Karen By Name, Not By Nature. 

Until recently, I had never given my name or its meaning any real thought, let alone how that name led people to perceive me. Now I find, that it is one of the first things I think about when giving my name to a stranger because my name is Karen.

A Karen, as defined by dictionary.com is a “pejorative slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors.” 

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Dark Before Dawn

They say it is always darkest just before the dawn, which I suppose is supposed to be a simple way of saying that things always seem bleakest just before they start to improve. The problem is, as it so often is with things they say, this analogy starts to fall apart upon closer inspection. Dawn, is a given in the equation of life, you can count on it happening, every day. You can even calculate when it will occur on any given day; past or present, the dawn will come. You may not be here to see it, but, with almost 100% certainty, a new day will come. 

Despite the platitudes offered by expressions such as this, and pretty much every film every aired on the Hallmark Channel, this level of certainty, is not something that can be easily extended to matters beyond natural phenomena, and fails rather epically when applied to life. No matter what they say, there is no way of knowing when the darkness of life will finally come to an end, or even if it will. 

We are living through dark times; I’ll spare you the list – nothing productive will come from my typing it or your reading it. In fact it might even make things worse. But the point is, things kind of stink right now, and it doesn’t really seem to show any signs of stopping, improving, or even just slowing, any time soon. If anything, sometimes it feels like it is just getting worse. I don’t know if that is because it is actually getting worse, or simply because we tend to see what we are looking for, but I am seriously rooting for the latter.

Mr. Rogers suggested we look to the helpers, we look toward those individuals making a difference and doing what they can to help others. It reminds us, that as humans, we still have the capacity for kindness. Even in the worst of times, we can choose to help, to reach out, to take action and make a difference. 

For some these actions may be heroic and even dangerous, but for the great majority of us, I suspect these actions will be far more prosaic. Simple things, like slowing down to let merging traffic into the lane, bringing in our neighbor’s garbage cans, or perhaps having a coffee with a friend who’s not doing so well. These simple acts of humanity won’t save a gunshot victim, or end famine, but they might just allow us to remember that there is light out there, and we can make it brighter. 

It’s Getting Hot in Here, a discussion of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

To say that I am late to the party is a bit of an understatement. Having been first published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale has been challenging readers, their assumptions and even their very understanding of the world we live in, for over thirty years. Add to this, the overwhelming success of the Hulu television series, several stage adaptations, and even a ballet, and it becomes increasingly difficult not to use the word phenomenon when discussing it. And yet, I was still in no hurry to read this book, not even when I started to see women dressed as handmaids with their distinctive red capes and white caps, because, quite frankly, I don’t like dystopian novels. The world is kind a mess, books are where I go to escape that mess, or to learn something that may help me fix my part of that mess. But the idea of spending my limited free time reading about a place as horrid as, and in most cases even worse than, the world we live in, ends up just being too much for me. As a result, I missed out on the frenzies that surrounded such dystopian books and movies as: The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent.

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Pouring From an Empty Cup

Once upon a time, when the world was still open and we were free to roam, those who traveled by air were always reminded during the preflight safety presentation that in the event of an emergency, one should put on their own oxygen mask before assisting others. Obviously, the logic is sound; we cannot assist anyone if we have lost consciousness ourselves. And yet, the very reason that they make this announcement on every commercial flight that takes off, every day, all over the world, is that for many of us, our instinct is to do exactly the opposite. This is especially true amongst members of helping professions such doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, and care givers, who often need to be reminded on a regular basis, to take care of themselves at all, not just first.

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Patience and Fortitude

An original short story by Karen Adams

She leaned a warm cheek on the cool stone, forgetting for the first time since she had arrived in the city all of the possible sources of filth she might be touching.

“So, are you Patience or Fortitude?” She asked.

But the stone lion made no attempt to answer her.

“You know, I’ve been dreaming about coming here since I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, when I was eight. I know that story doesn’t take place here,” she confessed to the lion, “but it was the first book I ever read that took place here, in New York City. And from that moment on I wanted to come here. Being 8 made it hard to get here, the closest I could come was choosing  to do my third-grade geography report on New York, New York. That was when I discovered you,” she placed a languid hand on the lion’s paw and tried to steady herself.

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Rebel in the Rye

The life of celebrated but reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, who gained worldwide fame with the publication of his novel, “The Catcher in the Rye”.

Internet Movie Database

For the better part of a month, I have been putting off writing this post, mostly because I did not know how to start it. But now that I have started it, even if poorly, it does not seem to be coming together any easier than before. This is because this post is concerning the film Rebel in the Rye, a biopic covering the career of J.D. Salinger, a charismatic and intensely private man, and as such anything about him has to be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one edge of the sword, there is the curiosity, that anyone who has read and connected with his words cannot help but having, about the man who created such intense and identifiable characters. However, on the other edge of the sword, is the knowledge that any story, film, or book pertaining to this man’s life goes against his expressed desire for privacy and to be left alone and is therefore not exactly a shining example of one’s admiration, nor appreciation for him.

Enter, Rebel in the Rye, a film in which I had such low expectations that I almost didn’t watch it, but which turned out to be so good that I watched it twice in order to share it with my family.

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The Center Will not Hold

How it is that I have lived this long and never encountered Joan Didion is a complete mystery to me, especially when one takes into account my keen interest during my teens and 20’s with the 1960’s. In fact, it was this interest in hippies, free speech, and civil rights, more than anything else, that lead me to apply to, and eventually attend, UC Berkeley. I left my sedate suburban neighborhood stary-eyed, in search of a moment that had long since passed, longing for the passion and determination of those now legendary students 30+ years before. However, when I arrived, I found only the ghost of that moment. Instead of protesting a war that was costing thousands of lives, or demanding social justice and equality for all Americans, the activism of the moment had simmered down to a naked guy parading around campus citing philosophical reasons for his nudity and a higher than average vehement vegans per capita than anywhere else on the planet.

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The Importance of Connection

As humans, our social connections are amongst some of the most important elements of our lives. How we connect and relate to others, both within our own social groups and society as a whole is vital to our mental health and well-being. Without some sort of sense of belonging, it can be difficult for even the most introverted of souls to function optimally. This is especially true during adolescence when we really start to develop and fine tune our own sense of self, and how that self fits into society as a whole. As such, our peer groups are generally believed to be more important at this age than at any other developmental stage in the human lifespan. This is because the people we surround ourselves with at this age can have the biggest impact on our decisions and ultimately who we shape ourselves into being. But in the midst of a global pandemic, such connections with peers have been extremely difficult for anyone whom adhered to the CDC’s recommendations for staying healthy during these times of plague.

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