Monday, July 31, 2006

  1. The truck that drives around playing "The Entertainer"? That's called the Music Truck. No, you don't need to go see for yourself, you just need to trust me on this one. If you get too close the music will stop, then everyone will be mad at you.
  2. If you don't believe in Santa, he won't come.
  3. You get zits from kissing boys.
  4. The clothes in my closet that don't fit anymore? The damn dryer shrank them.
  5. It's just a coincidence, not a conspiracy, that all my friends went on vacation the same week.
  6. I'm not a "know it all", I just happen to know a lot more than most.
  7. I'm not bossy, I just know how things should go, and am happy to lend my expertise to all situations.
  8. I'm not self-righteous, I just know when I'm right, which happens to be most, if not all, of the time.
  9. I'm not hard to live with, in fact, if I could just get everyone to live my way, there would be no problems!
  10. I don't resort to Top 10 lists when I have writer's block, I just think they're really fun to read, and I like for my friends to have fun!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

For many months I've been wanting to see the movie, "Brokeback Mountain". My husband has not. He was adverse to it, in fact. I thought about going with a friend to see it in the theaters, I'd thought about renting it and watching it alone when it came out in DVD. I knew I would love it. I knew it would move me. I knew it would pull up hard feelings. I knew that it would not just be any old movie to watch some evening after the kids went down. What I didn't know was that it was a tragedy.
Yesterday, in a weakened state, I got my husband to agree to watch it with me. We wept. Yes, he squirmed, yes he was uncomfortable at times, but he "got it". The lives of the two men were so well depicted, their torment, their love, their bondage to convention. What made me weep, though, was the women in their lives. The women that loved these men, had children with these men, or were the children of these men, their situation was the most tragic to me. The men had each other. No matter how infrequently they saw one another, they always knew the other was "out there", feeling and understanding what they were going through. The women had nobody.
Even today there would be very few people that would understand, and be able to talk about what these women were dealing with. We have come much further in accepting homosexuality, but women whose husbands are trying to live a heterosexual life with them, are still a silent minority. How unloved they must feel, how faulty, how lonely. I'm sure the same is true for men living with women that are fighting to live a life that is accepted by society, rather than the life that is natural for them. It's tragic to me. It's tragic that our society makes it so hard for people to love each other, and so easy to hate. It's tragic that the world is always preparing for war, and not welcoming love, any way it's wrapped. It's tragic that we still judge others by their sexual orientation, rather than their integrity, compassion, and societal contributions.
It's tragic.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What happens inside you when you hear the word, "Evengelical". You have a response, don't you? You feel strongly aligned with the word, or strongly opposed to the word, and what it means for you, true? I have yet to meet someone that is completely neutral about this branch of Christianity.
Remember the 4th of July carwash story? I was with my cousin and her husband, a pastor and wife team from an Evengelical church in the Chicago area. We had all been together for a family reunion. My family is large and far-flung. Descendants of a Baptist minister, all of us, we couldn't be more divergent in our current religious beliefs, or non-beliefs. My cousin and her husband were debriefing about the reunion, and the different responses they evoked from relatives, just by their presence in a conversation. Whether or not they opened their mouths, whether or not they agreed or disagreed, "approved or disapproved", they were judged as judges. Nobody asked them what they thought about something, or how they arrived at their thinking, they just assumed.
This was hard for them. They had driven three young children across the country to re-unite with their families. They had open minds, open hearts, and were eager to have meaningful conversations and connections with relatives long unseen. They had not driven thousand of miles in the heat of the summer to stand in judgment. They had driven out of love, to be "with", not "against". Few gave them a chance.
Whatever your religious beliefs or allignment, do you agree with every single other person of the same? What about politics? Are you a democrat? Republican? Green Party? Do you agree with every person walking the party line? Are we not a country founded on free speech, free thought, and free choice? Are we not willing to extend these rights to those with whom we don't agree, or scarier yet, with those whom we fear don't agree with us? Why do we feel so threatened?
"Those Evengelical zealots on TV are just as disturbing to me, as they are to other people," my cousin's husband commented. Had I ever considered this? No, I'm ashamed to admit. I, too, assumed that Evengelicals were all for one and one for all. How dare I? How DARE I?
I'm sorry. You have taught me an important lesson, and I thank you. Now I'm going to go pray for sun.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

