My Interpretation of ProLife

I try to work toward the common good.

The other day I was watching Biden’s speech on the one-year anniversary of the declaration of this pandemic. It was streaming live on Facebook, and as per usual, the comments were going by so quickly that I couldn’t keep up with them. I did note that some were really supportive, but a lot were from a hostile, angry, lunatic fringe. I decided to focus mainly on the speech.

I struggled to understand why what Biden was saying in this instance was so divisive. The man was talking about his plans, moving forward, to battle this pandemic, and said we all needed to work together for this to be a success. He hoped that the vaccine rollout would continue to be even faster than he first anticipated, and he prayed for those who have lost loved ones. He encouraged us to keep wearing masks and socially distancing, and hoped everything would be more normal by the 4th of July.

After hearing that speech, I felt compelled to throw in a comment of my own, so I typed:

“So nice to hear calm, reasonable, and reassuring words. We’re not out of the woods yet, but progress is being made.”

The comment did get a lot of likes, and also a few laughs, which confused me. Did they think I was joking, or was that their rude way of saying that they thought what I said was a joke? Whatever. Concentrating as I was on what was being said by the president, I didn’t notice the responses to my comment until long after the comment ability had been discontinued.

One guy chimed in:

“bet you do like being told what you are and aren’t allowed to do…..speak for yourself”

A second guy responded:

“uhmmm she is speaking for herself”

To which the first guy replied:

“lol…touche….hoping nobody would see that…bad wording….”

Reading this, I thought, “Why would you assume, based on my comment, that I like being told what I am and am not allowed to do? What prompted you to respond to my positive, yet relatively generic statement? That’s really weird.”

But like I said, comments where turned off by this point, so I kind of had to let it go.

Only I couldn’t. I lost sleep over it, even though it was rather trivial. The only way I was able to get any rest was by telling myself that I do, indeed, have a voice, and a forum on which to express myself. I’d be blogging about it in the morning.

So here’s the response I’d dearly love to give this guy:

I think it’s safe to say we can both agree that nobody likes being told what to do. But here’s where we part company: I most definitely do like being advised by scientists, experts, and leaders on what the best practices are to keep my community safe and healthy.

I was raised not to be selfish. I instinctively try to work toward the common good at every turn. Wearing masks sucks, yes, but I feel that the need not to kill anyone supersedes my desire not to have my glasses fog up every time I exhale.

I also stop at red lights, so as not to kill myself or anyone else. I wear seatbelts. I don’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. I don’t storm capitol buildings or try to overthrow duly elected presidents. I don’t cause riots, I don’t wave guns around in public places, I do my best to keep the environment safe for future generations, and I pay my taxes so that others can be helped in times of need. I also don’t tug on superman’s cape, because I’m just that considerate. If this pandemic has a silver lining at all, it’s that it has given us a visual indication of who is considerate and who is not.

My point is that when choosing to do things, I don’t think merely of myself and how the thing might inconvenience me. I think about the wider world. I think of consequences and how others will be impacted. I think of friends and family, young and old, people yet to be born, and total strangers, even those I suspect I wouldn’t like or agree with. That’s what you do when you’re truly pro-life. You look at the big picture, not just your very narrow, selfish agenda.

Hoo. Thanks for listening. I feel cleansed.

Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book!



I must confess that I’m not the greatest public speaker in the world. I’m entirely too self-conscious, and much more comfortable deep inside my own head. I have told a few stories in public, though. (You can hear some of them here.)

While I’d enjoy being able to speak on TED Talk level, I don’t ever see that happening. Someday I would like to speak at Ignite Seattle, though. I’ve already got an idea in mind. I’m just working up the courage to submit it.

A few friends have told me that I should join Toastmasters to brush up on my public speaking skills. That idea has always left me cold. No offense, but I’ve always felt that Toastmasters are the bullies of the public speaking world.

At Toastmasters, your audience is always critical. That’s why they’re there. They want to help you improve. But that means you’re operating from a standpoint that you need improvement. Whether that’s true or not, it’s not a place where I want to dwell.

One person in the audience is even a designated “Ah Counter”. They click this loud thing every time you say uh, or ah, or um. I don’t know about you, but if I’m on a roll, telling a story, the last thing I want to hear is a loud dog-training device that says, in this context, “You suck!” So I won’t be “toastmastering” any time soon.

