Millennials, Beer, Trivia and Hanging Tough

By Marsha Wilson Rappaport

I am one of those geeks who bought multiple editions of Trivial Pursuit as soon as they came out. Jeopardy was “must-see” TV. My friends and family spent many moments staring at me in wonder as I blurted out weird international factoids. And yet, as I grew older, my zest for trivia competition had slowly been reassigned to sitting in front of a computer or phone screen. My introverted personality had discovered the perfect way to express my geekiness without interacting with humans.

My congregation started a once a month trivia night years ago. It was one of those things I knew I needed to try. It was good for my mental health, it was good to get out of the house – it was going to help me stay vertical. And yet, I passively watched the announcement each month and made excuses for not going.

This October I changed. I ignored my desire to turn on the television and sit in my chair. I did my paperwork the night before so I would not have an excuse to turn on the computer. I put my phone in my pocket and went downtown to play with other people.

I arrived at the craft beer place downtown and immediately had to fight the urge to turn back. My congregation wasn’t there. And the room was filled with young doctors from the university, young girls in yoga pants, and guys with trendy beards and flannel shirts.
When the bearded master of ceremonies came over and asked me what team I was going to play with, I lamely answered “Team Marsha”. He looked at me, explained the point system, gave a stack of white slips of paper and didn’t laugh at me.

I made up my mind to do this. I ordered a hot dog plate with some highly addictive fries. Although there was a board with a long list of craft beers, my current health regime limited me to a glass of water with snappy craft ice cubes.

I hid against the wall at my little lone team table, next to the designer bicycles of the other players. The only thing worse than their fitness was the trendy expensive bumble bee helmets hanging on their handle bars which signaled fitness, good sense and high credit card limits.

The game began and I was already a standout. The young folks had really cool team names blended with profanities and sexual innuendos. When teams were called, they all pivoted to look at who missed the point.

The contest itself was even more challenging.
For example, did you know that in 2005 Google sold a stock offering equal to a piece of the mathematical “Pi”? Pi is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. I was clueless. Did you know that Marie Curie named the element Plutonium after her home county of Poland? Hey, I thought naming it after the Planet Pluto was a reasonable guess.

Ultimately I did know that Exxon was the largest company in Texas. But I still missed the Exxon/Mobil part
No matter. I was out of the house for a couple of hours enjoying my geekiness in public. I may have to invest in a flannel shirt in order to fit in. But – I’ll be back!


The Danger of Turning “Us” into “It”

By Marsha Wilson Rappaport

Encore Post: In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in El Paso and Dayton

Acceptance of the status quo has never been one of my dominant personality traits. Yet, when I received at lay-off notice from my social services job at the age of 66, my compliant self immediately overruled my warrior princess persona. I abruptly made a CVS run and grabbed a box of 100% Grey Coverage Espresso that would complement the red tones in my mocha skin.

This capitulation comes at a time in our society when labeling the “other” has evolved into a brutal, social media spectator sport. Voting Democratic or Republican has divided families and broken up relationships. Accusations of racism as a symptom of right or left leanings have conveniently obscured the fact that hate has no political party affiliations. Moreover, we have returned to old religious mythologies and a dangerous level of Anti-Semitism has grown back from the pruning of its murderous roots after World War II.

As a result, I instinctively knew that in a job interview, my resume would take a back seat to the visual of the “kindly old grey-haired black lady” who should retire and accept her new role cooking cornbread and greens.
All this nasty social discourse seems impossible to me as a US citizen. The last election cycle pushed the process into overdrive. No one has stopped yelling long enough to take a look at the U.S. Constitution and the intent of men like Thomas Jefferson. None of the Founding Fathers trusted party politics. Their own contentious personal relationships and party differences are well-documented. Despite that they formed a system with some elegantly simple attributes we have all appeared to have forgotten. Simply distilled: No one gets to be King and everyone gets to vote the bums out!
I have been a published journalist since I was a teenager. I am a realist and a cynic. As the result of writing in newspapers for years I have a real low bar of expectations for politicians. I believe that the Founding Fathers got it right. Politicians often screw up and we are here to vote to replace them.
My personal friendships have never included party considerations for those very reasons. I personally like and support folks who have integrity, pay attention to their constitutes needs, and genuinely serve the public. I am also pragmatic, I live in a small town and ignoring anyone cuts down your chances of a pleasant evening during a community BBQ.

In this emerging new world of technologically driven name-calling, we are devolving into rude tribes who swing words much like our ancient ancestors swung clubs. What used to be gossip about anybody now spreads as fact within minutes. We are reviving lynching by creating a world of social judges, juries and executioners. Obviously, destroying reputations, economic status or relationships is not a midnight ride with a rope. And yet, even children are committing suicide now due to social media bullying. The social “gang” effect is just as dangerous and deadly as mob rule was 100 years ago.

