| Everything’s Coming Up Rosen

Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Character and morality

Posted on 02 August 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I have stuff on my mind and gotta say it – respectfully. I’ve been writing for this paper for, I guess, more than 10 years. I am a politics freak and have been asked not to write about politics. I have complied, even as I have often had to tie my hands behind my back before sitting down at my computer to write a piece of fluff.

I write this, not as a democrat or a republican, but as an American who cares above all, about character, morality, integrity, civility, compassion and respect for belief systems that differ from mine. I believe strongly that I can learn from people who don’t agree with me and I am, therefore, open to listening, with respect, to other points of view. I see this as an admirable quality passed on from parent to child and from the people we choose as leaders expressed by them, not with words, but with behaviors.

I have witnessed in my long life leaders on both sides of the political spectrum whose position as national role models have fallen way short of ideal, whose influence on national consciousness and character have given a subliminal pass to those who give credence to the mantra “I believe it is okay to do whatever I can get away with, regardless of consequences to others, or its inherent immorality, as long as it enhances my quality of life.”

And I have witnessed enough people who wanted a better quality of life for themselves, who wanted all the fantastical life improvements that were promised to them. They voted for the whole package.

The person who now has claim to the White House has indeed expressed with words and behaviors – very openly, and unapologetically, that very mantra. I will give him the benefit of what I do not know about him, that perhaps he has extended many kindnesses to people with whom “quid pro quo” was not the ruling motive. But what is open to the public is a cesspool of actions and relationships based on his philosophy of life…“what’s in it for me.”

Have I missed it? Is he on record showing some quality of inherent goodness or kindness that hasn’t been predicated on this principle?

Granted, goodness and kindness may be wimpy characteristics, and not ones we consciously seek in a leader. But the blatant and complete absence of them trumps whatever strengths are demonstrated when we evaluate what has come to be known as our national character. And folks, I really worry about our national character.

Our country was built by people of strong character and principles that extended beyond the me-me-me image reflected every time our president opens his mouth or thumbs a tweet. Do we want the persona he presents to be a role model for our kids and future generations?

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: What is the truth?

Posted on 06 July 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

On its surface, “truthfulness” seems like an open and shut case; but, in many instances, it’s too “open.” There are some scientific facts that are — so far — undeniably true. Until further notice, the earth IS round. And, yes, you either appeared at the XYZ train station at 10 a.m. last Tuesday or you didn’t. These kinds of truths seem non-negotiable.

But there are truths subject to a nuanced “interpretation,” which raises the question … Did you really intend to say that horrible thing about me? Yes, I can prove you said it — that is the truth, even after you tell me that you didn’t mean it. But the fact that you said it is a truth.

Escalating this to another level … There are too many legitimate “your truths” and “my truths.” I see this as being particularly in play as I teach my memoir writing class – and note how memory can distort events.

Mother: “My (now) 40-year-old son played hooky half of his high school senior year.”

Son: “Mom! That’s not true. I was studying in the library all that time.”

This hot issue of TRUTH can be really wiggly, but certainly needs to have some parameters where two parties can agree when irrefutable facts can be shown to exist. This is as important in a free society as healthcare, infrastructure, immigration issues, global warming and the rest. We may need a Secretary of Truth to — oops, wait a minute — sounds kind of like what our Judicial System takes on in instances of significance. And then it becomes matters of “opinion.” But, opinion does not equate to truth.

So, even as I ponder the smoldering discrepancies regarding “ truth” that seem to be tearing our country apart, and, in recognition of this symbolic week, I am tossed back two plus centuries with these famous words ringing in my ears : “We hold these truths to be self evident…” from our venerated Declaration of Independence.

Even these original truths considered to be “self evident” have evolved: “All men are created equal…” This includes both men and women, as well as people of all races and sexual preferences, a “truth” which somehow eluded our founding fathers … “and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Again, the years have expanded the meaning of each of those three entities to the point where they have been dissected and analyzed, and debated, in a sense diminishing their power as agents of “truth,” as in “What is life? When does it begin? Does it include the ‘right’ to healthcare? Does ‘Liberty’ include the right to be secure in the color of your skin? Does the pursuit of ‘Happiness’ include allowing corruption and assorted other anti-social behaviors in the name of that pursuit?”

Even “self evident” truth comes to a dead end as it becomes nitpicked and, in the end, “intent” is thought to be one of the best signifiers of truth and, there again, we can all think of many contrary angles to that. So, we will forever have “your” truth and “my” truth and “the” truth.

