Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Brooks: a moment of agreement

I have always conceded that New York Times columnist David Brooks is an intelligent man, but I have not always agreed with him.

But even he can't be rhetorically wrong when he's writing about Ted Kennedy endorsing Barack Obama.

When history in the making is beautiful and good, intelligent people can see the truth and must describe it.

Real-ization

From Where the Roots Reach the Water by Jeffrey Smith:

[after gathering the stones for his overcoat, for a Virginia Woolf-style suicide... to be ready, just in case] I knew from my years of mental health work that an abstract inclination to suicide is one thing: worrisome, yet vague. If that inclination progresses to a particular plan--drowning oneself, say--and then progresses further--to where one chooses a site and obtains a pile of stones--then it's time for immediate intervention. So I knew enough to keep my plan to myself. If such fantasies of self-destruction have escaped you, gentle reader, they must be hard to imagine. The body I happened to inhabit had once been reliable enough in its yearnings for good food, music, books, talk, walks outdoors, the stars at night, the warm scent of skin. What had happened? It is hard to imagine--how can any living, thinking being crave its own demise?--when our bodies seem endlessly driven to cling to life, even amidst considerable pain and misery.
All this might sound like melodramatic attention-seeking, but it felt absolutely genuine.The arguments in favor of my demise had an alarming, nearly mathematical precision, and unequivocal conviction. To those who haven't experienced it, it is hard to explain clinical depression. This malady is explicable only on its own terms. Depression obliterates the tangible.



Wow. As a woman with a degree in literature (know Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson and the lot ...) and some psychology education, a credential and secondary school teaching experience that required knowing the signs of suicidal teens--Columbine-style or solitary, and who had a crash course in anti-depressants, there was a period where I knew that what was happening in my mind--fleeting thoughts, the day dreams not unlike planning a surprise vacation to Disneyland or ditching school and going to the beach instead. Yet somehow until I read that paragraph in this other man's book I had believed it was my tendency toward perfection and over-achieving, my inability to accept failure that captured the doctors' attention. Maybe that was part of it. I didn't have a collection of rocks, my fear of water and its melodramatic literary parallels were a little much even for me. I believed it was an original, unique plan--to be sure dramatic; what demise of a young person is not dramatic? Finally, years later as I plan a day of walking the dogs, going to an appointment an art class and a job, I realize it was not entirely my propensity for perfection and completion of tasks that threw my doctors into acting on their own plans for me. It was my story. The story I didn't mean to tell them but in my dark delirium the answers to their prescient questions came flatly spilling out. From me: a vacant and boring speaker. As if I were telling them the recipe for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And now to dogs, doctors, classes and work.

Ah, time.

Passes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union 2008

Praise be to God, it is George W. Bush's last such speech.

The State of the Union: disrepair.

It's affect on the rest of the world: disgusting.

It's really not worth listening to him.

Mornings breaking

I think if I wake up to a speech by Barack Obama every morning I will get through the day on a dose of hope stronger than the medications that pharmaceutical companies advertise for smiles.

His Campaign Rally speech at American University in Washington D.C. after the Kennedys endorsed him just gave me chills.

Here's what they all had to say: (text and youtube video clips)

This life will get better.

Guts on the "Gay Issue"

All level pathetic playing field for the Democrats--supporting civil unions, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and backing a federal anti-discrimination law that would protect gay men and lesbians. But one gay man noted that Barack Obama was the first candidate to bring up the marginalization of homosexuals without prompting--and he did it in a highly visible and relatively controversial setting: speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr., and his father were pastors in Atlanta, GA. He "made waves by lecturing the audience about homophobia. 'We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them,' he said ("For Gay Democrats, a Primary Where Rights are Not an Issue, This Time," nytimes.com). The article argues that homosexual voters are free to focus on more "universal" issues like education, health care, the economy and the wars because gay rights are becoming a natural part of the political debate. Of course, we still have to fight for those rights, but we don't have to fight to pull them into the conversation.

It's a small victory, but a move toward a true victory nonetheless.

Ted Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy's Wife Support Obama

Even Ted Kennedy is disheartened by the political rhetoric of the Clinton couple. I remember a time in the 1990s when I believed in the goodness and light of this rags to riches President, but apparently the vile blood of politics has polluted his soul--and Hillary stands by her man as he stand by her.

From the New York Times today: Kennedy Chooses Obama, Spurning Plea by Clintons

...near the end of Mr. Obama’s first year in the Senate, Ethel Kennedy asked him to speak at a ceremony for her husband’s 80th birthday. At the time, she referred to Mr. Obama as “our next president.”

“I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did,” Mrs. Kennedy said in an interview that day, comparing her late husband’s quest for social justice to Mr. Obama’s. “He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”



I like Ethel Kennedy's clarity there--"it's just [Obama]" and Michelle Obama is just Michelle. An educated mom and a wife with an inspiring and brilliant husband who happens to be running for President of the United States.

