Trickle Down Violence: Trump and Trauma
So much pain and hurt exists because of a statement (repeated with good reason but ad nauseam) that was made by the electoral college-elected president of the U.S. who is so often ignorant, prejudiced and verbally uncontrolled. There is no question that he is a proven, consistent liar and racist. His foul words and their meaning are roiling foreign embassies, military enclaves, university campuses, political parties and local barrooms—wherever people gather to assess the state of their world—right into the Miami hospital where I’m now sitting with my husband who needed medical attention.
The ER waiting area TV is tuned to CNN, and the talk is Trump damage control. I’m ignoring it. I have more pressing concerns with a lung-infected husband showing pneumonia-like symptoms.
I need help. And who is here to help us? An African-American receptionist admitted him. A Latina nurse helped him get on a gurney and checks his vitals. A breathing technician from Haiti gave him a mild steroid in an oral tube. A staff doctor with middle eastern handsomeness questions him. An African attendant wheels him to the chest x-ray room. We have encountered a map of the shithole nations Donald Trump has so brazenly discredited. Their former citizens have taken the jobs that affect our very lives this minute. I’m grateful for each of them.
Sextysomethings understand the danger that faces us if we disdain others to the point they have no value. When New Yorkers were crying that immigrants from Mexico and Korea were taking jobs away from “natives,” then-Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, Mr Law and Order himself, reminded the complainers that kicking them out would exile the food deliverers, restaurant workers and green market workers who make New York worth living in. Without these undesirables servicing them, would New York be instant-gratification New York?
Labeling whole groups of people as undesirable robs us of the richness (and them of opportunity) that comes from the efforts and talents of worthy people who often already led lives without worth. They are shut out at the entry door by prejudice intensified by fear.
Yes, 9/11 happened and at least 12 bad Muslim men slipped by immigration to take down the Twin Towers and kill over 4000 people. But it is a fact that this country has always been in more danger by homegrown criminals using bombs like Timothy McVeigh, and gun-wielding assassins, some clearly mentally ill, who wiped out the young lives of school kids, or disco club-or concert-goers like those in Las Vegas who gathered for fun and experienced mayhem.
There is no screening test to determine reliably, consistently, that an immigrant is healthy in mind and body and intent on productive work. Illegals of all sorts can still get through, under or around a wall. And who can count the number of artists, teachers, doctors and clergy the offspring of these immigrants may become?
The real question is if the concept of national security can be improved by immigration legislation at all. Is this a legal issue or a social one? Psychologists and scientists continue to be challenged by nature vs nurture theories as to why some people are bad apples and others are peachy clean. It is futile to spread the confusion to tribes, religions, or races.
Banning by nationality in a nation made up of immigrants is outrageously discriminatory, and a misuse of power. Perhaps President John F. Kennedy said it best when he addressed power in a speech.
…What counts is the way power is used — whether with swagger and contempt, or with prudence, discipline and magnanimity. What counts is the purpose for which power is used — whether for aggrandizement or for liberation.
He summed up with a quote from Shakespeare. “It is excellent,” The Bard said, “to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.”
Hear that, President Trump?
(Update: Although he is already improved, Jim is being kept in the hospital overnight to treat a mild pneumonia).
Two months shy of her 60th birthday, Sharon Stone re-defines fashion as we age in a geometric see-thru illusion dress at the 2018 Golden Globes Awards Show. If there was ever a Sextysomething statement, she made it clear!
Travel with me back in time. About 20 years ago my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and renewed their vows in a gala party. My mom, then 71, and I went to Bergdorf Goodman and asked the Russian saleslady to show her gowns worthy of this festive occasion. The saleslady appraised my mom’s good looks and figure and suggested she consider a dress the actress Raquel Welch had just ordered. Perhaps my mother would like to try it on?
Intrigued, mom said yes. Now my mom didn’t see herself as a Raquel look-alike by any stretch, but we both were curious what the aging star had bought. Out from the stock room came a fitted black off the shoulder, feathered bustline gown. The décolleté was not too exposed, but it still screamed Hollywood.
My mom tried it on. She looked like a movie star. I looked at her in awe. Always a great dresser, she was transformed. I could see in her eyes that this was the dress. She had found her meme and bought the gown.
Then she called Aunt Mimi. Mimi was her best friend and my favorite gorgeous and glamorous non-biological aunt. I adored her. She had moved from New York to Los Angeles many years ago after being a Broadway dancer who gave up her career for marriage and family. She was zany, gutsy, and highly competitive with my mom.
You bought what? Raquel Welch owns it? It’s low-cut? Feathers? At your age? The critique was sharp-edged and hurtful. My mother held her ground. It was her party, her marriage renewal, and she was going to it dressed as the glamorous woman she wanted to be. Age be damned!
And damned if she didn’t own that party and own that gown in her own way and style. I think the concept Sextysomething was born that night when my aging but ageless mom made Raquel Welch’s dress her own.
Aunt Mimi and my mom’s great friendship survived. They danced together at the party and had a ball. Mimi outlived my mother. She came to her funeral, eulogized her, and told me later it was my fault she bought that gown. She blamed me for not stopping my mom from yielding to a saleslady’s pitch. Raquel Welch never bought that dress, she said. The neckline wasn’t low enough!
I’m not so sure. Anyway, seeing Sharon Stone a decade later in a plunging half-bosom number makes it meaningless. My mother wore what she wanted and was sexy and beautiful on the night she and my handsome tuxedoed dad remarried. Sextysomethings wear their dreams well.
