Monday, November 26, 2007

The New Environmentalism

Okay, for those of you wondering about the last Thanksgiving blog, which I was hoping no one would notice, note-never blog with a 2 year old around. I don't know what happened but Asa pressed something and there went the blog trolls posting nothing.

I was reading the newspaper a few days ago and I read an article about wood fireplaces. Apparently allergy suffer's are requesting that people not use these very much. And some environmentalist are joining the cause as a woodstove uses a precious commodity-wood. All that makes sense but it begs the question-how the hell am I suppose to heat my house?!?!?! If I use natural gas, coal, or oil, I am using a fossil fuel. If I use wood, I am using a renewable, albeit limited, resource. I could try solar, but in the Pacific NW, during winter, it would seem a little like gambling. Bio-diesal is being tossed around but then others complain that it compromises limted food sources in areas and more people could starve. I could fart a lot but than I would be contributing methane-or is that only cows? I really do care about the environment and I try to keep semi-abreast on new technology and theories, and I am sorry that people with allergies suffer. I am sorry that people without allergies suffer. But the hard, very cold truth is that some how I have to provide heat for my family, and I'd like to do it without someone looking at me askance. So what do you do? Is this what Environemntalism has brought us? To much information that causes us to cringe no matter what good action we try and take?


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Meaning of Christmas

I am Jewish. I never thought much about it growing up. So I was the only kid, besides my sister, who didn't ride the pale, yellow bus to Sunday School. And I was pretty clueless as to the meaning of Jesus Christ. I thought he was like Queen Elizabeth I or Attila Hun-just another dead, famous person. So no one else knew what Hannukah was- a lot of my friends weren't Girl Scouts either. When you are kid, what, and since you never know different you never assume it could be any other way.
So when we talk about Christmas, I get offensive. In fact, I am pretty confident my sister will read this and cringe. Not only has she heard this lecture before, but she hates it and I think she disagrees with it. But you should know, I am not an expert, nor do I represent the Jewish Community. This is Dena Dictator talking-if I ruled the world, this is how I would rule it.
If I ruled the world, everyone would celebrate Christmas-American Style. I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the smell of fake garland, stockings by the fire (but no chesnuts-yuck), and just about every Christmas song out there. I love giving, and receiving, gifts. And I get pissed at the religions who want to take that away. My particular pet peeve is the Christians who want to put Christ back into Christ-Mas. Hello, he was never there to began with.
Long ago, in Europe, there was a holiday that celebrated the Winter Solistice. After years of fighting with the Christians, the Solistice celebrants had a conversation that I imagine went like this:
Christian: We want you to quit your winter holiday-it is unholy.
Pagan: Dude, no way.
Christian: You are Pagan.
Pagan: Dude, yeah.
Christian: Okay, we have tried for years to get you to quit celebrating the Winter Solistice. How about you celebrate the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ instead, since you are so damn stubborn.
Pagan: Call it what you want dude, party on.
The Winter Solistice holiday, which pre-dated the Christians, got a new name, a new look, and eventually a new home in the New World, where we morphed it into the juggernaut it is today. The Germans added the tree, Hallmark added wrapping paper, and with a few twists and turns, we got Christmas as only Americans can do it.
I love Christmas in that it has become a holiday that can mean anything to anyone. It is essentially, The Blob. Want a nice, quiet, reflective time for your personal religion? Got it covered. Looking for mass commercialization with no meaning at all? It can be there. Party central with dancing and beverages for all? Boogie woogie all night long. Helping your fellow man and thinking about peace on earth? Donate away.
For me personally, I tend to follow the line of thinking Bill Murray expressed in the movie "Scrooged". Christmas is the one time of year where we really stop and think of our fellow human beings. We care a little bit more, we help out a little bit more, and we make sure that our family knows all this too, because they are fellow human beings as well. Maybe this is adapting the Three Wise Men aspect of the Christian Holiday, but hey, Christmas is The Blob and it is a good idea. I watch the movies, sing the songs, pick out personal gifts for family, wave and smile at Santa Claus, and love the lights on the longest night of the year. Bring it all on.
So what does this have to do with being Jewish? Nothing. Just like Jesus Christ has no meaning for me at Christmas time, Judaism has no meaning in Christmas either. I don't think of Christmas as a religious holiday. So I get upset at the people who want trees out of airports. That want decorations out of the stores. No mention of Christmas in schools-if the holiday isn't celebrated at home the children will get confused and upset. Please-this is America. Everytime I get a Christmas tree, I get jubiliant-like I am sticking it to the Man. Want Christ in Christmas-look at me celebrating the longest day of the year, with my family, as only a crass Jewish, American can. That every Ultra-Conservative Christian who wants to complain about the loss of Christ in a holiday they stole anyway is getting the middle finger from me when I sing a carol about Santa Claus stuffing his fat self down the chimney. Hip hip hooray! If I ruled the world, every Jew would celebrate Christmas becasue it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ anyway. And to add to that, Christmas would be the third Friday of every Decmber so more people could get a three-day weekend out of it. Um, but don't hold your breath on any of this coming true. I am a long, long way from being dictator of the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What If,,,

