What Charlottesville Could Learn from Valencia: The Peace and the Concordance

This is the way it is now, the Placa de Ayunatamiento, in Valencia, Spain.

Not the way I remembered it from the fearful days of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco who, supported by Adolf Hitler, had led the Spanish nation into years of Civil War, countless atrocities and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. People lived in fear long after the Civil War ended, until the death of the Generalissimo in November, 1975.

In fact, when I lived there, in 1975, it wasn’t even called the Plaça de l’Ajuntament. Plaza del Caudillo (Plaza of the Leader), we called it. Even the language was different: Castilian then, Valencian, the regional language, now.

What was most disorienting was the plaza in the background opposite the fountain. Absent was the large monument of Francisco Franco, riding high upon his horse.

“Donde esta la estatua de Franco?” I asked, again and again, to blank faces. On this sunny day in 2012, nobody knew what I was talking about, let alone where the statue was, until one day a man who had obviously suffered through those years offered up the answer.  “The statue,” he said, “had been torn down,” in 1983. He directed us to the Plaça de la Reina (Plaza of the Queen), where we saw this monument to the victims of terrorism, sculpted by in 1998 by José Puche, 23 years after Franco passed from this world.

#Charlottesville could stand a good lesson about remembering those who, 150 years earlier, caused, and led, death, division of country, tyranny and atrocities, and about moving on to a better day for all. The memory of Franco, who had brutally divided a nation, had to come down. The people chose to erect the Peace and the Concordance to represent them, and to guide them, in its stead.

The statue of Franco was moved away from the public, to a military base.

Statues of the “heroes” of the Confederate and rebellious south were erected after the confederacy lost,after 1865, after the Emancipation Proclamation, in order to maintain the de facto status quo of blacks as inferior, fearful of the white ruling class, and stateless. The people of Spain chose to remember the past in their art, in their books, in the pain of a lost generation. They chose to remember their past by choosing something better for all, after unity was restored to Spain and after fascist anti-Semitic Germany was brought to its knees.

Perhaps even the Madrid-based statue of the infamous and fictitious Don Quixote, who roamed the vast country on his steed Rocinante, along with his faithful squire, Sancho Panzo, to restore chivalry and to right wrongs, to (even if foolishly) see beauty even when it didn’t exist, also has a lesson to teach to the tattered remnants of the failed confederacy.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements
Posted in bigotry, death, ethics, history, kindness, life, terrorism, united states | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Film Review: Menashe (2017)

CLICK HERE TO READ MY FULL REVIEW AND INTERVIEW NOTES WITH THE DIRECTOR, JOSHUA WEINSTEIN, AND THE LEAD ACTOR, MENASHE LUSTIG, and to SEE THE TRAILER

More to follow!

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in death, ethics, film reviews, movies, relationships, role models | Leave a comment

What’s Your Morbid Hobby?

Life is full of “which is worse” scenarios. There’s the “death by fire” or “death by ice.” Here it is in the poem “Fire and Ice,” as could only have been written by the great American poet Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The political parties have us vying for which is the worse social problem and no, it is not Planned Parenthood. I’ll tell you straight out I’m going with opioid addiction. The biggest threat to our nation. The biggest threat to our people. That’s right, the fact that many people don’t want to acknowledge even exists. And this is why it’s so dangerous.

One of my more morbid hobbies is collecting headlines that deal with opioid addiction and drug overdoses. I’ve been doing it for years, the pile is getting higher, but recently it’s been a real jackpot.

It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I collected the rare articles of addicts who had fought through their addictions and made it. Addicts who had ultimately gone to college and gotten major degrees in major universities. One black American from an inner city who went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. If I can dig the article out from my ever-growing pile, I’ll add the link here. There were articles about homeless who had gone into halfway houses and used that as a place from which to stabilize their lives, which included finding steady work and thus having a stable and proud income.

I clipped and sent these articles to send hope to a young relative of mine who was an addict and always feeling darkness. “See? You can do it too.” I’d like to think my hobby made a difference, helped this relative make good choices, but it seems like it did not. And now I cannot find the articles, even online.

