Thursday, December 4, 2008

Right in the Eye!

Okay, I'm back with another bath time story. Once again, I'm reading the New Yorker, something about an extreme beer brewer, when I see a yellow arc out of the corner of my eye. Sputtering something "NO"-ish, dropping the mag and pushing aside the shower curtain, I'm just in time to see my son shoot himself directly into his left eye. Once again, a life lesson learned the hard way. Next week, don't spit into the wind.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not for Love or Money, But a Tic-Tac?

In response to a post by amodernmother, I started thinking about how we so often end up bribing our kids either to speed things along or get our own way without a fight.

Her kid ended up getting a lollipop for going to preschool to avoid a scene in front of other parents.

Oh, I know the feeling. With a 3-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl, I'll do anything sometimes to get the boy to acquiesce.

Luckily, preschool isn't such an issue so far, but he is SO enjoying the knock-down-drag-out-all-out-screaming tantrum these days. I'm all for expressing oneself, but they are so tiresome.

A friend told me that she rewards her (same age) son with a single Tic-Tac (a tiny candy, half the size of an M&M) if he is well-behaved in the store. Her son is a much more docile kid than my little bulldozer/talk-show-host, so it works for them.

Gullible me thought, "Oh! This is a great idea. He'll anticipate the reward and behave nicely."

Ha! Now, all I hear when we are in the car is, "Can I have some candy? I'm good! I behave! Can I have some candy? Can I have some candy? Mama, I want some candy!"

I chose to stick with it, only because I don't want to switch gears on him and be wishy-washy.

Every so often, when he's been unconsciously sweet and well-behaved in public, I'll present him with this tiny white or orange ellipsoidal treat and he's euphoric. "CANDY!"

He holds it reverently between his thumb and finger and gazes lovingly at it while licking it gently and talking about it. If we're walking, he either drops it, crunches it up, or swallows it by accident. But seated in the car, one Tic-Tac lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. Now that's bliss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Giant New Penis

So, I’m sitting beside the tub, flipping through the New Yorker and supervising my three-year-old son’s nighttime bath. My son, a.k.a. “the boy,” is lying on his tummy blowing bubbles into the bubbly bath water and talking to himself. A normal evening so far.

Then he stands up with the biggest boner ever and says, “Mommy, can you fix my giant, new penis?” I’ve never seen a little boy boner before, and hope to be spared ever seeing it again, frankly. It’s not a thing I want to think about. Ever. He pushed at it, trying to flatten it out, looking at me for help.

The magazine flipped up to cover my face while I tried not to laugh. “That’s normal, Honey. It’ll go away in a while. Just ignore it.” What do I know about erections? I’ve never had one. Can you ignore it? It was obviously irritating him (not for long, my dear, I know that much).

So he goes back to playing with the bubbles and I try to get back into my article. Then I notice he’s sitting up and squeezing his little woody with both hands. “Don’t hurt your penis, Honey,” I say, hoping I’m not endangering his relationship with his pointy little pecker by saying “don’t.”

He looks up with a frown. “I’m squeezing the water out of it!” Oh. Hmm. “I don’t think you need to do that, Sweetie. It’ll go away eventually.” He looks at it disgustedly and shifts his bum.

“Can we go to the doctor? He’ll fix it and I’ll get a red lollipop!” Oh, Hell, no.

“No, Honey. We don’t need to go to the doctor. Just lie on your back and it’ll go away.” Please go away! Go away and let me read this article about Obama becoming President and not think about my little boy becoming a penis-wielding teenager. Not yet! Give me a few more years of little boy stuff. Cars and trucks and airplanes, oh, my! Go away big penis! Go away!

It went away. But it’ll be back. Hopefully, Daddy will be on bath duty next time and can talk about it a little more with him. Not that I’m shy about body parts around the kids, ‘cuz I’m not. Getting dressed is a family activity in our house.

But these kind of questions: What is it supposed to feel like? How long will it last? Should I be scared? What is normal? Well, I’m leaving them up to Daddy, who can speak from direct, personal experience. ‘nuff said.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evolution and (Progressive) Politics

As far as this presidential race is concerned, let’s keep one thing in mind.

