Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Search

It's Sunday, politics day on my blog. I've been out of town, and while I was away I watched no TV, read no newspapers, and tried to steer my eyes away from the on line headlines. I believe I successfully lowered my blood pressure as a direct result. But now I'm back, and in my pile of accumulated mail was a nifty letter telling me that my health insurance premium is about to increase...again.

I can tell you that since I first began my individual policy after being laid off from a job immediately after 9/11 which provided insurance benefits, my premiums have almost tripled. TRIPLED!!!! But my benefits have not increased. And here's the kicker - if I want to change my deductable and out of pocket expenses so that I can afford the premiums, it will be like applying for a new policy and there will be a pre-existing condition waiting period of one year during which time the care I actually need for things will not be covered.

I realize that I'm one of the lucky ones, the ones who have health insurance, but as my premium inches toward the same amount that I pay for rent, I have to wonder if I will reach a breaking point, a point at which I will have to roll the dice like so many others and opt for the roof over my head and not the insurance.

While I've broached this subject in other political blogs and expounded on the idea that healthcare can not be fixed while it remains a for profit business - particularly on the part of the insurance companies and drug companies, I would like to broach this from another vantage point - that of patriotism.

From the time I was a little girl I was told and believed that this was the greatest country on earth. We hear it day in and day out, but you want to know what we're not greatest in? Life expectancy. That's right. And though the number is debatable (between 37-49 countries ahead of us, depending on what you read), at the very least the citizens of 37 countries live longer than we do. And from the discourse in Washington about healthcare reform, I can see why. And it doesn't seem to matter what form of government a country has either. Cuba is ahead of us. So is Britain. So while Congress is having a big whining pity party about how tough it is to fix this, and where we're going to get the money, at least 37 other countries have figured it out...leaving me less than optimistic about how great we are after all. We would let the mother of three small children die from cancer that could have been detected with preventative screeinings, or an elderly grandfather wither away because he had to choose between the medication he needed or food. Is this who we want to be as Americans? Is this the kind of country that we can take pride in? What happens to the least of us happens to all of us eventually, and now is that moment.

I'm going to cut this blog short because I am going to go do something that I'd love for each of you to do - contact your representatives. And I don't just mean one person. I mean your senators, congressmen (and women), and the President. Let's flood the mailboxes, real and virtual, as well as the phone lines. Let's act on the responsibility incumbent upon us and the opportunities afforded us as American citizens and hold our representatives accountable. They themselves have the best healthcare, and the rest of us deserve no less. Most of us are never called upon to serve our country in any way except for jury duty. Isn't this the critical moment? It's a matter of life and death. Here's the info:




Thanks for stopping by. Here's to living longer and excellent healthcare for us all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Search of...our highest good

I don't know why some people find it easier to create healthy boundaries than others. Seriously. I don't know why some people can say the word "no" without feeling guilt or remorse. Or how you can put yourself first without appearing selfish? And yet, don't you absolutely need to in order to survive and thrive? I don't know how you can be generous of spirit to yourself while being that to others, and yet I know that you can't truly be one without the other. These are the dilemmas I've been grappling with lately. Can you be supportive and loving of someone without sacrificing your own best interests? And is it possible to be loving toward yourself without disappointing those you love most?

So while I'm thinking out loud (or on computer, actually), I thought it would be nice to contemplate the idea of "highest good" because there's some part of me that intrinsically knows that what is for my highest good is for everyone's highest good, and vice versa. Now this is not some whimsical notion predicated on the idea that everything will be easy and smooth. In fact, what often is for our highest good is seldom what is easiest or smoothest, and that's because it involves one particular element - transformation. And transformation involves doing something differently than we've been doing it in order to get a different result so that we can evolve. And goodness knows we'd like to evolve without having to change anything, but that's not how it typically works. And so it can be messy. But just as the earth has evolved to reach its current state of existence, we too must be on a path of evolution on every level.

I'll be the first to tell you that I have not greeted such transformation with an open-arms, go-with-the-flow kind of approach. Mine has been more the kicking and screaming, hanging on for dear life, resistant kind of thing. The only problem with that is it really doesn't serve any constructive purpose, it takes longer, and it makes for a lot of health problems. The truth is that change can be good or bad, but the one thing that is undeniable is its inevitability.

