22 December 2010

Let Your Heart Be Light

For some reason, I feel defensive of the Spirit of Christmas this year. Maybe also disillusioned and disappointed. Before I wrote this post, I wondered why.

There was a blog post at work recently referring to Santa, who visited some of our branches. The photo with the post was tagged with the identity of the individual who dressed up as Santa. A Christmas Spirit-minded staff member suggested in comment that there must be some mistake about someone having dressed up as the jolly elf and that surely this was the real Santa.

My mind began to meander along a Santa path.
I thought of adding a comment, some quick clever quip.
I was leaning toward some cutesy take-off on "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

I had a vague familiarity with the Yes, Virginia story: a young girl sends a letter to a newspaper asking if Santa Claus is real. But that was really all I knew about it.

I wasn't even sure if it was an actual event or if it was some old Christmas After-School special that missed the Yakima television stations when I was growing up.

I typed 'Yes Virginia' into Google and clicked the fourth link down.

Even with just a quick scan, my eyes began to water.

According to newseum.com, in 1897 an eight year old girl, named Virginia, wrote a letter to the New York Sun:

Dear Editor: I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun it's so.'

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church's response begins:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

This was in 1897, mind you. Not 1987, 1997 or 2007. I'm amazed at the December 2010 applicability this holds. If 1897 was a skeptical age, what are we now?

I had not read this newspaper editorial before. What a shame. I immediately printed up a few copies. I taped one to the door of my 'office.' I placed one on the counter with the half dozen Christmas cards sent to my department from other departments. I sat wishing I had more time before Christmas so I could print up many copies and send them out as my Christmas 'letter.'

I won't include the complete text here, although it is not long. I trust you to click there now and read it in its entirety. http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/ (Then, of course, you know... come right back and finish reading here when you're done.)

The parts that resonated most within me:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
Where did we lose our way, People? Humanity?

Certainly we were not created for our current, and apparently long held adoration and celebration of all things edgy, negative, fast-paced, confrontational, adversarial, skeptical, cut throat, violent, 'get them before they get me,' empty, distrustful existence that we live and breathe and market and support and encourage and exalt and aspire to and revere and buy into with our last copper cent.

We bow to The God of Cruelty, Cunning and Cleverness.
(The poet Rumi said; Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition.)

We would never dare admit that we do not, in fact, know it all. That our strong and long held opinions and life philosophy, might be useless and arrogant and utter nonsense.

We are addicted to news. Bad news.
We live in a culture that thrives and celebrates the downfall of others.
We scour the celebrity rags in hopes that the 'stars' of our small minded culture have stumbled and crumbled socially, emotionally, physically.
We relish and willingly wallow in the energy of ego and avarice.
We strive to out-do the neighbors over the fence in what ever area we feel most materially insecure.
We seek to beat the car next to us off the line when the light turns green.
We grumble and grouse when those around us shine and succeed.
We resent and we covet and we begrudge.
And we stoop to our lowest self, as opposed to soaring to our highest truth.
We fear vulnerability, that we'll be revealed as frauds. And rightly so, as we cannot muster the courage to be authentic and true and wide open. Even within, or perhaps especially within our most intimate of relationships.

How moronic is it that over one hundred years after these apt observations were pointed out to Virginia, we are even more guilty in our small mindedness, in our refusal to see, to scoop up, to celebrate, to shout the truth?

I don't know about you, but to quote Ben Stone from Family Stone: "I'm ashamed of all of you. Even you." We are all complicit. We all participate and support, if in no other way, than in our refusal to refuse. When will we learn? When will we stop? When will we finally see that our constrictive and controlling cultural status quo no longer serves our collective spirit? It does not serve you. It does not serve me. When do we say 'enough?'

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Let your heart be light. Be light! Be Santa! Be Belief. Be an example. Be filled with Faith and Poetry and Romance. Be Magic this Christmas. This next year, Be Santa, Santa, Santa! Every single day.

Grow and Expand in your humility. Your bewilderment. Your willingness and honesty.

Forsake edgy and dark and hate-based adversarial minded energy, from within and from with out. It comes only from a place of fear!

Instead Rejoice!.

Repeat the sounding JOY!
Do the best thing for our weary spirit: Let your heart be light!

15 December 2010


I love movies. I love snow.

Snow movies might not be a universally recognized movie genre but universal recognition is over-rated.

The movie genres used at the library system where I work are:
For the Youngest (Sesame Street)
Family (Toy Story, Big)
Comedy (That Thing You Do, Splash, Turner & Hooch, Money Pit)
Drama (Forrest Gump, Cast Away)
Action (Apollo 13, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan)
Suspense (Angels & Demons, Da Vinci Code)
Sci-fi (The Green Mile, City of Ember)
Horror (The 'burbs, Ladykillers, okay maybe not 'HORROR' but horrible for sure!)
Anime (Your guess is at least as good as mine, here....)
Special Interest (Concert for George, seriously go look it up. He plays one of the Mounties!)

I recently participated in an Intervention which took the form of a Tom Hanks marathon. A bit of deprogramming for the sake of the greater good, and in retrospect I have this to say:
Fuckin' Hanks, Baby!

Okay, way off track there.

Back to Snow Movies. Movies we seem drawn to around the holidays and through the winter months primarily because of serious snow seduction. (Not including out-right Christmas flicks.)

Here's my list:
  • Family Stone
  • Snowball Express
  • Grumpy Old Men

Barbie's Honorable Mentions:
  • New in Town
  • Mystery, Alaska
  • Day After Tomorrow
  • Dr. Zhivago
  • Bridget Jones
  • Cold Mountain

Also Groundhog Day and Snow Dogs (Yes, yes, I know. Shut up.)

I also love the snow scenes in the Harry Potter movies. I wish there were more.

And even though I don't want to hear about your edgy, horror snow favorites, I'll say it:
The Shining. I have erased all the dark disturbing stuff from my mental data banks but I do recall loving the snow.

Now, tell me your favorite SNOW Movies! This is important stuff, who knows what I might be missing?

12 December 2010

Here's the deal, if I had a magic wand...

...I'd wave it over those people who do not put up Christmas lights at Christmas time.

Not that I'd smite them or anything. I have no hard feelings or any ill-will. Live and let live is my motto, (or at least it was once a long time ago for about five minutes).

If you do not put Christmas lights up, that's fine. Suit yourself. But if I had a magic wand, I'd wave it over your Grinchy green head and make it so that you could not see the Christmas lights of others. None!

You would drive, as usual, along your regularly beaten path: To work, to the grocery store, to Walmart, to the strip club off you go, but each house you pass would be the same dark, unfriendly houses they are the other eleven months of the year. You would not get to leech Christmas Spirit from others.

If on the other mittened hand, you are not too cool to show some sweet, shiny, twinkly holiday cheer to anyone who happens down your Santa Claus lane then (and only then) you would get to fully soak up and enjoy all the Christmas lights of those generous souls around you.

This 'too cool' thing is driving me crazy and you'll be hearing from me on this again soon.

