• Whether the pitcher hits the rock, or the rock hits the pitcher, it's going to be pretty bad for the pitcher. - Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Permission to say Merry Christmas...


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is on. Not only did I watch this when I was a child, I watched the first broadcast of it when I was a kid. Yes, I'm that old. I also love "A Charlie Brown Christmas,"The Little Drummer Boy" and to a somewhat lesser extent the original "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." These are all rebroadcast every year, along with some very inferior shows that seem cheap commercial ripoffs of the season.

One show that I loved and have looked for hasn't been on the annual repeat list. Amazingly, it was only broadcast 4 times, once a year for 4 years starting in 1970. That means I haven't seen "The Night the Animals Talked" in over 34 years - yet I remember it as strongly as any of the others I have enjoyed over the weekend. (For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_the_Animals_Talked.)

The article does say there are bootlegged copies available for sale - but I refuse to purchase such things on moral grounds. It seems as if the only chance I'll have to see it again would be if someone today does a remake. Anyone interested? I'll buy the first copy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Going down into the darkness of the year

Back in the days before I got a prescription to cope with it, before I even understood that I have 'Seasonal Affected Disorder," aka Winter Depression, the period from Thanksgiving to sometime after Valentine's Day would see me virtually incapacitated by miserableness, cold and dark and lonely. Typically I would break up with whatever boyfriend I had sometime in October, then spend the holidays valiantly trying to find a place to get out of the metaphysical cold. Thanksgiving would happen anywhere I could get an invitation from some friend or relative with a large dose of pity. Christmas approached with the glow of a city at night in the desert, and usually proved as rewarding as a visit to Las Vegas, so that the year ended with a roller-coaster crash into deeper depression.

Personal enlightenment began in college, when I spent a week in December visiting the Southwestern US, basking in bright sun under incredibly blue skies. I went into December devastated as usual by the abandonment of a boyfriend. I happened to have taken some courses that covered pagan religions' focus on astronomic cycles, and grabbed hold of the concept of the Winter Solstice as the 'low point' of the year. December 21 is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, the point after which every day is slightly longer than the one before.

I held on to that idea, that if I could get through to December 21 things would start to get better, slowly to be sure, but definitely better. Coincidentally, the time in the Southwest gave me a burst of positive energy, so I came home after the New Year feeling a definitely improvement in life.

Life is better for me now. Not only because I have finally recognized the Winter Depression condition and now have medication that helps it, but because I have learned better ways of approaching life. I've essentially turned the calendar upside down for winter. The fall is a time of watching, looking ahead and noting the days' as they shorten and fall down towards their smallest point, down to the bottom of the year. The actual passage of day and night become my focal points, moments of transition, observed, recognized as unique periods in the massive cycle of creation.

Candles seem more beautiful in winter, and conversely so does the dormant earth in my back yard and the bare branches of trees around my home. It helps to be able to afford to heat the house, but so does sewing on quilts that my family wraps themselves in at night.

Instead of fighting the flood of time, struggling against an overwhelming force, I feel carried along within it. Lighting candles, sewing, sending Christmas cards, the phases of the moon: these are markers along the banks that show me my progress through the end of one year and beginning of another.

If you feel the weight of time crushing your spirit today, light a candle tonight and sit and watch it burn for a while and think of me, sitting here doing the same. My thoughts are with you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I want to explain my own appreciation for the Twilight series, to contrast with all those who have just recently jumped on the Screaming Phangirl bandwagon. It seems like a lot of the very loud buzz is coming from people who either picked up the book or went to the movie because they've been hearing from raving fans about how good it is. I'm very much the opposite, I tend to move away from things that someone tells me "You've GOT to read/watch/listen to this!"

I first heard about Twilight from an 11-year-old girl who is an obsessive reader, who I knew had already read many of my own favorite books. We were hanging out in a bookstore, and she wanted to pick up a copy of one of the Twilight books even though she already had the book, because the new one contained a preview chapter from the next book which wasn't out yet.

We talked a little about the story, and I began expressing my issues with all the vampire love stories that have spread through popular culture. I don't like the perspective these books show on the world, they always seem to show the worst of human nature, with people giving in to their passions at the expense of all around them, with evil winning the day, good guys being corrupted by evil and ending up as bad as the worst of them.

She protested that this book was different, but I was skeptical, because she is after all just a kid. Finally last summer she badgered me into reading the first book, Twilight, "just so you know what it's about and who the characters are."

So, I read it, and I love it. And here is why:
The characters are real people, fully developed. The writing is strong, it creates vivid pictures in my mind and makes the 'Twilight universe' real as I read it. There is definitely an emphasis on what I consider good things: successful resistance of temptation, doing better than expectations, good winning over evil, redemption.

