Threading the needle: I don’t hate Boomers. In fact, I’m friends with a great many of them.

Allison Gruber
6 min readJul 5, 2021

This afternoon, I spent two hours threading a needle.

This was not just any needle I was threading: this is for the first set of mala beads I’ve ever made myself.
If you’ve ever made jewelry or mala beads, you probably know the “thread” is more like a “cord” & I most certainly bought the “wrong kind” of sewing needles @ Walgreens, but you know what?
I’m doing my level best.
I have not had so much as a sip of alcohol
since March 6th.

I spent two hours threading a needle.
In those two hours, not once did I:

take drugs
drink alcohol
throw shit
punch things
call myself “an idiot,” et al.

Something in me has fundamentally shifted.
I spent two peaceful hours threading a needle.
Took two hours, & a multitude of creative approaches, but the needle is threaded. & I think my first set of mala beads, on which I spent a great deal of $$ (for two American school teachers), was a very deserving investment of time. I will wear these beads. They will be special to me always because they will represent a special time in my life that began on March 6, 2021 & is ongoing to this day.

*I also have gravely (fun word choice!) bad eyesight and chronic low grade anxiety so my hands always shake a little & these were contributing factors to the 2 hour timeframe.

Had I been threading something else, say a . . .
bracelet for . . .
a dog?

Let me start over.

Had I been threading a needle for a different purpose, I would have been less “fussy” in getting the job done.

The conclusion I drew from today’s “two-hour-needle-thread” experience
was NOT “hey, just take your time. Life is short. Two hours to finish an email? No problem!” — That is not my point.
Some things needn’t be fussed over & some things
are timely & critical & must be done thoroughly & quickly IF
they are to be done well.

What I learned from threading the needle is that
1) I am changing from a person who is merciless & unforgiving with herself, to a person who says, “you have limitations. How can you live your desires within those limitations? (I will not be leaving education for a career as a seamstress — that much was made clear today.) &
2) if I am doing something for myself — whether my spiritual, mental, or physical well being — that requires care & meticulousness & time & the same abundant patience I afford my students in the classroom.

Today, I was patient with myself.
I have never made a mala before.
How would I know what to do?

I have no teacher guiding me through this process
of mala making other than myself & some remembered wisdom
from friends, family, & ancestors.

I don’t know how, but I am learning.

When I apply the same leniency to myself in other areas,
I get real mercy. For instance, I’ve never been a stage iv cancer patient
in Trump & post Trump’s America, so how would I know what to do?

How lost I have been.
How I have blamed myself.
I am learning to forgive myself,
to understand that this wasn’t all on me.
Not this time.
The cancer, I mean.
I blame myself for that sometimes.
For maybe, you know, hastening all this misery by sometimes
disregarding what was best for my body & for allowing
people in the medical profession to treat me
with the same “hands off” disregard that, well, is kind of
White Boomer America’s signature move.

Meryl is among my favorite White Boomers in America.

I have never been a stage iv breast cancer patient before.
How would I have known?

So that’s what I learned today, from threading that fucking needle for two hours: some of the bad things are the result of my human limitations,
but not all of the bad things are my
are quite different words.

Boomers & Mormons have much in common.
They’ve learned to cheerily navigate America while inwardly fearing & despising even the faintest waft of change say nothing of real justice — the kind of justice most cops & politicians & wealthy white Americans know little about. This is the justice that pilots good poems & songs & words & every good deed.

Some of you may be put off by how I’m generalizing here, so with your comfort in mind, I shall endeavor to generalize groups I also belong to:

1) lesbians like to move in with each other right away.
*true for me: Sarah & I were married inside of 6 months.
2) women cannot park well.
*False I can parallel park like a motherfucker. (Thanks, Chicago.)
3) lesbians enjoy the indigo girls.
* false for me. please don’t revoke my gay lady card. I just really don’t get down with folk music. Not even Joni Mitchell, if it’s any consolation?
4) chicagoans do not like ketchup on hotdogs.
* true for me. red sauce on a hotdog? Get the fuck out of here.

Sometimes one must generalize in order to make a point.
Some people don’t like generalizations because they see themself
in the generalization.
When I see myself reflected in a largely true generalization
I might be amused (as in the case of indigo girls & uhauls) or
I might take slight offense as in “women can’t park” because that is not true about me, personally, but I don’t think it’s a generalization that is corrosive to women’s human rights (like, you know, some of the shit that is actually happening in American governance right now).

I have a fundamental, human problem with then I examine that behavior or belief that causes me to be implicated when people say shit like White Boomer women elected Trump.

Are you offended by that statement?
Are you white?
Are you a woman?
Did you vote for him?
Once or twice?

That’s why you’re really offended.
& if you are offended by your own actions maybe reflect?

Once a student & some of their peers felt I should have used a “trigger warning” for content on a unit regarding Morrison’s Beloved and the subject of American slavery, more broadly. Because the content centered the matter of American slavery, an issue we should all implicitly understand as traumatic, I did not and do not agree that I should have given Beloved a “trigger warning,” but I do agree that for teenagers I perhaps provided them with more information about the American slave trade than they were prepared for.
I re-thought the whole unit. Considering that my students were very young (juniors & seniors in h.s.) & not college students, I did a better job of preparing them for what they will encounter in reading Morrison’s work.
I still teach the text, but I do it with the common good in mind.

That’s what a person does.
We change when we want to change.
Sometimes we change for the common good.

Sometimes we change because others need us to change &
sometimes, as in my case, we change to save our own lives.

It is true. I enjoy a nice vest.

One of my best friends is a Boomer.
That is true.
Her name is Lynn & she’s one of the coolest people
I have ever known. She has been so good to me since
I first dragged my sad self into her class circa 1994.
Some of the feminist thinkers & activists I respect most are, in fact,
Boomers. White ones, at that. Some of the white Boomers I am friendly with
have a lot of money. Some of the Boomers I am friends with have almost no money.
Did I happen to mention I’m related to a number of White Boomers I love dearly?
Sarah, after glancing at this post, remarked, “Well, honey, I guess I just don’t hate Boomers as much as you do.”

But I don’t hate them & if you can’t understand that, then you’ll probably want to refrain from my next 10–20 Medium posts in which I will likely, in some capacity, come for the white Boomers.