This is from “The Abortion War” episode we did in 2012; looks like it’s making the rounds on Tumblr today.
Here’s the whole episode (it’s public on YouTube, feel free to share):
Looking through featured posts in different tags on Tumblr, and spotted Zeina Awad in a screenshot post from a 2012 episode of Fault Lines on “The Abortion War” making its way around today. Glad I work with this team again - the content has a long lifespan, and that makes thinking about online narrative for the program interesting.
You can see the elegance of the programming or the lack of it—code that is larded with extra steps. —
“Printing Makes Stuff Easier to Read,” Ellen Ullman, WIRED, April 16, 2013.
I’m trying to write something at the moment, and the code is definitely larded.
What My Grandfather Taught Me About Life
Every year in recent memory, my grandfather has more insistently asked me the same question: Are you happy? And his question is about happiness in its truest sense - wanting to know if I have chosen to fill my life at that moment with joy. Because that, he explained by his actions and example, is a choice that we are offered every day.
His days have been quite full in recent years as he neared nonagenarian status, and I learned to time my calls between his T’ai Chi classes and favorite British television reruns. Last November, like always, he danced the role of the grandfather in The Nutcracker performances, growing out his beard for maximum authenticity on stage. “It’s scratchy,” he would say, wrinkling his nose and laughing. “You would fit right in in Brooklyn,” I told him.
He has always been performative. When I was seven, he stood on his head. I didn’t think he was particularly athletic and remember him almost knocking a picture off the wall in doing so, prompting my grandmother to call out,“Bill!” from the other room. We went in to answer her raised eyebrows together.
“Mary, our eldest granddaughter refused to smile, so I stood on my head,” he began. I looked up at him and just kept giggling, forgetting to press my lips together over a mortifying overbite that would soon see years of braces and retainers. Over my head, my grandparents exchanged a look of profound understanding that was one of their signature moves in a marriage that lasted fifty-six years, ending only with her death a few years ago. Turns out he had always been pretty good at headstands.
He extended his request to smile to my younger sisters over the years, and would regularly promise gymnastics if we didn’t exhibit sufficient cheer. In our annual holiday family videos he seems extremely capable of making good on those promises, with or without a guitar.
In the middle of last month my grandfather was wearing a tuxedo, and my parents were each holding one of his arms as they hoisted him up a steep hill. He gave a wave when he saw me, and did a little aerial jitterbug. “Incorrigible,” I said to myself, smiling.
Then I was awake, suddenly, and called his number. My mother picked up. “Hospice is here,” she said. “He’s having trouble breathing.”
What do you say to someone you love in the last conversation? I told him about the new job I had accepted, how I was about to go to Paris for the first time. I described the green vines that grow up the back of brownstones in my neighborhood and told him I was happy. Deliberately, and with effort, he said, “I love you –” and into the silence that followed I bit my lip and replied, “I love you, Grampa.”
Calling my mom back immediately, she stood in his room and drew in her breath, the way she does when she is handling a situation. “He mouthed ‘so much’ after he said ‘I love you,’ Kristen. He has a big smile on his face.” But I knew that already. We were stalling, and I had to ask her something important. “Mom, my flight is this afternoon. I can change the ticket.”
“Go,” she said and ended the call. I had her blessing and his goodbye. When I landed in Paris the next morning, I turned on my phone to texts from my sisters. He died while I was thousands of feet in the air.
I thought about my grandparents as I walked beautiful, unfamiliar streets in Paris and bought one-way tickets in quick succession to Oslo and Bilbao and Malaga. I thought of the small box lined with velvet containing five tiny perfumes that they gave me when they returned from Paris twenty years ago, after my grandmother won an all-expenses-paid trip for two weeks in a contest at their local grocery store. I had promised myself I would go to Paris someday, and then put it off for years, waiting to feel glamorous, prepared, ready.
My grandmother was a model when she was young, and grew up on a significant tract of land on the Maryland shore with a long dock as well as a house in Philadelphia, breaking off four engagements (including one to Grace Kelly’s brother) to finally marry my grandfather, who courted her all along. He told me once how her father wanted them to live in a little cottage he had built next the Big House on his property. They declined and instead roadtripped up to visit in the summers.
