The Weekly Vent: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!

Those of you who, like me, are actually middle-aged probably recognize the tagline for my blog. It’s from the movie “Network”, made in 1976: a satire about the powerful media, mega corporations, financial manipulation and the choice between apathy or engagement. The central figure is middle-aged broadcaster Howard Beale, who restarts his failing network career meteorically as “the mad prophet of the airwaves.” In an iconic scene, he urges his viewers on live TV to go to their windows and shout “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

I was a teenager in 1976, and I remember the sense of malaise. We had just come through one “oil crisis” and, though we didn’t know it, were headed for another. We had suffered through Watergate and massive disillusionment. Inflation ran amok and people like my parents, middle-aged at the time, despaired as they saw savings become meaningless and the cost of living seemingly escalate beyond their reach or control. Our great cities were failing. New York City came within a whisker of declaring bankruptcy. The culture wars were brewing and the idealistic flower children of the 1960s had morphed into the narcissistic “Me Generation” of the 1970s. Things were bad.

Since then, some things have gotten better and some have gotten worse. Continue reading

Blog Feature: The Weekly Vent

Our last assignment for Blogging 101: to create a recurring blog feature. Given that this blog is here to function as my anger translator and personal Luther, it wasn’t hard to decide on one. The Weekly Vent.

Here is how Oregon State University explains vents on its site Volcano World: “Vents, of course, are the locations from which lava flows and pyroclastic material are erupted. Their forms and orientations can be used to determine many characteristics of the eruption with which they were associated.” Volcano World: Vents

So here’s the drill: every week, probably on Sunday evenings, I will post about something that made me want to scream that week. You can join me in the comments; comment guidelines apply. The purpose is not to attack, it is to vent. The forms and orientations of my vents can be used to determine what has caused me to erupt, but I promise to keep my sense of humor if you promise to keep yours.

And to those who irritate me: bless your hearts.



Yet again, the world is witnessing murderous cruelty on a massive scale. The brutality of ISIS toward Christians and practitioners of other religions, even other sects of Islam, is gut-churning. The closest parallel I can recall in recent decades is the genocide in Rwanda, when Hutus turned on their Tutsi neighbors and massacred them at the behest of vicious political leaders who hoped to gain power by unleashing hatred. Yet again, violent men with guns are imposing their will on people who mostly want the peace and safety to live their lives.

via Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East? – The New York Times.

I feel helpless but I am determined to find a way to unite with others of goodwill to do whatever can be done. The world cannot continue to stand by in silence — again. WE cannot stand by in silence — again.

Police brutality. Drug-inspired carnage. Religious and racial hatred. Hatred of all kinds. Man’s inhumanity to man. Massacres of innocents. What to do in the face of so much evil? What drives so many people to be so cruel?

Laugh or Cry?

The Republican primary race for the U.S. Presidency keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.  With Donald Trump’s surge in the polls, what is one to think? How is one to keep a straight face? The New Yorker magazine, as always, is handling the matter with dignity and delicacy. lol. One of my liberal friends said this week that the GOP primary field has now officially become “a double-decker clown car.” Continue reading

Resilience and adverse childhood experiences

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” H.H. The Dalai Lama.

“Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficulty to treat?”

Sound like some outcomes of bottled up rage? Yeah, I thought so too.

Childhood, disrupted

This is a long read but well worth it, and it offers hope to adults whose “adverse childhood experiences”, or ACEs, may be affecting their physical and mental health decades later. The good news is that an ACE score can be partially offset by resilience factors, such as having other caring adults in a child’s life or the knowledge that even a flawed parent did love the child. You can test yourself for both ACEs and resilience here:

Got Your ACE Score?

Sad and Mad

I was raised in a household where children were never allowed to express anger. Not that all anger was forbidden or unexpressed — just children’s anger. A child’s anger was wrong — and bad. So I spent many years not admitting even to myself when I felt mad, and instead feeling sad and bad. And when I had children of my own, I wanted to teach them to know their emotions: to name them, acknowledge them and cope with them. Sort of like mindfulness for toddlers.

So I did a few things. I always told (and still tell) my kids clearly that I love them, every day if possible, even if it’s just a text now that my oldest is away at college. And when they did something that upset a member of the family, including me, I would say something like: “You did ___. That makes me sad. And mad. I am sad because (fill in the blank: you broke something I liked; you said something hurtful; you pushed your sister). I am mad because (fill in that blank: you know better; you hurt someone; what you did was wrong and here’s why).”

Then I would work with the child to address the situation: offer an explanation, clean up the mess, apologize to the sibling, take some time out to think about what just happened, reflect on why the kid did it, think of better ways to proceed next time. The idea was to model that we can be sad and mad, but those feelings don’t make us bad. It’s how we choose to respond to those feelings that can turn a situation bad.

I was reminded of this, reading another blogger’s eloquent post about Pagliacci, and anxiety and sadness, and how those can look like anger: Pagliacci Is In Town Tonight. I would add that not allowing yourself to feel mad can make you feel really, really sad.  And THAT’S bad.

Illustration: Sad and Mad; found on

Proud Grandma

Photo credit: Jon Davidson, Office of President Clinton

The New York Times has just blogged that Hillary Clinton is presenting herself on the campaign trail as an “unapologetic” grandmother. Since when does anyone have to apologize for being a grandparent?

Taking Note: “Hillary Clinton, Unapologetic Grandma”

As the NY Times noted, given “the lack of respect generally afforded older women in America, asserting oneself as both grandmother and candidate still feels groundbreaking.” Okay, here’s a challenge to all the press: don’t write about Hillary Clinton in a way you wouldn’t write about a male candidate: no hairstyle critiques, no wardrobe commentary, no speculation as to whether family matters might make her withdraw from the field. Oh, and please stop body-shaming legendary female athletes while you’re at it. K, thanks.

Double Fault in Article on Serena Williams and Body Image

(EPA/Thomas Lovelock)

Righteous Anger

An op-ed today calls for more white people to emulate Jenny Horne, the (white, Republican, female) state legislator whose passionate statement in favor of taking down the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina went viral yesterday: The Power of White Outrage, by Dorothy Brown.

Watch the video embedded in the article; you’ll see a vivid example of righteous middle-aged rage. One male legislator, an outspoken opponent of taking down the flag, who kept the debate going for thirteen long hours by proposing ridiculous amendments like one that called for the American flag to be hung upside down on the Statehouse if the rebel flag was taken from the grounds (patriotic, right?), told a reporter that Representative Horne’s statement was “unbalanced” and “self-serving.”

No, sir. What you saw was an intelligent, middle-aged woman, willing to stand up for what she knew to be right and for people she knew to have been wronged, who was mad as hell and not willing to take it any more. She won. Get used to it.