CVIndependent

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Know Your Neighbors

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…
12 Aug 2015
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In light of the recent uproar over Donald Trump’s blast at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly—about “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” after she asked him a question he didn’t like—I want to announce that I am not only the Lovable Liberal; I am also the Goddess of Political Correctness. My history includes Russian and Polish ancestors. I have exes who are Irish, Mexican-Indian (Mestizo), British, African American and Canadian. I was born Jewish; chose Unitarian, Baha’i and Buddhist; and married a lapsed Catholic. I’m a pro-choice feminist with a gay son and a lesbian cousin, was born in New Jersey, and was raised in California. I lived in the South. And, yes, I am blonde. There is almost no group you can insult where I won’t take offense. I am hypersensitive to jokes, comments, observations or judgments based on anyone’s color, religion, nationality,…
29 Jul 2015
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I remember my friend Jean every time I hear about the suicide death of a young person. Jean found her 17-year-old son, shot dead by his own hand, in their living room. Although I have known others who lost a child (a reality I can thankfully only imagine), it’s Jean who stands out. The impact on her family was devastating. That was the first suicide involving somebody close to me; sad to say, I’ve had others in my life. It was also the first time I heard the adage: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries in ERs across the country. HealthyChildren.org says that suicide is one of the three leading causes of death for 13-to-19-year-olds in the United States, with…
15 Jul 2015
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Summer is whizzing by, and many (most?) parents are ready for it to end. Parts of our area are often referred to as “retirement communities” based on the higher average age of residents, but there are lots of families who need educational activities for the energy their kids never seem to lack. “Go read a book!” my mother used to tell me. And read, I did. I remember the summer of World War II (Battle Cry, From Here to Eternity, The Naked and the Dead), the summer of religious understanding (The Robe, The Silver Chalice, The Education of Hyman Kaplan) and the summer of family drama (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Children’s Hour). Today, toddlers still enjoy picture books, while youngsters read stories about small animals and relatable kids with smelly pants. Older ones begin to get interested in futuristic fiction, or fantasy characters, or learning about things they…
01 Jul 2015
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You live across the country from your parents. You’re raising your children and are wondering how you’ll send three kids to college in a few years. You take pills for some chronic conditions and worry that one major medical crisis might wipe out your retirement plans. You live modestly, in a small middle-class home, and you have no desire to move. On your visit to the desert to visit Mom and Dad, you plan to play a little golf and relax. But you notice that Dad’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be; he doesn’t drive at night anymore—and you’re not so sure he should be driving at all. His legs aren’t as strong as they once were; he used to love to walk but now cramps up after only a block. Mom is still playing bridge with her friends, but she is having trouble remembering things (in fact, she…
17 Jun 2015
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June is graduation month, and there was one ceremony that had a particular impact on me: The graduation of Thermal’s Desert Mirage High School Class of 2015. The ceremony was held at the Indian Wells Tennis Club on a hot evening. The ceremony began with students in pairs holding large wire bowers covered with flowers, to make a path for the senior class to enter. And enter, they did—wearing white robes and caps for the top scholars, with red for the rest of the class. Many graduates had hand-decorated messages on their mortarboards, and robes festooned with bright floral leis or sparkling lights. As they circled the grass court to their assigned seats, families and friends cheered as the graduates struck poses or danced their way along the floral pathway. It’s well known that I cry easily, and my tears began as I scanned the half-full stadium, full of proud…