Thursday, November 17, 2016

Paradox Alley

Just three nights ago, my beautiful husband and my loving dad, sat on these two lounge chairs and stared up at the sky.  They were watching the SuperMoon together (and, no, it's true, I don't know if SuperMoon is one word with capital letters detailing the awesome, but that's how it looks in my mind!).  They talked for maybe an hour?  I'm guessing, because my mom and I were just inside sorta watching tv, and we could hear them.  Just barely.  Their voices sounded loud enough, but the doors and the tv background noise made it so it was just like the adult voice murmer in charlie brown animations.  (if you don't know what i'm talking about, go watch one immediately and you'll understand.  i like to think that those of you who do know what i'm talking about are laughing hysterically or chuckling quietly, maybe explaining to their own kids what that sound my adult life, my friends and family and I still get a lot of use out of the reference)

And as I write this now, it seemed to become a relevant reference.  Okay, here goes:
the adults in the Charlie Brown movies/tv shows/ specials were voiceless.  yeah, sure, they had grunts and mumbles to represent, but, really, straight up, no words were spoken or understood.  It was kinda awesome.  But we didn't even talk about it til we were teenagers, friends and family.  Even in the comic strip (of which, and this is totally off topic, i had all the compendiums!), the adult was always in the other room, out of sight, out of sound.

SO, here I sat, listening to their sounds, pierced every once in awhile with a hearty, real laugh, and I was glowing.  I actually recognized the numerous emotions going on at once!

And I knew I'd survive our newest President.  In that moment, I was aware that LOVE trumps hate.

Seems a strange connection, but the country is just emerging from this icky truth, this radical realization, the take-over of the country--
{whoops! rabbit hole.}

I was feeling gratitude and love and childhood memories were going on and I was so happy that I married a man that enjoyed my family;  that I have a family that is awesome and connected and look out for each other and yet totally disagreed when it came to this election --I'm not saying they voted for the now president-elect, but i do know they were quite adamantly not voting for HRC-- arguments ensued-- and yet, even still, my beautiful, loving, awesome life partner is able to see past that and accept my beautiful, awesome, loving family like his own because that is who we are together and that is what's important while we are on this earth:  give and give, live and let live, surround yourself with love.

I'm lucky.  I'm aware of that.  And my goal is to recognize the gratitude and the smiles and even the smallest moment of sheer happiness, to be able to move forward and give back.

Just before the moon rose, we all walked outside and watched the sun set, searching for the green flash (we've heard and some of us have even claimed, there's such a thing as a green flash right when the sun hits the horizon).  I've been coming home for 46 years.  I can feel, especially in today's world, the awesome, pure luck that this reality is.   It's these moments...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Changing the work we do

When I finally found "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, I'm pretty sure after everyone else had found, read, devoured or destroyed it, I soared on the words and thoughts and feelings. I copied down the sentences that resonated and I bought a copy for each of my three best friends.
None of them loved it like I did. I raved and swooned and gushed to each of them about how amazing it was and it was going to change their very thinking and they wouldn't be able to get it out of their heads. I was wrong. They didn't agree. And I didn't even mind. I was clear about what I got out of that book and I was thrilled it spoke to me the way it did. I actually felt bad for them, for not getting out of it the juice that I got!
I spent a lot of years feeling sheepish about what I liked. But as I've gotten older, I realize that's a waste of time. I often feel extreme about certain things: books, songs, movies, articles in the newspaper... the littlest things can make me sob or laugh out loud or dance down the street without a care who's looking. Years ago, I remember lamenting to a friend of mine that the intense lows I would feel just seemed to be excruciating when they came and he reminded me that we were the kind of people that were lucky to feel intense lows, because it allowed us to also feel the intense highs!
It used to be important to me to be one of the same: someone that liked the same fancy wine as others or read the high-brow books listed in the book review, or know the names of someone everyone seemed to know about... now, I don't care. I'm not embarrassed when I don't know something, I'm happy to learn about it. I'm not curtailed by my lack of taste, or blush at my awkward stares. I'm interested. I'm curious. I'm out there. I'm observant. And I hate pretending, in all it's forms.
So, when I read the author Miss Gilbert's facebook post recently where she came out with some pretty big news, that clearly is a major life change and she wrote that she could no longer pretend because...
"Pretending is demeaning, and it makes you weak and confused, and it's also a lot of work. I don't do that kind of work anymore."
I was extremely moved. I agree completely. I don't do that kind of work anymore either.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reading, (a)Loud

I am a LOUD reader.
No, I don't read aloud.  Well, not usually (we'll get into that in a minute...) but when I read, to myself, I am loud.  My head is inside a newspaper, but my voice is on the other side of the room.  Like a parishioner at a southern Baptist church,  out of my mouth come a a whole lot of "uh HUH's!" and "AMEN's!" and quite a few unintelligible "mmh, mmh, mmph's!"  It's involuntary.  I can't help it.  In fact, most of the time, I don't even realize I'm doing it.

