There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
You are very welcome here, so feel free to comment and contribute!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Food for Thought #2

Lee is calling this "Food for Thought" Now, so I will too. Not much else is happening, so this should be fun.
Appetizer: Look to your left. What color do notice see first?

Black. My laptop case is next to me. Most everything here is black, gray or white, unless it is that shade of blue in the corporate logo. I am at work, eating lunch.

Soup: What type of beans do you enjoy most?

The attractive and delicious black-eyed pea, about which I rhapsodized at New Year's. I love that smokey flavor.

Salad: What was the most interesting thing that happened during the last week?

Since Lee was sick and nothing much else was going on, probably the new Bruce Springsteen album was it for me.

Entré: What was the most difficult decision your had to make in the last year? How did you decide?

In the past week or so I have had to come to the decision to have poor old Gwynnie euthanized. She is almost unable to walk and is losing control of her bladder. She has so much trouble getting around. She just can't be enjoying life any more. Now I just have to get it done. I do not like this, but it is probably the kindest thing to do.

Dessert: Among your friends and family, who has the next birthday?

My friend Deana has a birthday in mid-February and so does Jody. There are probably others. I am not good with birthdays. My dad is February 25.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time Heals All Wounds?

Something I was reading yesterday made a point that caused me to go, “Hmm.” I think it was in one of the endless supply of Facebook posts with 25 things about various people (as an aside, recently I read a couple of them that were so rich, interesting and entertaining that it made up for a LOT of bland and predictable ones and made me really wish I had finished mine, which was supposed to be just 16 but I could not make myself finish…).

This person said one thing she had learned in life was that time does not actually heal all wounds.

That made me think about whether that was true for me. I’ve had some rather unpleasant things happen to me that I now feel OK about: things my parents did, my divorce from the kids’ dad, losing out on a couple of jobs, a guy I loved deeply who chose another woman over me (well, make that more than one—it was the story of my life for a while there), those things Jeff used to say about me in his rages. All of those things hurt a lot at the time, but I no longer feel angry at the people involved. Some I feel nothing at all about, and others I feel positively toward. Is it just the passage of time that helped me feel better? Or did I have an active role in healing those wounds?

I’m pretty sure I had a lot to do with it. Some of those things required my lovely former therapist’s help, but I did manage to see that none of these things were my fault. I saw that some were just unfortunate circumstances, while others were because my fellow humans were, indeed, human, with failings and frailties of their own that impacted me.

However, there are some wounds that have stubbornly refused to heal as time has passed. I allude to some of them occasionally, because they keep popping up to nag at me. Sometimes the feelings on these topics come rushing back, as if the hurt occurred yesterday. Oddly, a lot of them happened around the same time, during my “vortex of despair” or whatever you want to call it. I was just dealing with the last bits and aftermath of all that when I first started blogging, and I know writing things down, no matter how vaguely, has helped process these things.

A conversation I just had with the Neighbor Coworker about “negative self talk” (ah, those New Age phrases) provided me with an insight that I think pinpoints why the wounds from situations like the horrible church situation, the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization, and the one extra unpleasant relationship I had have not healed. It’s because I have not forgiven myself for the role I played in them. I blame myself for mistakes, missteps, misunderstandings and moral blunders that I made that may have contributed to the negativity. I somehow remain convinced that I should have known better, foreseen how events were going to play out, controlled my feelings, seen through how people portrayed themselves on the surface, or predicted the outcomes of events better. I blame myself that other people got hurt and I could not protect them. I think I hold myself to a much higher standard than I hold other people to, and I judge myself way more harshly when I fail to meet my own standards.

It’s just dandy to say, “Well, Suna, for heaven’s sake, just go forgive yourself. You’re human and screw up. So does everyone.” It is another thing to actually DO that. I can forgive myself superficially for a while, but it all comes back, especially if I even slightly head down the path to a similar mistake. (I give myself credit for this: there are a number of behaviors I used to exhibit, tactics I used to use in dealing with others, and ways of thinking I do NOT engage in any more. I am capable of change for the better. Hooray for me.)

Forgiving others is hard work. They write whole books about that topic. I know; I checked on Forgiving yourself is even harder. If I ever get a real job, I hope to be able to take the time to go to therapy again, because I think it will take the help of a person who is not too close to me to work on this. Tarot, meditation and whining at my husband are not quite enough (not to mention, not fair to the husband!).

On the bright side (and yes, I revel in the fact that in my life there now IS a bright side to almost every issue that arises), I’ve made the step of identifying the issue. That’s a good one! And I hope that by sharing this with others I may spark an insight in you, or you, or you (those people being my three readers).

Another friend wrote on her 25 things: “I am wounded. A big part of me is just broken.” Some of our wounds have the same cause. Others are our own. But one thing all of us share is that we’ve all got broken areas, sore spots, wounds and bruises. That’s why it pays to be gentle with each other and to not react too harshly when you get a surprising reaction out of someone—you may have inadvertently hit a sore spot.

That’s it for another of Suna’s periodic “long, philosophical ramblings.” I’ll go out and expose myself to some sunlight now, and look at the roses by the front door of the building, in case I have S.A.D. or something.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #4: Bruce Springsteen

Yeah, I know, I picked someone who has a new album out, so it's predictable. Well, sure, but I started this to write about whoever was causing wonder in my life each Wednesday. To remind myself weekly that there IS wonder in my life, every danged week. And folks, he's it this week.

