Saturday, November 26, 2016

Upleveling Our Badassery

Twelve years ago, when Bush was re-elected, I felt sad.  The nation seemed to have nonchalantly accepted being at war.  We knew by then that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the war that was killing and maiming so many was based on misinformation at best, and as a nation, we didn’t seem to care.  

My then teen-aged daughter fell into a depressive slump, and stopped wearing shoes as a way to denounce the way things were going.  I was disappointed by the election, but not devastated.  Four more years.  We knew what we were in for, and though I was deeply disturbed, I wasn’t terrified.   We would plod through.

Here we are in 2016, and it’s a whole new ballgame.  We watch, breath held, as the man who believes it’s okay to grab women by the genitals, spew hateful rhetoric against entire countries and religions, and seems unable to focus for more than a few minutes at a time, begins to take charge.  I, like many of you, feel terrified and sickened.  If it weren’t so disgusting, it would be kind of hilarious.  The appointments to top-level posts somehow vaguely remind me of the “Home Alone” movie series.  People who shouldn’t be left home alone with matches are now running with scissors.

In 2004, my concerns became largely personal – the national events triggered despair that my daughter felt, but my focus was directed toward personal despondency of a loved one.  I did what I could, and wrote about it here.

Maybe because of that experience, I feel convinced that despair is our biggest enemy right now.  Yes, it’s rational to feel hopeless.  But it’s also reasonable to feel great hope.

The abyss is there, and it’s real.  But standing at the edge, staring down into it won’t help.  We need to remain aware of, and motivated by, the serious situation we’re in without succumbing to the desire to curl up in the fetal position with a pillow over our head.  

I’ve long had a wish that people’s emotional size would match their physical size.  In my imaginary world, The Little People, who currently inhabit normal or even larger than normal bodies, would be physically tiny.  They’d slip into cracks in the sidewalk or down the shower drain. The rest of us would gently rescue them from the heat vent or wherever, and carefully place them into a little diorama filled with miniature furniture and trees, tiny food bits, toothbrushes, and even dental floss.  There, they would live their tiny lives together, safely ensconced in a diminutive world, leaving the rest of us to do the work of this world: to approach life with hope and sincerity, and to strive toward lives of integrity where all people are treated with respect and dignity.   

Lately, I’ve decided to live as if that is what’s happening, because in a weird metaphorical universe that parallels our own, it is true.  The angry haters aren’t happy; they are shooting their tiny pea-shooters from the miniature world to get attention from the Big People.  They seek happiness by brandishing fear and anger, and it’s our job to go deep into our compassionate selves, and see it for what it is.  Misery is something to be sad about, not something to fear.  Donald Trump is a lonely, fearful, insecure man, a man to be pitied.  He and his followers are not happy people.  Love IS bigger than hate.  Kindness IS more compelling than rudeness and insolence.  Living a life of meaning is worth it.  Let the metaphor of the diorama for the haters come to life for all of us.  Let us live lives of goodness, standing up for oppressed, doing what’s right, thinking hard about problems and trying to solve them.  

But the first order of business is to do whatever it takes to not fall into despair.  You know what works for you.   Take a walk, do yoga, hang out with your peeps.  Some of us can only take tiny sips of the situation without  becoming struck down with grief, while others have the fortitude to track the details and remain informed.  Limit your input to a sustainable level.  When you feel the pull of the abyss, link arms with someone.  Give the abyss a cheery wave and keep working.

It’s easy to look around and find legitimate reasons to despair.  But despair never got us where we want to go.  We need to do whatever it takes so that we can get up each day and give it our best shot.  Find things to celebrate.  Take care of one another.  Summon generosity for the Little People, and don’t jump into their sorry diorama.  

And most of all, we need to up-level our game.  Now is the time to bring our very best selves forward.  We don’t have time to wonder if our pants are cute, or if the gray hair is showing through.  We don’t have time to hang out in relationships that aren’t healthy, or to get caught up in distracting micro-dramas.  This is the moment to shiny-up our talents and show-the-fuck-up.  

As Hannah Senesh said, “There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.” 

