Sunday, November 30, 2008

Am I Being Paranoid or is this just Christmas in DC?

Is it just me, or are the attacks on Christmas are getting more sophisticated?

At first, they were obvious. "Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings!" and the forever annoying "Xmas." No other word in the world has been substituted with a single letter for fear of offending someone's non religious sensibilities. The removal of the Christmas scenes from public square or equally desperate and inappropriate hijacking of Haunaka to make all those December religious observances the same, came next. People finally got wise and got mad when the stands by the street said, "Holiday Trees."

This year, "Merry Christmas" is back...as a gesture of good will to those practicing people who spend money. The trappings of the season festoon the malls. But the color scheme has changed.

Torn between the very real desire to have everyone mark this occasion of December 25th with a massive credit card induced hangover in January, and the fervent wish to disavow any genuine reason to be celebrating, marketers have hit upon the new guaranteed inoffensive means to deck the halls while still avoiding irritation of that atheist that lurks just around the block.

Blue and white pentagrams and lots and lots of just faint blue lights.

They're up all over town, stars that aren't religious or iconic in nature, in colors not traditionally associated with the Christmas tradition as practiced by non practicing people everywhere. The municipalities can breathe a sigh of relief, as the ACLU will not be scrutinizing them for putting up "Winter Lights."

If we complain, they'll be able to say there's no substance, no there....there.

But I say, two can play at that game. Let's hijack the secularists attempts to take over December with this blue light special. Let's ascribe religious symbolic qualities to those lights, which after all remind us of both Mary's mantle and the colors of the flag of Israel. The lights remind us of the Holy land and in this Holy season, call us all to prayer. It will annoy those who secretly root for the unreformed Grinch immensely. We could really tick them off if we publicly announce we will be reminded to pray each time we see those Winter lights.

Let's greet others with "Have a Blessed Christmas" and "Happy Advent!" until December 24th, when we can say "Enjoy a Holy Christmas Eve." If we say "Merry Christmas" with enough reverence, we will bother them because we haven't shut up and gone away to let them drink their eggnog in the bitter peace born of being surrounded with people afraid to disagree.

So Deck the Halls in that Blue and White if you wish, just tell everyone the reason. And God bless us everyone, The Lord knows we need it.

P.S. Hoping I haven't danced too close to the near occasion of sin by this post. Happy Advent!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear Paul

Dear Paul,

Thank God.

It's hard to believe you were born just two months ago. On Thursday, November 20th, we surrendered you to the good doctors and nurses of Children's hospital so they could repair a part of your heart that has been missing since before you were born. It has been a long slow walk to the day, when the surgery would make for you, a whole new heart.

You survived. As your mother, I can only say, "Thank God." Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

There are so many stories I will have to share with you as you grow older.

We went into the hospital on October 30th, not realizing yet how serious your condition was. You have been in a hospital since. Sometimes your father watched and held you, sometimes your aunt, and sometimes, it was me. Whenever I would take a break for some food or fresh air, I found myself falling into rote prayer; the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Hail Mary. Sometimes in my distraction, I merged the two. I feared saying "Thy Will be done." I feared the outcome of your story, wouldn't be what I wanted. And I didn't want to be angry or disappointed with God. I feared I would be.


Going to mass, the readings said "Ask." Friends were praying for you. Family was praying for you. Complete strangers were praying for you. I was afraid to ask.

The dull ache of knowing what might happen made me want to throw myself into the familiar comfort of taking care of my other children or writing, anything but asking. I still prayed, but I didn't dare ask.


I know when I became ready for your surgery. I know when I became able to ask and accept the answer. I know the place and the time and the moment. We were at the Hospital for Sick Children, a place for those with less than acute conditions,. The hope had been to keep you there, monitoring your heart and breathing, and allow you to grow a bit before having surgery. Within hours of your arrival there, you developed a high fever, turned gray, and your oxygen levels began to occasionally drop. Your heart was showing signs of failure. I got frantic. I was afraid. I called to the nurses and the doctor on the floor.

