Category Archives: civic commentary

city life; local color;

On Being ELIZABETH WARREN.

There’s something about a woman, a man will say.
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But, a woman will say there’s something about b.e.i.n.g a woman.
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Elizabeth Warren, in particular.
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It might have been Jon Stewart’s DAILY SHOW, where many of us first laid eyes on her. What struck me was the quickness of her physicality. Her body ever reacting to the mind’s impetus, Elizabeth was rarely still – sitting forward, leaning in, using her core to generate every declaration. And, of these, she had legion.
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Here was a person who transcended all notions of gender to be driven solely by the workings of thought, reflection, analysis, purpose, and the kind of imagination which fueled creating practicable solution to the world’s biggest problems. And, ever verbally fluent, she was able to express all this with enthusiasm and confidence.
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But, she also had a bright optimism about her, something I envied. Let’s admit it; regions of our vast country do produce certain behavioral profiles. The West coast is laid back; the East, intense; and, the Mid-West is transparent. Warren was born in Oklahoma. People out there are straight ahead, no nonsense, unpretentious. They have little notion of class, or class consciousness.
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Unfortunately, minus the optimism our politics still hold all those notions, in spades.
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And so, embodying irony, here was an American Midwesterner who fiercely opposed everything class based, and every bias toward it. Yet, America couldn’t buy in, because we wouldn’t accept that we were indicted by it. Even America’s women. We couldn’t trust that a woman who hadn’t donned even the female mantle of the business class executive could lead all of us toward major restructuring of our entire society. Our collective subconscious was still entrenched, steeped in those notions which declared that only a deeper voice and a smarter suit could carry us to where we needed to be.
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I really feel Elizabeth Warren. Especially today. I can taste the tears, likely cried into her husband’s shirt. I can hear the rallying cry of that contingent who saw through it all and remained loyal to the end. I can see honest, determined, conviction stagger in the face of harsh confrontation with the kind of raw power that defeats. My heart, and especially my mind, cries out with her. As only a woman’s can.
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© 3/5/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

To Care Enough.

Because Valentine’s Day without the Valentine part, I took myself over to the Whole Foods Cooperative for a self-care treat. On the way in, a guy was just leaving with that familiar, flat pizza box in hand. “Aha!” said the solitary single girl, ” the GF pizza Binnie Decrease mentioned earlier. Just the ticket!” So, upon entering, instead of heading directly for the reach in I walked to the soup line; serving myself a cup of the navy bean veg, I turned to the cafe counter.
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After dinging the bell, I waited for service. Soon, a girl came around from behind me, expecting to ring up my sale. “Oh, no, I’d like to order a Gluten Free pizza!” She grabbed the pad. “You have the GF pizza crusts?” I said, expectantly. She said: “Cauliflower? Yes; we do.” Then, she asked me what kind I wanted. As quickly as I could, I squinted and chose the Athena from the chalkboard – remembering it by name, from Binnie’s post. While the girl wrote, I asked if it contained soy. She went back to check. No soy – would that be all?
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I said I would continue shopping, so she handed me the due bill. Moving across to the reach in, I spied my macarons, and something new: strawberry salsa. Then, I went to Thad’s cash out and set these selected items on the edge away from the belt, telling him I was waiting for pizza. We got into a pretty intense convo, about how cayenne helps heal the stomach’s replaceable lining and all, related topics. So deeply were we involved I missed hearing that the pizza had been put out, done already. By the time I walked to take it, a woman was entering Thad’s line with a basket full, so I discreetly moved my purchases to Johnny’s line. Thad? or Johnny? asked if I wanted the pizza due bill and, when I said it would all be on the check out slip, he discarded it.
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Arriving home, I dug into my pizza. It was sumptuous, if lukewarm, so I heated the last three pieces in the oven. Somewhere between the first slice and the warmed pieces, the itching started. It was pretty persistent, and I soon realized that, though I hadn’t had one in well over three years, this was a reaction.
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I pulled up my clothing, and found the first of the hives on my bodice; then, more, under each arm. Historically, this would have been when I would panic and grab the Benadryl – and, the carkeys. This, again, I did. Popped the shell of one, and swallowed it; also, this time, I took phone photos of each of the hive sites that I could reach. Then, I called the Co-op.
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HivesBodice2020
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Jess answered. When I asked if the due bill was retrievable, she hastily explained that it had already hit the garbage and that the garbage was likely in recycle.
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“Jess”, I said. “This is a health issue. I’m in a hive outbreak, caused by something I just ate from the cafe.” Immediately, she retrieved the due bill, reading it to me:
“Athena – dairy” was all it said.
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And, I did what everyone who has ever had a near- anaphylactic reaction does. I became emotionally upset. My voice elevated. I said: “That confirms it…….I just consumed gluten or soy, I’m having an allergic outbreak, and will be sick for two weeks because the CO-OP hires stupid people who don’t listen to the customer’s requests!”
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Hanging up the phone, I jumped into the car and headed for ST V ER. En route via the 2 block square around the Erie Cemetery I called the Co-op back, demanding to speak with the manager on duty, as I was “en route to the ER.” “Chet” answered. When I explained what had happened, and what was currently happening, adding that I expected a refund at LEAST, HE began to accuse me of “talking down to everyone”……..!? saying that my behavior was unacceptable/wrong. I responded, in kind and in tone, that it was HE whose behavior was wrong. Then, because I had arrived at the valet pull up, I hung up the phone and got out of the car.
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After explaining to the intake girl what was going on, I sat in the chair nearest the registrar window and waited. The itching and welts were still going strong; fortunately, my heart was already calmed by the instantaneous response to the Benadryl. I texted David, and then found the Co-op executive director’s name in my addressbook. Her daughter had been in my studio, but was allowed to leave. I sent the whole thing, albeit more condensed than this detailed account, in several texts to her.
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40 min later, my head getting heavy with pre-comatose/peaking Benadryl, I got up to check with the registrar. The shift had already changed; a new girl was in her place. She said the previous girl had explained why I was there. I thanked both her and the hospital for letting me use the premises as my Safe Zone, and paid the valet fee, and came home. Though I’d had at least two bouts of it, both in ERs, both nearly 15 years ago before I was diagnosed, all from pizza dough that contained gluten/soy, thankfully, no anaphylaxis. This time.
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The Benadryl affect will last longest. It will put me to sleep for the rest of the night (my eyes are closing as I write this), and cause short term memory deficits which interrupt my retrieval of information as I continue to learn one of the most challenging musical scores my hands have ever encountered. Happy Valentine’s Day to, well, everyone else, I guess; I’ve spent mine in emotionally draining emergent health crisis, reprimanded for reacting as most anyone would under potentially life-breath threatening circumstances. All at the hands, and the mercy, of people who, as David would often intone, just don’t care “e.n.o.u.g.h.”
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© 2/14/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.      “I can’t breathe.”
littlebarefeetblog.com