Granted, it is annoying when someone says um every few seconds. It makes me think they’re not very well prepared. If they aren’t putting in the effort to speak, then why should I put in the effort to listen? But I’m not an um Nazi. I don’t think every single um is a crime. I don’t even find it particularly distracting within reason.

Recently I read this article, which seems to back up my thoughts on this subject. In fact, it says that ums focus the listener’s attention, increase memory of the conversation, and enhance comprehension of the subject matter.

It also says, basically, that most of us, when we start a sentence, haven’t planned how that sentence will end, especially if it has complex construction (like this one). If we did, there’d be this pause between each sentence so you could formulate it. That would get annoying. A well-placed uh allows your brain to catch up with your voice, and it’s also often a signal to the listener that what you’re about to say will be of particular importance, because you’re taking special care to articulate your thought.

I found this article particularly fascinating because it posits that those who are experts in their field tend to say ah more, because their brain is having to sift through a lot more information before holding forth on their particular area of expertise. It also says that no one used to care about these speech disfluencies until the advent of recordings.

I have to admit, it is rather horrifying to hear one of my speeches, with all its hesitations. But, um… I guess it’s part of my charm.


Read any good books lately? Try mine!

A Message to the World

Hello. I’m an American. Never in my life did I imagine that I would say this, but I am ashamed of the state of my country. I am embarrassed at the face we are currently showing to the world. This is not who we are.

Never again will I look at another country and assume that all its people agree with its government. Because I don’t. Never again will I think of the resident of another country as possessing a stereotypical characteristic based on that person’s place of birth. Because clearly, I no longer fit in here.

In recent months I’ve been seeing a great deal of ugliness. I’ve seen Americans spewing hate. I’ve seen selfishness and greed and intolerance. I’ve seen ignorance deified and intelligence vilified. I’ve seen science discounted and fantasy encouraged. I’ve seen violence. I’ve seen misogyny. I’ve seen fraud. I see more and more lies every day.

I am so sorry that things have gotten this way. I didn’t vote for Trump. I wouldn’t have approved any of his cabinet members or his choices for the Supreme Court. There is not a single thing that this man has done that I agree with. Not one.

I’m particularly mortified that his immigration policies are making so many people live in fear. This is not acceptable to me. I am a second generation American, and the vast majority of the people who live here are descended from immigrants. We have absolutely no right to do what we are currently doing.

We also have no right to treat the Native Americans the way that we do. If anyone should have moral currency with regard to how we treat the land here, it should be them. They should not be beaten down for wanting water that is safe to drink. Shame on us.

We, of all people, should not have the right to negatively impact women’s health at home or abroad. We should also appreciate the good work that other members of the United Nations do every single day. We should be good stewards of our environment, because what we do affects the entire planet.

I just want you to know that many Americans still believe in human rights, freedom, justice, the environment, freedom of speech, science, peace, and respect for all people who do good in this world. I want you to know that those of us who feel this way will not remain silent. We will speak out for the values that we all strive to maintain. Our voices might get drowned out by those in power, but please don’t stop listening for us. We are here.

Because what you’re seeing now is not who we are.


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All in a Huff over Vocabulary Reserved for Women

Recently I had a moral disagreement with someone, so I left. Later he told me that I “stomped out in a huff”. That kind of fascinated me. First of all, I would look rather silly, at the age of 51, if I “stomped” anywhere. And here I thought I was leaving out of respect for the other person. I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of 150 people, and I didn’t want there to be tension for either of us. So I took myself out of the equation.

But it did get me thinking about that phrase. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that a man stomped out in a huff. It even sounds weird. Men might retreat, or leave decisively, or take their exit or deescalate a situation, but they’re never accused of being prone to huffs.

That put me in mind of an article I read recently entitled If Women Wrote Men the Way Men Write Women, by Meg Elison. I highly recommend that you read it. It will really open your eyes to the stereotypes that we all just seem to take for granted. For example, you never hear of men gazing up adoringly at anyone. It just isn’t done.

Here are some more words or phrases that seem to only be applied to “the fairer sex.” (Ugh!)

