Monday, January 31, 2005


I tuned into Fox news last night, and they were going on and on about how wonderfully the election in Iraq came off, spouting off about the huge voter turn-out, interviewing English-speaking Iraqis and getting them to say what a defeat this was for the "terrorists." Considering the source, I just said, "Yeah, right! Pbbbbbbblllllllllp! (attempting to spell raspberries)" and changed the channel.

Today, every newscast I have heard, even on NPR, which is a little less affected by the conservative media disease than most, reported that the elections in Iraq went well. Good news coming out of Iraq is scarce; the entire world was impressed by the bravery and determination of a larger-than-expected portion of the Iraqi electorate.

It’s impossible to concede that the American attack on Iraq was anything but an ill-considered military action that was part of a Bush machine agenda plotted long before G. W. Bush entered the White House to begin his first term. The action will always be a travesty of mammoth proportions, which brought our standing among the nations of the world to a possible all-time low. And demonstrated to the rest of the world that when the American people have been attacked, they expect their leaders to exact revenge from someone…little matter that the target of our bloodlust has no connection to the people who attacked us. This war has NOT been and never will be a shining moment in American history.

But, half-way across the world, in a country torn by violence and instability brought upon them by an outside force, millions of ordinary citizens literally took their lives in their hands and participated in what they celebrated as a free election. The first free election held in Iraq in their memory. A baby step toward advancing their country to its rightful place among the nations of the world.

Did I say ordinary citizens? No, on second thought…they are anything but ordinary. These men and women are courageous, strong, and determined. True patriots. I wonder…would I have been brave enough to journey to a polling place under the shadow of a death threat? Hats off to the Iraqi people! They may yet turn this unholy mess into a shining moment in their own history. In spite of all our efforts to "help" them.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Leaders We Deserve?

During inauguration week, the History Channel ran a series on The Presidents. (Everyone has to get into the act when something has been whipped up into a "media event.") The series was based on a book called To The Best Of My Ability, a collection of essays on the presidents written by top historians, edited by James McPherson. The video series takes 400 minutes to tell the stories of forty-two presidents. Which limits each president to less than ten minutes of coverage. Enough to tantalize, but not enough to really learn much of substance. Still, I was struck by how little we know about some of these men. And how much of what we think we know is historically inaccurate. Given the microscopic dissection to which our presidents are subjected during their time in office, I find this surprising. Or maybe not…the attitude of the general public towards government officials seems to be "What have you done for me lately?" Our leaders’ great accomplishments, though admittedly few and far between, fall off our radar screens as soon as we have a beef, or catch the scent of a juicy scandal.

As far as the video series itself goes, I was a little annoyed by the fact that the presentation, in the true style of 21st century journalism, tended to paint the bad presidents in a better light than history has, and tried to chip away at the pedestals upon which the best chief executives have been placed. Why do the media feel they have to elevate the mediocre and knock down the champions in this country? Because they believe that the everyday grunt who buys a newspaper or magazine, or commands the remote, identifies more with the not-so-great, and feels more powerful when heroes are slashed down to their level? Why do we have to make such a huge deal of exposing and exploiting their imperfections? As if we fully expected them to BE perfect when we voted for them, and when we find out they are not, it’s some kind of shocking betrayal. Let’s get real, folks. Our leaders need be neither canonized nor damned. They are, after all, only human beings, and politicians on top of that, which means they are inherently flawed. Perhaps more so than the average man on the street. They exist on a "larger-than-life" plain…where, even as the things they reach for require an exponentially greater degree of strength and resolve than you or I might possess, the cracks in their armor gape like bottomless crevasses.

