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Shorter, Newer, Differenter

We changed the WordPress theme. You noticed? Also:

Cary Tennis is writing a new, different Since You Asked column:

  • More questions
  • Shorter answers
  • Mostly about writing and ideas but also other things
  • Basically: It’s way differenter!

Why?

  • Who’s got the time?
  • Long sentences: hard to read on phone
  • The kid just wants to do new things

The “Since You Asked” advice column ran on Salon.com for 12 years. It was a rare and beautiful thing. Like all rare things, it arose from rare circumstances. Circumstances change. Really: That’s done.

Now stimulate Cary’s intellectual and literary interests by writing letters to him about the most interesting things you are doing and the practical obstacles you encounter and how you overcome them.

Write about writing and books and poems and technology and the business of publishing and also about:

  • Urban Planning and Traffic
  • Real Estate Prices in San Francisco
  • New poetry
  • The Ocean Beach/Outer Sunset neighborhood
  • Paris
  • Tuscany
  • Great short story collections
  • Fiction and poetry readings
  • Cool bicycles
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Other things I might not know anything about but am still interested in, like … shoes!

See, Cary  grew up reading Faulkner and Henry James. So long sentences come naturally. But he always thought, I’ll never become a stodgy old guy. I’ll always try to adapt and participate.

Who knew culture would change so much so fast? But it did. So stay nimble, big guy. Stay interested. This is an amazing time to be alive.

Sure, some changes suck. Feel free to write about changes that suck.

But life is short. There’s always breakfast at Outerlands.

What else was great this morning:

Music at the Medieval Festival

On being invited very late to events that have been planned for months

That headline will lead some readers to expect a mild rant on the order of “don’t you hate it when people don’t have the courtesy to invite you to their events with sufficient lead time?” when actually it is a bald, guilt-free confession of precisely that transgression. And a more or less bald recitation of the reasons why. And an attempted refutation thereof. In toto. Ahem.

Norma says people need a few weeks’ notice. But the actual decision about whether to go to a party can be done in, like, one second. Wanna go? Yes or no.

What we are actually doing when we schedule parties weeks or months in advance is not so much what you think it is —  allowing people sufficient time to decide, or  to put it on their calendars, etc., so that it does not become superseded by something else.

I refuse to believe that people are that booked up, and if they are booked up, God help them for being so booked up, it must be an awful condition and if I am ever that booked up I hope I shoot myself because I will be monstrously unhappy having so little time to myself to sit and watch TV or read or just lie around plucking the guitar!

What is really going on with the absurdly long lead time for a party, IMHO, is we are selling it to our friends.It is a form of advertising and persuasion. In advertising it is said that people need to hear something at least three times before it becomes real to them. And I think to myself, does something that is purportedly a fun thing you would go to anyway actually need to be sold?

Yes! Absolutely! It certainly does. Who actually wants to go anywhere? Not me. I have many strong and vigilant defenses against leaving the house for any reason, and they need to be overcome by a long and persistent campaign or I will not go out.

The first time I hear of a party I think, Oh, no, another thing to go to. What is it this time? Oh, our friends? The ones we actually like? Oh, that is the worst. If it were friends we don’t even like we could say, well, I think we have something else planned for that night, geez, let me check, oh, the relatives, we must visit the relatives, you know how that is, and they go oh yes, we know about visiting the relatives, how necessary  that is, how unavoidable, when the truth is that we don’t really want to see each other at all because they don’t like us any more than we like them but we must go through this ritual of persuading each other.  And so it makes it harder to claim you have a prior engagement when it is six months out. So it claims a place on your calendar, and thereby wears down your resistance. You go, well, it is on our calendar, so I guess we will not be able to make any excuses. Now, if only they would invite us like two days before we could claim we already have plans, which of course we don’t because we never do but they don’t need to know that, because apparently everybody pretends to have these “plans” so we can pretend to have them as well.

So I’m just saying to hell with all that. I have known about this party since some time back in June but I prefer not to tell anyone about it until about 48 hours until it happens. 48 hours! That’s plenty of time!

