thoughts on Whitney Houston’s death

Whitney Houston (from creative commons, wikipedia)

I like being ordinary. When I was younger, I wanted to be famous. I wanted to act, dance, write, host a talk show, be on TV. (Okay, yes, I did these things, but not in a big way. When I was younger, I was frustrated with my lack of fame; but lately I’m happy I never hit it big. I could never have withstood the attention.)

I don’t know whether to blame Whitney’s death (or Michael Jackson’s or Amy Winehouse’s or Elvis’s or you name them) on our f’ed up culture that elevates celebrity and then loves to watch our elevated gods plummet. Or maybe I should blame the pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol in pop culture. Or better yet, let’s acknowledge the reality that drug and alcohol addictions are diseases — diseases that inevitably and eventually kill people if left untreated. The best treatment is the one that includes 12 steps and anonymity (the exact opposite of celebrity!)

As a society, we need to get in the habit of finding heroes in our real lives, not in movies, fan magazines, or political parties. Then, let’s build each other up — don’t put each other down or delight in anyone’s demise.

Our outpouring of love for people who’ve died from addiction is too late. Yet every person has the potential to heal from diseases of addiction.

If someone you know needs healing from a disease of addiction, tell them, write to them, let them know that their illness can be treated; that they can get better. This is hard to do. Do we ever tell people we worry about their drinking? I rarely do. When I have had those conversations, it’s been very hard. I’ve needed to detach with love. Give people their dignity. Give them their choice — the choice to recover is always there. Making that choice as a public person must be extremely difficult.

Yet life’s difficult journeys are the ones we learn and grow the most from. The difficult times are the moments that teach us to be real and to love one another. That is, at least, what I tell myself. Me, someone ordinary, not someone famous, but someone who is alive and happy and grateful for each new day.

Schwarzenegger, Strauss-Kahn, and Working Women

Every day I thank God that I am not a maid or a housekeeper. People take advantage.

First, the news about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the hotel worker — and now, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the housekeeper. WTF!!! Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (from Machiavelli) — even into our homes and hotel rooms.

I worked at the front desk of the Vista Hotel in the World Trade Center all through college. It was no secret. My room service and housekeeping friends told me that business men made inappropriate, illegal requests just about every single day. My friends would knock on the doors to clean the bathrooms or deliver the food with a certain dread, not knowing what lay on the other side of the door.

I am so pissed — Who do men like Strauss-Kahn and Schwarzenegger think they are! The women who work in service jobs are simply women making a living — trying to feed the kids at home, maybe support a disabled spouse, and even pursue their our dreams of an education. (I can identify!) They do not deserve such treatment!

This world is so messed up. People swoon over celebrities like Schwarzenegger and flip off working women who make beds and deliver food.

Women’s service work is not valued and too often women’s income is based on non-existent tips so we don’t even feel entitled to speak out. Our innate niceness keeps us down.

Nice no more! We need justice for the working women!

Maybe the Schwartzenegger affair was consensual. I don’t know. But I do feel sorry for the women — especially the imbalance of power — if you are a woman who cleans houses and hotel rooms. They are almost always immigrants and they should not have to put up with such BS.

I wrote about this, too, a year ago: when I learned that women still make 80 cents on every dollar that a man earns.

As a society we profess to value women’s skills of team work, collaboration, and service, we really do not care about the women, especially nameless nannies and housekeepers.