The movie for academics and us bookish types!

“So, you went to college. Is your life better because of it?”

First of all, you should know I was raised on college campuses and worked on them my entire adult life as an academic librarian. As kids, we collected pop bottles on campus and I was born at a university hospital. So when I watched the film “Liberal Arts” this morning it spoke to me in so many interesting and unique ways. This screenplay is superb!

This film, which premiered at the Sundance Festival in 2021, deals with so many important aspects of life: love, romance, sex, maturing into adulthood, retirement and what happens to aging academics. The story is told from the perspective of a 35-year-old played by Josh Radnor, who wrote, directs and stars in this little gem. He plays Jesse, an admissions counselor in NYC whose life is on the skids (fully disillusioned and going through a divorce), when he is invited back to his small liberal arts college for a retirement party for one of his favorite professors.

Jesse absolutely loves returning to college. Ah. the feel of total irresponsibility on a small liberal arts college campus! There he meets a few characters who complicate is pathetic life. There’s a beautiful, young woman who he falls in love with over long-distance letter writing, there’s a mysterious elf-like creature who shows up regularly to share his truths. ‘Nat’, played so well by Zac Efron, seems so ethereal that Jesse says at one point, “I’m not even sure you’re real.” There are a few bitter older professors who cause Jesse some serious disillusionment over choosing the academic life, as well as a college kid who is right on the edge of giving up on life all together.

Jesse slowly begins to see that being such an intellectual and expert on books and ideas has stunted his growth in terms of simply living an authentic life. He connects with everyone through books and ideas. When asked at one point why those of us who are lucky enough to go to college should appreciate it, he says, “Because you have time to sit around reading books all day, and you have lots of smart people around to discuss ideas! That’s not true when you leave here…” Yes, college was certainly that for me, and caused one of my greatest disappointment in life. I’ve been seeking intellectual types to talk with my whole adult life. Where are all the intellectuals in rural Huerfano County, Colorado?

When I saw the preview, I thought this would just be a fun romp through the ridiculousness of academia, something I am a bit of a expert on. Oh the stories I could tell… “Liberal Arts” turned out to be one of my most favorite films. It somehow covers most stages of adult life and disillusionment with so many great lines like, “I think being old will be OK. It’s getting there that kicks your ass.”

See this film if you loved getting lost in books, being in college and have felt disillusioned ever since. You know, if you happen to be an academ-idiot like me!

Further thoughts on being an academ-idiot…

What does the censorship of history accomplish?

Of course I must put my two cents in about those who wish to censor certain school library books, partially so we cannot recognize and acknowledge what happened in our past. I was an academic librarian for twenty-five years, most of which did not include censoring our history.

This is one area where history and psychology agree:

“Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it!”

In counseling we learn that the first step to any type of change or healing process begins with awareness of our past. If we cannot acknowledge what happened to us, we can never change its traumatic effects or how we now perceive it. How can you change that which you do not even recognize as true? Knowing and feeling your past can be so liberating!

You cannot change what you do not even know about.

Denying our history is not the answer. Historically we have certainly done a decent job of downplaying the slaughter of most Native Americans and their culture, not to mention “normalizing” the practice of kidnapping native Africans and enslaving them. When fully witnessed and acknowledged, our history holds much to be ashamed of. The only solution to this terrible record as a nation is to tell the truth about these travesties and then seek some kind of healing.

As Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” states, we should not feel guilty for the sins of our ancestors. We had no part in the choices they made or the societal pressures put upon them. But if we search out and now know the truth in our history, we can then move forward with a knowledge and understanding of how we should act today and every day in our future.

In addition, I must scoff at those idiots who criticize a decision to choose a non-European-American female for our next Supreme Court Justice. For well over two centuries we all knew that the President would nominate a European-American male for the post. The dominant culture made sure of that. And now these idiots feel threatened by one African-American woman on the Court…. GROW UP!

Postscript: When they tried to ban sex education in Utah when I lived there in the 1980s, we used to say: “If ignorance is bliss than Utah is utopia!” Nah, kids will never figure out what sex is if you don’t tell them…

Check your iron levels because anemia sucks!

It’s been a few weeks since I have felt decent, and I thought I might briefly share with you why. In summary I would caution you to watch out for ANEMIA!!! I only had it once before, and this time it was totally incapacitating by the time I got some help and got it under control. We’re (as in a couple doctors and I) still aren’t sure what’s causing it, but I got a big infusion of iron yesterday and I feel so much better.

For me, the first signs are a lot of hair falling out (in the shower) and a strange desire to chew on ice. I know, crazy! Then I let it get so low that my GP here said she had never seen it that low. Even then it took almost a week to start on the iron infusions and by then I felt truly crazy. I have a graduate degree in psychology, so I know what CRAZY looks like.

Anemia signs and symptoms vary depending on the cause and severity of anemia. Depending on the causes of your anemia, you might have no symptoms.

Signs and symptoms, if they do occur, might include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches

At first, anemia can be so mild that you don’t notice it. But symptoms worsen as anemia worsens. Source: The Mayo Clinic

Note: I have most of those symptoms normally between my low oxygen and a recent concussion.

My point is, get regular blood tests and watch for these symptoms. Anemia is much more common in those over age 65 and hard to spot, because of all the variety of symptoms.

