Friday, June 26, 2009

to be a star

I confess...I've been thinking a lot about celebrity lately.

For years now, I've taken issue with shows like Jon & Kate. If adults chose to broadcast their lives, I suppose that it their decision. But I don't think it is fair to involve children who can't consent. Yes, we allow children to act and such but that really is quite different. We shudder a bit at the way the Dionne quints were treated as a side-show act. But are we doing anything better today? Might it not be even worse since the format endures more and provides lasting evidence.

Part of me takes issue even when the kids aren't immediately involved and have to face the consequences of their parents' public lives. But there's some level of that sort of thing that we'll never escape. There will always be four little boys whose public-figure dad was caught cheating with an Argentine mistress. But we can clamp down on having the children as directly involved as reality TV has allowed.

And then, there's MJ. In a way, he's Celebrity to the n-th degree. He was in the spotlight from a young age and never escaped it. He both embraced it and thrived in it and was eaten up by it. We created him, both the good and the (alleged) bad. If he was guilty of some of the bad acts tied to his name, it is no doubt related to what we did to him from age 5. Excuse? No. But an explanation and something we need to think about.

I did a project in college once on Spectacle in early America (think circus freaks). Really, it has gotten worse, not better. The dog-faced girl may not be a side-show act in a cage. But is it better to be on a Discovery Channel special and to be tracked online?

What responsibility do we have to the celebrities we create?

There's more on this rattling around in my head....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

power and sex

I confess...I'm interested in the relationship between power and infidelity.

Do those in power "stray" at a higher rate? Or is it just that we all hear about them when they do? And maybe that it is easier to "catch" someone high profile? If they stray more, is it a matter of opportunity (away from home, willing partners....) or some mental/emotional/social side effect of power?

If there is a power/infidelity correlation, does it cross gender lines? We hear about lots of men in politics who are caught in "sex scandals" but not so many women. Is that just because there are fewer women in power positions? Are women more careful because they feel their power is a bit more tenuous and they are being watched more closely? Or does power have a different impact on women than on men?

Honestly, I ask for marital fidelity from my husband, not my President etc. I wouldn't want to be Bill Clinton's wife but I was happy voting for him twice. That said, I do still appreciate leaders who can also be role models. We need more role models in this world.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I confess....that I often wonder what it like inside other people's heads.

I've referred before to the Gentle Giant on the T. I probably see him once a week. He clearly has a significant level of learning disability. He is also a very large black man. Tall and defensive-football player big. He likes to announce the stops with the automated voice. He likes to rock a bit. He sometimes asks if the train came from Braintree...this seems to be important to know. Today, he asked for a specific seat. The man very nicely gave it to him. A few weeks ago, he picked the wrong person to ask if the train came from Braintree and was ignored. He was very confused by this and didn't seem to knwo why the man wouldn't respond. He puts a hand on people (very least it looks gentle) before he speaks to them. Always a shoulder.

I wonder a lot about what it is like to be him. He looks very happy. What sense does he have of himself in relation to the world? I imagine he can tell he is "different" but how far does that go. And does he have any sense of how physically intimidating he might be to people? Does he know that putting a hand on the wrong person on the wrong day might be a disaster? Who helps care for him (I assume someone does)? Does he understand how being cared for makes him different? Are people mean to him often? What does he think/know when they are?

The Gentle Giant got me started this morning but I frankly often have similar musings about everyone else. They say you can't know a person till you walk a mile in his shoes. But we can never truly do that. How would the world change if we could? What would it be like to TRULY know what it is to be someone else? Would we want to? It seems like it would be amazing and yet overwhelming. Would it be depressing to find out that it is "better" being someone else? Or would it put your problems in perspective?

On the flipside...If you could show someone what it is like in your head, would you? I have my issues. And part of me wishes that others could understand them better...there is only so much you can put in words. Yet, there are parts I wouldn't wish for anyone else to have to face. And there is a part of me that wants to hold on to being me...the only me. If someone else was in my head, would I lose that?

Clearly next train ride I should just try to decide who has the cutest shoes. It would be much easier.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I confess...this is totally ad-like.

