We Need to Remember

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Photo by TJ Parker

“If we are to survive the most divisive presidency in generations, it’s up to us to climb down our family trees and better understand how we got here. It’s up to us to ask fellow countrymen “where are you from?” with a lot less fear and a lot more wonder.” – Bill Weir, States of Change

 

We need to understand what drives us, our opinions, our ways of being and thinking in the world.  Why do we denigrate people with views different from our own?  Where is the wonder? Where is the respect?  Where is the humanity?

I was reading the transcript from CNN’s Bill Weir’s program called, States of Change, Homecoming.  His show, one I haven’t watched all the way through to fully disclose, is an exploration of his roots.  They are interesting to be sure, but that’s not what grabbed me. What grabbed me was the thought that we have opinions, some virulent, strong, unchanged despite our best efforts to be open.  Why is that?  Where do they come from?  Shouldn’t we be interested in that?

It’s easy to pronounce our opinions, to put down other opinions, to think we know best and act as if we do by spouting and re-posting article after article or meme after meme putting other’s opinions, lives, views, down.  Way down. That’s low if you think about it. Our opinions are made.  Made from our experiences and our feelings about those experiences.  We forget this.  We forget to put that big old magnifying glass we so easily point at others back at ourselves.  We are, none of us, without flaws.  Our views, even though we might passionately hold them, are not rule of law, are not even always a greater truth.  They are just our truth, our views.  We forget that.

What I’m saying is, we should be looking at our own views, at ourselves, to really examine why we feel as we do, and then, shockingly, be open to others who might feel differently.  They’ve had different experiences, different influences, leading to different views.  It doesn’t make them, or ourselves, idiots. Just makes us humans with different opinions.  I can believe something to be true that you do not believe it true, and vice versa, you can believe something I don’t believe, that’s OK.  Different opinions lead to varying solutions.  Varying solutions solve our problems.

I was also watching coverage of the Harvey rescue efforts.  Two rescued sisters were interviewed.  During that interview, they said they thought it was beautiful that in these divisive times, when people are standing firmly on either side of an invisible line, both racially and politically, that all is forgotten and the community comes together, no color lines, no political lines, to help.  It is beautiful.  What’s sad is that we need some disaster to remind us that we’re all human, that we should and do love each other.  No qualifiers.

I don’t know what all this means.  I feel I need to shout out into the void occasionally to say, remember… remember to love.  Remember to be kind.  Remember we’re, most of us, just doing the best we can to live our lives.  Remember we’re different, we’ve had different experiences.  Remember that’s OK.  Forget fear.  Remember to have wonder. Remember to be fair.  Remember to be gracious.  Remember to be gentle with the feelings of others.  Remember.  If we can, if we do, everything changes.  Love prevails, even in small moments, or big ones, like what’s happening in Houston.

We need to remember.

52 Thoughts: Seventh Thought

Photo by TJ Parker

In the last two weeks one friend suddenly lost his Mom and my honey’s Mom had some serious health issues and went into the hospital.  We are hoping the treatment helps her, that the doctors can fully figure out what’s going on, and that she can get on the road to recovery.  My honey flew out in January 31 to help her family.  That’s what you do.  You pull together.  You help.  You love.

I woke this morning with an overwhelming feeling of love.  Love for my honey and her Mom and Dad and my Mom and my friend who just lost his Mom.  Love for the rest of my family and my friends.  You are precious to me.  More than I could ever express in a blog post.

I also woke with this feeling that I needed to say something about the current climate in our country.  About how I feel about it, from a personal perspective.  Keyword, personal.

I hate divisiveness.  I’m always “preaching” togetherness and love because I mean it, I think those things, along with kindness and hope and joy are keys to life.  Both to our own personal living of it, and to our shared community, locally, nationally, and globally.  We are literally all in this together so we need to pull our heads out of our collective asses and get on with the business of working together.

I’m a patriot.  That means I can criticize what my government is doing, and should if I don’t agree.  We were founded on that principal.  Our right to disagree with our elected officials and call out any injustices we think are happening.  The fact that I don’t agree with what our current president is doing on many fronts is my personal opinion.  This opinion doesn’t make me unAmerican.  Not in the least.  In fact, it makes me an American.  We have that right here.  To disagree.  To call out.  And beyond that, we have a duty to do it.  I don’t mean we should just mindlessly repost memes about our politicians.  That kind of judgment and ridiculousness has gone on too long.  We need to be responsible about how we disagree, but disagreeing is an important part of our democracy.