So here I am at the part of the flight where the oxygen masks have all dropped down, and it's time to decide whether I am going to put my own mask on first so that I can then help others, or try to help others first and risk saving none of us. It seems like an easy choice intellectually, and yet, somehow most of us, especially women, do not make it on a regular basis. We choose to put ourselves last, and in the process we teach everyone around us to put us last too. And that serves no one's best interest.

So here's my thought for the day as I come to an end of my meandering - make the choices that are for your highest good - not necessarily the easy ones, not the same ones you've always made, not the ones that feel comfortable, or the ones you think will make you most popular or even liked. Get quiet and be brave enough to listen to the voice inside that knows that it knows - even when it's scary, and new, and not what popular opinion would dictate. Popular opinion once dictated that the world was flat. And that cigarettes were good for you. And that rap music would never last. (I'm kind of disappointed that the last one didn't turn out to be true.) So let's entertain the possibility that there's more good than we can presently conceive of, more fulfillment than we've allowed ourselves to dream, and a brighter future that can be ours if we but dare to ask for and choose our highest good.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Search of...simple gifts

On a good day I've been known to question the world's chances of survival, and maybe it's because I'm getting older (as opposed to just plain old) that I find myself wanting to simplify my life. Not surprisingly, this desire to simplify began with the tsunami that was later followed by hurricane Katrina. Being an empathetic kind of gal, I had no trouble imagining myself losing everything I had and being unable to return to my home - which got me thinking about those things I'd want to take with me if I could, and in general my attachment to things. It even got me thinking about what matters in the bigger picture, given the fragility of life that we spend so much of our time consciously avoiding.

While most people would think that visions of catastrophes are not a particularly positive thing to be focusing one's attention on, for me it had quite the opposite effect - it made me seek a connection to what is significant and eternal, and a healthier detachment from what is not. So I started cleaning out closets and donating or selling things I did not use, want, or take joy from. I started visualizing myself unencumbered and free to move about life with the knowledge that what is of importance we take with us on the inside. I started being free with expressing how much people mean to me. Last Christmas I wrote letters to everyone I was spending the holiday with just to let them know how each of them has uniquely impacted my life and how much I treasure them.

These are interesting times we're living in, where most people seem to be grasping at the straws of uncontrollable consumerism to fill an internal void that no supersize flatscreen could possibly fill. There's no toy that can take the place of spending time with people and genuinely listening. There's nothing more fulfilling than giving a child your undivided attention and receiving in return their unwavering trust in you and love for you. Taking the time to enrich your soul with a trip to a museum or by reading a good book, the benefits of which are invisible to a superficial world, but exist nonetheless - these are things that fill voids. A lifetime filled with individual moments of authentic living is not only personally fulfilling, but leaves behind a ripple effect of memories and experiences in other people's lives.

We all want to feel like our existence matters. And it does, but not to the Blackberry and the iPod, or to the flatscreen or the automobile. It matters to those whose lives we touch, and so if we're to race the clock to acquire anything, we should race it to acquire moments of value - that time spent with an elderly parent, or looking at the sky at sunset that will never appear the same exact way twice, the sensation of holding a child's hand, or listening to a piece of music that moves you to tears...or laughter. These are all simple gifts and not in danger of being swept away with the turning tides of progress or calamity.

So take a moment out of your day to stop and appreciate something or someone you've been oblivious to or neglecting, and maybe, just maybe you will find your life as I have found mine - overflowing with the things that are truly of value.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In Search new religion

I started talking about forming a new religion a couple of days ago, seeing as I now have 16 "followers." I was just dipping my toe in the water, so to speak, when the response signaled that I had struck a nerve. There was some eye rolling and suggested fiery places I might wind up for contemplating such a blasphemous thing, but mostly there was intense curiosity and intrigue, and so I decided to get serious about what started out as a tongue-in-cheek idea because it seemed to me more people than not are searching for something they haven't already found in whatever religion they have been affiliated with or not so far. Maybe we're just facing the same questions as every generation has - Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What is the meaning of life in general? Is there anything after this, and if so, what? And does that next phase depend on what I do in this one? These are all questions every one of us has asked or wondered about at some point, and those devout to one religion or another are certain they have the right answers. Oh, and there's also the question of human suffering - a biggie to be sure.

