Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R.I.P. Molly (1944-2007)

RIP Molly (1944-2007)

One of my heroes died today and my heart broke wide open. When I heard that Molly Ivins had lost her fight with breast cancer, I was in the car on the way to the grocery store, and I immediately started crying. The tears haven't stopped fully since, simmering below the surface, the lump in my throat making it hard to type even now.

I had the pleasure of seeing her once, when she did an appearance with Al Franken here in Seattle in September 2003. She was warm and funny, and mad as hell about what was happening in this country. And she was a fellow supporter of Howard Dean's presidential bid, which made me love her all the more.

She was one-of-a-kind, an amazing, inspirational writer, unabashedly, ruthlessly liberal, and she mercilessly gave the Republicans and the Bush administration in particular exactly the kind of hell they deserved. I'm pretty sure Shrub and Rove and that evil fuck Cheney are raising a glass tonight in thanks that she's gone.

I'm just so sad and angry. If you ever needed proof that life isn't remotely fair, just ponder that we lost Molly's bright light to fucking cancer while the waste of skin in the White House still walks blindly and pathetically among us, doing more damage to our country every day. How utterly ridiculous that she, of all people, will never get to celebrate the end of our long national nightmare when it finally, finally comes (719 days, by my count).

In her final column (god, how it hurts to type that), Molly implores us to get get the hell up and take some action to stop this horrific futile war... to refuse to allow Bush to send more of our men and women to die in his Iraq debacle:
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

I've felt so defeated and helpless since November 2004, it's been hard to get my heart back into the process. Even taking back Congress, as much as it pleased me, didn't move me to action. I think back to 2003, how alive and hopeful I felt as Dean's campaign caught fire, as I imagined the possibilities and threw myself utterly and completely behind his candidacy... and I compare it the lukewarm emptiness I feel now when I look at the pool of Democratic candidates.

But in your memory Molly, I will try. I'll try to find some way to act, to make my voice heard as the chorus of NO MORE! grows. I'll try to find some way to re-ignite the spark and the hope. I'll keep my eyes open for the candidate with some Elvis in him, because as you oh-so-preciently predicted last time around, "You can't win without Elvis," and I'll throw my lot in and write and call and caucus and VOTE, speak truth to power, and do what I can to fix what's been so badly broken.

Good-bye, Molly Ivins, hellraiser extraordinaire. We miss you already.

Today's Moment of Duh

The lead headline on my news portal this morning made me shake my head in wonder:

U.S. May Have Botched Training of Iraqis

WASHINGTON (AP) - Training the police is as important to stabilizing Iraq as building an effective army there, but the United States has botched the job by assigning the wrong agencies to the task, two members of the Iraq Study Group said Wednesday.

"The police training system has not gone well," said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the bipartisan commission.

You think?

I'm just waiting for tomorrow's headline, Scientists Confirm: World Definitely Round.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WASL meets Pikachu, blood all over

In April, the boy will be taking the reading and math sections of the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) for the first time. Starting last week, as a way of helping the students know what kinds of questions to expect, his teacher started sending home practice questions as part of their weekly homework.

And now, apparently, I am having test anxiety on his behalf.

I find this strange because I was one of those freaky kids who enjoyed taking the state standardized tests. I've always tested well, and I loved the shuffling around of the routine during testing week. And as for the kid, he did fine on the practice sheet, and doesn't seem to be at all uptight about the test - what's to worry?

Tell that to my subconscious which treated me to a strange little dream in which Nathan, Sophie and I had to take the test, all together in the same room. But it wasn't your traditional reading and math test, oh no. The questions were these very complex story problems, and the very first one was not only testing math skills, but Pokemon knowledge (oh yes, boy is very much back into Pokemon these days and it's apparently bleeding into my life as well). There were 65 cards in the problem, and I had to figure out which one was the most powerful, based on hit points.

Of course, being in the same room as the kids was distracting me from the task at hand, so in addition to being flummoxed by the subject matter, I was also having a really hard time even understanding what I was being asked to do.

And the time limit was fast approaching...


Really. Aren't there other things my dreaming mind could better spend its time on?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Meme Time

Nabbed from Lil' Miss Sunshine because it's such a cool one. No tags, but if you want to, grab it and go; let me know and I'll link back to you.

