Apr 30, 2013

Balboa Park Trails in San Diego

This area of Balboa Park Trails is very easy walking and also very beautiful at this time of the year---all of the spring wildflowers are out.  In this area dogs must be on a leash but 2 off-leash dog parks are near by.  The Morley Field Dog Park is about 2 minutes walking distance.  The area in this vid is right behind the swimming pool and the tennis courts and very near a large and uncrowded parking lot.

Sam...the mixer is not a couch!


from www.chloetoo.com
buy this cute stocking stuffer with paypal
black candy 

tax and shipping included

Jeremy Irons....Sexy, Trashy and fighting for a good cause....

Jeremy Irons talks trash for his new environmental documentary

Oscar-winning actor explains why he travelled around the world to highlight the environmental problems caused by our waste
Jeremy Irons on the set of movie Trashed
Jeremy Irons on the set of movie Trashed. Photograph: Blenheim Film
Jeremy Irons, the Oscar-winning actor, has teamed up with the British filmmaker Candida Brady to produce a new feature-length documentary called Trashed. It sets out to "discover the extent and effects of the global waste problem, as he travels around the world to beautiful destinations tainted by pollution".
Ahead of its first theatrical screenings in the US later this month, Irons answered my questions about the film via email...
We are used to actors/singers/celebrities, etc, highlighting a particular environmental cause, or narrating a documentary. But it is unusual to see someone such as yourself getting quite so involved in a project liked Trashed. [Irons was also executive producer.] How did you come to be involved so intimately in this film?
I wanted to help create a film on a subject of real social importance. Candida Brady and I talked over various possible subjects, but none, we felt, compared with the problem of waste, which affects us all, and which, despite all the evidence and research available, is not being seriously faced. I felt such a film should be made for theatrical release, rather than TV and such documentaries seem to need a personality on which to hang them. As an actor I've always seen myself as a sort of storyteller and my involvement in Trashed seemed a logical progression of that role. Apart from being the face on the screen, I was also able to help with raising the finance, and in persuading my friend Vangelis [who scored the film] to come on board with us.
You travel widely in the film - Vietnam, France, Iceland, Beirut, San Francisco, Yorkshire, the world's oceans - to report both on the problems and potential solutions associated with wasteful consumerism. Which places/people stood out for you - and why?
Each place had its particular effect on me. Sidon [south of Beirut] showed me what happens if you do nothing. [The film shows a huge rubbish dump on the beach.] Iceland showed me how state agencies can so easily be seduced by experts who promise to make their problems go away, but who become conspicuously absent when their promises do not deliver. With so many "Waste to Energy" plants applying for planning in the UK, Iceland and France's experience of them was a real eye-opener for me.
The danger of dioxins in our environment, our food chain and our bodies is difficult to illustrate, since they are not visible to the naked eye. My time in Vietnam allowed me to see the result of large quantities of them, and therefore understand better the insidiousness of the smaller quantities that have found their way into our lives and bodies.
Yorkshire and Gloucestershire, with their massive toxic waste mounds, showed me the extent of the problem in my own back yard. Since we filmed, these problems have been further exacerbated by the recent research showing that the clay used under liners, designed to prevent contamination of ground water, actually enhance the process of the toxins leaching out!
And San Francisco gave me enormous hope that, if the will is there, then these problems can be dealt with, and in a commercially profitable way.
The film talks about that much-used term - "zero waste". How close can we ever realistically get to that goal? What's more important to tackle at present: reducing our waste stream, or adopting more sensible ways to manage/dispose of our waste?
San Francisco has actually reached 80% diversion or Zero Waste this year. New York, which creates 1.5% of total global waste, currently recycles only 15% of it. State and federal government should provide legislation which designs a waste management policy right across the country. In the UK there is a similar situation in that, depending where you live, the waste management policies and goals differ greatly. I believe that most people would like to cooperate in reducing waste, but to encourage them the national policy should be clear, well advertised and consistent. Even within Greater London there is a huge discrepancy between council policies. I believe a national waste management initiative should be designed and implemented by government. Not to burn it or bury it, but to design and encourage its reduction and recycling. This time of rising unemployment seems ideally suited to the creation of a new and forward-thinking industry that could be profitable and create new jobs. If we became world leaders in recycling technology, then that expertise could be exported around the world.
The film is very critical of incineration and energy-from-waste plants, in particular the dioxins they release into the atmosphere. But was it proportionate to show footage of jars containing preserved foetuses with birth defects in a hospital in Vietnam to make the point about the health risk of exposure to high levels of dioxins? Can you really compare the health impact caused by the spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war with the dioxins emitted by incinerators?
To enlarge on my earlier answer, Candida Brady, the director, thought long and hard about this and decided to show the foetuses for two reasons; firstly, because dioxins and furansPCBs, etc, are all just words, until you can actually see and understand the impact these compounds are capable of having in the human body and on life in general. We felt it was important to show this. And, secondly, a 2001 BBC Newsnight investigation found that ash from a London incinerator, dumped in the open, had a similar level of dioxins to Vietnamese soil after the spraying of Agent Orange. This is just one example we found. 