So while I'm making smart ass suggestions about the ritual of bringing me couture shoes and possibly chocolate, I am willing to throw some ideas out there that did not by any means originate with me, but have made their way into my psyche nonetheless. I'm willing to suggest that bringing chocolate has as much cosmic impact as anything else one might bring to prayer short of an open heart and mind. Don't get me wrong, rituals can be beautiful but I do not think the direction we're facing or wine we drink is going to matter much more to the Big Guy than the outcome of the football game - but that's just me.

Here's what I do think matters - love. Oh, and I don't mean the hippy-dippy, Pollyanna, everyone-is-good-at-heart kind of love. (Look how far that got Anne Frank.) I mean the kind of love that allows arch enemies to sit down and look for a way to co-exist. I mean the kind of love that prompts me to take the last piece of bread I have and break it in half to share it with you. I mean the kind of love that transcends gender, languages, race, sexual orientation, education, economic status, and yes, religion. It's not the easy kind of love where you love only those who mirror yourself in every way, which is what most of us practice right now. It's the tough kind - the kind that stretches you as a human being. And so my new spiritual practice (because the word "religion" feels like too separatist a word to use) is predicated on one notion. Are you ready? It'll be a mind blower to a lot of people -

Each of us is 100% responsible for 100% of everything that goes on everywhere in the world 100% of the time.

Now I know this could be a deal breaker right here for most people because we don't usually like to take responsibility for our own actions, let alone everyone else's too. Not to mention, we enjoy blaming - everything from the weather to bad luck, and everyone from our parents and spouses to if God would ever be as petty as we've managed to become. But it gets us off the hook and I think it's high time we took some personal responsibility. So after much contemplation, I've decided that mine is the religion of personal responsibility, and in keeping with such, my first commandment, if I were to have any commandments, that is, is this:

Clean up your own mess.

I know that may sound simplistic, but it's pretty all inclusive and I'd like to expound because, well, how often do you get to expound on matters of great importance? Not often. So, by "clean up your own mess," I mean on all possible levels - literally, if you litter or pollute, or are the kind that leaves a shopping cart in the middle of the grocery store parking lot (a total pet peeve of mine), then put it where it's supposed to go. That also goes for the items you change your mind about in a store - put them back where they belong. Not only will you be doing the right thing and leaving things the way you found them, but you will get a little extra exercise walking the few steps. Okay, so that's a small scale thing. Here's a large scale thing - clean up the messes of all your relationships. Even if you've been divorced for twenty years, even if you don't and will never agree, even if you're right and they're wrong, even if what happened was unforgivable, even if you've lost everything or won everything - this world would be completely transformed if each of us would say to those whose lives have been intertwined with ours, "I'm deeply and truly sorry for anything I've done, knowingly or unknowingly, that has caused you pain." There is massive transformative power in the words, "I'm sorry."

Since this is too broad a topic to conclude in one blog entry, I've decided that, like my political blogs, I will do this regularly as well. So here's my assignment for today - pick up one piece of trash or shopping cart that isn't yours and properly dispose of it, and call or speak to one person with whom you have unresolved issues and apologize. We've all hurt, and we've all been hurt. Don't you think today would be a great day to turn that around?

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Search values

Once a year my mother's side of the family has a reunion. We don't call it a "reunion" per se, but since that's the term most people go by, I'll call it that. We call it a Family Circle and it originated in New York in the 1930's when everyone lived within a subway ride's distance from one another. To my great grandfather who started it, it was a way to keep his children and their children close because of all the core values he had, family was the most important to him. And so it came to be that as the years progressed and the family grew and spread out, assimilating into American society, this Family Circle became less frequent, but not less revered. So once a year someone offers to host it and as many people as can make it venture forth to the east or the west for a weekend of catching up and camaraderie.

I cannot begin to remember how many people outside my family have commented to me that this is an amazing and uncommon thing that we do, that most families are not this close, do not genuinely enjoy each other this much, and would never make a weekend of extended family a priority. And so I've started wondering how anyone can truly talk about "family values" without valuing family.

