Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lost in the Blogosphere

The hermit, after much screaming and slapping of innocent monitor, has finally recovered access to the Cave. We have no understanding of why so many, many hoops must be jumped through in order to sign in to blogspot, or why it took so many months. The creators probably think it's very simple. That said, watch this space. The Hermit rants again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The American Dream—is it really dead?

            The American Dream…what a phrase. It means many things to many people, and no two really agree. But as a concept, we certainly all have an idea what we mean by it. In its simplest form, it means living well; perhaps better than one’s parents did. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
            Hmmm. Let’s think about that. It has been said many times over recent decades that the American dream has died, or is certainly dying. That there is no opportunity for the “next generation”, that the “best years” have passed us by, as a nation, as a people. Is that true? It is easy to look around and decide that yes, the American dream is OVER. Look at all the problems we have, and all the things we’d like to have, both in material goods and in more esoteric things such as desiring government and society to run by one’s own particular mores. It is easy to bemoan our status, to look at what we do not have, to desire more. To envy “the Joneses.”
But when we do so, do we ever compare what we have to that of those who came before us? The originators of the American Dream? Do we ever delight in the things which we use every day, of which our parents and grandparents could only dream?
            Or have we narrowed our focus too far? One criteria often used by pollsters for ‘the American Dream’ is home-ownership. The ability to own one’s home seems, on the surface, to be an ideal measure for the American Dream. Certainly, it should be possible for one to purchase one’s home, shouldn’t it? But wait…within that seemingly innocuous question lies the very rub of our dissatisfaction. Because, you see, the generations before us dreamed of owning their own home, and considered themselves successful when they had done so. That’s reasonable, right? But wait…what was their criteria for “one’s home?” Were they unsatisfied unless they had a bedroom for every child, a master bathroom off the master bedroom for comfort and privacy? Did they expect to have a ‘guest bathroom’ for people who visited, so they wouldn’t have to see the curling irons, deodorants, and other mundane items with which the family lived?
            Or was their idea of a home—having a roof over one’s head which seldom leaked—a bed to sleep in—a working furnace, running water and food?  How many of us were raised in homes with only one bathroom, shared bedrooms with same-sex siblings, had far less ‘privacy’ and space than we take for granted now? Take for granted—we DEMAND it!
            Oh, and about food. Our previous generations expected to work hard and provide for their families, and wanted good, wholesome food—but did they often go to restaurants? The current generation of families expects to eat out, on average, three nights a week! Did they have pantries full of ‘convenience foods?”  In fact, a century ago, even our ‘better’ groceries did not contain a fraction of the foods we see today.  Fresh produce out of season, or from overseas? There was a dream for you…Many families had their own gardens, and some raised their own meat. Even in cities, people ate what was in season, dried, or canned, or froze up things for the winter months, and considered themselves fortunate. They had dreams, but did their dreams imagine Toaster Strudel? Or Burger King? Or Starbucks?
When these things are brought up in conversation, we are invariably told, ‘oh, but it was so much easier when women didn’t have to work.’ ExCUSE me? It may be easier today for a woman who doesn’t have to work—that’s a whole other essay on budgeting and scrimping—but even in the vaunted 50s, it certainly wasn’t easier. There were no disposable diapers, for instance. No microwaves….
I wonder, when our parents truly look around them, or our grandparents, if they are still living—do they think the American Dream has died? If our great-grandparents could be magically transported to our lives, what would they think? That we have surpassed their dreams, certainly.  Perhaps, each generation needs to dream larger than the last—sounds good, doesn’t it? But where does it stop? Or does it? It’s should be obvious that we cannot go on wanting more and more and more—there is an end. When can we say, enough? Or is it just not human nature?
And on that cheerful note, I’ll leave you. I must go charge my cell phone, my Ipod, and my laptop. I’ll have to order stuff online and have it delivered directly to my door in 3-5 business days…and I have to shop for a new car for my 16 year old. Life is SO hard, you know?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beauty is in the eye of--who, exactly?

An excellent piece here:

As I age, I find myself extremely worried about the skinny-minis I am seeing on TV, etc. Doesn't anyone notice how skeletally thin they are? How their bones show through their hide? When did BONY become beautiful? If our pets were that thin, the SPCA would be after us!
I fear we're going to be looking at generations of women who have all kind of severe health problems because they fought to stay too thin. If your body is meant to be thin, good. If it's meant to be curvy, so be it! If you need to change to be healthy, do so--but not to meet someone else's warped standards. HEALTHY is beautiful.

Good job!