And it should be borne in mind that the monitoring of dioxin emissions in the UK could be described as casual, if not cavalier. Incinerator filters are only checked between two and four times annually for a few hours at a time. Even Belgium, which boasts the most advanced measuring system, only measures emissions over a two-week period, before averaging those emissions out over the year. Nowhere are emissions monitored constantly. So the truth is that the real quantity of dioxin emissions from incineration remains unknown. 
Finally, it is important to remember that, in the past, medical research generally looked only into the effects of these compounds at high dosage, whereas recently they have discovered evidence that dioxins are having an effect on foetuses at very, very low doses.
The film gives thanks to Sigrid Rausing at the end, presumably because she, or her trust, financially supported the film. Of course, the Rausing family famously made its fortune from food packaging. What message do you send to the packaging industry? Is it right to cast it as a "villain"? Or could it also be the key to solving our waste problem?
Tetra Pak are a good example of a company working hard to produce recyclable products, and we are very grateful to the Rausing Trust for their involvement. We tried not to cast any one as the villain in the film. Over-packaging is a complicated, though not insurmountable, problem. We have become used to food and consumables which are transported often over great distances. Intelligent packaging is essential, but I believe it should be reusable or returnable for reuse. Toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of food packaging is another, even more alarming, part of the problem. Four hundred million tonnes of chemicals are produced each year and according to a European Commission, information on the risks inherent in 99% of them is 'sketchy'. This is a regulatory issue. We need to stop toxic chemicals being used in these products in the first place.
You visit San Francisco at the end of the film and largely paint it as a beacon of hope - a place that's "doing it right" when it comes to managing waste. What other examples of "hope" and best practice can you give?
Happily, lots. There are wonderful things happening all around the world. From Nova Scotia to Kerala, Bristol to Melbourne, and even in the Philippines, zero waste is on the agenda. I think what's particularly inspiring is when communities don't wait to be told what to do, but just go ahead and do it. In northern Italy, many villages and towns have used their own initiative and achieved 70% diversion, in some cases, in less than a year.
Are we, as individual consumers, ultimately responsible for this global waste problem? Or is, in reality, now the responsibility of politicians, regulators, industry leaders, etc, to sort it out?
It is everyone's problem and all of our responsibility. It's time we were all informed and it's time to get angry and maybe even a little ashamed of ourselves. But it must be up to our elected representatives to do what they were elected for. To represent the best interests of those who put them where they are. To organise a system that will cut the amount of waste we produce, both domestically and industrially, and to mount a campaign to encourage us to recycle and re-use. Our population, and especially our children, the next generation, needs educating about the present problem of waste. For instance, plastic bag usage has risen in the last year in the UK. If you knew that there was a chance that your plastic bag was going to come back to you in your food, you might think twice about using it. The joy of the problem, unlike so many which confront us, is that it is easily surmountable.
When you were researching the film, what were your sources for information and inspiration? Was there, say, a book, film, or academic paper, that particularly influenced you?
Candida Brady collected an amazing amount of research on the subject. She would pass me that information if and when I needed it. There are more than 81 peer-reviewed published scientific papers on the film's website, most of them sources for the film. I think she would agree that the paper which disturbed her more than anything was a 2009 study of umbilical cord blood, which found up to 232 man-made industrial compounds and pollutants present in a child before it is even born. Ten out of ten babies were shown to have chlorinated dioxins in their blood.
Who are you hoping will see the film? How/where will it be distributed? Television, theatrical release, festivals, schools?
It opens in the US on the 14th December at The Quad in New York and Laemmle in LA. It will be released in South America and the UK in the spring, and we are presently finalising the distribution in Japan. Of course, I hope it will finally get distributed all around the globe, since this is clearly a global problem. We have plans to screen it for government, both in London and Washington, and I would hope that all local councils will be made aware of its presence. I cannot believe that once our policy makers have seen it they will not be forced to take action. But it is my dream to find a backer who would finance a shorter cut that we could send out to every school in the world to play in the classroom. I have no doubt, that if seen by the world's children, then, if we don't deal with the problem, they will.
What do you want people to do once they've seen the film?
I would like them to research whether there is a waste-to-energy plant planned for their area, and, if there is, to oppose it. If there is not, then to discover how their local council deals with their waste. I would like them to lobby their MPs for legislation designed to cut waste and to regulate the production of packaging, particularly plastics containing unreported toxins, and particularly where this packaging is used for foodstuffs and bottled water. I would like them to remove all packaging at the point of purchase, thereby pushing the problem one step back towards the manufacturers.
I would like them to use their ingenuity to discover how they can reduce waste both at home and in their workplace. I would like everybody to give a good shopping bag to at least one person this Christmas. And I would like them to tell their friends to see Trashed.

