the inevitable approaching. Sitting at the table, she told me that she had lived a wonderful life, with loving and hard working parents, terrific siblings, a perfect husband, and the greatest children anyone could imagine. Here, as in the hospital, she gave instructions on how to live one's life. And then she said she was not going anywhere, anytime soon.

She now takes great pride in hearing, on a regular basis, that she is 93 years old. Where age was throughout most of her life, something she strenuously avoided discussing, now she wears it like a badge of honor. Confronted with failing eyesight, significant loss of hearing, an inability to locate herself in time and place, memory that is almost non-existent, difficult nights, and often more difficult days, wobbling gait and the visual reminders of her last fall, she tells me that she is in pretty good shape for her age. She advises that she has no right to expect more than this. She is just happy to get up in the morning and live another day.

We speak of how remarkable a journey it has been. She was born while the First World War was still raging. She has lived through the roaring 20's, prohibition, Babe Ruth, Franklin Roosevelt, the depression, the Second World War. I ask her if she feels like she has lived through different universes of time. She nods her assent.

I realize that I am romanticizing this tale somewhat. My mom's conversation is given through the fog that long ago descended upon her. Much of what I relate as a straight line conversation was truly a bit less than that, and the philosophy was tinged with confusion. But overall, this is a true story. This is how I believe my mom views the journey she has taken through nine decades. She has considered herself among the fortunate ones. She revered her parents, adored her siblings, cherished her husband, and took great pride in her children and grandchildren who have been as devoted to her as she has been to them.

At times I can now find true pleasure and joy in being with my Mom, diminished as she may be. It has been a struggle for me to accept and embrace this very altered version. But I find myself laughing again in her presence, amused by her flashes of wit and amazed by her philosophical musings. Like my Mom, I am willing to battle through the fog to find the light that still shines deep within her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Now batting, Number 2"

Baseball is, in its most basic sense, all about the numbers. For the hitter, while each swing of the bat may look the same to us, imperceptible changes are made clear in the statistics that we see next to the player's name. Numbers don't lie, or at least they don't lie in the same way that our wishes and desires do for those we want to succeed.

And so, the body of evidence accumulated on the page ("Under a Microscope, Jeter has a Powerless Start") reveals what I refuse to allow as a possibility: the erosion of Derek Jeter is well underway. One home run in 565 at bats. Two extra base hits in 105 at bats this season. And worse, if one were to subtract the 10 infield hits from the calculation, the future Hall of Famer would be batting an anemic .154.

I wish I could dismiss all of this. He still looks virtually the same as he did when he sprung upon us over 15 years ago. The hair may be a little thinner, and the waist just a bit thicker, but this is still the same player who has accomplished so much, at bat to at bat, for a decade and a half. But the overwhelming reality is that he is not what he was, and will never again be. It is hard to watch and even harder to accept. We wait for tomorrow to be different, for the line drives to return with unrelenting frequency. But when we add it all up, we come to the inevitable conclusion that even for Derek Jeter, time does not stand still.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One Man's Life and Death

In this millennium he changed the look of our universe more than we could have imagined. Gone were the days of feeling invincible. From that terrible day forward, we would forever be less sure and less comfortable in our own land. We would invade foreign territories, and search for foreign objects on our own bodies. We would listen in as a government for sounds of terror and we would capture and torture in the name of our security. We would look upon billions of Muslims around the world, and those in our own communities, with skepticism and hatred. For us, the deaths on September 11 were a direct challenge to the world as we understood it.

We would spend almost a decade in fruitless pursuit. We would chase into caves and down endless dead alleys. And then, for so long, it appeared that he was going to elude our grasp forever. And now he is dead.

And what does that mean to us, and to our future? While the past can never be altered, does this one death change where tomorrow leads? After the euphoria of the moment passes, and the patriotic fervor quiets, then what? We want so much for this to be the start of a different conversation, one where we don't feel the desperate need to kill in the name of retribution, and our enemies don't feel the desperate need to eradicate us, and all that we stand for. In the next decade, will the death of one man change the face of our planet in ways that his life did this past decade? Or is this just the death of one man?