Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dear Ijeawele

Dear Ijeawele

Adult parenting/feminism
"When a couple of years ago a friend of mine from childhood,
who'd grown into a brilliant, strong, kind woman, asked me to tell her
how to raise her baby girl a feminist, my first thought was that I did
not know.
It felt like too huge a task."
Following a dinner and dance in honor of the visiting African
Scholars at UMaine I arrived home totally elated. This excitement and
a heavily muggy ambiance meant sleep was going to elude me at least
awhile. I reached for my go to remedy, the next book in my stack. By
great good fortune in the guise of coincidence it happened to be
written by a Nigerian woman.
Luckily Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reconsidered and decided the
task was manageable. Her Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in
Fifteen suggestions packs a wealth of wisdom into a deceptively slim
volume: sixty-three pages in all.
Each suggestion covers one aspect of feminist daughter raising.
The language is straightforward and the concepts are bold. Adichie is
not a fan of what she considers Feminism Light. The tone, though,
conveys the intimacy of a woman speaking to a treasured friend. This
particular voice is both compelling and touching.
This is a wonderful book to give a new mother. It's a good read
for people who interact with young girls in any capacity. When I
volunteer in the library, for example, I make sure to compliment the
story hour set in non gender biased ways.
On a personal note, I had the most amazing birthday. I saw so many
dear friends and heard from others. My friend Liv treated me to Sweet
Frog frozen yogurt. Eugene took me to Dennys for supper and gave me a
musical card and money. I talked to all three of my children on the
phone. Today is sunny enough for me to hang all the laundry outside.
So it's an at home work day. Tomorrow I get to leave church after the
choir sings our anthem to go to a family picnic to celebrate my
birthday. Katie and Jacob will come all the way from Portland! That
will be so much fun!
A great big shout out to the friends and family members who make my
life such a happy one.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Irrisistible