Family gives us all an opportunity to grow in the most meaningful ways imaginable because no one can push your buttons more, and inclusion is not predicated on choice. So no matter what the intellect, personal attributes, political views or economic status, you don't need to look far to practice and improve a personal skill set that includes tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance and compromise. And those are skills that would stand us all in good stead as we go about our everyday lives in the world.

So for this coming weekend, I will be hanging out with doctors and lawyers, writers and artists, teachers, business people, the unemployed, and the retired. I'll be with small children and the elderly, the lighthearted and not so lighthearted. There will be talk of things current and things past. There will be lots of food and even more laughter. There will be an opportunity to get to know people and be known by them. I will come away personally enriched as I always do, with a sense of pride at a tradition that has managed to survive beyond its founding members' lifetimes. I will come away looking forward to future gatherings and carrying with me a sense of connectedness to the world around me that transcends the current times in which I live. This connectedness is something I wish every person could experience and know for themselves, but for now I can only be an emissary, bringing to others only that which I myself embody.

So while I'm enjoying my family, I hope you'll take some time to enjoy yours - maybe call a cousin or aunt you haven't spoken to in a while, maybe take a minute to appreciate the link in the chain that is all of our lives and will somehow, knowingly or unknowingly, be a part of the future of humanity.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends...or your family.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In Search of...a new religion

So it dawned on me a while back, that I have fifteen "followers" on my blog, and while some might not consider that a lot, it's three more than Jesus had disciples...which got me thinking about religion and isn't it about time for a new one?

I have been pondering this for quite some time, and so I thought I'd let you know that I am hard at work, contemplating the tenets of said new religion, not to mention a name for it. I realize that those of you who are devout to any particular other faith might find this offensive, as might those of you who don't believe in anything particularly, but I will forge ahead, steadfast in the knowledge that there are at least a couple of people who will consider whatever I have to say. By the way, this new religion will not be centered around worshiping me - though if I thought about it long enough I might make it a requirement to bring couture shoes in a 9 narrow as a sacrifice to me at the altar, but that's just a little fantasy I've got going. Or maybe handbags. Okay, I've got to stop.

Back to religion. Maybe it's not an actual religion. Maybe it's just more like rules to live by. Hmm - this may take more contemplation than I originally thought.

Well, anyway, thanks for stopping by. And here's one rule to live by from Ilene for today - say something nice to someone you don't know. (It will change their whole day.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In Search of...signs of intelligent life

It's Sunday, and if it's Sunday, it must be politics day on my blog, but the thing is I've got this cold/flu thing going on and so my resistance is down...and so is my tolerance for Beltway inertia and pettiness.

So This Week with George Stephanopoulos found the minority and majority whips firmly toting their party lines on healthcare reform and the economy, which they can both afford to do since they've got money and healthcare, so what do they care if the American people are suffering while they stand firm for political gain? It was a waste of time and nothing I haven't heard before and I repeat my earlier suggestion that now would be a good time for the White House to call them in one by one for a little frying pan therapy until they come to their senses.

And just a word on the stimulus to my childish compatriots who need instant gratification or they consider it a total failure - that's how we got into this economic mess to begin with - by wanting instant gratification - huge, unrealistic returns on investments, houses with no money down, etc. Thank God we've got a president who's an adult with enough common sense to know that this can only be fixed successfully over the long term, by seeing the bigger picture and implementing programs that will ultimately create jobs, improve our living conditions, and yes, turn the economy around. But this will not happen overnight, and so everyone's saying it didn't work. I say, just sit down, be quiet, and wait awhile. And while you're waiting, you might want to pitch in and help. You know, you could mentor a child after school, or babysit for a working mother, or recycle, visit the elderly and bring a hot meal - anything at all would be constructive and you don't have to look far to see the need. So I'm still affording my President his Superman cape until further notice.

Shockingly, there are reports from sources who say that Dick Cheney directed the CIA to keep secret a counterterrorism program, meaning that even Congress wasn't briefed that such a program existed. First of all, duh. What is this, a surprise? Of course he did all kinds of secret and probably illegal stuff. Are we seriously feigning shock now? And though I believe that ultimately nothing will come of it, it would be just and fitting if he and the former President were prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If the "when the President does it, it's not illegal" argument didn't work for Nixon, it shouldn't work for Bush and Cheney either.