I’m tired of playground tactics.  This crap about oh, they did it, they did it, so we are going to do it too.  Oh my God.  Grow up.  We all need to just grow up.  When the “other side” does something we don’t like, that we’ve found to be reprehensible, it’s not an excuse to then go and do the same or a similar thing just because, well, “they” did it.  Both sides do it, both politicians and the average joe.  C’mon people.  Grow a pair.  Pull up your big boy pants.  Quit reacting, pointing the finger, and being so childish.  You have good ideas that are your own, present them.  But don’t use as an excuse that the other side “did it” and now so will you.  If you think so little of the other side, why would you want to turn around and do something you found to be unacceptable.  It just widens the gap.  Creates further divide.  “They did it, they did it!”  Childish.  We aren’t on a playground anymore.

I care about the environment.  I’m tired of the climate change discussion.  There is climate change.  Yes, it’s occurring naturally, without man’s intervention, because it just is.  But we are also adding to it.  Making that change happen at a faster rate by putting toxins into the air.  Toxins we also put into the water and the land.  We need to take care of this planet.  Let’s stop talking about climate change and start talking about the planet itself, the environment.  We’ve gotten lost in semantics.  Holy hell, the Earth is the only one we have.   We want to treat it with respect, the respect it deserves.  You want to use it up without a thought about what that could mean for our children’s children?  Are you that arrogant and uncaring?  Get a grip.  Man is having an impact on this beautiful spinning ball and we need to try and make sure that impact is as minimal as possible.  Quit arguing about semantics.

Fake news.  My lord.  It exists.  On both sides.  So pull your head out and do your due diligence.  Quit reading your one or two sources that only support your point of view because you think only those sources are telling you the truth.  They probably aren’t.  Mainstream media is not the enemy.  Journalism has and always will help to shine the light and point our attention to things we should be paying attention to.  Sometimes we don’t like the message they send, but that’s life.  Since when do we want yes men and insular points of view to rule the land.  We don’t.  Again, grow the hell up and read.  Yes, I’ll say it again.  Read many sources, especially sources that disagree with your point of view.  Do your own research.  Be responsible.  Don’t just press send on meme after meme after meme without actually looking into the information you’re spreading.  If you just press send like a mindless automaton then you are a huge part of the problem.  YOU are encouraging the spread of misinformation.   Hell, let’s quit calling it fake news and start calling it misinformation.  That’s what it is.  Sleight of hand.  Don’t be gullible.  Don’t be an idiot.  There are good sources of information on both sides.  And mainstream media… just because they are printing things you don’t like to hear doesn’t mean what they’re printing is a lie because it doesn’t support your worldview.  Yes, I’m liberal, but I do read stuff from the right.  I want to know the point of view, I want to try and understand it, and I want to hear different points of view.  I don’t agree with what I read much of the time, but as I said somewhere earlier in this rant, not agreeing is part of the deal.

And speaking of just following along.  We should all be questioning and critical consumers of information.  Whatever the source.

I love the diversity of this country.  No one group or group’s dogma, religious or political, should have the final say about anything.  No one group should be able to determine how I live, who I sleep with, what I do with my body, etc.  You might have very strong feelings about these things, and I appreciate those.  You are entitled to have them, they are yours.  But since when did one group have the right to control me.  This country was founded on the principle that church and state should be separate.  Why?  Because there is more than one way to worship.  People pray to God differently, call God by different names.  Some don’t believe in God at all.  All of those beliefs are valid and no one of those groups should be able to legally make the other groups follow their tenants, their belief system.  Our spiritual beliefs should be kept out of government otherwise we run the very real risk of falling into a dictatorship where one group dictates to all other groups how they should live their lives, what is acceptable for them and not as to beliefs.  A suppression of beliefs is a very scary thing.

Speaking of fear… demonizing an entire group as the source of our woes is frightening. Yes, I’m talking about Muslims.  They worship differently than Christians do, people don’t understand their religion, but this difference, and a bit of mystery, doesn’t make them terrorists.  Terrorists are terrorists.  They come from all backgrounds, all religions, and are born in different countries.   The Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by a couple of white guys born in the U.S.  Both had been in the military and were upset about the FBI’s handling of the Waco, David Kuresh, situation.  My point is that we can’t look at only one group and demonize them as the source of all evil.  That’s happened in our world’s history before and it led to the execution of millions of people.  The Jews were not evil either.  Some people may read this and think I’m over simplifying things, and maybe I am a tad, but I’m an intelligent person, one who knows that just because someone is born somewhere doesn’t automatically mean they are bad.  Singling out an entire group for the actions of a few, that’s wrong, and it’s lazy.

