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Remembering Our Bodies, Ourselves Thanks to an NPR report

2 Jun
My original Our Bodies, Ourselves Books

My original Our Bodies, Ourselves Books

Listening to NPR while driving in my car is a joy. Almost every day I find out something new. Today while driving I listened to a program about Our Bodies OurSelves, and how it was saved through internet crowd funding. Robin Young, of “Here & Now,” spoke to the new executive director, Julie Childers, who went to college in Tulsa, Oklahoma.   That made me laugh. The new ED of  the “Our Bodies Ourselves” organization went to college in what is now a state worse than Kansas. Ugh! Oklahoma has not been very good to women’s issues. Maybe that is why she is working on this important book.

In any case, when I got home, I pulled out my 1976, second edition copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and my 1978 first edition of Ourselves And Our Children.   There was still a paper napkin marking a spot in the book that I obviously felt was important.  I was 21, and a college junior when I purchased my copy.

For those of you who might not know, before Our Bodies, Ourselves there was a dearth of information for women about their own health issues. The medical field seemed to be ruled by men, who did not really understand women’s health issues. I, personally, had horrible time during my menstrual cycles. And was told as a young girl that it just me. And I should get over it.

Years later, when I was in my mid 20s, I found out I had endometriosis, which was causing my horrible periods. I only found out when I was going to an infertility doctor who, even though was a man, truly helped women.  (There were some!)

To be honest, now I only go to women doctors for my major health needs. I grew up in a time when men really did not get it!

It was Our Bodies, Ourselves that helped me. I know I am one of millions, who must thank the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective and their work to help women learn about their own bodies, their sexuality and their health care.

Although I have not taken to the streets, I have been a strong supporter of women’s rights, and their reproductive rights, throughout my adult years. Our Bodies, Ourselves was my second awakening to women’s rights issues. My first occurred the day before my 18th birthday, when the “Roe Vs Wade” decision was announced.

The young women today have lived their lives not knowing the battles of the 70s and early 80s.   They do not have the workplace issues we faced. But most important, with the rise in so many more women doctors, they no longer face the condescending attitudes to our health care needs that we often faced.

I thank Our Bodies, Ourselves for this awakening of women’s health needs and the evolution of medical care.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2016/06/02/our-bodies-ourselves

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Bodies,_Ourselves

 

What I Learned in My High School Typing Class Has Helped Throughout My Life

24 Sep

When I attended North Bergen High School in the 1970s, I took both a typing class and a short hand class. I did not want to. Typing and short hand classes were for the students who were not going on to college. And I knew that I would go to college. But my Mom made me take them.

“You never know when you might take a job that requires typing,” she said, and added: “These are good skills to learn.” I argued back, but obviously I lost.

My MOM insisted. So I took those two classes when I was a freshman in high school. I think one of the teachers was Miss Wirt. It was not the most exciting class for me, but by the end of the semester, I could touch type to the required words per minute without too many errors.  Being in class with good typists was a bit intimidating (As my friend Shashi reminded me). I will remind everyone that typing on a typewriter was much different than typing on a computer keyboard.  First there was the click clack of the keyboard.  You could tell how fast someone was typing by how quickly the clicks and clacks came together.

I did use these typing skills when I was on the staff of Paw Prints, the school’s newspaper. We had to type all of the stories into columns for them to be put into the layout and then copied and printed. I learned out to measure the space and fit the letters/words into the space correctly. A skill that came in handy much later in my life.

I have to say that my Mom was right. I will tell you that the skills I learned in the typing class have stayed with me forever. It is almost as if my Mom had telepathy and knew that eventually typing would be a much appreciated and required skill for college students.

Thanks to my typing classes, I excelled in my college and graduate school classes in the sense that my typed papers had very few typos and/or needed corrections. While I had friends who often had to hire someone to type their papers, I was set with my little typewriter.

In fact, only once in all of my undergraduate college career did someone type a paper for me. But there was a reason. My very last college paper at Drew University was due when I had an accident involving one of my eyes. After a long visit in an emergency room, I realized I could not type this paper since I had a large patch over my eye. Luckily for me, I had a great friend, Shari, who lived in the same dorm and was my savior. She typed the entire paper that evening in time for my morning class.

Later when I went on to graduate school, for journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, my parents bought me the most wonderful gift, a self-correcting typewriter. This was the best typewriter available with a second ribbon of white out, so you could just back up, lower the white-out ribbon, and then cover the error and then retype. Amazing what was wonderful in the days before word processors and computers.

My typing class made it possible for me to complete my master’s degree exam in plenty of time. We had to answer four questions and had one hour to write the answer essays. They had to be typed. So as we thought out our answer, we had to actually type instead of write. I came to the exam with my typewriter and ribbons and succeeded.

