That’s Acting

I am always shocked when I remember that Charlton Heston, the star of two of the most liberal movies ever made, the original Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green, went on to become the poster child for what I believe to be the most conservative, warped and corrupt organization in America: The National Rifle Association. I mean, how do you promote one belief system and yet espouse another? I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Bill Cosby also springs to mind. On screen he was the quintessential family man. That was his brand. But in reality he was a sexual predator. The moral tension between what you do and who you are in these situations must be exhausting, unless you’re a psychopath.

But actors aren’t the only ones who act. Diplomats definitely have to do it, as do politicians, if they hope for any type of occupational success. Lawyers, too, along with every director of a human resource department on the face of the earth.

How do you people sleep at night? I would be up at all hours, trying to reconcile the dichotomy of my life. I can’t even stand it when someone within my orbit behaves like that. I can’t abide fake people. I think they’re evil.

Unfortunately, we need diplomats and politicians and lawyers and personnel directors. I suppose I should be happy that there are people out there who are willing to act. I would hate to take on those dirty jobs myself.

So, if you are devoid of integrity, never fear. There’s a place in this crazy world for you, too.

Charleton Heston

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Let’s Talk About the Weather, Shall We?

I’m looking forward to a rare day of sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest, and the temperature is expected to rise to a delightful 65 degrees. Spring! Happy dance!

Meanwhile, a dear friend in Kansas had to hunker down the other day in anticipation of 2 to 4 inches of snow. In April. This is not normal. The world has gone mad.

It used to be that the weather was considered to be the safest of all possible topics. We are all told to avoid politics and religion over Thanksgiving dinner, but the weather… we could all agree on that, couldn’t we?

Not anymore. The weather has become political. At a time when California is burning to the ground, islands are sinking beneath the ocean waves, there is severe flooding, drought, dust storms engulfing entire cities, super storms of all kinds, and unprecedented ice cap melting, we are expected to avoid the meteorological elephant in the room. Even governmental websites are deleting any references to global climate change.

I never thought I’d see the day when liberals would be considered the most conservative people on earth, but we are the ones that are wanting to take precautions to safeguard the planet. Even if you don’t believe in the overwhelming science of climate change, even if you refuse to look at the evidence before your very eyes, how can you justify not wanting to take steps, just in case? If this really does turn out to be our last chance to save ourselves, don’t you want to be aboard that ark?

What is wrong with reducing our dependence on fossil fuels? Why not recycle? Would it kill you to plant a tree? Is it really so hard to be a little bit smarter about your water usage? Why is expecting our corporations not to pour their toxic waste into our rivers and streams so controversial?

Seriously. Explain it to me. Because I don’t get it.

Surely we can all agree that this isn’t the best idea we’ve ever had.

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Your Ways

All my life, I’ve been told that old people are set in their ways. They’re rigid. Conservative. They don’t want to try new things. It made me dread growing old.

Now that I’m getting older, though, I’m beginning to have a different perspective on this subject. First of all, I know a lot of older people who are still willing to push the outer envelope. My friend Carole even jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on her 73rd birthday. That gives me hope. I think that as the baby-boomers age, they are less willing to quietly settle into that old folks stereotype. That makes me really happy.

On the other hand, as I start to develop more and more “ways” of my own, I totally understand the desire to be set in them. One should never overlook the wealth of experience that older people possess. We say that people become “wizened”, which means shriveled or wrinkled, but I like to imagine that it also means more wise. Most of us learn as we age. There’s a reason most of your teachers are not your contemporaries. Older people developed their ways through trial and error. They’ve survived. They’ve figured out what works for them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes. I no longer see anything wrong with that.

As I settle into a routine that brings me joy, I’m less and less willing to change those habits. It’s only natural that I become less flexible as I become less flexible. I like the peace and quiet of not having a television. I like my Epsom salt baths by the light of my lavender candle. Cuddling with my dog makes me happy and reduces my heating bills. I doubt I’ll ever embrace Twitter. And I may say “hashtag” out loud, but I’ll always be thinking “pound sign”.

So sue me.


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Deadly Little Toys

Needless to say, there’s been quite a bit of debate going on about gun control in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas. The GOP would have us not talk about it. It’s not the appropriate time, they say. Well, when is the appropriate time? Seriously. How much blood has to run in the streets before we get to talk about this?

During one Facebook conversation on the topic, someone said, “The Left’s only solution is banning and confiscation.” Is that why you won’t come to the table, conservatives? Because let me clarify. I don’t know anyone on the left who wants the government to root around in your gun locker and take away your squirrel gun or your pistol. I swear to God. I promise.

We are not talking about taking away your ability to feel safe. (In spite of the fact that most guns in homes wind up harming the residents.) That’s your prerogative. We are also not talking about taking away your ability to hunt for food. Do your thing.

But you don’t need assault rifles, armor piercing bullets, silencers or a freakin’ arsenal to protect yourself or feed yourself. If you do, you aren’t living right. Can we at least agree on that? Please?

And why would you be offended about needing background checks? If you can’t pass one, then you have more problems than a gun can solve anyway. You’re okay with the need for drivers licenses, fishing licenses, and marriage licenses, right? Why is this any more intrusive?

We are the only country that isn’t addressing this issue, and we are the only country where incidents like the one in Las Vegas happen with such horrifying frequency. Other countries do not have anything close to this problem. Doesn’t that make you stop and think? Doesn’t that make you want to at least try to deal with this?