Time For You To Go.

 

My last day as a public school music educator was not a celebration.

Although much anticipated, many times over the years, when the day came I was only aware of a couple, key feelings: exhaustion – and, readiness.

In the years one would have called my prime, I would arrive every morning in full, theatrical costume. Every class was its own creation, my body frequently the illustrated lesson. My students and I were perfectly attuned; discipline was a non-issue. If I didn’t have every child, mouth agape, in the palm of my hand, I wasn’t doing my job.

Time cloaked me. Over the years, the scene changed; once too often my perceived role was marginalized. My dear father, well into his ninth decade, moved in to be under my care. Well past my own half century mark, I found myself counting the months, and then the weeks. The Land of Diminishing Returns had worn me out.

Taken in totality, my contribution to public related arts education had hardly been scant or sparse. Ten fully staged extra-curricular drama productions; 250 beginning violinists, en masse, across several grade levels; instrumental ensembles of every conceivable permutation; competitive marching band; adjudicated concert choir and choruses; general/vocal music, K-8; mixed elementary chorus; focused curriculum for the hearing support. But, 25 years was a good, solid run; on June 9, 2011, I was done.

Today, Jared Kushner was interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on GPS. As President Trump’s senior advisor, he outlined the litany of accomplishments achieved by his father in law’s administration. Seven million new jobs. Trade deals, unprecedented. The dollar, strong. The endless war between Israel and Palestine reaching an also unprecedented mutually satisfying potential for resolution.

What makes related arts teachers distinct from the rest of their colleagues is the sheer measurability of their efforts. Everything they do with their students is readily observable by anyone. Art teachers produce student work which lines the walls of the school; music teachers create and direct performances open to everyone connected with the district. Their product is the direct result of their daily effort.

But, any teacher working past his/her point of positive affect becomes a liability. Good intentions are overtaken by fatigue; good judgment loses its edge. Children, ever intuitive, begin to resist them; administrators try to find ways to move them out of the building.

Given the past two years of the present Presidential administration, the glaring allegations, the deceit, the endless self-contradictions, the blatant lies, and the swarm of negative emotion generated, a great divide is now fixed among the American people. A clear half of the population of citizens wants nothing whatsoever to do with this President. Far beyond mere political ideology, the man himself is openly reviled. There is palpable hatred afoot, across wide swaths of the nation – hatred, for the President of the United States, by just under a majority of his people.

The recent impeachment trial has left half of America emboldened, and the other half utterly slain.  People can hardly look each other in the eye, fearfully wondering what is in the mind and heart of another. The climate, the prevailing mood is one of enmity. Were we at the mercy of the horse drawn carriage and musket, very little would restrain man from taking arms against man, woman against woman, child against child. All of this, over the person of the President of the United States.

Perhaps, instead of charging ahead like some Roman conqueror, President Trump should stop. It might be time for him to pull the lens back, expand to panorama, and take a candid look at the America his presence has created in the minds of its people. If he cannot do that, either because he is unable or unwilling, then he negates the very lives of those who are repulsed by him. He expresses virtual ethnic cleansing, reducing half of the population to zero value.

If he were not to stop, preferring instead to lead his faction into a future fraught by his own amoral, craven appetite for supremacy, the rift between himself , his following, and the rest of the nation would only grow wider. He would, by remaining in office, entrench the divide between the two Americas – perhaps beyond repair. In the face of and in spite of economic prosperity, he would single handedly destroy the soul and spirit of the entire country.

President Trump, don’t make us wait until November. Collect your laurels; accept your prize. Take your once in a lifetime lucky strike, and put it on the shelf with the rest of your shrine to self.

It’s well past time. Time for you to go.

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© 2/2/2020   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   Please respect the rights of those who produce original material. Do not copy, reconstitute, extract, or otherwise dismantle and distribute this piece without express, written permission of its author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com