I’m missing Gingy something awful! Her gentle eyes and smile, they way she danced around when anticipating a treat belying her sixteen years which would be 75, 85, or 95 human years — depending on which website you consult — I even miss the way she’d fuss in the car.

From the beginning, the firing up of the engine would prompt whimpering and her Beagle-like warble which continued until we reached our destination. On the way home, I would notice how calm she was, as if anticipating being back in her bailiwick. The last three car trips she took, that behavior was reversed. It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized it probably meant she was aware her time was limited.

When she came to me, she’d spent a week or two in the hospital directly from a long time in the “wild.” The quotes reflect the animal communicator’s assertion that some of that time was spent as a guest in someone’s backyard. Still, she was found wandering around the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago in a dazed condition. My friend Carol saw a woman carry her off the railroad tracks, but poor Gingy staggered into the busy street. Carol ran out and picked her up. She found the woman and asked if she wanted to take her, but being on the way to work she couldn’t. Carol took her to her vet and sprang for medical and dental attention for the abscess that had worn through her cheek. Given her seven cats, Carol couldn’t take her home so she uploaded Gingy’s beautiful mug to Facebook.

As the name in the microchip was something that could be taken as insulting, Carol asked me what I wanted to call her. I told her I’d have to think about it. I stared at her face and its gentleness which reminded me of my mother. Though I wondered about the propriety of naming a pet after a parent, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to sing “G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. And Gingy was her name-o” for someone other than my departed Mom.

Lucky me! About a week before my home was ready, Gingy came to me: cataracts, arthritis, heart condition, reported deafness, sweet disposition, gentle eyes, beautiful face, radiant smile and all!

When she’d had a moment to get used to her surroundings, we drove her, whimpering and warbling to the natural pet store and, of course, the staff was taken by her. We stopped at a drug store on the way home and picked up a big blue pillow for her bed.

She trotted around her new home, passing the pillow once before stopping to regard it, then climbing up and falling asleep. Boy, did I wish I had a camera! The first of many times. Another happy surprise, I clapped my hands once and she turned around. So much for being deaf. We suspect she learned to ignore certain noises while living on the street.

She came to live with me in February of a particularly cold winter. Getting her out in the snow was nearly impossible. In our whole six months together, I only saw her relieve herself outdoors once. The rug was nearly carpeted with training pads, but she still managed to christen the carpet in between the 1.5′ squares. Why not? I suspect while I was treating her for hitting the pad, she seemed to take it that her good fortune was for the bodily functions themselves. As time went on, Gingy drank more and more water. I thought perhaps, she was training me to give her more treats.

As we got to know each other better and the weather became less brutal, her life was filled with treats and massage. Even in good weather, she seemed to prefer to stand at the open balcony door and watch life go by. She got out occasionally, but still with a reluctance that made me less inclined to force her out. I’d feel the same if I’d been homeless as long as she had been.

Homeless, apparently, did not mean starving. Everyone kept telling me she was overweight and I needed to feed her less. I wasn’t feeding her so much that it seemed an issue. Although, I was making her hamburger or chicken to put on her prescription dog food. She rarely finished the dog food, usually only if it were laced with powdered probiotic and prebiotic. Or if I had to be out for a long time.

She particularly liked beef and chicken. Wellness has “Petite Treats” at four calories a pop. Most of them have ginger or spearmint, and hardly smell like dog food at all. With her lost teeth, she wasn’t eager to chew a lot of the crunchy treats, but she ate them with relish for the fowl. However, as time went on, she appreciated them more.

The second time we saw one of the vets at the local hospital, she took me aside and said when she’d first seen Gingy she’d though we’d only have a few weeks at best. At that second meeting, she saw Gingy’s new found energy and revised the prognosis. She thought she’d have several months — maybe even nearly a year.

As Carol said, we always knew it would be a short gig. The reason she’d rushed to bring us together was she wanted her to have a quality life at the end. Over our six months together, Gingy flourished for five months. Then in July, she began to fade rapidly. As long as she relished her treats and meals I steeled myself to her uncooperative hips and periodic breathing issues. Even when I’d rush her to the vet for issues I did not need to worry about, her problems were adding up.

In the second to last week of July, one of the vets decided to x-ray her chest because of the cough they’d attributed to her heart issues. The black spots on her lungs might have indicated an infection, heart failure, or cancer; so they sent us home with an antibiotic, a heart medication, and something else — I forgot what it was for immediately. Though we were told to come back in three or four days, there were too many emergencies in this summer of dog flu. We couldn’t get an appointment until a week later. On the last Thursday of July, the vet confirmed it was cancer, but could not say whether the lungs were the primary site or it had metastasized from somewhere else.

Now, the vet said, all we could do was spoil her until her quality of life was gone. She could even OD on the beef Joint Rescue treats ( without being hurt by too much glucosamine condroitin.

That night, for the second time in our life together, her stool looked suspiciously dark and in the morning there was fresh blood. I called the vet. Though she said they had meds that would fix the symptom, I postulated that, being the second time, her colon may have been the primary site of the cancer. Add to that how much trouble she was having getting her back legs to stand and stay up, it was probably time. Besides, I’d seen people go through cancer and enough was enough. She made an appointment for us the following day.