Irrisistible

YA/adult nonfiction
"A like on Facebook and Instagram strikes one of those notes, as
does the reward of completing a World of Warcraft mission, or seeing
one of your tweets shared by hundreds of Twitter users. The people
who create and refine tech, games, and interactive experiences are
very good at what they do. They run thousands of tests with millions
of users to learn which tweaks work and which ones don't--which
background colors, fonts, and audio tones maximize engagement and
minimize frustration. As an experience evolves, it becomes an
irrisistible, weaponized version of the experience it once was. In
2004, Facebook was fun; in 2016, it's addictive."
Awhile back my kids got on Facebook. At least in my neck of the
woods there was disagreement about whether parents should get their
own accounts. I read of parents who did so to monitor their offspring
like hawks--making sure they couldn't pull anything off. I personally
knew a few who said, I have a right to and if they don't like it,
tough. I had no reason to suspect my kids of being Internet
miscreants. Also, even though I suspected I was missing out on
something, it didn't seem worth the bother. I am so glad. I was
having trouble with lonliness. With my kids growing up I was missing
all the fun we'd had together without adult companionship to take its
place. I was isolated in conservative suburbia. If I'd found kindred
spirits in the virtual world (instead of burying myself in books) I
might very well have become hooked rather than seeking real world
friends. More recently a friend made me a page. In the two or three
years since I've peeked twice or three times. The first time it was
like a shiny new toy under the tree due to novelty. The next time it
was meh. Quickly it felt like a time suck. I'd developed a vibrant
real world social life that made its offerings seem pale in comparison.
In his Irrisistible: The Rise Of Addictive Technology And The
Business Of Keeping Us Hooked, Adam Alter gives the science behind my
epiphany and a number of other really cool observations. He uses an
intriguing blend of history, research, and personal narrative that is,
I gotta warn you, irrisistible once you turn to the first page. It's
extremely enlightening.
The part of the book I found most intriguing was Alter's
refution of the theory that some people are predisposed to behavioral
addiction (an inability to give up obsessive behaviors rather than
substances like drugs) and the rest of us are safe. One of the cases
he cites involves Vietnam vets. Not surprisingly, although the
soldiers arrived clean, the homesickness, stress, and easy
availability and strength of heroin made for a lot of addicts. A lot
of people cried foul when a researcher discovered 95% of the soldier
addicts kicking the habit as opposed to 5% who develop it in America.
What was going on? They were completely leaving the places and
situational triggers that started their habits instead of going from
jail or rehab into the same neighborhoods and relationships. The
emphasis on circumstances explains why in that gap between the joy of
parenting and finding a new joie de vivre I was uniquely vulnerable.
It also explains why many of our friends, despite frustration with the
amount of time behavioral addictions take up and the best of
intentions, find it difficult or impossible to cut down.
The most alarming part of the book for me was the implications
for the barely out of the womb generation. It has been proven time
and time again that babies and toddlers need real world interaction
with significant others and concrete objects. Manufacturers are
devising ways to get even the littlest people hooked on electronics.
And a lot of moms and dads plunk them down in order to pursue their
own addictions. We already have lots of kids and teens who are unable
or afraid to negotiate nonvirtual interactions. What are we setting
ourselves up for?
We don't live in a world where we can totally not use the
Internet. Even some of the most basic jobs, for example, require on
line applications. But Alter ends the book with ways in which we can
protect ourselves and our loved ones from the dangers and even make
use of some positive aspects. Even if you're not concerned about
anyone in your life, Irresistible provides an in depth look into how
our society morphed into what it is today. I plan to check out
Alter's earlier book: Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces
That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave.
I use my iPod touch to communicate via email with friends
(deleting most of what I get unread), look up information, and read a
few on line periodicals. When Facebook reminds me of a friend's
birthday I email or phone. Every few months I consider logging in (or
is it on) and don't bother. Friends send me info by alternate
routes. I'm out of the loop with extended family on my husband's
side, but as long as my kids keep in touch by email and phone I can
live with that.
In a sense books are addictive for me. I get a real rush out of
finding good ones. I don't go anywhere, not even in an elevator,
without at least one. But they don't prevent me from having a very
full and purposeful life. If anything, they give me more to discuss
with other bibliophiles, not to mention this blog. Plus all this
reading helps with my own writing. So it's beneficial at this point.
On a personal note, today is my happy birthday day!!! Joey cat has
sung me Happy Birthday. I've already started celebrating with friends
and will continue at least a few days. This afternoon I'm going to
Sweet Frog (a frozen yogurt place) with a friend. Sunday will be a
family birthday picnic. You, too, can celebrate. Treat today as the
special treasure it is. Cherish the special moments you might
otherwise rush by. Be present to your real world friends, family, and
animal companions. Use my birthday as a reason to give yourself a
sweet treat (unless it would send you into a diabetic coma!). Please
take some time away from social media to see what's being featured on
Mother Nature's infinity wide screen.
A great big shout out to the people and sweet cat companion who do so
much to make my life such a happy one.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Only Road

