Growing up in a Southern Italian ghetto, my North End growing-up buddies shared similar experiences, those experiences but a small step removed from the Fatherland.
The character writing her autobiography in “My Brilliant Friend” writes about her inadequacies to face life in the Big Arena, she coming from a backward neighborhood, which, although in Naples, Italy, the original template from which the patterns of life in the North End of Boston, USA were copied.
She writes of the envy she felt for the kids she met in college, “Because of the families they came from, they knew things I didn’t know,” like how a newspaper was put together, how to prepare for a job interview, how a film originates, how to get a manuscript published, the names of the people who count, how to travel.
And they hadn’t developed telling habits such as poor speech patterns, speaking too loudly, reacting too exuberantly, chewing too nosily, ripping a piece of meat with one’s teeth instead of cutting bite-sized pieces with a fork, interrupting a speaker or a conversation, adopting overly familiar or overtly hostile attitudes.
She writes of the pleasant surprise she felt when she realized she she was bonding with these would-be philosophers, political activists, artists, and through them made aware
of issues and activities that enhanced her growth.
The resulting outgrowing of the neighborhood.
Not a need to sever the old connections, those fortunately staying forever, but no longer hanging on the corner saying, “So what do you want to do, Marty?” or talking about our futures, jobs or family-creation.
Those of us lucky to leave the impediments of a ghetto upbringing never caught up to our college mates, at least not in college.
But experiencing that futility reinforced our desires for the best for our children.
Starting with a partner who understood the passion.
A cute, personable, 23-year-old Ph.D., Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, full-time teacher of rhetoric at Boston University as mate a good beginning.
Then came the children and thousands of books like Winnie the Pooh, Lillian and Russell Hoban, Lord of the Rings, E.B. White, and hundreds of movies like the Wizard of Oz and The Yellow Submarine, tens of live performances like Will Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Johnny Cash, The Hobbit, Hansel and Gretel, and backstage passes to rock and roll performances like Kiss, Queen, and Boston.
And many nights working in the dining room of our upscale restaurant and, for two of the three children, a daily, including Christmas, three-hour commitment to intense tennis practice, and, on most weekends, entry into a tournament hosted by the New England Lawn Tennis Association for official rankings.
After 15 years of combined effort, the day of reckoning arriving when the first of the children enters a private, highly-competitive high school.
And we discover that measured against such cultural milestones, our sons way ahead of their mates.
We didn’t need praise from the outside.
We heaped praise on our children.
We exult at home with each other.
A generation had passed.
But mission accomplished.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
My 250th consecutive posting, committed to 5,000.
250. A nice number. The 5% mark of my commitment.
A different way of looking at the passage of time.
Time is 12.01am.
Boston’s temperature will reach a high of with a feels like of with sun and clouds.
Question of the Day:
Love your notes.
Contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard’s take on Chris Capossela’s “memo” of a few days ago:
Not that I think Chris is accountable to me, but his narrative was engaging. And set me to thinking about it.
Some questions remain for me in Chris’s account of the expedition. I’d like to hear what he defines as his “comfort zone” out of which he stepped to fly with his team to Montgomery. I’d like to know if he is clear on the difference between “bearing witness,” which is how he describes the experience he and his team had visiting those two landmark museums in Montgomery, and simply witnessing and observing, which are closer descriptors to my mind to the experiences he relates. It’s the people who survived the horrible ordeals commemorated and depicted in Stevenson’s accounts and in the exhibits of the museums who are capable of “bearing witness” I think. The rest of us can only listen and learn in mute shame and humility.
But those queries will have to wait for the right opportunity, should it ever arise, for me to ask him directly.
Having known Chris from Day One (and still having very fresh memories of the day he was awarded the Ames Prize by his classmates at Harvard), I have no doubt of his empathy and depth of feeling and willingness to be there for his fellow humans, and I take on faith his acceptance of the enormous tacit burden he assumes in pledging to champion a more inclusionary ethos for Microsoft, a company with a very erratic history in its adherence to principled conduct of business. He has his work cut out for him. Especially now with all the technology giants, previously so inviolable and powerful, under attack from all sides, and with far greater scrutiny from the powers that be from both sides of the aisle.
Answer to Question:
Good morning on this Tuesday, December 18, Christmas now only 7 days away.
Today we talked about
Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?
See you soon.