Bang, Bang: You’re … Unfortunately Entitled. But Not In My House.

Posted by on Apr 4, 2015 in featured, Humanity, Myth, Personal Reinvention | 2 comments

I resent the Second Amendment. No, let me clarify that: I resent how the Second Amendment has been interpreted by courts and other entities. Especially the political right. Here is the Second Amendment, in its entirety: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Back in the constitutional drafting day, the personal weapons kept by colonists who relied on hunting to augment farm-raised protein and to protect themselves from marauding wildlife and hostile natives were the very same weapons they brought with them to local militia drills to protect their community against threats. Muskets and primitive rifles were the same weapons used both by individuals and by armies. And THAT was the right the founding fathers intended to protect with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution: that citizens couldn’t be deprived of their means to defend themselves and their communities from threats from both outside forces and government oppression by the British military. In the years since, the courts – which by the customary rules of statutory and constitutional interpretation are enjoined to consider ALL the words contained in a law or regulation – have wilfully ignored the opening clause of the Second Amendment, the one which would logically and rationally limit the “right of the People to keep and bear arms” to the purpose of “a well regulated militia” supporting “the security of a free state.” That pisses me off. It always has, and now more than ever. The contemporary US gun culture insists on its Second Amendment rights without ever considering the historical foundation behind them. All we ever hear from the NRA and gun rights proponents are the words, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” There’s never any reference to “a well-regulated militia” or “the security of a free State.” To my mind, all current US gun rights advocates operate from a position of fear. They fear that some potentially tyrannical government – seeking to control them and prevent dissent – will somehow take their guns away. They fear that, without guns, they would be victimized by armed criminals or terrorists or out-of-control police. They claim to be strong, that possessing guns empowers their ability to defend themselves and others, but they’re really all about being afraid that others will get the better of them if they are disarmed or in any way limited in the type of weapons they could own. They apparently think that, unless they are equipped to face the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, they are somehow at a disadvantage in contemporary society....

Read More

International Women’s Day: Lucky Lady

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in featured, Future, Humanity, Personal Reinvention | 0 comments

I‘m lucky. I’m really incredibly lucky. I was born white in the United States in 1956 to extraordinary parents. The economic middle class was growing, and Mom and Dad – who both had high school educations – planned and saved to be able to send their three daughters to college, determined to give us more opportunities than they had. My parents defied the stereotypes of the time by teaching us girls that we could be and do anything we wanted, provided we put our minds to it. Mom gave us a practical demonstration by taking courses at the vocational school to learn new skills, like upholstery, when she wanted to try a project at home. She also went back to work once all three of us were in grade school, balancing the demands of family and an outside job. She even started her own very successful business as a tax practitioner when the lawyer she’d been working for decided to retire. Dad taught us to use his tools to build and fix things, up to and including running our own little family auto body shop to repair rust damage on his Chevy. I remember Dad telling us about the guys at work teasing him about his daughters because we all stayed single until we finished college. They figured college was just the place where girls went to find husbands; the idea that we went for the benefit of our own education, and that Dad was happy to keep on paying for us to be there all the way through graduation, struck Dad’s co-workers as strange. They were happy when their girls dropped out to get married, figuring that’s when their daughters’ real lives – being wives and mothers – began. Dad celebrated our intellectual achievements, going to college graduation ceremonies for a philosopher, a nurse, and a little-bit-of-everything who then went on to law school. He was proud that we were all strong, intelligent, and independent. He was also happy when his oldest girl got married to a college-educated man, but that’s another story. When I was in high school, I took a summer course in city and county government. Our classrooms were in City Hall and the County Courthouse, and we spent part of our time assigned to work in the office of our choice. I applied for the District Attorney’s office, and the D.A., Michael McCann, decided he had to ensure my parents understood and would be okay with their little girl being exposed to criminals and violence. They both laughed because it hadn’t occurred to either of them to be worried about it; they trusted my maturity and the security of the office. I’ll never forget...

