22 June 2012

Soda Ban

I've been thinking for a couple of weeks now about writing a post on the proposed ban, by the mayor of New York City, on the sale of large-sized sugary sodas.  Just to give you the background, in case you missed it: the mayor, concerned that the consumption of sugary drinks is contributing to the current obesity epidemic, has introduced a measure to ban the sale, in delis, restaurants, sports arenas, and fast-food outlets, of any high-calorie soft drink over 16 fluid ounces.  (Details, as reported in May by the New York Times, including a helpful explanatory graphic, can be found here).  The ban would apply to soda (like Coke and Pepsi), energy drinks (like Gatorade), and sweetened iced tea (like Snapple); it would not apply to alcoholic beverages, milkshakes, juices, or artificially sweetened low-calorie beverages (like Crystal Light, Diet Coke or Diet Snapple).  It would also not apply to bottles or cans purchased in supermarkets.

The reason I haven't written this post until now is not that I don't have strong feelings about it or that I'm lazy.  It's that so much has been said about it that I'm not sure my voice can add much to the discussion.  Mayor Bloomberg has been criticized as hypocritical (his company reportedly supplies its employees with free sugary soda in the workplace, and right after announcing the proposed soda ban, he proclaimed Friday, June 1 to be "National Donut Day" - a move the New York Times charitably characterized as "sending mixed messages").  Commentators have also criticized him for establishing and promoting what they call "noodge government" or a "nanny state."  Wholehearted endorsements of the policy have been rare and lukewarm (see, for example, the response from doctors specializing in diabetes and Michelle Obama's reported response that she "applauded" the measure but was not "endorsing or condemning" it). As you can imagine, the outcry from the fast-food, live sports, and beverage industries was immediate and loud.

But I'll try my hand at weighing in on this, because I have been giving it too much thought to just let it go.  First of all, "noodge government" and "nanny state" seem to me to be the sort of hackneyed phrases that are born of knee-jerk reactions to policies that people don't like.  The government restricts our activity all the time, and when the restriction seems to us to be sensible and well-thought-out, we don't criticize it as "nanny state" politics.  We have to send our children to school.  We are not allowed to murder each other.  We cannot serve alcohol to 4-year-olds.  We must insure our vehicles when we operate them on public streets and vaccinate our dogs against rabies.  Taken to an extreme, these are all examples of the government telling us what we can and can't do, but in general, I don't have a problem with any of them.  So I prefer to talk about Mayor Bloomberg's proposed soda ban with reference to its merits and without resort to name-calling.

Here's my primary problem with Bloomberg's proposal:  I simply don't think that banning sugary soda in large containers is going to bring the population to a healthy weight level.  Obesity has many, many causes.  While caloric intake is certainly one of them, heredity also plays a role, and so do activity levels.  If we are going to tackle the problem of caloric intake, why do we single out sugary sodas and not, for example, beer or milkshakes?  Are we going to ban all the substances we eat that are not good for us?  Hot dogs?  French fries? Girl Scout cookies? White pasta?

I'm not obese, but I'm moderately overweight, and I haven't had a sugary soda in decades.  My problem stems from the other factors: too-large amounts of otherwise healthy food and insufficient activity, complicated by a genetic disposition toward heaviness and a slowing metabolism that set in shortly after I turned 35.  Banning large sugary sodas is likely to have zero effect on my health, since I don't consume them in the first place.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this situation.

Secondly, I am not sure that society has an interest in preventing obesity that is strong enough to justify telling people what they can and cannot eat and drink.  To illustrate my point, consider the heavy taxes we levy on cigarettes.  Discouraging people from smoking has a direct effect on lung cancer rates, since cigarette smoke is indisputably the leading cause of lung cancer.  Smoking hurts not just the smoker, but the people around him, who have no choice but to breathe the air and are therefore the passive victims of his behavior.  Society has a strong interest in protecting the population from the ambient cause of a deadly disease.  But soda is simply not the same thing.  My drinking a Super Sized Coke has no effect whatsoever on the health of the person sitting next to me.  My choice is my choice, and it affects only me.  I think this distinction weakens the rationale for banning unhealthy food and drink.

Don't misunderstand.  I don't think that obesity is not a major concern of our times.  And I understand that there are other reasons that the consumption of sugary sodas is bad, in a general sense.  The production of high fructose corn syrup is an environmental disaster.  So are the production and disposal of the cans and bottles used to package soda.  But to single out a single food and ban it for the good of society seems like a poorly-reasoned, simplistic response to a problem with complicated causes and effects.