Evolution, as we know it through scientific research and determination, concerns character traits which give some creatures a better chance of propagation and survival over others, right? So, that’s where the phrase, “survival of the fittest” originates. The fastest, wiliest, sneakiest, meanest, most something, of whatever species, is the one who will make babies and survive to raise them to adulthood.

But humans aren’t evolving physically anymore, or at least not at a currently measurable rate. We’ve already got the really big brains and the opposable thumbs. Physically, we’re at the top of our game. So if it isn’t our thumbs or our brains (shut up, you perverts), what’s left to evolve?

Social Character Traits. Strengths, skills, attitudes, abilities and behaviors in general that assist the greater society to improve its collective rate of survival.
“Survival of the fittest” doesn’t apply anymore. Nor does, “every man for himself.” We don’t choose mates who are good hunters or breeders. We choose mates who are socially mobile and mesh well in the greater context of society. Societal evolution has changed us from hunter-gatherers to social connection makers and facilitators.

So, what’s your point? My point is that in this election, more now than in any previous election, we need to choose the man who will bring our society forward, and up to the next level of our evolution. Frankly, we’ve stagnated a bit since the fall of Rome. Yes, of course, art, science, medicine, mathematics, and academic thought in general has developed fantastically in the centuries since the fall.

What I’m talking about now is electing a leader who will take what we have, the way it’s always been, and bump our society into making the evolutionarily necessary changes required for us to survive as a species. As a species, and as a country, we need to move away from the status quo thinking of, “well, we’ve always done it that way,” and toward a type of thinking that encourages change and philanthropic thought patterns that affect everyone positively.

Warmongers won’t help us evolve. Facilitators who possess strong empathy and foresight and communication skills will. This leader has the ability to negotiate positively with adversaries, or with societies whose mores conflict with ours, and facilitate a win-win relationship, not a conqueror-conquered relationship with them.

Building relationships and accessibility to communication and education, not bombing cities and citizens and citadels, is how we will move up to the next stage of our societal evolution. We have the pieces pretty well defined for how we can move up the ladder, now we need someone who can collect and place all the pieces in a way that will allow all of us, globally, to use that knowledge to take a big step forward.

Enough with the rights of individual groups. Why can’t all of us have the rights we need to thrive? I’m not talking about making the most money or having the most things. I mean thrive, in the sense of growing and learning and becoming the best possible iteration of ourselves possible, both as individuals and as a society.

Our children do not thrive when we still go to war. Our children do not thrive when we continue to group society’s into us and them or right and wrong. Different isn’t wrong or worse. Building a bigger army isn’t going to bring us closer to our friends and enemies. But bringing our friends and enemies closer to understanding and sharing life with us will build a stronger global society and eliminate the need for bully tactics and posturing. It doesn’t matter what we believe; all religion is counter-evolutionary. It holds us back and requires us to adhere to behaviors that were valued more than 2000 years ago. What is important now is what we know.

A leader who facilitates evolutionary thought processes will bring us toward global peace, responsibility and stewardship.

Who will that be? Barack Obama. Not because he has any particular plan, but because he is capable of thinking ahead, off the track of “what we always do,” and because he has a personal viewpoint that is counter to the entire history of political decision-makers. Historically, our leaders have always come from the privileged class of educated, white, land-owning men. Never have we had a leader whose personal experience represented so closely the average, current American citizen. Of course we’re not all lawyers or as educated as Obama, but he and we have all experienced struggle in a way that the white men in the economic top 10% never have. Not getting into the college of your choice isn’t the same as working 2 jobs to put food on the table. Losing money on the stock market isn’t the same as not getting a job because of your skin color or country of origin (and don’t think it doesn’t still happen). The fact that a man’s name, something not of his own choosing, is held against him as a good reason not to elect him, shows how far we need to go and how much we need Obama’s leadership to get us there.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Family Photos, or Why Can't We Look Normal?

Family photos are next week. They always seem to creep up on me. So I spend the two days right before them searching for clothing that will flatter us all (me especially). Kids look cute in anything, and if it’s dorky they can blame their parents 20 years from now. I, however, being an apple pants must search for just the right pieces of clothing so as not to loom over my family like Jamama the Hutt or the Staypuff Marshmallow Mama.

Last year we ended up in jeans and black shirts, which looked great. But can we do that two years in a row? Does that make it a tradition? I won’t complain if I end up wearing black in all my family photos. Our mothers always told us (everyone together now), “Black is slimming.” Who doesn't like to be slimmed?

