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Notes From an Old Man: Second Childhood, Bah!

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I remember as a kid hearing that getting old was like entering a second childhood. Well, I’m here at the ripe old age of 64 to tell you that’s not true; getting old is more like going through a second adolescence. My body is changing in unexpected ways: I have arthritis in my right index finger, me knees creak and crack; my blood has decided to store iron. Like an adolescent, I think I know everything, except now in this second adolescence, I really do know everything—or at least a little. Here’s what I know : It will get better. If you find yourself going through hell, keep going; it’s a “passthrough” town. He’s not going to change. You can just say no. As I did back then, I find myself imagining my future self—what will I look like—and my future. Back then I’d tried to visualize my collegiate life: Where would I go to college? What would I study? Would I make friends? Would I find a boyfriend. And my post-collegiate life: would I drive a BMW or a Porsche? Would I real

What The Hell is Wrong with Kristi Noem?

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Kristi Noem wrote a book. I read an Associated Press article about it. And almost cried. I pulled my dogs, Atticus and Gatsby, onto my lap. I would never hurt them. I would kill anyone who tried to hurt them. Apparently in her book “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” Noem recounts the tale of Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehaired pointer she was training for pheasant hunting. (I won’t even address the grossness and cruelty of pheasant hunting here.) When Cricket turned out to be a dud at pheasant hunting, she admits she hated her and thought she was untrainable. By her own account, she led Cricket to a gravel pit and shot her. When we had to put my first dog, Channing, down, I was in the room with him. I stepped away so he wouldn’t see me cry. Weak and sick as he was, he lifted his head to see where I’d gone. In that moment I felt all the trust he had in me hanging in the balance. I went back and knelt in front of him, holding his

Requiem for Mark Stephen

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I called him Mark Stephen (his first and middle names); he called me “my little Rusty Dusty,” a reference to my reddish hair and freckles and my skinny frame that was so much smaller than his broad-shouldered muscular one. He was dark-skinned with large luminous green eyes. Looks wise he was way out of my league. Still, he had been the one who approached me . He was my first boyfriend; the first man to tell me he loved me; the first man I loved; the first man to break my heart. He once dared me to hold his hand as we walked across campus. When I did, he admired my bravery. I was a junior in college, he was in his second year of law school when we met. He gave me his phone number. (I still have that piece of paper somewhere.) He stared at me for a minute in stunned silence and then said, “So you gonna give me yours?” “Oh,” I said embarrassed. He took me to lunch on the Mosholo the next day. That night he asked me to go for a ride. He parked under a tree and leaned over and kisse

Notes From an Old Man: Old

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Old. A word innocuous enough, and certainly useful at times. We’ve all heard it and used it and read it without any particular feeling. But recently the word became attached to me and… whoa boy …I have feelings. It started last year when I found myself suddenly unemployed. Being one to pick myself up and dust myself off and get back on the horse that threw me, I mentioned to a retired friend that I was looking for a new job. “Aren’t you too old to get a new job?” she asked. “No,” I answered, probably somewhat cockily. After all I was a catch . I have decades of experience and there is practically nothing in the arena of corporate communications that I hadn’t done, or experienced. I’m an award-winning fiction writer, for God’s sake! Then of course, my friend turned out to be the frickin’ Oracle at Delphi . I climbed off my high horse, decided to focus on my writing and got a job that would allow me to do just that. Pretty quickly the young people there attached “Mr.” to my name,

Notes From An Old Man: On Ending One Career and Starting Another

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When I found myself unexpectedly without a job in September 2022, I did what I always do: I updated my resume, upgraded my LinkedIn membership, and threw myself headfirst into the job search. And found myself in the deep end of…a cesspool. Dozens of conversations and interviews later the message from the world of work was clear message: We don’t want you. You’re too old. After months of unemployment and uncertainty and increasing self-doubt, after decades spent climbing ladders and chasing coin, I decided to close the book on my career in communications and follow my heart and chase the long-held dream I’d pushed aside for too long. I was going to focus on writing. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly or without careful consideration—I am a Libra after all. There were conversations with my husband and meetings with our financial advisor. I sat with myself and searched within to find what I really wanted. For me the decision was a leap of faith, like falling in love, like marriage.

Black History Month: Who Inspires Me Part Two

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  As #BlackHistoryMonth draws to a close, I want to share Part 2 of who inspires me. Like my mother you won’t recognize his name, you won’t find his name in history books, but his name is forever engraved on my heart. He was my dad, Ray O. Benjamin. A Korean War veteran, carpenter, husband, father, he taught me it takes more strength to hold your tongue than to loose it. I never heard him curse or even raise his voice. He taught me that family comes first. Always. That being part of a family sometimes requires sacrifice that doesn’t feel like sacrifice. I remember the great Black Out of 1965. We were little kids. Mom was home alone with us. Dad was on the subway on his way home from work. Once he was off the train he proceeded to walk home by the light of the moon and matches. He walked from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Once he got home, he climbed twenty-one flights of stairs in the dark to reach us. Opening the door, moonlight told him he climbed too far, was on the roof. When our Aunt,

Black History Month: Who Inspires You?

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  The other day, on LinkedIN I posted inviting folks to celebrate someone who inspires you this #BlackHistoryMonth. As I thought about who inspires me every day, it turned out to be someone whose name most people wouldn’t recognize, someone not in the history books. It is my mom, Kathleen A. Benjamin. Mom became a para-professional working in classrooms when our youngest brother at the time started first grade. When we were in Junior High, mom started going to college part time. She eventually went on to earn her Master’s in special education. During a teacher’s strike, she joined others in crossing the picket line and teaching her class, dad standing guard outside her door. She said black kids needed an education more than she needed a raise. As a teacher, she taught our peers and their children and in some cases their children’s children. As a parent, she taught us “By the sweat of thy brow, thou shall eat bread.” Back before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was a federal hol