Be brighter than you ever thought you could be.  The world needs us.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Dowdy Church-lady Post

I’m coming out today as a church lady.  I know - sodowdy!  I’ve been a Unitiarian Universalist my whole life, and deeply involved in my church for over twenty years.  I know where the aprons are stored in the church kitchen, I’ve been to a billion potlucks and fundraisers and most of all, Sunday morning services.  I’ve worked in the religious education program for 20 years and been the president of the Board of Trustees, been on the Social Justice committee, and done a million other things over the years.  I have a key to the front door, fer godsakes.  But I don’t talk about it much.

I tend to be moderately private about my involvement in a church, because lots of people hear the word “church” or “organized religion” and it conjures up a vision of dogmatic haters. When people bash organized religion, I remain quiet, because I get it.  I understand why so many thoughtful people of conscience are opposed to, or frightened by, organized religion.  There are numerous examples of religion peddling hate, spewing dogma, critiquing and condemning those who don’t believe in their particular thing, and generally, making things worse.  Rather than sharing love and generosity, so much of it feels small and hard and full of hate and judgment.

So I remain quiet.   

The funny thing is, I think most of my non-church-going friends have beliefs remarkably similar to mine:

I believe religion and spirituality are private matters, and I don’t really want someone telling me what I should believe or how I should live.

I believe each person has the capacity to be profoundly good, and do remarkable things in the world.

I believe life is better when we all work together, finding and tending our common ground.

I believe we can all keep growing and learning, up to the very last minute.  I can be a better person today, at least in theory, than I was yesterday.  We’re never done.

I believe we should encourage one another on our journeys through life.

I think we should find whatever we can celebrate, and do it together.

I’m not even positive I know what “spiritual” means, but for me, it’s related to getting a lump in my throat.  It involves those moments when the world reveals herself to be so tender, beautiful, and surprising that I’m almost reduced to tears.  For me, this happens in nature, or when I see a parent being particularly tender and patient with a little one, or when I have a great conversation with a friend, or when the perfect song for my state of mind arrives on the radio, unbidden.  And yes, in church when I’m in a room full of people who show up and sing and listen and are silent together.  A room filled with a diversity of beliefs about whether there is an afterlife, or a god, or a soul, but stay connected by the common belief that what matters most is how we live this life, today, and how we treat one another.  

Many people often comment, “well, Unitarian isn’t a real religion.”  Or they assume I’m not doing it right, because if it’s organized religion, it must surely involve dogma, or require a set of beliefs.  It doesn’t.  

But it offers this: I will show up tomorrow morning, and our amazing, compassionate, wise minister, Lois Van Leer, will bring us together with her words.  We’ll grieve and be furious and heart-broken, and then we’ll be called to get on with the work of justice.  We’ll sing and cry and be together, and know that we are not alone.  When I want to work on social justice, I can plug in to a well-organized, thoughtful group of people who are already doing stuff.  My voice can be amplified.

So, I’m coming out as a church lady. I’m proud to have a life-long affiliation with this denomination, where we are united in principles, but also called upon to think for ourselves.  As we often say on Sunday morning, we search for the truth with an open mind, and work to make the world a better place to live.  We respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. 

This isn’t a plea to get others to join us, though all are welcome.  I know you’re all living beautiful rich wonderful lives, following your own conscience, and this isn’t for everyone.  But if you are interested, we meet at 10:00 am.  Show up just as you are, bring your children or don’t.  All are welcome.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The scoop. The 'scopes.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  What's going on with Swing States?   Are entire states organized around indecisive people?  With such an extreme choice, do people actually change their mind, back and forth? Look at the graph for Florida.  See?   Do indecisive people get asked to move to certain states?   ("Ahem.  We think you might really enjoy North Carolina...") And then, when they get there, is it just a big coin toss free for all?  Rho sham bo?  Pisces, don't ever forget that Paper is a strong opening move.  I'm dead serious. 