Several years ago I would talk to a lot of my friends about this problem, and this pain of mine. On days when my relative was being arrested, or days when he was being released from prison, or days when he was beginning rehab and there was hope, I would sit in my seat during religious services and cry to myself. I’m not sure if anybody ever noticed my red eyes or my irregular breathing. If they did, they sure didn’t say anything. A few would tell me an aside about a relative who was an addict if I brought up the topic.

A few years back, my stepson died of an overdose of legally prescribed painkillers, shocking us all. He was a pleasure-seeker but he was not an addict. So my headline search and article clipping widened to include deaths by legally prescribed painkillers for things like, quite simply, pain. You know, those pain centers that are everywhere? Particularly in Florida?

Within the last few years, several parents in my community have lost a young adult child. Some of the parents have been brave and willing to confront this public epidemic. Others have not.

A few years later, after I was already personally grappling with this problem, the headlines expanded to include elderly adults who had been bankrupted by their addict children and grandchildren. I knew about this from personal experience, too.

The Untold Cost of the Opiate Epidemic: Elder Abuse

The headlines have continued to change over the years. In the last election, people started to care about the problem of “solving” the problem by throwing people in jail or prison. Were we creating solutions? Or new problems for even more people? A few times I sat in at a drug court. I saw young hopeless male adults. Five or so young adults would stand in front of the judge, who would ask them if they were on anything at that time. I saw them, in unison, lie. Five No‘s. I saw a pained grandmother as the judge would approve this one for drug court and that one – her grandson – to return to jail.

In the months and years after that, I started seeing headlines about large and small towns that were creating drug courts as a new approach.

This recent headline shows where we’re going, as a nation:

Life Expectancy in U.S. Declines Slightly, and Researchers Are Puzzled

Get this subheading!

African-American men gained 0.4 year of life expectancy in 2014, to 72.2 years.

My monthly AARP magazine is getting into the act, too, and not just about elder abuse by those seeking to get grandma’s retirement money in order to fund their heroin addiction. Once a place to find articles about cell phones and travel destinations for seniors, this 2011 headline was a first:

Boomers on Drugs

What you didn’t know about grandma!

Opioids and addiction are a national issue now because of the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes attempts to eliminate – just when America is acknowledging this deeply entrenched and growing problem – American’s ability to get detox and rehab not just for the rich, who can afford private pay rehab stays, but for the poor and middle class who cannot. The people who care about this are elderly, farmers, veterans.

About six months ago I sat at a forum in my town for high schoolers, the goal of which was to open up a discussion about opioid dependency and provide referrals for those who needed them, and so on. A few audience members asked questions, and the oldest was about 90 years old and he had become an addict after radiation treatment for cancer. Whoever we are, we are at risk. There is no safe corner.

Yes, this is no longer a problem that white Americans or educated Americans, and so on, can ignore, thinking erroneously that this is “their” problem and not “our” problem. There is no way to hide from this situation.

Sadly, my morbid hobby continues and my pile continues to grow. Urban, rural, east coast, west coast, white, black, young, old, rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, we are one nation, drug addiction and opioid overdose does not discriminate, and neither should we.

More to follow.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in addiction, capitalism, death, ethics, grandparents, health, life, medications, opioid use, people, politics, relationships, united states | 5 Comments

What You Didn’t Know about Grandma

Life is full of “which is worse” scenarios. There’s the “death by fire” or “death by ice.” Here it is in the poem “Fire and Ice,” as could only have been written by the great American poet Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The political parties have us vying for which is the worse social problem and no, it is not Planned Parenthood. I’ll tell you straight out I’m going with opioid addiction. The biggest threat to our nation. The biggest threat to our people. That’s right, the fact that many people don’t want to acknowledge even exists. And this is why it’s so dangerous.

One of my more morbid hobbies is collecting headlines that deal with opioid addiction and drug overdoses. I’ve been doing it for years, the pile is getting higher, but recently it’s been a real jackpot.

