Editor's Note Weekend Whirl

Pay to Pee

I do not care about the rented studio for the Secret Service; keeping the First Family safe is important enough that agents who do it deserve a decent, convenient place to work and pee. Kudos to the business owner who rented it to them for making a deal that was within the market price but not exploitive (I’m sure the GSA had something to do with the rent amount). While I’m very glad that family has lost the prestige and power of the White House, I do not wish violence upon them.

Part of my non-reaction to the Toilet Flush of 2021 is likely because I remember not being able to access bathrooms freely while teaching and also remember the experience I had at a curriculum training when I worked as a teacher for LA Unified. We were sent to a hotel that had meeting rooms, adult-sized chairs, and coffee but was by no means fancy. It was three full days of intensive work that made me feel respected and professional. Also I got to pee in a clean, well-lighted public restroom instead of the converted closet at the opposite end of the hallway from my classroom.

A month later the LA Times revealed that the district had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at hotels on these trainings. Every elementary school teacher in the district -had- to do them to ensure that the program was delivered properly, dozens of experts had been flown in to provide the training, and the training expenses had been included when the district chose it. Yet apparently, all of us with full-time jobs teaching were also supposed to give up nights and weekends so we could get trained when the school facilities weren’t in use.

Those who complain about public servants and professionalism might keep in mind the message sent when they also complain about the conditions under which we serve.

Weekend Whirl

(Women Are) Making it in America

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve been writing a lot of cards, status updates, and emails. Does that count? Ok, maybe not. I’m also reading a lot, as ever, and here’s my latest weekend whirl for you:

Making it in America by Adam Davidson

I stumbled across this article via my weekly email from… and just had to read it after I saw the opening image, snapped by Dean Kaufman. Apparently Rosie the Riveter lives on in the twenty-first century, but unfortunately there’s a complicated economic, political and social calculus around her endangered existence. An interesting article set partly in South Carolina, which is getting a lot of attention tonight because of the presidential primary. Will we forget the Palmetto State again tomorrow?

At Melody Record Shop, sadness and a tinge of guilt as an era ends by Jessica Goldstein

Years ago, my second job was in a retail chain record store. I learned a lot about music just working there, but still probably nothing compared to Jack and Suzy Menase, who have literally done nothing else with their whole lives. I’d say they’ve done a whole lot of good by creating a home for music lovers. And their store closure is another sign of changing times…

Joe Paterno’s first interview since the Penn State-Sandusky scandal by Sally Jenkins

Things are improving in some areas, and recognizing the problem of sexual molestation is one. We’ve come a long way in the past few years, but not yet far enough. I believe that we are all mandated reporters. That said, I don’t think we can know what really happened or judge others faced with the horrorific fact of a sexual predator in their midst. Joe Paterno is gravely ill and will pass beyond the cares of this tired earth long before the town of State College recovers from its terrible awakening. His mark on Penn State will never be erased, though there will always be an asterisk next to his name — *fired midseason for failure to inform legal authorities and fully protect children. Caught between the decade of his birth when such things could not be discussed, and today’s glaring hot demands for transparency, accountability and justice, there is no doubt that he stumbled. But can we grant him some dignity and forgiveness?

Weekend Whirl

Repetition, Repetition, Art: Stories about 9/11

Practice has always bored me, ever since piano lessons so many years ago. I like mastery, but I’m not that into repetition. It bores me and I have to convince myself that practice is worthwhile. But it is repetition that increases our skill at any given pursuit and that makes it powerful.

Poets and writers sometimes use repetition deliberately, skillfully, carefully to increase the dramatic effect of what they’re saying. Often the media uses it like a bludgeon, smashing whatever power it has and dulling our senses instead of sharpening them. The recent wall-to-wall coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 exemplifies that and though I avoided much of it since I don’t own a tv, there were a few stories that stood out.

Many of the stories about the Pentagon crash were new to me, since we just moved here a few months ago and the fate of the Twin Towers dominated so much of the national coverage. We noticed how visceral the events of 9/11 remain for people who lived through it while the rest of us tuned in from afar.

What struck me about the stories below is the perseverance of each person. It takes determination and sometimes daunting daily tasks to survive the unspeakable and restore life from mere existence back into art. It takes love, and patience, and kindness.

Woman Who Lost Parents on 9/11 Will Always Wonder: Why?

by Dan Zak, Washington Post, September 8, 2011

Life can stop at any second, she says, so it is precious. Think about how you should lead your life now.She sets the kitchen table with chopsticks, nudging each pair into parallel formation.She has come to one other conclusion: She will never have peace. Whatever’s truly in her heart cannot be identified, cannot be put under a microscope, cannot be diagnosed, studied, cured.

