GONE MAIL: DECIDING WHAT’S WORTH A READ

Keys are clean - not so for the tray that holds them - alas

Another morning and I am in deep conversation with my computer – my e-mail to be specific.  Before I finish my coffee I have invented new swear words to fling at those who’ve invaded my e-space with demands traveling under guise of information. And maybe I am just a crank leftover from the ‘70s – I am told crankiness is a condition to be expected after so many years of watching the world retreat from its ’70’s promise of peace, love and happiness. Below I present a small sample of the items that litter my e-mail inbox along with my running commentary on the barrage of cultural spam. (I’ll try to limit expletives for the sensitive but please know there are times when no other word will suffice).  gdf

 

FROM: LinkedIn Updates : 

 I retired almost 7 years ago and now I get tons of info regarding up and coming linked-in professionals (friends and former students) — my message to them:   save your money and retire early. If you can’t – then never, ever work at a job that saps your soul of all compassion. Better yet, never work at a job that you absolutely can not flip-off when they ask you to do the unthinkable. Fight devolution and ignorance — everyday!

FROM: info@twitter.com subject: “Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola,New Zealand win U.N. Council seats; Apple Pay Will Launch October 20″

 Good for Angola, New Zealand and Malaysia; Apple pay? — riiiight  – apple pays for nothing not even taxes. If you don’t believe me follow the link -> How to make $30 billion and pay no corporate income tax, the …  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/ 2013/05/20/how…

FROM: campaigns@dailykos.com subject: ” DEMOCRATIC DOOM 

Democrats are doomed because democrats don’t vote (Not enough anyway).

FROM: Republican catastrophe : Campaigns@dailykos.com

We can only hope

FROM:  messages-noreply@linkedin.com subject: “Congratulate Deborah S.  

           Another Compton alumnus done good… congrats Deborah

FROM:  info@dscc.org subject: “NOT asking for money: (sign this!)”

Don’t believe it! There’s a request in there somewhere – this is politics after all. And how about the dscc paying ME for my signature!?

FROM: battleground-update@dscc.org

A battleground? Tell me something I don’t know

FROMNOT asking for money: (sign this!)

You again!

FROMe-activist@aft.org subject: “Fighting Ebola” 

I find this frightening – (I read The Hot Zone twice) as our “congressional leaders” will turn this catastrophe into the old “blame game” blaming the president for everything – obfuscating the truth of lock-step disapproval of anything the African-American president suggests e.g. surgeon general candidates. Our president is not perfect but I cannot lay this at his doorstep. Texas – yeah! let’s blame Texas.

FROM: Candice Owley, AFT e-activist@aft.org

American Federation of Teachers? I’m a retired activist but I won’t open this because I know what you’ll tell me – vote. I will.

FROM: Fighting Ebola

Shopping in Ithaca, NY and the hand sanitizer dispenser is empty – I fight the urge to clean the shopping cart handle with my spit. Thought the lady in front of me was going to faint when I spoke my intentions out loud. Hey, if you can’t trust your own spit – what can you trust? (I did find sanitizer though – get a grip).

FROM:  mail@faithfulamerica.org subject: “Right-wing bishops attack Pope Francis “betrayal”

Ah – the faithful — as a very fallen-away Catholic I should not be surprised (but I am) that God has been politicized like everything else.

 FROM: Michael Sherrard, Faithful America

Not a week goes by that I don’t feel some sense of gratitude that my beloved, devout Catholic grandmother is not alive to witness the deterioration of her faith – in the unseen, nature, karma, cosmos, and above all the decency in the human spirit. Sorry Gram.

FROM: Rite Aid Online Store riteaid@email.riteaid.com

I’m sure I need meds but crankiness pills are labeled a schedule 2 – drug not to be purchased on-line – Damn!

FROMinfo@barackobama.com subject: “A tipping point” 

My dear Mr. President I danced at your election – both of them – and I think you want to do the right thing but I do believe the office of the president is controlled by the plutocrats and the military industrial complex – and they are bigger and stronger than you. I am so sad to have to say this. You are not a man to receive his machismo at the end of a weapon and yet you continue in the business of war. You are far too smart not to know the outcome. I wonder if there are times you regret the office. Is this job sapping you (by way of ugly concessions) of all compassion for the victims of war, poverty, and big business? I have reached my tipping point. I’ve been tipped so far into anger at the politics that force the hand of decency to pound the weak. Sign me: Disappointed Democrat

 FROM: WordPress.com News comment-reply@wordpress.com

I have a blog at wordpress and lately I’ve been getting a lot of spam – people telling me they can help me with my writing and enlarge my media influence – Riiiight. If one wants to feel like a fly on the cultural windshield just try blogging. And I pay for this too!