copied from the guardian and cbs

Let's not just go around wrecking the place............

Jeremy Irons

Irons recently produced a new documentary about recycling, titled "Trashed," which shows the terrifying possibility of a future world buried in its own garbage.

"I wanted to make a documentary about something which I thought was important and which was curable," he told CBS News' Tracy Smith. "It's not rocket science."

For more info:
"Trashed" (Official site)

By CBS News.com senior editor David Morgan
Credit: CBS News

Apr 29, 2013

David Bowie's London

David Bowie's London
Right now that would be the Victoria and Albert Museum--where the very popular David Bowie Exhibition is taking place.
In the first place the Victoria and Albert Museum is a great way to spend the day out of the cold weather that is currently plaguing my favorite city.
I could easily spend all day there--the food is excellent and reasonably priced--perfect for tea or dinner--and best of all, admission is free.
There is also an exhibition there about fashion showing styles from the 1700's to the present time.  That portion is also free and it is very worth seeing--it shows the importance of the couture designers on fashion trends and clothing construction.  My sewing teacher had spoken of the the V and A--I had been longing to see it forever--that alone was worth the visit.
The other very convenient thing about the V and A is the location--right at the south Kensington Tube Station--if it is too cold just enter the place from the tunnel underground.
When we were there we thought David Bowie must have been there in person the way the crowd was lining up straight out of the door to see him.

Needless to say the David Bowie Exhibition is very popular.

copied from the v and a website:
23 March – 11 August 2013. The V&A has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie. David Bowie is features more than 300 objects that include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie's own instruments.
and for more info here is the link:

David Bowie is

Apr 24, 2013

will the re-addition of Mick Taylor to the Rolling Stones as a "guest" finally unshackle Mick Jagger from Keith Richards.....

will the re-addition of Mick Taylor to the Rolling Stones as a "guest" finally unshackle Mick Jagger from Keith Richards.....


copied from The National......