(Yeah, yeah, I know he has a funny do lot of my faves...I like Dylan, too...and I know that he's no longer "mainstream" if he ever was. Everyone's taste is different, which is why there are so many artists to choose from!)

It was a rare privilege to listen to Working on a Dream for the first time as I drove Beccano to guitar practice yesterday. We both enjoyed listening to all the "stuff" that goes on in an E Street Band CD (wow, what a bass line...hey, that's a supermarket checkout beep...goodness, there's a chorus hiding in the background...Mom, are those bells?). Then we talked to Dan the guitar shop owner, who agreed that a Springsteen concert IS a religious experience. I got to hear the rest of the CD at home with Lee, and that was good, too. Sharing the love...

Bruce Springsteen has been an important part of my life since I was 17 years old, so I've had a lot of chances to feel wonder--why not honor it today when I just listened to some music in a style that never grows old with me?

The first time I saw him live was my first real "date" with my High School Boyfriend. He'd introduced me to the album, which blew us both away. We spent many hours memorizing it as we did our hormonal teen activities. But, that evening...I remember so much of it. We ate at the Lov'n Oven pizza place. I spilled sauce on my white pants. We drove to Miami, me hoping Bruce wouldn't see my pants in the audience (it was dark, no problem). We listened. At that point, in 1975, you could SEE performers at rock concerts. We weren't all that far from the band. And it was loud. And in between he talked. Mesmerizing. I remember the smells (mmm, pot and cigarettes, INDOORS...not a highlight for this nonparticipant). And I remember driving home and getting rear-ended at a stop sign, 'cause the kids in the car behind us were high and didn't see it. The car was OK, so we kept going, but no doubt some of my adult neck issues stemmed from that little case of whiplash!

We saw him a few more times over the years. Every time was wonderful. I am sure he has memories as good as mine--we both loved rock so much, and this was our pinnacle (OK, I share it with the Who--which we saw twice, once after we broke up, even). I didn't need drugs when listening to that music. The densely layered sound with those deep grumbling bass and sax sounds and those tinkling piano and guitars...that took me to my happy space all on its own. Still does.

When I was a college freshman, The River came out. I sure was glad. I slept in a bunk bed above a girl who coughed and spit all night (when she wasn't out doing every fraternity member at the school). I am a light sleeper. I listened to side 2 of The River every night to get to sleep. The song "Drive All Night," which was long, loving and repetitive, put me to sleep. "I would drive all night again, just to buy you some shoes..." Thanks, Bruce. I still cry when I hear that song...not a greatest hit, just something that impacted me.

As Bruce moved into his "dry" period, I mean, the solo years, the music didn't put me into that trance like the wall-of-sound E Street Band stuff did, but I learned a lot about song structure, politics and conviction from the music. More important, I saw how Springsteen did not make a big deal out of his political and social beliefs. He just LIVED them. Later, when he finally started talking more, I was really touched to learn how much we have in common in how we feel about issues, family, love and life. Heck, I just saw a photo of the warm, comfortable and slightly cluttered room he writes in. It looks like a room I'd decorate, and in it is my favorite Stickley chair, too!

Have you ever been disappointed to learn a favorite artist had beliefs that you disagree with, or that a favorite actor/politician made a lot of bad choices (can you say Clinton, Edwards...? I can.)Bruce has not disappointed me. Even when he married the starlet and they got divorced, I understood. It has to be so hard to be suddenly THAT famous. You do things you are expected to starlets, hang out with the rich and famous, turn on your old friends...but Springsteen didn't stick with that stuff. He still has his friends from his youth (where would he be without Miami Steve?), he values his family and prioritizes them over so much, even with his incredible touring schedule. And he is true to himself. He makes the music that's in him, not what a label says to make.

There's a nice article on him in the current Rolling Stone, the one with him on the cover. It's worth reading, especially reading how he treats his band members. He treats people like they'd want to be treated. And you know, that right there is enough to instill wonder in me.

Who are your musical wonders? Who takes you to your happy space? Beccano says Radiohead does it for him: "They have all those layers, too, Mom." I'm glad he has that music, and hope it stays with him always, like Thunder Road does for me. Want me to sing it for you right now? No? OK. Go read something else now.


Rolling Stone issue 1071

Bio on Wikipedia
Backstreets Magazine: All Bruce, all the time!
Fairly Balanced Review of Working on a Dream (as usual, people either love it or hate it)

Monday, January 26, 2009

2008 Year in Review

I got the meme below from someone else's blog, but lost my link to it while reading in Bloglines. Brilliant. So, thanks, original person. I am lazy so I also posted this in Facebook as my response to the 25 Random Things about Me meme, because I just can't think of enough things.

It was a long weekend with Lee sick and me frustrated because knitting wasn't going the way I wanted. But I went to a lovely 30th anniversary ceremony and party, done by the same officiant who did our wedding, and I enjoyed some friend time on Saturday. Otherwise, we watched movies on the giant television we got last week at the Circuit City demise sale. The thing makes me dizzy, and it isn't even the biggest size.

Report cards came out and no one failed the semester, so I have no complaints. OK, so, I'd like Lee to feel better, me and Beccano to get over our tummy issues, and healing to go out to people who have lost loved ones in my circle, but other than that no complaints. Anyway, here's 2008 in review, and a nice flower from the garden.

