Beloveds

10

April 9, 2018, Prescott-

Your bright spirits

keep reminding me

of  when my beautiful classmates

and my loyal mates

would bounce in and out

of my consciousness.

That was fifty years ago

and the world just kept

on spinning.

You are inheriting

a world,

in which some

of us elders

will ignore you.

Even older Millennials

in positions of power,

turn a blind eye

and a deaf ear

to your entreaties.

They seek to be

what they think

their elders to be.

You, ladies,

be yourselves,

and take the full measure

of your strengths.

You, gentlemen,

share the limelight,

and see the women

beside you,

as equal allies.

I choose to believe

that you have

the wherewithal

to establish what

we who came before

did not.

Inured to your setbacks,

ready to throw off

the shackles,

you will see the sunlight.

I am close by

and still ready to help.

She Did and They Will

6

January 26, 2017, Prescott-

When I turned on the TV, of a Saturday night, when I was in my pre-teens and early teens, my adolescent eyes were glued to the screen, whenever Laura Petrie appeared.  As a few years went by, and Mary Tyler Moore assumed a more unfettered TV persona, I learned the value of seeing a woman or girl as far more than a pretty face, as any man with a pulse is bound to do-some, after a considerable fashion.  Mary Richards didn’t need a man to complete her, in any way.  Then, there was her real life struggle, mirrored in the character she played in “Ordinary People”, when my sympathies fell with the forlorn husband, played by Donald Sutherland, even while I wished she hadn’t been so vicious towards herself, as well as him and their tortured son, played by Timothy Hutton.

Mary Tyler Moore took up where Lucille Ball left off, becoming an entertainment production powerhouse.  She did so, in spite of family tragedies, failed marriages and debilitating disease.  When she did find a soulmate, and a measure of peace, she was to shine as both actress and television executive.  The example she set should not be lost, on any young woman starting out.

We are at something of a crossroads, with respect to the advancement of women.  Too many disempowered men feel as if giving strength to women means that they will be further at a loss.  In truth, when my wife prospered and felt validated, so did I.  We were never in competition.  I have never been emasculated.

I have, recently, been excoriated for  supporting the Womens’ March.  The alternate view is that all is well, that women are lucky to have it so good in this country and anyone voicing concerns, about the treatment of women and girls, is raising an issue out of whole cloth.

We have made progress, as a society.  Many jobs have been rated and graded, with regard to pay and benefits, particularly in the trades.  It could even be argued that this is a First World issue, that while upper management is still largely a male province, the punching of a time clock is done in an air of equity.  Biology still rears its head, though, in many offices and plants, and there is too high a rate of occurrence of sexual harassment.

We could, despite the argument that those who can’t afford day care should remain childless (a vicious sentiment that reflects some bitterness, of those who scrimped and saved), act more as a community, in ensuring the well-being of infants and toddlers, whose parents don’t have the luxury of market-driven child care.

Women will, most likely, over the coming decades, present more like Mary Richards, or Laura Petrie, than like June Cleaver (“Leave It to Beaver”).  Millennials and Post- Millennials, male and female alike, have very clear minds of their own and are not hesitant to voice informed opinions.  They will have the burden of cleaning up a fair number of messes and moving communities forward, much as the “GI Generation” had to, upon returning from the morass of World War II.

Mary Tyler Moore did move her needle, and the rising generations, of both women and men, will do the same.

 

Gen Z Charades

6

October 20, 2016, Prescott-

A little boy and his sister greeted me, when I sat down behind their table, this evening, in a local pizza shop.

As time went on, and their father continued to talk with their uncle, the kids and their two cousins engaged in a game of charades.  There was no whining about when they were about to leave, just four children enjoying one another’s company.  The girl was the most inventive of the group, portraying everything from a softball pitcher to Nemo, the cartoon fish.

This is a bit of irony, compared with what I see lying ahead for the generation that will both follow the Millennials and will need to work, hand in glove with their immediate elders, in cleaning up so many of the messes that are being left them.  There will be no pretending for Generation Z, when they come of age.

Ways of solving problems will be found, the likes of which will seem as exotic, to any Baby Boomers who live into our eighties and nineties, as the i-Pad, solar energy and electronic music did, to those of the GI Generation.  Humanity will prevail, for many reasons, not the least of which is the hard-wired internal technology of the two rising generations.

Charades will be seen for what they are:  A parlour game, not a ruse for ignoring pressing issues.

The Road to 65, Mile 336: Testing

2

October 30, 2015, Phoenix- I came down here, shortly after finishing my laundry.  The first order of business was picking up a list of requirements for me to at long last secure an Elementary Teaching Certificate.  I have several other credentials:  Secondary Teaching, Guidance Counselor and Principal.  Now, towards the final phase of my career, it is high time to complete the circle.

