June 2008

I listen to NPR a lot. My friend, Nancy, first got me started on it when I’d hear their World Cafe show in her office in the afternoons. They’d play music from around the world, some funny (to us), some bad, some delightful. Then I got hooked on their All Things Considered show. It’s not like news, not depressingly geared toward highlighting the nastiness that people inflict on each other. It’s about interesting things that people do.

So anyway, I listen to it in my car, when I’m not carpooling, and I always hear something interesting. The other night I heard the Tavis Smiley show, and he was interviewing a guy called Deepak Chopra. I’d heard the name before, but really had no clue who he was. At first I was just enjoying his lilting accent (I just love to hear people from India speak) as they talked about the movie Love Guru that was inspired by him. They segued into promoting his new book, Why Is God Laughing?, but then he said some things that just really resonated.

He said that depressed people look at laughing people and say “well if I had a good life like those people, I’d be laughing too.” But he said that it’s really just the opposite. If they were laughing, they’d have a good life. The laughter and the positive attitude draws the good life towards us. He talked about how laughter distinguishes us from animals, how we’re the only creatures who can look at a situation and completely change it by looking for and laughing at the absurdity of it.

We’re the only creatures who can laugh! I think he talked about some other stuff while I was still absorbing the thought of changing a situation by laughing at the absurdity of it, and thinking of examples. Then I heard him talking about exercises in gratitude, how if we think of things that we are grateful for, it’s hard to remain depressed. So the idea is to keep a grateful state of mind, and look for absurdity to enjoy. Sounds good to me! I like to be grateful, and I love absurdity–I just didn’t know it was good for me.

Things for which I’m grateful today:

I’m grateful that I got to look on the beautiful sleeping faces of my daughters this morning. They’ve had a whirlwind of sleepovers this week. I realized when I passed their empty beds how much I missed that early morning glimpse of them in their warm, sweet repose, kissing their faces and feeling my heart swell as they burrow back into their blankets and their dreams.

I’m grateful that we have the means to give our girls a good life, that our worries are more on the order of “are we giving them too much?” than “how can we cover their basic needs?” My heart goes out to those who are losing their homes or never had homes to lose, and who struggle just to keep their children fed.

I’m grateful that my husband is also the father of both of my daughters, and that I never have to deal with custody issues or torn loyalties. I know a lot of people manage good lives with shared custody and a new spouse, but I also know that they go through some pretty hard times to get there. I’m so grateful for David and how he balances my quirks.

I’m grateful for harmonic in-laws. It’s pretty absurd to live across the court from your parents and expect your husband to get along with them. But we do, and he does! Oh sure, he’ll get annoyed over things from time to time, but it’s never anything major. Any time he is into something cool, the first one he runs to share it with is my dad. How rare is THAT? And my in-laws live in the gorgeous redwoods of northern California. I’m so grateful for the opportunities they’ve given us to absorb the beauty there and to experience greener lifestyles than we typically see in Ohio.

I’m grateful for flowers. It’s so miraculous to me that I can take these tiny seeds from a dead flower along the alley at work, let them sit in a baggie all winter, and then put them in the dirt and watch them grow from a hangnail-sized speck into something bigger than my kids in the space of a few months. Well, my zinnias are still not quite knee high at the moment, but they’re getting there, and they’ll be huge and bursting with peach-sized, jewel-toned flowers in another month. I LOVE that about flowers!

As to absurdity for today, well, I think we’ve covered that with worrying over whether we give our kids too much and living across the street from my parents!

How I get blogged down:

  1. Didn’t have the moolah to get something for Dad.
  2. Was going to do a super-awesome blog post to send him that would make him cry for sure.
  3. Slept in (until AFTER TEN!) on Fathers’ Day.
  4. Started the post.
  5. My daughter got up and started her cute Aja-chatter and I couldn’t concentrate.
  6. I saved the few words I’d started with.
  7. I haven’t gotten back on the blog since, because you know, now I’ve got the pressure on myself to do a mega-super-awesome post for my dad to make up for the fact that I didn’t get it done on Fathers’ Day.

Okay, so I need to delete that draft so I can move on and write something new for Dad, even if it’s not on Fathers’ Day. Heck, he’s my dad every day, so I don’t have to restrict writing about him to one arbitrarily Hallmark-designated day.

For now, I’ll just say that the world would be a much better place if everyone had a dad like mine to love and encourage them, to worry about them, to guide them, to provide an eternal safe harbour, to fix stuff for them, to make them laugh. That’s why I’ve always shared my dad around–his well doesn’t seem to ever run dry, and so many people, even those with perfectly good dads of their own, come away from an encounter with my dad feeling happier, feeling like maybe they CAN do it after all, feeling like it’s gonna be all right. Because my dad? He cares.

Our first week of carpooling, which turned out to be four days instead of the three we’d planned, worked out really well after I decided to start driving the four and a half miles to Jody’s house instead of having her pick me up. (I want to ride my bicycle, but my family is totally freaked about how unsafe that road is for bicycles.) Anyway, now it’s starting to spread to our coworkers. Yesterday, I was talking to a guy at work about it, and he said that another guy lived near him, so they started talking, and realized that our lead developer is on their way in to the office too, and they’re setting up a three way carpool! So that takes three cars off the road! See? These painful gas prices are making some positive changes already!