But focus on the pathology of life — the “Why?” — and it can kill you. So you pull back. You zoom out as far as you can, and a single day becomes a week becomes a month becomes a year becomes a decade.

Little Noticed or Known, They Bear Scars of That Day

by Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe, September 6, 2011

They are the rarely noticed casualties of the terrorist attacks: the security guard, the ticket agent, the baggage handler on the ramp. They made it home that night, but with images they couldn’t shake, a pain uncomfortable to voice. They can’t believe it has been 10 years. They can’t believe it has only been 10 years.


9/11 Widow Still Trying to Find Her New Normal

by Eli Saslow, Washington Post, September 2, 2011

It was a Monday morning 10 years later, and they had regained control…

It was a Monday morning 10 years later, and they were still falling apart.


A Moment of Silence

by Steve Friedman, Runner’s World, August 2006 via Longreads

“What do I think about?” he says. “God, just about everything. Am I on target for my marathon goal? How am I going to pay my daughters’ college tuition? Do I have good retirement plans?”Some days–one of life’s mysteries–he thinks of that terrible morning five years ago.
Weekend Whirl

Weekend Whirl, July 2

Two great reads, both centered on women in our fine capital city… and a recipe for the holiday weekend!

Decades after duty in the OSS and CIA, “spy girls” find each other in retirement
by Ian Shapira

Growing up in my neighborhood, calling the Donovan girls meant getting a babysitter… one of us was almost always available. For these women, working for Wild Bill Donovan at either the Office of Strategic Services or the CIA meant international travel and intrigue, if not glamor. Fun, but no chit-chat allowed in the cafeteria.

The Trinity Sisters
by Kevin Carey

Ever since I moved here, I’ve seen ads for Trinity College and wondered ‘does DC really need another institute of higher education?’ Apparently the answer is yes. Much to the consternation of the establishment, the school was founded in 1897 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to serve Catholic women not allowed to attend nearby Catholic University of America. Its notable graduates include Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and Carole Black as well as “prominent female scientists, scholars, doctors, educators, judges, and public servants in numbers far out of proportion to its size.” A little revolution goes a long way…

And now for the food:

Honey Mustard Marinade

½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pepper
½ cup mustard (dijon works great)
1 cup honey
2-3 tbs. wine vinegar (garlic red, or white)

Mix together cumin, nutmeg, pepper, mustard and honey. Then add vinegar one tablespoon at a time until desired taste and consistency are reached. Pour over your favorite meat, refrigerate for 30 mins or more, then grill, broil or bake to your heart’s content.

Enjoy the long weekend, and remember to honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Weekend Whirl

Weekend Whirl, June 25

Though I wasn’t writing much this week, I was reading a lot, which is what got me into the mess of becoming a writer. Here’s some of what I plowed through that you might enjoy. I’m finding lots of amazing writing by and about women, and that’s inspiring me. News events are also compelling me to keep my head down and work… there’s so much to be done. After we dance, of course.

Online Gems

Supreme Court rules in Wal-Mart’s favor: How the sides are reacting

by Warren Richey for the Christian Science Monitor. A nice summary, though no surprises. Impressive law professor, check. Nancy Pelosi, check. Chamber of Commerce spokesperson, check. Wal-Mart shoppers, oops. I guess they don’t matter in this particular story. Or do they?

Jill Abramson: Built Truck Tough

by Jack Schafer, Slate’s media critic, who thinks she’s the right person for the job of executive editor at the New York Times. His colleague Ron Rosenbaum turned cartwheels and called for the return of the ERA campaign. Which approach do you like better?

Senior Year is Supposed to be a Transformative Time, but not like this

by Sandy Banks, one of the many great LA Times columnists I now follow from afar. Sandy has a gift for making the quotidian sublime, and for illuminating a person’s story with infectious compassion. I hope this short piece about a young woman tragically orphaned grows into a compelling book with a happy ending.

Feminism in the 21st Century

by Zoe Williams, columnist for the Guardian UK. Yes, it was nice of her to review such interesting books just as I started a blog about women in the 21st century. No, I’m not going to steal her homework and gist it – read it yourself!

Offline Jewel

Across a Hundred Mountains

There’s a lot of fuss about Jose Antonio Vargas and the DREAM Act this weekend. Testimonials about immigration are essential in the public discourse, but sometimes fiction illuminates even more than a true story.  I recommend Reyna Grande’s masterful debut novel which explores the forces that lure people across the border through the quest of two young women – one American-born, one Mexican-born – searching for their loved ones. Grande is also writing a memoir about her experience as a child brought to the United States illegally. I can’t wait to read that, but there’s a reason her novel has been chosen by multiple cities and schools for their community read programs. Check it out…