5:00 AM and I am up, the time of day my subconscious loses to the power of addiction, and my morning coffee/internet fix must be had. I love this time of day, and with any luck at all, I can get 1-2 hours of quiet time in before the famdamily starts to stir.
Not today.
"Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!"
My husband creaks down the stairs mumbling, "God damn smoke alarm battery..."
"Didn't we spend a fortune buying lithium batteries not six months ago? Were they not touted as being ten-year batteries? Did we not take every precaution available to avoid this very annoying problem?" I ask, being well on my way to full caffeination.
"*&^%$," he responds expletively.
I refill my coffee, he gets his first cup, and the two of us spend the next half hour standing under the smoke alarms, in silence, waiting to hear which one is the culprit.
"It's in the basement," I insist.
"It's on the main floor," he argues.
And so it goes, for a full half hour, until every smoke alarm in the house has been eliminated, and we're left with the knowing we are haunted. There can be no other explanation. What kind of perverse ghost sets off alarms for no reason, and please, could they do their schtick on their own time? I would really appreciate the effort more if it weren't during my very limited amount of solitude. What happened to "woo, woo, woo?" What's up with "buzz, buzz, buzz?" When did ghosts go all high-tech on me?
Now that we're all up, all crabby, all our teeth on edge, the buzzing has stopped. I have enough annoying human spirits in my house as it is, I do not need any from beyond, thank you very much!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I have added five new blogs to my "links" - check them out! They are all new and fantastic!
Identity Crisis
Go Mama
Learning Lollipops
Angel Poems
Lee Wolfe Blum
Visit, enjoy, and leave lots of great comments!
6:00 - 9:00 AM:
"Mooooooooom! (Repeated incessantly until I make an appearance in his room.)
"Good morning, Rojo! How are you today?"
"Can we go to Walgreens?"
"Maybe later. So, how are you today?"
"Can we go to Walgreens today at 9:oo AM?"
"I don't know. Let's get up, have some breakfast, and we'll talk about what's happening today."
"Can we go to Walgreens at 9:00 AM today and get Gripz?"
"I will look at our schedule when we go downstairs. I will tell you what time we can go to Walgreen's."
"Can we go to Walgreens at 9:00 AM today and get two boxes of Gripz?"
"Don't forget!"
"I won't forget."
"You won't forget?"
"No, I won't forget."
"Why won't you forget?"
"Because I have a sense you'll remind me."
"You won't forget to go to Walgreen's at 9:00 AM to get two boxes of Gripz?"
"Don't forget!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