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  Someone was talking recently about how they need more hobbies, and I couldn't quite imagine that.  I have so many hobbies that I can barely get anything done.  But the people who really intrigue me are the ones who go so deep into one thing that they don't even realize that they're the only one on that track.  For example, one of my favorite podcasts is Jake's Rolex Watch Blog.  (For starters, calling a podcast a blog is original.)  Jake interviews famous people about their rolex watch. Astronauts, politicians, world figures.  "When did you get your first Rolex?" There's a tribute to Arnold Palmer on there now, "Six decades wearing nothing but Rolex." (Which makes him sound like a naked golfer -- naked except for the wrist area, of course.)  Go deep, Aries.  See what you can find.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Speaking of Nancy Sinatra, These Boots are Made for Walking came on the strange Spotify station I'm listening to.  I'd recommend that we all carry that song around in our emergency preparedness kits.  The dark times are coming!  Make your kit now.  (And let me know what else to pack.)

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):  Last night I had a dream that I was sitting in a giant lecture hall ready to take notes, and the people around me in class were men in suits and uniforms, which made me a little nervous.  At some point, I had to get up to go to a Hillary event, and tried to excuse myself.  One of the guys, a cop, gave me this sneering condescending look, like, "really?  You're voting for her?" and asked if he could explain things to me.  Go ahead, I said, but I get to explain to you next.  (I'm calling this sort of dream a Mansplaining Revenge Dream.)  So he did the blah blah about lying Hillary, and then I gave this awesome speech (it was my dream, after all!) about how in any other field, experience is considered an asset, and she's been smeared for years but it turns out  she's a caring human with tons of experience,.  He gave me that smug sneer but as I was leaving one of the other cops said something nice and I thought I gave a pretty damn good speech.  Gemini, this week, make your mansplaining revenge dreams come true!
Cancer (6/22 – 7/21): A star like ours has been communicating with Russia, which is pretty exciting.  (Seems like everyone but me is communicating with Russia these days.)  I guess the star is exactly like ours without the people, internet, sasquatches, and Pokemon Go, and conspiracy theories.  Other than that?  Identical.  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  Here's something cool: the planet has been divided into  57 trillion polygons, and a three word address has been assigned to  each spot.  What this means, of course, is that each tree now has an address.  Warning, Leo, you can spend endless amounts of time looking things up.  And then forgetting the three words.  And then thinking of new places to look up.  

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I've been looking for a mystery for a while now, something fun to solve that requires a bit of thinking and looking around.  Maybe even using the trick I just learned of getting soot from the tail pipe to use to dust for finger prints.  So far, no mysteries.  Any ideas, Virgo?  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  Without revealing too much, let me just tell you that one of the Time Travel Portals (the only one I know about) has the three word Hotel.Gold.Forest.  I think it only goes back as far as 1982, but still.   Ok, here's something else: Matthew Dicks, a master storyteller, offers this tip to become a better storyteller:  each day, write a few words in an excel spreadsheet documenting what the BEST story for that day would be.  Good idea, Libra.  Let's do it. 

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  The other night I dreamt that Trump won the election, and it was chilling.  But strangely, my first thought was, Jeez, this is so not the right time to have a parade full of vegetables.  That would be inappropriate!  It took me about 10 minutes upon waking to realize it was merely a nightmare.  Don't worry, Scorp, the parade is still on.  Embrace your inner vegetable.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): Are there still pay toilets in the world?  I don't think I've seen one in about 30 years.  Is it just me?  When did peeing become a thing you can just do for free? I still remember carrying a dime in my shoe, 'just in case'.  And what's happening to the GDP without that revenue stream (a literal stream!)  Sag, see what you can find out.  

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19): I think its true that many women can't bear to really look at how poorly Hillary has been treated; its easier to believe that the lies about her have some basis.  We prefer, sometimes, to believe lies than to look at painful truths.  I read Second Shift when it came out, about how in families where both parents work outside of the home, women do most of the housework.  When the author followed up with couples a few years after the lopsided division of labor had been quantified, one of three things had happened:  the couple had split labor more fairly (rare), split up, or, most commonly, had adopted a new myth that the workload was equal.  For example, they would reveal that wife cooked all the meals and cleaned the inside of the house, while the husband kept the garage clean.  They called it Even Steven.  The author surmised that women had to see their marriage as fair in order to stay.  I think that's a bit of what's going on with the election, with women who are willing to vote for a misogynist.  (Same reason people date misogynists -- this can't really be how it is!)