2008: It's Over Now

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? I helped write a wedding service that was exactly what I always wanted.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I think I resolved to survive, and I did that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My friends in choir had a precious baby boy, and I’ve enjoyed watching him grow and reading the blog about him—this baby is being raised by very thoughtful, intelligent parents with good senses of humor. Bodes well.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No. People I cared about died, but no one in the immediate family or my close circle of friends. (However, in the last week, there has been plenty of deaths and near-deaths to worry about.)

5. What countries did you visit? South Texas?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A job with benefits, reasonable pay and non-abusive coworkers.
7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 29, the day Lee and I were married.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Planning and executing that wedding while remaining in good spirits.

9. What was your biggest failure? Being unable to stick it out at the University long enough to transfer to a nicer department.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had severe anxiety attacks from March through May.
11. What was the best thing you bought? My kids’ guitars, though one still isn’t here yet. They should be lifelong friends.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Tuba Boy’s social skills totally amaze me, and his political growth was admirable. Beccano’s dedication to music pleased me greatly.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The female coworkers and boss in the job from March-May. Bullying in the workplace is ugly.

14. Where did most of your money go? Home repairs. Wonderful ones.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The wedding! Duh!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? My Stunning Mystery Companion, the song Bill sang at the wedding.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier. I feel a lot better.

ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter, but not too much.

iii. richer or poorer? About the same, which is a miracle.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Traveling and relaxing with family and friends.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Spending energy on the organization I used to work for.

20. How will you be spending the Winter? Knitting, looking for work again.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008? No, but I stayed in love!

23. What was your favorite month of 2008? October. Band and wedding planning were fun but tiring.

24. What was your favorite TV program? Fringe, Bones or House.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, I’m working to eliminate that feeling.

26. What was the best book you read? Oh gosh, that book I totally devoured but now I can’t remember its name. Then Lee read it and devoured it.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Ack, there are two or three new groups the kids introduced me to that I like a lot, but nothing is coming to mind.
28. What did you want and get? The perfect wedding dress.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Pineapple Express? I didn’t watch a lot of movies.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 50 and had hoped to do a lot, but just celebrated quietly. So many other people were having parties that it seemed like overkill

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? To have a satisfying job with benefits that helped me feel useful and creative.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? This year I wore lots of little things I knitted over tanks or long sleeve shirts.

33. What kept you sane? Lee and the kids, meditation, and my lovely anti-anxiety medication.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Barack Obama, for whom my respect grew through the year, as I observed how he treated other people.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? I really wanted a more open and honest government. I sure hope I got one.

36. Who did you miss? Jody and Cheri.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Well, no person is “better” than anyone else. But I am happy to have met Parker and Nancy. Both are good friends, good people, and bring me joy.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: That having stability in the home and family helps you deal with instability elsewhere. I am so grateful to Lee and my really great kids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday's Feast! Friday's Feast!

Thanks to my fine husband, who decided to do it himself, Friday's Feast is back. Let's see what questions his cold-medicine delirium came up with for me to answer (and note that you are welcome to do this and post to your own blog!)...

Appetizer: Who is the person physically nearest you right now? What is that person doing?
Daniel is quietly typing. That's all he does, other than occasionally make a munching sound. Quietest coworker ever (I am writing this on lunch break).

Soup: Hit Shuffle on your mp3 player. What do you like most about the song came up? (If you don’t have an mp3 player, use the song currently on your favorite radio station.)
My MP3 player is at home. And I can't get radio in here. The song in my head is "Oklahoma" and I have no clue as to why it's there. But, it's a frequent feature on Suna's internal radio. I hope others have internal radios, too.

Salad: What is your favorite restaurant?
It used to be the Greek restaurant right down Golf Road from Meacham in Schaumburg, Illinois. But, I'll never get to eat THERE again due to anti-Suna rays or something. So, here in the greater Austin/Round Rock area, I think it would be Z Tejas. Every entree I ever had there was superb, and I love the vegetables and potatoes, too. I also love Kerbey Lane, but both of those are out because they are too loud for Lee to enjoy (the Kerbey Lane near us just moved and suddenly became cacophonous) . Of the restaurants I actually get to eat at, it would be a tie between Kim Phung (Vietnamese/Chinese) and Johnny T's Barbecue (home of the barbecue from our wedding). (I'd will say I like to GO to Mesa Rosa, but I wish they have a more varied menu.)

Entré: What are you most looking forward to in the Obama administration? What do you most fear? (Even Republicans has something to hope for, and even Democrats have something that they fear.)
I look forward to being able to actually trust my government's leaders to be acting with the country and world's best interests at heart, and not just with the interest of the richest people on earth at heart. My fear is that hate-filled nut-cases will do foolish things, which seems to happen to so many people with strong moral compasses and the guts to stand up to extremists.

Dessert: What made you laugh hardest in the last 24 hours?
It was not a particularly funny 24 hours. There were layoffs at work that directly affected people I care about, my husband was very sick, the sick dog peed all over the carpet, and I had a semi-frustrating visit to the cable company offices. I remember laughing at something Stephen Colbert said, but I can't remember what it was. Gee, most days I'd do better on this question.

PS: I didn't have a Wednesday Wonder this week because I was too sick and tired on Wednesday to post. It would have been Obama anyway. And I think we've all heard enough presidential gushing for a while. Next week, someone less predictable!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ahhh, Proud.