To say I am a "do-er" is a bit of an understatement. It is akin to saying Portland has been "warm" lately.
I was telling Kathleen all about my grand plan to move every stick of furniture in the house to a new location, all in an effort to get everyone's junk out of "my" office, and create a real place for me to be creative.
"That's a good goal for September," she said, always the wise, careful and considerate desision maker.
"Really? September? I was thinking more like by sunset!"
We balance each other out, that's what I like to say, less kind people have said we are each other's alter egos, or the ying and yang. I know that means I'm the cuckoo, and she is is the voice of reason. With each new "great idea" I bring to my husband he says, "What does Kathleen think?" Fortunately, Kathleen's husband does the same thing with her, at least that's what I tell myself.
I need this balancing influence in my life, desperately. Kathleen has made it a rule that before I say "yes" to anything, I must run it by her. Her sole concern being the saving of my sanity and conservation of precious time and energy. This is why she's earned the title of "Preferred Spouse". Her opinion is what is in my best interest. This is so hard to pull off with an actual spouse, because what is in their best interest can seem in direct conflict to yours. There's just so much damn compromising in a partnership.
Being selfish has been completely bled out of me by previous and present family members. My religious background firmly installed a "No Selfishness" rule. I have followed the rule to the letter.
The time has come to re-define selfishness to mean "self-care". A big difference. An important difference. A hard thing to learn. A "must do", none-the-less.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For days now Oregonians have been getting warned of the heat wave coming, record breaking highs, days on end in the high 90s and 100+. Everyone's talking about it, worried about it, totally obsessed with it. I HATE heat, would actually prefer to live somewhere that never gets above 75 degrees, but c'mon people, it's July! It is ALWAYS hot in July, especially this week of July, in Oregon, always. Count on it, plan for it, expect it, make your summer plans accordingly, but for God's sake, don't panic!
Kathleen, my preferred spouse and faithful walking buddy, said she thinks it's a conspiracy theory. Just like all the hoopla in the winter over snow and ice storms, the weather service is in bed with Wal-Mart, they want everyone to freak out, and run to their nearest big box retailer and snap up every last fan, air conditioner and wading pool. She's totally right. The troubling thing to me is, what is wrong with these people? How can they possibly be caught unprepared year after year? Who waits until the hottest day of the year to go out searching for a cooling method? Who waits until the first flakes of snow fall to go get their winter tires put on? Apparently, almost everyone! My mind is boggled! How can you be totally unprepared, year after year? Where is all the stuff you bought last year when you were in this exact predicament? Huh? Did you use it all and throw it away? Where does it go? I am completely confused.
If this panicky, reactionary thing is going on everywhere, what does that say about the mental well-being of our fellow planet dwellers? Frightening! AND, just what am I supposed to do about it? I guess I'll just stay inside my cool house, and wait for cooler heads to prevail. Either that, or get over to Wal-Mart just to break up the monotony of preparedness.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My husband calls me "the Professor", as in "The Professor and Mary Ann, here on Gilligan's Island." That is because, like the Professor, I just happen to know a little something about everything, or think I do, anyway, and sometimes thinking I do is quite enough for me to be quite convincing, quite!
At least once a month I wow him with my latest theory. We then go immediately to his "buck, buck, buck, embrace" reaction, which consists of him telling me I'm full-of-shit for 29-days, then embracing my latest theory, totally stealing it, and passing it off as his own. My latest theory with that, is we'll eventually get it down to "buck, embrace", and long about our golden anniversary we'll just have "embrace". Just a theory.
The last theory-of-the-month was that "everything is contagious". Go ahead, take a moment to breath in the absolute brilliance of that, and you'll see that I'm right. Actually, that one was my biggest success, thus far, with him, only two "bucks" before the "embrace".
July's theory-of-the-month is "Understanding Understanding", and it goes a little something like this...
We talk too much, especially to our spouses and children. We "help" too much, we "suggest", we "distract", we point out the bright side, we want them to come to resolution as quickly as possible, because we're all one tightly connected unit, and their unhappiness is our unhappiness, their bad mood is our bad mood, and their anxieties make us anxious.
Let me suggest this, close your coffee drinking hole, and state the obvious to them. It's a little like the "active listening" of yester-year, but even simpler. As they rant and rave you lock eyes, nod, keep asking, "what else?", until they are spent. Then you say something so simple like, "You're ____________," frustrated, bored, angry, tired, jealous, whatever they may be. Then sit back and watch their stress bubble burst! You don't offer to fix it, you just completely understand them. We, as humans, just want to be understood. Once the other humans in our lives feel understood, the black cloud over their heads begins to dissipate, and then they can come up with solutions to their own problems. Often, the problem isn't even the problem, it's the needing to be understood that is really their problem.
With small children I like to add one little nugget. Let's say two kids are fighting over who gets to sit where, who gets the last popcicle, who gets to choose the video, etc. To the one that "loses", you say, "You get to practice wanting and not getting." Think about it! If all the people milling about the planet knew how to handle wanting and not getting, we'd have no crime! This is an essential life skill, but we don't like our kids to feel "bad", so we rush in to make them happy again, often, at the expense of this valuable, planet-saving skill!
So, when our planet is saved, you can thank me. Until then, keep tuning in to the "Theory-of -the-Month Club!"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

