Special opinion to the Mirror by Paul Plante.
“I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told”
“I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises”
“All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear”
“And disregards the rest, hmmmm”
For those too young to remember, those words are from what would be called in the newspaper business the “lede” to the song “The Boxer” written in 1968, when I was in training in the U.S. Army as an infantryman to prepare me for combat in Viet Nam to preserve the right of the then-2 year old Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, born November 1966, now a famous research psychologist in Northern California, to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being incoherently drunk and laying on top of her in 1982, when she was fifteen, with one hand over her mouth while the other hand was groping her and trying to rip her clothes off, so that she thought she was going to get raped and killed while Kavanaugh buddy Mark Judge looked on and laughed, a truly traumatic episode, not only for her, but for America and the candid world, as well, and by extension, myself, a fellow trauma survivor who is feeling her pain, however vicariously so, since I wasn’t there, myself, by then-27-year old American songwriter, prophet and modern-day visionary Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941), whose musical career has spanned seven decades, a song which in retrospect was to change the course of America, forever, more than any other event of the 1960’s decade, and there were many of them, as anyone alive back then can tell you.
And thanks to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and her courage in coming forward as her civic duty to give sworn testimony on how the memory functions to the Judicial Committee of the United States Senate, I now know that I know all of that stuff in the clear and precise detail that I know it because as we all learned from the New York Times story “With Caffeine and Determination, Christine Blasey Ford Relives Her Trauma” by Julie Hirshfeld Davis on 28 September 2018, it is indelible in my hippocampus, to wit:
And when she spoke, she sometimes leaned on her training as a scientist, often resorting to the technical language and concepts of brain function and memory.
Asked how she could be certain in her recollection of what happened with Judge Kavanaugh, she told the prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell: “Just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in the brain that, you know, encodes that neurotransmitter that codes memories into the hippocampus and so the trauma-related experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”
That, people, is how I know today what I knew back then – just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in the brain that, you know, encodes that neurotransmitter that codes memories into the hippocampus.
And that, people, takes us back in time some 50 years to 1968, when none of us, or least those of us who lived out in the countryside, knew none of that stuff, because Christine Blasey Ford had not yet discovered it, and these words from “The Boxer” by American visionary songwriter Paul Simon, to wit:
“In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade”
“And he carries the reminders”
“Of every glove that laid him down or cut him”
“’Til he cried out in his anger and his shame”
“I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains”
Today, of course, we can say with high degree of confidence, thanks to Dr. Blasey Ford and her courageous sworn testimony to the Senate panel as a scientist resorting to the technical language and concepts of brain function and memory that the boxer in that song, which is said to be autobiographical, carried the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him ’til he cried out in his anger and his shame “I am leaving, I am leaving,” because the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in his brain that, you know, encodes that neurotransmitter that codes memories into the hippocampus and so the trauma-related experience of those gloves hitting him is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift because during those fights, the boxer had a typical “fight or flight” reaction so that he was definitely experiencing the surge of cortisol and adrenaline and epinephrine.
If we had known that back then, I think there would have been a lot less doubt here in America, and perhaps the candid world, as well, about the veracity and accuracy of those lyrics, which many simply passed off as the use of poetic license by Paul Simon, with the doubters, and let’s face it, people, they always exist, scoffing and saying that there was no way the boxer in that song could possibly have carried the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him. because the human memory simply didn’t work that way, and thanks to Dr. Ford today, we now know just how wrong they were.
But that was then, in much more primitive times in America, and this is now, where thanks to Dr. Ford, the science about how the memory works is much more advanced, which takes us to the inspirational Washington Post (“Democracy dies in darkness”) story “Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford moved 3,000 miles to reinvent her life. It wasn’t far enough.” By Jessica Contrera, Ian Shapira, Emma Brown, and Steve Hendrix on 22 September 2018, where we hear about her poignant life story that has resulted in this ground-breaking discovery about the hippocampus and the surge of cortisol and adrenaline and epinephrine, as follows:
In Bethesda, Ford’s life was one of cloistered advantage, with her time spent at a private school for girls, at the Columbia Country Club and at parties where she moved easily among the privileged and popular.
