Tag: friendship

The Truth Doesn’t Matter Anymore

 

The title of this post is not just a philosophical statement. It is a living, breathing admonition of our culture, one that once fundamentally guided our decisions, our relationships, and our belief systems. Truth was the foundation of our education, of governance, and business. We all knew that it was not embraced by everyone—the liars, drama queens show up everywhere—but I believed they were the exceptions rather than the rule.

No more. And let me tell you why I find this fact deeply disheartening.

Just this morning on my walk I listened to the Ricochet podcast, High Noon, with Inez Stepman. I like her interviews because they are thoughtful and intelligent. This time she was interviewing Professor Robbie P. George of Princeton University, and I enjoyed his sharing his early education and understanding of the importance of knowledge for its own sake; he also spoke about his priority in searching for truth. So far, so good. Then he mentioned that one of his best friends was Cornel West, who is a professor on the far Left, a self-described Democratic Socialist. I am quite certain that they have found a way to bridge or overcome their differences; I have seen West interviewed, and he is a thoughtful and reasonable person. But I found that I was annoyed and highly skeptical about George and West’s relationship. Then I realized the reason.

Everything Changes

 

Today I visited the woman who made me bald. Well, that’s not totally true. When my hair began to fall out in clumps, which is a really gross experience, I figured I would look less gross as a bald woman. So, I called Karen, my hairdresser to take it off—take it all off.

To digress for a moment, Karen is a very special person (although she might deny my description of her). She is a devoted Christian, a firm conservative and is fearless about speaking what is true for her. One day a couple of years ago I mentioned I was a Jew. She was delighted to hear it; her eyes lit up with anticipation. That very day she asked me if she could ask me questions about Judaism, and I said, of course! I can’t remember what our first conversation was about, but I do remember the tenor of our exchange. Her curiosity, follow-on questions, and even her comments about the practices of Christianity and how they related to Judaism (or didn’t) were steeped in sincerity and delight. Never once did I feel uncomfortable about her questions or motives.

Member Post

 

Social media and instant communication has changed our world for the better but there have been downsides.  One drawback is the conflict created between family and friends on sites like Facebook.  I personally haven’t used Facebook in years, but I’ve heard many stories about people losing family or friends over political arguments on social media. […]

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Quote of the Day: A Time to Talk

 

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.–Robert Frost

Our lives are punctuated, sometimes sweetly, all too often rudely or cruelly, with reminders of how precious others are to us.

Quote of the Day: Friendship and Stories

 

“Those who cannot conceive of friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a friend.” – C.S. Lewis

Contemporary media and culture does not seem to understand friendship, which is a tragedy beyond measure.  A true friend is worth more than refined platinum.   There was the friend who picked me up in another state, the friend who prayed with me after I snapped and lost control of myself, the friend who asked me to be his best man, the friend I talked down from the brink of suicide, the friend I trained and hired for my job, the friend who taught me how to shoot, the friend who I introduced to his future wife.   All of these are men I care about and respect – my bros.   There are also close friends I have that are ladies whom I am not romantically involved with at all.  These are co-workers and old college friends, one of whom is like an adopted younger sister.  The idea that having a close friend actually means a desire to screw them is utterly disgusting to me, but society seems to aim that way.

Take Five, Buddy: Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, A Match Made in Heaven (and Hell, and Everywhere in Between)

 

Jazz is often a cooperative enterprise. But that doesn’t mean that jazz musicians are always good at cooperating. Far from it, as, for example, Charles Mingus learned when Duke Ellington demanded that he resign from the Ellington Orchestra for having chopped Juan Tizol’s chair in two with a fire ax in the middle of a performance after the trombonist pulled a knife on him. 

Probability says that Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond should have gotten along about as well as Tizol and Mingus. An amphetamine-dependent, chain-smoking womanizer certainly doesn’t seem like the ideal partner for an (eventually) deeply Catholic, even-tempered family man. But to understand such an extraordinarily improbable 33-year partnership, we’d better go back to the beginning. 

