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Our family found the perfect solution to the family Thanksgiving gathering following the contentious, antagonistic 2016 election and its shocking outcome. When the plan was first presented I wasn’t impressed. I’m a traditionalist who has always gone to great lengths to invite friends and family for an old fashioned Thanksgiving gathering in my home with turkey and stuffing and cranberry relish and pumpkin pie, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That’s my vision of Thanksgiving and I was not excited about a Japanese dinner and show in its stead.

But that was then, i.e: before the election.

Now the election was over and a family gathering with opposing opinions and passions was bound to be awkward. Those who had supported Hillary didn’t want to talk about it at all while Trump supporters could speak of nothing else.

While those in Trump’s camp said things like, “He won. She lost. Get over it!”, Hillary’s supporters were still raw with grief and disbelief. They couldn’t imagine how any discourse could take place with someone from the other side, even those they’d loved and respected all their lives.

But this election had changed all that. If it hadn’t been Thanksgiving, we probably wouldn’t have been in the same room, perhaps ever again. Except maybe for a family wedding and funeral.

ICHIBAN

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-1-36-24-pm

But it was Thanksgiving, and our group was to meet in the foyer just inside Ichiban, a Japanese restaurant on the western edge of Harrah’s Casino in Reno. It boasts “The best tasting show in Reno.” Skilled chefs wielding ultra-sharp knives and various other culinary implements prepare sizzling food, from appetizers to entrées, with breath-taking flourishes and life-threatening displays, right at your table, within inches of you.

We showed up early for our reservation. Then, buzzer in hand, we waited for the others in the foyer. First to arrive were Ron’s daughter and grandson, “Brenda” and “Phil,” whose votes and passions coincided with ours. No problem there. Then his son and daughter-in-law, “Drake” and “Amanda,” and their kids, “Jake” and “Emma.” Again, no disagreement. However, the dissenters, my sister and brother-in-law, “Rick” and “Marilyn,” and Amanda’s parents, “Bob” and “Kathryn,” trickled in to fill up the 12-seat table.

Brief, insincere hugs all around. Mid-hug, Bob gloated, “I told you Trump would w…”

The buzzer in my hand came to life; humming and vibrating. “Our table’s ready,” screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-1-47-35-pmI quickly cut him off. Our entire party snapped to attention and, led by a non-asian woman in a green silk kimono, entered through a Japanese-style doorway. She led us to a configuration in the center of the restaurant where she indicated we were to sit around the outside edge of a 12-foot-wide U-shaped table, in the middle of which was positioned a stainless steel grill. Amanda served as a buffer zone between her parents and the rest of us. They sat at the end of one leg of the U. My sister Marilyn sat next to me; she and her husband Rick at the end of the U’s other leg.

No one spoke while the fan-shaped menus were studied. As it turned out, the width of the tablescreen-shot-2016-12-02-at-1-57-52-pm made dialogue difficult, if not impossible, anyway. The only one you could converse with, without shouting, was the person on either side of you. And sometimes not even them.

Ichiban is the noisiest five-star restaurant I’ve ever been in. Each of the tables was the same as ours; the chef in its center entertaining his diners, banging metal gadgets on the steel grill, throwing and catching them and other objects behind his back (to his diner’s cheers and applause), and last, but not least, producing loud, fiery explosions on the stove.

At our table, anyway, the only ones inclined to shout over the din were those crowing about their candidate’s victory. Everyone else was content to focus on the food and the show. I ordered a small carafe of hot saké to see me through.

Throughout the dinner, whenever someone attempted to make a statement across the broad expanse of table and grill, the chef created a ruckus. The first was an onion volcano. That onion exploded — BOOM! — and a jet of flame shot up at least six feet as we sipped our miso soup and nibbled the delicate cucumber salad.screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-1-37-01-pm

Not that anyone could have been heard over the hubbub anyway, but it was almost as if the chef was in on the joke and timed his culinary displays to coincide with their attempts at conversation.

Next, he drummed a little tune, beating spatulas on the grill, and tossing one or both over his head, catching them without a glance in their direction. He was a skilled entertainer. An assistant came out from the kitchen with our entrée items which he held in place while the chef created another fiery conflagration before our eyes. When it died down he artfully flipped our entrées onto the sizzling grill: small lobster tails, scallops, chunks of filet screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-1-37-16-pmmignon, chicken and vegetables. All this was accompanied by the clatter and banging of spatulas on the cooking surface as he acrobatically flipped and tossed the food about. Then with the world’s sharpest knives, he sliced them up so fast the knife was a blur, all the while rat-a-tat-tatting on the steel cooking surface.

With theatrical flourishes he served them up on our plates, dished up sticky rice after throwing the rice bowls around, magically transferring their contents from one bowl to another in mid-air, and left us to dine. Little conversation was attempted while we concentrated on getting food into our mouths with bamboo chopsticks.

The racket, both at our table and throughout the restaurant, did not let up the entire time we were there. We finished our Ichiban Thanksgiving dinner with green tea ice cream.

We paid our bills and left. At the door, we quickly said goodbye to our relatives and hurried off in five different directions.

Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner, all things considered

In retrospect, our Japanese Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely perfect. Not only was the food magnificent, the entertainment was excellent — truly “the best-tasting show in town” — it may have been the only way we could have survived this awkward social event without painfully and bitterly ending lifelong relationships. A small price to pay for having to forego a traditional turkey dinner.

Maybe time will heal all wounds. Maybe by next Thanksgiving things will be different. We can only hope.