I have heard it so many times today: I feel proud to be an American again.

So do I, for the first time since I was really young.

I realized I also feel something else, as I was driving home from work. I also feel noticeably less fearful. I think I was really afraid someone was going to bomb us at any minute the entire time that Bush was in office, with all that braggadocio and belligerence towards other countries. I worry for Obama's personal safety, but feel like we Americans are much safer now, at least for a time.

I love how today's speech reflected a call to work together with all Americans, all political factions, and all nations. You've heard me go on and on before about how I think the only way things will get better is if people work together. Finally someone with some influence agrees.

I don't have a twelve-page post today. Just a nice picture of my fresh new adult in his late-arriving birthday shirt. This is the official inaugural shirt and I am glad it came in time, though I wish he could have worn it to the MLK Day march he went to yesterday with his debate friends (what great future leaders they are!). I got a little "44" in a blue oval to put on the back of my car, too. Hee hee. It's nice and subtle. I can take off my big ole bumper sticker, now.

Thanks again to all who responded to my last post. I have been uplifted and feel validified by the kind and thoughtful reactions from all sides. I have great friends and fans. Thanks for being here.

And comment! I love them!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Am I Happy? Do I Know It?

I've been feeling odd. I think maybe those menopausal hormones that have left me alone for nearly 51 years are a-comin' to get me or something. For the past week or so I have often been moved to happy tears, but also easily upset (I thought I was going to vomit trying to watch The Dark Knight), and easily irritated.

Some of the Presidential inauguration things have truly moved me. Obama has posted some messages on his website that are very inspiring to me, and the concert they had today made me tear up for joy. We had a lovely church service today focusing on Odetta, the late folk singer, and it reminded me of all the really wonderful progress we have made toward civil rights. A church member of very mixed race spoke eloquently about discrimination she has dealt with in her life, and her hopes for her and her children's future. I had on my "Hope" button. Sometimes I do have hope, even though it is often a small spark. But...

The First Thing That Has Bugged Me

But some things have made me really sad and/or hormonally pissed off. I saw the following as the status message of a freshman boy, a child whose parents I have known a long time:
Well all you democrats, you're about to get what you wanted. An earth-destroying, pro-gay and abortion terrorist who'll be assassinated before the months' end.

Oh my. That manages to offend me and my personal beliefs in so many ways that mental bells rang and every personal button I have was bushed. Then another kid (one who is smart, and nice but strongly buys into everything his church says which leads him to occasional insensitivity) piped in that he agreed with everything but the killing part.

I was relieved when other students said they thought that what he said wasn't good. But I kept thinking. I realize this kid is young. But, wow, he needs to learn that there are ways to express an opinion that don't totally alienate friends and family, and that there are ways to share a thought that don't put down others or make yourself look ignorant and bigoted. The other thing the poor lad needs to know is that Facebook is not just a thing for people with ill-thought-out opinions to air them. Adults sometimes see what you write. Worse, potential employers may. At the least sharing racist, homophobic and unreasonably violent thoughts can alienate you from people you might need help from later (a favor, a recommendation, a ride to a band performance, say...). So, even though I don't usually do such things, I wrote a little note. I pointed these things out, as nicely as I could.

The second kid immediately realized I was right, said a couple of reasonable "agree to disagree" things and went away. The first kid's GIRLFRIEND thanked me (I thought that was pretty funny). In fact, I think I got the point across to everyone except the original kid, who deleted all the comments and informed us that he wasn't asking for advice.

I feel sad for this boy, who is parroting something her heard and has not thought through. I feel sad for a few others whose similar postings I have read in the past and not said anything (the son of a former friend lost a lot of friends by posting total ravings about Obama that weren't based on every close to reasonable conjecture). I'm sad mostly because I know there are a number of adults out there whose thought processes don't go much further than this high school freshman's either. When there are people who just reacting and not thinking, and lots of them, the chances for reconciliation are slim.

Sigh. I have a fair number of friends who are conservative. One who is very far to the right, even, about whom I care a great deal. But all of these people have thought carefully about why they believe what they do, and feel secure enough in their beliefs that they don't feel compelled to put me down because I think differently. We can talk about things, share our viewpoints, learn from each other. I am very glad to have these friends, because by knowing them well, I am reminded that "right-wing evangelical conservatives" or "Catholic Anti-abortionists" or "Mormons who are against gay marriage" are a great deal more than these one-dimensional stereotypes imply. They are parents, teachers, crafters, great cooks, people with great senses of humor, confused people, confident people, loving friends. They are humans with good and bad points, just like us crazy pro-choice liberals (or whatever stereotype you wish to apply to me). You just can't hate a group if you know the "human-ness" of the group's members. So no, I don't hate conservatives, self-defined rednecks, blah blah blah. I just disagree on some points.

And while I'm on a roll, here's what I wrote earlier on Facebook about something else I am hormonally jacked up about
(please go directly to the comments if you already read this; once is plenty).

If I'm Happy and I Know It, Why Can't I Clap My Hands?

Something's been bugging me for a while. It's about the recent elections. The candidate I supported won. That had not happened in a really long time. I was happy. I had reason to have a wee bit of hope for the future (bearing in mind I have lost a lot of jobs in the last few years and things aren't looking too good for my current contract turning permanent, any hope is good). The majority of US voters agreed to choose a leader who shares a lot of my views (not all, but someone with all my views would NEVER get elected!).

