Shifting Scenes–A poem

My first-year-in-college son is reading T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in one of his classes. Interestingly enough, NPR interviewed poet Paul Muldoon about Eliot’s great poem recently. The poem hasn’t lost it’s glamour, Muldoon says. No doubt.

Back when I thought I could write poetry, I began the poem below as part of a poetry in response to poetry series. I was reading Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, e.e. cummings, and Eliot at the time. What always struck me as powerful about Eliot’s poem is his ability to capture the fragmentation of a world losing its hold on the shared mythological knowledge of the past. In essence, Eliot’s poem is an admonition that we must remain connected through narrative or we risk losing our sense of humanity: love becomes lust and we become the young man carbuncular, groping our way down unlit stairs. The stories Eliot alludes to, these shared myths of Western and Eastern tradition, connect us, allowing us to give, sympathize, and recognize our place in the universe.

Simply put, I tell my students, Eliot tell us that art and narrative keeps us human because they remind us we are part of a much larger enterprise. For Eliot, it’s not necessarily about religion: it’s about the stories that create the religious experience. When we stop paying attention to those stories, we create a sterile, meaningless existence.

It’s easy to forget, in an era of never-ending news cycles, that we need to take a few minutes to enjoy the arts. Here of late, the world, as Whitman might say, has been too much with us and we need what Frost called that momentary stay from the confusion of daily life. I encourage you to hit the link above and read Eliot’s poem. If you’ve never read it, you might need to move in with it for a few days. But, I assure you, the payoff is worth the effort.

Feel free, of course, to enjoy or ignore the poem below. I certainly make no claims that I’m producing great art, but if you get some small enjoyment, that’s enough.

Shifting Scenes

His disinterested touch
The impersonal grope.
A force of habit years in the
Making.
This is not a movie
Where the years
Melt away
And the fire stays kindled. The
Books on marriage said “Don’t
Go to bed angry.” They said
Nothing about apathy.

She almost flinches
Pretends to be asleep while she
Stifles a weary groan,
Hoping he will not press his case.
He rolls out of bed
Tired of wondering what happened
Unable to imagine that
Repetition destroys beauty.
He
Stumbles out of bed,
Finding the bathroom unlit.

Nothing so exciting as
Starnbarghese or hyacinth girls
At the breakfast table.
Kids asleep:
“How many times did he cry out?”
“I have a meeting at 4:00.”
“You making breakfast or lunches?” “The
Car needs gas?” “What’s for
Supper?” “The eggs are
Burning.”
No one listening.

A peck on the way out
No passion, nothing
Solved. Her smile
Masking indifference. Her
Relief palpable when he’s
Gone.

The scene shifts.
The camera pans to
See children
Stumbling
Into the room
While the credits
Roll and
She turns to
See them
Sitting,
Expectant,
Hungry for a
Break in their
Fast.

Speak for Thee, Not for Me

Earlier this week, Ted Cruz, US Senator from Texas, titled at windmills in a ego-driven, 21 hour “speech” on the Senate floor. Cruz claimed he was speaking for 26 million Texans and 300 million Americans as he vowed to stand until he was no longer able. How noble and brave! Here’s a man willing to withstand Sen. Harry Reid’s glare, fight a raging bladder and dry mouth as his suit wrinkles, and speak into the empty Senate chambers, fighting an oppressive government while trying to impose his will anyone who disagrees with him!

As a Texan born and bred, let me first say, unequivocally, that Ted Cruz does not speak for me. He’s down to speaking for 25,999,9999. Give or take a newborn or recently deceased.

But, in fact, Cruz isn’t even speaking for 26 million minus one Texans or 300 million Americans and I wish the media would call him on this hyperbolic claim.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Ted Cruz, for those unfamiliar with Texas politics, didn’t even win the Republican primary in 2012. David Dewhurst won the primary with about 625,000 votes to Cruz’s 425,000. Because neither man had the 50% majority, we went to a runoff, a runoff Cruz won with a mere 631,316 votes.

While Cruz did win the Senate seat in the general election with 56% of the vote, that translates to a relatively small 4,469,843 votes, far short of 26 million. In fact, I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that means Cruz only represents about 16% of Texans. More to the point, of course, is that a little over 3 million people voted against Cruz and, while it might be inconvenient to point out to Senator Cruz, during the presidential election of 2012 those same 3 million voters plus some cast ballots for Barack Obama.