Last night Nick and I watched "Jumanji". This is a mid-1990's movie with Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt, about a boy who gets caught in a board game. I don't want to spoil the ending but on the other hand, the ending is what got me thinking so watch out...I am going to spoil the ending. This boy who gets caught in the game basically gets out 25 years later, a grown man. They finish the game and he goes back to being a kid again, essentially repeating his life. So if I got to repeat my life, knowing what I know now, what would I do over?
In all honesty, I think the only thing I would change is that I would have been an exchange student in college. I still kick myself that I was in such a hurry to get out, that I was afraid to take 6 months, or even a year, and travel. What was my hurry? What did I get for graduating in a certain time frame?
I know a lot of people will be surprised to hear this, and please don't be shocked, but I have made a lot of mistakes. I have said things I regret. I have passed on opportunities I wish I had taken advantage of. There are points of my life I let fear decide my options. But the reality is, every mistake, every emotioanl battle scar, and every blunder has led me to who I am today. Okay, maybe I am not so hot. I could stand to lose 20 pounds, improve my temper, and I have become incredibly impatient. But I am a pretty good friend, becoming a better cook, and I pick up litter so I think it all balances out. Besides, if I had gone to college in Arizona, would I have met the friends I have today? Would I have been able to date Nick? If I had bought a new car instead of used car in 1998, would I be more in debt today? If I had decided to have kids the minute Nick and I married, would we have withstood the pressure of parenthood as newlyweds and still be married today? The "What If.." game is tricky because each decision we take affects other decisions we make. Like a rock thrown in a pond, we have no idea how far the ripples will go.
The other thing I honestly believe: until I take my last breath, just about anything is a possibility. Right now, I have no interest in running the Boston Marathon. But maybe when I am 80 years old, I will be out there with my walker patiently taking each step until I reach the finsh line and can say "I did the Boston Marathon". Maybe that is why I have few regrets-I know I can still accomplish my goals.
Oh yeah, and if I did go back, I would buy less neon in the early '80's, and have shorter bangs in the late '80's. I don't care what the fashion would be, some things I refuse to do again.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I blinked, plus dinner was gross

My son turned 2 last Wednesday. Gulp-I no longer have a baby. I could go on and on about the changes, the memories of the day he was born, etc. etc. But it is enough here to say that I love him and he continues to amaze me. (Who in the world taught him what a cookie is?!?!?!)
Let me start by saying I have nothing against birthday parties. And I have nothing against birthday parties for small children. I have even attended a few in my day and Asa had so much fun he fell asleep in the driveway before I could start the car. But for myself, I have not had any desire to throw Asa a party. Last year we had both sets of grandparents over and because a big game was on, Nick's cousin Tommy came over with his girlfriend. (Okay, Tommy's girlfriend, Tina, is one of my closet friends so she just assumed I had invited them-let's not tell her any differently). This year just the grandparents came over for dinner the Sunday before Asa's true birthday. One day, possibly next year, Asa will look at me and want something more but for now, the kid who likes rocks and straws was perfectly content.
However, even in my hands off approach to Asa's birthday, I did want to make a good dinner the day he actually turned 2. Something semi-homecooked with things that he likes. So I put on my invisible Betty Crocker outfit and decided on Matzo Ball Soup. You can just make the matzo balls and throw them into a cooked can of chicken noodle soup. Being the true warrior I am, I cut up fresh carrots, celery, and organic chicken breast, pre-cooked them, added them to chicken noddle soup, and then added some chicken broth. Being the first time I cooked this, I tasted it as I went and even I was impressed. The chicken and vegies had a nutritional touch I felt was important, but the canned portion added the noodles that Nick liked.
We were in the homestretch-I added the matzo balls to boiling soup and in 20 minutes dinner would be served.
Okay-I should have SIMMERED the soup because 10 minutes later I had burnt soup and half cooked matzo balls that smelled of burnt soup. The good news is I saved the pan. Our happy birthday dinner now consisted of frozen corndogs follwed by frozen tater tots. Feeding my son stuff that hadn't seen the light of day in maybe a year was not how I envisioned his second birthday. Have I mentioned before that I am grateful Asa's memory is limited?

