Monday, June 21, 2010


My computer had a freak out recently and left me all alone. No communication with friends, no sharing my thoughts, feelings, and opinions with you, no downloaded TV shows, no DVDs, not even mahjong or spider solitaire! Oh yes, and no online business or knowing where and how to get to my next agency job!

Usually when I disconnect for a time, it’s a wonderful reconnection with aspects of the world with which I was less engaged while computing. However, in this case it wasn’t at all like that. Because it wasn’t by choice, I was rather lost.

Is this dependence a good or a bad thing? Should I be appalled or pleased? I do have a ridiculous sort of love for this luscious laptop of mine. Possibly because I designed it’s specs myself… or perhaps because it’s red. ;)

Likely, though, most of all it’s because when I open it, I’m inviting in my friends. Sure there is a whole cyber universe to explore, but most of all it has given me, and kept me connected with, the most precious people in my life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How we met.

My good friend Elizabeth is taking part in an month long event celebrating Jane Austen. In honor of this event she asked if I would do a guest blog post for her outstanding blog Strange & Random Happenstance. I was thrilled and took the figurative pen in hand.

The whole process got me to thinking about friendship. I mean, they are so very vital to our lives. Jane Austen shows us this in her wonderful novels. Whether family or neighbors, friendships are at the heart of her stories. And, too, they are so very essential to having a good and happy life.

What I was thinking, though, was how Elizabeth and I connected. It’s so odd, and really rather wondrous, how these things can happen. It started, I suppose, because we both watched and liked a TV show called Gilmore Girls, but more specifically because we love reading. On a book and reading website called goodreads, we both were taking part in a group on the site called The Rory Gilmore Book Club. But stranger still, it wasn’t until a conversation or three about the 10th Doctor Who that we connected.

What’s amazing is how deeply we connected and in so many ways. How fantastic to make such a great friend in such an unusual and roundabout way! To be fair, I suppose it’s not all that unusual since this actually happened to me with one other person from that group on that site… Yet still, these two ladies are two of the most wonderful people I know!

As to Jane Austen, well, I encourage any one that hasn’t done to read one of her books straightaway. You won’t be disappointed! And who knows, maybe you’ll find a friend or two along the way.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Catching the fever.

Having lived abroad, I can honestly say there is nothing like the frenzied love of the sport we call “soccer,” but for which I will side with the rest of the world and call “football” from here on out. With the World Cup beginning today, I’m like a kid in a candy store with free samples – amped up and crazy excited!

When I was young, I played the sport for some time. Somewhere in the midst of all that, and while attending a San Jose Earthquakes game in which George Best played, I met the legendary PelĂ©. This man was something beyond the sport. He was exceptional, exciting, astounding to watch play, yet as a person he was kind, patient, and loved fun. And to him, that’s what it was all about, this sport of football: FUN. As a result he exuded exuberant joy even just kicking about.

When the World Cup was played here in California, there was a buzz everywhere. You didn’t even have to know or like the sport to get caught up in the excitement of this world event. In preparing to make the world at home, different towns and cities “adopted” the various countries participating. The players from and fans of those teams would celebrate and hang out in their country’s town. My home town of Los Gatos adopted Brazil who became the champions that year. That was some intense revelry! I’d say it was not to be forgotten, but I’m pretty sure that many did just that the next day…

However, it wasn’t until I lived in Italy that I UNDERSTOOD. This game played in about any other country in the world (excepting perhaps Asia) is not a game. Not really. The intensity, the passion is beyond what an American can comprehend. Imagine taking our love for American football, basketball, baseball, and hockey and polarizing them all into one sport. Add to this fervor a regional pride like you’ve never seen here with rivalries going back centuries starting with skirmishes long forgotten. Then times this by ten, and you might begin to get the feeling with which this sport is followed and played worldwide.

It’s a lifestyle one follows there. In Italy, where I have first hand knowledge of the fierceness of their club rivalries and the riots that occasionally ensue, they even have a name for their national team – Gli Azzurri. When Gli Azzurri are playing, it doesn’t matter if the man next to you in the pub is a fan of one’s fiercest club rival, the frenzy and vigor of their love for their national team is so extreme that they are embracing and kissing cheeks in their extravagant joy or defending one another’s opinions when the team is not performing as expected.