The doctor took my son in his arms and listened to my concerns. He ordered me to get some rest. I didn't want to, I wanted action. He told me he would watch you. That wasn't good enough I snapped. He looked at me sadly and said, "You have to trust me. I know how precious life is." His words were God's echoing in my heart. "You have to trust me. I know how precious life is." The doctor rocked my son to sleep.

We had you baptized by the visiting priest at the hospital the next day. Just as the doctors wanted your body as healthy and as ready as possible for the surgery, we wanted your spirit ready as well.

The night before your operation, the cardiologist drew a picture of your heart as it was and how it would be. It was not lost on me that what the surgeon would build in you looked like a cross. It was not lost on me that without this cross, you would die.

We watched the nurses prep you to be taken away. We joked with the anesthesiologists who gently carried you to the operating room and allowed us to kiss you several times before leaving. We could only surrender you out of necessity. Watching your bright eyes, I remembered the words. "You have to trust me."

This year Paul, we keep finding our hearts expanded. Your brothers and sisters have been wrapped in love by their extended family. I know we could not have weathered this time without them. Your Grandparents, your aunts and uncles, and your church family as well, all have helped you and our family endure this season that sometimes felt like Advent, and other times like Lent. Brothers and sisters have drawn you pictures. Your cousins have written you letters. You Paul, at two months, have been a source of warmth and comfort and wisdom to all of us. You Paul, at two months are well loved.

Over the years to come, I will have to tell you of prayer warriors in Texas and second graders in Colorado who said the rosary for you. I will have to tell you of the humor group online that included a devout reform Jew who put your name on a prayer list, and the woman with whom I had vigorous political debate, who asked her whole church of 2,500 people to pray for you. You were a witness to another mother, who suffered a crisis pregnancy that ended in death but not abortion.  You were prayed for by the sisters of Saint Paul, and your grandparents lit candles in churches all over Italy for you during the summer.I will wrap you in a hand knit blanket made by a writer in Canada I've never met and show you the 104 emails that came just today, wishing you well. We will introduce you to your parish family; men and women and children who have prayed and done carpool and provided hugs and bagels and chocolate and play dates for your brothers and sisters. All of this experience has been humbling. All of this prayer and love for you, a child few of these people have seen, and fewer have held, it overwhelms.

This multitude of prayers reflects tremendous faith. This outpouring reveals the lavish quality of God's love manifested in this whole Church, this Body of Christ. All this love for one, for you, God has for all. Paul, you continue to reveal God's love. You coming home will feel like Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter all at once. The prayers and love thus far received on your behalf, feel like a spiritual wedding feast.

So be well Paul. I ask God for you to be well. Stay with us and continue in your quiet way to remind us to thank God for all this time and for all these people. I thank God for the gift of you.

Love and prayers,

Mom

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm It!

When I was a kid, I was never any good at tag.

Having a tracheotomy made running something I did but not with any swiftness. So if I got it, I stayed it.

But cybertag is something that I've never played before.

Mighty Mom, writes a blog called "My Wonderful Life." She can really blog because she uses pictures and buttons and tags. She tagged me.

What does this mean? I went to her blog to find out.

She has this button award which I can receive if
I write six things that warm my heart.

So here goes:
1)my husband's letters. He writes like a tapestry weaver, with all these wonderful threads that by the end, he pulls together such that they create a beautiful picture. It's amazing to me and terribly elegant. I keep them all. I reread them. I melt.

2) The sincere hugs and kisses of my children. I miss them very much. I have one that pretends he doesn't want to be hugged, but he squeezes back the tightest.

3) Phone calls from my mom or dad. Visits are even better.

4) Unexpected mail or calls from friends.

5) The familiar humor and friendship of the families at our parish and school.

6) Snow falling as I sip hot chocolate.