We’ve somehow created a culture, or been led by the noses into it, that there is “the other” and “the other” is bad.  “The other” is evil.  There are things we won’t agree on ever.  That’s the way of it.  That’s how life works.  We all come from different places, have different backgrounds, grew up having our own unique experiences.  Those experiences inform how we see the world, how we think.  They should.  Our own experiences are ours.  Black, white, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, disabled, abled, women, men, Mexican, Muslim, Christian, Asian, people in rural areas, city-dwellers, environmentalists, people from industry, conservationists, big business… it goes on and on.  We are different.  We come from different points of view.  It’s a beautiful bold diverse melting pot.  All points of view matter.  There is no “other”.  There’s just us.  And we need to start being responsible for ourselves.  Not following along with dogma because it’s supposed to be ours.  Because someone told us to.  We need to question.  Not just the beliefs of those spewing the dogma, what they are telling us is true, but ourselves.  We need to look inside, figure out why we are motivated the way we are.  Are we being responsible?  Are we taking responsibility?  Or are we just automatons.  Being controlled by our biases, or the biases of the people we are blindly listening to.

We have to ask questions people.  Of ourselves, our politicians, our media, our family, and friends.  We live in a community of diverse minds, we need to act like it.  To honor it.

That is all.

52 Thoughts: Fourth Thought

 

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Photo by TJ Parker

We have to hold onto each other.

It’s simple.  We need each other.  We always have.  No one person operates in a vacuum. We should be concerned for our fellow man.  We should find reasons to love, instead of reasons to push people away from us.

We get nowhere in life by isolating ourselves.  By only listening to ourselves and those who agree with us.  By thinking we have all the answers, that we know everything.

Certainty is good, but it should always be tempered by an open mind.  We should always be open to other ideas, to new ways of thinking, and to the fact that others might not agree with us.  Certainty doesn’t make what we think better than what those who disagree think.  That’s a common error.  Just because we believe something to be true, it doesn’t make our ideas better than the ideas of someone who doesn’t believe the same thing. Arrogance is never attractive and is often destructive to relationships and to the world.  We have to learn to accept that our way is our way, it works for us, but it might not for someone else, and that’s OK.  It doesn’t make them less than.

We need to hold onto each other.  To take care of each other.   We just do.

52 Thoughts: First Thought

 

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Photo by TJ Parker

It’s 2017.  I’m happy about it.  I kept waiting for it, ready to start anew.  Ready for a reboot.

Last year was stressful.  Surprising and tense and divisive and nasty.  Many good things happened in my life, but I was greatly affected by everything happening in the world, and that stuff, the stuff splashed all over mainstream media, was frequently disheartening and disappointing.

K and I spent the last weeks of 2016 doing daily random acts of kindness.  It helped both of us to be more positive.  To look at things from a different, and more uplifting, perspective.  We vowed, going forward into 2017, we would continue trying to look at the world from the place of kindness.  Continue to do random acts as they presented themselves.  I think we will.  We both believe kindness is key, a necessity.

I was thinking last night about the news, being affected by it, getting upset, etc.  After all, it’s still there.  Just because we’re in a new year doesn’t mean it all miraculously goes away.  I have friends who are so passionate about the state of things they are still posting political stuff on Facebook and Twitter.  I get incensed about certain events, just as they do, but I don’t post them.  It’s not my way.   My way is to post things I believe to be positive, uplifting, and kind.  It’s a different way of going at things, which is OK.  Mine helps me, theirs helps them I’m sure.

In that vein I started thinking about the effect all of this information has on me. Bombarded with news reports and posts about news reports and political events and health crises and how this thing or that thing is bad for you.  It’s easy to get sucked in, to focus on it all, to think that those things have significant value in my life.  But honestly, they don’t.  Yes, I do care about the world, I am concerned about a lot of it.  I am.  And K and I will be volunteering for a couple of organizations this year in order to try and step up and do something productive and positive.  But if I spend too much time thinking every day about all of it I’m not living right where I am.  I forget to look at what’s good in my life, there is a whole lot that’s good.  I miss appreciating great sunsets and how beautiful the light is shining through the trees.  I am not present.