But after high school, and after the alleged assault, Ford left the Washington area and never moved back.
She took up surfing.
She dressed in jeans when she wasn’t in a wet suit atop a surfboard.
Colleagues mistook her for a native Californian.
Quietly, she garnered a reputation for her research on depression, anxiety and resilience after trauma — telling almost no one what she herself had endured.
Pardon me here, people, but when I was young, this going back in time to when there were no hand-held devices, and before Al Gore, out of the goodness of his heart, had invented the internet that we take for granted today, I used to read the life stories of the American presidents, to see how they, like Christine Blasey Ford, overcame adversity to rise to fame, and so I think these details from her young life are just as important as the boyhood of say, George Washington or James Monroe, so please, bear with me as I relate these essential details of this profile in courage in America today:
“I have lived with that story my whole life,” she said in an interview with The Post before her name became public.
“I’ve moved on.”
“I have done wonderful things and have a great career and a great community, and have done a total reboot living in California.”
Now, people, tell me that that is not inspirational to all of us in America and the candid world who like her have suffered grievous trauma in our lives, in my own case being wounded in the head in Viet Nam in 1969, when the future Dr. Ford was 3 years old and left for dead: “I’ve moved on and have done a total reboot living in California.”
Getting back to her life story as told by the Washington Post, we have:
She successfully reinvented herself far from the place where her family is known, where politics reign, where Kavanaugh gained power and prestige — and where next week, she may return to relive it all again.
Growing up, she was just “Chrissy,” and in the way of younger siblings, was often described by her relationship to someone else: sister of Tom and Ralph, daughter of the older Ralph, a golf course regular who would go on to become the president of the exclusive, all-male Burning Tree Club.
Ford’s mother, Paula, was well-liked among the kids at Columbia Country Club because she remembered their names.
“You weren’t just a chaise longue to be walked past to her,” said Stephen Futterer, a Chicago doctor who was on the club’s swim team with Ford.
“There were definitely those families that had a little controversy, like the parent who drinks too much or the son who was caught stealing from the men’s locker room, but that was not the Blasey family.”
“They were just average for the club.”
Growing up, I was just Paul, because that was my name, and being poor and living out in the countryside, I didn’t have a country club to go to, but such is life.
As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said back then, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope,” so following that sage advice, I have endeavored to persevere, and like Dr. Ford, I too have moved on, and rebooted myself, although not as a surfer in California, but again, such is life,
And getting back to her inspirational story from the Washington Post, we have:
Like many affluent families in the area, the Blaseys sent their children to single-gender private schools.
For Ford, that meant six years at Holton-Arms, where students wore blue plaid skirts they would try to convince their mothers to hem shorter.
Her classmates included the daughters of the King of Jordan and members of the J.W. Marriott clan.
Coach purses were the it-bag to carry, and at lunch, the girls were allowed to sit outside, tanning their legs and drinking Tab.
Ford’s inner circle was, “How do you say this?”
“The pretty, popular girls,” explained Andrea Evers, a close friend.
“It wasn’t like we were a bunch of vapid preppies, but God, we were preppy then.”
Weekends were spent shopping at the White Flint mall, flashing fake IDs at Georgetown’s Third Edition club — the drinking age was 18 then — or flocking to the house of whoever’s parents were out of town to drink six-packs of Hamm’s or Schaefer.
Every summer, the “Holton girls” would pack into a rented house for Beach Week, an annual bacchanal of high-schoolers from around the region.
The prep schools that formed Ford’s overlapping social circles usually gathered at a Delaware beach town each year.
And it is from those hard-scrabble beginnings that the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford we know and love today was born!
And here, people, I actually find myself tearing up, thinking of how brave and courageous she was to overcome her terror at the thought of doing her civic duty by testifying under oath to the Senate Panel on the fitness of Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice, so here I will have to take a break to wipe my eyes, because though my tears for her, I can no longer see the keyboard, but don’t fret, people, because when my tears have finally dried, I will be back to finish this story of how this brave woman overcame the adversity of her early life to rise to the station she has achieved in America and the world today.