Monday, January 24, 2005

Fear Me

... for I have completed The Silmarilion. In doing so, I have certainly crossed a geek line somewhere as I now know more about the history of Middle Earth and the Elves and Númenóreans than is probably healthy for a 35-year-old woman to want to know. And now it's time to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings again with that background knowledge in hand.

Of course, even in fiction there are lessons to be learned, if only we'd not be so thick and try to learn them. I did a mental double-take when reading this passage:

Nonetheless for long is seemed to the Númenóreans that they prospered, and if they were not increased in happiness, yet they grew more strong, and their rich men ever richer. For with the aid and counsel of Sauron they multiplied their possessions, and they devised engines, and they built ever greater ships. And they sailed now with power and armoury to Middle-earth, and they came no longer as bringers of gifts, nor even as rulers, but as fierce men of war. And they hunted the men of Middle-earth and took their goods and enslaved them, and many they slew cruelly upon their altars. For they built in their fortresses temples and great tombs in those days; and men feared them, and the memory of the kindly kings of the ancient days faded from the world and was darkened by many a tale of dread.

Sound familiar?

Friday, January 21, 2005

My Fine Ass, Reporting for Duty

So yeah. Yesterday was a bad one. And even as I posted, I wondered how I could follow that one with anything light or hopeful or irreverant EVER AGAIN. But today is a new day, the first of 1460, and living in that dark space for too long isn't going to do me or anyone else a damn bit of good.

I'm becoming quite the fangrrl of Mark Morford, but I just can't help it. His column today said exactly what I needed to hear. I'll share some here with you, but really - GO READ IT.


Never think you have all the answers. But just know that you know how to ask the right kind of questions.

Which is to say, it's all about validation. Of truth. Of your truth. Of what you know to be true of progressive kaleidoscopic open-thighed human consciousness, and how radically and beautifully that belief differs from the small-minded black/white pseudo-Christian BushCo truth.

And in fact, I would argue that this kind of regular, daily validation is mandatory right now, that as far as Bush goes, living well -- living your beliefs to their utmost and allowing them full, raw manifestation, sacred or profane, luminous or pointed, naked or slathered over in karmic whipped cream -- is the best revenge, is by far the best thing you can do to counter the seemingly interminable BushCo onslaught.

So go ahead, skip the dour headlines. Forget to read the newspaper for a while. Refocus your intent and screw the sneering BushCo pomp and ignore the conservative flying monkeys who've stormed the castle and have announced there will be no good or progressive or healthy or spiritually radiant news for the next four years.

Know that this is not you. Know that you do not have to kowtow and you do not have to succumb and you do not have to bury your head and merely endure. Know that you have this one humble and luminous choice, always and always and every single day: no matter if it's dark energy or light, low vibration or high, raw intimate self-defined sensual divinity or dumbed-down numbed-out force-fed conservative sanctimony, you can either trust that truth and follow your own hot moral compass, or allow it to be stained and warped and doused in fear and led wide, wide astray. It's not about them. It's about you. Make your choice now. Grip it like a baseball bat.

Then, the good news. No longer will you have to ask how to survive. No longer will you ask how you can possibly endure the next four miserable, homophobic, warmongering, Earth-bashing years without daily weeping and clenching and rending of karmic flesh.

That truth of yours won't just set you free; it will lay you open and feed the universe and allow you to laugh at the mad circus of it all, ultimately morphing that sad resigned news-fatigue nausea back into outrage and ire and healthy intellectual fire. And you will, by default and almost automatically, get your fine ass back in the game.


Through some twist of fate, I was born into a life that has been blessed with comfort and ease. I don't struggle simply to survive, I haven't lost those I love to a brutal war. I am very aware that my daily concerns are first-world, and I am thankful for that. There's no shame in living the life I'm living. The comforts and the trivialities, the joy and laughter... isn't that what I wish for everyone - to be at the self-actualization level of Maslow's hierarchy? To have the luxury of high-speed internet and a blog to post one's musings?

But with that attainment I feel a fundamental responsibility to recognize not only that most others don't have such ease, but also that my comfort comes, in some part, at their expense. And then follows the need to do my part to change that - to be willing to give up some of what I have so that others can have too. Yeah, I guess at heart I'm a big ole socialist. Big surprise.

Awareness and action. It's not THE answer, but it's an answer. And a right good one.

So there it is. With regards to what I post here, it will certainly bounce around, covering the wide range between deadly serious and stupidly trivial - maybe even both on the same day. And that's okay. Life is like that.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

As the Second Reign Begins...

...this is what the United States has become. This is what we stand for now. Doesn't it make you proud?

New York Times: Iraqi Orphan watches as parents shot by U.S. Forces

If you have children, think - just for a moment - about them in that situation. There. Feel that roiling in the pit of your stomach? The tightness in your chest? Makes it hard to breathe, doesn't it?