The Only Road

Juvenile and up fiction
"The police in the village had called Miguel's death an
unfortunate accidente. Of course they would say that. Money meant
more than morals and justice to the force; whoever paid the most had
the power, and the Alphas could pay a lot. It also didn't help that
the police chief's drug habit funded many of the gang's operations.
Jaime removed his sketchbook from its perpetual nook underneath
his arm and pressed it against his head so he couldn't see, wouldn't
have to remember Miguel like that. Why Miguel? Why did being brave
had to end so badly? What was the point of being good if it turned
out bad?"
I started reading Alexandra Diaz's The Only Road after a family
picnic. Katie and her Jacob had come up for a wedding. The day after
they joined up with Amber and Brian and Eugene and me for a picnic at
Webster Park. The weather was perfect. It was a treasure to be with
two of my kids and their significant others. So the first chapters of
the book were almost too much to take. They brought me into a world
of parents and children being separated, maybe never to see each other
alive again.
Jaime's cousin Miguel was beatten to death for refusing a gang.
The Alphas attend the funeral. They send word that they expect Jaime
(12) and Miguel's sister, Angela, to join them in a week.
There is not enough money for the whole family to pay a coyote
to help them escape. Plus the journey from Guatemala to the United
States is much too arduous for a grandmother and new baby. Jaime and
Angela's parents have no choice. They must send them off on a lengthy
journey into the unknown full of dangers. Gangs rob, beat, and kill.
People lose limbs or life trying to board moving trains. There is no
guarantee of even water. People die of thirst in the desert.
Officials as well as gang members rape girls. And the feared la Migra
(immigration officials) have the power to return them to their place
of origin to start from the very beginning.
We're talking about youngsters already traumatized by the brutal
murder of a beloved family member.
What's worst is that, even though the characters are fictional,
the narrative is the lived experience of so many innocent families
every day.
The text is poignant and powerful. I do not recommend it for
more sensitive or anxious kids. I do recommend it for its target
demographic and well beyond. I wish I could make it required reading
for the Build A Wall crowd.
The people who face such dire dangers to just survive are as
deserving of better as we and our children are. We must not turn a
deaf ear to the plight.
How would you feel if this was your family?
On a personal note, this morning I went to a program on walkability in
communities. (This includes the ability to bike and use public
transport--anything but private cars). We discussed the many benefits
as well as all that must be done to achieve this laudable goal. This
kind of work must be consistent, persistent, and insistent all over
America. We've been too much a nation of fossil fuel guzzling,
parking lot requiring, out of shape car drivers since early car
companies bought up and shut down the trolley lines.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated in, presented
at, and planned this very worthwhile event.
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Fight Is Our Fight