In Our Bedroom With the Blinds Drawn

We think it rains all night and into the morning.

Right next to our window, the spout from the roof rain gutters bends in a sharp S-curve.

Two joining Ls, right side up, upside down.

Justin went outside the first time it rained here two years ago, to see if he could move the trashcans or whatever horrible drum the rain happened to be falling on one floor below.

There was nothing.

Just the Ls.

We couldn't sleep during the first few rains--it was like napping next to someone playing a snare drum, but we've gotten used to it.

Except for the part where we have no perception of the reality of the rain, with the wind blowing the tops of our neighbors trees and the roof constantly pouring water into the spout we think it poured all night.

Yesterday I woke up and, given the weatherman's predictions and rain forest night, expected to see flood water filling our courtyard.

Sunshine.

In our bedroom, with the blinds drawn, where it rains all the time is like being in my head when I know a depressive episode is drawing the blinds around my life.

With the weather, now that I know there is a good chance the light is actually shining outside, I know if I just get up out of bed and open the blinds or go in another room it won't be raining anymore.

But you know how it's hard to get out of bed sometimes? Sometimes it's just so comfortable and cozy in there, sometimes it's just too much work to get up. On unscheduled lazy days you can even stay, luxuriating in the paralysis of choice. It's safe and nice, so why bother? On over-scheduled frenzied days you know you have to get up, drive in that wet weather, meet with those people, file those papers, push through the workday until lunch and then the drive home with the rain-battered drivers.

One of those commercials for anti-depressants just flashed through my mind. The one with a woman who looks like she hasn't washed or combed her hair in days looking vacantly out the paned window as the rain splashes off it and away from her face. I realize this metaphor is not original.

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brook Shields. "Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down" by Karen Carpenter.

It's just really bizarre to watch my mind not open the blinds, even when I know if it does there will be light out there. It's like I'm in someone else's trap and no matter how much I want to get out I can't just leave. I have to go through a complicated maze of motions, all the while being chased by the fear that I might not escape this time.

I was wrong before, by the way. That kid would have been two years old this year. Those in the know say I am much healthier this year and they're right, but only a few of us know how much work it is to be this way. How much easier it would be never to leave the room.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Exhausted by Reality , I am gambling on idealism, dreams... call it hope

The NYT endorsement of H. Clinton got widely covered in other media. The more I heard about it, the more I felt like a sell out. The more I heard about the behavior of the candidates and of Bill Clinton the more I felt unsettled. As one of my friends who was thinking of voting for Hillary put it, "I've never felt so bad about voting for someone before." We all grimaced and looked at the floor in shameful agreement.

The the Chicago Tribune and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Having met the Tribune editorial board, watched them discuss and decide on their positions, and become an admirer of their work, I was swayed back toward Obama. Kennedy's appeal to voters threw me fully into Obama's court, though. She's right--they are all qualified. She also articulated the same opinion I've been espousing of late--we need a leader who inspires our citizens and the people of the world who watch us whether we like it or not. Without meaning disrespect, leaders do not have to know everything about everything they will be leading. The President surrounds himself with advisers and other leaders who hold fast to their own ideals (usually similar to his) and have their own ideas about how to achieve their mutual goals. The leader is the spokesperson for those goals, and i have yet to see Obama give a speech that falls flat.

At every turn, as an American citizen, I have reason to be sad: the economy sucks and I am poor; the war continues and I listen for the names of friends on the roll call of the dead; the President speaks and I am embarrassed; the fundamentalist evangelical Christians shout their un-Biblical views and I fight to remind people that Jesus didn't make exceptions when he said "Love one another." Our education system flounders in testing and funding problems and my relief at departing that battle saddens me. My husband enters the medical field as a doctor while my parents and friends' parents get older and social security and medical insurance questions questions become real instead of "one day" and I wonder how it will all work out. My immigrant colleagues work several minimum wage jobs and raise families with several children and I wonder where they are on the radar of the immigrant-hating people, even if they are here legally.

Kennedy is right. The top three Democratic candidates are all intelligent, they all have detailed plans, they all offer leadership. But Obama offers inspiration and when I see him smile or say the word "hope" I see sincerity in his demeanor that I don't buy in the smiles of the others with their years of grooming for the public eye.

I want to believe in something. I believe in God, and He brings a certain degree of comfort, but it would be really nice to have a human hanging out here, leading our country and making us think that the world isn't falling apart--that somehow we might be able to save it and ourselves from the ways of the past that have destroyed so much of the future. I want to believe that things can change and that a leader can direct us in the right direction and that people will follow him.

I want a real example of true and sincere goodness, and I want to feel like I voted on the side of hope.

Besides, when we see something good we can never really afford the risk of waiting "until we are ready." We are so ready now that we are desperate for change.

Waiting is dangerous: Look what happened to Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Robert Kennedy.