FROM: nomorerack.com

nomorerack.com – who are you and what makes you think I want to buy anything from you? I am retired – I can stay in P.J.s all day if I wish.

FROM:a new message from dccc@dccc.org subject: “Gwen we’re BEGGING” 

Right – you want me to chip in $25 dollars. I like the term “chip in” as if I can just open my wallet and pull out a couple of unwanted tens and a five. But, I won’t. Consider my actions just a by-product of being an educated & reasonable member of the electorate who compares facts before allowing the knee to jerk upwards causing brain damage due to constant concussion.   

FROM: members@dccc.oGwen we’re BEGGING

Still? Beg all you want but when you can provide more jobs for people with no money – maybe I’ll consider donating again. Not now.

FROM:  @coursera.org subject: ” – The Fiction of Relationship” 

I’ve signed up for this lit course just for the title “The Fiction of Relationship” — says so much on so many levels

 FROM: Revolt! 5 Biographies of American Upstarts, R…

R-e-v-o-l-t – six letters guaranteed to warm the necrotic edges of a 70’s cranky old heart

FROM: info@dscc.org subject: “Michelle Obama video: (add your name)” 

I add my name because I adore you Michelle – a real first-lady – Obama. I truly hope you are not too bitter once your family leaves the white house. But then again, you wouldn’t be bitter – real women don’t indulge in bitterness.

 FROM: Guy Cecil, DSCC info@dscc.org

Go away

FROM: dccc@dccc.org subject: “FW: All Hope is Lost”

Yes it is – more than you’ll ever know

 FROM: Daily Kos “Unreal: Rick Scott refuses to debate Charlie Crist 

It used to be just the cream rose to the top but lately every manner of excrement can rise to the level of “newsworthy” – shame.

 FROM: info@wendydavistexas.com subject: “Why you should give $5” 

Wendy, I love your spirit and your last name but the DSCC needs to put up, shut-up and fully fund you. My $5 is nothing compared to the BIG BUCKS your future colleagues in congress have – hit them up for money.

 FROM: Jo-Ann Fabrics “20% off Your Total Purchase In-Store & Online!”

You have the wrong woman here – it was my mother who was the family seamstress. I’ll forward this e-mail to her. “But Gwen, your mother is dead.”   Oh.  I’ll forward it anyway – Google can find her 

 FROM:policymic.com subject: “The Student Protests Barely Anyone Is Talking About”

Protests!?  About damn time!

 FROM: Walmart newsletters@walmart.com subject: Friendly prices.”

Oh don’t get me started! I have not stepped across the threshold of this store in 20 + years. I consider them ground-zero in our capitalism run amok. “friendly prices” indeed! You are the largest employer in the country TRY PAYING YOUR EMPLOYEES A LIVING WAGE – like you do with WM workers in Germany.

FROM: dccc@dccc.org subject: “STUNNING Comeback” 

Yeah! And all without my $25

 FROM:campaigns@dailykos.com  “Woo-hoo!! Supreme Court in state with key Senate race kills voter ID law”

Does this mean I can go down to the courthouse and find justice rather than “Just Us”?

FROM: RealAge by Sharecare health@realage-mail.com

Know my real age? I fell down a flight of stairs a month ago – quite frightening to know just how old I am. I’ve walked 50 miles since.

FROMHow much sleep is too much?

No such thing as too much sleep…

FROM:members@dccc.org  PLEADING

Stop – you’re embarrassing yourself

FROM:  dccc@dccc.org subject: “we. fell. short. (14820)”

In more ways than you’ll ever know. I am one of the three democrats living in this zip code —  P.S. the other two are related to me

FROM:message from moveon.org “VOTE: Corruption in 30 Seconds”

I’m not surprised. This is the wealthiest congress in the history of the republic. Candidates who don’t get rich UNTIL after they are elected – makes one wonder (not really) just how much a congressperson’s soul is worth.