  • Hysterical
  • Bitchy
  • Irritable
  • Brassy
  • Flaky
  • Airhead
  • Hormonal
  • Emotional
  • Tart
  • Shrill
  • Catty
  • Jail Bait
  • Blonde
  • Brunette
  • Neurotic
  • Not Bad for a Girl
  • Easy
  • Frigid
  • Asking for It
  • Moody
  • Headstrong
  • Plus Sized
  • Cat Fight
  • Gold Digger
  • Intense
  • Gossipy
  • Too Ambitious
  • Slutty
  • Little
  • Irrational
  • Touchy
  • Prude
  • Ball Buster
  • Tease
  • Sensitive
  • Loose
  • Diva
  • Shrew
  • High Strung
  • Ditsy
  • Nag
  • Fishwife
  • Bossy
  • High Maintenance
  • Nasty
  • Fretting
  • Abrasive
  • Breathless
  • Whiny
  • Pushy
  • Mousey
  • Bubbly
  • Illogical

Make no mistake. We live in a sexist society. This didn’t just happen after Trump was elected. The only difference this election made is that now there is no hiding from this fact. The people have spoken. They are okay with a leader who brags about grabbing pussies, and this has caused the scales to fall from our eyes. So now that we have a clear, unobstructed view of the disease, what are we going to do to cure it?

First of all, every woman out there should memorize the words above and strike them from her vocabulary. It’s bad enough when men use them, but it is inexcusable when we use them against each other. We have to stick together if we want to stay strong. And when anyone uses them, we all need to call that person out. We can’t move forward until this type of talk becomes socially unacceptable.

Go forth and conquer gender speech!


Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times.

Seattle Speaks

So many of us are in a state of shock, trying to adjust to this new world we’re living in. We are wondering how we’ll fit in now if we’re women, minorities, immigrants, or part of the LGBT community. I know I’ve really been struggling with this.

Fortunately, there’s a place that I have been going once a month to tell stories, and I thought that this month, in particular, this group, full of so many people that I love so much, would be a source of solace for me. I expected it to be a sort of life raft in a storm-tossed sea. Surely in this place, if no place else on earth, my voice would be heard. And I planned to tell an amazing story, one that I thought would be healing for many people.

But to my shock, I was not allowed to tell my story. Politics were declared to be off limits. The moderator doesn’t seem to have caught on to this new world of ours, where we will need a place where all of us can be heard and still accepted. This wasn’t your grandmother’s election. This was more like a political 9/11, whether the person you voted for won or not, and people need a chance to process that.

Instead, the restrictions mount in this group with each passing month, but they’re unequally applied. It’s kind of like our new country in microcosm, and because of that, more and more people are discontented. In his desperate attempt to please everyone, he’s pleasing no one. He doesn’t trust us enough to loosen his grip. Boundaries are required, yes, but they should be equal and not so heavy handed. It breaks my heart.

So I had to leave. I couldn’t stand the thought that I could only speak there if I fit within an ever-narrowing set of criteria. This was the one place in this city that I didn’t feel like an outsider, but my foothold is increasingly precarious.

I now have to decide whether I can take that feeling. There are a lot of people I would miss. But I can feel like a freak and an outsider just about anywhere, without having to lose a day of work and drive in rush hour traffic.

Did I overreact? Yeah, probably. But in this political climate, it feels like all the nerves are on the surface of my skin. I need embracing, not restricting. So instead of having my monthly invigorating dive into my pool of friends, I came home and felt sorry for myself and may as well have applied the pint of gelato I consumed directly to my waistline. Only time and a cooler head will tell if I’ll be back.

Who knows. I may not be welcome. I may not be generic enough. It’s nearly impossible to avoid stepping on toes in a room that is that tightly packed with people. Perhaps the moderator needs to have faith in people’s resilience. Just a thought.

So, without further ado, here’s the story I intended to tell last night. I ask you, is it so controversial that a group of people, who have always struck me as being extremely supportive, would have found it intolerable? You decide.


Yesterday I was at work, trying to figure out how to live in this new world of ours. Everything looked the same, but everything felt different. I was afraid and confused. I was in despair. I couldn’t even figure out how to write my daily blog, in a place where my voice suddenly feels like it’s being discounted by society at large. So I just sort of sat there, stunned.

My shift was going by really slowly. Not a single boat asked for an opening of my drawbridge for several hours. It kind of felt like everyone was hunkering down, trying not to draw attention to themselves until they figured things out. It was eerily quiet.

Then the radio crackled to life, and it was the Boeing corporate yacht requesting passage. I opened the bridge for him, and he passed through. But something surreal happened as I closed the bridge. When I opened it, the street had been deserted, but upon closing three minutes later, I saw that the street was now filled with dozens of flashing red and blue police strobes. And behind them was a massive crowd of hundreds of people. It was like they had appeared out of nowhere.

