An unusual morning

As usual, the alarm clock woke me up this morning before I was really ready to wake up.

As usual, I stumbled into some shoes and took the dog out for a walk:  it was darker than usual, which I  attributed to the cloudy weather.

As usual, I donned my work-out clothes and loaded my work clothes, laptop and other items that I would need today into the car.

As usual, I headed to the Transformation Center, where I work out three mornings a week before work.  The traffic seemed lighter than usual. Lucky me!

As usual, the parking lot was fairly full and music pumped loudly out the open window of the early morning Bootcamp class.

As usual, I grabbed my stuff and headed up the stairs, into the locker room to stash my items and change my shoes.

As usual, I filled up my water bottle and headed back to the room where my 6:45 Fit Over Fifty class is held.  At the doorway I stopped short, as there was another class underway with an instructor I did not recognize with a group of sweaty participants that I also did not recognize.

The truth came on me in a flash:  It was 5:45 … not 6:45 in the morning. After a few moments of chastising myself and retroactively fitting in the puzzle pieces from other clues in the morning, I concluded that there had been a serious user error when I set my alarm clock the evening before (an error I have since confirmed), resulting in setting the clock ahead by an hour.   In the IT Biz we have an acronym for this type of event:  PICNIC (Problem in Chair not in Computer/Clock).

I spent my bonus hour sitting in Starbucks sipping a plain coffee, writing this blog, choosing to savor my own personal doubling-down on daylight savings time… if only for a day.

We will see whether I am still smiling over my error when I play tennis at 7:15 pm tonight…  perhaps I will need another infusion of coffee at 5:45 pm as well.

Small Things Matter

Today, I am particularly nostalgic for the Obama’s grace and class.  Barack and Michelle always treated each other with respect and love.  In contrast, The D rarely misses an opportunity to display his  boorishness and lack of common decency.

The D consistently ignores Melania and leaves her to her own devices when going from Point A to Point B, as recently depicted in their exit from AirForce One, which is in sharp contrast to the more congenial descents of other first couples.

Monday, the D flung some poor kid’s hat into the crowd after signing it at the hastily organized White House Easter egg roll–He essentially stole some kids hat to fling into the crowd.  He also failed to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, until Melanie gave him a poke.

The D recently took to Twitter to defend former Fox-News pundit, Bill O’Reilly –days before O’Reilly was fired due to a egregious pattern of sexual harassment towards female colleagues.  O’Reilly and The D personify the despicable old-boy mindset that any women is fair game to be ogled and groped; or insulted if they are deemed too unattractive to ‘deserve’ their revolting advances.

To me, his outright refusal to shake hands with Angela Merkel remains as a low point in a very deep well of boorish behavior.  Although–perhaps being ignored when offering a handshake is preferred over enduring the bizarre hurky-jerky, wood -sawing motion of the D’s handshake.

In addition to his astonishing misogeny, the list of character flaws is long. The D is absurdly vain and self-centered; frequently going off-script to congratulate himself and/or nonsensically describe how awesome he is;  with  forehead-smacking results.

During an appearance with the Italian prime Minister, the D referred to the great opera tenor, Pavarotti, as his great friend:  despite the fact that Pavarotti has been dead for 10 years:  Perhaps they used to party with Fredrick Douglass, another great (and deceased) friend of The D’s.

The D is too thin-skinned to attend the up-coming White House Correspondence Dinner.  (On a side note:  Women were not allowed to attend the dinner until 1962, when a persistent (and probably nasty) woman by the name of Helen Thomas raised a ruckus about it.)

Individually, some of these events are merely fodder for a national eye-roll.  As a whole, a picture emerges of a leader who lacks basic emotional intelligence and is unable to feel empathy or respect for others.

I have a personal litmus test I use when gauging how responsible or trustworthy someone is.  My conclusion for The D is:  No, I would not trust him to feed my cat.

 

 

Orange is the new Crack

 

Addiction can come in many forms. I am addicted to Sudoku– it started as a harmless hobby, but has become an addiction that interferes with important life activities, such as blogging and sleeping.  So far, the only people harmed are myself, my husband and my doggie—who looks at me beseechingly, wanting to play, while I embark on ‘just one more game’ on my I-Pad.

The D’s regime administration feeds upon the addict-like zealous support among his passionate faithful. (For new readers, I refer to #45 as ‘the D’, since I got tired of typing “he who shall not be named”).    Like addicts everywhere, his true believers are adept at rationalizing bizarre, cruel, unlawful and unprecedented presidential behavior; without regard for consequences or impacts to others—anything to feed the insatiable power-lust of their leader.