Until, that is, someone else is in the room with me and then it can't be ignored.  I'm overcome with emotion.  I'm living the story I hold in my hands.  And while I am completely immersed, those around me are bound to know how I feel about these stories they can't see.  It's hard to ignore someone gasp, grunt, moan, and even let out an "I cannot BE-lieve it!" in what is usually a fairly quiet setting.

Growing up I spent a lot of time lost in the world of books.  Whether I was in the library or in the bathtub or on a long car ride, I have always been able to get completely inside of a well written story. Heck, I can even loose my way in a poorly written but extremely suspenseful or romantic or adventurous or comical story.  In many of these cases, it would be no surprise to those who know me to somehow (finally) get my attention and have me raise my head only to find the story played out on my face:  tears, anger, fear.  I felt it all from the words on the page.

This translated into my adult life while reading the newspaper.  About three years ago, RK purchased a subscription to the New York Times, Sunday issue for my birthday.  Best.  Gift.  Ever.  I read it end to end, every single page.  It usually takes me about a week.  And in that week, I ride the rollercoaster of national and international news as if the stories are actually happening to me at that moment.  The sighs, the tears, the "ohmygosh!'s" are all there, every week.  It was actually RK who pointed this "loud" readership out to me.  It wasn't that he'd ask me what I was reading about, it was just him giggling after I emoted.  I would look up at him and say, "what?" and he would describe all the sounds coming from my corner of the room.  So, I would proceed to draw him into the drama.  I had to tell him all about what I had been reading, what I had learned about the people in Syria, or the transgendered youth in New Orleans, or the Indian transplant cabdriver in Iran, or the woman who lost her child, or...on and on and on...

And that is where the (sometimes i DO) read aloud comes into this story.  I started reading the stories to RK because I didn't think he'd get around to reading them himself.  I had told him so much, I thought, I may as well just read the actual article to him at that point.  I was in it at the moment!  I couldn't help but take on the story as if I was now reporting it to my audience.

{The irony of this is that I do NOT like being read to.  AT ALL.  It dates back to my days in kindergarten.  By the time I entered those hallowed halls, I could already read.  And, as most people know, it's very common for an elementary school teacher to read to her students...
Most kids love it!
It drove me crazy.
I can absolutely love an author!
I would never go to a reading.
I don't do books on tape.
If RK tries to read something to me, I completely zone out.}

It is here I must admit, this reading aloud thing, I may get it from my father:  
My dad is awake before anyone else in the house.  By the time the rest of us crawl out of bed and wash our face, he's already read the entire daily news;  he has categorized the paper into sections for each of us (sports for RK, calendar and funnies for me, travel section for mom) and before we can dig in, coffee and toast at the ready, eyes finally open, excited to Pop proceeds to tell us, in semi-remembered details, every single story he's sure we're going to enjoy!

I usually drift off and can't stop myself from slowly looking down at the paper in front of me and begin to read.

What is it about getting lost in the words that just doesn't translate if someone else, other than my own mind, takes over that page...?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

This Election Cycle

President Obama recently spoke at the Toner Prize Ceremony, held for Excellence in Political Reporting.  It recognizes the best national or local political reporting in any medium or on any platform—print, broadcast or online.  This is just a small excerpt from that speech.
 "As I’ve said in recent weeks, I know I’m not the only one who may be more than a little dismayed about what’s happening on the campaign trail right now.  The divisive and often vulgar rhetoric that's aimed at everybody, but often is focused on the vulnerable or women or minorities.   The sometimes well-intentioned but I think misguided attempts to shut down that speech.  The violent reaction that we see, as well as the deafening silence from too many of our leaders in the coarsening of the debate.  The sense that facts don’t matter, that they're not relevant.  That what matters is how much attention you can generate.  A sense that this is a game as opposed to the most precious gift our Founders gave us -- this collective enterprise of self-government.   
And so it's worth asking ourselves what each of us -- as politicians or journalists, but most of all, as citizens -- may have done to contribute to this atmosphere in our politics.  I was going to call is "carnival atmosphere," but that implies fun.  And I think it’s the kind of question Robin would have asked all of us.  As I said a few weeks ago, some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, but all of us are responsible for reversing it. 
I say this not because of some vague notion of “political correctness,” which seems to be increasingly an excuse to just say offensive things or lie out loud.  I say this not out of nostalgia, because politics in America has always been tough.  Anybody who doubts that should take a look at what Adams and Jefferson and some of our other Founders said about each other.  I say this because what we're seeing right now does corrode our democracy and our society.  And I'm not one who's faint of heart.  I come from Chicago. Harold Washington once explained that "politics ain't beanbag."  It's always been rough and tumble. 
But when our elected officials and our political campaign become entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn’t matter what's true and what's not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations.  It threatens the values of respect and tolerance that we teach our children and that are the source of America’s strength.  It frays the habits of the heart that underpin any civilized society -- because how we operate is not just based on laws, it's based on habits and customs and restraint and respect.  It creates this vacuum where baseless assertions go unchallenged, and evidence is optional.  And as we're seeing, it allows hostility in one corner of our politics to infect our broader society.  And that, in turn, tarnishes the American brand.
     The number one question I am getting as I travel around the world or talk to world leaders right now is, what is happening in America -- about our politics.  And it's not because around the world people have not seen crazy politics; it is that they understand America is the place where you can't afford completely crazy politics.  For some countries where this kind of rhetoric may not have the same ramifications, people expect, they understand, they care about America, the most powerful nation on Earth, functioning effectively, and its government being able to make sound decisions.  
So we are all invested in making this system work.  We are all responsible for its success.  And it's not just for the United States that this matters.  It matters for the planet." 