I’ve been thinking: Is this blog’s name, Sextysomething, accurate?
Blogs, like children, crave attention. The Sexty part is a catchy term, but I strongly didn’t want it to attract the wrong attention. This is NOT a sex blog. At times I may write about sexuality, but I was really trying to capture more of the creativity and vitality of people over 55, heading toward 60, and those already there. Simply put, I want to see the blog grow with like-minded readers.
Sextysomething to me is a category, like thirtysomething. It is a demographic of spirited, expressive people who happen to be over a certain age that has been unfairly associated with, well, being a has-been. That’s exactly the opposite of how I see myself, my peers and who I want to read my blog.
We sextysomethings are engaged in a passionate present. My husband turned 80 and he works. I work one day a week teaching writing and take courses to improve my skills. Sextysomethings blessed with good health are working, working out, socializing, taking classes, grandparenting, and contributing to their families and communities in important ways. No one I know is rocking on a porch. We are rocking with plans and ideas. We are still rocking and rolling with our childhood music.
Yet, reviewing my posts of this last year, I see that politics has often trumped lifestyle, relationships, culture, aging and health. Mr. Trump himself has trumped my writing goals. It seems his chaotic, fear-inducing presidency has controlled me like a dybbuk. Have I fallen under its evil spell, unable to focus on other topics but Donald? Lord knows he would love the attention, but my blog thrives on readers, and that process of selection begins with its name.
So I turn to you with a question: Do you think my blog’s name is accurate? Does it represent what I write about? When I am asked how old I am, I answer “Sextysomething.” 60, 70, 80, 90–we are all sextysomethings. People with a mind, heart, and drives. They may be operating slower, but the beat goes on in all of us. (Even if that beat does get stronger around the antics of Mr. Trump.)
Some friends of mine were out for dinner and discussing a recent blog I wrote about what a sextysomething considers the most important trait in a long-term relationship. The answers were thoughtful: acceptance, kindness, compromise. I was reminded that I promised to offer my answer.
It’s two words that I think are vital to the durability of a loving partnership. Mental health. Trust me: It wasn’t always my list-topper.
Like many conditions (think weather), it is easier to define what isn’t mental health than what is. Narcissism and a violent temper, for example, are agreed-upon storms that wreck relationships. Addiction is another sign of emotional instability with painful impact on loved ones.
When I was dating in my 40s after my divorce, I became clearer about what I wanted in a partner. In conversations, in workshops for singles, in researching what makes marriage work, all the qualities I heard, including those my friends mentioned at our dinner, were part of the cluster that for me forms mental health. It is the umbrella of mental health that allows us to be accepting, kind, and capable of compromise. It also allows us to face our shortcomings, own them, and try to fix them to the best of our ability. We are mentally healthy enough to become reliable, giving partners by virtue of the work we do on ourselves over the course of our lives.
Being human, we all have times when we are less-than, but the bottom line of our behavior stays within boundaries of positive interaction. So, when I made a list of essentials I was seeking in a partner, I put mental health first. Then came kindness to others, as a parent, grandparent, mate and good citizen, and third was generosity. Helping others succeed in life through mentoring and/or financial help was a must for me.
These were the soul-traits of the man I would love and grow old with. Lucky for me, I met him.
What’s on your list? How has it changed?
I hate needles. I might have gotten a feminine tattoo like my brave friend Phyllis did when she officially turned sextysomething. A lovely butterfly perched near her shoulder. Wise choice, Phyllis. Gravity won’t win!
Now consider this tattoo choice. Have a wonderful day!!
Recently I’ve been reading stories about what qualities make relationships work. Compassion, loyalty, commitment, and persistence are frequently mentioned. But are these traits inherent or do they develop? Can you spot them early on?
My mom used to say people put more forethought into buying a car than choosing a life partner. They enter the dealership wanting the very best auto their money can buy. Yet they often settle on a cheaper model when choosing a mate. Put another way, their car picker was more finely tuned than their mate picker.
If we want as much satisfaction from whom we love as what we drive, perhaps we need to work on our “picker.”
Most sextysomethings have learned some things about our picker. Mine in younger years liked handsome, fit, athletic. Throw in ambition and a sharp brain, and I think my picker yelled “Jackpot!” I was 16 when I met Mr. Jack Pot, my hormones were raging, and when I married him at 21, my picker was proud to have found me the right biological mate to produce children and support a family.
Years passed and the marriage ended. I was in my early forties and thrust back into the dating world. Could I trust my old picker? It still let physical attraction rule. But I wasn’t the little girl bride of 22 years ago. A more mature, seasoned woman was hopefully in charge.
Slowly I learned to guide my picker. It responded, like a smooth transmission as it glides into gear. Looks were nice, my picker and I agreed, but so were kindness, self-knowledge, parenting experience, and generosity. Especially as age takes hold.
Eventually I decided that my old turn-ons were turn-offs: they offered fleeting excitement, were even dangerous to some extent. When a friend asked if I’d like to meet “a good guy” she knew who might be an interesting date, I asked her why she wasn’t interested.
“Oh, you know I like bad boys,” she said, under the dictatorship of her picker.
I grabbed the chance to meet him. He sounded exactly right for me, the second time around!
What qualities are must-haves for you in picking a partner? My #1 essential is a two-word answer which I’ll share with you after you reply to the SEXTYSOMETHING blog.