Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear Friend I Last Saw More Than 20 Years Ago Who Has So Kindly Continued To Include Me As Part of Your Yearly Christmas Form Letter,

I hope this Christmas finds your vision 20/20 and your faculties sound.  It has been kind of you to include me among the family and friends you keep in touch with each Christmas.  I was surprised to look at your picture this year and find your hair has grayed and your children are both about the age we were when we first met.  To be honest, perhaps I would have noticed years ago, had I not been throwing your card, unread, into my recycling bin for the last five years.  I could claim I didn’t realize it was intended for me, as it is addressed to my married name and I reclaimed my maiden name nine years ago when I got a divorce.  At the time, I informed you of my update in name and circumstance in my handwritten note at the bottom of the my handmade card I sent to my Christmas card list.  
Over the next five years, I continued to receive mail for a woman I have never been - you actually are sending it to a woman with my ex-husband’s last name, which I never actually took.  When I was married, my name was my maiden name combined with my husband’s name, hyphenated.  Each year I tried to find a new and creative way to update your address list by highlighting my last name, writing it in bold, or surrounding it with arrows.  Finally I was forced to conclude that you weren’t reading my cards.  That is why I stopped sending them several years back.  
I’ve forgotten, did your husband work for the US Postal Service?  You seem to have a decided interest in keeping them busy at this time of year.  
It is only this year, filled with the spirit of “WTH it’s Christmas,” when I opened your card and saw your smiling, innocent faces that it occurred to me - perhaps these letters have been intended for my ex-husband and his new wife?  I’m sorry I never thought to forward their address to you.  How thoughtless of me.  But then, the included Hallmark card always has my name, just my name.  Hmmm it is a puzzle.  
I was glad to hear the year has been kind to you and you have been busy, that your son graduated at the top of his class and your daughter is getting married.  I’m glad your husband has remained in good health.  
Until next year, 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Lately I've been talking a lot about curse words and insults.  Not actually using them, just talking about them.  Really, who out there who appreciates lovemaking and the sexual act, hasn't wondered why we insist on using the word "fu@k" in such an abusive way?  Why isn't "Fu@k You" the equivalent of "Have a Nice Day?"  The thought really come to a head when a friend told me his name translated as "douche bag" in The Urban Dictionary.  While one part of my mind was wondering why men insist on creating disagreeable insults based on a woman's vagina when such a large percentage of them would like nothing better than to be in a woman's vagina, the other part was thinking:  "douche:  something inserted into a woman's vagina that makes her feel good afterwards."  Hmmmm, really should that be that insulting?  Granted, it also brings to mind the notion that perhaps the lady in question's vagina needed a douching, which may be at the heart of the insult.

Really even the curse words that are about something unpleasant, like say "$hit" don't bring to mind the sheer intensity of discomfort as say "shart" would.  ("Shart" the equivalent of vurp, which is a burp with a bit of vomit.  A shart is a fart with a bit of $hit.)  $hit can be in many forms, dry, damp, smelly, in the toilet bowl, from a different species even.  But calling a person a shart instead of a piece of $hit, well you summon up the inconvenience, the embarrassment.  Now you have called someone something with grit.  Something that means something.

When thinking this way, embellishment is important.  Calling someone a booger or even a green booger, lacks the intensity of you "sinus infection nuclear green booger."  But then you run the risk of using too many words.  Insults or curse words that have a person walking away before you finish uttering them are absolutely useless, as would be having to repeat them because the recipient didn't hear the whole sentence.  The use of the words "wipe" or "smear" should be considered because, after all, wipe or smear in the context of bodily fluid or discharge is never a good thing.  Discharge itself is not a good thing and is a handy noun for your vocabulary.

So the next time you feel the need to really tell someone how you feel, may I propose some of the following:  (In most cases, the word "you" proceeding the phrase is assumed.)

premature ejaculation stain
pus leakage
oozing sore
infected knob end (infected anything is good, oozing infected is better)
broken stringed tampon
tea toned jock strap

Well, I'm sure you get the idea.   Go out and creatively use some of your own.   And try to stop using the word "c*nt."  It disturbs women and .....  really do I have to remind you again?

The vagina is your friend.  Most of you out there either have one, want to have one, or want to be in one.

