Stay Together for 39 Years with this One Simple Trick…

Let’s throw away anxiety, let’s quite forget propriety,
Respectable society, the rector and his piety,
And contemplate l’amour in all its infinite variety,
My dear, let’s talk about love

–Cole Porter

It’s February and there’s spring in the air. That means this past Sunday there were long lines of men standing outside the See’s candy store, roadside stands full of red hearts and teddy bears, and women with a particular gleam in their eye and a knowing smile. February is also the month that Karin and I celebrate our anniversary, so it’s the love month for us, too. This upcoming one is #39 – poor 39, such a lonely number, being right under the shadow of 40 and neither even nor prime. It’s still a pretty good number as longevity goes, so it seems appropriate to discuss the question I often get: What’s the secret to such a long relationship?

lastinglovehandsOddly enough, I feel both expert and novice in this. I can speak with superior knowledge about how to make it last, and I have the statistically significant number of years to prove it. Having been in only one relationship, though, I don’t really have a clue about what attracts people to each other in the first place, so I can’t offer any advice on that. (Sorry, I won the multi-billion dollar lottery on that one.) I only know how to get your hooks in good and tight once you got ’em.

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An Opera Lesson

How ‘bout that Super Bowl and those ____? Wasn’t that play amazing when _______ the ball and then ______ took it in the end zone for the touchdown? Of course, the commercial by _________ was kind of stupid and offensive, but I sure liked the one about the dog ____. [Note to self: remember to fill in blanks after the game is over.]

Speaking of grand and potentially ridiculous spectacles, I’ve been studying opera this month. This is the time of year when the NY Metropolitan Opera provides live showings in local movie theaters, and they are a huge treat. Not only is the singing the world’s best, but the sets and costumes are fabulous, and the intermission interviews very entertaining. Think of it like boxing pay per view. It’s not exactly like being in person, but you can see a lot better and it’s much less expensive (especially excluding the Vegas flight and hotel).

Now, if anyone actually knows something about opera (which means you probably know far more than I), please correct me gently as I share my recently learned wiki-facts. For the few of you who might consider it but have shied away due to lack of knowledge; let me see if I can spark interest. And if you still detest the thought, I can at least give you a few buzz words and factoids to sprinkle in conversations. Continue reading “An Opera Lesson”

What’s so Super?

50 is here, and in this case it’s not so pretty. The 50th Super Bowl will be held in the Bay Area this Sunday amid pomp, ceremony, and controversy. A longtime 49er fan myself, the event stirs mixed feelings. Both of our local teams sucked bilgewater, and the clueless rookie 49er coach was fired five minutes after the losing season ended. I enjoy the game, especially debating the merits of players and games with friends, but there’s always been a dark side to that enjoyment that’s grown darker in the last few years.

The NFL has been grappling with an increase in incidents of player violence – domestic violence in particular – over the past few years. In late 2014, there had been 48 players involved in incidents, with 88 percent receiving no or minimal suspension. At the beginning of the 2015 season, there were 27 active players who had been arrested for domestic violence, DUIs, or other infractions. There’s also a correlation between an increase in domestic violence and games in general, with one study showing across multiple cities following a loss, violence in the home increased 10%.

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The Dreaded Senior Center

Bette Davis famously said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

The scariest thing I’ve done this month is to start taking a yoga class at a local Senior Center. After the first class, I couldn’t shake the disquieting feeling that there was something wrong about the whole thing. The room was too dark; the instructor went too fast; other people blocked my view, whine, whine whine. I had only paid for half the sessions and resolved after only one class not to see it through. Forget that the stretching made me feel better, that other returning members graciously lent me their mats and pillows, or that I discovered a beautiful Japanese garden next door. Clearly being there wasn’t for me!

Upon reflection – you know, that part of you that knows better – (Freud called it the Supergo) –the part that says you shouldn’t eat that or you’re going too fast – that part called bs on my lame rationalizations. I didn’t want to go because it was in the Senior Center.

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I am not Scrooge

Everyone loves to hate bankers. Even before WE* ruined the economy and took down a third of our own institutions, bankers were well known as miserly, humorless, unfeeling “covetous, grasping old sinners.” When someone mentions bankers, most people think of Scrooge.

But even before Scrooge, bankers had been treated with disdain or outright prejudice. Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. In many parts of Europe, Jews were limited to acting as moneylenders, and the discrimination against the job and the religion became intermingled. Edward I (in coordination with the Catholic Church) compelled English the Jewish bankers to lend the crown and church significant sums, and then simply declared the debts to be gifts or else taxed heavily. As the Jews protested, rumors were spread of the faithful performing bloodthirsty rituals and eating babies, and in 1290, the Edict of Expulsion forced all Jews out of England.

Prejudice against the religion has since diminished (though not completely), but prejudice against the function has not. Yet it is a function that plays a key role in society – people do have a need to borrow money and to house it somewhere other than under their mattress. But when bankers are mentioned, everyone thinks Old Man Potter of It’s a Wonderful Life, forgetting that George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart’s character) was a banker, too.

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