31 May 2007

Extraordinary Rendition

I have wanted to write about this for a long while, but stayed out of the debate until now. This is the process by which the American government has been taking accused terrorists to a third country, not the accused's homeland and not the United States, to interrogate them. This practice is so incredibly counter to every ideal this country was founded on. Let's just toss the Geneva Conventions completely aside, shall we? The Idiot Administration is not only complacent in this program, but an advocate of it. NPR had two stories on Morning Edition that talked about this unbelievable situation, the first about the ACLU suing a Boeing subsidiary.

As more and more of the process is exposed to the light of day, it becomes more and more horrifying. Not only did the government do this, but they had help from civilian companies, even support. Jeppesen Dataplan is accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of actively assisting the CIA by doing what Jeppesen does every day, which is provide logistical support to help maximize fuel economy and fastest flight plan routes for civilian and government contracts. In short, the lawsuit is about a company profiting from torture, which thankfully IS still illegal, even though the Idiot Administration seems to think that torture itself is all right.

There is a village in Texas missing its idiot! Personally, I can not wait until he goes back to Crawford, settles on his ranch, and disappears from public life. That statement alone is probably enough to get me an FBI file, sigh. Being anti-Bush is not the same as being anti-American. I get so tired of explaining that.

The second thing Morning Edition broadcast about this reprehensible program was about the European viewpoint. Sylvia Poggioli had a report about a conference that took place in Italy, on counter-terrorism. Did you know that Italy has indicted 26 Americans accused of kidnapping in connection to the extraordinary rendition program? Which is awesome, even if they never do get to prosecute the case. The Europeans are particularly critical of extraordinary rendition, (as well they should be. So should we all.) and of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Their view is that ER is no different than government sanctioned kidnapping and torture.

They used a phrase in the report that particularly amused me, "ghost prisons." And while I know what they mean is the off-the-books secret detention facilities that the CIA apparently has all over the world, it made me giggle because I wonder if they have EMF readers.

The end of that report had a quote that I'd like to highlight, where one of the interviewees said that whoever the next president of the United States is, damage control and restoring US credibility with Europe and the Muslim world will be one of the first priorities. We can only hope.

30 May 2007

About time, doncha think?

NPR reported on All Things Considered yesterday afternoon that the Idiot Administration has finally seen fit to impose some sanctions on Sudan for the conflict and slaughter of civilians in the Darfur region. Way to step up to the plate, there, Mr. President!! This has been going on for only four years before you decided to make some tougher regulations.

NPR's piece made the very interesting point that the Idiot Admin has been talking about doing something in Darfur for a long time, but not suiting the deeds to the words. Miss Condee has given speeches, W has said a thing or two, but not until NOW have they decided that they ought to do something more? And is it enough? Hardly, in my ever so humble.

Cynical girl inside my head would like to take a moment to note that the administration probably needs to distract the public yet again from the fact that they can't find Osama and that the wars on both fronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan are not going so well. (How many more people need to die in Iraq before there are some policy changes?) Or p'haps because W's poll numbers are down again and they think they're going to get points from a target demographic by looking like they're doing something.

Three other things I'd like to mention, all not remotely connected to this topic.

NPR has also been doing a series about soldiers and post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, which has made for RIVETING listening. Daniel Zwerdling, the reporter, has a wonderful voice that only adds to the experience. Give it a listen.

Not from NPR, but PRI (public radio international) comes This American Life, which is a amazing radio program. I spent some time in the car yesterday and since I've subscribed to the podcasts, I have about 4 that I haven't listened to. Rather than try to explain the amazing thing that TAL is, I'm just going to have to write a whole post about it another day. Stay tuned for that.

Finally, I'm very pleased to say that yesterday I ran 1.2 miles in 13 minutes, 47 seconds. Which was awesome. A bit painful. Considering when I started working out in October that the two flights of stairs to the cardio studio at the gym made me winded, this is most excellent.

29 May 2007

Spotted on a hybrid's bumper

DEMOCRATS think the glass is half full.
REPUBLICANS think the glass is theirs

Stuff I have no business writing about.

Seriously. So not qualified. That never stops me from having an opinion, though.

Child abuse is something I'll never understand. A few days ago, DH was testing a computer that he'd fixed for a friend of ours by randomly surfing his bookmarked sites. Our online interests have no convergence whatsoever, hence the 4 operable computers in the room where we spend the most time. He reads MSN, I'm not a Micro*suck devotee.

MSN had an article about a 4 year old boy whose mother was serving in Iraq, the child was beaten to death by the woman's boyfriend. How the hell do you beat a 4 year old to death? You are at least three times the kid's size. (The link takes you to Military Times, since I can't find the article on MSN. That's what I get for not bookmarking it at the time.)

Last year, I wrote a few posts about a Massachusetts girl, Haleigh Poutre, also beaten by someone charged with caring for her, except in her case, she was beaten almost to death, and when her case hit the news, it was a right-to-die case because she was on life support and the decision to remove her from life support was a court battle.

Not only does this stuff mystify me, but it sickens me as well. I held a newborn the other day, perfect and tiny and helpless. I looked at her in wonder, her tiny fingers and toes each an individual miracle.

With that wonder firmly in mind, I don't understand how on earth someone can hurt a child. I understand temper and rage, believe me, I do. I have a fearsome temper. It is part of the reason that I'm not a parent.

Ohio's foster care system occasionally comes under fire for horrible atrocities suffered by the kids who live within its intricate mess. When I worked in the big bad city, that county's foster care system ended up being taken over by the state because of their ineptitude. There were a bunch of horrific cases, such as a kid "escaping" from his foster home in the middle of winter in boxers and t-shirt and no shoes; his siblings, in that same home he'd escaped from, were so malnourished that it was reported that they might never grow to proper size. How do you starve a child?

I just can't get my brain wrapped around the idea. That isn't a bad thing, you understand, but I'd like to know how things like this 4 year old dying could be prevented. I'm not naive enough to think that all child abuse could be prevented, however, what could prevent the beating deaths of children?

But then the problem is a case of Quis Custodiet, who watches the watchers? If we mandate parenting classes for all potential parents, (i.e. nearly the entire population of this country) who runs them? Please let me be crystal clear, I don't think that the government has any business at all telling you if you can or can not have a child. Mostly. Nor do I think it would be a good idea to put Uncle Sam in charge of parenting classes; the government has screwed up HUD, Medicaid, Medicare, welfare, Social Security, just about every social program ever started by Uncle Sam is a wreck. So by no means should they get into the business of telling people how to be better parents.

If they were to be voluntary classes, those who truly need them would never be touched by them. Have them be mandatory in schools? Please! Twisty wrote a fantastic post the other day about the broken-ness that is America's schools, from the feminist point of view, that is most excellent reading and speaks to part of the reason I don't think high school parenting classes would work. Mandate parenting classes for university students? So many people 1. don't go to college and 2. have already had babies by the time they do go. I don't know what the answer is. I just know that the death of this little boy is senseless, brutal, tragic, and heartbreaking, and I wish I knew a way to prevent it from happening to another family.

I deserve that "hemorrhaging heart liberal" label, I'd like to save everyone and everything.

Listening to: "Save Yourself" Dave Matthews Band

28 May 2007

Unexpected but pleasant surprise.

I spend quite a bit of time cruising my local chain bookstores. We have a Barnes & Noble and a Borders, not far away is a Joseph Beth Bookseller. They're nice and all, but kind of homogeneous.

Used to be there was a great independent bookseller located not far from where I live now, in a rambling old house. Books could be found shelved on every available surface, including on shelves over the toilet in the bathroom. Sci-Fi/Fantasy was in the basement, cookbooks near the back door, horror lined both staircases. It closed not long after Barnes & Noble came to town. I miss it; they introduced me to some of my favorite authors, it was there that I first found Anne McCaffrey. They even introduced me to lots of other things I'd never have picked up, published by alternative presses, things written by folks that I'd have never been exposed to otherwise.

I was in Barnes & Noble over the weekend, looking for presents for a birthday party. Going into ANY bookstore is dangerous for me. I love to read, and while my interests focus on the universes created by authors who write about dragons and spaceships, I'll read just about anything. Biographies, non-fiction, cookbooks...I think I've written about this before, so I'll stop walking that same path. The point is: I like to read. I will "lose" time in a bookstore, wandering the stacks, picking up random things, reading them 'for just a second' and suddenly I'll look at my watch and three hours has gone by. Ooops. The same thing happens to me in libraries.

At a display table near the children's section, a powder-blue paperback cover caught my eye. While the expression says that you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, we all do. Interesting artwork on a book's cover will always catch my eye. This one has three of those Valentine's candy hearts, with the words, "Boy Meets Boy" in the center of each heart, on that powder blue field. Nothing else. A wee bit jarring in its simplicity, surrounded by books for teens about cliques and whatever other tosh is popular that show girls dressed in the latest styles, mice with swords, elaborate and eye-catching designs.

I read about three chapters before I remembered that I had somewhere specific to be at a scheduled time, so I reluctantly put it down and found birthday presents. But the memory of those three chapters has stayed with me, and I almost need to go back and either read the rest of it or just buy it.

I'm surprised about the book's subject matter being so openly, prominently, displayed in my very conservative community. It is a high school love story, yes, but the principal characters are gay. I'm thrilled that it wasn't on a low shelf somewhere, wrapped in plain brown paper, because that's the way things would normally be handled around here.

The world inhabited by the central characters is devoid of homophobia, in fact the principal character talks about setting up a Gay-Straight Alliance in junior high school. Progressive, to say the least. Surprising, and refreshing.

