Thursday, September 26, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Saturday, August 10, 2013
I just got off the phone with a friend who is shocked at her family's inability to listen to one another. They all talk at once--on top of one another. They don't respond to one another because they are so busy speaking.
It's like having dozens of sof-t-cone machines churning out ice cream. It's going all over the floor because there is no one to catch it, let alone eat it and enjoy it.
And of course they ask her nothing about what's going on in her life.
For years this has been how I evaluate my social experiences: did you find out anything about me and my life?
This drives my husband crazy because when we are discussing a party on the way home in the car, I almost always say, "S/he didn't ask anything about me." Then I proceed to give a bio on everyone with whom I interacted just to prove that I take my own advice.
To avoid being a victim I'll often dive into the word river only to find that after a few sentences I'm again drowning in the story which is all about the other person.
It's not like people aren't aware. I've even had someone say, "Oh, my God! The last time we talked it was all about me. Tell me what's happening with you!" So I do. For a few moments.
I used to get mad, but now I just sigh.
That is until just a few moments ago because of this phone call from my wise, witty, wonderful friend who has SEVENTY-FIVE years of amazing life experience to share!
So heads up, people! Ask others about themselves. Listen without speaking. Look that person in the eye. Inquire more deeply into what they have just told you.
Enjoy one another. Eat a sof-t-cone.
And what's your experience with this? I'm listening.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
On Sunday, March 17th at 4:44 p.m. her MacBookAir sent her a message about it's location. (Her MacBookPro which was also stolen, did not have this feature in it.)
She immediately called and emailed the officer associated with her case. The officer never returned her messages. On Monday she even made an in-person visit to the North Precinct during which she was reminded about "limited time and resources." Tired of the lack of response from the Seattle Police Dept. Debra decided to take matters into her own hands.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 19th she went with Dave Morris and Kris Meyer to south Seattle or maybe DesMoines--though signs also said "Welcome To Burien."
Debra, driving the get-away car, pulled up the street while Kris and David went to the house pretending to be interested in buying a BMW they saw on Craig's List. They were looking for a white w/black convertible top BMW which is actually the description of the get-away car involved in this theft. Oddly, the people in this house actually were selling a red BMW that was parked in the driveway. Considering it has flat tires and had been there since the last Google satellite photo, it was no surprise to hear that they were selling it for parts. Also odd that the brother of the person answering the door drove a silver BMW. That's a lot of BMWs.
So they chatted a bit while Debra waited in the car. It seemed that the uncle who lives across the street had some information so Kris and Dave went over there. They came back to the car and reported that the uncle was "very big."
They determined that they had better make A Plan. Since the computer was now locked, it was impossible to tell for sure if it was still at this address. The tracking device only works when someone is on the Internet. Locked computer=no internet access. She locked it because she wanted to save her files. But it is possible her files are gone anyway since someone changed the user name. The user name is now "TMoney" which Debra finds so infuriating she could spit nails.
Debra wanted to go to the door by herself since the person who answered the door was a 20-something white male. Her reasoning was that she looked pretty harmless, although she was wearing Spy Clothes: jeans, running shoes, black sweater which wouldn't show blood stains--hers or anybody else's.
But she ended up calling the North Precinct and talking to Det. Stephens. She explained to him that she was sitting outside the suspect's house--well, not exactly outside, but up the street. He told her to call 911 and tell them her plan and they would send a police officer out to stand by her.
She did so and a dispatcher said she would send someone out from the King County Sheriff's Dept. The three waited in the car--for a long time. During this time Debra kept having hot flashes, so she kept the car key turned to "accessory" so that Kris and Dave could roll down their windows since it was getting pretty steamy in there.
Nowhere in the car instruction manual does it mention that this kind of hot flash survival strategy will run down your battery. It really should. So when Dave suggested turning the car around so that we could see the police coming, she found she was unable to start said car.
More and more this was looking like a bad Caper Comedy. Kris suggested just letting the car sit and perhaps it would miraculously heal itself since it is after all a Subaru which we think means, "Bright Shining Divine Four-Wheel Chariot Star" in Japanese.
Debra, who has a real spiritual/religious bent, prayed mightily. In Japanese. Fifteen minutes later said car started.
While they were waiting, the "very big" uncle went to the house, opened the garage door and did something in the garage. The tracking device showed that the computer was in the corner of the garage. The three were very antsy for the cop to arrive.