Will we be able to tell the years apart after 5 years of black and blue photos? The kids will be the barometer, I know. At least this year the boy (age three) has a decent haircut. Last year, my girlfriend, and fellow mama (gal-o mama?), cut his hair the week before the photos and did a great job until he moved his head. So that collection of pictures features bi-level bangs on a 2-year-old boy. Well, not so much bi-level as bangs with a big chunk cut out.

Oh, and yesterday, the girl (age one) fell and whacked her tender little cheek on the ground. So she has a lovely blue bruise on her cheekbone. So now it’s, “Family photo with abused daughter,” NOT. I can’t pad them and restrain them for weeks before a photo, so we just have to go along with whatever slip of the scissors or onrushing terrain comes their way.

Will some new catastrophe come our way in the next few days? Oh, I’m sure of it. Like life in its greater context, metaphorical bruises and bad haircuts will plague our paths throughout our lives. Panic or ignore them, just don’t be paralyzed by them. At least the blue bruise will bring out the color in her eyes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is it December, Already? It's the Solstice Anti-Party Party!

Many writers are preparing their seasonal holiday articles for the October/November/December crush of holiday articles. So I'm getting a jump on everyone and writing mine now.

My nuclear family (husband, son, daughter) and our extended family of friends (about 50 or 60 people), celebrate the winter solstice on December 21st or 22nd, rather than Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or the “secular holiday party” with Christmas lights and reindeer decorations.

We host a gathering at our home which starts mid-morning and lasts until the wee hours. It is a non-party party. Historically, in European cultures, the winter solstice was celebrated on the shortest day of the year to call back the sun. This was also one of the few major gatherings in the year for tribal people and people who lived in hamlets, on farms, and in tiny villages, and were otherwise separated from socializing outside of the family most of the year.

We recreate, in a modern way, the gathering of clans and communities, friends, families, and strangers. Coming together to socialize, woo, trade, celebrate, marry, and tell stories was the highlight of the year.

Our solstice party begins when we build a great fire in the fireplace which will be kept burning until the sun rises again the following day. Upon arrival, each guests lights a candle on the mantel of our concrete fireplace. We provide a plethora of tea lights, pillars, and such for allow for personal choice. The fireplace was made of concrete, using branches leaves, ferns and grasses from our yard. The impression left behind was colored by a concrete artist and the entire effect is kind of cave-paintingy, now that I think about it.

Our guests come when they are available. Some bring children in the morning or after nap. Some come alone, while others bring the whole clan, including their own visitors. Neighbors we see rarely, best friends, new friends, practitioners, clients, and anyone else who hears about it is invited to join us.

We provide a glorious spread of salmon (we live in the PNW, after all), salads, breads, cheeses, nuts (in the shell), root vegetable dishes, cider, wine, bubbly, and chocolate. Of course, our guests may bring something to contribute, but we make sure to have plenty for all. The idea is to gather everyone together to eat and tell stories, to laugh and flirt and celebrate life. Life comes from the sun and to call it back, we celebrate to send it our strength and life energy.

To further connect with the history and ceremony of the day, we provide a stack of library books all on the topic of storytelling, poetry myths, folktales, tall tales, fairy tales, and such, for anyone to pick up and read at any time. Some read aloud to the group or to children, while others read to themselves or not at all. It isn’t required.

Our other activity is very hands-on for the kids who celebrate with us. We make pine cone birdfeeders to hang in our yard and for guests to take home and hang in their yards.

Throughout the year, I gather the large kind of pine cones that aren’t produced by our own coniferous giants here in the Pacific Northwest. Whether at a yard sale or craft store, I can always find them cheap in the summer.

The kids and parents tie a green twine onto the pine cone and then we glob a fatty spread between the leaves of the dried cones. Because peanut allergies exist within our circle of friends, we use organic shortening to coat the pine cones (the kids only lick their fingers once). After rolling them sticky cones in an assortment of birdseed, we wrap the whole thing in newspaper and set them with the kids’ shoes to be taken home later.

Every year, the kids ask to do this project. It’s so simple and so messy.

