Much has been written in recent years about the negative aspects of shame. We are taught how to heal from shame, how to eliminate self-shaming messages, how to avoid shaming others. But what is the value of shame and how can we rightfully call the behavior of people, including the leader of the United States, shameless?
Shame brings that uncomfortable feeling that I am bad. It isn’t a global belief that everything about me is bad. Rather, as a useful feeling, it says “I have failed to act in a way that is that of a good person and I am trying to be a good person.” It can alert us and allow us to do differently next time. Guilt, another useful feeling, says “I have done something bad.” It is easy to confuse the two, but guilt may arise without shame. Guilt can sometimes make excuses that shame doesn’t allow.
What of a man when confronted with accusations of rape replies, “She isn’t my type.” as the U.S. leader just did? We inwardly recoil at hearing that, and I think it is because we recognize a total lack of shame. Similarly when we hear of children locked in cages we feel the shame that many of our leaders fail to feel. I like to think I live in a compassionate society. I don’t like the feeling of knowing I live in a society where this atrocity is taking place. I feel ashamed. Grievously, that feeling is not shared by the people who could change the situation.
So let’s admit that it is the total lack of shame from the U.S. leaders that sickens us. And that lack suggests there is no end to the behavior they condone. Shame can be a gift when used for good. Let’s pause the next time we feel it and see if it brings helpful information before we disregard it.
I never saw this particular Abbot and Costello scene, but the two of them were favorites of mine as a child. At any rate, I found this image the perfect accompaniment to my occasional post about people who blog and then stop without warning. I tend to leave their names on my “followed” list for a year and then sadly delete them. I wonder what happened to them.
I realize that people start a blog for many different reasons. I don’t follow those that are for commercial purposes, either run by a company or those that ask for monetary contributions. I also avoid ones that are basically diaries posted on line that resemble the kind of writing I did as a teenager–much angst and turmoil. Angst and turmoil are fine topics for blogs, just not for ones I follow. I am thinking instead of thoughtful musings, whether on one topic or on many topics that are posted on a fairly regular basis. I often find those from the comments left on other peoples’ posts and take a look at the commentator.
While I didn’t start a blog for any set reason, I soon discovered that I write with the intention of interacting with other writers and artists. I have connected with wonderful English speaking people all over the world, much to my surprise and delight. I comment on their writings and they on mine. The give and take is life enriching and I always feel buoyed after I catch up each day with new posts. So it is especially sad when people stop without any notice and disappear back into the ether. They probably never thought of their writing being missed, but it is.
I promise to not be one more disappearing blogger. If I quit, I will do it with a parting word.
Here recently a scheme to buy kids’ ways into college by falsifying applications, hiring actors to take the SAT tests and faking disabilities to get extra time for tests, has been exposed. Thousands of students are trying to get into a small number of colleges and their parents are doing what they can to make it happen.
Times have changed dramatically since the mid-1960’s when I applied to college. At that time we were allowed three applications. We were to have one school we knew we could get into, one we hoped to get into and one that had as much chance of accepting us as us winning the lottery. Today students can use a common application and are applying to twenty schools at a time. Before xerox machines and computers such a process was impossible. Each letter of recommendation had to be hand typed, as did each separate application. It made sense to limit us to three.
There were no SAT tutoring classes, no books on how to pass the tests, no hysteria from parents making sure we had a good breakfast before we went. We sharpened a bunch of #2 pencils and showed up. Weeks later we got the score with no indication of where we had missed the mark in our answers. We didn’t retake the test. We didn’t mourn that our lives had come to an end. We applied to the three colleges we were allowed. We always got into one, just as our counselors had suggested. Sometimes we got into two and had to decide. Once in a blue moon we got into all three. Then, of course, we had to go to the one where we had had no chance of admission. Many of my classmates at Harvard were, like me, sure they had been admitted by mistake!
It’s too bad I didn’t go to Oberlin where I expected to go. It had smaller classes, many more public school graduates and much more attentive professors. But I had won the lottery and I accepted my “fate.”
