Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Category: Things you should know

Damn

by mollykl

People talk shit about “kids these days.” I’m nearing 50, and honestly I should be at the “you damn kids get off my lawn and get a haircut” stage. But more and more, I’m impressed, even awed, by this upcoming generation.

It started over a year ago, at the Women’s March in Sacramento. High school-age girls. Quite a few of them. Handmade signs about women in S.T.E.M.. About voting rights. About their right to say “no” and dress however the fuck they want to. Teenagers, particularly girls, have been out front and loud about the proposed Muslim ban, the proposed wall, about DACA. At this year’s march the number was doubled.

I see my friend E’s daughter, K, who’s only in junior high school, but has her shit together. Sure, she’s still a hormonal teenager, but she knows who she is, and it seems like she isn’t going to let anyone tell her different.

I watch my cousins’ daughters run, climb, bike and snowboard anything not nailed down. And be unapologetic about it (because why the fuck should they). Those are some girls that will not only stand up for themselves, but for anyone else, should they need to. (As sisters, I imagine they fight, but I can also see little red-head A ambushing and beating the crap out of the first boy to break big sis’ heart.)

I’ve witnessed my friend K’s daughter growing up, and managing to find a balance between her faith and being a pre-teen (I can’t imagine that’s easy). She’s learning what servant leadership is, and in fact, what it means to live your faith.

Those are great examples. I would have been happy with those. But this week brought even more.

I didn’t want them. I didn’t want high school students to have to stand up to the government and demand that they act to ensure the safety of other students. I didn’t want to bark with laughter at responses to the presidents’ lame-ass “we stand with you” speech. No you don’t you mother-fucker. You stand with the National Rifle Association who gave you 30 MILLION dollars. You rolled back the Obama era regulation that stopped the mentally ill from purchasing guns.

They’re calling out the government for failing them. They’re calling out the lies from their elected officials who took money from the NRA to curtail sensible gun laws so they could profit from selling one more damn AR-15. They’re calling out the hypocrisy of “pro-life” members of Congress who only care about life in a uterus, and not walking the halls of a high-school, thinking about a prom dress.

Let me make this perfectly clear: there is no silver lining here. This is not the “bright side” that I am so famous for.

Teenagers today. These kids aren’t putting up with any of your “thoughts and prayers” bullshit. They want to know why someone with mental problems, and who was fucking identified as a threat, was allowed to buy a fucking assault weapon. And they’re doing it on Twitter, confronting the President directly.

Damn, I’m impressed. This is the next generation. The ones that have been ridiculed as being snowflakes. To quote my husband, “This is the post ‘participation-trophy’ generation.”

They will be marching, they will speaking, and they will be voting.

You have been warned.

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9066

by mollykl

I was an english major in college, and yes, I read Jane Austen. (In fact, I wrote my senior project on Jane Austen). But when I left school the first genre I really dived in to was history. I’d always had a thing for learning about history, so much so that I deeply regret not getting a second major in it. I’m not sure how, but Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day” ended up in my possession, and I devoured it in two days. What sealed the deal for me with history is the morning I took my book to work to read on my lunch hour. My boss Dave noticed it and casually said, “Did you know George was a paratrooper at D-Day?” George. George “the tea guy”, my salesman from Murchies, who came in every two weeks to make sure I had enough product, place orders, etc. He was quiet and reserved and your standard middle aged, slightly paunchy white guy. The next time he came in I nervously asked, “So George, Dave said you were a paratrooper at D-Day?”  Yes, he replied. Then I blurted out, “Why the hell would you want to jump out of an airplane?” “It seemed like a good idea at the time” was his oh-so-George reply.

And with that I was hooked. Just the idea that the everyday people we run in to were a part of some of these moments in history, and you might never know what they’ve seen or how they played their part. At that same store I met a Vietnam veteran who flew helicopters, and despite the average one month life expectancy of huey pilots managed to come home, only to get in, you guessed it, a crash and lose partial mobility in his legs. At another place I worked we had a group of customers, old cranky-as-all-hell Russian women, who you made damn sure not to get on the wrong side of. I cringed every time I saw them, until the day I realized, suddenly, that given their age they lived under Stalin. They survived Stalin.  And from that moment on I had nothing but utter respect bordering on reverence.

In 1988 I was in college, and I wasn’t exactly the Cancun for spring break kind of girl. In fact, I rarely did anything for spring break besides go home and read for a week. But my mother bought me tickets to go to Washington D.C. and visit a friend, and it was my first time there. I was lucky enough to get to visit the Smithsonian when they had the exhibit “A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution.” My companion for the day was T, and her family had been interned.  It was my first real exposure to what the internment detailed, and I soaked it all in. More than that, I watched. I watched T’s face at each display. I watched her try to put herself in their place, try to absorb the enormity of it, try to understand it. On a whole, it is outside of understanding. It was, and is, a symbol of the worst we do when we are afraid and when we allow our fear to dictate policy.