Mick Jagger's latest bid to break orbit from Keith Richards

Mick Jagger, the frontman of the Rolling Stones, has, according to Keith Richards, been unbearable for 30 years. Richards made this not altogether shocking revelation last year in Life, his appropriately named autobiography. He would also describe his love-hate relationship with Jagger as being "like a marriage with no divorce".
Looking at the band's output over that same period, it's hard to disagree. The creative spark that once propelled the Stones to the top of the world was extinguished years ago, replaced by an efficient, profitable but largely cheerless union of two of rock and roll's greatest figures.
Indeed, Tattoo You, released in 1981, marked the band's last truly great album. There have been high points since - notably, patches of 1983's Undercover and fragments of 1994's Voodoo Lounge - but the modern era has been largely fallow, a time when Jagger and Richards may have stopped fighting, but they also stopped loving each other, too.
Periodically, Jagger has tried to break free from the ties that bind, only to find out that Richards was right all along: theirs is a marriage from which there is no escape. Or is there?
Last week Jagger announced his latest bid for liberation, this time as one-fifth of a fledgling supergroup called SuperHeavy.
Despite the band's big name, Jagger is the outright star of an otherwise middleweight combination, in which the other members are Dave Stewart, most famous for being one-half of the Eighties duo Eurythmics; AR Rahman, the composer of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack; Damian Marley, known in these parts for cancelling his appearance at the Womad music festival last year, and Joss Stone, once a platinum-selling teenage prodigy, but most recently in the news for being the subject of a thankfully foiled murder plot.
Miracle Worker, SuperHeavy's first single, broke cover late last week (an album will follow in September) and while the reactions of Jagger's most ardent fans have generally been warm, the song has yet to seriously trouble the download charts in either the US or the UK. Which is a shame. The track, an odd and not particularly innovative mishmash of styles, features vocals by Marley, Stone and Jagger (whose opening salvo is to declare that "there's nothing wrong with you that I can't fix" - a message for Richards, perhaps?) is, nevertheless, hookey enough to warrant a place on a longish list of tracks to wile away the summer to.
According to a video posted on the SuperHeavy website, the idea for the band came to Stewart when he was in the Caribbean where, he explains in the slightly absurd manner of a mystic rock star: "I went to the top of a hill and when I got [there] a light was kind of coming through the leaves on the trees and I had this flash of how there could be a fusion of music from different parts of the world ... I never actually thought it would happen."
But happen it has, and SuperHeavy could well be Jagger's smartest move for a generation. Of all his work outside the Stones, his one-hit 1985 collaboration with David Bowie is most fondly remembered.
Now with SuperHeavy, Jagger might once again have the creative forces surrounding him to ease the burden of expectation we continue to place on the greats of a bygone era, although only time will tell whether the unusual mix of a performer-producer (Stewart), composer (Rahman), dancehall-reggae star (Marley) and soul singer (Stone) will end up delivering that elusive success or even the fusion to which Stewart alluded to.
One thing we do know: Jagger won't be distracted by his supergroup for long, especially when his best buddy-worst enemy is waiting patiently for him to roll home to the Stones. Even if we hurt the ones we love the most, we can't help returning to them either.

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/music/mick-jaggers-latest-bid-to-break-orbit-from-keith-richards#ixzz2RPG8kxJZ
Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook

the role of the US Secret Service in the murder of President Kennedy--Mark Lane Speaking at Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville

copied from facebook.....I would love to hear Mark Lane....

Dear Friends:

Exciting news. I have been invited to speak at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, June 8 at 1:00 PM. I will be speaking about my two most recent books, Last Word and Citizen Lane. The admission is, of course, free. The address is the Barracks Road Shopping Center, at 1035 Emmet Street.

First of all, please come if you can.

Second, please notify everyone on your lists about the talk. I will be discussing a subject that we have not previously fully explored -- the role of the US Secret Service in the murder of President Kennedy.


Mark Lane
The Lane Group, LLC
4 Old Farm Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903