Aquarius (1/20-2/18):  Gary Johnson has a climate change plan:  Mars. I'd rather go to that planet that's been contacting Russia, myself. Maybe that's because Martians have been been represented as weird, creepy little people.  Oh wait, that's not why!  The reason I don't want to get in a space shipis because we have this gorgeous earth, filled with lovely insects and trees and vegetables.  Shouldn't we take care of that?  This is where we live, people!  Let's try to make it last.  And, by the way?  We're having a parade anyway.  We will need it more than ever.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jill Stein and Sam Patch

The main thing I've done today is read about Sam Patch.  If you didn’t grow up in NY, you might not know who he is.   I think my entire public school  history curriculum focused on Sam Patch and the Erie Canal.  Is that normal?)

Anyway, Sam Patch was famous for jumping off Niagara Falls (and living!).  And then jumping off the High Falls in the Genessee River.  Before he jumped, he tossed a pet bear cub over the falls.  (Who does that?  Any of it?  Pet bear cub?  Jumping off 99-foot tall waterfalls?)  He eventually died jumping, which is how it goes for people who do risky things.  Drug addicts die from overdoses, mountain climbers die in a crevasse, waterfall jumpers die on the jagged rocks below.

But back to this life, where, as a friend said yesterday, the coming election makes it feel like
we’re in a boat heading slowly and inevitably toward death by waterfall.  

I feel queasy to consider that one angry, narcissistic arrogant man is a hair (a weird orange comb-over hair) away from driving this great country off the cliff.  I can’t think of a damn thing I can do to stop it.  If we were bobbing toward an actual waterfall, I would at least row.  I would row and hope that someone else could get the engine started.  But I don’t know what rowing looks like in this instance.  

I’ll vote, of course, but I live in a solidly blue state, and my vote won’t change anything. 

I read about Trump:  that he tells more lies than any other politician; that one of his closest advisors resigned after numerous allegations of sexual harassment,  that he’s the defendant in a child rape case, that his ex-wife accused him of rape (but later recanted), that he refuses to release his tax returns, that he's gone bankrupt and not made good on debts.  He spews hatred toward women, people of color, people of Islam, people of different abilities, people from Mexico.  But that doesn’t matter to his mostly white (82% of his supporters), college degree-less (57%), mostly women (!!!! 34% white women, compared to 28% white men) fans.  The facts don’t seem to concern his supporters  – they believe the “lying Hillary” trope, contrary to evidence.  They blame her for covering up her pneumonia, but seem unconcerned about allegations regarding Trump University or his lies about his charitable giving.  For years he demanded Obama’s birth certificate, and now he blames Hillary for starting the whole thing.  Evidence of his lies is well documented, but he continues to surge ahead in the polls.  

Trump supporters don’t appear to be motivated by intelligence, reason, or integrity.  I assume there are darker reasons that they’d like to take America back that involve clinging to white heterosexual privilege at the expense of others.   

So I’ll leave them out of it, and direct my feeble efforts at rowing away from the abyss toward a tiny group of voters who matter, the Jill Stein contingent.  I know intelligent people of conscience who are planning to vote for Jill, and I, for the life of me, don't understand it.  Given that there is absolutely no way she will win (she currently has less than 5 percent of the vote), I can’t understand why someone would risk turning the country over to Donald Trump.  Unless they’re secretly Trump supporters, hoping he’ll win, but not wanting to own that?  That’s the only reason that makes sense to me.  

Voting for Jill is the equivalent of taking your marbles and going home because you’re too good for the two party system, a stance that’s only available to those who are (or at least believe themselves to be) insulated from the angry volatile world that will occur under the creepy "Take America Back" plan.  Maybe you aren’t in the direct line of fire because you’re some combination of wealthy, white, straight, and physically fit.  The stakes feel low to you, because you have an inheritance, a stable (for now) career, or family money.  Guess what?  That’s not integrity.  