Culinary Love Language: Homesickness and Pineapple Cakes

 

When leaves have started to litter the ground, days are growing ever shorter, and sweaters become inevitable, I begin to want pecans rolls from the Old Mill. They’re a Thanksgiving tradition in my family, and there’s nothing else I’ve found quite like them in the world. I won’t eat more than one or two over the course of the holiday (I can only handle so much in terms of sweets), but they taste like making up little turkey dinners for the cats, listening to the high school football game on the radio, and the beginning of real snow. Like home. Living so far from where I’m from, and having in general such a tenuous connection to ‘normal’ American food, little things like that are especially important to me. 

Thanksgiving this year put me in mind of this more than it usually would. Normally, my Taiwanese friend, A, and I would buy a turkey, order all of the fixings ahead of time from Whole Foods (they’re a blessing for Americans ex-pats at the holidays), make Korean food while we waited, and then eat our meal with sparkling apple cider and Clint Eastwood movies. This year, I went to Russian, and then home. Lockdown meant that we weren’t allowed to have anyone not in our bubble around, and having no one to celebrate with, I couldn’t manage much spirit for the holiday. My celebrations amounted to buying a baby mincemeat pie from Waitrose, and being forced to discuss the meaning of Thanksgiving in Russian with Natasha. 

Counting Blessings, Even During Covid-19

 

Today was my Sabbath, and it started out as it usually does. But as the day wore on, I found myself feeling the fog and heaviness of the virus: fines being charged in Osceola County for not wearing masks, for one.

I still persisted in my time of prayer, meditation, and study. My restlessness was pervasive, so I finally went outside to admire my many orchid plants, removing old leaves, admiring the mix of white, purple, and yellow blossoms, and enjoying the thought of how the lanai would soon be crowded with color.

Then we went out to dinner to Beef O’Brady’s, a chain restaurant; the food is reliable and the staff is always friendly.

A Covid19 Thanksgiving

 

This Thanksgiving Day will be precisely the way we always celebrate, and paradoxically unique in the annals of the Quinn Family.

Our plans began several weeks ago when we realized that the large group of people we ordinarily invite for the Thanksgiving meal were mostly holed up in their homes. (We live in a 55+ community.) They venture out occasionally, but have been socializing mainly in small groups. So, anticipating their reluctance to come over today, I was “uninviting” them; I realize some might still have wanted to come, but most would have been uncomfortable with the presence of so many people. (We were uneasy about it ourselves.)

Ты будешь моим другом?: Thanksgiving for Unlikely Musical Friends

 

The world of classical music, no matter the age, is not one that we think of as full of friendship. And with good reason; the tales of divas, rivalry, and compositional disputes are far more rife than any about peaceful partners and easily co-written sonatas. But when, once in a blue moon, a deep and abiding musical friendship occurs, then it almost always produces beauty that we can be thankful for. 

On the face of it, Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten were unlikely candidates to be friends. There was a fourteen year age gap between the two men (Britten, born in 1913, was the elder), they came from entirely different, indeed opposing, societies, and knew nothing of each other up to the moment of meeting. In fact, right up until Dmitri Shostakovitch offered to set up a meeting, the Soviet cellist thought that Britten was centuries dead, a contemporary of Purcell. 

Will Our Relationships Survive Politics?

 

When I first began to lament the absence of values in politics many years ago, I was told, in so many words, that’s politics. Get over it. Politics has followed its own set of rules forever, and that was simply the way things were. I should hold my nose and vote for the least bad candidate.

Whether or not that is still true today is something we can discuss. Of more importance to me is the role politics and values play in my relationships. The people on the Left with whom I’m friends are caring people; they aren’t violent or angry. In fact, I love them in part because of their kindness (and for tolerating me!)

But I’ve become uncomfortably aware that their intelligence and kindness may not be enough to maintain our friendships. They have taken positions politically and are resoundingly on the Left. There was a time when I simply said, well, we have so much in common otherwise that we’ll be okay if we simply avoid politics.

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

 

In the past I have often said that I’m an introvert; at the same time, I’ve thought of myself as the kind of person that people could reach out to. I’ve wanted to be a caring and reliable friend. Many of you who read my posts know a great deal about my life, and I like it that way. At times my approach to writing makes me more vulnerable than I like, but I feel compelled to share.

It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

 

As the doorbell rang, I let go of the napkin I was fingering and hurried, then slowed down, as I walked to the door. Ted watched me from the other side of the room and smiled reassuringly. My heart felt as if it would leap out of my chest. I took a deep breath, paused at the door, put a smile on my face, and said a brief prayer. As I opened the door, Valerie was on the other side with a silly grin on her face.

