Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Price for this Life?

Strange day today. I have the appraiser coming over to go through all my sister's things and put a price tag on it for tax purposes.

Feels odd to have your whole life summed up in a number.

I was talking to her the other day. There is not a day that goes by where she is not in my thoughts. All the frustration over her complete disorganization has passed. I miss her sense of humor the most. The boys found a book light the other day that had the inscription, "The Light of the Lord" on it.

I don't miss the Lord stuff. I know it was a big part of her life at the end. I know it gave her comfort. Just don't miss having to listen to God's will and forcing myself not to roll my eyes.

Okay, I did roll my eyes. Often.

She really was the only person in my life who could make me laugh so hard I peed my pants. I miss that.

The other day I was asked a security question for my credit card. I had been buying things online and I never buy things, so they wanted to be sure it was me. They asked, "Who is the nearest relative to you?"

I froze. I realized I have no relatives. My wife is only considered my wife in Massachusetts- a stranger as far as the federal government is concerned. I said, Catherine Whitman.

It passed. But it made me feel so very alone.

Today I will see one way in which a life is measured. By things and the price of those things.

And I know my sister was worth much more than anyone will ever know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Marilyn Davenport, a CA GOP official, sends out a picture of two chimps and Obama's face pasted on the "baby" chimp and states, "Now you know why there is no birth certificate."

Stunning. I mean, there have been a lot of racist slurs and pokes but this one takes the cake.

No, she will not resign. Don't we have a sense of humor? Cute monkeys, right?

Really, Marilyn?

Does this mean you believe in evolution as opposed to creationism?

Politics, unfortunately, is about slinging mud. Always has been, always will be. However, there are times it goes too far. I am waiting for a senior GOP person to step up and say this was wrong and demand her resignation.

Otherwise, we are in for a long, long ride before we get to pull the ballot levers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catch a Grenade

You know that song on the radio, I'll catch a grenade for you... I think the artist is Bruno Mars. I was listening to it on the radio driving home today and thought, yup. That's my story. I'll catch a grenade for you but will you catch one for me?

Probably not even a softball tossed if you're wearing a glove and the ball was lobbed lightly.

Since it's a song theme, and an often song theme, I guess I'm not alone.

But why? Why do I put myself in the position of doing anything and everything for some people only to be handed back a less than enthusiastic response?

Now stepping in front of a train for my babies? Oh yes. No question. Now, tomorrow, forever. They are my children. It's what parents do. Well, except for the few that drive them into the river.

Maybe, even then, there is some warped sense of saving them.

I think about President Obama and how he's catching grenades every day. Do we love him back the same way? Nope. We want more, we deserve more, we expect more. We have no patience for him to have a bad day or bad decision.

He is the President. Part of the job description must be, "thankless hours of hard work..."

He's not been perfect. Not even remotely but then, neither am I. I whine too much, too often. About 20 years ago, my sister gave me a sign that says, "Thou Shalt Not Whine." I still have it hanging in my bedroom.

Sometimes, I think we liberals need to all have that sign hanging somewhere to see. For the first time in... well... forever, we have a President who is addressing issues never touched before. Third rail politics, meaning, if you touch it, you're dead.

Health care. Gay rights- a hate crime bill passed, DADT repealed, and countless changes for LGBT federal employees.

Is it enough? No. But when I think of the other side being at the helm, I feel myself ready to catch a grenade for Obama.

Of course, I'm all over catching grenades.

Maybe it's time to be a little more choosy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Note to my Students

Okay, we are doing blog writing in class and I'm sure about half of you have looked up this blog and are now reading it.

A couple words about blogs... they are not for bashing people. Nothing you ever say on the internet is anonymous. Be thoughtful because your words will travel with you, even if that friend of yours is a real jerk and totally blew you off and deserves to be called out for it.

Don't. Trust me. Don't.

Blogs are not for shameless self promotion. (Um, have you read my Huffington Post pieces? Huh? Huh?) Okay, they are to a degree. But be honest, too. Otherwise people will delete the bookmark from your page. I've told you to be kind with yourselves in your personal reviews- I meant it. Add a dash of humility, too.

Readers like that. It rings true. Reader like honesty.

Each one of you has a unique perspective. You come from 16 different countries, are all different ages, some with previous degrees, some fresh from high school. Keep a sense of humor, never let the negative comments get you down, and always delete any links to porn sites.

Your mother may read it. Never forget that your mother may read it and show all her friends. Before you hit publish post, think, do I want my mother/pastor/best friend/sibling/kindergarten teacher/significant other to read this?

If you pause, the answer is no.

Stalkers are real. I've had people call my house and tell me what to write about. It's a little unnerving but for the most part, harmless.

Remember what I've taught you about framing. No one wants to hear about what you had for lunch. But I recently wrote about having lunch and the conversations that were happening around me.

(Okay, frequent readers don't need to comment if they thought that piece was boring. Shhh. I'm teaching here.)

And people do love to hear about success, happiness and good things. They will hold the bad stuff with you, no question but don't pull an Angela's Ashes and kill yet another baby. Life is hard enough.

Besides, your mother/pastor/best friend/sibling/kindergarten teacher/significant other need stuff to brag about, too.

Be honest. Be real. And have fun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

So True

Thanks, Pete.

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Comfort Zone

A friend went to the Chihuly exhibit this weekend and sent me a photo with the caption, "Don't touch."

Indeed. No touching the Chihuly.

I have always loved modern and abstract art. It comes from having been raised around my mother's collection of some of the strangest things. Like a giant photo of xrays of irises. Very ... interesting.

What I realize I look for are patterns in the absolute definition of none.

Funny, because I rarely see them in my own life. Part of what I've been holding is a new awareness of patterns. Seems I have done a very good job of weaving the familiar, regardless of it's effectiveness, into my life.

People do tend to the comfort zone, and I am no different. But why, when the comfort zone ain't so comfortable?

I am going to the Chihuly exhibit here in Boston this weekend. I will ooo and ahhh.

And I will look for patterns.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sharing the Journey

Jake turned 11 yesterday. I can't believe my baby is 11.

I've been gone a long time. I'm sorry. I've been trying to hold in all that has been going on for me. Sit with it. Consider it.

Jake is a beautiful little boy. Ooops, young man. He wants to shave. He could, mind you, but we've been trying to tell him to wait as long as possible.

Being young is so hard. You always want to be older than you are. When you're old, you simply want to be young. Is anyone satisfied?

I've come to realize I've replicated my youth in my adulthood. It is something I'm writing a great deal about.

Yes, I have been writing.

Blogging is an interesting outlet for me. I get to say my deepest feelings to people near and far. I am the most honest when I write in this space.

There are times, when I cannot be that honest.

Forgive me.

Obama is seeking re-election. Japan is a tragedy. Libya is stunning, as well as the whole Middle East. I will write about those things. As always, with a touch of my personal experience.

But I realize I must hold some things in. I must hold them till they hurt.

I have been. Eventually, I will share that journey. I simply cannot right now.