Friday, July 26, 2013


“True humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It’s thinking of yourself less,” C.S. Lewis

Although I’m familiar with “The Chronicles of Narnia,” I’m not much of a C.S. Lewis fan, but I like his quote about humility, which I found in a Steve Rushin Sports Illustrated column.  Rushin argued that while today’s star athletes, such as Derek Jeter and Tom Brady, seem less self-absorbed than during the era of Muhammad Ali, Brian Bosworth and Evel Knieval, social media aficionados are more narcissistic than ever.  As an example, he cited a tweeter who said he’d run onto the field at the All-Star game if he got a thousand “likes,” and he subsequently did.  As one who keeps a blog, I think and write about myself more than most folks, I reckon (as my mentor, Carrol Vertrees, would say), but hopefully to serve a social purpose other than simple self-promotion.

I had a couple weird dreams.  First, I was looking for my glasses and came upon dozens of pairs lying around but none that was mine.  Then I was out running with legendary track star Marce Gonzalez, whose photo I’d come across the day before in connection with the Indiana Track and Field Hall of Fame.  When we moved to Miller in the 1970s, it was a common sight to spot Marce running along the beach or on Oak Avenue. The last time I saw Marce, who died in 2009, he was in the gas station on Route 12 across from Ogden Dunes, lamenting being unable any longer to run.  In my dream he looked old but was jogging and gave me a thumbs up as he passed me by.
 Marce Gonzalez (on right) in 1980

In Gender Studies class we discussed Andrew Solomon’s lecture “Love, No Matter What,” based on the book “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.”  Solomon described how children with disabilities such as dwarfism, deafness, autism, or mental retardation need three levels of acceptance – familial, social and, most of all, self-acceptance.  Solomon’s husband, journalist John Habich, is the biological father of two children, as is he.  Solomon asserted that one’s love for their children is unlike anything in the world, a feeling I experienced in an overwhelming way when Phil and Dave came into the world.  In 2001 Solomon wrote “Noontime Demon: An Atlas of Depression” after himself trying to cope with witnessing his mother’s planned suicide when she was in the final stages of ovarian cancer.

The consensus in class is that saying “Hi, guys” to a group containing both men and women, something I often do, is sexist.  Students advised me that “Hi, folks” was preferable.  While discussing abortion, still so stigmatized that Women’s Studies textbooks rarely examine the subject, Anne mentioned Chicago’s Jane Collective, which for five years prior to Roe v. Wade provided abortions to women in need using safe and effective techniques.  The procedure took place at an apartment, in a reception area where children were welcome and snacks served to visitors.

Students, all women, have started doing certain things that go against traditional conventions regarding gender roles, such as being more assertive and less humble.  Anne recently received from University of North Carolina Press the proposed cover for “Steel Closets” and showed it to her English Comp class.  Her Gender Studies students wanted to see it, so daughter Emma (there because we had plans to have dinner afterwards at Abuelo’s in Merrillville) found it on her IPhone and passed it around.  Our party of five at Abuelo’s included Anne and students Beth LaDuke and Alyssa Black.  Alyssa dated Fred McColly’s son Seamus for four years, and her mother was an IUN Nursing instructor.  Beth, briefly an Archives intern, presently works in Admissions.  Everyone got along famously, and afterwards Alyssa and Beth went back to Miller with Emma to help feed turtles and beaver in the marsh behind neighbor Bob Calvert’s house.  Bob is in Alaska fishing for salmon, so Emma, who has fed bread to the turtles and carrots to the beaver many times, is filling in for him.  Beth, too, has experience, as seen in a photo taken the day of Emma’s birthday party.  A bunch of Amma’s friends ate at Sage restaurant after she posted a rave review on Tumblr.
above, from left, Emma, Beth, Riva; below, Jimbo and Bob Calvert

A letter to the Post-Tribune argued that Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson should concentrate on cleaning up Gary rather than participate in demonstrations protesting the George Zimmerman verdict.  What does one have to do with the other?  In fact, all great executives realize that their role is partly inspirational and, in the Mayor’s case, goes beyond tearing down abandoned buildings or making sure garbage is collected on time.

Emily Ricketts, Joe’s younger sister, died a while back, Phil Arnold informed me.  Joe and I were high school buddies, and I wanted to ask her out, only she was dating someone else.  At my fiftieth reunion Emily had breakfast with Joe, wife Barbara, and me.  I was impressed with how friendly she was and what a charming adult she had become. 

Jerry Pierce, teaching at Penn State Hazelton while Gretchen is at Shippensburg University, reports that their move to a new house is almost complete EXCEPT “contractors added an unexpected skylight . . . with their foot through my ceiling, in the living room, which we had just finished painting.”  Oops!
Patrick Ridgely ordered three more Shavings issues after receiving volume 42 – “Age of Anxiety,” the Seventies, and  “Gary’s First Hundred Years.”  On orders from the university I have started a ledger listing incoming checks with name and date.

Chris Young has moved into his new office as director of CISTL.  I told him about John Dos Passos’s “The Shackles of Power,” and he recommended Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American family in Hitler’s Berlin.”  It deals with U. of Chicago history professor William E. Dodd, whom FDR named ambassador to Germany in 1933, and his vivacious daughter Martha.  I’ve read Larson’s “The Devil in the White City” and will try to find “In the Garden.”

Richard Roeper gave “The Wolverine” three stars, so I checked it out even though I generally dislike movies based on Marvel comics.  While I was not overly impressed, the three main women characters, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yukio (Rila Fukushima), and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) were interesting.

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