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It’s November 9, 2016, the morning after the election in which Donald J. Trump became our president-elect. I’m not just sad, I’m in shock. I’m also in grief. Please just let me have that. Don’t try to talk me out of it. Don’t say things like, Oh maybe it won’t be so bad. Or, It’ll be okay, we’ll survive this. Or, Maybe he’ll rise to the occasion. Maybe he won’t be the same old Donald Trump.

Dear God, I hope that’ll be the case.

But right now, I don’t want to hear it. I just want to feel what I’m feeling. I just want to grieve.

Saying those things right now would be like telling a bride whose intended is struck dead as she approaches the altar, “Well, it’s okay.” “You’ll survive.” “It was meant to be.” or “Maybe somebody better will come along.”

This morning I feel like that bride must feel. With Hillary Clinton heading to the White House, I felt full of hope and confidence, and, yes, even love. I was excited not only that a woman would be president, but a woman who has our best interests in her heart and her policy plans, a woman who cares about other people and the planet itself. She believes in inclusion and equality for all. I would have felt almost as excited if a man with those same qualities were the candidate. We all were heading for a better America and a better world. A better future. We were that close. We were approaching the altar. And our intended was struck down.

In shock and grief, I just want to lick my wounds. I just want to grieve.

And don’t, for God’s sake, say, “Well, there are more women voters in the U.S. than men, so a lot of women voted for him.” Yes, that’s true, and I don’t want to hear it right now. I don’t want logic. I just what to feel what I’m feeling.

However, since you brought it up, don’t you suppose that those women who voted for Trump did so because they are brainwashed by our male-dominated culture to believe that a man is better equipped to handle a job of authority than is a woman? On NPR on election day there was an exit interview of a woman who had just voted for Trump. When asked why, she said simply, “Because he’s a man.”

So, here we have it, the age-old inequality. A woman who is über-qualified was defeated by a man who has no qualifications whatsoever for the office of president of the United States.

I recall that when, several years ago, some tests were done to determine the degree of prejudice that exists in children of color, the black children overwhelmingly chose a white doll or action figure. Our culture had taught them that white is preferable. So they denied their own reality and chose the other.

Our culture has done that with females too. We renounce our own gender’s intelligence and capabilities in favor of what society values. For most of my life women were not allowed to hold positions of authority. It was not uncommon for a brilliant, capable woman to be forced to train the man – or a succession of men — who would become her boss. I wouldn’t be even a little bit surprised to learn that Donald J. Trump wishes he could call up Hillary Clinton and ask her to help him learn the ropes as he struggles in the role of president.

I’m working my way through the five stages of grief:

DENIAL: I waited until the very last, when Trump went over the 270 electoral votes, to say, “It’s over.” And even then, I couldn’t believe it. I’m still hoping I’ll wake up and it will have been just a nightmare.

ANGER: Boy, am I mad. I’m so furious that the people of this country could be so unbelievably stupid. I’m angry that Trump has vowed to dump the progressive programs that were so hard-won: LGBT rights, the global climate control initiative, the Iran nuclear treaty, accessible health care. I’m angry that he will have the opportunity to choose Supreme Court justices who will take the country back 50 – 100 years. I’m angry that he has made displays of bigotry and misogyny and hatred okay again. We will live with that for a long long time.

BARGAINING: I cannot see how this is appropriate, except maybe to beg God to turn Trump into a decent person. I don’t wish him dead, because then Mike Pence would be president, and if anything, Pence is even worse.

DEPRESSION: Yes, definitely depression. I’m wallowing in it, if you want to know the truth. So just leave me alone and let me wallow.

ACCECPTANCE: This one will take awhile. And maybe it will never come.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-10-43-05-amI can’t begin to tell you how much I regret the election of Donald J. Trump. I hope he proves me wrong and turns out to be good for America. But I seriously doubt it.

When people show you who they are, believe them. I think he did a fine job in showing us what a total asshole he is and so many still voted for him. I’m truly scared.                                                        (Author unknown)

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… when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything …

grab ’em by the pussy … you can do anything.

Donald J. Trump, Republican presidential candidate 2016 

When the video of this 2005 conversation with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood hit the airwaves all hell broke loose. Trump denied he ever actually did anything like that. “Words,” he said, “just words” … “… locker room talk” and “No one respects women more than me.”

Then women began to come forward accusing him of actually doing it to them. Sexually assaulting them.

And then the base expanded beyond Trump to expose the larger problem.

Twitter invitation: Tweet your first assault story

On Twitter a woman named Kelly Oxford shared the story of the first time, at age 12, she was sexually assaulted … when a man on a city bus grabbed her genitals (she used the p-word) and grinned at her. No, it wasn’t Donald Trump, just some guy who likewise felt entitled to “do things to women.”

Women,” she wrote. “Tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats.”

A deluge of responses came in from the first minute. She said that if she didn’t get any replies in the first ten minutes she’d take her tweet down. But they came in, thousands of them. It seems one doesn’t have to be “a star” to “do things” to girls and women they don’t even know … or even worse, to girls and women they do know. Women’s first assault stories told of: being groped, penetrated, rubbed against, exposed to, masturbated on, stalked, slapped, raped, or forcibly kissed by fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, brothers, stepbrothers, uncles, babysitters, classmates, teachers, doctors, priests, and friends, as well as total strangers on the street, bus or subway, or at a concert or theater. Even within Twitter’s limit of 140 characters, they spoke eloquently. That first evening more than a million women responded with their own stories. And it’s not over. Thousands more are tweeted every day. Some are telling theirs through the hashtag #NOTokay or on Facebook.

Most of Oxford’s tweeters had never told anyone their story. And many who had were not believed, or worse, they were blamed. Often, the discrediting of the victim began. She had to be made to seem untrustworthy: her previous behavior justified it; she was a liar; she had dressed provocatively; she had moved erotically; she was a flirt; she was no damn good; she deserved it.