I'm Muslim, and I hate terrorism

copied from CNN opinion.......
Part of complete coverage from

I'm Muslim, and I hate terrorism

updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
A woman makes a peace sign gesture at a protest in Los Angeles, California, against religious hatred.
A woman makes a peace sign gesture at a protest in Los Angeles, California, against religious hatred.
  • Dean Obeidallah says "despise" is not strong enough to convey how much he hates terrorism
  • He says Islam is being wrongly defined by a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists
  • American Muslims have denounced terror over and over, he says, but public hasn't heard
  • Terrorists are motivated by politics, he says. Not one Muslim he knows supports terror
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.
(CNN) -- I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.
I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.
The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.
The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.
Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah
'God, don't let it be a Muslim'
Group accused of posting anti-Muslim ads
We hate these terrorists more than non-Muslims. How can I say that? Because they harm innocent people in the name of our religion and consequently we suffer a backlash because of their acts. It can be anything from a spike in hate crimes to people viewing Muslims as less than fully American because of our faith. We are the ones called to answer for the sins of people we detest.
Since the Boston bombing has renewed for some concerns about Muslims, I wanted to candidly answer three questions I have been asked repeatedly over the years:
1. Why do some Muslims commit terrorism?
I'm not a terrorism expert but I will share the view of those I have spoken to in the Muslim community. There can be no doubt that some Muslims wrongly believe that their terrorist act is sanctioned by Islam. But to us their true motivation is not religious, but rather political.
Islam is simply used by terrorists as a way to recruit support.They then engage in terrorism to bring attention to their grievances or to achieve their political agenda, just as other terror groups have done in the past.
The recent statement of the Islamic militant group in the Caucasus region denying involvement in the Boston bombing makes this very point. They expressly tell us that they have a specific political agenda: "The Caucasian Mujahideen are not fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous crimes against Muslims."
2. Why don't Muslims denounce terrorism?
Just to be clear: American Muslims and U.S. Muslim organizations have unequivocally denounced terror attacks. Not just once, but over and over.
But that doesn't matter if you haven't heard it. And despite our best efforts to get this message out there, what attracts more media attention: A Muslim denouncing terrorism or footage of an explosion?
Does that mean that we will stop denouncing terrorism? Of course not. But we will have to be more creative in our efforts to attract media coverage to make this point to our fellow Americans.
3. Why don't Muslims stop blowing stuff up?
I have never blown up anything, except maybe a model toy tank when I was a kid. Nor has any other Muslims I've met in person or even on Facebook. But still we are charged by many with the task of policing a religion of more than a billion people.
Although this may not change some people's perception, statistically Muslims have not been the ones involved in most terror plots in the United States. In fact, since 1995, 88% of the domestic terrorist plots have been by right-wing groups, ecoterrorists and anarchists, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. But still, 12% were Muslims.
Believe me, we wish that number were zero. But here's the brutal truth: Neither law enforcement nor the American Muslim community can stop every radical or criminal who happens to be Muslim. A "lone wolf" can devise his or her evil plan in secret, making detection almost impossible.
But we are trying. As L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca testified before Congress in 2011, seven of the past 10 al Qaeda plots in the United States were foiled by tips from the American Muslim community.
And just this past Sunday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that his department has a strong working relationship with the New York City Muslim community.
And it's not only American-Muslims working with law enforcement to stop radicals, but Canadians as well. Just this week we saw an Islamic terror plot prevented because of tips from the Canadian-Muslim community to law enforcement
It is my hope that in time, Muslims will not be defined to my fellow Americans by the handful of terrorists, but by the millions of others who are involved in all aspects of American life. Well-known American Muslims range from former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, TV personality Dr. Oz, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison to police officers, teachers, judges, deli workers, cab drivers and the millions of American Muslims in between.
These people, not the terrorists, are the true Muslims.
Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

Apr 23, 2013

Peter Lusk....he's pretty good at explaining things......

Peter Lusk....he's pretty good at explaining things......

When it comes to options I always have to go back to Peter Lusk at the CBOE to get it.

Reading and reading....it can be a slow and tedious process...Peter tells a few good stories and has a way of talking that's easy to understand for the average person just trying to figure out what to do next.   

Trying to get as much info as possible......but there's just so many places to go to get it on the internet it becomes confusing.

A trip back to Peter Lusk and The Strategy of the Week is helpful and refreshing...and entertaining to...he has good stories...

here he is on mini-options, which is a new and interesting subject in itself...

here is the link and it is the CBOE.......


Apr 22, 2013

The Debt...When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?

copied from Slate..........
HOME /  Family :  Snapshots of life at home.

The Debt

When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?