The blood on that little girl is on all our hands. We, as a country, have let this happen - we continue to let it happen every day. Why aren't we sitting in the streets refusing to participate? Why aren't we demanding that those in charge be held accountable for all of the senseless death? How can we live with ourselves, knowing that these things - and worse - are done in our names?

I don't have any answers. I live my comfortable life in my comfortable house in my comfortable city. My kids are safe and happy and cared for and probably will never have to deal with seeing their father and me shot in front of them. I feel helpless and despairing and alienated from my own country... but! The rent needs to be paid and there are two episodes of Sex And The City waiting for me on TiVo and I'm unfullfilled in my career and I want to lose 10 pounds and I'm not sure what to make for dinner tonight and I want an iPod Shuffle and when will I find the time to go skiing? Priorities!

What will it take to get me - to get all of us who feel the same way to break out of our comfortable STUPID lives and DO something?

I don't have any answers. Just the roiling stomach and the shortness of breath and the shame and the dark dark fear.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What I Really Meant To Say...

Damn that Mark Morford. He says what I mean so much more eloquently than I ever do. Though I think he probably got his inspiration for today's column from my blog posting last night - you think?

God Does Not Cause Tsunamis

By the way... while you're there read through as many of his columns as you can. Then, when you run out of time, bookmark the link and come back and read some more. He's so very good. At the very least, you must read Worship My Radiant iPod. When people ask my what makes it so much better than any other MP3 player on the market, I don't even try anymore. I just point them there.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Seems It Never Rains in Southern California

... except when I have a trip to LA planned. I'm really hoping that is correct and this weekend will bring sun and a comfortable 67 degrees - I think I deserve it what with suffering through the cold and snow we've had these past weeks in Seattle. I'm going down to have a nice visit with Jer... I think it will be one of the longest times that we've had to just hang together in many a year. Yay for old friends!

And although she won't be able to read it for probably a couple more days, here's a shout out to Ms A who is currently stranded in Carpinteria, CA. She's 20 minutes from home, but all roads leading there are closed due to the rain and mudslides in Ventura county. Thankfully she's safe and in good spirits (though understandably annoyed), and has her sweetie minding the homestead waiting for her return.

Nature has not been particularly kind to us humans of late, has she? Not that we should expect her to be... we certainly don't take very good care of her either. I have to admit that in addition to the horror I feel in the face of the the sadness and death caused by the tsunami and the mudslides, I also feel great awe and fascination at the strength and brutality of the elements. I look at images and watch the videos again and again, trying to wrap my brain around how big those forces are... and how small and insignificant we human creatures are in comparison.

It is a harsh reminder that as much as we think we have a handle on nature, as much as we think we can control it, we are fooling ourselves. We try to measure it, to predict it, to quantify it. We build our homes as close to its edges as we can, thinking that we're entitled to the view.

And all it takes is a moment - a shifting of the plates, a deluge from the heavens, a swirling of the winds. A wall of water or of earth bearing down so quickly that there's nowhere to run. One moment, and despite our knowledge, our sense of superiority, our technology - we are as vulnerable as we were thousands of years ago.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Sunrise, Sunset

My kids are growing up. In some ways this is the most unsurprising thing in the world. I mean - kids grow, right? You feed them, water them, give them a multivitamin daily and voila! It's like plants, except that in this house plants rarely survive a fortnight and we've kept children going for nearly seven years now.

But then there are what seem like these monumental leaps and you find yourself wondering... how did that happen? For instance, tonight Sophie beat me at checkers - really beat me. The last time I played with her, maybe just before Christmas, she also won, but it was because I coached her to it, letting her try out different moves to see their consequences, walking into a few double-jumps just to see her face light up when she made them.

But tonight it became clear quite early on that things were different. She made her moves confidently and mercilessly took advantage of my mistakes. She was taking no prisoners, and by the time I adjusted my strategy from motherly support to self-preservation, it was too late. I tried to win and she kicked my ass, fair and square. She then went on to destroy Nathan, and I have no doubt that she would have taken Stephen down too, had he not been conveniently making dinner.

Then it was Nathan's turn. My eldest has recently taken to calling me 'Kristina' about as often as he calls me mom. I'm sure that when we're out together in public, those who don't know us think I'm the nanny or the step-mom, or maybe if they're generous, the older sister (Chya. Right.). It actually amuses me quite a bit, having my son address me by my first name. To this day, I'd lay money that I've ever called my mom by her first name - my mind's tongue trips over just thinking it.

Anyway, his game of choice was chess. We set up the board and he moved first ("white always moves first, mom"). I then made my first move and was promptly informed that my strategy was subpar. This was no surprise to me - I'm definitely a dilettante at the game, I know how the pieces move and that's about it. Nathan, on the other hand, is in his second year of chess club and has apparently been paying attention.

My strategy didn't get much better. I was on the defensive for most of the game, and though I ended up winning it was mostly by luck - in fact, I had him checkmated and didn't realize it at first. So while I achieved a narrow victory, it clued me in to the fact that I either need to do some reading or my days of chess supremacy (against a six-year-old boy) are definitely numbered.

