What’s Your Idea of Safety?

I heard an interesting discussion on NPR recently. A man was conducting a seminar, and he asked his audience to close their eyes and imagine what safety looks like. How does it smell, feel, and sound? Audience members were then asked to share their thoughts.

Someone said safety was making waffles on a Saturday morning for his kids. The smell of the melting butter. The sounds of the kids chattering away while sitting on stools at the kitchen counter.

Other people might think of safety as their warm bed, with its weighted blanket. The room is dimly lit. Everything is quiet.

It could be lying in your husband’s arms in a hammock. The smell of his aftershave. The sound of his snore.

Safety might be listening to Motown music during a backyard bar-b-cue with friends. The sound of burgers sizzling on the grill. The sun on your shoulders.

It might be lying in a field and gazing up at the stars. That feeling of the planet cradling you as it moves through space. Crickets chirping.

I’d probably say it was spooning with my dog. His warm, furry little body against mine. That moment when the day is done and you get to drift off to sleep.

The interesting thing is that the man was conducting his seminar with police officers. They had a variety of responses, along the lines of the above. After they shared, he said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Isn’t it interesting that none of you said that safety was being with a police officer? And most people, regardless of their occupation, wouldn’t think of a police officer when answering this question. Why is that?”

That’s a very good question. Police officers are supposed to be there to ensure the safety of the public. Yet at some point many of them started viewing us as the enemy, and we have responded in kind. Why? Until we can answer that question, we can’t fix things.

Just something to think about while you make your waffles.


Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


What Are You Known For?

Recently I overheard someone proudly say, “My grandma was known for making the best apple cobbler in the county.”

That got me thinking. Is everybody known for something? I believe they are, at least to the people who love them most. I’ve heard people described as the type that would give you the shirt off his back, or the strongest person I’ve ever met, or, on the opposite extreme, a massive jerk.

Do we know how people truly think of us, or how we are described by others? Well, I certainly don’t. So I decided to ask. I reached out to about two dozen friends and loved ones, and posed this question:

If everyone is known for something, what do you think I’m known for?

I decided to keep it that simple, and only elaborate if someone asked for clarification.

Most didn’t bother to respond. That disappointed me greatly, but that’s typical with any type of survey, formal or informal. Even that taught me a little bit about who will actually step up for me, or at the very least, who lacks concentration and/or is epically busy.

Of those that did respond, many came back with the easy, surface stuff. I’m known for being a bridgetender and a writer. Those who aren’t in touch with me as often mentioned that I’m known for being a fractal artist, even though I haven’t made a fractal in years.

Those were legitimate responses, and nothing to be ashamed of. But it made me realize how important it is to properly frame your question. What I was hoping for, really, was not what I’m known for by people in general, but how would you describe me to others? What has been your personal experience with me? What makes me unique in your eyes?

But there were those who delved deeper. One smart aleck said, “Epic farts.” But even he got more serious and went into more detail after a little bit of prompting. Here were some of the responses I received:

  • Supporting someone in need.

  • Makes me laugh.

  • You’re unique. A fair amount of women I just can’t “talk” to.

  • Loving.

  • You mean what you say. You tell it like it is.

  • An advocate for those you feel have no voice.

  • Brave, independent woman who takes no nonsense from nobody and loves her husband and dogs and job.

  • You care about right and wrong so much that your blood boils when you see what you believe is unjust.

  • Perception.

  • Delivering your opinion in a most enlightening way.

  • Integrity.

  • Curiosity.

  • You are adventuristic. A ‘seize the moment’ sort of person.

  • You appreciate the now.

  • Heart to heart sharings of intimate fears.

  • Your ineffable sexiness (this one made me blink, and blush.)

  • Candor.

  • Courage.

  • Compassion for animals.

  • Patience and persistence in pursuit of making a good life for yourself.

  • Reverence for the use of language to convey your insights.

Wow. Just… wow. These were wonderful observations. They certainly made me proud. They humbled me. Some of them were extremely unexpected. But I’ll take it.

This experiment also taught me a lot about how different my inner self is from my outer self. The two ways I’d describe myself were not mentioned by anyone. I would think that I’d be known for my intelligence and the fact that I have no filter whatsoever. But maybe I see myself that way because I use the intelligence as a suit of armor to hide behind, and I spend a great deal of time doing damage control for my lack of filter.

The bottom line is that I’m really glad I asked this question. I would recommend that everyone try this with their loved ones. The education you get from it, in ways both predictable and unexpected, is priceless.