Perhaps this is all just a frustrating byproduct of our brand of democracy. Government by the people. All the people. People who can’t (don’t) read, people who lead insular or xenophobic lives, who have no clue about the complex 21st-century issues facing our national leaders. The issues that, because the choice of leaders is in our hands, it is imperative that we at least attempt to understand. But since most of us are barely half-informed, whether by misfortune or design, political elections in the United States have been reduced to something either more reminiscent of "American Idol," or a simplistic distillation of the complex issues to a contest between good and evil. The parties invest their time and fortunes in facelifts, elevator shoes, hairstyles, and camera savvy, while spreading propaganda to make the opposing candidate appear to be the devil incarnate. Real issues are rarely addressed in campaign rhetoric. The candidates know that is not what the American people want to hear. So those of us who would like to make informed decisions based on the issues are handicapped by the masses who treat a democratic election like some kind of sports contest.

There was an oft-repeated quote circulating before the election…something about a society getting the leaders they deserve. At first, I bridled a bit at this…I felt like I certainly did not deserve another four years of George W. Bush. But, looking at it a little more closely, I think the American people got exactly what they deserved this election. Our laziness, our complacency, our acceptance of the system as we have allowed it to progress over the last hundred years, have resulted in the perpetuation of the regime of a lackluster leader backed by a powerful machine with an agenda about which we have absolutely no clue. But which, I suspect, has little to do with the welfare of the United States and her people, and everything to do with lining their own pockets and those of their friends, who have paid generously for that service.

We have not just allowed ourselves to be disenfranchised…we have done it to ourselves. We’ve let ourselves be dazzled by media circuses, and duped with empty political rhetoric because we are too lazy? Busy? Apathetic? Discouraged? …to take a meaningful role in the democratic process. And our nation is paying the price.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Flavor of the Month

Okay...I'm back.  I just have to take advantage of some of the opportunities the news is giving me these days...

From another AOL news story-

"Bush expressed his condolences for the deaths. 'The story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people. I understand that. It is the long-term objective that is vital - that is to spread freedom,' he told reporters."

First, the order went out to find a connection, however minute, between the Sadaam Hussein regime and Al Qaida, while the administration leaked all kinds of inferences about Sadaam’s link to terrorism.

But they never found that smoking gun, so the focus shifted to WMD. It suddenly became America’s job to enforce the post-Gulf War weapons ban in Iraq. While the administration leaked vague snippets of intelligence suggesting that Sadaam had WMD and they were pointed at us.

Well, after nearly two years of invasion, killing, and searching, somewhere on the back page of the newspaper a couple of months ago, it was conceded that Sadaam never had the WMD. That one was hardly a surprise. For all the claims of faulty intelligence, does anyone really believe that we would have sent our military to attack a regime that was confirmed to have "the bomb?" "Hey, this guy is hiding a nuclear weapon under his shirt…let’s see if we can get him to lob it at somebody!" I don’t think so…

In the interim, the Bush administration began to cover the Iraq invasion with its "war on terror" blanket. Bush had declared "Mission accomplished;" but for some reason, the Iraqis kept on fighting. Since we had defeated Sadaam, these continued attacks must be coming from…oh yeah! Terrorists! See? They were there all along!

Now, for some reason, the Bush administration is backing away from the "terrorist" rhetoric. I’m not sure why…it served them well during the election. All they had to do was stand up in frontof their carefully chosen audiences, and invoke flashbacks of the twin towers crumbling into smoldering rubble by saying there were terrorists in Iraq and we had taken the fight to them. Worked like a charm! The American people gobbled up that stinking fish as if it were the finest prime rib.

So now we have the "spreading freedom" rhetoric--the most high-handed and dangerous they have come up with yet. It’s suddenly our job to march across the globe and lovingly bestow our chosen form of government upon any nation whose regime we deem "repressive." Or invade and force it upon them if they prove resistant. Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t we involved in "police actions" in southeast Asia for thirty years to prevent China from carrying out a similar philosophy? Oh, that’s right…when China was doing it, they were making a bid for world domination, and we had to stop them.