Now, I'm supposed to tag six more people to do this. I'll have to figure out how to do that, and get my button.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beep Beep Beep Beep

We just recently purchased a twelve passenger van. It is a utilitarian vehicle to be sure, with the only bell/whistle being sensors on the back that go beep beep beep when you throw the car into reverse and there is something back there. It's a handy safety feature and I'm grateful for the added precaution against running over anything as I adjust to maneuvering what feels like a large brick on wheels. I appreciate the car's "Heads up." warning.

In real life, I'm not nearly so gracious.

Spousal esp annoys me.

Back in 1993, I decided I needed to take on a bigger challenge than mere motherhood. (I was a newbie and in to foolish notions like the idea that there is any bigger challenge). Thus, I started graduate school.

The university of my choosing was of course, three and a half to four hours of hard driving distance away. Did this stop me? No. I hired my younger brother to babysit for the day while I drove like a maniac to take classes from noon to ten at night, after which I would crash at my other brother's for the night and drive back with equal speed to return home by noon the next day once a week.

Before beginning one such journey, my beloved spouse went out of his way to say, "Take your time, watch your speed." So you know I got busted going 87 up 290 to Austin.

It took all my wifely discipline to tell him.

My poor husband, the modern day Cassandra, issued another clarion cry after our third child.

It was in January, and we got absolutely incredible beautiful weather, the kind of day that beckons everyone to be outside. We loaded up our now three children, the stroller priam, and two bikes. It took two cars. We both drove to the park with the vision of getting a bit of exercise and enjoying this unnatural gift of warm weather.

Having recently recovered from having a baby, I was feeling flabby. I wanted to work out. The park had stations for stretches and muscle tone, heart rate measurement and other nifty tips on getting fit. I decided to do them as we walked.

We were having a great time.

Then, we came to the monkey bars. Most women over 30 know better than to climb on monkey bars. But I am not like most women. For much of my adult life, I have studiously avoided common sense, even when provided helpfully by my beloved husband.

"I don't think that's a good idea Sher..." he started as I began swinging from rung to rung to...no rung. I fell. I fell hard. I tried to get up and almost blacked out from pain. I had torn ligaments in my knee which was swelling up like a grapefruit.

My husband had to marshal the kids. He took them to his car, transfered all three to their car seats and begged a soccer referee named Samuel to watch them while he returned across the soccer field past the playground to crumpled me. He then got a woman and her son and their very big dalmatian to watch over my foolish self while he made the second trip to load our second car with the tricycle, bike and collapsible stroller.

He then came back for me. Carrying me across the soccer field in his arms, he kept saying, "Please don't be hurt. Please don't be hurt...and if you're hurt, I'm really mad at you."

The next three weeks, I spent bumping down the stairs on my rump with my newest daughter in a baby carrier.

But I learned my lesson.

So this morning, when my sagacious husband said "Don't lose your keys." out of the blue, all I could think was..."Beep beep beep beep."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Paul Update

Paul is in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).

We survived the surgery.
I feel like cartwheeling and collapsing at the same time.

So what did I do to celebrate my son's getting through a difficult 4 hour surgery that will require hospitalization for the next possible five weeks?

I needed to do something different. Something mundane.

So naturally, yesterday, I bought a 12 passenger van.

You can't make this stuff up.
Cheers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Quest

Before I leave this hospital, I will successfully take a shower.

By that, I mean I will manage to perform a routine hygiene event without flooding the bathroom, and still actually get my hair washed.

It may seem strange that an adult who has survived to the age of forty-two would have difficulty managing the rather simple task of turning on and then off a spigot, but showers installed in hospitals I have discovered, are not first and foremost, showers.

They are punctured faucets to be sure, created to send heated streams of water out with some force. They do act in the capacity of showers;but their first goal is not to be a feng shui experience of getting clean. Their original intent, is to not get in the way of a doctor or nurse needing to help a patient who in the process of getting cleaned up, had trouble. The functional purpose for which they are most used, was secondary in the designer's mind.

I am sure of this.

Having wiped the equivalent of Lake Michigan off the floor following my attempt at close to Godliness with the two foot towels, I can say the towels did a better job as a mop than as anything else...like say towels.