Essentially, 84% of the Texas voting population (that’s about 21 million people) didn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

Obviously, Senator Cruz is welcome to assume their apathy is a sign of support, but I’m guessing the 6.3 million uninsured Texans wish Cruz would give them a call before he claims to speak for them.

If we move outside the great state of Texas, Cruz’ claim that he is the mouthpiece of America becomes even harder to swallow.

I realize that Republican’s can’t seem to accept that a little more than 61 million Americans voted for President Obama, but you would think that a Harvard man such as Ted Cruz would realize that if there are 300 million voters and 61 million voted for Obama then, at most, he can only speak for around 240 million.

Don’t get me wrong, 240 million people is a still a lot of people. If there were 300 million voters in America. And they all agreed with Ted Cruz.

There are, according to the Census data, only about 206 million voters.

And they don’t all agree with Ted Cruz. (See the election results from 2012.)

While I will admit the polling data is all over the place with regards to the Affordable Care Act, almost every poll shows somewhere between 35-57% of the country supports Obamacare, 35-57% want parts of it repealed, and around 115% don’t understand a darn thing about the plan. (I made that last number up, in case anyone was worried.) The only thing consistent about the polling data is that it changes every day.

A big part of that uncertainty, of course, is because the Republicans like Senator Cruz have spent two years trying to repeal, obfuscate, and obstruct implementation. They are perfecting the toddler strategy–scream and holler in the check out line and eventually you might get your way. They demand, for instance, President Obama compromise by doing exactly what they want. Or they will hold their breath and shut down the government.

While Mr. Cruz does not speak for me, I do agree that we should, as he noted yesterday in his video conference at the Texas Tribune Festival yesterday, “allow people to buy insurance across state lines to create a ‘true national marketplace’ and delink health insurance from jobs.”

Of course, Mr. Cruz also notes the “best way for them [the uninsured] to get health insurance is to get a good-paying job.” And we wonder why we are confused. On the one hand, our champion of free enterprise and limited government supports the basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act and wants to delink insurance from jobs while telling the uninsured to get a good job with insurance.

Because all those people without insurance enjoy low paying, minimum wage jobs with no benefits. They’ve just chosen not to have a job that pays well.

This is the same man, though, who read Green Eggs and Ham, a Dr. Seuss book about trying new things, while telling us we shouldn’t try this new thing.

 

I fully support Mr. Cruz’s willingness and right to take a principled stand against what might seem like a government take-over of insurance. I have my own doubts about how effective these programs can be run and I have some serious reservations about requiring insurance.

But I also recognize that our current system does not work. Around 45 million Americans lack insurance. They are too often one cough or one lump away from economic disaster and bankruptcy. Medical costs must be reigned in and we simply must provide access to adequate health care. The Affordable Care Act at least gets use started.

Mr. Cruz has the right, and one might even say, the obligation, to rise in principled opposition.

But he should at least admit that he does so for himself and leave the other 299.999 million of us out of it.

Fight for Your (Constitutional) Right To Party

I doubt when Adam Yauch (RIP)and his fellow Beastie Boys wrote “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” they had the Constitution in mind. Their hit single from their 1986 Licensed to Ill was, in fact, written as a parody of the rock anthems celebrating drunken exploits and the party culture big haired rock seemed to value above all common sense and reason.

Like every other 17 year old, though, I completely missed the point. Hell, yeah, we would yell when the song came on the radio, “Turn it up!” It was the weekend (or, at least close to the weekend) and we were tired of our “teacher preach (ing) class like [we were] some kind of jerk.” Like every other generation of teenagers, we cut loose and did things we weren’t supposed to do, hoping we wouldn’t get caught. We smoked in the boys room, raced for pink slips (or even just for fun) down by the river, fought in the fields outside of down, and, in general, tested the limits of good behavior by doing all those things our parents told us not to do. No doubt bad things happened, but we were living, growing, and becoming. There is something pretty educational about being stupid sometimes.

While I’m certainly old enough to recognize the folly of the past and I would never condone drinking and drug use as a viable and necessary part of one’s teen age years, I would argue that those follies and indiscretions were part of that long hard slog to adulthood. Harsh and cold as it may sound, some people made it to the other side and some didn’t. Alan Ginsberg wasn’t the only one who saw the “best minds of” his generation destroyed.