The Bush administration has seized upon this new philosophy to try to reinvigorate the American public’s fervor for the war. They felt the "spreading freedom" banner was something that no self-respecting American could fail to rally behind. But, need they have bothered? The American people have, up until now, swallowed even the most transparent excuses that the administration has produced for the Iraq war. They want war. They want to be able to sit in the bleachers and scream while our military takes the fight all over the globe. It isn’t about suffering, and death, and wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent people. It’s about being able to wave our flags and holler for the home team. As long as we're not playing on our home field... 

"Spreading freedom." Likely the Iraqi people feel they’ve had something spread on them, but freedom isn't it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

We Interrupt This Vacation...

Sometimes you just have to deal with business even when you’re on vacation…

From a story on AOL’s Welcome Screen today:

"Asked to name his mistakes in planning the war in Iraq, Cheney said he had not anticipated how long it would take the Iraqis to begin running their own country. Not until after Saddam was ousted did the United States realize the extent of the Iraqi leader's brutality in putting down revolt in 1991, Cheney said."

In other words, we didn’t really fuck up, it was Saddam’s fault. Oh, puh-leeze.

Let’s call a spade a spade, Dick. Shouldn’t that really read:

"I pushed the president and this country into the war in Iraq because I was sure that the sheer strength of our glorious armed forces would sweep through that country and bend them to our will in a matter of months, scoring a great victory for democracy and appeasing a constituency that was shouting for blood in retribution for the 9/11 attacks, while accomplishing the primary goal of assuring us of a foot in the door of the Middle Eastern oil market. Not until Saddam was ousted did we understand the scope of the Pandora’s box of warring factions and splinter groups that Saddam’s regime was sitting on. ‘Old Europe’ tried to warn us, but we blew them off, and banned French fries from the Congressional cafeteria.

"Since we failed to do our homework before tearing down the existing government, the whole thing blew up in our faces. And now a growing number of American and "coalition" troops, not to mention an untold number of Iraqi citizens---estimates of more than 100,000—have paid the ultimate price for our conceit.

"Ooops. My bad."

Friday, January 14, 2005

Writing in a Vacuum

The alerts are dead…or at the very least, critically ill. AOL as a whole has been acting strangely lately. For the past day and a half, my little "" forecast has been MIA. Navigating through journal land has been a jerky proposition: my screen will appear to freeze up for a longer than normal period of time between "website has been located" and the actual loading of a page. Weird little groanings and twistings are making me think that all is not well in AOL-world.

Since the alerts quit, my readership has evaporated. Why does this bother me? Since the first comment appeared on one of my entries sometime before Christmas last year…since that first rush of excitement that someone was actually reading my brain-droppings, I have had a love-hate relationship going on with comments and my hit counter. I started out wanting to be able to write freely. It was important to me to write as I have always written, about my feelings, about the things that beat incessantly around inside my head until I have to let them out. In those first months, I made two mistakes. I started reading other journals, and, naturally, compared my talent to theirs. And always found myself lacking. On top of that, I found myself so addicted to having readers, that I started to write for the audience. Tried to, anyway. Guess I haven’t been too successful after all! J

I would like to say that having the alerts on the fritz doesn’t bother me; that I can just continue to let the steam escape from my brain and splatter out through my keyboard--that it’s all about putting it in black and white (or green and blue) to help make sense of it all--and the presence or absence of an audience makes no difference. I’ve been having this tug of war between the part of me that wants to communicate with other human beings, and the part of me that just needs to write. I even started a private journal to mollify my "just needs to write" persona . It didn’t help. I’m as addicted to feedback from the few readers of my private journal as I am to comments and hit counts on the public one. And it feels like exactly addiction. An unhealthy dependency on being read. Sprouting from an unquenchable urge to be understood? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good right now.

Protestations to the contrary aside, why would one create a public, on-line journal if having readers were not a priority? And, there’s more to it than even that. I felt I had become part of a community. A slightly quirky, long-distance, anonymous community…but a community nonetheless. Now…I’m not so sure. I guess I have to be honest…I haven’t done much more than dip a toe into journal land. I don’t keep up with fifty journals a day; I don’t send personal emails to everyone who leaves comments, I don’t do message boards or chats. So I can’t fairly say I feel abandoned by a community that I’ve never truly embraced.

