Tuesday, November 20, 2012


On NPR the other day, in a story about the latest Israel-Palestine events, I heard a soldier say that his philosophy was simple: "When you're kicked, you kick back."

Okay. It does sounds simple. Along the lines of an eye for an eye, I suppose. Not quite the same thing because it describes the loss but not the nature of the aggressive act. Still, both "philosophies" make it sound as though equality is possible. So, there I was, continuing to think about it, and that notion of equality, and I realized that there are all kinds of kicks.There's the astonishingly cultivated and magnificent Bruce Lee kick, as above. If one received a kick such as that, it's hard to imagine being equipped to kick back.
     But, really, there are a whole range of kicks. From the highly athletic

to the sweet and adorable
to the elementary
to the playful
Of course, we know that's not the kind the Israeli soldier meant. But still, one doesn't always kick back. If a three year old kicks an adult, we hope the adult doesn't kick back. Not to equate Palestinians with three year olds--not at all. Just to say that one sometimes moderates one's response, or should anyway, based on circumstances and potential for harm. And sometimes one shouldn't (though it may be very, very hard to resist) kick back at all because restraint may be for the greater good.
     I don't usually dabble in Middle East politics because it's all way more complex and ancient than I can ever hope to understand. But I do think it's worth questioning the idea of "when someone kicks you, you kick back."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tired Eyes

A few days ago, I called my eye doctor to make an appointment for a checkup. I've only been to this eye doctor once before, switched reluctantly when my old eye doctor, who I'd seen for years, retired. The old eye doctor, and her office, and all the people who worked there, were beyond eccentric. Someday I will write about that place and those people but not now. Their operation was extremely inefficient, and you could pass a few hours in that waiting room while things came together--between the just plain waiting, and the waiting with drops in your eyes, and all the rest. All the while the staff at the front desk gabbed away (as if no one could hear them) about all manner of bizarre and personal subjects. Anyway . . . all that is over now. My doctor was in her 80s, I think, with very bad back problems, and she finally just couldn't do it anymore. So I switched.
     The new place is the polar opposite, multiple doctors, multiple levels of people to guide you into rooms and move you along, and it's the ultimate in efficiency, but almost completely without character, or characters. At any rate, I'd received two reminder cards from this new office, so I finally called to make an appointment. The first time I called, it was a Friday afternoon, which I discovered, is one of the times during the week that they are closed. So I called again the next Tuesday. The phone rang more times than one would expect for such an efficient operation--and a professional office--so I began to suspect that maybe I'd found another time that they were closed. But, no, someone finally answered, and when I said I needed an appointment, she asked me to hold, which is not such an unusual thing to be told, so I went along with it.
     But then the recorded voice came on, telling me that in our "youth-centered culture," tired-looking eyes can age a person, and then the voice proceeded to tell me about the many procedures this doctor could perform to overcome this problem. That was the point at which I hung up.

There are so many things wrong with this message that I barely know where to begin: (1) why should I have to be exposed to their advertising when I am being held captive so that I can make an appointment at their office? (2) why do they think that this is how I would want to spend my time? (3) aren't they even a little bit ashamed about the insulting ageism? (4) if they are afraid their patients may not know about all the wonderful services they offer, how about a brochure in the waiting room, so a person can choose to learn about his (or not)?
     I was really mad, and it seemed like a good reason NOT to go to this doctor, but I decided to be assertive. So a few hours later, I called back, and when the receptionist answered, and I told her I needed an appointment, I also told her that I did not want to be put on hold, and I did not want to listen to their advertising, that I have other things to do in my life, and if I have to be on hold, I can do without the soundtrack, and if she put me on hold, and that advertising came on again, I would hang up again, and I would find another doctor. She said okay, and somehow, she managed to make the appointment for me herself. When I go in next week, I am going to give the doctor some feedback on his marketing practices.
     Someday, all of us will look like that lovely young lady in the top photo, and no one will look like that gentleman in the second photo. And someday, every square inch of our world--visual and auditory--will be used for commercial purposes. Everything will be a brand. Everything will be branded.