'nuff said.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

As If Underwater: No. 2

As If Underwater: No. 2: I sit in my parents’ living room. It’s hot and it’s stuffy. Anyone else in the room is asleep. My only company left is “Sherlock Holmes a...

Monday, November 14, 2011

As If Underwater: Moments With My Father

I have begun working on a tentative new body of work based on my experiences caring for my father, who had a stroke a little more than a year ago. The entries, persistent little voices in my head who seem to want to be written, whisper quietly, haltingly. At first I wasn't sure what to do with them. Am I writing a memoir? Am I writing a "how to" guide? Am I simply stumbling through experience, grasping at moments like pebbles along my way? Either way, my experiences 10 years or so back sharing my feelings about getting a divorce, have taught me that sometimes simply sharing your own voice, even if it is simply saying "this is hard," can be a great comfort for others going through the same thing. I can hope for no better for this blog than to accomplish that same result.

As If Underwater: No. 1: There are human experiences that can't be written. You are sitting next to a huge koi pond with a fountain. That noise, not quite "babblin...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Open Letter of Apology to My Writing Group

I'm doing the best I can . .. . but the wrong muse is calling . .. .lol.

Slide show of a photo project a very long time in the dreaming and just two days in the making.

Personal Photo Project

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"The Red Means"

Yesterday I had the blues.  Actually I was descending towards what Truman Capote's character, Holly Golightly, would call "the red means."  Why?  Too much negative self introspection?  Absolutely.  Too much reminiscing over the sadder moments of my life?  Can I get an amen to that?  But mostly I had one of those moments where, like that sharp pain you get under your ribcage from too much exertion, I knew I had missed out.   To be fair my mood had already darkened before I listened to one of my dearest friends in the world convey knowledge he gained from having a daughter and I was introduced to the notion of yet another thing I missed out on by not having children.

Even as I actively pursued "not having children" - because while the notion courted me, I found merit and actively followed that path - I knew I would live a different life from many people.  I knew I could never claim the immortality of a healthy, vibrant family tree branching out into a future I couldn't hope to live to see.  My heart always ached a little to know I would never hold a tiny hand in my hand or feel the unconditional or unquestioning love of a toddler, while I breathed a sigh of relief that I would never know the distain of a teenager.

My father once had a story he told about friends of friends.  Apparently they had an unexpected windfall and were questioning whether they should spend the money towards adopting a child or buying a new car.  Everyone in my family rolled their eyes in exasperation and said, "Well, if you have to ask ..."  **sneer**  "buy the new car."

I bought the new car.  I took the vacations.   Most of the time, I never looked back.

Until two days ago when I listened to a single parent speak with passion of the things he has learned.  The selfless wisdom that comes only from having had a child.  And I knew I had missed out.  There was an entire wing of knowledge in the library of life from which I had detoured myself away.

Sometimes the bitch slap of what you already should have realized stinging your face can shock.

I spent the day irritable, on edge, ready to cry at a simple change in the breeze.  Until this morning.  You see this morning, I remembered something.  It is the reason Christians have the saying, "Whenever God shuts a door, he opens a window."  We tend to look at our choices as black and white, right or wrong creatures.   Just recently while watching "Celebrity Rehab" - yes I occasionally watch very schlocky television - I watched Sean Young tear her hair out over losing a part in the movie, "Batman."  After asking who had eventually won the part, the counselor sagely asked, "and how has her career been lately?"

We look at all these choices as things that will make or break us.   "I could have been somebody.  I could have been a contender."  If only I . .. .. . got married, had kids, inhaled, didn't inhale, went to college . . . well, you get the point.  The truth is they are more like the Robert Frost poem, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood ......"  While sometimes you may return to visit the unchosen path, choosing a path very likely means sights on that other path that you will never see.  Sometimes you will find yourself a continent away and no longer will even remember what words to program into Mapquest to find those unchosen detours.  Sometimes, strangled by indecision, you will forget that not choosing a path is actually a choice in itself.  One that leads to conclusions and outcomes just as surely as consciously choosing would have done.  Sometimes you will despair that what you chose led you to what seem to be inconsequential victories, like learning how to play a mean game of Pinochle; while the choices of other people around you seem to have led them to sainthood.