It’s time to do some serious thinking about why I write this journal. Who am I trying to reach? How much am I willing to invest, emotionally?

Where do I want it to go, if anywhere? Or is it time to put "Coming to Terms…" to bed, and move on to something else?



Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Grass Roots Movement I Wish Would Make An Impression

I read about "Not One Damn Dime Day" at Storms Whisper And Oceans Scream.  It looks like a fine idea to me, and I believe I will participate. 

A big deal is being made about the amount of money being spent on the inaugural festivities this year.  I have no current information on how Bush's $40,000,000 compares to the costs of past inaugural fetes; but, then, the world is in a vastly different place right now than it has been for recent incoming presidents...with a fair amount of the despair on the planet being a direct result of Bush administration policies.   Given the state of the war in Iraq, and the fact that over 150,000 lives were lost recently in the most devastating natural disaster in memory, I think it is in questionable taste for this amount of money to be spent on what amounts to a big party (or several big parties, actually.)

What kind of message do we send to the world with this kind of over-the-top celebration at a time like this?  " sorry your entire village was washed into the ocean...  Gotta go party!"  Truly, how can we wonder why so much of the world views the United States as an uncaring, frivolous, materialistic, dangerous pain in the ass?


I'm feeling like I'm a little in the doldrums, so I thought I would post this picture I took at Shore Acres on that incredibly beautiful day in December.  I need another "great place, great weather" fix.  Doesn't look like I'll be getting it here anytime soon.  They're predicting steadily deteriorating weather for the next few days, culminating in a day of yucky "winter mix" on Saturday.  Hard to say whether this will actually happen.  Once again, I'll quote the old maxim that "only fools and foreigners predict the weather in Oregon."  It's very possible the forecast will change.  But then, the forecast generally has little to do with what actually transpires.

Things have been going along on a slight upswing here in the infancy of the new year.  I have been faithful to my vow to take La Chienne (and sa mere) out for a walk every day.  Today,  I donned my ovesized yellow slicker and packed along the bright orange frisbee; we logged about three miles and got in some valuable frisbee time.  Dog loves to chase and catch.  Anything.  Stick, ball, frisbee.  She doesn't care.  Just throw it, and she'll go after it and bring it back to you.  She's quite the frisbee dog.  I always wanted a dog that would play frisbee, and now I have one.  There's something to be said for being able to go out in the field and just wing the frisbee all over the place, and have someone to go after it and bring it back to you :-) 

Let's see, what else has been happening... I'm down to within about a pound of where I want to be when I weigh in this month at WW.  Didn't get too out of control over the holidays...maybe four pounds over my goal weight.  But it's been simple enough to scrape those few pounds off (thank goodness...); I guess I won't have to go out and buy all new clothes after all. 

Been doing some data-entry work for the husband from home.  Making a few extra bucks (which we sorely need after the holidays).  And it's nice to have something to give my life a sense of order and structure.  What is it they call that?  A "win/win situation" (bleah!)

So, it's nearly half-past January already, and I'm doing everything I can to counteract those post-holiday blues.  Can't say I'm feeling on top of the world...but I'm not contemplating jumping off a cliff, either.  It'll do.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Message to a Friend

The picture above is of me and my best friend Terry on our high school Graduation Day. That’s me on the left. Take note of the little date stamped on the side of this cheesy old, dog-eared instamatic color photo I’ve kept for over thirty years: "Jul 73."

