Not Tonight Dear, I’m Tweeting

Tracey Clark-Flory at Salon runs a skeptical eye over studies that prove that Americans value just about everything more than sex.

Incidentally, she uses some smart reading that should be applied to health and science headlines when shocking study conclusions seem contrary to common sense…

Take a survey finding that 43 percent of Canadians would choose bacon over sex – it was conducted by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., a bacon producer. Then there’s the one sponsored by the Better Sleep Council, a creation of the mattress industry, which found that 61 percent of American adults would choose a good night’s sleep over sex. See also: asurvey by mobile app company Telenav which found that — surprise, surprise – one-third of Americans would rather go without sex than their cellphone.

We boomers are the free love generation, but free time is precious. Between work, family and a thousand distractions it can be hard to even hear yourself think, never mind appreciate the love in your life. As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s not forget interdependence and the pursuit of happiness, and thank the founding mothers and fathers who sacrificed for the eight hour work day.

David Jaffe Gives Away $50 to 50 People at Food Pantry

Some wonders never cease. One such wonder is David Jaffe, friend, colleague and erstwhile blogger here at Kmareka. Some of you will remember David’s fabulous blogging here at Kmareka back in 2006 and 2007, when the world desperately needed voices like his to call attention to important issues and set the stage for new leadership.

Yesterday David celebrated his 50th birthday with a surprise that makes my heart do flips:

EASTHAMPTON – It was 11 a.m. Monday and David Jaffe was grinning quite a bit for a guy who just parted with $1,400.

Jaffe, a tall, bespectacled man who turned 50 Monday, spent the morning at the Easthampton Community Center on Clark Street giving a $50 bill to each person who came in to pick up groceries at the center’s food pantry.

“It’s my 50th birthday today and I decided I wanted to celebrate it by giving 50 people $50,” he told each recipient, as he handed them the money from a bank envelope.

People hugged him. One or two teared up. Most asked if he was serious. Some simply thanked him and shook his hand. Several veterans shared stories with him. One woman showed him a picture of her baby daughter on her cell phone.

Jaffe handed out 40 of the bills by noon and gave away his final 10 when the center reopened at 4 p.m. – for a total of $2,500, as beaming center volunteers looked on.

“I thought I would get more pleasure out of giving to others on my birthday than I would doing something nice for myself,” said Jaffe, who lives with his cats on Terrace View.

Jaffe is a social worker who evaluates youths in the Hadley and Springfield court systems.

“I’m not a wealthy guy,” Jaffe said. “I don’t own a home. But I’m lucky.” [full text]

Thank you for your generosity, David, and for continuing to surprise and delight the world with your wonderful ideas. I feel blessed to know you and call you my friend.

A Lot to be Grateful For

My husband and I just celebrated our 27th anniversary. It was on November 24 in 1982 that we eloped and were blessed by a true saint, MahaGhosananda. He was a great spiritual leader of Cambodian Buddhists who lived and taught in Rhode Island for about a decade. He generously agreed to perform our ceremony.

We asked him because he was the only clergyman we knew. My husband’s church– Guiding Star Baptist in Louisville on Mohammed Ali Blvd (formerly Walnut St.), was too far away. I was an ex-Catholic and a disillusioned Pentecostal, with Pagan leanings. I didn’t know that a Unitarian would have done just fine, so I didn’t ask. Not knowing how to find a priest, so to speak, we just went up to the Pope and he said yes.

I may someday know what sort of impression a couple of Americans requesting a wedding might have made on the good people in the temple. We were an interracial couple who were raised Christian and spoke not a word of their language. They accepted us, when so many around us were full of discouragement. Marriage is a leap, and when we joined hands and jumped we had to have faith. So we tuned out the discouraging words and got on the Cranston St. Bus and went to the temple to get married.

After our vows were made– our words in English with kind prayers in Khmer– the people gave us gifts of cash. I was thinking of what it might have meant, in hard-working minimum-wage time, to earn a dollar. It was hard to accept it. It’s so much easier to be Lady Bountiful, easier to give than to accept generosity. Perhaps it was a down-payment. Or a lesson.

After we left the temple we got on the bus and went downtown, to the Pot au Feu. The Pot was the pinnacle of elegant dining in the 80’s, and ain’t too shabby now. We went back last night to appreciate old times.

I’m grateful the place is still there. One lovely thing about Providence, and much of Rhode Island, is that the past is not totally razed. The bulldozers missed a lot of spots. The Custom House survives on its foundation of two-century-old stones. In the foyer of the Pot au Feu, St. Julia Child beams from a black-and-white photo near the door. She’s shaking hands with a youth who strongly resembled the distinguished man in formal dress who came to ask us how we were enjoying our dinner.

I’m grateful for what has not changed. I’m grateful for what has. When I eloped with my sweetheart I was working at a hip photofinishing lab downtown. I was out of my depth as a Rhode Island factory girl thrown in with so many future photogeniuses on their way to fame. AIDS passed through that workplace like the Reaper, taking a tithe of the young by stealth and ambush, the older by despair.

During those years, survivors of the Cambodian genocide arrived in Rhode Island. My own Irish family had preceded them by about a century, fleeing genocide by malignant neglect and an ethnic cleansing carried out via strategic advantage of crop failure . America in the 80’s was in a state of uncertainty. After the end of American war in Vietnam the college students went back to their studies. The draft was over. We had a decade of the Smiley Face. There was a natural and predictable reaction to the ‘nostalgia’ of the seventies.

