Friday, September 24, 2010



"little boxes on the hillside
little boxes made of ticky tacky
little boxes on the hillside
little boxes all the same" 

...“Are you happy with the box you’ve placed YOURSELF in?” my friend asked me today over coffee.

I was rambling on about boxes and how I didn’t like the pre-folded ones that come with most stereotypes. So she challenged me with this question. I love that.

I get all twisted up over classification boxes often used to describe a larger group of individuals, because it’s difficult to fit anyone REAL in those pre-fabs. They’re usually too narrow — or just the opposite: overly roomy; made for way too many over-generalizations.

No one person would fit comfortably in any of those without banging around; knocking into all the pre (ill?)-conceived notions, let alone entire nations. We see this played out today with devastating clarity, as we watch current events unfold. 

It is difficult to process, when you find yourself/your country placed into a crate of misunderstanding and hatred so big, the issue becomes about the box itself — you, lost somewhere inside trying to get out.

Yet I find all day long we either are steered or walk on our own volition into these wide-sweeping categorizations. It makes me uncomfortable when I find myself being encapsulated or me being the "encapsulater." Don’t do that — in either case.

As the election looms, I'll jet out and declare my position — I don’t like the wide sweeping inclusions with the words “Republican,” or “Democrat.” I find values in either to which I relate, and many things in both to which I don’t. (Yet the term “Independent” seems too vague.). I believe in the structure our founding fathers created, and in the notion of balance. I try to navigate through all the noise to find that for myself. 

When I watch two major parties  desecrate each other in an attempt to place their weighty box on top in a power struggle, I wonder which one will get there, and think one or both is bound to topple, and take my individuality with it. I do believe strongly the answer rests in the great variety of we, the people. Not in any one person, or leader.

With all my misgivings about boxes,  I didn't respond directly to the question my friend posed — at first. I drifted off into an entire MAZE  of box-related analogies. Eventually (after changing the subject as a tactic to allow myself time to think) I rejoined her with something like this:

“I guess I like the box I made for myself right now, but ask me again in a few years. My box just may look different then.”

(P.S. My husband’s response to this post was typically rational; providing a perspective balancer to my often tippy canoe. He pointed out that stereotypes, while often broad-reaching and damaging, aren't ALL necessarily bad, or dangerous. They are a way to process and filter; while still being able to function and move forward. Food for thought.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


If we don’t actively pursue our dreams, where do they go?

Do they dissipate, or do they simply morph. Or are they shelved somewhere in our psyche, so that if we were to really go looking, we would find them again. Dust them off. Put them back onto the shelf to once again consider.

Is the answer, “ALL OF THE ABOVE?”

Dreams, like clouds, float along across our life’s sky. At times we can see the shape of them. Other times, they turn against us, and we get wet or knocked in between the eyes with big, hard, “Snap out of it, you idiot” ball of hail.

Perhaps we wake up one day and feel the heavy fog of them lingering from visiting us in our sleep. They still feel real, if only for a moment.

Or maybe they’re shadows. Depending on the time of our lives, they are either ahead of us leading the way or trailing behind, as we struggle to pull them along, long or short in stature.

I challenge you to visit one dream, wherever it is. You kept it close for a while, but put away for safe keeping. Is it still there? Can you see it? Does it need to come out and play?

Maybe today’s the day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Signals. Sometimes I miss them, or it takes two our three iterations before I take notice. It happens. We’re all busy; distracted by our daily dozen lists — a dozen loads of laundry; bills to pay; places to be at once.

So when someone pops into my thoughts with whom I haven’t communicated in a while, it takes me a minute, or even a second (third?) prompt to act on my impulse — to pick up the phone and say, “Hi;” or to write a quick e-mail.

In fact, I’m really good at thinking of the top ten reasons to NOT pick up the phone or send the e-mail. I can be really awkward, or again, distracted. And then I feel badly because the conversation might not go the way I imagined.

I guess the same goes for interfacing in person.

Not all conversations end well. That was a particularly poignant statement a former employer of mine

made to me. Not all conversations end well. That’s tough for me to swallow, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with it.

Which makes it easier, I guess, to reach out and begin a conversation, even if I’m uncertain of the outcome.

I’ve had a lot of discussions this week. I guess more than usual, otherwise maybe I wouldn’t have noticed or thought so much about them. It’s been one of those weeks.

Every conversation is an opportunity to make connections — new ones, old ones, broken ones. Whatever the case, conversations are a worthwhile pastime, though not always easy. And not always fun.

So don’t shy away. Go ahead. Make eye contact. Connect. Be heard. Ask the question. What you have to say may just make a difference in someone’s life, their day, or maybe even your own.

I hope you're well. Write back. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Fall’s here, and I LIKE it. I wake up with new purpose and more viv. Somehow marking the end of summer doesn’t make me sad. It makes me feel more ENERGIZED.

I know I’m not alone here. There was a poll on CBS SUNDAY last week, and many, especially parents, celebrate this season. It centers around a return to school for the kids, cooler weather and all things colorful and good tasting; not necessarily in that order. This year I’ve added the new TV season into my cause for anticipation. I actually look forward to a couple of shows (which is not the usually the case), and they’re all racked and stacked in my DVR list.

