“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”


With all the fear and anger roiling around the world right now, this seems like a logical question to ask.  Why can’t we be friends?  Why do humans have to revert to their lizard brains all the time?  Why do we constantly behave as though we are competing with everyone else?  Why do we fear those who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or do anything else like us?  This isn’t rhetorical.  I really want to know.

Maybe I don’t understand because I’m not especially competitive.  I don’t care who wins or has the most toys, as long as everyone feels like they got treated fairly and has enough of the necessities.  That’s really all I want out of the world, and I don’t think it’s that much to ask.

It’s almost Thanksgiving.  I thankful for a roof over my head, decent food, education, good health, my family and friends, my pets, electricity, and indoor plumbing.  Nobody is shooting at me or trying to blow me up.  I’ve got it pretty good.  And my wish to Santa this year is that everybody else in the whole wide world gets the same things.  I won’t get it, but I’m gonna keep wishing for it, anyway.  And I’ll do whatever small things I can to make my wish come true.

I’ve made all these statements and asked all these questions before.  And like a four-year-old, I’ll keep asking until I get a satisfactory answer.

(Special Note: I did spellcheck, like I always do, and the program suggested I replace “pray” with “prey.”  Now I think that’s kind of odd.  Why would I want to exchange a word that means to ask with a word that means to hunt or be hunted?  And just why would the program think that’s what I meant?  *sigh*  More questions without answers.)

“Back on the Chain Gang”


It turns out getting back into the swing of posting regularly is harder than I thought.  I feel like I don’t really have much to say, even though I know there’s a bunch of stuff bubbling under the surface.  So I’m just gonna buckle down and post something.

It helps that this happens to be one of my favorite Pretenders’ songs.  (My dad always got a kick out of the line “got in the house like a pigeon from hell.”)  Chrissie Hynde wrote this sad tune about life going on after the death of James Honeyman-Scott.  Because no matter how hard it is, no matter how much you just want to crawl back into bed and pretend the world doesn’t exist, sometimes you just have to get up and get back to work.

I learned that after Dad died.  I guess I always knew it.  Whenever there was a major earthquake here in SoCal, I always marveled at the way everyone who was mostly unaffected continued on with their lives as if the ground beneath their feet had not just moved.  After 9/11, it was stunning to see traffic and people eating in restaurants (I was one of those people eating a restaurant).  I would settle down after a day or two myself, and move on with things.  After Daddy died, I found myself forced to do stuff.  I wanted to just curl up and sob myself into oblivion.  But arrangements needed to be made, the house taken care of, the proper authorities and creditors called.  My mother was terribly ill at the time, too, so I also needed to take care of her.  There was just this overwhelming amount of stuff to do.  And I coped by doing more stuff– cleaning out closets and drawers at midnight, desperate to keep busy.

I wanted the world to stop turning every time I felt thrown, but that’s not how the world works.  I’m just a tiny part of the universe, not the center of it.  I’m okay with that now.  This latest crisis has thrown me for quite a loop, but it isn’t even the end of my own world; it’s just a temporary detour.  Stuff still needs doing.  You just pick yourself up and do it.

There’s a Buddhist saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”  That’s kind of what this song means to me.  You always carry the memories of whatever you lost; in that way, it’s never really lost.  But you still need wood and water.  There’s another quote I picked up from Welcome to Night Vale recently that I think says something similar: “Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

“Give ‘Em Hope”


“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you…And you…And you…Gotta give em hope.”
― Harvey Milk, The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words (link)


The definition of terror is an intense fear.  The suffix -ist is added to words to denote someone who specializes in something; the suffix -ism is used to denote the state or quality of something.  Working from those definitions, a terrorist is someone who specializes in creating an intense fear.  Terrorism is the state of being in intense fear.  That’s what happened thirteen years ago today in the United States.  We were placed in a state of intense fear, and I’m not sure we have ever escaped.

So many people around the world are living in a state of intense fear right now.  People are afraid.  Many of them have good reason to be afraid.  There are lunatics with guns and other weaponry invading their homes and dropping bombs on them.  Syria, Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan.  I’m not sure there’s a single country that hasn’t been somehow touched by terrorism.  By comparison, we’ve gotten off easy.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’re not entirely safe, and quite frankly, our foreign policy since 9/11 hasn’t really made us any safer.  The way our airlines and other transportation have handled security has not created more secure travel.  All any of what we have done the last thirteen years has accomplished is to create more fear, for ourselves and so many others.