So, Barack Obama, I hope making your Presidency a reality will make our idealistic dreams a reality as well.



Below are the articles from the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times:


--------------------
For the Democrats: Obama
--------------------


January 27 2008

In 1996, this page endorsed a Chicago attorney, law school instructor and community activist named Barack Obama for a seat in the Illinois Senate. We've paid him uncommon scrutiny ever since, wryly glad that he lived up to our modest prediction: We said Obama "has potential as a political leader."

The complete article can be viewed at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0127edit1jan27,0,847324.story

Visit chicagotribune.com at http://www.chicagotribune.com

Op-Ed Contributor

A President Like My Father

Published: January 27, 2008

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”

Endorsements

Just an aside: at a Romney rally a large bearded man held a sign above his overalls: "Rednecks for Romney"--that says it all.

Now for my thoughts on the Democratic candidates:

I have met the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune. I respect their work. I have observed their Editorial Board Meeting, the meeting in which they decide what the copy will be for their pages and who they will endorse. Given that, how can I not give some credence to their opinion--especially since the New York Times has been mired for years in their own political mess.

Here it is from Chicago:

January 27 2008

In 1996, this page endorsed a Chicago attorney, law school instructor and community activist named Barack Obama for a seat in the Illinois Senate. We've paid him uncommon scrutiny ever since, wryly glad that he lived up to our modest prediction: We said Obama "has potential as a political leader."

The complete article can be viewed at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0127edit1jan27,0,847324.story

Visit chicagotribune.com at http://www.chicagotribune.com


And then there is Caroline Kennedy, another force to be reckoned with, though she was only a child when her father was President and then assassinated, so she doesn't know based on her own observations of life with JFK. But she's studied him, she knows the myth and the legend, she knows the stories. So here she writes:

Op-Ed Contributor

A President Like My Father

By CAROLINE KENNEDY
Published: January 27, 2008

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”



My head spins.

When I watch Hillary on TV I feel a strong guy mistrust. So I lean back toward to Obama, who makes me feel inspired (if not safe--what does he know about being President?) and a little safer because he seems trustworthy and sincere when he speaks.

Sad. Inspiration and hope runs shallow...

Hillary, Barrack, headache

I sent this e-mail to some politically inclined friends last week, but then I found the Chicago Tribune's endoresement of Obama and Caroline Kennedy's "A President Like My Father" about Obama. And now my head is going to explode.

Here's my NYT Hillary missive; more on the others after I do more reading:

I've been having trouble deciding between Obama and Clinton, and then I found my beloved New York Times had made an endorsement. Granted, Clinton is "theirs" now, but they wouldn't choose someone just because she's "from" their state.

They're right--I have been totally enchanted by Obama's rhetoric and style. I love the way he electrifies a crowd, inspires his audience and actually lets us believe that there is hope for the future. I love Barack Obama. I love his wife Michelle and the way they have raised their two daughters. I can tell you and anyone else that he is not Muslim, though if he were I think that would be the ultimate irony of our current leader's demise.

But Hillary does have tangible experience and ideas (see article). I do worry about her style, but face it, a woman has to be a bulldog occasionally or men don't take her seriously. Of course, men don't take bulldogs seriously either, but I think she can work on that. As some of you know, I too have worked on my speaking style to make it more palpable to my softer listeners.


I can't help but feel that voting for a man I would love to hear speak would be like voting for a man someone might like to have over for dinner or a beer.

That would be a tragic mistake for the voting citizens of the United States to make more than once.

I still have more research to do, but for today I'm actually leaning toward Hillary.

BTW, they endorsed McCain as their Republican candidate.

Cheers and happy election research,
Olaina

PS Click on the link below to read their article--it's free and they won't start hassling you with e-mail unless you ask for it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From:
Date: Jan 25, 2008 10:04 AM
Subject: NYTimes.com: Primary Choices: Hillary Clinton



The New York Times E-mail This
This page was sent to you by:

Message from sender:
I've been having trouble deciding between Obama and Clinton, and then I found my beloved New York Times had made an endorsement...



OPINION | January 25, 2008
Editorial: Primary Choices: Hillary Clinton
The Times's editorial board strongly recommends that Democrats select Hillary Clinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.

Hands Down, a great explanation...

so read the subject line from my friend Diana.

One of us had used the phrase "hands down" in conversation a few weeks ago. The other had agreed--probably we were talking about the best coffee or gelato in town, or the cutest dogs--and then said, "Where does that phrase, 'hands down,' come from anyway?"

We conjectured for a while, even though she was driving, using hand movements. Palms down. Palms up. Who says that? Why?

I shrugged my shoulders, put my arms against my sides, bent my elbows to V my arms and threw my hands back, "I dunno know."

Maybe that's it! Hands up: I don't know; hands down: I am totally sure!

Thus, dramatic hands down and hands up became a part of our quirky vernacular.

