Love and Reading

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin

It’s also my favorite thing about the internet – all of the people who thought they were alone and had no way to describe how they felt suddenly found they weren’t alone in the world.

The web’s not perfect, but for all of the bad stuff, there’s this. No matter what we’re going through, there’s someone out there who’s not only lived it, but written it down and shared it with the world, and we can go find it, and maybe a small bit of peace.

It’s In Every One of Us to Be Wise

It’s in every one of us\
To be wise\
Find your heart\
Open up both your eyes\
We can all know everything\
Without ever knowing why\
It’s in every one of us\
By and by\
It’s in every one of us\
To be wise\
Find your heart\
Open up both your eyes\
We can all know everything\
Without ever knowing why\
It’s in every one of us\
By and by\
By and by

from It’s In Every One of Us by David Pomeranz\
I should be going to sleep now, but I started watching Big Bird singing It’s Not Easy Being Green at Jim Henson’s funeral, which led me to the Muppet’s Tribute to Jim Henson, and then to Frank Oz’s lovely eulogy. In the second video, I heard a song I don’t remember, the one above, and it got me thinking (and yes, crying a little) about my heroes, and why they hold that position.\
I love Jim Henson. He’s one of my heroes – a man of amazing creativity, warmth and love, who created so many great characters. More than that, though, he opened up imaginations by sharing his, and everything he created has at its core a gentleness, decency and humanity. You can tell right away that there’s a piece of him in everything he did. He died long after I’d outgrown Sesame Street (I was fifteen), but I still got choked up whenever anyone played Rainbow Connection (still do).\
My second hero is Mr. Rogers. I used to watch both shows as a kid, but didn’t really understand who Mr. Rogers was as a “real” person until much much later. Mr. Rogers was seemingly without guile, someone totally in touch with their emotions and with the emotions of those around him – and like Jim Henson, the adjective that jumps to mind when I get past the things they created – the artifacts of their professional lives, is “gentle”. I love that Mr. Rogers dedicated his life to speaking softly to children without speaking down to them, to teaching them about the world without fear or cynicism. I told this to a friend today and she looked at me like I was crazy, but I think Mr. Rogers may be the most Christ-like person to live on the earth since, well, Jesus.\
And last, but certainly not least, my dad. I certainly don’t tell him this enough, but he is my hero. He is the most patient person I’ve ever met, and set a great example of what a husband and father should be – one that I don’t measure up to, but aspire to. He is kind, and gentle. I think the only times I heard him raise his voice were either on the golf course or home repair “mishaps” with heavy tools, and they were never directed at us (the only reasons my brother and I ever went golfing with dad were: to hear him swear, and to drive the cart).\
It all comes back to being gentle, something I’m not very good at, but want to be. All three of my heroes are good men: creative, smart, compassionate and charitable gentle men , who leave those around them better for having known them. They are who I aspire to be.\
Thank you, dad, for being there when I need you. And thank you, Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson, for being examples of where imagination and decency can take you in a sometimes dark and always imperfect world.\
And to get back to the song, it is in all of us to be wise. It’s in all of us to be better than we are, to aspire to being more like our heroes and to choose leaders more like we aspire to be instead of those that feed on our fears. I saw a sticker today Love More. Fear Less (you can get your own), which is what started this whole train of thought.\
We, I, have been afraid too long – driven by fear to compromise our dreams, our futures and to choose leaders who feed those fears. It’s time to be led by love, to stop being afraid and embrace the future as a challenge to be better, to live our ideals instead of preaching them to others and doing the opposite behind closed doors when we think no one is looking. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of hearing politicians claim that the people who disagree with them aren’t “real” Americans. I’m tired of the pandering and the lies. Anger is fear turned outwards, a blind response to things we feel powerless to control, and anger is not love. I’m no hippie. I know I’ll still be angry when I wake up in the morning and catch a glimpse of the news, but I’m going to try to be wise. I’m going to try to love more and fear less, and I will keep my heroes that embody those qualities.\
I don’t know that this makes any sense at all. It’s late, and I should have been asleep two hours ago, but I couldn’t go to bed with all this trapped in my head.\
“It’s in every one of us to be wise. Find your heart, open up both your eyes.”