Integrity is showing up in the real, imperfect world and selecting the best choice from the viable options at hand.  Throwing away your vote because you’re pissed that Bernie didn’t get nominated is the ultimate tantrum, but you’re playing not just with your own marbles; you're risking a lot of other lives as well.  It's saying that the game is too tainted for you to play.  But guess what?  The game goes on without you, and it matters.  The POTUS is one of  the most powerful people on the planet, and people actually died so that we have the right to vote. 

Welcome to grownup hood, people.  The game is tainted.  Hillary isn't perfect.  Neither was Bernie, by the way.  In the real, flawed world, all we can do is wake up each day and give it our best shot.  That's what integrity is.  It's choosing between one real thing and another.  We don't get to be ethically pure in this world.  Yes, you might have to steal the medicine.  It may be distasteful; you wish the world were different.  You wish you could vote for a candidate that is perfectly aligned with your values.  But guess what?  That's never going to happen.  That person doesn't exist, just like perfect love or a perfect job.  

Even still, there is a real choice.  Let me lay it out:

Gun Control:  Clinton supports gun control, Melania’s husband does not.  

On the Orlando Night Club shooting"If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle," Trump said, patting his hip, "and this son of a b---- comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have (a gun) and goes 'boom, boom.' You know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks."

Immigration:  Clinton:  Supports creating paths to legalization.  
Trump:  I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” 

AbortionClinton:  supports freedom of choice; 
Trump:  unclear.

Same sex marriage:
Clinton:  supports;
Trumpdoes not support. 

On climate change:  Ok, wake up, people.  This is real, and it's happening now, and it's the greatest threat to a bright future for our children and all the other species.  We are leaving the planet in dire straights.  I still wonder where we'd be on climate change if Nader hadn't siphoned votes from Al Gore.  Perhaps there would be more snow on Kilamjaro, perhaps thousands of people wouldn't have died in a war founded on false information about weapons of mass destruction. 

If you care about nothing else, care about climate change.
Trump:  Isn’t sure that climate change is a thing; itneeds some investigating.”.  

In short, Hillary is an experienced attorney who has worked hard to be qualified for the POTUS and works within the system.  Trump is a TV personality with a volatile temper who could care less about playing well with others.  

If you don't care if Trump wins, go ahead and vote for Jill.  But please don't judge the rest of us for trying our damnedest to live in the real world, making real choices that will affect the future of the planet.  You don't get to call it integrity to check out of the game.

Ok, this is me rowing.  If you can think of anything else to do, let me know. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Goodbye Joe

I saw his obituary on the door of the post office yesterday, where we notify one another of passings.
Joey, age 54, died unexpectedly last weekend.

He had a challenging life, and I hope he is at peace, whatever that looks like.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Your Horoscope and the International Space Station

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  Several years ago, I was invited to a "women's circle," so I went.  A handful of women were there (I suppose you guessed that, tho...), talking about manifesting good things.  I don't really believe in the whole "manifest" strategy, but what do I know.  Maybe it's self-fulfilling, which in a weird way, proves that it works.  But anyway, back to the circle.  One woman said she was trying to strengthen her manifesting skills, so she set out to manifest a penny.  She walked all over town, looking and looking.  She got to the end of her normal walk and nothing.  She wasn't sure what that meant, so she went on an even longer walk, and eventually found a quarter.  She was overjoyed at her 25 X manifestation, and I couldn't help but be happy for her.  But I remain foggy on the difference between looking for something, trying, working until you get it, and manifesting it.  Either way, Pisces, make something good of your week, even if you have to wrestle it out of nothingness.

May it be so.
Aries (3/21 - 4/19):   Speaking of coins, I heard a story on the radio about a man who picked up every coin he found, taped it to an index card, jotted a few notes down about it, and put it in a bag.  Each time his daughter visited, he would hand her the bag full of coins and thoughts.  The accompanying notes were mundane for the first few years ("Found on the floor of a hotel lobby.") Eventually, the notes became poetic ("Found these two, heads up, arguing with each other, but I put them in separate pockets and that stopped 'em.")  What a cool idea, I thought.  Maybe I could use coins I find as a writing prompt.  (Don't think too hard about that.  I know.  If the only thing I have to write about is the nickel I found at the gas station.... It makes me think that lady I saw on my way into the memoir class I took was right.)  But I digress.  The point is, Cancer, that there aren't many coins to be found.  Remember when people paid with cash, and pennies and nickels were dropping all over the place from leaky pockets?  Yeah, look around.  The streets used to be lined with copper, but not so much anymore.  Finding pennies may be on the list of endangered things, like that sound of a fax machine connecting.  Aries, see if you can notice those things that are disappearing, like summer and the breath that you took a second ago, and relish without clutching.  