The iPod (because really, what else is there?) Shuffle

The Rules:
1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to the question

What does next year have in store for me?
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Northwest Boychoir
(Eh? What was that?)

What's my love life like?
Let Him Fly - Patty Griffin
(Considering I have no interest in single parenthood, this isn't likely. He can fly right into the kitchen and make me some pie!)

What do I say when life gets hard?
Goodbye - Mark Erelli
(Bwahahahahah! This is so NOT me! Or is it? EEEK!)

What do you think of on waking up?
Be-In - Hair
(Hare Krishna, indeed.)

What song will I dance to at my wedding?
Everyone's Gone To The Moon - Sara Hickman
(Ah - nice slow dreamy song to dance to. But I honestly don't plan to get married again... see # 2)

What do you want as a career?
There's No Crying In Baseball - Tom Hanks
(Okay, this isn't exactly a song, more a quick sound clip. Yet it came up and it's completely accurate. My dream career would involve baseball. So I'm leavin' it.)

Your favourite saying?
The Other Man - Sonia
(I don't think that this is a saying. These days I prefer "Godspeed, little doodle!")

Favourite place?
Big Noise - Eddie From Ohio
(Only if the big noise is from the hot water filling my bath tub.)

What do you think of your parents?
Dreaming of the Queen - Pet Shop Boys
(My mom, the Queen? She'd like that, I'm sure. *grin*)

What's your Pornstar name?
Hold Me Tonight - Red Grammer
(Oh baby!)

Where would you go on a first date?
Shower The People - James Taylor
(Do I know how to have fun or *what*? I'm not sure how the people would feel though. Probably depends on what I'm showering them with.)

Drug of choice?
Younger Than Spring - Dave Matheson
(Yes, it would likely make me feel this way.)

Describe yourself
A Time For Love - Megon McDonough
(I can go with this. I put a pretty big emphasis on the love thing... family, friends, mankind... most everyone except dubya.)

What is the thing i like doing most?
The Letter - Year With Frog and Toad
(Another good one. I spent a lot of time this week sending catch up e-mails to friends, new and old.)

What is my state of mind like at the moment?
I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred - The Moody Blues
(Eerie. I have been thinking about aging, and how much time has passed in my life... and how much I might have left... and what the hell I want to do with it. And I've even been moodily blue today.)

How will I die?
Ballad of the Dime Store Greaser and the Blonde Mona Lisa - Blue Rodeo
(Greasy, blonde, and smiling enigmatically.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Take the Weather with You

It is 5 am. I get up this early a couple of days/week to do the early morning lap swim, but today I sit here, writing, instead. Why?

SNOW. Again. Coming down pretty steadily right now, and Seattle public has already cancelled classes for the day. This is day #6 the kids have missed due to weather, one of them due to the Windpocalypse when millions had no electricity, but the rest because of snowy and icy streets. They'll need to make most, if not all, of them up so they'll be in school until at least June 27th. They are, as you can imagine, NOT amused.

Now, the forecast calls for warming today, so all of this is predicted to turn into rain and wet later. And then... wait for it... REFREEZE overnight. So the chances that I'll be sitting here bitching again tomorrow morning are not insignificant.

I am comletely done with this. I want my drizzle back. I want to see some COLOR again - the green of the grass and evergreens and rosemary bushes. I want the snow to be something that I drive to, and enjoy, rather than something I have to deal with on a daily basis. I am just DONE.

Sunday, January 07, 2007



One last bow at 11 a.m., a roomful of clapping yogis and yoginis, chocolate treats (dark and bitter) for everyone but me, and my weeklong yoga intensive came to an end.

Though I've been a yoga student for 9 years, this was my first experience with such a focused regular practice. My normal routine is one class per week with very occasional home work when the mood hits and I have some time, or when I want to get the kids doing something physical that doesn't involve them chasing each other or jumping on the furniture.

So committing to coming to the mat for an hour and a half every day for a week was a big thing for me. And I have to say that it was - no exaggeration - transformative. I think of myself differently today than I did a week ago. I'm stronger, more limber, more centered and comfortable in my body. I pushed through the soreness and fatigue and reached some brief moments of both physical and mental clarity, where the alignment was there and I had no thought in my head other than now, and no sounds other than the in-and-out of my breath.