She said, “Hey you!! How have you been? She stepped in confidently and gave me a big hug. It felt great, and we held onto each other for an extra moment and then stepped back with tears in our eyes. She saw Ted and called out, “Hey, big guy!” He grinned back.

“Well, I’m lots better now that you’re here. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

A Jolly Challah-Day!

 

“Oh, it’s a jolly challah-day with Susan, Susan makes your ‘eart so light!” OMG. Apologies for the appalling pun, to you, to @susanquinn, to Mister Susan, to the brothers Sherman who wrote the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, and above all, to everyone who reads this, wherever you are, for inflicting upon you Dick Van Dyke’s excruciatingly embarrassing (embarrassingly excruciating?) excuse for a Cockney accent. Born within the sounds of Bow Bells, he most certainly was not:

When a Dear Soul Passes On

 

My dear friend, Earl, died yesterday. You may remember my writing about him a few times.

Earl was a bright and engaged 88-year-old black man. He was over six feet tall, lean like the swimmer he had been, and was one of the most curious and reflective people I’ve ever known. He was in our meditation group for nine years, showing up every Monday to meditate silently, and then participate in our discussion. He would ring the bell to start our meditation periods and end them, and also lead the group in slow and moderately paced walking meditation. One time he asked us, where else could I go, walking in circles around a room and have ten women obediently following me? We roared with laughter.

Basia and the Squirrel: Scruton’s Tale of Eros Transubstantiated

 

“The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy, and amends are long and hard.” A strange way to sum up a story of erotic love. Nonetheless, it was Scruton’s way, as he described, in the second half of his essay, Stealing from Churches, the thwarted love affair that taught him a “narrative of transubstantiation” transmuting body into soul. In truth, the love affair wasn’t thwarted at all, but one that fulfilled its purpose, a purpose his stubborn young beloved, Basia (pronounced “Basha”), saw more clearly than he did.

Scruton had organized a subversive summer school for the Catholic University in Poland, bringing together Polish and English philosophy students to resist communism. Under the codename “Squirrel” (in Polish “Wiewiorka”, for his red hair) and tailed by at least one jug-eared agent, Scruton had stumbled into more James-Bond mystique than most ginger-haired philosophy dons could hope for. It would be almost cliche, then, for an exotic young thing to throw herself at him. Wry-smiling, stunning Basia was no cliche, though. Or rather, if she were, it would be the cliche in a kind of story too little told these days to count as cliche anymore.

Basia, at 26, the oldest, most academically-advanced of the bright young things attending Scruton’s summer lectures and their unofficial leader, was an uppity young woman with a checkered past. She wasted little time with Scruton: after his second day in Kazimierz, she waylaid him in the woods to announce she noticed no ring on his finger. Such a frank admission of desire seems likely to end in embarrassment all round whether the desire is reciprocated or not, and perhaps it would have if it weren’t accompanied by her equally frank admission that consummating desire was not her aim:

Mary Katharine Ham and Lyndsey Fifield dig into the science behind Enneagrams, love languages, and other personality tests to reveal how they maintain friendships with a tight crew of ladybrains.

What’s Truly Important

 

I’m a bit depressed this morning. Normally I make an effort not to let the ugliness and destructiveness of the news get me down. But the world weighs heavily on my shoulders today: feckless actions by Macron, the usual contradictions by Trump, efforts to pass anti-Semitic/anti-Israel bills in Congress (which I will write about later). I can’t find the space to let in the joy and knowledge of blessings. And then I remember that in one hour, I will do something good.

On Monday mornings I visit with my friend, Earl. He is 88 years old. I’ve written about him before—his concerns about racism (he’s black and liberal), Donald Trump, the state of the world.

You Are My Teachers

 

On a whim, I checked the number of posts I’ve made: 736! I’ve also made 16,236 comments. But the number that moves me the most is the number of posts promoted to the Main Feed: 400.

That last number suggests that I reflect on its significance. It means that I wrote many posts that many of you decided deserved extra attention. (Yes, it also means you might really like me! At least you might like my writing enough to read my post!)