Check out O
One of my copyrighted fractals.

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

What’s in a Name?

Has this ever happened to you? You run into a friend that you haven’t seen for a long time. You’re happy to see him because you have fond memories of laughter and camaraderie. You’ve always enjoyed his company. You have no idea why you grew apart in the first place. But you can’t introduce him to your significant other because… his name is on the tip of your tongue… what is it again?


We place so much value on the naming of people, places and things. It’s as if we must be able to pin things down, validate them, make them a part of our world by calling them something. The right thing. The proper thing. It’s important to name things to prove you know what or who they are. Why?

Is the accurate description of a thing what causes it to be real? Like Schrödinger’s cat, can a thing’s state of existence only be locked in when it’s observed? Is calling you by name the only way to prove that you are truly alive?

When land is colonized, the place names often get changed. For example, Mount St. Helens used to be called Suek by the Native Americans who lived there. Names are powerful things. Renaming says, “Your sense of the reality of this mountain isn’t valid. We take ownership of this place and its history is now our history. Nothing else counts.” It’s the ultimate violation.

And yet, the mountain itself is still the mountain. But even calling it “the mountain” is a sort of naming, is it not? That tall mound of… oh, bother. Everything is a description. You could keep an image of it in your head, but you’d have no way of discussing it with others without some commonly agreed upon name.

If a name is what defines something, shouldn’t people choose their own names? I have never felt like a Barbara. No one could ever know me as well as I know myself. And yet, the name I would choose for myself now is probably not the name I would have chosen 20 years ago. I am constantly changing. But my name stays the same. I kind of feel as though I should be able to shed it like old skin. But there’s no cultural mechanism in place for that.

Words have value. They help us connect with each other, and with the wider world. But maybe we need to find a way to work on our interior sense of who or what constitutes the true essence of things, before we lose the ability to do so.


Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My View

A reader recently pointed out to me that this blog is called The View from a Drawbridge, but I haven’t really described my actual view in quite some time. Good point. Excellent point.

And it is kind of interesting to contemplate how my perspective on this view has changed over time.

For example, I’ve become fascinated with the office building that sits just across the ship canal from me. They have painted the walls of each office outlandish colors. Dark purple. Vivid orange. Sprite bottle green. My first thought is always, “very bad feng shui.” I wonder how the people working in those offices feel. For that matter, I wonder what they do.

I’m also really interested in the houseboats that line the south bank. That strikes me as a really fun way to live your life. I’d feel like a voyeur, except for the fact that I almost never see anyone on or around these houseboats. It’s like a big floating ghost town. If I were lucky enough to live like that, I’d be out on the balcony every chance I got. Well… maybe not in the winter, but you get the idea.

Their peace will soon be disrupted, though, because someone bought the 15,000 square foot patch of land where the Red Robin fast food place used to sit. They paid 2.8 million for it, and plan to throw up a high rise with ground level shops. No wonder I’ll never be able to afford to buy a house in this town.

I love to watch crews from the rowing club get into their racing shells. How do so many people get on such a long narrow vessel without tipping the whole thing over? But I’ve never seen any of them go for a swim. That’s pretty impressive. They don’t seem to mind getting wet, though. They often practice in the rain.

It took me all this time to discover that when the Montlake Bridge is fully open, I can see bits of it above the tree line. Cool.

And of late I’ve been observing a crow atop the bridge tower adjacent to me, as he chews on the wiring of our weather station. I’m not quite sure what to do about it. I suspect if I try to shoo him away, it will simply make him more determined.

There are a couple of homeless people that used to walk across the bridge every day, cursing and gesticulating. I haven’t seen them in a while. I hope they made it through the worst of the winter.

Also, one of the many men who walked his dog across my bridge each day now walks alone. He looks sad. I fear the worst.

I’m sick of the grey clouds. I’m looking forward to spring. Meanwhile, the hum of the traffic lulls me, provided I don’t dwell on the fact that it’s traffic. So that’s a little snapshot of my view.

University Lighting
Photo courtesy of SDOT Artist in Residence RSVR Visual Research.
University Lighting2
Photo courtesy of SDOT Artist in Residence RSVR Visual Research.

Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Writing a Dating Profile

Okay guys, I’m starting to get my feet under me in this new city, and now that I’ve had a chance to lift up my head and look around me, I realize I’m lonely as hell. There. I said it. I don’t know anybody here, and while talking to my dogs helps, they tend to keep their own counsel.