Illustration by Charlie Powell.
Illustration by Charlie Powell
What do we owe our tormentors? It’s a question that haunts those who had childhoods marked by years of neglect and deprivation, or of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of one or both parents. Despite this terrible beginning, many people make it out successfully and go on to build satisfying lives. Now their mother or father is old, maybe ailing, possibly broke. With a sense of guilt and dread, these adults are grappling with whether and how to care for those who didn’t care for them.
Rochelle, 37, wrote to me in my role as Slate’s Dear Prudence because of the pressure she was getting from friends to reach out to her mother. Rochelle is a banquet waitress in the Midwest. She has a boyfriend but lives alone and has no children. She and her younger brother grew up with an angry, alcoholic mother who was on welfare but cleaned houses off the books to supplement the check. Rochelle’s parents were never married and split when she was young. Her mother always told her not to have children. “We were the reason her life turned out as it did,” Rochelle says. She told Rochelle she was so stupid that she’d need to find a rich husband to support her. She said she couldn’t wait for Rochelle to turn 18 and get out of her house. Rochelle’s younger brother had difficulties from the start—she looks back and thinks he might have been autistic. Her mother used to take a belt to him and call him the devil and say she wished he’d never been born.
Rochelle started waitressing when she was 15. By 18, she was indeed out of the house and into an abusive relationship with an older man. She broke up with him, got her own apartment, a decent boyfriend, and started working to put herself through college. Then her brother was killed at age 18, shot in the heart during a silly fight over a girl. Rochelle stepped up and took care of all the funeral arrangements. Her father came and, when he left, hugged her goodbye. “That was the first time he ever hugged me,” she recalls. Her mother called later that night, drunk, and said that, by hugging her, Rochelle’s father was trying to molest Rochelle. Rochelle wrote her mother a letter saying she had a drinking problem and needed help. In response she got a letter saying that she was a horrible daughter and she would get what she deserved and that her brother was defective and needed to die.
That was Rochelle’s breaking point—after that, she didn’t see her mother for the next 13 years. Even though Rochelle was barely scraping by, she would sometimes send her mother money for rent, knowing she probably used it for booze. Occasionally, a friend would check on her mother and give her a report. Then last year a tornado struck the town where Rochelle’s mother lived, and Rochelle went to make sure she was all right. That began a sort of rapprochement. Rochelle started taking her mother out to lunch every other Sunday. She did it not because she felt she owed her mother anything: “Absolutely not.” Instead it was for her own sense of self. “To me being a good person means helping people when you can.”
The visits took a toll. Rochelle describes a physical response that sounds a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder. “All the stuff I tried to let go of seeps in. One little thing—the scent of her cigarettes, a mannerism, a word—floods back all these memories.” Rochelle started chewing gum on the drive to see her mother, she says, “because I’m clenching my jaw, white-knuckling the steering wheel.”
Rochelle found that being a good person to her mother was so draining that it left her sleepless and snapping at the people she did love. Her mother’s verbal abuse resumed and her demands started escalating—she wanted more attention, more money. Rochelle got a therapist, and with her help, has again cut ties with her mother. Rochelle says, “I can’t sacrifice my life and sanity in order to try to save her.”
In an essay in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes that the relationship of adults to their abusive parents “gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature.” But Rochelle is not alone. I have been hearing from people in her position for years, adult children weighing whether to reconnect with parents who nearly ruined their lives. Sometimes it’s a letter writer such as “Comfortably Numb” who has cut off contact with a parent but is now being pressured by family members, and even a spouse, to reconcile and forgive. Sometimes a correspondent, like “Her Son,” has hung on to a thread of a relationship, but is now fearful of being further yoked emotionally or financially to a declining parent.
One hallmark of growing up in a frightening home is for the children to think they are the only ones in such circumstances. Even when they reach adulthood and come to understand that many others have had dire childhoods, they might not reveal the details of their abuse to anyone. “The profound isolation that’s imposed on people is a very painful and destructive thing,” says Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-principal investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.3 million cases of abuse or neglect were reported to child protective service agencies in 2010. This vastly undercounts the actual number of horrific and painful childhoods, as most never make it into any official record. The CDC notes that some studies estimate that 20 percent of children will be the victims of such maltreatment. That means a lot of people are wrestling with this legacy.
Loved ones and friends—sometimes even therapists—who urge reconnecting with a parent often speak as if forgiveness will be a psychic aloe vera, a balm that will heal the wounds of the past. They warn of the guilt that will dog the victim if the perpetrator dies estranged. What these people fail to take into account is the potential psychological cost of reconnecting, of dredging up painful memories and reviving destructive patterns.
