Monday, March 29, 2010

Mom and Nan.

Me, on Friday: Ooh! Let's toast to Nancy Pelosi! Today is her 70th birthday!

Mom: Oh, I was going to send her a text!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Note from Florida...

My mother, on Representative John "HELL NO YOU CAN'T" Boehner... "Oh, I think he's a drunk!" And she was delighted that while it's supposed to be pronounced Bey-ner, in my house, it is pronounced much more phonetically.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I read aLOT of op-ed columns, from blogs to newspapers, from magazines to emails from my friends that are eloquently written defenses of their opinions. And usually, they preach to the choir. It's not a surprise when I agree with Nicholas Kristof, say, of the New York Times... although lately, I've been agreeing with David Brooks too, and that's quite a shock, let me tell you.

However, Timothy Egan's recent op-ed called "The Purists" was a shock to the choir, and I reveled in his energetic and passionate pragmatism so much, that I have to share it with you. (Yes, passionate pragmatism... it exists!)

The best quotes are here, and a link below if you want to read it all:

Ah, to be among the true believers, breathing only the clean air of sanctimony. Nothing is ever done, no lives improved, no laws passed. No messy deals tarnished by the poison of compromise. The public hates you — every poll shows that voters want both sides to legislate with a mix of ideas. But, oh, how good it must feel to be right all the time.

For most of his career, Kucinich has been a snow-white liberal. And it shows: after his nearly 14 years in Congress, his accomplishments could not fill the toe-end of a sock.

If Kucinich had gone ahead as promised with a “no” vote, it would not have an asterisk next to it. It would simply be another no, putting him in league with Michele Bachmann, John Boehner and other congressional defenders of the costliest, most inefficient and least accessible health care system in the Western world.

Reality is always a problem for purists.
Read the whole thing here and if you are in the minority with me as a progressive-liberal, perhaps you will also feel the scorn and power of Egan's words. I wonder what will happen today on the Hill...

Saturday, March 20, 2010


When you know someone really well, you can interpret their statements to find the truth... such as, "you know, that girl in the movie that I didn't like when we saw it on Thanksgiving but then I saw it again and did? That actress?"

In the same vein, John just brought home bread from "Subway Bakery."

Which I can accurately identify as Grand Central Bakery.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I disagree:

with anyone who thought "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was good. (I know this does not come as surprise, but, well, yeah.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Annette Fantasy.

Do you know the story of Annette Funicello? She was 12, and in her school "Swan Lake" production in Burbank, Walt Disney saw her perform and picked her to be a Mouseketeer - and she went on to become one of the most popular TV stars on the show.

Perhaps you are too steady and mature to have ever had an Annette fantasy... where you're performing in a play, or even just walking down the street, and a casting director decides you are PERFECT FOR THE ROLE, and your life changes in the blink of an eye with, ahem, precious little work on your part.

I've had my share of Annette daydreams, and I suppose they fit the usual bill - when I performed in the 6th grade play, when I went to the state Geography Bee, when Kathleen Kennedy came to the theater I worked at in college for a film premiere of hers - of being selected at random, for no reason, to fulfill a great destiny.

Walking this past weekend on a lovely spring afternoon to the grocery store, I slowed down in front of the house I always slow down in front of, which has been for sale for 18 months or more, and is the perfect Craftsman with a big yard, a fireplace, it looks small from the front but is actually quite spacious and large, and sighed. I had an Annette moment. Maybe someone would say to me, "Oh, do you love this house?" And I would be able to answer, "Oh I've loved it since I moved to this neighborhood nearly four years ago. I would make it such a happy house with BBQs and Christmas decorations, gardens and music, gatherings and neighborliness!"* And they would say, "Then you shall have this house! For the enormous down payment of zero, because you are so worthy!"

It's funny - and I know it is - but it's dangerous too. When this type of entitlement attitude, this type of "above the rules" feeling goes too far, then grandiosity and isolation from my fellow man isn't far behind.

But hey, maybe the owners of the house are reading, and I can wish, right? For it is a fine distraction from the bore of plunking away money, week after week, into the savings fund that'll get me to that house, some house, eventually.

(*This house/Annette moment is also a nod for those Anne Shirley-lovers who read the blog, and how she secured the rental at Patty's Place by so loving the home and honestly vowing to not change its name.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A name forever mispronounced.

In high school, there was a girl one year older who was quite a good writer, and her name was Maria. It was the old British spelling of "Maria" -- which is pronounced like "Mariah." She once wrote a great poem about how the days of the Romantics were over, and she'd never be a dreamy, swooning delicate English rose; she'd just be a name forever mispronounced.

My deaf neighbor was left a note by our property manager last week. My neighbor has lived here for over two years, and the manager lives here on-site, one of the 15 apartments. The note was left for "Jessica" but my neighbor's name is "Jeska".