I suppose the trick is to remember to be as kind to yourself as you would be to others and try to appreciate the things you DID learn.  Most of all, remember.  It is just a road you have chosen to walk upon.  You can always change directions and choose another path.  Of course, do so too often and you may find yourself walking in circles, never arriving anywhere, but even that probably has merits only those travelers can truly see and appreciate.  Because, best of all, all of the journeys have wondrous things to see and learn for those whose eyes and hearts aren't afraid to be open.

Friday, June 10, 2011


When I was five or six years old, I went to a public pool for the first time. I didn't go unsupervised, but my direct supervision was loose. Loose enough that, after talking with other kids my age, I was convinced into jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool and no adult intervened and stopped me. I don't remember feeling any fear. I do remember hitting the water and sinking under. I remember bobbing to the surface three times only to slip back under three times. I remember being rescued by a lifeguard. I remember being ordered to stay at the shallow end of the pool. I remember spending the rest of the day there, alone.
It seems to me all of the different highlights of your life can be charted, like points on a map or a model of our solar system. The points remain stationary, separated by dates and time, but your perspective changes depending on where you have moved along the map. At different times in my life, I have reflected on that swimming pool story and focused on my lack of supervision or painted the other kids as "the bad guys." For a long time, the story was my excuse for being an uncertain swimmer or "a little uncomfortable" in the water. Nowadays, my focus is that little girl who jumped off the diving board. It would be easy for me to dismiss her as an idiot, but instead I see someone who was fearless: literally "fear less." That little girl had such a positive outlook on the world she heard not even a whisper of the possibility of negative outcome. Nowadays, I want to climb into that little girl's head and see just a glimpse of the world through her eyes.
Four or five years later, a completely different little girl, I had a poster above my bed. It had a single seagull in flight and read "Hold fast to your dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." I did not know at the time the words were taken from a Langston Hughes poem and he was not credited on the poster. By this time, I was so familiar with the possibility of a negative outcome I think the image of "a broken winged bird" was what I identified with most in the words. I don't remember how long the poster hung there, but I know I never went into my room without giving it at least a glance.
I was reminded of the other little girl, the fearless one, just today when I listened to the 21-year-old caregiver assigned to my father tell me her dreams in life and then systematically, one by one, tell me why she couldn't achieve them. I should say here: the dreams were only sketches, not definite, concrete plans detailing what she wanted and the obstacles were noted as somewhat temporary, transitory blockades. Nothing was set in stone. But nothing voiced any confidence in a positive outcome either, and as I drove home, I wondered why it is that we do that? Why do we voice a dream, if only silently, secretly to ourselves, and then shoot it down so utterly and completely? Is it because we reach a saturation point where others have shot us down often enough a need emerges just to get it over with before they get the chance to do it again? Is our need for recognition or agreement so strong that we will freely ridicule ourselves simply to be part of the crowd? After all, across the internet on Facebook and Twitter, you can watch the world bitch and moan about it being Monday and breathe a sigh of relief when it is Friday. Misery does love company.
I'm not sure what the polar opposite of misery is. Success? Happiness? Whatever it is, the first little girl had it in abundance and I'm pretty sure she had it in common with a lot of people we hold up as role models or wish we had lives like theirs. I think the only thing they have she didn't have was a little bit of knowledge. She hadn't learned yet some things don't just come naturally to you, they have to be learned. She lacked experience and a little bit of perspective, but the rest of it she had right.
Sometimes, whether the crowd is with you or not, you just need to get on the diving board and step off . .. ..

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RIP Mark Haines - I will miss you

I will always remember Mark Haines as one of the few individuals on television who, just when I was thinking "I wish someone would speak up about fill-in-the-blank," actually did speak up about just that.  He made me laugh, he gave me hope that not everyone on television was a marketing automaton, and I will miss him.

Below is a link to Forbes' Eric Jackson excellent blog entry "Why Mark Haines was Special."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Be The Change You Want To See In The World"

In any given time, there are numerous platitudes peppering the white noise of our lives.  They come from religious leaders, philosophers, famous athletes, song titles and all sorts of popular culture sources.  They shift from the ones in vogue in your parent's lifetimes to the ones that are sick in your children's.  What doesn't change is why they are there.  Like metaphorical Burma Shave signs, they hang out hoping the viewer will take action.  Most of the time, other than a small laugh or acknowledgement of a saying's "correctness;" we don't take action.  Most of the time, in fact, we do the exact opposite.