  1. Janis Ian, "At Seventeen"
  2. The Carpenters, "Rainy Days and Mondays"
  3. Martina McBride ,"God's Will"
  4. Barry Manilow, "Sunday Father"
  5. A Chorus Line, "What I Did for Love"
  6. The Beatles, "Let it Be"
  7. Mary-Chapin Carpenter, "Not Too Much to Ask"
  8. Simon & Garfunkel, "A Most Peculiar Man"
  9. Natalie Merchant, "Beloved Wife"
  10. Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Don't mix business with pleasure."
"Don't do business with friends or relatives."
"You get what you pay for."
These are just a few of the adages running around in my head today. I kind of agree and disagree with each one. I see the wisdom in following their heed, yet, aren't rules meant to be broken?
What if you start off in a business arrangement, then become friends, does that count?
What if you really, really like the people for whom you work, is that mixing business with pleasure?
What if while you work your butt off, you also laugh your head off? Huh? What about that?
I have a "job". I've mentioned this to a handful of people, and each one has said, "Are you getting paid?" What's up with that? Why wouldn't I be? Why do they even ask? Do I look like the kind of person that works her fingers to the bone voluntarily? Never mind, don't answer that, because obviously I look exactly like that kind of person.
How much is my time "worth"? Should I be paid for thinking? Should I be paid for dreaming? My conscious and unconscious mind are both at work on my job at all times. Am I only "working" when I am being obviously productive, literally, producing visable work? What if my job does not feel like work, it feels like joy? It feels like heaven? It feels, God forbid, easy? Does that lower the value or raise it? For whom?
What if what I give to this job, actually gives me more in return? What if in return I gain wisdom, experience, insight, and oh yea, my wildest dreams all come true? I'd say that's being "paid", it's priceless, really. What is the price of dreams going for these days?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

After writing about the short video, "Dysenchanted", my mind wouldn't stop thinking about the different characters in fairy tales (I told you, I'm totally OCD Goldilocks!) Even worse than the bad news that I'm OCD girl, is the news that I'm also Snow White's evil queen step-mother! The mirror, mirror chick! Yea, that's right, you heard me, I am one vain and selfish mother figure!
Perhaps if I didn't have a twelve-year-old daughter that is getting more gorgeous by the day, as I get, shall we say, shorter, fatter, more wrinkled and greyer, I would not be in the emotional quagmire that I am. Is there any justice to this mother-daughter transference of beauty? If I were getting wittier, wiser and closer to enlightenment with each age spot and cellulite blob, that might work for me, but alas, just more bitter, more slow-witted and base with my emotional reactivity.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most pathetic of all?

Monday, July 17, 2006

I just watched the best 8 minutes of entertainment I've seen in a long time. It was a "short" called "Dysenchanted", produced by The Spiritual Cinema Circle. It involved Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, Dorothy, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, in group therapy with Jim Belushi (it's funny already, isn't it?). As jokes of OCD, high maintenance men, narcolepsy and drug dependency were bantered around, the film introduced a woman that "didn't belong there". She wasn't like "them". She was just an average, divorced single mother, trying to get by in this crazy world.
Of course, parallels are immediately drawn, the illusion of "happily ever after" is shattered, and the fact that women have more in common with each other than most of us realize, is driven home.
I'm Goldilocks, always scurrying around trying to find something "just right", when everything is too big, too small, too hard, too soft, etc. The never-ending search for what doesn't exist, and the eventual realization that good enough is good enough.
Are you the one that realizes you're not in Kansas anymore? The one that realized someone you loved was really the big, bad wolf? The one smoking too much hooka, and living in a wonderland of illusion? The one taking care of way too many little bodies with their never ending needs? Which one?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