Then, she sent me this explanation, which I am proud to say is from my people, The Hindu: Online Edition of India's National Newspaper (Feb. 18, 2003):

WHAT IS the meaning and origin of "win something hands down"?

(Kavitha, Chennai)

It means to win very easily, to win without any real effort. Here are a few examples.

* The local team won the tournament hands down.

* I am sure that Sarita will win the nomination hands down.

* I wouldn't worry if I were you. You will win hands down.

It's interesting to note that many English idioms come from the world of horse racing and boxing. Tells you something about the English, doesn't it? To "win something hands down" comes from the world of horse racing and it has been part of the English language since the mid 19th century. I understand as the jockey approaches the finish line, he sometimes loosens his hold on the reins. He does this when he is very confident of winning the race; when he thinks that he will win it easily. When the jockey loosens his hold on the reins, he drops his hands. Hence, the expression, "to win hands down".


S. Upendran


Click this link for more of The Hindu.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"In a special manner"

Yes, I am excited in a special manner.

Just like when I've had too much dinner and I'm burstingly full, there's a special compartment available for creme brulee.

I am especially excited about the idea of moving to San Francisco (or anywhere....).
(for reference to post title and above commentary, see previous post and anonymous comment)

I love the puppies especially:

I stayed with the puppies and worked on photos today because we could all use a little extra company. We were listening to NPR and for a while Yaz was sitting by me on the couch and then she went to her own bed. Stan was content napping in the middle of the floor. Sure, they look at you like you're the meanest person on earth when you walk out that door and leave them pathetically all alone all day, but really they just sleep even if there's someone to play with.

When I finally couldn't stand my laptop anymore, we took a walk to Mama's Lebanese Kitchen so I could have some lunch. They were VERY excited for the Great Outdoor Adventure. But it was windy, and Stan has to have the highest doggy-blood pressure in the world. Windy walks are maybe even worse than truck/men walks. I swear he thinks the sky is attacking him from every side. Of course, as I ate at one of the sidewalk tables (sunny! pretty!) Stan watched the road vigilantly for stranger-danger, and Yaz watched me vigilantly for dropped food. Poor Yaz. My falafael wrap and spinach pie were too yummy to spill.

They were adorable walking home--they could sense us getting closer and tried to avoid going into the complex because they didn't know I was going to stay even longer. So then, when I sat on the couch and started the movie they were vying for cuddle time. (OK, OK, I was encouraging them to join me on the couch, but still...) At first I had one on each side of me but then there was some jostling around and they departed. Then, they came back, and Stan was closest to the couch and I kept telling him to just come on up, and Yaz was nosing her way in and there was some growling. Instead of doing my usual routine and picking up Yaz for lap-time, I picked up Stan (he was the victim in the situation...). He didn't even fight me and then since he was so comfy on the blanket that was on me he just lay there on my tummy for half the movie. Yaz tried to nose her way in again (first she left in disdain), and he growled at her! They were growling at each other.

It was ridiculous.

I felt perilously loved.

So I helped her up so she could sit on the other side of me. Of course they both fell asleep during the movie--but Premonition was too scary for me to sleep through, especially since I keep re-dreaming a bad dream with variations on the theme. When it was finally over I had to wake them up so I could move... and leave.

Leaving involved a lot of faking out. Yaz had been a little bell ringer all day, but I know her wily ways and I knew she already had bonus-pee-time, but I let them trot about the complex while I put my shoes on. Then I tricked them into thinking I was playing inside, and when they came back upstairs I made my escape.

They probably acted all pathetic and lonely and happy and thrilled to see their owners when they got home, but that's because they love them, and because they weren't going to tell anyone that they conned Aunty 'Laina into hangin' with them practically all day long.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Concession Speech

OK. Fine. Anyone who knows me knows I love San Francisco.

But I am NOT EXCITED.

I also love Chicago. And San Diego. And Oakland is close enough to San Francisco that I won't have to live in death-town, CA. I can deal with LA--Justin says there's a cool part and I might be able to live there with him and not totally hate it. (Not living in the part where mall-rats say "totally.")

I must remain neutral, for 57 more days.

My kinda town [with Justin is].

Later skaters! It's pretty in San Diego now, so I'm getting out there before something freaky happens and we pretend to have a season.

I'm so Excited!

And I just can't hide it,
I know,
I know...

Yep. Totally working.

But I just heard this story on NPR that included a newly non-homeless man saying his art was keeping him from falling back into depression and drugs. Since he had a place to live he felt better, so he started painting, and he's sold some art.

Yesterday I got to do two new paintings, revise one and continue working on another. There's something to be excited about.


In other news.... hard to believe Heath Ledger died yesterday. 28 years old. Had trouble sleeping during the filming of his now last film, where he played the scary monster guy--the Joker in the Dark Night (follow up to Batman movie). Ennis Delmar in Brokeback Mountain. "Bottom line is, we're around each other and this thing grabs hold of us in the wrong place and the wrong time and we're dead." Dead.