Then I started reading odd things. People who voted for the other candidate expressed sincere indignation that voters for the winning side were so darned happy. They had the nerve to say they were happy in emails, or on their Facebook status, or in their blogs. How dare they be so happy when there were other people who were darned unhappy?

Well. Hmm. I noticed a lot of jubilation. But very little in the way of put-downs of the other candidate (I grant that there are liberal jerks, of course--jerkiness knows no boundaries). In fact, many people respect the losing candidate greatly for his many contributions to the country, but simply disagreed with him on some important issues. I respect that man, myself, and might have chosen him over some Democrats, even. What on earth is wrong with being happy that you won, as long as you don't defame the people who lost?

Now, let's go back 8 years. The candidate I did not vote for won. I really, really, really didn't like this guy, who happened to have been the governor of my own state, so I had experienced his true disregard for "the little people" and his love for multinational corporations, oil conglomerates and the very rich. This fellow was declared the winner without winning a majority of votes and in fact, there's a lot of evidence that one state's votes were tampered with so that he'd win. Yet, I heard a great deal of gloating that this inarticulate fellow had a "mandate from the people." I did not see people who agreed with me wailing and gnashing their teeth--in fact they were pretty darned wimpy, and chalked it up to the democratic process and moved on to quietly work for peace and change in the middle of wars for made-up reasons and horrible financial decisions. We let the winners be happy that they won, in that election and the next. We kept low, since the word "liberal" had been turned into an insult, and wondered why our beliefs were suddenly "bad."

So, things changed. People got tired of the big-business first, regular people last philosophy, and voted differently. That made some of us happy enough to actually say, tentatively, "Yeah, I'm a progressive," or "I'm against that war," etc. Our candidate won. Why can't we say we are happy?

You know, only one team wins the Super Bowl. That team's city has a big parade. They make a lot of t-shirts and bumper stickers. People are proud their team won. No one suggests that they really shouldn't express their joy because it makes the team that didn't win feel bad. Everyone knows the other team played hard and did their best, and deserves respect. Everyone knows that team will go back and work hard to win next time. But, the winner gets to be happy.

So hey, let me be happy and clap my hands this week. I know plenty of bad stuff is ahead--no one can work a miracle and fix things right now. No, the only way things can get fixed is if we all work together, and with the divisive, hate-filled and ignorant things I have been reading lately, I don't have a lot of hope that we'll work together. Too many people get a thrill out of demonizing people with different faces, places of worship, political leanings or fiscal philosophies.

I don't think anyone I know is a demon intent on destroying the world. I respect people's rights to make informed decisions and realize that through their families, life experiences or choice of religion, their beliefs might differ from mine. I do, though, find it really sad when people I care about put me and people with beliefs like mine down or make wildly exaggerated conjectures about our future actions, just because we are different.

Look, I don't honestly think Bush set out to cause the financial downfall of Western society as part of some big plan to fund the Rapture. So don't tell me Obama is going to pry all your precious guns away, either. The truth is usually way closer to the middle.

I'm going to go clap my hands and be happy for a couple of days, then get back to trying to figure out ways to keep my family safe in the upcoming scary times. Me being happy and saying so doesn't mean I think you didn't fight a good fight or that your beliefs don't count, conservative friends. I respect and care for you, just like I always did, and realize that this country will always have people in it with a wide spectrum of beliefs--we'll never turn into your Utopia, nor mine. I think we're all going to have to compromise in order to get along--always.

Your mileage may, naturally, vary. I expect it will.

In Conclusion

I hope that by writing this all out and walking away from it, I'll feel marginally better. Thanks for reading, all ten of you! Comments are welcome. Even dissenting ones (respectful, of course, puh-leeze).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ooh, We Had a Theory

Sweet 18
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Today I was chatting with my office-mate and neighbor, who is always interesting to talk to late on a Friday afternoon. I was telling her about how Tuba Boy has lots of mature aspects, but exhibits a severe lack of the ability to plan ahead, and not much spatial sense. I pointed out that he had a band event to go to this evening, but had no idea where it was until some point this morning, and I was pretty sure he had no clue how to get there as of 4 pm (he had to be there at 6). I indicated he'd probably text one of the other kids a few minutes before he had to leave, get directions, and be just fine.

Office-Mate pondered that. She mused aloud at how the teens all communicate constantly on their phones and computers, so they really don't need to know everything. As long as one of them has a clue, the others have access to that knowledge practically instantly. We nodded at that wisdom for a while.

Then, her eyes grew wide. "You know what our kids are turning into? It's like that Star Trek thing..."

"The Borg?" I asked. "Yeah! They are like one communal mind!"

Then she reverently wondered about how much of their valuable brain power is being saved by not having to keep all their upcoming events, dates, assignments, phone numbers, addresses, and such, all in their heads. We had to remember much of this (or remember to write it in our little Hallmark yearly calendars that fit into our denim purses).

Wow, they could be having all sorts of innovative ideas that could save society. Or their heads could be full of the lyrics to every song on their iPod.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Long Time Ago

Baby Tuba Boy 2 mo
Originally uploaded by sunasak
18 years ago today, this little person showed up. I'd worked so hard to prepare for a lovely natural childbirth. It was really cold, too, in Urbana, Illinois that day. We have lots of photos of me looking large holding snowballs. I remember on January 14th driving to the hospital and feeling like I was going to die every time we hit one of those "road humps" that melting and refreezing ice cause on the roads up there.