29 November 2010

Spin Potter: The rest of the story

This post is part TWO of Don't Make Eye Contact. (See previous post below.)

So I decided I could take "I'm going to see it again," in more than one way.

My first instinct was "Well, you're not going to go see it a second time if you HATED it." Right? Too much information already.

But I decided that this doesn't necessarily mean she loved it. It just means she probably didn't hate it. I can live with that. Look at me embracing ambiguity.

I choose to believe that she wasn't exactly sure what she thought of it. Close one.

I went to see HP and the DHs Part One last Sunday.

After an exclusive brunch of biscuits, granola parfaits, crab omelet, some form of potatoes and a mango Mimosa I went to see HP.

I tried to go in without expectation of any sort. I've read the book once. Listened to it, probably three or four times. Discussed the intricate plot twists and therapy inducing turns countless times.

As with all HP movies I knew it would, could never contain it all. There is no way to include every thing. It's too bad but it's true.

When I left the theater after about half of the credits, I wasn't sure how I felt. I realized that I may be in exactly the same boat as my friend at work. I may need to see it again to really know what I think, how I feel.

But you know me, I'm happy to tell you what I think until then.

I didn't hate it.

It felt like a lot to take in.

I was not overly distracted by the places where it deviates from the written version.

There were some scenes and portrayals that I loved.

And at least two scenes that caused eye-rolling and deep groaning.

But mostly I didn't hate it.

I know this might not sound like a rave, but don't be so sure. I was actually quite impressed with how loyal the script and the director seem to cling to the book. I'm grateful. It must be easy to warp and twist and morph and cave purely for the sake of ticket sales. I didn't see this. Good for you, millionaire movie maker types.

The movie is about magic folk but more than once I remember thinking, why aren't they 'magicking' that glass of water or chandelier bomb. But it was fleeting and not overly disappointing. Mildly, but not overly.

I like this movie. I think. I'll need to see it again to be sure. I want to take it in.

One thing is sure. In spite of the fact that it is filled with characters capable of magic, this movie is not magical. It just isn't.

But to be fair neither was

C of S,

P of A,

G of F,

O of the Ph

and H-B P.

They vary in their quality of story telling. Each movie. Their deviation from the books, or not. Their trueness to the characters, or not.

But the only one that was truly magical was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It will never be the same. HP virginity. Sorcerer's Stone.

The Dursley's, the Hogwart's Express, Hagrid's hut, Dumbledore's beard, the Griffindor commons room, the Quiddich field. It was never again, pure and untainted after SS.

That movie was magical in a way I've never felt before or since. And I'm not optimistic about the future.

Was this the way people felt when they first saw The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind?

Well wait a minute, I did go see Star Wars A New Hope seven times in the theater so maybe lightening does strike twice.

28 November 2010

Don't make eye contact!

HP Spoiler Alert!

Can I tell you that there is a traffic jam of topics going on in my head? It's bumper to bumper but no one is getting any where. And every vehicle is honking its horn.

The new Harry Potter came out about ten days ago. I knew I wouldn't go see it the first day. I don't think I've ever gone to see a 'big' movie on its first day.
The risk with said strategy and this HP movie was that I'd potentially hear something before I did go see it. I took precautions. Evasive maneuvers, as needed.

I wanted no preconceptions. None good and none bad. Each a curse in its own way.
You hear someone mention that they weren't crazy about a movie and you walk in skeptical, anticipating disappointment and probably about to get it.
You hear someone mention that they really like a movie and you walk in with expectations that might not be met.
I find this second curse worse than the first, if I have to choose.

I work for a library system. Harry Potter is big in Libraryland. There are a slew of followers in the building where I work. For the last ten days, I haven't been able to look them in the eye. I've actually put my hands up on either side of my face like the blinders on a horse as I walked past so I would see no irritation nor exaltation in their eyes.

Because people at work refused to wear signs indicating whether they've seen the new movie or not, I had to be pro-active.
"Have you seen it yet?" I call out at the first sight of someone heading toward me in the hall.
If the answer is 'No,' we're probably all good unless they decide that I need to hear what they've heard from their thirteen year old nephew. To which I avert my eyes and raise my hand, which is the Unofficial American Sign Language sign for Shut up about Harry Potter movie reviews! This was relatively effective.
If the answer is Yes, I go into sensory lock down. "Don't say anything!" I implore. "Not good or bad. Don't tell me. Don't look at me!" I hold my hands up to my face and shun their scowl of bewilderment. For the most part this was enough.

The last HP movie viewer I came across just before Thanksgiving holiday weekend is generally a nice person. I like her. I walked around the corner without my guard up, mind elsewhere, when I ran right into her.
"Hi Barbie."
"HAVE YOU SEEN IT?" A little panicked.
"Yes," she started.
I covered my face and quickened my pace as I begged:
She said "Okay, okay I won't say anything."
Whew, disaster averted.
And because I really do enjoy talking to her and am grateful for her respect of my wishes I tell her "By this time next week, I will probably have seen it. We'll talk about it then okay?"
"Okay," she chuckles. Then just when I think I'm in the clear she says "Plus I'm going to go see it again anyway."

What was it the Wicked Witch of the West said after she was hit with water......?
"I'm melting, melting. Melting."

18 November 2010

What is black, white and red all over?

My life is exhausting. This makes no sense on the surface.

I am not in a knitting club or a quilting circle.
I am not on endless committees at work, in the community or in church.

I'm not in a book club or taking a gourmet cooking class.
I work less than forty hours a week.

I am not back in school to finish my degree.
I do not volunteer at any local worthy cause. Unless you count dropping things off at Goodwill.

My children are grown, for the most part. They do not require nor desire constant supervision, intervention and/or personal commentary on my part.

I have no pets.
No discernible hobbies.

I am not addicted to such energy black holes as....
....exercise (whew, dodged a bullet there!),
....World of Warcrap or any other MMORPGeewhizwheredidthelastyeargo games,
or preposterous, holy-shit-get-a-life reality television shows like Dancing With the Has-Beens.

(You'll notice that Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter and dark chocolate are not on the above list of what I'm not addicted to, but try to keep in mind that we aren't talking about what is not on that list. We, and I use this term loosely, are focused exclusively on the points that support my pulpit here.)

I am quite clearly not busy writing blogs all the time. (Although I might be addicted to starting new blogs...but probably not.)

I do not travel; I rarely vacation.
I do not go to plays or the symphony.
I don't club hop nor clutter hoard.

As much as I'm enjoying the compilation of things that are not sucking my time into the great unknown, my point here is that my life is exhausting. And it makes no sense on the surface.

Without all of the above distractions, addictions, compulsions, recreational activities and bona fide past times, how can I be exhausted every single day?

I wake up exhausted.
I climb out of bed already overwhelmed and defeated.
I feel this heaviness in my bones but I look around my life and daily existence for evidence of being over committed or like Bilbo Baggins "sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread" but it does not add up.

I'm not talking about a physical fatigue, although there is that. This exhaustion is emotional, spiritual and from somewhere within. The origin of which cannot be seen with the naked eye but I am still pretty sure I know what it is.