Many have carried the shame and guilt of the experience ever after.

Now, with Donald Trump’s example of sexual assault being treated as merely something to smirk at and dismiss, a firestorm has been released. It turns out that men of all social strata, not just celebrities, feel entitled to “do things to women”. And it’s not just an American problem. Women all over the world have the same sort of experiences. It’s even worse in the more male-dominated cultures.

I want to believe that men who behave so disrespectfully are aberrations. Outside the norm. Weirdos. Sociopaths. But it’s such a common story. I wonder if every little girl or woman has a similar story. I cannot imagine any man in my acquaintance doing such a thing. But that may be why it’s so easy for men to get away with it. Most sexual predators probably seem like normal, everyday, commonplace guys, not depraved perverts lurking in the shadows. My years as a therapist taught me that it’s often the most “moral” … the “holier than thou” … men who are the most rapacious. One of my clients, a thirty-something woman, the daughter of a judge and pillar of church and community, had been raped by her very respectable father throughout her teen and pre-teen years.

My own assaults: 1st and 2nd

Here’s my own first assault story: I was about seven. My daddy had died two years earlier. By the time I was seven I’d adjusted to not having a man around to hold me on his lap and let me know he loved me, but I still yearned for the male presence.

My friend Kay, who was eight, lived two houses down Palm Avenue. Her family’s friend, Clyde, a man in his 50s or 60s, often visited Kay’s home. He enjoyed playing on the front lawn with Kay and me – acrobatics, gymnastics, that sort of thing – and we enjoyed the attention. All very innocent. Until one day it wasn’t. Right out there on the lawn, before God and everyone, with cars going by on the busy street, he slipped a finger inside my underpants, down between my legs, and stroked my little-girl crotch. I thought it strange, but he wasn’t hurting me.

Before long Kay, who’d had the same done to her, told her mother and Kay’s mother told my mother, who asked, “Did he do this to you too?” I said yes. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I didn’t know why.

‘Cause I didn’t know I was supposed to?

‘Cause I didn’t think it was a big deal(?) … it didn’t hurt.

‘Cause I was afraid he’d quit playing with us?

‘Cause he was the only man who paid any attention to me?

‘Cause he was a grown-up and you don’t question grown-ups’ actions?

I don’t know. But I do know I’d never been told not to let anyone touch me down there. I guess Mom thought it unnecessary in our fairly sheltered life. And I was only seven. Just a little kid.

My other instance of “sexual assault” came from my stepfather, starting when I was about 13. This was the groping kind. From behind me, if Mom wasn’t around, his big old ugly hand grabbed my barely-formed breast or cupped my bottom. He totally disgusted me. I shuddered with revulsion. Each time it happened I smacked his hand away, gave him a grossed-out look, and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind me. He must have enjoyed my reaction. His favorite thing was “getting someone’s goat,” and I was his favorite victim. I don’t know how often it happened, but it was often enough that I developed an automatic response which lasted for years: whenever anyone touched me as my stepfather had, without thinking, I smacked his hand away – which didn’t set too well with my husband (years later).

Like the Creepy-Clyde-crotch-rub, I never told Mom about her husband groping me. I don’t know if it was because by then she was already wracked with cancer or if I just I felt I could handle it myself. It was between him and me. No need to bother her. (In my book of memoirs – THAT’S LIFE – I titled one of the chapters about him, “Rude, Crude, and Lewd”.)

What exactly is “sexual assault”?

It’s only very recently that I’ve come to think of this kind of thing as “sexual assault”. In each case it was unwelcome, but assault is a ten-ton word. My stepfather was abusive in many ways, but was that sexual abuse … just putting his hand on me? It was a major annoyance, but assault? I thought of rape as assault, and since I hadn’t been raped I maintained that I was one of the lucky girls who had never been sexually assaulted. I see now that I may need to expand my definition.

And what about the name-calling? Those obscene epithets that refer to gender-specific parts of the female anatomy, or the many that refer to a woman’s character, relative to sexual behavior. We’ve all heard them. They’re all over rap music and the youth culture. Is it sexual assault when they’re directed at a specific female? Maybe.

Why do some men “do things to women”?

But all this begs the basic question: Why do some men “do things to women”? How do they imagine they have that right? What does it say about them psychologically? Are they sickos? Or is it just normal “boys will be boys” behavior? Or what?

Is it a sexual act? It has nothing to do with love or affection. Or does it demonstrate power and control? Does that make the assaulter the “alpha male” who dominates the other into submission? Even fleetingly. Is it brutality and violence? Or merely arrogance? The entitlement of privilege? (Men are and always have been the privileged sex.) Or do they do it simply because they can? Is it because they know that for the most part girls and women either won’t rat them out, or won’t be believed, and they’ll get away with it?

I suspect it’s different for different abusive men … to a point. In every case, however, I believe it is only insecure little men who indulge in assault behavior, a.k.a sexual bullying. Somehow it makes them feel powerful. Superior. Controlling. Privileged. Entitled. Or it could be their means of belonging in a group. In any case, it indicates a serious lack in their character. Men who have healthy self-esteem and self-respect are respectful of others. They do not feel the need to dominate and assault anyone. They are not the abusers.

Why is it that an entire gender is subject to disrespect by the other? It’s called misogyny: Miriam-Webster’s definition: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. It’s from the Greek: misos (hatred) + gune (women). How did it come about and why did it become so ubiquitous?