"That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger"
"Don't worry, be happy"
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"
"Time heals all wounds"
"Be the change you want to see in the world"
"Success is the best revenge"

How many times have you watched someone cling to one of those, almost like a life raft, only to need it once again just a short time later?  If they actually work; if they actually have power; should we need to repeat them again and again like a meditative mantra?

It's because we simply pay lip service to the platitude and focus on the problem that led us to the saying in the first place.  Whatever unhappiness, inadequacy, pain, suffering, lack - whatever unpleasant truth we have encountered; we clutch it to our bosoms and keep it alive much like an addict who promises himself he will seek help:  tomorrow.  Instead of embracing life and fighting for our happiness, we revel in sad songs, complaining about nearly everything and no matter how many bumper sticker self help sayings we know, we secretly believe this IS the best it can be.  Most of us are so negative that we don't even recognize it when we speak it.

So how about this?

Whatever platitude is currently stalking you, whispering to your subconscious for you to take action; why not follow the advice?   Just like we know that if we actually DO floss, it is better for your teeth.  Your mouth feels better, your breath smells better and your teeth last longer.  So what if an apple a day actually does make you "healthy, wealthy and wise?"  What if all of your combined suffering actually has made you like Captain America in a crisis?  What if the pain you feel from the boyfriend who dumped you really won't even be a blip on your radar next year?

Think about it.

If you knew that everything will work itself out and this too shall pass; if you really knew it like it had already happened; would you bother wasting your time grousing about it today?

Hell no.  You'd go out and enjoy the beautiful day with a song in your heart and a smile on your face.

So why not?

Go out into the beautiful day with a smile on your face.

I'm going to.

Of course, the platitude that has been dogging my footsteps?

"Be the change you want to see in the world . . . . "

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Infinity Visuals - Israel Valencia Photography

Israel Valencia - Primavera-Rota

A good friend and wonderful photographer, Israel has photos on display currently at Bistro Sabor in Napa and will have a photo booth at the Earth Day Celebration in downtown Napa on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dear Woman

Video I found on the wall at Facebook.  Where some men may find it a little "touchy feely" or resist a message that, at least in the beginning, seems to blame men for all of the ills of the world; the video has an uplifting message and a vision that could greatly improve our world.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Johnny Smith The

Video for Johnny Smith's "The Slip" from the album "Gentlemen X."  A musician local to me, I have always been impressed with Johnny's voice, as well as his gracious and unassuming personality.  When trying to blip some of his songs at, I saw that he didn't really have a lot of videos online so I donated this video and the photos to his cause.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Fated" by S.G. Browne

"Rule #1: Don't get involved."

My entire life I have been told I think too much. While I'm not really sure that I agree that it is possible to think "too" much, perhaps only too "little;" I am pretty sure that author, S. G. Browne is a thinker. I don't believe he could have written this book without a fair amount of pondering about the meaning of human existence. "Fated" is a book where all of the elements work so well together, it almost felt like "deja vu" reading it. Which is not to say the story is predictable or you've read it before. Actually it is more like his description of all of the immortals in the book just feels so accurate; I found myself saying "yes!" aloud more than once. If you've ever been frustrated wondering why humans continually do the stupid things they do, you will immediately identify with Fate, who is forced to continually adjust his humans' fate after they make bad decision after bad decision.

While "Fated" may not shift you to the path of Destiny, it is a great read.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reel Wisdom: Lessons from 40 Films in 7 Minutes