Other than beef treats and hamburger meals, she hesitated over food, if she took it at all. So, on the rare occasion she came over for a treat or a forehead massage, I’d either give her the Joint Rescue or make her hamburger and rice. By breakfast time, she was leaving more hamburger in her dish.

One of the women from the office brought me papers to sign and said for $100.00 more (I’d asked about prices) I could take her ashes home after cremation. Not my style.

Carol and her husband drove up from South Shore and my friend and neighbor Tammy, who works with Adopt-a-Pet, met us there. Gingy was never alone and from the moment we left the house. She was surrounded by loving friends as the tech tried twice to insert the IV before succeeding on the third try.

When the attending vet came in, she hugged me. I said, I knew it was late in the game, but if she wanted to talk me out of it, I’d listen. She said it was the right decision, the time had come, and I was disappointed.

Then, having learned I’d never been through it before. She explained what would happen. In a three shot procedure, she would be sedated and fall asleep. Then, the doctor would inject a saline solution. That was the only time a needle touched me. I had moved my hand to cup Gingy’s cheek.

By the third injection, my dear girl was snoring. I took it as a sign she was aware of four sets of hands on her — even of the five sets of weeping eyes. My forehead had been touching hers since the first shot. Despite her aging, dry nose that she had scratched raw over the months, refusing all attempts to coat it with petroleum jelly, she could smell my skin and breath. I don’t know whether she could hear at all by then, or if she’d just learned serenity in the face of scary noises, but I sang to her one last time: “G-I-N-G-Y.”

With the overdose of anesthesia, her tongue dangled between her teeth and she was no longer snoring. We continued to pet her and kiss her. The vet hugged me again and presented me with the plaster cast they’d taken of her paw while I was otherwise distracted. All the blankets, bowls and dog beds Adopt-a-Pet had lent me went back, but I kept Gingy’s collar, wrapping it around her paw print which I put in my parent’s breakfront where it is near me while I work.


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What Make Car Does Your Android Drive?

I’m sick of debating my conservative friends. Not that any I know are fundamental crackpots. They are good people with intelligence, and some have warm, generous natures. They just don’t get it.

Case in point: one of my friends, a man of intelligence and sagacity, comments on my Facebook page taking delight in contradicting nearly every political opinion I hold. After a year or so of fencing, I’ve come to the point that I don’t want to deal with him anymore. Recently, I shared a cartoon in which in 1954 UAW president Walter Reuther was touring the new Ford motor plant in Cleveland. A company official could not contain his delight that his was the most automated factory ever built. Reuther replied. “How are you going to get them [the robots] to buy Fords?”
My friend commented that “by lowered prices [on the cars] and it worked.” It occurs to me that, even if Ford gave its products away, the robots would have no use for the automobiles. Maybe it was the semi-ambiguous nature of the cartoon, or he just didn’t get that Reuther was walking about the robots, not the customers.

I think Ford and my friend are unclear on the purpose of unions. Workers have not risked their lives and welfare simply to buy their employers’ products. Nor did they do so just to steal profits from them. Initially, they did it because working 12 or more hours a day for a pittance barely put food on the table, let alone a car in the garage. They did it because their health was being assaulted by overwork, inadequate rest, and unsafe working conditions. They did it, and continue to do it, to be treated like human beings.

Investopedia defines a “blue collar” worker as “a working-class person historically defined by hourly rates of pay and manual labor. A blue collar worker refers to the fact that most manual laborers at the turn of the century wore blue shirts, which could hold a little dirt around the collar without standing out.” Another identifying factor is that to work a blue collar job, you don’t need a college degree. In the second half of the twentieth century, that didn’t mean you hadn’t worked hard and incurred debt to achieve an advanced degree — it only meant that your job did not require the knowledge or skill acquired in college. Unions were invented by people in blue collar occupations.
While compensation and working conditions have been the main topics of negotiation, the bottom line has been the workers’ demand to be treated like human beings and the insistence of employers on treating them like automatons.

Around the 1960s, I started hearing customers complaining about how customer service was a thing of the past, but it took a very long time for industry to see how the dehumanization of front line workers was having a negative effect on purchasing patterns. It took an even longer time for someone to notice (or at least care about) the interconnection of industries. Still, the interest is limited to the disastrous effect the gutting of the fossil fuel industry would have on the auto industry or how the failure of the auto industry would impact the auto parts industry, rather than how the status of the workers affects the industry, or even how the welfare of the consumer base is affected by anything.
Suddenly, someone came up with profit-sharing. While for some it didn’t put food on the table or send an eighteen-year-old to state college, it was a step in the right direction, admitting that an employee with a stake in the company worked harder for its success. Sharing the load.
When we share the work and the responsibility we get more done, but some employers gutted that axiom by getting rid of full-time employment, giving one job to two decompensated employees. A step backward in the same spirit as using what became known as “corporate welfare” monies to declare bonus for the bosses rather train workers or hire new ones.