Monday, November 05, 2007

The No No Friends

I have to start by making two comments. One, all my friends matter to me-A LOT! I could go on and on about how much they mean to me but it would be boring and only make me cry. So if I talk to you at all, it means I think highly of you.
Second, I want the world to go my way. I won't even sugar coat it-I am that selfish. Of course, it doesn't always go my way, but just so you know, I honestly wish that it would every single day.
I talked to my friend Jennifer last Saturday. She lives in Texas so I don't see her that often, and neither of us are phone people so I don't talk to her that often either. But I miss her, and I love her to death, and I am really crossing my fingers that she gets a job in Salem, which is a hell of a lot closer to me than anywhere in Texas.
But the truth of the matter is that everytime I spend time with Jennifer, I feel like I am bucking the system. See, Jennifer isn't suppose to be my friend, or it might be that I am not suppose to be friends with her. Either way, I often feel pressure from society because Jennifer is a lesbian and I am not.
I have no problem with Jennifer being a lesbian. It is like being 5 ft. tall or 6 ft. tall-what is, is. And Jennifer and I have talked about this-I forget she is a lesbian all the time. That might offend people but I can't help it. Jennifer talks to me about her girlfriends but since that is how I have always known her, I don't find it odd. (Jennifer has admitted to me that she forgets she is a lesbian as well-liking women isn't all that strange to her either after all these years.) But that is where society wants to trip us up. Childhood friends that "turn" lesbian are okay to keep as friends because when you met them, everyone was just a kid and didn't know "better". Co-workers and family members fall into the same category-you can't really help being around them so they qualify as okay too. But to meet someone who is openly homosexual, not be homosexual yourself, and then go on to call them one of your closets friends is like asking for trouble. The number of people who assume I am gay, and denying myself, are numerous. And that whole assumption comes from the idea that there is no way a straight person is ever so comfortable with homosexuality that they would culitvate a friendship beyond it. Hmm-I am so positive Jennifer is a good person, I would leave my son to her if anything happened to my husband and I.
So where do I get angry? I get angry that society can't accept a friendship, for a friendship. I feel this pressure with a lot of my friends actually. For whatever reason, the phrase "birds of a feather, flock together" seems to be the mantra of people today. So my friends that are good Christians, male, and homosexual almost have to be the same system bucker I am. Because I am okay with friends different than me. Or maybe I should say that ALL my friends have the same basic qualities of being some of the nicest, smartest, most caring people I have ever met and the rest of society is using the wrong criteria to make a friendship work.
Happy Birthday Jennifer-you are just as a crazy now as when I met you!!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thanks For November

Thanksgiving may not be the juggernaut Christmas is, but it still inspires us for the month of November. With Halloween over, except for the sugar highs, and the air taking on a frosty note, November gets me thinking about what I am thankful for.
I hear a lot about families and friends, in addition to numerous inventions, and yes, I am thankful for all that. But what I am really most thankful for is memory, or lack thereof.
Memories can be happy or sad, but each one let's us build on a previous experience. When I was 17, I added to much water to bisquick and got soup. Yum. Never did that again. And I always remember how much fun I have with certain people, and how I want to ram my foot up the ass of the ones who annoy me.
But I am most thankful for my young son's lack of memory, and I truly believe that is a gift from God. Parenting, especially the first time around, is fraught with error. The time I left Asa in the garage in his car seat, with no lights on, makes me furious with myself. So is the time he rolled down our short flight of stairs, rolled off the bed, or the time he started crying when I was in the shower. Ouch-he would have a lot to tell his therapist if he could remember all that. But God cuts us some slack-we get a few years to at least work out the major kinks. Sure, Asa has learned we love him because we hug him again and again (and maybe throw in a few kisses as well.) He can slowly build on that. But the one time in the dark garage is gone. Whew.
If you think about it, the fact that none of us (not just my son) are born with memory is a gift for all of us. Childhood, in relation to the rest of our lives, is the shortest time period of all. Assuming we live to be 80, and assuming we are in childhood till about 18, that is LESS than 1/4 of our lives, and yet it seems to last so long.