And so some people will say, damn you, Cary, we would love to come, but you give us so little notice! And I will say yes, I am a wretch, I keep doing this, and thus keep not seeing my friends, yes, it is awful. Unconsciously I’m sure I’m just making things difficult for everybody and calling attention to myself. I haven’t changed since I was 8. And yet, I am letting you off the hook, too! I could put these things out months in advance and then you would feel you have no way out. And then you would have to wait until the last minute and then think of some excuse. This is much easier. Now it is absurdly easy to say, What? An invitation with only 48 hours notice? We couldn’t possibly …

And I think: What about the Army? They’re always ready to go. Ten minutes, off to Pakistan. Let’s go. But we’re not in the army, are we? Plus we live in the Outer Sunset, which is farther away than Pakistan if you’re coming from the Mission.

At any rate, we will be here as usual, playing music and hanging out, and maybe somebody will get up and read some poetry or a rant, and we will talk about current events, and soon we will get tired and start thinking, gee, soon, we can go to bed! What an exciting party!

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My boyfriend lied about his debts and now he’s couch surfing

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Cary’s classic column from

But he’s an artist. Should I boot him?


Dear Cary,

My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year — my longest and best male/male relationship. Right before we met, he quit his lucrative job in retail to go back to school in photography, a longtime passion. He simplified his life: he bought a motorcycle outright, moved into a cheap downtown apartment and got a part-time job that would be flexible with his class schedule. I think this was brave and admirable. He made the right decision, such is his obvious talent. He’s 31 and I’m only 25, we’re both artists, and both getting started in our careers.

A month ago he came to me and told me that he’d incurred some reasonably large debts, and that he was being evicted from his apartment. He cried through most of the discussion. He’d known about the debts (some was money due to the IRS for a year, some was more recent) and hadn’t told me. In fact, he’d hidden them from me. When I first heard of the “possible but unlikely” eviction, he attributed the trouble to a party we’d thrown at his place that had upset the neighbors — a party I’d thrown for my birthday. But he was evicted for simply not paying his rent. His lies (he says he never lied, just didn’t offer the information) were instantly forgiven. His raw emotion took me over (I love this man!) and I switched into my “solve it” mode.

One month later, most of his stuff is in storage and he splits his time between living with me and driving his now impractical motorcycle 35 miles to his family’s home and sleeping on the couch. I live with a roommate and — though I feel guilty about it — I haven’t told him of my boyfriend’s eviction because I’m afraid he’ll be angry and say he doesn’t want to live with two roommates (which he’d have every right to say). My boyfriend allowed me to plan a $1,200 vacation to visit my family, so now he owes me money he can’t really afford to pay back either (I feel guilty taking his money when I know he still owes a landlord). Basically, I feel guilty all the time.

After four years living in a big city and making just enough money to survive, I’m finally making enough to go to out to dinner every now and then. But this relationship is financially draining me. My credit card debt has grown to a level it’s never been at before, and I’m making more money than ever. I love this man and I know he’s being sincere when he says if the roles were reversed he’d take care of me in any way he possibly could. But I can’t have him living with me in this situation and I feel guilty when I make him drive to a house I know he hates. Worst of all, he just doesn’t get it. He thinks, with all his heart, that love conquers all. How can I make him understand that this is tough for me, too, when things are absolutely 100 percent tougher for him right now? Am I just a selfish person?

Selfish and/or Guilty

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Dear Selfish and/or Guilty,

You feel guilty because you’re doing something wrong. Isn’t that wonderfully simple? You’re allowing this person to lie to you, steal from you and mistreat you. It’s wrong to allow that. You know it’s wrong to allow it. That’s why you feel guilty. You’re not helping anyone by letting it continue. On the contrary, allowing him to continue makes you an accomplice. Standing up for yourself in such a situation is the farthest thing from selfish: It’s a selfless act of courage, a gift to the world. If you stand up for yourself, you stand up for your roommate and for your families. When you stand up for yourself you stand up for us all. You stand up for the weak, the elderly, the frightened, the codependent. You set an example of strength, moral clarity and courage. You add to the store of goodness in the world. You teach others by example. Even for your boyfriend: By standing up to him, you also stand up for him — for the good part of him who needs to know that what he’s doing is wrong, and can only lead to debasement.