But, by 6 am the next morning it was clear he was not exiting the normal way, so they got him out the other way. I was really disappointed about this, and so worried I'd get paralyzed form the spinal injection, but I lived. My strongest memory is when the midwife brought this little bundle around to me and a messy, wet head was looking at me. They took a picture, and he and I were both amazed looking. I swear, he LOOKED like the little thing in the sonograms! I recognized him!

Tuba Boy was the best baby ever, even though I was in total learning mode through his entire infancy. I think he was the first infant I ever knew. So, I talked to him a lot, mostly to tell him "thank you" for sleeping a lot. When he was awake, he was the most cheerful, sweet and funny guy ever (just like today). He learned to talk very early; his first word was "moon," uttered when we went into the back yard to look at a particularly lovely full moon. He pointed at it and said, "Moon!" as clear as a bell. He went on to make up a lot of words, to the endless joy of friends and family. He called music "Bydoo" and called our friends' cuckoo clock the "Bydoo Clock" for example. I remember him being pretty tiny as I walked him around the neighborhood and at every round object he said, "Ball." Over and over. One fun baby.

Today, Tuba Boy is one fine 18-year-old young man. He is still about the most verbal person i know. That kid can talk fast, and he loves to argue his viewpoints with anyone who'll engage with him. His sense of humor is not barbed, just sweet and hilarious. And he is a wonderful friend. Former Lovely Girlfriend really made a mistake, because he really treats women he cares about respectfully and kindly. He has such impressive morals and beliefs too--it is quite appropriate that he shares a birthday with Martin Luther King, Jr., who is one of his heroes.

Of course, the wonderful Tuba Boy has flaws. He procrastinates most irritatingly (I wonder if his college application materials are in the mail...?). He has a typical teen male ego in that he really doesn't think too much of the family's needs. He's pretty durned messy. And he could do a bit better at communicating with the family, though he's improving lately. But, that stuff just makes him human.

I have enjoyed the past 18 years in his company. He made my life worthwhile. When you first have a baby you think, "Wow, I am stuck with this person for the next 18 years!" but you know, I hope I am stuck with him a lot longer. I know he needs to go and stretch and find his own way, but I hope the bond we have will stay strong. I'll try to stay strong, though I think it will kill me to be without him, for quite some time.


And I'll be back to raving about Lee and Beccano next time!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Wonder: Deepak Chopra

" What??" asks any rational blog reader, "Depak Chopra? Suna, have you turned into some pop culture guru fan?"

No, I have not. But, lately I have been reading stuff he says, and I reluctantly have found my admiration for him as a person growing. He is not some superficial New Age person who over-generalizes ideas to make money (though I am sure he has made a LOT of money). He does have a deeper core of truth and intelligence that comes through in his writing, which probably has a lot to do with his popularity, which endures--he is one pop-culture expert who has NOT been proven a fake or fool.

I came to these conclusions after reading some of the things he has written about the recent US political events on the Huffington Post. Here is one example--you can find more by typing in Chopra in their search engine. Admittedly, it was easy to read this stuff, because I completely agreed with it. What impressed me, though, was how Chopra articulated thoughts that I shared, but that were just mushy, ill-formed ideas running around in my brain. He'd clarified them, written some rational justifications for them, and spelled them out in very compelling ways. And in addition, he came across as a humble fellow human being who was wrestling with the same election issues the rest of us were. For someone with so much fame and media attention, remembering to remain humble and human can't be easy. I guess his spiritual path has helped, though.

So, lately I have been reading his "daily devotion" on his blog. Here's stuff from today:
The Law of Least Effort

The Law of Least Effort: Nature's intelligence functions with effortless ease, with carefreeness, harmony, and love. And when we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.

I will put the Law of Least Effort into effect by making a commitment to take the following steps:

I will practice acceptance. Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur. I will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be. I will not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment. My acceptance is total and complete. I accept things as they are this moment, not as I wish they were.

Having accepted things as they are, I will take responsibility for my situation and for all those events I see as problems. I know that taking responsibility means not blaming anyone or anything for my situation (and this includes myself.) I also know that every problem is an opportunity in disguise, and this alertness to opportunities allows me to take this moment and transform it into a greater benefit.

Today my awareness will remain established in Defenselessness. I will relinquish the need to defend my point of view. I will feel no need to defend my point of view. I will feel no need to convince or persuade others to accept my point of view. I will remain open to all points of view and not be rigidly attached to any one of them.

from: (the link will differ from day to day)
Yeah, it's written in affirmation format, which can drive a lot of us nuts, but the points work for me. Letting go of some of this typical American aggressiveness and drive to be "right" can really help.

I honestly believe that you don't have to be a progressive follower of an alternative healing practitioner (but he's also an MD!) to get something out of his ideas. Maybe it's because I'm also a pacifist, also someone who wants to believe in the good of humanity, also a practitioner of constant efforts at self improvement...but I like this guy. So what if he's massively popular and Oprah likes him, too. She's not stupid, either.