Now on to fast food, a logical segue from Dick Cheney. So Oscar Mayer died at age 95, which got me thinking and googling. And it turns out that Colonel Sanders died at 90, but Dave Thomas died at 69. The conclusion I'm drawing is that store bought processed meat is better for you than Wendy's, but if you must eat out, go for KFC. And I didn't even use charts and graphs!

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is starting her confirmation hearings, and I don't mind telling; you that I'll probably just watch the highlights. I was attentive for Clarence Thomas and John Roberts and frankly, they both made me sick, so I think I'm going to sit this one out. Yup. Good luck Sonia.

Finally, I wanted to close with a touch of the absurd. So there I sat for the 2nd or third week in a row, watching the round table discussion on a political show veer towards Michael Jackson, except this time the discussion was about there being too much media coverage and air time given to a pop singer, which elicited an audible giggle from me because they were spending yet more air time discussing the overabundance of coverage. Am I the only one who finds that funny?

Then George Will chimed in, coining the term "synthetic grief," which he also used to describe the outpouring for Princess Diana. Oh George Will, have ye no heart? Are you really only able to feel for those you know personally? Is there no touch of sadness you can find in your heart for those whose potential was cut short by brevity of years? Is there no way you can feel the tragedy of losing someone who had the courage to say, "Heal the world. Make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race?" And Princess Diana who walked through land mines to bring attention to those who lost limbs, who held AIDS babies - is there really no way you can see that as a personal loss for us all? Well, I wish you a softening of the heart, my friend - kind of like the kind the Grinch had at the end of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Well, since I've covered Congress, the CIA, deli meats, and the Grinch, my work here is done for today. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Search favorite summer TV shows

I thought that after the past couple of days' blogs it might be a nice change to try some lighter fare. And what lighter fare could there possibly be than television?

Summer always finds me watching less and doing more, but thanks to the geniuses who figured out that having new shows to watch would actually garner viewers, I do have some new favorites. The USA network hosts all of my new faves, so kudos to them for good programing. First of all, I'm a Law & Order junkie, so airing new episodes of Criminal Intent makes me happy, and though I'm not particularly a Jeff Goldbum fan, I am really enjoying him as the new quirky addition. (By the way, why is it that only the men on that show get to be quirky?) But much as I love me my Law & Order, my bigger favorites are In Plain Sight, Royal Pains, and Psych, which will resume new episodes in August.

In Plain Sight has really hit its stride this year and I'm liking it more and more. The dialogue has gotten funnier and the characters are far more clearly defined, so Sunday nights I'm riveted as each new case about someone in witness protection unfolds.

Psych has already been on for a couple of seasons, so I feel like there aren't quite as many surprises and unless they go somewhere unexpected this season, the characters are pretty one dimensional. That being said, they are charming and funny, and they have great chemistry - all of which makes for enjoyable TV watching.

I saved Royal Pains for last because it gets the #1 slot in my list of summer favorites. I have always had a thing for Mark Fauerstein - not the likeliest of leading men, and yet here he is, finally the star in his own hit show. Yay Mark! Good for you for hanging in for so long and finally seeing success!

I love this show because it's quirky, well written, and always goes a little differently than I expect it to. The characters (except for Jill, Hank's love interest) seem to have many layers right off the bat, and that makes them interesting to watch. I've never been to the Hamptons, so I couldn't tell you if it's an accurate depiction, but I'm guessing that, though exaggerated a tad, it probably is. And since most of us do not live that lifestyle, that too adds an element of interest.

Honorable mention must also be given to The Closer, a TNT contribution, which never diminishes in quality as the years pass.

So those are my top picks. I know, I know, my friends tell me I'm missing great stuff with So You Think You Can Dance, and America's Got Talent, but I think that Dancing with the Stars and American Idol are all I can take as far as contests and "reality" TV go.

