Make your day harder! (Guest post)

I think this is exactly right. So much so that I reblogged it!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

On the weekend, Sam and I found ourselves on this giant escalator ramp called a MOVATOR.  We were picking up a cake and samosas for a baby shower for mutual friends, and the grocery store we went to is on the second floor.  This MOVATOR locks you and your cart in place to go down to the ground floor.  (How do you say this?  Moo-va-tor?  Moe-vay-ter? moo-va-TOR? Try saying it without sounding like an ominous robot).

Both of us tend to scoot around the world at a fast clip, and being on the MOVATOR ground us to a halt.  Which got us talking again about the discussion Sam blogged about a couple of weeks ago about  walking on escalators. That conversation started out as a bit of good-natured griping on Facebook about our preference for scooting up the left side of the escalator and wondering why everyone doesn’t walk.

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The Greatest Musical in the World

Now I have painted myself into a corner since it will be very difficult to choose just one Broadway musical out of the many I dearly love. And, like any other beloved list, I could choose several musicals just for one very important memory, song, or production.

For example, I could say that Carousel was my favorite musical because it was the first one I ever heard. I was visiting my older sister in Rhode Island when I was five-years-old, and she had a phonograph record of the film cast, including Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. Shirley Jones, for you younger sprouts, was the mom on the Partridge Family. MacRae was also in the film version of Oklahoma! (The exclamation point is part of the title, just so you know.)

But can I really have as my favorite musical a story of a wife-abuser who commits suicide in Act II? I think not.

So what about A Chorus Line with its beautiful music and dancing the likes of which had not been seen on Broadway for a long time. Michael Bennett, choreographer, designed a musical with no scenery, no costume changes, and no intermission, that brought Broadway back to life. Shubert Organization Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld said it totally changed the musical theater.

“It was a catalyst for the improvement of this area, and of course this area is now the most desirable area in New York.”

But I can’t make myself pick A Chorus Line for my best musical in the world, even though it gave the all of us this beautiful song, written by Marvin Hamlisch:

So, my favorite musical in the world is, drum roll, please, The Fantasticks. Most already know that this was a small off-Broadway show, that never made it to the Great White Way. The New Yorker, in its monthly rundown of shows playing at the time, along with how the editors felt about them, finally got to the point. After about 15-years of explaining The Fantasticks, they just went with a simple phrase that was something like this “…all that whimsy.”

In the end it had a 42 year run, making it the world’s longest-running musical. But it’s not “Try to Remember” that makes this show the best in my book, nor is it the musical’s obvious connection to audiences. It was performed in the round, so connecting was easy. No, it was this song, written by Tom Jones (not that Tom Jones) and Harvey Schmidt, as was the entire  score:

And although the movie, directed by Michael Ritchie, was a flop, this song, sung by Jean Louisa Kelly and Joey McIntyre in the film, is really beautifully done and worth a watch.

Hope you enjoy the music!

Celebrating Martin Luther King

Don’t we all need to read this today?

MagickMermaid

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I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this speech on 28th August 1963.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in…

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here I sit in Mississippi, only 200 or so miles away from Memphis, TN, where Rev. King was murdered. Only about 20 miles from the driveway where Medgar Evers was killed in Jackson, MS. I’m right beside the state where the Selma March took place, and only about 25 miles from Tougaloo College, the center of the fight for racial equality during Freedom Summer in 1964 in Mississippi, the year I graduated from high school in Jackson.

I’m only about 100 miles from Neshoba County where three martyrs were killed in 1964.

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Philadelphia, MS, where the Mt. Zion Church was located, is also about 100 miles away from where I live.

But, believe it or not, these places could just as well have been thousands of miles away from me in 1964, because I was living a privileged life right outside the city of Jackson, and I was going to one of the best high schools in the country, let alone state. During that summer my parents would not let me drive at night alone, their one concession to the acts of violence that were taking place all around us.

So many times, I have asked myself how I could have been so uninformed, so naive, so sheltered, so stupid. And, worst of all, no matter how I have tried to throw off my guilt by saying I am open-minded, declaring my color-blindness, preaching tolerance, I still know in my heart that the years of living in a place so full of hatred, being surrounded by people who thought they were correct in assuming that one race is superior to another, has taken its toll.