His supporters regularly rally against their own best interests in support of policies that will strip away health care, transfer even more wealth to the 1%, destroy our environment, erode human rights, and ensure the proliferation of ignorance by compromising the education of our children.  Like addicts (and following their leader’s example) they will find others to blame—specifically Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Addicts can only be cured once they admit they have a problem; which is unlikely to happen with the dial set to Fox News 24/7.

Yet—who am I to judge?   My own ‘dial’ is set permanently to the Huffington Post and similar news feeds.  Am I equally blind to rational points of view that differ from my own knee-jerk reaction to oppose all things Trump?   Am I capable of objectivity, or am I so completely outraged that I will be unable to recognize it if and when The D does something decent?

This is a marathon.  It is important to take breaks periodically to regroup, re-center, and assure that we maintain the will, the energy and the humanity to continue without burning out; without losing sight of what we are fighting FOR, and without becoming the flip side of the orange demagogue that we rail against.

Orange is the new crack – Don’t lose yourself in the fight.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Life

Last night we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday.  The extended family of 24 souls ranged from 18 months ‘old’ to 90 years ‘young’.

It was an inter-generational gathering of people with a great deal of shared history.  The grand-children (Most are now in their 20s and 30s) shared memories of childhood fishing trips up north with Grandma and grandpa–simple times ‘away from it all’ that they clearly still treasure.  My son, Ben, shared that grandpa knew the secret to beating him at chess… all he had to do was turn on the TV to distract his grandson.

My siblings and I shared memories of dad teaching us many things: to drive, hunt, play checkers, deal with adversity and more. Incidents from our youth and adolescence were  told from multiple perspectives.   MY memories as a then 10 year-old the morning ‘after’ one of big brother Doug’s escapades was something like this:

  • Why does Doug have a big bandage on his head?
  • Where is the Maverick (its was a car – in our case, a very bright yellow car)?
  • Why is dad so mad?

Doug’s memories of that incident were reminiscent of a time when the local police force was more tolerant of underage drinking.

The young and energetic great-grands were wound up with excitement and sugar, careening around the private party room with abandon–contributing greatly to the general merriment. At one point, we were grateful to have a couple nurses in our midst… let’s just say that blood is thicker than water.

We all felt mom’s presence as we looked at old photos and reminisced over our childhoods; prompted by many pre-digital, dog-eared photos, many of which look absolutely ancient to the grandkids–primarily due to the styles of the day (some of us REALLY got into the big hair and glasses of the 70s and 80s)!

We hope dad has many years with us– after a rough couple years, he is doing well physically, and remains mentally sharp.  Last night was a reminder to all of us of how lucky all are to have him, and each other, in our lives.

 

Tennis Blues

I am on an over-40 USTA tennis league.  As someone who is considerably over 40, I am tempted to check the IDs of many of the women that we’ve been playing against, because they are suspiciously agile and speedy. I’m getting a little tired of those peppy 41 year olds dashing around the courts smacking the balls into unreachable corners at unreasonable rates of speed.

I would like to propose a league where there is both a minimum age, and a maximum foot speed.  This would be a more mindful, enjoy-the-moment, kinder brand of tennis; that permits the time to stop and appreciate a good shot, without having to hustle back into position for the return shot.

This year I volunteered to play singles on the over-40 league, since most prefer to play doubles.  I proceeded to lose three straight singles matches in third-set tie-breaks.  For those of you who are not familiar with tennis scoring –these are close matches that have gone into the tennis equivalent of overtime.  It’s really pissing me off.

It almost felt good to lose a fourth match without playing a tie-break.  The (allegedly) 40 year old opponent won because she is a stronger player;  not because I had a mental lapse and blew yet another match that I coulda/shoulda won.

I am sure it’s just coincidence, but I haven’t won a USTA match since Trump has taken office.

Ding Dong, The Bill is Dead!

(Sung to the tune of Ding, Dong! The witch is dead–from the Wizard of Oz)

Ding, Dong! The Bill is dead. Which old bill? The Trump Care Bill!
Ding, dong! The wicked bill is dead.

Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Bill is dead. It’s gone where the Crap bills go,
Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Bill is dead!

As a legally registered voter, in the country that we all love
I welcome this failure most regally.
But we’ve got to verify it legally, to see
To see?
If the GOP; Is morally, ethic’lly,
Spiritually, politically,
Positively, absolutely
Undeniably and dangerously Inept.

As a pundit, I must opine, I thoroughly examined them;
And the GOP’s not just inept, they are really most sincerely inept.