This Fight Is Our Fight

Adult nonfiction
"People who hire lobbyists and wield a lot of political clout
are often the same people who can pay for the finest private
preschools and the most exclusive prep schools for their own
children. Some of them don't get terribly alarmed when there are
forty-two kids in a sixth grade class and tiles are falling off the
walls in the kids' bathrooms, because those things don't happen at the
schools their children attend. And even if millions of kids have
fewer and fewer opportunities, they know their kids will be guarnateed
plenty of opportunities--all the opportunities money can buy. For
some people, the problems faced by everyone else's children seem very
far away."
In the above quote, excerpted from her This Fight Is Our Fight:
The Battle to Save America's Middle Class, Elizabeth Warren is
alluding to education. But her main point applies equally well to
just about every aspect of American life these days. The people who
make the rules don't have to live with the consequences. The people
who opine that the minimum wage should not be raised aren't the ones
struggling to raise families on it. The crowd whining about welfare
cheats don't experience the desperation of the growing number of
Americans who live at a poverty level usually associated with third
world countries. Polluted drinking water does not seem all that
urgent to those who can enjoy clean or sip the priciest of bottled
water.
For all Donald Trump's claims that he's making America great
(whatever that means) again, Warren asserts that he's dragging this
hostage nation in the exact wrong direction. She brings us back to a
time when although not perfect, this nation came a lot closer to
liberty and justice for all. It was right after the Great Depression
and World War II. America invested in schools, infrastructure,
research, colleges, and people. My father was able to go back to
school on the GI bill. Unions protected nonmembers as well as
members. There wasn't the obscene gap between earnings of workers and
bosses. Between 1935 and 1980 70% of income growth went to the bottom
90%; between 1980 and 2015 virtually all went to the top 10 %.
Now we're at a point where:
"•Nearly one in four Americans can't pay their bills on time.
•Nearly half of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected
expense of $400.
•A lower proportion of Americans own their homes than at any time in
the past half century--63.5 percent.
•The typical man working full-time earns less today than his
counterpart did in 1972.
•Nearly one-third of the country's adult population--76 million
Americans--describe themselves as either 'struggling to get by' or
'just getting by.'"
Something to be proud of? Warren and I don't think so.
My parents raised Harriet and me in a country where kids could
very well do better that their moms and dads. Today most parents hope
and pray their kids won't slide too far down.
So what happened? The rich got greedy and clever. They got
lobbyists to work overtime peddling influence. They learned how to
grease palms in increasingly costly elections. America went from one
vote, one voice to money talks. Unions and other protective agencies
were attacked and stripped of power. Corporations and their lobbyist
shills got laws changed to favor them and screw everyone else. Under
the current presidency these ugly trends are on an even faster track.
The good news is that most people want to go back to justice and
fairness.
"• More than 70 percent of the American people believe that students
should have a chance at a debt free education.
•Nearly three-quarters of Americans support expanding Social Security.
•Two-thirds of all Americans support raising the federal minimum wage.
•Three-quarters of Americans want the federal government to increase
spending on infrastructure."
The bad news is we're the 21st century David. Goliath (big
bidness and corporate bedfellows) isn't willing to give an inch. In
fact he wants to screw us even more. We've got to find that slingshot
(I am not alluding here to a physical slingshot or any other weapon)
and put it to good use. In the words of Warren:
"The danger is real, and the time is short. But we understand
what we can do. We can build an America that works for all of us. We
know how; we just need to do it.
Our country's future is not determined by some law of physics.
It's not determined by some preordained path. It's not even
determined by Donald Trump. Our country's future is up to us. We can
let the great American promise die or we can fight back. Me? I'm
fighting back.
This fight is our fight."
Amen!!!!!!!
If you have any doubts about this book's relevance scan three
issues of your local newspaper. I am betting you will find at least
one story showing how important it is. In just today's edition I
found: an editorial on Capital Hill Republicans working to prevent the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from protecting consumers from
getting scammed and cheated by banks, lenders, and credit card
companies, opinion pieces on the stupidity of believing in trickle-
down tax cuts and the weakness of the US climate pledges, and a front
page story on the plight of rural schools caught in the double whammy
of poverty and property tax based school funding:
"I think that's the fundamental paradox in Maine. When you have
economic decline, you have a tax base that's eroded, which increases
in poverty, in need for all families and residents. Not just for young
people. And the ability to then take on the burden of school funding,
and the increased need for schools to get funding, becomes really
challenging. Even while the population has greater and greater needs
that have to be met."
If you care at all for a nation with liberty and justice read
the book mand join the battle. Future generations will thank you for
this.
On a personal note, Elizabeth Warren would have really enjoyed our
Ending Violence Together event in Bangor yesterday. The weather was
perfect. We had a great turn out. People were really into the tables
and the message behind the songs and speeches. I gave the last
speech. It was my op ed that was in the Bangor Daily News Monday. I
so enjoyed making eye contact and feeling the love as I spoke. After I
ad libbed by having people light imaginary candles and join me in
singing This Little Light Of Mine. It was such a perfect experience!
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
Only 3 more days til my birthday!
jules hathaway



