Archive for December, 2005

There just aren’t any words.

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I would like to blame pro wrestling. But I don’t know which came first–the calling each other ‘chicken’ or the egging on members of one’s own party to attack. Is politics more like pro wrestling because of that ‘sport’s popularity or is that sport popular because America no longer has any manners?

Allow me to share a paragraph from a fundraising email I received from The Democratic Party.

Over 7,000 Americans stepped forward to fund a campaign designed to show Republican leaders that there will be consequences for continuing their pattern of shamelessly attacking the service of veterans who don’t share their warped view of reality.

I received this email on December 7th. The anniversary of Pearl Harbor. And a good few weeks after the Murtha/Schmidt kerfluffle.

There are some real problems in America. Taxes are too high. The wheels are falling off the Social Security bus. Illegal immigration is grit in the dentures for both parties. With Republicans as the party in power, the Democrats have the excellent opportunity to build their opposition platform. To craft clear ideals about the alternatives they offer, and to make themselves an attractive option to the Undistributed Middle. So they’re spending cash money, public visibility and goodwill on a billboard that reads “Shame On You, Jean Schmidt. Stop attacking veterans. Keep your eye on the ball. We need a real plan for Iraq.”

(How disengenuous. “Stop Attacking….” Even if you view her speech to Murtha as an attack on a veteran, the ad wording makes it appear as though Schmidt is mounting nightly raids against the VFW, not making a single oratorial faux pas on the House Floor. Weeks ago. In pursuit of a plan for Iraq. )

The Schmidt Billboard is just the teapot for this current tempest. The gasps from the dying man called Civility are heard in one single adjective. Warped. Isn’t that a word generally saved for serial killers, assasins and pedophiles? I think it’s awfully discourteous to apply that term to someone who merely disagrees with you.

Maybe I blame Rush Limbaugh. I’ve pulled a straight Republican ticket in every election. If there’s an (R) I don’t agree with, I’ve left them deselected. So Rush should be my guy, right? Except he lost me when he decided to raise the level of political discourse with deragotory nicknames and attacks on little girls. He spawned the likes of Ann Coulter, Michael Savage and countless bloggers who think that the best way to argue an idea is with invective and hyperbole.

Nashville’s own Glen Dean is someone with whom I agree on nearly every issue. Yesterday he asked me why I always seem to disagree with him. I don’t. But I’m getting old. I’ll be 36 on May 23rd, which means I’ve already lived a full Marilyn Monroe complement of years, and I’m no longer part of the In Crowd. I can’t see how the particular style employed on the Right by Glen,etc. and on the Left by egalia,etc. does anyone any good at all. How can you talk through ideas with someone while papering them with derogations? How can you win friends and influence people you belittle?

Do you smell what the Kat is cooking?!

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Sharon Cobb

She has no idea I’m writing this, and would probably beg me not to. But I’m in that quasi-arsey mood that means I’m gonna write it anyway.

Sharon and I agree on almost nothing politically. She’s Jewish. I’m not. She rarely eats meat. I love steak. She tries to keep kosher. I’m a slob who loves cheeseburgers.

But Sharon is my friend. She’s a nice person who means well, even when her methods don’t take the path I would take. She’s had an interesting life that has brought her into contact with more varied people than you could ever imagine. I encouraged her to write some of those stories because they are far and away more interesting than the typical “should we pull out of Iraq” bloviating that the rest of us do. We all have opinions, and that’s what drew many of us into blogging. This whole post is an opinion. But not all of us are willing to take the step of sharing our vulnerable selves with everyone on a daily basis. That’s completely fine, because not everyone feels they should do that.

But when someone does, it is perhaps not cricket to mock them. I know there’s a fine line between disagreement and mocking. I try not to cross it, although I sometimes have and for that I apologize.

When people are sitting around in a bar and arguing over opinions that’s one thing, and that’s what we’ve got in blogland on a daily basis. But when someone is quite obviously crying and you kick them, that’s bullying. It doesn’t say much about the victim, but it says a whole lot about the jerk doing the kicking.

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I have to make something called “heavy hors d’ oeuvres” for our Christmas party this evening. Part of me really wants to dip pebbles in cream cheese, put them on Ritz crackers and scream “heavy enough for you?!”

I am resentful of being a Heavy Hors d’oeuvres person. The Sunday School department may as well prop me up and point “responsible older married couple”. Allow me to explain.