So a hungry, trapped workforce, bound to hard-to-find or simply inadequate jobs which barely scratches the economic surface, is a scared and exhausted workforce. And a scared, exhausted workforce is not the way to build a strong electorate or a strong country.

Yes, I realize the modern union is quite different from the original unions and that some unions are headed up by people liberals wouldn’t vote for. However, considering what some financial institutions did after deregulation (stealing homes from the elderly for example,) it wouldn’t surprise me if, in the absence of all unions, workers found themselves back in the 19th Century.
The national pastime has become dividing voters rather than bringing us together. Some pundits shout loud enough at us that many believe what happens in every bed in the world affects our way of life. Scratching off the scabs of racism then wondering how anyone could be so sick as to murder nine people at pray.

So blue-collar and low-income conservatives take up the anti-union banner and many other causes which I think may be in conflict with their own interests. Even when our chief best interest is to be treated like human beings.

I doubt my friend actually believes that business people conspired to have their business concerns granted legal personhood so they could act more humanely. However, I’m relatively certain he doesn’t realize that just the opposite is true.

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My New Baby

For those of you who missed the announcement on Facebook, I’m a new mommy to fifteen-year-old Gingy. As you can see she’s gorgeous, and the intelligence in her eyes doesn’t lie! My friend Carol found her wandering near the train station in Hyde Park about seventeen days ago. She’s mostly deaf and has cataracts, arthritis, and a couple of other age-related issues, but she’s as spunky as a puppy. For that alone, I named her Gingy after my mom.


We’ve had our adjustment issues. Between my arthritis and her confusion, she’s been peeing and pooping on my rug, shunning puppy pads, yet continues to enjoy our short walks on the relief plan that has served her all her young years, she still has more to do when we’re done. I’m finding it easier to follow her a little longer each day, but we need to find sitting places along the way. I suspect her enjoyment in wrapping the leash around my legs (and everyone else’s) is more than her quirky sense of humor, but I’m not ruling that out as her favorite parlor trick.

On advice, I got a flower essence thought to relieve feelings of abandonment and abuse and put two drops of it on the back of my hand. She came right to it and smelled it gently. She walked away and came back to it. Encouraged, I transferred it to my palms and rubbed it into her head and shoulders. As I prepared to go lower, she shook her head and walked away. I thought vaguely about her sore hips and let it go. By the next day, she seemed to feel much closer to me.

And then there’s her pills. The pain pill tastes so awful, that she nips around every blind I offer her by hand, shaving the good stuff away and leaving the pill. We’ve tried everything: dog food meatballs, hamburger meatballs, peanut butter, cream cheese, three flavors of pill pockets, and crushing them and squirting them with water or putting them in veg capsules. Once upon a time, she’d take her antibiotic, now she avoids all pills. For you no-nonsense dog trainers oral surgery has made opening her mouth and shoving them in a non-option. Quite the picky eater, she most enjoys her plain beef stir-fry with rice and seems to enjoy it when I share her repast.

I thought we were doing pretty well up ’til now. Despite all our adjustments we’ve managed to bond. Yesterday, I woke to find her sleeping on my sweatshirt!

Our trauma started yesterday with three whole walks (a record), a trip to the vet to consult on the meds, and get her butt shaved. After a trip to the pet store for a humane harness, she came home and lay down in the kitchen, happy, but exhausted. Dozing on and off, she chewed around her pills and listened to my discussions about her with my neighbor Tammy a pet adoption lady which lasted the well into the night. Gingy slept peacefully.

Nine a. m. rolled around and she was still lazing in the kitchen, alternating sleep with a dazed look. I was used to her falling asleep in the hallway where she can be aware of the whole place. I was also used to her waking up much earlier. I offered her half of her glucosamine treat, which she took with what I hoped was her accustomed gentleness. When she set it down, licked it and laid down her head facing away from it, I was concerned. Well, more like terrified. At one point, she ate it as if trying to please me. So, I called the vet and woke the adoption lady. Nothing more tenuous than a canine who won’t eat.

When Tammy got here, we covered Gingy’s shivering body with my sweatshirt and tried everything to spark some interest in food. Suddenly, it occurred to me that when I bent over her and rubbed her head, the aroma of the flower essence of two days earlier reasserted itself. And when I smelled it, it diffused immediately into my mouth and tasted really bad. That felt like a clue.

With more facility for sitting on the floor, Tammy washed Gingy’s head and back with warm water and gave her a rub down with a dry towel. Then, we wrapped a towel straight from the dryer over her. A few moments later, her head came up and she was smiling with that expression that makes everyone want to hug her. She wobbled to her feet and walked around a little. So I tried the other half of the glucosamine treat. She snarfed it up!

As she still refused the lamb/rice prescription food with, at the vet’s suggestion, Gerber’s sweet potatoes, I stirred up some hamburger in a skillet. Of course, she inhaled that, too! Frisky again, she jumped around the living room begging for treats and, I thought, perhaps, a romp in the sloshy snow.

I turned away to call Tammy and Gingy came running back in the room and turned my attention to the pool of pee on the puppy pad. That got her a treat and a cuddle and lots of verbal yays! A moment later, there was a giant poop on another pad!