And I don’t diminish the damage that’s already been done.  The amount of damage and suffering that’s been caused by the 9/11 attacks has been way more than enough.  I still, to this day, cannot fully wrap my head around what happened.  I feel so very lost and afraid when I think about all those people killed, the skyline of New York scarred forever.  I know it could happen again anywhere at any minute.  The point of terrorism is that nobody knows when or how terrorists will strike.  The terrorists do this precisely so they can create that intense, crippling fear.  They want everyone to be so afraid that they stop doing whatever it is the terrorists hate so much.  Because none of this is about legitimate protest or revolution.  It’s about hate.  And fear.  It’s about creating a world where the only point of view that matters is that of the lunatic with the guns.

You’ll probably recognize the state of intense fear in more than just 9/11 or ISIS attacks.  You can probably see it in all the school shootings.  It’s there in rioting and police shootings.  It exists anywhere it’s illegal to even speak about homosexuality.  Terrorism comes in many forms; it wears many faces.  It lives in every racial slur, or misogynist insult.  Not all terrorists are Muslim, and not all of them come from foreign countries.  There are terrorists right in our own backyards, in our malls, in our office buildings.  Every place where someone lives in intense fear, there is terrorism.

And the only way to fight fear is to stop being afraid.  It’s not going to be simple, or easy; there are a lot of complicated problems that need real solutions.  But each and every person on this planet can do something to stop terrorism.  All they have to do is replace their own fear with hope.

“Harper Valley P.T.A.”


Sometimes I just get a little bee in my bonnet.  Today’s bee decided to sting the morality police.

Y’all know who they are.  They’re the people who think it’s okay to tell everyone else how to live their lives.  They want to spread the gospel (not to be confused with The Gospel) of their narrow-minded little view of the world.  They think everyone ought to follow a certain set of moral rules–except of course for themselves.

I’m not criticizing any particular group, religion, or creed.  This kind of immoral morality seems to sprout up regardless of your persuasion.  It does seem to be most visible among certain groups, who shall remain unnamed, but there’s at least one in every crowd.  Religious people who regularly violate the tenets of their faith.  The “fiscally conservative” politician who freely spends taxpayer money on luxuries for him/herself.  The academic scholar who plagiarizes.  Throw a rock.  You’ll hit someone who thinks the rules only apply to other people.

I don’t like people like this, which is probably why I like this song so darn much.  I’ve got my own set of morals and rules, and I’m not gonna say I don’t screw up pretty regularly.  I try not to judge people who make honest mistakes, but people who deliberately try to impose their beliefs on others only to turn around and break their own rules are crappy excuses for human beings.

And I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Enjoy the rest of your evening.

“Who Are You?”


I’ve recently begun following bottledworder, and she wants to know who her readers are.  I thought since I’ve gained a few followers since I started this little enterprise that I ought to give explaining myself an update.

Whenever somebody asks me who I am, I always want to respond, “I’m just me.”  Like most people, I’m pretty complicated and pretty simple at the same time.  I feel like I’m a low-maintenance person, but I know I can be passive-aggressive and needy (both of which are pretty high-maintenance qualities).  I’m essentially lazy, but productive and efficient when I’m taking care of business.  I like being alone much of the time, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to stay in better touch with my friends and family.  I am, as the song says, “a walking contradiction” (bonus points for naming the song . . . I’m testing out a possible new blog feature that could result in prizes).

I’m a single, middle-aged white woman living in the suburbs.  My mom has moved into the house with me, which has filled in a little of the gigantic hole left when my father passed away last May.  I don’t have kids, but I do have cats, which sometimes amounts to a similar amount of work.  I like books and movies and music (duh).  My idea of a nice day out is visiting a museum.  I abhor stupidity.  I believe in equality, justice, and all around fairness.  I’m a raging liberal, a Buddhist, and (gasp!) an intellectual.  (That’s right, boys and girls, I’m the Tea Party’s worst nightmare.)

I like all kinds of music, but I’m partial to Classic Rock and singer-songwriter types.  As a writer and reader, words are especially important to me, so I tend to place a lot of emphasis on lyrics.  I can’t sing or play an instrument, but I love to listen.  Don’t look to me for detailed discussions of guitar tunings or recording techniques; I’ll opine on what I know, and fake the rest.  Music is one of the most important parts of my life, and I will always try to treat it with respect.  If I go off on a particular artist, it’s because I think they add nothing to the musical lexicon.  And if you’ve been reading this blog for longer than, say, five posts, you probably already know a lot of this.