My spare pants that were folded on top of a towel attempted to give a tutorial on what towelness should be, acting as sponge and soaking in a supernatural amount of liquid, rendering themselves unusable as pants for the day. The towel below absorbed just enough moisture to be ineffective as either a towel or pants.

It was then I had an epiphany about the towels and the shower and the couch that was a bed and failed admirably as both. Duality of purpose blunted or obliterated function. My pants were now wet towels. The towels were now soggy mops. I now struggled as
I still needed towels and pants that were not something else. The shower curtain became a robe. But as with the pants and the shower, it did the job inelegantly.

Like airline food and futons, the dual design motives had compromised any pleasure that might be derived from having a basic need met. Food on a plane is created to be given out while minimizing mess and storage requirements. Futons are designed to limit house guests to a two night stay.

Outside of the context of the experience, no one willingly embraces these objects. People don't have vinyl no cushion couches that double as beds in their home and no one says, "Hey, let's take a plane so we can enjoy the cuisine."

So, now I know the purpose of the shower, and must confront it's dual nature with my own natural stubbornness. I'm hanging my pants up on the sink and this time, I brought my own towels.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hospitably Yours

I have to tell you, right now, watching my kid breathe in and out, watching his numbers dip and rise in some cases more impressively than the stock market, I've temporarily lost my humor writing mojo.

I've tried writing six different pieces, a top ten list, a satire, a riff on hospital food, a letter to the editor, multiple pre-holiday bits. Most of it sounds forced to me, ergo, it would not be the right tone, or worse, it would not be funny.

Instead of telling stories, this past week, I've been hearing them.

On Monday, I took a walk to clear my head. I got into a conversation with a woman pushing a tiny but not chihuahua dog wrapped in a blanket in a real baby stroller.

Normally, my mind would reel with such made for blog material, but instead I engaged the woman in conversation. She was a former dancer, had lived in Afghanistan and her husband was an actor. She admitted sheepishly that she probably spoils her dog, but he's too little to keep up with her when she roller blades and she worries he'll get run over by a bicyclist or a car in DC, so this is how she protects him. She lamented the lack of energy for dance in Washington and thanked me for listening.

Then, there's last Friday, when I took a cab to my husband's office to get paperwork and hand off laundry. The man who drove my cab told me the story of his having grown up in DC, of being the oldest of nine and partially raised by his aunts. He explained that he was a poet and gave me a copy of his collection. It was pretty good stuff. The sparse prose had an airy and emotional tonal quality like a musical pulse.

Last night, when I was rechecking Paul into the hospital, a beautiful tall African American woman with red eyes watched as I gave Paul's history. She asked his name, his full name. "Catholic?" she asked. "Yes." "Me too." She told me how she took her kids to the Basilica because it was the one church they loved. How she'd promise them breakfast if they all went. I told her we bribe our kids with donuts or bagels too for good behavior.

Then she started to get a bit teary eyed and told me how her son broke his arm so badly, they had to sedate him for the x-ray. She told me this was the fourth time he'd been injured playing football, and that she was more worried about his head. She was alone.

I think she noticed that I noticed because she then added, "My husband left me this week." I didn't think I had heard her correctly. She repeated herself. "I'm so sorry." I started. She shook her head. "No. No. It's a good thing. It's a good thing." He had been on disability and didn't work, and it had become more and more difficult coming home to hear she wasn't doing enough. She told me she was glad he was gone. We agreed to pray for each other, and I managed to eek out three decades that night before getting distracted by medical reports and sleep.

The point of all these stories to me anyway, was to remind me to stay generous of heart and spirit and humble. We cannot know the life stories of those we write off at first glance. The doctor who treated Paul at HSC and held him through the night when I slept was the father of many, and a veteran, a survivor of bullets and bombs.

Taking my son from me and instructing me to trust him while I slept, he said, "I know how precious life is."