It was courageous of him to go back to school and follow his talent. But it’s wrong of him to lie about his debts and become a mooch. His art can only suffer. If he quit a lucrative job to go back to school, he’s going to have to learn to live cheaply on his own. He already has an obvious problem telling the truth about money. Do not play into it. Do not feed this problem of his.

Do not think of what you personally may lose. Think of all the other people he is manipulating, and act on their behalf, not your own. The only power he has over you is your fear that if you stand up to him you will lose him. That is your weakness. You must think in larger terms: of your very self, your pride, your sense of fairness to others, your place in the world of family and roommates and friends.

Being a creative person does not mean that right and wrong do not apply to you. Because you have a larger, more profound gift for the world does not mean you get your bread for free. We should not pamper our artists and our stars. The more we pamper those we admire, the more we rob them of their belonging in the world, the more we feed their addictions, the more we blind them and render them ignorant, and thus destroy their ability to tell the truth through their art.

So do us all a favor. Stop letting this guy walk all over you. Tell him to pay his debts and get a place of his own.

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What a tragedy it would be if City College were to close

On Thursday nights I play music with some friends while my wife, Norma, takes a singing class at City College. Norma has taken classes there for years. She has studied painting, Russian, Italian and other things. City College has been a great life-enriching place for her. She is smart. She knows the value of a community college in a city as rich and varied as San Francisco. She has taken full advantage of it. Our lives have been better because of it.

So on Thursday, March 13, I picked Norma up about 9:30 p.m. at the Ocean Avenue campus and she told me that her singing class had gotten a late start because the police had broken the bones of some singing students earlier. Her instructor was talking with another instructor before class about the beatings and that delayed the class. Students had occupied a building and police had come in and bones had been broken and students had gone to the hospital. These were voice students. It’s oddly poetic, isn’t it, that in a fight for free speech and access to low-cost education it should be the voice students whose bones are broken by police?

Since July 2013 I had watched this controversy out of the corner of my eye. I now endeavored to learn what I could. I began to look into it. It didn’t take long to form a clear and passionate impression. It boils down to this: The ACCJC sucks. That is, in quickly reading the available information about its requirements and the current legal process and the correspondence sent to schools that have been sanctioned, and its own account of its purpose and its methods, and some legislative testimony and the various lawsuits pending, I came to see that the ACCJC is a troubled institution granted wide powers to act in secret and capable therefor of wreaking great harm. Their approach appears philistine and heavy-handed and inappropriate to an educational institution.

In other words, the ACCJC sucks.

More could be said and no doubt will be. More reporting must be done to expose the true long-term strategy of the people behind this move. The true story will no doubt involve power and money. It will involve ideology and infighting. It will involve public vs. private education. It will involve capitalism vs. democracy. It will be seen that some ACCJC’s rulings seem to favor private for-profit colleges at the expense of publicly run ones. A full, detailed picture will no doubt reveal our current cultural battle at its most venal and ugly.

Lest we forget: No fight about money and power and politics in San Francisco can be without real estate money. Wherever there is land, someone stands to make a fortune. There must be real estate money somewhere in this tale. And there must be clueless zealots and venal operators and ideological nitwits and the settling of old scores and backbiting and striving and all the great human passions that make life in California so interesting and so maddening.

Such is the ongoing carnival of human folly. If it were not dangerous, one would like to just let such folly play out. One would just like to watch with a mixture of horror and glee. I was content to do so until it appeared that the ACCJC’s actions may not be harmless at all. Now it appears urgent that the public become informed and take action. The loss of City College would be a tragedy for the city of San Francisco.

See These Links:

ACCJC: A Troubled Institution. An illuminating piece by independent journalist Rick Sterling (rsterling1@gmail.com) about deficiencies in the accrediting organization itself.

