A Forum article this week featured North Dakota statistics from a national study about teenagers that has good news and bad news: good news is that fewer kids are smoking, drinking, having sex and texting while driving; however, bad news is that cyber bullying rose from "17.1 percent" in 2013 "to 18.8 percent" this year, suicide attempts went "from 11.5 percent to 13.5 percent" and even more dramatically, the percentage who felt sad or hopeless increased from "25.4 percent in 2013 to 28.9 percent in 2017." That's inching up towards one out of every three kids.
After the usual Thanksgiving excess, I thought leftovers would last a week. But they didn't, and I headed to the grocery store for a quick stop. No such luck. Right by the door with an American flag pinned to her parka, a Union Jack stocking cap on her head, and a sign in her hands reading "Love Wins" was Mary Contrary. "Hey, Sunshine, want to sign my card congratulating Harry and Meghan?" I suppose I sighed, because she added, "You do know Prince Harry is going to marry an American named Meghan Markle?" "Of course, Mary, but I can't see the point of a card."
Beginning with the Harvey Weinstein story, the floodgates of sexual harassment and assault stories opened. The results are astounding: Society must grapple with the reality that #MeToo experiences encompass the vast majority of women. We're still in the hopeful phase that the outpouring of accusations against men in a variety of fields will bring good results—reckoning that prompts change rather than backlash—regardless of who gets washed out of public life in the process.
In a short piece for the New York Times, writer Masha Gessen talked of her deceased mother, Yelena Gessen, a Russian-language literary critic. Masha wrote of finding a short essay her mother had written. It began, "How does a strange land become your home? I don't know. It's a mysterious and incomprehensible process. Yet, bit by bit, the streets of a strange city take on memories of their own and you stop wandering along them like a detached shadow—you become a traveler like all the others."
The old God joke goes like this: A man stuck on a rooftop in a flood prays to God for help. Along comes a guy in a rowboat who says, "Jump in. I can save you." "No, it's okay. I'm praying to God. God will save me." The rowboat leaves and along comes a guy in a motorboat who hollers, "Jump in. I'll save you." "No, I have faith that God will save me." The motorboat leaves and a helicopter shows up. The pilot shouts, "Grab the rope I drop and I'll lift you to safety." "No, I'm praying to God. God will save me."
"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." So wrote the poet Emily Dickinson in an 1865 letter to a friend. She went on to mention November "noons...more laconic" and "sunsets sterner," along with references to deaths and illnesses of people she knew. Guessing neither November nor Norway were her favorites?
If the picture of the Flood Diversion Task Force members on the front page of the Oct. 24th Forum is the gauge, women don't have much at stake in flood control. Of the 18 faces, only four are female. Actually, three of the four are among the nine on the Minnesota side of the task force; of the nine on the North Dakota side, there is one. The story by Tu-Uyen Tran goes on to say, "The task force is designed to include diverse opinions." Given the pictures, that line might more appropriately read that the task force is designed to include diverse male opinions.
When the Boy Scouts of America made the surprise announcement that young girls can be Cub Scouts and older girls work for the Eagle Scout award, the Girl Scouts of America weren't pleased. A GSA board member told ABC news, "The Boy Scouts' house is on fire. Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement, and deficient programming, BSA's senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls."
Having been away from news for a week, I was blissfully unaware of the Harvey Weinstein revelations concerning his decades of sexually bullying underlings and actresses. (Yet another powerful man is exposed as predator and sleaze. Sigh.) Hearing the disgusting tale brought to mind my mother and my granddaughter. The phrase echoing in my head? "Same old, same old."
The mass of balloons near the automatic door to the grocery store should have been my first clue, but I thought they were part of a store promotion. Then I heard a familiar voice yelling, "Hey Sunshine, want to pop a few illusions and delusions some important North Dakotans were ready to foist on us?" There in a clown suit, sporting a big red nose that made a goose-honk noise when she squeezed it was Mary Contrary. "No time, Mary. I've got pheasant chili on the stove but no cumin. I must get right back home." "Your cumin can wait while you 'cum-on' over, Sunshine."