People shouldn't die. Neil's roommate's mom died (60) two days ago. Sudden heart attack. Tom had to fly back to Boston, of course. But who knows when he will return--his father is 70 something, his younger brother needs extra care.

People die and the people around them never have the same lives again.

I asked God to leave us alone this year--no more deaths since Toni and Wayne from last year. I asked for a break, not feeling up to handling another loss. God doesn't listen that closely, what with his habit of creating his own plan. Maybe he's just got me in training, hopefully this year as no more than a rather distant observer with "minor" grief. God knows I am not ready for losses closer to home. I'm running out of people I can't live without.

(And that's minus those that just disappear when their lives change by doing things like having a baby...) cruel lessons that I will have to learn. I lose. We all lose. It's a lesson I am learning. As for the disappeared, well, I have to know they're missing out on a whole lotta love. They lose.

I wonder if they'll resurrect themselves.

If they do, I'll be here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Someone just said: I'm so excited...

I am "especially excited about the possibility of moving [to San Francisco]."

Oh.

I hadn't realized. I just thought I was more willing to move there than I am willing to move to Fresno, LA or Santa Ana. To be honest, it's a bit of a toss up between San Francisco and Chicago, but the below freezing weather and higher airfare from here to there does weigh in favor of San Francisco.

What are these words "especially excited"?

I know... they're what people have to say when they want to convince another person that they really want what the person has to offer to them.

So I'm especially excited.


I'm not especially excited about anything. I just want to know what comes next. I'm never even excited about a vacation until I am actually on the way. I always have too much to do to be excited before whatever it is that happens.

Besides, I'm not taking deep enough breaths to be excited.

Maybe I should breathe more. And start running while the ground is still flat and the weather is still bearable and I still know where I am.

Yeah, I'm totally excited about waiting 58 more days to find out where someone else is going to tell me they've decided I will spend my next four or so years.

Especially excited.

More immediately, I am especially excited about eating large quantities of chocolate and watching a crappy chick flick while lying on the couch in my cozy apartment that happens to be walking distance from Blockbuster, the public library, Henry's and a slew of bars and restaurants.

I've heard there's places like this oh so comfortable neighborhood in other parts of the United States.

Yep.

Super excited.

I'm going to go practice breathing now. While I keep being excited about just today... because really that's all I can handle.

One
day at a time.

Just one day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Contests

There's some debate, but according to one study, tomorrow is the most depressing day of the year. It's because of the weather, the consumer debt, the crazy politics and so forth.

There's something to look forward to.

Another study says that the most depressing day was before Thanksgiving, based on the number of web hits on sites regarding "depression" or "anti-depressants."

There's something to think about.

Me, I'm sad because my Chargers lost. Worse, they lost to the cheaters and mean people: The New England Patriots with the coach cheater and the fans who got so rowdy last game that the ER guys from Harvard who work the game had to intubate a guy in the bathroom because he got beat up so badly he wasn't even breathing anymore.

And we wonder why this nation is so embarrassingly ripped apart morally (and that would be by the Christian right....) and so crappy at being the so-called leaders of the free world.

At least I still have hope for the Green Bay Packers and the upstanding moral character of dear Brett Favre to win this game and the the Super Bowl in two weeks.



Meanwhile, I also have to figure out who to vote for in the February 5, 2008, presidential primaries. Some one said the world wasn't ready for a Black man or a Woman to be the President yet. Another person said that the shame is that we can make the statement as Democrats that we are ready by voting for Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the primary, but that John Edwards is really the only electable one because of the race and gender issue.

Naturally, this kind of commentary is very sad to me. I want to vote for who I think will be the best President. I do not want to have to consider other people's ability to work with the person because of the person's race or gender identity. But perhaps a smart vote takes those characteristics into consideration. Perhaps America isn't ready for idealism in voting... in politics...

But should we just keep waiting for people to "get ready"? Or should we make them ready? Martin Luther King, Jr., didn't sit around waiting for people to get ready on their own. He helped them along. So maybe we have to keep helping people along and maybe sometimes that means taking a few steps back (it's not like ending up in the Birmingham jail was probably what he had in mind for progress).

Of course there's the cost benefit-analysis: can we endure another Republican president? Especially the ones as scary as those we have running now, just because ignorant people are more comfortable with white skinned old men as leaders?

I guess I have to use my vote as what it is: MY vote. If I think the American citizens are selling out, it doesn't mean I have to sell out. It also doesn't mean I have to vote because of identity as a person of color or as a woman. It means I can vote the way I live--with equal respect for human beings without regard to color or gender or sexual orientation.

In the end, that means I have to do more research on the candidates records, beliefs and plans. It means I have to vote smart (as usual), instead of voting sight.

