Sunday, June 8, 2008

Graduation Saturday, & Elling

Yesterday afternoon was prime-time for high-school graduation parties in parents' backyards.
I set out with my camera to such a party for a wonderful daughter of friends.
I biked there on the Greenway bikepath, which runs from the nearby lakes to the Mississippi River.
The path's entrance in my neighborhood is markedly inner-city:

I biked past one of my favorite messages, on the wall of a Somali restaurant:

This weekend gas hovered near $4/gallon for the first time.
As I stood with my bike to photograph these chairs on a lawn, an old guy walking past joked, "How many miles per gallon do you get on that thing?"
The price has risen so rapidly, people are in shock. With job losses and house foreclosures piling up, it seems like the first time the cost of war (et cetera) has really hit the homefront hard.

This independent bookstore along the way is closing. It began in the days of 1970s feminism. While I hate to see it close, I'm glad there's not the same need for a special store to represent women in print anymore.

The Germanic reward for a long bike on a humid day: Black Forest (cherry chocolate) cake--and beer from Milwaukee.

I fondly remember this young woman and her sister putting on a magic show for her parents and me, when they little girls. Now she is an accomplished pianist who's heading off to study neuroscience (or astronauting), and her sister's going to spend a junior-year semester in London.

Not being a parent, I lack the gradual reminders children provide of time passing. So events like this graduation provide a crash course. For instance, I am surprised, looking at the yearbook, that the GLBT Pride group gets a full spread. For that matter, I'm surprised the whole yearbook is in full color, which just goes to show...

Afterward, I spent the evening reading Madame Prime Minister, the autobiography of former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (left).

(Brundtland is currently working as a United Nations' envoy on climate change.)

This is actually another Movie Moment: I picked the book up because it's the book Elling (Per Christian Ellefsen, right), the anxiety-ridden main character, is reading throughout one of my favorite movies: Elling (Norway, 2001).

Despite the dreadful problems Brundtland addresses, I see why Elling found her autobiography comforting. She's very calm and competent, just the sort one would hope was making the Big Decisions. Not at all the sort of person who would need to take to her couch just because she finds herself in the demographic--"older women"--that mourns Hillary's defeat instead of in the one that is pondering the possibility of getting a job on the International Space Station.

The book, too, reminded me that the world is so different for women in the West than it was when I graduated from high school thirty years ago.
For better and for worse.
Brundtland says:
1. "The myth that men are the economic providers and women, mainly, are mothers and care givers in the family has now been thoroughly refuted. This family pattern has never been the norm, except in a narrow middle-class segment."

2. "Unless we start immediately fulfilling the Kyoto Protocol and then continuing with a broader basis with all countries involved, this is going to get completely out of control and we will not be able to cap carbon dioxide levels. It’s a drama playing itself out in front of us, where we are still able to change a very dangerous scenario but we cannot wait....
What kind of world is it if we think in traditional terms of competitive advantage, ... and at same time we lose the future for our children due to our lack of action in a situation that is irreversible?
We must be active now."


poodletail said...

Regarding Brundtland's point no.2, it's getting harder for me to express joy at at a friend's or friend's child's pregnancy. I wonder what people tell themselves about the world we're leaving for children and grandchildren. If I know the person well enough I ask them if they're not worried. So far the answer has always been a nervous laugh and "I try not to think about that". Cripes.

But ... my sweet niece, Catalina, graduated from high school last week and I'm thrilled and awed by her attitude that the world is her oyster!

bink said...

Commenting on poodletail's comment...when wasn't the world a scary and dreadful place to bring children into? The horrors are different but really--on an individual level--no more dreadful than before...I mean if death/dying in misery is the biggest fear people have for their children does it matter weather the cause is globel warming and Iranian bombs or a Trojan horse and the black plague?

Of course we can damage such large parts of the earth all at once now, we certainly should be working to charge that and make the world a better place. When good people willingly bring children into the world I see that as contributing hope for the future--and the very children who will be the best agents of change in that future, because they were given the blessings of love as a birthright.

Anonymous said...

hey, i can comment. thanks for changing format. but i could only see one of your pics, the piano hands which i liked. after i viewed that one, all the little red "x" went away. intereting bike ride. i want to get a scooter once i land whereever it is that i'm going to land.

in a previous post. i loved your description of little 3 yr old you pulling up the poeny by the roots!
and the peony pic was lovely. so glad you changed your comment set up.

fresca said...

Anonymous: Welcome! I'm glad you can comment on this non-pop-up comment format. (But don't forget to sign your name, if not signed in--I figure this is Mary.)

Poodle & Bink: You both express my [contradictory] feelings: distress and awe... + a sense that human life has always been thus.
(And heck, even bad people unwillingly bringing kids into the world contributes hope--who knows who will save or delight us, eh?!)

So, how do *we* best navigate these treacherous waters?

Anonymous said...

By using a sailboat instead of a set of jet ski's; by recycling, by trying to get media reform, by using a bike instead of the car when at all possible..or trading in the SUV.
By reading and understanding different cultures, by practising tolerance, and paying attention. By speaking out against injustice.

And by navigating your life as fully and beautifully as a spinnaker sail in the sun on a wind-blown sea.

bink said...

I want to add that my first comment is really my responce to people I know who have babies... so it doesn't express my full philosophy. What I want to add is that some of the best people--who improve and change the world--sometimes come into life unplanned, unwanted, and unloved.
So who is to say where our hope should spring from?

ddip said...

I went to a graduation party last weekend too, for a niece (in law). I was struck by two things:

1) how much the world of sports has opened up this girl's life (and her family's) to the Big World, and

2) how the price of gas is really beginning to impact people's choices. One of my brother's in law (retired) is now bicycling around town to do errands. Okay, so he's got a battery-powered bicycle (who knew they even existed) for going up hills, but it's not a car!