Tag Archive | "everything’s coming up"

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Lincoln and the fruits of compromise

Posted on 06 December 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



I’m a sucker for movies with high emotional tension that dig into the human condition.

(I cry at parades, too.) And freedom lover that am, I’d be happy to see the movie Lincoln as a prerequisite for breathing in the United States.

Oh, how we have been conditioned to hate politics, and all the machinations, corruptions, hypocrisies and hatreds it engenders. But amidst the muck of all those negatives, we often lose sight of the gleaming glories that finally emerge as highminded, moral achievements. It takes years, decades, a century even, to be able to stand back and look at how some of our legislation became landmark triumphs. We owe so much to the diligence of historians who are able to dig through what, to the layman, can be intensely boring archives to come up with the lost lessons of our past. And how we apply any of that to the present is always a conundrum.

The movie progresses from the background of wartime killing fields to the passionate idealism of a president determined to achieve the goal of human equality as he swims with that passion in a sea of politics that make our current impending fiscal cliff look more like a bump in the road. The pandering, finagling, pretending, arm-twisting, pleading and lying to obtain enough votes to pass the constitutional amendment that freed the slaves are a metaphor for the gross messiness of democracy. And in the end, it comes down to that old philosophical cliché “Does the end justify the means?” and its disturbingly ambivalent evasion, “It depends.”

In this case, only the hardened racist is likely to want to undo that amendment, despite the shenanigans that brought it to fruition. “Shenanigans,” I might add, that might have eluded the historically-challenged, who are unfamiliar with that drama. If ever one needs to apply a magnifying glass to the elements of that “compromise,” that it is now. And given the timing of the distribution of this film, viewing our current (and probably eternal) crisis within its context might be helpful for anyone trying to figure out an answer to Washington’s intransigence. Having read of the many ways that legislation has become law in the past, one can envision an antcolony of activity currently going on in Washington – with people of all stripes offering and withholding bags full of goodies to produce an acceptable (compromised?) balance between revenue and expenditures.

David Brooks, (New York Times, Nov. 23) argues that “politics is noble because it involves personal compromise for the public good.” It’s hard to imagine the personal and emotional toll on Lincoln, having chosen between prolonging the final peace, thereby costing many lives, and achieving the end of slavery. In a way, he was blessed by not having lived long enough beyond that victory to suffer perpetual remorse over those lost lives. If one hadn’t been connected to a fallen soldier, he or she would surely argue that the greater good prevailed.

Much as we citizens revere transparency, it is probably for the better that we are not privy to many of the behind-the scenes skullduggery that produce final legislation that basically makes no one totally happy, but everyone somewhat relieved.

And oh, by the way, see the movie for Daniel Day Lewis’ acting tour de force and for seamless directing from that reliable perfectionist, Steven Spielberg.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: One more time: The nag is here

Posted on 31 October 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen




Obfuscate = confuse, bewilder, stupefy, obscure. Don’t let that happen to you!

Five more days to Election Day.

Hopefully, you have already mailed your absentee ballot, having had much time to study it carefully, and to have sought out clarification on all the amendments. It has long been traditional for Florida Constitutional amendments to be written in such language as to force voters into cognitive gymnastics, in an attempt to figure out if YES really means what they intend it to mean, and to even know what they intend it to mean.

No matter how much people are urged to study ballots before they go into the booth, there will be many who will have looked at their ballots for the first time in that booth, and, in an attempt to answer all the questions, will, only then, begin to read the amendments. In case you haven’t seen one yet, it’s very long and wordy.

Absentee ballots give you the leisure to fill them out on your terms in the privacy and convenience of your own home. But if you’re like several of my friends, you experience a kind of prideful thrill at direct contact with the voting booth, so take advantage of early voting, which has already begun, and will continue until the end of the day on Saturday Nov. 3. It’s a great time to talk to your neighbors.

For all the voting information you may need, including places for early voting, (Broward) 954-357-7050 or www.browardsoe.org, or (Palm Beach ) 561-276-1226 or www. pbcelections.org.

A source of information regarding the meaning of the amendments is the Florida League of Women Voters hotline, 1-855-358-6837, www.bereadytovote.org; (Spanish) www.VamosA Votar.org, which has already received over 1,500 calls, most from voters frustrated by all 11 of them.