For a chilling look at the mindset of the people doing the accrediting, there is no better example than their own prose. I don’t know about you, but I am quite sensitive to how the quality of a person’s mind shows in the style of  prose he or she uses. ‘Nuf said. Just take a look at the PDF.  If you aren’t howling in laughter you will be howling in pain.

Accreditation Watch. Again: ‘Nuf said. This comprehensive site will give you a quick sense of the magnitude of the ACCJC’s shortcomings, and there is enough depth here for days of reading.

Hashtags on Twitter are #ACCJC and #CCSF.

Thought you’d like to know. Trying to remain civil about it, the breaking of voice students’ bones notwithstanding.

 

 

 

Hooray! I’m covered! (by Covered California)

Wow. I just completed my online application for health insurance in California, and I am amazed how easy and trouble-free it was. And now I can’t believe so many Republican politicians worked so hard to deny me this. As a person who survived a potentially fatal cancer in 2009, who had surgery and a long recovery, who has fought to get the care I need and was concerned after losing my job at Salon that insurance would be too costly or unavailable, I was worried.

But Covered California is awesome. I feel so relieved. Also I feel angrier now, actually, toward the foes of the Affordable Care Act than I did while the debate was going on. When I had good medical care through Salon, the issue was important but didn’t affect my own survival. But after leaving Salon, it really came home to me personally. So now, having just this minute completed my California Care enrollment, and getting healthcare for me and my wife, which will cover our familiar UCSF Medical Center, for about $420 a month, I’m feeling like it’s a political victory that is pretty unreal. Pretty amazing.

So: Thanks, Obama. Thanks, California.

And screw you, Republican scrooges, who would rather see me go bankrupt or die of cancer than see the country join the rest of the civilized industrial world in providing all its citizens with health care!

El Farolito

Below is a short piece from Cary that we included in today’s newsletter. When we originally decided to publish a weekly newsletter, we never intended it just to promote our workshops and writing retreats, but rather, we wanted it to be a place to share Cary’s non-advice-related writing, his ideas and enthusiasms, and writing from other authors that we find exceptional. From here on out there will be a literary component to the weekly newsletter. Most pieces will not be re-published on this website, so keep and eye out.

Judith, abstract expressionist, El Farolito on 24th Street in the Mission for lunch after the meeting, talking about William James,  the God thing, William James says, Look, we are scientific men, Christian men, honest men, and we cannot deny what we see: People are having experiences; they have these experiences of another world and then they change. What are we to call this? How can we, as scientific men, pretend that this is not real? So something is going on, basically, is what Judith and William James and I agree about in the Farolito on 24th near Florida Street.

How did she get 33 years sober, hanging out with de Kooning in New York, marrying Steve Lacy because he needed a wife even though she preferred women, and living in that apartment at 24th and Potrero since 1979, watching the giant construction cranes across Potrero at SF General Hospital, and my plate of al pastor, and the uncanny feeling of holy rescue one feels sitting across from somebody who rampaged through 1950s New York art scene fucking everything that had a can of cadmium yellow and a canvas stretcher, everything that had a gallery show even a group gallery show and a collection of Chet Baker records not too many because he didn’t make too many because he died young and pretty and messed up, toothless and beat up and strung out in the Fillmore … thinking how does that familiar miracle happen to this woman who is nothing but trouble for years just fucking up everything until finally one day she gets it and stops the bullshit and just keeps painting every day for the last 33 years in her studio at Hunter’s Point until the abstracts are piled up to the ceiling and still she keeps going because it’s the only way to God for her, it’s the only way to know herself, her raspy, Winston-ravaged throat, her New York by way of Chicago combination of exasperation and exultations, half the time having no idea what she’s really saying but agreeing, as we agree about William James and what he was seeing in 1890, that the old religions are crumbling yet people are having these experiences of something beyond, something other, something anti-rational that says everything you believed up till now was wrong, relax, surrender.

Let the impossible happen. Let what you don’t know guide you.

Me and Judith in El Farolito. She talks incessantly about dying. How she’s ready. How it’s a pain in the ass. How people are taking care of her. People are taking Judith where Judith needs to go. People are buying Judith lunch. People are driving Judith to AA meetings. This is community.