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Taurus, between the time I wrote the Pisces horoscope and this moment, which was about 2 hours, I said to one of my loved ones how much I like to sneeze.  I guess because it's something that happens that you really have no control over, It shakes things up and is kind of exciting, and I've come to look forward to it. (Don't think too hard about that either.)  And 20 minutes after I said that, guess what?  I sneezed three times, totally out of the blue.  There wasn't a cold or dust in sight, so I'm left to consider the possibility that I totally manifested that sneeze.   I'm going to try for a new car next.  Give it a shot, Taurus!

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21): A few weeks ago, I was standing outside with a lovely group of friends, and we were looking up at the very dark starry sky, when someone pointed and said, "there's the international space station."  Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed, except for me, because I'm so skeptical.  How could someone look up at all the stuff orbiting out there and know it's the space station?  There are 2,200 satellites circling the earth -- how does one guy know it's the space station?  So I was quiet while everyone cheered and waved.  But the next day, I looked it up on the internet, and sure enough, it was the ISS.  There's a website that tells you when you'll be able to see it going over, and suddenly, I've gotten obsessed.  Just like that.  See what you can come up with to be fascinated by, Gemini.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21): Why do I care about the ISS?  Here's why.  Besides the sheer terror of imagining leaving this planet, there's this:  six people out in space, circling around, over and over, every 92 minutes. A cross between terrifying (because you're out in space), and boring (because you're out in space), hurtling along at 17,000 mph, with nothing to do in your free time but look out the window.  Stuck with the same people for a year.  I'm fascinated with that kind of social experiment, like the guy who spent all that time in a cave, Biosphere II, or solitary confinement.  Once I start thinking about this stuff, I can't really stop, which adds to the fascination.  If I can get stuck thinking about one thing, even with all of this external stimulation going on, imagine the brain in isolation.  Oy.  Don't do it, Cancer.  If you get invited to the ISS, JUST SAY NO!

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  I've been trying to research the international space station, which sounds easy, because duh, the world wide web and all.  But what I'm curious about is the humans -- how they manage, how they struggle, what changes.  I found a bunch of podcasts, but they were all about the science, like the SMiLE (Spun Microgravity Liquid Experiment) mission.  I wanted to hear something other than the standard, "From space, our planet looks so beautiful and vulnerable."  I found one that promised a live interview with an astronaut who had been on three space missions.  Jackpot, I thought.  But guess what, Leo?  In one of those earworm solutions, where you get one song out of your head by exposing yourself to an equally catchy song, replacing the original, I've moved a bit off the space station and onto this guy.  Because the lens he views the world through is the rolex watch.  He interviews this guy who's spent a bunch of time in space, and the interview is all questions about his watch.  OMG.  

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I was sitting at the river with one of my loved ones yesterday, talking about life, and in that weird moment when life imitates your own existential crisis, we watched a dog swim out for a stick, over and over.  It took us about a million times of watching the same routine for us to notice that the dog was acting out our conversation. The scenario: the dog is consumed with longing.  All he can think about is getting his human to throw the stick.  The man throws the stick, and Fido, in a fleeting moment of joy, swims out for it.  Life is perfect.  The river, the stick, swimming strongly towards it.  Then, he grabs the stick and swims back, but by now, the void has returned.  All he can think about is getting his human to throw the stick.  The other thing that happened sometimes is that the river carried the stick downstream, the way rivers do, and while Stick was bobbing merrily towards Everett, Fido swam in tiny circles, looking anxiously in the same spot for what was not to be found there, confused.  Our phylum, Leo.  Sigh.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  Most days, I sit in a coffee shop and work for a while.  There's a group of regulars, mostly grouchy old men who drink coffee, tease each other, and generally shoot the shit.  I don't talk much to anyone, but I like being around people. Even from the outer edge, I feel like I'm part of something beside my own solo life. When I was growing up, my dad went to a drugstore with a soda fountain every morning before work.  It was way before cell phones, and he had his calls forwarded to the drugstore for that half hour or so when he sat and joked around with other men before work started. My six year old self thought that was the coolest thing ever. Starting the day by laughing with other people.  See what you can come up with, Libra.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I was in the grocery store the other day, on my way home from a long wisdom-teeth odyssey, buying soft food for the patient.  I'm in there most days, and I don't think I'm very predictable, but the clerk commented that I was off my routine. Anyway, I explained about the wisdom teeth, and without missing a beat, she said, "Wisdom teeth, yeah.  I don't think my husband had any.  But his brother, he had five or six."  The humans, Scorpio, are endlessly fascinating.