I hope you're enjoying your summer, whatever shows and activities it includes. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Search self esteem

I've been grappling with a lot of things lately - losses both personal and professional. And as I mourn them, I wonder how it is we hold onto to our self esteem in the face of our failures, be they real or imagined. I wonder how we are to hold on to our self worth with any certainty when we find ourselves falling short of the external things our society considers worthy of esteem. And how do you keep your head above water when people are just plain cruel and when you are maligned and can do nothing to stop it?

Most of us face one or more of these at some point in our lives, and celebrities face them all the time, and so I wonder how we build self esteem, the kind that can sustain us in the midst of all the trials and tribulations. I wonder particularly as an artist how we can remain open hearted, sensitive and compassionate enough to do our jobs while still letting the things meant to tear us down just roll off our backs. I have not found a way to do this. I have found ways to pick up the pieces and move forward, but I have not found the way not to feel chipped away at at my core.

I don't know if people in professions outside of the arts deal with this as regularly as those of us who create do, but at some point there has to be a conscious decision about what qualities are necessary for self esteem.

I was watching Michael Jackson's memorial service the other day, and I was struck by the enormity of emotions felt worldwide by his passing. And yet, this was not a man who had self esteem or he wouldn't have been so physically self destructive for so much of his life. So even being one of the biggest celebrities in the world, even having achieved fortune and fame, even having brought people together with his music, even being the most charitable celebrity in history, even with family and friends and money and a good heart he did not like himself. So what is it that gives you self esteem if not those things? Or maybe we're not supposed to have it. Maybe art cannot be created by souls who aren't tortured in some way. I don't know.

I'd like to believe that self esteem can come from figuring out what you consider to have value and living a life that exemplifies that. I think it's finding a way to know who you are and who you are not and staying true to that. I think self esteem comes from pushing yourself further than you think you can go so that you can delight in never really knowing how much you're capable of. It clearly doesn't come from what others think of you. No amount of accolades can convince me that I'm worth more than I think I am.

So as I go about my day, I am going to revisit what I think is of value - integrity, love, honesty, and decency, among others. I'm going to see if there isn't some way to acknowledge the ways in which I already embody those qualities, and maybe, just maybe like myself a little more.

Thanks for stopping by. And please take a moment to acknowledge yourself for all those things that make you feel good about yourself too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Search of...what's reasonable

I bought a card for someone the other day and it started with the words "I believe," and then continued with a litany of things that seemed to me profound in their simplicity. One of them was, "I believe that peace is reasonable," and this really struck a chord with me because to me peace is reasonable, and yet I've heard it described as everything but that.

I've been told that I'm a dreamer who has a very unrealistic view of how the world's supposed to look. I've been told I live in Disneyland, that I'm not pragmatic and that hope springs eternal with me. All of these things are meant to be a slight, I'm sure, but somehow I wear them as a badge of honor. That card got me thinking about what's reasonable.

I think it's reasonable to want to look for solutions to our problems and put the kind of elbow grease into those solutions that only a person who believes it's reasonable would do. I think that our selfishness and isolationism as individuals and as a society is what's unreasonable. I think it's reasonable to expect more from ourselves.

I believe that peace is reasonable.
I believe that love is not only reasonable but sane and inevitable.
I believe that life is a gift and whomever you believe that gift comes from is not as important as what you do with it.
I believe that success and integrity do not need to be mutally exclusive.
I believe it's reasonable to reach beyond what we know we can do.
I believe it's reasonable to believe that one person can not only make a difference, but makes all the difference.
I believe it's reasonable to be that one person. Each of us. Now. Because now is all there is. And reasonable or not, what we each choose to do with our now matters.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In Search of...a little of this about that

So it's Sunday, and if it's Sunday it must be politics. I'm back in Nashville, and somehow my DVR only recorded the second half of This Week with George Stephanopoulos...which I didn't think was possible for a DVR to do, but it did. So I missed Joe Biden which is a bummer because at the very least, he is always entertaining.