I am not living my right life. That's the cause.

I know this. It's one of those 'truth' things. I am just not. This is not my right life. I sure of this. I've sensed it for a good long period of time; yet it is still the case. What the hell is that?

There is no organic, genuine life energy in living the wrong life. Instead there is manufactured, artificially salved, forced and phony social energy and facade that we produce because it's expected of us in public, but it's a forgery of our true heart and love and intuition. And it is exhausting.

Are you life weary?

The wrong life is always going to be a bad fit. We may learn to live with it but we'll know somewhere inside, no matter how much practice we've had ignoring it. The wrong life requires constant tugging and twisting and readjusting like a pair of jeans two sizes too small.

If we insist on hanging onto our wrong life with both hands, for whatever well-intended and oft-rehearsed reason we might cling to about what a 'good' person does, who a good parent is, what 'successful' looks like, we will only struggle and scramble and squirm and waste away.

In a backward attempt to fill the empty cracks of our wrong life, we'll smoke, shop, drink, consume and participate in any other superficially soothing and instantly gratifying activity sold to us on the web and cable television as attractive and admirable. And often we hold up our wrong life as some sort of honorable self sacrifice for the sake of those close to us: kids, parents, toy poodles.

But when we throw the pursuit of our right life under the bus in martyrdom for the sake of others, everyone and everything suffers.

A little preachy today, huh? It's okay. Some of my very favorite people on the planet may read this and feel stabbed but I'm really just talking to me.

My life doesn't fit and I'm getting so tired of trying to MAKE it work.

There, I've said it.

So what is black, white and red all over?
My clothes closet.

As much as I hate it, I had to go shopping recently because I was frankly running out of things to wear and the weather was turning COLD. So in the store, I walked around searching, scoping, scooping and gathering an arm load of clothes to take with me into the dressing room when I looked down at the pile I carried and realized it was all black, white or red. ALL. Solid or patterned. But all black, white and red. An image of the clothes I already had in the closet at home flashed across the screen of my mind and I knew...quite clearly, I'm in a fashion rut.
So to step out of my comfort zone, I bought a skirt that was not black, white or red.

It's beige.

Step back!

19 September 2010

Stop . . . with the finger crossing!

Wanna hear a theory? Well as it happens, you've come to the right place. (No wait! Stay, please...)

I think if you are dreading something, afraid that someone might be pissed off at you for this or that, worried that you are going to have to explain your involvement in that or this, if you are concerned someone is going to find out about... what ever....head them off. Be proactive.

Run straight at it, face first, shoulders square.

Handle it. Instead of hiding under a rock until it appears as if the coast is clear, face it. Admit your dread. Your concern, your worry or speculation.

Celebrate the part of you that feels crummy after you've done something crummy. This is an important part of our evolution. Would you really want to be the kind of person who has no feelings of remorse or regret when you've blown it?

If you forgot to call your best friend on her 30th birthday, just pick up the phone and say "Hey can you believe what an idiot I am? I completely missed your birthday. Let me make it up to you in Prime Rib and Merlot."

If you're afraid someone might be pissed at you because you were thoughtless, selfish, neglectful, careless. Admit it, straight up.

It sounds like this: "Oh my gosh, I was so thoughtless." "...selfish" "...neglectful." "...careless." Period. It's the truth isn't it? Own up.

Don't wait to be called on your bad behaviour. There is no honor is waiting to see if you are going to have to be held accountable.

Here's an idea: Hold yourself accountable, Nimrod. Stand the fuck up. Own your successes as well as the lessons you learn.

Or as I heard in a movie just recently, 'Slobber up!'

Don't lie low, crossing your fingers hoping no one noticed your blunder. Cowering.....biting you nails.

Just say, "Geez, did you see what I just did? Can you believe that? I'm sorry."

Let your friend know you put a scratch in her car when you borrowed it; don't just hope against hope that she won't see it or that maybe she'll think it was someone else. Stop it, this is a bad idea. The dread will live within you, chewing, gnawing and gnashing on your peace of mind.

Seriously. This dynamic can really kick-in, in marriage and in men, in my experience. I speculate that men are not wired to face up to their mis-steps if there is a chance in a million that it might go unnoticed and they will therefore not have to account for themselves. If there is a single snowflake's chance in Hell, he'll hang on for dear life.

"If I don't mention it, maybe she won't notice that I forgot to pick up her mother at the airport."


I'm not Catholic but I do believe confession is good for the soul. Although screw that confessing to a third party thing! Honestly, what? "Forgive me, Father?" Forget that garbage. "Forgive me, Friend," is much more like it.

Confess to the actual 'injured' person for goodness sake. For the sake of goodness. Admit your fallibility, your imperfections. Even if you're not sure they know they were injured. Whether they noticed or not, whether they're pissed or not, whether they are ever going to bring this up to you OR NOT is beside the point.

If you feel lousy about something, that's enough. That is the point. Clean up your mess and drop the act! Crossing you fingers, wishing, wishing, wishing, hoping, hoping, hoping....chanting to yourself, "please don't be pissed at me and bring it up and make me talk about it, please, please, please...." Avoidance sucks. Plus it's gigantically unattractive.

Embrace, celebrate your imperfections. Damn it. Embrace embarrassment and honesty. Embrace your vulnerability. Show off your bewilderment. Who do you think you're fooling? We are all frauds. Just be your goofy, stupid self and cut the crap. Isn't it simply exhausting working so hard to maintain your 'too cool, edgy image?' I know I'm exhausted just watching you.

It's such a relief to lay it all out.

Speak the truth prior to the possible confrontation you're terrified will happen anyway.

Then just breathe deep, enjoy the release.

Let it out before you're called out.

Stand up. Speak up. Lighten up.

You'll sleep so much better.

13 July 2010

What Movies Would You Rewrite

One of my favorite movies is Something's Gotta Give. But it's one of my favorites in spite of itself.

I love Diane Keaton's character, Erica Barry. She's a writer, plays specifically. She owns a beautiful secluded beach house. She listens to French music as she writes alone in her home. Her daughter is grown, happy (ish) and self-sufficient. Erica is happy with her life exactly the way it is and it radiates from her face and her white turtle neck sweaters. A handsome, much younger (easily twenty years) man is drawn to her confident, peaceful energy and pursues her. She's a great character. It's a great movie, EXCEPT for the Jack Nicholson fly in the Cabernet sauvignon.

It isn't actually Jack that I am opposed to, but the asshole character he plays: Harry Sanborn.

I am not ageist. It isn't Harry's age (63) that disturbs my movie peace here. This man is simply an ass. From the first moment he appears. And even though he has one act that could possibly be construed as redeeming near the end, it just isn't enough to make up for all that leads up to that. And for who we know this man really is at his core. An ass.

I'm the kind of person who watches her favorite movies over and over again. Proudly: Cannery Row. Out of Africa. Full Monty. Julie and Julia. The Family Stone. Pride and Prejudice. Big. Chocolat. Miss Potter. Cold Mountain. Ocean's Eleven. That Thing You Do. The list continues...