But a little refresher never hurts.  (Just for the record, I have a lot of trouble spelling the word “maintenance,” even though one of my favorite books is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.)

Dec. 8th


Today’s the anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination.  As we remember his vision of a world at peace, we also continue to mourn the death of a leader who did everything he could to bring that vision into reality.

The holiday season is filled with both great love and generosity, and great consumerism and waste.  If you’re buying gifts, try to buy things people will use.  Things that might not be necessary, but that will be loved.  If you have a little extra, give some of it to someone who doesn’t.  Be kind not just to everyone else, but to yourself.  If you’re alone, maybe you can give the gift of life to a shelter animal (and the gift of companionship to yourself).  Do something that makes someone smile.  And be sure to put some change in the red buckets of the Salvation Army.  The good you put out into the world will come back to you tenfold.

Imagine a world that is a better than it was yesterday.

“Rock Me on the Water”


So I was listening to this song today, and I had one of my little epiphanies.  Of course, as a Buddhist, I suppose I should be using a term like “moment of enlightenment.”  Whatever it’s called, it was just one of those things that as soon as it dawned on me, it was the most logical thing in the world.

Wanna know what it is?

In a minute.  Listen to the song first.

I’ve always loved this song.  On one level, it’s pretty dark.  There’s a lot of talk about judgement and redemption and salvation, and not all of it is positive.  In this worldview, there are people who might not be saved.  They’re the ones who’ve cut themselves off from the world, the people who don’t want to help anyone but themselves: “You’re lost inside your houses, there’s no time to find you now.”  But there’s hope here, too.  “Well the fires are raging, hotter and hotter, but the sisters of the sun are gonna rock me on the water.”  All you’ve got to do is “get down to the sea somehow.”

My epiphany came near the end, in the final verse.  This is a song about salvation, about finding hope for the world in your community; it’s one of Jackson Browne’s favorite themes.  He knows that people need to work together to save not only themselves, but the world.  But he also knows that the only one who can save you is yourself.  That in the end, you’re judged alone:  “When my life is over, I’m gonna stand before the father, but the sisters of the sun are gonna rock me on the water.”  Of course, that line is a contradiction in and of itself.  He’s going to be judged alone, but he’s not going to be alone when it happens.  Which led me to my moment of enlightenment:

I’m not going to be judged.

Or, to be more accurate, the only one who can judge me is me.  I’m responsible for my life, my actions, my thoughts.  I can choose to follow a path that helps others, that gives something back to the world.  Or I can choose to walk the path that helps only me.  I can be in the world, or I can be in my own world.  It’s no one’s choice but mine, and no one will judge me for it but me.

My tendency to judge other people by my own standards is something I’ve always struggled with.  And I probably always will.  I will continue to look at other people’s behavior through my own standards, and I will continue to find them wanting.  But my opinions are mine.  And ultimately, my opinions will have no effect on those people.  It shouldn’t.  That’s part of this epiphany, you know.  Everyone else is responsible for their own lives and actions.  I have to learn to live with that.  Maybe that will help me temper some of my less attractive attitudes.  Maybe not.  That’s my problem, not yours.

“Rock me on the water, sister will you soothe my fevered brow.  Rock me on the water.  Maybe I’ll remember, maybe I’ll remember how.”

“The Secret of Life”


Today’s post is inspired in part by Rob over at 45 Spins.  He seems to be musing over the one thing all bloggers muse about from time to time: 

Just exactly what the hell is my blog about?

He’s a music blogger, like me, although I’ve discovered blogging about music has led me down all sorts of interesting avenues.  I manage to incorporate just about anything that tickles my fancy or raises my ire.  It doesn’t always work, but I decided long ago that I’m not going to delete any post just because no one read it.  If I did, I never would’ve gotten this far.  I do think there’s a song for every situation, every event, every milestone.  Sort of like an ultimate soundtrack to the movie we’re all starring in.  It’s called Life: How 6 Billion+ People are Living It.  Music is life, and life is filled with music.