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I understood a bit more about myself as a person when I read Roxane Gay’s review of the movie The Help, written by a woman from a well-known Jackson family, Kathryn Stockett. Gay said:

“The way the book blithely addresses the complex racial climate of Jackson, Miss., in the 1960s, where the novel is set, is so infuriating as to completely overshadow what few merits it possesses.”

“Worst of all, there’s an ignorance of the severity of Jim Crow laws and how those laws would have prevented a great deal of the novel from actually taking place. And then there’s also the idea that a young white girl just out of college would be the one to help “the help” find their voices and articulate their lives. The book ends up being insulting to everyone.”

So often I wish there was something I could do or say to receive some sort of atonement, but, like Kathryn, I can never get far enough away from those times to see what kind of person I really am. Saying that I am not a racist makes me think of Shakespeare’s words:

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

I like to think I got a few points for going to Millsaps College, a liberal arts school, and for living in another country for three years, Spain. But really, most of the time I feel guilty.

However, Sincere Kirabo, a social justice coordinator writing for The Humanist, says something that makes me feel a little better:

“If you’re carrying guilt for being privileged, quit wasting your time. Devote your mental energy towards something worthwhile, like transmitting heightened awareness within your sphere of influence (however marginal) and seeking to destabilize the inequitable power structure that allows and excuses the bias and cruelty involved with cases like Eric Harris (the Tulsa, OK man murdered while pleading for his breath). Focus less on your guilt and more on being a catalyst for change.”

I think I can do that! And I think Dr. King would like this thought, too.

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A Tribute to my Grandchildren’s School

My granddaughter and grandson who live in Memphis (I have another in Albuquerque, his school will be discussed later), go to what is, in my opinion, one of the best public schools in the country. Since I was a teacher and an administrator myself, I think it’s OK for me to voice my point of view. I also wrote about education across the US for the past several years, so I also know a bit about what’s going on in American schools.

With all that in mind, II still stand by my statement that Memphis State Campus School is one of the finest I have seen. For one thing, when I have had the pleasure of walking through the hallways, there is a pleasant mixture of calm, but enthusiastic, vibration in the air. The kids are well-behaved but I feel no sense of pressure or anxiety. The rules are in place and everyone seems to understand what they are.

The classrooms are alive with activity and feel like happy places. The school’s mission is based on these goals:

  1. Provide best practices in elementary education instruction
  2. Model innovative educational designs
  3. Serve as a laboratory for educational redesign and research
  4. Offer clinical teaching experiences and mentoring for pre-service teachers

For me, that makes this educational setting the “best of both worlds.” Think about it, my grandchildren are not only learning on the cutting edge, but teachers are also being taught how to teach at the same time. Makes me proud.

The association with the university also adds to the school loyalty and close community. At assemblies, the children sing many songs authentically but none more than their song concerning the Tigers, Memphis State’s mascot.

The school’s vision can be remembered as an acronym – CREED.

COLLABORATION,
RESEARCH,
EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING,
ENTHUSIASM FOR LEARNING,
DIVERSITY

I know there are great schools in the US, and I know we have many, many struggling districts in the nation, as well. I’m just so thankful that my kids, by the luck of the draw and because of living in the same neighborhood as the Memphis State campus, are attending a school that is making a difference.

Go, Tigers, Go!

Ikea

I am a pushover when it comes to Ikea. I live in Jackson, Mississippi, which is very close to Memphis, Tennessee. Speaking of Tennessee, my heart is broken for those in east Tennessee who have been ravaged by wildfires. My prayers go out to all those affected by the horrible fires.

What I want to share today is that there is a brand new Ikea in Memphis, TN where my son and his family live. Soon I will be going to visit, and I will finally be able to eat Swedish Meatballs and get as many  RÅSKOG Rolling Carts as I can afford.

RÅSKOG Utility cart IKEA

RÅSKOG UTILITY CART $29.99 – IKEA

Yes, it will have to be assembled, and yes, I will have to make my way through hordes of people and the somewhat complex process of getting to the product before I can actually walk out of the store with my utility carts but I cannot wait to get there.

To be clear, it’s not just the cart or the Swedish Meatballs that make me happy about the relatively close location of an Ikea. And it’s not just because I will be able to get my hands on many inexpensive, hackable items that I have been wanting for a long time, but was unable to purchase because of the shipping costs.