Trump has exposed our country’s racism, misogyny, and xenophobia

As much as I hate to admit anything good might come out of the Trump candidacy, we may someday – in a far-off future – thank him. He has exposed our country’s racism, which since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 had sort of gone underground. No more. It’s resurfaced, with a vengeance. Membership in the KKK has more than doubled in the last year. (And it’s come to light, thanks to smart-phone-camera evidence of police killings of blacks. In addition, social media has played a huge part in disclosing the grossly uneven justice system insofar as minorities are concerned.)

He has exposed our country’s misogyny. According to spiritual leader and physician Deepak Chopra, Donald Trump’s consciousness is stuck in his genitals. “He thinks with his penis.” 

Women are coming out of the woodwork with their stories of disrespect, assault, and second-class citizenship. Any woman who doesn’t have a personal story of disrespect or discrimination knows many who do.

Trump has exposed its xenophobia. People from (some) other countries or religions or cultures are now fearful of the wrath of those who would malign and vilify them. They no longer feel welcome in this nation of immigrants, this melting pot which, as U2 singer Bono said recently, is “the best idea the world ever came up with.” (He also told Charlie Rose, “Donald Trump is potentially the worst idea that ever happened to America.”)

BTW, he has also exposed our lack of civility. Good manners. He has shown us how, as a society, we lack good breeding.

Not only has he exposed all these things, he has made them acceptable. A whole segment of our society how believes they are okay. So, folks, it’s gonna get a lot worse before it gets better. But I have to believe it will ultimately get better.

You cannot change that which you do not acknowledge

As I used to tell my therapy clients, you can’t change a trait or behavior until you acknowledge it. Trump’s very public, superior, arrogant attitudes and behaviors may have done us the favor of forcing us to acknowledge our worst shortcomings. We may now begin the long, painful process of fixing them. Perhaps by the time our grandchildren are our age, the USA will be a better society because of that troglodyte, Trump. But in the meantime, we must call people out on their misogyny, racism, xenophobia – conscious or unconscious.

We must have The Talk with our daughters, even very young ones. “It’s not okay for someone to touch you without your permission. And if anyone does, kick, scream and holler, then tell someone you trust.” We must teach them to fight back. We must believe them. And we must model for them that they deserve to be treated with respect.

We must have The Talk with our sons as well. They must not be allowed to grow up thinking it’s okay to speak and act in a derogative manner to girls and women (or anyone else). Of course, they’ll learn best by the example of their fathers, uncles, teachers, et cetera. Donald Trump is the anti-role model.

In addition, we must continue the fight for equal opportunities and compensation for all; equal justice and equal rights. Our police departments must acknowledge their systemic racism and work to eliminate it. That’s beginning to happen too. We must work hard to eradicate all the –isms – sexism, racism, nativism, ageism – all those –isms that allow us to imagine we are superior to any other human beings and therefore entitled to treat them badly. Maybe someday we’ll get there.

Maybe someday we’ll even say, “Thank you, Donald Trump.”

Your first assault story

Please add a comment or your own sexual assault story.

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 Last week, on May 25, the Reno Gazette Journal ran a column by a family therapist, Dr. John Rosemond, the title of which was CHILDREN ARE BAD, AND OUR JOB IS TO FIX THEM. His ideas about child-rearing, as stated in his article, made my blood boil. So I wrote and submitted a response. It appeared in today’s paper (June 1, 2016).

In his column he said such things as:

Children are bad…

…Am I correct?

…Are children, by nature, bad? Yes, they are…

…As soon as a child begins to develop language, he begins to lie, as in “I didn’t do it!” He sees something he wants and commits assault to get it. He is irrationally selfish. He steals.

…One does not have to teach children to be bad, they arrive already possessing of that disposition.

…one can, hopefully, overrule MotherFather Nature and transform the little criminal into a pro-social human …

…In a sense, proper parenting is the act of making lemonade out of lemons.

____________________

Here’s my response:

ROSEMOND IS WRONG — CHILDREN ARE NOT BROKEN

by Carol Purroy

“Children are bad, and our job is to fix them” was the headline of a recent column (May 25) by family psychologist John Rosemond. He said that all children are, by nature, “bad.” They lie and steal, and are irrationally selfish. It’s true, they do — but I take umbrage with his terminology.

Small children who behave this way are not “bad.”

They are merely exhibiting the basic primal stage of development. That’s normal. They are not broken. We do not have to “fix” them. As children grow they must learn to “play well with others” and our job is to teach and guide them through each stage on into adulthood.

If we perceive a child as “bad” we respond to his unacceptable behaviors very differently than if we his actions as normal for that stage of development. We we respond with disapproval. We punish him. Some people might take Rosemond’s article on child-rearing to mean that in order to “fix” a child we must beat the “bad” out of him (lovingly, of course). That’s the old “this hurts me more than it hurts you” baloney.

If, on the other hand, we perceive our young child’s self-centered actions as natural for that stage of development, we’re liable to respond to the behavior, rather than to her as a bad child. Label the deed, not the doer. That can make all the difference in how a child perceives him or herself.

Children must be socialized…

to become principled contributors to society. Discipline is, of course, necessary. Children who grow up without it can remain in that early stage of development, to the detriment of themselves and society. Discipline, however, means different things.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “discipline” as:

  • Punishment
  • Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
  • Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.

Parents and the broader society punish those we perceive as “bad.” We gain control over them by enforcing obedience and order. If, however, we view someone as an “OK person” who engaged in undesirable behavior, we’re more likely to correct, mold and perfect their mental faculties and/or moral character.

p.s: I am not a “30-something-year-old.” I am an 80-year-old woman who raised three sons with unconditional love and a firm hand. Not for one minute did I ever consider my children “bad” or as beings who needed “fixing” — and guess what, they turned out great.

