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Number of posts: 11
Email address: email
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Posts by Susan Soper:
The Devil's Time
As most of us are struggling, albeit happily, to “spring ahead” – rising an hour earlier, adjusting to darker mornings and lighter nights – there is one anti-DST protester who has just said good-bye to all that.
Each morning, we wake up to Morning Edition on NPR and usually hear a jarring barrage of campaign orations, weather reports or obituaries (recently: Helen Gurley Brown).
At this rainy August dawn, I picked up on something that’s apparently been going on all summer but escaped my drowsy attention: A series called “Dead Stop” – visits to cemeteries and burial grounds across the country. I went online to see what I had missed and thought these stories of significant – or insignificant – and off-beat, quirky stories worth sharing.
Nora Ephron was forever young and forever funny. And all of a sudden, she’s gone!
So many of us could relate to her writings, musings, movies and books – not to mention a failed marriage or botched film that made her really human to her fans. When I was starting my own writing career in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, she was writing essays for Esquire that were always pithy, self-effacing and spot on. If you never read, “A Few Words about Breasts” check it out.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 hovers around us all this week, it’s difficult for those of us who didn’t suffer the direct hit – whether in human loss or up-close trauma – to think about how we can pay tribute to those who died, to those who saved, and to those who were left behind to endure their grief.
Never before had our country been so publicly bombarded with every moment of that horrific tragedy, shown over and over on televisions that day and on every anniversary since. Never before has the grieving, and sometimes healing, process been so publicly dissected, discussed and photographed as for those who lost parents, children, spouses, siblings.
And those of us who didn’t lose a friend, relative or co-worker still lost so much else …
Ryan Means had dreamed of joining the Army since the age of six, but it was not until his childhood playmate and best buddy Adam White was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers that he was mobilized into action. The despair of riding his bike around New York City, posting flyers, checking in with hospitals, and, finally, accepting that Adam was dead were more than he could take sitting down. He never sat down much, anyway. After a couple of years of percolating grief, resolve and rage, Ryan, then 31, left his career in New York and, with Adam’s initials tattooed on his torso, enlisted in the Army, determined to “get” Osama Bin Laden …
With Memorial Day approaching, any story about a soldier who is willing to serve, to give his life, to go after the enemy can stand in for the many thousands of stories out there – all of them worthy. But though Memorial Day recognizes service members who’ve died in battle, this isn’t a story about a soldier killed in combat.
It was the kind of bright blue sky you find only in October as dozens of people gathered in Suwanee, Ga. to pay tribute to Thomas Joseph Rees.
The obit was compelling:
“Fighter by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice and Uncle Sam’s Marching Clown forever.” So, too, was the service for the 62-year-old former Marine who “enjoyed beautiful women, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Camel cigarettes, fast cars…”
The family gathered on the front porch of the home, facing us: the 87-year old mother, a sister, one surviving brother, spouses, assorted nieces and nephews. The Marine honor guard was off to the side. And behind us, about two dozen men and women dressed in jeans, bandanas, caps, boots and vests filled with military medals stood dead still holding large American flags.
Is it still early enough in January to be dishing about New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s an idea that’s pretty unique. Not to mention generous: giving away 100 bucks a day. Every day. For a year.
You don’t need to do the math: $36,500. Pay it forward!
Full disclosure: The auteur/donor of this year long project is my boss’s wife. But spreading the word about this is more about spreading the wealth than sucking up. As Betty Londergan likes to say, “I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
There’s something about being a writer that leads people to confide in me. Think about that. Why tell a writer, a person who uses life itself as raw material, your deepest secrets. But tell me they do, and sometimes their secrets break my heart. Through my writing and books, I meet a lot of people. Some become friends. I’ve come to know women who confided in me just how much they hated their father. They had reason. So they say. Several told me how hard life was with an alcoholic father. Others talked about how abusive their dads were, and some fel Read on →
Author's Note: Not to be read while you’re eating. This time “What’s on your mind?” is not a fatuous question on Facebook, it’s a medical matter It started bugging me in April last year, and 14 months later it’s getting on my nerves. I need that like a hole in the head. A gentle tickle in the face, not bad at all, escalated as the weeks went by. Why was I getting a sore sensation from the upper lip to the right temple? It’s like the pain you feel when a bad throat infection makes it painful to swallow, except it’s in the face. I con Read on →
That is the 21st Century question. Whether agents of government are tasked with telling the public what to do or, as the United States Constitution suggests, are to limit themselves to prohibiting socially injurious behaviors by individuals and corporations. Republicans, being descendants of royalists, whose model of social organization is the family with its paternalistic head of household, continue to hold fast to the belief that their fellow man needs to be strictly ruled. Because people doing their own thing make them feel really insecure. This is what accounts for the sudden resurgence of legislation all over the country, some organized by Read on →
There are many congressional districts where Democrats have nearly zero chance of winning anytime soon. The recent victory of the disgraced Mark Sanford in a South Carolina congressional race shows how safe a Republican seat can be. The difficulty of winning these seats, paradoxically, presents an important opportunity for Democrats. In the short run, the political battle in America is over who will hold the offices where laws get made. In the long run, the battle is over shaping the public consciousness that determines to whom the people will give power. For the latter purpose, Democrats in very red districts can make an Read on →