That destruction, and those who survived, though were part and parcel of chasing the American dream. The glory of American democracy, in some respects, is our freedom to take chances and live on the edge to find out where our comfort zone might rest. We have, simply put, a Constitutional right to be a dumb ass.

But the greatest glory of American Exceptionalism, with all due respect to Vladimir Putin, is that our country was built on ideals, symbols, and abstract concepts. No one willingly dies for the piece of red, white, and blue cloth. We can sew millions of those. Our soldiers die for that undefinable freedom, that feeling when the colors fly across the sky.

Certainly, we can think of examples that represent freedom, but the word itself exists as a truth within each of us. And it has to stay that way. The moment we create a hard and fast definition is the day we become divided. When we begin to demand, either culturally or politically, that specific political views, religions, or behaviors are un-American, we limit those people willing to defend the core ideas of America. Dogma, too often, is just another word for intolerance.

I wrote in a previous blog about Geo Listening, a company hired by schools to monitor their students’ social media sites for “troubling words and images” and about the new HR trend of using google searches as a supplemental part of the hiring process. The issue, as I noted then, isn’t that we shouldn’t be held accountable for our actions. The issue is that we are allowing these schools and companies to increasingly define appropriate social behavior. In defining what we can’t let people do, we are in fact limiting what they can do. The impact is a slow erosion of growth, and, in too may ways, legislating childhood out of existence.

In 1986, indiscretions might get you a ticket, you might spend a night in jail, or, more than likely, you simply got driven home and warned to show better judgment next time.The assumption at the time was that you would outgrow such things. We forgave youthful indiscretions.

In 2013, that same decision might get you living under a bridge or in your parent’s basement while you work the only dead end job you can find. The system, too easily, defines us. That slap on the wrist in 1986 has become a pair of handcuffs in 2013.

Worse yet, we are sitting by and letting it happen.

We need to “Fight for [Our] Right To Party” before we wake up one morning (hungover or not) and that right has been taken away.

Sitting in the Fish Bowl

According to the latest Career Builder survey, 43% of employers have not hired someone because of photos, comments, or outright lies listed on social media sites. About 50% of the respondents listed Inappropriate photos and information posted about drugs and drinking as the worst infractions. Only 28% of the respondents listed discriminatory comments about race, gender, etc as a reason to not hire someone.

Because, of course, getting liquored up on the weekend is far worse for business than posting racist or misogynist rants.

I will admit that as the father of two sons with facebook, twitter, instagram, and god knows what other outlets for free expression I have my concerns. According to a survey by Burlingame’s Jobvite, 42% of employers form positive or negative feelings based on social networks sites and 94% of recruiting and HR people are out there trolling the web looking for reasons to give candidates a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Essentially, social network sites have become part of an extended job application.

The good news is that soon enough I won’t have to monitor their social media. Geo Listening, a new startup that scans “posts across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other online services, searching for certain keywords and location information that would tie a person to the school community. Relevant data is then presented in a daily report to school officials.” For now, Geo Listening is confining their intrusion, er, monitoring, to schools that hire their services.

It’s not a violation of privacy, the company says, because they simply collect and process publicly available information.

Technically, of course, the company is correct. Mining available, publicly posted data is not a violation of privacy. As we see above, employers are already on that bandwagon.

However, I’m also, for lack of a better word, creeped out that a public school has decided that mining (trolling is more like it) social media sites is a valuable use of public dollars. Why, I must ask, is it okay for the principle to monitor my son’s facebook account when that same principle has absolutely no right to follow my son to McDonalds and spy on him?

Let me willingly admit that I find the cultural shift to posting private, personal information problematic. We have become a culture willing (and able) to trumpet our “self” as worth posting and publicizing. There is something incredibly egotistical about feeling compelled to share your intimate moments or your day to day moments with the world. Not only are you yelling “Look at Me,” you are also assuming you are worth looking at.

As with any other behavior, I’m more than willing to also admit that we must be held accountable for our behavior.

But, I’m also bothered that hiring managers and school districts have started using social media as hammer with which to punish posters. Yes–posting drunken photos of yourself kissing a cow on the backside says something about you but it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t make a good bank teller.

Likewise, trolling student postings for key words that might indicate emotional issues seems like a good idea, unless, of course, you have teenagers. Then you realize emotional instability is teen age life.