This is how community works, a loving community around a single person without any blood relatives nearby, this is how we close ranks around someone who tore through New York in the 1950s and is still painting abstract expressionist and still listening to jazz LPs on her turntable in her Hunters Point studio and still wearing those khaki painters’ pants the hipsters wore in New York: that faded black-and-white photo of her on the door of her Hunters Point studio: Who is that woman she’s with, her lover? A friend of de Kooning’s? Who is that woman? How did she get there? And how did we get to this table at El Farolito?

We moved into her building in 1990 and she said, “I’m the one with the great flat. You’re the ones who got the not-so-great flat.” We became friends. We went to demonstrations together.

I am giving her rides. We are taking care of her. We are closing ranks around her as she threatens to slip away from us.

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Cary’s weekend archival column: Sept. 15, 2010

 

Visiting my family gets me down

Every time I see them I’m depressed for a week

 

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Dear Cary,

First, thank you for being persistent with your crazy wisdom, and for not giving up. I enjoy your column.
I need a new way to think about this situation, and I’m hoping you can help. Here is a bit of background, in case it helps.

I live in a separate state from my family, and visit about five or six times per year. My relationship with my parents was dicey for a long time, but it is now more even, as I started simultaneously sticking up for myself more, and caring about their approval less. I’m in my mid-30s now. After a wandering employment history (two different careers), I am now underemployed in some ways, but happy to have a job, and try to be useful. Married, have some pets that I adore. I have a history of depression but am managing for the most part. No children because I spent a long time not feeling good, and now that I feel more OK, I don’t want to ruin it (not that I dislike children, I just want some internal peace and am too old to have a bit of peace and then have children).

My problem is that every time I visit my family, I feel like shit for three to four days afterward. I don’t feel bad while I’m there (anymore). In fact, things are better than they’ve ever been. But this shitty feeling, it is on the inside, and it takes me days to shake it off, even when I try to talk myself into a better place. I try to get at exactly what this feeling is about, and the most I can tell is that I feel like a loser when I’m there. It’s kind of an extension of the more pervasive feeling I have that I somehow just don’t fit in, that there is something slightly “off” about me.

The strange thing is, my parents aren’t all that successful or well adjusted. If anything, I’m slightly more adjusted than they are, unless I just have no objectivity and am fooling myself. My sister and her husband are more successful in that they both have careers and a more standard life, by American standards. When I ask myself if I’m jealous, I am not so much envious of their standard lives as I am of their seeming feeling of “fitting in.” In other words, I don’t necessarily want what they have (my parents and my sibling), but I want to feel like they feel. This is true not only of my family, but of society in general—I don’t really admire the lifestyle I’m told I should want, but I want the part of the dream that has me feeling good about myself. It’s just, for some reason, that this part that I lack is more pronounced when I’m with my family.

Anyway, I do not want to stop seeing my family. They’re basically good people. But this does affect my willingness to visit for extended periods, since it is really inconvenient to feel shitty for a week afterward. I’m embarrassed that I still feel this way well into my 30s. Is there anything I can do about this, or is this just how it is?

Confused

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Dear Confused,

Your family is never going to be the family you wish you had and they are never going to give you the feeling you wish they would give you and you are never going to fit in the way you wish you fit in and the sooner you realize this and get angry about it and shout it out and bang your fists on the floor and scream at the gods about it and grieve it and fully accept it and let it go the sooner you can be at peace with yourself and your gifts and the way you are loved now.

The way you are now is the way you are loved. Those who love you do not love this other person you wish you were. They do not even know who that person is. The way you are now is the way you are loved.

You think there is some other person you might be if you were only different but even if she showed up on your doorstep you wouldn’t know who she is because she would be lacking the full code of you. There is only one person who has the full code of you. There is only one person who can be loved as you and it is your job to keep being that person.
Why are you sad after being with your family? Because you start pretending to be somebody else because you think somebody else deserves their love. And then you lose your bearings. It takes days to put yourself back together. So remember:

It is you whom the people who love you love. They don’t need you to pretend. When you pretend they just wait for you to come back.

