Friday, May 31, 2013

Guide to Life for Graduates and Others

This may be my last blog at this location. If I start another one, I'll post a link, but I feel a break from this is in order just now. Other fish to fry, etc. The recent paucity of posts a clear sign of lack of oomph for the task.

I thought it appropriate to post a wonderful piece written by someone else, one often incorrectly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, composed by a then unknown columnist at the Tribune in 1997. Her words of advice, if adhered to by us all, would make for a happier planet. So here they are:

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt. 

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

  • Mary Schmich
Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

After a solid week of nonstop rain I finally found something to cheer me up. It's Cynthia Scott's 1984 oscar award-winning short film, Flamenco at 5:15. Memories of Sevilla and wonderful friends there who took me to see the famous flamenco dancer in a standing room only bar in the old district, 1 a.m. An experience I will never forget...

Why I adore Spain? Flamenco! The sheer vivacity of it, life affirming and intense.

  Having my own little dance party, right here at home. Screw the rain.

And if you get a chance to watch Scott's  Strangers in Good Company (1990), (I saw it on netflix) check it out. She's bril. Just bril..  GREAT film. Done with almost no script and no professional actresses. The ultimate over 50 chick flick.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Have You Seen This?

Just Say No! South America's answer  to corporate hegemony. Here's to Oliver Stone for taking the time to find out what's really going on down there and who's running the show so we can actually know. This is a must watch for anyone interested in what's really happening in South America and why it matters to us and the future of democracy, that much misused word here in the states. One can only hope theirs is a model for the planet's future, a nice thought when you feel like "they", the banksters and corporate governors, are just too powerful to bring to heel. (And, oh, do enjoy Fox's dumb blonde's unbelievable ignorance. I mean, really, it's just embarrassing.)

This is really worth watching. It's enough to make you wanna pack it in and move south, waaay south.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

plus ca change...

Came across this thought-provoking composite on Jesse's Cafe Americain today.

Also on the site was this timely piece:

"When in any country the small-farmer class is being squeezed off the land; when its labourers are slaves or serfs; when huge tracts are kept waste to minister to pleasure; when the shibboleth of art is on every man's lips, but ideas of true beauty in very few men's souls; when the business-sharper is the greatest man in the city, and lords it even in the law courts; when class-magistrates, bidding for high office, deal out justice according to the rank of the criminal; when exchanges are turned into great gambling-houses, and senators and men of title are the chief gamblers; when, in short, 'corruption is universal, when there is increasing audacity, increasing greed, increasing fraud, increasing impurity, and these are fed by increasing indulgence and ostentation; when a considerable number of trials in the courts of law bring out the fact that the country in general is now regarded as a prey, upon which any number of vultures, scenting it from afar, may safely light and securely gorge themselves; when the foul tribe is amply replenished by its congeners at home, and foreign invaders find any number of men, bearing good names, ready to assist them in robberies far more cruel and sweeping than those of the footpad or burglar'--when such is the tone of society, and such the idols before which it bends, a nation must be fast going down hill.

A more repulsive picture can hardly be imagined. A mob, a moneyed class, and an aristocracy almost equally worthless, hating each other, and hated by the rest of the world; Italians bitterly jealous of Romans, and only in better plight than the provinces beyond the sea;  more miserable than either, swarms of slaves beginning to brood over revenge as a solace to their sufferings; the land going out of cultivation; native industry swamped by slave-grown imports; the population decreasing; the army degenerating; wars waged as a speculation, but only against the weak; provinces subjected to organized pillage; in the metropolis childish superstition, whole sale luxury, and monstrous vice. 

The hour for reform was surely come. Who was to be the man?"

A.H. Beesley, The Gracchi Marius and Sulla, 1921

(Note the date.)