_____________________

I ran out of space, but I’d have liked to also say that “proper parenting” according to Rosemond apparently means twisting and squeezing children until all their juice — their very essence — is gone.

What’s your opinion?

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A-Z Ballet Birds
A-Z Ballet Birds

My Meandering Mind

My Meandering Mind

by Carol Purroy

• No, that’s not me dancing on the beach. I haven’t looked … or danced … like that for awhile. But I can dream, can’t I?

I’m starting this blog because all the social media folks and internet gurus say you have to have one. That’s probably why I’ve been so resistant — because I’m an old woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do. Had enough of that: (mostly) dutiful daughter (until I married), (mostly) obedient wife (until I divorced), (mostly) compliant employee (until I quit), et cetera. I “danced backwards, in high-heels” for far too long.

I was in the generation of females who first became aware — with the help of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine, etc. — just how beleaguered and discounted our society’s women were. To “get it” we participated in consciousness raising groups and Women’s Studies classes. Prior to that, we hadn’t questioned that females were referred to as “he” and “him” in both written and spoken word. It was so ingrained in the culture we didn’t even notice it. It was “correct English”. In discussing a person of either gender, or humankind itself, “man” was the word used, e.g: “No man is an island…” (John Donne).

We hadn’t challenged the fact that boys could be anything they wanted to, and girls, for the most part, could be teachers, secretaries, nurses, waitresses, and domestic help. Women were not allowed in positions of authority in any segment of society. Once married, we women were expected to be homemakers (exclusively), and the success of the marriage — and the children — was solely our responsibility. It didn’t occur to anyone that it could be otherwise.

My mother, at age 32, with two young children, was widowed and destitute. Though unprepared for the role of breadwinner, she had no choice. Years later, when I was a teenager, she told me, “It’s more important for boys to go to college; they’ll have to support a family.”

Talk about a disconnect! There she was, the sole support of her family, and she still didn’t get it. That’s how pervasive the male-dominated, masculine-oriented nature of society was.

Back In The Day

Then there’s this old riddle: A young boy and his father are in a car accident. The father dies at the scene. The boy is transported to the hospital and taken immediately into surgery, but the surgeon steps out of the operating room and says, “I can’t operate on this boy … he’s my son!”

(Question): Who is the surgeon?

I doubt that many today would get it wrong, but until very recently it stumped nearly everyone, including hard-core “women’s libbers”. The answer of course is: the surgeon is the boy’s mother. Back in the day (not so long ago), the notion that a surgeon might be a woman was inconceivable.

Likewise, back then, we females never imagined that our opinions might have value, because no one ever listened to us or took us seriously.

Until recently, it didn’t occur to much of anyone that the gender gap in wages (for the same job) was unconscionable. Well, that one is still with us. Women still get only 78¢ to the men’s $1.00.

So, what’s the big deal? A measly 22¢?! But I ask you, how many men would be willing to take a 22% pay cut?

Been there … Done that

But I digress. I started this blog simply to introduce it … and my website … and me… to whomever may want to read it. And my mind just took off, as is its wont, like a flock of birds. I guess I have what Ron, my Significant Other, calls a “Meanderthal Mind”! (He does have a way with words.)

I suspect that’s how my blog will go, so I’ll just call it My Meandering Mind. Sometimes I may write about books and publishing and memoir writing, and classes on writing and publishing — A-Z Publishing’s primary focus. Or I may write about something else. But, unless I have some specific thing to write about, I’ll feel free to let my mind wander and see what comes out. I’ll try to get a one or more blogs posted on my website every week, but may resist following rules — even self-made ones.

Been there … done that.

Smile

Smile!

Cheerio! Please leave a comment if you’re so moved.

‘Til next time,

Carol Purroy, Publisher

p.s.Please click on http://a-zpublishing.com and poke around within the website to see what A-Z Publishing offers.

p.p.s. Be sure to get your free eBook: 12 Tips on Writing Memoirs. Leave your email address in form on left side of page.

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12 Tips on Writing Memoirs

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Nepal Memories

My Meandering Mind

by Carol Purroy

Blog 3: The Majesty of Kathmandu: Nepal Memories: Last week’s news of the earthquake in Nepal was horrific and tragic. In addition to the loss of life, the cataclysmic loss of homes and livelihoods, the destruction of centuries-old temples is heart-breaking. My memories of Nepal and its people are among my most treasured.

In 1985, my (then) husband Wayne and I visited Nepal, on a year-long ’round the world trip. I was turning 50 and my heart’s wish was to celebrate the half-century mark by trekking in the Himalayas — not climbing Mt. Everest, just trekking in the world’s highest mountains. After a torturous few days during which (1.) planes were delayed and connections missed; (2) we were held prisoner in the New Delhi airport under armed guard; (3) we tried sleeping on wood chairs shoved together to avoid the rats on the floor; (4) after a sleepless night we finally took off for Kathmandu. Below are some of my Nepal memories:

Kathmandu

As we rose into the sky the morning of my 50th birthday, my spirits lifted.

Nepal Memories

Sunrise on Himalayan Peaks

Sans reservations, as usual, we spent part of the day finding and getting settled in a hotel — The Snow Lion.

That night we treated ourselves to the best offerings of an upscale Chinese restaurant near our hotel. Soft lights from filigreed lanterns enhanced its red and gold interior, heady aromas of pungent spices and tantalizing flavors quickened our hunger pangs. A pot of steaming tea materialized almost instantly; we sipped delicate jasmine tea while perusing the menu.