What bothers me the most, though, is the slow erosion of civil liberties in the name of safety and security. I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not entirely sure I can articulate what bothers me the most. Like the argument supporting the NSA’s attack on our privacy in the name of fighting terror, supporters of companies like Geo Listening will tell us that we have nothing to fear if we are not guilty.

But we do have something to fear. When we recognize that unnamed authorities are monitoring our behavior, we both consciously and subconsciously change. When our public behavior becomes a matter of public record for which we are always held accountable, I can only imagine a growing trend to uniformity and safeness. Worse yet, it’s a short step from deciding that pictures of alcohol make a person not eligible for a job to deciding that one’s religion or politics cross some imaginary line.

In essence, this invasion threatens not just my civil liberties but my unique identity. More important, that public self I’m crafting via social media is part of my personal space independent of my office space. I fully understand losing a job or earning a reprimand if I’m on my work computer or representing the company. Doing teguila shots on the bosses desk is a bad idea even if I don’t post pictures to Instagram.

There’s a point, then, where companies like Geo Listening, and the schools that hire them, aren’t just tapping in and hearing my conversations. They are trying to shape my conversation.

And, that, at the end of the day, is a far bigger threat than me kissing my neighbor’s cat while smoking a joint.

 

Cheaters Never Win, but They Do Go To Harvard

The big news coming out of Harvard this week is that their incoming group of first year students is more interested in cheating than having sex. What’s the point of cheating on homework if you don’t use the extra free-time doing something fun? Youth is wasted on the young.

Those of us who have spent time in higher ed are in no way surprised that our current generation of students plays fast and loose with their classroom responsibilities. We’ve known for years that more and more students arrive in our hallowed halls willing to cheat.

We might, in our older and grumpier moments, simply blame technology. The influx of computers and the internet has certainly made cutting and pasting much easier. Students have access to vast amounts of information. Chances are there isn’t an algebra problem known to man (and woman) that google hasn’t already considered.

While some critics of higher ed are more than willing to point their judgmental fingers at colleges and professors, arguing that universities are prone to fibbing to get higher rankings and our students are simply modeling our behavior, the Harvard survey shows the students are arriving on campus already willing to cheat.

But it’s also worth offering up a slight defense of our incoming class of ne’er do wells. We should acknowledge that cheaters (and their pants) have been around as long as liars (and their burning pants). In other words, the 21st century doesn’t hold a monopoly on unethical behavior.

Certainly, the data shows that cheating in universities today is far worse than it was in the 1940s.  Over the last 60 years or so, the number of self-reported acts of dishonesty have increased.  Of course, comparing the campus climate in 2013 to the 1940s is about as useful as comparing driving habits from the same time periods. I’m going to go out on a limb and claim the goals, purpose, and pressures at the pre-World War II, pre-Korea, pre-Vietnam university were a tad bit different than they might be today.

I definitely don’t want to excuse dishonesty, but I do want us (as educators, parents, and citizens) to recognize that as the social pressure to “get an education” increases, we see a corresponding willingness to cheat. We should also note that the pressure to succeed at the university is brought to bear not just by universities and parents. Employers are increasingly requiring college degrees for positions that, quite frankly, not need college degrees.

Why, we might, ask do students cheat? Because the cost of failure has become so high. Scores on standardized tests, too often, have become gateways to a better (or worse) world. Simply put, culturally we have turned education into a task one must complete that may or may not be useful. The degree has become more important than the journey itself. We have equated not completing college to failure, even though the majority of Americans don’t have college degrees and they are quite often successful.

When I first started teaching English Composition, our first essay assignment was always about the purpose of higher education. Is our goal, I asked, to provide training and skills or are we here to engage in the epistemological journey of self-discovery? Increasingly, my students resent classes that don’t “apply” to their major, but who can blame them. We bombard them with learning objectives and focus on assessments and accountability. We have reduced the number of hours required to get a degree from 130 to 120 and we focus on pathways to completion and competency-based education. They are, in fact, modeling our cultural values regarding education.

Yet, we also know that thinking critically isn’t measured by filling in the blanks. Classical education concerns itself with hows and whys. Answers are often fluid. Truth, meaning, and even language are fields of play where complexity reigns. Not knowing is an important part of understanding.

But none of those things are practical. Or fast. Or measurable. Or multiple choice.

