Saturday, January 17, 2009

Having a Ball for the Inaguration

I have good news and not so good news and just plain news.

The good news is, that on Tuesday, WE WILL HAVE AN AWESOME PRESIDENT! To celebrate, anyone who knows us is welcome to come by the house, watch the inaguration on TV, watch replays of the inaguration on TV, watch replays of the inaguration on TV and enjoy some snacky-type food (veggies, fruit, chicken wings and pickles, to start). Kind of like the Superbowl, only better.

The just plain news is that I've decided not to go to the inaguration. My hip is doing weird things and I don't wnat my step-mom to have to deal with my whiney lame butt. Also, the more I think about standing in a large crowd (which sometimes makes me clausterphobic) in the cold (the last couple of days here have been below zero at night) and not close enough to see the action (except on a big screen), I think that enjoying the festivities eating pickles and popcorn sounds good as well. The main thing is, WE WILL HAVE AN AWESOME PRESIDENT ON TUESDAY!!!!!

More just news: We are running out of miles on the lease for the truck, so we are shopping for another one.

More just news: Friday I had a CT scan and chest xray, not for anything serious, just a follow up to all the cancer stuff. I love berium, steroids and benedryl. Yum.

The not so good news (other than the aformentioned hinkey hip) is that yet again my bloodwork came back high. The last 2 times that happened, it was back down to lower than ever a month later. I'm not going to stress over it at this point, as I've said before-I'm probably one of those people for whom the CA125 is useless as a cancer indicator.

For those of you who plan on dropping by Tuesday, send me or Deb an e-mail or call us just to let us know how many people to plan for. Feel free to bring friends. I don't know what time the inaguration festivities start, but we'll try to have clothes on by at least an hour beforehand. The door will be open until the cows come home that night.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Life's Inventory

(Written on January 11, 2009)

Deb and I went to a funeral today to celebrate the life of a woman named Joann Downing. I didn't know Joann very well, but the time I did spend with her, even when she was in the hospital last year, she was insightful and working toward making this world a better place.

As I listened to those closer to her speak, I had to begin to take stock of my own life; my own passion to create a better world. I've gotta confess, my contribution has been far less than stellar.

There are several people that I know and admire for working to make this world a better place. Some days I wish I had their courage and committment. Just a few of those bright lights that I haold up as examples of Being the Change that they want to see in the world include people such as: John Straw, Ellen Mettler, Sue Kirby, Joann Downing, Holly Lubecki, Marguerite O'Brien, Rayna Bick, John Helsom and Marion and Van Van Winkle. These are just a few that come to mind. (I'll add a "My Heroes" list in the side column, update and change it periodically if you are interested in following this train of gratitude.)

No amount of my phansiful philosophising will change the world. I need to get off my butt, out of my house and commit to being the change that I want to see in the world. There are so many things I have to do, that I let my volunteering get lost in the business of daily living: work, school, sleep when I can, socialize when I can, write if I can. Somehow, I have set aside many of those things that move me to be a better person in order to enjoy my own selfish desires.

So, how does one go about re-prioritizing their life in order to save the world one mitzvah at a time? Better yet, how does one decide what comforts or conveniences to set aside in trade for a peaceful soul and more fulfilled sense of one's own humanity? How does one (me) get out of that rut that I so often rant about: that American trap of haveing an overinflated sense of entitlement?

Someone, it may have been MLK or Ghandi, or someone else, I'm not sure, said that everyone should have something in their life that is worth dying for. Meaning that that type of committment and dedication point toward one's destiny, passion and life fulfillment. I don't know if I have yet found that thing, except maybe Ana and Maddie. But they are people that I love, not causes for justice or mindful humanity. They are not faceless others that I can reach out to annonymously and improve their life experiences. They are only two, not a plethera of people needing rescure. They are simply souls who love, just like me. Does that count in the grand scheme of things?

Today, I have no answers, only questions. But today, my hypothesis is that usually the questions in life are more important than the answers.

Paleontology or Palintology, Philosophy or History

(Written on January 8, 2009)

On Monday, I started my classes for winter semester. I'm taking Philosophical Foundations of World Religions and Human Origins and Prehistory. It should be interesting, studying human culture from biological, evolutionary, philosophical and religious perspectives all at once.