In the 80’s we all wore black. If you went to buy a sweater or something you would see racks and racks of black. Sister Mary Curmudgeon could have chosen her whole year’s wardrobe at Ann and Hope. Punk was on the radio. Talking Heads was the local band that made the big time. Roomful of Blues and the Young Adults were playing at Lupos. I joined the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and studied Uechi Karate with Charlie Earle downtown.

I remember November dusk with the glowing windows of the Arcade. I came to know Providence more intimately when I took up the occupation of nursing.

I am grateful to live in this beautiful city. I am grateful to the crazy idealists who named her Providence– who blessed her streets with names like Benefit, Benevolence, Hope and Peace. I’m grateful to be alive and feeling young at an age when Woman would be globally and historically in her old age. It’s an accident of birth, as far as I can tell. I’m grateful to live in the age of instant publishing. So I can throw this note in a bottle out to the world. Very Blessed. Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

Silent, Starry Night

On Christmas Eve forty years ago, three men traveled through a cold deeper than any on earth, to where the stars shone bright, and there was silence beyond silence.

On the Winter Solstice of 1968 the brave crew of Apollo 8 voyaged to the moon, reaching lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. There they saw what no one had ever seen, the dark side of the moon, and on the horizon, earthrise. They took the famous photo of our planet, hanging like a blue jewel in the endless blackness of space.

Borman, Lovell and Anders had been instructed to do whatever they felt was appropriate to mark the moment. A friend of Borman’s had suggested they read from the book of Genesis, and so its first 10 verses had been typed up on a piece of fireproof paper before the crew left Earth. They took turns reading aloud.

When they finished, Borman, as the skipper, concluded the broadcast: “And from the crew of Apollo 8,” he said, “we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

Can’t beat that. Peace on Earth, goodwill to all, Shalom, Salaam and Blessings.

‘Tis the Season to be Preachy

I’ve been thinking of a way to comment on Nancy’s beautiful post yesterday and here is what I want to say: live for love, not for money. Of course money is important, we all need a certain amount of it. But get your gratification, your jollies if you will, from showing your love to your family, your friends, your community.

Live for love. Live for the moment when you study your child’s face and realize that her look of excitement, of curiosity, is your look as well, or a blend of yours and your partner’s. And it’s a magnificent look.

Live for love. If you have the option of buying a bigger house because of the housing downturn and the amount you’ve been able to pay off your mortgage, consider the option carefully. If you opt to do it, know that you may be tying yourself down with more financial obligation than you may want to deal with in a down economy.

Live for love. Value the connections you have in the community, whether they be at church, at school, at home or at work. Don’t be too quick to put aside your own relationships in favor of someone else’s agenda.

Live for love. Don’t give up on those really hard relationships. Or, give up on a few of them, but make an extra effort to save a few of them from the abyss.

Live for love. Do comparison shopping to get a decent price, but don’t become petty. Honor your financial commitments and your time commitments to the things you hold dear.

Live for love. If you love music, find time to experience the music you love. If you love blogs, find time to experience the best of them.

Live for love. We have a way of thinking that we are worth X amount and not a dollar less. It can lock us into certain things. Think less about your net worth and more about meeting your daily nutritional and emotional needs. Your long-term net worth will be better for it.

Live for love. Be merry with it, be mad with it. Air your grievances with the world, but also share your gratitude. We all need both the carrot and the stick to stay on our paths to social justice and inner peace.

Live for love. Be like Little Bear, who keeps thinking he needs to put on more winter clothes to be warm until he realizes that — hey, I’m a bear! I was born with a winter coat! Recognize the spirit that dwells within you. Honor and express it.

Happy holidays one and all!

Time to Be Thankful

Thankfulness is a good thing. In fact, I highly recommend it to anyone who has a job, a little love in their life, or even just a nice pet. Being thankful for these blessings will only enrich your life further.

Now that I’m a little older, I’ve come to appreciate the feeling of being thankful for something that I was initially disappointed about — realizing that being sick or being in an accident or losing a job can be the thing that preceded great change and improvement in your life. People say, hopefully, that we’re in a time like that right now in our economy, with the rising unemployment and millions of Americans losing retirement security in the financial turmoil of the stock markets — it’s a time of crisis that precedes the needed change and improvement of our nation.

I’m also grateful that I have my work and that what I do is valuable, and that I have the opportunity to learn and evolve in my work. It has been a wonderful year in that regard.

I’m grateful for my family, both the kin relations and the friend relations. I am lucky to have so many beautiful, funny, passionate, creative, and earnest people gathered around me.

I’m also grateful I don’t have to be swallowed up in a porn underworld to make a living. There are some awful jobs out there. One that I recently brushed paths with was that of a “porn rewriter.” It was a job I saw posted on a blogger job board for an “online copy writer” for a “reputable publishing company.” On a whim, I sent in my resume and got a reply telling me I could work for $10 per post rewriting 750 word “adult entertainment” pages so that they didn’t infringe on copyright and could be republished. While this might be just the right job for some crafty sort who figures out that all he/she has to do is substitute one racy adjective for another, (just switch “engorged” for “tumescent” and “perky” for “pointy”!) the thought of me doing this for a living and the fact that someone out there right now is doing this for a living, made me so thankful again for my life and my work.

So, yes, on this Thanksgiving, 2008, give thanks.