In my house growing up, there was much discussion of the "games alcoholics play", and all the other vernacular used by Al-Anon members. I knew all about co-dependency, letting go and letting God, the Serenity Prayer and one day at a time. I heard about the role "drinking buddies" often played in the life of an alcoholic, and the disequilibrium felt by the other drunks, when one of the drinking buddies got on the wagon. I had no compassion for such a scenario. What kind of person doesn't want the best for their friend? What kind of hard core addict wants their friends to remain as stuck and crazy as they are, just so they won't have to look too closely in the mirror themselves?
I'll tell you what kind of friend, the kind of friend I am when not my first, not second, but THIRD hard core coffee buddy tells me they are "off coffee". What the hell? Don't I get a vote? Where does this leave me? Why is nobody considering my feelings when making this type of radical life change? Blah, blah, blah high blood pressure. Blah, blah, blah insomnia, blah, blah, blah stomach upset, blah, blah, blah boobs like cantelopes. What about me? What about my needs for drinking buddies? If you all ban together and try to do some lame intervention on me, that will be the last straw. Not the last straw in my addiction, the last straw in our friendships! Don't make me choose between you all, it will not be pretty!
Is coffee ruling my life? Staining my teeth? Keeping my blood pressure dangerously high? Costing me a ton of money? Preoccupying my thoughts? Maybe, who cares? It's working for me! So! Put that in your morning cup and drink it!

Friday, July 14, 2006

years ago
made me
the happiest
on earth
still do"
Ten pages carefully cut from white tissue paper, red pen writing one or two words on a page, the pages bound with a diaper pin.
My father gave me this book of love over 33 years ago. I read it only once, put it down somewhere, and it never turned up again. I see the pages, the writing, the diaper pin, silver with a blue plastic end. I feel the shock, the surprise, and the wonderment that this came from my father's mind, then heart, then hand.
The words on the paper so unfamiliar, yet such care went into the making, I knew that perhaps he did love me, and maybe I did make him happy.
Ten years ago today I gave birth to my son, the boy who carries the sir name of my father as his first name. Ten years ago today I went from a mother of one, to a mother of two. Ten years ago marked the end of my role as my father's daughter, as we buried the man who hated his life on this earth. Ten years ago I became the mother of a boy who only knows love. He only knows compassion, peace, joy and has no needs, no wants that can be bought with money. These two men that sandwich my life, the one that brought me in, and the one that will take me out. Names the same, souls, so different. Me, so blessed to have known both. I would not fully appreciate the one, without experiencing the other.
My favorite morning meditation (because it is succinct, and I have the attention span of a gnat)...

Open my eyes to see beauty
Open my ears to hear truth
Open my mouth to speak kindness
Open my mind to seek wisdom
And open my heart to love

Thursday, July 13, 2006

So my husband comes home yesterday and says, "Look at the book I bought myself today! And I'm going to read it!"

101 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

We've been married 15 years. We dated six years before that. I don't know whether to kiss him in gratitude, or beat him over the head with the damn thing. And wouldn't you know it, the book doesn't answer THAT question!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dear friends of mine, that are friends of tea,

On this 12th day of July in the 2006th year of our Lord, I hereby put down my tea-hating sword and surrender. The world is big enough for all of us, coffee and tea drinkers alike. May we raise our respective cups and find peace with one another.

With love,
  1. Big men on tiny bikes
  2. Why "The City that Works", Portland, OR, has been working on the same stretch of road for a solid year, and seem nowhere near done
  3. Why this same city has its trucks perpetually driving backwards, BEEP, BEEP, BEEPING, on same stretch of road, RIGHT OUTSIDE MY HOUSE
  4. Why previously mentioned city begins working, RIGHT OUTSIDE MY CHILDREN'S BEDROOM WINDOWS at 7:23 AM.
  5. Tea (LAST beating for the poor, dead horse, I swear...)
  6. Why some arguments with the spouse never get "retired", despite the fact that I am so clearly right, and he is so clearly wrong
  7. The "joy" of cooking
  8. Nude beaches
  9. America's fixation of watching people eat gross things on TV
  10. Nascar or any other of that driving around in a circle stuff, let alone choosing to WATCH cars drive around in a circle, LOUDLY, for hours and hours as a form of relaxation