What is it going to take before you’re willing to come to the table and talk, and take action? How many people have to die?  We should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation.

Automatic weapons
That little orange sign says “You have EARNED this.” Maybe, but has the person you are aiming at earned it, too?

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Two Years in Seattle

On August 24, 2014 I arrived in Seattle to start my new life. I had never been to the city before, and didn’t know a soul. I remember how I felt that day: excited, and scared silly. I felt like I was in a foreign country. Sometimes I still do.

In retrospect, I really think I was in shock. The terrain wasn’t flat like I expected. The weather was sunny and mild. I had been expecting rain, and after living in Florida for 40 years, “mild” was a sensation I had very rarely experienced.

I remember sitting in a park with my dogs, just staring at people. After driving for 3100 miles, I still had the sensation that I was moving. I still pass that park every day on the way to work.

I remember noticing that there was a completely different vibe in this city. It’s a much smaller city than Jacksonville, Florida, but it feels like a much larger one, probably because people are much more densely packed here. I don’t know how I was picking up on these signals just by sitting in the park, but I remember drawing conclusions that I later found to be true: this was a more educated, more sophisticated, more liberal, more diverse place.

More liberal! I wanted to jump for joy. After 40 years of feeling like a liberal turd in a conservative punch bowl, suddenly I felt like I fit in. It was like taking off a pair of shoes that was two sizes too small. I had no idea how much of a burden I had been carrying all that time. That feeling of being an outsider, that feeling of having to justify my conclusions, that feeling of never being taken seriously…I could lay those burdens down for the first time in my life. And it felt so good.

In the coming weeks and months I had a lot of adjusting to do. Finding my way around. Getting used to the insane level of traffic. Figuring out which of all the unknown grocery stores fit my budget and my tastes. Getting used to the fact that a lot of the products I was used to are sold here, but in entirely different packaging. Getting used to the fact that everything costs about 3 times as much. Learning my job. Finding doctors and dentists and libraries and post offices. Wrapping my brain around the Seattle Freeze.

After a few months of desperately trying to make friends, I wrote about the Seattle Freeze. I just didn’t know what it was called at the time. In that blog entry I called it, “Nice, but not.” After two years I’m still convinced that this is a thing, but since then I have made friends, and therefore don’t act quite as needy, and am not as hurt by the smiling, polite, unmovable wall of rejection.

I also came across a blog entry I wrote before leaving Florida, called A Florida Transplant to the Pacific Northwest. In it I had a lot of anxious, unanswered questions about how to make this massive transition. I can still feel the stress rolling off the page. Man, I was scared.

But you know what? Since then I’ve answered all those questions, and this place now feels like home. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

So, happy anniversary to me!



According to Wikipedia,

Heterodoxy in a religious sense means “any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position”. Under this definition, heterodoxy is similar to unorthodoxy, while the adjective “heterodox” could be applied to a dissident.

This word has been around since at least the 1650’s. How have I managed to live my life without knowing it? I love this word. I live it. I should tattoo this on my behind.

I have never felt comfortable walking in lock step with the rest of the crowd. When someone tries to force me into that mindless parade, my first instinct is to think, “But… what if we should be looking at things from a different angle?”

I’m a questioner. I always have been. I like thinking outside the box because the box always makes me nervous. I’m not just talking about religion. I’m talking about life in general.

This is how bad I am. When I’m surrounded by outrageously unique people, my instinct is to get all conservative. I just can’t be the same, even if “the same”, in this case, is different.

This means I’ve pretty much gone through life feeling kind of weird. It also means that I’m quite often misunderstood. It isn’t easy being me. But I don’t know how else to be.

But here all this time I’ve been a heterodox and I didn’t even know it! Uh oh. Now I want to get all orthodox…

This is one of my favorite poems for a reason.

Self-Image is All About Perspective

Since moving to Seattle, my self-image has drastically changed. When I was in Florida, I was usually the most radically liberal, open-minded and adventurous person in the room. When I talked about the environment, people would roll their eyes. When I went out of my way to recycle something, I’d be scoffed at. When I said I approved of gay marriage, people were horrified. The fact that I often travelled alone was considered scandalous.

Here in Seattle, on the other hand, I actually appear to be relatively conservative. When I mentioned that in fact I did not want to rid the entire city of cars, I was met with stunned silence the other day. When I asked a question about composting, I was looked at as if I had a single digit IQ. (As in, “How is it that you don’t already know this?”) People have lifestyles here that I’d never even contemplated before. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just new to me.) And when I was too shy to enter a club until my friend arrived, she told me I was old fashioned.

I also never thought of myself as a tomboy in Florida. Maybe it’s because in the land of shorts and t-shirts, it’s hard to stand out as particularly androgynous. Here, I’ve been told by a surprising number of people that I’m not girly. Here I am at 51, trying to incorporate this fact into my emotional resume. It’s a strange feeling, albeit true to the very marrow of my bones.

It seems that one’s self-image depends a great deal upon one’s environment. If you’re a baby swan and you’re surrounded by other baby swans, it would never occur to you that you might be considered an ugly duckling. So, how much of your self-image is actually SELF? Something to think about.

Another thing to think about is why do we care? Why do we compare ourselves to others? What difference do our differences make? I have to admit that it’s a hard habit to break, though.

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