The officer finally arrived and after many phone calls to Det. Stevens and a discussion of search warrants, etc. Officer Maran said Seattle PD would not issue a warrant. He decided he would just go to the door and say, "A stolen computer has been tracked to this house."
He did this and the aforementioned 20-something disavowed any knowledge of this. The uncle across the street who is not only "very big," but also "very bearded," came to see what was going on.
Officer Maran said he'd call Debra if there was a break in the case, but it pretty much looked like she was screwed.
The white BMW with the black top was pulled over yesterday with four black men it. The police could not seem to find this car in their system as it turned up as "sold" on Thursday, March 14th, the day before the crime.
Debra is disappointed but at least she knows she did everything she could. She is also a little bit in denial and expects a tidal wave of chocolate will be going through her when she starts grieving all she has lost. And yes, she will make friends with iCloud.
Dave and Kris were brave and resourceful--especially during the hot flash storm.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Years ago when people were going after him for doping, I was saying, "No, no, people are jealous of his success and want to bring him down! He works like a dog and that's why he wins."
I supported him even when he--well, his assistant--turned down my request to write a foreword to my book saying, "Mr. Armstrong regrets he cannot lend energy to your project at this time and wishes you the best of luck."
I understood. He was busy training--and fending off jealous critics!
I watched the Oprah interview. His eyes looked dead to me--even when he was getting emotional about his kids. I'm glad he's in therapy but you know what? That dude needs spiritual counseling. Seriously.
I want to ask, "Lance, what gives your life meaning? Where do you find joy? What are your spiritual beliefs? How do you nurture your spiritual life? What does it mean to love? What do you think happens when you die? Do you believe in a higher power--other than yourself?"
And I don't mean that last question to sound snarky. I don't care if he's aetheist, agnostic, sudoku or acrostic. I'm sincerely wondering what/who is going to get him through those times when he awakens in the middle of the night, turns over on his left side, turns over on his right, can't go back to sleep. Stuck with his thoughts--if only, if only, if only . . .
The dark night of the soul.
Mr. Armstrong, I sincerely wish I could help you at this time. Best of luck. If there is anything I can do, let me know.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
This drives me crazy and on this eve before the day we give thanks I say, "Yay, my maSTEComy was seven years ago."
No, this is not some insightful spiritual post but just something that I've been meaning to say. Words make a difference.
And I mean that.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Sunday I was recognized as University Congregational Church's first writer-in-residence. I stood up in front, they said nice things, bopped me on the head with water and there I was.
One of the first things I want to do is start a writing group for returning women veterans. My original idea was to have it be for all vets, but a vet said to me, "One in four women have been sexually harassed and I'll tell you right now they won't open up in front of men." So I changed my idea.
I'm planning on having a twice monthly group that meets for a couple hours in the evening. My original idea was to have a Saturday eight-hour writing retreat like Maxine Hong Kingston does but I realized that will mean a lot of single moms won't be able to come. So I changed my idea.
You can see by now that my original ideas have all changed--for the better--but I felt a little down about this because it seemed so straightforward in the beginning.
Then a very wise friend said, "You have to decide exactly what your role is and what your goal is. And you need to educate yourself about the military and all the issues around it."
She gave me a list of books to read which are all terrific and I love to read and learn new things and try new things but during an exhausted moment the other night I thought, "Why didn't I just offer a writing group for people with cancer? I know about that. I'm expert at that! I wouldn't have to do all this work. Why returning vets?"
And on and on, wah-wah-wah when suddenly, clear as a bell I heard a voice in my head say, "Because that is where the need is."
Sure enough there are enough cancer writing groups to start a small city. But writing groups for women veterans? Not so much.
Why returning vets? Because that is where the need is.
So I'll get on with the planning and arranging and educating myself and connecting with people. Most people are very supportive except for a few people who walk around wringing their hands and muttering, "What about the liability?" They are afraid a vet will go crazy and sue the church.
When you get right down to it, anybody could go crazy and sue the church. And on the above mentioned Night of Self Pity I asked myself, "Well, Holy s**t, did Jesus have to put up with this kind of crap?"
Once again, clear as a bell, a voice in my head said, "Not unless you count scourging, flogging and crucifixion. And that crown of thorns was no picnic."
When I hear words in my head like that, I pretty much know that's Jesus talking as my experience of Him is that He can be a super wise-ass.
So I thought, well, if Jesus could start a major world religion with no internet, surely I can start a veteran's writing group. Perhaps you are thinking, "Who are you to compare yourself to Jesus?"