When I was a kid, my ears often hurt. My mom, being in the speech field, always took ear complaints seriously and trotted me off to the pediatrician. I remember quite well sitting there while he looked in my ears, said they were fine, and told me they did not hurt. When I was about 14, I switched (due to a whole other story) to my mom's doc. She was doing a routine checkup, looked in my ears, and said (w/o prompting) that they must hurt quite often. I nearly fell off the table. Something about all my allergies and sneezing and such as a kid throwing the natural tubes off.

So, I don't respond right away to ear pain but after a month of discomfort and a "full" feeling, it was time to just make sure. I am a bad patient and do not have a primary care doc (I do have multiple gyns...) and always find it tough to go in anyway. So we tried the CVS MinuteClinic last Saturday. They only arrived in MA fairly recently but I know other states have them. I had zero wait and saw a very nice nurse practitioner. She said that I had a lot of fluid in my ears, no infection yet but one might be forthcoming so she told me to get Sudafed and gave me a prescription nasal spray to clear things out.

Anyway, I highly recommend the MinuteClinic experience. It obviously only works for pretty discrete issue...nothing requiring long term management...but it was fast and easy. I did NOT need to use CVS for the prescriptions themselves. Co-pay was only the standard $10 office visit (w/o insurance, would have been $62ish). Great alternative for busy folks and I bet great for parents too given the type of ailments kids come down with frequently. As Jason noted, it can hopefully become an alternative for people who use the ER as a primary care. The concept is derided by people pushing the value of a true primary care doctor. I appreciate the sentiment (and know I need one myself) but think they are a great resource used properly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

wherein i am politically incorrect

I confess...I feel guilty about some of my less-than-PC observations. But shall share some anyway (many T-commute inspired):
  • Asian women have an odd penchant for perching right on the edge of train seats
  • Men in general will take up more room than they need, often by spreading their legs wide. This is especially true of African-American men. Noticing the racial disparity makes me wonder if there is any sociological reason ("marginalized" group trying to stake a claim, need to "look tough"). Asian men rarely do this...though they also tend to be much smaller in general which may be part of that.
  • There are two different trains that are on my home-bound track. I can tell which of the trains I just missed by the racial make-up of the crowd.
  • White men and women seem the most likely to reek of cigarette smoke.
  • The only people I've seen with chew on the train are young (late teens) white men. Is there a group trend? Who DOES that stuff?
  • I often see Indian families where the woman is dressed traditionally and the man is in jeans. It fits the image of women as the carriers of culture and history. Which is interesting since (across the board, not speaking of a specific group), both are a bit rougher on women.

Now I'm pondering my own pondering. I call these observations politically incorrect because they are group stereotypes with racial and gender-based lines. Is just observing something and noting it a politically in/correct act? I certainly don't assume EVERY African-American male will push his knees over to my side of the seat line nor expect every Indian woman to wear a sari. Am I a bad liberal for noting the trends???

Thursday, June 4, 2009

green-eyed monster (well, brown-eyed)

I confess...that I'm totally jealous.

  • I'm jealous of people who don't have my intense (unhealthy) love/hate relationship with food.
  • I'm jealous of people with a normal internal thermostat. I'm usually cold but then get randomly overheated. Then I get sweaty. Then I'm cold AND wet.
  • I'm jealous of people who have a real passion for something. Other than a sexy movie star.
  • I'm jealous of people who KNOW what they want to be when they grow up. Yes, even dedicated five-year-olds.
  • I'm jealous of people who can't eat when they are stressed/down/emotional. Not that that's healthy either, but it is easier of both the waist and the wallet than my response.
  • I'm jealous of people who truly enjoy the actual workout, not just the results and the feeling of accomplishment.
  • I'm jealous of people who don't constantly transpose letters when they type.
  • I'm jealous of people who fall asleep when their head hits the pillow and stay asleep till morning.
  • I'm jealous of the really well-dressed lady on the T whose clothes are simple but always so put-together. I totally missed that part of the girl gene.
  • I'm jealous of people who know what to do with their hair. Missed that part too.
  • I'm jealous of people who don't have to make 25 outgoing calls every day. Evil phone.
  • I'm jealous of people who aren't jealous.