And too often, culturally, not important. Instead, we spend our money and our time on standardized tests that pretend to measure a student’s intellectual ability. We tie that score, the bubbles filled in correctly, to Ivory Tower access and we reward students who master the practical. All you have to do is eliminate 75% of the choices and your future awaits.

I don’t intend to hold students blameless. My own classes include strict academic honesty policies, but I’ve also come to realize I must spend time teaching academic integrity and reminding students that learning at an institution of higher learning involves more than simply demonstrating a specific skill. We can, and must, teach both the hows and the whys, but we must also remind our students the why (or the why not) is the more important of the two.

But it’s an uphill battle. After all, those kids who cheated did get into Harvard.

We Can’t Always Be Our Brother’s Keeper

Dear Mr. President,

I’m sure your presidency has been a great disappointment. To date, America hasn’t become a socialist republic nor has the Constitution been revised into Sharia law. While the budget is still a mess, we are not bankrupt, the employment picture looks much better than it did a few years ago, and, according to the paper today, people are buying cars again. You’ve failed to destroy the second amendment, incite a race war, create death panels, or force workers into unions. It would seem your desire to be king has been thwarted by too many centrist ideas.

I was a little surprised, though, that you didn’t follow your supposed fascist tendencies and just bomb Syria. Perhaps you are just using the democratic process as a ruse to trick your critics into thinking they might have a voice? In the best of all worlds, of course, our elected officials would debate the merits of military action and consider the implications of American intervention in a civil war. They would debate our moral and ethical obligations to our fellow humans suffering at the hands of a totalitarian butcher. Thankfully, Congressman Joe Wilson is smart enough to tell us your move is really an attempt to distract the public (or at least the 15 Tea Party members who still care) from the IRS and Benghazi scandals.

Tricksy, tricksy. It’s a kind of political rope a dope. You are a cagey fella. Pretending to care about Syrian children. Sly dog.

Unfortunately, I have absolute faith in our elected officials to get caught up in partisan bickering and backroom cowardice on this issue so I am taking it upon myself, as someone hoodwinked by your intelligence, your strong moral character, and someone who voted for you twice, to write you this open letter.

Please do not bomb Syria.

I realize the horrific loss of life. Men, women, and children have suffered at the hands of a man so callous, with such a disregard for human life, that he authorized the use chemical weapons. I recognize Assad’s essential cowardice, symbolized by his willingness to stand in his luxurious palace and order the murder of human beings with sarin gas. I fully understand the ethical responsibility you feel as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth to help save lives and stop more bloodshed. Clearly, Assad’s neighbors have neither the willingness nor moral fortitude to hold him accountable. You feel a responsibility to take action in the face of regional indifference. I applaud the sentiment.

I don’t pretend, as some might, the path is clear and the choices easy. You are faced daily with the images of children who have suffered.

In Voltaire’s 1759 novel Candide, we are reminded that in the 18th century the price of sugar in our coffee was slavery in the Americas and various parts of Europe. I teach my students that Voltaire challenges us to recognize that one of the essential moral choices we face on any given day is the human cost of our comforts. What, I ask, is the human cost of our tennis shoes? Our vehicles? Our freedoms?

Voltaire also reminds us that we can’t pick and choose when we value human life. A child murdered in Syria is no less valuable than a child murdered in Spring, TX.

But, we are also reminded that we must tend our own garden. Far from an isolationist ideology, Voltaire doesn’t advocate we stop being active and involved but he does, at the very least, imply that we must put our own house in order before we can go next door and help our neighbors.

And, while America is the greatest country in the world and I love living here, our house is not in order. Simply put, I must remind you Mr. President that we can’t afford another armed conflict. Regardless of how short such a battle might be. History tells us that military conflict in the middle east is a black hole from which we might never extract ourselves. Our constant intervention, our well-intended actions, are in too many cases hurting the very lives we want to save.

Yes, there are times when we are our brother’s keeper. But there are also times when we must step back and demand that our brother help himself. We must recognize that our attempts to provide welfare run the risk of creating a dependency that leaves both of us morally, ethically, and physically exhausted. It is possible our attempts to offer a hand up are being interpreted as a hand-out. We must recognize that our desire to help is often seen as a colonial arrogance.

But price and perception isn’t the issue.

We can’t afford the human cost, not just in American lives but in the lives of innocent civilians who will die by our weapons or because they support us.