It means working harder than the average Jane.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Memory of Biological History

Sometimes I find the natural wonder of the human body to be a bit too smart.

I'm chalking-up my January mood dip to that horrible clock that says, "Hey lady, you're supposed to have a three-year old kid, but you don't. What's up with that? Oh yeah, your body failed you in 2005 and things got really screwy after that. Bummer."

The problem is that even though I am happy that I do not have a child right now--my life is too complicated for taking full responsibility for a small person just now--that one loss is attached to so many other losses and forced the hand of making so many other changes that it is difficult not to mourn the overall loss of my old life and old ways and old me when my body throws itself into remembering the conception, miscarriage and non-birth of its child.

Weren't reading this blog then? In brief, married in 2002, child-wanting begins in 2003, medical school started in 2004, miscarriage in May 2005, body-whacked-out by not doing what it thought it would be doing in late December/January 2005, reeling life changes in 2006. No more teaching. Lots of doctors appointments involving tests, dizziness, nausea, hospitalizations and a bonus breast cancer scare including tests with needles and lumpectomy. It was a horrifically, ridiculously bad year. 2007 was a vast improvement with progress in art, photography and re-entry into the work force, albeit no longer as a teacher. I refocused on my own creative talents rather than on teaching other people how to develop their creative talents, and I like it.

But I hate that my body has such a good memory. I don't want it to remind me that three years ago this week I was trying to figure out how to be so sick, balancing myself between students' desks by resting my hand (hopefully ever so inconspicuously) as I walked by them en route to whoever had raised their hand. I don't want to think about all my old friends and colleagues doing their grades now and trying to figure out what to teach next and how. I don't want to wonder why they are old friends--why people who have babies and keep teaching can't return phone calls of a woman without a classroom and who enjoyed their company anyway. I don't want to wonder about their kids that were born and are three or two or almost one now and whom I do not know even though they were my "borrow babies". I don't want to wonder why.

So I'll try to forget it. I have new good friends now. Friends who let me borrow their puppies and like to hang out and be real friends--friends who have more to talk about than other people's kids behavior issues and crazy parents.

You can pick your friends, your job, your future.

I just have to remember that my choices may have been prompted by a life experience I never would have chosen to have--that I would never wish on anyone. I just have to stay focused on what I do with the aftermath of those losses. I know that the choices I make now are mine. So, I can't spend all my time crying (a little bit is OK), I have to keep moving forward and avoid the quicksand of depression. I know how to walk around those traps and I will not get lost this year. 2008 holds promise and new opportunities for decisions. 2008 is mine. Mine--and I am more than my body and its biology.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

His Interviews are Completed!

So for a few days now we actually have a tiny bit of control over our next-four-years fate, then he will submit his list and we have to wait until March 20, 2008, to find out where we "matched."

In no particular order, just as they pop into my head: UCSD, UCSF (new program, in the city), Northwestern (downtown Chicago), USC, Bakersfield, Fresno, UCLA, UCI, Cook County (Illinois), a couple of other places in the LA and SF area... it's been hard for me to keep track of all the places he's interviewed. Sometimes I am not even certain which city he is in or going to and have to remember whether the trip involves an airport or just the car.

It is so incredibly surreal to have my life painted as the underpainting of whatever the medical community and my husband decide the next layer will be--I don't even know where I will be living! So once they figure that out, I have to paint a third layer, a revision? a new painting entirely? a continuation? Anything I want... but it has to be built from my partners work before me...

I adjust to change when it happens, but the anticipation kills me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Living on Homicide Road

Since the car-theft-turned-homicide of last weekend, our street has been glittering. It turns out it is not actually anyone's responsibility to clean up the broken glass from car accidents--so you can imagine what a street looks like after it has had a stolen truck crash into a moving vehicle and eight or nine parked cars only to roll over and kill the owner-who-jumped-in-the-bed-to-stop-the-thieves.

Now we can't walk down the street without having to keep pieces of glass from getting in the puppies paws. When we drive it's glitter glitter glitter glittery.

It's one thing to think about someone's car stereo getting stolen when I walk by glass in the street.

It's another to keep remembering that a man from down the street spent the last few minutes of his life in the bed of a wildly speeding pick-up truck that killed him.

This weekend Diana and I are going to sweep up the glass and throw it away. We need to push away the memory, instead of pushing replay in the glassy starlight of the day.

This much hope = Fear and Loathing

When Barack Obama began telling the people of the United States that he was the key to a better future, that we should have Hope we bought it.

I believed it.

I feel so sickened and grieved with the world's endurance of the Bush administration, I am so tired of remembering the days of shame, when our state's governor was recalled, when our mayor was replaced, when our City Council was mired in economically poor decisions that deprived people of their pension as promised. I am so tired of being embarrassed to be an American, instead of being proud to be American.