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Today I woke up, turned on the coffee, and instead of making a bee-line to my lover, uh, I mean, laptop, I opened the front door and grabbed the morning paper. You see, I've been on strike from all news for two weeks. For fourteen straight days, a fortnight, if you will, I have eschewed all forms of news. I don't need to know about Star Jones and Barbara Walters. I don't need to know about the bombings, suicides, drownings, global warming and other disasters. I GET that the world is in total disrepair. I GET that Americans consider Angelina, Brad, Jennifer and Vince "news". Being bombarded by the bad news makes me feel, well, bad!
Is feeling bad (and it's NOT badly, you can only feel "badly" when your sense of touch is all screwed up) the point? Am I to fly into action? Am I to save the world? Am I to become part of the solution, and quit bitching about all the problems? Probably! But, man oh man, I've done the save-the-world thing, and let me tell you, it's exhausting! Mother Theresa once said, "You can do no great things; only small things with great love." I'm sticking with that. I will work to improve my little corner of the world, and I will work tirelessly on those matters close to my heart, but bad news for you, Star and Barbara, you're on your own. The strike is back on!
What I Hate About Tea...

Ha! You thought enough had been made about my distaste for tea, but noooooo! I can beat a dead horse with the best of them!
  1. Taste
  2. Color
  3. Smell
  4. There is no "point" to it
  5. What are you gonna do with that soggy bag when you're done?
  6. It just makes me pee
  7. I refuse to pay good money for hot water with negligible benefits
  8. I don't "get it" - what's all the fuss?
  9. It's not coffee
  10. It's so tea-like!

Monday, July 10, 2006

  1. The bugs - who doesn't love the constant company?
  2. The oppressive heat
  3. It's still two long months until Labor Day
  4. People think you're cuckoo if you buy your back-to-school supplies now
  5. The neighborhood noises, smells and general disturbances coming through the open windows
  6. The pitter patter of wet and filthy feet creating a traffic pattern thoughout the house
  7. The daily fight to apply sunscreen
  8. The inability to get kids to sleep when it's still light outside
  9. The chanting of "I'm bored"
  10. The people that keep you sane are all on vacation

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Does the thought of having people over send you into a tailspin? If your best friend in the world dropped by, unannounced, would you apologize for the state of your house, attire, hair? What's up with that?
I've hosted gatherings in my house many times. What I've finally come to learn about myself is that the less I know/care about the people coming over, the more I work to prepare for them. Tell me 20 strangers will be over later, and I'll be down on my knees cleaning the baseboards in no time. Tell me in July that I'll be having a Christmas party in December, and I'll compulsively start a list of all the things that need cleaning by then, plotting each one on my calendar as though the world's continued ability to spin relies on the cleanliness of my grout. It's crazy.
If one of my true blues drops by, they're likely to catch me unshowered, dishes and crumbs everywhere, the house in general disarray. The fact that I would actually let them past the front door, is the highest possible compliment I could pay.
"Come in! Come in!" translates to: I know you love me, unconditionally, the state of my house does not in any way translate to the state of your approval. I am willing to be seen "naked", if you will.
When I go to someone's house and they apologize before letting me in, I'm slightly offended. Do they really think that I am there to judge? Do they really think that if their house is not perfect, my love for them will be imperfect? How did the cleanliness of the house get so intertwined with our ideas and value of ourselves?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