Growing up poor and one of nine children, my grandfather went to medical school at Penn in a hurry and then to the war, returning to start his own gastroenterology practice, known for calming people and making them smile. They moved to Atlanta to start in a new city together. When I think about the American Dream, however flawed and incomplete that concept may be, I think of my grandparents’ series of decisions that let them create a life they reveled in with each other.
Persuasive and elegant, my grandmother used her considerable skills to sell war bonds and clothing lines, greet everyone in St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church by name while wearing enormous hats, and to plan dinner parties for a core group of friends. The table was always set with glass vases full of flowers cut by my grandfather, who kept detailed records of his garden’s successes from year to year on lined paper and later, spreadsheet macros on his latest computer.
Conducting the memorial service last Thursday, their best friend Reverend Austin Ford (who married my parents) shared a story about my grandfather’s skirmish with flowering wisteria, as he willed the recalcitrant purple vines to grow in the backyard. His botanical nemesis, wisteria either decides to bloom or not, and holds to that decision. When he couldn’t charm the vines into growing, he just wrapped bought blooming branches around his stubborn ones, encouraging them to grow by example.
Rev. Ford held a bag on Thursday full of wisteria. They took many walks in each other’s gardens over the forty years of their friendship, and he suggested the vines had bloomed in his garden two months late this year in a final nod to my grandfather. We tossed the wisteria on the soil covering the urn lowered into the family plot.
Grampa grew lilies of the valley for my grandmother, pansies for my mother, and I suspect partly for me, always had a patch of the violas known as Johnny-Jump-Ups in a corner with partial shade. Purple and yellow, the little flowers are hardy; they grow from a main stem and seed themselves, coming back like champs year after year. Only recently I learned that tea brewed with their blossoms calms the digestive system and purifies the blood. Humble and persistent in rocky soil and suburban backyards, they will always remind me of my grandfather, who woke up every day and decided to be happy.
This post is also up on Medium.
(via dessert girl: Isabelle Chapuis Photography)
“How often do you feel close to people?” As many as 30 percent of Americans don’t feel close to people at a given time…
Natural selection favored people who needed people. Humans are vastly more social than most other mammals, even most primates, and to develop what neuroscientists call our social brain, we had to be good at cooperating. To raise our children, with their slow-maturing cerebral cortexes, we needed help from the tribe. To stoke the fires that cooked the meat that gave us the protein that sustained our calorically greedy gray matter, we had to organize night watches. But compared with our predators, we were small and weak. They came after us with swift strides. We ran in a comparative waddle.
So what would happen if one of us wandered off from her little band, or got kicked out of it because she’d slacked off or been caught stealing? She’d find herself alone on the savanna, a fine treat for a bunch of lions. She’d be exposed to attacks from marauders. If her nervous system went into overdrive at perceiving her isolation, well, that would have just sent her scurrying home. Cacioppo thinks we’re hardwired to find life unpleasant outside the safety of trusted friends and family, just as we’re pre-programmed to find certain foods disgusting.
via The Lethality of Loneliness
Jay is all about connecting people to people to improve health. It’s a great personal mission.
Independent learning suggests ideas such as “self-taught,” or “autodidact.” These imply that independence means working solo. But that’s just not how it happens. People don’t learn in isolation. When I talk about independent learners, I don’t mean people learning alone. I’m talking about learning that happens independent of schools.
Anyone who really wants to learn without school has to find other people to learn with and from. That’s the open secret of learning outside of school. It’s a social act. Learning is something we do together.
Independent learners are interdependent learners. —
Don’t Go Back to School – a must-read on how to fuel the internal engine of lifelong learning. (via explore-blog)
GO KIO GO! Read her book.
(Source: , via explore-blog)
Here’s the thing. It’s the cover from a 1979 post-punk album that’s really good.
And, how about we all share the wealth instead of shaming strangers who aren’t as great at being forty, morose, and pleased with their own makebelieve obscurity.
Start here, new guys. This is Joy Division, and they’re the best, and welcome to the tribe.
I love you, Merlin. This is what we call BUILDING a community.