Well, if you call yourself a Christian you'd better be comparing yourself to Jesus all the time, Buster! Although I think it's perfectly fine to occasionally compare yourself to other religious figures as well.
I've compared myself to Ghandi and concluded that I'm fat although I did make my own clergy robe and Ghandi made his own--garment thing. So we have that in common. I'm hyperactive compared to the Buddha. And not enough of a visionary compare to Mohammed.
But I'm happy to say that both Jesus and I are right up there on the wise-ass scale.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
So ask away and I'll do my best to give you my honest answer or at least my honest thoughts on your question. I can't pretend to have ALL the answers. Maybe just a few.
Whew. The above paragraph generated a major hot flash. Must mean I'm on to something!
Friday, March 9, 2012
I've been at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine conference this week. I watched several people with decades of experience in medicine receive well-deserved awards.
Many of us will never work in the same job for forty years, so we will never get a "lifetime achievement" or "career" award. (Mothers should definitely be getting awards if they've managed to raise children to become kind and compassionate adults.)
But here's the thing: even if you stay in the same field for forty years, you have to find reward in your work every day or the big award at the end is empty.
I'm so happy to find the rewards in my work. As I watched person after person walk off the stage with a big glass award I wondered, "What do you do with all those things?"
That's just one more reminder of why the daily reward is better: you don't have to dust it.
Monday, March 5, 2012
I'm disappointed. Severely disappointed that nobody got the answer to this question: What is wrong with this picture?
I am standing next to a Tse tse fly trap. I am wearing a shirt that has in it the exact colors of a the trap.
Therefore: I am basically begging Tse tse flies to bite me.
And they did.
Monday, February 27, 2012
"It's the clown-like red sunglasses!"
"It's the bad choice of hairstyle which makes your ears look like a baby elephant!"
"It's the mix of prints with your two shirts!"
"Are you not wearing mosquito repellent?"
Is it one of the above answers or something else?
What is the WORST thing in this photo?
I will leave this post up for a week and the first person to provide the correct answer will win a copy of my book. A signed copy. Which I will send to you.
And no talking.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
I'm the glad the clamor for the Bald Barbie has died down. Last month people were petitioning Mattel to make a bald Barbie doll so that kids on chemo or who had alopecia could have a doll they could relate. I'm not even going to go into all that because at the time I couldn't stop thinking about an experience I had in October at the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala interviewing kids with cancer and their parents.
Her belly was swollen and hard and you would swear she was nine months pregnant—except that she was three years old and sitting on her father’s lap. Veroneeka had a Wilms’ tumor the size of a football.
Veroneeka’s father explained to me that he sold his whole crop just to get to Kampala. He was thin as a bamboo pole. He handed me the prescription for Veroneeka’s chemo. It was a long list. I recognized a chemo that I myself had had: Cytoxan. I didn’t envy her.
It turns out I didn’t need to envy her because her father couldn’t afford it. The Ugandan Cancer Institute, as often happens was out of medicines. If that’s the case, then they write you a prescription for chemo and then you go to the pharmacy to buy it. The pharmacy might not have it. If they do, you return to the hospital and they give it to you there.
Chemo in Uganda is a bargain: six-hundred bucks cures most kids with lymphoma. I interviewed parent after parent and the story was the same: they spent everything to get diagnosed and get to Kampala. So there was no money left for chemo.
I wanted to reach into my pocket and say, “Here. Six-hundred bucks. Take it.” But I didn’t have six hundred dollars in my pocket.
What I did have was a backpack full of food bars and little stuffed animals. So when the interview was over, I gave Veroneeka a stuffed dog with ridiculously enormous eyes. She simply sat there silently turning it over and over.
Then I asked her father, “Well, if you have no money, what do you eat?”
He answered, “When Veroneeka does not finish her meal, I eat what she has left.”
I stood up and reached into my pack. “Please take these.” I stuffed food bars into every pocket of his worn shirt. And when he stood up to leave I gave him some more which he put in the pockets of his pants.
He took Veroneeka’s hand and I watched her waddle away. Six hundred dollars to cure her. I considered the cost of my equipment.
My video camera would cure two children. My microphone or twelve pairs of my headphones: one child. I’ve been doing these calculations since I got back. So when I read about the push for the bald Barbie, I did the math in my head: at twenty bucks a pop, thirty Barbie dolls would buy chemo for one child.
And like Veroneeka, I simply sat there silently turning it over and over.