Some of those calls have taken as long as an hour, as a League representative has patiently answered questions and provided the requested information. Many people have called the League, apologizing for what they perceive as their own “stupidity” because the true intent of the amendment is obfuscated within a barrage of legalese.

Folks! You are NOT stupid if the amendments make little sense to you. They were designed that way. And alas, it is your responsibility to check them out before voting – and to seek advice from people you respect.

In a recent memo, Florida League President Diedre Macnab urged, “If you don’t understand the amendments, don’t skip them, reject them. Defeating incomprehensible, misnamed, intentionally confusing proposals will send a message to the legislators.”

If you’ve got something to say to legislators – this is one significant way to do that. Also, don’t minimize the effect of letters and phone calls. Your legislators care deeply about what you think, and most often, act accordingly.

Dull as it often it, politics affects lives. Get your ballot counted!

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Marriage musings

Posted on 03 October 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



When a long-time young friend called me recently to announce that her 24-year marriage is over, I started to think (again) about marriage. I often think about marriage in the abstract. It is perhaps the most enduring social institution we have, and seems to exist in all cultures and since as long ago as Adam and Eve, who incidentally, probably never had “the (commitment) papers.”

And yet, statistics are showing that marriage is waning. A Google search on marriage discloses some amazing statistics on who is more likely to be divorced and at what point in the marriage. It’s no secret that we are stretching over the 50-50 mark for such enduring liaisons.

I have just celebrated 58 years in a state of matrimony. And without divulging any of the personal details, suffice it to say, it’s been good and not-so, which is probably a metaphor for all that life offers. And we’re still hangin’ in!

People experiencing what they call “love” in its earliest stages “are the luckiest people in the world,” to usurp a wellknown lyric. All the juices are flowing; the heart, indeed, pitter-patters, there is a measurably high happiness scale and the pure physicality of the emotion produces endorphins that heighten one’s sense of well-being. The condition has often been described as akin to taking an opiate. Folks who are living in that state of euphoria – and it can happen at any age cannot conceive of its ever ending or changing.

The truth is that the feeling does not last forever and lucky that it doesn’t, because it affects even the brain and one’s ability to focus. And thus, the good Lord giveth and taketh. Eventually, those affected by “the love bug” marry, cohabit or move on, as reality closes in on them. Married reality is laundry, bills, kids, exhaustion, in-laws, disagreements about watching football, whose turn it is to cook or babysit, being too often too tired for sex, the acceptance that one of you loves mountains and the other loves a penthouse in the city. And finally, the chance that one of you is more needy than the other, a condition that can be cementing or entrapping. And despite all the print dedicated to “25 ways to spark up your marriage,” for many, it becomes the “same old, same old” and most anything looks better than that.

And so it is that many people are ready to bale at the first glitch in their dream-bubble. Their expectations, although often reasonable, are, in actuality, not realistic and they, therefore, become disappointed, hurt, angry, enraged and so on down the line of toxic emotions, instead of learning to readjust their expectations.

We all see people in many states of coupling and uncoupling: married, or merely living together, or being together only at intervals, or commuting to be together, or living alone and loving it, or living alone and hating it, or contemplating one or a combination of the above. It is obvious that one size does not fit all. The world is in seismic transition in all areas of human commerce and I do wonder what marriage will look like in 2054 – my 100th anniversary.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Florida traffic lights and then some

Posted on 02 August 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



I’ve been to almost every state in this country … drove a car in most of them, stopped at red lights as required. But in the past almost 20 years, since living full-time in Florida, I have whiled away what seems like the equivalent of my entire adolescence waiting for lights to turn green.

What? You too?

You can’t win with Florida traffic lights. You just have to plan your day to include so much extra time, depending on how far you’re going, for waiting until the left lane, the right lane and all the turning lanes have had it. And then, when it finally turns green, have you noticed, that you can barely make the street crossover before – whoops – RED again. And of course, if you are the fifth car behind the front-runner, you’re stuck for another three minutes. (Yes, I’ve timed it – and go add up all those three “minuteses” over 20 years and counting.)

I’ve learned that when you can’t change a bad situation, you have two choices: get out of the situation or make it userfriendly. Okay, since I’m not about to stop driving, how to find the user-friendly approach?