I finished closing the bridge and then climbed out on the catwalk that is suspended over the street to get a better view. As the crowd drew near, I could hear them shouting, “Bridge! Bridge!” My heart settled into my throat. What was going on? Were they going to occupy the bridge? It happened once before when the occupy movement was in full force. Suddenly I was feeling very isolated and vulnerable. And they were getting closer.

But as they approached I began to hear more of their chants. “Build a bridge, not a wall!” “This is what democracy looks like!” “Refugees are welcome here!”

Voices of inclusion. Voices of unity. Students reaching out and speaking their truth in a non-violent way. The true essence of America at its best. Freedom of speech.

And there were so many of them. The procession lasted a long time and I got to witness it all from my perch. I was gazing down at hope for the future.

And just like that, the ice melted around my heart and I got tears in my eyes. We still have voices, every one of us. We don’t necessarily have to agree, but we all can speak in this country. And the majority of us aren’t going anywhere. We’re here. Together. And somehow we’ll all work this out. These students reminded me of that.

Speaking your truth is a little gift of kindness you give to those who are worried that they may not be able to speak their own. And when your truth is combined with the truths of others, it is very powerful.

Witnessing this piece of history inspired me. Yes, I can live in this world. There’s room for all of us. There’s just a lot of work to be done. I have to say I’m really proud to be a part of Seattle right now.

We still have a lot to be grateful for. Read more about it in my book!

What Hate Looks Like


It really breaks my heart to have to write this blog entry after the high of yesterday’s entry about Seattle Pride. Unfortunately every light seems to have its shadow. The brightest lights seem to cast even darker ones.

So, two things. First, at the Pride events I attended, I would occasionally come across religious zealots shouting hate speech over microphones and carrying signs such as these:

My immediate thought was that Jesus would be so ashamed to have these people using his name in this way. He was not about hate and exclusion. He was not about judgment and condemnation. His fundamental message was love.

One of them even shouted at me, “Repent your sins and gain eternal life!”

Ignorance abounds. My response to him was, “I don’t want to have eternal life if it means I have to spend it with people like you.”

These people don’t come to events such as these to “save” people. I guarantee you that not one person in the crowd was running up to them and saying, “Why didn’t I see this before? I have been wrong all along! Thank you!”

No, they were there because they get a sick and twisted high off of trying to ruin things for everyone else. They get off on imagining that they are the only ones who are “right” and they don’t care who they hurt to get that feeling. If there is a hell, and  anyone is going to it, it’s people like these.

The second, and most horrifying thing is that a transgender person, Michael Volz, was attacked in Seattle this week after attending a fundraiser for the survivors of the Orlando shooting. Michael was walking down the street, causing no harm to anyone,  when someone said “Happy Pride!” and then beat them half to death. I don’t understand. I will never understand.

Please join me in contributing to the GoFundMe campaign to help Michael through this. Let’s show the world that not all of us are despicable. In the end, love will win.

On that note, if you’ve never seen the video below, take a minute to watch it now. It will restore your faith. I’ve been watching it about once a day since I discovered it.

Write Your Own Life Story

It’s not as though young people are beating a path to my door, asking me for advice. In fact, I don’t really know any young people. We move in entirely different circles. But given my rich inner landscape, I have a tendency to carry on conversations in my mind that I’ve never really had. This is one of them.

I have this fantasy that 30 years hence, some university asks me to speak at their graduation. Who knows why. But graduation speeches are the perfect forum to share what you’ve learned about life. So here’s what I’d say in this speech of a lifetime.

I stand here near the end of my life, looking at all of you, who are at the beginning of yours, and I am very excited for you. I suspect you are feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities for your future. There are so many paths you can take. How do you choose? Terrifying abundance. What a gift!

Embrace that feeling. Lean into it. And allow yourself the first-world luxury of feeling this abundance for the rest of your life. One of the worst mistakes you can make is letting yourself feel trapped. You always have choices. You may not choose them out of a sense of obligation, a fear of failure, or the comfort of the well-worn path you find yourself on, but those choices are still there, waiting for you. Therein lies your freedom.