So what started out as what I'd call "Let's kill some time before dinner," and the kids would call "Mom, stop murdering those guitar chords and come play with us," ended up as one of those before/after moments. Before was a time when I called the shots and knew with reasonable certainty who the winner would be. And after... well after is when the real fun begins.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Get Yer Potters Here!

Turn up your volume. Go ahead. Its worth it.

Almost a year ago I linked to the original. I watched it again, and it makes me laugh just as much now. I'm such a dork. Be a dork with me. Come on. You know you want to!

Dinnertime Conversation

Nathan: Mom, what's your first name?

Me: Kristina.

Nathan: What colour is the sky today?

Me: Blue!

Nathan: What's the opposite of down?

Me: Up.

Nathan: Kristina. Blue. Up. Get it?!?! Kristina blew up!

Much laughter ensued, followed by...

Sophie: Knock-knock.

Me: Who's there?

Sophie: Panther.

Me: Panther who?

Sophie: Panther no panth, I'm going thwimming!

More uproarious laughter.

Now, I'm the first to admit those are both pretty good, especially from two kids who get as much pleasure as they do from farting loudly. So the first time, they were great. Even the second time, when they told Stephen, they made me chuckle. Now I have heard both of those jokes 16 times and counting. They just keep switching back and forth. Is it any wonder other species eat their young?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Baby

Usually I don't have much use for or interest in Catholicism. I know - shocking, isn't it? But in this case, I'll make an exception. This offering from The Lord is so many shades of wrong... yet so very right, don'tcha think?

April. What a beautiful month.


It's cold. Very cold.
Very very very cold.
Cold cold cold cold cold.

Wow. When you write cold that many times, it starts to look like nonsense. I spelled it right, didn't I?

But really. This is ridiculous. If I wanted 32 degrees, I'd still be living in the midwest. Seattle in the winter is supposed to be rainy and temperate, not clear and frigid. Yes, yes - I know that friends back east will tell me to suck on it, since they just endured temperatures hovering around zero (without the windchill) and lots of snow. Hrmph. The only way I will feel at all consoled is if we get some snow days out of it. Until then I reserve the right to complain bitterly.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Paving the road to hell

Today I've been thinking about the year ahead and the things I'd like to accomplish. I won't call them resolutions because like so many others I'm just not that good at maintaining resolve. Instead, I'm calling them intentions. This is what I've come up with so far, in no particular order.

  1. Continue the switch to organic foods. We do a decent job of it already, but we could do better with a little advanced planning. This includes buying more local produce - so the corollary is that once the U. District Farmer's Market starts up again, I want to try to make it weekly and buy all our stuff there while it's in season.

  2. Get in shape. I know, I know. How cliche does it get? But I've indulged far too much over the last several months and I'd like my clothes to fit better. Plus, I'm SO out of shape that the laughing I did yesterday is still with me today in the form of seriously sore abs. So sad.

  3. Re-institute the practice of having at least one night per month where we have dinner guests. More would be nice, but once/month is a good starting point. We did this for quite a while, until I started massage school, and it was great. We've just not gotten back into the habit and now is as good a time as any.

  4. Pick up the guitar daily, even if just for a few minutes, and practice. Sophie got a kid-sized guitar for Christmas and it has inspired me to pull mine out and even to find some of my music books. I would like to get to the point where I'm able to play a reasonable number of chords and make the changes smoothly enough so that we could have some fun sing-a-longs rather than forcing the family to listen to

    <strum> Where have all the... long pause...
    <strum> flowers gone... long pause...
    <strum> long time... long pause...
    <strum> passing...

  5. Keep a list of all the books I read. I don't know why I've never done this, or why I even want to. But I do, so I will.

  6. Blog more frequently. Nuff said.

  7. Get something published under my own name (ghostwriting doesn't count) that I get paid for, even if it's a pittance.

So there it is. Out there in the Universe for all to see. Next time you e-mail, feel free ask about one of 'em. It'll keep me honest.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

And honestly what I want to add with every bit of snark I can muster is ... "and good fucking riddance to the old." How easy it would be to write 2004 off entirely as one of the worst ever. Globally and politically it really just sucked like the biggest of sucky things.

But you know what? As this new year begins it's a good time for me to remember that every moment I have in this incarnation is a gift. The sudden and devastating loss of life wreaked by the southeast Asian tsunami reinforces that, highlighting that I wake up every morning having only that moment of waking, and then if I'm lucky the next and the next and the next. Hopefully, there will be a very long line of nexts. But there are no guarantees, nothing that promises that a beautiful sunny day won't end in tragedy, the final next realized.

So instead of mourning the past or wishing for a better future, I spent this New Year's Day living in the now, enjoying my family, and laughing so hard with friends that tears ran down my face and my stomach is sore. And I spent it being thankful for my family and friends, for the fact that I have a home and food and people who love me. And for my iPod. And George Clooney.

Not a bad way to spend a few nexts, eh?