The nurse who brought Paul his medicines was the youngest of nine from a family in the Phillipenes. He was happy to have been assigned Paul.

All of our lives mirror the Joyful, Luminous, and Sorrowful mysteries if we let them. All of our lives have the capacity to teach others the graces and meanings of those mysteries by example. Only by listening and watching and really being open, do we have the opportunity to enter into the Glorious. Paul has been a vehicle for others to speak, and for his mother, to listen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Go to Island Park News!

Today's humor serving comes courtesy of my first weekly column with the newspaper, Island Park News! "Fractured Mommy Tales!"

I will now shamelessly plug...myself.
Leave a comment for them if it makes you laugh. Thanks!

I tried to make it a link but no dice. So cut and paste and I'll try to learn what I need to do.
http://www.islandparknews.com/full.php?sid=5365¤t_edition=2008-11-14



P.S. We're actually going to try to enact that plan. Don't tell Batgirl. (Scroll down to see).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Good Excuse is Hard to Find

Everywhere I am, I am distracted.

What with all the blogs to view, websites to visit, YouTube’s to watch, emails to answer, friends waiting on Face book for me to click on a fish, a crown or a Chinese New Year’s astrology symbol, I may finally catch up on the things people have wanted me to see, read, speak out for or against about, and to know…for the calendar year 1997.

Then, we add in the actual mail, the 400 plus channels on Dish, all the TV shows Tivo’ed that I haven’t watched, the one hour a day I’m supposed to exercise, the 2100 calories I’m supposed to consume in a pyramid fashion with only 15% coming from fats and the meditation/creative freeform thinking time advocated by most leading experts to prevent brain burn out and mental exhaustion, and I don’t know why I haven’t had a nervous collapse.

Today, I’m supposed to have signed six papers, read for 15 minutes with each child under the age of nine, supervised my two teens with an age appropriate parent/child bonding activity like cards or a video game and also made time for my husband and also for me. On my list of to do are five phone calls and three bills that also need my attention, a few loads of laundry and a basics grocery shop of the non negotiables, Milk, bread, diapers, chocolate, fruit and diet soda. The to-do list had already topped out at 18. I'm supposed to limit it to ten.

So when my beloved spouse asked me to be sure to feed the koi in the pool on a daily basis, I balked.

The problem is, at two weeks post-partum, I helped run a Fall Festival at my school, complete with an inflatable maze and roughly 600 people in attendance. It was a blast. However, I now have outed myself to my children. I can be organized. I can manage a large scale event. I can even, be on time.

As a result, when I say, “I don’t know if we can fit that into the schedule.” In response to a request for Karate or basketball or music lessons, there now exists a healthy level of skepticism. They’re not going to accept “We’re too busy to do that right now.” Not without a fight anyway.

Now, I’m searching for the Mommy Kryptonite excuse. It must be plausible enough for use to opt out of future obligations. So far, the few I've tried have been shot down hard.

“We can’t add gymnastics on Fridays because I’ve been asked to head up the peace negotiations for the Middle East and that will take at least three weeks worth of preparation. We’d miss a third of the classes.” "Mom," my six year old looked at me with a mixed expression of benevolence and incredulity, "We can have a carpool."

“I’m not going to the park because I have strict instructions from my doctor not to venture outdoors in temperatures below 65 degrees.” My smart toddlers looked at me, and parroted my own words. "Wear a coat."

“With the economy tanking, we’re saving all our pennies so we can buy a gallon of gas.” Here, my teens took me to task, noting that since August, the price of gasoline has dropped by more than a dollar, and that we'd save a lot more money if I stopped using the speed pass to get myself a diet coke and a twix bar every time we tanked up. Ouch.

My excuses failed splendidly, and then I thought of it, the kid silver bullet.

We can’t do it because, “Daddy said no.”