WEEDS returned. So I finally sucked it up and subscribed to Showtime to see the series first run, instead of waiting for the freebies on Netflix. I burned through all six seasons that way late last winter. The show’s writers seem particularly skilled at taking stereotypes on a rollercoaster ride through twists and turns. And the actors take it all the way to a ridiculously funny, black tunnel kind of a full tilt boogie.

I wonder, though, if this is the season it “jumps the shark.” My husband uses this phrase to describe a program one season past its prime. It’s a reference to an episode of HAPPY DAYS when you just knew it was over. Fonzie literally jumped a shark. It’s a perfect way to swiftly sum that affliction up.

For me the surprise hit of the season is THE BIG C with Laura Linney. I guess I worked in theater just long enough to feel compelled to search out the good roles and appreciate them when they come around. She’s amazing in this one. I imagine if acting was my craft, I’d die for this role. But that’s just it.

It’s about dying — and knowing it. So this perplexes me.

I watched it last night and found myself completely supporting and celebrating Kathy’s (Linney’s character) erratic behavior; sort of yearning myself to act it out, figuratively or maybe literally. She does and says all the things you think about doing and saying but decide otherwise for a variety of reasons. And I keep wondering, why do we wait until our life is fading fast to let it all out?

I’m not sure. And I’m not sure how my friends who have been through “The big C” or something similar feel about this show. Some of them aren’t here to respond. So I’m left wondering if any of this is valid to their experience. I lost a dear friend a while ago to a very quick and ultimately lethal bout of cancer. I’m not sure she had any time to revel.

We lived overseas at the time. I learned and experienced her illness through e-mail. My husband was deployed, and I’d just had my third child. My baby didn’t yet have a passport. I didn’t make it back, and I really didn’t get to say goodbye. It happened so quickly. I visited her husband and family later that year.

I wonder if my friend Jen had any time to reflect and work it all out, like this character does; ordering just dessert and drinks for dinner. I know she worked on sort of a reference book for her children to remember her by. She also had a hat party when she lost her hair. Jen left life with the same grace by which she lived it. And she planned everything.

My dad’s passing wasn’t so swift, and I’ve come to believe he got lost in this illness. Or we stopped seeing him through it. This I will regret forever. And there are others. Some had no time to reflect, let alone acknowledge the end of their life.

Maybe that’s way I’m so intrigued by the show. It’s a way to remember loved ones lost. I’d like to think they had moments of total, uninhibited release. It also makes me wonder how I might behave, given the same fate.

Of course, if we all tossed our inhibitions to the wind, we’d lose our sense of order. Or would we? And maybe if we just explored this a little now while we're here indefinitely, we’d all feel just a little bit more alive this season, as well as the next...

Friday, September 3, 2010


I’ve been absolutely absent as of late. A couple of you have written to let me know you miss my posts. That makes me feel good, and I’m grateful for your encouraging words. I guess I've been on a syllable sabbatical: flitting and floating; packing and going; drinking and dining. But mostly — just sort of on an ongoing vacuous vacation (apparently one of the side effects is shameless alliteration).

If not gone physically, then I've definitely been away mentally. You see, I’ve taken up a whole new past time. I read trashy vampire serial novels by J.R. Ward. (Admission/confession is the first step to recovery, right?) They don’t even rank in the “summer read” category. Or at least they didn’t in my mind, but my standards recently changed.

In June my sister schlepped the mother load to me on a visit from Chicago, and while I at first pushed the books to the side of my nightstand with a whiff of high disregard, I eventually acquiesced, and they’ve been my constant companions of late. I think I’m on my fifth or sixth one, now. They’re soft porn for the sexually less deviant. The main characters have names like Wrath, Revhenge and Phury.

I know, right? I confessed to my sister mid-way through the first read that I was utterly unimpressed and a little more than judgmental until I got to the sex parts. My “core” (to which a woman’s sexual center for business is often referred) responded. I got hooked on all that manhood.

So yeah. I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. I’ve been busy in between the sheets ... there’s a lot of paper to flip through in these chapters. When people ask me what I've been up to this summer, I mostly respond with the standard stuff; recounting our family car trip extravaganza, or maybe I'll throw in some good recounts of our sensational swim team season. But in the back of my mind, I'm just giddy about my latest reading frenzy. I wish it was of a more impressive bent, I do.

My husband is more than slightly bemused. I'm on the receiving side of endless gibing from him; especially from cover art and titles like, "LOVER ENSHRINED." He's right! I mean, really, how does one defend the principle of great prose behind these particular paperbacks?

I thought I was over the whole vampire thing. I didn't even go to the second Twilight cinema installment, even though I read all the books; one after the other. I turned away from my trip to teenland without much introspection. Hmmm .... that was two or three summers ago ... slippery slope ... glass houses. Yep. I've shattered any and all self-image constructs of purposeful pursuit of higher culture.

Happy Labor Day. I guess this is the book end to my last post.