Perhaps the most pernicious component of this current state of social affairs is that we have been warned about the dangers of “group-think”. The mechanized, extermination of six-million Jews in World War II was preceded by years of “public social grooming” by a madman.
In short, I must cover my well-earned grey hairs and assumed I have been pre-judged before I walk into a HR office. Because I didn’t like gossip in the pre-tech world, I have no idea how else I have been labeled. Just the fact that I have friendships across party lines may seal my fate. But attempting to accentuate my brain, by faking my brain rug seems like a reasonable first step in invalidating the “it” label.

Encore Blog from my Essay Collection “Sharp Grey Edges” in English and Spanish on

Tech: Where Black is the New Black

What fun stuff can you do when the flu forces you to stay home from work? What possible trouble can you get into when you’re stuffy, nauseated and living in your bathroom? I have an idea, why don’t I stop watching Jerry Springer, look around my home and fix the crap that’s driving me crazy!

Let’s start with all of my fashionable tech. These days, most tech is designed to make my messy home office look more professional. Therefore, every piece of equipment is sleek, curved and stylishly black. That also means that every button, every cable port, and every raised description is drowning in a sea of black.

I have concluded that tech is apparently designed for offices that have spectacular bright lighting and staff members with very young eyes. I have old eyes. In fact, I’ve had them from that day at the dinner table when Dr. Weisskopf noticed my three-year-old face in my mashed potatoes and told my parents I needed glasses.

At this point you’re asking yourself, why I would be worried about my work tech, when I am stranded in my bedroom recliner, wondering why there are so many baby mamas on Maury who needed DNA testing on their kids?

Well, I started to turn up my air purifier to the max and realized my eyes were so watery I could not see the raised black settings buried by the stylish black color. My fight with Texas pollen had recently driven me to buy a bigger unit. It was on sale. And now my frugality had betrayed me.
Once I put in some eye drops and cleaned my glasses, I moved the dial to fast. Then, I sat there brooding and blowing my nose.

As luck would have it, I had recently moved out of my comfort zone and bought colored labels for my trusty Brother label maker. I was sick, I was upset – but it was on.

Once the task was finished, I had some hot tea and honey and put up my feet. I glared back at my home office. I will be back on my feet soon, label maker in hand to make my tech a lot less stylish.

Rant Challenge: Isn’t it time for some savvy entrepreneur to make tech with senior-friendly buttons? Your fortune awaits.

Staying Vertical!

by Marsha Wilson Rappaport

Join us on this new adventure!

Do you remember when you were a kid and you refused to eat broccoli? If you are a baby boomer, you remember your parents telling you: “It’s all in your head – eat it or get punished!”

As I grew older, I knew that most of my aches and pains were real. However, some of my decisions to withdraw from things that used to be fun, really were “all in my head”.

According to Mental Health America, depression is prevalent among senior citizens:

More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.[2]

Comprising only 13% of the U.S. population, individuals aged 65 and older account for 20% of all suicide deaths, with white males being particularly vulnerable. [2]


This project isn’t medical. If you are clinically depressed, then you should seek medical help.

However, this little project It is designed to make small suggestions that will simply cheer us up and take some of the worry out of our lives as we age.

What We Intend to Do:

Tackle the Eating Out Issue: As much as we all know that eating and cooking healthy meals is critical to good health -sometimes you just want to eat out and NOT stress out. Let’s face it, it the 24/7 news cycle was right, then even a diet of pure water will kill you eventually.

We’re going to track down healthy eating options on Galveston Island. If that sounds simple – think again. Galveston Island is a major tourist destination – everything is designed for fun!

Tackle the Entertainment Issue:

Would we all like to go to a rock concert and stand for hours in the rain again? Of course. Can we do that now? Not a chance! 

I am going to seek out safe fun at a host of entertainment venues. For example, I will find ways to enjoy an amusement park knowing that a ride that drops me 100 feet from a crane is not a good idea when I have high blood pressure. On the other hand, a Ferris Wheel would be great. I just need a safe way to keep my glasses on so I can actually enjoy the views.

Keeping It REAL!!

How far is the parking? Is there a drop off zone? Are there elevators? Are there handicapped ramps? If it is an attraction, are there lots of benches around to take a break?

We Are Going to Try to Make this Fun

I am a writer, not a movie maker. BUT I have an iPhone, and some other cool tech. You’ll see photos. Videos and audio on our twin website at: and YouTube.  We are going to interview our neighbors and friends about their journey while we play. Get ready for some local celebrity surprises!!!

Everything will be senior friendly with big text that I can read!!

Join us on this journey.

We are going to have some fun.