It’s so easy to be distracted, to look outside my life and focus on what’s wrong with everything.  But that would be a disservice to my life, and I definitely wouldn’t be honoring all the magic that exists in my every day.  The way to honor my life, to live it fully, to be present in it, is to notice the magic.  To soak up the moments.  To put my focus on the people and the sunsets and the smiles.  To pay attention when I’m having a great conversation, or when one of my grandkids laughs, or when my honey smiles at me a certain way.  To honor this beautiful life I have to be responsible for feeling it, being IN it.

So to hell with bad news, crazy politics, and all the negative crap.  I can’t change the whole world, I can only do my small part.   I will act with grace, or at least try to.  I will be present and faithful to this beautiful, amazing, glorious life I’m lucky to be living.  That’s where my energy needs to be spent.  On walks and dog loves and kisses and hugs and music and beautiful words and great meals with family and laughter with friends and taking photographs and writing and silly and kindness and joy and love.

This is what I will do. That is all.

 

 

Be The Love You Want to See in The World

1935760_142466440801_985538_nI’m in a good mood.  And maybe because I’m in a good mood I want everyone to be in a good mood.  Happy speaks to happy, that kind of thing.

I know, I know, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world.  Yes, I said shit, I’m allowed to cuss once in a while.  Sometimes no other word works.  Seriously though, I’m not blind to all the stuff that’s not working.  I know there are things that need fixing.

But….

I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong.  It’s so easy in fact that we don’t see what’s going right.  What’s good.  The conflict and hate and the things we dislike seem to take our attention.  I’m not sure why that is.  We get critical of, and complain about a myriad of things – family members and politicians and news programs and celebrities and an endless litany of stuff.  The onslaught leaves us in a state of anxiety, anger, and helplessness.  Is there another way?

Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of perspective.  Sometimes, all it takes is a moment, a little shift.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open them again.  Look at the sky and the light and the faces of the people you love.  Put on a great album and hear the notes, the arrangement, the groove of the vocals.  Read a book and appreciate the beauty of the words.  Listen to the laughter of your children or grandchildren or your spouse.  Play with your pups or cats or rabbits or lizards and notice how much they love you.  Seek out positivity in your news, see what good is being done out in the world, there’s so much of it.  Notice kindnesses and smiles and the friendliness of your neighbors.  Watch sunsets and look with wonder at the amazing things we can build when we dream.  See the world with different eyes, a different heart, and it will be different.    It can be.  Even if we only manage to do it for a moment or a day.  String those moments to hours and those days to weeks. If we notice the kindnesses in the world, maybe we’ll act with more kindness.  Be the love you want to see in the world.

I’m in a good mood today and I want everyone to be in a good mood.

Happy Birthday, Dad

ImageToday would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  71.

I imagine him, smiling, moving quickly from one project to another, eyes sparkling like only his did, laughing that fantastically gregarious laugh.  I imagine him surrounded by his children, their spouses, his grandchildren, his wife.  He is drinking coffee, with cream and loads of sugar, and eating a cheese sandwich.  His hair is gray, it went that way early, which is something he passed to the seven of his children, and his clunky black glasses are perched on his nose.  He’s wearing a pair of polyester pants, some funky loafers, a knit polo shirt, and some off-color windbreaker.  He’s legally blind, but you’d never know it by the way he zips around, managing to never run into anything.  His spirit, which has always been joyful and silly and free, is a big presence in this space.  He fills it.  I imagine him giving me a hug, so tight, full of all the things he could never really say.  Afterward he sits down at his pedal steel guitar and he plays.  Man, does he play.  His skill is unmatched, his notes hitting with perfection, and his smile gets even bigger, if that’s possible.  Then he begins to sing….

Today would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  He’s been gone for nearly 8 years now.  I miss him still….

Happy birthday, Dad.

The Great Migration – Revisited

 

The Great Migration
Published November 17th, 2005 Essays 1 Comment Edit

The think tank has moved. I did, however, bring over my little missives from the previous site. Stay tuned….