Today is Terry’s fiftieth birthday. I lost track of her about seven years ago. She came out for a visit, then went home to Arizona and disappeared from my life. On purpose, I think, though I don’t know why. We didn’t fight, or really do much of anything during her visit. Tried to keep it positive and fun…went to the beach and flew kites. She had finally divorced her alcoholic husband, and made a fleeting reference to thinking about marrying some rich guy that she didn’t love, just for the money. Maybe she thought I wouldn’t approve. But within weeks of her return home, she had moved, left no forwarding address. My letter came back marked "undeliverable." And I never heard from her again. Methinks she knows where I am, though…every year, we get a gift magazine subscription from her. I think they probably notified her when we changed our address three years ago. This knowledge has kept me from trying to "find" her. She knows where to find me…if she wanted contact with me, she would initiate it. So I just…let it lie.

I got to thinking about her today when I realized what day it was. It was in my mind to go back and dig up all the letters she had written me after we relocated to Oregon. Of course, I saved them. There’s something about written words that speak of history to me, and I can’t throw them away. When we were cleaning out the garage this past weekend, I unearthed some of the letters she had written just after we moved away. I sat down to read one, and it about ripped my guts out. I realized that this friend with whom I was peevish because of her relationship choices, of whom I despaired because it never seemed like we shared the deep relationship that lifetime girlfriends should, who I rejected when she finally came to me, needing something that I didn’t know how to give (just an ear, just a shoulder to cry on…); this beautiful friend had a much better understanding of our relationship than I ever had. And now, of course, I miss what I never appreciated until just this minute.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Tree. I hope you’re spending this milestone day wherever and with whomever makes you the happiest.

The Road We All Will Travel

I’m struck by the number of my journal friends who are facing, or have recently faced, the challenge of ministering to an ill or dying parent. We are at that age, I suppose. You think you reach independent adulthood sometime before you hit thirty. But that’s not when it really happens. It’s when your parents and grandparents have gone, when you become the matriarch of your own clan. Or you stand, relying on your own strength alone, because the invisible bulwark of the preceding generations is passing away. It’s an odd feeling…a combination of grief, forlornness, and empowerment. You suddenly want to ask your parents all the questions you never did, about being a grown-up, about being wise…the questions you know that, if they were here, you would still not be asking. Because you don’t think to ask until they’re gone. That is when you need the answers.

Then, there’s the challenge of procuring decent medical care for your dying parent. The medical culture of 21st –century America has provided us with a perfect purifying fire. You will need to grab your sword and fight your way through the maze of HMO red tape, Medicare rip-offs, stand-offish physicians who possess head knowledge but have no heart, and health "care" professionals who most definitely do not care. You will be confronted by a team of doctors who each claim some impersonal chunk of your beloved parent—the cardiologist, the gastro-intestinal specialist, the internist, the oncologist… but you won’t have one who deals with the whole person. Primary Care physicians? They’re just there to write the referrals to the specialists. That is, if you can get an appointment in less than a month. In the end, you are as exhausted and drained by the interminable battle with the medicos, as you are by the suffering and death of your loved one. There is something to be said for the strength and wisdom gained from the incessant fight. But I, for one, would rather have spent quiet healing time with my dad, than having had to don my breastplate and helmet daily to sally forth and procure another ounce of help from the recalcitrant medical community.

To all my sisters out there, I can only say—fight the good fight. And know that it’s going to be a fight. There’s a good chance your parent will not have a choice between dying at home or in the hospital. Hospitals don’t want to waste their time on terminal patients. When my dad’s hospice nurse sent him to the hospital in the last week of his life, looking for some treatment to make him more comfortable, his attending physician asked me, "Why is he here? We can’t do anything for him here." Luckily, Dad wanted to go home. It’s a good thing…he really didn’t have any other choice. The hospital was not going to let him stay.

You will probably need to face helping your loved one die at home. It’s not like the movies, my friends…that’s the only wisdom I have to offer. It’s hard work, it’s heart-wrenching…it’s an experience that nothing in our previous lives has prepared us to do. Without going into the less-appealing details, let me just say that you will do things you never thought you could do, and find a strength within yourself that you never knew you possessed. If you make it through to the end, you will have a sense of connection to your parent that you will never lose, and a feeling of having accomplished something every bit as miraculous as giving birth.