Eleanor Payson, a marital and family therapist in Michigan and the author of The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists, sees some clients who feel it would be immoral to abandon a now-feeble parent, no matter how destructive that person was. Payson says she advises them to find ways to be caring while protecting themselves from further abuse. “One of my missions is helping people not be tyrannized by false guilt or ignore their own pain and needs,” she says. Setting limits is crucial: “You may need to keep yourself in a shark cage with no opportunity to let that person take a bite out of you.” It’s also OK for the conversation to be anodyne. “You can say something respectful, something good-faith-oriented. ‘I wish you well’; ‘I continue to work on my own forgiveness.’ ”
There is no formula for defining one’s obligations to the parents who didn’t fulfill their own. The stories of famous people with abusive parents reveal the wide range of possible responses. Abraham Lincoln couldn't stand his brutish father, Thomas, who hated Abraham’s books and sent him out as a kind of indentured servant. As an adult, Lincoln did occasionally bail out his father financially. But during his father’s final illness, Lincoln ignored letters telling him the end was near. Finally, he wrote not to his father, but his stepbrother to explain his absence: “Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant.” Lincoln didn’t attend his father’s funeral.
Warren Buffett remained distantly dutiful to his mother, who had subjected her children to endless, rabid verbal attacks. On the occasions he visited her at the end of her life, he was a “wreck” of anxiety, sitting silently while his female companions made conversation. He was 66 when she died at 92. His tears at her death were not because he was sad or because he missed her, he said in his biography, The Snowball. “It was because of the waste.”
Bruce Springsteen’s frustrated, depressive father took out much of his rage on his son. In a New Yorker profile, David Remnick writes that long after Springsteen’s family had left his unhappy childhood home, he would obsessively drive by the old house. A therapist said to him, “Something went wrong, and you keep going back to see if you can fix it or somehow make it right.” Springsteen finally came to accept he couldn’t. When he became successful he did give his parents the money to buy their dream house. But Springsteen says of this seeming reconciliation, “Of course, all the deeper things go unsaid, that it all could have been a little different.”
We all accept that there is an enduring bond between parent and child. One of the Ten Commandments is to “honor your father and your mother,” though this must have been a difficult admonition for the children of, for example, Abraham, Rebecca, and Jacob. Yet the loyalty of children to even the worst of parents makes perfect biological sense. From an evolutionary perspective, parents, even poor ones, are a child’s best chance for food, shelter, and survival.
Regina Sullivan is a research professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Langone School of Medicine who studies emotional attachment in rats. In experiments with rats raised by mothers who neglect or physically hurt their pups, Sullivan has teased out that, when in the presence of the caregiver, the infant brain’s fear and avoidance circuits are suppressed. Attachment “programs the brain,” she says. “The ability of an adult who can say to you, I had a horrible childhood, I don’t like my parents, but then do things to continue to get the parents’ approval, is an example of the strength of human attachment in early life.”
As Springsteen’s experience shows, one doesn’t just leave such childhoods behind, like outgrowing a fear of the dark. Study after study has found that just as an emotionally warm, intellectually stimulating childhood is typically a springboard for a happy, healthy life, an abusive one can cause a litany of problems.
Abuse victims are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, broken relationships, chronic diseases, and even obesity. Many of the high-functioning people I hear from who are wrestling with their debt to their parents have struggled with some of these issues. Rochelle says, “I was a very angry kid, I got into fights in grade school. I’ve worked on it a lot, on not being the spiteful angry person all the time.” She also says she has dealt with food issues her whole life. Her mother brought home groceries once a month and she and her brother would devour the food before unpacking it. “We were starving,” she says. “If I have an addiction, it’s eating.”
Those who refuse to make peace with a failing parent may also find themselves judged harshly. In his memoir Closing Time, Joe Queenan writes of the loathing he and his sisters felt for their alcoholic, physically and psychologically abusive father. When they were grown, Queenan writes: “We talked about him as if he were already dead; such wishful thinking was rooted in the hope that he would kick the bucket before reaching the age when he might expect one of us to take him in,” although they agreed none would. When the father finally died, he wrote, “Clemency was not included in my limited roster of emotions.” In a review of the book in the Wall Street Journal, Alexander Theroux writes, “It is a shameful confession to make in any book.”
In his New York Times essay, Richard Friedman acknowledges that some parent-child relationships are so toxic that they must be severed. But he adds, “Of course, relationships are rarely all good or bad; even the most abusive parents can sometimes be loving, which is why severing a bond should be a tough, and rare decision.” But substitute “husband” for “parents,” and surely Friedman would not advise a woman in such a relationship to carry on because her battering spouse had a few redeeming qualities.
I know from my own inbox that many people are looking for someone, anyone, to tell them they should not feel guilty for declining to care for their abuser. I’m happy to do it. In private correspondence with these letter writers, I sometimes point out that, judging by their accounts, there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement of guilt on the part of the parent for neglecting to meet their most basic responsibilities.