Normally I’d make friends at my UU Church, but my work schedule doesn’t really allow for that at this point. I‘ve never really had to expose myself like this because up to this point a good man always seemed to cross my path just when I needed one. But I’m not getting any younger or any thinner. So I’m stuck with doing something I thought I’d never do. I’m going to put myself out there on one of those internet dating sites.

God, I feel sick even contemplating the potential rejection. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right? So the first step, I suppose, is writing a profile. I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll Google “Writing a Dating Profile” and see what advice I can get there.

Apparently you get a much better response by including a photo. Oh, God. Well, I may as well be honest right up front, because sooner or later the truth will out. I don’t understand people who fake their pictures on these sites. Yes, starting off with a lie will get you a first date, but it sure isn’t going to get you a second one. If someone is shallow enough to reject me based solely on appearance, I’d rather skip over that person anyway.

And I’ve noticed that a lot of women’s profiles talk mostly about their curves and their physical attributes. I refuse to do that. Sorry guys, but if that’s all you want, you couldn’t handle me.

Unfortunately, most of these sites relegate you to about 200 words. I can’t even wrap my brain around that type of restriction. How do I sum myself up in just 200 words? Here’s what I’d like to say:

Hi, my name’s Barb. I’m a 49 year old liberal, intelligent non-smoker, and I just moved to the Seattle area from Florida for a job as a bridge operator with the city. I don’t know a soul here. Sometimes I am proud about this gutsy move, and other times I think I’ve lost my marbles.

When I drove across the country, I stopped at Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Gingko Petrified Forest along the way. This is an amazingly gorgeous country we live in. I’ve been to 19 other countries, and have sorely neglected my own. I’m looking for someone to explore the city and/or state with me. I live to travel. My best trait, I think, is my curiosity. I enjoy learning and discovering.

The other day I went to Chihuly Garden and Glass and wanted to pitch a tent there. I visited the Gum Wall and thought it was gross and twisted. I loved it. Discovery Park took my breath away. The view is spectacular, but the loop road nearly killed this flatlander. I have some adjustments to make!

I’d love an epic romance, sure, but I’d be happy with a friendship, too. It feels really weird being this isolated. All the people I love most are 3100 miles away. Thank God for my dogs, but as much as I love them, they tend not to hold up their end of a conversation.

As you can see from my picture, I’m not skinny. No sense in lying about that. You’d figure it out sooner or later. If you’re looking for a Barbie Doll, I doubt we’d have much to talk about anyway.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which means I think everyone has their own path to walk and I’m fascinated by the many different paths that people choose. I can’t really relate to people who think their religious beliefs are the only correct ones. I guess that means I’m intolerant when it comes to intolerance.

I really enjoy watching other people do the cooking. I love eating pretty much anything except Sushi, Brussel sprouts and lima beans. I think it would be a blast to go to Pike Place Market with someone, pick out some really good ingredients, and then come home and help them create something delicious.

I like to go and do things, but I also like to read and take baths and stay at home and eat pizza and take naps with my dogs. My most embarrassing guilty pleasure is reality TV.

I don’t wear high heels or much make up. I fart and I snore and I hate it when I giggle but I think a good dry sense of humor is extremely sexy, so I’ve learned to get over myself. I’m extremely passionate when properly inspired, but I couldn’t be less interested in shallow and meaningless encounters.

I’m not really into sports. I’m also child free and smoke free and would like to keep it that way. I believe that if you’re still getting drunk in my age group, that’s probably the tip of an extremely troubled iceberg.

I’m told I’m interesting to talk to. I love to write, and maintain a daily blog. I think I tell some pretty good stories, and I love hearing other people tell them as well.

I love my job. There’s nothing better than sitting up on a drawbridge and watching the moon rise over the city, with its long silver reflection over the water. And I’ve always loved non-traditional jobs that allow me to think for myself. But in the interest of full disclosure, my work schedule is insane. I never have the same days off twice, it seems, and sometimes I work mornings and other times I work evenings, and it’s subject to change without notice. Occasionally I work ten days straight. That means I can be a bit hard to pin down. But I’d like to think I’m worth it.

So far I’m loving everything about Seattle except the traffic. I’m itching to get out there and see more of it! Care to join me?

So what do you think? Would you date me? And how do I boil myself down to 200 words? This could be an interesting writing exercise for other bloggers. “How to Shove Barb Into a Nutshell.”

Ugh. This whole vulnerability thing sucks.