Blessings, strength, grace, and power to all of you who are standing at the beginning of that road today. Those of us who have traveled it before you wait along the roadside, ready to help in any way we can.

Saturday, January 8, 2005


"Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

--Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg Trials


On December 26th, a deep-ocean earthquake created tsunamis which devastated huge portions of southeast Asia, causing an appalling loss of human life…halfway across the world from the United States. Day by day, the death toll rose: 25,000; 60,000; 100,000; 140,000. The American press waited a decent interval of approximately ten days before one of the "top stories" became the number of Americans missing in the disaster. PBS’s MacNeil Lehrer broadcast a report last week that included obvious criticism of authorities’ inability to pinpoint the exact number of American dead. Our press has the unerring ability to make any and every tragedy the world experiences "about us." And if it’s not about us, it’s not worth bothering about. Luckily for the southeast Asians, Americans were killed in their disaster, or the American media would have lost interest by now.


A Cleveland man is suing NBC’s "Fear Factor" for $2.5 million, saying that an episode which showed contestants eating blended dead rats so grossed him out that he got dizzy, bumped his head on a doorpost on the way out of his living room, and then hurled his guts out. For this he is entitled to $2.5 million? And I suppose he was tied down while someone held his eyes open and forced him to watch this half-witted display of asinine hijinx known as "reality TV?" Not that I wouldn’t love to see this show sued to oblivion, but only someone who would watch this tripe would be stupid enough to think that his body’s natural reaction to these disgusting visual images would be grounds for a lawsuit.

Friday, January 7, 2005

What I Don't Expect To Do

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."


Phooey! I have no frame of reference for wise little maxims like this one. I don’t vault out of the rack, refreshed, ready to take the new day by the horns. I’m more of a twenty-year-old car engine on a cold morning. A little cranky, a little hard to kick over. But once I get warmed up, I can go all day and half the night. Any self-help program that has me throwing off the covers and leaping out of bed to greet the brand new day is pretty much lost on me.

Since this is traditionally the time of year for resolutions, I felt compelled to actually make some this year. It seems I need goals, even if I never achieve them. I need to be able to quantify my ineffectiveness. If I don’t set goals that I never reach, then I have nothing to point to and say, "Well, I was aiming for that, and I didn’t get that far. But I did make it to here…" There’s no way to prove any progress at all if you weren’t headed in the general direction of something.

I have, however, learned that there are some things I shouldn’t even bother to aspire to. Things like "serenity," and "balance"—a couple of words bandied about when the subject of life changes comes up. I could no more be accused of being serene than a grizzly bear could be called cuddly. My life is a jigsaw puzzle composed of blacks and whites, contrasts and brights. No muted grays or pastels in this palette. Like a moth to a flame, I’m attracted to places that surround me with serenity, but only as an antidote for what is constantly going on within me. I never hope to absorb and reflect that peace, only to bask and rest in it to prepare for the next clash.

And balance? Nooo…I don’t function well at all in balance. Balance is boring to me; uninspiring, and not the least bit motivational. I am an obsessive personality. It’s the only way I accomplish anything. I have to become so focused, so single-minded that I can see absolutely nothing else but the task at hand, otherwise it doesn’t get done. Multi-tasking is not a problem…I’m in my absolute gloryif I?m obsessing about three or four things at once. My mind is so active that it needs something to be consumed with; otherwise, it consumes itself. It?s during times of balance and serenity that I start to eat myself alive, from the inside out. I know?conventional wisdom says there are fine drugs available these days that will help me achieve the prescribed balance and serenity that everyone?s life needs. But then I wouldn?t really be me anymore, would I?

