Monday, June 29, 2009

When I'm 94?

In a few months I will be ninety-four years of age. No wonder I have been thinking about how long I want to live.

Thoughts like that sneak up on you. When I "retired" from my career (I have had three more careers since then), it felt like playing tennis with the net down. For the first time in my life there were no expectations of me. No one could fire me, flunk me or flay me. But now that I am in the nineties, there isn't even a net. What's different now is that all previous decades had a purpose and a destination. The twenties were for completing education (Master Degree), starting a career, falling in love and getting married. .

The thirties were for raising children and getting ahead in work. The forties and fifties were the time to consolidate gains and accomplishments, as well as to find new purposes so that the years ahead would not grow stale. The sixties were for final spurts and then winding down and wrapping up a career.

More Later, Joe

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Change and the Feminine Mystique

Change, we are told (correctly) is inevitable, and essential within our culture. No surprise then that even femininity has changed, for women have become more like men (I am simply observing, that's what writers do). Women today are more assertive, more competitive with men (often out-performing them); many women speak the coarse language that was once a male prerogative. Women are as frank about sex as men. Have you read Cosmopolitan Magazine the past decade? More women than men write about orgasms. Away, women have scored! Baking cookies and making jam as a stay-at-home mom is no longer the role model. Why? Blame or bless the Women's Rights Movement. Gaining victory in the work place -- women now out number men in some of the once traditional male occupations --augmented by the disciplined effort that scratched out a greater equality with men in managing the household; campaigning for and winning political office on a wide, and almost to the level of Presidential, scale; and workouts in the gym for vigorous muscle-building and martial arts exercise.

Change is rarely instantaneous. It is most often slow. It is the early women's rights marchers, in their seemingly sedate, long dresses who rebelliously took to the streets, that led the way to bigger demonstrations and more yelling, by contemporaries marching in shorts and sometimes foul-sloganed t-shirts, bringing women out of the anonymity and subjugation that marred the lives of many millions to do more than simply fill the shoes of men. Through the work they choose, votes they cast, leadership they provide, and children they still raise up, women have also fashioned new shoes to march in with pride.

Change is good but one thing will never change. Some people will always prefer vanilla, others chocolate.

More Later, Joe

(For those who may not know, the Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Frieden in 1963 after a questionnaire she sent to her classmates from Smith College, class of '42, revealed a lack of fulfillment in the lives of women which was generally kept hidden. )

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yacht Clubs and The Dip

I was struck by "change" at a party I attended recently. The setting was a Yacht Club, the hosts a couple in their mid- twenties celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. Apart from the parents and assorted relatives, the other guests, also, were young. The crowd seemed to be performing a pantomime, for the shrieking noises of the band and the tumult of voices trying to rise above the racket of the music was undecipherable.

I thought back to my senior college prom in1937, dancing to the lilt of a Strauss waltz and the witty melodies of Cole Porter. A dance often ended with "the dip", where the man bends backward and draws his date into a graceful embrace. A "dip" today means a potato chip scooping up a glob of guacamole. But last Saturday the youngsters were having a marvelous time. In fact, they were more alive and animated than the girls were at my prom. I’m sure I could have found a 1930's version of the Yacht Club scene at many clubs the night of my prom, but that was not the norm as it is today. Few among us in the 1930's ever saw a Yacht Club, let alone a party in one, except in a Hollywood movie.

More later, Joe

P.S. If my yacht club reference has you wondering where I'm at, it's Salem, Massachusetts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Tyranny of Petty Things

In my day one wage earner could support a family; civility was the expectation; most people had a healthy touch of narcissism that made them want to look attractive. The bobby-soxer is now quaint but the girls in their plaid skirts, cardigan sweaters and saddle shoes were cute. Owning a securely financed home was the rule. T-shirts and sweatshirts were attire for the backyard. Schools taught well, educating the boys and girls who became the Greatest Generation. We never fully appreciate the good times, because for most of us the tyranny of petty things -- grocery shopping, going to the hardware store for a faucet washer, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, taking the car in for the annual inspection, going to the bakery and the bank -- distract us. That’s why we have retrospect.

More Later,


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll

So, lets all clap for upward change in the current global mess. Don't worry. I was born more than a decade prior to the Great Depression, and spent my childhood in the nation's recovery from it. Times were different then, as different as they are now from what had been the status quo. Nevertheless, I lived the major part of my life through times that were good. Good times will return. They always do.

More Later,


Friday, June 19, 2009

Changing Times

"Change" is the mantra of the day and change means making a difference. But "difference" is an insipid word for the cataclysmic changes that, from decade to decade and from generation to generation, have altered the way we think and behave. No aspect of life in this country -- our speech, our dress, our manners, music, literature, dancing, our expectations, the foods we eat, the concoctions that make us drunk, the modes of travel -- have been immune. Rip Van Winkle was small time. We’re in first place in the big leagues of change.

More Later,


Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Kid on the Blog

No matter the circumstances into which we were born, no matter the personal Mt. Everests we conquered, the wealth and the resulting pleasures we acquired, or the poverty we endured, the honors we gained or the hurtful snubs at the end we are all moralists. In our final hours we understand that the worth of our lives is measured by the personal relationships we had -- as child, student, worker, friend, as son, daughter, brother, sister father, mother, grandparent. In those final hours we realize that our personal universe was small, and whether we did well or poorly, we wish we had another chance so that we could do better.

I feel it to be one of the triumphs in my life that I came to appreciate this before my final hours. I am a few months shy of age ninety-four. By the way, my name is Joseph L. Taylor. I use the "L" to differentiate myself somewhat from the tens of thousands of "Taylors" (such temerity! -- I have seniority rights to that name) in the world, although I would have to add "Junior and "III" to make a full distinction. Another "by the way" -- I am a published writer of personal essays, short stories and poetry, but you will not find my work in your library. My publications were in the Op-Ed and Sunday Magazine pages of newspapers in Philadelphia and in the literary journal "The Compass." But I expect a book of mine that is now in the editing stage to turn up in libraries. More of that later.