Sent from my iPod

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Dead Inside

The Dead Inside

YA/adult nonfiction
"The warehouse had a name: Straight, Incorporated. Straight
called itself a drug rehab for kids, but most of us had barely even
smoked weed. Take me, for example. In September, at age thirteen, I
smoked it for the first time. I tried it smoking again in October.
In November, I got locked up in Straight--for sixteen months. The
second we entered the building, we stopped being humans. Instead, we
were Straightlings."
Reading Cindy Etler's The Dead Inside: A True Story is like
discovering a twenty-first century addition to the scene of Dante's
Divine Comedy--a whole new ring of Hades created just for children.
Kids spent their days in a windowless warehouse like building being
made to parrot back useless information and attack one another. Meals
were water, balogna sandwiches, and a smelly substance. Nights were
spent on mattresses on floors in host homes where they were locked in
their rooms and under constant surveillance, even when they used the
toilet.
If adult prisoners of war were treated like this their nation of
origin would have NATO on speed dial. Something about cruel and
unusual punishment. Only these were kids locked away allegedly for
their own good. What the bloody Hell?
Of course we all know the ugly why. People were making money
off of misery. The kids were the collateral damage.
Etler had a serious problem in her home life. It had nothing to
do with drugs. She was afraid to be at home. Her mother's second
husband, Jacques, physically and sexually abused her. In one far from
lovely scene her mom just watched while he beat her. One night she
slept in a burned out building to stay away from him.
The scariest part of the book is the author's note at the end of
the book. It talks about when any program is shut down another
equally bad one springs up.
"While a renamed Straight lives on in Canada, equally
destructive programs are operating all over the United States. In
2007, the U.S. Government released a report in the 'troubled teen
industry.' The report states that, between 34 states, there were 1,503
reports of abuse or neglect of children by residential program staff.
Twenty-eight states reported one or more youth fatalities. The report
went on to say that these statistics 'understate the incidents of
maltreatment and death.' Program kids are good at keeping their mouths
shut."
And where is government in all this? Apparantly MIA. The
congressional bill that was introduced in 2015 "To require certain
standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and
neglect in residential programs" is still in limbo and estimated to
have a 2% chance of success.
On a personal note, much of my last few days has been centered on the
Red Cross. I volunteered Tuesday and donated and volunteered
Wednesday. Wilson Center was great. Russell made the baked potato
bar I'd asked for. We had a program on meditation.
I got my UMaine bill for the class I'm taking. $635 all waived
because I'm 65. I can even use the rec center for free. I sure plan
to. I don't see why this benefit isn't more publicized. Actually I
do. There's the assumption we'd be happier in senior college. Too
delicate to interact with people who aren't in "our" generation. No
demographic ghetto for me!
A great big shout out goes out to Lisa Morin, the Red Cross nurses, my
friend Russell, and my classmates.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Girlhood Interrupted

Girlhood Interrupted

Published research paper
Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls' Childhood
should have you irate. You can find it on the Internet. It's 24
pages of very much need to know information. Previous research had
shown that black boys age ten and up were seen as older looking and,
therefore, more culpable than white peers. This study asks whether
black girls suffer from a similar disadvantage.
Originally in courts teens and children were treated like
miniature adults. Over time courts began to realize that they really
were different. Their reasoning powers have not completely
developed. They are easier to influence. They still, for the most
part, are not beyond hope of turning their lives around. For these
reasons accomodations such as prohibiting the death penalty in
juvenile court have been made.
To benefit from childhood accomodations, in life as well as
courts, a child must be recognized as a child. When I was growing up I
had one black classmate. Not only was she perceived as older, but
people believed that black girls of any age were more sexually
experienced and knowledgeable than white peers. She was being pawed
and propositioned while we were both earning Girl Scout merit badges.
Adultification was surely at work there. It's the term the report
uses to describe the more adult and less innocent perception society
holds in regard to black children.
"The assignment of more adult-like characteristics to the
expressions of young Black girls is a form of age compression. Along
this truncated age continuum, Black girls are likened more to adults
than to children and are treated as if they are willfully engaged in
behaviors typically expected of Black women. This compression...[has]
stripped black girls of their childhood freedoms [and] renders Black
girlhood interchangeable with Black womanhood."
Previous research had suggested that that adultification helps
account for black girls being treated more severely in schools and the
juvenile justice system than white peers. The research project that
was the topic of this paper showed that respondents perceived black
girls as young as five to be older in behavior and more acquainted
with adult topics like sex than white peers. It looks at implications
for their treatment in school, courts, and the foster care system.
I advise parents, teachers, social workers, and everyone else
who cares about juvenile justice to read Girlhood Interrupted. You
can get it free on whatever device you're reading this on. It's
reader friendly and short (with lots of graphs and other visuals), but
it packs a powerful punch and should have us all up in arms!
On a personal note, I had the most wonderful day imaginable Saturday.
I was in Portland with Katie, Jacob, and Archie cat. We had lunch and
went to a huge outdoor craft fair with Ann, Jacob's mom. She is an
artist and the cat's pajamas. I showed her my first two colored
pencil sketches and she actually liked them. I bought Eugene's
Christmas present. We went to Goodwill and found some bargains. Then
we had supper with Destiny who has been Katie's best friend 19 years.
Katie baked a really good peach pie. She gave me a very classy journal.
I am going to have to continue to lead an exciting life with a journal
like that.
Then yesterday my opinion piece came out in the Bangor Daily News. I
always love that!
A great big shout out goes out to Katie, Jacob, Archie, Anne, and
Destiny. You all rock! I'm lucky to have you in my life.
jules hathaway