Saturday, November 12th, 2005
8:46 am
Back to Busy-ness

I am amused and feeling a sense of happy contentment. It’s Friday night, and we have no plans. I think to myself… what a luxury. We seem to be busy all the time. And I want to know, when did that happen? When did busy become the way of life? I’m scratching my head here.

Everyone is rushing. Have to get to the next meeting, the next phone call, the next dinner, the next movie, the next chore around the house. We have calendars on desks, in phones, on computers, in hand held devices. And most of those, well the electronic ones anyway, have alarms. Not only do we constantly have to write everything down, we have to audibly remind ourselves that we wrote it down.

I know, sitting here right now, there are things I should, or could, or am supposed to be doing. I can walk around my house and see all of the things left undone. If I think on it hard enough I also conjure up all the stuff not done outside, but it’s raining, so I have an excuse. Sadly, not only do the tasks around here plague me, but the piles of paperwork and files on my desk start to creep into my consciousness. They do, if I let them. I must fight it!

I want to be a kid again. Or, better yet, be me, now, but with the magic secret super power I had as a kid… that strange and mysterious ability to forget absolutely everything, except what I was doing at the moment. To ignore anything, including the sounds of mom calling from the house, even when she used all three of my names, and that meant business. But, I didn’t hear it, at least not right away. And when I did, finally, she’d probably used the dreaded three name technique to gain attention one, two, or even three times. I was in my own world, master of my own fate. In charge, completely, of my destiny. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I did nothing, except what I was doing, right then, at the moment.

At the moment, that’s the key.

Now as an adult, I am distracted. I’m watching a movie, or reading a book, or having a conversation… and suddenly, without intent or warning, the voice starts… my evil little inner twin, the task master. It begins to knock on my consciousness, slowly at first, little pictures or a word floating into “view” inside my head. It lets me know, I am not alone. It is always, except when I’m sleeping, with me. Even in sleep I think it’s there, it’s just probably sleeping too. But when I’m awake, it’s awake. It says things like… trash… or maybe… phone call. It doesn’t have to speak loudly, or even report its message fully. It just has to whisper, like wind slightly rustling the leaves. It pushes me, gently. Starting the swirl of thoughts in my brain…. Can you believe what that kid said today? Oops, I forgot to make that call. Where was that file? The look on that parents face was so sad. I need to remember that number when I go up to court. The car is so dirty. What’s for lunch? The lawn should’ve been mowed before it started raining. That shop door needs a new gasket… And so it goes… the list. Before I know it, three scenes of a movie have gone by and I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? Damn, I have to rewind.

Our lives, as adults, are busy. There are appointments and weddings, shopping to do, calls to make, bills to pay, papers to finish, and lawns to mow. There are friends and family to spend time with, work to be done. It is a never ending constant parade of to dos, should dos, must dos. From the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, which sometimes does not come easily thanks to all the thinking, we are bombarded with it. And I, for one, think it’s time we left all the busy-ness behind and got back to the business of being kidlike again. The business of living now, seizing, as they say, the day. Letting everything else melt away… until finally, surprised because it snuck up on us, we get that elusive feeling of peace. Finally, if not briefly, satisfied with our lives, our homes, and ultimately, ourselves… inner voices quieted, a pervasive feeling of giddy awe ensuing, we do face the day, freer than we were. Amused, contented, and still. Think of it, a world of happy contented people. Looking at and living in the moment. Our world would quiet, and we… well… we might, finally, get to see an entire movie… without thinking about a thousand other things, and then having to rewind.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
6:48 pm
How to Accessorize

Lately, I feel like an accessory. Or, more to the point, I feel like in being gay, I’m a sort of accessory. Ten years ago, we weren’t, the gay I mean, even talked about, except, of course, in a negative light. Now we are everywhere. Flip the channel on the television and you’ll find us… on talk shows, sitcoms, the food network, and many of those home-decorating shows. We are the best friend, the funny neighbor, and the hip buddy with the excellent fashion sense. We are politically savvy, and not just where gay marriage is concerned. We know and are passionate about environmental causes, finding the cure for various kinds of cancer, keeping arts programs in schools, and education.

The marketing people, whoever they are, have figured this out. Because not only are we everywhere, we are also spending money. We are, generally, successful. Marketing firms know this. They have found a new and vital segment of the population. Sneaking into visual and print media are more and more ads with gay couples, or inferring gayness, in some way. They are trying to tap our market. And us… we’re easy. All a marketing firm has to do is acknowledge us and we’re theirs. Say to the heavens that we exist and are just as normal as every other person or couple, and we are with you, ready to do almost anything, support almost anything, buy almost anything.