It isn't like this kind of thing is difficult to find in the information age. The internet can lead you to anything you'd like, as long as you know how to search. Back when I was in high school, though, there weren't romance novels for gay kids, or any kind of resources for them. Not a single one of my contemporaries was openly gay in high school. In the several years its been since I graduated, though, several of them have come out. It goes without saying that most of them have chosen to move on, to bigger cities, where people aren't so incredibly intolerant. Ohio's "Defense of Marriage" constitutional amendment, passed recently, would have been enough for me to leave the state, were I gay. As it is, it just makes me embarrassed to be from Ohio.

As I walked out, wondering if B&N had been infected with the spirits of those independent booksellers I miss so much, I spotted someone who I know used to work in that rambling old house. He smiled and waved, recognizing me. Aha! Influence only for the good.

26 May 2007

The Stranger

And a music/mental health post to end the week. Maybe I'll get back to politics next week. Maybe not.

You might have never heard of O.A.R. Or maybe if you're a fan of a reality television show where they tear down houses and build new ones, you've heard of them because they sing the theme song. They're a band, with a decent sized following, but not (at least as far as I know) mega stars on the top 40 circuit. They're mostly from Maryland, but the band lived in Columbus, while they all attended Ohio State. Which is of course my connection to them, that they lived once upon a time in Oh-hi-ia. Never mind that it is a large state and Columbus isn't all that close to me.

O. A. R. stands for "Of A Revolution." It is tough for me to describe their music, being comprised as it is of equal parts crunchy sweet pop, reggae, roots, ska and rock...

I'm a fan, have been for years. Babysis introduced me to their music, back when she was in high school and running to Columbus from the cornfields of our region to visit friends of hers who were going to OSU. I never went with her, but I wish I had, she got to see them in small Columbus clubs.

They released their latest album, Stories of A Stranger, in 2005, although a quick check of their website shows that they've got a new live album dropping on June 5th. Their website is also currently featuring the song I'd like to talk about, "The Stranger," so if you'd like to take a listen, check out the link to their page.

The song captures well what I've been feeling lately, being alienated from everyone and everything with the huge dragging suck of depression. It is hard to explain to someone who has never been there, but I feel cut off from the world, which is sunny outside my door. Inside, however, it is dark and gloomy, and I don't know how to change it. I can see where I want to be, I know how I used to feel, there's memory for the pathway back, but I just can't take the first step. There's a lyric in the song,

I remember
how to get there
Will you be there
When I'm coming through?

Take me back
Into your arms
Where I belong
Where I'm no stranger
To you

I'm fairly certain that friends and family feel that I'm radically different than I was a year ago because of this fog that surrounds me, that I've become a stranger to them with very little that is recognizable as "Lucy," when they're not thinking simply that I'm completely off my rocker.

Unfortunately, as I have told nearly everyone in my life, this is something that they can't fix for me, can't change for me, that I have to work through it on my own, despite how much I appreciate that they'd like to be able to just wave a wand and change it for me. (Why, yes, I'd happily accept a Cheering Charm from a Hogwarts student!) Some days are better than others, and as I told one friend the other day, I feel like every time I talk to any one of my wonderfully supportive friends, all I'm doing is whining and dumping on them, and I really wish I could stop that, because it isn't fair to them.

I can't help but wonder if the meds are not as much of a solution as I'd hoped. I'm taking 150 mg/day of WellButrin XL, and I've been taking it every day since early April. Do I feel better than I did during the darkest days before I was able to admit that there's a problem? I do. Do I think it is working as well as it ought to? I do not. Unfortunately, with the entire class of anti-depressant medication, sometimes what works for one person will not work at all for another. Another problem is that you need to give the meds 4-6 weeks to get into your system and begin changing your brain chemistry. Four to six weeks is a pretty long time when you're depressed. And a third problem is that researchers have recently discovered that even while changing your brain chemistry, sometimes the medications pescribed for depression make the patient suicidal. Suicidal thoughts are a SIDE EFFECT. Yikes.

Lest anyone start pushing the panic button: I am NOT suicidal. I do understand how someone suffering from depression can get there, though. With pretty frightening ease.

But I think for me, the meds are making it hard for me to feel much of anything. I'm not sure if this is a side effect or if the depression is progressing and getting worse. I feel obligated to point out that if I truly thought it was getting worse, I would ask my therapist to put me into inpatient psychiatric treatment. I don't really think it is getting worse. It just seems to not be getting better, really, either. I had said a few months ago that feeling nothing at all would be preferable to feeling the way I did, but now I'm not so sure. I'm having a very hard time being excited about anything, and the joy that I have always taken in very simple things is severely lacking. Except for randomly bursting into tears over really stupid stuff (such as television commercials?!) I'm not really feeling any emotion at all. I'm tired, and that's about it.

The emotions that I do end up feeling are like flashes of lightening, intense, bright, and very brief. Visiting a friend a few days ago, her little girl ran up to me and threw her arms around me, which nearly sparked more tears because I felt so good, for just a second. How can you not feel wonderful when confronted with a toddler's enthusiastic greetings?

I called Dr. Hottie's office, looking for some assistance and guidance about the meds. He's changed my dosage, and I'm hoping that helps. Of course, I don't have a medical degree, but the logic in my mind goes something like this; if the small dosage of the anti-d's helped, but wasn't quite the solution, then perhaps a larger dosage might be the ticket. I hope so. My next appointment with the therapist is in two weeks time, and I'm very glad that I have it scheduled.

I spent the whole day on Friday listening to "Stories of a Stranger" over and over, as is an occasional nutty habit, and I'll probably have bits and pieces of all the songs popping up in my head for the next 3 days. Shall I share with you? Yes! Why should I be the only one with it stuck in my head?

From "The Stranger"
I'm a stranger
on the outside
when I'm not right
next to you

From 52-50
fifty two, fifty more
days till I might come back from war
I'm gonna love you up and love ya down

From Program Director
Program director
on the radio
won't play my music
till I call and tell him so

See?! Crunchy, sweet, sticky pop...but you gotta listen to the music for the full effect.

25 May 2007

Size ain't nothin' but a number- - - and it is a dumb and irrelevant number, at that.

While there has been quite a bit happening politically that interests me, I've been more in the mood to mostly write personal posts this week. This post will be no exception. But hello, Congress, passing a 100 billion (yep, that's billion with a B) piece of legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Um, Uncle Sam? Where is this money going to come from? Oh, that's right. My tax dollars. Sigh. With such a stellar example from the government, is it any wonder that the average Joe has thousands of dollars in personal credit card debt? Rhetorical questions all. Back to the point of this post.

Last weekend, DH and I popped in to Target after our Sunday morning out-to-breakfast ritual. He loves to cruise through a handful of stores after taking a peek at the Sunday ads (just about the only worthwhile part of our local paper). Personally, I prefer to lounge around and read, or do a few small projects around the house, or do nothing at all on Sundays, but every now and then I tag along with him.

He went off in the direction of whatever he wanted to look at from the ad, and I wandered into the clothing section. I vastly prefer Target to, say, Wal-Mart. The ranting and raving about Wally's will have to wait for another day, but let's just say that I had to study quite a lot about them in business school (my University degree is in business, FYI) and their business practices SUCK! {end rant}

I am pretty fond of Isaac Mizrahi and Target's Merona brand, and the Mossimo line. But I haven't purchased any clothing for myself since around this time last year, when K drug me out looking for something to wear to a work event she had to go to. I don't like looking at my rolls in the mirror, and am disgusted at the size I need to purchase to fit myself. Or, rather, I had been up until Sunday.

Almost nothing in my closet fits me right now. Almost everything is so large that it either needs taken in at the waist or it just billows out around me, making me look pregnant or like I'm a little girl dressing up out of mommy's closet. I can't believe that I'm bitching about this when it is an obvious good sign of progress, but, I'm still annoyed that I haven't lost all the weight that I want to lose. I realize this isn't too rational, but y'know, I'm not entirely sane. Nothing fits, it is all too big, and it irritates the crap out of me. Especially when getting dressed for work in the morning, I'm trying on an average of 3 different outfits every day, attempting to find ANYTHING that fits to wear to work.

Some perverse instinct made me keep a very few of my business suits in smaller sizes when I gained weight, so there are about 2 suits that fit. Both of them wool and heavily lined. Not exactly springtime wear, eh? Since I work in a very professional environment, I can't just wear the sweats and other comfy stuff that does fit, I actually do need clothes that fit to wear to work.

I haven't wanted to go out and buy an all-new wardrobe because I have no intentions of staying this size. And because it would be expensive. My stated goal is to lose about another 30-40 pounds, making the weight loss a grand total of about 70 pounds. That's where I ought to be according to the info on the height/weight charts, but that doesn't really matter to me. My reason for that weight is that's where I felt pretty comfortable, and with the muscle definition I should have by that time, I'll be looking darn fabu. (Ego? Me? Naaaaah.)

But I found a bunch of things in Target that I liked on the clearance racks and I picked up a few things to try on, disappearing into the dressing room for about a half hour. (DH searched the entire store for me during this time, even going out to the car to see if I was waiting there. Which kind of cracks me up.)

I had chosen things in a smaller size than I've worn in years, a 10. Just an idle, and hopeful, guess. Three brands, Merona, Issac, and Mossimo, and don't you know that the 10 in Issac's stuff fit, the Merona did not, and the Mossimo skirt did, but the pants did not. W.T.F.? Why aren't there standards ACROSS THE INDUSTRY for clothing sizes? There are for the guys....a pair of men's trousers that are 32x32 from Levi's are going to be the EXACT SAME SIZE as a pair of trousers from Brooks Brothers.

Ladies, why on EARTH do we put up with this? Think about the collected time that you've WASTED in dressing rooms over the years, agonized that the size {{whatever}} you picked up off the rack didn't fit. Or guessing, when trying on something made by a clothing line that you've never heard of, what size might fit, and having to go back and try 3 or 4 more of whatever it is on to find your size. What a pain!