Sometimes folks ask for a telling of this story of the solstice, so I talk a bit about it. It’s really an easy, comfortable, fun, not-dressed-up, no stress way to celebrate amid the wacky frenzy that December has become today.

Think about doing something easy like this when you start stressing out over what to wear, serve, say, and who to invite, avoid, feed, and keep out of the booze.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome Baby!

My brother's wife had a 7.10 lb. baby girl last week! Yippee! This is the baby he has wanted for about 25 years. She was born healthy and cute and everything good.

Then, this week, she stopped moving and was rushed to the ER, where she stopped breathing, and started up again on her own, several times. TERROR.

It turns out she was dehydrated, and is just fine now. Whew! One of the risks of breastfeeding is not being able to determine how much milk the baby is getting. She lost a pound in 24 hours (that's very bad) and gained it back in a day or two via IV drips and bottle feeding (that's very good).

The whole episode gave me flashbacks of my (now one-year-old) daughter's infancy. We had to bring her to the ER a couple times in the first 3 months. The first time was on her actual due date with meningitis. Yes, it was terrifying, completely, terrifying. She was born 5 weeks early, after trying to be born 10 weeks early. Little stinker put me in the hospital for a month on bedrest. Dragola. She survived the meningitis because there are 2 kinds: Viral Meningitis is usually caused by cold germs or something else equally common, and is beatable with IV fluids and round-the-clock care; Bacterial Meningitis is the deadly one. Don't get it.

So, happy birthday, Brooke! Welcome to the world and don't get sick again! We can't take the stress!

P.S. - My little peach has just started walking, putting on hats, and trying to drink from her bother's sippy cups. At 22 lbs., she's ready to have her car seat turned around and likes climbing into bed with her brother when he's trying to sleep.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Staycation at Seabrook

Okay, so it wasn’t technically a staycation; we drove for 3 ½ hours to get there, but it was in-state.

So we loaded up the truck and we moved to Beverleee…no wait. Packing the CRV and driving off with a big red wagon, a folding, three-seat couch thingy, and a giant umbrella strapped on top of the car felt rather like we needed a granny up there to complete the picture. I guess I’d rather resemble a Beverly Hillbilly than a Joad from the Grapes of Wrath.

So Ma and Pa and our 2 chillin’ drove and drove the highways and byways of Washington state, through (de)forests and a plethora of inky-dinky towns, the existence of which is proven only by a tavern or a sign post.

Our destination was Seabrook. A Stepfordesque town in the middle of the woods by the sea. This little clump of houses calls itself a town, but so far it’s still only partway completed. There are many signs planted in clumps of scrubby beach trees and bushes announcing that “this spot is the future site of…” Someday, there will be a pool and a retail center and a grocery store, and who knows what else. For now, though, it’s a few streets of super-cute houses alongside empty, muddy lots that are in the works to build more homes. There are no yards. Every house is completely enclosed with a short, attractive wood fence. There’s just enough room for decks and porches and hot tubs. The well-tended green spaces are all shared, just like the bikes and the sports equipment.

We stayed in the plush and trendy, barn red Hodgepodge Lodge. With Crate and Barrel plates and Reed & Barton flatware, this is a house furnished by folks who like to shop. It was very comfortable and not too breakable; we just moved a few glass doodads into the closets no one uses.

A fun bonus: we placed a blowup mattress in the walk-in closet for our son. He’s almost 3 and he loved having his own little room.

The best parts of the trip? The outdoor hot tub and the master bathtub. Deep, hot water. Pure heaven for me. We also loved the plethora of sporty beach bikes available for anyone to grab for a lazy cycle around the development. Extra goodies that make it even better: Moseying over to Crescent Park, picnicking at benches under the big white tent. Playing on the swings and climbing toy, and playing volleyball, badminton, soccer and kid-size baseball with all the provided sports equipment, followed by ambling over to the little cafĂ© for dinner. Then, ambling back home and watching the Olympics in the “media room.”

The downside to this trip was THE FOG. Grey, wet, clammy, hot, fuggy, muggy, view?-what-view?, effing, flipping, incoherent roaring fog. It pretty much ruined the whole trip for me. We never actually saw the beach, even though we played on the beach, walked on the beach, jogged on the beach, built a ginormous sandcastle on the beach…we did it all in an eery, grey world with no depth perception and no way to judge size or distances. Seagulls standing in an inch of water looked as big as cars. Humans swam in and out of sight in just a few steps. My brave friend Jen ran up and down the beach for exercise and had to use the giant sandcastle as her only landmark. Even that was easy to miss if you were too close to the water or too close to the dunes.