After all she’d been through, we sent her for a spa-day for a warm bath and blow-dry at a local groomer. Styling a soft, blonde fluffy-do, she had two short walks and met Tammy’s gorgeous Pom, George. Gingy was a bit shy with her new friend, but they got along well.

Now, she’s sacked out on of her favorite spots having happy dreams. Just as I thought I’d join her, Tammy knocked on my door. She had called a canine foster mother who cares for elderly pups and had exciting, surprising, and slightly disturbing news. Being elderly, Gingy will be sleeping a lot. She just may not feel like eating right away. In fact, she’s chubby enough, that she can go two days without eating. With her arthritic hips, she should not go for long walks. In fact, the puppy pads are just what she needs!

The cost for finding this absolute jewel of a companion is that I risk become the mad old woman whose floors are lined with puppy pads, sitting alone most of the day with a sleeping pup, eating hamburger and rice from an Orgreenic pan. A fair price.

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One-Size-Fits All

I vaguely remember promising myself I’d never write about dieting. However, once I’d joined the Medicare faction I realized the popular caveat “Never break a promise to yourself,” has its limitations. So, as I cast off my reservations and throw on my most radiant purple garment, here I go.

beef and macaroniA while ago, I was privileged to party with some great people. For the potluck, I prepared two gluten-free versions of a friend’s recipe for beef and macaroni. In addition to honoring another friend’s dietary need by replacing the real onions with a little onion salt, I was careful to use only a small amount of butter with olive oil. Gluten-free brown rice noodles fit the bill; moreover, I made two versions, one with chili-ground beef and one with ground turkey. The only other difference between them was the size of the tomato chunks: one dish had the petite diced and one had slightly seasoned regular diced. (For those interested, I also substituted tomato puree for the tomato soup the recipe’s originator uses because of her garlic issues. Both options are good, but I made the choice because the people at the potluck have a chili jones.) Then, I was hit with a loud averment that I’d made one healthy and one beef entree. It took a few days to realize probably reflected the displeasure of someone whose diet was different from everyone else’s. Clearly, his diet vilifies beef – a common occurrence among diet fundamentalists.

oaThe ensuing discussion included statements of equal strength that no diet was right for every type of body. My only contribution to the conversation was a joke that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” diet. However, I could have inserted the notion that not only one’s body, but one’s personality may require different approaches. It’s axiomatic: all diets you’re likely to have heard of will work if you’re willing to commit to it. And I ought to know. One therapist postulated that I have a WW_logo_metaphoric scalp belt adorned to capacity with souvenirs of doctors and other diet promoters. I’ve gone the way of Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, Jenny Craig, Behavior Modification, a nutritionist, a battery of psychotherapists, protein shakes only, protein shakes mostly, carbohydrates-only, no carbs at all, vegetarian, as few veggies as possible, red meat prohibited, red meat only, eating right for my blood type, and probably a few I’ve forgotten.

The first physician I remember labeled me “obese” when I was four. About four years later, another family practitioner bullied me and put me on diet pills that made my hands shake so badly they buzzed. When, on his advice, my mother cut each pill in half, I still shook. Of course, then, I ate twice as much as before the pills.

Despite medical evidence to the contrary, the myriad diet books, clinics, storefronts and kiosks still leave room for treating fat like a personality defect. Is loss of one’s thyroid a personality defect also? What about the fact that diet only drains fat cells of their content rather than dispatching the cells themselves? Then there’s the not-so-recently found fat gene. And the so often underscored unrealistically thin body types portrayed in the media, designed to demoralize dieters and destroy body images. All leading to the biggest question: should the same diet “rules” apply to the “morbidly obese” that apply to those struggling with two or ten pounds?

I’m not discounting lifestyle choices as a large factor in weight management, nor am I saying my only issue in failure to maintain a healthy weight is the so-called “low-dose” radiation (over 1000 rads) aimed at my unfledged tonsils when I was two-years-old. What I am saying is that all those engaged in losing weight are always fighting their own bodies and sometimes their own minds.

g-fRight now, I’m participating in a program based on idea that a gluten-free diet is most conducive to weight loss. There’s more to the regimen that is being formed around my gallbladder and thyroid deprived body than changing my idea and use of wheat. I believe this is the process I’ll be able to follow long term. Still, while I would not hesitate to recommend the program to anyone or everyone, most of my friends with eating issues would likely balk at the notion of vitamin and mineral supplements; and, clearly, at least one person I know would resist anything to do with red meat and would be scandalized to know I’m allowed marbled red meat in limited quantities. 

In this age of wide-spread corporate line blurring in news, politics and retail, many are trying to turn back the clock to a “kinder, gentler time.” We tend to forget that humans have never really experienced a golden age of anything, except perhaps in art or radio.

Whether its business, politics, journalism, medicine or a plethora of other traditions, every age had its flaws and peccadilloes. Fiction has been trying to tell us for generations that even time-travel would be a double-edged sword, more likely to make things worse than to bring on a true golden age. We need to accept we are where we are.