And here’s one of the truths we have come to revere: “Truth will set you free.” (Unless it lands you in jail).

I hope you had a good July 4th holiday – and that IS the truth.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Random thoughts

Posted on 01 June 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I try to impress upon my writing class the importance of focus.

You must have a theme, a point of view, a message you want to convey,” I tell them.

For emphasis, I ask that they be able to verbally express in one or two sentences the premise of the writing. And so, with that acknowledgement, I want to thank some literary precedents for what I am about to do. There are times in one’s life when there is a necessity to set upon paper a “stream of consciousness” — random thoughts that have been a-haunting, thoughts that seemingly have no connection to each other, but that spring from an uninhibited authority that needs to punch itself out of the box.

Here’s how it goes, and welcome to today’s creepy innards of my secret brain — without attention to rules, sentence structure, consistency of tense or pronouns, or point of view, just as messy and random as thoughts tend to be:

Isn’t it interesting how people never stop learning … How once that diploma is in our hands, it means that the learning is actually about to commence, how we learn so much more out of school than within its confines, about new ideas, new ways of thinking, about how I had evaluated the character of a certain person and, then, how I have changed my mind about that person, and actually, how I thought about myself and find so many aspects of me that have changed? And — wow! How good it is to be flexible, to be able to change my mind, but on the other hand, does that make me unreliable? Is changing one’s mind a flaw or an asset? And are other people static in their character, or am I only shown what they want me to see, until some kind of crisis occurs and I am able to recognize more than what appears on the surface of their character?

And getting back to me – there I was semi-content about not riding my bike daily, as I had been doing all of my adult life, feeling insecure in my new setting after the move, interesting how people choose their activities. Not for me “working out” — gym classes, Pilates, Yoga, Body Balancing, Tai Chi, fitness machines, massages, — just give me two working feet for walking, a pool would be nice to do my exercises at my own pace and a bike, but then I didn’t have the bike because my 26 in. wheeler made me feel insecure as I got older, as people around me began to fall, increasing the coffers of the orthopedic community; and then, last week, my friend Maddy told me about the new bike she was about to order — choose any wheel size … any wheel size? Hmmm … maybe a smaller wheel will give me more confidence, and I did it and – OMG – what a difference. After three years, I am rolling again on 16 in. wheels. Life is good, isn’t it? Interesting how people never stop learning, especially about themselves — never thought I’d ride a bike again.

Conclusion? I am over my word limit. It’s Memorial Day and random thoughts about its meaning sneak into my brain. It is surely a concrete subject for another essay – just not for today.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Live to be 100?

Posted on 04 May 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

OK, I promise … this is my last column of comment on my age. I’ve got to get beyond the miracle of having lived 90 years and acknowledge that, having made it this far, I would kind of like to go the distance another 10 years while remaining in the shape that I’m in. There is sooooo much in this world that is in seismic upheaval, and, by golly, I’d really like to see how it turns out. Yes, I guess I am greedy.

Those driverless cars, for instance, are coming, and I want to be in one that drives itself—what a long way from the old non-air-conditioned jalopy I grew up with! Then, there’s the 3-D printer and its effect on every aspect of our economy, which doubtless will emerge strong in the next 10 years. And what a turn from the old mimeograph machines that left ink on my hands as I turned out class assignments in the 50s.

I want to live to see a slow-down in the results of climate change – and ways that cheaper and cleaner energy will give the planet a chance for good to conquer evil.

And OMG—I just this minute received a text that told me about a new device the size of a tissue box that can harvest drinkable water from thin air.

All this coming in the next 10 years? So, speaking of texts – let’s go back to the innovations during the past 10 years as in Smartphones, Apps, You Tube, GPS, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, selfies, Alexa, Google, Uber, Airbnb. And I’ll bet you could add another full page of lists of changes within the past decade that I didn’t mention. Oh, what a difference 10 years can make. And we haven’t even touched on politics and the sad escalation of lack of civility.

But, see how one can so easily become diverted. I had planned, in this column, to answer the question everyone has asked me: “What’s your secret – of 90 years still on your feet?” And my answer, alas, will be of little help to anyone. It is simply: just plain good luck, as well as the fact that I don’t much like the taste of booze or coffee, or tobacco – and that spinach, broccoli, kale, and just plain water, have far more palate appeal for me. I consider that “luck.”