I only walked on the beach and left all the fun-having to the friends and family that were with us. I grumped and bitched and snapped at everyone until, after a serious amount of ragging from 2 excellent friends, I realized that the fog had triggered a major SAD moment for me. Ooh, thanks. Once I realized that the fog was corrupting my perception of everything I had a much better time. Unfortunately, that realization came too late in the weekend to prevent a nasty moment between my hub and me. We got over it.

With no way to guarantee sunshine, I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to Seabrook. In another 5 or 10 years, it is going to be something really cool. Right now, it’s pretty spendy and you can’t really go anywhere on the bikes, just around and around. I can see its appeal for sure. The house are so darn cute; no two are alike! It’s safe. Kids can pretty much ride around without fear. Several houses take dogs.

If you can handle the weather, it’s a great destination when you want to stay close to home and still get away. But for now, I’ll just stay home and not pay for the fog we get in our own back yard.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today I Start Ritalin

Did I even spell that right? I’m 41 years old (that’s forty-one, not fourteen)and only just found out that I have a “whopping” ADHD score. That’s a quote from my psychiatrist. My long-time friends have all said, “Well, no duh!” and “What? You’re surprised?”

Funny, isn’t it, that we blame ourselves our whole lives for not living up to our (shudder) potential. I was a crappy student (way back in the 80’s) and got no end of guff from teachers and parents about how I could be so much better than I was. So nice to hear. “You have such potential to be a good student. You have such potential to be pretty. You have such potential…” I will never, ever, ever use that word around my children. Yes, I’m sure they do have great potential to be many things. But what and who they are right now is more important than what they could be in the future, don’t you think? I do.

So, this past year has been this big exploration into how to fix me. “Let’s make Suzanne happy again!” I’ve been on Zoloft for a few years, moved on to Welbutrin a few months ago, and now I’ve added Ritalin. What is wrong with our world that we can’t be happy when we live in the land of plenty? We have the opportunity to eat easily and cheaply, educate ourselves, speak our minds, choose any industry in which to work, live in any city we like, vote (debatably successful as it may be right now, keeping in mind Florida’s lost ballots in the last election). And yet, we are a miserable society. We live so fast; we live instantaneously. We don’t even vacation leisurely. My little family is going to the shore this weekend. We’re driving almost 4 hours to stay 3 nights and drive back. We’re power vacationing, like power napping. Fast and furious, we charge around achieving and doing. I’m hoping that the Ritalin will help me focus enough to chronicle its effects on me over the next few weeks and months.

God, I love to just sit and read. Even writing about how busy we are is making me jumpy. Or that could be the first dose of Ritalin having its way with me. Hard to tell right now. Looming over me is the threat of all the packing I have to do in the next 4 or 5 hours to accommodate 2 adults, 1 toddler, 1 baby, 3 nights indoors, 2 days at the beach, and 7-8 hours driving.

Here’s a partial list of things to pack in our car.

Big red wagon for dragging kids and crap to beach and back, beach toys, something for shade on the beach, bathing suits and extra suits, beach towels, hats, sunscreen, aloe, chairs, coolerish container, clothes for me, clothes for Hub, clothes for almost-three-year-old, clothes for one-year-old, shoes and sandals for all, water bottles (stainless steel, not plastic), toys for car ride, toys for indoor playing between trips to beach, games for grownups, FOOD for 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners, snacks, drinks, sunglasses, water shoes, mesh bag to carry wet stuff back to house, books for all…

We opted not to bring the kayaks. We’d have had to bring 2 cars. Gas is costly enough for one car.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back next week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kuchipudi - Shiva Likes to Watch You Dance!

What I saw this weekend was a dance of extraordinary strength and stamina performed by 18-year-old Mayuri, who has studied this form of Indian dance since she was 10. Her demonstration of Kuchipudi was a 2 ½ hour, gorgeous ceremony of love; love for Shiva, love for the Guru, love of history and culture, and love of being a part of antiquity. The story starts in the 13th Century, long before anyone thought to include women in any form of dance. Women became the central dancers of Kuchipudi several centuries later, perfecting the art of the dance drama style now known as Kuchipudi, telling stories, conducting prayers, and dancing while standing on the rim of a brass plate.

