Elizabeth Warren’s Roots

Since a spontaneous discussion has sprung up about Elizabeth Warren’s announcement that she’s part Cherokee, I thought I would give the discussion its own post.

Steve’s the genealogist in our family. My family really quickly goes back to Ireland and Italy. Between shabby record keeping, small villages where everybody has the same last name, and foreign language issues, I very quickly got a dead-end on my research. Steve  has family on both sides that goes back before the Revolutionary War, so he has easier access to records. He’s probably related to some of you.

Now, let’s talk about Warren. So, her announcement is surely a sign that she’s going to run in 2020. One of my friends on Facebook linked to an article with a headline, “Warren is 1% Cherokee, and 100% Running for President in 2020.” I think she hoped to galvanize the left behind her, as she attacked Trump for his Pocahontas comments, but I’m seeing a lot of “meh” on Twitter. I think it was a misstep.

Alright, let’s talk genealogy. Who has mapped out their families? Any famous relatives? Anybody do the DNA kits? Those kits are apparently a sham, but I got one for Steve for his birthday. My Italian aunt did it and it said that she was 99 percent Italian with 1 percent Eastern European. Steve said that there were supposedly Trojans that when to Italy after the Trojan War, so that might be true.



The Small World of Elites

While on the treadmill at the gym this morning, I watched Willie Geist joke about his common high school with his guest, a political science professor with a new book, on MSNBC. I know all about that high school, because that’s where Jonah went and where we live. And my editor at the major magazine that I know well. I tweeted about it and now we’re all friends, too.

It’s a small world of elites.

I’m not quite sure what the main point of Flanagan’s article was, but she has some nice details about the insider culture of elite schools in the 1980s. It was very, very similar to life at my upper class suburb in the 1980s.

Dan Drezner has a post about how elites are rather clueless about the fact that they are elites and, thus, have no qualms about punching down.

It’s a tribal world of elites, where we protect each other and close ranks. My hubby would point out that this is a cave-man instinct. It’s also something that pissed off people who aren’t in the club. We’ve got to open the doors.

Frats, Beer, and In Loco Parentis

Last Wednesday night, Jonah and two of his housemates went to a frat party two blocks from their off campus house. His roommate, David (name changed), was a member of this fraternity. It’s a high end frat, according to Jonah, and one that he’s considering on pledging.

Everybody had a good time. They connected with friends that they hadn’t seen since last semester. There was a keg of cheap beer, but people weren’t totally smashed at that time. Jonah and his other roommate left early at around midnight, leaving David, a first generation kid whose dad is a pipe fitter from Philadelphia, with his fraternity brothers.

Around 2:00, Jonah was going to sleep and called David twice to see where he was. No answer. In morning, when he was bed was empty, they called him again. No answer.

By mid-afternoon, the housemates were stressed, so they tracked down his girlfriend through Instagram and heard that David had been in an accident on the way home.

It seems that David did come home, but slipped on the front stairs and fell on the back of head on the pavement. There’s a pool of blood about five feet from the stairs. He staggered around for a while, nobody know how long, before the cops found him and took him to the hospital.

He had four skull fractures and bleeding on the brain. At first, his brain was still swelling, and he couldn’t recognize his parents. By last night, he was eating food and his memory was returning. Still, he’s out for the semester with months of speech therapy, at the very least.

Did this happen because of booze or was it a freak accident? While Jonah insists the kid wasn’t smashed, he probably was. If I was the parent, I would have already employed an army of lawyers to wreck unholy vengeance on the university and fraternity. Weirdly, the cops and the university haven’t come by to talk with the kids. When we were there this weekend, I made Steve take pictures of the dried blood puddle, in case the parents should need it in the future.

Jonah was a hot mess, so he came home for the weekend where we babied him with special foods, hugs, and frequent lectures about responsibility, education, and the fragility of brains.

What should we do about fraternities?


What To Do With Kids With High Functioning Autism?

I first wrote this blog post back in October 2013. Due to the mysterious magic of google searches, it is my most popular blog post. I thought I would update it this morning, five years later. 

My son has high functioning autism or Level 1 autism or whatever they’re calling it these days. Because researchers now think that there are many different kinds of autism, my kid’s variety is characterized by speech and social deficits, average to superior IQ, hyperlexia, some anxiety and sensory issues, no obsessions, no stimming.

He’s only a sophomore in small public high school right now. His story isn’t over yet. He still has two more years before graduation, and we face major decisions about his future. Sill, in those five years, he has made so much progress. He’s now completely out of special ed for math, and he participates in after school activities with the typical kids. Even in the past year, he has made stunning changes. We’re now considering future plans for him that were inconceivable when I first wrote this blog post.

Because this blog post brings in so many random parents desperate for answers, I thought I would spend the next thirty minutes writing up what worked for us. Now, I’m not a hundred percent sure that our methods for dealing with my kid’s autism are responsible for these changes. Maybe simple brain maturity would have gotten us to the same point. Maybe these methods only work for my particular kid. I can’t be certain, but just the same, I’ll share.  Continue reading

What’s Going to Happen to the Church (and the impact on everything else)

We’re Catholic. I mean Steve and I are not super Catholic, but we go to church on Sundays. Mostly. Sometimes. Others in my family are Uber-Catholics, especially that one family member who writes occasionally for Catholic think-magazines.

Still, I am sad for my more Catholic family members that this institution is digging its own grave. Their faith is pure, and they’ve been misused by the clergy.

I’m also sad for the communities that they’ve served. In his 80s, my dad volunteers nearly full time for a food pantry at his church that serves 800 families. The other volunteers are also in their 80s without any new recruits to hand out groceries or hand out turkeys at Thanksgiving. In another few years, will this group still exist? Who is going to help those people when those volunteer organizations die out?

Parochial schools are closing all over the country, except when they’ve been able to get their hands on vouchers that keep the doors open. Those schools have relatively low tuition and have served poor urban areas for years. Both my parents benefited from them. Can urban schools absorb new students?

I’m sickened by the stories that are coming out this week. Positively sickened. And I’m so, so sad that along with a diminished church, we’ll lose out on all the charity work and community building that Catholic parishioners have been quietly doing for ages.

Everyday Fashion

Chris, my brother, on the phone: Hi, La. Happy Birthday.
Me: Thanks, Keek.
Chris: Whatcha going to do today?
Me: I’m actually working right now on the stupid xxx article and then I have a 9:30 spin class. At noon, we’re going into the city to go the fashion exhibit at the Met [the Catholic Imagination at the Metropolitan Museum of Art] and then we’ll get Chinese food or something.
Chris: the fashion exhibit? With the boys?
Me: Yeah, it’s my birthday, so they have to do the things that I want to do. So, we’ll walk around looking at dresses making witty remarks. Well, they’ll be slightly bitchy remarks, but we’ll call them witty —
Chris: — a Queer Eye episode in other words.
Me: Exactly. I have to do boy things for 364 days a year, so for my birthday, they have do a girl thing.

And my guys were champs and gave me as much time as I needed to ooh and aah over the beautiful dresses in a beautiful place and, really, no one was bitchy at all.

Here are some pictures of the exhibit. I want to go back again and reshoot the pictures with more people in the background. I love the contrast between people in their everyday tourist shorts and t-shirts and a few extra pounds gazing at the elegant manikin.

DSC_0105DSC_0101DSC_0107 Continue reading