That, aided perhaps by a few pieces of wisdom gathered throughout the years: I have learned to distinguish between reasonable and realistic expectations, and have trained myself to go for the realistic ones. And, for its universal appeal that covers the main ingredients of a healthy life, I go for the serenity prayer despite that I am not especially prayerful: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

Live to 100 — in good condition? Hmmmmm.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: The tree – and my very big birthday

Posted on 05 April 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

My realtor’s car pulled into the parking space designated No. 606 and we both emerged from the vehicle, I – staring into the lipstick red blooming bougainvillea tree, demarking the end space in that section of the lot – immediately fell in love … with the tree. I didn’t need to see the apartment. I wanted to live near that tree. And to add to such largess, its twin sister stood straight and tall only feet from the front door.

With a short cursory look around, “I’ll take it” were the very words my realtor had hoped to hear. Within weeks, my precious “stuff” slinked easily into 1450 sq. ft., after having been surrounded [by additional stuff] and overstuffed into 3500 sq. ft., and I felt like twinkle toes.

That was almost three years ago; and, alas, the parking lot tree has since lost its bloom, its branches dry as a cadaver, standing sentinel over my parking space (which I never use since I have a garage). Every time I looked at it, I felt like crying. Every time guests parked there, I wanted to engage them in a hugging ceremony with me. Dead as the proverbial doornail, it might have been in a Vermont forest in mid January.

I mourned my tree for months, ambivalent about its presence. How long do you keep a dead body in full view? The sun burst on it, the clouds rained on it, but there it stood, motionless, bare and desolate.

And today, as I hauled my garbage to the dumpster abutting the space – OMG! — my tree was gone, a mere stump of it still snug in the earth. I stared at the emptiness and I heard my Ibis chirping nearby. I watched the mother duck-in-residence waddling in front of her babes on the parking lot. The scene was funereal.

Then, I had an out-of-body experience. Some other me – not the one I thought I knew — walked around among the various flowers and bushes in the community with a pan and a clipper and a trowel. I collected a variety of colorful flowers into the pan, pulled out a stool from my garage (I have an old cranky back that doesn’t take well to bending.) dragged my water hose to the spot, doused the earth around the stump, and proceeded to plant flowers around it. And, boy, did that make me feel good!

And here’s the thing. I wanted to write a thoughtful, insightful, philosophical piece about reaching my 90th birthday this month. I wanted to list everything I learned about life, to dispense my wisdom and advice, to pontificate on “my secrets” of longevity and to extoll with infinite gratitude the randomness of just plain good luck. But, instead, I wrote about my dead tree, and the joyousness of living flowers in its place.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: My annual rant

Posted on 02 March 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I am a positive person, actually an optimist. I am not a complainer. If the soup isn’t hot enough, I don’t send it back; I slurp it anyway. If the gardener allows the branches from my trees to bend over onto the walkway, I take a pair of clippers and prune away. If the cashier at the dollar store checked out one dollar too many, I tend not to go back for my dollar. Two dollars? Maybe! If “they” predict rain on my beach day, I go anyway, knowing how wrong “they” can be. And when friends lie prostrate on the floor kicking and screaming about the election, I bring them a drink of water and a cold wash cloth and say, “Give it a chance.”

But here are two irritations that just won’t go away – and I AM complaining this time. Both have to do with noise. My hearing has recently been checked, and, for a tottering senior, it functions remarkably well. So I get seriously agitated with loud noises that interfere with my ability to hold a conversation.

The first culprit is the leaf blower. This may seem like paranoia, but I am certain that the Leaf Blowers Union has a schedule of my activities, and that the most persistent of them is assigned to me on a daily basis. My location doesn’t matter as long as it has a tree with falling leaves. Having a philosophical chat, or engaging in titillating gossip on anyone’s back-yard patio or even the most prestigious hotel grounds in any state, province or outlying other-world country, inevitably signals the arrival of “the leaf blower” followed closely, on my part, by a series of non-modulated “what”s?

The above is what I call an active transgression. The noise abatement issue that is more treacherously passive occurs in restaurants all over the world at the most popular hangouts. Of course, if you are European or South American and you are accustomed to dining more towards the midnight hour, you might not feel the stinging resentment of paying outrageous prices per person to scream at your companions or to play the ping pong game of “what, what and what?” By that hour, when your choice of entree has already been ingested to the max with no remaining pickings, the crowd has thinned, the service help anticipates release, you can get away with whispering conversations.

But for those of us who prefer to dine at the socially acceptable hours between 7 and 8 p.m. any day of the week — forgetaboutit!