After the fireworks of the 4th of July, I found myself in a van with my cousin, her husband, and three children. They had driven from Chicago and claimed the van had bugs from seven states plastered to it. They were anxious to get the van washed, and for some bizarre reason, felt 10:30 PM on a holiday was the ideal time.
The carwash was located, the level of performance selected (deluxe with an underbody spray), the VISA card inserted, and away we went... or should have gone. It was not a human-operated system, no, better! All automatic!
"GO!" the green light directed us.
"STOP! the red light shouted.
We "go'ed", we stopped. Nothing. Not a damn thing, correction, a slight misting began, but there was not ACTION, no scrubbing, no movement of the promised "soft-touch" blue tendrils.
"GO!" the green light directed.
"STOP!" the red light shouted.
We inched forwards and backwards obediently, just sure that the automatic system would work as it was intended to, if only we could figure out how to follow the complex directions.
We're talking about half an hour of this. Three college educated, post-graduate level even, people, spent their 4th of July carrying on like this.
After thirty minutes of this insanity, we unanimously agreed that perhaps there was a problem with the system. Perhaps we were following the directions, but the directions were BAD. Perhaps the three of us were SMARTER than the automatic machine. Huh, ya think? Then again, perhaps we weren't, we did spend our 4th of July locked in a battle of wills with a carwash.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Before I began my blog, I wrote out all the stray thoughts/theories/rants and raves in my head and made all my true-blues read them. NOT enough has been made of true-blues that read what you foist upon them, then praise you lavishly. It was actually the true-blues that encouraged me to start a blog. Hey, now that I think about it, maybe I should be slightly insulted? I'm going to stick with grateful, though, they've had to endure a lot from me.
The one essay that generated the most "guff" was my "Pray for Sun" piece. In it I went OFF on people that pray for the weather to go "their" way. To me, that is not the purpose of prayer. To me that is a wish, and wishes are not what God/The Universe/The Femine Divine/etc. are all about, in my very personal but loud clanging gong opinion. But that's just me. Ohhhh boy, did I ruffle feathers! I heard story after story about prayers for sun that were answered. I was asked, outright, to re-write that piece. Of course I refused, I'm a clanging gong, I wanted to make people think, and I did! Love that! The power! What a high!
I do not know who/what controls the weather and decides which prayers need what responses. I just know that if my writing stirs the soul, I am a happy girl. I do believe there is a higher power that wants us to listen, however, more than speak. And it's a bit hard to hear Him/Her/It what with all the gong clanging I've got going on. Maybe the thing to do is re-define "pray" to mean, shut the hell up. I don't know, I don't know anything, but I like it when you think I do.
I just read the comments from my last posting, and my friend, Terry, Toeless in Philly, wants to know how Jennifer can put "tea" and "Carrie Link" in the same sentence. Here's the back story...
Almost eleven years ago when Toeless and I lived across the street from one another, we'd always offer something to drink when the other stopped by.
"Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked.
"No, thanks," I'd answer.
"Yes, please."
Terry/Toeless is the only person on this planet that is as obsessed and picky about her coffee as I am. None-the-less, she continued to offer me "a cup of tea" every time I visited.
As she moved from place to place, coast to coast, I'd visit, and several times each visit she'd politely ask if she could make me a cup of tea. Somewhere around year four of our friendship, and 1,000 unaccepted offers of tea later, she muttered under her breath, "God, I hate tea."
"Me too!" I screamed.
I think we laughed for ten minutes straight, tears pouring down our faces.
Year five of our friendship I visited again, and got to attend a special event at her daughter's kindergarten. Sophie, her daughter, read from her journal, proudly.
"I like candy
I like ice cream
I like bagels
I do not like tea."
Again, ten solid minutes of convulsive laughter ensued. What five-year-old lists TEA as something she doesn't like?
All these years later just seeing tea at the grocery store, or on a menu, brings a smile to my face as I think of my tea-hating soul mate, clear across the country.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My husband has a bone to pick with me, actually, more like 1,000, but his favorite bone is the "A Game" bone. And it goes a little something like this...
"You give your A game to your friends, and you give your B game to your family."
"You always have time/energy/patience/all things good for your friends, but not your family." (Meaning him, since this tale of woe began before kids.)
Blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, you get the gist.
Well, I won't deny for a second that he's right. He's SO right. But, let me just say this, he's SO lucky to be getting my B game, and if he knew what was good for him, he'd be friggin' thanking his lucky stars, because guess what? The B game ain't that bad! He oughta see my F game, then he'd have something to complain about!
It doesn't matter how many times I tell him that if I were living with, paying bills, raising children, dealing with aging parents, etc. with my friends, they'd be getting the B game too! It's called real life!
I say this, show me a wife of 15 years, mother of two highly diagnosed children, living in middle America that is nothing but sweet, patient, kind and sexually available, and I will show you a woman that's heavily medicated!
B Gamers, UNITE! Let's storm Dr. Phil and Oprah until the beauty of the B game is celebrated and universally accepted! Actually, we better storm Forbes and Golf Digest, too, or my husband is not likely to catch it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My dear, dear friend, Terry, a.k.a. "Toeless in Philly", taught me the best expression years ago, and I pretty much use it excessively to this day. It all started when I was visiting her across the country, we'd been up late at night laughing our heads off. The next morning she said, "Hey, not enough has been made about ____________", whatever it was. That started a whole new round of riotous laughter, and began a habit of making sure we got the attention we needed from the other.
I've taken this lesson, and the phrase, and applied it to everything. It works so well. It's a funny way of telling someone that they didn't give you what you needed, even if what you needed was pathetic and embarrassing. My husband uses it too.
"Not enough has been made over the fact that I emptied the dishwasher and re-loaded it." To which I reply exactly as he needs me to, "You are right. Not enough has been made. You are like the world's best dishwasher emptier and re-filler. Thank you. You rock. You are #1 husband."
It sounds silly, but let's face it, we sometimes need lavish praise. What's wrong with identifying the need, then directly asking for it? It's pretty painless to give, and with the element of humor involved, it's actually fun.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What's Up with Boundaries?
Almost twenty years ago when I was a beginning teacher, my boyfriend, now husband, came and watched me teach.
"You're a great teacher, but you have rubber band boundaries."
Of course I was defensive, confused, and outraged. He didn't know what he was talking about. I could be "firm". I could say "no" once and remain consistent with that each time I was asked the same thing. I could treat each child fairly and not let one kid do something that I had formerly forbidden another to do. He was out of his mind, and there was nothing wrong with me.
Fast forward to the joys of parenting. Again he let me know that I didn't have to be "nice" all the time. And it certainly was not OK to say, yes, yes, yes, grow ever more resentful, then EXPLODE over something trivial. Reluctantly, I came around to his way of thinking. The whole idea that I could say "no" to my kids, my family and my friends, was novel. What if that made them feel bad? What if they didn't like me anymore? What if they never asked me again? Well, they didn't, they did, and they do. In fact, I think people respect others that can kindly say "no" and mean it. I know I do.
My preferred spouse and I say we are "exercising our 'no' muscle". The more we use it, the stronger it becomes, until a habit is established. Now we share our latest "nos" with each other.
"Someone just called and asked me to serve on a committee, and I skipped the whole, 'I'll give it my careful consideration', and went straight to 'I must say no, but thank you so much for thinking of me.'"
Boundaries are important. Without them we feel victimized, resentful and taken for granted. Dr. Phil says (and he makes me completely cuckoo, but I still think he's often right) says, "We teach others how to treat us." People that let us walk all over them, just keep getting walked on. People that are skilled at saying "no", or "that won't work for me", or "I'm going to need _________ to make that work for me," gain our respect. Do you respect doormats? Me neither!
So I say, "Erect the boundaries!" Run the show! Call the shots! Be firm, yet friendly! Be victimized no more! Are you with me?