Next week: someone less famous.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Long Sickly Weekend

Scrunchy Says Hi
Originally uploaded by sunasak
While I got a lot of knitting done on the weekend, I didn't feel too hot. And I keep trying to think hard about staying calm and how to do so. For me, that means having a plan. Lee and I have talked enough about contingency planning for if the whole employment thing falls apart so that I am no longer as panicky about it as I was a couple of years ago. Between the two of us, we do have more resources. So glad I got married, huh!

I am not sure what my issue is. It may be allergies, or a virus, but I was dizzy and felt "odd" for most of the weekend, even though we were able to eat some delicious meals, and had a lot of fun at a steack place with both kids Saturday night. I really, really love having meals with them. They are so funny together and their tales of school are quite entertaining. This is the main reason for having family meals at home--the great conversation.

Anyway, feeling like crap made for a long weekend. I could barely get off the couch, so I didn't get much of the stuff I'd planned to accomplish done.

I am realizing I have a finite amount of time with Tuba Boy now. I want to enjoy it as much as I can. I am sort of sad he didn't manage to buy anyone in his family a Christmas present, but I'll talk to him about that. I know your peers are important when you are a teen, but you should NEVER neglect to give your parents a gift. Even a poem or drawing would be appreciated. Just griping, so you won't think I think my kids are perfect, ya know!

Today's photo of Scrunchy shows the view we often see, which is his head appearing under our legs. Rose sticks her head up like a moray eel popping out of its cave--that photo will show up later, I am sure. (I will be putting images of things other than pets, soon--it's a slow photo month.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Inner Peace. Originally Typed as "Peas"

I wrote this on Facebook and had to edit it so that it would fit into the allowed space. I thought I'd share it here, too, with additional commentary.

I read this artcle today:
Midwinter Options: When You Can't Find Peace Without, Choose Peace Within - The Huffington Post

It is a lovely and thoughtful essay on how our surroundings, people around us, and world events contribute to making it very hard to relax and feel "at peace" today. The author talks about the phrase "peace be with you" and wonders how you just MAKE yourself feel peaceful. Go read it; I don't mind.

I see this lack of calm in my friends, many of whom have job or health issues, or (especially those in high school) are getting all angsty about finals. It helps to find some moments of peace. To do that you need to get AWAY from all the things feeding your unrest. How?

Take time every day to turn off that endless feed of stress. Stop reading your email, checking the news, constantly checking everyone's Facebook status, and IMing your stressed out friends. Go in a quiet room, clear your mind and relax. Even ten minutes can help. I try to do this every day, and lately a lot. (I have meditated for years, and only in the past three or four has that not been enough, even for a Highly Sensitive Person like me, to keep on a reasonably even keel.)

There's so much to multitask about. It gets overwhelming. If we can clear our minds and fill ourselves with some peace, it's easier to know what you can do something about and what to let go of.

That's as far as I got on Facebook, and I doubt those who need it will even read it. Here's what I was trying to say in too few words: I really think that the bombardment of bad news, war, financial ruin, personal problems, and life events can sometimes make it hard to think. What to focus on? What to do next? That's why I am urging all the people I know to take a break. Step back. Go inward for a while, in whatever way works for you: meditation, prayer, a nap, drawing, knitting (but NOT with the media blaring at you while doing these things).

I usually find that when I do that, it is easier to discern where to apply your limited energy in the ways it can do the most good. Sometimes that might be doing something about the outer world: giving money to Church World Service to help the people (with families, just like you and me but of a different society) trapped in Gaza, for example. Sometimes it might mean focusing on the immediate: setting friend issues aside to concentrate on meeting a deadline. Sometimes it might mean finding what is positive in your life and reveling in that. The answer will differ every day. But turning off the "noise" for a while every day can help you find that answer.

It's not a solution to hunger, poverty, war or illness, but it's a means to help us live each day more fully participating, not just observing and worrying.

Suna feels preachy today. She'll get over it. Hope you enjoy another photo of the Many Moods of Scrunchy. This time: Scrunchy has goop in his eye.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #1

I decided to start a new feature on each of my blogs, called Wednesday Wonders, where I will write about someone who inspires me in some way. In this blog, I'll talk about various people I know and in the other one, I'll talk more about craft-related inspirations. It is funny, I decide to inaugurate this here in a week when I have hardly interacted with anyone outside my family and coworkers. That made it hard to pick. And no, I'll not cheat by writing about the dog. The Scrunchy photo is my nod to that questionable practice so many knitting (and I guess other) bloggers have of insisting on posting a photo of their beloved pet on every single entry. Even though that pet only can make so many cute faces and/or poses. Scrunchy is no different. Beccano takes dozens of photos of him, but he continues to look like a snaggle-toothed, bulgy-eyed pillow in all of them.

Anyway, since I did get out of the house to take Beccano to his guitar lesson yesterday, I decided that today's Wednesday Wonder will be…Dan of Danny Ray's Music, the store where we have purchased many of our guitars, and where Beccano takes his lessons. He started a new small business in a challenging time, which is something I wish I had the courage to do. And he manages to be a good salesman without being overly pushy. He really tries to sell his customers the right musical instrument for their needs, which is admirable--not trying to sell the most expensive guitar in the store to someone gullible enough to buy it, but who will never use the instrument to its fullest potential or appreciate its fine qualities. If I were a salesperson, that's how I'd like to be (and how I do try to be when I sell people yarn at the yarn shop out of the goodness of my heart). He treats all the customers with respect and seems to have good relationships with the vendors as well. None of that is easy, I am sure. I have been very pleased at how hard he has worked to get Tuba Boy's guitar delivered from the manufacturer--he has been so persistent about calling and checking on it, since it is now two weeks after it was originally scheduled to arrive. I figure it will get here eventually, but he is really trying to track it down.