(Here is one reason I am a writer and not a therapist: If I were a therapist I would start making stuff up just to have something new to say. So I will not say for the umpteenth time to read Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns even though you probably should read it anyway because it seems to help with things like this.)

To sense that your family does not really love or approve of you hurts but it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be somebody else. It means you’re supposed to bear that sadness with dignity; it means you’re supposed to bear that loss as a wise person would, knowing it’s just the tension between your capacity for dreaming and your capacity for acceptance.

Some people are fine because they don’t think about the infinite possibilities but some of us do think about the infinite possibilities which would be fine if that were all we did but then we also think about how much it sucks that these infinite possibilities do not all come to fruition although if you think about it there must be a natural cap on the number of infinite possibilities that are brought into being just as there must be a finite number of partners at Goldman Sachs.

You are here to do the one job no one else can do and that job is to fulfill the destiny written on your skin in a place you cannot read without turning inside out. Take several deep breaths. Stop what you are doing.

What is the source of your sadness?

© Copyright Salon Media Group

 

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Xmas_smallInterested in more holiday-related columns? Check out Cary’s collection of holiday columns, That Special Time of Year.

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My daughter is dating a grandchild of Nazis

 

Write for Advice

Dear reader,

I had been thinking about forgiveness, and gratitude, and certain aspects of my own personality that are maddeningly perverse, and how boring I’ve become, and how hard it is to install a new piece of software, and how much we miss the dogs, and novelistic structure, and how we need to fill the January getaway, and the books I’m reading which I have opinions about, and how we are going to enjoy Thanksgiving, and all kinds of things. And now, after writing this column, all that just seems kind of frivolous. For again, as has happened often in the 12 years of writing this column, a reader has proposed a vexing and painful moral problem and I have responded but do not feel at all equal to the task.

The only thing I believe with confidence is that children are born innocent of the crimes of their forbears. This I believe, though even this I cannot prove. Perhaps babies can be criminals. Perhaps I don’t understand evil. Perhaps children bear a historic burden to right the wrongs of their ancestors. Perhaps I don’t have a large enough consciousness to see that. But what I see is the innocence of the child. It seems to me that we must treat children as innocent of the crimes of their forbears.

Dear Cary,

You know how they say that “life can be stranger than fiction”? What I’m about to tell you is no joke, and it’s eating me up inside. About 12 years ago, I returned to college as an adult, and enrolled in a class whose subject matter covered World War II, and the Holocaust in particular. I came away from the class very disturbed.

I’m not sure what disturbed me more, the fact that the Holocaust happened, or seeing my younger classmates casually eating their  lunches while we watched a devastating and graphic film that left me badly shaken. In fact, after the term ended, I became so severely depressed that I could barely get out of bed for months. I had many revelations when I was deeply depressed, and to this day, I’ve never quite seen people, or the world, in the same way.

Fast forward 12 years later, and my daughter has begun dating a boy around her age.  I have recently found verifiable evidence that the boy’s German grandparents participated as Nazis during Hitler’s regime. In addition, the grandfather emigrated to the U.S. and was employed by a highly respected university after the war where he worked in research. All of his children also went to the best schools in the U.S. which makes me sick.

Cary, I’m not Jewish, but I have a strong emotional connection to the Jewish people,  and to anyone who has ever suffered at the hands of another person. My daughter’s boyfriend is now applying to some of the best schools in the country, and I’m very angry that this family can enjoy their advantages like nothing ever happened.  As unbelievable as this sounds, last  week, the boy came over to spend some time with my daughter and handed me some baked goods from his parents. When I unwrapped it I found a piece of challah  bread and a Bavarian pretzel.

I was so shaken when I saw it, that I almost vomited. (I can provide a picture to prove that this actually happened.) For some reason, God or the universe has dropped this into my lap and I don’t know how to deal with it. I want my daughter to be happy, but I feel myself slipping into another depression.

What should I do?

