Cherry Blossom Season

cherry blossoms tree

It’s cherry blossom season! So much of the world is enamored with them, that I can’t help but celebrate these beautiful harbingers of spring too. Last year, I was in DC and saw some in person.

This year I haven’t traveled yet, so I’m enjoying others’ photos and videos. I knew that viewing them is a big activity. But I just learned that they’re edible. Many people enjoy drinking cherry blossom tea, along with foods infused with their flavor.

Maybe I’ll purchase some tea. Now I’m really curious and on the lookout for not only the trees, but some  confections too.

Thoughts on Kindness

tulips bien venue kindness

Some of my favorite YouTube videos to watch are reaction videos. Specifically, learning about what people think about Americans when they visit the United States for the first time. Overwhelming kindness is what many people experience.

As much as we complain about our country being divided and sometimes feeling that everything is awful, especially after watching the news, there is a lot of good. Video after video after video, I have seen that same reaction. How when people arrive here, Americans are smiling, chatting them up, giving compliments and actually kind of freaking people out. They usually think it’s fake at first, but then after awhile, they realize that it’s just part of American culture. And they like it.

Obviously, Americans aren’t always kind. And some people are so used to being treated badly, they cannot even fathom it. A recent Boston Globe Opinion piece called “The pharmacist and the amaryllis” shook me to the core.

A pharmacist had done a great job helping the writer cut through some red tape and got her insurance company to cover the needed medication. As a thank you, she bought an amaryllis plant to give the pharmacist. But the gift and thank you weren’t received as hoped. The pharmacist couldn’t comprehend the kindness and thought she was in trouble. Below is a portion from the piece.

“Though I was not there, I was the medication recipient and the patient in question. A few weeks later, recovered, I bought an amaryllis plant and brought it to the pharmacy drop-off window. When I asked for the pharmacist by name, the tech looked a little worried. The woman who emerged from the back looked even more worried.

I explained that she had helped to resolve a medical mess a month earlier, that it had required enormous effort, and that I wanted to give her the plant in appreciation. Immediately, her eyes grew a little glazed and fearful.

“I took care of that,” she said quickly. “It won’t happen again.”

“No,” I said, “I’m here to thank you.”

But she couldn’t absorb the thanks. As the public face of insurance noncoverage, delays for prescriptions that were never called in, long waiting lines, unreasonable copayments, and medication side effects that no one explains, she had been trained into a different expectation. It was clear that she was waiting for someone to yell at her.”

After reading this, I thought about the pharmacist. What her days must be like with such constant fear. I hope she can experience a steady stream of kindness. So she can recognize it, when she sees it.

Recently Watched: Paris Blues

Paris Blues

Some movies are such American classics, that we assume everyone has seen them. But that’s not always the case. Just this year was the first time that I saw The Sting, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. How could that be? I just never got around to it.

After seeing it, I know why it’s a classic. Wow! I loved it! I still haven’t seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — another Newman and Redford classic. That will be remedied soon!

But last night, I saw Paris Blues. It’s a lesser known film than the others and doesn’t include Robert Redford. But it has gigantic star power nonetheless. With Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, Louis Armstrong and music by Duke Ellington, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this movie until recently.

Paris Blues is a romantic drama from 1961, in black and white, yet has a modern feel. With all the music, dancing and romance, it made me wonder why nobody has ever done a remake. I could definitely see it.

In the beginning, Paul Newman’s character is after Diahann Carroll’s character. However, the movie wasn’t that modern and took the more predictable route. After all, interracial marriage was still illegal in parts of the country. Loving v. Virginia wouldn’t be decided until six years later in 1967.

What adds another layer to Paris Blues are the real life romances happening with both couples. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were already married to each other. Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll were both married to other people, but having an affair. So this must have been an interesting movie set!

Paris looks very gritty in the film, possibly depicting how it looked before being fully rebuilt after the war. Yet the charm remained. The music is wonderful, but it’s still kind of a quiet slice of life film that feels like current independent cinema.

What also feels modern is the issue of race. Both couples are American. Carroll and Woodward’s characters are friends visiting Paris for a two week vacation. Newman and Poitier’s characters are expat jazz musicians. Carroll and Poitier’s characters talk about racism back home and how he doesn’t want to return to the degradation he has to suffer as a Black man. But she says that someone has to stay and fight. Unfortunately, in reality, the fight remains.

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Screenshot: IMDb