I remember the pride I felt when I took my oath of citizenship at 18-years-old that I had become a member of a great nation, a world leader toward a better future.

And now I just feel sad.

I am a sad American. I sometimes do forget September 11, 2001. Why? Because we are fighting an insane war in a country that had nothing to do with that attack. Iraq. I heard the death count of Iraqi's yesterday and could not distinguish between terrorists. My first rationalization was, "our leader is more organized, more powerful, more rational. Our people have been given reasons for our leaders' behavior and we believe that they are doing the right thing for the right reasons." Then I realized that the people of the world had similar thoughts in World War II as we allowed Hitler to continue his march through Europe and completely ignored the genocides in China and Japan as related in the tandem of death.

I wondered if we were repeating that history in an incredibly horrific way.

I wondered how close to hell and the devil this purgatory of life had become. The so-called Christian Right is training its children to be warriors for Christ (see Jesus Camp, an A&E documentary if you really want to be fascinated and terrified at once). My so-called Christian liberals hold to the Gospel of Jesus and remember that He was a rebel, that he ate with the people he was not supposed to even speak with, that he loved the prostitutes and gave them true hope, that he fought the thieving government and turned over the tables in the the temple. But our voices are so quiet, muted next to the fundamentalist evangelicals who give Christians a bad name and don't even recognize their parallels with the very people they call their enemies--the people who do not hold their religion. "I think they're Muslims," said Rachael, when she heard Black men in a park say they were going to heaven after they died but didn't follow up with "Jesus saved me" or "I accepted Jesus into my heart on such and such date." (Jesus Camp, closing scenes & credits)

Now, with all the other politicians running for President and the governor and mayor also proclaiming that there is hope for the future (all chanting hope for change, whether they have held office for years or are relative newbies), I do not feel secure in the message any more.

How can they all promise change? How can they deliver?

And if we are all supposed to have hope, isn't that just a euphemism for saying, "Life really sucks right now and we know it. Things need to change because right now we are the road to dissolution and demolition and doom."?

Why has the phrase "hope for the future" begun to leave me with fear and loathing?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Unreasonably Good Time

The puppies and I kept each other company tonight.

We are the faithful partners of Very Important People.

My husband is an MSIV and in LA for ER interviews.

Their People are CEOs and City Council Member servants, so they had to go to the State of the City Address from the Mayor.

So before I went to work and made sure that food was properly placed on people's plates and that there was enough sour cream in the fridge, I stopped by the puppies house to feed them and take them on a short walk. Then, when I got off work early I called their People to ask if the puppies were still at home alone because they both looked so sad when I left earlier, and I thought I could maybe go keep them company if they were lonely. The Important People were very glad that I could do that because it would make the puppies happy--and I was happy because why should we have to be alone when we can be together?

And even though they would have loved my eau de parfum of burgers and fries, even they would have hated it after they realized I was not actually a plate of food. So, I stopped at home and put my PJs on. Despite the delay of running into a friend on the way out of work and chatting for a while, plus the shower, they were still alone when I got there.

Which is a really long and boring way to get to the good part: Yaz is an incredibly jealous and manipulative little bitch.

After the Festival of the Joyful Arrival Ceremony, I settled down on the couch with Entertainment Weekly and invited them to both join me. Stan was delighted and jumped right up, then sat with lots of dignity--nose in the air with pride! Meanwhile, Yaz stood at a distance, eyeing us. Then she went to get a drink of water. After considering our situation for a while longer she went to the door and rang the Yaz Has to Pee bells. Given that my arrival usually does equate with a trip to the Doggie Bathroom outside, I figured I'd get up and open the door, just to see if she went outside. They both did, but neither went down the stairs, and when I went back inside and left the door open they followed me.

Then Yaz jumped on the couch and sat next to where I had been sitting. Stan just stared at us and then went to get his Rubber Caged Tennis Ball so he could sit at our feet and chew it.

Still wanting at least Some Attention, Stan played the Stare At the Ball Until it Moves game with me.

Yaz actually lifted her left paw and put it over my throwing arm so that I would stop moving so much.

I told Stan we weren't allowed to play anymore, "Yaz said so," but he didn't get it, so I had to use my other arm and the extension of the magazine length to roll the ball around for him.

He's a very playful dog. We kept this up--me reading the magazine and using it as a ball swatter, Yaz stretched out and resting her head on me to ensure her position as Chief Recipient of Attention--until Yaz decided to try ringing the bells again.

Sleepy, I gave in after playing with Stan for a while and hoping enough time had passed to have tricked Yaz into thinking it was my idea to let them walk me home. I brought them in (just for a minute! so I could wash my hands!) (we're not even allowed to have dog visitors--ever. Landlord rules.) and quickly assessed the non-dog-proofed-ness of our digs. This apartment is really not meant for guests, and especially not for dogs or infants. Or non-adults of any sort, really.