I know that it’s not so easy for a lot of rural people who don’t have such options, especially rural people who were barely scraping by before the price hikes. I hope they can figure something out that doesn’t involve losing their homes, or giving up medicine or food. I know this is going to suck for a while for a lot of people, but I totally have faith in human ingenuity. If the Saudis don’t jump in yet again with some miracle to reduce prices (thereby ensuring a future market for their product) we might actually get some new renewable energy technology out of this crunch.

I’ve read a lot of science fiction. In a lot of authors’ imaginations, humans have to abandon Mother Earth once the damage becomes irreparable, and find a needle in a haystack–another planet that would support our statistically improbable form of life. Reading this kind of stuff makes you appreciate how narrow is the set of circumstances that makes our lives possible, and how stupid it is to mess with the balance our planet maintained so easily before its human infestation started getting out of hand. We really, REALLY have to STOP DAMAGING IT!!! AND find a way to undo the damage we’ve already done. Although, I believe that if we just stop damaging it, Earth will find a way to repair itself. You only have to walk around an abandoned human structure to see how quickly nature takes over. If the Earth were to wake up and decide to get rid of its human infestation right now (see? I could be a science fiction author!), most of the damage we’ve done would barely be detectable after a decade.

So what I’m saying is that all this weird and scary weather we’re having, although it’s stranger than what we’ve encountered in our history, is actually still miraculously within that narrow range of conditions that allows life on this planet to continue. Well, mostly–the tornadoes and cyclones and earthquakes and floods and tidal waves are clearing out swathes of us (the Earth getting rid of its infestation a little at a time?), but so far we haven’t been completely purged. We need to hurry the hell up and become a MUCH less irritating infestation so the Earth won’t find such a purge necessary.

Okay, so I’m being all science fictiony here, but seriously, the range of conditions that we can tolerate is very narrow, and the range of conditions that we find comfortable is even narrower. We really REALLY need to quit messing around and FIX all the things that we’ve done that might destroy it! NOW, PEOPLE! So write to your senators and your representatives and let them know that you don’t support things that hurt the environment–every time you hear about a plan that they have a chance to thwart, write to them again!

And carpool! It’s infectious! 

I’m sitting here listening to Aja announce into the fan all the things her sister can’t call her. Remember that? Laying on the floor in front of one of those big square fans and making all kinds of weird noises to hear how much weirder they sounded chopped up by the fan? I had forgotten. I’d also forgotten the sibling name-calling. “You cannot call me ding dong,” and “You also can’t call me weiner. You also can’t call me wee wee.”

“How ’bout Henry Tinkler?”

“Hairy armpits!”

“Oh, now it’s ON!”


“Hairy butt person!”

“I farted on youuuu! That’s what you get!”

Ah, the seven and eight-year-old wit.

Now they’re singing a song they made up. Wait, did she just say “junk in her trunk??” I’m not even sure I know what that means, but it sounds kinda, umm, not-so-elementary, my dear Watson.

Today will be my first day of carpooling with my friend from work. She’s coming four miles out of her way to get me, so I hope this will work out okay for her. Maybe tomorrow, when it’s not thunderstorming, I’ll ride David’s scooter over to her house in the morning. We’re going for the middle three days of the week, alternating weeks, so we can still schedule other stuff on Mondays and Fridays. I hope this works out for both of us. On non-driving weeks, we should be able to get by on $20 worth of gas instead of $50.

Gas prices suck, but I can’t help but think that it’s a good thing–it will provide incentive for some bright engineering types to go for that patent on whatever mysterious gizmo they’ve worked out that will save the day. I think these gas prices have just provided a mother for the invention. Now gestate, baby!

Note to self: Unless your goal is to provide your eight-year-old with a healthy dose of morning hilarity, it is not advisable to slather your poor dried-up feet with lotion immediately prior to slipping on your wedge-heeled sandals. Yes, it is important to hydrate those tootsies so that they won’t look nasty in said sandals, but let’s just do that at bed time from now on, ‘kay?

Why is this inadvisable exactly? Well, self, just so you won’t forget, those lovely wedge heels that look kind of dressy but are quite comfy and slip on quickly and support your foot with nary a wobble, when slipped onto a well-lubricated foot become a luge through which said well-lubed tootsie slips, with the apparent goal of wearing it around the ankle. Now try walking. Mm hmm.

You’re welcome, Sierra. I’m glad you had so much fun seeing mommy off to work this morning.

I’m officially pissed. I fell and hurt my ankle a couple of weeks ago, and now, even though it feels fine to walk on it, it hurts like a sumbitch when I try to swim. And the water temp is up to 84! EIGHTY-FOUR! It’s 90 degrees out and I wanna go swimmin! Yeah, I’m spoiled if that’s all I can come up with to bitch about.

Okay, I’m thankful that we HAVE a pool, and that I have a cabana boy to go with it, and that we have two little girls who can swim like fishies, and that it’s not cold out, and that the flowers are blooming, and that we don’t have bombs going off over our heads, and that we have food to eat and clothes to wear and a house and all. But I still wanna go swimmin!

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