When our soup arrived it was like nothing we’d ever tasted. It warmed, soothed, and stimulated the senses. One dish after another of my amazing birthday dinner was presented, each more delicious than the last. 

We made it!” said Wayne. “We’re in Nepal for your Big Five-O.”  

The chill mountain air revitalized us on our stroll back to the hotel. The full moon hung low, an incandescent globe. In the magic of moonlight, the mountains looming over the city lent enchantment. Grateful for this perfect gift, we wended our way back to the hotel and climbed the three flights to our room.

The spiritual vibrations in Kathmandu were palpable. I thought it must be due to the altitude, but then learned that it’s only 4,600′, about the same as Reno, Nevada. I suppose it could be because it’s in a bowl surrounded by 28,000′ mountains and resonates with their force field. In any case, it’s the most uplifting, energizing, inspiring energy I’ve ever felt in any location. Majestic and Magic! My entire being pulsated with it. It must have had a powerful impact on the people who’ve lived there through the millennia, hence all the temples and shrines and the ubiquitous practice of spirituality. (More on that in Blog 4.)

Trekking companies were plentiful. Treks of all sorts were available: three-days to two-months, bare-bones-basic to luxurious. We set up a nine-day trek; starting November 4. 

I couldn’t remember being this excited, ever. The rest of the trip had been in preparation for this. I was in better shape than ever. Over the past four months since leaving home, I’d hiked 10 – 20 miles nearly every day, frequently lugging a 35-pound pack. (This was before some genius put wheels on baggage.) I was lean and mean and ready for anything.

We sent postcards bragging about our upcoming Himalayan trek to everyone we knew. It would be the high point of the whole trip, both literally and figuratively. Having lugged our camera equipment everywhere we went over the last four months, we decided to leave it in the hotel and be footloose and fancy-free for a few days. We’d spend four or five days in Kathmandu after the trek, plenty of time to get the photos we wanted.

Street Entrepreneurs

Kathmandu Memories

Kathmandu Street Vendors

This was the start of the exotic portion of our trip. The streets of Kathmandu teemed with people, temples, open-air curio shops, rugs, orange-dyed goat heads in outdoor meat markets, tee shirts and trinkets, rickshaws, motorbikes, et cetera. Cows wandered the streets freely. When a Nepalese person was near one, he or she would reach out and stroke its forehead for luck. Street entrepreneurs, including children, conversant in several languages, dealt with tourists of every description. Their ingenuity was impressive. One adolescent boy offered, for a few rupees, to clean the wax out of our ears.

A younger boy, one of many shoeshine kids, had a special offering as well. “I give you shoeshine, lady,” after passing over Wayne, who wore Bïrkenstocks.

I shook my head. “No thanks.” I continued on, my once-white leather sneakers kicking up dust on the unpaved street.

He walked alongside, cute as could be. “Where you from?”

California,” I answered.

Oh California. Disneyland!”

Kathmandu Memories

Kathmandu Street Vendors

Yes. Disneyland.”

He walked beside us. “I give you very nice shoeshine.”

No. I don’t need one.”

He didn’t agree. We tramped on. His face lit up and he announced, “Hey! I got a great idea!”

Okay, let’s hear it,” I bit. “What’s your great idea?”

I’ll use white shoe polish!”

I laughed. “That is a great idea.” Who could resist?

Shopping in Kathmandu

Most of the commerce done in Kathmandu (and all of Nepal) seemed to happen not in shops with walls and doors and windows, but in open air stalls, or simply with merchandise laid out on the street.  All manner of items were offered, from tee shirts and touristy trinkets, to fine jewelry and cashmere shawls. All at bargain prices.

Although we’d promised ourselves, and each other, that this was not going to be a shopping trip. The less we spent on non-essentials the longer we could stretch the trip out. However, we were celebrating my 50th birthday, so our self-imposed rule was broken.

nepal Memories

Tibetan Chimes.

My present was a set of Tibetan chimes. It is one of my most treasured possessions. Every time I look at it or ring it, it evokes memories of Kathmandu. (I think mine are brass, but historically, they were made of 7 levels of precious and semi-precious metals for royalty and high priests. The 7 levels correspond to the 7 chakras (energy centers in the body). Ringing the chimes clears the chakras, allowing for the free flow of energy.) One of my favorite Nepal Memories.

One thing we learned about shopping in Kathmandu: if you see something you want, buy it immediately, because you’ll never find that shop again. The streets are laid out in such a way as to guarantee chaos and confusion. It was obviously organic in design; with no thought to traffic patterns or automobiles. Many of the small ancient temples were set in a hub from which several streets radiated. We’d follow one street only to come upon another temple or shrine, and another hub. Several times, when we attempted to return to a vendor or restaurant, the location of which we were sure we knew, it wasn’t there. We were lost. Again.

Nepalese People

Nepal Memories

Bejeweled Nepalese Girls

Nepalese are small, dark and beautiful, with delicate features.

The women wear graceful, flowing sarees (the plural of sari), black kohl around their eyes, and a red dot over the “third eye” in the center of their foreheads. (In Kathmandu, most wore a plastic peel-off, stick-on dot.)

Nepal Memories

Nepalese Children

The men wear sarongs with tees or button-front shirts. Both males and females sprinkle yellow or orange marigold petals over their obsidian hair. Many also wore flower leis.

When we were there — late October/early November — most were barefoot.

Spirituality is a constant, essential element in their lives. Buddhism and Hinduism co-exist in this part of the world. You see holy men and women everywhere.