Luckily for me, I started the series just before the fourth and final book came out, so I could read it all in one wonderful long summer. So my overall first impression is of the entire story. And this is my final assessment:

The four Twilight books are simply: fairy tales. The good kind, but set very believably in our modern world. So just like people a thousand years ago who told the original "fairy tales" that we now know of from the Grimms Brothers, we can hear these stories and imagine the charactors in the world around us. And feel good about our world, because in these stories good wins over evil, virtue triumphs, all the people you want to win do win, success is possible, and hope is justified.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shopping versus Buying: fun versus consumptive consumerism

I try hard to rein in my disgruntlement with what is going on between spendthrift financial corporations and the US Federal Government. If you want to know what I think just take a moment for some free-fall mental grumblisms - and ask me privately what my thoughts are. Most everyone knows I won't respond to comments here, it's all I can do to control my political incorrectness in posts.

So, here is how someone has lived and been happy without going into bankruptcy.

Whatever kind of 'learning-style' consumer you are, someone somehow is messaging you that a particular THING that they happen to sell is JUST WHAT YOU LOVE. And someone else is telling you that if you truly love something you must have it/marry it/embalm it/keep it forever.

What's a girl with limited space and no tolerance for long-term commitments to do?

Here's a stranger but somehow more concrete idea:

I have two parakeets, they are 'free-range' but I promise not to eat them! they are not confined to their cage, that's all. So, they have each other if they truly want a real companion. And, they do spend a good amount of time with each other chatting, or bickering, or just hanging out in the same 1 ft cubic space.d

But, we have mirrors for them, with convenient perches. And they spend a LOT of their time fixated on the 'parakeet in the mirror' - in fact one is right now putting a lot of energy into clinging to a mirror suspended from the ceiling, hanging upside down so she has to twist her head backwards to see and attack/bicker with/feed the parakeet in the mirror.

Angela (parakeet) isn't interested in reality, in really connecting with or hanging with that 'thing' on the other side of the display case. When she can be happy with reality, she has Pedro. But something about the elusive 'on display' is more attractive at times.

I too feel the pull of what is behind the glass, so beautifully arranged. Yes, it is done so as to show me in my perfected state, or at least my perfected surroundings. (it begs the question, does stuff sell more when it has mirrors in the display?) But I have 40 years more experience with life than my parakeets, and I have broken the barrier and taken possession of the thing on the other side of the barrier so many times that I have a little different perspective on what actually will give me satisfaction; I have learned that once I get the 'magic thing' behind Door Number 1 it becomes "stuff." And I now spend much of my life getting rid of 'stuff.'

Then, a friend set me free. "There can be stuff in the world that you don't own, it is OK!" she said as we left a garage sale without purchasing anything.

Things that have a price tag on them are very beautiful. "Stuff" has much less beauty. So, I have finally learned to enjoy beauty without destroying it, to appreciate beautiful things without purchasing them.

In short, now I SHOP, I don't buy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letting others color your world black on a Friday?

Black Friday of a Black Week. Stocks down around the world. Bleak end to a bad month: banks sitting on their assets, too fearful of each other to lend a dime. Homeowners in crisis, foreclosed houses sitting empty on block after block of Main Steet America. The world is ending and there's nothing we can do about it!


Well, so what?

I sat looking around the living room last night, wondering if I should worry. If either of us lost our jobs, we could not pay our bills, including the mortgage. That doesn't seem likely, but what if our bank called the loan (told us they needed it paid NOW not over 30 years). What if the credit card we are paying down raised the interest rate drastically? What if the price of gas triples again? I imagined us forced out of our home, off to live with my mother. Where would we put our stuff? It wouldn't fit into her tiny condo, would we have to sell it all? Sell the car? Release the pets into the wild to fend on their own?


The reality is that global financial meltdown, housing crisis, frozen liquidity, all that really is just vibrating air molecules that disapear when I turn off the radio, light and sound waves that emerge in patterns from the television, pixels on a computer screen. It's not real to me.

I can afford the day's groceries, I can put gas in my tank. True, I have changed my driving habits and now generally stick to the speed limit (and get 35 MPG in a 2001 full-sized sedan!). I bring my own lunch to work more than I purchase it in the cafeteria. Sometimes I regret that certain items are now priced out of my range.

But those are moments of the day, not my whole life. There are many more moments spent talking with the neighbors about their new puppy who is a bundle of pure joy, or going for a walk at lunch with colleagues and marveling at the wonderful weather of the day. The sunrise was glorious this morning and lasted for longer than the brief market update I put up with because the radio station plays the best classical music in the area.

I've had hard times too, but my personal hard times were not caused by large-scale circumstances. We HAVE lost one income over a decade ago), I HAVE bounced the rent check (more than one month in a row even) but not for a long time now, friends and family members have died, I've felt hunger, depression, fear in due season.

