Monday, October 29, 2012
Studs Terkel, our national treasure and oral historian concluded in his book Working, "Your work is your identity." Sure is. Not only do we identify ourselves by what we do, we lose that identity when we have nothing to do or no longer work. This conclusion that Terkel reached after interviewing hundreds of people in a wide variety of professions is hardly shocking. Americans have valued work from the early days of the republic. It's a huge part of our national character. In fact, we value hard work so much that when faced with the trauma of job loss, or career changes, or loss of satisfaction in the workplace, we often blame ourselves. From the Great Depression of the 1930s right on through to today's stagnant economy, we have been living with identity crises that stem from work. For a teacher this loss of identity is particularly difficult. I know a few folks that have had a difficult time adjusting to their like after teaching. Their identity changes literally, from Mr.or Ms. whomever to just a first name. That's the least of concerns. Since teaching is so all-consuming, the sudden loss of all the necessities can be jolting. Who am I now that I am no longer Mr. Greene? I think I know. But for many it's a real conundrum.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I’ve been a Giants fan for over 50 years. The great teams of the 1950s are hazy childhood memories. My first recollection of the New York Giants being “my team” goes back to the seven year old days of my life when I would retreat to the backyard of my folks little S. California post-war home and practice making Willie Mays’ catch from the ’54 World Series. Not the over the shoulder basket catch that has become an iconic moment, but a jumping version I thought would suffice. Last night, as the final Presidential debate dominated most of the news stations, the Giants again made it to the World Series with a scrappy little team that refused to quit. As President Obama showered Mitt Romney with his forthright, measured foreign policy salvos, the Giants lived up to their name in the San Francisco rain. Nice evening. While I can’t share my politics with my father, every post-season Giants game he’s with me. The transplanted New Yorker, like the team, gave me a love of baseball that has endured for almost 60 years. Growing up a Giants fan in Los Angeles took a bit of toughness too. It served me well. So I’ll watch the World Series, but the best of the season is already over. Another Series win would be nice, but it’s not necessary after the 2010 victory. That was a “one time before I die” experience for this Giants fan.
Friday, October 19, 2012
It happens with increased frequency. In fact, I like to tell myself that I must have been knighted. That's the only explanation for being called "sir" so many times these days. I know it's a sign of respect. It's also a sign of age or experience or even good home training. I'm not complaining, just taking note. Occasionally I'll get called "young man." A bit condescending since I'm retired. Guess it depends on the age of the person doing the calling. Sir comes with age. It's a constant reminder, but not the only one.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I've seen a lot of them lately. Usually in book stores. These pictures of musicians, writers, generational icons. These pictures of familiar faces grown old. In his new autobiography Neil Young does it perfectly. On the cover is a picture of him, very intense, as he appears today. On the back cover is the same kind of picture of Neil Young in his prime.