The roundtable discussion began with talk of Sarah Palin's surprising resignation from the one actual position she was elected to and swore an oath to carry out - being Governor of the state of Alaska. She said that she didn't want to subject Alaskans to that, an altruistic gesture which I'm sure her fellow Alaskans are relieved about...or at least I would be...if I were an Alaskan. Anyway, she seemed far more nervous to me during this press conference than she did throughout the entire presidential campaign and subsequent election. She danced unconvincingly and ambiguously around all different reasons for this sudden and unexpected resignation ranging from not wanting to be a lame duck governor, to her family, to the "grownups" out there that are picking on her family (which I'll get to in a minute), to wanting to serve the public from the outside. I interpreted the last one as her wanting to run for President and spend time campaigning in the lower 48 which she would receive sharp criticism for if she did it while still being Governor of Alaska. She also mentioned overseas travel, which again, if she ran would provide some good B roll for future campaigns. And then there was the basketball analogy. Note to self - sports analogies are always big crowd pleasers. I guess the real reason will eventually become known, but for now it's okey dokey, Madame Governor. We'll catch ya later, you betcha. Quitter.

On other political fronts, it seems our economy is not picking up fast enough for Washington insiders and the media to grant our President his Superman cape. Oh how quickly they turn on you. For goodness sake, give the guy some time. It took George Bush eight years to screw things up this badly. Give the President at least a year to turn something around.

And in case you think I cut the President too much slack because I like him (which I do, but still), I am waiting for him not just to undertake a lot of different initiatives, but to undertake bold ones. The last thing we need is to mess around with healthcare and make no radical changes. And by the way, all the "it's a start" talk in the world about our climate policy isn't going to save this planet, and we will not be around to quibble if we don't make drastic changes now. So having just gotten the magic senatorial number of 60, if the President doesn't knock some heads together and get something significant accomplished, I will not be happy with him. And yes, I still like the guy, but who cares about that if we're all dead? (And I'm actually in a good mood today!)

So just to get back to poor little picked on Bristol Palin and her outraged Mama, let me just say this about that. I agree that the press and late night talk show hosts should lay off the kids and aim their jabs at the ones running because, after all, the children didn't choose that life. They did not decide to run for office, nor did they have any say about being under the scrutiny of the public eye. However, and this is the big "however," the point at which the child is going on national TV doing interviews that they sought out and agreed to do, and the point at which they decided to do a spread themselves in People magazine, that's the point at which they chose to be fair game. So if you want to be a teenage mother preaching abstinence on TV, then you get the backlash. Granted, the hypocrisy of your parents' very public religious views don't help matters when they lie in direct opposition to your actions, but nevertheless, once you go out there publicly on your own, you enter that arena at your own peril. So while I can fully appreciate Sarah Palin's parental outrage, her energy might have been more wisely spent keeping her daughter off national television.

And as a final note, what a tragedy that Steve McNair's poor personal choices robbed football of a great player and his children of a father. This further supports my theory that guns are bad. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've got a "right" to have them. Tell that to Steve McNair's children.

I think I need to go do some deep breathing and not take handguns, healthcare, and climate change to heart. Where's Tina Fey when I could really use another laugh?!!

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, July 3, 2009

In Search open road

So it's July 4th weekend, and it feels strange - partly because July 4th falls on a Saturday this year and partly because its true significance seems to have gotten lost in recent times. But that's fodder for tomorrow's 4th of July blog.

I myself will be heading out on the open road today, driving back to Nashville from New York. I plan on returning in time to see some fireworks. This is a drive I know well and have done many times, but the Blue Ridge mountains never cease to take my breath away, as does the Manhattan skyline as I approach it driving in. There are many things that I'm grateful for on my drive, including but not limited to the multitude of Cracker Barrels that line my journey between Yonkers and Nashville. (The importance of a clean bathroom, decent food, and a place to shop can never be underestimated when traveling.)

So as I leave New York for Music City, I will miss the people and the pizza, as always, but I look forward to the scenery and the gratitude I feel knowing I am free to move about the country as I please, and take in all the sights, both natural and not so natural.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great 4th and drive safely wherever your travels take you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Search of...justice

So Bernie Madoff was sentenced to one hundred fifty years in prison, the media is now saying that Michael Jackson's kids were neither his biological nor legal children, and Al Franken is finally Senator Al Franken. But wait, there's more. A teenage girl held on to a piece of plane wreckage for thirteen hours in the Indian Ocean to be the only survivor of a plane crash, Obama reversed a Bush era decision which now makes California the first state to implement a federal policy to curb global warming by imposing stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and lastly the FDA may pull drugs like Vicodin and Percocet off the market, but not because of the addictive narcotic element, but because of the acetaminophen in it.