First – what not to do: Definitely, no texting. Three minutes may seem like an eternity at a traffic stop, but it’s a snippet when you’re engaged in serious text-talk. (Actually, I don’t text, but I feel obligated to address those of you who do.) And that goes for voice talk too, unless you have bluetooth, which is like having a talking passenger in the car. And that often leads to real distraction and missed turns or exits and, in my experience, has taken me far, far out of my way. And then, I have to deal with the cost of gas.

You do, however, have time to redo your lipstick at long traffic lights, or, if you are a male, you could get in a quick shave of your left check with your portable shaver that you have placed handily in the arm rest compartment. And needless to say, you will save the right cheek for the next red light.

You could count the Lamborghinis parked next to you. Really? Or you might be an avid listener to books on tape. This is my solution, and I often pray for red lights so that I can hear more of my book. User-friendly, right? Talk radio, or music, are obvious options.

Think about just thinking. This is my latest favorite activity, and many of us do not even know all the possibilities that exist in that area. Forget that you’re late for your doctor appointment. He won’t take you on time anyway. Think positive thoughts – you’re at the beach, on a mountain top, strolling on the Champs Elysee, window shopping on the Ponte Vecchio, staring deep into the Grand Canyon or riding the donkey on the Angel trail, straddling the crevices in Cappadocia, undulating on a camel in the Sahara, eating a hot dog at Coney Island. That’s the kind of “tripping” that’ll get you to your destination without a frazzle and all finetuned and stress free.

Leave the road rage to the guy with the finger. Learn to treat heavy traffic and red lights as your friendly dispenser of peace and calm. And, let me know if this works for you. If it does, I’ll try it too.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: I have to clean my desk

Posted on 05 July 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



People who really know me laugh when I say, and believe me, I say it often, “I have to clean my desk.” They’ve been hearing that for years – nay – decades. The thing of it is … I HAVE cleaned my desk. But, unless I do it on an hourly basis, it runs away from me.

In most respects, I am a person with a stable personality, very few hang-ups, fairly even-tempered and extremely good at multitasking. But – about my desk, I am, if you’ll pardon the redundancy, a dysfunctional basket case, with a serious condition, that admittedly seeps into other parts of my life, called “fear of throwing things away,” or in psychobabble talk, “Disposophobia.”

The surface of my built-in desk runs the length of my office room. It is about 20 ft. long by about 30 in. deep and faces a window. Nice, huh? If you close your eyes and picture it naked, that is, empty, clean, devoid of any surface paraphernalia, you can imagine yourself lying on it, head to toe with perhaps two other people, uncomfortably hard as that might be. Sometimes, I do that – imagine it naked, that is, and I yearn to take my arm, crook it at the elbow, and swish it clean.

But of course, I dare not. It is bulging with the usual office requisites, fax machine, in-box, (OMG – currently about 8 in. high) computer, telephone, two small calculators, copier printer- scanner-all-in-one, boom box with assorted CDs (and, I tell you ashamedly, a container holding myriad cassettes – remember them?), five filled-to-the-brim file holders, three pencil-pen holders (I collect [steal?] pens) and books, books, books. Underneath all of this are eight built-in huge drawers of files and 10 smaller drawers of “junk,” over which, attached to the walls on either side of the window, are six huge cabinets with more books and 2-and 3-in. loose leaf binders, one for every year since 1985 containing my writings. If they interviewed me for C-Span, it would take hours to explain. (you know, it’s cathartic to catalogue this. I never did it before – but, now I’m wondering, why would you care? Forget it, I’m on a roll!)

If you’re too young to remember the Collyer brothers of Manhattan, you might want to Google them just for the fun of it. I just did. They were discovered dead in their Harlem apartment, in 1947, asphyxiated, sort of, by the more than 100 TONS of assorted junk they had accumulated over many years. I felt good reading about them because, honestly, I don’t come anywhere near them in that department, although, at the rate I am going …

So, I was going to “clean it up” today. Yes, today was the day. And, instead, look what I am doing. And, soon, it will be time to prepare dinner, write a book review, return about eight telephone calls I’d been accruing – and … maybe tomorrow. Ya think?

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Posted on 06 June 2012 by LeslieM

I have a friend who holds her troubles close to her heart. Foolishly, I’ve tried amateur “shrinkage” with her, pointing out how much worse off so-and-so is, to which she replies, “Her troubles don’t make mine hurt any less.” I respond with a weak, “Yes, but…” and hold my tongue. I know I cannot get into the depths of anyone else’s heart. And I respect and acknowledge her genuine hurt and certainly listen to her litany of miseries without judgment.