Thursday, January 6, 2005

The Boyzz---and other stuff

Here's what the two "assassins" look like in the ever-flattering light of the Christmas tree.  That's Alvin on the left, Theo on the right.  We've made it through the folly of combining two junior cats with five Christmas trees...relatively unscathed.  In fact, I don't think they broke a single ornament.  Their dad and I managed to explode a few when we were decorating the tree in the living room.  Yes, explode...that's the only word for what happens when a glass ornament comes in contact with a laminate floor, having been dropped from, oh, about a three or four-foot height.  Can you say, "Disintegrate? With a satisfying crash?"

I've manged to de-Christmas two rooms so far.  The bedroom and the dining room are officially undecorated.  They don't exactly look back to normal, since there are boxes stacked all over the place, waiting for Saturday, when we plan to go through the garage and sort through all the junk that's been on the shelves in boxes since we moved in more than three years ago.  It is to be hoped that we will actually throw some of the stuff away this time.  I think I've got the right least today I did.  I went through the pantry and weeded out boxes of cereal, noodles, rice, crackers, and other things that have been sitting around for at least a year.  A lot of it was purchased before we started the diet last January, and we really don't eat pasta and rice much anymore.  OR it's stuff that I stocked up on for company, and I just don't want to have it around here as a temptation.  I hate to waste it, but at some point you have to concede that it's just not going to get eaten.

So, it looks like I'm ticking some of those things off my "resolutions" list.  Here it is, January sixth, and I'm still into it!  Must be a new record...  One of the things I'm proudest of so far, is that I have managed to get my butt and my dog's butt out for a walk almost every day since last Monday.  Even today, when it was raining.  And, wonder of wonders, I didn't melt!  Last week, we took off on a walk that I knew was a circle, but I didn't know how large of a circle.  We ended up walking for about two hours, and logged almost seven miles.  Dog kept looking over her shoulder at me, like, "Are we there yet?"  I'm sure she thought I had lost my way, my mind, or both. 

Won't it be nice if I'm sitting here in two months writing that we've walked sixty days in a row?  Well, maybe that's a stretch...but we've made a good start.  

Monday, January 3, 2005

Not Just "R"...How About "A-B-C"?

A couple of days ago, I said I would post my "r-words" for the New Year.  After i got to thinking about it, I realized I had at least an entire alphabet of things I would like to accomlish in 2005.  This is what I came up with: 

Attend a concert, play, art gallery show, or some cultural event at least once a month. We discovered the Portland Youth Philharmonic in 2004, and I have become a huge fan. I’m determined to make our increasing leisure time about more than seeing how many "Law & Order" reruns we can cram into our brains each week.

Buy a new mattress. The one we have is fifteen years old, and the feather-bed I bought two years ago to extend the life of the mattress was one of the less-inspired purchases I’ve made in my life. Time to face up to my own stupidity and get something decent to sleep on.

Cooperate with my husband on more projects. We’ve adopted the habit of letting the other guy do the bulk of the work on a project that speaks to that person’s expertise; we really don’t work well side-by-side. But staying out of each other’s way doesn’t seem like a positive investment of our time together, either.

Drag my loom in from the garage, and either make it work or throw it away. This little bit of hopeful nostalgia has been taking up storage space for too many years. Time to deal with it.

Eliminate the excess from my life. I look at the amount of STUFF with which I surround myself, and I see that it more often gets in the way of my freedom and happiness, rather than enhancing it. Having too much stuff is, unfortunately, the by-product of my favorite hobby: Shopping. I have no intention of giving up my hobby. Just have to make the distinction between shopping and buying

Fix the paint in my master bathroom. Three years ago, I attempted a faux finish that turned out looking like bad1960’s metallic wallpaper. I came up with an idea of how to fix it about two years ago. But the hideousness of the first result is apparently so intimidating that I have yet to attempt the do-over.

Get over my paralyzing fear dentists, and have my teeth worked on. Actually, I’m paralyzed by the probable COST of the project. I’m really not that scared of going to the dentist. I’ve put this on the top of my list of things to do if I win the lottery…

Hear compliments. I have the uncanny ability to zero in on anything negative said about me, and completely ignore compliments and praise.