This typewriter was also an important part of my Master’s Thesis, as I could easily correct mistakes.     Writing a thesis before computers was a nightmare. You had to estimate how much space to leave for footnotes. Getting everything perfect took experience and spatial coordination. As I said earlier, many people had to hire someone to type their thesis. But not me, as I knew how to type and I knew how to make words fit. Thank you Miss Wirt! Thank you Mrs. Whitehouse and my Paw Prints work!

The short hand class taught me the basics of taking quick notes using some symbols. Knowing a few of these symbols came in handy when I did an interview. I could write quickly by not writing all the words and using short hand instead.   Thanks to my Mom insisting that I take this class, my interviews as a grad student in journalism were always accurate. Yes I had a tape recorder as well. But some people did not like to be recorded. So accurate note taking was important.

I will admit that I have forgotten most of these symbols. And when I look at short hand symbols today they look like hieroglyphics. But when I was in graduate school I was so happy that I had an advantage.

Although I do not use the short hand, my touch typing skills are something I use every day for work and for pleasure. I am using those skills as I type and write this blog!

With the advent of computers, everyone needs to know how to use a keyboard.   Today touch typing, or as it is now known – keyboarding — is a skill that children are taught in elementary school. If you cannot type, you cannot use a computer successfully. Although probably in a few years, people will just talk to their computers and to have their thoughts put down, just as we talk to our smart phones to type a short message to someone.

It is amazing what a good teacher can help a student learn. I went into my typing class with a chip on my shoulder, not wanting to take it. I came out with a skill that has been with me for over 40 years. What I learned in typing class has helped me throughout my life.

What a week! A Murder and a Campus Lock Down Impact My Life

5 Sep

I honestly thought that with my daughter living in Tel Aviv, Israel, that when the bombing and war there ended, I would be able to watch the news again and be calm when watching. But that did not happen.   This past week in the Kansas City area has been emotionally stressful.

On Tuesday there was a triple homicide in south Kansas City. A friend of mine said it happened on 107 and Wornall, I corrected her and said it was further south, because I knew the area well. Someone I knew lived there. But having said that, at the same time, I had no concern about this friend. It was not possible that something would happen to her.

On Wednesday, I found out that I was wrong. Another friend told me the horrifying news that the woman I knew was one of those murdered. We were in a store when she told me. I paid for my items, went out to my car and began to shake. I had just seen this woman a few days before at clothing store. We showed each other the outfits we were trying on. And gave opinions. Now she was dead. It did not seem possible.

I called another friend.   I needed to talk to someone before I drove; I was so shook up. And it was true. Thank you for calming me down so I could drive home.

Yesterday, Thursday, the college campus that my son attends went on lock down.   He was there in a class. When I saw on the news what was happening, I texted him. And yes he was on lock down.   He was okay.

His girlfriend also texted me to tell me where My son was and that he was okay.

But a few minutes later, my son texted these words, “I am very scared.”

At that point my heart broke and my panic started. But I knew I could not let him know that I was scared as well. And due to the shootings earlier in the week, I could not say ‘nothing will happen.’ I felt anxious.

I started sending him text with information from the news, from the police reports. I believe it helped calm him as there was no active shooter, just reports of a woman with a gun.  We could text, but he could not speak so I could not call him.

I texted him to come to our home immediately after he got out…not to go to his apartment. The campus was just two miles from our home.  We continued texting for two hours. But then there was silence.  I hate silence!

After a half hour of silence, during which I sent him six texts, he arrived home. He got a very big and long hug from me.  He then laughed and said,  “I have lots of texts from you!”  I glad my texting gave him some comic relief!

He told us an armed police officer in tactical gear came into their class and told them to barricade the room, turn off the lights, get on the floor and stay quiet, till the police came again. And there they sat for three hours.  Their professor gave them updates when he received them.

The police searched every building. When his class was released they had to go through other buildings. All students had to exit from the same place so the police could see them. And when he drove away, he had to stop so the police could look into his car.

We drove to his apartment and picked up his roommate, and we took the boys out to dinner. It was after 7 pm and we were now hungry.

My son told us what happened again during dinner. I think he needed to get it out of his system. He said, “I thought about every scenario that could happen.”  I told him that everyone was scared. As they interviewed other students they all talked about thinking about what might happen, just as he did.

After dinner, before my son left us, I again hugged him for a very long time. He told his Dad, “Get a crowbar!” I did not want to let go.

Now I am getting ready to go to the funeral of the woman who was murdered in her driveway. The week ends tomorrow.

I will go to synagogue and pray for the family of the woman who died. I will also pray and be thankful that the college campus only had an inconvenience and not a disaster; and that my son came home safely to me.

I never expected in one week that a murder and a campus lock down would impact my life!  I have always felt so safe in Kansas, but this year with the shootings at the Jewish Community Campus, and this past week, some of my beliefs and feelings of  calm have been impacted.