It’s a crazy, wonderful, strange, and magnificent thing, this rapture for the exhilarating sport of football. I hope a few of you will catch it!

USA versus England on Saturday – the expedition begins!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Like father like son.

I just now saw a lead in for a segment on a news show about a seven year old being taught to hate… they showed him holding a sign saying, “God hates fags.” The clip included the interviewer asking the parents the question, “What if he grows up and doesn’t agree with everything [you believe] anymore?” He’d be bounced out of the family – “that’s the Lord.”

After a moment of this sinking into not just my psyche but also my spirit, I wept. I wept deeply.

What this family is doing is horrifying on multiple levels. Employing a merciful and forgiving God (who IS love) to wield and spew hate is appalling and grievous. To indoctrinate their children into this hate-filled perspective is shocking and frightening. To believe one is righteous whilst judging others is above all angering and embittering.

I wanted to scream, yet could only weep. I wept for those whom with words they were wounding; I wept for their children who will have a difficult time of ever finding their own way and who might never know what unconditional love is like; I wept for how they were condemning themselves to a life, and (if one believes in such a thing) an afterlife, of misery and coldness; and without knowing it at the time, I wept for the children of a family I grew up with who suffered a similar, though in many ways more insidious, form of tyranny.

I wrote for several hours about this, detailing many things: My perspective spiritually, and how I feel they are so far from knowing who God really is. My feelings about their position on sexuality in the context of spirituality. My heartbreak at their absolutism versus, the beautiful alternative of love and understanding regardless of agreement. My feelings about their role as parents. But what it came down to was my perspective on freedom.

You see, the thing that makes it most difficult for me to decide how I feel about this is that I truly abhor how parenting is controlled by media and popular society. For instance, the public floggings of the parents whom have encouraged their kids to go for their dreams even in youth are appalling to me. To the father who climbed Mount Everest with his 13 year old son – I applaud him for nurturing those dreams and allowing his son to go for it, and not only that but doing it alongside him. It’s not like the boy didn’t have to work very hard to get there. Yes it’s dangerous, but everyday life can be dangerous – and how much better will he be for understanding the effort and preparation and exertion it takes to achieve, but also how worth it the endeavor is?

The same with the 16 year old girl circumnavigating the globe non-stop alone via a sailboat. Or the 7 year old girl in 1996 who became a pilot. (Yes, in attempting to cross the U.S. she, her father, and her flight instructor crashed and died, but she was already better educated than most college graduates, knew her mind and pursued her dream.) How dare the media, the masses, whomever, ridicule and condemn those parents because they didn’t choose to coddle and ignore their child’s dreams and potentials. They listened and gave them wings. Just because our modern society says that protection is the absolute, the most important thing, does not make it so.

Whatever we think about these hate-filled parents, why do we think we have a right to tell them how to raise their children? That above all else bothers me... because, I assure you that if we do, it won’t stop with them. So how can I, then, condemn these parents teaching hate as I so desperately want to? Within my heart I fiercely defend the freedoms we enjoy here in America. I know they are fragile, and come with a great weight of responsibility that we as a nation don’t always handle very well, but I believe it would be an insidious kind of enslavement to have my government tell me how to raise my children (or worse, to have the world do so via the UN). Such a thing frightens me beyond measure, and as a fearless optimist, that's saying something.

To that end, I find it irritating that this news program put the story of the 16 year old sailor, the 13 year old climber, and an 11 year old toreador in the same light as this story of the 7 year old hater, making it seem that these parents are all the same. This is, to me, more of the media tainting and manipulating our perspective.

How do we find our way free of this control while still trying to keep children away from actual abuse? Because I believe that parents of the sailor and the climber, at least, did something magnificent in fanning the flames of their child’s dreams and guiding them as they worked for it... then letting them go to achieve when the time came, knowing whatever the outcome that their child would be profoundly the better for the experience of trying.

I liked what the young climber said, “I encourage other kids to discover their own Everest and go for it.” Magnificent. Incandescent. May we all find that kind of perspective, whatever our age!