And I want more of it. I want it every day, maybe not for a full hour and a half, but at least for the space of a half-dozen sun salutations, for the minute or two of a perfectly balanced headstand.

Last spring I participated in a weekend workshop led by Anusara founder John Friend (and I will do so again in just a few weeks) and the feeling at the end of that weekend was similar, though the practice itself was not as deeply ingrained after only 3 days. It's a feeling I've had just a few times in my life, as if I'm hearing an audible click when I encounter someone that I'm meant to meet or something that I'm meant to do.

This practice is part of my path. I knew it already, but now I know it.

So beginning tomorrow I renew my commitment to give some part of every day to the mat. I'll temper it with enough generosity to myself to be forgiving on those days I'm just not able to make it happen. And I'll see where it leads.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Project 365

Inspired by this article, I've decided to try taking and posting a photo every day this year. You'll see them show up in the right column - click on the image to go to the full-sized version on flickr with a description of what you're seeing.

I think it's going to be a cool way to document the year. I know I won't be able to blog every day, but hopefully I'll be able to at least take a quick snapshot. Stay tuned, and if you feel so inspired, give it a try yourself and give a shout out in the comments.

Monday, January 01, 2007

In With the New

I'm an Irish woman
I love weddings and funerals
beginnings and endings
the front and the back...

As I started to write this "Welcome to 2007" post, these lines from Eddie From Ohio's "Baltimore" ran through my head, and I realized how very true it is. I'm a sucker for the thrill and excitement of the new, the blank slate, the fresh start. And I relish the satisfaction of the last lap, the submitted article, the final to-do item crossed off the list. It's just that messy and difficult in-between stuff, the... uh... "work" or "living" I guess you might call it, that I sometimes have trouble with.

Which brings me to my intentions for this brand-spankin' new year, designed to help guide me when I get lost in the inevitable muddle of the 364 days ahead until the next chance to wipe the slate clean. In no particular order, I intend to:

1. Cultivate generosity. I don't necessarily mean this to be in a financial sense, although that can certainly be part of it. But more than that, a generosity of spirit - kindness in thought and action, less blaming, less judging. More reaching out and offering whatever it is I have to offer, whatever it is that others need - whether friends, family, or strangers.

2. Get in better shape. A perennial favourite, certainly, but with a little more urgency as another milestone - the 20th anniversary of my high school graduation - approaches. Yes, it's silly. I don't even know if I'd go to a reunion, to be honest. But hey - I'll take any excuse to kick my butt into gear. I'm doing pretty well on this, actually, as I'll continue with my 2x/week swimming, regular yoga, and at least for the next couple of months quite a bit of skiing.

3. Write what I want to write. Not just more frequent blogging, although yes that too, but planning some essays and working on them and maybe even trying to get them published. I'm finding that since I'm actually making most of my income... um, all of my income... by writing now, I'm losing the enthusiasm for doing work that I won't necessarily get paid for. It makes sense when you think about it, but it doesn't mean I want it to be that way. So I will try to rediscover writing just for the hell of it, because it pleases me.

4. Separate worktime and playtime. I have gotten VERY bad about this one, and as I've been reflecting on what I want to change in the coming year, I keep coming back to the fact that I feel like I'm always on the clock, at least emotionally. Since I've moved to mostly telecommuting, I tend to dawdle during the day and make up for that dawdling by working in the evening. I want to stop this, at least for the most part. It will mean being more disciplined, setting daily mini-goals, and sticking to them. But I know that if I can do it, it opens up some ease and true relaxation time.

5. Make progress on at least one of the following: playing on a softball team, joining a chorus, taking a beading class, organizing our block, volunteering with Seattle 826.

6. Make our home more beautiful. In both big and little ways, I want to work on our space. Among the projects that I'd like to accomplish this year (with Stephen's help, of course): basement remodel, caulk and paint the baseboards and all trim, finishing touches on kids space upstairs, new curtains in living and dining rooms, a sideboard for the dining room, print and frame some more recent photos, paint the front steps and stoop, landscaping back and front, new backyard fence, comfortable and functional patio furniture.

Whew. Lots there, all good. May it be so.