Rob’s post really reminded me of this song.  We all want to know what our lives mean, and I guess figuring out what your blog means is just another piece to that puzzle.  What is the meaning of life?  I suppose it depends on who you ask, and when.  For the nerdier among us, the answer to the question is 42.  For some people it’s family, or God.  For others, it’s their careers.  If you’re a child, life is getting hugs and presents for Christmas and riding your bike (or whatever kids get up to these days).  If you’re a teenager, your life is defined by things like crushes and popularity and whether or not you passed your driver’s test.  For me . . .  well, I think it’s all those things.  And none of them.  Because what it comes down to is what the song says: “The secret of life is there ain’t no secret, and you don’t get your money back.”

Although if you really pressed me, I suppose I’d quote another song to you, one that really does say the one true thing I will always believe.

“All you need is love.”



“Daydream Believer” (Not Really a Repost)


Confession time.  I am a daydream believer.  (Wow.  I know that’s a really big shocker for y’all, but try to stay with me here.)  I’m the one who sits around imagining and fantasizing about all sorts of things–money, love, new furniture, what have you–and actually believes it might come true.  I “hide ‘neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings.”

Well, maybe “believe” is a bit too strong of a word.  Sure, when I was younger, I really did believe I was gonna marry a rock star.  (Bono, if you must know.  Yeah, yeah, I know he’s very happily married already.  That was just a technicality to my overactive, hormone-addled imagination.  We were destined to be together, I just knew it.)  Every angsty poem I wrote would be the greatest thing ever published.  I’ve won the lottery and the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes so many times in my mind, I could wipe out the national debt if it were really my money.  Every penny I picked up really would bring me good luck.  (That one’s sort of true, in the sense that I usually end up making about five bucks in loose change I pick up every calendar year.  And yes, I do keep track.)  For a pretty significant portion of my teens and twenties, fairy tales and soap operas were nonfiction as far as I was concerned.

I scoff at all this now, publicly at least.  There’s still a little part of me that lives in that fantasy world, that really kind of believes that this time, things will turn out the way I imagine they will.  Of course, they never do, and I’m always just a little bit disappointed.  But hope is indeed eternal.  I’m sort of like Tim Tebow in that respect; I still think that one fantastic movie-style moment is actually going to happen, even when I know damn well it won’t.  Movie moments happen in the movies because they don’t happen in real life, but romantics like me need to see them.

Confessing to all this gooey, adolescent daydreaming is kind of embarrassing for me.  I like to present myself as a cynic, far more worldly than I really am.  But it’s cathartic, too.  Because it feels good to let that particular cat out of the bag, to know that what might be my most embarrassing secret is out there for all to read.  And besides, there’s always a chance something amazing could happen.  After all, even the losers get lucky sometimes.

But that’s another song.

Repost: “Music, Sex, and Cookies”


I went to Trader Joe’s today, and picked myself up a box of their vanilla Joe Joe’s (like Oreos, only way better), which got me thinking about cookies and music.  Which led me straight back to this song.


Everybody has a theme song or two.  It’s part of being a human being in the age of (television/cinema/information/digital downloads/choose your poison).  Depending on your mood, it could be soaring and inspirational or the saddest emo ever known to humankind.  Or it could be amazingly silly, with just a hint of truth.

There really are a lot of songs that resonate with me on a very deep level.  I can “hear” myself in a lot of music; it’s part of what makes music such an important part of my life.  There’s even a few that I keep coming back to, over and over, as being representative of the person I am and the person I want to be.  But I find myself so oddly connected to this little ditty, that I’ve always considered it my theme.  I heard it on the Dr. Demento show many, many years ago.  (I think Dr. Demento must represent some sort of adolescent rite of passage.  Just about everyone I know started listening to him somewhere around puberty and quit right about the same time they started/ended college.)  I had no idea who performed it or when it was recorded.  For all I knew, it was a listener sending the good Doctor his homemade demo tape, a la Weird Al Yankovic.  I’ve got a little more information now, but this will always be the song I heard late one Sunday night and said, “My god, that’s me!” (except for the fact that I’ve never heard anything by the Pousette Dart Band).  As life philosophies go, it’s not bad.  A little hedonistic, but harmless.  The main purpose I think “Music, Sex, and Cookies” serves, and the one thing I think we all need to keep in mind, is that it reminds us not to take things too seriously.  Enjoy life.  Stop and have a cookie once in a while.  I’m partial to chocolate chip myself.