There are times when we must band together as a nation and willingly sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. Lives lost in battle are not wasted deaths. There are moments that warrant a “just” war, moments when war is the only path to peace.

Violence, at times, is the solution.

But we must ask ourselves if this is such a moment.

I don’t ask you to disengage and turn your back on Syria, Mr. President. Send diplomats, encourage our allies to pull people to the table, isolate those who willingly place self-interest and self-righteousness above our shared humanity. Expose those who stand by and do nothing as calloused, careless, and outside the realm of justice. Ask the American people to sacrifice the comforts of cheap oil and energy. Compel Arab nations to stand up for democratic ideals and human rights or learn to live without American financial intervention and aid. Most of all, put the world on alert that we will stop sacrificing our sons and daughters simply because no one else will act.

I feel certain you can think of many more ways to push for peace in Syria. Let’s find a way, Mr. President, to promote peace without preparing for war.

Elastic Waist Bands and Velcro Shoes

I’m not really one to celebrate my birthday. On the one hand, I find throwing a party simply because I managed to swim down the birth canal a little overly dramatic. It’s not like I had many options. It was August near the Texas coast and as much as my mom loves me, I suspect I had overstayed my welcome. Let’s face it–if we could get cable, a mini fridge, and a big screen tv and none of us would ever leave the comforts of our first home. There’s a reason women have to push during labor.

It would seem far more appropriate to give gifts to other people on our womb emancipation day. After all, sliding out of the tube was the easy part. Without that first swat on the backside, a quick bath, and a dose of milk, I’m not sure any of us would be around to celebrate any days much less an entire year of them. More importantly, these very same people kept us fed and clothed, helping us transition from elastic waist bands and velcro shoes to big boy clothes with buttons, snaps, and shoe laces.

On the other hand, birthdays do help remind us that we have traversed this veil of tears for yet another year. Perhaps, one might argue, we are simply celebrating our ability to be one year older (and deeper in debt). Like the rings of a tree, our age serves as a marker of our survival instincts and our willingness to keep pushing that proverbial boulder up the mountain.

I should also say I’m not obsessed with youth. I thank the heavens every single day I’m not 18 again worried about my hair, clothes, and whether that good looking girl smiled at me. Not getting invited to the cool kid’s party means I’ll get enough sleep tonight. Unlike my aunt, I haven’t had 25 thirty-ninth birthday parties.

But, I don’t really need a special day to remind me I’m getting older either. I can watch most music awards shows and realize I have no idea what anyone is saying and there’s not really anything sexy about twerking. (If you don’t know what twerking is you don’t need to count the candles to know you are older than me.) Clearly, my kids would tell me, I’m just too old to appreciate today’s entertainment world.

And, unfortunately, my body seems hell bent on reminding me daily that time is passing. It’s not just that the chocolate donut’s moment on my lips now equals a lifetime on my hips. All I have to do is think about cold pizza and coke for breakfast and I get sluggish and gain 2 pounds. When you get full every morning just taking your daily pills, you’ve definitely reached a certain age.

Part of the problem, of course, is that weight loss becomes a delicate balancing act between exercise and recovery. In my mind’s eye, I can still see myself running down the road, churning out that 7 minute mile, feeling the calories burn. I’m even smiling. Exercise was effortless. More importantly, the next day was always just another day. Run, rinse, and repeat.

Not so much anymore. The day after exercise I don’t have to worry about eating the donut because I’m too sore to lift the darn thing. I wouldn’t be able to run anyway. Somehow, the day after working out either my legs got longer or my shoe laces shorter. My quads are so tight, sitting down and standing up becomes a work out in both endurance and pain tolerance. Tying my shoes is an aerobic workout. I pull my pants up in stages.

But that’s okay because I’m slowly realizing that the surest sign of advancing age isn’t our loss of hearing, collapsing metabolism, or slow muscle recovery time: it’s our ability to rationalize the inevitable fashion choices that come with age. The difference between black and navy blue becomes a little less important and our clothes choices become far more functional. Five pairs of black slacks go with anything and that’s one less decision to make every day. Black socks do go with flip flops because those are the only socks I have and the flip flops were by the door.

Yes, kids, I am going to the store wearing these shorts. I’m not sure I’m in good enough shape to change into the ones that fit better.

And maybe it’s just my age and experience talking, but there’s not really anything wrong with elastic waist bands and velcro shoes, right? They worked just fine when I was little.

Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Dish

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)