If I have something nice, positive, uplifting, or complimentary to say, SAY it. If I don’t, make something up. Start looking for the good in the people in my life, and let them know when I find it.

Join…a group, a choir, a club, something. I’ve never been a joiner. Most of my life, my family met my need for social interaction. Since the "new order" of my family was set in place, I have become WAY too isolated. Time to step outside myself and go looking for people with similar interests. This is one of my most important resolutions for the year…and also the one that scares the crap out of me the most.

Keep myself toeing the "Weight Watchers" line. I don’t know how many pounds I put on this holiday season…I’m not getting on the scale until I’ve had a few days to get myself back under control. But I will NOT let those pounds creep up on me. I bought a whole closet full of new clothes, I like the way I look in them, and I refuse to have half my closet full of "fat" clothes.

Live for today. Look forward to tomorrow.Stop dwelling in the past.

Make my business a priority. I’ve been dancing all around really sinking myself into it heart and soul. Afraid of what I’ll do if it fails, I suppose. Now that I have a few years under my belt, I understand the ups and downs enough to be able to set up more "ups." And if I don’t do it, who will?

Never let a day go by without letting the love of my life know how much he means to me. Which is not necessarily about saying, "I love you!" every day. Three little actions every day would say so much more than those three little words, wouldn’t they?

Organize all my closets, cupboards, and drawers. Again. What, you mean this has to be done more than once every five years?

Paint my bedroom. It remains glaring, tract-house white, despite the fact that we bought all the supplies for a stunning faux-finish almost three years ago. Could be the results in the bathroom scared me too much to go forward on the bedroom…(see "F".)

Quit procrastinating. About…everything!

Read something good EVERY DAY. Something historical, controversial, educational, debatable. Something that will increase my knowledge, enhance my viewpoint, and stretch my horizons to their ultimate…or show me that my horizons can be endless.

Sing. I love to sing. I’m not great at it, but I don’t suck, either. I love music so much, and never had the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. But my voice is my own…why waste it? What I’d really like to do is take voice lessons, to learn to make the most of what I have.

Treat others with the respect I would like them to show for me.  Our society is so rude and disrespectful these days.  I find myself being drawn into that behavior just because it's all around me all the time (and possibly because the mood swings of this time of my life make it SO easy to snarl at people...)  I need to be on guard against letting the poison consume me. 

Unpack the boxes in the garage that have followed us through three moves in the last twelve years. Gee, if we haven’t used the stuff in all this time, maybe it’s time to get rid of it…!

Visit new places. Exotic or mundane, far away or right around the corner. My world has become too small. I need to expand it.

Walk myself and my dog every day, no matter what the weather. One of the reasons I chose to get a dog three years ago was to keep myself active. Now, I just let her out the back door a couple of times a day when it’s raining or cold. There is very little truly dangerous weather here in Western Oregon…it’s time to stop being such a wimp.

Xercise (that’s a cheap one, isn’t it? Well, YOU find a word that starts with "X.") Despite the fact that I have personally experienced the benefits of endorphins produced by exercise, I can’t seem to stay in the habit of making sure I get it. "Too busy" really isn’t a credible excuse in my current situation…

Yell less. I really don’t yell all that often...but I hate that I do at all. Most often it’s my pets or my sister’s kids--the spirits that most yearn for a soft voice and kind words--that get the life-affirming experience of hearing me raise my voice in anger or frustration. NOT okay.

Zero in on the things that are most important, and find ways to make them happen. Dreaming is nice, and necessary. But if nothing ever goes beyond the dream stage, life slips through your fingers leaving nothing to show for the effort. At my age, I’ve started to give some serious thought to what I’ll be leaving behind when I go. So far, I have to say, it’s not looking too good. It’s time to go about creating a legacy I can be proud of.

Do I see mysef accomplishing all these things in 2005?  Why not?  It won't be the end of the world if I don't.  And if I just do one or two, I will have made positive progress worth crowing about twelve months from now...