Let’s not kid ourselves: diet is big business. In its wrap-up of the 2013 U.S. weight loss market Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher, states “America’s estimated 75 million dieters—about 80% of whom try to lose weight by themselves, are fickle and shift from fad to fad.” The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market (11th edition) says the U.S. weight loss market is worth $60.9 billion and the value of the market actually declined by 1.8% to $60.5 billion [poor dears], largely as a result of slumping diet soft drink sales, and flat performance in most other market segments — including the large chains.”

With the smorgasbord of available diets in this big-business world, it would be difficult not to think a quick trip to the bookstore would be the answer to one’s prayers. Except, that the concept of one-size-fits-all is a lethal virus. Finding the right diet or program for your body with its unique history and issues takes research, honest thought, and maybe auditioning would-be mentors.

Especially in this day of social media, with the body role models in the minority and technology making it less and less necessary to leave our homes, it’s worth the time and effort to reach for the sky even if it seems impossible. It’s time we stopped letting them convince us we’re wrong when we’re just different.

Posted in diets, DNA, feminism, powerlessness, psychology, Therapy | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cranky Women

Stalwart Women

Stalwart Women

In his recent blog entry “Understanding Angry Old White Men,” my friend Dr. Gerald Stein stated: “Males pass through a stage of feeling almost invulnerable and immortal, at least on occasion. They rush to fight wars, compete for mates, and try to climb higher than others. Women perform a selection of these tasks, but few teenaged girls believe themselves indestructible.”1   I recommend that all adults, regardless of age or gender. read his entire article.

Although the thrust of his insightful article captured the human condition, pointing to the physiology of age and the effect of retirement on his defense mechanisms as the source of rage in men of advancing years, Gerry makes rather broad assertions about women which may not hold up.

If in fact, women are the tougher sex, able to survive natural childbirth (which would probably kill a man), “are better sports and, ironically, superior at manning-up to the depredations of time,1” it must be a function of what society expects of them. A staple “joke” in modern sitcoms, is set up by the man stating a decision appears not to be thought out very well and each time the woman states an opinion, the man responds with increasing dismissiveness until she finally utters, no matter how calmly she speaks, the kernel of truth that cannot be argued away, he shouts “I can’t discuss this with an irrational woman.”

One of my feminist instructors in the 1970’s told me in no uncertain terms women actually were manipulative. Now I understand why.

As for women being “superior at manning up to the depredations of age,” we have developed a multizillion dollar cosmetics industry and long ago learned that complaining about anything, more often than not, fell on deaf male ears; and if we were heard we were subjected to degrading baby-talk or demoralizing vitriol.

Though the women who are now 60 and over have been conditioned, often from birth, to lay back, be good little girls, play with dolls rather than water guns, hold their tongues, and restrict their thoughts and dreams, some women have been blessed with the type of personality that allowed them to blaze trails through forests of testosterone, regardless of the roles their mothers modeled for them. Still, we’re not out of the woods yet. To wit, the Verizon commercial2 reminding parents that daughters really do listen to them when they give messages that essentially tell them to drop their potential down the toilet.
Verizon GirlAnd, I can’t help thinking that familial abuse–so distressingly prevalent–figures into any tendency to feel invulnerable more than the accident of gender. “In 1940, [Carney] Landis published his findings in two related studies, the first of 153 ‘normal’ women and the second of 142 psychiatric patients, reporting that 24% of these subjects reported being sexually abused as children. Later in 1956, Landis expanded the study to 1,800 college students, discovering that 35% of the females . . . had been sexually abused at an early age.”3 The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics estimates that nearly two of every three female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker and in 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women.4 According to RAINN” these days, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Can you imagine how many more were suppressed in the 40s and 50s.5

Without these influences, females might well think of themselves as indestructible. In fact, sometimes you just need to look at the self-destructive activities some women of all ages participate in and wonder whether they actually do feel as immortal as our male counterparts do.

We’re not better at accepting age, we’ve just been annealed to the ravages of age by the ravages of youth and middle age.
Photo Credits:
A) A montage of women who led the way: Left to right from top: Sappho, Venus, Joan of Arc, Eva Perón, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, Venus of Willendorf, Wangari Maathai, Mother Teresa, Grace Hopper, Mamechiho a Geisha, a Tibetan farmer, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey, Aung San Suu Kyi, Josephine Baker, Isis, the Queen of Sheba, Elizabeth I, a Quechua mother. Sourced from Wikipedia.
B) The girl from the Verizon Commercial
1. Dr. Gerald Stein: – “Blogging About Psychotherapy from Chicago”;
2. Verizon Commercial 2014 “Inspire Her Mind”

3. Cynthia Crosson-Tower, Confronting Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse, Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Publications, Inc., 2015
4. From the U.S. Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report, January 1994.”
5. Rape Abuse & Incest National Network

Posted in blogging, feminism, hobgoblins, powerlessness, psychology, violence, women | 3 Comments


Supreme Court


Abortion may not be a pleasant thought. On a case by case basis, it may not even be the best choice. Moreover, a portion of the population vilifies birth control, which should be another choice a woman, in consultation with her physician, can make about her own body. Still, the Supreme Court has recently made a couple of dangerous decisions concerning a woman’s right to choose. In a ruling that considers protesting abortion clinics is free speech, the justices have ignored the history that clearly shows pro-life demonstrators can be, and, too often were, terrorists. The second misogynist decision another aspect of reproductive choice financially impractical women if corporations and other employers claim birth control offends their religious beliefs. Yet, the theoretically religionless court probably would not have even heard a case in which an employer did not wish to pay for Viagra treatments – because Viagra involves a sacred object revered in another aspect of their religion.