So I've seen Something's Gotta Give probably two dozen times over the years. And every time, I wish it would go differently than it does.

I'd say that it's the ending I'd change but this feeling comes over me much sooner than the end. This younger man, Dr. Julian Mercer (played by Keanu Reeves) is the man in this movie. The man who appreciates who Erica is, what's important to her. Who clearly sees her amazing inner and outer beauty. He is handsome and attentive. He feels lucky to be with her, for the far too few scenes that he is actually with her. This type of male portrayal in movies today is far and away the exception. (Although Stanley Tucci as Paul Child in Julie and Julia is another rare example.)

Now before you accuse me of just preferring the prettier packaging that Keanu Reeves brings to the table, I'll tell you Keanu is not my type physically. He's too clean cut for me and there's something so intense in his gaze that I don't think I could look him straight in the eyes for more than a second, if he did happened to be standing here before me. But you know, I'd give it my best shot. I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings or anything.

But instead the writers of this movie put her with the schmuck, asshole, bastard character because we are supposed to believe that he's changed. As if that EVER happens.

In my version of this movie, Erica writes the play that is based on Harry and his bad behaviour. She makes millions of dollars on ticket sales. She has an amazing magical relationship with Julian (who lives a few doors down from her beach house), Harry shows up in Paris for her birthday and attempts to win her back but fails. Because frankly, Harry you had your chance and you were too stupid to see what a great thing you had. Sorry. Erica and Julian go back to their suite overlooking the lights of a snowy Paris night, and have crazy, "Harry who?" sex all night long.

The End....closing credits roll.

Honorable mention: I also I love Frances McDormand as her sister, Zoe. I think she's incredibly sexy in each of her scenes and wish she had more.

I would also change the movie Cold Mountain but that's another blog post.

23 May 2010


In the image below, notice the tall white book just off center. The title of this book is Celebrating Ciara. I wrote this book. 300 pages. My youngest child and only daughter, Ciara, turned eighteen February 2009 and was scheduled to graduate June 2009. Aaron, who had written and constructed by hand three wonderful, personal books for his parents and his best friend, suggested that if I wrote my daughter a book for this momentous year, that he would generously assemble and construct it for me.

This (in red) is the table of contents. And below (in purple) is the introductory chapter.


Bon Appétit 2

1991 B.C. (Before Ciara) 8

Would You Like Fries With That? 20

Fine Print 34

Scarlett 38

Shopping: the Thrillogy 58
I Say No to Crack 60
II Westport 68
III Yours, Mine & Ours 74
IV Store That Must Not Be Named 78
V To Infinity & the Mall 80
VI Shopping: the Sequel 88

Pinned His Man 92

Play House 98

Mishy 110

School 118

Two Holes for Sister Ciara 144

Snowball Fight 148

The Three Bears 156

The Ciara Difference 160

Sleep Tight 180

The Gift & the Giver 186

Stop the Car! There’s a Yard Sale 198

Uncommon Sense 218

Hand, Heart, Hands & Health 226

Me Too, Mom! 234

She’s Got Electric Boots, a Mohair Suit 244

Cameron Who? 254

Mom’s Pride & Prejudice 258

On Your Way to Where the Air is Sweet 270

Fly Me to the Moon 288

Inside the Ciara Studio 294

Perfect Timing 298


Chapter One


Bon Appétit!

You know, I love you so much I’m gonna let you take the first bite.
~ Julie and Julia

Sometime in February 2009, a few months before Ciara’s graduation I started thinking of whether I should do this project. Whether I would and then whether I could.

Cooking is one of the best analogies I know for the process of writing. At least for my writing. An idea will come into my head from one source or another. It may be an idea for fiction or non-fiction. The start of a short story or the beginning of something epic and grand. The idea then simmers in my mind. It congeals and thickens. The different characters and settings blend and mingle like ingredients until I’m ready to commit to paper, actual or virtual.

In a collection such as these Ciara stories, the cooking analogy holds up well. I’ll dish up one or two completed stories and set them aside until every plate is done and it’s time to stand back and say with a flourish, “Dinner is served.”

When I started this project, so many stories came to mind. Sweet, funny, spicy, touching, personal stories. So many, that I knew there would probably be some I would decide not to use.

Now as I see the light at the end of this tunnel, I look back and notice something interesting. The stories? They are almost all about a young Ciara. Understandable, since it is not possible to go wrong with such a sweet, funny and charming young daughter. Understandable also, because the Ciara life stories from recent years may be too recent to step back from and write about in a fair and relatively objective manner. You know me; I’m nothing if not running in the opposite direction of relative objectivity.

In the end, there are many Ciara stories that aren’t in this collection. For reasons unknown to me or anyone else, the table of contents reads exactly as it does. I trust that the stories that need to be here for the purpose of this book are indeed here.

To be fair, the impetus for this collection of stories was Ciara’s approaching graduation. The intent: a unique commencement day gift. But a few times in the months leading up to June 11, 2009 I was concerned if she would even be able to graduate.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I explained to people what a tough Spring it was for her. How much time she missed because of mononucleosis and then pneumonia. How determined she had to be in order to graduate. How much pressure she was under.

After graduation was over, I reminded her of how she had missed an entire month of school and she still graduated. That there were plenty of students who attended most every day of their senior year and sadly, still didn’t get to walk with their classmates.

But it wasn’t only Ciara who felt the pressure of the once in a lifetime, high school graduation dead line. Taking care of Ciara when she was home sick, or in the hospital sick. Helping her when she struggled with school nurses, counselors, teachers, advisers. Trying not to miss too much work myself. And typing away on her story collection with commencement drawing near was tough on me as well. My writing momentum suffers under the best of circumstances and these were nothing like the best of circumstances.

I found it very easy to decide that I could still call it a graduation gift as long as I delivered this book to her anytime in 2009. It was her official graduation year, after all. Then when I hit another brick wall of writing energy in late July and it took me until November to find my way to the other side, I thought “You know, as long as I give it to her before she turns thirty, I’m all good.”

Well she’s still eighteen at this writing, so I am calling it a success and bona fide graduation gift. Yippee for me, the gift giver. And Whoo Hoo for Ciara, the diploma holder.

Nice job, Ciara. 2009. A most memorable year. I feel like singing.

“Did you ever know that you’re my heroooooooo….?”

Dinner is served.



Aaron constructed four copies of this book for me. He took this picture of Ciara's book after he slid it for a quick moment on the shelf of a local book store. A real book, all grown up and standing proud next to its equals.

15 May 2010

Who's Driving that Bulldozer?

I've said this before at the beginning of a few previous posts, but it feels fair to tell you: I've got an edge on.

This will probably end up being a good thing, considering the direction I foresee this blog post going.

There's a gulf between my heart and my head. An Aaron-shaped gulf.

If you haven't read the post just previous to this one, go read it now. Seriously. (You would never watch Ghostbusters II without first seeing Ghostbusters, would you?) I'll see you back here when you've finished. Take your time but do not underestimate said ‘edge.’