*(1962 song by the Sensations for those of you too young to start singing along)
I have always loved popcorn. When I was little, my mother made it in a heavy saucepan. After heating up some oil, she would drop two kernels in. After they popped, the oil was hot enough to add more kernels, put on the lid and begin shaking the pan back and forth to pop but not burn the corn. Then they invented Jiffy Pop and my brother and I were old enough to use it by ourselves. We held the pan over the burner and shook it back and forth until the package expanded to reveal a foil wrapped bowl of popped corn.
As a young mother I bought an air corn popper which shot the popped corn out into a bowl and beyond! This proved an endless amusement to my young daughter and her friends and supplied lots of pop corn for very little money. Some years later I fell victim to the newly available microwave popcorn bags. These little bags went straight into the microwave where they proceeded to pop into a large serving of flavored popcorn. I learned that not only were these toxic to the user but also were causing illness in the factory workers producing the product.
That left the movies as the only really convenient fail safe way to get popcorn. Of course the small box is only slightly less expensive than the huge box, so we had to get the huge box. A very expensive addition to already expensive movie tickets.
Then one lunch time I caught Rachel Ray demonstrating making popcorn in the microwave. Using just a brown paper lunch bag and 1/4 cup of popping kernels, she made a heaping bowl of fresh popcorn to be flavored afterward to her heart content. It didn’t even use oil. And it was inexpensive. And it worked.(I admit I thought it was not going to work!)
How is it done? In a small paper bag with the top rolled down or in a large bowl covered with a paper plate, microwave 1/4 cup kernels on high until the popping slows, about 1 minute 30 seconds in the bag or 1 minute 45 seconds in the bowl. Makes 6 cups.
Driving home the other night with our granddaughter we were entertained by her plans for her wedding proposal. She’s only 12, so this was more the result of seeing a Hallmark Movie with her other grandmother than of having a boy in mind. She was very definite stating “I don’t even want to hear the word wedding until I have been proposed to. And I don’t want to pick out my own ring!”
This was a natural time to share with her our engagement story. Charlie and I had been dating for a couple of years and were walking along the Willamette River. He said, quite calmly, “I would like to be married to you.” I replied, “I would like that too.” Then walking along for a while longer, having had a chance to ponder the off hand remark, I said, “Wait! That’s it? That was a marriage proposal?” He said, “Yes.” “No! No! No!,” I yelled. “You have to ask me formally. On one knee. And I want an engagement ring.” He was naturally shocked since I had shown no indication of being a romantic. I was rather startled myself.
So we walked back to my house, he knelt down, asked me to marry him and I said yes. Then we went together to a art gallery where we designed a simple gold and tiny sapphire engagement ring. I wore it another year later when he added a simple gold band as we were wed.
My granddaughter was not impressed!
Inspired by a writer from New Zealand who said years ago all soft drinks were called fizzy drinks, I remembered Fizzies. Fizzies were small flavored tablet that you dropped in a glass of water. Then you watched them fizz and turn the water the flavor’s color. I read about their history before I posted this and sure enough they were invented by a drug company which added flavor to Bromo-Seltzer. They used saccharine to make the drink sweet and had to change the formula when the effects of saccharine on mice were troubling.(I guess they never worried about the effect on kids of drinking this stuff!) My siblings and I really couldn’t stand the taste even though we really enjoyed watching the tablets dissolve.
The other novelty we insisted our mother buy for us was Flav-R-Straws. These paper straws had a core of either strawberry or chocolate powder. As you sipped your milk, it was flavored by the powder. The ad above amuses me as it promises to get children to drink more milk. I laugh because I have a very distinct memory of getting violently ill after two strawberry Flav-R-Straw glasses of milk. I swore off Flav-R-Straws for good and even avoided milk for quite a while. It turns out Flav-R-Straws also used saccharine.
We stuck with Kool-Aid, sweetened with the real stuff–sugar. Who could resist a tall glass of sweet red water?