The hermit at large

I ventured forth from the cave today, and quickly, as is my wont, became disgruntled and angry. I wonder why this is. Is it an inherent failing in my character, or in my environment? Of course, I believe it must be the later--how could there be anything wrong with a grumpy old curmudgeon like me? I do tend to be a tad impatient, and I do tend to be a tad critical of the foibles of those around me who perhaps haven't thought through the consequences of their actions. Or don't care. Oops! There I go again. I'd rather believe that they are thoughtless, and much of the time I can. However, the hermit in me growls loud at actions which seemingly are selfish and self-absorbed.
Recently, I perpetrated a series of actions which were not at all thought through...and that is a story for another time. But the memory is fresh within me, and the gratitude that all ended well, and far better than I deserved. So, as I ventured forth today, I was prepared to give my fellow man more latitude than usual--that lasted about a mile.
For those who aren't aware, I live in a very rural area, the wilds of north-central Pennsylvania, where there are more squirrels than people, and the people can be somewhat squirrely. Especially the imports--ah, the hermit springs forth again. Let us quash him, and see if our reasoning side can bear forth for just a bit.

I understand that cultural mores vary widely throughout our land, and that one cannot always judge another by one's own standards--or one's mother's. But sometimes, I find the hermit rising up to growl through the car window--'dija have no raisin' at all? your mother teach ya them manners?'
I come from an area where interruptions in speech were considered very rude--where waiting for the other person to go first, speak first, have first choice, were simply what was done. In many ways, we're very casual, but there are unspoken 'rights' and 'wrongs.'
We find the manners of those who come in from more populated areas, somewhat irritating. We try to keep to our own ways, but sometimes it rubs off.
For instance, today I was waiting patiently to make a left turn up a side street, just past a brand-new traffic light in our town. There was room for those in my lane going on straight to go by me on the right (without crossing the white line--a pet peeve I have which will probably be repeatedly mentioned here. Passing on the right is illegal in PA, folks! That's why the white line is unbroken? Can I get an AMEN?!)
As the lane of folks going the other way finally dried up and I began to turn across it onto the side street, a 'gentleman' (Mom taught me not to lie--but also not to use those words, so what else can I call him?) pulled out from a gas station directly into my path. He had been sitting there, had seen that it was "my turn" and instead, had to jump in front of me. Fortunately, my lightening-quick reflexes stopped my car before I transferred paint--and the hermit's lightening-quick reflexes hit the horn before I could stop him (also considered rude in this area, and only to be used against those truly in the wrong. Unlike certain large cities, where drivers have one hand on the horn and the other in the air--letting other drivers know they're number one.)
This 'gentleman' responded by shouting out his window, "What're ya honkin' at me for?" and driving away confident in his self-righteousness, and I strangled the hermit and kept him from letting that man know that we felt he was number one--with both hands.
I don't know what the point is, that I was attempting to make when I started this post--just ramblings and rumblings, I suspect. I will be more careful when taking the hermit out for an airing--wouldn't want the manners, or lack thereof, of those people sharing my beautiful hometown with me, to rub off on him. He has enough bad manners of his own.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rumblings from the Cave--Begin.

Well, I've done it. Created a blog, have a place to write. Deep breath.

A little bit about why, I guess. Those who know me say that I tend to complain about things, let things bother me, gripe about how things are and how they should be. In fact, my husband's nickname for me nearly won for New Blog Title. He always used to say I was WINE--Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything. Yeah. Well, I do like to mention things that both please and annoy me, and since that tendency seems to annoy those around me, I thought I'd inflict myself on the world in the form of a blog. [At some point, I will probably also post some of my fiction writings.]

Recently, I've been saying that I will change my occupation to HERMIT as soon as I find a suitable cave. This will be my virtual cave, I guess. I'm beginning to think "curmudgeon" would apply, as well. Hey, I'm old enough now to say what I think, and you can either listen, leave, or cover your ears and chant LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.

There is another reason I actually took this step. Almost a month ago, my "most-admired-man-I've-never-met" stopped blogging forever. And the shock, the grief and the sense of deep loss is still there, still absolutely unexpressable. I know my blog will be nothing like his, for many reasons. But in a tiny effort of respect and admiration, an homage to the man and his incredible way with words, thoughts--and people--I am going to try this out for myself. Because he once said I could. And because I now think, perhaps, I can.

So--it's a forum where I can talk about important things, or silly things, or anything else I want. You're welcome to read, to comment, to hang out. (And share tips and gentle corrections when I break 'blog-rules'.) But one other thing my "blog-hero" left me with, is an intolerance for trolls. As he once said, [paraphrased] 'Trolls are ruthlessly suppressed, and yes, I sleep fine.' So there's a warning. Don't come to my cave, troll. You're not welcome. Or, as the man himself said, and I'll leave you with this fine quote: [entire piece here:]

"So it may seem strange, for I pride myself on being open to heterodoxy in opinion, but when someone comes in hurling flame bombs and casting aspersions, picking apart spelling and questioning motivation, trotting out tired tropes as though it’s all fresh and new and unrebuttable and it all seems a part of some juvenile need to feel superior, then forgive me if I don’t sponsor it on my bandwidth – I am paying for this microphone, after all.
We don’t do trolls here."

h/t to Lex. Farewell, Captain. Fair winds and following seas.