Postscript February 2022: I have come to think that the statin drug I started in 2020 may be causing my severe anemia. I have since learned there are so many side effects to statins. Inform yourself before taking anything!

Our perspective on our present and future

I just realized this past week my new life theme: “Quit trying so hard!” After struggling my whole life for more, I find great relief in simple contentment, my own version of living in the present.

Acceptance releases everything to be what it already is!

If you pay attention to the messages from our culture, you find a constant barrage of: You can do better. You SHOULD be better. The sky is the limit. No matter what your age, do more! To that I say, why? Yes, I understand why younger folks might benefit from hearing that theme, but get real. With my lung and brain limitations, this is as good as it gets, and I would like to feel good about that.

Another theme I hear all around me these day is the comfort so many of my friends find in their families, especially their grandkids. That is wonderful for them. Mike and I have never been big on family and neither one of us were into kids. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in Denver ages ago: “Thank you for not breeding.” I remember thinking, “Wow, nobody ever thanked me before!”

Mike and I have been environmentalists forever. We believe in building native gardens and solar homes, using fewer natural resources and living a simple life. We find daily meaning and satisfaction living close to nature and we each have our own ongoing creative projects.

The one desire that keeps coming up for me, is a strong ‘need’ to spend some time on a beach somewhere near the ocean before I die. I have spent a few of my most glorious days on earth on the beaches of Cane Garden Bay, Tortola (BVI), on the Kona Coast of Hawaii and at Pattaya in southern Thailand back in the 1970s. So I say, take me away now to any isolated, beautiful beach! I have some purely intuitive urge to go back to where we all came from.

This is how democracies die

When I watch the news and other reports on the crazy rhetoric and violence going on in our country today, I see far too many who have lost all perspective on what is happening here. For a better idea of what I am talking about, view this recent PBS Frontline where the reporter interviews many members of anti-democratic and fascist militia members and how they see “the revolution” that needs to happen, according to them. For your information, fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultra-nationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and the economy that rose to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

When I listened to these interviewers with members of the various militia groups, I found their perception of our life today to be completely out of touch with anything I have experienced in my 66+ years of living in the USA. Are they living in a different world than me? Obviously. But what has happened to them to convince them that we are now in need of authoritarianism and dictatorial power instead of democracy? Is being encouraged to wear a mask or get a vaccine anti-democratic? It is to this group. How can they find the inhumanity of the most outrageously evil chapter in modern world history (Nazism) appealing? How is that possible? What is it about their life that makes them worship such an evil malignant narcissist as Trump and hate our democracy?

Their answer, which was repeated over and over again in their interviews, is that they were raised to love guns and to be anti-government. They were so pleased when President Trump agreed with their plan to reduce the USA to an authoritarian state, not that most of them even know what that word means. They said over and over again, “Hey, if our President agrees, we must be right!” Trump has weaponized the lunatic fringe.

“How the Boogaloo Bois went from meme to movement” Slate.com August 19th 2020

I take all of this information in and find it frightfully possible that January 6th was this groups’ version of the Nazi Kristallnacht. Yes, if you research further into Trump’s family history, you will find a powerful foundation of German elitism and authoritarianism. Perhaps our Oath keepers and Boogaloo Bois will be seen in history as Trump’s “brown shirts” or Sturmabteilung. These young Nazi ‘stormtroopers’ “provided protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties…” (Wikipedia)

When I add in the fact that there are an estimated 630,000 fully automatic weapons (ATF estimate from 2017) and Trump’s father died of Alzheimer’s disease, I cannot help but wonder if these very young extremists might lead us into “revolution” and chaos under the leadership of a mentally unstable leader. I mean, how stable was Hitler? And yet millions of Germans followed him until he finally shot himself and left a totally obliterated Germany .

I know. Most of us don’t want to think about this or watch things like Frontline to try and understand what’s going on, but this is not a good time to blow off thinking about our future as a democratic nation. Do you love democracy? Then vote while it may still count. Many, if not most Republicans no longer believe in voting rights or fair elections.

Thank you readers!

As one more year slips away, I wish to thank all of you who come by here occasionally to see what’s happening in Mike and I’s life. I know we are not action-packed, just 65+ers surviving day by day…

You may sometimes wonder why I write here. The best reason I can think of is to keep myself going. As most of you know, I have been slammed with health problems in the past few years, and the truth is, I don’t know how much longer I can keep writing, but it gives me meaning every time I do it. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother. Don’t worry, I am NOT trying to be an ‘influencer’ here.

In return for your loyalty, I will share a few of my favorite T-shirt sayings I have seen lately. I don’t wear T-shirts, but if I did, these are the ones I’d choose. Perhaps you can relate to a few of them:

From years of living alone:

Sometimes I talk to myself, then we both laugh & laugh!

A Rasta Special:

All dogs are therapy dogs. Most are just freelancing.

From the therapist in me:

Keep talking. I’m diagnosing you.

From the writer in me:

I’m silently correcting your grammar… (And also noticing all misspelling everywhere!)

From the analysis paralysis in me:

Hold on. Let me OVERTHINK this…

And my favorite doormat:

Come in. We are awesome!