Not Again… Love Thy Neighbor

Here we go again. My Church has come out again and said two different things, and it’s driving me crazy. On the one hand, the church released a statement saying that the church is neutral in political elections but encourages members to participate in the process. On the other, they come out in favor of bigoted legislation that narrowly defines marriage in order to exclude other people from the legal rights we enjoy.\
Why? What’s the point? Just like in 2006 when the constitutional amendment was in front of the US Senate, this is an election year ploy meant to drive evangelicals to the polls to hate on some gay people. That’s all. There’s nothing moral or ethical about it. It’s hateful election year tricks meant to build up people by tearing others down.\
I can’t stand it. We didn’t go to church for almost two years after the last time a letter like that was read from the pulpit, and now people are being threatened with excommunication for being against Prop 8. Why does this have to come back up now just when we’re going back to Church and although I adamantly don’t agree with the Church’s position, we’re attending again.\
So, if this gets me excommunicated for thinking for myself, fine. I’m all for gay marriage. It has not effect on my marriage. I don’t think homosexuality is a choice. I don’t think we, as Christians, should be persecuting anyone for things they can not change about themselves or judge them. I know enough gay and lesbian couples to know that they love each other in the truest sense of the word and denying that love, pretending it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit into our small definition of it is wrong and un-Christlike.\
It was only a hundred years ago that Mormons were persecuted for our unpopular ideas about marriage. For us, even after all these years, to persecute others (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what’s going on) is hypocrisy plain and simple. It’s hate, bigotry and the worst part of ourselves, and I’ll have no part of it.\
bq. Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them. — Mosiah 23:15\
Marginalizing people is not love. It’s contention for political ends, a cheap trick to rile people up and get them to the polls – nothing more.\
Update: I’ve been thinking about this pretty much all last night and this morning, and a single phrase keeps coming back to me from The Declaration of Independence (emphasis mine):\
bq. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.\
Throughout our history, we’ve not done a very good job of living up to the ideals laid down in our founding document (the one that kicked off our struggle for independence). Whether it was slavery, segregation, women’s rights, internment or meddling in other countries’ affairs, we’ve obviously still got some work to do to fulfill those ideals. I can’t stomach the idea that we’d take a step backwards by denying our fellow citizens’ “pursuit of happiness” and liberty just because we don’t agree with it. The divorce rate is over 50% and has been for years. It seems we have some work to do on our own marriages (one might say we have a “beam in our eye”) before we go meddling with others’. I don’t know why people think this will “save” marriage. If we spent as much time worrying about our own marriages as we did about denying the rights of others to marry, we’d probably all be a lot happier.\
And that’s what this is about for me – happiness. I can’t judge someone else and deny them their pursuit of happiness. Gay couples being allowed to marry doesn’t infringe on my rights or anyone else’s. It doesn’t somehow degrade my marriage – only I can do that. It doesn’t make me any less married or any less in love with my wife. It brings happiness to the world and to the people who are finally able to enter into that covenant with the person they love, and I’m all for it. Mazel tov.

Love is All Around Us

I’m 3,000 miles away from my sweetheart today, so all I’ve got for you is a quote from one of my favorite movies about the subject, Love Actually:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspision love actually is all around.