It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I collected the rare articles of addicts who had fought through their addictions and made it. Addicts who had ultimately gone to college and gotten major degrees in major universities. One black American from an inner city who went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. If I can dig the article out from my ever-growing pile, I’ll add the link here. There were articles about homeless who had gone into halfway houses and used that as a place from which to stabilize their lives, which included finding steady work and thus having a stable and proud income.

I clipped and sent these articles to send hope to a young relative of mine who was an addict and always feeling darkness. “See? You can do it too.” I’d like to think my hobby made a difference, helped this relative make good choices, but it seems like it did not. And now I cannot find the articles, even online.

Several years ago I would talk to a lot of my friends about this problem, and this pain of mine. On days when my relative was being arrested, or days when he was being released from prison, or days when he was beginning rehab and there was hope, I would sit in my seat during religious services and cry to myself. I’m not sure if anybody ever noticed my red eyes or my irregular breathing. If they did, they sure didn’t say anything. A few would tell me an aside about a relative who was an addict if I brought up the topic.

A few years back, my stepson died of an overdose of legally prescribed painkillers, shocking us all. He was a pleasure-seeker but he was not an addict. So my headline search and article clipping widened to include deaths by legally prescribed painkillers for things like, quite simply, pain. You know, those pain centers that are everywhere? Particularly in Florida?

Within the last few years, several parents in my community have lost a young adult child. Some of the parents have been brave and willing to confront this public epidemic. Others have not.

A few years later, after I was already personally grappling with this problem, the headlines expanded to include elderly adults who had been bankrupted by their addict children and grandchildren. I knew about this from personal experience, too.

The Untold Cost of the Opiate Epidemic: Elder Abuse

The headlines have continued to change over the years. In the last election, people started to care about the problem of “solving” the problem by throwing people in jail or prison. Were we creating solutions? Or new problems for even more people? A few times I sat in at a drug court. I saw young hopeless male adults. Five or so young adults would stand in front of the judge, who would ask them if they were on anything at that time.  I saw them, in unison, lie. Five No‘s. I saw a pained grandmother as the judge would approve this one for drug court and that one – her grandson – to return to jail.

In the months and years after that, I started seeing headlines about large and small towns that were creating drug courts as a new approach.

This recent headline shows where we’re going, as a nation:

Life Expectancy in U.S. Declines Slightly, and Researchers Are Puzzled

Get the subheading:

African-American men gained 0.4 year of life expectancy in 2014, to 72.2 years.

My monthly AARP magazine is getting into the act, too, and not just about elder abuse by those seeking to get grandma’s retirement money in order to fund their heroin addiction. Once a place to find articles about cell phones and travel destinations for seniors, this 2011 headline was a first:

Boomers on Drugs

It’s a national issue now because of the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes attempts to eliminate – just when America is acknowledging this deeply entrenched and growing problem – American’s ability to get detox and rehab not just for the rich, who can afford private pay rehab stays, but for the poor and middle class who cannot. The people who care about this are elderly, farmers, veterans.

About six months ago I sat at a forum in my town for high schoolers, the goal of which was to open up a discussion about opioid dependency and provide referrals for those who needed them, and so on. A few audience members asked questions, and the oldest was about 90 years old and he had become an addict after radiation treatment for cancer. Whoever we are, we are at risk. There is no safe corner.

Yes, this is no longer a problem that white Americans or educated Americans, and so on, can ignore, thinking erroneously that this is “their” problem and not “our” problem. There is no way to hide from this situation.

Sadly, my morbid hobby continues and my pile continues to grow. Urban, rural, east coast, west coast, white, black, young, old, rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, we are one nation, drug addiction and opioid overdose does not discriminate, and neither should we.

More to follow.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in addiction, climate change, death, ethics, grandparents, life, medications, opioid use | Leave a comment

Film Review: My Hero Brother (2016)

Want to see a light film that you didn’t expect to like but has a subtle and uplifting impact? Read about some incredible sibling relationships, and a lot more!