Then this is a day of celebration for all who Care.
Yes, let the joyous news be spread ; The wicked bad BILL for now is dead!

 

Cracks in the Orange Veneer

It has been a rough week for The D.  Despite having slept or tweeted through basic civics lessons and intelligence briefings he is learning the hard way that there really are three branches of government, and that his words and actions have consequences.

How disconcerting for The D to have his latest travel ban struck down, using his own words to interpret intent.   The D has been remarkably successful in avoiding any consequences associated with his outrageous statements and/or tweets.  However, this week, a ‘so-called’ judge from Hawaii referenced The D’s  own words to determine the intent of the travel ban as a way to prevent Muslims from entering the country.  (Yet another excellent reason to move to Hawaii.)

How troubling for The D to be criticized for his lack of evidence to support his tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping. The D does not feel it is necessary to validate any information he infers or gleans from cable news shows before tweeting misinformation to the world.  Prudence is not in The D’s vocabulary. He is the master of setting a ‘perception’ based on his own wishful thinking–perceptions which take hold in the minds of his faithful.  He never lets so-called ‘facts’ get in the way of his beliefs.  However, these tweets are being challenged on numerous fronts.

How upsetting for The D to have his name associated with the Alternative health care proposal put forth by Paul Ryan (a.k.a the Fourth Stooge).  This plan has been widely panned as Dead on Arrival and is opposed by hospitals, the AMA, Republicans and Democrats, AARP, and anyone who has in-depth knowledge of health care–including my  friend Jean.  (Who KNEW it could be so complicated??)

The Congressional Budget office (using a technique foreign to the current administration called ‘math’) determined that 14 million people would lose coverage in 2018 and 24 million people would lose coverage by 2020.

Certainly The D himself hasn’t demonstrated  enthusiasm for the plan; although on the campaign trail he promised a plan that would ‘cover everybody and be a fraction of the cost’.  Where is this magic pixie dust Donald?  I really want some!

How distressing for The D to be critized for his proposed budget and his outlandishly lavish spending at tax payer expense.  It is dismaying, but no real surprise that the proposed budget slashes popular programs such as Meals on Wheels, NPR, and the EPA.  Apparently, we cannot afford  meals for shut-ins, but we are shelling out millions for endless golf weekends at Mar-A-Lago (tax money that ends up going to The D himself, cause he owns the place), and $183 Million for Melania and Barron to continue to live in NYC.

Finally, The D closed the week by demonstrating a remarkable lack of class and grace by refusing to shake Angela Merkle’s hand.  What an ass.   It’s really embarrassing to be an American lately.

The good news is that some checks and balances are finally, belatedly, coming into focus.  Concerned Americans continue to speak up in vast numbers, Hard questions are being asked by the media, and investigations continue. Let’s hope the march towards some degree of sanity and accountability is just beginning–with more challenging weeks in the near  future for The D.

 

Insomnia and Blind Faith

It is the wee hours of the night.  My monkey-mind is keeping me awake, and I foolishly went to my FaceBook feed in an attempt to bore myself to sleep.  Bad move. I got sucked into a couple vicious political exchanges; which led to more pondering.

The D continues to have his faithful supporters.  They accuse his detractors of being overly critical.  One poster recently queried – what has he done that is so wrong?  Many replies articulately and calmly laid out an extensive inventory of  mis-steps, ridiculous tweets,  unconstitutional executive orders, lies, and more.  I will spare you the full run-down.

The defense provided by his supporters, including his appointed representatives as well as those on FB, are consistently a variation of this theme:  “Whatever… but the important thing is that The D is WAY better than    Obama — that guy was horrible! “. 

Somehow, this argument is used to justify anything and everything.  However, it is no argument at all–it is a transparent gas-lighting technique to avoid accountability by shifting the focus to another target or topic.  Any High School debator, worth their salt (or evidence cards) could see through that tactic.  And I speak from much nerdy debate experience.

The D is a master of this technique-never accepting any blame or acknowledging his mistakes by aggressively attacking and shifting blame to others. Obama is one of his favorite targets, along with most of the media, Nordstroms, immigrants, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Americans tend to be an emotional bunch–we make decisions and align our loyalties based on emotion. And, once we have made up our minds on something, no amount of factual information or ‘real news’ will sway us from our views.  Social media tailors our feeds to show us what we want to see–what we already agree with; while also giving us a false sense that we are keeping up with the ‘news’ .