Those things happened to ME, not the economy. They were REAL events, not news stories. Because I've had hard times, I can look at the moment and see the good in it, make even a moment of time brighter.

When you look around you, at what your real live contains, look at the reality. Even the hard things. At least you know it's real.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Just a dumb question but

How do you get spaces after periods to display? My editor's eye is pained when reading my own posts because the text isn't displaying proper spacing. Even editing the html doesn't work. Argh, I know it's an odvious thing, but what am I missing here?

one of those weeks

You know the kind, so this is a "connecting with the audience by sharing universal experiences" post. End of last week, over the weekend, I logged onto the blog and stared at the screen - nothing comes. Work week starts, every day driving to work I think of things to write about, get to the office and all creativity disappears in the storm surge of email. My inbox has over 500 messages now, too many for me to even sort out the now meaningless ones from those I need to address. Friday evening I finally have moments to think and remember ideas to write about, and I cannot for the life of me remember my password.

Yeah, one of those weeks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

Seven years after. . .something. Would it be better if you didn't know what I referred to?

I have nothing to add to what the world has already seen and sees today. So instead:

Sometime later, in 2003 or 2004. Maybe later, let me think. Youngest kids able to appreciate music and song, aware of the Bible, before The Passion was released. When would that be? 2003?

2004 sounds better. Wounds healing but still sensitive.

I bought and we all watched Godspell: a musical based on the Gospel of Mathew, immortalized when it was filmed in New York City. At a point the scene shifts and they are singing on the top of a building, and the cameral pulls back and we see the scene at the top of the World Trade Center.

I gasp.

You watch it someday. Do you?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Today is September 9. It is my late mother-in-law's birthday, she would be. . .laughing with me about it if she hadn't passed away in 2000. She was a wise woman with a sense of humor, all tied together with tremendous charity: the selfless love for others. That made for some memorable exchanges that will always color my view of events and make me laugh when I should cry.

One simple example: We were sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea with Tang and sugar in it, talking about this and that. I remember she turned to me, her eyes wide with the urgency of the message, and said, "Marry the faults you can live with." It seemed such a timeless piece of wisdom I thought it ought to be delivered in Spanish instead of English, like an Old World proverb. Such a simple thing but really, it's as good a beginning for a happy lifetime together as anything else. The man leaves his socks on the floor - messy but you don't mind so much? Ok. Messy socks on the floor cause you impossible stress at the disruption of order and the proper place of things in the world? Very bad. Such simple, good advise, I will do it in needlepoint some day.

The humor? She said this to me after I was married to her son. Timing, Momma, always timing.

She left us in May, not exactly a month from my oldest daughter's birthday, not when anything important was happening, no special event that would be colored forever by our loss. The disconnection to special events instead ties my memory of her death to jokes and laughter so strong we cried with laughter:

It was spring, sometime in the mid to late 1990's. She was telling me about a time when she looked out her back window one night and saw a horrible, ugly, huge, rat-like thing, clumbering along the back yard fence.

"Oh, that sounds like a possum," I said. She looked at me with eyes wide and eyebrows raised.

"I feel sorry for possoms," I continued. "They hybernate all winter, then in spring they come wake up and come out all groggy, and all they want to do is find a member of the opposite sex and, you know... and they stagger out into the street and WHAM get hit by a car."

She dissolved in laughter, tears and all, for minutes.

Finally, she lifted her head up and said, gasping, "If..... you ever hear that I died.... and it was because I was hit by a car..... You'll know what happened..."

And we both exploded, laughing so hard tears came down our faces.

Another time, we were sitting there again, and my father-in-law went by off to his office or somewhere. She tossed a nod at him to make sure I knew who she meant, and said: "I'm just leading him on." I said, "Oh?"

"Yeah. As soon as I find Mr. Right, I'm out of here."

Me, too, Momma, right behind you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Introduction: What Am I?

I am an empathic metamorph - a description given to a charactor in an episode of Star Trek Next Generation. Who I am and how I feel varies depending on who I am with. I get along with just about anyone.

I also somehow recognize, respond to, and reflect back to a person their own good traits. I used to think of this as an ability to see the truth about people, but modified that when I came into contact with some truly evil people - I found myself shutting down emotionally, and somehow to them I became invisible.

Hence my description of myself as a mirror. Mirrors reflect light. Darkness is the absence of light, so I can't reflect that, though I can show it by virue of a lack of reflection.

Also, we can only see our own faces as reflections - we can never look directly into our own eyes, we can only see our faces as reflections from another object separate from us.

It's interesting to be a mirror interacting with people. One person looks directly at me and I respond to them - they see something of themselves. Two people can see each other indirectly in my presence: I show them each something of the other.

But it is also a lonely thing. Is there a 'me' in the mirror when no one else is there?