The film is not in the theaters now, but you’ll be able to find it on Netflix and elsewhere.

Read my published review of the film, My Hero Brother, by Yonaton Nir. Here’s the link, as published in The Newton Tab:

‘My Hero Brother’ shows the treasure we share

And then drop me a comment!

Save

Save

Save

Posted in film reviews, kindness, learning, life, movies, nature, people, photography, relationships | Leave a comment

Film Review: La La Land

la_la_land_filmFrom its opening scene under a big blue sky on a bumper-to-bumper L.A. highway stretching as far as the eye can see, in which drivers exit their vehicles to join in singing and dancing with a precision, energy and choreography that I haven’t seen since the Jets and the Sharks danced their way down the west side highway, the film La La Land, written, directed and produced by Damien Chazelle, transports us into a world of dreams and aspirations, both delightfully magical and often achingly familiar.

Set in a land known for dreams both fulfilled and quashed, this Hollywood setting, awash in primary colors, tells a story of two ordinary and young adults who each have talent and a dream. But this entertaining musical stands out because it defies our expectations of a classic “boy meets girl” story. In modern day real life, love and career often battle it out. La La Land confronts this head on, as the characters dance and sing their way through their lives in a delightful score by Justin Horwitz.

He, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), an aspiring jazz pianist, reveres the jazz greats and wants to open a club of his own someday, where the greats’ music can be heard and appreciated again.  For now, his talent is squashed at the dinner clubs where he is hired to play the song set requred by the restaurant owner.

She, Mia (Emma Stone), the aspiring actress, captivates because she struggles as any human: She squints in the sunlight, struggles to put on a smile after being rebuked by an employer, doesn’t fix herself up for the audition, and then attempts to justify her humiliation (“That was fun!”) when she hears the words, “Next…” Mia contrasts to the typical prototypes of the aspiring actors she brushes by at the various social events she attends who “worship everything and value nothing.”

The two get off to a wobbly start, which Mia is able to do because she overlooks a number of Sebastian’s more obnoxious character traits and is willing to learn about his passion, jazz. The two inspire and encourage each other in their respective fields. A modern-day couple, they have no expectations of where this relationship will lead. At least that’s what each says or, rather, sings.  But as the story and the romance continues, greased by some wonderful dance scenes, the audiences’ hopes that they’ll make it are raised.

I found their dance numbers charming. No, they are not polished like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but they are Mia and Sebastian. We may find ourselves rooting for them as a couple, and realize their professional dreams as well, but the past does not predict the present nor does the present portend the future, a dimension which Keith (John Legend) adds to this story. Keith, the leader of a jazz fusion band, shows up out of Sebastian’s past at just the right time with an offer for Sebastian to play in his band. This might be just what Sebastian needs to make his dream come true – if he is willing to let go of his reverence for pure jazz in order to tour, and then record, with the group. “You’re holding onto the past but jazz is about the future,” Keith advises.

But it means also having to tour for long periods of time, and leave Mia behind. Mia, we know, wants to further her career. loves acting, how much acting or writing talent does she actually have?

Sebastian encourages her to write her own one-woman play and to then produce it and act in it, which she does, but again we are not shown any part of the performance or even told what her play is about. It was unsatisfying to not see any part of her performance, we don’t even learn how much acting talent she actually has, but she has a dream. And perhaps Chazelle has a different storyline in mind.

At Mia’s next audition, she’s asked not to read lines from a script but to tell a story. She reaches within, to what she knows intimately and loves – and finally breaks free of her inhibitions. Her breakthrough comes as she extemporizes, to song, verses about her aunt, in the song “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and where La La Land connects the strongest with the audience.

Leapt, without looking
And tumbled into the Seine
The water was freezing
She spent a month sneezing
But said she would do it again…

This song is, after all, notwithstanding our investment in this romance, the film’s anthem:

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make

Up until this point, Mia and Sebastian have given advice to the other – but what about the decisions each makes for himself?  In the quest for love and a career, which comes first? How do modern day couples negotiate that? Do we read lines, or create our own meaningful script? Can one flame burn out, only to find another that’s brighter? Or is it all about timing?