Okay, all that (the previous post) being said, here's the other thing: I don't like it.

I get it. I follow it.

I admire it. I explain it to others.

I read about it. I advocate for it.

I serve as Danger Jim news reporter for it.

I got to know the REI staff so well that I think I may now be Godparent to one of their children.

I Google Map for it. (You don't think so? I can Google Map your ass with one hand tied behind my back!)

I fully support it (with the possible exception of what you're about to read if you stick around here long enough and my occasionally referring to it as the Bullshit Expedition, I fully support it).

Even so.... I Don't LIKE It. I don’t, I don’t. (You can’t see this, but my feet are taking turns stamping the floor.)

Intellectually, I get Aaron’s trip. I am the leader of the cult for it!
In fact, truth be told, I probably started this line of thinking. The 'follow your heart' thing, the concept of us all being here for divine purpose, magical dreams and passions was probably first taken seriously by Aaron only after I spoke of it a few dozen times on our first date. You can ask him if this is an accurate statement or not.
It may take him a couple of years to get back to you; he's a little tied up right now.

Can you sense the edge from the aforementioned verse?

Until the past week or two, this blog space, My Scarlet Letters has been somewhat vague regarding the personal details of my private life. I have referred to previous relationships (good and/or bad) in a general manner. I have spoken of my work place in a relatively broad-spectrum way. I've mentioned my children briefly and in a peripheral fashion.

That probably won't be the case any longer. Things are about to get more specific.

The man in my life has made a major life change that is having dramatic effects on my own.

Aaron has decided to walk across America. He plans to hit all 50 states. At one point, it was his estimate that this could take two years or more.

Isn't this crazy? Outlandish? Kind of exciting to contemplate the adventure involved?
I love that the man I love thinks like this.
That he believes in the possibility of such things.
That one day it occurs to him that it would be amazing to take a walking trip across the country, so he starts figuring out the best way to make it happen. How cool is that?

Haven't we all had those over the rainbow fantasies for a few seconds? "Wouldn't it be cool to motorcycle across Europe?” "Swim the English Channel?” "Ride every roller coaster in North America?” "Start my own restaurant?” "Kayak up the Canadian coast to Alaska?” "Make balloon animals at the circus?"

Yes, I love that he thinks this way, but I do not like him actually doing it. This dichotomy pisses me off. I hate this intersecting energy. What does it mean when the dream of one half of a couple is at direct cross purposes with the couple itself? At least it seems like cross purposes to this half of the couple. The one left behind, in my self-pitying state. So attractive, self pity. Now, I’m pissed and unattractive. Win-win.

Aaron claims to believe that this trip will make us better, stronger. Better and stronger, I’ve always felt such improvements overrated. Like upgrading to the fully loaded car. Who needs all that extra chrome to polish and buttons to memorize? Does this imply that we are currently or were a couple of weeks ago, an ordinary or mediocre pair? The basic package, stocked with only the factory’s minimal features. Beige with manual windows. Yes, yes, I’m being whiny and melodramatic, totally allowed when sporting an edge.

I don’t like it.

The problem is, I get his point. About us. That there’s opportunity as a couple to support each other, me supporting Aaron on his endeavor and Aaron supporting me remaining here. It has to be a two-way street. Don’t think we haven’t had this discussion dozens of times. Just know that in my mind this two-way street is four lanes across, with three of these being Express lanes headed back in my direction. That feels fair, no?

Can you feel my struggle? I’m torn. I don't like it.

Can we pick our dreams? Our destiny? Or does it come with our DNA, like the dictating of our shoe size or our preference for dark as opposed to milk chocolate?

I feel like a bully. I preach for the support and understanding of following one’s bliss until I find this one inconvenient or annoying? Like John Horseface Elway portraying his dream to play in the National Football League, but then throwing a spoiled baby fit because he was drafted by the Colts. Oh, John, the indignity of it all. “No, I won’t do it. You’re not the boss of me. I don’t like it! You can’t make me play for the Colts.”

I suspect, but I'm not sure, that if I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Aaron, this, for me, is a deal breaker. I can't do it. I won't support you in this. If you decided to leave for this trip, we are all done," he might decide to come back. I think so, maybe. Probably? I don't know for sure. But can you imagine the strain that would put on our relationship? My having unconditionally declaring my refusal to participate in his dream? (Reminds me of another unilateral decision I know....hmmm.) Even if he stayed here with me 'willingly' after such a declaration, I don't think we'd ever be the same. Or that he'd ever be the same. He would, from then on, always think of himself as a man who let someone else call his shots. How would he not resent me? Or worse, himself? How could he not feel controlled and manipulated by the will of another?

So I didn't say it. I didn't say “Don’t go.” “DON’T GO!” I never really wanted to say such a thing. Honestly. Plus there's the little matter of the fact that I so believe in what he's doing. I just don't like it.

Some one speculated that this will be really hard for me waiting but that Aaron would be here with me in spirit. To that I say, "Well, then let Aaron take the trip in spirit and the rest of him can just stay here with me."

The 'rock' I mentioned in the previous post is my belief. It’s a boulder. My belief in the magic of following that inner voice. Honoring your bliss. Your deepest desires. (I believe we come to this planet with our desires because we are MEANT to fulfill them!) This feels solid, organic and unmoving.

The 'blade of the oncoming bulldozer' is the side of me who wants to pitch a fucking fit. The smaller, isolated, narrow-thinking, selfish bitch side that wants Aaron here with me. She hasn't really seen the full light of day in a couple of years but I suspect she'll be just a strong as in years past, if I let her get her steel toed boots in the door. She’s a bulldozer driving bitch under the influence of Bellatore.

My head knows that "Life is too short to put off your dream."
My heart retorts that "Life is also too short to be apart for such a long period of time."

This is the most amazing romantic relationship I've ever known and now half of it is walking along the Columbia River for the unforeseeable future.

"I don't like it," she cried.

I'm really good at all the other stuff. The stuff above: supporting, admiring, following, news reporting, Google mapping. Really good. Ask Aaron, he'll tell you.

What I'm not so good at is the 'not liking it' part. I feel good when I rally for Aaron. It feels right and good and healthy for us. For Aaron. For me.
But the 'not liking it' feels terrible. It feels small and sad. I feel small and sad. I feel alone and broken.
Unsure of my ability to weather this adventure.

When I started this post I was mad. Now I'm just sad.

Oh well, I have to go no. I get to go see ‘Annabel’s’ latest post and read all of the comments. If I can elbow my way between all of my fellow followers. Oops, right back to mad, I guess.

11 May 2010

I do! I do! I do!

I find myself between a rock and the proverbial blade of an oncoming bulldozer. (This is called foreshadowing.)

Here's the deal:
I believe in magic. I do. Period.

I believe in following your bliss, tapping into your destiny, unleashing your purpose. I do. I believe.