Our Sunday School Department meets in a homeroom for a few minutes and then breaks into several classes. (In all fairness, everyone else calls homeroom “morning assembly”. To me you can’t call it an assembly unless an ex-astronaut comes in to tell everyone not to use drugs. Hasn’t anyone been to middle school?!?) You can choose your class, which means that everyone else chooses the one that I’m not in. Can you blame them, really?!

My class seems to for the most part be filled with people who don’t have kids. And have been married forever. And apparently we drew the short straw, because we are all responsible for these mystical, weighty concoctions. The other otherpeople(‘s mother) get to bring desserts. Desserts are easy. Desserts are a very Kroger-friendly category. You can zoom into the Bakery and grab any old thing. Not so easy are the “this is supposed to be our supper, so make it hearty” snacks that my group has to whip up.

I’m getting my sweet revenge. I’m making Ham Buns. If you’ve never taken the long hard slog of hours to put these things together, allow me to assure you that they are full of ham, butter, cheese and other artery-hating evilness. Tee HEE.

Of course, then i feel guilty, because what the heck is Lydia gonna eat? Maybe I’ll stop at Kroger and get her a soy thing.

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My husband is from Pennsylvania, and the first time he drove me across the state to meet his parents I swear half the road signs were for “Scrotum.” It freaked me out. I guess it’s one of those brain-illusion things, like those French Connection-UK clothes everyone wears.

The actual name of the town is Scotrun, but to this day whenever I see it I still have to think about it for a second or two. Which is why I laughed when I got the email about a new indoor waterpark in Scrotum.

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How do you say good bye to someone who shouldn’t have gone? What do you do when the picture beside the closed casket is more suited to a learner’s permit? What do you tell a parent who is having to bury a child whose loving spirit couldn’t stand up against the tidal flood of drugs in his system?

We sat in the front of the church and stared at the casket. The lid didn’t shut quite plumb, and one carnation in the arrangement on the floor was broken at the head. It was in full bloom, but it faced the floor–snapped dead when it was at its prettiest. If I’d made that up it would sound over the top. Sometimes the world seems to know all on its own how things are. I wondered for an instant if we were on the bride’s side by mistake, and then I remembered. The preacher’s name was Gaia, and that made me smile.

The church was full of children that would irritate me if we were at the mall. I wrote my name in a book that reached me during the final words of the sermon. It said _________, my Boo on the cover. If you’re someone’s boo, how bad must all else be if you need to leave? The book was full of addresses, like it made us all feel better to reassert our belonging someplace. This is where we are. This is where you can find us. We are here.

His father is a salesman more comfortable in front of a group than any other man alive. He might have been president if he hadn’t wanted other things from life. He gave the most important speech of his life. He begged a roomful of weeping kids to not give up the same battle that robbed him of his boy. This more than any other time I hope his audience bought it.

I was talking to Tim about King David on Sunday night, before we even knew about this. I had felt so moved earlier in the day by David’s love for the son who betrayed him. The words David spoke at the news of his hanging son are now etched in my mind more firmly than I thought possible.

My son Absalom, Absalom my son: would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom.

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Aunt B. has some interesting thoughts about Women and Worry. Since I live my life in an almost perpetual state of worry, I’m always halfway between relieved and regretful when I hear of others who are in the same bad way. Tim will exclaim loud and long that I look for things to worry about, but anyone with half a brain knows that isn’t true. Causes for worry present themselves wherever you look. Loved ones are always riding in cars and taking showers. Close friends are always cutting bagels with knives, which is silly when they make those handy guillotine things. Honestly, the world is a fretful place.

And now it’s Christmas, which means that worry is coming in extra-large “can we make it to Indiana and back in one piece” packages, all wrapped in a “will everyone like what I bought them” bow. As if that wasn’t enough, we have to figure out if our churches are open on Decemer 25, and what we will call that day when it gets here.I’m fussed over writer’s block and the attendant hair-pulling that comes with it, so I’ve spent the evening trying to table the myriad causes for worry while I indiscriminately destroy the Iroquois and Romans. (Those bastards are hogging all the luxury resources!)

I’ve got Mannheim Steamroller playing softly in the background to lubricate my Christmas spirit, and the beautiful latin is rapelling down the rockwall of my mood.

Veni, veni Emmanuel,
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio
Privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Funny how right now at the big “yay, Jesus came to Earth” party time, I’m still captive Israel in my mind, mourning in lonely exile here.