On June 30, the Supreme Court, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., struck down a portion of the Affordable Care Act regarding birth control. The scant majority opinion, probably in as much animosity toward the president through his legislation as toward women, ruled that employers – including corporations – with strong religious beliefs did not have to pay for birth control. So now corporations have religious beliefs. Corporations are in reality a legal fiction that a business concern is an individual. I suppose we should not be too surprised that this particular SCOTUS 5-4 majority chose to embrace the feelings of a legal fiction rather than those of real women.

On June 26, the Supreme Court, in McCullen v. Coakley decided to remove Massachuset’s buffer zone between anti-abortion protesters and women seeking services at abortion clinics. The description in the SCOTUS Bulletin syllabus states “McCullen and the other petitioners are individuals who attempt to engage women approaching Massachusetts abortion clinics in ‘sidewalk counseling,’ which involves offering information about alternatives to abortion and help pursuing those options.”

Glenda Bailey-MershonOn June 27, Glenda Bailey-Mershon author o Eve’s Garden posted on Facebook, “What I can attest to is that those anti-abortion protestors who hit me over the head with their signs and stomped on my feet deliberately as I helped women into the clinic were definitely not interested in helping anyone.” She went on to comment, “one wonders why no one notes the clear history of violence at clinics . . . [The petitioners] claimed they couldn’t ‘counsel’ women freely at such a distance, so the Court decided their rights of free speech were violated. Believe me, they aren’t interested in having a conversation with the women they terrorize.”

Bailey-Mershon, who presented at the Jane’s Stories 2014 Harvest Retreat forWomen Authors,  also posted,“The ‘free speech’ the Supreme Court is protecting in McCullen vs. Coakley includes ‘eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, forty-two bombings, 181 arsons, as well as thousands of cases of criminal activity like kidnapping, stalking, and a rash of attacks using butyric acid’ at or near abortion clinics since the Roe v. Wade decision.2 If all that were happening at the Supreme Court, their buffer zone would be in Pennsylvania.”

While, in the early days, most of the related news stories were about the clinic bombings and other violence, not all anti-abortion activists approve of violence and intimidation. I remember hearing conservatives disapprove of an executive order by George H. W. Bush preventing health care professionals from even discussing abortion. These conservatives understood this gag applied to them as well as to the pro-choice camp and words can be even more effective than a bop on the head. Still, when one “speak[s] softly and carry[ies] a big stick,” one usually intends to burnish that stick as a weapon.

Ed Bailey-Mershon, Glenda’s husband, commented on the first post, “Whenever Glenda went on clinic duty, I was concerned and proud. Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is not protected speech, but swinging a stick with a placard attached [and] yelling ‘murderer’ is protected speech.”

Inconsistency may be the “hobgoblin of small minds” but it has been a staple of politics since the dawn of government. In the early 1970s, as a reporter, I covered a lecture by a representative of the Jewish Defense League. He showed photos of the Nazi headquarters in Berwyn, Illinois that sat on the border between a black neighborhood and a white neighborhood. The Nazi’s put up signs on either side meant to inflame racist feelings in both communities. When hate becomes a passion, we call it a sickness and let that explain dangerous action and rhetoric. When the same action and rhetoric stems from beliefs we understand, we refrain from labeling it. We may decry it or reel in shock, but someone will scream “free speech,” and we back away.

Nazi’s have the same right to free speech as liberals. All religious beliefs must be heard and respected, but respect is an attitude not necessarily an action. With the right of free speech, comes the right not to listen. What the Supreme Court has done is refused to listen to those who believe it’s the right of women to consult with their own physicians rather than to ascribe the Court majority’s religious beliefs. One might say what the Court has done is stomp on the constitutional separation between church and state.

We can hope to someday have a Supreme Court majority who will not risk calling violence speech or equate a corporation with a human being, but, clearly, this is not that day.
1. source Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project via Wikipedia
2. See

Posted in economy, family, feminism, Glenda Bailey-Mershon, hobgoblins, politics, Supreme Court, violence | 3 Comments

Please, Visit My New Website

Judy M. Goodman Website

I’ve been waiting too long. eternal anticipation! So I took the plunge. Please, visit my brand new website at

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Jane’s Stories 2014 Harvest Retreat for Women Writers

October 4, 2014
9am – 5pm
Hackney’s on Lake
1514 E. Lake
Glenview, IL

Christine SwanbergGBMButterflyHackney's on Lake

Christine Swanberg and Glenda Bailey-Mershon presenters

Workshops: “Poetry Presentation” & “Rescuing Abandoned Fiction”

Logon to the JSPF Website to Learn More

Posted in Christine Swanberg, finishing your novel, Glenda Bailey-Mershon, novel, poetry, writing | Leave a comment

Kevlar Education

Life is full of triggers. I can’t always predict when something will happen that will spark sensory memories or casual remarks or images can send me into a spiral of teenage insecurity. Most people deal with those as best they can. Of course, some have better coping mechanisms than others, but perhaps that’s what Life is trying to teach us.