They were thrilled though. Very excited to check things out, but frustrated that I limited them to the length of their leashes from the leg of the kitchen table. Despite Yaz's company, Stan was a little skittish, and I was lucky and they didn't bark or whine.

I really want them to come over for a slumber party, but it's too stressful. Stan doesn't like change, Yaz would get lonely without him and I'd probably have to take her home in the middle of the night--like when one of the little girls at a sleepover can't sleep and starts to cry. Plus I have to whisper because I'm afraid the neighbors will know I'm talking to dogs.

I drove them back and Stan's competing interests nearly drove me mad--he seems to believe there is a tennis ball somewhere in the car and wants to dig to it but also wants to look out the window and feel the wind blowing through his beard and eyelashes.

At home, there was the Water on the Sidewalk evidence that I had just taken them out (Stan sometimes doesn't make it to the grass to pee, so then we have to hose the walkway down) and the car was in the driveway. They didn't believe me until they went inside, but their People were home.

I drove myself home while I was still feeling safe in the dark on the Street Where the Homicide Happened Last Weekend.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No Old White Men!

Iowa Caucus: Barack Obama
New Hampshire Primary: Hillary Clinton

On both counts my kinship with them grants me hope.

Pride.

Hope.

Plus this touch of surprise that I should not have to feel hope or pride or even surprise that someone other than a white man can (seriously, maybe) become the President in my lifetime.

Monday, January 07, 2008

While you were gone....

A sixty-year-old man who lived two blocks from us jumped in the bed of his pick-up truck after he heard its engine start and saw it being driven away. To try to dump the guy, the driver and his friend crashed into a car and hit eight other cars, then rolled the truck on our friends' street, just two blocks away from their house. All this activity in just six blocks, starting three little blocks from our apartment.

We could see police cars blocking off the street when we pulled onto our street to park after a trip to LA; it was nearly midnight and we decided just to go into our home to stay safe, since in our graffiti art/holiday decoration/dog walking/car-break-in neighborhood you never know what might be happening.

Our friends told us.

So much for believing that our neighborhood was safe...

When I first heard that a guy jumped into a stolen truck, I figured he was young--like in his twenties at the oldest. Then, when I heard he was sixty I pictured one of the lovely crack-heads or meth addicts we sometimes see or hear about, but according to the Union-Tribune story he was a handyman who loved his truck, whose sister said he was looking forward to visiting his mother in an assisted-living facility as soon as he could drive when his driver's license was reinstated.

Bizzarrio in the barrio.

Imagine if we'd been walking the puppies. Or coming home from hanging out with some friends.

After the truck rolled, the guys ran away. One of them got caught. One did not. The police blocked off the street and our other friends couldn't drive past the yellow tape to get home.

So there it is. Home sweet home.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The First Year

2008.

It's here.

This year Justin will graduate from medical school. On March 20 The Match will be revealed. On June 1 our next adventure will officially begin: Dr. and Mrs. Justin P. Anderson.

This is the first year I am beginning as a healthy woman in God knows how many years. (Never mind that I am typing this with my right wrist in a brace because I sprained it.) I said this out loud to Justin on Christmas, but we were both afraid to jinx it until the turning of the calendar page: in 2007 neither of us spent any time in the hospital--as patients, at least.

I feel like I've sifted through the ashes and dust that compose me and realize more clearly the forms my life can take. I understand more about myself than I have in the past (duh--people are supposed to learn more about themselves as they grow older), but more importantly I understand that I have to honor what I know.

I think what I am saying is that I know I am capable of doing a lot and I have an idea of what more I might be able to do with my skill set. As so much opportunity and possibility for change lies before us in this year alone, I have to stay focused on Brian's favorite saying: I am a human Being not a human Doing.

I have to focus on who I am going to be, not even what I am going to be.

As someone recently reminded me, it's kindness, loyalty, reliability, compassion, love that connect me to the world. No longer a classroom teacher and journalism adviser, it is still not what I do that makes me who I am. Dog walker, hostess, student, artist, photographer... none of that defines me. Not even daughter, sister, friend, wife... I am just Olaina. I guess my job is to make sure that I choose to do things (the what) that serve me well, that make who I am someone that I want to be.

At the center of all of that being is love, grace-type. God-type. Little-Christs-type. I think what I know is that I am sustained by God's love and that examples of His love are worldwide. Not examples even, more like samples--like the little bites of food they hand out at Costco, or the squirts of perfume or brushes of lipstick you can have for free before you decide you want, need, must have more. But in this scenario, people don't have to buy more--you know, since we're saved by grace through faith alone and all that. We don't have to buy God's love with barters of deeds or tithes. He just loves us, for no reason at all but that we are His children. I suppose it is because of that love that we share love in return.

So what do I do this year?

Love.

Do things lovingly.

What a round about way to get to Mother Theresa's saying, "...do small things with great love."

Where and when and what is to be revealed.