Reality vs The Perception of Reality

Believe it or not, reality vs the perception of reality was the argument du jour on my news wall at Facebook. Actually that in itself makes a good illustration of the argument. In reality, Facebook is a social networking site. A more simplified way to describe that reality would be: Facebook is a place where individuals can post thoughts, photographs, game information - nearly anything of a digital nature that they would like; and make them available for other individuals to access. Perception of that reality then becomes more involved with what people do with the site. Given the capabilities of Facebook, (for our discussion) it makes no difference to the "reality" if an individual uses it to play Farmville 12 hours a day or to post hourly reporting on anything from the current events of "my vacation" to the current state of the world. You see, what the people use the medium for IS their perception of why it is available to them and what is its appropriate usage. Although those perceptions involve a certain amount of judgment, it is the next layer that gets judgmental. That is where, having witnessed a segment of posts or time on Facebook, the individual "judges" Facebook as, let's say, "a place where silly, boring people waste precious hours of their life playing equally silly games." Now, keep in mind, this is NOT reality. This is perception. Facebook still sits there - unbiased as to what its life purpose is. It is the perception based glasses or blinders of the human individual that makes a judgment about that reality and then reinvents it. The problem arises when the human is unaware he is filtering reality through his own perceptions.

On my Facebook news wall, the reality vs perception question invariably traveled to the question of "if a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear it; does it still make a sound?" But when you think about it from a purely, "reality vs perception," point of view; while it may be a fun little game to play with, it doesn't provide us a lot of enlightenment. Unless, of course, we allow ourselves to travel far enough to make judgments about whose fault it is that the tree fell. Otherwise, it is not a question about what the difference is between reality and perceived reality; it is a question about whether or not there actually IS a reality beyond what we perceive. Which is another ballpark altogether.

Let's look at another one just to see where it gets us.

There is an elderly man in a nursing home. One day, a water glass leaves the grasp of his hand, falls to the floor and shatters into many pieces. That's the fact. That's the reality. We have a man. We have a nursing home. We have a broken glass on the floor. But, to the individual's witnessing or impacted by the event, the perception based reality can vary greatly. Perhaps the son of the man perceives the event as a sign of his decreasing strength and decline in health. Perhaps the daughter of the man perceives the event as a sign of the nursing home staff's lack of proper care for her father. Perhaps the nursing home attendant perceives the event as a patient's attempt to receive more attention than the rest of the patients.

Now here's the next problem with perceived reality. We can judge all of those individual's perceptions based on what they witnessed or didn't witness on that day or in the entire life of the elderly man and his personality; but what our "rational" mind fails to grasp is that ALL of the perceived realities are correct. Every one of them is correct whether they appear to be in conflict with each other or not. Now, "correct" is probably not the best word actually, so let's substitute "real." Every one of those perceived realities is real. Every one of those perceived realities is real and represents the reality of the individual perceiving its existence.

Understand? We are now in "one man's junk is another man's treasure" territory. You see, humans are nearly incapable of simply reporting the facts of reality. Our opinions, our need to understand and feel safe in our own existence, our fears - they all give us the guidelines of what reality looks like and what it means.

Now the argument on Facebook involved American government. A whole bunch of "isms" were being paraded around as realities. It is impossible for an "ism" to be reality OUTSIDE of perception. Let's break American government down to the "facts."

There are three branches of federal government: fact. One branch is the Judicial Branch: fact. One branch is the Legislative Branch: fact. One branch is the Executive Branch: fact. Together, these branches make, execute, and interpret the laws that govern America: fact.

But when Americans get together to talk about their government, this is almost never what they are really discussing. Instead, they are arguing about whether or not the laws enacted by the government are right or good; why the individual's working in the branches enacted the particular laws that they did; and what the government should be doing that they are not. All of that involves perceptional reality.

Now here is the important part. It is the scary part, but it is also the part where empathy can begin.

Remember all of those perceived realities are real. They are absolutely the real realities of the persons perceiving them. Let's take one that is as far out on a fringe as you can get in order to make the point. Let's say an individual witnesses all of the news of what laws and decisions the federal branches are making and he perceives that the President of the United States is actually an alien from outer space determined to initiate the destruction of the human race. Just because you or I believe that perception to be ridiculous, it is still that person's reality in which he resides every day. Or at least until the next election. We can't assume that any amount of our reassuring him that we have seen the president's belly button - he is a human - will alter his perception. In fact, he might even perceive our attempts to persuade him as evidence we may also be aliens.

So now that I've brought you to this point - this distinction between reality and perceptional reality - what is MY point? Why bother, especially if we can never cajole, argue, or persuade the individual into changing his perceptional reality. He can only do that on his own. My point is what I take from the knowledge that an individual's perceived reality IS his reality.