I will need to take three 11/2 hour exams, hopefully on a Saturday, which means heading up to Flagstaff, since Yavapai College, in Prescott, only offers tests when I am working.  Flag is a pleasant spot, and I can head up there on a Friday night, after whatever I am doing is finished.

Anyway, afterward, I spent some time with Aram and his good friend, in north central Phoenix, basically getting updates on various matters, and setting tentative plans for next week.  It’ll be good to have him in Prescott, for whatever fleeting time I can spend with him after work, and then, there will be Thanksgiving weekend, when we can both relax.

Tonight was another bit of “old home week”, as I joined a few friends on the west side of the Metro Area, at a house which Penny and I frequented, once a month, for nearly five years.  The family is one whose children I also watched grow into adulthood; the youngest will graduate high school in May. Some find this a “test”.  I find the attainment of adulthood, by those whose births and childhoods I have witnessed, a supreme confirmation.  They will do well, these Millennials, and so will the next generation, coming right behind them.  Isn’t this part of the wonder of humanity?

I ponder much, in my modest little room, at the Travel inn.

The Road to 65, Mile 334: Independence

2

October 28, 2015, Chino Valley- We have reached the point where whatever might have passed for a “honeymoon”, between my present school and me, has dissipated.  This is not a bad thing.  It means only that my stated mission, to safeguard the well-being of twenty-one children, while challenging them, academically and socially, is more on my shoulders than it is prescribed by those above me.

Administration has its place, and it is a vital place, indeed.  Teamwork is also vital.  Yet, at the end of the day, it is what a teacher can accomplish, when everyone else around him or her is either indisposed or overwhelmed, that makes the difference in the life of a learner.  It is easy for a child to love and admire a teacher who is ever congenial and accommodating.  The rub comes when the docent holds the bar higher.

I have to raise my bar a bit higher, day by day.  I see things coming, that must be faced, and solved, by the now mostly adult Millennials, and by the emerging Generation Z, who include all the children I have taught for the last five years, and all whom I will teach, for the next five.  They have a lot of innate wisdom, but they also face many of the same conflicts and growth challenges that we all faced in childhood and adolescence.  In addition, all the failures of those of us before them will lie at their feet- just as those of our forebears  cast shadows on our tenure as the generation of leadership.

I seek to foster independence, but not swagger, bravado and insolence, about which more tomorrow.

The Road to 65, Mile 35: The New Adults in the Room.

8

January 2, 2015, Mesa-  I keep looking at Millennials, my son’s generation, and seeing, on the one hand, my extended brood of children.  On the other hand, I’m in awe of how they are handling, as a generation, just about every task that has landed in their laps.

I went down to Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city, to spend the afternoon with my son, as he is winding up his holiday leave- spent with friends from his high school days.  We had a delectable lunch at Bavarian Pointe, a German eatery, as you might have deduced, going for a full meal-complete with soup, hot entrees and dessert crepes.  The waitress showered us with attention and I will recommend the place on Yelp!, which I don’t always do.

Our planned hike, at Usery Mountain Regional Park, in Mesa’s northeast corner, necessitated heading back to his friends’ house, and getting mother and daughter.  Daughter is 3 years old, so I suggested a hike in the foothills, which the little girl said she could “do easy”.  Well, she did it easily- uphill, downhill, 8/10 of a mile.  My son, his high school classmate and her daughter are shown below.

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Here are some scenes of the Merkle Hills, which we hiked.

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We started off, trying to decipher the rather rudimentary map given us at the entry station.  Something told me to suggest parking ahead of a roundabout, midway in the park.  We then walked about 1/2 mile further east, and found Merkle Hills trailhead.  The above trail satisfied one and all, and just as Son was preparing himself for a lengthy walk back to the vehicle- Friend looked down and exclaimed, “The Jeep!”  There it was, right at the foot of the exit trail, whose sign was hidden behind some lush Sonoran Desert growth.

The Universe does take care of us, in some rather unforeseen ways.  I guess that’s why it’s the Universe, and we are peas in a pod.  When we returned to the friends’ house, Male Friend was there, waiting for his love and his soon-to-be stepchild.  His game plan was to prepare chili dogs for the lot of us.  So, while we waited, I was offered the use of their movie collection- looking in the “family section”, I chose “Charlotte’s Web”, the movie with Dakota Fanning, and Julia Roberts, as Charlotte, and a very happy three-year-old was occupied nicely until dinner.  I was greeted warmly by the family’s very own lap cat, “William”.  He spent several joyous minutes, sitting on my lap, snuggling and purring.