Read Obama's speech in full, or watch the video.  It's moving, it's clear (though you may not feel it concise), he makes points I wish I had articulated and he gives me hope that there are leaders in the world like him that will continue to speak out, even if they don't always have a podium.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Linky Like That

It's happening to me all the time... I find a topic I love and I can't let, instead of writing one great piece about one great thing, I have to store them up and share them all at the same time.  It's the love/hate thing about the interwebs, the overwhelming world of information at your fingertips.  It's more than I can keep up with, more than I can write about and too much to not share.  So, here i go again, letting loose on a whole lotta links:

I'm not a fan of video games, unless you count pac man, but who counts pac man anymore?  Until I read about Yarny, I didn't think X-box games could possibly have a soul.  I've been shown the way.

When you read about someone doing something positive and they're just in their prime, well, it gives me hope for the many articles on Upworthy do.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of working with incarcerated youth.  I'm impressed by the authors that work in jails for writing programs.  And I have a good friend that started a theatre company that is now working with women behind bars.  I find it redeeming and positive and a step in the right direction, which is why I enjoyed this article about a man who owns a company and has hired past inmates for the last 14 years.

I love the band Arcade Fire and I love New Orleans and I, too, was moved by the death of David Bowie, as I think he was a genius artist and a really good person, and if you're wondering how all those things come together then you should watch this short, but powerful, little video.

I've written about Libraries and my love for them, as well as for the books themselves, the power of reading, and even a library card itself, many, many times on this blog.  I recently posted on my Instagram my love for my local LA libraries who allowed me to return my late books without a fine!! Finally, this week, I was introduced to the Human Library which may just be the absolute basis of all great library love, human contact.  I cannot wait to start checking them out...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Links I Can't Let Go Of

When I land on a website that I can't get enough of, I can't stop looking at,  I do a very bad computer-owner 'thing':  I don't close the web browser.  I don't close the tabs.  I probably keep refreshing the page and all it's info.  But I can't look away and I want to be reminded every time I open my computer, I must do something with this information.  I must share this information.  I must not lose this information.  So, without further ado, some things I've been obsessing over recently:

I love birds.  Now, I love them even more...

I also now totally understand why the ever clever Sibella Court  called her book such.

And loving birds, nature, the outdoors and a ring I've owned for years that has the H. Stern quote, "And so she comes to dream herself a tree", I've finally found my most comforting way out of this body.

While I'm here, though, I do tend to struggle with always being busy but thinking I'm not getting enough done, or thinking how I should be a minimalist because all my collections are getting in my way of being more successful.  Sure, we own the Marie Kondo book about clutter and my husband has even come to use her name as a mantra "what would marie kondo do?" or "let's marie kondo this place!"  and I get it and I'm willing to try it and I do apply a very clear statement of hers to our things: "does this (particular thing) bring joy?"  but I was happier when I found this other kind of decluttering.  It seems more up my alley.  And it has more swear words (which I like!).

I've found myself looking and listening to the words of artists and speakers and dreamers alike, many of whom have blogs and weekly newsletters, to get my soothe or my grand think on.  Here's two of my favorites:  Mark Manson & Austin Kleon.  Their websites are great and choc-full of lots of good stuff, but it's their weekly (or bi weekly) newsy emails that I really enjoy.  All the juice, condensed.

It never occurred to me that Bill Gates would keep a blog, as well.  And, damn, it's good!

I love the internet.  It's ridiculously fabulous sometimes.