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Please excuse the distracted nature of this. I don’t know how well I’m stringing words together tonight, and large parts of me don’t really care. In many ways this has been the best Christmas season we’ve ever had. Both our time and our finances have been less constrained, so we’ve been able to enjoy little things that make big memories. One of our mutual Christmas presents came early, which means we now have fully wireless TiVos. There’s a method to our madness, and as usual that method involves bicycles. Now Tim can watch Mythbusters in the garage while riding his rollers. Theoretically I can also listen to my iTunes through the television, although I’m starting to wonder whether I’ll ever be inclined to do so.

In many other ways this is quite possibly the worst Christmas season we’ve ever had. A boy we’ve known since he was about 7 killed himself this weekend. He was 17. All day I’ve had memories of him over the years, and it doesn’t seem real that he’s actually gone. We weren’t really that close–because what teenage boy wants to hang out with a nerdy old friend of his dad’s? But he was someone who moved in my universe, and his parents are close friends of ours. It’s one of those shocking wounds that hurts everyone in some way, whether through gaping wounds or pinpricks of guilt. I imagine that as bad as all of us feel there is no way we can fathom the great pain that led him to this point. I hope his soul finds peace now.

Oddly enough I got a letter from my mom today (if you knew my mom you’d know how odd this is…) with pictures of my 2 week-old niece. Quite a feeling, to go careening from death to birth like that. Even more interesting how God reminds you of the vagaries of circumstance when you least expect it.

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When I was eight my family booked a room at the local Holiday Inn so we could swim in the Holidome. Indoor pools are a prized commodity in Indiana winter. I was one of the annoying kids whose parents let them sit in the hot tub. I remember a group of adults all fawning over one guy, assaulting him with questions about his life. That guy was Charlie Daniels. That is the most intimate encounter I’ve ever had with a celebrity. Safe to say, my life is NOT Notting Hill (I love that movie!)

On the other hand, Sharon has lived among Them, and is full of interesting tales about her life and friendships with various celebrities. She has a great tribute to Pat Morita today that is worth a read. I wanted to say that she waxes on about Pat Morita, but I’ve been trying to avoid that joke. Apparently unsuccessfully. Come on. It was obvious. It was out there. It had to be said.

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I want to write something, but we’ve had a pillar-to-post weekend, and all the thoughts are swirling. So here there are, in one of my infamous “Larry King” posts. Except I’ve still only had one spouse.

1. To all my friends, relations, solicitors and political parties: I don’t ever check my voice mail. The only way I even know we have a message is if I’m tempted to call someone and I get the stutter dialtone. It’s a bad habit, borne out of years of reading. I do check my email. I do not check my voice mail. Please. If you want me to know about it INSTANTLY, send me an email. If you want me to hear about it in four or five days….voice mail is okay.

2. To the people who translated “Stille Nacht” from German to English: Saying that the Holy Infant is “tender and mild” makes Him sound like a Roast Duck. Bad move. I’ve laughed in three consecutive worship events today because of it. Songwriters in general, please find something else to rhyme with “child”. For that matter, is it just me or does “Away In A Manger” rob Jesus of all His majesty and awe by attempting to turn him into a well-behaved lullabye dolly? I think so. I don’t like this Christmas Carol. I do like the one verse of Adeste Fideles that starts “Yea, Lord, we greet Thee!” I feel so excited! YAY! LORD! It makes me frabjously happy.

3. If you are not at a Thai restaurant, do not get Pad Thai. It is apparently only really good if fixed in an actual Thai restaurant.

4. We ate all three meals today with Patrick And Lydia. We’ve now spent more time on this day with them than with our dogs. But I will rub neither Patrick nor Lydia’s belly. So there.

5. I think I would like to live in Austin, if it came right down to it. Even though I’m “weird in [my] own way”, I fail to see the community of Austin as being too weird for me.

6. Just because I disagree with someone politically it doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I’m not prepared to dislike large chunks of the human race. Unless they have crank teeth. I’m really grossed out by bad teeth. I’ll still try to like the person, but avert my eyes when they speak.

7. I’m officially shouting at the entire world–“Don’t make me seperate you!!!” because I’m bored with the whole “Is-it-Christmas-or-Holidays” fauxtraversy.

8. I love church, especially at Christmastime. But the people carrying the long garland really did look kinda like they were holding a python.

9. Like Aunt B. I need a new bra. My Christmas Bra makes it look like I have 3 boobs. Like that woman in Total Recall–which is still the best Arnold Schwarzanegger movie ever. The Terminator films are weak on subsequent viewings.

10. Don’t complain about how I haven’t posted since yesterday, when you all went a week without posting. Yeah, I finally heard that voice mail.

There. I feel better. Happy Monday! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Froeliche Weinachten! (Hey. I got a C- in German. You now know all the German I know.)

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