I've spoken of it here before. "Could the court reporter, please read back the transcripts?"
I'll even go so far as to say that I believe with all my heart that we are all here for a reason. I mean a specific, custom-made, unique and individualized purpose. Each and every one of us. And I'm not talking about being here to shove someone out of the way of an oncoming bus one day on the way to work. I mean the way we are to spend our life's energy during our time on the planet. What we are to do with the life we are given. 'Given,' as in gift.

THE thing we would do endlessly even if no one ever paid us to do it.

Painting, dancing, teaching, cooking, photography, supporting, writing, singing, martial arts, acting, skating, nursing, sculpting, walking, cartoon drawing. The possibilities are without end. I believe this is so.

I know that I know that I know. . . . that there is something for which each one of us is here. What would you do with all of your spare time if money weren't an issue and you knew you could not fail? If nothing were too crazy or outlandish?

I don't care if it's kite building, mushroom hunting, pinball repair, bowling pin painting, chimney designing, restaurant reviewing, cave exploring, travel writing, professional book reader, classic movie critic, gourd painter, clam digger, french fry taster, glass blower, furniture re-arranger, thrift store shopper, ice cream flavor inventor, hat knitter, room service mystery shopper, truffle chef, Ghostbuster quote memorizer. Underwater basket weaving, which is a class I actually took in high school.

There's something that revives your spirit. Something that stirs your blood. I believe there is something that each one of us could do endlessly because it would never rob us of energy but instead refill our tanks.

I took a class at PLU many years ago; it was for adults returning to school. The objective was writing a portfolio of 'learning essays' to make a case for college credit we believed we should earn for our life experience.
The evening of the third class, we were to narrow our desired field of study within which the academic panel would later 'judge' our portfolio. So if you felt most of your life experience that might be deemed worthy of college credit had been in the field of computers (laid off Microsoft employee) or aero-dynamics (Boeing), this is what you would declare.
During a class break that night, I was walking down the stairs with one of the instructors as we were talking about my indecision.
The practical, responsible, left brain side of me knew I should aim for a major in business. I have always had a clear sense of systems. Like organizational systems for offices. Layout design, work flow, filing, furniture arrangement, processing. What works and what doesn't. What helps and what doesn't. It comes quite naturally to me even though I've really had no desire to work in or run any type of office.
The dreamy, giggly, happy-feet, right brain side of me dared to hope that maybe, possibly, pretty please, I could be a writer someday. To tell stories that people would love to read. Pay to read. That people would ask for more of.
I knew the stable, secure decision was a business degree of some type. This was the grown up, smart, pragmatic choice. Sensible, prudent, judicious. (Try saying such words as these with a big fat grin on your face.)
As we descended the stairs to the vending machines, juggling the possibilities of business or potential bestseller-hood, Marie stopped at the landing between floors and looked at me. "Which one would you LOVE to do?" she asked.
"Writing." Without hesitation and with a little chill up my spine. "Writing." Like this was the stupidest question ever asked. Writing, what else? WRITING. This was a moment for me. I haven't for one second considered a career in business since that moment. (Thank you Marie! God bless you.)

Somehow, somewhere along the line we got sucked into the 'collective dream' concept. The collective American dream. Was this some Ozzie and Harriet episode that ran away with our senses? Was there a subliminal message fed to us via Gilligan's Island or The Wonderful World of Disney? Who on earth decided that the ultimate dream is universal in practical terms: family, home, college education, money, 401K, nice car. Like there is something inherently wrong with us if we opt out of one or all parts of this dream. Is there something sinister in the drinking water?

It may be that your heart longs for children. Something you've always known. Your soul's desire. A deep knowing that you were meant to have children. Great! I celebrate your dream, your passion, your calling. But to suggest that this should be the dream for one and all, is ludicrous. I want to know, "Says who?" Our ancestors? Our neighbors? The fucking television? Because writing is my dream, I should assume and push it on those around me? How arrogant would that be of me?

It feels crazy to me that we are all so much alike that success would be defined for us all by one set of standards. This seems like a recipe for misery. And I think if we look around us in this society we can easily spot a good deal of misery. Or the alcohol in attempt to numb the misery.

For how many of us is a healthy retirement account, the ultimate dream? That if you could do anything with your time, and you'd do it for no pay, it would be to build a retirement fund?

I don't think so. What are you building the retirement fund for? What will you be so happy and relieved to do with your spare time when and if you get to retirement? Travel? Garden? Chainsaw wood carvings?
So your dream isn't really the retirement account, it's the wood carving. Why wait? What if you don't get to that arbitrary age of retirement or independent wealth? Start something today, right now. Even if it's just five minutes of classic car restoration a day to begin. Even if it just starts with some research online. Start. Period.
We are all going to spend, use up twenty four hours today. This does not seem negotiable. By this time tomorrow, twenty four hours will have passed whether you've spent it trudging through another day of a job you can barely stand or begin to indulge your soul in some dream fulfillment.
Isn't this why we need to zone out at the end of the day? In front of the TV, the computer, the video game or the bar? To unwind and get over the fact that we spent another day doing something we hate? Or at least that we certainly do not LOVE? Aren't these activities poor substitutes for finding and pursuing our passion?
You know the truth. You've heard it before. No one ever gets to their death bed and utters 'I wish I'd spent more time at the office, on the job, at work.' (Unless of course you are one of the fortunate few who discovered and HONORED their passion for a living.)
I know what your responsible, adult, left brain is yelling at me right now:
"But you have to make a living. You need money to buy that chainsaw."
"Top of the line clown shoes do not just grow on trees, there Missy!"

But I really believe and I do not think you can prove me wrong, when I say that if you let go,let go with both hands, magic will happen. It cannot help but happen. Like the irrefutable math formula. It just is.
Follow your bliss and the magic will happen. The money will follow. The universe will rise up and support you somehow. Probably in a way your left brain could never have imagined. It's when we try to keep a fist in both worlds that it falls apart.
Do you think the man who runs his own hot air balloon service in Juneau Alaska went for the practical choice? I think it's safe to say Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Dale Chihuly, JK Rowling, Charles Schulz all let go of the responsible, prudent path at one time or another. And maybe again and again.
Excerpt from an interview:
BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
For more on Joseph Campbell and Follow Your Bliss: http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=31

I do not believe any force in the universe would put us here with a profound desire unless we were meant to fulfill it. Unless it was prepared to support us in this dream.

I believe. I do, I do, I do.

If you truly honor and follow your heart's dream, how can you possibly be a failure?

What activity in your life lifts you up? What gives you more energy the more you do it? What do you hate having to stop doing?

What something have you secretly dreamed about, what are you afraid to utter aloud? Would it be ballroom dancing? To tour all the great roller coasters of the world? To live in a cottage by the shore? To travel the globe in search of the best cannoli? Be a professional cribbage player? Caretaker in a National Park? A race car mechanic? Driver? Deep sea diver?

We are raised to believe that we are responsible for our lives.
But I believe we are responsible to our lives. To exist is a gift. How can we best show our gratitude for such a priceless opportunity? In fact, isn't it the only way to truly express our thanks. If we waste the time in life working our ass off for the reasonable, rational 'goals' that others tell us we should pursue, shame on us. Shame on you. Shame on me!