Close to two hundred people, both Indian and not, came to view Mayuri’s masterpiece. Men in beautiful purple turbans and long white or purple and magenta robes were resplendent among the women in their saris, glittering in every shade of purple and pink, turquoise, yellow, and gold. Children dressed in saries, tutus and t-shirts came to witness Mayuri’s achievement. At one point, speaking with a friend of mine, who is also not Indian, we agreed that we both wanted to wear saris but lamented the inevitable perception by others of being posers if we did. Oh, to wear such diaphanous, sparkling, shimmering raiment! The Gap just doesn’t compare. All the beautiful garments were surpassed by the costumes worn onstage. Mayuri glowed within her colorful costumes and with the vibrance of a young life living up to its fullest capabilities.

Not only is Mayuri an outstanding Kuchipudi dancer; her diligence carries over into the rest of her life, winning her multiple scholarships to a renowned university, academic prowess, and the demeanor of a woman, not a teenager. In an age of instant gratification, sound bites, texting, and ever-shortening attention spans, Mayuri defies those who cry that a generation has gone to waste. Not all are lost.

After dedicating herself to this strenuous art form for 8 years, she was here to demonstrate her prowess and step across the boundary from student to performer. Never mind the numerous elaborate costumes, the incredible body paint on face, hands, fingers, toes and feet and the headdresses and intricate layers of jewelry. Never mind the three musicians and vocalists who also dedicate themselves to this preservation of culture. What we saw was an athlete of Olympic stamina and perseverance, a woman of beauty and vigor, a dancer with endless grace and agility, and over all, we saw the goddess in an icon of Indian culture and pride.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Berries! Berries! Berries!

I’m drowning in berries and happily wallowing in their juices. If I had to take a stab at describing heaven, it might look like summertime in Seattle, with free time on my hands and fresh berries in my bowl. Blueberries under my cereal, strawberries on top, and raspberries, blackberries and tay berries sprinkled on for a bursts of sweet and sour tang. I sprinkle them in salad, stir them into my son’s oatmeal, and grab them by the handful all day long.

Ooh, and the best part is when we have too many berries and it’s time to make cobbler. A berry cobbler is the quickest, easiest way to enjoy the taste of pie without the labor of rolling dough and making a crust. It’s been featured in plenty of magazines and cookbooks, I’m sure. I got the recipe from a friend, who got it from Martha Stewart Magazine, I believe.
Berry Cobbler
8 - 10 Cups Berries or enough to overfill your pie pan or baking dish
¾ Cup Flour
¾ Cup hard-packed Brown Sugar
1 stick Butter
1 tsp. Cinnamon (or more to taste)

Preheat oven to 350°. Place fruit in pie pan or baking dish. In medium bowl, crumble together butter, flour and sugar. Cover fruit with mixture and sprinkle cinnamon over all. Bake until it smells wonderful.

I’ve never timed it. It’s always ready when you smell it and your mouth waters. Stick it in the oven right before you sit down to eat and it will be ready when you start to clear the dishes. Let it cool while you break for a little cleanup, and enjoy it with ice cream, Soy Cream, whipped cream with a little vanilla and sugar, or Soy Whip, my new favorite whipped cream substitute. Yum!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Disillusioned, but Love Will Out

I just read in the news yesterday that Orson Scott Card, an author who has done more than most to change how readers think, is openly, demandingly, frighteningly homophobic and is calling any support of same sex unions a “war on marriage.” I am struck dumb. I had no idea he was such a bigot.

The man who wrote Ender’s Game, a definitive novel about manipulation and mercy; who wrote the Alvin Maker series, about using your talents for the good of all mankind; who has written umpteen-gazillion stories of all genres, and whose talent I have admired for most of my life, has just popped yet another bubble of mine.

Way back in 2004, Card wrote, "We care about moral issues, nobility, decency, happiness, goodness—the issues that matter in the real world, but which can only be addressed, in their purity, in fiction." He cares about nobility, decency and goodness, but can’t find it in his heart to accept a form of love that doesn’t match his.