I'm going to make an attempt to stop giving a damn about that number on the tag. If it fits, wear it. If it doesn't, who cares. But wouldn't it be nice to have some standardization, so that a 10 is a 10 is a 10? I'm just sayin'.


By the way, I ended up buying a black & white sheath dress, a black suit jacket, and a pair of black trousers. With tax, a grand total of about $47. As I said, some of the stuff I took back to try on didn't fit, so I grabbed a larger size of the trousers off the rack on the way home, and ended up having to go back to exchange them, because the pair two sizes larger was huge. When I exchanged the trousers, I picked up a black and white skirt too, ($14) so I ended up with 3 outfits for less than $100. Not bad. Not bad at all.

24 May 2007

Memorial Day

Full disclosure: I am NOT now and will never be a fan of the newspaper USA Today. When I'm traveling and hotels or airlines give away free copies, I don't even bother to glance at it. It is just too close to tabloids for me, a dumbed down version of the national news with far too much focus on superficial stuff. If I want gossip, I'll check the gossip sites I've got in my links list. If I want news, I'll pick up the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal. Don't even get me started on the horrible rag that is my hometown paper, a bare few steps above the USA Today.

That said, yesterday I was waiting for my number to be called at what used to be my favorite lunch spot, where I'd ordered a sandwich and a cup of soup, to go. Really hard to make, right? Right. Anyway. I waited nearly 40 minutes, and out of desperation and boredom, so I didn't start screaming at the staff, I picked up their copy of USA Today and paged through it. This article caught my eye, providing inspiration for a post. Unfortunately, you've got to spend money to get the full version of the article, so allow me to sum up what the author says at the end. He's grateful for Memorial Day because it gives us the opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us. Me too.

I didn't mark the anniversary of my cousin J's death this year with a post about her, not wanting to dwell on her passing, but instead trying to just remember good things about her and her life the week that marked two years since we lost her. And I still don't want to get maudlin about her, were she alive she'd be telling me to "get a fucking grip." (Really. Not one to sugar-coat, our J!)

I've always thought of Memorial Day as more of a patriotic thing, that we were supposed to just think about the service men and women who died for the good ole US of A, but I'm going to ignore that from this year on. Yes, recognize those who died for the freedoms that we enjoy, but also remember those who you loved who aren't here anymore, and remember how fleeting and precious life is.

I want to make a list of those that I miss dreadfully, when they died and who they were to me, but that would be entirely too depressing. So instead I want to talk about what each person taught me, hoping that it will be inspiring rather than a downer.

Grandpa L, not really related to me, but the father of my dad's best friend, my 'surrogate grandpa'; taught me that friends are the family you choose for yourself. He was a big influence on me, treating my sisters and I as little different than his own grandkids. And he taught me that popping bubble wrap is one of life's greatest simple pleasures. He was into mail-order stuff big time, in the days before computers, and he would order stuff from catalogs, send it back, order other things...there was a closet in his office which held mail supplies, from boxes to mailing tape, and he never hesitated to allow my sisters and I to pull out his entire stock of bubble wrap and stomp on it. Try it sometime as a stress reliever.

Grandma S, my mother's mum. A love of making homemade strawberry jam, canning and preserving. Picking strawberries with her and Grandpa S are some of my fondest very early memories. She was a quilter, and some of my love of the domestic arts are from her.

Grandpa S., my mother's dad. He did this hilarious little self-deprecating monologue all the time, about who was the boss in his household, which taught me that you should always be able to laugh at yourself. A vital and important lesson, to be sure.

Grandpa B., my dad's dad. One of the lessons he helped to teach me was the importance of work first, play later. The family spent some time in Florida when I was in second grade, which caused me to miss some school. I did the schoolwork for each day early in the morning with him watching, and then we would ride bikes to the beach as a treat when I was done. No homework, no bike ride.

Great Auntie G and Great Uncle R, on my mum's side of the family. I can still hear Aunt G's laugh, years and years after her death, a great, booming, very not girl-y ha HA ha ha HA, which if you heard it in a store and didn't even see her, you'd know she was there, just from that laugh. She taught me to find humor in almost any situation. Uncle R., a gentle, steady presence, proud of our accomplishments and supportive of our endeavors, his death was my first lesson in mortality. His quiet support was a lesson in how to 'be there' when someone needed you.

"Uncle" L, again no relation, but the father of a very close friend in Sweden. He spoke no English whatsoever, and my first week in Sweden, he was looking at coffee table books I had brought to my host family about America and Ohio. I could see his interest, and sat down beside him and proceeded to tell him, in English, all about the places I'd been in each book, and pointed out pictures of my hometown in the Ohio book. I didn't find out until WEEKS later that he spoke not one word of English. (Dope-slap!!) He taught me that nodding and smiling will get you by sometimes, but also that sometimes keeping your mouth shut and not embarrassing someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

And J, last but not least. I learned so much from her about motherhood, watching her with her children, after having known her as a rebellious and, frankly, difficult child and teen herself, was an amazing and beautiful thing. Her no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is style, inherited from her mother, inspired me as well. You got the unvarnished truth from her, like it or not. I admire that still, wishing I could be that ballsy sometimes.

Isn't it interesting, the varied and diverse things that the people who touch our lives, in ways great and small, teach us?

23 May 2007

American citizen held in Iranian jail

NPR had a story this morning about an American woman who is being held in an Iranian jail, accused of being a spy. She's been prevented from leaving Iran for four months.

Considering the fuss that was made over the Brits who were held by Iran earlier this year, I am surprised that this is the first time that I've heard about this.

My disparaging thought is that because this is one woman, female, that they're not going to make a fuss over it, but I honestly think it far more likely that there hasn't been a huge fuss because this woman was born in Iran and became a naturalized American citizen. Which admittedly, isn't all that much less disparaging, really.

Haleh Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, which without Googling I'm guessing is a Washington DC think-tank. Lemme check. Wow, my own powers of intellect amaze me sometimes. From their own website:

The Center is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a lively, neutral forum for free and informed dialogue. (Source)

Living under a totalitarian regime must be terrifying. While I joke quite a bit about President Idiot being a dictator, truth is that even with the erosions of personal freedoms we've endured under his tenure in Washington we still have due process. Ms. Esfandiari's attorneys have yet to be able to speak with her, and the news today was that the Iranian government fully intends to charge her with espionage. Unreal.

Treading into personal opinion here, it seems to me that the religious leaders who make up Iran's de facto government can't handle a successful and well-educated woman, which is why they've arrested her.

I hope sincerely that the Idiot Administration gets involved here to negotiate her release. I'm thinking positive thoughts for her and her family.

22 May 2007

Music Legacy

Continuing with the apparent theme of the week, which seems to be "stealing post ideas from other bloggers," Scaryduck had a post over the weekend that I liked and wanted to comment on, but then had to think entirely too much about it, so it turned into a blogpost of my own. Plus, being about music, rather than politics, it is a great Tuesday Brain Dump idea.

So the question on the table goes something like this. BBC Radio has a program called Generation Tracks where a famous or influential person will talk about music that their parents liked and then passed on to them, and the music that they will pass on to their children. Reading Scary's post, I immediately though, "Oh, the radio station xxxx over in bigtown does that Sphere of Influence thing that is pretty similar, wonder if they stole it from the beeb." And the answer is that of course they did! No one in entertainment ever has an original idea, right? Anyway.

What music did your parents bequeath to you?

My answers here are hilarious in my ever so humble. Perhaps it will explain some of my insanity. One of the first bits of pop that I ever remember hearing was in the family room of my parent's old house, where my mother was blasting the Bee Gees on an 8-track. It was probably the Children of the World album, but I have clear memories of the 'rents owning the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack as well.

The Doobie Brothers were favorites of theirs, as was Crosby, Stills & Nash. My 'rents have never been early adopters of new technologies, but they had a friend who was able to record 8-tracks for them, and there were a bunch of those early versions of mix tapes or playlists around the house. I remember Iron Butterfly and James Taylor, the "Dad loves his work" LP, an admittedly very odd combination.

Most of that was stuff my mum listened to. Not that Dad didn't like music, he does, he did. But I remember Mum listening to lots more music than Dad.

The second part of the question on the table is:

What music will you leave for your children?

and for the purposes of this discussion, we're not going to pretend that I've got kiddies, I'll talk about what I'm leaving to my niece and nephew, and the children of my friends, because they're as close to motherhood as I am ever going to get, OK? Right then.

Ani DiFranco, definitely, that's something I want to leave to all the young girls I know. Her "Not A Pretty Girl" album was a life-changer for me.

Silly stuff that I listen to all the time would have to go on that list too, as what you listen to all the time becomes what you're remembered for liking. So on that list would be the classic rock I've talked about a lot in the past couple of weeks, Def Leppard, Rush, Triumph, The Doors, Zepplin.

Odd independent stuff, like Teitur, Too Much Joy, the Boo Radleys. Early 80s stuff that was big on MTV, Thomas Dolby, the Bodines, the Tubes.

Then the other strong female vocalists that I enjoy singing along with, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan (try to get your hands on some of her early stuff, it is amazing), Sheryl Crow. I've always been a singer, I remember singing along with the Bee Gees at three or four years old. Middlesis and I can harmonize beautifully together, we're both decent singers.

I studied voice with an opera singer for a very long time, from about 11 or 12 until I left the States to go to Europe. I stopped singing in public in college, but to not sing at all would be as easy as not breathing for me. I quit trying to pursue any sort of job in the vocal arts when I realized that I wasn't ever going to be Maria Callas or Mariah Carey.

Mostly, as a legacy to the next generation I'd like to leave the nebulous idea that you should listen to all sorts of music and to not allow commercial success be a factor in deciding what you do or don't like. Thanks to the availability of all types of media positively everywhere, you can find new stuff all by yourself without resorting to opinions of A&R guys or the radio payola system.

