CVIndependent

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Know Your Neighbors

30 Dec 2015
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It’s that time of year when we’re supposed to articulate our intentions about how we plan to be better human beings in the coming year. Resolutions imply that we have to stop doing something, or give up something—which assumes we’re not already perfect. Plan to exercise more? What’s stopped you so far? Think that’ll change? Resolve to eat smarter or exercise? Why not start today? Commit to repair your relationship with someone? What are you waiting for—an engraved invitation? The older I get, the faster time seems to go by, and there’s not much life left to get “me” right. With all of our daily responsibilities—kids, deadlines, bills to pay, family and friends with issues that inexorably involve me in some way—focusing on myself and becoming a better person seems hopelessly counterproductive. Besides, I’m not sure I need to figure out how to get better. I have a good friend…
16 Dec 2015
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I admit I’m feeling unnerved. The terrorist attack in San Bernardino followed seemingly unrelated events including the shooting of Black Lives Matter activists in Minneapolis, and the murder of three people at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. Then came the fire-bombing at the mosque in Coachella, and the death of my old friend George Zander after the gay-bashing he and his husband, Chris, suffered in downtown Palm Springs. (As of this writing, it is not yet clear whether Zander’s death was directly related to that assault.) Coincidentally, I recently ran out of new books on my nightstand, and began re-reading two old favorites: 1984 and Brave New World. They are both incredible novels—but reading them at the same time is perhaps an unnecessary punishment at a time when our own country’s future seems to be so precariously hanging on the next presidential election. George Orwell’s 1984 is…
03 Dec 2015
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The past few months have brought me one ailment after another, side effects from treatments causing other issues, a lack of appetite (which is not a way to lose weight I would recommend) and no energy. (I’m not a hypochondriac; this is atypical.) I admit I’ve been a little cranky. OK, VERY cranky. Luckily, I’m finally feeling better. I spent Thanksgiving in Los Angeles at the home of an old friend, with my daughter and assorted family. On the Wednesday preceding Turkey Day, that friend had a house guest in addition to me: a young woman named Kelly, 42, who is recovering from a heart transplant. (For privacy purposes, I’m not using Kelly’s real name.) My friend volunteers at a major hospital once a week in their patient and family care group. She’s assigned to a floor where patients are waiting for or recovering from transplants. Her job is to…
18 Nov 2015
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I have two local friends who hail from London: Rupert in Rancho Mirage, and Gillian in Palm Desert. They often laugh at how Americans react to their British accent. “Well,” I tell them, “Americans can’t really differentiate between British, Australian, South African or New Zealand accents, let alone between North and West London. We just assume that if you have that accent, you must be smart and educated.” Many of us have similar trouble differentiating between Vietnamese and Filipino, Japanese and Chinese, Saudi and Syrian, Egyptian and Liberian. They’re all either Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern or African—if we know enough to make those distinctions. With what just happened on Nov. 13 (more than 125 dead in Paris), as well as what happened only a day before in Beirut (43 killed) and a couple weeks before that on a Russian plane (224 dead), it’s also difficult for us to differentiate…
04 Nov 2015
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Politicians are corrupt. Voters base their votes on marketing and money. Politics is not the same as “real” work. The media as a whole has a liberal bias. If only it were that simple. I ran for Congress in 1996. I’d never run for public office before, and there were many things I had to learn. One key skill was how to respond to reporters. Since I had little money for my campaign, most of my exposure was via free media, as opposed to paid ads. That meant something would be in the news, and I would be asked to comment, or I would call a press conference to make an “announcement,” followed by questions. When I ran, most local media sources were pretty conservative. The majority of registered voters in this area were Republicans. Democrats could be found in pockets here and there, but most locals then—even in the…
21 Oct 2015
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As a political talk-radio host, I am constantly dealing with people who don’t agree with me. Some callers spout nonsense conspiracy theories. Others copy tried-and-true applause lines from their political heroes. Still others simply yell and shout their personal prejudices, uninterested in facts or reasonable discourse. Even those who agree with me often have skewed reasoning. What’s a responsible broadcaster to do? I learned a long time ago that I will probably never change the mind of the person on the other end of the line. I’ve also learned that trying to over-shout someone just leads to noise and no light. I also have the luxury of being able to hit the “dump” button. Alas, there is no “dump” button in real life. In this ever-polarized political environment, national and local, I know people who refuse to attend family dinners because of, for example, the brother-in-law who sputters the worst…
07 Oct 2015
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My mother always used to say, “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” I don’t remember being bullied when I was in school. I do remember there were cliques, and it was pretty clear who belonged to which group, and how the groups were ranked socially. There were the popular girls who were most likely to date the jocks. The artsy kids hung out with other actors, musicians and writers. We had the natural politicians who led the clubs, ran the social events and held school office. We had outlaws who smoked and drank and cut classes and wore leather jackets or long, dangling earrings. There were some students who were overweight or too smart or socially inept. They got called derogatory names. There were girls who were tagged as “easy” (although some of my friends who were outwardly prissy got pregnant before those…
23 Sep 2015
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Every woman I know was thrilled by Carly Fiorina’s response at the second Republican debate to Donald Trump’s denigrating comment about her looks. Whether you agree with her policies or believe she is qualified to be president, her confident and direct hit at Trump was the standout moment. “Look at that face!” Trump had proclaimed to a Rolling Stone reporter. “Who would vote for that?” When pushed to explain his denigrating comment, Trump claimed he was only talking about Fiorina’s “persona.” During the debate, after Trump confronted Jeb Bush on his awkward comments about women’s health funding (which Bush claimed was a “mis-speak”), Fiorina was asked about Trump’s comments regarding her looks. With a calm, deliberate tone, she responded, “Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Bam! Trump…
09 Sep 2015
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We hear the terms a lot: codependent, enabler, dysfunctional. We’re used to applying those terms, perhaps lightly, to our friends who call with their recurring relationship dramas, and more seriously to those who are living in situations where violence or substance abuse is common. Sometimes, we can see it in others—but not in ourselves. Codependency is a relatively recent label attached to certain feelings and behaviors, originally an outgrowth of the Alcoholics Anonymous organization. The AA 12-step program is well-known for its effectiveness with those who follow its recovery protocols. AA stays open to the reality that not everyone makes it through the first time they try. Their door is always open. Al-Anon began as an AA support group for family members and friends of those addicted to alcohol, so they could share their struggles, shame, insights and coping mechanisms. Sometimes, kids just need to know there are others going…
26 Aug 2015
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My first husband died after we had been divorced for many years, and his involvement with our two children had been sporadic, at best. Yet they were there with him when, on a trip to Minnesota, he ended up in the hospital after a heart attack. After his death, they called and wondered what they should do with his body. One lived in Portland, Ore.; the other lived in Dallas. Their dad’s family was in Hemet—with no apparent interest in being involved. “Tell the hospital you want to donate his body for anything that might contribute to research,” I suggested, “and go home. You’ve done all you can.” They took my advice, and both remarked afterward that they felt good that perhaps his death served some greater purpose. I thought about that when I started hearing the reports about Planned Parenthood “harvesting and selling” fetal tissue for research. The reports…