Read More

Live Long And Prosper: Milwaukee Nimoy Memories

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in featured, Humanity, Personal Reinvention | 4 comments

Today amidst tears I celebrate the life of Leonard Nimoy: a lovely, gentle, funny, sweet man who was an actor, a writer, a poet, and much more. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times many years ago. I’d like to share those unusual memories, because they’re not what you’d expect. Nimoy is best known for his television and film work, but I first met him stretching his wings on stage in 1972 doing, of all things, musical theatre! I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We had a summer stock theatre company called the Melody Top Theatre that staged musicals in a big-top tent (eventually replaced with a wooden dome) from 1963 through 1986. The theatre brought in Hollywood and Broadway leads to headline their shows and build their audience, with the rest of the roles performed by local actors. Nimoy appeared there three times: singing Fagin in Oliver! in 1972: the King in The King and I in 1974, opposite Anne Jeffreys; and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady in 1976. The Melody Top was a theatre in the round, with the stage down in the center and actors making their entrances and exits down the aisles. One of the best features of it, for me, was its custom – with those lead actors who were willing to do it, anyway – of having the actor come back onstage after the performance to chat with the audience. Nimoy did that every time, and he was a funny, friendly, self-deprecating delight! During the post-Oliver! session, he sat on a tall stool and proceeded to remove his old-man makeup while he talked, joking about how much faster it was to get it off than to have it put on – something he knew very well from his years playing Spock! He confessed to having been nervous about taking on the whole musical theatre gig, and he thanked Milwaukee for being a friendly and forgiving audience who made him feel welcome. During The King and I, he laughed that he’d called Yul Brynner – a friend with whom he’d worked on the Western film Catlow back in 1971 – to say he’d be doing the role Brynner had made famous on film in 1956. He said Brynner teased him about it, asking if he was going to steal Brynner’s trademark by shaving his head, to which Nimoy responded that he wouldn’t shave his head so long as Brynner didn’t barb his ears! He made fun of his own singing in the session after My Fair Lady, chuckling that since Rex Harrison had always talked his way through the songs rather than singing them anyway, he was in good company. I...

Read More

Queer Duck

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Aviation, featured, Humanity, Personal Reinvention | 0 comments

When it comes to the B-17 tour, I’m the queer duck. Let me clarify that. I’m not actually gay nor am I a duck – but I am the sole political and social liberal without religion on a team overwhelmingly comprised of politically conservative, married white Christians who are also members of the gun culture. And most – although not all – are male. Can you say, odd woman out? And yet, I’m a member of the team. I may be a duck, but I fly and swim with geese, and they fly and swim with me. I think there’s a lesson, here. Yes, I bite my tongue a LOT when I’m out on tour. I stay silent or walk away from one-sided bombastic group conversations (often prompted by FauxNews on the motel TV at breakfast) about Obama, government regulations, Islam, terrorism, climate change, guns, and a host of other topics. I hold my tongue because I understand that nothing I could say in those situations would change minds already made up through emotional, rather than rational, arguments. I do speak out passionately in support of things I believe in one-on-one conversations with my teammates when I think I have the chance to plant seeds of thought and possible reconsideration, so it’s not as if I’m always swallowing my soul. But here’s the thing. My teammates and I share a passion for a restored WWII bomber and what she represents: the stories of all the men and women who came together in the 1940’s to build, fly, and maintain these airplanes as part of the concerted effort to promote American ideals of democracy and defeat Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperialist Japan. We all acknowledge that the United States was not perfect at the time – racism and sexism were both rampant, for example – but what the US and its allies represented was, in our shared opinion, still far preferable to the worldview presented through the rule of Hitler, Mussolini, or Hirohito. Despite our many differences, we share many beliefs and values embodied by this plane and the veterans and civilians linked to her by history. And in the main, those things we share trump the many points on which we don’t agree. We work together smoothly for the most part, and I’m valued for my contributions to the team even though my political and social leanings are way far to the left of most. So I do think it’s possible for people who disagree profoundly to work together collegially and respect each other despite their differences. It just takes effort, and the conscious decision not to insult others for their beliefs. It requires that people understand what...