A woman I’ll call Beatrice wrote to me as she wrestled with how to respond to a series of emails, calls, and letters from her long-estranged parents. Beatrice, 42, has a doctorate, is a professor of mathematics at a Midwestern university, and lives with her supportive boyfriend. She thinks of herself simultaneously as a “self-made person” and a “damaged” one. She decided long ago not to have children. “I have never felt confident I could trust another person to be the other parent. I’m not sure I could be a competent parent because of what I’ve been through.”
Of her childhood she says, “I don’t remember any happy days at all.” Her father had violent rages; he once knocked her down a flight of stairs. If she couldn’t finish dinner, she would have to sit at the table all night, then get beaten by him if she didn’t clean her plate. Her mother never intervened. Her parents divorced when she was young and her father refused to pay child support. A few years later, her mother became the fifth wife of Beatrice’s new stepfather and life got much worse.
He was unemployed and always around. Beatrice was a young teen and when she got home from school he would go into her bedroom, put his fingers up her vagina, and say he was giving her a massage. He made her touch his genitals. He let his friends come over and “have fun” with her, as long as they didn’t take her virginity. When she was 17, she finally stood up to him and he kicked her out of the house. He told her mother she had taken off of her own accord. By that time she was working 40 hours a week at a crafts store in addition to going to school, and a co-worker let her move into her basement. She contacted her mother and asked her to meet her for lunch. Beatrice explained everything that had been going on with her stepfather. “She told me she didn’t believe a word and didn’t want to hear anymore,” Beatrice says. “That was the last time I saw her.” That was 25 years ago.
Beatrice says that during her childhood she would sometimes feel sorry for herself. Her friends would complain about their parents, or about having bad days, and she would think they had no idea what a bad day was. But she says of being on her own at 17, “The day my stepdad kicked me out, my life got better. I could come home and no one was trying to do anything bad to me. I didn’t have to hide. I didn’t worry about getting hit. That meant everything.”
Last year, separately and out of the blue, Beatrice’s mother and father each got in touch. Her biological father sent a small gift and a card with an update: He was in debt, out of work, and was supporting Beatrice’s troubled sister. A few months later, there was a message on her answering machine. “This is your mother,” the voice said. She wanted Beatrice to know her stepfather had only a few days to live. She told Beatrice she was willing to forgive her. “That made me laugh,” Beatrice says. Her mother started sending emails and Beatrice sent her a reply saying she was busy and couldn’t deal with any of this. She hasn’t heard back from her mother since. But she fears that both her parents will contact her again and explicitly ask for help.
“I’m worried about that happening. I’m worried she’ll call and say, ‘I have cancer.’ I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Beatrice says. “If she knows I’m a professor, I’m sure everyone thinks I make a huge salary and I’m going to save them. My salary is enough for me to do what I want.”
Dr. Ronald Rohner, an emeritus professor of family studies and anthropology at the University of Connecticut, has devoted much of his career to studying parental rejection and its effects. He says there’s little research on adult role reversal—that is, what happens when the parent is vulnerable and wants support from the child. But he says the studies that do exist demonstrate that “it really truly is as you sow, so shall you reap. Those parents who raised children less than lovingly are putting their own dependent old age at risk for being well and lovingly cared for themselves.”
In a 2008 essay in the journal In Character, history professor Wilfred McClay writes that as a society we have twisted the meaning of forgiveness into a therapeutic act for the victim: “[F]orgiveness is in danger of being debased into a kind of cheap grace, a waiving of standards of justice without which such transactions have no meaning.” Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School writes that, “There is a watered-down but widespread form of ‘forgiveness’ best tagged preemptory or exculpatory forgiveness. That is, without any indication of regret or remorse from perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, we are enjoined by many not to harden our hearts but rather to ‘forgive.’ ”
I agree with these more bracing views about what forgiveness should entail. Choosing not to forgive does not doom someone to being mired in the past forever. Accepting what happened and moving on is a good general principle. But it can be comforting for those being browbeaten to absolve their parents to recognize that forgiveness works best as a mutual endeavor. After all, many adult children of abusers have never heard a word of regret from their parent or parents. People who have the capacity to ruthlessly maltreat their children tend toward self-justification, not shame.
Even apologies can have their limits, as illustrated by a Dear Prudence letter from a mother who called herself “Sadder but Wiser.” She verbally humiliated her son when he was a boy, realized the damage she had done, changed her ways, and apologized. But her son, who recently became a father, has only a coolly cordial relationship with her, and she complained that she wanted more warmth and caring. I suggested that she should be glad that he did see her, stop whining for more, and tell her son she admires that he is giving his little boy the childhood he deserves and that he didn’t get.
It’s wonderful when there can be true reconciliation and healing, when all parties can feel the past has been somehow redeemed. But I don’t think Rochelle, Beatrice, and others like them should be hammered with lectures about the benefits of—here comes that dread word—closure. Sometimes the best thing to do is just close the door.