samedi, septembre 10, 2011

Something of a dreamer, a fool, a heartbreak

Love, and loss. Why do they seem to go together?

Right now, I'm very concerned that we are at risk of losing our way of life -- and that many of us are still slumbering.

One of my professors canceled her class on Thursday, due to the fact that the Brandywine Creek, which normally went through her front yard, was not only in her basement, but in the front rooms of her home.

Marietta, a small town where my son and I spent a happy evening in a bed and breakfast last year, has been evacuated, at least in part, due to the rising Susquehanna.

Some of us were fortunate enough not to have water in our basement, and only to face minor inconveniences.

Two nights ago, my editor in Lancaster and I chatted for a while about the increasingly bizarre weather we are having. I could hear the stress in his voice -- schools were closed, roads were flooded.

Both of us spend a lot of time reading and trying to assimilate what we read -- and we are creatures of the "mainstream" media (mostly) -- not the climate change skeptics.

On the other hand -- I was mouthing off to a friend about the changing climate, and how concerned I was that we'd left trying to do what we could to change our habits too late.

Sometimes I chat about climate change with my contractors -- we talk about it casually, and with a kind of rueful fatalism.

But when I brought it up with her, she quickly and determinedly changed the subject.

I don't know if she is a skeptic, or whether such conversation brings her down, or whether she just thinks it's a waste of energy.

And don't get me started on the complexities around tomorrow and how we mark that. I'm afraid even to speak to some of my friends.

I'm afraid that, among my friends, I'm one of the few dragging the cloud of dust behind me. As someone who prides herself on having friends on all ends of the political spectrum, I find that I can only share this with other contemplators -- most of us seem content to live our lives without a lot of reflection on some of the "big picture" conundrums.

Or we allow others (MSNBC, FOX, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal) to make up our minds for us.

Sometimes, often, I wish I wasn't so darned serious. I wish I could take it all with a big grain of salt.

Yeah, I brood about THIS, too.

When it comes to love, I sometimes wish I was a little more frivolous, too. I don't give affection (friends, lovers, family) easily, and I don't withdraw it at whim. To do, in some ways, seems to buy into the "easy come, easy go" model that our society reinforces in so many ways both clear and covert.

I wish I could be more flip, more superficial, more hardhearted and less brooding.

But then I wouldn't be "me"? Would I? "Something of a dreamer, something of a fool, something of a heartache, when she gives her heart to 'you'."

It would be easier on those I love, and those who love me back.

Grappling with questions large and small, confiding in my small circle of close friends (and you, gentle readers), I sometimes scare myself. The scrip for such humorless ideas?

More fun, more laughter, less brooding..see, there IS a bright angle to disaster.

Carpe diem, anyone? Two's company.

vendredi, septembre 09, 2011

The inch deep and a mile wide woman

Yes, that's me.

Yesterday I was having a debate with a new friend over (believe it or not) the reputed words of astronomer (and Rick Perry's new BFF) Galileo: "And yet it moves."

I said it wasn't clear that Galileo had ever said these words.

He said he most definitely did say them.

We both scoured the Internet and though his New York Times trumped my Wikipedia citation, I stuck to my guns.

I'm pretty good at having random arguments over irrelevant facts. Possibly I'm even better at it than Rick Perry.

But then my pal asked me to co-write an article with him about the idea that a theory of falsibility could be applied to journalism. I demurred. I'm not an intellectual, I told him. Being a journalist has turned me into a pragmatist. What might work, a standard, is less important to me than what does work.

Your theory. Your passion. Your article (I offered to edit).

I have lots of friends who are genuine intellectuals. They read Jorge Luis Borges (because he'd somehow escaped them until now), know about contemporary art, see indie movies so that they can talk about the lighting.

They are passionate about the world of ideas.

And so, to an extent, am I. The aphoristic, second-hand soundbite world that the Internet has made so readily available to everyone can make me crazy. I'm enough of a professor's kid to want people to think for themselves. After dipping my pinkie into the world of New Age ideas, I am disturbed by the amount of sheer pablum that gets passed around and called insight.

If there's an app for it, I'm curious. If not, send it back.

But I'll take Bill Bryson's books over the latest translation of a 19th-century Swedish classic any day. I'd rather see a clever comedy than a Quentin Tarantino flick most nights. I want to know how to make a great ratatouille, not the theory behind French chefery (sic).

I love to hear conversations about what's proven to put people back to work, not the theory behind the Hungarian school of economics (I'll learn the theory, and the correct country, if the Republicans win).

I discover what I need to know...and when I have time, a bit more. Sometimes you never know where curiosity will take you...

But more or less practical people (including guys) are those I want around me.

How about you? Intellectual? Practical? Both? There's nothing wrong with dreaming. It's just sometimes difficult to tell the difference between it and reality.

Given the choice, I hope I pick right.

lundi, septembre 05, 2011

Why religious language matters

My Reuters Guestview post on why religious language matters in the 2012 election -whether you are religious or not. Don't dismiss these folks as crazies without influence -- they are numerous, well-organized, and may live down the street from you.

dimanche, septembre 04, 2011

Behind my bedroom door

Right now, there is no door.
In fact, there's hardly a bedroom. At the moment, bereft of beds or electricity or even a real ceiling, it's just a wooden box.
In what feels increasingly like a move that races counter to my usual prudence (it's a big chunk of my retirement money), I'm having our house renovated -- adding a smaller second story, taking out a bathroom, adding a new laundry room/bathroom/bedroom upstairs.

After working in my bedroom or kitchen for more than six years, I'm going to have loft space for an office. I can almost taste the Pulitzer.

One of the contractors is a British guy who has spent a lot of time living in New Mexico, where he created his own house. That's a look I'm going for (on a beer budget) -- open space, soaring ceilings, lots of exposed wood -- and light.

Light pouring in from the big windows in the loft.

Light glittering across the wooden floors in the dining room.

Light falling like honey through the French door in the family room.

After talking to British Richard, I had an idea -- why not a door (instead of a window) in the bedroom?

A slider to let in more sunshine when the days are shorter.

A walkway into the garden -- a way to get my feet (and perhaps someone else's, down the line) wet with morning dew.

Township code says we need to have a deck for the door (so drunken guests don't fall out a few feet into the basement well)?

So there will be a small deck -- ideal for two chairs, and a place to have a cup of tea and watch the deer at dusk.

We're at the point where I'm a bit panicked about the money, and every dollar has to stretch -- so it wasn't an easy decision.

But it wasn't a tough one, either --that door represents new possibilities, a fresh perspective, and perhaps the shot of vision I need.

What's behind your bedroom door? Is there a place, perhaps, for an opening into your own lighter future?

You never know ...until you try.