Wednesday Assorted Links

1. What swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and getting away with it. Funny, but rest assured Briggs YMCA patrons, I do not condone swimming in one’s underwear. That’s the reason the swimming backpack has a second just in case suit and pair of underwear. More spontaneous peeps should adhere to a strict “forget your suit, forget the workout” life philosophy. (Thanks DB.)

2. Why shade is a mark of privilege in Los Angeles.  My conservative friends will say this is ridiculous. As someone far too experienced with skin cancer, I respectfully beg to differ.

“As the world warms, the issue of shade has drawn more attention from urban planners. The writer Sam Bloch, in an article in Places Journal this year that focused on Los Angeles, called shade ‘an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.'”

3. I learned to play the piano without a piano. Passion personified.

“I was 11 years old when I asked my mum for piano lessons, in 2010. We were in the fallout of the recession and she’d recently been made redundant. She said a polite ‘no’.

That didn’t deter me. I Googled the dimensions of a keyboard, drew the keys on to a piece of paper and stuck it on my desk. I would click notes on an online keyboard and “play” them back on my paper one – keeping the sound they made on the computer in my head. After a while I could hear the notes in my head while pressing the keys on the paper. I spent six months playing scales and chord sequences without touching a real piano. Once my mum saw it wasn’t a fad, she borrowed some money from family and friends, and bought me 10 lessons.”

4. On writing about divorce when you’re still married.

“There’s my husband in the corner, who’s married to someone always wondering just how solid the ground beneath her feet is, and who always reassures her that it’s good. There’s my ring on my finger. There are all my friends, rising up from the ashes of their old marriages and seeking out new bodies to bond to. What is more romantic—more optimistic and life-affirming—than the fact that we know how all of this might end and still we continue to try?”

5. It’s that time of the year when you start wondering what to get your favorite blogger for Christmas.

 

I’m Thankful

  • For people, near and far, who make time for the humble blog.
  • For late November sunlight.
  • For my family’s and my health.
  • For friends near and far.
  • For my daughter inviting me to run the Oly Trot with her. Her first “organized” run. We ran conservatively for the first 3.5 and then did our best East African impersonations for the last .5.

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Another of Alberto Salazar’s Runners Says He Ridiculed Her Body for Years

Someone should write a book. Something like “The MeToo Perps’ Painfully Predictable Non-Apologies”. Possible subtitle, “Their Inability to Understand the Harm They’ve Caused”.

Chapter 53, Alberto Salazar.

“My foremost goal as a coach was to promote athletic performance in a manner that supported the good health and well-being of all my athletes. On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training. If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry.”

“On occasion, I may have. . .”

For shit’s sake, you either did or didn’t Alberto, so either don’t apologize or drop the tentative “may have” bullshit.

“. . . callous or insensitive. . . “

That doesn’t sound so bad. The most timid of adjectives given the allegations.  Why does the (alleged) perp get to label his behavior instead of the victims of the abuse?

IF any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made. . . “

Thus creating the suggestion that the problem is in their heads. In the initial draft his lawyers probably rewrote, I wouldn’t be surprised if he asked, “Why are they so damn sensitive?”

“. . . hurt by any comments I made”

The classically vague, non-apology apology. Salazar can’t bring himself to acknowledge anything specific that did cause significant pain. Again then, why say anything at all?

He wraps up his non-apology this way:

“I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.”

The ultimate power play, the abuser defining what constitutes abuse.

After a close reading of his words, it’s obvious that Salazar is more defiant than remorseful. Sadly, he has lots of company.

Such A Happy Ending

Even better than your fave romantic comedy.

The coolest things about being a famous blogger are annoying your friends with tongue-in-check hyperbole, having readers from lots of other countries, and having people tell you they enjoyed a particular post.

But the coolest may be what happened after I posted “Looking for Love—Introducing The Romantic Love Score” four years ago.

I ended that post this way.

“My friend’s RL score? Currently hovering in the high teens, but she’s committed to changing that. Hope I get invited to the wedding.”

The friend, actually a former student, the one who inspired the post, really took it to heart.* She made lots of changes to her life, some I assisted her with, like what used car to buy, and she committed to updating me on the results every six months. I awaited each update with great anticipation.