75 years ago today President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which moved all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, into military controlled government camps. It was an order born out of fear, and was so blatantly a violation of the constitution and a suspension of rights that it will be studied by constitutional lawyers in perpetuity. We think that we’ve learned from the past, but when push comes to shove, when we are afraid, we repeat the same mistakes, over and over. It’s no surprise that among the hundreds of thousands marching on January 21st at the women’s marches held all over the world and in the spontaneous protests held after the recent executive order prohibiting immigration from specific Muslim countries were men and women who were interned at Manzanar, Tule Lake, Heart Mountain, Topaz, and Rohwer.

We still have people around us who lived this history, who know how it started, who perhaps hoped and prayed that it “wouldn’t come to this.” But it did. It’s time to respect the history they lived and their experiences and do our best to ensure it doesn’t happen again. That’s not going to happen with hoping, it’s going to happen with speaking up. It’s going to happen with the word no. It’s going to happen with standing up for what makes this country unique – our Constitution and the rights we are afforded by it. The best way to honor those Japanese-American who endured internment is to protect the next group that is unfairly targeted simply because of their “other-ness”.

 

 

Define great

by mollykl

The rain that we were promised yesterday came with a windstorm that left more than a few trees down in this area. I was driving to pick up son j and the overpass on the way to his school was blocked off by a fallen tree. That meant a 15 minute detour, because that overpass is the only convenient way to get across the freeway in this neighborhood (and the public elementary school and the Montessori school are both on the opposite side). After finally arriving and getting j we headed home, and I was not looking forward to having to navigate one of the two crowded-with-friday-traffic alternatives. But when I drove past the street leading to the overpass I noticed there was no line of cars. I pulled onto the street and sure enough, the overpass was open. As we headed down the north side I saw two men pulling freshly cut tree limbs out of the way.

The tree that had taken up one and a half lanes was now a pile of firewood. In less than 30 minutes. These guys didn’t call the city and wait for someone to show up – one of them grabbed a chainsaw and they went to work. My thought, besides a hearty thanks, was this: djt doesn’t think America is great, and he, of all people, thinks he can fix it?

Two guys standing out in the pouring rain and high winds solving a problem? That’s great. That is, I will argue, the example of how great America can be. They could have just called and waited for the city to deal with it. They didn’t. They helped out countless parents they would never know. They helped out a city that was already dealing with storm damage and now had one less item on their list.

The true things that make America great are the things we never lost: the willingness to dive in, to help. Is the United State perfect? Dear Lord no. But as we hurtle towards an autocracy we should keep in mind that we allowed ourselves to be convinced that we had lost what makes us great, when it was here all along.

Perhaps it just took a storm to remind us.

 

 

The Princess and the General

by mollykl

I was 9 when Star Wars was released, and to my memory it was the first movie I saw in a theater. I didn’t want to be a princess because I simply was never that sort of girl. But I saw a glimpse of what I did want to be: a smart-mouthed, brave, feisty chick who could handle a gun, and who could still glower while staring up at her captor. I wanted a light saber and I wondered if I would ever have the courage to stand up against a seemingly all-powerful enemy.

The politics of the movie escaped me at that age, and honestly, I wish they still did. I might be able to blame the movie for my obsession with World War 2 history because my understanding of totalitarianism, and resistance, started with it.

I learned some great lessons that I carry with me today: that a girl can do everything a boy can, that she can fight for a cause, that she can change things. Leia was a role model I could identify with, and one that I knew I would have to actually work hard to live up to. An actress is not her character, but in Carrie Fisher’s case it sure seemed like there was a lot of her in Leia. They were both mouthy, brash and willing to speak up. In Leia, Fisher created the perfect feminist icon, perfect because, well, she wasn’t perfect, neither Fisher nor Leia, but rather relatable. The thing about fiction and fictional characters is that we’re able to carry them with us, but in Leia’s case we had her embodiment here with us.

In an awful year, and the awful four years to come, Carrie Fisher’s death was a particularly harsh blow. Yes, she was more than the princess/general she played in movies, but that image meant so much to many women of my generation. To lose our icon at the moment we need her most, when women are in danger of once again being relegated to being nothing more than “a piece of ass” is depressing.

So be sad, mourn, and then follow the sage advice of, my quotes here, “some guy on Twitter”:

Be Princess Leia in 2017.

Fight on the front lines. Strangle fascists with the chains they would have you wear. Be a motherfuckin’ general. 

-K O’Shea

“Look at what we can do”

by mollykl

We have one of those movie dvd rental boxes at the front of the store I work at, and the previews for each movie will stay for months. So everyday I pass by…and see the Tibetan prayer flags, the perfect blue sky, and the beautiful mountain scenery…and I know what’s coming. The previews for Everest play every day, every ten minutes, and have for months now. Most days I manage to hold it together, but some days I don’t, and for that I credit some really good writing by Jon Krakauer.