Speaking of new music, the newest issue of Rolling Stone is out, and there are a few recommendations from them that I'm going to have to look into when I have a second. Feist, Of Montreal, Arcade Fire and !!! (pronounced chick, chick, chick).

So, either respond in my comments box with the answers to the two questions, or consider this a meme that you've been tagged with and post it on your own blog. Just send me a link if you do.

Listening to: Sarah McLachlan's Vox

20 May 2007

Connections. And interdependence.

Something posted on Very Hot Jews has me thinking. Isn't it interesting how ideas flow from one blogger to another, and how you get inspired from the most unlikely places? For the last couple of days, I've been having trouble thinking of things to write about, coming up with ideas that aren't horribly depressing, (just because I am depressed does not mean that you ought to be too) or aren't things that I've written about 10,000 times before. Which is not to say that I shall ever tire of writing about women's rights and the abortion debate, I will not. But I do like traipsing around other topics, especially occasionally religion.

Please read the post on VHJ, because it is funny and poignant, very well written, relevant, and it will explain how I got where I'm going with my post. I'll wait. You can always hit the back button.

Most of the time, I do not think about religion too much. I don't identify as "Christian." I don't believe in the male Judeo-Christian God with-a-capital-G, Abba, Father. I tend to roll my eyes when I come across mention of faith, god, prayer, et cetera in popular culture. Not always, mind you, just most of the time. Especially when it is trite or forced, or it seems forced to me. That said, I do admire those who have a deep, abiding faith. I don't have faith myself, but I'm happy for you if you do. "That's nice," is my usual audible comment when someone tells me that their faith lends them strength, while in my head I'm usually thinking, "Whatever."

But my Catholic upbringing, whether I like it or not (and I don't) has shaped the way I view the world. As I said a few days ago, nearly 30 years of indoctrination and conditioning are not so easily tossed aside. I wish they were. Guilt, a vital part of that whole Catholic experience, sure would be nice to be able to throw that overboard. In Dogma, Salma Hayek has a great line, where she says of the Catholics, "You people don't celebrate your faith, you mourn it." So, so very, sadly, true.

I'm fascinated with religions that are not Catholic, as they're so far outside of my suburban hell, white-bread experience. My hometown, where I spent the majority of my formative years didn't have any Jewish kids. Nor Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or anyone, really, that wasn't either Presbyterian or Catholic, in the hallways of the schools I attended. Ahhh, wait, that's not 100% true. In elementary school, I had a singular Jewish classmate who moved away when I was in 6th grade. And then in the latter part of high school, another singular Jewish classmate who became (and remains) a very good friend.

My first experience with the Islamic faith was a propaganda-laden film called "Not Without My Daughter," which stars Sally Field. I saw it on the telly in Sweden. I much prefer the Swedish title, Inte Utan Min Dottar, because of the alliterative sounds in it, but it means the same thing. The film frightened me to death, making me cautious even about the gentle Swedish guy I was dating at the time, that he could seemingly overnight turn into a vicious abusive monster. And to my 16 year old mind, since this was the only exposure I'd ever had to any Islamic anything, it followed that of course any man who practiced this faith was a violent, misogynist jerk. Oh, youth, to be forgiven thy follies. I have, of course, since come to realize how erroneous and offensive that viewpoint is.

Consequently, I've tried to read just about anything I can get my hands on about the varied faiths of the world, from The Tao of Pooh to far more serious tomes. I have yet to read the Koran, although it is on my list. I'm sure I will find it as interesting as I thought The Jewish Book of Why was.

At a funeral a few years ago for a friend of DH's family, the Methodist minister went on and on and on about how the Christian God was "better"than the God of the Islamists, the Jews, of any other deity that anyone believed in, which wasn't as valid as the triumvirate of Father-Son-Holy Spirit. When he (of course this was a male minister, silly) began this diatribe, I sucked in deep, irritated and offended breath. DH, who knows me so very well, tightened his grip on my hand in the pew and under his breath muttered, "Don't."

Not that I would have stood up and debated theology with that fool during a funeral service, but I certainly did want to! Or, what was far more likely, stood and shouted at him about what an idiot he is/was. Wanted to, yes, but didn't. At the wake, I took care to avoid the old gasbag, because it certainly wasn't the proper venue for such a debate.

How dull the world would be if we all followed the same faith, prescribed to the same set of beliefs. An essential part of our humanity is our uniqueness, the fact that every single person you meet has a different spin than you do on any issue you care to discuss. We depend very much on that which is 'other' and different from us to educate us, to change our worldviews. We are connected to those who are like us, but dependent upon those who are not. As VHJ said, "We need each other."

18 May 2007

Season finale thoughts

can be seen over on MySpace.

17 May 2007

Politics at large

I heard with a twinge of relief that Jerry Falwell passed away this week. And then my years of religious training in guilt kicked in, and I felt horrible for not being sorry that the guy is dead. Of course I am sorry for the family that he has left behind, but the Beeb was playing bits and pieces of things that he'd said over the years that were pretty cringe-worthy. Did you know, for example, that feminists caused the Sept 11 attacks? Riiiight.

OT for a sec, I note that the Beeb really enjoys tweaking people's noses. Wonder why that is? Is it a Brit thing? They seem to really enjoy putting people on the spot in interviews, twisting their words or trying to make them uncomfortable. It is either funny or annoying, depending on my mood.

Then the news that brought me crashing down into the dumps, a report from ABC that talked about the abortion debate and places like Alabama, where they are trying for an outright ban. Or the states that are trying to force providers to offer an ultrasound, which will add to the costs of abortion for poor women, and way to pile on the unnecessary hoops to jump through to get one!

Ohio requires biased counseling and a mandatory waiting period. 'Round these parts, you've got to drive an hour to find a provider, so that makes the whole thing even more costly, either find a hotel to spend the 24 hour waiting period in or spend the $3 /gallon for gasoline to get there twice.

Why IS it that the most vocal, strident anti-choice loons are always men? Self-righteous smug folks, who wave their moral indignation around. The guy in the ABC interview is a very staunch anti-choice fella, and wow, I can't help but wonder where he gets off. Yes, yes, I can finally admit that men have a right to have an opinion on the subject. For a very long time I thought that men shouldn't be able to even voice an opinion about it. When you can get pregnant, sir, then you may have an opinion about it. But that's a bit radical, really, and I no longer feel that way. Sure, you can have an opinion. But keep in mind that it is the woman's ultimate and deeply personal decision.

I remember a cute little web photo that I saw on a forum that said, "May the baby you save grow up to be a gay, Wiccan, black, democrat." Wish I'd kept it. And yes, there's some proof right there that the fan forums are not the only ones I participate in!

16 May 2007

California Daze

All right, so when I stopped yesterday, it was two in the morning on Saturday, May 12. Let's pick up there, shall we?

I managed to get back to sleep at some point, and when I woke again, it was about 30 minutes before the breakfast bell was due to ring. I don't think I mentioned yesterday that all meals are communal (just like the bathrooms!) and that's actually fun. There is a staff kitchen, where they can cook for themselves, but with no power, there's no point. Let the kitchen crew cook for you!

I slipped out of the cabin, not wishing to wake mum or babysis. She and I had planned an early morning hike into the hills, but that wasn't going to happen with so little time before breakfast, so instead I walked down to the dock that reaches out into the ocean, bobbing along on the tide. I noticed that the sky was overcast, just like it is so often at home. I had expected abundant sunshine and warmth, coming to California. It was cool. I say yet again, sunny California, MY ASS.

I stood at the end of the dock and went through the yoga poses in Sun Salutation, trying to loosen my stiff neck and back, breathing in time with the waves. When the breakfast bell rang, I went in the direction of the mess hall, searching for the rest of my family. Even with no electricity, the kitchen staff managed to do an amazing job, so many props to them for what they do every day. A typical breakfast at camp is as follows.

scrambled eggs
hash browns
french toast
vanilla yogurt
corn flakes
soy milk
whole milk
skim milk
cottage cheese
apple juice
orange juice
sweetbread, like a cinnamon-raisin bread
hot water for tea

Is that enough? Herregud! So much food, and mostly healthy stuff too. I took lots of fruit, a little bit of the eggs, half a bagel. Unreal, the way they feed just the staff.

After breakfast, we changed into clothes that we wouldn't mind getting wet, because we were going out in the ocean kayaks. (You know how badly I want to put that Dean line in about "She's 23, she kayaks, and they're real," don't you? LOL. At least I entertain myself.) The kayaks are red, molded plastic, with compartments at the front and back for gear, should you, you know, want to paddle one of these things to some remote campsite. I'll pass, but, the idea is there. They say "classic scupper" on the sides, I've no clue what that is supposed to mean. Babysis gives me a few quick minutes of instruction, I've never been in one of these before, and we carry three of the kayaks to the ocean's edge.

I managed to get out in the boat without tipping over in the surf, and I'm pretty darn proud of myself for that. I've got on my camelback, and I'm having a tough time adjusting the backrest on the seat so that the camelback isn't interfering with my comfortable seat. Manuvering the kayak is both easier and harder than I thought it would be. My upper body strength is fine, and I'm not having any trouble rowing, but I must paddle harder on one side than I do on the other, because it seems to pull constantly to the left.

There is so much to see. The water is so clear, and we approach the kelp beds, looking for all manner of wildlife. The kelp is like an underwater forest, with leaves swaying in the current instead of in the breeze. And the kelp grows up to the surface at an angle, to better capture the sun's rays. I have a ton of questions about each part of the plants, and babysis is able to answer them all, in far more scientific detail than I needed. I spend too much time looking over the edge of the boat and not enough looking where the hell I'm going. I managed to not run into any of the rocks along the edges, but that ends up being sheer luck rather than by design.