Not to say we’re cheap, no… just hungry for simple recognition. A simple acknowledgement that we, just like all those straight people and couples out there, are the same. We love our families, our friends, and our partners. We want homes, jobs that provide a decent salary and some good benefits, peace in our lives. We want to raise families and contribute to society. We are passionate, creative, driven, smart, loving, playful, generous, deep souls… just like all of you. We breathe the same, feel the same, and love the same. We are no threat. We have no plans to take over the world. There is not a covert gay conspiracy, as some would suggest, lingering just under the surface of our wish to be “just like everyone else”. We are not recruiting. There is no secret phone line we must call every week to report the numbers we have scored for our team to determine if we’ve met our quota. No… we are, as much as anyone else, boringly normal.

And the media, as I’ve already toyed with earlier, is aware of this. They know we are here, and yes, we are queer. All of this new acknowledgement and media attention has lent itself to a mysterious phenomenon. Not just as portrayed on television and in movies, but maybe partially because of how we are portrayed on television and in movies, we are actually, in some circles, cool. We are hip, or at least, to know us is hip. Want to be thought of as “in”… mention you have a gay friend, roommate, old college buddy you always knew was gay. Want to be happenin‘… say casually, while relaying what you did last night, that you went to dinner with your gay friend and their partner. It’s social clout you can spend, it is. Think it isn’t so? Think being “in” with the gay doesn’t get you anywhere? Think again. Having a gay friend, relative, and/or a close acquaintance, can get you a long way up the hip and happening ladder. Say you watch Ellen or Will and Grace regularly, that you listen to Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, or Elton John… let on that you have heard of, or better yet have been to, a gay club or two and you, my friend, are in “the club”. That group of trendy, with it people, who are cultured, savvy, urban, and living on the cutting edge. Know how to accessorize, and the world is not only your oyster… it’s harvested, cooked, and prepared just the way you like it.

Let me explain. Need decorating tips, help with your wardrobe, a new recipe to try on your arriving company from out of town? Ask your male gay friends. They can help. They know which tie to wear with what shirt. And for that matter, they know which shoes to wear with what skirt. They can whip up a soufflé while simultaneously deciding what couch position provides the best feng shui. Need to know how to build a shop out back, tune your Harley, or what football team is ahead in their division, ask your female gay friends. They will be able to knock out a room remodel while quoting the prices of the best and most effective hiking boots sold at REI.

They key here is, according to our ever-present media, you have to know what you need and then know which gay person can be most helpful to your cause. Shoes? Harley? Plants for the sunroom? The starting line up for the San Diego Chargers? Choose wisely, and the gay can help. In fact, it’s best to have a bevy of gay people in your life. You never know when one will come in handy. If nothing else, you’ll be hip in non-gay circles and in with the newly trendy gay crowd. You’ll have an in. You will no longer be the back woods, unintelligent, uninformed, sad excuse for the regular person you once were. You will be, tah dah, friend of the gay. With the right gay friend, you’ll be a well rounded person. Lead a life that’s more vivid, more interesting, more colorful. No longer afraid to shop, to ride a Harley, to better arrange your furniture. No longer in the dark about what goes into a crème brule, or how many players are actually on a baseball team. You will be better equipped to deal with anything life throws at you. You will have constant comic relief. You will be politically correct, and yet somewhat controversial. All because you, my friend, know how to accessorize.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
12:07 pm
Chin Up

I have this problem. Some wouldn’t think about it in that light, but to me, it’s a problem. I am a bit overweight. And on the surface, that would seem, to most people, to be the problem. But, it’s not. The real issue for me is, with my inner eye, I see myself as thin. It’s true. On the inside, I’m thin and in shape, just as I was 20 years ago at the height of my most in shape period. I can’t seem to realize that I’m not the same smallish, athletic, physically fit person I was then. Because inside, I feel like I am that person. Consequently, I don’t seem to be able to get motivated to work out. Which, at the center of it, is the thing.

