“You are brainwashed into thinking whatever the government tells you is legitimate.”
I grew up in a house that believed in many conspiracy theories. The JFK assassination, the first walk on the moon, the Pearl Harbor bombing; these things came along with the idea that somehow the government had created or facilitated each incident in order to progress their own agenda.
It is easy to fall into this pattern of thought. After all, our government doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence. Rather than prioritize what is best for the citizens, politicians make getting re-elected their top goal. After the disheartening gun control vote in the senate, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the citizen’s views don’t
“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”This quote by 19th century historian, Lord Maxim, is well known; certainly, I grew up reciting it. But more recent research has shown that there is a connection between someone’s moral identity (how strongly they feel it is for them to be fair, generous, caring, etc.) and how they use
power (more in this article at Smithsonian.com
And I would take this full circle. My hypothesis is that the lower a person’s moral identity, the more likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories under the assumption that if they were to gain power that is how they would act.
As a parent this begs the question of how to build strong moral identity in our kids. But as a citizen it makes me wonder whether there could be an objective test we could give to politicians before we elect them. It could become part of their running platform; Nominee xyz scored a 99% on the moral identity scale: Paid for by friend of xyz.
would there be a conspiracy to fix the results so the ‘right’candidate would be elected?
Phew! To be honest, I’m not sure what my moral identity score would be, but I know my laziness score is high... and conspiracy theories are simply too much work for me.
My daughter was walking down the narrow aisle of the plane, dragging her suitcase behind her in search of our seats, when a passenger said this into her cell phone. The funny part must have been my daughter’s facial expression, since all of the passengers facing her started cracking up.
I know I have written before about swear words being part of our language, so I thought today I might write about when not to use them.
- Don’t type the ‘f’ word when you are editing someone’s work on an airplane and your daughter is inches away from you reading over your shoulder. (Unless you want to engage in a difficult conversation in a very public place.)
- Don’t have a hero who is shy or gentle use the ‘f’word to describe making love.
- Don’t teach your child the meaning of the ‘b’word unless you want him/her to use it frequently in sentences when describing dogs.
- Don't use the same damn swear word over and over and over in your damn writing. It is damn annoying.
- Don’t use any of them when stuck in traffic or while being cut off by someone unless you are totally alone (actually, just break the habit since inevitably it will come out of your mouth when your car is filled with your child and her three best friends.)
And finally, don’t, please, say any swear word into your cell phone thinking that you are somehow alone in hearing it. For those of you who don’t yet realize this, we can all still hear you. And in fact, some of us even plan our blogs around overhearing you.
“What makes your character cry?”
Here’s how I know that anyone could write a story, I challenge you to find one mom who didn’t immediately imagine what it would have been like if it were her eight year old caught in yesterday’s explosion. I bet they could tell you fifty ways they visualized it; could probably describe it down to the clothes their child might have been wearing.
Imagination is a wonderful and awful thing. It allows us to come up with fantastic ideas, machines that fly, foods that pop, tights that are see-through (okay, maybe not always great ideas). It also, though, gives us the fodder to speculate, what if. What if I don’t get that job? What if the tree fell the other way? What if our school was next? Like stories of psychics wanting to shut out other people’s thoughts, I am sure I am not alone in sometimes wanting to shut down my imagination.
I see this fine balance most clearly in my own daughter who has an amazing imagination but also struggles with anxiety. Her body always connects the what if to a fight or flight response… even when the what if is potentially positive. What if I get the part? The excitement turns to adrenalin, which tells her body there is danger, which turns her positive thought into a negative one.
The only way I have learned to shut off the voice of my imagination is to focus only on where I am and what I am doing at the moment. I ground myself by washing dishes thoughtfully; feeling the soap and the water on my hands, and hearing the splash of it against the edge of the sink. Or I garden. I listen to the birds calling and the mower rumbling next door. I feel the dirt crumble beneath my fingers and I watch a worm make its way slowly back down, into the moist earth.
Today I pray and today I focus on the moment. Because today my imagination is not my friend.
“A midwife? It’s like a nurse or something at home that helps deliver the baby. Yeah. I think that is what she wants to do.”
The incongruity of two, mid-twenty something guys, drinking their daytime beers while talking about having a baby struck me as funny and was elevated by the fact that I was there to buy tickets for a Super Diamond concert (like Neil Diamond for those who don’t know him).
The huge bar was empty, other than me, the two guys talking about babies, and a one man act playing guitar and talking to a table of drab looking women. It was not exactly the type of place I am usually to be found on any given Saturday, at least not anymore. There was a time in my life when I could imagine having hung out at just this sort of bar. Post college, pre marriage; that time filled with late nights and friends and not always the smartest decisions.