Some of the kelp comes all the way to the surface of the water, and then grows along the surface on a sort of horizontal plane. When it glides under the kayak, it makes a hissing, scraping noise, a "shhhhh" sound, although you do try to not steer directly over it so as not to damage it.

The ocean meets the land in a series of cliffs, rocky shoals and straight drop-offs. The rocks are red, brown, dusty looking. There are beaches, in certain coves, but mostly the waves crash against jagged edges. We spend nearly three hours in the kayaks, covering probably four miles of ocean. By the time we head back, I am sore, but not where I expected to be. I expected aching arms, but instead it is my hip flexors that are screaming for relief.

We put the gear all away, rinsing the life jackets with a wetsuit conditioner to prevent the salt from damaging them, and we lie in the sun until lunch time, trying to warm back up. Yes, there's that famed California sunshine, but it still isn't warm. After lunch, we sat in the sun for a while longer, contemplating our next move. The ocean is cold, COLD, about 60 F, and we're trying to decide if we're macho enough to go snorkeling. We decide that we can't pass up the chance, it is after all some of the best diving grounds in the world. So we gear up. I've gone diving before, and snorkeling too, a time or two. But this icy cold water requires far more gear than I am used to, boots, pants, jacket, hood, all made of black neoprene. It takes a HUGE effort to get all that stuff on. When I was taking my dive classes, we always just geared up in the water. It is far easier to put on a wetsuit when you are wet than it is when you and the wetsuit are both dry, however, when the water is as cold as it is, it isn't a good idea to hop on in and take your gear with you.

By the time we've got all that crap on, we're almost relieved to get into the cold water, because you're so overheated. First, though, there's a long walk across hot sands, and the requisite safety instructions. I already know just how cold it is from kayaking, but with all this gear on, at first I don't even feel the temperature of the water, all I feel is pressure, the water pressing on me. And then all of a sudden, it rolls up from my ankles to my chest as if I'd been lowered into the water all at once instead of wading in that far.

My sister encourages us to get all the way wet, that it is easier if done all at once, and she demonstrates with a dolphin dive. When I put MY face into the water, it is so cold that it takes my breath away, and I gasp, sputter, and end up taking in nearly a lungful of seawater. As a young child, I was terrified of the water. I've worked very hard to overcome that fear, but every now and then it sneaks up and catches me off guard. When I swallowed that water from the snorkel, I tried to stand up to regain my breath. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I was already out way, way, WAAAYYY over my head, and I panicked for a moment. Alright, several. Then I remembered that neoprene is really buoyant, and I stuck my arms out to gain some stability and was able to remove the snorkel and clear the water out of it. I imagine it looked pretty hilarious from a distance, but no one harassed me about it, so maybe no one saw.

I don't have my open water dive certification, despite having taken the classes for it twice. (That's a long story.) I got to go diving in Hawai'i, and vastly prefer SCUBA to snorkel, because there's actually AIR in that regulator. I'm just not good with a snorkel, no matter what I do it gets swamped with rouge waves or I do something dumb and then, hello, I'm sucking down water again.

But one thing I like about both is the peacefulness, all you can really hear is the sound of your own breathing and whatever noises the water transmits, pops, cracks, sometimes the sound of a propeller. My old diving instructor had this thing on his air tank, a tank banger, that he would use to get everyone's attention, and it irritated me because he was disturbing my lovely solitude.

With the snorkeling, mostly you stay on the surface of the water, although you can dive down and take a closer look at something if you are any good at holding your breath. I am not. So for that reason and because the water was so fucking cold, I stayed at the surface, mostly allowing myself to drift with the current, watching the fish, the kelp.

Each branch of the kelp sways with the waves, and as I watched, I thought about the motion of the sea and then the motion of the earth around the sun, and I felt at peace with myself and the world, for a few minutes. I was imagining a gentle mother earth goddess, rocking the seas gently, watching over all her world. My breath was in time with the waves, and all was right in the world. Until another wave swamped my snorkel and I got another unexpected taste of seawater.

Eventually, I got cold enough that I was shaking. I found my mum and sister not far away, and mum took one look at me and ordered me back to the beach. Yep, 32 years old and still listening to my mother. Before I got out, my sister dove down and brought up a sea cucumber, which is an animal, not a plant. Babysis spends a lot of time teaching at camp, and she's really good at it. I tend to think of her as permanently 17, but the fact is that she's 23 and passionate about what she does for a living. She teaches classes about the marine life, about the recycling that the camp does, the environment, and she is very knowledgeable about all of it.

The lesson on sea cucumbers complete, I swam for shore, climbing out of the water about half an hour before my mother and sister. I discovered when taking all the gear off, that I'd gotten so cold because the hood I was wearing had come un-tucked from the jacket, allowing icy cold seawater to pour down the collar of the jacket. Oops. We cleaned all of our gear, and laid on the camp's dive deck, in full sun, trying to warm up. Sunny California? Ahh, you know the rest.

We played a game of Apples to Apples after dinner until it became too dark to see the cards, which was endless fun. Babysis bought the game as a birthday present to herself, and I need to get it for myself. Hilarious, especially if you're a geek into English vocabulary.

At some point during the day on Saturday, the camp got a generator to power their refrigerators and freezers, and the noise it makes can be heard all over camp. They decided to run it during the day, and turn it off at night, around 7pm. When we noticed that it had been shut off, we all heaved a sigh of relief.

While the generator is off, the camp is surrounded by only the sound of the ocean and the wind. No electronic hum of computers, refrigerators, buzzing security lights. Most people turned off their cel phones because there was no way to recharge them if the batteries died. The peace is pervasive, satisfying some part of my soul that I didn't know was missing out on that form of solitude.

I got up in the middle of the night (yes, again) because even so far away from all my troubles, I didn't sleep well. I went outside, and even though it was freezing cold, I stopped for a moment to just drink in the stillness. I took several deep breaths, listening to the ocean and my heartbeat, allowing the quiet to surround me, trying to fix that moment of utter peace in my memory. I had to push jealous thoughts of "this is her life ALL THE TIME!" out of my head. I am unbearably jealous of the life she's leading out there, even while I know I could never do it myself. The sun! Seen more than once a month like it is in Oh-hi-ia. The ocean, steps from her front door! The incredible food!

In the morning, my sister and I took a hike, just the two of us, to a place called Inspiration Point. Prickly Pear cactus are everywhere, and some are even blooming, a yellow flower that looks vaguely like a rose. What? You think I know a goddam thing about botany? Um, no.

We talk, the conversation of siblings that don't see each other often enough and barely understand the life choices the other has made, let alone understand one another. I wonder when this chasm opened between us, and wonder, desperately, how to fix it. I try, in the brief few minutes that we have alone together to explain my unhappiness, and my dissatisfaction with my job, and how much I miss both sisters on opposite coasts, with me seemingly stuck in Ohio. She tells me that there are times when she hangs up the phone with any of us, the 'rents or our other city gal sister, and cries because she misses us so much. And damn, now I've made myself cry again.

I don't know which is worse about the depression, not being able to take much joy in anything at all, or the random bursting into tears over relative trivialities. I feel like I can't express much emotion at all, as if I'm encased in a fog that separates me from the rest of the world. Laughter, happiness, elation, all seem so distant, while pain and and a weight, a heaviness, in my every step are my constant companions. I know it will fade. I know it will get better. Patience has never been my strong suit, though, and I want it better N-O-W!!

Anyway. It was very early in the morning, and we watched the sun come up through a cloudy sky. She brought her cell phone up there, and when we turned it on, amazingly, she had a signal. And about 6 messages from concerned friends and family members. So we made a few phone calls, to our other sister, to our dad, to my husband, reassuring them all that we were still alive and that no, the fire wasn't on this side of the island.

The only thing was that there was no power all weekend, and I know I said before that it was a minor problem. The thing is, that here, it is a minor problem. I don't miss my pager--for DAMN sure-- which was left behind because as soon as you cross a state line you're out of range. My phone isn't missed either, as soon as I figured out that I've got no signal in camp, I turned it off and put it in my suitcase. I did "look" for it a time or two, as it is almost always clipped to my right hip, and I often reach down and pat that spot to make sure it is still there, but after the second time I did that, I stopped.

The internet is a distant memory, neither fond nor painful, just not much considered. I know that Asylum has been going on over the weekend, and I'm really, really curious about the girls from the board who might have gotten to meet each other and what they did and saw, but it will all be waiting for me when I get back to Ohio and I'm quite content to wait.

Much later in the day that day, when I was talking to middlesis in New York again, she laughingly reminds me that I've only been away from the computer for a little more than 72 hours and that I ought not be so proud of myself over not missing it so much for such a short period of time. Um. Yeah. Thursday 04.30 until Sunday at about 21.00 (9PM) when I was talking to her....true, not so long after all. *Shrug* It is proof to me that I could stay away if I wanted to, or rather if the situation of no power forced me to. Hee. As I told both sisters, there just isn't that much else to do at home, and they know it. In New York City, plenty else to occupy your time and attention. Santa Catalina Island, an ocean, every single toy you could ever want, sun! Ohio? Well, hardly the garden spot of the world, are we? My father often teases the sister in NYC by saying (very crudely, I might add) that if someone wanted to give the planet an enema, New York City would be the place to start. I'd start with the cities in Ohio, but hey, that's just me.

It ended up being about 4 days by the time I got back to a 'puter, we took the red eye home from LAX on Sunday night, and sleep was the highest priority when we got back. Leaving either sister when I visit them is so hard. I won't force you to read all about our leave-taking, but not really because I care about putting y'all on an emotional roller coaster, rather because I'm not sure I care to re-live it by writing it out. Again. Once in my notes was enough.

My mother said to me, as the boat pulled away from Two Harbors, "She's happy here, Lucy. You have to keep that in mind. It makes it easier for me." Well, it doesn't make it any damn easier for me. I'm really glad that she's doing so well there, and it is fantastic to see her thriving, happy, productive, but I'd really like it a lot better if it were about 3000 miles closer and I could see her more than roughly three times a year. There's no way to put a positive spin on that, it just sucks.