One day I was getting my lunch and watching the screen and the checker said to me, “Well, that’s just stupid. Why would they do that – they put themselves in danger.”

So why do people climb mountains? The simple answer might just be: because it’s there. Because once you’ve seen it, how can you not want to? Isn’t that the whole point of being human? To try the impossible, until it is no longer impossible? Climbing, free diving, exploring – these things move humanity forward, they help us to understand our world and our place in it. It’s a physical philosophy of sorts, and just as important as the purely mental. Seeing what we are capable of is inspiring. “Look at what we can do.” There’s a sense of pride and satisfaction in seeing what we are capable of.

20 years ago, on May 10-11 several climbing teams were on Mt. Everest, either ascending from or attempting to summit and when the storm hit everything went to hell. As luck would have, or not, both a journalist, Krakauer, and an IMAX team, were on Everest, at that time. 8 people died.

There have been worse incidents on Everest since then. Higher death tolls. But the drive to climb the highest peak in the world, to literally touch the sky, is everlasting.

 

The quote “Look at what we can do” is from Aaron Sorkin’s days on “Sports Night” and the episode “The Quality of Mercy at 29k”.

Parenting win

by mollykl

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. After delivering the parts that would make up “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk in 12 minutes.

Think about that for a minute: 12 minutes. Imagine an apartment building sinking in 12 minutes and go ahead, it’s ok to feel more than a little claustrophobic and panicked.

And then there were the sharks.

900 men went in to the waters of the South Pacific. Three and a half days later they numbered just 317.

Captain Charles McVay III was court-martialed the for the loss of the Indianapolis. He was returned to active duty by Fleet Admiral Nimitz, but retired in 1949. Beyond the loss in itself of the Indianapolis and his men, the loss of his reputation and the blame he shouldered were the end of his career, and in 1968 he committed suicide.

Fast forward to 1997 and a 12 year old boy who has seen Jaws and wondered about Robert Shaw’s characters’ speech. The sinking of the Indianapolis became Hunter Scott’s National History Day project – and for it he interviewed survivors and went through documents related to the case (nearly 800, as it so happens). All of his research came to one point, that Captain McVay was innocent of the blame of the loss of the Indianapolis, and Scott appeared before the U.S. Congress to argue the point.

In 2000 President Clinton signed a congressional resolution formally exonerating McVay.

A 12 year old boy did that. A 12 year boy discovered the truth and restored the reputation of a man who was ruined by the accusations levelled against him. I was impressed when I first heard this story, by Hunter Scott, but now, as a parent I am equally as impressed by his parents, because they did something right. They raised a kid would fight for the truth and fight to clear a man’s reputation.

Isn’t that what we all want as parents? To raise that kind of a kid?

Nicely done Scott parents.

 

 

 

 

Role models

by mollykl

When I was a kid I watched M*A*S*H religiously. As an adult I watch it and think, “WTF were my parents thinking letting me watch this????” (I also think “Why the hell would you not object to your 13 year old daughter reading Ian Fleming when everyone else were reading stupid horse books?” But that’s a post for another day)

M*A*S*H became available this weekend on Netflix streaming, and it just so happens I have a three day weekend…and yes, I’m letting my 8-year old watch. Because as inappropriate as it can be sometimes, not just about sex but about war and man’s inhumanity to man at times, it also has some lessons that I needed to learn at the time and that I want son j to learn as well.

Which brings me to Odessa Cleveland. Ms. Cleveland played Lt. Ginger Bayliss on M*A*S*H from 1972-1975, but I remember her best from the episode “Dear Dad…Three”. In this episode a wounded soldier asks Hawkeye and Trapper to make sure “they give him the right color blood”. In true Hawkeye and Trapper manner they give him a lesson (involving painting him with iodine). When he makes a remark to Lt Bayliss she snaps that she is a lieutenant and makes it clear that regardless of her sex and her color she is due the respect of her rank.

And I thought “Damn straight!”.

At the end of episode the soldier, lesson learned, salutes her. Even as a kid I knew that problems are not solved that easily, things aren’t resolved in 30 minutes, and in 1973 some 20 years after the actual Korean War ended African American women weren’t afforded the respect they earned. *

But Lt. Ginger Bayliss showed me they should be. If you’re a writer and you think your characters aren’t real, think again. Just as I count Elizabeth Bennet as a “real” character and influence on my life, so I count Lt. Ginger Bayliss. Anytime a fictional character teaches you something they become part of your life – they become part of you. They shape who you are, and if you have children, they help to shape the parent you ultimately become.