Remembering My College During Graduation Season

12 May

 

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

With the May graduation season, I always think of my own graduation. I graduated from college 37 years ago… I find that a bit frightening to admit. But it is true. I still remember the green and yellow balloons (In 1982 the colors turned to blue and green) that we walked under on our way to our seats. I still remember my excitement at graduating magna cum laude. I still remember that my grandparents and parents came to my graduation!

I loved my time at Drew University. It was the best place for me. A small liberal arts school, Drew is situated on the most beautiful campus. Large trees, quiet paths, lovely buildings, great professors all in one place, with easy access to New York City and an easy train ride home. I learned; I made friends; I found my place in life at Drew.

As an English major I had two professors in particular that had a major influence on me. Professor Joan Steiner and Professor Robert Chapman were my inspirations and both added much to my love of words.

Not only did I take Professor Chapman’s classes on literature, I also took classes on semantics and I was his paid assistant one year. He was working on revising his Dictionary of American Slang, and I helped. Dr. Chapman was well known for his dictionaries and thesaurus. He loved words and language. His excitement about words encouraged my love of language and words!

For the second edition of the Dictionary of American Slang, we had to find three references for each new word for it to be included in the dictionary. Each word was put on an index card…. no computers in those days. If we found a new word in a printed reference, we started a card with the referenced article. I had to do a lot of reading of popular publications: newspapers and magazines.

My biggest achievement was the word “carpool.” I will never forget the moment I found my third reference in Newsweek magazine. I was visiting my parents for the weekend. While reading my Dad’s Newsweek, I found it. I was beyond excited.

“Dad,” I said. “Read this page now. I have to take it back to school with me.” He didn’t even argue when I ripped the page from the magazine.

I remember racing to Prof. Chapman’s office in the Browne Hall with the page from the magazine in my hand on Monday. That was it. The word could now be added to the files for the second edition of the dictionary.   I then helped with writing the official definition of the word. I walked on air for days after that. The two of us were so excited. Carpool was officially a new word!

I know it sounds strange now. Carpool is such a common word. People use it all the time. Mothers and fathers plan carpools with friends in order to take their children to school and sports and afterschool activities. Co-workers organize carpools to work. But in the early 1970s it was a new word. And I helped define it for the dictionary.

I cannot remember the other words I helped uncover that year. It is the word carpool that forever stays in my memory. I get a moment of joy whenever I see the word in print or hear it used. “Carpool” is my word! And yes, carpooling is also my word!

Most important for me, however, was that Professor Chapman encouraged my love of words and added to my interest in language. His discussions on the leveling of language and how languages change stayed with me throughout my time in college, graduate school and in life.

Besides Professor Chapman’s support, I had the support of my advisor and mentor, Professor Joan Steiner. It was her encouragement throughout college that led me to become an English major. I had started my college career focusing on studying psychology. But after my first few literature classes, I realized that my love of literature was more important.

Joan Steiner and me graduation

With Joan Steiner as my advisor, I was able to focus on English during my last two years at Drew. But more important, she help me find what I really wanted to be, which was a writer. And with her help, I focused on journalism as a career and went on to earn my master’s degree in journalism.   I kept in touch with Professor Steiner for many years. Since I live in Kansas, our contacts were usually holiday greeting letters. But once my daughter also went to Drew for her undergraduate years, Professor Steiner and I had a bit more contact.

I miss her wonderful letters. And I feel blessed that she was part of my college life and that we had contact later in my life.

I so loved my time at Drew that when my daughter was a sophomore in high school, I took her to see the campus during one of our annual visits to my parents in New Jersey.   She fell in love with the campus as well. But not only the campus, the focus on political science and religion was important to her. (A Methodist seminary school is also situated on the Drew Campus.) When it was time to make her college choice, she chose Drew.

I am proud that my daughter graduated Drew 31 years after I did. She received her double major in Political Science and Religion. She participated in the semester at the United Nations through Drew and participated in many activities, although she did not follow my major and goals in college. I worked on the newspaper, the yearbook and was a member of the OC (Orientation Committee). She focused on political science organizations, mediation and policy. She even interned at the County Courthouse working with domestic abuse victims. But she walked the steps I walked and loved the school as much as I did.

Her graduation also included the blue and green balloon archway that led to the outside graduation behind Mead Hall. And she, also, graduated magna cum laude, wearing the cords from two honor societies. We did not have those when I graduated from Drew.

My parents were once again there, as was my entire family: siblings and their spouses, and all the cousins. My daughter, as the oldest grandchild, was the first to graduate college. And since my entire family lived in New Jersey, it seemed important that all be at her graduation.   Afterwards we had lunch with her then boyfriend’s family and friends. It was a wonderful celebration.

I love graduation. I love the transition to another stage of life. But for my daughter and I, I am so glad that we were able to experience college life at Drew. And share a graduation experience 31 years apart.

 

To see the beautiful campus go to : http://www.drew.edu/