Where oh where to start. Bernie. I've pondered this since I heard the news. While a hundred fifty years is symbolic, it doesn't seem just to me. The problem is nothing does as long as so many lives are destroyed, so though I agree that Bernie shouldn't see the light of day as a free man, (and I think his family and associates are culpable too, by the way), I don't think prison alone is justice for Bernie. I personally think that he should be forced to look at the faces of the people he destroyed on a daily basis and then be made to do work for the poor. He could serve soup at a shelter, mop floors and clean bed pans at a government owned senior facility - things like that where he'd actually be doing some good while coming face to face with the kind of poverty and neglect that he's relegated some people to. That's as close to justice as I can come up with absent the ability to gather all his victims and leave them in a room alone with him for a while.

Michael Jackson. Oh, the stories and rumors that have only begun to emerge. If last night's reports are true, then I don't know what is going to happen to those poor children. First of all, I think the court should have its head examined for allowing the children to stay at the home of a known abuser like Joe Jackson. I know that all anyone is mentioning is the mother, but at the very least Katherine Jackson is an enabler if nothing else. All we can hope is that at 79 the kids can outrun Joe. As for the will, if Michael does have a legal will, then I would like to think it's possible that he legally adopted his kids, but you never know. All I can say is that I'm praying for those children. The rest of the craziness will work itself out with the standard Hollywood infighting and endless lawsuits.

Senator Al Franken. I know you can't see me at home right now, but I'm doing my happy dance. I am thrilled and excited that the man who actually won the election will get to serve, and I'm also hoping to high heaven the Democrats don't blow the opportunity they now have to accomplish important things like healthcare reform that can benefit everyone. So congratulations, Al! Now get to work!

About the sole survivor of the plane crash, I don't know how you wrap your brain around that, especially when you've lost your mother in the crash, but I really hope she knows that she must have survived for a reason, and I hope she goes on to make good use of the new life she's been given.

As for the plane itself, when are they going to take Airbuses off the market? It seems to me there have been more crashes and equipment failure with them than with any other type of plane. And even if there haven't, the fact that I can name at least three incidents is reason enough to do something about it. They're not safe, and while it's nice that they're equipped with fancy entertainment features like individual TV's and such, it would be nicer if they stayed in the air actually and landed safely.

Go California and your two-steps-ahead-of-the-rest-of-us environmental consciousness! I think it's about time that we got serious about environmental legislation and enforcement. I think it's about time that we reverse all the environmental regulations that Bush and his corporate buddies did away with for monetary gain. I think it's about time that we at least try to stop the continuation of our destructiveness toward our planet and the future of humanity. It's a start.

Lastly, let's talk about drugs. I'm finding it more than a little amusing that Tylenol is the big problem, especially considering that acetaminophen by itself doesn't do a damn thing for me personally. However, the problem runs much deeper than the label directed dosage of a fairly harmless drug. Clearly acetaminophen is in a lot of different things that we don't think twice about taking, and combining it with other things that we don't think twice about taking is what can kill you. But before the FDA decides to take away our NyQuil, I'd like to point out that they really do list the ingredients on our over the counter medications, and at some point each of us gets to decide for ourselves if the benefits outweigh the risks. Surely I'm not the only one who actually reads the labels of what I ingest. The logic that cigarettes are readily available to the public and yet they're thinking of banishing my Excedrin because an excess of it could damage my liver just plain pisses me off. But cynic that I am (today), there must be some new big drug that some drug company is wanting to launch - one touted as a better, safer drug - one that will work just like acetaminophen, but have none of the least that's what they'll tell us. So let's wait and see if I'm not right about that. I wish I could believe it was about saving lives, but I don't.

So in summation, and because I think I've actually given myself a headache talking about all this, these past few days we've seen the courts and legislators provide the justice of a criminal sentence, an election determination and an environmental reversal, as well as the bigger mystery of why one person survived while 152 others died. We wait while the futures of three children remain undetermined, and we have to trust that the FDA might actually be looking out for our best interests this time around. All in all it's been quite a few days.

Thanks for stopping by and revisiting it with me.