Dismissing the probability that you have already waited beyond 10 minutes for your reserved table, once you are seated and anticipating a pleasant catch-up conversation with your companions, you will be wishing for a megaphone and/or hearing aids — that work.

But, I was warned early on that life is not fair. In a desperate appeal to higher educators, I offer to support any noise abatement program on your campus that can come up with what should be a simple solution, given that men have gone to the moon, and automobiles are now running without drivers.

So until someone takes me up on my offer, you will find me in the aisles of Publix, where shopping is indeed a quiet pleasure, purchasing ingredients for healthy meals at home – often with friends – and on track for becoming the hostess of the year.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Love again in February

Posted on 02 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

How many ways are there to talk about love without being repetitious? That has been my annual challenge for over a decade. So my angle this year is condemnation of the very loving intent of the sacred Golden Rule — “Treat people the way you’d like them to treat you,” which is the modern interpretation as posed by GRO (www.thegoldenrule.net). Actually, if we follow that directive blindly, we are committing an act, in some instances, of extreme selfishness.

Wait wait wait! Before you throw me into the pyre, hear me out.

Certainly, there is the desire to be treated with respect, but the word treat in this context covers a plethora of peopled interactions, some of which are multi-layered. Example: A boyfriend presents his long-time “main squeeze” with a huge bunch of flowers for a romantic occasion. She had spoken to him of her allergies to flowers, but he wasn’t exactly into listening. In this instance, he was treating her with the love and kindness he would have wanted reciprocally, perhaps in a more gender-appropriate offering. It was received with feigned appreciation and the recognition that he hadn’t heard her.

What she had really wanted from him was to have been heard. Sure, she could then have told him the truth and, this time, be heard; and she may well have done so, but there’s that little nuance of wanting to be treated (listened to) the first time around.

Being heard is really a metaphor for being known. People in close relationships want to be known by the important people in their lives, as in, “Hey! This is the real me – the me I want to be loved for – not the me you love because you have fantasized some combined ideal of me and who you want me to be.” This, of course, is taking the flower tale to an extreme, but there are so many similar situations where people with good intentions treat others without any emotional input into how that other person really wants to be treated.

Quick story: My sister and I had a bachelorette apartment in Manhattan eons ago. We shared laundry chores. I’d fold hers and place the items neatly in her drawer. She’d flatten mine on top of the dresser. I fumed every time I had to fold and place my items in my drawer. One day, I found her taking her items out of her drawer, and she turned to me, saying, “I hate the way you fold my stuff, and I hate how you put them away for me.”

We laughed. We straightened it out. Neither of us had “done unto” the other the way each of us wanted to be “done unto.” We loved each other, but we had gone our own separate ways for so many years that it took time for us to really get to know each other again.

The word love is bandied about carelessly and sometimes meaninglessly. To really love someone is to know the essence, the soul, the inner workings of that person; to know and to accept all that, and to make it a part of who you are.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Bye Bye 2016

Posted on 29 December 2016 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

Twenty sixteen – departed and gone

A year that was quite a phe-nom-en-on

Dominated almost entirely by Trump

His rallies, his tweets, his life on the stump

Sanders and Hillary left to examine

The reasons they bore an “Electoral” famine.

But way back in Jan. we were warned of great harm

When Korea detonated its hydrogen bomb

Alas, the unthinkable happened in Flint

With poison in water that wasn’t mere lint

The death of Scalia you may still recall

Caused McConnell to render an epic-long stall

There won’t be a Justice replaced on the bench”

A decision he made that was deeply entrenched

Blacks feeling threatened at home by the cops

In Dallas cops killed – it just never stops

In Brussels and Paris and Istanbul, Nice,

Munich, Berlin –What happened to “peace ?”

In England they voted to “Brexit” E.U.

The planet’s unsettled – as changes accrue

But – the Cubs won the Series – after waiting so long

Then elections took place – so many, so wrong!

Was it Comey, the emails, or working white men?

Hillary lost – millions seek Zen.

Castro’s demise caused some celebrations

Congressional forecast: “lotsa in-ves-ti-gations”

December’s the month that was chock full of news

Much of it fake – a trend – causing the blues

Transition appointments – the top of Trump’s list

Perry- in charge of the place that he “dissed”

Hacking by Russians to skewer the election?

Trump opts for nukes for greater “protection.”

But the market is climbing – to peak at its top

Who can predict its inevitable drop?

Conflict of in-ter-est questions arise

In ’17 – it’s certain – we’re in for surprise!

