Monthly Archives: June 2018

After Math

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I know it’s been a while since I wrote.  Lots of thoughts in my head.  I needed to let them out on virtual paper, or my head would have exploded, metaphorically, of course.  The last day of school for students and staff was four days ago.  The news of the separation of children and their parents  at the borders, seem to have culminated last weekend and spilled out of control with such fierceness and intensity as the week progressed.

As it does, as every school year ends in June, I go through a feeling of intense worry and concern about many of the students I counsel throughout the year.  I worry about their safety and security and comfort as we break for the summer.  I worry if they are getting enough to eat and if they are safe in their neighborhoods and if they are going home to an empty, violent or non-existent house. So many of our students have come here from other places and all they want to do is learn.   In loco parentis…feeling and bearing the responsibility for children in my care during the school year.

I am the daughter of immigrant parents who came to this country as adolescents under the threat of harm by the Nazis.  They were bullied and targeted as they prepared to leave Germany with their families for safety.   Despite their stoic mantle as they were displaced and relocated and settled into life in New York City, their future lives from that point on was marred with traumatic memories that impacted them as adults and as parents.  Their fears (more my mother), were projected on their children, and their worries about taking risks , safety and trust,  were imbedded in our psyche.

I feel somewhat sandwiched between my role as support to many children who have been raised in far less than perfect upbringings, and my role as a child of traumatized parents who grew up in difficult times.  I watch and listen and read the news of current events and can’t help but identify with both the parents and the children.

In a conversation long ago with my father, when I was the age he was when he came to New York, I asked how it happened that the Nazis came to power and how his awareness of what was happening in Germany then came to impact him and his parents.  He said that they heard bits and pieces but that there was a different type of media and propaganda and that “we didn’t believe what we heard might be happening”.  My dad was buried nineteen years ago this past Father’s Day.  That fact, along with the current state of the political discord, was hardly lost on me.

The cycle of history just turns and turns.  Worry and inaction cancel one another out. More questions, less answers.

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Picture This

 

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Remember the ad that Kodak ran, “the moments of our lives”?  Kodak left for a while, but then turned around, came back, and took another picture of itself, this time digitalized.  And so we all became part of the world of personal photographers who chronical our “moments” for posterity, in perpetuity, forever, in “The Cloud”, wherever that really is.  We point and click, and download and upload.  There is no end to what we can take a picture of from a piece of clothing we want our friend to comment on “should I buy it?” to a street sign that captures something funny, to our children, grandchildren, or the license plate of the person who took our parking space, intentionally.   

There are the posed pictures, the imposed pictures “Smile!  Dammit!” as well as the unintentional pictures of our thumbs and the floor.  I have quite a few of those which I look at for any artistic merit before I put them in the little trash pail icon on my phone.  In my imagination, I envision a cartoon which has the Statue of Liberty surrounded by a mass of people whose faces we cannot see because instead they have a cell phone “photoshopped”  where their faces would be.  We are our iPhones/cameras.  We see through a lens,not just metaphorically, but through the viewfinders of our phones.  

The last significant scenic vacation that my FHB and I travelled was to Norway and Denmark.  The first several days of travel, I chronicled the trip through video and iPhone.  In order to actually get a sense of what I was seeing, I had to remember it via the video and still pictures.  Somehow that seemed wrong.  I felt that I didn’t actually “see” anything.  I didn’t feel the expanse of the mountains or glaciers.  I didn’t get the magnitude of the beauty of Bergen and the fjords because I was not memorializing the pictures in my mind, but rather on my phone.  

Technology is amazing and it has so many tools that we benefit by having access to.  Yet it does not replace our interactions with nature or people, up close and personal, and especially face to face.  I’ve put down the camera at times when I want to take a picture in my mind, and be part of the moment, in the moment.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, and yet some of those words are worth hearing as the person looks at you,  faces you,  and sees your response to something they say.  Something clicks inside us and we don’t need a button to see it.