The philosophy class is actually being taught like anthropology, sociology or history more than as a philosophy class. We will be reading ABOUT philosophies from around the world rather than actually reading the sacred texts themselves. I was disappointed about that, but finding out that we will be learning about things like ceremonial gardening, tatooing, storytelling and sacred dances kind of makes up for that. I heard from a few of my classmates that the philosophy professor is a good professor.

So far, the one text, "World Philosophies" has not told me much about philosophies in terms of beliefs on proper ways to be a human, but instead on origin myths and how their interpretations changed throughout history. More history than philosophy. I'm still waiting for the other text to show up so I can start digging in. I think what bothers me about this first text isn't so much that it is history, but that it is a dry chronicaling of history with names, dates, places, writings listed in the way that my high school (and earlier) history textbooks only related history as a bunch of dates, leader names, battles, number dead and who won. There was no life to it-or rather, no lives. Those types of histories never bring history alive the way reading or hearing about someone's experience in confronting an unjust world with a mirror of its sins, such as Martin Luther King or even Jesus did. History is so much more alive when you can hear a song that was the underlying story of the time. History speaks directly to the student when the direct words of Thomas Jefferson, Homer, Virginia Woolf or Saint Teresa are directly read, rather than explained in the third person by some academian. Not only does history come alive, but the philosophical, intellectual and spiritual depth has not been processed out. I have a fear that this philosophy class may be like mental and spiritual squishy white bread when I really crave whole wheat kernels and rolled oats baked into a crusty brown bread illuminated with seeds and crunchy bits of insight and challenge. I'm going to give it "the olde college try" because I want to find out more about ceremonial gardening and dancing and other religiuous practices. Since we'll be studying the living ritual aspects of religion, I wonder if he'll talk about the way the Inuit Shamans used ceremony and masks to call in animals to hunt. I have a book about that which I read 12-14 years ago. It was intriguing, and sad that when missionaries went to Alaska at the beginning of the 1900s, they destroyed most of the masks and did everything they could to destroy the native culture, language, rituals and religious lives of the people there. The history of that religion was brought back to life through anthropological research and interviews of very old Inuits.

In Anthropology, I'll have to learn some anatomy. Evolution is the name of the game in that class. Our professor, on the first day, talked quite at length about why science and religion can co-exist and that evolution is a scientific theory with empirical evidence to back it up, while creationism is a myth or belief system without empirical substantiation. I think it's ridiculous that a science professor should even have to justify her subject matter because a few zealots believe she is going to hell and dragging her students along with her.

Did I ever tell you about one of my 3 freshman year rommates at MSU who belonged to a religious group called Maranatha? At that time, I still strongly believed that Christianity was THE final word on how I should live my life. However, I understood it very differently than the way Jean and her friends did. Jean had a boyfiriend who she was engaged to. He determined what classes she could take, when to eat, what extracurricular activities she was allowed to participate in, and who she was allowed to be friends with (he hadn't yet figured out that my Christianity was not the same as his).

I once asked her why she allowed him to dictate her life to her. She replied that the bible said that women are to be completely obedient to men. I asked where. She said that in Genesis, God created man first, then woman in order for her to serve him. She said that she knew this was a true story because our bodies still bear the proof of it, after all "men have one less rib than women." My mouth dropped open, my eyes popped out and I stammered, "if you really believe that, you need to take an anatomy class." She was surprised and unconvinced that men were not short one rib.

Less than a week later, her fiance directed her to move out of our room and never have contact with me again. She complied with his God-given directives to her. I still feel sorry for her.

Anyway, as I sat in my first two evolution of bones class, I thought of Jean and I wondered, twenty two years later, if she still believes that men have one less rib than women. I wonder if she and Sarah Palin took the same Natural Science class. It must have been called Palintology: A Dogmatic Justification for Chosen Ignorance Through Complete Denial of the World as God Evolved It. (Or, Palintology: The Study of When Man and Dinosaurs Walked the Earth Together and Women Followed After.)