I always knew he was a Mormon and always admired him for being a brilliant writer who didn’t proselytize Mormonism, although mentions of it are sprinkled throughout his repertoire. I will never understand how free-thinking, creative, artists of any kind can rationalize bigotry. I hate it when someone’s writing is so good that I believe that the writer must be a good person by extension.

Have you ever watched PBS or the animal channel when they are showing animals mating? Four or five cheetahs will all get in a long conga-line-o-sex. One lucky male hops on the female and all the other males hop on that male and each other and everybody gets off. I’m not sure the female enjoys it, but the males don’t look too unhappy.

Then there are the Bonobo apes who keep the peace through mutual masturbation. They are the unmentioned fifth ape (humans, chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos). I think that television producers are afraid to show bonobo research because the apes are so peacefully sexual and the producers think showing non-aggressive sexuality will damage young viewers somehow. Open, relaxed sexual behavior frightens the decision-makers, who must answer to their constituency, a public face which can always be traced back to the not-so-hidden machinations of the Church.

People are so silly about sex. Love doesn’t damage anyone. Hate and fear and guilt and damnation do. Now, I'm not talking about abuse disguised as love. I'm talking about true-love, be-together-forever-love, for-better-or-worse-love, build-a-life-together-and-support-one-another-through-thick-and-thin-love. Besides, how can the Mormons, or any religious organization, object to homosexuality when the Catholics have been silently supporting it for centuries? Married to God, my eye.

When will the "God-fearing" folk wake up and realize that they are afraid of themselves and each other, and it has nothing to do with faith? The church, temple, mosque, whatever, will remain dominant so long as people are willing to subjugate themselves and their children to people propounding the veracity of ridiculous stories created by power mongers thousands of years ago.

So, sorry Orson. You've been knocked off the pedestal upon which I mistakenly stuck you. The veil has been drawn from my eyes. You're a fantastic writer but a mixed up man. Love simply is. There's no "Love is not..." or "Love is only..." You can't legally define love. Love simply is. Bigotry isn't.

Friday, August 1, 2008

good news bad news good news bad news

In 24 hours I have sat with a friend in the midst of a miscarriage, heard that my brother’s wife is dilating and effacing (though not delivering), and discovered that good neighbor-friends have become pregnant after years and years of trying. I’m sad and happy and thrilled and worried and running in several directions emotionally.

I also got an email this morning, that set all kinds of alarm bells ringing, from a friend I haven’t spoken to in ages. She thanked me profusely for my email recommending that she check out a networking site I like. It was the nicest thing anyone had done for her in a long time. Whaaat?!?

Now I’m worried about this friend in her still-newish marriage, grieving for another, anxious for my brother, and ecstatic for my neighbors. But enough about me. Stay posted for further newsbreaks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hail Mary Mornings

Hail Mary, full of taste.
The caffeine is with thee.
Blessed art thou among coffee drinks,
And blessed is the effect of your chemistry, Joy.
Hail Mary, Mother of Mochas,
Add chai for we sleepy,
Now and at the hour of our commute.
Soy, please.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Apple Pants

I am an apple. I could have been a pear or a banana (some would say a chili pepper), but I am an apple. Back in the day, I would have been a beach ball (not a string bean or a pear, which is pretty universal). At my local Lane Giant, I’m a 20. Or a 2XL, or the second smallest size in the store. Let's not think about what I was 5 years ago, before marriage and kids (hint: a lot thinner).

So, I was thinking the other day, after buying and washing and wearing several pairs of shorts and capris from LG, how interesting it was (to me at least) that I had never unbuttoned any of my new pants. Here's the one advantage to being an apple - sucking in your gut allows your pants to just slip right on. Relax, and they are temporarily anchored. The flip side of that, of course, is that if you are already in the pants and accidentally suck it in, or walk around for too long with your arms full, or God forbid, try to run anywhere, your pants will drop to the floor without notice. Not an advantage.

Back before the kids and the fat arrived on the scene, this was never a problem. Sure, my pants would slip lower on occasion, but fall off? Never. Now, if I’m not wearing a belt (mental picture of beach ball bisected by belt), I can’t carry things 2-handed over long distances without danger of exposing my lovely, but expansive, derriere. No one would call me modest, but that’s taking things a little too far.