We seem to turning into a post-fact society, where information is readily available, but facts are hard to discern. This is what keeps me up at night (as well as Stephen Colbert wicked monologues).   A charismatic candidate with a sound bite that resonates and lots of media exposure, can be elected without benefit of experience, credentials or actionable policies.  It does not bode well for our future.

And that is why an inexperienced, immature, vengeful and impulsive man has the nuclear codes.

It’s a wonder I sleep at all.

 

 

 

Single motherhood and empathy

Dan has been traveling for work for the last few weeks, which means I have been a single mom to our critters; a very independent and low-maintenance kitty and a ridiculously needy doggie.  My regular weekly schedule for working-out, working and playing tennis has been tough to sustain while tending to the needs of our attention hound.

The last few weeks have brought back memories of the years when I was a single working mother (to human children).  Then (as now) I was fortunate to have access to good day care and had family in the area to provide an occasional helping hand.  Even so– I remember the near-continuous sense of being pulled in multiple directions at once–there simply wasn’t enough of me to go around.

I recall the evening when son Ben announced at bed time that he needed 5 pounds of salt-clay for school…. tomorrow;  and mediating disputes by phone at work, because ‘Ben is such a butt-brain’. I honestly miss those days.

I recall the  married co-worker with one child, who had returned to work part-time.  She told me how hard it was to cope with all the demands on her time.  I stared at her in wonder and (it must be said) some jealousy, and retorted that if she subtracted the husband, added a child, and added another 24 or so hours to her work week, then she could commiserate with me.

In other words, I was a complete jerk.   Misery isn’t a contest… There is no prize for the person who has the most difficult life circumstances—-except for (maybe) a split-second of nasty smugness.  More importantly, we never truly know what a person is going through, even if we are familiar with their life circumstances.  Fast forward another 5 years and this same co-worker was a divorced, unemployed alcoholic.  Dang.

One of my personal mantras when I start feeling  sorry for myself is “You can visit Pity City, but you can’t live there”.  This mantra has served me well,  but for those suffering from debilitating mental illness, depression, addiction or other affliction, there is a deeper sense of despair that does not have a quick fix and cannot be remedied by a pep talk.

Guzzy’s eating disorder and recovery taught me a great deal about not judging others, being empathetic, and being grateful for small things.

Today – I am grateful that Dan is home for the weekend, and that no one needs any salt clay in the morning.

 

 

 

 

Rockin the Mall of America

It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and what better place to kick it off than the Mall of America?   The mall was rocking with over 1,000 walkers joining the fight against eating disorders.  The stage area was jam-packed and the intensity was high.
There were some Disney characters in attendance (although I highly doubt they were Disney-sanctioned; since several of them looked a bit frayed around the edges). In addition to several princesses, there was a very tall lanky version of Jack Sparrow, the efemminate pirate;  Guzzy and several other young ladies took selfies with the Johnny Depp look-alike.
I had a quick flash-back to the first time I attended a Twin Cities NEDA walk.  It was 3 days after my daughter, Guzzy, had been discharged from the Minneapolils Children’s hospital for life-saving treatment of her eating disorder.  This was in September 2013, before the walk moved to February, to coincide with the start of Eating Disorder Awareness week.   There were probably 150 of us huddled around a small stage for that walk, listening to a very technical (and exceptionally boring) speech by Guzzy’s psychiatrist.   The registration was unorganized and the ‘walk’ consisted of wandering around the inside amusement park.
From humble beginnings, great things can (and do) emerge.  I’m sure the organizers of that first walk had no idea that the Twin Cities walk would grow into the mega-event of last Sunday.
Standing in the Mall Sunday we found ourselves surrounded by an incredibly diverse crowd, many of whom were there to support a loved one:  a child, a parent, a sister, a brother, a friend, a lover, a spouse; we all came together in a demonstration of support and caring.
One of the speakers, Matt, shared his experience of going on a ‘field trip’ with other teens from his residential treatment program who were  wheel-chair bound.  On the bus to the destination, a few of the teens were comparing notes about what they would tell people if/when asked why they were in wheelchairs.  The plan was to tell people they had a heart condition– to avoid the stigma attached to having an eating disorder.   Matt had an ephiphany; why SHOULD they lie about their disease?  How can we begin to fight or destigmatize something if we cannot name it?
I admire Matt, Guzzy, Monica Seles, and the many others who are brave enough to NAME their illness and tell their stories; in hopes that others who may be suffering in the shadows, will find courage and hope in their words.
The 2017 Madison NEDA Walk  will be on Saturday, September 16th.  We haven’t set the program yet, but, maybe I can see if any of the Disney Princesses are available on that day.