Dan has hired some wonderful people to be his teachers, as well, which shows a good understanding of people, the qualities it takes to be a good instructor, and the value that music education has for both children and adults (plus the knowledge that it's hard to pass up buying stuff if you are IN the store every week). He seems to pay them fairly, but still the lessons make up a lot of the store's income. That is a good thing, when you know you are selling something VERY optional, like musical equipment. The staff and teachers combine their friendly attitudes and talents to keep the students coming back month after month. It's been nice meeting the other parents!

I was talking to Dan's assistant yesterday, and he said they did 35% better this holiday season than the last. For a relatively new business in a bad economic time, that is just wonderful. I hope this store is around a long time, because family-run businesses are rare nowadays, and I want to support them. I am very impressed with Dan as a person and a businessman. He has practically accomplished the impossible: created a thriving business(and accompanying community) in a suburb during bad times.

Tune in next week to see who the most inspiring person of my week has been!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cute Li'l Carrot

Cute Li'l Carrot
Originally uploaded by sunasak
There's not a lot of excitement going on right now--I've been knitting and watching football, Lee's been fixing up the garage and watching football, and the kids have been playing Rock Band 2, their gift to each other.

So, I'll just show you this cute li'l carrot that's sitting on the coffee table right now. I got it yesterday at the yarn shop (what, you don't get your carrots at the yarn shop?). It was a busy day--all the friends were there, plus they were doing inventory, and lots of customers were coming in (that is good). One young-ish woman was trying to find bulky yarn to make a sleeveless cowled sweater out of, but her sweet little boy, around 3 I'd say, had grown tired of the search. He wanted to go. I was helping her find possible yarns, when the boy said he HAD to leave, because he was "fursty"! I figured I could buy the mom some time by getting him something, so I offered him some water. He followed me (so closely I kept bumping into him) to the supply room, where I got him a plastic cup, then to the bathroom (our only water source), where I managed to keep him from putting his gum into a decorative basket. He was most pleased with his water, and after a sip, he reached into his pocket and extended his hand, declaring, "I have a carrot!" And sure enough, he did. He then said, "It's for YOU!" Well, of course I graciously accepted this curvaceous little thing, and we told his mother, who laughed and said it came from their garden and had looked better before he pulled the green tops off. I guess it was planted on top of a rock, which caused it to curve. I proudly showed my baby carrot to all the knitting friends, who were duly impressed!

It's windy and chilly, so we probably won't do too much today. I need to rest up, since there should be a lot of stuff to do at work next week, and I look forward to that. The people should be back, and that will also be nice. Most of last week it was just me and the neighbor lady, and we are pretty quiet.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolved to Participate in Another Year

So far all I got for 2009 is new hair...and that's just temporary. We had a busy but mostly uneventful New Year's Eve, unlike the usual not much going on. We were invited to TWO parties, plus the kids had a few friends over, so we made sure we were home before midnight to toast with them.

This hair photo commemorates yet another successful straightening. I still can't do it myself, so Former Lovely Girlfriend, who showed up and laughed a lot, was kind enough to wrestle my hair into a straighter shape using the straightening thing I got the kids but they never used. I am just not talented with hair.

We left FLG and Parker (who was here because apparently her family is even more boring than ours) entertaining the boys, and headed off to the traditional party of our church friends. It was not bad at all, and featured Austin's delicious eggnog (literally the best, most delicious, most calorie-filled and most alcoholic eggnog on earth) and a few amusing and interesting folks. But we had to leave...

...and we went to the party of our former boss at ALE, which was at her sister's house. We enjoyed looking at their home renovations and talking about home improvement with some folks who live near us and are band parents, too, but we didn't stay too long. We didn't want to be driving scary back roads with people lighting fireworks all over them. Which we ended up doing anyway.

Back at home, FLG had gone to some trendier party, no doubt, and was replaced by the Two Debate Guys. They were amusing as usual, though not to Parker and Beccano who left them to watch television upstairs. I don't know WHY watching guys play Magic isn't fascinating...but we arrived in time to toast the new year with sparkling cider and spumante (man, those kids really chugged that cider). So, it was an OK start to a new year that I hope brings more stability to our lives.

And yesterday I knitted a lot, and made the delicously traditional black-eyed peas, collards, rice and cornbread for me. For Lee there was his dad's salad and a lovely herbed roast he made. The kids at it all most heartily.

Resolutions? My hope is that my new feeling of peace and calm will last a while. I noticed that I have stopped just trying to get through the next week, month or season, and am actually enjoying the present again. Even though challenge remain, it seems like our lives have stabilized and that we enjoy each other and can move forward. Having work will always be an issue, but we are now handling that better, too. So, for 2009 I just want to resolve to hunker down and ride out the economic troubles by enjoying the time spent with my family and friends, making music, cooking, talking, knitting and laughing.

I am glad for the friends I've made this year, and for the old ones who remain (like Elisabeth, who I talked to for the longest time last night--ahhh, that was good). I wish you all good food, friends and fun.