This post got far longer than I planned, but that's all right. I just have one more thing to share. As the boat made the crossing from the island back to the mainland, I was talking to a young couple who had been at camp visiting one of my sister's co-workers, and they told me that they've been going to the channel islands for vacations for years. They said that every time they make the crossing from the mainland to one of the islands, they see dolphins. Sure enough, just after they finished telling me this, we saw a very large dolphin pod, perhaps 2000 dolphins all told, and they were leaping out of the water and frolicking in the wake of the ferry. We watched them for most of the remainder of the boat ride, their antics endlessly funny. That did my heart a world of good, easing some of the hurt at leaving my sister behind.

15 May 2007

I wanna live there too!

Thank goodness that it is Tuesday, I don't feel guilty then about writing personal posts instead of politicking on Tuesdays!

I have so much to tell about my trip to California that I'm not sure that it will all fit in one post. I'm also not very sure where to start. The flights out there were uneventful, which was wonderful. Eventful flights tend to be frightening. We arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday, and LAX? Jesu! What a mess. The traffic. The cars. The crowds. The incredible insanity.

The first thing that I noticed as we came out of the terminal was the mingled scents of gardenia and exhaust. No, I didn't see any celebrities at the airport, bummer. There were hedges of gardenia everywhere. Once upon a time, I wore a gardenia perfume, and as scent is the strongest thing to evoke memory, I was reminded of that time strongly. Anyway. The smog! The traffic! As we left the airport, we were driving on the 405 freeway, and I was looking around at the heavy traffic. Every other car, I swear, was a Mercedes. Or a BMW. Very, very few old junkers. And every single driver was on the phone. Hang up and drive, people! I couldn't help but think of a Buffet song from his last album, "Everybody's on the phone," where he says,

Everybody's on the phone
so connected and all alone
from the pizza boy to socialites

because everyone was all by themselves in the car and yet yakking to heaven only knows who.

The haze obscured the hills that I know surround the city, thick, yellowish. And no wonder, considering the number of cars. My cardiovascular system is working great, so I had no trouble breathing there, but my mum sure did. We were in an airport shuttle, and the driver dropped people off in several parts of the city. What I was astonished by was the amount of trash that was everywhere I looked. Didn't matter if we were in a wealthy neighborhood or a poor one. Tossed everywhere were fast food bags, plastic grocery bags, soda bottles.

Our hotel was right on the water in San Pedro. We had to spend one night there and take the ferry the next day, so we were in a little place that at first glance was lovely, but the longer we were there (about 20 hours, all told) the more we noticed little things. Like the hallway where our room was, which smelled so strongly of tar that you could taste it at the back of your throat. Our room was fine, even had a small fridge for my myriad bottles of water, which thrilled me. But the elevator smelled so much of tar that we kept trying to find other ways to get in and out of the place, even resorting to taking the emergency exit stairwells to escape the chocking sensation you get from breathing that stuff in.

I didn't take sunscreen with me because I knew I wouldn't be able to get a big bottle of the stuff through airport security, and so once we checked in to the hotel, sunscreen and water were the high priorities. We walked around the port for about two hours, and didn't find any sunscreen at all. Which means that I got sunburned. My skin is so fair that about 20 minutes in full sun is all I need to be very sorry later. I got two really bad burns in my teens, and since 19 have worn SPF 30 or higher to keep from being burned again. Both sisters, brats that they are, are just ever so slightly darker skinned than I am, and don't burn. They tan. Not me! They got more of the eastern European genes and I got the Scandinavian and English ones. When they harass me about being so pale, I tell them that when I'm 55 and they're 50 and 46 respectively, and people have to ask who is the oldest, I'll have the last laugh.

That afternoon, when we checked voice mail messages, mum had one from Gran, down in Florida, which said, "The news says that there's a fire on Catalina. You might want to rethink your visit to (babysis). " We clicked on the telly, and the news was reporting about fires in Florida and Georgia, but nothing had hit the airwaves about a fire on Catalina. We called Gran back and told her, no big deal, we're already in LA, and heading over tomorrow. Should be just fine.

After dinner, however, it was a big deal. The local LA stations all had nothing but "Catalina Fire!!!" coverage, breaking into prime-time stuff to show shots from helicopters of fire burning ever closer to the island's main city, Avalon. I kept switching back and forth between KTLA and CNN, watching in disbelief as they showed power lines burning, and people queuing to get on the ferries to get off the island.

Incidentally, KTLA is the CW affiliate out there, so yep, I got to watch part one of All Hell Breaks Loose on Thursday night. Woooooo! I have some fangirl gushing to do, but as usual, that will be over on MySpace instead of here.

When we got up the next morning, the news wasn't good. The fire was still burning, and the ferry companies were evacuating people by the horde. What seemed like hundreds of telephone calls to both ferry companies told us that one was running people over to the island and the other one, which we had tickets on, was happy to bring people back to the mainland FROM the island, but unless you were fire or news crew, you were staying on the mainland. We talked to babysis, her boss, the ferry folks, the taxi companies....and it looked for a while like we had successfully made it to Los Angeles, only 26 miles from babysis, but we weren't going to be able to see her unless she evacuated with the residents of Avalon. And at that, no guarantees that she'd be able to get back over there for work on Monday.

Her camp is more than twenty miles from Avalon, and over the island's dirt one lane roads, more than a two hour journey. We kept insisting to the ferry folks that there wasn't a problem on her part of the island, but they just weren't willing to budge. Finally, a rumor of a potential boat, leaving from Marina Del Rey at 1.45 pm, reached us. AHA! A new ferry company. Phone calls to them said, yes, they'd be happy to take us over and drop us off in Emerald Bay, just one cove over from CIC. We just needed Emerald Bay's permission to get off the boat in their cove, and assurances from CIC that they were, in fact, expecting us. Rockin'! Now the only problem was that we hadn't rented a car and needed to find a way up the coast to MDR. Fast. If we got there quickly, we could get tickets and wait and see if they'd take us over. A $75 cab ride later we found ourselves at a pretty little place with about 3 hours to kill. So we left our bags at the ship's offices and walked to a shopping plaza about a half mile away, where I finally, FINALLY, found some sunscreen.

Wonder of wonders, when the time came, they let us board the boat. Myself, my mother, and one other passenger on a ferry that normally carries about 400. We didn't call the camp to let them know that we were on the way until the boat left the harbor and we were sure they weren't going to turn around and boot us off. It had been that kind of day up until that point, so better safe than sorry.

The boat's huge engines rumbled under our feet, and when they left the harbor, powering up even further, they got lots louder. "What kind of engines does this thing have?" I asked, wondering if the bartender (yep, a bartender. For 3 people.) knew anything about the ship.

"Caterpillars." He responded, handing me a very welcome rum and diet.

I didn't need to ask anything further. Caterpillar engines power bulldozers and heavy machinery, earth moving equipment. Which kind of makes sense, after a fashion, that a boat could use the same engines to power through the water.

We're told that 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water. I grew up on lakes and rivers, but the sea is something even more awe inspiring than the Great Lakes or the smaller bodies of water that I'm used to. I was reminded of more Buffet, "Stars On The Water" and an Incubus song that I can't remember the name of where Brandon Boyd sings about "The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue plain." The sun beats down, relentless, but it isn't warm. I stepped out on the stern's platform and was beaten by the winds so forcefully that I held on with both hands. I'm rarely cold, but I went back inside when my teeth were chattering to grab a pullover to get warm with. I climbed up the stairs to the top deck, again holding on with both hands, and I'd estimate the temperature with the winds at around 40 F. Brr. Sunny and warm Cali, my ass.

I get seasick sometimes, but the motion of the ship is instead reminding me of dune buggy rides of my childhood. We'll be cruising along smoothly, and then BOOM, a sudden drop of a few feet. Or we'll climb a ridge of water and at the top, there won't be anything under it, so you drop again, rolling up the next wave. The seas are pretty calm, actually, I'd estimate the waves at no more than 4-5 feet. Considering that I've seen 30 foot waves on the Pacific in Hawai'i, 5 foot rollers don't seem so bad.

The skies are crystalline blue, clear, perfect. Before we got on the boat, the temperatures were moderate, but in that weird range that if you're working in the sun it is hot, seated in the shade it is cool. California, warm? Tell it to someone who's buying, cause I ain't.

Suddenly, when I look up from scribbling impressions thus far, we're surrounded on all sides by water, not a bit of land in sight. An unending expanse of blue flecked by the occasional whitecap is all that I can see, for what seems like hundreds of miles around. The noise of the engines start to bother me, even with the Gorillaz blasting on the iPod I can still hear and feel them.

As the boat approaches the dock on the island side, I can pick my sister out of the crowd by her hair, long and dyed black, tied up in a messy bun and the fact that she has on a t-shirt of DH's that he gave her, from his old fire department. Impatiently, we wait for the crew to finish their docking procedures so that we can run down the gangplank to throw ourselves at her and shriek. She looks fantastic, tanned and healthy except for the bruises she's sporting from a recent bout with a rip current. (For the record, she won, since she lived. Guess it was bad. Understand why she downplayed it on the phone.)

We load our gear into a battered and dirty maroon Montero, for what she assures us is a very short car ride to her home camp.