Then she went silent. For a year. Last I had heard she was dating someone she liked a lot, but I did not know what to make of the delay. Turns out, she was busy falling deeply in love. And planning her wedding.

Here’s part of what she just wrote:

“The wedding was held in my hometown Lutheran church. We kept the wedding invite list very short. To be honest, we felt uncomfortable asking people to travel to PA knowing that it was a significant cost (in more ways than one) with limited time with the person(s) you are celebrating. We had about 50 people in attendance and it was perfect for us.”

Typically considerate of her, but I sure would’ve loved being there, but maybe it was best I wasn’t since the two pics she included in her recent message nearly brought me to tears.

Her crediting my post and subsequent encouragement with helping her make more friends and meeting her husband moved me.

If you know someone like my friend pictured below, full of life, but wanting to share it with someone special, consider forwarding the aforementioned link to them. The more weddings, the better my daughter’s photog business.

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*Ironically, I never had my “former student” in a single class. We met while making S’mores one night at a First Year student retreat. We hit it off and she ditched her small group for mine. Following the retreat, we talked off and on during her remaining three and half undergraduate years. She gets the credit for staying in sporadic touch since then via email.

 

 

Kind Of A Waste

Sometimes I come across really talented writers who write about things of limited significance. I can’t help but imagine what they might accomplish if they traded up subject matter.

Case in point. Zach Lowe, ESPN Senior basketball writer. Dig his description of Denver Nugget Center Nikola Jokic‘s early season play.

“He is pouting more even by his mopey standards: waving his arms in frustration at inaccurate passes, and slapping opponents to stop play after what he considers bad calls.

We haven’t even addressed defense. Jokic has never exactly been agile, but he makes up for it to some degree with canny positioning, quick meat-hook hands, and voracious rebounding. Awkward appearances aside, the Nuggets have always been stingier with Jokic on the floor.

They still are, per NBA.com. But Jokic is barely moving. He paws at bodies as they fly around him, like a toddler reaching for bubbles.”

. . . even by his mopey standards–funny stuff

. . . like a toddler reaching for bubbles–even more funny

Imagine if Lowe wrote about national politics. He could probably do the seemingly impossible, find some humor in our downward spiral. And thereby earn the nation’s gratitude.

“I Could Probably Go On”

The first year writing seminar is just past mid-semester. And somehow, despite the professor they were assigned, my first year writers have GOT IT. In place of the typical first year writer’s repeated use of the word “things” and other vague words and phrases, their third papers were peppered with specific details. That switch is almost universally positive. The exception? When they’re detailing their inner lives, like this student of mine, who gave me permission to share this with you.

“I can give a list of the things that are currently making me anxious in this moment: the anatomy test that I should be studying for (I got a 60% on it), if I’m going to pass my classes this semester, what classes I’m going to take next semester, if my friends really like me or just put up with me, the weight that I’m going to gain from the binge that I just had, if this essay is going to be any good, if I even want to go into nursing, what am I going to do with my life once I get out of college. I could probably go on but that was a long sentence as it is.”

My students seem fine on the surface, but as they get honest with themselves and me, I’m learning many are suffering in silence. Their willingness to share their stories with me is humbling.

All that I know to do is to assure them their feelings matter, a lot of their peers feel similarly, and I’m glad they’re in my seminar. Also, I encourage them to take advantage of the counseling available to them.

I don’t know if that’s enough.

Paragraph To Ponder

“Today the teacher who digresses is frowned upon; everything in a lesson is supposed to move toward a specific measurable goal. Teachers are supposed to announce the objective at the start of the lesson, remind students of the objective throughout the lesson, and demonstrate attainment of the objective at the end. Such a utilitarian view of education has a long history, but in recent years it has overtaken education discourse. It can be attributed to the introduction of business language and models into education, and the resultant streamlining of language. Schools and industries have become less concerned with the possible meanings of words, their allusions and nuances, than with buzzwords that proclaim to funders and inspectors that the approved things are being done—goal setting, ‘targeted’ professional development, identification of ‘best practices,’ and so forth. Thus we lose the means to question and criticize the narrow conceptions of success that have so much power in our lives.”

Diana Senechal, Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, 2012.