It is not a time I miss much at all. There was a lot of insecurity attached to doing the wrong things for me… so I don’t think I was ever truly comfortable in the role of twenty-something party girl. I like to think this wasn’t obvious to my friends, but the fact that I asked, “are you sure this is okay?” many times a night probably gave it away.
So reaching the milestone of enjoying a family lifestyle was a big cause for celebration. I am quite happy to be in bed by 9:00 p.m. at night; to prepare breakfast for my daughter and put the dishes in the dishwasher once she is at school. These are little joys that belong in my life more than dancing to a DJ ever did.
The two guys at the bar seemed very blasé about having a baby, but I know the truth…. And they probably do as well. After all, they were quietly drinking their beer on a rainy midafternoon rather than surrounded by a crowds in a rockin’ bar late at night.
“My whole family calls my grandmother Oma.”
Being a grandparent is a funny thing. I should know, since I was one. Wait! Not like that! My daughter’s only eight. But years ago her darn stuffed animals didn’t know what to call me. If she was Mama, then what was I? Gramdma, obviously. NOT! Believe me I nipped that in the bud quick.
Still, the fact that my reaction was so severe tells me what it might be like years from now when she finally does have a child. It is one of those milestones which is both exciting and a scary all at once. I look forward to the freedom of it. The ability to watch from afar and laugh at the many trials I am sure her own progeny will put her through. I pray that she has a fun and loving husband to help her with those. And I also pray I will be able to
stand far enough away that she makes her own mistakes, but close enough that she always knows I have her back.
AT the same time, since we got started late on our family, the day this happens may be so far in the future that I will be too blind to see it. We joke that at her wedding my husband will need a cane to walk her down the aisle. Since I hope she gets to enjoy those early days with her husband, free of children, how much older will we be when we turn up our hearing aides to hear the patter of tiny feet.
Still, there is hope that I will at least be able to remember my grandchildren’s names. Last week I saw a news post by the NY Times about the role that brain degeneration has plays on memory loss as we get older. (link
). It is nice to know that, someday, if I connect electrodes to my head every night at bedtime, I’ll be able to wake up remembering that the little voice who calls me grandma on the phone is not actually one of her stuffed animals pretend talking.
“Mo-o-m, why can’t I get a cookie too? It’s not fair.”
No… it’s not fair; a lesson that I struggle to learn even as I try to teach my daughter. Being an only child, this is a particularly difficult concept for her to understand. We have worked hard to expose her, from an early age, to as many social sharing situations as we can. But still…when she walks into her playroom she picks the toy she plays
Life isn’t fair! How often have we heard our own parents tell us this? In a general way we can relate to it, but when faced with the supreme unfairness of life it is hard to swallow… existential even.
My world has recently been shaken by a number of unfair situations imposed on those I care about. A sister-in-law with breast cancer and two friends fighting other forms of cancer. Another friend who unexpectedly lost her husband probably threw me for the biggest loop.
And this doesn’t even consider the multitudes of people still struggling to find shelter after Hurricane Sandy.
In the midst of so much chaotic unfairness, it is easy for me to lose true North. It is only when I see the amazing courage on my friend’s face at the funeral, or read the daily log of gratitude my sister-in-law posts to Facebook, that I am reminded that while life isn’t fair and frequently isn’t fun, it can still be beautiful.
“Wrapping each other up in towels and cramming themselves into the laundry baskets may be fun, but it’s not really sustainable fun.”
My sister and I were talking about our Thanksgiving dinner but I found I had to keep raising my voice to be heard over the mayhem occurring in the background of her house. As usual, with a family of six, there was a stack of laundry that needed sorting and folding. However from what I could hear on my end of the phone it sounded like every time she made a pile, one of the kids or family pets would ruin it. Definitely not sustainable fun!
I was intrigued by this phrase though, wondering if it might capture a whole new parenting vocabulary. Not just sustainable fun but also sustainable work or schedule or communication or friendship. At my daughter’s age of eight few ideas stay sustainable.
For example, she recently decided to help feed our dog. In concept, fantastic. In reality, one forgotten meal and the plan was dumped. Definitely not sustainable.
Or we decided at one point that rather than argue about things that made her unhappy we would pay attention when she raised her hand and discuss it logically, reaching a decision after hearing from her. I think it was the conversation that went something like; “It’s time to,” hand raised and discussion. “I was not going to say homework, I was going to say brush hair,” hand raised and discussion. “If you are willing to go out like that,”hand raised and discussion. “Yes, we still have to go to church.” Hand raised and discussion. … You get the idea. After half an hour of this I had completely forgotten my original request, we were late to church, and she still didn’t have her hair brushed or know what the consequence would be. Definitely not a sustainable plan.
Sustainability, whether in our energy plans or in our families, takes a future view that is not always easy to see through the murk of our everyday lives. We want what we want when we want it. Still, it is a goal worth pursuing. A sustainable goal, if you will.