Once we get there, introductions to her co-workers begin, too fast and too many to follow. She lives in a state of perpetual college; without the bother of tests and study. Dorm-style accommodations, people around all the time to kayak or dive with, shared bathrooms. It sounds a bit like I'm disparaging the lifestyle, and maybe I am, a little. It isn't for me. It suits her, though, she is so happy here, thriving. Her quarters consist of 4 bunk beds, in a room that measures perhaps 10 by 17. Each bed has a nightstand near it, for the person on the bottom bunk. Dunno what the top bunks do, but of the 8 available beds, only 4 are in use, so I guess there's one night stand for each person. Four dressers of wildly different styles and sizes are scattered about the room, and a bookshelf rests near the "front" door. The back door is the closest to the communal restrooms. Spoiled as I am, that is probably the sole reason that I could not live and work here. At home, DH and I don't even share a bathroom; I moved my stuff out of the house's main bath and into another when he bitched about "all this stuff" in the shower. The shared bathroom and the fact that the bathrooms are at least 300 yards away from her quarters, a walk over a volleyball court that is awfully long in the dead of night probably preclude me from ever working there.

I scored a top bunk, her roommates having mostly left for the weekend on Thursday night. We left our baggage in her room and toured the rest of the camp. It is unbelievably beautiful here, and I want to call it an untamed beauty, but that wouldn't be completely accurate. The hills surrounding the camp seem wild, but the pathways cut through them are clear signs of human interference. We give my sister the gifts we brought her, blank CDs for her to steal music from her co-workers, episodes 1-19 of SN, (she was a fan before she left, this isn't me trying to convert her, I promise) a case of beer. After an amazing dinner, we take a hike up into the aforementioned hills, and she shows me how fennel and coastal sage grow wild. Thickets, forests of fennel, all 'tinder dry' as the TV news kept saying.

We break off a stalk of fennel, and suddenly a gentle anise scent fills the air. I'm not a fan of black licorice, or anything anise flavored, but the smell isn't unpleasant.

Its good, good, GOOD to see my sister. My mother repeatedly grabs her and hugs her tight, but I restrain myself from typical sibling displays of poking, tickling, other annoyances. I know how much that bothers her, so I don't.

The camp is completely without any power that first night, and we rely on flashlights and candles. When no one is speaking, there is no sound except for the ocean and the wind.

We sit around the obligatory campfire, huddled close to the flames for warmth after dark. Warm and sunny California, MY ASS. I'd been warned, repeatedly, that the nights are cool, but it is astonishing how cold it is after the sun goes down. Walking away from the campfire in search of a bathroom, I am chilled enough to rattle my teeth nearly out of my head.

I could have sat around the campfire and listened to stories and songs (two guitar players and numerous enthusiastic singers were there) all night, but we wandered to bed around 10.30 west coast time, which is after all 1.30 am east coast time. Very surprisingly, I slept for about 4 hours uninterrupted. When I woke with the urgent need to visit the little girl's room, I stepped out of my sister's cabin into the very dark night and listened, for a minute, to the total silence that enveloped the camp like a heavy cloak. I could hear the waves, thunderously loud, but the ocean's edge is nearly 1000 yards from that spot. As I walked, I pushed the button on my watch that makes the face light up, curious about what time it might be, because it was still really, really dark. 05.40, the watch informed me. Huh. Had I really slept for 7 hours? And why wasn't it lighter outside? I puzzled over that on my way back to the cabin, but it wasn't until I climbed back up the ladder into bed that I realized that I'd never reset my watch to Pacific time, and it was only 02.40. Duh!

I think that's a good place to stop for now, I have more than 10 pages handwritten of more notes, but I'll write more about it for the rest of this week until I'm finished.

14 May 2007

ROME isn't burning, but Santa Catalina Island is.

Well. Is it just me or is the world conspiring against me when I want to visit my sisters? Tried to go visit middlesis in March, and was stopped by a massive ice storm, delaying my trip for a week. Which of course caused a tailspin of bummed-out moping. And then, I'm trying to visit babysis on Thursday last week and a major wildfire strikes the remote island where she's living.

The fire made getting to Catalina Island Camps pretty darn difficult. Understatement. The fire made the journey to be able to hug my sister nearly not happen after a 3000 mile plane ride.

I have about 10,000 things to tell you about the trip, about where my sister lives and what we did and saw, but I'm going to write that post later. I kept pretty extensive notes, so all the details will still be there after I get some much-needed sleep. (yes, my OCD is showing, I wrote notes.) The journey home was an adventure as well.

The short, short, short version is that the fire was no where, and I mean NO WHERE near where we wanted to go, and beside the minor inconvenience of no electric power anywhere on the island, it was not a problem. No one was injured, and only one home was destroyed, which is of course the most important thing, that no one was hurt. My sis is thriving there. I can't wait to share it with you.

Oh, and this? This is my 200th post. Sweet!!

10 May 2007

Cringing about Catholicism, AGAIN

Hi, my name is Lucy and I'm a recovering Catholic. For those who are unaware, I was raised Catholic but am currently agnostic, leaning towards atheism.

I'm supremely embarrassed by the fact that I identify as a former Catholic today, as I heard on the Beeb yesterday that the current Pope (someone I dislike, but more on that later) has made the first step in canonizing the guy who was Pope during WWII, Pious the Twelfth. Pious turned a supreme blind eye to the Nazi goings-on in Europe, and history has yet to completely judge whether he collaborated or not, but the fact that he ignored the deportation and murder of Jews during the time when he was, oh, I don't know, THE LEADER OF THE ENTIRE CHRISTIAN WORLD, is enough for me to wash my hands of him completely. Seems to me that Pious forgot the cardinal rule of Christianity, where the bible says, "The least that you do unto my people, you do unto me." (Paraphrased from Matthew 25:40) Or perhaps you haven't heard of the Golden Rule?

I was astonished to hear that the former pope, Pope John Paul II, had kind of advocated canonizing all recent popes, creating more than 1200 new blesseds and saints during his tenure as Pope. That seems a trivialization of canonization to me. Which I guess begs the question, if I'm an agnostic, why the hell do I care? Habit, I suppose. You don't toss almost 30 years of indoctrination and conditioning aside so easily.

I can't even explain to a non-Catholic what sainthood is all about. My in-laws, bless them, told me when I was still a practicing Catholic and getting ready to marry their son, that Catholics are idol-worshipers. I laughed outright, telling them that "We don't worship the saints!" But if you asked me to explain the function of the saints, I'd be searching for the right words. For pretty long time. Hey, I never said I was good at being Catholic. I'm just a recovering one.

The former Cardinal Ratzinger is in Brazil for his first visit as Pope, which is why this is even newsworthy, I doubt it would be getting as much attention if the pontiff was in the Vatican. As part of the same report which talked about the beatification of Pious XII, the Beeb reported about a bit of Benedict's history that I somehow missed when he was elected Pope; he was a member of a Nazi youth group. Ugh. Gross, disgusting, and WTF? How did he get elected Pope with that little detail on his "permanent record"?

I wasn't impressed when he was elected Pope entirely due to his views on birth control and his ultra-conservative brand of Catholicism, which ensures that women will continue to not have a say in how the Church is governed for the length of his life, at the very least. (Popes, you see, must die to be replaced. Stepping down is rare.) I would love to see changes made during my lifetime that make the Church a better place for women, but I ain't holding my breath.

The Church is so out of step with the times. Is it any wonder that the number of people taking holy orders is down over 60% since the1960s? Or that the Church is losing believers to other branches of Christianity? Not to me it isn't.

I know I said I'd be offline the rest of this week, but it is 4:30 in the morning and I'm waiting for my ride to the airport. I should be back Tuesday. Cheers until then.

09 May 2007

Help Me Take A Deep Breath, Babe

The word of the day must absolutely be PERSPECTIVE. I had the first appointment with my therapist today, and perspective is what I got in spades. I'm energized, and nearly euphoric, which I know is only temporary, but wow, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Since I'm almost always in "over-sharing" mode, I'm going to tell you about the whole visit and then draw some conclusions.

I got there early, which is a minor miracle. I am always, always, always running late. Laziness? You could argue that, I suppose. Scatter-brained has always been my excuse. I signed in, had a seat and waited for them to call my name. I knew I'd have forms to fill in, and was hoping that by getting there early that I'd actually get in and out of there in a reasonable amount of time. No dice, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first thing I noticed about the waiting room was the fact that there was about an 8 year old boy sitting there completely unattended. I don't have kids, and I certainly don't claim to be a child care expert, but I thought it really odd that this kid was sitting there all alone. I mean, I know I'm buckets of crazy, but really, you don't do that, right? No other adults in the room, and the receptionist behind her glass shield was absent as well. He was playing with a tabletop basketball game, making an inordinate amount of irritating noise. I wanted to rub my temples and shriek a little.

I was really nervous, and when my anxiety is running high, I shake. Tremble. My hands are the most obvious place to spot this, but if I'm sitting with my legs crossed in un-lady-like fashion, the foot that is off the floor will shake as well. When I notice it, I try to stop it, but that usually only makes it worse. So as I sat there, I felt crazier than ever. I joke quite a lot about being crazy, poke fun at my own idiosyncrasies, but sitting in the lobby of my psychologist's office I finally truly felt that I am perhaps completely unhinged. I was all but sitting curled in a ball, rocking. I very seriously considered running out and hiding in my house for the rest of my life. This is a tough thing, to admit that things are bad enough that yes, I need a psychologist.

I waited in that goddam waiting room for almost 45 minutes. Many things irritate me, but waiting in a doctor's office is way up there on the list. MY TIME IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS YOURS, DOC!!!!

The receptionist called me over and told me that my deductible hasn't been met according to insurance company XYZ, and that I'd have to pay for today's session out of pocket. Fucking fantastic. But, wait. That's not my insurance company. I told her, "I don't HAVE xyz. I've NEVER had xyz. I have ABC." In the end, it didn't matter, because my insurance company isn't going to cover therapy anyway. Deep breath...I'm not going to rant about insurance companies today.