FROM: Republican catastrophe  campaigns@dailykos.com

Like I said – we can only hope

FROM:e-activist@aft.org subject: “Fighting Ebola”, AFT

As if teachers don’t have enough to fight! Hmm…let’s see – administrators, ebola, administrators, ebola… – so many viruses so little time

The Myth of Fingerprints: You Are What You Read

I have just completed the short story, The Bus Ride by Sahar Sabati. It is a fairly straightforward narrative about a nurse who gets off work early and finds herself  (the assumption here is that the nurse is female) on a city bus sitting across from a disheveled and smelly man. The nurse eventually imagines an entire Law & Order-type scenario from which the ragged, dirty man is running. The narrator begins her speculation by way of good character description.

He was carrying two bags. One was a red postman’s bag slung over his shoulder, the other was a black heavy-duty garbage bag he was half carrying, half dragging behind him. He put them both on the ground, propped his feet on them and leaned back in his seat.

The reader is intrigued by what the man might be carrying in these bags. The narrator describes the look of this middle-aged man before entertaining a host of possibilities as to why he is looking and behaving as he does.

The man, unaware of my musings, took a long sip out of the bottle. It looked like plain, clean water—why did it stink so much?

Once again, my imagination started to wander. Maybe the man had gone down on luck, and had spent the night hunting for meat to feed his family. Maybe he worked as a sewage-cleaner during the night. Maybe his washing machine didn’t work, and when his clothes reached a state of utmost dinginess, he finally gave up and is now going to his mother’s house to use hers, which would explain his state and the smell emanating from the bag.

This is the innocent rationale offered before the narrator takes off in her own self-described flight of fancy after seeing the blood on the man’s hands – blood that contrasts greatly with the shiny gold ring on his finger.

Horrific visions of my mutilated body danced before my eyes.

The nurse gets off the bus one stop later chiding herself for letting her imagination take things too far.

I rang the bell and was getting up to leave when the man looked at me and winked. It startled me. I tentatively smiled back. When he smiled, I felt utterly ridiculous. A man with such a nice smile couldn’t be a murderer. I got off and told myself that the extra walk would serve me as a lesson.

This short story ends in  the fashion of  O’Henry albeit lacking in cleverness.  Having convinced herself of her foolishness, the narrator is shocked when she gets home and opens up the daily news paper.

Looking up at me was the man from the bus. Over his head was the title: “Man caught on tape killing wife and kids.” It seemed that I had been right, after all. I fearfully looked around. I had been right about the man’s past actions; had I guessed right about his future actions, including my possible demise? I hurried inside the house and closed the door firmly, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to sleep anytime soon.

Why does this story disturb me so? This story and follow-up questions was a homework assignment for my ten-year-old niece. Is our world not crazy enough that we need to continue to stoke the fear machine for simple reading pleasure? And is this what would make a young girl want to continue to investigate the beauty that can be created with words?  I think not. When I was twelve-years-old it was A.M. Rosenthal’s New York Time’s story of Kitty Genovese, the Kew Gardens nurse who was stabbed and left to die as 39 people watched and listened to her early morning hour screams, that scared me beyond reason. This story has since been updated with corrections as to the number of actual onlookers and the coming and goings of the perpetrator who did return to the scene to eventually silence (kill) Genovese. But, in 1964, my take-a-way was that a woman could be beaten and killed by any man and the first assumption is that, in spite of  the obvious physical assault,  the commotion is simply a domestic dispute. This was the beginning of a female-victimizing world for me.  A man had a right to beat his wife and no one has a right to “get involved.” That Kitty Genovese may have fared better had she simply screamed “FIRE!” rather than ‘I’ve been stabbed’ was not lost on my young mind. But again, I was 12 almost 13 years old. At 10, I had not been imprinted with the blood and guts of dismemberment.  At 10, I was fearing wicked stepmothers and loving the little girl going to live with her grandfather in the Alps.

Could there have been other stories for my nieces 5th grade educators to choose from that would not make her fear disheveled men who happen to carry bags? Also, are there stories available that would not make her fear the male gender in general? The subtext here is my niece should fear for her life in the presence of men who don’t look a certain way.  Yes, the world can be a vile and dangerous place for anyone. But I believe these are the lessons best taught by concerned parents who understand their child’s capacity to assimilate the contradictions inherent in human nature.

I suppose the story, The Bus Ride, has its place in the pantheon of homework assignments. But, for a ten-year-old girl whose father has completed numerous military tours in service to this country, this story should have no quarter. It is a cheap knock off of so-called television crime dramas that I can’t believe took more than two hours to write.