Movie-goers who want their storybook ending won’t find it here and, unlike the passion in West Side Story which plays itself out throughout the story, the heat produced in La La Land‘s opening-number does not resurface later in the story line. The best music is when Keith’s band performs; and some of the dance music, such as that with the harp and flute, while brilliant, is counter to a unified musical whole, and the most memorable lyric is during Mia’s audition number.

But movie-goers will love the performances of both Gosling and Stone; they’ll also find a truer arc of life and reality where hearts are broken and messes are made but one’s dreams – whether about profession or romance – should and do still come true.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in film reviews, marriage | 4 Comments

Submissions: What Would Joyce Kilmer Say?

submittableSome of you poets out there have  encountered this email text:

“It is difficult to make a judgement about a poet’s work based on one poem. Therefore, I am asking you if you could, to send, say, 6 – 8 more poems by return e-mail? We would then have a better idea, and we can then see whether or not we can go forward.”

Six to eight.

I’m imagining a dialogue like this:

Joyce: I would like to submit my poem, “Trees.”

Editor: Dear Mr. Kilmer, while we enjoyed reading this one poem, it is difficult to make a judgement about a poet’s work based on one poem.”

Joyce: It’s a darn good poem. It has staying power.”

Editor: Yes, but we would don’t know whether or not we can go forward with promoting you as a poet with just this one sample.

Joyce: Dearest editor, I wouldn’t call it a “sample.” It’s a poem. It’s inspirational. Universal and timeless. It will resonate with the entire English-speaking world. How about if I send you 3 others at this time? I’m kind of busy getting ready to defend our country, to enlist in the National Guard, you know. Maybe you can wait until I return from fighting World War I on the European front? I might have some really good poetry for you then. Very graphic, you know.

Editor: Mr. Kilmer, that’s not all. This poem is but twelve lines.”

Mr. Kilmer: It speaks volumes. That’s poetry.

Editor: I’m sorry, sir, but please do get back to us when you have more to show, and possibly longer poems in your collection.

Or possibly the dialogue with Ms.Charlotte Bronte would have been like this?

Editor: Ms. Bronte, your poem “Parting” is really very evocative. However, we would like to see additional samples of your writing. Besides, we’re much more interested in prose fiction these days.

Ms.Charlotte: Dearest editor, as an artist I must be true to my “voice.”

Editor: My dear Ms. Bronte, let me be blunt. Literary tastes are changing. The
marketplace simply does not support poetry any longer. And may I continue?

Ms. Charlotte: By all means.

Editor: (clears his throat): Besides, for a female writer, Ms. Bronte, I would suggest you look into literary prose.

Ms. Charlotte: Dearest editor, it’s so easy to be anonymous on the internet these days. Perhaps I can just create a male moniker and nobody will ever know that I and my sisters are of the delicate gender!

Charlotte Bronte went on to write her great and enduring novel, Jane Eyre. She and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote, under false appellation, the volume of poetry, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, published in London in 1846 by Aylott and Jones, which included the poem “Parting” but which sold only two copies.

trees_joycekilmer

Joyce Kilmer went on to write his enduring and beloved poem “Trees,” first published by the magazine “Poetry” in August 1913, subsequently published in his literary collection “Trees and Other Poems” before he enlisted and fought in World War I, when he died France, shot through the brain while he was out scouting for tactical information, in 1918.

kilmerhomemahweh

To all the great poets, and to all the rest of the pack.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in business decisions, poetry | 2 Comments

Poetry Submissions: What Would Joyce Kilmer Say?

submittableI’m sure many of you poets have all encountered this email text:

“It is difficult to make a judgement about a poet’s work based on one poem. Therefore, I am asking you if you could, to send, say, 6 – 8 more poems by return e-mail? We would then have a better idea, and we can then see whether or not we can go forward.”

