Working in Washington DC you can easily develop a sort of dour attitude about the seemingly "superficial" delights of shopping.
Let's be honest: We pride ourselves on being "policy" people, wonks. There are a lot of PhDs, JDs, MBAs, MDs, and pretty much every other acronym you can think of around here. We live to work hard, study up, and maybe go hiking on the weekend.
As a result, again let's just face it, the folks around here are not the best-dressed people in the country. Maybe the clothes themselves are expensive, but they tend to be highly utilitarian, very serious, and we don't like frivolous people. To illustrate I snapped the pic below (cropped the faces out so as not to embarrass anyone).
Contrast this image with...well pretty much any random person in New York.
In New York, looking seriously good is nothing less than a requirement. (Photo by Helen Alfvegren via Flickr/Creative Commons) And I think you could say the same about places like Miami or LA as well.
...and, back to DC:
Living here for so long I've gotten out of touch with my passion for fashion. But that part of me is slowly coming back again.
I think it's because I had a little bit of time off recently, and spent it not writing constantly, but hanging around at the mall. And watching a few of the latest episodes of Shark Tank--the one show my entire family seems to like.
Doing this I realized that not everything in life has to be so serious. We marketers sometimes put our own profession down....I'm not sure why that is, maybe some of us have seen unethical stuff or realized that the world has much bigger problems than launching a new brand of skateboards.
I feel a stirring in me. I'm going back to a time of my youth that was full of excitement, when I literally papered the walls of my room with tear-outs from the pages of Vogue.
"All good things in moderation," they say.
Enjoy your life. Enjoy yourself, whatever your passion may be.
All opinions my own. Photo by Oleksii Leonov via Flickr (Creative Commons)
There has never been a time in my life when I've not been afraid. Like most people I am fond of having relationships and a livelihood and when you stand up for your principles it is easy to jeopardize those.
Theoretically of course you can tell yourself that doing the right thing is just the right thing to do and not to be afraid. Or that G-d is in charge, so serve Him and don't fear others.
But when you're in the situation itself, and everyone else seems to be "going along with the program," things get a little bit tougher. You stack up the pain of being a bystander to bad behavior, or a victim of it, with the fear of being punished for acting.
And the things you see can get pretty bad. Like the other day, on social media, a video was circulating strictly of men punching women right in the face. A short rat-a-tat-tat of clips punctuated by the guys saying things like, "you want to be treated like a man? HERE."
I had a friend at work who used to say--and when she said this she was not joking--that "no good deed goes unpunished" in the realm of the working world.
This same friend also told me that executives are hired specifically for the amount of dirt their bosses can threaten them with: "This is how they keep their people in line."
She mentioned an executive with a proclivity for beating his wife. "They" apparently knew about it. The woman burst in on my friend's home one night, well past midnight, badly bruised on her face.
My friend, who was no stranger to men behaving badly on the job and getting away with it, held her hand and wiped her face off.
A law enforcement officer stands up against an operation that crossed the line. Career over.
Journalists who ask too many questions endanger themselves as well. Sometimes they get killed.
You would have to be crazy not to be afraid. (Honestly, if there is no G-d, then fighting a corrupt system tends to be illogical from the standpoint of self-preservation.)
So it's hard to say what makes a person get up and fight back against corruption. For me --I'm a Pisces, a fish--the dirty waters make me feel like I am gasping for air. I cannot breathe unless somehow I swim against that tide.
This is not to give you advice. Standing up and being heard is dangerous.
Accordingly, no matter how you activate your conscience, you can be sure that this will always come with a healthy dose of fear.
All opinions my own. Photo by loveiswritten via Flickr (Creative Commons).
In my family we did not talk about sex. Sex was dirty. Dirty people did dirty things. And we were religious, therefore not dirty.
But the grownups all had ways of talking about sex, without — you know — really talking about it.
For example, once I found a very explicit novel inside our bathroom, on the closed-up storage shelf on the right side of the toilet seat, next to the extra roll of t.p.
Now you probably know that porn itself is X-rated. And so the concept of a highly “descriptive” novel — even with all the hot and heavy writing involved — well it doesn’t seem to add up.
I totally get that. I do. But you have to remember that I grew up in a half-Chasidish, half-Litvak, fully Orthodox-yeshivish home where even the sight of a National Geographic cover was considered wildly sexual.
So how did I find the “romance” novel?
Usually in the bathroom, in that place next to the spare roll of t.p., there was a Newsweek. I sometimes would open up the magazine to read a particularly promising article, only to find the pages stuck together by wads of snot.
So I avoided actually looking there for things to read.
But one time I did need more toilet paper, and so I opened it.
There sat a very different kind of reading material.
The cover said “The Story of Q,” and I knew right away.
Of course I opened up the book and started flipping through the pages. No snot there.
I remember the shock that coursed through my body, that feeling of having seen something you didn’t want to know about. That feeling that you somehow could not escape knowing it. Even before your hands ever touched the paper, before your eyes fixed on the glossy skin of the title.
It was the secret of your home, the gartel belt between private and public.
I can’t explain what I felt back then. Maybe it was relief. There is normalcy in my world after all. I am not living on some kind of Eunuch planet, with people who don’t feel or experience a passion for life.
Sex is an aspect of that passion, but in my world it was virtuous to keep it completely repressed. Underground.
I think of that day today, as I watch all the crazy hullabaloo that has descended upon this presidential election.
The fact of the matter is, over the past twenty years or so, political correctness has taken hold. Speech police and all.
Things that were considered ordinary in the 1990s, like calling someone “piggy,” is now an occasion for wrath.
Meanwhile, the most important issues for a nation — security, the economy, healthcare, housing and education — these go un-discussed, go into the ground.
All we can talk about is micro-aggressions, that this one pointed to that one’s “pee-pee.”
Look: You can’t judge the present by the past.
If somebody steps up and wants to lead — if their actions speak louder than their words, and if they are sorry for the bad things they’ve said and done before — then that’s good enough for me.
Angels can live only in heaven.
All opinions my own.