So I guess I'm feeding the fish regularly until further notice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

But Mom, This Makes Me Look CooL...Really

In getting ready to write a regular column, I revisited some of my old blog entries that never saw daylight. Now I take my writing seriously and try very hard to make sure the things I put on the blog are at least moderately edited and above all things, worth reading. However, once posted or published or sent off into the email wonderland for consideration, I don’t go back to peruse them. Because I’d “Fire and forget” carpet bomb editors with columns, I never looked back to reread any of my stuff…until now.

Going back into the blog postings of the past year is like revisiting one’s high school yearbook. It’s awkward and irritating because I know when I was in that moment, that I believed with all my heart, leg warmers and unicorns were cool and Xanadu worth watching.

Twice.

My mother did counsel against the second viewing of Olivia Newton John’s musical with Gene Kelly, but I couldn’t get past the glow of the music. She also suggested the “I Brake for Unicorns” bumper sticker for the car might be a poor choice.

Currently on my laptop, I have a file with 200 plus unicorns.

They were once sparkling and beautiful and glorious magical things that popped off the page with their dazzling brilliance. Sure they needed minor trimming, but these were inventive thoughts that deserved to be circulated amongst a broad circle of people. Now, I’m looking at these ungainly unnatural creations of mine and many seem far more monstrous than first imagined. “Why didn’t someone stop me?” I wonder.

Looking at my junior yearbook drama club picture, I'm the one with a pink bathrobe sash tied around my forehead like a headband. Maybe the fact that no one wanted to stand next to me should have been a clue.

Yeah. I know. Mom tried to stop that one too.

Now, as I trim run-on sentences and find misspelled words I have to wonder...when I send these pieces off, am I sending real unicorns or bathrobe sashes that I thought people would mistake for headbands because they were pink?

Maybe, I should call my Mom.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Canards

It’s that time of year again. Just after Halloween, someone puts on the radio and my children discover the Christmas music station. There is great rejoicing amongst the under 12 set as they discover wonder of wonders, that this station plays only Christmas music from now through January 1st, and I know at that sinking moment, there will be a news blackout in my car for the next ten weeks.

I can’t be the only one out there who has the love of Christmas almost stamped out of her by overexposure to Johnny Matthis in November. Having yuletide music before we’ve carved Thanksgiving turkey is the emotional and sentimental equivalent of speed reading the entire collection of Chicken Soup for the Soul. None of the stuff is bad really, none of it harms the psyche, but too much of it in one sitting is well, too much of it.

To my brain, we need Scrooge to convert from something or there’s no story. We need the Grinch to experience his heart growing three sizes that day. Only when it’s cold can we appreciate the hearth/heart warming qualities of a fire. Tiny Tim by himself is pure maudlin sentimentalism. Well alright, Tiny Tim even during the Christmas season is a bit over the top, but holidays and traditions have seasons, retail management decisions not withstanding. Like fruits, these seasonal pleasures taste better in their own time.

Explaining all of this in my “Mom lecture you’re supposed to remember” tone, I talk about the virtue of waiting. “Wrapping the presents rather than just handing you a toy means more.” The kids are paying attention! I go on about wanting them to long for Christmas and getting to put up more lights than the home owners association policy allows rather than just leaving the display up all the time. There are giggles from the older ones and I point out, the pleasure is coming from thinking about what they will do, not from having it already done.

One of my many parenting flaws is not knowing how to turn off the Mom spigot once it gets flowing. “I want them to anticipate getting new warm pajamas for the Christmas card picture and be delighted when Mom finally gets her act together and lets everyone make Christmas cookies.” I’m getting into a poetic revelry about the season when one of my darlings raises her hand.

“Mom?”
“Yes.”

“If you want to listen to the news instead, just say so.”
“Oh.”

My older daughter speaks up, “Yeah, we get it. Only in the night can we view the Christmas star.”

“Where’d you learn that?”
“I don’t know, it’s in one of the Christmas songs I think.”

In an act of magnanimous parenting, I deliberately turn on the radio to that station. They are playing a sentimental selection that sets my teeth on edge, followed by Santa Baby by Madonna, followed by one of those commercials for a clinic that specializes in things I don’t want to have to explain to my children…ever.

