Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's done is done

Annie decided last week, at age 16, to get her ears pierced. This was a bit of a surprise, as she'd never expressed much interest in said activity to date. But one of her BFFs (that would be Best Friends Forever, for those not conversant in teen speak) was recently asking for a belly button piercing. Annie asked for one, too.

Um. No.

Then she called while out on one of her many outings and said that she and another one of her BFFs were getting their ears pierced.

No um necessary. Yes. Sure. Why not?

And so she did. There was some discussion about her using an old pair of my earrings for said event. I never got around to telling her that I didn't think she could do that. Being very, very old, I remember having my ears pierced with earring posts that were pointy and sharpy and ouchy--the better to punch the hole, my dear. So I figured that she couldn't use any of my earrings, which do not possess pointy-ness. But I forgot to tell her that in the rush of her coming and going.

There's a lot of those comings and goings with teenagers. Have you noticed that? Makes my head spin sometimes. I honestly forget sometimes whether she's here or gone!

Off she went, and back here she came, with pierced ears courtesy of the earring gun. Looked cute. She was happy. I was happy.

Several days passed. I noticed that my diamond stud earrings were missing. I'm sure you know where this is going, even though I surely didn't at the time. I searched high and low for them, even taking apart the vacuum and attempting to mine the dirt inside for gems. No luck. Asked the kids if they remembered seeing them anywhere. No such luck.

I figured my earrings were gone. I'd probably left them on the dresser and they'd gotten swept off. Or I took them off while traveling and didn't remember to put them back on the next morning in some hotel room. I was sad. These were much coveted earrings, a present from my dear husband. But what's done is done.

I stopped searching and sat down to finish my work. Annie appeared. She smiled. She pointed to her earrings. Her shiny sparkly earrings? MY diamond earrings! She had borrowed them, thinking they were the earrings SHE had bought for me long ago. The very inexpensive, though sweet, fake not even zirconium diamond set. I smiled. I did a happy dance. We decided she would keep them in until she's allowed to remove them. Laughter ensued. What's done is done.

Not the end of the story, though. Annie worked down at Taste yesterday--paid employment, yea! Afterwards, she and a buddy met up with some friends for a beach frolic. Do you know where this is going yet? Fast forward a few hours to Annie standing in front of the mirror, ready to admire my earrings against her newly acquired tan. My earring. There's only one earring in one earring. The other is gone. Gone.

I found another pair for her. She bravely repierced the ear from which the earring went missing. She said, "I'm sorry, Mommy." What's done is done. How could I be angry with her? She didn't do anything wrong. Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. And spending time and emotion fussing over what is done isn't worth it anymore.

Now I have a daughter with adorable pierced ears. And a single diamond to remind me of, what? Whatever lesson I'd like to have learned from this. What's done is done. And whether that's due to a mistake or a bad decision or evil or something wrong or a simple accident, well, the why of it might not be all that important. We move on.


Saturday, June 28, 2008


My son thinks that perhaps, instead of seeking a career as a psychologist, he would like to become a munitions manufacturer or designer. He's always been fascinated with weapons. And, with the latest SCOTUS decision, there's bound to be an increased demand for same.

Yes, I refer to the now old news that SCOTUS reads the Second Amendment without the benefit of a proper background in grammar, as it does not pay much attention to punctuation, apparently.
Justice Scalia, writing for 5-4 majority that struck down a gun control law, opined that the Second Amendment gives individuals a right to own guns apart from militia use.

The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Apparently the majority of SCOTUS does not believe that the commas in the previous sentence have any meaning for us.

I find this reading so very odd, coming from conservatives as it does. We Liberals are so often accused of reading more into the word of law than is apparent at first blush. Yet this seems more of the same. The framework of the argument at that time had nothing to do with the right of individuals to keep guns in their homes to protect themselves from criminals. Our Founders were concerned with the right of The People to protect themselves from governmental tyranny with a well-armed militia of, yes, The People.

In the alternative, I'm happy to join in with the Trib editorial board (boy, that sentence doesn't come out of my mouth terribly often) in calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment. The board acknowledged in the very next sentence that such an action was highly unlikely and bemoaned the loss of the conversation about whether or not guns should be banned, saying that such a decision should not be taken from the people.

So The People and the people are free to own guns to protect themselves. But no one is free to legislate further protection by eliminating guns altogether. It's a flip-flop topic, I guess. Those who usually argue for broader individual rights are left longing for legislation to take away those rights. And those who usually argue for legislation over court fiat are darn happy with the fiat.


Hoped to write about several other items of note. But there is a party on my block this evening. Live band, covering Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" among many others. Ha. I identified a song from the 70s--and you thought I was out of touch with the culture of my times. The band sounds decent. The vocalists, not so much. I can't concentrate when people sing out of tune!

Off to watch "John Adams" and avoid loud neighboring sounds.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Abscessive Thoughts

No, that's not a misspelling. Though I have often been labeled "obsessive", today I feel quite abscessive. My brain feels vaguely cesspool-esque, if not empty then full of unsavory elements that don't belong there. I'm worrying about my youngest, whose anxiety and depression is preventing her from partaking in and enjoying usual teen activities. In the process of helping her cope with this, sleep has been an elusive state.

Additionally, I am the proud possessor of an abscess. Not actually in my brain, of course. It's located a bit lower, south of my nose and north of my upper lip: the land of dentition. I am not happy. It hurts. It is full of stuff that is, indeed, unsavory. And it will require a root canal and antibiotics to repair.

I am also hurt. Betrayed, even. I am a very faithful slave to my teeth. Brusha, brusha, brusha. Big-time flosser. 6 month viits. I'm certain that I'm on my hygienist's top ten queens of dental care list, should she have one. And everything that I've read on dental abscesses seems to imply that such things occur only in mouths that are not given tender loving care.

Life is unfair like that. I take care of my teeth and this is the thanks I get? I ask about flood insurance, am assured I'm not on a flood plain and don't need it, and then Iowa turns into one big pond? I learn how to read and then George Bush says he might write a book?

Sometimes, though, life surprises us. Finally, after 50+ years together, California decides to legally recognize and sanction your union. John Edwards says he might consider being veep after all. Unhappily, you have to switch doctors and it turns out the new one is highly regarded by friends and family.

Once, I was a dyed in the wool pessimist. There was never any question in my mind that the glass was half-empty. And I sometimes secretly wondered if it might be poisoned. After years of living life and experiencing its unfairness and surprises, somehow I've slipped over to the optimist side.

My glasses definitely don't tend toward rose-colored. And I do occasionally catastrophize (if it's not a word, it ought to be). For example, when I discovered the bump in my mouth, I did spend ten minutes researching mouth cancer before I reined myself in and put my money on an infection.

Mostly, though, I never stop thinking bad things might change or good things might stay the same for a while. I find this to be a sensible way of life for me. I don't spend much time in lala land, imagining wonderful things that will never happen. I don't spend too much time in ohgabogah land, fearing horrible things that will never happen. I know that both good and bad will come. And go. And I hang my hat on that ebb and flow. Even if it isn't always fair or even-steven or even right.

Who would've thought that change would ever sound good to me?


Friday, June 13, 2008


We've had a number of hop and grabs lately in Oak Park (otherwise known as bike robberies). Our local police force has been working overtime to catch the young whippersnappers who are victimizing other young whippersnappers. Apparently, most of the criminal whippersnappers are from over the border in Chicago.

One of the Chicago teens approached an Oak Park rider, grabbed her bike and said, "I need this more than you." I was really struck by this sentence, and haven't been able to get it out of my head all day.

I found myself tossing various scenarios around all day long, trying to explain why the thief said this. Why did he bother to say anything, other than an expletive deleted?
Did he fancy himself striking a blow for poor everywhere, doing a Robin Hood redistribution kind of act? Was he so demoralized by his plight of poverty that he struck out without caring for the consequences to the girl who was, in all likelihood, scared stiff? Was he no more than a garden-variety budding criminal, stealing what he could where he could because he could?

I noticed that I assumed he was poor, since he said he "needed" the bike. Are the poor truly more often criminals than the rich? Are they caught more often? Do we assume that the poor have less moral compunction when opportunity comes their way?

I noticed that my image of him was a young man of color. Beyond the obvious, which is that Austin--our border Chicago area--is 90% African American, does this mean I assume criminals are more likely to be black? Do I assume a lack of values that is somehow transmuted with skin color?

It's 9:30p now, and my mind has grown tired of the tossing. Somehow, hearing this one sentence fleshed out a character for me. In the end, the character I grew to know better was my own.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Thing One. I'm riding my bike this summer. Oh, every summer I dutifully resolve to ride my bike more often. I have a green friend (that should probably be a friend who is green, but I enjoy the visual) who rides extensively, and who has encouraged me to join her. And every summer I ride some, to great acclaim. You'd think I was personally saving the earth, given the enthusiastic response to seeing me on my bike.

In large part, I believe the response is guilt-driven. "Oh, I should be riding my bike like you are." We all know that we "should". But it doesn't seem very convenient or we have various excuses or we just plain don't like to arrive at meetings all sweaty with hat hair.

I'm with you. Of course, because I'm a woman of a certain age, I arrive conveniently sweaty no matter how fast I ride. I can hot flash on demand as well as when I'd least like to. :-) So arriving in a state of dishabille as I try to cool down is common for me, bike or not.

But I suffer guilt pangs. And, worse, I suffer pocketbook pangs. Do the math. One income. Four people. College tuition. Oak Park prices for food and gas. The guilt pangs made me ride every few weeks. The pocketbook pangs, well, I find them infinitely more motivating.

If you're interested in joining me, there's a great article here about making riding on a regular basis more practical.

Thing Two. About my pocketbook. Actually, I don't carry a pocketbook. At least, I don't think I do. I carry a kind of wallet thingy. And about my wallet thingy. It's slimmer than I'd like it to be these days. Why? Because the oil companies have made a half a trillion in profits since Bush came into office. In addition, US tax payers are supplementing that profit with tax breaks to the tune of $17 million a year.

The US is hardly alone in paying through the nose for gas. We've been quite lucky compared to Europe, where gas has been routinely $8 to $9 a gallon for years. And many conservationists feel the only way to get average Joe American to cut back on their oil consumption is by these very types of prohibitive costs. But it ticks me off to make my wallet slimmer while oil companies profit in such record amounts assisted by our tax dollars.

So how what's with Senate Republicans refusing to approve the proposed windfall tax profit and ending the tax breaks? It is amazing that intelligent people can actually suggest without snickering at this point that the solution to the oil crisis is increased domestic production rather than less corporate profits and reduced consumption. Republicans must think we're really stupid.

Are we really stupid?

On that note . . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wandering through wondering about that Veep . . . .

Democratic Veep, of course. There is no one of redemptive value on the GOP side who will fix THAT ticket. Not that I'm biased or anything. Oh, no.

I'd actually prefer we spend the time between now and the convention comparing Obama to McCain. More amusing, less divisive. And the likelihood that either Obama or McCain will choose someone who will be a major influence in the White House is small. Neither of them needs a Cheney. But Big Media has dictated otherwise and prefers to inflame and incite further rivalry among Democrats by focusing on VP. I'll play along, mostly because I enjoy reading character studies. (Obviously, I need to get out more.)

Character dictates I remove Hillary Clinton from my list of acceptable candidates before I consider anyone else. Yes, primary candidates always beat up on one another. No crime there. But Clinton drew a line in the sand over which Obama should not cross: her infamous statements clearly implying that McCain would be a better president than Obama. Why would Obama hand McCain such a weapon?

And, even if the latest Vanity Fair article is bullhockey, no sane presidential candidate would want to run with Bill flitting about in the wings. Loose cannons sink ships even more quickly than do loose lips.

Even ignoring these two fatal flaws, Clinton has never fully stepped away from her vote for the war. Obama needs someone who has been against the war from the beginning or who clearly and firmly rejects any previous stance for the war.
He is too clearly an anti-war candidate, in stark contrast to McCain, to take on Hillary's baggage in this area.

So who sounds like a good match? Edwards would be my obvious choice, though he's apparently rejected the role out of hand. Bummer. I think my top candidates at this point would be Chris Dodd and Brian Schweitzer and maybe Kathleen Sebelius.

I'll give you one good reason for each before I run off to watch Countdown.

1. Chris Dodd was one of the few who had the guts to vote against funding the surge in 2007.

2. Brian Schweitzer has been the very model of a modern major green governor, pushing heavily for requiring alternative energy sources.

3. Kathleen Sebelius could be a great leader in health care reform, given her experience in doing so in Kansas and her ability to work both sides of the aisle.

More tomorrow,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Back in the saddle?

I've been told by several friends, in no uncertain terms, that I need to start writing again. Though not having a huge people-pleasing complex, I would like to comply. Yet summer has never been my best writing season. No routine. Too much progeny in the immediate area. Halcyon days and gently rustling evenings. All pull me away from the computer.

And, really, can you blame me? Even in its current motley state, my back yard is invitingly verdant. It's been storming on and off all day, leaving the trees and hostas a rich green that only early summer wears. Who wants to stare at fonts and words and think when you can daydream and drift or even enjoy being fully present? Not I, said the little red hen.

But a bit of discipline is good for me. So here I am, typing instead of reading or gazing or knitting. Carl is watching a music video--and you know I don't mean VH1, right? I think it's Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. He is reveling in a bit of extra time now that our new Cantor has arrived, freeing him from church work somewhat.

Jon is, unsurprisingly, playing a video game. He plays altogether too many of them for my tastes. At 20, I don't choose to exercise much control over that any more. He needs to find his own path. I am, however, putting him to work in the house this summer. He (and Annie) will be cooking one dinner per week, in addition to doing a couple of loads of laundry a week. Responsibility and pitching in are good things.

Annie is on a date. In a car. That she drove. With a boy in it. It's a whole new world, having a 16 year old who became a licensed driver just today. She is thrilled to have a license, which is sweet to see, as she's had a pretty lousy spring. I hope she will have a relaxing summer that renews her spirit and fills her with a bit of joy.

Speaking of a renewed spirit, I find my obsession with politics newly piqued due to Clinton's speech today. It's about time the Hillary I used to admire showed up. She convincingly both pledged her full support to Obama and pleaded with her supporters to do so. She argued forcefully for a united party of Democrats to fight for feminism, universal health care, and an end to the war.

Clinton said, "Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next President and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort."

For all we might have kidded ourselves in the heat of the primary battles, John McCain is no choice at all for those who care about civil rights and liberties, the lives of Americans and Iraqis, and the health and welfare of the poor and middle class of our country. Can we fix what is wrong with the US? Yes, we can.

Have a lovely evening,