each with a story to tell…

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a favorite jazz station, the music playing in the background. I remember nothing else the deejay said except that each of us is looking to tell our own story. Those words have stayed with me, coming to the forefront when I listen to other people speak, whether in person, on TV, on the radio, or read what they’ve written, or what’s written about them.

It’s as though I’m watching a larger-than-life screening of “This is your life!”, a TV reality show from the 50’s, hosted by Ralph Edwards. Using a scrapbook with photos from the person’s life throughout the years, Edwards surprised the person whose life was featured, with people from his or her past. While not exactly the same, I tend to listen to someone’s story as though I’m looking through a View Master…one slide at a time…click, click…click, click.

I think perhaps we’re all looking for legitimacy. We want to make sure we’ve made our mark, before exiting this life. We want someone to remember that we were here. So we tell our own story…every day. The trick is getting others to listen. And the only way we know for sure is if they engage in conversation…telling us their story. And so it goes…back and forth…round and round.

The main characters of the show. (Background, ...

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While most of us engage in modest storytelling, there are those who have taken it to a whole other level…on reality TV. The Kardashians have allowed us to move in with them, and as a result we’re privvy to their successes, and their foibles. In The Biggest Loser the challengers look to us for support and compassion as they wage a desperate fight against obesity. Even in the sitcom Everybody Loves RaymondRay Romano encourages us to laugh at his display of idiocy. I’ve heard much of it is reflective of his true self. Maybe he loves playing the fool. Nothing wrong with that. It’s his story, after all.

Blogging is a very good example of storytelling. We’re all telling our own life stories…in our own way…on our own terms…in our own good time. I don’t think we intentionally write to be validated; but we like it when we are. Storytelling is like reruns of our favorite TV show, mine being I Love Lucy. We never tire of telling our favorites. If you’ve read hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul from its inception, you’ve heard me relate some of my stories…

time………and time………again………hugmamma.     

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daily post challenge #197: why are reality tv shows so popular?

Might it be a subconscious desire to “keep up with the Jonses?”…but in reverse? “How’s that?” you say. What if instead of wanting to be like the stars of reality TV shows, we want to make sure we’re not like them at all, or that we’re better than them? Kind of a convoluted way of thinking. But isn’t life these days…convoluted? twisted?

The Bachelor (TV series)

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Who would have thought guys and gals would flock before the cameras for a chance to win the heart of the opposite sex? Twenty five single or divorced men and women do just that every season on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Go figure. Millions of viewers, including me, tune in to see the unfolding drama of men and women dissing each other to their faces, or behind their backs. There’s no shame, no embarrassment, no “What are my family and friends going to think?” The star of the show is kissed and cuddled and who know’s what else, by as many people to whom they find themselves attracted. After all “the end justifies the means,” and they have to “kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince, or princess,” and “the game’s the thing.”

My daughter, who also watches now and then, swears off ever wanting to be a contestant on The Bachelorette. Thank God! I’d probably want to string some guy up by his toes if he ever toyed with my daughter and made her cry, in front of an audience of millions. I know, I know. These people deserve what they get because they’ve opted to look foolish. Well yes, but my daughter’s still my daughter. I’d expect most parents of these frolicking singles are mortified to see what goes on with their children…and not behind closed doors!

Jill Zarin and Dina Manzo

Image by pamhule via Flickr

Just as I watch swinging singles get together, or try to get together, I use to spend time with The Housewives…of Orange County…of New York…of New Jersey…of Beverly Hills. Why did I bother? Knowing that most of these women are wealthy, or aspire to be wealthy, I was curious. I was also hopeful they’d be nice people. After watching several seasons of a combination of the various ones, I can count on one hand how many were, and remain, women I’d befriend…in another life, of course. In my current one, we’d never, ever cross paths.

Restored Victorian mansions on Bergen Avenue

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I enjoy watching HGTV shows where couples or families are seeking new living quarters. Again, I’m mentally comparing my life with theirs, whether as young marrieds, parents, or empty nesters. I’m amazed at the amount of money folks are plunking down for homes these days. This, probably our last home, cost us in the high $200,000’s some 14 years ago. How can couples in their late 20’s and early 30’s afford to buy mega homes  for 3 times what we paid in our 50’s? It’s mind-boggling! But it’s also a sign of the times.