No, my real reason for being such an Ikea freak is that in my mind Ikea has shown the world that a huge retail merchandiser can run a people-centered business. Allow me to share a short list of the things I feel are really good about this company:

  • Since 2000, Ikea has lowered its prices by an average of 2 to 3% every year because it has increased its efficiency during this time period.
  • Since 1994, the company has embraced LGBT equality.
  • It has door handles on its bathroom doors that allow you to open and close the doors without having to touch the handle with your hands.
  • This year all lights in all the Ikea stores have been converted to LED only.
  • For a small fee, Ikea will take your old mattress, furniture, and appliances and recycle them for you. In some places, the store will recycle plastic furniture and other Ikea items.

I love the Ikea shopping bags, its Family Discount, and this:

SAGOSKATT Soft toy IKEA Designed by a kid, for kids. This soft toy was drawn by Léonard, 6.

The Sagoskatt $3.99

Thanks, I’m glad I got this off my chest. Now my only problem will be scheduling a time to get to Memphis before Christmas!

Etsy

I have been working on my Etsy store for years. By that, I mean I have had great intentions for years, that I have crept up to the finish line frequently, that I have almost but not quite gotten it open for business. So, in the last few weeks, I have made getting my pictures uploaded, downloaded, and in place for my grand opening, a priority.

Everything was going along swimmingly until, out of the blue, my photographs were not being imported and exported correctly. I was horrified but plowed through until the whole photography side of the process went kaput!

I began to think that possibly I was getting a signal from the universe that having a shop was not in my cards.

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But, just when I thought all was lost, when I thought I had read every manual I could, when I had scanned Google from aperture to “zip file,” something happened and opened a portal I could walk through, and the problem was solved!

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This is what Ben Huberman calls “the struggle to close the gap between an idea and its realization.” And because I decided to “push through” instead of giving up, I will have my Kinship Gardens Etsy store, and I will succeed in realizing a dream I have had for, as I said, a few years.trophy-1392993_960_720

No, I may not have a “first place store” but I bet I have a store that does well because I’ve decided to be a push-through Patty, not a give-up Grace!

In the Style of…

It was suggested today by Michelle W. that it might be fun to write a post in the style of someone else. She wrote:

This week, publish a post in the style of a writer or artist you admire, or in the style of another genre. You don’t have to write about politics or current events to give this a try — you could just as easily:

  • Take a photo of your local playground in the style of Ansel Adams.

  • Write about what you did over the weekend as though it were science fiction.

  • Share a favorite childhood memory, written as though it were dialogue in a play.

  • Publish a recipe as a poem in the style of e.e. cummings (or plate the finished dish in the style of Picasso!).

Publish on any topic you’d like, but with a new lens — who knows what you might reveal?

This idea resonated with me, and I have decided to write a description of Donald Trump in the style of Miss Eudora Welty, one of the many renowned writers from my state. So, here goes.

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Miss Eudora Welty

Miss Beckham came over this morning to have coffee. I do love it when she comes because, as everyone in Jackson knows, she did spend a number of years studying at Blue Mountain School for Young Girls, and she does turn a word so well. No matter what Margaret Fender says, I say Miss Beckham is absolutely worldly.

But don’t you know that when Miss Beckham arrived, she wanted to discuss politics, of all things. I was hoping that we could settle all that business about Walter Barksdale’s funeral supper, but, no, she had to talk about this gentleman from New York City.

“Have you seen him, Mertie? Have you seen him on TV?”

“No, ma’am, I have not for I do not watch such things.”

“But, Mertie, he is going to be the President of the United States!”

“Well, I have heard that he speaks in a vulgar manner, and I have read in the Clarion-Ledger that he has treated ladies in ways which I cannot even repeat to you.”

“Why, Mertie, I do believe you are speaking ill of our president-elect.”

“I am not! But I do wish that nice young man from Texas, an outstanding member of the Bush family, had won. He seemed so even-tempered. And his mother is not only charming but quite intelligent, as well. Can’t we just talk about something else?  I’m no good at politics, and I did make some yeast rolls for breakfast. Please join me for coffee and rolls, won’t you?”

“Oh, Mertie, you are so provincial!”

“Thank you, Miss Beckham.”