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Good will towards man

Posted on 01 December 2016 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

Peace on earth. Good will towards man,” is probably the most favorite saying spoken or quoted during the Christmas holiday season. Even, it is said, the most liberal secularists who reject Biblical Christianity love to use this phrase and claim it as their own.

The “peace on earth” part, hopeful denial of reality that it is, is an eternal prayer that has yet to be answered. Certainly it is an aspirational “good,” and, though it may remain unanswered in all of our lifetimes, there is no more worthy goal for humankind despite that as individuals, it is a condition beyond our control.

So I have concerned myself with that which is within our control as individuals: “Good will towards man.”

Has there ever been a time when “good will towards man” is as far from the ‘collective consciousness’ as it is today? Well, probably historically, there has been, but I want to stay with the now. The residual “spill” from our recent past national trauma lingers in all the wrong places — in the hearts of those stuck in a mindset of righteousness, in people who sneer at the concept of being non-judgmental in a world filled with human beings who are more than one dimensional.

Many of us have difficulty with the concept that another person can have a belief system in total opposition to our own, with equal sincerity and purity of heart, and that such a person can indeed perform acts of kindness and can make positive contributions to their community.

This is what makes “good will towards man”such a challenge.

I am aware of how this past election cycle has torn families and friendships apart, and has caused serious rifts in some marital relationships. And, despite the innate wisdom of the mantra “Let’s agree to disagree,” the issues and circumstances for many of us were so deep-gutted as to have been symbolic of the very core of our beings. And disagreements along political lines can be perceived as rejections of who we are in the “I am what I believe” modality.

Somehow, we can more easily disagree about sports teams, movies, books, art, taste in clothes or home furnishings, or even, in the abstract philosophy than we can about politics, without impugning the basic character of another person.

So, in this relatively short–lived seasonal spread of overt loving and good cheer, I am “putting out” the hope that we can extend good will to the folks who voted whichever other way from your vote, that they did. And a reminder: This doesn’t make them bad people.

So, ho, ho, ho — it’s time for some levity. Here’s to a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah and whatever else you celebrate this month, and here’s to some serious “good will towards man.”

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Month(s) of thanks

Posted on 03 November 2016 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

It’s almost over, folks. While the turkeys are skittering around looking for hiding places, we know that soon — very soon — phase one of our 21st Century “long national nightmare” will be over. Thank you, God, for that. But no matter how the election turns out, our many wounds will take time and attitude adjustments, before effective healing can take place or certainly before any of the promises of national salvation can even begin to come to fruition. It will be a time for serious auxiliary leadership to emerge with a plan to bring us together.

And for all the jabs we’ve sustained and the dire attributions of the diminished power of the United States on the world scene, we can still lay claim to our “greatness.” Thankful we can be, every day, that we are not living in any of the many war ravaged countries that can no longer sustain its people. Thankful we can be, every day, that our constitution guarantees that we can witness a regime change without bloodshed (we hope). Thankful we can be, as we stare at that half empty glass, yet we are able to see its half fullness. And thankful we can be for anyone and anything that can still make us laugh – no matter what.

And thankful indeed we can be for our sense of touch when offered by a friend or loved one to soothe a painful body or heart; for water still running and available at the turn of a faucet (we are praying for you, Flint); for the sight of a wild sunflower, a palm tree, an orange grove, a full moon and our Florida sun (when it is not hiding) and its sometimes frothing, sometimes calm, but still always there, ocean; and for mountains and summits beyond Florida and sources of transportation to get to all the “beyond.” Thankful we can be for a schoolyard of screaming kids and for loving grandparents still trying to learn to text; for old photographs borne of film (what’s that?) that remind us of the good old days; and for our freedom to respond with a polite ”no, thanks” as needed. Thankful we can be for the good people who show up to help during disasters and the good people who just show up; for the people devoted to all the “cures” of body, mind and soul; the sounds of music in private places and acoustical buildings, and in outdoor venues soaring into the airways, and lifting our spirits, that in some cases, inspire our dancing feet; for poetry, good and bad; for storytellers and painters with words, and brushes, and on stages; for people who run things and make things, and repair things, and imagine new things, and offer new ideas … and for people who protect us and our things, and for the lives of people no longer here, but whose legacy make our own lives meaningful. Grateful we are, too, for the mistakes we’ve made from which we have learned many a valuable lesson, and for the freedom to make more of them without having to live in fear; for the off-button on remote controls; and for broccoli, kale, smoothies and chocolate. And, we are oh so grateful for humility, forgiveness, choice and hope.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Add your own gratitudes and keep them in mind all year.

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