I’m imagining a dialogue like this:

Joyce: I would like to submit my poem, “Trees.”

Editor: Dear Mr. Kilmer, while we enjoyed reading this one poem, it is difficult to make a judgement about a poet’s work based on one poem.”

Joyce: It’s a darn good poem. It has staying power.”

Editor: Yes, but we would don’t know whether or not we can go forward with promoting you as a poet with just this one sample.

Joyce: Dearest editor, I wouldn’t call it a “sample.” It’s a poem. It’s inspirational. Universal and timeless. It will resonate with the entire English-speaking world. How about if I send you 3 others at this time? I’m kind of busy getting ready to defend our country, to enlist in the National Guard, you know. Maybe you can wait until I return from fighting World War I on the European front? I might have some really good poetry for you then. Very graphic, you know.

Editor: Mr. Kilmer, this poem is but twelve lines.”

Mr. Kilmer: It speaks volumes.

Editor: I’m sorry, sir, but please do get back to us when you have more and possibly longer poetry in your collection.

Or possibly the dialogue with Ms.Charlotte Bronte would have been like this?

Editor: Ms. Bronte, your poem “Parting” is really very evocative. However, we would like to see additional samples of your writing. Besides, we’re much more interested in prose fiction these days.

Ms.Charlotte: Dearest editor, as an artist I must be true to my “voice.”

Editor: My dear Ms. Bronte, let me be blunt. Literary tastes are changing. The
marketplace simply does not support poetry any longer. Besides, for a female writer, I would suggest you look into literary prose.

Ms. Charlotte: Dearest editor, it’s so easy to be anonymous on the internet these days. Perhaps I can just create a male moniker and nobody will ever know that I and my sisters are of the delicate gender!

Charlotte Bronte went on to write her great and enduring novel, Jane Eyre. She and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote, under false appellation, the volume of poetry, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, published in London in 1846 by Aylott and Jones, which sold only two copies.

trees_joycekilmer

Joyce Kilmer went on to write his enduring and beloved poem “Trees,” first published by the magazine “Poetry” in August 1913, subsequently published in his literary collection “Trees and Other Poems” before he enlisted and fought in World War I, when he died  France, shot through the brain while he was out scouting for tactical information, in 1918.

 

Save

Save

Save

Posted in business decisions, death, nature, poetry, women | Leave a comment

Smorgasbord Health – The Dynamics of Change – Our Mental Being

For all readers! (You’re not too young for this!) From our blogger of bloggers, Sally Cronin.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

dsc_1737In the previous post I looked at the voluntary and involuntary changes to our body during our lifetime and where we can influence those changes for better health and longevity. This time it is our mental being that is the focus.

In this post I am taking a look at the enforced hardware changes in the brain that affect us all. Also the voluntary choices we make during that process that also impact software function, particularly when we do not upgrade certain programmes.

All of us as we get into our 60s notice physical changes that are obvious when we look in the mirror and also when we exert ourselves physically. We are also aware of changes to the facility with which our major organs deal with their own aging process and the effects of a lifetime of dietary and lifestyle choices, imposed or voluntarily applied.

In all my discussions…

View original post 1,639 more words

Posted in dementia, food, health | Leave a comment

Bye Bye Business!

balloons
It’s been a great run, really.

But two weeks ago I realized it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to my business that I’d been running since 1995.

I’ve passed by many storefronts that have closed up, only to be opened again occupied by a different business. Then that one closes. I’ve read in the paper about businesses with hundreds, even thousands, of employees being laid off, let go. What becomes of these people? My favorite jewelry store where I always had my necklaces and earrings repaired is going out of business; tomorrow is their very last day.

This time it was mine and I was the one on the inside, calling the shots. I’d been watching my orders steadily decline for a while, while still feeling responsible to be accountable and available if any new orders came in, no matter where I was physically. Now clearly the business, and my life, went past the balance point. There was nobody to send out pink slips to because I didn’t have any employees. So that pain I didn’t have to endure or inflict. But it was painful for me none the less.