Sent from my iPod

Friday, September 8, 2017

Stone Mirrors

Stone Mirrors

YA/adult poetry/herstory
"I need to go where no one knows what happened.
Edmonia looks out the window. She wishes she could
camoflauge herself like a white hare on snow,
a brown toad by a tree trunk. She opens a drawer
and grabs her pencils like a fistful of arrows.
She packs her spare dress, her sewing basket,
A mended comb, a nightgown; she doesn't have much else.
She says, I'll start again."
No exact date of when Edmonia's story starts. Clues point to
Civil War times. She's in a boarding school that takes in blacks and
scholarship students. But within its walls race and class divisions
are observed. One day two white girls are caught in an unchaperoned
coed sleigh ride. Back then it would have been a major scandal. They
promptly take sick, accusing Edmonia, who had helped them dress for
the excursion, of poisoning their tea.
Edmonia longs to be an artist. But cleaning white people's
houses seems to be a far more likely fate for a black girl running
away from her past.
In real life Edmonia became a sculptor whose work is now in
prestigious museums. Jeannie Atkins faced a formidable problem when
she decided to write about her. She found a novel way to meet the
challenge in her Stone Mirrors: the Sculptore and Silence of Edmonia
Lewis.
"The open questions about her life frustrate biographers, but
seem suited to verse, a form that delights in solid furniture and bric-
a-brac, but is also comfortable with mysteries and leaps through
time. Relying on both facts and gaps in history, I imagined my way
into a sense of what might have been, the way a sculptor of historical
figures starts with givens but creates her own vision."
Don't let this deceptively slim volume or its designation deter
you from giving it a try. In fact I would most recommend it to poets,
particularly ones like me who aspire to write novels in this form.
Dialogue feels natural yet blends perfectly with the book's overall
cadance. Take this scene when Edmonia's accuser, about to leave the
school, admits her wrongdoing in privacy:
"Helen doesn't step in, but stands wearing
a shawl and hat, her hands in her woolen muff,
all ready to go. Edmonia almosts shuts the door,
but Helen steps forward. She whispers,
I'm glad you said nothing, you won't ever,
will you? My father would kill me
if he knew everything that happened."
Self centered mean girls these days would say just about the same,
making sure victims won't spill the beans.
Description is a powerful combination of sparse (see first
quote) and lyrical language. My favorite part is:
"Every day is a new trial.
Edmonia's neck turns stiff from the stares
of students who sit behind her.
Words split in her ears, blur before her eyes.
She no longer needs crutches
as oak leaves grow to the size of squirrel paws,
the season to find a spot near the river
to fish with nets and spears
and plant squash and corn and beans."
By summer Edmonia walks without a limp. Who wouldn't empathize with
Edmonia's plight. And the details let you know she had to endure it
for quite awhile.
On a personal note, I am posting this review a day early because
tomorrow there will be no time. I'll be taking the bus to Portland to
spend the day with Katie, Jacob, and Archie cat. I've been looking
forward to this day for months! Whatever we do will be wonderful and
amazing.
A great big shout out goes out to Katie, Jacob, and Archie.
jules hathaway


Sent from my iPod