Got Boundaries?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Around our house we are big fans of "the self -fix". My husband and I both believe that by messing around with something broken, we are likely to make it worse. Our rule of thumb is, walk away, see if it'll self -fix. You really gotta walk away, though, and quit screwing with it, for at least 24-hours. Things just need a day to themselves, sometimes, to get right with themselves.
The self-fix has repaired my driver's side power window button. The self-fix has managed to get the ice machine to stop making inordinate amounts of ice. The self-fix has worked to heal VCRs, DVDs, and CD players. The self-fix, I'm telling you, it's amazing.
Remember when my computer wouldn't connect to the internet, even though everything said "connection established"? Remember my crazed search of Wi-Fi? Well the computer was goofy all weekend, it wouldn't cooperate. On Monday I called "my" tech guy. He fixed it in 25 seconds. He unplugged the cable outlet, then the router, let 15 seconds transpire, then plugged in the router and the cable again. He said, "Sometimes there is just too much information coming in, and the computer gets confused. It needs to take a break. It needs to be cut off from the information stream and get its head cleared."
"Yea, me too," I thought. I get way too much information streaming in from all directions, I get confused, disoriented and need to cut myself off, occasionally. This just adds a whole new dimension to the self-fix plan for life. The key is to identify the need to un-plug, before the breakdown takes place, then take the break to self-fix, while fixing is still an option.