It’s a conundrum of sorts. I “know”, some place within myself, that I am overweight. I “know” that the best thing to do is to eat better, work out, drink lots of water. Yadda yadda yadda. I know all of this. And yet, my thin inner me protests. It tells me I am already in shape, I’m already healthy. Why do I need to spend all of that time on the stationary bike, lifting weights, doing strength building exercises? Why do I need to choose the salad sans dressing over the burger with fries? A thin person doesn’t need to worry about all of that. And me… I’m thin. I know it. Thin.

Then it happens. The wake up call. I see a picture of myself and BAM! I can’t avoid it. There they are, staring me in the face. The chins. And, there’s not just one of them, as there should be and is on a thin person, there are two of them. Worse yet, as I hold back the gasp, sometimes there are three… if the angle is not quite right or my head is down. I know it’s me, I see the picture… yes, it’s me. I’m appalled. I’m shocked. I’m horrified. The visual image doesn’t match my inner picture of myself. Where’s the thin me? And who, someone tell me, is this girl with the chins? I can’t get my mind around it. But there it is, in the picture I’m holding in my hand.

If only I could hang on to that image of myself. Keep in touch with the shock of seeing the chins. Spoken of so often now that I almost feel the need to capitalize them as a signal of their “enormous” importance. If only I knew how to translate all of the visual horror into a change of self image. But no, I can’t. I’m horrified one minute, holding the picture, and feeling like the ol’ thin me the next after I put it down. Strange, but true.

I know what needs to happen. I know what I need to correct this terrible disparity. What I need is a brain exchange. A thought swap of sorts. I need to find a thin person who thinks they are too fat and switch mind sets with them. That, it seems, is the answer to my problem. Because just as I know my problem of perceived thinness is getting in my way of weight loss success, I know there are thin people out there whose thoughts of fatness are hindering their struggle to maintain and gain weight. If, somehow, we could switch patterns of thinking, we might, and probably could, both find success. Me as an overweight girl on the path to a thinner me, and them as a person who is too thin on the road to a fuller bodied them. We would both be much healthier. I think it could work.

I know, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important issues to worry about in the world. I know that the state of my reduced me self image should not be compared to world peace, hunger, war, incongruities in the fight for equal rights. And yet one small victory here is big for me. It would mean a reduction in my number of chins. I would see myself as I am now, and act. Which, if one looks at it, is a cause for celebration. Because finally, I might find myself with an inner thin self image that matches the truth of what is. And isn’t that what we are all looking for? An inner truth matching our projection of ourselves into the outer world. Just think… if we had a world where people could truly be themselves, whatever that would mean, what a beautiful world it would be. Self images, far and wide, improved… inner and outer. The thin inner me would rejoice at that. No more inner conflict. No more thinking I’m thin only to find, alas, I am not. No more shock in seeing pictures of myself. I can start… I can… it would just take a strong conversation with myself, again… and a chin up… or two.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005
12:14 pm
Pie and Coffee

Here it is, Tuesday, I’m back at work. How to describe the weekend? I find myself at a loss in this area because I’m emotionally pulled in so many directions. But here I sit, alone in my office during lunch, about to give it a try anyway, as torn as I am.

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful. And it was. The celebration of my grandmother’s life, held on Saturday, October 8, at noon, was simply beautiful. Not just the setting, though it was, and not just the people, though they were as well. No, it was the spirit of it. The mood. There we were, a large room full of people, all thinking and feeling so deeply about her. All honoring her. And honestly, there was joy in it. Sadness, to be sure, but also a feeling of joy and connection. She would’ve loved her day. Children and grandchildren getting up to talk about her, their voices all filled with so much love and respect. Music… sung and played, food… including, of course, chocolate, a slide show… with music, and people laughing about this thing or that thing they remembered her doing or saying. So much love, and so present in the room, the sense of a life so well lived. And I guess, thinking about it sitting here, that’s the thing. She lived her life well. And we, those lucky enough to be related to her, to be present because of her, learned that from her. We have learned how to live our lives well. The whole event so well organized by her children, the slide show so well done by her son. Her husband, our father and grandfather, so well looked after by his children, his grandchildren. So much compassion, so much respect. And there it is… the truth of the matter, and the truth of a life like hers. Even that day, with her physically gone from us, we were more connected because of her. The family bond strengthening… feeling her arms wrapped around the collection of us, hugging us tightly together. As if she was saying to us, I’m still here, holding you all. We all felt it. As we held each other, as we cried, and even as we laughed. I feel it still. I don’t think it will ever go away. Her power so strong, her influence so rich, her love so great.