When business dries up, if we have a home-based business we can hang on a little longer when business slows down because we are not paying rent to a landlord or wages, salaries, health insurance to employees, and so on. But still there may be one day when you realize that carrying an infrastructure – telephone, fax line, internet, websites, amount of time cleaning out spam from my email, URLs, having to change my phone message every time I’m away for a day or two – all adds up. It adds up in terms of money, time and the amount of thought that occupies your brain.

In my case, my brain’s space is becoming more and more valuable real estate as I age (and as I deal with my aging-even-more mother).

The computer software business has changed, as the method of delivery changes. School software budgets have mirrored city and state budgets, and with each dot.com bust or Wall Street financial crisis, schools have been less and less willing to purchase software vying, instead, to find online learning materials. We cannot go backward. We cannot go back.

So one day about a month ago I decided to take those first steps. I prepared an email announcement for each customer who had ordered multiple times, saving them all in my “Draft” folder and then when I’d written every email, sent them out, one night, one by one. Within a half an hour, the deed was done.

That evening I gave myself some downtime and watched football.

A few days later I began taking down all my files of customers, scores of binders with scores of customers’ records. One by one I went through and discarded shipping air-bills and other information, putting credit card info in a separate pile to shred, leaving only the names of customers and what they had licensed. This took days. The 3-ring binders went into a bag for recycling. There were hundreds and hundreds of these individual records and each one was like saying goodbye to a baby that I had nurtured. Each one evoked a memory, and represented hundreds of students who had learned English and improved their writing through my software application.

It was so bizarre. I never realized how far and wide my software had an influence. Canada, New Zealand, UK, Singapore, Chile, Algiers, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, Qatar, the UAE, even Malaysia. I wanted to REACH OUT! and say hello, thank you, and goodbye just one more time. No. That would be a bad idea.

Soon the papers alone were tucked into expandable manila folders, just in case I ever need to look at them, and a shelf in my closet was cleared out where I placed these folders, out of sight. No, I didn’t trash them. I’m hanging on just a little longer, I realize. I have a fantasy that these schools are going to call and ask for one last upgrade, one last license. I’m kidding myself.

It’s starting to hurt, but it’s also starting to feel better.

Along with clearing out these files, and others, I’m making room for something else.

But what?

Some writing, perhaps? Another book? More film reviews? Building up my blog?

Next comes the telephone number. I was resisting this one for a while. It would be the final blow. I removed the phone number from my website. I have had such a great little number for my business. Then my husband and I get a great idea. Our home telephone number really sucks. It’s impossible to remember and there’s no really clear pattern. My husband loves the idea of switching the business number to our home landline. Verizon says it’s possible! Thank you Verizon for allowing me to hold on just a little longer.

Still I dawdle.

Yesterday morning I sat at my desk and waited, and waited, for a message.

The message arrived. It was: “You’re hanging on! You’re not letting go! This software business of yours is the past, not the present or the future.”

Quickly I phoned Verizon – bushwacking through their horrendous menu – and made the switch. It occurred so quickly that I was still on the phone with the technician when the business phone switched off; within another 10 minutes the home landline number went dead. I phoned my old business number and our landline rang. Prominently displayed on the caller ID was already, the cute easy-to-remember and easy-to-say new/old number. Glad it happened so quickly or I would have had time to think twice about what I was doing!

I’m in awe of the process of endings and new beginnings. I’m in awe of what it takes to say goodbye to the old and to say hello to something new. I know how many people – hoarders, people in dysfunctional relationships – struggle with this. Or succumb to the fear of the unknown and the new.

Today lots of books about editing and writing (and a few other subject matters) sit on my shelves, where my CD disks, mailers and info about suppliers used to be. The shelf is nice and neat.

And I love our new telephone number.

*****

Save

Save

Save

Posted in business decisions, capitalism, film reviews, health, life, people, publishing | 5 Comments