And I realize my own lecture is wrong. In these songs and the advertisements are pockets of worldly thoughts that I find far less appealing than I thought. So I ferret through the CD’s and find the Johnny Mathias Greatest Christmas hits. Placing a stack of Christmas music next to the stereo, I ignore the calendar date. It's November and I will feed their heart’s desire, as they listen happily to the strands that remind them of what is coming.

I’m just going to do it without the commercials from the radio, or me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008

I wrote this for my kids but decided to put it up here as well.

Today is November 5, 2008. Yesterday, we were Republicans. Today, we are Americans. President Elect Barrack Obama will lead our country in what is a historic presidency not simply by virtue of the color of his skin, but by the margin by which he won the Electoral College vote and the public enthusiasm he envoked.

We fought for McCain and Palin as hard as finances and time would allow, but the country was angry with President Bush. And since they could not punish him, they punished his party instead. The War on Terror, the economic crisis, the housing collapse, the failure in Katrina, all of these problems, plus a few besides, combined with the organizational network of groups like MoveOn.org and the non-stop cheerleading by the media, made the fact that McCain came close at all in the polls, an amazing accomplishment.

Most of you were asleep when Senator McCain gave a gracious concession speech. I am sorry you were not able to hear it, for I found it both healing and heartening. He was and remains an honorable man, whom I believe would have made a good president.

Our party lost. It is not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. I know for some of you, this will sting a great deal. I hope it does not put you off of politics or of fighting the good fight. If you play a sport, you know that sometimes, sometimes even when you play your guts out, you don’t win. You also know that there is always another season, and that one loss does not mean you stop loving the game or quit playing. Politics is a blood sport because people put their hearts on the line, both behind principles and people. It hurts to lose. But there will be other elections. So what is important is not to lose heart. Not to allow any frustration or irritation you have at not being on the winning side to so color your judgment that you refuse to allow yourself the possibility of feeling this pain again, by not caring as much.

The president will need our prayers and our support, so will Congress, so will our Country. One of the hallmarks of our nation is the peaceful transition of power and we hold that to be important. This does not mean we will acquiesce our values; only that we wish the new President and new government officials well in their duties and we honor their positions of elected trust to uphold the public good. We will still fight for those ideals we found compelling enough to campaign for, to vote for, and which for us are not negotiable truths. But President Obama deserves our respect and the opportunity to earn our trust, for he has garnered the Nation’s. He has asked for and received the great honor and heavy burden of presidency.

Watching the television and even simply walking the halls of this hospital, I see the proud faces of people who have often been down trodden. I see joyous faces of people who have felt much and suffered much at the hands of immoral people who allowed hate to take over because it had the support of law. Those joyous faces are a great thing. Perhaps now, we can finally close the chapter of our country on racism and bigotry holding a minority down. I truly hope so. I hope one day, we can also close the bloody chapter on abortion in this country for the same reason.

You are blessed to live in a country that takes risks and aspires to greatness. You are blessed to live in a country that tries to live up to ideals. Being peopled by human beings, we often miss the mark in our words, our deeds and our laws, but we still keep pouring our hearts out trying. We always keep trying.

So support your new president and continue speaking out on what is right, true and beautiful; for that my children, is what it really means to be an American.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Were the Dems and Repubs Thinking?

Now that Election Day is over, there is a little question I've wanted to ask.

In this modern day, why haven't either the GOP or the DNC revisited their animal symbol to find one that was say, less ironic, less vulnerable to criticism, less unappealing? Every other aspect of either party has been sanitized for our consumer protection. Why not this one?

Let's take the Elephant first, as the perhaps considered less objectionable of the two mascots.

An Elephant is huge. It's grey. It's wrinkled and bulky, destructive wherever it goes and loud. The result is that the party can rightly be portrayed as bloated, old and leaving large piles of ....mess that someone else has to clean up.

Don’t get started on that tired canard of tradition. The name of the game in politics is “just win baby.” Most people don’t go around thinking fondly about large smelly elephants.