That man, the one who believes the president is an alien bent on the destruction of the human race? He lives in a very frightening world. Where we may see joy and laughter and all of the best possibilities for the human race; in a very real sense, he is living in a Philip K. Dick novel and is feeling only fear and doom. Imagine how that must feel for him. He must face every day with a generalized sense of dread. He is essentially facing a hell on earth. It is so important that we attempt to interact with him only in a compassionate way. It's my belief, at least, that it is only possible for an individual's perception of reality to change when he or she is in a calmer, more relaxed state away from his or her fears. So rather than yelling at people and calling them idiots for what they believe or attempting to argue them into agreeing with you; take a step into the painting that is their perceived reality. Try to understand why they would believe that. Try to understand what it must feel like.

But here is the most important part.

Let me make it plain, I am not saying we need to be on the outlook for weapons of mass destruction under the bed or in the garage of everyone who doesn't agree with us politically.

What I am saying is that just because we believe another individual's perceived reality is "crazy talk;" we should never assume that whatever actions they claim they may make are anything other than factual statements of their capabilities in their current perceived state of reality. It is action based on shared perceived reality that brings about change and revolution, but can also bring about destruction and slayings of the Charles Manson variety. Individual perceived reality can bring about great thinkers, artists, visionaries, inventors, but it can also deliver that mundane job worker who takes the whole office hostage.

Underestimating someone else's capabilities within their perceived reality can bring about an end to your own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Terrorists in Your Own Life

Today, for the first time, I elected to "hide all posts" from one of my "friends" on Facebook. I am still such a Pollyanna, I couldn't just delete him altogether - I try to find the good in people, even when they seem determined to hide it. For weeks I had been hiding individual posts from the person as he spewed closed minded negativity in the name of educating the rest of us about politics. I play Farmville, I have hundreds of friends; but there were days when nearly the entire "News Wall" would be him ranting and raving.

The final straw came tonight.

I posted a video on my wall. You know, I really don't care if the video is real or faked. I really don't care if someone in the youtube comment said a curse word. The video makes me laugh EVERY time I see it. Every time. I would almost be ashamed to admit how many times I have laughed. That video gives me joy. Sure, it's a joy that's about on par with The Three Stooges, but I never promised you highbrow humor. I simply wanted to share a second of that joy with others.

Here came this tendril of negativity from this person over onto my wall.

Was it to tell me the video was stupid or in poor taste? No.

It was to tell me how he couldn't be bothered to watch my video because it didn't tell him enough about it and it could be anything. "Not even tempted," he said.

So I thought about that. Apparently, the fact I was a "friend" and had posted it, didn't give it any sort of recommendation. Apparently, the fact I had known him since kindergarten gave him cause to find things that I posted "not even tempting."

I realized .. . I had been in a good mood. Like I said, that video makes me laugh EVERY time. I'm grateful that the man in it wasn't hurt and I don't really care if it was a stunt. It's funny.

What isn't funny is when others feel the need to put their stamp of disapproval on EVERYTHING including things they don't even intend to watch.

Like I said . . I HAD been in a good mood; I wasn't anymore. I realized I had given him the power not only to spew something negative on a post I enjoyed, but on my entire state of mind and mood.

I thought about how, as a country, we frequently talk about the world in terms of "not letting the terrorists win."

EVERY day we let the terrorists in our own lives win. They put us down; they bully us; they think only their opinion counts. They never hear you because they're too busy thinking of what they want to say next. We give them rights they have no right to claim and we call them "friend."

A true and wise friend once told me that he thinks of his happiness as a precious thing and he defends it from people who would try to take it from him.

From now on, so do I.

I think everybody should.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Love Letter to Rep Gabrielle Giffords and President Barack Obama in a World Gone Mad

The notion that inside our 30 to 90-year-old bodies resides the 10 to 14-year-old we once were, bewildered and wondering why no one sees that we are just playing an adult in the theater of life, is not a new one. For me, even though I learned in college that political and moral issues are complicated and frequently both sides of an issue can have merit (when faced with having to write a paper taking a side on euthanasia, I cheated and wrote a pro-paper for my moral issues class and an anti-speech for my speech class;) adulthood has been a time of disillusionment. Voting has always been a bitter pill to swallow as candidates never seemed to be ideal or, indeed make much sense, speaking from hateful and biased places and driven by fear. That is true today more than ever.