Horrified

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Dear Horrified,

What you should do is meditate on the fact that we are born innocent. We are born innocent to parents not of our choosing. We are born innocent of the crimes of our parents and grandparents and of the state crimes in which they were implicated. A baby knows nothing of its parents’ crimes and later in life is powerless to undo those crimes, not only for the obvious reason that those crimes are now historic facts and cannot be undone but also because the filial bond is so strong that to oppose the parent or grandparent, to condemn them, to sever ties with them is so psychologically difficult that it is rarely attempted and even more rarely accomplished.

Consider your own birth. Consider how many ancestors you have, stretching back into human evolution. Consider the long string of successful births, matings and pregnancies, births, matings and pregnancies, births, matings and pregnancies … that eventually resulted in your own birth, your own mating and your own pregnancy and now the approaching adulthood of your own child, who now meets a child who also is the product of a different but also unfathomably deep chain of being.

Imagine what crimes and also what glorious victories lie in your unknowable lineage and also in his. Imagine all the descendants of all the bloody tyrants of all time. Imagine all the descendants of rapists and murderers and child molesters throughout our long evolution. Where are we to draw the line? Who among us can claim with certainty to have no criminals in his or her lineage? And what importance are we to assign to one’s lineage, anyway? At a certain point does it not sound like the very classifications by lineage that underlay the philosophy that resulted in the Holocaust?

You took to heart this film. It scarred you and awakened you. It was both a gift and a burden. You are now vexed by the horrors it bequeathed to you. But maybe there is some gift in this. What gift can you give the world as a result of taking all this to heart? Compassion and forgiveness are gifts. You can give the gift of compassion and forgiveness. For as long as we assign blame to innocent people based not on their behavior and their character but on the acts of their forebears, such social crimes as slavery and the Holocaust will happen again. Only when we greet each individual as an innocent child deserving of love will we eliminate crimes against humanity. Humanity means all humanity, not just those who can claim a lineage unblemished by crimes known at the time or discovered later. We extend our love to the descendants of Nazis and the descendants of slavers and the descendants of murderers and rapists and all whose acts we term foul and repugnant.

Otherwise, we will continue to persecute people for where they come from and who their daddy was and what their people did.

The dream of America is that we start out innocent. Children also start out innocent. This boy your daughter is dating is just as innocent as any child gassed in the Holocaust.

I don’t want to say anything trite. I don’t want to suggest that we all just forgive and forget.

But this child your daughter is dating brought you an innocent gift of bread. Perhaps it was a mistake on his part. But it sounds like an innocent mistake.

Newsletter_NEW_Dec13Consider him innocent.

 

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Cary Tennis Leaves Salon: Now it gets interesting

Dear Friends,

I have left Salon.com after 14 years. My unique advice column, which ran on Salon.com as Since You Asked from October 17, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2013, just shy of 12 years, will now run on my own site, carytennis.com. For now, it doesn’t have a new name. I am open to suggestions. Once I get started (letters are already coming in) it will run weekly but if I find a way to make it self-supporting I will run it more frequently. Please send letters to advice@carytennis.com—and tell your friends! The more people who get involved the more likely we’ll be able to keep the column running for the long haul. It turns out that giving advice is a hard habit to break.

And … now that I am free of that welcome but all-consuming daily task, I turn with renewed energy to spreading the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method around the world, and writing, speaking, participating in conferences, playing music and enjoying life.

Since I no longer work at Salon my old ctennis@salon.com email address no longer works. If you have sent email to me recently and it bounced back, that is why. Please email me personally at cary@carytennis.com, and email questions about workshops, getaways, retreats and other matters of business to info@carytennis.com.

I will be in Baltimore this weekend, Oct. 12 and 13, leading Amherst Writers and Artists workshops from 9 am to noon on Saturday and Sunday at the Idylwylde Hall, 6301 Sherwood Road. I hope to see many of my Baltimore and D.C. friends there. See more here.

That’s all for now. I will be posting more regularly now on our own site, and am looking forward to having a more robust personal engagement with you, my many friends, fans, fellow writers, workshop leaders and family.

Now it gets interesting.

—Cary T.