Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Wild Thing

New York-- A few weeks ago we went to an 80th birthday celebration for Maurice Sendak at the 92nd Street Y in New York. It was a wonderful night of readings and music and funny stories, starting off with Where the Wild Things Are, read in yiddish (a language spoken by Maurice's family when he was growing up). You didn't have to understand a word of yiddish to follow along with the illustrations, projected on a large screen. It was charming and very funny.

Meryl Streep read from The Sign on Rosie's Door. Has anything ever been read so well? Dave Eggers told us about a novel he's writing based on Where the Wild Things Are. We saw clips from a movie in progress, directed by Spike Jones, also based on Wild Things. And then Maurice -- who seemed to genuinely enjoy this tribute came up to the stage. Truly an evening I won't forget.

So Happy Birthday Maurice! You and your incredible work will always be an inspiration to me. Did you know the first book Randy ever read aloud was Little Bear with your gentle and funny illustrations? Thank you for that, too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hockey Mom

New York -- It occurred to me while listening to Sarah Palin deliver her speech at the Republican Convention that I'm a "hockey mom," too. That's right. Make that 35 years as a hockey mom. Hey, I go back so far I boiled Larry's mouthguard in Hawaiian Punch (his choice). When I took Larry to a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden he explained to me that blood and vomit bounce on ice. The things your 10 year old can teach you! It's been a long time since I've seen Larry on ice but at 45 he still plays in a league twice a week. Funny that I never thought to include hockey mom on my professional resume.

Aside from being female, this may be the end of what I have in common with Sarah Palin and, to be honest, I was never one of those pit bull moms. I don't think I'd ever heard of pit bulls in the 70's. I was more of a yellow lab, but that could be a question of style. No doubt Sarah has her own style. And she's a good speaker whether or not she writes her own speeches. But it's her politics and religious right beliefs that scare me most.

I agree with Obama that children of candidates should be off limits. But in this case, Bristol's pregnancy at 17, says a lot about Sarah's politics. She's against comprehensive sex education in schools. She favors "abstinence only" programs. She doesn't want teens to learn about birth control. She doesn't want them taught that condoms, when used properly, can protect them not only from pregnancy, but from disease. She's anti-choice for women of all ages -- she's against abortion as an option even in cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest. She would overturn Roe v Wade if given the chance. I'm not telling Sarah what's right for her family and I don't want her deciding what's right for mine. Or for any of our families.

I feel for Bristol. In my high school class three top girls became pregnant during their senior year. Abortion was illegal then. Some girls were so desperate they chose to have unsafe, illegal abortions. A woman I know lost a daughter that way. She bled to death. Some girls were sent to live with relatives in other states so no one would know, then gave their babies up for adoption. For others, hastily arranged marriages were the answer. For my classmates, those early, unwanted pregnancies changed their lives and their futures forever.

It is said that when Sarah became mayor of Wasilla she wanted to ban some books from the public library. When the librarian refused, she fired her. Public outcry caused Sarah to relent and the librarian got her job back. Once again, Sarah wanted to decide not just what was right for her children, but what was right for all children.

Her father taught science, yet she believes that creationism should be taught side-by-side with evolution in public schools. Her strong religious views will no doubt shape all her governing policies. This is a scary idea.

A young man who's been writing to me for years e-mailed after watching Sarah at the Republican Convention. He was impressed. This young man, whom I consider a friend, is gay, unemployed due to downsizing at his company, depressed and without health care. For all these reasons and many more he should be listening carefully and reading widely on the issues at stake in this election. I can't believe he can be so easily fooled. But if he can be, then others who are undecided can be, too. I'm worried. And scared -- or did I already say that?

This election is too important to our future and the future of our children and grandchildren to decide in haste. Whether John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate because she's a woman and he was pandering to those women disappointed by Hillary's loss, or whether he choose her because of her conservative and deeply religious views, and was pandering to the right wingers (without whose votes he cannot win the election) of his party -- we'll never know. It's the first and biggest decision he's made in this election. Did he make it in haste when push came to shove, or did he give it the long and careful consideration it warranted? Everything points to a quickly made, purely political decision. Even one of McCain's inner circle gleefully announced this election is about personalities, not issues.

I don't know about you, but I'm making my decisions based on the issues. There are no "do overs" here. We have to choose a leader whose judgment we respect. One who doesn't make important decisions based on gut feelings. That's why I want the calm, thoughtful, intelligent, knowledgeable candidate who will surround himself with the best and the brightest. That's why I'm supporting Barack Obama.

What I don't need is some sarcastic hockey mom who describes herself as a pit bull, who flaunts her pregnant teenager and her new special needs infant, a heartbeat away from the presidency.