21 June 2012

Swimmingly, thanks.

I can do a fair number of things pretty well.  I can speak a couple of different languages well enough to make myself understood.  I can play the guitar and the piano passably.  I can knit and sew and cook.  I can write a decent appellate brief or a will, and I can appear in court to fight a traffic ticket.  What can't I do well?

I'll tell you.  I am not a good swimmer.  I never have been.

This caused some consternation when I was growing up.  The two adult women in the household, my grandmother and my mother, were unable to swim.  My grandmother had always wanted to learn to swim (her brother was a strong swimmer), but when she was young, in the early part of the twentieth century, swimming was considered an inappropriate sport for girls, and her parents wouldn't let her take lessons.  Diving into the water just wasn't ladylike.  My grandmother, until her dying day, regretted the fact that she could not swim.

Though my father was and is an excellent swimmer, my mother, as far as I know, just never learned.  I remember her being afraid of the water when I was young.  She was also unhappy about this, so she and her mother decided that the next  generation of women should know how to swim.  From an early age, my sisters and I were enrolled in swimming lessons.  Grammy sat poolside, working on her knitting, while we attended classes.

My older sister excelled from the beginning.  She quickly advanced through the Red Cross swimming levels, from Beginner to Intermediate to Lifeguard, earning certificates and accolades along the way.  My parents and Grammy were very proud of her.  I, on the other hand, could not master a basic crawl stroke.  I  could doggy-paddle around the pool and the lake, and I could splash and play with my friends, but I failed the Beginner test again and again.  Grammy's pile of completed knitting projects got taller and taller, but still, I could not get that coveted certificate that evidenced my ability to swim.  The instructors told me I'd never be any good.

Eventually, my parents gave up on my ever becoming a great swimmer.  I could stay afloat, so they didn't need to worry that I was going to drown.  I was allowed to play in the pool, the ocean, and the lake.  But after a few years, my parents stopped signing me up for lessons, since the investment clearly wasn't giving them any returns.

When I met my husband in college, he was a water safety instructor, had been on his high school swim team, and taught swimming lessons to children at the college pool.  Though I passed the college swimming test by doggie-paddling across the pool, I couldn't even complete one lap of crawl stroke.  Sam offered to teach me, but I was convinced that I was unteachable, a terrible failure at this basic skill.  I worried that he would get frustrated with me the way all my swimming instructors had when I was a child.  They told me I'd never be a good swimmer, and when a teacher tells you something like that when you're young, you believe it.  You internalize it.  You give up on yourself because they've given up on you.

All three of my children are excellent swimmers like their grandfather and their dad.  They can spend a whole day swimming back and forth in a pool or a lake; they can swim their way out of riptides, right a capsized canoe, race each other to a buoy, dive off the high board without hesitation.  I spent many years sitting by the side of the pool like Grammy, worrying about their safety and sorry I couldn't teach them myself.  Now, though, I don't worry.  I know they are going to be fine in the water.

But what about me?

Last year, a friend joined the local community center, where we have been members for nearly twenty years.  My friend gave them my name when they asked who had referred her for membership.  The center, to thank us for the referral, gave me a $100 coupon, good toward any of their programs.  I put the coupon on the refrigerator, under a magnet, and forgot about it.

But then, a few months ago, I looked at the coupon and saw that it had an expiration date of August 2012.  I needed to use it.  Since no one in my family seemed to have any interest in the coupon, I went to the pool desk at the center and asked them whether it would be good toward swimming lessons.  "Sure," the clerk said.  "It's good for anything."  Three private swimming lessons cost $150.  I signed myself up and handed over my coupon and a $50 check.  I was going to learn to swim.  The right way.  Finally.

My swimming instructor's name was Michael.  I met him on the first day and told him my story.  He watched me paddle across the pool.  "You're not so bad," he said.  "Most adults that I teach are afraid of even getting into the water.  But I can work with you.  A couple of lessons and you'll be crawl-stroking with the best of them."  Undaunted at the prospect of teaching an overweight middle-aged woman to swim, he showed me how to kick, move my arms properly, and turn my head to breathe.  I started with fins on my feet and a kickboard.  Michael assured me that I was a good learner, and that I had the ability to be a good swimmer.  All I needed was good instruction and a little practice.