Bill gates' house2

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The dot.com generation has money to burn. Forget manufacturing, agriculture, construction. People in those occupations are becoming what housecleaners, fruit pickers, and landscape workers are to my generation. Employees of Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple pay others to custom-make whatever they fancy, often dine at up-and-coming, new wave eateries, and oversee the building of fantasy homes.

So you see, I’m just your average middle-class, suburban housewife, eyeballing what others have and how they live. But in all truth, it’s not because I want what they have or want their lives. Whether it’s that my Catholic education continues to hold sway, or that my imagination allows me to momentarily insert myself into someone else’s life, when I switch off the TV I thank my lucky stars for the life that’s mine. But I can’t pass judgment on those who are in reality TV, for I’ve no clue…

what their own lives are like…so to each her own…hugmamma.

Reality

Image by Adam Crowe via Flickr

artists, “children of god”

Dancer performing Fouetté en tournant. A dance...

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Regular readers of my blog are aware that my daughter is a professional ballet dancer. It’s no secret that I’ve felt superstar athletes could do a good turn for their peers working in less financially advantageous careers, dancers being one such group. No NFL, NBA, or baseball player will deny that dancers are highly underrated athletes. Not too long ago, professional football players were taking ballet classes to supplement their training. Think “light on their feet,” and you’ll get the picture.

When 9-11 occurred, I silently gave thanks that my daughter had chosen to pursue a career in the arts. While not viewed as financially essential to the community at large, I think the arts represent the better side of human nature and, therefore, are necessary for civilization. Remove the arts, and we are no better than the beasts we confine in cages, or hunt down for our personal aggrandizement. Remove the arts, and we would be no better than the terrorists who killed Americans in blind obedience to their baser instincts, disguised as martyrs to their religious beliefs.

While those who do not partake of the arts might feel they reap no benefits from federal funding to the National Endowment of the Arts, I say think of it as an investment in our humanity. It’s a small price to pay that we remain more God-like, than that we return to crawling in the dirt like the serpent.

Dance, even ballet, is no longer a past time for the wealthy. As current reality TV shows demonstrate, the young, and not-so-young, are flocking to the dance floor and the stages. Joyfully, enthusiastically, they are overflowing with positive, creative juices as they strut their stuff. Many entertain the hope to one day dance professionally. I can tell you from my daughter’s experience, there is not the money to sustain such a workforce, unlike that which sustains billion dollar sports clubs, and 3 foreign wars.

ABT Principal dancer Xiomara Reyes, in a 2006 ...

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One beautiful dancer, like my daughter, reminds me to be compassionionate, to be hopeful, to be humble, to be grateful, to be thoughtful, to be forgiving. While these are not winning entries in a mega-millions powerball lottery, these intangible gestures of good will are of immeasurable value in who we are as children of God.

So I disagree with Sarah Palin who decries the National Endowment for the Arts as “frivolous.” It’s more likely that the “bridge to nowhere” was superfluous, as admitted by Alaskans themselves. 

Sarah Palin trashes National Endowment for the Arts

Palin JUSTIN LANE EPA Television commentator and half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin trashed the National Endowment for the Arts recently, describing the agency as “frivolous” in a Thursday interview on a Fox News talk show.

“NPR, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, all those kind of frivolous things that government shouldn’t be in the business of funding with tax dollars — those should all be on the chopping block as we talk about the $14-trillion debt that we’re going to hand to our kids and our grandkids,” Palin told right-wing host Sean Hannity. “Yes, those are the type of things that for more than one reason need to be cut.”

Palin did not elaborate on what the other reasons might be for chopping the NEA budget. But the government of every major civilization in world history has also prominently funded the arts.

The comment about the NEA came during a discussion of the ailing U.S. economy. Palin is certainly conversant with frivolous activity, but her grasp of the economy is weak.

Debt reduction would barely be affected by penciling out the small federal arts agency, which currently operates on a $161-million annual budget. Palin’s support of a federal subsidy for the notorious “bridge to nowhere” in her state became a campaign issue when she ran for vice president on the 2008 Republican ticket. That local project carried a price tag of $223 million.

“Reality is we have 15 million Americans who are out of work,” said Palin. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 5.7 million jobs and generates $166.2 billion in annual economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts. The NEA is one linchpin in that sizable economy.

In the interview Palin made no statement advocating similar budget cuts to her home state as she recommended for the NEA, which is also in the cross hairs of Washington’s Republican leadership. Palin’s Alaska gets $1.84 in federal spending for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes.