Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You are different from me, so let's not be friends!

This election season, which pretty much started 3 years ago, has been particularly contentious. I can't believe we have another almost 7 months until the general election and then another almost 3 more months until the inauguration. Lord, help us.

But what bothers me even more than the bitterness, hate, and name-calling is when people say things like this on Facebook:
"If you support _____, unfriend me right now." 

If you have just met me or read my blog for the first time, the best way I can describe myself is a liberal Republican. Facebook reminded me a few days ago that my hubby had called me a "bleeding heart liberal" 2 years ago. Not surprisingly, my liberal friends were pleased and said things like "what a compliment" and "thank him." In fact, only one conservative friend made a comment, which was "If the shoe fits..."

As I have said several times here, my (somewhat confusing and conflicted) political leanings often put me on my own island. Alone. By myself. Some of my liberal and conservative friends are truly bothered by me because I am not what they are (I am pretty much like no one!) In fact, a few friends in those camps have unfriended me, most likely for those reasons.

But here is the thing: my politics don't define me as a person. 

I am an honest, ethical, hard-working, fast-talking, loyal, procrastinating, caring, sensitive, church-going, faith-wavering, open-minded, sports-loving (Steelers, Pens, Penn State, Pitt, Pirates), worrying, second-chance-giving, cluttered, pro-life, information-seeking person

I am 99 percent sure I am not going to vote for Trump. I won't say 100 percent because almost everyone I have supported is no longer in the running, and, for various reasons, I will not vote for Hillary if she is the last Democrat standing. But more likely, I will just write someone in come November. Wasted vote? Maybe. But (I hope) it feels better to vote my conscience. 

I can see merits of every candidate. I mean that (but some more than most). Even Donald, whom I do not care for in the least. I get why people support him, Bernie, Hillary, Cruz, and Kasich. Some reasons seem a little misguided and frightening, but some reasons are logical.

If people want to defriend (or stop being friends with someone IRL) because of their politics more so than how they are as a person, I cannot get behind that. Sure, if someone is a Donald supporter and is spewing hate, then don't be friends with them. But if you like Sally, are you willing to give up your 20-year friendship with her just because she is conservative and won't vote for a Democrat? Or just because Mikey thinks Bernie is the second coming of Jesus, are you going to ditch him just because you despised the Affordable Care Ac?

I want to understand the rationale, but I don't. Maybe someone can help a sister out.

Until then, I will do the exact opposite of my post title.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Racism, prejudice, entitlement, and saying the wrong things

Simple Definition of RACISM
• : poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race
• : the belief that some races of people are better than others
 

Simple Definition of PREJUDICE
• : an unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, etc.
• : a feeling of like or dislike for someone or something especially when it is not reasonable or logical


I certainly don't treat anyone poorly or commit acts of violence against them because of their race. I don't think one race (or my race) is better than others. And I do not have a feeling of dislike for anyone or any group, other than litterers, drug dealers (of the hard stuff; not marijuana), and murderers. But I can tell you that great disdain for those three groups is not based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. It is all about the actions of those people, and I certainly don't think it is unreasonable or illogical to feel that way about people who do disgusting things.

But, in light of the Wendy Bell WTAE firestorm (based on many comments), I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that I am not somewhat prejudiced or racist (whichever causes me to avoid questionable neighborhoods at night). In fact, I think many people are and may not realize it.

I am not talking about the hateful kind. The kind that causes, for example, a white person to say he would never date or befriend a black person. The kind that presumes if someone in the city was shot, that a black person must have done it. The kind that refuses to let any Muslims in the country because they are probably terrorists.

No, I am talking about the type where we as white people don't think before we speak and make assumptions. And, yes, I am generalizing here. And honestly I am confused by what exactly qualifies as racism or prejudice.

I don't know WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell personally. But the wording and descriptions she used in a recent (since deleted, but easily found) FB post could be construed as racist. I don't think she meant it in a negative way. I am pretty certain she was speaking her heart, as she seems to do in her posts. And the reason I say "construed" is because I just don't believe Wendy comes from a hateful place. That said, I was shocked by her wording. It was offensive and condescending to many and understandably so. You cannot and should not presume that whoever murdered those six people and shot three others can be described this way, as she did:

You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. I will tell you they live within 5 miles of Franklin Avenue and Ardmore Boulevard and have been hiding out since in a home likely much closer to that backyard patio than anyone thinks. They are young black men, likely teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested. They’ve made the circuit and nothing has scared them enough.

About the only thing you could presume, and I still would not, and she certainly should not say it, is that whoever murdered those people have committed other crimes. I am no expert on criminal behavior, but I am pretty sure a nice, law-abiding person just does not walk into a backyard cookout and shoot nine people, six of them dead, as his or her first crime. Just as it is highly unlikely (though not impossible) that someone sticks a needle full of heroin in her vein as an entry into drug use.

Yes, Wendy has freedom of speech, but a person in the media, particularly one whose FB "name" includes her TV station, should not say that. Maybe statistically it is likely that the two shooters are black. If one presumes that people tend to hang out with their own race, then it is more than likely that the shooters were black. (Again, I am generalizing and making presumptions). But she took it a bit too far, particularly breaking down the family dynamic. And to the people who said, "If the shooters turn out to be black thugs who have committed other crimes and have multiple half-siblings, then the anti-Wendy people better apologize." I disagree. And I don't even care that some black people, including some black clergy people, have stood up for her choice of wording. 

I know of four people who sold drugs and have gone to jail for it. All are white, two males and two females (two of the females dated one of the males; one of the females has since died from drugs). I don't presume all drug dealers are white just because that is pretty much all I know. It just stands to reason that I would not know too many black drug dealers since I know very few black people well. And I hope that is not a racist statement, but I am sure someone can find at least a hint of prejudice there. And I am saying from a place of just not knowing.

The other thing that Wendy said which might have even been more offensive (though not to me, but I think this comes back to my being white and not being stereotyped for my race) was her portrayal of the black teen who was working the restaurant where she and her family were. Again, I truly believe Wendy meant well in her post. She was trying to point out a positive example (and some people are so racist that they need this reminder) and to end her post on a more hopeful note.

But there is HOPE. And Joe and I caught a glimpse of it Saturday night. A young, African American teen hustling like nobody’s business at a restaurant we took the boys to over at the Southside Works. This child stacked heavy glass glasses 10 high and carried three teetering towers of them in one hand with plates piled high in the other. He wiped off the tables. Tended to the chairs. Got down on his hands and knees to pick up the scraps that had fallen to the floor. And he did all this with a rhythm and a step that gushed positivity. He moved like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s going to Make It. ...

It will be some time before I forget the smile that beamed across that young worker’s face — or the look in his eyes as we caught each other’s gaze. I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special.

I can say that I needed people to show me what was wrong with that description. I am sorry I did not get it before, as I was focused on a positive story, but I get it now. "Hustling" and "rhythm" and "moved like a dancer" may not have been the best word choices given black stereotypes, and I can see where people may think the "down on his hands and knees" comment was emblematic of being a servant. And if I were a black mother, I would probably be upset that a white mother would presume my child was not made to feel special, that I needed a white person to do it. But as offensive and stereoptyipcal as those statements may have been, I just don't think they come from a place of hate. They were not appropriate, and she should have apologized for them, which she, more or less, did (many have argued that saying you are sorry if someone viewed what you wrote was racist is not an apology). 

But when does it end? What does she have to do? I have read horrible comments from people who have said hateful things about Wendy. She did not murder anyone. If you have read other posts of hers, I think you would see she is genuinely caring and open (perhaps too so, but I am like that) person. I know someone who is friends with her. I can go only on what she said, and I won't go into specifics, but it seems to confirm my opinion.

To the last part of my title: Lately, I find myself worrying if my choice of words will offend someone. I think that is a big problem today: Someone is bound to be offended. I rewrote quite a bit of this post, for fear of offending someone. And if more than a few people came here, I am certain at least four things I said would be offensive to someone, even though that is not my intention. I am a kind, open-minded person. I don't try to incite hate or negativity as so many people seem to do (though as a Catholic, registered Republican, Penn State alum, I have experienced vitriol, indirectly and directly). And I guess that is why I find myself mostly defending Wendy.

When I was in college, before people had cell phones or email, I sent Christmas cards to all my close friends including someone who was Jewish. I was not that religious, so you can bet the card did not reference Jesus, but Christ is in Christmas, so...  Anyway, I still can remember my Jewish friend laying into me when we returned from winter break. I remember how belittled and embarrassed I felt. I don't recall how I reacted. But I never made that mistake again. I was just trying to include the friend, but it backfired.

Sometimes we, as humans, may have the best intentions, but due to ignorance, insensitivity, or lack of experience (on either party), things may not come off or out as we intended. 

I will try harder to put myself in others' positions, knowing I may not be able to successfully do so, mostly because I have not lived it. But I will also try to be more forgiving and understanding. Something I think many of us could benefit from.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

I'm glad that is over with!

This past Monday, I officially became (one of the things) I had wanted to for my last two car purchases: a Subaru Forester owner. :-)

I wish I could recall what made me want to own one, way back in 1999, just before I had bought my (used) Ford Explorer. At that time, I was down to a Honda CRV and a Subaru Forester, but the latter was going to be more expensive to insure, so I nixed it. Plus the Forester was boxy, so I don't know what the appeal was. In any event, the dealership I was dealing with did not have any CRVs in, and my lease was running out; then the Explorer presented itself. It was a good (large) car that served me well for many years. But then repairs started to pile up, and I started searching again. This time, I was down to, once again, a Subaru Forester, which was slightly less boxy, but still not "pretty," and a Hyundai Santa Fe and a Tucson. When Saturn offered 0% financing for 5 years for a Vue, I moved that car up from #5 to #1. It too served me well for many years.

My original plan was to keep the Vue for 10 years. But, as with my previous car, I was starting to put $$ into it, and the car was approaching 100k. And even though my mechanic found nothing wrong with my car when I had it inspected a few months ago, it continued to make noises. I figured the longer I waited, the less money I would get for my car, so I started to look, once again, at the Forester, which was now good looking! It is one of the safest cars, and the commercials get me every time.

So began a few weeks of intense searching for a used Forester, and along with it, much anxiety and stress, as I analyze (i.e., over-analyze) all purchases and often worry about money. Finding one with low mileage and a decent price was no easy task. I had nearly given up when I saw that the dealership (#1 Cochran) was offering 0% financing for 48 months on a new Forester or Legacy (the latter entered the race for that reason). Buying new was not appealing because of the depreciation factor, but considering how little Subarus seem to depreciate, I changed my tune. Plus, the last time I bought used, I had repairs before I finished making payments. (Lesson learned: Spread out your payments for no more than 3 years when you are buying used.)

I did more research, and I finally made it to the dealership last Saturday to test drive both models. I then had to decide between the two. The Legacy was a premium model (Heated seats! Heated side mirrors! Windshield wiper de-icer! Leather steering wheel!), so that tilted the odds in its favor, but I was not sure I could give up the height that comes with an SUV. But premium model! Then the hubs noticed the car was wider than the SUV. With my poor depth perception, I often struggled backing out of our garage, and scraped my mirrors more than once (my Vue was about an inch wider than the Explorer). Getting another car that was a 1/2" wider than my last one would not bode well for me. Once I realized the Forester was actually 1.5" less wide than the Vue, I knew my decision was made (though I was a little teary about giving up the "good stuff").

So, I told our no-pressure salesperson what I had decided, we talked about my trade-in, which was more than I expected, only thanks to a coupon that was missing fine print (which we had to fight for). The final price was slightly less than what edmunds.com suggested. (I very much appreciate the no-haggle policy: I think Cochran calls it "clear-cut pricing.") So I signed on the dotted line. Unfortunately, the dealership finance department was backed up, and I had to come back two days later to sign papers since I had some where to be. But they did let me keep the car in between, which was surprising to me (I think they felt bad that I had an appointment, and I was there 3 hours). The worrier that I am, I fretted that someone would steal my identity over the weekend and/or that my credit was not as stellar as I thought.

But when I came back in on Monday, much to my relief, all was in line. In fact, my lowest score was 838 and my highest was 870, which is all that and a bag of chips! So I am a Subaru owner! There are some things I need to get used to, including having to lock my doors and not having a leather steering wheel (never thought I would miss that). But I very much love having a backup camera and being able to talk on the phone via my car. But truly the best thing is feeling safe. Such an upgrade from a plastic car with only two airbags. 

Just don't tell Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey that I bought new (but buying for 4 years instead of 5 might buy me a little of their forgiveness). I'd like to think they would appreciate my good reasons for doing so. :-). 



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Second chances and bad decisions

I've been thinking about second chances and drugs a bit lately. This has been mostly spurred by the HONY series on inmates. I find  a lot of their stories to be fascinating, and in many cases I feel sorry for them, even empathetic. Some of those people were dealt a bad hand in life. Others got caught up in a lifestyle. One guy justified his actions (dealing drugs) by his giving neighborhood kids money for the movies and helping someone pay a bill. Robin Hood of the hood!

I also watch the show Pit Bulls and Parolees. I find myself rooting for the guys there too. I want them to do the right thing. And I think most of them will. 

But it is so easy, I imagine, to fall back into the fast lifestyle. When you can make hundreds or thousand of dollars a day working just a few hours, slinging burgers for $7.25/hour for 6 to 8 hours a day seems a lot less appealing. And the addiction. I know how difficult it is for me to not eat sweets or to stop biting my lips and my nails. I can only imagine what addicts must face on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Honestly, after seeing a couple of relatives go through it, for the most part I believe it is when, not if, they will go back to it.

When I see some parolee on that show saying he wants to turn his life around, I often say out loud, "Do the right thing. Make good decisions." I always watch the show with my kid, who is a sensitive soul, with a huge place in her heart for animals. I typically remind her of the poor decisions these guys have made, but that they are trying to turn their lives around. Seeing Joe in yesterday's episode provided a good cautionary tale; during his drug-dealing days, he was shot at in a car dozens of times and lost an eye. But we have relatives who have done things and have allowed me to give my child some excellent examples of how drugs can ruin your life. I can only hope and pray the lessons take.

These are things that I think about, particularly as my child is hurtling towards the teenage years and my not having a clue as to where she will go to high school or who her friends will be. I think about drugs because they are in the news so much. Part of me wants marijuana to be legal because it does not seem to warrant prison, most of which are already overcrowded. And I don't think it is particularly dangerous; most people I know who smoke do it to relax. You just don't read about people who have died from smoking a joint. 

Yet people who do or did hardcore drugs did not start by sticking a needle in their arms. My one relative started with weed. Unfortunately it did not end there. 

So as with most everything in my life, I have mixed feelings about this and no answers. I don't know how to get people not to buy, use, sell, or get off drugs. I just have to hope it lessens, and hope even more it does not hit home. And I am still going to forgive and give people second (and sometimes third) chances. Especially people I care about. But I know people fall back to their old ways and/or may not deserve the chance to begin with. But that is life. At least the one I am living in.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

So much to say, and yet nothing really

Another month has passed without my blogging. I (sometimes) long for the days when I would blog several times  a week. I am just in a weird place now, and I am not sure blogging will help. Plus with the rather boring life I lead, there really is not much to say. But I will try to say a few things that are on my mind.

The Steelers are the playoffs! I used to be so excited by that. And I am still a little. I will certainly be watching the game. I am wearing my Hines jersey as we speak. But I no longer get really worked up by a game. I don't cry when my team loses a big game. I no longer post a lot about the Steelers as I used to on Facebook and a little on here. This season is the second in a row I did not go to a single game, which is now my longest streak. My family got season tickets when I was in high school (can't remember when). I went to a game or two a year then. In college, I probably went to only one per year. Once I graduated and up until I had Jordan 10 years later, I went to the majority. But she came, and she became my priority, and tickets kept going up and up. I think our seats are now $105 per ticket, maybe more. Throw in parking and food, and that is a pretty expensive day. I can take Jordan to a Pittsburgh Musical Theater show with either my Pitt discount or a Groupon and spend between $20 and $60 for both of us. Live theater is great. Football on HD TV is pretty good too. :-)

My kid is growing up. I still mostly hate that. I definitely hate the mouthiness and moodiness. We are starting to leave her alone for periods of time. Also very difficult. I worry. So much. But I am getting better about her spending the night elsewhere. So there is that. And I still regret, pretty much weekly, that J has no siblings. I really don't want another child (at 44, that ship has sailed). But I know it bothers J she is an only child. It makes me sad that she will never know what it is like to grow up with a sibling or have a sibling relationship as an adult.

I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. But I am actually fairly okay with that. I think I have finally come to accept/realize that life is unpredictable and nothing is written in stone. And if I am doing something different next year, and a thing different from that in 5 more years, that is okay. I would very much like to stay at my job for a number of reasons (not the least of which is J would have her college paid for), but if my org does not get the funding it needs/the restructuring does not go as planned, come this summer, I will have to figure out what I want to do for the next chapter of my life. Which could be a few months, a few years, or even a few decades. But I will just see how it all goes (and think about it when I lie awake at night).

So there you have it. I wrote a post. Probably won't be back here for another month, and that is okay. It has to be.

Go Steelers (and Pens, who also play tonight, but will take a back set to football after about a period and a half)!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's becoming too common

For the second Sunday in three, during the "Prayers of the Faithful" at mass, we prayed for victims of something. Two weeks ago, it was the Paris attack. Today it was for the shooting in San Bernadino. Each time, I find my eyes welling with tears.

When will it stop? Pretty sure not in my lifetime, unfortunately.

As with so many other arguments, I get both sides of the gun debate. But at this point, shouldn't we at least try to have stricter gun control? A gun can kill. I don't think it should be a big deal if someone has to wait in line for a couple of hours, take some tests (like a driver's license), and have their background looked into. As I write this, I think it is pretty clear that I have no idea what is involved in getting a gun. I realize my suggestion would make buying a gun at a gun show a little challenging and maybe impossible, but whatever we are doing now is not working.

I also don't understand (and I have said this before, in this very blog) why people need to have assault weapons. If you want a handgun or a rifle for protection or because you like to hunt, fine. But why does some regular Joe or regular Jane need a semiautomatic weapon? Again, I realize I don't know much about guns, and maybe someone will come here and explain to me the different types and why I might want one of those guns.

I admit, I am scared of guns. I have no desire to hold one. I most definitely do not want to use one. And no one will ever get me to their side of the argument that says "if one person would have had a gun on his person, he could have shot the mass shooter." Maybe that regular Joe could have stopped a shooter in that situation, but innocent people could also be shot by the regular Joe. The police could shoot the regular Joe, not realizing he is trying to stop the shooter. There are so many variables. Advocating for teachers in classrooms and students on campus to carry concealed weapons is so scary a thought to me. But, at the same time, I am pretty sure that every week I am in the presence of someone who is legally packing heat, and, so far, nothing has happened.

Someone said this so much better than I can or will. But the larger problem is that something is so wrong with someone who shoots multiple people, particularly in a more public setting. I can understand (though I am certain I would never do it) someone who shoots someone else in anger. But to actually plan for an attack, carry it out, and keep shooting (or stabbing) multiple people? There is something so broken in that person. That is scary. How do we solve that?

Friday, November 20, 2015

The well-written post (in my head)

I wrote a pretty good post in my head the other day. I have been going back and forth about the whole ISIS-Syrian refugee thing, and I thought I had finally landed in one place. But that gem went right out of my head, as do so many other thoughts, sadly.

So I am just going to bullet point things as they come to my mind, in no particular order.
  • My grandmother was Syrian (my dad was adopted); she came here with her parents when she was 2. I grew up with many Syrian relatives, though at the time I did not think of them in terms of their ethnicity. I also very much like what is considered a Mediterranean takeout place in my hood. The owner is Syrian. I like to pretend I am hanging out with my long-gone great aunts and uncles when I am there. I just wish he made kibbeh the same way Grandma did. I can't seem to find that anywhere. Sorry, but not sorry, but I can't hate Syrians (or anyone). 
  • I have a good friend who is Muslim. I won't hate those people either (or anyone).
  • I do, however, get that people are scared of terrorists bombing, shooting, etc. Some days I worry. Most days I don't. I have become quite desensitized thanks to my spending way too much time on FB and reading too many posts.
  • And I can also get people who are skeptical of people who fall under the above category. I try not to be that way. But when I drive home in the evenings through Homewood, one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, I get a little nervous when I see people who "look suspicious" (which is often anyone other than a woman or child). And if I see a guy with a pit bull, I definitely worry (which is sad because our dog Sadie was a pit bull).
  • I don't think people should denigrate those who are afraid. The fear seems legitimate. As long as it does not cross into hatred.
  • I am for some type of screening for refugees. I don't think you should let anyone come into your country. 
  • That said, I fully realize that just because you screen someone that does not mean that person won't do bad things. But that also does not mean we should not try. I feel a similar way about gun control. It seems that the "bad guys" often seem to slip through the cracks (often by stealing weapons). But I still think we need to make it tough to get a gun. 
  • I read a post today about the screening process. If I find it, I will link it. Not easy at all. 
  • My heart breaks when I read stories about refugees who have suffered horrifically in their home countries and on their way out (e.g., HONY). It is hard not to feel compassion. I don't want to turn those people away.
  • But I also understand the people who complain that so many people here, including vets, are homeless. It is hard to justify letting more people in when we have many right here, right now who are sleeping on the streets or, at the very least, are well below the poverty line.
  • I am pro-life in every sense of the word. I don't support abortion, the death penalty, or killing in wars. But I understand people who do support any and all of those things. There are legitimate arguments. I can, at the very least, accept that a terrorist might have to die. You cannot negotiate with those people. It is the collateral damage that bothers me. Immensely.
I don't think there is any easy answer for any of these. But I do wish that people in general would stop being so negative and cutting down the other side. How does that help? And I also wish for compassion and kindness. Those things can really go a long way. I would rather show kindness and compassion to others, even if it turns out that a few of those people did not deserve it. That seems so much better than hating and treating others with contempt, especially when so few people deserve that.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Time

Lately, I feel as if time is flying by. Going at warp speed. Days, weeks, sometimes even months seem to come and go. I am reminded of what an acquaintance said to me at a PSU event a couple of years ago about having a child: "The first 12 years don't go so fast. But the next 12 years fly by." Those were not his exact words, and I don't recall the number of years he was referring to. But his point was that once your kid is a teen (or thereabouts), watch out.

I have really noticed it the past year. I sometimes look at my kid, who is now almost 5'3" and in 7th grade, and I wonder how she became this preteen. Where is the little girl who begged me to play Barbies and babies with her all the time? Where is the girl whom I had to check her homework every night? Where is the girl that I had to help dress, give a bath to, brush her hair, etc. Where is my little preschooler who would say, "This is my best friend mommy"?

Now, I apparently know next to nothing. J certainly reminds of how I "must be deaf" pretty often. I am no longer her go-to person when she is not sure what to wear. The vast majority of the time she would rather play on her ipad and text her friends.

I get why people have several kids. I still regret, pretty much weekly, that I had just one. But it is becoming more and more obvious why people keep procreating. When I saw young kids in Home Depot today building something for the kid's workshop, I thought, my child will never do that again. I had to walk away, I was so sad.

My child will never be excited for Santa or the Easter Bunny the way she was for so many year.

This year was the first year we did not go the pumpkin patch. I hate it!

Time, please slow down. And if you wanted to dial back a few years, that would be fine by me.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

My happy place

My friend Mel wrote a post that resonated with me. I must take a trip back over there and comment on it. Because I so get it. I am a fretter (and, spell-check, I don't care if you don't think that is a word). I worry. I ponder. I worry some more. I often wait for the other shoe to drop, as she said.

But even though sometimes anxiety gets the best of me, I still continue to be a fairly optimistic person. I try to see the bright side. I count my blessings often. I take pleasure in little things, and I take pleasure in meaningless things. But whatever puts a smile on your face, so long as it is not a detriment to yourself and others, well, it can't be all that bad.

As I have posted about a handful of times, Phipps is my happy place. As I have also said a number of times, it was the best $75 I spent almost two years ago, and was again one of the best uses of $75 this past January (or maybe December) when I renewed.

I purchased a dual membership, which has allowed me to take several coworkers, my mom, my daughter, and a few friends. I tend to go about once every other month; I should go every month, considering I can walk there from work in about 12 minutes, have time to do a quick spin, and still get back to work having spent only a lunch hour.

My mom was in town for a quick visit this weekend. I took her to the Fall Flower Show, and it was, as usual, beautiful. Calming. Lovely. Tranquil. Awe-inspiring. Vibrant. It is my happy place.

The show runs for only another couple of weeks, but it is a nice one. I took about 20 pictures, and posted some below. I will probably go back one more time before the show ends. If you can't make it, enjoy these.

The East Room is my favorite room; nothing spectacular here; just nice

The water displays are one of my favorites in the Victoria Room

Just a cool-looking plant in one of the rooms



The Broderie Room (I wish you could walk among the paths)

The Desert Room is the least interesting to me, but that day I noticed, for the first time, a Joshua Tree

Rooftop Edible Garden

Sunken Gardens


Serpentine Room

Serpentine Room



Saturday, October 10, 2015

This will not be a draft!

For not the first, second, or third time, I have started a blog post and never finished it. In fact, since I have started this blog, I have begun 42 blog posts that I never completed. Probably half of them were pretty well formed, but either I could not pull the trigger (I felt I was sharing too much) or I just could not bring myself to finish it, for various reasons, including time, forgetfulness, or boredom with the subject.

This will not be draft 43!

As I have lamented here a couple of times in the past few years, I miss writing a regular blog post. It was therapeutic to get things out there, because I am fond of myself (mostly), I like sharing my opinion, and it was (or will be) great for my less-than-stellar memory. But I just don't have too many worthwhile things to say anymore. Mostly because I lead a pretty boring life. But also because I vacillate about too many things, which comes from being a liberal republican, if there is such a thing.

A few things have been weighing on my mind, and I don't have the energy or organized thought process to devote any length to them, so I will just bullet-point them and throw together a few sentences about each.

  • I have followed Humans of New York for a few months now. I think it is very heart-wrenching to think about what some of these people have gone through. I don't know what the answer is to help these people, and, yes, some refugees (or maybe just the people spilling into other countries) may be "bad" people. But if you read their stories, if you have any compassion, I don't know how it cannot affect you and, quite frankly, make you sad about the state of the world.
  • I have a lot of anxiety about where my kid is going to go to high school. We now have less than two years to figure it out, and it scares me. Our own school district is not an option. Unless something short of a bag of money falls into our laps, Catholic high school is not an option either ($12,500 per year is insane, IMO). Selling our house and not losing money seems unlikely, and with both of our tenuous job situations, I don't think we can go that route. So I worry.
  •  Most of the time, I just don't get people. I realize we are all not meant to get along with everyone; we gel with different people, due mostly to interests, values, and personalities. But as naive as it sounds, I don't know why there has to be so much negativity, unfriendliness, self-absorption, and just a lack of compassion or empathy. I try to get along with everyone. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try not to waste my energy on hate, anger, and resentment. And I am successful a lot (not all!) of the time. I wish more people could see the merits in that. You know, because life is short. And, as Don Henley sang, "If you keep carrying all the anger, it will eat you up inside."
That is all.