So, in between lessons, I practiced.  I packed up a bag with a bathing suit and a towel and took it to the pool early in the mornings.  I used the fins to keep my feet afloat so I could focus on the movement of my arms.  I lifted my elbows out of the water like Michael had shown me.  Then I used the kickboard to focus on my head and my feet.  I turned my head ever so slightly, like Michael had taught me to, when I needed to inhale.  I kicked with my legs straight and together.  It was exhausting.  My heart pounded.  At first, I needed to stop and catch my breath every half-lap.  Then every lap.  Then every three laps.  I shed the equipment and started swimming by myself.  I was actually getting better at it!

This morning, I swam for an entire half hour without pausing.  Michael was the lifeguard on duty, and when I got out of the water, he congratulated me.  "See?" he said.  "I knew you could do it."

I have discovered that I like swimming.  It's a good workout; my arms are firming up quickly, and I might even have lost a pound or three over the past few weeks.  It cools me down; it's been hot here lately, but when I start my day with a swim, the heat bothers me less.  On nice days, I even enjoy the scooter ride up the hill to the pool.  My next goal: to get my husband to join me and swim a few laps before work.  I know he'd love getting back into it, too.

All of this made me think about the profound impact a teacher's words can have on a student's opinion of herself.  "You're a terrible speller."  "You'll never be much of a swimmer."  "You shouldn't audition for the part - how about joining the stage crew instead?"  "Math isn't your strong suit."  How many of these remarks have we heard and internalized in our lives?

I had a fifth-grade teacher who told me I was an extraordinary writer, and she said she looked forward to reading my first book someday.  I remember that remark as clearly as I remember the swimming instructor who told me I'd never be any good.  I believed both of them.  Children listen, and they believe what they're told.  But it's not a bad idea to develop a healthy sense of skepticism.  It's that skepticism that finally, after forty years, has me swimming laps across the pool.

15 June 2012

Stripper In the Hood

My husband and I were recently invited to a 40th-birthday party for a neighbor.  We've known these people for many years.  They're a married couple with two young kids, and they (like us) live within spitting distance of the local elementary school.  My husband likes the birthday boy a lot.  He's the kind of fellow who's happy to crack open a beer on a hot summer day and sit in the backyard with his buddies,  listening to a ball game on the radio.

The party was to be a backyard barbecue, and several couples from the neighborhood were coming.  Just grown-ups, we were told, and that was fine.  My kids have reached that blissful age where I don't need to hire a sitter.  I just order a pizza for them for dinner and tell them where we're going to be, and that I'll keep my cell phone on in case they need to reach me.

I bought a bottle of cabernet and put a birthday ribbon on it.  We dressed in shorts and t-shirts, grabbed the wine, and took the short walk down the block to the birthday party.  Our neighbors had put up a tent in their backyard and strung lights, and they'd set up a table with snacks and a serve-yourself bar.  Lots of familiar faces were there, and I found myself hugging the lady who lives across the street (whom I never seem to see enough of), as well as the parents of some of my kids' friends.  I got myself a beer and sat down next to one of the dads to chat with him about the business he had recently set up.  My husband was about twenty feet from me, chatting with a teacher friend of ours.

I was so engrossed in my conversation with my neighbor that it took me a moment to register that the music had changed.  I looked up, and there on my right, in front of the chair in which the birthday boy sat, stood a pretty young woman.  Her back was toward me.  She was not wearing any pants.

I looked again.  Nope, my first impression was correct.  She was definitely not wearing pants.  She was wearing a leather jacket and a biker hat and one of those thongs that goes up the crack of your rear end so that you don't get panty lines.  Though, as I mentioned, she really didn't need to worry about panty lines.

She began to dance, and a hush fell over the small crowd.  Everyone turned around and looked.  And then the young woman removed her jacket and tossed it aside, revealing that she was wearing nothing underneath except tiny little pasty things that covered up her nipples.

Oh my God.  Our hostess had hired a stripper to entertain her husband on his birthday.

The stripper climbed into the birthday boy's lap and began gyrating.  Everyone started laughing.  The hostess walked around, passing out one-dollar bills for us to put in this woman's -- I don't know -- hat?  "No thanks," I said.  If I told you I was extremely uncomfortable with the situation, I'd be the author of the understatement of the century.