How have men done it all these centuries? Yes, plumber’s butt is definitely an issue here. Maybe that’s what suspenders are all about. Lord knows, over the last two years I’ve invented (in my head) plenty of contraptions to hold up my pants: my favorite is the mini-suspenders that clips to the front of the pants and the bottom of the bra. Undercover suspenders for the Dilbert or Binkley in all of us! So pretty. If any of you all feel like following through with that one, just cut me 30% for the concept and we’re all good.

The gut is a pretty common site these days. Thanks to women’s fashion, the term “muffin top” has been coined to describe the pudge that gets squeezed up and over the top of a woman’s jeans because she’s wearing them too tight and too low. Where have all the best friends gone? Who lets a friend walk out of a dressing room, let alone a store, wearing a pair of pants that makes a thin girl look pillowy? Since when did back fat become sexy? I’m seeing it all over the place and it ain't pretty.

And guys, just because you can’t see your belly peeking out from under your t-shirt doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. It’s like upside-down, hairy butt crack. Tuck it in! I'd rather see a big belly straining against the fabric of a tucked-in shirt than that wobbly, hairy, scrotal peek.

Tucking your shirt in doesn’t work for you? How about tiny, little suspenders that attach to the front of your undies (yes, you must wear underwear) and the bottom of your shirt? Or let’s revive the unitard (the instrument of constant wedgification for those of us who were in school in the 80’s), but instead of struggling with snaps on your crotch, let’s make a big flap that snaps in front (yes, like a diaper). But let’s make them for men, too! A nice smooth line, no butt crack and no belly cleavage peeking out? Why, that’s brilliant! Thank you.

My point? Oh, something about being fat and frustrated that my pants fall down.

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to my blog. I’m not sure where I’ll be going here, but I do know it will cover the topics of my kids, depression, writing, marriage, friendship, art, books, animals, plants, Japanese maple trees, hydrangeas, blueberries, horses, cleaning and not cleaning, joy, sadness, laughter, family, and a bunch of others.

I’m an editor, of everything from fiction short stories, novels and screenplays to non-fiction magazine articles, municipal code, and web content. I write, too, but not as easily. Editing is a matter of making everything right, like walking through a gallery and straightening all the frames, tilting the lights just so, and presenting everything at its best angle and it its best light for best viewing and understanding.

Editing is interpreting. Taking a collection of words and tailoring them to say what they need to say, in the voice of the speaker, without confusion. Writing, on the other hand, is generating the original thought for others to interpret.

As we wander the gallery of art, of writing, of taste, gazing at each piece, we take away an interpretation that is solely our own. What the artist intends, what the editor hopes to help the artist convey, is the outer story of art. The inner story, the true take-away, is a construct of the viewer, as an individual’s experiences color every new experience, creating something wholly original from the artist’s creation hanging before us. Walking away from art, we take the vision of the piece, the artist’s intent, the narrator’s interpretation, and our own schema, layered over and under it all, causing the piece of art to become a personal, intimate experience, never to be duplicated by another.

The artist, whether of visual, written, or cooked content, lays before the world a layer to be incorporated into the greater schema and interpreted by a million different eyes, mouths, hands. This is the great fear and the great feat. To lay a piece of oneself aside, to leave it for others to find and devour. Art is terrifying and exhilarating. We love to react and to be reacted to. We love to be surprised and to find connection. We love to hate and to love a thing, a concept, a dish. Contrast drives us to continue looking. Contrasts keep us hooked on experience.

Roller coasters, the anticipation, fear, thrill, relief cycle, run over and over, hooks us in and brings us back to stand in the longest line in the park. Those few orgasmic moments are worth the boredom and discomfort of waiting among others, watching the few go up and around, jealously vicarious, wanting to be there and not here.

Well, that is life, isn’t it? We are either in the moment or waiting to be in the moment. Looking for the end of the line that will bring us to the moment takes us along many paths to many moments. Some paths loop back to a repetitive, predictable validation, like the rollercoaster.

Other paths, like the house of mirrors and glass, bring us through pain, or disorientation, to ecstatic relief and joy. Whichever path we take, looking for the moment draws us along, the movement itself sustaining the search for joy. Don’t stop too long or you will lose the momentum.

Lose the momentum and you lose the path, lose the path and you lose the opportunity to get on the ride.