From a marketing standpoint, the GOP’s mascot fares better than the Democrats but most fur bearing creatures with a vertebrate would beat out a donkey in a popularity and plush version contest. There also are problems with those few celebrity pachaderms out there. The most famous elephant? Dumbo. Not the image one would wish to project. Currently elephants are on the endangered list. Again, a party that aspires to the highest office in the land might want to embrace a more popular animal or at least a more prolific one.

The DNC donkey.

It would seem that this is obvious. Being a braying noisy spavined mule in no way could ever be considered a compliment. Being called a Jack...again, what's to love? These creatures have bad teeth, mean tempers and a stubborn streak a mile long. Does anyone in the Democrat party think this is a good selling point?

In the spirit of bi-partisanship which Pelosi and Biden assure us will take place once there is a near veto-proof Senate and so many Dems in the House that no Republican can so much as sign off on a piece of legislation without permission, I submit a new mascot for both parties.

Since the Republicans are in danger of becoming extinct, I propose the Polar Bears.

They've resurged from near extinction. They apparently are only welcome in Alaska. They also are near invisible when walking in their environment, even with others of their own kind. Polar Bears also don't play well with others. Sometimes, if hungry, they eat their own. They are considered even cute as long as they are viewed from a distance. They also support corporations like Coke-cola via commercials. They are willing to sell out if the oil pipe gets them an easier meal.

For the Democrats, I propose deer. Everyone thinks they love them. They appear innocent, natural, beautiful and soft. They are in reality muscular creatures that actually destroy and eat a tremendous amount of vegetation. The ones with horns appear tough, but usually run from a fight if the other side makes enough noise. They are however dangerous when cornered and can destroy an SUV if they get out on the road. Sure they carry Lyme disease, but hey, the Dems have an answer for this, universal health care.

The Senate and the House as a whole, also need a mascot, and I propose a stuffed boar. Pork with pork sausage is the perfect meal for a congress that believes it’s all their money. Here's hoping there's a pig roast with the new congress.

Finally, for any Republicans that survive Election Day, I propose the sitting duck, or maybe a PiƱata.

Baring these changes, I hope that everyone in this country, including congress will remember our system of government is not founded on the principle "We're okay but those people from the other party are idiots."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Sometimes Why

Kids require one to consider the imponderables of life.

Is shampoo edible?

How long can I let them watch cartoons before it becomes bad parenting?

Should I worry that my daughter plans to write about her childhood when she's an adult?

Why does my oldest insist on wearing a faded Hawaiian shirt every Friday? Can I burn it?

Why does my three year old need so little sleep?

Do the candy wrappers of Hershey's kisses add fiber to the diet?

What is the proper response to two children fighting over one blue block when there are fifty identical blocks in the box next to them? Is it legal?

How come the shirts I buy for the one kid who needs new clothing, shrink to fit the kid who has the most?

Why does my twelve year old have a fetish against buttons? Ditto for the ten year old on sweaters?

When did my son decide he would only use plastic silverware? Is his fetish an insult or a serious editorial comment to me?

Why can I think of all the things I need to do if I make a list but none of them if I don't?

Outside of helping the next generation with high school math, when is algebra needed in the real world?

Why are most works of literature, theatre and movies considered great, depressing?

Should my oldest feel concern that he gets Greek tragedies like King Oedipus better than "coming of age" works like Things Fall Apart? Should I?

Why can my kids memorize all the pokemon and their attack powers, weaknesses, and evolutionary traits, but not the state capitals, 43 presidents or the periodic table?

Why do I know all the pokemon and their attack powers, weaknesses and evolutionary traits but not the state capitals, 43 presidents or the periodic table?

Why if I think knowing things like the periodic table are important, can I not summon the mental will to memorize the state capitals, 43 presidents or periodic table myself?

How is it that every grade seems to be getting more complicated, the more children I send through it? Was I just not paying attention the first three times?

When is Spring Break?

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!