Long-ass life update

Brian has completely left babyhood and has entered toddlerville. He’s the big T-W-O now! He has tantrums, gets into all sorts of trouble, and tries to do please-let-me-have-my-way, puppy dog eyes. When it doesn’t work, he laughs sheepishly. So adorable. He watches Blues Clues, loves bubbles and drawing. He loves his blankets, but isn’t really into stuffed animals. At the end of the day, his feet stink-eww, the number one sign that he isn’t a baby anymore. He can say: ball, bubble, apple, moon, car, and sign more. That one sign was a huge wahoo! moment for us. Mostly he just points vigorously. Apparently I have watched too much Prison Break while Brian is around, because he sneaks into the dishwasher for a butter knife and then proceeds to slip it into the window casing. Silly kid. He is a great helper and assists with the dishes, laundry, and putting trash in the trash can. I know he will grow out of this soon, so I am taking advantage of it. I can’t put dishes into the dish washer when he is around though, because he keeps trying to “help” me by putting the dirty dishes away and then he cries in frustration. So I just wait until bedtime and then procrastinate doing them anyway. Heh.\
Max is a kid, no longer a baby or a toddler. A real kid. At six, he is one of the smartest people I know. (Which, I only know like four people, so take that for what it is worth.) He is very creative and lovable and tall and funny. He started soccer this Spring. He has been really enjoying it, but is really bad at it. I read somewhere there is a Fall league; I am going to sign him up for it too. I also want to get him into karate. Maybe take it with him, as a mom/son bonding activity. I don’t want to hit or kick blocks of wood though. Hmm, do you think he’d be embarrassed to take karate with me?\
Kindergarten finishes up in 2 weeks, then I am enrolling Max in summer camp. They have all sorts of cool activities and field trips planned. It sounds like a lot of fun. So only 2 more weeks of Max only having half-days away from me. Soon he’ll be spending as much time away from the home as he does at home, awake. Eep! I still have things to tell him: don’t eat before you swim, always wear sunscreen, and it’s okay to use some phrases ironically like “raise the roof” but when in doubt just don’t. Speaking of talks, I was giving Max a refresher about people not seeing/touching/showing private parts and penises and Max was all, “I know, Mom” with an eye-roll tone-of-voice.\
I am a mom of two real kids now. They interact like real people. I even have to seperate them sometimes! It’s odd and cool, at the same time.\
I am at home, as usual. Now that Brian is officially no longer a baby, I have been looking into doing some volunteer work. The local shelter doesn’t need any help right now. Isn’t that just bizarre and, I suppose, a good thing? The Red Cross is currently at the top of my list, but I am not sure what to do with Brian. I think I may have to put this off for a few more years. I can’t find a daycare place that will let me do a half-day. Their definition of part time is all day Tuesday and Thursday. Eh. I guess I could go that route, and then just pick up Brian early. We’ll see. Money is meant to be spent, right?\
I am also looking into joining a gym, one that has daycare attached. That way, I can sit in the locker room for an hour each morning and have some peace. Ha! I am going to make Kevin come with me. Ideally, I’d like someplace with an indoor track, but they seem to be in short supply.\
My biggest dream right now is to spend 24 hours in bed with Kevin, only getting up to answer the door for takeout and for the bathroom. I have been trying to finagle this for over a year now, since I stopped nursing Brian, but so far no luck. We’ll lie in bed together, watch movies, eat takeout, listen to music, take a nap, talk, and it will be marvelous. Ahhh. Doesn’t that sound nice?\
My BFF was telling me that a lot of her friends are constantly fighting with their husbands. I said “I’m not.” She said, “I know. You don’t have to convince me of that because I know.” Isn’t that a great compliment? I am not sure how or why I got so lucky with Kevin. We have a great marriage and I am so thankful for him. Maybe because we are sometimes laid-back about the same things (how to spend money, the house) and other times only one of us really cares about other things (where to vacation, what kind of car to buy). Whatever, it works. Viva la KevandJen!\
Most of my tv watching happens between 6am-10am when I am awake but don’t want to be and the brain isn’t functioning yet. Thank heavens for Tivo, so I don’t have to watch The Today Show. Tivo is also how I am able to provide you such witty and purposeful tv commentary like I sometimes do. I know you are all appreciative even if you don’t comment. Jerks. Hey, there is a new show starting in a couple of weeks called Wind Fall. I expect it to be bad, but since this is summer hiatus, I will take anything.\
Kevin has started traveling for work again. He didn’t finish his physical therapy before the travels kicked up. I am not sure whether he will start it again or not. He is supposed to be home most of the summer, so maybe that is something he will look into. He has been really busy, happy, and successful with work. So busy in fact, we haven’t had the time to buy the new-to-us car we’ve decided to get. Sad, isn’t it? Yea, I don’t know what else is going on with him. Read his blog to the right <———— to learn more. 🙂