Never forget that it is entirely up to you to write your own life story. No one else can do it for you. Every single person on this planet will take a different journey. That’s more than 7 billion unique journeys going on right this second. Isn’t that amazing? So make your journey your very own.

At least once a day, stop what you’re doing and look around you. Really, really look. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

Don’t let your family dictate your career, don’t stay married only for the sake of the children, don’t remain in a job that you hate because people are counting on your paycheck. If you do, you will have regrets. Regrets are your brain’s way of telling you that you just didn’t listen to it.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just make sure that the mistakes you make are all yours. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life, and so will you. Most of mine have been because I didn’t follow my gut, I worried about what others thought, and I allowed myself to be talked into things that didn’t feel right. But in the end, my mistakes were just another part of the journey, and they often taught me much and sent me down paths I’d have never discovered otherwise. It’s all good. It’s life.

So live your life. Yours. Make it unique. Make it a work of art. And give others the space to create their own masterpieces.

The only other piece of advice I have, and this is very important: take a picture of your butt now. Someday you’re going to miss it.


My Latest Foray into the Storytelling Realm

A few months back, in an effort to meet like-minded people, I attended a storytelling event and actually got up and spoke. This was a huge deal for me. I was shaking from head to toe. You can read about that here. But in the end, it was a huge rush, and I became addicted!

I can’t come often. They usually meet on a night I have to work, but I hope to do it every once in a while, at least. This month’s theme was: Exceeding Yourself:Stories of Personal Mountaintops. So I decided to tell the story of why I moved across the continent to a state where I knew no one and started my life over.

You can hear the 6 minute speech here. It’s so much better with the crowd reaction, even though I stuffed up in the middle and drew a complete blank for a terrifying eternity.  But if you can’t listen to sound files, here’s more or less what I said:

Okay, so last time I spoke, Paul awarded me the banana bread of bravado because they were fresh out of scones of courage. This time I have to do it without the promise of carbs at the end, so please be patient with me.

I moved here 10 months ago, and that may not seem like a huge personal achievement in and of itself, but you have got to understand, I’ve been trying to get out of Florida for 30 years, and something always seemed to pull me back. Relationships. Finances. Something always got in the way. But I wanted out of there like it was killing me.

Ah, Florida: the land of the hanging chad, where teachers are prohibited from saying the word “condom”, which is why they rank 19th in teen pregnancies while you rank 33rd.

Florida, where not only can’t you die with dignity, but if you try to pull the plug on your vegetative comatose spouse, the state legislature will try to weigh in. For seven years.

Oh, and you haven’t LIVED until one of the Bush brothers has been your governor. Twice. And then gets replaced by Charlie Crist, who changed political parties. Twice.

So, yeah, moving from Florida to Washington isn’t your basic relocation. Talk about exceeding expectations. It’s like moving to another freakin’ planet. Wouldn’t you exceed your expectations if you suddenly found yourself in the Land of Reasonable People for the first time in your life? Especially when you factor in that I didn’t know a soul here and had never stepped foot in this state. For some reason I thought Seattle would be flat like Florida and snowy like New England. Go figure.

Come to find out, the only thing that the two states seem to have in common is really cool Native American place names, and a weird propensity of serial killers. We even shared Ted Bundy.

That’s about all we share, though, so you’ll have to forgive me if there’s a bit of an adjustment period.

Even the bird song in the morning sounds different. And I’ve experienced spring and fall for the first time in decades. In Florida, all we have is summer and January.

By the way, the sun isn’t supposed to rise at 4:30 in the damned morning! What is WRONG with you people? Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?

It may take me a while to get over the posttraumatic stress of hurricanes, snakes, mosquitoes, fire ants, scorpions, sinkholes that swallow your whole house without warning, and spiders the size of the palm of your hand that rear up and hiss at you. But on the other hand, that high pitched sound you hear during the next earthquake will be me screaming like a little girl.

Speaking of screaming, your reaction to itty bitty bugs cracks me up. You don’t have bugs. Try cockroaches that are big enough to conceal weapons stand their ground. Those are bugs.

But what you do have is the best tap water I’ve ever tasted in my life. Why would anyone buy bottled water in this town when your tap water doesn’t smell normal, like rotten eggs?

And your apples and cherries and dairy products practically make me swoon. But I despair of ever having a good store bought tomato or banana again. And your Fried Chicken? Child, please. You don’t know fried chicken. That could be the only thing that sends me running back to Florida.