Imagine my surprise when my friend Nemo Flagrank brought the New York Times NYTimes banner September 18, 1851.article called “Literary Canons Could Make Students Squirm” to my attention. Apparently, some students are requesting that academic institutions, as a matter of policy, put disclaimers on class material that might be graphic or otherwise difficult to watch, read about, or listen to. Images that might trigger their sadness, frustration or insecurity.

On the surface, that seems a reasonable request, but in a political environment that has pitted Progressives against Regressives, it shelters a very steep slippery slope. Too easily, “trigger warnings” can be interpreted as get-out-of-class-free cards or, worse, a  portent of curriculum censorship.

Too many boomers are mourning the loss of portions of our childhood which were sublime and healthy: safe streets, long, clear-aired summers, curricula unfettered by financial concerns, and, for many of us, reasonable teachers. The problem is not everyone experienced those tastes of utopia. It was a world of open racism that rebounded in years of anger and violence. Years that introduced “Political Correctness,” a good concept, flawed in practice. Awareness of others’ feelings can be very healing; seeing hateful intent everywhere can be very harmful.

For example, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has been criticized and, in some placesYoung Mark Twain expurgated, for his “White Man’s” portrayal of the Slave Jim and other people of color. During the era of first change in mid-1900 America, this view was a painful reminder not just of the introduction of slaves to the US and the indignation the slaves suffered, but of the obstacles minorities still faced. However, Mark Twain considered slavery an abomination. He wrote extensively, in essay and fiction, about human rights.


L Roma Evicted R Aleppo Refugees

In 2014, it’s still not easy for minorities who endure the evils born of hate, and here, regardless of laws passed to equalize the playing field not only for minorities in general, but for women as well. Despite the positive changes to our still-flawed society, reminders of where we started both as communities and individuals, can be painful, triggering emotions we’d rather not feel. Is it any less painful to have lived in an abusive household than to have tried to live in a community that made no place for you? I don’t know. I doubt there’s even any answer.

As I read “Literary Canons Could Make Students Squirm” I was reminded of a movie with Joan Crawford called “Goodbye My Fancy” (1951.) In it, Crawford plays a congresswoman invited back to the “all-girl” college from which she’d been expelled to make the commencement address and show a film she’s commissioned about state-sponsored bullies. The atmosphere on that campus is very much at odds with what’s happening on real campuses today. In the film, the college board has been systematically stripping the curriculum of anything that might make the female students think (“a dangerous activity for any female”) or feel unsafe in the world (they will, after all, have husbands to protect them.) Yet the students take issue with that process. Crawford’s character remembers the compliant college president as a young, spirited professor who excoriated what he called the “educaterers,” the very people to whom he is bending in his post-war academic community.

Women Graduates 1927 OH U.

Intrepid Women

What a difference 60 years make. When educating females beyond high school was still a privilege rather than a right, I suppose women students had to be more intrepid. They were the pioneers rather than the propagandized. Today’s children are bombarded with messages that education, sports, and show business are the only roads out of poverty or familial prisons, and there is certainly truth in those messages.

Even if it were possible to be “safe” from the unexpected, what a boring, and possibly unfulfilling life that would be. Hiding from negative emotion may or may not prevent further hurt. Even if it does, that level of openness would also protect those who hide from the positive experiences that could, bit by bit, overcome the negatives.

No disrespect to the students who’ve asked for warnings, but Life is full of triggers and I was told college was meant to help prepare you to live in the practical world. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, cringing from what the literature may reflect strengthens neither our resolve nor the mechanisms we could building to help us face Life.

1. New York Times: — First issue of The New York Daily Times, on September 18, 1851.
2. Mark Twain: — Mark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871.
3. [L]Spiegel Online: — Roma families push shopping carts with their belongings after being evicted by French police from their illegal camp near the Var River in Nice, southeastern France, November 27, 2013. About fifty migrants from Romania were evicted from an illegal camp on November 27, 2013 where they had been living for 5 months. Six families with school-age children have received emergency housing at an hotel in Nice, as they wait for council housing. The other families have left the encampment with their belongings and will ask for a repatriation grant to Romania. Picture taken November 27, 2013.   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard. [R]
4.”Goodbye My Fancy” Original theatrical poster:
5. 1927 Women Graduates of Ohio University: — From Archive.Org; The Athena yearbook, 1927. A graduating seniors page, from the Ohio University Archives.
Posted in ethics, feminism, nostalgia, politics, powerlessness, proper response, psychology, trigger, trigger warnings, violence | Tagged , | 2 Comments




The other morning I saw an episode of “Torchwood”1 that reminded me of a gender myth about flexibility. How important, whether in simple conversation or in complicated social evolutions, is it for us to roll with the punches? Be prepared for the upheavals that start as microblips? In “Out of Time”2 Torchwood meets a plane after a presumably short flight from London to Cardiff. Though not always prepared for what faces them, the valiants of Torchwood received a simple time slip which brought the pilot and passengers from 1953 into the 21st century with a little less stress than facing an alien invasion offered them.