We spent the rest of that day together, those that could, and the better part of the next. And then Sunday night we went to watch my uncle play music. She would’ve loved that as well. People enjoying his music, some food, some wine or beer or whatever, and again, being together.

Karen and I left for home after Tom was done making music, and half way there, tired from driving so late, we stopped… for pie and coffee. I thought it was fitting, and I know grandma was smiling. She herself a fan of stopping during early morning hours for pie and coffee, getting a break from driving during long road trips, children asleep in the car. I thought to myself, as afterward we got back in the car and continued the drive home, grandma was there with us. And I know that she’s here with me now. As she will always be… during stops for pie and coffee, during those transcendent moments listening to a great piece of music, during a hug, a call, a laugh, the reading of an email from family. She is there. And that, as it always will, gives me a great sense of comfort… and joy.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
12:10 pm
A life… Beautiful

My grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.

I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.

There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.

Monday, October 3rd, 2005
1:37 pm
Three days in San Jose

Just got home from hanging with the in laws. It was a good trip. Karen’s parents seem to have accepted me, and better yet, they really like me. I think it’s nice for her. All the years of not really being able to be herself, and now she can just be. They are obviously happy she is happy, which is really the important thing anyway. We didn’t do much while we were there, other than hang around chatting, but that was nice. Every time I’m with them I like them more.

We did go to a movie one night with her sister, Cathy, and her nephew, Charles. I really like that kid. He’s 16 and sort of quirky, and it’s that great kind of quirky. He’s smart, has a great off beat sense of humor, and he doesn’t feel the need to conform to what’s hip. He’s a kid who absolutely loves movies. Old and new, it doesn’t matter. Plus, he knows about them… technique, directors, cast, etc. He’s passionate about it, and that, in anyone, is very attractive. We saw the movie Serenity. Good movie even if you’ve never seen the tv show. There were a lot of people there who obviously had not just watched the tv show, but have gotten into it so much they dress the part. There are clubs for browncoats. Who knew. Not I, but it was pretty entertaining watching them. It was premiere weekend for this particular film and since there’s such a huge cult following, which I also was unaware of, there was a line, the people in costume as I mentioned before, and pre-show trivia complete with prizes for those who knew obscure tidbits about the characters, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. I did, however, come home with a key chain, thanks to Cathy’s quick grab of a flying key chain after the trivia was over.

Karen’s parents made a full on turkey dinner Saturday night. I guess they figure that they don’t get their kids together very often and since all three were there, it was a time to celebrate. I got the honor of being the forker. When Karen’s dad carves the turkey a person stands there and forks the carved turkey onto the platter. I was told that not everyone gets to be a forker so I was touched he asked me. Standing there, forks at the ready, I felt the pressure to perform and live up to my new post and title. He said I did well, so I might, if I’m lucky, be asked to fork again.

Today I’m lucky enough to be able to hang at home. Relax after traveling. Karen, busy as she is, had to go in to work today. A perk of my job is getting to take off quite a bit of time. I’m fortunate enough to earn comp time on top of my accrued vacation time, so that helps. I slept in today. What a luxury. Sitting here sipping on green tea, still wearing pajamas that I know I won’t change out of, looking outside at the forest and the rain, I think it’s time to head in and see what movie I can find to watch. It’s Monday, and I’m home. How lucky am I?

What ya’all had to say to this point….

(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
Jeeze Girl…I gotta take issue with your latest epistle. Your’e one of my best friends and there is absolutely nothing “with it” or “cool” about me…I’m the old frumpy grumpy guy; the token old fart. Therefore your whole primise is ruined. Sorry about that, but then it’s not the first thing I have ravaged or despoiled. ted

(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
I’m so proud to have a gay friend. Makes me kinda cool. You go girl. But hey the white socks/w black pants have got to go!!!!!

(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
chins

If ones knows TOKENHIPPYGIRL they also know that chins don’t matter. sm

(Anonymous) 3 weeks ago
Tam, you have a way with words that keeps me cracking up…You are very talented, and this note would be fabulous in some magazine somewhere…When are we going to get you published???

(Anonymous) 5 weeks ago
Pie & Coffee

Tam
Thanks for this. I came here to read, once again, the previous piece you wrote (and to send it on to Aunt Elizabeth) and find you have been spinning your magic again. I love these things you write and I know everyone else does too. Thanks again. Love, Syd