The night before our trek, we attended a meeting held by a Hindu sadhu (holy man). He sat cross-legged on a platform, wearing garments of white. Many who attended brought a lei, placing it over his shoulders in respect, reverence and adoration, then bowed low, with hands together fingers touching forehead. Namasté. By the time the meeting started the leis were so thick they covered most of his upper body and head. Before beginning, he adjusted them  so he could breathe…and speak. On one arm, over a terrycloth wristband, he wore a gold Rolex — a gift from one of his followers, no doubt. A good bit of the meeting was taken up with a meditation. It put us in the proper frame of mind for our Himalayan adventure trek.

To be continued in Blog 4: Nepal Memories • Part II. Coming in Blog 4: Temples and Shrines; Freak Street; Himalayan Adventure.

Video: Kathmandu • The Most Beautiful City in the World, by TheDeepeshShow:

Note: These are not my photos. Read Blog 4: Nepal Memories • Part II to learn why.

If you’d like to read more of Carol Purroy’s memoirs: http://tinyurl.com/thatslife

Note: These Memories of Nepal are from 30 years ago. This was written shortly after our return in 1986. Kathmandu is one of my favorite places on earth; I’m heartbroken at the ravages of the earthquake.

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My Meandering Mind

An Op-Ed by Carol Purroy

Healthcare in the 21st century sure is different from what I grew up with — in the not-so-long-ago 20th century. I’m not talking about ObamaCare. And I’m not talking about all the awesome miraculous advances in medical science and technology. What I’m addressing here is something more alarming: the very definitions of “healthcare” and “doctor” seem to have changed.

In my younger days, “healthcare” meant the practice of caring for patients. The second half of that word — care — was important, as in TLC (tender loving care). Healthcare has now, all too often, come to mean the mechanics of medicine.

Healthcare in the Computer Age

Old-Time Family Doctor

In the past, a “doctor” was a licensed physician who was caring, compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. A doctor inspired trust and listened to his patients’ innermost doubts, fears and secrets, while tending to their medical needs.

Back in the day, we had one doctor — the family doctor — who treated nearly every disease or condition known to medical science. It was only if we had an extremely rare condition that a family doctor might suggest a specialist. (Ours never did.)

Doctors used to have something called “bedside manner”. When we saw a doctor, he or she looked us in the eye and touched our hand or shoulder; engaged us in conversation while conducting the physical exam, expressing concern and engendering confidence as medications and advice were dispensed.

I bring this up because I recently signed on with a physician, after not having had one for nearly 30 years. (I’m so healthy I haven’t bothered with doctors.) My, how things have changed in the field of healthcare. I admit I was shocked.

Healthcare in the 21st Century

When my new doctor,– a woman in her early-to-mid 40s — whom I had not yet met, walked into the room, there was no “Hello, I’m Dr. So-n-so,” no handshake. No eye contact, no “How can I help you?” or even “Why are you here?” No nothing.

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Healthcare in the 21st Century

In her hands was a laptop computer. She set it on a desk against the wall (6′ from me), sat down before it and, never taking her eyes from its screen, fired off questions (which I’d already answered on the intake form) and typed my responses.

  • “Father’s age when he died?”
  • “Cause of death?”
  • “Mother’s age when she died?”
  • “Cause of death?”
  • “Any siblings?”
  • “How would you describe their health?” And so on.

Prior to the doctor’s appearance in the examining room, a Nurse Practitioner had taken my blood pressure, run a space-age thermometer across my brow, and stuck a plastic clothespin-like thing on my finger, then handed me an open-back garment. “Take your clothes off and put this on.”

When the time came for Dr. So-n-so to listen to my lungs, she did, with no apparent inkling that there was an actual person  at the business end of her stethoscope. She then did a perfunctory breast exam, seemingly unaware that said breasts were attached to a living, breathing woman. The same level of detachment applied as she peered up my nose and into my ears. I could’ve been a cadaver for all she cared. That was the extent of the physical exam. Cursory. I guess that’s all that’s required of a physical exam in healthcare in the 21st century.

She snapped her computer shut, stuck it under her arm, and left, without a goodbye, without a hint of pleasantry. Were we done? Should I wait and see if she comes back, or get dressed and leave? When she didn’t return, I dressed, stopped by the desk to pay my bill, and went home. I got the feeling that if we met in the hall, my Primary Care Physician would not recognize me or perceive that we’d just had an intimate encounter — you know, me naked; her hands on my flesh.

Primary Care Physician

The Family Doctor of old, who dealt with anything and everything, has been replaced by the Primary Care Physician, who, so far as I can tell, deals with nothing. The operative word in the title is primary, meaning “first” or “initial.”

Funny, I thought “primary” meant “chief,” “dominant,” “main,” or “central” (Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus), but that’s the alternate definition.

It seems to me that today’s Primary Care Physician is the funnel through which you must pass to get to doctors who can do something. A gate-keeper. In healthcare in the 21st-century, a Primary Care Physician is a “referral agent.” On a follow-up visit, after sending me to a bunch of specialists for multiple, varied tests, most of which had nothing to do with my symptoms, she did make a diagnosis, based on the other doctors’ findings. Then she sent me to yet another specialist who instructed me about prevention.

No Doctor-Patient Relationship

When I told friends about my disturbing exchange with my new doctor, several said they’d had the exact same experience.

“So far as my doctor is concerned, I could be a life-sized Raggedy Ann doll.”

“There is no doctor-patient relationship anymore. That’s gone by the wayside.”

“My doctor’s only ‘relationship’ is with her computer.”

“My old doctor made me feel important; like a friend. Doctors don’t do that anymore.”

“Yeah, they act like they just want to get you out of there, in a hurry. They act like they don’t want to know you.”