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The little girl had to put on her coat, before going somewhere with her mother, and asked me to help her zip the coat.  After a bit of tussling with the plastic fastener- mission accomplished!  Getting back to my comment at the beginning of this post, it is ever-gratifying to see the rising generation take on, successfully, the challenges of parenthood, leadership and the various crap that adults have to handle, put their own stamp on all of it- often without a personal vehicle, and make it all happen nicely.  Millennials have their share of problems, as does every generation, but we’re in good hands, folks, as I’ve said on this site a few times.

Moving Seamlessly

6

The young firefighter described his, and his unit’s, work, over the course of a year, as moving seamlessly from one set of tasks to another.  This is what I admire most about so many of those who have taken on difficult, dangerous and often thankless, unappreciated tasks as their life’s work.  The unit in question works under an administration which seems to neither understand nor care much for those under its charge.  That administration is getting a rather long overdue education today and tomorrow.

I have said in the past that, even as I have good friends in every living generation, I am finding I relate best to Millennials.  The sense of commitment to a better world is just below the surface among all ages, yet nowhere is the energy and drive to truly create a functioning and equitable global society stronger than it is among teens and twenty-somethings.  Gen Z (those fourteen and under) seems just as promising, so this could be a confirmation that the world, towards which so many have striven,  is on its way, even as so much that is rotten needs to be cleared out.

We may not move forward with absolute seamlessness, and there are plenty of non-angelic types among the younger generation, but as I move about the city of Prescott, around Arizona or across the country and to other parts of the world, I sense there is a purposeful mien among the youth.  It goes beyond idealism, which, if left to stand alone, becomes cynicism and gives way to creature comforts, drug abuse and paranoia. Maybe, with the current younger generations, the lack of time-honoured opportunities which many of us enjoyed as youth, has forced self-reliance, group action and innovation to the fore early on in their lives.  Certainly, technology has helped greatly, in that regard.

I have come under a lot of fire from many of my fellow Boomers and from several Gen-X’ers recently, for my past few posts.  I can’t share their cynicism, though, and while contemplating the rest of my life, I can only see good things for the human race, in the aggregate.  Those of my contemporaries who agree with my assessment have been equally vocal, so maybe I, too, am moving seamlessly from one day, and one set of tasks, to the next.

The Others

2

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Later this evening, I will post about the Prescott Historic House Tour, part of our city’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, and Chalk It Up, an annual chalk-art festival.  Both took place this past weekend, as did a Cinco de Mayo Block Party, in Courthouse Square.

First, though, a bit of seriousness.  Let me go further with what I wrote yesterday about the journeys on which each of us is embarked.

Human beings, alone among species, sort those they see as strangers into categories of “race”, skin tone, ethnicity, Faith, gender and sexual orientation( of course, we are the only species which experiences the latter as a life condition).  To be sure, other animals, from ants to prairie dogs to wolves and dolphins, sort by family group and/or territory.  This is all part of territoriality and population control.

Our extra selection processes, really, don’t make much sense.  There is no qualitative difference between me and any of my friends who happen to be Black, but in the 1960’s, there was no way any of them would have been able to live in a family home in the town where I came of age, outside of a small designated area on the south side of town.  That’s changed now, of course, and it was with great personal satisfaction that I learned, in 1996, that my maternal grandmother’s house was purchased by an accomplished attorney of African-American descent.

I thought of all this, while taking in the various events of Cinco de Mayo weekend, in downtown Prescott.   People of all backgrounds are welcome here.  Although Prescott has a tendency towards political conservatism, there seems little bigotry.  Those of us who indulge in politics at all, tend to be of Libertarian bent.

I’ve always had a hard time understanding prejudice, and while working to rid myself of my own pre-conceived notions, which I found confusing, the whole concept of “Other” had to be allowed to surface, and float away.  Young Black men, when I was in my twenties, did me the honour of challenging me to show that I was recognizing, and casting aside, the subtleties which I had picked up in childhood.  I was hurt and angered by my white peers’ callous reaction to the killing of  Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.  He hurt no one, and helped as many of us as would listen to what he had to say.

Still and all, I have had to recognize my own sense of  “Other”.  This separation is a worldwide thing, though.   Many East Asians have trouble with Whites and Blacks being in their midst.  Africans separate by tribe; West Asians, by Faith; Russians, by language.  Some of this “otherness” is rooted in hurt; some of it stems from fear.

The fact remains, however, that we are all connected.  I see this sense of connectedness increasing, incrementally, among Millennials and the current generation of children.  It’s definitely a process, not an event.  Racist teens and twenty-somethings, though, are regarded by the majority of their peers as having mental problems.  This cuts across all racial and ethnic groups, and political affiliations.

The kids are onto something.  “Otherness” is a learned paradigm.  Then again, so is helplessness.