Role models don’t always come from where you’d expect. Sometimes they come from snarky, cynical 1/2 hour tv shows and from an actress whose name you might not recognize. The important thing is: there’s a lesson there, and you damn well better learn it.

Trust me, you’ll be better off for it.

 

*Yes, I know that Altman based M*A*S*H on Vietnam

How to enjoy a cold (or flu)

by mollykl

Yes, you read that right. I am, after all, the queen of “on the bright side” so here it is, how to enjoy a cold (or flu…quite honestly I’m not sure which one I’ve got right now).

1. Take a hot bath. Really hot. And use A LOT of epsom salts, maybe a handful of baking soda and then as much bubble bath or oil and your little heart desires (just be careful getting in and out of the tub). I have a bottle of Dr Hauschka Spruce Bath that I horde as if it was gold and I think I poured in 1/2 the bottle. Totally worth it.

2. Listen to music. You’re miserable why not listen to something that makes you happy. Alternatively, listen to something that makes you enjoy feeling miserable. Want to be morose? A little Edith Piaf’s good for that. Want to be happy? Try some Ella Fitzgerald singing Christmas tunes.

3. A cuppa. Right now I’m loving cranberry juice mixed with a couple of heaping tablespoons of Manuka honey a cinnamon stick and hot water. It makes my throat feel better but tastes vaguely like mulled wine (without any after effects).

4. A good book. Or a bad book. Or a really awesome book. Is it a coincidence that Larissa Ione released a new book the week I got sick, or was it just luck?

5. Any Lauren Bacall movie. After listening to her you’ll be thrilled with your new “Lauren-esque” vocal range – she’s the woman who made that husky voice hot.

5 things to snag in the event of a zombie apocalypse

by mollykl

I’ve actually had this conversation with people. You know, the what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse conversation. Guns are always mentioned. People always start with guns and then go on to everything that could be used as a weapon: golf clubs, shovels, etc etc. Here’s the thing: no ever thinks about the other stuff that REALLY MATTERS. So here it is, the list of the other suff you should probably remember when you’re raiding the deserted CVS (with an armed  lookout on the roof, just in case):

1. Hydrogen peroxide.  Even if you manage to avoid getting hurt by zombies chances are while you’re on the run and trying to survive accidents will happen. This shit is GOLD! What can’t it be used for?

2. Super glue. For wounds. Seriously, it’s awesome and holds better than liquid skin.

3. Doxycilin or amoxycilin. Break into the pharmacy. See the oxycontin and the vicodin? Keep moving buddy that’ll just make you slower and easier to catch and eat. But grab those antibiotics. Chances are you’ll need them at some point. (And pay attention to the expiration dates)

4. One of those compact sewing kits. One assumes you are not a 16 year old girl on her first trip to Europe and have not escaped the ravenous hordes with a car full of clothes. Be practical for god’s sake! Just repair things. Also, if there are extra spools of thread grab a few – they work on sewing up wounds that require more than glue. (Note: boil the thread first)

5. A map. Chances are you only know the major highways and streets of where ever it is you live. You’re going to want alternate routes. (Aack, remember the “zombie herd” scene from Walking Dead? Yeah, you’re gonna want to avoid that…)

Also, you might want to keep this on hand….you know…just in case.

For those of you who really plan ahead… Yes it’s a survival kit that fits inside an Altoids tin.

Goodbye and thank you

by mollykl

I don’t actually read my alumni magazine (sorry T). I get it…I flip through the pages…and I make snarky comments. That’s usually it. For some reason, yesterday when it arrived in the mailbox I spent a little more time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really READ it, I just skimmed it. Until I came to the memorial  page and saw the name of the man who led my senior project class listed. Then I really read.

Lew Archer supervised my senior project class at Whitworth in the spring of 1990 (even though he’d technically retired in 1989).  At Whitworth the Senior Project was akin to a thesis – that final cumulative work that sends you off in to the world. I remember damn little of the actual class except that the sun streamed in on afternoons and it was remarkably peaceful. I do, however, remember the hours and hours of hard work I put into that paper, “Jane Austen and the Father Daughter Relationship”. I lost about 10 pounds between the time I finished and when I was supposed to present it (10 pounds I could barely afford in 1990). Of all the writing I’ve done in my life, that is what I am most proud of.

It’s one thing to be proud of your work. It’s another to have a professor who is, well, let’s just say legendary, praise you as well. I’ve carried his words with me for over 20 years now.

Lew Archer’s obituary in the alumni magazine listed his career, how he met his wife, his volunteer work and the like. That’s the usual stuff of obits – I guess all it’s meant to be is a quick capsule of  who a person is . What we do is just that: it’s what we do, not who we are.  Who we are is evident in our actions and words to others,  in how we inspire, comfort and sustain. I’ll consider myself lucky if at the end of my life even one person will remember me the way I remember Lew Archer, as someone who gave me faith in my own abilities.