It's very late at night and this post will have to be continued soon. Don't forget where we left off.... I need to get back to that bulldozer thing.

Can I tell you that this blog post is nothing like I'd planned?

Well, I just did and it's true. I came here to vent and sort out my difficulties and mixed emotions about Aaron leaving for his walking trip across America. Or what we've affectionately come to call his "Bullshit Expedition." (Unconditional affection at work.) But look at the post that happened instead. Funny how these things work out, huh?

04 May 2010

Afraid to start

I keep putting this post off. Off. OFF.
I am not sure I can do it.
When ever I start to write here, or even think of how to start,
my chest gets tight and I can't get good air.
I need to write about Aaron.
Not in the 'oh mom, do I have to do the dishes' kind of 'need to.'
But in the "I'll go crazy if I don't do this" need to.
I can't not.
The thing is, there is so much to say and I feel so very strongly about every single bit of it,
I just can't.
My throat is tight just typing about it.
There is so much.
I keep dancing around it but never look at it head on.
Without all the details I should be giving you here first, I'll say this much...
Today was my first day back at work since he left.
And it was FAR harder than I would have guessed.
When someone comes up to me and asks, "Barbie, how's Aaron doing?"
I am fine. I can talk and smile and function fairly well.
When someone comes up to me and asks, "Barbie, how are you doing since Aaron left?"
I can't speak. I can't breathe. I can't even look into their face.
Excuse me, I need to go find a tissue and a drink.

15 April 2010

Acting on Impulse

I love that you've checked in on me here. That you're a reader. Thank you.

I have a new blog. I'd really like you to go take a look. Please be sure and start from the bottom: April 13, 2010, then work your way up. It's different and it's specific. It's purpose is deliberate and will prove itself or not. We'll see.


Feels like I've been treading water in the same place for so long now, maybe this other blog journey will be the current I'm meant to catch and float away on.

I hope to post three or four days a week at this other site, so myscarletletters may continue to be sporadic. Please keep checking in on me here. Often.

I hope you'll read Less is Bliss and let me know what you think......see you soon. Love you!

01 April 2010

Solve for X and Why

I was born without the Relief gene.

The capacity to fully feel relief eludes me.

I noticed this phenomenon years ago. I experienced a couple of notable personal accomplishments with which I had struggled for an obnoxiously long time and then indeed managed to fully accomplish. "Whew!" Right?

No, instead of feeling that whole body rush of “Holy Shit! I’m done. I did it!” that I anticipated, I felt nothing. Nothing. Flat. Without emotion of any sort. Why is that?

I went back to college in 2000/2001. I did the Barbie-predictable thing; I took the classes I dreaded most, first. Math classes. Two of them. They were both lab classes so I was riding completely on my own motivation. Yikes.

I did not look forward to the math classes. Although I am pretty good at math, there is no joy in it for me. Okay, there might have been a little tiny bit of joy in it for me. Well there it is, I said it. I get math joy sometimes. So what?!

The thing that gives me a little shiver about math is: either you’re right and it’s done.
Or you’re not and you’re not. There is a peaceful place at the end of every correctly worked math problem for me.

I struggled with those two classes. They were set up so you work at your own pace. There were some weeks when my pace could have only been captured by time-lapsed photography. And aside from those regular weeks, it was an especially intense and eventful year.

  • In February 2001, our latest, local earthquake occurred as I sat in that class. Or more accurately, stood at the teacher’s desk begging for help. (This was just prior to the campus being evacuated and me sprinting to my car and driving QUICKLY to get to my kids. They were about forty minutes away and intellectually I knew they were okay, but I’ve never felt so far away from anyone in my life. Before or since.) And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
  • In June of 2001, my son and I were rear ended and pushed into the car ahead of us. Totaled our burgundy, angular Buick La Sabre. (The saddest part of that day was having to down-grade to a stupid, 4-cylinder Pontiac Grand Am. I hated, hated, hated that car!) Both small but stressful traumas.
  • Then September 11, 2001. It was such an emotional year.

I plugged away at math through out. I worked hard adding, subtracting and other fancy math stuff. Near the end, I could taste the relief ahead. I fantasized nightly about it. I planned a little personal celebration purchase. Something to commemorate.

After the final test, I picked out some pretty hippy dippy dangly pink earrings at a local Crafter’s Mall. I knew I’d think of my accomplishment every time I wore them.

I still have them but now when I look at them, their color seems dingy with negative association.

The wash of relief I longed for, I worked hard for. I trudged through quadratic equations and stupid story problems where people riding trains were headed straight at each other for that anticipated joy. But it never, ever came.

I knew what it should have felt like, what it was supposed to feel like. Intellectually I knew, but emotionally, nothing. I had worked so hard. I was robbed. Who do I talk to about that?

It wasn’t like other things in my life where I'd had the clear sense that I was repressing something and not allowing myself to feel. No, this time I stood still and looked all around. Inside and out. Under stuff. Nothing. The relief was no where to be found.

I don’t wear those earrings often. The memory of non-relief comes flooding back. The flat void of lack. Absence. Disappointment.

I’d noticed it before those math classes and I’ve recognized it many times since. Over time, it's worn me down and I’ve come to allow that it's just the way it is. Some people are born with the capacity to feel the genuine joy of relief and I’m not. When I finish some momentous task that has weighed me down for a prolonged time, I simply move on to the next thing under which I am to be weighed down. I just get dressed in the stress of whatever is next up on the list. Isn't this a terrible system? Man!

I hate when I start a blog post thinking there is going to be some lighthearted, humorous slant to enjoy in the words to come but instead it morphs into a "Look Mom, the brakes must be out in that dump truck that's flying uncontrollably down the curvy mountain road and headed straight for that small woman waving her hands because the bridge is out over the wild river below!" slant instead.

Do you think feeling relief can be a learned behaviour? Do you think spelling some words with an unnecessary 'u' makes me cool?

21 February 2010

In the Beginning....

I'm having a difficult time posting. There's a sharp edge to my attitude today and I don't particularly feel like spewing bitter venom in the general direction of the select and special people who might read here. On the other hand, maybe I do. Who cares.

Maybe if I go meditate before I type any more . . . let's see.

I turned in all my library books today. Almost all. A boycott of sorts. But not of the library. Of the books themselves.

It is so odd that I've worked at the library for over five years now and I've never read less. Well before I learned to read, I probably read less, but not by much.

I check out more than my share of material. I just never read any of it. Or hardly any. I wonder why this is so.

Before I came to work here, the distinction of 'books I never got around to reading' fell only to those I'd buy. I was a rabid library user. We always had piles and piles of library books, movies and Cd's around the house. When I came across a library book I adored and simply had to own, I'd go to my local book store and buy it. But then never read it again, or never even finish it the first time. There was some thing about knowing it would always be there, that book I bought. No hurry reading it because it had no due date. The piles and piles of library material, on the other hand, had to be returned one day, so there was more urgency to get them read. Therefore, read I did, while the books I paid good money for stood silent on my book shelf, collecting cobwebs and inferiority complexes.