But for now, I think you’re stuck with me. When I die, I want my ashes mixed with some fireworks and set off illegally in Lake Union. A triumphant exit for someone who once triumphantly arrived.

(I’m still looking for friends, though, so if you have room on your dance card, let me know!)

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Telling My Story

There’s a group here in Seattle called Fresh Ground Stories that meets once a month. I’ve been dying to attend one of their events ever since I heard about it, but unfortunately they always seem to meet on a night when I work. That seems to be the case with all the cool groups in town.

This is a storytelling group, and each month they have a theme. This month’s theme was, “Who do you think you are? Stories that define you.” Well, honestly, after the year I’ve had and all the changes I’ve been through, how could I possibly resist?

So I wrote out a speech and I refined it and rehearsed it for weeks. I was a nervous wreck. 150 people were expected to attend. This would definitely be out of my comfort zone, but I arranged to take the night off anyway.

The more I rehearsed, the more I thought of this experience as closure. It felt as though telling my story would put a period at the end of the sentence, and I could say to myself, okay, now I’m here, in Seattle. This is home. What’s next?

As introverted as I am, even walking into a crowded venue all by myself is a scary proposition, but it turns out that Roy Street Coffee and Tea is a very comfortable place to be. The host of this event, Paul Currington, was a reassuring presence as well, and did a quick outline of the rules so that no one was left floundering. And then he told of a delightful tradition that he has. He says it takes guts for newbies to step on stage and tell their stories, so he always gives the first newbie of the night one of Roy Street’s delicious pastries, which he calls “The Scone of Courage”. But tonight they were out of scones, so he was giving out “The Banana Bread of Bravado”. I was charmed.

The first speaker stood and told a wonderful story, and it was quite clear that she had done this before, because she was quite good. Then to my utter shock, my name was called next. Hooo. I was shaking from head to toe. I had to plant my feet solidly in order to even remain upright. And then I began to tell my story.

Something that hadn’t happened in the million times I rehearsed it was my getting really emotional halfway through. I actually choked up a bit. I thought, “If you start crying right now, you’re going to completely lose it.” It took a lot for me to keep it together. Later, Paul told me that there was a collective gasp in the audience when I got to that part of the story. I didn’t hear it. I was so scared I couldn’t hear anything.

Well, actually, that’s not true. I did hear people laugh in all the right places. What a freakin’ rush! Now I know why people become performers! I want that feeling again. Soon. And often.

Before I knew it, I had made it through my story. I think I skipped a paragraph, but hey, that’s not too bad, considering. And nobody knew but me. The next thing I knew, I was being handed The Banana Bread of Bravado, and banana bread has never tasted so good.

Afterward a lot of people approached me and thanked me for telling my story, which made me feel great, and I think, I hope, we’ll see, I made a friend or two. I know I gave out my e-mail address to a bunch of wonderful people, and I really hope they will be in touch.

So what follows is the speech I gave, more or less. Don’t cringe when you see all the sentence fragments. It was meant to be spoken, not read. Paul also records these stories, and he sent me the mp3 of my speech, so I put it on line. If you’d like to hear it, go here. I think it’s much better with the audience feedback and the sound of the espresso machine in the background!

Who do I think I am? That’s a really good question. In the past year I’ve been so many things…

But let me start back in 2010 when I met Chuck, the absolute love of my life. He was a gorgeous force of nature. When I found out that he had spent weeks in a heavy black gorilla suit in a Florida July to promote his family’s start up business, I thought, “This is a man who will do anything, including making a fool of himself, for the people he loves. This is the man for me.” My life with him was full of passion and laughter and fun. The best years of my life. So far.

We did have our share of challenges, but we had each other’s backs. That’s all that mattered.

Then, about a year ago I went to Connecticut to visit my favorite Aunt. Chuck stayed home in Florida and worked and took care the dogs.

While I was up there, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, calling to tell me that they had found Chuck, dead in his pick up truck, clutching his asthma inhaler in the pharmacy parking lot two blocks from our home.

Yeah. So that was that.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was picking myself up off that hotel room floor.

Boy, did I feel sorry for the total stranger who was sitting next to me on that plane trip home. I was blubbering the whole way, and he was looking at me like I might be a suicide bomber or something. And I was in no mood to explain.

Since Chuck and I weren’t married, all I have left of that four year relationship is two of his t-shirts, a stuffed animal, some pictures and a lot of memories.