"I'm going to get something to eat," I told the dad with whom I'd been chatting, and I got up.

"You're not offended, are you?" asked his wife.

"Actually, yeah, I am," I said.  I walked over to the food table to pile my plate with snacks.  The teacher who had been talking to my husband followed me.

"Don't be upset.  That poor woman is just feeding her family," she told me.  I looked at her, horrified.  Did she really just say that?  Would she be okay if her daughter were gyrating in a stranger's lap to feed her family?

I went inside, where there were a few other guests, some of them horrified like me, and others laughing.  My husband joined me after a few moments and said that if I was uncomfortable, it would be okay with him if we left.  We didn't leave right away; there was a ball game on the TV, so we watched that with some other couples for a while.  As the party began to wind down, we were among the first to leave.

I like to think of myself as being pretty liberal-minded.  I don't stop my husband from attending his friends' bachelor parties, though I know (or at least suspect) what goes on at those things.  Right before I got married, some of my bridesmaids threw me a bachelorette party, and we went to Chippendale's in New York, which is a famous club where screaming women stuff money into the underwear of nearly-naked male dancers.  It was cheesy, but it was sort of fun, in a slummy way.

So what's different about the stripper at my neighbor's birthday party?  Why was I offended?

I guess that part of my problem was that I was caught off-guard.  I had expected a friendly neighborhood get-together, not a bachelor party, and I was completely stunned at the hosts' poor taste.  I'll also freely admit that I have a problem with stripping for money; it strikes me as a watered-down version of prostitution.  Women being paid to use their bodies to entertain men.  It's a women's issue that makes my feminist-o-meter buzz.  (Now, I'll admit that my feminist-o-meter is a little more sensitive than most people's, but still.)  And, finally, I am bothered by the lack of etiquette involved in throwing a party with entertainment that will make at least some of the guests uncomfortable.  When I throw a party, I want my guests to have fun and to leave hoping that they will someday be invited back.

Would you ever a hire a stripper to entertain your husband or another close member of your family?  Or invite one to your home to perform for a gathering?  Do you agree with my teacher friend that stripping for money is a legitimate way to make a living?  What are your thoughts about this?

13 June 2012

At the Museum

One of the things I feel guilty about from time to time is that, although I live near one of the great cultural centers of the world, I don't take advantage, often enough, of the things New York City has to offer.  One recent rainy morning, two of my favorite companions and I decided to do something about that.  We visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on West 53rd Street in Manhattan, which is only about 10 miles from my house.

We parked in a garage, agreeing to split the cost, and walked the rest of the way.  Mid-June is the height of the tourist season in New York, and there was a line almost to the end of the block to buy admission tickets for the museum.  Fortunately, one of my companions had a museum membership, so we were able to skip the long entry line and go right inside.  We checked our umbrellas, hopped into the elevator, and headed for the top floor, which houses modern paintings and sculpture.

We saw all the beloved classics: Monet, Van Gogh, Lichtenstein, Kahlo, Ernst, Matisse, and many, many more.  There was more than we could ever hope to see during one day, but we were going to do our best to see as much as we reasonably could before we had to pick our kids up from school.

Edward Ruscha's "OOF" (1962).

The museum was absolutely packed with tourists from all over the world.  And every single one of them - almost to a person - carried a camera.

Now, this was not my first visit to MoMA by a long shot.  I'd been there many times before.  But I don't remember seeing so many people with cameras.  In fact, it is my impression that art museums generally forbid photography of their exhibits for various reasons.  First, the repeated flash of light a camera creates can damage old, fragile paintings.  Second, there's no telling what someone is going to do with an image of a great work of art once they have it stored on a memory card or their iPhone.  Allowing photography probably cuts deeply into the profits of the museum's store, which sells things like books, postcards and posters.  And third, it's incredibly annoying and obtrusive when I am trying to admire a work of art and someone steps right in front of me to snap a picture.

This happened over and over again.  I'd be looking at a painting or a sculpture, and someone would walk right up to it, push in front of me, and take a picture.

Sometimes, I'd be reading the descriptive plaque next to a painting, trying to learn something about the artwork, and someone would walk right up, between me and the wall, and photograph the description.