Bedside Manner 101

Here’s my point: These doctors grew up in the age of computers and video games and smart phones. Like many in their generation, they never learned how to relate to people. This is such a pervasive problem that many corporations require their employees to take a Dale Carnegie-type of course that teaches them simple things like making eye contact and smiling, and provides basic phrases, such as, “Hello, I’m Joe.” “Nice to meet you.” You know, real tough stuff.

Healthcare in the 21st century

Bedside Manner is possible in Healthcare in the 21st century.

What used to be referred to as “bedside manner” is plain old common courtesy — like acknowledging the other person’s existence — and showing that you care about him or her. What (it seems) many of today’s doctors don’t get is that healthcare is about more than just technology and science. It’s also about inspiring confidence and trust. That’s what it means to be a Healer.

For healthcare in the 21st century, I’d like to suggest a required course: “Bedside Manner 101.” Medical students would have to take it and demonstrate that they “got it” before they can put M.D. after their names. And for doctors who got out of medical school and through internships and residencies without people skills, there would be “Remedial Bedside Manner,” also required.

Computers are a fact of life for healthcare in the 21st century, and they do make for more efficient record-keeping, etc., so I don’t object to them, per se. But they shouldn’t be allowed to take the place of the time-honored … and crucial … doctor-patient relationship.

21st Century Affliction

Obviously, it’s not only doctors who have this 21st Century affliction. In my opinion, we ought to start teaching kids at home and at school, how to connect with other people. Every family should have “electronics-free” time, in which all such devices are banned. This should include every mealtime. The art of conversation is a family value…and a societal value. It’s not just about How to Win Friends and Influence People, it’s about how to be human.

Disclaimer: I know that not all doctors fit this description. And now, after taking myself off “Dr. So-n-so’s” patient roster, I’ve found one who will be my healthcare in the 21st century provider. He does have a good bedside manner; I’ll accept nothing less.

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What has been your experience with Healthcare in the 21st century? Please comment in the form below.

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I Hate to Blog!

by Carol Purroy

• No, that’s not me dancing on the beach. I haven’t looked … or danced … like that for awhile. But I can dream, can’t I?

Blog 1. I hate to blog!

I’m starting this blog because all the social media folks and internet gurus say you have to have one. That’s probably why I’ve been so resistant — because I’m an old woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do. Had enough of that: I was a (mostly) dutiful daughter (until I married), (mostly) obedient wife (until I divorced), (mostly) compliant employee (until I retired), et cetera. I “danced backwards, in high-heels” for far too long.

I was in the generation of females who first became aware — with the help of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine, etc. — just how beleaguered and discounted our society’s women were. To “get it” we participated in consciousness raising groups and Women’s Studies classes. Prior to that, we hadn’t questioned that females were referred to as “he” and “him” in both written and spoken word. It was so ingrained in the culture we didn’t even notice it. It was “correct English”. In discussing a person of either gender, or humankind itself, “man” was the word used, e.g: “No man is an island…” (John Donne).

We hadn’t challenged the fact that boys could be anything they wanted to, and girls, for the most part, could be teachers, secretaries, nurses, waitresses, and domestic help. Women were not allowed in positions of authority in any segment of society. Once married, we women were expected to be homemakers (exclusively), and the success of the marriage — and the children — was solely our responsibility. It didn’t occur to anyone that it could be otherwise.

My mother, at age 32, with two young children, was widowed and destitute. Though unprepared for the role of breadwinner, she had no choice. Years later, when I was a teenager, she told me, “It’s more important for boys to go to college; they’ll have to support a family.”

Talk about a disconnect! There she was, the sole support of her family, and she still didn’t get it. That’s how pervasive the male-dominated, masculine-oriented nature of society was.

Back In The Day

Then there’s this old riddle: A young boy and his father are in a car accident. The father dies at the scene. The boy is transported to the hospital and taken immediately into surgery, but the surgeon steps out of the operating room and says, “I can’t operate on this boy … he’s my son!”

(Question): Who is the surgeon?

I doubt that many today would get it wrong, but until very recently it stumped nearly everyone, including hard-core “women’s libbers”. The answer of course is: the surgeon is the boy’s mother. Back in the day (not so long ago), the notion that a surgeon might be a woman was inconceivable.

Likewise, back then, we females never imagined that our opinions might have value, because no one ever listened to us or took us seriously.

Until recently, it didn’t occur to much of anyone that the gender gap in wages (for the same job) was unconscionable. Well, that one is still with us. Women still get only 78¢ to the men’s $1.00.

So, what’s the big deal? A measly 22¢?! But I ask you, how many men would be willing to take a 22% pay cut?

Been there … Done that

But I digress. I started Blog 1 simply to introduce it … and my website … and me… to whomever may want to read it. And my mind just took off, as is its wont, like a flock of birds. I guess I have what Ron, my Significant Other, calls a “Meanderthal Mind”! (He does have a way with words.)

I suspect that’s how Blog 1, 2, 3, etc., will go, so I’ll just call it My Meandering Mind. Sometimes I may write about books and publishing and memoir writing, and classes on writing and publishing — A-Z Publishing’s primary focus. Or I may write about something else. But, unless I have some specific thing to write about, I’ll feel free to let my mind wander and see what comes out. I’ll try to get a one or more blogs posted on my website

Smile

Smile!

every week, but may resist following rules — even self-made ones.

Been there … done that.

Cheerio! Please leave a comment if you’re so moved.

‘Til next time,

Carol Purroy, Publisher

p.s.Please click on http://a-zpublishing.com and poke around within the website to see what A-Z Publishing offers.

p.p.s. Be sure to get your free eBook: 12 Tips on Writing Memoirs. Leave your email address in form on left side of page.

Blog - My Meandering Mind

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