I wish I could find a copy of that poem, and maybe it would make her smile!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


In case you have neither the time or inclination to go to church, I thought I'd deliver the most powerful sentence from today's sermon. The sermon was entitled "Making Our Inner and Outer Lives Whole" and I present my slightly-paraphrased version of what I thought was the most striking comment...

When we choose not to listen to our inner voice, when we choose not to take the downward, inward journey into spirit, then we label the things that burst forth in our lives as Fate.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Harder, better, faster, stronger.

To quote Kanye, that is.

Among the very few Red State Republican reactionarys I know personally, I have attempted to calmly use this argument to sway them toward liberal educated elitists... I say, Well, do you want your doctor to be a pal? To be like you? *I* would rather my doctor be way, way smarter than me, even if that means he might make me feel stupid once in a while. I want him to be a genius. Same goes for my President; do I want him to be on par with me intellectually? No way! I want him to be able to solve problems I can't. To think through things that leave me winded.

It is in this vein that I cheerfully left a meeting with my investment rep (watch out, world, I have a few hundreds of dollars! holla!) yesterday who was a year younger than me, owns a home in Lake Oswego and runs an Edward Jones branch all by himself. He was PERFECT. I realize I can't erase the Republicans of the world because I will still always want one to manage my retirement fund.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Point. Counterpoint.

As I understand my new job better, and as I keep going to church, an internal battle gets fueled. Chatting a few thoughts on it may help clarify the warriors.... I'm calling the armies Sanctuary versus Compassion.

Point: Sanctuary. The devastation in Haiti was difficult to read about, but for me, in many ways, it was no more difficult than reading about life in Haiti before the quake. Women there have made, and after the quake probably still make, cookies. Out of dirt. DIRT. So that empty stomachs can at least feel full, and it broke my heart before tectonic plates broke it further.

I point this out because I didn't think of rushing to Haiti because while I might have imagined wiping fevered brows, delivering food, helping people... I would do it only if I could sleep on a cot or in a bed at night, only if I had a working toilet to use, only if I had a hot shower every couple days, only if I were living in some manner at least close to that which I am accustomed. I couldn't share 12 toilets with 6,000 other people, as some of the camps are. I feel guilty about this, and yet, my late friend Cody would remind me not to compare my problems or perspective to someone else's problem or experience.

The Sanctuary point is that I need silence, stillness. I need quiet sleep. I need to be alone in my comforting, comfortable home. I need to leave the world behind me and recharge my batteries. I might feel guilty about having these needs - but not guilty enough to ignore them!

And sometimes, in this Sanctuary, I complain. About everything. Big and small, personal and global, sometimes I need to vent and rant and cry and most of all... I need to write it off. "It"? The subjugation of women, the overuse of antibiotics, the slaughter of dolphins, frozen political landscapes, shrimp farms ruining the coastlines of Thailand. I need to sit back and complain, know I can't effect any kind of change, and take some comfort in this: it's not my responsibility, alone, to fix the world. I need to give up, drop out, and disengage. Not letting it in helps me protect my heart from further hurt.

Counterpoint: Compassion. When did closing myself off ever truly protect me from further pain? And I go to this job now everyday where tens, dozens, hundreds of people with causes, missions, CRUSADES! want time with The Someone who yields legislative power. They want to stop animal testing, they want funding for diabetes, they are planting a garden at a high school and need help. They're raising money for Iraq war veterans, they're putting on a 6th grade play about climate change, they have a new college scholarship for children of single parents.

They have a passion for their community - be it Bernese Mountain Dog lovers or parents of autistic children or ESL educators. These micro-communities, within the community of Portland, overwhelm me. When I extrapolate it out to the micro-Portland-communities within the Northwest, the country, the hemisphere and beyond...

I literally have been laying awake a bit before bedtime these past two weeks, allowing this desire for change, work toward a better world, love and good works flood me. Yes, it is overwhelming. It is truly overwhelming to contemplate all that needs to be done - and how many everyday folks are contributing. It is hard, too. It's harder for me to learn about a debt relief plan for poor countries; it's easier to write the planners off as powerless volunteers who won't get the ear of the Senate Finance Committee. It's easier to sit back and tune out; it's always easier for me to say no.

I started by asking if Compassion or my need for Sanctuary is winning the mental battle. It's Perfect Compassion of course, isn't it? I always, always choose the harder path because I believe it will be the right decision for me. But what I also see now is that the real battle is how to fold Sanctuary into Compassion; how to recharge so that I can continue the work of opening my heart. Learning, listening, acting, engaging. "Community" can be such a wimpy word, but oh my, it isn't. Right now, it's all there is.