One of the other conventions I am used to in museums is the unspoken rule that people stand back at a reasonable distance to admire the artwork.  Some places actually have lines on the floor, a few feet from the wall, which visitors are not allowed to cross.  MoMA does not have anything like that, so people can and do get right up next to the paintings to examine them at close range, whether or not they are blocking someone else's view.

This happened again and again, and it started to really interfere with our enjoyment of our day at the museum.  Feeling pretty cranky about it, we decided to ask a security guard about the museum's policies.  He told us that every museum has a different photography policy, and sometimes different exhibits within the same museum have different policies.  For example, at MoMA, there is no prohibition against photographing permanent collections, but works that are on loan to the museum or are part of a traveling exhibit may not be photographed.  With regard to standing at a distance from the works of art, if there's no line on the floor or rope keeping observers at bay, it's simply a matter of etiquette.  Touching the art is, of course, strictly prohibited.

Given that a large percentage of the other people at the museum that morning were foreign tourists, I wonder whether it's also a cultural issue.  I've been to many museums abroad, though, and I have never seen such avid photographers and so much pushing and shoving as I saw on this particular morning in New York.

What do you think?  Do you observe unspoken rules at museums?  Do you photograph works of art when doing so is allowed, or step between other visitors and the work they are admiring?

11 June 2012

Traffic Tips for Suburban Drivers

This morning, I dropped off my daughters at the local high school, which is just over a mile from my house.  I have done this every school day morning since September.  And, as is usual, I just barely escaped with my life.

I am not a traffic cop.  But maybe I should have been.  Because it would have given me great pleasure to issue expensive tickets to the bad drivers who do not follow the basic rules I am about to outline below.  (I, of course, am a driver beyond reproach, so I am perfectly qualified to engage in this little stress-relieving exercise.)

1.  When you have a stop sign, you actually need to stop and yield to the traffic that does not have a stop sign.  Stopping is tricky.  It involves depressing your brake (that pedal to the left of the gas pedal) until your wheels actually stop rotating.  I recommend practicing the skill before going out on the road.

2.  When you are pulling away from a curbside parking spot and into traffic, look over your shoulder to see whether you are about to hit someone.  Again, this is a tricky skill, but it can be mastered with a little practice.  It is worth noting that the requirement of looking applies to everyone, even people in Lincoln Navigators.

3.  I have mentioned this one before because it is a pet peeve of mine.  If you are turning left at a traffic light, you must yield to the oncoming traffic that is going straight.  Failing to do so is tantamount to hanging a sign on your windshield that says, "CAUTION.  I AM A SELFISH A-HOLE, AND THE RULES DON'T APPLY TO ME."  Also, one of these days when I don't have a car full of kids who might be injured, I am going to broadside you on purpose, mid-turn, just to prove that I'm right about this.

4.  This one applies mostly to people in dropoff and pickup lines, but it can also apply in heavy merging traffic.  Don't cut the line.  Didn't you go to kindergarten?  Didn't you learn this lesson a long, long time ago?  Cutting the line is mean and selfish.  And when you're in a car, it's dangerous.  On the highway, if you've missed the exit-only sign and find yourself needing to cut into a long line of traffic, roll down your window, make an apologetic face, and wait until someone kind lets you in.  Don't play the chicken game.  In the dropoff and pickup line, be warned that I have a cell phone and I will photograph you and post your picture in this space.  I'm not shy about that stuff.

5.  If someone ahead of you stops, consider that there could be a reason other than that they're a jerk trying to slow you down and ruin your morning.  Sometimes, sometimes, they have stopped for a pedestrian or bicyclist who is crossing the street.  Zooming angrily around the stopped driver, while leaning heavily on your horn, puts you at risk of running over the pedestrian or bicyclist and entitles you to wear the same sign as the guy in #3 above.

6.  Learn to parallel park.  It's actually quite simple to do, and with a little practice it becomes easy.  It is a useful, nay, essential skill in suburbia.  I don't know why people who have been driving for thirty years suddenly turn to mush when they have to parallel park.  It's on the road test for a good reason.  Do not ask me to move my car so that you can take the space that doesn't require you to back in (YES, this has ACTUALLY happened to me TWICE in my town.  I am not making this up).

Well.  I feel better now.  Thanks for reading.  Have a good morning.