In one of my favorite
Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): And just like that, poof, my favorite son and Sag moved to another timezone, another phase of life, a red state where the water drains to the Atlantic.  I will miss him like an arm, but I'm unbearably proud of the fine person he's become.  Namaste, R.

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):   I read an article the other day that said friendship is only mutual 53% of the time.  Meaning that roughly half of the people any of us call good friends wouldn't say the same about us.  I mentioned this to someone, and she said, "yeah, that happens to me all the time.  Everyone thinks I'm their friend, but it's not mutual." Which was a hilarious and ironic display of both the phenomenon and a big ego.  It was the opposite way that I went with it (I often think I'm good friends with someone, but turns out to be woefully one-sided.)  But the point is that no one is on always on one side of this equation. I liked what the guy, Dr. Banks, said about friendship:
In the presence of a true friend, Dr. Banks said, the smart or modulating aspect of the vagus nerve is what makes us feel at ease rather than on guard as when we are with a stranger or someone judgmental. It’s what enables us to feel O.K. about exposing the soft underbelly of our psyche and helps us stay engaged and present in times of conflict. Lacking authentic friendships, the smart vagus nerve is not exercised. It loses tone and one’s anxiety remains high, making abiding, deep connections difficult.
 Exercise the vagus nerve this week, Cap.  May your wishes come true.

Aquarius (1/20-2/18):  One of my buddies takes a walk every day with someone who had
My soon to be retired field vest.
Thank you for your service, little
to cancel one day recently due to a spider bite.  He reported this to me, saying he would be watching her to see if super powers develop.  As we talked, though, I started to wonder if denial is a super power.  Maybe it's not the worst thing.  Maybe thinking your friends are your friends, whether its mutual or not, thinking good things are about to happen, your loved ones love you too, the diagnosis won't be so bad, you'll be able to breathe and laugh through whatever comes.  Even if it might not be objectively true, is it such a bad way to live?  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trump. Is it really what's for dinner?

Riley has modified the “This is dinner” speech that I used to give into a plea to vote for Hilary.  The speech, which I didn't write, went something like, “THIS is dinner.  Someone who loves you very much has prepared this meal with your nourishment in mind.  It may not be your first choice, but this is what we’re having tonight.  If you don’t like it, you may politely excuse yourself and make a sandwich.  But please don’t sit here and complain or whine, because that is unproductive, and THIS IS DINNER."  For a while, maybe a decade, I think I said it every night.  (Well, I said it for the first few years, and then I assigned someone else.  "Hey, kids, who wants to recite This Is Dinner tonight?")

His much-improved version goes something like this:

"THIS is dinner.  The options are lima beans, or raw goat's heart soaked in castor oil.  You can choose the lima beans, or you can be force fed the goats heart soaked in castor oil.  Not voting or voting for a third-party candidate is the same as being force fed the goats hearts soaked in castor oil.  If that appeals to you more than lima beans, by all means, don’t vote, or vote for Jill Stein.  But these are your choices, because THIS IS DINNER."

I’m grateful that he’s repurposed a family speech, which has been languishing for years.  Which brings us to our new game!

What’s your most used parenting speech? Share it here, and we’ll see what we can do with it.  Reduce, reuse, recycle!