On Saturday, January 8th, 2011, while watching Fox News and waiting to hear the news of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, the channel replayed the attached interview and I would like to thank them for that. You see, before Saturday, although I had seen a picture of Rep. Giffords, I was largely unaware of her and had never heard her speak and on Saturday, before all of this backlash of who said or did what, I heard this interview and for the second time I fell a little in love with a politician.

Yes, I said for the second time.

You see that's why I voted for Barack Obama in November 2008. As I listened to him speak at some point along his campaign trail, for the first time I heard a rational voice in politics. For the first time, I heard someone with intelligence whose voice and attitude were unclouded by fear. I saw a man I could understand and relate to because he was saying what I was feeling. I'm not going to say he is completely unbiased. We are humans and we will always have some pet ideas or notions that are more important to us. It has always been my belief that healthcare is a hot topic for President Obama due to the death of his mother and education is one due to his love for his children. I see nothing wrong with that. Rather, by trying to fix a system that undoubtedly failed his mother, he is attempting to protect us all from facing that sad situation and by loving his children and wanting the best for them, he is attempting to help all of our children. That's what I see and during his time in the presidency, I have never once felt disillusioned or disappointed by President Barack Obama. When I listen to him, he still has a voice that shines with intelligence and is clear from irrational fears; but I do see a man who is largely a lone rational voice in a cacophony of rhetoric, biases, fear, petulance, and, increasingly, bullying behavior.

On that recent Saturday, when Fox News replayed Rep. Gifford's interview and I absently worried that no one was too badly injured and the death toll would be low, I was suddenly riveted to the voice on the television. I should say here, I guess, that I am an independent: I am not a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I may have voted for a Democrat in the last presidential election, but don't get me wrong, both parties are equals in disillusioning behavior and rhetoric. But, on that Saturday, for the second time I heard a politician's voice on the television and heard a person of intelligence, a voice clear of the angry byproducts of irrational fear and, frankly, one who refused to be drawn into the mudslinging and partisan fight that sensationalist newscasts enjoy for their very survival. I was immediately smitten by this gently jovial, charming intelligent woman and I knew, had the circumstances of my hearing her voice been different, had she ever been campaigning for my vote: she very likely would have gotten it.

So while my adult self remains trapped in a world of mudslinging and anger and irrational rhetoric, that 10-year-old inside is hoping for a Hail Mary play. She is hoping that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will not only survive, but thrive and choose once again to be her country's voice of reason. She is hoping to someday see her name on a ballot where Rep. Giffords can represent not just the 8th District of Arizona, but her too. If I were writing the comic book, that's the way it would be.

Let me also say that in no way do I mean any offense in regards to the death of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. I did not choose the analogy of an inner child around her age to capitalize upon her portion of the tragedy. I chose that age because it is the age when a human seems to be a "little adult" and, subsequently, seems to be the age I view my "secret" child-like inner voice of reason. It is somewhere around that age where a child seems to be more awake and aware of the world around her, yet still retains much of her childlike vision of magic and possibilities. Losing Christina at that age is an enormous loss to the world as we will never experience the gifts she may have had to give us and heart wrenching because she will never experience them herself.

If there is a God, let him take the victims of the Tucson shooting and their families in his hands and care for them at this time; but whether there is a God or not, let us please, stop all the blaming; stop all the arguing; stop all the violent rhetoric and stop all of the excusing the violent rhetoric. Let us remember that for every opinion you have; there is someone else with a different one. Someone who deserves to be heard and cares for their family just as much as you care for yours. Remember too, whatever mess you personally are in or this country is in, as Andy Andrews points out so eloquently in his self-help seminars, "you got here with your best thinking." No one ever thinks "how can I screw up my life as completely as possible?" - not even a country. So no matter how much "your best thinking" is telling you "I'm right - those other people are idiots," listen to the other side. Listen to the other side with as open a mind as you can muster, because everybody's "best thinking" can always use a little help. Try to be a little optimistic that maybe, just maybe, the world won't end if you don't always get your way. Try to find the graciousness that comes from true gratitude for the abundance that you have.