04 June 2012

The Cautionary Tale of Not Christina

I have a friend.  She and I went to high school together; she was a year behind me.  We weren't great friends in high school, but we ran in the same crowd:  geeky pencil-behind-the-ear types who pretended to be sick in calculus class and then miraculously recovered just in time for Mrs. Putnam's Shakespeare elective.  We recently reconnected and have become extremely good adult friends, meeting for lunch now and then and running our ideas and problems by each other for advice.  I try not to tell other people's stories in my blog, but, with her permission, I'm going to tell you hers.  I'll call her "not Christina," because her name is not Christina.

Not Christina is, like a lot of women in our age group, a Supermom.  She has three beautiful young children, second in genius and looks only to my own, and a dashing, erudite husband who is also kind and sweet and worships the ground she walks on.  She also has several less important things, like a very successful full-time career, a Girl Scout troop, a Cub Scout den, a church, a house in the suburbs with a pretty garden, and a wicked sense of humor.  Maybe the sense of humor belongs in the important category with her husband and kids.  But I digress.

I met not Christina for lunch on Friday because I had not seen her in person in a while, and we both needed a good dose of each other's company.  The diner where we usually meet is closed for renovations, so we ended up in the restaurant on the top floor of Bloomingdale's, at a tiny table for two near the window.  Not Christina was exhausted but good-natured, as usual.  She's oversubscribed and having trouble balancing it all, and like all jugglers who have too many balls in the air, she's starting to drop things.  Important things. For nearly two hours, I lectured her about the importance of slowing down and cutting back on her commitments. I tried to tell her that, like the narrator in Robert Frost's brilliant 1928 poem The Armful, she needs to sit down and take stock of all the things she carries, and decide which ones she can set down safely.

This is a problem that's endemic to my generation of women.  We try to do everything all at once.  Our mothers, frustrated at their lack of professional options, at their inability to be taken seriously in the workplace, raised us to believe we could do whatever we wanted with our lives.  We could be mothers AND have successful careers, both at the same time.  We grew up in the era of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.  We were invincible.  We could do it all.  Hear us roar.

The catch is that nobody can do it all, at least not well and not all at once.  So we are the Starbucks generation, having landed solidly in our forties in full possession of all the things our mothers dreamed of having, but heavily caffeinated, lacking sleep, communicating only electronically, and wishing we could figure out what to eliminate so that our lives could be simpler.  We surf the Internet looking for recipes and craft ideas that give us the illusion of living in simpler times past.  We lecture our daughters about What's Important and urge them to focus only on that.

Not Christina loves her Cub Scouts and her Girl Scouts and her catechism class and her elementary-school dance committee and doesn't want to give any of them up.  I pointed out to her that it's June, which is the perfect time to put a wrap on school-related activities.  I also asked her what would happen if she quit leading her troop and den.  What if someone else taught the Sunday School class?  Would the world come to an end?  Would her children suffer irreparable harm? I remember the night when it dawned on me that I could not work full time in the city and still lead my suburban middle-school Girl Scout troop.  I had to step down.  Nobody stepped up in my place, so the troop dissolved.  As far as I know, I am the only person connected to the troop who shed a single tear over its demise.  And when I cried, I wasn't mourning Troop 652 so much as I was mourning my image of myself as the All-Powerful Mom and Lawyer Who Did a Million Things and Did Them Well and was All Things To All People.  I tried to tell not Christina how liberating it felt, once I calmed down, to realize that the world would indeed go on, even if I didn't carry it on my shoulders right into my grave.

After we parted, not Christina and I both went to pick up our kids from school.  I headed home, but not Christina headed north with her young son to meet his Cub Scout friends for a hike in the woods.  They hiked until dusk, and then not Christina and her son got into their car and started the long drive home.  Horribly sleep-deprived, my friend fell asleep at the wheel.  Her car veered into a street sign and then flipped down an embankment.  It was completely destroyed.  Both my beloved friend and her son, thank God, emerged from the wreckage in one piece and are going to be completely fine.

The accident was, as she told a very shaken me today on the phone, an exclamation point at the end of our conversation.  She is now making a complete list of her extracurricular activities and devising a plan for their wind-up.  There are a few things she's committed to through the end of June, but she's going to go forward into the summer focused only on her family and her career.  In that order.

Once she has calmed down, recovered, and gotten her life back into shape, though, I hope she'll still have time to meet me for lunch now and then.  She is a tremendous inspiration, and I can't imagine life without her.  I'm glad - no, unspeakably relieved and thankful - that I don't have to.