Read More

Love Never Dies

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Humanity, Personal Reinvention | 0 comments

Toward the end of every year, we always look back to memorialize the people we lost during that year. That got me thinking. In 1964, when I was seven and a bit, my grandmother died. Busha – that’s “grandma” in Polish – had lived with us all my life. In defiance of stereotype, as my father’s mother, she was my mother’s best friend, and she delighted in the three of us kids. She was our babysitter on school parent-teacher nights, and would put us to bed with a little glass of wine each, always admonishing us not to tell Mom or Dad. And so of course the first thing we always did the next morning was to chorus, “Mommy! Daddy! Busha gave us wine!” Busha was a small woman. My mother almost looked tall standing next to her, and since Mom was only about five foot two, that’s saying something. In almost all the photos I’ve seen, Busha looks dour. It seemed the camera could never catch her smiling, but in my memory, her face radiated joy, and she was fierce about living. She loved listening to baseball games on the radio, and I vividly remember her sitting in the kitchen, listening intently to the Milwaukee Braves game broadcast on WTMJ, and talking animatedly to the players as if they could hear her. When her favorite, Hank Aaron, came up to bat, she would wag her finger at the radio and tell him, “Now, you hit it out of the park, Henry! You hit it out of the park!” Because Busha spoke Polish before she learned English, she always called some things by their Polish names, and to this day, so do I. I think I was about four when something fell on the floor and broke one day while we had a guest in the house, and our guest asked where the dustpan was so she could help clean it up. “Dustpan” was meaningless to me, so Mom helpfully said, “Szufelka,” and I scampered off to the kitchen broom closet. I remember experiencing an epiphany when I picked up the szufelka and realized that “dustpan” meant the same thing, that it had two totally different names that were nonetheless the same. Eureka! So Busha’s passing was a huge thing for me. She was the first person close to me who died when I was old enough to understand what was going on. But I don’t remember her funeral, not really. I was talking with one of my sisters over Christmas – the middle one, three years older than I – and she remembered the weather having been warm and fine enough that we walked in procession from the...

Read More

What Do You Expect?

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Personal Reinvention | 0 comments

It’s awards season. The Golden Globes, the SAG awards, the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars – the ads, the announcements, the glitter, the red carpets, and the parties are everywhere. Just this week, AudioFile Magazine announced the nominees for the Audies – awards for achievement in audiobook performance from the Audio Publishers Association. Spoiler alert: I’m not on the list. And I wouldn’t expect to be. I’m young in this industry, building my portfolio as a narrator. But even if I were further along my path, I wouldn’t expect to be on the Audies’ red carpet. I don’t expect to win awards or recognition; I don’t expect to become rich or famous. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to tell stories, and to tell them as well as I possibly can. Being recognized and lauded for doing a good job is a wonderful thing, but it’s not something I expect, and it’s not why I do what I do. I tell stories because I love storytelling. I love connecting with people through words and emotions. If I can actually make enough to live on doing something I enjoy, I will be ecstatic. And if people enjoy what I do enough to tell me about it through comments and reviews, I will be over the moon. But no matter what, I’ll enjoy telling the stories anyway. What we expect very often determines how we feel about what we do. If our experience doesn’t live up to our expectations, we feel let down. If we do things because we expect rewards and recognition that don’t come, we can feel resentful and get bitter about not being appreciated. My point here is that we can decide much of how we feel by managing our expectations. Being realistic about what we expect, especially with regard to the outcomes of chance or the actions of others, can minimize disappointment and maximize satisfaction. I don’t mean we shouldn’t dream. Heck, I’ve imagined myself on that red carpet. And is there anyone who hasn’t visualized winning the lottery? But I don’t expect it. And because of that, I’m perfectly happy watching others win. And telling stories....

Read More