When I finally went back to meet the therapist, I was pissed and frightened. Not a good combo to start with. Her office is....stark. Maybe that's not the right word. It isn't clinical, white, sterile. It is devoid of family pictures. There are a few knick-knacks, a seashell, a glass sculpture of fish, a huge pile of folders on her unusual desk. The desk is a slab of white marble, veined with small amounts of black, mounted on a cast iron stand, larger than the average desk. No computer. (No computer? WTF? How does she surf teh interweb?) Degrees, unobtrusive on the wall to the left of the desk, but behind her. An odd enough angle that I couldn't see where she went to school.

She opened a file that had blank forms mounted inside, reminding me of the files that I used to use at ye olde evile bank. She asked me a bunch of questions that in any other situation would have been rude, antagonistic. About my marriage, my childhood, my sisters, my medications, my asthma, my job, my education, why I had come to see her. We spent a lot of time talking about my job. I can't get into that here, so let me say simply that she is familiar with the situation and was able to give me some great, here's that word again, perspective.

After talking for just a few minutes, she said to me, "You're a very creative person. And your creativity is being stifled, that's a big part of the problem."


I've never thought of myself as a creative person. Never. When I'm not being an idiot with low self esteem, I think of myself as intelligent, I think of myself as bookish, I think of myself as blonde, sassy, outspoken. Creative? Not really. But yet, she's right. I create all kinds of things. The cooking and baking are creative enterprises, the novel writing is deeply creative, the knitting that I've been unable to pick up for weeks is creative too. I never follow a pattern or a recipe as written, the urge to put my own spin on everything is far too great.

I answered her questions truthfully, openly, and listened attentively to her opinions. She thinks the sleep problem is a symptom of both anxiety and depression, and she does not disagree with my self-diagnosis of depression, but she thinks I've got more anxiety than I'm willing to admit to. I should have known that...I obtained some Xanax a while back and when I take it, I feel much more like myself, like I used to, before this current insanity started.

I told her how I feel guilty for feeling so despondent, and she interrupted me, the only time she did that through the entire session, to say, "You should absolutely not feel guilty. Let that go immediately. Major life changes are often associated with depression, and your depression is valid. Just because you didn't have a miserable childhood or have one major issue that you're dealing with, that does not mean that you don't have reason to be depressed."

We talked about my sisters leaving the home state, and she said, "That was really hard for you." That gentle acceptance, and insight from someone I'd just met, nearly made me cry. I fully expect the sessions to be full of tears, but I managed to not cry during this session despite coming close one other time, when we talked about my cousin J's death. Everyone in town here knows the story, since there was a television show shot about it, all I have to do is say the name of the TV show and people immediately know. From time to time, though, people I encounter actually knew her before, or knew another member of my extended kin network and are therefore more intimately familiar with the story than the average Joe. Such was the case with the therapist, she knows J's sister.

She gave me some really great suggestions about what to do with the job situation, things that are completely, "Why didn't *I* think of that?!?" sorts of things, which made me feel like my eyes were opened after having been blindfolded for years. She even suggested I job hunt in Texas at one point, which made me giggle. And then I had to explain about the fangirl business. Astonishingly, to me, she managed to not roll her eyes. I could never do her job, that non-reaction face is something I could probably never master. Although I do have to do that sometimes at work. *shrug* I guess you get good at it.

I spent over an hour with her, and the time flew by. "Easy to talk to" is probably too cliche to say about a therapist, but it is true. She had on a lovely grey pinstriped suit, with a skirt just slightly longer than knee length. She sat behind her desk in the exact same manner that I do at work, with one knee propped up against the edge of the desk, the opposite foot en pointe and tapping the heel. Great shoes, a matte black pair of slingbacks with a glossy stripe around the toe, a small bow at the corners of the toes. She's taller than me, but hell, who isn't? Oh, that's right, ten year olds. Her hair is a dark blonde, cut in a businesslike fashion. She had on great glasses that I'm tempted to identify as Dolce & Gabbana, but I couldn't swear to that.

I left there feeling like I was seeing the sun for the first time in months, singing along with the iPod in the car, something I haven't done for ages.

If I am going to continue to talk about the therapy, I need to assign a name to her, I can't just keep saying "my therapist," "my psychologist," "she," "her," because it will drive me nuts. I can't use her real name, and I don't want to come up with something cutsey because I don't want to trivialize what's going on here. I kinda like Dr. Solution, because she's got the solutions, but when you're in therapy, you're supposed to find your own solutions, so that's out. Dr. Question strikes me as dumb, The Interrogator is too harsh. I'm going to have to think about that for a while.

Any suggestions from the gallery?

Finally, as I said yesterday, I'll be offline the rest of this week and part of next. I'll be in California with no computer and no internet. Behave yourselves while I'm gone!

Listening to: Sheryl Crow "It Don't Hurt"

08 May 2007

Music On My Mind

I've written before that Supernatural brought me back to the classic rock genre. And I'm grateful to the show for that, because I'd forgotten how much I love classic rock. Not all classic rock, but Zepplin, the Doors, Def Leppard, and Rush were soundtracks of my life in my late teens, and more recent rock acts that I'd forgotten about have been featured on the show, Screaming Trees, Queensryche, Alice in Chains. I've got my whole Supernatural playlist listed in the sidebar right now under my listmaking mania header, if you're interested in the types of things that I'm talking about.

I like all music, though, there isn't much that I won't listen to, including alt-country, (Wilco, Rascal Flatts, Ryan Adams) hip-hop, (Kelis, Mary J, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy) soul, (Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone) and R&B (Alica Keys & Alyiah), classical, even opera. (Madame Butterfly is a personal favorite.) If you took possesion of my iPod and scrolled through the artist list, you'd find such diverse things as Jason Mraz and Natasha Beddingfield, along with Bat for Lashes, Gorillaz, Jimmy Buffet alongside Tommy Lee. Setting the iPod to random shuffle is always entertaining and an adventure, because often something will pop up that I've completely forgotten is there.

I spent several hours last weekend cruising around iTunes, finding all kinds of things. Listening to 30 second blurbs of all manner of music, hopping from one list of all of an artist's songs to another. Is there anything that isn't on iTunes? I think not. I also spent some time trying to clean out the things on the iPod that I haven't listened to since uploading my music collection in January, because my iPod is a Nano and it holds about a thousand songs and I need to have stuff on there that I actually listen to, rather than stuff that clutters it up.

Music is something so visceral, so primal, so vital, even spiritual, sacred. You need only sit in on a drum circle and feel the stirrings in your soul of ancient memory to know this is true. Surprisingly, Celtic music fosters that same feeling in me, of coming 'home', of hearing something that maybe I don't remember personally, but my soul seems to. Cutting yourself off from music is about as easy as cutting off an appendage. There's rhythm in everything, from the mundanity of a changing traffic light to the clacking of the keyboard when you type. There's harmony in everything, from the wind in the trees to the patterns of overheard conversations.

I go nowhere without my iPod. It is on in the car when NPR news isn't on. It is on in my office when I don't have visitors. (Which means it is on most of the time.) It is on when I'm on the computer at home in the evenings. I have the headphones on in the grocery store, while I'm cleaning my house, and of course at the gym. All of which is either a statement about how we interact less and less with society in general (encapsulated in my own little world syndrome) or about how we expect to be entertained all the time, I'm not sure which.

That's not to say that I won't take it off to talk to someone, because I will. Most of the music I listen to makes me happy, and I really enjoy the fact that I am able to carry it around with me, accessible to me at all times. When I am able to sing along with the music, that makes me happy too. I get so much positivity from my music.

But there are songs that make me sad too, that evoke particular memories and can bring tears. It seems so strange to me that music connects so much to our emotional cores, evoking both joy and pain. For a long time after moving home from Europe, stupidly and strangely enough, Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" really bothered me, reminding me of a group of guy friends that I was afraid I'd never see again. My fears were fairly well founded, I have not seen any of them since 1992. But I hate to admit to having such taste in music!! Another one that can also make me cry is extraordinarily cringe-worthy, Jimmy Buffet's "Someday I Will" which is about hopes and dreams. Every single time I've heard that song done live (and we go see Buffet EVERY SINGLE SUMMER, y'all, DH is a big Parrothead) I've been standing in the crowd sobbing, because I find it that moving.

Van Halen's "Right Now" was released when I was living in Europe, I remember the video on MTV Europe, and you will remember it too when I remind you that it was one of the first videos that had text on the screen that you needed to read. I found that really moving too, both then and now.

Punk music makes me want to jump around and scream a lot. Techno still makes me want to dance, even though I can recognize how horrible it is now. RiotGrrl stuff makes me want to spring into action to make my voice heard. Opera makes me wish I'd kept studying voice. Chick singers like Tori, Sarah, Sheryl, make me want to sing at the top of my lungs. Classic rock makes me want to watch Sam and Dean. Especially the shirtless Dean we saw in What Is and What Should Never Be last week. Hee. Couldn't resist squeezing them in there, you know I had to fit that in if I was going to mention SN, right?

I know I haven't written anything at all about the therapy sessions which I mentioned in a Tuesday post a few weeks ago, but that is because my first appointment with the head-shrinker is tomorrow. Today I feel more upbeat, but I don't know if that's because I think we're making progress at my giant suck of a job, if the meds are kicking in and making me feel better, if the weather's better or if I'm just finally really feeling better. I'm not going to have much time to write about the session because I am leaving on Thursday to go visit babysis in Cal-if-or-ny-i-a. YAY, sibling goodness.

(And yes, we're flying though LAX, and yes, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a highly unlikely Jensen sighting. Just thought I'd mention that.)

I will probably be mostly offline while in California, because babysis really does live on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and they have a very slow satellite-relayed to dial-up connection to the interweb. Plus, I can go scuba diving, sailing, ocean kayaking, hiking and snorkeling there, so I'm guessing that I won't have much time to be checking in. I'll update when I can. I still want to write a post about the French elections, but until I can, check out Petite's eloquent post on the matter.

Listening to: Random iTunes mix