Friday, December 4, 2020

I Like PBS, and I Cannot Lie

There I said it. I cannot believe I have to fess up to this, but here it is. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Yeahhhh, so what’s the big deal?” Well, I’ll tell you. Picture it … Peoria … 1971. (You’ll have to excuse me. I just binged all 180 episodes of The Golden Girls.) 

So, my dad actually brought public television to Peoria. He believed the Peoria area would benefit from educational programming, and once Phil Weinberg set his sights on something, it would pretty much happen. He worked very hard to make it happen, and I have to give him credit for this and his many other accomplishments. So there. I did, and on with the story. 

How did this affect me, you ask? Let me nutshell it for you. There was one station we were allowed to watch in our house when my dad was home. I’ll just bet you can figure out which one it was. Yep, all the other kids got to watch Sanford and Son, but I had to watch PBS. All the other kids got to watch The Brady Bunch, but I had to watch PBS. All the other kids … well, you see the pattern. It goes on FOREVER.

I loved all those years of watching PBS, as you can imagine (she said with sarcasm and attitude). I loved them so much that I swore when I left home, I would never watch PBS again, and if people asked why, I would say, “I was forced to watch it as a child.” 

Disclaimer: I broke this rule when my girls were young because Sesame Street was on two times a day in Champaign … on PBS … and for two hours a day, I could plop my children in front of the TV and have some sanity for myself. Yes, I used Sesame Street as a babysitter, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

So, now that you know the background, here’s the update. When the pandemic started, the governor held a press conference every day, and I liked to watch them because I geek out on press conferences. It’s a fact. That was something I worked with in my professional life, and I liked to watch them to see how well they were run, how well the questions were answered, whether they used correct grammar, etc. I even enjoyed the sign language guy.

The Chicago area PBS station, WTTW, posted the full conferences on their website every day, so I was able to watch them whenever I wanted. At some point I realized to my shock and dismay (remember I’m still sort of new up here), that I was watching PBS. Not a happy day for Andee, but there it was. After several months I thought I really should make a donation to this station that had provided so much viewing pleasure for me, so I got a Passport Membership.

That was the gateway. There’s always a gateway. And before I knew it, I was getting emails about various shows for Passport Members. I thought I would at least read the emails, and before I knew it, I was looking at their website for more information. Let this be a lesson to you. That’s how they get you.

Turns out there are many shows I want to watch. I just looked for a few to mention here, and there are SO MANY. I can’t even begin to list them, but they have documentaries about everything, historical dramas, informational shows, shows about the arts. Ugh, there are so many shows! I was invited to a zoom-type presentation called Behind-the-Scenes of Chicago from the Air. I love Behind-the-Scenes shows, so I read more. Before I knew it, I had registered. I didn’t even know there was a Chicago from the Air program until I saw the email with the Behind-the-Scenes invitation. So, I watched that. It was quite fascinating. So now, of course, I have to watch the actual Chicago from the Air show. 

Fun Fact: Did you know Chicago was built on a grid? AND … the diagonal streets were constructed following the trails used by Native Americans! I learned this by watching … God help me … PBS. I told my girls about this and where I learned it, and they laughed a lot and said, “Bet Grandpa is laughing right now too!” 

Dammit. That’s all I have to say.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Day My White Bubble Shattered

I have struggled with writing this for a very long time, and now that the Black Lives Matter movement is at the forefront, this has come back to me once again. It’s about the day, I think it was three years ago, when I was stunned to learn that white privilege does exist, and I witnessed it personally.

There were five of us at a nice restaurant in Baltimore. Two of the others were my daughter, Lindsay, and her love, Monroe. I normally wouldn’t make this distinction, but I am for purposes of this post … Monroe is Black.

So we went into this restaurant, and Monroe went to the host stand and asked for a table for five. They said we should wait in the bar until they called us, and we were fine with that. We went to the bar, which was right next to the dining area, and had drinks while we waited. The entire time we were there, we could see, maybe 10 feet away from us, an empty table that could accommodate us. After a short while, Monroe went back to the stand and asked about it. He was told something that didn’t really make sense. It wasn’t reserved, but they wanted to keep it open to balance the table service, something like that.

So we waited some more as we looked at the same open table. Monroe again went back and asked about the table. Again, we were told something that didn’t make sense.

We waited at least 30 minutes, and after I went over to ask, they finally sat us at THAT SAME TABLE and acted like it had been waiting for us all along.

Side note – my former boss and mentor often said if something wasn’t logical, there’s probably another reason for it. This definitely did not make sense. There had to be another reason for it.

At some point I had this horrific realization that I wouldn’t allow myself to believe. Eventually, I had to ask Monroe. I said something like, “Please tell me this didn’t happen because you checked us in and you’re Black.”

In his typically kind manner, with a little half smile, he said, “Just another day in the life.”

That was three years ago, and it still haunts me. That was the day my nice little bubble was shattered. I thought I didn’t have white privilege. I thought the whole concept was exaggerated. I mean, I’m Jewish, so I’ve certainly had some struggles over the years. I understood what a member of a minority could go through. I was in a minority. I got it … until the day I didn’t. I’d had no idea.

I’m still stunned that this happened. I haven’t even talked about it much because I haven’t known what to say. I don’t even know if the other two people in our group had the same perception. But I know this. It was not logical.

Now that several horrific actions have senselessly taken the lives of Black people, my comparatively minor experience has come back to me once again. It wasn’t just a fluke. It has been made very clear that horrible things have happened to people for no reason other than the color of their skin. And let me say this - I’m not angry at all police officers. I’m angry at a society that has turned a blind eye over and over and over again.

This has to change, and it has to change now. And yes, I will be a part of it.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

When Did I Become Old?

I have a lot of time on my hands now since I’m trying to stay home to avoid the coronavirus. I’m still not quite sure as to when I became old. I was living my life just fine, and now, all of a sudden, I’m not just what I refer to as an “active retiree.” The Center for Disease Control has pronounced me “old.”

My grandson likes to say it and give me a hard time about it, but it’s all been in fun mostly. One day we were talking about how much I loved him, and I told him I loved him so much that if a bus were speeding toward him, I would jump in front of it to try to save him, and without missing a beat and in all seriousness, he looked at me and said “…because you’re old.”

My immediate response to him was, “No, it’s because I love you, you little shit!” It’s possible I cleaned it up a little, but that’s exactly what I was saying in my head.

Of my group of friends in Huntley, I’m the youngest, and they’ve always called me the baby. I’ve also been called the nighttime Uber driver. Again, it’s all been in fun.

Until now.

I’m over 60, and I’m suddenly old. I have to hunker down, not just because I’m diabetic. I get that one, although it’s weird to think that being diabetic could cause me to be taken out when I feel fine. But until now, 60 just meant I was 60 (ok, 63 to be exact). I’ve always heard, and said, that age was just a number. You’re only as old as you feel. Remember all those sayings? Where are they now?

Now I’m in an old demographic, and I have to say, I’m slightly offended. A friend in our high school graduating class posted, “So, isn’t it nice to know that the CDC says we are officially old?” It made me laugh a lot because that was exactly what I was feeling! I knew it wasn’t just me, and others agreed.

Inside I’m still the same ‘70s girl who had the ‘70s experience and all that went with it. Well, I’m definitely wiser, I feel much better about myself, and I’m way more responsible; but still. I think I’m the same Andee, only better. I know getting up off the floor takes a little longer; there are hairs that pop out where they never used to be; and I often forget why I walked into a room. But other than that, I’m still me!

I guess I don’t have an important point to make here. Just be kind to all of us newly-old people, please. We were not prepared for this.