My sister eventually did make it out of her house, ready for an activity that wouldn’t leave her house in shambles or one of her children in tears. The laundry, however, is still sitting there.
“He looks weird.”
Three boys were using their library time to goof off, so I asked if I could help them find a book to read. One of the boys answered, cockily, “Sure, how about a book about Obama’s economic policies.” Given that he was probably eight, maybe nine years old, I sincerely doubted he even knew what an economic policy was. But, information is power, so I took all of the boys over and showed them the biography section of the library.
After a quick tutorial on how to find, alphabetically, biographies on the President, I asked the boys if any of them would want to be President someday. Not surprisingly, the cocky one said yes, but the other two shook their head. One of them, tellingly, explained that he wouldn’t want so many people to dislike him.
They looked at pictures of the President in the books, and again, the cocky one laughed and said the above overhear about our President. It was finally at this point that I lost it.
“You do not disrespect the President of the United States, ever!” I told them. “You can absolutely disagree with his, or her perhaps someday, policies or choices, but no matter what, it is a difficult job that they have taken on and they deserve our respect for that.”
It hit home…. And the boy was finally quiet. At least until after I walked away.
I will reiterate this truth I believe in, our words have power, even more so when we are speaking them as adults around children. What we say and how we say it goes right into their head and without the context to understand our emotions, they none the less pick up on our beliefs. And I am not talking about our policy beliefs… I am talking about our moral beliefs. For example, how we treat people even when we disagree with them.
To riff an old jazz song; It ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it! That’s what gets results.
BTW - I think Obama looked very cute in the picture.
- BETTING JESSICA readers please note –
Next week I am re-releasing an updated version of BETTING JESSICA. On Thursday November 15th (a week from today) I will have a one day free promotion so that you can grab the revised version if you want it for your
Also, if you liked reading about Jessica’s foil, Cynthia, in BETTING JESSICA then you might like to read a free story about her coming out November 30th on Free Reads from the Genre-istas. Check it out at: http://freereadsfromthegenre-istas.blogspot.com/
Finally, we are looking at the end of February for the release of my next novel, UNTANGLING THE KNOT. I’ll keep everyone updated here and on my home page.
Thanks so much for sharing the journey.
“I’ve been organizing things but now no one can find what they need.”
Everyone right now seems to be cleaning house. I know they say it happens in the Spring, but I actually think that with the start of school parents everywhere have set a new goal to become better organized. And, apparently this isn’t limited to only parents; the above overhear was from the new manager at my local Starbucks who has her own plans for improving efficiency.
Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to create intuitive new spots for things… and even more difficult to get our brain to conform to new habits. I have recently run into this as I have tried to re-organize my blog archive. Those fun little tags I have been using willy-nilly are now out to get me. Why, for example, do I find my blog post about the word
‘funnest’ under the tag Apple
? (turns out it references the company, not the fruit; click here
to read it).
It is a lot of work to go back and re-sort all of my posts into correct buckets. And… even when/if I do, I have a feeling I am still going to get it wrong. There is a reason information design is a science. In fact I’m positive I have
written a post all about this before but I can’t seem to locate it in my messed up archives.
So, if you happen to come across it under any of my tags, like say, friendship,
please let me know. I have a feeling I could use some organizing help.
Oh…. And for future reference, this post will be tagged withAll
just to be on the safe side.
“Next time just leave the cans in your cart. That way there’s less lifting for both of us.”
Given that the clerk was directing this at a 6 foot, well-muscled guy I imagine she will end up being the main beneficiary of this plan. And though technically there was nothing wrong with this plan…. after being around a clever 8 year old I am used to plans being presented as benefiting me, “If I watch t.v. mommy than you can have some time to write,”
and it has gotten rather old.
So, rather than presenting my new blog schedule as a benefit to you, my readers, I will be honest and call it what it is… a plan to give me more time to work on my creative writing. I could
say that this means as my readers you will see more of my fiction available in the future… or that you won’t be bored as often with these monologues. But really I am being selfish here. I miss my writing.
Lately it feels like every time I sit down to write I end up in the black hole of my email or creating a new blog post. I love writing my blog, it is true…. My overhears often amaze me. But I really miss my characters. So starting next week, I will be blogging every Tuesday and Thursday (rather than m/w/f).
Hopefully this will also give me more time to flesh out the rest of my site. In November my next book, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, will be released and, like BETTING JESSICA, I want to set up a separate section of my website for readers who have read the book and want more. In this case I think it will be more about planning a wedding…. But as I said, I am still working on it. I’d love to hear your ideas about what might be there…. So check out the description
of the book and then leave me a comment below.
It’s in both of our best interests… or, okay, mostly mine.