1950s Life4

What a perfect time to bring them from.3 Though society was less naive after World War II, folks kept a death grip on innocence. It was a time that would be less shocked by 21st-century changes in technologies, than in the changes in social conventions. There were so few women in business, that they were a rather well-kept secret.


2014 State of the Union5

The 2014 State of the Union address pointed out areas in which women in business, while much more prominent, are still lacking parity with their male counterparts and, while those issues were not addressed in the opposition’s rebuttal, they are still hot issues in a time when the Tea Party seems to want to take us back to the way it was in the 1950s.

Ward Cleaver

Gone all day; wise all night6

The only male aboard the plane in the “Torchwood” episode, passenger John, was not prepared to find himself in a new century with his family gone and such daunting changes to make. He chose not to live a new life. My first response was that the three stories had predictable results. I’d always heard that women were more flexible than men. Of course, we’ve had to be, particularly in the fifties and sixties when women’s lives began to broaden. The possibilities were increasing for all women rather than for the strong few who did not need external nurturing to follow their bliss. I was a toddler in 1953 and it seemed that most of the women of my generation – at least, the ones who got the publicity – flowed with the enlarging of a woman’s possibilities a lot easier than I did.


1950’s Woman’s Place7

Women in the 1950s and 1960s did not invent feminism, but, by the close of the sixties, they were ready en masse to fight for it. They began to see they had a lot to gain. On the other hand, men seemed less flexible because they perceived they had an equal amount, if not more, to lose. In the decades between 1969 and 1999, I saw a lot of insecure men who felt cheated because they had to compete with women in business arenas which had been primarily male playgrounds or as if a field in which even women could succeed was no longer worthy of them. They seemed unaware that the playing fields were still slanted in their favor.


Andrea Dworkin8

I have conservative friends who understand the changes were good and I’ve got conservative friends who are “clueless.” Just as severely insecure men were waiting for champions like comedian Andrew Dice Clay who verbally bashed women in frightening ways, some families who missed the entire second wave of feminists may be waiting for deceptive comfort the retro politicians aiming at the women who chose differently than “feminists” and “liberals” whom the politicians choose to demonize. The vilification of those two liberals and feminists has effectively blotted out “second wave” of feminist who were fighting equally as hard for women to choose to work within the family structure and to be taken equally seriously in terms of financial security.


1950’s Innocence9

Some conservatives seem to believe that the women who chose to serve in capacities previously limited to men have in some way stolen something from those who chose tradition over the alternatives. And don’t think for one moment society did not go through the same phase after the changes brought by the Civil Rights Movement. People will persist in believing that their lost opportunities are someone else’s fault. Most of the richest men in the world can’t help give the impression that the money earned or given members of the lower class represent money they are being deprived of. So? Can your never have too much money, but have too little to matter? Can a same-sex marriage on the west coast take something vital from a family in the Midwest? Can a female CEO of Yahoo10 steal some intangible thing from a housewife in Florida? Is a woman CEO of Mary K. Cosmetics11 is less a threat than a female CEO of General Motors12?

Still protesting

Still Protesting13

You might think so, but I don’t see it. What I see is a portion of society under siege by those who would steal power through fear tactics. Those who would prey on natural insecurities promising to transport us back to the fifties when we “prospered” over the unworthy. Maybe liberals and feminists fight harder now because we have so much more to lose than those who chose traditional lives. Author and life coach Steven Barnes14 has said we need conservatives to nurture life as we grow and we need liberals to keep us from stagnating. I can’t imagine a life without either of them. I can’t imagine a life without feminists either. For it is they who would teach women and men to be strong and unafraid in the lives they choose.

1. “Torchwood” is a spinoff of Dr. Who about an organization that deals with extra-worldly threats like aggressive aliens and time flotsam.
3. In case there are among my readers those who would criticize that sentence, I refer you to Merriam Webster’s video in which Associate Editor Emily Brewster questions the distaste we have for ending a sentence with a preposition. This folderol began within a 1672 English review by poet, playwright, essayist John Dryden which castigated the previous generation of writers (including Shakespeare and Ben Johnson) for many things, including ending a sentence with a preposition — probably because Latin doesn’t allow it. Dryden’s suggestion got passed down as grammar law. She postulates that perhaps a sentence-end preposition may sound bad because we’ve been conditioned to thinks so, but it was perfectly legitimate until Dryden stuck his nose in the air. Sometimes the opposite sounds worse. As in the famous, if apocryphal Winston Churchill quote: “This is just the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put.” Brewster suggests you decide what sounds better to you
10. Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo
11. Mary K. Ash, founder of Mary Kay, Inc., now run by her son Richard Rogers.
12. Mary T. Barra, CEO GM.

Posted in blogging, debate, ethics, feminism | 1 Comment