But I am here to tell you that, for me, there is nothing but gratitude when I know that so-and-so faces far worse challenges than do I.

My husband just emerged from a month of harrowing health problems, at one point, experiencing life-threatening complications. At each crisis in this saga, I found something to be grateful for. The care he received during his three-week stay in the ICU and subsequent stay in a room at West Boca Medical Center could not have been better. Each nurse went beyond the call of “duty” and treated him as the human being he is, rather than the patient in room number XXXX. I cannot rave enough about the quality of professional nursing care he received. And this, I must say, surprised the heck out of me, as I had anticipated a “rag doll” approach to his care. His doctors were (all 8 of them) responsive to my every question and telephone call. Again, a surprise, as I hear so many complaints about healthcare services and doctors in particular.

His eventual release to the rehab facility at Regents Park in Boca was also an unanticipated pleasant – as much as such an experience CAN be pleasant – surprise, as we encountered a staff – at every level of service – of helpful, smiling, cooperative people dedicated to making his stay as positive as possible.

This probably sounds like some kind of paid advertisement – but, it is really an expression of gratitude.

So many of us are quick to complain when we receive rotten service, but never bother to convey accolades when they are deserved.

And as my husband finally made his way around the rehab facility, first, as I pushed him in a wheelchair, and then on a walker, and as we observed so many of the residents in a state of semi-consciousness and helplessness with vacant stares and hopeless affect, we became acutely aware of what “worse” really is.

We may still have to endure “worse” at some future time, but for now, he anticipates coming home soon in a state of relative independence. A month out of our lives, with moments of panic, is little in the scheme of things when there is light at the end of that tunnel, light that many people do not have.

This is all about gratitude.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Civil discourse

Posted on 02 May 2012 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



I am the female half of a mixed marriage. It wasn’t always thus. My husband converted from the political party of our youthful courtship to “the other.” I have remained more or less in the fold – leaning toward independent.

I’ll be honest. This is not a particularly bonding situation. It has had two significant effects. One is good. One is not-so.

I’ll work backwards. In the “not-so” category, whenever he begins to spew “talking points” and arguments of personal destruction, I simply walk out of the room. However, when he is rational and honest and I hear the words coming from a sincere belief system, he opens my mind to thoughtful re-evaluation of my own long term DNA-held positions that I grant are more emotional than rational.

As a people, we desperately need to acknowledge that deeply-held, sincere convictions exist on both sides of every issue.

And aside from motivations of greed, political advantage, power plays and extreme hubris, it is a healthy environment that encourages civil dissent and the articulation of

reasons behind positions that are divergent.

Trouble is most people come to politics from places other than thought and study and true understanding of issues. They/we are influenced first by parental upbringing, then by community of peers and, then, by a combination of personal experiences, influential mentors, intensive readings and the media.

Wouldn’t you love to hear an intelligent debate by candidates on the role of government in society – including where and why there should be limitations, logical and without rancor?

And wouldn’t you love to hear an intelligent debate – without name calling and attributions of ill will – on the subject of healthcare, including how to balance the limit of expenditures with the needs of an ever long-living society?

And how about a quiet and thoughtful two-way discussion on immigration policy, balancing the practical societal problems presented by illegal entry, the obstacles to legitimate citizenship and the demand by industry for low-wage workers?

And, although it is commonly acknowledged that the U.S. is way down on the ladder of well-educated citizens, those required to meet the needs of a global economy, we have not

yet acted on the many proposals to bring us up to par. And how do we secure an ever-collapsing infrastructure?

I truly believe that, with passions set aside, there will be more theoretical agreements than anyone can now envision. Where, other than in highbrow think tank circles, are these issues, and other significant ones, brought to the average “Joe” and “Josie” in independent nonpartisan venues?

This “rant” is a plea for balance, open mindedness and acknowledgement of some merit to the position of “the other.” We know that, in the months to come, we will be bombarded (tortured?) with attack ads from both sides. We know that they will include exaggerations, words taken out of context, some downright deliberate distortions of facts and, no doubt, a good percentage of fear mongering. Both sides will be equally responsible for distribution of divisive material. While we’re waiting – let’s just listen – to the other side.

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