Friday, June 17, 2011


When life changes and the family dynamics suffer a seismic shift, it’s time to reframe the future.  I’m still adjusting to a universe in which my parents’ generation has disintegrated. As the stars fall around me and the galaxy rearranges itself above my head, I will draw new borders for my life. Then, I will cross them.

My new borders will feature places that comfort and inspire me.  I pull out an atlas and search for a favorite city.  It could be as close as San Francisco or as far away as Paris. It does have to be accessible – a place I can tuck up in for cultural feasting.  

I think I’ll start my western border at the Pacific coastline and look for a signature beach town to call my own. When my soul needs soothing, I need to rest my eyes on the horizon and fill my ears with Poseidon’s throaty roar.
My western border will extend from the Puget Sound to San Diego. From there I will draw a line through the Sonoran Desert to Santa Fe and then wiggle my pencil over to pick up Chicago and the Upper Michigan Peninsula before I scurry back to the Pacific Coast.

Like a proud spider contemplating her intricate web, I will hang out in my corner of the Sierras. When I spot something juicy in another corner of my world, I’ll scuttle over and check it out.

New holidays are in order.   We’ll downsize old favorites like Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ll celebrate Columbus Day with a trip to an unexplored mecca and Valentine’s Day with a romantic adventure. No dutiful recycling on Earth Day for us, we will choose a day to dub Big Sky day and celebrate it in the air.  

Our seasons won’t be related to the weather but to our mode of transportation – Wings, Wheels, Waterways and Wanderings. Our seasons are not consecutive they are whimsical, like the weather, and when we run out of money – the ice floe, baby; new vistas.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheap thrills

I get it.  I get that internet addiction – flirting, sexting, virtual hook-ups – is as much about the thrill of pursuit as it is about sex. Life is stressful and people need their distractions. In the grand scheme it’s trivial, people say.

I listen to the responses to Representative Weiner’s predicament.  An eye-winking press cites a long history of this type of behavior in men who have otherwise been judged as good leaders.

Outraged supporters go a step further to say that if people would just ignore You Tube and all the issues that get us off track, the country would be better off. They believe that issues like the state of marriage and family take us off track when we should be worried about the economy and the environment.   He is doing a good job for his constituents, they say. What he does in the privacy of his own gymnasium is his own business.

But is not private, it is a public display of a complete lack of integrity. Integrity is the steadfast adherence to a moral or ethical code. What belief system or code of behavior does this sneaking around serve?

We have been served well by good men whose public and private lives have survived intense scrutiny. John Adams comes to mind.  We have possibly been served well by scoundrels who have owned up to a long list of bad behavior, but at least they have owned it.  There is some integrity in their "this is me, take it or leave it." stance.  It is consistent. 
There is no integrity in a man who demurs, deflects and defies his party when they ask him to step aside. "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold," God says in Revelations 3:15,16. "I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth." that is a perfect definition of a man who lacks integrity.

This one man is not my real concern, but the numbers of men who are amusing themselves in this way.  How many marriages break because a husband or wife so distances themselves behind the closed door of internet addiction that they destroy the fragile bonds of intimacy?

Marriage is sustained by meaningful conversation, shoulder-to-shoulder labor and mutual joy. Good government is sustained by meaningful dialog, shoulder-to-shoulder labor and mutual respect.
Internet addiction is not a recreational pastime. By its very nature it consumes large amounts of time and attention and encourages deception. That is time and attention stolen from wives and children. I can’t think that the electorate, whom  offending politicians are sworn to serve, benefit from inconstancy and corruption.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Circling Facebook

Fool’s give you reasons. Wise men never try. I wanted to post this on my facebook page today but decided it is more appropriate to be enigmatic on a blog. And, it’s a nice lead-in to a discussion about facebook, which I promised two new acquaintances I would do on my blog.

I met these delightful women at a reception at the top of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. After exploring our various connections – we’re all passionate about what we do – pharmacology, hedge fund management and writing; we all love cities on the water – San Francisco, Seattle and Stockholm; and we’re all mystified by where facebook is taking interpersonal communications. In particular, one woman posed this question. Why are so many people willing to broadcast their personal information?

I opened a facebook account for two reasons.  I wanted to understand social media and I wanted to understand my kids. My son and daughter-in-law use facebook to keep track of each other, sometimes when they are sitting in the same room.  I see the discussions they have about myriad mundane issues – clogged sinks, who will do the dinner dishes, who’s tired and headed for bed; facebook has been criticized for banality but it’s the pedestrian nature of their conversation that delights me. I have access to the information that the tomato vines survived the hornworms and the surf was good on Saturday morning. I see that all is right in their world.  

It is interesting to contemplate that the song, There must be 50 ways to leave your lover, was written before the advent of social media, so now, counting email and twitter, we can add at least three more ways to that list. If we open a discussion about what is happening in our lives to the full spectrum of our personal network, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  It tests the waters of who is interested enough to comment and indeed, they may have valuable feedback. (That’s how I found a mechanic when my car developed a new rattle and my husband was out of town.)

Facebook seems to serve many functions, from back-fence gossip to the venting or validation of emotions. Being a writer, I can understand the value of wanting to edit your words before you place them in the public arena. You can’t take back what you’ve blurted out at the height of emotion. You can wordsmith a tweet or delete an ill-chosen posting before it’s done too much damage. So maybe there is some element of control at work here that might be missing in a face to face encounter.

A good test of appropriateness remains what I learned in Journalism 101.  Play it as a headline. If you have any question about words you feel led to share/ actions you feel compelled to take, write it out in your mind as a newspaper headline.  Hornworms attack early vines, stir debate over pesticides seems acceptable. French banking magnate jailed for attacking maid in hotel room – I just shake my head. Morality aside, if he’d taken 10 seconds to write that headline before he dropped his towel, he might have made a better decision.