And then I got kicked out of our home when I couldn’t keep up with the rent alone. Good times.

So I was talking to a coworker one day, saying, “Man, I have got to get out of this town!” I never liked Jacksonville. It’s an ignorant,  cultural backwater, but now that I had to drive past that pharmacy parking lot every day on the way to work, I hated it.

Well, he told me about a job opening in Seattle, and I thought, “Hmm. Never been to Seattle, but what have I got to lose that I haven’t already lost?” So I applied for it.

To my utter shock, they interviewed me over the phone, and hired me sight unseen. You see, I had been opening drawbridges in Florida for 13 years, and now I open them in Seattle. Yep. I’m that girl who makes you late to work, but at least I’m doing it for twice as much money and actual benefits for a change!

I borrowed a fortune from my sister and got a lot of help from friends and total strangers through an indiegogo fundraising campaign, and I drove myself and my dogs and all my stuff out here 9 months ago, But that’s a story all its own.

And I love it here. I love where I live. I love my job. I love this city! My God, do I love this city. It’s so nice to no longer feel like the only liberal turd in a conservative punchbowl! It’s so refreshing!

The downside is that with my weird work schedule I’ve yet to make any friends. (I actually had to take the night off to come here, and I work every weekend) There are times when I’m so lonely it’s physically painful.

So I’ve been a lover, a griever, an adapter, a mover, a risk taker, an adventurer, and an explorer. Who do I think I am now? I’m a survivor, but I’m also a work in progress. I’m learning to accept my own vulnerability and my own flaws. I have torn myself down to the very foundations, and at the age of 50 I’m slowly but surely building myself back up. Starting over at 50 isn’t for sissies, let me tell you.

I had a dream the other night. I was talking to Chuck and I said, “If you were alive, I wouldn’t be here. But I love it here. I hate that you’re gone, but I like where I’m going. How does that work?” He didn’t say anything. But I feel like he’s with me and he’s proud of me. And that means everything to me.

So one last thing: I have enjoyed exploring this city and this state alone, but it sure would be nice to have a friend or two to do stuff with. So if you have room in your heart for a Floridian who has been through the swamps and battled some gators, here I am, y’all.

Here I am.

Fresh Ground Stories

Nope, that’s not me up there. This is a picture from a past story event that I pulled off Flickr.  This is exactly the set up, though.

Good God, He’s at it Again.

Just when you think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can’t wander any further out on the lunatic fringe, he does just that. This time he ranted not about homosexuals or AIDS or hippies (Are there enough hippies left to rant about? Apparently so.) but what he appears to consider the most evil creatures of all: atheists.

It seems that this silly, ignorant old man equates atheism with a lack of morality. As far as I can tell, his message boiled down to this: without a belief in a judging, Christian god, you cannot be afraid of consequences, and therefore can run wild and give in to your baser instincts.

But here’s what really gave me the willies about his speech: he showed the world exactly what his instincts would be, and even for someone as desensitized as little ol’ me, who is a true crime documentary addict, his scenario was chilling. I won’t go into detail about it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined. But suffice it to say that his violent, sadistic story would make the most diehard serial killer gasp. It takes a special kind of twisted imagination to come up with a plot like that. I wouldn’t want to run into this guy in a dark alley, just in case his god was off duty that day.

I’m not an atheist, but neither am I a Christian. I have never equated my moral compass with my spirituality. In fact, this recent study shows, and history bears it out, that religion doesn’t make people more moral.

I always strive to do the right thing, not because I fear going to hell, but because, well, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t behave decently out of fear. I behave decently because I’d like to think that others will do the same. Otherwise we could not have a functioning society. You can believe in the golden rule without believing that the bible is the voice of god.

If anything, I think that the more you are taught to question, the less dogmatic you are, the more moral you will be. If from birth you are force fed the concept that there is only one right way, and all other ways are wrong, it would be so much easier to stray from a path that you consider to be righteous, and once you’ve done that, once you decide that you’re a bad person, all bets are off. On the other hand, if you are taught to think for yourself, to consider your options, and to realize how your actions will impact those around you, you will be much more apt to care about the consequences of your behavior.

Yes, there is evil in this world. It spans across all religions and every philosophy. Some people are just sick, and I think Phil Robertson’s latest speech demonstrates that he’s one of those people. That’s all there is to it.

Phil Robertson