My mind is pretty sharp. Can't slip anything past me. It knew the difference between something I hold for a limited period of time, and something I hold for 'like' infinity.

Then I went to work at the library and my head still knows the difference. It knows that the library is a virtual extension of my own book shelves. I can pretty much get my hands on them whenever I want to. (Assuming we own them to begin with and that they haven't been stolen or 'weeded' away.) So there's no hurry getting them read. No urgency, once again.

Why does my head need some kind of deadline or boundaries before it will jump into action? This confounds me. And frankly, pisses me off.

Another question I have, seemingly unrelated in nature: Why share?

Close your eyes and think back with me....high school, college....remember when someone passed a joint in your direction? Or some other form of some other form of a mind altering substance? That shit was not cheap on a broke college student's budget. Why was every one so eager to share? And if you were not inclined to participate, instead of looking at it as 'more for me,' why would people give you a hard time for not taking part? Suspecting all along that it wasn't genuine generosity, I always thought it was because it made them feel like whatever they were doing must be okay if we are all doing it together. (Boy, that was a bumpy sentence....) That there was a silent social reassurance when people joined in. This is not a judgement on one substance or the next, but there must have been some sub (or even straight up) conscious guilt wafting around the van with the smoke curls. (Is that conscious or conscience?)

If someone declined said invitation, it was an indictment of some sort, on the activity or the user himself. I was known to decline on occasion and I always wondered why people took it so personally.

Now, fast forward three kids, a long marriage and a grandson. Why do I feel the need to share? I'll read a book I find interesting, intriguing or, God Forbid, edgy and the next thing I know, I'm recommending it to someone. This goes for music, movies, restaurants. Why is it important to me that people partake in and approve of the same social, recreational activities as I do? Do I receive my validation this way? I must be okay, if every one I love most is also watching Frasier and listening to The Beatles? Reading Martha Beck or eating at Gasperetti's? Do I judge my friends by how similar their preferences are to my own? Can't I just have my own favorites and leave it at that? Why do we care? Or is it just me?


I recently recommended some reading/listening material to some one I love and then later was sorry because it just wasn't for him. It was an energy drain on his enthusiasm. His natural optimism. Which begs the age old question, what the fuck? (Remember that edgy attitude I mentioned earlier.....) I admit I found the (library) material in question, intriguing, thought-provoking. Even conversation inducing, but they was by no means anything special involved in the writing or the perspective.

Am I a loser if no one else likes the same books as me? (Don't answer that out loud.)

Why are we so eager to be agreed with? Approved of?
Except when we aren't and the last thing we want is to be agreed with and approved of.

Is it out of love that we share? Is it Show and Tell, trying to be the kid with the coolest gadget in front of the class today?

If I play mmorphenpowerranger type games online, why do I feel better if I suck everyone else in with me? Why is it better this way?

I need to be more selective of my recommendations and perhaps, the material itself. This post is my apology....about the inferior reading material....

...and the beginning of some profound cosmic questions, all of which I expect to receive some profound cosmic answers...to.

28 January 2010

Just kidding about that Lawrence Welk thing.....

Apparently, I have morphed into a member of my parent’s generation. Or their parent’s generation.

It’s true.
How do I know?

Earlier today I distinctly heard myself think these words: “They just don’t write songs like that anymore.” Then without passing Go, I proceeded directly to the logical conclusion that later when I got home, if I looked hard enough I could probably find a Lawrence Welk rerun somewhere on cable. If I’m lucky. Not really.

But I did have this telling, generational, elitist, ageist, narrow-minded thought:
“They just don’t write songs like that anymore.”

I was driving in my car listening to Michael Bublè remind me that “The Best is Yet to Come” at the top of my lungs. Soaking up the truth of this energy. Imbibing the words as I drove. Amazing, shiny power. With clarity and certainty he sings, “You think you’ve seen the sun but you ain’t seen it shine!” I believe this. “The Best is Yet to Come.” Indeed.

In 2007, my very first blog post EVER, brimmed with The Best is Yet to Come commentary. My certainty and motivation has dipped some since then. It's waxed and swayed, this way and fro. It will rebound for awhile, getting my hopes all dancy, then I'll slump, leaving me feeling a little bit like the stock market.

How is it that such positive energy is so fleeting? Yet discouraged and defeated can be so consistently in-house? Me constantly trying to sweep it out of the way. Who created this system? It leaves me feeling weak and vulnerable, like I don't have anything to say about it at all. Without power.

How is it I can 'know better' yet fail to 'do better?'

Wow, this blog post certainly took a sharp left turn.

17 January 2010

Asked and Answered

This morning I woke wondering why I keep expecting other people to treat me better than I treat myself. I know the universal truth involved here. I know it intellectually. But in other ways I must still not get it. Because I keep driving full speed off this cliff.

It is crazy to expect other people to treat me any better than I am willing to treat myself. Could someone please make me some flash cards? Please.

This is crazy.

When I find myself irritated with some one's disregard (or worse) in my specific direction, I have to ask myself: Am I treating myself with disregard (or worse)? The answer is often 'Yes.' This is also crazy.

I think we are raised this way. Raised to think there is virtue in self-sacrifice. That I'm a good person because I put other people first. Taking authentically good care of myself only on very few days.

Instead, what's actually true is that if you will sacrifice yourself, other people won't hesitate to do the same. That if I put myself last, I should not be surprised when other people do also.

I am admittedly quick on the trigger when the barrel of my pen is pointed in the direction of the male gender and today is no different. (You've been warned.)

In our world, run by men for thousands of years now, women especially, are trained from very early, to put their own needs last. (Wow, pretty convenient system for approximately half of the population.....)

Even though I am known as a relatively verbal, outspoken, opinionated and bitchy-type person, I still have the most difficult time saying, "Yeah, I really don't feel like putting your needs ahead of my own today. Check with me again tomorrow. Or next week. Or, here's an idea, learn to take care of yourself in a manner that does NOT walk all over my basic needs and rights. And feelings." How 'bout that?

Instead of politely, confidently and yet firmly speaking up for myself, advocating on my own behalf, I get pissed and pissy. What men might consider BITCHY!

My theory here is that women are taught, in a very subtle and insidious manner from birth, that we do not deserve to behave in our own best interest. We are to be compliant and quiet, maybe not literally, as you begin your very mental list of loud, controlling women, but as a cultural, sinister undercurrent of programing. Subliminal encoding. This is the only explanation I can come up with. Women are taught that it is our role as women to 'give' at our own expense. To bend over and take it.

That we'd be selfish and unladylike if we were to say, "Um .... BULLSHIT!" I'm not sure I like our commonly held definition of ladylike. I'll get back to you with some other suggestions on that.

I wonder if I'm brave enough to be selfish and 'unladylike' from here on out. I wonder.

PS: In case you were thinking of writing me here reminding me that 'ladylike' is not exactly how you would have described me on any given day even before now.... Don't! Just keep it to yourself.